February 28, 2009


In a recently indulged comment by blog brother Keith he shared a recent Sunday Sermon entitled 'Obama is a Ruler of Biblical Dimensions!' The story of Pharaoh's Egypt is an excellent analogy to current events. But why are so many Americans, citizens of the greatest nation on earth, prepared to repeat this act of self-enslavement? I can best answer that with a sermon on 'Man's Rights' by Ayn Rand.

How many times have you heard it said that "health care is a right" or that "every American has a right to a decent job with a living wage?" Just last week an ACORN spokesman said that "housing is a right." [5:50] Those who hold these beliefs are willing to trade their political rights, or liberty, for economic "rights" - and expect the rest of us to do the same. Ayn Rand saw this in April of 1963:

Such is the state of one of today’s most crucial issues: political rights versus “economic rights.” It’s either-or. One destroys the other. But there are, in fact, no “economic rights,” no “collective rights,” no “public-interest rights.” The term “individual rights” is a redundancy: there is no other kind of rights and no one else to possess them.

But where did these ideas come from in modern America? According to Rand, first with FDR and then institutionalized in the Democratic Party Platform of 1960. (Click 'continue reading' to see the list.) Then she explains, "A single question added to each of the above eight clauses would make the issue clear: At whose expense?"

America has been "progressing" toward this point for my entire life. Since the "baby boom" generation American children have been raised with this altruist-collectivist ethic. Said Rand:

America’s inner contradiction was the altruist-collectivist ethics. Altruism is incompatible with freedom, with capitalism and with individual rights. One cannot combine the pursuit of happiness with the moral status of a sacrificial animal.

It was the concept of individual rights that had given birth to a free society. It was with the destruction of individual rights that the destruction of freedom had to begin.

Don't think America's founders were blind to this possibility.

The government was set to protect man from criminals—and the Constitution was written to protect man from the government. The Bill of Rights was not directed against private citizens, but against the government—as an explicit declaration that individual rights supersede any public or social power.

But this reliance upon rights to protect man from government was able to be undermined by dispute over the origin of those rights. And this is where I depart from brother Keith - when it comes to his closing prayer.

The concept of individual rights is so new in human history that most men have not grasped it fully to this day. In accordance with the two theories of ethics, the mystical or the social, some men assert that rights are a gift of God—others, that rights are a gift of society. But, in fact, the source of rights is man’s nature.

So those who believe rights are bestowed on man by his society have merely to deny the existence of God to disarm those who hold the opposing theory. Until Americans learn the true nature of rights - individual right to life and property as a birthright and a natural consequence of the nature of his being - our civil order will always be threatened by the specter of tyranny.

“The source of man’s rights is not divine law or congressional law, but the law of identity. A is A—and Man is Man. Rights are conditions of existence required by man’s nature for his proper survival. If man is to live on earth, it is right for him to use his mind, it is right to act on his own free judgment, it is right to work for his values and to keep the product of his work. If life on earth is his purpose, he has a right to live as a rational being: nature forbids him the irrational.” (Atlas Shrugged)
Bear clearly in mind the meaning of the concept of “rights” when you read the list which the platform offers:

“1. The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation.

“2. The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation.

“3. The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living.

“4. The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home and abroad.

“5. The right of every family to a decent home.

“6. The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health.

“7. The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accidents and unemployment.

“8. The right to a good education.”

A single question added to each of the above eight clauses would make the issue clear: At whose expense?

But Keith thinks:

And isn't it amazing that ThreeSources allows this exchange of viewpoints without the need for a federally-imposed Fairness Doctrine?

I have always been a great admirer of Rand, having discovered her early in life. I was introduced to her in the seventh grade with "Anthem," and recognized immediately that she "gets it" in ways that no one else did. That being said, now being just short of forty years distant from my discovery of Rand, I've grown into an amazement that she could come to her views without theism.

You were all pleasantly surprised when I identified myself as a pastor who agreed in large part with Rand. But that should come as no surprise; short of her views of the existence of God, Rand's Objectivism in practice is very consistent with genuine Biblical Christianity - in practice.

I am right there with Rand and JG, right up until the quoted paragraph that starts with "The concept of individual rights is no new..." I'd propose that individual rights and responsibilities go all the way back to Creation. That paragraph states that there had been two schools of thought on man's rights: the mystical (that rights originate as a quality from the transcendent Divine) and the social (that rights originate from the collective or the State). She proposes a third: that rights derive from man's intrinsic nature. Yes, I'm fine with that, but she needs to explain that. How did Man get to be Man with those rights, and animals, which must have evolved from the same primordial goo, not?

I would give serious consideration to Samuel Rutherford's "Lex Rex," which is the foundation in Western thought for individual rights and the rule of law. Locke drew very heavily from Rutherford, and I daresay the American Revolution, without Rutherford's influence, would have taken a very different form.

At the risk of running afoul of the automated comment police again, I'd recommend this think for a more full discussion of the Biblical role of government:


Posted by: Keith at March 1, 2009 11:35 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Keith: The problem with excerpting Rand is it's easy to leave out important points. First a clarification, however: I'm confident Rand agreed with your assertion that "individual rights and responsibilities go all the way back to Creation." Rand's point was that this concept is new.

Rand's next paragraph gives the explanation you seek:

The Declaration of Independence stated that men "are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights." Whether one believes that man is the product of a Creator or of nature, the issue of man's origin does not alter the fact that he is an entity of a specific kind - a rational being - that he cannot function successfully under coercion, and that rights are a necessary condition of his particular mode of survival.

The difference between man and animals is that, regardless of the dispute over their origins, man IS rational and animals are NOT.

As for your equation of Objectivism and "genuine Biblical Christianity" - "in practice" I will ask you this: Does altruism have any place in "genuine" Biblical Christianity? For this is where modern Christianity breaks down, in practice.

Posted by: johngalt at March 1, 2009 12:58 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

JG, quick question for you (or any Objectivist reading):

If rationality is the determinate of individual rights, what do you with the externalities? Does the mentally insane, the comatose, or the newborn babe have rights? Indeed, many an animal-rights activist has used these examples of these reasonless humans to claim that all vertebrates should receive rights equal to those recognized in humankind. Do you have a response to such arguments?

Posted by: T. Greer at March 1, 2009 5:00 PM
But Keith thinks:

JG: I'm still with you on that - and forgive me if I try to choose my words carefully; I try to never forget that when I'm at ThreeSources, I'm a guest in the house of people I respect, where I try to abide by their rules and not give offense (though I confess with a twinkle in my eye that I have tested that a little). I know that in matters of religion, it's not the theme of this blog, and if my hosts were to say "we're not going there," I'd shut up on the subject. Your house, your rules.

Most followers of Rand I've talked with focus on her firm atheism in these matters, which is why I've raised the hackles of some of my peers by citing Rand. But I've always read Rand's criticisms of religion in terms of her opposition to the dominant liberal Church in America - that of what we often call "mainline Protestantism" within Christian circles. By this we mean the modernist school typified by Harry Emerson Fosdick and leading through the twentieth century with the social-gospel movement, ultimately to the post-moderns and the Emerging/Emergent Church Movement of people like Brian McLaren, Tony Campolo, and Rob Bell in our decade. This stream tends to be on the left side of American politics, with the sense that the purpose of the Gospel is to cure injustices in this life, redistribute wealth, direct government to solve people's problems, and manufacture Heaven on Earth.

I know I risk making your eyes glaze over. To make things easier, here are some parallels: in my theological circle, we see people like Machen, Spurgeon, Schaeffer and Mohler exactly the way you see Hayek, von Mises, Friedman and Rand. We see the theological liberals the same way you see Keynesians. It's not a perfect parallel, but it gives you a frame of reference.

Most people I've known who have read Rand thought she simply lumped all religionists together, but I've never been completely sold on that. She had no patience with the American mainstream left, which had already in her day become collectivist and statist (think Jimmy Carter here and imagine the comtempt she would have had for him).

By "genuine Biblical Christianity" (and I realize you don't mean the quote marks derisively), I'll use a better label: substitute here "Reformed theology" with its reliance on the five solas, and here I deliberately mean sola Scriptura. To answer your question, altruism as Rand used it - an ingrained obligation to act to one's own detriment to the betterment of another - has very little place in Reformed theology. I could cite numerous references in which this stream within Christianity puts massive emphasis on the individual, almost to the point of "rugged individualism;" duty to self primary over duty to others; and even emphasis on competition and individual excellence.

I'll end with this, rather than hijack the thread: within the Reformed mindset, charitable giving is always voluntary, and never viewed in the sense of an obligation one owes to the collective or one's fellow man. Rather, it is an act of undeserved and unmerited grace toward the recipient, with an eye toward making the recipient responsible for his condition going forward. The early Church, operating as a community-within-a-community of voluntary cooperation and mutual benefit, probably resembled Galt's Gulch as much as any other example one might name, without separating itself from the rest of surrounding society.

On that note, I'll stop, and await any guidance on where we might go with this, as well as the answer to T. Greer's intriguing question. Thanks for your patience, all -

Posted by: Keith at March 1, 2009 6:42 PM
But jk thinks:

Good stuff, gentlemen.

Quick point of order -- Keith, you are a very welcome guest, no need to pull back, we're pretty thick of skin.

Also, I do not consider ThreeSources an Athiest or even Objectivist blog. I am proud and happy that we have some bright and principled folks of that stripe, but we also have a devout Catholic in AlexC. We are united by belief in freedom and individual rights, not belief in belief.

I was raised Catholic. While I have chosen a little more Randian path,I laughed at your surprise that I referenced parables. I'm rather a fan of the text and am extremely comfortable with religion and the religious.

I'll put words in Johngalt's mouth. A person who wants to use reason to engage is pretty welcome to express his or her opinions strongly as he or she wants around here. (Until the Fairness Doctrine is signed in the Rose Garden.)

Posted by: jk at March 1, 2009 11:55 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Not just pretty welcome, jk... completely welcome. If he uses reason.

TG: The answer to your question is that all humans have rights. (Even unborn ones, but that's another topic.) I can, and will if you ask, find where Rand explained this in her own words but I won't try to explain it myself because I'd likely confuse the matter.

Keith: I'll tell you up front where I'm trying to take this thread: To illustrate that belief in God (I call him "NED") and the philosophy of Objectivism can coexist. But belief in God or, in shorthand, "religion" is a package deal. I appreciate your explanation of the leftist elements in religious belief and that they differ from your, and what I would call "traditional" Christian belief. But without even refreshing my memory of Rand writings I can point out a single - extremely consequential - flaw in your argument that Christian charity is based on purely voluntary giving by self-sufficient - we call them "selfish" - individuals. It is this flaw that I contend has and will always be used by theologians to highjack rights from individuals. You wrote:

"Rather, it [charitable giving] is an act of undeserved and unmerited grace toward the recipient, with an eye toward making the recipient responsible for his condition going forward."

The problem here is "unmerited" or "undeserved." If charity is truly voluntary then the individual is free to make a judgement whether the recipient is worthy of his aid. Without that all important individual judgement all we are left with is the hammer and sickle. But then, Christianity forbids us to judge others for we are all "guilty" ourselves, right? Original sin. Rand called this "unearned guilt" and it is a principal weapon of the left.

You made analogy to Galt's Gulch. Remember what John Galt said: "I am the man who loves his life. I am the man who does not sacrifice his love or his values." ... "I will not sacrifice myself for others, nor ask another to sacrifice himself for me."

Beware of everything you read regarding Objectivism that isn't in Rand's own hand. I remember searching for any reference where she said she is an atheist. The most direct answer I could find was in the 1964 Playboy interview where having been asked if she believe's in God she answered, "Certainly not." It is an excellent interview and I highly suggest it to anyone who wants an introduction to Rand.

Let me close with just one last excerpt from that interview:

PLAYBOY: Has no religion, in your estimation, ever offered anything of constructive value to human life?

RAND: Qua religion, no -- in the sense of blind belief, belief unsupported by, or contrary to, the facts of reality and the conclusions of reason. Faith, as such, is extremely detrimental to human life: it is the negation of reason. But you must remember that religion is an early form of philosophy, that the first attempts to explain the universe, to give a coherent frame of reference to man's life and a code of moral values, were made by religion, before men graduated or developed enough to have philosophy. And, as philosophies, some religions have very valuable moral points. They may have a good influence or proper principles to inculcate, but in a very contradictory context and, on a very -- how should I say it? -- dangerous or malevolent base: on the ground of faith.

Posted by: johngalt at March 2, 2009 1:36 PM

War on Philanthropy

A good friend of ThreeSources sends an interesting link. Contra the accompanying comments, I think we'd all be pretty concerned about this War on Philanthropy. As the government takes over more of what private charities do, the new taxation regime will starve their private "competitors" by reducing the deductibility of charitable giving.

I asked the president of a prominent international non-profit to comment on Obama’s new policies, and he was convinced there was no question as to the White House’s motivation. "This is a frontal assault on the non-profit sector aimed at undermining alternatives to government provision of social services. Nobody likes competition, and that goes for those who think government is the answer to all our problems."

I blogged pretty favorably a few years back about a moderately crazy scheme to offer up to $10,000 100% deductible allowance. In essence, most middle-class filers would "choose" the recipients of their tax dollars and "the rich" would fund everything else.

Without reigniting that debate, I think any movement away from private to public charity is bad and won't find much support 'round these parts.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:26 PM | What do you think? [0]

February 27, 2009

War on Investors

My pal, Larry Kudlow, has not gotten the message of Hope and Change:

Let me be very clear on the economics of President Obama's State of the Union speech and his budget.

He is declaring war on investors, entrepreneurs, small businesses, large corporations, and private-equity and venture-capital funds.

Posted by John Kranz at 7:39 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Last night I heard Dick Morris put it about as perfectly as can be:

"President Johnson's hallmark was the 'War on Poverty.' This president's hallmark is the 'War on Prosperity."

Posted by: johngalt at February 28, 2009 11:26 AM

Go Huskies!

Hat-tip: Terri

Posted by John Kranz at 5:41 PM | What do you think? [0]

Comment Purgatory

Like the title Keith? ;)

One of my own comments was sent there today so I went to retrieve it. In the process I found numerous others from regular commenters that appeared to be quarantined due to hyperlink content. I freed several from their un-cyberworldly bonds:

Keith on Unprecedented Times

Perry on What the Abyss Looked Like

Mike Ditka on Ditka for Senate

Cyrano on Happy New Year

I didn't go back further than that.

Posted by JohnGalt at 5:08 PM | What do you think? [7]
But jk thinks:

Damned, cursed spammers! (Each word gets two syllables if yo read that right.) TG got purgatoried last week and I released a few as well.

I have dialed it down from +1 to -5 on an aggressive scale of -10 to +10. Really, the stupid password that everybody hates does the job pretty well.

If you do get snagged, a quick email to jk [that dude over at] threesources [doting protector of] commerce and I will set the thoughts free whether I agree or not.

Posted by: jk at February 27, 2009 6:57 PM
But Keith thinks:

"Damned, cursed spammers!" It does have that Shakespearean lilt to it with the sounded second syllables.

I've noticed some guitarist-like passwords for authentication, by the way (today's nothwithstanding). Just luck, was that deliberate?

Posted by: Keith at February 27, 2009 7:12 PM
But jk thinks:

Guitars, jazz, Buffy and today's quick-to-type. I hate to give them up, because the misunderstandings have been fun. Silence Dogood thought duk3 payed homage to his alma mater, and jg got a little squeamish typing f@!th. (Ellington and the dark slayer were intended, but interpret away, good people!)

We had guitars as a subhead of the previous blog.

This is the other me.

Posted by: jk at February 27, 2009 7:26 PM
But Keith thinks:

I always said you could tell a man by whether he loves dogs and whether he plays; I'm an acoustic twelve-string man myself. Guitars, jazz, Buffy - there's a combination.

Good jazz - REAL jazz - is a skill I've never had; it's a lot harder to play than rock, and requires an ear for timing and chord progressions that I lack. So you have my respect.

Posted by: Keith at February 27, 2009 8:54 PM
But sugarchuck thinks:

Hey Keith, as someone who has been blown out of the water by JK's playing for years, I can say he's got my respect too. On his worst day playing he kicks me to the curb every time. And he's a nice guy about it too.

Posted by: sugarchuck at February 27, 2009 9:05 PM
But jk thinks:

Oh. Puh. Leeeze. Must we drag this onto yet another forum?

For those of you playing the home version, Sugarchuck and I were in our first band together, about 9th grade, and I have been in his shadow ever since. It took me an integral number of decades to figure out that our proclivities are more complimentary than competitive.

We do things by reason and facts around ThreeSources. SC's professional success eclipses mine 100 times over; I claimed my musical field at the very least to be a meritocracy; Quod Erat Demonstratum, SC is a superior player.

Someday we'll finish our long term recording project and share an MP3 or two.

Posted by: jk at February 28, 2009 11:50 AM

Tea Party/Producers Strike Today

Despite every intention to be there a forgotten pediatrician's appointment for my eldest made it impossible for me to get firsthand photos and video of the Obama Tea Party in Denver today. There's one shot posted in Michelle Malkin's coverage here. I'm impressed by the breadth of this event with good representation in not just Chicago but San Diego, North Carolina, Oklahoma City, Nashville, Portland, Alabama, Lansing, Cleveland, Houston, Atlanta, Tampa, Orlando, Austin, Hartford, and Washington D.C, courtesy of John Lilyea at 'This Ain't Hell.'

The list is even longer according to TCOT Report, which also has more photos and coverage.

UPDATE - 2-28-2009: Many more Denver photos and stories can be found at Slapstick Politics via El Presidente and at People's Press Collective by Zombiehunter (with photos), Ben and Mr. Bob.

My friend Russ was featured in several photos with his unique John Galt sign.

Other than that my favorite sign slogans are:


Your Wallet Is The Only Place The Democrats Want To Drill!




But Russ Shurts thinks:

This is Russ Shurts, Eric's friend with the 'John Galt' sign. Follows are my impressions of the event. There were about 200 people there, mostly Republicans but with a sprinkling of Libertarians and other assorted types. They were all very concerned/unhappy about the current state of affairs in this country and wanting to put a stop to the march towards socialism we are currently on. I was very pleased that the first speaker was a woman who sang the national anthem and then spent her first 5 to 10 minutes giving a brief biography of Ayn Rand and then discussing how much Atlas Shrugged so very much describes the situation we are finding ourselves in right now. I was not pleased (though not surprised) that the vast majority of the people attending truly did not understand Ayn Rand’s basic philosophy/message, nor the fact that because of this lack of understanding they would consistently undercut the positions they were supposedly advocating by the things that they said.

The people attending were uniformly polite, not angry or overly demonstrative. In fact one of the speakers, Jon Caldara who fills in for Mike Rosen on KOA, started his speech by commenting that he figured most everyone there was very uncomfortable about doing such a thing because they were typically the type of people who would not even be inclined to disagree with let alone protest established authority. Most everyone I saw was nodding in agreement when he said this.

I’m not sure it made even the smallest dent in the problem we are currently facing, but as my friend Randall Laff said in inviting me to attend with him, “We have to do something.” And he is quite right. We are rapidly losing this country and the freedom that always came with it. If something isn’t done soon, it will not be a fitting place for human habitation.

Posted by: Russ Shurts at February 28, 2009 3:14 PM

Nobody Messes With Joe!

Insty links as "another day, another Biden gaffe:"

Wednesday morning on the CBS Early Show, Vice President Joe Biden asked, "But what I don't understand from Governor Jindal is what would he do? In Louisiana, there's 400 people a day losing their jobs. What's he doing?"

But that claim is wrong if you look at the numbers from the Louisiana Workforce Commission.

"In December, Louisiana was the only state in the nation besides the District of Columbia, according to the national press release, that added employment over the month," said Patty Granier with the Louisiana Workforce Commission.

"The state gained 3,700 jobs for the seasonally adjusted employment," Granier said of the most recent figures.

Those numbers are available on Louisiana's employment website, laworks.net.

I'm guessing he didn't have the website number.

I compared the reaction to Governor Palin the other day and I will stand by it. I got to thinking last night that President George HW Bush and the supermarket scanner is more illustrative. To refresh, because the wrong story has so much currency, President Bush remarked on the latest at the time barcode readers, remarking upon their remarkability. The press picked this up as Bush is so clueless he's never seen a supermarket scanner , then he's so elitist, he's never been in a supermarket, then he's so out-of-touch you'd better vote for Bill Clinton.

The jokes keep coming and I'll never wrong that right. But suppose it were true. The President in 1991 has never seen a supermarket scanner. Would the world really stop? Yes, if I worked for the opposition, I'd play it up. But we are not hiring a guy to keep the peanut butter shelf stocked.

Here, in 2009, we have a Vice President who doesn't know what a webpage is. Contra-GHWB, he is now in charge of a public liaison campaign to track a Trillion dollars of government spending. And he doesn't know the website number.

VP Biden Posted by John Kranz at 4:05 PM | What do you think? [0]

Cap'n Trade

Maybe they need a salty-dog cartoon character to promote Cap'n Trade. After all I ate many boxes of truly disgusting cereal as a kid to get the toy surprise that Cap'n Crunch promised me. It could work.

So far, they are not fooling the WSJ Ed Page. "Don't call it a t--" is the subtitle of An Inconvenient Tax

That didn't take long. The same week that President Obama promised (again) that "95% of working families" would not see their taxes rise by "a single dime," his own budget reveals that taxes will rise for 100% of everyone for the sake of global warming. Ahem.

You don't even have to burrow into yesterday's budget fine print to discover the "climate revenues" section, where the White House discloses that it expects $78.7 billion in new tax revenue in 2012 from its cap-and-trade program. The pot of cash grows to $237 billion through 2014, and at least $646 billion through 2019. If this isn't tax revenue, what is it? Manna from heaven? The offset from Al Gore's carbon footprint?

I'll credit the administration one thing. It is worse than a tax because it has such a strong regulatory component. Cue Cap'n Trade: "It's a tax" "No, it's regulation," replies the Power-Vampire Count Wastefula...

It'd be cute.

February 26, 2009

Quote of the Day

From the CrunchGear review of the Kindle2: ten reasons to buy one, and ten not. From the second list:

7. Flight attendants will tell you to turn it off on take off and landing. You can’t explain that it’s epaper and uses no current. You just can’t. It’s like explaining heaven to bears.

Posted by John Kranz at 8:09 PM | What do you think? [0]

Schadenfreude Free zone

I love Journalism qua Journalism, and I was conditioned to appreciate growing up in a two-paper town. The Post and Rocky collapsed ownership a few years ago and became less competitive with each other. Yet it was still a two paper town.

On the other hand, Mister Truman, I'm a new media guy and think the dailies have dug their own grave with lousy, biased content and pursuit of a broken business model. When a paper closes down in San Francisco, Honolulu, or Ash Debula I say "Viva Schumpeter, the lying, lazy weasels reaped what they sowed!"

In the end, I'll admit to being saddened by the news that Denver's worse paper is shutting down after 150 years (Colorado has only been a State since 1876).

The Rocky Mountain News publishes its last paper tomorrow.

Rich Boehne, chief executive officer of Rocky-owner Scripps, broke the news to the staff at noon today, ending nearly three months of speculation over the paper's future.

"People are in grief," Editor John Temple said at a news conference later.

But Boulder Refugee thinks:

The Refugee will admit some sadness at the demise of the The Rocky. With better-balanced news coverage and a more reasoned editorial board (Vincent Carroll), The Rocky is far preferable to The Post. Moreover, The Refugee still likes to spread out the paper in front of his breakfast and peruse the news before starting the day in earnest. It's an ambiance that you just can't get with a computer screen.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at February 27, 2009 10:32 AM
But jk thinks:

I have not subscribed to either of the dailies in a decade. I thought I remembered The Post being less biased -- holy cow, they employ David Harsanyi!

For spreading out, you can't beat a broadsheet. I read the Wall Street Journal online but always love to grab a paper copy in the airport or Starbucks.

On the serous side. I do love to whack the lazy, biased, groupthink MSM but I think the business model is so flawed and the competition is so severe that I cannot imagine Denver supporting two local papers. It's more about Joseph Schumpeter than Bernie Goldberg -- is it not?

Posted by: jk at February 27, 2009 11:53 AM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Yes, the print media has never figured out how to give away content and make money, if you catch my drift. Craig's List has probably done more to kill newspapers than anything else, however. In The Rocky's case, they had a $22 million news room and a $22 million loss last year... hmmm.

On the Schadenfreude side, it's nice to see the San Francisco Chronicle take a digger, perhaps soon to joined by the LA Times.

As good as Harsanyi is, he is a token at The Post.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at February 27, 2009 2:27 PM

Escher Economics

Awesome, click to see more:


Hat-tip: Mankiw who titles it "Ricardian Equivalence." I'd call it "Deadweight Loss."

Democrat Libertarians

I try to keep an open mind when some Democrat friends claim to be "libertarian." You can make a point that Democrats might be a little more open to gay marriage, extended immigration, civil liberties. I question how devoted they are to these purities compared to their devotion to socialism and bigger government. But the 109th Congress GOP wasn't very defensible, so I try to give some benefit of the doubt.

I cannot be so kind or sanguine when they say that Democrats are less likely to pursue the War on Drugs. William Bennett is always held up as a poster boy, but Reason reminds that now-VP Joe Biden created the "Drug Czar" position. And the little-l's dream that enforcement would be reduced by the hipper, younger administration is going -- if I may quote Tommy Chong -- "Up In Smoke:"

Attorney General Eric Holder today announced the arrest of 52 people in a continuation of a Bush Administration drug investigation of the Mexican cartels. The operation began 21 months ago. The total number of arrests (a number of whom are low level traffickers) is 750.

The military may get involved in the effort
Another Holder plan that should be no surprise: He wants to bring back the assault weapons ban.

Vote Democrat -- no property rights, no civil rights!

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 4:10 PM | What do you think? [11]
But jk thinks:

You are losing me, tg. You say you don't want bans but you use the language of The Brady Society.

If the grenade ban has not worked, then it is time to discard the whole ATF gameplan. The grenade ban is pretty efficacious on this side of the border -- I've been to a gun show or two and don't remember seeing grenades -- or even a "grenade show loophole."

I'll use the language of the left: look at root causes. We have to look to helping the Mexican government create security and order. And, ahem, if you really want to fix it, end the insane liberty-sucking War On Drugs. When these guys have to compete with Walgreen's, grenades will be of little value.

Posted by: jk at February 27, 2009 12:35 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

@tg: Apologies for the words-in-the-mouth thing; it sounded like you supported that position, so my mistake.

WRT the "guns flowing south," I still don't believe it. ATF has made dubious claims in the past, and ARE NOT the friends of gun owners. But let's assume it's true and that we are successful in magically removing them tomorrow. Would the gangs be disarmed? Not a chance. Chaves/the Chinese/the North Koreans would be happy to sell them arms.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at February 27, 2009 12:45 PM
But johngalt thinks:

TG: I'll try not to put words into your mouth but when you say, "I want to know what is [the answer to keeping U.S. made weapons out of the hands of foreign criminals]" are you expecting to find some sort of law or regulation that would only apply to foreign criminals (or domestic criminals either, for that matter) and not to American citizens? Do you honestly expect any measure could be effective short of actual cessation of manufacture?

I suppose it's possible to prohibit export of military/police grade weapons to gun dealers in Mexico but who doubts they'd find a way to get them anyway through an intermediary? Shall we ban ALL non-governmental export sales?

For some insight about why we're hearing this now [U.S. guns being used by Mexican criminal gangs] see this David Kopel essay: http://www.nraila.org/Issues/Articles/Read.aspx?id=347&issue=015

Posted by: johngalt at February 27, 2009 4:30 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

It's also worth noting that Mexico has very strict control of private gun ownership. Doesn't seem to be working, does it? They also have far swifter and harsher punishment of drug dealers that we do. Seems the risk/reward calculation of the bad guys only fosters greater violence.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at February 27, 2009 5:55 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

Jk, all I have done is cite statistics. Are facts tools only to be used by those on the left?

Now granted, BR might be right and the ATF could be cooking their books. Certainly they would not be the first governmental organization to do so. But personally speaking, I tend to trust the sources used by Generals when they draft strategic assessments on the likelihood our neighbors becoming failed states. This may be foolish of me, but even if the numbers are not quite 90%, I think we can say with confidence that they are very high.

This brings us to the crux of the issue: what should we do to solve this problem? I am very thankful for the link JG posted, and I suggest anybody who has not read it should do so. As the article speculates, the Obama administration's knee-jerk reaction to a Mexican collapse is a crack-down on gun ownership. When the liberal tide comes in favor of such a move, what is the right going to say? Shall we sit lamely by, simply saying "No, that won't work" or shall we be able to stand up and offer up a true solotion, shouting "The right way to end this illegal trade is to..."

Is to what? That is what I am intend to find out. I find it quite silly (and am quite surprised) that members of this site are so eager to hand over the imitative to statists and enemies of liberty. As the situation in Mexico deteriorates, issue will only gain prominence. Hopefully by the time the clogs of government start rolling we in the minority will have a mature enough position to possess a decisive voice in the national debate.

Here is where I suggest we start. Former Secretary Rice said this in response to a plea to reinstate the assault ban: "“I follow arms trafficking across the world, and I’ve never known illegal arms traffickers who cared very much about the law."

I suggest that is how we start thinking about this problem. This is not about of domestic gun ownership but the international arms trade. I know we spend millions trying to ensure that illegal arm shipments do not make it to insurgent groups in the Middle East- would it be so hard to extend that same courtesy to Mexico?

Posted by: T. Greer at March 2, 2009 7:25 PM
But jk thinks:

Got no problem with statistics, though I would join the house in questioning ATF's (the department that should be a convenience store).

You say you're not for a gun ban. Yet you want action; you want American government action. This is my problem. Since government is proscribed from banning domestic weapons, we're going to control the international arms trade? I say that is fraught with the same peril.

We tried this in Kosovo, joining our brave European allies and enforcing strict weapons embargoes into the Balkans. This was like keeping the moms in DC housing projects unarmed. The Serbians had weapons in stock and opportunity for replenishment through Russia. Our embargo kept the Kosovars from defending themselves, and it did not turn out well.

The answer in Mexico, Albania, Kosovo, and the District of Colombia is not disarmament.

Posted by: jk at March 3, 2009 12:11 PM

"Assault" Weapons Ban Pending

We have a rapidly degenerating third-world state on our southern border.

So what does President Obama plan to do to help? (and stem a massive refugee flood)

Gun bans.

In Our Country.

"As President Obama indicated during the campaign, there are just a few gun-related changes that we would like to make, and among them would be to reinstitute the ban on the sale of assault weapons," Holder told reporters.

Holder said that putting the ban back in place would not only be a positive move by the United States, it would help cut down on the flow of guns going across the border into Mexico, which is struggling with heavy violence among drug cartels along the border.

"I think that will have a positive impact in Mexico, at a minimum." Holder said at a news conference on the arrest of more than 700 people in a drug enforcement crackdown on Mexican drug cartels operating in the U.S.

The US government has a hell of time keeping illegal Mexicans OUT of our country, so they plan on keeping guns OUT of their country.

That will work.

The Assault Weapons Ban signed into law by President Clinton in 1994 banned 19 types of semi-automatic military-style guns and ammunition clips with more than 10 rounds.

"A semi-automatic is a quintessential self-defense firearm owned by American citizens in this country," LaPierre said. "I think it is clearly covered under Heller and it's clearly, I think, protected by the Constitution."

But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

This article doesn't, but a linked article mentions what I had heard last night: part of the arrests include the seizure of 169 weapons. A whole 169 weapons for over 700 people. Not firearms, but weapons. Therefore not just guns, but switchblades and anything else deemed usable as a weapon.

And Leonhart said that in addition to ramped up pressure on the cartels, the streets have felt the pinch: "The price of cocaine, in 24 months, has increased 104 percent, while the purity has decreased 34.8 percent."
Of course, and the high price invites more competition, leading to escalations in the drug gang wars that are the primary violence already.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at February 26, 2009 2:06 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

If Social Security is the "third rail" for Republican politicians, then gun control is the third rail for Democrats. It is widely believed that this issue sank Al Gore in Tennessee in 2000 (a win there would have made Florida irrelevent).

Blog Bro JK is fond of Ned-blessing the Blue Dogs, so here's to 'em; they may be our only chance of defeating gun control. Hopefully, gun owners will wake up and realize that "hope and change" is no substitute for "lock and load."

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at February 26, 2009 3:07 PM

Obama Tea Party 2.27.09

American producers will stage the first of many real-life strikes tomorrow.


Find one near you.

But AlexC thinks:

Is anyone actually going to "not pay taxes"?

I mean, it's great to stand around and talk to other conservatives and low-tax types, but that's all it is.

Stop paying taxes?

Let's have THOSE parties.

Posted by: AlexC at February 26, 2009 2:21 PM
But johngalt thinks:


Outrage is growing by the week so what you're suggesting (and I've considered over the last 3 months) is possible before year's end.

Posted by: johngalt at February 26, 2009 4:31 PM

February 25, 2009

Let me Count the Lies

No. Let the AP Fact Checkers.. (Hat-tip: Insty and read the whole thing.)

Did anybody's house not explode last night when he talked about "the country that invented the car?" Oh, he meant Henry Ford inventing the assembly line. Judges? I don't think that would work on "Jeopardy" even if he did phrase it as a question.

I think we apply the Governor Sarah Palin test: WWTMSMDISPDI? Judges? Yes "What is apoplexy?"

Apply the Sarah Palin test to one other newsitem (Hat-tip: Taranto)

How can the public know that the money is allocated correctly? That’s the question CBS’s Maggie Rodriguez asked.

“We’re going to put every bit of this transparently up on a website. You’re gonna know. You’ll be able to go on a website. Every single bit of this will be on a website,” he explained.

What website?

“You know, I’m embarrassed. Do you know the website number?” he asked looking offstage. “I should have it in front of me and I don’t. I’m actually embarrassed.”

He was able to get the website “number” from someone off camera.

“Recovery.gov. It’s Recovery.gov. It’s up and running,” he said with newfound confidence.

Nope, nobody messes with Joe. The same way you don't "mess with" a slobbering delusional alcoholic at the bus stop. Methinks if Governor Palin had referred to a "website number--" Judges? "What is soil their trousers?" Ding-ding.

Posted by John Kranz at 5:17 PM | What do you think? [3]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Defenders of Joe (DOJ - or "Dodge" for short) point out that websites actually do have numbers. However, The Refugee is pretty certain that if you said "IP address" to Joe, he'd direct you to the men's room.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at February 25, 2009 6:32 PM
But jk thinks:

Defenders of Joe are reachin'! Nobody would give the address of a new government website by IP address. (Love the joke, br, maybe something about "Larry Craig's already in there?")

Again I ask (rhetorically) whether Governor Palin would be offered the same benefit of the doubt. I'm left with Jonah Goldberg's observation that "Biden could go on 'Meet the Press' and shout 'Get the squirrels off of me!' and they would say 'Joe's just being Joe.' But if Sarah Palin mispronounces the name of the deputy agricultural minister to Uzbekistan..."

Posted by: jk at February 25, 2009 7:25 PM
But AlexC thinks:

JK, not "lies"... differently perceived truth.

Posted by: AlexC at February 25, 2009 9:22 PM

Raggin' on Bobby?

I should create a 2012 category and lead it off with this.

I was surprised at the disappointment in the blogosphere with Governor Jindal's GOP response. I thought the audio sucked but that he did a pretty good job. Laurie Bird (HT: Insty) suggests he was much better in his Today Show interview:

If Andrew Sullivan finds him "cringeworthy." he even goes up in my esteem.

Posted by John Kranz at 3:00 PM | What do you think? [3]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

The Refugee must admit that he turned off Jindal after about five minutes. He knew that he would basically agree with the message but the delivery was downright painful. Pacing was awful, emphasis was in the wrong places and ideas were run together. The Refugee left praying this was not the last hope of the Republican party. Two years of speech coaching is in order if Jindal intends to make a run at the White House.

The Refugee was watching on Fox News, where the sound was choppy. Thinking it perhaps a conspiracy, he checked the sound feed on ABC and NBC where the feeds were fine.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at February 25, 2009 6:22 PM
But jk thinks:

I watched FOX broadcast (first case of discontinuers' remorse: Shep "Why won't President come down here and save these people?" Smith instead of Brit Hume) and they had the bad sound. I thought he did pretty well. It's always a letdown after the packed House/Senate to deliver the "naked" response.

I dunno, maybe I am easy to please. On the other hand, BR finds himself in the company of Andrew Sullivan...

Posted by: jk at February 25, 2009 6:41 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I'll suggest we all stop playing on the Democrats' field, with their ball, following their rules. Trying to out speechify them is as hopeless as trying to out tax and spend them.

In an election where the Democrat candidate had EVERY advantage the Republican still could have won had 3% of the vote switched sides. Despite his stiffness, had that Republican not sounded like a watered down version of the Democrat on the issues there's an excellent chance he'd have won. Opposing the bank bailout bill was the last-chance hail-mary pass never thrown.

Posted by: johngalt at February 26, 2009 4:41 PM


A good friend who voted for President Obama, and waxed lyrical about Hope and Change all Inauguration week posted this on Facebook last night:

The Biggest Loser
Obama better stop talking so I don't miss any of the Biggest Loser tonight!!!

[insert your own joke...]

Posted by John Kranz at 10:29 AM | What do you think? [1]
But NYK007 thinks:

Hi guys,

I'll suggest we all stop playing on the Democrats' field, with their ball, following their rules. Trying to out speechify them is as hopeless as trying to out tax and spend them. Thanks

Drug Intervention Minnesota

Posted by: NYK007 at March 4, 2009 5:32 AM

February 24, 2009

Mixed-up, Muddled and Shook-up world 'cept for Lola

Welcome to Bizarro World, ThreeSourcers! The Refugee has attacked the heroic pilot, Capt. Chesley Sullenberger. Now, I rush to defend Vice President Biden. Odder still, we're both right. BR makes a great case that Cap'n Sully has exceeded his area of expertise, and while I love a good whack at VP Biden, I have to say that this video goes too far:

Hairplugs? personal attacks? a dubious use of a racial epithet? A gratuitous swipe at VP Quayle? The Drug-czar reference is the only issue that belongs in a reason piece and the gaffes they chose are not his worst.

VP Biden Posted by John Kranz at 7:34 PM | What do you think? [2]
But nanobrewer thinks:

I've been losing respect for Reason for years. About the time I registered as a Libertarian, I thought them pretty decent. More recently I found I had to stay out of the gravitational pull of ReasonOnline, which was barely staying in orbit, and it appears that Reason itself has not.

It just defies Reason, y'know!

Posted by: nanobrewer at February 25, 2009 3:28 PM
But jk thinks:

Oh No! Libertario Delenda Est!

We did a fair bit of Reason-bashing around here during the election. Matt Welch had the McCain bashing book out, and I was alarmed at the ferociousness of their attacks on Senator McCain (probably well deserved) versus their basic free-pass to Senator Obama (considerably less deserved).

This finalized my belief that having a big-L Libertarian Party was counterproductive to advancing the little-l ideas which I hold so dear. Perhaps equating a magazine and a party is not fair, but they seem to have a lot of flaws in common.

Sorry to impugn your registered party, but feel free to take all the whacks at Republicans that you want. It's all but obligatory.

Posted by: jk at February 25, 2009 4:08 PM

Don't Sully That Reputation

No one will dispute the piloting skill and heroics of Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger. However, The Refugee respectfully encourages him stick to flying and forget economics.

During recent testimony before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Capt. Sullenberger bemoaned the payroll plight of pilots.

US Airways pilot Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger told the House aviation subcommittee that his pay has been cut 40 percent in recent years and his pension has been terminated and replaced with a promise "worth pennies on the dollar" from the federally created Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp.


The reduced compensation has placed "pilots and their families in an untenable financial situation," Sullenberger said. "I do not know a single, professional airline pilot who wants his or her children to follow in their footsteps."

The Good Captain traced the problem back to airline deregulation in the 1970's. Ah. There we have it: if we could just bring back some old time government, he could still be benefiting from the artificial market created by bureaucrats - at the expense of the millions of consumers, of course.

Before we pass the hat through coach, however, let's look at his assertions objectively. First of all, there's no doubt that pilot incomes have fallen as airlines have tried to find a sustainable business model. However, 2008 data indicates that salaries for captains of A320/737 class aircraft ranges from $123,000 to about $200,000 depending upon airline. 747/777 jockeys make substantially more. US Airways is on the lower end of the scale. But even so, these individuals are well within the top 10% of all wage earners.

Untennable financial situation, sir? If you're in the top 10% of wage earners and can barely scrape by, then you either don't have any concept of true poverty or need to hire a money manager. Moreover, why not change to a higher-paying airline on a higher-paying ride? A top pilot with 19,000+ hours surely has some job mobility.

Secondly, his testimony implies that flight safety is at risk. Facts speak differently. Commercial flight fatalities have declined since deregulation despite a huge increase in the number of flights. Air travel has never been safer.

Capt. Sullenberger does not often mention that he was educated entirely on taxpayer money at the U.S. Air Force Academy, a $400,000 value in present dollars. He also learned to fly in taxpayer-paid planes costing thousands of dollars per hour all while receiving a pretty decent officer's salary and benefits, again at taxpayer's expense. The Refugee begrudges none of this, but this is a ride available to only 1 in 100,000 students with no residual student loans.

Again, with respect, the taxpayer has already done his part to support Capt. Sullenberger. Yes, his flying skills are magnificent and actions on the Hudson heroic. It was also the job that he was trained and paid to do.

Economics and Markets Posted by Boulder Refugee at 6:32 PM | What do you think? [2]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Ahem, here's an economics lesson for Sullenberger, and because he's so stretched on a meager income, I won't charge him a dime.

Richard Branson, yes that one, offered to hire Sullenberger for Virgin Atlantic. Not at whatever salary Sullenberger demands, but at double what anybody else offers -- and a pilot position on Branson's spaceships. Apparently Branson made the offer in public, not directly, and Sullenberger was unaware of it. I take it that the offer has not yet been accepted.

Prices are ultimately determined by competition, and at the margin. It isn't only what you're willing to pay for something, but what the next person is willing to pay. Conversely, it doesn't matter what someone is willing to pay you, but what the next person is willing to accept for providing substitute goods or services.

This means for airline pilots that there are enough of them who are willing to accept the pay cuts. Otherwise, by definition, airlines would have to keep offering higher salaries and benefits until the market cleared (when the number of bought items equals the number of items offered for sale, i.e. the number of hired airline pilots equals the number of desired pilots). Prices will not necessarily be the same for every unit sold over any given period of time: prices can fluctuate based on current demand for a limited or ample supply, as we see with oil prices. So if a particular airline needs just one more pilot and wants one really, really badly, they might offer $200K to someone who will start right away (as opposed to cancelling several flights because of a manpower scarcity).

But in fact with airline pilots it's been the reverse: there is sufficient supply that airlines have been able to cut their salaries, as part of broader cost-cutting measures, yet retain sufficient manpower. As remarkable and downright heroic as Sullenberger was, there just isn't that much demand for his particular expertise compared to the available substitutes of competent pilots who can do ordinary flying. Yes, it would be nice if all pilots had his skill, but that's just not going to happen. The increase in salaries would make airfare too expensive: fewer passengers lead to half-empty planes, leading to schedule reductions, leading to layoffs of these super-qualified pilots.

Sullenberger's complaint isn't that his pay isn't what he'd like it to be, but that his pay isn't what he'd like it to be while staying at his employer. At the end of last year, I turned down an opportunity at another firm for double what I'm making now. It would have been a more senior position with considerably greater responsibilities, and my particular area of compliance is also very high in demand right now. I wasn't afraid of the "big chair," but rather that I'd be working for a bank. First, I can't stay true to my principles when working for a bank receiving TARP money. Second, being at a major asset manager is a lot more stable in bear markets; I didn't want to risk getting laid off after 6 months because the bank had a couple of bad quarters. Third, it was too much of a risk to leave my current environment, where I get along great with my boss and team and implicitly trust them, for a boss I might hate like none other (or even if I like the person who hired me, I might get a new boss I hate).

So I voluntarily accepted an effective pay cut to stay where I am. Sullenberger did too, and he has no cause for complaint.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at February 25, 2009 10:17 AM
But johngalt thinks:

"It will be a great day when AIRLINE PILOTS get all the money they need and the air force has to hold a bake sale to buy a ... oh, wait a minute."

Posted by: johngalt at February 25, 2009 12:38 PM

Unprecedented Times

When Reason Magazine has to resort to biblical parables...I'm thinkin' end of days.

Posted by John Kranz at 2:51 PM | What do you think? [2]
But Keith thinks:

Hey, wait a minute - I take a couple of days off and suddenly ThreeSources goes all churchy behind my back. Specifically, jk is citing articles on the Prodigal Son, nominating Sanford for God, talking about the "end of days," and he's got readers praying for him. I feel so... so... unneeded. It's like one little economic crisis and people suddenly get religion.

Kidding aside, I'm sorry I missed your announcement yesterday on your clinical trial, but I'm good for a double dose of prayer next go-round to make up for it. Definitely hope all is going well for you and you're feeling well.

But for the record, I'll do the sermonizing around here...


Posted by: Keith at February 24, 2009 3:56 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Nice sermon Keith.

As for "churchy" you haven't even heard it all: I've been telling friends and family that "The election of Barack Obama as President of the United States is proof that God does exist - and has a sense of humor."

Posted by: johngalt at February 27, 2009 6:10 PM

Quote of the Day

Fox Butterfield, call your office:

Despite the announcement Monday that the federal government would do even more to help recapitalize financial institutions, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped another 250 points.

Despite -- I'm not sure that word means what you think it means...

Posted by John Kranz at 2:46 PM | What do you think? [1]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Questioning the use of "despite" is correct. Shareholders want capitalization, just not in any form and not at any price.

The feds are talking about another $20 billion for Citi, and the feds already want to convert their preferred stock to common stock. This, of course, dilutes the value of the common stock, which is why existing common stock shareholders are fleeing. And rightly so.

I've warned from the onset that nationalization is coming. Hardly anybody wanted to believe me.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at February 25, 2009 11:18 AM

Corporate Water

We haven't had a "Dirty Hippies" post in a while (and a younger me may have personally starred in the last one). But it is time. Oh baby it is time. Gawker has a nine-minute video of the ridiculous NYU food court takeover.

Painful as it is, you have to watch it coast-to-coast, both to absorb the full inanity and to catch the end where they inventory their possessions (sorry, AC, no "PCs" in the group) to protect them from confiscation.

HT: Insty, who links to other reactions.

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

"Obama Fixed It!"

Blog Brother Johngalt asked me to look for warning signs of socialized medicine. I am happy to address his concerns with a report that the nursing staff of Advanced Neurology is professional, compassionate and generally lovely in every way.

But all is not quiet. One staff member was discussing that she had brought in many of her favorite pens and she was protecting them from intra-office theft. I remarked that they should be exempt because they get all those cool pens from the drug companies' sales reps.

"Obama fixed that!" cried another staff member (who obviously has not gotten the message of hope and change) "They can't do that anymore." I restored a smile when I played along, saying "Now I can sleep at night -- I was so worried that my doctor would be bought out by a pen and a box of Kleenex."

I follow pharmaceutical regulation -- I thought -- closely and had missed this pearl. I need to do a little research but don't think he was making this up. I know that marketing costs are a real casus belli to the collectivists -- it is somehow evil to spend money educating your customers and wasteful to promote your product. I'm sure that's why Coke and Budweiser do it.

But this is the world that suffering businesses will have to navigate to grow in difficult times: the proverbial anvil thrown to a drowning man. It will hurt the pharmaceutical companies, pen manufacturers, and as my fellow doubter suggested "I think all the restaurants in the area will close; I never see any pens in there but pharma ones."

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 11:30 AM | What do you think? [0]

Short the U S of A?

Fifty percent off the peak:

Financial markets shuddered Monday with the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling 3.4% to 7114.78 -- or nearly half the peak it hit just 16 months ago -- even as the Obama administration tried to quell fears about the viability of major U.S. banks.

The decline in the stock market was unusually broad and went well beyond the jittery financial sector, with technology and other economically sensitive categories driving major indexes to their lowest closing levels in more than 11 years.

Much as I love to study sophisticated investment vehicles and absorb wisdom from Kudlow guests, I have to admit to being the dullest, old-lady, dollar-averaging, broad-index investor on the planet. My 401K choices are a bit limited, so I do ETFs for S&P500, S&P600, and a non-aggressive international fund. For my wife's IRA, we invest lump sum once per year and can choose any investment except rare guitars (there's probably an ETF, I shouldn't jest.) So I get a little more colorful there. My big idea last year was to go heavy on Financials -- how much worse could they go? Oh. That much.

On one hand, I am a Kudlowite optimist. The dynamic free market engine of world prosperity will win in the end and a long term bet against America is not historically wise. The other hand sees protectionism, überregulation, preternaturally progressive taxes on income, investment and capital -- all in the midst of a downturn that cries for the exact opposite.

I'm thinking of going short with half this year's contribution and putting half in Taleb's Black Swan fund. A little hedge against a further downturn that seems quite possible. I would love to hear what ThreeSourcers think. How bad is it gonna get and what to do?

UPDATE: The editorial page is a little less kind, invoking Casey Stengel's "Can't anybody play this game?"

The latest example came yesterday, when equity markets showed early strength after a dreadful week when they had fallen nearly 6%. Then investors started to absorb a three-paragraph morning statement from five branches of the Obama financial regulatory team asserting that the government "stands firmly behind the banking system during this period of financial strain to ensure it will be able to perform its key function of providing credit to households and businesses." Stocks headed south around 10 a.m. and didn't stop until they'd lost another 3.4% or so. The nearby chart of the Dow since Election Day is a running tally of ebbing confidence in the new Administration.

February 23, 2009

Advantage Rick Santelli — and Larry Kudlow.

A transcript and video of Larry Kudlow's interview with Rick Santelli on Larry's blog.

Larry has some well-placed concerns about the thuggery of Gibbs and the White House communications office against Santelli. Great quote from Santelli:

And if we’re going to be on the Today Show together, I’ll drink decaf, but I have a feeling that you ought to drink caffeinated.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:43 PM | What do you think? [0]

Medicated Blogging

I get the second dose of my clinical trial today. I'll have my mini netbook and full knowledge of how to get on the hospital WiFi, so maybe I'll do some Blogging on Steroids®. I get a half-hour of steroids to mitigate symptoms of the drug.

So far, they haven't caused me to hit 70 home runs, but they tend to make me a little loquacious (moi?) If I get my inner Biden on, I'll start posting. If not, as Linda Richman would say, "Talk among yourselves..."

Posted by John Kranz at 12:01 AM | What do you think? [3]
But nanobrewer thinks:

Good luck to you JK. Dunno if it's a faux pas on a LibT leaning site as this, but I'll say a prayer for you.

Posted by: nanobrewer at February 22, 2009 11:33 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Let us know if you see any signs of the coming socialized medicine. You know, nurses older and unattractive, pictures of "dear leader" in every hallway, no more bubblegum flavored antibiotics. :)

Kick butt bro.

Posted by: johngalt at February 22, 2009 11:35 PM
But jk thinks:

Thanks for the kind wordss and thoughts. Prayers gladly accerted. We run the spectrum here, nb.

t happen to be a prayin' man myself b ut it always makes me happy to hear other are on my behalf.

They just started the first infusion -- making good time today.

Posted by: jk at February 23, 2009 11:14 AM

February 22, 2009

"Where's their answer to this?"

A number of ideas over the past weeks have come together for me this morning-

In response to the letter I sent to my Senators opposing H.R. 1 a beloved cousin emailed me, "I’m not saying I disagree or agree with you when I ask this question…. But what would you suggest? I don’t really know what the right answer is at this point…"

The first line of my reply to her was, "Well, on numerous occasions in the past we've cut tax rates in an attempt to spur economic growth and every time that's been done the economy improved and net tax receipts increased, despite the lower rate of taxation."

Then the shamulus bill passed and a number of Republican governors, upon seeing the fine print, began suggesting they'd refuse the federal handouts. "Republican governors, as the last bastion of capitalist political power in this country, should implement a capitalist plan for job creation - eliminate the corporate income tax" I thought. By doing this in one or more states there would be a side-by-side comparison of capitalism versus government bailouts that would be difficult to ignore on the key statistics of job growth and state GDP growth.

But I wondered which states have a Republican governor AND a corporate income tax that could be axed?

This morning Tim Pawlenty and Mark Sanford appeared on Fox News Sunday with Ed Rendell and Jennifer Granholm to discuss the "stimulus" bill. Among other things, Sanford called The Big O's foreclosure plan "a horrible idea." Last week Sanford suggested that his state might "turn down stimulus money" from the feds. In that L.A. Times story real estate agent Joyce Rivas claimed to have voted for Sanford twice but was angered by his "threat." Rivas asked, "For starters, where's their answer to this?"

In a quick search I found that Governor Sanford proposed, last December, elimination of the 5% South Carolina corporate income tax.

Lawmakers and observers said eliminating corporate income tax is an interesting idea, but want to hear more details.


South Carolina could join four other states, Nevada, South Dakota, Washington and Wyoming, with no corporate income tax, Sanford said. South Carolina collects about $300 million in corporate income taxes annually, far less than sales and individual income tax collections.

“We’ve got to get away from this piecemeal approach to jobs incentives,” Sanford said in a written statement. “We believe a better approach would be to simply lower the overall tax rate for corporations, so that we’re not only giving companies a good deal when they decide to locate here but we’re giving them a reason to stay and expand.”

There you are, Ms. Rivas. That is our answer.

For reference: Tax Foundation's 'State Business Tax Climate Index Rankings' Maryland... ouch!

But jk thinks:

I watched that show as well. Let me just say "Sanford for God!!!"

I have heard for years about how impressive (and telegenic) Governor Granholm is. "Don't amend the Constitution for President Aahnold," they said, "it will backfire and you'll get Democratic President Granholm." Watching her today, I don't think either of them should start measuring drapes. (For the record, I would support an amendment allowing a naturalized citizen to be President and for the record my naturalized-citizen wife would not. There you go.)

You can see where these former industrial giants of states get the "former" though I confess to liking Gov. Rendell's style. Gov. Granholm will gladly take her money and South Carolina's and yours and yours and yours and yours.

Posted by: jk at February 22, 2009 6:57 PM
But jk thinks:

...and another thing!

This humble little blog has mentioned several things that would be wildly more effective and far more conducive to liberty. Holidays on cap-gains taxes, elimination of the corporate cap gains tax, increased immigration and the payroll tax holiday would all be wildly stimulative. None would grow government's size and influence.

Posted by: jk at February 22, 2009 7:19 PM
But johngalt thinks:

...but whadda WE know. We're just "the people."

Posted by: johngalt at February 22, 2009 11:31 PM

February 21, 2009

Quote of the Day

A(n) hearty and heartfelt heh to Professor Glenn Reynolds. He links to an article about Senators Chris Dodd and Chuck Schumer's disconnect with the people and causes they claim to champion. Reynolds adds:

Yeah, it’s almost like they’re two-faced weasels or something.

QOTD, score!

The linked article, curiously, is a paean for more government attention to poverty. It disparages "Gingrich-Clinton Welfare Reform" and calls for the good old days of LBJ when government cared about poverty (and Bill Moyers was roaming the halls looking for gay Republicans to destroy). It seems like a long journey for one nasty quote about Schumer and Dodd, but the decision of the judges is final.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:11 PM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

jk makes the classic blog mistake, forgetting link != endorsement. Reynolds responds to an email and sez "I thought it was interesting that they were getting hit on this from the left, too."

Posted by: jk at February 21, 2009 3:53 PM

February 20, 2009


ALG News reported, mistakenly, that the new CIA Director, Leon Panetta, had a daughter that was associated with the dictators of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, and of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega. In fact, as reported by Accuracy in Media, Mr. Panetta has no daughter. ALG News would like to apologize to Mr. Panetta for erroneously reporting this in error. -- Americans for Limited Government
John Gibson Did Not Compare Eric Holder To Monkey With Bright Blue Scrotum -- HuffPo
Any more questions?

Oh Canada!

A light snack for the weekend.

But jk thinks:

Awe. Some.

Born in Canada, eh? Can't be president? Amendment time.

Posted by: jk at February 20, 2009 4:33 PM

The System That Doesn't Choose Phil Gramm for President is Flawed

Senator Gramm tells the truth so much he can't even be an economic advisor to a presidential campaign. But my first choice for President has a great guest editorial in the WSJ today:

I believe that a strong case can be made that the financial crisis stemmed from a confluence of two factors. The first was the unintended consequences of a monetary policy, developed to combat inventory cycle recessions in the last half of the 20th century, that was not well suited to the speculative bubble recession of 2001. The second was the politicization of mortgage lending.
As Mr. Greenspan testified last October at a hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, "It's instructive to go back to the early stages of the subprime market, which has essentially emerged out of CRA." It was not just that CRA and federal housing policy pressured lenders to make risky loans -- but that they gave lenders the excuse and the regulatory cover.

Countrywide Financial Corp. cloaked itself in righteousness and silenced any troubled regulator by being the first mortgage lender to sign a HUD "Declaration of Fair Lending Principles and Practices." Given privileged status by Fannie Mae as a reward for "the most flexible underwriting criteria," it became the world's largest mortgage lender -- until it became the first major casualty of the financial crisis.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 1:40 PM | What do you think? [4]
But johngalt thinks:

I intended to post the latest Thomas Sowell column 'Upside Down Economics' today but this Phil Graham piece goes a bit further, though not explaining in detail how the CRA became so powerful. Yes, congress passed and President Carter signed the Community Reinvestment Act in 1977 but the law directed federal agencies to "encourage" lenders to make minority and low-income loans "consistent with the safe and sound operation of such institutions." It wasn't until Clinton's HUD imposed data reporting requirements, and quotas to go along with them, that the "safe and sound operation" idea took a back seat to political pressure. So the fault lies with President Clinton as much or more than Carter.

It's also worth noting that these political pressures continued under Bush's HUD, at least according to Sowell.

Posted by: johngalt at February 20, 2009 3:25 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I also greatly appreciated Gramm's treatment of the "deregulation" argument:

"In reality the financial "deregulation" of the last two decades has been greatly exaggerated. As the housing crisis mounted, financial regulators had more power, larger budgets and more personnel than ever. And yet, with the notable exception of Mr. Greenspan's warning about the risk posed by the massive mortgage holdings of Fannie and Freddie, regulators seemed unalarmed as the crisis grew. There is absolutely no evidence that if financial regulators had had more resources or more authority that anything would have been different."

But then, this was only "in reality."

Posted by: johngalt at February 20, 2009 3:30 PM
But jk thinks:

The New Obama World Order dictates that Senator Gramm actually caused the meltdown by sponsoring the repeal of Glass-Stegal. Sadly, I think he had to pen the piece to defend himself. Somebody (Newsweek? Slate?) recently listed the people responsible for the current crisis and had Gramm as #1. Some people really still get their news from sources like this.

Posted by: jk at February 20, 2009 4:38 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

Yup, I thought I was going to make an important and powerful contribution to 3 sources after reading this, but JK beat me to the post by a few minutes at least.

Sen. Gramm again sheds light where there is otherwise so much heat, and a general round of kudos to those here who are trying to do the same to this insanity sweeping our capital (OK, I get to post something called "Das Capital"; everyone else stay away!! as long as you can, at least). Thanks, you are helping me... at the very least my sanity!

Posted by: nanobrewer at February 22, 2009 11:43 PM

21st Century Paul Revere

I'm dubbing CNBC's Rick Santelli the Paul Revere of the 21st Century, and his clarion call is "The looters are coming! The looters are coming!"

Video here (You gotta see this!)

"Cuba used to have mansions and a relatively decent economy. They moved from the individual to the collective. Now they're drivin' '54 Chevys. Maybe the last great car to come out of Detroit."


"They're [floor traders on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange] pretty much of the notion that you can't buy your way to prosperity. And if the multiplier that all of these Washington economists are selling us is over one then we never have to worry about the economy again. The government should spend a trillion dollars an hour because we'll get 1.5 trillion back.


"If you read our founding fathers, people like Benjamin Franklin and Jefferson, what we're doing in this country now are just making them roll over in their graves."

The division is not over race, as AG Holder claimed, but over productivity. The "racism" charge is now merely a distraction. The new administration has contempt for anyone who can earn his own living through industriousness and productive effort. Instead they confiscate wealth from producers and lavish handouts upon the lazy and the corrupt. They are, in the truest sense of the term, looters. And they control the levers of power in the administrative branch of our government. We're about to see if the "separation of powers" model can withstand their assault on the Constitution.

But jk thinks:

Palin-Santelli 2012!

Posted by: jk at February 20, 2009 1:54 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

Here's another smackdown worth looking at.

Posted by: T. Greer at February 21, 2009 12:52 AM
But jk thinks:

Good one, tg. And by good I mean, of course, very bad. I love the line "...the Ebenezer Scrooge - Rick Santelli plan where we just let these people rot."

I think Chris Matthews is proof that the media rots your mind far worse than politics. He worked with Tip O'Neill and the leading lights of the Democratic party his whole life and came out well-reasoned, polite and practical. Ten years on MSNBC and he became a raving, frothing, hyper-partisan lunatic.

Sorry for the strong words but I'll stand by the comparison. A politician or advisor has to deal with opposition. Once you get your own show you are the law.

Posted by: jk at February 21, 2009 11:48 AM
But T. Greer thinks:

I love this guy. I have spent the last hour viewing youtube clips of the man, and I really think somone needs to make a Sentelli youtube channel.

Here are my favorites:

*Santelli Reams Liesman for Defending Bernake

*Rick Santelli on Market Intervension

*Santelli pissed off about the bailout

And yes, Chris Matthews is ridiculous. But honestly speaking, I think Santelli was the one who came off better there. For one, he never had to resort to asking who the other guy voted for.

Posted by: T. Greer at February 21, 2009 8:29 PM

White Man, Black Man, Talk About Race

Two days ago Eric Holder called America "a nation of cowards." AlexC captured the key point of the U.S. Attorney General's speech. Specifically, "...average Americans, simply do not talk enough with each other about race."

But these two average Americans have no compunction whatsoever discussing racial issues. Watch:

Neither of them looks particularly like a coward to me. Well, that 2nd white guy maybe...

February 19, 2009

Quote of the Day

If this story doesn't pull Attila out of retirement...

The brouhaha concerns Air-O-Matic of Florida, the maker of the popular "Pull My Finger" app, which claims the maker of rival "iFart Mobile" is misappropriating the phrase "pull my finger" in its advertisements. Such an assertion, according to iFart Mobile maker InfoMedia of Colorado, reeks of an misunderstanding of American fart culture.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:09 PM | What do you think? [0]

Gaming the Housing Plan

Tyler Cowen at Marginal Revolution wonders:

3. We should not be helping people stay in their homes if their mortgage payments are at 43 percent of their income. (The bill requires banks, in such cases, to lower interest rates until monthly payments are at 38 percent of income. The government then steps in to lower payments to 31 percent of income.) I don't feel moral outrage (although it is morally outrageous), I just don't think it is a good use of money. I also wonder how it works when your income is quite variable year to year. Are they sure there is no way to game this?

I'm no super smart business analyst or accountant, but here's how I would game this program.

It's not clear though if the "magic percentage" payments are pre or post tax.

I'm sole proprietor of my company, doing contract work.

For the sake of round-ish numbers, I make about $100,000 per year. My mortgage is $1666 / month, or $20,000 / year. 20% of my pre-tax income goes towards my home. Naturally, I pay taxes (patriotism and all), so it really becomes (assuming some deductions etc) $75,000 net, or 26% of my income toward my home.

If I incorporate my company, I could pay myself say $50,000 a year, taxed at something like 15 to 20%. Now my $20,000 / year mortgage payment becomes a more respectable 40% pre-tax or possibly approaching 50% after taxes.

Clearly, I would qualify for "help." The issue remains, however, on dealing with the other $50,000 I have made. S-Corps can't have money in the bank at the end of the year, and must pay it out as a dividend... at 15% at the end of the year.

C-Corps can, but they get hit with corporate taxes.

Again, I'm not a tax attorney or accountant, but I can easily see this system being gamed.

Easily... and perfectly legally.

But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Moral outrage and all that aside, this is a false economy. First of all, if you're a sole proprietor, then chances are you're an LLC. To be an S-corp or C-corp you must have at least three shareholders (two shareholders is a partnership). As an LLC, all gains/loss from business operations flow to your personal income tax whether your pay them to yourself or not. Obviously, the objective is to take as many beneficial business deductions as revenue and the law permit and to break even every year.

No sensible person would take a $50K hit in income to get a $7K housing subsidy. It's like taking an expense just so you can claim a tax deduction. Yeah, that's the ticket - pay $1 so that you can get 36 cents back (at the highest marginal rate, which very, very few people pay. For most folks it will be more like 20 cents back).

If you find anyone willing to pay a $1 to get 36 cents back, send 'em my way. We can do a lot of business and they won't have to wait until April 15.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at February 20, 2009 12:08 PM
But jk thinks:

As blog healer, I think I can bring ac and br together on this. The answer you're looking for is fraud. Yes, lie about your income, get false affidavits for mortgage costs -- now you can get the government benefits without any extra taxes or income.

You don't do fraud? Sorry 'bout that. But I'll bet you half the people who apply for relief on this new program committed fraud to get the loan they are now defaulting on. One good turn deserves another, n'est ce pas?

Posted by: jk at February 20, 2009 1:25 PM
But johngalt thinks:

jk - "But I'll bet you half the people who apply for relief on this new program committed fraud to get the loan they are now defaulting on."

I'll take that bet. It isn't fraud on the part of the borrower if the lender never asks for proof that you can repay the loan. The typical borrower believed, "If the bank will loan me the money then they must be confident I can pay them back." After all, isn't that what the thorough underwriting procedures banks used to follow had conditioned us to think? Back in the day, that is, when banks did things that made economic sense instead of what the government coerced them to.

Posted by: johngalt at February 20, 2009 1:55 PM
But jk thinks:

Game on, bro! But how will we settle it?

I contend that (50% + 1 of the) borrowers, at the very least, signed an underwriting document that stated that they had disclosed their income and obligations fairly and completely when they had not. And I surmise that most of that group committed outright malfeasance by knowingly overstating their income and possibly providing fraudulent documentation.

Predatory lenders, my ass. I see fraudulent borrowers with admittedly little incentive for enforcement from lenders.

Posted by: jk at February 20, 2009 2:08 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Do you not argue at cross purposes to your first choice for president Mr. Gramm, who said reckless lending practices were what made Countrywide Financial the world's largest mortgage lender?

But let me defuse the loggerheads we're at by explaining that I spoke of the "no-doc" loans that did not require ANY income statement, much less an accurate one. Can we agree that those required no borrower fraud?

Posted by: johngalt at February 20, 2009 5:33 PM
But jk thinks:

Yeah. I'm trying to remember -- I actually got one of those. I was restructuring debt through a start up and had ZERO income. And I got a loan. I remember thinking "what a country!"

Assuming there's small possibility of fraud (somebody else's social security number?) on no-doc, I'm still not ready to back off the idea that half the current troubled borrowers (the ones we are bailing out with Federal Jack) purposefully misrepresented income or expenses on their application.

I've got zero proof. I just keep hearing about these predatory lenders and remain convinced that the borrowers had a little more mens rea than the lenders. Then again, I'm a hopeless sop for business.

Posted by: jk at February 20, 2009 6:59 PM

Mankiw: President's Economic Team is 'Genius'

Well, sort of:

The expression "create or save," which has been used regularly by the President and his economic team, is an act of political genius. You can measure how many jobs are created between two points in time. But there is no way to measure how many jobs are saved. Even if things get much, much worse, the President can say that there would have been 4 million fewer jobs without the stimulus.

But johngalt thinks:

In a radio interview yesterday Congressman Jared Polis (D - CO 2nd district) said, "If the economy recovers in one or two years I'd be completely in support of paring down some of the additional spending authorized further down the road under this bill." (I'm paraphrasing)

I took this to be the first hint of how Democrat congressmen plan to stay in office in '10: If the economy is still "bad" they get to continue spending anyway just like FDR did. If it's doing well enough that they can't justify the continuation of deficit spending then they campaign on "reigning it in." Either way they position themselves as the "responsible" party that will keep things on the "right track."

Posted by: johngalt at February 19, 2009 1:38 PM
But jk thinks:

HEY -- that's my brave new Democratic backbencher now that my last Democratic backbencher got kicked upstairs into the Senate!

Yes, they'll keep their hands on the tiller and control the world economy, always knowing and doing the right thing at the right time. They are government and have all those special powers and insight.

Posted by: jk at February 19, 2009 4:22 PM

Mister Toomey, Come Home We Need You...

No opponents yet for the primary or general, yet John Fund reports that Senator Specter (RINO - PA) is vulnerable for his betrayal on the stimulus bill:

But a new Rasmussen Reports poll shows that Republicans are finding his vote for the stimulus not at all palatable. A full 69% of Pennsylvania Republicans opposed the package, and independents are evenly divided on its merits. Only Democrats are enthusiastic, with 73% in favor. All of that means that 40% of voters are less likely to support Mr. Specter because of his vote versus only 31% who are more likely. Worse, in a Republican primary, a full 58% of party loyalists say the stimulus bill would make them less likely to back the five-term incumbent.

111th Congress Posted by John Kranz at 12:23 PM | What do you think? [2]
But AlexC thinks:

Mr Toomey is looking toward the Governor's mansion.

I dont see anyone seriously posing a primary threat to Mr Specter.

As a result of the pro-Bama switch in Pa voter registration, the Pa GOP electorate is far more "Republican" than ever. A good candidate could take it easily.

Posted by: AlexC at February 19, 2009 12:58 PM
But jk thinks:

You're 30, aren't you?

AL-ex, AL-ex, AL-ex!

Posted by: jk at February 19, 2009 4:41 PM

The People's Stimulus

This has been going around for a week or so, but I have been thinking a little more on it and this idea ages well.

First, with apologies to women and serious thinkers, I need to dispel the elephant in the room. There are economists and there are supermodels, but Ms. Muccio is the rare woman with a Jimmy Choo firmly planted in both camps. What is it about George Mason that attracts such brilliant, free market faculty and now this?

Second, the idea of a short payroll tax holiday is not new, but the idea of a year's exemption has some political and economic advantages. Political in that this shifts the burden from the regressive payroll tax to the sharply progressive income tax. No "tax cuts for the rich" arguments. Economically, there is zero dead-weight loss, it can start next Monday if our benighted Congress so wanted. And a full year of higher paychecks would provide confidence to consumers and real relief to employers, pari-passu with their employment rolls.

And yet it is highly palatable to me, because it would give workers an incredible taste of freedom. As it eclipsed, the Fair Tax folks would have an attentive audience. Plus, if we are going to "stimulate" what better way than to let people spend their own money? No new government programs, no new baseline spending.

That -- of course -- is why it could never be. Less power, less government control, a taste of freedom. We can't have that.

Insty also links to an interview with Ms. Muccio, though I confess she is more impressive in her own YouTube piece.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:18 AM | What do you think? [0]

February 18, 2009

We Are All Cowards, Now

Racial healing!

Catch the Fever!

First black Attorney General, appointed by the first black President, Eric Holder:

"Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards. Though race-related issues continue to occupy a significant portion of our political discussion, and though there remain many unresolved racial issues in this nation, we, average Americans, simply do not talk enough with each other about race."


But jk thinks:

I find myself afraid of "The Man." You?

Posted by: jk at February 19, 2009 11:29 AM

If we found one, we could see.

murtha_200.jpg NPR actually notices a "Culture of Corruption" in the 111th.

Hat-tip: Instapundit

It's like being there

Videos from the Denver rally.

UPDATE: Mondo-heh. Instapundit reader Fred LaSor: “Did you notice who was NOT at the Denver Taxpayers’ Protest? Tim Geithner. ‘Cause he’s not a taxpayer?”

Posted by John Kranz at 1:01 PM | What do you think? [0]

Fix the Fence

Three contractors are bidding to fix a broken fence at the White
House. One is from Chicago, another is from Tennessee, and the third is from

All three go with a White House official to examine the fence. The
Minnesota contractor takes out a tape measure and does some measuring, then
works some figures with a pencil. "Well," he says, "I figure the job will
run about $900: $400 for materials, $400 for my crew and $100 profit for

The Tennessee contractor also does some measuring and figuring, then
says, "I can do this job for $700: $300 for materials, $300 for my crew
and $100 profit for me."

The Chicago contractor doesn't measure or figure, but leans over to
the White House official and whispers, "$2,700."

The official, incredulous, says, "You didn't even measure like the
other guys! How did you come up with such a high figure?"

The Chicago contractor whispers back, "$1000 for me, $1000 for you,
and we hire the guy from Tennessee to fix the fence."

"Done!" replies the government official.

And that, my friends, is how the new stimulus plan will work.

Hat tip: johngalt's Kansas uncle

Humor Posted by JohnGalt at 12:08 AM | What do you think? [0]

February 17, 2009

Coloradans against Socialist Pork

President Obama flew the Executive Armada 1600 miles west today so that he could sign his 'Christmas for Democrats' bill in a Denver museum with solar PV panels on the roof. (Yawn.) I drove 28 miles south to add my voice to those who said it is a dark day for our nation.

We arrived late so the only good clip I got was this closing statement by Jon Caldera. We missed hearing Michelle Malkin and Tom Tancredo. But Michelle (who I just learned has recently moved to Denver) has a good clip at the bottom of this post on her site that fills in what we missed.

I also got some good photos:


(more below)







But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Hey, you're defacing a picture of The One! How dare you ruin an image of the Beast whom people are supposed to worship!


Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at February 18, 2009 10:19 AM
But jk thinks:

I'm glad you went. I read about it about 1130am yesterday and didn't think I could get there in time. I wish I had known at 10.

Posted by: jk at February 18, 2009 11:51 AM

Quote of the Day

Woman of the people, Alexandra Pelosi, releases a new documentary that shows slack-jawed, inbred, bible-thumpin' conservatives are more partisan that ever. Yet she doesn't quite get her subjects:

Respectfully, I wanted to say to them, I live on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. I am on the winning side of capitalism. I work for HBO, corporate America. The Man has been good to me. You, on the other hand, are driving a truck that says, "Obama is a socialist idiot," and you're in a much lower tax bracket than most of the people in Manhattan that are voting for Obama. So the times I would actually get into it would be like, "OK, explain to me why you think he's an idiot. He's trying to give you a tax cut. You understand you're voting against your own self-interest?"

Glad she said "Respectfully," aren't you?

UPDATE: Changed Andrea to Alexandra, sorry for any confusion. Yes, this is Speaker Pelosi's Daughter.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 1:24 PM | What do you think? [1]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Idiot [censored anatomical reference] like Pelosi are the ultimate form of hypocrisy and arrogance. She has an ostensibly good job (for all we know she's some secretary or lackey, and the male in her life is the real breadwinner), so therefore she thinks it's fine to redistribute everyone else's wealth. Like Soros and Buffett, who cares what Obama does, they can afford it!

I'm on the "winning side of capitalism," if you want to call this garbage of an economy "capitalist," and I oppose Obama and all other socialist idiots.

How about this, to take straight from what Walter Williams said: let her keep what she earns and spend it on whatever she wants, and let the poor proletariat do the same with their own money. But that would destroy the self-anointed "social messiah" roles that Obama, Nancy Pelosi and this Pelosi have set up for themselves.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at February 17, 2009 1:34 PM

February 16, 2009

Here's Hoping


From our friends at PA Water Cooler

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 7:57 PM | What do you think? [0]

February 15, 2009

Crying for a Long Tail

Joss Whedon/Eliza Dushkus's new show Dollhouse has had a few of what Robert Johnson called "Stones in my Passway." The week it was announced, the writer's strike hit.

Worse, from those who know more than me, the show got scheduled on -- shield the kiddies' eyes here -- Friday night! Galley Slave Jonathan V. Last announced the Friday Night schedule as conclusive proof that the show was dead before beginning. The idea is that Sarah Connor goes to Friday for one last ultra-geek season before dying and that Dollhouse is strangled in the cradle.

I don't know how this works and I am tempted to accept my Buffy-sire's judgement. What struck me as sad is that the Whedon blog site spends the next day discussing ratings and things you can do to promote the show. A few posts down, it is noted that Dollhouse premiers five years after the news that Angel was canceled (also Friday the 13th).

I read a piece last week that suggested one or more of the broadcast networks will likely go to cable in the next few years, trading the certainty of the subscription model for the revenue opportunity for a big hit. Blow your gales through this model, Mr. Schumpeter -- it is broke! The viewers are in save-our-show mode the day it's out, viewership is down, revenues are down. There has got to be a better way to run a railroad. I still imagine a subscription for a network or small group of networks and wonder that Whedon fans wouldn't just pony up $49 for a season of his newest show, licensed to watch new episodes live and owning a digital copy at the end like Amazon Unbox.

Since nobody else is talking about the actual show, how 'bout it? Did anybody see it? I think the show has potential and I am anxious to see where it goes. There was a lot to take in in one episode.

On the down side, I was less pleased with the latest Sarah Connor Chronicles. I have been warming up to this show over the last season or so and if last night represents the start of a super-scifi-geeked-out denouement, color me unconvinced. Good SciFi enables an astonishing pretext to view un-astonishing human behavior (Cameron and the tortoise was magical). Attempting the special effects of the Terminator movie grabs me a lot less.

Joint promos with Summer Glau and Eliza Dushku were worth the price of admission. Whedon geeks were treated to a great reunion of Buffy and Angel characters that even extends into the previous show (don't forget Glau was the ballerina in "Waiting in the Wings" before she was in Firefly). I haven't liked anything since Angel and I find myself getting hooked on a few current programs. I watched three Seasons of "Heroes" in two months just in time for the new episodes; "Eureka" is good but I will have to buy it now if comes back on; and cautions optimism on Terminator: Sarah Conner Chronicles and Dollhouse.

UPDATE: I'm going to back off my Terminator Criticism. I watched it again and found much to like. Ms. Weaver's extendo-knives® didn't do it for me, but the plotline took some well defined turns.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 11:45 AM | What do you think? [5]
But nanobrewer thinks:

I've been reading here sporadically for a year or two, and had no idea of JK's passion for forward looking dramatech (my own word; most of Joss Whedon's work isn't quite Sci-Fi). Lest there be doubt, I am also a big fan of Whedon. Some day, I'll catch up on all those missed Buffy episodes... some day when I'm in the mood for the post 3rd season darkness... 'nuff said for now.

My reason for posting is to inquire as to why isn't there a CAT listing for either Sci-Fi or Joss Whedon? It seems like JK could surely fill a category up with interesting details (as alluded to in this post).

Posted by: nanobrewer at February 17, 2009 10:04 AM
But jk thinks:

Categories are pretty ad hoc around here. You'd think the corporate boys in Cleveland would issue a standard or something...

I'm the Buffy guy and have some strong support among the commentariat. But the show we all agree on is Firefly. It is not only a great show, it also fits with our passion for freedom. We talked at length when the Serenity movie came out, a category page to capture it would have been nice.

Terri linked to this on her blog, I Think ^(Link) Therefore I Err.

Never invite a blogger to share personal feelings unless you have time to spare, but I had no idea that I was a dramatech (nice term) fan. Buffy snuck up on me -- I read so much about the show on political blogs, I had to check it out. Then, total darkness until Eureka, now I find myself watching Sarah Connor. I read a little SciFi but not a lot, I missed the whole Star-Trek thing, I wasn't a comic book guy.

It's like some latent pod was planted in me by an alien being when I was young that was recently activated by the mothership or something...

Posted by: jk at February 17, 2009 11:19 AM
But nanobrewer thinks:

We talked at length when "Serenity" came out
Sorry I missed that. I wouldn't have much to offer, since with young-uns still toddling about we almost never got to a theater. I watched that NF disc probably 3-4 times and River's dance of death over 10 times!

It is is my top 10 of SF films (instapundit had it at #1), perhaps top 5 but I'd have to revisit that list some day.

dramatech: glad you like it, feel free to use it. TechDrama is perhaps more accurate but this slips trippingly from the tongue, I think.

I did like Buffy as well. Mostly the sharp repartee, and a bit of fun over high schoolers mostly dealing in a very mature fashion over the save the world/homework tonight? dilemma. H.Potter would approve. I recall asking some teeanagers about the show, once. Their "ooh, that's soo stooopid!!" made me think: Joss got it just about right

Posted by: nanobrewer at February 18, 2009 11:28 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Let me slip in a Serenity comment that never made the prior discussion because it took a while for it to gestate in my head:

Did anyone else pick up an intentional suggestion that Mal would have become a Riever if he'd lived on Miranda during the "experiment?" Mal's vengeful reaction to the operative's murderous tactics (and his character in general) tell me that he wouldn't have been one to "just lay down" had his mind been chemically manipulated. The same qualities which make him a decisive martial leader were presumably what caused the Rievers to go berserk when do-gooders tried to make the whole of the population more "civilized."

Perhaps this was obvious to everyone else and I'm just slow, but when I suggested it to dagny she didn't agree that it was intended.

Posted by: johngalt at February 19, 2009 1:30 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

Sorry JG, I didn't see that implication, since there was no discussion as to how "the others" (aka, those who became Reivers) got there as opposed to just laying down in the sheep dip.

Certainly Mal was on fire in this movie, and Nate smoldered oh so well during Firefly. No, if there were any implication that Mal's personality was amenable, then surely Zoe would have been tagged as well.

Posted by: nanobrewer at February 21, 2009 1:46 AM

February 13, 2009

Is Obama Mencken's Electoral "Ideal?"

From wikiquote:

H. L. Mencken in the Baltimore Sun (26 July 1920)

When a candidate for public office faces the voters he does not face men of sense; he faces a mob of men whose chief distinguishing mark is the fact that they are quite incapable of weighing ideas, or even of comprehending any save the most elemental — men whose whole thinking is done in terms of emotion, and whose dominant emotion is dread of what they cannot understand. So confronted, the candidate must either bark with the pack or be lost... All the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre — the man who can most adeptly disperse the notion that his mind is a virtual vacuum.' The Presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.

Every word of this seems a perfect depiction of the 2008 campaign and its result.

We still have the better part of four years to see if the current president is Mencken's "lofty ideal" personified. Something tells me we won't have to wait that long to find out.

Philosophy Posted by JohnGalt at 7:20 PM | What do you think? [1]
But Chris Schandevel thinks:

Great post! I really enjoy reading your blog. Keep up the good work.

I recently started a new blog that will be highlighting the dangerous advances of the secular progressive movement (pro-gay “rights”, pro-abortion, anti-religious freedoms, etc).

We’re looking to build a solid group of conservatives who’ll frequent our site regularly and contribute to some good discussions. The site gets updated daily with breaking news, so you’ll want to check back often, or you can just sign up for our News">http://religionandmorality.wordpress.com/feed/>News Feed.

If you’ll add us to your blogroll we’ll gladly add you to ours. Our blog is called Religion and Morality.


Posted by:
Chris Schandevel at February 14, 2009 4:12 PM

The Good Thing About The Stimulus

No, I don't have one. But several proponents have suggested that it is absolutely devoid of earmarks.

Umm, isn't that because the whole *&^%@! thing is earmarks? It's the first ever all-earmark bill. An earmark would be redundant.

Posted by John Kranz at 7:14 PM | What do you think? [0]

Runaway Train

Rapid passage of the Reid-Pelosi-Obama "Stimulus" Bill, H.R. 1, is apparently too important to wait for even a reading of the 1100 page text - even by the congressmen who are compelled to cast their votes! Those voting "Aye" have apparently already made up their minds and are disinclined to know what was changed in Conference Committee. For example:

"We also are getting press reports that there is a plus-up - I think $8 billion - in the high-speed rail account. We also know from further press reports that Leader Harry Reid is looking at a train to Vegas and that's what he wants to see out of the stimulus bill... Again, that's exactly the kind of waste and pork-barrel spending that the American people are sick and tired of and expect a lot more," he [House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA)] added.

I heard Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) say that the Vegas rail line, a maglev type, is projected to cost $10 million PER MILE and that a private partnership had already invested millions in a conventional rail link between the same points that would now be at serious competitive disadvantage. He used the word 'bankrupt" to describe the effect on the private effort, "with the stroke of a politician's pen."

But the house vote was rushed through a mere 10 hours after the bill was finalized. This despite a unanimous agreement to allow 48 hours to read the bill prior to consideration and voting. The 48-hour review provision was reportedly one of the measures that was stripped in conference.

The following statement was released by Majority Leader Steny Hoyer at 4:57 p.m.:

"The House is scheduled to meet at 9:00 a.m. tomorrow and is expected to proceed directly to consideration of the American Recovery and Reinvestment conference report. The conference report text will be filed this evening, giving members enough time to review the conference report before voting on it tomorrow afternoon."

(The text was released at 11 pm.)

President Obama promised "change." In his Inaugural Speech he said,

"And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account, to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day, because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government."

I suppose that the 3 hours between 6 and 9 am qualifies as "the light of day."

All the Stimulus We Need

What's it take to process a visa, say $500? Here's a foolproof stimulus plan for $10 Billion:

Leave it to a brainy Indian to come up with the cheapest and surest way to stimulate our economy: immigration.

"All you need to do is grant visas to two million Indians, Chinese and Koreans," said Shekhar Gupta, editor of The Indian Express newspaper. "We will buy up all the subprime homes. We will work 18 hours a day to pay for them. We will immediately improve your savings rate — no Indian bank today has more than 2 percent nonperforming loans because not paying your mortgage is considered shameful here. And we will start new companies to create our own jobs and jobs for more Americans."

While his tongue was slightly in cheek, Gupta and many other Indian business people I spoke to this week were trying to make a point that sometimes non-Americans can make best: "Dear America, please remember how you got to be the wealthiest country in history. It wasn’t through protectionism, or state-owned banks or fearing free trade. No, the formula was very simple: build this really flexible, really open economy, tolerate creative destruction so dead capital is quickly redeployed to better ideas and companies, pour into it the most diverse, smart and energetic immigrants from every corner of the world and then stir and repeat, stir and repeat, stir and repeat, stir and repeat."

This comes -- mirabile dictu -- from Thomas Friedman of the NYTimes, via Don Luskin who is equally surprised.

Posted by John Kranz at 6:30 PM | What do you think? [6]
But Keith thinks:

Dang. That's brilliant. I will write a check right now to underwrite this guy's passport, and there's a foreclosure on my block that I'd love him to move into, that's almost sure to go short. I'll bet a nickel he'd be a better neighbor than the tribe living there now. I'd probably have my $500 investment back in a week, and my block and my economy will be that much better.

Okay, I'm doing my part, jk. Now go find 1,999,999 other Americans to sign up, and we'll have saved America. Get to it, man; chop-chop.

Like they say in the beer commercials: "Brilliant!"

Posted by: Keith at February 13, 2009 7:07 PM
But jk thinks:

We don't need 1,999,999 Americans. We need three Republican Senators.

Posted by: jk at February 13, 2009 7:10 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Three? Do I hear one? Going, going...

Posted by: johngalt at February 13, 2009 7:42 PM
But jk thinks:

Senator Judd Gregg (R - NH). Kudlow agrees

Seriously, aside from the three RINOs, I am prouder of the Congressional Republicans than I have been since '94.

Posted by: jk at February 13, 2009 8:14 PM
But Keith thinks:

Too true - though people like Specter and Snowe, technically speaking, are Republicans. That label simply doesn't mean a heck of a lot. But the recent testicular fortitude of a goodly number of the elected ones besides them have been giving me hope.

May it continue for the next four years!

Posted by: Keith at February 13, 2009 9:09 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

How about this: 10 million Filipinos. Don't worry about paying for they'll pay their way. They'll come crammed into a cargo ship's hold, if need be.

We have a shortage of nurses in this country, and tens of thousands of excellent nurses in the Philippines who'd come here and work like hell for half of what Americans are getting. But that's the real issue, isn't it? Most Americans aren't really xenophobic, just fearful of competition.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at February 16, 2009 3:48 PM

But, they are Serious

The Stimulus bill has passed the House (score another goose-egg for GOP votes -- yes!)

But I wish the Democrats read The Everyday Economist. ThreeSources friend Josh Hendrickson has a great piece detailing how far the debate has devolved. Jonathan Chait and some TV Xtreme Keynesians are caught suggesting that wasteful spending is stumulus.

This is indeed at the core of the debate. Those who argue that wasteful spending will jump-start the economy are either disingenuous or simply do not understand how wealth is created. Wealth is not created by turning on the printing presses and handing individuals checks for a worthless day’s work. On the contrary, that is how wealth is destroyed!

Gotta read the whole thing.

Posted by John Kranz at 3:38 PM | What do you think? [0]

"Our Margaret"

SugarChuck and I used to exchange emails about "Our Margaret," by which we meant Peggy Noonan, years ago when I only feared that she was going off the deep end. I've said it 100 times, but her book on Reagan "What I Saw at the Revolution" is one of the greatest political books ever. Her lyrical columns on post-9-11 America still stand strong. Her writings on Catholicism, the Pope, and the miracle of Guadalupe got me as close to "my childhood's faith" as anything.

But she has become the Wall Street Journal's Helen Thomas! I usually avoid her column entirely, but the new Murdoch-approved format makes it more difficult. Today, she opens with the savage, atavistic elitism which first alerted me to a problem:

A moment last Monday, just after noon, in Manhattan. It's slightly overcast, not cold, a good day for walking. I'm in the 90s on Fifth heading south, enjoying the broad avenue, the trees, the wide cobblestone walkway that rings Central Park. Suddenly I realize: Something's odd here. Something's strange. It's quiet. I can hear each car go by. The traffic's not an indistinct roar. The sidewalks aren't full, as they normally are. It's like a holiday, but it's not, it's the middle of a business day in February. I thought back to two weeks before when a friend and I zoomed down Park Avenue at evening rush hour in what should have been bumper-to-bumper traffic.

Now admit it -- if you heard such Upper-West-Side blather on NPR you'd grab for a barf bag. Decades-old Reagan cred does not make it okay. Then, the heart of the story is how that horrible woman who had all those damned kids!
What we fear we're making more of these days is Nadya Suleman. The dizzy, selfish, self-dramatizing 33-year-old mother who had six small children and then a week ago eight more because, well, she always wanted a big family. "Suley" doubletalks with the best of them, she doubletalks with profound ease. She is like Blago without the charm. She had needs and took proactive steps to meet them, and those who don't approve are limited, which must be sad for them. She leaves anchorwomen slack-jawed: How do you rough up a woman who's still lactating? She seems aware of their predicament.

I have not encountered "The Octomom." I do find it very easy to avoid things like that (are we into blue-horse territory here?) but Noonan's revulsions speaks more about Noonan than Suleman. Like Governor Palin, this is a woman who is on television and yet is completely unknown at fasionable cocktail parties. Quel Horror!

Taking about the same amount of virtual newsprint, as usual on Fridays, is Kim Strassel's smart, well reasoned piece on the politics of the stimulus. It should embarrass somebody to publish them side by side.

But nanobrewer thinks:

I've felt the same for several years now, nearly to a T. Her past columns were tremendous and moving, esp. right after the passing of Reagan. Her post 9-11 posts were chilling and bracing with barely-contained rage and resolve.

I've just stopped reading her. I hope she improves, or she'll be consigned to a bad-poetry-on-NPR-weekends gig. I'm getting the feeling at times from Mr. Will as well, and generally don't read him either. Young guns, as Hugh Hewitt suggests, is where we need to spend our time and effort.

I don't know if you guys are young or not, but you make me feel like I am!

Posted by: nanobrewer at February 13, 2009 4:44 PM
But jk thinks:

Yup. Mister Will is many furlongs down that road as well.

Thanks for the kind words and welcome to ThreeSources (love the handle!) I think I am the oldest around here and I graduated high school when Jimmy Carter was President.

Posted by: jk at February 13, 2009 4:57 PM

Good News

In fact, the bottom line is that, historically, the problems that technology has addressed have gotten solved, and the ones that were dependent on politics and so forth have not. -- J Storrs Hall

As governments continue to disappoint, never never forget that human innovation pulls us up. Phil Bowermaster provides a Friday the 13th/Valentine's Day edition of "Better All the Time." Whole Read Thing Must You, Yoda.

Awesome, awesome, uplifting stuff -- Hat-tip: Instapundit

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 12:41 PM | What do you think? [0]

This is too funny!

Reason Magazine's personal stimulus generator.

Mine. (Title III, Subtitle A)

Hat-tip: Beloved goddaughter on Facebook.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:52 AM | What do you think? [0]

February 12, 2009

Gregg Withdraws!

I've been down and despondent on the blog of late. Gotta take good news when it comes:

WASHINGTON – Republican Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire abruptly withdrew his nomination as commerce secretary Thursday, citing "irresolvable conflicts" with President Barack Obama's handling of the economic stimulus and 2010 census.
"We are functioning from a different set of views on many critical items of policy," Gregg said in a statement released by his Senate office.

Gregg is needed in the Senate. (President in '12? anybody?) Besides, he probably paid his taxes and is unfit for the Administration.

But Keith thinks:

Goodness - between good Senator Gregg's rebuke to Obama and the Nullification Crisis issue below, I'd say New Hampshire is becoming feisty, in a patriotic way. I just MAY have to add the Granite State to the short list of candidates for my next home.

Kudos to Gregg and the citizens of his great state. This proud Carolina boy in California salutes you all -

Posted by: Keith at February 12, 2009 6:07 PM
But jk thinks:

LIVE FREE OR DIE! What else would you need to know to choose a home in the Granite State. Sadly, the invaders have come up Rte 128 for a few years and the state is not politically what it uster be.

There used to be a meme around Libertarians to all move there as the population was small enough to create a big-L majority (then invade Vermont, as Governor Dean took away their guns and their will to live). Reading the Manchester Union Leader, there's a receptive population there to begin with.

Posted by: jk at February 12, 2009 6:48 PM

Nullification Crisis

Good friend of this blog, T. C. Calhoun, sends a link to a Resolution in the New Hampshire Statehouse:

A RESOLUTION affirming States;; rights based on Jeffersonian principles.

That any Act by the Congress of the United States, Executive Order of the President of the United States of America or Judicial Order by the Judicatories of the United States of America which assumes a power not delegated to the government of United States of America by the Constitution for the United States of America and which serves to diminish the liberty of the any of the several States or their citizens shall constitute a nullification of the Constitution for the United States of America by the government of the United States of America. Acts which would cause such a nullification include, but are not limited to:

Good fun and all. Few are more fervent believers in the Ninth Amendment than I. But I have been immersed in the antebellum presidencies of late and nullification is a dirty word to me.
[A]t the April 13, 1830, banquet commemorating Jefferson's birthday. The event was a longstanding tradition among congressional Republicans, but the recent use of Jefferson's writings to justify nullification imbued the 1830 celebration with particular significance. Warned in advance by Van Buren that several "nullifiers" were expected to attend, the president and his advisers carefully scripted his remarks. After the meal, and an interminable series of toasts, Jackson rose to offer his own: "Our Union. It must be preserved." Calhoun was well prepared with an explosive rejoinder: "The Union. Next to our liberty, the most dear." Jackson had the last word a few days later, when he asked a South Carolina congressman about to depart for home to "give my compliments to my friends in your State, and say to them, that if a single drop of blood shall be shed there in opposition to the laws of the United States, I will hang the first man I can lay my hand on engaged in such treasonable conduct, upon the first tree I can reach."

As blog pragmatist, however, put me down with (then SecState) Van Buren:
A third toast was given that night; it went unheeded and was all but forgotten. Yet the voice of moderation and reconciliation was also present at that dinner party. The third toast, offered by a polished, rotund little Dutchman from the Hudson River Valley, came while the tension of the exchange between Jackson and Calhoun was still in the air. Secretary of State Martin Van Buren drew himself erect and proclaimed: "Mutual forbearance and reciprocal concessions. Through their agency our Union was founded. The patriotic spirit from which they emanated will forever sustain it."

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 4:30 PM | What do you think? [10]
But jk thinks:

No, tg, not fair at all. It also contravenes my policy of not sharing an emailer's identity without permission. Apologies all around.

But -- and this is important -- I thought it was funny and that it sounded good.

It is an interesting topic and I was expecting to be the only ThreeSourcer not rooting for secession. We're a millenarian lot around here and most seem ready to shake up the board and start over. I was eking out a contrarian position that I have not had to defend.

To be fair: Calhoun, bless his pea-pickin' little heart, was far more faithful to the founder's intent than was President Jackson. You'd need a heart of stone to not appreciate our seventh President but he did invent the Imperial Presidency I so dislike.

Thanks for the Webster quote, I second it. I find it funny that Webster and Calhoun were bookends in President Tyler's Spinal Tap-drummers-esque progression of SecStates. That's Hope and Change to believe in.

Posted by: jk at February 13, 2009 11:12 AM
But Keith thinks:

T. Greer and jk: well-reasoned and well-received statements on both your counts. I'm actually pleased that my own questions didn't turn out to be the basis for a flame war - I envision that in a lot of venues, it would have, but cooler heads prevail here.

TG, the Webster quotation is on point, and it highlights the risk that HCR6 brings up: it's a message that says to the Federal government, "you're exceeding your rightful bounds; back off, or else." The problem arises when the Federal government ignores it. What then does New Hampshire do? The choices are to acquiesce, or to revolt. Webster is right, there are no other choices.

Ideally, I think all of us agree that we'd want the Federal government to wake up and decide to return to original principles, restore the power to govern back to the States, and so on. I don't think any of us believe that will happen.

Posted by: Keith at February 13, 2009 11:47 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

TG, it is the right and duty of anyone, whether a private citizen or government official, to nullify a bad law. Where do you think government power comes from? Is it not from the consent of the governed, as Jefferson wrote? Bastiat expanded on this later on, explaining that for this reason, government cannot do anything (legitimately) that private individuals cannot do. Therefore a government cannot exercise legitimate power if it does not have the consent.

Jefferson, if you bother to check his first inaugural address, was supportive of the idea that states may secede. That's where we get his "error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it" quote. Jefferson and Madison, in fact, wrote the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions as the states' methods of nullifying the clearly tyrannical Alien and Sedition Acts.

Resolved, That the several States composing, the United States of America, are not united on the principle of unlimited submission to their general government; but that, by a compact under the style and title of a Constitution for the United States, and of amendments thereto, they constituted a general government for special purposes — delegated to that government certain definite powers, reserving, each State to itself, the residuary mass of right to their own self-government; and that whensoever the general government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force: that to this compact each State acceded as a State, and is an integral part, its co-States forming, as to itself, the other party: that the government created by this compact was not made the exclusive or final judge of the extent of the powers delegated to itself; since that would have made its discretion, and not the Constitution, the measure of its powers; but that, as in all other cases of compact among powers having no common judge, each party has an equal right to judge for itself, as well of infractions as of the mode and measure of redress.
Now what did the original colonies do but secede from Great Britain? Should they have waited for Parliament and English judges, or were they in fact correct to take back their God-given rights using whatever force was necessary?

Think about what you're saying: you're arguing that judging a law must be left up to a judiciary, which oftentimes has been corrupt or wholly mistaken. Never mind the decisions against Kelo and Raich. Need I remind you of our highest court ruling that Dred Scott was property and not a human being?

So as I have said before, just because something is "the law" does not mean it is moral or correct. Just because someone is called "Your Honor" does not mean he is the sole decider of what is moral or correct, or "constitutional."

You said, "the judiciary is the one body who is to lawfully judge the constitutionality of the government's actions." According to whom? I never said so. The Constitution does not explicitly say so. Yet you and most Americans seem to accept the Marbury v. Madison decision without question, which was merely the SCOTUS giving itself a power that it was never explicitly given.

The concept of "jury nullification" -- jurors ruling on the law -- used to be a time-honored principle. It wasn't just an American one, but an English one that predated the Constitution's ratification by over two centuries. That is the reliable method to judge the government's actions. "Assemble" and "petition" all you want, but if the people have no power to overturn any bad part of government, then it's no less than tyranny. The government might be as "democratic" as could be, which is no contradiction, because democracy is a form of tyranny.

My family has had police barge into our home on the basis of pure hearsay. There was no suspicion of a crime, let alone probable cause or a warrant. It would have been our right to shoot down the bastards, then try and convict their supervisor as the mastermind of the crime, as is proper to do with any other criminal. And they were certainly criminals, regardless of what badge they sported, because they violated our rights.

I have been threatened by a judge whose friend was suing me. The ruling was eventually in my favor, because I brought up a solid point of law the judge couldn't contradict. If it had gone against me, however, it would have been my right to defend my person and property as I saw fit. Even now, with the judge in a higher office and as corrupt as ever, it would be the right of "the people" to march upon his office and hang him from the nearest suitable tree branch.

You need to read my piece that distinguishes between justice and law, for they are not the same. If justice is pursued and achieved outside the bounds of "the law," then so be it. Justice is the highest pursuit of government, not "compliance" with whatever statutes are on the books.

For the record, this Yankee agrees that "The War of Southern Secession" is the proper name. I use "Civil War" only so people won't be confused.

JK, you say, "Yet I feel the Union provides benefits which outweigh her overbearance." That applies to many situations but in all applicable cases is true only to a certain extent. A wife might stay with an abusive husband because she has nowhere else to go and/or cannot support herself. The relationship between state governments and Washington went beyond that in the late 1850s, and that bastard tyrant Lincoln showed he was willing to shed the blood of hundreds of thousands of people to get his way. The vast majority of Northerners actually wanted to let the South secede peacefully. Part of it was remembering that several decades before, it was Northern states who had threatened secession. The other part was a fear, later proved correct, that Lincoln would resort to conscription for an unpopular war.

So Lincoln was a hypocrite, and more so because he had no problem with part of Virginia seceding to form West Virginia. By the standard Lincoln set, the South had every right to use its military to subjugate and destroy the newly seceded Virginians.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at February 15, 2009 5:01 PM
But jk thinks:

My friend Perry makes the homini est governmentus fallacy: equating an individual's right with a government's (and yes, of course I just made that up).

I agree in jury nullification (Lysander Spooner contributed much to that) and hope that I would have ignored the Fugitive Slave Act had I been around so to do. I have annoyed my blog brothers by suggesting that "illegal" aliens can conscientiously ignore immigration law.

But I do not extend that right to the State of New Hampshire's refusal to honor treaties, supply troops for national defense, or eschew chattel slavery as required by the 13th Amendment.

Posted by: jk at February 16, 2009 11:20 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Once again, just because something is "the law" doesn't mean that it's moral, proper or correct -- even if it's the "Supreme Law of the Land." Your argument is too absolute.

So what if it's a bad treaty, say, a deal Obama makes with the UN that leads to federal confiscation of all firearms? Imposing carbon taxes?

Should NH's National Guard be required to defend their country, though it might be ruled by a tyrant? What if all NHNG members resigned: should NH be required to institute conscription to supply forces? A friend opposed to the Iraq war once asked me how I'd feel if Iraqis invaded us to topple our national government. Well, were we ruled by a dictator whose rule was characterized by rape, pillage and systematic genocide, then I'd welcome another country coming in.

Now, the issue of slavery completely transcends all this. There is no way that a legitimate government can sanction or legitimize the violation of people's liberty, which includes slavery.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at February 16, 2009 4:05 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

@Perry, et. al: I just wanted to type in a quick placeholder. I have a rather large reply in the works, but it might not be up for a day or so. Any lateness in my reply should not be thought of as as conceding the point or attempting to avoid the discussion, but to ensure that my comments are of a high enough quality to add to it.


~T. Greer

Posted by: T. Greer at February 18, 2009 10:43 AM

We Lost LXIV

If I can go one more over my quota of Insty links today -- did'ja see this? President Obama's gonna end sprawl! (Professor Reynolds and I fear that campaign promise might come eerily true.) So we're going to bring back the housing sector -- without building any of those ugly old houses.

That’s why I’d like to see high speed rail where it can be constructed. That’s why I would like to invest in mass transit because potentially that’s energy efficient and I think people are alot more open now to thinking regionally in terms of how we plan our transportation infrastructure. The days where we’re just building sprawl forever, those days are over. I think that Republicans, Democrats, everybody recognizes that that’s not a smart way to build communities. So we should be using this money to help spur this kind of innovative thinking when it comes to transportation. That will make a big difference.

Central planning! That's what works. Some of those spectacular communities you see in the former Soviet Republics -- or public housing in Chicago. Can't let people just buy a lot and build on it -- those days are over. Note the link at the bottom to "Tell Obama to stand strong on this issue!"

[Editor please remove all extraneous exclamation marks and post -- thanks, jk]

Buyers' Remorse

Keith compares the election numbers to Rasmussen polling for the stimulus bill and wonders "Buyers' Remorse anyone?"

Thanks for the segue -- I've been wanting to post this all day. Instapundit linked to the story and this guy's website. Dude is buyers' remorse incarnate:

[Fred] Tausch is a registered independent who, after voting Republican for most of his life, supported Barack Obama in the last election, even contributing $2,300 to the cause.

Tausch said he "got excited about his message. There was not a lot of fiscal discipline in either party, and I thought that when Obama talked about change, he was including that he would be more cautious about how we spend money. And that's just not the case."

I appreciate that he has ponied up $100,000 to fight the stimulus, but I don't feel sympathy kicking in. "What? You mean Obama is a profligate spender?" This guy is an entrepreneur with a hundred grand, he's not completely stupid. And yet he voted for Senator Obama seeking fiscal conservatism. One thinks of those women on morning talk shows with abusive husbands.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:01 PM | What do you think? [1]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

The Refugee sincerely hopes that bank and auto CEO's are having remorse about asking for gov't handouts.

Unfortunately, the scenes at the hearings remind him more of one of his favorite movies, "Cool Hand Luke." CEOs are taking turns standing in front of the committee say, "I've got my mind right, boss!" and "I'm shakin', boss, I'm shakin'!" They should be saying, "Take the damn money that isn't yours anyway and get out of my business!"

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at February 12, 2009 3:57 PM

80s Nostalgia

Get out the skinny ties, Steven F. Hayward has a great column in the WSJ Editorial Page comparing President Obama's mandate to proceed with his economic agenda with that of President Reagan. Both had economic problems and both had a mandate.

Instead of Yes, We Can Spend a Trillion, "Reagan's team produced a 50-page, detailed blueprint for their first six months in office. The passage of their economic policy was the central objective."

One of the main themes that emerges from the [Initial Actions Project] is that Reagan and his team didn't assume that a landslide victory meant they had a mandate to do whatever they wanted. To the contrary, the report's authors, Richard Wirthlin and David Gergen, wrote: "The election was not a bestowal of political power, but a stewardship opportunity for us to reconsider and restructure the political agenda for the next two decades. The public has sanctioned the search for a new public philosophy to govern America."
The IAP report understood that the American people "are yet to be convinced that Mr. Reagan's policies will work." Relying on his skills as "the great communicator," the IAP recommended that the president focus on "the outlining of broad strategic policy outlines, and not on narrow programs" and that his explanations be "simple, straightforward and understandable."

Translation for Mr. Obama: Don't go on TV to talk about the stimulative effects of "weatherization." Even Jon Stewart thought that was lame.

Astute ThreeSourcers have commented that 47% of the country did not vote for President Obama. And I've read a few stories about people who voted for him but not for this.

Hayward glosses over the fact that Reagan had to get his proposals past Tip O'Neill and James Wright. But still I can vividly remember President Reagan's taking his case to the people.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 12:10 PM | What do you think? [7]
But jk thinks:

I didn't buy but I've got copious remorse!

President Obama has a mandate based less on the popular vote totals and more on engineering a resounding electoral college win and, more importantly, Congressional coattails.

Neither Senator McCain nor the RNC could raise sufficient concerns about a Pelosi-Reid-Obama triumvirate with filibuster-proof majorities. You can cry about it, but I don't think you can fairly say that President Obama does not have a substantial mandate.

Posted by: jk at February 12, 2009 1:39 PM
But Keith thinks:

jk: I'll grant you that, but I submit that the current polling numbers on the stimulus bill - accompanied by a side order of good economic sense - might negate that mandate (such as it is).

I'd also submit that had McCain done a better job of reaching across the aisle to Republican voters, and/or the voting public paid attention in their junior-high civics class to some basic economic learnin', we might not be in this fix.

Thank you very kindly for the shout-out on your subsequent post, by the way. Even here in California, there are more than a few people embarrassed by their unremovable Obama bumper stickers...

Posted by: Keith at February 12, 2009 2:12 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Utter claptrap. Doesn't anyone remember what Reagan's stimulus plan was? A sound dollar, and tax cuts. Don't kill people with inflation, and don't kill them with absurdly high marginal tax rates.

It worked well then, and it would work just as well now, but the country's "leaders" are hell-bent on repeating the failed New Deal.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at February 12, 2009 3:17 PM
But jk thinks:

Perry: both of Reagan's foundations were a tough sell in the economic climate. Volcker's tight money wasn't beloved by Phillips Curve devotees who wanted to inflate our way to full employment, and tax cuts had all the usual enemies "Reagan is starving our kids and making them eat Ketchup for school lunches!"

Yet he laid them out and argued -- munificently -- for their enactment. Not sure at whom the claptrap was aimed but Hayward (and I) would like to see President Obama make and defend the case for his ideas -- not just tell us we have to do it right away.

Keith: No question the mandate is slipping away. I'm just being honest that were I on his side I'd feel pretty comfortable claiming a mandate even though the vote totals weren't quite Grant vs. Greeley.

Posted by: jk at February 12, 2009 3:47 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

Several things seem missing in the New Deal/WW2 references I keep seeing. One is noted here -- wealth transfers out of troubled Europe. Others are:
- arms deals whereby our tanks & planes were sold to others (Britain, USSR, Australia, etc.) during the war;
- more arms deals after the war, in many cases of surplus items.
- postbellum wealth transfer from troubled Europe.
- postbellum loans (some of which were repaid).
- Excess, very efficient, manufacturing capacity.

Posted by: nanobrewer at February 13, 2009 5:22 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Reaganomics was hard enough then, but Americans in the last 30 years have been softened up. Even in 1992, Americans may have liked Medicare and Medicaid, but they still didn't believe that government could run health care for everybody. Today, well, Americans think government can give us everything.

But just because people's state-worshipping has grown worse does not change truth.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at February 15, 2009 5:03 PM




Posted by John Kranz at 11:14 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Rate of layoffs decreases; consumer spending rises; hoorah, the "Stimulus" bill is already working! Imagine how much better it will work once Senators Collins, Snowe and Specter bravely act to prevent a useless GOP fillibuster!

(This message brought to you by the John Galt "Accelerate the Socialization Crisis so we can rebuild this nation from the ashes" Philosophical Action Committee.)

Posted by: johngalt at February 13, 2009 5:37 PM

JK Eats Crow

Well, my new pal, Congressman Paul Kanjorski (D-PA11) shows some colors. And picks up a quote of the day:

"This happens because capitalism keeps trying to destroy itself, by getting out of the bag we put it in to control it."

That may be a quote of the year. Hat-tip: Instrapundit

Posted by John Kranz at 10:09 AM | What do you think? [3]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

And this is someone you trust to be at all truthful about what really happened on 9/18/2008?

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at February 12, 2009 3:18 PM
But jk thinks:

No. As the headline implies, this is enough to make me question anything he says. Yet, while we're here, a man with your appreciation for logic would not hold that nothing he says is true because of this.

Posted by: jk at February 12, 2009 3:50 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

All I'm saying is that logic dictates that we must never take a man at his word. I personally wouldn't trust this jackass to tell me that water is wet.

In the other thread, you seemed to accept his claims that the feds and Fed saved the world five months ago. Do you now see, as I immediately suspected, that he has an agenda?

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at February 15, 2009 5:37 PM

February 11, 2009

$789 Billion

Out of the Senate:

The new version includes help for victims of the recession in the form of unemployment benefits, food stamps, health coverage and more, as well as billions for states that face the prospect of making deep cuts in their own programs.

It also preserves Obama's signature tax cut — a break for millions of lower and middle income taxpayers, including those who don't earn enough to pay income taxes.

I guess we lost.

Posted by John Kranz at 5:25 PM | What do you think? [1]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

When Obama told Joe the Plumber that he wanted to "spread the wealth," (take from one who earned it and has it to one who did not earn it), this is how he's doing it.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at February 11, 2009 6:12 PM


Okay, maybe I was too kind on the Geithner pick. Insty linked to an item that bankers laughed during his testimony, Looks like those who weren't laughing were selling.

Hat-tip: Everyday Economist

Politicians' Yearbook photos

I guess I have a problem, I think I could have guessed all but two.


Hat-tip: beloved, rhymes with tune-cat, relative by email.

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 11:05 AM | What do you think? [0]

February 10, 2009

What The Abyss Looked Like

Okay Lasseiz-fairites. I was able to get my inner-Hamilton on last fall because I felt that Sec. Hank Paulson had "stared into the Abyss" and that the first TARP funds were to protect from immanent disaster.

Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D PA11) has an interview describing what the Abyss looked like:

On Thursday at 11:00 a.m. the Federal Reserve noticed a tremendous draw-down of money market accounts in the U.S., to the tune of $550 billion was being drawn out in the matter of an hour or two. The Treasury opened up its window to help and pumped a $105 billion in the system and quickly realized that they could not stem the tide. We were having an electronic run on the banks. They decided to close the operation, close down the money accounts and announce a guarantee of $250,000 per account so there wouldn't be further panic out there.

If they had not done that, their estimation is that by 2:00 p.m. that afternoon, $5.5 trillion would have been drawn out of the money market system of the U.S., would have collapsed the entire economy of the U.S., and within 24 hours the world economy would have collapsed. It would have been the end of our economic system and our political system as we know it.

This was not a trillion dollar sop to Unions, or a crisis to socialize medicine over. This was the US Treasury stepping in as lender of last resort.

Hat-tip: PA Water Cooler (video at the link).

Posted by John Kranz at 8:04 PM | What do you think? [15]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Continued, since I guess there's a spam filter preventing the posting of a comment with too many links.

"Today I'll admit a fear I've recently expressed in private, that the Fed may tighten too much and create a recession in the next couple of years. An economic crisis is all Hillary would need to capture the White House, just like her husband seized upon -- never mind the recession had ended 20 months prior to the 1992 election." - Perry Eidelbus, November 6, 2005

And I'm on record as predicting on November 3, 2004, that the Democratic candidate would campaign on universal healthcare and universal employment. Obama's shills have said he's not looking for government-run healthcare, but Obama has made it clear he wants everybody insured. And when he's talking constantly about "millions of jobs," I can claim victory about the employment prediction. But note in particular what I said about the media making things appear as worse than they actually are.

And American voters were stupid enough not to see this. They fell for Obama's promises of peace, land and bread.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at February 11, 2009 11:39 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Continued, since I guess there's a spam filter preventing comments with more than a link or two.

"Today I'll admit a fear I've recently expressed in private, that the Fed may tighten too much and create a recession in the next couple of years. An economic crisis is all Hillary would need to capture the White House, just like her husband seized upon -- never mind the recession had ended 20 months prior to the 1992 election." - Perry Eidelbus, November 6, 2005

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at February 11, 2009 11:41 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

And I'm on record as predicting on November 3, 2004, that the Democratic candidate would campaign on universal healthcare and universal employment. Obama's shills have said he's not looking for government-run healthcare, but Obama has made it clear he wants everybody insured. And when he's talking constantly about "millions of jobs," I can claim victory about the employment prediction. But note in particular what I said about the media making things appear as worse than they actually are.

And American voters were stupid enough not to see this. They fell for Obama's promises of peace, land and bread.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at February 11, 2009 11:43 PM
But Keith thinks:

Perry: you are on record for those predictions, and rightly so. You are an astute observer of the political realm, and a clear thinker. That's one of the reasons I count on your opinions.

I want to be on the record too - if a movie gets made about a bunch of wealthy evil capitalists conspiring to swing the American political process, by moving half a trillion dollars out of America and taking it overseas to manufacture an economic crisis, then you heard it here first, and I want a piece of the action. I'm going to start writing it tonight; think it'll sell?

I do understand that wealth is conserved, and it seems to me that if the Kanjorski quote is true, then the only way that kind of money could be removed from the American economy would we to electronically transfer it overseas. For that to happen "in the matter of an hour or two" would require something on a par of Soros calling Buffett and the rest of the club, and them all moving not just their personal wealth, but the capital of the corporations they control and influence.

It's that "in the matter of an hour or two" that bothers my untrained mind. What would be the odds of those 5.5 million Americans all deciding to grab their month all on the same morning? Mr. Spock couldn't calculate those odds. It seems, again to my untrained mind, this would have to be more like fewer people and bigger accounts being moved.

When I mention the naming of names, it just seems to me that if this was done electronically, then somewhere there's a record of who, from where, and to where - and I'm saying if it really happened, they should put up or shut up. I only see three possibilities:

(1) It really happened, and it was a deliberate conspiracy of some major players - in which case we ought to know who committed what would amount to an act of economic terrorism;

(2) It really happened, and it was just a remarkable coincidence of everyone getting the same urge to draw down their money at the same time; or

(3) It didn't happen, and the speaker is a prevaricating colostomy bag.

Posted by: Keith at February 12, 2009 12:25 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

"if the Kanjorski quote is true"

Do you mean that is it true what Kanjorski said, or that is what he said true? There's an important logical difference there.

What Kanjorski said was an outright lie. You don't have to proceed any further. Five hundred fifty billion dollars in money markets alone is an impossible sum for Soros, Buffett and all others to control.

Even if the money were transferred overseas, what of it? They're still dollars. Foreigners would have to convert them to other currencies for anything but dollar-denominated assets, and the dollars would come home. Foreigners use the dollars to buy crude oil, invest in U.S. stocks, buy U.S. Treasury securities, etc., and the dollars would come home.

What happened starting on September 17th is that countless individual investors started pulling out of money market funds, ever since a big one "broke the buck." They simply put the money into other forms of savings. It was a "coincidence" in that many people had the same reaction at the same time, but hardly a "remarkable" one.

Nothing to worry about. There's no "economic terrorism" here.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at February 12, 2009 3:25 PM
But Keith thinks:

NUTS! I just read Michael Moore is doing the movie. Another of his crockumentaries. That just skewered my hopes for fame and a fast buck. Guaranteed he won't even give me credit for the idea.

Perry: I defer to your knowledge, and thank you for the quick education. I'll join you in putting Kanjorski into my Possibility #3 box. I'm shocked, shocked to discover that an elected official can lie to us with impunity like this.

Posted by: Keith at February 12, 2009 4:12 PM


This is a great story! "Hailey Woldt put on the traditional black abaya, expecting the worst."

Ms. Woldt was doing her version of "Muslim Like Me" to document the prejudice of backwoods rednecks in Alabama. Ho, ho, this was going to be good! Sadly the residents of Arab, Alabama (told you it would be good!) did not comply, and treated the young woman with friendliness.

What Woldt discovered was not the prejudices of the small-town southern white American but instead the prejudices and stereotypes of contemporary leftist academia. Woldt expected to find prejudice not because she had already seen it but because her education indoctrinated her to expect it in others. This little incident opens a window on the insular, elitist and bigoted world of leftist in contemporary academia.

Hat-tip: Insty

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 4:31 PM | What do you think? [0]

Daschle's Revenge

Tom Daschle's sudden withdrawal as HHS Secretary nominee was a banner moment for American individual liberty. But perhaps we breathed too easily too soon.

Eight days ago JK wrote,

"As far as getting somebody worse, I've no doubt that there are worse ideologues than Senator Daschle. Yet his book about Health Care calls for an American equivalent to the NHS's NICE panel which would provide approval of all treatments and procedures based on government-decided efficacy and cost efficiency. Senator Daschle is radical enough to scare me and is a sophisticated enough player that he seems likely to be able to achieve many of his goals."

If only JK had known how prescient those words might be. The Hudson Institute's Betsy McCaughey quotes the former senator thusly:

A year ago, Daschle wrote that the next president should act quickly before critics mount an opposition. “If that means attaching a health-care plan to the federal budget, so be it,” he said. “The issue is too important to be stalled by Senate protocol.”

So we shouldn't be surprised to find (McCaughey link) a Daschle-like health care trojan horse in the "we can't afford to delay it" economic stimulus bill, H.R. 1:

Senators should read these provisions and vote against them because they are dangerous to your health. (Page numbers refer to H.R. 1 EH, pdf version).

The bill’s health rules will affect “every individual in the United States” (445, 454, 479). Your medical treatments will be tracked electronically by a federal system. Having electronic medical records at your fingertips, easily transferred to a hospital, is beneficial. It will help avoid duplicate tests and errors.

But the bill goes further. One new bureaucracy, the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology, will monitor treatments to make sure your doctor is doing what the federal government deems appropriate and cost effective. The goal is to reduce costs and “guide” your doctor’s decisions (442, 446). These provisions in the stimulus bill are virtually identical to what Daschle prescribed in his 2008 book, “Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis.” According to Daschle, doctors have to give up autonomy and “learn to operate less like solo practitioners.”

Keeping doctors informed of the newest medical findings is important, but enforcing uniformity goes too far.

New Penalties

Hospitals and doctors that are not “meaningful users” of the new system will face penalties. “Meaningful user” isn’t defined in the bill. That will be left to the HHS secretary, who will be empowered to impose “more stringent measures of meaningful use over time” (511, 518, 540-541)

What penalties will deter your doctor from going beyond the electronically delivered protocols when your condition is atypical or you need an experimental treatment? The vagueness is intentional. In his book, Daschle proposed an appointed body with vast powers to make the “tough” decisions elected politicians won’t make.

The stimulus bill does that, and calls it the Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research (190-192). The goal, Daschle’s book explained, is to slow the development and use of new medications and technologies because they are driving up costs. He praises Europeans for being more willing to accept “hopeless diagnoses” and “forgo experimental treatments,” and he chastises Americans for expecting too much from the health-care system. [Emphasis mine.]

The good news is that this was discovered, and is seeing the light of day on Fox News. The bad news? What the hell ELSE is in there??

But jk thinks:

Thanks for the kind words, jg, and thanks for beating me to this post. I've had two people email it to me today.

I told my brother-in-law this weekend that "we can waste a trillion dollars and survive, but once we nationalize medicine, rewind welfare reform to LBJ levels, and prop up unions, it's game over."

Okay it's a rhetorical device to be flip about $1T -- and I was chastised for it. But I am serious, while we and Senator Collins look at the difference between $750B and $900B, we are missing -- as you say -- huge hunks of vanishing liberty.

Posted by: jk at February 10, 2009 4:07 PM

All Hail the Blue Dogs!

Blog Sister Dagny asked about the brave 11 Democrats who voted against the Stimulus. One is Rep. Walt Minnick from Idaho. He's got a better idea:

Minnick is a member of the Blue Dog caucus of occasionally conservative Democcrats. His START plan is a $170 billion “bare bones” pure stimulus approach that would put $100 billion immediately into the pockets of low- and middle-income Americans, then use the other $70 billion for basic infrastructure projects that create jobs. START requires that all funds not spent by 2010 be returned to the Treasury. START also stops stimulus spending when the nation’s Gross Domestic Product increases in two of three previous quarters, and all START payments are required to be posted on a public website.

Minnick introduced START as an alternative – just in case the legislative process stalls out, says press secretary John Foster. As one of the brave 11 Democrats who voted against Pelosi’s stimulus bill, Minnick explained to folks back home that he opposed the speaker’s version because it was so “Christmas-treed up” with wasteful spending, like $300 million for golf carts. Foster told The Examiner that the House leadership encourages members to do what’s best for their districts, so there has been no backlash. We’ll see how long that lasts.

I'll happily listen to comments that this is $170 Billion too much. But elections have consequences. This sounds like a fair amount to give the triumphant Democrats and I seriously appreciate the transparency of the web pages and the shutoff of spending on recovery.

The sad part is that these guys get elected in Idaho, and probably deserve it, but then they become just another member of Pelosi's army.

Hat-tip: Instapundit

111th Congress Posted by John Kranz at 11:46 AM | What do you think? [1]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Relative to what's on the table, this makes a lot of sense. Which is why it doesn't stand a chance.

However, there's no way to get around the fact that the only way gubm't can "stimulate" one person is to first take it away from another person. Why is the job of a steel worker on a bridge worth more than a software developer? The Refugee has often maintain that if you really want to see employment skyrocket, then eliminate the corporate income tax.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at February 10, 2009 12:50 PM

February 9, 2009


Don't forget, George Bush and Jerry Ford were clumsy idiots.

But johngalt thinks:

Where is the marine guard standing next to the steps? Bush would always salute him.

One gets the impression that the current president wants to minimize his contact with the servicemen of whom he is commander-in-chief.

Posted by: johngalt at February 10, 2009 12:42 PM


Russ Roberts (who I recently discovered is a former professor and friend of a friend) takes an AP story about the staggering economic depredation recent job losses. and edits it, as a real editor would if they had any left at the Associated Press.

Too good to excerpt -- read the whole thing.

Hat-tip: Everyday Economist

But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Already been there; check out my own editing.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at February 11, 2009 11:29 AM

Specter for Spendulus

Well, here we are.

I am supporting the economic stimulus package for one simple reason: The country cannot afford not to take action.

The unemployment figures announced Friday, the latest earnings reports and the continuing crisis in banking make it clear that failure to act will leave the United States facing a far deeper crisis in three or six months. By then the cost of action will be much greater -- or it may be too late.

Wave after wave of bad economic news has created its own psychology of fear and lowered expectations. As in the old Movietone News, the eyes and ears of the world are upon the United States. Failure to act would be devastating not just for Wall Street and Main Street but for much of the rest of the world, which is looking to our country for leadership in this crisis.

In related news, the Washington Post graphs how immediate the stimulus really is.

Answer: 10% gets spent this year... in the year we cannot afford to delay (tm).

(Click to enbiggen)

But johngalt thinks:

"The" economic stimulus package, Senator Specter? Do you also purchase the first car you test drive, or the first house you look at? How about love - did you marry the first woman you dated?

Posted by: johngalt at February 10, 2009 12:48 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

GWB's misguided decision to back Specter over Toomey in the primaries continues to haunt the party and the nation.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at February 10, 2009 6:01 PM

Extinguish The Lamp of Liberty

Am I being melodramatic again? Watch this:

The great experiment, the light of liberty and hope in the world is going to go pretty dim here. Elections matter, and this one was lost.

Hat-tip: Ann Althouse

But johngalt thinks:

One wishes that George W. Bush had said, "Yes, it is true, we torture Islamic terrorists, we spy on them, and we're spending billions of dollars to send well trained and equipped American soldiers to kill them in Iraq and Afghanistan and other places around the world. I admit, we want to defeat them. That is the point!"

Suppose he'd've gotten away with it?

Why wouldn't we want to "replace the federal fleet with hybrid cars?" Well, let's see, maybe because there's nothing wrong with the cars our government already owns? The newest car in my family's "fleet" was made in 1999. They create jobs, you say? Why not just hire full-time drivers for every car in the fleet instead? They save energy, you say? How much more of someone else's money are you willing to spend to save 10 or 20 percent of fuel you also purchase with someone else's money.

Wait - don't answer that last one.

Posted by: johngalt at February 9, 2009 4:18 PM
But dagny thinks:

Listening to this guy makes my blood boil, but this clip is missing the worst part.

I really start shouting at the television when he says, "the American People Spoke," last November. I want to know what about the 47% of us that didn't vote to have our money confiscated and our futures and those of our children mortgaged for Nancy Pelosi's pet projects. 47% is a pretty large minority to be so ignored and run over.

Posted by: dagny at February 10, 2009 11:51 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Dagny, how about the 57% or so that didn't vote for Bubba in 1992? Remember that he was elected with only a plurality of the vote.

"The People" speak/spoke/blathered/farted...show me who these "People" are, and I'll show you state-worshippers who use a construct called "government" to pick my pocket.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at February 11, 2009 12:02 PM

A Toast to jk

Tip one for me brothers and sisters, I start my new clinical trial today with a four hour infusion.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:01 AM | What do you think? [3]
But Terri thinks:

Looking forward to the good news to follow!

Posted by: Terri at February 9, 2009 2:14 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Hopes and prayers and modern science to you my brother. (And not in that order.) Keep on truckin'.

Posted by: johngalt at February 9, 2009 4:02 PM
But jk thinks:

It is going well -- 1/2 hour left! (They just got the WiFi going).

Extra Special thanks to the Boulder Refugee who helped me out with dog-walking-detail. You guys are all the best!

Posted by: jk at February 9, 2009 6:08 PM

February 8, 2009

The End of the World as We Know It

That's the subject line as a good friend of ThreeSources shares this. Judith Warner blogs about how couples her age are struggling to deal with the awesomeness of the Obamas:

The other night I dreamt of Barack Obama. He was taking a shower right when I needed to get into the bathroom to shave my legs, and then he was being yelled at by my husband, Max, for smoking in the house. It was not clear whether Max was feeling protective of the president’s health or jealous because of the cigarette.
(“Like a lot of folks, I have anxiety about being outside of the Obama administration universe right now,” she then explained to me. “Even though I was at the ‘it’ ball of inauguration balls, I still felt like other balls were greener, or more purple, or with credentials completely out of my control — more young. I really feel like I’m scrambling internally … to deserve Obama cred and all I’ve got is this over-my-head wonder for the man that amounts to being an Obama girl.”)

In between those two paragraphs, it gets even stranger. In case you missed the NPR interview, Ms. Warner is described:
Judith Warner's book, "Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety" (excerpt, NPR interview), a New York Times best-seller, was published in February 2005. "Domestic Disturbances" appears every Friday.

Our ancestors fought wild beasts and struggled to provide sufficient caloric content to their offspring. But real motherhood anxiety is surely wondering:

But jk thinks:

My emailer suggests that it is less difficult to understand the excitement on the other side now that their (hunky!) guy is in office. More surprising is the NY Times printing it.

Personally, the link to the NPR interview set the whole thing up for me.

Posted by: jk at February 8, 2009 6:03 PM
But sugarchuck thinks:

It wouldn't be the Minnesota way to allow "The end of the world as we know it" to go uncredited. This comes from Joe Soucheray's Garage Logic Lexicon. Joe is a regular guy using the radio waves to fight the Euphorians and wackadoodles from Liberal Lakes MN. So here's to Joe, Hail the Flashlight King!

Posted by: sugarchuck at February 8, 2009 7:58 PM

Evil Possessed Demon Horsies

When my hometown makes the Wall Street Journal, it is usually not good news. Not since Bill Owens was Governor anyway. But this one made me laugh.

I do not travel for work anymore and I am long overdue to visit Sugarchuck and get some recording done, so I have not seen the public art in question:

DENVER -- The mustang rears on splayed hind legs -- his nostrils flaring, his eyes glowing red, his taut body a slick, sweaty sheen of blue. Anatomically correct -- eye-poppingly so -- the 32-foot-tall fiberglass sculpture makes quite a statement at the gateway to Denver International Airport.

But that begs the question: What kind of statement, exactly?

"It looks like it's possessed," says Denver resident Samantha Horoschak. "I have a huge fear of flying anyway, and to be greeted at the airport by a demon horse -- it's not a soothing experience."

Many people here agree, calling the muscular steed a terrifying welcome to the Mile High City.

I have not seen it but I like it already. Denver is a frontier, western city; I cannot see where it hurts to scare off a few wusses. And I like very much the idea of visiting football teams being greeted so welcomingly.

Keep the horse!

Colorado Posted by John Kranz at 12:17 PM | What do you think? [6]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Oh come on. Even a Yankee like me can appreciate that symbol of strength.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at February 8, 2009 1:18 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

And on the Western thing, somewhere in the old family photo albums are some pictures from when we visited Denver. There I was, 7 years old, sporting a cowboy hat for the first time in my life.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at February 8, 2009 1:19 PM
But jk thinks:

Sounds good, pardner...

Posted by: jk at February 8, 2009 3:46 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Spoken like two guys who have never seen it. This thing is UUUUGLY! It makes Mexican velvet art look classy by comparison. Target practice would be its only apt fate.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at February 9, 2009 12:07 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I'm with BR. I appreciate art when it inspires good thoughts and feelings. This thing doesn't.


This is what happens when we let governments commission works of art.

Posted by: johngalt at February 9, 2009 3:59 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

That's a better picture than one I saw before.

Whew. Is it too late to change my mind? That's not a horse.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at February 11, 2009 11:44 PM

February 7, 2009

The Under-examined GOP Rift

I'm glad Republicans, conservatives, and libertarians (note the little-l) are reexamining their tactics and message after the drubbing they all took in November-oh-eight. A little navel-gazing is probably well warranted.

While many topics are on the table, it appears to me that Republicans have forgotton or choosen to ignore the immigration rift. (They should read ThreeSources Immigration Category.) The debate turned me into a name-caller and separated me from Michelle Malkin, National Review (especially NRO), and Hugh Hewitt. It made me even more skeptical of Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham, and a large list of right-wing bloggers.

Like the Civil War, it pitted brother against brother as I fought blog brothers, biological brothers and even a brother-in-law. The news may have moved on to the new administration and the stimulus bill, but I was reminded of the underlying rift yesterday. Allahpundit, whom I admire very much, had a post on the HotAir site where he complimented -- rightfully -- the tough and well reasoned stand that Senator Lindsey Graham has taken against the stimulus bill. Allahpundit could not resist pointing out that Michelle Malkin was now in agreement with "Grahamnesty."

Grahamnesty is a good line. But as we ask the last 41 Republicans who count to stick together against overwhelming odds, name calling seems a little churlish. I don't know that a Jesus-Christopher Hitchens ticket could have beaten Obama this year, but how many Republican activists were unable to get 100% behind the party's nominee because of immigration?

Regular ThreeSourcers know I stand pretty closely to McCain/Graham/Bush on immigration. I don't want to re-ignite the debate. I do, as a political pragmatist, want to seek out a New Fusionism. If the atheists and evangelicals could get together for decades to pursue their common interests, perhaps the populists and the free-border crowd need to do the same.

I get tense when I hear Rep. Tancredo rail on about deporting valedictorians and I wince when Governor Huckabee says "we have to make the Constitution match God's law." Yet it seems that the whole idea of individual liberty is under serious threat. Looking for electoral majority, we may need to paper over these differences.

As I have suggested, there is some middle ground. We could all support a platform plank of "reasonable border enforcement," "expanded legal immigration possibilities," "increased efficiency of INS and enforcement personnel," and "dignified treatment of current undocumented workers."

I'll even stop calling you xenophobic, economically-ignorant, populists names. What do you say?

Immigration Posted by John Kranz at 12:06 PM | What do you think? [3]
But Terri thinks:

"reasonable border enforcement", "expanded legal immigration possibilities", "increased efficiency of INS and enforcement personnel," and "dignified treatment of current undocumented workers."

As one of the blog 'brothers', who disagreed with you.....I am on board with all of the concepts laid out above.

Posted by: Terri at February 8, 2009 9:23 AM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Border security is rapidly shifting from keeping "Jose" out of the orchard to keeping out extremely violent drug cartels. If the violence now on the Mexican side spills over north of the border, the momentum for a wall will (ahem) build faster than you can say Gaza. Keeping illegal workers out will merely be a consequence.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at February 9, 2009 12:24 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Sounds good so far brother. Now give me a guarantee that current and future immigrants from third-world nations won't become voters - legally or otherwise - and I'm on board. Without that there's reason to believe any immigration liberalization will effectively make the Republican party, and the idea of a representative republic, obsolete.

I find it ironic that one of your justifications for forging this New Fusionism is in a quest for electoral majority. For whom?

Posted by: johngalt at February 9, 2009 3:46 PM

February 6, 2009


Reason TV:

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

You can bet this will be covered under Medicaid's prescription drug benefit.

Posted by: johngalt at February 6, 2009 5:16 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

That's so funny that I'm crying.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at February 7, 2009 9:40 PM

johngalt on the Stimulus

I must say I'm glad to be in the loyal opposition right now. It's much more satisfying to unleash full-throated criticism of government when those in control are all Democrats. And having written this prior to reading Martin Feldstein's take I see we're on the same page.

via email to both Colorado Senators:

Dear Senator [Udall / Bennet],

I am writing to urge you to vote against the "Economic Stimulus" bill H.R. 1 in its present or any amended form. To amend this bill into a productive measure would require a nearly complete rewrite.

My wife's opposition to this bill, with which I certainly agree, is primarily on the basis that it is immoral to take money from people who earned it and spend it on controversial programs in an effort to restore economic growth by principles which are, at best, merely hopeful. The magnitude of the spending proposed in this bill compared to the time spent debating it is beyond reckless to the point of criminal irresponsibility. That this could actually happen in our government is proof that value is of no consideration while engaged in the practice of spending Other People's Money. Such carelessness leads to "misfortunes" like overpaying $86 billion for securitized assets in a $350 billion bank "bailout" bill.

My personal opposition to the bill, with which my wife certainly agrees, is primarily because it would create many new government agencies (38 by some estimates) and associated recurring costs to the treasury on an annual basis. A majority of the jobs it might create are in the public sector which would have an opposite than intended effect on economic recovery.

You may be surprised to learn, as I was, that even Keynsian economists - who believe government spending can increase economic productivity - are opposed to H.R. 1. They say it is the wrong kind of spending. One might think that a body with as much experience in spending money, albeit other people's, as the United States federal government might be better able to choose the appropriate type of spending in a given situation.

H.R. 1 is not the answer to America's problems. Its passage will be a wasted effort to stimulate the economy and will only lead to further attempts at the same goal. Please vote NO on H.R. 1 and move us more quickly to the next such attempt which can only be an improvement over this one.

Very truly yours,

Fort Lupton, CO

But jk thinks:

Nice. I sent them each an email yesterday as well.

Fat lot of good it will do us -- two Freshman Senators, one of whom was back-bencher in the House. But I think it is good to remind them that a large swath of Colorado voters don't think like them.

Posted by: jk at February 6, 2009 2:46 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes, I was thinking the same thing. I received an email from the NoStimulus.com petition site reporting the number of signatures has surpassed 68,000. It also said they are targeting specific senate offices: Specter (PA), Snowe (ME), Nelson (NE), McConnell (KY) so I used their execrable web forms to forward my letter to each of them plus Nelson (FL) DeMint (SC) Feinstein (CA) and Inhofe (OK). [This last is my current favorite senator in the country.)

Posted by: johngalt at February 6, 2009 5:14 PM

February 5, 2009

Feeling Better About Boulder

A protester in Ithaca, NY hurls a shoe at the mayor for providing protection for anti-war protesters and not the "pro-war" variety.

Before you cheer too loudly, keep in mind this is Ithaca. The pro-military protester apparently himself is a former member of the Weather Underground who claims to have planted a bomb at a court house and participated in the Attica prison uprising.

So you have a former Weather Underground member who now is pro-military, throwing shoes at the anti-military Socialist Mayor, in a protest that would fall under the "community of sanctuary" protection if the protester still was a member of the Weather Underground and protesting against the Iraq war. Only in Ithaca.

My, my. I think my favorite part was when he demanded his shoe back. Hat-tip: Instapundit.

Posted by John Kranz at 5:21 PM | What do you think? [0]

Quote of the Day

We are in the ruins of a housing market made worse by subsidized lending. The government has no business egging people on to borrow as much as possible to bet on housing prices. There is plenty of room to criticize the current stimulus plan, but Republicans need to adopt Ronald Reagan or Dwight D. Eisenhower, not Harold Ickes, as their intellectual role model. -- Harvard's Ed Glaeser in a well thought ourt and well titled The GOP Has a Dumb Mortgage Idea
Posted by John Kranz at 12:40 PM | What do you think? [0]

Hope and Change

A great WSJ editorial today does a little crowing about the successful elections in Iraq. War opponents will howl if I dare to say that it proves the Bush administration right. And they have a point, things could still turn out badly.

The editorial's point, however, is how the elections showed so many of the Bush administration's domestic opponents to be wrong. Iraqis rejected Iranian dominated parties. Iraqis rejected sectarian religious parties. Iraqis rejected splintered states and supported a strong national government.

The peaceful elections also pull the rug out from those who insisted that a political solution must underlie a military solution. Security is a prerequisite for compromise and the surge made all of this possible.

A coda at the end caught my eye. Opposition always implied that Bush & Co. did not bother to understand Sunni vs. Shia or any local issues. Nope, the cowboy doesn't do nuance and they're just obstinately going to push Texas values on Iraq. So how are the nuance kings going to handle Iraq? Sending an ambassador who won't be able to talk with the Prime Minister:

That's why we're puzzled by media reports that Mr. Obama intends to name Christopher Hill to replace Ryan Crocker as America's ambassador in Baghdad. Part of the puzzle is that retired Marine General Anthony Zinni -- a straight-shooter if ever there was one, with long experience in Mideast diplomacy -- claims he was tapped for the job, until the White House withdrew the offer without notice or explanation.

But the greater puzzle is why Mr. Hill -- who has spent the better part of the last few years making unreciprocated concessions to North Korea and whose previous stints included postings in Macedonia, Poland and South Korea -- is qualified to be the ambassador. Unlike Mr. Crocker, Mr. Hill has no real diplomatic experience in the Middle East and is not an Arabic speaker, no small point since Prime Minister Maliki is not an English speaker.

Once again, let's trade parties and imagine the Strum & Drang (isn't that a law firm?) had President Bush done something so "boneheaded."

February 4, 2009


Hat-tip: Don Luskin

Posted by John Kranz at 11:41 PM | What do you think? [0]

We Cannot Wait!

If we don't pass the stimulus package 500 million Americans will lose their jobs. Well, according to Nancy Pelosi:

Congress Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 11:34 PM | What do you think? [2]
But jk thinks:

One more month, and we're talkin' a jobless rate of 400-500%

Posted by: jk at February 5, 2009 10:08 AM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

At this rate, Congress will be unemployed by April.

Hey, wait a minute...

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at February 5, 2009 10:59 AM

Martin Feldstein on the Stimulus

As a conservative economist, I might be expected to oppose a stimulus plan. In fact, on this page in October, I declared my support for a stimulus. But the fiscal package now before Congress needs to be thoroughly revised. In its current form, it does too little to raise national spending and employment. It would be better for the Senate to delay legislation for a month, or even two, if that's what it takes to produce a much better bill. We cannot afford an $800 billion mistake.
That's Martin Feldstein in a well reasoned piece for the Washington Post. Feldstein somewhat surprisingly calls for intervention but makes several strong points why the current plan is not the right one for the times.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:43 PM | What do you think? [0]

Hope and Change

"Gather 'round, everybody. While I testify" -- Johnny Mercer

This will be some serious choir-preaching to ThreeSourcers, but if you have not read the lead editorial in the Wall Street Journal today, drop everything and catch up. In a wrap up piece for l'Affaire Daschle, the Ed Page salutes him for withdrawing his nomination but points out -- correctly -- that this is the system we have created and that Democrats as "the party of government" have helped to proliferate.

What Mr. Daschle's lucrative career as influence peddler really illustrates is how much Washington is now expanding its reach over the economy. Politicians and their staffers can make or break fortunes by slipping a rider into a "must pass" bill or dispensing billions of dollars in subsidies to favored constituencies. Naturally businesses are going to protect their interests and hire lobbyists to get the decisions to come out their way.

Had Mr. Daschle been confirmed, he would have been the most important man in a health-care industry expected to be worth $2.5 trillion in 2009, which is larger than the economy of France. With merely a torque to this or that regulation -- to say nothing of the "reform" he was to oversee as White House "health czar" -- he would have channeled all this wealth in one direction or the other. Just another day at the office.

The campaign reform types attack the wrong side of the equation (and our First Amendment rights). Clean government, Senator McCain, will come when the government has less power to pick winners and losers -- not when the governed are proscribed from influencing the outcome.

February 3, 2009

Honeymoon Waning?

The best picture of President Obama and a room full of 2nd graders?


But AlexC thinks:

is it me, or does he look "aged" already?

Posted by: AlexC at February 3, 2009 8:34 PM
But jk thinks:

This photo was used for the headline I referenced below "Loss of Daschle Clouds yadda yaddda..." The caption surprised me.

Michael Moore would point out that President Bush really enjoyed "My Pet Goat." I guess President Obama would rather be reading one of his memoirs.

Posted by: jk at February 4, 2009 10:54 AM

Headline of the Day

Who says there's no good news?

Loss of Daschle clouds health reform prospects -- AP

In other administration news:

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, the leading candidate for surgeon general, is CNN’s chief medical correspondent. His résumé as a practicing neurosurgeon — and one of People magazine’s “sexiest men alive” in 2003 — is not that of a traditional journalist. But he reported on the health records of the presidential candidates last year, along with their health care proposals.

I've no doubt that some considered C. Everett Koop real hot in an understated way -- but "sexiest man alive" for Surgeon General? Hope and Change, baby!

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 6:46 PM | What do you think? [0]

February 2, 2009

VP Gore visiting the UK?

Some London Facebook friends were talking about snowballs, and I get this weather report from Samizdat Jonathan Pearce:

It is on days like these that I am glad that I work for a web-based business and that I work from home for part of the day anyway. Judging by how severe weather has hit the UK overnight, rendering the UK public transport network immobile, that is just as well. The London Underground - with the exception of the Victoria line - is down. Buses and other transport like trains are severely affected.

Obama: Even More Awesome Than I Thought!

Humorist Andy Borowitz got tired of the nasty email when he dared to criticize our new President. So he has changed his tack, reporting new poll results:

One week into his Presidency, Barack Obama gets high marks in a new poll, with a majority of Americans agreeing with the statement, "Barack Obama is even more awesome than I originally thought."

The percentage of voters who believe that Mr. Obama is awesome surged during his first week in office, with 82% thinking he is awesome now compared to 77% who deemed him awesome last week.

And in the latest measure of his popularity, Mr. Obama receives higher approval ratings in the new poll than either leprechauns or unicorns, mythical beings that almost everyone agrees are totally awesome.

In a head-to-head contest, Mr. Obama beats leprechauns and unicorns combined, garnering 64% compared to 21% for leprechauns, 14% for unicorns, and 1% for Congressman Ron Paul.

l'Affaire Daschle

Wow! I really am a partisan hack. Hugh Hewitt considers me one -- and I consider him one. So, you do the math.

Hewitt wants to give Daschle a pass on tax evasion because the confirmation debate is becoming too rancorous and good people will no longer be willing to serve in government. And, the excuse I pulled out for Geithner, he worries that another nominee would be worse.

Errors on tax returns related to unusual circumstances and nanny issues are simply not the sort of character issues for which confirmation should be denied. Fixing the "confirmation mess" requires some restraint when presented with targets. The GOP should stay fixed on the stimulus bill, and not go chasing Daschle.

Take a deep breath. Count to ten. He begins with "My two cents on the latest confirmation dance is sure to disappoint my most partisan listeners" Well, I am a reader and not a listener, but if I can be counted among Hugh Hewitt's most partisan anythings, we have truly entered bizzaro world.

Hewitt sees misfeasance where I see malfeasance. "Errors on a tax return" and a reasonable point that, making $5,000,000 in two years, he would not have risked his political opportunities over a mere 200% of the median income of one of his former constituents in South Dakota.

That is his best point. And I do share the desire to get beyond confirmations being derailed by small transgressions on nannies or gardeners.

But I disagree that it was a small or simple error. This figure represents real money to anybody and it is in an area that is "gray" enough to avoid detection and prove to be a reasonably deniable. Yet, I have had to manage business vs. personal miles on a company car. I don't think it's outside the attention of a Senate Majority leader to consider if for a chauffeured limo.

As far as getting somebody worse, I've no doubt that there are worse ideologues than Senator Daschle. Yet his book about Health Care calls for an American equivalent to the NHS's NICE panel which would provide approval of all treatments and procedures based on government-decided efficacy and cost efficiency. Senator Daschle is radical enough to scare me and is a sophisticated enough player that he seems likely to be able to achieve many of his goals.

I'll take another roll of the dice, Hugh. And I'll take an early defeat to the Obama Health Care Express. If future Government appointees are going to have to start paying their taxes, we'll just have to live with that.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 3:49 PM | What do you think? [0]

Quote of the Day

daschle.jpg Make no mistake, tax cheaters cheat us all, and the IRS should enforce our laws to the letter. ” Sen. Tom Daschle, Congressional Record, May 7, 1998, p. S4507.
Hat-tip: The Corner via Instapundit. AP photo

UPDATE: The WSJ Ed Page gets honorable mention on the same topic:

Mr. Daschle's excuse? According to a Journal report Friday, "he told committee staff he had grown used to having a car and driver as majority leader and did not think to report the perk on his taxes, according to staff members." How's that for a Leona Helmsley moment: Doesn't everyone have a car and chauffeur, dear?

But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

The comparison to Leona Helmsley is completely unfair.

Daschle was employed in the U.S. Senate specifically for the purpose of taking certain people's property, by force against their consent, and giving it to others. After involuntarily leaving Congress (meaning he got defeated in the election), his job as a lobbyist was all about seeking special favors for his clients from Congress -- again, the forcible redistribution of wealth.

Helmsley, by contrast, made her fortune as a successful businesswoman in the private sector. All she did was provide what customers willingly wanted, and in the end she was convicted of not providing what the government wanted: to hand over her property. She "cheated" on her taxes, so power to her: what was so wrong about trying to keep what was hers?

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at February 2, 2009 3:02 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

One more thing: those who depict her as out-of-touch with "normal" Americans (whoever the hell they are) conveniently forget that Leona came from nothing. Her parents were immigrants, and she hardly grew up wealthy. She also didn't need to "marry up" or become a politician to earn her fortune.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at February 2, 2009 3:05 PM
But jk thinks:

Amen, Perry. Senator Daschle is much worse than Helmsley. My only defense of the WSJ Ed Page would be how much the soi disant prairie populist would disapprove of the comparison.

Posted by: jk at February 2, 2009 3:32 PM

February 1, 2009

Size Matters

I made some stylistic complaints about President Obama's inaugural address and do not remember a long line of ThreeSources stepping up to say I was too harsh. As far as the content, there were only a few things that bugged me, but by far the largest was his suggestion that all discussion over the size of government was over (hint: small did not win).

Ilya Somin at Volkh takes on this topic:

In his inaugural address, President Obama said that "The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works." This is a commonly heard argument in response to concerns about the growth of government. Who could possibly be against government when it "works"? Why not instead consider each proposed expansion of the state on a case by case basis, supporting those that "work" and opposing any that don't?

Taken seriously, this argument leads to the rejection of any systematic constraints on government power. Why should we have a general presumption against government regulation of speech or religion? Why not instead support censorship when it "works" by improving the marketplace of ideas, and oppose it when it doesn't? Think of all the misleading speech and religious charlatans that government regulation could potentially save us from! The answer, of course, is that government regulation of speech and religion has systematic dangers that are not unique to any one particular regulation. Given those systematic flaws, it makes sense to have a general presumption against it.

Well worth a read in full. Perhaps I am being naive, but supply-side, free-trade, lassiez-faire arguments seem lost for two years at the very least. Perhaps there is some currency to arguing against expansion of government. I like to remind my lefty friends not to give President Obama any power they don't want President Palin to wield.

Hat-tip: Instapundit

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 1:39 PM | What do you think? [0]

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