June 30, 2008
Headline of the Day
Some guy named AlexC at PA Water Cooler:
Not the Wesley Clark I Knew
I missed the Friday Calf blogging at I Think ^(Link) Therefore I Err, and suggested a telethon to get Terri's camera repaired. Now, it's back with video!
Ignorant Redneck Bigot Bastards for McCain
Pardon me if I am being redundant. This article in today's Washington Post describes -- in excruciating detail -- the McCain voter.
But with their pride came a nasty undercurrent, one that Obama's candidacy has exacerbated: On College Street, nobody wanted anything to change. As the years passed, Peterman and his neighbors approached one another to share in their skepticism about the unknown. What was the story behind the handful of African Americans who had moved into a town that is 93 percent white? Why were Japanese businessmen coming in to run the local manufacturing plants? Who in the world was this Obama character, running for president with that funny-sounding last name?
This article should be clarifying for today's Paulene Kaels: who are these mysterious "others" who plan to vote for Senator McCain?
You get the idea (good thing I was around to translate the subtlety for you -- I doubt most ThreeSourcers would have picked up on it).
Really, you can't really blame them, the Cooper Tire plant closed and they're a little bitter...
June 29, 2008
Quote of the Day
My response to those who say that increased drilling is pointless because it won't yield immediate results -- like Arnold Schwarzenegger --is why worry about the greenhouse effect, then? Nothing we do will cool the planet immediately. Yet we're told immediate action there is vital. In fact, we're told that by none other than Arnold Schwarzenegger, in the very same speech. -- Instapundit, Glenn ReynoldsI wonder if these people do laundry ("won't have clean clothes for hours!") or repair their homes ("guy said he couldn't come out to fix the roof 'till Tuesday -- I told him to $%&* off!")? Never have people been so proud to lack any forward thinking.
The Obama Mind Trick
Suddenly, it all makes sense.
(tip to Blonde Sagacity)
New Thinking on Foreign Policy
Ralph Peters has an awesome, awesome column in the NY Post today. It is adorned with the most unflattering of Madeline Albright ever -- be careful before you click. Peters debunks six "whoppers" about the war on terror "We're not safer. Al-Qaeda is stronger. Ya dda yad da." But I have to give quote of the day honors for #6: "As president, Barack Obama would bring positive change to our foreign policy - and John McCain's too old to get it. "
Hmm: Take a gander at Obama's senior foreign-policy advisers: Madeleine Albright (71), Warren Christopher (82), Anthony Lake (69), Lee Hamilton (77), Richard Clarke (57) . . .
A Market Price for Crude Oil
Yves Smith asks in Slate Does Anybody Know How Much Oil There is in the World? The answer appears to be mostly "no" with various technological attempts to measure reserves throughout the world sometimes receiving the climate change slur "junk science." But there is evidence that despite International Energy Agency foreshadowing of current estimates being exaggerated, there is much more oil underground than anyone has previously been led to believe.
Indeed, some old oil hands argue that the entire method for computing reserves is fundamentally flawed. Richard Pike, president of the Royal Society of Chemistry, who spent 25 years in the petrochemical industry, contends in an article in the Petroleum Review that published estimates are less than 50 percent of their actual level. As the Independent summarized his argument:Companies add the estimated capacity of oil fields in a simple arithmetic manner to get proven oil reserves. … However, mathematically it is more accurate to add the proven oil capacity of individual fields in a probabilistic manner based on the bell-shaped statistical curve used to estimate the proven, probable and possible reserves of each field. This way, the final capacity is typically more than twice that of simple, arithmetic addition.
So what is the actual market-based price that oil would gravitate toward without all the meddling and misinformation on the part of so many disparate interests?
Japan's oil minister said, based on fundamentals, the price of crude should be $60 a barrel, not the $130 to $140 we see today. During congressional testimony, five oil-industry CEOs each gave estimates of where oil "ought" to be, with results ranging from $35 to $65 a barrel to $90. Even the implacable Saudis are reportedly about to increase production by half a million barrels a day, a sign that they are concerned that the current price is too high. Yet BP's chief recently said current price levels are warranted, and the oil bulls at Goldman forecast a "super spike" to $150 to $200 a barrel.
That last estimate is not really a "market price" figure. It is a speculator's prediction which takes into account all of that meddling and misinformation that won't be going away anytime soon. But what if it did? That's the question the others were answering. Their figures ranged from $35 to $65, or possibly as high as $90 per barrel. This is roughly half of the current "oil shock" price. Yet it's reasonable to expect such prices to return before long.
In the much more valuable dollar of 1979, premium gas cost about $1.20 per gallon in 1980 and, interestingly, is about the same price today (although it appears to be trending above that ceiling). But for nearly 20 years between the two "oil shock" periods noted the price was roughly half that - 60 cents per gallon in constant dollars.
These various data points give lie to the claim that oil prices are at record highs because the world is "running out" of oil. Instead they show that petroleum based motor fuels have been and continue to be the best bargain since the Louisana Purchase - excluding the backdrop of currency inflation, and absent the efforts of those who wish oil to cost more than their own "pet alternative fuel" preference.
Hat Tips: Slate article - The American Magazine; Fuel graph - johngalt's dad.
Correction: I had previously titled the graph "world oil prices" since corrected to "U.S. gasoline prices."
June 28, 2008
The Short-Krugman ETF
ThreeSources friend Josh Hendrickson (The Everyday Economist) is quoted on Don Luskin's site:
Paul Krugman has placed himself front and center in the debate as to whether or not oil prices are out of line with fundamentals (he believes the prices do reflect fundamentals). Isn't it therefore time to declare oil prices to be the latest bubble?
Heh. I'm thinking there is a market for an index fund that takes a contrary position to whatever Krugman says. Past performance is not an indicator and all that, but I'm thinking you might have done well in that fund over the last several years...
June 27, 2008
The Constitution is a Hoax!
My personal favorite treatment of the illogic of the minority in D.C. v Heller comes from WSJ's James Taranto in yesterday's Best of the Web.
"The [Supreme] Court would have us believe that over 200 years ago, the Framers made a choice to limit the tools available to elected officials wishing to regulate civilian uses of weapons," Justice John Paul Stevens writes in a brave dissent in District of Columbia v. Heller, the just-decided case striking down the federal district's near-total ban on firearms.
Reuters has their number. "Although an individual now has a constitutional right to own guns, that new right is not unlimited, wrote [Justice Antonin] Scalia, a hunter," the news service reports today. Justice Stevens is 88, and he is generally considered old. If this right really dated back 217 years, Reuters could not describe it as new.
Scalia engages in a lot of fancy-pants wordplay in order to conceal his hoax. For example:
In any event, the meaning of "bear arms" that petitioners and Justice Stevens propose is not even the (sometimes) idiomatic meaning. Rather, they manufacture a hybrid definition, whereby "bear arms" connotes the actual carrying of arms (and therefore is not really an idiom) but only in the service of an organized militia. No dictionary has ever adopted that definition, and we have been apprised of no source that indicates that it carried that meaning at the time of the founding. But it is easy to see why petitioners and the dissent are driven to the hybrid definition. Giving "bear Arms" its idiomatic meaning would cause the protected right to consist of the right to be a soldier or to wage war--an absurdity that no commentator has ever endorsed. . . . Worse still, the phrase "keep and bear Arms" would be incoherent. The word "Arms" would have two different meanings at once: "weapons" (as the object of "keep") and (as the object of "bear") one-half of an idiom. It would be rather like saying "He filled and kicked the bucket" to mean "He filled the bucket and died." Grotesque.
Yet constructions like this allow us to point out that Justice Scalia created out of whole cloth a new constitutional and pandered to the extreme right. You can see why they make him uncomfortable.
Scalia also faulted Justice Stephen Breyer for taking account of the practical implications of this so-called constitutional right:
He criticizes us for declining to establish a level of scrutiny for evaluating Second Amendment restrictions. He proposes, explicitly at least, none of the traditionally expressed levels (strict scrutiny, intermediate scrutiny, rational basis), but rather a judge-empowering "interest-balancing inquiry" that "asks whether the statute burdens a protected interest in a way or to an extent that is out of proportion to the statute's salutary effects upon other important governmental interests." . . .. After an exhaustive discussion of the arguments for and against gun control, Justice Breyer arrives at his interest-balanced answer: because handgun violence is a problem, because the law is limited to an urban area, and because there were somewhat similar restrictions in the founding period (a false proposition that we have already discussed), the interest-balancing inquiry results in the constitutionality of the handgun ban. QED.
Here is what Breyer had to say in his dissent:
The argument about method, however, is by far the less important argument surrounding today's decision. Far more important are the unfortunate consequences that today's decision is likely to spawn. Not least of these, as I have said, is the fact that the decision threatens to throw into doubt the constitutionality of gun laws throughout the United States. I can find no sound legal basis for launching the courts on so formidable and potentially dangerous a mission. In my view, there simply is no untouchable constitutional right guaranteed by the Second Amendment to keep loaded handguns in the house in crime-ridden urban areas.
Surely everyone can agree that as a practical matter, Breyer has the better of the argument. After all, Heller was decided only a few hours ago, and already the District of Columbia has declared a "crime emergency."
Somewhat Sanguine on 2nd Amendment
The WSJ Ed Page channels blog brother JohnGalt today. The lead editorial on Heller highlights that the decision was 5-4, and the editorial pummels the (il)logic of the minority.
Which makes it all the more troubling that no less than four Justices were willing to explain this right away. These are the same four liberal Justices who routinely invoke the "right to privacy" – which is nowhere in the text of the Constitution – as a justification for asserting various social rights. Yet in his dissent, Justice John Paul Stevens argues that a right to bear arms that is plainly in the text adheres to an individual only if he is sanctioned by government.
Yeah, President Obama may appoint three justices, and it is unlikely he'll extend his candidate search to the NRA legal team.
But as a guy who has lost a lot of 5-4 decisions of late, I invite my friends to enjoy a few days of celebration. A 5-4 decision is still a decision, it is still precedent. Overturning it will require the composition of the court changing and a new case getting Certiorari. The current rate of Second Amendment cases is one every 217 years.
The Democrats have seen electoral success with pro-gun (and silently anti-gun) candidates. Most are glad that Heller takes the issue off the table this season and I don't know that many Democrats will want to bring it back.
I'd have loved a 7-2 (like Dred Scott v Sandford) that eviscerated gun laws. But it looks to these untrained legal eyes that we got a good precedent that asserted an individual right to bear arms. Don't cancel your NRA membership or vote Democratic or anything stupid, kids -- but don't search for the dark cloud.
When you're depressed about the US Congress, you are acting rationally.
It may or may not cheer you up to realize how bad government is everywhere. Natalie Solent at Samizdata brings us this gem: Members of The European Parliament show up Friday at seven in the morning to sign in (thus ensuring they get all pay and allowances for the day's work). Yet all of them seem to have suitcases and none really plan on staying for a lot of EU legislative arbeit.
June 26, 2008
Hundred Freakin' Years in Iraq
I saw a bumper sticker today: "100 Years in Iraq? No Way, McCain!"
If these people want to make their whole campaign revolve around an out of context quote, bring it on. Senator McCain is right; Senator Obama is wrong.
JohnGalt brings us an amusing parody of the MoveOn "Alex" Ad ("No Senator, my smoochie woomkins is never ever going to think for himself!"). In My wallet -- you can't have it!
Here's another great response I saw today:
jk Defends Senator Obama
Swiftboating. The term deserves its place in the language and history, but not as Senator John Kerry and the Democratic Party define it. In their version, to swifboat is to propagate lies about a candidate in such volume that they cannot be rebutted (McCain's "100 years in Iraq" or "Third Bush Term" come to mind but I haven't time to digress).
I would define switboating as "taking legitimate criticism one step too far, thereby diminishing its efficacy." John O'Neill and The Swiftboaters had several substantive and legitimate points to raise in criticism of Senator Kerry and his use of his war record in politics. T. Boone Pickens has still not paid his $1 million bounty for positive disproof.
Yet I think most of us agree that they went a little too far, denigrating his service, and levying accusations that were impossible to prove or disprove. In the end, these weakened their arguments, calling all of them into question.
I would also accuse Special Prosecutor Ken Starr of this in the Clinton Impeachment. Judge Starr thought the laundry list of infractions in the footnotes would bolster his case with their sheer volume. Yet opponents pointed to them to portray his entire case as frivolous and unsubstantial.
Today, Gateway Pundit posts, and Instapundit links, to yet another "Another One Under the Bus" for Senator Obama.
Mike Klonsky, the Maoist Hardliner, Obama supporter and former best friend of the Weatherman terrorist group founders William Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn, received a $175,000 grant from the William Ayers/Barack Obama-led Annenberg Challenge to run the Small Schools Workshop.
Klonsky had a blog that has been "airbrushed" off the Obama site. Yes, Klonsky is a piece of work, yes, it was likely a mistake to let him blog on the official site.
Yet GP fails to prove that Klonsky was ever in the Obama circle. He received a grant from Ayers and Obama's Annenberg Challenge "to run the Small Schools Workshop." A little embarrassing, but this is no Reverend Wright, Professor Goolsbee, or even racist granny. This is more like Rev. Hagee and Senator McCain. Because a whackjob may support a candidate does not make said candidate responsible. Having a blog at the hip, Web 2.0 Obama campaign is not really an official designation.
Let's not diminish the serious and serial examples of bad judgment and under-the-busism that Senator Obama has displayed by reaching too far.
Pigou Club, Vol XCVI
Once again, it's me versus Harvard Economics Professer N. Gregory Mankiw. With all due respect -- and I have the greatest repect for Mankiw -- I happen to be right. Here's the Pigou Club reading that he approvingly links to today:
Yes. Although raising taxes is probably as politically incorrect as can be, it is probably up to our generation (Sorry, Greatest) to clean up the Boomers' national debt extravaganza. And when the time comes to balance the budget, we should aim to tax the bad things (noise, gasoline, trash, violent crime, evil foreign dictators) and untax the good things (homegrown profits, employment, innovation). Other ideas?
I know there's plenty of tongue in cheek going on here, but this is truly the reductio ad absurdum that disproves the Pigou Club. The Government is put in charge of deciding what is good and what is bad. I do not trust them that far.
Good to have this headline at the top of my Yahoo portal page this morning:
June 25, 2008
Mad As Hell
Drop what you're doing and click over to Eidelblog. ThreeSources friend Perry Eidlebus takes on these two adorable little girls:
Welcome to the real world, girls. Welcome to the lower quality of life that's inevitable when people let themselves be ruled by environmentalists. Those are the people you should be blaming, girls, not oil companies! Oil companies would love nothing better than to supply us with more oil and gas, and at lower prices: when you do the math, lower prices mean higher sales, so they earn more profit while we consumers still benefit from cheap, plentiful carbon fuels.
He even has an adorable picture of a polar bear enjoying a tasty snack. Awesome.
"I think it's great," said Hamid Tayeb, who was walking past on his lunch break. "It's unfortunate that kids are doing it before we do."
June 24, 2008
He's a Uniter!
Secretary Robert Reich and the WSJ Ed Page's Stephen Moore form the "Dynamic Duo" on Kudlow & Company. The two can always be counted on to take opposite sides of an issue. CNBC loves controversy and frequently superimposes boxing glove animations over arguing panel members.
Hearts sank across the control room yesterday as Reich, Moore, and host Larry Kudlow all reached agreement. Yes, it seems that Senator McCain's $300 Million prize for developing a car battery is considered universally stupid across the political spectrum. Here's the clip, I call it Kudlow Kumbaya:
UPDATE II: It's a battle of the Titan bloggers! Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit (3.0 x 108 daily readers) vs. jk of ThreeSources (3.0 daily readers)!
I still don't know the proper etiquette for what AlexC calls "link-whoring," but I sent this to Reynolds as a counterpoint to a Jerry Pournelle piece he linked that was in favor of the prize. I know Reynolds respects Kudlow, and I thought it gave an important and different take.
I'm not surprised to get ignored by Reynolds. He gets a ton of these and it's his site to edit as he pleases. But he revised the Pournelle post and updated it with three additional links that support the prize idea.
I'm thinking I will email him again and say "DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM????"
George Carlin at His Best
George Carlin, comic genius, has passed away. Here is my favorite bit:
June 23, 2008
jk Was Wrong!
I suggested, on January 5, 2007 that a Sirius -XM Merger was a good idea, but that "I cannot imagine getting approval for such a merger in the 110th. Democratic committee chairs and TR Republicans are not going to allow a monopoly in Satellite Radio. Even though, as usual, the FTC is not capable of seeing whom a firm or technology actually competes against."
Six weeks later, I said that I was not backing off but that "Against prescience points, however, I am hoping for the deal to succeed. I don't think either firm is strong enough to compete and innovate by itself. A strong satellite provider could bring new offerings to the market. (Maybe I'll even get my beloved Luna back.)"
Well, I was wrong. The 110th will approve the merger. But Don Luskin enumerates the costs of having the government "allow" something it has no moral or Constitutional right to preclude:
...* set aside 4 percent of their spectrum capacity (what now amounts to 12 channels) for non-commercial educational programming;
It’s a free country so we can’t complain that activist groups such as Public Knowledge agitate for the special interests of the left, but we ought to bitch and moan that they succeed at their game of policy piracy. Not many know that groups like this get funded by corporations who want to use them as a weapon, or, worse yet, as a form of protection money.
This is the Bush FCC. While it has some well documented intransigents on it, hands up those who believe that President Obama or McCain will staff it more liberty-friendly or business-friendly members.
Quote of the Day
"I have a Smith & Wesson .40-caliber," Carrington told reporters on Sunday, "(with a) silver top and black body." -- Miss Tennessee, Ellen CarringtonY'know, if they were add to a tight grouping competition at 100 yards in evening wear, I might tune in.
Hat-tip: Instapundit (like the geography didn't give it away)
Here's a platform for Senator McCain that will bring conservatives into the fold and help draw bold distinctions for the rest of the electorate:
"I, Senator John McCain vow to nominate Fred Thompson to the first opening on the Supreme Court in my tenure."
Thompson then campaigns with McCain, pointing out the differences between Senators McCain and Obama on Constitutional issues, which I believe favor McCain. The campaign trail becomes filled with gems like these:
Unfortunately it is not uncommon for a majority of the Supreme Court to make new law based not upon precedent but upon policy preferences of members of the Court. But this time it’s part of a much bigger picture. It is about power, and who gets to exercise it in an area that is vital to the security of this nation. This time it’s not only wrong, it’s dangerous.
Brian Carney takes a well deserved whack at Vice President Gore in today's Political Diary:
In Hock To Big Corn
The NYTimes today offers a non-fawning look at Senator Obama's ties to and support of the Ethanol industry. In a by-lined piece, Larry Richter sees a hint of pandering behind his surprise ascent in Iowa last year.
Mr. Obama is running as a reformer who is seeking to reduce the influence of special interests. But like any other politician, he has powerful constituencies that help shape his views. And when it comes to domestic ethanol, almost all of which is made from corn, he also has advisers and prominent supporters with close ties to the industry at a time when energy policy is a point of sharp contrast between the parties and their presidential candidates.
With all respect, Senator, ethanol subsidies make it more difficult for us to shape a domestic policy that is intelligent and creates energy for the long term.
June 21, 2008
I Want a Seal, Too!
UPDATE: One of Don Luskin's emailers corrects the latin ("How Many Romans???") in Senator Obama's seal -- I'm no scholar but I think mine is okay.
UPDATE II: Obama Campaign Drops Faux Presidential Seal -- The Possum Sleeps Tonight. The Junior Senator may cut and run at the first sign of difficulty but I have several minutes invested in my seal. And. let's just say "from my cold, dead hands..."
UPDATE III: Professor Reynolds quotes an emailer who says the Latin phrase "vero possumus" was fine.
I was tempted to link to Elizabeth Scalia's piece on critical thinking yesterday and embellish it with one of my 100 word comments.
I am quite glad I did not.
Roger Kimball does extremely heavy lifting on that topic and I am glad that his response will never be compared to mine. I invite readers to grab a cup of coffee and settle in; his post is long enough to be published as a magazine cover story.
He digresses from "Critical Thinking" to cover essential differences in progressive vs. conservative thought in the two imperfect vessels of Kant and Bismarck.
An inventory of the fearsome social, political, and moral innovations made in this past century alone should have made every thinking person wary of unchaperoned innovation.
The piece is too far reaching to be successfully excerpted. Read the whole thing. Did Kimball really compose this in a single day? It is a response to an article published yesterday. I consider myself a fast (as opposed to gifted) writer. This would have taken me a year. With a full time research assistant. And two editors.
Alternate Saturday Reading
If Roger Kimball's 427,000 word philosophical essay (linked above) seems a little too much, here's an email joke from my brother:
Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs
June 20, 2008
Gotta Have This
Internet Connected Programmable Thermostat. It's free for TXU customers. I love the great State of Texas, but have just bought new property in Colorado and don't think I'll move soon. But I will buy one of these sometime. I can see this saving a lot of money.
Tax Cuts For The Rich!
Maybe President Bush really is a moron -- his signature Taxcutsfortherich® have been a complete failure.
Investors' Business Daily
Hat-tip: Professor Mankiw
Pictures From Ramadi
A superb post about Ramadi reconstruction, starting with a traffic jam on Route Michigan. "Last year it was empty except for US soldiers trading shots with Al Qaeda."
And don't miss this set of pictures (.pdf file). Nine pictures of hope and change that the defeat-at-all-costs crowd is willing to give away,
June 19, 2008
President Reagan on Energy
A nice clip Larry Kudlow ran of his old boss:
Third Clinton Term
"Third Clinton Term" lacks pejorative power -- it is exactly what my Democrat friends lust for, and wouldn't be a hard sell to moderates.
Glenn Reynolds linked to a jammies wearing fool post about the number of Clinton retreads coming into the Obama advisory camp.
And also to this:
In an interview with Fortune to be featured in the magazine's upcoming issue, the presumptive Democratic nominee backed off his harshest attacks on the free trade agreement and indicated he didn't want to unilaterally reopen negotiations on NAFTA.
My highest hope for Obama was that he might be another President Clinton, governing from the center, caring more about power and likeability rather than pursing any beliefs or philosophy.
If he can pick up Professor Goolsbee from under the bus that quickly on this, this man has no beliefs. That would normally be an insult, but Senator Obama's purported beliefs were sooooo bad, I'll take lust for power as a plus.
Dr. Arthur Laffer
Quoted in his commencement address to Mercer University:
Pursuing your dream of prospering will benefit everyone . . . When I graduated from Yale University, we had a serious commencement speaker not like the one you are stuck with today. The commencement speaker was President John F. Kennedy. And the point I'm making today is the same point he made all those years ago. He said, "No American is ever made better off by pulling a fellow American down, and all of us are made better off whenever any one of us is made better off." He concluded by using the analogy that "a rising tide raises all boats."
Awesome. Hat-tip: Don Luskin
Rove on Schumpeter
I wish Karl Rove were still in his hideaway, pulling strings, and running the world. Is it just me, or was life better then?
In his WSJ column today, he takes a major whack at Senator Obama for illiterate economic nonsense, but he lets Senator McCain have it as well for saying "I'm very angry, frankly, at the oil companies not only because of the obscene profits they've made, but their failure to invest in alternate energy." Rove provides a little mini-lesson in Schumpeterian Creative Destruction:
Mr. McCain's angry statement shows a lack of understanding of the insights of Joseph Schumpeter, the 20th century economist who explained that capitalism is inherently unstable because a "perennial gale of creative destruction" is brought on by entrepreneurs who create new goods, markets and processes. The entrepreneur is "the pivot on which everything turns," Schumpeter argued, and "proceeds by competitively destroying old businesses."
June 18, 2008
Chicks Love a Guy in Uniform
On Baggage Fees
One thing seems hard-wired into people's brains: once someone has been given something for free, he or she will refuse to pay for it ever again. On what planet is it unreasonable for airlines to charge for luggage? President Carter may have deregulated the airlines, but some of the expectations from the old times live on.
I have sat still while people complain. But I must link to two great articles today. First, ThreeSources friend Perry Eidlebus suggests that George Mason University Professor Mark Katz contacts his school's storied economics department for a little refresher course. In a CSMonitor,com piece, Katz warns "Flying with luggage this summer? It's going to cost you."
Perry references a post he wrote before:
Because I am a rational person who understands that I'm not being "forced," my "hide" doesn't "chap" at all at what many airlines are doing. American Airlines will soon start charging economy passengers $15 for the first checked bag, unless you bought the full-price fare, but nobody's being forced into it. What it really is is a $15 across-the-board increase for economy passengers who buy discounted tickets, but with a $15 discount for bringing only carry-on baggage. Take the difference between 50 and 15 pounds, multiply it by a few hundred people, and that saves fuel.
Also well said is a WSJ Editorial from Holman Jenkins, Jr.
Smart businesses ask themselves how they can make themselves more popular with customers by "unbundling" the goods or services they provide. Burger joints charge extra for cheese, but not usually for lettuce and tomato. Yet fairness is surely served by letting haters of lettuce and tomato escape the burden of subsidizing those who love them?
Jenkins says that not even unbundling will help the carriers unless the economics of fuel or fares change pretty drastically -- ending his piece:
Without a decline in fuel prices, massive airline bankruptcies are almost certainly coming. About the only suspense is who will be in the White House when they hit.
I'm reminded of CNBC madman-at-large Jim Cramer. Cramer has been up and down on every sector and every individual stock in the Wilshire 5000, but he has consistently warned investors to avoid the airlines. Cramer says the model is broken and one just cannot make money in that industry. Individual carriers will see some profits and growth for a while, but he is right than none has built a lasting business model (though I'm thinking a worldwide RyanAir might make it...)
Tough business. Makes jazz guitar look pretty good.
jk In a Barong Tagalog
I have not played a gig in over a year. The MS has robbed me of some chops and the whole deal is pretty difficult. The band's around if something comes up, but if you don't push, things rarely come up.
My cousin did ask if I would do a little solo stuff over dinner at his wedding reception. The romantic devil wanted to hear "Frim Fram Sauce." I was able to talk my brother-in-law into bringing this wonderful guitar that I had sold him, and another cousin was doing the dance/rock'n'roll segment, so I was able to use his amp (a really nice old Fender Twin).
Yet another brother-in-law is a superb video and still photographer and he just sent me this photo. Thought I'd share:
June 17, 2008
ThreeSourcers have had our best fights over Immigration, but I have a feeling we might all come together on Rep Wiener's special Visa for models.
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A New York congressman who has been romantically linked by tabloid newspapers to several high-profile, beautiful women, is one step closer to creating a special work permit for foreign fashion models.
For the record, it is not that hard to tell models and computer professionals apart. All the same, as the pro-Immigration guy around here, I'll take more fashion models however it works.
Obama the Uniter?
If Barack Obama is elected president, he will unite liberals and conservatives on one respect: both will agree that the result is an "obamanation."
Quote of the Day
Don Luskin on Kudlow last night: the panel is discussing Richard Fuld, the CEO of Lehman Bros.'s "taking responsibility" for losing $2.8 Billion. Gary Shilling suggests that he should work for $1/year. Forbes' Rich Karlgaard talks about Steve Jobs's working for $1.
Luskin suggests "I'll pay him Two Dollars a year NOT to work for Lehman!" (About 1:40 on the video)
June 16, 2008
Quote of the Day
Galley Slave Jonathan V. Last's Dept. of Inevitability:
This isn't meant to be flip but as a semi-serious question: If someone had asked you last Thursday [post is dated 6/09-2008] to rank the following three events in terms of increasing inevitability, how would you have put them?
You Can't Eat Your Way Out of Hunger
Donald Kochan at HughHewitt.com takes a fine and well deserved whack at a favorite Democratic talking point: "You can't drill your way out of this problem." He quotes Speaker Pelosi but anybody who saw a Democrat on a Sunday show heard this gem a time or two. Kochan offers a slightly different take:
Of course the only way to get more oil and thus decrease the price is to in fact drill. Oil is obtained only by drilling. The casual indifference to reality displayed by the Speaker mirrors the Democrats' indifference to the economic pain being inflicted by their steadfast refusal to allow America to tap its own reserves.
Then, Kochan says that the "Don't Drill Democrats" will pay in November. But they won't. Senator Dorgan (Communist - ND) was on FOX News Sunday and parried every question about this by saying "Even Senator McCain..." followed by a vote or speech that the GOP made about ANWR, outer continental shelf, whatever.
No. They won't pay. We will pay.
[UPDATE: the original post attributed this to Hugh Hewitt. It was Donald Kochan at Hewitt's site. ThreeSources regrets the error.]
Not the Only One Who Will Miss This Guy
I had wanted to link to this post last week. It seems we may be down to single digits (not percent -- actually fewer than ten people) who still have a fondness for our 43rd President. But I count myself in that number -- and Terri does too (at least last Thursday, they're dropping like flies...)
Natan Sharansky, the patron saint of this blog, puts the President's farewell European tour in historical perspective:
But while Mr. Bush is widely seen by Europeans as a religious cowboy with a Manichean view on the world, Europe's growing rift with America predates the current occupant of the White House. When a French foreign minister, Hubert Védrine, declared that his country "cannot accept a politically unipolar world, nor a culturally uniform world, nor the unilateralism of a single hyper power," President Clinton was in the seventh year of his presidency and Mr. Bush was still governor of Texas.
The title of the guest editorial is "Democracies Can't Compromise on Core Values." Whoever wins in November, I suspect 1600 Pennsylvania will be populated by someone far more likely than President Bush to compromise on core democratic values.
June 13, 2008
Don't think it is quite my style, but it looks like a lot of fun:
Irish Eyes are Smilin'
I'm in the habit of having a beer every day, either with my evening meal or after it. I've got a case of Guinness in the fridge that I use for satisfaction of that occasional craving for cream stout. Tonight, I'll lift not one but two pints of Ireland's proud heritage to the brave and fortunate souls of that fine emerald isle, for they were given a rare say in their own affairs and told the peddlers of 'world government' to piss off:
All 27 European member states have to ratify the treaty for it to go come into force next year. So far it has been approved by 18 members including Britain, but Ireland is the only country to put it to a public vote.
Why did he fail to "persuade his nation" to adopt the Treaty? Because the decision was put in the hands of its citizens instead of its government. Each group can be expected to act in its own self-interest and in Europe, as in America, those interests are more and more incongruous.
UPDATE: I beg a thousand pardons for the carelessness of this ill-traveled yank and respectfully replace "British Isle" with emerald isle. (We'll tell the bloody queen to piss off straight away too!)
I may or may not do a long and tedious blog post about my new TV acquisition and caching system. Short version: condo points wrong way for DishNetwork; bought low-end Comcast service and TiVo; bleeding edge new TiVo has severe problems, went three weeks without anything working; got replacement TiVo and life is great.
You'll have to read the untold misery between the lines, but now that it works I am pretty impressed. I can shop on Amazon Unboxed and buy content to be delivered straight to the TiVo. I can watch Onion and TPM videos, search the Internet for Photos -- it really does "converge" the Internet and TV.
What to buy? I will snag the HBO John Adams series, and probably shift my rentals from Redbox. Then I was thinking of checking out Battlestar Galactica. A lot of Buffy folk ended up watching it. And, like Buffy, a lot of people I respect watch or reference it.
So. Any ThreeSourcers watch BSG? Where would you advise somebody start? They offer the mini-series that is supposed to set up the new series. Or I could dive in at Season 1, episode 1. Or just start with the newest season. Or fuggetaboutthewholething. Recommendations?
June 12, 2008
Drill! Drill! Drill!
That's Daniel Henninger's title in today's Opinion Journal column explaining how America is the only nation on earth that refuses to harvest its petroleum reserves. More of this stuff in media on a daily basis is just what this country needs. A tidbit:
Nikita Khrushchev said, "We will bury you." Forget that. We'll do it ourselves.
I emailed Dan to say, "If we could just get this message onto American Idol where the majority of Americans might see it then Pelosi, Reed and Nelson (and McCain) would change their tunes in a heartbeat."
The closing line - hammering McCain - is priceless. I won't copy it here. You gotta go read it.
I usually avoid the fever swamps of any political bent, and rarely read public comments on big blogs. I'll read a few on Althouse and consider the Samizdata commentarial to be as good as the rest of the blogosphere put together. But I have little patience for mad ranters.
As you've surmised by now, I broke my rule today. James Pethokoukis quotes Donald Luskin about whether [L|l]ibertarians [sh|w]ould support Senator McCain in the general election. The short post is well worth a read. Then Jimmy-P asks "Well, that's [Luskin's] take. Any libertarians or Ron Paul voters out there who see things differently? Please comment below!"
Inviting the Paul crowd to comment on an open Internet site is like posting a "free wounded antelope here" sign in a game refuge. They're out and they're hungry:
Betty of WA uses all caps so you stupid people won't miss the point:
Your Incredibly Stupid Article
GOT IT BETTY!!! THANKS EVER SO MUCH FOR SHARING!!!
Jack D of CO uses both cases to tell us to "Get Educated!"
I think I can speak for most Paul supporters when I say that living in this country is like being on an ice burgh where the majority of the people want to ride it out while the Paul people are screaming from the roof tops to get off the burgh and into the boat but Americans think the boat is too nutty of an idea.
I did not know that "ice burghs" had rooftops...
Doug of OK thinks a vote for Bob Barr is wasted, so you're better off -- let Doug tell you:
Why vote for Barr? A third party candidate has never and will never be elected President of the United States. Don't waste your vote! Vote Ron Paul! If all the rp supporters and libertarians would vote for Paul, he might just win! Even though the electoral process of this country is corrupt, the sheer numbers of votes for Ron Paul could change everything. Please cast your vote for Ron Paul. He's the only one that can save our country.
June 11, 2008
McArdle on Investment Regulation
Megan McArdle catches the flaw in my idea that an Investment Bank could eschew the discount window to avoid the sort of regulation demanded by Obama-reinstated-economist Austan Goolsbee.
[Quoting Commenter Matt:] A bailout, when justified, isn't a favor you do for the bank. It's something you do because it's necessary to avoid larger negative consequences throughout the economy. So a promise to avoid the discount window would be valueless. But if the public is going to need to guarantee that financial institutions that grow "too big to fail" don't fail, then the public is going to need to regulate those institutions.
I fear she is right. Hey, it wasn't my idea, it was that Harvard Guy!
Then, the brilliant Obama backer provides the best objection to such regulation, what Tom Maguire calls the absence of omniscient, prescient regulators
When I try to get people to specify, beyond those four rather anodyne suggestions, we should do, there's a lot of hemming and hawing. Even the left-wing think tankers sort of look at their shoes and whisper "We need a better regulator". At which point even the left-wing journalists in the audience start asking "Where are we going to find regulators who understand this better than the guys at Goldman Sachs--and are willing to work for, say, a GS-13 salary?" The only people who confidently state that they have a surefire master plan to fix the problem are, not to put too fine a point on it, morons with very limited understanding of financial markets. These people generally start by talking about how the Bear Stearns crisis can really be traced back to the repeal of Glass-Steagall, then almost immediately reveal that they know nothing of Glass-Steagall other than its name.
And, yet, she will vote for...
Dems 4 McCain
The Straight Talk Express came to Philadelphia today, and I was there with my family (and neighbor).
After an introduction by Pa GOP Deputy Chair Renee Amoore and Cindy McCain, the Senator gave a brief stump speech, and then turned it over to a town hall style Q&A that he excels at.
Questions ranged from malaria treatments in Africa, to inner city crime to budget policy and unfunded mandates.
Rather notably, he was asked about opening ANWR. The questioner was roundly applauded at the mention of it... (myself included).... and continued through the rest of the question. He replied with his drilling in the Grand Canyon / Everglades comparison, but stressed that drilling off shore was not off-limits.
Picture below includes my neighbor (and fellow GOP committeeman) Matt Tucholke at top right.
Here's some video via FoxNews with me (pink shirt) and my family (curly blonde girl & wife in blue shirt) in the background.
'nother One Under The Bus!
Jim Johnson, the former head of Fannie Mae who was leading Barack Obama's vice presidential search when his favorable loans with Countrywide were revealed, is stepping down from the Obama campaign to avoid becoming a distraction.
Got any more of those cookies, Grandma?
Sept 11 Pictures
My brother sent me this MS Powerpoint presentation. I am not certain of its origins or authenticity. It contains many stark photos of Ground Zero that I had never seen before.
Kudlow: McCain is Supply-Sider
Larry Kudlow calls Senator John McCain The Taxpayer-Friendly Candidate
McCain has called himself a foot soldier in the Reagan revolution. His tax speech clinches it.
UPDATE: Don't Get Cocky, Kid! Kudlow: McCain Is Exactly Wrong on Energy
Sen. John McCain delivered a nearly pluperfect supply-side tax-cut plan yesterday, one that is worthy of conservative support, and frankly a real eye-opener showing just how good he can be. I wrote about it in my latest column.
I think we're going to have a lot of these 50/50 looks through November.
June 10, 2008
The Science is Settled.
Yes, indeed. As all of you know, Edwards is a respected
Goolsbee Crawls Out From Under The Bus!
Obama advisor Austan Goolsbee laid low after he was caught telling the truth to the Canadian government at an inconvenient time. (You can call it laid low, I call it Another One under the Bus!)
He is back, to call for more regulation of Investment Banking:
Austan Goolsbee, an economics professor at the University of Chicago and one of Sen. Obama's closest advisers on economic issues, said the senator believed strongly in enhanced regulation of any financial institution that has access to the Fed's discount window.
Hat-tip: N. Gregory Mankiw, who asks "Remember when the University of Chicago used to be the intellectual center of the deregulation movement? No more."
To be fair, if these firms are given access to the discount window, even I must admit a little regulation is in order. Here's hoping -- as does Mankiw -- that firms will be able to opt out of the government put and the concomitant regulation.
June 9, 2008
The Last Word on "The Speech"
Mark Steyn knocks it outta the park:
Speaking personally, I don’t want to remake America. I’m an immigrant and one reason I came here is because most of the rest of the western world remade itself along the lines Sen. Obama has in mind. This is pretty much the end of the line for me. If he remakes America, there’s nowhere for me to go — although presumably once he’s lowered sea levels around the planet there should be a few new atolls popping up here and there.
Must. All of it. Read.
Hat-tip: Don Luskin
Change We Can Believe In!
I read a little about this, but commenter Wayne has an awesome roundup:
I truly recommend reading Jonah Goldberg's book while the Obama campaign progresses; it's like reading a book and seeing the movie.
These folks cannot run a Taco Stand!
It is churlish of me to use a piece of good news and wise decision making to beat up the U.S. Senate. But that's what I'm here for.
WaPo: Senate Votes To Privatize Its Failing Restaurants
I don't mean to impugn the restaurant business, or taco stands (mmm Tacos...), they require hard work and good decision making. But this underscores the broken incentive structure of top-down, government, command-and-control. Who thinks they will do any better running health care? Energy?
No you can't, Senator Obama. The structure is wrong. Read a little Hayek.
UPDATE: Too late to change my headline? It seems Yum!® Corporation cannot run a taco stand either. I went to Taco Bell (mmm Tacos...) and they are no longer offering tomatoes, or the Fresca menu (which uses tomatoes) and my order of a Mango Frutista was declined because "the Mango machine is busted." It's like the Soviet Union in Lafayette!
June 8, 2008
FDR and the "Gold Clause"
I've read with interest upon these pages the vigorous debates between Perry and JK over the demise of the gold standard which once backed the US dollar. There are good points on both sides but neither has me fully convinced.
Consider the related issue of the "gold clause" once used in private contracts and also outlawed on FDR's watch. A fascinating essay on the history of these events was written for the Wall Street Journal by Amity Shales. Here is just a morsel:
The market rally in the spring of 1933 slowed as investors watched FDR fiddle with the dollar and commodities over the course of the fall. In 1934, FDR thought better of it all and fixed the dollar to gold again, albeit now at $35 dollars an ounce. But the abrogation of the gold clause suggested that Washington had no regard for property rights. The general uncertainty generated by government economic policies did not abate. Capital went on strike. The Great Depression endured to the end of the decade. The positive transparency that the Securities and Exchange Commission or the creation of deposit insurance brought to markets was offset by losses like that of the gold clause.
None of us should despair our inability to judge the rectitude of current monetary practices, however:
After a majority of the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the gold clause abrogation, Justice James McReynolds read the dissent. Today McReynolds is generally regarded as an irrelevant reactionary, a footnote himself. But his rueful words ring true for those trying to reckon the dollar's future. It was, he said, "impossible to estimate the result of what has been done."
To get the whole story you'll have to read it all, but it is brief and you'll be glad you did.
Hat tip: 'The American' magazine, again.
Get ready for the oil price drop
After crude oil jumped by $11/bbl in two days, Cato Institute's Alan Reynolds writes that the price hitting $200/bbl in the near future is "quite impossible."
Market analysts often claim oil prices are almost entirely determined by supply. Demand is said to be insensitive ("inelastic") to price. The standard example is that many Americans have to drive to work and most gas-guzzling SUVs will still be on the road even if the affluent few can trade theirs for a Prius. Whatever the price, we'll pay it.
Reynolds goes on to explain that industrial use of oil fuels is already declining in most sectors, one of which we witnessed last week as airlines parked planes, cancelled some routes and reduced employment. But even without a US recession, Reynolds says, oil prices will still fall with industrial declines elsewhere.
In the United States and Britain, industrial production is nearly flat - only 0.2 percent higher than it was a year ago. In many other countries, however, industrial production has dropped over the past 12 months. It's down by 0.7 percent in Japan, 1.1 percent in Austria, 2.5 percent in Italy and Denmark, 2.9 percent in Canada, 5.4 percent in Greece, 5.7 percent in Singapore and 13.3 percent in Spain.
My college physics professor took great joy in explaining that alarming trends, such as population growth, never continue at the same rate for a very long time. The meteoric rise in the cost of oil is yet another of those trends.
Hat tip: 'The American' magazine
Quote of the Day
I can think of no better reason to vote against Obama than the prospect of an administration where any criticism of the President is treated as racism. -- Glenn Reynolds
June 7, 2008
Why I can't vote Democrat
In the nation's most anticipated concession speech of the modern age, Hillary Clinton finally endorsed her opponent in the primary race. In doing so, she exposed exactly why Democrats are, as a group, the enemy of America's heritage of individualism and liberty:
"Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are rights that belong to each of us as individuals," she said. "But our lives, our freedom, our happiness, are best enjoyed, best protected, and best advanced when we do work together."
Whoa there, madam. Says who?
Certainly there are situations where we benefit from the assistance of others to safeguard our lives or defend our freedom. And happiness is always greater when shared with someone you love. But the work Miss Hillary wants to do in the cause of "advancing" our lives, our freedom, our happiness will, without exception, interfere with MY life, MY freedom and MY happiness.
"We all want an economy that sustains the American Dream, the opportunity to work hard and have that work rewarded, to save for college, a home and retirement, to afford that gas and those groceries and still have a little left over at the end of the month. An economy that lifts all of our people and ensures that our prosperity is broadly distributed and shared."
Let's dwell for a moment... Ensures that OUR prosperity is ... broadly distributed... and ... shared. Hmmm, sounds vaguely familar.
But the obvious question is, if prosperity is shared then how is hard work rewarded? (Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain, choosing and deciding from whom to who else and by how much.)
And now that Hillary has bowed out (for now at least) the 'man behind the curtain' in-waiting is Senator Obama:
"That is what we will do now as we join forces with Senator Obama and his campaign. We will make history together as we write the next chapter in America's story. We will stand united for the values we hold dear, for the vision of progress we share, and for the country we love. There is nothing more American than that."
And there is the reason I could never vote for a modern Democrat: The mere idea of equating Americanism with Egalitarianism is offensive to its core.
My, and The Founders' ideal of Americanism is more like this: 'The American' magazine
Senator Obama, Lightworker.
SF Chronicle columnist Mark Morford is not quite as in the bag for Senator O as Chris Matthews, but he's getting close:
Many spiritually advanced people I know (not coweringly religious, mind you, but deeply spiritual) identify Obama as a Lightworker, that rare kind of attuned being who has the ability to lead us not merely to new foreign policies or health care plans or whatnot, but who can actually help usher in a new way of being on the planet, of relating and connecting and engaging with this bizarre earthly experiment. These kinds of people actually help us evolve. They are philosophers and peacemakers of a very high order, and they speak not just to reason or emotion, but to the soul.
Grab an empty, high capacity barf bag and read the whole thing. Morford realizes exactly how insane he sounds but doesn't take the opportunity to dial it down.
Not sure how Senator McCain will be able to collect the Lightworker vote once this gets out -- Marin County is likely lost.
June 6, 2008
Another One Under The Bus
I ran across a clever riff on the Stones' "Under My Thumb the other day from Don Surber. I like the Stones but I am thinking we might turn instead to Queen's "Another One Rides the Bus:" [PLEASE READ UPDATE]
And another one's gone and another one's gone -- Another one under the bus!
Because I think this is going to be a recurring theme. Who's thrown under the bus today, Senator? Today it seems to be...wait for it...the sovereign nation of Israel:
"Let me be clear," said Obama from the podium at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in Washington on Wednesday, "Israel's security is sacrosanct. It is non-negotiable. The Palestinians need a state that is contiguous and cohesive and that allows them to prosper. But any agreement with the Palestinian people must preserve Israel's identity as a Jewish State, with secure, recognized and defensible borders. Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel and it must remain undivided," he declared.
And another one's gone, another one's gone...Scoot over Grandma, Reverend, Professor Goolsbee, Trinity United -- we gotta make room for a whole country here.
Hat-tip: Hugh Hewitt
UPDATE: Don Surber sends a nice email that reminded me "rides the Bus" is itself a Weird Al parody of Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust." I have internalized Weird Al enough that I forgot the first level of indirection. I also still sing the Police song as "King of Suede..."
The Perfect Pigouvian Tax
Jim Glass takes Mankiw's Pigou Club to new heights.
Imagine a simple, single tax that can help avert global warming, de-fund Arab terrorists, save scarce natural resources, reduce pollution AND remedy the government's approaching funding crisis for Medicare (by heading off the coming diabetes epidemic, etc.) ... save private individuals billions of dollars of medical costs from avoided heart attacks and strokes and blood pressure medication prescriptions ... make the general population lean and good looking ... and improve your sex life too! That's the Fat-Gas Tax.
What's not to love?
Hat-tip: Don Luskin.
June 5, 2008
Question the W!
I coined the tendentious acronym DAWG because I used to concede that the (G)lobe was indeed (W)arming, and I was staking my ability to generate doubt on whether it was (A)nthropogenic and/or (D)eleterious.
Since that time, I have to renege on the W. It seems that the G hasn't really W'd in the last ten years. It's a pretty chilly June 'round these parts, and the University of Alabama at Huntsville said that Global Temperatures Dives in May.
Confirming what many of us have already noted from the anecdotal evidence coming in of a much cooler than normal May, such as late spring snows as far south as Arizona, extended skiing in Colorado, and delays in snow cover melting in many parts of the northern hemisphere, the University of Alabama, Huntsville (UAH) published their satellite derived Advanced Microwave Sounder Unit data set of the Lower Troposphere for May 2008.
I'm still pretty convinced of G, though. The round-Earth thing has been proven to Popperian standards.
Happy Birthday, x86!
June 5, 2008 (Computerworld) Thirty years ago, on June 8, 1978, Intel Corp. introduced its first 16-bit microprocessor, the 8086, with a splashy ad heralding "the dawn of a new era." Overblown? Sure, but also prophetic. While the 8086 was slow to take off, its underlying architecture -- later referred to as x86 -- would become one of technology's most impressive success stories.
Perhaps it's my geeky occupation but I don't consider it overblown. Microsoft and Intel changed the world, and I would put the 8086 right in there with the printing press, steam engine, wheel, and fire.
Harp -- one more time, if I may -- on T.J. Rodgers. Look at Moore's Law. Look at what happened in 30 years. If we get the same curve from photovoltaics, energy will be virtually free in 2030.
UPDATE: Some birthday present
The Federal Trade Commission has opened a formal antitrust investigation on Intel Corp.'s business practices in the microprocessor market, a move long sought by smaller rival Advanced Micro Devices Inc.
I'd say some rent-seeking by AMD, but I am not a big antitrust guy.
June 4, 2008
I guess Senator McCain's speech last night was worse than I thought! I just got an email from GOP Shoppe:
And folks say I am negative...
Future NRA President?
The pregnant mother of four told the U.K.'s Daily Mail that she owns guns similar to the ones she used in "Tomb Raider." Jolie and partner Brad Pitt are not against having weapons in their house for security reasons, she says.
Gratuitous picture (stolen from Actress Archives):
UPDATE: Let the record show that I beat Insty to this story by two minutes (1:47 to 1:49) and that I included a picture. Yet still he gets more traffic...
UPDATE II: An emailer points out that I don't post a gratuitous picture of Fed Chair Ben Bernanke when I talk about him. If I could find a nice pouty one like this, maybe I would...
This IS Serious
If recession is when your neighbor loses his home, and depression is when you lose your home, what does it mean when Ed McMahon loses his six bedroom Beverly Hills mansion?
Ed McMahon, the longtime sidekick to television star Johnny Carson, faces the possible loss of his Beverly Hills home to a foreclosure action initiated by a unit of Countrywide Financial Corp.
I'll not make light of the housing crisis again.
Starting to Miss Hillary...
I pride ThreeSources on objectivity. I'm a self-admitted partisan hack, and we all have strong feelings. But I think we do a pretty good job of avoiding personal attacks and promoting polity based on "feelings."
One cannot avoid gathering a little antipathy, however, against philosophical and political opponents, especially when one feels they are not honest interlocutors. When the primaries started, I didn’t know if I could stand four years of Senator Clinton. She combines dirigisme with disingenuousness -- without even having the decency to be good at it as was her husband. That fake point and smile from the podium causes physical pain every time.
I will admit -- contra ThreeSources style -- that I am developing deep and visceral feelings for Senator Obama. His speech last night annoyed me to no end.
His lips would move and I would hear "Government, government, government!" followed by "Me, me, me!" Everybody said it was a great speech. I'd admit it was well delivered and well scripted (and would somebody please get Senator McCain a make up person?) but I am not sure it was a great speech.
He thinks CAFE standards are the solution for "the guy who lost his job and can't afford the gas to drive around and find a new one." He thinks government will do a better job developing new energy sources than private industry. I have news for the Senator. The biggest "Special interest in Washington" is government -- try fighting that one for a while.
The cheering crowds make good TV, but I am in the middle of Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism right now and am easily wigged by the scripted crowd control and the Messianic approach of Senator Obama.
Will this nation fall for it? I fear so. Like the Progressive Era and the New Deal, we will likely survive it. But a huge hunk of liberty will be taken away and never restored.
We now return to objective, rational discussion. ThreeSources apologizes for the ad hominem attack.
June 3, 2008
Defending Financial Instruments
Don Luskin has a guest editorial in the WSJ today about commodity index funds. In a sane world, I don't think such a vehicle would need a defense. But, this is an election year:
In the political quest to place blame for high food and energy prices, a new scapegoat has been found: commodity index funds. Politicians of both parties, energy company executives and farm lobbying organizations all agree these funds should be regulated or prohibited altogether. Who says this is an age of political discord?
The piece is (unsurprisingly) smart and worth a read in full.
The larger and more frightening point is that few of our 535 economy-commissars comprehend the instruments and activities they seek to regulate. With apologies to Martin Niemöller:
In the 80's, they came for my junk bonds.
Most people overlook the progress that new financial instruments bring. From the Corporation to the ability to hedge risk. new instruments may not match the transistor but they have allowed us to direct capital to its best uses and get risk to those who can best manage it. If Congress wants to be the equivalent of the middle-ages church in banning "usury" and send all of us back to cash in the mattress, few people will speak up.
UPDATE: Mr. Luskin uses my poem.
June 2, 2008
Writing Advice from Jane
I love this planet!
Jane Espenson, one of the brilliant TV writers to emerge from Buffy, has a great blog where she dispenses writing advice. Badly as I need it, I usually catch it only when it is linked to. Thankfully, that is pretty frequent from Jonathan V Last at Galley Slaves, and used to be from Ian Hamet, before he fell of the blogosphere (It's flat I tell ya!!!)
This true incident, says Jane, should "make you feel a little better about the inciting incident in a lot of comedies." Espenson ships her clothes to the hotel and her dirty laundry home. I used to do this when working trade shows where we were shipping a lot of equipment. It really is an awesome way to travel.
Except that they do some sort of operation at the border in which the shipping labels are removed and sometimes switched. Fun!
The. Greatest. Story. Ever. Can you trust a fiction writer with this? I think so.
Spoiler? Tie-breaker? Insignificant?
I got to know Rep Bob Barr as one of the House Managers during President Clinton's impeachment and followed his career through his Borat cameo.
The NYTimes has an interesting piece on the Libertarian convention and the electoral significance on both big L and little-l libs.
Michael Kinsley, writing in Time magazine last fall, predicted that voters with libertarian leanings are going to be “an increasingly powerful force in politics.” The auguries come even from Hollywood, where a film adaptation of the libertarian writer Ayn Rand’s novel “Atlas Shrugged” is planned for release next year starring Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, both of whom are said to be Rand fans.
Our hopes lie on Brangelina, do they? I appreciate voting one's conscience, but the article, and everyone in it make clear spoiler is the highest to which Barr's candidacy can aspire.
Mr. [David] Boaz of the Cato Institute said he already detected some movement to Mr. Barr. “I’ve had friends e-mail me over the last few days and say, ‘I want Barr to keep McCain out of the White House,’ ” he said. “So there definitely are some libertarians who object to McCain and want to see Barr siphon votes away from him.”
This proud, pragmatic, little-l will stay in the McCain camp. thank you.
Cap and Tax
The lead WSJ editorial today does a nice job taking down the Lieberman-Warner "Cap and Trade” bill. "[A]nyone who looks at the legislative details will quickly see that a better description is cap and spend. This is easily the largest income redistribution scheme since the income tax." Senator Barbara Boxer of California has already introduced amendments to spend this new largesse windfall.
Ms. Boxer expects to scoop up auction revenues of some $3.32 trillion by 2050. Yes, that's trillion. Her friends in Congress are already salivating over this new pot of gold. The way Congress works, the most vicious floor fights won't be over whether this is a useful tax to create, but over who gets what portion of the spoils. In a conference call with reporters last Thursday, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry explained that he was disturbed by the effects of global warming on "crustaceans" and so would be pursuing changes to ensure that New England lobsters benefit from some of the loot.
I'm reminded of Boulder Refugee's post last week of climate change as "The New Socialism." Here it is right here at home. And, no matter who gets elected, the Executive Brach will be friendly to it after January 2009. (Well, unless Bob Barr wins...)
It is a perfect match for these folks. They can, in the name of saving the planet:
Karl Popper talked about those who would send us back to the caves. There is certainly some of that sentiment among many of the constituencies that would support this. I just don't feel Dr. Popper ever considered that such an ideal vehicle would ever present itself.
June 1, 2008
Quote of the Day
Well, It is Samizdata's Quote of the Day -- how lazy is that?
Happily, we were indestructible. We didn't need seat belts, airbags, smoke detectors, bottled water or the Heimlich manoeuvre. We didn't require child safety caps on our medicines. We didn't need helmets when we rode our bikes or pads for our knees and elbows when we went skating. We knew without being reminding that bleach was not a refreshing drink and that gasoline when exposed to a match had a tendency to combust. We didn't have to worry about what we ate because nearly all foods were good for us: sugar gave us energy, red meat made us strong, ice cream gave us healthy bones, coffee kept us alert and purring productively. -- Bill Bryson, The Live and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid,
That quote is funny, true, and well written, but I have to throw out a caveat. While we have certainly gone too far with nannyization and the attempted removal of all dangers and consequences, I like to remind people that it also represents a very important economic realization of the value of human life. Because my siblings and I bounded across the country -- untethered -- in the back of a station wagon going 80MPH on bias-ply tires, does not mean it is a good idea.
Life is more valuable today -- in dollars, certainly. I would not trade my childhood era, but I also won't be suggesting it to my friends who are parents. I wish I could find a book I had in my youth. It had home science projects for kids like burning a big metal spoonful of glycerin, coal dust explosions in a coffee can, and -- my personal fave -- buying an old neon sign transformer and attaching bare wires to it to make a "Jacob’s Ladder" spark generator. I think it would be a little tough to get that book past the publishers' lawyers today.