August 31, 2007
Jay Leno, courtesy of Polical Diary:
"Speaking at a forum organized by Lance Armstrong on cancer research, Hillary Clinton told Chris Matthews if she is elected president, she will declare war on cancer, and then she will support the war on cancer for two years, and then she will be against it for a year, and then she will back out of it all together" -- Jay Leno, host of NBC's "Tonight Show."
Sen. Craig (R-- EW!)
I fear my beloved Republicans have learned the wrong lessons from recent history. Poor Senator Craig cannot find a friend in the Senate Cloakroom. Well, perhaps, that's for the best. But he cannot find a friend in the GOP leadership, and I am not sure that's right.
Really creepy? Yes. But I'd like to compare the Senior Senator from the last stall to members in the party’s Hall of Shame who enjoy their good standing.
Creepy Craig was at least seeking something consensual with a grownup, and I suspect that he was going to pay out of his own pocket.
For This We Elect Republicans?
Where in the Constitution is the Executive Branch given responsibility for executive pay? Reading the Wall Street Journal (paid link) one can only assume that Senator Edwards has already won the 2008 election and has installed his SEC chief early:
Stepping up its campaign to shed light on the mysteries of executive pay, the Securities and Exchange Commission has sent letters to nearly 300 companies across America critiquing disclosures in this year's proxy statements and demanding more information.
'bout that consensus
A good friend of this blog sends a link to the U.S. Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works. Specifically, Senator Inhofe’s EPW Press Blog. Looking at recent peer-reviewed research, Senator Inhofe’s staff doesn't quite see the consensus that a certain former Vice President claims.
Of 528 total papers on climate change, only 38 (7%) gave an explicit endorsement of the consensus. If one considers "implicit" endorsement (accepting the consensus without explicit statement), the figure rises to 45%. However, while only 32 papers (6%) reject the consensus outright, the largest category (48%) are neutral papers, refusing to either accept or reject the hypothesis. This is no "consensus."
August 30, 2007
Quick Election Thoughts
Two candidate (one from each party) were in the news today.
First, John Edwards:
There are usually two ways that a candidates runs for the primary. One can move as far to the fringe as possible and attack fellow party-members or one can run a centrist campaign and attack candidates from the other party. The Democrats, with the exception of Hillary Clinton, have been rather unique in that they have mostly moved to the left and run against President Bush. Given this pattern, the comments by Edwards seem to relfect the following:
The second piece of news is that Fred (or Fred!) Thompson will announce his candidacy on September 6 on his website. The right-wing blogosphere is growing tired of Sen. Thompson because he is attempting "upstage" the fellow Republicans by appearing on Leno on the night of the Republican debate and the fact that he has delayed announcing his candidacy for so long. Nevertheless, I do not think any of the blogosphere's concerns are warranted. Here's why:
Now, this is cool. The ThreeSources readership includes veterans of the Storage Industry, and predictive markets players and workers, (plus a couple other guys...)
I ran into an old friend and fellow storage warrior last weekend. He is involved with several projects, but one that really caught my fancy was StorageMarkets.com, a predictive market for the storage industry. Industry folk can wager virtual dollars on questions like "When the first 2TB 3.5” hard disk drive will be publicly announced" or "Which hardware implementation of encryption will have the highest market share by the end of 2008?" or "When will a majority of customers require storage systems that support both block and file I/O in the same system as evidenced by sales?"
Hey, there's a switch: the economists' eyes are glazing over!
It is a cool site and I am told that my (work) email address will get me a membership. I can beg for anybody else that is interested. Here is the site, or here is a blog that provides summaries and news items.
The Dems' Fox Debate
Something tells me that jk would love this:
Big Oil Collusion
Are you sure about that?
Big oil companies did not conspire to raise U.S. gasoline prices last summer, as it was high crude oil costs and supply problems that caused the spike in pump prices, government investigators said on Thursday.
So what they're saying is that fluctuations in supply and demand cause prices to go up (and down?) Not some cabal of evil white men?
Get outta here.
It was Only $100 Million
A union shell group raises and spends $100 million illegally, and the punishment is a fine of less than 1% -- I bet they spent more on coffee.
Yet another problem with government regulation of campaign finance -- besides its explicitly contravening the First Amendment -- is that the laws have no teeth. Like the mob, you just budget for some fines in your business plan. John Fund reports on the recent decision against "Americans Coming Together."
The Federal Election Commission has just found that Americans Coming Together, a top union group active in the 2004 presidential election, spent $100 million illegally on federal election activity that year. The agency imposed a fine of just $775,000 -- and not one dime will go back to the union workers who financed ACT's illegal activities with their forced payment of dues.
I'm sure they'll start with the GOP, John.
To show the superiority of free markets, I frequently cite telecom (and, of course, the iPod) as examples. So does Mayor Giuliani. When Larry Kudlow asked him about health care he said "How did we make cell phones affordable? We let the market work."
I have to compliment my collectivist foes on strategy. If they can ruin the markets where the markets work, Classical Liberals will no longer have any examples. So, the FCC and a consumer group have decided it's time to regulate the most successful free market in my lifetime.
WSJ Ed Page (paid link):
Now, if the Senate could dictate the size and cost of MP3 players...
August 29, 2007
On Robber Barons
Hillsdale History Professor Burton W. Folsom, pens a guest editorial in the Wall Street Journal today (paid link) and hits one of my favorite themes. Mexican telecom magnate Carlos Slim is derided as a robber baron. Folsom steps in to defend the robber barons:
Whoever satisfied the most customers would have the largest businesses. Only when Rockefeller sold cheap kerosene to tens of millions of Americans did he become the nation's first billionaire. "We must ever remember," Rockefeller told his partner, "we are refining oil for the poor man and he must have it cheap and good." Ironically, the price of Rockefeller's kerosene dropped to eight cents a gallon in 1885 from 26 cents in 1870 -- all the while he was viciously pilloried as a monopolist by the press, Congress and his competitors.
Rockefeller provided poor people with heat and light to earn his pejorative sobriquet. When people run him down, I always think of the old mining bumpersticker "Let the Bastards Freeze in the Dark!" Not only does Folsom honor the Robber Barons, but he tells Senor Slim: "I knew Robber Barons, Robber Barons were friends of mine, Son, you ain't no Robber Baron." Oh wait, that was Sen. Lloyd Bentsen.
His major opportunity came when President Carlos Salinas de Gortari decided to privatize some inefficient industries. Mr. Slim bought Telmex, the nation's phone company, in 1990 in a controversial auction which was decidedly less than transparent. With that purchase came a six-year monopoly guaranteed by the government. Although Mr. Slim was supposed to relinquish the monopoly in 1997, he used a variety of legal and political tools to maintain it, for example filing injunctions in court to block orders from the regulator to provide competitors fair access to his network. According to OECD figures, Mexican consumers and businesses still pay above market telephone rates. Fewer than one-fourth of Mexican homes have telephones.
Mitt! on Larry! (UPDATED: Tonight Too)
The former Governor of the Commonwealth takes some licks for his health care plan(s) around here, but he will be able to defend himself in a one-on-one interview with Larry Kudlow tonight. CNBC 5:00PM Eastern. It is an exceptional venue to hear the candidates’ economic ideas.
UPDATE I: Part of the interview will be shown tonight (Aug 29), including the discussion of health care. I'm a Giuliani supporter, so discount my opinion as you see fit, but I'd have to say that he was unimpressive last night. He swung and missed at some softballs. "Do we need a SarbOx for lending?" Governor Romney said no, but conceded that there might be a place for Washington to make sure that customers understood their loans.
Hugh Hewitt always talks about how clear and in command of the facts Romney is, and that once people see him, they are really impressed. He did not come across as in control last night, and he won’t find a friendlier interview until he is on Hewitt’s show.
UPDATE II: Here is the video:
August 28, 2007
TCSDaily carries an article I cannot agree with. I guess I'm going to have to send back my $500 buyoff from big oil this month.
But Jack Raia, a financial executive in New York, tries to defend NASA as a wealth creator.
Endless technologies were spawned at NASA that have improved the quality of life in the U.S. and in much of the world. Take the weather. Satellites orbit the earth and track storms, providing information to supercomputers on the Earth's surface that perform millions of calculations to arrive at the most likely outcome. Those satellites were placed in orbit by NASA and the computers performing the calculations are spin-offs of NASA programs.
I'll take obvious fallacies for $200, Alex. If NASA did not exist, we would not have satellites? Nobody but the government could do this? Running shoes, light materials for Aerospace applications. Government only.
I grew up in the Apollo days and I'll defend NASA funding for research and exploration. But it's not worth it for Tang. I think Raia does a disservice to claim that the byproducts outweigh what private investment could have accomplished. To do so allows NASA to stray from its mission of discovery and exploration to fund soft, PR projects like the International Space Station and "The First Hispanic Zoroastrian Certified Public Accountant In Space (TFHZCPAIS)."
NASA missions and their funding should be decided on their value as research and exploration; people can then decide how much they wish to fund. It is specious to claim a few commercial by-products as justification.
August 27, 2007
The summer just became a little less doldrumy. Don Luskin is back from vacation.
I suspect Paul Krugman will miss his absence. He takes down a Krugman column today where Krugman makes a perfect pitch for school choice. Only it's sarcastic. The idea of government's not running schools is so foreign to the ex-Princeton prof, he finds the idea humorous.
Unseen Effects of Regulation
Got to laugh to keep from crying. Volvo, highly revered in Boulder County, introduces a new efficiency concept car with a clean burning diesel engine and a new efficient transmission. It will lower emissions and improve fuel economy. But don't detail your Prius for trade-in value just yet:
Unfortunately, Volvo has no plans to introduce the Powershift or the diesel into the U.S. market. Apparently certifying the new engine for the U.S. market is too expensive at this point. And they’re unsure if there is enough customer support to back the effort. Too bad. We think both the transmission—and the diesel—would do quite well here.
Insty linked to this over the weekend and has also linked to 70+ MPG VW diesel cars. But none of them will be available here, because of our regulatory hurdles, designed (everybody now) to increase fuel economy and decrease emissions.
Frederic, call your office.
Posted by John Kranz at 12:05 PM
Bastiat On Iraq
ThreeSources's friend Josh Hendrickson at Everyday Economist has a smart piece this morning. He takes on those who now think that more command-and-control would have helped the Iraqi economy and concomitantly impeded the insurgency.
The EE links to reports that claim a slavish devotion to free market ideology spoiled an opportunity to keep services and jobs active in state-owned enterprises. He then responds with Bastiat's "seen and the unseen."
Messengers Thoma and Holland fail to take account of what is not seen on more than one account.
I hate to tell people what to do, but I'd suggest one reads the whole thing.
WSJ Steals from Me
I'm not complaining. Without the good folks at Dow Jones, I would have posted less than a third over the years.
Today, the lead Editorial steals my headline, "RomneyCare 2.0," and my thesis (paid link).
So this is a step forward for Mr. Romney on health policy, largely because it doesn't take Massachusetts as its model. Though he still regards that state's 2006 "universal" health insurance program as one of his signal achievements as Governor, his new proposal drops the most coercive elements, such as the individual mandate and the "pay or play" sanctions on businesses. Perhaps this intellectual progress is due to the influence of new Romney advisers Glenn Hubbard and John Cogan, both respected health-care economists.
I hope they don't pick up my typographical errors...
August 26, 2007
Hard Economic Times
It's tough out west ya know.
The owner of a fast food joint in Montana's booming oil patch found himself outsourcing the drive-thru window to a Texas telemarketing firm, not because it's cheaper but because he can't find workers.
Whew... awful... starving babies in the streets, packs of dogs roaming... even a booming economy is bad news.
Texas, On Messing With
Statement by Robert Black, spokesman for Texas Governor Rick Perry, concerning the European Union’s appeal that Texas enact a moratorium on the death penalty:
230 years ago, our forefathers fought a war to throw off the yoke of a European monarch and gain the freedom of self-determination. Texans long ago decided that the death penalty is a just and appropriate punishment for the most horrible crimes committed against our citizens. While we respect our friends in Europe, welcome their investment in our state and appreciate their interest in our laws, Texans are doing just fine governing Texas.
August 25, 2007
"Top Gear" on BBC America
Great news for satellite TV customers. BBC America is now showing the best show the BBC has ever aired: Top Gear with Jeremy Clarkson. I don't know how long they have been showing it, but they advertise a new episode Monday night at 8:00 Eastern and showed a couple of episodes this afternoon. It felt like connecting with an old and dear friend.
I used to watch this in the UK and have been amazed for years that they do not show it here. They have seen the error of their ways. If you have not seen this show and get the BBC America channel, give it a try.
Posted by John Kranz at 5:33 PM
They talk about movie plots as "formulaic;" here's the formula.
Young, idealistic member of X, where X is an element of a disadvantaged racial group in the United States encounters disadvantaged youth and winds up sharing his love of Y, where Y is an element of a popular activity but is NOT an element of activities considered popular for members of racial group X. Youths show great promise in activity Y after initial skepticism and demonstrate level of competency Z. Z is contiguous over a wide domain of X and Y.
I tease but confess that I almost always like these films. One worth watching was "Pride," newly released on DVD. X=African-American, Y=swimming, and I can't give you Z because I don’t do spoilers.
Three and three-quarters stars. If you like these films.
August 24, 2007
The Universe is Wrong
There's a one billion lightyear wide hole in the universe.
Astronomers don't know why the hole is there.
No, it's perfectly normal... perhaps your computer simulations are wrong?
What happened to science? Computer modelling is not science!
I wanted to say something about Senator Warner's attempt to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory. But Scrappleface has done it sooner and better:
(2007-08-24) — Sen. John Warner, R-VA, yesterday called on President George Bush to start bringing troops home from Iraq “to show al Qaeda that the U.S. commitment to fighting Muslim terrorists overseas is not open-ended."
Governor Romney (Mitt! 'round these parts) is announcing his health care plan today. And it is thankfully not an expansion of the mandated insurance plan enacted under his watch in "the Commonwealth." It sounds closer to the Bush and Giuliani plans. From the news pages of the Wall Street Journal (paid link):
In a speech before the Florida Medical Association in Hollywood, Fla., Mr. Romney will present a program that won't include new government mandates for individuals or companies to buy coverage, policies long considered anathema by many conservatives -- and that were features of the program enacted in Massachusetts.
We can all evolve. Seriously, this raises the Governor a few notches in my sights, though I will be interested to see how he rhetorically squares this with his previous plan.
August 23, 2007
Free Health Care
So. We have a woman in hospital waiting for the procedure that will abort her baby, a child she had wanted to bear and raise. Not a pleasant situation at any time, but what followed next was disconcerting to read about even for those who have grown weary of NHS "war stories".
Natalie Solent @ Samizdata, goes on to print accounts that nursing staff refused to help. Whether that is true or not, this is about as grisly a tale as you can hear. I'm no doctor but I cannot believe that this child would noy have had a good chance at being born alive in the US.
Remember this sad story anytime anybody says "Universal Heal..." but remember it when some Michael Moore claims our infant mortality rate is higher than Country X -- you can bet the price of next month's health care premium that Country X doesn't mind allowing a premature baby to die.
If Sicko is correct, this woman was refunded her transportation expenses as she left. I'm sure that was ameliorating.
A Friendly Voice in the Crowd
The Glenn and Helen Show today interviews Law Professor Richard Epstein, about his new book Overdose: How Excessive Government Regulation Stifles Pharmaceutical Innovation.
It's a 35:16 podcast on my favorite topic. It gives me hope that this issue is starting to get a little traction outside of the WSJ Ed Page. There's a long way to go but I look forward to the book.
August 22, 2007
We're Number Thirty-Seven!
John Stossel lays low a "2000 World Health Organization (WHO) rating of 191 nations and a Commonwealth Fund study of wealthy nations published last May" which ranked the U. S. 37th in health care.
First let's acknowledge that the U.S. medical system has serious problems. But the problems stem from departures from free-market principles. The system is riddled with tax manipulation, costly insurance mandates and bureaucratic interference. Most important, six out of seven health-care dollars are spent by third parties, which means that most consumers exercise no cost-consciousness. As Milton Friedman always pointed out, no one spends other people's money as carefully as he spends his own.
The US loses points for traffic accidents, lifestyle, violence and an "unfair" apportionment of health care. Stossel takes no prisoners (and scores points for invoking Friedman -- this is an ABC Journalist after all!)
TNR has broken its silence on the Scott Beauchamp contretemps. Jonathan Chait writes a hit piece on William Kristol:
Kristol's sensibility is perfectly summed up in one representative passage from a recent issue. The topic was The New Republic's decision to publish an essay by Scott Beauchamp, an American soldier serving in Iraq, detailing some repugnant acts he said he and his comrades committed. Legitimate questions have been raised about this essay's veracity. (We've been publishing updates on our continuing efforts to get answers to them at tnr.com.) But Kristol rushed past these questions, immediately declaring the piece a "fiction." Offering up his interpretation of why tnr would publish such slanders, he concluded, in an editorial titled, "They Don't Really Support the Troops":
How dare he expose our making s**t up to advance our political agenda! Read the whole thing, if you can. It seems they were just "edifying their readers."
The Least Intelligent Member of the Senate
It's a great party game and I'd be the first to concede that many of my beloved Republicans are in the running. But Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan has a special place in my heart. I once saw Larry Kudlow interview her and she had no idea where he was coming from, did not understand the questions -- I'm not sure she knew where she was.
Today, ThreeSources' big-time-blogger-friend, Extreme Mortman, gives us a quote from the junior Senator:
“The expectations when we took control in January were so high, and we all feel it,” Stabenow told the Lansing State Journal editorial board last week. “We kind of feel like everybody thought the Democrats are now in control of the House and Senate, the war is going to end, we are going to have universal health care, everybody’s going to be able to go to college, no more global warming.”
The disappointment is palpable, Senator. I still have MS and the pop music of the day is jejune and unmelodic.
No Acronym Left Behind
W shill that I am, I have provided some tepid support for No Child Left Behind on this blog. I always thought that President Bush got rolled by Senator Kennedy in his "fool me once" phase of his attempts to work across the aisle. The President was seeking accountability and the Senior Senator from the briny deep was seeking more Federal dollars to hand out.
Everyday Economist links to Cato's Andrew J. Coulson's take on yet another Federal Education Acronymed Restructuring (FEAR). This time it is America COMPETES. Colson points out that it includes no competition.
Just as with the NDEA, we should not be surprised by these [disappointing NCLB] results. Measures like NCLB, America COMPETES, and their fellow alphabetic travelers are the education policy analogues of perestroika — Mikhail Gorbachev’s attempt to “fix” Soviet socialism by tinkering around its edges. Gorbachev’s efforts failed, it is now widely acknowledged, because they omitted certain crucial elements of free markets: prices that are determined by supply and demand instead of by central planners, private instead of state ownership of enterprises – that sort of thing. America’s public school monopolies are like socialist economies in small; centrally planned, uncompetitive, state-owned. Just as Gorbachev’s piece-meal reforms couldn’t fix his system, neither can such half-measures fix ours.
I supported NCLB in the context of the "ownership society" because it seeked to inject some accountability. And, laugh if you will, but anything my Union Teacher Relatives (UTRs) loathed so much had to have some redeeming qualities.
I cannot stand up to Coulson. NCLB had a wisp of competition, but if the Feds cannot break down the union monopoly, they should stay the hell out.
Rudy's Immigration Pander
The WSJ Ed Page (or, as Michelle Malkin would call them, the "Open Borders WSJ Ed Page") asks whether Mitt! and Rudy! are "competing for the Republican Presidential nomination, or for the job of vacation replacement for Lou Dobbs?"
GOP Immigration Meltdown (free link)
Then again, maybe Hugh Hewitt is right. Trashing the economy and alienating the fastest voting block in the country really is the path to big Republican sweeps in 2008. Yaaay Team!
Taranto Not Needed
WaPo email headline:
Posted by John Kranz at 10:22 AM
August 21, 2007
Can You Watch HAMNation?
I don't know if it is Vista® or some other virus (just kidding I am the third-to-last Sharanskyite and the last guy who likes Vista®) but I have not been able to watch the video clips at TownHall in many months.
Granted most of them are just telling me how swell Governor Romney is and how bad "illegals" are, but I have always enjoyed Mary Katherine Ham's HamNation clips. I get the player up, I click, and then I get control buttons but nothing ever plays.
This work for you?
Well, something sure is false. Say, when TNR supported the liberation of Iraq.
I have complained before that it is disingenuous for them to demand action in Sudan when they have abandoned the effort in Iraq. That's old news and seeking consistency of reason from the left is a loser's game.
BUT! After l'Affaire Beauchamp, you'd think they'd be concerned about another brave generation of idealistic American soldiers, marines and airmen becoming ensconced in the depravity that is war. Why Beauchamp turned into a complete asshole in a staging base. Surely we can't subject innocent troops to this.
I linked to The Nation this morning and told my emailer that at least they were honestly whacked. TNR's fall defies description.
The Club for Growth issues it's Mitt Romney report.
"Governor Romney's economic record contains a mixture of pro-growth accomplishments and some troublesome positions that beg to be explained," said Club for Growth President Pat Toomey. "While his record on taxes, spending, and entitlement reform is flawed, it is, on balance, encouraging, especially given the liberal Massachusetts Legislature. His record on trade, school choice, regulations and tort reform all indicate a strong respect for the power of market solutions. At the same time, Governor Romney's history is marked by statements at odds with his gubernatorial record and his campaign rhetoric."
Despite the reservations, they are OK with him as President.
The State of the Left
A good friend of this blog sends a pair of links to be enjoyed together.
In An Investment in Failure Thomas Sowell points out that, back to Karl Marx, the left has no interest in those rising out of poverty. Once you cease to be an object for their polity, you are -- if I may borrow a word from Senator Clinton -- invisible.
At one point, Marx wrote to his disciples: "The working class is revolutionary or it is nothing."
Over at The Nation, their words speak pretty loud as well. Barbara Ehrenreich cannot contain her glee that the subprime crisis is Smashing Capitalism but she is mad that it is not self directed. You really have to read this in full (it's blissfully short), but here's a taste:
The American poor, who are usually tactful enough to remain invisible to the multi-millionaire class, suddenly leaped onto the scene and started smashing the global financial system. Incredibly enough, this may be the first case in history in which the downtrodden manage to bring down an unfair economic system without going to the trouble of a revolution.
Like my disappointment at "The Glorious Revolution," however, the serendipity of it annoys her.
Personally, I prefer my revolutions to be a little more pro-active. There should be marches and rallies, banners and sit-ins, possibly a nice color theme like red or orange. Certainly, there should be a vision of what you intend to replace the bad old system with--European-style social democracy, Latin American-style socialism, or how about just American capitalism with some regulation thrown in?
Capitalism will survive? Damn.
Bloomberg is correct
Truer words have never been spoken:
Influential Democrat Senator calls for overthrow of elected leader
Pity the poor Iraqis. They are going to learn about democracy from the likes of Senator Carl Levin. One can question the competence or efficiency of PM Nouri al-Malaki, but he is the first freely elected Prime Minister under the new self-directed Constitution on a free Iraq. WaPo: Senator Calls for Malaki's Ouster
Levin is understandably cranky that the American troops are doing so well -- but it is still irresponsible of him to call for the ouster of an elected leader in a sovereign nation.
Declaring the government of Iraq "non-functional," the influential chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee said yesterday that Iraq's parliament should oust Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his cabinet if they are unable to forge a political compromise with rival factions in a matter of days.
But the Democrats are conflicted. Is defeat their goal or should they be content to whack President Bush through any victory? We'll have to convene some focus groups, but in the meantime, there's division.
Still, Democrats have quietly begun to voice a view that Maliki must go; Durbin said he told White House national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley that last week. But they acknowledge that they do not know what would happen next. If it appeared that Maliki had been ousted at Washington's behest, his replacement would be seen as a U.S. puppet -- a "kiss of death" in the region, Durbin said.
I hate being such a partisan hack, but the conduct of the Democratic leadership is so much at odds with our nation's -- and the world's -- interest, I cannot ascribe any good motives.
August 20, 2007
How Are You Paying Yours?
Bill Maher, Profile in Courage
Jonathan Last at Galley Slaves is extremely impressed. It seems that Bill Maher is releasing a movie called "Religious," next Easter. And Maher is going to risk Hollywood ostracism by actually criticizing religion. I hope he does not crack under the pressure. Last says “This is why we have artists--to speak truth to the powerful."
Anyway, Maher had this to say about the movie, "We talked to everybody. We went everywhere. We went to every place where there is religion. We went to Vatican City. We went to Jerusalem. We went to Salt Lake City. And I think I’ve insulted everybody!"
Some of That Free Health Care
In 1934, Canada saw the arrival of five identical quintuplet sisters. In 2007, a woman starting labor with quadruplets was flown 325 miles to Great Falls Montana to avoid free health care.
There is a difference between health care and health insurance. In capitalistic America, the concentration is on health. In socialistic Canada, the emphasis is on paying the bills. The story ended with how much the American hospital charged. Looks like a quarter-million bucks for a 5-day stay. Given that it was the quadruple birth of 2-pound babies two months premature, I’d say it was a bargain.
Don Surber also brings up the irony of being flown from Calgary, a modern metropolis with more than 1,000,000 people to Great Falls Montana (pop. 56,215).
Sharanskyism, circa 2007
This blog was christened in the heady days of the Orange and Cedar revolutions. Secretary Rice and President Bush were photographed with Natan Sharansky's The Case for Democracy. The second inaugural address was a book report.
The WaPo carries a comprehensive and sobering look at Bush's goal to end tyranny. Peter Baker's piece is titled "As Democracy Push Falters, Bush Feels Like a 'Dissident'" The President says he wears the "dissident" label with pride but I don't think anybody can be satisfied with "falters."
The days after the speech were heady. Eight million Iraqis went to the polls to elect an interim parliament, their purple-stained fingers a global symbol of emerging democracy. A political assassination in Lebanon triggered demonstrations known as the Cedar Revolution that toppled a pro-Syrian government and forced Damascus to end a three-decade occupation. And protests over a stolen election in Kyrgyzstan ousted another entrenched leader in the Tulip Revolution.
When the Iraq poll numbers were nose diving, I told people that I was the last Sharanskyite. Now that the ambition is being blasted from Senator Carl Levin and Rep Ron Paul, I read this blog's beloved tag line and affirm myself to the Case.
Some people I respect around here are comfortable with a Hobbsion bellum omnium contra omnes but I see American economic and security interests are well served by the propagation of liberal values. Today, totalitarian regimes -- maybe someday even the U.S. State Department.
It's going to take time. I would have been a little kinder than Sharansky:
Still, after an invigorating start in 2005, progress has been harder to find. Among those worried about the project is Sharansky, whose book so inspired Bush. "I give him an A for bringing the idea and maybe a C for implementation," said Sharansky, now chairman of the Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies at the Shalem Center in Israel. "There is a gap between what he says and what the State Department does," and he is not consistent enough.
Down, the Republican Party
"Immigration will be to the Republicans what Iraq withdrawal is to the Democrats," says Jeff Birnbaum on FOX NEWS's The Beltway Boys. It is August and the folks at FOX could not round up a liberal to fill Morton Kondracke's seat.
UPDATE: YouTube is a great forum for nuanced debate. The comments I drew to my posting on Speaker Pelosi made we want to join her side. Today I get this:
The Beltway Boys are for Open Borders. Screw them!
August 19, 2007
NASA Scientist Lashes Out
Dave Price at Dean's World compares NASA Scientist James Hansen to Ann Coulter. He's dead on, although I bet she has better hair.
When you're working to advance science, the appropriate response when someone finds an error in your data or calculations is contrition (best expressed by an openness to further scrutiny and re-evaluation), and perhaps gratitude that truth has been served. James Hansen, on the other hand... well, read for yourself:
Do read it for yourself. Errors are discovered in his data set, so he calls those who found them "jesters" and impugns their motives. Our tax dollars at work. It is as polemical as Ms. Coulter but I never heard her sound quite so childish.
On the good side, I give Hansen points for using the word 'usufruct,' although he seems a couple of degrees off there as well.
August 18, 2007
More Media Nonsense
The media has absolutely nothing to say about anything -- at least not enough to maintain 24-hour news channels. First, Obama wasn't black enough. Then Hillary wasn't woman enough. Now, Fred doesn't know which shoes to wear. All this is apparently considered important information when choosing our next leader.
August 17, 2007
The 08 Race
Zoinks... Senator Foot In Mouth is down by 30 points to Senator Former First Lady in California.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton is expanding her lead in California as excitement for Illinois Sen. Barack Obama is fading among Golden State voters, a new Field Poll revealed Thursday.
On the GOP side, Mitt! won an Illinois straw poll.
Illinois state Republican party chairman, Andy McKenna, said Romney won the Illinois Straw poll at the Illinois State Fair. "Congratulations to Mitt Romney, whose strong showing today indicates he has begun to put together a strong statewide organization," McKenna said. "There's no question that Illinois' demographics closely match those of the United States and this could be an indication as to whom Illinois voters are leaning toward this coming February."
Rudy! came in fourth, seven point behind Ron Paul, of all people.
The other day, a friend told me that he thinks Fred! Thompson wouldn't be entering the race... certainly I'm getting tired of waiting. Though I will probably support the GOP ticket no matter what, I would be favorably disposed to a Romney/Thompson ticket, if he doesn't run, or a Thompson/Romney ticket if he wins.
If Hillary! trounces the rest of the field, does that adversely impact her choosing a VP from the also-rans? John Edwards toughed it out with John Kerry well into the primary season, possibly helping him secure the nod. (Being a southerner didn't hurt either)
Who is John Galt....
...and where the heck has he been for the last month? I'm sure that everyone's missed my polite rectitude and insightful wit as I've been too busy to post, comment, or even read the blog. Here's why:
This is the "hot box" facility within dagny's new indoor riding arena and horse barn. It's comin' along...
Former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson pens a nice piece about "the architect."
But in several years as a colleague, I found Rove to be the most unusual political operative I have ever known; so exceptional he doesn't belong in the category. His most passionate, obsessive love -- after his wife -- is American history. He visits its shrines and collects its scraps -- carefully archived pictures of President William McKinley's funeral, original ballots from the 1860 election. And from American history Rove knows: Events are not moved primarily by techniques; they are moved by ideas.
Harrison Bergeron's post last week on "Kos" highlighted what a negative impact the Netroots' tactics will have on their own preferred candidates. Today Kim Strassel interviews a moderate Democrat who survived a Kos-inspired primary challenge: Henry Cuellar (free link).
Yet a lively midweek chat with Mr. Cuellar suggests that this campaign of threats isn't necessarily having the intended effect. If anything, it might be backfiring. "They win when they intimidate people," says Mr. Cuellar. "I've taken everything they've thrown, plus their kitchen sink, and I still stand proud as a moderate-conservative Democrat." He says his triumph over blogger fire has only strengthened his conviction that his party will only win elections if it continues to be a "big tent" open to all views. "To make that tent smaller, to force people--not to persuade, but to force, because these are threats--to quiet down, that's destructive in the long term and the short term."
Though we have different limits around here, I think we all agree that politics is a balance of enlarging the tent for electoral victory and maintaining ideas to make it meaningful.
Kos seems to be bent on creating the smallest Democratic tent and, as hb exposed, not bothering to tie it to any ideas or policy of consequence.
August 16, 2007
I can't sit on bad news. John Fund writes a troubling item in Wednesday's Political Diary:
Rudy Giuliani has decided to become very tough on immigration. Stung by criticism from Mitt Romney that he presided over a "sanctuary city" in the 1990s when New York refused to report the immigration status of illegal aliens, Mr. Giuliani gave a speech in South Carolina yesterday in which he announced: "We can end illegal immigration. I promise you we can end illegal immigration."
I'm still on board, but this is easily the most disappointing thing I have read about Giuliani. His position has "evolved" from right to wrong.
One Good Thing bout Rudy
After being virtually tied with Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton for several months, Republican contender Rudy Giuliani now leads Clinton up 47% to 40% in the latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey.
Clinton leads Senator Thompson by three.
Posted by John Kranz at 5:08 PM
They Can't All Be Beauchamp
Great dispatch from Iraq in The Corner.
Along the op route, we stopped by the house of a poor Iraqi family with at least seven small kids — beautiful, smiling children (girls and boys, none more than 10-years-old) all wanting to hold my hand, and wear my sunglasses and helmet. Of course, I let them. One of them — a smiling boy of about eight— was sitting on the floor, naked, his lower body partially covered by a sheet. At first I noticed his little hand when he reached up for mine: His left index finger was gone and the dirty remaining nub was somewhat ragged looking.
That depravity of war thing. If you can read this coast to coast without tearing up, you have no pulse.
Thanks to all who serve.
August 15, 2007
Oldies but Goodies
Extreme Mortman remembers Newsweek's Global Cooling.
Who Said This?
We look upon authority too often and focus over and over again, for 30 or 40 or 50 years, as if there is something wrong with authority. We see only the oppressive side of authority. Maybe it comes out of our history and our background. What we don't see is that freedom is not a concept in which people can do anything they want, be anything they can be. Freedom is about authority. Freedom is about the willingness of every single human being to cede to lawful authority a great deal of discretion about what you do.*cringe*
Good News from the Battlefield
Pretty good news out of Iraq these days, but I am talking about Roy Spencer's piece on TCSDaily: "A Report from the Global Warming Battlefield." He is right that it has become a war.
In case you hadn't noticed, the global warming debate has now escalated from a minor skirmish to an all-out war. Although we who are skeptical of the claim that global warming is mostly manmade have become accustomed to being the ones that take on casualties, last week was particularly brutal for those who say we have only 8 years and 5 months left to turn things around, greenhouse gas emissions-wise.
I'll admit that I find myself hoping for a slow hurricane season, just to confound the alarmists. Of course, that is childish, unscientific, and irrelevant. At least I am not rooting for hurricanes like the other side.
Spencer lines up the Y2K bug, faulty thermometer placement, then adds a paper that he has published.
Next, my own unit and I published satellite measurements that clearly show a natural cooling mechanism in the tropics which all of the leading computerized climate models have been insisting is a warming mechanism (Spencer et al., August 9, 2007 Geophysical Research Letters).
All this against a Newsweek cover story that was refuted by a Newsweek columnist. A good week.
Kos is not a libertarian
We know that Markos Moulitsas is a partisan hack. He believes that Karl Rove is responsible for the bridge collapse in Minnesota, he believes that socialist progressives (my words, not his) are the new "center", and he does not think that Democrats should ever be criticized (although he does believe that the party needs cleaning). Kos also pretends to be a libertarian, abeit in is own words a "modified and twisted around version of libertarianism." In reality, Kos and his followers are a growing threat to individual liberty and freedom from government.
What is disturbing about Kos is that, unlike many activists, he is not really an idealogue. When asked for the three most important issues for the candidates in 2008 on Meet the Press, he did not name a single issue. His sole purpose in life, it seems, is to get Democrats elected (well, only those who oppose the war in Iraq).
The political realm should be one of ideas. Personally, I subscribe to the ideas of individual liberty and free market economics. Kos, however, subscribes to the idea of party loyalty and ridding the party of those who are not loyal to the cause.
Given the fact that the Kossacks are big government socialist progressives, my hope is that the Kossacks are simply a fad within the Democratic Party.
Mayor Giuliani was in top form again on Kudlow & Company Monday night. Here is the segment on Health Care.
From the same interview:
Rooting For Global Warming
A "drain hole" in the St. Clair River caused by dredging and other commercial projects is costing Lakes Huron and Michigan a combined 2.5 billion gallons of water each day, according to a Canadian study released Tuesday.
Lake St Clair is two feet shallower than it should be.
Time for some glacier melt, man.
August 13, 2007
Hizzoner will be interviewed on Kudlow & Co. tonight. I encourage everyone to watch. Giuliani gets the supply side thing and Kudlow is a great venue for him.
A good friend of this blog also sends along a link to a New Yorker piece on Giuliani in South Carolina. I am just a few pages in and the piece drips with venom for those back-ass-ward southern Republicans, but it looks good.
UPDATE: Whoa. I think I'd be safe calling that a hit piece. Enmity from a New Yorker writer could be a big asset to the campaign. Rudy Giuliani as "Mayberry Man," indeed.
I've made no secret of my appreciation for Christopher Hitchens. "Hitch" has shown great courage, breaking with his fellow, Trotskyite travelers twice. Once to hold President Clinton accountable in the superb "No One Left to Lie To." Then, to support the war against Islamofascism, seeing the terrorists' goals as an assault against all that the left claims to hold dear. Even when he's not agreeing with me, he is an honest interlocutor for the left.
And yet. I just read his treatment of Thomas Paine's "Rights of Man." This is in the Books That Changed the World series, which I call Cliff's notes for grownups. P. J. O'Rourke's treatment of "Wealth of Nations was pretty good, but the overviews tend to be a little light for a book that you that truly interests you.
Hitchens's book on Paine is 158 pages. Amazon lists dimensions as 8.2 x 5.3 x 1 inches. You could hollow out a copy of the new Harry Potter and smuggle a dozen of these. He subtitles it "An Autobiography." He is far more concerned with the feud between Edmund Burke and Paine than in exegeting "Rights of Man." Fair Enough.
Paine was a complex figure. Most appreciate has fiery rhetoric in Common Sense, and the verve and fire he inculcated into the American Revolution. He was a champion of liberty, opposing monarchy, slavery, and religious oppression.
But he was completely hoodwinked by the Jacobins and could never see the French Revolution clearly. Hitchens doesn't sweep any of his flaws or failings under the rug, but he is willing to let a lot of them slide. I suspect that he wrote this simultaneously with "God is Not Great" and became enamored with a Paine-Hitchens congruence on religion. Plus the left does keep a soft spot for 1789.
In the end, Burke was right. Paine and Hitchens can legitimately criticize monarchy, but the Glorious Revolution that gave Britain its hybrid parliamentary monarchy has been a better friend to liberty than has France.
It's a quick read, Amazon will hook you up for $13.57, and I wouldn’t dissuade anyone from reading it. But I was not convinced. Three-point-seven-five stars.
August 12, 2007
Body Mass Index
The Becker-Posner Blog has another stellar discussion, this time on the obesity epidemic. Interesting points are made, although not as well as Penn & Teller's "Fat Guy Olympics." Gary Becker discusses societal reasons for obesity and the social networks (or secondhand fat) aspects. He accepts the Body Mass Index (BMI) uncritically:
Obesity is defined usually as a body-mass index of 30 or greater, where the body-mass index adjusts weight for height by dividing weight in kilograms by the square of height in meters.
Penn & Teller, by contrast, do not accept the BMI uncritically, pointing out it was the handiwork of a 19th Century Belgian. (!!!)
I challenge it as well. I'm tall and heavy and deserve whatever names old dead Belgians want to call me, but I think a little elementary math shows that vertical achievers come up short. The weight of a person sized object in good old Earth gravity will be directly proportional to its mass. I'll assume an average human density (imperfect but negligible for my purposes), so one's weight is proportional to one's volume.
This leaves us with a classic "related rates problem" in differential calculus. A spherical person would increase with the cube of his height, a cylindrical person would increase as the square assuming his radius were constant. So the BMI is appropriate, assuming that a 6'8" does not require any additional width than his 5'4" counterpart.
Does anybody believe this? The BMI might make some sense as a model, but it needs to be altered with a realistic exponent, between 2.0 and 3.0.
August 10, 2007
Thw W is now in question
Deleterious Anthropogenic Warming of the Globe (DAWG).
When I tell people about, I say that as we move right to left down this tendentious acronym, things get a bit harder to prove.
G - I like to concede that the Earth is round; this gives me a lot of cred around lefties.
This is to avoid the dreaded "denier" label that Newsweek has now picked up (raise your hand if you're surprised). I'm a skeptic, says I. Then I bring up the epistemology of Karl Popper and their eyes glaze over and they ask "do you have any more beer?"
Of late, there have been two stunning hits at the W. The first is the superb original blog reporting from surfacestations.org who had visited the collection sites in California and found egregious contraventions of standards: some comical like an asphalt parking lot under the sensor or a barbecue pit 10 ft away. (DoS attack on link at present. No comment.)
Yesterday, I read about the Y2K bug (I think off Insty) and I looked forward (lazy blogger, no link, no biscuit!) to somebody else fleshing it out. Not to be overly literal, but how did the Y2K bug affect the 1998 readings?
The private sector ought to demand the government revamp the temperature sensor network, with input from private-sector scientists and academia, to ensure that the data being collected is accurate from each sensor, and broadly accurate as well. The problem is that even if such a network of sensors was installed today, its data would still be compared to historical data from the current problematic network. Still, is it too much to ask that global warming policy be based on facts that we can trust?
If you see some good links on flat earth, let me know. We can kill this Global Warming thing where it lives.
UPDATE: Don Luskin is on it,.
UPDATE II: I have always hoped this acronym would be picked up by a bigger blog. Last night I thought a catchy jingle might help. To the tune of Nat King Cole's "L-O-V-E:"
D, is Dallas under rising seas,
Quote of the Day
"It's a waste of money" -- Rudy Giuliani, asked at a campaign event in Bettendorf, Iowa, why he wasn't taking part in Saturday's straw poll.Now, that's fiscal conservatism. Stolen from OpinionJournal Political Diary.
That right to life thing again
Under a Constitution that expressly protects the right to life, how did we get to where government can effectively restrict the right, and the courts will do nothing?Blogging on Steroids® makes me a more loquacious blogger. Sorry for the post lengths. This was to be included in my earlier post. They are separate but related ideas. And I thought folks might need a breather.
After my rant on the roadblocks to self directed health care and rent seeking mechanism that the pharmacy laws represent, Cato's Roger Pilon writes a guest editorial in the Wall Street Journal (free link on Cato site). He touches on the pharmacy regulations as a side effect of my other favorite topic: the FDA's clearly unconstitutional restrictions of our right to life. A D.C. Circuit decision has not gone my way, but Pilon shares a striking dissent, written by Judge Judith Rogers and joined by Chief Judge Douglas Ginsburg.
Citing the Fifth Amendment's right to life, the Ninth Amendment's assurance to the Constitution's ratifiers that the rights retained by the people far exceed those named in the document, and the Supreme Court's "fundamental rights" jurisprudence, Judge Rogers argued that the right to life, the right to self-preservation, and the right against interference with those rights — which the FDA is guilty of — are of one piece. They are deeply rooted in common law and the nation's history and traditions, implicit in the concept of ordered liberty, and thus "fundamental."
Read this brilliant piece coast to coast, even if you don't then have time to read my whiny personal post below.
Steven Colbert explains why common resources disappear and private goods persist (albeit in satire):
Blogging on Steroids®
I am going to have to join the libertarians. I never use that appellation on myself except when stealing Milton Friedman's line about a little-l libertarian and a big-r Republican. Yet I have allowed my National Review subscription to expire and find myself very excited when a new Reason shows up. I called myself a libertarian a few weeks ago for the first time.
Pardon the navel-gazing but I am "Blogging On Steroids®" this weekend. My last batch cost me $400 for the meds and $350 for home nursing services. Colorado suffered from extreme blizzards that week and, as I was experienced doing my own infusions, I told the nurses not to brave the elements. (UPDATE: Needless to say, they did not respond with "Okay, keep your $350.")
Thinking I am a pro now, I investigated a self-directed plan for this dose. The nurse I see for my clinical trial agreed to put the IV in. I had a few needle/catheters and supplies from the last batch. I still have a stand, and a couple of tubes, &c. Walgreens pharmacy said they could hook me up with the drugs for $269 (something about a Barry Bonds Special, I didn’t catch all the details...)
After every dose, you wash the line with a saline syringe and shoot in some Heparin, to keep your line smooth, clean and free of gunky deposits. I asked the Walgreen's Pharmacist about getting these and he could not without a separate prescription. I have a prescription for home care or ER for the application. Either would supply me a gob of these (35 ml in a gob).
But Mr. Pharmacist would not. "Federal Regulations" he tells me. I decide now is not the time for a Ninth Amendment discussion.
I call around and look around, but there seems to be no choice. I go to the Urgent care clinic. They are swell folks and check me into a room, offer me juice and take superb care of me. As they will on the next nine visits. The care is superb, but I will pay $500 bucks in copays and I-don't-even-wanna-know how much for hospital prices on the prescription. It is probably going to cost me $750 because the Pharmacist is proscribed from selling me an IV supply with an IV prescription. Madness!
I get my first dose last night. At the end she flushes with saline and I ask "Aren't you going to use Heparin?"
"No," she says. "We don't do that anymore."
August 9, 2007
TNR's Jonathan Cohn (did I motion his great hair?) has bravely read the troglodytes at National Review and found the difference between liberals and conservatives. It seems liberals care. Cohn found this outrageous gotcha quote in NR:
For liberal proponents of the expansion, all that matters is the net increase in insured children.
Cohn knows when to pounce:
Exactly! Liberals (and plenty of non-liberals) want to expand S-CHIP because they are determined, first and foremost, to maximize the number of kids with health insurance. You see, kids with health insurance can get medical care without causing their families financial difficulty, which means they tend to get more preventative care, and so on and so on...
I'm not inclined to defend NR to the hilt. We haven't really found rapprochement after they lead the party yahoos on immigration. But I am convinced that that line was part of a nuanced article about the wisdom of getting more people on government care and crowding out private insurance. Cohn finds the "but" quote and disingenuously runs with it.
And we cannot link to TNR without noting more deafening silence on l'Affaire Beauchamp. Galley Slave Jonathan V. Last credits TNR with a coup for signing the exceptional-former-Buffy-writer Jane Espenson. I think it is great too, but wonder if their marketing department really wants to push the addition of a great fiction writer to the staff. Maybe next month...
Lame Duck This!
Please oh please oh please let this bylined story in the WaPo be true.
President Bush said yesterday that he is considering a fresh plan to cut tax rates for U.S. corporations to make them more competitive around the world, an initiative that could further inflame a battle with the Democratic Congress over spending and taxes and help define the remainder of his tenure.
That would be a good fight to spend the balance of his tenure upon. It's a good story, covering Bush's tough stance on letting his signature tax cuts expire, and the fight over whether a Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae bailout is the best solution for the "subprime-lending-crisis." Senator Schumer and Congressman Frank, mirabile non dictu, think that's a good idea.
Thankfully, for a year and a half, we have the right person in the White House.
August 8, 2007
Populism and Transportation
In the wake of the bridge collapse in Minnesota, The New York Times recently published a piece on the bizarre spending habits of the government when it comes to transportation:
Reading the article, I could not help but to be reminded of this:
"Jimmy P" on Democrat Campaign Economics
James Pethokoukis (Kudlow calls him "Jimmy P") watched the Democrats debate in front of organized labor the other night, and says Democratic Debate Spawns Weird Economics.
It is worth noting what a service to the world that US News and World Report provides by carrying Pethokoukis (and Michael Barone, of course). I always lumped it in with Time and Newsweek, but these are two thoughtful and talented writers.
Happy Birthday, Insty!
As the breast blogger said (I cannot quite find the link, sorry) "Glenn wouldn't link to me if I were on fire and was liveblogging it." AlexC has scored the coveted Instalanche on both ThreeSources and Pstupidonymous.
But I come to praise Glenn, not spam him in link-whoring messages. Seriously, his six years of prolific and intelligent production on Instapundit has altered our world as significantly as most politicians, media figures and business leaders.
He has kept his edge and his cool. I disagreed with him violently on immigration, but on about everything else he either hits me where I live, or gives me a new way to think it. I started reading Andrew Sullivan more than Professor Reynolds, but I think I've read every post of his for the last four years at least.
Well done, sir.
There Are Free Lunches
I don't wish to besmirch Robert Heinlein's Centenary. Yet I fear that his words are being used in a way of which he might have disapproved.
TNSSAAFL is a great tool for those who oppose expanding the scope, cost, and coercive power of government. It is a good principle to keep in mind, but I suggest that it is not universally true. The free market delivers millions of free lunches everyday.
I signed up for the Eat & Enjoy Rewards card at Chili's (yes, I am quite the epicurean!) For registering it online, I get a free appetizer. Have you seen their portions? I can make a lunch out of that and probably bring some home. "But you gave them your email address, they can spam you and track your purchases!" Still pretty close to free for me. I get 142 spams a day instead of 141 -- I bet there's will be better than discu0nt c!@l|s.
I'm not shilling for the card, I'm shilling for the free market. Blog friend Josh Hendrickson invokes TNSTAALF on a great post today about The Myth of Preventative Health Care. I don't disagree with the thesis of the article. But the linked article makes a leap:
“Fundamentally, if you’re going to control health care costs, it involves denying people care they want — or things they’ve been trained to think they want,” Mr. Gruber says. “There is no easy answer.”
I disagree. The market frequently provides people what they want -- or things they have been trained to want. I just got a free Motorola Razr for upping my service contract for two years. I want the phone, and I am happy on T-Mobile. I can get calls at Chili's for free on weekends.
In health care, I always cite maternity care and Lasik surgery. Two areas where the free market has influenced price and service have seen drastic improvements while the rest of the health care system has seen price gains and service stagnation. Insurance typically does not cover Lasik surgery, so market forces prevail. The costs have gone from thousands per eye to hundreds for both. Our bass player got a guarantee: anytime his vision drops below 20/20, they'll provide the procedure for free.
They built a beautiful new hospital in Boulder that I've heard called "the Maternity Marriott." It has WiFi and nice chairs and stylish hallways. The specialty is maternity. Services are still funded through insurance, so there is no price competition. Yet this hospital is one of many updating comfort, design and service to compete for a hospital stay where the choice is the patient's and not the ambulance driver.
Dig Heinlein, fight government intrusion, but do not use TNSTAAFL to accept the status quo ante.
August 7, 2007
Yo, China Bashers!
The Club for Growth has compiled stats on the rate of growth of exports to China by Congressional District and has posted those of the members of the House Ways & Means Committee on its blog.
These are awesome numbers! Why on Earth would we want to enact protectionist policies against China and put at risk our ever-increasing ability to send them more of our stuff? Bottom line: For the last seven years, American businesses in these 41 districts have experienced an average growth rate of 321% in their sales to China. But despite this fabulous surge, some of the members listed below want to enact policies that will spark a trade war and defuse this growth, the idea of which is pure lunacy.
Larry Kudlow calls the "Smoot" Schumer and "Hawley" Graham. Yeah, let's start a trade war.
Hat-tip: Don Luskin
We've Always been at War with Eurasia!
A search on The New Republic for “Shock Troops” turns up no results; they’ve apparently removed Scott Beauchamp’s articles without a word.
A once proud magazine. Marty Peretz, come home, we need you.
Racism and Sexism in Politics
Elizabeth Edwards thinks her poor, white husband just cannot catch a break:
"In some ways, [Web marketing is] the way we have to go," Edwards says. "We can't make John black, we can't make him a woman. Those things get you a lot of press, worth a certain amount of fundraising dollars. Now it's nice to get on the news, but not the be all and end all."
I don't know where to start, this is wrong on so many levels. So, I think I'll stop.
August 6, 2007
Son of Anarcho Capitalism
We dabbled a bit in the far reaches of liberty theory last month, thanks to papers on Anarcho Capitalism provided by ThreeSources brother Harrison Bergeron. I had a good time, but remained unconvinced.
Peter Leeson, who wrote one of the papers in question has a commentary on Cato's Unbound section on the topic. If you did not read the paper, be sure to at least read this. It is interesting and it pushes one's notions of the purpose of government (hat-tip to Everyday Economist).
I was thinking about this as I read Michael Barone's "Our First Revolution" (review). Leeson opens his second paragraph invoking Thomas Hobbes. Hobbes wrote Leviathan in 1651, after the civil was and beheading of Charles I. He discusses Bellum omnium contra omnes and, famously, describes "the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short." Among Hobbes's complaints is that the environment made wealth creation impossible. This got me thinking of Deepak Lal's Liberal International Economic Orders and the first logarithmic rise in wealth under Pax Britannia.
I don't think I'll join Hobbes in the call for a strong sovereign, but I take his description to heart and cannot be moved by Leeson's descriptions of success in Somalia.
In a recent study I compared Somali welfare under anarchy to welfare under government using all key development indicators for which data allowed comparison. According to the data, of the eighteen development indicators, fourteen show unambiguous improvement under anarchy. Life expectancy is higher today than was in the last years of government’s existence; infant mortality has improved twenty-four percent; maternal mortality has fallen over thirty percent; infants with low birth weight has fallen more than fifteen percentage points; access to health facilities has increased more than twenty-five percentage points; access to sanitation has risen eight percentage points; extreme poverty has plummeted nearly twenty percentage points; one year olds fully immunized for TB has grown nearly twenty percentage points, and for measles has increased ten; fatalities due to measles have dropped thirty percent; and the prevalence of TVs, radios, and telephones has jumped between three and twenty-five times.
You'll pardon me for suggesting that improvement over 1990s Somalia is a pretty low bar. I appreciate Leeson's points as academics and philosophy. When people seriously suggest them as an improvement or a blueprint for the governments in the US or Western Europe, I balk (as does Leeson).
Sadly, well-functioning, well-constrained governments like the ones we observe in the U.S. and western Europe are not part of this choice set. Ultra-predatory, corrupt, and abusive governments, however, are. And so is anarchy. As Somalia’s experience illustrates, for many LDCs with these limited options anarchy may very well be the best feasible choice.
If Other States Want...
"States shall Choose Electors" but the Constitution provides great latitude. John Fund reports on an interesting bit of Inside Baseball in the Political Diary:
Howard Dean, the Democratic National Committee chairman, knows a trap when he sees one. The Democratic state legislature in North Carolina was on a fast track to pass a bill that would have ended the practice of apportioning all that state's Electoral College votes to the statewide winner. Instead, the winner of each of its 13 Congressional districts would win one electoral vote, while the remaining two (representing the state's two U.S. Senate seats) would go to the statewide winner. In 2004, under the proposed formula, John Kerry would have won three electoral votes from North Carolina rather than zero. Only the small states of Maine and Nebraska currently apportion their electoral votes in such a manner.
I fought tooth-and-nail against Colorado's attempt to do this, and was glad to see it go down in flames. Even though we're pretty close to flipping blue, I think it reduces a states importance. Colorado is becoming a swing state and seems likely to pick up a seat in the 2010 census. It seemed crazy.
If other states wish, however, I guess I've no objection. Any strong feelings in ThreeSources land?
"Bloggers of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but ..... um.... absolutely nothing."
Organizers hope a bloggers' labor group will not only showcase the growing professionalism of the Web-based writers, but also the importance of their roles in candidates' campaigns.
Susie Mandrak was Philly mayoral candidate Tom Knox's blogger.
Look, if you love blogging, that's great. If you want to make a career of it, best of luck to you, but don't expect to be richly compensated in life for anything you love to do.
I would like to make a fabulous living out of model railroad and fly fishing, but I'm not expecting to do so.
As it turns out, there already are unions for writers. They're in every newspaper in the country. Join one of them... otherwise you're dependant on your readers and advertisers.
Around the 'sphere....
No, the big news coming out of the big fancy extreme left-wing neo-comm (patent pending) blogging convention was the groundswell of support with the rank and file nut job liberal blogger for – get this – unionization!
Ed Morrissey is also scratching his head.
But this is the point; blogging, with only a few exceptions, isn't a job at all. The blog writers own their own publishing, which is the entire point of blogging. In essence, the suggestions by Susie Madrak and Kirsten Burgard amount to a call to organize owners, not labor. From whom will the union protect us -- ourselves? Will we have to have a union steward to make sure we pay ourselves overtime?
The National Writers Union seems very interested in representing us. I'd like to know how they can structure a deal to get more from myself than I'm already paying me. If they can explain how they can get me more than 100% of my own self-generated income, I'd love to hear it. If the guildsters can explain how their editorial control benefits me more than my own, I'd be all ears. In the meantime, I'll just rely on my own executive decisions and overwork myself to my heart's content. In the case of the blogosphere, the workers have taken over the means of production -- and the Marxists still aren't satisfied.
Trouble in Kos land: A By-lined story in the WaPo reports "A Diversity of Opinion, if Not Opinionators"
"It's mostly white. More male than female," says the former high school math and science teacher turned activist. "It's not very diverse."
I am not ready to concede that they have such great diversity of opinions either. Some think Bush is a fascist, some think he is the antichrist?
Will Somebody Please Tell Ann and me
(And I'm totally surprised to read that there was another debate. I am constantly paying attention to the news and want to watch all the debates, yet I knew nothing of this one. How do they expect normal people to notice?)That's Ann Althouse, after celebrating a few good GOP lines from yesterday's debate.
I, too, found out there was a debate ex post facto, as it were. I have missed two Democratic debates and one Republican. Like Althouse, I consider myself pretty well tuned into politics. Can't they put ads on beer cans or something?
I suppose that's accurate, it seems it could have been worded differently.
August 5, 2007
We don't have a lot of "Public Intellectuals" these days. Academics have poisoned their own reputations with lack of scholarship and partisan sniping, few artists have stepped up to the plate. Politicians and pundits have been too partisan.
I would suggest, however, that Michael Barone carries the torch into this century. Barone is conservative and passionate in ideas, yet few would call him partisan. Even Newsweek's Eleanor Clift is deferential to him on "The McLaughlin Group." I treated myself to a purchase of his Almanac of American Politics in 2004. It comes with a subscription to a web version. I will never be without it again.
I really enjoyed two of his other books and recommend, highly, both. "The New Americans" was written before the great immigration contretemps, yet provides sagacious counsel about immigration and assimilation. His "Hard America, Soft America" should be read by every American as a prerequisite to making any political comment. It lays out the importance of a free market, competitive Hard America and also gives thoughtful voice to the need for a Soft America. It is an evenhanded and thoughtful work.
I just finished Barone's "Our First Revolution." I can heartily recommend this one as well.
Looking back 90 years before the American Revolution, Barone sees the seeds of the American Revolution in "The Glorious Revolution" which unseated the Stuarts, set up Britain -- almost accidentally -- as an archetype of representative government, cemented her as a defender of personal liberty, and created a military and financial power.
Of course, England had the Magna Carte, and natural law. Yet Britons had no rights which could not be waived by a monarch or suspended by Parliament. "Parliament was an event, not an institution," says Barone. Kings ruled for a dozen years, only calling a Parliament when they needed money. After the Glorious Revolution, Parliament has met every year since 1689.
One also sees the beginnings of party politics as the Whigs and the Tories are born (both are pejorative). Mostly one sees the roots of the bill of rights. As Parliament crafts a weaker version, the ideas took root in the American colonists who wanted, as Barone points out, the liberty they thought they had secured themselves as British subjects.
I found the first half to be a little work. If you don't know the players and the history leading up to it, there are a lot of data to juggle. If you don't have Barone's memory, you'll need to bookmark the family tree, maps, and footnotes.
I was also hoping for a Lockean demand for rights and liberties (Locke is in it) and moderately disappointed that it was just a typical, European, dynastic conflict and religious war. You don't find the purity of the American Declaration of Independence, At the same time, you get a clear picture of why they eschewed "an established religion," why the right to bear arms was enshrined and, with my apologies to the Jacksonians and Taneyites, why Alexander Hamilton sought a national bank.
Barone's a gem. When you get acclimated to the cast, the book moves like a rocket: informative and entertaining. I give it four-and-a-half stars.
More of the Same...
More of the same from the "reform-minded" Democrats:
And the money quotes:
The Blame Game
Terri at I Think ^(Link) Therefore I Err, gets the segue prize today (It is unfortunately not a Segue) for her post The Blame Game: She ties the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Mark Steyn, Senator John McCain, a reporter for the Arab News, and Senator John Edwards into a single post. Kids, don't try this at home.
August 4, 2007
ThreeSources Server move
About 8:00 PM Eastern, ThreeSources will be moved to a different server (same host). All manner of flakiness could ensue. Johngalt might call for nationalized oil, comments could be unavailable, who knows...
Just hide under your pillow until tomorrow and it should be all right.
UPDATE: Looks like we're okay -- the forces of darkness and anti-modernity have not stifled ThreeSources.
August 3, 2007
The Jobs Numbers
The disappointing jobs figures of 90K have received a lot of press, as has the unemployment skyrocketing to 4.6% from 4.5% Leave it to Larry Kudlow to find the bright side:
Just this morning, for example, we got a Goldilocks jobs increase of 92,000. Wall Street was expecting 130,000, but actually private payrolls increased 120,000, while the government lost 28,000 jobs. That can’t be all that bad.
Twenty-eight thousand government jobs lost! I'm thinking it's time for a party.
Whadd're Ya Gonna Do For Me?
Somebody else be the optimist this week. I see the health care debate slipping away. Three random events have combined to give me a queasy feeling.
1) A relative who deeply distrusts Michael Moore and generally votes Republican saw "Sicko" with some friends and came away feeling that the movie made "many good points."
2) This video from the WaPo site. I deeply dislike RomneyCare and have avoided the Governor of the Commonwealth because of it. Look at this woman and her treatment by the WaPo. Then try to believe that we have any chance of avoiding socialized medicine.
Yet she is not portrayed as a crank, she's an American woman who needs a little help.
3) Daniele Capezzone (I think he might be Italian) poignantly details the problems in Italy with Socialized Medicine, in a guest editorial for the Wall Street Journal (paid link). The problems are structural and political, having removed the system from the free market.
Part of the problem is that regional authorities manage most of Italy's health-care spending. A strike by health-care personnel has an immediate impact on the region, but the consequences of cutting the budget for medicines are only felt in the long term and distributed across the nation. Hence, local authorities continue to focus on personnel and infrastructure in an age when medical research has become the most efficient way to improve public health.
Why does this trenchant rebuttal to Michael Moore depress me? Because few will read or understand it. Yet many will see -- and everybody will understand -- the plight of Ms. WhatareyougoingtodoforME?
I have to revisit it when I am cheerier. But maybe this pragmatist has to see that crappy, mandated, intrusive, RomneyCare is the only chance of avoiding HillaryCare. You tell people about employer-provided care as a holdover from post WWII wage controls and inefficiencies and you can see their eyes glaze over. Ms. WhatareyougonnadoforME strikes a chord.
August 2, 2007
TNR Stands by Story
"Kuwait, Iraq -- one of those sandy, hot countries..."
The New Republic has completed its review of the "Scott Thomas: Shock Troops" story and has found only one error. The mess hall where the diarist claims to have personally mocked a woman who was disfigured with war wounds was in Kuwait, not in Iraq. "We sincerely regret this mistake."
The manufacturer of the Bradley vehicle says it is agile enough to hit a dog, so the story of a US military professional who routinely risks his life, civilians and the crew for sadism stands.
No doubt it could be true. I still find it instructive that TNR can find little space for military victories, heroic exploits, or the overwhelming kindness shown by soldiers and contractors, yet they can make space for a column disparaging the troops. At least the story has a happy ending:
Although we place great weight on the corroborations we have received, we wished to know more. But, late last week, the Army began its own investigation, short-circuiting our efforts. Beauchamp had his cell-phone and computer taken away and is currently unable to speak to even his family. His fellow soldiers no longer feel comfortable communicating with reporters. If further substantive information comes to light, TNR will, of course, share it with you.
Couldn't happen to a nicer guy...
UPDATE: Dean Barnett, who has really owned this story, provides a more thorough and harsher reaction to the TNR defense.
UPDATE II: ThreeSources friend Perry is not buying it.
What a Tool
Time for an ad hominem attack. Today's target is TNR's Jonathan Cohn. Cohn is a very serious minded young man. He has appeared on Kudlow & Company a few times and is the archetype of the young, idealistic, progressive journalist/activist. I'm sure he's a bright guy: TNR's a good gig. And, in full disclosure, I must admit to being extremely jealous of his hair. He makes Senator John Edwards look like, er, me.
I called him "a tool;" I am borrowing that epithet from Don Luskin. Half its meaning is that he is "a tool" for the progressive cause. On Kudlow, or in TNR, he can be counted on to spout whatever orthodoxy will promote the progressive cause. Wage disparity, the "debacle" in Iraq -- whatever the occasion calls for. The other half-meaning of that sobriquet is a little more of a personal attack. I think Luskin uses it in the same split sense.
Today, in TNR (free link -- I'm pretty sure I'm not re-subscribing in the near future), Cohn has a piece called RudyCare, but the subtitle says it all: "Why Giuliani wants millions of Americans to stay uninsured." Cohn, I see, has written a book on health care (sadly, at #6,878 it outsells Arnold Kling's). He wears his heart on his sleeve in his column. Any alternative or delay to full socialized medicine is a mistake.
Both Gratzer and Pipes are Canadian by birth. Both have spent enormous time warning people that health care in their country means long waits, no cutting-edge care, and maddening bureaucracy. And what's true of Canada, they suggest, would be true of any system giving insurance to everybody. "A universal health-care system run by government will reduce the quality and access to health care for all Americans," Pipes wrote for National Review Online in 2003. "It's a prescription for disaster."
That's Canada, but it's swell in Switzerland and Sweden and France and we cannot bring it here fast enough to suit Cohn. Giuliani wants people to not have insurance (that bastard!), but the column strangely enough never does tell us why.
But we know. Republicans. They hate the poor.
WASHINGTON -- Americans are feeling decidedly sour about the economy and those in charge of it, fueling Democratic efforts to target business interests in the 2008 election campaign.That's John Harwood, writing in the Wall Street Journal. Harwood's a smart guy and the whole piece (paid link) is a nuanced look at Main Street jitters and lack of confidence in the President, Congress, and business.
But I am disturbed that his lead paragraph is not laughed off the page. We are worried about the economy -- so let's attack business. That will help.
August 1, 2007
Smith & Engles is not buying it.
Save the Debate
Everybody knows how much I love an online petition...
But I did sign, and encourage others to sign, Save the Debate, encouraging the candidates not to chicken out of a GOP You Tube debate.
Hat-tip: Patrick Ruffini
Economists for Free Trade
Greg Mankiw links to a petition signed by 1,028 economists. (Who says if you laid 1,028 economists end-to-end they still wouldn't reach a conclusion?)
We, the undersigned, have serious concerns about the recent protectionist sentiments coming from Congress, especially with regards to China.
It's funny how the Democrats and media love to trust experts in the field -- except when it does not meet their needs. Their need to serve labor and environmental constituencies trumps the overwhelming support free trade has enjoyed among economists for decades.
UPDATE: jk loses nine points for not getting the historical allusion (and another for talking about himself in the third person). Don Luskin reminds that 1,028 economists signed a petition to stop Smoot-Hawley.
Government to Kill More People
I do go on about the FDA. But, freedom lovers, let me remind you that John Locke and Thomas Jefferson claimed life to be the first birthright: life, liberty, estate/pursuit of happiness.
A guest editorial in the WSJ today (right next to Greta's column on a missing college student), tells of five promising Cancer drugs that have been pulled because the manufacturer felt they could not get FDA approval -- even after successful trials. Dr. Richard Miller, president and CEO of Pharmacyclics, and adjunct professor of oncology at Stanford University Medical Center, is concerned that "the fight against tumors is regressing."
This is not the way the regulatory system is supposed to work for patients with life-threatening diseases such as AIDS, cancer and Alzheimer's. Thanks in large part to AIDS activism, Congress passed legislation that in 1992 resulted in new regulations that streamlined the approval process for drugs intended to treat life-threatening diseases. One such regulation, accelerated approval, gave desperately needy patients faster access to new drugs. It allows for conditional approval based on data "reasonably likely" to predict clinical benefit while more definitive trials are being conducted.
I feel a little lonely in this fight some days. It seems that only me and the WSJ Ed Page care (and the Ed Page was just sold). But I read an article in last month's Reason that is now available online..
Kerry Howley shares my concern and makes a point I had not contemplated. The current system for approvals cannot allow dying patients access to lifesaving drugs because it requires a continuing stream of desperate, dying patients who are desperate enough to sign up for a placebo trial for a terminal illness. I'm paraphrase sensationally, but read the whole thing. I'm paraphrasing accurately.
Since the 1960s, when randomized, double-blind clinical trials became a standard requirement for bringing new drugs to market, clinical researchers have confronted the chaos of disease with the trappings of a regimented, uncompromising order. Drug trials are rooted in centralized authority: trial slots are numbered, subjects handpicked, control groups maintained, patients monitored. Maintaining this level of precision requires not only the cooperation of willing test subjects, but the coercion of the general population. To preserve pristine testing conditions, the federal government curtails our freedom of exchange and our right to take risks. Ailing individuals and drug companies are prohibited from trading in unapproved drugs, and terminal patients forbidden to experiment outside a clinician's watch.
It is a serious and heartbreaking story. Government bureaucracy is stifling innovation, chasing capital out of the pharmaceutical and biotech sectors, and killing tens of thousands of Americans every year.
I can blame my buddy FDR. There is a great story in "The Forgotten Man" where the publisher of Good Housekeeping gives one of Roosevelt's cabinet an earful because the government is taking over the "Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval." Drug testing is a private function in Europe and should still be here.