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.
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.
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
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.
Yes, AlexC, you may extol the Myriad Macintosh virtues in the comments if you so choose.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
-- 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.
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.
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!
Explicitly political speech was exactly kind of speech the framers wanted to protect. McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance "Reform" was a direct attack on that.
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?
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.
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.
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..."
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."
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."
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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?)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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."
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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).
Do you remember me?
Do you know who I am?
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.
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 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.
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."
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.
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.)
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."
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.
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.)
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)
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.
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
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.'"
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.
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!
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
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.
"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."
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.
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.