January 31, 2009

Change!

Elections have consequences #1343566

US President Barack Obama's offer to talk to Iran shows that America's policy of "domination" has failed, the government spokesman said on Saturday.

"This request means Western ideology has become passive, that capitalist thought and the system of domination have failed," Gholam Hossein Elham was quoted as saying by the Mehr news agency.

"Negotiation is secondary, the main issue is that there is no way but for (the United States) to change," he added.


That's what "we" voted for. That's what we're gonna get.


January 30, 2009

Quote of the Day

Work and medicine have destroyed late week blogging. Nobody cares about work and for those who care about medicine it looks like I am only a good TB-test and EKG away from acceptance in the Ocrelizumab trial. I proved I was sick enough with an MRI and sufficient documented relapses. Then I proved I was well enough, scoring a 6.0 on the EDSS test. I once asked somebody if higher numbers were better or worse, and in a light-hearted moment, he confided in me that 0.0 means you're fine; ten means your dead. I'm always happy to do better than 10.0. Anyway, all that's left is to prove I don't have some non-MS problem that would make participation dangerous or cloud my results.

I don't like links without comments, but Kim Strassel, who first caught the SCHIP expansion as "Hillary Care on the Installment Plan" has an important piece today on how the government grab for nationalized health care is purposely coming faster than it can be opposed. Scary and true.

For a little fun on Friday, here's a great quote from the Car Lust Blog on the 69-73 Dodge Polara

The Polara name seems to be virtually unknown nowadays outside of Mopar enthusiast groups, but there was a time when Polaras were famous--or, perhaps, infamous--as huge, bellowing police cars. Most police cruisers fail to live up to the cachet promised by the "interceptor" name, but Polaras were normal police cars just like Dirty Harry was a normal policeman. Like Harry Callahan, the Polara stood for justice but not necessarily for fairness; it upheld the law in the most brutish, intimidating, and outrageously effective manner possible.

MoPar heads around here (you know who you are) will want to read the whole thing. I'm hearing the line from Blues Brothers: "It's got cop shocks, cop suspension, cop tires, a cop motor..."

Posted by John Kranz at 7:51 PM | What do you think? [0]

January 29, 2009

With All Due Respect, Mr. President...

CATO runs an advertisement (PDF link) with a gaggle of economists and academics signatures in opposition to the stimulus.

Hat-tip: Everyday Economist

Government Posted by John Kranz at 11:59 AM | What do you think? [1]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

"Due" meaning "zero." There's none due him.

He lied. Liars deserve nothing better than scorn.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at January 29, 2009 1:18 PM

January 28, 2009

Woo Hoo! GOP Shut out!

Bad news: Stimulus bill passes House

Good news: No GOP members vote for it! A new bipartisan era has not come to Washington!

WASHINGTON - In a swift victory for President Barack Obama, the Democratic-controlled House approved a historically huge $819 billion stimulus bill Wednesday night with spending increases and tax cuts at the heart of the young administration's plan to revive a badly ailing economy.

The vote was 244-188, with Republicans unanimous in opposition despite Obama's pleas for bipartisan support. Eleven Democrats voted against the measure, while no Republicans supported it.

"We don't have a moment to spare," Obama declared at the White House as congressional allies hastened to do his bidding in the face of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.


MSNBC doesn't push the shut-out angle, but Mister Brutally Honest does. Awesome on stilts!

Hat-tip: Instapundit

UPDATE: Quote of the Day nomination:

Barack Obama promised to end the "politics of division," unite Washington's factions and overcome partisanship. And what do you know -- so far he has: The President's stimulus plan generated bipartisan House opposition, with every Republican and 11 Democrats voting against it on Wednesday. It passed 244-188. -- WSJ Ed Page

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 7:41 PM | What do you think? [2]
But dagny thinks:

Hey, has anyone found a list of the 11 (or 12 according to some reports) democrats who voted against it? I'm just curious.

Posted by: dagny at January 29, 2009 10:27 AM
But jk thinks:

That MSNBC site is very useful. Between the "Historic Obama Presidency Multimedia Show" and clips from Rachel Maddow questioning a recalcitrant GOP House member, they do provide the roll call:

All Republicans voted against President Barack Obama's spending plan. Of the Democrats, 11 voted against the measure. Among them: Allen Boyd, D-Fla., Bobby Bright, D-Ala., Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., Brad Ellsworth, D-Ind., Parker Griffith, D-Ala., Paul Kanjorski, D-Penn., Frank M. Kratovil, D-Md., Walt Minnick, D-Idaho, John E. Peterson, D-Penn., Heath Shuler, D-N.C., and Gene Taylor, D-Miss.

NED bless the blue dogs!

Posted by: jk at January 29, 2009 11:15 AM

Wit' Republicans Like These...

As blog pragmatist, I try to defend the GOP's slim commitment to liberty as being better than none on the other side. But, then you get Rep. Peter King and some children to protect:

Smile, say cheese and hold that pose till you hear the 'click'. A new bill introduced in the Congress by New York Republican Rep. Peter King requires mobile phones with digital cameras "to make a sound" when a photograph is taken.

The move is part of the 'Camera Phone Predator Alert Act' and the idea is to ensure privacy and safety of the public, especially children, claims the bill.


Hat-tip: Alhouse via Insty

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 1:58 PM | What do you think? [0]

Coolidge Lives!

(But lacks an electoral majority)

Politico: The Case for Doing Nothing

Instead of fighting over what should go in the economic stimulus bill, pitting infrastructure spending against tax cuts and contractors against contraceptives, they say lawmakers should be fighting against the very idea of any economic stimulus at all. Call them the Do-Nothing Crowd.


President Coolidge famously asserted that if ten problems are coming down the road at you, nine will roll into the ditch without intervention. I miss silent Cal.

Hat-tip: Instapundit

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

While I agree with the sentiment, "do nothing" doesn't really have a PR hook. :(

Posted by: AlexC at January 28, 2009 5:56 PM
But jk thinks:

Sad but true. Nor can you dress it up with some nice PR "The Unintended Consequence Prevention non-Act of 2009." People do want government action. The battle for the non-Imperial Presidency is lost and has been for some time.

Posted by: jk at January 29, 2009 11:12 AM

Three Stimulus Fallacies

From John Cochrane, economist at the University of Chicago, courtesy of Don Luskin. It's hard to argue with any of them. For a taste, here's number two:

Second, investment is "spending" every bit as much as consumption. Fiscal stimulus advocates want money spent on consumption, not saved. They evaluate past stimulus programs by whether people who got stimulus money spent it on consumption goods rather save it. But the economy overall does not care if you buy a car, or if you lend money to a company that buys a forklift.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:01 AM | What do you think? [1]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

These three are classic Bastiat.

The first, "broken windows."

The second, that in the end it's only total economic production that matters, not the balance betweeen saving and spending. "To save is to spend."

The third, the promise of future returns. Bastiat wrote about French involvement in Algeria much like he would write today about government's intended "investments in the future":

We are told that the money is an advance and that, a few centuries from now, we shall recover it a hundredfold. But who says so? The very Quartermaster General's Department that swindles us out of our money. Listen here, gentlemen, when it comes to cash, there is but one useful piece of advice: let each man watch his purse... and those to whom he entrusts the purse-strings.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at January 28, 2009 11:43 AM

January 27, 2009

Bobby McFerrin

Wow.


Hat-tip: a beloved, moonbat niece by email.

Posted by John Kranz at 5:24 PM | What do you think? [0]

Now, your threesources action doppler radar weather

More intelligent commentary:
weatherstats.gif


(Now that Atilla at Pillage Idiot has retired, I thought I should take up the slack.)

Posted by John Kranz at 2:29 PM | What do you think? [0]

Spread 'em!

Blog brother Cyrano is amused by the Playmobil Security Checkpoint.

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 1:59 PM | What do you think? [0]

It's a Harvard-Yale Smackdown!

Words failed me when I read Yale's Robert Schiller's guest editorial in the WSJ this morning. Schiller is taking the Bidenesque position that the most important thing about the stimulus is its ginormousness.

So what must we do to revive our animal spirits and economic growth? We must be certain that programs to solve the current financial and economic crisis are large enough, and targeted broadly enough, to impact public confidence. Not only do we need a fiscal stimulus significantly greater than the proposal that is currently on the table, government action is also needed to take the place of the credit markets that seemingly worked so well when animal spirits were high.

I bristle at the notion of encouraging our illustrious legislative branch to make sure they spend enough. And I was going to write a serious, witty and trenchant reply. Thankfully for all concerned, Professor N. Gregory Mankiw (from Team Hahvaad) did it for me:
I think a lot of economists would agree with that. The question is what it would take to make people more confident. Bob thinks that confidence would rise if the government borrowed more and spent more. Other economists think that confidence would rise if the government committed itself to, say, lower taxes on capital income. The sad truth is that we economists don't know very much about what drives the animal spirits of economic participants. Until we figure it out, it is best to be suspicious of any policy whose benefits are supposed to work through the amorphous channel of "confidence."

But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

This is where Ayn Rand trumps all these morons, particularly Keynes. If you want to call it confidence, fine, call it that. But don't call it anything related to "animals."

"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it does." People throw out nice-sounding words but rarely stop to think about what they're really saying.

Keynes' term is a complete misnomer because "animals" use instinct and similar non-thinking passions as the basis for their actions. Man is not an animal. Man is a thinking, reasoning being that weighs decisions on the basis of trade-offs (i.e. what is to be gained). A decision may be made quickly or "spontaneously," but that hardly means the decision was not rational. (Side note: here I speak of "man" in a general sense. There are plenty of people who act little better than animals.)

I don't want people's "animal instincts" to come out or otherwise encouraged in any way. Animals' instincts are to do whatever seems right at the time, with no rational judgement, even if it means killing their own young. Do lions worry about being confident about pursuing prey? Do deer similarly worry about finding vegetation? Hardly. Animals merely do, so using the term "animal spirits" to mean confidence is completely absurd.

Contrary to what Shiller asserts, to "trust" isn't to act like an animal -- in fact, it's exactly the opposite. Animals have no sense of "trust" because their nature has no doubt to suspend. On the other hand, when humans "trust," it actually is not dismissing any fear or hesitation, but in fact making a rational judgment based on information.

What happened with the current crisis, and I'll get to this in a subsequent paragraph, is that the government created an artificial sense of "trust" in housing and other markets. People were not suspending any doubt, because government made things look better than they actually were. Shiller is correct to point out specific things like the collateralization of mortgage-backed securities, but he misses the big picture that government was the problem in everything that happened. It wasn't the case that "confidence was blind," but that people believed they saw more than they actually was. This is not mere semantics; the logical distinction is important. People were led to believe there was more reason to be confident than not confident when the former didn't really exist, not that they turned a blind eye.

Furthermore, these economists who want to promote "confidence" typically don't understand a simple point: why do we want people to have confidence when it's not necessarily warranted? Note that politicians, and most economists too, aren't even talking about making certain people more confident in a certain industry. They're talking about increasing confidence in general, but confidence for its own sake is a bad idea. Just one of many examples: I don't want banks loaning out tons of money just because, just one of many reasons TARP is a bad idea. There are plenty of would-be borrowers who don't deserve the least bit of confidence insofar as repaying the debt. It was home ownership for home ownership's sake that helped fuel the housing bubble, followed by the Fed injecting hundreds of billions of new dollars into the global economy -- liquidity for liquidity's sake.

Now, I'm on record as saying the crisis is one of confidence, not liquidity (there's plenty of the latter). But that doesn't mean we should do things to make people more confident, which is to effect confidence for its own sake. We should let market processes work on their own, unfettered by government, so that people can compete and be worthy of confidence. If people are generally not confident about something, there's a damn good reason: their information tells them not to be. There may have proper information showing its a bad company, they may not yet have enough information to be confident (but could in the future), or government skews information so that people can't make rational decisions. The third happens all the time, but so badly today that it's the direct cause of this crisis.

The one thing few people point out is that government has a monopoly on confidence. You can mistrust it, but in most cases it ultimately gets its way.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at January 27, 2009 3:59 PM
But jk thinks:

Well said. Just because risk is a valuable part of wealth creation doesn't mean it should be subsidized. A free market should deliver plenty of opportunity for every risk appetite.

Posted by: jk at January 27, 2009 4:08 PM

January 26, 2009

Pretty Fair AP Coverage

Taranto gives the folks at AP some pretty good and well deserved whacks today for Pliability Journalism.

But I have to say, this lead is clear and accurate:

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama wants automakers to make greener cars at a time when General Motors and Chrysler are hanging by the thread of a massive government loan and auto sales have plummeted to their lowest levels in more than two decades.

Obama's plans could bring smaller cars, more hybrids and advanced fuel-saving technologies to showrooms, but car shoppers will probably pay more upfront because the new rules are expected to cost the hamstrung industry billions of dollars.


Tell it like it is! I thought I was reading the Washington Times...

But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Dayum. These two reporters won't last long if they keep writing like that...

The new first commandment of journalism, after all, is "Thou shalt not question The One."

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at January 27, 2009 4:01 PM

Mild January in Philly

Blog Brother AlexC finds some interesting weather news for his area:

The average or medium temperature of this month was 44 degrees This is the mildest month of January on record. Fogs prevailed very much in the morning but a hot sun soon dispersed them and the mercury often ran up to 70 in the shade at mid day. Boys were often seen swimming in the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers.

That's January 1790. Computed from detailed records kept by Charles Pierce.
From Charles Pierce's records, the average January temperature in Philadelphia from 1790-1819 was 31.2F. According to USHCN records from 2000-2006 (the last year available from USHCN) and Weather Underground records from 2007-2009, the average January temperature in Philadelphia for the last ten years has been 29.8 degrees, or 1.4 degrees cooler than the period 1790-1819. January, 2009 has been colder than any January during the presidencies of Washington, Adams, Jefferson, or Monroe. January 2003 and 2004 were both considerably colder than any January during the terms of the first five presidents of the US.

In other local weather news, our Minnesota contingent will be pleased to hear that it was unpleasantly cold in Erie, CO for today's dog walk and it should dip below zero tonight.

But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

In my neck of the woods (upper Westchester, New York), we've had only seven days this month whose high exceeded freezing. I can't remember it ever being this cold. At this rate I need to wear thermal underwear beneath my suit pants.

Al Gore, go screw yourself.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at January 26, 2009 3:35 PM

Not Exactly Grapes of Wrath Is It?

I saw this on the local news last night. Anecdotal though it may be, I present it as evidence that we're not really living in 1932.





People are so stressed by the recession that they are taking a day off work to go skiing. I don't remember Tom Joad doing that. Of course, I'm not saying that there are no real economic difficulties (that would get me kicked out of the McCain campaign) but we need to be a little more realistic about comparing our difficulties to previous generations'.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:29 AM | What do you think? [0]

January 25, 2009

Biden Mendacity Watch

Hey, John Stossel's playing:

Vice President Biden informed ABC News that "Everyone .  .  . says the scope of this package has to be bold. It has to be big." Everyone? Hardly. More than 100 prominent economists signed a petition against the stimulus package, and more than 200 signed a petition against the financial bailout.

VP Biden Posted by John Kranz at 4:52 PM | What do you think? [0]

Saving the World Through World Government

I had a very fun IM conversation with a good friend and former employee of mine in Ireland last week. He can be counted on to take the stock, European, BBC view on things. He is well informed in that he watches documentaries instead of "Dancing with the Stars" but, like an American NPR or PBS devotee, he gets inculcated in a single view.

He knows I supported President Bush. In fact I was quite the celebrity in my day. Britons and Irish were assured that all of Bush's supporters were buckteethed, Southern evangelicals who were married to their sisters. I had many enjoyable pub yells where respectful folks were truly amazed to hear any argument for President Bush that wasn't "Jesus told me to vote for him."

Anyways, after casual hellos, my friend asked what I thought of our new President. I gave him the "cautiously optimistic but concerned" line you've heard from me around here. He concedes that President Obama is "just a politician" who won't change much, but he is on board for all the promises. "What would you like to see him change?" asks me.

First was to sign Kyoto, second was some amorphous "fix foreign policy" and third was to close Gitmo. This guy is a devout Muslim and has a PhD. He saw some documentary that the residents of Trinidad and Tobago are all relocating off the islands because of global warming. He says parts of Ireland are submerged and that large numbers of people have already lost their homes to climate change. Perhaps a few episodes of "Dancing with the Stars" would be better for my friend. He firmly believes that the residents of Caribbean islands are losing their homes so that Americans can drive SUVs. And nobody cares because the unfortunate are not white and the fortunate are.

I disputed every element of his story and said if did believe it, that the Kyoto treaty would be worthless in stopping it. I said that the US had lowered CO2 emissions through technology and efficiency and complained that most signatories had not been able to meet their modest goals. He disputed that but finally conceded that it was all irrelevant because of India and China.

It's Sunday, there's no football, so I provided that long personal intro. This post is actually about Kyoto. Like VP Gore who flies in private jets and rides in limousines and lives in a mansion, the good people of Germany have coal plants to produce their electricity. And like the VP, they buy indulgences -- er "carbon credits" -- to compensate. The Germans "buy" a hydroelectric dam in China. What does the good, grün, Deutscher Mann get for his Euros? Displaced families, dubious environmental controls and no real reduction of emissions:

But in the end the new Xiaoxi dam may do nothing to lower global-warming emissions as advertised. And many of the 7,500 people displaced by the project still seethe over losing their homes and farmland.

"Nobody asked if we wanted to move," said a 38-year-old man whose family lost a small brick house. "The government just posted a notice that said, 'Your home will be demolished.'"

The dam will shortchange German consumers, Chinese villagers and the climate itself, if critics are right. And Xiaoxi is not alone.


My friend -- again a nice guy and very bright -- just can't wait for America to sign up for this global boondoggle.

But T. Greer thinks:

Does anybody else think that carbon-trading schemes are not unlike the indulgences of the Middle Ages? If we take the environmentalists on their word, and assume that emitting CO2 is evil and reckless, simply paying others to remove their CO2 emissions seems a rather amoral thing to do, methinks.

Never mind that it is the entire basis for the failed 20% EU emissions cut scheme- environmentalism has to look like it is succeeding somewhere!

~T. Greer, no fan of carbon caps.

Posted by: T. Greer at January 25, 2009 4:49 PM
But jk thinks:

Completely unfair, tg. Some of the indulgences were put to good use, buying gold and finery for the Church. I cannot believe you would denigrate the good name of indulgences for cheap political gain.

Posted by: jk at January 25, 2009 6:15 PM

January 24, 2009

Greener Pastures

For ThreeSources friend Howard "Extreme" Mortman. He'll be missed but I congratulate him for his new gig: C-SPAN. Director of Communications.

Big time, Bill, big time.

But Howard Mortman thinks:

very, very kind.
thank you!
let's stay in touch.
-- Howard

Posted by: Howard Mortman at January 24, 2009 6:32 PM
But AlexC thinks:

Amen!

Posted by: AlexC at January 25, 2009 11:32 AM

January 23, 2009

My Water

So... i'm sitting here, enjoying cups and cups of tea.

... noticing that the water tastes of arsenic.

Surely, Mr Obama can re-mandate the lower arsenic levels that evil Mr Bush raised to poison us.

Stroke of the pen, law of the land, eh komrade?


Interesting Spam

Get the first lady's stylish look at Spiegel.

Posted by John Kranz at 7:44 PM | What do you think? [0]

This Shall Not Stand

I have proudly defended McDonalds Corporation and its restaurants. I defended them from Jose Bove's French anti-globalist thuggery. I defended them against the absolute nonsense of Morgan Spurlock's ill-premised "SuperSize Me." I defended them against coffee snobs. No, it's not the world's best cappuccino but I welcome a new ubiquitous drive-thru source.

I planned to take advantage today, for the first time, of the confluence of WiFi and coffee at the golden arches. I brought my new mini notebook and had 45 minutes to kill. After I had ordered my McCuccino, I asked about the WiFi, and found out that it is $2.95 for a two hour block. Rats.

Maybe Speaker Pelosi could pass a... Of course, they can do what they want but this seems a throwback. They are competing -- based on price -- with institutions that offer free WiFi. I could see the bagel shop across the lot listed as one of the networks. They have a full espresso bar, next time I'm there.

Posted by John Kranz at 7:22 PM | What do you think? [0]

Biden Mendacity Watch

We don't have the quotidianhuckawhack® any more, maybe the Biden Mendacity Watch would be a good feature?

Professor Mankiw asks "Is Joe Biden disingenuous or misinformed?" Our VP asserts:

Every economist, as I've said, from conservative to liberal, acknowledges that direct government spending on a direct program now is the best way to infuse economic growth and create jobs.

Mankiw mentions that the statement is "clearly false" and enumerates several prominent economists who do not acknowledge.

What so disturbs me about Biden is this capacity for bald faled lies. He says things that you know he knows are untrue. When the facts are brought up the conservatives and liberals in the press say "Oh Joe's just being Joe. You know how he is." I'm sorry, that's not good enough. It should be a big deal every time the Vice President of the United States tells an untruth.

As far as "disingenuous vs. misinformed" I am thinking of a term that rhymes with "Flying Stack of Lit."

VP Biden Posted by John Kranz at 6:23 PM | What do you think? [0]

The Post-partisan Era: It Was a Great 48 Hours

From Politico:

President Obama listened to Republican gripes about his stimulus package during a meeting with congressional leaders Friday morning - but he also left no doubt about who's in charge of these negotiations. "I won," Obama noted matter-of-factly, according to sources familiar with the conversation.

Harry Reid is fully on board with the "new tone":

[W]hen Democrats were asked if they were concerned about Republicans blocking the package, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had a swift one-word answer: “No.”

We've already learned that much of Obama's campaign promises were "just rhetoric." Now, we learn that the "post-partisan" matra is also. What we have here, folks, is a new Cynic-in-Chief. Get ready for a long four years.

Obama Administration Posted by Boulder Refugee at 6:11 PM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

In fairness, br, it outlasted the ThreeSources honeymoon by 47 hours, 35 minutes, and 30 seconds.

Posted by: jk at January 23, 2009 6:38 PM

Review Corner

Dusted off an oldie-but-goodie thanks to Netflix: Commanding Heights.

I watched the first (Keynes vs. Hayek) disc last night and one is astonished to realize this was broadcast on PBS and funded in part by the Pew Trusts and CPB. I bet several thought police lost their jobs over that. (FedEx is listed first, I think Fred Smith may have ponied some dough.)

As enjoyable as it is, it is bittersweet to watch it and think "freedom was winning -- just a few years ago." We seem poised to give all the gains away and return to government controlled economy.

Great, great stuff. If you missed it drop everything and watch it (I think it's available free on pbs.org). If you have, it is a very good time to watch it again. Right before we give the Commanding Heights back to the planners.

Two notes: Firstly, the evil collectivists at Google include Keynes in the spellchecker but not Hayek. Need I say more? Secondly, like reading The Everyday Economist, it reminds that Lord Keynes was not a devil. He was a brilliant figure who gave us much of the science of Economics. He was on the correct side of concern with the Versailles Pact and did not live long enough to really grasp the post-war economies. I'll still take Friedrich August any day of the week, mind you, but Keynes deserves his props.


But T. Greer thinks:

We watched parts 1 and 3 in our World Affairs class last year. Colored me impressed- it certainly is the best introduction to international economics I have seen on the screen. (Apparently it is based off a book? Anybody read it?)

~T. Greer

Posted by: T. Greer at January 23, 2009 2:10 PM

Quote of the Day

Well, hell, they knew it was going to be January. If these candyass classicists can't play in the cold, they should have hired some musicians who can. -- Ann Althouse, bummed that "Yo-Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman faked it."
I'll laugh put pass on high dudgeon. Too cold for cellos.
Posted by John Kranz at 12:23 PM | What do you think? [2]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Being a huge fan of both YoYo Ma and Itzhak Perlman, The Refugee will jump to their defense. When the temp is around 20 degrees and windy, it's hard to have the manual dexterity to tie your shoes, let alone play a string instrument at a world-class level. It's not like you can play the things with gloves on, but that's what it would have sounded like if they'd tried. Had they tried, they would have been panned for sounding terrible and it would have hurt their professional reputations. Better to sound exquisite while finger-syncing than authentically frozen.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at January 23, 2009 2:12 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

And not just that, but the problems of keeping strings in tune at such frigid temperatures.

It was all an evil BushCheneyRove Conspiracy (tm), I tell you!

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at January 26, 2009 3:45 PM

January 22, 2009

Health News

I signed up for a new drug trial today. Scary but exciting. This is pretty high octane juice -- if you'll pardon the medical jargon -- but I have not had much luck with less aggressive treatments.

I have not been accepted yet but I appear to meet most of the qualifications and requirements. As I was assigned a spot today, I should start treatment within 28 days unless something comes up that disqualifies me. I was warned that the treatments aren't very fun but compared to the daily/weekly shots I was on for three years, they are very few. More of my visits are for monitoring.

Think a good thought for me. I took six months off after my previous trial and got to like doing nothing very much.

Posted by John Kranz at 7:43 PM | What do you think? [4]
But AlexC thinks:

You're in our prayers, bro.

Posted by: AlexC at January 23, 2009 1:18 AM
But Terri thinks:

Amen!

Posted by: Terri at January 23, 2009 7:36 AM
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

Good luck man. As a fellow MS warrior, I understand that you must leave no stone unturned.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at January 23, 2009 7:47 AM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Count on it, buddy!

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at January 23, 2009 12:24 PM

Kranz's Law

I never got anywhere with the acronyms I tried to coin, but I've got a winner here. Hang with me. Steve Chapman writes on the Reason blog:

We all know how we got into this economic mess. We spent too much, borrowed with abandon, and acted like the bills would never come due. So what's the prescription for getting out? Spending more, borrowing more, and acting like the bills will never come due.

The piece is pretty good and worth a read. But he violates Kranz's Law in the lead paragraph. Kranz's Law dictates that:
Any sentence which begins with "We all know how we got into this" will always end with an incorrect description of how we got into this.

Is Chapman wrong? I think he oversimplifies at the very least. I closed my eyes and heard Senator McCain muttering about "greed and corruption on Wall Street."

Who's this "we" who spent too much, kimosabe? Could he mean rational economic actors who took advantage of negative real interest rates and easy credit to purchase goods? Young minority families who escaped public housing and got their own home thanks to a sub-prime loan? The post is in Reason and not The Nation, but the call to reduce consumption can fit either place.

No mention of Fannie and Fred, the Greenspan Fed, or the Community Reinvestment Act. A bunch of stupid people who bought wide-screen TVs and thought the bills would never come due. The Nation or Reason? Well, it's Reason and he makes a good point about the similarities between the proposed solutions to the problem and the problem itself.

Yet I hold Kranz's Law to be inviolate. We "got into this mess" with an incalculable combination of variables (borrow the global warming simulatin' machines). We all have some strong feelings but nobody knows how we got here. And I distrust those who are sure they do. Chairman Barney Frank is sure that it is lack of regulatory oversight, McCain is pretty well committed to his "greed and corruption on Wall Street." I'll suggest six or eight factors but I can't put the right weights on each.

Chapman writes a good article and I hate to pile on. But he opens it foolishly. An alert editor should have said "Hey, Steve-O, you're violating Kranz's Law in your lede. Rewrite it"

Posted by John Kranz at 7:03 PM | What do you think? [3]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

What an incredibly short-sighted piece. As my friend Billy Beck said a while back about Reason, stick a fork in it, it's done.

There is in fact a very simple explanation for what exactly happened: government intervention. That's it. You don't need to assign weight to individual things, because they were all part of the same general action. When someone is killed by ten bullets, do you really ask which one killed him more than the others?

So there's no need to say that any of these was more destructive than the others: the creation of Fannie and Freddie, the Community Reinvestment Act, Clinton's push for home ownership, Bush's push for home ownership, Congress' refusal to listen to warnings about Fannie and Freddie's solvency, and the Federal Reserve keeping rates so low for so long after 2001. You can establish a timeline to see when it all began, but understand the general problem.

Let's keep looking at the problem from a perspective of fundamentals. It's government's tax policies that discourage saving money relative to consumption spending now, skewing what would otherwise be people's natural time preference (i.e. if they delay consumption today, what do they want in compensation). It's central banks' skewing of value and credit that encouraged people to borrow more than they should have. And it's government's continued efforts to encourage "home ownership" for those who should never have a home, but will get a loan because the rest of us will pay up.

Where are all the conservatives decrying this? There are some, but clearly not enough. You may recall that Ronald Reagan told Reason in 1974 that "I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism," and though he was not a libertarian, he'd have decried this "bailout" as welfare. It's not just people living in fully "subsidized" apartments. Now they can work like normal people, and live in nice houses courtesy of the welfare they get from the rest of us.

McCain wants to blame "Wall Street greed" when it's, to use that word again, more fundamental. It's partially true: loan officers were greedy for commissions when they made (and still make) loans that government artificially facilitates, via low interest rates and the threat of investigations/regulations if they don't lend to enough minorities. But it wouldn't have happened if borrowers weren't greedy for money that banks wouldn't have otherwise lent them. So that latter group keeps voting for candidates who will force lenders to hand over that money. And government says, don't worry, lenders will be bailed out if they go under. There is nothing "rational" about this in the least. It's all done under coercion, ultimately upon pain of death if you want to resist.

I and other Austrians would point out to you that when government interferes in markets, it inhibits rational decision-making. When government interferes to this extent, there's no possibility of rational decision-making. If you want to plot the points on a graph, you'll find that 100% rationality occurs only at 0% government interference. Rationality decreases as government interference increases, but so rapidly that it does not require 100% government interference for rationality to hit 0%.

Think of examples in our daily lives. How much is a gallon of milk truly worth? A gallon of gasoline? An apple? An imported suit? You and I don't know. We don't know what we'd truly be willing to pay, because we're constrained by legislated supply restrictions (ANWR, protectionism, etc.) and bound to fiat money. Remember that when you purchase something, you're not trading money: you're trading your own production. At each stage, government skews the value. Taxes skew how much you want to produce, and then how much others are willing to buy from you. Government forcing interest rates up or down skew how much credit you can get to increase your production now, or your buyers' credit to have one of your products now instead of having to wait.

You might think we're acting "rationally" insofar as we're playing by the rules of the game, but that's still a mouse thinking he's free to move around, unaware that he can't go beyond the confines of his maze.

"We all know how we got into this economic mess. We spent too much, borrowed with abandon, and acted like the bills would never come due. So what's the prescription for getting out? Spending more, borrowing more, and acting like the bills will never come due."

From your quote, I thought he was talking about the government (at any level, federal, state or local). He'd have been right to say that and nothing else. It IS government that's been spending too much, borrowing too much, and acting like the bill will never come due. And government expects us to believe that this "stimulus" will solve it, when it is in fact more of the same? Spending too much, borrowing too much, and acting like the bill will never come due.

But after all, what's a two trillion dollar increase in federal debt just for the coming federal fiscal year? Think about that. GWB and Congress added $4.9 trillion to the national debt during GWB's eight years, which was sin enough. And now Obama will add 40% of that in just the first year!

Once one realizes it IS indeed a simple explanation for this multi-faceted crisis, one realizes that the only solution is not merely to resist but to destroy outright government's power to meddle in markets.

"govt.sys corrupt: reboot (y/n)?"

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at January 23, 2009 11:18 AM
But jk thinks:

Heh. It's corrupted at the boot sector, I'm afraid. Don't know that a reboot will work.

I'll accept an umbrella of "government intervention" as a single solution but the pragmatist in me will insist that you cannot get rid of it and ask what should you fix? The Community Reinvestment Act is a beta noire of Conservatives and I'll admit it contradicts the claim of "predatory lenders."

But I'd suggest that some of the intervention was survivable. The CRA would not have brought down the housing sector without Fan & Fred. Fan and Fred might have done it singlehandedly but without Greenspan's 1% Fed Funds rate. You're given only one bullet (maybe none in an Obama Administration), which one do you take out?

On rational actors and their acting, I don't disagree. I'm pointing out to Chapman that exigencies dictated that current consumption was a good move.

Posted by: jk at January 23, 2009 12:39 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I refuse to accept that we can remove only one bullet. That's like accepting in 1775 that we can remove only one of taxation, military-backed governorships, and forbadement to settle west of the Appalachians.

When PCs are corrupted in the boot sector, it's still possible to wipe it and start over. Boot from a clean disk, CD or thumbdrive with debug.exe, and enter the following:

- f200 400 0
- A
- mov ax, 301
- mov bx, 200
- mov cx, 1
- mov dx, 80
- Int 13
- Int 20 (press Enter twice after this)
- g ("Program terminated normally")
- q

This neat trick will clear the whole MBR, including pesky "Unknown" partitions as a result of malware.

When necessary, you throw out the hard drive and install a new one that works (substitute "government" for "hard drive"). It's that old line about "That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at January 26, 2009 3:56 PM

January 21, 2009

Quote of the Day

Professor Mankiw asks "Why Major in Economics?" And links to a paper by Claudia Goldin and Lawrence F. Katz

The most lucrative college major is economics, which has an earnings premium of 0.33 log points and a premium of 0.19 including occupation controls.

The sound you hear is the soft weeping of a million English Lit and French History majors.

Posted by John Kranz at 5:45 PM | What do you think? [3]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Sure, and then we could all be working in banks right now.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at January 21, 2009 6:06 PM
But jk thinks:

There are always doubters and naysayers. I'll just reiterate that the 0.19 premium included occupational controls.

Posted by: jk at January 21, 2009 6:52 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Finally got around to the paper. I was a bit underwhelmed.

BR, economics does not mean the person will wind up at a bank, let alone professional economics or even finance. Even so, there are still lots of bank jobs; it's not like the entire industry has gone under.

Economics is a great gateway to graduate degrees, particularly an MBA or JD. Many econ students like myself will rarely or perhaps never use their education in their jobs. As some of you may recall, I work at a major asset manager, although on the compliance end. Our previous CEO was a research analyst, but our current CEO started as an accountant.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at January 23, 2009 11:33 AM

Heartbreak: Four More Years

But jk thinks:

Thank you thank you. I was trying to embed that (from a pirated source) and could not find the code. This is funny and seems somehow important.

Posted by: jk at January 21, 2009 4:40 PM

Life Imitates ThreeSources

Blog brother AlexC has wondered whether dissent remains the highest form of patriotism now that a Democrat lives at 1600 Penn. Denver Post writer and half of the last hope of journalism (with John Stossel) David Harsanyi also asks "Is Dissent Still Patriotic?"

Do all Americans truly have a yearning to fundamentally "remake" our nation? There must be a subversive minority out there that still believes the United States -- even with its imperfections and sporadic recessions -- is, in context, still a wildly prosperous and free country worth preserving.

Some of you must still believe that politicians are meant to serve rather than be worshiped. And there must be someone out there who considers partisanship a healthy, organic reflection of our differences rather than something to be surrendered in the name of so- called unity -- which is, after all, untenable, subjective and utterly counterproductive.

How about those who praised dissent for the past eight years?


That, in a nutshell, is my problem with "The Speech." The Speech says that times are so bad that we must look to the new administration to remake this country. And -- like FDR -- that little niceties like Constitutional rights will not get in the way of the effort.


Tough Room

Politics goes on, but I consider that the campaign ends with the Inaugural Address.

I don't want to ask anyone to put their chisels away or anything, but am I the only one who did not think the speech was that good? It is admittedly a failure of high expectations. The dark eight years of monosyllablism were to come to an end at noon on the 20th. A candidate known for gifted oratory was to assume a historic presidency in front of a record crowd.

I think it was one of those 52-10 Super Bowls. The scripted speech tried just a little too hard. Every sentence had an extra adornment. The delivery was good but it wasn't really punctuated with applause lines. I'll admit it was successful in establishing how terrible everything is today, setting a low bar for recovery expectations. He may have used Lincoln's bible but he clearly tried for an FDR address.

Of course I found much to disagree with, that was to be expected ("The debate between big and small government is over" Really?) But I was expecting a more splendid example of oratory.

Me too biased?

2008 Posted by John Kranz at 10:51 AM | What do you think? [11]
But Keith thinks:

Perry: I take the parts Terri cited as left-handed rebuke - the implicit meaning being that what he's changing, his predecessor was wrong on.

T. Greer: I'll admit that those words, in the context of anyone else's mouth, would be great statements, but I wonder - "...To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent..." There are those who make a good case that Obama came to power largely through corruption, deceit, and silencing dissent. Good words and all that, but is he the one who ought to be mouthing those words?

Posted by: Keith at January 21, 2009 3:27 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

Real quick- I think This commentary on the speech posted at Shadow Government is the best I have seen so far.

~T. Greer, zipping through.

Posted by: T. Greer at January 21, 2009 4:01 PM
But Terri thinks:

T - "affirm our commitment" pretty much sounds to me like he's saying, we're going to keep on keepin on.

I said the speech wasn't that great due to the snark. I didn't mention any previous speeches at all.

Are you saying it WAS great because in comparison he only snarked as much as others? If so, your standards are too low.

Posted by: Terri at January 21, 2009 4:09 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Keith, if those parts were indeed a rebuke specifically of GWB, future generations wouldn't know it, unless Saint Obamus really gets to work on rewriting history. Clinton's words were far stronger, but even those weren't directly implicating his predecessor.

Now let's take something that supposedly criticizes Bush:

"..we can no longer afford indifference to the suffering outside our borders...."

Conservatives would say that Bush certainly "did something" about "suffering outside our borders" by toppling Saddam and the Taliban. Liberals have no argument against the fact that Bush has done much to increase foreign aid, particularly in response to the tsunami disaster.

But what Obama really means is that we should follow his grand plan and give $85 billion a year to his Global Poverty Initiative. You have to love these names, which taken literally are God-awful. I personally think the world has enough poverty, and we hardly need to initiate more.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at January 22, 2009 12:45 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

Terri- "Reaffirm our new commitment."

Devil is in the details, they say.

But you said it was a "bad inaugural address."

I think this is a silly notion. If every other President engages in this kind of rhetoric, what makes this particular inaugural "bad?"

Now, if I was to criticize the speech, I would say that Obama failed to paint a vision for what he wants to see in America- it felt more like a fluffy State of the Union Address than it did a Presidential inaugural.

But faulting Obama for "snark" just seems a little odd to me. It is what Presidents do on such occasions- it makes just as much sense to me to criticize Obama for invoking American history or declaring that it is time for America to solve some great problem or another. It is simply what Presidents do.

~T. Greer, in all fairness.

Posted by: T. Greer at January 22, 2009 3:00 PM
But jk thinks:

I guess I should return to the scene of the crime. I will take the sum of the ten previous comments as a "no, you were not too harsh or biased, jk."

@tg: your link captures my sentiments perfectly. Expectations were raised pretty high for this speech and my comment was that he did not hit this "high fast one over the plate" out of the park. I have not heard any dissenters.

I will come to bat (keeping the metaphor, that's legal) for my friend Terri. Some of my discomfort was in watching a very good and decent man sit proudly and dignified while President Obama returned his grace with thinly-veiled disapprobation (or you could call it "snark.")

The piece you link to, tg, included several examples of different terms to soften the speech and make it more uplifting. I suspect the transition team wanted to leave a little bit of this "red meat" in there -- and I think the speech would have come of more magisterial without it.


Posted by: jk at January 22, 2009 6:58 PM

Morning in America

Hehehe.

... from the inbox.

outlook

But jk thinks:

Nor has he fixed Global Warming. We're expecting a record 71F today.

Posted by: jk at January 21, 2009 10:50 AM
But T. Greer thinks:


JK, I do think your weather updates from Boulder are going to drive me away from Threesources.

~T. Greer, Minnesotan for Global Warming.

Posted by: T. Greer at January 21, 2009 12:10 PM
But jk thinks:

Heh! Set the flamingos free! (I did a little link surgery, if you missed it, try again.)

Posted by: jk at January 21, 2009 12:27 PM

January 20, 2009

An Historic Day

Yes, it is true. Today's Inauguration of the first [genuine] black President of the United States is a date that will never be forgotten. But then, so is December 7th, 1941.

I take solace in this simple fact: The sun'll come out tomorrow. (And by then, the 44th president's remaining time in office will be one more day shorter.)

But Boulder Refugee thinks:

PE: The Refugee has rarely been accused of bleeding-heart liberal headedness, but if the label fits when empathising with historic wrong perpetrated against blacks, then he will accept it.

None of your examples are parallels. First of all, the fact that Obama has no slave blood is a red herring. We're not debating Obama's history, we're debating that of black Americans, without attempting to separate those whose ancestors arrived from Africa after 1863.

Second, I don't buy that "virtual enslavement" constitutes actual enslavement. But even if it does, Filipinos today, and since the Spanish-American war, have not been continually discriminated against by the Spanish.

Third, while pleased for all concerned that your mother escaped her brush with death, that's hardly comparable to a systemic discrimination and physical abuse over a period of generations.

Yes, we all need to move on and release the wrongs of the past (a lesson those in the Middle East especially must learn). But it is not the least unreasonable for a people historically oppressed to be pleased when someone who "looks like them" achieves the highest office in the world.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at January 22, 2009 7:54 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

No, I never said you were "liberal" or a "bleeding heart," only that you've fallen for the race guff. I'm seeing a lot of conservatives and libertarians falling for this "touchy-feely" nonsense that vacates reason for nonsense.

None of your examples are parallels. First of all, the fact that Obama has no slave blood is a red herring. We're not debating Obama's history, we're debating that of black Americans, without attempting to separate those whose ancestors arrived from Africa after 1863.

It in fact is not a red herring. It's very much relevant to the fact that they support hinged on the basis of shared skin tone. Or do you really think there was any other reason?

Every person who cheers that "a black man finally [insert achievement here]" only reveals a belief that skin color was a proper qualification. Why should it matter? Aren't we supposed to look past race?

Second, I don't buy that "virtual enslavement" constitutes actual enslavement. But even if it does, Filipinos today, and since the Spanish-American war, have not been continually discriminated against by the Spanish.

I called it "virtual" because Filipinos were free to go home and return to work for their Spanish masters and designated Filipino overlords. You're certainly welcome to read about the practices of Spanish colonization in the Philippines, which largely mirror what happened in the Americas.

You talk about "systematic discrimination" (which could only happen with government's sanction) but don't recognize that the days of racial segregation are over. You're cheering for correcting the sins of the past when today's recipients largely weren't sinned against.

Tell me, why isn't it systematic discrimination against Americans of European and Asian descent when they must score higher than blacks and Hispanics to have the same chance of entering schools? When a bank wouldn't even spit on me for less than 20% down, but a black or Hispanic person could get a no-doc loan because the bank was afraid what the government might do?

What about at an old job when I got a new boss, a micromanaging, supremely lazy black woman? She largely hid her contempt for white and Asian people, and to boot she was a complete idiot at her job. Unfortunately she was untouchable because she always threatened to sue for racial discrimination. When she cut my hours (her way of getting me to quit), I had no such recourse even if had I wanted it.

Third, while pleased for all concerned that your mother escaped her brush with death, that's hardly comparable to a systemic discrimination and physical abuse over a period of generations.

You missed the point, which was that I harbor no ill will toward Japanese today, because they weren't the ones who tried to kill her, and I was not the one attacked. Yet these days you have so many white Americans who are stupidly "apologizing" anew for slavery and Jim Crow, when they had nothing to do with it. (Though I haven't heard anything from Robert "KKK" Byrd on the election and his past...)

I don't care if they apologize or not, if they later are ashamed or not for being so blind. I just don't want them apologizing on my behalf, and using government to make me pay "reparations" in any form, when I had nothing to do with it.

But it is not the least unreasonable for a people historically oppressed to be pleased when someone who "looks like them" achieves the highest office in the world.

I absolutely call that unreasonable. It's racism. Obama has nothing in common with the vast majority of his black supporters, other than skin tone. I could accept that liberals like him for a shared ideology, but that isn't the case. Didn't you see the video where black Americans were asked what they thought of this and that statement, which were McCain's but presented as said by Obama? I wasn't the least bit shocked that, gee, they agreed.

But I guess I'm just silly for believing that line about the content of people's character instead of the color of their skin...

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at January 23, 2009 12:11 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I tend to agree with Perry. There ought truly be nothing more historic about the first "black" president than the first "brown eyed" president or the first "bald" president. But Mrs. johngalt explains that as a white male I can't understand the visceral satisfaction of finally being able to "identify" with someone. Can anyone argue that it won't be historic when Americans elect the first woman president? (I can't but we'll see what Perry can do with that one.)

It is said that this is about more than just identity politics and the associated favoritism and discriminations. I suppose it's easier to support the actions of a person whom you perceive to be more like yourself than like "the other." But I'll also challenge supporters of this theory to explain how it is ultimately based on anything more than either the fear or reality of identity politics. In other words, why should leftists be any more comfortable with President Obama deciding when to make an "exception" and use "additional" interrogation techniques than they were with President Bush doing so? Or why weren't conservatives more outraged when Bush gave tax cuts to people who paid no taxes than when Obama proposes to do so?

Posted by: johngalt at January 23, 2009 5:17 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

The Refugees main point is that black equality has come a long way in this country, and that he does not begrudge the black community some satisfaction in Obama's election.

PE and JG may enjoy this. It argues that many of the votes for Obama, both black and white, were racially motivate. And The Refugee won't dispute that. However, it also points out that it will help many (whites especially) to get over the legacy of discrimination and back to voting based on policy issues. If Obama's election can do that, then it has a silver lining - as long as we survive the next four years with liberty more or less intact.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at January 23, 2009 6:45 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Hopefully, this exchange is not so buried that this item from David Horowitz gets missed. It articulates The Refugee's position far better than he can (or has). The article is from frontpagemag.com, but the hat tip goes to the WSJ for re-running it under "Notable and Quotable." Well worth the whole read.

http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/Read.aspx?GUID=168D778B-BB43-4090-BBD1-515F0B003F7B

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at January 25, 2009 3:03 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Is Obama's win "historic"? Only if you attach consideration to the fact that he's black. Similarly, a female president would be "historic" only if you attach consideration to her gender.

Martin Van Buren was the first natural-born American citizen. Was that "historic"? Was it any more or less "historic" that he was the first non-Anglo-Saxon president? People attach a lot of needless "firsts" to things, not realizing that if something is possible, of course there will be a first time. Such hogwash allows them to feel good about racist or sexist support of someone who shares the same skin tone or gender. It isn't about someone who has the same stand on the issues: it's now "He looks like me" or "she looks like me."

I don't downplay the good thing that black Americans are no longer enslaved (at least like in the Antebellum Period, because today so many willingly enslave themselves to government handouts), and that there isn't the government-instituted racism of Jim Crow. But it's absurd for anyone to take satisfaction that "a black man got elected" -- one more time, what does skin color have to do with it? Whosoever brings up color, no matter how benignly, the same is who makes it a racial issue.

That link makes me feel like vomiting. "It could have been mistaken for a religious pilgrimage."

Actually, it was just that.

"showing Obama with his eyes uplifted, almost Christ-like, as if in private consultation with the heavens"

What more do you need? People don't just support him; they worship him. And you thought "O come let us adore him" was something sung only at Christmastime.

"The sin of slavery—could it be finally expiated?"

How could it not? Those responsible for slavery are long dead. Those victimized by slavery are also long dead.

Here's my own joke from a while back:

Approaching the end of his presidency, George W. Bush works with the Democrat-controlled Congress to write a law giving a one-time $250,000 reparations payment to each black American descended from slaves. Democrats naturally support it wholeheartedly, and Bush convinces barely enough Republicans so it would pass: "Just trust me." But the GOP can't believe it when Bush proudly announces that he's invited Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton to the signing ceremony.

So there's the trio in the Oval Office, surrounded by White House aides and the press. Jesse's thinking how the money will come in handy for his child support payments, and Al's dreaming of a hamburger run. Bush signs the bill and then asks the two, "Do you happen to have your checkbooks with you today?" Jesse and Al look at Bush quizzically and simultaneously say, "What do you mean?"

Bush replies, "Well, I guess you missed the key amendment that Republicans put in. Reparations will be paid out after deducting the costs of welfare, housing projects and other federal social spending for black Americans, and after giving reparations to descendants of Union Army men who died in the Civil War. Rather than receive $250,000, the GAO calculates that each black American instead owes $39,165."

Jesse blurts out, "That's ridiculous! I was never on welfare. Why should I pay for something that never involved me?"

Al blows up, "Yeah, and why should money go to the descendants who were never hurt themselves?"

Bush looks up with a smile, his eyes twinkling. "Bingo!"

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at January 26, 2009 4:27 PM

If You're Not Scared...

Is our 24 1/2 minute honeymoon up yet?

Congratulations, President Obama.

Please, please, please, don't let Secretary Daschle bring the NHS here:

In Britain, a government agency evaluates new medical products for their "cost effectiveness" before citizens can get access to them. The agency has concluded that $45,000 is the most worth paying for products that extend a person's life by one "quality-adjusted" year. (By their calculus, a year combating cancer is worth less than a year in perfect health.)

Here in the U.S., President-elect Barack Obama and House Democrats embrace the creation of a similar "comparative effectiveness" entity that will do research on drugs and medical devices. They claim that they don't want this to morph into a British-style agency that restricts access to medical products based on narrow cost criteria, but provisions tucked into the fiscal stimulus bill betray their real intentions.


But Charlie on PA Tpk thinks:

More than any other part of the Liberal agenda, that they may take away my freedom of choice in health care tops the list.

Ironically, if such an abomination is passed, my fears of President Obama's administration will be proven true; what a rotten way to be proven right.

Posted by: Charlie on PA Tpk at January 21, 2009 8:02 AM
But jk thinks:

Amen to that, Charlie. Looking at his cabinet selections, it looks like that's the place he'll make his stand for the progressive agenda. Like you, that's the last place I want to see it.

Posted by: jk at January 21, 2009 10:49 AM

Reason's Hopes and Fears

Match mine pretty closely:



But AlexC thinks:

Where are the "old" Reason-oids?

Only the science guy was over 40.

What is that telling us?

Posted by: AlexC at January 20, 2009 3:36 PM
But jk thinks:

They die from drug overdoses, or nasty diseases they catch from hookers, or from eating tainted beef that was not inspected by the USDA. No real Libertarian ever lives to be 41.

Posted by: jk at January 20, 2009 3:42 PM

Stay Classy, President Obama

Well well well.

On whitehouse.gov

whitehousegov

Silly we, the era of partisan politics hasn't ended.

It just got on a .gov website.

(tip to Redstate)


Stay Classy

Stay Classy, National Mall!

President Bush Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 3:05 PM | What do you think? [0]

Approval Ratings

Blog Brother AlexC finds a cool slideshow on the WSJ site that graphically tracks presidential approval ratings from Truman through W:

info-presapp0605-all.gif


But HB thinks:

I notice a pattern. It seems that (outside of Clinton and Reagan) every president is in a downtrend as they leave office.

Posted by: HB at January 20, 2009 2:57 PM
But jk thinks:

Fish, house guests and Presidents begin to stink?

If anybody did not click through, they have detailed graphs for each.

Posted by: jk at January 20, 2009 3:19 PM

That 70's Show

Yet another bad idea from the past gets dusted off as the economy contracts. A good friend of the blog sends a link to an article discussing the return of the"Buy American" movement in Michigan.

"If people continue to buy foreign cars, this won't be America for long."

'Out of a Job Yet? Keep buying foreign!' Ford production workers Tony Saputo, left, of Macomb Township and Brian Pannebecker of Shelby Township hold bumper-sticker magnets that Saputo created to discourage foreign car purchases. They sell for $3 at labor rallies.


The Free Press article makes a valiant (I once owned a Valiant...) effort to at least address the complexity of globalization, noting that Toyota and Nissan operate design centers and battery plants in Detroit. Author John Gallagher is balanced and concludes that most people are fixed in their buying habits and preferences.

But it is disturbing that these ideas are gaining currency. The big three made some money between '78 and '08 by building what people wanted (even though they were often evil SUVs) these appeals are economically stupid and are bound to have less appeal today after successful integration of global products, US manufactured Toyotas Hondas and Subarus, and the unpopularity of the automotive bailout.

But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

If people keep buying Belgian chocolate, this won't be America for very long.

If people keep buying Swiss watches, this won't be America for very long.

If people keep buying Austrialian beef, this won't be America for very long.

If people keep buying Philippine pineapples, this won't be America for very long.

If people keep buying Latin American textile goods, this won't be America for very long.

This isn't reductio ad absurdum. It's applying a very basic principle -- namely that any trade, within or beyond borders, allows an economy to specialize and flourish, while protectionism is in fact what destroys economy -- to a specious argument. American automakers are as competitive as horse breeders and buggy makers became a century ago, and they want "help" like certain French industries a century and a half ago:

"You must give me work, and, what is more, lucrative work. I have foolishly chosen an industry that leaves me with a loss of ten per cent. If you slap a tax of twenty francs on my fellow citizens and excuse me from paying it, my loss will be converted into a profit. Now, profit is a right; you owe it to me."

The society that listens to this sophist, that will levy taxes on itself to satisfy him, that does not perceive that the loss wiped out in one industry is no less a loss because others are forced to shoulder it—this society, I say, deserves the burden placed upon it.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at January 20, 2009 12:58 PM

It Must Be A Biden Thing

The AP reports:


WASHINGTON (AP) - Joe Biden's wife said Monday that he had his pick of being Barack Obama's running mate or the secretary of state nomination that eventually went to Hillary Rodham Clinton, a slip that the vice president-elect immediately tried to shush.

Jill Biden's comment came during an appearance with her husband on "The Oprah Winfrey Show," taped at Washington's Kennedy Center on the eve of the inauguration.

"Joe had the choice to be secretary of state or vice president," she said. Her husband turned to his wife with his finger to his lips and a "Shhhh!" that sent the audience into laughter. "OK, he did," Jill Biden said in her defense.

The vice president-elect blushed, grimaced and gave his wife a hug while the audience continued to erupt in laughter. "That's right," he finally said to his wife. "Go ahead."

Obama Administration Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 9:40 AM | What do you think? [0]

January 19, 2009

Enchiselment

You have GOT to be kidding me.

President-elect Barack Obama's inaugural address is one of the most anticipated speeches in decades, with many expecting his words to be chiseled into marble some day.

That's allegedly a straight-news article... not opinion.

Tip to Gateway Pundit.


Inaugural Address

I speak for administrative efficiency, for lightened tax burdens, for sound commercial practices, for adequate credit facilities, for sympathetic concern for all agricultural problems, for the omission of unnecessary interference of Government with business, for an end to Government's experiment in business, and for more efficient business in Government administration.
Not bad, eh? It's from Warren Gamaliel Harding's 1921 address, and it makes it onto this blog, courtesy of Don Luskin who thanks ThreeSources friend Perry Eidlebus. Perry found it on the LiveSciences website, which "chronicles the daily advances and innovations made in science and technology."

I guess the supercollider was down today, because LiveScience had to fill space with "The Worst Inaugural Addresses Ever." President Harding clocks in at number one.

Harding took some licks on these very pages awhile back. I post these for careful consideration of his rehabilitation. And I would bet you a 1921 US Dollar that it is better than anything you'll hear tomorrow.


Posted by John Kranz at 5:58 PM | What do you think? [5]
But T. Greer thinks:

Seriously? That clocks in worse than Harrison's?

~T. Greer, thinkin' people should read more history.

Posted by: T. Greer at January 19, 2009 6:28 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

P.S. Those unfamiliar with Harrison's cold-inducing address can find a copy of it here.

Posted by: T. Greer at January 19, 2009 6:34 PM
But jk thinks:

Old Tippicanoe made the list but Warren G. got the top slot.

I agree that a speech that actually kills the speaker should get special consideration.

Posted by: jk at January 19, 2009 7:24 PM
But Keith thinks:

Based on the content of that paragraph, I'm going to retract my previous aspersions cast upon Mr. Harding.

I'm actually a fan of Millard Fillmore's inaugural address, and wish more of 'em - including the one at today's coronation - were a lot more like Fillmore's.

If anyone asks you how long Fillmore's inaugural address was, tell them "just a silly Millardmeter longer." It's not original, but it harks back to a time when the best commercials weren't saved for the Super Bowl.

Posted by: Keith at January 20, 2009 12:23 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I'm going to blog about this when I have the chance, and in the meantime I had sent the link to Don with a few thoughts.

Say what you will about Harding, who wasn't a perfect man, but I fail to see why the words themselves were "boring" or "bad."

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at January 20, 2009 1:03 PM

Happy Birthday

Lysander Spooner.

I confess I never accepted his anti-slavery reading of the Constitution, but his influence on the abolitionist movement and his guidance on jury nullification make him a hero to all who cherish freedom.

I tease when I have jury duty that I will wear a "Lysander Spooner Died For Your Sins" T-Shirt. That should ensure that I am home by 9:30. But seriously, last time I went in I was not selected but I would have had to swear to an outright lie to be accepted on a jury.

Hat-tip: Volkh

Posted by John Kranz at 4:15 PM | What do you think? [0]

Sorry to Spoil the Steelers Party

Watching the playoffs on TV like my beloved Broncos, I have to admit I was rooting for a pan-Pennsylvania Super Bowl. I wanted to watch the frenzy of our Keystone State blog brothers and commenters. And I salute the Steelers on their solid victory.

But Jerry Bowyer takes to the WSJ Ed Page today to look at a dark side of the city that surrounds the confluence of the Monongahela, Allegheny, and Ohio Rivers. And the cities that lost.

If there ever was a time to crow about the wonders of rebuilding a city around a professional sports team, this would be it. Three of the four teams remaining in the play-offs hail from cities -- Baltimore, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh -- that in recent years spent billions rebuilding their downtowns around pro sports facilities and other community "anchors."

Except that there's a problem. The teams might be competitive, but the cities definitely are not. All three continue to shrink in population, and have stagnant job markets and crumbling public schools.


My hometown actually appeared to have pulled this off. Denver built three new downtown stadia in the 90s, and formerly skid row addresses now house half-million dollar lofts. Downtown used to empty at 5:00 PM and it is now a happening scene where you have to worry more about traffic and parking than getting mugged.

It even fooled me. Now I realize that it mostly coincidental. The city was growing thanks to good tax and regulation policies which attracted business and workers from other areas. And a lot of private investment in housing and entertainment was fueling the urban renewal. I should not suggest that the stadia did not help. Coincidence may be too strong a word, but many residents are convinced that public spending restored the area. I am guessing they are the same people who are certain that FDR's collectivism ended the depression.

We talked about meritocracy. Football teams are judged on their records, and cities and states must ultimately be judged on their migration. Boyer points out this sad fact:

I argued that the franchise was an exercise in leadership excellence in a city whose politicians were anything but. Numerous callers hammered me. They said there are a lot of "Steelers" bars across the country, and that proved the city still had some national respect. Indeed, there are hundreds of watering holes dispersed across America loaded with fanatical devotes of the Pittsburgh Steelers. "Where are the Seahawks bars?" the callers asked.

In Seattle, of course. That city has gained population while Pittsburgh lost it. Steelers bars are the visible cultural artifact of a kind of economic diaspora.


I asked some friends about opening a Michigan bar in the Boulder area. Everybody talks about the Californians, but there is a sizable Michigan diaspora. And the state boasts enough sports teams to fill a few bar TVs.

I want to end with a suggestion that I am not being smug. New political leadership is working hard to bring all the things that have damaged Philly, Pittsburgh and Detroit here. We'll join you soon!


Posted by John Kranz at 12:36 PM | What do you think? [0]

Who Let the Dogs Out?

I hope the Obama Administration will look back fondly at the ThreeSources Honeymoon, when we were kind, fair, and hopeful about our 44th President. "Yeah, jk, that was the best 24 1/2 minutes of my life..."

Seriously, I'm pretty upbeat and my optimism was further fueled by Collin Levy's piece on the Blue Dog Democrats. President-elect Obama seems determined not to let Speaker Pelosi and Leader Reid drive policy; he may find important allies in the Blue Dogs.

Indeed, the way the Blue Dogs flex their muscle may become one of the defining issues of the Obama administration's opening months. If they are inclined to wrangle with Nancy Pelosi and the more liberal contingent in the Democratic Party, they will drive policy, especially as a check on spending. "Ideally the White House will see things our way, so they will present legislation on the Hill that we find acceptable," Mr. Cooper says. "If they stray too much from that or if a certain part of Congress strays too much from that, then we may have to object."

The whole piece is superb. Republicans might find their best path is to find common ground with the Blue Dogs. They would have the numbers to govern from the center, and the next four years might be pretty good.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:04 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Mr. Cooper, Jim Cooper D-Tennessee, had some interesting things to say about the Enron-like accounting methods [my characterization, not his] of the federal government:

"The U.S. government uses cash accounting," he says. "That is illegal for any enterprise of any size in America except for the U.S. government. Every for-profit business, every not-for-profit business, every state and local government has to use real accounting except for Uncle Sam."

In other words, the federal deficit isn't "merely" $3 trillion. "Medicare alone is $34 trillion in all. We don't even know how to measure Medicaid, but it's probably an equal amount. So just right there Barack Obama is inheriting over $60 trillion of problems. This is not counting the bailout, or Social Security or anything."

And yet they force America's banks to use mark to market accounting. What I'd like to know is, when will the federal government have to face a margin call?

Posted by: johngalt at January 20, 2009 6:47 PM

January 18, 2009

The Most Unlikable Politician Since -- Anybody!

I remain cautiously optimistic about the President-elect, but I'm not so sure about our 47th VP. Luckily, he is confident enough in his own abilities for the both of us:

He said he would bring more to the job than any of his predecessors, except possibly Lyndon B. Johnson. “I know as much or more than Cheney,” Mr. Biden said. “I’m the most experienced vice president since anybody.”

Mr. Biden, who plans to resign his Senate seat Thursday, has focused on building a relationship with Mr. Obama, nearly two decades his junior. When he accepted the second slot on the Democratic ticket, Mr. Biden requested several things, including a weekly luncheon with the president, full access for him and his staff and freedom to range across all areas rather than being “siloed” in a handful of policy areas. Mr. Obama agreed.


Anybody? John Adams? Aaron Burr? Schuyler Colfax? TR? I'm in the middle of a book on Martin Van Buren and he outshines "the Senator from Baja Pennsylvania*" by a significant margin.

The VP-elect admits that maybe Lyndon Johnson (like his policies or not, he was a lion of the U.S. Senate) was maybe kinda sorta almost in Biden's league. How much of this is outrageous arrogance and how much is a complete lack of historical knowledge? The Vice Presidency is a funny job and VP Adams, Marshall, and Garner all famously lampooned their own office. But the office has been held by some political giants. And the newest occupant would do well to adopt some of his boss's humility.

Yeah, that Thomas Jefferson was an okay fellow but he was no Joe Biden!

* Hat-tips: Instapundit for the link and our pals at PA Water Cooler for the sobriquet "Senator from Baja Pennsylvania" great stuff.

VP Biden Posted by John Kranz at 1:47 PM | What do you think? [0]

January 17, 2009

Not Just Larry

President-elect Obama was not just sucking up to conservatives. It seems to be a strategy:

So having won the election without wooing the press, what is Obama's new press strategy?

Courtship! On Tuesday night, Obama dined at George F. Will's house with name-brand conservatives Charles Krauthammer, David Brooks, William Kristol, Paul Gigot, Peggy Noonan, Michael Barone, and Larry Kudlow. The liberal commentariat got their audience the next day, when Obama met with Eugene Robinson, Maureen Dowd, Frank Rich, E.J. Dionne, and others at his transition headquarters. As I write, he's touring the Washington Post, where he was interviewed by the paper's editorial board and its White House team.

Hat-tip: Instapundit

Posted by John Kranz at 1:07 PM | What do you think? [0]

January 16, 2009

Sweatshops

An unexpectedly keen view from Nicholas Kristof in the NYTimes. He suggests if you are raising a child in a Cambodian garbage dump, a job in a "sweatshop" does not look so bad.

I’m glad that many Americans are repulsed by the idea of importing products made by barely paid, barely legal workers in dangerous factories. Yet sweatshops are only a symptom of poverty, not a cause, and banning them closes off one route out of poverty. At a time of tremendous economic distress and protectionist pressures, there’s a special danger that tighter labor standards will be used as an excuse to curb trade.

When I defend sweatshops, people always ask me: But would you want to work in a sweatshop? No, of course not. But I would want even less to pull a rickshaw. In the hierarchy of jobs in poor countries, sweltering at a sewing machine isn’t the bottom.


Well said. The whole piece is superb.

Hat-tip: Terri

But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Who stole Nicholas' computer and what did they do with him??

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at January 16, 2009 7:54 PM
But jk thinks:

No kidding. I checked the name a couple of times.

Posted by: jk at January 16, 2009 8:21 PM

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Inflation

If we started releasing 10, 20, 50, and 100 Trillion Dollar bills, we could honor four new Presidents (Coolidge on the $50T!) I am guessing that Zimbabwe notes probably feature the visage of President Mugabe, which would be fitting. BBC:

Zimbabwe is introducing a Z$100 trillion note, currently worth about US$30 (£20), state media reports.

Other notes in trillion-dollar denominations of 10, 20 and 50 are also being released to help Zimbabweans cope with hyperinflation.

However, the dollarisation of the economy means that few products are available in the local currency


Hat-tip: Professor Mankiw

Posted by John Kranz at 4:23 PM | What do you think? [0]

Who had $825 Billion?

You win the pool! WSJ:

WASHINGTON -- House Democrats Thursday rolled out the details of an $825 billion economic stimulus package to combat what they called "a crisis not seen since the Great Depression," but its immediate economic impact is unclear and the plan faces hurdles before becoming law.



I'm Going Back to Bed

I've whined a little about a dear relative who is devoted to creating a Kucinich-style "Department of Peace." A few days after the election, I realized that the electoral stars had probably aligned and that it's likely this nightmare dream might come true.

Today a good friend emails:

Dear Friends,

When I heard that Quincy Jones had a petition to call for a Secretary of
the Arts in our new administration, my answer was a resounding YES! I
am sending this because I know you understand the importance of art in
our lives.

Art is the core of what makes us human beings. Art is the language of
our soul. Art is our true unique gift and legacy.

Art brings out the best in us, makes us stronger and lifts our
spirits. Art has been known to help heal those who have severe
physical ailments as well as those who have spiritual wounds.

Art programs make a difference in our lives; bringing hope, self esteem,
emotional well being and a renewed connection to our spirit and to each
other. "Art can't hurt you."

here is a link to sign the petition.


I recently was proud to learn that I am related to Q. Maybe I should call "cuz" up and speak to him. Why why why do these folks think that because something is "important" government should be involved? The folks at Samizdata have a great riff that "The Ministry of X is established to ruin X." If you think of US Departments, the law seems universal. Education? Energy? I've muttered, sotto voce, that when the US D. of Peace is fully staffed that the Amish and Quakers will be engineering drive-bys.


But Keith thinks:

We already have a "Department of Peace." We usually just call them the Marines. Just sayin'.

Seriously a Secretary of the Arts? How much will that wind up costing, and would I be out of line to expect more (or less) than taxpayer-subsidized, metalshop-welded modern art sculptures in front of every elementary school across the fruited plains, Christoff-style displays cranked out by the truckload, and American Idol broadcasted five nights a week, all produced by the WPA? This sounds like the National Endowment for the Arts with a turbocharger and no brakes.

And of course, there will be a "prevailing union wage" clause for all the performers and support staff.

Posted by: Keith at January 16, 2009 2:31 PM
But jk thinks:

I've made the Marines comment -- also sotto voce -- many times, Keith. We're in complete agreement.

--Except don't be knockin' scale, my friend, nothin' wrong with paying scale...

Posted by: jk at January 16, 2009 4:09 PM

January 15, 2009

Just in Time

For years, the American left has been breaking President Bush's balls about warrantless wiretapping.

About that...

A federal intelligence court, in a rare public opinion, issued a major ruling validating the power of the president and Congress to wiretap international phone calls and intercept e-mail messages without a specific court order, even when Americans’ private communications may be involved.

The court decision, made in August 2008 by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review, came in an unclassified, redacted form.

The decision marks the first time since the disclosure of the National Security Agency’s warrantless eavesdropping program three years ago that an appellate court has addressed the constitutionality of the federal government’s wiretapping powers.


How 'bout that.

But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

And courts have ruled that certain human beings are property. Courts have ruled that governments can force people to sell their homes to private developers. The list goes on.

Just because a court makes a ruling does not mean the ruling is moral or correct.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at January 16, 2009 11:05 AM

The Next Senator from New York?

Captain of US Air flight 1549.


Too funny!

Didja see this? Iowahawk does Hollywood:

As a professional filmmaker, I have to say I was as stunned as you when I read that the film industry suffered through another lackluster box office year in 2008. The chief reasons for this appear to be the economy and Internet pirates, or possibly that Raisinette ebola scare. Whatever the cause it’s safe to say that it had nothing to do with the screen product, because 2008 was also a landmark year for the kind of ponderous, preachy, high-quality cinema that Americans from Santa Monica to Silverlake are clamoring for. Don’t take my word for it — just look at the record 5,362 awards Hollywood earned from itself last year, up nearly 35% from 2003. Suck on that, stupid box office!

I wanted to excerpt some of his 2009 film synopses, but I wouldn't know where to stop. Great stuff. Hat-tip: Instapundit


Posted by John Kranz at 4:32 PM | What do you think? [0]

Other Than Avoiding Armageddon

Blog friend Josh Hendrickson at the Everyday Economist links to "The Terrible Lessons of TARP" by Barry Ritholtz. Ritholtz is a bright guy and frequent Kudlow & Co. guest. I always considered him the anti-Kudlow. It's surprising they can be on the same show and not disturb the space-time continuum.

Though I tend to fall on the Kudlow side of things, Ritholtz is a serious and smart guy. To provide both sides on CNBC, they always pull up cartoonish bears and leftist political hacks to balance Larry's optimism and general support of the GOP. Ritholtz is neither, but he trends a little bear-ish and has a healthy distrust of politicians of any stripe.

Props complete, but I must disagree with his reasonable and eloquent arguments against TARP. I'll agree with each of his points but he betrays himself in the intro:

What I can say without reservation is that the TARP spending prevented large brokers and banks from going to zero. Since the legislation was passed in the Fall, there has not been a major disruptive bankruptcy.

Sure, the FDIC had to take over a few institutions that were overdue for the long dirt nap anyway, but the sort of market roiling Bear Steans collapse, and the subsequent Q3 Lehman/AIG/CitiGroup disasters have at least stopped.

This is not, to be clear, any declaration that the TARP has been a success. We have avoided financial armageddon, but other than that, it has been an abject failure.


Other than that? Other than doing exactly what it was supposed to do, it was an abject failure.

I certainly suggest you read the whole thing. Again, all his points are correct -- it was ad hoc, capricious and wasteful. Fair cop, guv! Other than avoiding financial Armageddon...


But Everyday Economist thinks:

jk,

The fact that we haven't had any banks fail is not evidence that this has been a success. As Perry loves to say, correlation is not causation.

In order to prove that the TARP is the reason for the lack of failures, you must be able to answer the following:

1. Where did the money go?

2. How has it been used?

3. What would have happened had it not been used?

Admittedly, number 3 is a counter-factual and therefore an answer would only be mere speculation. Nonetheless, I think that you would find it particularly difficult to answer numbers 1 and 2 and without which it is hard to make a case that it has been successful.

Posted by: Everyday Economist at January 15, 2009 10:28 PM
But jk thinks:

I love the ThreeSources commentariat and respect their right as free thinkers in a free market to comment or demur whenever they choose.

But I got zero responses to my post (four south of this one) with a graph of the TED spread. I have made the same case since TARP (using LIBOR, which has the same shape). The point of TARP was to keep credit markets from freezing up like our friend T. Greer in Minnesota.

I cannot (like the old software joke) roll back time and see what would have happened if Secretary Paulson had decided to get a massage and eat some high-fiber cereal instead of intervene. But LIBOR went to an acceptable level and my credit card works in the local ATM. I suspect Alexander Hamilton is smiling down on us even if Jackson and Taney are cursing.

Posted by: jk at January 16, 2009 11:19 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

jk: as my friend Billy Beck says, principles are all that matters. Not blind clinging to an opinion or ideology, but a position borne of reason and care.

Throw out everything else and ask the moral question: why should anyone be coerced, via taxation, to support these companies that should properly be allowed to fail? The ends do not justify the means -- rather, the ends are justified by the means. How you proceed along the journey is at least as important as the destination.

EE is exactly right on the three questions. And to show how ludicrous TARP has become, we don't even know the answers to #1 and #2. So much for government transparency and accountability!

Do you realize that your ATM card would very probably would have anyway, in a parallel universe where TARP didn't pass? You've swallowed the same sort of rubbish that people still accept about FDR's New Deal: "Yes things were still bad, but they'd have been worse if he hadn't acted!" Remember that whatever the government is "injecting," that's our money. The government isn't rescuing us: it's making you rescue yourself. And when it can't tap us for the money now, it borrows it, so we'll probably have paid double the principal amount by the time the debt is retired, because of interest.

You're asking and trusting the arsonist to put out the fire he started. No thanks! The arsonist is hardly "all we've got" -- we have the free market to carry us through.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at January 16, 2009 11:47 AM
But Everyday Economist thinks:

jk,

1. What credit crisis?

2. As I have said before, this was never a problem of liquidity, but rather counter-party risk (see here and here). This suggests that the best form of action is to let/facilitate the bankruptcies of the failing firms. What we have done with the TARP is exactly the opposite. We are continually funneling money to the failing companies to keep them afloat.

3. What is the evidence that the TARP is what caused the TED spread and the LIBOR to come down? They are, by the way, still at historically high levels.

Posted by: Everyday Economist at January 16, 2009 9:45 PM
But jk thinks:

I was actually going to use that to my advantage. The original TARP proposal (we call it Tarp Classic® now) was more about counter-party risk than liquidity.

I suggest that LIBOR and TED spreads measure counter-party risk and that the realization that the US Treasury was "backstopping" some of the toxic assets mattered more than the exact vehicle or procedures. I would not have changed TARP Classic® to New TARP with extra liquidity. But then, they don't let me be SecTreas.

Yes they're still high but North of 800 bps is untenable -- that's ATM and credit card doesn't work territory.


Posted by: jk at January 17, 2009 12:35 PM
But Everyday Economist thinks:

jk,

I am trying to follow you here, but you are losing me. You are correct that the particular credit spreads measure counter-party risk. You are also correct that the TARP classic was aimed at reducing such risk. Finally, you correctly assert that the actual TARP just injected capital directly into the banks and was thus aimed at adding extra liquidity.

So how is it that a TARP aimed at increasing liquidity lowered credit spreads?

I assume that your comment amount backstopping is your evidence. However, if you look at the LIBOR-OIS spread, you will notice that after hovering between 50 and 100 basis points, it rose to nearly 400 basis points shortly after the announcement of the TARP.

Posted by: Everyday Economist at January 19, 2009 11:09 PM

Hyde Park Weather Report

I heartily recommend the Facebook group "Not Evil Just Wrong." A new documentary from the makers of "Mine Your Own Business."

Ann McElhinney posts a link to Chicago Weather and sez: "Nation Freezes as Global Warming President Prepares For Office"

A new record was set Wednesday when Chicago had its ninth consecutive day of measurable snowfall, according to the National Weather Service.

The previous record was eight consecutive days set from Dec. 13 to 20, 1973.

Snowfall records in Chicago date back to 1884.

A wind chill warning has been issued as temperatures as tsmperartures will not reach single digits until Friday.

The forecast for Thursday is: Sunny and cold, with a high near -3. Wind chill values as low as -33. West northwest wind between 10 and 15 mph.

Thursday Night: Clear, with a low around -16. Wind chill values as low as -34. West wind around 10 mph.

Friday: Mostly sunny and cold, with a high near 6. Wind chill values as low as -32. Southwest wind between 5 and 10 mph.

Friday Night: Snow likely. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 5. South southwest wind between 10 and 15 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%.


Of course, this is not proof of DAWG-fraud. But, were it unseasonably warm, I'm sure we'd be hearing about it.
UPDATE: David Harsanyi confers:
The carbon footprint of Barack Obama's inauguration could exceed 575 million pounds of CO2. According to the Institute for Liberty, it would take the average U.S. household nearly 60,000 years of naughty ecological behavior to produce a carbon footprint equal to the largest self-congratulatory event in the history of humankind.

The same congressfolk who are now handing out thousands of tickets to this ecological disaster only last year mandated the phased elimination of the incandescent light bulb — a mere carbon tiptoe, if you will.

But Keith thinks:

2:35 Pacific here, and it's 83 degrees outside in Pasadena, CA. It's supposed to be January outside. As in winter.

Come on by and join me for margaritas. Or, failing that, someone ship Al Gore out here to make a speech and lower the temperature.

Posted by: Keith at January 15, 2009 5:39 PM
But johngalt thinks:

It is, in fact, January at Atlantis Farm. Sunny and clear, we've made it up to the mid-forties today (45.6F as I type this, evidenced by the weather banner in the side bar). While winter in Colorado typically means pack up the garden hoses for the season, I actually watered the sand footing in our indoor arena today. Hey Greer - imagine what an impulse sprinkler would look like if it were operating in your yard today! And yes Keith, I was drinking margaritas the last two evenings. (OK, only because I was out of beer.)

To be fair, we did our time in Al Gore's "warming" barrel last month when the overnight low hit 22 below on the morning of the 15th.

Posted by: johngalt at January 15, 2009 5:59 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

Will you guys stop it? Please? Do you really need to rub it in?

~T. Greer, jealous.

Posted by: T. Greer at January 15, 2009 7:50 PM
But Keith thinks:

I will stop, but nonetheless, my offer of libation stands; and if I could teleport you thirty Fahrenheit degrees, I would.

Posted by: Keith at January 16, 2009 1:35 AM
But jk thinks:

I was gonna be nice, but since you guys have started -- I just took my beloved dog, Skylark, for a walk. I wore a golf shirt, no coat, no hat, no gloves.

You should take Keith up on his offer of 30, tg. Then it'd be a balmy -17; you could play a round of golf or something.

Posted by: jk at January 16, 2009 11:29 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I just now realized why it's so cold.

Obama got elected, and hell is freezing over. It's finally spreading to us.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at January 16, 2009 11:50 AM

January 14, 2009

Kudlow and Obama

The sound you hear is jk weeping ;)

Obama Administration Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 9:54 PM | What do you think? [2]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Now imagine an alternate universe in which liberal pundits sit down to dinner with President Bush. Would it be cordial, polite, and respectful as this one was? Would the those journalist respect the off-the-record agreement instead of using the opportunity to sneeringly leak anecdotes? The Refugee can't imagine it either.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at January 15, 2009 11:11 AM
But jk thinks:

Heh. Thanks for the link, I hadn't seen this.

No, jk is pretty happy (and lapsing into that creepy third person thing again). Among the things I admire about Mister Kudlow are his optimism and his quickness to respectfully engage those with whom he disagrees. He's as "biased" as anybody in the country, yet other views always get a respectful hearing on his show.

Put me down as cautiously optimistic as well -- though I don't want Larry to hang around with Peggy Noonan and George Will too much. We do not need another "Conventional Wisdom Conservative."

Posted by: jk at January 15, 2009 11:12 AM

This Calls for a Pointless Gesture!!!

This anti-Corporate Jet craze has a longer range than a Gulfstream IV.

Chairman Frank wants to make certain that any firm in which the US owns an equity stake is wasting the time of its most valuable leaders in TSA lines:

Meanwhile, Frank introduced legislation with a wide range of restrictions on how the rest of the funds from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) may be spent.

One provision in Frank’s legislation specifically prohibits companies that own, lease, or hold an ownership stake in private planes from receiving money, unless they can show the Treasury secretary that they are in the process of getting rid of their access to the planes.


Man I can dig the populist angle here. Who wants to subsidize luxury for some loser?

But perhaps Frank should ask why private shareholders "tolerate" such nonsense. I think he'd find that the hourly value of a top CEO and the importance of their communication make the jet a good buy. I hope Frank will next move on to making them wear hairshirts and use ten year old laptops. Make 'em pay Barney -- make those bastards pay!

Hat-tip: Insty, who wonders about Speaker Pelosi's Gulfstream.


Posted by John Kranz at 6:32 PM | What do you think? [3]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

How about this simple approach: *don't* force me to give my money to them, and let them spend their own money however damn imprudently they want.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at January 15, 2009 1:23 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Fear not, fat cats. The jet ban was stripped from the bill under pressure from lawmakers in the great state of Kansas where many business jets are built. Boeing?

Gee, I can't wait until Oh-bama is prez and this crass political favoritism becomes a thing of the past.

Posted by: johngalt at January 15, 2009 6:02 PM
But jk thinks:

Hope and Change!

Posted by: jk at January 15, 2009 7:54 PM

What Would Freegans Wear?

'Trashion' Trend: Dumpster Couture Gets a Boost at Green Inaugural Ball in the Wall Street Journal, no less.

[Forty year old Nancy Judd, former Carlos Coyote, Santa Fe's recycling mascot] once spent 400 hours, she says, unspooling cassettes and crocheting the crinkled tape into a fake-fur coat.

As attire, the outfits have their limitations. An evening gown sparkling with 12,000 bits of glass tends to shed; a fitted jacket cut from the vinyl top of a convertible is so well insulated, it doubles as a sweat lodge.

Also, says Ms. Judd, "you can't sit down in any of them."


A good friend of the blog thinks this may be the end of the world as we know it. I'd like to argue, really.

Posted by John Kranz at 5:02 PM | What do you think? [2]
But T. Greer thinks:

Hehe. Freegan.

Still, I think you have to be pretty creative in order to make clothes out of this stuff. It slightly reminds me of Carl Warner's paintings made of food.

~T. Greer, not so artistic.

Posted by: T. Greer at January 14, 2009 8:47 PM
But jk thinks:

Yeah, I appreciate the art (though I did not see the crocheted mylar ensemble, I don't know that I'd have shoes to go with that...)

What I do not appreciate is the celebration of her products as being socially responsible. The suggestion that we should be reusing more trash rather than more productively using human time disturbs me. Waste time for art, sure -- but don't celebrate the "greenness."


Posted by: jk at January 15, 2009 11:45 AM

TED's Excellent Adventure

That headline is so lame and obvious, I apologize. But I surprisingly have not seen it.

As I am the last guy left defending President Bush (I'll shut off the lights when I leave...) I am also the last guy with a nice word for TARP, or as it is known around here, "the unconscionable bailout of greedy wall street bastards." You can talk about moral hazard and find me sympathetic, you can go all Senator Durban on me and complain about lack of oversight -- it's a fair cop.

I have but one defense:
ted090114.gif

Hat-tip: Professor Mankiw who adds "Bloomberg reports that the Ted spread is now below 100 basis points. The Ted spread, the difference between the interest rates on interbank loans and T-bills, is one gauge of how much fear is gripping the financial system. Its decline suggests that the TARP is working and is certainly good news."



About that Depth and Complexity...

The WaPo reports that SecTreas Trainee Geithner had some, as they say in economic circles "'splainin'" to do:

As Treasury Secretary, Geithner would be tasked with directing a mammoth rescue of the nation's economy. President-elect Barack Obama selected him for the post late last year, citing his "unparalleled understanding of our current economic crisis, in all of its depth, complexity and urgency."

But on Tuesday, Geithner appeared before members of the Senate Finance Committee to argue that mistakes on his tax returns early this decade were unintentional and that he has since paid back the $42,702 he owed, including interest.


Hey, it could happen to anybody. I understand Rep. Charlie Rangel's accountant has trouble sometimes. But gosh, fellers, do you ever think that if you made it easier that the newfound productivity might outstimulate the stimulus?

UPDATE: Looks like Insty agrees. And Jim Treacher reminds: "A plumber owed $1,000 in taxes that he didn’t even know about… …and it was headline news!"


Not With a Bang But a Whimper II

For 23 days a year in July, I become a Frenchman. I enjoy the picturesque countryside and struggle to pronounce "le coeur de croix de furre" (Which is not, as I suspected, the mountain of the fur cross, rather the mountain of the cross of iron).

But when the tour ends, I want to go back to freedom. Grand, philosophical John Locke and Thomas Jefferson freedom to be sure. But also, to live in a land where you might get a good idea for a child's toy and sell it on eBay, or at a local independent store. No more.

It seems there were children to protect, and Speaker Pelosi leaped into action:

After last year's scare over contaminated toys made in China, Congress leapt in to require all products aimed at children under 12 years old to be certified as safe and virtually lead-free by independent testing. The burden may be manageable for big manufacturers and retailers that can absorb the costs of discarded inventory and afford to hire more lawyers. Less likely to survive are hundreds of small businesses and craftspeople getting hit with new costs in a down economy.

Starting in February, you'll have to have a gub'mint certificate proving that those little wooden cars you make in you garage are safe for kids. And, you gotta read the whole thing, even bikes and books are subject. Reps. Pelosi and Waxman boasted that they will pulling toys off the shelves.

Maybe I'm not fair to France. I seem to be overly fair to the USA of late. But the mixed-economies of Western Europe embrace guilds and regulation (would the lollipop guild make the toys?) and the idea of being licensed to make toys does not fit with Locke, Jefferson, or the United States.

With apologies to T S Eliot (who would likely have agreed with me) This is the way freedom ends, not with a bang but a whimper.


But Terri thinks:

There goes the used the clothing story business also. There is no better way to clothe fast growing children - or recycle old clothes she says in full whimper.

Posted by: Terri at January 14, 2009 1:59 PM

January 13, 2009

The New Rust Belt

I was surprised to read that outmigration in California has now eclipsed inmigration.

The Chicago Boyz blog has some thoughts. The whole, short post is great, but here is a sad, true paragraph:

It seems that in post-New Deal America, economic and civil success sow their own seeds of destruction. When things are going good, socialist experimentation seems harmless. A booming economy can pay for increased government spending and an ever-increasing scope of government power. Eventually, however, socialism strangles the economic engine and destroys civil society.

I linked favorably to Matt Labash's dark view of Detroit and traded some emails with blog friend Everyday Economist (short version, the article is a little over the top, but the "little" got shaved down as the thread progressed). Could California really go the same sad way of the Great-Lakes-Industrial cities? I've suggested that Duluth and Buffalo, for all their charms, have a tough sell to new industries based on their weather. California still has the sun and the pretty vistas. But they still have the same political class that will fund "Soft America" on the remnants of a long-past Golden State "Hard America" until harder reality is forced upon them.

Many escaping jobs will find their way to Texas, Nevada, and Colorado. But when the Rust Belt moved, it was not as easy to offshore. A lot of those will find their way out of the United States -- not out of Comparative Advantage, but to escape bad government.

Hat-tip: Instapundit

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 1:52 PM | What do you think? [0]

I Thought Everyone Was Going To Like Us

Accompanying caption via Reuters:


Hardline demonstrators burn posters of U.S. President-elect Barack Obama, during a demonstration in support of the people of Gaza, in front of the Swiss Embassy in Tehran January 13, 2009.

Jihad Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 11:44 AM | What do you think? [6]
But T. Greer thinks:

Notice how only "hardline" demonstraters burn posters of Obama.

$10 they would just be "protesters" if it were pictures of Bush that were being burned.

~T. Greer, bias-detector.

Posted by: T. Greer at January 13, 2009 12:08 PM
But jk thinks:

Just glad to see our place in the world has been restored...

Posted by: jk at January 13, 2009 12:42 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Welcome to the world, Mr. Obama. Say something really clever that will make them realize how wrong they've been all these years.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at January 13, 2009 12:59 PM
But jk thinks:

To be fair, these are pro-Hamas protesters in Tehran. Not the worst enemies to have, eh?

Posted by: jk at January 13, 2009 1:06 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

The Refugee's concern is that this may be the first time that it dawns on Obama and the Left that these people fundamentally hate America, not GWB. Sitting down over a nice cup of mint tea and sweet halva while listening attentively to their concerns will not be enough to convince these people abandon their nukes and unite in harmony with Jews and Christians.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at January 13, 2009 3:38 PM
But jk thinks:

@tg: Taranto's stealing your material!

Posted by: jk at January 13, 2009 4:15 PM

Freedom Still Works

The Wall Street Journal's annual "Index of Economic Freedom," compiled with the Heritage Foundation is out this week. It provides a stark reminder -- contra Arianna Huffington -- that free market capitalism is not dead.

The positive correlation between economic freedom and national income is confirmed yet again by this year's data. The freest countries enjoy per capita incomes over 10 times higher than those in countries ranked as "repressed." This year, for the first time, the Index also correlates economic freedom with important societal values like poverty reduction, human development, political freedom and environmental protection. The linkages are robust, with economically freer countries performing significantly better on every indicator of well-being.

Click through to see the whole list, but the top 10: Hong Kong, Singapore, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, United States, Canada, Denmark, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom are rewarded pretty handsomely with per-capita GDP in exchange for the freedom they offer.

The bottom of the list is at least as illustrative: North Korea, Zimbabwe, Cuba, Burma. Eritrea, Venezuela, Congo, Comoros, Libya. In the write up, Terry Miller wonders if we want to trade our principles for Cuba's after a couple of bad quarters, or if we should "dance with the one that brung ya:"

[former Texas Longhorn coach Darrell] Royal meant that even when faced with daunting new challenges, one would be well advised not to abandon a winning formula that had already brought success. That is good advice as the United States and other economies face the daunting task of restoring economic growth.

The "party" in this case is the six decades of increasing prosperity that the world has enjoyed since the end of World War II. U.S. Gross Domestic Product was about $1.6 trillion in 1947 (valued in 2000 dollars), a little over $11,000 for every man, woman and child. In 2007, it was $11.5 trillion, or about $38,000 per capita. That's almost a doubling of average incomes each generation, made possible by the free market's efficiency in allocating capital and labor.



January 12, 2009

Not with a bang but a whimper

This is how you lose liberty. If an FBI agent looks at a terrorist's library records or Larry Flint has to pay additional postage for child pornography over 12 ounces, there will be PBS specials and cover stories in the weeklies. And I'm fine with that, of course. If we want to establish an absolutist, zero-tolerance appreciation for our liberties, you can sign me up.

What chaps my hide is that these brave defenders are nowhere to be found when our First Amendment rights to political speech are threatened by McCain-Feingold, Second Amendment rights completely stripped by gun legislation, or our sacred Fifth Amendment right to contract is decimated by a do-gooder Congress. The WSJ Ed Page has an important piece today discussing "cramdowns" or allowing bankruptcy judges to change the terms of mortgage contracts. On one hand, this is a very bad idea:

[Sixteen House Democrats who opposed a similar bill] realized that the consequences would fall hardest on those hoping to buy a home, if markets logically respond by setting mortgage interest rates closer to those on, for example, auto loans or credit cards. A bankruptcy judge is now free to reduce amounts owed on many types of consumer debt. For mortgages, the iron-clad requirement to pay off the loan or lose the house is precisely to encourage lower rates on a less risky investment.

Defending the right to contract has a bad history because it was an effective legal defense of slavery and its use in Lochner v. New York preventing labor ordinances. But we didn't stop using airplanes because of 9/11. It is not only a fundamental right, it is also the foundation of our innovation and prosperity.

The incoming class will happily shred (I'm auditioning for a Kos slot) this right for cheap political gain. Not many people will pay attention. But, pretty soon, when you have to be a "Friend of Angelo" to get a loan, we will find that a key instrument that allowed us to live a free life (cf. Martini in "It's a Wonderful Life") is gone.

But T. Greer thinks:

I sympathize entirely. This is always my problem with the ACLU- I really, really try to like them, but I can never get over their selectivity in protecting American liberties.

~T. Greer, hopin' for a bang.

Posted by: T. Greer at January 13, 2009 12:15 PM

Change I Can Believe In

A good friend of ThreeSources sends a link to a Newsweek article. Referring to my post yesterday, alert reader sez "This is how he gets away with it. Guys that have been calling Bush and Cheney evil for seven years are now doing some sort of Orwellian two step providing fig leaves for the Changer in Chief." [Yes, I've tried to sign up his- or her-pithiness as a blogger for some time...]

It's not like when Bush and Cheney were doing it, kids, the new administration understands:

Obama, who has been receiving intelligence briefings for weeks, already knows what a scary world it is out there. It is unlikely he will wildly overcorrect for the Bush administration's abuses. A very senior incoming official, who refused to be quoted discussing internal policy debates, indicated that the new administration will try to find a middle road that will protect civil liberties without leaving the nation defenseless. But Obama's team has some strong critics of the old order, including his choice for director of the CIA, Leon Panetta, who has spoken out strongly against coercive interrogation methods.

I love that a senior administration official did not want to be quoted saying that they would balance civil liberties without leaving the nation "defenseless." Wow, who'd've thought there was a middle ground? These guys really are smart.

Read the whole thing if you dare. It's loaded with Newsweek-smug-smirk. And yet, they are praising the new Administration for continuing the same policies that they have called evil for five years.

The flaw of the Bush-Cheney administration may have been less in what it did than in the way it did it—flaunting executive power, ignoring Congress, showing scorn for anyone who waved the banner of civil liberties. Arguably, there has been an overreaction to the alleged arrogance and heedlessness of Bush and Cheney—especially Cheney, who almost seemed to take a grim satisfaction in his Darth Vader-esque image.

In other words, the Vice President did what he thought was correct without kowtowing to the editorial board of Newsweek. The new administration is to be applauded for doing the same thing but adding the requisite hand-wringing.

But Boulder Refugee thinks:

And this is why history will judge Bush more kindly. After the venom wears off and years of therapy cures Bush Derangement Syndrome, cooler minds will say, "It wasn't all that bad."

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at January 12, 2009 1:08 PM

January 11, 2009

The Word You're Looking for is 'Duh!'

I guess I am glad the President-elect Obama is backtracking on his vow to close Gitmo. But this seems a bit brazen:

"It is more difficult than I think a lot of people realize," the President-elect explained. "Part of the challenge that you have is that you have a bunch of folks that have been detained, many of whom who may be very dangerous who have not been put on trial or have not gone through some adjudication. And some of the evidence against them may be tainted even though it's true.

It's not more difficult that I realized, Mister President-elect. And I don't think I am particularly alone. Yet when people questioned you on this in the campaign, I don't remember your sharing their concern.

A good lefty friend celebrates that he is showing himself more pragmatic than dogmatic and I suppose I should share that. It is disheartening, however, that he was allowed to fulminate against the evil BushMcCainMonster about the evils of Gitmo without ever being questioned about what he would do with the current occupants (or how he could tie McCain to Bush when McCain was on his side, but I digress).

Therefore, I proudly expose my partisan hackery by admitting that I am glad he is changing his mind -- just disappointed at how easily he is getting away with it. HACMA (Hope And Change My Ass) -- may it gain better traction than Deleterious Anthropogenic Warming of the Globe.


A Schooner Full of Hope & Change

I think we can look forward to the next administration for some clarification regarding proper green product labeling:

The January 8th issue InsideEPA.com's Daily News briefing highlight the many hurdles involved in establishing a national eco-labeling regime.

EPA and some key lawmakers are attempting to address the rising demand from consumers and retailers for eco-labeling as the popularity and awareness of “green” building materials and organic certified foods grows. EPA is poised to respond to recommendations to set up a voluntary program for pesticide labeling, as well as for its in-house Design for the Environment program to expand its labeling initiative to new chemical-intensive products. Additionally, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) is crafting legislation to establish an eco-labeling oversight panel.

Some of the potential hurdles for the EPA and the lawmakers highlighted by InsideEPA.com include:

Limited development of methodologies for measuring lifecycle impacts of products
Potential conflicts with current legal requirements
Whether there would be incentives to develop even “safer” products
If EPA and Congress will be able to stay ahead of the developments made by the private sector.
With so many interests in the mix, these challenges may seem insurmountable, but at least the dialogue has begun and action will (hopefully) follow soon.


Bad enough we have to live through terrorism, recession, and athletes using steroids -- how much longer can the government let us wonder if the green products we buy are really green?

Hat-tip: Instapundit


Review Corner

I won't have to give up the family-friendly animated genre after all. The pungent distaste remaining from my watching Pixar's WALL-E was wiped clean by 20th Century Fox's "Horton Hears a Who."

We've discussed the number of times you have to check your philosophy at the door to enjoy a major studio blockbuster movie these days. That is not required with "Horton." Perhaps it's the spirit of Ted Geisel shining through, or the Hollywood Censors were off the week this script was vetted, but I found the movie underscored my beliefs rather than contradicted them.

There is an awesome "tyranny of the majority" scene in which the pusillanimous city council asks the people whether they want the celebration to continue or follow the mayor's suggestion to prepare for potential calamity. "Bread and Circuses" win.

Meanwhile, in the other world, Horton sticks by his beliefs against a busybody, un-elected nanny-stater. Stand up and cheer!

Jonah Goldberg makes fun of Andrew Sullivan for "watching South Park for the politics" and I am not implying that the rest of the movie is not entertaining. The animation sparkles, and the voice talents of Jim Carrey and Steve Carell convey their large personalities into their characters. I don't know how many kids got the Dr. Kissinger reference, but I laughed out loud at many such grace notes.

Four and a half stars. Where I turned WALL-E off, we watched this one twice.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 12:46 PM | What do you think? [0]

January 10, 2009

Economic Stimulus Plan

I have a dream - that America's political economy will return to something akin to the late 19th century. Referring to the causes of the latest economic crisis, Yaron Brook and Don Watkins of the Ayn Rand Institute write in their editorial 'Stop Blaming Capitalism for Government Failures:'

None of this is consistent with capitalism. As the economic system that fully recognizes and protects individual rights, including the right to private property, capitalism means, in Ayn Rand’s words, “the abolition of any and all forms of government intervention in production and trade, the separation of State and Economics, in the same way and for the same reasons as the separation of Church and State.” Laissez-faire means laissez-faire: no welfare state entitlements, no Federal Reserve monetary manipulation, no regulatory bullying, no controls, no government interference in the economy. The government’s job under capitalism is single but crucial: to protect individual rights from violation by force or fraud.

America came closest to this system in the latter half of the nineteenth century. The result was an unprecedented explosion of wealth creation and consequent rise in the standard of living.

JK, like the respected Denver radio host Mike Rosen, constantly reminds us to practice the "politics of the possible." But why should it be impossible for a majority of voters to recognize that the big government policies Obama and company may enact just made the problem worse - and they will - and abandon him in droves for the 2012 GOP candidate? This is the "new Reagan" scenario that many have written about. But for this to happen there needs to be a GOP candidate who understands the capitalist ideal before he jumps into the hog wallow to compromise with collectivists. John McCain and George Bush (both of them) despite all their admirable traits, were not that candidate.

But jk thinks:

Wow, this Rosen fellow sounds very intelligent...

I share your enthusiasm for the economic policies between the Civil War and the Progressive Era. It was certainly tainted by Jim Crow but I find it easy to call them unrelated. Hayes was the right pick in 1876 and if Tilden had not forced the Compromise of '77 we could have had economic liberty and continued the Reconstruction.

Gene Healy points out that while we had the string of non-descript, "non-heroic" presidencies between Grant & McKinley, we surpassed Great Britain as an economic power.

On the Pragmatism side, jg, put me in with Rosen (I have not heard his show but I've read some of his newspaper columns and heard great reviews from my brother-in-law). I challenge you to look at a group with minimal selection bias and tell me that a majority would agree that welfare and social security should be terminated. I think you'll find it more matches Pew's famous nine-percent. (Again, no fair polling at the Objectivists of Weld County quarterly bake sale and skeet tourney.)

I could not disabuse a right-leaning relative yesterday of the belief that the USDA is only reason the big grocery stores don't sell rancid meat. I can't think of a group of workmates, family, musicians, or friends in which a majority prefers less government "safety-net" security.

I enjoyed the Brook-Watkins piece very much, and I'd be inclined to support a candidate who voiced such beliefs. But I'd be among the few. Rep Ron Paul was able to augment his libertarian followers with a good number of the rabid anti-war left. And he still lost. By a lot.

It's hard for you and me to believe and accept that our zeal for liberty does not enjoy an electoral majority, but it does not. You can write editorials for the Ayn Rand Institute and link and discuss them on ThreeSources. But you'll be a spectator at the next contest between the next McCain and the next Obama.

Posted by: jk at January 11, 2009 12:44 PM
But johngalt thinks:

... welfare and Social Security TERMINATED? JK, you are such a tease. Even I don't dream such things are possible in a single bound.

The idea I tried to explain, perhaps too obliquely, is that the 'ideal' of pure capitalism leads to unprecedented prosperity. Any baby steps in the direction toward more capitalism will make things better for all Americans.

As for the popularity of such market oriented changes to welfare and Social Security, even President Clinton had to sign the GOP bill that reformed the former ... and reforming the latter could be equally popular with the right plan. Perhaps as government operated private accounts with gains earned in private equity markets yet federally guaranteed never to decline in value?

If we're going to talk about bailouts anyway then lets consider one that actually provides some real personal financial security. (Tomorrow I'll deny I ever wrote this.)

Posted by: johngalt at January 13, 2009 3:11 PM
But jk thinks:

But-but-but-but-but-but-but-- you are making the pragmatists' case. I want to fight at the margins and get "as close as we can" to capitalism. For this I seem to be frequently derided as lesser-of-two-evilsism.

I was pulling my absolutism from your excerpt "Laissez-faire means laissez-faire: no welfare state entitlements, no Federal Reserve monetary manipulation, no regulatory bullying, no controls, no government interference in the economy" and from your reference to 19th Century pre-progressive, pre-New Deal policies.

A government risk subsidy is not a bad idea if you could make the right kind of trade. Who is this guy and what has he done to Brother Johngalt?

Posted by: jk at January 13, 2009 4:32 PM

January 9, 2009

Sad News

Attila @ PillageIdiot has decided to hang up his blogging shoes. He goes out with the self-deprecating humor I enjoyed:

I've enjoyed writing at Pillage Idiot, but four years is a long time, and I feel I've run out of things to say. Some might suggest I ran out of things to say over four years ago. Maybe they're right.

In addition, writing under a pseudonym turns out to be more stressful than I'd anticipated. It's sort of like being a spy, but without the glamor, without the money, and without the treason. On the other hand, if I'd used my real name, people would have known I was a total idiot instead of merely suspecting it.


He'll be missed!



Rantview Corner

Izzit a rant or a Review Corner? I type, you decide.

I love animation and have a soft spot for children's films. I have a Disney shelf of DVDs that looks much like the parents' of a couple toddlers -- except mine are not covered with peanut butter "Honey! You got brie and bojolais on 'Mulan' again!" The Pixar flicks have dazzled me. I have to put 'Toy Story' on top because of Joss Whedon, but I have liked them all well enough. 'Cars' was a triumph of computer animation and they have walked a nice line of making the plotlines and dialog kid-friendly yet entertaining for (soi disant) grownups.

Yes, Disney films all have a bias against business and commerce (except 'Meet the Robinsons.') I have considered that the price of admission and can usually dismiss it with a few eye rolls. But I finally got 'WALL-E' from Netflix and excitedly clicked it on last night. Maybe somebody can tell me how it ends because I turned it off in disgust 52 minutes in.

I hate to pan a movie I did not watch all the way through but my wife changed it over to Martin Scorsese's blues-concert documentary "Lightning in a Bottle" (3.5 stars and did I marry the right person or what?)

WALL-E, the trash compacting robot has been left on earth because we ruined the Earth with too much trash -- if only we had followed King County's lead for mandatory recycling! What is left of earth's population is travelling on a spaceship waiting for plant life to be rediscovered. They live in hovercraft-barcaloungers surrounded with servant robots, ubiquitous TV screens and (better cover the children's ears) all kinds of shopping and malls, all brought to you by B-L, the Big-and-Large Corporation whose CEO has a Presidential Seal. With no gravity and no work required, they have all become morbidly obese. The sum total is a dystopia of radical Malthusianism that would be discarded as too ludicrous if offered in a serious vehicle. But for indoctrinating the kiddies against the evils of innovation and commerce it's fine.

If you did not guess, zero freakin' stars. Sorry this review is too late to perhaps save some readers. It has been out long enough, I am likely the last one disappointed with it. There is a really nice acoustic sequence with Buddy Guy -- oh wait, that's in the other movie.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 11:11 AM | What do you think? [6]
But AlexC thinks:

I wish I had reviewed it when I saw it in theatres. I went because Lileks thought highly of it.

Even my five year old thought it was dumb.

Looked good, but jeez... a little heavy handed.

Posted by: AlexC at January 9, 2009 11:55 AM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

The Refugee can't help here. He fell asleep after about 45 minutes - thought it started out slow and went nowhere.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at January 9, 2009 12:22 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

Once again, I am in the minority: I liked it.

Perhaps we just read different things into it. I found the idea of a trash covered world too fanciful to merit criticism- it was nothing more than a plot device to get humanity off Earth and into Space.

If we are really are to force political metaphors onto the movie, I will go ahead and state that WALL-E contained one of the best depictions of Tocqueville's soft depostism I have seen on film. That, added with a lesson on the evils of mixing market awith state and a good ol' endorsement of the "Hello Dolly" lifestyle leaves this commentator with little to begrudge the movie.

~T. Greer, Pixar fan.

Posted by: T. Greer at January 12, 2009 12:49 AM
But jk thinks:

Actually, tg, I was hoping somebody would stick up for the movie (I am quite the Pixar fan myself). I wish I had not sent it back to Netflix; I'll give it another spin someday on your counsel. But if it ends with a lot of TR trust-busting nonsense, I'll be cross.

Posted by: jk at January 12, 2009 11:25 AM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

The Refugee made the mistake of buying a copy. He will be happy to lend it Blog Brother JK anytime. No reason to waste a Netflix shipment.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at January 12, 2009 6:35 PM
But jk thinks:

Heh. Good excuse for coffee.

Posted by: jk at January 12, 2009 6:41 PM

January 8, 2009

But jk thinks:

Must've been The Refugee, man. I didn't. I swear I didn't.

Posted by: jk at January 9, 2009 11:11 AM
But Keith thinks:

Somewhere, in an alternate universe, there's a headline reading "'Three Sources' tells Guardian Fred plans to have a 'chat' with Hamas"

The second paragraph of the article mentions that "chat" includes sending Jack Bauer to shoot them all in the thigh.

Posted by: Keith at January 9, 2009 11:46 AM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

The Refugee stands unjustly accused! But if he had told Israel to talk to Hamas, the suggested dialog would be unsuitable for print in this erudite publication. Something about firing those rockets where the sun don't shine.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at January 9, 2009 12:26 PM
But Keith thinks:

Refugee: I don't see how Hamas should have a problem with your suggestion. I mean, they're all into that "blowing themselves to pizza toppings" thing anyway. Whether they do it with a vest full of C-4 or a ballistic suppository shouldn't make that much of a difference to them, should it?

Posted by: Keith at January 9, 2009 1:32 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Ballistic suppository! Coming to a YouTube video soon...

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at January 9, 2009 2:18 PM
But Keith thinks:

Refugee: I have to give you credit for the inspiration. You wrote "... firing those rockets where the sun don't shine..." and suddenly all I could see was a guy sitting like Wile E. Coyote on the nose of an ACME missile launcher and lighting the fuse... with the expected result.

Posted by: Keith at January 9, 2009 2:58 PM

Media Elites vs Regular Joes

Always good to see the media elites lash out when regular joes (no pun intended) try to do reporting.

"How dare he! We went to journalism school!"

Joe the Plumber, whose pronouncements during the campaign established him as the most influential political pundit since Bart Simpson, plans to save journalism - from itself. London's Guardian says Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher is "dropping his unlicensed plunger and picking up a reporter's notebook" to cover the latest eruption of violence in the Gaza strip for conservative Web site pjtv.com. Joe the War Correspondent, who will immerse himself in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for 10 whole days, promises to report "without a politically correct filter." Joe, who became a mascot for John McCain's campaign when he challenged Barack Obama's economic plan, tells NBC News he will try to explain Israel's reason for the offensive against Hamas. "I get to go over there and let their 'average Joes' share their story, what they think, how they feel, especially with world opinion," he said. "It's very tragic," he said of the rising death toll. "But at the same time what are the Israeli people supposed to do?"

Thanks for the reporting Tirdad Derakhshani.

Paragraphs and carriage returns.

We could have used two or three of them.

He must have missed that day in J-school.

But jk thinks:

I see from the same link that:

Jennifer Garner and husband Ben Affleck, both 36, welcomed their second daughter on Tuesday, People mag reports. The baby, who was born in Los Angeles at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, has yet to be identified to the masses by name.

These are professional journalists, kids, don't try this at home!

Posted by: jk at January 8, 2009 6:13 PM

Queuing Up To Escape

If this doesn't sicken you, you're not paying attention.

While The Economist is not above a bit of schadenfruede/sneering at America, it remains a trustworthy source of facts and serious commentary. Instapundit links to "America's Berlin Wall" about Americans who are trying to renounce their citizenship to escape taxation:

QUEUES of frustrated foreigners crowd many an American consulate around the world hoping to get into the United States. Less noticed are the heavily taxed American expatriates wanting to get out--by renouncing their citizenship.

In Hong Kong just now, they cannot. "Please note that this office cannot accept renunciation applications at this time," the consulate's website states. Apart from sounding like East Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall, the closure is unfortunately timed. Because of pending legislation on President Bush's desk that is expected to become law by June 16th, any American who wants to surrender his passport has only a few days to do so before facing an enormous penalty.


The article claims "It places Americans in the awkward position of weighing their patriotism against their vocation." I consider myself a patriot of the first order but I'd consider "queing up" myself were I living outside the country and forced to pay for current policy -- hell, I'm thinking about it if I stay!

I just had a first reverse-Michelle-Obama moment reading this. I think it was the first time I was ashamed of my country.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:36 PM | What do you think? [2]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

It's completely ludicrous to talk about this in a "patriotism" context. These people are no less patriotic than anyone else. Why should we think they love their country less, just because they're foreswearing allegiance to the government? That's all "citizenship" means: which government has authority over you.

The country is not the government. These people will probably still love the United States of America from which they came. They just hate its ruling class that seize their property, and unfortunately they must exile themselves to exercise their God-given rights to something better.

I've been ashamed of my government for all my adult life, once I realized what it did and does. I'm not ashamed of my "country" per se, but of the kind of people who call themselves "good Americans" and render that term meaningless. Nixon supposedly said in 1992, after ranting about "I was trying to stop the god damn war" while Clinton was in Moscow, something like, "If [Clinton] is elected, I'll know this country's gone to hell." Of all the people, huh? Nixon couldn't have envisioned that the American people would elect someone worse.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at January 8, 2009 3:50 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Remember the old bumper sticker slogan, "America - Love it or Leave it." Now it's angry white guys who are on the receiving end of that sentiment due to our griping about what's happening to this country.

But then this reminds me of the bumper sticker a liberal friend used to display: "Subvert the dominant paradigm." Hey, where can I get one of those today!

Today's dominant paradigm:

When private companies fail, make them government agencies where their performance can be celebrated.

When government policies cause economic failures, expand them - but FAST.

When America's allies act to protect themselves from terror attacks, tell them to stop. To show the rectitude of this tactic stop protecting Americans from terror attacks. Step 1 - Appoint Leon Panetta to head CIA.

When politicans are caught on tape discussing the sale of a political appointment for cash or other goodies, arrest and indict ALL of them. (Except the black ones or their chiefs of staff.)

I could go on and on...

Posted by: johngalt at January 9, 2009 3:39 PM

January 7, 2009

And How Was Your Day?

Blog friend Terri is hobnobbing with the President.

Nice to know somebody who knows somebody.

Posted by John Kranz at 3:58 PM | What do you think? [0]

Viva la Revolucion!

Things have really loosened up since Raul Castro came into power. He famously made cell phones legal -- imagine that! Of course, they're not really affordable:

Tatiana González stood transfixed before the glass display case watching a single cellphone spin around and around on a carousel at the government-run store. It was a Nokia 1112, a simple, boxy gray workhorse of mobile telecommunications technology--and González was in love.

She coveted that phone. She confessed she had dreamed of that phone. But she would have to wait just a little longer before she could cradle it to her ear. How much longer? "I hope a year, no more," said González, who toils as a manager of medical records in a hospital, earning $21.44 a month.


Tatiana (is that not the prettiest name?) has the satisfaction of providing that great health care that Michael Moore raves about -- I'm sure that's consoling. And the famed Cuban literacy rates come in to play too as lucky cell phone owners text to avoid 65 cents a minute charges on voice. Tatiana will be able to buy 33 minutes of local service with her month's salary or three-and-a-half minutes to Europe!

Yet the incoming administration still claims that free-market capitalism has been discredited.

Rules & citations & recursive hat-tips: the excerpt is from the Washington Post, it is included in a Reason Hit&Run post (linked) and was linked by Instapundit. Got it? Good.


Cuba Posted by John Kranz at 11:28 AM | What do you think? [0]

New Mac Feature

AlexC's wife is currently in line at the Apple Store to get her husband one for their anniversary:





One very cool thing on the TiVo is that you can subscribe to internet videos. When a new Onion TV video comes out, I get it on my list of recorded programs. I'm trying to talk them into doing it with reason.tv...


But AlexC thinks:

hahahahaha!!

and i was going to say.....

"if you're tiny laptop were a few inches smaller, it would be like my phone.

... but i could still make calls on it."

Posted by: AlexC at January 7, 2009 3:06 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"I'll buy almost anything as long as its shiny and made by Apple." - Alex Zalbin

Apple is now part of the dominant paradigm.

Posted by: johngalt at January 9, 2009 3:50 PM

January 6, 2009

Love the Domain Name!

jkontherun.com a mobile computing site.

Posted by John Kranz at 2:58 PM | What do you think? [0]

Keep it small

The guy with an 8.9" laptop finds Arnold Kling's suggestion pretty captivating. Instapundit linked as "Meanwhile, Arnold Kling is against the stimulus bill" which got me thinking of Taranto's "bottom stories of the day" feature. But when you click through -- as a big Kling fan like me must -- it is more nuanced than advertised. Kling explains his preferences for a non-ginormous stimulus:

The case for a large stimulus appears to be based on the notion that small stimulus might fail completely, while large stimulus might succeed. This might be true if there are increasing returns to fiscal stimulus or there are threshold effects of fiscal stimulus. I think it is fair to say that the case for increasing returns or threshold effects is not well established either theoretically or empirically.

Short post with several great points. Insty puts it in the context of Republicans' being dragged in with tax cuts. Most know they can't kill it. Keeping it small would be a good opposition plan.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:14 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

"...small stimulus might fail completely, while large stimulus might succeed." Might.

How large does it need to be to 'maybe' succeed? Let's consult RAH for guidance:

"If you pray hard enough, you can make water run uphill. How hard? Why, hard enough to make water run uphill, of course." - Robert A. Heinlein

If Oh-Bama's stimulus package doesn't work he'll just have to do another - larger - one until it does. Eventually he'll work it out. Or the US Treasury will run out of ink.

Posted by: johngalt at January 9, 2009 4:19 PM

Welcome 1-1-1

Don Luskin offers a dark look at the incoming 111th Congress on its first day from his D.C. Friend "Mick Danger:"

The legal authority for the Nevadan to say no? Burris suffers from a contagious disease well-known to every grade school child.

Meanwhile, Al Franken was "certified" in a process where the only certainty is that those counting the ballots are accused of fixing the outcome before it's finished reviewing ballots from all of Minnesota's counties.

So, you can't get into the Senate if you have cooties but you should get in the Senate if an obviously suspect, incomplete process which is still under litigation "certifies" you.


It doesn't get much nicer when he looks at the House side. But I don't want to spoil it.

I'm a little more hope-infused than Luskin or his correspondent. But the seating of Senator-elect Franken is deeply disturbing. Minnesota is known for clean elections and fair play. I was a lot less surprised when Christine Gregoire stole the Washington Gubernatorial race (the first time -- incumbency took care of her the second) but expected better things from the guys with the lakes who talk funny.



January 5, 2009

Soon As You Get a 9" Laptop

Some blogger will say he has a 10".

I hate to miss a chance for a bad joke and have been wanting to mention my christmas present: an Acer Aspire One, in Sapphire Blue. Somebody mentioned feline sleepware -- I really like this thing. I have not seen the Asus machines that started the genre but this one has a very substantive, quality feel. I had to get the XP one for work purposes but I would have opted for Linux otherwise, which gives you a really cool laptop for $350.

I cannot carry a conventional laptop but this one is easy for trips to the coffee shop (mmm coffee...) or just catching up on work or blogs from another room.

Thanks, honey!

Technology Posted by John Kranz at 7:45 PM | What do you think? [0]

In the lap of Big Corn

Instapundit links to a Popular Science post discussing "If You Dropped a Corn Kernel From Space, Would it Pop During Re-Entry?" I love that the page has banner ads for popcorn from shopping.com.

I'm sensing a cabal...Professor Reynolds, Senator Grassley, some guy named Orville....


Mon Dieu!

Not a very Happy New Year for French auto insurers:

The French Interior Ministry has increased its provisional count of the number of cars torched over New Year's Eve from 445 to 1,147.

Hat-tip: Pillage Idiot, who mentions "land of brie, wine, and car torchings. I omitted "body odor," because that's understood." I guess the Sarkozy spirit of Hope and Change hasn't made it to Baltimore.

But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Hmmm... Could this be the start of Detroit's new initiative to stimulate demand?

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at January 5, 2009 6:38 PM
But Keith thinks:

Boulder Refugee: what's this, a conspiracy theory? I think this can be logically disproven in four simple steps:

(1) Detroit's "Increasingly Smaller Three" don't have the gumption to fire up the Car-B-Q in order to increase demand, and frankly, aren't in the business of meeting consumer demand - otherwise, they'd build cars people would actually buy;
(2) The UAW, being a union, have the thugs and muscle to pull this off, and the cojones to try it - but since union auto workers aren't required to actually produce cars in order to retain their employment, they lack motive;
(3) The notion of the automakers and the UAW to cooperate with each other in order to conspire to do this as a team defies the imagination. Work together? Feh.
(4) Even if you were to serve up every Citroen and Renault in France as a flaming Crepe Suzette, you don't think the French would actually buy Chryslers to replace them, do you?

Did you ever think we'd find a way to bash both the French and the automakers in a single-subject post? This is a cause for celebration.

Posted by: Keith at January 5, 2009 11:47 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Touche'!

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at January 6, 2009 10:54 AM

Protectionism Works Great in a Downturn

The idea that we learned any lessons from the 1930s shows zero empirical proof. I guess tight money is not too likely, but the new administration is ready to bring back the WPA and Smoot-Hawley. Reuters:

WASHINGTON, Jan 2 (Reuters) - Both President-elect Barack Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden will huddle with Democratic and Republican congressional leaders on Monday to try to advance a huge economic stimulus bill that Obama hopes can be enacted quickly, despite Republican reservations.

Obama's transition team said it is mulling "buy American" provisions for the stimulus package that could favor U.S. companies over foreign competitors.


Bottled water and ammunition, kids. Bottled water and ammunition.

Hat-tip: Professor Makiw

But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Einstein's reputed definition of insanity...

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at January 5, 2009 1:44 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

I think it was actually Benjamin Franklin who said, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results."

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at January 5, 2009 2:36 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Many modern sayings are falsely attributed to various historical figures, hence why I said "reputed" when invoking Einstein. I've never heard this quote attributed to Franklin, who's credited with but didn't actually say or write, "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb deciding on lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote!" That particular one always pisses me off, and I've even called onto the carpet a certain Pepperdine prof who should have known better. In the end, he admitted he didn't really know where it came from.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at January 7, 2009 4:01 PM
But jk thinks:

When in doubt, always attribute Mark Twain or Samuel Johnson.

My favorite on this is "If you're not a liberal when you;re 20, you have no heart; if you're not a conservative when you're 50 you have no brain." I've seen that attributed to several, as early as William Blake.

Posted by: jk at January 7, 2009 5:44 PM

January 4, 2009

Obama's Silence

Hamas vs Israel?

Silence.

"The president-elect is closely monitoring global events, including the situation in Gaza," his national security spokeswoman Brooke Anderson said in a statement after the ground assault got underway.

But she offered no further comment on the violence in Gaza and used a phrase repeated often by Obama and his aides: "There is one president at a time and we intend to respect that."

Senior advisor David Axelrod said Sunday that Obama is "committed" to achieving peace in the Middle East, in the only extended comments from the president-elect's team so far.

"Obviously, this situation has become even more complicated in the last couple of days and weeks... But it's something that he's committed to," Axelrod told CBS television.


That's really going out on a limb there. Really.

Naturally, some are upset.

"The start is not good," said Khaled Meshaal, leader of the Hamas Islamist movement that has ruled Gaza since June 2007.

"You commented on Mumbai but you say nothing about the crime of the enemy (Israel). This policy of double standards should stop."


I have criticized the President-Elect on this in the past.

But to be fair, it really is above his paygrade.

But Bitter American thinks:

Apparently, he can create the "Office of the President Elect" and pad his cabinet with every Clinton retraed he can find (Panetta for CIA? WTF?) But even the Obamistake cannot create spine for himself.

I knew he'd disappoint every liberal Jew in America that ignored his anti-Israel stance.

Posted by: Bitter American at January 6, 2009 11:05 PM

HuffPo DAWG Denyer

You can't believe everything you read from the partisan hacks at Huffington Post. In their mad dash to discredit President Bush and accelerate the acceptance of collectivism, they'll say just about... Oh. Wait a minute.

Harold Ambler claims that a certain ex-VPOTUS owes us an apology;

Mr. Gore has stated, regarding climate change, that "the science is in." Well, he is absolutely right about that, except for one tiny thing. It is the biggest whopper ever sold to the public in the history of humankind [emphasis in original].

Ambler, who has a book coming out "Apology Accepted," presents -- to the Huffington faithful -- a serious and comprehensive refutation of the conventional wisdom on climate change.

Brother AC is right: this might be a very good year after all.

UPDATE Link fixed, should've hat-tipped Insty

But johngalt thinks:

And yet, when I suggested that every American politician be put on record as a champion or a "denier" of "the biggest whopper ever sold to the public in the history of humankind" I was called over confident.

(I look forward to reading the linked Ambler post - shortly after the broken link is fixed.)

And yet I must still quibble with this characterization of the Global Warming swindle: A bigger whopper is that Social Security will forever provide a dependable retirement "safety net" for every American.

Posted by: johngalt at January 4, 2009 1:03 PM

Happy New Year.

Maybe it's just me, but I've noticed a dearth of Happy New Years wishes so far in 2009.

Shouldn't we be all full of hope and change?

... and optimistic?

A new era?

Dawning of the age of aquarius or something?

Or have we just buckled down for the worst year evah (tm)?


January 3, 2009

Hooked on Chrome

The browser wars seem so 1990's, I just haven't been interested in playing. In any case, my work has me effectively chained to Internet Explorer. I'm used to it and roll my eyes when associates whine for Mozilla 3.2.1.5 support. I came up in the UNIX world and am used to people's having particular tastes in tech.

Not sure what prompted me to try the Google® only-slightly-evil Chrome browser this morning. But holy-crimin'-Eddy, this thing is fast. I've been trying to objectively compare my new 7Mb dedicated pipe to my old shared 8Mb. Faster, slower, can I tell? Then I switch to Chrome and it is like being plugged directly into the server. It imported all my IE bookmarks, preferences and even passwords. As I type this, I even get spell-check right in the text box.

Sweet. Here's a link in case I am not the last guy who has tried it.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 1:50 PM | What do you think? [5]
But AlexC thinks:

Spell checking in a text box?

2003 called, it wants it's feature back.

Posted by: AlexC at January 3, 2009 10:33 PM
But jk thinks:

New folks around here may not know that AlexC and I are actually the "I'm a Mac, I'm a PC" characters you see on TV.

Posted by: jk at January 4, 2009 11:54 AM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

This is the cat's pajamas, JK. It even fails elegantly when I fat-finger a comment-post rather than simply losing everything as MS Exploder did.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at January 5, 2009 2:41 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Update: Adobe Flash presently does not have plug-ins for Chrome. Apparently, the cat has just a small nightie and no pajamas.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at January 5, 2009 5:38 PM
But jk thinks:

A good part of me suggests that this is one of the reasons for Chrome's performance. Blog sites are using a lot of active script to defeat pop-up blockers and hijack the user experience. I started visit Hugh Hewitt and NRO only on special occasions (Rep. Tom Tancredo's Birthday, National Heterosexual Awareness Day, &c.) because they took over my browser. Chrome opens them all instantly.

Posted by: jk at January 5, 2009 6:09 PM

January 2, 2009

Headline of the Day

Conservatives look to Flake to rescue GOP

Once considered almost a novelty for his relentless one-man attack on House GOP spending practices and push for Cuba policy reform, many conservatives now are looking to the five-term congressman for guidance in rehabilitating the tarnished Republican brand.


They are looking in the right place. Anybody have a Republican they like better than Rep. Jeff Flake (R - AZ)?

Hat-tip: Club for Growth

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 6:37 PM | What do you think? [0]

Constitutional Conservatism

Peter Berkowitz has a guest editorial in the WSJ today, actually a synopsis of a longer article forthcoming in Policy Review. He echoes a lot of points I hold about a pragmatic call to return principles without discarding Meyers's Fusionism:

But the purists in both camps ignore simple electoral math. Slice and dice citizens' opinions and voting patterns in the 50 states as you like, neither social conservatives nor libertarian conservatives can get to 50% plus one without the aid of the other.

Yet they, and the national security hawks who are also crucial to conservative electoral hopes, do not merely form a coalition of convenience. Theirs can and should be a coalition of principle, and a constitutional conservatism provides the surest ones.

The principles are familiar: individual freedom and individual responsibility, limited but energetic government, economic opportunity and strong national defense. They are embedded in the Constitution and flow out of the political ideas from which it was fashioned. They were central to Frank Meyer's celebrated fusion of traditionalist and libertarian conservatism in the 1960s. And they inspired Ronald Reagan's consolidation of conservatism in the 1980s.


Berkowitz suggests that both social conservatives and libertarians can coalesce around the Constitution. Amen to that. Where GOP legislators and the Bush administration have "wandered off the reservation" were instances where they moved away from Constitutional principles.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 11:59 AM | What do you think? [0]

This Is About Dialog, so Shut Up!

P.J. O'Rourke once expressed skepticism about protesters. He said "You don't see Republicans marching down Wall Street every time they raise the capital gains tax." You can count me among the unbelievers.

I admire Gandhi and Martin Luther King's marches because those people were disenfranchised. They did not have recourse at the ballot box and I don't expect that writing a letter to the editor was too convenient. Even the 60s dirty hippies anti-war protesters had a valid point that they were old enough for conscription, but not old enough to vote. But the marchers of today represent a feel-good party. Fight the power! And meet chicks!

Personal opinion of course. I have friends and relatives who think it is important and efficacious enough to participate. I have suggested to each that they'd be better off earning some money for a candidate that shares their views or writing a letter to the editor.

A student uprising at the New School in New York City called for the resignation of university president Bob Kerry, the former Democratic Senator from Nebraska and Vietnam War hero. The NYTimes reports that when he emerged from his office, the peace-lovers chased the prosthetic-leg wearing Kerry down the street. Pretty classy.

Marcus Michelson, also a graduate student in philosophy, said the sit-in was meant to show that the students were serious about having a seat at the negotiating able. “This is about starting a dialogue, and to do that you have to be seen as an equal,” he said. “People just don’t give equality, you have to take it.”

These people have a pretty funny idea of dialog.

Hat-tip: Insty

Posted by John Kranz at 11:24 AM | What do you think? [0]

January 1, 2009

Happy Castroversary

Yesterday was 50 years. The NYTimes commemorates with a sobering account. It begins with a woman who fled 14 years ago awaiting DNA testing to see if a decomposed, shark-eaten body pulled out of the ocean near the Keys is the son she left behind.

Fifty years ago today, many Cubans cheered when Fidel Castro seized power in Havana, and even now, the revolution attracts many fans — as evidenced by the Canadian tour agencies advertising trips “to celebrate five decades of resilience.”

But the bodies speak to a different legacy.


The son who stayed behind spoke multiple languages and tried to influence Cuba from within as a journalist -- until he was fired and targeted.
Mr. Garcia’s relatives said that on the night of Aug. 15, he climbed aboard a boat with no motor and seven or eight other people, pushing off from an area near Havana with hopes of reaching Florida within a few days.

The pace mattered; the sea was churning. By early Monday morning, Tropical Storm Fay had moved through Cuba into the Florida Straits, bringing nearly a foot of rain, swells of several feet and winds that would strengthen to 60 miles per hour.

Ms. Garcia, 64, a home health aide, said she was not sure if her son had known the storm was coming. Even if he had, she said, “he was desperate and needed to go.”

She said her son had done all he could to change Cuba from the inside. “How can Cubans confront the government, with rocks and sticks?” Ms. Garcia said. “Everyone has nothing, and the people are afraid.”


As my interest in weather has piqued of late, I have spent too much time (any non-zero amount) looking at local TV news. You can put me down as extremely tired of the defeatism and hopelessness surrounding "this economy" and "these tough times." I'm sorry your 401K has lost value and feel for those who have lost work. But if you woke up this New Year's Day as a free citizen in America, I really don't want to hear a lot of bellyaching.

Hat-tip: Instapundit

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

Happy New Year

A great 2009 year of hope and change to all ThreeSourcers.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:56 PM | What do you think? [1]
But Cyrano thinks:

Don't click this. Comments (2)