September 30, 2007

Did somebody say bubble?

The NYTimes reports an ethanol "glut."

Only last year, farmers here spoke of a biofuel gold rush, and they rejoiced as prices for ethanol and the corn used to produce it set records.

But companies and farm cooperatives have built so many distilleries so quickly that the ethanol market is suddenly plagued by a glut, in part because the means to distribute it have not kept pace. The average national ethanol price on the spot market has plunged 30 percent since May, with the decline escalating sharply in the last few weeks.

“The end of the ethanol boom is possibly in sight and may already be here,” said Neil E. Harl, an economics professor emeritus at Iowa State University who lectures on ethanol and is a consultant for producers. “This is a dangerous time for people who are making investments.”

While generous government support is expected to keep the output of ethanol fuel growing, the poorly planned overexpansion of the industry raises questions about its ability to fulfill the hopes of President Bush and other policy makers to serve as a serious antidote to the nation’s heavy reliance on foreign oil.

We did talk about an alternative energy bubble last week. As long as Senator Grassley breathes, however, I think ethanol providers are safe. And the article makes clear that the problem is not a lack of demand as a lack of distribution, so I am not flying my schadenfreude flag just yet.

UPDATE: The WSJ weighs in as well:(paid link)

Financing for new ethanol plants is drying up in many areas, and plans to build are being delayed or canceled across the Midwest, as investors increasingly decide that only the most-efficient ethanol plants are worth their money.

Some ethanol companies are "under deathwatch" now, says Chris Groobey, a partner in the project-finance practice of law firm Baker & McKenzie, which has worked with lenders and private-equity funds involved with ethanol.

But mdmhvonpa thinks:

Watch for an interesting flux in the (corn) feed futures.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at October 1, 2007 10:32 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I wonder when the American corn industry will do as French winemakers have, and demand more government subsidies so they don't lose money from the glut that government subsidies created in the first place.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at October 1, 2007 1:18 PM
But jk thinks:

The WSJ article goes on to say that ADM and the big players will still do well, so I think you have a Baptists & Bootleggers alliance that will keep Grassley and Harkin out. ADM will use the downturns to buy the little guys.

Posted by: jk at October 1, 2007 3:27 PM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Well,..there may be a good side to this. With a corn glut, tacos will be cheaper in Mexico and that should decrease the flow of illegals into the US,,....right??

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at October 2, 2007 10:15 PM

September 29, 2007

Whose Fire Is It?

A private fire crew dispatched by a national insurance company that caters to wealthy clients is guarding 22 high-end homes threatened by the Castle Rock Fire, a blaze that has forced the evacuation of hundreds of million-dollar homes west of Ketchum.

The crew will protect only homes insured by AIG Private Client Group, an insurance company that offers "loss-prevention services" to its wealthiest customers. A truck and two-man crew sent by AIG from Montana arrived in Ketchum about 2 p.m. Wednesday to start dousing properties with Phos-Chek, the same fire retardant dropped from U.S. Forest Service aircraft.

"We're not going out there to fight the fire," said Dorothy Sarna, vice president and national director of risk-management services and loss prevention for the New York-based company. "We're out there to protect our clients."

Veteran fire managers now working the Castle Rock fire say they've never heard of a private fire crew protecting individual homes in the midst of a wildfire, said Dave Olson, a spokesman for the Forest Service.

The private crew has been granted access to areas closed to residents, but not all officials with public fire agencies were thrilled by the sight of the truck scooting through a smoky web of government fire crews.

"That sounds ridiculous to me," said Kim Rogers, a Ketchum Police Department spokesman, "especially since we haven't lost any structures. I mean, this is a Forest Service fire, not a private fire."

Would she rather they let them burn? Here is the whole story.

But jk thinks:

My only concern is that the indigent people who own million dollar vacation homes in the Wood River Valley will lose their homes.

There really are two Americas.

Posted by: jk at September 30, 2007 1:41 PM

Dem Debate Recap

Jimmy P watches the Democratic debate, so you don't have to. His recap is titled Forget Clintonomics--This Is Mondalenomics.

1) Democrats do realize that America exists in a hypercompetitive global economy, right? Mentions of "compete" or "competitiveness," zero; "China," one; "India," zero; "Asia," zero; "innovation," zero; "productivity," zero; "technology," two.

2) Thank goodness for global warming. Without it, Dems would seem to be hard pressed to come up with a strategy to grow the economy faster. This from Dennis Kucinich: "I'm talking about a new WPA, a Works Green Administration, creating technologies for a green America—we have to believe in economic growth. We should raise the ceiling." (Here's why climate change and massive government spending may not be an economic plus.) A skeptic might say that global warming provides a handy excuse for more government spending.

2008 Race Posted by John Kranz at 5:12 PM

Not Everyone Has been Convinced

General Petraeus’s testimony and report has brought a sizeable number of people back into belief that our cause is just in Iraq and that the US military can succeed.

A good friend of this blog sends a link that reminds that the belief is not yet unanimous. "Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh has consistently led the way in telling the story of what's really going on in Iraq and Iran. SPIEGEL ONLINE spoke to him about America's Hitler, Bush's Vietnam, and how the US press failed the First Amendment." Der Spiegel counters Hersh's worldview with hard questions like "Is this just another case of exaggerating the danger in preparation for an invasion like we saw in 2002 and 2003 prior to the Iraq War?"

Hersh: We have this wonderful capacity in America to Hitlerize people. We had Hitler, and since Hitler we've had about 20 of them. Khrushchev and Mao and of course Stalin, and for a little while Gadhafi was our Hitler. And now we have this guy Ahmadinejad. The reality is, he's not nearly as powerful inside the country as we like to think he is. The Revolutionary Guards have direct control over the missile program and if there is a weapons program, they would be the ones running it. Not Ahmadinejad.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Where does this feeling of urgency that the US has with Iran come from?

Hersh: Pressure from the White House. That's just their game.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: What interest does the White House have in moving us to the brink with Tehran?

Hersh: You have to ask yourself what interest we had 40 years ago for going to war in Vietnam. You'd think that in this country with so many smart people, that we can't possibly do the same dumb thing again. I have this theory in life that there is no learning. There is no learning curve. Everything is tabula rasa. Everybody has to discover things for themselves.

My correspondent mentions that he is right about that: some people never learn.

Freedom on the March Posted by John Kranz at 1:28 PM

September 28, 2007

Brave (VP) Sir Rodney

It's Vaclav Day at ThreeSources! TCS looks at the skeptics with whom VP Gore refuses to debate, and who comes up first, right after I suggested him for UN SecGen?

Czech President Vaclav Klaus, who addressed the General Assembly on climate change September 24, is but the latest global warming skeptic to receive the cold shoulder from Gore. In ads appearing in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and Washington Times, Klaus has called on Gore to face him in a one-on-one debate on the proposition: "Global Warming Is Not a Crisis." Earlier in the year, similar challenges to Gore were issued by Dennis Avery, director of the Center for Global Food Issues and senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, and Lord Monckton of Brenchley, a former adviser to British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. All calls on the former vice president to face his critics have fallen on deaf ears.
"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. This ideology wants to replace the free and spontaneous evolution of mankind by a sort of central (now global) planning."

UPDATE: Changed the headline to be clear whom I am calling a coward (Hint: It's Vice President Gore).

But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

FEE honored him and Walter Williams last year with the Adam Smith Award for Excellence in Free-Market Education. That right there says volumes about the man, and his friendship with freedom.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 28, 2007 12:39 PM

Vaclav Havel on Burma

In a just world, Vaclav Havel (or Vaclav Klaus) would be Secretary General of the United Nations. A good friend of the blog sends this link to a Guardian -- yes, the Guardian -- column by Havel:

On a daily basis, at a great many international and scholarly conferences all over the world, we can hear learned debates about human rights and emotional proclamations in their defense. So how is it possible that the international community remains incapable of responding effectively to dissuade Burma's military rulers from escalating the force that they have begun to unleash in Rangoon and its Buddhist temples?

For dozens of years, the international community has been arguing over how it should reform the United Nations so that it can better secure civic and human dignity in the face of conflicts such as those now taking place in Burma or Darfur, Sudan. It is not the innocent victims of repression who are losing their dignity, but rather the international community, whose failure to act means watching helplessly as the victims are consigned to their fate.

The world's dictators, of course, know exactly what to make of the international community's failure of will and inability to coordinate effective measures. How else can they explain it than as a complete confirmation of the status quo and of their own ability to act with impunity?

This Sharanskyite becomes despondent. I believe that we could militarily pursue stability in Iraq and promote freedom elsewhere, but it is obvious that our political class cannot. With the US pinned down by Senator Levin, the despots of the world know impunity quite well.

But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

There's certainly an argument for our direct intervention. Some say "but only if the people want it, because we can't determine for a people who their leaders should be." But didn't the Iraqis want Saddam ousted? Isn't it obvious that the Burmese want their military dictators ousted. But there's a problem: where does it end? If we intervene in Myanmar, why didn't we in Darfur? There are so many conflicts, and we can do only so much. That's why I personally favor something akin to our support of the Contras, delivering the weapons and equipment so the people can free themselves.

I think there's an argument for some action in, and if we do things right, it wouldn't take much for us to go in and kick some ass. But it will be bloody for the Burmese people, who I think will be slaughtered in revenge by a retreating Burmese military.

Just send in John Rambo, but won't happen till next year.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 28, 2007 1:37 PM

With Republicans Like These...

The WSJ Ed Page dishes out a heapin' helpin' of disapprobation for feckless GOP legislators who are very quick to buckle on the Schip bill. The lead editorial (paid link, sorry!) points out that the Democrats' plan would have some families qualify for both Schip (the Democrats' plan for the poor) and the AMT (the Democrats' extra tax for the rich).

That's because the real Democratic game here is to turn Schip into a new middle-class entitlement. Earlier this year, Hillary Clinton -- who goes out of her way to emphasize Schip as a key mechanism in her new "universal" health-care reform -- introduced Congressional legislation that would raise Schip eligibility to 400%, currently $82,600 for a family of four. That move would qualify no less than 71% of American children for public assistance.

This would also lead to the bizarre circumstance in which a family would be entitled to Schip benefits while also paying the Alternative Minimum Tax that is supposed to capture "the rich." According to a Heritage Foundation analysis, if Schip is extended nationally to 400%, about 70,000 families would be rich enough to pay the AMT while also on Schip. So what Democrats take away with higher taxes under the AMT, they would vouchsafe to return in government health care for all. The era of big government is back, and bigger than ever.

The Senate has already folded, thanks to "brave Sir Rodnies" Hatch (R Utah) and Grassley (R-Ethanol). The house holds a veto-proof opposition, so we will be spared passage if not demagoguery.

Where can we find a few more good, mean old Republicans who don't want to give health care to kids?

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 11:13 AM | What do you think? [2]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

F*** Hatch. Bluntly, he's one of the biggest GOP d***heads today, masquerading as a "conservative" when all he is, besides a pharmaceutical tool, is R-Big Government.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 28, 2007 1:40 PM
But jk thinks:

I cannot argue with you on Sen. Hatch, but it is funny that I was cursing Grassley as I was posting this, thinking something roughly along the lines of "F*** Grassley. Bluntly, he's one of the biggest GOP d***heads today, masquerading as a "conservative" when all he is, besides an agribusiness tool, is R-Big Government."

Posted by: jk at September 28, 2007 4:12 PM

September 27, 2007

Remembering Stalin

Reuters reports:

Despite Stalin's record, recent polls have shown many young Russians have a positive view of the former Soviet leader and there have been attempts this year to play down his excesses, which have found an echo among the country's youth.

Fifty-four percent of Russian youth believe that Stalin did more good than bad and half said he was a wise leader, according to a poll conducted in July by the Yuri Levada Centre.

More good than bad?!

History Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 2:08 PM | What do you think? [4]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

He was just misunderstood, you know.

Similarly, Americans revere FDR despite the true history in front of them. At least the Russians acknowledge Stalin did some bad things; most Americans are ready to beatify FDR.

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

I hear you. Watching Ken Burns's "The War" documentary after reading Amity Schlaes's "The Forgotten Man" is a bit like jumping out of the sauna into an icy pool.

One might rightfully his war leadership. Burns echoes the lie that his economic policies ended the depression. A longer post about Mr. Burns and his film when I finish.

Posted by: jk at September 27, 2007 7:08 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

If FDR had actually been a great wartime president, he'd have recognized what was happening in Europe and stopped it in the 1930s.

It's not a modern phenomenon that Democrats abhor a preemptive strike against our enemies, no matter how justified.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 28, 2007 1:43 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"Preemptive?" He**, Churchill's Britain was at war with Germany for more than TWO YEARS before the "great wartime president" acted. Even then, it wasn't until after both Japan AND Germany had declared war against the U.S. Even CANADA went to Britain's aid from the start.

Even in the frenzied anti-war environment of the present day I'm certain that any US president would act immediately to defend an ally the likes of England were she to come under military attack. Instead, FDR spent two years trying to figure out how to play Churchill and the Brits out to wear down the Germans. Shameful.

Posted by: johngalt at September 28, 2007 3:34 PM

Quote of The Day

Comes by email from a good friend of ThreeSources:

When does the unbiased, perfectly neutral, impartial Media machine give us our "Housing at its most affordable in 16 years" headline? When Hillary takes the oath of office. That will most likely end homelessness too.

I suggested that housing prices may be good, but that Congress is working long hours to see that nobody gets a loan.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:39 AM | What do you think? [1]
But Harrison Bergeron thinks:

Supply and demand! If only there was some way to explain this with a simple graph!

Posted by: Harrison Bergeron at September 27, 2007 1:56 PM

Did I mention This Was a Big Loser?

Tancredoism might be popular with the talk radio crowd and the right wing fever swamps of the blogosphere (like ThreeSources when jk is out to coffee), but it is not an electoral winner.

Larry Kudlow links to an evaluation, on the America's Majority site of Projected Impact of “Enforcement Only” on Hispanic Presidential Vote, 2008. Larry calls it A GOP Recipe for Electoral Disaster.

The foundation’s newest study, involving 145 precincts and 175,000 votes, analyzes actual vote shifts in Hispanic portions of six congressional districts in the 2004 and 2006 elections.

Nadler finds that border security is not the key issue affecting the Latino vote...“Participants in the immigration debate needn’t like this conclusion. But they had better understand it.”

Bad politics. Bad policy.

Immigration Posted by John Kranz at 9:29 AM

September 26, 2007

Do You Know People Like This?

Those wacky Clintons. The folks they "truck with" never cease to amaze.

The WSJ (news pages, not the right wing cranks on the Ed page) detail a F.O.B. (Friend of Bill, in case you'd forgotten):

Two years ago, Mr. Band befriended a handsome and charming Italian businessman named Raffaello Follieri. The young Italian, now 29 years old, had moved to New York in 2003 to launch a business buying and redeveloping Roman Catholic Church properties. He claimed close ties with Vatican officials that would smooth the way for deals, according to business associates and material issued by his company, Follieri Group LLC. He also said he could help Mr. Clinton's wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, with Catholic voters during her presidential campaign, people in the Clinton camp recall.

As a gatekeeper to the former president's web of business and charitable enterprises, Mr. Band helped Mr. Follieri get into business with Mr. Clinton, according to people involved with the three men. In 2005, Yucaipa Cos., a Los Angeles investment firm where Mr. Clinton has been a partner and a senior adviser, agreed to invest up to $100 million in Mr. Follieri's church-property venture.

Later, Mr. Band helped Mr. Follieri secure several million dollars more from Michael Cooper, a Toronto real-estate executive and supporter of Mr. Clinton's humanitarian initiatives. Mr. Band received $400,000 from Mr. Follieri for arranging that deal. Mr. Band's connection to Mr. Follieri was reported in Il Sole/24 Ore, an Italian newspaper.

These days, the Clinton camp's relations with Mr. Follieri are in tatters. Yucaipa managing partner Ron Burkle, Mr. Clinton's longtime friend, has sued Mr. Follieri in Delaware state court for allegedly misappropriating at least $1.3 million. The lawsuit claims Mr. Follieri used Yucaipa's investment money to fund a lavish lifestyle that included a Manhattan penthouse, five-star meals and private jets for Mr. Follieri and his girlfriend, actress Anne Hathaway. Mr. Follieri has denied any wrongdoing. Mr. Cooper has demanded his money back.

Trust me, that excerpt does not do this long, lugubrious tale justice. If you don't subscribe, I'll mail it to you, but this must be read in full.

I'd call the constant appearance of guys like this, Hsu, Chang, Trie, Marc Rich, Hugh Rodham, ad infinitum to be more serious than cell phone etiquette.

2008 Race Posted by John Kranz at 7:24 PM

Another Bubble Fan

You're never alone on the Internet. I felt lonesome when I came out as pro-bubble in a comment on the subprime contretemps. [No, I think subprime has passed contretemps and become a full kerfuffle -- somebody alert Mr. Taranto.]

Daniel Goss is interviewed today on TCSDaily. He is the author of a book: "Pop: Why Bubbles Are Great for the Economy."

In the interview, he sounds like me, well, me if I were really smart:

TCS: So what is the other - and hopefully happier - side of the story?

GROSS: Well, the way that new infrastructures get built in this country is frequently through investor enthusiasm. The government may help roll out new technologies, but we don't have the government putting up telegraph lines or stringing fiber optic cable that connects people's homes to the internet.

These activities don't proceed in a rational, easy-going way. They move in fits and starts. It's the bubbles that lead to this very rapid roll out of a new commercial infrastructure, one that businesses can plug into and use, like the telegraph or the railroad or the internet.

So bubbles create platforms for growth and innovation that help propel the economy forward.

TCS: And what happens after the bubble bursts?

GROSS: You get excess capacity, which leads to competition that brings prices down for normal users, which creates the climate in which somebody can come along with a new business idea that instantly plugs into a large user base.
GROSS: And I think this whole culture of re-financing survives the bubble. A lot of the press today is about people who got in trouble by refinancing, by getting these weird mortgages that re-set at higher rates. But for every person that got caught up in that, there is another person or perhaps more who did very well by simply exchanging a fixed rate mortgage for one at a lower rate and doing it again and again and saving themselves upwards of thousands of dollars.

The mechanisms to do that, the mentality to do that, the idea that individuals watch interest rates and if they fall 50 basis points, 100 basis points, re-finance, that's new. The mechanisms are now there to do that quickly, which did not exist in the '80s or even the early 1990s.

Going forward, that has to be a big economic positive

It's a great piece. He says that while bubbles are not confined to America, that Americans have a particular ability (comparative advantage?) in processing and clearing bubbles.

He's already looking forward to the next bubble in alternative energy.

But johngalt thinks:

Who is this Daniel Gross, another John Shibley?

"But for every person that got caught up in that, there is another person or perhaps more who did very well by simply exchanging a fixed rate mortgage for one at a lower rate and doing it again and again and saving themselves upwards of thousands of dollars.

The mechanisms to do that, the mentality to do that, the idea that individuals watch interest rates and if they fall 50 basis points, 100 basis points, re-finance, that's new."

People who refinance their fixed rate full-term mortgages "again and again" are NOT saving themselves thousands of dollars. They're costing themselves tens or hundreds of thousands in additional interest costs by extending the maturity date of their loan further and further. Anyone who's studied an amortization chart (look it up) knows that fixed mortgage payments are front weighted with interest and back weighted with principal. If you want to pay thousands of dollars per year, year after year, just for the privilege of still owing the same amount, then go ahead and refinance every time the rate drops "2 percent or more" (the common refinancing rule-of-thumb.) And how often does this happen? For fixed rate mortgages, exactly four times in the last fifteen years and zero times since the Jan-01 to Jul-03 drop.

The idea of making low monthly payments and jumping from one flaming log in a river to another "again and again" without ever paying the debt in full and reaching the safety of dry land... THAT'S new.

Posted by: johngalt at September 26, 2007 3:47 PM
But jk thinks:

Gross clearly makes the point that the fruits of the housing bubble are more difficult to find than those created in the dotcom frenzy of the 1990s (those were the days -- let a developer enjoy a little nostalgia).

I think Gross is completely correct to say that the consumer mortgage market became more efficient. The first couple of mortgages I got were done the old way: thousands in closing costs, long delays, and an afternoon at the title company. I refinanced a couple of times with web applications, fast service and competitive costs. It may not rival VP Gore's Internet, but it is a big improvement.

JG, you sound like Grandpa Simpson on this: "In our day, we had 30-year fixed rate mortgages and we liked it!" I would say that this increase in efficiency is enough to reduce your 2% rule-of-thumb.

While I'm playing contrarian, I got one of those "crazy, dangerous, louche" interest-only mortgages that send the pinstripe crowd into apoplexy. I think it rocks. It provides choice. I can put more into a tax-deferred 401K and enjoy the tax deduction for my interest for 15 years. Paying down the principal becomes an investment choice.

At the base, I think that's why I'm bubble happy. Bubbles leave choice in their wake. This Hayekian approves.

Posted by: jk at September 26, 2007 5:23 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Well, we all need to be more precise when using "bubble." Gross isn't talking about a "bubble" in the same way most people do, and when he says "economists" don't like them, he forgets that Austrian economists talk about them in Austrian Business Cycle Theory. The business cycle advances in spurts as individual entrepreneurs bring new information to markets (new products, new awareness of products, new ways of doing things). These uneven advances are because of imperfect information, which is the same reason "excess capacity" or other errors will occur. There are "bubbles" throughout an economy: even one with continual, steady growth is comprised of uncountable declines offset by uncountable advances. ("Uncountable" doesn't mean so numerous that they can't be counted, just that the numbers cannot be counted with precision.)

Real bubbles are the product of government intervention, because they introduce systematic errors into markets. A market error occurs when a developer decides to buy land and eventually fails for whatever reason, because he misjudged economic conditions. A systematic error is when the Fed keeps interest rates too low, encouraging the developer to buy land he wouldn't have bought otherwise.

That said, I really must fault Gross for "looking foward" to an alternative energy bubble. It's not going to be pretty, because whatever happens will be the fault of an inefficient market where government stomps on the gas and later slams on the brakes. "There's been fantastic growth in wind, solar, ethanol," and certainly people will follow along and invest in these -- which deprives the economy of their investment in things that actually work.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 27, 2007 11:18 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Oh, and on the mortages: let people be stupid as they wish in refinancing. As long as they don't hurt the rest of us, what is it to us?

Some people are willing to pay significantly more in the end, in exchange for a lower monthly payment. To them, it's worth paying sometimes a lot more in the end so they can buy more things today (that's usually what happens, jk, most aren't prudent enough to put more into a 401K). I think it's a terrific society that allows them to determine their own degree of consumer choice -- and be the only ones to suffer the consequences of their actions. I personally don't think it's "stupid" or "imprudent," since it's a person's particular choice.

What *does* affect me, though, is the central bank that encourages and rewards consumption spending, and punishes me when trying to save money. That's been the real issue with the housing situation, and it seems so far that only Austrians and monetarists recognize that.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 27, 2007 11:29 AM
But jk thinks:

Part of being pro-bubble was to bristle at the pejorative term. "It WAS NOT a bubble!," has been my mantra since the Nazz plunged. But language evolves, and people clearly think that every volatile business cycle is a bubble.

We agree on choice. If you want to tell people when they can borrow, you may as well tell them not to smoke or eat trans fats.

Posted by: jk at September 30, 2007 1:55 PM

Hold All My Calls!

The WSJ Ed Page agrees with hb and ac on Hizzoner's cell phone flap:

Most Americans understand it takes an extra chromosome to run for President, but there are some limits on odd behavior. Which makes us wonder what Rudy Giuliani was thinking last Friday when he accepted, and even flaunted, a phone call from his wife Judith in the middle of his speech to the National Rifle Association.

This was no emergency call. His cell phone rang in his pocket during his speech, which is itself unusual; most public officials turn theirs off during events, if only out of courtesy for the audience. Mr. Giuliani went on to answer it and carry on a routine "love you" and "have a safe trip" exchange with Mrs. Giuliani while the crowd (and those of us watching on C-Span) wondered what in the world that was all about.

His campaign aides spun the episode as a "candid and spontaneous moment" illustrative of the couple's affection. We might believe that if we hadn't heard stories of similar behavior by Mr. Giuliani as he has campaigned around the country. During one event in Oklahoma, we're told he took two calls, at least one from his wife, and chatted for several minutes as the audience waited. That episode followed Mr. Giuliani's eye-popping disclosure earlier this year that, if he's elected, his wife would sit in on Cabinet meetings. He later downplayed that possibility.

Mr. Giuliani has run an impressive campaign so far, especially on the issues. He has a record of accomplishment in New York, and he projects the kind of executive competence that many Americans want in a President. The rap on his candidacy, however, is that his personal history and behavior are simply too strange for someone who wants to sit in the Oval Office. Voters will decide whether that's true, but if nothing else Mr. Giuliani ought to be aware of this vulnerability and do nothing to compound it.

"That was just weird," one NRA audience member told the New York Post about the phone interruption. Mr. Giuliani doesn't need more weird.

The same crew, on their FOX TV show, played the clip and had the same debate we've had at ThreeSources. I think Paul Gigot played jk, saying it was an attempt to repeat a joke that had worked before. Today's editorial shows he was outvoted too.

UPDATE: free link,

2008 Race Posted by John Kranz at 10:27 AM

September 25, 2007

Senator Obama's Social Security Fix

We've been awfully tough on the Junior Senator from New York lately; it seems only fair to take a whack at the Junior Senator from Illinois.

Greg Mankiw points out that he has a new plan to fix Social Security:

I do not want to cut benefits or raise the retirement age. I believe there are a number of ways we can make Social Security solvent that do not involve placing these added burdens on our seniors.

But he does not consider a 46.7% marginal tax rate an added burden on the rest of us.
One possible option, for example, is to raise the cap on the amount of income subject to the Social Security tax. If we kept the payroll tax rate exactly the same but applied it to all earnings and not just the first $97,500, we could virtually eliminate the entire Social Security shortfall.

Click on over to see the Harvard Prof do the math, twice.

Combine this with eliminating the Bush tax cuts, and small business owners and upper income Americans are going to be facing marginal rates well above 50%. I know that Austen Goolsbee is a whiz kid, but he has not made any progress converting Senator Obama from an average tax and spender.

2008 Race Posted by John Kranz at 7:10 PM | What do you think? [7]
But jk thinks:

Opt out -- sounds great! And how is the weather on Planet Perry this morning?

Posted by: jk at September 26, 2007 12:03 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

No need for sarcasm when you misunderstand. I'm not saying it would ever happen, just that, strangely enough, it's the one reason I'd support removing the salary cap on SS taxes.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 26, 2007 1:34 PM
But jk thinks:

I got you (and meant my sarcasm in the friendliest possible way).

It is very possible that a future Democrat House-Senate-Executive will remove salary caps with no other reform. That would torpedo growth.

Posted by: jk at September 26, 2007 2:15 PM
But johngalt thinks:

There's one other reason to support higher taxes and for this one, the greater and faster the better: It will accelerate the impending Strike of the Producers. Talk about "processing and clearing" a bubble!

Posted by: johngalt at September 26, 2007 3:14 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Another excellent reform: eliminate the employer contribution and shift it to the employee. Let people see how much their base wages are, how much we're putting in, and the fact that so many of us won't see a penny of the money back. The system will still go bankrupt a mere 10 (no typo) years from now.

Imagine how much less Tiger Woods will play, and how much more time he'll spend with his wife and baby, when he has to pay 12.5% of every dollar he makes. I was telling a friend the other day how Tiger Woods adds all those millions of dollars of growth to the economy, which I'll get around to someday in a blog entry.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 27, 2007 11:43 AM
But jk thinks:

"The ThreeSources Millenarians" I should have some shirts printed. As a general rule, I don't subscribe to stressing systems so that we can rebuild the Earth in our likeness when it all crashes down.

I'm willing to consider it, however, on Perry's SS proposal. I think it could be made revenue and tax neutral, just add the employers' contribution to the FICA amount shown on the pay stub. Let people see what they are really paying.

Posted by: jk at September 27, 2007 1:40 PM

Queen Hillary

I know that Andrew Sullivan has been despised by the folks at Three Sources for a long time now. However, when one filters through his prose, there is a lot of truth to the his recent comments:

The conservative Washington Establishment is swooning for Hillary for a reason. The reason is an accommodation with what they see as the next source of power (surprise!); and the desire to see George W. Bush's invasion and occupation of Iraq legitimated and extended by a Democratic president (genuine surprise). Hillary is Bush's ticket to posterity. On Iraq, she will be his legacy. They are not that dissimilar after all: both come from royal families, who have divvied up the White House for the past couple of decades. They may oppose one another; but they respect each other as equals in the neo-monarchy that is the current presidency. And so elite conservatives are falling over themselves to embrace a new Queen Hillary, with an empire reaching across Mesopotamia...

There is a large block of neoconservatives that are warming to Hillary because they perceive that a Democratic presidency in 2008 is inevitable and thus they must get behind the individual who will most exemplify their ideology.

What strikes me as especially surprising, however, is that the Democratic Party and its members seem so intent on winning the presidency that they are willing to nominate and elect someone who is largely out of touch with the party on their biggest issue. Hillary is much more of a hawk than many Democrats believe (or are willing to admit). Perhaps they are blinded by their hatred of Bush-Cheney or their nostalgia for the Bill Clinton presidency. Either way, however, they should be careful what they wish for.

Unfortunately, I think that these neoconservatives are so blinded by a somewhat like-minded individual on foreign policy that they fail to realize how her would-be expansion of government violates their other conservative principles.

Overall it seems that somewhat strange bedfellows are emerging.

Aside: As a libertarian, I did like Sullivan's criticism of the would-be oligarchy of BushClintonBushClinton.

2008 Race Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 12:39 PM | What do you think? [4]
But jk thinks:

I guess it has been a long time, but I wouldn't use the word despise. Andrew was my favorite blogger when I started. I modeled my idea of blogging and my style on him. I still consider him a superb writer.

And yet, he has, let me be fair here, gone completely and totally insane.

This post of his does relay a truth. There is an establishment Washington that supersedes party. The Clintons are the archetype, and the second Bush term became an example as well.

I think Brother Sully goes off the rails when he says that a continuation of Iraq policy makes Senator Clinton some sort of Bush III. There are important foreign and domestic policy debates. I find it unsurprising that they do not come down across distinct party lines (I wish it were more so).

Serious Democrats see that a McGovern or McCarthy candidate will fare as well as McGovern or McCarthy. Senator Clinton may be a Faustian bargain on the war, but they get a candidate who tows the line on every other issue.

Establishment Republicans' consent to her candidacy is overstated by Sullivan. Those wicked neocons who run everything also pick the Democratic Nominee? I'm not convinced.

Aside back: Those who wish to escape ClintonBushCLintonBushClintonBush would do well to fight all manner of campaign finance reform. Let big donors fund candidates and we'll see more serious players outside of the establishment.

Posted by: jk at September 25, 2007 2:26 PM
But retrometa thinks:

Nearsighted commentators and farsighted alike: change your orientation. You're only confusing yourselves.

Allow me to let you in on a surprisingly secretive fact: there is NO CHANCE RodhamClinton will ever again be allowed to occupy the White House, your neo-con/looney-left axis conspiracy theories notwithstanding.

You cannot be chosen to serve as Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces during time of war, when among approximately 50% of the population -- men -- the overwhelming, vast majority will not seriously consider you for that role. It's out of the question!

Posted by: retrometa at September 25, 2007 4:41 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I tend to think Retro is right. I haven't voiced that sentiment much lately because it just sounds so pollyanish. No whistlin' 'round no graveyards here!

Furthermore, I'm willing to wager that even if Barack Osama is, by some twist of probability greater than the Rockies winning the World Series, elected President... even HE would not precipitously withdraw our troops and leave the place to the wolves. There'd be a "period of evaluation" while he actually acquainted himself with what the hell is going on in the world outside of Washington and Howard Dean's email threads. It's sort of like what happened when Harry Reid became majority leader. (They farted around with minimum wage and some other bogus crap for "100 days" before quietly capitulating on the angry left rallying cry.)

Posted by: johngalt at September 26, 2007 3:21 PM
But jk thinks:

Prob'ly right on the next Commander-in-Chief. But I cannot agree on the current Senate Majority leader. I don't think he was educated -- I think he was whipped.

Posted by: jk at September 26, 2007 5:28 PM

September 24, 2007

One Angry (at Hillary) Mother

My beloved dagny wrote this months ago and after viewing Hillary's historic appearance on Fox News Channel last Sunday was compelled to update it and demand placement in today's issue of (no, I did not give her the "standby rate.")

We watched Hillary on Fox News Sunday this morning and listened to her explain why “we” need to ensure that every American has health insurance. I found myself angry yet again that many Americans don’t seem to get the idea that if the government is providing something, ANYTHING, the taxpayers (like me) are footing the bill.

My first child was born when I was 36. I made good decisions relating to child-bearing. I waited until I had a husband worthy of fathering my children. I waited until we could afford to care for our children without relying on others. I waited until I could provide appropriate medical insurance for myself and my children without relying on others. I dealt with the issues related to, “advanced maternal age,” because I waited for these things.

Now let’s consider someone who has made different decisions. If the unwed, poor, uninsured, teenage mother comes into my house and steals $100, or even $5, she will be arrested and put in jail. If however, the government takes my $100 and gives it to her this is a good thing?

The unwed mother is rewarded by the government for her bad decision making while I am punished for my good decision making. Is this the incentive system we wish to encourage in this country? These things became particularly clear to me and my feelings in the matter became much stronger when we started a family. Dammit, it’s my money and I earned it, and I wish to spend it on MY children.

Why isn’t every mother in the country angry?

I realize, I’m probably preaching to the choir at threesources – maybe I should send this to Hillary.

Thanks to the Democrats it is no longer true that "It is best to prepare for the days of necessity." Now it is best to go on strike for free, lifetime healthcare.

But jk thinks:

I hate picking fights with Dagny. It's unseemly and I always lose. I think the ThreeSources choir (rehearsal this Thursday, don't be late) will appreciate your positions. They should -- they're right.


Pragmatist-in-chief has to point out that your argument is a political loser. Do you really object to paying for health care for poor kids? Like President Reagan, I'm cool with using the Federal largess to provide a safety net. We can argue about moral hazard (and we might) but that train left the station in FDR's administration and it is not scheduled to pass through here.

President Bush is making a courageous stand against withering demagoguery to veto the Schip bill, and I do not know how many less courageous GOP legislators will hold.

Governor Corzine likes to hand out free health care to those above the median income; Senator Clinton wants Medicare to be a choice for every American, irrespective of age or income.

Against this fight, I find your hard line position to be politically ineffective. There is a real fight at the margins and those who want to re-argue the New Deal are not going to be effective on the new front lines.

Posted by: jk at September 25, 2007 11:01 AM
But johngalt thinks:

In the war against America's slide from the USA to the 'USSA' we must have strategic and tactical elements. While JK is correct that daily combat is necessary to hold budget growth and program expansion to 3.5% per year instead of the 4.0% (or more) that Democrats would have if unopposed, such a strategy is never going to result in an actual REDUCTION of the welfare state - not to mention its demise.

The value of dagny's rant is in the question "Why?"

"Why isn't EVERY mother in the country angry?"

Why is railing against government theft from individuals on behalf of other individuals "a political loser?"

Dagny knows, she just chose not to say: Altruism. Robin Hood. Failure to understand (or to acknowledge) basic accounting. Unprecedented national wealth that makes penny pinching obsolete and leaves the door wide open for governor Corzine and Senator Clinton to leverage the teachings of Pope Benedict and every single one of his forebears and their minions to siphon off "just a little" and "just a little more" for a "safety net."

Personally I'd like to see the "safety net" dismantled because it became unpopular and not because it became so onerous that it destroyed the wealth that made it possible. That's where the strategic weapon is required.

TEACH people that they are not their brother's keeper.

ADVISE them to sacrifice themselves for no man, nor accept any man's sacrifice for himself.

EMPOWER everyone with the knowledge that every grain of produce that he creates is rightly and morally his own, to do with as HE chooses, without a shred of guilt.

DISAMBIGUATE the ideas of voluntary charity and coerced "aid for the disaffected."

Then, and only then, may we banish the second "S" the philosophy of Socialism, that now effectively exists in the name and the soul of this, the greatest nation in the history of human kind. Make no mistake - America is great despite socialism, not because of it.

Posted by: johngalt at September 25, 2007 3:19 PM

The reviews come pouring in

Blog friend Perry chose not to suffer through any of the FIVE Sunday talk show appearances by Senator Clinton, but he effectively finds flaws in the health care plan that she touts.

I didn't see the interview, so I don't know if she repeated her claim that there would be no new bureaucracy necessary for her plan. [jk: I did. She did.] Who really believes that a plan costing $110 billion a year (meaning we can count on easily double that estimate) will require no new bureaucracy? Oh no, she says, no new bureaucracy, even though government will need a way to force you into the plan unless you want to work an underground job. Or is she technically speaking the truth, in the same way that Bill didn't create new taxes (or did he?). He merely increased them. So Hillary won't create a new bureaucracy -- she'll just expand the existing Department of Health and Human Services.

I did watch her Inevitableness on FOX News Sunday. As I emailed Perry, I don’t believe she’s picked up any policy or decency since she tried to nationalize 17% of GDP in 1993, but she has learned some politics – she says the right words to a compliant media and diffident public. This will be hard to stop.

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 12:08 PM

"The Time for Doubt Has Passed"

If the Secretary General of the UN says so. (Paid link) WSJ:

UNITED NATIONS -- U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told an unprecedented summit on climate change Monday that "the time for doubt has passed" and a breakthrough is needed in global talks to sharply reduce emissions of global-warming gases.

"The U.N. climate process is the appropriate forum for negotiating global action," Mr. Ban told assembled presidents and premiers, an apparent caution against what some see as a U.S. effort to open a separate negotiating track.

Looking at the transparency and efficacy of the United Nations on its other projects, this means a lot. Former-Friedmanite Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger chimed in on cue:
While the Bush administration has resisted emissions caps, California's Republican governor and Democrat-led legislature have approved a law requiring the state's industries to reduce greenhouse gases by an estimated 25% by 2020. Other U.S. states, in various ways, are moving to follow California's lead.

"California is moving the United States beyond debate and doubt to action," Mr. Schwarzenegger said. "What we are doing is changing the dynamic."

What they are doing is choosing to replace science with politics.

A Century Before Hillary

Everyday Economist's Quote of the Day:

“In our days, certain sentimentalist schools reject as false all social science that does not go the length of establishing a system by means of which suffering may be banished from the world. They pass a severe judgment on Political Economy because it admits what it is impossible to deny, the existence of suffering. They go farther—they make Political Economy responsible for it. It is as if they were to attribute the frailty of our organs to the physician who makes them the object of his study.”
— Frederic Bastiat, Harmonies of Political Economy

Our days too, Monsieur. Our days too.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:57 AM

September 23, 2007

You Win Some...

This may ease jk's concern:

For a brief second, it looked like Cleveland Browns were off to a 2-1 start for the 2007 season. The Oakland Raiders, using a tactic that worked against them last week with the Denver Broncos, would call a timeout at the last second and make Phil Dawson and the Browns attempt a field goal a second time. The first, that didn't matter, sailed through the goal posts. The second attempt would be blocked.

Sports Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 8:39 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Bob Costas chimed in on JK's side during halftime of NBC's 'Football Night in America.' His suggestion was that time outs should only be allowed when the clock isn't already stopped. Apparently Bob has never changed his mind, or doesn't think NFL coaches should possess the ability to do so.

Posted by: johngalt at September 25, 2007 3:31 PM

Gathering of Eagles

I don't have the audio, but I understand this ad will start running in the Philly area shortly.

Last week, George Soros’ shadow political party, acting in concert with the New York Times, launched a despicable character assassination against one of our country’s most decorated and respected military leaders.

I’m Chris Hill, an Army Veteran and National Director of Operations for Gathering of Eagles. Our mission is to publicly confront these treacherous assaults on the integrity of our fighting men and women and expose the anti-American sources behind them.

Not only did this leftist faction call Gen. Petraeus a liar, but they arrogantly stated he betrayed the very country he has selflessly served for over 33 years. These outrageous attacks from the likes of, Code Pink, and ANSWER must not go unchallenged! An entire generation of patriots returning home from Viet Nam faced similar abuse and suffered the emotional scars for decades.

Please help us combat these hateful attacks on our military heroes by these well funded groups who wrap themselves in the bogus refrain, “we support the troops but not the war”.

Please contribute whatever you can at that’s to combat these lies and distortions. We will act as trusted custodians of your generous donations. Thank you.

For as deep as step in it, you think more Democrats would stand up and denounce their "fellow travellers"... instead we get silence or tacit approval.

This Saturday, September 29th there will be a "counter"-protest in West Chester, at the Chester County Courthouse (High & Market Sts) from 11am to 3pm.

War on Terror Posted by AlexC at 1:31 PM

NYTimes: "We made a mistake"

As Instapundit says "Oops." As The NY Daily News says The old gray lady has some explaining to do.

Officials at the New York Times have admitted a liberal activist group was permitted to pay half the rate it should have for a provocative ad condemning U.S. Iraq commander Gen. David Petraeus.

The MoveOn ad, which cast Petraeus as "General Betray Us" and attacked his truthfulness, ran on the same day the commander made a highly anticipated appearance before Congress.

But since the liberal group paid the standby rate of $64,575 for the full-page ad, it should not have been guaranteed to run on Sept. 10, the day Petraeus warned Congress against a rapid withdrawal of troops from Iraq, Times personnel said.

"We made a mistake," Catherine Mathis, vice president of corporate communications for The Times, told the newspaper's public editor.

Hey these things happen. I'm just extremely certain they do not happen too frequently to an advocacy group that disagrees with the NYTimes Ed Page.

But johngalt thinks:

Added to the price discount controversy is this observation by the Times' own Clark Hoyt "that the ad appears to fly in the face of an internal advertising acceptability manual that says, "We do not accept opinion advertisements that are attacks of a personal nature."

Posted by: johngalt at September 24, 2007 3:12 PM

September 22, 2007

The Power of Regulation

Professor Reynolds links to this as good news:

"The economist reports that Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) systems that capture and focus the sun's rays to heat a working fluid and drive a turbine, are making a comeback. Although the world's largest solar farm was built over twenty years ago, until recently no new plants have been built. Now with the combination of federal energy credits, the enactment of renewable energy standards in many states, and public antipathy to coal fired power plant, the first such plant to be built in decades started providing 64 megawatts of electricity to Las Vegas this summer. Electricity from the Nevada plant costs an estimated 17 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh), but projections suggest that CSP power could fall to below ten cents per kWh as the technology improves. Coal power costs just 2-3 cents per kWh but that will likely rise if regulation eventually factors in the environmental costs of the carbon coal produces."

To be fair, Instapundit doesn't give it a glowing endorsment, but the link asks "A BRIGHT FUTURE for large-scale solar farms?"

I expected to read of a technological breakthrough in Photovoltaics, inspired by nanotechnology -- or something. Instead I read that Federal regulation and "public antipathy" are now deemed sufficient to rethink a process that is six times less efficient than existing mechanisms. Oh boy.

Where can I go long public antipathy? I think that's a growth market.

Oil and Energy Posted by John Kranz at 5:08 PM

Don't Be Loony, Mr. Paulson!

I mentioned that I was arguing with my economic betters about the recent Fed rate cut. At the recommendation of The Everyday Economist, Mr. Bernanke's book is on the way.

The weak dollar has concerned me more than other signs. Thankfully, I am not going to Ireland and the UK three times a year anymore, but I still wince at "grim benchmarks" like a two dollar pound, and the Euro exceeding its original par offering against the greenback.

But this shall not stand (paid link).

With the Canadian dollar surging against the U.S. greenback, Robert Katzman is dealing with situations they don't teach in Economics 101.

The owner of five strip clubs in Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, says American dancers are heading to Canada to earn the strengthened Canadian currency, and Canadian customers are heading to Detroit because their dollars go further there. He's fighting back by advertising more in the U.S. and offering free limo service to get Detroit men to visit his Windsor clubs.

But like most Canadians, Mr. Katzman is brimming with national pride. "We're feeling for the first time like we've caught up to our big brother," says Mr. Katzman.

After 31 years of playing second fiddle, the Canadian loonie, so-called because of the bird on the dollar coin, overtook the U.S. greenback this week. A nation that has long been the butt of jokes from its neighbor to the south puffed out its chest and grinned.

Let them grin, eh? And let them steal our cutest dancers. But American hockey teams have long benefited from "the 62 cent dollar," luring the best talent to cross the 48th parallel. I fear that the Senators, Flames, Canucks, Leafs, and my formerly-beloved "Habs" will now be able to keep Canadian talent.

Without economic advantage, we are screwed. I have played against Canadians. It's like junior high versus the NHL. C'mon Mr. Paulson and Mr. Bernanke -- our cup hopes rest on your shoulders!

But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

It used to be that Canadian strippers loved American singles. (Not that I would know personally. Really! I swear.)

I've been meaning to blog about this but haven't had the time. I still can't believe Bernanke resorted to weakening the dollar further. So much for his reputation of numerical inflation targeting. I predicted he would push to leave rates alone, but he bowed to political pressure.

Notice how crude prices started rising the morning of the announcement, then rose further afterward? The typical analysis on the news is that it's because we'll have greater economic growth, and hence increased demand for energy sources. That's completely superficial. The real reason is that traders know there will be more dollars available, so buyers must offer more when bidding against each other, and sellers know they can accept more dollars (not as a matter of greed, but to compensate for higher prices on things they themselves buy). Buyers must offer more even if they're paying cash as opposed to borrowing, because eventually they'll deal with borrowed (i.e. more available) dollars. If the money supply is increased for someone, it affects everyone else.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 24, 2007 1:32 AM

September 21, 2007

Another First Lady?

What's with the NRA and potential First Ladies?

Note the handling of this First Lady mention.

Note to Rudy... please please please turn off the cell phone when addressing a group that is generally hostile to you.

But Harrison Bergeron thinks:

Unfortunately, this is not the first time this has happened:

Perhaps I am way out in left field on this, but I find this behavior to be nauseatingly disrespectful.

Posted by: Harrison Bergeron at September 23, 2007 9:51 AM
But jk thinks:

Well, I guess I am in the pocket of "Big Mayor," but I watched both clips and plan to stay in the Rudy! fold.

Both are attempts at personalizing humor. I think the one hb links to works and is well paced. I am guessing Hizzoner tried to restage that in the clip above and the pacing seems poor.

Contrived perhaps, but I don't see disrespect.

Posted by: jk at September 23, 2007 11:21 AM

The Better First Lady?

2008 Race Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 4:22 PM

Quote of the Day

Jonathan Pearce at Samizdata spotlights this gem:

Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under.
- HL Mencken, US journalist.

And adds "I would love to have seen him write about the likes of Bush, Blair and Gordon Brown."

Posted by John Kranz at 3:11 PM

Friday Calf Blogging

They're getting larger, but they're still cute -- calf blogging continues at I Think ^(Link) Therefore I Err

Posted by John Kranz at 1:08 PM

September 20, 2007


And, in International news, Attila informs us about the new Hooter's restraint in Beijing.

Heck yes, he's got photos, this is Attila we're talking about!

Posted by John Kranz at 5:55 PM

No Government

No government, yet life goes on. A lot of people have made sport of the dissolution of Belgium, but Samizdata's Perry de Havilland nails its significance:

One hundred and three days after their general election, life goes on in Belgium. People go to work, they meet their friends, the beer is world class, the food is good, folks go about life as they always have. And there is still no government.

Hopefully the country will provide an inspirational example to the rest of the EU and split under the pressure caused by increasing Flemish unwillingness to pay the parasitic leftists who dominate Wallonia. Of course things might get messy but more likely it will be a velvet divorce... but the really interesting thing for me is that society and the economy continues to function just fine without any active government at all. No new laws, no cabinet meetings, and yet somehow the sky has not caved in and the world keeps turning.

The rest of us can only dream.

Posted by John Kranz at 5:43 PM

POW Habeas Corpus

It really breaks my heart when bills in the Senate can't hit the supra-constitutional 60 vote cut off.

Really, it does.

The Senate on Wednesday rejected legislation that would have allowed terrorism suspects held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to petition federal courts claiming that they're being held in error.

The 56-43 vote in favor of the bill fell short of the 60 votes needed to cut off Senate debate, blocking the legislation. Both Washington state senators voted for the measure.

The bill, sponsored by Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Arlen Specter, R-Pa., would have given military detainees the right of habeas corpus — the right to challenge one's detention in court, rooted in English common law dating from before the Magna Carta of 1215 — which serves as a check on arbitrary government power.

But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Actually, I would support such a measure: even "enemy combatants" should be allowed to prove, if they can, that they're innocent. There's evidence that some were turned over to U.S. forces by their neighbors, because of family feuds.

But on the flip side, if we prove we captured them for a good reason, we should just execute them summarily.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 21, 2007 3:21 PM
But jk thinks:

They deserve some process, which I understand that they get. But the full panoply of the US understanding of habeus corpus is too much.

We cannot allow a captured, foreign terrorist to demand to learn how evidence against him was collected and to see the full evidence. For an American citizen, this would and should be required.

You nail the alternative -- if the hallal rice pilaf at Gitmo is not up to epicurean standards, enemy combatants can always be (quite legally) shot. Wanna reconsider, Ahmed?

Posted by: jk at September 21, 2007 3:41 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

It wouldn't have to be the full process, just a military tribunal where they can present evidence and, if they were seized in a raid, find out what the evidence was. Not all were captured on the battlefield, and I'm troubled because some circumstances were questionable. If a neighbor rats you out as a terrorist, is it true, or the result of a feud? So I think we should give them a good chance to prove their innocence, even if it demands they question how we knew they were terrorists.

On the other hand, I don't think any process should be given to anyone captured in battle -- American citizen or not. John Walker Lindh should have been shot where he was found, and it would have saved us a lot of headaches.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 22, 2007 10:55 AM

Game, Set, Mitch!

Surrender will not get 60 votes, no matter how well it is dressed and coiffed. NYTimes:

WASHINGTON, Sept. 19 — A proposal that Democrats put forward as their best chance of changing the course of the Iraq war died on the Senate floor on Wednesday, as Republicans stood firmly with President Bush.

It's a small, petty man who calls for I-told-you-sos, but I've never claimed better. I said last summer that Bush has found his Grant in General Petraeus, and that Petraeus might surprise to the upside. And that the world's most deliberative body would have to follow. If they can't get the Webb Amendment, it's over.

Yeah, I blew the GOP Immigration call in 2005, but I nailed this one. Thanks to the General and all who serve.

Senate Posted by John Kranz at 10:44 AM

September 19, 2007

Tired Headlines

Headlines like this are starting to get old:

"Edwards' Wife Bashes Clinton Health Plan"

Which one of the Edwards' is running for President?

2008 Race Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 10:55 PM | What do you think? [2]
But AlexC thinks:

She has cancer dude... therefore she's untouchable.

"Stop Alex, the campaign won't stoop to that level."

No? John Edwards is the scumbag trial attorney who famously channeled a deadgirl during closing statements of a malpractice trial.

Posted by: AlexC at September 20, 2007 12:14 AM
But jk thinks:

I've been rather amused to watch Senator Edwards hide behind his wife's skirt.

I hope that his campaign is not serious. He seems stuck in third place and I have taken that to hope that even the Democratic Primary Voter can see through his phony populism and lack of ideas.

Of course, I've been wrong before.

Posted by: jk at September 20, 2007 10:44 AM

Competing with Coke & Pepsi

Sometimes you have to wonder.

Ray Murphy @ YoungPhillyPolitics is incensed, incensed, that Coke and Pepsi are taking (well paying for) regular ol' Philly tap water, putting it in a bottle, slapping a label on it, and marking up the piss out out it.

Half a cents worth of tap water is now worth a dollar and a half.

According to the Philadelphia Coca-Cola Bottling Company website, our local plant is the fourth largest nationwide with over half a billion dollars in annual sales. Both Pepsi and Coke have reported that bottled water sales are among the fastest growing in their companies and may soon catch up or even overtake the sale of carbonated beverages. That means there are a lot of potential water consumers in Philadelphia.

The simpler way to profit off of water is to tax Pepsi and Coke at a higher rate for their water usage. I had some trouble figuring out the PWD’s business tax rate (hello Philadelphia, can we get some good city websites up or what?), but for consumers, it costs about $17 in taxes for 600 gallons of water. Philly Coke’s website says it serves about 5 million consumers a year. If one-third of these people buy one 20 oz. bottle of water a year, we’re talking at least 278,437 gallons of water sold annually.

I don’t really care how we make money off of water, but the point here is that in these cash strapped times, we are stupid if we don’t.

Our water supply is currently being exploited by Coke and Pepsi. As the largest municipality collecting and cleaning water for drinking in the region, Coke and Pepsi can’t really get the tap water they need for Dasani and Aquafina anywhere else but Philly (and shipping tap water from other places would likely cut too deeply into their bottom line). That means that whether we tax them more, or bottle our own water, Philadelphia is in a good place to be able to better take advantage of a natural resource.

Admittedly, I am not a degreed economist, but I'm sure this is a catastrophically bad liberal idea, but I repeat myself.

I'll say it slowly. (Please read along slowly for full effect)

1) If the city of Philadelphia can not control crime within it's own boundaries, how in the hell is it supposed to compete with two massively global companies that have had their horns locked for years?

2) If the city of Philadelphia charges big soda more for water, they can go bottle tap water somewhere else. There is nothing special about what Trenton flushes into the Delaware River. Really. Nothing.

Bonus part of that is when they close their bottling plants in the city and move them outside of the city limits, the city loses wage tax collection, property taxes, etc... a win-win!

Never mind that whole issue of a government specifically targetting two industrial consumers of water to the exclusion of the other industrial consumers. How many gallons of water go into a box of Oreos from the Nabisco bakery? ... what about my precious Tasty-Klair Pie? or a case from the Yards Brewery? *

Ideas like this are nicely nucleated examples of liberal progressive thinking.

... and it goes without saying that if you buy bottled water that's municipal sourced, you're a dope, no matter who puts a screw top on it.

Get a Nalgene bottle and fill it before you leave the house... and use the bottle again, and again, and again. It takes two liters of water to make a one liter plastic bottle, btw.

See? You can be conservative and environmentally conscious!

* Note: I'd list more water consuming businesses within city-limits, but great business friendly ideas like this have chased most out into the suburbs, or the south or Mexico.

But TrekMedic251 thinks:

I read somewhere that the City of Pittsburgh almost saved the world from bad beer when they tried to close Iron City because the brewer wasn't paying their water bill. (Water being the source and closest taste to IC).

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at September 19, 2007 11:19 PM
But jk thinks:

I love it. He goes to the Philadelphia Coca-Cola Bottling Company website and finds everything he needs, goes to the city website and can't find anything -- then says that government should tell private business how to operate.

Posted by: jk at September 20, 2007 10:32 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Second-best-case scenario: the companies stay put despite the taxes, but they must pass the additional taxes on to consumers. Instead of paying $1.50 for bottled water, consumers must now pay $1.65 or whatever, so sales will decrease. Thing is, the Laffer Curve can also work in reverse, so those sales could very well drop and take the tax revenues along with them.

Best-case scenario: the companies stay put, they pass the additional taxes on to consumers, and sales remain the same. But because a consumer now spends $1.65 on a 20-oz. bottle water when he spent $1.50 before, that's 15 cents taken away from other purchases. By definition it must come from *somewhere*, and it adds up to anything from a supersize option on fast food to a notepad to a restaurant meal. Now *those* companies will experience an equivalent sales decline, which means they must cut back on man-hours. Of secondary importance is the lost tax revenue. Now, this is the absolute best possible scenario, and it's also the most improbable. It won't happen for a simple reason: economies never, ever shift toward industries or sectors that are taxed higher.

A lot of people subscribe to the economic fallacy that charging more can be good, because it means the sellers (and in this case, government as a tax receiver) has more money to spend, and this supposedly spurs economic growth. On the surface it looks good, but it cannot avoid the fact that buyers have finite incomes. If I spend $1.65 on bottled water instead of $1.50, or when Henry Ford paid workers enough to afford the cars they made (an economic urban legend), that money must come from somewhere else. I'll spend less on other purchases if I'm to buy bottled water in the same quantity and frequency, and because Henry Ford's customers must spend more on the cars, they'll spend less on other things. True economic output does not increase -- unless the central bank prints more dollars so we can spend more, which is, of course, inflationary.

The lesson, as always, is to remember what Bastiat taught us. Look for the unseen.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 20, 2007 11:22 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I should add that I stick to bottled water, even if it's ultimately tap water, as a matter of taste and sanitation. I prefer spring water, but I'll still buy Dasani. To me, there's no choice between "free" water from a Grand Central Terminal fountain and paying $1.65 at any of the vendors. When government says it purifies, filters and UVs tap water, I wonder how well. When Coca-Cola says it does those, I actually trust it more, not because it's interested in protecting me, but because it wants to keep my business.

Oh, and by the way, liberal idiots like Murphy and Gavin Newsom can give themselves edemas with plain old tap water.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 20, 2007 11:33 AM
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

Who drinks brand label water? Progressive elitists ... I'm with W.C. Fields on this one. My hydration comes from a bottle of scotch, thnx.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at September 20, 2007 12:47 PM
But jk thinks:

I think it's a mistake to compare bottled water to tap water. The substitution is bottled water vs. Coke. The price comparison is a lot less extreme and it represents substitution better: convenient, disposable, &c.

"Freakonomist" Steven Levitt has an interesting piece discussing that Coca Cola now advertises that Diet Coke is 99% water -- after trying to hide that fact for years.

Posted by: jk at September 20, 2007 1:23 PM

Immigration, Part MCLXIV

Awesome interview in TCSDaily today between Nick Schultz and "British author and economist Philippe Legrain." Schultz serves up, pretty astutely, the bulk of legitimate questions about legal and illegal immigration. The author of Immigrants: Your Country Needs Them politely, but convincingly answers them.

Schulz: Can we know what the right level of immigration is? How do we know?

Legrain: I don't think that "we", whoever that "we" might be, can determine the "right" level of immigration, any more than we can know the right level of international tourism, the right number of foreign business trips that should be taken or the right number of children people should have. What we can say is that because immigration controls restrict people's ability to move freely and companies' and workers' ability to reach mutually advantageous employment contracts, the current level and composition of migration is "wrong", in the sense that arbitrary controls stop some people from moving, cause others to migrate illegally, result in many people staying in the US longer than they would otherwise choose to do, and prevent the labor market operating efficiently and fairly.

It's a great, serious discussion without the name calling and ad hominem attacks we have around here. It is well worth a read in full.

Immigration Posted by John Kranz at 3:27 PM

Credit - The Disaster Movie

Some years ago, when I first learned of widespread availability of negative-amortization mortgage offers, I was mystified that lenders were willing to make such loans. They were setting their customers up for a gigantic fall at some point down the road, I thought, and lenders were likely to be left holding billions in foreclosed real property. Who does that benefit?

The unsurprising "credit crunch" that resulted this summer threatened the economic well-being of all of us, whether or not we'd foolishly overextended ourselves and led to the problem in the first place. But at least it was over, thought I, and lenders would not - could not - make the same mistake again. Wrong.

By his estimate, Long Beach resident Touray, 27, owes about $93,000 in credit card, phone, utility and hospital bills. "When my bills come, I know I don't have any money to pay them," he said. "So I don't bother anymore."

Nevertheless, Touray said he gets pitches from credit card issuers in the mail almost every day. If those pitches become a smidge more attractive because of lower interest rates, he said he may just be tempted to go even deeper in the hole.

"It's amazing," Touray said. "You keep saying no, and they just keep making more offers."

Perhaps the negative consequences of being a complete deadbeat have become too slight in our "cruel, greedy, every-man-for-himself, "free market" system. Whatever happened to debtor's prisons?

Hat tip: Rush

But jk thinks:

If everyone had been as smart and as forward looking as jg, we'd have had -- umm, let me see -- millions fewer lower income people able to own their own home, many folks unable to finance a small business, and a LOT fewer people who made a bucket of money on the up side.

When my start up failed, I restructured my life with those credit card offers. A lot of people got in trouble, but a lot of people didn't. A very wise man once said:

What we saw yesterday is just the evolution of game management, spurred by intense competition. Glorious.

He was talking about football, but I am comfortable applying it to the days of easy money that make everyone else so uncomfortable.

Posted by: jk at September 19, 2007 3:44 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Never mind how much harm it does to those lower income people when they can't make their ARM payments and default.

Don't conflate my criticism of personal fiscal stupidity and the junk lenders who enabled it (until their own pipers came calling) with the positive consequences of an easy monetary supply.

And the difference between innovation in personal finance or in football is that in the latter, if your gamble doesn't pay then the worst you do is lose a game. When untold thousands declare bankruptcy their consequences are slight, yet the cost to the rest of us is inflation pressure.

Posted by: johngalt at September 20, 2007 2:11 AM
But jk thinks:

JohnGalt: protector of lower income people who make poor choices! No doubt you were suggesting comfortable debtor's prisons -- nothing Dickensian.

I make sport but I seriously believe that elitist tut-tutting post hoc bubblus ignores the benefits created. The same happened after the dotcom crash. People assumed that nothing was gained. Yet, the infrastructure that enabled Amazon, eBay and Google to create real, profitable business was laid in the bubble years.

Somebody has to be pro-bubble, right? I enjoy playing the contrarian.

Posted by: jk at September 20, 2007 10:39 AM
But johngalt thinks:

"JohnGalt: protector of lower income people who make poor choices! No doubt you were suggesting comfortable debtor's prisons -- nothing Dickensian."

No, Quixotean protector of the value of my Fed-manipulated dollar from the excesses of "lower income people who make poor choices" and the profiteering lenders who enable them.

On debtor's prisons: Treadmills and chains are my prescription.

(Are you tweaking me just for good comment copy or do you really misread me this badly?)

Posted by: johngalt at September 21, 2007 3:37 PM
But jk thinks:

The switch from debtor's prison to concern over the harm these mortgages have done kind of took me aback. Perhaps I misread.

I do believe that many more low income people bought homes and started businesses than got stuck. Folks took risk.

I don't mean to tweak you, but I don't want to confer victim status on Mr. Touray. I hate to see him blaming the credit card companies for his debt. "Why do they send me offers, when I can't pay what I have?"

Posted by: jk at September 21, 2007 7:26 PM

Fred! on HillaryCare

Fred Thompson has released on video on his website regarding HillaryCare. A great quote:

"To some Democrats choice ... is like a cross is to a vampire."

2008 Race Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 1:54 PM | What do you think? [3]
But johngalt thinks:

Fred! strikes me as a "thoughtful cowboy." What's not to like?

I really enjoyed, The Hunt for Red November. (video 4) Spread it around!

Posted by: johngalt at September 19, 2007 3:29 PM
But jk thinks:

I saw and enjoyed the video -- especially liking the vampire comment. It seems vampire comments are in vogue all of a sudden. Dennis Miller said that that if Senator Harry Reid had to look in General Petraeus's eyes, it would be "like a vampire seeing the sunrise."

The thing not to like about "a thoughtful cowboy," jg, is the cowboy part. Don't take this personally, but this country is dying for a change from President Bush. You and I can list a dozen differences, but the Democratic Operatives and a casual electorate will see "another cowboy" and say no thanks.

Too bad. Like it's too bad for Governor Jeb Bush. But I would put the urbane, big-city-new-yawker out there so that those seeking change don't look to something in a pink pants suit.

Harsh, Unfair. True.

Posted by: jk at September 19, 2007 3:54 PM
But AlexC thinks:

When it comes to abortion, then choice is sacrosanct.

Schools and health care, they've never heard of it.

Posted by: AlexC at September 20, 2007 12:19 AM

September 18, 2007

Bring it on!

Stand and be counted, Democrats Legislators.

The Democratic leader said he will call for a vote this month on several anti-war proposals, including one by Sen. Carl Levin that would insist President Bush end U.S. combat next summer. The proposals would be mandatory and not leave Bush wiggle room, said Reid, D-Nev.

"There (are) no goals. It's all definite timelines," he told reporters of the planned legislation.

Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Monday night he would have agreed to turn his summer deadline into a nonbinding goal if doing so meant attracting enough votes to pass.

Let's get those votes on record. Who's with and who is with the forces of freedom and modernity?

But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

See that part?

"non-binding goal"

That's like playing poker with worthless chips. Voting for "non-binding" legislation allows politicians to make the "courageous" attempt to support something, without facing the consequences of actually supporting it via statute.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 20, 2007 1:14 PM

Zero Tolerance, Zero Consequences


Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton said Tuesday that a mandate requiring every American to purchase health insurance was the only way to achieve universal health care but she rejected the notion of punitive measures to force individuals into the health care system.

"At this point, we don't have anything punitive that we have proposed," the presidential candidate said in an interview with The Associated Press. "We're providing incentives and tax credits which we think will be very attractive to the vast majority of Americans."

I wonder if that proof of insurance will be asked for before or after the proof of citizenship?

But jk thinks:

Incentives, tax credits and avoidance of prison will be very attractive to the vast majority of Americans. Sounds like a winner.

Posted by: jk at September 18, 2007 8:40 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Ah, but under her plan, you'll have to provide proof of insurance just to get a job (at least one the government knows about, otherwise you'll have to work underground like the illegals). And if you don't, boom, you'll be automatically enrolled.

Read her lips: no new bureaucracy!

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 20, 2007 1:16 PM

Shock and Awe

Larry Kudlow got his wish today (Shock and Awe are his words), with a 50 bps Fed rate cut, and a 335 point rise in the DJIA.

Essentially, the Fed followed Treasury market rates lower. The 4 percent Treasury bill rate had been urging the Fed to make this move.

By itself, this action will not heal the credit markets overnight. But it will help. Lowering the cost of money will -- over time -- raise asset values across-the-board. New cash injections at the new target rate of 4.75 percent will raise the low 2 percent growth of the monetary base in order to accommodate the banking system’s unusually high cash demands.

I'm arguing with my economic betters over at Everyday Economist; he takes the Barry Ritholtz side of the discussion and worries about inflation. I take the Kudlow/Laffer view that productivity, technology, and global trade provide a deflationary pressure to ameliorate rising commodity prices.

Larry, Art and I got our way today.

Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 5:03 PM


I fear my free market brethren are getting a little cocky. We know we're gong to get massacred in the next election and that a raft of protectionist-socialists will be installed in Congress, we can see the darkness. Yet, there seems to be a confidence that the US will abjure government takeover of health care. I hope the confidence is well founded but would suggest a strong defense.

Michael Tanner of the Cato Institute dresses down Senator Clinton's "HillaryCare 2.0" (Hat-tip: Everyday Economist)

Here we go again. HillaryCare is back, and it’s apparent that Sen. Clinton has learned little since the American people overwhelmingly rejected her last attempt to overhaul the U.S. health care system. Once again her plan, which would cost $110 billion per year in new taxes, calls for greater government control over American health care. If her plan were to pass this time, it would mean higher taxes, lost jobs, less patient choice, and poorer quality health care.

Tanner makes several substantive points -- I am not criticizing his critique. Nor Karl Rove's. Rove has a guest ed in the WSJ today (free link) that enumerates the reasons to avoid Senator Clinton’s plan.
In short, the best health reform proposals will be those that recognize and build on the virtues of our market-based medical system. Sick people around the world come here because they can't get quality care in their home countries. Many health-care professionals come here to practice, leaving behind well-meaning health-care systems where government is in charge, bureaucrats make the decisions, and where the patient doesn't have the choice he or she does in the U.S.

HillaryCare may not have changed much, but I fear that the electorate has. Fifteen years of NYTimes editorials, and the drumbeat of "40 million uninsured," "45 million uninsured," "47 million uninsured..." have inculcated a crisis mentality.

Those who want to keep private mechanisms will be labeled deniers and will be forced to defend the status quo. Rove and Tanner lay out good points, but I think that political moderates are about ready to have the government take it over. And it is likely that they'll have politicians in 2009 who will be glad to deliver.

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 1:29 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

So tell me then, what does a political pragmatist do when "the art of the possible" leaves him with something completely unacceptable?

Posted by: johngalt at September 18, 2007 7:43 PM
But jk thinks:

If that is directed this pragmatist's way, you misread me. I am not counseling compromise. I am trying to rally the troops.

I hear an undertone in Rove, Tanner, and even Mayor Giuliani, that once you explain to the people that this is HillaryCare, they will again reject it.

I suggest that it is going to be a tough fight and that -- as usual -- all the emotional appeals and demagoguery will play into the hands of opponents. It will be tough to beat.

Posted by: jk at September 18, 2007 8:36 PM

Which "The View" Hostess scares you?

I saw something on this yesterday, but this is too good. John Fund wonders, in the Political Diary, why some on the left are afraid to debate those on the other side. He cites VP Al Gore's refusal to appear with "Skeptical Environmentalist" Bjorn Lomborg. But for sheer cowardice, you cannot beat Barry Manilow's refusal to appear with The View's Elisabeth Hasselbeck.

Now Barry Manilow, a major Democratic fundraiser who is currently God's gift to the Las Vegas lounge act, has cancelled a scheduled appearance to promote his new album on "The View," the daytime chat show hosted by Barbara Walters. It appears that Mr. Manilow views conservative co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck, a fervent supporter of the Iraq War, as "dangerous" and "offensive."

He said his demand that he not appear with Ms. Hasselbeck was ignored. "It's really too bad because I've always been a big supporter of the show, but I cannot compromise my beliefs." For its part ABC called the prima donna's behavior "completely disrespectful."

It appears that Mr. Manilow isn't willing to put his mouth where his money is in politics, even though his scheduled interview was not supposed to be about politics and he could have easily deflected any questions on such topics. "I think he refused to appear for one reason: Why does bologna reject the grinder?" one source at ABC told me. "It used to be that these Hollywood celebrities could at least talk a good game, but now it seems they want to be taken seriously but never actually debate what they believe."

She is pretty scary, Barry -- glad you know your limitations.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:16 PM | What do you think? [1]
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Joy Behar compares the Republicans to a Klan meeting for failing to suck up to black and Hispanic votes.

Proof that the line is a Hollywood re-tread?

One of the characters in "Live from Studio 60" made the same comment in the pilot episode while chastising his born-again Christian ex-GF.

None of them (except the beloved Miss Elisabeth Hasselbeck) have an ounce of originality.

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at September 19, 2007 11:23 PM

September 17, 2007

ALS Video

Dean Barnett reminds that not all entertainers are moonbats. John Ondrasik has a more serious worldview. I enjoyed a Glenn Reynolds podcast with him. He believes in freedom and has done much to support he troops.

This video discusses the fight against ALS, and is sponsored such that $2 will be donated to ALS research for every person that views it.

Posted by John Kranz at 9:27 PM

Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead

"She's not only merely dead, she's really most sincerely dead."

The New York Times will stop charging for access to parts of its Web site, effective at midnight Tuesday night, reflecting a growing view in the industry that subscription fees cannot outweigh the potential ad revenue from increased traffic on a free site.

Hat-tip; Instapundit

Posted by John Kranz at 7:59 PM | What do you think? [2]
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Why not,..they gave a whole page to for peanuts,...I guess this is some sort of mea culpa??

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at September 17, 2007 9:29 PM
But jk thinks:

They're just all about the giving, Trek.

Posted by: jk at September 17, 2007 9:34 PM

Who Is The Maestro?

That's a tortured allusion, for which I apologize. John Fund writes about Former Fed Chairman Greenspan, Ayn Rand, and the upcoming movie. I don't know, how would you segue that?

Fans of Ayn Rand's influential novel "Atlas Shrugged" have waited half a century for the book to reach the big screen. The 1200-page tale of capitalist heroes and altruistic villains, first published 50 years ago next month, now looks destined to become a big-budget Hollywood production.

Variety reports that Lionsgate is planning an early 2008 start for shooting, which will be directed by Vadim Perelman ("House of Sand and Fog") and feature Angelina Jolie in the starring role. Mr. Perelman will work from a script prepared by Randall Wallace, the writer who penned the screenplay for the epic "Braveheart" film starring Mel Gibson.

"Atlas Shrugged," a favorite among libertarians and their ilk, has faced many obstacles in being turned into celluloid, not least of which is the political message, which exalts the primacy of the individual. That's a big contrast with the It-Takes-a-Village crowd that predominates in Hollywood.

But the film will certainly not lack for powerful fans. Alan Greenspan, the retired head of the Federal Reserve, in his youth was a member of Rand's inner circle for some 20 years and was one of the few people allowed to read drafts of "Atlas Shrugged" while it was being written.

In his new memoir "The Age of Turbulence," out this week, Mr. Greenspan reveals details about his friendship with Rand, noting that he would often read her writings during breaks when he was playing sets as a jazz clarinetist in New York in the 1950s. Mr. Greenspan never repudiated his early affiliation with Rand's philosophy of undiluted free markets, even when Democratic senators would attack it as "a timber wolf mentality." But Mr. Greenspan also says that he understands that government is the art of the possible, not the pure. "My goal is to move things in the right direction, recognizing the constraints that our system places on any one actor," he once told me.

I suspect Mr. Greenspan reveals more of what he would have liked really to have done in government in his new book. Naturally, liberal reporters have given wide play to his remarks condemning the failure of Republicans, including President Bush, to cut government spending and his belief that the GOP deserved to lose control of Congress in 2006 as a result. In an interview with the Journal today, he also alludes to his disappointment with the protectionist, anti-growth politics of the current Democratic Party. For a complete and coherent view of Mr. Greenspan's Randian outlook, readers would do best to turn to his book.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:43 PM

NFL Rule Change

In a long and happy life, I don't think I had spent a moment feeling sorry for Oakland Raiders' fans. Until yesterday.

I was very happy with the Broncos win. Talk about pulling it out of the fire, we had all just watched the winning, 52-yard field goal sail through the uprights.

For those who did not see the game, Oakland -- it grieves me to say this -- performed a gritty and classy comeback from a three score deficit to tie the game. They then marched down in an impressive OT drive, and Janikowski kicked a 52 yarder.

But Coach Shanahan had called time right before the snap. The announcer pointed out that they can signal their intent to do this and the official waited in front of the bench for the signal. The second attempt hit the upright and my illustrious Broncs prevailed.

But that is a poultry-excrement rule that should be revoked. That is an unsporting use of time out.

"I feel bad," Broncos safety John Lynch said. "But not really."

Posted by John Kranz at 10:28 AM | What do you think? [11]
But jk thinks:

I also feel sorry for O.J. Simpson, who gets into so much trouble because he is black. Kind of sad.

Posted by: jk at September 17, 2007 1:38 PM
But johngalt thinks:

The NFL has a "rules committee" that considers this sort of thing during the off-season. I expect they'll talk about this next year.

What would you have the NFL do instead, JK?
- Disallow time-outs before field goals?
- Stipulate that they must be called before the opposing team breaks huddle, or the center touches the ball?
- Abolish the practice of second-by-second timing of a time-out call? What about that well known and well respected clock management technique?
It's already forbidden to call back-to-back time outs, so it's not quite a moral wasteland of rulemaking.

The rule is objective and avoidable. If the kicking team feels that their professional kicker needs additional rest before his second attempt they are free to call another time out of their own. What we saw yesterday is just the evolution of game management, spurred by intense competition. Glorious.

No, it's not "fair" but them's the breaks. Life ain't fair either.

Gads, JK, if I didn't know better I'd say yer a nannyist.

Posted by: johngalt at September 17, 2007 4:02 PM
But jk thinks:

Good thing we all agree on politics and immigration.

My rule change would say that if the officials are going to wait in front of one team's bench for a time-out call, The other bench is notified. Transparency, baby, not regulation.

Posted by: jk at September 17, 2007 6:30 PM
But Sugarchuck thinks:

Just when I thought I was out, they drag me right back in. The rule is transparent now. The only surprise on the play came when it looked as if Shanahan had not called a time out, thus missing an opportunity to ice the most choke prone kicker in the NFL. Every time this comes up I think we should all pause and think about the children, or the obscene profits CEO's make, or the oil barrons, or drug companies, or Sean Penn. There are rules that need changin', but not this one on icing the kicker.

Posted by: Sugarchuck at September 17, 2007 7:19 PM
But jk thinks:

I'm doing it for the children, sc, know that I am doing this for the children.

Posted by: jk at September 17, 2007 7:28 PM
But f1fan thinks:

baked beyond belief, but i was googling to see when it became legal for coaches to call time out, and came across this site. I had just posted something incredibly similar on college footbal forum about the florida gators coach trying the same thing against auburn. I even posted that deliberatly waiting to the last posible second was chickenstuff and shouldbe an unsportsmanlike conduct call, and that it was bad for our kids to see.

Posted by: f1fan at October 2, 2007 11:12 PM

September 14, 2007

Not so fast, Senator...

I posted Senator Salazar’s response to my letter yesterday. I was pleased that he had indeed come out against the advertisement and said "Well done." The letter references media reports:

As noted in media reports, I believe the ad was inappropriate and sent the wrong message ("Salazar assails MoveOn over Petraeus attack ad", Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, 9/13/07).

I almost made a joke about being surprised that I had missed that in the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, but I'm not really that amused. The paper's website lists its circulation as:
Daily Circulation: 30,707
Sunday Circulation: 33,733

I think the Senator is being very clever indeed. He can respond to his right wingnut constituency, that "the ad was inappropriate and sent the wrong message" and he can cite the media report. At the same time, he can be certain that most people have only the slightest possibility of encountering his brave moment.

I thought I would test this by doing a Yahoo Search for "Senator Salazar MoveOn Ad." ThreeSources comes up three times in the top ten (this might make four!) I'm glad to be known as the guy who owns this story, but it becomes clear that nobody else is paying attention.

Is my Senator having it both ways?

UPDATE: Gary Harmon of the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel emails Professor Glenn Reynolds, who linked to tihs post:

Prof. Reynolds: Here I sit, damned with faint praise re Salazar’s Sis Souljah? Did you have to mention the size of the readership? Now I feel like the freshman on the first day in the locker room with the seniors. Again.

Actually, we won’t apologize for the size of our readership. It’s actually growing and not many can say that in this business. What is interesting is that the comments were made in a phone conference involving almost all Colorado media, including the big dailies and AP.

That it made it to our paper might explain why we’re growing and, well, they’re not.

I certainly didn't mean it as a slight to the paper. If the larger dailies passed on the story, it negates my point, but it still works out well for Senator Salazar. Nice scoop, Gary. You get the "well done."

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 3:45 PM | What do you think? [5]
But Paul A'Barge thinks:

All well and good, but what if he went to the NYTimes and they said he would have to pay retail for the privilege of refuting them?

Screwed, he would be.

Posted by: Paul A'Barge at September 14, 2007 4:26 PM
But johngalt thinks:

He just wanted to make sure that Norman Hsu knows where he stands.

Posted by: johngalt at September 14, 2007 4:26 PM
But Steve-o thinks:

As a Colorado resident, I would say this action is completely in character for Ken Salazar. He is a very calculating man. This isn't the first time he has done this type of thing, and it won't be the last. So far, he has pulled off these incidents unscathed. I predict the Colorado media won't call him on it, he is known in local media circles as the Teflon Hispanic.

Posted by: Steve-o at September 14, 2007 5:38 PM
But Portia thinks:

What Steve-o said. Being from Colorado I thought "Why am I not surprised?"

Of course there is an undertone of sliminess to the whole thing but that too is no surprise.


Posted by: Portia at September 14, 2007 6:43 PM
But mrsizer thinks:

I'm not at all surprised the Denver Post didn't print anything: No doubt they agree with the ad and they are only an AP reprinting vehicle anyway.

(We get it at work so I occasionally, and masochistically, read it.)

Posted by: mrsizer at September 15, 2007 2:15 PM

Asking the Tough Questions

Whether you are for the war or against it, one must acknowledge that the changing positions among the Democrats has been somewhat ridiculous. Ironically, it is usually those who support the war who are the ones to point out the hypocrisy when, in fact, it should be the opposite. One would think that those who opposed the war from the beginning would condemn candidates like Sen. Clinton for giving the president authorization and then changing her opinion when the war became unpopular. I suppose that they are merely excited to have someone join their side.

With that in mind, it was nice to see Bill Maher pose a tough question:

2008 Race Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 2:49 PM

On Da Fed

ThreeSources friend Josh Hendrickson is interviewed in and relates his predilection against a rate cut.

Along with every other Fed watcher, Josh Hendrickson is trying to divine a clue about what Bernanke will do (or not do) next week when the Federal Open Market Committee meets. Hendrickson, an economics instructor at Wayne State University in Detroit and author of the blog The Everyday Economist, says the best course of action would be to leave rates unchanged — though, he admits, that seems increasingly unlikely now.

I'm happy to name drop a good guy who returns my emails. And you will note that nobody has so far called me to solicit my opinions about the liquidity crunch. However, I find myself on the other side of EE on this. Monetary policy is above my pay grade, but Larry Kudlow and former Fed Governors he has had on the show all point to the lengthening spreads between 90-day T-bills and the Fed Funds Rate. Wayne Angel, Bob McTeer, and Kudlow all speak to the fed's following the market instead of setting it. I'll happily parrot that thought.

I do not see a rate cut as a bail-out or a "Bernanke put." I think the FOMC purchase of commercial paper is much more of a moral hazard than a liquidity injection which the whole market seems to need.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:28 AM

September 13, 2007

Is Fred! Lazy? Does anyone care?

Is it just me or does it seem like the only criticism that has been leveled against Fred Thompson thus far has referred to his lazy and tired demeanor?

Not only does this line of attack seem rather weak, but, as a political cynic, I actually find this description of a lazy Thompson a bit endearing:

He had long complained that he found Senate life suffocating. "I don't like spending 14- and 16-hour days voting on 'sense of the Senate' resolutions on irrelevant matters," Thompson said in 1998. It was, he said, "very frustrating." He may have wished the Senate spent its time on more-important issues, but Thompson himself didn't have the patience, or the desire, to do the kind of ego stroking and horse trading it takes to get bills to the president's desk.

2008 Race Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 10:44 PM | What do you think? [4]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I would love 544 more men like Ron Paul, but 544 more like Fred will do. If they're all too "lazy," as his critics charge, to vote on all these matters...then so much less of their BS will pass.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 14, 2007 10:16 AM
But jk thinks:

Good point. Perhaps there's a shade of "Silent Cal" Coolidge in the Senator?

The lazy tag, however, is a little disconcerting for a partisan hack like me. Senator Clinton will pull no punches to win the general, and I might hesitate to support someone in the primary whom I thought would not give 100%.

Posted by: jk at September 14, 2007 11:25 AM
But johngalt thinks:

If Hillary "pulls no punches" and Fred! "pulls no punches" I like Fred!'s chances much better.

There have been other criticisms, by the way. He wears Gucci shoes to a country fair, has a too-attractive wife, replaces employees from time to time, at least once sponsored a campaign finance bill in congress (and shared his opinion on the matter with SCOTUS) and kept the MSM and hyperactive bloggers waiting far longer than they thought proper.

Such a load of baggage. How does he shoulder it all?

Posted by: johngalt at September 14, 2007 4:20 PM
But jk thinks:

JG, you are in the bag for the Senator. I thought I was bad.

McCain-Feingold was the most serious frontal assault on a basic Constitutional right in recent memory. I have already disqualified one GOP candidate over it (rhymes with Buck Train…) Senator Thompson cosponsored the bill, filed an amicus curiae brief over it, and stands by it to this day.

That may not be instant disqualification, but to compare it to a media meme of laziness, or campaign tactics seems out of character for you. Ideas matter -- and the Senator backs at least one terrible idea.

Posted by: jk at September 14, 2007 8:57 PM

Dear John

Dear John:

Thank you for contacting me with regard to’s recent advertisement featuring General David Petraeus. I appreciate hearing from you.

I lament MoveOn’s decision to engage in the politics of personal attacks. As noted in media reports, I believe the the ad was inappropriate and sent the wrong message ("Salazar assails MoveOn over Petraeus attack ad", Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, 9/13/07). There is no need to denigrate the service of General Petreaus, who is in my view one of the most skilled and credible commanders in the United States Military. Doing so debases our political discourse and obscures the real issue at hand, which is how to find a new way forward in Iraq.

As the Congress debates the Iraq War in the coming weeks, it is my hope that we can resist these personal attacks; rather, we need to come together and have a civil, substantive debate on the merits of our current strategy. We owe that to the men and women serving bravely in Iraq, and to the American people.

Again, thank you for taking the time to share your views.


Ken Salazar
United States Senator

Well done, Senator, thank you.

Posted by John Kranz at 6:46 PM

Must See TV

And it's not even Larry Kudlow.

John Stossel will interview Michael Moore and provide a (gasp!) free market view of health care on a 20/20 special this Friday night.

Government rationing health care in Canada is why when Karen Jepp went into labor with her quadruplets last month, she flew to Montana to have the babies. No nearby neonatal unit in Canada had room for her.

And everyone is complaining about the millions of Americans who are uninsured. But is health insurance such a good thing? What if you had grocery insurance? You wouldn't care what things cost. Why buy hamburger? I'll just buy steak. Why use coupons? Why look for sales? I'll just buy … everything. My insurance company's paying. That increases costs, because when bills are paid with "other people's money," costs skyrocket.

Don't worry, I have some good news about some different approaches — ones that reduce costs and still make medicine good for patients.

Stossel has a guest editorial (free link) in the WSJ today to whet your appetite.

Friday night -- it should be good.

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 12:39 PM


Or, as the WaPo calls it "Democrats Push Toward Middle on Iraq Policy."

After two days of congressional testimony from Army Gen. David H. Petraeus and Ambassador to Iraq Ryan C. Crocker, the battle lines in the House and Senate over the war have begun to shift, with moderate members of both parties building new momentum behind initiatives that would force the White House to make modest changes to the military mission but not require a substantial drawdown of troops by a set date. Democratic leaders, who have blessed the new approach, now believe that passing compromise legislation is the first step toward more ambitious measures aimed at ending the war, although that tactic is likely to result in stiff opposition from Democratic activists who want a rapid troop withdrawal.

Just months ago, Democratic leaders gave short shrift to any bipartisan bills deemed insufficiently strong by their left flank. A Senate measure to institute the recommendations of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, headed by Republican former secretary of state James A. Baker III and Democratic former Indiana congressman Lee H. Hamilton, never came to a vote after Reid slammed it as "weak tea." And House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) blocked consideration of a bill to force the Bush administration to plan for withdrawals after antiwar Democrats denounced it.

Now if we can just do something about Senators Warner and Lugar...

Freedom on the March Posted by John Kranz at 11:20 AM

September 12, 2007

But jk thinks:

Yeah, well I have it on good authority that you have accepted funds from Big Oil, so who's gonna listen to you?

Posted by: jk at September 12, 2007 7:44 PM

jk Questions the Senate Majority Leader's Partiotism


Reid said the recommendation by Gen. David Petraeus, expected to be embraced by President Bush in a speech to the nation on Thursday, "is neither a drawdown or a change in mission that we need. His plan is just more of the same."

"I call on the Senate Republicans to not walk lockstep as they have with the president for years in this war. It's time to change. It's the president's war. At this point it also appears clear it's also the Senate Republicans' war," Reid told a Capitol Hill news conference.

If this country is really prepared to accept Senator Reid's version of reality over the assessment offered to Congress by General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker, perhaps we deserve to live under shar'ia.

This Republican will accept it as a Republican's war if the Democrats have all truly decided that freedom is no longer worth fighting for. I've been disappointed with the opposition party (and my own) many times in my life, but this is a new level of separation. (No word from Senator Salazar on my letter. I received an email acknowledgement that it had been received.)

110th Congress Posted by John Kranz at 5:06 PM

Like the Al Gore Toilet

Our 535 product design engineers have done it again. Ten years ago, they told toilet manufacturers how much water they could use, and the country got less efficient fixtures and even a black market in Canadian, high-volume, toilet tanks. (My contractor tried to talk me out of replacing an old one but I didn't listen...)

Now, Consumer Reports points out that they have ruined washing machines (via Protein Wisdom).

Not so long ago you could count on most washers to get your clothes very clean. Not anymore. Our latest tests found huge performance differences among machines. Some left our stain-soaked swatches nearly as dirty as they were before washing. For best results, you’ll have to spend $900 or more.

What happened? As of January, the U.S. Department of Energy has required washers to use 21 percent less energy, a goal we wholeheartedly support. But our tests have found that traditional top-loaders, those with the familiar center-post agitators, are having a tough time wringing out those savings without sacrificing cleaning ability, the main reason you buy a washer.

So you wash your clothes twice, flush twice, and refrain from buying anything new (and more efficient) because you are afraid the US Senate has had a hand in its design. Today I read "Senate to hold toy safety hearing today "

Merciful Zeus! When they're done, toys will likely have rotating knives.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:43 AM | What do you think? [2]
But AlexC thinks:

... and those toys will be marvelous.

Posted by: AlexC at September 12, 2007 2:14 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Naw, not knives. Lead-based paint that melts in kids' mouths, not in their hands!

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 12, 2007 6:02 PM

Hamilton & the Metric System

The middle ed in the Wall Street Journal today goes a couple puns too far, but makes a great point: (Paid link, but I am stealing reproducing in full:)

Brussels has learned what many an exasperated woman has known for some time: Don't get between a Brit or Irishman and his pint. We refer to yesterday's decision by the European Commission to allow the U.K. and Ireland to continue using imperial weights and measures.

The EU had intended to force the Isles by 2010 to stop using miles on road signs, troy ounces for gold and other precious metals, and pints for milk, cider and, yes, beer. The metric system favored on the Continent was deemed superior. Britain and Ireland had already agreed to require metric labeling alongside imperial measures on other goods, but you know what they say about giving an inch.

In the end, disrupting trade with the U.S., which hasn't adopted the metric system, was probably a larger concern for the EU than offending British and Irish sensitivities. Brussels is claiming to be going the extra mile here. This is more like a case where an ounce of regulatory restraint would have been worth a pound of political climbdown.

Pursuing a science career as a lad, I thought the metric system was great, and supported its adoption in America during the 70's.

I knew a little science, but I had not met the ideas of Hayek. Why, the metric system was clearly better! You could convert easily between different measures, even between liquid measures, volume, and (with water) mass. Let's join the knighted Europeans.

Now I see that the metric system lacks the human scale measurements that we traditionally use "Tradition is the Democracy of the dead," Chesterton tells us. My wife is a little under five feet tall, I'm a tad over six. That makes sense at a deeper level than 183 vs. 152 cm. My friends in Ireland and the UK still give their weight in stones for the same reason.

David Brooks calls himself a Hamiltonian more than a conservative in his essay in Mary Eberstat's Why I Turned Right (3.5 stars). And I find myself to be a recovering Hamiltonian.

I respect our first Secretary of the Treasury, and consider our country far better off that he won the day with creation of a National Bank. But Hamilton stands for imposing "better" ideas on the people who are not quite bright enough to see their value. Because that worked with the National Bank (I'm sure some ThreeSourcers may dissent) does not mean, on balance, that it has worked for the next 200 years when the government has forced ideas on an unwilling public.

The tension between the tyranny of the majority and authoritarianism is a gift from Hamilton and his supporters and antagonists. But we dodged a bullet when we passed on the Metric System.

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 10:44 AM

September 11, 2007

Off-Grid Living

Sort of.

For lunch in her modest apartment, Madeline Nelson tossed a salad made with shaved carrots and lettuce she dug out of a Whole Foods dumpster. She flavored the dressing with miso powder she found in a trash bag on a curb in Chinatown. She baked bread made with yeast plucked from the garbage of a Middle Eastern grocery store.

Nelson is a former corporate executive who can afford to dine at four-star restaurants. But she prefers turning garbage into gourmet meals without spending a cent.

In the country I grew up in, if Ms Nelson had kids, they would take away them away. Now she's celebrated.
Freeganism was born out of environmental justice and anti-globalization movements dating to the 1980s. The concept was inspired in part by groups like "Food Not Bombs," an international organization that feeds the homeless with surplus food that's often donated by businesses.

Freegans are often college-educated people from middle-class families.

Adam Weissman, whose New York group has been around for about four years, lives with his father, a pediatrician, and mother, a teacher. The 29-year-old is unemployed by choice, taking care of his elderly grandparents daily and working odd jobs when he needs to. The rest of his time is spent furthering the freegan cause, he said, which is "about opting out of capitalism in any way that we can."

I work with a guy, still very liberal, who lived on a commune in the Seattle area in the seventies.

They tried this. It's not new.

I'm not quite sure why Marty left but "not really working out" seems to be a plausable reason.

Read the whole, sad sad thing.

But jk thinks:

More transparency: this is what life is like if you "opt out of capitalism."

Posted by: jk at September 11, 2007 3:34 PM
But AlexC thinks:

... by living off of it's refuse.

One of the quotes from captions... "She concedes that she was somewhat surprised once when she did not not get sick after eating salmon retrieved from a trash container."

Perhaps it's a miracle... a sign from Our Lady of Perpetual Squalor.

Posted by: AlexC at September 11, 2007 3:41 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I had written a while back on starving Kenyans refusing food out of pride, and Freegans' misguided economics.

Putting aside the safety issues (never mind garbage cans, if something's left on the street corner, you can bet it's for a goddamn good reason!), for most of us, it's just not economically practical to search for hours to find scraps of food. It's better to spend those hours actually working, then go to the grocery store that helps minimize our search costs.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 12, 2007 10:22 AM
But jk thinks:

I'll try and play JohnGalt here (he's probably on a cattle drive or something). It's a philosophy problem.

This is what happens when you give up your individual interests to pursue a nebulous public good. This woman has a college education and had a decent career. She allowed herself to believe that this is somehow better for the planet.

Where jg would likely not join me, is that I would point out that the world is really much better off having her work and create wealth and innovation. Let the professional trash removal crew do the job; they have a distinct comparative advantage.

Posted by: jk at September 12, 2007 10:38 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I would join you in that assessment, JK: The "world" is much better off when every individual refuses to give up his individual interests.

I wasn't on a cattle drive yesterday. I was on sick leave. Damn salmon.

Posted by: johngalt at September 12, 2007 2:57 PM
But jk thinks:

The Salmon Moussssssse! Gets 'em everytime.

Posted by: jk at September 12, 2007 3:52 PM

Income Inequality

Onion News Network explores the growing gap between the rich and the super-rich in America:

In The Know: Are America's Rich Falling Behind The Super-Rich?

Hat-tip: Prof. Mankiw

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 1:41 PM | What do you think? [3]
But AlexC thinks:

"Not everyone can vacation in Italy, some of you have to vacation on Martha's Vineyard!"

Posted by: AlexC at September 11, 2007 2:13 PM
But jk thinks:

"If the rich were just a little more motivated, they wouldn't be such a drain on society..."

Posted by: jk at September 11, 2007 2:34 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"The super-rich have, really, no idea what the rich put up with."

Posted by: johngalt at September 12, 2007 3:03 PM

Dear Senator Salazar

Senator Salazar

I see that you received $4,000 from for your campaign in 2006. I don't find much agreement with that organization but would not object to your accepting a modest donation from them.

I strongly object to their "General Betray Us" advertisement. Reasonable people can disagree on the war but there is no justification for this ad hominem attack on a great American patriot.

I write to request that you publicly disavow this smear.

Thank you,
John Kranz
Marie Rivera

How about your Senator?

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 12:11 PM

Thank You, Martha Stewart

Not only for the paint color "sea foam," though we have used it extensively in our house and love it. The walls take on the weather outside -- when it is stormy, they are grey, when it is bright, they are bright.

Actually, I wanted to thank you for your investment in Dr. Sam Waksal's ImClone. Thanks to you and other investors, Dr. Waksal was able to develop an impressive treatment for cancer, Erbitux. The WSJ reports (paid link) that it has now shown efficacy in a certain type of lung cancer.

In a statement, the companies said that a Phase III clinical trial showed that patients with advanced lung cancer taking Erbitux in combination with the chemotherapy regimen cisplatin and vinorelbine had a higher overall survival rate than those taking just chemotherapy alone. The companies did not immediately say how much longer the patients lived.

ImClone and Bristol-Myers are testing Erbitux for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer, the most common type of the deadly disease. Erbitux is already approved to treat colorectal, head and neck cancers.

The companies said they plan to present more detailed results of the clinical trial, which was run by partner Merck KGaA at a future medical conference.

Oh, and Ms. Stewart, I'm very sorry that my government prosecuted you and Dr. Waksal for developing this life saving compound and participating in an efficient capital market. Please know that that was not my idea.

I'm also sorry for the tens of thousands who have died in the last two years from cancers that might have been ameliorated with Erbitux. The same government decided that the "arrogant" Dr. Waksal needed to jump through some extra hoops and be taken down a peg. That was not my idea either.

Pharmaceuticals Posted by John Kranz at 11:13 AM

Hsppy Patriots' Day!

Y'all tired of this picture yet? I'm not.

Instapundit readers will want to know that I shot it with a Palm iiiC

Freedom on the March Posted by John Kranz at 11:00 AM

September 10, 2007

Hsu Fly Pie II

Hillary! has decided to dump $850K (yes, nearly a million) of Hsu-sourced money.

It makes one wonder how much Hsu-sourced money has found it's way into the Pennsylvania political system.

That's hard to tell from the Campaign Finance website, but it does find interesting things like $500 to the Republican National State Elections Committee.


Pennsylvania Politics Posted by AlexC at 8:41 PM


Ian at Benevolent Misanthropy directs us to a Daily Mail article about some orphaned hedgehogs who have been adopted by a cleaning brush.

UPDATE: this clip of preaching atheism to Mormans is pretty clever as well!

Posted by John Kranz at 7:47 PM


K-Lo at NRO has a great collection of quotes from General Petraeus’s testimony today:

2006 was a bad year in Iraq. The country came close to unraveling politically, economically, and in security terms. 2007 has brought improvement. Enormous challenges remain. Iraqis still struggle with fundamental questions about how to share power, accept their differences, and overcome their past. The changes to our strategy last January—the surge—have helped change the dynamics in Iraq for the better. Our increased presence made besieged communities feel that they could defeat al-Qa’ida by working with us. Our population security measures have made it much harder for terrorists to conduct attacks. We have given the Iraqis the time and space to reflect on what sort of country they want. Most Iraqis genuinely accept Iraq as a multi-ethnic, multi-sectarian society—it is the balance of power that has yet to be sorted out.

Hat-tip: Instapundit

Freedom on the March Posted by John Kranz at 5:01 PM

"Worked out"

So I was flipping through the channels and landed on an interview with Helen Thomas on CN8, the Comcast Channel.

She was talking about Iraq and the need to pull out, using references to Vietnam. She eventually said, "We left the Vietnamese eventually, and let themselves work it out."

Sure did.

Iraq War on Terror Posted by AlexC at 2:19 PM

More Transparency

Don Luskin links to The World Without Us website. Be sure to watch the animation that shows how, in 370 years or so, nature can completely reclaim your house. What an improvement.

I appreciate these people sharing their true goals. A good friend who is both a moonbat and an honest interlocutor, sends a link to George Carlin's take on global warming: in a nutshell, "Nothing wrong with the planet. The planet is fine. The PEOPLE are fucked."

The planet'll be here and we'll be long gone. Just another failed mutation. Just another closed-end biological mistake. An evolutionary cul-de-sac. The planet'll shake us off like a bad case of fleas. A surface nuisance.

For my part, you can put me down as pro-people. I'm willing to go on a limb.

From the other side Posted by John Kranz at 12:01 PM

Lies, Dammned Lies...

ThreeSources friend Perry Eidelbus catches an interesting statistic bemoaned on a disturbing and unexplained 76% jump in the suicide rate for teen girls. Every one is, of course, a tragedy, but news organizations love to find these "disturbing trends" credible statistics be damned.

If you look at the data, the apparently huge percentage comes from things like "94 suicides [among 10- to 14-year-old girls] in 2004, compared to 56 in 2003." Out of a population of 300 million people, a difference of 38 people in anything is statistically and socially meaningless. Similarly, my blogfather Don Luskin recently noted Reuters' absurd sensationalism in reporting a layoffs increase in August versus July, which affected a whopping 0.02 percent of the 153 million-plus American workers.

If one guy is hit by lightning while playing the saxophone outdoors in 2006 and two are in 2007, I don't think it is fair to hype the 100% increase.

Perry finds that the overall suicide rate is down -- and speculates how some of the leading lights on the left might explain the alarming increase.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:19 AM | What do you think? [3]
But Terri thinks:

I agree it's statistically insignificant, but the population of girls 10-14 years old is not 300million. It's probably closer to 15million.

And while still a bit of a hype, it's a demographic that isn't known for suicide, so to see a raise of 38 people is, in my opinion, news. As would be 2 lightening struck saxaphone players in one year!

Posted by: Terri at September 10, 2007 11:46 AM
But jk thinks:

You may have a point on the girls, Terri, but not on the saxophonists -- I know plenty of these guys. Really, we'd be okay.

Taking your numbers, 38 is .0025 per cent of 15 million. I think it is valid to question whether a delta of that size is significant.

Posted by: jk at September 10, 2007 12:29 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Terri, my use of the entire U.S. population is consistent with standard statistical analysis. Notwithstanding jk's point, it's to show the absurd fretting about a tiny fraction of *all of us*. If there are 10 yak-fellating hippies with green mohawks in the U.S., and five die in a given 12-month period from ingesting Sterno, that's "statistically significant" according to you, but not in the whole scheme of things. A few dozen more girls offed themselves last year, and the sensationalist suggestion is that *all of us* need to drop whatever we can because of this "crisis."

You can go ahead and worry about 38 more people all you want, but I won't. There are far more pressing issues than trying to prevent the unpreventable, and far better uses of money than having government give ours to self-anointed shrinks who sustain jobs based on our money. If you want to focus on young girls, eating disorders are a greater danger. Suicide prevention for such a small number of people might as well be playing whack-a-mole.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 11, 2007 10:24 AM

September 9, 2007

"I, Osama, was surprised that Kidney Failure could cause ED"

Send out a seven day free sample pack of Cialis®

WASHINGTON - Seemingly taunting Osama bin Laden, President Bush's homeland security adviser said Sunday the fugitive al-Qaida leader is "virtually impotent" beyond his ability to hide away and spread anti-American propaganda.

I watched that interview and smiled when she said that. Yahoo/AP picked it up as a news headline. I hope it makes the rounds.

War on Terror Posted by John Kranz at 6:31 PM

September 8, 2007

Hsu Fly Pie

NOTE: I always subscribed to the theory that one of the reasons Sun Microsystems' Java language was so popular was because the trade press could make up clever headlines about it. Senator Clinton may have misfortune in the name of her errant donor for the same reason.

I'm intrigued when campaigns are caught with "smelly money" that they can give it to charity: it's a get out of jail free card for political campaigns. I bought it until I heard that Senator Edwards gave $300,000 of Rupert Murdoch's smelly money to a charity run by his daughter.

It seems that Senator Clinton could enjoy power by directing campaign cash to charity. Does the press follow up? She'll give this money away -- but it will not be to the RNC.

UPDATE: National Journal's Buzz has a collection of Hsu puns (including this one). Click on over. Hsu know Hsu want to...

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 3:35 PM | What do you think? [2]
But Allan thinks:

The right and morally correct thing for all those who received money from Hsu would be to use that money to reimburse those who were swindled by Hsu. Of course were talking about the Democratic party so something like that will never happen.

Posted by: Allan at September 9, 2007 12:22 PM
But jk thinks:

I'm thinking she'll give it to the Clinton Presidential Library

Posted by: jk at September 9, 2007 1:23 PM

Review Corner

I find Chris Rock extremely funny. His language is coarse, but that is his act and I can handle a few swear words without getting the vapors. His stand up comedy is funny, and he has played some great comedic roles. His depiction of Rufus, the thirteenth apostle in "Dogma" is one of the great performances of our time.

Seeing Mister Rock in a movie with Gina Torres of Firefly and Angel, I spent an extra three bucks to get it on pay per view and save a trip to my beloved Redbox. Rock stars and directs (directorial debut?) "I Think I Love My Wife."

I think I was really disappointed.

Rock plays an Investment Banker. While he pulls off the role, it seems a waste to have him playing a straight man in a comedy. More problematic is the film’s pacing and writing. It's an SNL skit but it does not have enough content to fill a two hour movie. I stopped halfway through to watch baseball and I was pretty happy to see it end.

Philosophically, I found it disturbing. It's not brimming with politics or economics, but sub rosa there are a few irksome undercurrents about race relations, with nods to the importance of "authenticity" for African Americans. Keep it real, bro, whatever. You can't enjoy the fruits of your labor, that would be wrong.

The basic premise is anti marriage: that after a few years, all the romance and passion dries away, and staying in a marriage faithfully is a chore that a grown up has to do. A duty to put your kids and spouse above your needs. That's a better message than "whatever floats your boat," but I can't buy it. I just celebrated my 24th Anniversary and I am lucky to know many happy, committed couples. I don't see this hairshirt mentality as the norm.

A yawner. A cringer. I can name one funny scene in two hours. A waste of talent. One star.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 10:45 AM

September 7, 2007

No, Fred, No!

Well, that was quick. I fear Fred! has disqualified himself.

Speaking in Sioux City, Iowa, moments ago, Fred Thompson endorsed an amendment to the Constitution that would prevent state judges from altering the definition of marriage without the direction of their states' legislatures.

I don't think it would drive me into Senator Clinton's socialist arms or anything. But I have a hunch that this will be the first of many populist lurches from the Senator.

UPDATE: And he filed an amicus brief in McConnell v. FEC for the FEC!

2008 Race Posted by John Kranz at 3:32 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

I doubt that will do it. But this might.

Posted by: johngalt at September 10, 2007 3:14 PM
But jk thinks:

Just to be safe, I am putting all my Gucci® loafers in the closet until after the election.

Posted by: jk at September 10, 2007 4:30 PM

"I'm runnin' for President of the United States"

With these words Fred! "stepped up" last night.

He had some good lines:

On taking so long to enter the race: "No, I don't think so. Of course, we'll find out. But uh, I don't think people are gonna say, you know that guy would make a very good president but he just didn't get in soon enough."

On John McCain: "He's a good friend and will be when this is over with. Unless of course he beats me."

On skipping the NH debate to appear on Leno: "I'm certainly not disrespecting them but it's a lot more difficult to get on the Tonight Show than it is to get into a presidential debate."


One of the greatest factors in my preference for Fred! over Rudy! is private firearms ownership. Fred! took an opportunity to amplify that difference late last month.

2008 Race Posted by JohnGalt at 1:32 AM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

The band was better on the Tonight Show as well.

I'm game to give Fred! a good listen, but my buddy, Rudy!, has really impressed me by grabbing the mantle of supply-side, free market economics. If Senator Thompson can stay out of the populist patch, he has much to recommend him.

I agree with on the 2nd Amendment, but I have concerns about the 1st. Mary Katherine Ham interviewed campaign finance expert Bradley Smith who remembers when the bill was called McCain-Thompson-Feingold.

Posted by: jk at September 7, 2007 12:35 PM

September 6, 2007

Quote of the Day

Megan McArdle, in a thoughtful post about extravagant economic claims from both sides of the aisle:

Indeed, Robert Rubin's claims in his memoir border on the ludicrous. (Border? Hell, the hedges are growing well over the property line, and the neighbours are threatening to sue.)

Posted by John Kranz at 5:34 PM

Lunch is On AlexC

from The Wall Street Journal.

Sept. 6, 2007

Facing a consumer backlash, Apple said it would give a $100 store credit to early iPhone customers, many of whom were angered when the company slashed the price of the gadget by $200 just two months after it first went on sale. In a letter to customers, Apple CEO Steve Jobs defended the decision to cut the price, but apologized to customers. "We apologize for disappointing some of you, and we are doing our best to live up to your high expectations of Apple," he wrote.

For more information, please see:

Senator Schumer's Worst Moment

It's hard to pick, but I watched video of this speech on Hugh Hewitt's site yesterday and I was appalled.

J.D. Johannes posts commentary today with video of one of those loser Lt. Colonels whom Senator Schumer sent to war and now calls a failure. Don Surber weighs in as well (HT Insty on both)

Schumer heads the Democratic Senate campaign for 2008. Remember when James Clyburn of the South Carolina, the No. 3 Democrat in the House, said that good news from Iraq would be bad news from the Democrats?

Small wonder Schumer wants to downplay the success of our military in Iraq. For shame.

Shame indeed.

Freedom on the March Posted by John Kranz at 12:18 PM

Review Corner

I let the GOP debate sit on the hard disk last night and went out to see some live music.

Hot Club Nouveau played at Nissi's and it was an incredible night. Four very young guys playing music in the style of Django Reinhart and Stephane Grappelli. I would call it the most difficult and demanding music that one could attempt. And these guys played it credibly, and then added some "Nouveau" parts on top.

It gives one hope for the Republic and the future. Colorado folk: these guys are based out of Fort Collins, see them if you have a chance.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 10:51 AM

September 5, 2007

The Forces of Darkness and Anti-modernity

A good week for transparency. Senator John Edwards demonstrated, if I may borrow Don Luskin's words, "You don't have to scratch liberalism very deeply to find socialism underneath, nor socialism to find authoritarianism underneath."

Today, James Taranto links to an article about a company that provides "carbon offsets" by paying people to stay in poverty. Is this for real?

Climate Care celebrates the fact that it encourages the Indian poor to use their own bodies rather than machines to irrigate the land. Its website declares: ‘Sometimes the best source of renewable energy is the human body itself. With some lateral thinking, and some simple materials, energy solutions can often be found which replace fossil fuels with muscle-power.’ (2) To show that muscle power is preferable to machine power, the Climate Care website features a cartoon illustration of smiling naked villagers pedalling on a treadle pump next to a small house that has an energy-efficient light bulb and a stove made from ‘local materials at minimal cost’. Climate Care points out that even children can use treadle pumps: ‘One person - man, woman or even child - can operate the pump by manipulating his/her body weight on two treadles and by holding a bamboo or wooden frame for support.’ (3)

Feeling guilty about your two-week break in Barbados, when you flew thousands of miles and lived it up with cocktails on sunlit beaches? Well, offset that guilt by sponsoring eco-friendly child labour in the developing world! Let an eight-year-old peasant pedal away your eco-remorse…

It has verisimilitude. This seems exactly what the warmies want, but I can't believe they have that much of a tin ear.

UPDATE: Sorry, bloggers, I'm a little comfier with this story's veracity seeing it in the London Times. Taranto also had this link.

No Phone? I'll Take It!

from The Wall Street Journal.

Sept. 5, 2007

Apple revamped its iPod lineup and introduced a new model with an iPhone-like touchscreen and Wi-Fi technology that allows users to wirelessly access the Internet. The device, whose software interface also resembles the iPhone, will be called the iPod Touch and cost either
$299 or $399 depending on the amount of storage.

For more information, see:

But AlexC thinks:

The $200 price drop on the 8gb iPhone really gets my goat.

... yeah yeah yeah... earlier adopter, etc. etc.

Posted by: AlexC at September 5, 2007 4:48 PM

We've Always Been at War with Eurasia!

John Fund finds an unusual omission from the DVD shelf in today's Political Diary.

Did Sandy Berger Steal this DVD?

As the sixth anniversary of 9/11 looms, it's beyond curious that last year's five-hour ABC miniseries "The Path to 9/11," which drew more than 28 million viewers, hasn't been released on DVD.

Normally, repackaging the film for the home video market would be a no-brainer. After all, it recently received seven Emmy nominations. But Cyrus Nowrasteh, who wrote the screenplay, is convinced that Hollywood suits are keeping the film under wraps for political reasons -- namely to protect Bill Clinton's presidential legacy and, by extension, the candidacy of Hillary Clinton. Mr. Nowrasteh told the Los Angeles Times he was bluntly informed by a top executive at ABC Studios: "If Hillary weren't running for president, this wouldn't be a problem."

Mr. Nowrasteh says everyone should be concerned if that's the case. "This is a bad precedent, a dangerous precedent, to allow a movie to be buried," he says. "I think this town needs to stand up."

Certainly, Clinton loyalists put enormous pressure on ABC to drop the film last year, which ultimately led most advertisers to avoid supporting the project. Some Democrats saw the film as a biased effort to pin blame for not stopping Osama bin Laden on the Clinton administration, including a memorable scene in which then-National Security Adviser Sandy Berger hesitates to order a strike against bin Laden. Mr. Berger was later convicted of removing original documents relating to anti-terrorist efforts -- for which there may not have been copies -- from the National Archives when the official 9/11 Commission was investigating the history of U.S. policy.

Mr. Clinton himself also got into the act indirectly, engaging in a finger-wagging tirade against Fox News' Chris Wallace shortly after "The Path to 9/11" aired. The former president accused the mild-mannered Mr. Wallace of performing a "conservative hit job" on him by asking about his administration's failed efforts to kill or capture bin Laden.

For its part, all ABC will say is that it "has no release date at this time" for Mr. Nowrasteh's movie. Meanwhile, almost every anti-Bush movie made in the last few years, including Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11," is readily available for rental or purchase on DVD.

War on Terror Posted by John Kranz at 1:09 PM

On Labor Day

Josh Hendrickson, known 'round these parts as The Everyday Economist, has an essay on TCS today about a topic near to my heart. He suggests that we celebrate "Division of Labor Day" and celebrate the wealth generation from comparative advantage:

Without the farmer, the plumber, the potter, or any others involved in the production, I would not have been able to enjoy my breakfast with the same satisfaction. In fact, without the existence of free exchange, the division of labor, and specialization I would not be able to enjoy a fraction of my prosperity - and it's only breakfast. Thus, just as with the Miles Davis album, the division of labor and the emergence of specialization allow me to experience prosperity I could not create myself in ten lifetimes.

I did not fly the flag Monday. I enjoyed the day off, but I cannot celebrate collectivism over individualism. I suppose that organization and collective bargaining can be a legitimate part of market economics, but I can not and will not celebrate the likes of AFT, NEA and AFSCME and others who push not so much for workers' rights but for further collectivism. Bah.

Read EE's piece in full -- it's far less of a rant than my review of it.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:52 AM

September 4, 2007

Neighborhood Watch Program

Baghdad. Kimberly Kagen has a superb guest editorial in the Wall Street Journal Today (paid link) titled The Tide is Turning in Iraq

Skillful combat -- and skillful negotiation -- have transformed the area formerly known as "the triangle of death" into a region of dawning, if precarious, stability. As Coalition forces consolidate their gains in these areas, they are also striking Shiite militia sanctuaries east of Baghdad and further south and east along the Tigris River valley. Gen. Odierno and his division commanders cleared territory gradually throughout Phantom Thunder and Phantom Strike, so that they could hold it after clearing operations.

The tribal movement begun in Anbar has spread throughout central Iraq, as thousands of Sunnis have either volunteered to join the Iraqi Security Forces or formed local defense groups under Iraqi government and Coalition auspices. These "concerned citizens" groups springing up throughout central Iraq have not been previously observed on this scale in the country. They permit U.S. and Iraqi forces to hold territory they have cleared more effectively. The volunteers who make up these groups, recruited and deployed in their own neighborhoods, have incentives to protect their families and communities. They are not independent militias, however. They are partnered with Iraqi Security Forces and Coalition forces.

The Baqubah Guardians, one such group, recently helped the Iraqi police in that city fight off al Qaeda insurgents until Coalition helicopters arrived. The Taji Neighborhood Watch association searched hundreds of homes for weapons caches. Iraq has hitherto lacked a local policing initiative, relying instead on national and regional models. The concerned-citizen groups are filling this gap while the U.S. and the Iraqi governments work to expand and improve the Iraqi Security Forces that many of these volunteers hope to join.

The President's surprise visit to Anbar was a shrewd move to show the gains that have been made. His political foes can hope for failure and pray for spectacular carnage in the next few weeks. I think most Americans are beginning to see some gains, no matter what Katie Couric thinks.

Freedom on the March Posted by John Kranz at 10:40 AM

September 3, 2007

New Smith & Engels

As they say: heh.

Posted by John Kranz at 7:16 PM

Road to Serfdom

I knew it was coming. But I was still furious when I got the notice. The city of Lafayette, Colorado looks at the history of the 20th Century, reads their Hayek (kidding!), and decides that the wave of the future is to have government take over private business.

This new service affects all residential units, single-family or multi-family in buildings of seven units or less, unless the residence is already covered by an existing HOA contract. If your home meets these qualifications, participation in our trash collection and recycling program is mandatory.

(Emphasis in original.)

For many years, I have received good service from a competitor, Town and Country, which was bought out by Waste Connections, Inc. A competitor of theirs, Western Disposal, has won a city contract, and I will now be charged for trash and recycling by the city. Compliance is mandatory. Resistance is futile.

I need to bleg here. I am extremely upset, Should I run for city council? Organize a Lafayette Freedom Coalition to raise money and promote freedom? My MS makes me fatigue easily and I would find serving and running a hardship. Perhaps it is the best thing I could do for the cause of freedom. I am open to advice by comments or email. Thanks.

From behind the Tofu Curtain, I remain, your dedicated servant, jk.

Posted by John Kranz at 6:18 PM | What do you think? [4]
But Terri thinks:

Sheesh!! I'd be ticked too. (Longmont has always had city trash collection since I've been here but it isn't mandatory.)

Instead of running a campaign, can you create an HOA who's sole purpose is to pick their own trash collector? (I know it's not the same, but it might give some satisfaction without the exhaustion.)

Posted by: Terri at September 4, 2007 8:37 AM
But jk thinks:

Thanks, Terri. Not a bad idea, I will ask what the rules are for that at the big meeting on Thursday. Thanks, too, to a thoughtful emailer who shares his experiences. Submission to government coercion is looking better all the time.

Posted by: jk at September 4, 2007 10:35 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Perhaps you should perform an experiment to see what happens if you simply refuse to pay the bill.

You may find it difficult to get Waste Connections to continue their service at your address, but you may at least ask them to. If they decline, get it in writing so you have justification for allowing waste to accumulate in your yard.

When the Guinness cans hit the fan, make sure the papers send photographers when the gestapo comes.

Posted by: johngalt at September 4, 2007 4:10 PM
But jk thinks:

I had thought of sticking with Waste Solutions as a silent -- what's the line from "Animal House?" This calls for a pointless -- gesture.

The trash will come on the water/sewer bill and their first recourse will be to cut off the water. Far less media friendly.

Posted by: jk at September 4, 2007 5:21 PM

Free to Choose?

Jon Henke asks:

Which one of John Edwards' two Americas gets a freedom of choice and privacy that extends beyond the uterus?

2008 Race Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 10:00 AM | What do you think? [2]
But jk thinks:

Merciful Zeus! You have to click all the way through to the story. I loved this:

"The whole idea is a continuum of care, basically from birth to death," he said.

One more time, Senator: what is it that government does so well that you want them to take over health care -- including dental and vision?

You'll presumably have to floss and we'll need an enforcement mechanism. Bathroom cameras?

Posted by: jk at September 3, 2007 10:39 AM
But Harrison Bergeron thinks:

jk, as we have learned from the Sen. Craig situation, the police are already in the bathroom. Their duties will simply be expanded under the Edwards administration.

Posted by: Harrison Bergeron at September 3, 2007 10:47 AM

September 2, 2007

Later, Tony!

Can we take up a collection and give this guy a million dollars to stick around through the end of the term?

Duane R. Patterson, on Hugh Hewitt’s blog, shares this:

It's a little long and will cause severe eye-rolling among some ThreeSourcers. I can find places to separate from the President on polity or ideas, but I take Snow's assessment at face value.

Second Bush Administration Posted by John Kranz at 6:52 PM

September 1, 2007

The JK Story is Still Unfunded

We’re all waiting with bated breath to see Brad Pitt (John Galt) and Angelina Jolie (Dagny Taggart) in "Atlas Shrugged."

This month's Reason Magazine tells that New York University film school graduate Chandler Tuttle will start filming "Harrison Bergeron" in the fall. No word on which dashing Hollywood leading man will play the lead, but The Moving Picture Institute is involved. Reason calls them "the AV department for the vast libertarian conspiracy." The Institute is profiled in an interview with its Executive Director Bob Pfaltzgraff.

Attention Hollywood: The jk and AlexC stories are still available. Have your people call our people...

Posted by John Kranz at 5:36 PM | What do you think? [2]
But Harrison Bergeron thinks:

Won't I be able to play myself?

Posted by: Harrison Bergeron at September 2, 2007 1:39 PM
But jk thinks:

I always pictured Kevin Kline as jk...

Posted by: jk at September 2, 2007 6:36 PM

Don't click this. Comments (2)