May 31, 2007

Obama Heath Plan


(2007-05-30) — Democrat presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, D-IL, unveiled a universal health care plan yesterday, which would boost taxes on the rich to fund care for the poor and would mandate involuntary organ donations from healthy, wealthy Americans to their ailing, impoverished counterparts.

“Taking money from the wealthy to fund care for the rest of us is no real sacrifice,” said Sen. Obama. “The rich know how to make money and they’ll just go out and get some more. In Obama’s America, if the lower middle class suffers, the upper class should feel their pain. That’s the philosophy behind my health plan, and in fact, it is the ideology upon which this great Democrat party stands.”

Hat-tip: Club for Growth

Posted by John Kranz at 6:36 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Club for Growth calls this "laugh out loud satire." I call it too close for comfort.

I did a double-take on "involuntary organ donations [from rich to poor]" but I did believe it - and I wasn't laughing. I actually visualized this coming out of BO's mouth. I'm a little miffed that I was fooled by it. But what is the difference, really, between involuntarily taking pieces of someone's body or part of the prosperity that was earned with that body?

As I explained to sympathetic but misguided familyh members last night, "morality to Democrats means that nobody can prosper more than anyone else." This satire takes that ideology to its logical end.

Posted by: johngalt at June 2, 2007 10:28 AM

Internecine, Episode I

I have the first show's guests:

NRO Corner

We hereby challenge the Journal’s editors to debate the immigration bill in a neutral venue with a moderator of their choosing — two or three of us versus any two or three of them. We propose to do it in Washington next week so it will have the maximum impact on the Senate’s consideration of the most sweeping immigration reform in decades (time and place to be worked out in a mutually satisfactory fashion).

Internecine Posted by John Kranz at 4:16 PM

Immigration: the Market Speaks

My right-wing crazy buddies at the WSJ Editorial Page deliver a little badly needed cover for the "liberal-on-immigration" Republicans today.

First is a guest editorial (paid link) by Gov. Jeb Bush and former RNC Chief Ken Mehlman supporting the current Immigration Bill.

Immigration reform is very tough. It's an issue that divides both political parties and, on the right, has led many close personal and ideological friends -- people we respect and whose criticism we take seriously -- to oppose new rules governing how people enter this country and how we handle those who are here illegally. But we hope our friends reconsider.

We support the immigration reform compromise worked out in the Senate for a few simple reasons. It strengthens our national defense. It makes our economy more competitive and flexible. It enhances the rule of law and promotes national unity. And it also does these things in a fair, practical way.

Here's what the bill does not do. It does not grant amnesty to the 12 million illegal immigrants already in the country and nor does it give a free pass to others who want to enter the country illegally.

The bill provides real border security for the first time, protecting us against the entry of terrorists and stemming the flow of illegal drugs. It doubles the border patrol, expands the border fence and informs law enforcement about foreign nationals in the United States. Because it requires foreign workers to carry tamper-proof identification, both law enforcement and employers will be able to identify and apprehend those who violate the law.

The temporary worker program will reduce the number of people trying to sneak past the border patrol, allowing law enforcement to focus on those who pose a threat to the U.S. By putting border security first, this immigration reform adds a provision that many Republicans suggested last year. It adopts the "trigger" mechanism suggested by Sen. Johnny Isaacson, a Georgia Republican. Until and unless security improves on the border, the temporary worker program and "Z" visa provision for three-year work permits will not be implemented.

Second is Dan Henninger's Wonderland column (free link). Henninger suggests that the quantity and destination of the immigrant flow is a perfect example of market forces at work, and he challenged conservatives who champion the market to recognize this.

Conservatives and liberals will fight unto eternity over whose notions of the law, society and justice are right. But the one idea owned by conservatives is the market.

For many Democrats in politics, the market--the daily machinery of the private economy--is a semi-abstraction. It's a barely understood thing that mainly sends revenue to the government, without which the nation is incapable of achieving social good. Liberals happily concede the idea of salutary "market forces" to their opposition. For them, markets are for taming.

Why, then, would Republican politicians and conservative writers want to run the risk of undermining, perhaps for a long time, their core belief in the broad benefits of free-market economic forces in return for a law that hammers these illegal Mexicans?

If I'm a liberal or progressive Democrat, I'm gleeful to see conservative foes who have preached "the market" at me since the days of FDR now arguing that these millions of workers are an artificial, "unskilled" labor force whose presence merely prevents "the market" from replacing them with machines.

Conservatives also argue, with considerable force, that any conceivable path to citizenship or guest-worker status for these workers--no matter how long or arduous--would be "amnesty" and so make a mockery of the rule of law. But so massively setting aside years of principled, market-based argument--the environment, pharmaceuticals, labor, antitrust--to thwart these movements of immigrants is a risky proposition.

Immigration is down this year without a post hole for a fence having been dug. Immigrants come when their relatives tell them there is work, Henninger is right.

Immigration Posted by John Kranz at 1:47 PM | What do you think? [4]
But Terri thinks:

I've argued in the past and I think it's only right that if business gets to cross borders without barriers (ala NAFTA), then so too should workers.
BUT - it should all be on the up and up. Just like we know what American businesses are in Mexico and which Mexican businesses are here, we should know which workers are in either country too.
This can't be done if the border is non existent.

Posted by: Terri at June 1, 2007 11:28 AM
But jk thinks:

I agree. I think a regularized border that provides enough workers with safe, legal crossing is the best way to know who's here.

Posted by: jk at June 1, 2007 1:49 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I so dearly wish to comment on these assertions, and I won't have just one "little flaw" to pick on, yet I haven't had the requisite spare moments in the past 24 hours. Stay tuned.

(And even if brother AC beats me to it, I'm sure I can push his pile even higher.)

Posted by: johngalt at June 1, 2007 4:19 PM
But johngalt thinks:

First Jeb Bush -

"It strengthens national defense" by hiring x more government border agents to enforce the same flawed policies on the border?

"It makes our economy more competitive and flexible" by adding dependents to the welfare state?

"It enhances the rule of law" by eliminating laws that don't rule "and promotes national unity" by splitting the Republican party?

"It does not grant amnesty to the 12 [or whatever] million illegal immigrants already in this country" but it does, somehow, make them legal. Curious.

"The bill provides real border security for the first time" because this time, we mean it!

And then Henninger -

Who is picking "one little aspect" now? The particular anti-illegal immigration argument that Dan chooses to assail happens to be the one that is used principally by unions and their members, not by mainstream conservative thinkers.

I personally don't see the urgency to change the status of illegal workers (unless your goal is to "bring them out of the shadows" and into the great society.) Let them stay. Let them work. Don't let them collect $200 for passing go or stay in this country if they commit a violent crime. Biometrically ID them and deport them. That option goes away when they all become "legal."

Posted by: johngalt at June 2, 2007 11:09 AM

Dueling Headlines

AP goes with "Economy has worst growth since 2002"

WASHINGTON - The economy nearly stalled in the first quarter with growth slowing to a pace of just 0.6 percent. That was the worst three-month showing in over four years.

But I'm tempted to go with "Economy Grows for 23 consecutive Quarters." Yeah, that's Pollyanna on steroids, but once you get past the lede, the news is not so bad:
[..] fewer people signed up for unemployment benefits last week. New filings dropped by 4,000 to 310,000. That suggests the employment climate is weathering well the economy's sluggish spell.

[...] construction spending edged up by 0.1 percent in April, down from a 0.6 percent gain in the previous month. Spending by private builders on nonresidential projects and spending by the government on big projects each climbed to all time highs in April but that strength was tempered by continued weakness in residential construction.

In the GDP report, many economists believe the first quarter will be the low point for this year. They expect growth will improve but still be sluggish.

[...] Investment in home building was cut by 15.4 percent, on an annualized basis, in the first quarter. However, that wasn't as deep a cut as the 17 percent annualized drop initally [sic] estimated. And, it wasn't as severe as the 19.8 percent annualized drop seen in the final quarter of last year.

[...] Consumers boosted their spending by a 4.4 percent growth rate in the first quarter, the most in a year. Consumer spending accounts for a major chunk of economic activity.

[...] Companies profits gained a bit of ground in the first quarter. One measure showed after tax profits rising by 1 percent, up from 0.8 percent in the fourth quarter.

Not mentioned were the record closes for the DJIA, S&P 500 and Russel2K.

Media and Blogging Posted by John Kranz at 10:31 AM

May 30, 2007

Thank You John Stossel

In RCP, John Stossel explains Adam Smith better than Mr. Smith and even better than PJ O'Rourke's book explaining Adam Smith. He relates trade to the purchase of coffee.

How many times have you paid $1 for a cup of coffee and after the clerk said, "thank you," you responded, "thank you"? There's a wealth of economics wisdom in the weird double thank-you moment. Why does it happen? Because you want the coffee more than the buck, and the store wants the buck more than the coffee. Both of you win.

In related news, a new drive-trough Starbucks has now opened about a mile from my house. Short jk futures, dude's gonna be broke.

Hat-tip: Greg Mankiw

But johngalt thinks:

But what about "coffee gouging?" Does Stossel explain why the government refuses to curb the "obscene coffee profits" that result from $4 venti lattes?

Posted by: johngalt at May 30, 2007 7:40 PM
But jk thinks:

Clearly, Stossel is in the tank for big coffee.

Posted by: jk at May 31, 2007 10:30 AM
But Terri thinks:

"Coffee Gouging"?
You've missed the basics of the free markets. FIRST you get the people hooked into that special feeling. THEN you jack up the price by increasing the "value".

That venti really means $3 vs joe which means $0.50.

Posted by: Terri at May 31, 2007 10:47 AM

S&P Record Close

Commence modest levels of rational exuberance:

The S&P 500 rallied to a new record close today, a long seven years since its last record close of 1527.46, on March 24, 2000. It had flirted with the record for several days, but when all eyes were on the index, it hit resistance and was never able to make that last push higher. It fell back in the past few sessions, and the record talk receded.

But amid an optimistic reading of the Federal Reserve's meeting minutes and despite a market meltdown in Shanghai, the broad stock index unexpectedly sailed over the hump near the end of the session to close at a new high mark.

"While there are a lot of indexes, the S&P 500 is the best measure of the total market," said John Bogle, founder of mutual-fund giant Vanguard Group Inc. "I don't think one should ascribe too much to it," he said, but "it suggests that American business is worth a lot more than it was some years ago -- and I'm sure that's the case."

The S&P 500 gained 12.12 to 1530.23, surging over its record-closing level in the last hour of the day.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:41 PM | What do you think? [2]
But AlexC thinks:

Sell Sell SELL!

Posted by: AlexC at May 30, 2007 5:18 PM
But jk thinks:

Views represented by commentators are solely their personal views and do not represent the opinions of or its sponsors.

Posted by: jk at May 30, 2007 6:12 PM


July the fourth.

Fred Dalton Thompson is planning to enter the presidential race over the Fourth of July holiday, announcing that week that he has already raised several million dollars and is being backed by insiders from the past three Republican administrations, Thompson advisers told The Politico.

Thompson, the "Law and Order" star and former U.S. senator from Tennessee, has been publicly coy, even as people close to him have been furiously preparing for a late entry into the wide-open contest. But the advisers said Thompson dropped all pretenses on Tuesday afternoon during a conference call with more than 100 potential donors, each of whom was urged to raise about $50,000.

2008 Race Posted by AlexC at 11:51 AM

Speaking Truth to Power

Or at least speaking truth to moonbats. Blog friend Sugarchuck sends a link to an article in The Nation magazine where Alexander Cockburn defends himself for his aposty of questioning Deleterious Anthropogenic Warming of the Globe (DAWG) in the lefties' flagship publication.

I began this series of critiques of the greenhouse fearmongers with an evocation of the papal indulgences of the Middle Ages as precursors of the "carbon credits"--ready relief for carbon sinners burdened, because all humans exhale carbon, with original sin. In the Middle Ages they burned heretics, and after reading through the hefty pile of abusive comments and supposed refutations of my initial article on global warming I'm fairly sure that the critics would be only too happy to cash in whatever carbon credits they have and torch me without further ado.

The greenhouse fearmongers explode at the first critical word, and have contrived a series of primitive rhetorical pandybats, which they flourish in retaliation. Those who disagree with their claim that anthropogenic CO2 is the cause of the small, measured increase in the average earth's surface temperature are stigmatized as "denialists," a charge that scurrilously combines an acoustic intimation of nihilism with a suggested affinity to those who insist the Holocaust never took place.

This is one little datum, but the computer model I feed it into suggests that the warmies may have overplayed their hand with their apocalyptic predictions, overwrought rhetoric, and scientific arm-twisting. More people are recognizing that this is not science anymore.

Hat-tip to sc -- reading The Nation so you don't have to!

May 29, 2007

Hurricanes May Predate Bush Presidency

Looking back at 5,000 years of hurricane data suggested by soil samples, a scientist has determined that "There are stormy periods and more placid epochs -- and they alternate back and forth." Who'd have thought?

The samples have allowed hurricane historian Donnelly from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) to look more than 5,000 years into our planet's past. And what he found may have profound implications for our understanding of the effects of global warming on violent storms. The frequency of fierce storms that sweep into the Caribbean and onto the Puerto Rican island of Vieques varies considerably. There are stormy periods and more placid epochs -- and they alternate back and forth.

Donnelly and his colleague Johnathan Woodruff listed their results in a recent issue of the scientific journal Nature. Hurricanes, they wrote, regularly struck the lagoon between 5,450 and 3,650 years ago. This period of intense hurricane activity was interrupted only briefly by a 150 year respite. After that period, there were only few hurricanes -- until about 2,550 years ago, when an interval characterized by a relatively high number of strong hurricanes began, continuing until the next quite phase, which began about 1,050 years ago. But during the last 300 years, the lagoon has once more been exposed to a higher number of violent hurricanes -- just as the unpleasant storms have been multiplying elsewhere as well.

I hate to be flip -- it is an interesting study. And even Der Spiegel has to admit that "The samples suggest that recent devastating storms may not necessarily be linked to global warming."

Hat-tip: I Think ^(Link) Therefore I Err

Crazy Uncle Jack


This scandalous conduct would be unknown except for reforms by the new Democratic majority. But the remodeled system is not sufficiently transparent to expose in a timely manner machinations of Murtha and fellow earmarkers to his colleagues, much less to the public. It took Republican Rep. Jeff Flake of Arizona, the leading House earmark-buster, to discover the truth.

Jack Murtha, the maestro of imposing personal preferences on the appropriations process, looks increasingly like an embarrassment to Congress and the Democratic Party. But there is no Democratic will to curb Murtha, one of Speaker Nancy Pelosi's closest associates. Nor are Republicans eager for a crackdown endangering their own earmarkers.

In the old days, the crazy uncle (or aunt) would be locked in a basement and discussed in hushed tones. Now they're major players. ;)

110th Congress Posted by AlexC at 12:00 PM

AP Admits to Strong Economy

One of the signs of the apocalypse, no doubt.

Regarding the demand for large cranes...

Commercial building is hot in Texas, Florida, California, New York and other parts of the West Coast, Midwest and Northeast, industry officials say. Spending on nonresidential construction was up nearly 14 percent during the first three months of 2007 from last year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Ken Simonson, chief economist with The Associated General Contractors of America, said much of that spending involves crane projects, such as multistory hotels and offices.

A strong economy, including favorable consumer spending and employment rates, is helping to fuel the projects, despite a slowdown in home construction. Projected power and transportation needs could also result in construction activity such as power plants, wind farms, transmission towers and highways.

"All of those will require lots of high or heavy lifting," Simonson said.

There's always a bit of a dark cloud, but hey, it's progress.

Economics and Markets Posted by AlexC at 11:35 AM

Mopar Malaise

Everybody talks about legacy heath care costs and their effect on the competitiveness of GM, Ford and Chrysler. James Surowecki has an article in the New Yorker (complete with cartoon!) where "The Wisdom of Crowds" author explains that Cerberus faces more problems than health care:

A 2006 report by the Harbour-Felax Group, a well-respected automotive-industry analyst, concluded that in 2005 Chrysler’s health-care costs were about eleven hundred dollars more per vehicle than Toyota’s. But even if that gap were closed Chrysler and other U.S. automakers would be far less profitable and would be growing more slowly than their foreign competitors. Ultimately, American manufacturers sell too few cars for too little money, and have to offer too many incentives—thousands in cash back or low-interest financing—on the vehicles they do manage to sell. That same Harbour-Felax report found that, on average, Japanese automakers’ profits for 2005 were twenty-nine hundred dollars more per vehicle sold in the U.S. than those of American automakers. And most of that profit comes not from lower production costs but from the Japanese automakers’ being able to charge more, because their cars are better designed and more reliable, and because their mix of products is smarter. Honda’s revenue per vehicle, for instance, was twenty-six hundred dollars more than Chrysler’s.

So they pay more in health care, more in wages, get less productivity from workers and produce lower profit automobiles. We have a few Mopar fiends around here, but where does this stop? I think the UAW needs to be chased out or defanged. You can trace about all of these problems to union demands and concomitant lack of flexibility.

Read it all. It's short, good, and you get a cartoon. Hat-tip: Everyday Economist

Posted by John Kranz at 11:06 AM | What do you think? [1]
But AlexC thinks:

Why would you work hard if you knew your job was secure? (well, relatively secure)

Why would you work hard if you knew your chances for advancement were not based on your ability, but on your duration?

Unions provide strong disincentives.

Posted by: AlexC at May 29, 2007 11:39 AM

Power Rate Caps Expiring

Another example of why governments ought to stay out of the regulation of markets.

Centre Daily

The tiny Pocono Mountains borough of Milford was among the first to feel the pain from the expiration of rate caps that for a decade have insulated Pennsylvanians from paying the true cost of the electricity they use.

At Luhrs hardware store, the monthly electric bill shot up from $2,500 to $4,200 last year. A resident, Peter Regas, says his family's bills exceeded $1,000 a month last winter, compared with $200 to $300 in the past.

Milford's experience is a reminder that the competition that was supposed to result from the state's electric deregulation, keeping power costs affordable, never materialized. Now, with the expiration of the rate caps, millions of Pennsylvania's utility customers may be in for sticker shock.

It's astounding how that kind of leap of logic can be made. The state government has artificially kept the price of electricity below fair market value, and now that that lid is off, it's a surprise that rates jump?


The answer?

Wait for it.... go to Harrisburg for help.


U.S. Steel Corp. and Allegheny Technologies Inc. say their costs for power in Pennsylvania have climbed about 40 percent in recent years, since the state deregulated its electricity market.

Leaders of the two companies say the state Legislature needs to adopt a plan that once again will allow them to negotiate fixed-price contracts for longer than three years with power providers or local electric-distribution companies, such as Duquesne Light Co.

Gar! Why in the world does the state regulate the length of utilities contracts?! There are teams of business analysts and contracting personnel at the manufacturers and utilities who are more than capable of coming to equitable terms. If US Steel wants a 10 year deal for power, let them.


There is a bright side, however. Less power consumed means less air polluted. Yay environment! For the steel companies, it probably means less steel and less work and fewer workers. Yay environment!

But jk thinks:

Blog friend Sugarchuck sends a link this morning to a NYTimes story about subsidizing coal and coal based diesel.

We can't let the market sort things out?

Posted by: jk at May 29, 2007 9:39 AM

May 28, 2007

Happy Memorial Day II

I have read a dozen great posts about Memorial Day. But don't miss Dean Barnett's late entry:

Even if we put the tendentious political agenda aside, commemorating the fallen as victims does them a profound disservice. If the fallen were anything like any of the men I’ve spoken to who have served in Iraq or who are serving in Iraq or who will serve in Iraq, they would far prefer being celebrated as heroes than mourned as victims.

Heroes are what the fallen were. They didn’t want to pay the ultimate price for their country, but they were willing to do so. Their lives were marked by courage and honor. On this of all days, let’s honor them by doing what they would probably prefer we do - celebrate their virtues and thank God that our country has been blessed with so many men who had such virtues in such abundance.

And let’s further count our blessings that we still have so many of their kind walking among us.

Amen to that.

But johngalt thinks:

Toby Keith put it thusly:

"And I will always do my duty no matter what the price
I’ve counted up the cost, I know the sacrifice
Oh and I don’t want to die for you, but if dyin’s asked of me
I’ll bear that cross with honor, cause freedom don’t come free.

I’m an American Soldier an American
Beside my brothers and my sisters, I will proudly take a stand
When liberty’s in jeopardy, I will always do what’s right

I’m out here on the front lines, sleep in peace tonight
American Soldier, I’m an American, Soldier."

Thanks to all the HEROES who serve.

Posted by: johngalt at May 28, 2007 8:00 PM

Happy Memorial Day


"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigues of supporting it." -Thomas Paine

I'd suggest Michael Yon's "Memorial Day Message" (that's his photo as well). He shares two stories of bravery from wounded soldiers under fire that must be read. He ends, sadly, sadly:
Both men often lamented to me how frustrating it was to be back home and realize that the average American is not aware of practically any of the progress that’s been made in Iraq. Both men darken with something closer to anger when they consider the sacrifices made by fallen soldiers and the fact that while the media most likely counted the deaths in all instances, they also most likely failed to mention any of the good things their fellow soldiers had accomplished while in Iraq.

Thanks to all who serve. Today, special thanks to all who gave all their tomorrows for our todays.

Freedom on the March Posted by John Kranz at 11:14 AM

May 27, 2007



SCIENTISTS have bred cows that produce skimmed milk and hope to establish herds of the cattle to meet the demands of health-conscious consumers.

The milk is also high in omega3 oils, claimed to improve brain power, and contains polyunsaturated fat. The saturated fats found in normal milk are linked to increased risk of heart disease. The cows, which have a particular genetic mutation, were bred from a single female discovered by researchers when they screened milk from millions of cattle in New Zealand.

Butter from these cows has the extra advantage of being spreadable straight from the fridge, like margarine.

Wake me up when we get chocolate milk right from the tap.

Posted by AlexC at 10:40 PM | What do you think? [2]
But jk thinks:

...or you can slaughter them and make veggie-burgers!

Posted by: jk at May 28, 2007 11:50 AM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Can they make 'em lactose-free from the tap, too?

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at May 28, 2007 10:25 PM

May 25, 2007

Gouge 'em

The lead WSJ Editorial today suggests that Congress look in the mirror if it wants to know who is causing "excessive" gasoline prices. The big anti-gouging law will only enrich a few lawyers.

What does "gouging" mean anyway? No one on Capitol Hill can answer that question. The House bill prohibits energy companies from charging a price that is "unconscionably excessive." There's a precise legal term. It further explains that it shall be a crime whenever "the seller is taking unfair advantage of unusual market conditions" or "the circumstances of an emergency to increase prices unreasonably."

Still confused? Perhaps this will help. Gouging occurs, says the bill, whenever "the amount charged represents a gross disparity between the price" sold at the pump "and the average price at which it was offered for sale by the seller during the preceding 30 days." That could cover any price spike for any reason. Or gouging may occur when "the amount charged grossly exceeds the price at which the same or similar crude oil, gasoline, or natural gas was readily obtainable by other purchasers in the same geographic area." So if your oil supplier charges more than a competitor's does and you then raise prices, you could be a felon.

In other words, we are all criminals now. No one seriously believes this law will lower prices for consumers, but you can bet that brigades of lawyers will earn fat fees sorting out what exactly is meant by "unreasonably," "gross disparity" and "excessive."

Now that this law has passed, prices are sure to plummet.

UPDATE: link changed to free site -- thanks to johngalt.

But johngalt thinks:

The link was public this morning:

Posted by: johngalt at May 28, 2007 12:04 PM
But johngalt thinks:

The line that caught my eye, and sent me looking for the story, was this one: "Now that this law has passed..." What? Did the Senate vote on it? Has the president signed it? No, it appears that only Pelosi and Soros' House of Representatives has passed it.

Once actual grownups begin debating this measure, sponsored by the aptly named "Bart Stupak" (D-MI) someone is sure to point out that it will cause gasoline shortages during price spikes. Faced with the government imposed alternatives of selling their product at a loss or comitting a felony, retailers will do neither. Instead they'll just turn off the pumps and wait for the government to cave.

Bart STUPak needs to read this cartoon and the 'Who is Gouging Whom?' excerpt that follows it.

Posted by: johngalt at May 28, 2007 12:15 PM

Murtha, Again!

I think I've had a Jack Murtha post everyday this week.

Here's an op-ed from the Wall Street Journal.

Federal audits had found the [National Drug Intelligence] center to be ineffective and duplicative, but when Mr. Rogers proposed sending that $23 million somewhere else, Mr. Murtha was unamused. "I hope you don't have any earmarks in the defense appropriations bills," Mr. Murtha told him, "because they are gone and you will not get any earmarks now and forever."

This sort of threat was supposed to have gone out with Tom DeLay, as the new Democratic majority banned the bullying in their ethics workbook as Rule 16. But faced with the choice between reprimanding him or reneging on their election mantras, House Democrats opted to back Jack. The no-reprimand vote broke along party lines, with a mere two Democrats saying the issue "deserved debate or a referral to the Ethics Committee."

Mr. Murtha is a cardinal on the Appropriations Committee, a position from which he can easily reward and punish Members who don't support his pork barrel agenda. His job just got easier too, thanks to Appropriations Chairman David Obey. On Tuesday, Mr. Obey announced he will hold back earmarks in appropriations bills until they get to the conference report. That means less transparency and sunshine for the earmarking process, but too bad. "I don't give a damn if people criticize me or not," Mr. Obey said.

Thanks again to Stan!

But jk thinks:

Keep up the good work, Brother ac. He is a respected leader (almost House Majority Leader) and people should know a little more about this guy.

I'm vacationing in sunny Minnesota -- I'll try to take care of the forces of darkness and anti-modernity next week.

Posted by: jk at May 25, 2007 1:03 PM

May 24, 2007

Bush as John Galt

It's no secret that United States President George W. Bush Continues to Support Bipartisan Immigration Proposal. There is a mystery, however. Why?

Conservative icon Rush Limbaugh has struggled with this question, arriving speculatively at the conclusion that the religious president considers it one of his "good works." I've pondered the root cause myself over the past many months since the original Senate proposal last year, with no defensible theory having come forth - until today.

I've defended the concept of unfettered immigration on these pages many times, including once with a checklist of prerequisites. Unfortunately, the single most important prerequisite is also universally understood to be nigh on impossible: Entitlement reform to eliminate the welfare state and end government enforced transfer payments amongst individuals. But now, I think the president has figured out how to actually make this happen.

By adding millions upon millions of new dependents to the American welfare state the system will collapse under its own weight, with massive shortfalls of capital. Future congresses will have only two options: Increase the money supply, creating hyperinflation and economic collapse or, cancel most entitlement programs outright. Brilliant! Life imitates art as Ayn Rand's epic 'Atlas Shrugged' provides the template for productive Americans to demand the second option, leaving the government with no choice but to comply.

Having chosen 'johngalt' as my blog pen name it would be hypocritical of me to continue opposing such a strategy. I just hope Dubya and JK will forgive me for taking so long to come around.

But Charlie on the PA Tpk thinks:

So .. .you're saying he wants the system to collapse, so he's trying to make it happen?

In the long term, with the divisiveness of the party system, if the collapse did happen, the Left would blame Pres. Bush and the Right for letting it happen. Anything short of Socialism would be called 'radical Right Wing'; this would help the nation?

I can't explain Mr. Bush's idea, either; but this doesn't wash with me.

Posted by: Charlie on the PA Tpk at May 25, 2007 8:48 AM
But dagny thinks:


This was a joke. JG's bizarre sarcasm. He doesn't really think that Bush wishes the end of the welfare state. It is only wishful thinking.

Posted by: dagny at May 28, 2007 11:02 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I concede to being guilty of a high degree of "tongue-in-cheekness." My point was that the welfare state is currently in a delicate balance between how much government theft of individual wealth can be perpetrated (through the prevailing moral code of altruism) before enough individuals stop "participating" (effectively going on strike as producers) that the system collapses.

I personally consider Dubya to be far more intelligent than he's credited for (except in the area of altruism) so it logically followed that his steadfast position on legalizing an enormous additional demand on the welfare state is founded in an intentional plan to destabilize it. (Except for the president's unintelligent obedience to the code of altruism.)

I contend that such a crisis would lead to massive reductions in entitlements. Charlie seems to believe the Democrats and their ideas could escape culpability for the crisis. He may well be right, but such a strategy holds more actual promise for my predicted outcome than any other I've yet contemplated.

Posted by: johngalt at May 28, 2007 12:57 PM

May 23, 2007

Municipal Wireless

Philly's wireless plan is coming close... to what I'm not exactly sure.

As municipalities across the country join the Wi-Fi race, the City of Philadelphia is entering the home stretch.

Wireless Philadelphia, the non-profit created by the City to transform Philadelphia's neighborhoods by making high-speed Internet access more available and affordable, is expected later today to approve EarthLink's 15-square-mile Wi-Fi Proof of Concept (POC) area or test zone.

In turn, EarthLink will continue building the 135-square-mile Wi-Fi mesh network, slated for citywide completion in the third quarter of 2007. Mayor John F. Street will announce this development tomorrow in a ceremony at William Penn High School, which is located in the Proof of Concept Zone.

I remember railing on about this at one of my old blogs (unfortunately deleted). The wireless implimentation goals were wildly optimistic. Announce the plan in April, choose vendor by end of June, subscribers by the end of the year. At the time I wondered about the timeline and which cronies were going to get rich off the deal. The former is in the "home stretch," despite having only 10% started. The latter has yet to resolve itself...

The question of why cities should be in the broadband business, was never answered.

In entirely unrelated news, technology analysts doubt municipal networks efficacy.

Because systems are just coming online, it's premature to say how many or which ones will fail under current operating plans, but the early signs are troubling.

"I will be surprised if the majority of these are successful and they do not prove to be drains on taxpayers' money," said Michael Balhoff, former telecom equity analyst with Legg Mason Inc. "The government is getting into hotly contested services."

Most communities, including Lompoc [California], paid for their projects. Elsewhere, private companies agreed to absorb costs for the chance to sell services or ads.

The vendors remain confident despite technical and other problems. Chuck Haas, MetroFi Inc.'s chief executive, said Wi-Fi networks are far cheaper to build than cable or DSL, which provides broadband over phone lines.

Demand could grow once more cell phones can make Wi-Fi calls and as city workers improve productivity by reading electric meters remotely, for instance.

Balhoff, however, believes the successful projects are most likely to be in remote places that traditional service providers skip — and fewer and fewer of those areas exist. Cities, he said, should focus on incentives to draw providers.


Technology Posted by AlexC at 10:47 PM

May 22, 2007

Murtha Escapes

219-189 to table the resolution.

Pa's Tim Murphy was the lone Republican to vote to table.

Congressman Murtha, however, did not escape Citizens Against Government Waste's Porker of the Month award.


110th Congress Posted by AlexC at 5:56 PM

NYTimes: Right on Gouging


The Grey Lady gets bashed enough around here, one must remember that it really is a great newspaper. Today, they're correct on "price gouging" and appropriately dismissive of anti-gouging legislation.

It goes without saying that gasoline retailers and oil companies will seek to maximize their profit, which usually means charging the highest price markets can bear.

But is that price gouging?

Because the demand for gasoline is what economists call inelastic, which means that people cannot quickly reduce their consumption when prices rise sharply, abrupt supply shortages lead to steep price increases without any immediate decline in sales.

The most common reason for such increases in gasoline prices is a steep increase in the price of crude oil. But crude oil prices are set in global markets, and even the biggest American or European oil companies are modest players compared with state-controlled oil companies in the Persian Gulf, Russia and Latin America.

Even the mighty Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, which defines itself as a competition-limiting cartel, has only a limited grip on world oil prices. OPEC countries watched helplessly as oil prices plunged in the early 1980s and remained mired below $20 a barrel for most years (excluding the time of the Persian Gulf War in 1991) through the mid-1990s.

It seems hard to believe today, but world oil prices briefly drifted below $11 a barrel in 1998. Not surprisingly, few lawmakers in Congress took that opportunity to denounce “unconscionably excessive” price declines.

Kinda warms the heart. Hat-tip: Instapundit

UPDATE: Insty also has a YouTube of CNN bashing the Democrats for junkets. Tonight on FOXNews: "Was President Reagan really a weasel?"

Media and Blogging Posted by John Kranz at 4:27 PM

2007 Hurricane Season

Batten down the hatches.

Government forecasters warned of a busier-than-normal hurricane season Tuesday.

National Weather Service forecasters said they expect 13 to 17 tropical storms, with seven to 10 of them becoming hurricanes.

CBS News reports they also believe that 3-5 of the storms will be Category 3 or higher.

An average Atlantic hurricane season brings 11 named tropical storms, six of which become hurricanes including two major ones, NOAA said.

The forecast follows that of two other leading storm experts in anticipating a busy season.

Does anyone remember the forecasts of 2006's first post-Katrina season?

I've been reading a number of stories this morning about the upcoming season, and none mention it.

Here's one from forecasting guru William Gray.

The 2006 forecast calls for:
17 named tropical storms; an average season has 9.6.
9 hurricanes compared to the average of 5.9.
5 major hurricanes with winds exceeding 110 mph; average is 2.3.

Another busier-than-normal season.

Wikipedia shows what really happened.

Total storms: 10
Hurricanes: 5
Major hurricanes (Cat. 3+): 2

Um, kinda below average.

But let's base major policy decisions from here on out on weather modeling.

Environment Posted by AlexC at 3:27 PM

Murtha Puts Dems in a No-Win Situation

Is a no-win situation for the Democrats a win-win for Republicans?

House Republicans angled Tuesday to put Democrats in a no-win position: reprimand a senior colleagues or be seen as blindly excusing legislative bullying for partisan reasons.

House leaders tentatively scheduled a late Tuesday vote on a Republican move to reprimand Rep. John Murtha, a Pennsylvania Democrat and close ally of House Speaker Hancy Pelosi, D-Calif. The GOP accuses Murtha of making a blatant threat against a Republican who challenged a pet project that Murtha wanted.

Democratic leaders said they believed they had the votes to kill the motion, but conceded that some party members were unhappy about being pressed to defend a blustery colleague known for bare-knuckled politics.

Maybe the best answer to earmark reform is "no earmarks"... everything should go through the regular process.... committee, floor debate, etc.... with thousands of earmarks ever year, Congress would grind to a halt.

In which case, it's a win-win for the American people.

(thanks to Stan, again!)

110th Congress Posted by AlexC at 1:07 PM

Murtha, Again

What's with this guy?

Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) submitted an earmark certification letter for the National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC) May 1, more than five weeks after the Intelligence Committee’s deadline and the day before the panel marked up its authorization bill, according to copies of the letter and the notice of the deadline sent to the entire committee.

Murtha addressed the letter only to Intelligence Committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes (D-Texas), not Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.), the panel’s ranking member. Hoekstra has said he was not given a copy—an apparent violation of House rules. All earmarks must be disclosed in writing to both the chairman and ranking member.

House Republicans have accused Democrats of trying to sneak the project into the fiscal 2008 intelligence authorization bill’s approved list of earmarks as a way to insulate it from being targeted for removal on the House floor, a charge Democrats deny.

110th Congress Posted by AlexC at 11:49 AM

You Guys Owe Me One

I watched the whole season of "24." My new Hi-Def satellite lost one episode, but like the $0.04 I owe on my HELOC, I'm hoping you'll write that off. Several people have told me that it used to be better and I would have liked the older seasons. I'll concede that to be true without empirical proof, if y'all don't mind.

Lileks nails it. It's not that I was miserable watching it, but I was really, really, really glad that it is over.

Did FOX pull a "Firefly" on "Drive" or were the first few episodes just a teaser? I don't know how network stuff works. That show has some potential.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:22 AM | What do you think? [3]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I had never watched it until a friend bought me the first season on DVD. Each episode was some of the best television I've seen anywhere.

I'm told the first season was better than subsequent ones. I'll concede that to be true without empirical proof, if you don't mind. :)

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at May 22, 2007 1:32 PM
But Charlie on the PA Turnpike thinks:

I've been a fan since hour 1 of day 1.

Every season of '24' has a few flat spots. And sometimes they stretch the reality rubber band a bit too far. Case in point (and without giving away too much of a prior season):

- The Dept of Energy has a device that can remotely control a nuclear power plant, to stop a melt down, in case the main control center is compromised. Fine.

- This DoE device can control any of the US power plants. Stretch...

- This device can not only stop a melt down, it can cause one. Stretch....stretch.....

- This single device can cause a melt down at every power plant in the US, at the same time. And it has been stolen by terrorists.
........ugh.... its gonna snap!

I'm not disappointed, overall, in this season. There were a few too many convenient incidents (I won't name here) that were seen before. But that doesn't make it a bad show, not by a long shot (Grissom and co. always solve the murder on CSI, right?).

Of course, the big question now: he spent 8 mths 'dead' as far as the world was concerned, then spent 2 years in a Chinese prison; and the only woman who cared for him (other than Chloe, who has her own hands full now) is now out of his life... what's left??

With a contract for 2 more 'days', we'll find out, I am sure.

Posted by: Charlie on the PA Turnpike at May 22, 2007 1:45 PM
But Everyday Economist thinks:

My brother was a huge fan of the first season and convinced me that I should start watching. I have thorougly enjoyed the show since the recommendation, however, I was a bit disappointed in this season.

Although the previous season seemed to be a little to close to a conspiracy theory, it did have the suspense and actually made you care about the characters. At times, this season seemed rushed as though they were trying to tie too many loose strings.

Also, a side note. '24' is always condemned by the left as being a mouthpiece for the right and as being pro-torture (see here). Keeping this in mind, it seemed as though Joel Surnow fired back when Powers Booth said, "You know, Tom, you think you've got all the answers, but until you sit in this chair..."

Posted by: Everyday Economist at May 23, 2007 10:37 AM

Chasing Murtha

Good ad about the Murtha Kerfuffle from the NRCC.

But jk thinks:

The WSJ Ed Page also thinks this will be big. In "Jack the Stripper" (is Mortman writing their headlines now?) they say:

It isn't every day that videos of the House floor get a link on YouTube, so give a nod to Pennsylvania powerhouse Jack Murtha, whose spending threats against fellow Members have earned the House Appropriations process some real airtime. During negotiations over an intelligence bill last week, Mr. Murtha took exception to two colleagues who challenged an earmark for his district, so he let them know who's their daddy.

The episode has backfired, however, as Republicans yesterday introduced a House resolution to reprimand Mr. Murtha for his bullying. Under an ethics rule passed by Democrats this year, House members are banned from blocking earmarks based on the way a Member votes. But what do they do now that one of their own is caught doing a Tom DeLay imitation?
I'm not sure the GOP will get any traction with this. It's kind of "Inside baseball" isn't it? And the "damming" video is a lot less damming than the FBI sting which he has survived. Posted by: jk at May 22, 2007 10:17 AM

May 21, 2007

Sounds like my diet...

I have had this story in a browser window all day. I don't know what to say but it is too good not to share.

The Wall Street Journal details (paid link, sorry) what pig farmers are feeding their livestock as corn is being diverted to Ethanol production.

GARLAND, N.C. -- When Alfred Smith's hogs eat trail mix, they usually shun the Brazil nuts.

"Pigs can be picky eaters," Mr. Smith says, scooping a handful of banana chips, yogurt-covered raisins, dried papaya and cashews from one of the 12 one-ton boxes in his shed. Generally, he says, "they like the sweet stuff."

Mr. Smith is just happy his pigs aren't eating him out of house and home. Growing demand for corn-based ethanol, a biofuel that has surged in popularity over the past year, has pushed up the price of corn, Mr. Smith's main feed, to near-record levels. Because feed represents farms' biggest single cost in raising animals, farmers are serving them a lot of people food, since it can be cheaper.

Besides trail mix, pigs and cattle are downing cookies, licorice, cheese curls, candy bars, french fries, frosted wheat cereal and peanut-butter cups. Some farmers mix chocolate powder with cereal and feed it to baby pigs. "It's kind of like getting Cocoa Puffs," says David Funderburke, a livestock nutritionist at Cape Fear Consulting in Warsaw, N.C., who helps Mr. Smith and other farmers formulate healthy diets for livestock.

California farmers are feeding farm animals grape-skins from vineyards and lemon-pulp from citrus groves. Cattle ranchers in spud-rich Idaho are buying truckloads of uncooked french fries, Tater Tots and hash browns.

In Pennsylvania, farmers are turning to candy bars and snack foods because of the many food manufacturers nearby. Hershey Co. sells farmers waste cocoa and the trimmings from wafers that go into its Kit Kat bars. At Nissin Foods, maker of Top Ramen and Cup Noodles, farmers drive to a Lancaster, Pa., factory and load up on scraps of the squiggly dried noodles, which pile up in bins beneath the assembly line. Hiroshi Kika, a senior manager at the company, says the farm business is "very minor" but helps the company's effort to "do anything to recycle."

Of course, if we did not provide 50 cents a gallon subsidies for Ethanol and apply 51 cent tariffs to a gallon of Brazilian Ethanol -- never mind, you know the rest.

My wife just hopes they don't find a way to make biofuels out of coffee.

But TrekMedic251 thinks:

...are downing cookies, licorice, cheese curls, candy bars, french fries, frosted wheat cereal and peanut-butter cups.

Sounds like the desk of the lieutenant at the firehouse!


Posted by: TrekMedic251 at May 21, 2007 10:47 PM


Commenters noted that "their screens went a little blurry" following this link. Whole. Thing. Read. Must.

Twenty-four minutes of steady applause. My hands hurt, and I laugh to myself at how stupid that sounds in my own head. “My hands hurt.” Christ. Shut up and clap.

For twenty-four minutes, soldier after soldier has come down this hallway — 20, 25, 30. Fifty-three legs come with them, and perhaps only 52 hands or arms, but down this hall came 30 solid hearts. They pass down this corridor of officers and applause, and then meet for a private lunch, at which they are the guests of honor, hosted by the generals.

Some are wheeled along. Some insist upon getting out of their chairs, to march as best they can with their chin held up, down this hallway, through this most unique audience. Some are catching handshakes and smiling like a politician at a Fourth of July parade. More than a couple of them seem amazed and are smiling shyly. There are families with them as well: the 18-year-old war-bride pushing her 19-year-old husband’s wheelchair and not quite understanding why her husband is so affected by this, the boy she grew up with, now a man, who had never shed a tear is crying; the older immigrant Latino parents who have, perhaps more than their wounded mid-20s son, an appreciation for the emotion given on their son’s behalf. No man in that hallway, walking or clapping, is ashamed by the silent tears on more than a few cheeks. An Airborne Ranger wipes his eyes only to better see. A couple of the officers in this crowd have themselves been a part of this parade in the past. These are our men, broken in body they may be, but they are our brothers, and we welcome them home.

This parade has gone on, every single Friday, all year long, for more than four years.

Hat-tip: Terry at I Think ^(Link) Therefore I Err

Posted by John Kranz at 3:42 PM

S&P 1526.22

The excitement is so thick, you could cut it with a knife. Forty four minutes...

Posted by John Kranz at 3:16 PM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

Not today, kids. 1525.10. Now I know how Red Sox fans feel...

Posted by: jk at May 21, 2007 5:56 PM

Valid Critique

No, not my shoes. A very legitimate complaint is surfacing on the new Senate immigration bill. Bill Kristol said it yesterday on FOXNews Sunday, and it goes something like this: last year, the McCain Kennedy bill was debated thoroughly on the Senate floor (and on ThreeSources). Kristol and I expect that this bill is similar, and I have a predilection toward supporting it. But this bill is being rammed through in the dark of night; neither the Senators nor their constituents are getting any opportunity to review this complex and important bill.

John Fund carries the theme today on OpinionJournal (free link):

Many immigration experts say they can't know if they support the current compromise until they've absorbed the entire 1,000 page bill. They are concerned that Mr. Reid seems determined to bypass normal committee review and hearings and rush the bill to the floor. "That's like trying to eat an eight-course meal on a 15-minute lunch break," said former senator Fred Thompson on ABC Radio Friday.

Why the rush? Because, to be blunt, the senators don't trust the American people to make sound judgments on such emotional issues as family reunification and national sovereignty. But the proper response to this is to engage the public in the discussion, not to short-circuit the deliberative process. One of the reasons the American people are cynical about government is that they don't believe its officials take the time to discharge their duties properly. Now a 1,000 page immigration bill is being put before senators for a vote without anyone having the time to study its details. Many will merely be leaning on talking points prepared by their staff.

The partisan hack in me has to point out that this is just the sort of thing the Democrats weren't going to do if we elected them. Leader Reid has managed to turn me off a bill I really wanted.

I'm still tentatively supporting this bill. I think it does most of what I want. Unlike Kristol, I think a confusing bill is better than no bill. But when even I can't get fulsomely behind it, they have --if I may use legislative jargon -- "boogered it up" pretty badly.


WASHINGTON - Senate leaders agreed Monday that they would wait until June to take final action on a bipartisan plan to give millions of unlawful immigrants legal status.

Immigration Posted by John Kranz at 11:43 AM

May 20, 2007

Our Worst Ex-President

Our 39th President deregulated the airlines and trucking, so you cannot call President Carter the worst. But I join Jay Nordlinger is calling him "our worst ex-President."

A friend of this blog sends a link to his latest round of bad elderstatesmanship:

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Former President Carter says President Bush's administration is "the worst in history" in international relations, taking aim at the White House's policy of pre-emptive war and its Middle East diplomacy.

The e-mailer concludes "Pot. Kettle. Black.'

Posted by John Kranz at 4:08 PM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

I posted this an hour ago and I am still angry.

Carter also lashed out Saturday at British prime minister Tony Blair. Asked how he would judge Blair's support of Bush, the former president said: "Abominable. Loyal. Blind. Apparently subservient."

"And I think the almost undeviating support by Great Britain for the ill-advised policies of President Bush in Iraq have been a major tragedy for the world," Carter told British Broadcasting Corp. radio.
Posted by: jk at May 20, 2007 5:07 PM

Pelosi, Murtha & Rogers

Despite not having any idea of the exchange between Jack Murtha and Mike Rogers on the House floor, Nancy Pelosi is defending him.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is defending a close Democratic ally whom Republicans want to reprimand for threatening a GOP lawmaker's spending projects.

Pelosi, D-Calif., said she had "no idea what actually happened" during a noisy exchange in the House chamber last week between Reps. John P. Murtha, D-Pa., and Mike Rogers, R-Mich.

"What I do know is that U.S. Rep. Murtha has , enjoys , an excellent reputation in the Congress on both sides of the aisle," said Pelosi in a broadcast interview taped Friday and aired Sunday.

It's too bad this whole issue about someone's ability to add pork to a bill.

Congress Posted by AlexC at 2:13 PM

Fred! The Story Behind the Video

Salena Zito

On Tuesday morning, Mark Corallo, the undeclared Thompson's frontman, had clicked on to the massively popular Internet news aggregator, the Drudge Report, to find that Moore had challenged Thompson to a political duel, also known as a debate.

"Within the space of about five minutes we decided to do a quick video response," Corallo recalled from his Washington office. He called Thompson and asked if he wanted to "have some fun today" and respond to Moore with a quick video.

Thompson's response was "pure Fred," Corallo said:

"Give me a camera. I already know what I am going to say," said Thompson.

Two phone calls and one camera later, Thompson was ready to go. One "take" later -- with no script, no booking time in a studio and no opposition research or talking points -- Thompson was shot into cyberspace.

Thompson scorched Moore in his witty video, dangling an unlit (Cuban?) cigar alongside a civics lesson that pointed out the perils of Moore's collaborating with the fickle dictator Fidel Castro.

"His video response was all him," said Corallo; it was not written, prepared or massaged by anyone else. "It was literally Fred being Fred."


But jk thinks:


Posted by: jk at May 20, 2007 4:06 PM

May 19, 2007

Back Taxes


The Bush administration insisted on a little-noticed change in the bipartisan Senate immigration bill that would enable 12 million undocumented residents to avoid paying back taxes or associated fines to the Internal Revenue Service, officials said.

An independent analyst estimated the decision could cost the IRS tens of billions of dollars.

A provision requiring payment of back taxes had been in the initial version of a bill proposed by Senator Edward M. Kennedy, the Massachusetts Democrat. But the administration called for the provision to be removed due to concern that it would be too difficult to figure out which illegal immigrants owed back taxes.

There was another Kennedy who said, "we choose to go to the moon not because it is easy, but because it is hard."

Getting illegals to pony up on back taxes. Harder than a moon mission.

This bill is at least 326 pages, by the way.

(tip to HotAir)

Immigration Posted by AlexC at 5:31 PM

More on Murtha

Actually, not so much on Murtha, but on the AP and they way they choose story titles.

Republicans will seek a House vote next week admonishing a senior Democrat who they say threatened a GOP member's spending projects in a noisy exchange in the House chamber, Minority Leader John Boehner said Friday.

Their target is Rep. John P. Murtha, D-Pa., a 35-year House veteran who chairs the appropriations subcommittee on military spending. Murtha, 74, is known for his gruff manner and fondness for earmarks , carefully targeted spending items placed in appropriations bills to benefit a specific lawmaker or favorite constituent group.

Venture a guess on the title?

Republicans want House vote admonishing anti-war Democrat

But jk thinks:

I'm surprised it wasn't "Evil Republicans..."

Posted by: jk at May 19, 2007 1:21 PM

Letter from Iraq

Max Boot posted this letter from LTC Steve Miska.

Given that reality, we need to stand by the Iraqis. How long, you ask? I am on my second tour following a year in Tikrit from 2004-2005. A realistic goal is to have stabilized this region by the time my eleven-year-old son is old enough to serve in the military. Not that he is preordained to serve, but my hope is he will not have to deal with the complexity and tragedies that I have witnessed in Baghdad over the last eight months. My only other goal is to be able to look myself in the mirror every day, knowing that I stuck to my principles and did as much as possible to win in this very dangerous environment.

If our government decides to prematurely pull out, I would fail to reach both goals, and my son and his generation may find themselves embroiled in something far worse than what we experience now—all because my generation couldn’t get the job done.

I'd sure read the whole thing, but it's your weekend.

Hat-tip to Instapundit and another round of thanks to all who serve.

Freedom on the March Posted by John Kranz at 11:05 AM


There just isn't enough good punctuation.

Don Luskin links to this and claims that "Paul has a point." To Luskin's credit, he includes several well written letters which contradict him.

I don't think he ever addresses the point that they attack us because they hate freedom. That sounds platitudinous but after reading Laurence Wright's "The Looming Tower" I don't see how our concepts of freedom, women's rights and gay rights would ever be compatible with these people. I suggest that isolationism is legitimate, though I disagree. I think Mayor Giuliani was right, however, to call Rep. Paul on his assertion that were culpable for the 9/11 attacks.

Listening to his defense, I find it lacking. He subverts the idea that we "fight them over there so we don’t fight them here" to make it sound advantageous to the terrorists. Left unsaid is that we have professional, trained soldiers fighting them over there, instead of mommies and children and helpless software developers in our shopping malls over here.

Also specious is the claim that Vietnam did swell and discovered Capitalism after we left. As if isolationism in the 60s, 70s, and 80s would have produced the Vietnam we trade with today.

Like most on this blog I appreciate his thoughts and votes toward establishing clear Constitutional purviews for Federal activities. Yet he proves his foreign policy views to be as fundamentally unserious as Rep. Murtha's.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:28 AM | What do you think? [2]
But Everyday Economist thinks:

The comments on isolationism is precisely why I always hesitate to call myself a libertarian (little "l" or otherwise). I consider myself to be more closely associated with neolibertarianism.

Advocates of isolationism can use some great one liners, "make trade not war", but that is the end of its benefits. I have no problem with those who oppose a particular war, but I do have a problem with those who oppose war in general. I think that it strikes of idealistic naiveté.

Posted by: Everyday Economist at May 19, 2007 11:59 AM
But jk thinks:

Enjoyed the link. ee. Gosh, it seems like we used to call people like that "Republicans." I remain hopeful that they might coverge again.

Posted by: jk at May 19, 2007 1:16 PM

May 18, 2007

All Over The Murtha Implosion

Our Keystone State Brothers at PA Water Cooler. Go to May 18 and scroll....

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 5:53 PM

Wolfowitz and the War

Or, "Freedom Loses One."

The forces of darkness and anti-modernity do not lie peacefully, whether in the caves of Afghanistan or the capitals of Europe, They are active and are bound to win a few.

That said, I am still disappointed in the World Bank scandal. The scandal being, of course, that a good man who was trying to clean up a corrupt institution such that it could actually do some good was run out by the thugs who profit from corruption. The Wall Street Journal has a well written recap of what transpired, so I will link and excerpt, not summarize it.

We've said from the beginning that the charges against Mr. Wolfowitz were bogus, and that the effort to unseat him amounted to a political grudge by those who opposed his role in the Bush Administration and a bureaucratic vendetta by those who opposed his anti-corruption agenda at the bank. That view was vindicated by yesterday's statement, which showed how little the merits of the case against Mr. Wolfowitz had to do with the final result.
In a better world, the bank would shrink to perform only its core mission of helping the world's poorest nations. That's not going to happen, however, so the best that President Bush can do now to minimize the damage of the Wolfowitz putsch is by replacing him with someone who shares his agenda and will clean the place up. No European should have a chance to do that given what has transpired, not even Tony Blair. Nor should he name another well known member of the Council on Foreign Relations seminar circuit whom the Europeans and staff can quickly capture.

We've suggested former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, who saw first-hand how these institutions function while investigating the U.N.'s Oil for Food scandal. But whoever it is, the core task of Mr. Wolfowitz's successor should be to clean the World Bank stables, or shut it down.

I'm glad that the European economies are doing better and that a new crop of leaders show some fondness for capitalism. L'Affaire Wolfowitz shows, however, that there is a fundamental difference between Europe and America in each's tolerance for corruption.

Europe stood still as the Oil for Food corruption undermined the only chance the world had to avoid the Iraq War. It wasn't WMDs, it was the fecklessness of Europe to enact and enforce tough sanctions and to demand thorough inspections Now we are repeating the same errors in Iran, with a corrupt Europe having been expanded to include corruption in Moscow and Beijing.

Bill Bennet wrote a book about President Clinton's troubles where he discussed European bemusement at Americans' caring so much about a trivial matter. Bennet, whom I've disagreed with on a thousand things, got off one of the great lines ever. I quote from memory: "Europe has much to teach us about wine, culture, and cuisine. America, however, has much to teach Europe about morality in government."

The players have all changed, but that part remains true. Europe doesn't seem to care that the UN or many of its satellite NGOs are corrupt, incompetent, and counter-productive. There may be friendlier G-8 meetings with Sarkozy, Merkel and Brown. But a huge gap remains in the tolerance for corruption in NGOs that must be addressed. And it will have to be addressed by America.

America, F*ck Yeah! Posted by John Kranz at 11:05 AM

May 17, 2007

Fair and Balanced

Speaking of hyperventilation.

Michelle Malkin carries a post called "It's here: The Bush-Kennedy amnesty Report: Potential cost = $2.5 trillion." With an online poll which asks "Will you support a GOP presidential candidate who supports the Bush/Kennedy amnesty?" The three choices are Yes, no, and "hell No!"

I hate to be humorless. But I like to think that the right wing blogosphere is a little more thoughtful and intelligent than the left wing "netroots." Malkin frequently proves me wrong.

Lastly, I'd make the comment that I made about Hugh Hewitt. Can you not broach any intra-party dissent on this topic? Are we going to chase out all the free traders that support liberalized immigration? Honest people can disagree -- well, no, I guess they can't. Michelle and Hugh will tell us what Republicans think.

BTW, thanks to ThreeSources enforcement fans for their respectful and intelligent debate.

Immigration Posted by John Kranz at 5:30 PM | What do you think? [3]
But Everyday Economist thinks:

What is amusing is that the immigration debate features a unique dichotomy in which Democrats complain the policy is too conservative and Republicans complain that it is too liberal. As Mickey Kaus pointed out this morning, that is very clearly a contradiction.

I do not know why I would expect any different. The current state of political discourse is deplorable -- and I have low expectations.

Posted by: Everyday Economist at May 18, 2007 11:46 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Those who've been publicly critical of the new legalization proposal have been accused of "hyperventilating." I think it's fair to say those who rush to assure us "It's going to be okay" are being pollyannish.

Posted by: johngalt at May 18, 2007 3:02 PM
But jk thinks:

You can call me Pollyannaish. As I'm generally supportive of legislation which hasn't even been fully written, you are on solid footing.

I was trying to separate differences from tactics.

I disagree with you and AlexC and Hugh Hewitt and Michelle Malkin and my brother in law, fine. I took exception to Malkin's and Hewitt's assertion that every good Republican agrees with them.

I take double exception to their using the language and tactics that were employed to buck up the Republican legislators who were going to vote for surrender in Iraq. Hewitt has taken that successful play and done a search replace for "Amnesty." That equates voting for comprehensive immigration reform -- which is supported by a lot if not a plurality of serious Republicans -- with a withdrawal schedule in Iraq, which is supported by only a fringe.

Malkin takes emotional stands on a variety of issues. it may not be fair to accuse her of hyperventilating. But ol' buddy Hugh has really turned the crank up to 11 on this. I don't think I am wrong for pointing that out.

Posted by: jk at May 18, 2007 3:32 PM

GOP Caves to Good Economics

Hugh Hewitt has been hyperventilating all morning that the GOP Senate was about to "cave" on immigration reform. I resent this, because the language and tactics were taken from efforts to bolster the GOP House and Senate in supporting the troops and the war. Hewitt commandeers this pitch, implicitly comparing Immigration with the war.

I don't mind calling the war Dogma de Fide for the Republican Party (See, I learned something in Catholic Schools, Dogma de Fide, "of faith," is what you must believe to be Catholic.)

But there is a large body of intelligent opposition to Hewitt's immigration views, including Larry Kudlow, William Kristol, President Bush and me. If the four of us are "not Republican enough" you have a losing party. The Senate has passed a compromise bill. I don't know all the particulars but I applaud it. AP

WASHINGTON - Key senators in both parties announced agreement with the White House Thursday on an immigration overhaul that would grant quick legal status to millions of illegal immigrants already in the U.S. and fortify the border.

The plan would create a temporary worker program to bring new arrivals to the U.S. A separate program would cover agricultural workers. New high-tech enforcement measures also would be instituted to verify that workers are here legally.

The compromise came after weeks of painstaking closed-door negotiations that brought the most liberal Democrats and the most conservative Republicans together with President Bush's Cabinet officers to produce a highly complex measure that carries heavy political consequences.

Take a deep breath, guys, it's going to be okay...

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

Citizenship. What about citizenship? The franchise?

"They could come forward right away to claim a probationary card that would let them live and work legally in the U.S., but could not begin the path to permanent residency or citizenship until border security improvements and the high-tech worker identification program were completed."

OK, but what is this "path to citizenship?" Permanent residency I'm less concerned with.

Posted by: johngalt at May 17, 2007 4:04 PM
But johngalt thinks:

One more day and some introspection later, I'm now more concerned with permanent residency.

Once these illegal immigrants become permanently and irrevocably legal we'll have a genuine two-tiered society split between those who can vote and those who cannot. What will be the persuasive argument that prevents granting the franchise to non-citizens? "They were't born here? They don't speak our language? They don't pay taxes?" Wait. Scratch that last one. This is a major argument in support of the legalization push. These lame reasons won't stand a chance against "No more taxation without representation" and "Non-citizen permanent immigrants are the new emancipated slave class - equal rights for the unfairly downtrodden!"

If the 12 to 30 million existing illegal immigrants are granted residency then their ability to vote themselves an ever increasing basket of goodies at public expense (read: wealth creating taxpayers) is a fait accompli.

Posted by: johngalt at May 18, 2007 2:57 PM

Not Just a Pretty Face

Senator Edwards is not just clear skin and bouncy hair. He's got earning power! John Fund writes about our man of the people in OpinionJournal Political Diary:

Last week, presidential candidate John Edwards was on the defensive over his former employment by a hedge fund, a financial vehicle for rich investors not usually open to middle-class folks. Mr. Edwards would have been fine if he had simply said he was trying to support his family, but the putative populist insisted he had joined Fortress Investment Group to learn about financial markets and their relationship to global poverty.

Incredulous scribes were temporarily stunned into silence by such chutzpah, but perhaps not for long.

The hedge fund story resurfaced again yesterday as Mr. Edwards released his financial disclosure forms, which indicated he had earned $479,512 for his work with the group last year. He also reported investment income of $5.9 million, including a stake in Schlumberger, the oil services company that Barack Obama conspicuously divested because of the company's involvement with the brutal dictatorship of Sudan, responsible for the genocide in Darfur.

Reporters trying to follow up on Mr. Edwards' work on poverty issues with Fortress also notice that the hedge fund was incorporated in the Cayman Islands, a vibrant center of the offshore banking industry. When quizzed about this, an Edwards campaign spokeswoman assured reporters that her boss "believes that offshore tax shelters are wrong" and that "as president, he will end them."

But until then, keep those tax-free checks coming!

I can't decide whether to covet his hair or his money.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:53 PM

May 16, 2007


How 'bout that?

Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta, who gained national prominence by targeting illegal immigrants living in his small northeastern Pennsylvania city, cruised to the Republican nomination for a third term on Tuesday - and unexpectedly won the Democratic nomination, too.

Barletta trounced GOP challenger Dee Deakos with nearly 94 percent of the vote. And he beat former Mayor Michael Marsicano for the Democratic nomination by staging a last-minute write-in campaign, all but guaranteeing himself another term, unofficial returns showed.

"I think the message is clear," Barletta said. "The people of Hazleton want me to keep fighting for them."

But jk thinks:

Whew -- I was afraid you were going to say Lou Dobbs.

Posted by: jk at May 17, 2007 12:59 PM

Tommy! Ron! Duncan! Jim! Tom! Goodbye!

That was a great debate last night. I think FOXNews did a great job.

I also thought that my candidate, Mayor Giuliani, did a good job. The Instapundit online poll shows him with a commanding lead among those who actually participated.

Number me among those who hope the next debate, however, will have fewer participants. Just opinion, mind you, I'm all for the "vibrancy of more ideas and debate" and all. And I must confess that there is plenty of time. But if you gave jk the scythe, here's where it would fall:

  • Rep Duncan Hunter: I may have unfairly attributed somebody else's bad economics to him in my review of the last debate. I apologize but give it right back for his protectionist populism and China bashing. I was also annoyed -- yet another time -- by his assertion that his years chairing a Congressional Committee are somehow equivalent to Sen. McCain's heroic service. Rep. Hunter also served. Thanks for your service, Congressman. Goodbye.

  • Rep. Tom Tancredo: Rep Tancredo has won me over personally. I have been so opposed to him on his signature issue, I got a little personal on these very pages. Tancredo is a smart and principled man and I am proud to have him represent my party and my State in Congress. But he is not Presidential "timber." Not this year. TIMBERRRRRRRRRR!
  • Gov. Jim Gilmore: Good man. I think George Bernard Shaw once described somebody who, when they walked into a room, made people think that somebody of great charisma and energy had just left. Good job killing the car tax, Jim. Later.

  • Gov. Tommy Thompson: Somehow, I just don't think so. Maybe we're making the wrong decision but we are. Hasta Luego.

  • Rep. Ron Paul: You can stay around, Dennis Kucinich style, if you want Congressman Paul. But is that really what you want? Who's the LP running this year? Third Party?

Gov. Huckabee can stay or go. His "John Edwards in a beauty shop" line rocked. Scripted, but perfect. (honorable mention to Rep Tancredo for "Road to Damascus, not the Road to Des Moines"). I propose that Gov. Huckabee can replace the whole wind of second tier candidates, continue to attack Democrats in the GOP primary and perhaps land a VP spot.

I will get behind any of these guys to beat any of the Democrats (A Duncan Hunter - Bill Richardson race would hurt, but the Tradesports on that is about three cents). Gov. Romney bugged me a little with his assertion that he's pro-Second Amendment but supported the assault weapons ban. Makes Rudy look absolutely solid on abortion... Senator McCain was good but you can just feel it slipping away. Torture and Guantanamo are amazing weaknesses, considering his biography. Wrapping himself in the mantle of Gen. Colin Powell is not going to carry him in South Carolina.

Maybe Fred did win....

2008 Race Posted by John Kranz at 10:56 AM | What do you think? [2]
But Brian thinks:

Duncan Hunter served in Vietnam with the 173rd Airborne Brigade and with independent Ranger Detachments. No one can debate McCain’s time in a POW prison, but Hunter was on the ground fighting. Check out wikipedia and Hunter’s website for more information.

Posted by: Brian at May 16, 2007 12:04 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Duncan Hunter is a great American, and I agree with him on most of his policy positions. JK's disdain for his "China bashing" emanates from Hunter's calling the commies on the carpet over their monetary policy, whereby they devalue their currency and hoarde U.S. dollars. This puts them in a position to destabilize the U.S. economy, built as it is on the scrip of a private bank (the Federal Reserve system) amounting to a too well respected house of cards.

All that being said, he's not the best hope of the GOP for President in '08. Like McCain, he's got too much legislative experience which acts to atrophy one's leadership skills.

Between Rudy, Mitt and Fred, the GOP field has strengthened greatly at this date.

Posted by: johngalt at May 16, 2007 4:18 PM

May 15, 2007


You have to like this. Michael Moore challenges Senator Fred Thompson to a debate.

The Senator Responds:

He earned his exclamation mark today.

Hat-tip: Insty, who also links to a Bob Krumm post:

Imagine Thompson in a campaign against a hidebound Hillary Clinton who, like a typical candidate, runs every decision through polls and layers of staff. Thompson would be “inside her OODA loop” so quickly that serious Republicans won’t know whether to laugh at her or feel sorry for her by the time of next November’s election.

2008 Race Posted by John Kranz at 4:40 PM | What do you think? [7]
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

What's holding Fred back????

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at May 15, 2007 10:38 PM
But jk thinks:

From the Krumm post: "In certain military circles there’s this concept known as the 'OODA Loop.' OODA stands for Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act. The late Colonel John Boyd, a Korean War pilot, came up with the concept to try to explain why American pilots were so much better than their opponents in dogfights. He determined that through a combination of training, aerodynamics, and cockpit design, American pilots and their aircraft could more quickly observe a stimulus and respond."

Picture Senator Clinton with a big red cicle on her canvas wing...

Posted by: jk at May 16, 2007 10:46 AM
But jk thinks:

Don't get me wrong, I'm not fully onboard the Fred boomlet just yet, but you have to appreciate those who can play the game. This was a master's stroke.

I think Trek, that the Senator has found that he is able to stay in by holding back. By not announcing, he can still do his columns on NRO, finish his acting work, and avoid some of the expense of this preternaturally early campaigning.

He's been on a Sunday show, generated lots of buzz and is always in the top three in the GOP polls. He might be onto something. Sadly, he also retains the right to drop out anytime, leaving his boomlet folks without a candidate.

Posted by: jk at May 16, 2007 10:57 AM
But jk thinks:

Comment three times on your own post and you have a problem...

I just noticed that Instapundit's online poll shows a 34% plurality who felt Fred Thompson "won" the debate. An oft cited advantage of staying out is to not look lilliputian up there as a gang of 11 non-Presidents.

[NOTE: MS-Word disctionary suggests a Capital L on lilliputian. Do they think it's a real place or am I missing something?]

Posted by: jk at May 16, 2007 11:12 AM
But dagny thinks:

Note from Dagny, raised by english teachers so she can't help it: A place does not have to be real to be a proper noun. Consider Oz, Atlantis, or Eden. I think the capital L is warranted.

Posted by: dagny at May 16, 2007 1:39 PM
But jk thinks:

Good point, Dagny. I guess I felt that Lilliputian has become understood as its own little adjective without reference to the place.

I don't want to make a big deal out of it, though if I took it up as a cause "little-l for lilliputians" would -- you must admit -- make a great bumper sticker. Next in the series of "Hobbes was an Optimist."

Posted by: jk at May 16, 2007 6:04 PM

Peer Review

Josh at Everyday Economist says "If you read one thing today" it should be this commentary by Robert Higgs for the Independence Institute. Higgs admits that he is not an expert in climatology but that he has experience with peer review and the machinations of the scientific community.

I have always claimed that my objections to DAWG were epistemological. Scientifically, it seems a good theory and I am no climatologist, either -- I don't even play one on TV. But I am a devotee of Karl Popper and was a scientist wannabe in my school years. I don't think good scientific procedures are being followed in the climate change debate. Higgs pokes some holes in peer review and "consensus."

In this context, a bright young person needs to display cleverness in applying the prevailing orthodoxy, but it behooves him not to rock the boat by challenging anything fundamental or dear to the hearts of those who constitute the review committees for the NSF, NIH, and other funding organizations. Modern biological and physical science is, overwhelmingly, government-funded science. If your work, for whatever reason, does not appeal to the relevant funding agency’s bureaucrats and academic review committees, you can forget about getting any money to carry out your proposal. Recall the human frailties I mentioned previously; they apply just as much in the funding context as in the publication context. Indeed, these two contexts are themselves tightly linked: if you don’t get funding, you’ll never produce publishable work, and if you don’t land good publications, you won’t continue to receive funding.

When your research implies a “need” for drastic government action to avert a looming disaster or to allay some dire existing problem, government bureaucrats and legislators (can you say “earmarks”?) are more likely to approve it.

The Everyday Economist is right, you have to read the whole thing.
In this connection, we might well bear in mind that the United Nations (and its committees and the bureaus it oversees) is no more a scientific organization than the U.S. Congress (and its committees and the bureaus it oversees). When decisions and pronouncements come forth from these political organizations, it makes sense to treat them as essentially political in origin and purpose. Politicians aren’t dumb, either―vicious, yes, but not dumb. One thing they know above everything else is how to stampede masses of people into approving or accepting ill-advised government actions that cost the people dearly in both their standard of living and their liberties in the long run.

May 14, 2007

Blair Switch Project?

That's John Fund's headline, not mine -- unless the OpinionJournal has hired "Extreme Mortman" as Political Diary Editor.

Fund floats a rumor:

World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz may finally be kicked out this week over the way he handled a salary increase involving his girlfriend, once a Bank employee. Since the bank's top job normally goes to an American, some European nations are expected to argue quietly that in exchange for Mr. Wolfowitz leaving, President George Bush be offered a compromise: The presidency will go to a non-American for the first time, but one he could live with -- departing British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

There is no doubt that Mr. Bush is fond of his British counterpart. Last week, he effusively praised him as "a long-term thinker... who has kept his word. When Tony Blair tells you something, as we say in Texas, you can take it to the bank."

Hmmm... then why not send Mr. Blair to the Bank should Mr. Wolfowitz's tenure become, shall we say, untenable? Adrian Wooldridge, the Washington bureau chief of the Economist magazine, says he has heard a lot of rumors about Mr. Blair's interest in the job and his departure as prime minister in late June would make the timing for a transfer just about perfect.

Indeed, Mr. Blair is scheduled to arrive in Washington this Wednesday for talks with Mr. Bush. If the World Bank's governing board comes out with an expression of no confidence in Mr. Wolfowitz for what many privately concede is a trumped up personnel scandal, don't be surprised if the World Bank post is a subject on the agenda of the two leaders.

I want "Wolfie" to stay and I want the Administration to defend him all the way. If, however, the forces of darkness and anti-modernity must win one, I'll accept PM Blair. The Europeans want one of their own, I can bite my tongue if it's a reward for one of America's best allies.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:37 PM

FDA: Black Wednesday

Brother Johngalt and I explore some unexpected internecine disagreement in the "Pharmaceuticals" topic. I tried to explain in an answering comment that I'd like to see the FDA focus on safety and let the medical community -- a Hayekian collection of doctors, patients and researchers -- explore efficacy and benefits.

In addition to that response, I'd like to hide behind another WSJ editorial (another paid link). Dr. Mark Thornton, "a former medical officer in the FDA Office of Oncology Products, [who] volunteers as president of the Sarcoma Foundation of America" shares my disappointment.

May 9, 2007, should be cited in the annals of cancer immunotherapy as Black Wednesday. Within an eight-hour period that day, the FDA succeeded in killing not one but two safe, promising therapies designed and developed to act by stimulating a patient's immune system against cancer. The FDA's hubris will affect the lives and possibly the life spans of cancer patients from nearly every demographic, from elderly men with prostate cancer to young children with the rarest of bone cancers.

I invoked Hayek because the problem here is a command and control structure. One drug is disallowed because it displays a 94% efficacy rate instead of 95%. One oncologist who votes in a minority on the first panel "launched an unprecedented PR campaign" against those who voted to approve and ultimately prevailed. It disturbs me that one doctor, who may be right or wrong, is enabled by our government to keep other Doctors from trying the treatment.

Though the author is a doctor, he knows that this ruling might cause the company or its investors to drop the product entirely, further driving up the risk premium for the pharmaceutical sector. Better to invest in something safe, like soap or cigarettes.

Both the Provenge and Junovan clinical trials provided evidence that patients lived longer compared to control groups. But according to the FDA, these "survival advantages" that statisticians talk about had "issues." When the issues were discussed in the Provenge public meeting the majority of the committee (in a 13-4 vote) thought the issues, while relevant and important, were superseded by the solid immunology science behind the product.

Pharmaceuticals Posted by John Kranz at 11:58 AM


Pat Toomey writes about Rudy Giuliani's fiscal record in New York City.

But jk thinks:

Awesome. As ThreeSources's Rudy cheerleader, I'll add a "read the whole thing!"

Posted by: jk at May 14, 2007 12:29 PM

May 13, 2007

Medal of Freedom Recipients

George Tenent has written a book to defend his reputation. While everybody has focused on some of his attacks on the administration, the Weekly Standard has pointed out that his book speaks much about al Qaeda presence in Iraq, the efficacy of aggressive interrogation procedures and the current threat from Iran. He thinks the Bush administration is discrediting him, but he did receive the nation's highest civilian honor: the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Another recipient takes to his own defense, more credibly and succinctly. L. Paul Bremer has an editorial in the WaPo today, defending both the decision to de-Baathify Iraq and to disband Saddam's Iraqi Army:

Our goal was to rid the Iraqi government of the small group of true believers at the top of the party, not to harass rank-and-file Sunnis. We were following in the footsteps of Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower in postwar Germany. Like the Nazi Party, the Baath Party ran all aspects of Iraqi life. Every Iraqi neighborhood had a party cell. Baathists recruited children to spy on their parents, just as the Nazis had. Hussein even required members of his dreaded intelligence services to read "Mein Kampf."

Although Hussein and his cronies had been in power three times as long as Hitler had, the CPA decree was much less far-reaching than Eisenhower's de-Nazification law, which affected all but the lowest-ranking former Nazis. By contrast, our Iraqi law affected only about 1 percent of Baath Party members. We knew that many had joined out of opportunism or fear, and they weren't our targets.

I'll confess that I had seen Bremer before the War and was mightily impressed by his apparent intelligence and competence. When he was picked to head the provisional government, I thought it was a great pick. When a then slowly-decaying Andrew Sullivan blamed him for the troubles in Iraq, Colon cancer, and the lack of good parking places in Provincetown, I wondered if I had misjudged.

Bremer admits some failures in judgment but defends himself from the CW.

Hat-tip: Terri at I Think ^(Link) Therefore I Err who points out that the editorial also reminds us of Saddam's depravity.

Freedom on the March Posted by John Kranz at 6:55 PM

May 12, 2007

Obama's Hemi

I think this will only raise his standing among ThreeSourcers: The Senator from Illinois was in Detroit pushing government subsidies for producing hybrids, but he did not leave in a Prius:

So his choice to drive a V8 Hemi-powered Chrysler 300C emits a whiff of hypocrisy along with its exhaust fumes. Obama's choice proves once again that fuel economy is seldom the No. 1 factor when Americans buy cars. The 340-horsepower 300C has plenty of room for the lanky senator, his wife, Michelle, and their two daughters. It gets 25 miles per gallon on the highway, good for a big sedan, but far short of hybrids and compact cars.

His campaign Thursday said it leases a flex-fuel vehicle, and Obama, whose family has just one car, "believes we need to work together to achieve energy independence."

Yes, "Let's all work together" because were we left to our own devices, we'd make bad choices, like a Chrysler 300C with a Hemi...
Hat-tip: Instapundit (You know the rules, don't all click over there at once and bring down his servers.)

Posted by John Kranz at 9:02 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

There is a clear need for government subsidization of legacy health care costs to offset investments in development of compact versions of 340 horsepower four-door sedans that can comfortably carry lanky senators and their families. It is unacceptable that a pandering pol is forced to choose between his own personal interests and consistency with his polyannish policy statements. "Obama in '08" to correct this eggregious situation! (sigh)

Posted by: johngalt at May 13, 2007 11:20 AM

Senator Clinton: Mission Accomplished!

Insty linked to this as "Mission Accomplished."

Interesting as that, but it is also 23 seconds of vintage Clinton. She's trying to extricate herself from her authorization vote, and she takes a hard left turn here.” No matter what you thought about the original authorization, or the President's decision to, you know, rush to war before the inspectors were able to tell us whether there was any WMD..."

This is the most hawkish Democrat in the race in 2008. This is the person who is possibly too "far to the right" on the war. I hate it when people say "The entire civilizations hangs on this election!" I'm sure the Republic would survive a Democrat in the White House. I'm just not sure the cause of liberty would not be irrevocably set back.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 10:45 AM

May 10, 2007


I hate to call an intellectually honest endeavor sad. But Hugh Hewitt's attempt to force the media to apply the same standards to Al Sharpton as -- well to apply any standards to Al Sharpton -- is sad.

This post is titled "Al Sharpton, Bigot, Part 5." It seems the first four installments have not taken hold.

Again, Senator Clinton and Senator Obama both denounced Imus in strong terms. Where are they on Sharpton's bigotry, and when will Harry Reid, himself a Mormon, get around to answering a question about the slam on him as a non-believer in God.

I hope Paula plays the tape over and over again, just as the MSM did when pursuing Imus. There isn't any defense to Sharpton's bigotry, and letting him off the hook will prove not that he had a defense, but that MSM is afraid of Al but not of Imus.

I don't mean to defend Rev. Sharpton. The comparison may or may not be fair. Certainly the difference in coverage is instructive.

But what are the odds that Hugh Hewitt will successfully turn the Church of LDS into an "aggrieved" community? Is it desirable? I’ve only known a handful of Mormons, but I cannot imagine any of them getting bent out of shape over this.

I'll wait for Part Six.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:30 PM | What do you think? [3]
But Gem thinks:

I sent the following to Rev. Al. I hope he proves he is not a hypocrite.

To: Rev. Al Sharpton, National Action Network a

The comedian, DL Hughley recently made the following comments on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno:

"There were some nappy headed women on the team and those are some of the ugliest women I have ever seen in my life.” DL HUGHLEY on Jay Leno.

Where is the outcry from mainstream media, the African American community, or all these people that called for Imus' head on a platter?

The Rutgers Women's Basketball team members are beautiful! When the world gave them an opportunity to rage and unleash a fury toward Imus, they didn't. That's beautiful. When they had the eyes of the world on them, the exhibited grace and dignity. That's beautiful. When they had every reason and opportunity to malign and attack Imus, they forgave him. That's beautiful. D.L. Hughley's latest venture was canceled so he tried to piggyback on a painful period in our history by attempting to get a laugh on the cheap and THAT. WAS. UGLY! is dedicated to combating negative portrayals of African American Women in popular culture. Apparently after Studio 60 went belly-up, DL landed at BET, the bastion of black empowerment ( NOT!). His new show on BET is called S.O.B., a hidden camera reality show. Ask Viacom, the owner of BET, if this is the kind of message it wants to send to African American women and girls. What about our daughters? Or are you only concerned when the degradation of Black women comes from outside the community?

Posted by: Gem at May 10, 2007 11:47 PM
But Charlie on the PA Turnpike thinks:

What angered me most about the recent 'Sharpton on Mormons' incident was how I ended up *defending* Rev. Sharpton.

He's a buffoon and racist, make no mistake. But the CONTEXT of what he said when he used the phrase "those of us who believe in God will defeat Mitt Romney" was clearly understood in the debate he was having with an avowed atheist.

Posted by: Charlie on the PA Turnpike at May 11, 2007 7:31 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Charlie, I believe the exact Sharpton quote was, “As for the one Mormon running for office, those who really believe in God will defeat him anyway, so don’t worry, that’s a temporary situation.”

He didn't say those of US who believe... He did, however, include the word REALLY as if to distinguish between varying beliefs, some of which he considers true and others he considers, shall we say, "inferior."

Why would Sharpton have to say this if referring to atheism?

The good news here is that you can stop defending Sharpton.

The bad news is that being a hypocrite no longer disqualifies non-white non-conservative non-males from a prominent position in public life.

Posted by: johngalt at May 11, 2007 3:21 PM

FDA To Allow More Americans to Die

I said I wouldn't -- but how do I know you read the TCS piece...

Dr. Richard Miller, an oncologist at Stanford writes in today's WSJ Ed Page:

Cancer patients suffered a serious setback yesterday. The Food and Drug Administration sent back Dendreon's Provenge, a development-stage drug for prostate cancer, requesting additional clinical data. The FDA rejected the drug despite an outside advisory panel's overwhelming recommendation to approve it.

Provenge's fate has wider implications. It is the first of a growing number of therapeutic cancer vaccines to go up for approval, and is emblematic of the gap between medicine and statistics that paralyzes the FDA approval process and keeps vital treatments from reaching critically ill patients. The FDA bases its approvals -- for everything from medications for minor ailments to new cancer treatments -- on the rigid application of the same outdated statistical standards. Any new drug or other form of treatment, whether it's a therapeutic treatment for infected hangnails or a cancer vaccine, must meet the FDA's standard of 95% certainty that any positive results claimed for its use are not due to chance.

While hangnail sufferers may be in a position to (uncomfortably) wait for such levels to be achieved, it is difficult to argue that terminally ill patients with only months to live should have to do so -- especially when more than 1,500 Americans die of some form of cancer every day.
Millions of healthy Americans willingly face the roughly one-in-a-million chance that they will die from their annual flu shots, because they (rightly) judge that the potential benefits outweigh the potential risks. This risk-benefit analysis changes sharply when you are terminally ill. Shouldn't we give those patients at least a voice in deciding what risks they are willing to take when it comes to treatment options?

If, based on extensive review of all available data, the FDA has determined that a drug is safe and able to benefit some individuals, then patients and their doctors should be given the choice to use it. That will only happen if the FDA changes its one-size-fits-all method and uses a context-based approach to approving new drugs.

They took Erbitux of the market for two years, during which time 30,000 people died of colon cancer, for which Erbitux has been shown to be a helpful treatment. (Sam Waksal and Martha Stewart went to jail -- teach then to try to cure Cancer, the bastards!) Here, friends, we go again.

It's bad when the government takes your house or scrutinizes your library book list. Mr. Jefferson (and Mr. Locke, I believe) put "Life" even before liberty or happiness. That the government tells you and your doctor that it is illegal to buy treatment that might spare your life is the worst thing -- of many bad things -- that the government does.

Pharmaceuticals Posted by John Kranz at 11:34 AM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

JK knows I'm of a like mind regarding government over-regulation, but I'm not so sure this Provenge decision is an example of that. Dr. Miller complains of the "95% certainty" requirement but in the case of Provenge, the only statistically significant trial data showed that, in a population of 127 men, the drug extended median survival by 4.5 months versus placebo.

Provenge is the first of many, many potential vaccine formulations for various cancers. This is an area of great promise, but the Provenge data shows limited efficacy compared to what is promised by the clinical approach: Activating the body's natural immune system to destroy cancer cells throughout the body. There is great hope in cancer research circles that we're on the trail of a cancer "cure" with these treatments.

With the dozens of vaccines under development there are many, many opportunities for current patients to participate in clinical trials of these compounds. The chief effect of the FDA witholding approval is that the pharmaceutical companies must pay for the drugs instead of patients and their insurance companies. This is a huge incentive for the developers to carefully select where they make their investments and will shorten the time to better drugs. Meanwhile, today's patients have reasonable access to the best contemporary treatments and contribute greatly to progress of the science.

Posted by: johngalt at May 13, 2007 11:12 AM
But jk thinks:

I most heartily disagree.

Patients can determine whether the efficacy of the drug warrants its selection for treatment. Four and a half months might sound inviting to a patient who is having a difficult time with other treatments.

When treatments are available, combinations of treatments or differences in dosage frequently augment their efficacy. Many -- like Erbitux -- are found to be effective for other conditions. The government is terminating this opportunity by proscribing it.

In my view, the government should not disallow any medication unless it is shown to be unsafe. Efficacy and suitability should be left to doctors and patients.

I also take exception (respectfully, of course) with your assertion that it is somehow available through clinical trial even though the FDA has disallowed its sale. A patient who meets certain, exacting criteria, can with some luck, get accepted into a trial where he or she might be receiving a placebo for a terminal disease.

It is not about who pays for the study or the drugs. It is our government telling a doctor or patient that it is illegal to try a new compound to treat a terminal illness. I cannot condone that.

Posted by: jk at May 13, 2007 5:49 PM

May 9, 2007

Hear him tell it

I know, my rants on pharmaceuticals are probably getting to the level of Andrew Sullivan on torture or Professor Reynolds on non-stick cookware. It's my passion, and it is under more extreme pressure from a Democratic 110th Congress.

Ignore me. Listen to this guy. Charles Hooper is a consultant to drug companies, with the unfortunately necessary job of telling them to pull the plug on development.

Don't be misled into believing that Arcoxia, which has been tested in over 34,000 patients, is a wildly dangerous drug. According to Merck, "there is more long-term safety data from controlled clinical trials, in terms of patient-years on treatment, for Arcoxia than for any other NSAID, including traditional NSAIDs and Cox-2 selective inhibitors." Do the English or Germans seem careless or inept? Those countries already allow patients to use Arcoxia, as do 61 other countries in Asia, Latin America and Europe. It's as if the FDA is our parent and, after a long drive to the beach, is telling us not to swim in the water because he/she isn't convinced the water is warm enough. We nod agreement and then look out to see 63 other kids happily swimming. Hmmm. Maybe we're old enough to decide for ourselves.

At the end of the day, it will be my company that kills a new drug. So, yes, I'm a drug killer. But the FDA is the true drug killer. I'm merely acting out the FDA's script.

If you'll read the whole thing, I'll shut up about the topic for at least 30 days -- deal?

Pharmaceuticals Posted by John Kranz at 12:44 PM

I drank 946 Cappuccinos Yesterday

No, wait, really it was only two.

Sorry I said 946. I was tired.

UPDATE: I laugh to keep from crying on this story. Kansas's new Democratic Governor, Kathy Sibelius looks to join Louisianna Gov. Blanco:

Governor Kathleen Sebelius said much of the National Guard equipment usually positioned around the state to respond to emergencies is gone. She said not having immediate access to things like tents, trucks and semitrailers will really handicap the rebuilding effort.


2008 Race Posted by John Kranz at 11:46 AM | What do you think? [1]
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

SO,...I wasn't the only one?

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at May 9, 2007 5:55 PM

Grasso 1. Spitzer 0

Who says there's no good news?

Governor Elliot Spitzer, when he was AG-Governor-Wannabe Spitzer, brought countless frivolous charges against business leaders. The most egregious were those against NYSE President Dick Grasso and AIG Chief Hank Greenburg,

Spitzer's MO was trial by media. He would get on TV, call people names, leak emails, and make life miserable for a person or company. Most would capitulate and settle, making Harvard's own Javert look tough on white collar crime. When he actually had to go to court, his record was less than impressive (like mentioning that the Colorado Rockies "just missed the pennant" last year). Greenburg exonerated himself in court, now Grasso has made some strides to keeping his contracted, lawful pay.

The Wall Street Journal: (Paid link, sorry!)

In a 3-2 decision, the Appellate Division for New York's State Supreme Court ruled the state's attorney general "does not have the authority" to bring key parts of the case against Mr. Grasso over the pay package he was awarded during his time as a Big Board executive.

The lawsuit sought to force Mr. Grasso to return some of the money, arguing that he was simply paid too much, and also that he knew he was doing something wrong and violated his fiduciary duty.

The court decision is significant, because it throws out four of the six elements of the case, those that argued that his pay was unreasonably high under the state's rules governing not-for-profit companies.

I have been blogging about this since March 01, 2004. It's a travesty, and AG Spitzer was able to use it to parlay himself into the Governorship, with ambitions to go farther.

UPDATE: The WSJ Ed Page is on it as well:

Grasso Rolls Spitzer

We sympathize with current AG Andrew Cuomo, who now gets to pick up the pieces.

That's about all that's left after the appellate judges tossed out four of the six counts that Mr. Spitzer brought against Mr. Grasso in 2004 over a $187.5 million pay package. Mr. Spitzer, who is now Governor, had claimed authority to sue Mr. Grasso under New York's "not-for-profit law," arguing that the pay was "unreasonable." But as the court ruled yesterday, Mr. Spitzer had also done an end-run around the law, claiming authority not found in any statute. As a result, the court ruled, "the Attorney General does not have the authority" to proceed with most of the case.

Mr. Spitzer had to invent entirely new powers because he knew he'd have difficulty winning a case under the regular not-for-profit law. That statute requires the AG to prove that the pay was "unreasonable" and that the defendant had acted in bad faith. While the Grasso affair has no heroes, especially not the NYSE's dysfunctional former board of directors, there is little if any evidence that Mr. Grasso engineered his compensation without board knowledge.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:00 AM

May 8, 2007

The Value of Human Life

I saw a small news item on this yesterday. Taranto gives it good play today

The paper by the Optimum Population Trust will say that if couples had two children instead of three they could cut their family's carbon dioxide output by the equivalent of 620 return flights a year between London and New York.

John Guillebaud, co-chairman of OPT and emeritus professor of family planning at University College London, said: "The effect on the planet of having one child less is an order of magnitude greater than all these other things we might do, such as switching off lights.

I've made some mistakes in my life and held some incorrect views, but my biggest error was to fall for a talk by a CU Math Professor when I was in high school. This was the 70s and the idea of too many people wearing leisure suits and listening to terrible disco music seemed all too real.

Seriously, said professor used harmonic progression and logarithmic growth to effectively scare the visiting students. Thomas Malthus would have been proud. I was rabidly, teenage-know-it-all, anti population growth for years and skeptical of growth through much of my adult life.

The Malthusian lie is the most pernicious, and I think we'll see the environmentalist movement take up the mantle more and more. The scaremongers quoted probably care little if the person who cures cancer is not born -- but what about the engineer who discovers a cheap clean power source?

People are valuable: innovating, creating wealth and, yes, consuming. Wealth creation ultimately allows societies to pursue environmental goals. One Billion people living in caves and burning dung to keep warm is going to be a far more deleterious "footprint" than Vice President Gore flying around in his jet.

This needs to be said. I know too many people who have advanced political and economic views who will slowly nod assent to Malthusian crap.

Contradict this lie every time you hear it. People are the valuable resource! Soylent Green is People! Soylent Green is --sorry, the 70s leave deep scars.

Posted by John Kranz at 6:57 PM | What do you think? [1]
But Terri thinks:

Well said. I fell for the big lie too.

Another interesting thing is if you get onto the inconvenient truths carbon foot print calculator, I (in my 800 sq ft house, walking to work, driving a small Japanese car and hanging clothes on the line) have a smaller carbon footprint if only there were 2 of me living there. I know - it has to do with sharing the resources but it just shows to go that there's a ton of manure in all of this. My lifestyle somehow gives me an "Above Average" footprint. Sheesh. I suspect it's yet another scare tactic.

Posted by: Terri at May 9, 2007 10:59 AM

Chuck Schumer: Feel the Love

Perry at Eidelblog refers to the Senior Senator from New York as:

  • biggest Congressional hypocrite of all time

  • such a goddamn putz

  • Moron

  • satanic rectal spawn

What a great post!

Seriously, one of his constituents on a blog points out what no newspaper or magazine will dare. The good Putz Senator cannot oppose every refinery project, every drilling project, and every attempt to lighten the regulatory burden on refineries -- and then attack the oil companies for under production.

If Schumer wants to know the fundamental problem with American refineries, he need not look anywhere but a mirror. The New York Times reported two years ago that "Over the last quarter-century, the number of refineries in the United States dropped to 149, less than half the number in 1981." Worse, the United States hasn't seen a new refinery built since 1976. Every time a company would like to build one, they can't get past the hurdles that Congress, and state and local governments too, made to satisfy the tree-huggers. The blame falls mainly on Democrats, but also on "environmentally minded" Republicans who'll court any vote to win elections.
However, when it comes to getting people to vote for you, truth just doesn't compete with creating fear, including the fear that somebody just might have more than you. So Schumer will continue to harp on "income inequality" and oil companies' supposedly obscene profits, notwithstanding that, as my friend Josh Hendrickson pointed out a while back, oil companies' profits are hardly the highest compared to other industries, when you look at the percentages.

Well done.

Oil and Energy Posted by John Kranz at 12:29 PM | What do you think? [2]
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

You had me at "satanic rectal spawn!"


Posted by: TrekMedic251 at May 8, 2007 9:41 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I can't take credit for that one. 'Twas one of my friends who feels much the same way about Chuck the Schmuck.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at May 8, 2007 11:15 PM

May 7, 2007

Mitt Romney Call In

This evening "conservative leaders" (I guess that includes me. ;) ) from around the state of Pennsylvania participated in a thirty minute conference call with Presidential Candidate and Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.

After a brief introduction by Gary Marks, the Governor went into a brief stump speech centered around fiscal conservatism, and a theme he reitorated for the rest of the call. Federalism and states rights.

He said that "Washington is a mess" and he can turn it around. As governor, he cut programs and departments while lowering taxes. As President he'd like to see McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform repealed. He's opposed to amnesty for illegal immigrants and is for securing the borders. He's pro-life and would give the ability to regulate abortion law to the states.

In terms of polling, he says a new CBS poll has him in "a wide lead" over his opponents in New Hampshire. Which stands to figure, neighbors and all.

At that point, the Q&A section began, with the first question going to Ryan Shafik of the Lincoln Institute. Ryan asked if under a Romney administration would there be any entitlement bills with the size of Medicare part D. Romney's response was to say a bill of the size and scope was "shocking" from a GOP President and a majority Republican congress. Under his administration there would be needed reforms in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

Colin Hanna from Let Freedom Ring had the next question. Paraphrasing, "would you sign the hate-crimes bill as is currently sitting on the President's desk." Romney went back to federalism, saying the states can be responsible for that, and even though he's not familiar with the details of the bill he'd veto it. (That's a very good answer) He also went on to say that the federal government shouldn't be jumping in to issues with a response. Let the states deal with it, if necessary.

Governor Romney then asked Colin for his opinion, who responded that it was not necessary, does nothing and would be an infringement. Romney said that he heard it might affect what preachers can say from the pulpit.

The next question came from Joe Sterns who asked, "if you could only get one thing done as President, what would it be?"

Mitt didn't give a preference to one, but listed, perhaps in no particular order, a reining of spending; entitlement reform; moving health care to a market based system; and in the foreign policy arena, he'd like to move Islam away from their extremists. He's also like to find away to reform the education system, but says that's not a job for the federal government, but the states.

I didn't catch the name of the next questioner, who was from Newtown Square. "How can you win the Philly 'burbs?" Mitt's answer was to go to the website get signed up and volunteer... and to give what you can. $10, $20, $50 bucks. If we got Hillary or Obama we'd be in for a sharp turn to the left who would appoint judges liberal judges.

The next questioner from North Huntingdon asked about education improvements. My call dropped out, and when I got back in I caught the tail end of "more parental involvement."

Pawatercooler contributor Ben Wren got the final question in about Romneycare. "What's the conservative argument for it?" The answer started with "The Heritage Foundation helped create it." There was a well polling referendum on the ballot in Massachusetts that going to setup a state run health care system, so the legislature had to act.

He gave a brief description of how it works.

  • Some research indicated that people who could afford health care did not get it knowing that they could get free services at the local hospital. Now, if you can afford it, you'll buy it, or pay the full ride come time.

  • The state went to insurance companies to find out how to lower premiums, which basically boiled down to fewer mandates. Governor Romney wanted to dispose of the all, but the legislature put a bunch in anyway. In anycase, this lowered the average premium from $350 / month to about $175.

  • For the poor, they pay what they can afford, still with private insurers. The state then makes up the balance. This costs less than the traditional state spending for "free care" saving the Commonwealth about $300 million per year. $1.3 billion vs $1.0 billion.

The time ran out, but I wanted to ask about his position on the fair tax or his energy policy.

I was pleasantly surprised to hear federalism. I suspect that's from bad experiences as governor and having to deal with mandates from Washington.

Prior to today, of the big three Romney was my least favorite, with Giuliani "in the lead." Given Rudy's recent social issue implosion and this conference, I'm now interested in Romney... I'm still very interested in Thompson, so I'll wait and see, but Romney I liked.

But jk thinks:

Superb post, brother ac. All joking aside, you are a conservative leader in your state and I appreciate that.

RomneyCare remains the real dealbreaker for me with the Governor. The WSJ Ed Page complained at the time that he got NO relief on state mandated benefits.

The AEI and Art Laffer are both big on mandating coverage, so he can claim a good pedigree. But I think he is spinning a bit with his successes. If his figures are accurate, he might even get me in the fold.

Posted by: jk at May 8, 2007 11:15 AM
But jk thinks:

A conservative leader you may be. I, like my hero FA Hayek, am not a conservative. Sorry,

Posted by: jk at May 8, 2007 12:07 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I agree that Romney is a breath of fresh air. Every time I hear him I'm impressed by how literate and quick witted he is. Some would call it slick, but one can't fake it forever. I'm still watching.

Posted by: johngalt at May 8, 2007 3:04 PM


I think I liked the Senator better when his economic policies were vague and undefined. He's going to fix the competitiveness of the big three by designing their cars for them and paying 10% of their health care for ten years. Or something. You read it:

"For years, while foreign competitors were investing in more fuel-efficient technology for their vehicles, American automakers were spending their time investing in bigger, faster cars," the Illinois senator told business and political leaders.

Wait, there's a name for that! It begins with an M. Mar-something...
Obama said his plan encourages domestic automakers to make fuel-efficient hybrid vehicles by giving them health care assistance for retirees. Federal financial assistance would cover 10 percent — up to $7 billion — of automakers' annual legacy health care costs through 2017, under Obama's plan, which would require automakers to invest at least half of their health care savings into technology to produce fuel-efficient cars.

As a second choice, Obama's plan would provide $3 billion to automakers over 10 years to help retool plants to make fuel-efficient cars and trucks.

Democrats, to a man or woman, always trust the government to pick winners. Here's one more example.

But johngalt thinks:

If 10 percent of automakers' ANNUAL legacy health care costs is around $7Bn, the full tab is (stay with me here) $70Bn... for people no longer contributing to productivity... PER YEAR!

No wonder Toyota is on the verge of becoming #1.

Posted by: johngalt at May 8, 2007 3:13 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Another thought: My investment advisor tells me to diversify. It's smart to pick investments that aren't doing well now as long as they can be expected to to well when your favored investments are faltering.

Automaker's could apply a similar strategy. Build fast, powerful vehicles under one brand and slow, stingy ones under another. Since traditional Americans prefer the former and commie pinkos prefer the latter, I propose "GM Red" and "GM Blue" as the opposing brands.

Posted by: johngalt at May 8, 2007 3:17 PM
But jk thinks:

I like the contracyclical play, but are your new divisions really different from Saturn vs. Cadillac?

The health care costs show the Democratic axis of evil (I'm kidding, really, kindof, in a way): socialized health care prevents market forces from smashing the last bastion of anachronistic labor industry.

Obama's plan is so bad (it was called the Obama-Bush plan because the President has pushed CAFE standards as well) on so many levels. Senator Obama's reluctance to see Toyota and Subaru as part of a robust American automobile manufacturing industry is telling, Yes, I know he was speaking in Detroit. I will give him half a pass for that.

Let us not prop up failing corporations with public dollars, Senator (cf. Schumpeter, Hayek).

Posted by: jk at May 8, 2007 6:18 PM

Gov. Romney Savaged

"Mitt" may have scored some points in the first debate, but he collects some bad press in the OpinionJournal Political Diary today. John Fund writes:

Presidential candidates often have to endure personal questions designed to elicit clues to their personality ("What is your favorite color?" "Who is your favorite philosopher?"). Most candidates come up with canned, safe answers that show off their leadership qualities.

Then there is Mitt Romney, who inexplicably named "Battlefield Earth," a science-fiction novel by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, when asked on Fox News what his favorite novel is. The book, which is not a bad read, was turned into a dreadful movie starring John Travolta, a high-ranking Scientologist.

The ex-governor's reading tastes became a source of great speculation in the Blogosphere. Was Mr. Romney trying to appeal to wealthy Scientologists? Was he signaling he was an Everyman reader comfortable in his own skin who eschewed the pretentious answers some candidates give to such questions? After all, President Bush was widely ridiculed when he named Albert Camus's dense intellectual volume "The Stranger" as his favorite book.

Even Hugh Hewitt, a talk show host who has written a highly laudatory biography of Mr. Romney, flatly says he found the choice strange and challenged Mr. Romney during an interview on his radio show last Friday.

Mr. Romney, feeling the heat from critics, abandoned the choice he had made only a week before. "Well, you know, that's really not my favorite novel," he explained to Mr. Hewitt. "Probably my favorite is Huckleberry Finn and I've read all of Louis L'Amour's books." Perhaps acutely aware that he could be accused of flip-flopping again, Mr. Romney was quick to shore up his science-fiction base. "There's some great science fiction out there," he told Mr. Hewitt, citing Ann McCaffrey's "Dragonflight" and Orson Scott Card's "Ender's Game."

But Mr. Romney's choices did not impress SF aficionados. "He has gone from an honest answer, however bizarre a book, to one that is suspiciously convenient," one fan told me. "Orson Scott Card is a fellow Mormon and Ann McCaffrey is from his home state of Massachusetts."

I concur. As a fellow science fiction fan, I found Mr. Romney's answer refreshing, although Hubbard is hardly a great writer. But the former governor wouldn't stick to it once he was ridiculed. Mr. Romney has had an impressive career, but I was hoping for a president with a bit more backbone in standing up for his populist choice against carpers from the literary establishment.

I'm not a sci-Fi guy myself, but I think that the Governor has to be careful of the "too slick" label. His perfectly moisturized skin and Edwards hair can be a real asset. Combined with recent accusations of serial pandering, however, he appears too much the politician.

Romney scored some points with me at the debate. This accusation, for some reason, sets him back.

2008 Race Posted by John Kranz at 12:58 PM

Vive Sarkozy!

The Republic of France (Fifth I guess, but whose counting?) has done something I wish Americans would do -- reject 1968.

On one hand, the President is not a powerful executive in the French system. And Sarkozy will face an entrenched bureaucracy that makes John Bolton's and Paul Wolfowitz's jobs seem easy. Yet it would be a mistake to underplay this choice that the French people made.

Larry Kudlow talks about a Sarkozy-Trichet axis: a pro-market, altlanticist leader in France and a powerful and skillful central bank president could really put Rumsfeld's "Old Europe" back on the economic map.

Kudlow does look on the bright side of things. But whatever the eventual outcome, the rejection of Socialism, in France, even well packaged as in Ms. Royal's candidacy, is a great day for freedom. Today France, tomorrow the US Congress...

ver.jpg By the way. For my blog brothers and friends who think of Sartre and Company, let me present an alternate Gaullist image (stolen from Instapundit).

Vive la France!
But johngalt thinks:

If it can happen in France, why not America in '08?

From Sarkozy's victory speech:

"I will restore the value of work, authority, morals, respect, and merit. I'll restore national pride and national identity."

And from a recent debate with the Socialist Royal he said:

"France's moral crisis has a name. It is a crisis of work," he told the 20 million French voters watching.

"I want the workers to be respected. I want to protect the French from seeing their jobs going abroad. I don't believe in living on social welfare. I don't believe everyone is the same. I believe in merit, I believe in effort and reward for that effort and I believe in social mobility. But above all, I believe in hard work."

Posted by: johngalt at May 7, 2007 3:12 PM
But johngalt thinks:

P.S. I'm with your demonstrator... "Chirac ist ein wurm."

Posted by: johngalt at May 7, 2007 3:15 PM

May 6, 2007

Faster Please.

We really need a nationalized health care system.

Really. The government ought to provide it to us.

British doctors will take the historic step of admitting for the first time that many health treatments will be rationed in the future because the NHS cannot cope with spiralling demand from patients.

In a major report that will embarrass the government, the British Medical Association will say fertility treatment, plastic surgery and operations for varicose veins and minor childhood ailments, such as glue ear, are among a long list of procedures in jeopardy.

But jk thinks:

Yeah, but we're going to do it right. Our Commissars will be better than Lenin's and Communism will work this time around...

Posted by: jk at May 6, 2007 1:45 PM

La France

The French go to the polls today to choose between what we in the United States would call "a socialist" and a Democrat.

Anyway, here's a photo accompanying a BBC article about the vote.


Are these the French? I would have pictured bitter people with waxed moustaches, berets and cigarettes.

But TrekMedic251 thinks:

I've always pictured them with a bottle of wine in one hand,..a baguette in the other and running away from a bar of soap,..but that's just me.

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at May 6, 2007 1:11 PM
But jk thinks:

You've both been reading blogs too much. Think of attractive young women...

Posted by: jk at May 6, 2007 2:44 PM
But johngalt thinks:

And the Socialist claims there will be riots in the streets if the Democrat is elected. Why? He's allowed himself to be photographed in some proximity to an American flag.

Posted by: johngalt at May 6, 2007 9:21 PM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

jk,.."young, attractive women" + "France" don't seem to go together in my head.

Now,..if you want attractive Arab women to fantasize about being under those burkhas - try Haifa Wehbe! :)

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at May 7, 2007 8:13 PM


I've been on some hairy flights and hairy landings, but I don't know if looking at the runway over the wing tip is my idea of a good time.

But jk thinks:

Ich nicht verstehe, enschuldigung.

Posted by: jk at May 6, 2007 1:50 PM
But johngalt thinks:


Posted by: johngalt at May 6, 2007 8:52 PM
But AlexC thinks:

I think it's Icelandic.

There doesn't seem to be much difference between it and a fast-forwarded audio.

Posted by: AlexC at May 6, 2007 10:38 PM

May 4, 2007


I'm lovin' this guy.

Sometimes I think that I'm the last guy around who still thinks term limits is a good idea. The professionalization of politics saps people's courage. Their desire to keep their job and not upset anybody overrides all else -- even if it hurts the country.

So the entitlement problem gets kicked a little further down the road. This action is based on the premise that our generation is too greedy to help the next generation. I believe just the opposite is true. If grandmom and granddad think that a little sacrifice will help their grandchildren when they get married, try to buy a home or have children, they will respond to a credible call to make that sacrifice -- if they don't think that the sacrifice is going down some government black hole.

I am going to quote my friend, Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma. I don't think he'll mind, even though it was a private conversation. He said, "People talk a lot about moral issues, but the greatest moral issue facing our generation is the fact that we are bankrupting the next generation. People talk about wanting to make a difference. Here we could make a difference for generations to come."

But johngalt thinks:

Thompson gives a lot of simple, common sense explanations for how to solve problems. But he doesn't say how he's going to save the world from global warming!

Seriously though, I think Bush would agree with everything FDT says but when the president has a chance to say these things he's so busy trying to sound smart that he's afraid to put it simply.

Fred's genious is in knowing that he doesn't have to prove that he knows what he's talking about. He says it - it agrees with reality and the voters' perceptions of it - they believe it.

F-D-T. F-D-T. F-D-T.

Posted by: johngalt at May 5, 2007 8:47 PM
But AlexC thinks:

Fun FDT Facts.

Fred Thompson's favorite color is the blood of his enemies.

Does a bear @#$% in the woods? Only with signed notarized permission in triplicate from Fred Thompson.

You can safely view Fred Thompson using a shoe box with a pin-sized hole in one end.

Fred Thompson is a prime number.

Inexplicably, Fred Thompson receives a copy of tomorrow's newspaper at his doorstep every morning. He uses it to wrap fish since Fred Thompson doesn't care about either today's or tomorrow's liberal slant on the news.

Posted by: AlexC at May 6, 2007 2:57 AM
But jk thinks:

I'm concerned that Senator T has become a convenient tabula rasa onto which each can project his ideal candidate.

FDT is going to be tougher on terrorists than McCain, more solidly pro-life than Romney, more pro-choice than Rudy, more liberty minded than Brownback, more incandescent and charismatic than Huckabee...

As mentioned, I will give him a fair hearing upon his entry. But, after initial disappointment that no candidates have a four syllable first name, I am pretty pleased with the pack. I'm not going to slit my wrists if FDT decides to stay H-O-M-E. I fear some others are setting them selves up for disappointment.

Posted by: jk at May 6, 2007 1:42 PM
But johngalt thinks:

There goes JK again, always being the responsible one.

Just dream a little dream with me brother: FDT in a general election debate with Obama or Ms. Clinton, after a long-winded and perfectly vacuous explanation of whatever dream they have for America, gives his version of RWR's "There you go again" quip. Remember what it was like to win 49 states to 1?

Posted by: johngalt at May 6, 2007 9:07 PM

45 Days

Paris Hilton to the joint.

A judge sentenced Paris Hilton to 45 days in jail Friday for violating her probation, putting the brakes on the hotel heiress' famous high life.

Hilton, who parlayed her name and relentless partying into worldwide notoriety, must go to jail on June 5 and she will not be allowed any work release, no furloughs, no use of an alternative jail and no electronic monitoring in lieu of jail, Superior Court Judge Michael T. Sauer ruled after a hearing.

The heiress arrived at court 10 minutes late in the back of a black Cadillac Escalade and swept into the Metropolitan Courthouse with several men in suits, ignoring screams of photographers lining the route into a rear entrance. Her parents, Rick and Kathy Hilton, also came with her.

I expect that any videos which might inadvertantly find their way OUT of the woman's prison she will be inhabiting will be an immediate best seller.

Current Events Posted by AlexC at 8:02 PM

Statistical Visualization

This video was linked to in a very interesting post on A Second Hand Conjecture. The post has excellent points about reductions in poverty and I highly recommend it. It provides an AlanReynoldsesque debunking of “The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer.

But I thought that some of the -- may I use the term "nerds?" -- around ThreeSources would dig this, I know I did (infer as you will).

But Lance thinks:

At minimum we geeks appreciate it, the nerds however I can't speak to;^)

Posted by: Lance at May 4, 2007 7:03 PM

Fred! is a Bigot

Can we really expect anything different from a liberal media?

So can “Law & Order” actor and former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.) become the first presidential candidate with this credit? Thompson played a white supremacist, spewing anti-Semitic comments and fondling an autographed copy of “Mein Kampf” on a television drama 19 years ago.

His colleagues say that he was just an actor putting everything he had into playing the role of a charismatic racist, named Knox Pooley, in three episodes of CBS’ hit show “Wiseguy” in 1988. “Do you call Tom Cruise a killer because he played one in a movie?” asked show creator and writer Stephen J. Cannell.

It's the other different side of the "moral authority" coin that is invoked when people like Martin Sheen must be listened to because "he played the President on TV."

The alternate reality of television is real. At least to some.

Though I must say, it's stunningly weak.

(tip to Hot Air)

But jk thinks:

Stunningly, chrushingly, mind-bogglingly weak.

Posted by: jk at May 4, 2007 6:24 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Quoting from the article: "People who work out their politics on the Internet understand how potentially troublesome things like this can be. Like pebbles in a pond, you can't know where the ripples are going to stop — or what the gullible or the mean-spirited may make of them."

So which is it to write a "news" article in a major metropolitan newspaper headlined "Will Fred Thompson's racist role have political repercussions" and devote 8 full paragraphs to transcribing dialog from the first episode? Gullible or mean-spirited?

This proves one thing for certain... Fred Thompson is on the presidential campaign map and he's making a lot of people nervous.

Posted by: johngalt at May 5, 2007 8:35 PM

Jobless rate rises as hiring slows

Perhaps the AP deserves points for avoiding the word "surge"

WASHINGTON - The nation's unemployment rate edged up to 4.5 percent in April as cautious employers added the fewest new jobs in more than two years, signaling that the labor market is starting to feel some of the strain of the sluggish economy.

Man, 4.4 to 4.5%. No wonder Associated Press reporters are in a panic. I'll admit that the 88,000 jobs number for April was anemic, but let's not break out the Woodie Guthrie songs just yet. These numbers are consistently being revised up as our government shows the same proclivity for collecting statistics as it does serving customers at the DMV.

Here's hoping that the one-one-thousandth of job seekers who could not hook up with an employer in April find something soon. It won't be easy in this depression with record stock indices and 4.5% unemployment.

Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 1:04 PM

Debate Commentary

What I am reading in blogs this morning does not seem to correlate with the debate I watched last night. For the most part, I hear everybody claiming that his or her candidate won, and that that candidate's chief rival imploded.

I come out of the evening, as I went in, a Gulianni Guiliani Rudy supporter. He certainly didn't "win." Yet it was a first debate and not a particularly good forum for Hizzoner. The forum introduces everybody well, but offers few points for a breakout. Everybody hopes for the big Reaganesque quip that lays the other nine to waste, but the reality is that very little moved last night. Most of the folks watching are either committed or professionally uncommitted,

I will give some good marks to the back benchers. I had written off Gov. Huckabee, based on Club for Growth attacks, and I had felt that Senator Brownback was nothing more than a social conservative. Both won my respect with sound economic answers last night. Gov. Thompson surprised me to the upside -- and mirabile dictu, Rep. Tancredo did well. I still disagree with him on his signature issue, but was good on everything else and a good presence.

Gov. Romney gained the most points. It is probably fair that many of his supporters are claiming that he "won." I was glad to hear him questioned on RomneyCare, the issue that separates us, and must admit he played it well.

Out of ten, I must hand out a few "down arrows." Rep. Hunter was wrong on immigration, wrong on trade, and makes a perfect poster boy for the GOP that lost its way in Washington. If there was a gaffe last night, I thought it was Duncan Hunter's. After Senator McCain talked about his war experience, Hunter compared his chairing the Defense Appropriations Committee. "You may be a war hero, but I swilled hundreds of Martinis with the heads of Raytheon!" (I may paraphrase a bit...)

Rep Paul was our crazy old aunt in the attic. Why are only 9% of American voters little-l libertarian? Exhibit A. I knew he was isolationist but that was the wrong time and the wrong crowd to wear it as a badge of honor.

All in all, I'm feeling pretty good to be a Republican. My satellite was still on MSNBC this morning (How come we gotta do Chris Matthews and they won't do FOX?) Tucker Carlson was interviewing "Mudcat," the Democrat who was featured in the Weekly Standard a year or so ago. Mudcat is working with Edwards and I woke up to hearing Carlson ask him "McCain's been around, he's a tough guy. Don't you think he'd spank Edwards like the bad girl he is?" My wife and I exploded with laughter and rewound it a few times. Ann Coulter must wonder how he gets away with it.

2008 Race Posted by John Kranz at 11:06 AM | What do you think? [3]
But johngalt thinks:

While your opinion of Tancredo rose, mine fell: He was inarticulate and among the three candidates who raised his hand when asked, "Does anybody here NOT believe in evolution?"

My favorite Romney line was when Matthews asked if the candidates though it would be good for America to have Bill Clinton in the White House again. Romney was first to answer with an immediate, "You've GOT to be kidding!"

As for "Doctor" Paul, my opinion of him was higher after reading AlexC's conservatism primer and plummeted once the man opened his mouth. This is a big-L Libertarian. Rand called them "hippies." They give the little-l variety a bad name.

Posted by: johngalt at May 4, 2007 3:37 PM
But jk thinks:

Yeah, he ran as the big L Presidential candidate a couple of times at least. That would disqualify a serious candidate.

Too bad nobody warned you of possible inaccuracies in the conservative primer (Hint: uber-Catholic William F Buckley is not really king of the "it feels good, do it" crowd either).

Posted by: jk at May 4, 2007 6:13 PM
But johngalt thinks:


Posted by: johngalt at May 5, 2007 8:36 PM

May 3, 2007

Stories from Occupation

Do. Not. Miss. the four part essay on Estonian Independence on Kojinshugi. I started reading Sam on his Unigolyn blog when he was in Estonia. He moved to British Columbia and I have kept up with his less political kojinshugi.

He recently returned to Estonia and has posted four parts of an essay on the nation's history, annotated with stories his relatives and memories from childhood. This, from the second part, caught my eye:

I remember signatures being collected in schools for the language law. I don’t know what the signatures were for, or why they were asking nine-year olds to do it. But I remember signing it and I remember feeling joy doing it. We were told we didn’t have to wear our Octobrist pins anymore. That day I went home and asked my mom for a hammer. I sat on the front steps of my house and I beat that grotesque pentagram and Lenin’s bald head into a flat piece of metal. I now wish I’d kept it, but back then I just wanted to be rid of it.

They gave us new schoolbooks. The old ones all started with a four-page adulation of Lenin, the Lover of Children and Our Great Father. They said we could throw the old ones away. My school was only about 50 meters away from the Bronze Soldier and the Eternal Flame, a recessed gas fire, was still burning there. Me and some of my friends didn’t feel like dumping the books in a trash can. After school, we went to the Flame and we ripped those books to shreds and burned them. Keep in mind we were nine year-olds. No one told us to burn those books. We weren’t politically savvy. But we knew almost viscerally that this shit they had been forcing on us was pure, unadulterated evil.

My mother in law had the same feeling at a similar age, The occupying Japanese forces came to school on the first day and supervised the kids' cutting every reference to the United States, a Dollar Sign, or the American flag out of their schoolbooks. Mom knew, too, that that was wrong though she did not know how wrong or why.

You'll not find either Sam or my Mother in law at a peace rally holding up a "War Is Not The Answer" banner (well, Sam might be infiltrating the assembly for a podcast or something...)

I'm only half through. I will bug you again when I have finished it, but this is incredible stuff: the real prized jewels in the blogosphere,

Part One

Freedom on the March Posted by John Kranz at 5:04 PM

Collective Noun

A Samizdat seeks the proper collective noun for moonbats.

Fifty-nine suggestions as I type this, most very good.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:31 PM | What do you think? [2]
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

I'll go with "guano" myself!

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at May 3, 2007 8:02 PM
But jk thinks:

Good. Although "A lunacy of moonbats" trips off the tounge.

Posted by: jk at May 4, 2007 1:19 PM

S&P 1500. Yawn

Larry Kudlow wonders if the debaters tonight will discuss the Bush Economic boom:

So let me get this straight – earnings are up, ISM-manufacturing is up, ISM-services is up, productivity is up, factory orders are up, media stocks are up, the overall stock market is breaking records, household net worth is up, financial assets of individuals and corporations have increased vastly more than their liabilities, and jobless claims are way down. These are just a few snippets of continued economic prosperity.

There is no bubble. There is no recession. And with core inflation a mere 2.1 percent over the past twelve months, the Fed can declare victory and go home.

The Dow is enjoying its best winning streak since 1955. It has risen in 21 of the last 24 sessions. The S&P 500 crossed 1500 this morning for the first time since September 2000.

The S&P closed at 1502.39, Dow's at another record, yadda, yadda.

Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 4:17 PM


No, not really.

How about Fred!

According to Forbes magazine, by the way, Castro is now personally worth approximately $900 million. So when he desperately needed medical treatment recently, he could afford to fly a Spanish surgeon, with equipment, on a chartered jet to Cuba. What does that say about free Cuban health care?

The other thing that irks me about Moore and his cohort in Hollywood is their complete lack of sympathy for fellow artists persecuted for opposing the Castro regime. Pro-democracy activists are routinely threatened and imprisoned, but Castro remains a hero to many here. According to human rights organizations, these prisoners of conscience are often beaten and denied medical treatment, sanitation or even adequate nutrition.

If Moore wants a subject for a real documentary, I would suggest looking into the life of Cuban painter and award-winning documentarian Nicolás Guillén Landrián. He was denied the right to practice his art for using the Beatles’ song, “The Fool on the Hill,” as background music behind footage of Castro climbing a mountain. Later, he was given plenty of free Cuban health care when he was confined for years in a “mental institution” and given devastating, repeated electroshock “treatments.”

There are many other artists and activists who have enjoyed similar treatment. I suspect we’ll see movies with sympathetic portrayals of terrorists held in Guantanamo before we ever hear about the torture of true Cuban heroes. Even Andy Garcia’s brilliant fictionalized movie about the real Cuban experience, “The Lost City,” was given the Hollywood silent treatment. My bet, though, is that we’ll hear lots about how Michael Moore showed that Cuba’s socialized medicine is better than ours.

So go ahead and start working on the Oscar speech, Michael.

2008 Race Posted by AlexC at 3:16 PM

Jonah vs. the Communist

Professor Reynolds links to a Jonah Goldberg column where he describes his appearance at Oxford to debate the proposition “This House regrets the founding of The United States of America” against two Islamists and a Communist. Sadly for Jonah and the planet the Communist was a no show.

But the column, and his prepared opening remarks which are reprinted therein, are masterful:

At least two of these men reject the Enlightenment. And I’m not talking about the French one. But the good one from Scotland. (When it comes to Enlightenments, as Michael Meyers says in So I Married an Ax Murderer — “if it’s not Scottish, it’s crap.”)
Lastly, let me just note that if the ugly fantasy at the heart of the proposition were somehow made real and America had never been born, then a lot more than democracy and freedom would suffer. America is the engine of global prosperity — a job we inherited from Britain.

From penicillin to the iPod, the artificial heart to rising crust pizza, jazz and the Simpsons to the Marshall Plan, America — through its ingenuity, openness, generosity, and adherence to the liberal principles it inherited from this great land — has championed the relief of man’s estate (in the words of Francis Bacon) and the liberty to let your freak flag fly (in the words of David Crosby).


Posted by John Kranz at 2:56 PM | What do you think? [1]
But AlexC thinks:

America! Fuck Yeah!

Posted by: AlexC at May 3, 2007 3:19 PM

Selling Rice Offsets

Drive your Prius, fly commercial, you're still contributing to DAWG unless you eschew the real global warming culprit, rice.

"Methane emissions are unique to rice," he said. "If Asian countries are exploring possibilities to reduce greenhouse gas, they have to look at rice production. I'm not saying it's the biggest source, but in Asia it's a source that cannot be neglected."

It's the bacteria that thrive in flooded paddies that produce methane, by decomposing manure used as fertilizer and other organic matter in the oxygen-free environment. The gas is emitted through the plants or directly into the atmosphere.

A molecule of methane is 21 times more potent than a molecule of carbon dioxide as a heat-trapping gas. Although carbon dioxide is still the bigger problem, representing 70 percent of the warming potential in the atmosphere, rising levels of methane now account for 23 percent, reports the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

If you must order that Kung Pao, fear not -- I will sell you rice offsets. Send me $10.00 and I will not eat rice all day.

But AlexC thinks:

A co-worker generously gave me "a gazillon" carbon credits.

I'm throwing another caribou on the fire right now.

Posted by: AlexC at May 3, 2007 3:20 PM

Reducing Poverty

Arnold Kling has a sermon for the ThreeSources faithful on using Hayekian distribution and entrepreneurial innovation to alleviate poverty, instead of central planning. It's the one thing that seems to work -- but it provides no work for the planners.

Poverty may fall in half in the next ten years even if we do not enact any of the recommendations of this task force. In fact, a reasonable guess is that the recommendations themselves would, if anything, slow the rate of progress against poverty.

The point of this essay is to simply state the obvious. If you look at poverty from the broad perspective of international and historical comparisons, the solution to poverty is decentralized entrepreneurial activity under capitalism.

The whole piece is superb.

Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 1:27 PM

May 2, 2007

We Win. They Lose.

Never know about the efficacy of an online petition, but I could not resist this one:

We win. they lose.

When it came to defeating the Soviets, Ronald Reagan made it simple: "We win, they lose." Now more than ever, the defeatists in Congress must hear that same message. America will never surrender. is a new site where you can get involved in the fight to support our troops and secure victory in the War on Terror.

Sign the petition.

Freedom on the March Posted by John Kranz at 5:46 PM

Wolfowitz Memo

Doc Mankiw links to an amusing parody of a Paul Wolfowitz memo to World Bank staff, ordering them to abjure playing his resignation contracts on TradeSports:

I hope you understand that any attempt by World Bank Staff to buy or sell these contracts will be considered insider trading in clear violation of my anti-corruption guidelines. Your knowledge of normal World Bank personnel procedures gives you a clear information advantage in predicting whether I will be forced to resign. You must not abuse it. Please note: the Bank’s prohibition on insider trading applies not only to immediate family but also to significant others (e.g., girlfriends).

Some of you have already queried my office about whether it would still be insider trading if, when you buy “Paul Wolfowitz resignation” contracts (betting that I will leave before 2008), you also sell short “Alberto Gonzalez resignation” contracts. (This is a bet that my friend, the U.S. Attorney General, will hang on through end 2007.) My emphatic answer is no! Long Wolfowitz, short Gonzalez is only a “relative value play” that hedges out the value of loyalty to President Bush. You would still be guilty of insider trading on your Bank-specific knowledge. (And who says I don’t know enough about finance for this job!)

I think Wolfowitz is 100% innocent and wish the rest of the piece did not credit his opponents. But it's funny.

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 11:07 AM

May 1, 2007

Penn & Teller on Immigration

It had to happen. jk proudly presents a link to Penn & Teller's "Bullshit" on immigration. Click over to YouTube to see parts two and three.

You'll be glad to hear they do not use the term "Comparative Advantage."

Immigration Posted by John Kranz at 6:41 PM

Interesting Blog Concept

Registered usrers submit stories and vote on them; the most popular get posted onto the home page.

A project of Alex Singleton, who describes it in more detail on Samizdata.

But AlexC thinks:

It's very "Digg"-ish... or reddit-like.

Two things about those kinds of sites.

1) they require a critical mass or particpants

2) they can also be gamed.

Posted by: AlexC at May 1, 2007 6:21 PM
But jk thinks:

Based on Digg. I had not seen or heard of it before.

I would say the Samizdata and Adam Smith Institute connections might bring it to critical mass pretty quickly, your second concern is worrisome.

I also wonder if it lacks a character or voice. I'm interested, though, I signed up for a login on the beta and plan to stick with it awhile and see what happens.

Posted by: jk at May 1, 2007 6:51 PM

Supply-Side Health Care

Friend of ThreeSources Josh Hendrickson (The Everyday Economist) has an interesting article in TCSDaily today on the need to improve supply of health care as well as its funding.

The supply-side is riddled with inefficiencies. For example, the supply of doctors is restricted by licensing and medical school enrollments. Physicians also often act to exclude substitutes such as physician assistants and nurse practitioners. What's more, doctors effectively act as a collective monopoly because of the lack of price competition within their ranks. These restrictions on supply lead to higher prices for patients and higher incomes for doctors. This is especially inefficient considering that patients often lack price information until they receive their statement of benefits in the mail. Although the insurance system was quite different in 1963, many of the inefficiencies of the market are consistent with what is seen today.

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 12:51 PM

Defining Conservatism

Are you throwing around words like "neo-con" and "classical liberal" without knowing what they really mean?

Jim Panyard can help.

  • Big Government Conservatives
  • Classic Liberals
  • Constitutional Conservatives
  • Fiscal Conservatives
  • Libertarian Conservatives
  • Neo-Conservatives
  • Pseudo Conservatives
  • Social Conservatives
  • Traditional Conservatives

He concludes:

There are a lot of nuances in conservative philosophy, which become principles for those who learn and adhere to what has been responsible for mankind's successes and failures. Real conservatives are slow to change their views and never forsake their principles.


The movement is one comprised of individuals. That is why our monolithic, socialist state is so difficult to overcome.

But jk thinks:

Mr. Panyard wants to bring down the socialist monolith by insulting all of his natural allies. We'll see how that goes.

Until the ending, I was certain that this was being written by a lefty who was studying conservatives as Jane Goodall studied chimpanzees. I disagree with about all of his descriptions and question his tome.

Other than that, it was great.

Posted by: jk at May 1, 2007 12:41 PM
But jk thinks:

I didn't mean that comment to be quite so harsh. I was struck reading Brian Dougherty’s Radicals for Capitalism how badly these schisms dilute political power among the liberty minded.

I suppose that is his point but his incorrect and uncomplimentary descriptions of other groups don't help.

Posted by: jk at May 1, 2007 1:00 PM
But jk thinks:

The real tagline for ThreeSources ought to be "Can't We All Get Along?"

Posted by: jk at May 1, 2007 1:02 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Geez JK, I felt like I just saw a great movie after it was panned by the reviewer. Methinks you're a little prickly on this subject.

I thought all of the descriptions were as accurate and matter-of-fact as could be in an effort to draw distinctions within the boundaries of a very big tent.

I, for one, (a classical/libertarian conservative) was not offended. Nor am I unwilling to link arms with any others described here (except pseudo conservatives) to "bring down the socialist monolith."

Posted by: johngalt at May 1, 2007 3:37 PM

Underwhelming Demand for Universal Health Care

Don Luskin points out a NYTimes story and wonders if the reporter would have been as sympathetic had the Bush Administration or an American corporation been "groping in the dark with other people’s money."

When Maine became the first state in years to enact a law intended to provide universal health care, one of its goals was to cover the estimated 130,000 residents who had no insurance by 2009, starting with 31,000 of them by the end of 2005, the program’s first year.

So far, it has not come close to that goal. Only 18,800 people have signed up for the state’s coverage and many of them already had insurance.

“I think when we first started, in terms of making estimates, we really were kind of groping in the dark,” said Gov. John E. Baldacci, who this month proposed a host of adjustments

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 12:11 PM

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