June 30, 2007

Near Miss

I have never seen Keith Oberman before. I have read about him, but didn't get the full KO Experience until I saw this YouTube clip on HotAir (Hat-tip: Insty I think)

He interviews a former CIA guy (Larry Johnson, who seems to be well known around the blogosphere as well -- I need to get out more). Johnson asserts that the London car bombs would have made a lot of noise but were unlikely to hurt anybody unless they were inside the car with the bomb. He and Oberman then go on a joint tirade about why we're in Iraq and why the London bomb gets more attention than bombs in Baghdad.

I'll cede that petrol and propane and nails seem less sophisticated than Iranian IEDs. But it plays into a media narrative that every foiled plot was "a bunch of jokers," "dropouts from al Qaeda," &c. The war isn't really real, terrorists aren't dangerous, we've been at war with Eurasia all along...

Imagine that 9/11 had been foiled. What a bunch of losers! Get this, they had box cutters. And they thought they would take over the plane and -- wait for it -- take over the cockpit and fly these planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon!

What a bunch of bozos -- clearly, we have nothing to fear from the likes of these losers.

But AlexC thinks:

Don't forget the spent the nights before going to tittie bars!

Posted by: AlexC at June 30, 2007 10:35 PM
But Harrison Bergeron thinks:

I am guessing that the reason a car bomb in London gets more publicity than a car bomb in Baghdad is because there isn't a war going on in London.

Posted by: Harrison Bergeron at July 1, 2007 5:40 PM
But jk thinks:

You are never going to get invited on Keith Oberman's show using goofy-ass logic like that. (Damn, I said "Ass.")

Posted by: jk at July 1, 2007 8:13 PM

Freedom is Popular

I know that Ron Paul isn't very popular around these parts, but this speech about freedom and liberty is stellar.

But jk thinks:

I think Rep Ron Paul is very popular around these parts. I've been critical of his isolationism and think JohnGalt has joined me. This was a good speech but I find a few things worrisome:

1) Did I say "isolationism?" He asserts that we can lead the way just by following our principles and that others will see our wealth and freedom and emulate us. Did that trick ever work, Bullwinkle? The Cold war? Cuba? the Taliban? It is naive to think that the world will follow our example and dangerous to think that we do not need a vigorous defense. Like Mayor Giuliani, I think defense today requires a lot more offense.

2) I love the founders and consider myself a late-blooming history buff. I do not agree that we need only "ask the founders" for the solutions to current problems. I think the founders gave us the greatest gifts but I think that we have to apply the documents they gave us to the 21st Century.

This may be a quibble and, yes, I wish our legislators looked more toward The Federalist Papers and less toward MoDo. But I cite it as an example of oversimplistic reason to assert that the founders had us covered.

3) Freedom is very popular, Rep Paul. Popular with 9% of the electorate as I understand. In 1988, Paul, with no less zeal for liberty, attracted 432,179 popular votes (0.47%).

Posted by: jk at June 30, 2007 12:31 PM
But AlexC thinks:

I'm with JK.

Ron Paul makes a great trouble making Congressman. Where "Dr. No" is a fine appelation.

It's just that he's not suited toward the Executive Branch.... and isolationism is the biggest nail. "In a post 9/11 world..." etc. etc. etc.

Posted by: AlexC at June 30, 2007 1:35 PM
But Harrison Bergeron thinks:

jk,

I must quarrel with point number 2.

To claim that "we have to apply the documents they gave us to the 21st Century" is akin to what Robert Higgs calls the Modernization Hypothesis. According to this hypothesis, the expansion of government has arisen from the belief that the scope government must change in response to the increasing complexities of modern society. Both the proposition that world has become more complex and the assumption that only government can solve this increasing complexity can be called into question. Arguments for modernization will only lead to bigger government.

The beauty of the Constitution is that it limits the power of the federal government, separates powers, and most importantly is able to be amended.

Unfortunately, the federal government has reached beyond the scope outlined in the Constitution and much of this can be explained by this push for modernization and "interpreting" the Constitution. Anti-trust, health care regulation, and the federal minimum wage are prime examples of attempts to deal with modernization through federal policy not described in the document.

If the documents truly need to be adopted to the 21st century, then steps should be taken to amend the Constitution, not re-interpret it.

Posted by: Harrison Bergeron at June 30, 2007 1:52 PM
But jk thinks:

I may have to cut and run, here. On another listening, I can hear your interpretation of his remarks (1:30 - 1:00 before the end) and agree that was what he was saying. I heard something that is not in there and would withdraw point two.

I'll eat a bit of crow on my hasty comment but still think I'm batting .667..

Posted by: jk at June 30, 2007 8:37 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I still haven't gotten around to watching the video, but I will after I get back next week from vacation.

Today, I will say this as a general argument: Ron Paul's "isolationism" is typically mischaracterized. Ron Paul is a disciple of Bastiat, as I am, in believing that free commerce and non-interventionist foreign policies are the way for nations to prosper and exist peacefully alongside each other.

Ron Paul is not saying that if you're attacked, don't fight back. Likewise, he has never said that non-interventionism is a guarantee you'll never be attacked. He has never denied that bad guys sometimes attack you even though you never did them any harm. But if we leave others alone and set an example, it just might set off light bulbs elsewhere. At the very least, it won't provoke others who would have otherwise not become jihadis were it not for guys in camouflage uniforms bearing American flags on their shoulders. To rescu

Our Founders had much wisdom, and the Constitution was meant to be mostly inflexible for our own good. It could be amended, but only with great difficulty. Jefferson had written 11 years earlier that, "Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes." But for the most part, it had no need to be. It set up a very limited federal government, just enough to get things done between the states, and it left everything else up to the states and the people. After all, people can do things more "flexibly" within their own states if they decide, without dragging others down with them. Right, Robert Byrd?

The principles the Founders stood for still apply today. How much less strife would we have if we heeded Washington's admonition to avoid "the spirit of party," and to stay out of permanent alliances? How much less "blowback" if we heeded Jefferson's similar advice about trade? "Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations – entangling alliances with none." Well, since "blowback" is by definition that which comes back to you, we wouldn't have had any. Yes, we'd still be fighting jihadists, but we wouldn't have had all those Marines die in Beirut because we sent them where they didn't belong. We wouldn't be helping the jihadists recruit the next generation by giving them excuses.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at July 3, 2007 1:27 PM

A Call for Pragmatism

The setting is the upcoming debate over the State Children's Health Insurance Program, or Schip, a brawl that could well determine the future direction of U.S. health care. Democrats see expanding Schip as the first step toward socialized medicine. If Republicans fail to meet that challenge with their own more compelling plan for market-based, consumer-driven reform, it may prove the beginning of the end of today's private model.
Kimberly Strassel, my new favorite WSJ Ed Page writer, details the Democrats' plan to incrementally enact Socialized medicine -- and GOP plans to stop it. It's an outstanding bit of inside baseball that has the potential to decide the World Series.

Rather than risk a 1993 full frontal, HillaryCare assault, they will provide health care "for the children." Then they will increase Medicare with a bailout of UAW workers and lowering the enrollment age to 55. Pretty soon, a huge majority of Americans will be getting health care from Uncle Sam, and the final takeover will be easy.

Schip is the first step. The program, with its $25 billion budget, was originally designed to provide insurance to only the poorest children. Democrats want to throw an additional $60 billion at it, expanding Schip's rolls by three million. They would expand eligibility so much that as many as half joining would drop private insurance to do so. Even adults could sign up.

Next: Even as Democrats work to expand Schip to cover older Americans, they'd expand Medicare to cover younger Americans. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell is said to have recently floated the idea of allowing the struggling Big Three auto makers to enroll workers in Medicare at the age of 55, or 10 years early. Consider this a pilot program for dropping Medicare's age limit overall and instantly subjecting tens of millions more Baby Boomers to the government's tender care.

Democrats will meanwhile argue the only way to pay for Schip and other expanded programs is to gut Medicare Advantage and similar free-market reforms. See how clever? Swallow up ever more Americans into federal programs, banish any last vestiges of popular market plans, and voilà! It is Hillarycare! Only nobody ever had to use the dreaded word!


They are going to fight at the margins: a little more socialism here, a little more there. A good friend tells me he's ready to let the GOP lose a few more elections to get "real conservatives" in power. Another 16 years from Goldwater to Reagan. At the same time, the ever restless libertarian wing is crying for more purity.

I know it is unpopular to be so impure but I am calling folks to get their head and heart and wallets into the game. We are going to lose in Iraq, and we're going to lose the most innovative health care system in the world. Or we can write a position paper on abolishing Medicare.


Politics Posted by John Kranz at 11:45 AM

June 29, 2007

Lookout, Kids

Oh Crap! ThreeSources is Rated 'R' Thanks to crap (3x) and murder (1x). I could just kill the guy that's bringing us down.

Online Dating

Hat-tip: the truly vile, NC-17 A Second Hand Conjecture

Posted by John Kranz at 7:16 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

We're now higher even than this, thanks to AC's use of the word "tittie."

Posted by: johngalt at July 1, 2007 9:47 AM
But jk thinks:

Don't anybody throw a stone even if he does say "Jehovah!"

Posted by: jk at July 1, 2007 12:11 PM

Dear HP

I haven't written an angry letter to a company in a long time. Today, I broke my record. My new HP computer -- otherwise quite satisfactory -- arrived without Operating System disks. Instead, they have a disk creator program that hectors you into making them yourself (Windows Vista on 2 DVDs or 11 CDs).

I rolled my eyes a little at this cost cutting, but warmed up to ALL CAPS as the program doesn't work. You put in a DVD, wait forever... and it says
hp_error.jpg


I emailed tech support, who suggested that I use DVD+R (even though it says DVD-Rs should work). I ordered a spool of those and got the same error today. Losing the immigration bill and toasting a couple more disks was too much. I snapped, and replied:

I ordered a spool of DVD+R media (I had been using DVD-R), but that still doesn't work. I have now wasted eight blank DVDs and many hours of my time. I am very frustrated: HP saved 50 cents not including an Operating System disk but I have wasted 6-8 bucks, bought media I did not need and spent hours of time -- and still have no OS disks to show for it.

How much is it to buy the GODDAM DISKS?

I can burn other DVDs and CDs, this happens only burning recovery disks.

I have bought several HPs and been happy -- but I am very angry. Maybe you could stop shipping the "Q" key on the keyboard; I'm sure your customers wouldn't mind fashioning one out of clay.

jk


Yes, AlexC, you may extol the Myriad Macintosh virtues in the comments if you so choose.

Posted by John Kranz at 5:53 PM | What do you think? [3]
But AlexC thinks:

heh.

put a disk in.
click ok.
get a cup of coffee.
reboot.
get work done.
drink enough apple kool-aid that you have to stand in line for 72 hours for a telephone.

Posted by: AlexC at June 29, 2007 7:04 PM
But jk thinks:

UPDATE I got a nice response: "sorry for your trouble and we'd be happy to send you disks free of charge..."

Posted by: jk at June 29, 2007 8:08 PM
But AlexC thinks:

they've been doing this for years... a "recovery disk"

if only there were a check box when you buy it.
[x] Yes, I know what I'm doing.

Posted by: AlexC at June 30, 2007 12:56 PM

iPhones

Today is the day they come up, I'll be ordering my online.

But Philly Mayor John Street is camped out for an iPhone.

"I think it's not a bad a thing for a person who needs that device [the iPhone} to sit and wait. I could have used influence to get one, but I don't work that way."

You have got to be f*cking kidding me.

The mayor suddenly discovered ethics.

Just before his remarks, 22-year-old Larry West of Mount Airy confronted the mayor.

"How can you sit here with 200 murders in the city already?" West asked.

Street announced that "I'm doing my job."

He then left for City Hall, and it was not clear when he would return to the line. He assigned his spot to a male aide, who declined to be identified.

"I'm just holding a spot for the mayor," he said.


Well known for his Blackberry addiction, his Honor will be disappointed to know that despite the massive cool factor, it will still be available to subpoena.

I seem to recall that the mayor had trouble remembering that he had a Blackberry during the "bugging" investigation... but I can't find any articles about that.

Speaking of thieves and iPhones.

Watch this video...


fox news
Uploaded by hotternews

Crazy guy steals the microphone... what's with people and FoxNews?

But TrekMedic251 thinks:

It not like Street has anything else to do, like reduce the murder rate, stop making Philly a national laughing stock,..clean out his desk for Michael Nutter to move in, etc,...

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at June 29, 2007 9:07 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I don't know John Street, but he was off to a good start with, "it's not a bad thing for a person who needs that device to sit and wait." Except that nobody "needs" an iPhone. (Ip-own?) I'm quite certain that "I could have used influence to get one, but I don't work that way" was inspired by the flak John Edwards received after sending an aide to strongarm a WalMart employee for a PS3 for his kid.

But when things got uncomfortable, he did "work that way." If using a government aide, paid by taxpayer dollars, isn't "using influence" then what is it?

"Pay no attention to my deeds, just watch my lips move."

Posted by: johngalt at July 1, 2007 10:33 AM

Oratory

The good news is the political speeches are shorter.

The bad news is that they are dumber.

The only compensation for the decline is that as the speeches get worse, they mostly get shorter. When all you have are bullet-points, your ammunition is pretty quickly spent. Modern presidential speeches are composed of dry, detailed lists of promised programs sandwiched between warmed-over boilerplate. It's the very combination that Tocqueville predicted: the boring particulars and the vapid generalizations; "the intermediate space is empty." The richness of earlier rhetoric, particularly in the Senate, is on display in the great triumvirate of Clay, Calhoun, and Webster. Volume I contains the speech each made in the Senate on the Compromise of 1850. Clay's speech alone is 67 pages long and must have taken at least six hours to deliver. This is not filibustering where a senator reads aloud names from the phone book. This is closely reasoned argumentation on the constitutional powers of the federal government with respect to slavery. Seeing the length of these speeches, I intended to skim them but couldn't. They were gripping precisely because they made demands on the listener.

Politics Posted by AlexC at 12:11 PM

Debate Expectations

I guess the Democrat Presidential candidates debated yesterday...

Above Average Jane makes an interesting observation.

Did I miss it or were the importance of strong families, encouraging small business ownership, lower interest student loans for college, more mentoring programs, and an emphasis on strengthening father / child bonds not mentioned? I did hear talk of quality affordable child care and good schools. These are good things.

In a Democrat primary debate? Is that the right forum to express these ideas?

Read the whole post.

But jk thinks:

You get the Mortman Award for that headline, brother ac!

Posted by: jk at June 29, 2007 1:30 PM
But AlexC thinks:

LOL... i wanted to say "a new novel by Charles Dickens" but I resisted.

Posted by: AlexC at June 29, 2007 2:53 PM

Epilogue

Or is it denouement? Post Mortem.

My brother in law called me last night for a quick gloat on the death of comprehensive immigration reform. While I had purported to give up last week, I cannot lie. This loss stung. I got a little grouchy and told him "that's okay, a lot more people will die but they are poor and brown, so who cares?"

Regaining my composure, I saluted President Bush for standing up to do what was morally and economically right against vocal opposition. It's the kind of Profile in Courage behavior we are always clamoring for at ThreeSources. The WSJ Ed Page joins me: (paid link)

As for the politics, the press will call this a defeat for President Bush, but he deserves credit for trying. This late in his term and with his low approval rating, he simply lacked the political capital to persuade Republicans spooked by talk radio and cable TV hosts. Mr. Bush was also trying to do his fellow Republicans a favor by forging a new relationship with Hispanic-Americans, even though he'll never be on another ballot. We look forward to seeing how GOP candidates win elections as Democrats grab a larger share of America's fastest growing voter bloc. Perhaps Lou Dobbs has some campaign tips.

As for Democrats, their cynicism has rarely been so obvious. Senate Majority Harry Reid pulled the bill earlier this month when GOP leaders wanted only another day or two for amendments. Then when he brought the bill back to the floor, he doomed it with faint support and by letting his party add amendments he knew would drive Republicans away. Now he and his fellow Democrats will tell Hispanic voters that they could have passed reform if not for those bigoted Republicans.

Mark it down: Chuck Schumer will use this against GOP Senators next year. And should they win more Senators and the White House, Democrats in 2009 will be in position to pass their own immigration reform that will be far less restrictive than this one. The conservatives who "won" this week will deserve much of the credit.


I'll lick my wounds and move on but this is a disappointment.

Immigration Posted by John Kranz at 11:03 AM | What do you think? [3]
But johngalt thinks:

Brother-in-law? Do you have a conservative relative, is he one of the 50% of democrats who opposed the bill, or is he just a sadistic SOB?

As for the WSJ ed page, what a bunch of crap, er cr*p.

President Bush gets "credit for trying" but the "fellow Republicans" who stood in the way of this bad legislation didn't bring it up, so why do they get the blame for protecting Americans from it? I don't know about the rest of y'all, but "dems might do worse IF they win more senators and IF they win the White House" isn't a very persuasive argument with me.

And it would have been more difficult for talk radio and cable TV hosts to "spook" Republicans if the bill had gone through a normal legislative process with plenty of debate and transparency. John McCain's continuing penchant for secrecy and back-room deals is precisely what Republicans do NOT want - in a landmark bill, in a senator, or in a presidential candidate.

Where's the WSJ's lament that our congress behaves more and more like the soviet politburo?

Posted by: johngalt at July 1, 2007 10:23 AM
But jk thinks:

Said Brother in law is extremely conservative. I can't quite go as far as SOB but there was a little sadism involved. Even Sugarchuck’s email was subjected “Salt in the wounds…”

Nobody in the planet has done a better job at attacking back room machinations from both parties than the WSJ Ed Page. There are some things you can accuse them of, suggesting they are silent against politburo tactics is unfair.

They WSJ and I and the President and Larry Kudlow and Bill Kristol and Fred Barnes and Jack Kemp and John McCain and Lindsey Graham and Trent Lott and Mitch McConnell thought that comprehensive immigration reform was a good idea and are disappointed that it is dead. You've heard all my arguments for it.

I find it surprising that you, whom I've heard eloquently rail against "the tyranny of the majority," now want a talk-radio plebiscite to determine policy in this country.

It was always about a committee/conference bill. The Senate needed to pass a bill, the House would draw and pass a different bill and the legislation would come out of conference: with lots of yummy enforcement for you and enough wholesome and nutritious legal labor for me and my beloved growing economy.

I think last year's bill was better and that last year's process was more open. But the talk radio populists and O'Reilly-Dobbs axis spiked it then. They tried a "streamlined" (I really should work for a campaign) a streamlined process to circumvent a noisy minority.

I salute the President for trying and salute the WSJ Ed Page for their intelligent commentary. Sorry I folded on you in the last week, guys.

Posted by: jk at July 1, 2007 12:32 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Preventing a new set of laws and programs is a far different accomplishment than imposing them. One generally protects individual rights, while the other is virtually guaranteed to assault them.

Posted by: johngalt at July 2, 2007 3:09 PM

June 28, 2007

The Nine Per-cent Solution

I frequently quote this paper from Pew Research. I'm a pragmatist. In the lingo of Ryan Sagar's "Elephant in the Room," Frank Meyers's fusionist marriage must be saved. It is the best chance of keeping the United States from adoption European-style Socialism.

When libertarians say they can't work with those conservatives or vice versa, I'll start quoting Pew. I did this in a thread recently and the quotees have questioned the poll results for bias in questions and method. I'm not a gospel believer in polls, but the datum I quote most frequently, about 9% being libertarians, seems to match what I see in my countrymen. And Sager would say I am living in a densely libertarian part of the country,

People were sorted into the four categories based on the combination of socially liberal (or conservative) and economically liberal (or conservative) answers they gave. To be included in one of the four groups, a person needed to provide at least two answers consistent with either the social or economic dimension and at least one consistent answer in the other dimension - while also giving no more than one inconsistent answer in each dimension.

In other words, liberals tended to give consistently liberal responses to the six questions we chose, while conservatives gave consistently conservative responses. Populists, by contrast, gave conservative responses to the social issue questions but liberal responses to the economics questions. Libertarians took the opposite approach, giving conservative responses to the economic questions and liberal responses in the social issue sphere.

Based on this process, almost six-in-ten Americans fall into one of the four ideological groups; 18% are liberals, 15% are conservatives, 16% are populists, and 9% are libertarians.


Perry Eidelbus said "All it takes is enough people to get a majority of states' electoral votes by getting a plurality (a majority in some jurisdictions) of the vote in each." I say with 9%, that's a tall order.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 5:28 PM | What do you think? [5]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

But, again, it all depends on the questions asked, so I'd have to see how they compare with similar quizzes I've taken. Also, what about the 40% that don't fit into any parties? That's a *lot* of people.

In the end, it comes down to who truly wants government out of their lives, and those who want government meddling in everyone's lives because that's how they make a living: politicians and bureaucrats, welfare recipients, union bosses, and those who want a high minimum wage.

Ask this question: "Is limited government merely the means, or the end goal?" A lot of Americans are too stupid to understand the difference. But as I say, storm's comin'. People then will learn.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at June 29, 2007 3:42 PM
But jk thinks:

If you follow the link they give the exact questions and the scoring method. The 42% gave answers that were not consistent enough to categorize them as "ideologues."

I'd've scored Libertarian. Depending on the barometric pressure, I may have voted either way on "Worry government too involved in promoting morality." But by their scoring, I'd be in the illustrious nine with either.

I challenge you to say that your view of the electorate differs widely from these results. Do you really look on the great expanse of the unwashed, American electorate and see a plurality for laissez faire?

Posted by: jk at June 29, 2007 4:30 PM
But jk thinks:

Storm's indeed comin’. I fear we're going to elect Democrats in 2008 with a mandate to nationalize 17% of GDP. Grab an umbrella and galoshes...

Posted by: jk at June 29, 2007 4:35 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Actually, we're already being taxed at 17% of GDP, which is about average for the last few decades. Krugman wants a full third.

The paper talks about the difficulty of finding ideologues, but the authors don't even know their own search. Ideology IS a yea or nay response to "Do you want government to guarantee health insurance for everyone?" A true question is, "Are you willing to pay higher taxes so government can guarantee health insurance for everyone?" Or more accurately, "Are you willing to pay higher taxes, wait months for operations, and possibly be denied lifesaving treatment so that government can guarantee health care to all?"

Should homosexuality be "accepted"? I don't know what they mean by "accepted." Legalized? Tolerated? Embraced? Does it mean businesses should be *forced* to hire homosexuals against their will? I'm a moral conservative, personally, so I think homosexuality is wrong, but I leave other people to their own conscience. I couldn't give a proper answer to the question without more clarification.

Also, stem cell research. A true libertarian recognizes that it's a red herring, that the true issue is whether government should fund it. A true libertarian therefore opposes stem cell research funded by government, based on the principle of government non-intervention into the economy, but would not oppose stem cell research itself. A conservative would oppose the research on moral grounds but wouldn't inherently oppose funding for any sort of research. A liberal is just liberal with other people's money, so why not. As the authors define the term, populists are basically just liberals who are conservative only for their own lives and generous with other people's money.

I could go on. But one last thing: 63% of the "libertarians" opposed making Bush's tax cuts permanent? Does that sound right to you?

I don't see a plurality of the entire population, but there are enough people out there who aren't voting, who can be awakened, and who can offset the rest. Only a third of the population, according to memory, has been voting in presidential elections. That's a lot of people who stay home out of laziness or because they don't think they can make a difference. I'm generally optimistic but am pessimistic on people voting in a government that will restore freedom. But I think there's got to be a chance, because of the awful alternative.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at July 2, 2007 5:22 PM
But jk thinks:

By 17% I meant taking the entire health care sector from private to public, a 'la HillaryCare.

You’re complaining about the general view questions. I think the questions actually used for classification are clear and seem indicative of the groups' beliefs: "Favor government guaranteeing health insurance for all" Yes/No. Somebody who votes "Yes" to that is N-O-T a libertarian. Favor legalizing gay/lesbian marriage. Oppose banning books with "dangerous ideas" from school libraries. Favor private retirement accounts for Social Security. These seem clear.

If I question the results, it might overstate libertarians. I get a perfect score. No real libertarians I know would let me in their club unless I brought beer.

I had not noticed that only 37% favor making the Bush tax cuts permanent. That seems an anomality but I have little doubt that the other 63% don't recognize the legality of the 16th Amendment or cannot support the Bush tax plans because all taxes should be abolished. Which brings me to my pragmatic argument. While they're passing out pamphlets for repealing the 16th Amendment (with their 9% majority) the liberal-populist axis will easily rescind those "tax cuts for the rich."

Posted by: jk at July 2, 2007 6:28 PM

Once they heard jk folded...

Senate blocks immigration bill

WASHINGTON - The Senate drove a stake Thursday through President Bush's plan to legalize millions of unlawful immigrants, likely postponing major action on immigration until after the 2008 elections.

After the stinging political setback, Bush sounded resigned to defeat.

Now, I suppose we will agree on everything around here.

Immigration Posted by John Kranz at 3:30 PM

Quote of the Day

Speaking about the Senate immigration “process”

You can’t tell the will of the American people simply by those who call or object.

US Senator Arlen Specter, proudly serving my home state of Pennsylvania, on the day the Senate phone system is overloaded with phone calls.

But jk thinks:

And your illustrious Senior Senator was the only Republican to vote for legalized union extortion.

Had I not given up the other day, I might point out that a majority of Americans, poised to profit from comprehensive immigration reform, are unlikely to call their Senator while a vocal minority is pulling out all the stops. I saw Tamar Jacoby speaking on the topic this morning and I think she is exactly right.

Posted by: jk at June 28, 2007 12:05 PM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Arlen Specter,..he'll do for Aricept what Bob Dole did for Viagra!

BTW - Someone call his office and ask him if he still believes the single bullet theory?

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at June 28, 2007 9:12 PM
But jk thinks:

Heh. Had to look up "Aricept." He's a great choice.

Posted by: jk at June 29, 2007 10:56 AM

Growing Glaciers

In case you were wondering, the glacier on Mount St Helens is enbiggening.

... and that with lava beneath it.

I blame global warming and man's pernicious influences.

But jk thinks:

Anthropogenic Global Lava Cooling is Real!

Posted by: jk at June 28, 2007 12:07 PM

iPod: Savior of Capitalism

Everyday Economist links to a NYTimes story about a study that tries to answer the question "Who makes the Apple iPod?" EE provides the great headline: "I Pencil: iPod Edition." I just recently learned that I, Pencil comes originally from Leonard Read, not Milton Friedman.

Three researchers at UC Irvine have traced its 451 components all over the world, with the most expensive components being the hard drive, display and a few chips. The study tries to allocate value geographically.

So $73 of the cost of the iPod would be attributed to Japan since Toshiba is a Japanese company, and the $13 cost of the two chips would be attributed to the United States, since the suppliers, Broadcom and PortalPlayer, are American companies, and so on.

But this method hides some of the most important details. Toshiba may be a Japanese company, but it makes most of its hard drives in the Philippines and China. So perhaps we should also allocate part of the cost of that hard drive to one of those countries. The same problem arises regarding the Broadcom chips, with most of them manufactured in Taiwan. So how can one distribute the costs of the iPod components across the countries where they are manufactured in a meaningful way?


I use the iPod more and more in my defense of free market capitalism. It is the one thing you'd never get from any other system. I have a 40GB RCA MP3 player that was one of the competitors squashed by the iPod. It works okay; it's the size of four iPods glued together and is 84.36% less cool, but I loved it. When I bought it, iPod was a Mac only thing and my RCA brick was $100 cheaper.

I tell my nieces and nephews that there would have been no reason to improve the RCA or even make one in the first place. It's a luxury item - who would make it unless they thought they could make a bob or two?

I will now add this column to my arsenal. Without globalization, kids, no iPod. Think about it.

Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 11:25 AM

Two Views of Iraq

A good friend of this blog sends a link to a Tony Blankley column in Real Clear Politics. Blankley's a smart guy and uses the same hair stylist as Senator John Kerry. But I don't agree with his downbeat assessment. He, like Congressional Democrats, is not waiting for September for General Petraeus's assessment. Blankley has an advance copy:

From all this and more, let me save you the bother of waiting for the September deluge of reports from the four corners of our government. Come September it will be the received wisdom of Washington that: (1) the Maliki government is hopelessly incapable of ever effecting the necessary political compromises to make Iraq a functioning government, (2) we cannot maintain our current troop strength in Iraq with the current size of our military, and (3) the Iraqi military will not soon be ready to replace our forces in combat or even heavy police duties.

That is the "metaphysical certitude" conventional wisdom, and one cannot pretend that that is not a likely outcome. But I have been heartened of late by reading Austin Bay, Michael Totten, and Michael Yon. Those guys serve it up pretty straight, and all three are cautiously optimistic about new operations and rules of engagement. Petraeus may surprise to the upside. I am joined in this belief by Victor Davis Hanson:
But for all the justifiable criticism of the Iraqi reconstruction, two truths still remain — the United States is taking an enormous toll on jihadists, and despite the terrible cost in blood and treasure, has not given up on a constitutional government in Iraq.

The Sunni front-line states, who subsidized jihadists and still enjoy our misery in Iraq , , but they are now terrified that these killers, in league with the Iranians, will turn on them. The net result is not just that some Sunnis are helping us in Iraq, but that they are being urged to for the first time by those in the Arab world, who would prefer to see the Iraqi government, rather than the terrorists, succeed. And if Iraq is still a terrible disappointment, Kurdistan is emerging as a success few envisioned, refuting some conventional wisdom about the incompatibility of capitalism and constitutional government with Middle Eastern Islam.

Theocratic Iran is not exactly as “empowered” as is generally alleged, but in the greatest crisis of its miserable existence. As the mullahs up the ante in the region, they could very soon not only lose Iraq, but also their own dictatorship.


Blankley is ready to install what my emailer calls a new Saddam, and return to more decades of realpolitik and realism. VDH notes that the United States "has not given up on a constitutional government in Iraq." I'm not ready to either. Senator Lugar and Tony can throw in the towel. I will be the last Sharanskyite.


UPDATE: And do not miss J. D. Johannes's views on NRO.

Freedom on the March Posted by John Kranz at 10:59 AM

Meet John Cox

Chicago millionaire John Cox is running for president as a Republican. He has largely been ignored by the mainstream media -- until now. Matt Labash writes:


When you have a name like John Cox--a plain vanilla name, an achromatic name, a name that people with more distinctive names would choose if they'd committed a heinous crime and needed to start afresh on the lam--it's easy to feel like everyman and no man. Switchboard.com, the online directory, says that there are 1,979 John Coxes throughout the land. But there is only one John H. Cox. Actually, there are 66 of them. But there's only one who is running to be president of the United States of America.

That John Cox, the Chicago millionaire who was the first declared Republican candidate (as of March 2006), called our offices a few weeks ago. He sounded vexed. He sounded desperate. He sounded like a man who was tired of screaming into the void. He needed something that any self-assured, self-contained, well-adjusted person who enters the political arena needs: He needed the validation of people he'd never met.

A good Reaganite conservative, Cox has tried to be self-sufficient, financing his campaign thus far to the tune of $800,000. After 20 trips, he's been to all 99 counties in Iowa. He's been to New Hampshire 14 times, and South Carolina, 10. He's won a Republican straw poll outright in Aiken County, South Carolina, and finished fifth in total votes among all Republican contenders when three other counties were totaled. And yet, he's lucky if he ever gets mentioned in mainstream media candidate roundups. Meanwhile, doing interviews with the Small Government Times just isn't putting him over the top.

2008 Race Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 10:22 AM | What do you think? [4]
But jk thinks:

I had read that in the Weekly Standard (not sure that counts as MSM).

Methinks Mr. Cox underestimates the importance of party apparatus. The article says "In the red flag department, he has run unsuccessfully for office in Illinois three times: in a congressional, senatorial, and Cook County recorder of deeds race." AT least Bloomberg is Mayor of New York.

He may be a good guy and principled player. The Presidency is not an entry level office.

Posted by: jk at June 28, 2007 2:06 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I'd rather take a political newbie who's principled and courageous in the Constitution than a seasoned player who considers the Constitution "a goddamned piece of paper." (Look up who said that.)

For instance, I guarantee that I and one of my friends could make far better SCOTUS justices, rendering decisions based on the real Constitution, than Breyer, Stevens, Souter, Ginsburg and the sometimes Anthony Kennedy (who ruled the right way today).

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at June 28, 2007 5:28 PM
But Michael thinks:

Sorry, this guy is a joke. He's a millionaire who likes to be seen and heard, but doesn't have the caliber or the common sense to be president. The article you quote exposes how he was thrown out of the "spin room" of the Reagan Library debate because he was impersonating a reporter to get in.

I've heard him speak and he's a good cure for insomnia. His ideas are just plain nutty.

Crank. Crank. Crank.

Posted by: Michael at June 29, 2007 1:57 PM
But James thinks:

Word is that Cox has raised only $13,000 or so during the last 17 months of his endless campaign. This is not a serious candidate.

Posted by: James at July 6, 2007 8:29 PM

Fighting Back

A stunningly lame attack by the Democrats and the AP on Fred!'s lobbying jobs has resulted in some return fire from Fred!

... and then he punched a dirty hippie for good measure.

I love it. It's totally red-meat, but it's nice to hear that kind of talk from a politician not a talking head.

Well, I sort of take that back.

There's this too.

Congressional Republicans changing "Shame Shame Shame" in response to a Democrat switcheroo.

2008 Race Congress Posted by AlexC at 1:04 AM

June 27, 2007

Nino and Jack

Here's one for my brothers. John Fund writes in OpinionJournal's Political Diary, "Two (Broken) Thumbs Up!"

I wound up chatting at a reception a couple years ago with Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia about his love of opera and his taste in popular culture. It turned out he was a huge fan of Fox's anti-terrorist drama "24," and he convinced me to watch it for the first time.

Well, little did I know just how much of a fan Justice Scalia is of the fast-paced show. The Globe and Mail newspaper in Canada reports he positively gushed about the Fox series recently at a conference on homeland security in the Canadian capital of Ottawa that was attended by an international panel of judges. Mr. Scalia couldn't refrain from commenting after Canadian federal Judge Richard Mosley opined: "Thankfully, security agencies in all our countries do not subscribe to the mantra, 'What would Jack Bauer do?'"

As viewers know, Jack Bauer, played by Kiefer Sutherland, is a federal agent known for roughing up suspected terrorists who are holding out on important information.

"Jack Bauer saved Los Angeles!" Mr. Scalia interjected. "He saved hundreds of thousands of lives!"

Indeed, Mr. Scalia was just warming up. "Are you going to convict Jack Bauer? Say that criminal law is against him?" he asked rhetorically. "Is any jury going to convict Jack Bauer? I don't think so!"

Other panelists promptly challenged the American jurist, arguing that some prisoners held in Guantanamo Bay on terrorism charges could be innocent.

"I don't care about holding people. I really don't," Judge Scalia replied. After the panel broke up, he continued to wax enthusiastically about his favorite show.

If I were the producers of "24" I would immediately invite Mr. Scalia to make a guest appearance on the series. Judicial decorum would probably prevent him from doing so, but who wouldn't want to see the highly expressive Mr. Scalia in the role of a judge presiding over the trial of an accused terrorist?


UPDATE: WSJOJPD is online this week, so James Taranto can move his palatial estate. Here's this one.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:37 PM | What do you think? [2]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

"I don't care about holding people. I really don't." That's the problem with Scalia and other conservatives who are willing to let government to make mistakes on innocent people than to let possibly guilty people go free.

Jack Bauer, as heroic as he is, as much as I love him beating up guys we *know* are bad, is fiction. We don't have the comfort of omniscience when a CIA agent in the real world goes to work on a possible terrorist. "Possible" is the operative word. There are reports, inconclusive but we can't deny the possibility, of Iraqis turning over family feud enemies to Americans -- claim your neighbor, the one you hated for years, is a terrorist, and he could be sent off to Gitmo.

That's why I believe all Gitmo detainees should have a chance at a hearing, not just held (which they do right now, but seems to me that most don't avail themself of that so they can perpetuate the lie of being detained). They should have their hearings in front of a military tribunal, not a civilian court. Then they should be shot right away if we determine they're guilty.

And how many, then, will now volunteer for the hearings? Are those crickets I hear?

Oh, and I never wanted to take battlefield prisoners from the beginning. If they're caught in combat, shoot 'em where they stand. At least then you know they're guilty.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at June 28, 2007 4:16 PM
But jk thinks:

There's a little history here. I'm the only ThreeSourcer who isn't wild about '24.' I tried it for the first time this year and am pretty tepid toward it. That aroused more disapprobation than my position on immigration.

I hope Justice Scalia's enthusiasm is getting away from him a bit. As you point out, I've always thought it odd that we have the right to shoot them on sight, but quibble over their legal rights. I think they are well cared for at Gitmo and hope that the information gleaned is worth the costs of running the place.

Posted by: jk at June 28, 2007 5:15 PM

Guitar Center Goes Private

WSJ: (Pay to play, babies, Rupert doesn't want it for nothing)

Guitar Center is the latest retailer to go private, agreeing to a $1.9 billion buyout by Bain Capital Partners LLC.

Stockholders would get $63 a share, a 26% premium to Tuesday's closing price. Including debt, the deal -- set to close in the fourth quarter -- is valued at $2.1 billion.

The Westlake Village, Calif., firm has 210 Guitar Center stores in which it sells music instruments as well as music-related computer hardware and software. The company also has than 95 stores specializing in school band instruments for sale and rental.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. oversaw an auction that wasn't publicly known. Last month, a Goldman stock analyst said in a report that "Guitar Center is optimally positioned for a sale, given its dominant competitive position," but that he viewed a buyout as "a fallback strategy."


I've been an occasional Guitar Center customer. I buy my guitars at Wildwood Guitars, a world class boutique lovingly nestled in nearby Louisville, Colorado. But I have shopped at Guitar Center to get recording gear, drum equipment for my nephews, and accessories. My previous position took me to Austin a few times a year. I met people on the plane who were going to Austin just to go to the Austin Guitar Center store.

I'm probably not schooled enough to offer an opinion, but the LBO and private buyout craze seems a consequence of SarbOx, and somewhat worrisome. I like what the reduction in supply has done but worry that it is a sign of less flexible and competitive US capital markets. That cannot be good in the long term.

Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 12:17 PM

Keeping the Thread Alive

Perry Eidlebus of Eidelblog has provided some thoughtful and well articulated comments interleaved through three posts. Two new ones appeared yesterday, and the post will fall off the page today and my evil SQL script will soon disable comments.

Now, all these thoughtful and reasoned comments are in opposition to me. But they deserve better placement. Here are yesterday's two comments, concatenated into a single post:



"I'll counter that your don't-give-an-inch does not serve the cause of liberty."

It does not work today not because it isn't the right thing to do, but because so many people prefer "the tranquility of servitude" and the peace of compromise, being too afraid of the "extreme" of full-blown God-given rights.

We fought for independence because we refused to give in, because real liberty is not won with compromise or "accepting" that certain things cannot be. As a matter of "practical politics" (a phrase I often use), sure, elections aren't won by extreme candidates. But which do you want to win, centrist candidates, or the cause of real liberty?

"Braveheart" had a couple of great lines on how far one is willing to go. The Elder Bruce maintained, "But it is exactly the ability to compromise that makes a man noble." It is easy for people to compromise when their livelihoods are based on power, whether they wield it (politicians) or derive benefits from it (welfare state recipients). When the Princess of Wales offered Wallace the king's bribe, he retorted, "Slaves are made in such ways!"

"But I will stand up for the ownership society and Part D. You refuse to admit that it is built on market principles and that is unfair."

I refuse to admit it because it's patently false. The very fact that government is intervening (i.e. taking money from some people to give to others) means it is NOT free-market. Something can be based on "market principles," but that is NOT the same as a free market where people make purely voluntarily transactions. This is not John Kerry nuance. It's plain fact.

You can keep arguing "ownership society" until you're blue in the face, but it's an absurd phrase while Social Security and Medicare taxes are coerced out of my salary.

"The rest of Medicare is single payer; part D has private insurers competing for subscribers."

Via an infrastructure that government created, thus skewing market forces. Again, not free market.

"As such, it is the one government program that has surprised to the downside both in cost to the government and average premiums to its subscribers."

Which is only so far. People think they can keep credit card under control, too, but how much will they restrain themselves when they're borrowing money in other people's names? Not much.

I will point out for the umpteenth time that even the most conservative estimates show the program has high long-term costs to make Social Security look cheap. Have you ever looked at the full projections? I have.

"A future administration might build on those figures to spread market mechanisms into the rest of Medicare."

Again, it's only the skewing of free market forces. You need to understand the difference between "market forces" that have the appearance of the free market and what is truly the free market.

"The idea of the ownership society is that these mechanisms function like seed crystals. Over time, they become a larger percentage of the structure and crowd out the collectivist portion. It is a bold attempt and it may not work, but it is disingenuous not to recognize the attempt."

That I "recognize" the attempt is a ridiculous demand when the process is just another instance of government intervention. Not recognizing the programs for their proto-socialism IS what is disingenuous.

A real ownership society is one where government butts out and allows people to function on their own. History proves, time and time again, that all the planting of seeds will do is create a larger and larger bureaucracy. Look back to FDR's New Deal, and its constantly failed attempts that kept the U.S. mired in depression. Should we have "recognized the attempt" that he was "pragmatic" in his belief that government needed to "prime the pump"?

"You applauded the try for private Social Security accounts -- that's the exact same thing. Had legislation progressed, there was much talk of increasing benefits to sell it to the Democrats. Were you being a Socialist? Perry was trying to take my money against my will and give it to seniors! What a Communist that Perry is!"

Private accounts are very different from Plan D, because you're using your own money. It's not really free market because the state forces you to save, but you're not being given someone else's money to save. The rest of Social Security is complete socialism, however, just like Plan D. It's a very simple test: is government taking money from someone to give to you?

I support real privatization, namely the abolishment of the whole thing, but I will support private accounts as a first step. It's not enough, but it's legally important: it could force the SCOTUS to recognize people's legitimate claim on what they paid in. You may recall that it ruled otherwise in 1943.

"McClellan did not last long enough, but there was improvement in his tenure. Fast track approvals for terminal conditions and the Pharma funded faster approval process both happened under his watch. (Sadly, I think he was pulled off to do Part D -- that was a dark day for me)."

Which comes down to begging government for permission to do what is our natural right in the first place.

"I got a kick out of your prison sodomy line, but I think you are missing the saddest fact there is. Welfare for seniors is wildly popular beyond those who accept benefits. People like the idea of a safety net for themselves, their parents, and think that it is a component of "a just society." "

Oh, don't think I realize that. Limousine liberals aren't the only ones who feel "good" about coercing others into charity. Liberalism is all about generosity, after all: generosity with other people's money.

"Nine percent libertarians according to Pew. The other 91% are, sadly, very cool with collectivist, nationalized health care and pensions for the elderly. If you will not admit that, you will not be successful in a Madisonian democracy."

It does depend on the question's phrasing. If you ask someone, "Do you believe that people are entitled to the fruits of their labor," they may not realize it's completely at odds with, "Do you believe government should provide a safety net?"

Ask people if they're willing to support Part D to help seniors, then ask them if they're willing to pay massive tax hikes to fund it. Or ask them if they're willing to tax "the top 1% of taxpayers," notwithstanding it's that 1% that provide the business management, savings and investment to create jobs for the rest of us.

I forgot to comment further on Roberts and Alito. I'm not saying Bush nominated a pair of Souters. They're actually not bad, but they've disappointed me with past and present rulings. A while back, Professor Bainbridge had a great entry on why "originalist," "textualist" and "strict constructionist," which are often used interchangeably, are really different. So I really wasn't concerned if they were like Scalia and Thomas, who themselves have disappointed me. I don't care if someone's conservative, libertarian or liberal: my single test is how faithfully he will defend the Constitution.

Originally I said on my blog that Alito would be a good choice, and he could well be in the end, but I have a feeling his dispositions might be a problem for our freedom at some point in the future. For example, his dissent in Doe v. Groody was inexcusable. Granted it was when he was a federal appeals court justice, but it shows he's too willing to give police the benefit of the doubt. As my friend Billy Beck charged, the police are a part of government that has no right of presumptive innocence when charged with wrongdoing, by the very fact that they are pre-authorized to use force on behalf of the people.

Now, getting specific with Roberts, his ruling in Hedgepeth v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority was completely inexcusable. That sets the tone for what will happen in the future, I'm afraid. Also, is he consistent? It bothered me during his testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee that he said he'd be obliged to respect SCOTUS precedent. That doesn't jive at all when he said the Court was correct to rule as it did in Brown v. Board. As you may recall, it was a reversal of Plessy v. Ferguson. So which one does Roberts really believe? Did he say what he did before the committee just to placate abortion litmus test liberals, or will he rule as a matter of convenience for the politics of the president who nominated him?

Pretty good nominees overall, but it's that fraction that may come back to bite us.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 10:37 AM | What do you think? [10]
But Terri thinks:

(sorry Perry - I would have left a comment directly there, but can't remember my google password)

Posted by: Terri at June 27, 2007 4:49 PM
But jk thinks:

I'm with Perry on the bottled water, but with Terri on Eidelblog's restrictive, google-centric comments policy.

Posted by: jk at June 27, 2007 5:04 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

"On Part D, I think we've both made our points. I'll stop before it denigrates into "Are not!" "Are too!""

Well, it's a very simple difference. You're talking "market principles." I'm talking genuine free market. When I talk about the free market, you can trust that I'm as hardcore as you can get. I'm not fully Austrian, but you could call me the stepchild of a third-generation Austrian economist.

"I'll take real Liberty. The quandary is whether to let a Senator Clinton or Obama win the White House because the GOP candidate is not "pure" enough to support. I know many people who will do this and, I know you're undeclared right now, but I suspect that you will be one."

No candidate other than Ron Paul wants real liberty, and we won't get such a candidate past the primaries until enough people stand up and *demand* it.

There's a GOP candidate I'll probably endorse soon. I'd say he's 95% of what I want, and someone who can win. He's a conservative and has had a couple of positions in the past that I can overlook, so I disagree with his likely desire to continue the War on Drugs. So you can tell right there, my choice isn't Ron Paul.

Yesterday, I suggested to a friend that Paul is wasted in Congress. He should instead be on the Supreme Court.

"You compare Part D, passed by both Houses of Congress and signed into law, to private SS accounts which exist only in your mind. To get something so radical as people keeping their money would have necessitated huge increases in benefits and plenty of coerced redistribution."

Even private accounts won't solve the pyramid scheme's problem of redistribution (don't forget that I want to abolish the whole thing or at least let people opt out), but it's better than Part D, which is purely redistribution.

The proposed private accounts aren't the same thing as true privatization, but at least you'll be able to do something with the money than let Congress spend it and give an IOU to the SSA. Do you see the benefit of the system going bankrupt sooner than 2017? People would finally realize it's a pyramid scheme, and enough might just demand they truly hold on to the money.

"You can ignore them and let the forces of darkness and anti-modernity elect President (Hillary) Clinton or Obama."

We *can* live in a what's accused of being "idealism" if we are brave enough to fight for it. There are more than you think who want limited government, but they fall into the trap of "Well, the two parties are in control." All it takes is enough people to get a majority of states' electoral votes by getting a plurality (a majority in some jurisdictions) of the vote in each. Also, look at how low Congress' approval rating has become. People hate both parties and want change. Unfortunately, McCain-Feingold may have solidified the two-party system too much.

How many people would say "yes" to "Are you a libertarian?" How many people would say "yes" to "Do you want the government to get out of your life and leave your paycheck alone?" How many would say "yes" to "Do you want the government to keep giving you social programs at others' expense?"

Thomas was great in the Raich case, but he has disappointed me a time or two. I actually wanted to see him as Chief Justice.

"Right now, I'm happy that we got two more who think that the Constitution outranks the New York Times Editorial Page."

Outranks, but they don't consider it Supreme as they ought to. That's the key: it's the Supreme Law of the land.

"Nor am I bothered by Judiciary Committee testimony. Of course one respects precedent. Judge Bork respects precedent. Overturning incorrect decisions by previous courts should be done respectfully."

I neither respect precedent nor automatically deride it. A previous ruling can be useful purely as a guide but should never be assumed to be correct, nor should the decision of a previous case have any weight on the procedures or eventual decision of the present case. When we turn to precedent, then cases boil down to attorneys for both sides poring over previous cases, arguing before a magistrate that, "Well, so-and-so ruled in he-v-she that..." What about arguing a case based on the merits of the case itself? And why assume that because some schmuck judge ruled this way 10 or 20 years ago, that we must rule the same way today?

And if a previous turns out to be incorrect, I'll have no mercy for the idiotic ruling of the predecessors.

Oh, and JG, I told jk that I appreciate the offer, but these days I just don't have the time to blog regularly for myself. I was supposed to blog at the Liberty Papers but never even bothered to log in. My plan was to make my first post *the* definitive introduction to Bastiat. All modesty aside, outside of GMU's professor-bloggers, I'm probably the one person in the blogosphere who's qualified to write that.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at June 28, 2007 4:58 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Terri, I'm a nice guy and all, but you'll learn if I keep commenting regularly that I'm pretty ruthless on pinning people down. If you're going to talk to me, defend your position. Otherwise, mind yourself, for I won't let you get away with "I disagree." It's better for you, anyway, because it'll force you to think through your position and, if necessary, refine or change it.

That being said (I tend to write that a lot at work when explaining our policies to someone), if company-provided bottled water is not a form of compensation for employees, then what is it? Altruism?

We get free water, soda and fruit juice at my office, as one way to make the office environment more pleasant and attract workers, just like a good health care package can attract workers albeit to a greater extent. We pay for the drinks eventually by receiving less of a salary than we'd otherwise be paid. However, the benefit of company-paid beverages is that income taxes aren't paid on the money used to buy them, only sales tax if applicable. The company can write it off as a business expense and not have to pay taxes, and you won't have to pay taxes on the money spent, unlike if you bought it yourself even at the company's same bulk rate. Tax laws aren't quite as simple for employer-provided health insurance, but it's the same principle.

By the way, did I ever mention Gavin Newsom is a goddamn idiot?

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at June 28, 2007 5:17 PM
But jk thinks:

My humor will get me in trouble someday -- no one will ever replace you around here, jg. It was funny that you said that right after I had offered Perry an author's login. And he did demur.

In Part D, People can choose different providers based on cost or opt to not participate. That strikes me as fundamentally different from other government programs. I've yet to find a competitor to the IRS or FDA.

If I was down when I saw the 9^ number, I went lower when I read Brian Dougherty's "Radicals for Capitalism." Even though it ended on some upbeat comparisons, those who want liberty couldn't form a plurality if they numbered 90% -- they'd split into 15 factions. They're intrinsically unempowered to govern.

I will post the Pew Research paper.

Posted by: jk at June 28, 2007 5:26 PM
But Terri thinks:

Perry,
I'm sure you're right and you are a nice guy. And I actually admire people who are idealist enough to stand on principles no matter what.
And you're right also, I don't generally spend a whole lot of time explaining myself, so I won't bother a lot as you work to "pin me down". The closer a person get's to getting pinned down the deeper and deeper you have to go to find evidence, write and re-write articulately etc, etc. Yes, I'm lazy and yes, I'd rather spend free time outdoors vs in front of the computer.

This is especially true when the argument is clearly not going to be won because we have different bases from which we are thinking.

That said we move back to bottled water.
You've misunderstood. I said "oddly" because your blog mentioned the "city" employees getting or rather not getting bottled water.

If your office wants to buy drinks on the house, good for them. It probabaly does make for a better working environment.

If I have to pay taxes to 1)first clean the water so that's it's good enough to drink and then 2) buy bottled water for the city employees to drink that seems like it would be against your principles.

Me - I'm not so fussy.

Posted by: Terri at June 29, 2007 11:38 AM

June 26, 2007

Socialized Health Care

Fred! looks at Canadian and British national health systems.

and pronounces them a mess.

Think about it. This is what we're supposed to copy? The poorest Americans are getting far better service than that. And there's nothing about Americans that would make us any better able to run a government health care bureaucracy than the Canadians or the British. In fact, we've got less practice at that sort of thing than they do -- and we might be a lot worse at it.

A downside of an early candidacy annoucement is that we'll replace these great radio chunks for stump speeches, which are by definition rather boring and repetitive.

Unless he keeps them frank and fresh.

2008 Race Posted by AlexC at 7:01 PM

Way Too Cool

Create your own Simpson's characters,

jk_simpsons.jpg


Hat-tip: Galley Slaves

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 6:11 PM

Only Nine Errors?

It's been a tough few years for Republicans, but the news is not all bad.

WASHINGTON -- Democrats may be winning elections. But they still can't win a baseball game.

Despite an influx of fresh talent from Pennsylvania -- and the coaching skills of Rep. Mike Doyle of Forest Hills -- the new majority party on Capitol Hill last night extended its losing streak in the annual congressional baseball tournament to seven games.

The GOP soundly defeated the Democrats 5-2, at RFK Stadium, home of the Washington Nationals.

Nine Democratic errors didn't help.

"That was a marked improvement over last year," said Mr. Doyle, referring to the 12-1 thrashing of 2006, his first year as coach. He wore a Pittsburgh Pirates uniform bearing No. 14, his Pennsylvania congressional district.

The Republicans have now won 32 of the last 46 games, according to Roll Call, a Capitol Hill publication.


Hat-tip: Karol at Alarming News, who says "There's no crying in baseball -- maybe that's why the Democrats can't play the game."

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 5:50 PM

I Think I Heard This One

Consummate Washington insider Sally Quinn has a juicy Washington rumor, and she'll share it with you: A Plan to Oust Cheney

Removing a sitting vice president is not easy, but this may be the moment. I remember Barry Goldwater sitting in my parents' living room in 1973, in the last days of Watergate, debating whether to lead a group of senior Republicans to the White House to tell President Nixon he had to go. His hesitation was that he felt loyalty to the president and the party. But in the end he felt a greater loyalty to his country, and he went to the White House.

See, you replace the Vice President, who is a galvanizing force, with a popular, younger candidate, who would then be able to run in 2008 as a sitting VP with all privileges thereunto appertaining. What a startling idea, it's a wonder that 6,000 people have not thought of it before -- oh, wait, they have. For years, it was going to be Secretary Rice. Now? How about Senator Fred Thompson?
Giuliani is too New York, too liberal. His reputation as a leader, forged on 9/11 and the days after, carries him only so far. McCain, who has always had a rocky relationship with the president, lost much of his support from moderate Democrats and independents (and from a fair amount of Republicans) when the Straight Talk Express started veering off course. And no matter what anyone says about how Romney's religion doesn't matter, being a Mormon is simply not acceptable to Bush's base. Several right-wing evangelicals have told me they don't see Mormons as "true Christians."

That leaves Fred Thompson. Everybody loves Fred. He has the healing qualities of Gerald Ford and the movie-star appeal of Ronald Reagan. He is relatively moderate on social issues. He has a reputation as a peacemaker and a compromiser. And he has a good sense of humor.


Fred will prevent Armageddon.
He could be just the partner to bring out Bush's better nature -- or at least be a sensible voice of reason. I could easily imagine him telling the president, "For God's sake, do not push that button!" -- a command I have a hard time hearing Cheney give.

I suppose this could be the broken clock story that is right sometime. But if it never happened before, it's hard for me to see it happening now.

Hat-tip: Insty, who is worried about the GOP because of what he heard on Rush Limbaugh, via Riehl World View, who is ready to quit the GOP over this. I think I'm going back to bed.


Politics Posted by John Kranz at 2:08 PM | What do you think? [2]
But AlexC thinks:

Somehow i don't see Fred! as saying "Don't push that button!"

He's more of a "they ought to think we might push that button" kind of guy.

That, and punching hippies.

Posted by: AlexC at June 26, 2007 2:33 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Besides, FDT wouldn't touch Dubya with a thirty nine and a half foot pole.

Posted by: johngalt at June 26, 2007 3:23 PM

Victory for Democracy

Those un-secret union ballots?

History.

Senate Republicans on Tuesday blocked a bill that would allow labor unions to organize workplaces without a secret ballot election.

Democrats were unable to get the 60 votes needed to force consideration of the Employee Free Choice Act, ending organized labor's chance to win its top legislative priority from Congress.

The final vote was 51-48.

The outcome was not a surprise, with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., saying for months that he would stop the legislation in the Senate. The White House also made it clear that if the bill passed Congress it would be vetoed.


I have to wonder if everytime they fail to hit the supra-constitutional 60 vote threshold they kick themselves in the ass for being such jerks in the last Congress.

Senate Posted by AlexC at 2:01 PM | What do you think? [2]
But jk thinks:

As disappointing as the GOP has been of late, one must admit that Leader McConnell has saved us from a lot of nonsense.

Posted by: jk at June 26, 2007 2:07 PM
But jk thinks:

Larry Kudlow's pretty happy:

This is a key victory. This was all about the Democratic Congress’s war on prosperity. They were trying to somehow resurrect a growing union movement by abolishing the secret ballot. It’s a loser. So we’re glad the GOP won this battle.

Posted by: jk at June 26, 2007 5:21 PM

Franco-American Relations

The Democrats still campaign on "repairing the damage to international relations" done by the Bush Administration.

That's swell. But doesn't anybody ever notice how many of those fights President Bush won? I guess we lost Aznar on the Iberian peninsula to Socialist appeasers, but how can the media and the Democrats continue to ignore the Atlantist tide of Germany and France? John Fund writes about Sarkozy's new Finance Minister in OpinionJournal's Political Diary:

France is a land famous for its male chauvinism so some eyebrows were lifted this month when new President Nicolas Sarkozy named 51-year-old lawyer Christine Lagarde as the nation's first female finance minister. Indeed, Ms. Lagarde is the first female finance minister of any G7 country.

She is also a clear signal that Mr. Sarkozy intends to pursue a path of economic liberalization despite his party's somewhat disappointing showing in parliamentary elections this month. Ms. Lagarde was a tigress in championing French exports in her previous job as trade minister, but she also has strong free-market views.

She also is well acquainted with America. In 1999, the antitrust lawyer was made the first female chairman of the Chicago-based international law firm Baker & McKenzie and lived in Chicago for several years. She professes strong admiration for America and a belief that the two countries can enjoy warmer official relations.

This is not to say that Ms. Lagarde isn't quintessentially French in many ways. During a recent visit to the Wall Street Journal, she expressed skepticism that French consumers would ever buy frozen American chicken imports (sacre bleu!) and that trade barriers against them were therefore of not much consequence. Nonetheless, look for her to be a breath of fresh air in the normally musty French political climate. Last year, she was ranked the 30th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes magazine. And that was before she was named Finance Minister. I have no doubt that she and our Secretary of State Condi Rice will have a lot more than frozen chicken to talk about when they meet.


Vive la France!

Posted by John Kranz at 12:49 PM

jk Folds on Immigration

-- and begins addressing himself in the third person. Both are scary.

Instapundit links to a post on the Influence Peddler blog that asks "Has Bush Squandered the Last of His Political Capital on Immigration?" Professor Reynolds says "I'd say the answer is pretty much yes, which is unfortunate with more war-funding battles coming up soon."

I still think that the President's immigration views are 100% right. I think he understands the economic needs of the nation and, as a border state Governor, understands the human cost of the present system. I do not share his religious convictions, but I am guessing that they play a part here as well. He is doing the right thing for all the right reasons, and exhibiting political courage.

BUT

This President has been called to deal with Islamist terrorism and has been forced to preserve the Enlightenment. He wanted to do Faith Based Initiatives and Guest Worker Programs and limn out the Ownership Society. I wanted to keep playing hockey and riding my bike. He got 9/11 and I got MS. Tough titties all around, Mr. President.

I don't know why I was wrong when I called it a big GOP win in 2005. It still makes sense to me but I was wrong. I misunderstood the electorate. This is too hard and the President should concentrate, instead, on the war. It is one thing to see Rep Tancredo and a bunch of uber-Conservative talk show hosts stand so firm on this topic. I'm used to disagreeing with those folks. I lost my ties to National Review when they put the FMA on the cover.

I'm quitting because we couldn't get Glenn Reynolds. He is the one human with a nuanced approach to Global Warming. If he cannot or will not see the arguments for more liberalized immigration, it's over. In the same post, he links to Laura Ingrahm and to a Gateway Pundit posts that expresses anger that Senators Kennedy and Martinez are seen...wait for it...laughing together at a press conference.

Jk folds, Mr. President, and suggests you keep your few remaining chips for the war.

Immigration Posted by John Kranz at 10:46 AM | What do you think? [1]
But AlexC thinks:

64-35!

Posted by: AlexC at June 26, 2007 2:39 PM

June 25, 2007

Free Speechifying

While the rest of us are disappointed in today's Supreme Court "McCain-Feingold" ruling not going far enough to eliminate the dissent crushing provisions, "blackrobe" at Keystone Politics complains for another reason.

Once again, the court reverses a recent holding. This panel has shown that it has no respect for the notion of stare decisis.

It's funny how conservatives are concerned about the free speech rights when money and power are involved.


Yeah! Because a living constitution only flows in one direction! To the left! Political speech be damned!

Besides, there's no do overs in Supreme Court decisions! None! Once decided, things just are!

Waaaaaaaaaaah.

Explicitly political speech was exactly kind of speech the framers wanted to protect. McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance "Reform" was a direct attack on that.

SCOTUS Posted by AlexC at 11:30 PM

Immigration Station

So, I was cruising the PhillyHistory.org website looking for old pictures of the waterfront from the 1950s, which I plan to dutifully recreate in HO scale in the basement.

I came across this picture from 1919.

MediaStream.ashx.jpg

I guess it's from the era when documentation was still part of the process.

But jk thinks:

Just for me, I'll hope you 'll have a few 3/4" Poles and Italians sneaking under the fence...

Posted by: jk at June 25, 2007 7:06 PM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

More like, "back when people did it the legal way, before the Dumb-o-crats left the barn door open and said 'come on in!'"

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at June 25, 2007 9:12 PM
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

As a great-grandchild of an immigrant who farmed, we take offense to the barn door analogy. My farmer parents would load their hind-quarters with buck-shot if we caught them within a mile of our barn. Perhaps, we should take a page from my predecessors and introduce them to what a pain in the rear an unhappy constituency can be.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at June 25, 2007 9:33 PM
But jk thinks:

Human beings. Come here to improve their lives. And make us rich. Shoot them?

Posted by: jk at June 26, 2007 1:07 PM
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

JK: I was referring to the politicians snooping about our barn, not the hired help.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at June 26, 2007 1:12 PM
But jk thinks:

I misunderstood. Mea maxima culpa! Consider me on board. Mix a little rock salt in with shot.

Posted by: jk at June 26, 2007 2:05 PM

Rage Boy

Slate Magazine uses this photo to illustrate a general character Christopher Hitchens calls "Rage Boy."

rageboy.jpg

My favorite is still "Behead Those Who Insult Islam."

Hitchens is rightfully concerned that by fear of offending or inciting "Rage Boy," we allow him to set the rules of debate. Neither Hitchens nor I am too keen on avoiding any topic that offends him, because he looks rather easy to offend. Is it me, or does he look a little angry right now?

Over the last few years, there have been innumerable opportunities for him to demonstrate his piety and his pissed-offness. And the cameras have been there for him every time. Is it a fatwah? Is it a copy of the Quran allegedly down the gurgler at Guantanamo? Is it some cartoon in Denmark? Time for Rage Boy to step in and for his visage to impress the rest of the world with the depth and strength of Islamist emotion.
[..]
This mental and moral capitulation has a bearing on the argument about Iraq, as well. We are incessantly told that the removal of the Saddam Hussein despotism has inflamed the world's Muslims against us and made Iraq hospitable to terrorism, for all the world as if Baathism had not been pumping out jihadist rhetoric for the past decade (as it still does from Damascus, allied to Tehran). But how are we to know what will incite such rage? A caricature published in Copenhagen appears to do it. A crass remark from Josef Ratzinger (leader of an anti-war church) seems to have the same effect. A rumor from Guantanamo will convulse Peshawar, the Muslim press preaches that the Jews brought down the Twin Towers, and a single citation in a British honors list will cause the Iranian state-run press to repeat its claim that the British government—along with the Israelis, of course—paid Salman Rushdie to write The Satanic Verses to begin with. Exactly how is such a mentality to be placated?

The whole piece is superb. Hat-tip: Insty

War on Terror Posted by John Kranz at 4:46 PM | What do you think? [2]
But AlexC thinks:

How dare you call us an angry and violent people! You must die!

Posted by: AlexC at June 25, 2007 5:37 PM
But johngalt thinks:

This same expression is found in the Primate Panorama at the Denver Zoo. It looks like this.

Posted by: johngalt at June 26, 2007 3:40 PM

FredOn

I imagine by the hundreth time this would be obnoxious.

But not yet.

But AlexC thinks:

Pshaw! All that Fox watching you do, and you act like you haven't seen the original?!

Posted by: AlexC at June 25, 2007 2:35 PM
But jk thinks:

No, you got me there -- I have not seen the original. I thought all FOX ads were for "Restless Leg Syndrome." (I'm a TiVo power-watcher with "Restless Thumb Syndrome.")

Posted by: jk at June 25, 2007 2:41 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"Punch the hippies." :)

Posted by: johngalt at June 25, 2007 3:11 PM
But AlexC thinks:

Understand that the joke is now lost, but here's the original.

Head On

Posted by: AlexC at June 25, 2007 5:31 PM
But jk thinks:

Got it. You can imagine my not diggibng it right away.

Posted by: jk at June 25, 2007 5:52 PM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

That will eventually make its way to my blog!

Awesome!

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at June 25, 2007 9:13 PM

Media Complicity

Roger Simon has a superb post on the media's deafening silence when their time came to defend Salman Rushdie against what Simon calls "enemies of the Enlightenment." Simon refers to a quote from Glenn Reynolds that bothered me in the same and a different way. Over the weekend Professor Reynolds said:

"Frankly, I think the best argument for electing a Democrat as President is that as long as a Republican is in office the media powers-that-be will refuse to condemn even the worst atrocities on the part of Islamists, for fear of helping the real enemy in the White House."

That upset Simon and me as lovers of freedom -- and further upset me as a partisan hack. Must we really put Senator Obama in the White House to nationalize medicine in the name of freedom? That's a level of Pragmatism I'm not ready to try.

Simon continues to darkly -- but not unconvincingly -- claim that the Iraq War was doomed because of media bias, exacerbated by administration partisanship.

The same prejudices that Rutten describes in his Rushdie article are the ones that have seriously undermined the possibility of victory for democracy in Iraq. A media that could call obvious fascists and religious fascists "insurgents" (a term once reserved for Pancho Villa) in the interest of "objectivity" encouraged a specious atmosphere of moral equivalence to democracy from the start. Whether this was conscious or unconscious is beside the point. Whatever it was, our enemies, the enemies of the Enlightenment, seized on it for propaganda purposes and continue to do so. (Note that in the new Daniel Pearl movie, Pearl's beheading is not even shown - that was praised as tasteful by Roger Ebert.) And, as everyone knows, the playing field of asymmetrical war is the media, far more than the battlefield. Only in the world of public opinion can we be defeated.

Dark days. Simon quotes Arthur Miller and it's not out of place.

Media and Blogging Posted by John Kranz at 11:55 AM

Banned by PBS, Bumped by FOX

Warning: an angry rant follows. Those seeking polite, well reasoned commentary should click over to Michelle Malkin or Anne Coulter or something.

Will somebody please tell me what lottery we lost? Right of center folk get the likes of Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh; the crown jewel is FOXNews. My Boulder County compatriots get NPR, PBS and, well, everything else.

I HATE FOX NEWS! I like Brit Hume's show; I record it every day and watch it three or four times a week. I watch "Beltway Boys" and the "Journal Editorial Report" every week, and I watch Chris Wallace's Fox New Sunday every week. It runs on FOX Network but it seems fair to credit FOXNews with its production.

EVERY OTHER MINUTE IS PURE CRAP.

I accepted this Faustian bargain and chose to watch the shows I like. That's the deal with television. I don't have to watch "Two and a Half Men" because the same network shows the Broncos. I always chuckle that the most "conservative" show on TV has got to be Larry Kudlow's "Kudlow & Company" on CNBC. But FOX pre-empted all my shows this weekend, because 23 hours of tabloid news is not enough for them some days.

My heart goes out to the friends and the family of the pregnant woman in Ohio who was abducted and killed. I don't mean to minimize the tragedy in any way. It's a horrible crime; I certainly hope the perpetrators are found and punished. Beyond that, I don't need to know or care to know the names and the details. I cannot believe the family wants Geraldo, Greta, and me in their living room.

Beltway Boys was pre-empted at 4PM Mountain. I'm used to this and know I can try to record it again at 9:30 after WSJ Editorial Report. Surprise! They were still yapping through both of those. I found and recorded another replay at 4AM and, mirabile dictu, it ran.

I am ranting. It's only a TV show. What really got me was that I had also recorded "Muslims Against Jihad," which PBS had spiked for reasons many thought were PC and appeasement of victim groups. FOX didn't mind hyping the show:

Tune in this weekend, as FOX News Channel presents the documentary the Public Broadcasting System didn't want you to see.

It's a film about the difference between moderate Muslims and the radicals who want to kill us. It asks where are the moderate Muslims and why aren't they speaking out against the jihadists? And it was financed with $675,000 of taxpayers' money.


Of course, that would have meant that FOX would have HAD TO STOP TALKING ABOUT THE ATTRACTIVE, WHITE, MURDER VICTIM FOR 90 MINUTES. Even at one in the morning (three Eastern), we couldn't have that. So I recorded an hour and a half of "Breaking News" that was at least 12 hours old.

FOX.

But AlexC thinks:

Congratulations, you too have discovered that FoxNews is crap.

Not for it's "conservative" bias, but for the same reason all 24 hour news is crap.

They have a day to fill... and sometimes there isn't that much going on.

... that and they program based on people tuning in and out throughout the day... not actually watching it all day long. (though some do)

Posted by: AlexC at June 25, 2007 1:46 PM
But jk thinks:

A good friend of this blog has assured me in private that Greta Van Susteren has all those women locked up in her basement.

In FOX's defense, I like the headline on the SCOTUS free speach decision: "Court Snuffs Out 'Bong Hits'"

Posted by: jk at June 25, 2007 2:47 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Would you believe that when I tuned in to FNC this morning I was surprised to learn that the woman's body had been found - on SATURDAY? Yes, I actually managed to avoid the breaking news. I spent Friday through Sunday baling and stacking 1500 bales of hay. The only news I got was between innings of Rockies games on the radio. (Speaking of which, can we have the Yankees back? Those Blue Jays and their plastic grass and plastic dirt really jacked with the Rox.)

I watched FNC when it was new. It was fresh. It was awesome. Now, it's CNN with a slightly traditional tone, although Bill Hemmer's arrival from CNN was an ominous sign. I still think he's a plant.

Posted by: johngalt at June 25, 2007 3:24 PM
But Terri thinks:

I'm with AlexC. 24 hours of news shows for maybe 2 hours of actual "Headline News" is too much!
I think the last time I watched news on TV was to get pictures during Katrina.

Posted by: Terri at June 26, 2007 12:06 AM

June 24, 2007

The Reality is More Complex

Everyday Economist links to Michal Moynihan’s review of Michael Moore's Sicko in Reason Magazine. (I could do four prepositional phrases in a sentence, but it's Sunday.) "Watching 'Sicko' so you don't have to."

I may have to. It's my issue, so to speak, and I want to credibly rebut it. I also just learned that a freind-of-a-freind's parents are the objects of the opening segment. Pardon my name dropping. It is so crazy a premise, however, it seems an unfair world that would actually call one to reasonably rebut.

Viewers are taken to London's Hammersmith Hospital, held up as a shining example of socialized care, where doctors are well-paid and patients well looked after. Moore ambles through the corridors interviewing patients that acclaim the NHS's ‘free care,' and express horror at the barbarism of the American system. Indeed, the facility's "cashier" exists to give money to patients—for travel reimbursements—rather than taking it from them. But as is often the case with Moore's films, the reality is more complex.

In 2005, London's Evening Standard reported that Hammersmith Hospital would slash hundreds of jobs; the hospital, the most debt-ridden in Britain, was hemorrhaging money and desperately needed to cut costs. And while the hospital was "downsizing", Hammersmith's CEO—yes, even the NHS has an executive class—collected a year-end bonus of close to $20,000. Small beer by American standards, but enough to provoke tabloid headlines in Britain.


At least Britain and Ireland allow private care. This provides much more of a two-tiered system than Americans would tolerate. Part of me likes the Irish model: government provides a base level to all citizens but any sane human purchases private insurance to get better care. Not sure you could sell that to either side around here.

Worse is the Swedish system, which provides good care but proscribes purchasing better care. Which glass would you rather drink from?

But Dillner's truculent insurance provider was not Aetna or Kaiser, but the notoriously generous Swedish welfare state, where health care is "free." And because there is no private clinic in Sweden that could perform the operation, Elias will sit in a queue, hoping, in lieu of privatization, for prioritization. Swedish legislator Robert Uitto said that the Dillner case was unfortunate, but "People shouldn't, on principle, be allowed to purchase care in the public system."

Sicko also introduces us to Diane, whose brain tumor operation was initially denied by Horizon BlueCross because it didn't consider her condition "life threatening." She eventually received treatment, but "not without battling the insurance companies," Moore says.

Jack Szmyt found himself in a similar situation. After waiting two months for his initial diagnosis—he too had a brain tumor—Szmyt was told that it would be another month until doctors could start the necessary treatment. Rather than wait in a queue, he borrowed $30,000 from a friend, and flew to a private clinic in Germany. Had he not sought private treatment abroad, his German doctor said, he would likely have died. When contacted by the media, his insurer, again the Swedish government, said it didn't consider the assigned waiting period "unreasonable."


This is where HillaryCare really blew up, if I remember correctly. Somebody found $1,000 fines and jail time on repeat offenses for Doctors who took money to work outside the system. People -- rightly -- recoiled at that. It will be interesting to see the Democratic proposals and measure them on this yardstick: will they allow better care for the rich ("The Rich would live and the poor would die" I can hear Peter, Paul & Mary singing...), or would they forbid private care which is quickly shown as both un-American and something most people would not want to face if their child were sick.

From the review and Moore's history, I think it's safe to say that level of nuance is not explored. Maybe if Arnold Kling made a film version of "Crisis of Abundance..."

Pharmaceuticals Posted by John Kranz at 2:03 PM

June 22, 2007

A Free Trader After All?

Senator Hillary Clinton has outsourced the composition of her campaign theme song. The LA Times reports:

Well, it's official. The H. Clinton campaign has just picked its official campaign song, "You and I" by Celine Dion. (Wait a minute, she's Canadian!)

Free movement of Labor, Capital, Goods and jejune pop music: that's a platform we can all get behind!

Hat-tip: Famous unknown blogger Extreme Mortman.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 4:27 PM

A Nonprofit to Support Sen. Edwards

There may not be comic strips in the NY Times, but this story on Senator John Edwards has a laugh a minute.

John Edwards ended 2004 with a problem: how to keep alive his public profile without the benefit of a presidential campaign that could finance his travels and pay for his political staff.

Mr. Edwards, who reported this year that he had assets of nearly $30 million, came up with a novel solution, creating a nonprofit organization with the stated mission of fighting poverty. The organization, the Center for Promise and Opportunity, raised $1.3 million in 2005, and — unlike a sister charity he created to raise scholarship money for poor students — the main beneficiary of the center’s fund-raising was Mr. Edwards himself, tax filings show.


The Center for Promise and Opportunity! Stop it! You're killin' me!

A nonprofit to finance the promise, opportunity and extreme styling needs of one of our nation's richest tort attorneys. Audaces fortuna juvat, baby!

Mr. Edwards mixed policy and politics in a way that allowed his supporters to donate to the causes he believed in — and to the organizations he had set up. He also set up two political action committees, something commonly done by politicians thinking of running for president.

But it was his use of a tax-exempt organization to finance his travel and employ people connected to his past and current campaigns that went beyond what most other prospective candidates have done before pursuing national office. And according to experts on nonprofit foundations, Mr. Edwards pushed at the boundaries of how far such organizations can venture into the political realm. Such entities, which are regulated under Section 501C-4 of the tax code, can engage in advocacy but cannot make partisan political activities their primary purpose without risking loss of their tax-exempt status.


Hat-tip: Insty, who points out "[T]here are two Americas: Those who manage to enrich themselves by exploiting legal technicalities, and those who do not."

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 1:28 PM

Again, Bullwinkle?

That trick never works. So say Senators J. Bennett Johnson and Don Nickles in a guest editorial in today’s Wall Street Journal. (Paid link, TNSTAAFE[ditorial])

If the American people are suspicious of bold pledges from Washington about energy independence and reform, they have good reason to be. Since the first energy crisis almost 35 years ago, our nation has had a very expensive education in such matters. Whether it was President Nixon's Project Independence that called for the elimination of foreign oil imports, or President Carter's mandate that 20% of all domestic energy be supplied by solar technologies -- both of which were set to be achieved by 2000 -- projects have come and gone to no avail.

Wishful thinking is again on full display this week as Democrats and Republicans alike have assembled an ambitious energy policy agenda. Our hope was that Congress would embrace past lessons and forge pragmatic and workable solutions. But that hasn't happened.


They then enumerate a frightening list of Congressional intrusion: price-gouging, alternative energy mandates, renewable fuels standards, windfall profits tax, &c.

The bipartisan team, to be fair, hails from the oil states of Oklahoma and Louisiana. But they puncture each mandate and ask the current Congress to "recognize and act upon the difference between hope and reality."

Oil and Energy Posted by John Kranz at 12:15 PM

Rudy Can't Predict the Future

The ability to predict the future is virtually impossible. We all like to try and we love to think that it is possible, but in reality we are mostly kidding ourselves. The media is especially good at predicting events -- after they happen, of course. Why didn't we see 9/11 coming? Why were the red flags of the Virginia Tech gunman ignored? Quite frankly, it boils down to our complete and utter inability to predict.

Nevertheless, Rick Moran believes that Rudy's inability to predict the future may hurt him in the election:


Herein lies the trap for Giuliani as he seeks to use his well-deserved reputation for leadership gained on 9/11 as a springboard to the presidency. Questions that were arguably glossed over by the 9/11 Commission, about the communications snafus that led to so many firefighters losing their lives, as well as a perceived lack of compassion for workers cleaning up Ground Zero will dog his campaign and actually be used against him by his opponents.

I have heard the discussion of the communication problems before. But perhaps it is my recognition of the fact that we can predict neither the events nor the ability of our infrastructure to hold up in an unlikely, yet catastrophic event that allows me to gloss over these "snafus."

So called "snafus" are not discovered when firefighters are waiting for a call, but rather when they are called into action. The inability to properly handle a catastrophic event properly given one's infrastructure cannot be discovered without a catastrophe.

Full Disclosure: Unlike jk, I am not in the Rudy camp.

2008 Race Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 9:32 AM | What do you think? [2]
But jk thinks:

Give him time to work his baldheaded magic on you, hb.

Politicians and company leaders are warned about something drastic two or three times a day. I'd guess the number for the Mayor of NYC is more like 100.

Part of their job is to filter out the noise and choose where to allocate scarce resources. The trick of producing an email or report that predicted 9/11 as a "smoking gun" is specious.

Posted by: jk at June 22, 2007 10:44 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

War and terrorist attacks are unpredictable, and as much as I dislike Giuliani for his fascist views of freedom versus government, he and his staff did the best they could, and extremely well.

"No one could anticipate." That still includes airplanes flying into the WTC, which the CIA had said was a possibility, but no one on our side seriously envisioned that would ever happen.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at June 22, 2007 2:49 PM

June 21, 2007

Email Support to Marines

The Fighting 6th Marines are in the thick of it in Fallujah and one of their Colonels has asked for email

COL. SIMCOCK: (Chuckles.) I'll tell you what, the one thing that all Marines want to know about -- and that includes me and everyone within Regimental Combat Team 6 -- we want to know that the American public are behind us. We believe that the actions that we're taking over here are very, very important to America. We're fighting a group of people that, if they could, would take away the freedoms that America enjoys.

If anyone -- you know, just sit down, jot us -- throw us an e- mail, write us a letter, let us know that the American public are behind us. Because we watch the news just like everyone else. It's broadcast over here in our chow halls and the weight rooms, and we watch that stuff, and we're a little bit concerned sometimes that America really doesn't know what's going on over here, and we get sometimes concerns that the American public isn't behind us and doesn't see the importance of what's going on. So that's something I think that all Marines, soldiers and sailors would like to hear from back home, that in fact, yes, they think what we're doing over here is important and they are in fact behind us.


On their blog, they thank Michelle Malkin and Blackfive for linking, and say that the effort is going well.
Just by way of an update, we've reached our halfway mark of 3000 e-mails. This is after despairing yesterday when the deluge had slowed to a trickle by yesterday evening. Then we got 900 e-mails over night. All in all in the past 24 hours we've gotten 1300 e-mails. I'm not counting the various spam e-mails, either, though "Queen Amallah," I hope you eventually find your money.

If you have the time and inclination, why not register with Vox, drop us a comment and join our community? We've got a great readership here and lots of good regular commenters and plenty of content. I hope you stop by regularly; we update as often as is feasible.


The e-mail address for the campaign is rct-6lettersfromh AT gcemnf-wiraq DOT usmc DOT mil

Hat-tip: A Second Hand Conjecture

Freedom on the March Posted by John Kranz at 8:13 PM

Rockies Sweep Yankees

Rockies 4, Yankees 3
ARNIE STAPLETON, Jun 21, 2007
Roger Clemens couldn't hold on for his 350th win and the Colorado Rockies completed a three-game sweep of the New York Yankees with a 4-3 victory Thursday. Matt Holliday's RBI single with one out in the fifth broke a 2-2 tie and chased the Rocket, who failed to hold a 2-0 lead and allowed four earned runs and seven hits with one walk and six strikeouts.

Posted by John Kranz at 6:34 PM

How About a Short Krugman ETF

I'm not making fun of Paul Krugman's height (blog friend Perry Eidlebus tells Don Luskin that he is lying when he claims to be 5' 7"). I am making fun of his poor predictions. Both Luskin and Larry Kudlow celebrate the four year anniversary of his claim that "In short, the current surge in stocks looks like another bubble, one that will eventually burst."

Luskin's reply is more colorful, so I will use it:

Brilliant. Just f***ing brilliant. The total return to the S&P 500 since then has been about 66%, including dividends. Gee -- I sure wish I'd sold everything four years ago like Krugman said to do.

He seems wrong with sufficient frequency that I'd like to start a fund that would do the opposite of what he says. Users could short Krugman easily and I could deduct TimesSelect from my taxes.

But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

"You lied."

"I exaggerated."

I didn't exactly say he lied, or did I, but standing on the same stage, I definitely seemed taller. Still, isn't Krugman a bit old to be thinking so childishly about it? Short stature is something you can't do anything about, but your weight is completely under your control except in exceptional medical circumstances.

BTW, the night I met Krugman was when I got him to autograph a copy of his book, my gift to a good friend. Oh, the relish in my reply, after he asked my friend's name. "Don Luskin."

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at June 22, 2007 2:58 PM
But jk thinks:

ROFLMAO -- I would've loved to have seen that.

Posted by: jk at June 22, 2007 3:37 PM
But jk thinks:

"Lied" might be a little strong. Luskin quotes your letter as:

You're right, that has to be with elevator shoes. When I met him at that Social Security debate, he definitely seemed shorter than I, and I'm 5'5". Granted, I don't know for certain, but like with all things Krugman, we should automatically be skeptical. His track record is all about purporting things to be true, which the rest of us counter with actual facts.

Exactly. Now, MoDo would've gotten the benefit of the doubt.

Posted by: jk at June 22, 2007 3:54 PM

American I.T. Advantage

Austan Goolsbee has a great piece in the New York Times which investigates why the United States was able to produce such productivity gains from technology. A new study from the London School of Economics notes that technology prices dropped worldwide, yet America was better able to leverage computing power. The study goes further to show that when American firms took over UK firms, the utilization of IT improved. (My associate from my start-up ended up heading a large IT department in London -- I can't wait to share this!)

Our comparative advantage is hard to quantify, but don't forget Mr. Schumpeter: flexibility is a huge factor in exploiting technology (ask Hank Reardon).

But that is, of course, the paradox of the American position. We hate experiencing major adjustments and industry transformations that force people to look for new jobs. That experience has made many skeptical about the future of the United States in the world economy. Yet the evidence seems to show that for all our dissatisfaction, we are the most flexible economy around and may be best poised to take advantage of the coming changes on a global scale precisely because we are so good at adjusting.

Perhaps the lesson from the research can be boiled down to something most Americans clearly understand: The world economy may be tough on your industry but look on the bright side: you could be French.


Hat-tip: Everyday Economist

Technology Posted by John Kranz at 11:13 AM

THE COOLING PLANET

In his latest book, The Black Swan, Nassim Taleb discusses the fallacy of induction. The example he gives is that of the turkey. For 1000 days, the turkey goes about its life being fed by human beings and leading a normal, dull life of a turkey. Each day the turkey's belief that it exists solely for the purpose of being fed. Then, shortly before Thanksgiving the turkey is killed and incurs "a revision of belief."

Skeptics of global warming are treated as though they were Holocaust-deniers. Even those who admit that the planet is warming and contend that the result is not due to human action are derided as naive. These criticisms are especially ironic considering that those who propagate global warming are committing the fallacy of induction.

It is nearly impossible to predict the future. I think that it would generally be universally agreed upon that I would not be able to forecast the weather for a given week one year hence or GDP five years into the future. There are far too many variables that could have a large impact on the actual outcome, many of which would be unexpected and thus would not be incorporated into the forecast.

Nevertheless, forecasts for climate change are widely accepted. We assume that trends will continue (or possible become worse). Yet this is an example of the fallacy of induction. We cannot safely assume that simply because the earth has gotten warmer over the past century that it will continue to do so ad infinitum. What about technological progress? What about natural changes in the environment that are unforeseen, yet part of the natural process? These are largely ignored.

Thus it is encouraging to find scientists who challenge this notion. R. Timothy Patterson writes:


Climate stability has never been a feature of planet Earth. The only constant about climate is change; it changes continually and, at times, quite rapidly. Many times in the past, temperatures were far higher than today, and occasionally, temperatures were colder. As recently as 6,000 years ago, it was about 3C warmer than now. Ten thousand years ago, while the world was coming out of the thou-sand-year-long "Younger Dryas" cold episode, temperatures rose as much as 6C in a decade -- 100 times faster than the past century's 0.6C warming that has so upset environmentalists.

[...]

My interest in the current climate-change debate was triggered in 1998, when I was funded by a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council strategic project grant to determine if there were regular cycles in West Coast fish productivity. As a result of wide swings in the populations of anchovies, herring and other commercially important West Coast fish stock, fisheries managers were having a very difficult time establishing appropriate fishing quotas. One season there would be abundant stock and broad harvesting would be acceptable; the very next year the fisheries would collapse. No one really knew why or how to predict the future health of this crucially important resource.

Although climate was suspected to play a significant role in marine productivity, only since the beginning of the 20th century have accurate fishing and temperature records been kept in this region of the northeast Pacific. We needed indicators of fish productivity over thousands of years to see whether there were recurring cycles in populations and what phenomena may be driving the changes.

[...]

Indeed, that is precisely what has been discovered. In a series of groundbreaking scientific papers starting in 2002, Veizer, Shaviv, Carslaw, and most recently Svensmark et al., have collectively demonstrated that as the output of the sun varies, and with it, our star's protective solar wind, varying amounts of galactic cosmic rays from deep space are able to enter our solar system and penetrate the Earth's atmosphere. These cosmic rays enhance cloud formation which, overall, has a cooling effect on the planet. When the sun's energy output is greater, not only does the Earth warm slightly due to direct solar heating, but the stronger solar wind generated during these "high sun" periods blocks many of the cosmic rays from entering our atmosphere. Cloud cover decreases and the Earth warms still more.

The opposite occurs when the sun is less bright. More cosmic rays are able to get through to Earth's atmosphere, more clouds form, and the planet cools more than would otherwise be the case due to direct solar effects alone. This is precisely what happened from the middle of the 17th century into the early 18th century, when the solar energy input to our atmosphere, as indicated by the number of sunspots, was at a minimum and the planet was stuck in the Little Ice Age. These new findings suggest that changes in the output of the sun caused the most recent climate change. By comparison, CO2 variations show little correlation with our planet's climate on long, medium and even short time scales.

In some fields the science is indeed "settled." For example, plate tectonics, once highly controversial, is now so well-established that we rarely see papers on the subject at all. But the science of global climate change is still in its infancy, with many thousands of papers published every year. In a 2003 poll conducted by German environmental researchers Dennis Bray and Hans von Storch, two-thirds of more than 530 climate scientists from 27 countries surveyed did not believe that "the current state of scientific knowledge is developed well enough to allow for a reasonable assessment of the effects of greenhouse gases." About half of those polled stated that the science of climate change was not sufficiently settled to pass the issue over to policymakers at all. [Emphasis added.]


The findings are startling, essentially rejecting the status quo. While this certainly will not change the minds of the Al Gore's of world, it does give credence for those of us who dare to be skeptics.

But jk thinks:

Go Long on Monsanto. Glenn Reynolds says "So we'll either be roasting, or freezing. I guess either way, more insulation in my attic is a good idea."

Posted by: jk at June 21, 2007 12:05 PM

June 20, 2007

Thirtieth Birthday

A project to which I quite literally owe my livelihood to celebrates it's 30th birthday today.

The Trans-Alaska Pipeline.

Figurin' that I'm about thirty years from retirement, here's hopin for another thirty!

But jk thinks:

I'm hoping for 30 years of ANWR oil as well.

Posted by: jk at June 21, 2007 9:42 AM

Celebrating the Bush Presidency

I'm going to call blogger prerogative and promote a comment thread into a new post. To get the current thread, read this post or this for some superb guest commentary. What started a few posts before as a discussion of the debate contretemps between Rep. Ron Paul and Mayor Rudy Giuliani morphed into a discussion of pragmatism and what might be the great question of politics: in a Madisonian system, how far do you go to seek a candidate you truly agree with and when do you tolerate the lesser of two evils?

The newest turn questions President Bush. Perry Eidelbus parries my defense of W:

Besides, what has Bush done to deserve accolades? Tax cuts, excellent. Private health savings accounts, good. Pushing for Social Security reform, fine. But the rest of his administration has been raping the Constitution, whether it's out-Hitlering Giuliani with the "Patriot" Act, or out-Demming the Democrats with everything from NCLB to the prescription drug bill. Bruce Bartlett calls the latter the worst legislation ever passed, and he could be right.

I’ll be one of the 29% or whatever who will defend this President. I don’t claim he has aligned closely with my beliefs, but several aspects of his administration have been very positive. My list of achievements is longer than yours:

  • You left out the best, my friend: the appointment of Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Samuel Alito. Two inspired choices, confirmed.

  • The tax cuts are a massive achievement. The continued defense has been solid (legislatively, I think the rhetoric could be a lot better).

  • Publicly sharing the Senate’s 0-95 vote for Kyoto with the rest of the world.

  • Toppling the Taliban in Afghanistan

  • Toppling Saddam Hussein in Iraq (yup, I still score that as a plus. I’m a Sharanskyite and consider an unstable free society a step up from a stable fear society).

  • Allowing Yassir Arafat’s PA government to fall instead of propping it (and Arafat) up with White House visits, summits, extra aid and diplomacy.

  • Appointing Mark McClellan to the FDA (sadly, too short lived)

  • Appointing Paul Wolfowitz to the World Bank, then Robert Zoellick after the professional thieves chased him out. Even National Review took a break from Bush bashing this week to highlight those two exceptional choices.
  • John Bolton to UN (also, sadly, too short a tenure).

You applaud HSAs and Social Security private accounts then decry NCLB and Medicare Part D. I lump them all into his idea of an “ownership society.” He is willing (too willing perhaps but hang in there) to trade some Federal control or additional spending to infuse a free market incentive structure. This pragmatist imagines that the additional spending and regulation are coming either way. The structure might pay long term benefits.

These accomplishments have come with a narrow Congressional majority, a sharply divided electorate and the most extreme exogenous events that any President since Lincoln has encountered. To return to my Bush vs. Congress argument, I’d say that a braver, more visionary Congressional caucus could have accomplished even more.

But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

The thing about Miers is that it's just one example of where, as Stephen Bainbridge put it, Bush pissed away the conservative movement. Bush is the ultimate party man, let's face it, who will do anything, try to please anybody, so his party remains in power. It wasn't enough in 2006, and it may not be enough in 2008.

It's bad enough when you piss away your support to woo the middle. It's sheer stupidity to piss away your support and still botch the job so badly that you don't win the middle.

"To deny Bush credit for McClellan because he didn't abolish the FDA is unfair."

But what's happened at the FDA, despite someone supposedly qualified better more than anyone? The same thing. Nothing significant has happened, despite someone who on the surface appears significantly better than his predecessor(s).

As much as I admire John Bolton, and meeting him was a terrific evening, it's the same sort of tilting at windmills: appointing one man alone can't do anything. To change the FDA requires legislation limiting its power, properly restoring it to American individuals. To change the UN requires that the U.S. give it the finger, completely withdraw from it,a nd send dunning notices for the money THEY owe us (and I'm talking about more than parking tickets).

"Likewise, Medicare D. (Terri and) I recognize that subsidizing health care for seniors is wildly popular."

Of course it's popular. I recognize it too, but I further state that it's popular for those on the receiving end, not those who pay for it. I pull no punches and call it what it is: robbing Peter to pay for Paul.

Prison sodomy is popular for at one side, you know.

"Politicians who suggest that it should grow at 9% instead of 11% are accused of raiding granny's purse and are not re-elected. Recognizing that subsidies will be made, isn't it better to buy a bottle of Plavix instead of treating a heart attack?"

You and I know very well that government programs never confine themselves to practical expenditures of money. Now, we have no idea, and no one short of God ever will, that Plavix will have any significant preventitive value now, compared to the cost of a hospital visit later on. As a windfall for pharmaceutical companies, Part D allows them to produce as much as doctors can prescribe. And when the federal government, through Medicare and Medicaid, pays for so many people, why should doctors turn down patients who'll just be given a new prescription?

If you truly support free markets, you'll recognize that the value of an item changes over time. A bottle of a prescription drug today, based on a person's risk of a heart attack later on, could be less or more than the cost of a hospital visit. If the person never has a heart attack, then the drugs were a waste. We won't know, but in a truly free market, each individual can make his own judgment -- just not at the expense of others. Here I go from the economic to the moral argument.

Why should I be compelled to pay for someone else, against my will? People should be motivated to take care of themselves, whether financially, physically or mentally. They should not be motivated to vote for someone who will give them things at the expense of taxpayers. And if it means some heart attack victim will risk dying because he can't afford a hospital, well, he'll have to rely on the charity of others. I certainly won't have charity if it turns out he's some 300-pound walking piece of lard that didn't care about his health, figuring the taxpayers would cover him no matter what.

"Had Bush's plan not been done, do you think we'd have put that money on our pockets? We'd've gotten a Democratic plan that would not include any private insurance."

You are too willing to compromise, specifically about accepting government intervention in your life. I argued once with someone from the Manhattan Institute, which at best is semi-free market. She spoke one night this last March about why the MI supports the $20 billion project to build a major East Side subway corridor in Manhattan. Her stance came down to, "Well, we should spend the money anyway, because we'll be taxed."

As I put it, it's a massive welfare program for Upper East Side liberals to commute down to work, at the expense of state taxpayers (the New York MTA gets, what, $20 billion a year now in subsidies?). I refuse to compromise, I thundered. "We should never have to accept that because 50% of our income will be taxed, we might as well spend it this way or that. We should instead insist on 25%, 10%, and that government cut spending to match. Whatever happened to the Reagan revolution of limited government and low taxes?" I was the only person in the crowd who refused to accept her poppycock, and several after complimented me.

"Also with you on RomneyCare, enough so that I never looked at support the "Governor of the Commonwealth." Interesting to note that Part D produced lower premiums and less spending than was budgeted -- because it was based on free market principles."

There's nothing free market about it, but you did say "based on," which is not the same as functioning like the free market. On the surface it may seem similar, but once government taxes and spending come into play, the free market goes out the window.

Look at long-term costs, not today's. Now answer me, since when has a government program of indeterminate (read: infinite) life *not* grown larger and larger? I've not heard of a single one.

"NCLB is grey. I'm all for local control of the schools. But on this planet, that's not how it works."

The Constitution no longer works, and that's the only thing that counts. NCLB isn't gray at best, it's unconstitutional. None of the Articles specify such powers to the federal government, and the Tenth Amendment clearly reserves unspecified powers to the states and people.

"The AFT and NEA have effectively nationalized the schools. NCLB should not be needed, but the education system is so badly broken, Bush tried to buy accountability with Federal largesse. It's not my favorite but I do see it as part of the ownership society with the tax cuts, HSAs, private Social Security accounts, and Part D."

How is it an "ownership society" to violate the Constitution and give more power to the federal government? An "ownership society," notwithstanding the ludicrous nature of the term, is one where local people take local control of local schools -- not the other way around.

And frankly, I am baffled at how you can consider anything about Part D as part of an "ownership society," when it's merely the redistribution of wealth. But if by that you mean federal control, and begging government to let us do this and that though they're our inherent right to do in the first place, you are correct.

"I would have loved to have you on board to explain Bush's economic policies (instead of your buddy, Bruce Bartlett who failed so miserably but got a nice book deal)."

I've been meaning to post an unbiased review of Bartlett's book. He's not my friend, but Luskin is, and he and Luskin were friends. From what I understand, the book had no small part in them becoming embittered toward each other.

Bartlett said a lot of truth that needed to be said, that under Bush's watch, Congressional spending has gone unchecked at levels unseen since LBJ. Bartlett did say some unfair things, such as Bush's tax cuts not doing anything. Albeit moderate, the capital gains tax cut was critical for domestic investment.

"I have been complaining a lot lately about this administration's inability to articulate. What was cute in 2001 has become a threat to liberty in 2007. I am going to pick a great orator in 2008."

Many missed chances. When Bush and his staff pound on an issue, they did well, but that's a rarity. More often than not, they'd act spineless. Look at what happened to Mankiw when he defended outsourcing.

In Bush's place, I'd have called upon Paul Krugman and Brad DeLong to explain why outsourcing is bad. And if they started, I'd tell them on national TV to stick to the f****** point. Oh yeah, and fire the FCC head if he tried to fine me, since after all what's good for Bono (using it in a "non-sexual" way) ought to be good for anyone else. So vote for me in 2012, "The clear choice against incumbent Hillary."

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at June 22, 2007 4:43 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Actually, Terri, I'm one of the nicest people in person that I see. However, when it comes to discussing economics, politics and religion, I'm ruthless.

I would similarly be ruthless were I in a position to "govern" others: I would govern by not governing, by being completely ruthless in preserving individual freedom.

"I happen to think that a lot of governing involves compromise not only amongst the governing bodies but amongst the people with their government itself."

There's the very problem. People accept "compromise," having been indoctrinated in public schools that wish only to turn out good, complacent citizens. They learn that "compromise" is "practical politics," which is true, but I don't want practical politics. I want righteous government that protects my life, liberty and property, not one that subsidizes my neighbors' lives and property at my expense.

Another problem is that people today think that when government functions by "the consent of the governed," it means majority rule. As the libertarian saying goes, democracy is two wolves and a lamb deciding on lunch. Does "consent of the governed" mean "My neighbors consenting to make me pay for them" to you? Or does it mean as the Founding Fathers, the ultimate group of believers in freedom that history ever saw, believed, that it's MY consent to let government do away with MY property for MY benefit, and no one else's property or benefit?

"You jump right into accusing me of wanting to spend your hard earned dollars on me. I'm pretty sure I've avoided you at parties before."

I jumped in because you clearly think the redistribution of wealth is a good thing, and I want to know: are you benefiting on my tax dollars? It's a simple question. And at parties, I do tend to avoid people who I know live their lives courtesy of my money. Why would I want to associate with people who silently mug me?

"The people wanted "free drugs"."

Wrong. SOME people wanted free drugs, at OTHER people's expense.

"This prescription drug bill is a whole lot less of a give away than what you would have seen with someone other than Bush in office. (oh - unless you were there)"

Look again at future projected costs. Have you? I have, and you clearly have not. You need to know what you're talking about before you discuss it. The fact is that this giveaway will dwarf even LBJ's "War on Poverty."

I doubt you were around to see Lincoln's erosion of liberty. I wasn't, yet I don't need to have been "there" to know what happened.

"It's already less than projected."

Why not 10, or 20, or 30? Again, this is a government program of an indeterminate life span. It's going to grow and keep growing.

"Well - shall we go into the basics about being a part of society."

Just because I live near other people does not obligate me to pay for their living.

"I have no children and yet I get to pay for schools, I carry insurance and yet I get to pay for the Katrina disaster, I subsidize the railroads and the airlines and the roads and it goes on and on as you well know."

You shouldn't have to do any of those, don't you understand? Not a single one.

"(Don't bother. I'm sure you think everyone should just cover themselves and school themselves etc. I find a little benefit to having relatively educated people here and knowing there is a safety net in times of disaster)"

It's not anyone's responsibility to ensure others are competent. And btw, we keep expanding public schools yet have more and more idiot students graduating. It looks bad for government schools, you know, so they just dumb down the standards and pass students who shouldn't have been. They also don't kick out troublemakers who disrupt classes. Private schools wouldn't get away with this.

"Life is about choices. And sometimes its the voters who choose for you."

Take a principled stand. Why should others get to decide how to live your life, how to live their lives at your expense? What obligates you?

"The pharmaceutical companies, the left, the right, the hmos and the old folks all contributed to this bill. And frankly it's a good one. Perhaps not to you who would rather live in a cave and not be a part of society, but to many others it's working out. Should we even have medicare at all? Maybe not. But we do."

Of course people love to live at the expense of others. They "contribute" ideas, and I contribute dollars. And you think it's *right*?

"I don't think the money comes out of thin air."

You seem to think so. You also seem to think there's no adverse effect on the economy when government takes tax dollars that would have otherwise been invested or spent on things people deemed more efficient. It's not "efficient" just because your neighbors decide what to do with your money.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at June 22, 2007 5:01 PM
But jk thinks:

"I compromise too much." That's a fair cop, guv. You'll find plenty of folks around here that will agree with you on that. I'll counter that your don't-give-an-inch does not serve the cause of liberty.

I can't defend Miers's nomination, but in the end it was pulled and Bush's two picks have been stellar. Was it party loyalty? I don't know, I can't think of even a bad reason for that one. Being a Buffy fan, it has to be a spell or some demonic possession. But it wore off and we got Justice Alito.

But I will stand up for the ownership society and Part D. You refuse to admit that it is built on market principles and that is unfair. The rest of Medicare is single payer; part D has private insurers competing for subscribers. As such, it is the one government program that has surprised to the downside both in cost to the government and average premiums to its subscribers.

A future administration might build on those figures to spread market mechanisms into the rest of Medicare. The idea of the ownership society is that these mechanisms function like seed crystals. Over time, they become a larger percentage of the structure and crowd out the collectivist portion. It is a bold attempt and it may not work, but it is disingenuous not to recognize the attempt.

You applauded the try for private Social Security accounts -- that's the exact same thing. Had legislation progressed, there was much talk of increasing benefits to sell it to the Democrats. Were you being a Socialist? Perry was trying to take my money against my will and give it to seniors! What a Communist that Perry is!

McClellan did not last long enough, but there was improvement in his tenure. Fast track approvals for terminal conditions and the Pharma funded faster approval process both happened under his watch. (Sadly, I think he was pulled off to do Part D -- that was a dark day for me).

I got a kick out of your prison sodomy line, but I think you are missing the saddest fact there is. Welfare for seniors is wildly popular beyond those who accept benefits. People like the idea of a safety net for themselves, their parents, and think that it is a component of "a just society."

Nine percent libertarians according to Pew. The other 91% are, sadly, very cool with collectivist, nationalized health care and pensions for the elderly. If you will not admit that, you will not be successful in a Madisonian democracy.

Posted by: jk at June 23, 2007 11:48 AM
But Terri thinks:

Hey a fight at Three Sources and JK IS in it!

And handling my position just fine (and probably better than I).....I think I'll take the day off.

Posted by: Terri at June 24, 2007 9:01 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

"I'll counter that your don't-give-an-inch does not serve the cause of liberty."

It does not work today not because it isn't the right thing to do, but because so many people prefer "the tranquility of servitude" and the peace of compromise, being too afraid of the "extreme" of full-blown God-given rights.

We fought for independence because we refused to give in, because real liberty is not won with compromise or "accepting" that certain things cannot be. As a matter of "practical politics" (a phrase I often use), sure, elections aren't won by extreme candidates. But which do you want to win, centrist candidates, or the cause of real liberty?

"Braveheart" had a couple of great lines on how far one is willing to go. The Elder Bruce maintained, "But it is exactly the ability to compromise that makes a man noble." It is easy for people to compromise when their livelihoods are based on power, whether they wield it (politicians) or derive benefits from it (welfare state recipients). When the Princess of Wales offered Wallace the king's bribe, he retorted, "Slaves are made in such ways!"

"But I will stand up for the ownership society and Part D. You refuse to admit that it is built on market principles and that is unfair."

I refuse to admit it because it's patently false. The very fact that government is intervening (i.e. taking money from some people to give to others) means it is NOT free-market. Something can be based on "market principles," but that is NOT the same as a free market where people make purely voluntarily transactions. This is not John Kerry nuance. It's plain fact.

You can keep arguing "ownership society" until you're blue in the face, but it's an absurd phrase while Social Security and Medicare taxes are coerced out of my salary.

"The rest of Medicare is single payer; part D has private insurers competing for subscribers."

Via an infrastructure that government created, thus skewing market forces. Again, not free market.

"As such, it is the one government program that has surprised to the downside both in cost to the government and average premiums to its subscribers."

Which is only so far. People think they can keep credit card under control, too, but how much will they restrain themselves when they're borrowing money in other people's names? Not much.

I will point out for the umpteenth time that even the most conservative estimates show the program has high long-term costs to make Social Security look cheap. Have you ever looked at the full projections? I have.

"A future administration might build on those figures to spread market mechanisms into the rest of Medicare."

Again, it's only the skewing of free market forces. You need to understand the difference between "market forces" that have the appearance of the free market and what is truly the free market.

"The idea of the ownership society is that these mechanisms function like seed crystals. Over time, they become a larger percentage of the structure and crowd out the collectivist portion. It is a bold attempt and it may not work, but it is disingenuous not to recognize the attempt."

That I "recognize" the attempt is a ridiculous demand when the process is just another instance of government intervention. Not recognizing the programs for their proto-socialism IS what is disingenuous.

A real ownership society is one where government butts out and allows people to function on their own. History proves, time and time again, that all the planting of seeds will do is create a larger and larger bureaucracy. Look back to FDR's New Deal, and its constantly failed attempts that kept the U.S. mired in depression. Should we have "recognized the attempt" that he was "pragmatic" in his belief that government needed to "prime the pump"?

"You applauded the try for private Social Security accounts -- that's the exact same thing. Had legislation progressed, there was much talk of increasing benefits to sell it to the Democrats. Were you being a Socialist? Perry was trying to take my money against my will and give it to seniors! What a Communist that Perry is!"

Private accounts are very different from Plan D, because you're using your own money. It's not really free market because the state forces you to save, but you're not being given someone else's money to save. The rest of Social Security is complete socialism, however, just like Plan D. It's a very simple test: is government taking money from someone to give to you?

I support real privatization, namely the abolishment of the whole thing, but I will support private accounts as a first step. It's not enough, but it's legally important: it could force the SCOTUS to recognize people's legitimate claim on what they paid in. You may recall that it ruled otherwise in 1943.

"McClellan did not last long enough, but there was improvement in his tenure. Fast track approvals for terminal conditions and the Pharma funded faster approval process both happened under his watch. (Sadly, I think he was pulled off to do Part D -- that was a dark day for me)."

Which comes down to begging government for permission to do what is our natural right in the first place.

"I got a kick out of your prison sodomy line, but I think you are missing the saddest fact there is. Welfare for seniors is wildly popular beyond those who accept benefits. People like the idea of a safety net for themselves, their parents, and think that it is a component of "a just society." "

Oh, don't think I realize that. Limousine liberals aren't the only ones who feel "good" about coercing others into charity. Liberalism is all about generosity, after all: generosity with other people's money.

"Nine percent libertarians according to Pew. The other 91% are, sadly, very cool with collectivist, nationalized health care and pensions for the elderly. If you will not admit that, you will not be successful in a Madisonian democracy."

It does depend on the question's phrasing. If you ask someone, "Do you believe that people are entitled to the fruits of their labor," they may not realize it's completely at odds with, "Do you believe government should provide a safety net?"

Ask people if they're willing to support Part D to help seniors, then ask them if they're willing to pay massive tax hikes to fund it. Or ask them if they're willing to tax "the top 1% of taxpayers," notwithstanding it's that 1% that provide the business management, savings and investment to create jobs for the rest of us.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at June 26, 2007 5:58 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I forgot to comment further on Roberts and Alito. I'm not saying Bush nominated a pair of Souters. They're actually not bad, but they've disappointed me with past and present rulings. A while back, Professor Bainbridge had a great entry on why "originalist," "textualist" and "strict constructionist," which are often used interchangeably, are really different. So I really wasn't concerned if they were like Scalia and Thomas, who themselves have disappointed me. I don't care if someone's conservative, libertarian or liberal: my single test is how faithfully he will defend the Constitution.

Originally I said on my blog that Alito would be a good choice, and he could well be in the end, but I have a feeling his dispositions might be a problem for our freedom at some point in the future. For example, his dissent in Doe v. Groody was inexcusable. Granted it was when he was a federal appeals court justice, but it shows he's too willing to give police the benefit of the doubt. As my friend Billy Beck charged, the police are a part of government that has no right of presumptive innocence when charged with wrongdoing, by the very fact that they are pre-authorized to use force on behalf of the people.

Now, getting specific with Roberts, his ruling in Hedgepeth v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority was completely inexcusable. That sets the tone for what will happen in the future, I'm afraid. Also, is he consistent? It bothered me during his testimony to the Sente Judiciary Committee that he said he'd be obliged to respect SCOTUS precedent. That doesn't jive at all when he said the Court was correct to rule as it did in Brown v. Board. As you may recall, it was a reversal of Plessy v. Ferguson. So which one does Roberts really believe? Did he say what he did before the committee just to placate abortion litmus test liberals, or will he rule as a matter of convenience for the politics of the president who nominated him?

Pretty good nominees overall, but it's that fraction that may come back to bite us.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at June 26, 2007 10:36 PM

Thoughts from Harrison Bergeron

Great news. I'm close to signing a deal with a new ThreeSources blogger who will write under the nomme de guerre "Harrison Bergeron" (splendid choice, I'm guessing everyone around here will recognize the allusion). We're still negotiating vacation time and perquisites but the recruitment is progressing well.

In the meantime, Harrison has sent "Forget Reagan and Other Random Thoughts"

The 2008 Presidential Election is over a year away and already voters are getting fatigued. In an effort to add to that fatigue, here are a few political musings…

The Republican race for president has been confined to a desperate search for the next Ronald Reagan. The problem with this search is that there is and there will only ever be one Ronald Reagan. Even the candidates seem as though they believe they can win simply by emulating the “Great Communicator.” This is especially evident in Mitt Romney, who is already out on the campaign trail talking about his optimism, while conveying very little. It is true that Reagan’s optimism endeared him to the general public, but this came naturally. With Romney, it seems as though it is forced…

Many are jumping on the Fred Thompson bandwagon. While I commend Thompson for his unconventional campaigning – genuinely blogging, making videos in response to Michael Moore’s idiocy – I am not entirely sure why there exists this outpouring of support. He continues to draw Reagan comparisons, but for the life of me I cannot see how they are similar once you get past the fact that they were both actors…

The Democratic ticket is markedly more entertaining because it is essentially a two-person race. John Edwards can pretend that he is relevant, but Obama and Hillary are the only stars in this race…

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has also entered the race for president. Okay, not officially. However, he has cut ties with the Republican Party, which is the first step in the process to become a third-party candidate. Bloomberg has been a lifelong Republican since 2001…

I am anxiously awaiting the candidate that stands for freedom and liberty…


Posted by John Kranz at 11:09 AM

A Party Without Mayor Bloomberg

I don't want to be pragmatist today. New York City's nanny-in-chief wants to leave the GOP:

After some six years as a Republican, the 65-year-old former CEO announced Tuesday that he has left the Republican Party and become unaffiliated in what many believe could be a step toward entering the 2008 race for president.

Don't let the metaphorical door hit you on your non-metaphorical, trans-fat-bannin', property-right-encroachin', non-smokin' ass on the way out. In six years, he has contributed as much to Republicanism as I have to the hip-hop music genre.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 10:58 AM | What do you think? [5]
But AlexC thinks:

Hear hear.

A political thinker friend of mine sees this as a loss, especially for the money and "moderates".... but I"m thinkin Bloomberg takes more Dems from Hillary.

Posted by: AlexC at June 20, 2007 12:30 PM
But jk thinks:

John Fund agrees with you in PoliticalDiary:

The biggest ding would be to Democrats, who would suddenly find themselves having to defend safe blue territories such as New York and California (86 electoral votes between them). Other states that lean Democratic, such as New Jersey and Connecticut, would also be in play. For their part, Republicans would be forced to compete more intensely in a few states they usually carry, such as Florida (chock full of New York migrants). But it's unlikely Mr. Bloomberg would have much appeal in the South or Midwest GOP strongholds. "How much of a cultural fit can a five-foot, seven-inch culturally liberal Jew from New York City with a Boston accent be in Kansas City?" asks one GOP consultant.

Posted by: jk at June 20, 2007 12:50 PM
But jk thinks:

I'm hoping for a New York perspective on this. But after the Rockies beat the Yankees 3-1 yesterday, I don't know if we'll see any 'round here.

Posted by: jk at June 20, 2007 12:59 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Yeah, a few of us here are...still celebrating! YEAH! I'm not as much a Mets fan as I am a Yankees anti-fan.

Damn Yankees. Those infidel defilers. A hundred and ninety-five million goddamn dollars a year, and they can't beat a team that pays out a quarter of that?

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at June 20, 2007 1:37 PM
But Charlie on the PA Turnpike thinks:

A Bloomberg candidacy would have The Perot effect against Democrats, but not to the same degree as its namesake.

Further to Mr. Fund's analysis, Mr. Perot was a Southern favorite; a Texan, no less. There's no way Mr. Bloomberg can dispel his Northern, limousine reputation. Even as he uses the NYC Subway daily to commute to work, there's little that reflects Southern values.

Posted by: Charlie on the PA Turnpike at June 20, 2007 1:47 PM

June 19, 2007

Well, That's Scientific

A blog ad on Hugh Hewitt's Site:
amnesty_poll.jpg
Amazingly, 18% chose "I Like Amnesty" from this cartoonish "survey"-- on Hewitt's site no less. I picked it, of course, and they're "sorry I feel that way" but provided some links to straighten me out. And it's not too late to change my vote.

UPDATE: Warning! clicking that link counts as an "I Like Amnesty" vote. I can't quite crack the url to just view the results. At least I'm honest.

Immigration Posted by John Kranz at 4:48 PM

Rudy! on Larry!

You missed it? You're kidding! Larry has some sections transcripted.

Posted by John Kranz at 3:20 PM

The Problem with Govt. Research

Suppose President Hillary Clinton and the Democratic 111th Congress get their wish. Much of health care is nationalized, price controls are placed on drugs, and the private pharmaceutical sector is severely reduced in capitalization.

I'm assured by my lefty friends that government research will take up the slack as it has in Europe. While we may have led the way, we cannot deny that some important discoveries have come from such systems.

I'll rebut this without naming an Austrian economist (though the fingers are itching). Even if the same magnitude of money could be directed, I do not trust the decisions that government would make. Research in a powerful Senator's state would receive better funding and the disease of a popular movie star or media figure would be addressed over other choices.

Worse still, the decisions would be made politically -- is that really what anybody wants? I suggest the finest proof for my critique is found in the battle over embryonic stem cell research. Michael Cook has a TCSDaily column today that documents opposition to promising new research that I find to be nakedly political.

Stem cell research has been a great issue for the Democrats. Michael J. Fox asked voters in 2006 to elect Claire McCaskill and Sherrod Brown to the US Senate, where they could overturn those troglodyte right to lifers who would rather see Michael J. Fox suffer than use a clump of cells that will be destroyed anyway. (I paraphrase only a little).

Now that there seems to be a breakthrough:

Only a few days ago an article in the leading journal Nature brought amazing news. A Japanese team at Kyoto University has discovered how to reprogram skin cells so that they "dedifferentiate" into the equivalent of an embryonic stem cell. From this they can be morphed, theoretically, into any cell in the body, a property called pluripotency. It could be the Holy Grail of stem cell science: a technique that is both feasible and unambiguously ethical.

Some scientists are opposed which strikes me as fair. Hay--I mean most people would admit innovation is best served when many people pursue their own beliefs, and if they think that embryonic research is farther along, or shows more promise, have at it.

What concerns me is the opposition from Rep Rahm Emmanuel the famed molecular biologist Democratic Congressional Caucus Chairman. Emmanuel said "It is ironic that every time we vote on this legislation, all of a sudden there is a major scientific discovery that basically says, 'You don't have to do [embryonic] stem cell research.' " .

The Democrats are locked into supporting a line of research for the simple reason that President Bush doesn't like it. This does not strike me as an efficient decision mechanism. And it will only get worse when they control even more of the purse strings.

But Everyday Economist thinks:

I was opposed to the stem cell research bill because I did not believe that such research needed federal funding.

Why doesn't Rep. Emmanuel have the same skeptical belief regarding global warming?

The simple fact is that federal spending can be pointed to by those in elected office as evidence of what they did to help. However, if the results of the spending prove dubious, there is little discussion of the spending at all. However, it is much harder for politicians who opposed federal spending on something that turned out to be ineffective from saying, "look what I protected you, the taxpayer, from funding."

Posted by: Everyday Economist at June 19, 2007 3:08 PM

On Pragmatism

Perry Eidelbus has provided many thoughtful comments at ThreeSources, and I consider his Eidelblog a must read. But I once accused him of "letting the perfect be the enemy of the good" in one of his comments and I must reprise that theme today. It may be more fun to be the purist than the pragmatist but I think pragmatism is going to be in demand through November 2008.

Today, he uses the occasion of a Bush veto threat to post a litany of this administration's departures from limited government: Katrina, the energy bill, the transportation bill, &c. Now I wish that President Bush had found his inner Grover Cleveland and vetoed 413 bills in his first term, but I find Perry's post to be counterproductive.

George Wallace said "there isn't a dime's difference" between the two parties. Pat Buchanan was more colorful when he called them "two wings of the same bird of prey." Thinking of Nixon-Humphrey, Wallace may have had a point. Likewise, in 2000, the election was more partisan than ideological though I'd ask Perry if he thought that VP Al Gore would have been a better steward of our national largesse.

The next presidential election is shaping up to be a clear choice. Democrats are pitching universal preschool (because the government so excels at educating older students), all-day kindergarten, college for all, and the only health care argument seems to be whether there will be any place for private enterprise after the government takeover.

Whacking the current administration when it's down emboldens Democrats, depresses Republicans, and suggests to moderates that perhaps it's time to give the other party a try. Does this mean you cannot criticize President Bush? Certainly not. But both Perry and Captain Ed choose a moment when he is standing up to berate him for years of going along with the GOP Congress. (Didn't either of them ever train a dog?)

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 12:25 PM | What do you think? [9]
But jk thinks:

I'm not saying that you have suddenly turned, but I do stand behind the dog analogy -- reward good behavior.

On Terri’s point, as we're coming to the twilight of the Bush Administration, I am thinking that he was more often on the side of limited government than was the GOP Congress. No Child Left Behind and the Medicare Drug Benefit were questionable, but they did contain some market mechanisms and the President believed in finessing a compromise. Whether you agree or not, they were good faced efforts.

The GOP Congress, by contrast, just turned into incumbents. They showed no courage or leadership, they just enjoyed the perquisites when it was their time in the sun. Now Bush is leaving but Reps Duncan Hunter and Jerry Lewis, and Senators Trent Lott and Chuck Grassley are staying. Maybe the 22nd Amendment was backwards.

Posted by: jk at June 19, 2007 3:39 PM
But Terri thinks:

I'm reading and re-reading and I don't see where I said it was "good" thing to have the president sign everything that was sent to him.

I believe, what I said was if the GOP wants X and they cleaerly want X, then why is it odd that the head of the GOP says, "OK."? He, Bush is getting flack because now, of all times, he has his veto pen out. That doesn't seem odd to me at all. But then again, maybe in my "ignorance" of federalism (?) it's just another thing I don't get. huh?+

Posted by: Terri at June 20, 2007 10:55 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

jk, politicians shouldn't have to be "rewarded," or accoladed for doing the right thing. It's part of their job. Besides, what has Bush done to deserve accolades? Tax cuts, excellent. Private health savings accounts, good. Pushing for Social Security reform, fine. But the rest of his administration has been raping the Constitution, whether it's out-Hitlering Giuliani with the "Patriot" Act, or out-Demming the Democrats with everything from NCLB to the prescription drug bill. Bruce Bartlett calls the latter the worst legislation ever passed, and he could be right.

Bush could have been a great president, but he destroyed any possibility of that by trying to keep his party in power by supporting massive government and thereby buy votes. He spoke of limited government in the 2000 campaign so he could show some traditional conservative credentials and beat McCain. Come 2004 with no challengers in his own party, he could formally come out as a fan of big government. Contrary to what one of my liberal friends says, Medicare Part D wasn't so much a giveaway to pharmaceuticals as it was garnering senior support -- especially in Florida.

Terri, this is what you wrote: "Bush is the head of the Republican Party I would think if the Republican controlled Congress send him a bill to sign, he should be able to assume they've discussed it's merits and want it signed."

If you think this is the way to do things, do you not also think it is "good"?

The President is a check on *Congress*, whether or not his party is in power. The President took an oath to the Constitution and American people, not his party or its interests. His party can discuss a bill all they want, but is it in *their* interests, or the interests of those who will ultimately pay for the legislation?

The only thing worse than Republicans controlling the White House and Congress is the Democrats controlling both.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at June 20, 2007 2:01 PM
But jk thinks:

Virtue is its own reward, I'm sure. I was just questioning the timing of complaining when somebody has done something right.

On the Bush Presidency in general, your comments have sparked a surprisingly fulsome defense of our 43rd prez -- scroll up to June 20, 2007

Posted by: jk at June 20, 2007 4:29 PM
But Terri thinks:

It's expected. The good part is not the point. The bill signing without veto would be expected because the bill originated amongst party members of which the president is the head.

Posted by: Terri at June 20, 2007 5:47 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Terri, rubber-stamping your party's own bill shouldn't even be "expected." Two of the things Clinton did right were NAFTA and welfare reform, completely bucking his party. But it's like the Bruces in "Braveheart": one side of the same coin supports what's good, and the other side opposes. Thus Clinton did what was in fact good for the economy, but his party remained officially against it and so retained support from labor unions and minorities.

I expect the President to follow his oath to the Constitution and American people, not call it a "goddamn piece of paper." If you look through the Constitution, there's nothing about parties. It's about each branch of the federal government acting against the other two, not two branches working together.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at June 22, 2007 3:10 PM

June 18, 2007

Craziest U.N. Claim Ever?

Dan Luskin brings our attention to a whopper: Global Warming caused Darfur crisis!

In a WaPo guest editorial, Secretary General Ban Ki Moon makes me question whether we have taken a step up from kleptocrat Kofi Annan. He's proud of the UN's contributions to combating both climate change and Sudanese genocide in Darfur. But, aren't they really the same problem?

It would be natural to view these as distinct developments. In fact, they are linked. Almost invariably, we discuss Darfur in convenient military and political shorthand -- an ethnic conflict pitting Arab militias against black rebels and farmers. Look to its roots, though, and you discover a more complex dynamic. Amid the diverse social and political causes, the Darfur conflict began as an ecological crisis, arising at least in part from climate change.

Luskin says "Oh please..." I can't top that.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:26 AM | What do you think? [3]
But AlexC thinks:

There was an article in Time a few months ago (I thought I blogged it), but it was the same point.

I guess that whole Islam-Christian thing hasn't crossed anyone's mind.

Posted by: AlexC at June 18, 2007 12:04 PM
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

This is really very simple. Bush did not sign Kyoto. This caused the world temps to go up. This resulted in countries like China and India to try to industrialize faster so they could Terraform Mars and other planets. So they could escape the death of Gai. So they need oil, which is in Sudan ... and that caused a political issue that could not be solved in the UN because Bush also put Bolton in place.


BUSH KILLED BROWN PEOPLE FOR OIL!

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at June 18, 2007 12:35 PM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

BUSH KILLED BROWN PEOPLE FOR OIL!
Posted by mdmhvonpa at June 18, 2007 12:35 PM

Damn! And here all along, I was thinking it was the Untied Nations that was killing all the brown people! ;-)

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at June 18, 2007 8:34 PM

Democrats Seek Bill to Kill American Poor

A guest Editorial in the WSJ uses the less provocative headline "Uncle Sam, M.D." (Paid link)

But never, never forget that increased government in the regulation of pharmaceuticals costs lives. Dr. Scott Gottlieb opens his article with an important story of expanding the use of a compound outside of its approval aegis.

Almost 13 years after the drug Bexxar was first used in cancer patients, the Food and Drug Administration cleared it for marketing in June 2003 to treat a particularly deadly form of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Bexxar represents a leading edge of cancer innovation, attaching a radioactive payload to a protein that is designed to hone in on cancer cells and unload its toxic cargo. The drug isn't a certain cure but has clearly prolonged many lives in its four years on the market, and might have already benefited twice as many patients if it didn't spend an equal number of years awaiting FDA approval.

The same thing happened to Erbitux. While Dr. Waksal and Martha Stewart were in court, prison, or house arrest, and imClone was performing two years additional testing for a use the company did not recommend, people were dying of colon cancer at the rate of 15,000 per year.

After it was approved, it was found effective in treating other forms of cancer -- upping the death toll from keeping it off the market for two years and stifling innovation.

No bad deed goes unrewarded in government. A new, Democratic led 110th Congress is seeking broader powers for the FDA:

The new drug safety legislation, which is attached to a larger bill that renews the FDA's principal funding stream called the Prescription Drug User Fee Act, will change the way drugs are used by patients through provisions that give the FDA more control of medicines after they are approved. One central measure would put the FDA squarely in the role of regulating medical decisions in order to "manage" drug risks -- by giving the agency unprecedented new authority to control the way drugs are distributed by pharmacies and prescribed by physicians. It's a watershed measure, one that will grant the FDA some of the same responsibility for regulating medical practice that has been traditionally left to the states and professional medical bodies.

Please call your representatives. Tell them not to allow the Democrats to keep new drug innovations away from our nation's poor. It's just not right.

But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Why would Dumb-o-crats want to kill America's poor. That's most of their electoral base, right?

FWIW, as a member of the medical field, sometimes its the old "money talks, BS walks" principle with pharmaceuticals. Too many drugs get green-lighted without the proper testing and many target-specific drugs, like Bexxar, get delayed because there's no profit in them.

My $0.02

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at June 18, 2007 8:38 PM
But jk thinks:

You're taking me down a more partisan road than I like to travel, trek, but trust me: their policies can create plenty more poor people. No need to worry about attrition when we have price-gouging and minimum wage laws with a huge marginal rate on the nation's producers.

I'm not sure I buy your assessment of pharmaceutical approval. I hate to do it by anecdote but several potential blockbuster compounds have been ground down by the FDA. On the other side, I'd ask you to name one drug that was approved in the last decade with inadequate testing.

Frankly, I wish I believed you; a more bribable FDA would be a great boon to innovation. I'm afraid we're stuck with our petty bureaucrats.

Posted by: jk at June 19, 2007 10:42 AM

June 17, 2007

Fathers

To all the dedicated fathers out there, happy Father's Day. I must say, now that I am one, I finally "get it." Yesterday's Paul Harvey essay "What dads are made of" [Starts at 9:29. Drag the progress bar.) brought tears to my eyes, as did Tim McGraw's "My little girl" (more so than it does on any other day.)

Kevin Helliker writes in the WSJ weekend edition A Father's Legacy, where he uses his wife's loss of her father at age 8 to examine the influence dads have on their children at a young age.

And their memories can offer insight into mysteries that living fathers ponder: How much of me would my child remember if I died today? Am I really having any impact on a 5-year-old? What is the most important message I can communicate to my child?

The positive memories of these children stand apart at a time when even advocates of fatherhood measure its power in largely negative terms. Recent research into parenting has produced reams of studies about the toll exacted by dads who are divorced, deadbeat, distant, alcoholic, workaholic, abusive or just plain lazy, forcing Mom to carry the load. The premier work of David Popenoe, perhaps the most-quoted expert on fatherhood in America, is called "Life Without Father."

The relentless focus on negative role models has created a recent phenomenon that could be called the defensive dad. He is the dad who scrambles to change diapers, toss balls, call the pediatrician, coach soccer and read bedtime stories not because he recognizes the power of his influence: He's just trying to stay out of trouble. Even if he sidesteps all the pitfalls that bad-dad experts warn about, even if he attains something akin to paternal perfection, he will continue to hear the pervasive message that Dad matters less than Mom.

(...)

But without any hope of hearing her father say he is proud, my wife still strives to please him. In her mind, the sound of his voice still echoes, calling her smart, calling her pretty, laughing at her jokes. Twenty-five years after his praise fell silent, being worthy of it still means everything to her.

(...)

Little science exists about the lasting influence of dead fathers, but outcome data suggest that it is powerful. Such data show that children who lose a father fare significantly better than those whose father is alive but not present, and nearly as well as those who never lose theirs.

But the focus of parenting theory is changing:

After years of studying the role of mothers in early life, psychoanalysts are turning with fervor to the influence of fathers. Just last year, an international consortium of Freudian analysts convened a seminar at Columbia University called "The Dead Father," based in part on the premise that the role of the father in early childhood has been underappreciated. "The father has tended to get left out of the theorizing," says Stuart Taylor, a Columbia University psychiatrist who helped organize the seminar.

[Like water vapor in climate theory, no doubt.]

Sigmund Freud's description of the father as godlike, an omnipotent figure that imposes law and order, perpetuated the long-held cultural belief that Dad becomes relevant as his offspring ages. But psychiatrists increasingly realize that when a child receives love, approval and guidance from a godlike figure, the young psyche develops a crucial sense of importance, one that can outlast the early death of the father, or the eventual recognition of him as merely human.

In my brief experience as a father I've found that giving this love, approval and guidance to my children is as profound an influence on me as I hope it is on them. And that magnified sense of importance? That goes both ways too.

Philosophy Posted by JohnGalt at 10:24 AM | What do you think? [3]
But jk thinks:

Nice post, jg. Happy Father's Day to you and AlexC and all the other dads in commentland.

My father died in 1994 but it is a great comfort to me that I worked with him for four years. We fought like cats and dogs, of course, but I got to know him a lot better than my older brothers did. And I learned quite a bit.

Posted by: jk at June 17, 2007 11:28 AM
But AlexC thinks:

Amen to that.

Every son should work with his father, if possible.

You see the other side of your dad. Best experience i ever had. Bar none.

Posted by: AlexC at June 17, 2007 9:58 PM
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

Amen. As my father and I grow older, we grow closer than ever. I think my son sees that being in the 'boys club' takes more than just a bit of chromosome difference.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at June 17, 2007 10:20 PM

June 16, 2007

Realignment

I used to dream of realignment that Professor Reynolds speaks of

Frankly, that's okay with me. I've long been unhappy with both Democrats and Republicans. The GOP has been better on national security, though that advantage is fading with time, but overall both parties have been lame and more likely to unite in opposition to citizens' rights and liberties than to compete in protecting them. I've often at least sort-of hoped for a third party that would combine the GOP economic-libertarian strands with the Dems' social-libertarian strands. I don't know if the GOP's self-destruction makes that more likely, but it seems like it might. At any rate, if people really want to commit suicide it's hard to stop them, and that seems to be the GOP's main goal at the moment..

Terri at I Think (Link) Therefore I Err is on board as well. I don't remember when I became the cynic, but I left this comment:
I’d probably sign up as well. Especially if they took Glenn’s reader’s tag line: “Dreaming of an America where millions of happily married gay couples have closets full of assault weapons.”

The problems are:
– a Pew poll puts the number of libertarians at 9%. Not gonna light up the electoral map with that unless we all move to Wyoming.
– Read Brain Dougherty’s “Radicals for Capitalism.” Every time a group of Libertarians numbers more than ten, they will split up and never talk to each other (People’s Front of Judea!)

I agree with the Professor on civil liberties but not immigration. Ron Paul’s with us on spending but I can’t go for his isolationism.

What you’re dreaming of is a plurality of people who agree with you and are able to exercise power. Madisonian Democracy dictates that you have to align yourself with some folks you may not agree with.


Great to dream about a party where we agree with everybody. But it is not likely. In 2008, we will choose between a President who will fight Islamist terror and keep the Bush tax cuts against one who will promise Universal Healthcare, Universal preschool, all-day kindergarten and "College for all!" -- right after we retreat from Iraq and close Guantanamo Bay.

If I must align myself with the likes of Senators Trent Lott, or John McCain to ensure that, I will.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 5:39 PM

Review Corner

Two films new to DVD.

Norbit, starring Eddie Murphy and Eddie Murphy and Eddie Murphy... Peter Sellers and Alec Guinness have made the most memorable of these films. Murphy plays almost every character, from the eponymous dweeby orphan male lead to his obese and unpleasant wife, and to the Chinese racist who runs the orphanage.

Murphy has the talent to pull this off and the film is generally amusing. But do not expect hidden bits of nuance and intelligence. It's all slapstick, juvenile fair -- done pretty well, mind you, but there is nothing more. I'll give it two and a half stars.

Breach, on the other hand, exceeded expectations. It is a tight, structured telling of the Robert Hanssen story, with the protagonist being the new agent in training who is assigned to keep an eye on him in his last months before retirement. It is well paced and suspenseful.

I don't know the historical details and I will not vouch for its accuracy, Much is made of Hanssen's devout Catholicism and you can sense underlying Hollywood giddiness to have a villain who goes to daily mass. Is life good or what?

Nonetheless, they have so much time and get to pick the stories they want to tell. This is told well, acted well, and answers Silence Dogood's question of "Whatever happened to Caroline Dhavernas?" Three and three quarter stars.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 12:20 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

Three and three-quarters? Mmmmm, nuance!

Posted by: johngalt at June 16, 2007 1:05 PM
But jk thinks:

The NYSE finally went decimal. It's only a matter of time.

Posted by: jk at June 16, 2007 4:36 PM

June 15, 2007

Baghdad Harry

Dean Barnett:

reid4za3.jpg

Posted by John Kranz at 2:37 PM

Who's surprised?

The Raw Story:

"Usually, if a turd gets into the Senate, it’s because he or she was elected," Emily Heil reports for Roll Call. "But on Wednesday, several large piles of actual, nonmetaphorical 'No. 2' found their way into the Capitol, and the source isn’t yet clear."

Hat-tip: Don Luskin, who prints an email of mine today (Good blogger, have a biscuit!)

110th Congress Posted by John Kranz at 1:16 PM

One-eyed Democrat

Because he has actually cut taxes in his life, NM Gov Bill Richardson is held out to be the "reasonable" Democrat. People really want to believe -- it's like a unicorn.ReviewJournal.com reports:

Richardson called for universal preschool and full-day kindergarten; more civics, language and arts instruction in schools; a $40,000 minimum wage for teachers; and a reform of the No Child Left Behind legislation. He said he would propose a "universal scholarship" to help every student attend college or vocational school.

Free Root Beer, Bill! Everybody loves free root beer!

Hat-tip Insty who linked to a TNR post because "an audience member had to remind [Ambassador] Richardson that France is a member of the U.N. Security Council."

2008 Race Posted by John Kranz at 11:28 AM

Little CH4 Producer!

Terri is calf-blogging over at I Think ^(Link) Therefore I Err.

Gotta love Fridays.

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 11:17 AM

Payback can be a ...

Kim Strassel says (free link) that the 110th Congress Democrats have now made legislative payments to their funding constituencies. "First came Big Labor. Then the tort lawyers. What special interest lobby remains for the Democratic majority to reward for services rendered this past election?"

It's the environmentalists. Shades of Vaclav Klaus, they will use green language to get unprecedented power over land use and the economy.

These are the folks who helped write the "energy" bill that passed committee this week. Broadly, the bill fulfills one big ambition of environmental groups in recent years: a rollback of any smarter use of public (or even private) lands for energy use. Gone are previous gains for more drilling, more refineries, more transmission lines. But the big prize was an unprecedented new power allowing green groups to micromanage U.S. lands. That section creates "a new national policy on wildlife and global warming." It would require the Secretary of the Interior to "assist" species in adapting to global warming, as well as "protect, acquire and restore habitat" that is "vulnerable" to climate change. This is the Endangered Species Act on steroids. At least under today's (albeit dysfunctional) species act, outside groups must provide evidence a species is dwindling in order for the government to step in. This law would have no such requirements. Since green groups will argue that every species is vulnerable to climate change, the government will be obliged to manage every acre containing a bird, bee or flower.

It's a green dream come true, carte blanche to promulgate endless regulations barring tree-cutting, house-building, water-damming, snowmobile-riding, waterskiing, garden-planting, or any other human activity. The section is vague ("protect," "assist," "restore") precisely so as to leave the door open to practically anything. In theory, your friendly Fish & Wildlife representative could even command you to start applying sunblock to your resident chipmunks' noses.


"Endangered Species Act on steroids." And crack. And she's outta crack...

President Bush will veto this. But we must not let internecine strife keep us from electing a Republican president in 2008.

110th Congress Posted by John Kranz at 9:35 AM

June 14, 2007

Vaclav Klaus

The man who would lead the United Nations in a perfect world, Vaclav Klaus, gets today's OpinionJournal Political Diary's "Quote of the Day."

"As someone who lived under communism for most of his life, I feel obliged to say that I see the biggest threat to freedom, democracy, the market economy and prosperity now in ambitious environmentalism, not in communism.... The environmentalists ask for immediate political action because they do not believe in the long-term positive impact of economic growth and ignore both the technological progress that future generations will undoubtedly enjoy, and the proven fact that the higher the wealth of society, the higher is the quality of the environment.... The issue of global warming is more about social than natural sciences and more about man and his freedom than about tenths of a degree Celsius changes in average global temperature" -- Czech President Vaclav Klaus, writing in the Financial Times.

UPDATE: Don Luskin links to the FT article. Well worth a read.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:15 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

What? "...environmentalism, not in communism?" They're the same thing!

Klaus alluded to this fact with this line from his essay: "The dictates of political correctness are strict and only one permitted truth, not for the first time in human history, is imposed on us. Everything else is denounced." [emphasis mine]

There is value in his recasting of the battle, however. Opposing communism is just so passe today.

Posted by: johngalt at June 15, 2007 3:14 PM

Darkness and anti-modernity

A frined sends this:

I love modernity but it's nice to see the old school stuff come through.

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 10:20 AM

June 13, 2007

Quote of the Day

Leaders from the eight wealthiest countries in the world gathered in Germany for what they call the G8 Summit. The G8 was created in 1975 to give Europeans who aren’t into soccer something to riot about. -- Jay Leno
Posted by John Kranz at 4:58 PM | What do you think? [1]
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

As Ruth Buzzi would say on "Laugh-in:" 'And that's the truth - phhht!'

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at June 13, 2007 5:41 PM

Limits of Pigou

Greg Mankiw admits in a post today that Pigouvian taxation has limits, but he leaves it up to his commenters to decide where to put the limits. A friend of his writes:

Our daughter commented yesterday that "almost all cars are silver or gold, which are boring colors" and that "you should only be allowed to have a boring color if you pay extra for a special permit." We weren't sure we agreed with her evaluation of the external effects of car colors, but we were delighted that she'd learned you should use a tax to address an externality!

I think government work is the career for this young woman. She's obviously got what it takes. And I appreciate his publishing this. It's an ideal illustration of why the correct limit is NO PIGOVIAN TAXES EVER!

Mankiw, with whom I agree on most everything but his Pigou Club, likes their efficiency, and considers reducing carbon output a worthy place to employ them. I suggest that taxes are to raise revenue and not shape society. I don't want to give government yet another tool for coercion.

And, honey, it's Silver Mica. I like it.

But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

As I read that, I wasn't thinking as far as government being the perfect career for her, but I couldn't help thinking that she's like any government bureaucrat: her idiot conclusion is based on an idiotic observation, which Hayek would point out is based on limited information.

"almost all cars are silver or gold, which are boring colors"

And just how does the little brat know this, hmm? On my street, I can't recall a single car that's either silver or gold.

Children often say the most asinine things. Politicians almost always say the most asinine things.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at June 13, 2007 2:43 PM

June 12, 2007

Makin' Us Proud

Blog Brother AlexC guesses the Extreme Mortman Trivia Question last week. Those babies are too hard for me.

The answer is "Warm Springs, Georgia." Can you, like ac, guess the question?

Posted by John Kranz at 3:21 PM

Well, did you guys renew?

Larry Kudlow links to "the good news" in the Washington Times that CAIR membership is down 90%:

The number of reported members spiraled down from more than 29,000 in 2000 to fewer than 1,700 in 2006. As a result, the Muslim rights group's annual income from dues dropped from $732,765 in 2000, when yearly dues cost $25, to $58,750 last year, when the group charged $35.

Me, I see it as an extreme example of price inelasticity -- clearly $35 is too high.

Posted by John Kranz at 3:00 PM

Big money in Communism?

Don Luskin links to a tale of two Communist bookstores in Chicago. One is for profit and is doing well, though the profits sound far from obscene:

The store is a for-profit venture, he said, but added, "It doesn't make money. It needs contributions from people who see the importance of this space and what it brings to the political and ideological debates in society."

A competitor comrade, non-profit Communist bookstore is not doing so well:
The situation is more dire at the New World Resource Center, an alternative leftist bookstore and meeting space at 1300 N. Western. NWRC has been in operation at a variety of locations in Chicago since the early '70s, and is a meeting place for a wide variety of leftist groups ranging from the Green Party, Vietnam Veterans Against the War, and Industrial Workers of the World. It sells a wide range of books, magazines, T-shirts, homemade zines, and buttons.

But a recent decline in grant funding for the store has its all-volunteer staff scrambling to generate revenue. Unlike Revolution Books, the New World Resource Center operates as a non-profit organization, according to NWRC board president Rob Bunting.


Perhaps, Hayek and Smith were right and the pricing information is vital to the success of the enterprise, even if the bar for that success is not maximizing free cash flow to equity.

On a more serious note, this month's Reason magazine has a story on Hayekian Socialism. Once you silence all the oxymoron meters in your house, it is an interesting read (UPDATE: available here). It describes socialists who have recognized the benefits of a free market yet still seek to use state power to provide "more fairness." Mandating employee ownership, ad yadda.

An interesting idea was to give every American $80,000 on his/her majority birthday (18? 21?), to give everyone "choiceworthy" lives. I rolled my eyes a little but remain intrigued. We get rid of every other government benefit, all of which carry incentives against production and productivity and give everybody his welfare lump sum. You can't say you didn't have a chance at the American dream; you could have bought a business or made a significant down payment on a home. Productive citizens will generate revenue from it. Non productive citizens will be a one time burden and perhaps their crack dealer will invest it wisely. Then we go back to private charity to take care of those who still fail.

Again, I'm pretty happy with lasseiz faire. If we must -- and I think we must -- redistribute income, I like a simpler method with better incentives than the morass we have today.

Workers of the world, unite!

But Everyday Economist thinks:

Here is a link where you can download the Reason article.

Posted by: Everyday Economist at June 13, 2007 2:19 PM
But jk thinks:

Updated, thanks!

Posted by: jk at June 13, 2007 5:34 PM

2nd Annual "I'm still kicking" party

Attention Colorado ThreeSourcers (and others, we'll put you up in the basement). We are throwing a party to celebrate my lovely bride's second year back from the hospital. Berkeley Square will play, much fun will be had.


Nissi’s has great food and superb desserts. We have rented the place so there is no cover charge. Plan on having a great time. It’s a good sized club, feel free to bring anybody.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:00 AM | What do you think? [4]
But johngalt thinks:

Hey, you're on their calendar!

Posted by: johngalt at June 12, 2007 2:48 PM
But jk thinks:

-- just hoping we make it on your calandar, jg...

Posted by: jk at June 12, 2007 3:00 PM
But Terri thinks:

Dang - I have to miss. Going to Madeleine Peyroux. Have heard great things about Berkeley Square though And would have liked to meet you all!

Posted by: Terri at June 13, 2007 11:29 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Why, of course!

Posted by: johngalt at June 14, 2007 3:06 PM

June 11, 2007

Arlen Specter is now "Top Republican"

The AP Headline reads "Top Republican to vote against Gonzales"

Leader McConnell? No, following the link I found out that Senator Arlen Specter is the top Republican. Well, he is the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee. I fear it's gone to his head. He talks about himself in the third person now:

"If you ask Arlen Specter, do I have confidence in Attorney General Gonzales, the answer is a resounding no," Specter said during a news conference in Philadelphia. "I'm going to vote that I have no confidence in Attorney General Gonzales."

If you ask jk, that's never a good sign.

But TrekMedic251 thinks:

He's a "Top Republican" to the MSM world because that godd***ed RINO thinks like a good little Demo-Socialist!

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at June 11, 2007 8:31 PM

More Sex

Oh No It's another post about economics!

Steven Landsburg's newest book is called "More Sex Is Safer Sex: The Unconventional Wisdom of Economics." If the contents are on par with his guest commentary in the Wall Street Journal today, he won't even need the captivating title. Seriously, in a short piece Landsburg hits some of my deepest beliefs.

I mentioned Deepak Lal the other day. Landsburg charts human economic progress a little less dryly:

Modern humans first emerged about 100,000 years ago. For the next 99,800 years or so, nothing happened. Well, not quite nothing. There were wars, political intrigue, the invention of agriculture -- but none of that stuff had much effect on the quality of people's lives. Almost everyone lived on the modern equivalent of $400 to $600 a year, just above the subsistence level. True, there were always tiny aristocracies who lived far better, but numerically they were quite insignificant.

Then -- just a couple of hundred years ago, maybe 10 generations -- people started getting richer. And richer and richer still. Per capita income, at least in the West, began to grow at the unprecedented rate of about three quarters of a percent per year. A couple of decades later, the same thing was happening around the world.

Then it got even better. By the 20th century, per capita real incomes, that is, incomes adjusted for inflation, were growing at 1.5% per year, on average, and for the past half century they've been growing at about 2.3%. If you're earning a modest middle-class income of $50,000 a year, and if you expect your children, 25 years from now, to occupy that same modest rung on the economic ladder, then with a 2.3% growth rate, they'll be earning the inflation-adjusted equivalent of $89,000 a year. Their children, another 25 years down the line, will earn $158,000 a year.

Against a backdrop like that, the temporary ups and downs of the business cycle seem fantastically minor. In the 1930s, we had a Great Depression, when income levels fell back to where they had been 20 years earlier. For a few years, people had to live the way their parents had always lived, and they found it almost intolerable. The underlying expectation -- that the present is supposed to be better than the past -- is a new phenomenon in history. No 18th-century politician would have asked "Are you better off than you were four years ago?" because it never would have occurred to anyone that they ought to be better off than they were four years ago.


When environmentalists are so quick to trade away "only 1% of GDP growth" for their pet project, keep in mind this is coming out of your grandchildren's quality of life. He also nails the Alan Reynolds concept of the wealth and quality of life improvements that are not captured in statistics>
As far as the quality of the goods we buy, try picking up an electronics catalogue from, oh, say, 2001 and ask yourself whether there's anything there you'd want to buy. That was the year my friend Ben spent $600 for a 1.3-megapixel digital camera that weighed a pound and a half. What about services, such as health care? Would you rather purchase today's health care at today's prices or the health care of, say, 1970 at 1970 prices? I don't know any informed person who would choose 1970, which means that despite all the hype about costs, health care now is a better bargain than it's ever been before.

The moral is that increases in measured income -- even the phenomenal increases of the past two centuries -- grossly understate the real improvements in our economic condition. The average middle-class American might have a smaller measured income than the European monarchs of the Middle Ages, but I suspect that Tudor King Henry VIII would have traded half his kingdom for modern plumbing, a lifetime supply of antibiotics and access to the Internet.


He says the source is technological progress and innovation in both design and capitalization. I think it is a short hop from this to recognizing freedom and Hayekian distributed control.
The source of this wealth -- the engine of prosperity -- is technological progress. And the engine of technological progress is ideas -- not just the ideas from engineering laboratories, but also ideas like new methods of crop rotation, or just-in-time inventory management. You can fly from New York to Tokyo partly because someone figured out how to build an airplane and partly because someone figured out how to insure it. I'm writing this on a personal computer instead of an electric typewriter partly because someone said, "Hey! I wonder if we can make computer chips out of silicon!" and partly because someone said "Hey! I wonder if we can finance startups with junk bonds!"

The few paragraphs I have not stolen are worth a read as well.

Hat-tip: Everyday Economist

But Bradford Young thinks:

I believe Mr. Landsburg has the order wrong. The explosion of technological improvements over the last 300 years is connected with the growth of the idea of personal freedom and the right to property. If you read Thomas E. Brown's book on the Catholic Church as the fount of Western Civilization, you will read that the monasteries were hotbeds of innovation, technological and otherwise. Monks renounce their right to property when they take the vow to poverty. Maybe Henry VIII's rape of the English monateries inadvertently released a store of technology previously unavailable to the secular state. Perhaps this was the first open-source system!

Posted by: Bradford Young at June 12, 2007 2:40 PM
But jk thinks:

I'm not sure I see where your point is inconsistent with Landsburg. Maybe it's me, but I made a mental leap to accepting freedom as the enabler of technological progress. Without freedom, Hayek and Schumpeter don't work.

I have not read the Brown book. But a friend of this blog turned me on to Michael Novak's "Spirit of Democratic Capitalism." The Church seemed to have a gift for enabling freedom and innovation, then squelching it with a devotion to collectivism.

Posted by: jk at June 12, 2007 2:59 PM

The Fred! Bubble

When I start agreeing with George Will, it's clearly time to rethink my position.

Wait a minute, I love George Will. He writes well. He ties history into politics. He understands baseball. But you must admit that he is the picture of conservative conventional wisdom. When I broke with Peggy Noonan, one of the things that angered me was that she was somehow tuning into George Will, choosing to take a brave stand at an inopportune moment and poison the cause she champions.

Blog friend EverydayEconomist sends a link to a George Will column on Fred! There is much I agree with.

Some say he is the Republicans' Rorschach test: They all see in him what they crave. Or he might be the Republicans' dot-com bubble, the result of restless political investors seeking value that the untutored eye might not discern and that might be difficult to quantify but which the investors are sure must be there, somewhere, somehow.

I've said roughly the same thing, but Will knows how to spell "Rorschach."

The main point, that the Thompson Boom is just a bubble, is unproven. Will and I concede that there might be some genius in staying out of an early campaign season. That question remains unanswered, as does "why does every batter take on 3-0?" Actually, Will might know that one.

2008 Race Posted by John Kranz at 11:40 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Fred Thompson is probably a KGB plant to siphon GOP support from one of the leading candidates (who could actually make America stronger) and dupe them into electing a dimwitted yokel as our president.

Kidding! Personally, I'm waiting to see the Rudy! Mitt! Fred! debate(s). (And Fred is waiting so he doesn't have to share a stage with the GOP Lilliputians.) Those will test the meddle of all three of them.

Posted by: johngalt at June 11, 2007 2:54 PM

June 10, 2007

Who won the Cold War?

Former KGB agent and Soviet defector Yuri Bezmenov explains how the KGB worked from within American universities to demoralize our society in a generation.

Hat-tip: Pajamas Media

Posted by John Kranz at 6:42 PM | What do you think? [2]
But Terri thinks:

Interesting, but I wonder what year this was made? The glasses, the pants...
If our demoralization was complete say in 1975, then I'd say that we're doing pretty darn good.

Posted by: Terri at June 10, 2007 11:14 PM
But jk thinks:

I would like to know more about it as well. It's a startling accusation and were it not for verisimilitude, I'd ignore it completely.

Say it was complete in '75. I'd posit that we still have not recovered and that the campus loyalty for Che Guevara and Yassir Arafat are just outgrowths from this same seeding.

Posted by: jk at June 11, 2007 10:27 AM

Lefties against DAWG

Blog buddy Sugarchuck sends a link to The Nation. Two Nation links in a month -- that has gotta be a record. Again it is DAWG apostate Alexander Cockburn providing devastating heterodoxy

The Achilles' heel of the computer models, the cornerstone of CO2 fearmongering, is their failure to deal with water. As vapor, it's a more important greenhouse gas than CO2 by a factor of twenty, yet models have proven incapable of dealing with it. The global water cycle is complicated, with at least as much unknown as is known. Water starts by evaporating from oceans, rivers, lakes and moist ground, enters the atmosphere as water vapor, condenses into clouds and precipitates as rain or snow. Each step is influenced by temperature and each water form has an enormous impact on global heat processes. Clouds have a huge, inaccurately quantified effect on heat received from the sun. Water on the Earth's surface has different effects on the retention of the sun's heat, depending on whether it's liquid, which is quite absorbent; ice, which is reflective; or snow, which is more reflective than ice. Such factors cause huge swings in the Earth's heat balance and interact in ways that are beyond the ability of computer climate models to predict.

The first global warming modelers simply threw up their hands at the complexity of the water problem and essentially left out the atmospheric water cycle. Over time a few features of the cycle were patched into the models, all based on unproven guesses at the effect of increased ocean evaporation on clouds, the effect of clouds on reflecting the sun's energy and the effect of cloud warming on rainfall and snow. All of these equations are hopelessly inadequate to describe the water cycle's role.


Cockburn defended himself against critics last May. Now he implies that global warming is something of a capitalist plot to pave the way for nuclear power (We are reading The Nation, still).

But johngalt thinks:

Water has a unique property that causes it to expand when it freezes (most compounds shrink) thus giving ice a lower density than water and making it float on the surface of lakes and oceans rather than sink to the bottom and destroy life on earth. An equally important property of "dihydrogen oxide" is the energy required to convert it from state to state. Converting from solid to liquid and also from liquid to vapor takes many times as much energy as is required to raise the temperature of its mass. This state conversion energy potential thus serves as a gigantic moderator on the earth's temperature. When energy is in excess, more of the planet's water is in the form of vapor. When in relative decline, the ice mass is greater. All the while the earth's temperature remains in a far narrower range than would be the case in the absence of planetary water.

Presumably the would-be climate modelers hypothesized that the effect of water vapor was constant, as the mass of water on the planet is constant. The reality, though, is that without water we'd be witnessing such dramatic temperature fluctuations from year to year that nobody would dare claim that humans could affect it.

This then is my beer fortified thesis on the subject.

Posted by: johngalt at June 12, 2007 12:23 AM
But jk thinks:

Because water was difficult to account for in their models, they just left it out.

Whom do they think they are -- economists?????

Posted by: jk at June 12, 2007 7:03 PM

Remember Me

Do you remember me? Do you know who I am? I'm your son daughter brother sister husband wife father mother uncle aunt nephew neice grandson granddaughter boyfriend girlfriend cousin best friend fiancee neighbor. Aren't you proud? Are you still there? Did I do something wrong? Did I make you angry? Aren't you missing me? Because I miss you. I need you to support me. To be behind me. I need you to tell me that you'll be waiting for me. Why? You're what I'm fighting for. I want to come home to smiling faces. But if I don't... I need to know That you love me And that you'll miss me. I do my job. I don't ask for much. Some people hate me. But I don't complain. All I want is for you to say, "I'm proud of you." "I remember." I am lucky and grateful to have you in my life. I love you. I miss you. I'll be home soon.

These are the words of Lizzie Palmer's YouTube video that while profound, are not nearly as moving in plain text as in her video presentation.

The clip is sweeping the internet (11.7M views and counting) and made Lizzie Chris Wallace's "Power Player of the Week." [Not a permalink]

Chris Wallace said Lizzie plans to join the army when she graduates from high school. I'm taken by the maturity of this 15 year-old, and her ability to grasp the power and value of abstract ideas despite her likely education in public schools. Commenters on messages.snopes.com think it is a "Glurgey piece of crap."

You decide.

But jk thinks:

I had seen it but had no idea it was the product of a fifteen year old. What an honor to share a country with a young lady like Ms. Palmer.

Posted by: jk at June 10, 2007 5:57 PM

June 9, 2007

For God's Sake, Please Stop!

If you read only one thing today, please read my "The Case Against Rep. Ron Paul."

If you have time for a second post, read this interview in Spiegel with a Kenyan Economist. "James Shikwati, says that aid to Africa does more harm than good. The avid proponent of globalization spoke with SPIEGEL about the disastrous effects of Western development policy in Africa, corrupt rulers, and the tendency to overstate the AIDS problem."

It's the finest Primer in unintended consequences you're likely to see. Good hearted German youths send clothes to Africa. Shikwati asks why: "nobody is freezing here." It ruins the livelihoods of local tailors, and the clothes frequently end up going back to Europe on eBay.

Hat-tip: Terri @ I link..., who ties it to Merkel's demand for more African Aid.

But johngalt thinks:

So to encapsulate these two posts...

If you want progress and prosperity in the world, don't hand out charity to those who lag behind you, give them security (i.e. freedom from coercion) instead.

Works for me.

Posted by: johngalt at June 10, 2007 2:19 AM
But jk thinks:

US policy vs. Europe. We're halfway there, now if we could just get Bono on board.

Posted by: jk at June 10, 2007 6:24 PM

The Case Against Rep Ron Paul

Perry Eidlebus of Eidelblog directs me to a post suggesting that Mayor Giuliani’s famous takedown of Rep Ron Paul in the first GOP debate was not intellectually serious: Blogger Karol says "This is what Democrats do to end debate. They appeal to emotions and don't offer concrete rebuttals to arguments." Don Luskin also defended Paul's comments.

Leaving aside the correctness or lack thereof of Hizzoner's attack, I offer a much longer (much) version of my equally dismissive comment that "now is no time for an isolationist." "Why not, jk?" I'm glad you asked...

Professor Deepak Lal in his superb book Reviving the Invisible Hand, talks about LIEOs or Liberal International Economic Orders. He shows that human existence trudges along for millennia with abundance in the good years and famine in the bad without any consistent progress or what I would call wealth creation. Then when Pope Urban, or powerful Italian mercantilists get enough power to enforce contracts on a larger region, Adam Smith's principles kick in and people make lasting progress.

The major LIEOs he presents are what you might call "Pax Britannia" from Peale's repeal of the Corn Laws through the First World War, then "Pax Americana" from the end of WWII to the present. Nineteenth Century British naval power "policed the world" and enabled intercontinental trade which raised the living standards of much of the world. Innovations of that period are the foundation for much of today's prosperity. Likewise, American military might enabled the boom most recently in telecommunications and technology.

Between those two prosperous periods, we had worldwide recession, the US Great Depression and two world wars. At the risk of some oversimplification, that is what the world looks like when no one can or will defend the ideals of economic liberalism.

People tell me I "worship the market." I reply that I worship modernity, innovation and prosperity and that the free market has proven to be the best path [cue Kudlow & Company theme music...] The fact is that the growth of prosperity and innovation that I seek will not happen in an isolationist America that closes up its borders and lets the rest of the world prove the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

Until a free and prosperous India is prepared to rule the world and keep the forces of darkness and anti-modernity at bay, we will have to do it or be much poorer, I don't want to be poorer.

UPDATE: As jg's comment details, I misattributed the quote in the original post, since corrected. ThreeSources regrets the air. (Do scroll down and read Perry's response.)

2008 Race Posted by John Kranz at 10:41 AM | What do you think? [5]
But johngalt thinks:

The "Democrats end debate" quote you used came from the blogger "Karol." Perry's main thrust (in a comment to the original post) was that even morally justified military action in the mideast gives the mullahs something to point at to incite islamist passions. "Be careful what you do, lest you give someone an excuse," he writes.

I'm with JK here, because it is impossible to conduct commerce outside America's borders without a willingness to forcefully enforce man's natural property rights outside those borders as well. It has been this way since President Jefferson sent the marines to pacify the Barbary pirates.

But even if they could, those pirates would not have been interested in the mass murder of Americans on the other side of the earth. Their purposes were material, not ideological as are the Islamists'. Our "infidels in the land of Allah" are not exclusively our soldiers, but our businessmen, oil field workers and their families, music, movies, fashion, educated women. To get all of these things out of the land of Allah requires that they be wiped from the face of the earth, for the youth of Allah find them as alluring as do the youth of the west.

This, representative Paul, is why 9/11 happened.

Posted by: johngalt at June 10, 2007 2:36 AM
But Karol thinks:

I agree that Ron Paul-type isolationism is impossible. The point in my post was that Rudy can't silence criticism of American foreign policy with a "I was there on 9/11." We need a more reasoned response to the isolationists and he didn't provide one.

Posted by: Karol at June 10, 2007 3:27 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

No one has still addressed my question of why we still have a military presence in Saudi Arabia.

jk, I got to meet Lal earlier this year and hear him speak about his book. He was nice enough to autograph my two copies, but I found him a little aloof in person. Still, those 90 minutes were as much a history of capitalism as you could get in any course on free market/Austrian/libertarian thought. Now, please don't take offense here, but it's a far cry from the implications of what you said about economic benefits stemming from the military -- a leap I personally cannot make.

As you know, I'm a Bastiat disciple and support peaceful trade over war, when possible. So what bothers me is that you mentioned the British navy having "enabled intercontinental trade," but more so that the American military has sparked today's communications technology. That's too much worship of government's power for my taste, because it presupposes people would not have been as entrepreneurial were it not for government's stimuli. Again, don't take offense, but it sounds...Krugmanesque. The very principle behind Hayekian free markets is that government *never* has sufficient knowledge to propel advancements with the same efficiency or magnitude as private individuals acting on their own.

Thus I will support the idea that the British navy encouraged people to trade, but only to the extent that people can take greater entrepreneurial risks when government acts in its legitimate role, that of protecting them from force. It is, though, not a cry for the necessity of government, but for the necessity of entrepreneurs having some sort of confidence that they can ultimately enjoy the fruits of their labor. If bandits demand 10% to leave you alone, there is no difference between that and spending 10% of your income to hire police and a military to protect you. (I wrote about Chiquita's situation on my blog, which you can find with the search feature at the top.) Does it embolden bandits when you readily pay them off? Sure, just like it emboldens politicians when you re-elect them after they hike taxes.

Regarding American communications technology, remember that, at the very most, government spending facilitates only a perfect shift in markets. In reality, as the Austrian school of economics teaches, government's information is incomplete compared to the whole of society, so government's intervention introduces errors and thereby makes market processes less efficient than were the markets left to work on their own. In an alternate universe, transistor and microchip technology may have well emerged sooner and advanced faster were there no government demand: if our military hadn't given so much money to vacuum tube producers, someone might have leaped ahead, instead of merely creating better vacuum tubes. Today, with government skewing energy markets by subsidizing everything under the sun, there's far more incentive to produce corn-derived ethanol than an energy source that's truly viable. We can directly see how government production dampens production, but we cannot see its worse effect: it aborts the fetus of creative thought that leads to entrepreneurship.

On to the Muslim thing. jg, do not confuse Ron Paul's Constitutional isolationism with a Pat Buchanan ostrich isolationism. Paul has *never* said we shouldn't do anything internationally. His "isolationism" is based on the belief that we can trade peacefully with everyone, but we shouldn't entangle ourselves in alliances, nor should we meddle in other countries' affairs that don't concern us -- what George Washington advised us in his farewell address -- and in no way has he ever implied that we cannot defend Americans and American interests abroad. Just ask yourself this: are the interests really that of American individuals, or that of the American government meddling in someone's affairs?

I do personally feel Paul was a little short-sighted in ignoring Islam's total history of 1400 years. However, more than the last 50 years is beyond the scope his argument, which is simply that we cannot deny blowback. It was completely dishonest for Giuliani to put words in Paul's mouth, and Paul should have pinned him right then and there for it. I agree with Paul on principle, although I disagree with him specifically about the Iraq war. I still believe the war was justified, and that someday (as the Iraqi general wrote in his book) we'll prove that Saddam shipped a lot of his weapons and equipment to Syria. Not that the "international community" will listen... But most everyone forgets our most important reason: Saddam directly ordered the kidnapping of American citizens in 1990, and he had to pay for it. You get nothing but trouble if you let someone get away with seizing your citizens, hence Jefferson sending out our navy and Marines. Had we taken a stronger stance with Iran in 1979, it probably wouldn't have been so emboldened as to support international terrorism the way it has.

Personally, I feel we're losing in Iraq because we lack the will to achieve a true victory. We're fighting for a stalemate, the terrorists and insurgents know that, and they know they can eventually wear us down. We're so concerned about "collateral damage" and not destroying infrastructure that we're not killing enough of the enemy. The enemy places no such "gentleman warfare" restrictions on itself. We're not playing "last man standing" as we should be, but the enemy is. If we retreat or we all die, they win either way. We don't have to kill them all, but we have to destroy their will to fight on. It will be impossible, though, while we talk about a *permanent* military presence in Iraq and make other public admissions just as bad as mullah's biggest lies. The situation will keep feeding on itself, creating new recruits who want to blow up infidel American soldiers and maybe someday fly planes into more our buildings. It will stop when we crack down on the mullahs and their propaganda, instead of negotiating with al-Sadr types for the sake of "including everybody." There's nothing wrong with making a martyr out of someone, if you let his followers make martyrs out of themselves too. Crush them, and let the

Just for once, I'd like a brutal war where we'd fight with every neural synapse of resolve. Oh, it'll be bloody, and many of our parents will weep at the coffins coming home, but an actual war where we fight to WIN will be so horrible that people will think twice about sending our military anywhere. We're just so used to a sanitized war where we kill only bad guys and leave buildings intact, which is doomed to fail to crush the enemy. War should be so awful that voters and politicians will think of it as a definite last resort, and people will do everything possible to avoid it. Remember that Paul has said if we're so hell-bent (my term) on invading Iraq, then let's do it right and declare formal war. It will also leave no room for Kerry, Clinton and other hypocrites to wiggle.

Question for you, jg: you don't think that the Muslims who want to *conquer* the West are not also, to a lesser extent but still an extent, driven by the desire to acquire material things and people? Religion, yes, but wouldn't it be nice if they had the entire West as slave populations with tremendous natural resources? The ones carrying "Islam will dominate the world" signs, and their first forebearers in the seventh century AD, certainly preferred to convert (at the point of a sword, yes, but still convert) before resorting killing.

Now, Mohammed El Jihadist wanted to subjugate the whole world, but the West still enjoyed much trade for *centuries* with the peaceful segments of Muslim peoples. Do not forget that Muslims were among the greatest traders and explorers of their time. I have long since pointed out that the trade of goods and services inevitably leads to the trade of ideas, which is the greatest threat to traditional Muslim theocracy. But while a mullah or sheik can get a little reaction to Western "infidel" traders and their introduction of "immorality" into Allah's society, nothing riles up a crowd like pointing to guys wearing American flags on their uniforms' shoulders, carrying automatic guns. Will a Muslim view Americans marching around his city as trying to keep the peace, as helping the other religious faction, or as desecrating holy places? If you're an uneducated teenager, you can believe anything. Not to say the accusations are *right*, but not to say we're perfect either, and we need to accept that either way, our actions typically have unintended consequences.

Once again, why do we have a military presence in Saudi Arabia? Why did we have Marines as "peacekeepers" in Beirut in 1983, in the middle of a *civil war* that didn't involve us? Reagan has been villified by conservatives for "retreating" from Beirut, because Muslims are emboldened by retreat and Reagan only made us look weak, yadda yadda. Yet Reagan ultimately did the right thing by pulling us out of where we don't belong. We do not need a military presence in each of dozens of countries around the world.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at June 11, 2007 5:30 PM
But jk thinks:

Perry, I certainly don't take offense (It doesn't pay to be too thin skinned around here). I'm also jealous of your meeting Lal. The nearest I came was seeing him in the documentary "Mine Your Own Business."

If I come across as crediting government with entrepreneurial successes, then I miswrite or you misread. I do hold, however, that trade requires a base level of law: a belief that contracts will be enforced and that your sales rep will not be taken as a slave, Ensuring that base level of what Lal calls an Liberal International Economic Order constitutes a (gasp!) proper function of government.

I’d say asking government to provide this level of security to enable the benefits of liberalism is consistent with Lal, Hayek and the American tradition.

On your Saudi question: I was under the impression that Iraq has allowed us to reduce our presence there with the long term prospect of "redeploying" those forces protecting the kingdom to Iraqi bases.

Did we need troops in Beirut? Do we need them in Germany? I am comfortable spending tax dollars keeping the shipping lanes open for commerce. I doubt that it's done efficiently because government is doing it, but for a rare occasion, I do not challenge their purview.

Posted by: jk at June 11, 2007 6:14 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

As you know, Bastiat put it that our rights do not exist because we made laws, but we made laws to protect our rights. But with virtually every law today being a bad one, I've come to believe less and less in the necessity of law, and more and more in a priori rights and whatever necessary framework to secure them.

I disagree with Lal on any necessity of government for people to conduct business. Our fancy Western constructs of government work pretty well, but they've also gotten very perverted with all the additional powers they've picked up. Commerce eventually comes down to trust, whether you can trust your trading partner, and whether you can trust that the two of you can complete the transaction. Thus I don't ask government to give me any security beyond a promise that, for my extremely limited tax dollars, it will come whack someone for me when the person causes me harm.

Trade and even justice do not require "law" to exist. They work well for the most part in an orderly system of laws, but such a system is not inherently necessary. A trade partner will be honest with me because he can be prosecuted for fraud, or perhaps I will find him and blow his nuts off via a nasal-entry route; either works for me. Ultimately it is the basic threat of violence, whether by the state or by our own persons, that deters people from infringing upon our rights, and punishes those who still do.

We are presently talking about withdrawing our military from Saudi Arabia, which I will believe when I see it. I haven't heard that Iraq will "allow" (what a fine word!) us to reduce our presence there, in that manner or otherwise, but bluntly, what goddamn arrogance. "Allow," indeed! We'll reduce our presence there by bringing some home and replacing them with others? That's like a tax cut paid for by a tax hike.

On your Saudi question: I was under the impression that Iraq has allowed us to reduce our presence there with the long term prospect of "redeploying" those forces protecting the kingdom to Iraqi bases.

We did not need troops in Beirut. It was Lebanon's civil war, which did not impact the United States or its international commerce. Our Marines were sent as part of a "peacekeeping" force that should have never been sent. We wouldn't have had three decades of problems in Lebanon if Israel had been "allowed" to achieve a decisive victory (i.e. bring Syria, known for millenia as a country of thugs, to its knees).

We also do not need troops in Germany. If Putin does something, and I think he will, our presence there won't matter. Again, we're there not to keep commerce alive. We're there because we act as if the Cold War isn't over.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at June 13, 2007 3:22 PM

June 7, 2007

Financial News

WSJ

STOCKS TUMBLED AGAIN, with the S&P 500 losing 1%, as yields on 10-year Treasury notes pushed past 5% for the first time since August. Oil moved to near $67 a barrel.

If the 10-year yield is going to exceed 5%, I don't want to live either. Raul, sell all my holdings!

UPDATE: Discounting ThreeSources future earnings at 5.11% instead of 4.84 shows a pretty small difference. I may have overreacted.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:19 PM

Extremely Fred!

Threesources favorite Howard Mortman is helping out Fred's! online efforts.

He writes about the effect on his blog.

How will this affect the Extreme Mortman blog? Simple. I will continue to ridicule the first and third “Die Hard” movies, but “Die Hard II” is now off limits.

But jk thinks:

I have never seen any movie or TV show that Fred Thompson appeared in. I'd love to do a poll -- does this make me less likely to support him or more? As I understand it, his main character he is known for is quite sympathetic.

Posted by: jk at June 7, 2007 4:14 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Never?

My opinion of Thunderheart is higher now too.

Posted by: johngalt at June 8, 2007 3:16 PM
But jk thinks:

I looked at the list and it looks like never. (I should get out more).

Posted by: jk at June 8, 2007 4:10 PM

Fred!

I give the former Senator from Tennessee good marks for his Kudlow & Company appearance last night.

I can't imagine anybody missing K & C under any circumstance, but Larry has some highlights of the interview posted on his blog today. Should we let the Democrats roll back the Bush tax cuts, asks Larry?

Well, it's a no-brainer to resist them with all of our power. It's the driving force of this good economy that we're seeing. We're raising more revenue with these lower tax rates than we've ever raised before for the federal government. It's clearly, for them, not about raising money for the legitimate functions of government, it's about redistribution of income and collecting votes. You set the rate where you think you can get the votes, and anything above that, you want to tax. So instead of trying to make the pie bigger, they're trying to concentrate totally on redividing the pie. And that just means less economic growth and a worse economy.

Thompson did a nice riff on Federalism where he was actually disagreeing with Kudlow (Thompson had voted against tort reform because he found it an unwarranted Fed intrusion into states' rights). That scored some points with me.

The rest of the interview, however, Thompson said the right things but he was frequently led there by his host. You get a feel for that in the section that's posted. I wish I still had the Giuliani interview, but Rudy drove the conversation toward freedom and the supply side. Stephen Moore and I got goose-pimply watching Hizzoner.

Thompson also gets to hide behind his non-announcement Admittedly, that may be smart but he can't talk tax cuts "'cause he's not that far yet" "He doesn't want to lay out a detailed plan at this time." Maybe that's okay, and I am not dismissing him or his candidacy. But I am likewise, not waiting for him.

As Buffy says of Faith in Enemies: "She makes Godot look punctual."

2008 Race Posted by John Kranz at 12:09 PM

Personal Accounts

hmmm.... Romney is getting better and better.

Republican Mitt Romney yesterday praised the notion of personal accounts for Social Security recipients, a key aspect of the Social Security reform plan of President Bush that never made it out of Congress.

Romney said it would be a good idea to use the Social Security trust fund to allow personal accounts, which could earn higher rates of return for beneficiaries.

"Personal accounts would be a big plus," Romney said at the New Hampshire Institute of Art yesterday afternoon. Romney spoke to about 175 people in a town hall format where he took questions about civil unions, medical use of marijuana and weapons inspection during the run-up to the Iraq war.

But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Lately I've become very critical of all the candidates and hold them to exceptionally high standards. I'm really tired of the platitudes and one-liners that disguise the lack of will to do what's right, so much that I haven't bothered to watch the two debates. Well, I did catch the first, enough to see that Ron Paul won it by being the only candidate to point out the inflation tax.

Bluntly, anyone with a half-a**ed sense of REAL social justice should support personal accounts at the least. Now, they're a step in the right direction, but they're only a bandaid fix. The problem is what to do in 2017 (maybe 2016 when the SS trustees next recalculate, it was previously 2018 and readjusted to 2017), when retirees who haven't had personal accounts (to be fair, because they've been taxed to hell and back and couldn't save for themselves) will start collecting from the rest of us who are working.

When a candidate is brave enough to address this (maybe Ron Paul has, does anyone know if he's said anything?), I'll listen to him. To his credit, Bush tried. Most Americans just don't want to listen. They're too busy getting Six Flags season tickets, complaining about the mythical gouging by Big Oil, and not worrying enough about the real issues: the ramifications of personal and governmental long-term debt. The money we're spending on Iraq is pocket change compared to what Social Security and Medicare will cost us.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at June 7, 2007 12:02 PM
But jk thinks:

I'll quibble with one word of your comment: "lately." I've been reading your blog a year or so now, Perry, and think you hold candidates and leaders to exceptionally high standards.

Nothing wrong with high standards but I am the blog pragmatist 'round these parts and don't like to see the perfect being the enemy of the good. I hate Giuliani on guns, McCain on free speech, Romney on health care, Hunter on trade, Tancredo on immigration, Paul on isolationism, &c.

But I watched Sunday's debate and I watched Tuesday’s debate -- and I would crawl over broken glass to pull the lever for any one of those against any of the Democrats (okay, Richardson - Tancredo, no sharp shards).

Posted by: jk at June 7, 2007 1:24 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

There isn't a single one of those goddamned Dems I'd vote for, Richardson included. For all New Mexico's tax cuts and conservative-sounding economic policies (for which Richardson has received praise from conservatives, even GOP shills like Sean Hannity), he's just another proponent of the redistribution of wealth, and he's a coward when it comes to the global jihad threat.

Giuliani is talking an awful lot of free market economics, which makes me trust him even less. I consider him the authoritarian, much more so than McCain (who I consider a mere opportunist). Giuliani has said that freedom is all about people relinquishing their personal freedoms to authority, and such an absurd "social compact" notion is just thinly veiled fascism.

I guess I always have held politicians to higher standards, but more so now. I know I don't blog as often anymore, but soon I'm going to state who I'm supporting for president, and I'm going to answer McCain's "propose something better" immigration challenge. I've also been meaning to blog about why Ron Paul was right, and why Rudy was an idiot to mischaracterize what Paul said.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at June 7, 2007 2:56 PM
But jk thinks:

-- but,but,but,but,but if you're going to trash every GOP candidate, you're going to help elect one of those Democrats, all of whom scare me very much.

I'll concede that Rudy did mischaracterize Paul's remarks but I will not in a million years concede that Paul is right. There is a nice YouTube running around (Don Luskin links) where Paul defends himself.

Our troops that so upset Osama Bin Laden were in Saudi Arabia defending that country and Kuwait from a Saddam Hussein invasion, with the explicit approval of the regime. I just can't line up for the idea that we leave them alone, they'll leave us and Israel alone.

Posted by: jk at June 7, 2007 3:39 PM
But johngalt thinks:

So unless Zell Miller or Joe Lieberman have plans we don't know about, we can count on Perry supporting a GOPer. Perry also doesn't seem like the type to "take his vote and go home" because a pro-choice Republican wins the nomination, so it's probably a safe bet that he'll VOTE Republican too.

I didn't hear Perry trashing Thompson, Fred Dalton (likely candidate) or Gingrich (unlikely). He said some nice things about Paul but I'm confident he's too smart to endorse that isolationist hippie (or to believe for a femtosecond that Paul has a chance at the nomination).

Posted by: johngalt at June 8, 2007 3:08 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I would like to see the Dems tear into each other and weaken themselves, in the same way the Repubs will. We should take some comfort in that there is no single major candidate among the Dems either -- had there been in 2003-2004, Bush would have lost.

Paul was right in the same way a white person might "invite" being attacked in Harlem. It doesn't mean the attacker is actually justified, but the attacker will seize on any excuse. I posted more about this on a conservative friend's blog.

http://www.alarmingnews.com/archives/006066.html

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at June 8, 2007 3:15 PM

Rudy to Fix Healthcare

Things got a little heated at the Democratic Presidential debate last Sunday night, when Rep. Kucinich blasted his rivals for keeping a component of private health care in their "Universal" proposals. The candidate who has not spent $400 on all of his haircuts since Nixon was president encouraged viewers to demand only true Socialized medicine.

The others patch up the existing system with mandates and subsidies, and spread Medicare to cover the rest. They have competing plans and the debate did get a little heated over whose plan provided the most coverage. Senator Clinton proudly proclaimed her seniority on this issue, saying "I have the scars to prove it!" From that I take it that she does not repudiate HillaryCare.

I'll concede that Gov. Romney's "RomneyCare" is likely better than what we'd see from Senators Edwards, Obama, or Clinton, but it's still not right. And it would not translate from a State to a national program without becoming more collectivist in nature.

Rudy Giuliani, by comparison, is going to grab the third rail with both hands. I hope he is not standing barefoot in a puddle. He wants to fix the part that is really broken: Employer provided health care. The WSJ reports that a plan is on the way:

Mr. Giuliani, currently leading opinion polls for the 2008 Republican nomination, wants to move tens of millions of people from employer-based health insurance to the individual market as a way of giving people more coverage choices. It is an idea he alluded to in Tuesday's Republican debate in Manchester, N.H., and later expanded on in an interview.
[...]
"What I would do is change the whole model that we have for health insurance in this country," Mr. Giuliani said. "The problem with our health insurance is it's government- and employer dominated. People don't make individual choices."

Giving people more choices may sound good, but public-opinion surveys show that most Americans prefer getting insurance from their employer to buying it on their own, said Robert Blendon, an expert on public opinion and health at the Harvard School of Public Health. "People think it's more convenient to have it through an employer and think that employers get a better deal," he said. He added that people who already have insurance are very nervous about anything that would change their coverage.

Still, he said, talking about insurance in this way turns the issue into one of values, which is effective, Dr. Blendon said. "It's using the power of individuals to take care of themselves."


Not a sentiment that I heard frequently on Sunday night.

UPDATE: Beat to the punch, by blog friend Everyday Economist. He's holding out for the details, but links positively and includes a link to a survey on NHS providing Scotland with "one of the highest avoidable death rates in western Europe." (We traded emails on Fred Thompson's Kudlow & Company intreview last night -- I'm trying to talk him into a joint review.)

Posted by John Kranz at 10:25 AM

June 6, 2007

Joe!

Sugarchuck sent me to YouTube to watch Roy Nichols playing with Hillary Clinton supporter, Merle Haggard.

I've encouraged this blog friend to become a blog brother, then he can post all the telecaster pickin' he would like. While I was there, I strayed off into watching Derek & the Dominoes on the Johnny Cash show, complete with Carl Perkins, Clapton, and Cash doing "Matchbox."

I watch so much politics and nonsense on YouTube, I never pay attention to the music that is there. I found this jewel by prob'ly my favorite guitarist, Joe Pass. I can't really pick a favorite between Django Reinhart, Tal Farlow and Joe, but if you held a gun to my head and I credibly thought it was loaded, I'd have to say Joe.

I know different ThreeSourcers like different stuff, but this is what drives jk. (The audio is low, turn up your computer and try to remember to turn it down after)

Merciful Zeus!!!!

Posted by John Kranz at 7:58 PM

Conservatives for the Immigration Bill

A open letter to conservatives, asking them to band together on the Immigration Blill in today's Dallas News.

Border security, the rule of law, national interest, economic competitiveness — these are the conservative concerns at the heart of the agreement. Yet conservatism is also, as Ronald Reagan reminded us, about optimism and self-confidence — about an America sure enough of itself to be a big tent and a beacon.

The Senate framework will allow us to go on attracting immigrants and maintain the rule of law, too. The benefits of the bill far outweigh its shortcomings. We believe it offers the only realistic way forward, and urge conservatives — and all Americans — to embrace the promise it holds out.


Signers include:
  • Jack Kemp, former New York congressman

  • Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida

  • Ken Mehlman, former chairman, Republican National Committee

  • Tamar Jacoby, senior fellow, Manhattan Institute

  • James Q. Wilson, professor of public policy, Pepperdine University

  • Bill Paxon, former New York congressman

  • Michael Gerson, senior fellow, Council on Foreign Relations

  • Hector Barreto, chairman, The Latino Coalition

  • Ken Weinstein, CEO, Hudson Institute

  • Lawrence Kudlow, economics editor, National Review Online

  • Linda Chavez, chairman, Center for Equal Opportunity

  • Charlie Black, chairman, BKSH & Associates

  • Mike Murphy, Republican strategist

  • Francis Fukuyama, professor of political economy, Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies

  • Max Boot, senior fellow, Council on Foreign Relations

  • Richard Gilder, partner, Gilder Gagnon Howe & Co., LLC

  • Jeff Bell, principal, Capital City Partners

  • Steven Wagner, former director, Human Trafficking Program, Department of Health and Human Services

  • Gregory Mankiw, professor of economics, Harvard University

  • Donald J. Boudreaux, chairman, Economics Department, George Mason University

  • Philip I. Levy, resident scholar, American Enterprise Institute

  • Kevin Hassett, director of economic policy studies, American Enterprise Institute

  • Jerry Bowyer, chairman, Bowyer Media

  • Clint Bolick, senior fellow, Goldwater Institute

  • Robert de Posada, president, The Latino Coalition

  • Gary Rosen, managing editor, Commentary

  • Joseph Bottum, editor, First Things

  • John McWhorter, senior fellow, Manhattan Institute

  • Larry Cirignano, Catholic activist

  • Pancho Kinney, former director of strategy, White House Office of Homeland Security


Hat-tip: Greg Mankiw (one of the signers)

Immigration Posted by John Kranz at 6:14 PM

Historical Revision

I forget which candidate said it last night, but this meme needs to be stopped. It has been asserted that the party is running away from George Bush due his bad approval ratings -- that is true to an extent. It was asserted that "nobody ran away from Ronald Reagan." And I yelled at the TV "Kinder, Gentler America?"

God bless Americans we love a change and to try something new. I'm a strong supporter of President Bush and I am not looking for "the next W." OpinionJournal Political Diary calls it "the incredible shrinking incumbent" (Et tu, John Fund?)

There's a lot of disagreement about who won last night's GOP presidential debate in New Hampshire. But there's no doubt that President Bush's reputation was not enhanced by the comments of many of the contenders. While most backed his current plans for fighting the Iraq war, several expressed open hostility to his immigration proposals. Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado, for one, complained that Mr. Bush "was elected as a conservative but then governed as a liberal."

But the most stinging putdown came from Tommy Thompson, the former Wisconsin governor who served in Mr. Bush's cabinet for four years as Secretary of Health and Human Services. CNN's Wolf Blitzer asked him, "How would you use George W. Bush in your administration?" Mr. Thompson was blunt: "I certainly would not send him to the United Nations."

Mr. Thompson proceeded to issue pro forma praise of Mr. Bush for being "honest" and "straightforward," but then suggested that his most useful post-presidential employment would be to send "him out on a lecture series talking to the youth of America about . . . serving the public."

Ouch. Apparently, Mr. Thompson envisions banishing the former president to a long road show of appearances before Boy Scout troops and 4-H clubs where few eligible voters are likely to be found.

I think people are overstating this. Giuliani praised Bush's SCOTUS picks in his Kudlow interview and few of the candidates are running against "Bush's War." They have every right to differentiate themselves.

Posted by John Kranz at 3:43 PM

Mr. Miagi's Typing School

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Posted by John Kranz at 1:52 PM

Some disagreement on my debate scoring

Dean Barnett posts a YouTube clip of a FOX News interview with Republican pollster Frank Luntz.

Luntz gives high marks to Mayor Giuliani, but says that Gov. Romney did better, sending the positive line of his real-time meter "off the charts" when Romney defended his Mormon faith. Interviews with GOP voters provide the exact opposite of my opinion. "He answered the questions, no bull" says the first woman. Many praise his clarity.

Gimme that knob, Frank, I don't think your voters can handle it.

2008 Race Posted by John Kranz at 1:07 PM

Debate Wrap-up

Parity is conserved. The unsettling powers of the Democratic debate which have kept me almost bedridden for two days abated as the brilliant and statesmanlike GOP candidates took the floor at St. Anselm's College last night. (I suggested that t might have been bad sushi, but Dr. AlexC is pretty convinced it was the debate.)

I've got quite a few high marks to give out. First, I haven't heard anybody else say it, but I thought Gov. Romney was the loser last night. John Derbyshire made fun of his bad math allusion, and I was disturbed all evening with his lack of clarity. He rambled on, invoking "a null set" when asked a direct non-hypothetical question: "If you knew now what you knew then, would you have supported the invasion of Iraq?" That's a great question. Romney dissembled for what seemed like an hour, was asked it again and started dissembling again. Mayor Giuliani followed with a direct -- and I believe correct -- answer: "Yes." (I paraphrase, but he was almost that direct.)

That established a pattern, with Romney over-talking and trying too hard to be clever. I thought "OMG, He's our very own Joe Biden!" Maybe nobody else was turned off. I haven't read much criticism of him, but he certainly did not help himself.

I said I'd hand out praise. Senator McCain was eloquent in describing the importance of the war and its consequences. I've a million things to disagree with the man over, but that alone will make him worthy of my support should he win the GOP nomination. Bill Kristol sounded the death knell for his campaign on FOX News Sunday, but the rumors looked greatly exaggerated Tuesday night.

No secret I'm in the Rudy! camp. I still must say my candidate acquitted himself well. He was funny when the lightning came down, he was emphatic in his war support, he was moving in his opposition to Rep Tancredo's suggestion of an immigration hiatus. I don't think he preps. I think he's quick on his feet. It opens him up to gaffes, but it sure works for me.

The also rans also ran pretty well last night. Gov. Huckabee squeezed another good joke off and made a touching defense for his disbelief in evolution, tying it to birthright liberty and distancing himself from the 6-days 6000 years ago creationism that frightens people. He's the star of his tier.

Rep Hunter did more China bashing and pushed the nativist angle, but he still raised himself a couple of notches.

Rep. Ron Paul appeared less crazy. I value his service in the US Congress and want more than anything to bring more Libertarians into the GOP, but his isolationism is naive and it is not the time for it.

Senator Brownback, Gov. Thompson, Gov. Gilmore - you're all good guys but I think I hear your mommies calling. Maybe it's time for you to go. An Apollo project on Cancer?

Our tent is big enough for Creationists, but not for one vocal denier of Deleterious Anthropogenic Warming of the Globe (DAWG)? I guess it is an election loser and I am prepared to bite my tongue. The Republicans get some props for pushing nuclear power, and domestic drilling, but you could have put Senators Clinton, Obama, and Edwards up there for the group hugs on alternative energy and energy independence. Couldn't Ron Paul have piped up and said "We import and burn oil because it's the best deal -- as long as it is the best deal, we'll do it." Nope, he had to tie it into foreign policy. This farmer stands alone I guess.

All in all, I'm diggin' being a Republican again. I saw the Dem debate (and have the dry heaves to prove it) and I saw the GOP. I know a lot of the party is disheartened, but I am not.

UPDATE: Fixed a few typos, most notably changing Huckabee's "belief in evolution" to "disbelief..." ThreeSources regrets the arrows.

2008 Race Posted by John Kranz at 11:55 AM

June 5, 2007

Fred! on Larry!

ThreeSources TV tip: Senator Fred Thompson will appear on Kudlow & Company tomorrow (CNBC, 5PM Eastern).

I don't know that "poles" will be discussed, but it is a great place to see a candidate questioned at length on economic issues. The Giuliani interview put me in the Rudy! camp. I'll look forward to this one.

Posted by John Kranz at 7:03 PM

ThreeSources Gets Results

The powerful ThreeSources juggernaut was launched by LatteSipper last November.

The State of Colorado has capitulated in only 8 months -- Governor Ritter signed the bill and share the road plates are available for pre order.

Now if we could just do something about socialism...

Posted by John Kranz at 5:34 PM

Our Margaret

Two Democrat friends have now sent me the Peggy Noonan column. One today says "Peggy does a good job explaining what has frustrated me for 7 years.’...marshalling not facts but only sentiments, and self-aggrandizing ones at that.'"

Thanks for that. My post on the column is here.

Again I probably ask too much loyalty. Pundits should certainly be free to bite back on occasion. Yet with the left leaning press' increased numbers, I think a little bit of circling the wagons is good policy. I have always held that George Will lost the 1992 election with similarly grouchy attacks against George Herbert Walker Bush. He wasn't pleased with Bush 41, but I have always wondered if he thought the nation was better served by President Clinton's first term.

UPDATE: My response. I know it's not going to go over well around here.

Strange bedfellows. You and Peggy Noonan against Me and President Bush and the WSJ Ed Page against the bulk of the GOP. Hmmm.

I’ve been a big Peggy Noonan fan since Reagan was President, I blogged disapprovingly about this column. The column has certainly generated a lot of buzz.

I happen to be on the President’s side here. I think he is taking a brave – Ms. Noonan thinks foolish – stand against the bulk of his party and its base who are demanding restricted immigration and draconian enforcement. President Bush knows how important the immigrants are to the economy and takes what I think is a humane and smart stand against yahoos like Rep Tom Tancredo. Noonan and many others are distraught that he chooses the issue for a tough principled stand (“Why can’t he be as tough with Ted Kennedy as his own base?” is what I hear.)

But I’ll take principles and good policy in politics any of the rare times I can find them. I’m sorry Noonan feels betrayed and I’ve already admitted that he did not choose his words well (huh? W? not express himself well?) but I think that she is on the wrong side of this.

As to this administration’s supposed hardball tactics, it ain’t beanbag at this level – I just don’t see Bush and Rove as these two toughs who are picking on nice guys like Senator Chuck Schumer and Congressman Jack Murtha. President Clinton played to win as well. I don’t remember a lack of ruthlessness from the previous administration.


Posted by John Kranz at 12:00 PM | What do you think? [5]
But Terri thinks:

I think your view is a lot more sane and reasoned than my sister's who actually works for the President. (If I thought for a minute she was influencable, I'd say, "talk about circling the wagons!")

While I still disagree with you both - at least I don't want to strangle you!!

Posted by: Terri at June 5, 2007 4:20 PM
But jk thinks:

That puts you in a distinct minority around here, Terri.

I vowed not to call Rep Tancredo a "yahoo" any more. I did it in personal correspondence where I felt it warranted and chose, later, to post that. That may be a Clintonian defense, but it was not premeditated.

Posted by: jk at June 5, 2007 7:01 PM
But Terri thinks:

ROFL - But Rep Tancredo IS a "yahoo"! I think it's a very fair term. Nuances my friend, nuances.
We don't agree - but I don't agree with Tancredo either!

Posted by: Terri at June 6, 2007 11:48 AM
But johngalt thinks:

What caught my eye was not the yahoo jab, but this instance of JK (the pragmatist) sounding much more like johngalt (the idealist): "I’ll take principles and good policy in politics any of the rare times I can find them." But what if that principled stand costs you the next election and opens the door to Obama (Hugo Chavez of the north) or Hillary (a REAL yahoo) doing far more damage across the board?

Take Bush's conversion on Global Warming (no quotes required as it's now a proper name) for example. I'm convinced he doesn't believe in anthropogenic climate change "science" or that the cap and trade nonsense is anything more than a socialist trojan horse. But he does know that defeating global Islamism is too important to allow a DAWG debate to split the electorate that could otherwise be galvanized by national defense concerns.

I don't approve his caving on Global Warming (Dems are saying "stalling" and I hope they're right) but I do approve of his prioritization.

Posted by: johngalt at June 6, 2007 2:45 PM
But jk thinks:

As I grumble above, the DAWG debate seems lost. The GOP has not fielded a vocal skeptic. And, yes, if it gives us eight years to fight terrorism in exchange for 1% dGDP/dT, I'll have to take it.

On Immigration, I still think that the President is correct, politically, and that the nativists are the ones paving the road for a Democratic win. (I was going to call your Obama - Chavez comparison overblown, but after Sunday's debates I think you're close.)

Posted by: jk at June 6, 2007 4:07 PM

June 4, 2007

Regulating Gas Prices

Yeah, this will work.

State Rep from Washington County Mike Solobay wants to regulate gasoline like milk, and wants to duplicate a bill California drafted years ago.

"It basically set up a board similar to our Milk Marketing Board, but it gave the authority to a public utility commission to regulate the pricing and cost of what the pricing could be for fuel and processing of gasoline and different oil products."

He's planning to talk with folks at the PUC and the milk board, then draft a blueprint to help prevent gouging at the pumps.


Did anyone notice that milk, like cigarettes are sold at state minimum prices? Those prices are act as an artificial floor for cigarettes and milk. The government of Pennsylvania is actually costing you money. Milk and smokes could be cheaper. Really.

Think of the millions of poor who are overpaying for those sundries.

What "needs" to be done is setting a state maximum price for gas... which always leads to shortages.

If the high cost of fuel is really a problem, surely the state could forsake it's cut of your gallon of gas. They didn't drill for it. They didn't produce it. They didn't refine it. They didn't deliver it. They didn't store it. They didn't even sell it!

Pennsylvania collects $0.32 per gallon of gas. How much would that save you per week?

He's a Democrat, btw...


And Here's To You, Mrs. Robonson

You can't say I don't know how to have fun.

I ate some bad sushi yesterday in the early afternoon. I was feeling poorly when the Democratic debates started, but I watched them all the way through. On cue at heir completion, I started the auditions for The Exorcist.

Bad octopus? Bad policy?

2008 Race Posted by John Kranz at 11:41 AM | What do you think? [2]
But AlexC thinks:

I thought octopus was always cooked.

Sure it wasn't something else?

Like saying boycotting the olympics is tough foreign policy?

Posted by: AlexC at June 4, 2007 10:05 PM
But jk thinks:

Couldn't have been Homer's blowfish. I was the only one who had Octopus and I was the only one who got sick.

You're forgetting President Carter's muscular foreign policy when he kept the US teams from competing in Moscow. Devastating.

Posted by: jk at June 5, 2007 1:02 PM

June 3, 2007

Riots!

If we decided to start sending illegals back home, we'll have riots.

At one point McCain went back and forth with one audience member, who said he was upset that the immigration proposal before Congress is not tough enough.

The man asked McCain why the United States couldn’t execute large-scale deportations, as he had heard they did in France and other countries.

“In case you hadn’t noticed, the thousands of people who have been relegated to ghettos have risen up and burned cars in France,” McCain replied. “They’ve got huge problems in France. They have tremendous problems. The police can’t even go into certain areas in the suburbs of Paris. I don’t want that in the suburbs of America.”


Tip of the hat to Allah, who notes the real lessons of the French riots.
perhaps the real lesson of the French experience is that citizenship doesn’t guarantee assimilation. Or perhaps it’s the idea that if you doubt your ability to assimilate people culturally, be sure you can control how many of them are coming in.

2008 Race Immigration Posted by AlexC at 5:24 PM

Tax Pledges

Pop Quiz.

How many Democrat candidates for President have signed the Americans for Tax Reform "Taxpayer Protection Pledge?"

That was easy.

0.

How many of the Republicans have?

Of the announced candidates, seven of ten.

Holdouts are Rudy! McCain and Thompson (Tommy, that is)

This is simple stuff... and should be easy to do....

The last three Republican presidential nominees - ex-president George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole and current President Bush - signed the pledge, the anti-tax group said.

But the elder Bush broke the pledge, raised taxes and lost his re-election bid.

The Giuliani campaign said signing the pledge was unnecessary.

"Rudy's got a record of cutting taxes and putting more money into the hands of people. His record is his pledge," said Giuliani senior campaign adviser Tony Carbonetti.

Giuliani cut taxes 23 times worth $9 billion as mayor and has cast himself as the most pro-growth, fiscally conservative candidate in the current GOP campaign.

But the former mayor's refusal to sign the pledge has surprised and disappointed economic conservatives, who agree that Rudy has a strong tax-cutting record.

"He's been strong on demanding that the Bush tax cuts be extended permanently," said John Kartch, a spokesman for Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Nordquist.


I believe McCain voted against the Bush taxcut.

But NH thinks:

I say Ron Paul is the only candidate on either side worth voting for.

Posted by: NH at June 3, 2007 8:26 PM
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

Sadly, I agree with NH ... but I'll probably vote for someone 'near' my ideological zone that has a chance to win.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at June 4, 2007 10:58 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Just in time for this post to drop off the main page, I think it's important to state that (for the record) the unofficial position of Three Sources is that Ron Paul should be at the BOTTOM of everyone's list.

See The Case Against Rep Ron Paul above.

Posted by: johngalt at June 10, 2007 5:28 PM

Nothing to See Here...

... please move along.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who triggered outrage in the West two years ago when he said Israel should be "wiped off the map", has often referred to the destruction of the Jewish state but says Iran is not a threat.

"With God's help, the countdown button for the destruction of the Zionist regime has been pushed by the hands of the children of Lebanon and Palestine," Ahmadinejad said in a speech.

"By God's will, we will witness the destruction of this regime in the near future," he said. He did not elaborate.


While the media and Europe might not be taking Mr Ahmadinejad seriously, you can be Israel and our "diplomats" who just visited with Iranians are.

But I have to ask... at what point does his rhetoric become cause for action? Because inaction would be national suicide.

Iran Posted by AlexC at 12:11 PM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

Michael Ledeen reminds that Iran now holds five American Hostages and that our inaction emboldens the hard-liners against democratic moderates.

Again, I fear that we need a president who can politically lead us into involvement in Iran. President Bush may have the strength and will, but somebody is going to have to tell the American people what is at stake. With any luck, Iran will be the chief issue in 2008 and President Giuliani or Thompson will have the mandate to put substantive pressure on Ahmadinejad.

Discussing the "Department of Peace" with my beloved moonbat sister-in-law, I used a Hitler analogy to demonstrate the occasional need for war (I'm not proud that I went straight to Hitler, but my time was limited).

She said things were different then. I ask today's peace at any cost folks to name three substantive differences between Hitler and Ahmadinejad -- the ones I know make the Iranian leader look worse.

Posted by: jk at June 3, 2007 12:31 PM

L'Affaire Noonan

Paul Mirengolf of Powerline pens an interesting defense of President Bush from Peggy Noonan's attacks.

Conservatives certainly have plenty to disagree with the Bush administration about. However, as I argue at the AOL blog, we have no right to consider ourselves victims. President Bush never presented himself as a traditional conservative. We supported him anyway, in large part I think because we understood that a traditional conservative would stand little chance of succeeding Bill Clinton, who had re-popularized activist government.

This excerpt rings of "damning with faint praise" but I think he is right on. One thing that conservatives have learned to like about our 43rd President is his consistency and steadfastness. The Powerline guys aren't exactly celebrating his dedication to comprehensive immigration reform, but I appreciate their pointing out that this is not betrayal, this is the long term effort of a former border state governor, doing what he thinks is right for the country economically and morally.

Hat-tip: Terri @ I Think ^(Link) Therefore I Err who highlights a great line in John Hinderaker's response: ”Bush is about two more noble actions away from being ridden out of Washington on a rail.”

Immigration Posted by John Kranz at 12:05 PM

June 2, 2007

John says:

JK has "Review Corner" and the elevator talk. I've been contemplating a new feature where I respond to hypothetical questions as I would if I were the President of the United States. For now I'm calling it "John says." I'll start with South America's version of Barack Obama.

Mister president, how do you respond to Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez says US conspiracy wants to discredit him?

"It's not a conspiracy, it's the official policy of my administration. The sitting president of Venezuela owes his position to dubious elections and must not be allowed to silence his domestic opponents in the arena of ideas. Venezuela's citizens have the inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. When Hugo Chavez threatens all three of those I will do everything in my power to discredit him."

But jk thinks:

Not to go all Rep Ron Paul on you, but may I pose a follow up question, Mr. President? Is this nation dedicated to actively undermine every regime in the world that not uphold the spirit of our Declaration of Independence? That seems a little more interventionist than the electorate.

Posted by: jk at June 2, 2007 2:33 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"Sure thing Stretch. I'll answer that: Actively undermine? That implies sending American soldiers or agents to foreign lands to carry out various missions. No, that's not always in America's interest. But it is always in our interest to discredit the failed ideas of history. Whenever I'm asked, I'll say they're wrong. Maybe good folks like you in the press will help me out with that, once in a while."

Posted by: johngalt at June 2, 2007 3:05 PM
But jk thinks:

Senator Fred Thompson may be channeling you.

Posted by: jk at June 3, 2007 11:17 AM

June 1, 2007

Andrew Sullivan With Better Hair

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

If I may borrow Mr. Jefferson's words, it is time that I dissolve my political bands with Peggy Noonan.

WHEREAS, Ms. Noonan is a gifted writer and is herein recognized as an eloquent voice for the Reagan Wing of the Republican Party,

WHEREAS, Ms, Noonan has written several exceptional books. "What I Saw at the Revolution" being jk's favorite book to explain Republican ideas to moderates, "A Cross, A Heart and a Flag" being a touching look at post-9/11 America, and "The Case Against Hillary Clinton" being perhaps the best book about the Clinton Years and impeachment,

NEVERTHELESS, Ms. Noonan has now completely descended into the overly personal, hectoring style of punditry that she has flirted with for several years. Her elitist views have come further out on display and she has resorted to personal attacks against those with whom she differs.

I introduce into evidence Noonan's column of Friday, June 1, 2007. After berating the White House for "name-calling," she calls then all hacks.

The beginning of my own sense of separation from the Bush administration came in January 2005, when the president declared that it is now the policy of the United States to eradicate tyranny in the world, and that the survival of American liberty is dependent on the liberty of every other nation. This was at once so utopian and so aggressive that it shocked me. For others the beginning of distance might have been Katrina and the incompetence it revealed, or the depth of the mishandling and misjudgments of Iraq.

What I came in time to believe is that the great shortcoming of this White House, the great thing it is missing, is simple wisdom. Just wisdom--a sense that they did not invent history, that this moment is not all there is, that man has lived a long time and there are things that are true of him, that maturity is not the same thing as cowardice, that personal loyalty is not a good enough reason to put anyone in charge of anything, that the way it works in politics is a friend becomes a loyalist becomes a hack, and actually at this point in history we don't need hacks.


Pundits need not preserve fealty or obeisance to the administration, but the public "I separated with them on this date, because of ..." is too personal, and should be used cautiously because of the ammunition it provides to political opponents.

Ms. Noonan lunches at trendy restaurants with other Manhattenites. Like Sullivan, I do not see it as courageous to stop defending your principles and to assume the views of others in your peer group. This has been a long time coming, but I declare my Independence from the bands of Ms. Noonan. I wish her well.

President Bush Posted by John Kranz at 12:09 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

As I started reading this I thought for sure the column that led you to "separate with [Noonan] on this date, because of..." was this one.

"We should close our borders. We should do whatever it takes to close them tight and solid. Will that take the Army? Then send the Army. Does it mean building a wall? Then build a wall, but the wall must have doors, which can be opened a little or a lot down the road once we know where we are."

Posted by: johngalt at June 1, 2007 4:15 PM
But jk thinks:

It wasn't just he Stamp Act...

There have been hundreds of columns which disturb me. The one you cite I disagree with but it is honest punditry. She whacks the White House a little hard for my tastes, but she voices an idea I disagree with, with her characteristic eloquence.

The traits that have worn me like running water on stone are her elitism, which disturbed me even as I admired her highly, and a more recent enmity with her opponents that I find to be just like Andrew Sullivan. Pop psychology is not my beat but it seems that both feel betrayed by former allies and have chosen to lash out irrationally.

What also inspired this post -- but it was getting too long already -- was a comparison between Noonan and Kim Strassel. Strassel may not have Noonan's poetry, but she is an exceptional writer. The thesis of the post was almost that the torch was being passed from a now-frequently-unhinged Peggy Noonan to a clear voiced Strassel.

Read Strassel's piece on the immigration. It's cleaner and crisper (and removes stubborn stains from even the most delicate fabrics).

Posted by: jk at June 2, 2007 12:07 PM

Don't click this. Comments (2)