April 30, 2009

Obama SCOTUS Pick

How about Justice Arlen Specter?

... awesome.

SCOTUS Posted by AlexC at 10:41 PM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

We could (and likely will) do worse than Justice Specter. Jonah Goldberg calls him "the man who voted 'Glenfiddich' on Impeachment (the best bit of political punditry of all time).

In the same vein, I was thinking of Secretary Clinton's husband. Could do worse.

Whomever we get, he or she cannot possibly be worse that Justice Souter. Nothing in the world to lose here and, we can hope, President Obama might pick a Souter of his own.

Posted by: jk at May 1, 2009 5:51 PM

AP Speaks Truth

How's that 95% tax cut thingy workin' out for you?

WASHINGTON – Millions of Americans enjoying their small windfall from President Barack Obama's "Making Work Pay" tax credit are in for an unpleasant surprise next spring.

The government is going to want some of that money back.


Government Designed PDA

My greatest argument for freedom with young people is to talk about cell phones and iPods as products of the free market, then compare them to some devices and services that are more heavily regulated.

What if the government designed cellphones? Wonder no more. BoingBoing has the goods on the "craptastik" 2010 Census device.

censusdevice.jpg

The device she had strapped to her hand was a Harris HTC, which looks either like the ugliest cellphone you've ever seen, or a Palm Pilot designed by the US government. We scrolled through bad, inaccurate maps of the area, which looked like they'd been dumped from an early version of MapQuest, wondering how the ridgeline behind my house had magically been transformed into a navigable road, and talked about the device...
But their health care will absolutely rock! Hat-tip: Insty
Technology Posted by John Kranz at 6:00 PM | What do you think? [4]
But Keith thinks:

The remote for my portable fan has more useful functions, and probably better encryption. But the fingerprint recognition wasn't an option.

I'm betting this kludge also has all of Obama's speeches in MP3 format, pre-loaded, just like the iPod he gave the Queen.

Posted by: Keith at April 30, 2009 7:02 PM
But AlexC thinks:

I can't believe that's real.

It looks so shitty.

It's like something 1974 would come up with.

Posted by: AlexC at May 1, 2009 12:53 AM
But jk thinks:

Four 'C' cells required (not included).

Posted by: jk at May 1, 2009 5:53 PM
But Keith thinks:

Q: What's the range on that thing?

A: Depends. How good an arm do you have?

Posted by: Keith at May 1, 2009 9:40 PM

Quote of the Day

Honors to James Taranto, nailing it that nobody panicked when the Vice President said something stupid and outlandish.

Under normal circumstances, for the vice president of the United States to say what Biden said would have risked setting off a panic. Fortunately, everyone discounts for the fact that the vice president is Joe Biden.

Unfortunately, if President Obama were unable to perform the duties of his office, the vice president would become president--and the vice president is Joe Biden. That's no reason to panic, only to be afraid.


UPDATE: Heh. Insty: "They told me that if I voted for McCain we’d have a Vice President who was a moron… and they were right!"

VP Biden Posted by John Kranz at 4:28 PM | What do you think? [4]
But Keith thinks:

Everyone nod in agreement: Biden is the greatest insurance policy against impeachment in the history of America.

Yeah, we sure dodged a bullet with that Palin woman, didn't we?

Posted by: Keith at April 30, 2009 5:27 PM
But jk thinks:

Oh yeah -- she coulda been Vice-President!!

Posted by: jk at April 30, 2009 6:08 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I believe it was Ann Coulter who originally said, in her inimitable style, that Biden's Secret Service nickname is "Assassination Insurance."

I still wonder how much his, Obama's and Pelosi's life insurance premiums went up once Hillary became Secretary of State...

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at April 30, 2009 10:44 PM
But Keith thinks:

Three heartbeats away from the Oval Office - and scarier still, she's prob'ly the most competent of the four, and I would never have thought I'd have said that in public.

I have this vision of Hillary doing that cackle of hers while the still-warm blood of the three of them drips from her fangs. But then I woke up and realized that vision couldn't happen; while the Prezznit and Biden are at risk, Pelosi is clearly already numbered among the undead, from the rigor mortis showing on that face of hers. Yeah, I'm going to sleep real well tonight with THAT going through my head.

Posted by: Keith at May 1, 2009 1:28 AM

Longmont Times-Call Auditions for MSM

Blog friend Terri takes some humorous and effective whacks at the small Longmont Times-Call, hyping a front page story about recession-fueled military recruitment.

Nice caveat..."some". So you’d think they'd have one example anyway, right??
Sadly, no.

Small town papers are certainly not immune from MSMism. There are some microscopic papers in Lafayette and Louisville that are slightly to the left of Pravda.

Read the whole thing -- sorry it took me three days to link it.

But johngalt thinks:

Good catch Terri. As much as I prefer reading a hardcopy newspaper to hyperlinked virtual stories I just can't bring myself to subscribe to any of them. This is a perfect example of why that is so.

Posted by: johngalt at May 1, 2009 3:33 PM

Shreveport is Forgiven

I got beat up very badly when my band was traveling outside Shreveport, LA. We were, as AlexC would point out, a bunch of dirty hippies, but still I have harbored some less than positive feelings about the place.

Now, however, Shreveport may deliver our country from shortages on Natural Gas -- and with any luck obviate some of the nonsensical subsidies for "Green" energy. Those who realize CO2 is not a pollutant must concede natural gas to be one of the cleanest fuel choices.

CADDO PARISH, La. -- A massive natural-gas discovery here in northern Louisiana heralds a big shift in the nation's energy landscape. After an era of declining production, the U.S. is now swimming in natural gas.

Even conservative estimates suggest the Louisiana discovery -- known as the Haynesville Shale, for the dense rock formation that contains the gas -- could hold some 200 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. That's the equivalent of 33 billion barrels of oil, or 18 years' worth of current U.S. oil production. Some industry executives think the field could be several times that size.

"There's no dry hole here," says Joan Dunlap, vice president of Petrohawk Energy Corp., standing beside a drilling rig near a former Shreveport amusement park.


It's a little too far North, but I'll still extend them a heartfelt Lasseiz rouler les bon temps!


Without the Great Cheese

Reason's Veronique de Rugy asks the President not to turn the US into France





This is clearly where we are headed and this argument needs to be made, plus the John Galtish scenario of having France without a free US with which to trade and share innovation.

Hat-tip: Mankiw


Capital Tea

Some posts ago, The Refugee made a point that conservatism in the '80s was diminished by the MSM through non-reporting and condescension. He postulated that the tea parties were getting the same treatment.

This opinion piece by Arthur Brooks in today's WSJ would seem to bear that out. It contains some encouraging statistics.

Still, the tea parties are not based on the cold wonkery of budget data. They are based on an "ethical populism." The protesters are homeowners who didn't walk away from their mortgages, small business owners who don't want corporate welfare and bankers who kept their heads during the frenzy and don't need bailouts. They were the people who were doing the important things right -- and who are now watching elected politicians reward those who did the important things wrong.

Voices in the media, academia, and the government will dismiss this ethical populism as a fringe movement -- maybe even dangerous extremism. In truth, free markets, limited government, and entrepreneurship are still a majoritarian taste. In March 2009, the Pew Research Center asked people if we are better off "in a free market economy even though there may be severe ups and downs from time to time." Fully 70% agreed, versus 20% who disagreed.

Blog Brother PE has often made the case against redistribution on moral grounds. According to Brooks, that's exactly the case that must be made.

Economics and Markets Posted by Boulder Refugee at 11:19 AM | What do you think? [2]
But jk thinks:

I was just starting to post a link to the Brooks piece -- it is a compelling read. Allow me to tag along and provide the section a little farther down that I was going to excerpt:

To put a modern twist on the old axiom, a man who is not a socialist at 20 has no heart; a man who is still a socialist at 40 either has no head, or pays no taxes. Social Democrats are working to create a society where the majority are net recipients of the "sharing economy." They are fighting a culture war of attrition with economic tools. Defenders of capitalism risk getting caught flat-footed with increasingly antiquated arguments that free enterprise is a Main Street pocketbook issue. Progressives are working relentlessly to see that it is not.
Advocates of free enterprise must learn from the growing grass-roots protests, and make the moral case for freedom and entrepreneurship. They have to declare that it is a moral issue to confiscate more income from the minority simply because the government can. It's also a moral issue to lower the rewards for entrepreneurial success, and to spend what we don't have without regard for our children's future.
Enterprise defenders also have to define "fairness" as protecting merit and freedom. This is more intuitively appealing to Americans than anything involving forced redistribution. Take public attitudes toward the estate tax, which only a few (who leave estates in the millions of dollars) will ever pay, but which two-thirds of Americans believe is "not fair at all," according to a 2009 Harris poll. Millions of ordinary citizens believe it is unfair for the government to be predatory -- even if the prey are wealthy.

Posted by: jk at April 30, 2009 11:48 AM
But johngalt thinks:

It is very encouraging to see these kinds of ideas being discussed in mainstream publications by people who can influence GOP positions. (Almost as encouraging as seeng a British Petroleum TV commercial that advocates not only for wind, solar and biofuels, but oil and gas too!)

Dagny pointed out that the ideas expressed in the Brooks piece have appeared on these pages before. In the comments to a 2006 post dagny wrote:

"The second problem is philosophical (surprise). You are trying to defend individual freedoms on a collectivist basis. The reason we, “have the argument every time,” is that the majority of people including even you apparently have accepted the premise that the good or evil of a system is to be judged on a COLLECTIVE basis. This assumption allows any moonbat with an agenda to defend his policies on the, “my ideas are better for SOCIETY,” platform. Aka this time my Marxism will work. Your first paragraphs say that the classical liberal ideas result in better societies. This is true, but it is a by-product and not the reason why the ideas of Mises and Hayek are better.

Classical liberalism promotes individual freedom and that is the only standard of good that should be applied to governmental decisions."

AND ...

"As soon as you use the, “class improvement,” argument, especially as a primary argument, you are cutting out your own philosophical underpinnings. You have conceded the argument that governments should do some things because they are best for society. If idea X is best because it makes society better then I can suggest any idea X and insist that it hasn’t been tried exactly my way and it will make society better. This devolves into a he said/she said debate about how much curtailment of freedom is justified in order to make society “better”. THIS is why we keep having the argument “every time.” Because EVERY Marxist really does believe that HIS idea will make society “better.”

Freedom must be defended on an individual basis because then the latest Marxist idea X can be specifically, rationally, consistently and objectively refuted in terms of the freedoms it removes from specific individuals. Indeed, only individuals can possess freedom. (A “free society” is mere shorthand for a group of free individuals. Society is not an entity, it is an abstraction!) Individualism cannot be defended on a collective basis. To attempt to do so is philosophical suicide.

One cannot defeat an opponent’s argument by adopting it himself."

Go dagny!

Posted by: johngalt at May 1, 2009 1:33 PM

April 29, 2009

Kudlow on 100 Days

Larry has two great pieces this week. One on Senator Specter's Switcheroo, but also an even better, comprehensive look at the first 100 Obama days which incorporates the event. Kudlow says "In the blink of an eye, Obama may have ended the Reagan revolution."

And with Sen. Arlen Specter switching from Republican to Democrat, Obama can now move the nation even further to the left. A filibuster-proof Senate will mean even greater economic restructuring with expanded government control of health care and energy and increased unionization.

This looks very much like a war against investors, businesses, and entrepreneurs. Shareholder rights are being eviscerated. Political decisions are replacing the rule of law, the rule of bankruptcy courts, and free-market principles.


Safe to say Kudlow, the optimist-in-chief, is not seeing the sunny side of sixty votes either. We beat up the topic pretty well a few posts down, but another reason for torpor is the Osama bin-Laden strong-horse/weak-horse theory. I remember the delirium in 1995 when my own Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell defected to the GOP to join the mighty majority 104th. Everything was going our way and it underscored our advantages. I cannot be so shortsighted as to see this switch any other way.

But Boulder Refugee thinks:

For those crazy enough and/or strong enough to watch the press conference, Obama started out with a statement that was patently offensive. He said that thousands (or millions, I can't remember) of homeowners had refinanced their mortgage, which was like a tax cut. So, lenders are forced to take a haircut at the end of a legislative gun and he takes credit for a "tax cut." Unbelievable.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at April 29, 2009 10:09 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Let me try to remember how I put it to someone last night. So Obama is coercing businesses into charging less for their services, then taking credit as if he were so magnanimous in letting us keep more of our own property...except that he's still going "full steam ahead" in stealing our property anyway.

That's the robber saying he's doing you a favor, because even though he took as much as he'd have anyway, he pointed a gun at the guy you hired to mow your lawn and forced him to take less.

So forcing businesses to charge less, which means they'll have to cut workers' hours and/or lay some off, which will ripple throughout the economy, is a tax cut in Obama's Bizarro World.

As Mark Steyn recently penned:

As I like to say about Obama's plans to raise taxes only on the rich, you'll be surprised what percentage of the population find themselves in "the richest five percent" by the time we're through. There are simply not enough of "the rich" to pay for what western governments are spending.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at April 30, 2009 12:43 PM

Climate Change "Final Solution"

Brother BR's George Carlin post may have been a re-run but I'm pretty sure this one isn't. Satirist Progressivista says turning off our lights for one hour every year isn't going to get the job done in the cause against global climate change. It's time for the "final solution."

So, next year when Earth Hour comes around again — instead of having everyone turn off their lights for one hour — we should have them drink green-colored Kool-Aid laced with potassium chloride, which just happens to be not only the poison Jim Jones gave to his followers, but also the one many abortionists use to terminate those dreaded unbabies.

If the billion people who participated in this previous Earth Hour participate in our new and improved version, we will eliminate more than 7 trillion pounds of carbon emissions per year. And that’s assuming an even distribution of participants around the world. As participation would likely be higher in the nations that emit the most, the actual number of savings may be two or even three times as much.

And if we could get a billion people to participate each year, the planet would be saved in a very short amount of time indeed.

But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Sounds like a rather modest proposal.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at April 29, 2009 9:53 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Obama, Biden, Pelosi, Reid and all their state-worshipping followers can be first. What a vastly improved world we'd have!

And I'm not joking here.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at April 30, 2009 12:45 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Not only is it "modest" it is also guaranteed to "work."

Posted by: johngalt at May 1, 2009 12:38 PM

George Carlin Saves the Planet

This video has probably been around awhile given that George Carlin hasn't, but it calls out the hubris of the Green Movement in a way that only George Carlin can.

Hat tip: John E, The Refugee's B-i-L

But jk thinks:

You New folks. Actually, HB posted this last June when we lost Mr. Carlin. My comment from then, however, stands:

"De mortuis nil nisi bonum. Carlin has brought me great joy in his career and this clip is entertaining and thought provoking. I'll agree it is vintage Carlin.

"I have had a transcription of this emailed to me many times, and I was always a bit put off by his conclusion. I love the idea that Earth is tough; I am less enamored of the idea that human life is insignificant. We have free will, we wrote Kubla Khan, An Inquiry into the Wealth of Nations, the Magna Carta, and the Declaration of Independence.

"Funny and enjoyable skit, but we are not fleas.

"Me be too grouchy?"

Posted by: jk at April 29, 2009 1:52 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

In that case, The Refugee must invoke another old comedian, Steve Martin: "Well, excuuuuse me!"

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at April 29, 2009 2:17 PM
But jk thinks:

As the kiddies say, LOL. I just thought I recognized this. I have received this from many folks "of my stripe" on DAWG (dogs have stripes?) yet I am so far the only one offended by his estimation of human potential.

Posted by: jk at April 29, 2009 2:46 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I guess I neglected to comment in round one, so here's what I should have said.

I disagree with your summarization that Carlin called humanity insignificant, or said "we are fleas." What he said was that compared to the magnitude of earth and its ecosystem the impact of the presence of humans is like "a bad case of fleas."

The earth changes, he said, with natural disasters of every stripe. The key word here is "natural." The only life forms that survive are the ones that can adapt to those natural changes. Our rational mind makes us one of the most adaptable of all species, but the crap that some humans impose on the rest of us in the name of "saving the planet" only makes this adaptation more difficult.

Individuals among us did, as you say, create many great works. But whether literature, architecture, sculpture or scientific understanding, what difference does it make to the earth? Without humans here to preserve those things they'll vanish in our wake.

No, in super slow-mo instant replay I say Carlin got the call right.

Posted by: johngalt at April 29, 2009 4:09 PM

The Refugee Throws Down the Gauntlet

The Refugee has decided to return to his ancestral homeland of Boulder on May 9 to participate in the annual Colorado Walks for MS event. It will be a pleasant three mile hike around the Boulder Reservoir come rain or shine.

The Refugee invites - nay, challenges - all Three Sourcers to put their free market money where their free-flowing mouths are! He has set a $500 goal, which is about 2X the average knowing that Three Sourcers are also 2X the average.

To make a pledge, go to this link. Of course, any Three Sourcer in the area who would like to join in the walk is welcome to do so. Oh, and you may need to know The Refugee's real name: Phil Goodwin. The challenge is on!

But jk thinks:

Phil is The Refugee? I had no idea...

Okay, I'm in.

Posted by: jk at April 29, 2009 11:50 AM
But Keith thinks:

The challenge is accepted. I'm in as well.

Posted by: Keith at April 29, 2009 4:15 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Unfortunately I need to control expenses because my job was a casualty of the Community Reinvestment Act and all I get in return is an $8 per week tax cut (which doesn't apply to me because I'm not working.)

Heck, I've even suspended my NRA contributions!

Posted by: johngalt at May 1, 2009 12:40 PM

New Name for Swine Flu

The Obama Administration is accepting concerns from US Pork producers thst the name "Swine Flu" is deleterious to sales.

Head of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano suggests we refer to the H1N1 virus as "The Republican Flu."

Thanks you for your time and attention.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:50 AM | What do you think? [0]

April 28, 2009

More bad news for the wind power industry

Can the green power bubble really be popping already?

From the Guardian UK via American blogger Anthony Watts: 'Britain's Only Wind Turbine Plant to Close' A small excerpt:

"The UK has large wind resources and it's a priority for the government but the orders didn't move. That's why we're telling employees that we're not reinvesting there.

"We are waiting to see in the coming period if the government initiative announced last week will get the market to move again. At least it gives some hope but it's too early to tell."

Those pesky government-induced markets are a real bugger. Be sure to follow the link though and watch the impressive video of a wind turbine exploding. It's not described but appears to me as an overspeed condition. Too windy?

Found this while searching for the Governmentium joke. That old blog has been replaced by this new one by Anthony Watts - Watts up with that? Looks like good stuff.


And now for something completely different

dagny and I thought this emailed "Governmentium" joke was funny enough to post, even though it's been around for years. I'll not reprint it but instead link to another blog that posted it in '07. There are also some good comments there.


File Under "Duh"

BREITBART: WASHINGTON (AP) - Veteran Republican Sen. Arlen Specter disclosed plans Tuesday to switch parties, a move intended to boost his chances of winning re-election next year that will also push Democrats closer to a 60-vote filibuster-resistant majority.

"I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans," Specter said in a statement posted on a Web site devoted to Pennsylvania politics and confirmed by his office. Several Senate officials said a formal announcement could come later in the day or Wednesday.


Color this pragmatist concerned. Specter will be tough impossible to beat and he brings seniority and wily skills to the other side. We've lost a thorn but gained a tumor.

UPDATE: Good stuff as you'd imagine at PA H2O dS/dt>0 (keep scrolling). They're running toward the jubilant over there. We will see.

But Keith thinks:

And I have to call "bovine effluvia" on Specter's own spin. This is a guy who, a mere six weeks ago, said that he chose not to switch parties "because he is a Republican." Now he says: "no Senator, no matter how loyal he is to his Party, should or would put party loyalty above his duty to the state and nation."

(1) No matter how loyal he is to the party? When in the sphincter of Hell could that phrase possibly have been applied to Specter?

(2) Is he trying to tell us that, out of a sense of duty to state and nation, he is switching allegiance to the party that has done more to harm the nation than all of America's enemies in history have succeeded in doing, combined? Does he actually think that anyone not related to him by blood is stupid enough to believe that?

Political expediency - no more, and no less. But past all that, I wish him well, and offer him my congratulations. See what I mean here:

http://stand.blogtownhall.com/2009/04/29/congratulations,_arlen_specter.thtml

Posted by: Keith at April 29, 2009 5:22 PM
But jk thinks:

Let us not conflate the [non-]question of whether Senator Specter is a complete git with the question whether this is bad for the GOP.

I think our Keystone State friends at PSH20dS/dt>0 are whistling past the graveyard to think that a Democrat Senator Arlen Specter will somehow be better for liberty than a RINO one. And it looks like most of the ThreeSourcers are joining in.

RINOs cast at least one good vote every session for leadership. Now is a pretty bad time time to be losing seats. But I am glad you all are having a good time.

Posted by: jk at April 29, 2009 5:38 PM
But Keith thinks:

jk: you make a good point, and I appreciate your call for cooler heads to prevail. I'd propose we discuss this in terms of unemotional reason.

(1) Did we lose a filibuster-proof Senate? I tend to think not; my suspicion is that Republican Specter would have voted with the Dems for closure on a lot of issues.

(2) Which of Specter's votes change as a result of his change in party affiliation? I don't think we see a lot here; my sense is that Democrat Specter will vote pretty much like Republican Specter did.

(3) He's already announced his (weak) intention to continue voting against card check and the end of secret ballots on unions. Does he change on this? Future uncertain; try again later.

(4) A Toomey-Specter primary fight would have cost a lot of money for the GOP, and Toomey would have almost certainly have emerged the winner. We've just avoided those costs. With luck, we'll have the opportunity to see a bloody and expensive Specter-Sestak primary on the other side. Money not spent in the primary can be spent in the general, and the presumptive Toomey-Specter fight moves from the primary to the general. The key here is having the best conservative candidate run in the primary.

I understand PA has had a shift in the ratio of Democrats to Republicans in recent years, but I'm not yet convinced that translates into a leftward lurch of the state's electorate - just that the Republicans haven't given them a reason to register in their column. Specter depended on a significant crossover vote in the past; it would be up to the right candidate to energize voters.

I'm no expert on PA politics, and would gladly entertain the thoughts of someone who was...

Posted by: Keith at April 29, 2009 6:57 PM
But jk thinks:

And I appreciate the optimism! I'll even toss one your way: losing Specter's seniority will give his plum committee assignment to a more Republican Senator.

I suspect we do lose our pal Arlen on card check. That is my biggest worry. As for saving the primary money, dang, you are an optimist! Specter owns that seat in the general up to and well past his death. Getting knocked off in a Democratic primary would be pretty comical, but Toomey's chances against him in a statewide race are lim->0 (you pick the epsilon).

Posted by: jk at April 29, 2009 7:16 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Even if jk is more righterer than the rest of us, just think of it as "a tough investment now toward a brighter future for our children."

Posted by: johngalt at April 29, 2009 7:16 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

While I agree with JK in the voting principle that "party trumps person" as a rule, I have to go with JG on this one. Putting principles aside in an effort to cling to power is exactly what got us in this fix. The Republican brand was damaged by Democrat-like spending. With Republicans like Specter, Snowe and Collins, the filibuster firewall was illusory anyway, as we saw in the stimulus fight. Burnishing the brand at this time without much actual loss, as Keith noted, is worth it to me. I also don't count Toomey out in the general. A lot can happen between now and then.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at April 30, 2009 3:09 PM

Too Sad to be Funny; Too Funny to be Sad

I read several posts yesterday about the President's little photo-op over lower Manhattan. But this video captures the panic and terror and really puts it in perspective.





I'll admit to surprise that it attracted MSM coverage (East of the Hudson, I guess) but Perfunction offers more video in which Administration officials are actually asked pointed questions. Our new head of Homeland Security passes the buck to the FAA -- "they approved it."

As Instapundit (and this is an inline hat-tip) would say, "The Country's in the Very Best of Hands."


April 27, 2009

Quote of the Day

I'm lifting the Everyday Economist's Quote of the Day. So sue me.

“The credit card stocks didn’t tumble or anything so my question is with all this cheap talk who is Obama pandering to? Even if the terms of sub-prime mortgages are a big mystery, the terms of credit cards aren’t. Everybody knows cards have high interest rates and that they always have. Who has accumulated large balances on their cards by making purchase after purchase, not paying down the balance every month and yet thinks these large debt burdens are somehow the credit card company’s fault?” -- Will Ambrosini

Commenters on the Ambrosi site defend the action based on the complexity of variable credit card interest rates. I have to throw my lot in with the quote. If you don't know it's a bad idea to let cc balances accumulate you are not ready to live as a free man.

Posted by John Kranz at 7:11 PM | What do you think? [0]

You Damn Tea Partiers

Worth the bad audio to hear this. (Follow the link for good backstory.)



All this is preface: flush with other people’s money, and failing to produce results to match, an ordinary observer might assume that Sacramento City Unified School District has a problem with efficiency, not resources. But Jerry Houseman, Ed.D., of the SCUSD Board, is not an ordinary observer. Behold Dr. Houseman’s remarkable rant this past Thursday, April 16th, in which he blamed Sacramento’s educational failings on … the April 15th Tea Parties:

They watch that damn FOXNews doncha know...


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

How Much CO2 is REALLY reduced by wind and solar? 30-40% at BEST

Here is more evidence for brother Nanobrewer that wind power doesn't work as well as advertised. This time, on environmental and not merely ("merely" - sheesh) economic terms.

Co-written by former Secretary of Energy James Schlesinger, under whose leadership the National Renewable Energy Laboratory was established in Golden, CO, this Washington Post article explains that "the sun doesn't always shine and that the wind doesn't always blow." (Stay with me here.)

The climate change benefits that accrue from solar and wind power with 100 percent fossil fuel backup are associated with the fossil fuels not used at the standby power plants. Because solar and wind have the capacity to deliver only 30 to 40 percent of their full power ratings in even the best locations, they provide a carbon dioxide reduction of less than 30 to 40 percent, considering the fossil fuels needed for the "spinning reserve." That's far less than the 100 percent that many people believe, and it all comes with a high cost premium.

The economic disadvantages are mentioned too, if you care to read the article, but I figured you're already tired of reading about those.

NB, I'd be happy to discuss if you care to. Either in the comments, in person or via email.


Drill Baby, Drill

So why doesn't 'big oil' diversify and use some of its wealth and expertise to find [fill in your favorite cuddly adjective - clean, renewable, alternative, sustainable, holy] energy technologies to replace their "reprehensible" products? Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson says it's because if his company were to go into that field then congress would immediately cancel the tax subsidy. Actually what they would do is they would just cancel it for us," he said. He added: “In reality, that is what I fear would happen. So we are not going to go into investments that are dependent on a government providing a tax system to make them viable.”

By the way, Exxon said it was increasing its capital budget by 11% and will spend $29 billion next year on finding, drilling and refining fossil fuels and chemicals. So, they’re not planning on going anywhere, anytime soon.

April 26, 2009

"Dead as hell"

That's how wind champion T. Boone Pickens describes the market for wind energy projects in the wake of the mortgage banking crisis.

Wind power developers have long relied on complex tax-equity financing to bring most of their projects to market, but that system, once hailed as innovative, has collapsed over the last year, leaving the wind sector flailing for the cash it needs to make generation projects a reality.

This ought to give some insight into the economics of "alternative" energy in general and wind power in particular. Nanobrewer recently said he was convinced that wind power "works" economically and I suspect these complex tax-equity financing schemes are the biggest reason for that belief. But nothing about the scheme that made it "work" was the result of a free market. There are myriad ways for the house of cards to crumble. And now, in the wake of AIG and investment banking failures, even last year's most popular wind champion has to admit defeat.

So how badly is the sector hurting? Oil tycoon turned wind speculator T. Boone Pickens recently described the wind market as "dead as hell" to the Wall Street Journal. Richard Saunders, director of project development at GreenHunter Renewable Power, said Pickens was not far off.

Saunders estimates that in 2009, about 4,000 megawatts in new wind capacity will come online. That would be down significantly from the 8,400 MW built last year. And much of the new capacity is "really just things that are carrying over" from permits already issued in 2008.

"They've slowed down their activities tremendously," Saunders said. "They can't get the money."

If wind power "worked" economically then none of this would be happening. Consumer demand for the stuff would bring investment capital in torrents.

I also enjoyed the following point-counterpoint between wind industry analyst Tyler Tringas and ARI's Yaron Brook: "He [Tringas] added that he does not believe in government meddling, but he does think lawmakers need to account somehow for the cost of carbon." Brook's reply - "I don't believe there's an externality cost to CO2," he told Tringas.

UPDATE: This may (or may not) be the WSJ piece where Pickens first made the "dead as hell" assessment. I can't tell since it's subscription only and I only get the preview. Nonetheless, it bears mention for this:

Hit hard by the recession, the clean-energy industry is on the ropes. Governments are injecting stimulus money in hopes of keeping it alive, but what the industry ultimately needs is a far bigger dose of private investment.

In the space of a few months, the recession has slammed the brakes on what had seemed a full-tilt push for new ways to power the planet while emitting less pollution.

Umm, wasn't government "investment" supposed to create millions of "new energy jobs" that would pull America out of recession? If the recession itself has "slammed the brakes" then how can ANY amount of government "stimulus" make any difference?

But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

"If wind power "worked" economically then none of this would be happening. Consumer demand for the stuff would bring investment capital in torrents."

Exactamundo. I've meant to blog about this for a long time, ever since T. Boone started his hogwash.

He's looking at wind power because he sees a profit opportunity. If that were the end of it, I'd say "Power to him" and not blink an eye. However, he's seeking profit via government coercion: he's lobbying hard so government will skew markets in his favor, whether it's forcing energy producers to use more windmills or giving tax breaks to Pickens because he built more windmills early on.

He can go ____ himself up the tailpipe with one of those large windmills, and then go to hell.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at April 27, 2009 2:20 PM

April 25, 2009

The Airport to Nowhere

I'm glad this is getting dome play on ABC:


Hat-tip: Instapundit and I forget whom I lifted the headline joke from.

Posted by John Kranz at 7:56 PM | What do you think? [0]

Thank You, Mr President

Are you kidding me?

In Europe, the president was asked if he believed in “American exceptionalism,” and replied: “I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.”

Gee, thanks. A simple “no” would have sufficed. The president of the United States is telling us that American exceptionalism is no more than national chauvinism, a bit of flag-waving, of no more import than the Slovenes supporting the Slovene soccer team and the Papuans the Papuan soccer team. This means something. The world has had two millennia to learn to live without “Greek exceptionalism.” It’s having to get used to post-exceptional America rather more hurriedly.


Mark Steyn, a must read, as always.


April 24, 2009

Political Control

What's the matter with government running energy? Three words: Representative Henry Waxman

Rep. Gene Green, D-Texas, represents a district with several oil refineries, a huge source of greenhouse gas emissions. He also serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which must approve the global warming plan backed by President Barack Obama.

Green says Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., who heads the panel, is trying to entice him into voting for the bill by giving some refineries favorable treatment in the administration’s “cap and trade” system, which is expected to generate hundreds of billions of dollars over the coming years. Under the plan, companies would pay for the right to emit carbon dioxide, but Green and other lawmakers are angling to get a free pass for refineries in their districts.


Yet some people still believe this is going to provide more, cheaper, greener power than a free market. Hat-tip Insty, who also links to Brian Doherty's take.

UPDATE: Kim Strassel. Kim Strassel. Kim Strassel

Posted by John Kranz at 12:23 PM | What do you think? [0]

Fundamental Question

In what looks like six years of blogging (making me rich and famous as I'd planned all along) I think I may have come to the fundamental liberty discussion question. I'd appreciate any ThreeSourcers' indulging me with a comment.

I wanted to post about Randy Barnett's Federalism Amendment. It is right up our street of beliefs and concerns around here and it deserves to be discussed alone outside the context of this post. Sadly, I dismissed it casually, as I did blog brother JG's trenchant posts about possible flaws in the liberty-sapping 16th Amendment. Both Barnett and JG make valid points how Americans could reassert control of the government and re-establish the lamp of liberty. Isn't that all we talk about? Why discard two blueprints for achieving our goals?

I have lost the faith -- not in liberty but in the electorate's appreciation of it. Maybe I lived in Boulder County too long, but when I step away from ThreeSources, I find little yearning for freedom. My Facebook friends routinely post collectivist nonsense ("How about a candlelight evening once a week after Earth Day?" -- umm, how about "old people and sick children freeze in the dark day," oh sis-in-lawr?) My sister, who has probably never voted for a Democrat for President in her life is convinced the USDA is the only reason grocery chains don't sell tainted meat.

I don't see that the system can be fixed electorally because the electorate is in full bread and circuses mode (Panem et circenses as Brother Keith says). Maybe we could educate some on the ideas and ideals of liberty -- but the collectivists own the schools, media, and entertainment industries.

Sorry for the lack of optimism. I'll still fight at the margins to retain health care and as much of the energy sector as we can maintain. But I cannot see reversing collectivism electorally without the desire.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:28 AM | What do you think? [2]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

I share your sentiments that it will not be solved by the electorate, at least not in the short term. My finger-in-the-wind calculation is that 40% of the population favors collectivism and 25-30% favor American-style liberty. The group in the middle are not ideologically inclined and vote based on mood of the moment. Mathematically, however, that gives our side and uphill battle in every election. When in power, Dems move the marker 12 inches to the left. When Republicans are in power, they move the marker 3 inches to the right. The result of the game is less in doubt than the time.

Favoring liberty requires that you think and take responsibility for your screw-ups. If your twilight years are spent eating Ramen and working odd jobs, it's easier to ask for government assistance than accept that you didn't save enough and have no one else to blame. It's much easier to just drift through life accepting what others dictate and simply demand more.

I view socialism as a disease as much as alcoholism. It's progress and addictive. Moreover, addicts usually must hit "rock bottom" before they make the changes necessary to begin the recovery process. Europe is probably 25 years from rock bottom, when they simply cannot sustain the level of spending that the people demand. That's no guarantee of the road to recovery, but it will be a cataclysmic event. The US is about 20 years behind, but closing the gap rapidly.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at April 24, 2009 12:57 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I believe that liberty, or freedom, is an innately human desire. If this is true then the portion of the electorate that favors collectivism doesn't understand how it is a threat to their freedom. The portion of eligible voters who don't vote certainly doesn't understand this.

Consider this parable about catching wild pigs as an explanation of how innately free humans can willingly surrender their liberty. In the end, they don't actually realize that they are being held captive. That epiphany will come to each of them in time, but not all at once. This is why the audacity of President Historical and his accolytes in congress is a boon to liberty - more Americans will have the epiphany more quickly, and perhaps act to tear down some fences. Or at least stop voting for the government corn.

And yet, I think we do the collectivists a favor when we concede defeat in any arena. Speak out when you hear people espouse collectivist ideas in public, even if it's just to say "I disagree." Become active in your local school board. Write letters to the editor and call your elected officials to tell them what you think. And here's a bigger one -

I'd like to see some reform of the redistricting process. To allow politicians to gerrymander the districts that keep them in power is unhealthy. A simple but meaningful reform could be to require all statewide political districts to be formed only from whole counties. No more piecemealing slivers of inner-city populations with suburban or rural ones to give large urban areas undue influence over our national discourse. If Democrats want to represent rural areas then let them adopt rural values. Perhaps someone familiar with redistricting laws can tell my why this can or can not be done.

Posted by: johngalt at April 26, 2009 2:59 PM

Kind Words About the President

Sadly, like all my kind words about President Obama, this one comes under the subhead "at least he didn't mean that bull**** he said in the campaign. The WSJ Ed Page agrees:

Three cheers for President Obama's decision, announced quietly on Monday, to repudiate a campaign promise and not press for new labor and environmental regulations in the North American Free Trade Agreement. The last thing the Western Hemisphere needs are more trade barriers that would snarl supply chains and damage commerce.

Perhaps we should call this Austan Goolsbee's revenge.


Actually, his movements to normalize economic relations with Cuba could be a legitimate win for Hope and Change. Sadly, El Jefe might veto it, but I'll distribute some rare props either way.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:20 AM | What do you think? [3]
But johngalt thinks:

Before you go cheering "normalized economic relations with Cuba" you should acknowledge that any western currency spent on that prison island (and no, I don't mean Guantanamo Bay) is collected by the communist government, which then pays its citizens, paltry though the sum may be, in near worthless Cuban scrip currency.

Exchange rates: Cuban pesos (CUP) per US dollar - 0.9259 (2008 est.), 0.9259 (2007), 0.9231 (2006)
note: Cuba has two currencies in circulation: the Cuban peso (CUP) and the convertible peso (CUC); in April 2005 the official exchange rate changed from $1 per CUC to $1.08 per CUC (0.93 CUC per $1), both for individuals and enterprises; individuals can buy 24 Cuban pesos (CUP) for each CUC sold, or sell 25 Cuban pesos for each CUC bought; enterprises, however, must exchange CUP and CUC at a 1:1 ratio.

Posted by: johngalt at April 24, 2009 11:44 AM
But jk thinks:

I am a bit torn on this issue because of my geologically deep appreciation for the ex-pat Cuban community in Florida. These folks remain true believers in the embargo -- and that is almost good enough for me.

But, and we've done this before, my time in Ireland and England show the futility of an USA embargo when they can trade with Canada and Europe. Without partners, it is pretty silly and appears vindictive.

Lastly, I'll counter your technical points with philosophical. Seeing free Americans on the streets will augment interest in liberty and highlight the economic deprivations of Communism. And some of those people will get good American dollars as tips and in unauthorized trade.

Trade did not turn China into a Madisonian utopia, but it increased freedom and prosperity of her people -- I cannot deny my Cuban friends the meliorative effects of trade.

Oh, and have you had their coffee?

Posted by: jk at April 24, 2009 12:03 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Never had the coffee, but the cigars are worth smuggling. Not that The Refugee would ever do such a thing.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at April 24, 2009 3:28 PM

April 23, 2009

Club for Growth Rankings

The Club for Growth Congressional scorecard/rankings are out:

In the Senate, Sen. Jim DeMint gets the top slot. In the House (surprise!) it is Rep. Jeff Flake.

If I may continue my partisan hackery, the top 170 House members and all but two of the top 50 Senators have an R. Combine this with the goose-egg the stimulus bill got in the House with no Republican votes, together with some pretty stiff opposition in the GOP Senate Caucus (all but three). I don't find it too tough to pick a favorite.

But AlexC thinks:

I broke my state's congressional delegation down... the "moderate/conservative" Democrats are pretty bad.

Of course the moderate Republicans we have are nothing to brag about either... but we do have a 100%er.

http://pawatercooler.com/?p=12618

Posted by: AlexC at April 23, 2009 8:16 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Do I have to wonder how my ex-junior senator, Shrillary, and current senator Chuck "The Schmuck" Schumer are ranked?

Shrillary's successor, Gillibrand, comes from the House and scored 9%. That's the highest of any NY House Dem. My own rep, John Hall (formerly of the band Orleans) scored an unsurprising 0%. His economics are worse than his old band's music.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at April 24, 2009 11:33 AM

A Partisan Views the Tea Parties

No, not Keith Olberman. Me.

I have been pleased that the Tea Party movement has attracted some Democrats, and I think it would lessen its appeal to be seen as a product of the GOP. Attendees' willingness to condemn President Bush's overspending was a feature, not a bug.

And yet, this partisan pragmatist sees no hope for the GOP nor the Tea Partiers without a "New Fusionism" of small-government types in and out of the party. I was more than a little surprised to hear Michelle Malkin worry about the Republicans "co-opting" the movement. Besides the irony of my being more partisan than she, I cannot help but wonder whether the tea party movement couldn't co-opt the Republicans.

Professor Reynolds says "Yes, if the GOP blows it they could go the way of the Whigs." I share concern that my beloved Republicans won't blow it, but I just have to ask the tea partiers what other avenues they have to channel their energy. Okay, everybody loves the romance of a pure new party devoted to liberty and limited government! No baggage! No Incumbents! Isn't it great?

....eight, nine, ten. Can we all come back to Earth now? If the Whigs cratered in 1841 when President Harrison died, it was almost 20 years before a Republican was inaugurated. And it has now been 148 since a new party succeeded. Sixteen years from Reagan's Goldwater speech to his election. I suggest that we do not have 16 or 20 or 148 years. I suggest that there will be no more light of liberty if we allow the present political class to run things until then.

The Republican Party has a 50-state infrastructure that cannot be recreated in a short time. Splintering the party further with a Ross Perot-ish fiscal hawk, a Libertarian and a traditional GOP base would guarantee the rule of a united, collectivist, union-dominated Democratic Party for years to come.

Want romance? Subscribe to Starz®. Want to stop collectivism? Strengthen, support, and improve the Republican Party.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:56 PM | What do you think? [2]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

"Ross Perot-ish fiscal hawk"

Or so he tried to appear. He wanted to "balance the budget" and "rebuild our infrastructure" in part by tax hikes -- at the very least, he did propose a 50 cent per gallon gasoline tax.

My family was enamored of Perot until it was clear he talked a lot of generalities but didn't have an idea of what he'd actually do. It was such a weird year, with the main issue being anti-GHWB, that even my fellow Southern Baptist church member (an NRA life member with Yosemite Sam "Back off" mudflaps on his Dodge Ram) said he was going to vote for Clinton.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at April 23, 2009 1:47 PM
But jk thinks:

I have a few family members I still tease with "thanks for Clinton!"

Without discussing his merits either way, I think the Tea Partiers would be extremely vulnerable to a similar figure, who could mix a little fiscal discipline into populism. And I suspect the results would be about the same as '92.

Posted by: jk at April 23, 2009 1:54 PM

TARP As A Second Budget

One of many good points in this clip from Kudlow & Co.:





Hat-tip: Don Luskin


April 22, 2009

Quote of the Day

Nick Gillespie massacres President Obama's calls for national service and AmeriCorps:

This is especially true when it is paid service even as those participating and spending your tax dollars luxuriate in the silky-smooth language of altruism. Which, last time I checked, was supposed to be free. Jesus rendered unto Caesar; he didn't ask for a block grant from Pontius Pilate in return.

Honorable mention to: "Second, AmeriCorps is a program with a long and distinguished history of sucking even by government standards. It effectively comes in second to the standard-issue DMV bureau, with its director in 2003 dubbing it 'another cumbersome, unpredictable government bureaucracy.'"

Posted by John Kranz at 7:07 PM | What do you think? [0]

What Would Obama Do?

Some of you may remember The Heretic, a self-confessed liberal of Indian decent who opined on these pages prior to the last election. Well, The Heretic and The Refugee have been debating which is a bigger immediate threat: Iran or Pakistan. The Refugee picks Iran, while The Heretic has thrown his nod to Pakistan.

The Heretic questioned The Refugee's judgement with this reference (Times of India) to The Taliban taking control of the Bruner district, just 60 miles from Islamabad. The Refugee posed this question: "What would India do if the Taliban overthrew the Pakistani government?" The Heretic responded by saying that it's more important to know what the U.S. would do.

And, he's absolutely right. As the world's lone Super Power, it is important to know what Obama would do. So, The Refugee enlightened The Heretic and thought he would share the solution with Three Sourcers. However, he accepts no credit for prescience as any Three Sourcer could have done the same.

1. Condemn the aggression.
2. Blame George Bush.
3. Ask for calm.
4. Promise that we won't torture them.
5. Say that we need a "united front" against such aggression.
6. Go the United Nations for a resolution.
7. Dispatch the Sec of State to the region for high level "summits."
8. Accept rebuke from Russia and China (and possibly France).
9. Blame George Bush.
10. Accept that the UN will do absolutely nothing and declare it a victory.
11. Apologize for everything America has ever done, might have done, or been accused of doing.
12. Hold a press conference to lecture Americans about how we need to take the time to listen to the Taliban so that we can understand why they hate us and how this will surely change the dynamics of the "failed policies of the past."
13. Remove our troops from Afghanistan, because that's what made the Taliban mad in the first place and our presence is just a terrorist recruiting tool.
14. Blame George Bush.
15. Tell everyone how "green energy" is the solution.
16. Write another book entitled, "The Crimes of Your Fathers."

At least Bill Clinton had the testicles to blow up an aspirin factory.

UPDATE: Here's a great treatise on "The Obama Doctrine" by Ben Shapiro writing for Townhall, summarized as "Don't Blame Me." Worth the read. Hat tip: realclearpolitics.com

Iran Posted by Boulder Refugee at 4:39 PM | What do you think? [1]
But T. Greer thinks:

BR- I imagine this conversation between you and the Refugee was quite interesting. Could you share with us the reasoning behind your position? Personally, I would not put Iran in the top five security threats facing the United States, much less the #1 position. Would it be too much to ask what prompts you to stake out this position?

Posted by: T. Greer at April 24, 2009 3:53 PM

King Obama Decrees

Neither Holman Jenkins (or his illustrator) have quite gotten the message of Hope and Change:

So King Barack the Mild is finding as he tries to dictate the terms of what amounts to an out-of-court bankruptcy for Chrysler and GM. He wants Chrysler's secured lenders to give up their right to nearly full recovery in a bankruptcy in return for 15 cents on the dollar. They'd be crazy to do so, of course, except that these banks also happen to be beholden to the administration for TARP money.
[...]
They've already seen that the rights and privileges of shareholders are not worth diddly when the king is throwing his prerogatives around. He dispensed with the services of GM chief Rick Wagoner, though the king owned not a single share of GM stock at the time. His minions communicated the king's pleasure that GM consider discontinuing its GMC brand, maker of pickups and SUVs that offendeth the royal eye -- though these vehicles earn GM's fattest profit margins.

His minions haven't asked GM to give up the Chevy Volt, even after determining it will be a profitless black hole, because of the king's fondness for green.


GOP Planks Posted by John Kranz at 12:54 PM | What do you think? [4]
But Keith thinks:

I just wish it wasn't the hard-earned green in my wallet that Obama had such a fondness for.

Posted by: Keith at April 22, 2009 2:58 PM
But Russ Shurts thinks:

Good stuff.

These commentators are being far too kind to our new president. He has dictator written all over him. But he's actually the best thing to come along in many years...because he has so very nicely crystallized everything so people can see the true differences between altruism and egoism.

Posted by: Russ Shurts at April 23, 2009 8:49 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Hmmm. There's that d-word again.

Posted by: johngalt at April 23, 2009 12:36 PM
But jk thinks:

I'm still not quite to the d-word, jg, but if the Administration carries through with show trials for Bush Administration officials on torture, you'll have me.

Posted by: jk at April 23, 2009 1:37 PM

It's Not Easy Being Green

Heritage updates Kermit's Lyrics:

It’s so expensive being green,
Having to pay for all the things big government needs,
When I think it could be nicer not being taxed,
for energy, or my car, or my home’s heating, things like that.

It’s so expensive being green,
It seems the taxes blend in with so many ordinary policies these days,
And people tend to pass them over, because they’re not standing out like flashy payroll taxes or spending that’s skyyy high.

But, green is the color of taxes,
and green can seem cool and friendly-like,
And green taxes will be big, like a mountain, or seem important like a river of debt,
or sacrifice jobs for a tree.

When green is all your allowed to be,
It can make you wonder why,
But why wonder, why wonder,
Your green, and business won’t do fine, but you better get used to it.
It’s who you have to be.


Follow the link to a video of the original.


Exploit-the-Earth Day

In 1970 a US Senator created 'Earth Day' to "inspire awareness and appreciation for the earth's environment." But this movement has since metastasized from "appreciating" the earth's environment to deifying it. As a result, any productive human activity can be villified as "pollution."

In contrast, Objectivist philosopher and publisher Craig Biddle wrote that the correct moral path is to celebrate "Exploit-the-Earth Day" instead. [email article - Click 'continue reading' for the full text.]

Environmentalism rejects the basic moral premise of capitalism—the idea that people should be free to act on their judgment—because it rejects a more fundamental idea on which capitalism rests: the idea that the requirements of human life constitute the standard of moral value. While the standard of value underlying capitalism is human life (meaning, that which is necessary for human beings to live and prosper), the standard of value underlying environmentalism is nature untouched by man.

For at least 45,000 years human beings have been exploiting the resources of earth and nature for their survival and prosperity. There is certainly no rational reason to quit now. In celebration of exploiting the earth I have created two original prints and I publish them here now for free public use.

There is no middle ground here. Either human life is the standard of moral value, or it is not. Either nature has intrinsic value, or it does not.

On April 22, make clear where you stand. Don’t celebrate Earth Day; celebrate Exploit-the-Earth Day—and let your friends, family, and associates know why.

Hat tip: jg's friend, henceforth (and long overdue) to be known as 'brother' Russ.

{Hint: Right-click on 'save target as' not 'save picture as' below so that you'll get the high resolution versions.}


________________________________________________________________________
Op-ed from The Objective Standard

On April 22, Celebrate Exploit-the-Earth Day

by Craig Biddle


Because Earth Day is intended to further the cause of environmentalism—and because environmentalism is an anti-human ideology—on April 22, those who care about human life should not celebrate Earth Day; they should celebrate Exploit-the-Earth Day.

Exploiting the Earth—using the raw materials of nature for one’s life-serving purposes—is a basic requirement of human life. Either man takes the Earth’s raw materials—such as trees, petroleum, aluminum, and atoms—and transforms them into the requirements of his life, or he dies. To live, man must produce the goods on which his life depends; he must produce homes, automobiles, computers, electricity, and the like; he must seize nature and use it to his advantage. There is no escaping this fact. Even the allegedly “noble” savage must pick or perish. Indeed, even if a person produces nothing, insofar as he remains alive he indirectly exploits the Earth by parasitically surviving off the exploitative efforts of others.

According to environmentalism, however, man should not use nature for his needs; he should keep his hands off “the goods”; he should leave nature alone, come what may. Environmentalism is not concerned with human health and wellbeing—neither ours nor that of generations to come. If it were, it would advocate the one social system that ensures that the Earth and its elements are used in the most productive, life-serving manner possible: capitalism.

Capitalism is the only social system that recognizes and protects each individual’s right to act in accordance with his basic means of living: the judgment of his mind. Environmentalism, of course, does not and cannot advocate capitalism, because if people are free to act on their judgment, they will strive to produce and prosper; they will transform the raw materials of nature into the requirements of human life; they will exploit the Earth and live.

Environmentalism rejects the basic moral premise of capitalism—the idea that people should be free to act on their judgment—because it rejects a more fundamental idea on which capitalism rests: the idea that the requirements of human life constitute the standard of moral value. While the standard of value underlying capitalism is human life (meaning, that which is necessary for human beings to live and prosper), the standard of value underlying environmentalism is nature untouched by man.

The basic principle of environmentalism is that nature (i.e., “the environment”) has intrinsic value—value in and of itself, value apart from and irrespective of the requirements of human life—and that this value must be protected from its only adversary: man. Rivers must be left free to flow unimpeded by human dams, which divert natural flows, alter natural landscapes, and disrupt wildlife habitats. Glaciers must be left free to grow or shrink according to natural causes, but any human activity that might affect their size must be prohibited. Naturally generated carbon dioxide (such as that emitted by oceans and volcanoes) and naturally generated methane (such as that emitted by swamps and termites) may contribute to the greenhouse effect, but such gasses must not be produced by man. The globe may warm or cool naturally (e.g., via increases or decreases in sunspot activity), but man must not do anything to affect its temperature. And so on.

In short, according to environmentalism, if nature affects nature, the effect is good; if man affects nature, the effect is evil.

Stating the essence of environmentalism in such stark terms raises some illuminating questions: If the good is nature untouched by man, how is man to live? What is he to eat? What is he to wear? Where is he to reside? How can man do anything his life requires without altering, harming, or destroying some aspect of nature? In order to nourish himself, man must consume meats, fruits, and vegetables. In order to make clothing, he must skin animals, pick cotton, manufacture polyester, and the like. In order to build a house—or even a hut—he must cut down trees, dig up clay, make fires, bake bricks, and so forth. Each and every action man takes to support or sustain his life entails the exploitation of nature. Thus, on the premise of environmentalism, man has no right to exist.

It comes down to this: Each of us has a choice to make. Will I recognize that man’s life is the standard of moral value—that the good is that which sustains and furthers human life—and thus that people have a moral right to use the Earth and its elements for their life-serving needs? Or will I accept that nature has “intrinsic” value—value in and of itself, value apart from and irrespective of human needs—and thus that people have no right to exist?

There is no middle ground here. Either human life is the standard of moral value, or it is not. Either nature has intrinsic value, or it does not.

On April 22, make clear where you stand. Don’t celebrate Earth Day; celebrate Exploit-the-Earth Day—and let your friends, family, and associates know why.

***

But Keith thinks:

In honor of Earth Day, I suppose we should remind everyone of the awesome power of green energy:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OKcD_aLZ9EI

Well, okay, it's more of a bluish-green.

Posted by: Keith at April 22, 2009 8:20 PM
But johngalt thinks:

HA! The people waiting with breathless anticipation remind me of the ones on the train in the 'Atlas Shrugged' tunnel scene.

Posted by: johngalt at April 23, 2009 12:33 PM

April 21, 2009

First One Hundred Days

Grade it.

I'm going with F, along with over a million of my countrymen.

failure

But jk thinks:

Must chap their hide over at MSNBC something fierce!

Posted by: jk at April 22, 2009 7:09 AM
But johngalt thinks:

With me, a million and one.

As for MSNBC being chapped... naw, they just dismiss it as "the redneck vote." They'll only acknowledge the A-D votes.

They are free to call me a redneck - I take no offense - but I'd rather be called a cowboy.

Posted by: johngalt at April 22, 2009 10:27 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Putting things in perspective, it takes all A, B and C raters to equal the Fs.

Also, this survey means that 69% of Americans are racists (overtly or in the closet) for not believing in The One.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at April 22, 2009 11:44 AM
But johngalt thinks:

With a majority clearly giving him an F, I say it's time to unpimp the Obama Administration.

Posted by: johngalt at April 22, 2009 7:33 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Technically it's a plurality giving him an F, although not much shorter than a majority. A definite majority, though, are giving him either a D or an F.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at April 23, 2009 11:24 AM

Citizens or Subjects II

A great friend whom I had better not identify does cancer research and sent along some comments on my post about Provenge approval. When I said that only me and the Wall Street Journal Ed Page cared, I think I left a few folks out. There are a lot of caring MDs and technicians who work on these trials.

> I read your Three Sources post regarding the FDA denial of approval
> for Provenge with great interest. A few years back I conducted a few
> trials with Dendreon's vaccine against multiple myeloma.

> Getting FDA approval was an
> expensive and cumbersome process and, as a small biotech start-up,
> Dendreon desperately needed to get something to market.
> Unfortunately, due to economic pressures
> Dendreon eventually made a business decision to
> abandon their myeloma program. The prostate cancer vaccine program
> was farther along and frankly would have a much bigger market, so they
> put their eggs in that basket. A few months ago, I decided to
> re-look at our data. We compared all the patients enrolled in our
> trial to all the patients with myeloma who were not enrolled in the
> trial and had a stem cell transplant during the same time interval.

> Patients in the vaccine trial have lived an average 2 years longer
> than the patients who did not get the vaccines.
> Alas, because the FDA made the approval process so
> cumbersome, the vaccines are no longer available. So we cannot do the
> larger confirmatory trials to see if the vaccine really works.

> Feel free to excerpt anonymously as an example
> of how FDA policy costs lives. Multiple myeloma is a fatal cancer
> with life expectancy of 3-5 years. If our findings hold up, two years
> is a huge advance.


Beyond the Martha Stewarts and Sam Waksals, it has been my main point that the FDA scares capital out of the pharmaceutical sector. Here, its sluggishness and capriciousness cause a firm to abandon a promising treatment.


But johngalt thinks:

Indeed. We look at President Historical and Speaker Business Jet's promises to nationalize healthcare and wonder where Canadians will then go when they really need a critical medical procedure. Free-market medicine is more advanced, medically and scientifically, than that in a controlled market. But since the U.S. economy is mixed there are doubtless many potential advances that never occurred, even here, as a result.

Posted by: johngalt at April 23, 2009 12:29 PM

Truth to Power

That whooshing sound you hear is the whole Upper West Side gasping for breath.

Science Editor John Tierney tells it like it is in the New York Times in Use Energy, Get Rich, and Save the Planet.

1. There will be no green revolution in energy or anything else. No leader or law or treaty will radically change the energy sources for people and industries in the United States or other countries. No recession or depression will make a lasting change in consumers’ passions to use energy, make money and buy new technology — and that, believe it or not, is good news, because...

2. The richer everyone gets, the greener the planet will be in the long run.


A little choir preaching -- but ThreeSourcers should cherish every word, and then store the link to rebut their acquaintances.

But T. Greer thinks:

I have always liked Tierny. He is a pragmatist first and foremost, and has never been afraid to tell environmental activist crowd when they are scare mongering. In addition, he has always been fair to the adaptation advocates, whom I count myself among.

*sigh*

I wish more science editors had his backbone.

Posted by: T. Greer at April 21, 2009 6:53 PM
But jk thinks:

Amen to both. Tierney is great.

Posted by: jk at April 21, 2009 7:42 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I just noticed. That's, uh, Upper West Side. :)

And if it's the NY Times building, that's still midtown.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at April 23, 2009 1:49 PM
But jk thinks:

Thanks to our NYC editor for keeping me honest. I have since corrected West Upper Side to Upper West Side (dang it, even I know that). And I was looking more for the true believing subscribers than the publisher.

Posted by: jk at April 23, 2009 2:03 PM

Brian Wesbury on Tea Parties

Brian Wesbury, frequent contributer to Kudlow & Co., also pens a weekly Forbes column with colleague Robert Stein. This week they write a strong defense of the tea party protests, and even segue another ThreeSources post into it, as a description of "Public Choice Theory."

A perfect example of this process can be found in the Sunday edition of The Washington Post, in the story "Murtha's Earmarks Keep Airport Aloft." The Post reported that John Murtha, D-Pa., using his powerful position on the House Appropriations Committee, has steered $200 million of federal funds to support the John Murtha Airport in Johnstown, Pa. Most voters have never heard of this airport and pay little for it. But passenger traffic is down by half in the past 10 years, even though the congressman uses it frequently. One could only wonder what would happen if all Americans were allowed to vote to continue funding this facility. But that's not the way the process works.

Great piece. Hat-tip: Instapundit

Posted by John Kranz at 3:37 PM | What do you think? [0]

Statute of Limitations

On a Presidential gaffe? Never!

Ilya Somin at Volkh, via Insty, reminds us of the 30th anniversary of our 39th President's brush with death in the "Killer rabbit attack."

The animal was clearly in distress, or perhaps berserk. The President confessed to having had limited experience with enraged rabbits. He was unable to reach a definite conclusion about its state of mind. What was obvious, however, was that this large, wet animal, making strange hissing noises and gnashing its teeth, was intent upon climbing into the Presidential boat.

I was looking for a YouTube or iTunes of Arlo Guthrie singing Tom Paxton's "I Don't Want a Bunny Wunny in my Wittle Wowboat" I heard him do it many (< 30) years ago and it still mesmerizes. No iTunes, some YouTubes as part of a longer show.

Let the record show that -- above my differences with President Carter -- I respect him as a naval hero. No doubt this was blown out of proportion. But no doubt this was funny. Happy Anniversary, Mr. President!

Posted by John Kranz at 1:39 PM | What do you think? [0]

TEA Bagging Rednecks

If President Obama were (completely) white would protests against "spreading the wealth around" still be racist? Duh.

This is what nobody is watching over on MSNBC.

Oooh, isn't Keith clever!

Did it ever occur to Jan that if most of the people protesting taxes are white this tends to show that most of the people being taxed are white? Doesn't this make taxation "racist?"

You can reason with all of the people some of the time, but you can't reason with some of the people any of the time.

But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Garofalo's views are so wacky she got tossed from the uber-liberal Air America. So, Olbermann gives her prime time. Says a lot about Olbermann, too.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at April 21, 2009 12:55 PM
But jk thinks:

I've had many unkind words for FOXNews around here. But I cannot in my wildest dreams imagine (mutatis mutandis) an equivalent scene: the teabagging slurs, the assertion that an opposing political view is a neurological disorder, the denigration of a large group of ordinary citizens -- am I naive? Would Hannity and Dick Morris yuk it up like this?

Posted by: jk at April 21, 2009 2:01 PM
But Kathy T. thinks:

The answer is NO. Hannity and Morris are unabashed conservatives but are not evil minded like Garofalo is. I've watched both for years and have never heard such vulgar garbage from either of their mouths. She should be banned from all media. She is a disgrace.

Posted by: Kathy T. at April 25, 2009 10:51 PM

April 20, 2009

Hate to Whack a Guy for Trying, But---

Heritage thinks a picture worth a few words

obama_cuts.jpg

Instapundit and I agree

But johngalt thinks:

Arthur Laffer said recently that when he worked on President Reagan's budget team they considered $46 million to be a rounding error. "We rounded it to zero." That was in the early '80s.

Posted by: johngalt at April 21, 2009 12:24 PM

Fiscal Responsibility II

WaPo reports that the President will ask his cabinet members to come with $100 Million in budget cuts.

To put those numbers in perspective, imagine that the head of a household with annual spending of $100,000 called everyone in the family together to deal with a $34,000 budget shortfall. How much would he or she announce that spending had be cut? By $3 over the course of the year--approximately the cost of one latte at Starbucks. The other $33,997? We can put that on the family credit card and worry about it next year.

Hat-tip: Professor Mankiw

But Keith thinks:

But it will be duly reported throughout the obedient MSM that Obama is demanding "budget cuts," and the proles who voted him in will nod in solemn agreement that the Prezznit is cutting budgets. $100 mill seems like a lot of budget cuts to people with no sense of numbers with that many zeroes - especially those who learned math in the California public education system.

Posted by: Keith at April 20, 2009 3:40 PM

Citizen or Subject?

One of my favorite parts of Amity Shlaes's The Forgotten Man is when the publisher of Good Housekeeping is at the White House (for dinner as I recall) and is told about the new FDA that will replace her cherished "Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval."

I have tiresomely suggested a privatized FDA based on the Underwriter's Laboratory/CSA model, but I think I'd take about anything over what we have now. While 30,000 die each year of prostrate cancer, the FDA is empowered (again) to keep its most promising new drug off the market for a couple of years so that the developer can complete some more t-dotting and i-crossing. And only the WSJ Ed Page and I seem to care.

Provenge is an advanced cancer "vaccine," which stimulates the body's immune system to attack tumor cells and thereby fight off cancer on its own, instead of using chemotherapy or surgery. In an earlier placebo-controlled Phase III trial (the most rigorous kind), men with late-stage cancer who received Provenge lived a median of 25.9 months, compared with 21.4 months otherwise. After three years, 34% were alive, compared to only 11% for the control group. In March 2007, an FDA advisory panel voted 13 to 4 that there was "substantial evidence" the drug worked, and 17-0 that it was safe.

But later that year, the FDA delayed approval, ruling that the trial did not meet its criteria for statistical significance and that the patient sample was too small. So Dendreon agreed to complete another double-blind trial to FDA specifications, and Dendreon officials say the results have now met those benchmarks. The detailed results will be presented later this month.

The larger question is why Provenge wasn't made available sooner to the 30,000 American men who die each year from prostate cancer. The FDA regularly -- and pointlessly -- slow-walks potentially revolutionary therapies, relying on overly simplistic and unscientific statistical models that don't take into account the fact that some drugs may work better in certain subgroups than in others. Its regulatory blockade is especially cruel to terminally ill patients for whom drugs like Provenge may mean extra months or years of life.


And the even larger question is are we citizens or subjects? Must we go quietly die in the corner while we wait for our goverment to "approve" a treatment that was voted 17-0 for safety?

But Keith thinks:

jg: I confess I don't recognize that one, and it would be cheating to google it, so either it's an original jg epigram, or you're going to have to edumacate me. BUT - and this is a critical but - if, as you assert, "there are no great men," then Howard Roark's statement that great men can't be ruled becomes moot.

There's a syllogism in there, and one worthy of Shaw.

I'll confess the quotation is in response to jk's chosen title for this post, "Citizen or Subject?" and the question of whether we are free citizens, or vassals of a state bent on commanding us.

"I am not a number! I am a free man!" Anyone want to take a stab at that one?

Posted by: Keith at April 21, 2009 5:56 PM
But Keith thinks:

As for "There are no great men only great ideas and the men who promulgate them," I would propose that great ideas require great men to originate them, wise men to recognize them, and good men to support them.

No offense intended to any ladies among the readership...

Posted by: Keith at April 21, 2009 5:59 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

"we have so willingly ceded to the government the right to protect our life. Though it came in with FDR nobody I know (except ThreeSourcers) can even imagine a world without the FDA."

You may have ceded that to government, and I did once upon a time, but I have taken back what I mistakenly gave away. Let me put it this way. If there's a certain medicine I want, I'm going to get and use it, and there's not a damn thing the government can do to stop me. But I guess I'm just a "radical" like Jefferson when it comes to freedom.

I can most certainly imagine a world without the FDA. It existed only a matter of several decades ago. Our foods and preparation methods are far superior than ever, but that isn't because of the FDA or health departments. It's because of technology.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at April 22, 2009 12:03 PM
But johngalt thinks:

You're right Keith, it's an original, and loosely based on Admiral Bull Halsey's "There are no great men. Just great challenges that ordinary men, out of necessity, are force by circumstance to meet."

My contention was that the greatness of one's ideas is what makes him great, but this leaves out his actions. Not very profound after all.

Posted by: johngalt at April 22, 2009 3:42 PM
But johngalt thinks:

RE: "I am not a number! I am a free man!"

dagny's guess is 'Les Miserables'

jg's guess is 'THX-1138' (For which, incidentally, jg thinks Lucas "borrowed" the theme from Rand's "Anthem."

Posted by: johngalt at April 23, 2009 12:17 PM
But Keith thinks:

jg and dagny: both fine guesses, but not quite. I should pay tribute here to Mr. Beck, my seventh-grade science teacher, who, once a week, would read to his science class a section of Anthem (and when that book was finished, Animal Farm). I couldn't wait for the next week to come, and after Anthem, I couldn't get enough of Ayn Rand. Hard to believe I can thank a California public schoolteacher for planting the first seeds of my Weltanschauung.

No, "I am not a number! I am a free man!" comes from a British television series about government and individualism: The Prisoner (1967 - before your time, young'uns):

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0061287/

Posted by: Keith at April 23, 2009 1:35 PM

April 19, 2009

Fiscal Responsiblity

Catch the Fever!

President Obama: "Keeping the Promises"

"I realize that passing this budget won’t be easy. Because it represents real and dramatic change, it also represents a threat to the status quo in Washington. I know that the insurance industry won’t like the idea that they’ll have to bid competitively to continue offering Medicare coverage, but that’s how we’ll help preserve and protect Medicare and lower health care costs for American families. I know that banks and big student lenders won’t like the idea that we’re ending their huge taxpayer subsidies, but that’s how we’ll save taxpayers nearly $50 billion and make college more affordable. I know that oil and gas companies won’t like us ending nearly $30 billion in tax breaks, but that’s how we’ll help fund a renewable energy economy that will create new jobs and new industries. I know these steps won’t sit well with the special interests and lobbyists who are invested in the old way of doing business, and I know they’re gearing up for a fight as we speak.

obama-budget-debtjpg

But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Heritage usually puts out excellent work, and the two problems here aren't really their fault. They're just going by the CEA's numbers. However, what they should have done is take the CEA's projections, then say the numbers underproject future debt. Going the extra mile is what gets an "A" on an economics class exam.

As bad as the CEA shows us, the projection still vastly understates future debt. It's utterly stupid to adjust debt for inflation. The CEA doesn't know what inflation will be over the next decade. But it's worse than stupid: the CEA is using it as a trick so that total federal debt will look smaller than today.

The second problem is that the CEA and most everyone else aren't taking into account what will happen after 2016. That's when Social Security outlays will exceed revenues, and the SSA must start redeeming the so-called "trust fund." The problem, of course, is that the Treasury, by law, already got the money to spend according to Congressional legislation.

There will be two effects. First, the SSA's deficit will have to come from shifts in federal spending and/or tax hikes. Any tax hikes can be specific to SS or come from other federal revenue. It's highly doubtful that benefits will be cut. AARP and senior citizens as a whole, "the geezers from hell" as Mark Russell once sang, are too powerful a lobby.

This country is going faster and faster on its way to hell, and most Americans act as if they can't get there fast enough.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at April 21, 2009 8:58 PM

Fly Murtha Airways!

I don't think this is quite what Mister Madison had in mind. At the John Murtha Airport, the screeners outnumber the passengers -- but Federal Jack keeps it in operation.

Inside the terminal on a recent weekday, four passengers lined up to board a flight, outnumbered by seven security staff members and supervisors, all suited up in gloves and uniforms to screen six pieces of luggage. For three hours that day, no commercial or private planes took off or landed. Three commercial flights leave the airport on weekdays, all bound for Dulles International Airport.

The key to the airport's gleaming facilities -- and, indeed, its continued existence -- is $200 million in federal funds in the past decade and the powerful patron who steered most of that money here. Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.) is credited with securing at least $150 million for the airport. It was among the first in the country to win funding from this year's stimulus package: $800,000 to repave a backup runway.

The facility, newly renamed the John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport, is a testament to Murtha's ability to tap streams of federal money for pricey, state-of-the-art projects that are rare among regional airports of comparable size.


Hat-tip: Instapundit


April 18, 2009

Dialog is for Infidels

Here I offer a direct contrast to the enlightened ideas of brothers jk and cyrano's Dr. John Lewis speech at the 4-15-09 TEA Party in Charlotte, North Carolina. It was posted last month and is roughly the same length as the Lewis video.

This serves as a timely reminder that the war with radical Islamists is not over. "President Obama, are you listening?"

Credit to my brother (the one by birth) for passing this on to me.

But Boulder Refugee thinks:

This is a great post, JG, but apparently you didn't get the memo. All we have to do is go over there and apologize to them, maybe bow a few times, tell them how "We're not going to repeat the mistakes of the failed policies of the past," and everything will be solved. We just need to take the time to listen and understand what we did to make these people hate us.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at April 20, 2009 3:20 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Sarcasm noted.

If one really wants to know why "these people hate us" they could read Walid Shoebat's book by that name. I have not read it but from what I heard him say Sunday night on Bill Cunningham's show it is directly analogous to Nazi ideology, replacing purity of race with purity of faith. He said that muslims are now going through the same process as the Nazis did, or something to that effect.

Posted by: johngalt at April 21, 2009 4:07 PM

Proud of Me?

After long and careful thought, I have elected NOT to link to the picture "Three Cute Israeli Army Girls." As much as I value Israel's dedication to freedom and pluralism, and as much as I respect the martial values of her citizens, some might think me engaging in cheap titillation clearly outside of philosophical or political beliefs.

So, if Professor Reynolds wants to take that risk on his little blog, he may. I choose the high road.

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

"Cheap titilation." Are you kidding me? Any viewer of the recent Sci-Fi Channel series 'Battlestar Galactica' knows that there are few values more important to human civilization than forceful self-defense and the biological imperative. These pictures celebrate both of those values at the same time and as a result comprise the highest form of titilation!

By the way, you forgot to link to the Instapundit post, which includes a different picture. This one has a lady rifleman shooting lefty. A girl after my own heart!

Posted by: johngalt at April 18, 2009 5:23 PM
But jk thinks:

Huh. I thought he put it in the projector backwards...

Posted by: jk at April 18, 2009 5:28 PM

President Obama Tells Truth

"I have a lot to learn and I very much look forward to listening and figuring out how we can work together more effectively," Obama said.
This from an AP story headlined At summit, Obama gets friendly with Chavez

Bow to Saudi princes, apologize to Hugo Chavez, stiff the British. Strange diplomacy...

UPDATE: Our friends at PA H2O dS/dt>0 have more.

Venezuela Posted by John Kranz at 2:00 PM | What do you think? [5]
But johngalt thinks:

Nice - President "Historical" can reach across the Panama Canal to engage a first-generation dictator but he can't reach across the aisle to "work together" with his own countrymen.

A passing observation, in the "damning with faint praise" department:

"I think it was a good moment," Chavez said about their initial encounter. "I think President Obama is an intelligent man, compared to the previous U.S. president."

Well with a bar like that to exceed, Obama must feel quite flush with pride.

Posted by: johngalt at April 18, 2009 5:37 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Like me, you've probably never heard of the book Hugo Chavez gave our president. It was first written in the '70s and here are a few words from a Brazilian who tried to read it at the time.

While we're on the subject of books that President Historical won't read I'll suggest 'Atlas Shrugged' of course, and Adam Smith's 'Wealth of Nations.'

Posted by: johngalt at April 18, 2009 5:58 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

Well, before you start lambasting Obama's unwillingness o step across the isle and his propensity to play nice with dictators, remember that most of our countrymen like this policy.

Posted by: T. Greer at April 20, 2009 7:42 PM
But jk thinks:

Heh. I only wish, pari-passu, he would be 39/42 as hard on Chavez as he is on the Republicans...

Posted by: jk at April 20, 2009 7:53 PM
But johngalt thinks:

At the time I believed it was a good idea not to "talk to" the dictators of the world. This hour of Monday's Jason Lewis show convinced me that Bush miscalculated on that count. Skip ahead to 4:00.

Jason Lewis was recently added to the Denver airwaves on 630 KHOW, weeknights 6-8 pm. He is highly recommended by jg.

Posted by: johngalt at April 21, 2009 4:16 PM

Media Bias

Bill Whittle does a superb job taking down CNN's Susan Roesgen, and explaining why media bias matters. PJTV

Hat-tip: Instapundit

Posted by John Kranz at 12:06 PM | What do you think? [0]

Tea Party Speech

Blog Brother Cyrano sends a link to Dr. John Lewis's web page. It includes the following video from the Tea Party in Charlotte.





With all due respect to my very own DA, Dr. Lewis addressed the real issues of the Tea Party movement

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

April 17, 2009

Defending (and Counseling) Sarah Palin

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's comments at an Indiana right-to-life event yesterday are making a lot of news. And naturally most of it is slanted to portray her as an extreme pro-lifer who wants the government to eventually outlaw all abortions. But the comment I found most interesting isn't even being reported. While plenty of left-stream outlets are covering her candid admission that she considered aborting her son Trig when she learned he would likely be a Down's baby, I have yet to find an account that includes her conclusion that she was "happy with the choice she made." [When I find a video clip of this I'll link it here.]

UPDATE: Embedded below are parts 5 and 6 of the seven part account on YouTube, and I must admit that I misinterpreted her remarks. I think the part I paraphrased was this, from 2:47 into part 6-

"So I prayed that my heart would be filled up - what else did I have - I had to call upon my faith and ask that my heart be filled up, and I'll tell ya the moment that he was born I knew for sure that my prayer was answered, and my heart overflowed with joy."

But in making her own case for every pregnant woman to choose life for her unborn child, she did talk about how she enjoyed the freedoms of privacy and choice in the matter of her own pregnancy. Freedoms that some in the pro-life cause would take away.

Part 5, (2:50) On why she didn't tell anyone she was pregnant -

"It was just really though too, at the sweet sacred time, a secret between Todd and God and me. I figured that's all who needs to know."

Later Palin said she considered abortion when she first learned she was pregnant, while out of town "at an oil and gas conference" and again at 13 weeks when she learned that Trig had an extra chromosome and would likely be a Downs baby. She knew this because of the results of amniocentesis, an elective procedure, of which "only my doctor knew the results. Todd didn't even know."

Part 6 (0:28) -

"And friends here tonight, that faith was built on what I hear from you, Vandenburg Right to Life. The seeds that you plant in a heart with your kind and your adamant efforts that can grow into a good decision to choose life."

The significance of this is not what her choice was, but that SHE made the choice.

I expounded on this in a comment [or click on "continue reading"] to a Bonnie Erbe blog on the opportunity that Palin's remarks present to the Republican Party.

And as long as the GOP continues to let itself be dominated by atavist religious conservatives, it will keep its title as minority party for a long, long time.

In a specific way I agreed with this remark, and ended with an exhortation to the Alaska governor- I would like to see Sarah Palin campaign for President on the platform that "abortion is abominable, but government prohibition of it is worse."

My concern is that if she in particular doesn't stake out this position then nobody will be able to defend her as a viable presidential candidate. Any other Republican would do well to take the same approach, but for Palin I view it as essential.

- 3SourcesJG's complete Bonnie Erbe blog comment:

While listening to Governor Palin's live remarks I heard her say that after considering abortion briefly she, and I'm paraphrasing, "is happy with the choice that she made." But if Roe v. Wade is ever reversed and a single state outlaws abortion then women in that state won't have the right to MAKE that choice. Even Governor Palin, who I greatly admire and respect, might feel differently about her child if the state had forced her to give birth under force of law.

Abortion is the thorniest moral issue in contemporary politics, with the grayest of gray areas in dispute. Human life does not mean merely the physical act of breathing - it includes the rational thought process of self-determination. A human being who is not free to make his own choices in life is nothing more than an animal.

The choice to abort DOES result in the death of a human being but the right to life belongs first and foremost to the pregnant woman because she is an independent, self-sufficient individual. An unborn child with a parasitic relationship to that individual has no moral claim upon its host. It is a brutal fact of nature (whether you believe that nature was created by God or not) but without it we are not citizens, but subjects. The line to draw is not between when life begins and when it has not, but between whose rights take precedence.

And to this extent I believe Bonnie Erbe is right: To be a genuine majority party the GOP needs to "get out of people's bedrooms." Advocate for morality, yes, but do not attempt to use the power of government to enforce it. I would like to see Sarah Palin campaign for President on the platform that "abortion is abominable, but government prohibition of it is worse."

But Terri thinks:

Other than in philosophy books, that is the most reasoned argument I have heard in years. I'd definitely vote for that position. Are you running?

Posted by: Terri at April 17, 2009 7:14 PM
But jk thinks:

I'm on board as well, jg. But trust me, Terri, the writings on this blog are virtual guarantees against any of us ever getting elected dog catcher. (Though oppo-research could be great publicity...)

Posted by: jk at April 18, 2009 11:26 AM

Denver TEA Party 4-15-09 Video

Those of you with small children understand that it only takes twice as long to get things done when they're around. I've finally managed to complete the process of selecting, capturing, uploading and linking my April 15th Denver TEA Party video. Here are the two best selections from the limited amount of video I taped.

First, a short Reagan quote.

And here is a rumored GOP candidate to challenge appointed Colorado Democrat Michael Bennet in 2010: Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck. In my opinion he'd be the front runner. Here he lambastes the idea that the solution to problems caused by big government is, more government. (Brother JK won't like his opening remark about "illegals" but try to get past that before forming an opinion.)


"Stunned by huge turnouts, GOP leaders seek to channel energy"

That's the sub-head on this Washington Times story following up the 4-15 TEA Parties. The media may not have noticed what happened that day, but at least a few Republican party officials did.

"This is an opportunity for the Republicans or an opportunity lost, depending on how quickly they act," said John Brabender, a Republican Party campaign strategist. "If Republicans don't take advantage of this opportunity, you are looking at the real birth of a third party in this country."

Blog brother T.Greer opined that the TEA Party turnout was "dismal" (comments 2 and 4) though in fairness, he hadn't yet had time to read my late breaking account of the Denver event. This Georgia Republican sees it differently, however:

"This has legs, no question. The sheer number of people who turned out for something like this in Atlanta was astounding," said James Sibold, former Republican Party chairman of Georgia's DeKalb County.

Despite murmurs of a third party growing out of this I personally believe the best outcome would be a retasking of the Republican party. It is "a republic, ma'am" after all that we're trying to keep. This Michigan GOPer seems to understand:

Michigan Republican Party chairman Ronald Weiser said it was critical that the party reach out those who went to Wednesday's rallies. "They will vote for Republicans if they believe we're responding to the change they want and the feelings they have," he said.

But to really appeal to the silent majority of Americans they'll also need to find a way to get the GOP platform out of people's bedrooms. Stand for moral behavior, yes, but don't try to make it the law. (More on this later.)

But jk thinks:

The pragmatist in me is hoping that the GOP can still hop on this moving train. Some blogger worried that the GOP would try to co-opt this movement; I was hoping that this movement might co-opt the danged Republicans.

I think the GOP has been demoralized by corrupt Republican legislators and divided by the immigration debate. Yet there is a full time job defending this country from collectivism, and I can't see any but the Republican party doing it. The Democrats are too much in hock to collectivist constituencies. While a principled third party always sounds romantic, there will be no liberty left to protect when it's assembled, and if you'll tolerate one moe metaphor, you don't divide your armies on the eve of battle.

Posted by: jk at April 17, 2009 3:43 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

I think we can all relax. First of all, if the GOP can recover from Nixon and the anti-war 70's, it can recover from anything. Second, the election is 18 months away. That's an eternity in politics. As the movement crystalizes, leaders will emerge around whom the rest of us can rally.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at April 17, 2009 5:38 PM
But jk thinks:

Relax as in "don't panic and attempt to avoid despair," I'm in.

Relax as in expect the emergence of a viable political movement to oppose collectivism -- I ain't so sure. We cannot get together on immigration or abortion (though we appear to have consensus on the DH and infield fly rule), there is no obvious housecleaning underway in the GOP. The left owns the Commanding Heights of academia and the media is more empowered than ever before to shape an individualist message.


Posted by: jk at April 18, 2009 11:24 AM

Now They Tell Us!

Nick Gillespie has discovered that President Obama might not be a Libertarian!

Mega-props to our President Obama for yesterday's speechifying about simplifying and fair-izing the Infernal Revenue Service and all that.

Except for one small nitpicky thing: He's full of shit on this topic. How precisely is he or his Slugger's Row of policy mavens (you know, the idjits who can't even use Turbo Tax) gonna make the income tax more fair? As it stands, the top 1 percent of filers pay 40 percent of all income taxes; the top 5 percent pay 60 percent; and the top 10 percent pay fully 70 percent of all income taxes. The bottom 50 percent (5-0, Dano!) pay a whopping 3 percent of all income tax.


I'm glad Gillespie has figured it out by April and all. And I confess it is a funny post. But it may have been a little more helpful before the election.

Hat-tip: Instapundit

2008 Posted by John Kranz at 12:44 PM | What do you think? [0]

It's Official

ThreeSourceTerrorists.jpg

But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Terrorist acts are now "man-caused disasters" and pirates are "volunteer coast guard." The only time the T-word is used is in reference to Republicans and Conservatives. Tells you all you need to know about how this administration views the world.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at April 17, 2009 1:27 PM

April 16, 2009

Denver TEA Party 4-15-09

It was in Denver, and it was on tax day, but we weren't protesting (just) taxes. The principal motivation for the overwhelming majority of these people to take time away from their happy and busy lives to go act like NEA members for a few hours can be distilled into a few words:

Unprecedented spending, borrowing, printing, and redistribution of the US dollar by incompetent politicians in our federal and state governments.

Of all the intelligent, funny and pointed signs I saw at the protest I don't think anything makes that point any better than this small incident of vandalism on the back of state senator Suzanne Williams' Lexus that was parked next to the capitol building:

There were plenty of "grandmas" in the crowd, and they wanted to know why their successor generation can't read:

IMGA0476.JPG

In stark contrast to the "best and brightest" young pinkies from Columbia and Harvard, this young man has apparently been reading up on Constitutional law:

This Vietnam war veteran clearly knows what is worth fighting for. (Susan Roesgen would ask him what his sign has to do with taxes.)

IMGA0459.JPG

This guy reminded me of the March 30 Mallard Fillmore strip. I asked him, "Do you know how it's possible that you could be considered a right-wing extremist? It's because the eco-terrorists are now running our government!"

IMGA0471.JPG

This young lady was standing next to me at the time and quickly turned to look at me after I'd unleashed that zinger. When I looked at her she wouldn't make eye contact with me. (Look closely at her chest.)

IMGA0472.JPG

And here were THE counter-protesters, safely on the other side of the street. Well, OK, I did see a couple other guys carrying a big sign saying "IT'S BUSH'S FAULT" through the crowd. I asked them if Bush was responsible for the Community Reinvestment Act because it killed my job. I got laughs from those around me when I read the fine print from the bottom of one of the signs across the street: "Just Shut Up And Pay. What a perfect slogan for a liberal!" (And for the record, I had no idea what the slang meaning of "tea bagging" was until I heard about it on MSNBC.)

IMGA0490.JPG

Now don't misunderstand me. We were protesting taxes too, but not so much because they are too high, or will necessarily rise under present leadership, but because so many of our fellow "citizens" don't pay any. If you want to talk to us about "equality" then let's start with each person's individual tax burden.

Pics of many more excellent signs that require no explanation continue, below the fold:

(I LOVE this one!)

(There was LOTS of honking.)

(This is what 5000 peacefully pissed-off people looks like.)

(Of course my friend Russ was there. And he's a CPA for NED's sake, not an activist!)


But jk thinks:

Nice -- okay, so I lied about "no vandalism." (Initial reports indicate damage could run as high as two or three dollars.)

Posted by: jk at April 16, 2009 5:08 PM

CNN

The great thing about my new job is that I don't travel. And if you don't travel, you never have to watch CNN! Hugh Hewitt points out what I am missing:





That mean man was sooooo very unfair to the President. Doesn't he know how offensive it is to call him a fascist! And what do taxes have to do with freedom? And wouldn't our 16th President be pleased to his whiskers that the State that honors him on the license plates was getting so much Federal Jack?

Posted by John Kranz at 3:55 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

Homeland Secretary Napolitano must've missed "middle-aged dads who like to quote Lincoln" on her list of "right-wing extremists."

Glenn Beck cited the following Lincoln quote as possibly representing the dad's assertion that "Lincoln's primary thing was that he believed the people had a right to liberty..."

"That some should be rich, shows that others may become rich, and hence is just encouragement to industry and enterprise. Let not him who is houseless pull down the house of another; but let him labor diligently and build one for himself, thus by example assuring that his own shall be safe from violence when built."
-Abraham Lincoln, Reply to New York Workingmen's Democratic Republican Association (21 March 1864)

Posted by: johngalt at April 16, 2009 6:56 PM
But jk thinks:

Yeah, well it's obviously an anti-CNN quote. I'd expect no less from FOXNews.

Posted by: jk at April 16, 2009 7:41 PM

Headline of the Day

Fear and Greed Have Sales of Guns and Ammo Shooting Up -- WSJ
Sounds great and I was looking to invest. Anybody know the ticker symbol for Fear and Greed®? Sounds like they have a good business plan. If the fundamentals look good...
Posted by John Kranz at 2:06 PM | What do you think? [0]

A Blogger Slams the MSM

Tiresome. Dog-bites-man, say what you wish. But I must express some frustration with the coverage of the Tea Parties.

Channel 7, the ABC affiliate in Denver, had a big truck right next to me and covered the event seriously. I tuned in to see their coverage. They estimated the crowd at 6,000 which seemed fair and did include video as one of the top four or five stories.

What it lacked -- and this is the quality of their product more than a nefarious plot -- was any context. They showed a US map with the tea party cities highlighted: Denver, San Antonio, and Boston. Wow, there were really three of these? On the same day? They gave a competent description of the reasons, but had no interviews or coverage of any individuals. They parked a satellite truck next to the Capitol all day so they could phone it in.

They can tell anybody they covered it, but they gave no feel for the depth or scope or the unusualness of getting these non-protesters to protest. I made it six weeks shy of my 49th birthday and ruined my perfect "no protests" record yesterday, and those around me seemed a lot more like me and less like the protesters who do capture media attention. C'est la guerre!

Ed Driscoll (via Insty), compares the coverage of tens of thousands to a dozen or two in the Cindy Sheehan entourage and excerpts Greg Gutfield

So why is it the MSM finds it so easy to sneer at a group of protestors, when you’ve never seen them do the same with the bedraggled buffoons protesting environmental ills, animal testing or the WTO?

Well, first: the protests involve people they’ve never actually met. I mean, these are average folks – not professional sign carriers. Most of these people work for a living, and ration their marching for parades. Also, the media abhors these people because they question the ultimate goal of their Messiah. These protestors know wealth distribution when they see it, and they’re calling it out - because the media cannot bring themselves to do it for them. After all, if they did, that would hurt Obama’s feelings. And if you learned anything from high school – you never make fun of Mr. Popular.


Our protesters doffed their caps at the national anthem and greeted the police politely. I cannot enumerate the kindnesses shown your gimpy, cane-wielding correspondent. Maybe we needed some vandalism to make the news, but we all knew that we're the one's who would have to pay for it.

I am glad I went and could not be more pleased with the turnouts. But in the end, I think the MSM gatekeepers had their say and this movement will have no impact.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:53 PM | What do you think? [10]
But jk thinks:

I dunno, tg, were we watching the same show? I don't want special treatment because we are so swell, but I think the tea parties garnered fractions of the coverage of equivalent protests that take more media-friendly positions.

When CNN shows up to an antiwar rally, they position the cameras to make it look as big as they can and pull out two normal looking college students -- ignoring hundreds of A.N.S.W.E.R. guys with "Death to AmeriKKKa" T-shirts. They don't question the groups (like ANSWER) that fund or promote the rallies.

Ms. Roesgen marginalizes the event, falsely claiming it was set up by FOXNews, grabs an out-of-mainstream voice out of the crowd, then interrogates and cuts off the rational, reasonable guy.

Perhaps they got hundreds of thousands in D.C. or New York for the largest protests, but I watched many hours of tedious footage of 100 students in Boulder. Colorado saw nothing of this scale through the Bush Administration. Cindy Sheehan lived on the cover of the NYTimes the weeks she lived in Crawford. I don't think these attracted anywhere near the coverage that equally sized and numerous gatherings would have received.

I'll part with a few good words for the folks I saw. State Troopers walked through the crowd in shirtsleeves to handshakes -- no riot gear was required. You say the message is disjointed but there was a common thread of liberty and property rights. The "peace" rallies (you can tell a peace rally because the police wear riot gear) are loaded with the "Free Mumia" crowd, anti-globalism types. and a laundry list of leftist perma-protesters. The Denver Tea Party message was quite consistent and well crafted by comparison.

Posted by: jk at April 17, 2009 11:58 AM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

This debate/scenario reminds me of my college days back in 1979/80 when Reagan was running for president. Even at a relatively conservative institution like Denver University, my Reagan euphoria had plenty of push-back from liberal fellow students. Moreover, the MSM (then a monopoly of the three networks and print media) sluffed off Reagan as "the Great Communicator" and the "Teflon President." We were to believe that no one actually agreed with Reagan, they just liked him personally. The press attempted to diminish his impact by ignoring the conservative movement. It wasn't until the rise of Rush Limbaugh "dittos" that people like me suddenly said, "Wow, there are lot of people that think like I do." Similarly, I believe, the press is trying to depress the impact of the Tea Parties by ignoring or characterizing them condescendingly.

I also believe there is a difference in left-driven and right-driven movements. Left-driven movements are the actions of a few attempting to influence the thoughts of many. Right-driven movements are the thoughts of many expressed by the few. That's because rightist are activist in the same way they see governments: only to the extent that it is necessary. Leftist view government, and therefore activism, as the goal itself. Thus, it is a life-long cause for them. Although left-driven protests can influence national thinking, right-driven protests reflect an existing and more pervasive thinking.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at April 17, 2009 1:00 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Dismal showing, tg? "Dismal showing?" Pardon my incredulity brother, but did you GO to a TEA Party?

Estimates of the nationwide turnout range from "hundreds of thousands" by the Washington Times to "750,000 people attended more than 800 protests in all 50 states" by GOP activist Jenny Beth Martin who helped organize the massive turnout of in Atlanta - 20,000 if memory serves. Denver had 5000 or so but crazy left college town Madison Wisconsin had 8000. It was like that all over the country. Of course, you'd never know it if you weren't at one of them or heard from someone who was.

Posted by: johngalt at April 17, 2009 2:31 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

@JK & BR:

I can buy that the MSM is up to their usual job of marginalizing the words and deeds of those on the right. However, this leads to my point: the tea party movement is easily marginalized. It is easy for the average leftist reporter to discount these protests, even if they have to be slightly dishonest to do so.

Should we just sit back and complain about the marginalization of the cause? Of course not. This where my concerns lie. If we don't want to be marginalized, we need to stop the marginalization’s ourselves. If these protests are indeed unique, if they are genuinely special in spirit, then there needs to be a palpable, clear, and irrevocable way of showing thus. We need a movement that cannot be written off as "just a few more angry protestors."

Am I speaking sense? Or am I far off base?


@JG: I did not attend a party as a protestor, but I did watch a bit of the one in my hometown.

A few things I saw I liked, and other things I was less than pleased with. The local county GOP leader who spoke to the group, dressed in colonial garb and reciting tales of the original tea party. On the other hand, I was less than pleased with the protestor dressed up in camo and a gas mask, carrying the sign, "Torture Terrorists, not Tax-payers." While the first has a bit of emotional heft behind it, the second muddies the message.

My previous criticism of the tea party movement generally hold true for the one in my hometown.

As for the size deal- on August 30, 2004, 500,000 protestors marched against Bush in NYC. That is more than half of all the tea-partyers -at one protest!

Dismal, I guess, is a matter of perspective.

Posted by: T. Greer at April 17, 2009 4:03 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

TG: The point of my Reagan story is that a movement is not marginalized just because the media says so. If the media determined elections, no Republican would ever be elected except in Wyoming and Idaho. If a sentiment is real, then it will be reflected at the polls. If it's not real, there's nothing that one can do to conjur it. My suspicion is that this is real.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at April 17, 2009 4:56 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I looked up that 8-30-04 protest (of the RNC Convention in NYC.) The organizers claimed 500,000 warm bodies but the Washington Post said the police estimate was 200,000.

Sure it's still ten times the Atlanta TEA crowd, but it was a visceral reaction to an opposing political convention - not a spontaneous celebration of an IDEA. And it wouldn't have mattered if there were 200,000 in Atlanta or 2 million in NYC. The left-stream media would still have downplayed the outrage over expanding government and the voters would still have rejected John Kerry in favor of a second Bush term.

The big difference between the two events you compared is not the disparity in turnout, but that the TEA Parties had any turnout at all. The size and expense of the federal government has been huge for decades, and growing steadily by the year. But THIS year, with the "historic" election of Barack Obama wedded to a two-year-old Democrat controlled congress, that growth spiked. Americans who despise big government and its taxation yet accepted it as a fact of life as unavoidable as death were finally compelled to do something completely out of character. Yet the idea of 500,000 leftists protesting (choose one or more: Republicans, corporations, national defense, Republicans, law enforcement, Christopher Columbus, free market capitalism, Republicans) is routine.

Posted by: johngalt at April 18, 2009 2:34 AM

Nooo! Nooo! Why Me????

I have stood up bravely to much of the adversity that has come my way. I have handled my own, and my wide's, serious health problems with aplomb.

But this morning I got that email from Amazon® -- the one we all dread. My coffeemaker has been recalled. I am not to use it, and after registering on the website, I can expect a (black) replacement to arrive in six weeks.

Still, some ThreeSourcers speak of a benevolent God...

Posted by John Kranz at 12:22 PM | What do you think? [3]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Is your middle name "Job"?

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at April 16, 2009 12:49 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Run over to Target and pick up a Bodum French press? :)

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at April 17, 2009 12:09 PM
But jk thinks:

Got one (several emergency backups) but the convenience of the Senseo makes it indispensable.

Posted by: jk at April 18, 2009 11:39 AM

Strange Bedfellows Indeed

I received notice that "One Pist off American" would like to offer a video as a response to my Denver Tea Party 09 video (embedded a few posts below).

I am not going to embed, and I sheepishly link. This woman feels that the protests are driven by people who are angry at California Family Services and that the deficit could be quickly righted if we stopped funding their taking of our children and drugging them. There was a lot of talk about those who would infiltrate the tea party movement and marginalize it by acting "out-of-mainstream." I suppose there is some chance of that, but I think this poor woman has hitched her concerns to the movement.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:47 AM | What do you think? [0]

April 15, 2009

A Serious Look at the Current Economic Situation

Nobel Laureate Robert Merton accepts an award from alma mater MIT and in return gives an intelligent speech on the financial crisis.

I have ridiculed those who say "It's obvious that it was caused by ________." This preterintellect starts off by confirming the complexity and the coincident factors that got us here. It's a pretty clever use of an hour and a half, believe it or not.

Hat-tip: Mankiw

Posted by John Kranz at 7:38 PM | What do you think? [0]

A Little Reagan

Tom Lucero, running for CO-4 in 2010 was handing out flyers today at the tea party. On the back was Reagan's "Rendezvous with Destiny" speech, and a link to video and PDF on his website. I was particularly struck by this line today:

You and I are told increasingly that we have to choose between a left or right, but I would like
to suggest that there is no such thing as a left or right. There is only an up or down‐‐up to a
man's age‐old dream, the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with law and order‐‐or
down to the ant heap totalitarianism, and regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian
motives, those who would trade our freedom for security have embarked on this downward
course.

Posted by John Kranz at 6:17 PM | What do you think? [4]
But Joe Jacobs thinks:

Ha ha - Tom may be handing out Reagan speechs but he is no Reagan. He has no positions on his website - what is he hiding?

Posted by: Joe Jacobs at April 15, 2009 7:55 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

I've never heard of the guy and don't live in his district. But with 18 months before the election and 12 months before any nominating conventions, I doubt he's hiding anything. However, such a drive-by snark belies a partisan agenda. So, Joe, what are you hiding?

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at April 15, 2009 10:11 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

I have always thought this to be Reagan's best speech. Superior to his first innaugural in every way.

As fot the guy distributing it- hey, I like a man who can shut up and recongnize that someone already said what he wants to say better than he can say it. Shows no small bit of humility.

Posted by: T. Greer at April 16, 2009 11:25 PM
But johngalt thinks:

It's important to note that Tom Lucero is apparently not the only Republican challenger angling to unseat democrat Betsy Markey in 2010. (In this district, I should think not.)

Posted by: johngalt at April 17, 2009 3:22 PM

Serfs Up

Since the day when (then candidate) VP Biden scolded the American people, saying it is our "patriotic duty" to pay taxes, the left has opined in one form or another that we should not be protesting taxes, but instead paying them with gratitude. Although a link probably is not necessary, The Refugee will offer this one to a column by Alan Colmes on Fox New's website for those with a strong stomach.

The whole notion that we should be "grateful" and "patriotic" when paying taxes is straight out of the Middle Ages when it was a serf's duty to support his king. All of the serf's labor went to support the king's priorities, while the king provided just enough to keep the serf alive to attend to next year's crop. Socialism is nothing more than a reincarnation of this model (perhaps why it is so readily accepted in Europe). Moreover, it fosters an attitude that government is the provider and citizens should grateful for the alms that Congress throws their way.

Congress is becoming increasingly imperialistic. Some members righteously flog (if only verbally) miscreants who dare to cross them. Those who are targeted cower in contrition before the royal committee, aware that Congress will pass punitive laws against those they disfavor (e.g., CEOs). The inquistorial Justice Department will be called to investigate, and financially ruin, those who do not immediately cast their rights aside and beg mercy.

The government should not be thanked for increasing taxes and spending the producers into serfdom. They should be rebuked and reminded that they serve the people, not the other way around.

Current Events Posted by Boulder Refugee at 12:29 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

A friendly correction:

"Some members [of Congress] self-righteously flog miscreants (or peons) who dare to cross them."

Excellent analysis.

Posted by: johngalt at April 16, 2009 1:56 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Correction accepted!

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at April 16, 2009 2:23 PM

Pinkies Up!

Headed to the Denver Tea Party (as is Brother JG). Film at 11:00.

UPDATE: Here are some scenes from the meet & greet before the speakers started. The crowd was great and more were showing up as I rushed off to file this dispatch. Saw Brother JG there and he will have more pix later on.


UPDATE II: A good friend of the blog calls to say that the Rochester, MN tea party was a great success. Liberty in the ModWest!

UPDATE III: Another YouTuber captures the scale of the crowd much better (not my fault I was way up front!)

Posted by John Kranz at 11:32 AM | What do you think? [0]

April 14, 2009

All She Wants to Do is Tax

Pretty good stuff:



Hat-tip: Instapundit

Posted by John Kranz at 8:06 PM | What do you think? [3]
But Keith thinks:

On behalf of the half-dozen people left in my state with sense, I would like to express my sincerest apologies for our having sent this sack o' crap to the Senate to have a hand in governing this nation. That being said, I didn't vote for her.

Posted by: Keith at April 15, 2009 11:21 AM
But jk thinks:

In a great moment of "staircase wit" I realized that I really should have dedicated this post to you.

Posted by: jk at April 15, 2009 11:39 AM
But Keith thinks:

Perhaps, but had you done so, the Secretary would have disavowed any knowledge of the Senator. Or Stentator, which in her case might be more appropriate.

Posted by: Keith at April 15, 2009 4:04 PM

A Cuban Kumbaya?

When WaPo columnist Eugene Robinson and The Refugee agree down the line, can hand-holding, misty eyes and singin' 'round the campfire be far behind? Under the heading "say it ain't so," this column from Robinson brings the two of them together.

Robinson makes two assertions: 1) the Congressional Black Caucus was duped during its recent visit to Fidel's Island Paradise and made fools of themselves, and 2) lifting the embargo is the fastest way to bring down the current regime. As Robinson points out, Cuba is still a racist nation and Fidel harbors no good will toward America. He is also correct that the embargo has outlived its usefulness. The embargo made sense when trying to prevent Fidel from acquiring military means and forcing the Soviets to expend valuable resources propping up a parasitic client state. Those conditions no longer exist, and The Refugee believes that Fidel/Raul would never be able to maintain Chinese-like control in the face of a capitalist onslaught 90 miles away.

What we should do is lift the embargo, which Obama hasn't disturbed, and end the travel ban for everyone. That would put the onus on the Cubans to somehow keep hordes of American capitalists and tourists from infecting the island with dangerous, counterrevolutionary ideas. But we should take these steps with our eyes open, seeing Cuba as it is, not as we might want it to be.

...

It is in Castro's interest to sabotage any genuine movement in Washington toward normalized relations, because any lessening of tension would destroy the government's stated rationale for denying Cubans basic political freedoms: that any opening would be exploited by the imperialist enemy to the north.

It's enough to make The Refugee break out into song.

Hat tip: realclearpolitics.com

Cuba Posted by Boulder Refugee at 11:26 AM | What do you think? [1]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

The WSJ has a nice opinion piece on this topic:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123993439111128025.html

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at April 17, 2009 11:15 AM

April 13, 2009

We Should All Go

At the Boulder Theatre, tomorrow night:

Boulder Weekly Films & Center for ReSource Conservation:
FUEL
Tuesday, April 14, 8:00 pm

FUEL is an insightful portrait of America?s addiction to oil and an uplifting testament to the immediacy of new energy solutions. From Rockefeller?s strategy to halt Ford?s first ethanol cars to Vice President Cheney's petrochemical company sponsored energy legislation to revealing available solutions to "repower America" ? from vertical farms that occupy skyscrapers to algae facilities that turn wastewater into fuel.

More Info


They forgot to say "No Moonbats Allowed!"


Golden Balls

How about a little game theory, scarecrow?

Hat-tip: Mankiw

Posted by John Kranz at 2:49 PM | What do you think? [0]

How Red the Sunrise is Getting

Don Luskin posts a political cartoon from 1934.

President Obama does fancy himself as FDR...

But johngalt thinks:

“Young pinkies from Columbia and Harvard?” Obama went to BOTH!

Posted by: johngalt at April 14, 2009 12:48 PM

Here's To You, Mr Jefferson

But jk thinks:

Awesome. Happy Birthday Mister Jefferson!

Posted by: jk at April 13, 2009 4:05 PM

Quote of the Day

Yet, if the intention of the Obama administration is to tone down the confrontational rhetoric being used by our enemies, the effort is already reaping results. This week, in a pronounced shift from its usual theatrical style, the Taliban announced that it will no longer refer to its favorite method of murder as "beheadings," but will henceforth employ the expression "cephalic attrition." "Flayings" -- a barbarously exotic style of execution that has been popular in this part of the world since before the time of Alexander -- will now be described as "unsolicited epidermal reconfigurations." In a similar vein, lopping off captives' arms will now be referred to as "appendage furloughing," while public floggings of teenaged girls will from here on out be spoken of as "metajudicial interfacing." -- Joe Queenan, War By Any Other Name
UPDATE: Link fixed (thanks tg).
Posted by John Kranz at 11:44 AM | What do you think? [1]
But T. Greer thinks:

I will run by later today when I have soem time and comment on this one, but for now, you should probably know that the link is broken.

Posted by: T. Greer at April 13, 2009 12:02 PM

Great Column on Fair Taxation

Former Press Secretary Ari Fleischer has a superb guest editorial today in the WSJ. (My brother-in-law always suggested that I looked like Mr. Fleischer -- maybe he can play me in the ThreeSources Movie). Fleischer says that as bad as Madoff's pyramid scheme was, the tax code is worse:

Picture an upside-down pyramid with its narrow tip at the bottom and its base on top. The only way the pyramid can stand is by spinning fast enough or by having a wide enough tip so it won't fall down. The federal version of this spinning top is the tax code; the government collects its money almost entirely from the people at the narrow tip and then gives it to the people at the wider side. So long as the pyramid spins, the system can work. If it slows down enough, it falls.

The piece recites the litany of what percentage of the payers pay what percent of the taxes. These figures can never see print too many times. But the important part is his contention that every worker needs to pay to remove the incentive for the poor to vote for bread and circuses funded by the rich. President Obama seeks to free the bottom 50% of tax obligations from 40% now.
Mr. Obama is adding to this trend with his "Make Work Pay" tax cut that means almost 50% of the country will no longer pay any income taxes, up from a little over 40% today. A certain amount of income redistribution in a capitalistic society is healthy, but this goes too far. The economic and moral problem is that when 50% of the country gets benefits without paying for them and an increasingly smaller number of taxpayers foot the bill, the spinning triangle will no longer be able to support itself. Eventually, it will spin so slowly that it falls down, especially when the economy is contracting and the number of wealthy taxpayers is in sharp decline.

Whole read thing the for sure. He has some good suggestions at the end (though they don't all pass Constitutional muster). It's clear, concise and comprehensive intellectual ammunition as we fight a more collectivist world.

But johngalt thinks:

Hallelujah. My t-shirt slogan for this one is:

NO REPRESENTATION WITHOUT TAXATION

although it leaves a bit to be desired. I'm trying to improve it along the lines of equitable, non-progressive taxation. Maybe:

EQUALITY NOW!
(In Taxation)

Posted by: johngalt at April 14, 2009 12:14 PM

April 11, 2009

Yet We Get Mikulski and Stabenow

I'd give up libertarianism in a minute were Luciana Leon my representative.

Hat-tip: Instapundt

Posted by John Kranz at 2:35 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

And the real reason why Arabs hate Israel:

"Israel was proportionately the most represented country, with four Israelis making the list."

Meanwhile, muslim women (who may or may not be beautiful too) are wrapped in towels.

Posted by: johngalt at April 12, 2009 11:23 AM

Opening Day

The final score was Colorado Rockies 10, Philadelphia Phillies 3. I just offer this as a public service in case somebody missed the game.

UPDATE: On a serious note, RIP Harry Kalas

Posted by John Kranz at 1:53 PM | What do you think? [5]
But johngalt thinks:

And yet the Phillies prevailed in game 2 of the series (facing a young Rox starter still struggling with his control and confidence who was then relieved by a jittery "over-amped" righty in his Rockies debut. The reliever was left on the mound despite being up in the zone so that a decision could be made about letting him start a game next week.)

The rubber match is today with Rockies ace Aaron Cook (1-4, 6.14 ERA vs. Phillies) trying to rebound from a bad first start vs. former Dodger Chan Ho Park (5-2, 5.66 ERA at Coors Field) making his first start as a Philly. First pitch: 3:10 pm EDT.

Posted by: johngalt at April 12, 2009 11:19 AM
But jk thinks:

Somehow I'm not quite so public spirited when the Keystone State teams win, jg. Very informative of you to share.

Posted by: jk at April 12, 2009 12:01 PM
But AlexC thinks:

Ahem, two out of three ain't bad.

Posted by: AlexC at April 13, 2009 11:48 AM
But jk thinks:

Yeah, yeah. Whatever...

Posted by: jk at April 13, 2009 1:32 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Congrats AC. The Phils earned that one. (We'll try again once our bullpen gets their heads on straight.)

And condolences on the passing of Harry Kalas.

Posted by: johngalt at April 14, 2009 12:20 PM

April 10, 2009

No Hope for DC Kids

When Obama was elected, The Refugee had a hope that at least one point of common ground could be found with the new administration: school reform in the form of school choice and vouchers. Unfortunately, it is becoming increasing clear, though not surprising, that our Bower-in-Chief is kow-towing to politics, not principles.

Deroy Murdock, writing for NationalReviewOnline publishes this devastatingly effective rebuke of Obama catering to unions that fund him rather than the children he (ostensibly) serves.

With young black kids themselves begging for vouchers, why would reputedly pro-poor, pro-black Democrats kill this popular and effective school-choice program?

Follow the money: Teachers’ unions’ paid $55,794,440 in political donations between 1990 and 2008, 96 percent of it to Democrats. Senator John Ensign’s (R – Nevada) March 10 amendment to rescue DC’s vouchers failed 39-58. Among 57 Democrats voting, 54 (or 95 percent) opposed DC vouchers.

As the late Albert Shanker, former American Federation of Teachers president, once said: “When school children start paying union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of school children.”

As long as the Democrats are a wholly-owned subsidary of the unions, and teachers specifically, only the audacious will have hope.

Hat Tip: RealClearPolitics.com

Education Posted by Boulder Refugee at 12:33 PM | What do you think? [0]

Johngalt's Radio Clip

As promised, blog brother jg's message as read on Mike Rosen show. Good stuff!

But nanobrewer thinks:

I agree with 99% of what I read here, and liked what I heard from Mr. Rosen's reading of JG's post. I'd like to engage him a bit on the economics of wind power. I currently work in Wind Power and am convinced it works, economically.

However, that "convinced" is far too similar to the way my liberal friends are convinced our globe is warming due to man-made CO2; I really haven't done the numbers myself. So, JG, can we talk? {You suggest how} - nb

Posted by: nanobrewer at April 12, 2009 12:42 AM
But jk thinks:

I'll confess that I winced a bit at the inclusion of photovoltaic power. I think we are due for some "Moore's Law" style advances in that field. Both innovations in nanotech and increased availability of Silicon may bring that up to speed sooner than we think.

The discussion, however, is about economic feasibility and I think nb and I will both have to admit that our pet technologies still require help to compete. "Uncle Eric" is right to point out that subsidies provide a shaky foundation for innovation. When PV or wind can displace carbon combustion at the right price, we won't need to argue, it will just happen.

Wind is an exciting place to be now, nb. My worry with that industry is environmental restrictions and latency to build transmission lines.

Posted by: jk at April 12, 2009 12:00 PM
But brian_gregory thinks:


Could be JK, I've always looked down on solar because it's power density is so low and cost so high. Currently running $4/Watt (installed) even in CO with the tremendous kick-backs we all pay for, it's almost silly compared to wind ($1/watt) even when compared to it's lack of need of new transmission lines.

Then again, I could be wrong and this project could prove me wrong (7.5 c/kWhr is half what current solar is capable of).
http://articles.latimes.com/2009/jan/05/business/fi-thinsolar5

Then again, this could just be an analyst in search of some quick publicity.

Posted by: brian_gregory at April 12, 2009 10:14 PM
But jk thinks:

Most of my information comes from blogs and academic sources that Professor Reynolds links to. And I confess they tend to be wildly optimistic.

I guess my suggestion is that no current solution is economically viable (else subsidies would not be required). Uncle Eric and Brother JG are right about that. When I look five or ten years out, I can imagine nanotechnology's improving PV power to be competitive.

Taking your $4/W figure, if PV efficiency could double every two years, we're down to .50/W in 2015. (Installation, packaging and delivery would have to keep pace -- that may not be possible). Then we have a very attractive solution for microgeneration.

I suspect that the components of wind power are pretty close to full potential. Propellers and turbines and generators and mechanical parts have been improved over the years for other purposes and it is hard to imagine a technological breakthrough.

I hate to impugn you line of work (you can tell me tape backup is dead) and quite a bit of smart money says you're right. I'm very concerned with environmental push-back both for the units and transmission lines. A bit of silicon on the roof seems an easier sell.

Posted by: jk at April 13, 2009 11:07 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Nano, I haven't done the numbers either, as you say, but I do know that when wind power first appeared as a marketable commodity there was a premium for the absolution of telling your friends and neighbors that the grid power that reached YOUR house came from the WIND! Perhaps this was a case of limited supply and unsated demand but I don't think so. Reason being that one of the largest purchasers of such "renewable" energy was municipal governments (City of Boulder comes immediately to mind.)

Here's the other big clue that wind power doesn't pull its own weight compared to conventional (i.e. proven safe, reliable and economical) energy: It's called 'The Stimulus Bill.' Billions of taxpayer dollars to subsidize wind (and solar and every other fellow traveller). This is the very "gambling with other people's money" that Uncle Eric wrote about.

And yet, it's still not enough. They're (Obama, Reid, Pelosi and the 'green' lobby) still dead set on "imposing the true costs" of conventional energy useage through one or more form of taxation. In my humble (honest!) opinion this is nothing more than an anti-prosperity play to retard free enterprise at every opportunity. There is no great desire for "renewable" energy to replace conventional sources. The real goal is just to reduce energy use altogether. Witness the actions to oppose transmission line construction and even wind farm construction, or to dismantle the most successful renewable energy sources ever: hydroelectric.

I recall when wind generators were first developed, in the '80s I believe, that enviros opposed them as "eyesores" and "bird blenders." Now we've seen enough of them in use in northern climes to learn about giant shards of ice flying off of their blades at great threat to life and property nearby. And all, presumably, in the name of what? DAWG horse shit.

Finally, one thing that must be kept in mind regarding capital cost per watt of generating capacity is that for windmills and solar cells, when the 'wind don't blow and the sun don't shine' that cost goes to infinity.

Posted by: johngalt at April 14, 2009 12:40 PM

Ch-ch-ch-chia in Chief

The Boulder Refugee pointed this out to me.
chia-obama-animated-2.gif
Buy yours here. (leave the sound on while you shop).

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 11:05 AM | What do you think? [5]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

The Refugee about fell off his chair when he saw this. Keith, it's got your fingerprints all over it. Are you going to issue any non-denial denials?

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at April 10, 2009 12:50 PM
But Keith thinks:

Refugee: well, I did say "if the Obama administration's collective brain power were any lower, it would have to be watered," so I can see you drawing that conclusion. But I can point to clear and unarguable evidence that this is not my handiwork:

(1) Absence of his middle name, which I surely would have used.
(2) Job title does not say "Prezznit."
(3) Wrong herb growing from the cranium; my version would have cleverly been marketable at a "Chiapothead."
(4) Three words: TelePrompTer Sold Separately.

But the most conclusive and persuasive proof it that I'd have made more money. This slag is going for $19.99 a pop, and will soon be on the clearance shelf at your neighborhood dollar store. If I had a bunch of clay and a license on Obama's visage, I'd be selling clay pigeons to gun-rights advocates for $200.00 per dozen, and they'd be flying off the shelves faster than you could say "Pull!" What NRA member wouldn't salivate at the opportunity to point his Mossberg at the image of the Prezznit's face and blast it to dust?

Hang on, guys; I've got Hillary on the other line, asking for a discount on a bulk order...

Posted by: Keith at April 10, 2009 1:58 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Keith: That's exactly the kind of denial I would expect if you had really done it!

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at April 10, 2009 6:35 PM
But Keith thinks:

Well, I guess my secret's out, then. Eleven centuries of the very best machinations of the Illuminati, the Freemasons, and the Bilderbergers, and it all distills down to this devious ploy. Had not the Refugee discovered my nefarious plot, I might have ruled the world.

I suppose you've also already figured out that Hulu is our back-up plan, haven't you?

Posted by: Keith at April 11, 2009 1:13 AM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Keith, your plot is more insideous than even The Refugee could have imagined!

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at April 13, 2009 11:41 AM

April 9, 2009

Johngalt extends his Warholian Fame

Reason writes up a Cracked.com post, and Insty links. The except contains this little gem:

By the way, even worse than speed limits are speed bumps, the irritating, jarring humps they put in parking lots and such, intended to physically force drivers to slow down and make their CD players skip. Not only do those things not prevent accidents, but they keep ambulances from getting to emergencies, which is exactly the sort of thing you don't want happening when years of bacon sundaes and cookie-dough sandwiches finally catch up with you. The above link references a study in Boulder, Colorado that found speed bumps kill as many as 85 people for every one life they save. Holy shit! We think landmines have a better ratio.

I remember jg's being very involved with an initiative to kill Boulder speed bumps back in 2000.

Posted by John Kranz at 6:40 PM | What do you think? [2]
But jk thinks:

If I may segue off my own post, I do take exception to Cracked's critique of "three strikes." The problem is not with sports metaphors -- the problem is with drug laws. I suggest we keep three strikes, but reform drug laws or keep them out of the count.

Somebody who commits three violent felonies deserves hard time and I don't mind forcing a lenient judge to provide it. The problem is caused when two of a person's "strikes" are possession (maybe those are "fouls." Then again, if they're trying to bunt...)

Posted by: jk at April 9, 2009 6:55 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes, the effort was called "Seconds Count!" and the ballot measure failed 60-40 percent. Boulder got to keep its speed bumps and traffic circles, but they lost me. (I'm sure they still regret it to this day.) I think we could have prevailed if we'd taken on just the bumps, but others in the group were more opposed to traffic circles which, being "European" are wildly popular in the progressive village of Boulder.

The website has completely changed since then but it is still being maintained: Seconds Count!

Posted by: johngalt at April 10, 2009 10:37 AM

jk Picks a Fight with the Smartest Guy in the World

Let me know how that works out. The smartest guy is Nassim Nicholas Taleb. He does not see the world as I do, but his intellectual firepower and polymathic erudition make me hesitant to point out my disagreements.

To finish the fawning, I'll plug his FT Piece. It's well worth a read. He provides Ten Principles for a Black Swan Proof World. I've got to quibble with number six, for sure:

6. Do not give children sticks of dynamite, even if they come with a warning . Complex derivatives need to be banned because nobody understands them and few are rational enough to know it. Citizens must be protected from themselves, from bankers selling them “hedging” products, and from gullible regulators who listen to economic theorists.

This was a familiar reaction when I was reading "Black Swan." I loved it, and agree with many of its precepts, but occasionally ask "Huh? Does he really mean that?" No derivatives, huh?

Let me drive his analogy: would you ban dynamite 'cause it makes a bad children's toy? No. Dynamite is useful for construction, mining, and entertainment for inebriated college students in mining schools. You might keep it out of the hands of children (unless they have a valid student ID) but it is foolish to take a valid and useful tool away because it is powerful.

Taleb plays into the populist playbook here. I find myself defending derivatives all the time from people who don't understand them. (These people all tend to own life insurance, but whatever.) If you have a little candy business and sell into the EU, you have to worry about production, marketing, packaging, shipping, and likely bribes to get past EU regs. You are at great risk for currency fluctuations, sugar prices, cocoa -- all because you want to sell chocolate candy.

Does it not make sense to allow you to hedge your currency and commodity risk -- to sell that risk to someone who is better suited? I seem to be doing the rhetorical questions today, but the answer is yes. Derivatives are a great investment to get risk in hands that can best deal with it. Let's not ban dynamite.

Hat-tip: Instapundit

UPDATE: An e-mailer points out that Taleb inveighs against "complex derivatives" and that I defend vanilla stuff (it was cocoa, actually, not vanilla...) Point taken, but I think my defense can be extrapolated to complex instruments because one would hope more sophisticated investors are doing the buying. And if they lose their shirts, that's okay as long as we do follow Taleb's #2: "No socialisation of losses and privatisation of gains."

Posted by John Kranz at 3:46 PM | What do you think? [4]
But johngalt thinks:

He may be smarter JK, but I'd bet my antique car that he's never personally handled dynamite. (Do I see Taleb taking a step back?)

Posted by: johngalt at April 9, 2009 4:27 PM
But jk thinks:

I dunno, man, I think he's from Lebanon -- hate to bet the 'Cuda on a trinitrotoluene free existence...

Posted by: jk at April 9, 2009 4:39 PM
But Keith thinks:

Turnabout being, as it were, fair play - Hemi 'Cuda? That would make a significant difference in the value of the bet (just a little risk analysis, you know)...

Posted by: Keith at April 10, 2009 1:31 AM
But johngalt thinks:

No, not a hemi, but it is one of only 65 Formula S convertibles made in 1968.

Posted by: johngalt at April 10, 2009 10:39 AM

The Systemic Risk of Tape Backup and Virtual Coffeehouses

Just to make sure, we'd better have Tim Giethner regulate them!

Our illustrious SecTreas does not find sufficient intellectual stimulation in running the banking and automotive sectors. Maybe Silicon Valley needs a little Federal wizardry:

The confusion began when Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner recently told Congress that large venture capital (VC) firms should be forced to register with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and submit regular reports on their investors and portfolios. Data collected by the SEC would then be shared with a new risk regulator to ensure that VCs aren't "a threat to financial stability."

Since then, venture investors have been trying to solve the mystery of how they could possibly threaten the financial system. Their work involves very little banking. Venture firms raise equity from wealthy investors to buy ownership stakes in small companies. The VCs and the companies in which they invest use little or no debt.


The WSJ Ed Page will complain, but who will stop them? These are chilling days. "The Band" music aside, I'm okay with the Union taking the Robert E. Lee, but the Obama Administration's taking the crown jewel of American capitalism and world innovation is too much to bear.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:29 PM | What do you think? [0]

April 8, 2009

End of the World, Chapter LXXIV

A Facebook friend links to this article and sez "As another person who spent a few years abroad (and having lived in less than stable housing during the early years) I think this is an observation well worth sharing. Thanks for putting it out there Mer :)"

Just a grim reminder that somebody wrote this, somebody published it (well, on a website) and somebody thought enough of it to share with her Facebook friends. Merciful Frikken' Frozen Zeus on a Stick! "Letting the Joneses Win:"

First, find an empty glass bottle and a stick. Next, place the bottle on an empty stretch of dirt—if you can find one wedged in between all the concrete. Invite the group to roll the bottle around with the stick, pass it with their feet or run around with it for a few minutes. Then observe their responses.

Will they invent new games with their bottle and stick? Smile with delight? Giggle with glee?

I predict not.

But in parts of the Third World with few resources and even less income, I have watched boys play with Coca-Cola bottles for an entire hour. And they didn't feel at all deprived. Resourceful to the core, they could have fun and be creative with lots of things we wouldn't even consider in the West.

Why? Possibly because American advertising had never told them that a bottle is boring.


Words fail.

But T. Greer thinks:

Hmm. I will admit that I am having trouble understanding your disgust with this article. I trust that you are not confusing criticism of a specific culture's advertising norms (or perhaps more accurately, what a specific culture defines as living the good life) with criticism of advertising, living a good life, or capitalism as a whole. So what is the problem? Why would you see that American children don't play with bottles? How come you never see children playing "kick the can" anymore? Why is there such a need to have so much junk we really don't use?

This author has given their hypothesis; let us hear yours.

Posted by: T. Greer at April 8, 2009 9:47 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

The real fun begins when they discover that it's more fun to spin it than kick it.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at April 8, 2009 11:45 PM
But jk thinks:

Told'ja the world was ending -- they've got tg!

My trouble is that the article is opposed to modernity and individual choice. Children today choose the Wii over a stick and a Coke bottle because they can. No advertiser that I know of ever spent a lot of money telling kids that a bottle is boring. They may have suggested that an X-Box 360 is exciting.

Ms. Whitmore is upset that her sensibilities are not honored but seems unwilling to offer reciprocal understanding. We have an affluent society based on our freedom. Whitmore, and my work friend who linked, and a large portion of the population of Boulder, are apologetic for our success and I am not.

When a society becomes affluent, many will choose to spend money on their personal appearance. I wouldn't spend ten cents or ten minutes on a tanning bed or elective cosmetic surgery. And, when nobody is looking, I question the values of those that do. But I do not seek to take away their choice or belittle their decision as slavery to advertising. That is important to other people; no doubt they'd be uncomfortable at the price tag on some of my guitars.

Any "disgust" flows from my inference that she wants to take us back to the caves. I should give her props that she actually plans to live in the cave herself -- most of her ideological companions want to live in a VP-Gore-sized mansion and have the rest of us strike up a relationship with flint.

But in the end, she wants the American child to embrace the stick and Coke bottle; I want to get the African child iPods and laptops.

Posted by: jk at April 9, 2009 11:43 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I've been really busy and haven't had time to get involved in comments, but I'll take the time here.

"But I do not seek to take away their choice or belittle their decision as slavery to advertising."

Exactly right. People are (mostly) free to spend money on what they want, so it's hardly a gilded cage with advertisers as our masters. Isn't it wonderful that we're wealthy enough to waste things like we do? This is what Meredith will never understand. No doubt she agrees with Drew Barrymore that it's "awesome" to defecate in the woods like a wild animal. Americans have worked too hard, innovated for too long, to let ignoramuses like her bring us back 250 years. And I've personally come too far to let my future children have to "make do" with bottles and sticks.

To give you an idea, my mother's family grew up so poor that she had to live with relatives, for whom she drew and heated bathwater every morning. And only one generation later, I have vastly more wealth than all my mother's cousins ever had, combined. None had the ability to fly across the Philippines in an hour or so, let alone listen to any of thousands of songs upon command. How much more will my children have?

On the flip side, what if we started redistributing our wealth by giving iPods to Third World children? Like the efforts to give out laptops, the devices would often be more useful as doorstops or as something to sell for cold cash. So these things must come not as sudden gifts, but because these poor countries grow wealthier and can later choose to buy what they want. Again, a liberal like Meredith won't understand this. Wealth by itself is not and should never be the end goal. In the end, it's freedom that is the only target, because only through freedom can people achieve true wealth. But liberals reverse cause and effect, pursuing (redistributing) wealth in a perverted idea that it makes people "free."

"You are not to inquire how your trade may be increased, nor how you are to become a great and powerful people, but how your liberties can be secured; for liberty ought to be the direct end of your Government." - Patrick Henry

One of the most humbling events of my life was watching a man on the streets of Cebu City for a few moments as our taxi waited at a traffic light. As he collected scrap cardboard from a compost heap, tying them up with a plastic cord he probably similarly salvaged, his little girl entertained herself by jumping around on the sidewalk. What if some American stranger had bought her a doll, or given her candy? That would help, but what about the more pressing need of making sure she has enough to eat? Think of the "MASH" episode where Charles initially got angry with the orphanage director, who'd sold Charles' Christmas gift of chocolate on the black market. Instead of one night of pleasure, it meant one month of food.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at April 9, 2009 2:12 PM
But jk thinks:

We're on the same page, Perry. Let me clarify: I don't want to donate iPods and laptops to Africa, I want to bring honest government, freedom, and trade to Africa so that they can buy these items for themselves.

My grandmother was born into a Willa Cather-esque existence in 19th Century South Dakota. Her daughter married my Dad who was a penniless jazz musician but ended up with an Ad Agency and 40 people working for him. I have always chuckled that I, as a middle class schlub, live a lifestyle that he would have envied. I couldn't afford the house I grew up in, but my parents rarely ate out or traveled for pleasure. They never went to Europe, while their grandchildren all went before graduating high school.

Posted by: jk at April 9, 2009 3:33 PM

johngalt's 3 minutes of fame

On Monday I found it appropriate to share my popular March 9 post on "One Reason Governments Spend So Much Money" with Denver talk show host Mike Rosen. I suggested it was worthy of reading on air. On Tuesday he did so.

This link is to an audio recording of the entire 3rd hour of his show. The segment I'm in starts at 25:10 (it only takes a minute or two to download to that point) with my specific content starting at 27:50 (about 3.5 minutes long). No, he doesn't mention my name or the name of the blog but he did put the idea out on 50,000 AM watts from Denver.

UPDATE: Just the clip.

But Terri thinks:

Excellent! Congratulations.

Posted by: Terri at April 8, 2009 12:22 PM
But jk thinks:

Do I not have the secret talk show decoder ring? At 25 past on mine, some monotone caller earnestly suggests that Rosen should pour through the 29-page budget summary and maybe do a whole show on it... Right link? it opens in QuickTime in Chrome so it has no time display (I could pull it into my new video studio software)

Posted by: jk at April 8, 2009 4:45 PM
But johngalt thinks:

The full length is 39 minutes so your slider should be just under 2/3 of the way over.

I managed to make a 96 bps mp3 out of the important 3:30 but it is 2.5 mb and I get a "too large" message when I try to upload it. Suggestions?

Posted by: johngalt at April 9, 2009 12:59 PM
But jk thinks:

Philistines! Email it to me and I will FTP it. (And thanks for the tip -- nice.)

Posted by: jk at April 9, 2009 1:12 PM

Whom Have We Empowered?

The WSJ (news pages) today carry a chilling story of the man Sec Paulson brought in to oversee TARP funds.

As the government continues to pour cash into the economy, Mr. Lambright, 38 years old, has become one of the most powerful men in American finance. Unknown to most outside the Treasury building, he's an embodiment of how power in the economy has shifted -- for good or ill -- to Washington.

The chief investment officer of the Troubled Asset Relief Program has engineered $350 billion in deals for the U.S. government since October, more than many investment banks would do in a good year. His team interviews candidates for company board seats. Top executives regularly call him and his team for advice.


Neither gub'mint nor Wall Street is beanbag, but the story of Lambright's "toughness" is disturbing. Don Luskin highlights his intransigence on New Year's Eve as companies desperately tried to get funds deposited before the new year. No, we don't want a cream puff shoveling out taxpayer dollars, but Lambright was appointed by a guy who was appointed. He was neither elected nor explicitly under oversight. He is a free range actor with billions of our dollars to prop up the financial system -- or his own, non-diminutive ego.


April 7, 2009

Dubai Crash

A beloved (but rhymes with "tunecat") relative sends a link to a very interesting story in the Telegraph on the effects of the economic downturn on Dubai.

"The Dark Side of Dubai" really is good and well worth a read.

Dubai was meant to be a Middle-Eastern Shangri-La, a glittering monument to Arab enterprise and western capitalism. But as hard times arrive in the city state that rose from the desert sands, an uglier story is emerging. Johann Hari reports

Glad it's the Telegraph and not the Guardian, but the piece still suffers from rampant anti-capitalism and anti-consumerism. Hari says “Dubai is a living metal metaphor for the neo-liberal globalised world that may be crashing – at last – into history.” I would say that the ills he describes are not a failure of liberalism but a failure of despotism. For the MidEast, Dubai is a hotbed of freedom. And I would suggest that that accounts for much its economic rise. But the lack of real personal liberty as documented in the article prevents a solid foundation of prosperity from being created.

Even at best, it is going to be a marginal economy and likely to suffer great drops in a global downturn. He paints it as pretty dismal today, but I’d inquire whether he’d rather live in Iran, Syria or Saudi Arabia. At the bottom of the bust is it not one of the best countries in the area (excepting Isreal)?

I also have to take some exception to his overwrought examples. The first woman, Ms. Andrews is a pretty sad story. Over invested, lost it all and her husband died with a brain tumor. She admits they made foolish decisions. It is a sad story but she is living in her Range Rover and her designer clothes are creased. There are kids in Chicago whose designer clothes have never rubbed the leather seats of a Range Rover – talk about sad!

She lived the high life few on this planet has known, circumstances changed and she is in the soup. Sorry for her loss but can you remind me how this is allegorical of the fall of an international liberal economic order?

Mr. Hari seems more bothered by affluence than poverty. The lifestyle and all those *#%^@! malls receive more disapprobation than does the de facto slavery he describes. Ah yes, the workers have no rights whatsoever – but what really bugs me is the bored salesgirl at the Harvey Nichols.

Again, Dubai is Amsterdam in its neighborhood, but there is no concept of minority rights, equality, or structured government. Because the current sheik is content to let Dutch girls wear pink shorts and enforce general property rights, it is “game on” especially for a large amount of petrodollars from its neighbors with few choices. I don’t see a Dubai crash as a judgment on liberalism.

But Terri thinks:

Definitely worth the read. Thanks JK.

Posted by: Terri at April 8, 2009 12:20 PM
But jk thinks:

I got a thoughtful response from said relative, admitting agreement with most of my views. We both agreed it is an interesting mixture of freedom and repression.

Posted by: jk at April 8, 2009 5:22 PM

Quote of the Day III

What kind of lazy-ass blogger posts three "QOTDs???"

Well, what could one possibly add to this?

No one at GM ever said that the first-gen Volts would make money, but Troy Clarke, president of GM's North American operations, recently told Automotive News that the second-generation vehicles might also be a red entry on the books. Of course, "as we get a chance to change the generations of technology, we'll lose less and less," he said, adding that, "It's not our intention to lose money forever." Well, that's something. -- autobloggreen.com
But Keith thinks:

Crikey! It's like they brought Madman Muntz back from the dead to run GM. The Muntz Jet may actually resume production at last - complete with an in-dash four-track tape deck, for your listening pleasure...

Posted by: Keith at April 7, 2009 3:25 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

What'm I gonna do with all my old 8-tracks? Granted, the "Jesus Christ Superstar" tape is broken, but I've still got "Tommy"...

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at April 8, 2009 11:24 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I haven't heard this discussed anywhere yet but this seems like a good time and place: After Obama Motors cancels the "gas guzzling" but profitable SUV car models I'd like to see some enterprising billionaire spin them off into a new auto company - he could call it "Specific Motors" - and put the profitable models back into production. It would be interesting to see if consumer demand could defeat layer upon layer of government coercion as Obama Motors uses its power of force to "compete" with the desirable cars.

Posted by: johngalt at April 8, 2009 11:28 AM
But Keith thinks:

jg: I like your idea, but it won't happen. Were GM/Obama Motors to do away with the popular models you describe, it would be done in the the name of the environment and in the name of fuel consumption. Being at the behest of government policy, your spin-off company won't be ALLOWED to manufacture the now-contraband autos, and if necessary, legislation will be enacted forbidding the popular gas-guzzlers.

It will probably be an amendment to Directive 10-289.

That being said, the gubmint can have my gas-guzzling V-8 Mustang GT when they pry the five-speed shifter out of my cold, dead right hand - if they can catch me first.

Second, "Specific Motors" is a name that needs improvement. It needs to be named after the founder, like "Taggart Transcontinental," "d'Anconia Copper," or "Wyatt Oil." A generic, faceless name like "Amalgamated Switch and Signal" or "Associated Steel" just won't do.

Wouldn't it just be sweetly ironic to see this happen under the banner of "Galt Motor Works"?

Posted by: Keith at April 8, 2009 1:39 PM
But jk thinks:

Lunching with ThreeSources friend Silence Dogood, I just suggested that the government could "fix" Chrysler and GM by saying the CAFE standards are forgotten, have a nice day. A little simplistic, but I'd love to see it tried.

Okay, Keith we need more data -- what year is the horse?

Posted by: jk at April 8, 2009 8:06 PM
But Keith thinks:

jk: 2004 (Fortieth Anniversary), dark gray - so I have no fear on highways where you see the sign "Patrolled By Aircraft." I'm the same color as the pavement. Low-tech stealth, and producing a CAFE-curdling 17-18 MPG - just a hair greener than the mileage I used to get on my 1986 Jeep CJ-7.

I like your idea of deep-sixing CAFE. I'll add one to counterbalance it, since we're also going to have to do something, throw a bone to the global warming crowd. I once proposed that here in California, they print the IQ of every licensed driver on their license, and allow them to drive at speeds up to their IQ rating. Here in California, that would keep the average down to Jimmeh Carter's gas-saving 55...

Posted by: Keith at April 8, 2009 9:20 PM

Quote of the Day II

Reason TV has a funny video on paying your taxes (three out of five cabinet appointees agree!)

But I had to give a shout out to Blog Brother Johngalt on the ending tag line:

The IRS: Helping you help us since 1913

Posted by John Kranz at 12:28 PM | What do you think? [0]

Quote of the Day

"Rules must be binding. Violations must be punished. Words must mean something."

So declared President Obama Sunday in Prague regarding North Korea's missile launch, which America's U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice added was a direct violation of U.N. resolutions. At which point, the Security Council spent hours debating its nonresponse, thus proving to nuclear proliferators everywhere that rules aren't binding, violations won't be punished, and words of warning mean nothing.


This is from the lead editorial in the Wall Street Journal today. A bit of choir-preachin' I suppose, but it is a superb and comprehensive rebuke of the dream world in which President Obama -- and much of his party and polity -- live. The Jon Stewart party is supposed to house the kings of irony, yet the juxtaposition of a North Korean multi-stage rocket test and Obama's "moral authority" to rid the world of nuclear weapons didn't seem to disturb anyone with a D after his or her name.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:10 AM | What do you think? [1]
But Keith thinks:

"Or else we will be very angry with you... and we will write you a letter, telling you how angry we are."

Giggling... anyone want to bet Kim Jong-Il has watched Team America, and is hoping he can get Obama to move a little bit to his left?

Posted by: Keith at April 7, 2009 3:36 PM

April 6, 2009

So Goes the Nation

There might be some hope. The generation that gets its news from comedy shows was treated to a satire of corporatism!


Hat-tip: Professor Mankiw


Casting Dagny Taggart

Three überliberals are suggested to star in Atlas Shrugged. We've enjoyed a bit of speculation 'round these parts.

Of Hathaway, Roberts, and Theron, I'd have to choose Ms. Hathaway. Some of her troubles with President Clinton's crooked friend may have instilled a little belief in property rights. Plus her moonbattism seems environmental and understated versus very active, public outbursts from the other two.

But I have an out-of-the-box suggestion. I see that this Friday is the Season Finale of "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" and it's been suggested that its future is uncertain (can't they send some people back in time to drive the ratings up? 18-24 demo, please).

So, how about Ms. Lena Headly? Nobody tougher who's not actually made of Reardon metal, extremely attractive -- I've cast my ballot.

Hat tip: Don Luskin

Posted by John Kranz at 12:29 PM | What do you think? [6]
But AlexC thinks:

Definately Anne Hathaway...

but it would be nice if Dagny were played by an actual conservatarian.

Posted by: AlexC at April 6, 2009 1:41 PM
But Keith thinks:

I could cast a vote for Lena Hedley - anyone know anything about her politics? I'd hazard a guess that, given her lines as Queen Gorgo in "300," she would be comfortable in the Dagny Taggart role.

My previous question about casting grows out of a game I and some friends have been playing at for maybe fifteen years - trying to recast "Casablanca," if they were ever to do a remake. I've come to to conclusion that they simply can't successfully remake "Casablanca" and do it justice.

Fodder for discussion: what would it take for the movie version of "Atlas Shrugged" to do justice to the book?

Posted by: Keith at April 6, 2009 7:28 PM
But jk thinks:

Russell Crowe as Rick or I'm not putting a dime in...

I imagine all the Objectivists will hate the movie fiercely. But the book is climbing the Amazon charts and I think unless they turn it completely on its head, I would think it would be exciting to get the ideas out there.

My parlor game is who plays me and my friends. We should cast the ThreeSources movie someday. Adam Sandler as AlexC.

Posted by: jk at April 6, 2009 7:53 PM
But jk thinks:

Keith: Isla Fischer for Ilsa Lund (and not just for the anagram. Steve Martin for Captain Renault. (Owen Wilson for Victor?)

At the risk of being too kind to jg after savaging ac (I just thought you deserved start power, bro!) perhaps Nathan Fillion could play him in the ThreeSources movie.

Posted by: jk at April 7, 2009 11:31 AM
But johngalt thinks:

This is johngalt speaking: "I aim to misbehave."

Posted by: johngalt at April 8, 2009 11:30 AM
But johngalt thinks:

And after sufficient consideration, I nominate Penn Gillette to personify JK.

Posted by: johngalt at April 8, 2009 4:00 PM

April 4, 2009

If Obama Has Lost The Guardian...

Too funny, and consider the source. John Crace in The Guardian is dismissive of "the Great Orator's" response to a question from a BBC reporter. Nick Robinson asked whether the US or UK was to blame for the economic downturn:

Brown immediately swivels to leave Obama in pole position. There is a four-second delay before Obama starts speaking [THANKS FOR NOTHING, GORDY BABY. REMIND ME TO HANG YOU OUT TO DRY ONE DAY.] Barack Obama: "I, I, would say that, er ... pause [I HAVEN'T A CLUE] ... if you look at ... pause [WHO IS THIS NICK ROBINSON JERK?] ... the, the sources of this crisis ... pause [JUST KEEP GOING, BUDDY] ... the United States certainly has some accounting to do with respect to . . . pause [I'M IN WAY TOO DEEP HERE] ... a regulatory system that was inadequate to the massive changes that have taken place in the global financial system ... pause, close eyes [THIS IS GOING TO GO DOWN LIKE A CROCK OF SHIT BACK HOME. HELP].

You'll probably want to read the whole thing. I was taken back to the second Presidential debate, perhaps the worst night of my young life, when it was clear that neither Senator McCain nor then Senator Obama had the slightest clue what was wrong. As predicted, one of them became President, and now we have a guy who has no clue. I suppose I should be happy that McCain didn't win and tell the BBC that it was "greed and corruption on Wall Street." Our blessings are so few this year, we have to enjoy them.

Hat-tips: Roger Kimball via Insty

UPDATE: The Sun

But Boulder Refugee thinks:

According to our press, the Europeans love this guy. So, The Refugee would like to propose a trade in the spirit of baseball's opening day. We'll give him to the Europeans in return for a stale baguette, a glass of warm beer and a wheel of rotten cheese to be named later.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at April 6, 2009 12:28 PM
But Keith thinks:

Refugee: Europe loves him so much, I'd be tempted to just let the have him gratis - if they take his wife as part of the deal. But let's raise the stakes.

I propose Europe gets him and the missus. In return, we get Sarkozy and Bruni. I think, though, it would also cost us two draft choices and an undisclosed amount of cash.

Posted by: Keith at April 6, 2009 7:33 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

I realize that I was driving a hard bargain asking for the wheel of rotten cheese - some of that stuff can be pretty pricy. How 'bout if we trade Obama and the missus straight up for Vaclav Havel? If that still too steep of a price for the Europeans, we'll throw in an Obama bowling score sheet, a sweaty White Sox ball cap and another set of American DVDs that won't run on European machines.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at April 6, 2009 8:03 PM
But Keith thinks:

Refugee: as a true free-market capitalist, I endorse the notion in bargaining that you start the bidding with an offer most advantageous to yourself, and bargain down from there. Havel would be a great score for our side, and I would accept such a trade; but given that Sarkozy would be much better than our current head of state PLUS, given the possibility of recasting "Casablanca" (see the above post), Ms. Bruni would not only be an improvement over our current first lady, but we could offer her a shot at a being a theatrical leading lady (the camera does like her, and I posit jk would accept her playing opposite Russell Crowe) if she can act.

See how I can tie things together when I put my mind to it?

Posted by: Keith at April 6, 2009 9:12 PM
But Keith thinks:

And while we're on the subject of American DVDs, I hope that when Obama has his much-anticipated confab with Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and they do their gift exchange, I hope Persian-made DVD players can read the copy of "300" that Obama gives him.

Yeah, putting the "smart" in "smart diplomacy..."

Posted by: Keith at April 6, 2009 9:15 PM
But johngalt thinks:

'300' for President Ah'm-in-a-jihad? Ouch!

This seems like a good time to thank Keith and BR for their regular contributions to this blog. You really do make it fun.

Posted by: johngalt at April 7, 2009 12:01 PM

April 3, 2009

Beware, Three Sourcers!

This should send a cold shiver down the spine of every Three Sourcer: The FTC is cracking down on blog endorsements.

...the Financial Times reports, the government consumer watchdog will be cracking down on people who post false statements ...

The Refugee hereby recinds and disavows all of the nice things he's ever said about anyone on these pages.

Humor Posted by Boulder Refugee at 6:33 PM | What do you think? [3]
But jk thinks:

Yup, they get thrills up the leg and we get cold shivers down the spine. Elections really do matter.

Posted by: jk at April 4, 2009 11:35 AM
But AlexC thinks:

100% of my posts are satire and comedy.

no truth in that. none.

Posted by: AlexC at April 4, 2009 2:02 PM
But jk thinks:

And all of my posts are 100% true. I think you're safe, br!

Posted by: jk at April 4, 2009 9:30 PM

Phones: It's Not New Technolgy

How does this happen in the smartest administration evah?

Journalists seeking to talk a little foreign policy with high-profile Obama administration officials live from the G20 meetings in London this week were solicited for phone sex instead after ringing up the toll-free number given by the White House.

In a press release, the White House accidentally listed a sex line number for journalists seeking an "on-the-record briefing call with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and National Security Advisor Jim Jones to discuss the NATO summit."

But after dialing, a soft-voiced female recording that was clearly not Clinton asked for a credit card number if you "feel like getting nasty."


... well someone's getting screwed, that's for sure.

But Keith thinks:

AlexC: it's bad enough that Obama is taking over GM, getting ready to nationalize the banks and insurance companies, and thinking seriously about taking over the healthcare industry.

If he's even getting into dial-a-pr0n, he's overreaching. I say this is our Lexington. If we can't even fight for our pr0n...

Posted by: Keith at April 3, 2009 9:47 AM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

The number given to the press was actually a legitimate White House number. Unfortunately, they were unaware that it forwarded to a secret speed dial number left over from Bill.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at April 3, 2009 11:01 AM

April 2, 2009

Media Health a Leading Indicator of Societal Change?

It probably has not escaped anyone's attention that traditional liberal media outlets are falling off the financial cliff while more centrist or right-leaning sources are doing OK (WSJ, Fox News, Limbaugh). This link has an excellent summary of the situation.

At first, The Refugee speculated that this was because more conservative readers understand the need for businesses to make money and are therefore more likely to pony up for a subscription. Liberals have a greater penchant for an entitlement mentality and therefore expect things for free or to be provided by the government. But, he concluded that this was an unfair, snarky little remark. (Go ahead, LatteSipper, let him have it!)

However, could it be that the health of media outlets is a leading indicator of societal change? In the stock market, transportation activity is a leading indicator of economic activity, whereas employment is a lagging indicator. The Refugee is no media scholar, but the current long-term drift to the left seems to have started in the 20's and 30's when socialism/communism came into vogue and the media started moving left.

In the above-referenced piece, only 20% of Americans believe "all or most" media reporting. Perhaps the current trend in the media indicates that national mentality is moving back more toward the middle. Wishful thinking by The Refugee? Hopefully not.

Media and Blogging Posted by Boulder Refugee at 4:41 PM | What do you think? [0]

Mark to Market relaxed

Today President Obama hailed agreements at the emergency meeting of world powers Thursday as a "turning point in our pursuit of global economic recovery."

Balderdash! Here is the turning point in American, and therefore global economic recovery:

The changes to so-called mark-to-market accounting allow companies to use “significant” judgment when gauging the price of some investments on their books, including mortgage-backed securities. Analysts say the measure may reduce banks’ writedowns and boost their first-quarter net income by 20 percent or more. FASB voted 3-2 to approve the rules at a meeting today in Norwalk, Connecticut.

(...)

Companies weighed down by mortgage-backed securities, such as New York-based Citigroup, could cut their losses by 50 percent to 70 percent, said Richard Dietrich, an accounting professor at Ohio State University in Columbus.

So there you have it. A 20 percent boost in first-quarter net income and losses cut by more than half with the stroke of a pen! (By a 3-2 margin, mind you.) But every silver lining has a cloud. The geniuses at FASB are letting companies back date the new rule for first quarter reporting, but not for 2008 year-end.

FASB rejected requests from banks to let them apply the fair-value change to their year-end financial statements for 2008. While the new standard takes effect for earnings reports filed at the end of June, FASB said companies could apply it to their first-quarter financial statements.

Can't have too much of a good thing, I suppose. Or perhaps they just want the 2008 "Bush era" data to look as bad as possible going forward.

But Keith thinks:

JG: your final sentence hits the truth square in the ten-ring.

I've come up with the perfect economic recovery plan. Obama leaves the country for 48 hours, mark-to-market is relaxed, and the Dow shoots above 8,000. I say a trend has to be respected. Let's have Obama take an extended vacation overseas to practice his bowling while we start deregulating stuff. It could be economic paradise.

Posted by: Keith at April 2, 2009 3:53 PM

Latest on the Atlas Shrugged Movie

The rumored Atlas Shrugged movie may start filming next year:

Producers are looking to shoot next year, driven in part by the timeliness, as well as by a clause in the option. A high net-worth individual with whom the Baldwins have partnered controls the option, but that option would revert to the Rand estate if production doesn't begin by the end of 2010.

I.e. in time for release during the 2012 election season.

Philosophy Posted by JohnGalt at 2:53 PM | What do you think? [4]
But Keith thinks:

JG: my biggest fear is that even a three-hour movie would have to cut too much material to do it justice. I'd still like to see this as a twelve-episode miniseries. It worked for "Band of Brothers."

I also read that Angelina Jolie is out. Who do the ThreeSourcers want to see cast?

Posted by: Keith at April 2, 2009 3:48 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

The Refugee will nominate Kelsey Grammer and Bo Derek, two individuals for whom that acting should not be a stretch.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at April 2, 2009 5:33 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I'm not so confident that the story could hold an audience through a trilogy, much less a miniseries, being bereft of trolls and elves and wookies and such. Think of the movie as the Cliff's Notes version of the book.

Casting: Hmmm, that's a good question. If they were younger I'd like Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn, but Goldie would have to become a brunette. (Sorry blondes.) Still, with the same movie magic that made Harrison Ford a believable Indiana Jones in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull they might just pull it off.

Dagny just offered up Liam Neeson as Galt (OK with me) and she said Dagny should be cast as a redhead (also OK with me.)

Posted by: johngalt at April 3, 2009 11:12 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Speaking of the Atlas Shrugged Cliffs Notes, it was written by Objectivist Andrew Bernstein, whom dagny and I have met, and is widely praised. Dr. Bernstein officiated at the wedding of friends of ours and we had the pleasure of driving him to and from the ceremony. The ceremony was held in the same location as ours: The amphitheater on Flagstaff Mountain near Boulder.

Posted by: johngalt at April 3, 2009 11:30 AM

The 90% Myth

Blog Brother TG has quoted the statistic that 90% of guns used by Mexican gangs come from the US. The Refugee has expressed strong reservations about the validitiy of these statistics. The truth is now out. A recent report that analyzed the source of these statistics found that of the guns that were traced, 90% came from the US. Since the US can trace guns by serial number and Mexico cannot (or does not), it's not surprising that the number is 90%. In fact, it is surprising that it's not 100% given the selective sample. The full truth is that when you consider all guns recovered by the Mexican government, only 17% can be traced to a US source.

In 2007-2008, according to ATF Special Agent William Newell, Mexico submitted 11,000 guns to the ATF for tracing. Close to 6,000 were successfully traced -- and of those, 90 percent -- 5,114 to be exact, according to testimony in Congress by William Hoover -- were found to have come from the U.S.

But in those same two years, according to the Mexican government, 29,000 guns were recovered at crime scenes.

In other words, 68 percent of the guns that were recovered were never submitted for tracing. And when you weed out the roughly 6,000 guns that could not be traced from the remaining 32 percent, it means 83 percent of the guns found at crime scenes in Mexico could not be traced to the U.S.

The Refugee had further speculated that most arms came from South America or China. Here are the facts:

So, if not from the U.S., where do they come from? There are a variety of sources:

-- The Black Market. Mexico is a virtual arms bazaar, with fragmentation grenades from South Korea, AK-47s from China, and shoulder-fired rocket launchers from Spain, Israel and former Soviet bloc manufacturers.

-- Russian crime organizations. Interpol says Russian Mafia groups such as Poldolskaya and Moscow-based Solntsevskaya are actively trafficking drugs and arms in Mexico.

- South America. During the late 1990s, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) established a clandestine arms smuggling and drug trafficking partnership with the Tijuana cartel, according to the Federal Research Division report from the Library of Congress.

-- Asia. According to a 2006 Amnesty International Report, China has provided arms to countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Chinese assault weapons and Korean explosives have been recovered in Mexico.

-- The Mexican Army. More than 150,000 soldiers deserted in the last six years, according to Mexican Congressman Robert Badillo. Many took their weapons with them, including the standard issue M-16 assault rifle made in Belgium.

-- Guatemala. U.S. intelligence agencies say traffickers move immigrants, stolen cars, guns and drugs, including most of Americas cocaine, along the porous Mexican-Guatemalan border. On March 27, La Hora, a Guatemalan newspaper, reported that police seized 500 grenades and a load of AK-47s on the border. Police say the cache was transported by a Mexican drug cartel operating out of Ixcan, a border town.

If past history is an indication of future political performance, The Left will continue to quote this statistic even though it has now been exposed as a partial truth. It will continue to be their justification for gutting the Second Amendment.

Gun Rights Posted by Boulder Refugee at 11:03 AM | What do you think? [5]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Here is another great article regarding the administration's use of the issue for policitical purposes:

http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/Read.aspx?GUID=39F94B81-D7ED-45AB-8FC2-55D3317CF397

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at April 2, 2009 11:31 AM
But T. Greer thinks:

Ouch. I will admit it- I did not think about the distinction between guns captured and guns traced. That was a mistake on my part and kudos to you for calling me on it.

However, the article did prompt a thought that has never occurred to me before: do we know how representative the guns we have captured are of the population as a whole? I mean, you can hardly call the guns we have a simple random sample. Do you think it is possible that there is an overrepresentation of American guns (or for that matter, any type of weapon) due to detainment methods, size of smuggling operations, etc.?

I will have to think about this a bit more.

Posted by: T. Greer at April 2, 2009 12:03 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Thank you, thank you, thank you BR. I saw the report this morning and your post was more thorough than the one I intended.

Most of us "knew" the 90% statistic was bull, and now all of us who don't deny the existence of reason actually know it was bull.

The only thing that surprised me about the original narrative was that the figure was 90% instead of the infamous Obama figure of proportion: 95 percent. (Curiously, that figure is the same one used in the old Beatles song 'Taxman.'

Let me tell you how it will be, There’s one for you, nineteen for me, ‘Cos I’m the Taxman, Yeah, I’m the Taxman. Should five per cent appear too small, Be thankful I don’t take it all.
Posted by: johngalt at April 2, 2009 12:52 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Hmmm, good point, TG, and there's probably no way to know. I would speculate that the guns we are aware of are the result of some US/Mexican cooperative operation perhaps within some proximity of the border. To the extent that Mexico operate independently (i.e., in the south of the country) and therefore does not report to the US would skew the statistics. We also do not know to what degree confiscated weapons are recycled back to the cartels due to corruption.

The most disturbing element to me was the degree to which M16s are sold legitimately to the Mexican army (and therefore with US serial numbers) and then stolen by defectors. These are fully automatic weapons (semi-automatic models of the same weapon would be designated as AR-15s and are available for civilian sale in the US, whereas M16s are military/police only).

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at April 2, 2009 1:04 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

You have hit on just what makes events down in Mexico so scary. We are not dealing with a bunch of the poor kids from Monterrey who have taken up gun-running in order to get a scrap to eat. In the worst cases, you have Mexican special ops officers switching over to the more lucrative (and in many case, more secure) job as a cartel hit men. Take Los Zetas, a gang President Caldeon has compared to Al Qaeda- the back bone of the gang are gafes (the Mexican equivalent to Green Berets) who received training from U.S. and Israeli special forcs before they deserted. Extremely competent, these gangs thin the ranks of the Mexican military brass and run their own terror training camps with impunity.

Or to put things in a slightly different perspective- how long would most city governments last if the Bloods and Crips you always hear about were organized and staffed by defected Marines wielding the weapons and tactics they used in the Corp?

Posted by: T. Greer at April 4, 2009 11:18 PM

April 1, 2009

Tea Party Plan

So, ThreeSources Colorado Wing group presence at the tea party? Loveland? Denver?

Dirty Hippies Posted by John Kranz at 7:29 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

galt clan - YES. (Denver)

Posted by: johngalt at April 2, 2009 12:38 PM

EU Fudge

Worth remembering that things are far from perfect 'cross the pond:

Hat-tip: Samizdata

Posted by John Kranz at 6:40 PM | What do you think? [0]

Color Thesaurus

Very cool web app.

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 4:16 PM | What do you think? [0]

Phosphate Ban Spurs Rise in Smuggling

Spokane County, Washington banned the sale of dishwashing detergent that contains phosphates last July. Predictably, this ban has caused residents to resort to smuggling contraband Cascade and Electrosol from across the border in nearby Idaho.

As a result, there has been a quiet rush of Spokane-area shoppers heading east on Interstate 90 into Idaho in search of old-school suds.

Real estate agent Patti Marcotte of Spokane stocks up on detergent at a Costco in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, and doesn't care who knows it.

"Yes, I am a smuggler," she said. "I'm taking my chances because dirty dishes I cannot live with."

The Refugee has been unable to substantiate rumors of an emerging "phosphate cartel" and increased violence on the Idaho side of the border. When they outlaw phospates, only outlaws will have phosphates.

Economics and Markets Posted by Boulder Refugee at 3:29 PM | What do you think? [2]
But jk thinks:

I was going to post this with the question "Do I own my dishwasher or not?" I think we both need to get out more.

Posted by: jk at April 1, 2009 4:12 PM
But AlexC thinks:

a friend of mine living in Spokane says the cops have been ticketting people for years bringing back liquor and cheap cigarettes from Idaho....

He didn't speak up because he didn't smoke.
He didn't speak up because he didn't drink (much).

Now he's speaking up, because he likes clean dishes.

Me? I'd switch to styrofoam plates... damn the landfills!

Posted by: AlexC at April 1, 2009 5:00 PM

Even Harvard is Hit Hard

Mankiw's last free post:

With Harvard having lost so much of its endowment lately, the university has asked me to stop providing this blog free of charge. Going forward, therefore, this blog will be available only to Harvard students and alumni and to others who subscribe via the new Harvard-bloggers program. All revenue from this program will be split between building the new Allston campus and providing students hot fudge sundaes on alternate Thursdays and every day during exam periods.

Bummer.

UPDATE: In the spirit -- don't miss Perry's from 2006

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 2:16 PM | What do you think? [1]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I had you with that one, didn't I. :)

Pretty much impossible to top, so I haven't tried anything on that level since.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at April 1, 2009 4:35 PM

Wow, Obama Fixed Healthcare!

Walgreens Offers Free Healthcare For Those With Recent Job Loss

Walgreen will offer free clinic visits to the unemployed and uninsured for the rest of the year, providing tests and routine treatment for minor ailments through its walk-in clinics, though patients will still pay for prescriptions.

Walgreen said patients who lose their job and health insurance after March 31 will be able to get free treatment at its in-store Take Care clinics for respiratory problems, allergies, infections and skin conditions, among other ailments. Typically those treatments cost $59 or more for patients with no insurance.


Boom. They already offer a 90 day supply of generics for $12, and $59 nurse appointments for us poor folks who are employed and insured. Wal-Mart and CVS will probably pile on this as well. No gub'mint, no new taxes, no market distortions.

Hat-tip: Mamapundit via Insty

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 1:17 PM | What do you think? [0]

Maybe Don't Take That Train Trip...

John Fund thinks he has seen this story before:

But the [Auto Industry restructuring] moves also represent another step on the road to the dystopia that Ayn Rand depicted in her novel "Atlas Shrugged." Rand envisioned an America in which bureaucrats dictated terms to both management and labor as it allocated state favors. As Michael Vadum of the Capital Research Center notes, such state managerialism is a peculiarly foreign concept to America. He quotes the Italian dictator Mussolini as saying: "Fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power." That merger is now underway here, at least until Mr. Obama and his Democrats get through the next couple of elections with the help of a grateful UAW.


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

A Liberal Arab Voice Worthy of Three Sources

The Refugee has hesitated to make this post, because the content does not introduce new ideas or angles to Three Sources. Nevertheless, a reference to an Al Jazeera interview is perhaps remarkable enough to make it blog-worthy. Moreover, it is an Arab (Kuwaiti) journalist talking about the importance of individual rights, secularism and the necessary separation of government and religion. Though Three Sourcers will simply say, "Here, here," it is nice to see this topic being debated openly in Arab society. This link is to the transcript. The video is available, but loads slowly and is subtitled anyway. The topic around which the debate takes place is the journalist's position that Palestinians would be better off if aid to them were eliminated and they were left to their own devices.

Hat tip: FrontPage Magazine

Islam Posted by Boulder Refugee at 11:23 AM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

Awesome. Yeah, it really doesn't add much except to underscore the universal nature of liberal ideas. Awesome.

Posted by: jk at April 1, 2009 12:21 PM

The Refugee and jk Hash it Out

Hat-tip: Reason Hit&Run

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 10:29 AM | What do you think? [10]
But johngalt thinks:

Agreed on all points. And why isn't there more debate on this by now? That was the intent of my "legal drug toke," err, "tote board" after all. BR?

On the "Amsterdam" issue, it's unfair to blame legal drugs for all of their problems. It is also a welfare state. Perhaps we could trade drug legalization with the Democrats for some rolling back of entitlements (along with legalizing domestic oil production.)

Posted by: johngalt at April 2, 2009 12:33 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

JG, I did get a chuckle out of our your "toke board" as you call it. I guess I was a bit blogged-out on the topic after the previous exchange.

However, I think your more serious point is highly valid. That is, the phrase "legalize drugs" is extremely broad. While I personally see no redeeming virtue in the recreational use of pot, I could potentially be persuaded to legalize it. I certainly know plenty of highly productive people who use the stuff.

However, I would *never* legalize drugs such as heroin, LSD, meth, crack, speed, ecstacy, etc. These are toxic, dangerous substances that can addict, permantly harm and even kill users in a single dose. I would no more advocate their unrestricted availability than I would any other poison. Cocaine is probably in the middle of the continuum between pot and heroin, but I would not legalize it because I have friends who started with a little recreational use of coke and graduated to crack for the faster, quicker high. It destroyed their lives. It is simply too dangerous to fool with, IMHO.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at April 2, 2009 2:31 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

And, let me answer JK's question before he gets a chance to ask it: "Isn't in my brain to fry if I want to, provided that I do no harm to others?" Theoretically, yes. However, these substances are so noxious that harm to another is nearly inevitable (e.g., petty/serious crime, child neglect, spousal abandonment). Thus, like drunk driving, the probability of harm to another is so high that it justifies government regulation and intervention before the fact, even to the point of a war on drugs.

There! I said it! You smoked The Refugee out! (No pun intended.) He supports the war on drugs!!

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at April 2, 2009 3:25 PM
But jk thinks:

Actually, I'd like to make a pragmatic point. During prohibition, folks sold and drank high-proof hard liquor, because if you're going to smuggle, it doesn't make sense to brew 3.2 beer. Now that it is legal, there are a lot of low alcohol choices: light wines, wine coolers, &c.

You speculate on the legalization of crack. I posit that there would be no such thing as crack without the war on drugs. Just as there is no mad rush to moonshine bathtub gin today. This is an underconsidered benefit of legalization: much more sociable variations of these products would proliferate.

Posted by: jk at April 2, 2009 4:12 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Not so sure there is such a thing as "heroin lite." ("A third fewer bad trips, less pushing" as a slogan?) Also, don't assume that moonshine is a thing of the past. The Refugee has friends from North Carolina who occassional bring along a bottle of genuine moonshine just for fun. Why would anyone brew and consume something that is indistinguishable from jet fuel both in taste and energy potential? For the same reason that little boys light everything on fire - pure entertainment value and to prove they can.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at April 2, 2009 4:35 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Ahhh, youth. I remember that! :)

Posted by: johngalt at April 2, 2009 7:06 PM

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