March 31, 2007

jk Defends John Travolta

Instapundit calls it "More Celebrity Global Warming Hypocrisy." This Is London says With five private jets, Travolta still lectures on global warming. And I settled in for a feast of self rigorousness at a Scientologist’s expense. What a great Saturday.

Travolta owns five jets, and a mansion with a private runway. He logged 30,000 flying miles in 12 months.

But the hypocrisy charge is a little thin. At a gala glitteratifest, Travolta suggested that people "can do their bit;" that's hardly hectoring. He suggested alternative fuels; President Bush is Federally funding them. He wants to colonize other planets and build domed cities; that does not comport with Vice President Gore's solutions.

They excerpted the following quotes:

"It [global warming] is a very valid issue," Travolta declared. "I'm wondering if we need to think about other planets and dome cities.

"Everyone can do their bit. But I don't know if it's not too late already. We have to think about alternative methods of fuel.

"I'm probably not the best candidate to ask about global warming because I fly jets.


I give the man points for admitting his glass house (with private runway) and seeking technological solutions. He didn't tell anybody to live in a cave.

We now resume ThreeSources's anti-celebrity, DAWG denyin' editorial content in progress...


But AlexC thinks:

You know.... most religions allow sinners to repent (or, Catholic history, look the otherway while taking money).... Our Lady of Global Warming is no different.

Posted by: AlexC at April 1, 2007 4:54 PM

March 30, 2007

That Supply and Demand Thing

I glanced at this item in the Wall Street Journal this morning. But only after receiving a 91.7% gloat-free email from Josh at Everyday Economist did I think to relate it to a previous discussion at ThreeSources.

It seems that a record corn crop is being planted this year, the most corn planted since 1944. "The market reacted immediately this morning, fearing that a large crop would flood the market with corn. At the Chicago Board of Trade corn prices were down by 20 cents -- the daily limit -- to about $3.70."

Weather and additional Ethanol demand might keep prices up, as the article states -- but I'm inclined to trust the Chicago Merc more than a WSJ reporter. One has to admit that it is pretty classic demonstration: corn demand increases -> corn price increases -> farmers plant more corn -> corn replacement supply increases -> corn price decreases.

Corn planting will be higher this year in most farming states, taking away acres from soybean, cotton and rice production, the USDA said. Farmers in Illinois, North Dakota and Minnesota will each plant record-breaking corn crops for their states. Louisiana, a major rice-producing state, will plant 700,000 acres of corn this year, more than double the acreage in 2006, the USDA said.

Across the plains, farmers have placed big bets on where the price of corn will go in 2007. They are preparing to plant more corn than they have in decades, spending more on seed and fertilizer, investing in new equipment and buying crop insurance against the possibility of bad weather. Some are signing futures contracts to lock in prices now; some are holding off in the hope that prices will climb higher.


Somebody should tell Congress about this Economics thing, I think it's gonna be big.

Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 6:19 PM

Deniers

In a comment blog brother AlexC claims that "...90% of Americans believe in God." Personally I thought the figure was closer to 97 percent, so I googled the string american belief god poll and learned that the 97% figure comes from a University of Minnesota study that estimated atheists at 3%. Actual surveys put the number around 10%, in line with AC's claim.

The U of M study must be in error though because a recent Gallup poll, as cited by the LA Times Ed page, ranks atheism as the most objectionable of a long list of political negatives. (If 10% of people will admit to atheism, a greater number must secretly harbor the disbelief belief.)

In a Gallup poll last month, 53% of respondents said they would not vote for an otherwise well-qualified atheist — far more than wouldn't vote for a homosexual (43%), a 72-year-old (42%), someone married for the third time (30%), a Mormon (24%) or a woman (11%).

It is such a black mark that the "Secular Coalition for America" used a new word to replace atheist: "nontheist." [Shouldn't it be non-theist?]

"Nontheist," by the way, is the latest secularist term of art for folks "without a god-belief," replacing the traditional terms "atheist" and "agnostic." (The former believes there is no God; the latter isn't sure.) But the American Humanist Assn. — and who's not a humanist? — prefers nontheist because most Americans wrongly think that atheists are anti-theists: people who not only don't believe but also object to others' belief in God(s).

(For the record, I outed myself as atheist when atheism was less un-cool than it apparently is now.)

Philosophy Posted by JohnGalt at 3:17 PM

"Massacre?"

ThreeSources should collect the most overwrought statements about the US Attorney firings. I wonder if I am up to the task.

Honorable mention goes to Senator Leahy (Devil Incarnate -- VT) who wondered aloud in a Press Conference "what a witness was hiding" when that witness chose to exercise Fifth Amendment rights. This man is head of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, and he equates 5th Amendment rights with guilt.

Elections matter.

But his eyebrowness was eclipsed by the Editors of The New Republic. An editorial today, Bush bends the law beyond recognition, compares the attorney firings with Nixon's Saturday Night Massacre.

In the historical race to the bottom that is Nixon v. Bush, the late trickster would seem to have the edge: He was an unimpeachable lawbreaker--actually, an impeachable one--a claim that doesn't quite stick to Bush. But, in the last month, Bush has been closing fast. While he may not have any second-rate burglaries under his belt, his record now includes his very own version of the Saturday Night Massacre, thanks to the purging of eight U.S. attorneys.

So, firing a prosecutor who is prosecuting you carries no weight with the boys at TNR. Just the same as what President Bush did. Months of emails and memos and document sifting by the Democrats have turned up no evidence of malfeasance. But -- hang on, this is the best part -- that's what makes Bush so bad, he hasn't broken any laws. Damn, what a clever cover:
It's true that his behavior in this episode may not runup the score in compulsory categories like obstruction of justice or lying under oath. But the fact that he has inflicted massive damage on the American system without apparently breaking many laws should earn Bush major style points.

I smell Rove here. What a fiendish plot, not breaking laws.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 3:16 PM

Murtha: The Draft Is Absolutely Needed

I could have sworn in 2004, a Bush victory would have led to a draft.

Sworn!

Murtha is a Democrat, in case anyone forgot.

(tip to Extreme Mortman who titles his post, Murtha, Wind and Fire)

110th Congress Posted by AlexC at 2:49 PM

Consensus

Josh at Everyday Economist picks up on an interesting comment that a reader sent to Don Luskin.

Now, let me get this straight.

When we are talking about climate change, “consensus” is invoked as the ultimate argument that this is, after all “settled science.” Breaking with that consensus gets one labeled anti-intellectual, anti-science. One is a “denier,” with its interwoven echoes of holocaust deniers and “being in denial” in the pop-psychological sense. It is prima facie evidence of being stupid or in the pay of big energy.

On the other hand, when we are talking about free trade, the argument that “99% of economists since the days of Adam Smith” are free traders, which might be taken to be “consensus,” appears to be unpersuasive…


In-freakin-deed.

But AlexC thinks:

I'm waiting to drop the 90% of Americans believe in God consensus bomb on my liberal-atheist-global-warming-will-kill-us-all-if-King-George-doesnt-volvo driving arch-nemesis.

Posted by: AlexC at March 30, 2007 2:51 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Excellent point AC. Various governments in the U.S. are already implementing compulsory measures to "reduce greenhouse gas emissions" based upon the global warming "consensus." In each of those jurisdictions it is now time for mandatory school prayer (out loud), civil fines for missed church services, and a replacement of civil law with God's law because "nobody worthy of serious consideration now denies the absolute existence of God."

Posted by: johngalt at March 30, 2007 3:24 PM
But jk thinks:

I wade into this thread with severe trepidation but I'll add Taranto's point that a 58% majority believed the Earth was created in six days. vs. 63% who believed in global warming.

As long as we're doing science by democracy...

Posted by: jk at March 30, 2007 3:37 PM

Review Corner Red Alert

Don't. Don't. Don't purchase or rent "Happy Feet." Resist the allure of adorable, dancing animated penguins.

I found this to be the most offensive movie I have ever seen. Watching nature shows and kids' cartoons, one frequently is hit with an unmistakable subtext that people are bad and that we should extinct ourselves or move back to caves. In this movie, it is not subtext, it is the actual plot.

When you're not offended, you will be bored to tears. Dancing penguins are cute for a few minutes, then the film jumps among dull, disjointed, and offensive -- with a little abject terror thrown in to make it inappropriate for toddlers who would otherwise be the only demographic intellectually unoffended.

A half a star, and I am being kind.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 10:49 AM | What do you think? [4]
But AlexC thinks:

Did you see "The Family Stone?"

There's a movie that can get a guy mad.

A ensemble cast of liberals are a typical liberal family for Christmas (what? not winter-fest) who welcome the prodigal son and his very square conservative fiancee to their home.

Hilarity ensues as they "tolerate" her conservatism.

Posted by: AlexC at March 30, 2007 2:53 PM
But jk thinks:

My previous aggravation king was "Wall Street."

I contend that "Happy Feet" is still more insidious. "Family Stone" sounds bad but it targets one political group, Wall Street targets our economic system, Happy Feet attacks the entire human species! ("They're like Penguins but with featherless, fat faces...")

Also, the attempted inculcation of children is worrisome. Try to get your daughter to eat a fish stick after seeing Happy Feet, you vicious family of penguin starvers, you!

Posted by: jk at March 30, 2007 3:32 PM
But dagny thinks:

Don't Penguins eat fish?

Posted by: dagny at March 31, 2007 7:24 PM
But jk thinks:

Not to give away the ending, but overfishing by people (filthy disgusting beings!) don't leave enough fish for the penguins -- or the gulls, forcing the gulls to eat penguins and the penguins to starve.

The DVD cones with a card of responsible fish choices from seafood watch.

Overfishing is a real concern and the archetypal explanation of "The Commons Problem" in economics. I hate to make light, but the enviros solution is, of course, to program children to nag their parents about consumption.

I should do a "mash up" video and turn the story into an economics lesson for the little young-uns. Penguins, dancing or not, face one of the most Hobbsian existences on the planet. I'd love to use the same footage to show the benefits of comparative advantage, innovation, trade, and, yes, commercial food harvesting and production.

I just read an article in Reason, however, where RIAA jacketed agents participated in a no-knock SWAT-style raid on a NYC hip hop studio. So I am suppressed by the Government from voicing my beliefs.

Posted by: jk at April 1, 2007 2:04 PM

March 29, 2007

The Real Front Line in the Iraq War

I place great importance on the lessons of history. Unfortunately, having lived only since the early sixties (and having a mediocre public school education influenced by John Dewey) I wasn't aware of a counterinsurgency war in the fifties - fought by France and the Algerian government against Muslim extremists in that country - until today.

Arthur Herman, retired professor of History at George Mason and Georgetown Universities, explains on today's WSJ Ed page how the French ultimately defeated the combatants on foreign soil but were ultimately forced to surrender to them anyway.

What happened was this: while the French military had been concentrating on fighting the insurgency in the streets and mountains in Algeria, an intellectual and cultural insurgency at home, led by the French left and the media, had been scoring its own succession of victories.

(...)

Led by Jean-Paul Sartre, a campaign of denunciation got under way in which French forces were accused of being the equivalent of Nazis--an especially freighted charge coming only a decade and a half after World War II and the German occupation of France. Simone de Beauvoir, Sartre's companion, went so far as to say that the sight of a French army uniform had "the same effect on me that swastikas once did." Although many of the antiwar agitators were communists or leftist fellow travelers, their petitions and demonstrations included enough authentic heroes of the Resistance and eminent liberals like Francois Mauriac to bestow upon the movement a credible public image. The constant message it conveyed was that the true authors of violence in Algeria were not the FLN at all but the French, and that only when the latter departed would Algerians be able to sort out their destiny for themselves.

The French military and political leadership was completely blindsided by the attack. No amount of justification of the selective use of torture, not even the cancellation of the original authorization, could halt the criticism or stem the loss of public support for the war. Even as the FLN took to setting off bombs in France itself, leftist Catholic priests continued to raise funds for it, while those like Albert Camus who harbored doubts about the wisdom of handing victory to the terrorists were derided and silenced. The consensus that had informed French politics as late as 1956--namely, that abandoning Algeria was "unthinkable and unmentionable"--fell apart.

Divisions over Algeria doomed France's Fourth Republic. For its successor, the price of political survival was handing over Algeria to a totalitarian band that had lost the war on the battlefield but managed to win a stunning victory in France itself. The result was the massive flight of Algerian whites and, at home, a bloodbath as FLN terrorists put to death tens of thousands of Muslim Algerians who had been loyal to the French regime. Soldiers who had fought alongside the French were forced to swallow their medals before they were shot.

The "surge" is underway in Iraq. While long overdue it is, as Herman describes earlier in the piece, showing remarkable progress. [Read the whole thing.] But to avoid the same fate described above, America's domestic leaders need to initiate an intellectual surge on the home front. The survival of Iraqi patriots, and of America's ability to champion liberty anywhere in the world, hang in the balance.

But jk thinks:

One aspect of the comparison is inapt. The French ran Algeria as a colony. I am all for coalescing free Western nations and all but the French had much more to be guilty about.

Posted by: jk at March 29, 2007 4:55 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Al Qaeda and their domestic apologists would certainly refer to Iraq as an American "colony" if they thought that would sour the American public's support for the counterinsurgency. Perhaps when "civil war" grows stale.

The vital point is that the Democrats, as tools of the far left, CAN lose this war for us if they aren't opposed in the arena of ideas. But they should be careful: Imagine how much more evil Bush will be to them when he declares a state of emergency and funds continued military action in Iraq by executive order - without congressional approval. I would support such a thing rather than see a repeat of Vietnam (or Algiers.)

Posted by: johngalt at March 29, 2007 5:31 PM

Hope Congress Is Reading the NYTimes

Our 535 Bankers-in-Chief are posed to do to mortgage lending what they did to public corporate finance. Ruin it.

I am disturbed for a few reasons. The biggest, of course, is knowing that the market will heal its own problems faster, cheaper and better than will new regulation. Secondly, I am baffled by the phrase "predatory lending." In a better world, that would be an amusing joke: some evil banker in a blue pinstripe suit is lending too much money to people who shouldn't be borrowing -- put these guys behind bars!

Mostly, the Hayekian in me hates the idea that Congress is going to restrict the choices that people are offered. Reps Waxman, Dingell, and Frank are prepared to decide what financial vehicles are good and which are bad, when lenders, borrowers, and experiment should make those choices.

The NYTimes has a smart piece in the Business section today by University of Chicago Economics professor Austan Goolsbee. He looks at the people who have been able to buy a home because of innovations in subprime finance, not the small minority who are facing foreclosure:

When Senator Christopher J. Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut, gave his opening statement last week at the hearings lambasting the rise of “risky exotic and subprime mortgages,” he was actually tapping into a very old vein of suspicion against innovations in the mortgage market.

Almost every new form of mortgage lending — from adjustable-rate mortgages to home equity lines of credit to no-money-down mortgages — has tended to expand the pool of people who qualify but has also been greeted by a large number of people saying that it harms consumers and will fool people into thinking they can afford homes that they cannot.

Congress is contemplating a serious tightening of regulations to make the new forms of lending more difficult. New research from some of the leading housing economists in the country, however, examines the long history of mortgage market innovations and suggests that regulators should be mindful of the potential downside in tightening too much.


Regulators are not by nature mindful and are having hearings to work up to the high dudgeon required to craft the next SarbOx. These champions of the people are going to make home ownership a privilege of the rich to prevent the poor from facing foreclosure.

I am a subprime disciple. I refinanced my house to stay alive while I was funding a start-up. I got a decent loan with no income thanks to my home value and good credit rating. After said start up went bust, I refinanced again to cover losses and medical bills. I chose an interest-only mortgage. Interest only is frequently derided and will probably be the first financial instrument the 110th Congress makes illegal.

It's an awesome mortgage. I pay interest and escrow every month to keep Countrywide happy. The first year and a half, I paid higher interest debt, now I am getting around to reducing the principal. This was a good move and I am glad I had the option to choose it. Even now, I face an interesting choice. I should probably increase my tax-deferred 401K payments rather than pay down my tax-deductible home mortgage.

It's my choice. But I fear others will have their choices made for them by Congress. That is, those who can get a loan at all when this is over.

Hat-tip: Greg Mankiw's Blog

But johngalt thinks:

Congress won't decide... "mommy" will.

Posted by: johngalt at March 29, 2007 3:01 PM

March 28, 2007

Professors Mankiw vs. Blinder

Like Don McLean in "American Pie" I get overwhelmed on occasion with bad news. The Senate has voted for surrender, and the Wall Street Journal news pages have endorsed a paper citing greater than anticipated consequences of free trade.

This is like President Bush capitulating to the DAWG crowd. Prepare to hear Senators Jim Webb and John Edwards intone "even the Wall Street Journal said..." Nobody will read this paper or understand it, but it will be taken as proof positive that Smith, Mises, Hayek, and Friedman were wrong. "Didn't you hear? I read that that had been completely debunked?"

I didn't have the chops to take Alan Blinder on, but I knew one of my betters would.

Greg Mankiw comes to the rescue in My Father is Darth Vader (Blinder was a professor of his).

For some reason, Alan does not respond to this rise in technology-driven offshoring as he would to a rise in policy-driven trade. But economic logic suggests that if he is to embrace tariff reductions as an economic positive, he should similarly embrace technology-driven trade increases an an economic positive. But instead of recognizing this change as primarily a force for good, he offers mainly hand-wringing. In doing so, he gives, perhaps unintentially, aid and comfort to the protectionists.

Amen to that last fear. Today and yesterday were bad days for freedom.

Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 4:03 PM

"Milton Friedman" Giuliani

I fell completely into the Rudy-Oh-Eight fold last Monday night. He appeared on Kudlow & Company and hit every question out of the park. Stephen Moore was also impressed, suggesting we might call him "Milton Friedman Giuliani." Larry was ready to throw in Mises and Hayek. There's a clip from the show posted on Reason Magazine - Hit & Run where David Weigel talks about the appearance and a rumor that Steve Forbes is signing on with Hizzoner.

It's easy to forget with the dulcet tones of Arthur Branch massaging our ears, but Rudy Giuliani is still the frontrunner for the GOP nomination. Two nights ago he appeared on Larry Kudlow's goofy CNBC show* and talked almost exclusively about economics, at one point sounding like he regretted his days as a grandstanding, trader-busting U.S. Attorney.

* Weigel explains: "*I like Kudlow's economics, but he's way too prone to linking movement in the stock market to things traders don't care about but right-wingers do. " I can see plenty of areas where a pure, big-L libertarian would break camp with Kudlow. But it is an astonishing aberration to have a show like Kudlow's on TV. Kudlow & Company is about the only place you're going to hear classical-liberal economics espoused.

Giuliani was outstanding on every question. My friends are enjoying the Sen. Fred Thompson boomlet, and I think highly of the Senator (though I have never seen his TV show). Thompson's continuing support of McCain-Feingold bothers me more than Giuliani’s unfortunate position on guns. It seems far more likely that the next President would be involved in campaign finance than in gun rights.

UPDATE: Forbes endorses Giuliani. and will serve as campaign co-chair and senior policy advisor. Hat-tip Instapundit

UPDATE II: Cultural illiterates like me will need to be told that Arthur Branch is "a fictional character on the long-running TV crime drama Law & Order, portrayed by former United States Senator Fred Dalton Thompson." -- Wikipedia.

2008 Race Posted by John Kranz at 2:57 PM

Betting on the Lottery

Not powerball. More and more parents are forced to pin their hopes of their children's future on a charter school lottery.

John Stossel showed some footage of one of these on his TV special, "Stupid in America." I found it to be one of the singularly saddest things I have ever seen on television. People who cannot afford to move to another district or attend private schools show up for a government lottery to award the scarce seats in a public charter school.

The Wall Street Journal Ed page today suggests that New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver attend one of these lotteries. Silver opposes raising the caps that New York places on such schools.

The public charter school, which opened last year, is holding an admissions lottery at 6 p.m. to fill 105 kindergarten slots for next year from the 500 or so families who've applied for them. Harlem Success was founded by Eva Moskowitz, a reform-minded Democrat who formerly served as a New York City Councilwoman specializing in education issues.

In an interview this week, Ms. Moskowitz described the naked emotions on display at such lotteries, which are a common method for deciding who gets to attend these independently run public schools. "I thought I knew a lot about school choice and ed reform," she said. "But until I'd done the lottery last year I didn't understand the desperation.

"Unlike their middle-class counterparts who can use real estate to determine where their kid is going to school, my exclusively black and Latino parents' only option is to go through this process. And literally, people are praying and shaking and hoping to get into a school."


You lose the Colorado State Lottery, you're out a buck. You lose this lottery, you've lost a chance at getting a good education for your child. This is unconscionable.

Education Posted by John Kranz at 2:43 PM

March 27, 2007

CornHuskers For Surrender

ThreeSources friend The Everyday Economist, emails a link to this article and suggests that "Somewhere, Osama is smiling."

Sad to see the US Senate voting for defeat. Curious to me was that the reasonably red state of Nebraska supplied both the switchers that allowed this one to pass.

Similar legislation drew only 48 votes in the Senate earlier this month, but Democratic leaders made a change that persuaded Nebraska's Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson to swing behind the measure.

Additionally, Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, a vocal critic of the war, sided with the Democrats, assuring them of the majority they needed to turn back a challenge led by Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss.

Insert your own Taranto joke about Senator Hegel, I would be surprised if many of the good people I know in that great state will be happy that their two Senators gift wrapped this present for enemies.

Freedom on the March Posted by John Kranz at 6:21 PM

More Mommy Party

ThreeSources friend and commentress Dagny (who may or may not forgive me for that intro) made a superb point about "Why Mommy is a Democrat."

Dagny asked -- properly -- "Why would anyone consider it a good thing, or even an appropriate thing for a government to perform the same functions as a Mommy?"

David Boaz of the Cato Institute runs with that riff in a TCSDaily column, It Takes a Hillage

Even when the government doesn't step in to take children from their parents, Clinton sees it constantly advising, nagging, hectoring parents: "Videos with scenes of commonsense baby care -- how to burp an infant, what to do when soap gets in his eyes, how to make a baby with an earache comfortable -- could be running continuously in doctors' offices, clinics, hospitals, motor vehicle offices, or any other place where people gather and have to wait," she writes. The childcare videos could alternate with videos on the Food Pyramid, the evils of smoking and drugs, the need for recycling, the techniques of safe sex, the joys of physical fitness, and all the other things the responsible adult citizens of a complex modern society need to know. Sort of like the telescreen in Orwell's 1984 -- or the YouTube video.
[...]
Too often these days, the government treats adult citizens as children. It takes more and more money from those who produce it, doling it back to us like an allowance, through a smorgasbord of "transfer programs" ranging from Head Start and student loans to farm subsidies, corporate welfare, unemployment programs, and Social Security. It doesn't trust us to decide for ourselves (even in consultation with our doctors) what medicines to take, or where our children should go to school, or what we can access through our computers.

Many conservatives want to be your daddy, telling you what to do and what not to do, and many liberals want to be your mommy, feeding you, tucking you in, and setting your curfew. But the proper role for the government of a free society is to treat adults as adults, responsible for making their own decisions and accepting the consequences.


What a concept.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 12:47 PM | What do you think? [1]
But dagny thinks:

I'll take whatever intro I can get. :-) The concepts of individual rights and personal responsibility go hand in hand and are (or were) cornerstones of the American way of life.

They are sadly losing their prominence in our culture to be replaced with nanny-statism and blame placing. This is philosophically one of the scariest things I see today. Does anyone see any way to correct this slide?

The only contribution I see that I can make is to raise my children to defend individual rights and take responsibility for their actions. The 2 year old seems to be pretty good about the first but we're still working on the second.

Posted by: dagny at March 27, 2007 7:26 PM

Don't Use Yesterday's BusinessSpeak

If you have a meeting today, be sure to show how hip and up to date you are: use the word "bucket."

Business Types Get a New Kick Out of the 'Bucket' (Paid link, sorry!)

Suddenly, the humble bucket has become a trendy fixture of corporate boardrooms and PowerPoint presentations. It is pushing aside other business-speak for describing categories or organizational units, such as silo and basket.

"People are using it everywhere now," says Tom Rath, a management consultant and author of "How Full Is Your Bucket?" His book, which has been translated into more than 20 languages since its publication in 2004, advocates praise in the workplace. Mr. Rath's consulting firm has even begun selling readers metal buckets to place on their desks. Their purpose: to receive "drops" of praise from colleagues for a job well done.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:59 AM

March 26, 2007

Iran Hostage Crisis - Day 3

We can only hope that the 15 British servicemen taken hostage on March 23 by Mahmoud and the boys will be released unharmed faster than the 52 Americans taken hostage at our own embassy during Jimmy Carter's presidency. This certainly seems to be a return to form by the Iranian president who, many claim, took part in that very kidnapping in 1979.

For his part, British PM Blair is getting tough. "The Iranians should not be in any doubt over how seriously we take this act, which was unjustified and wrong." At the same time, an American lieutenant commander echoes a question that occured to me when I first heard of this: "Why didn't your guys defend themselves?"

"I don't want to second-guess the British after the fact, but our rules of engagement allow a little more latitude. Our boarding team's training is a little bit more towards self-preservation."

"The unique US Navy rules of engagement say we not only have a right to self-defence but also an obligation to self-defence."

"They had every right, in my mind, every justification to defend themselves rather than allow themselves to be taken. Our reaction was, 'Why didn't your guys defend themselves?"'

Asked whether the men under his command would have fired at the Iranians, Commander Horner said: "Agreed. Yes."

If they had a reputation for defending themselves, perhaps they would not have been the target of Iranian Revolutionary Guards' elaborate plot to manufacture an international crisis.

Iran Posted by JohnGalt at 3:01 PM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

Nice post. Many things might have deterred this, but I fear that Ahmadinijad might have correctly surmised that Britain and the US are too fatigued to pursue a military solution.

I don't think the military is, but they do get CNN and see a new Congress trying to extricate us from the MidEast.

Are they right?

Posted by: jk at March 26, 2007 7:26 PM

March 25, 2007

The Yoke

In case you were wondering...

[The Tax Foundation] find that America's lowest-earning one-fifth of households received roughly $8.21 in government spending for each dollar of taxes paid in 2004. Households with middle-incomes received $1.30 per tax dollar, and America's highest-earning households received $0.41. Government spending targeted at the lowest-earning 60 percent of U.S. households is larger than what they paid in federal, state and local taxes. In 2004, between $1.03 trillion and $1.53 trillion was redistributed downward from the two highest income quintiles to the three lowest income quintiles through government taxes and spending policy.

It still ain't fair... the poor hardly pay any taxes!

Read all here.


March 24, 2007

Speaker Pelosi's Big Win

I almost put scare quotes around win, but the war appropriations bill was a win for the new Speaker. It was a loss for the country and for freedom, but elections matter and I'm afraid that's a dichotomy we'll need to get used to.

The Wall Street Journal Ed Page scare quotes the victory metaphorically (free link). Most notable is how hard this victory was to achieve. The clear mandate she thought they had received last November took a little greasing -- well, larding -- to push through.

The lengths that Democratic leaders had to go to win their "triumph" betrayed its cynicism. To get her narrow majority of 218 votes, Ms. Pelosi and Appropriations Chairman David Obey had to load it up like a farm bill: $74 million for peanut storage, $25 million for spinach growers, $283 million for dairy farmers--all told, some $20 billion in vote-buying earmarks of the kind Democrats campaigned against last year.

Even at that price, they could win over a mere two Republicans: antiwar Members Wayne Gilchrest of Maryland and Walter Jones of North Carolina. We hope GOP primary voters note those votes well. Given how the war hurt so many Republicans last November, this GOP solidarity is notable and a credit to the minority leadership.


Bravo to the house GOP caucus; Leader McConnell, you're up next, slay this porcine perversion.

110th Congress Posted by John Kranz at 12:50 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

And, I'm pleased to add, Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-Atlantis Farm) voted no.

Posted by: johngalt at March 24, 2007 2:09 PM
But jk thinks:

Congrats, your Congresswoman can only be bought with a high price!

I can't talk. No doubt Rep. Mark Udall (D - Chez jk) jumped up and down to be the first to vote for defeat.

Posted by: jk at March 26, 2007 3:59 PM

Mister Gore Goes to Washington

Mr Gore goes to Washington.jpg

Reuters: Glad-handing like the lifelong politician he was until losing the 2000 presidential race to George W. Bush, Gore called his return to Congress "an emotional occasion."

As a former Washington insider, Gore knows how to play the game:

Former British journalist Lord Christopher Monckton of Brenchley says he was not surprised Gore intentionally violated a rule requiring him to submit his written testimony 48 hours before the congressional hearings.

And Gore fillibustered during Sen. Inhofe's allotted 15 minutes, trying to avoid more pointed questions like, "Are you ready to change the way you live," as Gore himself asked viewers at the end of his propaganda movie.

Or, just wait until the committee chairmen are Democrats so they will do your bidding for you: "Boxer is the kindest bad-ass on Capital Hill, always finding new ways to remind us of how fantastic she is. Like this Wednesday, when she smacked down Senator James Inhofe for trying to cut off Al Gore during his testimony on global warming. Best part -- when she waves her gavel in Inhofe's face to remind him who's in charge."

And we don't expect MSM outlets like CNN to call attention to the veeps antics:

Brianna Keiler: "Wow. All right. That was quite an exchange. And, you know, we were expecting something from Senator James Inhofe. He is a critic of global warming....We thought maybe it might be with him and former Senator, former Vice President Al Gore, but it ended up between him and Senator Barbara Boxer. She really got a stinger in there, I will say."

Don Lemon: [Laughs, then quietly] "Good for her."

But just what is Gore up to here? What is behind his zealous crusade? Carbon dioxide? Bovine belching? Listing of icebergs as an endangered species? At Real Clear Politics Robert Tracinski tells us:

This, then, is the essence of Gore's complaint: there are too many humans and they are too well off.

Gore can fix that. He ends his speech by calling, among other things, for an immediate freeze on carbon dioxide emissions--which is to say, an immediate freeze on the generation of additional power--to be enforced by massive new "carbon taxes." On this proposal, he piggybacks the whole leftist welfare-state agenda, demanding that most of the money from these carbon taxes be "earmarked" for "those in lower income groups."

He concludes by saying that his plan will "discourage pollution while encouraging work." That's a very pleasant way to describe a global economic collapse into the unrewarded drudgery of a pre-industrial lifestyle.

Tracinski concludes, however, on a positive note:

But Al Gore is not getting it all his own way. In New York's Newsday, Ellis Hennican describes a three-on-three debate held last week in New York City, in which opponents of the global warming hysteria (...) took on some of the scare's defenders. The interesting thing about this debate is that the organizers polled the audience before and after the event. The result? The number of people who thought that global warming is a "crisis" dropped from 57% to 42%.

That's why folks like Al Gore have to keep claiming that there is an iron-clad "consensus" on global warming and that the debate is "over"--because the moment the debate on the scientific merits of global warming is actually allowed to begin, the alarmists start to lose.



March 23, 2007

Better Living Through Activism

Mmmmmm.... Hamnation

But johngalt thinks:

Limbaugh said this week that he can express purely conservative thoughts on his radio show because he buys "liberal offsets" where people say liberal crap somewhere else. Great analogy.

Posted by: johngalt at March 23, 2007 3:20 PM
But jk thinks:

Excellent. Mary Katherine Ham has really kept her humor. She says pointed and poignant things without the acerbic qualities of Michelle Malkin or Ann Coulter.

Posted by: jk at March 23, 2007 3:29 PM

Elizabeth Edwards

The crazy rightwing nut jobs on the WSJ Editorial Page hit the perfect tone in the Edwards' announcement:

In today's nasty and polarized politics, we weren't surprised to see some of the cranks on the Web criticize John Edwards for announcing that his Presidential campaign will continue despite the return of his wife's cancer. By these lights, he is supposed to retire from public life and tend to her full-time.

Shouldn't that be up to the two of them? By the look of their press conference yesterday, Elizabeth Edwards wouldn't want her husband to give up his pursuit of the Democratic nomination despite her diagnosis. They seem to be in it together, and to like each other besides.

The decision to continue also reflects the changing reality of cancer and its treatment. The spread of Mrs. Edwards's breast cancer to her bones means that she probably can't be cured in the sense of being declared cancer free. But with improving treatments and new, less toxic anticancer drugs, she could live her currently active life for many more years. "I don't expect my life to be significantly different," Mrs. Edwards said yesterday, in a demonstration of fortitude that is itself a lesson for the rest of us. God speed.


It is hard to think of a politician with whom I have more fundamental disagreements. But their announcement was classy and well done. I hope his candidacy gets pummeled to the ground in short order mind you, but I wish the two of them the best.

2008 Race Posted by John Kranz at 10:35 AM

The Mommy Party

I remember a little hubbub when this book came out, but I never saw it up close and personal.

My brother emails a link to the site and some sample pages.

I'm rendered speechless by the three sample pages, you'll have to do your own commentary. But it really does make you appreciate all the porn on the Internet.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 10:06 AM | What do you think? [2]
But dagny thinks:

I've seen this before. It is still appalling. I need to ask the obvious question. To the writers and readers of this book: Why would anyone consider it a good thing, or even an appropriate thing for a government to perform the same functions as a Mommy?

Posted by: dagny at March 26, 2007 12:41 AM
But jk thinks:

Good question. You must admit, though, if you do think it's a good thing -- you're certainly a Democrat!

Posted by: jk at March 26, 2007 3:32 PM

March 22, 2007

It Ain't Fair

First, a joke...

A man died and went to heaven. As he stood in front of St.Peter at the Pearly Gates, he saw a huge wall of clocks behind him.

He asked, "What are all those clocks?".

St.Peter answered, "Those are Lie-Clocks. Everyone on Earth has a Lie-Clock. Every time you lie the hands on your clock will move."

"Oh," said the man, "whose clock is that?"

"That's Mother Teresa's. The hands have never moved, indicating that she never told a lie."

"Incredible," said the man. "And whose clock is that one?"

St. Peter responded, "That's Abraham Lincoln's clock. The hands Have moved twice, telling us that Abe told only two lies in his entire Life."

"Where's Hillary Clinton's clock?" asked the man. [of all the questions to ask St Peter -ed]

"Hillary's clock is in Jesus' office. He's using it as a ceiling fan."


The Hill (not Hillary)...
Former President Bill Clinton yesterday complained that “it’s just not fair” the way his wife, presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), is being depicted for her controversial Iraq war vote.

Speaking to hundreds of supporters on conference call, the former president said, “I don’t have a problem with anything Barack Obama [has] said on this,” but “to characterize Hillary and Obama’s positions on the war as polar opposites is ludicrous.

“This dichotomy that’s been set up to allow him to become the raging hero of the anti-war crowd on the Internet is just factually inaccurate.”


Of all things that give me the chills about a second Clinton presidency, it's the aforementioned spinning.
He said he had re-read the Iraq resolution last week, and that his wife had voted only for “coercive inspections.” Clinton justified his wife’s refusal to apologize for her vote by explaining that she was acting out of concern that future presidents might need similar language authorizing “coercive inspections to avoid conflict.”

“It’s just not fair to say that people who voted for the resolution wanted war,” Clinton said.


Ahem... pardon my language.

The title of the f*cking resolution is "Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq.

I guess you could technically argue that it doesn't say "invade Iraq," but it certainly says it's possible... and that's without even reading the text.

Besides, the only reason the coercive inspections were even happening were the thousands of American soldiers massing in Saudi Arabia.

Nobody called that 2002 resolution anything but the war declaration. Grr. Who is she kidding? Senator Kerry famously quipped "I voted for it, before I voted against it!" when defending his vote.

Who is fooled by the triangulation?

But jk thinks:

Amen, the old 2-for-1 deal is more freighting today than it was in 1992.

Give her the escape hatch, even. What do these people think would have been accomplished with her coercive inspections? How can you possibly and plausibly describe a good outcome that does not involve coalition boots on the ground?

Posted by: jk at March 23, 2007 10:31 AM

The Rapidly Advancing 2008 Primary Date

Governor Rendell ought to amend his plan to move the Pa primary to February, because Florida is looking at end of January.

Hoping to muscle Florida into a pre-eminent role in picking next year's Democratic and Republican presidential candidates, the state House voted Wednesday to leapfrog almost all the other states and set a Jan. 29 primary, with an option to go even earlier.

One of these days, the political class is going to realize, we're all growing tired of a campaign season that's a year ahead of schedule.

2008 Race Posted by AlexC at 10:59 PM

Guns and the Courts

TrekMedic passes along this Steve Chapman article about the affect of the 2nd amendment court decision last week.

So if this decision is upheld, it will not change our treatment of guns very much. Complete bans would be off-limits, but they are already rarer than white buffaloes. Most other gun-control laws would remain on the books, and anti-gun groups would be free to press for additional ones.

The only obstacle would be the one that has stymied them in the past: insufficient public support. It wasn't the constitutional right to keep and bear arms that induced Congress to let the federal ban on "assault weapons" expire, or that persuaded 40 states to allow the carrying of concealed handguns. Those choices were the product of sentiment among citizens and legislators who see most restrictions on firearms as futile at best and dangerous at worst.

The bad news for gun-control advocates is that the Supreme Court may adopt an expansive view of the Second Amendment. The worse news is this may represent the will of the people.


The conventional wisdom is that gun-control issues cost Algore the 2000 election. Democrats know it's a loser. It's about time.

Gun Rights Posted by AlexC at 8:48 PM

The Best Blog Post Headline Ever

Send Hoyers, Guns, And Money

Hoyer seen yelling at staff…
Eleanor Holmes Norton in a daze of disbelief…
Pelosi missing in action while trying to round up votes for the supplemental.
Tension is building.

And you thought things were bad in Baghdad


Though I am a faithful Extreme Mortman reader, honor dictates that I offer the hat-tip to his Glennness

But AlexC thinks:

I don't know how he comes up with all them... they're great.

Posted by: AlexC at March 22, 2007 4:53 PM

Efficacy

Cancer is in the news again today. "Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., announced today that his wife's cancer has returned, but that his presidential campaign will go on." Mrs. Edwards' cancer is apparently a metastasis of her breast cancer, thought effectively treated in 2004 with radiation and chemotherapy. And the metastasis site is now within bone, which makes it difficult to treat: The bone is one of the most common places where breast cancer spreads, and once it does so it is not considered curable.

When it comes to cancer, the present day "standard of care" as it's called - radiation treatments and chemotherapy - is brutal on the body and bleak in long-term prognosis. Cancers are very rarely referred to "cured" but instead are said to be in remission. The good news is that the scope and quality of cancer fighting research is truly impressive in this nascent age of genetic science.

The bad news is that no new treatments have thus far been approved by regulatory bodies which do much more than to extend a patient's life by a few months or years. What's more, the cutting edge pharmaceuticals being developed are monstrously expensive - on the order of $10,000 per week with treatments required for life in some cases.

But in February 2007 something different came to light. A biomedical researcher at the University of Alberta, Canada, Dr. Evangelos Michelakis, published a research paper in the journal 'Cancer Cell' that showed "Cancer Mitochondria Are Hyperpolarized and Have Suppressed Oxidative Metabolism, Both of which Are Reversed by DCA."

"DCA" or dichloroacetate, is a simple compound that has apparently been approved for treatment of certain rare metabolic disorders in children. It is also a long-standing compound and can't be patented. Nonetheless, unless Dr. Michelakis' team's discovery is another cold fusion debacle, it could be a safe and powerful new treatment for this devastating disease. If true, this could also be an incredible threat to the big business of cancer cures.

But the more pressing concern is what is happening with DCA today among current cancer patients, some of whom are considered "terminal." They are treating themselves - illegally - with this unproven compound.

Desperate cancer patients are self-medicating with a cheap compound that has yet to be tested in humans, despite dire warnings of potential toxic poisonings.

Predictably, the medical establishment and government regulatory bodies reactions range from extreme caution to total fear of the unknown. But for someone with no hope left, what's to lose?

Dr. Evangelos Michelakis, the cardiologist whose academic paper sparked the worldwide fervour, said people shouldn't take DCA until clinical trials prove it is safe on humans and actually shrinks tumours as it did in rats.

In clinical trials to see how DCA works in metabolic disorders, children took the drug and showed no signs of toxic poisoning. But when similar trials were done on adults, most had to discontinue using it, since they developed severe peripheral neuropathy, Michelakis said.

The damage to the peripheral nerves caused imbalance and finger numbness. Michelakis said if people take DCA along with other cancer treatments, the consequences could be lethal.

Even for those who say they have only six months to live and nothing to lose, Michelakis said it's not worth it. "You can die earlier and in much worse shape," he said.

Jim Tassano, a biologist in Sonora, Calif., and a University of California chemist have begun making DCA and selling it over the Internet. "Are there side effects?" Tassano said. "Absolutely, but compare that to radiation."

This is a complicated moral situation, one on which I've had difficulty forming an opinion. I think though my attitude is best expressed by an opinion on "thedcasite.com" which asks, "Is DCA worth trying?"

We absolutely think so..

The risks of a DCA-based therapy are trivial compared to those of accepted cancer therapy. Isn't radiation bad for you? Doesn't radiation cause cancer? What does a man feel like after he loses sexual function when a doctor cuts the nerve near his prostate gland? How does a women feel after having her breasts removed? Have you ever seen someone after a chemo treatment so sick they cannot get out of bed for days? What is like to be told that there is nothing that can be done for you, to just go home and die? Why is all that okay? Why would anyone opt for the cutting, burning and poisoning of their bodies when they could drink a tiny amount of sodium dichloroacetate every day for a few months, live a totally normal life and pay only a few hundred dollars? What is there to lose? A reversible neropathy? A risk of cancer that is probably vastly less than the risk radiation therapy places upon you?

That is the allure, the great hope that DCA gives us.

There is a problem, and it is not DCA.

But jk thinks:

I post in "Philosophy" so you just have to post in "Pharmaceuticals." Coincidence?

I think it is criminal for the government to disallow terminal cancer patients the right to try any therapy they would like. I was surprised that you called it a "complicated moral situation," jg. It seems pretty easy to me. Angel Raich should be allowed to use marijuana to ease her pain and Elizabeth Edwards, should she so choose, should be allowed to try DCP.

I can see no legitimate reason for the government to prohibit either one of these women from directing their own treatment.


Posted by: jk at March 22, 2007 6:11 PM
But johngalt thinks:

No, there is nothing complicated about government coercion. It is bad. What's complicated is... a few things:

Medical professionals, including the researcher who discovered the effect, strongly discourage human use. Is this because they really believe there's a safety concern, because they're fearful of government or industry retribution or, in the case of the discoverer, because he has a patent that he'd like to see commercialized?

Drug companies spend millions to explore complicated compounds with novel mechanisms but [apparently] aren't interested in a potentially simple cure. Is this because they don't believe in its potential or because there's more profit potential in the alternatives?

Given the uncertainties listed, what decision does a desperate patient make? This is where it gets complicated. In addition to not prohibiting access to a treatment, government also should not have a knee-jerk cautionary reaction to it.

Posted by: johngalt at March 23, 2007 3:38 PM
But jk thinks:

I guess we're in complete agreement (as usual -- right!) There are some very difficult decisions to be made. I just don't want governmnet to make them.

Posted by: jk at March 24, 2007 1:45 PM

Quarter Mile

Well... someone can't be troubled.

Seems the New York senator and former President Clinton fired up the motorcade to drive a little under a quarter-mile from a fundraiser to a Lebanese restaurant just down the street. I imagine the traffic tie-ups from the motorcade didn't help cut back on those dastardly carbon emissions from all the cars and buses on Connecticut Ave. either.

You can't very well have a former president walking down the block after all...

But jk thinks:

OMG! I hope he buys some Carbon Offsets to make up for that. Because without Carbon Offsets, that would be very wasteful.

Posted by: jk at March 22, 2007 1:55 PM
But AlexC thinks:

I think panhandlers should offer carbon offset purchases.

I mean it's not like they're burning fossil fuels in the cardboard box.

Posted by: AlexC at March 22, 2007 4:16 PM

The Anti-Gore

I thought I would only keep my OpinionJournal Political Diary subscription through the election. I enjoy it though I wish they would move it to a web delivery system instead of email. I have written enough letters to suggest this I'm sure I have my own "crank" folder at Dow Jones.

Elections are now eternal -- politics certainly is. So I'll be forking over the $3.95 month for a bit. Here's John Fund today:

You could never tell from the news coverage, but there was a second witness on global warming yesterday on Capitol Hill.

Normally Bjorn Lomborg would be just the kind of figure to intrigue the media -- an openly gay vegetarian from Denmark whose book "The Skeptical Environmentalist" is an international bestseller. Mr. Lomborg, a professor of statistics, believes global warming is real and man-made but that command-and-control solutions to curb industrial activity are ruinously expensive and that resources would be far better devoted to adapting to a changing climate. Tackling such massive public-health problems as the lack of clean drinking water for the world's poor, he says, would deliver much greater bang for the buck than trying to influence climate.

In his testimony, Mr. Lomborg, casually dressed in Adidas and a black polo shirt, argued that "statements about the strong, ominous and immediate consequences of global warming are often wildly exaggerated." He urged fellow environmentalists to realize that "climate change is actually one of the issues where we can do the least good first."

But Mr. Lomborg was sandbagged by the filibustering Mr. Gore, who insisted on giving a 30-minute opening statement before the House committee. During his verbose answers, Mr. Gore invoked the Battle of Thermopylae in ancient Greece as well as homespun anecdotes about growing up in Tennessee. By the time he had finished, the hearing was ready to adjourn for lunch without calling on Mr. Lomborg. He sat in the empty hearing room munching on a meatless Subway sandwich and marveling at the madness of the media crowds, whom he correctly doubted would return for his testimony. Nonetheless, he is optimistic that "common sense" will eventually prevail on climate policy. "The science isn't there, and the politics behind the current 'crisis' can only keep it aloft for so long," he once told me.

The problem is, having observed the hot air and posturing in the hearing room yesterday, the supply of political humbug churned out by the American political system may exceed even Mr. Lomborg's generous estimates.


No Toilet Paper

What's wrong with people?

Especially these people.

Welcome to Walden Pond, Fifth Avenue style. Isabella’s parents, Colin Beavan, 43, a writer of historical nonfiction, and Michelle Conlin, 39, a senior writer at Business Week, are four months into a yearlong lifestyle experiment they call No Impact. Its rules are evolving, as Mr. Beavan will tell you, but to date include eating only food (organically) grown within a 250-mile radius of Manhattan; (mostly) no shopping for anything except said food; producing no trash (except compost, see above); using no paper; and, most intriguingly, using no carbon-fueled transportation.

Mr. Beavan, who has written one book about the origins of forensic detective work and another about D-Day, said he was ready for a new subject, hoping to tread more lightly on the planet and maybe be an inspiration to others in the process.


Environmentalism is a new religion.

There's no toilet paper. Crazed.

But jk thinks:

I hope they do a documentary, so everybody can see what an inferior life it is.

There was a British TV show called "The Good Life" (re-released as "Good Neighbors"). It's a comedy about a suburban couple (Tom & Barbara Goode, hence the name) who go "self-sufficient," ripping out their lawn to grow food, keeping livestock in the back, dying their home raised wool with nettles, &c.

The couple is portrayed heroically, and the uptight neighbor who objects to the stench and squalor is the butt of the jokes. It's all very 70's, and I think every British lad grew up with a crush on the fetching Felicity Kendall.

I have recently thought I'd rejuvenate it as an economics study. Everybody is so proud of the couple's enduring such hardship, yet it is all self-imposed. Like the couple in 9F. People who choose to be poor, rather than enjoy the innovation and wealth creation offered by trade and comparative advantage.

Sorry for the novel-length comment, but you struck a chord. If a few eccentrics like the couple in 9F do this, it doesn't hurt anybody but themselves and their nearest neighbors. Those who push protectionism, nativism, and capital controls are choosing less wealth for the whole nation.

Posted by: jk at March 22, 2007 1:13 PM

March 21, 2007

Good Enough for Thee

Heh.


March 20, 2007

Well then don't play

Colorado Rep Marilyn Musgrave (R-Atlantis Farm and environs, I believe...) has a good record on spending and the war, and I was happy to see her win a close re-election in 2006. But she opens herself to the old joke "We've established what you are. We're now quibbling over price."

She may just go ahead and vote for defeat in Iraq so that she can bring home some Federal jack to her constituents:

"She hates the games the Democrats are playing," said Guy Short, chief of staff to Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-Colo.), a staunch conservative who remains undecided, thanks to billions of dollars in the bill for drought relief and agriculture assistance. "But Representative Musgrave was just down in southeastern Colorado, talking to ranchers and farmers, and they desperately need this assistance."

If you hate the game so much, Rep Musgrave: don't play.

Hat-tip: Instapundit, one of whose readers wonders "Um… I thought the Democrats had a 'mandate' on Iraq? Why do they need to buy votes?"


Freedom on the March Posted by John Kranz at 2:39 PM

Don't Interpret -- Abolish!

I was thinking of ThreeSources friend TrekMedic251 from Is This Life? JohnGalt posted about the DC Court ruling upholding the Second Amendment and TrekMedic commented "how soon before the knee-jerk reactions from the "let's talk" liberal crowds??" I linked to a WaPo editorial and commented "less than 24 hours."

But this is a piece of work. Benjamin Wittes writes in TNR:

It's time for gun-control supporters to come to grips with the fact that the amendment actually means something in contemporary society. For which reason, I hereby advance a modest proposal: Let's repeal the damned thing.

Wittes starts out applauding the NYTimes and WaPo editorials we ridiculed. He then quotes liberal and conservative jurists supporting individualist interpretations of the Amendment. He's convinced, as few in the TNR coffee room are, that the Second Amendment actually allows Americans to bear arms.
If, on the other hand, the amendment really does as Silberman, Tribe, Amar, and Levinson essentially claim--and I suspect they are all more right than wrong--then it embodies values in which I don't believe. I grew up obsessively shooting .22 caliber target rifles at summer camp in the Adirondacks. I like guns well enough in rural areas. I don't like them in cities. I don't believe that the Constitution ought to prevent my hometown of Washington, D.C.--which has a serious problem with gun violence--from making a profoundly different judgment about how available handguns should be than the New York legislature would make for the hamlet near my old camp. Guns, in other words, present a legitimate policy question on which different jurisdictions should take very different approaches--including, in some areas, outright bans.

I certainly hope the Democratic party takes this up in the 2008 election. The netroots crowd will love it, and middle America will be reminded what nanny-staters the party of Jackson has become. I think the GOP would win 260 seats.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:04 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

I consider this to be progress: An admission by a gun grabber that the amendment means what it says.

I also can't help but wonder how this supposedly sentient man misses the obvious coincidence of D.C.'s "serious problem with gun violence" and the absurd, unconstitutional gun laws in place there for the last 30 years. Perhaps a new approach should be tried?

Posted by: johngalt at March 20, 2007 3:14 PM

What Engineer Gap?

There's certainly no lack of engineers at ThreeSources -- how about the nation as a whole? We keep getting told that we are underproducing this valuable commodity (they obviously haven't met some of the engineers I have) compared to China. But The Numbers Guy says "It depends on how you define 'engineer.'"

Motor mechanics and shipbuilders are counted in China’s official statistics, as are recipients of two- or three-year degrees, according to an article in the new issue of Issues in Science and Technology, the magazine of the National Academy of Sciences. By this definition, Chinese universities may have awarded more than 517,000 degrees in engineering, computer science and information technology in 2004-2005, nearly four times the U.S. total, but the article questions the quality of those degrees. “Graduation rate increases have been achieved by dramatically increasing class sizes,” according to the article, and only graduates of the top-tier universities have much credibility in the job market.

I don't want to join the China-bashers, but I'd add that is wise to take government figures with a grain of salt, and totalitarian regimes' figures with a mountain. Counting degrees seems dubious whomever it favors. I know many people with engineering degrees who do not -- and honestly could not -- perform engineering work. Two of ThreeSources's leading lights perform engineering work without any degree.

I will agree that a good way to fix a gap is to let foreign graduates stay in the US.

Hat-tip: Everyday Economist

Posted by John Kranz at 11:41 AM

WSJ Imitates Tom Tancredo

I'm afraid JK ain't gonna like this... (and no, it's not about illegal immigration.)

Way back in July of '05 Tom Tancredo was asked, "Worst case scenario, if they do have these nukes inside the borders and they were to use something like that, what would our response be?" Tom's response can be paraphrased as, "Nuke Mecca."

On this morning's WSJ editorial page, board member Bret Stephens writes:

What would a sensible deterrence strategy look like? "Even nihilists have something they hold dear that can be threatened with deterrence," says Max Singer, a collaborator of the great Cold War theorist Herman Kahn. "You need to know what it is, communicate it and be serious about it."

Would it hinder Islamist terrorists if the U.S.'s declared policy in the event of a nuclear 9/11 was the immediate destruction of Mecca, Medina and the Iranian religious center of Qom?

Twenty months ago JK found such a suggestion "completely off the table" and that it's "irresponsible to discuss it."

About this Stephens says, "One needn't have answers to these questions to know it requires something more than pat moralizing about the terribleness of nuclear weapons or declaring the whole matter "unthinkable." Nothing is unthinkable."

I fully agree with Stephens that, "the question of what to do after a nuclear 9/11 is something to which not enough thought has been given. We urgently need a nuclear doctrine--and the weapons to go with it--for the terrorist age."

For my part I still stand by The List.

But jk thinks:

jk's tougher than you think.

I liked Stephens's article and agree that we need a strategy going forward. I supported the development of small, tactical nukes, and the idea of modernizing the current inventory sounds reasonable and proper.

Though it is a small part of the article, I cannot disagree with your interpretation that Stephens has joined the "Nuke Mecca Club" (Dick Cheney Nuked Mecca -- and all I got was this lousy T-shirt!)

I must disagree with both Stephens and Rep. Tancredo that there is any tactical value to an explicit threat to destroy a holy site if it matches the religion of a terrorist.

A holy site in Iran for Iranian involvement would be a valid target but Mecca and Medina are in the sovereign nation of Saudi Arabia -- a soi disant ally in the War on Terror.

I think Stephens does a disservice to his goal of starting reasonable dialogue with the inclusion of that out-of-the-mainstream suggestion. WE should discuss 21st Century nuclear weapons, deterrence and strategy. I don't see "Nuke Mecca" fitting in to that discussion.

Posted by: jk at March 20, 2007 12:21 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I appreciate your well drawn distinction between applying a nuclear deterrent strategy and where those weapons are targeted. The critical point is that in the discussion of pre-defined targets (pre-defined for their deterrent value) EVERYTHING which these nihilists hold dear must be "on the table."

Since Islamists consistently threaten our very existence (unless we abandon our principles and adopt theirs) how could it be irresponsible to threaten a few of their religious totems? (Or even to discuss it?)

Posted by: johngalt at March 20, 2007 2:59 PM
But jk thinks:

Many -- as in Billions of people -- hold these sites dear and no control over the terrorists who threaten us or our way of life.

To draw upon the distinction I made, the Iranian is sadly culpable for living in a country ruled by the Mullahs and Mr. Ahmadinijad. If they provoke us and we bomb them or a venerated religious site that is sad but just.

If a Pakistani, or German, or British, or American Muslim whacko commits an act of terrorism, I don't think that all Muslims are responsible and I cannot condone taking it from them.

Posted by: jk at March 20, 2007 5:33 PM
But El-Visitador thinks:

France is ahead of the U.S.:

Jacques Chirac, France’s president, has threatened to use nuclear weapons against any state that supported terrorism against his country or considered using weapons of mass destruction.

I predict with absolute confidence that the first 10,000-plus-victim terrorist attack will not happen against France.

The value of nukes lies in the other guy thinking you are trigger happy. Unfortunately for us, and fortunately for the French, only the French have made it clear they are trigger happy.

Posted by: El-Visitador at March 22, 2007 1:28 AM
But johngalt thinks:

EX-actly right. 'Bush the cowboy' was much better in this regard than is 'Bush the best buddy.'

Posted by: johngalt at March 22, 2007 2:53 PM
But jk thinks:

I like the cowboy as well.

I suspect, however, that we are losing track of the original concern: France (Mon dieu!) will nuke "any state" that supported terrorism or defamed croissants or thought that the new Airbus was unwieldy...

Rep. Tancredo was not threatening a state but rather threatening important religious sites. I still consider that off the table (as Stephen Fry might say, it's on "the top shelf of a locked cabinet").

Posted by: jk at March 22, 2007 4:04 PM

March 19, 2007

A Question for War Opponents

Today's Democrats can be divided into three groups:

  • Those who regret supporting the war;

  • Those who never supported the war;

  • Those who would not have supported the war if they "knew now what they knew then."

I'll concede that there are some Democrats who still support the war, but they have no representation in party leadership, so I dismiss them.

I encourage everybody to read Michael Totten's amazing report on progress in the Kurdish north. He compares a visit there fourteen months ago to a recent visit. Erbil, the "capital" city of Iraqi Kurdistan (Totten eschews the scare quotes) is a bustling and booming metropolis, rivaled in growth and construction only by Dubai. Totten notes plans for the tallest building in Iraq, as well as mobile-phone billboards (with attractive, unscarved females!), construction -- all the signs of commercial life.
korek_tower.jpg

Kurdistan’s rise flips Iraq on its head. The Kurds are ahead, but they started from nothing. Under Saddam’s regime they had the worst of everything – the worst poverty, the worst underdevelopment, and worst of all they bore the brunt of the worst violence from Baghdad. 200,000 people were killed (out of less than four million) and 95 percent of the villages were completely destroyed.

The Kurds seem happy and well-adjusted. Scratch the surface, though, and any one of them can tell you tales that make you tremble and shudder. Everyone here was touched by the Baath and by the genocide. If living well is the best revenge, the Kurds got theirs.

“You see this place now with its government, its democracy, and its system of laws,” my guide Hamid said. “It wasn’t like this even recently, believe me. Before, it was a jungle.”


It is an awesome read. Totten is not very optimistic on Baghdad or Anbar, and the desire for Kurdish independence, which I have supported for years, has some troubling repercussions.

All the same, the liberation of the Kurdish North from Saddam Hussein is a huge success -- dare I say "Mission Accomplished?" This region is showing its neighbors the advantages of freedom and plurality as it gives hope and opportunity to its citizens. This could not have happened without coalition troops.

I ask all those who have abandoned -- or who proudly proclaim they've never given -- support to the mission if the liberation of the Kurdish North is not in and of itself a good reason for war. And if you think I'm going too far with that, how can you deny the opportunity for freedom to the rest of Iraq? It is a credit to the coalition troops that they gave opportunity to all Iraqis. Some have embraced it and some have elected to pursue tribal vendettas and brutal power struggles.

But you cannot read this and call the war a mistake and a failure.

Hat-tip: Insty (all my links today are: Coals to Newcastle...)


But TrekMedic251 thinks:

The Kurds started to benefit from the US the day we started the Northern No-Fly Zone. The peshmergas (sp?)gladly joined out troops 4 years ago (Today as the MSM keeps drumming into our heads, BTW) as gratitude.

I, too, would LOVE to see an independent Kurdistan we can call an ally in the Middle East.

It probably won't happen because we're too busy keeping the Turks happy so we can maintain our presence at Incirlik.

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at March 19, 2007 8:35 PM

Hillary's Drones

Seen this yet?

Hat tip: Fox News Channel's Fox & Friends

Politics Posted by JohnGalt at 3:41 PM | What do you think? [1]
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

And the MSM is absolutely shocked,..SHOCKED to see Queen Shrillary mocked in such a manner!

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at March 19, 2007 8:36 PM

Thr Real Enemy

JohnGalt thinks it is Plato, and Arnold Kling thinks it is Karl Marx. I have suspected that it is John Lennon. But I think we all must admit that the true philosophical leader of the forces of darkness and anti-modernity -- is Yoko Ono.

Oleg Atbashian, who grew up under Soviet totalitarianism has studied "The Gospel of John and Yoko" extensively, and narrowed it to these theses:

1. A collective hallucination can create objective reality.
2. “The fenceless and doorless world is soon to come.” Obviously it’s a good thing.
3. Middle America is stupid and “afraid of youth and the future.”
4. People work not because they’re glad to have a job but because they’re being bullied into working by the “tyranny and suppression of the capitalists.” (Karl Marx called and left a message).
5. Immature youth are “the aware ones”; traditional education and thought discipline is the enemy.
6. Material reality is evil.
7. “Come together rather than claim independence.”
8. “Feel rather than think.”
9. Immature and irresponsible behavior is a virtue.
10. Possessions are immoral. “Any possession that is more than what you need belongs to someone who needs it.”
11. A worldwide revolution (“progress”) is inevitable, and such a future “cannot be anything but brightness.”
12. To resist the revolution is immoral because it prolongs people’s suffering.
13. A society based on competitiveness and logic produces “hypocrisy, violence, and chaos.”
14. A society based on love rather than reasoning will produce “balance, peace, and contentment.”
15. To remove evil from this world men must be feminized (if you liked this one you will also like “The DaVinci Code” which is a 500-pages-long regurgitation of this very doctrine).

I was certainly brought up on this crap. Although I have aggravated some of my blog brothers and sisters with my rejection of Objectivism, I do credit Ayn Rand with showing me the fallacies in that way of thinking. Atbashian opens the piece with a Rand quote -- she remains a powerful antidote to Onoism.

Like Kling's Folk-Marxism, I see a lot of what drives my leftist friends in this, and recognize that anybody my age in America was inculcated in this nonsense.

Hat-tip: instapundit


Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 12:39 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

Excellent! I enjoyed reading the entire article and find the following passages most important:

"Conservatives who support their positions with economic and political data but give away high moral ground to the “progressives” are thereby admitting that their economic and political achievements are immoral - and thus have no right to exist.

(...)

Because the spreading of the “progressive” morality has always brought suffering and misery to real-life humans, it should be exposed as inhuman and condemned. It should be opposed with the true human morality that is based on life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness - the one that has proven to spread happiness, prosperity, and real progress without any quotation marks."

And for the record, I think the real enemies are Immanuel Kant and John Dewey (yes, of Dewey Decimal System fame) but they both channeled Plato.

P.S. I think you meant "... the forces of darkness and ANTI-modernity..."

Posted by: johngalt at March 19, 2007 3:39 PM
But jk thinks:

It was a tossup between Kant and Plato for you, but I thought I'd go to the source.

Thanks for the fix on anti-modernity (since corrected).

Posted by: jk at March 19, 2007 3:54 PM

Maybe Sanford?

Hmmm...

Gov. Mark Sanford says he’s not running for president in 2008.

That’s the official line.

But nearly every week there’s another sign that Sanford might be running for something.


Real live pigs in Congress is what we'd get with a Vice President Sanford.

Read it all.

2008 Race Posted by AlexC at 11:03 AM

March 16, 2007

MS Benefit

rockin_ms.jpg

I met Linda Storey last night. She and her daughter, Jessica, have a band which I saw at Nissis. I learned of her in the Wall Street Journal last year for her benefit concerts and her MS advocacy. She's asked me to play a song to open the benefit and I invite y'all to stop by:

Trilogy Wine Bar
March 24, 2007
9 PM

2017 13th Street, Boulder
(between Pearl & Spruce)

The next Rockin' Out MS concert to raise funds for the Colorado Chapter of the National MS Society and our non-profit CASE for MS, will be in Boulder on March 24th at the Trilogy Wine Bar. We are excited this time to have our guest artists, Nina Storey, Tim Hanauer, and Linda & Jessica Storey to perform for this event. Shaul Turner, news anchor from Fox News, will make a special appearance Our tradition of hosting a silent auction during the event will continue.

CASE for MS organizes and promotes Concerts for the National MS Society, cutting edge research for Multiple Sclerosis and our organization CASE . We Advocate for individuals and families affected by MS and other disabilities. We Support musicians who have MS, and we Educate the public through the media and community events about Multiple Sclerosis.

Posted by John Kranz at 7:32 PM | What do you think? [3]
But dagny thinks:

Is this a kid friendly event?

Posted by: dagny at March 19, 2007 11:32 AM
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

Probably ... but us MS folk can get pretty twitchy in the mosh pit so steer clear unless you bring a cane for protection.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at March 19, 2007 3:31 PM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

LOL! :)

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at March 19, 2007 8:37 PM

Karl Popper Is Not Post Modern Enough

The science is settled. It's just "Post Normal Science."The Belmont Club explains

Wikipedia shows that the curious term used by Mike Hulme, who argues Global Warming can only be met by something called "post-normal" science has a history of use in the environmental movement since the late 1980s and early 90s.

Not just for the English Department anymore -- eeech!

Hat-tip: Samizdata


It's Okay, SIlence

Friend of this blog, Everyday Economist, is quoted at length in a USA TODAY article debunking huge productivity losses in March as workers' attention turns to college hoops.

Wayne State University economist Josh Hendrickson says there are several flaws in time-theft estimates. For one, the computers used to goof off are largely responsible for the huge jump in productivity over 20 years, he says, and idle workers may be doing the company a favor if they surf rather than distract busy co-workers.

The biggest flaw, Hendrickson says, is the presumption that workers have no downtime. Time wasted on March Madness is likely being stolen from time wasted elsewhere, he says.


ThreeSources readers are a year ahead of the game, having read my post in 2006. ThreeSources readers are much better looking as well, but we'll save that for another day.

Sorry, SugarChuck, Gonzales outlasts Gonzaga. Good luck with your Blue Devils, Silence!

Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 1:49 PM

She don't hear so good

Terri at I Think ^(Link) Therefore I Err thought it was Friday Calf Blogging. The little calf is going to ruin the planet with greenhouse gases, but she sure is cute.

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 1:42 PM | What do you think? [8]
But johngalt thinks:

Nope. "Cow" means "an adult female who has had more than two calves." (With a little help from wikipedia.)

"Breed" refers to the "domesticated subspecies or infrasubspecies of an animal." (again, wikipedia)

A fairly comprehensive bovine breed index can be seen pictorally here. (four links, by first letter of breed name, near bottom of page.)

'Sides, ain't you dun never gone ta the Stock Show boy?'

Posted by: johngalt at March 16, 2007 6:23 PM
But jk thinks:

Not until I was growed. My Grandmother left a Willa Caheresque existence to move to the city and we have not looked back for a couple of generations.

I love Atlantis farm and SugarChuck's spread, but I am city folk through and through. My siblings consider me bucolic for choosing a small town. Wrong it may be, I deserve points for "cow."

Posted by: jk at March 16, 2007 8:05 PM
But Terri thinks:

And you get points for "cow". Thanks for the link!

Posted by: Terri at March 19, 2007 11:23 AM
But dagny thinks:

Not too many points, since Terri says that she was there when, "he," was born indicating that he is a bull calf rather than a cow at all.

Also, since when does it take, "more than two calves," to be called a cow? I thought it was heifer only until the first calf was born. Anybody with some real bovine expertise to clear this up?

Posted by: dagny at March 19, 2007 4:13 PM
But Terri thinks:

Heifer's get to have one calf. Once they have their second, it's to the cows.

Apparently she needs to be over a year of age too. I didn't realize that part!

http://www.allwords.com/word-heifer.html

Posted by: Terri at March 20, 2007 12:48 PM
But jk thinks:

Nice, thanks

We usually don't get eight comments around here without mentioning immigration. And I never once called it a "moo-cow" I'm getting better.

Posted by: jk at March 20, 2007 1:35 PM

March 15, 2007

Mitchslapped

Hugh Hewitt's (superb) headline for a complete posting of the Senate Minority Leader's superb remarks:

“It is unprecedented in the powers it would arrogate to the Congress in a time of war; it is a clear statement of retreat from the support that the Senate only recently gave to General David Petraeus; and its passage would be absolutely fatal to our mission in Iraq. “Previous resolutions proposed by the Democrats were a mere statement of opinion, or sentiment. This one has a binding quality. It would interfere with the President and General Petraeus’ operational authority to conduct the war in Iraq as he and his commanders see fit. It would substitute for their judgment the judgment of 535 members of Congress.

My favorite Senator recalls statements from Clinton, Reid and Biden against timetables, and forcefully rolls the vote and the debate.

Must read.

110th Congress Posted by John Kranz at 7:48 PM

Allegedly...

No doubt this is good journalism and in keeping with the NYTimes Style Guide, but this grouchy hawk rolled his eyes at this Headline:

Suspected Leader of 9/11 Attacks Is Said to Confess

Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, long said to be the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, confessed to them at a military hearing held in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, on Saturday, according to a transcript released by the Pentagon yesterday. He also acknowledged full or partial responsibility for more than 30 other terror attacks or plots.

We can't be sure, mind you -- it's just a rumor about something somebody might have said he might have said. Again, it is probably correct to phrase it this way. It just seems to me that the NYTimes is able to find its certain declarative voice on the important topics of the day, like Bush Administration malfeasance, gender discrimination at golf clubs, and the importance of shutting down Guantánamo and releasing all those innocent freedom fighters.

Media and Blogging Posted by John Kranz at 10:38 AM

March 14, 2007

Contest

Here's your chance to take an all-expenses-paid trip with Nick Kristof, a Pulitzer Prize-winning Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times.

This year, Nick will be traveling with two people, a student enrolled in an American college or graduate school and a middle school or high school teacher.

To enter you must write an essay no longer than 700 words explaining why you're the right candidate for this trip.


Second prize: Two trips with Pulitzer-Prize winning NYTimes columnist, Nick Kristof. I dunno, a night of cocktails with MoDo maybe, but carrying Kristof's luggage? Not me, man.

UPDATE: Sorry, I forgot the link.

Media and Blogging Posted by John Kranz at 7:10 PM

Club For Growth Freedom Awards


The Club For Growth released its 2006 Scorecard and Economic Freedom Awards. We complain about politicians, but it is worth recognizing some of those who are doing it right:
SENATE SCORE     HOUSE SCORE
Tom Coburn (R-OK) 100     Jeff Flake (AZ-6) 100
Jim DeMint (R-SC) 100     John Shadegg (AZ-3) 100
John Sununu (R-NH) 100     Jeb Hensarling (TX-5) 100
Mike Enzi (R-WY) 99     Trent Franks (AX-2) 98
Sam Brownback (R-KS) 98     Mike Pence (IN-6) 97
Jon Kyl (R-AZ) 94     Steve King (IA-5) 94
Jim Bunning (R-KY) 94     Randy Neugebauer (TX-19) 92
John Ensign (R-NV) 94     Lynn Westmoreland (GA-8) 92
James Inhofe (R-OK) 94     Scott Garrett (NJ-5) 91
Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) 93     Chris Chocola (IN-2) 90
Judd Gregg (R-NH) 92        
Wayne Allard (R-CO) 90        
I may be different than some, but I would score that as Colorado 1, Pennsylvania, 0.
Politics Posted by John Kranz at 6:31 PM | What do you think? [2]
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

What!? No democrats in the list?

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at March 14, 2007 10:32 PM
But Psycheout thinks:

mdmhvonpa, the democrat party is anti-business and anti-growth for the most part. I guess you were kidding.

Sam Brownback is on the rise. It's not surprising that he is up to #5 on the list. He's improved his standing with The Club for Growth by 10 percentage points since last year.

Once conservatives discover that the frontrunners are RINOs, they will take a closer look at Sam Brownback. Mark my words!

Check out the latest Brownback buzz at Blogs 4 Brownback!

Posted by: Psycheout at March 14, 2007 11:01 PM

Guest Review Corner - '300'

Three Sources reliable reader and reluctant commenter "Macho Chick" (college-aged daugther of commenter Macho Duck) saw the '300' movie last weekend and raved about it. Dagny suggested she write a review for the blog. Here, other than minor punctuation and formatting, is her original work:

Hi Three Sources! I’ve been an avid reader and have been meaning to add my two cents for some time. I found something I thought should be cleared up right away before the movie critics, in all their infinite knowledge, give anyone the wrong impression.

I went to the midnight showing of 300, based on Frank Miller’s graphic novel, this past weekend, and thought I was going to be REALLY sorry about it in the morning, but as it turns out I was pleasantly surprised.

“In 480 [A.D.], an enormous force of more than a quarter-million Persians under their King Xerxes invaded Greece, both to enslave the free city-states, and to avenge the Persian defeat a decade earlier at Marathon. The huge force of ships and soldiers proved unstoppable on its way west and southward until it reached the narrow pass at Thermopylae (“The Warm Gates”) in northern Greece. There a collection of 7,000 Greeks had blocked the way. They hoped to stop Xerxes’ horde outright — or at least allow enough time for their fellow countrymen to their rear to mobilize a sufficient defense of the homeland.” (Victor Davis Hanson) (Thanks for the resources j.g.)

Many of the critics focused on the awesome fight scenes and cool computer generated graphics, and failed to point out the much more significant philosophical aspect. While the movie was very well put together and the actors talented, there was a very objective, American message. In the movie, without giving too much away, the hero, King Leonidas is conflicted about whether to go to war and protect his people from slavery or listen to the UN… oops I mean politicians… oops I mean Gods, and do the always successful 'sitting around to see what the Gods decide.' Great plan! His wife asks him not to do what he thinks the Gods would want, what the political committees think wise, or what tradition has demanded, but to do what a FREE MAN should do. What a concept.

“300 preserves the spirit of the Thermopylae story. The Spartans, quoting lines known from Herodotus and themes from the lyric poets, profess unswerving loyalty to a free Greece. They will never kow-tow to the Persians, preferring to die on their feet than live on their knees. If critics think that 300 reduces and simplifies the meaning of Thermopylae into freedom versus tyranny, they should reread carefully ancient accounts and then blame Herodotus, Plutarch, and Diodorus — who long ago boasted that Greek freedom was on trial against Persian autocracy, free men in superior fashion dying for their liberty, their enslaved enemies being whipped to enslave others.” (Hanson)

I have to disagree with the critics, (shock) and say I don’t think the movie is reduced in anyway. Not only does it address freedom versus tyranny, but what it really means to be free. The Persian leader tries to negotiate with Leonidas and his men, “Cruel Leonidas demanded that you stand. I require only that you kneel.” Is this freedom? Is the United States without free trade and freedom of religion, to name a few, free?
All in all this was a very inspiring and encouraging movie. I highly recommend it.

MC includes two links:

Selected quotes from IMDB

Cox & Forkum on '300'

But jk thinks:

Nicely done, MC, thanks -- and please do more.

On the rental front, I will give a four-star recommendation to "The Prestige:" a very entertaining film.

Posted by: jk at March 14, 2007 6:12 PM
But AlexC thinks:

I too enjoyed it... my only real problem was the "fantasy" aspect of some of the Xerxes soldiers. C'mon. An angry mutant guy chained up to be released on the Greeks at the last minute?

The story didn't need it.

Posted by: AlexC at March 14, 2007 8:33 PM
But cyrano thinks:

For another perspective on the movie, see "Some Comments on 300" by Diana Hseih, at http://www.dianahsieh.com/blog/2007/03/some-comments-on-300.html. Recommended reading.

Posted by: cyrano at March 15, 2007 12:05 AM
But cyrano thinks:

P.S. I can't say I agree with Ms. Hsieh, since I have not seen the movie. I have read other things she has written, and find her credible (or at least having something valuable to say).

Posted by: cyrano at March 15, 2007 12:15 AM

"Credibility and Honesty" of Climate Scientists

Those clever boys Cox and Forkum have their own inimitable way of describing how, when it comes to DAWG, "the science is settled:"

07_03_13_StretchingTruth-X.gif

The boys' commentary cites a report from The Telegraph, from which I will excerpt their excerpt:

Scientists who questioned mankind's impact on climate change have received death threats and claim to have been shunned by the scientific community. They say the debate on global warming has been "hijacked" by a powerful alliance of politicians, scientists and environmentalists who have stifled all questioning about the true environmental impact of carbon dioxide emissions.

Timothy Ball, a former climatology professor at the University of Winnipeg in Canada, has received five deaths threats by email since raising concerns about the degree to which man was affecting climate change.

One of the emails warned that, if he continued to speak out, he would not live to see further global warming.

"Western governments have pumped billions of dollars into careers and institutes and they feel threatened," said the professor.

JK recently commented that the data doesn't disprove DAWG any more than it proves it. Perhaps not. But consider the motives and tactics of those who would reshape the world economy on the basis of this "consensus:" If it walks like a duck (or a Marxist) and quacks like a duck (or a Marxist), what is it? (Well, other than Al Gore.)

Check out the entire C&F post. It also includes a working link to the "Great Global Warming Swindle" film.


You Gotta Be Stoned to Like It!

Colorado is under Democrat rule. They earned majorities in both houses of the state legislature in 2004, and won the Governor's Mansion in 2006.

Today they are voting to officially oppose the war in Iraq (President Bush will have to pull out if the Colorado State Legislature doesn't back him!).

That’s bad enough, but this cannot stand:

“A high is medically the releasing of endorphins in the brain — yes, drugs cause it, but so do lots of other things,” said State Senator Bob Hagedorn, a Democrat from the suburbs of Denver who successfully led the drive on Monday to make Mr. Denver’s anthem “Rocky Mountain High” Colorado’s second state song. The tune will have joint status with “Where the Columbines Grow,” which pretty much everyone agrees is about flowers.

Nobody alive today has ever heard "Where the Columbines Grow." Berkeley Square is Top 40 by comparison. There was some buzz in my teen years about replacing the state song with "If I had a Chevy I would Drive to Colorado." I could support that.

But John Denver? No! Where can I march? What building can I burn down? Nooooooooooooo!

Hat-tip: InstyReplacementTeam

Posted by John Kranz at 1:40 PM | What do you think? [1]
But dagny thinks:

Hey,

I like John Denver and I have never been stoned in my life!

Posted by: dagny at March 15, 2007 1:25 AM

March 13, 2007

A Pox on your Heresy

There are some issues with "The Great Global Warming Swindle." Apparently, it's also a swindle.

    The Great Global Warming Swindle, was based on graphs that were distorted, mislabelled or just plain wrong. The graphs were nevertheless used to attack the credibility and honesty of climate scientists.

    A graph central to the programme's thesis, purporting to show variations in global temperatures over the past century, claimed to show that global warming was not linked with industrial emissions of carbon dioxide. Yet the graph was not what it seemed.

    Other graphs used out-of-date information or data that was shown some years ago to be wrong. Yet the programme makers claimed the graphs demonstrated that orthodox climate science was a conspiratorial "lie" foisted on the public.

(tip to HotAir)

But johngalt thinks:

This "debunking" of the Swindle film largely attacks the validity of graphs used in the film. There are "updated" and "corrected" versions that contradict those shown.

This proves the folly of trying to beat the global warming alarmists at their own game: charts and graphs.

"Credibility and honesty of climate scientists?" I think the jury's still out on this one.

Posted by: johngalt at March 14, 2007 1:07 AM
But jk thinks:

Sadly, they play the game much like VP Gore's friends. I was uncomfortable that they purported to disprove global warming. I don't think the data are there to make a call either way [Insert boilerplate jk Karl Popper commentary here]

The value -- and perhaps it's too discredited to work -- is to convince people that "no, the science is NOT settled." scientific discovery should continue until a solid understanding is reached.

Posted by: jk at March 14, 2007 10:32 AM

No Hi Def?

Now he thinks he's Instapundit!

Anybody talk me out of this TV?

Now that I am one of the mindless masses working for the man, creating no jobs for other people, I have been rewarded by my betters in Washington with a large tax refund. I was thinking I might finally succumb to the hi-def craze.

When I did a little shopping and soul searching, i wondered "What the hell will I watch?" Larry Kudlow's Quotidian Cavalcade of Unattractive Bald Economists? I looked at the HD offerings of may satellite provider and I don't watch any of those channels. I could watch football on the HD broadcast of my local channel, but that's it.

So, $300 bucks more for the HD and $20 a month for HD satellite, divided by 16 Bronco games (playoffs? call it 20) we're talking $25 bucks a game. I don't even see that well.

But this baby matches the resolution of my current Buffy DVDs and satellite broadcast. Big and flat I dig, HiDef, I'm not sold. Any HD fans out there?

Posted by John Kranz at 4:48 PM | What do you think? [2]
But Everyday Economist thinks:

InstaKranz,

HD is definitely the way to go. Then again, I am a huge sports fan and sports are a great deal better in HD. If you do not want to pay extra on your cable/satellite bill, you could always opt for a TV with the HD Tuner built-in. In that case, all you would need is an HD antenna and you could get all your local channels in HD for free.

Oh, and I think that it was nice of you to loan that hard-earned money to the government interest free for the whole year. A true patriot!

Posted by: Everyday Economist at March 13, 2007 5:31 PM
But jk thinks:

Yeah, you're welcome. Milton Friedman's one regret -- it would seem churlish of me to beat up on the man I respect so highly.

You make a good point about getting the TV but not the satellite. I would keep options open. However, I'm outside of Denver and not sure how well I'd get broadcast HD; regular broadcast is pretty spotty.

Seriously, thanks for the input.

Posted by: jk at March 13, 2007 5:44 PM

Swindled?

I have heard that Durkin, the producer of "The Great Global Warming Swindle," is a Marxist (which seems strange, in light of the association of Marxism with the global warming movement in the documentary) and has engaged in dishonest editing practices in the past. There is some documentation and proof of these claims -- though the claims made in the documentary about (1) the science of climate change and (2) the Marxist connection to the global warming movement should be taken independently on their own merit; to do otherwise would be to engage in the fallacy of poisoning the well (attacking a person's character, instead of attacking his argument and ideas).

The documentary is accused of using someone's interview (Carl Wunsch's) in a cherry-picking, dishonest way.

Here is a letter written by Carl Wunsch himself:


1. Below is the text of a letter from Carl Wunsch, reproduced with permission.

Mr. Steven Green
Head of Production
Wag TV
2D Leroy House
436 Essex Road
London N1 3QP
10 March 2007

Dear Mr. Green:

I am writing to record what I told you on the telephone yesterday about your Channel 4 film "The Global Warming Swindle." Fundamentally, I am the one who was swindled---please read the email below that was sent to me (and re-sent by you).

...

When a journalist approaches me suggesting a "critical approach" to a technical subject, as the email states, my inference is that we are to discuss which elements are contentious, why they are contentious, and what the arguments are on all sides. To a scientist, "critical" does not mean a hatchet job---it means a thorough-going examination of the science. ...

I spent hours in the interview describing many of the problems of understanding the ocean in climate change, and the ways in which some of the more dramatic elements get exaggerated in the media relative to more realistic, potentially truly catastrophic issues, such as the implications of the oncoming sea level rise. As I made clear, both in the preliminary discussions, and in the interview itself, I believe that global warming is a very serious threat that needs equally serious discussion and no one seeing this film could possibly deduce that.

What we now have is an out-and-out propaganda piece....


An example where my own discussion was grossly distorted by context: I am shown explaining that a warming ocean could expel more carbon dioxide than it absorbs -- thus exacerbating the greenhouse gas buildup in the atmosphere and hence worrisome. It was used in the film, through its context, to imply that CO2 is all natural, coming from the ocean, and that therefore the human element is irrelevant. This use of my remarks, which are literally what I said, comes close to fraud.


... My appearance in the "Global Warming Swindle" is deeply embarrasing, and my professional reputation has been damaged. I was duped---an uncomfortable position in which to be.

...

Sincerely,

Carl Wunsch
Cecil and Ida Green Professor of
Physical Oceanography
Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Comment by William Connolley — 11 Mar 2007 @ 2:48 pm


But there are some articles relating to this issue regarding Wunsch here (scroll down to see articles) at GlobalWarmingHype.com.

And an article has been published in which Durkin answers his critics, discussing a number of specific criticisms, after "Swindle" was broadcast.

But johngalt thinks:

Following a link on GlobalWarmingHype.com I found an essay on this story that quotes Durkin himself:

‘Shock, horror’, he says. ‘Exposing that a journalist has a Marxist background is like exposing that he wears trousers.’

He goes on later ...

Durkin laughs about the fact that many environmentalists fancy themselves as leftists, yet ‘they are always exposing me…as a leftist!’

O'Neill ends with this prescient observation - "If we want a proper debate about these issues, we need an open and rigorous public life, rather than sneaky accusations of secret conspiracies and demands for censure."

Posted by: johngalt at March 13, 2007 3:07 PM
But jk thinks:

Yeah, I read about him on Samizdata and meant to add an UPDATE: link. It seemed difficult to think of a Marxist producing that as well.

I'll concede that he -- and my buddy with the Mine Your Own Business doc -- cherry pick pretty badly. That's the "art form." Michael Moore and the 60 Minutes crew brought it to us (or perhaps DW Griffith) and it borders on the dishonest (one hopes they don't add completely fabricated things like Moore).

We should be wary of embracing this when it suits our needs. At the same time, as the other side has COMPLETEY SHUT DOWN ALL DEBATE, I think any way to continue debate is justified.


Posted by: jk at March 13, 2007 3:41 PM

Smoked White Rhino on a Stick!

Lance at Second Hand Conjecture has taken PETA's suggestion to eliminate livestock as a deterrent to Global Warming. He looks forward to the "one last global barbecue" and suggests that serious environmentalists might want to go a bit further:

Thank God we already got rid of most of the Buffalo. It is often said sarcastically about idealistic thinking “and I want a pony too!” Well, you can’t have one, and they pretty much need to be marked for extinction.

We’ll need to give particular attention to Africa, which still has vast plains of herd animals, and they pass gas as well. My guess is that elephants are rather large offenders relative to the ease of eliminating them. It will also be inexpensive to do so as the ivory poachers can just be given the green light. Environmentalists can stop avoiding ivory, instead they can wear it as a badge of their commitment to doing what it takes to save the planet. It is humane as well. Barring such an effort, curbing greenhouse emissions at a level and speed necessary to have a real effect would certainly have doomed millions to poverty and early death. It isn’t nearly as chic to wear the bones of children, at least not yet.


Unfortunately, Lance is not serious about saving the planet. He refuses the minor inconveniences of what he calls "green sex:" bamboo sheets and hemp lingerie (No, not Captain Kirk).

A great post. He offers his patio for that last barbecue. I'd like something rare, done medium.


2-4-6-8,who we gonna regulate?

The Democrats are in charge and have decided that the FDA (my personal bete noire) should regulate tobacco. So, how have those shorts on tobacco panned out?

Terrible. As Adam Smith told us in 1776, businesses don't want freedom and a level playing field. They, like incumbent politicians, want protection from innovation and competition. Morgan Stanley and Citigroup analyses both tout the positive effects of the bill on big tobacco's share value. Citigroup says "We believe the results" of regulation "would actually help the major cigarette manufacturers since it would entrench their position further allowing them to maintain market share or increase it."

This is from a Wall Street Journal editorial (paid link) that enumerates the advantages to entrenched providers:

First, the Kennedy bill (co-sponsored by Texas Republican John Cornyn) specifically prohibits the FDA from banning tobacco products, so some in the industry feel this gives the Marlboro Man and the Camel brand a new lease on life.

Second, the call for new advertising restrictions "clearly protects the dominant name-recognized brands," according to Dr. Gilbert Ross, a tobacco specialist at the American Council on Science and Health. Ad restrictions would help Philip Morris freeze in place its 51% of the cigarette market.

Third, the bill would prevent the smokeless tobacco industry from claiming that it is safer than cigarettes, as if they are equally dangerous. The big cigarette makers figure that this will reduce the appeal of smokeless products that are the biggest competitive threat to cigarettes. Never mind that a large share of addicted smokers get sick or die from smoking, while the figure is 1% for users of smokeless tobacco.


Everybody wins, huh? I'm going back to bed now...

110th Congress Posted by John Kranz at 10:50 AM

March 12, 2007

Weather Prediction Was Wrong.

Stop the presses! The BBC* has some good news about the Great Barrier Reef. It seems that recent storms have cooled the ocean and helped to partly reverse deleterious "bleaching" that had occurred in recent years. Good news, but I wonder if they didn't bury the lede:

Scientists had predicted that this summer would be a tough one for the reef. They feared that extreme heat would scorch the coral. But recent storms that dumped torrential rain across much of Australia's north-east have brought some unexpected good news.

Hmm. Scientists thought that it would be warmer. And that things would be bad. But they're not. Should we be happy now? Oh. no, scientists think things are going to be worse.
The future, however, still does not look good. Researchers believe as the world's climate continues to change the bleaching of the coral will become increasingly common.

No word on whether that would be the same group of scientists who thought things were going to be bad this year...

Hat-tip: thinkthereforeierr

* British Broadcasting Corporation, producer of global warming denying documentaries.

Posted by John Kranz at 6:35 PM

Make that three heretics!

I must revise my opinion of the BBC up a whisker or two for airing that bit of heterodoxy. That was a superb film.

It always comes back to Karl Popper for me. You can disagree with any of the scientists in that film or their theories, but you cannot watch that and claim "the science is settled," or recite the number of scientists who agree. Popperian epistemology teaches us that all of those claims need be refuted before DAWG is accepted as fact.

If you're planning the great ThreeSources film festival, I would follow a showing of this film with "Mine Your Own Business." You'll have to buy a DVD of that one, but I beg you to do so. It carries forth the final sequence of the swindle film: the environmentalists' moral repugnance at denying basics like electricity, clean water, heat and economic sustenance to the developing world because of the radical environmentalist agenda.

Here is a YouTube promo for Mine Your Own Business:


But johngalt thinks:

Isn't it unbelievable that BIG OIL is allowed to make lying slanderous films like this that demonize honest and conscientious people who are trying to protect the way of life for these poor, defenseless peasants? Don't they understand that poor defenseless peasants are not their playthings, to be MANIPULATED into working in SWEATSHOP conditions for UNCONSCIONABLE wages to do the bidding of BIG OIL and enrich overpaid CEOs bent on world destruction via GLOBALISATION?

(A little "UK enviro-lingo thrown in there at the end to make sure readers know this is SARCASM.)

Posted by: johngalt at March 13, 2007 3:18 PM

Heresy Seconded

I strongly agree with AlexC's recommendation of The Great Global Warming Swindle.

The video is an hour and fifteen minutes long, and was produced by a television company in the UK. I'm not sure if having the video on the Internet like this is a copyright violation.

The video discusses:
1) The scientific evidence and reasoning that CO2 levels follow (by 300 to 800 years) temperature changes, not drive these changes. The earth's water mass is too big to respond to temperature changes in six months.

2) The scientific evidence that the sun drives temperature changes. As they say in the documentary -- besides the fact that the sun heats our atmosphere, and thus is the major cause of temperature change -- cloud cover controls temperature, cosmic rays control cloud cover, and the sun's "solar wind" controls cosmic ray influence on the earth. Scientific evidence, going back thousands (or was it millions or billions?) of years, supports this claim.

3) The fact that water is the major green house gas: 90% of all the green house gases in our atmosphere. CO2 is only something like ten to fifteen percent.

4) The fact that the earth's temperature was colder (than the current trend) for 200 years, ending about 1850, and was warmer (than the current trend) for thousands of years, ending about 8,000 years ago.

5) The fact that temperature rose until 1940, when it fell for 35 years to 1975, when it again increased. This is contrasted with the fact that CO2 production by man was low until 1940, then rose from 1940 to 1975. AlexC shows this in the graph in his post.

The video goes beyond most discussion, which covers only physical science, and neglects the science of philosophy. "Swindle" goes on to provide evidence that:
1) the "man-made global warming" (MMGW) movement was begun by neo-Marxists and anti-capitalists. Thus, like Marxism and Communism, the movement has a veneer of reason, while being essentially irrational and faith-based. The MMGW people use cherry-picked facts to give a rationalization to their position; they do not use logic and reason to evaluate and integrate all the evidence to understand climate and to decide how man should respond to it.

2) the MMGW people resort to force, intimidation, threats, and violence in their campaign. They do not appeal to reason, argument, debate, evidence. Thus, again, they are like the Communists who sent millions of their critics and the "bourgeois" to the Gulag and Siberia, or who buried alive thousands at a time (the latter happened in Pol Pot's Cambodia). The MMGW people, like the Communists, attempt to silence their critics by whatever means, and to rewrite history.

3) the MMGW people -- following the Marxist distinction between the "proletariat" and the "bourgeois" -- divide people into two camps: "the people" and the "evil polluters" and supporters of "pollution." And then go on to try to destroy capitalism and those who produce and who make a profit.

The latter three points are not drawn explicitly in the documentary. They are conclusions you can draw by studying history, Marxism, and logic, and by observing the behavior and practices of modern MMGWers (e.g. Senator Rockefeller or the Weather Channel's Heidi Clum.)

But johngalt thinks:

I've a minor quibble with your otherwise excellent summary and analysis -

3) Water vapor was cited as 90 plus percent of the atmospheric elements that result in the so-called "greenhouse" effect, but I recall CO2 being 4-5 percent and not 10-15 as you say. (It all has to add to 100 percent, after all.) :)

But we can't easily check this because, the video is gone at the Google site -

"We're sorry, but this video may not be available.

Try refreshing the page to see this video."

Posted by: johngalt at March 13, 2007 3:27 PM
But cyrano thinks:

JG: I forgot the exact figures mentioned in "Swindle," so I was trying to be generous, instead of precise. But good catch!! :)

Posted by: cyrano at March 18, 2007 5:41 PM

Three Decades of Peretz's TNR

Martin Peretz gives a serious and honest summary of his tenure as owner of The New Republic. I have subscribed to the digital version for a few years now and had no idea he was the owner. I thought he was just some guy who wrote the best pieces in the book.

He admits (as the New York Times will not) that freedom has not been served by TNR's and its readers support of anti-Americanism up to and including Stalinism.

What is dogma to many of them is simply the historical and psychological assault on the United States. In the cold war, many Americans did not want the Soviet Union to lose. And that France has now become a heroic nation simply for resisting the invasion of Saddam Hussein's Iraq is preposterous. After all, France is a closed-minded, prissy, rigidly class-bound, economically retarded, and nostalgic country. Nostalgic for its martial glory that goes back a century plus, and jealous of it, too, in resisting the reality that military might no longer belongs to the motherland. During my time at tnr, we've tried to guide liberalism away from such intellectual mush. To my regret, we haven't always prevailed.

Their Stalinist phase was before his day, but he still admits "there have been many times when I've hurled my own magazine against the wall in anger." It's a great and succinct piece, let me know if you can't get it and I'll email it. He defends Israel and provides a look at the UN that would be at home in The Weekly Standard, but that TNR readers need to hear:
Which brings us to the United Nations--a failing, bloated, corrupt, and unprincipled institution whose very foundations compel it not to act justly. It is functionally the captive of three cynical permanent members of the Security Council and the wild mob of illegitimate states in the General Assembly. The next decade will find us preoccupied with the issue of how democratic societies succeed in this overstructured and overdetermined world disorder.

Still no shortage of things to disagree with: why does he publish Jonathan Chait? How can they want US involvement in Darfur when they have withdrawn their support for Iraq? All the same, I wish there were a thousand more Martin Peretz's on "the other side" and a lot fewer Koses.

Media and Blogging Posted by John Kranz at 1:03 PM

March 11, 2007

HRC = JFK?

People and their inflated egos.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton invoked the campaign of the nation's lone Catholic president, John Kennedy, last night as she talked about her challenge in becoming the first female commander-in-chief.

"He was smart, he was dynamic, he was inspiring and he was Catholic. A lot of people back then [1960] said, 'America will never elect a Catholic as president,' " the White House hopeful told the New Hampshire Democrats' 100 Club fund-raiser here.

"But those who gathered here almost a half century ago knew better," she said. "They believed America was bigger than that and Americans would give Sen. John F. Kennedy a fair shake, and the rest, as they say, is history."


Yeah. Let's just pray a Hillary presidency would end better.

But jk thinks:

If she'd embrace his tax cutting...

Posted by: jk at March 11, 2007 12:58 PM
But jk thinks:

Heh. OandO asks Where's Lloyd Benson when you need him?

Posted by: jk at March 12, 2007 10:21 AM

Heresy

Call me a heretic.

Watch this show...

The Great Global Warming Swindle

In the meantime, I suggest we enact sweeping regulations and alter the make up of both economy and society "just in case...."


heresy.jpg

The 42nd minute absolutely hits the ball out of the park.

But johngalt thinks:

UPDATE: It's gone.

"We're sorry, but this video may not be available.

Try refreshing the page to see this video."

Posted by: johngalt at March 13, 2007 3:21 PM

March 9, 2007

News Item of the Decade

What's that? Did Bill Gates promise to buy Apple Computer and divide all of its stock amongst all the AIDS patients in Africa? Did Mahmood I'mInAJihad just convert to Christianity? Did Hillary divorce Bill? No.

Gun Ban in D.C. Overturned

Owning guns in D.C. may soon become legal, as federal appeals court ruled that the right to bear arms applies not only to militias.

Three years ago, a lower-court judge had told six D.C. residents of high-crime neighborhoods who wanted the guns for protection that they don't have a constitutional right to own handguns.

City argued that the Second Amendment right to bear arms applies only to militias, not individuals.

Today judge held that the Second Amendment doesn't just apply to militia service, or to people with "intermittent enrollment in the militia."

Just what was this D.C. gun ban? From the Cato Institute via P.R. Newswire: "Under existing law, no handgun could be registered in the District, and even pistols registered prior to D.C.'s 1976 ban could not be carried from room to room within a home without a license."

Well, what's wrong with that CNSnews? If that is the "democratically-expressed will of the people of the District of Columbia" then who cares that, "Even though the nation's capital had one of the strictest gun bans in the country, it also suffers from one of the five-highest murders rates of major cities nationwide?" I guess two out of three federal appeals judges care:

In a 2-1 decision, the judges held that the activities protected by the Second Amendment "are not limited to militia service, nor is an individual's enjoyment of the right contingent upon his or her continued intermittent enrollment in the militia."

The court also ruled the D.C. requirement that registered firearms be kept unloaded, disassembled and under trigger lock was unconstitutional.

(...)

"The district's definition of the militia is just too narrow," Judge Laurence Silberman wrote for the majority Friday. "There are too many instances of 'bear arms' indicating private use to conclude that the drafters intended only a military sense."

The opinion of the lone dissenting judge is telling. Her foundation for supporting the 30-year old law was not that individuals are not militia members, or that handguns are not hunting tools. Instead she wrote, "the Second Amendment does not apply to the District of Columbia because it is not a state."

Can I believe my eyes? I'm still not sure I believe a sitting federal judge actually wrote this. The reporter must have misrepresented, right? I wonder if she would also argue that the first, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth, eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth, fifteenth, sixteenth, seventeenth, eighteenth, nineteenth, twentieth (take a breath), twenty first, twenty second, twenty third (oh really?), twenty fourth, twenty fifth, twenty sixth and twenty seventh amendments don't apply to D.C. because "it is not a state?"

For some time now I've been considering creation of a "Slave-o-Meter" that reflects the global movement toward collectivism and away from individual liberty modeled after the Union of Atomic Scientists' "Doomsday Clock." I was dissuaded by the notion that the "Slave-o-Meter" would only ever move in one direction: toward collectivization of humankind. (And because I still haven't thought of a better name than Slave-o-Meter.) This development in D.C. is one rare, delicious, possibly temporary case where it moved noticeably in the other direction.

UPDATE: [13 March] I am eternally grateful to JK for his comment link to the WaPo editorial on this. It allows me to share this remarkable quote:

"While the ruling caught observers off guard, it was not completely unexpected, given the unconscionable campaign, led by the National Rife Association and abetted by the Bush administration, to broadly reinterpret the Constitution so as to give individuals Second Amendment rights."

So in the document that begins ... We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America, an interpretation by the "National Rifle Association and abetted by the Bush administration" that one of its amendments applies to "individuals" is "unconscionable."

DUDE! WHERE'S MY COUNTRY?!

But jk thinks:

I humbly suggest "Serfdom Miles." How far down Hayek’s road we are. Like the clock, it will be hard to weight multiple parameters into a single, scalar quantity.

I am not so pessimistic as you. It is disturbing to see the free word give up its liberty by bits and pieces -- at the same time, I look at the Heritage /WSJ index of economic freedom and see that more and more people are escaping from the least free nations.

In a Sharansky sense, I'd say this planet is doing well, although in a Friedmanite, Hayekian sense, we may be giving back some gains.

Following the Constitution in the US Capitol is a good sign.

Posted by: jk at March 9, 2007 6:07 PM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Thank GOD a court in this country FINALLY understood what the Second Amendment really means!

Now,..how soon before the knee-jerk reactions from the "let's talk" liberal crowds??

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at March 9, 2007 8:34 PM
But jk thinks:

Not sure what time the WaPo hits the streets, tm, but the answer is "less than 24 hours."

Dangerous Ruling: An appeals court ruling would put handguns back in D.C. homes

Quelle Horreur! Guns in homes...

Posted by: jk at March 10, 2007 12:26 PM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Thanx for the link, jk

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at March 11, 2007 12:02 PM
But dagny thinks:

The WaPO article JK links to above is hysterical, in more ways than one. However, I recommend reading the comments to the article. At one point a commenter notes that the comments are 82% in favor of the ruling. Perhaps there is hope for DC yet????

Posted by: dagny at March 12, 2007 7:31 PM

150 Newly Minted BIllionaires

Larry Kudlow has been referring to "the hedgehog and the fox" for a while now, I and must confess the allusion went over my head.

I think I get it now: The Hedgehog Marches On

As I have repeatedly argued, the one good idea from the hedgehog always wins the race against the many small ideas of the fox.

This one great idea is the global spread of free market capitalism.


And that spread of capitalism around the globe is reflected in Forbes magazine.
"This growth in the billionaires list is a mere reflection of a dynamic global economy. More people are better off on this Earth than ever before…This is the richest year in human history."

But johngalt thinks:

"The richest year in human history?" Not if you're UK's 'Guardian' for whom it's merely a case of Super-rich get richer.

Posted by: johngalt at March 9, 2007 3:49 PM
But jk thinks:

Put me in with Steve Forbes instead of George Monbiot I guess.

I was struck watching the little slide presentation on the billionaires, how these people had contributed to our quality of life. It's hard for even the Guardian set to deride them as robber barons.

Posted by: jk at March 9, 2007 6:12 PM

Capitalism for Campesinos

ThreeSources's "Freedom on the March" category was created in January of 2005. Freedom seemed in true ascendancy. Iraqis were showing their purple fingers, Libya was giving up on its nuclear programs. The cedar and orange revolutions were just around the corner.

Freedom has lost some ground since then, I won't dwell on it.

Yet I don't think Latin America has scored a post in this category in all that time. Today, the Wall Street Journal Editorial Page calls for (paid link, sorry!) more free trade with Latin America to counter the new left of center message with one of freedom and prosperity.

This is the root of the U.S. problem in Latin America: the lack of trade leadership. The 2002 Bush steel tariffs did their share of harm, but the biggest obstacle is Congress. The Central American Free Trade Agreement barely passed last year, and now Democrats are saying they want to renegotiate bilateral deals with Peru and Colombia that have already been signed. Trade is by far the biggest leverage the U.S. has in the region, and the best tool for improving living standards and strengthening democracy. If Congress fails to renew "fast-track" negotiating authority this year, the problem will get worse.

The best alternative to Hugo Chávez's Marxist revival is the vision Mr. Bush offered earlier this week to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce: "Latin America needs capitalism for the campesino, a true capitalism that allows people who start from nothing to rise as far as their skills and their hard work can take them." It's a shame Mr. Bush can't reinforce that message with greater promises of access to the U.S. market.


It doesn't look good, but it reinforces my pragmatism. President Bush fumbled the ball when he enacted the steel and softwood tariffs and the GOP Congress has sucked on trade issues.

But I watch Rep Charlie Rangel, and Senator Webb and it appears that protectionism has completely taken over the Democratic Party.

Freedom on the March Posted by John Kranz at 12:12 PM

March 8, 2007

In Other News, Avs win 3-2

I guess the science is settled. I'm not sure about the scientific publications or policy directives, but Sports Illustrated has weighed in.

The next time a ball game gets rained out during the September stretch run, you can curse the momentary worthlessness of those tickets in your pocket. Or you can wonder why it got rained out -- and ask yourself why practice had to be called off last summer on a day when there wasn't a cloud in the sky; and why that Gulf Coast wharf where you used to reel in mackerel and flounder no longer exists; and why it's been more than one winter since you pulled those titanium skis out of the garage.

Global warming is not coming; it is here.


The article then explains the science to those who've been fiddling with their fantasy football roster as Rome burned.

The article continues with many examples of sports influenced by weather and attempts by some players and franchises to mitigate environmental impact.

But you won't find one word of nuance or hedging. It's here, we caused it, it is the worst environmental issue, it caused record snows in Colorado and record drought in France at the same time, more severe hurricanes -- all matter of fact.

Sports Illustrated used to be a serious magazine. Its beat was frivolous to some, but its writing quality was superb and its topics were often serious. I guess they used to have editors.

Hat-tip: ThreeSources friend SugarChuck by email.


March 7, 2007

Buffy Season Eight

In comic book form, executive-produced by Joss Whedon.

On March 14, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" will return in comic book form. Joss Whedon, "Buffy's" creator, has written the first five issues and will oversee — or "executive produce," he says — the whole arc as if it were a television show. Whedon has enlisted former "Buffy" staff writers, along with a few writers from the comic book world, to join him in continuing the story, which is scheduled to run for at least 30 issues to be released monthly. Whedon, the show's fans and the series' publisher, Dark Horse Comics, have deemed it "Buffy Season Eight."

"When you create a universe, you don't stop living in that universe — I know a lot of the fans didn't," Whedon said. "But I was surprised to find myself back in it so firmly as well."


Not my first choice of formats, but I'm in all the same.

Hat-tip: thinkthereforeierr

Posted by John Kranz at 5:34 PM

Life Imitates ThreeSources

I made a goofy suggestion in a comment that VP AL Gore was offsetting his preternatural energy use by consuming cows.

PETA wonders why the enviros ignore the largest contributor to greenhouse gases, and Jules Crittenden sides with them (once).

Norfolk, Va. -- This morning, PETA sent a letter to former vice president Al Gore explaining to him that the best way to fight global warming is to go vegetarian and offering to cook him faux "fried chicken" as an introduction to meat-free meals. In its letter, PETA points out that Gore's film, An Inconvenient Truth--which starkly outlines the potentially catastrophic effects of global warming and just won the Academy Award for "Best Documentary"--has failed to address the fact that the meat industry is the largest contributor to greenhouse-gas emissions.

Crittenden:
I'm sorry to be redundant about this, but I don't think people fully appreciate the logic. Meat eating is either the number one cause of GW or it is not. If it is the number one cause, then why are the GW people not talking about it? Even the skeptics are not focusing on meat as they should be. I think meat may be the Achilles Heel of GW, as it puts the lie to them. The skeptics should be pressing it. I think the logic is being blurred for several reasons. One is that lot of people think we should conserve (we should), and end our dependence on foreign oil (we should). This does not mean that CO2 is being released in sufficient quantities to cause climate change, though. People rationalize going along with the GW scare because we need to conserve, and they forget that conservation of oil is a different issue. (I think it's right to conserve oil and reduce dependency, but I think fudging the issue is manipulative.)

I'm thinking of a hybrid, half cow-half chicken, think I can get some Federal subsidies?

But mdmhvonpa thinks:

Ostrich. Sorry, you've been beaten to the punch. Although, you can't milk one of them nasty birds but you cannot get eggs from cows either.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at March 7, 2007 2:33 PM
But jk thinks:

Good point. I dunno, with some Federal $$$, we could perhaps develop the dairy ostrich...

Posted by: jk at March 7, 2007 2:49 PM

Scandal or SOP?

Standard Operating Procedure for government work.

Ronald Bailey on Reason Magazine’s Hit & Run blog hits a theme I also heard from Fred Barnes on FOXNews last night. The "scandalous" treatment of wounded soldiers at Walter Reed is indeed an outrage, but it is also how the government does business and what we should expect when we create our own American version of the UK's NHS:

Well, look no further than the scandalous mess at Walter Reed Army Hospital. Crappy hospitals, endless waits, mountains of paperwork and, at the end of the day, no real accountability from the people who run the joint. Folks, if the government can't or won't take good care of our injured soldiers, what makes you think that it will take good care of little Sally or Uncle Bill?

Health care in the United States is screwed up. This is largely due to bad government policies, e.g., third party payment encouraged through the tax code and multiplying state insurance mandates that unnecessarily boost costs. As the example of Walter Reed is warning us, putting total control of all health care in the hands of those who wrecked it in first place--Congress, states and federal agencies--is the wrong way to go.

Hat-tip: Everyday Economist

Pharmaceuticals Posted by John Kranz at 12:50 PM

Campaign Finance

The "middle editorial" in the WSJ Ed Page today was written to show how petty and churlish the Junior Senator from Massachusetts is. I'm far too big a man to reprint it just as an attack on Senator Kerry (who am I kidding?) but there is a more important element between the lines.

Last week Sam Fox, a 77-year-old St. Louis businessman, sat before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for a confirmation hearing widely expected to be uncontroversial. But in the 2004 campaign, Mr. Fox gave $50,000 to the Kerry opposition group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.

After some desultory questioning about "the image of America in Europe," Mr. Kerry solicited Mr. Fox's opinions as to "the politics of personal destruction" -- to which Mr. Fox replied, "Senator, you're a hero." Not good enough. Mr. Kerry launched into a harangue about 527 committees (the Swift Boaters were one of those) and other affronts to his station in life, none of which were germane to Mr. Fox's qualifications to serve.

Mr. Kerry: "Do you think this should matter to me?" Mr. Fox: "I'm sorry?" Mr. Kerry: "Do you think this should matter to me?" Mr. Fox: "Yes, I do, I do." Mr. Kerry: "Do you think it should matter to everybody here, as a Senator?"


This is a stunning reminder that even the relatively benign and uncontroversial demands for transparency are a violation of our right to free speech. "Do you think, Senator, that you have any business knowing how much the 77-year old nominee for Ambassador to Belgium gave to your opponents in a previous election?"

Unlimited free speech == unlimited anonymous donations to any political candidate, party or interest group. Sorry, Senator McCain, that would be a right.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 10:12 AM

March 6, 2007

The Great Global Warming Swindle

Fortunate viewers in the UK are two days away from the premiere of An Inconvenient Truth - The Sequel:

The film argues that the earth's climate is always changing, and that rapid warmings and coolings took place long before the burning of fossil fuels. It argues that the present single-minded focus on reducing carbon emissions not only may have little impact on climate change, it may also have the unintended consequence of stifling development in the third world, prolonging endemic poverty and disease.

Thomas Jefferson wrote, "The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as His father, in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter." I think that day is still a far distant hope, but I'm encouraged the same may soon be said about the melting of polar ice, from the proliferation of soda bubbles, borne by men and their labor saving machines.

But jk thinks:

DAWG skeptics have enjoyed a great week this week.

I fear for the blog's popularity though jg: don't chase off the Zoroastrians, they're about all we have left...

Posted by: jk at March 6, 2007 4:23 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Hey, it's not me... it's that $%)#*& liberal Thomas Jefferson!

Posted by: johngalt at March 7, 2007 10:43 AM

50 years from now...

50 years from now you'll be able to tell your grandchildren, "I was alive when plain English was spoken at the U.N." Sadly, those days are behind us now. But the man who did so is still riding shotgun on America's diplomatic corps as it whistles past the graveyard that is the DPRK.

In The North Korea Climbdown Bolton writes:

The reports raise three separate issues. First, what exactly is the intelligence judgment about North Korea's enrichment activities, and how valid was it in 2002? Second, what are the implications for the administration's ongoing negotiations with North Korea? And third, is Mr./Ms. ASO speaking for the Bush administration, or for those elements in the permanent bureaucracy that have consistently opposed key elements of the Bush foreign policy, at least as conducted until recently?

He then elaborates on the second issue:

North Korea's aggressive mendacity puts it near the top of the list, perhaps tied with Iran for the lead, of countries that need the most transparent, most intrusive, most pervasive verification systems. For America to agree to anything less would be to make our national security, and that of close friends and allies like Japan, dependent on North Korea's word--never a safe bet. And yet, it is precisely this extensive verification system that the North cannot accept, because the transparency we must require would threaten the very rock of domestic oppression on which the North Korean regime rests. North Korea's negotiators understand this contradiction. So do ours.

The only way around this problem is to conclude it doesn't exist, or is so minimal it can be "fixed" in negotiations. That's why Mr./Ms. ASO was busy, laying the foundation to argue that further deals with North Korea do not require much, if any, verification beyond what little the International Atomic Energy Agency can provide. If we continue this approach, what is already a bad deal will become a dangerous deal, whether we make it with North Korea directly or in the six-party talks. (As Nick Eberstadt has put it, a bad agreement with six parties is no better than a bad agreement with two parties.)

Bolton concludes by challenging the president to reign in the "permanent bureaucracy" and hold Pyongyang's feet to the fire. Personally I think Bush and Cheney have decided to put this issue on simmer, leave it for the next administration, and focus on the signature foreign policy issue of this administration: capturing or killing big name terrorists. The Iraq "surge," the Afghanistan "spring offensive," the 82nd Airborne deployment to the Afghan/Pak border, and Cheney's recent trip to Pakistan's capitol all bode well for this assumption.

But jk thinks:

I completely agree. This great nation has its hands full in Iraq and Iran, both of which are pieces of a long term strategic goal.

I'm one of Ambassador Bolton's biggest fans, but his -- and much of the right wing press and punditry's -- carping about the current deal with North Korea ignores the fact that this one can simmer for a while.

Posted by: jk at March 6, 2007 4:20 PM

150 Years Ago

Dred-ed Anniversary

150 years ago Tuesday, the Supreme Court issued a long, muddled opinion in Scott v. Sandford, which Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes later said was the Court’s greatest “self-inflicted wound.” The case was brought by Dred Scott (right), a Missouri slave. Chief Justice Roger Taney, writing for the Court, ruled that African-Americans are not citizens under the Constitution, and could not file suit in federal courts.

I wish I had started my project in time to be completed today, but I will take this opportunity to pass along some personal news.

I have decided to write a book that will center on Dred Scott v. Sandford. I had some definite ideas about its content, but now that I have begun my research, several of my initial assumptions and prejudices have been challenged. I was Amazon's best friend last week and, plowing through the first few books, I am blown away by how interesting this time period is, and am intrigued by the complex characters.

My hope is to devote much of blogging energies to the book. In four years, I have posted 2500+ blog entries. It's been a gas but it occurs to me that the same effort could have produced something of more lasting value.

If my posting deteriorates in quality or quantity, assume the project is going well. If not, know I am goofing off.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:42 PM | What do you think? [1]
But dagny thinks:

Good for you JK. I promise to buy a copy of the book. :-) I think you have taken a huge step to make a committment to writing it.

I have a book running around in my head too. I wish you the very best in your efforts.

Posted by: dagny at March 8, 2007 1:48 PM

On the other hand, she had to date Jon Corzine

Oh, those wacky Garden State Democrats. John Fund in TheWallStreetJournalOpinionJournalPoliticalDiary:

It's the story that will not die. New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine has now admitted making additional large gifts to the leader of a state employee's union whom he dated before becoming governor last year. The revelation has stirred up additional resentment of how Mr. Corzine solved a budget crisis early in his term by refusing to seek even modest concessions from state workers, who benefit from lavish pensions and generous overtime. Instead, Mr. Corzine raised taxes.

Many of the workers who were spared any cuts in their benefit packages belong to the Communications Workers of America, headed by Mr. Corzine's former girlfriend, Carla Katz. In 2005, it was revealed that Mr. Corzine's relationship with Ms. Katz had led to the breakup of then-Sen. Corzine's marriage. Mr. Corzine later acknowledged forgiving a $470,000 loan to Ms. Katz to avoid, as he now says, "ongoing financial connections" after their relationship ended and he was running for governor.

But it appears the $470,000 was only part of a package of gifts that Mr. Corzine bestowed on Ms. Katz. The governor won't disclose exact details or amounts but he admitted to the Newark Star-Ledger that the gifts might have included paying tuition fees for Ms. Katz's children to attend private school -- in itself an interesting choice for a state employee union leader who claims to support public education.

Last year, Ms. Katz did file a financial disclosure form that reported that Mr. Corzine gave an unspecified amount that was more than $1,000 to her and to each of her children during 2005. Otherwise, she is refusing to answer questions about the matter.


Is there anything that would make these people vote for a Republican? Yes, Rudy Giuliani at the head of the ticket.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 12:51 PM

Continued Lack of Introspection

I've long said that the modern liberal does not have a capacity for introspection, or deliberately snuffs it out.

Witness.

[Democrat candidate John] Edwards, in an interview with the Web site Beliefnet.com, said Jesus would be most upset with the selfishness of Americans and the country's willingness to go to war "when it's not necessary."

"I think that Jesus would be disappointed in our ignoring the plight of those around us who are suffering and our focus on our own selfish short-term needs," Edwards told the site. "I think he would be appalled, actually."


Former Senator Edwards then retired to his 20,000 square foot mansion, before stopping off at Al Gore's mansion for a suntan.

I don't be begrudge these men their wares... but c'mon. Look in the mirror once in a while without combing your hair.

But jk thinks:

Please, ac, he has people to comb his hair for him...

Posted by: jk at March 6, 2007 12:47 PM
But AlexC thinks:

Give the man some credit. He combs his own... but the people hold the mirror and spray fixative.

(see video, above, because i can't post a video in the comments)

Posted by: AlexC at March 6, 2007 4:46 PM
But johngalt thinks:

ROTFLMAO! (Make sure your sound is turned on.)

While I'm tempted to engage in a defense of Ann Coulter's recent comment, I won't (because I don't want to have to go into rehab.) Instead I'll remind readers that it's hard work being a wannabe.

Posted by: johngalt at March 6, 2007 7:40 PM

Personal Hype Machine Engaged

Best of the Web

I submitted the "It's Alive" piece.

I believe this is my second. So in the ThreeSources Best of the Web submission contest, I am catching up to JK, who has three or four. Right?

But jk thinks:

Nicely done. I'm at three: one link to a serious piece on pharmaceuticals that I am very proud of and two jokes.

Posted by: jk at March 6, 2007 9:45 AM

March 5, 2007

Lileks vs. The New Design Economy Professor

It's not a fair fight. One of them is Lileks and, as a hunting opponent once asked, "Is it a sport if the other guy doesn't know you're playing?"

Anyhow, James takes down a U of M professor who has written yet another one of those tiresome paeans to the old inner-city life and the horror of the 'burbs. He takes down the academic superciliousness which is fun but, more importantly, he ridicules the "top down" planning of urban planners and dares to praise the freedom and choice that underlie the expansion. A few excerpts:

Beware people who regard the distinctions between public and private as a mere legality, and one based on subjective viewpoint at that. In the end, they can define anything private as public, which gives them the right to take it away. And if you lose something you own, well, “loss” is a subjective concept as well that does not match real life. Or at least the real life you can understand if you have a whole new mind.
[...]
Apparently concern over the level of taxation, its effect on the economy, its use to subsidize behaviors which may not be in the society’s best interest, and the efficiency and scope of government services is the same as thinking we should “not pay taxes.” And note also how the right to privacy, heretofore regarded as the first three words in the Constitution, become a social minus the moment your personal privacy becomes publicly inconvenient, or socially incorrect.
[..]
Freeways, after all, force people to do things against their will. Screaming, weeping, holding on to the door frame until the wood splintered, people were ripped from their city apartments to tidy bungalows in the flat arid hell of suburbia.

I’d suggest that people moved because the new place better suited their needs and desires, and this would seem to suggest good design.

But I’m an amateur at this sort of thing.


Somebody please explain how these illiberal people came to be called liberals again. They want to tell everybody where to live, how to live, what to drive, what to eat -- yet they have successfully appropriated the word liberalism. Mises must spin in his grave.

Posted by John Kranz at 6:09 PM | What do you think? [1]
But AlexC thinks:

Amen. If you do something (usually many) to restrict liberties, you cannot call yourself a liberal.

Posted by: AlexC at March 6, 2007 1:25 AM

Clinton and Obama in Selma

I watched C-SPAN's "Road to the White House" yesterday. It's not that I have no life whatsoever. I had a bad drug reaction and didn't feel well enough to research 19th Century jurisprudence, so I watched the candidates.

Senator Obama was the best of the lot, but he was not pitch perfect by any measure. He gave a good speech, but wandered in text and timbre. At times he would find the prosody of the southern preacher, but the next sentence would come out introspective and overtly nuanced. Good, but not the singing performance we saw at the 2004 convention.

Obama scored some points with me by asking for more responsibility from the African American community. Yes, let's make the schools better -- but let us also teach our children that learning to read is not "acting white." Let us pursue equality in government -- but let us also realize that fatherhood does not end at conception. These were powerful applause lines in the southern, black church and they differentiate Obama from the crowd.

Senator Clinton gave a forced delivery. Many years ago, we all lost track of what the natural HRC looked or talked like. She speechifies instead of speaks now, and she felt that the Reverential Cadence was required. It's true that I'm a tough critic of hers, but I'll have to agree with John Fund, who wrote in OpionionJournal's Political Diary:

Mrs. Clinton also drew a standing-room only crowd, but her speech suffered from her delivery. At times, she sounded shrill or bombastic. Her stirring text made an appealing case for why she as a white woman saw herself as a "grateful beneficiary of Selma" and the progress it sparked, but the crowd reaction was much less than what Bill Clinton would have received. "In [Bill] Clinton's hands that speech would have blown the doors off of the church," one Democratic consultant told me. "It's just the latest example of how she has every asset in this campaign except charisma."

A couple of blogs have made sport of her fake Southern Accent but the whole thing was forced.

I was also struck by the religious pose struck by both candidates. Representing what I think of as the secular party, both took a tone that I cannot imagine a Republic trying. Senator Clinton began with "This is the day that the Lord has made, let us be glad and rejoice!" Senator Obama, in a nice riff, compared the 1965 civil rights marchers to "the Moses Generation" and his "the Joshua Generation" needing to complete the hard work the first have started. It made a good point, and it gave homage to the oldsters without pledging fealty to the Sharpton-Jackson-Mfume wing.

Yet I cannot imagine a GOP candidate trying -- or getting away with -- a parable as political speech. Rightly or wrongly, I think they'd be hung in the press.

From Alabama. C-SPAN took us next to New Hampshire, to a house meeting with Senator John Edwards. He was likeable. Of course, he spoke all the claptrap about the need for unions and the vanishing middle class, the need for universal health care (which he’ll pay for by [everybody sing] "rolling back the Bush tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans!") Somebody teed up a softball question for him on how his campaign will differ from Kerry-Edwards 2004. The questioner was giving him a chance to whine about how the election was stolen, but Edwards answered a better question. I won't talk about the other campaign, but I will talk about mine and you can draw the difference, said Edwards. Every American will know exactly where I stand on nationalized health care, I'm for it, raising people out of poverty, I'm against it [yes, he said that but the tone made clear what he was saying] and where I stand on Iraq.

I must struggle to say something nice about Senator Edwards, so I'll take that. He will stake out his positions more than his Democratic opponents. Yes, he's pandered a bit on Israel and Iran, but he won’t triangulate or nuance the electorate to death. People will know where he stands, and if the nation should vote for that, perhaps the nation deserves him.

No, I don't think I’ll be switching parties anytime soon.


2008 Race Posted by John Kranz at 1:55 PM

A Toast to Baghdad

Muhammad and Omar from the great blog, IraqTheModel, have a guest editorial in the Wall Street Journal today, saying the things I am thinking but am afraid to say out loud: the surge is working.

So after only a couple weeks we can feel, despite the continuing violence, that much has been accomplished. Many Baghdadis feel hopeful again about the future, and the fear of civil war is slowly being replaced by optimism that peace might one day return to this city. This change in mood is something huge by itself.

The brightest image of the past two weeks was the scene of displaced families returning home; more than a thousand families are back to their homes under the protection of the Army and police. This figure invites hope that Baghdad will restore its social, ethnic and religious mosaic.

Marketplaces are seeing more activity and stores that were long shuttered are reopening -- including even some liquor stores that came under vicious attacks in the past. This is a sign that extremists no longer can intimidate people and hold the city hostage. All of this gives the sense that law is being imposed.

Checkpoints are not seen as scary threats to the innocent. They look more professional and impartial as they include members of the police, Army, Multinational Forces and even traffic cops with laptops verifying registration papers. We've lost the fear that checkpoints might be traps set by death squads; they search everyone, even official convoys and ambulances.

We feel safer about moving in the city now, and politicians who used to hide behind the walls of the Green Zone are venturing out. Watching Mr. Maliki walking on Palestine Street in central Baghdad gave a positive impression that the state, and not the gangs, owns the streets.


No doubt dark days lie ahead. But if Iraq can gain some security in its capital, that sets a foundation for order.

Freedom on the March Posted by John Kranz at 11:06 AM

March 4, 2007

Willful Ignorance?

At dinner this evening, one of my liberal companions made the comment that something to the effect of plenty of people have been killed in the name of Christianity.

"Kill 'em cause they're not Christian" (or some such nonsense, using a first person "yokel" voice)

To which I responded "Nothing compared to the hundred million killed by communist and socialist atheists in the 20th Century."

He couldn't believe what he heard.

"100 million? Where?" He faced betrayed complete ignorance.

At this point, my blood pressure is zoooooooming.

"60 million on the Great Leap Forward in China, tens of millions in Russia, including the forced Ukrainian Famine, Nazis throughout Europe."

Someone else at the table kicked in "millions in the Killing Fields."

The litany goes on and on... North Korea, Vietnam.

How is it possible that a someone in their fifties, an admitted liberal, who was in the Peace Corps (as a teacher), doesn't know about the murderous record in the name of equality.

I'm sitting here still NOT understanding how this is possible.

Forget global warming denying. There is such a thing as communist denying.

But TrekMedic251 thinks:

I'm having a harder time believing you actually acknowledge having liberal friends!

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at March 4, 2007 9:45 AM
But AlexC thinks:

I have liberal friends, this guy is not one.

Posted by: AlexC at March 4, 2007 11:45 AM
But Terri thinks:

Willful ignorance is the truth. I was at a bookclub once with a bunch of liberal friends who in the past had loudly discussed how we should be out of Iraq. This meeting included how we should be IN Darfur. Sadly when you point out the inconsistencies in argument, they may shush at that moment in time but self reflection isn't something we do well!

Posted by: Terri at March 5, 2007 11:13 AM

March 3, 2007

Forgiving Electorate?

I guess if President Bush was elected in spite of the last minute DUI, perhaps Senator Clinton can be elected in spite of this picture:

clintons.jpg


But I'm not certain.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:04 PM | What do you think? [4]
But AlexC thinks:

Doesn't everyone get a pass on the 70s? The whole decade was full of this stuff.

Posted by: AlexC at March 3, 2007 4:25 PM
But jk thinks:

I'll support a blanket pass on the 70's. I went to a high school in my new leisure suit only to have my date exclaim "we have a tablecloth just like that on out picnic table!"

Posted by: jk at March 3, 2007 4:36 PM
But AlexC thinks:

About a month ago, I was going through my parent's old pictures from the 70s with my daughter.

It's amazing my dad is a member of the gene pool with the stuff he wore. Everyone must've been on drugs.

Posted by: AlexC at March 3, 2007 10:39 PM
But jk thinks:

Oh. well, yeah. We were. You think a narmal human brain would put on a rayon print sirt and a lesiure suit, and think it loks good?

Posted by: jk at March 5, 2007 4:51 PM

March 2, 2007


VP Gore's House Threatens Solar System

Vice President Albert Gore, Jr.'s palatial estate in the tony Belle Meade section of Nashville uses so much energy, that the carbon dioxide produced is now threatening neighboring planets.

Mars Melt Hints at Solar, Not Human, Cause for Warming, Scientist Says

Simultaneous warming on Earth and Mars suggests that our planet's recent climate changes have a natural—and not a human- induced—cause, according to one scientist's controversial theory.

Earth is currently experiencing rapid warming, which the vast majority of climate scientists says is due to humans pumping huge amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Mars, too, appears to be enjoying more mild and balmy temperatures.

In 2005 data from NASA's Mars Global Surveyor and Odyssey missions revealed that the carbon dioxide "ice caps" near Mars's south pole had been diminishing for three summers in a row.


Of course, the theory that it is caused by solar activity is plausible. But I have been told that the science is settled. Global warming is anthropogenic. And apparently extraterrestrial.

Hat-tip: Instapundit


March 1, 2007

Seven Minutes

I had heard about this, but I finally followed an Extreme Mortman link, and watched this speech by Rep. Sam Johnson’s (R-TX).

Must watch.

But TrekMedic251 thinks:

I did a few weeks ago. It sent chills down my spine!

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at March 1, 2007 9:53 PM

Happy Blogiversary to me...

Perry got me thinking -- yesterday was the fourth anniversary of my first blog entry.

Posted by John Kranz at 5:57 PM

Happy Blogiversary

Cheers, Perry! Eidelblog: Two years later

I'm goin' on four, and I never met Larry Kudlow...

Media and Blogging Posted by John Kranz at 3:50 PM

Hugh on Rudy's judges

This was going to be an update to another post, but I'm feeling loquacious.

Hugh Hewitt, a Romney supporter and -- I would suggest -- as interested in good judicial appointments as anybody, answers the politico charge in a Townhall column. I gotta tell you, I like what I hear. He referenced Ted Olsen as a key adviser for judicial issues in a Giuliani administration. If President Rudy starts with Olsen's advice, we're going to end up in a good place.

Even more than what he said, I like this guy's tone. Here's what he said about President Bush's picks:

RG: I’m going to say I’d put people like…I mean, the best way to do it is to just say I would, I could just have easily have appointed Sam Alito or Chief Justice Roberts as President Bush did, in fact. I’d have been pretty proud of myself if I had been smart enough to make that choice if I were the president.

Compare that to Senator McCain calling Iraq "a train wreck!" and his global warming strategy "a disaster!" and now saying that lives were "wasted" in Iraq.

I like the guy's style. I still remember him on 9/11. A reporter was pushing him to speculate on a casualty figure and he said "the losses will be more than we can bear." That's still the greatest thing I have ever heard a politician say. I want to caution folks from leaving Hizzoner over this datum. The man has a candor that sets him apart from everybody else in the race. Give him a chance. Ted Olsen's SCOTUS picks are fine by me.


Posted by John Kranz at 1:45 PM

Rudy's Judges

A good friend of this blog emails a Politico.com link: Giuliani-Appointed Judges Tend to Lean to the Left

When Rudy Giuliani faces Republicans concerned about his support of gay rights and legal abortion, he reassures them that he is a conservative on the decisions that matter most.

"I would want judges who are strict constructionists because I am," he told South Carolina Republicans last month. "Those are the kinds of justices I would appoint -- Scalia, Alito and Roberts."

But most of Giuliani's judicial appointments during his eight years as mayor of New York were hardly in the model of Chief Justice John Roberts or Samuel Alito -- much less aggressive conservatives in the mold of Antonin Scalia.

A Politico review of the 75 judges Giuliani appointed to three of New York state's lower courts found that Democrats outnumbered Republicans by more than 8 to 1. One of his appointments was an officer of the International Association of Lesbian and Gay Judges. Another ruled that the state law banning liquor sales on Sundays was unconstitutional because it was insufficiently secular.


I'm rather unfazed, for three reasons:

1) He was Mayor of New York, and was not elected with a conservative mandate. A good friend of mine registers himself as a Democrat in Boulder, although he is about as much a Democrat as is Karl Rove. He explains that that is the game in Boulder, and if you want to play, you play on that field. I think this applies to NYC judges as well.

2) I love Nino (Associate Justice Scalia) as much as anybody, but after Raich I realized that he is not the ideal justice (Clarence Thomas may be). I think Scalia legislates conservatism from the bench. My ideal justice interprets. And being an officer of the International Assn of Gay and Lesbian Judges does not preclude that. I concur that not selling liquor on Sunday is non-secular and likely conflicts with the New York State Constitution.

3) I don't like this one, but I am going to use it many times. Republican voters do not have the deep bench in 2008 that they did in 2000. If Phil Grahm decides to run instead of flacking for Senator McCain, I may switch. In the meantime, there is nobody else in the race who interests me at all.

Giuliani 2008. Though I will concede that judges -- irrespective of campaign promises -- would be the weak link in my support.

2008 Race Posted by John Kranz at 11:19 AM | What do you think? [3]
But AlexC thinks:

Gingrich?

Posted by: AlexC at March 1, 2007 12:58 PM
But Terri thinks:

I'm with you JK. I would easily vote for Rudy. (actually, any of the Republican field over the Dems)

Posted by: Terri at March 1, 2007 1:48 PM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Rudy and/or McCain over Shrillary and/or Obama in Pennsylvania! Holy s**t, how did THAT happen??

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at March 1, 2007 9:55 PM

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