November 30, 2008

The Gospel According to Jack

Now that you've read Dave Berry's humorous take on Jack Bauer, about the moral ambiguity of summary execution of pirates, and our spirited back-and-forth on the merits and shortcomings of the latest season premiere for '24' please consider this serious moral defense of Jack's tactics:

Colliding with those facts, however, is the conventional morality, held even by some of those supposedly committed to our defense. It is clear that the enemies of 24 hold ethical notions drawn from the toxic wells of the antiquity: incoherent virtues of a vague niceness, of infinite restraint, of turning-the-other-cheek, of dutiful self-sacrifice, of infinite generosityall as ends in themselves, regardless of their consequences to our survival, and to be observed even in wartime emergencies. That this suicidal gospel is being preached even at West Point is, frankly, terrifying.

Fortunately, however, our young fighting men and women are hearing, and apparently heeding, another gospel:


The Gospel According to Jack.

If theres an encouraging message in the New Yorker article, its that many soldiers are actively resisting this moral training. Again, Im not debating the efficacy of any specific tactics; Im simply upholding our moral right and responsibility to use extreme tactics if they work and if we have to. Thats the Gospel According to Jack.

As Ayn Rand would have said, "Check your premises." The storyline in '24' occurs not over 24 weeks with time to weigh and calculate every action - it represents a single day. And not any ordinary day. A day like, for example, 9/11. Anyone remember that?

Bidinotto concludes: America wants the war on terror fought by Jack Bauer.

Read the whole article for the story about how the Pentagon wanted '24' to "tone down" certain scenes, and why.

Television Posted by JohnGalt at 1:32 PM | What do you think? [2]
But T. Greer thinks:

JG, you are forcing my hand....

Here is my real problem with Jack Bauer: The world of 24 is a lie. Real life does not happen in a single day. 9/11 is a fair example of this. There were rumblings about terrorist attacks for years before they actually happened. President Clinton bent to public pressure and failed to deal with the problem when it first became apparent, and President Bush stuck to his "humble foreign policy" up 'til the day of the attacks, despite clear warnings of what the consequences could be. Let me reiterate this point: we had years. Not 24 hours, not 24 weeks, but years.

That is why I am quite glad out boys at West Point are getting a lesson in real morality. See, our soldiers don't live in the world of 24. In the real world - the one we occupy - America just won a war because of the virtues "drawn from the toxic wells of antiquity."


But let us pretend that this happens in one day. Lets pretend that our world loses all shades of gray. Is 24 moral, correct, or representative of what a real-life Bauer should do then?

Hell no.

Here is why:

1. Torture. Does. Not. Work.

This one is pretty simple. People capitulate under torture. However, you cannot trust a single thing they say. The tortured man cares not for accuracy or truth- only something that will make the pain go away. There is a reason, after all, that so many women confessed (and blamed as many others)of witchcraft during the Middle Ages.

Bidinotto tries to get around this by stating that the efficacy of torture is irrelevant to 24. That is bull crap. Sure, 24 might be an argument for doing "extreme tactics" in times of extremity, but you cannot get around the fact that 24 advocates a very specific extreme tactic.

2. The statement "I’m simply upholding our moral right and responsibility to use extreme tactics if they work and if we have to" is one of the most dangerous I have ever come across.

Think about the implications of these words.

I have, perhaps sentimentally, held the belief that America is, or should be, a land ruled not by men, but laws. A nation ruled by laws is, by definition, a nation ruled by limitations. We limit the sphere of government to very specific tasks. The government is not to interfere with the market of goods or ideas. The government is not to violate the liberties of its citizens. These are rights, self evident and unreliable, that the government does not have the right to break.

Such a system is impossible if we accept the morality of 24.

See, one only needs to declare that we are in an "extreme" time, and the mere idea of the rule of law and natural rights is destroyed.

Consider, for example, the case of global warming. Convince the majority of the citizens that we are "running out of time" before they all die, and the government has a free hand to confiscate property and destroy liberty in order to prevent it.

Another example: gun rights. Ak-47s are dangerous. Obviously ATF agents need to strip citizens of their second amendment rights- because if they did not, "the people holding those rights will not [survive]."

A third example: A country with a rather large army and projection capabilities invades the United States. Recognizing that the United States is near "imminent destruction" he decides to suspend the constitution and place his fellow citizens in a state of martial law.

One final example: One happens to believe that President-elect John McCain will lead us into a nuclear war with Russia the minute he becomes President. Facing an existential threat, the simplest solution is to assassinate the man before he becomes President.

And herein lays the problem: once we have defined something as "extreme" there is no limit to tyranny. Orwell said much the same, near 60 years ago. "There is no 'Law'," he said, "there is only power."

If we do not limit what those working for our government can and cannot do, then Orwell will have been proven right.

~T. Greer, quoting a Mr. King, "A man who won’t die for something is not fit to live."

P.S. I also take issue with Bidinotto's general idiocy and factual inaccuracy. Here are a couple of things he seemed to be particularly sloppy about:

*The "image" of terrorist organizations has dropped faster than that of the United States. See Here.

*Rights do not exist to "protect human life", nor are they "moral principles that define proper boundaries of human action in society." Rather, natural right are independent of society altogether- indeed, our government was created in order to secure these rights from interference in the first place. (Hopefully I do not need to link this one...)


*Did Bidinotto ever inquire the context in which "conventional morality" that is accepted by those "in the highest ranks of our military"? Because - and perhaps he just did not notice - we are not in a ticking-bomb scenario. The threats of 24 are not the "threats to our national security" our Brass has to worry about. If you want to see how those threats are actually solved I would advise a look at this link.

Posted by: T. Greer at December 1, 2008 12:36 AM
But jk thinks:

Awesome post and comment -- did I mention that I have much to be thankful for?

Without taking sides here (though you know which side I'm on), I would just add a nice riff in The Black Swan. Taleb goes to some conference in Vegas discussing the philosophy of uncertainty attended by business, government, and military leaders. He claims the business and government guys did not get it at all, but that the military folk -- and only the military folk -- had the nuanced and philosophical understanding to comprehend what he was saying and add insight.

I don't remember that's being highlighted in "American Beauty," but I believe it. And I believe that those same leaders, like Capt. Wright in the Newsweek piece, can handle a "Human Rights seminar" and still be able to defend our nation.

Posted by: jk at December 1, 2008 11:22 AM

November 28, 2008

Bidentity Crisis -- Where's Joe?

A good headline from The Denver Post / Politico. It seems more and more certain that Vice-President-elect Biden will not enjoy a high-profile policy role in the new administartion:

Yet in a column last week The Washington Post's David Ignatius called Biden "the incredible shrinking vice president-elect." "Where is he these days?" Ignatius wonders. "Do they have him in a box? He can't be happy at the idea of considering Clinton as foreign policy tsarina -- wasn't Biden's foreign policy savvy the reason he was picked?" Those close to Biden say he views his role as providing counsel to the president a function that's often not visible to the public -- and that he is doing just that.

We have much to be thankful for.


November 27, 2008

It's a Berkeley Square Christmas

Every year. If you dust off the Christmas Music on Thanksgiving like I do, I will point you toward free MP3s on our band's website. I might call them up and see if anybody wants to record a few; pretty sad that they stop at 2002.

But AlexC thinks:

These have been a staple of my Christmas play list for years.

Thank you guys!

Posted by: AlexC at November 27, 2008 12:19 PM

Give Thanks for Jack

My favorite thing about watching '24' last year was following Dave Berry's blogging.

A friend of ThreeSources who shall remain unnamed sends a link to his latest:

When we last saw Jack Bauer, he was seriously depressed because he had just spent 24 grueling hours trying to comprehend the plot of Season 6, which involved a lot of exploding and shooting and by various parties trying to get hold of the Top Secret Russian Circuit Board of Doom, which everybody in the world wanted and we are darned if we could ever figure out why. We vaguely recall that Audrey was in a coma, but we won't believe she's truly gone until we see the stake through her heart.

Said emailer, whose identity I will not reveal except under extreme torture, has some holiday viewing suggestions for the ThreeSourcers who are not following 24:
For the rest of you, I think Ellen will be having representatives from PETA on and she might even be dancing with Chris Mathews.

Real. Tough. Room.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:31 AM | What do you think? [0]

November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Don Luskin links to Jonathan Hoenig, who points out "The average American will consume 3,000 calories and 229 grams of fat this Thanksgiving."

And while I don't advocate an unhealthy lifestyle, a little gluttony and overindulgence on Thanksgiving has become simply part of the celebration. It's a truly American holiday, one that celebrates not a mystical god or military victory, but abundance and success. Consider the average American will take in more calories in one meal than those in socialist wastelands like Cuba or North Korea will eat over a number of days. I happen to believe that's something we can be proud of.

Luskin adds "And without denying anybody's hardship, you've got to admit that, if you're going to be poor and suffering anywhere in the world, modern-day America is just about as good as a place and time as any."

Indeed. Warm ThreeSources wishes to David Schuster at MSNBC -- enjoy that turkey!

Posted by John Kranz at 12:49 PM | What do you think? [0]

November 25, 2008

Blasphemin'

Atlas Shrugged Updated for the Current Financial Crisis.

"Our money represents our spirit's values," Galt said. "When the government takes our profits, it is literally robbing us of our souls. I will not apologize for my wealth to a nation of looters. We who live by the mind could've been engineers, scientists, doctors, extreme-sports enthusiasts, but there is no purer pursuit than the pursuit of money. A is A. Money begets more money, and ..."

Galt went on like this for what seemed to Dagny like hours, until, finally, something he said piqued her interest.

Posted by John Kranz at 7:30 PM | What do you think? [3]
But johngalt thinks:

Wow, he's [Jeremiah Tucker] pretty hostile to the idea of self-reliance. And capitalism. And property rights. And morality. And reason. And life.

He's got the overwrought metaphor thing down pat, though.

Posted by: johngalt at November 26, 2008 4:02 PM
But jk thinks:

Thanks for the comment. I was going to ask the Sheriff to look in on your place if you let this one go much longer...

A friend mailed me a link to that. I think the mistake he makes is "The Adam Smith Fallacy." People assume Adam Smith and his followers to be pro-business. Smith famously said that if you see two or more businessmen together they are surely price-fixing or some anti-market activity. I recall hearing an economics professor offering any student an automatic 'A' to any student who can find a pro-business sentence in either Wealth of Nations or Moral Sentiments.

We're witnessing a lot more rent-seeking than free market activity in the business community these days. Rather than "updating" it, I fear he put most of the people on the wrong side.

But, but, but, I thought the line I quoted was funny: "Galt went on like this for what seemed to Dagny like hours, until, finally, something he said piqued her interest." You have got to applaud heresy done well.

Posted by: jk at November 26, 2008 6:33 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

For what it is worth, the like to make fun of everything.

He is pretty good at it too.

~T. Greer, never a big fan of the Jonas brothers.

Posted by: T. Greer at November 26, 2008 11:24 PM

H.O.P.E.

I'm finding myself hating the Office of the President Elect.

Why?

Not because of policy issues.

Or staffing issues.

It's because of this f-ing arrogance.

I see this sign and my blood pressure rises.

Never before in American history have we had something like this.

Hillbuzz:

Will this cult of personality stuff end on January 20th, or will the makers of smurf blood blue paint be on easy street for the next 4 years?

This stuff just doesnt feel American to us. Its not the way past leaders have behaved, its not the way they conducted themselves.

It seems childish and naive, and that does not give us an ounce of confidence in this mans abilities to magically solve all of our problems and keep us from crashing into the Second Great Depression.

But jk thinks:

I still have a seal. I want an office now.

Posted by: jk at November 25, 2008 6:29 PM
But Jeremy thinks:

Arrogant? I guess I just don't see it. What's really the problem with it?

Posted by: Jeremy at November 25, 2008 10:21 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

It's not the seal intrinsically, Jeremy, but it's demonstrative of Obama's attitude. His followers worship him, and he really does believe he's some messianic figure come to save the country.

If you don't already see it, you likely never will.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at November 26, 2008 9:06 AM
But jk thinks:

Jeremy -- a couple things. The arrogance is that Senator Obama claimed the mantle of power prematurely with "the seal." Now the seal adorns a special "Office of the President Elect" sign.

On one level, this is funny. It plays into the celebrity-messianic figure that Obama established for himself. I'm guessing none of the others had an "Office of the President-Elect" sign made to make the podium look more presidential. (The Greek columns, one suspects, were in the wash that day.)

On a more serious note, many 'round these parts are concerned that his candidacy was much more about him than his ideas. This could continue into a personal presidency, where the country is asked to accept many supra-Constitutional ideas because they emanate from our historic President. That's banana republic policy, not Madisonian.

Posted by: jk at November 26, 2008 11:40 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I'll defend it (the "office" business, not the seal) although I still agree that he's arrogant.

Creating an "office of the president elect" demonstrates that he is organized and prepared on inauguration day, possibly giving less encouragement to several of America's many enemies to engage in mischief.

But you want to talk arrogance? How about, "We can't sustain a system that bleeds billions of taxpayer dollars on programs that have outlived their usefulness or exist soley because of the power of politicians, lobbyists or interest groups." How many presidents-elect have NOT made this pledge to "scour wasteful spending from the federal budget?"

Fat chance but good luck to you, mister president-elect.

Posted by: johngalt at November 26, 2008 1:00 PM

The Obama Team (1.86 cheers)

I guess people don't come here for their daily rah-rah of accolades for President-elect Obama. (No, they come for Oprahesque condemnations of TV violence...)

But I have been remiss in not giving a moderately full throated salute to his appointments so far:

  • Christy Romer gets high marks from Professor Mankiw -- and Larry Kudlow calls her a Republican and closet supply-sider.

  • Senator Clinton is a great choice for SecState. I can't believe I am saying this, but she's good. As interesting as it is, I'd hate to see the emoluments clause contretemps derail the appointment.

  • Gov. Bill Richardson to Commerce? Awesome. He saw the Clinton free-trading up close, cut taxes as a Governor, and governed NM as a centrist. I don't know if the feds will let him drive 100MPH, but that is such a New Mexico thing, it made me smile (I went to school in Socorro).

  • Geithner seems as good as well get at Treasury, and the market gave him a cheer.

I'm least sure about Geithner and can't get too excited about Senator Daschle at HHS. But, comparing to the Communist Shop being set up in the House (Waxman Chair of Energy????) the Obama Cabinet is looking strong, competent and centrist.

But jk thinks:

Your Geithner Post is excellent, Perry -- I had missed that.

Posted by: jk at November 26, 2008 12:46 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

@ JK: Keeping Gates is the one smart thing Obama has done.

Don't be so sure about the market rally "because of Geitner" -- I questioned the news reporting immediately and am still leaning toward a bargain-hunting rally. What kind of confidence could the man really inspire? There are lots of others who can follow the Paulson bailout playbook.

I suppose there were worse picks. Do you remember Bob Rubin's philosophy on achieving zero deficits? He's a deficit hawk, all right, but he wants to raise taxes as much as necessary. Yeah, that sure went well for the country in 1993, and in the early part of this decade for NYC. (That's sarcasm, for anyone who didn't pick up on it.)

It's not much of a mandate when 48% of the voters were against him. But that goes to show the dangerous power of democracy: it only takes 50% plus one.

I don't see that being "visible" is enough for someone like HRC. She doesn't want limelight if that's all there is, so I never thought leading the Senate would satisfy her either. She wants real power, and she's just the kind of vindictive bitch who is already plotting to do what she can to undermine Obama's presidency. As I and others have blogged, she believed this was her crowning. The woman's been stewing since February, wondering what could have happened that some uppity mulatto stole what was rightfully hers. We'll see soon how she uses her cabinet position against her boss.

@ TG: Off the top of my head, only major names like Henry Cabot Lodge, Robert Taft, LBJ, and the recent ones of Robert Byrd, Tom Daschle, Bob Dole, Trent Lott, Bill Frist and Harry Reid.

Secretaries of State: Jefferson, Madison, William Seward, Dean Acheson, and then the more recent ones of Henry Kissinger, George Shultz, James Baker, the Clinton disaster twins of Warren Christopher and Madeline Albright, and of course Colin Powell and Condi Rice.

So as for me, aside from recent history, I remember only one more Secretary of State than I do Senate majority leaders. It's a "visible" position as the nation's top diplomat, but it's still just a mouthpiece function for the administration. Hillary won't be able to go out of her way to leave a mark on U.S. foreign policy, for however long she lasts. She can be impressive and have accomplishments, but ultimately it's not her agenda.

Some Austrians may remember Lodge like I do, for being a proponent of the gold standard. Most who know about Lodge will probably remember him for being instrumental in keeping us out of the League of Nations. At the time he may not have realized the extent of what he did. The rest that I named were more partisan, but they set the legislative agenda and weren't mere mouthpieces.

I'm not talking about "legacy," though. I think Bill is the one concerned with that, because he's always sought popularity, but it's Hillary who wants raw power.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at November 26, 2008 2:37 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

@Perry:

I am going to go out on a limb and say you are smarter than most Americans. I will also wager that there are very few people who can recall what Lodge thought about the Gold Standard or the League of Nations.

On the other hand, I know quite a few people who know of George Marshall, and even more importantly, the Marshall Plan.

Likewise, most people credit Kissinger with the development of detente and the recognition of the PRC.

Both of these men transcended the "mouthpeice" label and became powerful men in and of themselves. Likewise, both of their policies shaped American politics and discourse decades after they were gone.

It is hard to say the same thing about Dole, Byrd, or Ried.

Also worth noting is that SecStates never get blamed for foreign policy failures - that is always placed on the President's shoulders - but often get credit for major policy initiatives done right.

I would not be surprised if Hillary thinks she can get something big (say, Israeli-Palestinian problems) done right.


~T. Greer, with a view from Washington

Posted by: T. Greer at November 26, 2008 3:11 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

George Marshall, and even more importantly, the Marshall Plan.

The plan by which Americans paid taxes to rebuild nations that had been destroying each other for centuries -- and we rebuilt them so the larger ones could descend into socialist paradises. The plan which wouldn't have been necessary for Germany if Morgenthau, Roosevelt and Truman hadn't implemented their plan to deliberately starve Germans.

If we had listened to Patton, we'd have pushed the Russians back, and then Eastern European agriculture could feed the continent while it rebuilt itself.

Likewise, most people credit Kissinger with the development of detente and the recognition of the PRC.

I wouldn't; I'd place it earlier. But for those who give Kissinger credit, they should also give him credit for perpetuating the Cold War for an unnecessary decade or so. Reagan was criticized but later was shown to be right: the Soviets couldn't keep up in a new arms race.

So you see that Kissinger was really the last Secretary of State who might have done anything "memorable," whatever that means, but even so it wasn't "his" agenda. He was the familiar name associated with it, but no administration lets a cabinet official go out on his own. Hillary will have to stay loyal, or else, so I keep wondering: what's her angle?

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at November 28, 2008 12:55 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

Perry, I am not arguing the utility of detente or the Marshall Plan. Rather, what I am arguing is that both Kissinger and Marshall held much more power than your average junior senator does.

The Marshall Plan is named as such because George Marshall was both the architect and key negotiator in the development stage of the plan. Without Kissinger's council, Nixon would never have recognized the People's Republic of China.

Now, this is not saying that every SoS has this amount of command within the administration they belong too. However, I would wager that Hillary thinks she will have similar amount of influence and sway in the new administration as these men did.

And even if she did not get such privilege, she would still have more influence there than in the senate. We have an executive heavy system these days, and by the looks of it, the Senate leadership has decided to give the reigns of Hillary's prize project (healthcare) to Kennedy, there really is very little for Hillary to do in the Congress. Sure, she might have more control over her own agenda, but she will have quite a bit less power overall.

~T. Greer, providing an angle, so to speak.

Posted by: T. Greer at November 29, 2008 12:22 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Perry, I am not arguing the utility of detente or the Marshall Plan. Rather, what I am arguing is that both Kissinger and Marshall held much more power than your average junior senator does.

Certainly, and they're still rare animals, particularly with how the State Department has evolved in the last few decades.

But Hillary is no average junior senator. From the beginning she wielded far more influence than a lot of senior senators (who, granted, were more concerned about appropriations than agendas).

The Marshall Plan is named as such because George Marshall was both the architect and key negotiator in the development stage of the plan.

I'm not denying he had influence, even great influence, but even the foundation for massive economic aid to rebuild Europe came from several others. And he negotiated but only on what he was permitted to do: he wasn't the chief executive and therefore couldn't speak on his own.

Without Kissinger's council, Nixon would never have recognized the People's Republic of China.

Perhaps, but Nixon would have never done it if he weren't already receptive to the idea. And Kissinger was the one who was there with the ability, but for all we know, he wasn't the only advisor to push him over the edge, so to speak.

Now, this is not saying that every SoS has this amount of command within the administration they belong too. However, I would wager that Hillary thinks she will have similar amount of influence and sway in the new administration as these men did.

That I can certainly buy. But if she thinks she can, she might be as mistaken as when she (and many others) thought the Dem nomination was hers to claim. The Clinton era seems to be over, and I have a feeling Obama (maybe Michelle too) will make it a point to remind her of that.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at December 1, 2008 4:24 PM

Tightly Controlled Oil Supply Slips Into Surplus

In June I posted a Cato Institute article "Get Ready for the Oil Price Drop." At the time I read (but never linked) a separate article on American.com that showed the careful balance between world supply and demand for oil that allows relatively small inventory changes to effect relatively large price changes.

The data available at the time was only through the end of 2007 and was still showing a supply deficit. The latest data, updated earlier this month, shows the first surplus since 2005 occurred in the second quarter of this year. It's not difficult to understand, then, how the predicted oil price drop materialized in the form of $1.70 gas replacing the $4 variety.

World%20Oil%20Balance%20November%202008%20%2870%20percent%29.bmp

The graph above is my own, created from EIA's Excel data, to which I've added the "Total World Supply Balance" data line comprising supply minus demand. Note that I had to multiply the resulting data by 10 in order to see plus or minus movement on the same scale as the overall supply and demand. The take away from this should be that adding as little as 1.9 million barrels per day (2.3%) to the world oil market at any time in the last 2.5 years would have put the market in surplus at the time. Remember that the next time someone says, "The small amount of oil we could produce domestically would not lower prices for 10 to 15 years."


Moral Ambiguity

I seem to have some cover this year in my minority position contra-Jack Bauer.

The one thing he offers -- in spades -- is a distinct lack of moral ambiguity. I offer Bret Stephens column today: Why Don't We Hang Pirates Anymore?

It's a safe bet, dear reader, that the title of this column has caused you to either (a) roll your eyes and wonder, What century do you think we're living in? or (b) scratch your head and ask, Yes, why don't we? Wherever you come down, the question defines a fault line in the civilized world's view about the latest encroachment of barbarism.

I can dig the yearning for a Jack Bauer who will do the tough stuff. We all support Orwells dictum: "People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf."

The cover story to this month's American Magazine (have I ever mentioned that it's pretty good?) is that the State of California cannot build a road, drill for oil, or do anything not sanctioned by "The View" to promote wealth creation. I am reminded of Michael Barone's superb "Hard America, Soft America." Some "Hard" Americans are needed to drill wells, build roads and hang pirates.

The coda to this rambling post will have to be the "candy-asses" (Ann Althouse's term) who don't know where meat comes from. I didn't post on this but I cannot get this story out of my head. The HuffPo crowd, and MSNBC, and some MSM journos were appalled that Governor Palin did an interview while (make the kids leave the room) turkeys were being killed in the background. The HuffPo folks are astonished that it happened at all and the MSNBC "news" person was equally surprised that she did not see the political ramifications.

I figure when you shoot your food, dress it, and butcher it, that a commercial turkey plant the week before Thanksgiving is not a big deal. I am city-folk through and through. I'm a Michael Scully-style animal rights guy. I have a soft spot for animals and am generally repelled by gore. But I laughed that the good folks at MSNBC had to blur the actions of the turkey handler in the background (I assumed the birds were smoking cigarettes -- I hadn't seen the porno-filter dusted off by the news division in a long time).

This post has rambled, but they do add up: no roads in California, no harsh penalties for piracy, and full-scale denial about the plight of turkeys in November. We need some "Hard America" back.

UPDATE: Great Googooly-moogooly, indeed. SugarChuck and I have a long record of synchronicity. As I penned this, he drew the turkey slaughtering connection in a comment (fourth). As his was funnier than mine, I have to quote a small piece here:

I clicked on Three Sources and got Oprah Winfrey. JK knows I hold him in high esteem and T.G.'s erudition and defense of Teddy Roosevelt make him tops in my book, but ya'll are starting to sound like a bunch of nancy boy David Schusters at a turkey killing. Simply put, you are violating Sugarchuck's Mighty Fine Rule #1, "Don't be cracking on Jack!"

Just this once, I am going to quote an email without permission:
That was the finest hour of this whole election cycle as far as I'm concerned. You could write a Ph.D. thesis on that episode. I saw it on morning Joe before the NBC censors decided to blur the image and it was magnificent. You can't buy this stuff. We live in a great country.

Amen.

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 12:16 PM | What do you think? [1]
But Keith thinks:

I thought we agreed that the reason we don't hang pirates anymore is because of the climate change implications.

jk, you're right, all these things are symptoms of Soft America taking primacy over Hard America. I've read the Stephens article and the American Magazine article; I take some exception to some points in the American Magazine piece (our only choices are Newsom and Brown? Though I admit they're, sadly, the most likely choices...), but it's clearly the direction in which this state is inexorably headed.

Simply put, were we to send half-dozen pirate craft to Davy Jones' locker without benefit of a trial, or allow the Marines to re-enact that "shores of Tripoli" thing that Mr. Jefferson tasked them for, piracy would drop off precipitously. But California lacks the stomach or the political will to do what must be done. Hang pirates? Hardly. What pirates we have left in this state, we now portray as chasing pies instead of ladies. Our tender sensibilities simply can't handle the fact that said pirates were more interested in indulging lust rather than gluttony. THAT'S Soft America.

Soft America would faint if they were to see Hard America hoist the black flag and hear "Arrrrrrrr, prepare to be boarded!"

Posted by: Keith at November 25, 2008 2:01 PM

Like, Say, Shaq?

Blog friend Josh Hendrickson at Everyday Economist has an interesting post with a very smart take on the TARP program, which he has consistently opposed. I'd love to read the book by Roger Koppl which inspired the piece but 66 pounds is a little rich (at current exchange rates anyway).

The idea is that big players such as the US Treasury acting in a market without rational market goals will distort the markets and preclude clearance and price discovery.

The effect of this discretionary power is to increase uncertainty within the financial markets. Firms that receive capital infusions refuse to increase lending precisely because the rules are changing on a daily basis. The same goes for investors who must not only predict what the market is going to do, but also the behavior of the Big Players. Of course, the ability to predict what the Treasury and the Fed are going to do next is substantially difficult. The result is the herd-like behavior that has been prevalent in the stock market for the last few months. When there is a high level of uncertainty in markets, participants start relying more on what they believe that others believe than the prospective yield of a particular investment. The empirical evidence presented by Koppl and his colleagues confirms these claims. Uncertainty breeds uncertainty.

I've been the lonely voice around here for TARP. While I am not ready to capitulate and attack Paulson, this argument is pretty hard to contradict.

But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

"Firms that receive capital infusions refuse to increase lending precisely because the rules are changing on a daily basis."

I'm glad to see someone else say it. Austrians like me have been saying this since the Bear Stearns fiasco -- after all, Austrian Business Cycle Theory is predicated on the idea that government intervention in markets introduces errors. Systematic errors, in fact, not just occasional misjudgments that free markets experience.

And ever since TARP was introduced, I and other Austrians have pointed out that it's not a crisis of liquidity (there's plenty of that), but a crisis of confidence. And TARP prevents credit markets from correcting themselves by further discouraging lending. It's bad enough when lenders are afraid a borrower will go under, but now there's a risk the feds will take over a borrower. Or, why lend your own money to someone, when you can wait for the feds to give you taxpayers' money to lend?

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at November 25, 2008 12:58 PM

November 24, 2008

Review Corner

Keith wants to talk about '24.' [fourth comment] Sounds good to me!

His cynical take away from the long awaited return of agent "torture when necessary" Jack Bauer was that the plight of child soldiers in the develping world was intended to be the next cause celebre in the Hollywood activism community. Being the staid, fatalistic, heartless conservative that I am, I simply viewed the child soldier issue as a sympathetic plot device for foundational purposes to the story: Now that Jack (and CTU) have saved the nation and untold thousands of her citizens from death by terrorist acts, the panty wetters in our midst are free to question their tactics. "How many people did you torture Mister Bauer?" I look forward to a vigorous defense of such methods in defense of liberty and can only hope (there's that word again) not to be disappointed.

A positive sign was the repeated scenes involving the Frenchman who drove the U.N. supply truck. Feckless at every opportunity, when the brown stuff started hitting the fan and he sanctimoniously recited, "The U.N. remains neutral in this matter" Jack told him, "Why don't you go hide in the shelter with the other children."[3:37]

Jack's back, that's for sure. But so is (the supposedly killed) Tony Almeida! And they find a way to include Chloe as well.

I'll have to grudgingly concede Keith may be on to something though... the Coalition to stop the use of child soldiers, including the "red hand" campaign, is linked prominently from the official 24 website.

But jk thinks:

Welcome to ThreeSources, tg! I have historically been the only one to question the sanctity of his Jackness.

I watched the entirety of last season (I had to, less my blog brothers would use a masonry bit on my mandibular foramen) and came to the same conclusion. Be careful, friend, we're in a distinct minority around here. Immigration or Anarcho-capitalism debate has nowhere the severity of '24' debate.

Posted by: jk at November 25, 2008 10:53 AM
But Keith thinks:

I didn't mean to start this... my bringing the subject up was to simply point out the latest cause du jour, and how I expected Congress to hold hearings on the subject. Truth be told, I couldn't even sit all the way through this week's premiere. I walked out at the point where the French blue-helmet ratted out the children to the bad guys. Of course, I took some pleasure in seeing the role of cowardly collaborator given to a Frenchman, and seeing the UN work in this fictional country the same way they did at the Lebanon-Israel border.

T. Greer is right - the show lacks reality (let's see how many "in-real-time" episodes it takes for him to return to the States, for example). After the first or maybe the second season, the plot devices become annoyingly predictable (as soon as the President's son asks the kid if he has any evidence of the financial cover-up and the kid answers he's uploaded it to his hard drive, you know he's a Dead Man Walking). And there's always the Nefarious Criminal Mastermind high up in government - really, as if our government was competent to do this effectively.

As for the clear moral judgment issue, the show is hamfisted about it at a superficial level. In the first five minutes, we learn that the bad guys use children as soldiers in their planned coup and round them up against their will for that purpose (evil!), but Jack loves children so much, he'll let them steal the present he intends to give that petulant, willful daughter of his (saintly!). The writers certainly wielded that contrast like a blunt instrument, didn't they?

My feeling is that we've always needed heroes - we want there to be larger-than-life warriors to believe in. Jack Bauer, Jack Ryan, and Peter Parker are just the logical extension of Heracles and Apollo. We want there to be a Jack Bauer, because our government certainly won't do the job we want it to do against our enemies. We want a President like Jack Ryan, because neither the one we have, the one we're getting, or the one we voted for have the fortitude or the sense to do what Ryan would. Our need for heroes springs from our disappointment with what we're faced with in reality.

How's that for an amateur mass psychoanalysis of pop culture?

Posted by: Keith at November 25, 2008 12:04 PM
But sugarchuck thinks:

Great Googooly Moogooly, I clicked on Three Sources and got Oprah Winfrey. JK knows I hold him in high esteem and T.G.'s erudition and defense of Teddy Roosevelt make him tops in my book, but ya'll are starting to sound like a bunch of nancy boy David Schusters at a turkey killing. Simply put, you are violating Sugarchuck's Mighty Fine Rule #1, "Don't be cracking on Jack!" Grounded in reality? Maybe you want to watch a show about a bunch of Brie eating bureaucrats armed with Robert's Rules of Order and their own righteous indignation, slowly working their way through the perilous subsection C, paragraph 1 of a U.N. resolution, only to see it blocked by the French at the Security Counsel. (Oh the humanity!) You'd like, perhaps, a minute by minute rendering of Foggy Bottom types working their way through the grays and haze of diplomatic minutia, fiercely substituting this word for that? Not me! I'll take Jack and his "this sides Yin that sides Yang mother F'er" sense of moral judgement every time. It takes clarity, real moral clarity to defend the country with power tools and if you don't want to take my word for it, ask a woman. Do you think Michelle Obama or Hillary Clinton are going to loose themselves in a debate over moral consequences when the fate of the free world and the safety of their children is in the hands of some lowlife terrorist with the codes to the launch sequence? No damn way. While Bill and Barak search for symbols and commonalities of mutual understanding and cooperative dialogue, Michelle is getting the Craftsman circular saw and Hillary is pulling a Diehard out of the SUV. That's moral judgement.
Keith, God Bless you, but that was a whole lot of words to say we like to see our guys kick some butt. We liked it when John Wayne did it and we like it when Jack does. And nobody does it better than Jack. Did you see the way he threw down the captured assault weapon last night? Even empty, Jack could have willed death and destruction out of that barrel and he didn't do it out of a refined sense of fair play. He knew he didn't have to kill everybody until they'd tortured him first. Then and only then did he drop everything that moved. And he saved those kids! Way to go Jack, way to go.

Posted by: sugarchuck at November 25, 2008 2:11 PM
But Keith thinks:

Sugarchuck: I don't want to see Jack kick some butt - I'd much rather see him shoot people in the thigh or or attack their throats with his bare teeth. My point is that we want to see Jack do it because we're getting the opposite in real life.

I want my country to protect its borders and go toe-to-toe with enemies foreign and domestic. Because we're not getting it in real life, though, we go to the television to get our dose of it.

I will, though, amend one thing about what I've previously written. 24 has certainly taught us at least one thing that is true to life - it's given us a series of presidents that are inept, corrupt, or testicularly challenged, or a combination of the three.

Posted by: Keith at November 25, 2008 3:21 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Except, that is, for President David Palmer. In his case it was the first lady who was some combination of those three.

Posted by: johngalt at November 25, 2008 4:01 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Except, that is, for President David Palmer. In his case it was the first lady who was some combination of those three.

Way to go Sugarchuck! I tagged out to you at just the right time.

Posted by: johngalt at November 25, 2008 4:04 PM

Best Transition Story Yet

It seems the Bush twins taught the Obama girls the fine art of jumping on the White House beds.

I like Ann Althouse's comments:

In some families, you can jump on the beds, and in some, they tell you no jumping on the beds. Both the Bushes and the Obamas allow bed jumping. Or, no, maybe Barack and Michelle are the no-jumping-on-the-beds kind of parents. And Malia and Sasha will say but Jenna and Barbara jumped on the beds -- they showed us how to jump on the beds. And Barack and Michelle will be all: The American people voted for change. No more of the failed policies of the Bush years. No more jumping on the beds.


November 23, 2008

More Cheetos, Dear?

obamaplate.jpg

Order Yours Today!

2008 Posted by John Kranz at 12:01 PM | What do you think? [0]

Congressional Hearings

Frank Beckmann suggests that the auto execs should have asked Congress some questions:

Why did members of Congress -- such as House Banking Chairman Barney Frank, Senate Banking Chairman Christopher Dodd and others -- raise fuel economy standards, adding more than $85 billion in costs as the industry was restructuring itself?

If the reason was forcing automakers to deal with higher gasoline prices, perhaps the politicians could explain why they have made fuel more scarce by blocking domestic drilling for oil and preventing new refineries from being built during the past three decades.

If global warming was the reason, perhaps the politicians could explain why some scientists now point to cooling temperatures while carbon dioxide levels continue to rise.

Our politicians like to claim the automakers have been slow to react to changing consumer demand. Perhaps they'd care to explain U.S. Energy Department figures that show flex-fuel vehicles, many made by the Detroit Three, accounted for a mere 6 percent of sales in 2007, while hybrid vehicle sales accounted for 2.6 percent of the market.

Politicians who insist on claiming that foreign manufacturers emphasize "green" technology over muscle might explain why sales last year of Toyota Tacoma and Tundra trucks were 30 percent higher than its hybrid vehicle sales.


Good questions. HT: Insty

But johngalt thinks:

Beckmann continues: "We wouldn't expect the lawmakers to apologize for their lengthy list of mistakes. We wouldn't expect them to admit their role in creating the trouble. They never do."

They never HAVE because the lame-stream media haven't held them to account. Now that "change" has come to the White House might there be "hope" for a different approach in news coverage?

Since they can't beat up on the executive branch any more, and since the judicial branch makes news far too infrequently to fuel the 24/7 news business, the lever pullers in the legislative branch may be in for some close scrutiny. It is long overdue.

Posted by: johngalt at November 23, 2008 3:20 PM
But jk thinks:

I'm less hopeful. Most of the media deeply believe that government should be legislating fuel economy standards and "breaking our addiction to oil." Even with extra time on their hands, I don't see their pushing government failures and inefficiencies.

Posted by: jk at November 23, 2008 3:40 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Lest anyone believe I've become pollyanish I'll call attention to the terms "might" "hope" and "may" in my original comment. Whether the close scrutiny actually materializes or not, it IS long overdue.

Posted by: johngalt at November 23, 2008 7:28 PM
But Keith thinks:

Close scrutiny will never happen. I'm of a mind to say that Congress' actions are perfectly consistent - that is, with the basic operating principle of Congress: "We Congressmen need for America to need us. If they don't need us, we won't get re-elected." Ergo, if there isn't a present crisis in which they can intervene so the voters will see how essential Congress is, they will invent one (climate change) or worse, cause one (sub-prime mortgages).

After all, if Congress announced tomorrow "you know, our meddling in the free market and other things about which we actually know nothing about isn't helping. We're going to trust market forces to balance themselves without our help, and take the next two weeks off," pretty soon the voters (the well-informed and intelligent ones, I mean) might wake up and realize how unneeded they really are. We might eventually wind up with limited government and a part-time Congress.

Part of the problem is that we have an electorate which would rather have a government that fiddles with the levers, instead of a goverment that is willing to trust the free market to correct itself. We want them to "Do Something!" and we have 435 amateurs who know nothing about how the system works but feels the need to "Do Something!" becaused they're terrified of being seen by the voters as doing nothing.

Couple that with a legacy media that, like Congress, has to have a constant flow of disasters to justify its existence - and if you don't believe that, imagine your local talking head on I'm-Witless News tonight saying "Congress today met for twelve minutes and realized everything will fix itself without their help. It's 6:04, but since there's no other news for us to report, we're going to fill the rest of the hour with a re-run of 'Bewitched,' and we'll be back at 6:50 to tell you about sports, weather, and what Madonna wore to her divorce hearing." Imagine your local newpaper having to move the grocery coupons to the front section in order to justify the paper and ink.

Did anyone notice how "24" last night was a two-hour public service announcement about the ills of child soldiers? Let's be honest, civilized nations don't use child soldiers - tin-horn dictators, rogue leaders, rebels and terrorists do, and they don't feel a need to respect outside strictures on their behavior. Nonetheless, I fully expect Congress to hold hearings and enact some meaningless laws on the subject. Now that we're wising up to climate change, they're going to need a new crisis about which they can sound important and effectual. I'll bet a nickel none of you gave much thought to the subject of child soldiers in the last two months. Soon, people will need to decide what color ribbon to wear in order to Raise Awareness about it.

What, cynical? Me?

Posted by: Keith at November 24, 2008 12:13 PM

November 22, 2008

Kommissar Obama

Central planning and government spending have such a great record in the world, President-elect Obama is going to implement them here, so that America can reap their benefits:

WASHINGTON President-elect Barack Obama promoted an economic plan Saturday he said would create 2.5 million jobs by rebuilding roads and bridges and modernizing schools while developing alternative energy sources and more efficient cars.

"These aren't just steps to pull ourselves out of this immediate crisis. These are the long-term investments in our economic future that have been ignored for far too long," Obama said in the weekly Democratic radio address.


People actually voted for this. Blog Sister Dagny always tries to get opponents to explain the virtues of Socialism. I like to ask "what is it that government does so well, that you think they should do energy, cars, and health care?"

But johngalt thinks:

Let's see:

Let roadway infrastructure go to pot while we spend fuel tax revenues on bikepaths and light rail lines ... so now we need new government spending on transportation?

Allow American school children to fall behind those of other industrialized nations in math and science because we teach "whole child" self-esteem through multiculturalism mumbo jumbo instead ... then we must "fix" the problem by installing T1 lines to more inner city schools?

Tax and regulate the living s#!+ out of the most plentiful and economic fuel source in the history of man (and while we're at it, project upon oil such villany as to make it just half as evil as George W. Bush) ... and now, magically, the inefficient and unreliable collection of energy from the elements is the savior of mankind?

Gee, one has to wonder why these particular solutions to long-standing problems "have been ignored for far too long."

Posted by: johngalt at November 23, 2008 12:10 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

*mumbles something about Bastiat and broken windows, then sighs*

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at November 23, 2008 6:09 PM

Pretty Funny

Blog Friend T. Greer forwards this link. Here's a screenshot:

bailout.gif


Here's mine

Posted by John Kranz at 11:07 AM | What do you think? [0]

November 21, 2008

Post Cable

I'll put this under "Media" but it may belong more to technology (or personal economics).

My introductory rate on cable-TV expires next week (have I really lived here six months?) and I could not find a replacement at a price point that I like. So it is goodbye to Larry Kudlow. I ordered an antenna on Amazon and I intend to live on broadcast, internet and purchased programming.

I debated getting the AppleTV box when I moved but found the TiVo handles that task and plays well with cable. So I'm keeping the TiVo, which gets me access to YouTube and a bunch of Internet video (The Onion, NYTimes Politics, &c), plus paid downloads from Amazon Video-on-Demand. I figure I can buy a lot for the $65 I won't be sending Comcast.

I will miss Kudlow, big time. I'll haunt CNBC.com for clips and will of course read his blogs. There are a couple shows on FOXNews that I like but I don't think I'll die without The Beltway Boys. The Journal Editorial Report will be missed, but they put a lot of video online.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb suggests in The Black Swan that we should read less newspapers and more books. My cable bill will buy a new book each week and more time to read.

Unless the Avs make a run for the Cup this year, I think I am cool. You can place your bets on how many Kudlowless days jk can take.


But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Even if I grew to like him, he'd be my ONLY favorite Senator. Similarly, I have a "favorite" in the House, and he's the only one in there who I like.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at November 21, 2008 3:49 PM
But Keith thinks:

Whichever state any of you are from, I'll trade you mine for Inhofe. In fact, I'm having a two-for-one sale: you can have both of mine for just one. Call within the next ten minutes, and I'll throw in free shipping and handling, and you can have San Fran Nan in the House as well.

Operators are standing by.

Posted by: Keith at November 21, 2008 5:22 PM
But jk thinks:

Ha. You'd have to throw in a few ShamWows, Keith. Though my illustrious awful backbencher Congressman (Rep Mark Udall) will be my Senator in a few weeks, so I won't talk. (Salazar may be the least worst Democrat -- point of pride?)

I like Jon Kyl from Arizona, and I will always hold Leader McConnell in high esteem for McConnell v FEC and opposition to a flag burning amendment.

Posted by: jk at November 21, 2008 5:57 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Keith, I live in New York, so mine rival yours. Not only is Hillary my junior senator, but her official residence of Chappaqua is a neighboring village.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at November 23, 2008 6:13 PM

We Won.

A group is promoting tomorrow, 11-22, as V-I Day to celebrate a US Victory in Iraq.

I haven't wanted to step too far on the sunny side of a fragile situation but today I am ready to claim victory. A prescient pundit (Jay Nordlinger? Mark Steyn?) said -- way back when -- that if we do well in Iraq, we can look forward to their protesting against us, that a free country that hates America was a sign of success. Well.

Yahoo/AP

BAGHDAD Thousands of followers of a radical Shiite cleric protested a proposed U.S.-Iraqi security deal Friday, burning an effigy of President George W. Bush in the same square where Iraqis beat a toppled Saddam Hussein statue five years ago.

Chanting and waving flags, Muqtada al-Sadr's followers filled Firdous Square to protest the pact that would allow American troops to stay for three more years.


I saw video of shouting and pushing in the Iraqi Parliament yesterday. Folks in suits and nice haircuts were throwing stacks of paper. This blog is named for Natan Sharansky's book that bifurcates between fear societies and free societies. There have been a million mistakes in Iraq, and I am sympathetic to an informed and reasoned suggestion that we should never have gone in. But we have flipped a fear society to a free society -- and I will never apologize for that.

But Keith thinks:

johngalt: that day can't come soon enough - and with him already being branded a "house Negro" by one of their number, that day will arrive rapidly. The real question is what Obama will do about it when it happens.

I dread the day that these same people decide we're weak and spineless enough to make their next attack on American soil. We could run an office pool on when and where that will happen. I wonder if his fanatical groupies will figure out he's not who they thought he was before that day comes.

Posted by: Keith at November 21, 2008 5:17 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

But those people yelling in parliament can take up guns very quickly... heck, most of them were terrorists (or something close to it) before they got elected.

The problem comes when the factions cannot settle their disputes by means of yelling at each other. Once that happens, it is all too easy to pick your guns back up...

I also do not think it is fear of U.S. retaliation that has kept terrorists from attacking America. Honestly, we can act spineless or stoic- those bent on reaping terror will do so if they can. To imagine otherwise is to lull yourself into a false sense of security.

~T. Greer, nitpickingly pointing out that the "house negro" statement came from Zalwahiri, al-Qaeda's 2nd in command- quite different from the Mahdi mob burning Bush's effigies.

Posted by: T. Greer at November 21, 2008 7:55 PM
But jk thinks:

And the Germans could descend into Socialism -- no, wait a minute -- but that does not nullify their liberation from fascism.

I'm thinking that we have provided Benjamin Franklin’s famous "Republic if you can keep it." Sure it could go bad but its present signs are extremely encouraging.

I hope you're right that our promised future spinelessness will be without cost. Closing up Gitmo, sending terrorists home, pulling out of Iraq on a domestic political schedule and treating future attacks with law enforcement and not military response might scare the hummus out of our enemies but it seems counter-intuitive.

Posted by: jk at November 22, 2008 11:57 AM
But T. Greer thinks:

jk, I don't know if I can buy that argument. After all, couldn't have Bush said the same thing back in 2003 when Saddam was ousted? We did liberate the Iraqis from the Baathists- surely the next five years of violence were just the Iraqis failing to "keep" their society free?

Honestly, I have problems seeing where the cost of our spinelessness comes in. Your average terrorist is a fanatic. He expects to die for his cause. Gitmo is nothing but a source of anger for him. The supposed toughness of America really is an irrelevant factor.

Let me put it this way- did Al Qaeda decide to launch a terrorist attack in 2001 because we elected a Texas wussie?

I will qualify this by saying that withdrawing from Iraq is a bit different than the other examples you mention- like the videos of roadside bombs, footage of American troops withdrawing from Iraq could help the terrorists by letting them claim that they won. However, I think the link between Domestic treatment of terrorists and number of terrorists committed to harming the U.S. is small.

~T. Greer

Posted by: T. Greer at November 22, 2008 8:21 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"The supposed toughness of America really is an irrelevant factor."

I'll argue with that one. The "average" terrorist may be a fanatic but far fewer of them will sign on with a group that is clearly getting its ass kicked around the world by a determined adversary. Volunteering to be a Jihadi Joe was far more attractive when the biggest threats to your existence were UN resolutions, occasional rocket explosions at the neighborhood milk factory, and the very real possibility of jail time should you be unlucky enough to get arrested while visiting New York City.

Posted by: johngalt at November 22, 2008 8:56 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

@JG: Someone who chooses to hijack an airplane and ram it into a building is prepared to die. I have a hard time believing that such a man really cares if his failure to kill himself will result in CIA torture or jail time.

Of course, there is a difference between destroying terrorist groups and their affiliates across the world and increasing the level of punishment the odd terrorist receives if he is unsuccessful.

One works and one doesn't.

Posted by: T. Greer at November 22, 2008 9:28 PM

November 20, 2008

Quote of the Day

Babel, for which [Guillermo] Arriaga wrote the screenplay, was shown on the afternoon of October 31. I had not seen it previously, and almost walked out. It is truly an awful film, although it has a few intriguing sequences. Any one of the overlapping plots might have made an interesting movie by itself -- except for the story of the deaf, nymphomaniac, Japanese high-school coed --but this is one example of the whole being less than the sum of its parts. -- Rick Sincere at the Virginia Film Festival
Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 7:09 PM | What do you think? [3]
But johngalt thinks:

I fully agree. It was a rambling, disjointed attempt to show, it appeared, how much damage just one single gun can cause to many people all over the world. (As though human beings and their free will were as random and disinterested as the stones by the side of the road.)

We didn't walk out - we were watching on DVD - but instead kept watching to see if it would ever redeem itself or if the entire film was really that pointless. It didn't. It was.

Posted by: johngalt at November 21, 2008 1:54 AM
But jk thinks:

I haven't seen it; I just enjoyed the review and found it difficult to imagine a movie that could not be saved by a deaf, nymphomaniac, Japanese high-school coed.

Posted by: jk at November 21, 2008 12:21 PM
But johngalt thinks:

And said co-ed was fully nude at one point. But no, she still couldn't save it. Sad.

Posted by: johngalt at November 21, 2008 3:55 PM

Putting the 'Al' in "Causality'

Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monsters:

You may be interested to know that global warming, earthquakes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters are a direct effect of the shrinking numbers of Pirates since the 1800s. For your interest, I have included a graph of the approximate number of pirates versus the average global temperature over the last 200 years. As you can see, there is a statistically significant inverse relationship between pirates and global temperature.
piratesarecool4.gif
The science is settled. Hat-tip: Samizdata, where Samizdat Michael Jennings points out "the clear increase in the number of pirates indicates that global warming is receding as a problem. This is good to see."
But Keith thinks:

Do these figures include privateers? And if so, could the case be made that privateering was an early attempt by government to control global warming through the use of state-sponsored restocking of the pirate population?

My mind is a raging torrent, flooded with rivulets of thought cascading into a waterfall of possibilities that the recent spate of Somali piracy is actually orchestrated by Al Gore to combat rising temperatures. Is this a part of the Kyoto protocols?

Posted by: Keith at November 20, 2008 7:09 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

I dunno, but somebody had better go back and get a sh*t-load of dimes.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at November 20, 2008 7:34 PM

Welcome to the Blogroll

I've been enjoying the thoughtful comments from Keith and am adding his blog, STAND, to the blogroll. I also encourage ThreeSourcers to check out the blog of Alhambra Bible Fellowship, where he is Pastor (that's right, guys, let's show a little decorum around here...)

But Keith thinks:

I'm humbled, and thank you - but don't feel obliged to worry about the decorum on account of me. The ambience here is great just the way it is, and I wouldn't spoil it for the world. Besides, I also frequent some pretty harsh blogs; I'm not as fragile as the job title conveys.

Besides, you've read my comments here - you've let me shoot my mouth off without banning me...

Posted by: Keith at November 20, 2008 4:14 PM
But jk thinks:

Fear not. I'm pretty sure there won't be any more decorous behavior around here than usual. Our heroes are the Flyers fans who boo Santa Claus.

Posted by: jk at November 20, 2008 4:36 PM

But Keith thinks:

Climate change is fading as a priority in the Pacific Rim as the gloomy state of the global economy takes precedence, a survey of opinion leaders showed Wednesday.

And you guys thought this global depression thingy was going to be bad.


Wow, flawless timing on the part of Governator Schwarzenegger and his "international climate change summit" being held this week. There's a deliciously ironic feeling I get from that.

So, the governator holds this conference, at which Obama shares a taped message promising to "engage vigorously in these negotiations and help lead the world toward a new era of global cooperation on climate change" and further wreck America's economy, just as the world is losing interest in the issue of climate change and turning their attention to the economy. Brilliant! I wonder how much jet fuel was burned to ferry the 800-or-so attendees to the conference.

And Schwarzenegger promises to spend - er, invest - more taxpayer money that California's economy doesn't have to combat global warmer (or cooling, or whatever the manufactured flavor of the week it), while California's unionized teachers and a bevy of elected officials go hysterical that we're not pouring enough money into the bottomless black hole of our useless public education system.

We're trading a phony crisis invented by liberals (anthropogenic climate change) for a real crisis manufactured by liberals (the tanking economy), and the liberals swear they're the only ones that can fix it.

The inmates are running the asylum...

Posted by: Keith at November 20, 2008 2:59 PM
But Keith thinks:

By the way, forgive the typos, such as "warmer" for "warming," "it" for "is," and the like. I'm caffeine-challenged today.

And thank you for the reciprocal blogroll posting! Y'all are awesome -

Posted by: Keith at November 20, 2008 3:05 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Keith! I love your comments! And coming from a Pastor? This is almost enough to get me believing in God again!

Ah, well... I'm sure we'll cross swords on a morality issue now and then.

Posted by: johngalt at November 20, 2008 10:15 PM
But Keith thinks:

johngalt: even Robin Hood and his Merry Men had Friar Tuck in their company, and Shepherd Book had his place on Serenity.

Besides, where else are you going to find a pastor who thinks Objectivism is well-suited to Christianity... well, except for that inconvenient atheism thing? I'm a huge fan of that namesake of yours, and Atlas Shrugged should be required reading for anyone holding public office.

Crossing swords? "As iron sharpens iron, so does one man sharpen another." You and I will certainly keep each other sharp...

Posted by: Keith at November 21, 2008 2:39 AM
But jk thinks:

And a "Firefly" reference? Welcome home.

Posted by: jk at November 21, 2008 11:00 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes, that was my point exactly: A pastor who cites Rand. Quite a rare gem indeed. Welcome! By all means, welcome.

I look forward to our discussions about why gay marriage should never be condoned by the state - and why abortion should never be banned by it.

Now, as a reader of Atlas Shrugged you should know better than to cite Robin Hood as a symbol of virtue! Mal Reynolds, yes.

Posted by: johngalt at November 21, 2008 11:03 AM

A Real Middle Class Tax Cut

I have had my differences with Speaker Gingrich. Many, many as it happens. But I have always respected his ideas and his pragmatism.

Today, he pens an excellent guest editorial in the WSJ. Gingrich would love to cut corporate taxes and marginal rates on the most productive American workers -- but he watched the elections results and knows that the evil "rich" are not in line under an Obama Administration and 111th Congress. So he suggests stripping the welfare portion of Obama's plan and enacting a real middle class tax cut.

For a real middle-class tax cut, we should cut the 25% income tax rate that now applies to single workers earning $32,550 to $78,850, and married couples earning $65,100 to $131,450. We should reduce that rate down to the 15% rate paid by workers below these income levels. That would, in effect, establish a flat-rate tax of 15% for close to 90% of American workers.

Marginal tax rates for middle-income families in the 25% tax bracket are too high. Add in effective payroll tax rates of 15% and state income taxes, and these workers are laboring under marginal tax rates of close to 50%. No wonder middle-income wage growth has slowed sharply. Reducing the marginal tax rates for these middle-income earners would lead to income increases for middle-income workers, just as reducing excessive marginal tax rates for higher-income workers did, going all the way back to the Kennedy tax cuts of the 1960s.


I think he's got it here. President Obama comes through on a campaign promise, creates a fairer, flatter tax system, provides a supply-side stimulus to the economy (shhh, we won't call it supply-side outside of ThreeSources).

Good politics, good policy, good economics.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:16 PM | What do you think? [11]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

They say that laughter extends one's life and, in this case, there is no additional charge to The Refugee's friend, JK.

The Refugee is mainly concerned about "stimulus" and "fairness" (read: entitlements) that will never, ever go away. The best case for supply-side stimulous is generating enough to pay for the government's largesse. Better to never have the largesse in the first place, thus never have to find creative ways to pay for it.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at November 20, 2008 2:47 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

So Gingrich wants to cut the top rates to...what? As I pointed out, even if they're equal with everything else, it means that someone who makes more money will pay more taxes, which tend to give most of their benefit to those who pay the least taxes.

What if Reagan had been pragmatic, believing it was impossible to cut the top rate from 70% to 35%, believing a Democratic Congress would never go along? What if JFK had been pragmatic in cutting taxes, not wanting to alienate his party?

The time for "pragmatism" is over. It's gotten us nowhere. It's time to give government the finger, not accept what trifles it lets us keep.

George W. Bush showed us eight years of "pragmatism" -- working with Democrats to achieve the most bloated federal budget, and the biggest increase in the national debt, since FDR. With the increase in the national debt, I'm merely talking as a % of GDP; in absolute numbers, it's the biggest ever.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at November 21, 2008 1:03 AM
But johngalt thinks:

The Refugee isn't the only one delivering punch lines. "So he suggests stripping the welfare portion of Obama's plan..." But that is one of the planks on which the man ran his campaign. The administration-in-waiting and the Democrats in congress believe they have a mandate! And even RINO governor Arnold Schwarzenegger capitulates that Republicans "should move away from some of their core principles, those conservative principles and start spending on programs Americans want."

Gingrich's closing argument:

"Because of the highly beneficial effect of these middle-class rate reductions on our economy, and the freedom they would give workers to spend, save or invest their money as they choose, this proposal would likely enjoy broad public support and present a viable alternative to the liberal social purposes of President-elect Obama's tax credits."

Yeah... I can see Rahm Emmanuel pushing this in the oval office. Can't you?

Gingrich's new role is, in my early view, that of "shadow" president to show us what the actual president will NEVER do.

Posted by: johngalt at November 21, 2008 10:44 AM
But jk thinks:

I repeat: tough room. I repeat: damn.

Perry: President Reagan made a Faustian bargain with Jim Wright: give me my tax cuts I'll give you your spending. As I told br, I'll take that trade today. But you can't say that was principled winner-take-all small government devoid of pragmatism. I'll tolerate a bit of revisionism about our 40th, but you're going too far.

Jg: Obama has perfect cover to blow off that part of his campaign promise: I am delivering a tax cut to all middle class taxpayers (I told you you'd get a tax cut!) but, in this economy, we are going to use more "targeted" methods to deliver relief to Americans in need (Democrats love "targeted;" it provides maximum control).

Plus there are a couple of Republicans left in Congress. This is a sop to them and checks off the promise for "new bipartisanship, working together, Kumbye-frikken-ya..."

A good, pragmatic, workable suggestion to which the GOP can aspire in a rough climate.

Posted by: jk at November 21, 2008 11:11 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Please bear with me for a while JK. At the moment I've got the "hoist the jolly roger and begin slitting throats" mentality that says "Please, implement all of the collectivist crap of your wildest dreams so this house of cards can collapse and the producers among us can start building anew." I told dagny, "You need to let go of the idea that our present mixed economy can, or should, be saved." Sounds vaguely familiar doesn't it?

Posted by: johngalt at November 21, 2008 4:00 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Perry: President Reagan made a Faustian bargain with Jim Wright: give me my tax cuts I'll give you your spending. As I told br, I'll take that trade today. But you can't say that was principled winner-take-all small government devoid of pragmatism. I'll tolerate a bit of revisionism about our 40th, but you're going too far.

I've always been at the forefront to point out that Reagan "played ball" with the Dems, signing off on their social spending bills in exchange for tax cuts (and to a lesser extent, military spending). However, that wasn't "pragmatic" by any means, but rather a good trick to play on the Dems. What they didn't realize that Reagan's tax cuts spurred such economic growth, resulting in more tax revenue that helped (but didn't completely) pay for the new spending increases. The CBO's data shows that after the necessary recession (resulting from stabiilizing monetary policy) and Reagan's tax cuts were passed, growth in federal outlays exceeded growth in tax revenues in only one year: 1985.

What we have with Bush and Gingrich are token efforts in tax cuts. I want a serious tax cut plan that will inspire Americans, even something "almost there" like Fred Thompson's two-bracket proposal. Remember the urban legend of "640K ought to be enough for anybody" that Bill Gates supposedly said? How about "A top tax rate of 10% ought to be enough for anybody"?

Bruce Bartlett was really right all along. He warned us in "Impostor" all that time ago that tax rebates are crap, and even the 2003 cuts are minor tax cuts compared to what Reagan and Kennedy did. (You didn't address Kennedy, btw.)

Did you ever consider why the GOP retook Congress in 1994? It wasn't because of pragmatism. It's because they took bold steps to present themselves as real conservatives. Sadly, their talk was cheap. Or if you want to be accurate, their talk was paid for by American taxpayers.

On the flip side, do you see Democrats being "pragmatic" now? Hell no: they're full-steam-ahead on their socialism, and they didn't hide it at all in the last two campaign cycles in which they crushed the GOP.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at November 21, 2008 4:23 PM

November 19, 2008

The Doctor is In

Professor Mankiw links to a site that analyzes your blog and you. Here's what they think of ThreeSources:

INTP - The Thinkers

The logical and analytical type. They are especialy [sic] attuned to difficult creative and intellectual challenges and always look for something more complex to dig into. They are great at finding subtle connections between things and imagine far-reaching implications.

They enjoy working with complex things using a lot of concepts and imaginative models of reality. Since they are not very good at seeing and understanding the needs of other people, they might come across as arrogant, impatient and insensitive to people that need some time to understand what they are talking about.


We really only seem arrogant, impatient and insensitive to morons who don't understand what we are talking about. I ain't too worried.

But Keith thinks:

Great minds obviously think alike - both mine, stand.townhall.com and alhbible.wordpress.com, also score as INTP (though the graphical charts come out very different.

I'm going to waste the whole night testing sites I read...

Posted by: Keith at November 19, 2008 7:36 PM
But jk thinks:

It seems pretty interesting. My first thought was that it's like Astrology: tell people how swell they are and they think "wow, this really works." I ran it on my lovely wife's blog and it seemed 3 for 3 (Mankiw, 3Sources, tatergosum).

I'm not sure about the next two but I don't know the people that well. Of course, we Geminis are pretty naturally skeptical...

Posted by: jk at November 20, 2008 11:10 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I'm not so sure the analysis of my Eidelblog is completely right. It's true a lot of my posts can be economically "theoretical" and "abstract," but I apply principles to the real world all the time.

INTJ - The Scientists

The long-range thinking and individualistic type. They are especially good at looking at almost anything and figuring out a way of improving it - often with a highly creative and imaginative touch. They are intellectually curious and daring, but might be pshysically hesitant to try new things.

The Scientists enjoy theoretical work that allows them to use their strong minds and bold creativity. Since they tend to be so abstract and theoretical in their communication they often have a problem communcating their visions to other people and need to learn patience and use conrete examples. Since they are extremly good at concentrating they often have no trouble working alone.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at November 20, 2008 1:57 PM

Quote of the Day

Is [French Corporatism] a good system? No, it's terrible. Inefficient and all that. But now consider what Congress is considering. An oversight board for GM run by Congress? Are you out of your mind? Somehow the unfathomably inefficient US auto industry when mated with the bafflingly corrupt Congress will result in something better? If we are going to go socialist, could we at least do it in a semi-intelligent way? Could we at least imitate Old Europe and not Latin America? -- Tom Smith
Smith adds: "Barney Frank really is the most dangerous man in America. How soon and how hard Obama steps on him is going to be the measure of his presidency. Frank is just a flat out crony-corporatist-socialist, a plunder puppy, who wants his hands on the economy so he and his pals can run it out of Washington."
Posted by John Kranz at 3:50 PM | What do you think? [5]
But Keith thinks:

And as for Congress overseeing GM - a government that can't balance it's own checkbook has no business trying to tell private industry how to run theirs. Most Congressmen can't remember the last productive private-sector job, assuming they ever had one.

If Congress tries to run the Big Three, look forward to driving Checker Marathon cabs with square wheels, upholstered with inflated currency, and pulled along the streets by platoons of manacled taxpayers.

Posted by: Keith at November 19, 2008 4:08 PM
But jk thinks:

Is Congress already running the big three? CAFE standards, union demands, environmental controls, the "Liddy-Dole-Brake-Light" &c. The government seems to be making a lot of decisions for them.

This could account for GM's $3 stock price, 0.15/$1 corporate binds and 7000 bps risk spread over T-bills.

Posted by: jk at November 20, 2008 12:32 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Look on the bright side. If the gub'mint takes over the auto industry, it should be backed by "the full faith and credit of the US government." Therefore, they should become triple-A rated with a zero bps spread over T-bills. Surprising that Barney Frank hasn't picked up on this one.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at November 20, 2008 1:28 PM
But jk thinks:

Your man Barnet was on Kudlow last night.

I have respected Rep. Frank's intellect and grasp of economics though I disagree with his polity. He can at least talk to Kudlow and understand the questions, unlike Senator Stabenow or, to be fair, a bunch of our 535 Economists-in-Chief. Last night, though, he was untethered and railed on about class warfare of bailing out AIG yet worrying about overpaid UAW workers. We are in for a very long two years.

Posted by: jk at November 20, 2008 1:59 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Ahem, the result of the American automaker bailout is right in front of us: what's been happening with AIG? AIG needed just a "bridge loan" that it would pay back by selling off assets, we were told. The loan would allow it to reorganize.

Of course, things didn't go as planned, and it needed another infusion to the tune of another $65 billion. We can expect the same with the Big Thieves. Do the math: GM loses $1.5 billion in a month. Even if it gets half of the $25 billion, which is the perfect incentive NOT to change, it'll last GM just 8 months.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at November 21, 2008 1:10 AM

Correcting The Refugee

The Refugee has ranted on these web pages to slam the gold-plated labor agreements as the root of Detroit's financial ills. However, in today's WSJ Louis Woodhill of the Club for Growth points to Congress's CAFE standards as the culprit:

It is difficult to overstate the damage that CAFE has done to GM over the years. The entire purpose of CAFE is to force companies like GM to do something other than build and sell the vehicles that would earn them the greatest profit . . . CAFE has bled GM of tens of billions of dollars in profits over the years. If they had all of those dollars in the bank today, they would not be on the brink of bankruptcy. CAFE forced GM to build millions of small cars and sell them at a loss. To make matters worse, CAFE made it illegal for GM to exploit its single most profitable brand, Cadillac.

While not backing off of his position regarding the untenable labor agreements, The Refugee stipulates that Mr. Woodhill's analysis is spot on. Don't expect to see any hearings on Congress's role in the whole episode, however.

Economics and Markets Posted by Boulder Refugee at 12:07 PM | What do you think? [6]
But jk thinks:

The lead editorial today suggests that merely dropping the CAFE standards would keep them afloat. Allowing Chrysler to average foreign cars into its fleet ratings. But the Democrats will not trade their green bona fides for union jobs. Y'know if it weren't going to cost so much, this would be fun to watch!

Posted by: jk at November 19, 2008 12:59 PM
But jk thinks:

Also ignored are the insane dealer contracts. GM has three times the brands and five times the dealers of Toyota. All of these are state regulated and none will be broken without a Chapter 11 reorg.

Posted by: jk at November 19, 2008 1:01 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

You bring up a very interesting point, JK: a trade-off between the green lobby and the union lobby. The only way the Democrats can satisfy both is using taxpayer dollars to subsized a broken business model. Oy, vay!

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at November 19, 2008 1:25 PM
But Keith thinks:

I don't see this as an either/or situation. To Hell with CAFE, and to Hell with the UAW. They both violate sound free-market capitalism principles. Scrap 'em both.

Unchain the ingenuity and the wealth-building capacity of America, and the world will see what we can do.

Posted by: Keith at November 19, 2008 4:02 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Union excesses - yes.
CAFE coercion of Big 3 fiduciary decisions - yes.

But while we're enumerating the real causes for supposed "market failure" in the auto industry let's not forget the artificial causes of inflated oil prices that compounded the car makers' troubles.

Whether or not environmentalist self-destruction is a communist plot to bring down the United States in a way that the USSR could not, it may well do so.

Posted by: johngalt at November 19, 2008 4:24 PM
But Keith thinks:

johngalt: you're absolutely right, and we could talk for days about the causes of the oil prices. Thank you for boldly stating they are artificial.

I hope you'll agree the much-touted "credit crisis" is not so great a factor; the Big Three were in trouble long before the present "credit crisis."

As for your last line, I can't say for certain that the environmental movement is deliberately intending to destroy America (as we can now say the Vietnam-era "peace movement" was), but it is inarguably anti-Western, anti-market forces, and anti-rational. Accidentally or intentionally, as I love to say, the greens are all reds.

Posted by: Keith at November 19, 2008 8:59 PM

Not Evil Just Wrong

I hyped Phelim McAleer's Documentary Mine Your Own Business to an almost annoying level last year. McAleer uses the documentary format to show Bastiat's "unseen:" the jobs and development that do not happen in developing nations when mining projects are stopped by environmentalists.

I get email today of a new one from McAleer and Ann McElhinney:

We have very good news about our latest film Not Evil Just Wrong. The documentary has been selected to premiere at the Amsterdam International Documentary Film Festival, the largest and most prestigious documentary film festival in the world. The world premiere will be on Friday 21st November at 10.30 am. It would be amazing if you could come and join with us in celebrating the launch of the film and hopefully the beginning of a real debate about Global Warming.

Not Evil Just Wrong features a very evil looking photo of VP Al Gore and seeks to discuss "The True Cost of Global Warming Hysteria."


November 17, 2008

The Two Party System, Finally Explained

Prince succinctly nails the two major parties in America. In a profile in The New Yorker, Prince is interviewed by Claire Hoffman who notes "Princes voice was surprisingly deep, like that of a much larger man." And a much bigger thinker as well:

People with moneymoney like thatare not affected by the stock market, and theyre not freaking out over anything. Theyre just watching. So heres how it is: youve got the Republicans, and basically they want to live according to this. He pointed to a Bible. But theres the problem of interpretation, and youve got some churches, some people, basically doing things and saying it comes from here, but it doesnt. And then on the opposite end of the spectrum youve got blue, youve got the Democrats, and theyre, like, You can do whatever you want. Gay marriage, whatever. But neither of them is right.

Whole thing, like, trust me. Hat-tip: The Corner

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 7:14 PM | What do you think? [1]
But AlexC thinks:

The next paragraph....

When asked about his perspective on social issues—gay marriage, abortion—Prince tapped his Bible and said, “God came to earth and saw people sticking it wherever and doing it with whatever, and he just cleared it all out. He was, like, ‘Enough.’ ”

For a rockstar, Prince has been quite ambiguous with his politics... kind of like Bob Dylan.

Maybe he's a South Park conservative?

Posted by: AlexC at November 18, 2008 12:04 PM

Bush On Capitalism

I understand Jesse Jackson is not too big on the 20th Amendment:

"All of that talk of bipartisanship begins now," Jackson said. "And the new president deserves his vision to be implemented immediately."

But I will close the last weeks of his administration with a few kind words and thoughts. Heres Larry Kudlow, with a laudatory review of W's G-20 speech:
Heres another uplifting passage from Mr. Bush: Free-market capitalism is far more than an economic theory. It is the engine of social mobility the highway to the American Dream. And it is what transformed America from a rugged frontier to the greatest economic power in history a nation that gave the world the steamboat and the airplane, the computer and the CAT scan, the Internet and the iPod.

Capping all this off, Bush said, The triumph of free-market capitalism has been proven across time, geography, culture, and faith. And it would be a terrible mistake to allow a few months of crisis to undermine 60 years of success.


I don't think that sentiment is shared by the 44th -- or, to be fair, his opponent.

But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Or the 43rd president. Now only if Dubya practiced what he preached, other than a tax cut? (Tax rebates don't count.)

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at November 18, 2008 1:38 PM

Pigouvian Swine!

Professor Mankiw provides the best reason to oppose his beloved Pigou Club.

Each time the state of Alaska raised its alcoholic beverage tax, fewer deaths were caused by or related to alcohol, according to the study that examined 28 years of data.

When Alaska raised its alcohol tax in 1983, deaths caused by or related to alcohol dropped 29 percent. A 2002 tax increase was followed by an 11 percent reduction, according to the study published in the American Journal of Public Health.

"Increasing alcohol taxes saves lives; that's the bottom line," said the study's lead author, Dr. Alexander Wagenaar, a professor at the University of Florida's Department of Epidemiology and Health Policy Research....


Give our illustrious legislators the green light for a carbon tax to enact public good, and then click on your stopwatches. It will be seconds before the tax code will be adjusted to punish liquor, trans fats, video games, with no end in sight.

But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Here in New York (in the city proper), trans fats were simply banned. But cigarette taxes have been massively hiked since Bloomberg took over from Giuliani.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at November 17, 2008 2:44 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes, so-called "sin" taxes are a bad idea. But a "carbon" tax isn't just a bad idea, it's the 21st century version of soviet-style economic planning. And depending on the size of the tax, it could reverse the prosperity gains of the industrial revolution.

Posted by: johngalt at November 18, 2008 10:58 AM

Daily Anger

If you wanna get mad, watch this. William Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn come out to share their views. And if you can watch it without yelling at the screen three times, you get the ThreeSources Calm Award of the day.

Hat-tip: Instapundit

2008 Posted by John Kranz at 12:05 PM | What do you think? [0]

Camel Blogging

Blog friend Perry shares the sights of New York City.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:21 AM | What do you think? [0]

November 16, 2008

Change 3.0

Awesome.

The candidate of hope and change has changed again.

Apparently, Obama has changed his position from his speech at AIPAC. In early June, he told the Israeli-supporting political action group that Jerusalem must remain undivided, drawing thunderous applause and roars of criticism later from Palestinian groups. Within hours, Obama retreated to the Bush administration position that Jerusalem should be left to the two sides to negotiate in the final settlement.

Welcome to Obama 3.0 on Jerusalem. Now he has switched sides to the exact opposite of what he argued at AIPAC. One has to wonder what all of those Jewish voters who supported Obama will think of this new position on Israels borders and security, but somehow I doubt it would get thunderous applause at AIPAC.


Leading Israeli Prime Minister candidate Tzipi Livni supports the plan (the Saudi peace plan) in the general, while it is opposed by her rival for the position former Prime Minister (and Pennsylvania native) Benjamin Netanyahu.

2008 Posted by AlexC at 11:57 AM | What do you think? [3]
But jk thinks:

If I might be racist, anti-Semitic, and partisan in one comment, "One has to wonder" how Jewish voters can consistently, reflexively support Democratic candidates when the GOP has been such a better friend to Israel. At least African Americans get a little policy from the Ds that they mindlessly elect.

Did I leave anybody out? Yeah, those damned Armenians! What gives, huh?

Posted by: jk at November 16, 2008 12:59 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

The Refugee had an interesting discussion with a Jewish friend (a Republican) before the election. That friend forwarded an article from the Cleveland Jewish News, that shed a great deal of light on the subject. The Refugee concluded that support of Israel is a threshold issue for American Jews. That is, if both candidates cross the threshold, then Israel is a non-issue and economic/social issues predominate (on which most Jews are overwhelmingly liberal). Obama crossed that threshold for the election, but it would be interesting to know how many Jewish voters would eventually like a Mulligan.

The Refugee asked another (non-practicing) Jewish friend if she thought Obama would militarally attack Iran if it attacked Israel. She said, "Oh, absolutely!" The Refugee wishes that he shared her confidence. However, he suspects that any response would be Clinton-like: three cruise missiles and an aspirin factory.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at November 17, 2008 11:41 AM
But jk thinks:

Hey, I know a Jewish Repoublican. No doubt it is the same guy! We should all go out some night...

Posted by: jk at November 17, 2008 1:17 PM

November 15, 2008

Blast From the Past

An Insty post dated 9-15-2001:

BE PATRIOTIC: BUY SOMETHING. That's what Scott Norvell says and he's got a point. I went to the mall yesterday, and it was deserted. It's actually magnifying the terrorism's damage when people stay home and the economy suffers.

Okay, people will make up for lost time soon. But going out to a movie, or dinner, or shopping isn't just good for the economy. It's a way of carrying on life as normal. That's a victory of sorts, too.


President Bush has been completely maligned for telling people to "go shopping" after 9/11. I forget what/how/if he said, but it has joined the lore of President GHWB and the supermarket scanner and VP Quayle's "You Say Poh-taht-oe." When you remember those days and the feeling that we would never return to "normalcy" (Thanks, President Harding!) that we enjoy today, it was pretty decent advice.

Hat-tip: An older, wiser Insty who thinks we may soon be called into service again: "We shall fight them in the strip malls, we shall fight them in the restaurants, we shall fight them online -- we shall never surrender!"


Worldwide Economic Collapse

That's what the press and politicians are warning of, is it not? Johngalt's dad reassures that "as soon as Obama is inaugurated the press will emphasize positive news instead of negative and congress can then back away from the cliff and allow the market, as regulated and jerry-rigged as it is, to naturally adjust to conditions.

Meanwhile, in the pre-Obama interlude, world politicians still can't help themselves but try to "solve" the situation. Reports out of Washington this morning had me considering a "Brown 2012!" blog headline after Britain PM Gordon Brown's reported call for "a co-ordinated global tax cut to rescue the world economy from a devastating recession." Bully, said I. Then I read another description of his plan:

Britain Gordon Brown has a long list. To start with, he wants co-ordinated fiscal stimulus packages which means getting countries to increase public spending to create new jobs and offer tax rebates to families. He wants the IMF to create a council of experts to monitor the markets for danger signs his much-vaunted early-warning system and the IMFs coffers to be boosted by cash-rich states such as Saudi Arabia and China. He is also calling for a clean-up of the banking system, including a network of regulators to scrutinise the worlds biggest banks. [all emphases mine]

I'm not quite sure whether it's the press, PM Brown, or both who believes tax rebates = tax cuts. Probably both.

Well at least he said a few words against the auto bailout:

Mr Brown was already risking confrontation with the President-elect in barely coded criticism of a planned measure to bail out Americas ailing carmakers, a plan Mr Obama supports. I do think it is really important that we send out a signal today that protectionism would be the road to ruin, the Prime Minister said, in a speech to the Council of Foreign Relations in New York.

If we get into a situation where countries made decisions irrespective of what happened anywhere else, then we will see the same problems of other times. The dividing line here is between an open society capable of trading round the world, against a protectionist response that happened in the 1930s and is totally unacceptable.

The EU said that it was ready to take action against the US at the World Trade Organisation if aid for the stricken US car industry was judged by the European Commission as illegal under international rules.

Thank NED that self-interest still rears its head somewhere in the world. John McCain apathy hasn't completely destroyed it.

But jk thinks:

As I've mentioned, I think the rescue plan was needed. I hear a lot of complaining about the AIG spa retreat, and I cannot excuse stupid and bad behavior from company executives. Like Adam Smith, I find it easy to love business and hate businesspeople.

But the decreases in LIBOR and TED spreads have borne it out. I suggested to someone yesterday that the risk spreads the week of the bailout were the equivalent of a 300/200 blood pressure -- you know the patient is going to die if you don't do something. The Paulson Plan will certainly be shown in time to be inefficient. Graft will be discovered and a large part of the effort (and largesse) will be proven to have been wasted. It is gub'mint.

But the BP is now 150/100. Give the economy some pills and come see Doctor Paulson in three months.

Remembering the second presidential debate, where TITANIC ignorance was displayed by both candidates, I will miss having a Prez who generally understands how the economy works.

Posted by: jk at November 16, 2008 11:35 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Actually, LIBOR spreads are no more indicative of a "credit crunch" than the inverted yield indicated a recession when we weren't in one. As related as the two events may be, one may not trigger or indicate the other. If event A often happens with event B, that doesn't mean we can assume event A is happening just because we're currently observing event B.

The LIBOR-Treasury spreads show tremendous flight to safe U.S. government paper, and that lenders were demanding higher rates. It's likely that some lenders are the same who are putting the money into Treasury securities, but we cannot assume they're always the same people. We cannot and should not assume anything: we can only conclude the obvious, that there's less lending to the private sector and greater lending to government.

The problem, as I explained before, isn't a lack of liquidity. There was plenty of money to lend even before the Fed started pumping it in. It's confidence, and that's something government cannot inspire. It can only divert energies and resources, but not create. Paulson announcing the bailout may have decreased LIBOR-Treasury spreads, but he effectively made a single economic indicator the yardstick while stock indexes simultaneously tanked. They tanked because, as we Austrians put it, government action prevented rational decision-making. If there ever were, now is THE time for government to get the hell out and defer decisions to those with the knowledge.

You claim to be a Hayekian. So surely you understand that Paulson and his bureaucracy do not have all the information? Remember, they don't even know how much it will take, which is far simpler compared to how to spend it. They pulled the $700 billion figure out of the air, not because of estimation but because they wanted "a really big number," and now it's not enough.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at November 17, 2008 3:21 PM
But jk thinks:

But LIBOR spreads accurately measure perceived counter-party risk. I use them as a proxy for "the abyss" as in "Secretary Paulson stared into the abyss." The Everyday Economist says that the crisis was counter-party risk and not liquidity. I'll accept that but suggest it was ameliorated by increased liquidity and the suggestion of Treasury buying toxic paper.

I'd agree with you and Hayek that the actions are not going to be efficient but I ceded that in my comment. If half the money is wasted, I suggest that the other half can be considered a good buy if we avoid a global panic.

I'll also concede that I may be wrong here, unlike immigration where I am right and everyone else around here is dead wrong. Paulson took his shot with incomplete information and the early results show promise. To extend a true bailout to auto makers or retail or buggy whip manufacturers cannot be condoned. But the reflexive "no bailouts" issued from a high moral perch misses an actual government role as lender of last resort.

Posted by: jk at November 17, 2008 4:09 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

But LIBOR spreads accurately measure perceived counter-party risk.

Historically, yes, but not in the present time. As I said, inverted yields usually meant a recession, but ours was humming along. You can have an external factor that significantly moves one indicator but not the other: in this case, it was investors buying up an awful lot of Treasury securities, and massively depressing yields. This didn't affect LIBOR rates, because those investors were not always mortgage lenders.

I use them as a proxy for "the abyss" as in "Secretary Paulson stared into the abyss." The Everyday Economist says that the crisis was counter-party risk and not liquidity. I'll accept that but suggest it was ameliorated by increased liquidity and the suggestion of Treasury buying toxic paper.

Josh is talking about the same thing. I just happen to call it "confidence," and that's not something government can make better. What's $10 billion to a bank if it's afraid to lend it? And you can't blame a bank in this environment, when any bank might go under. It would be different if a lender were given the money, because then it wouldn't care if it got a return, but banks received the latest injections in exchange for a partial federal takeover.

I'd agree with you and Hayek that the actions are not going to be efficient but I ceded that in my comment. If half the money is wasted, I suggest that the other half can be considered a good buy if we avoid a global panic.

But most of the panic was in fact government-created. If things were simply left to sort themselves out, if banks were allowed to fail and be bought out, the Street would consider it regular business. However, here comes the federal government, with both parties calling this "the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression," MAKING it the crisis. Things wouldn't have been this bad if it weren't for federal meddling, from creating Fannie to legislatively blackmailing mortgage lenders to keeping interest rates too low.

Look what happened when Lehman's credit default swaps were auctioned: it all happened with no glitches, no panics. People sat down, made bids and accepted offers, and there was no reason for government to supervise or step in.

How do you know if 50% waste is a good buy? I wouldn't consider it so. Morally, why should I be forced to come along for the ride? Practically, you'd have to show me that if not for the bailout, I'll be part of a big loss that exceeds half of the bailout's value. You simply don't have that information. Nobody does. My firm is not being bailed out (nor are we asking), so the bailout wouldn't help me even if I were being laid off (knock on wood I haven't been yet). How about the 53,000 at Citi who are being laid off despite this bailout?

an actual government role as lender of last resort.

And how does the government accomplish this? By using force to take my money and give it to others against my consent. If I wanted Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Citi, et al, to have a portion of my money, I'm perfectly capable of buying their new stock issues myself.

Failure in free markets is not a bad thing. John Stossel recently quoted Walter Williams as saying that, because it's an important lesson in what didn't work -- a lesson just as important as successes. Check out what Boudreaux and Roberts have been saying on Cafe Hayek: the bigger a firm, in fact the more important it is to let it fail.

It's time to let a lot of banks and automakers go under, so that they'll reorganize or completely go under. Others can then pick up the pieces and use them more efficiently.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at November 18, 2008 2:08 PM
But jk thinks:

You've landed some solid blows, my friend; some of them will leave scars. But on my central point I remain unconvinced.

Yup, firms have to fail. I'm a Schumpeterian before I'm a Hayekian. No company is too big to fail and the government has zero role in keeping a private enterprise afloat against market forces. But the Paulson Plan was about keeping the markets afloat. Most of the individual firms fared very poorly. Okay, some guys from AIG had a grand day out. But the Wall Street that Rush Limbaugh worries was "bailed out" is gone. The funds were used -- correctly -- to keep the system working not individual firms. Paulson took on the role of JP Morgan in 1907.

I don't agree that "this time LIBOR didn't measure risk." It measures how much money a lender is willing to give up to avoid risk. If it's up 700 bps, I don't care if the lender is afraid of little green men, there is a problem if the financial market in aggregate is unwilling to trust other institutions.

I agree that government sowed the seeds of the panic with easy money, forced loans, goofy regulations and the like, but aside from Senator Schumer talking down IndyMac, I don't hold them responsible for the velocity of the unwind. It was a good ol' global panic.

We can argue whether the Fed or Treasury should have a role as lender of last resort, and I am pretty sympathetic to your case that they do not. Again, in this very real context, that role is expected and it would be foolhardy to discover antiHamiltonianism suddenly and unexpectedly.

Efficacy? Again, I cite the renormalization of LIBOR and TED spreads. Banks are confident enough of worldwide liquidity and (gasp!) government intrusion to feel they can make loans.

Fifty percent a good buy? The two days when the $700B package first did not pass, we lost $1.4T in market capitalization -- 50% of the rescue package is 25% of two days' losses. That does not "prove" my point, but it puts a scale on the discussion.

I cannot contradict your moral arguments, as I said, those will leave scars. Thoughtful opposition to interdiction on this scale is certainly to be respected. The less thoughtful cry of "No Bailouts" doesn't wow me. The original post said that I am comfortable supporting the Paulson Plan and opposing, vociferously, any bailout of the big three. You don't have to join me on both sides -- but there is a difference.

Posted by: jk at November 18, 2008 3:42 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I'm a Schumpeterian before I'm a Hayekian.

There's no reason the two are mutually exclusive. They exist just fine in parallel and are often complementary.

No company is too big to fail and the government has zero role in keeping a private enterprise afloat against market forces. But the Paulson Plan was about keeping the markets afloat.

Actually, as I'll be be blogging about soon, it was more sinister than that.

But even if we take the "keeping markets afloat" at face value, what was it about? Forcing banks to lend, when market conditions dictated that they should hold on to their capital. It's certainly possible that a market of any size (from a person buying a Pepsi to an investment bank underwriting billions) will stagnate and even freeze when participants don't have enough information. Waiting for the dust to settle is particularly necessary after government meddling has introduced errors by encouraging one person beyond what was otherwise prudent, and discouraging another from what was otherwise innovative.

The bailout is no more than simple interference with normal market processes. As I've said, government cannot inspire confidence nor create goods and services. Its only power is in force, and the plain term for economic force is "redistribution." If government pushes one person, it does so only by pulling someone else -- hence the phrase "robbing Peter to pay Paul."

Most of the individual firms fared very poorly. Okay, some guys from AIG had a grand day out. But the Wall Street that Rush Limbaugh worries was "bailed out" is gone. The funds were used -- correctly -- to keep the system working not individual firms. Paulson took on the role of JP Morgan in 1907.

What JP Morgan the company did, spreading rumors and having friends at the New York Fed mention a lifeline to hammer Bear Stearns' share price, was worthy of the man. JP Morgan and his cronies used rumors about the Knickerbocker Group to incite a panic, thus justifying the creation of the Federal Reserve...which happened to have a lot of their financier friends as the initial governors.

So if you're comparing Paulson to JP Morgan, you're more correct than you realize. This wasn't a bailout. It's a takeover.

I don't agree that "this time LIBOR didn't measure risk." It measures how much money a lender is willing to give up to avoid risk.

I never said it didn't measure risk. Look again. What I have been saying all along is that the LIBOR-Treasury spreads don't mean a liquidity problem.

Interest rates don't really show what lenders are willing to give up, but rather how much they demand for the use of the loaned assets. There are different interpretations of interest rates. Keynesians view it as compensation for not having your money, which is valid if not simplistic. Austrians view it as an indication of time preference. In both cases, a higher interest rate shows that the lender believes there's an increased risk.

If it's up 700 bps, I don't care if the lender is afraid of little green men, there is a problem if the financial market in aggregate is unwilling to trust other institutions.

In a free market, there's nothing wrong with lenders being afraid. Would you rather have them imprudently lend out money just for the sake of lending? That's what the bailout is all about. The major banks are being told to lend the money "or else," haven't you heard? And that's whether or not they sought bailout money in the first place. Paulson's tactic of summoning the banking heads, not letting them leave the room unless they agreed, makes Vito Corleone ("an offer you can't refuse") look as libertarian as Murray Rothbard.

I agree that government sowed the seeds of the panic with easy money, forced loans, goofy regulations and the like, but aside from Senator Schumer talking down IndyMac, I don't hold them responsible for the velocity of the unwind. It was a good ol' global panic.

I certainly hold them responsible. They both planted and cultivated this disaster. Read again what I wrote: from both parties came the absurd talk of "the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression." Every time that idiot Paulson opened his mouth, decision-makers couldn't possibly do anything rationally (meaning logical decisions according to natural market conditions). They had to rethink their decisions based on what they expected the government to do. That's why, in addition to the prospects of a President Obama, markets have been unexplainably volatile.

We can argue whether the Fed or Treasury should have a role as lender of last resort, and I am pretty sympathetic to your case that they do not. Again, in this very real context, that role is expected and it would be foolhardy to discover antiHamiltonianism suddenly and unexpectedly.

It's fine if there's a lender of last resort -- a fully private lender. If it's a government agency, or one with the power of government, then it comes down to lending at my expense. If it's the Fed "injecting liquidity," then it penalizes me via inflation. If it's the Treasury, I'm penalized via taxes.

Efficacy? Again, I cite the renormalization of LIBOR and TED spreads. Banks are confident enough of worldwide liquidity and (gasp!) government intrusion to feel they can make loans.

How can it be "renormalization" when Treasury yields are at record lows? That means that the spreads are "normal" again only because LIBOR have been pushed very low:

1-month LIBOR: 1.48 this week, 3.53 one month ago, 4.78 a year ago
3-month LIBOR: 2.18 this week, 3.83 one month ago, 5.00 a year ago
6-month LIBOR: 2.55 this week, 3.70 one month ago, 4.86 a year ago

Your mistake, the same as many others, is looking at a relative indictator. But a spread doesn't necessarily mean anything, so pay attention to what's happening to the absolute indictators.

Fifty percent a good buy? The two days when the $700B package first did not pass, we lost $1.4T in market capitalization -- 50% of the rescue package is 25% of two days' losses. That does not "prove" my point, but it puts a scale on the discussion.

Do you believe that the Fed's flow of funds rate will show a sudden decrease of $1.4 trillion in the country's net worth? I hope you don't. Look here for a good discussion that unfortunately degenerated quickly, and I had to pimp-slap this guy around.

The losses are compensated by the fact that people valued other things more, so a decline in stock prices is offset by an increase in other assets' value. Look at the increase in Treasury security prices, for example. What you're talking about is saving some people from losing $X in their investments' value, via government artificially propping up their values. Simultaneously, people who in a free market could have bought the assets at a cheaper price are now harmed, because government manipulation forces them to pay more.

And Hayek would tell you that no one, whether you or government, has the information to know that the markets' true value really was the pre-drop value. What we do know is that if the drop happens in a free market, where all individuals by their individual actions help determine prices, then by definition the assets were over-valued.

I cannot contradict your moral arguments, as I said, those will leave scars.

In the end, the immorality of the bailout is the ONLY argument. If the bailout works, fine, you can reap all the benefits. Just don't coerce me into going along for the ride, no matter how profitable it may be.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at November 18, 2008 9:29 PM

November 14, 2008

Looming Bailouts

Krauthammer on the real reasons.

As we have seen with the airlines, bankruptcy can allow operations to continue while helping shed fatally unsupportable obligations. For Detroit, this means release from ruinous wage deals with their astronomical benefits (the hourly cost of a Big Three worker: $73; of an American worker for Toyota: $48), massive pension obligations, and unworkable work rules such as job banks, a euphemism for paying vast numbers of employees not to work.

The point of the Democratic bailout is to protect the unions by preventing this kind of restructuring. Which will guarantee the continued failure of these companies, but now they will burn tens of billions of taxpayer dollars. Its the ultimate in lemon socialism.


Read it all.

But jk thinks:

Loved this:

In World War II, government had the auto companies turning out tanks. Now they would be made to turn out hybrids. The difference is that, in the middle of a world war, tanks have a buyer.

Posted by: jk at November 14, 2008 1:32 PM

Hillary for SecState?

I would not expect better and would be prepared for much worse (rhymes with Khan-Jerry). The former prez could do minimal damage to the Administration, she'd be pretty tough. Not a bad pick if he were to make it.

But AlexC thinks:

Hillary is no dummy.

She's not going to want any part of his administration.

Potential elder statesman and all that.

Posted by: AlexC at November 14, 2008 2:14 PM
But jk thinks:

Perhaps, though it does not seem like a bad gig.

Posted by: jk at November 14, 2008 3:16 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

If I were Hillary, I would refuse it, then have the media make it look like Obama snubbed me, continue on with my elder-statesman career while making a particular point of pressing for my own domestic agenda at the expense of President Obama's, and then bully myself onto the next Supreme Court vacancy, thus ensuring my power-player status for the next few generations.

~T. Greer, better criminal mastermind than Axlerod.

Posted by: T. Greer at November 14, 2008 4:32 PM

Now They Tell Us!

Reason's Brian Dougherty is creeped out by Obama worship:

I've watched with growing distress this past week as many interesting cultural iconoclasts I admire for various reasons who can usually be counted on to be aware and skeptical of government power to at least some degree, from John Perry Barlow to Adam Parfrey to Oliver Stone, have swooned over the mighty Obama and his world-changing powers (my misery over this is maximized by many friends and acquaintances who are not public figures as well).

Being surrounded by a creepy-happy adoring Cult of the Great Leader makes me...uncomfortable, to be sure. Via Will Wilkinson comes a particularly awful example of Obamania, in which we are advised via Beatles lyrics both of our responsibility to not let Obama down, and also showered with the adoring love we must express for him.


I hear you, bud. What really grabbed were several reader comments. The second:
Now they tell us! I vaguely seem to recall Reason pretty much pulling out all the stops to oppose McCain and support BHO.

What Reason could have done - but did not - is illustrated in the graphic here in a post relating to Weigel's thread of today.


Number three:
Honestly, the writers and editors of Reason should have seen this coming. Do any of them seriously believe a cult of personality of this sort would have grown up around McCain?

It was OBVIOUS this would happen. There's more to come too.

I feel sorry for everyone except those who work for Reason. Reason is guilty of criminal negligence with regard to BO.


I was disgusted by about every issue of Reason through the election. I enjoyed the latest issue last weekend now that the election is over. I guess I don't hold a grudge. But the commenters are 100% spot on. Matt Welch has written an anti-McCain book, Rep. Bob Barr was targeting GOP voters, and the LP expressly voiced intent to tip the election to Senator Obama to demonstrate their power.

There was the occasional soft criticism of Senator O, but this was juxtaposed with feature-length jeremiads against the "Mythy Maverick." I can see MSNBC being in the tank for Obama -- they believe in government control -- but I was astounded that Reason would do so much to elect a (sorry, Latte and Heretic, I need a wide brush here) socialist.

Yesterday they were upset that his chief of staff is a drug warrior. Now, they have just discovered the cult of personality? Reason remains a great read, but its editorial staff, like the LP, is not to be taken seriously.

Libertario Delenda Est! (If anybody can help me with the grammar -- how many Romans?-- before I make that a category, I'd appreciate it)

But T. Greer thinks:

I agree completely. While I have never been Reason's biggest fan, they lost me utterly this year. Underlying their support for Obama was this quaint idea that the GOP needed to be "punished" for straying too far off the free market track. Sadly, this is utter nonsense- a quick history review shows us that this has never worked. Heck, you need only to look at the most recent electoral crashes to see what happens to the losing party. Following the Reagan glory days, we find the Democratic presidential candidate stating he was for small government. Following the Republican washout of '06, the Republicans vote for John McCain, the most moderate of all the GOP primary candidates.

Seriously, what are those folks over at Reason thinking? Parties look at the results of an election in order to understand what the public wants from them. When it comes time to write planks in 2012, they will be paying one hell of a lot more attention to America's new progressive majority than they will to the few thousand libertarians who voted against them in order to make a point.

~T. Greer, reading tea leaves

Posted by: T. Greer at November 14, 2008 5:04 PM

November 13, 2008

For Immediate Release

This post is to announce -- with the permission of fellow bloggers -- that Three Sources intends to apply with the Federal Reserve to become a bank holding company.

Humor Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 9:57 PM | What do you think? [2]
But jk thinks:

You betcha. What time does the discount window open?

Posted by: jk at November 14, 2008 10:49 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Whoa there everybody, no crowding at the trough. Everyone will get their turn to fatten up on the corn grown by others. Let's keep those "sharp elbows" in check.

Posted by: johngalt at November 14, 2008 5:15 PM

Obamagawea!

I'll Google® later, but that one might actually be original!

I'm guessing I'm not the only one getting these:


obama_dollar.jpg
Sigh.

UPDATE: Yahoo® says I'm good:
obamagawea.gif

Posted by John Kranz at 3:21 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

I saw a TV commercial for this today. "Layered" in 24 karat gold, they say. I guess that sounds more prestigious than "gold plated." For my part I thought, "Hey, I guess you can actually gold plate a turd after all!"

Posted by: johngalt at November 13, 2008 10:25 PM

Libertarians vs. Progressives

Reason's Damon Root, unsurprisingly takes the side of the libs. It's well worth a read, however, as a reminder of the sordid history of the Progressive movement. As Jonah Goldberg wonders in his book, how come progressives are never asked to own up to the darker moments of their history? Root supplies some of the low points:

Moreover, as economist Tim Leonard points out, progressives believed in a "powerful, centralized state, conceiving of government as the best means for promoting the social good," a belief that directly contributed to the widespread progressive support for eugenics, racial collectivism, and various coercive "reforms." Progressive darling Theodore Roosevelt, for instance, held notoriously racist and imperialist views, including the notion of "race suicide," which held that the white race faced the risk of being out bred by its "little brown brothers." He also believed that the 15th Amendment should never have been ratified since the black race, in his words, was "two hundred thousand years behind" the white.

Against the statist racism, Root celebrates the impedance provided by a stream of libertarian (I'd call them classical liberal) SCOTUS judges. Root suggests that we will need vigilance going forward:
Indeed, as Sutherland and Storey's careers demonstrate, libertarian ideas have long served as a crucial check against the illiberal impulses of progressive majorities. The Jacob Weisbergs of the world notwithstanding, libertarianism matters now more than ever.

Awesome piece. Hat-tip: Instapundit

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 11:37 AM | What do you think? [6]
But T. Greer thinks:

Huh. Where you see an awesome piece, I see a shoddy historical hit job.

Let’s start with Teddy Roosevelt. While the man had statist views in comparison to many of his fellow Republicans,* Roosevelt was hardly an abject racist, and characterizing him as such does a disservice to any attempt at rationally analyzing the man. Indeed, to prove Roosevelt's "notorious" racism, Root has to bend backwards with misquotations and phrases taken completely out of context.

'Race suicide" is a good example of this. Roosevelt talked about this subject several times, (and every time it was in relation to Eastern European immigrants, not Blacks), but his preoccupation with the subject had less to do with fear of an America run by blacks** and
Italians and more to do with the fact that he thought it was morally wrong for a nation not have kids. As he said in his 1910 speech at the Sorbonne: "The chief of blessings for any nation is that it shall leave its seed to inherit the land. The greatest of all curses is sterility, and the severest of all condemnations should be that visited upon willful sterility"

Likewise, Roosevelt's view on the 15th amendment is taken complexly out of context. That statement comes from a letter addressed to Henry S. Pritchett, President of MIT, concerning Republican 'radicalism' and the damage it did to America during the reconstruction. Roosevelt does not criticize the amendment because it gave blacks the right to vote- he is criticizing it because it ruined North-South relations for the next 40 years!

The funniest thing about all of this is that Roosevelt is being billed off as a 'statist racist.' Huh. I always thought that for something to be called statist, it had to involve the government actually doing something. But then again, I could be wrong. We all remember Roosevelt's forced sterilization program, right? Perhaps his battle with New York's state legislature to repeal the 15th amendment comes to mind?

No, the reason Root attacks Roosevelt's purported "views" and "beliefs" instead of actually attacking his national policies is simple. If he did examine Roosevelt's policies, he would have concluded that TR did more for black equality under the law than every other President between Johnson and Johnson. From his reform of the civil service to his plethora of black Presidential appointees, Roosevelt proved by way of deed that he was against racial discrimination.

However, none of this matters to Root, who was so intent on proving libertarianism’s righteousness that he could not be bothered to let historical facts get in his way. After all, he has to prove that progressivism is morally bankrupt! Nothing should get in the way of this valorous task!

And that is what makes his column so funny. I mean, other than "libertarianism rocks!" what is exactly is Root trying to say? "Uh... well, some people who called themselves progressives 100 years did some bad things... and libertarians didn't do bad things back then... so obviously, libertarianism matters a lot... because more people who call themselves progressive just got elected!"

Uhuh. This is sloppy history done for a sloppy article trying to make a sloppy case. Nothing more, and nothing less.

~T. Greer, no friend of idealogues.

*But remarkably less so than the modern GOP. It is kind of funny how yesterday's progressives are today's conservatives, isn't?

**One could again note his "view" that half the congressmen from the South should have been black, as it was "an outrage" for the white men in any district with "three black men and one white" to "suppress the votes of the three black men in order to make his vote worth that of four men."

Posted by: T. Greer at November 13, 2008 3:35 PM
But jk thinks:

Glad somebody was around to step up for TR -- that's a job this American won't do.

I'll accept your defense of #26 on charges of racism because you sounded authoritative and I have no specific knowledge or evidence to back up Mister Root. (Though given a second, flipping through Liberal Fascism, I could probably -- never mind.)

But I will not let TR off the hook for statism. His "trust-busting" activism pushed Presidents off the track of humble, Madison #10, executives. And he set a horrible example for Senator McCain.

Nor will I give the Progressive movement a pass on racism. If TR did not, Margaret Sanger surely tried and President Wilson certainly countenanced eugenics -- under the Progressive banner. Many of the signature progressive pieces had this odd habit of favoring whites over blacks.

Nor will I understate the contributions of Supreme Court Justices in impeding the worst parts of progressivism. You don't have to call them "libertarians" and I dare say Charles Evans Hughes would have looked askance at that, but the point of Root's (generally awesome) piece is that SCOTUS held the line through the TR, Wilson, and FDR Administrations worst excesses. And that we're likely to need that again today.

Posted by: jk at November 13, 2008 4:23 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

Aye, Roosevelt was a statist, that is for sure. But then again- who isn't? Sure, Roosevelt was an extremist when compared to Hanna, or Cannon but if one were to compare his governmental policies to those of Bush, DeLay, or even Reagan, I think he would come rather well off. Although he did support a few things that are unpopular around here, (i.e. a progressive income tax), I can't help but think that most modern conservatives would balk at how little his plan asked for: one 5% tax on the top bracket.

I also think Roosevelt would be sick at the sight of our modern welfare state- as he said himself, "We have not the slightest sympathy with that socialistic idea which would try to put laziness, thriftlessness and inefficiency on a par with industry, thrift and efficiency; which would strive to break up not merely private property, but what is far more important, the home, the chief prop upon which our whole civilization stands. Such a theory, if ever adopted, would mean the ruin of the entire country--a ruin which would bear heaviest upon the weakest, upon those least able to shift for themselves"

I am rather confidant that Mr. Roosevelt would not hesitate to veto every piece of welfare legislation to come through the Congress. How many modern Republicans would also do so?

None of this is to excuse Mr. Roosevelt from his many faults and flaws. In particular, I believe his view of the Presidency as the "public steward" who should act when Congress doesn't, is in direct violation of the purpose of the office as planned by the framers. (Although one could argue that such activism goes back quite a bit farther- Lincoln and Jackson in particular come to mind.)

~T. Greer, arguing for a more nuanced view of our history. He is also arguing that it was F. Roosevelt's positive rights, not T. Roosevelt's executive bending, that brought about most of our modern woes.

Posted by: T. Greer at November 13, 2008 5:29 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Wow, nice dialog guys. Particularly tg's second installment. My understanding of the earlier Roosevelt is much shallower than this. (I blame my public school education.) I do remember San Juan hill, his muscular diplomacy (speak softly and carry a big stick), his creation of the national parks, and something called the "Bull Moose Party." The rest of the details are hazy.

The 20th century, commonly called "the American century" was a curious era. American industry certainly earned an A+ but American government gets a D. The ideas attributed above to TR may be only a pinch of poison but they are poison nonetheless. See now what they've become.

Posted by: johngalt at November 13, 2008 10:48 PM
But jk thinks:

I'm no scholar on the time period, but I have recently read a spate of books that are very unkind to the Progressive Era. Gene Healy's The Cult of the Presidency points out that we made it over 100 years through powerful presidencies like Lincoln's. When TR & Wilson took us off the tracks we never recovered.

TG says that TR wasn't as bad as FDR but JK would say that's a pretty low bar. I'd say TR was quite a bit better than Wilson. Healy, and Jonah Goldberg, and David Boaz all lump the two of them together. This does better service to President Wilson. And yet they both, un-Taft-like, sought to represent our nation's "soul" rather than the mundane task of keeping the legislature in check.

Healy points out that we never really recovered from that. Boaz is a bit less kind and Goldberg calls it the period of American Fascism.

I want to like Teddy for his erudition. I'm thinking he was probably our smartest President and I always thought of him as "our Churchill" for his combination of intellect and toughness. But his record is pretty sketchy in the liberty department.

Posted by: jk at November 15, 2008 12:00 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

I don't know if he can be called the smartest President America has ever had (Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Adams, Coolidge, and Eisenhower could all contest that claim), but I do think it is fair to label Mr. Roosevelt as the most titanic character to ever enter the White House. Having recently read his Autobiography and Edmund Morris' Theodore Rex, I cannot help but be overwhelmed by the sheer pace at which Roosevelt lead his life. Even with the job of President, Roosevelt managed to read more than a hundred books a year (many in French and German), write thousands of pages worth of articles, speeches, and books, give a personal visit to every traveling intellectual, writer, or historian in Washington, read several newspapers a day (in their entirety), take day long hikes, shooting trips, and horseback rides once every week or so, master and maintain the ability to play tennis and fight in boxing ring, bully both the Democratic and old-guard Republican congressmen, and spend a substantial amount of time teaching and playing with his children.

Of course, the ability to lead a strenuous life and enact good policies are two different things, and give Roosevelt has a mixed record on the second count. Again, I agree with you in that his biggest problem was the popularization of the idea that the Executive branch was the steward of the people- indeed, I think every once in a while, Roosevelt thought he was the people. However, I do not think Roosevelt’s infraction were particularly bad. A quick comparison with Lincoln (who, incidentally, Roosevelt drew a large amount of his political inspiration from) shows who the worse of the two was: Roosevelt never suspended the writ of Habeas Corpus, never imprisoned thousands of his citizens without warrant, and never launched a war without the consent of Congress. And while yes, Lincoln’s executive style did not live long after his death, I cannot help but wonder if it would have flourished were Lincoln’s days of shaping public policy cut short by an assassin’s bullet.

I also think a lot of Healy’s criticism of the early progressives is unfair- from what I have read from the book’s reviews (and correct me if I am wrong here) Healy’s most strident objections to the ‘cult of the presidency’ come from the fact that Americans expect our Presidents to work wonders and solve all of the world’s problems. You can’t blame Roosevelt for this- his role is limited to making an Executive that formed laws as well as enforced them. However, this was not a change in the type of laws being made so much as it was a change in the branch of government making the changes.

That transformation came with FDR. Before FDR, the role of American government was to protect liberty and foster conditions that promoted (or were thought to promote) the prosperity of farmers and entrepreneurs of the nation. (Trust busting, tariffs, internal improvements, and Indian removal being the most prominent examples of such policies.) However, with the help of Mr. Roosevelt’s nice little firesides, the entire dialogue about good governance changed. The government no longer protected your liberty or prosperity- it was the source of it. The government protected freedom of speech and freedom of religion, but it also provided freedom from want and freedom from fear as. This was unprecedented in the course American history. Whereas the government had once been treated with a sort of distrust, viewed the inferior of the powers of ‘society,’ and relegated to a distinct sphere, the government now was the only thing anybody trusted, viewed as the only solution available to society’s problems, and occupying a sphere that included near every part of the average American’s life.

It was not the expansion of the Executive branch that led to the abuse of Executive powers. It was the fundamental change in how Americans thought about the relationship between the American people and American government that brought us the horrors seen in today's bloated government.

~T. Greer, affirming that the American Dream died with the Great Depression.

Posted by: T. Greer at November 15, 2008 9:54 PM

Mr. Eisenstadt, Please Call Your Office...

It would appear that all of the "leaks" regarding the McCain campaign were part of very clever hoax. It is interesting to note how quickly the MSM pounced on negative reports about Palin, even though they seemed unbelievable. But the right, including your Humble Refugee, are not without blame either, as we just as quickly believed that someone could be out there saying such things from the McCain camp.

Beyond the obvious lesson of "fact checking," this episode teaches how damaging a false story can be and why the MSM watchdog needs a watchdog of its own.

Unless of course, this is a hoax...

Media and Blogging Posted by Boulder Refugee at 10:57 AM | What do you think? [2]
But jk thinks:

Wow! I loved this:

An MSNBC spokesman, Jeremy Gaines, explained the network’s misstep by saying someone in the newsroom received the Palin item in an e-mail message from a colleague and assumed it had been checked out. "It had not been vetted," he said. "It should not have made air."

I'm sure they would have rushed just as quickly to air a negative comment abound Senator Obama. News is a fast business. 24 by frickken' 7.

Posted by: jk at November 13, 2008 11:55 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Is that for real? "Someone received an email from a colleague" is about as reliable as "I read it on the internet." Are these people journalists or "just" bloggers?

And no mention that "someone in the newsroom" has been fired? WTF? Are these guys UAW members or something?

Posted by: johngalt at November 13, 2008 2:10 PM

The Wait is Over!

The endless speculation around here can stop now. VP-elect Biden has chosen his chief of staff:

CHICAGO Vice President-elect Joe Biden chose as his chief of staff a man who once served in that same role for Vice President Al Gore, Democratic officials said Thursday.

Ron Klain also was an adviser for Biden during his Democratic primary bid and helped the Delaware senator prepare for the vice presidential debate during the fall campaign.


Wow. I really wasn't expecting that one. I think AlexC had Klain didn't he? He gets all the money in the pool.

But Boulder Refugee thinks:

These guys just can't escape the '90s.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at November 13, 2008 11:14 AM

November 12, 2008

SHORT!!!!!!!!!!

Intrade has Don Luskin as a 5% chance of being Treasury Secretary. I'd say that's a hair high...


Bobby!

A good friend of this blog sends a link to this, in hopes it will temper the Palin '12 crowd:



I like Governor Jindal a lot and have not closed the door on him by any means. He is impressive here, although David Schuster is so amazingly annoying I can hardly pay attention to the Governor. It reflects a lot more poorly on MSNBC that well on Jindal. Although I must admit the Governor does a great job at not taking the bait.

2012 Posted by John Kranz at 3:17 PM | What do you think? [2]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

What The Refugee reads into this is that Jindal was smart enough to know a losing ticket when he saw one, and recovering politically from such a loss is extremely difficult (Richard Nixon being an interesting exception). Jindal definitely has potential.

The Refugee is still a Palin fan, but will admit that her folksy style wears thin and he desparately wishes that she would learn to hang a "g" on the end of the gerand verb form. Nevertheless, she is smart, loyal and honest - attributes often not found in politicians. So, here's The Refugee's lastest conspiracy theory: Ted Stevens hangs on to his seat, resigns, and Palin appoints herself to his Senate seat. (The Refugee vows to lay off of the caffeine - starting minana.)

Rumors abound that Michael Steele is gunning for the GOP chairmanship. The Refugee votes an enthusiastic "Aye!"

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at November 12, 2008 5:42 PM
But HB thinks:

Schuster's voice reminds me of the guys who read the traffic reports on AM radio.

Posted by: HB at November 13, 2008 12:18 AM

Why I am Concerned About the Future

I have received a few nice pieces of mail from Obama supporting relatives "HAHA! LOOOOSER!!!" No, no actually some nice things. The cartoons I shared, and a WaPo story of a black White House butler's pride that after 34 years employment an African-American will be moving in upstairs.

I don't want to rain on their parade, and I'll admit that a modicum of pride is called for. I'll even go all honeymoon and say that I appreciate President-elect Obama's character and intelligence. He seems a decent chap and I hope for the best.

BUT

But there is more to a President than how he or she makes us feel. I prefer a stodgy old, Federalist #10 version of the Executive that we haven't seen since President Coolidge and likely won't see again. But why can't I celebrate this historic election? I think Holman Jenkins captures it pretty well on the WSJ Ed Page.

You have in GM's Volt a perfect car of the Age of Obama -- or at least the Honeymoon of Obama, before the reality principle kicks in.

Even as GM teeters toward bankruptcy and wheedles for billions in public aid, its forthcoming plug-in hybrid continues to absorb a big chunk of the company's product development budget. This is a car that, by GM's own admission, won't make money. It's a car that can't possibly provide a buyer with value commensurate with the resources and labor needed to build it. It's a car that will be unsalable without multiple handouts from government.

The first subsidy has already been written into law, with a $7,500 tax handout for every buyer. Another subsidy is in the works, in the form of a mileage rating of 100 mpg -- allowing GM to make and sell that many more low-mileage SUVs under the cockamamie "fleet average" mileage rules.

Even so, the Volt will still lose money for GM, which expects to price the car at up to $40,000.


General Motors stock sits at a 60-something year low and the company begs Washington for help to avoid bankruptcy or liquidation. Yet the company banks most of its future on a car that will lose money, cost far more than a similar combustion vehicle, and present the user with a bunch of new problems from where to charge to handling stale gas if it is not used.

The Volt is very attractive and will generate a lot of buzz. But Jenkins is right that when the profit motive is completely discarded in favor of government subsidies, we are entering some scary places. The Volt will have to compete around the world with buyers who will not be getting paid $7,500 to buy an impractical car.

This is not where government belongs and I do not trust our 535 Automotive-engineers-in-chief to make the right decisions. Yet this is where we're headed with cars, energy, and heath care. I hope for the best and will give him every opportunity, but this is the wrong direction to take the country. So my pride is severely tempered.

Elevator Talk Posted by John Kranz at 12:05 PM | What do you think? [5]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

jk, you're being far too charitable. There is NO WAY IN HELL that someone can be "decent" when advocating the raw theft of my property.

One of the biggest imbeciles I've ever had the misfortune of knowing, whom I've nicknamed the Mistress of Malapropisms, likes to use "decent" a lot. What she really means is "nice," which is a far lowel level than "decent."

It's been said, "One may smile and still be a villain." Even a tyrant can be "nice" to all but a select few. But for all his niceties and propriety, Obama can hardly be considered "decent."

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at November 12, 2008 3:43 PM
But jk thinks:

My dad used to caution me that you cannot look into a man's heart. We can make our guesses, but at the end of the day, if I attack President-elect Obama's motives, I both fall out of the path of empirical reason and look suspiciously like the lefties who attacked President Bush and VP Cheney on perceived character flaws.

I can empirically prove the incorrectness of his ideas (and I think Mister Jenkins has given me a good start). Yet I cannot prove that he does not seriously believe his bad ideas will help. So I will assume that he is just misguided.

Is he decent? I will assume, again, that he is not in politics for personal gain or graft. That's a good baseline of decency.

Lastly, I'm not at all sure he is "nice." You may be too generous, bro.

Posted by: jk at November 12, 2008 4:44 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

We cannot look into a man's heart, but we can certainly judge a man by his actions. As the scripture says, "By their fruits shall ye know them." So there's no reason we can't attack Obama's motives. If his motives are evil, we have every moral justification in attacking his means, his desired ends, and his purpose.

It's easy to see who the nutcases are. They're the kind who brandish signs with Bush as a chimpanzee. Or Obama with Mao, Obama as Che -- except, wait a minute, those actually *fits* him. The caricatures that the left perpetrated against Bush were insults, but the "extremes" about Obama are in fact appropriate.

I'm sure Obama is a "nice guy" by most people's standards, and sincerely believes his ideas will help. But "decency" is more than that, and being "misguided" does not excuse committing crimes, no matter how "beneficial" the act may be for "the greatest number." Being "misguided" also does not make him unassailable from a character perspective. Moreover, we don't have to look in obscure annals of history to know that tyrants generally think they're doing the best thing.

If Obama is truly not in politics for graft or money, then I suppose his wife won't mind returning her salary increase that was funded by earmarks her husband obtained for her hospital. That's one of many things the McCain campaign could have seized on, but didn't.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at November 13, 2008 1:51 PM
But jk thinks:

By the same token, Perry, I don't want to get stuck defending the Pres-elect from your well grounded points. I just think that it degrades the dialog.

State-Senator, then Senator, then President Elect Obama entered a world full of graft through its sleazy Chicago office. I'm not celebrating his moral perfection or anything (and why, why why didn't the McCain campaign avoid that perfect example of earmarks that their candidate opposed?). I'll say that, were he out to optimize income, a slick, smart, high placed Hahvahd Law grad with an affirmative action hook could write his own ticket. I think he went into politics to feed his preternatural ego, not to get rich.

Of course, once there, the money kinds of finds you. He has not done a superhuman job of resisting it (cough, Rezko, cough!). But I don't think he went in for financial aggrandizement How many of the exclusive 535 could I say that about? But there I go again, peering into hearts...

Posted by: jk at November 13, 2008 2:28 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I'm not sure where my reply from the other day went, but I'll redo it here.

By the same token, Perry, I don't want to get stuck defending the Pres-elect from your well grounded points. I just think that it degrades the dialog.

Well I'd certainly hope you wouldn't defend him. There's nothing defensible about him or his policies. You can't even defend the "good" he wants to do, because the means are evil.

State-Senator, then Senator, then President Elect Obama entered a world full of graft through its sleazy Chicago office.

Add to that having a fundraiser party hosted by a domestic terrorist, and going to a dinner that toasted a Palestinian terrorist.

I think he went into politics to feed his preternatural ego, not to get rich.

We shouldn't forget the money, though. Once you retire from Congress, what a marvelous pension with health benefits for life! Even if you lose re-election, you have many lucrative years ahead of you, lobbying and speech-giving. Unless you pull a John Edwards, of course.

Of course, once there, the money kinds of finds you.

Which some people, myself included, would say means that a good person should avoid politics. There's a kid in my department who said that if he loses his job, he'd like to go into politics. The financial industry is contracting, and finding ANY replacement job in it, let alone one similar to now, will be hella hard.

I told him: "Don't. Even a good guy like you can lose his soul."

He has not done a superhuman job of resisting it (cough, Rezko, cough!). But I don't think he went in for financial aggrandizement How many of the exclusive 535 could I say that about? But there I go again, peering into hearts...

He didn't just resist it: he sought it directly. Wealth might not have been as important as fame, but money facilitated his rise to power, and surely he and his wife didn't mind that it facilitated a lavish lifestyle.

Don't be afraid to judge *righteously*.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at November 16, 2008 9:21 PM

Chairman ObaMao

Whenever I think I've invented something new I google it and invariably find that I wasn't the first. This time is no exception to that rule.

The lib-tard Bush haters thought it was clever to add "Hitler" to the end of his name. After all, it only takes 5 more letters to convert the president's four letter name into a reminder of one of history's greatest warmongering collectivist demagogues who invaded neighboring countries at will. ("Just like president Bush!! He's Bushitler!!" - yawn)

What historical dictator's name can be grafted to the end of Obama? m ... a ... O!

obamaobumper2.gif

Do the "Mao" shoes fit? You tell me.

(See them all at Airfarceone.net. My favorite is the Mini-Maos.)

But AlexC thinks:

I'm a fan of saying "Obamunism".... but I know I can't be the first.

Posted by: AlexC at November 12, 2008 12:33 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Obamao brings us Obamunism and turns us into an Obamanation.

Just think back to the videos his campaign released during the primaries, with people chanting his name like they were at a 1930s Munich rally. Mao and other adoration-seeking tyrants would be envious at the outright worship.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at November 12, 2008 3:46 PM
But jk thinks:

If anybody hasn't read Jonah Goldberg's "Liberal Fascism" yet, grab it while this campaign is still fresh in your mind.

Posted by: jk at November 12, 2008 4:47 PM

November 11, 2008

Didn't get the Memo About Hope and Change

I usually ignore trolls and their comments, but this one made me laugh. Insty links to a smart piece on why Obama was smart to stand up for Sen. Joe Lieberman (Traitorous Wretch - CT)

Obama told Harry Reid last week that expelling Lieberman from the Democratic Caucus for his vocal backing of John McCain's candidacy (and trashing of Obama's) "would send the wrong signal after Obama's promises to set partisanship aside," as Paul Kane writes. Obama wants Lieberman to remain on the Democratic side of the Senate aisle. As of now, the situation remains unresolved[...]

One of the commenters, however, isn't ready for bygones:
This is the dumbest post ever. and that takes alot on this page. Lieberman didn't do squat whan he was in charge of homeland security. Now, when he's in position to stick it to Obama on everything Iraq, you think he'll play nice? Obama help LIEberman get re-elected, what did LIEberman do, call Obama a maxist, un-american. JOE MUST GO!!!!

Still left, still angry, STILL USING ALL CAPS!!!!

2008 Posted by John Kranz at 7:01 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

When your rage is as fevered as this it can't just be turned off with a memo (or an election victory.)

And shouldn't "Traitorous Wretch" be in scare quotes?

Posted by: johngalt at November 12, 2008 10:20 AM

Dear Amazon.com customer:

I've chuckled at a couple of these, but this is the "stretchiest:"

We've noticed that customers who have purchased or rated My Favorite Guitars/It's a Guitar World by Chet Atkins have also purchased The Renaissance by Q-Tip. For this reason, you might like to know that The Renaissance is now available. You can order yours for just $10.99 ($2.99 off the list price) by following the link below.

Not familiar with the musical stylings of Q-Tip, I had to read on:
Modern hip-hop and R&B music can both arguably be divided into pre- and post-A Tribe Called Quest, and the musical efforts of its lead MC and producer Kamaal Ibn John Fareed--better known to the world as Q-Tip. Consider the jazzy sampling, laid-back tempos and boho-chic vibe he introduced, then mull over the bohemian posturing and sounds of the neo-soul movement, plus any rap music that shies away from hardcore posturing. All roads lead back to ATCQ and the beats, rhymes and life of one man: Q-Tip. And now the time is ripe for The Renaissance, the Abstract MC's first solo album in nine years.

Were I as open minded as I pretend to be...

Posted by John Kranz at 1:26 PM | What do you think? [1]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

You're not closed-minded. You just have taste.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at November 11, 2008 4:05 PM

Happy Veterans' Day

Not a better way to spend it than a quick contribution to The Injured Marines Semper Fi Fund

Hat-tip: Hugh

UPDATE: Terri has four choices.

And Taranto links to Cigars for Soldiers Boy, that''s a "Nuke the Gay Whales for Jesus" outfit -- how many ways can you annoy a leftist?


Secretary Gates

Some nice leaks today: the WSJ (news pages) reports:

Obama Leans Toward Asking Gates To Remain at Pentagon for a Year

WASHINGTON -- President-elect Barack Obama is leaning toward asking Defense Secretary Robert Gates to remain in his position for at least a year, according to two Obama advisers. A senior Pentagon official said Mr. Gates would likely accept the offer if it is made.

No final decision has been made, and Obama aides said other people are also under serious consideration for the defense post, one of the most highly coveted in any new cabinet. Several prominent Democrats, including former Clinton Navy Secretary Richard Danzig and former Clinton Deputy Secretary of Defense John Hamre, are also being considered.


This would be great news and would reflect extremely well on President-elect Obama's judgment.

UPDATE: Leaks giveth, leaks taketh away: the NYTimes sez Jamie Gorelick is in line for USAG.

Hat-tip: Ann Althouse who pleads "I voted for Obama, as I'm sure my commenters are about to remind me, and I'm hoping for the best. He told me to hope! Please don't crush my hope so early, Mr. Obama."

But jk thinks:

Gosh darnit, br, I'm not sure that theory is consistent with The Heretic's call for a kinder and gentler tone on the right...

The Clinton retreads reinforce my concern that there is a permanent political class that wields immense power without ever being subject to an election. Elect any Democrat and you're going to get Podesta, Gorelick and, if you're unfortunate, James Wilson IV.

Posted by: jk at November 11, 2008 12:50 PM
But The Heretic thinks:

Huh? Need I remind y'all of the Nixon/George HW Bush retards in the Geroge Bush administration - Rumsfeld, Cheney....

Posted by: The Heretic at November 11, 2008 9:18 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I'm going to take the liberty to correct a typographical error on the part of Heretic. I'm certain he meant to write "retreads" and not "retards."

(A simple mistake and I won't even make any jokes about Freudian slips.)

Posted by: johngalt at November 12, 2008 10:16 AM
But jk thinks:

I was not at all sure that he did not mean retards.

Heretic, I completely agree and should have stated that the problem exists on both sides of the aisle. I will point out that two of those retards, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, spent the intervening decades in the private sector. Democrats celebrate the power of government, perhaps it is fitting that they stay closer to it.

Posted by: jk at November 12, 2008 11:02 AM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Fresh off of a victory based on "change," a "new direction" and "post-partisanship," surely anyone can see the irony of picking not only people from the past, but from the most cynically partisan administration in recent memory.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at November 12, 2008 1:07 PM
But LatteSipper thinks:

"from the most cynically partisan administration in recent memory" BR? I don't think he's picked anyone from the Bush administration yet, Gates leaks not withstanding.

Posted by: LatteSipper at November 13, 2008 5:57 PM

November 10, 2008

On New Monetarism

I was pretty lonely in my support for David Roche's "New Monetarism" last December. I was intrigued by the book's suggestion that derivatives and new mechanisms for leverage had "created" currency outside of central banks and used it as an argument against inflation predictions.

The thesis of the book, however, was gloom and doom: that these securities would be difficult to unwind and that central banks would find their powers lacking when they tried to restore liquidity. Roche has something of an I-told-you-so in the Asia WSJ today. Actually it is shorter on gloating than I would have been, but Roche portends further problems for emerging markets:

Most emerging markets don't have sufficiently robust domestic demand to offset the impact of falling exports as well as an overhang of surplus capacity in the export sector. Their domestic economies are just too small. In China, for example, the consumer accounts for only 36% of demand and investment for 42%, much of it export-related. In the U.S., the figure for the consumer is 70%.

Emerging-market exports were not the only beneficiary of excess credit growth. Capital flows were just as important. Excess liquidity flooded into these economies in the form of portfolio and FDI inflows. This boosted currencies and bloated domestic money supply and credit. In turn, this drove up asset prices and so created more wealth and more demand. Unsurprisingly, the private sector in these countries spotted the opportunity to borrow cheap money in weak currencies and built up massive amounts of dollar and yen debts and foreign exchange derivative liabilities.


But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Roche is right in that he's repeating what everyone else already said, and he's wrong for attributing it to his "New Monetarism." There was no new money created, only bad investments spurred on by government. Remember that Fannie and Freddie were THE agents responsible for recyling money, by buying up mortgages (whether or not they were securitized) from lenders. Still, there was no new money created, only new liabilities.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at November 10, 2008 4:06 PM

Does the Slippery Slope go up?

Stop him before he tortures this metaphor any further! Slippery slopes go down!

Hear me out. I think every ThreeSourcer will agree with the WSJ Ed Page that a bailout of the big three automakers is counter-productive.

For decades, Congress has never had a second thought as it imposed tighter emissions standards on GM, Ford and Chrysler, denouncing them for making evil SUVs. Yet now that the companies are bleeding cash, and may be heading for bankruptcy, suddenly the shrinking Big Three are the latest candidates for a taxpayer bailout. One $25 billion loan facility has already been signed into law, and Senator Debbie Stabenow (D., Mich.) wants another $25 billion, this time with no strings attached.

But, and I know this won't be popular 'round these parts, I fear that the "no-bailouts!" brigades have spent all their energy in opposition to the Paulson Plan. I don't want to tell principled people what to think, but I am very comfortable having supported the Paulson rescue and opposing the Stabenow bailout.

In spite of President Jackson and AG Taney's heroic work in the 1830s. the Federal government has a substantive involvement in the financial system. Fiat money rules the world, for better or worse, and I can't see the Fed and Treasury sipping coffee (mmm, coffee) while the global credit markets seize up. The idea of the Paulson plan was to buy assets, thereby injecting liquidity and using the government's singular ability to float bad paper on its balance sheet through the bad times. I know that few -- okay, maybe nobody -- agrees with me on this but it is a legitimate position. The lender of last resort.

The automotive industry is not a casualty of the credit crisis. It is a casualty of Schumpeterian gales of creative destruction and an anachronistic labor model. Bankruptcy seems a far superior option than a bailout. In bankruptcy, the companies will be able to renegotiate union and dealer contracts. The bailout will leave all these structural flaws in place.

So what's this slippery slope up nonsense? I fear the opposition to the defensible Paulson rescue plan has undermined opposition to the indefensible automotive bailout. "Oh those, wacky right wingers, they want everybody to fail." Better to claim that government has an interest in keeping markets operating, but not in preserving outdated industrial models.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 10:23 AM | What do you think? [1]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

You beat This Refugee to the punch, JK. Any Detroit bailout is a subsidy to the unions. While management and unions may share the blame, there's no disputing that the current business/compensation/work rule model is unsustainable. Left to the market, GM, Chrysler and maybe even Ford would file Chapter 11. Bankruptcy would allow the companies to shed the yoke of union contracts via court order. Using taxpayer funds, the unions can protect their position. Having spent nearly $400 million of their member's dues to elect Democrats, you can bet the unions are calling in all their markers for a little ROI.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at November 10, 2008 11:44 AM

November 9, 2008

And so it begins...

The AP reports:


Podesta also said Obama is working to build a diverse Cabinet. That includes reaching out to Republicans and independents - part of the broad coalition that supported Obama during the race against Republican John McCain. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has been mentioned as a possible holdover.

"He's not even a Republican," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said. "Why wouldn't we want to keep him? He's never been a registered Republican."


Change you can believe in.

Obama Administration Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 11:09 PM | What do you think? [3]
But T. Greer thinks:

Robert Gates is a better man than the entire U.S. Senate combined- I dearly hope that Obama realizes this and keeps Gates on. Of course, he won't (See here: http://westhawk.blogspot.com/2008/11/on-january-20-robert-gates-will-leave.html#links), but one can hope.

~T. Greer, thinking Gates would make a great SecState as well.

Posted by: T. Greer at November 9, 2008 11:59 PM
But jk thinks:

Amen to Gates. That would be an awesome display of continuity and a good world lesson in civilian control of the military.

The Westhawk piece is compelling, tg, and I've little doubt that it is true. Yet when the POTUS asks you to do something, it's difficult to say no (especially if POTUS has Chicago friends who break fingers...no, just kidding...no really).

Yup, the policy differences would be huge but that is all the more reason for Sec Gates to bring a little sanity to the team. I'm not saying it will happen, but I won't stop hoping until he announces that he has given job to Cindy Sheehan or Rep. Kucinich.

Put me down as hating this faux bipartisan nonsense. Obama will name Chuck Hagel to a position and we are supposed to cheer? E.J. Dionne was on Kudlow last week and suggested Senator Lincoln Chafee as a "bipartisan" pick. Yeah, my GOP heart would swell with pride to see a deep Republican like Linc Chafee in the administration.

Posted by: jk at November 10, 2008 10:13 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Big O would do well to place some genuine Republicans in his cabinet and at all other levels of his administration. He'll be needing scapgoats soon. LOTS of them.

Posted by: johngalt at November 11, 2008 1:13 AM

Moment of Pride

An African-American -- and extremely liberal -- relative of mine sends several cartoons by email. He got them from Slate. He lists this as his favorite:
ratified2008.gif


This may not melt the bitter and disappointed hearts around ThreeSources, but to ignore it is to deny yourself some joy.

UPDATE: As an olive branch, perhaps, he included this as well:
slate_cartoon15.gif

2008 Posted by John Kranz at 5:46 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

"Ratified" says Toles, with the election of a mostly-black man as president. Yet it was the Constitution which required ratification, not the Declaration of Independence from which the hallowed phrase was actually borrowed. The Declaration was not ratified, but voluntarily and individually signed by 56 men (yes, men, and white ones at that) who "mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."

One wonders how, if all men are "created" equal, how it can be justified to take from one later in his life and give it to another. (I know the answer - this is a rhetorical question.)

Indulge me in one more borrowed phrase from "some Jefferson guy's" masterwork:

"In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people."

Posted by: johngalt at November 12, 2008 5:06 PM

Okay, we sucked!

Wow, I saw a little of this on the FOXNews crawl, and now Insty links. The WaPo Ombudsperson, Deborah Howell:

The Post provided a lot of good campaign coverage, but readers have been consistently critical of the lack of probing issues coverage and what they saw as a tilt toward Democrat Barack Obama. My surveys, which ended on Election Day, show that they are right on both counts.

Whole thing, trust me.


November 8, 2008

Operation Leper

More info here:

Operation Leper

2008 Posted by AlexC at 11:46 AM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

I'm in! It is unconscionable that the weasels that ran a miserable campaign for Senator McCain would scapegoat Gov. Palin to a willing press.

Posted by: jk at November 8, 2008 12:15 PM

November 7, 2008

Obama & Guns

Yes.

He will take them away.

They also support making the expired federal Assault Weapons Ban permanent, as such weapons belong on foreign battlefields and not on our streets.

These so-called "assault weapons" are semi-automatic rifles, no different than the semi-automatic 30.06 my father in law hunts with (I have a bolt action .300 WinMag). So he's lying yet again. He does want to take your rifle away.

I've always been a "gentleman" shooter. Only a few arms... and not a collector.

That's going to change.

One never knows.

But johngalt thinks:

I like the metaphor in the movie clip - the sand worm representing Obama's ATF.

Regarding the quote from the banner at ace.mu.nu...
"Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit upon his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats." -- H.L. Mencken: I recommend John Ross' Unintended Consequences. (Don't miss the first review.)

Posted by: johngalt at November 8, 2008 11:17 AM

Unprompted

Someone get this man a teleprompter.

President-elect Barack Obama called Nancy Reagan today to apologize for the careless and off handed remark he made during todays press conference," said transition spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter. "The President-elect expressed his admiration and affection for Mrs. Reagan that so many Americans share and they had a warm conversation."

Obama was asked at his press conference today if he'd spoken to all the "living" presidents.

"I have spoken to all of them who are living," he responded. "I didnt want to get into a Nancy Reagan thing about doing any sances."


Stay classy Mr President-Elect.

2008 Posted by AlexC at 8:50 PM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

James Robbins reminds:

Nice dig at Nancy Reagan from the President-elect. I seem to recall also that Hillary Clinton had imaginary conversations with the shade of Eleanor Roosevelt.

Posted by: jk at November 8, 2008 11:55 AM

Election Night Recap

Hat-tip: Samizdata


RIP Quote of the Day

Let's be clear: The work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus.

There is no such thing as consensus science. If it's consensus, it isn't science. If it's science, it isn't consensus. Period. . . .

I would remind you to notice where the claim of consensus is invoked. Consensus is invoked only in situations where the science is not solid enough. Nobody says the consensus of scientists agrees that E=mc2. Nobody says the consensus is that the sun is 93 million miles away. It would never occur to anyone to speak that way. -- the late Michael Crichton, discounting global warming in a 2003 speech.

But johngalt thinks:

Great post JK, though a better title would be your well known, "Giants have walked the earth."

Crichton's closing paragraph has a familiar ring:

"Nobody believes a weather prediction twelve hours hours ahead. Now we're asked to believe a prediction that goes out 100 years into the future? And make financial investments based on that prediction? Has everybody lost their minds?"

This is reminiscent of dagny's plea, not on these pages but in an email to my liberal friends, "WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH SOME OF YOU PEOPLE?"

There was another place, in another time, when thoughtful people wondered how a population could be so misled. An excellent analysis of how it happened, and may well happen again, can be read in Leonard Peikoff's The Ominous Parallels.

Posted by: johngalt at November 8, 2008 11:48 AM

COS Emmanuel

Now that the election's over, we can ignore politics and get back to our lives.

Or, we could discuss President-elect Obama's staff and cabinet appointments. Yeah, that sounds good!

I rolled my eyes when I heard that Rep, Rahm Emmanuel (D - Clintonistan) was picked for Chief of Staff. "Post partisan, indeed," sniggered I. But I have now come around to the view of some teevee pundits and the WSJ Ed Page: A President Obama will need a tough like Emmanuel to protect him from an überliberal Congress. And if trade is one of my largest worries about an Obama Administration, having NAFTA-Man (with his maple-leaf tights) onboard is not a bad idea.

He helped to negotiate the 1997 balanced budget deal that cut the capital gains tax even as it created the children's health-care entitlement. He supports expanded trade and will not want Mr. Obama to govern as a protectionist. The Chicagoan also has experience with financial markets, so he is likely to be a voice against the long-term nationalization of the U.S. banking system.

As for Mr. Emanuel's famously sharp elbows, they are as likely to be wielded against his fellow Democrats as against Republicans. With Democrats now so dominant, the fiercest fights -- and the ones that really matter -- will take place among Democratic factions in the White House and Capitol Hill. Mr. Emanuel can help Mr. Obama understand when he needs to ignore the pleas of the left and govern from the center.


Now, as for his economic team, blog friend Josh at Everyday Economist has shed his non-partisan demeanor to worry about the dubious pick of Gov. Jennifer Granholm. Bringing the "Michigan Miracle" to the whole nation are we?

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 11:33 AM | What do you think? [1]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

"Balanced budget"? As I commented some weeks back, the only reason the budget became "balanced" was because the tech boom brought in tax revenue faster than they could spend it. It was NOT because of any "fiscal discipline" no matter how much they claim it was.

There's already talk that Obama will have to "delay" his tax cuts (surprised?). Now Granholm. Coincidence? Or would that be confluence? Or both?

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at November 7, 2008 3:12 PM

November 6, 2008

Quote of the day

In a comment to 'I [heart] W' on these very pages, Boulder Refugee wrote:

If the left wants a "new tone" in politics, all they have to do is shut up.

Maybe I just don't get out enough but I've never - ever - heard it said better than that.

Politics Posted by JohnGalt at 10:26 PM | What do you think? [3]
But Terri thinks:

I agree.

Sadly, they don't think so. See:
http://ace.mu.nu/archives/277642.php

Posted by: Terri at November 7, 2008 11:15 AM
But The Heretic thinks:

It would behoove the right to start by looking in the mirror first.

Posted by: The Heretic at November 8, 2008 2:47 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

The Refugee will admit that Michael Savage is often over the top and that he lost much respect for Ann Coulter as well. Even so, when considering the words of Howard Dean, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reed, Harry Belafonte, Sean Penn, Barbara Streisand, Danny Glover, Alec "Kill their mothers" Baldwin, Spike Lee, Jane Fonda, The Huffington Post and the Daily Kos, it is clear that the Democrat party has become the undisputed champion of hateful rhetoric.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at November 10, 2008 4:11 PM

Fusionism: Cool Again?

Ilya Somin at Volkh Conspiracy thinks it's time conservatives and libertarians banded together: "Reforging the conservative-libertarian coalition will be very hard. Relations between the two groups have always been tense, and the last eight years have undeniably drawn down the stock of goodwill. But if we can't find a new way to hang together, we are all too likely to hang separately."

Good Post (HT: Instapundit)

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 7:13 PM | What do you think? [0]

The Aftermath

Must watch:

2008 Posted by AlexC at 5:16 PM | What do you think? [2]
But Riza Rivera thinks:

This is about my sister. If I didn't know someone like this it would be funnier. But He gave her meaningless life meaning.He gave her hope. My hopes tend to be different. My hope three years ago was to be able to walk. At the beginning of this year it was to walk like normal people do. My hope now is to have more range of motion in my arm. And that is getting better also.My life is full of hope and dreams that with a ton of hard work are a reality.

Posted by: Riza Rivera at November 7, 2008 11:29 AM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Now THAT'S hope we can believe in!

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at November 7, 2008 1:17 PM

Ringing Endorsement

Lisa Mossie at PA Water Cooler informs that neither Gov. Ed Rendell (D - PA) nor Senator Arlen Specter (RINO - PA) is a big fan of Governor Palin:

Rendell says if the Republicans ever hope to have a chance again, they have to shelve John McCains choice for the #2 spot:

A Republican Party that is dominated by the philosophy of people like Sarah Palin can, in my judgment, never win again in places like the Philadelphia suburbs and the Philadelphia media market.

Asked whether Palin represents the future of the party, Sen. Specter answered succinctly: No.


That's good enough for me: Palin 2012!

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 4:41 PM | What do you think? [0]

I [Heart] W

He's taken his lumps on these pages, but I have agreed with Jay Nordlinger for some time that we are going to miss President Bush, whoever wins the election. We know now, and I am even more certain.

Terri at I Think ^(Link) Therefore I Err brings us I Love George W Bush Day. It's full of linkedy goodness, but here's a quote I like from former Speechwriter Michael Gerson:

But that humanity is precisely what I will remember. I have seen President Bush show more loyalty than he has been given, more generosity than he has received. I have seen his buoyancy under the weight of malice and his forgiveness of faithless friends. Again and again, I have seen the natural tug of his pride swiftly overcome by a deeper decency a decency that is privately engaging and publicly consequential.

I'm guessing that a few ThreeSourcers will not be too anxious to participate in I Love George W. Bush Day, but the Gerson quote sums up an appreciation I will keep that goes beyond politics or polity.

President Bush Posted by John Kranz at 12:20 PM | What do you think? [1]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Please send the party invitation, via courier, to The Refugee. While he has had his differences with 'W', (i.e., domestic spending and too much willingness to go-along-to-get-along with Republicans and Democrats alike), The Refugee believes that Bush/Cheney are good and decent people trying to do the right thing. The Refugee would be pleased to accompany either on a hunting trip in their retirement.

Bush/Cheney have been the targets of extraordinary bile and vitriol from the left ("stupid," "worst in history," "stole the election", "illegitimate," "Nazis," "murderers," "dictators", etc. etc.). And this from the people who decry a lack of civility in politics. If the left wants a "new tone" in politics, all they have to do is shut up.

As The Refugee has previously stated, he thinks that McCain's eagerness to throw GWB under the bus, good and bad, was unseemly to voters and simply valided Obama's message. However, there appears to be a genuine animus from McCain toward GWB. On the plus side, the Republicans never have to deal with McCain ever again as a national candidate. He can walk off into the sunset hand-in-hand with Ted Kennedy.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at November 6, 2008 3:20 PM

The Nonexistent GOP Youth Vote

Professor Greg Mankiw admits that Harvard undergrads are hardly a random sample of the population, but that his discussions with them have led him to conjecture:

These particular students told me they preferred the lower tax, more limited government, freer trade views of McCain, but they were voting for Obama on the basis of foreign policy and especially social issues like abortion. The choice of a social conservative like Palin as veep really turned them off McCain.

So what does the Republican Party need to do to get the youth vote back? If these Harvard students are typical (and perhaps they are not, as Harvard students are hardly a random sample), the party needs to scale back its social conservatism. Put simply, it needs to become a party for moderate and mainstream libertarians. The actual Libertarian Party is far too extreme in its views to attract these students. And it is too much of a strange fringe group. These students are, after all, part of the establishment. But a reformed Republican Party could, I think, win them back.


The post opens with a startling graph of the paucity of GOP youth vote. I'll concede that the Republicans will never flip that to a 2-1 majority, but it will be hard to win elections if we continue to give away 66% of the youth vote and 90% of African-Americans.

The hard-core social conservative issues are playing with fire. I have no doubt that there will be a call to accentuate them going forward after the "moderate" McCain lost. I still believe in Frank Meyers's fusionism, and disagree with Mankiw's students that Governor Palin does not bridge the Conservative-Libertarian divide. I think that she, like President Reagan, can appeal to both.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 10:43 AM | What do you think? [11]
But johngalt thinks:

Thanks dag. I didn't realize the error until now myself.

While were in 'corrections' mode let me also apologize for mischaracterizing JK's 'Roe' position. I only remembered the second half of your argument.

Posted by: johngalt at November 6, 2008 10:22 PM
But jk thinks:

Forget that -- I want to know which evil ThreeSourcer opposes Pumkin Pie -- we may have our first excommunication!

Posted by: jk at November 7, 2008 11:14 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I refuse to answer that question on the grounds that it may draw aspersions upon someone I love. (And before you draw any conclusions, I DO love myself!)

Posted by: johngalt at November 7, 2008 5:11 PM
But jk thinks:

It's probably best I don't know.

Posted by: jk at November 7, 2008 5:34 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

@Jk: Sorry, I have not replied to you sooner, but I have been a bit busy of late. So anyway, here is the 30 second version of a two page post I had planned on writing before the election was over:

On the face of the matter, McCain and Obama seem to have one of their largest splits on policy with their positions on the United State's relations with the Middle East. However, a quick look between the lines leads one to the conclusion that their positions on Iraq, Afghanistan, and Iran are essentially the same.

John McCain has stated that Americans should stay in Iraq until victory is achieved. He has been less willing to place a timeline on when such a victory will happen. However, it is not hard to infer what a McCain administration's troop levels would look like: if current trends in Iraq continue, Iraq will be a fully self-sufficient state able to protect itself from both foreign and domestic enemies by 2012. (I would say 2011, but I am on the optimistic side of the debate.) Likewise, the merging SOFA agreement between the U.S. and Iraq will probably attach a timeline to the U.S. troop presence in Iraq- either way, the majority of our boys will be out of Iraq before the end of 2012.

In contrast, Obama originally pushed for a 16 month withdrawal plan (although in recent times he has backed away from this position), the tactical realities of the situation mean that it is impossible to withdraw our troops at the said pace. Obama simply will not be able to do so.

It is also worth noting that Obama's plan calls for enough troops to be stationed in Iraq to respond to any terrorist threats, and his vice-president has declared that the Obama administration will use American troops to stop genocides across the world. This is pretty much identical to the McCain position, which stated that we should not make any hasty plans for withdrawal lest either terrorist cells or ethnic cleansing becomes widespread in Iraq.

So what will an actual Obama or McCain administration Iraq policy look like? Well, by 2011 the majority of our troops will be rotated out of Iraq, probably with a force of 30,000 or so still in the country. The difference will be in how the President's address the rotation- for McCain, we will have had our "victory." For Obama, we will be "withdrawing from a war we never should have started." While soldiers are being rotated out of Iraq, a similar number will be rotated into Afghanistan. Again, the Obama and McCain strategies are practically the same; the difference being that McCain will call his plan a "surge" while Obama will be “focusing America on the real war on terror."

Their Iran policies are also pretty similar. While Obama talked quite a bit about meeting with Iranian leaders “without preconditions” early on in his campaign, it didn’t take long for Obama to backtrack and provide a list of conditions that would need to be met, or at least addressed, before any summit level meetings between Obama and whoever happened to the President of Iran at the time. In reality, both will use low level diplomats to try and engage in a dialogue with Iran, and if that fails, will push for harder sanctions on the country. Neither is likely to go to war with Iran even if they obtain nuclear weapons, as it is a sad reality that any conflict between Iran and the United States would spell disaster for every American soldier in Afghanistan and Iraq, something niether President would find acceptable.

~T. Greer, originally planning on titling the expanded version of the above comments: “Obama, McCain and Iraq: More sound than fury.”

Posted by: T. Greer at November 8, 2008 9:50 PM
But jk thinks:

I'll look forward to linking to the full post.

But I overwhelmingly disagree.

I'll accept that the actual outcome of a President McCain or a President Obama in Iraq will be about the same but that is a coincidence based both on the success of the surge and counterinsurgency efforts and, as you mention, the logistical difficulties of executing a good cut and run. Because victory and retreat look similar from Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Colorado does not mean it will look the same to our MidEastern allies or our enemies.

On Iran I would suggest that ambiguity has been historically problematic for the US; and that President-elect Obama is willing to use ambiguity to play differences between audiences. Dean Acheson suggested that Korea was "outside our perimeter" and the Bush 41 Administration implied the same about Kuwait. Both China and Iraq thought they had a green light to invade and the US had to project power across the globe to disabuse them.

I'm hoping for the best on domestic and foreign policy from an Obama Administration. I'm probably one of the more sanguine folks 'round these parts. But I feel that Obama and a huge portion of his voters want terrorism to be handled more as a criminal and not military matter. I wish him luck with that but think that like ambiguity, that emboldens our enemies. I'd love to be proven wrong.

Posted by: jk at November 9, 2008 11:27 AM

November 5, 2008

Perfect for Gub'mint work!

Don Luskin highlights the resume of the new bank regulator for the NY Fed, Michael Alix:

Most recently, Mr. Alix worked for the Bear Stearns Companies, Inc., where he served as chief risk officer from 2006-2008 and global head of credit risk management from 1996-2006.


Quote of the Day

I spent most of the morning in a room full of Sons of Iraq leadership, watching Al Arabia's coverage of said election. Explaining the electoral college through an interpreter is, in case you've never done it, kind of an adventure.-- Milblogger Bad Dogs and Such
From a nice collection of military bloggers' reactions at Mudville Gazette

Told Ya!

Got this from work:

Websense Security Labs(TM) ThreatSeeker(TM) Network has discovered that malware authors are capitalizing on the recently announced results of the 2008 US Presidential election. Malicious email lures are being sent promising a video showing an interview with the advisors to the recently elected US President.

The email actually contains links to a file called 'BarackObama.exe' hosted on a compromised travel site at hxxp://*snip*.com/web/BarackObama.exe. This file is a Trojan Downloader with MD5 9720d70a5da9ca442ecf41e9269f5a27. Upon execution files called system.exe and firewall.exe are dropped into the system directory. A phishing kit is unpacked locally, and the dropped files are bound to startup. The hosts file is also modified.

Major anti-virus vendors are not detecting this Trojan Horse.


Goddam Democrats! Hope and Change, my ass!

2008 Posted by John Kranz at 3:31 PM | What do you think? [0]

The Discussion we Missed

We'll spend a little time "fixing" the GOP on these pages -- there's a fun thread waaaay down the page.

But I'd rather fix the level of debate. And I bet I might get The Heretic and LatteSipper (mmmm, coffee) on board. Dr. Helen has a nice quote today. She's glad "It's the Economy Stupid."

Next election cycle, it will be something else. It might favor the Republicans or it might not. But to think that the entire philosophy of individual rights, small government, national security and gun rights is lost on a new generation of voters based on this one election is not only foolish, it shows a degree of cynicism that may not be accurate. The next two or three election cycles will need to be evaluated before we can say that America has rejected the ideas of free markets and free minds.

Does anybody think that was discussed this year? We had a superb differential in candidates' philosophy, a liberal democrat versus a conservative Republican. But the Democrat talked about "hope" and "change" and the Republican talked about Bill Ayers and experience.

McCain was right to propose the ten town hall meetings. I don't think our great nation has the attention span for Lincoln-Douglass debates, but we need the depth of debate we got in the comedy routines of the Al Smith Dinner. The media and debates and campaigns prevented any meaningful discussion.

2008 Posted by John Kranz at 1:36 PM | What do you think? [7]
But johngalt thinks:

CONSERVATIVE Republican? We weren't watching the same election brother.

You can choose to whistle past the graveyard with Dr. Helen but the mere fact that voters choose Democrats and their socialist solutions to economic problems is proof enough that at least the ideas of individual rights and small government are in peril. National security and gun rights shouldn't rest comfortably either. (See my Inaugural Speech post below.)

Conservatism's electoral problem is principally the effect of forty years of labor union controlled post-modern public education that somehow results in our young people believing that "commies are cool."

Posted by: johngalt at November 5, 2008 4:29 PM
But jk thinks:

Conservative enough to take the side of the forces of light in a discussion of taxation, health care, free trade, gun rights, and the importance of a muscular defense. I decry his populism but find that to be part of conservatism today. If you disagree, it's semantics but when I part ways with Senator McCain, I don't feel I am taking the "conservative" side.

Keep in mind my hero's magnum opus closes with a chapter titled "Why I Am Not a Conservative." I don't hold the term in the reverence some around here do.

Posted by: jk at November 5, 2008 4:47 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

And conservative enough to propose a $300 billion bailout that Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan would have never, EVER supported (let alone proposed), even if it was the one thing that meant winning an election?

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at November 5, 2008 8:31 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Respectfully, John McCain is conservative when compared to Obama, or even to most Democrats. But there are conservative Republicans, liberal Republicans and then there are quixotic "mavericks" like McCain. I suppose that explains how we can both see the same man differently. In fact, I think we've all shared the conflicting sentiments of loving and hating what the man does at any point in time.

Posted by: johngalt at November 5, 2008 9:09 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

If you want to talk about a real conservative, Mark Levin (no I'm not talking about him) on his radio show last night was playing some of Ronald Reagan's speeches. One was from 1964, in support of Goldwater. Not sure where the others were from.

Reagan decrying how federal agents can search without warrants, and even levied fines without trial against a man who "overplanted" rice. The man's lands were seized and auctioned off to satisfy the federal judgment.

The Gipper decrying foreign aid to poor countries that turn around and buy 1000 TVs for a town with no electricity, and $7 billion in U.S. gold. (The latter is because the inherently broken Bretton Woods system fixed gold at $35 per ounce, but the world market price. You made money by buying gold from the U.S. government and selling it on the world market. That's why Nixon ended our involvement, which was not "taking us off the gold standard" like people think.)

The Gipper blasting the bureaucracy of government: "Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!"

Now that was a real conservative, and someone a libertarian could support in good conscience.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at November 6, 2008 11:34 AM
But jk thinks:

Oh yeah, President Reagan remains the standard. I may still be star-struck, but I see some of that in Governor Palin. She doesn’t have his deep ideological temperment, but she has the courage and the natural ability to operate on both sides of Conservative-Libertarian divide.

Posted by: jk at November 6, 2008 12:53 PM

Obama's Inaugural Speech

"My fellow Americans. Our nation is at a crossroads in history. We must choose, together, whether to continue the foreign policy goals of the past or to pursue a new course - one which considers the welfare of nations beyond just our own.

Now, with this historic election behind us and a hopeful future ahead, I have spent countless hours receiving the counsel of the man who knows more about the state of affairs in this world than any other American, President George W. Bush. By now everyone understands my priorities and beliefs, and to those I have added significant insight into the importance of events in our recent history. As a result I now pledge to the armed forces of the United States, the American people, and to the world that this nation will not abandon the cause of freedom that has been served for the past five years in Iraq. America will remain a steadfast ally of the Iraqi people and will enter into a joint forces pact with their government.

Let there be no confusion in the capitals of Iraq's neighbors as to the commitment and determination of the American people to prevent tyranny and militancy from ever regaining their former positions in this important part of the world."

Hey, a guy can dream, right?


Good Vibes Have a Short Shelf Life

The Boston Herald reports on bitter clingers for McCain who just can't accept this brave new world:

Some stood with arms crossed, anger etched on their faces. Others expressed disappointment, even fear. Still others wiped away tears and grumbled when John McCain congratulated his opponent, America's first black president, for making history.

Wow! Crossed arms! Those Republicans are really really mean. As we were promised riots in the event of a McCain upset, I'm thinking I can handle some -- even severely -- crossed arms.

I will say that McCain's concession speech was perfect and classy. He was stunned when the crowd booed President-elect Obama. I have my gripes with Senator McCain as a candidate and as a Senator. But he proved himself to be a classy guy and a true patriot.

But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

"Still others wiped away tears and grumbled when John McCain congratulated his opponent, America's first black president, for making history."

Once more, Obama's supporters, especially the mainstream media, always have to bring race into it. What a spin to imply "racism" on the part of McCain's grumbling supporters!

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at November 5, 2008 4:55 PM

Well, that didn't quite turn out as well as I had hoped

Congratulations to President-Elect Obama. He ran a superb campaign and won fair and square. Next January, he will certainly be "my President." He has surrounded himself with some pretty smart people and I hope that most of his campaign promises get thrown in the overheated rhetoric pile. A Treasury Secretary Summers and OMB chief Goolsbee would likely temper his "redistributionist" instincts.

AlexC might be right. The GOP might make Governor Palin the sacrificial lamb but I certainly hope they don't. Every GOP blowhard of the last three decades will now claim "if they had only listened to me..."

In truth, I think we (Republicans, kimosabe) are reaping what we sowed in the 108th-109th Congresses and enabled by the second Bush term. If you want corrupt, inefficient and bloated government, turn to the pros. The GOP should make a convincing case that less government is better. But they can't do that with Tom Delay, Dennis Hastert, Ted Stevens, Don Young and Jerry Lewis lining their pockets with largess. It's a cliche that "the brand is damaged" but you have to admit it has verisimilitude.

My predictions sucked and my hope was misplaced but I am claiming vindication on my discounting of the Libertarian Party and my suggestion that those who crave liberty find a more efficacious forum for their ideas. The "Star Trek Convention of Politics" recruited a well known candidate and benefitted from both a disgruntled and disillusioned GOP and residual interest from the Ron Paul campaign. With these head-starts, they made new, unprecedented surges into irrelevance. Turn out the lights when you're done boys.

We'll be okay. Rest up folks and remember that you love your country more than your party. Maybe, if we become France, we'll get some of that good cheese and chocolate. Not sure how it works, but that subsidized, protected stuff is really good.

2008 Posted by John Kranz at 10:30 AM | What do you think? [11]
But The Heretic thinks:

JK: I have enormous amount of respect for McCain for the gracious concession speech he delivered yesterday. AND I respect you for your gracious comments.

I expect that a President Obama will indeed move more to the center. He has to keep the house majority in 2 years afterall.

Posted by: The Heretic at November 5, 2008 12:06 PM
But jk thinks:

I forgot the but:

But you cannot claim that voter fraud (or black racism) delivered this election to Obama. I'll stand by my "fair and square" phrase. He picked and exploited his opportunities. I'll grumble for years about "Bush == McCain" and how easy the media went on both Obama and Biden.

But they played their hand to victory and I will not say "elections matter" when my guy is living at 1600 Penn, and "they stole it" when their guy is.

Posted by: jk at November 5, 2008 12:12 PM
But johngalt thinks:

More votes in this election were "stolen" by the media establishment than by ACORN, the Daly machine and the Black Panthers combined.

The blatant favoritism, revisionism and absence of objectivity in "news" coverage of Senator Obama's entire career is too shameful to describe in a few sentences. That entire industry requires reform as much or more than does our two-party political system.

Posted by: johngalt at November 5, 2008 1:15 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Once more, I'm not saying voter fraud is the sole reason, but it's an undeniable factor. ACORN wouldn't have pushed so hard if they felt Obama could win via the Santa Claus platform.

And the fraud was facilitated by the MSM turning a blind eye to it, or "dismissing" it as a few rogue operatives among otherwise law-abiding ACORN operatives. We'll never know, just like we'll never know the full extent of Chicago voter fraud helping tilt the 1960 election to Kennedy. Were they the decisive factor? Can't say. To repeat my comment in the other thread, that's the sinister beauty of it.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at November 5, 2008 5:00 PM
But dagny thinks:

Heretic,

I hope to heck you are right about a President Obama moving to the, "center." BUT, with Democrats in control of all of congress, that seems VERY unlikely to me. They believe, with a religious fervor, and despite all the evidence of history, that socialism is the solution to the country's problems. I think they will push it as far as they can go, all with the best of intentions. I'd like to be wrong.

Posted by: dagny at November 6, 2008 9:46 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

dagny, we're going to see very soon that the "conservative Democrat," the so-called Blue Dog, is a mythical creature. Mythical like, say, the "chupacabra." Except that Democrats by definition ARE real-life bloodsuckers.

"Conservative Democrats" only pretended to be so, in order to win more conservative districts/states. Now they won't have to camouflage their true colors. Their party has the White House with solid control of Congress, a strong position they haven't seen since 1976. On top of that, the American people have been softened up over the last 16 years to the idea that government should and can take of them. We're going to see an attempt to expand the welfare state that's greater than GWB, Nixon and LBJ ever did.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at November 6, 2008 12:00 PM

November 4, 2008

Election Day Results

Rocking the vote at my polling place all day long.

Too tired to blog.

Congratulations Democrats, Media (I repeat myself) & Barack Obama.

A big F you to the four Obama NYC douchebag lawyers who stalked around my polling place all day.

Not only did you NOT know our voters or our combined polling place, you were giving people the wrong directions all day long causing chaos inside the poll.

... and thanks for leaving behind your signs. I don't sh!t in your house, don't come to mine and sh!t in it.

As for John McCain.. he ran a good race at the end here, and he was really the only Republican shot this year.

Sarah Palin goes back to Alaska to serve out her terms... She'll get the blame for the loss.... and that will be it.

2008 Posted by AlexC at 9:45 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Thanks for your hard work and dedication AC.

Some Americans deserve what we're about to get with Obama and some don't. You're in the "don't blame me" camp.

Bad enough to prove the fallacies of socialism (within 4 years) but not bad enough to cause permanent damage to the Republic - that's a fine line to hope for.

Posted by: johngalt at November 5, 2008 12:07 AM

Gettin' it done in Ohio!

D'ja see this?

CBS: Obama Takes Pennsylvania, Ohio

Posted by LatteSipper at 9:31 PM | What do you think? [9]
But dagny thinks:

Obama thinks that taxes should be raised on those who earn more and given to those earn less and already pay nothing. If this is not socialism, what do you call it?

Posted by: dagny at November 5, 2008 12:00 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

"I simply reject your characterization of Obama as a socialist."

You can also reject that the Earth revolves around the sun, based on your empirical observation, but it does not change fact.

Please explain how wanting to spread MY wealth around to others is somehow not socialist.

"I also reject those who would cast him as a pal of terrorists that wish to do harm to this country."

Again, you can dismiss his close associations with the confessed-and-unrepentant domestic terrorist named Bill Ayers, but it does not change the fact.

"Today a majority of American voters rejected that specious argument as well."

You're assuming that a majority of voters is implicitly correct. In fact, this is on the verge of begging the question.

The majority of voters, putting aside all the fraudulent votes, chose to believe Obama's impossible promises of tax cuts, affordable health care for everyone, not to mention peace, land, and bread.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at November 5, 2008 1:22 AM
But LatteSipper thinks:

You confuse fact for opinion. Your opinion is stated boldly and with great certitude, but it doesn't make it fact. I agree with you that a winning a majority of the vote doesn't make the winner right on all their positions - I offer the 2004 presidential election as evidence of this.

Continuing with the theme of opinion vs fact:

"The majority of voters, putting aside all the fraudulent votes, ..."

How many fraudulent votes was that? What's the correct tally? Which states would McCain have won if it weren't for the "fraudulent votes" you refer to? Instead of winning the popular vote 52% to 46% (using the home page of wsj.com as of 9:29 a.m. eastern), did Obama actually win by 51.99% to 46.01%?

Posted by: LatteSipper at November 5, 2008 9:38 AM
But dagny thinks:

OK, Latte, If it is, "opinion," that Obama's policies are socialist, please share the reason for your alternate opinion. How is it anything but socialist to raise taxes on those who earn more and give it to those earn less and already pay nothing?

Addtionally, Obama plans to increase taxes on the, "big, evil," corporations and give to the, "middle class." I know people who are currently unemployed. Is someone in the, "middle class," going to provide them with jobs? Punitive taxation on corporations will prevent employment. How are middle class taxpayers better off then?

These are serious questions. The only other Obama supporter I could get to explain his position, heretic, was supporting Obama on foreign policy grounds. He agreed that Obama's economic policies were mostly socialist and terrible.

Posted by: dagny at November 5, 2008 9:59 AM
But jk thinks:

We should all get a good night's sleep and come back to this. I'd encourage brother ls to read this David Harsanyi column I linked to last week. Harsanyi explores the fairness of calling Obama "socialist" and comes out closer to the sipper than Ms. Dagny. But it's not a ringing endorsement:

Now, I'm not suggesting Obama intends to transform this nation into 1950s-era Soviet tyranny or that he will possess the power to do so. I'm suggesting Obama is praising and mainstreaming an economic philosophy that has failed to produce a scintilla of fairness or prosperity anywhere on Earth. Ever.

That, ls, is what none of us around here get. Spreading Joe the Plumber's (nevermind whether he's really a plumber) wealth to Rodney the slightly less successful plumber isn't fair, isn't right, and -- like Harsanyi says -- has never worked before.

Posted by: jk at November 5, 2008 11:09 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

"You confuse fact for opinion. Your opinion is stated boldly and with great certitude, but it doesn't make it fact."

On the contrary, it's YOU who refuse to acknowledge simple fact. You won't even answer the question: how is Obama NOT a socialist?

He wants to take my money, my property, and "spread it around" to others. How is that not socialism?

If looks like a duck and quacks like a duck...

"I agree with you that a winning a majority of the vote doesn't make the winner right on all their positions - I offer the 2004 presidential election as evidence of this."

And so you reveal your hypocrisy: the majority wasn't right to elect Bush in 2004, but you're nonetheless pointing to an Obama victory in 2008 because he won the majority vote.

Which is it? You can't have both. If you want to dismiss Bush's victory in 2004 because the majority isn't always right, then by the same token you must do the same now for Obama.

How many fraudulent votes was that? What's the correct tally? Which states would McCain have won if it weren't for the "fraudulent votes" you refer to? Instead of winning the popular vote 52% to 46% (using the home page of wsj.com as of 9:29 a.m. eastern), did Obama actually win by 51.99% to 46.01%?

Ahem, do you not remember how the Electoral College works, such that the national vote does not count? So with the "battleground" states whose tight races tipped things in Obama's favor, winning by even just one vote in Ohio and Pennsylvania is enough to win all of the electoral votes. (Maine is the one exception.)

The inability to know the full extent is the sinister beauty of voter fraud. What we DO know is that ACORN is now under federal investigation (expect it to be dropped quietly after January 20th). Look at the uncovered fraud, such as the college students who voted in Ohio and have "disappeared" to go back home, and tell me it didn't happen. Don't even get me started on Philadelphia, where there are typically more registered voters than census-counted residents.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at November 5, 2008 11:44 AM

Gettin' it done in Minnesota?

D'ja see this?

"Hello, this is Jeff Blodgett from the Minnesota for Obama campaign. Our initial data shows this election is significantly closer than the polls predicted. We are putting out an urgent call for volunteers... We are organized groups to knock on doors at five P.M., or earlier if you can, for our final GOTV operation." This was followed by different numbers to call based on your residence.

Way to go, Sugarchuck and T. Greer!

UPDATE: Jonah Goldberg smells a hoax.

2008 Posted by John Kranz at 5:57 PM | What do you think? [1]
But T. Greer thinks:

Methinks it simply be a turn out device.

~T. Greer, noting that Mr. Ambinder agrees with me.

Posted by: T. Greer at November 4, 2008 7:20 PM

Can we vote now?

Happy election eve, everyone.

I am certainly not predicting a McCain victory on Tuesday. But neither should the press corps be predicting an Obama victory on Tuesday.

(And neither should JK.)

The quote is from Mullings.com's Rich Galen. Where does he see a flaw in the inevitibility?

According to McInturff, it is important to note that even in the states Obama is leading he is under 50%. So is McCain, but the case we are making is this thing has not yet been decided.

In Pennsylvania - which I have been saying is going to be 21 electoral votes for McCain - the race is tightening daily. After being stuck at a double-digit lead for Obama for the past two weeks, a newspaper poll released yesterday showed the lead down to seven for Obama.

Remember that Hillary beat Obama by about 10 percentage points in the primary there, despite being outspent 3-1. Pennsylvanians - at least rural Pennsylvanians - were the subject of Obama's highly touted closed-press fundraising remarks in San Francisco.

(...)

I don't believe I'm breaching a confidence by relaying this from McInturff's e-mail:

In our internal numbers, there has been positive movement on voters seeing Obama as the "risky choice" and as McCain as the candidate who "will keep taxes low." As a pollster, this means there is a shift on the attributes that helps provide an understanding of what is causing the ballot to tighten.

The thinking is, of course, that the eleventh hour revelations - spread the wealth, Khalidi tape, bankrupt coal industry, electric rates "necessarily skyrocket" - are flipping the soft Obama votes to McCain. This is what I call the "America pulls its head out of its ass" effect. Or, probably more accurately, a decent percentage of voters wait until election day, when all the information is on the table, before making their choice.

I won't make a prediction. I'm just keeping my glass half-full.

But jk thinks:

Let me defend myself from this vicious personal attack :)

I offered my prediction as such: a parlor game, a guess and you all know that I hope to be proven wrong. I'd be extremely surprised if anybody stayed home because "jk says it's over." I will agree completely that outlets reporting that it's over based on polls and predictions as "news" are out of line.

Posted by: jk at November 4, 2008 11:09 AM

jk's prediction

Sorry gang. I don't see either me or Alex coming through for the forces of light. Not a landslide, but not a Phoenix victory party.

jk_08prediction.gif

Interesting aside: If we can swing Colorado, it throws it to the House. Roll your own

2008 Posted by John Kranz at 12:00 AM | What do you think? [4]
But AlexC thinks:

Pa comes through. CO can stay blue.

I'm banking on bitter clingers, rednecks and coal miners.

Not always overlapping groups.

Posted by: AlexC at November 3, 2008 8:51 PM
But Keith thinks:

jk: I'm with Alex; I have a good feeling about Pennsylvania, and we could take Colorado as well. I'm not taking the rosy view of this (I believe in miracles, but on the other hand, I never draw to an inside straight, either), but I'm also not going to surrender until the votes are counted. The Eeyores are not going to dissuade me from voting.

I have it on good authority that any Republican who shows up at a Hamburger Hamlet in California with an "I Voted!" sticker will get a 10% discount on their meal, so even though my vote here on the Left Coast may not turn the tide, at least I'll eat well. If saving America isn't enough to get someone to vote, dinner might help.

And thank you, jk, for the good anniversary wishes over at my site; I wish you nothing but good in yours as well -

Posted by: Keith at November 3, 2008 9:04 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Boulder County (CO) GOP headquarters is making calls to 150 pages of names for Republican voters whose mail-in ballots have not been received. No word on how many Democrat mail-in ballots are in that category.

Point is, polls don't equal countable votes. The pessimist says Republicans have been discouraged by media drumbeat for "the Big O." The optomist says more Democrats screwed up mail-in ballots than did Republicans.

Posted by: johngalt at November 3, 2008 9:49 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

271-Obama 267-McCain.

I see PA going Republican this election, but VA's 13 votes (and Omaha's single electoral vote) tip the vote back over to Obama.

~T. Greer, hoping CO stays red...

Posted by: T. Greer at November 3, 2008 11:25 PM

November 3, 2008

Operation Chaos: Re-ignition

Erick Erickson @ RedState makes a call.

the campaigns make estimations as the day wears on via exit polls. Lastly, in preparing for the next election's polling, some pollsters will use exit polling to help them. We know how well that's gone this year.

I have a hearty suggestion for all of us: seek out exit pollsters. Find them. Be willing to engage in the exit polling. And lie. Tell the exit pollsters you voted for Barack Obama. Tell them you are a diehard liberal. But tell them you voted for Barack Obama.

Then go home and watch the media realize there is something badly wrong with their data and make them have to watch the results come in with the rest of us.


Pennsylvania & Colorado are sure to have a TON of exit pollsters.

Tell them you're voting for Barack.

Just to screw it up.

2008 Posted by AlexC at 6:58 PM | What do you think? [0]

Popperian Review Corner

How uncool to admit that you just got around to reading last year's "it" book, but I read Nassim Nicholas Taleb's "Black Swan" last weekend. It is an important book, a very enjoyable read, and a glimpse into a powerful, powerful intellect. It's as if Thomas Pynchon wrote non-fiction. Anybody who has not read it should -- and if you read it before the Black-Swannish market turmoil, you'd probably dig another round of it, post-panic.

The WSJ (news pages) reports that his hedge fund did -- well let us say a little better than the S&P -- during the recent swings:

Separate funds in Universa's so-called Black Swan Protection Protocol were up by a range of 65% to 115% in October, according to a person close to the fund. "We're discovering the fragility of the financial system," said Mr. Taleb, who says he expects market volatility to continue as more hedge funds run into trouble.

A professor of mathematical finance at New York University, Mr. Taleb believes investors often ignore the risk of extreme moves in the market, especially when times are good and volatility is low, as it was for several years leading up to the current turmoil.


Looking for black swans, the fund keeps 90% in cash and buys gobs of puts that are far enough outside the expectations of the market to be cheap. Then when boomtimes go boom, they clean up.

I may do a longer review corner on the book but it will be hard to top the cold hard appreciation of the fund. We both appreciate Karl Popper, who would have applauded the predictive power of his theories. I have not quite reconciled my philosophy with Taleb's. I agree with his premises. I enjoy the trashing he metes out to economists, the Nobel prize committee, and conventional wisdom. I applaud his use of many of my heroes: Hayek, Popper, Poincare (and Yogi Berra). And nobody can deny his fundamental assertions after the stock market October weve just completed.

Yet like an H-bomb that seems a valuable invention -- but that you hope doesn't get into the wrong hands -- I worry that your average PoMo Sociology professor will use Taleb's arguments against the ideas of merit and evolutionary selection of better ideas that I hold so dearly. Taleb takes several digressions but never addresses those topics head on.

It may be too late to buy the fund, but buy the book ($10 on Kindle®).

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 4:44 PM | What do you think? [0]

Obama: Razzle Dazzle

In case you needed some final convincing...

If McCain loses, it's because he couldn't sell these "changes of mind".

Rove did it with "voting for it before voting against it."

This is gallons of flippiness.

2008 Posted by AlexC at 4:24 PM | What do you think? [0]

Socialism II

David Harsanyi -- gently and without malice -- accuses the Obama campaign of Socialism, because "when a candidate explicitly endorses a collectivist policy . . . well, words still have meaning, don't they?"

The proposition that government should take one group's lawfully earned profits and hand them to another group not a collection of destitute or impaired Americans, mind you, but a still-vibrant middle class is the foundational premise of Obama's fiscal policy.

It was Joe Biden, not long ago, who said (when he was still permitted to speak in public) that, "We want to take money and put it back in the pocket of middle-class people." The only entity that "takes" money from the middle class or any class for that matter, is the Internal Revenue Service. Other than that, there is nothing to give back.


It's an excellent read, and not a bad article to mail to an undecided on the last day of the campaign. This is the argument I wish we had been having from the conventions on.

2008 Posted by John Kranz at 12:12 PM | What do you think? [1]
But Keith thinks:

My barber came to a very similar conclusion - does this mean she should be an economist or a political analyst? See what I mean:

The Wisdom of a Barber

In my book, this just means that she's learned from her life experiences what any American who received a passing grade in high-school Civics should know. And, by the way, Jenny is also a great barber...

Posted by: Keith at November 3, 2008 1:18 PM

Bit Of Hope

Not all have been assimilated. I heard from a lifelong Democrat -- union boss Democrat -- in Colorado yesterday, whose identity I will not divulge. This person was upset about Reverend Wright, un-democratic tactics in the Democratic primary, and the general arrogance of the Obama campaign. This person cast h[is|er] first 'R' vote of a lifetime, and voted the straight GOP ticket!

"I'm tired of being lied to." was h[is|er] final comment.

2008 Posted by John Kranz at 11:16 AM | What do you think? [1]
But AlexC thinks:

My wife and I both worked in the local McCain office (a smallish store front, not the main one for the county) and we both remarked HOW MANY union guys would come in and say, "can i have a sign? i don't agree with my union."

Posted by: AlexC at November 3, 2008 4:33 PM

November 2, 2008

Socialism is good

Like all socialists, Lehigh County Democratic committeewoman Lynne Hanna confuses government (which few people are against) with socialism.

Which all sensible people are against.

Morning Call

John McCain and his supporters have resorted to using the word ''socialism'' as if it is a bad word. Is he really against the police, firefighters, public school system, sewer system, safe toys, roads and bridges, Medicare and Social Security, to name a few? These are run by government to provide for the protection and needs of society.

Republican support for corporate capitalism and deregulation have led us to the current financial crisis. Ronald Reagan started us on this path with his oft quoted, ''We must not look to government to solve our problems. Government is the problem.'' Think about the state of our country today and keep in mind that government is only good for the people when we elect those who believe that with oversight, government is good.


Police? Firefighters? Schools? All local issues.... not federal govt... and those are actually legitimate government roles.

USA Today: (old story, but things haven't gotten better)

Social Security - $4 Trillion dollar unfunded liability.

Medicare - $33 Trillion dollar unfunded liability.

Scores of today's children will be paying out the ass for this.

But yeah, socialism is good if you're not the one on the hook with the tab.

2008 Posted by AlexC at 5:40 PM | What do you think? [4]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

"Socialism" means nothing today when Obama can deny he is one.

"Libertarian" means nothing today when McArdle can claim she is one.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at November 3, 2008 8:57 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

And by the way, I would argue that "education," at the very least in the virtual monopoly sense of modern times, is NOT a legitimate function of government. I fail to see how it safeguards my life, liberty and property.

Even police are questionable today when so many are more likely to abuse you than rescue you. I'm running 50-50 in my short lifetime.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at November 3, 2008 9:00 AM
But jk thinks:

That's a difficult argument to parry. Look at the length of your (superb, btw) post and two links to make your point to folks who believe in you.

Comrade Hanna's argument is short and intuitive. It lends itself to a good 30-minute campaign commercial with pictures of firefighters saving children. Our argument lends itself to a policy paper, or a guest lecture at the Community College.

Just once, I want to be on the "cute puppies" side of politics. Just damn once.

Posted by: jk at November 3, 2008 11:52 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Liberalism: You can have all the cute puppies you want. Not only will we tax your rich neighbors to pay for your puppies, we'll require all new developments to set aside some land for puppy runs.

Conservatism: You can have all the cute puppies you want, as long as they'll grow up to be faithfuly and morally righteous.

Libertarian: Have all the cute puppies you want, we don't care. Just buy them at your own expense and keep them on your own property.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at November 3, 2008 2:02 PM

My Last Pitch for McCain

I can't quite stir into full blown optimism, but I ain't goin' down without a fight. William Kristol brings us a superb quote from the first Republican Optimist (apologies to John Fremont):

On December 26, 1839, responding to the confident prediction of one of his political opponents "that every State in the Union will vote for Mr. Van Buren at the next Presidential election" and that Lincoln's opposition to the Van Buren forces was therefore bound to be in vain, Lincoln responded:
Address that argument to cowards and to knaves; with the free and the brave it will effect nothing. It may be true; if it must, let it. .  .  . The probability that we may fall in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just. .  .  . Let none falter, who thinks he is right, and we may succeed. But if after all, we shall fail, be it so.

As it happens, the Whig ticket Lincoln supported won that 1840 election. So might, against the odds, the party of Lincoln win this year.

UPDATE: I guess the punchline is that President Harrison died 41 days after inauguration, and was succeeded by President Tyler who held extremely different views. Most notably, Tyler was pretty much Jacksonian in his opposition to the National Bank. Poor Nicholas Biddle waited three terms to get rid on Jackson and Van Buren. Then, when "old Tippecanoe" was elected, he was not in office long enough to change policy.

2008 Posted by John Kranz at 1:22 PM | What do you think? [0]

Whose Money?

Mary Katherine Ham offers Senator Obama a single sentence economics lesson, in response to this stump speech in Missouri:

It's not change when he (McCain) wants to give $200 billion to the biggest corporation or $4 billion to the oil companies when today, Exxon-Mobil announced that it had made the greatest profits of any corporation in the history of the world: $14 billion in one quarter. That's all your money. You are -- you are paying it at the gas station. That's not change when John McCain comes up with a tax plan that doesn't give a penny of relief to more than 100 million middle-class Americans.

Ms. Ham suggests: "Barack, once a person gives his money freely in a voluntary exchange of currency for a commodity, that money does not belong to him anymore. It's not surprising that the Prince of Redistribution does not understand this concept, but it is surprising that he openly talks about it, even in reddish states he'd like to win."

2008 Posted by John Kranz at 12:54 PM | What do you think? [0]

letter to johngalt's liberal friends

Last week I traded political emails with a group of friends, most of whom are liberal but one in particular who is very much so. The exchange began with his missive:

Dear Red States:

If you manage to steal this election too we've decided we're leaving. We
intend to form our own country, and we're taking the other Blue States with
us. In case you aren't aware, that includes California , Hawaii , Oregon ,
Washington , Minnesota , Wisconsin , Michigan , Illinois and all the
Northeast. We believe this split will be beneficial to the nation, and
especially to the people of the new country of New California.

To sum up briefly: You get Texas , Oklahoma and all the slave
states. We get stem cell research and the best beaches. We get the Statue
of Liberty . You get Dollywood.

(...)

The rant continued, but I answered it by suggesting my "olive branch" idea:

Personally I think theres a much simpler solution than any of this. It boils down to a simple trade. I put it like this:

I offer an olive branch, from one America to the other: You let us drill for oil and well let you smoke pot.

That sounds like a win-win proposition to me. What do you say?

After explaining how such a trade would be a win-win for everyone but those who want neither legal oil or legal pot (and ignoring numerous baiting tactics like referring to Sarah Palin as a "mavericky MILF") I went on to draw the parallels between the two restrictions and call the liberals out on their propensity to control people:

And what do environmentalists have to give up in return? A nearly indefensible fear of extremely rare oil spills and terrestrial perturbation on drilling sites, yes, but more importantly, as you said the ability to manipulate the behavior of individuals. If people perceive that theres an ample domestic supply, theyll forget about conservation and the ultimate need for a transition to transportation that isnt based on fossil fuels. The sooner we turn the page on oil, the better.

Theres a lot for me to quibble with in those statements but what really, really blows my mind is how important it is to the greens to control other people. How different is this from drug laws, or abortion laws, or gay marriage laws, or any of the other morality issues that the religious right tries to impose through law?

This is why, to me, BOTH are indefensible government restrictions on free and commercial use of pot and on free and commercial use of oil.

The entire letter, including my reason for choosing McCain over Obama in the closing paragraph, is attached below for posterity.

As far as Im concerned the biggest reason to legalize pot is to reduce by one the number of laws that are largely ignored. Law should be objective, knowable and necessary. For this reason, and for reasons of utility and choice, I think it should be of value to pot aficionados to actually repeal government restrictions on the substance.

And what do environmentalists have to give up in return? A nearly indefensible fear of extremely rare oil spills and terrestrial perturbation on drilling sites, yes, but more importantly, as you said the ability to manipulate the behavior of individuals. If people perceive that theres an ample domestic supply, theyll forget about conservation and the ultimate need for a transition to transportation that isnt based on fossil fuels. The sooner we turn the page on oil, the better.

Theres a lot for me to quibble with in those statements but what really, really blows my mind is how important it is to the greens to control other people. How different is this from drug laws, or abortion laws, or gay marriage laws, or any of the other morality issues that the religious right tries to impose through law?

This is why, to me, BOTH are indefensible government restrictions on free and commercial use of pot and on free and commercial use of oil.

Critics may say that Im oversimplifying the oil issue but I believe Im truly reducing it to first principles. All of the reasons for turning the page on oil can be refuted objectively. But they all boil down to the same thing obfuscation of the physical reality that oil is the most concentrated, easiest to obtain, most portable and least dangerous fuel source on earth. (And this doesnt even include its many other beneficial byproducts.) The only way to make this miracle substance less economical than windmills and solar cells is to restrict its production so that prices become artificially high. But the effect of this policy is to create oil kingpins in foreign countries where our laws dont apply. See the other parallel to pot here?

If worldwide oil supplies really are about to be depleted then fret not, the economics of the oil economy will do what you want all by themselves and sustainably so. If not then restricting US oil production is nothing more than a self-imposed trade prohibition which damages the US economy to the benefit of all others. Talk about killing jobs!!

In the meantime, John McCain and Sarah Palin both say they support massive government investment in alternative energy. I think this is wrong, but I fully expect theyll spend our tax dollars on it. And I also fear McCains position supporting cap and trade for CO2 emissions. Its a joke, and hes on the environmentalists side, but I still support him over Obama. Why? Because Obama has never once used the word victory when discussing wars in Iraq OR Afghanistan, and because I have no doubt Obamas true motive for the presidency is to gut national defense and balloon entitlement and public works programs. This is demonstrably unsustainable.

Sorry for the rant; one thing just sort of leads to the next.

But jk thinks:

I still don't get this one, jg, but keep on fighting the good fight. Toke, baby, Toke!

I would suggest the olive branch is Federalism. Let California offer drive-through abortions and let Alabama keep a stone Ten Commandments in the courthouse. I don't approve of either but could live in a state that shared a country with a state that did.

Posted by: jk at November 2, 2008 1:50 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

Huh. Your liberal friend's letter is interesting, but he builds his case on a gross fallacy. Simply put, the United States does not have a single Blue State or Red State in it. (With the possible exception of Utah.)

After all, the good nation of New California managed to send 20 Republicans to Washington last year- heck, California has more registered Republicans than the states of Utah, Wyoming, Arizona, Montana, Idaho, Nevada and Colorado combined!

If there is a red/blue divide, it is not made by the states. A quick look at a county electoral map quickly dispels that myth. Rather, the line that divides our politics is the same that divides our country into rural and urban dwellers. Those folks living in the city are democrats. Those living in the country are Republicans.

This creates a dilemma for any politically-charged secessionist movement. After all, what are the Progressive States of America to do with the millions of Republicans scattered across the California heartland? Shall they expel Rochester, Minnesota or Palmyra, New York from their new country? Likewise, are they so ready to abandon Boulder, Colorado and Raleigh North Carolina to the abuses of the right-wing nutters?

This is the flaw with all such thoughts: when it comes down to it, America is purple.

~T. Greer

Posted by: T. Greer at November 3, 2008 6:28 PM

Brave Sir Obama

Awesome.

ABC's Jake Tapper managed to get Senator Barack Obama's attention on the tarmac this morning.

"What would you tell your Treasury Secretary to do differently with the $700 billion?" he asked, according to the pool report.

"We're on a tarmac," Obama replied.

"Why don't you have a press conference," Tapper asked.

"I will," Obama responded. "On Wednesday."


There's a name for that, but decorum prevents me from saying it. ;)

2008 Posted by AlexC at 11:08 AM | What do you think? [0]

Obama / Biden on Coal

Take away line:

So, if somebody wants to build a coal plant, they can its just that it will bankrupt them, because they are going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas thats being emitted.

Don't forget Joe Biden's words.

"No coal plants in America"

(tip to HotAir)

2008 Posted by AlexC at 10:46 AM | What do you think? [0]

McCain & Palin on QVC

The network reply from the Republicans as shown on SNL....

Hilarious.

2008 Posted by AlexC at 10:38 AM | What do you think? [0]

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