June 30, 2009

Excellence

ThreeSources has been a sacred and quiet bastion from celebrity death news. But we who love the free market cannot not offer a loud REQUIESCAT IN PACE!!!! to the King Of Pitch, Mister Billy Mays.

Popular Mechanics has five of his infomercials posted and they are really quite compelling. Ed McMahon was proudest of his abilities as a pitchman as well. Goodbye to both -- it's great to see something done well.

On topic, this jazz snob has to actually spin off a few nice words about Michael Jackson as well. Looking at his productive years over the tabloid years, I offer a one glove salute to a performer who was known for working hard. I know a lot of players who rest on their abilities and I know a lot who work hard. Jackson was that rare breed who did both. He used to rehearse those dance chops pretty severely and was known to be pretty demanding at the quality of his recordings and videos.

Sorry to break our perfect record in non-Jackson coverage, but I don't hear anybody else saying that. If you're gonna be a pop star or a pitchman, do it right. And a few guys who did died last week. We now return to our regularly scheduled programming.

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

The Brevity Act

Or "Omnibus Legislation to Ensure Succinctness and Eschew Obfuscation and Circumlocution" when our 535 editors-in-chief are done with it.

Bob Gale makes an important point. He prints out the Constitution in 12 point Times New Roman (Dan Rather's favorite) and it clocks in at 20 pages.

Yet the bill that was passed on June 26, 2009 by 219 of our elected representatives people to whom weve entrusted our Constitution, men and women who have sworn an oath to uphold it - was more than 1200 pages long. Thats over 100 times longer than the U.S. Constitution! And not one member of Congress, NOT ONE, read the whole thing!

A word comes to my mind to describe this: "INSANE."


In "Tempting of America" Robert Bork makes the point that the Constitution is understandable. He objects to the Justices' getting too lawyerly because it breaks this bond of undestanding between the people and the law that defines their government. Bastiat's "The Law" says that just law is "understandable and avoidable."

What's in the 1200 pages of Cap'n Trade? Pure mischief. Rent-seeking opportunities for campaign donors, special carve-outs for supporters. And, perhaps most importantly a net obfuscation-through-tonnage that keeps anybody from knowing enough about it to debate it or discuss it seriously.

Gale suggests a brevity amendment:

No law, bill, resolution or any act of Congress shall exceed 2000 words, including all footnotes, amendments and signatures. Congress shall not vote on any item longer than that. Each item requiring a vote shall be read aloud in its entirety in session to a majority of members. Those not in attendance may not vote on the item.

We could do (and have done) a lot worse.

Hat-tip: Instapundit

Posted by John Kranz at 10:08 AM | What do you think? [3]
But Keith thinks:

Before Bastiat, there was Hammurabi. Hammurabi's code included some three hundred separate laws, not one of which is more than two sentences long. He was believed to have said that to be enforceable, laws must be simple (so that all could understand) and on public display (so no one could claim ignorance).

My, how we've evolved over the centuries.

I'll endorse the brevity amendment, and propose a rider: that for every one of those up-to-2,000 words enacted, two must be deleted; and for every new law passed, two old ones must be made to go away.

Posted by: Keith at June 30, 2009 11:50 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Both of the examples of good law cited above were created before not just the modern age, but the post-modern age. When the very idea of knowable reality is obliterated then what use is knowable law?

And expanding on some prior comments, when a person is taught that "nothing is certain" and "perception is reality" then when the otherwise predictable effects of reality take him by surprise the only thing he can call it is "magic." In other words, blame the schools. Specifically, the philosophers who train the professors who teach the educators who write and administer the curricula. (In other societies they call these philosophers "mullahs.")

Posted by: johngalt at July 1, 2009 10:54 AM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Keith, The Refugee's father used to aspouse a similar system to pass one law/remove another. However, he passed before such legistation did. Unfortunately, you and I are likely to suffer the same fate.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at July 1, 2009 11:35 AM

Civil Evil

I must, in fairness, link to a WSJ editorial today that strongly takes my blog brother br's side of the Madoff sentence.

On sentencing 71-year-old Bernard Madoff yesterday to 150 years, federal Judge Denny Chin said, "Here the message must be sent that Mr. Madoff's crimes were extraordinarily evil."

"Evil" is a word that has fallen out of political fashion, suggesting as it does intent or action that is irredeemable. Politicians, especially now, prefer to routinely insinuate vaguely defined moral failure against individuals, corporations and entire industries for opposing an equally vague standard of the public good.

No such problem attends Bernard Madoff, who himself yesterday described a personality willing to defraud and debase all who came in contact with him. Madoff's sentence and Judge Chin's remarks fit the crime. They are a rare exercise in moral clarity.


I'm all for moral clarity and agree that Madoff clearly showed premeditation and mens rea. It still seems out of line to me with typical sentences for physical violence and murder, but perhaps my father and G.K. Chesterton were right about this not being a perfect world.

Dr. Helen asks my question. Many interesting comments.

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 9:47 AM | What do you think? [0]

June 29, 2009

But with good behavior, he'll be out in 130...

Does anybody really think that Bernie Madoff deserves 150 years?

NEW YORK Convicted Wall Street swindler Bernard Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison Monday for a fraud that the judge called so "extraordinarily evil" that he needed to send a message to potential copycats and to victims who demanded harsh punishment.

Again, my preference would be to have fewer but more just laws and enforce them fully. But I suspect that if some kid kills me in a botched carjacking, he'll tell the judge that Mommy didn't love him and he'll be out in a few years. I'm glad this judge comprehends the importance of property rights, but I suggest that this sentence is part-and-parcel of a current bias against "money folk."

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 4:52 PM | What do you think? [1]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Would you feel better if he'd only been sentenced to 100 years? Or 50? He'd be eligible for parole at age 110.

For years, liberals have decried the sentences meted out to drug offenders as being overly harsh compared to white collar crime. Just proves the old adage that some people will complain if you hang 'em with a new rope.

Personally, I don't find the Madoff sentence excessive. He should spend the rest of his life cleaning toilets with his toothbrush. It's not like he was picking the pockets of unsuspecting tourists in Times Square to feed his kids. This guy ruined the retirement for thousands of people in order to live better than a king - and knew exactly what he was doing.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at June 29, 2009 5:20 PM

Ricci Overturned!

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court has ruled that white firefighters in New Haven, Conn., were unfairly denied promotions because of their race, reversing a decision that high court nominee Sonia Sotomayor endorsed as an appeals court judge. -- AP

But Jimmy P points out that the betting markets still call her a 95% sure thing for confirmation.

UPDATE: Maybe a quote of the day for Justice Alito's concurrence, joined by Scalia and Thomas (C/O Jonathan Adler):

Petitioners were denied promotions for which they qualified because of the race and ethnicity of the firefighters who achieved the highest scores on the Citys exam. The District Court threw out their case on summary judgment, even though that court all but conceded that a jury could find that the Citys asserted justification was pretextual. The Court of Appeals then summarily affirmed that decision. The dissent grants that petitioners situation is unfortunate and that they understandably attract this Courts sympathy. Post, at 1, 39. But sympathy is not what petitioners have a right to demand. What they have a right to demand is evenhanded enforcement of the lawof Title VIIs prohibition against discrimination based on race. And that is what, until todays decision, has been denied them.

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

Now, Some Nasty Words about Lord Keynes

I found myself in the peculiar position if defending the Keynes multiplier last week. On this very blog. It was not any fun but I felt that it needed to be done.

To get my mojo back, I pass along a Mankiw post and a recommendation that you click through and read Scott Sumner's original post. Sumner details an incident when a young JMK was caught in a quick currency flip and leaned on friends and family.

Translation, without help from his rich daddy and rich friends, this cocky, arrogant, smart-aleck would have fallen on his face, ended up digging ditches somewhere and we would never have heard of him. But he did have a rich daddy, who bailed him out...

Interstin'... While on topic, click over to scrivener.net to read "An odd thing about Keynesian deficit spending:"
"Despite the fact that the economics of deficit finance began with the Keynesian Revolution, it has been conclusively established by Kregel (1985) that Keynes himself did not ever directly recommend government deficits as a tool of stabilization policy. Keynes played a conservative political hand and viewed budget deficits with a 'clearly enunciated lack of enthusiasm'."

But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

That's true. He was a "fiscally responsible" liberal, after all, in the same way that Bill and Hillary, and Robert Rubin, are. Government can borrow and spend if it needs to, but preferably it'll just tax the hell out of people and control all the spending.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at June 29, 2009 4:08 PM

The Weakest Link

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

One selling feature of the model condo that I bought was the inclusion of three very nice, high-end ceiling fans. Attractive and quiet, I have really enjoyed them.

Clicking it on this morning, the cheap pull-chain broke off flush with the switch and the office fan is now stuck on "Liquefy." The wall switch controls only the light, there is no other place to cut power (except the breaker).

Charming illustration of an old aphorism, and, yet, crap!

Posted by John Kranz at 11:09 AM | What do you think? [5]
But johngalt thinks:

Good news! The chain broke with the fan switch on instead of off. Just install one of these wireless fan controls and you're all set. No new wiring is required.

Then the weak link will be the lack of a self-dusting feature.

Posted by: johngalt at July 1, 2009 10:25 AM
But jk thinks:

Get outta town -- assume all fans have remote?

Posted by: jk at July 1, 2009 10:49 AM
But johngalt thinks:

No no. This control comes with its own remote receiver that is installed under the fan housing below the ceiling. That's how it is compatible with all fans.

Posted by: johngalt at July 1, 2009 10:57 AM
But jk thinks:

Okay, got it. That should work perfectly. I have one on the way from Amazon.

Posted by: jk at July 1, 2009 11:45 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Holler if'n you need someone to hold the ladder.

Posted by: johngalt at July 2, 2009 1:39 PM

RomneyCare Post Mortem

After Senator McCain's disappointing campaign in 2008, I saw Gov. Romney on TV and wondered if I had made the wrong choice. Romney understood capitalism and did not seem to hate business. I passed on Romney because of RomneyCare. I figured that if he were rolled by the Democrats in the Commonwealth, he'd be sure to get rolled by the ones in Washington.

By then, there were not any good choices left, so I don't know if was right or wrong. But I was not wrong on RomneyCare. A big story in the Boston Globe yesterday highlighted its problems. Author Joan Vonnochi gets a mention in the WSJ's "Notable & Quotable" feature (their cheap imitation of the ThreeSources Quote of the Day):

The fuzzy math behind the Massachusetts universal healthcare law is starting to add up -- just as Washington studies the law as a possible model for the nation.

Because of a recession-related drop in state revenues and a surge in enrollment by the recently unemployed, the truth is emerging at an inconvenient time. Massachusetts doesn't have enough money to pay for the coverage envisioned by the law.

In June, state officials announced they are cutting $100 million from Commonwealth Care, which subsidizes premiums for needy residents. The poorest residents, along with the newest -- legal immigrants -- will take the hit.

This outcome is not surprising, but it is instructive as President Obama pushes for a national healthcare plan.

On the day that Republican Governor Mitt Romney, for once, made Bay State Democrats happy, by signing the sweeping new healthcare bill into law, the Globe headline said it all: "Joy, worries on healthcare. As Romney signs bill, doubts arise about revenues.''

In Massachusetts, the numbers never added up, as everyone involved in crafting the new law understood. But for a variety of reasons, ranging from Romney's presidential aspirations to Senator Edward M. Kennedy's longstanding commitment to healthcare reform, everyone smiled for the cameras and hoped for the best out of this noble experiment.

UPDATE: Don't pack up that moisturizer just yet:

Mitt Romney says publicly he's not considering another presidential campaign, most recently on Sunday during an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press." But many of his loyalists expect one and remain at the ready for 2012.

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 10:46 AM | What do you think? [1]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Really, what thinking person was surprised?

Show me one person who believed the projections about staying in the black, and I'll show you a goddamn dolt.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at June 29, 2009 4:11 PM

June 28, 2009


The Didn't Take Long

Obama administration politicizing science?

Say it ain't so.

But jk thinks:

With this and the firing of the Inspectors General, it is almost worth abandoning liberty to see our friends on the left contort themselves. Almost.

Posted by: jk at June 28, 2009 11:59 AM
But AlexC thinks:

As I have observed from my liberal co-workers....

Never underestimate the power of willful ignorance.

Posted by: AlexC at June 28, 2009 4:37 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

You want to talk about co-workers... Remember that woman who said "He's going to help me pay for gas and my mortgage"? I work near two just like that. The one good thing that came out of Obama's primary victories is that these two actually learned the names of some states they probably hadn't heard of before.

As long as whitey gets stuck with the cost, they don't care.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at June 28, 2009 7:02 PM

June 27, 2009

Clean Energy "misinformation"

I'd barely finished yelling at my television during C-SPAN coverage of the H.R. 2454 vote before the president started in on the senate:

"My call to every senator, as well as to every American, is this," he said. "We cannot be afraid of the future. And we must not be prisoners of the past. Don't believe the misinformation out there that suggests there is somehow a contradiction between investing in clean energy and economic growth."

Misinformation? I think John Boehner said it best during his "fillibuster" yesterday (via DVR):

6:04 PM EDT [Reading from the 300 page back-door amendment.] "Now let me get to page 83. Consumer Behavior Research. The Secretary of Energy is authorized to establish a research program to identify the factors affecting consumer actions to conserve energy and to make improvements in energy efficiency. Through the program the Secretary will make grants to public and private institutions of higher education to study the effects of consumer behavior on total energy use."

"Do we really need to spend government money to do a study on why people don't want to pay twice the cost and get half the quality?"

Then there's this:

Obama said the bill would create jobs, make renewable energy profitable and decrease America's dependence on foreign oil.

Does nobody recognize this tacit admission that renewable energy is NOT profitable?

But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Obama practices true faith-based politics. You have to believe he has some kind of magic, otherwise this whole planet is so screwed.

Of course, I'm just being logical when I point out that whatever profitable "renewable" energy there is, by definition entrepreneurs look at it without any need for government. Government action can only direct us away from what is genuinely profitable.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at June 28, 2009 7:04 PM
But Keith thinks:

"Obama, practices faith-based politics." So true. So do the people who voted for him; they were true believers in that magic.

When I was in the Philippines during the run-up to the 2004 Presidential election there, I read an article in one of their newspapers in which a number of ordinary people were asked who they were voting for and why. I laughed as I read about one older woman who answered "I am voting for Fernando Poe Jr. because he has magic, and he will use that magic to fix the economy!" (One of Poe's best-known movie roles was as the character Flavio, a blacksmith who forges a magical sword to right wrongs in "Ang Panday.")

Yeah, I laughed because it's funny when stupid happens to someone else's country. It's not so funny now. Thank you, 52%, for all that magical thinking.

Posted by: Keith at June 29, 2009 11:53 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Which is worse, voters who ascribe supernatural powers to the politicians they support, or people who support politicians with full knowledge of how "democracy" will give them by taking from others?

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at June 29, 2009 4:14 PM
But jk thinks:

Well said, Perry, I think I'll take the witch doctors.

Posted by: jk at June 29, 2009 4:22 PM
But Keith thinks:

Perry: I think you've just given us what may be the perfect description of the difference between stupid and evil.

As for your question, I'm with jk, and I'll go with the former: the unsmart are so much easier to live among without being harmed than the ungood.

Posted by: Keith at June 29, 2009 4:56 PM

Don't Tell Blake Carrington!

Colorado ranked worst place for energy industry to do business

Surveys and magazine rankings routinely list parts of Colorado as the best places to live. But one survey says for oil and gas companies Colorado is the worst place in the country to do business.

The survey covered 143 locations worldwide. Colorado ranked last among the states and 81st in the world.

In 2007 Colorado was among the best places for oil and gas.

Some executives say Colorado has fallen out of favor because of new regulations.


Hat-tip: @RockyMtnRight

But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Don't you see what a good idea Obama's cap-and-trade is? The One will make Colorado equal with everywhere else...by bringing down everywhere else to Colorado's level.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at June 27, 2009 2:23 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

On the plus side, the Rockies have won 19 out of their last 22 and are just 7 1/2 games out. Who cares about economics when you have baseball?

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at June 29, 2009 10:55 AM

More Blue Horse Lore

We had a little fun discussing the Blue Demon Public Art Horse at Denver International Airport last February.

A friend of mine has just joined a Facebook Group: I'm Afraid of the big blue horse at DIA.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:40 PM | What do you think? [0]

Science and politics at EPA

JK asked for proof. Here's a start. Anthony Watts has more on the CEI charge that EPA ignored science disproving the absurd notion that carbon dioxide is a pollutant. Watts also has one of the internal EPA email messages and a conversation back and forth between a San Francisco journalist and an anonymous EPA employee. Fascinating.

UPDATE: Investor's Business Daily is now reporting the story above, citing them as sources. This could be a stepping-stone to the MSM next week. Maybe not Diane Sawyer, but there's got to be one journalist and editor out there who are willing to risk administration blacklisting to get props for "breaking" the story.

But jk thinks:

Quod erat Demonstratum, jg. Nice sleuthing.

Posted by: jk at June 27, 2009 11:56 AM
But jk thinks:

And, while we're on the CEI, don't miss The Silence of the Regulated (HT Insty)

Posted by: jk at June 27, 2009 1:10 PM

Emissions scheme passes Australia's House - stalls in Senate

In 2007 Australian PM John Howard became Global Warming's "first major political victim." His successor, Kevin Rudd, pledged to sign the Kyoto Protocol. This year Rudd sought passage of a government mandated emissions reduction plan.

The rise in skepticism also came as Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, elected like Mr. Obama on promises to combat global warming, was attempting his own emissions-reduction scheme. His administration was forced to delay the implementation of the program until at least 2011, just to get the legislation through Australia's House. The Senate was not so easily swayed.

Mr. Fielding, a crucial vote on the bill, was so alarmed by the renewed science debate that he made a fact-finding trip to the U.S., attending the Heartland Institute's annual conference for climate skeptics. He also visited with Joseph Aldy, Mr. Obama's special assistant on energy and the environment, where he challenged the Obama team to address his doubts. They apparently didn't.

This week Mr. Fielding issued a statement: He would not be voting for the bill. He would not risk job losses on "unconvincing green science." The bill is set to founder as the Australian parliament breaks for the winter.

The preceding account by Kim Strassel uses this and many more instances to show that the US is out of step with the international community on climate change.

The number of skeptics, far from shrinking, is swelling. Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe now counts more than 700 scientists who disagree with the U.N. -- 13 times the number who authored the U.N.'s 2007 climate summary for policymakers.

Nancy Pelosi's House clearly didn't care about any of this in today's vote for global economic suicide. It's hard to imagine that the Senate will ignore it too.

But jk thinks:

Awesome post (My Kim Strassel quota was exceeded or I'd've linked). Her editorial is a great compilation of serous grounds for skepticism -- just in case anybody needs an article to forward to a fence-sitting friend or relative or Senator.

Posted by: jk at June 27, 2009 12:00 PM

June 26, 2009

"Balanced" and "sensible" climate change bill passes House

That's the spin thrown on the bill by President Obama yesterday. Surely it was far from either of those qualities at the time, but prior to passage another 300 pages were shoe-horned in ... at 3 am this morning! [What in the hell is the fixation that Washington politicians have with that time of day?] Minority Leader Boehner said the obvious:



And here are a few floor quotes:

Rep. Geoff Davis, a Republican from Kentucky, said the cap-and-trade bill represented the "economic colonization of the heartland" by New York and California.

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) called the bill a scam that would do nothing but satisfy the twisted desires of radical environmentalists.
Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.) called it a massive transfer of wealth from the United States to foreign countries.

Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio countered that, without the bill, the United States would remain energy-dependent on people who want to fly planes into our buildings.

I'd hoped to insert a bulleted list of ways that this bill is a colonoscopy for America but then I realized, Who the hell knows what it does... it jumped from 1200 pages to 1500 overnight!

But it's far from law yet. Next stop: the Senate.

(Note that as the lions share of H.R. 2454 was written by the environmental lobby this post qualifies for the coveted "dirty hippies" category.)

And kudos to JK for naming the 8 RINOs who voted for this treasonous piece of crap. Just four of them switching sides would have spiked it.

But AlexC thinks:

That jagoff Kirk wants to run for Obama's former Senate seat.

Good luck with that.

Posted by: AlexC at June 26, 2009 11:33 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Of the 44 Democrats voting no, one is from Colorado and four are from PA. I'll tell you what - my respect for John Salazar (CO-3) just grew three sizes larger.

Posted by: johngalt at June 27, 2009 10:06 AM
But jk thinks:

Well done, Mister Leader!

I tend to give up before trying on my representation, but Colorado's two freshman Democrat Senators could well feel a little heat on this issue.

To take up an Instapundit riff, having the next Tea Party outside of Senator Udall's or Bennett's office might be a better blow for freedom than a photo-op outside the Capitol.

Posted by: jk at June 27, 2009 11:50 AM
But johngalt thinks:

If Mark Udall might face heat on this issue in 2010 he doesn't seem to feel it at the moment. One of the stories I read yesterday said a few senators were working the halls of congress twisting arms for a yes vote. Mark Udall (D-CO) was the one mentioned by name.

I'm in for a TEA (Taking Energy Away) party at one of Markey's offices. Instead of pitchforks we'll carry empty gas cans. (Shall we try to organize something for next week?)

Posted by: johngalt at June 27, 2009 3:27 PM
But jk thinks:

I'm thinking we'd have better luck with Bennett, but that it would be a good exercise to scare Senator Udall. He is used to catering to CO-2 collectivists and a reminder that Boulder is not the whole state, dude, might be a good lesson.

They're pushing on Twitter for GOP defectors (great Twitter tag #capandtr8tors) to change their vote as you suggest with Markey. Is that realistic? I cannot imagine that the same effort would not be better directed at the Senate, but I am open to discussion.

Posted by: jk at June 27, 2009 6:29 PM
But HB thinks:

Best quote:

“I look forward to spending the next 100 years trying to fix this legislation,” said California Republican Brian Bilbray.

Posted by: HB at June 27, 2009 10:15 PM

Cap'n Trade

I was stuck at the hospital all day (drug trials, I'm fine!) but blog friend SugarChuck reports that some Congressional Republicans put up a good fight today. But, as you've no doubt heard, 219 house members thought that the Federal government should control energy use and only 212 did not.

I have no consoling words, but at least we get a good Quote of the day:

Never have so few stolen so much from so many to achieve so little -- @VodkaPundit

Stephen Green (VodkaPundit) also retweets the GOP defectors: "GOP votes for #capandtrade McHugh(NY) Reichert(WA) Smith(NJ) Lance(NJ) LoBiondo(NJ) Bono Mack(CA) Castle(DE) Kirk(IL)"


Hello, Justice Brandeis?

The WSJ Ed Page has a home run lead editorial today. They point out that the key agenda items of the Obama Administration and the Democratic-led 111th Congress have been tried in the progressive states of New York, California and New Jersey.

They go item by item and show how these have failed in the States that have tried them.

So goes the real-life experience of progressive governance, with heavy tax burdens financing huge welfare states, and state capitals dominated by public-employee unions. Formerly rich states, they are now known for job losses, booming deficits and debt, wage stagnation, out-migration and laughing-stock legislatures. At least Americans have the ability to flee these ill-governed states for places that still welcome wealth creators. The debate in Washington now is whether to spread this antigrowth model across the entire country.

Justice Brandeis famously touted Federalism as providing "laboratories of democracy" in each of the states. I don't think he suspected that we would elevate the failed experiments.

UPDATE: Instapundit links to the same editorial and suggests they should emulate Texas but not Illinois. He missed teh Brandeis reference, maybe I should send him a link. He so enjoys it when I send him a link.


June 25, 2009

Stimulating Refunds

This is awesome.

Senator Specter said that he will not be "voluntarily" returning the five thousand donations made to him when he was a Republican.

So the Club for Growth will be helping out those thousands.

In an advisory opinion request to the Federal Election Commission made public by the agency today, Club for Growth asked for approval for its PAC to mail individual donors of Citizens for Arlen Specter with information on how to request a refund, including a preprinted form letter and envelope addressed to the Senators campaign. The FEC is required to reach a decision within 60 days, and the mailing would follow soon after.

"Senator Specter agreed to return the contributions he received before switching parties, and we want to help him make good on that commitment, Club President Chris Chocola said. Its easy to request a refund with a preprinted letter and envelope, and I expect a lot of people will want their money back.

But jk thinks:

hehehehehe

Posted by: jk at June 25, 2009 8:19 PM
But Keith thinks:

A free enterprise solution to a knotty problem. SALUTE! I hope whoever at Club for Growth thought of this is getting a lot of Attaboys this morning!

Posted by: Keith at June 26, 2009 11:34 AM

Words Fail

Now following @Starbucks on Twitter, of course:

Just tried our new (STARBUCKS) RED coffee coming out 6/30. $1 per lb sold goes to the Global Fund @joinred http://twitpic.com/8e0nn

Red coffee, global fund? Time to switch?

Posted by John Kranz at 2:17 PM | What do you think? [0]

I bet they were always late for rehearsal

35,000 yead old musical instruments found:

The fact that multiple musical instruments turned up in the same area, not far from other artistic artifacts, strengthens the argument that Paleolithic humans developed a relatively rich culture, the researchers say.

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 1:09 PM | What do you think? [1]
But Keith thinks:

And now the bad news: the musical instruments were accordions, and no scientific evidence was unearthed that Cro-Magnon accordionists were able to get gigs in the past, either.

Posted by: Keith at June 26, 2009 4:30 PM

Try Not to Cry

I know ThreeSourcers will be racked with grief to hear then Senator Arlen Specter (Opportunist - PA) is in trouble, but these things happen:

The strong backing of Democratic Party leaders has done little to change slumping public support for the party's newest convert, U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter. Only 28 percent of all those surveyed say that he deserves re-election, according to the latest Keystone Poll, and double that number say it's time for a change.

Specter's party switch, announced April 28, has hurt his job-performance ratings among Democrats as well as Republicans, according to a telephone survey of 498 registered voters, conducted last week by the Center for Opinion Research at Franklin & Marshall College.

Back in March, before the switch, roughly half the voters in each party said that Specter was doing an "excellent" or "good" job in the Senate.


Poor guy.

Hat-tip: @jimgerahty

Pennsylvania Posted by John Kranz at 1:00 PM | What do you think? [1]
But AlexC thinks:

hehehehehe

Posted by: AlexC at June 25, 2009 4:18 PM

Our Administration Will Be About Science!

-- unless, of course, it interferes with our politics!

Scientific findings at odds with the Obama Administrations views on carbon dioxide and climate change are being suppressed as a result of political pressure, officials at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) charge.
"This suppression of valid science for political reasons is beyond belief, said CEI General Counsel Sam Kazman. EPAs conduct is even more outlandish because it flies in the face of the presidents widely-touted claim that the days of science taking a back seat to ideology are over.

This is from the CEI which I consider a reputable group. I have no proof beyond their assertion and do not expect many media outlets to dig too hard on this. But this would be huge if proven true.

Hat-tip: Instapundit

But johngalt thinks:

Let's talk about "if proven true" for a moment: If a tree falls in the forest and Diane Sawyer is not there to hear it, did it even make a noise?

It could be as plain as the nose on either of our faces but if Diane Sawyer says "[There were] more than 50 deaths resulting from mass shootings in the past month alone" then the 208,333 times a gun was used to deter a crime each month may just as well have never happened.

As an aside - My personal favorite version of the old relativism joke I paraphrased above is: "If a man speaks in the forest and there isn't a woman there to hear him is he still wrong?" Perhaps this now needs to be updated to "white man" and "wise latina woman."

Posted by: johngalt at June 25, 2009 12:58 PM
But jk thinks:

I think we would need something more than the partisan but wonderful CEI. If they are able to get teh actual report or if Congress could investigate, it could certainly happen without Diane Sawyer.

I'm just careful not to get too excited too soon.

Posted by: jk at June 25, 2009 1:07 PM

June 24, 2009

This a selling point?`

I do not understand, yet I accept, that phramaceutical firms are considered evil. "Bastards! Curing our diseases -- for money!" But I do not believe that people feel the same about physicians.

Derek Thompson at the Atlantic asks "Do Doctors Deserve to be Paid Less?"

physicianincome.png

It's a fair article but Thompson does not say "No;" I will. I think attracting the best and the brightest to the medical profession and then compensating them well for the stress and difficulty is pretty well accepted.

Yeah, I'll defend Tiger Woods's income and Dick Grasso's retirement package. But I think most Americans are pretty cool with thier doctor making money, and I do not think paying them less will poll well.

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 6:45 PM | What do you think? [0]

Stimulus spending elevator talk

Speaking of wealth, the subject of government stimulus came up in a conversation with my twenty-something sister-in-law:

"Does Keynsian economics say that government spending will stimulate the economy?"

Well, in effect it does because it claims all spending stimulates economic growth and that is music to the ears of a politician who will fall all over himself to outspend his opponents. But how is it supposed to do any good to inject a bunch of worthless paper currency into our economy? They borrow it or print it and then throw it out there but it doesn't actually have any intrinsic value. What has intrinsic value? Resources like agricultural products, mining products, oil and coal and nuclear fuel, or forest products.

"Wow, I've never looked at it that way," says my dear sis-in-law.

And while the government makes a big deal out of "stimulating" the economy with all of this ink-still-drying paper money what have they been doing for the past forty years with all those things that have real intrinsic value? They've been doing everything they can think of to control or outlaw their production and use! In a world like that what use is all of that paper money? Well, I guess paper money does have some intrinsic value. We can put it in our fireplaces and use it to heat our homes.

But johngalt thinks:

And what happens to the value of that Coca Cola trademark when government imposes an arbitrary tax?

Posted by: johngalt at June 24, 2009 7:09 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

To jk:

"Government could tax Peter, buy from Paul and increase aggregate activity."

Actually, no. Remember your Bastiat: this comes at an equal cost to the private sector. So at best, there's never an increase in economic activity from government spending. "At best" assumes there's no disincentive to the private sector to maintain the same level of economic output; there generally is.

To both of you guys:

Paper money or even electronic money can work, but the problem with either is that the central monetary authority can always increase it. The problem isn't what the central bank uses; the problem is the central bank itself. Gold and silver have worked well for thousands of years, but even the Romans screwed that up by issuing coinage as gold alloys rather than pure metal.

Deflation is the only real concern of a commodity-backed currency, but it pales in comparison to the economic wrecks that central banks have given us over the last few centuries.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at June 25, 2009 11:27 AM
But jk thinks:

Bloody Romans!! Where's the Judean People's Front when you need them?

Perry, you attributed a quote of mine to jg that he'd rather not be associated with, so I took the unusual step of correcting it in your comment. I am not prepared to disavow the existence of a Keynesian multiplier. I'll join you and Monsieur Bastiat that it will not add to the aggregate wealth, but it could create activity, "stimulus" to a point.

Deflation "pales in comparison" to inflation? I cannot join you there either. I gladly trade a small (~2%) inflation to avoid deflation any day of the week.

Posted by: jk at June 25, 2009 11:42 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Oh, and on the subject of intrinsic value. Nothing has intrinsic value, not even gold. Something has value only what someone (you or anyone else) places on it. This is a very important point in Austrian economics, known as the diamonds and water paradox, and it explains the absurd notion of the feds buying up "distressed assets" to give them minimum prices.

A grain of sand will have no intrinsic value to desert-dwelling Bedouins, but a bag will have significant value to a New Yorker trying to get some traction on his driveway.

A nugget of gold has great value to us, but to a hunter-gatherer constantly looking for food, its only use might be as a projectile hurled at an animal (giving it the equivalent value of a rock).

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at June 25, 2009 12:18 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

"I am not prepared to disavow the existence of a Keynesian multiplier. I'll join you and Monsieur Bastiat that it will not add to the aggregate wealth, but it could create activity, "stimulus" to a point."

I'll try not to be too disappointed here, but you should always be ready to disavow anything Keynesian. Have you forgotten where the government's money comes from? By definition, there is always an equal loss to the private sector. If I'm taxed $1, like the shopkeeper in Bastiat's parable, that's $1 less I have to spend on other things. Aggregate economic output does not increase. Wealth, of course, does not increase and can even decrease.

The "multiplier" is a mythical construct of Keynesian in their worship of the state. Private spending has its own multiplier also. If you ever looked at what Keynesians argue, the fallacy begins with the term "marginal propensity to consume." It assumes that when you spend an additional dollar, the recipient of that additional dollar will spend, say, 90 cents and save 10 cents (a 90% "marginal propensity to consume"). The recipient of his additional 90 cents will spend 81 cents and save 9 cents, etc. Supposedly, according to Keynesians, government spending is superior because there's no saving at all.

This is not just a fallacy, but pure idiocy, because it focuses purely on consumption. Savings also result in economic growth. People borrow savings to spend, whether it's to start a new business or buy material goods. Hence what Bastiat said, "To save is to spend." So if I earn an additional $1 and spend only 50 cents, a shopkeeper only benefits from half, but my banker can loan out the other 50 cents to someone who will implicitly spend it. The lesson is Keynesians are so focused on increasing consumption that their efforts are like pushing on a string. You "stimulate" an economy by letting it work on its own, without any "stimulus" from government.

"Deflation "pales in comparison" to inflation? I cannot join you there either. I gladly trade a small (~2%) inflation to avoid deflation any day of the week."

Even 2% inflation is 2% too high. You save money one year, and it's worth less the next year. Meanwhile, your spendthrift neighbors borrow and live high on the hog, and they get to repay debts with deflated currency.

You'll never get that inflation anyway. It's impossible for central banks to calculate that, even with Friedman's idea of inflating the money supply according to population growth. You'll inevitably get varying degrees of inflation and the boom/bust cycles that are inevitable with central banking.

Between freedom over my body, mind and property (the latter includes currency) with a risk of deflation, and being a subject of the state with so-called "monetary stability," I choose the risks and dangers of freedom.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at June 25, 2009 12:38 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes, and the more pedestrian way I would state the same conclusion as Perry is this:

"There are zero limits to wealth creation imposed by natural resources." Instead, wealth creation is limited by government.

Posted by: johngalt at June 25, 2009 1:12 PM

Wealth

When I talk about wealth, and the importance of perpetuating growth, eyes glaze over. "All you care about is money" and you're more interested in junior's bond portfolio than happiness. You heartless bastard. And so on. And so forth.

But Greg Beato knows what it's about. He pens a paean to the Sony Walkman on its 30th Anniversary. I'll excerpt the last paragraph, which is comically over the top (on purpose) but it is true. And it speaks to the personal freedom we get from living in a wealthy society.

With a Walkman, every moment could be, if not ideal, then at least more ambient, more aligned with one's particular tastes, more fulfilling. It made us realize we didn't have to just sit on a bus, as dead to the world as a plastic plantor even worse, reading. We could be listening to Billy Joel! And if we could be listening to Billy Joel, couldn't we also be playing videogames, or watching movies, or laboriously tapping out 140-character messages to strangers on keyboards the size of a business card? And if we could do such things while stuck on a bus, or waiting in line at a grocery store, then surely we could do them while stuck in our cubicles at work, or eating lunch with our less interesting friends. Indeed, as soon as the Walkman hit store shelves, the looming promise of our highly mobile, super-empowered, hyper-productive future grew clearer: Never again would we have to endure the tedium of doing one thing at once.


Posted by John Kranz at 1:02 PM | What do you think? [3]
But johngalt thinks:

Hmmm. Living in a wealthy society gives us freedom? That linkage is a little tenuous, wouldn't you say? Choices? Yes. Comfort? Absolutely. But freedom is more tightly coupled with attributes like privacy and objective law than with wealth.

A better example of life in a wealthy society is the ease with which basic subsistence can be earned by (or provided to) each of us. The dark side of this easy life, however, is the growing belief that there IS such thing as a "free lunch."

Posted by: johngalt at June 24, 2009 5:29 PM
But jk thinks:

I'm again reminded of Reason Magazine's 40th Anniversary Issue. They admitted that government (the focus of the Libertarian Party) had grown more intrusive, expensive, and generally worse. But they pointed to many private sector innovations and societal trends (outside their purview) that had improved.

I rolled my eyes at their victory laps, but I can't say that the iPod, what the Walkman became, does not genuinely provide freedom. As you accept privacy as a component of freedom (Justice JG Douglas), technology (a decent proxy for wealth) has facilitated great strides in privacy, from home porn to secured communications.

Posted by: jk at June 24, 2009 5:45 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

The iPod does not provide true "freedom" in the sense of life, liberty and property. It does provide "freedom" from boredom, and its creation is one of many results of freedom.

A better word is "facilitate," because "provide" has too much of an anthropomorpic connotation. Other forms of technology do facilitate freedom, like guns and PGP.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at June 25, 2009 12:43 PM

The Mouse that Roared

Listening to that little chia-head dictator in North Korea threaten to "wipe the US off the globe once and for all" can't help but remind The Refugee of the 1959 comedy "The Mouse that Roared" starring Peter Sellers. In the movie, the backward little country of Duchy of Grand Fenwick, on the brink of economic collapse, determines that the best course of action is to attack the US, lose, and wait for reconstruction. The Refugee won't spoil the plot for all Netflix subscribers, but you get the idea.

Kim Jong Il is rumored to be a real movie buff, so is this the Big Screen coming to life? Maybe, but The Refugee is still more inclined to bet on syphilitic insanity.

North Korea Posted by Boulder Refugee at 11:56 AM | What do you think? [3]
But jk thinks:

Ummm, how many stars?

Posted by: jk at June 24, 2009 1:13 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

In the tradition of Mike Rosen, I will give it four suits of armor out of a possible five. If you see the movie, you'll catch the reference.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at June 24, 2009 2:06 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Um, I think you meant, "all but one Netflix subscribers" br.

Posted by: johngalt at June 24, 2009 2:48 PM

Quote of the Day

Sarah Palin's secret 2012 plan coming together. Huntsman? Gone. Ensign? Gone. Sanford? MIA. And they thought she was dumb? -- @GayPatriot, RT @ jimgeraghty
One of his followees suggests "Sarah will tempt Huck with the biggest chocolate cream pie he's ever seen."
Posted by John Kranz at 11:09 AM | What do you think? [5]
But Keith thinks:

I guess it would have been too obvious if they'd been shot from a helicopter with a high-powered hunting rifle, huh?

Posted by: Keith at June 24, 2009 11:52 AM
But jk thinks:

She's good, Keith. She's good.

Posted by: jk at June 24, 2009 12:00 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"Da da dum, dum, dum ... another one bites the dust."

Too bad. I liked more things about Sanford than Pawlenty.

Posted by: johngalt at June 24, 2009 3:30 PM
But jk thinks:

Perhaps there's still time to cry on 60 minutes. SugarChuck's law states that all is forgiven if you cry on 60 Minutes after a good football game.

Posted by: jk at June 24, 2009 5:10 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Here's some free advice for Governor Sanford to rehabilitate his image. Just explain that the "wise latina woman" he had the affair with told him it was the best conclusion. "I thought it was ill advised but she assured me it was the right thing to do."

Posted by: johngalt at June 25, 2009 1:16 PM

We're From The Government

-- And we're here to help!

Citi has to raise salaries for retention, because of restrictions on bonuses. AP:

NEW YORK -- Citigroup Inc. is increasing base salaries for many of its employees as it restructures its compensation program amid new restrictions on bonus payments.

The increased salaries will offset lower bonuses, according to a person familiar with the matter who requested anonymity because the plans have not been made public. The higher salaries are not the equivalent of annual raises, the person added.

Citi faces restrictions on bonuses as part of a new government compensation oversight plan because the bank received bailout funds from the Treasury Department.


Of course, salaries are paid irrespective of personal or corporate performance, so this will be a drag on Citi's balance sheet and give the firm less flexibility to manage labor -- but at least there will be no embarrassing (to Congress) bonus stories.

Ahh, let's see, what can we fix next? Chairman Barney Frank has a great idea: lower the standards for Fannie and Freddie to underwrite Condo loans. What a brilliant idea. WSJ Ed Page:

Back when the housing mania was taking off, Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank famously said he wanted Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to "roll the dice" in the name of affordable housing. That didn't turn out so well, but Mr. Frank has since only accumulated more power. And now he is returning to the scene of the calamity -- with your money. He and New York Representative Anthony Weiner have sent a letter to the heads of Fannie and Freddie exhorting them to lower lending standards for condo buyers.

You read that right. After two years of telling us how lax lending standards drove up the market and led to loans that should never have been made, Mr. Frank wants Fannie and Freddie to take more risk in condo developments with high percentages of unsold units, high delinquency rates or high concentrations of ownership within the development.- this is the kind of thinking we cant get in the provate sectpor. WSJ Ed Page:


Imagine what these people could to health care -- no, wait, you don't have to! They're already running the VA. Take it away, AP:
WASHINGTON -- The chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee is calling for more centralized control of the VA medical system after recent breakdowns in cleaning colonoscopy equipment exposed thousands of veterans to the risk of contracting HIV and other infections.

In prepared remarks to be delivered at a Wednesday hearing, Democratic Sen. Daniel Akaka of Hawaii said that disparities in quality control procedures at VA medical centers raise questions about whether local or national leaders are in charge.


Don't thank them -- it's all in a day's work for The Government!

But johngalt thinks:

There cannot be a better metaphor for government services to individuals than un-clean colonoscopy equipment.

Posted by: johngalt at June 24, 2009 2:44 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Touche, JG!

You get the coffee-spluttered-on-the-keyboard award for today.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at June 24, 2009 4:27 PM
But Keith thinks:

I salute you and bow to your wisdom, johngalt - that's a more fitting metaphor for the government than my DC train wreck example. You win.

Skipping lunch now...

Posted by: Keith at June 24, 2009 4:57 PM
But jk thinks:

Ahh, close enough for government work...

Remember, GOP, the choice is not between dirty and clean -- the choice is between dirty and virtual.

Posted by: jk at June 24, 2009 5:01 PM

June 23, 2009

Can't Handle Netflix

Ezra Klein, the President's economy-apologist-in-chief at the WaPO, cannot quite handle the complexities of movies by mail:

My Horrible Relationship With Netflix

Matt Yglesias has a quick post on the Netflix movies he rented this weekend. I don't. Because I've had the same three sitting in my drawer for almost two years now. That's literally hundreds of dollars I've donated to Netflix to help subsidize the fees of people who actually use the service. Meanwhile, one of the movies is cracked and I can't find the envelopes for the other two. So I continue my philanthropic donations to the Netflix Fund for the Needy. And every month, I loathe myself just a little bit more.


All pretty handleable at the website, Mister K. I've got my things I put off, too. But you could have fixed this faster than blogging it.

Via @mkhammer who says "Isn't this same relationship @ezraklein wants lots of young, healthy people to have with insurance?"

But Keith thinks:

Dang. Whaddaya think will be next? A car czar who knows nothing about cars? A treasurer who doesn't pay his taxes? An attorney general who doesn't understand the law? A Supreme Court Justice who doesn't feel constrained to pay attention to the law?

Oh, wait. Nevermind.

Posted by: Keith at June 23, 2009 6:27 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

There are insufficient profanities to preface "idiot" when describing this waste of DNA. Just when you thought Ezra Klein was only one of the stupidest people alive, he had to do this in an attempt to lock the top spot.

Keith, you forgot: a CIA head who's just a PR spokesman, not someone actually capable of directing intelligence.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at June 24, 2009 10:48 AM
But Keith thinks:

Perry, I'm from California; hearing ANY reference to Leon Panetta that includes the word "intelligence" is simultaneously laughable and scary.

Can we all agree that the words "Czar" and "Idiot" have become synonyms?

Posted by: Keith at June 24, 2009 11:58 AM

Vox Populi

Scrivrner.net posts:

Ezra Klein says that the latest poll results find that national health care is very popular with the public, so failing to enact it would be "resolutely, aggressively, anti-democratic" -- a denial of our responsibility in a democracy.

Paul Krugman says that the latest poll results find that the public prefers reducing the deficit over increasing government spending. But the voters "don't know much" about policy, "So the moral for Obama is, of course, to ignore this poll" -- anything else would be a denial of our responsibility in a democracy.

Discuss.

But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Heh - great juxtaposition.

Though the original post does not say, I suspect that Klein is refering to a recent NYT poll. As it turns out, that poll showing strong support for a national healthcare system was taken from a sample comprised fo 46% Democrats and 24% Republicans (or thereabouts). There are two ways to monkey with a poll: jimmy the sample or jimmy the question. Of course, you always have the option of ignoring the result in either case, as Krugman suggests, by deeming the sample to be idiots.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at June 23, 2009 3:09 PM
But jk thinks:

Versus 46% idiots?

I didn't just say that, did I?

Posted by: jk at June 23, 2009 3:45 PM
But Terri thinks:

Do you all remember this poll out of the NYtimes saying we all wanted guaranteed health care and would be happy to pay as much as $500 more per year for it.
Sheesh.
Idiots. You're right.
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/02/washington/02poll.html?_r=2&hp&oref=slogin

Posted by: Terri at June 23, 2009 4:11 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Who wouldn't be happy paying $500 per year for healthcare? That's about half of the monthly premium for a family. But then you have to ask yourself, "How much care could any system afford to give me for $500 per year?" Idiots indeed.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at June 23, 2009 4:52 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

My wife and I have a high-deductible plan that costs a hair under $10,000 a year. The bulk is paid for by my employer.

Basically, we pay the first $2300 per calendar year, and above that, 20% up to $2300 per calendar year. It's a good plan for us, just in case something happens. People just don't realize how expensive a fully comprehensive plan is. We have a legally binding agreement that if either of us gets cancer, needs a heart operation, etc., our insurer is going to pay for it.

The plan would be less expensive if, first, we could buy the policy from someone out of state, and second, if insurers started rating policyholders on risk. They can do that now, I think since 2006, but it hasn't caught on. Previously, smokers, non-smokers, people with family histories of heart disease and/or cancer, were lumped into the same category.

But hey, this is the age where Obama will help us pay for our mortgages and put gas in our cars.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at June 25, 2009 12:54 PM

It's not even Thursday...

But the Tuesday guest slot includes another tune from blog-fave, SugarChuck!


banner4.gif


Mon Dieu!

A hard line for Iranian freedom, a hard line on taxes:

Jimmy P: France on the left side of Laffer Curve:

This, from the president of France: I will not increase taxes, he said, because an increase in taxes would delay the end of the crisis and because by increasing taxes, when we are at our level of taxation, we would not reduce deficits we would increase them.


In the minus column, do I remember his letting Carla get away? That's a bad move.

But johngalt thinks:

Alright, I'll make my pledge now:

If Obama is re-elected in 2012 I'm moving to ... FRANCE!

After all, JK's already suggested it.

Posted by: johngalt at June 23, 2009 4:18 PM
But jk thinks:

There's a Starbucks! (Kidding mon amis, coffee in France would not be a problem, with or without the green & white!)

Posted by: jk at June 23, 2009 4:32 PM

See you in the funny papers!

I can't possibly excerpt or link. Don Luskin has discovered, read, scanned, and commented on a circa-2000 comic book put out by the FOMC to describe its structure and operations.

All of it. Now.

But Keith thinks:

Such is the sad state of affairs in our public education system; after teething children on Sesame Street and raising them on a steady diet of MTV, the best we can muster up for students with the attention span of a ferret on crack cocaine is textbooks in the format of comics. I guess textbooks are more palatable when there are lots of pictures.

Maybe the only way to get our message out to the next generation of economists is to have Pixar produce Atlas Shrugged, or find an anime version of The Road to Serfdom.

Wait, what?

Posted by: Keith at June 23, 2009 12:47 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

As an earlier post suggested, we'd have the best results with a 20-something Infobabe spokesperson with big hooties.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at June 23, 2009 4:11 PM
But Keith thinks:

I stand corrected; hooties trump cartoons every time.

...

Great. Now all I can think of is Jessica Rabbit teaching economics and civics.

Posted by: Keith at June 23, 2009 4:28 PM
But jk thinks:

I'm not a strict constructionist, I'm just drawn that way.

Posted by: jk at June 23, 2009 4:38 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Dammit, Keith, you did it again - spluttered coffee all over the keyboard...

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at June 23, 2009 4:46 PM
But Keith thinks:

You're not alone, Refugee - jk did it to me with the "just drawn that way" reference, so I guess my karma just caught up with me.

'Scuze me while I go for paper towels and Windex.

Posted by: Keith at June 23, 2009 6:30 PM

A Time To Choose

History Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 11:37 AM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

Inchoate philisophical looks at PM Thatcher and President Reagan -- just four posts apart. Thank you for shopping at ThreeSources!

Posted by: jk at June 23, 2009 12:47 PM

But They'll Rock at Health Care

I heard this story on the mornig news:

WASHINGTON The subway train that plowed into another, causing a crash that killed seven and injured scores of others in the nations capital, was part of an aging fleet that federal regulators had recommended three years ago be phased out or retrofitted, a safety investigator said Tuesday.

Debbie Hersman of the National Transportation Safety Board said the Metrorail transit system was not able to do what we asked them to do.

The rush-hour crashed sent more than 70 people to area hospitals and killed at least seven people. The three-decades-old Metro system shuttled tourists and local commuters from Washington to Maryland and Virginia suburbs.


I hate to be callous after such a tragedy, but why don't other people immediately -- or shortly -- think what I thought: "There's government for you, wait'll they take over health care!" Every news report is rife with tales of public misfeasance and malfeasance. Yet I'm an outlier for suggesting that maybe government should not take on additional responsibilities.

I don't expect everyone to read to read Hayek, but how can they continue to never put two and two together? Megan McArdle suggests that Obama fixes Medicare first, That's a great idea -- I'd suggest they fix anything first.

UPDATE: John Stossel offers a slightly less macabre example:

It amazes me that on the front page of the Sunday New York Times there is an article that says there is wide-support for government-run healthcare, and yet right adjacent is a giant story on how the veterans administration is botching operations . Dont they draw connections? Government can botch and botch again but the public and the New York Times still see more government as the solution


Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 10:59 AM | What do you think? [3]
But Keith thinks:

Here's my campaign slogan: "Protecting America from the Train Wreck of Government Heath Care."

Hmmm. This really is a great metaphor for the whole of the Federal government, isn't it? Not to appear hard-hearted to the innocent victims here, but there is a delicious irony here.

Posted by: Keith at June 23, 2009 12:53 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

I think you guys are missing something here. There is actually an opportunity for huge cost savings by leveraging existing core competences within government:

Admissions can be handled by the DMV
Medical Imaging by the USGS
Medical Records by the Library of Congress
Surgery by USDA
Preventative care by the National Weather Service
Food services by FEMA
Billing by the IRS
...and the whole thing will be delivered by the Post Office.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at June 23, 2009 7:24 PM
But jk thinks:

Don't forget those great GM ambulances!

Posted by: jk at June 23, 2009 7:43 PM

June 22, 2009

Come to Save the Day!

Gotta have some fun. Jib Jab:


Hat-tip: blog brother AlexC on Facebook.

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 1:20 PM | What do you think? [3]
But Keith thinks:

Gawd. We've just elected the love child of a Mighty Morphing Power Ranger and a Teletubbie.

And who needs a cape when you've got ears like that?

Posted by: Keith at June 23, 2009 1:01 PM
But jk thinks:

Careful, Keith! We may disagree with his policies but I didn't think any of us were earists!

Posted by: jk at June 23, 2009 1:16 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I'm about to throw up.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at June 24, 2009 10:53 AM

Quote of the Day Nominee

The Refugee will not presume to usurp "Quote of the Day" priviledges, but thinks the one below is a worthy nominee. Fouad Ajami, writing in today's WSJ, pens an excellent piece on Obama's naivite and education about Iran.

Days into his presidency, it should be recalled, Mr. Obama had spoken of his desire to restore to America's relation with the Muslim world the respect and mutual interest that had existed 30 or 20 years earlier. It so happened that he was speaking, almost to the day, on the 30th anniversary of the Iranian Revolution -- and that the time span he was referring to, his golden age, covered the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the American standoff with Libya, the fall of Beirut to the forces of terror, and the downing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. Liberal opinion would have howled had this history been offered by George W. Bush, but Barack Obama was granted a waiver.

Worth the read.

Iran Posted by Boulder Refugee at 12:20 PM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

Not only do you have plenipotentiary QOTD privileges, br, I was looking at this one as well.

What interested me today was how closely Ajami's piece paralleled the Editorial Board's. They said the same things and used the same examples. They're both right.

Nomination seconded.

Posted by: jk at June 22, 2009 1:25 PM

Translation

The White is now admitting that many of the President's promises in his speech to the AMA on health care will not be possible. Jim Lindgren at Volkh has the details and this handy translation:

In other words, if you believed something closer to the opposite of what Obama promised, that would be closer to the truth. When Obama said he will keep this promise:

If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period.

he actually meant:

If you like your doctor, many of you will NOT be able to keep your doctor. Period.

And when Obama said he will keep this promise:

If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what.

Obama really meant:

If you like your health care plan, many perhaps most of you will NOT be able to keep your health care plan. Period. Someone perhaps your employer may take it away. It all depends on how things work out.

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 11:43 AM | What do you think? [0]

June 21, 2009

Madame Prime Minister

Hat-tip: Legal Insurrection

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 10:58 PM | What do you think? [0]

jk defends wasteful government spending

About as fulsomely as I defended David Letterman, I'll give an eye-roll to an amusing example of your government's squandering almost half a million dollars. A good friend of this blog sends a link:

NIH Funds $423,500 Study of Why Men Dont Like to Use Condoms
In what government watchdogs are calling a waste of taxpayer money, the National Institutes of Health is spending nearly half a million dollars to determine why men dont like to wear condoms during sex.

Thats only the start. You can be certain that once the researchers find out that men dont like condoms because a. they have to first think ahead and buy them b. actually put them on, and c. condoms dont feel the same as bare skin, which any conversation with any guy at the local bar could have told you, then well have to fund the billion-$ project to change behavior so everybody will be using condoms, whether they want to or not.


We'll not ask President Madison to lay any fingers on this post. Of course it is unconstitutional and of course I would get them to stop if I could.

But in the bigger picture of freedom's demise, this concerns me a lot less than expenses or regulation that destroy liberty. This represents a bit of research that should be done by the private(s) sector if it is done at all. But, beyond the theft of $423,500 it strikes me as a small threat.

We're socializing medicine and putting the Fed in charge of credit card interest and home mortgage options. The EPA will dictate energy usage, the FDA now controls the composition of cigarettes and seethes that it cannot design the Cheerios® box. If they want to waste a half million on this, or cow flatulence, or whatever the outrage du jour -- I'm happy to see them staying out of bigger trouble.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 1:25 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

The very definition of faint praise...

Posted by: johngalt at June 22, 2009 10:08 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Unfortunately this is not the extent of their statism. This isn't even the tip of the iceberg: it's a flake chipping off.

My state's legislature has supposedly been doing nothing for two weeks, but the government spending still continues at breakneck speed.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at June 22, 2009 4:06 PM

June 20, 2009

Can We Revisit "Unconditional Talks?"

Hat-tip: Gateway Oundit

UPDATE: For that matter, can we revisit "The Axis of Evil?"

Iran Posted by John Kranz at 1:54 PM | What do you think? [2]
But AlexC thinks:

Be sure to read John Hinderaker's post on why Obama is awol.

http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2009/06/023849.php

Damned shame. I got into a heated discussion with the resident liberals at work over it.

What started it was "they're protesting because they saw the hope & change that Obama brought to our country."

Got my blood boiling.

Posted by: AlexC at June 20, 2009 2:01 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I'm coming to believe that Obama is not actually AWOL on the Iranian uprising. This is quite a turnaround for me since posting that Obama may actually want Ahmadinejad to remain in power as a fellow member of the Hugo Chavez Fan Club.

As I learn more about the state of Iranian politics in recent years it seems most likely that Mousavi and Rafsanjani, original members of the Islamic Revolution 30 years ago, are part of a widespread effort to change Iran's course away from a suicidal confrontation with Israel. It also seems plausible that the CIA may be aiding their effort. While I give Obama zero credit for initiating it I can quite easily believe he would support and continue a clandestine effort in Iran that was launched sometime during the prior administration.

Gunny Bob Newman opined on FNC this afternoon that he doesn't have any knowledge but he hopes that the CIA is active in Iran and if so that the President is playing it exactly right. Don't be too outspoken or else you'll give the government hardliners cover for even more forceful repression, and don't be silent and give the impression you are up to something.
If the CIA is pulling strings then they're also advising the President what actions to take publicly. This would explain to me how he seems to know what he's doing, since I have no confidence he actually does.

Personally I don't think it makes a great difference how much Obama says, the rebellion seems to have reached a self-sustaining stage and will run its course regardless. Newman thinks there's a 1 in 5 chance of regime change. From all I've observed I'd have thought it was better than that, but even 1 in 5 is darned good. Krauthammer has it right - The fall of the Islamic Republic "would do to Islamism what the collapse of the Soviet Union did to communism - leave it forever spent and discredited." Such outcomes aren't easy to come by.

And to those who say Iranians are protesting in the streets against their government because they covet the "hope and change" supposedly brought to us by Obama I would counter, "No, what they actually see is the prospect of Israeli mushroom clouds outside their windows if they continue on their present course." For all but devoted aspirants to martyrdom that's enough to prompt a movement for REAL change.

Posted by: johngalt at June 20, 2009 6:51 PM

Good Graduation Speech

Hearty congratulations to all the newly minted graduates running around.

Blog friend TGreer did not deliver the commencement address at his school but has written one for a column he does in his local paper. I enjoyed it and asked his permission to link, implicitly outing him (which I had clumsily done once before).

He graciously acquiesced but wants us all to know that he is really much better looking than the picture used by the Post Bulletin.

"If you are dressed in blue before me tonight, it means that you have been taught by two dozen teachers, you have sat through several hundred lectures, and have read more than 10,000 pages worth of school material. You've been forced to endure exposure to subjects you hate and take classes of no seeming practical utility.

"You have paid a small fortune for lunches, club fees, parking passes and field trips. You have spent days on the hard seats of cold buses or stuck in the school parking lot watching sophomore-driven SUVS fight to squeeze out of the exit all at the same time. You have walked, ran and shuffled the length of Century High School more times than can be counted, with books, backpacks and the occasional late pass in hand. Heck, there is a rumor going around that a few of you may have even been suspended.

"Now that this life is over, I must ask: Was it worth it?


That's a taste but you must read the whole thing.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:39 PM | What do you think? [0]

None Dare Call it Fascism

I don't know what I dare to call it, but my jaw dropped at the AP headline: Obama puts critics of financial overhaul on notice Wow. We bringing back the Alien and Sedition Acts?

To be fair, the story did not quite support the bellicosity of the headline writer. But the President did say "While I'm not spoiling for a fight, I'm ready for one." Well, Mister President, it appears we have a lot to fight about:

The Consumer Financial Protection Agency would take over oversight of mortgages, requiring that lenders give customers the option of "plain vanilla" plans with clear and affordable terms.

"It will have the power to set tough new rules so that companies compete by offering innovative products that consumers actually want and actually understand," Obama said. "Those ridiculous contracts pages of fine print that no one can figure out will be a thing of the past. You'll be able to compare products, with descriptions in plain language, to see what is best for you."


The government knows which loans are good for you: vanilla loans that you can understand. I'm in a pretty "vanilla" loan at this time, but over the years I made great use of an Interest Only mortgage while I was patching things together from a failed startup. And although I have avoided them, some people have reasons to go with adjustable rates. But no, we can't have AM and FM, some people will be confused.

You already spend a half hour at a closing signing 30 things that some legislator insisted that something be explained to you. President Madison, can you "lay your finger" on the part of the Constitution that allows the President to define what loan vehicles will and will not be offered?

But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

My oldest friend and his wife took out an ARM in 2001. After interest rates plummeted, it was no longer worth it to save for a down payment.

They put 40% down, and every month threw in as much as they could (far beyond the minimum). When their payments were recalculated annually, even when interest rates had gone up, their minimum payments had gone down. Now the house has been paid off. That's right, it's already theirs.

They're such predatory borrowers! Don't you feel sorry for the bank that didn't make as much money as they expected?

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at June 21, 2009 8:37 AM
But jk thinks:

Obviously, Perry, your friends don't understand these complex fiduciary instruments and need to have the government dictate what is available.

Reading it again, I got even madder:

"[Government] will have the power to set tough new rules so that companies compete by offering innovative products that consumers actually want and actually understand," Obama said.

When you want innovation and customer satisfaction, you can't beat the Federal Government! Why look at, um...

Posted by: jk at June 21, 2009 12:40 PM

June 19, 2009

StoptheEPA.com

Do you need more than the url? The Heritage Foundation has set up a website that allows you to send comments to the EPA.

Also don't miss their blog post on Crony-enviro-capitalism.

But don't worry, says Obama EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. She told the New York Times earlier this year, "We are poised to be specific on what we regulate and on what schedule." In other words, just as the Obama Treasury Department played political favorites when bailing out General Motors and Chrysler, rewarding big labor allies while punishing average investors and secured creditors, the Obama EPA is poised to play the exact same games while enforcing the Clean Air Act.


June 18, 2009

The Arlington Rap

C/O Galley Slaves. If you make it halfway, be sure to stay for the ending.

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 2:21 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

You mean the 'Daz Bog' part, right?

Posted by: johngalt at June 18, 2009 7:12 PM
But jk thinks:

Singin' this all day: "Arlington! Arlington!"

Posted by: jk at June 19, 2009 1:55 PM

But I'm Not Done Yet...

A post by JK two days ago regarding the current events in Iran spawned a spirited debate and some excellent comments. The events are so important, however, that The Refugee decided to enter this post to bring the central issue to the fore. Bottom line, an internal Iranian regime change would be the most transformative global event since the fall of the Berlin wall. Without a bellicose Iran and its funding, the Syrian, Hezbollah, Hamas and maybe even al-Qaida dominos would fall. This is a seminal event, and as others have pointed out, Obama is voting "Present." This is neither hope, nor change nor leadership.

Blog Brother TG, rightly, critisized The Refugee's supporting data as anecdotal (positions from two Iranian ex-pats). This is true, though in defense The Refugee will take the opinions of two Iranians whose families still live there over a country full of pundits who apply analysis-by-projection to the situation. The core argument is whether or not the Iranian people want regime change or are satisified with the current theocracy.

Writing in today's WSJ, Afshin Ellian, another Iranian expat and European professor, has this to say:

This week's protests prove that the people of Iran -- the children of the revolution -- will accept the rule of the mullahs no more. The regime is no longer able to exercise sovereignty over the Iranian people without resorting to extreme violence.

Iran is now at a crossroads. Either the will of the people will be accepted and a peaceful transition to democracy will take place, or the regime will respond to these massive demonstrations by unleashing a bloodbath.

The essential question: Can a regime, despised by a huge majority of the population, transform itself into a democracy that recognizes the rule of law? Has such a transition ever taken place without bloodshed?

The Refugee will assert that the majority of Iranians do want a change and that this is an opportunity to save millions of lives and billions of dollars. The alternative is almost inevitable war with a nuclear Iran. Barack Obama needs to seize this opportunity. He has yet to make the transition from Candidate Obama to President Obama. Now is the time.

Iran Posted by Boulder Refugee at 12:19 PM | What do you think? [6]
But Keith thinks:

"Now is the time." And I doubt his ability to take advantage of this golden opportunity. He was so counting on the opportunity to sit down and talk with Ahmedinejad without preconditions, too.

It just won't be the same if A-jad is no longer a head of state when that conversation takes place.

Why do I have this notion that when it happens, A-jad will be living the good life in Bermuda, sipping mojitos on our dime?

Posted by: Keith at June 18, 2009 1:09 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Keith: I would take that trade!

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

As would I - but I'm of a mind to think the Prezznit wants A-jad in power because he promised the world he'd sit down with A-jad. This "robust debate" going on in Iran just muddies up his appointment caldendar.

Posted by: Keith at June 18, 2009 4:17 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Worse than that, Keith. An A-jad status quo gives Obama plausible deniability when no progress is made. "Don't blame me - everyone knows the guy's a nut." The current developments require that Obama actually do something and the very real possiblity of mucking it up without even George W. Bush to blame.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at June 19, 2009 6:35 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

@BR-

I would be careful with predicting regime change.

Remember, Mousavi's proposed "reforms" are not revolutionary; he is part of the old guard. He (and most of the people who voted for him) were not attempting a socio-political revolution on par with that in Berlin 1989. Rather, he wanted to push change from within the existing system.

So yes, should we be standing behind Iranian anger with political fraud and oppressive tactics?

YES - it is not even a question.

But - and this is a large but - please do not expect a new '89. I fear that you will only be disappointed with unrealistically high expectations.

P.S. If the regime turns stupid and tries to shut down all of this, matters may change. As it stands now though, I remain reluctant to proclaim this a revolution at all.

Posted by: T. Greer at June 19, 2009 11:37 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

TG: Not predicting regime change, and would not categorize Mousavi as regime change. That would require the end of the Revolutary Council, in my book. I am hoping for such a change, regardless of the odds. No one forcast the end of the USSR until it happened.

Based on all I've been reading, many, if not a majority (no one knows for sure) of Iranians want a significant change. I would even settle for benign theocracy and suspect most Iranians would as well.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at June 20, 2009 12:17 AM

Now Here's a Guy We Should Destroy

We've had a good run at the Letterman contrtemps and I think everybody knows where everybody stands.

Blog friend SugarChuck has this great riff he does and I hope he won't mind my paraphrasing. When somebody is discredited, sc says "Oh, he|she will go cry on Oprah and be back in a year." It is a little cynical but damned if it is not a universal law. (It applies only to the left-of-center, don't look for a reemergence of Senator Trent Lott or Senator Ensign.)

But I will bet the price of my depreciating condominium that we'll see both Senator John Edwards and Gov. Eliot Spitzer back. The corpses will still be warm. Mickey Kaus is doing his best to stop an Edwards rapprochement, but I fear he'll fail:

ohn Edwards thinks he can come back. And somehow in theoretically humble disgrace comes off as smugger and phonier than ever! (Sample: "The two things I'm on the planet for now are to take care of the people I love and to take care of people who cannot take care of themselves.") ...
[...]
MacGillis also buries a solid lede: The last web page of her piece features an impressive, reported survey of broken Edwards promises to various actual impoverished Americans--scholarship programs cancelled, Katrina foreclosure cases unaided--complete with victim quotes. ("I just thought he was trying to cover his tracks while he was a candidate. ... It was probably all for show in the end." ).

We have not seen the rest of this vile man.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 10:24 AM | What do you think? [4]
But sugarchuck thinks:

Actually, you need to cry on Sixty Minutes, preferably in the Fall, after a great football game. Had Pete Rose done this he would be throwing out the first pitch on opening day for the rest of his life.

Posted by: sugarchuck at June 18, 2009 11:03 AM
But jk thinks:

Heh. I stand corrected -- 60 Minutes it is!

BTW, sc was in town for some guest appearances at the Virtual Coffeehouse. I have one posted on the Tuesday guest slot and there are more on the way.

Posted by: jk at June 18, 2009 11:16 AM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Great cut, JK! But somehow, I don't think that was coffee in Brooke's hand - unless they're serving it in brown bottles these days.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at June 18, 2009 2:27 PM
But jk thinks:

Just as long as I can keep her off the heroin, br...

Posted by: jk at June 18, 2009 3:32 PM

June 17, 2009


Grow a Sense of Humor

In my stirring defense of David Letterman, I must confess that a large part of my problem with Conservative "outrage" was this: Lonewolf Diaries: Republicans Need to Grow a Sense of Humor

Never has the GOPs lack of funnybone been on sharper display than the last 5 months. For a party that claims to shun political correctness, weve certainly done a good job of embracing it. Over the past 150 days there have been three media-worthy politically incorrect moments related to this administration and Republicans have managed to jump on each one of them for political gain. All to no avail.

Author Steve Crowder then enumerates the "Special Olympics" joke, Wanda Sykes's comedy routine and the Letterman contretemps.

Posted by John Kranz at 2:22 PM | What do you think? [7]
But johngalt thinks:

Yes. And didn't both GWB and candidate McCain learn that trying to "rise above" such "petty attacks" ultimately leads to failure? I agree with BR and will add that I think Palin played it perfectly: State your disapproval objectively and dispassionately, demand a retraction and when it comes, accept it.

The "fire Letterman" protest crowd and numerous other opportunistic gasbags are, however, guilty as charged above.

Posted by: johngalt at June 17, 2009 5:33 PM
But jk thinks:

Might be a big Kumbay-threesources-ya moment here.

My target is the "fire-Letterman" crowd, jg, that's a perfect depiction. I have no trouble with Governor Palin pushing back or any responsible commentator crying foul.

The relentless expectation that you're going to take one of the three points Crowder discusses and take a political scalp is ludicrous.

Posted by: jk at June 17, 2009 6:17 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

C'mon, everyone - group hug...

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at June 17, 2009 6:25 PM
But Keith thinks:

I haven't watched Letterman since before he stopped being funny, so firing him or boycotting him really wouldn't make a lot of sense for me anyway. Besides, jk, given his hair loss, that scalp you mention wouldn't make much of a trophy.

I say, "rise above" the petty attacks not by ignoring them, but by outclassing them, exactly like Palin did. I think that's the consensus. Count me in on the group hug - though I did harbor a perverse temptation to post a comment in this space with THE TOP TEN REASONS WHY DAVID LETTERMAN DOESN'T MEASURE UP TO SARAH PALIN'S SHOETOPS.

I kid, I kid...

Posted by: Keith at June 17, 2009 6:51 PM
But jk thinks:

Oh, now the moment is ruined...

Posted by: jk at June 17, 2009 7:52 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

My point all along is that Letterman was within his rights to make the joke, but it proves he's a gentleman. The left's reaction further proves they're hypocrites.

Imagine that Malia Obama were several years older, and Rush Limbaugh made a joke about A-Rod knocking up an Obama daughter at a game, except that it was Sasha who went to it.

Imagine that McCain made the same special Olympics joke.

Imagine that Dennis Miller made the same "I hope his kidneys fail" joke about Letterman.

You would never cease hearing "outrage" from the left for years.

If Stephen Colbert had done that as part of his faux-conservative act, liberals would say, "Yeah, that's exactly what conservatives wish they could say!"

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at June 17, 2009 11:50 PM

Image of the Day

iran_v.jpg

Hat-tip: Instapundit

Iran Posted by John Kranz at 1:08 PM | What do you think? [0]

High Fives from Hugo

President Obama appears to be giving short shrift to Iran's newly resurgent pro-freedom and anti-theocracy uprising. Many of this blog's luminaries are debating the wisdom, or lack thereof, of that strategy. One question that is missing, however, is whether Obama actually prefers that Ahmadinejad stay in office. I don't have the answer but I'll offer two observations for readers to ponder.

13 June 2009 - Chavez congratulates Ahmadinejad

In a telephone conversation with the Iranian president, Chavez said, "The victory of Dr. Ahmadinejad in the recent election is a win for all people in the world and free nations against global arrogance," Iran's Presidential Office reported.

5 November 2008 - Chavez congratulates Obama, suggests rebuilding relations

Caracas - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez congratulated US president-elect Barack Obama Wednesday on his "historic" win and said the time had come for the two countries to establish new relations.

UPDATE: Reformatted 6/18 in an attempt to sharpen the point. (The openly socialist Chavez cheered the "against global arrogance" victory of Ahmadinejad and the "time to establish new relations" victory of Obama.) They are all, at least in Chavez' eyes, birds of a feather.


Review Corner

I'm going to reach back to the long ago and far away year of 2001. If you need a rental and maybe missed this like I did, you are in for a treat.

Blow Dry, with Alan Rickman and Natasha Richardson comes from that British indie comedy community that brought Full Monty (they call this "Full Monty with Hair") and my favorite, "Kinky Boots." Like Kinky Boots it concerns the inflow of London culture into a small rural town. This time, Keighley, as it is selected to host the annual British Hairdressing Championship.

It is laugh out loud funny but punctuated with some very poignant serious moments. It is available on the Netflix Instant Queue. Five Stars.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 10:37 AM | What do you think? [0]

June 16, 2009

I Gotta Be Me

Small point of order. I have changed my profile to sign my posts with my real name. I have been thinking I wanted to do this for a while and with a lot of talk about anonymous blogging, now seems the time.

I appreciate anonymous blogging and my brothers can do what they choose. I am the owner of this domain and publish my real in my bio -- so I had no real protection or plausible deniability.

In the end, I must do what the hot redhead says.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:50 PM | What do you think? [3]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

I thought you're real name was JK...

The Refugee loves his nom deBlog and will stick with it. However, you are welcome to post his real name in the bio section.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at June 16, 2009 3:06 PM
But johngalt thinks:

This is fine. Just don't, ever, tell us you're a hot chick. (You're arguments are persuasive enough.)

Posted by: johngalt at June 16, 2009 3:39 PM
But jk thinks:

Well, I'm certainly not a chick...

BR: I'm not outing anybody. It used to be required to write a bio post (standards around here have slipped o'er the years) and I will link to it on the front page. You may choose to out yourself or not. My decision is for me. An interesting side effect is that I rebuilt the archives -- over 5000 pages -- and I expect that will help me pass most of those imposters in the Google® rankings.

Posted by: jk at June 16, 2009 5:54 PM

Quote of the Day

It's the Rule 5 Christina Hendricks Principle: Any argument is more persuasive when made by a hot chick. Just think if Friedrich Hayek had been a sexy dame with big gazongas . . ." -- Stacy McCain
Talk about yer Libertarian Fantasies...
Posted by John Kranz at 1:32 PM | What do you think? [2]
But Christian Prophet thinks:

For sure! And also if voiced by any spiritually advanced person who exudes love and respect. See: http://spirituallibertarian.blogspot.com/

Posted by: Christian Prophet at June 16, 2009 3:25 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I was actually thinking of the one about Corzine, or Schumer getting run over by an Acela...

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at June 16, 2009 3:34 PM

If You Have To Ask...

Bret Stephens in the WSJ:

On the one hand we have democratically elected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, reputed hardliner, who on Sunday abandoned his own long-held position and, to the immense disappointment of much of his political base, spoke of his willingness to accept a Palestinian state -- provided only that the Palestinians forswear military pursuits, resettle Palestinian refugees in their own territory, and recognize Israel as a Jewish state, just as the U.N. did at the country's founding.

On the other hand there's Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Holocaust-denier and nuclear aspirant, who on Friday was declared the winner of an election so transparently rigged that the only serious question is whether the regime even bothered to stuff the ballot boxes. Since then, scores of reformist politicians have been arrested or intimidated, rallies have been banned, and the possibility of an Iranian Tiananmen hangs in the air.

Question: Toward which of these two leaders does President Obama intend to play the heavy?


I guess we all know the answer. The whole Stephens piece is great.
Someday a future president may have to apologize to Iranians for Mr. Obama's nonfeasance, just as Mr. Obama apologized for the Eisenhower administration's meddling. But the better Eisenhower parallel is with Hungary in 1956. Then as now a popular uprising coalesced around a figure (Imre Nagy in Hungary; Mir Hossein Mousavi in Iran), who had once been a creature of the system. Then as now it was buoyed by inspiring American rhetoric about freedom and democracy coming over Voice of America airwaves.

Iran Posted by John Kranz at 11:24 AM | What do you think? [13]
But jk thinks:

I cannot say I like discussing the "target audience." I made sport of poll-testing responses and here we are -- "how is freedom playing this week in the 18-25 male demo?"

If you require a target audience for speaking up for freedom, I will offer:

1) The protesters in the street who are choosing to actually put their lives on the line for a chance at self-government. This is not a metaphoric hollywood-makes-the-3,856th-movie-about-McCarthyism courage, this is real, Gandhi and Selma courage. It deserves affirmation and approbation.

2) All the other tin-pot dictators around the world who believe they can host a phony election and then club to death any citizens who complain.

3) The heirs of Sharansky and Solzhenitsyn who rot in jail cells in Cuba, Burma, Venezuela and yearn to feel "the power of the solidarity of the free world."

When this blog was started, Freedom was on the march. We watched the Orange Revolution, the Cedar Revolution, purple-inked fingers of voters in Iraqw and Afghanistan. We had "Whiskey, Democracy, Sexy" and protest babes and one could almost tyranny was dying out. A bit naive, but compared to a US President who just sits and waits for things to die down before he meets with Ahmadinejad, I find myself missing 2005.

Posted by: jk at June 16, 2009 9:46 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

Whew. I have a lot to respond to (and not much time), so forgive me if I sound more terse than usual.

I do not have any friends from Iran. I do however have a friendly acquaintance with an exchange student from Venezuela, who I have talked politics with a couple of times. She informs me that everybody she knows hates Chavez, and that he has very little popular support.

These claims, be they about Venezuela, China, or Iran, remind me of Arthur Miller’s lament in 2004, “‘How can the polls be neck and neck when I don’t know one Bush supporter?’

They are cases of anecdotal evidence, and when extrapolated to a nation as a whole rarely hold true. In the VZ case, both the recent (popularly decided) Venezuelan constitutional revisions and public opinion poll results lead to the conclusion that there are plenty of Venezuelans who love Chavez.

While I may be overstepping my authority, I think a similar dynamic can be seen in Iran. George Friedman stated much of my thoughts on the 15th:

” Americans and Europeans have been misreading Iran for 30 years. Even after the shah fell, the myth has survived that a mass movement of people exists demanding liberalization — a movement that if encouraged by the West eventually would form a majority and rule the country. We call this outlook “iPod liberalism,” the idea that anyone who listens to rock ‘n’ roll on an iPod, writes blogs and knows what it means to Twitter must be an enthusiastic supporter of Western liberalism. Even more significantly, this outlook fails to recognize that iPod owners represent a small minority in Iran — a country that is poor, pious and content on the whole with the revolution forged 30 years ago.

There are undoubtedly people who want to liberalize the Iranian regime. They are to be found among the professional classes in Tehran, as well as among students. Many speak English, making them accessible to the touring journalists, diplomats and intelligence people who pass through. They are the ones who can speak to Westerners, and they are the ones willing to speak to Westerners. And these people give Westerners a wildly distorted view of Iran. They can create the impression that a fantastic liberalization is at hand — but not when you realize that iPod-owning Anglophones are not exactly the majority in Iran.

He exaggerates the point a bit, but he is right. The majority of Iranians – the rural base that supports Ahmadinejad – are fine with the regime. That most statisticians who have crunched the numbers think Ahmadinejad won the election despite Khomeni’s fudging of the totals is a testament to this. That these great protests and riots are only happening in a few of Iran’s larger cities is a testament to this. There is no reason to believe that the silent majority is ready to jump into the streets and overthrow the government.

[As an aside, before I move onto other points: BR is correct with his Am. Revolution proportions. However, matters are quite a bit more complex than this- I am reminded of Joseph Ellis’ wonderful book, American Creation and his chapter on the winter GW and co. spent in Valley Forge. Ellis remarks how strange it was for American troops to be starving in what was then the most agriculturally productive area in the colonies, and further outlines how Washington was able to turn the tactical and logistical nightmares of working in the region to his benefit. Ellis notes that the key to Washington’s success was wooing over and providing security for the farmers and merchants who lived in the region, the undecided folk who called themselves neither Loyalist nor Patriot. Without gaming their support, GW’s campaign would have dissolved. The undecided’s can decide a lot.]

Thus we are left back where we started. What can the West do to help the anti-regime movement grow?
I remained unconvinced that an American statement of unequivocal support for the protestors would do any good.

To be sure, most Iranians are not anti-American. But then again, most people in the Middle East are not. I am reminded of Michael Totten’s piece for Commentary magazine, where he questions a HuffPo writer’s assertion that Syria is not “a hotbed of anti-Americanism” because of the Syrian people’s personal warmth towards herself and other American tourists. No, one can feel fine towards Americans and still view America as a bullying, self-interested, imperializing power.

That the Iranian government has already started to blame America for “meddling” reinforces this point. The best the Iranians have is “The Swiss say the Americans say”, but they are running with it anyway. That is the thing I think a few of you around here seem to miss. Third world leaders do not blame problems on America because they cannot think of a better excuse- they blame problems on America because it works. The narrative of the evil America is a potent and credible one. How much more potent and credible would it be if Obama had undeniably been interjecting America into an Iranian crisis?

Jk, there is always a target audience. Reagan always knew who is target audience was and how his words would be interpreted by them- it is why he is called the Great Communicator. This is not useless PR spin. Grandiose speeches are fine and all, but if they hurt the cause of liberty more than they help it, then they are not worth it.

I have already outlined the some of the bad affects of such statements. You have proposed some good ones. Here are the problems I have with accepting your case:

1. Nothing Obama could say would be credible. You talk about tin pot dictators- do we include Egypt and Saudi in this group as well? We have clashed on this issue before, and I hate to drag you into it again, but it matters. America cannot be seen as anything but a meddling bully when she pulls a fit over the Grand Council’s harsh tactics but does not condemn those of Mubarak, or when she supports the election of Musuavi but will not do the same for Hamas. To those in the Middle East –those tin pot dictators and those on the Arab/Persian street – American statements of moral absolutes ring hollow; “speaking up for freedom” is seen as speaking up for American interests. And you know, I can’t blame them! We are awful selective in our support for freedom. Why should they think that we are standing up for freedom, instead of trying to destabilize a regional annoyance? What statement could Obama give to dispel this illusion?

Posted by: T. Greer at June 17, 2009 3:10 PM
But jk thinks:

I agree. President Obama could not make a believable convincing case for freedom because he neither believes in it nor has convinced himself.

I'll add another argument to your side. President Obama could do a lot of damage by making a forceful speech from which the dissidents infer a greater level of support than exists. Then you have a "GHWB-Shia uprising style" scenario that is bound to end badly.

But I wish, tg, that the White House were occupied by somebody who believes in the power of freedom. A Ronald Reagan or a (boo, hiss!) George W Bush would have naturally played this as an opportunity, which I think it is. See if Persia can find her Washington (though not that guy from 300).

My Yahoo/AP headlines said it all the other day:

-- Thousands protest Iranian elections, 15 slain
-- President Goes to Capitol Hill to push Healthcare plan.

AP later backed off the 15 figure, but the juxtaposition spoke volumes. No, I won't coach the President on what to say. I just regret we have a President who "took the 3:00 AM phone call and voted 'Present.'"

I continue to reject your poll references. If a thousand Iranian dissidents seek freedom from tyranny, I will proudly if metaphorically stand at their side. And I wish the President felt the same.

Posted by: jk at June 17, 2009 4:11 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

Over at Shadow Government, Christian Brose wrote up a nice post as to what Obama should be doing for Iran.

Just so you folks don't get think I believe we should be doing nothing.

Posted by: T. Greer at June 18, 2009 11:49 AM
But jk thinks:

TG, I know you are anxious to get on with your life and I hesitate to drag this out further. But I will, of course.

What did you think I asked for that was beyond what Brose asks for? I wanted something beyond "will you kids knock it off! Daddy's got a Health Care Overhaul to finish!"

Had the President done half of what Brose suggests, I would be pleased:

I am whole-heartedly in favor of America playing the supporting role. I'm all for doing things like getting Twitter to keep its website up and available to Iranian users. But let's not mistake passivity for support.

Let's demand that foreign journalists in Iran be free to report on events, not confined to their bureaus or have their press credentials revoked. Let's put some of our new cyber-warfare capabilities to the test, quietly and covertly of course, to disrupt Tehran's ability to shut off the flow of information to Iranians and between them. Let's start trying to rally and unify the community of nations -- the democratic ones, if nothing else -- to start speaking with one voice: to condemn the violence against peaceful Iranians, to call on Iran's government to address allegations of voter fraud, and to state that supportive nations will continue to support Iran's dissidents in this internal Iranian matter as long as they feel that justice has not been done. Let's start defining some broad international expectations for Iran's government -- how it should and should not treat its people. The only person in the world who can orchestrate this kind of diplomatic effort to build international consensus in support of Iran's dissidents is the President of the United States, and it's high time that he start.

I objected because the President did nothing. If Brose's suggestions have your support than we have no argument after all. Another ThreeSources Kumbaya Moment...

Posted by: jk at June 18, 2009 12:17 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

JK-

Perhaps this is where the difference between what has been advocate here (see Reagan quote) and what Brose is advocating can be found in his opening sentence:

Obama is correctly not saying anything that the Iranian regime could use to discredit the opposition. And his expressions of support for Iran's sovereignty, respect for its people, and resolve that it is Iranians, not America and not anyone else, who should determine the outcome of Iran's election are absolutely right. We can't say all of this enough, as I suggested yesterday.

It is a fine line, I will admit. I think the difference between us might just be how willing we are to draw close to it. I am sure you would say that if you err, you would rather err in favor of liberty. While I would agree to this sentiment in most all other cases, I tend to think that here, erring on the side of liberty and Iranian backlash is one and the same.

Posted by: T. Greer at June 19, 2009 11:25 PM

June 15, 2009

A Pay Czar

Gary Becker is ag'in' it:

The same fatal conceit behind the setting up of a pay Czar is also responsible for the belief that members of Congress and Washington officials are capable of steering GM and Chrysler toward profitable directions. This is behind the government pressure on these companies to shift toward small fuel-efficient cars, even though GM and Chrysler have been best at producing trucks and larger cars. Perhaps they will be able to make this shift, but it is far more likely that Honda, Kia, Toyota, and other foreign auto manufacturers that have been making small cars for decades will eat their lunch.

Hat-tip: Everyday Economist

But Boulder Refugee thinks:

No way. The gubmint will stack the deck with rebates and other taxpayer-subsidized incentives to make Honda, Kia and Toyota uncompetitive. Then they'll claim "success" in turning GM around. Never doubt the cunning cynacism of a politician.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at June 15, 2009 7:22 PM
But Keith thinks:

Only one person in the world could make the economy work this way, where the product is sold at less than the cost of goods, all the customers subsidize the company, and everyone profits.

Paging Milo Minderbinder...

Posted by: Keith at June 16, 2009 4:40 PM

The Rope to Hang Themselves

Major Garret tweets:

Roaring applause as Obama tells AMA "we need to get this done" on health care reform. Repeats if you like your doctor/plan, u will save $$

Enjoy being government workers, kids! Eight years of college and residency to staff the DMV.

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 1:16 PM | What do you think? [0]

We Are All Iranians

iran_flag.jpg

In Iran today, a sham election has been met with an open revolt. This takes great courage. The world's free nations need the courage to do better than respond with the sham policy of making nice with an illegitimate regime. -- WSJ Ed Page

UPDATE: Heres' Hoping, indeed:

Iran Posted by John Kranz at 10:51 AM | What do you think? [5]
But Keith thinks:

... whereas election irregularities here in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave are met be a shrug of the shoulders and a big "so what?" I wish we took fair and free elections as seriously as the Iranians do.

I wonder sometimes what our Lexington and Concord will be.

Posted by: Keith at June 15, 2009 12:00 PM
But jk thinks:

I don't know, my friend. I am deeply disturbed at the amount of chicanery and abuse that we tolerate. I think Governor Gregoire stole an election in Washington State and Mister Franken is well on his way to a Minnesota Senate seat. A bit of outrage is warranted.

But I fulsomely reject an equivalence to announcing the final numbers before the ballots were collected. Oh, surprise, surprise, it looks like President Ahmadabad has won! Who saw that coming?

Posted by: jk at June 15, 2009 1:11 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Speaking of Lexington and Concord, Tehran's Azadi (Freedom Square, ironically enough) is starting to look like Boston Common. Here's hoping.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at June 15, 2009 5:26 PM
But Keith thinks:

I don't mind it looking like Boston Common, so long as it doesn't end up also resembling Tienanmen Square - if you know what I mean, and I think you do.

Posted by: Keith at June 15, 2009 6:33 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Agreed, Keith. And let's hope that it doesn't take six years for Iranians to cast off the crown, er, hijab, as it did the Americans.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at June 15, 2009 7:29 PM

June 14, 2009

Ayn Rand's Revenge

With a timely look at the question of what defines conservatism here is another revealing link from brother Russ - 'William F. Buckley vs. Ayn Rand: Ayn Rand's Revenge.'

And unfortunately, Buckleys insecure rants against Rand retarded the intellectual progress of the right for decades.

The important point here involves Buckley, but it involves a lot more. The issue with Buckley is that he truly had nothing to contribute intellectually. And when faced with a true intellectual like Rand, all he could do was guttersnipe. Yet the wider point pertains to conservatism today.

Until it begins to intellectually justify itself in a logical way, conservatism will remain lost, and statism will continue its march. Rand provided the intellectual justification for capitalism and liberty and she did so by reference to the fundamental metaphysical facts of reality and human existence. She did not appeal to tradition or the supernatural. She appealed to the rational. And the public has been responding to her ever since.

Buckley and his cohorts brag about their electoral successes-"we elected Reagan" they chime. But what permanent changes have been made? The procession of the welfare state goes on. And who can stop it, people who say God went "poof" and then there were rights?

Rand made the case against the welfare state root and branch. She was the first to make a secular case against Communism and Socialism, and the first to make a fully secular defense of American values. The fact that her ideas were shut out by Buckley hurt the entire cause of Americanism.

But jk thinks:

Start with something positive, to bring the poster around to your side and establish your reasonableness. Well, I agree that the Conservative movement would have done better to adopt more of Ayn Rand's ideas.

And I approve of the word "gutttersniping." It describes McHugh's column pretty well.

Beyond that, you might put me down as a "no."

For a follower of Ayn Rand to denigrate another author for personal peccadilloes is a little rich. Even her most sympathetic biographers admit to her "insensitivities." Buckley's kid has written a Daddy Dearest book, but he and Pat were pretty well loved by the staff of National Review and even by many of his ideological opponents.

If Buckley's movement has failed because we have Socialism in the US, didn't Rand fail? And Hayek, Mises, Milton Friedman? All a bunch of big losers?

Buckley wrote about 600,000 books, hosted what was the longest running show on PBS, started one of the most important political magazines of out time, and shepherded a movement that, yes, did get President Reagan elected. Freed tens of millions from Communism. Launched the greatest peacetime expansion of the economy in the 20th Century.

I really don't see a tell-all book as Ms. Rand's revenge. I do, sadly (and maybe the little Objectivist kiddies should leave the room for this bit) see this as emblematic of Rand's followers' addition by subtraction: start with 20 people who value individual freedom and property rights -- then kick out 11 who aren't pure enough and enjoy nine devout followers. That's where "Revenge" against ideological allies gets you.

You might sell some books with that but you will not get people elected and you will not impede the loss of freedom.

Posted by: jk at June 15, 2009 10:42 AM
But johngalt thinks:

We can't help but read under the influence of our preconceptions, can we? I wondered why the author even broached the "personal peccadilloes" subject except that was a major element of the younger Buckley's book. Upon re-reading it seems it was the reverse of what you suggest. Buckley apparently "would ridicule Rand on a personal basis for alleged personal shortcomings" and now gets his comeuppance at the hand of his own son.

Before reading this piece I had no real sense of a rift between Buckley and Rand, nor any clear explanation for the limited GOP adoption of Rand's economic ideas other than her atheism. Mr. McHugh's article gives a brief insight into both of these. And the title refers to the revenge of Rand's ideas as millions flock to read her magnum opus Atlas Shrugged (Amazon sales rank #84 in paperback) and thousands wave "Don't Tread On Me" flags at TEA Party rallies following the electoral return of unapologetic statism a mere 2 decades after Reagan left office.

The author claimed that a government rooted in Rand's objective justification for capitalism and liberty would be more enduring than one based on the idea that "God went 'poof' and then there were rights." Until this is tested it remains only a hypothesis, but the latter tactic has been dismantled by the Secular Progressive left in less than a generation.

I don't read the author as suggesting that anyone be "kicked out" of the popular party of capitalism and liberty (whenever that party actually emerges). The criticism is that Buckley used his considerable influence to "shut out" the ideas of Ayn Rand from mainstream Republican politics. Why he did this is academic. Far more important is undoing his damage. You said that the conservative movement would have done better to adopt more of Ayn Rand's ideas and Joseph McHugh and I say, "Better late than never, and no time like the present." Defend capitalism and liberty in secular terms and watch the healthy growth of a new political movement: Americanism.

Posted by: johngalt at June 15, 2009 7:47 PM

Animal Spirits

This is a good story. Myopic political hacks like me need to remember there are other plays outside of regulation. Until, of course, the government hears about it.

James Hamilton at Econbrowser explains the trade, which is handy if you do not have a subscription to the original WSJ story.

The short story is that a small investment firm in Texas sold Credit Default Swaps to large firms against some shaky real estate holdings. When they got more revenue than the asset they were guaranteeing, they bought the underlying debt and made it good. The big guys who bought the swaps are not amused:

It appears from the WSJ account as if little Amherst Holdings of Austin, Texas was happy to sell the big guys like J.P. Morgan Chase, Royal Bank of Scotland, and Bank of America something like $130 million notional CDS on a $27 million credit event, used the proceeds to buy off and make good the underlying subprime loans, and pocketed $70 million or so for their troubles. The big guys, on the other hand, paid perhaps a hundred million and got back zip.

One might speculate that that is why the big guys took TARP funds and Amherst did not.

Hat-tip: a good friend's tweet.


June 13, 2009

Stimulus!

New downtown Knoxville Mercy hospital shelved

Mercy Health Partners said Thursday it has shelved plans to build a new downtown hospital because of the economy and uncertainty over the national health care debate.

The unanimous decision made by Mercy's board of directors comes a year after the health system announced that it would build a $400 million replacement facility on the site of the former Baptist Hospital of East Tennessee if certain financial benchmarks were met.


But, but, they're just going to tax the rich!

Hat-tip: Instapundit -- your go-to source for Knoxville news!

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 5:27 PM | What do you think? [0]

Define Conservative...

From Reuters:


The state election commission said early Saturday that Ahmadinejad, a hardline conservative, was ahead with 66 percent of the votes in Friday's election after 21 million ballots were counted.

Iran Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 3:04 PM | What do you think? [7]
But johngalt thinks:

The real story here is Iran's popular revolt against the fundamentalist regime that is being quelched by election fraud. Just as in Zimbabwe, the imprimatur of democracy covers the tyranny of thugocracy.

With the growing influence of ACORN and Chicago style politics in major American cities one wonders if this might be a preview of the 2012 Presidential election, but that is pure pessimistic speculation. What we're seeing in Iran right now is blatant fraud. And yet nations like Iran, Zimbabwe, Egypt and Venezuela are permitted membership at the UN. What a farce.

Posted by: johngalt at June 14, 2009 6:11 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Well, I'd put it more like:

Supports death penalty for homosexuality: check!

Tough on immigrants, tougher on emigrants: check!

Supports forced prayer in schools: check!

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at June 15, 2009 2:15 AM
But Keith thinks:

jk should be awarded bonus points for his sublime use of irony! I duly applaud your wit.

But Harrison's post catches the essence of an importance of a principle: he who frames the argument has already stacked the deck in favor of winning it. It's happened before - as the Soviet Union was crumbling, it was the American media that labeled the leaders trying to keep the USSR under party rule as "conservatives" and the reformers trying to dissolve the USSR as "democrats." It was also the American media that popularized - very deliberately, I am convinced - the use of "red," the color of blood and anger, for Republicans, and the peaceful, unthreatening "blue" for Democrats.

Seems to be it wasn't that long ago we had a similar chat about the relative validity of labels carelessly bandied about...

Posted by: Keith at June 15, 2009 11:53 AM
But T. Greer thinks:

Ha. "Hardline Conservative"-- in my dreams. As someone smarter than myself put it:

"Iranian politics thus do not fit the mold of left versus right as in the West, or even really reformist versus conservative. There is the establishment, and then there is the slightly less establishment.

What Ahmadinejad is is a populist anti-establishmentarian--he is taking on the old guard of the Revolution. He has replaced senior officials in all branches of the Executive with his own guys--the people he replaced mostly got their jobs due to political connections with the Old Guard. One of his most radical moves was to completely replace the senior diplomatic staff of the government. His constant refrain is to argue against the "corruption" of the old Guard... He's a caudillo wanna-be, greatly limited by the Constitution's emphasis on the LOTR and various institutions designed to guarantee the Islamic nature of the government.

Mousavi is the old guard, a previous prime minister, tied in with the Revolutionary Guard, the bonyad system†, and backed by Rafsanjani--he is the establishment choice, which is why he might be the first presidential candidate to unseat the incumbent in the history of Iranian presidential elections."

Posted by: T. Greer at June 16, 2009 1:16 AM
But Keith thinks:

"... greatly limited by the Constitution's emphasis on the LOTR and various institutions..."

The Iranian Constitution places emphasis on Lord of the Rings? Then Khomeini was Morgoth, Khamenei is Sauron, and the country is modeled after Mordor? Ahmadinejad is about the right height to be Gollum, and about as good-natured. Well, then, our problems are solved! All we need to do is drop the One Ring into the nuclear reactor at the Fires of Orodruin, and...

Oh, "Leader of the Revolution." Guardian Council and all that. Sorry.

Posted by: Keith at June 16, 2009 11:48 AM
But T. Greer thinks:

Yep, I had that same problem two weeks ago when the Iranian election became a hot topic.

Posted by: T. Greer at June 16, 2009 12:05 PM

Climate Change

Good Friend of this blog, T Greer, has an excellent post on "Death by Climate." An NGO headed by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan asserts that climate change currently is responsible for 300,000 deaths a year. Our friend disagrees.

From here it is easy to see the fallacy inherit in any attempt to label a death (or even a group of deaths) as "caused" by climate change. There does not exist a single causality attributed to climate change whose death cannot be sourced more directly to factor of the socio-economic sort. In cases where the deaths are indirectly attributed to climate change** (such as the cholera epidemics or crop failures that often follow flooding in underdeveloped areas) the link between death and weather is even more tenuous; each degree of separation between climatic trends and causality trends simply multiplies the number of factor leading to the end result that are more important than climate change.

TG is a lot more generous with Annan and the Global Humanitarian Forum than I am (as I mention in a lenghy, black-helicopterish comment) but there is much I agree with in his thoughtful post.

But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Don't be surprised at the claim. It has the same unscientific basis by which Obama says "___ jobs saved or created."

On the other hand, the ban on DDT has led to hundreds of thousands of African deaths each year. This is directly provable, because they died from disease x (malaria) that could have been prevented by action y (spraying pesticides).

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at June 15, 2009 2:19 AM
But T. Greer thinks:

Jk-

Thanks for the link. I have responded to your comment, and agree with you to a large extent. It is a sad reflection of our society that claims such as this are accepted and supported by the eletes who really should know better.

Posted by: T. Greer at June 15, 2009 4:33 PM

June 12, 2009

Quote of the Day

I'd love to see a red province-blue province map of Iran right now. "I told you South Khorasan was trending purple." -- @JimGeraghty (Hat-tip: @mkhammer)
Posted by John Kranz at 5:52 PM | What do you think? [0]

I Want a Plasma Toothbush!

A frequent whine of mine, right after "What? It's not a drive-thru Starbucks?", is the lack of technical innovation in the field of dentistry.

My paternal grandfather graduated Vanderbilt Dental school in 1903 (one of my favorite pieces of home art is his class graduation picture). And I have always suspected that he would be keenly at home in a modern dentist's office. He practiced through the end of WWII and I can't name a lot of equipment that they didn't have. A doctor from WWII would be stunned with MRIs and artierial cameras -- the 1940s black bag would be an anachronism.

Nor can I put my finger on a reason. There is money in improved dentistry, there are enough self-payers to create a vibrant free market. Where is the oral equivalent of Lasik eye surgery?

These questions remain and I am up to any answers in the comments. But at least Insty links to a cool thing: using a plasma blowtorch to kill plaque.

Plasma, the forth stage of matter along with gases, solids and liquids, is a soup of ions and electrons. Like a cross between a lightsaber and Listerine, the plasma flame creates free radical oxygen ions that tear apart the plaque membrane and kill the bacteria. Even better, the torch is so fluid and adjustable, it can get to bacteria in the mouth's most hard to reach places.

Posted by John Kranz at 5:07 PM | What do you think? [2]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Heh - funny that your bring this up on the day that The Refugee paid a visit to his dentist.

Although the technology itself may not have advanced as much based on "cool" factor, but the results are rather dramatic. Fluoridation (whether you like it or not - where's that in the Constitution?), tooth sealing, fluoride treatments and other preventative measures have made a lifetime of natural teeth rather common. Teeth are, perhaps, inherently lower-tech than organs.

For the record, The Refugee must have a cavity in his mouth filled for the first time in 49 years - no, not the big one in the middle.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at June 12, 2009 9:17 PM
But jk thinks:

Clearly your cavity is the product of eight years of failed policies of the Bush Administration.

I'll take your point on advances, but they seem pretty skinny compared to other medicine. And if I restrain it to the hygienist -- the last advance was replacing the bronze pointy thing with steel.

Posted by: jk at June 13, 2009 10:04 AM

Finger Laying

President Madison, can you lay your finger on the line in the Constitution that empowers the Federal government to do this Historic Anti-Smoking Bill?

WASHINGTON No more "light" cigarettes or candy-flavored smokes. Bigger, scarier warning labels. Fewer ads featuring sexy young smokers. Historic anti-smoking legislation sped to final congressional passage on Friday after a bitter fight lasting nearly a half-century and lawmakers and the White House quickly declared it would save the lives of thousands of smokers of all ages.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:58 PM | What do you think? [0]

I Donno, for $23M, I Might Take a Couple Uighurs...

It seems the good people of Bermuda did not get the message of Hope and Change®:

"People are outraged in this country," says Crockwell. "I've never seen the people in this country get so exercised so quickly over an issue."

Crockwell tells THE WEEKLY STANDARD that Bermudians are very concerned about the potential threat the Uighurs pose to the security and economy of Bermuda, and outraged by the secretive and unilateral manner in which Bermuda's premier Dr. Ewart Brown decided to accept the detainees.

"There's a great deal of anxiety right now," says Crockwell. "We have not received any information at all in terms of who these individuals are."


Hat-tip: @mkhammer

War on Terror Posted by John Kranz at 2:33 PM | What do you think? [2]
But Keith thinks:

I have no idea why the Bermudians are so concerned. I'm sure the Uighurs will fit right in - you know, open a couple of touristy, authentic-Uighurian restaurants, get modest but honorable jobs. Sort of like a great big international Witness Protection Program. Seein' how they'll just blend right in with the locals and all.

I'm sure they'll learn the language, develop local accents, and vote Tory.

Posted by: Keith at June 12, 2009 3:58 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Obviously a bunch of racist Islamophobes.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at June 12, 2009 11:50 PM

Friends for Coffee

Kurt O, a great friend and great vibes player from Berkeley Square days, joined Brooke and I for a few tunes at The Virtual Coffeehouse.


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UPDATE: FaceBookers: become a fan


June 11, 2009

Petulance

Scrivener.net:

Democrats lock the doors to the New York State Senate. Life lessons from this for us all.

If it doesn't rain, today New York's state senators will be meeting in the park across the street from State Senate Chamber in Albany. The Democrats who ran the senate until yesterday and still possess the keys to the iron gates at the Chamber door have locked them, to keep the newly ascendant Republicans outside.

Thus the Empire State is governed.

Megan McArdle, commenting on the "coup" pulled by the Republicans yesterday in getting two senate Democrats to switch to their side and turn the balance of power, wrote that where she is the story "... is being reported nearly exclusively as a gay marriage thing. Yes, I understand that this is a blow to gay marriage..." So I'll take it that outside of New York that political spin being applied.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:24 PM | What do you think? [3]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Honestly, there's no perceptible difference.

And if only it were true that the parties were fighting so much that they did nothing. There's so much mandatory spending, with mandatory annual increases, that my state gets further and further into hock. We're only a couple of years behind California.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at June 11, 2009 10:16 PM
But jk thinks:

Sad to say, I'm sure you're right, Perry. The partisan hack in me gets excited when I see the GOP taking over New Yawk, but these are all Rep Peter King Republicans, aren't they?

The Democrats locking the doors, however, at least retains some humor value.

Colorado is a few more years behind but now on the same track. Five years ago I thought we would not make those choices but we have.

Posted by: jk at June 12, 2009 11:08 AM
But Keith thinks:

Perry: but what a difference that couple of years makes! In that couple of years, California's "government" (such as it is, I mean) has spent probably several times the total net worth of South America. there's a big part of me hoping California simply implodes, and can serve as some sort of a cautionary tale for the surviving 56 states.

I'd love to see a California Debt Road Trip along the lines of the link below, but I'd bet there's not a speedometer graphic that says "and here's where the California government went to ludicrous speed..."

New York: save yourselves while you can. Just don't count on your current crop of legislators to help.

Posted by: Keith at June 12, 2009 1:53 PM

This Guy Has Had the Gavel a Little Too Long

I'M F***ING CHAIRMAN! I'LL ASK THE QUESTIONS!!!

Hat-tip: Insty


Enough to Make You Doubt Socialism!

Screw the cats -- here's your ThreeSources humor for the day.

Senators Feinstein and Collins are shocked, shocked! that a little plan for government meddling went astray. It was a great idea mind you, they cooked it up with the help of Sen. Schumer:

It's amazing how quickly a good idea can go bad in Washington. In January, we joined with Sen. Charles Schumer to introduce a bill that would allow Americans to trade in gas-guzzling cars in exchange for vouchers worth up to $4,500 toward the purchase of vehicles with greatly improved fuel economy. This legislation was modeled after programs in California and Texas that improved fuel efficiency, reduced pollution, and stimulated auto sales.

But then some of those evil lobbyists -- who still are so misguided as to think they have a right to petition the government when it writes rules for their industry -- stepped in and messed it all up.
Our "Cash for Clunkers" proposal was a win-win for the environment and the economy. Then Detroit auto industry lobbyists got involved. Soon a rival bill emerged in the House, tailored perfectly to the auto industry's specifications.

The House bill was written so quickly that one of its main components -- a provision that would have excluded any vehicle manufactured overseas -- had to be removed because it violated trade laws. But the worst item on the auto industry's wish list is still at the heart of the bill -- a provision that undermines fuel-efficiency standards.

On Tuesday, the House approved this legislation, which would subsidize the purchase of a new Hummer H3T (16 mpg) or a new Dodge Ram 1500 4x4 truck (15 mpg), but not a two-year-old Ford Focus (27 mpg) or used Chevy Colorado (20 mpg). A companion bill is pending in the Senate.


I dare you to read this with a straight face as it only gets worse. It never strikes these two leading intellectual lights of the Senate that maybe the problem is government intrusion.

Un. Bee Leave. Able.

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 12:36 PM | What do you think? [4]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

"a win-win for the environment and the economy."

No, it's for environmentalist wackos and the auto industry, which are subsets of the larger groups.

Not mentioned is the third party to the proceedings: the taxpayer. Actually, they'd be fourth. The third party is the neighbor who trades in his car at the taxpaying neighbor's expense.

It's "win-win" in the same way a wolf and a fox both "win" after raiding the chicken coop. Or win-win-win if you include the vulture that scavenges what's left. It's easy to brag about the winners when you omit any mention of losers.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at June 11, 2009 4:07 PM
But jk thinks:

Perry: love the fox and wolf "win-win" line -- well done.

Also some serious Bastiat action as a country is paying to put functioning, serviceable motorcars into a shredder. That's the ticket to prosperity! "See we'll make money fixing all these windows..."

Posted by: jk at June 11, 2009 7:05 PM
But Lisa M thinks:

Because anyone who can afford to drop $60 grand on a vehicle that serves no other purpose other than a drivable phallic symbol will clearly be convinced to trade in their manhood for a dinky little Prius after being enticed by Susan and Dianne's luscious offer.

Laugh out loud stupid.

Posted by: Lisa M at June 11, 2009 7:22 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

On the thought of broken windows, how about we sentence state-worshippers to death so that we can create thousands of jobs for death row guards and executioners.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at June 12, 2009 1:53 PM

Cannot Make This Stuff Up

We're closing Gitmo! My soul will feel so cleansed when this process is complete. Finally, to have a President that understands complex moral imperatives. The WSJ Ed Page reports that a little American lucre has solved the nasty problem of the Uighurs:

Months of moral grandstanding and intense diplomacy are finally yielding dividends: President Obama has convinced Palau, a Pacific archipelago and long-standing U.S. ally, to resettle a small group of the least dangerous Guantanamo detainees. All it took was $200 million in foreign aid to a country with 20,000 residents and a GDP of about $164 million.

Headed to Palau are the Uighurs, ethnic Chinese Muslims who were picked up in 2002 near Tora Bora. Some of them received weapons training at Afghan camps affiliated with al Qaeda or the Taliban as part of their separatist movement -- the Uighur minority is brutally repressed by the Chinese government -- though they are not considered threats to the U.S. or other Western nations. But they were left in legal limbo because they could not be returned to China, where they would likely be tortured or worse, and no other country would give them sanctuary.


So the least dangerous are gone, at a cost of only $11.7 million per detainee. No doubt that Palau will treat them much better than the American military -- and less doubt that they are secured from future terrorist activity. It's a proud day for this great nation!

But Jess thinks:

A. The Bush administration declared them innocent so they should technically be allowed freedom. B. Nobody wants to take them, so I guess Palau is where they end up? What happens with all the other detainees? And why so expensive?
Good, humorous post.
http://www.newsy.com/videos/palau_s_potential_prisoners

Posted by: Jess at June 11, 2009 1:30 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I can't wait for the '60 Minutes' expose' about six months from now: "Watching these former U.S. detainees day-to-day lives here on this Pacific island one can't help but wonder, were they better off at Guantanamo? And should the U.S. have just kept it's 200 million dollars."

Hey, it could happen!

Posted by: johngalt at June 12, 2009 7:43 PM

June 10, 2009

JK Defends David Letterman from Swift Boaters

Sort of. He's an irrelevant, not-funny, non-entity. And the YouTube clip of his attacking Governor Palin's daughter certainly yells "creepy old man" more than "hip, sophisticated cultural icon." (Aren't you glad I am not "defending" you?)

But conservatives are over-reacting when they paraphrase it as a joke about rape. Even without it, the joke is out of bounds. And I will join with my social conservative buddies in the big GOP tent to ask why the feminist left is so silent because the Palins are Republicans.

But my Twitter is atwitter and they all use the word rape which Letterman did not imply. The joke plays off the family's fecundity and supposed promiscuity. Any allegation of coercion works against the joke, not for it.

I'm not defending the humor value or appropriateness of the joke. But I do think that a lot of conservatives are overreaching. I call it "Swift Boating" because the Swift Boat Veterans had legitimate, verifiable complaints about Senator Kerry's character and service record. Because they overreached and claimed things which could not be proven, their legitimate points were dismissed.

Mary Katherine Ham and Jim Treacher have been guilty of this. It has been a huge twitter topic for days, and Treacher links today to a Doctor Zero post on Hotair. It's overwrought.

But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I'd in fact like to hear about this 10% not true. Perhaps I didn't hear them all, or if I did hear that 10%, the other 90% was so slam-dunk that the 10% didn't surprise me.

Letterman made a stupid attempt at a joke, which turned out to be about statutory rape. The Palin daughter at the ballgame was her 14-year-old, not Bristol. Even if he referred to her non-adult daughter, at minimum it was tasteless and stupid, and any man with a shred of decency would offer a genuine apology.

Letterman, though, offered a non-apology designed only to boost his show's ratings. Were I the father of a girl so insulted, I'd appear on Letterman's show only to make him apologize through newly broken teeth.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at June 11, 2009 4:19 PM
But Terri thinks:

JK,
That's why I'm only halfway agreeing with you. Letterman surely didn't MEAN to make a joke about rape.
Or slutty Latino ball players for that matter.

But you're asking the conservative blogosphere to back off.
Why?

Shame is what's needed here and Letterman is getting a good dose. People may well be tuning in to see what it's all about but they surely aren't finding him edgy and hip.

Some bloggers go ballistic about a lot of things and this is just one more. I don't believe that having your standard ranters adding this to their rants is going to bring a black eye onto conservatives in general.

That just circles you back to "Attention, all conservatives. Behave as civil adults and you'll get ahead".
No - they stay above the fray and soon are tarred and feathered as racist, uncaring, old white guys.

Feminists are not going to hold Letterman accountable for bad taste, so let those who care do so without worrying about how the conservative movement might be seen by liberals.

Posted by: Terri at June 11, 2009 4:40 PM
But jk thinks:

I'm asking the conservative blogosphere (which has a pretty poor record of listening to me) to keep their complaints responsible. You can say it was tasteless, out-of-bounds and not funny. You can even go on the show and, responsibly, break some teeth.

My objections are:
-- that they are objecting to a joke he did not make;
-- that we are hurtling into socialism and allowing 31-year old Yale dropout Hillary Clinton campaign managers to "rewrite the rules of Capitalism" and some bloggers itch for a culture war.

Posted by: jk at June 11, 2009 7:13 PM
But Lisa M thinks:

Terri, they ARE finding it edgy and hip. Letterman is cool again. People who haven't given him a passing thought in years are now all buzzing about him. Read some of the liberal blogs--they're saying Palin brought this on herself, she put her family in the spotlight and therefore had it coming. A self described liberal feminist woman called in to Hannity today saying this very thing, and writing it off as the price of being in the public eye.

Palin is a joke to these people--an incompetent naif who can see Alaska from her house. That's how they will always think of her, just like Dan Quayle will forever be known as the man who couldn't spell potato. That liberals are not held to these same exacting standards is well known and frustrating, but if you think we have even a fraction of the power necessary to "shame" them into decent behavior, then you have not been paying attention.

Liberals are the hypersensitive jackasses who find offense at every little thing. Not conservatives. Sticks and stones; ultimately Letterman's joke says more about Letterman than it does about the Palin family. Let that be what people remember, not the wounded sensibilities of conservatives.

jk--I've been a lurker for a long time. Three Sources is one of my favorite daily reads. Thanks for the linky love.

Posted by: Lisa M at June 11, 2009 7:14 PM
But Terri thinks:

Sorry - 1 more comment.

JK, the joke was made and it can only be assumed it was about the 14yo - hence, rape. Technically. He owns it. If people want to call him on it - I say go for it. Someone ought to say something and they are. Good for them.

Most people don't understand the rush towards socialism. They want their "free" health care.

Lisa,
Liberals always find themselves hip and edgy. This isn't new.

Posted by: Terri at June 11, 2009 9:55 PM
But Jeff H thinks:

At least Letterman didn't call Sasha and Malia little nappy headed ho's.

Posted by: Jeff H at June 12, 2009 5:33 PM

The Best of Hands

Glad we got rid of that Rick Waggoner guy, the new Government Motors chief, Brain Deese, really has an impressive resume:

A fresh-faced 31-year-old, Deese dropped out of Yale Law School last year to work for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. When Clinton sank, Deese skipped over to the winning ship, impressed everybody who counts, and landed a desk in the White House. The big guns like Larry Summers and Christina Romer are busy cooking up hilariously sunny budget projections while trying to look like they're keeping the economy from collapsing. So Deese, armed with an undergrad degree in political science, finds the GM portfolio and the fate of millions in his hands.

Some are grumbling about Deese's lack of relevant experience. (He has driven a car and once slept in the parking lot of a GM plant!) But the real issue isn't Deese's rsum. The real issue is why anyone should have the power to "rewrite the rules of American capitalism." Unlike Deese, treasury secretaries Paulson and Geithner are men of experience. But what kind of experience could justify the immense, arbitrary power they've exercised in the wake of the financial meltdown? Experience centrally planning the global economy?


ThreeSourcers will enjoy the whole, painful, piece.
We don't worry these days about the rule of hereditary monarchs. But as the modern nation-state has expanded, taking on ever more functions, the powers of the state bureaucracy have come to resemble the powers of an unaccountable aristocracy. Periodic elections merely deliver a somewhat different batch of aristocrats to the throne.

American liberals talk a good game about equality, but their rhetoric, like conservative talk about liberty, is mostly empty. There's a respectable liberal argument that individuals can be truly free and equal only if they command resources sufficient to develop their capacities and enjoy the exercise of their basic rights. But this is an argument for a government-provided social safety netfor making sure everyone starts on a decent footing. It is not an argument for putting a ceiling on income and wealth.


Amen.


June 9, 2009

All Hail Taranto

I don't link to BOTW a lot because I cannot imagine any ThreeSourcer not reading it in full every day. But today's lead post is completely perfect. Read it again.

When I heard that Justice Ginsburg was throwing an S.A.E. monkey wrench into the Fiat-Chrysler deal, I thought "You live long enough and everything happens -- I never though I'd side with Justice Ginsburg on anything jurisprudential." Or as Taranto would say " "Speaking Ruth to Power."

Congress established bankruptcy courts to provide for the orderly restructuring and liquidation of financially distressed companies, and the decisions of these tribunals are subject to review by the ordinary judicial courts. The Obama administration's plan for Chrysler--which involved giving a politically favored constituency (the United Auto Workers) priority at the expense of both taxpayers and legally privileged secured creditors--was an effort to circumvent the rule of law.

In addition to the principle at stake, the Supreme Court has an institutional imperative to intervene in this case. The administration is attempting to seize power that rightly belongs to the courts (and to Congress, since lawmakers could rewrite the bankruptcy law if they chose). We have often criticized the Supreme Court for overstepping its power, but it would be just as wrong for the court to shirk its responsibility to exercise its power legitimately.


It's a superb short and well-reasoned description of what I think to b the worst failure of the current Administration. I plan to send a lot of thinking Obama supporters to the piece.

But johngalt thinks:

Excellent. I tried to post something on this yesterday but my computer was running slower than my patience. And by now we know there is a ruling on the matter: The applications for stay presented to JUSTICE GINSBURG and by her referred to the Court are denied.

The short opinion goes on to say that the court can weigh the relative harms to the parties and that "a denial of stay is not a decision on the merits of the underlying legal issues." This seems to my non-legal mind to leave the door open for the secured creditors to pursue further legal relief (but from whom?) in the future and perhaps be made whole financially, while at the same time establishing case law that the restructuring was unconstitutional. The court appears to have ruled pragmatically at this time.

Posted by: johngalt at June 10, 2009 1:22 PM

The Debt Road Trip

Pretty funny:

Hat-tip: @mkhammer


June 8, 2009

Et Tu, AP?

This Associated Press article does not read like an Administration press release. Anomoly or sign of the times?

Obama repackages stimulus plans with old promises

[...]

By now, according to earlier White House economic models, the nation's unemployment rate should be on the decline. The forecasts used to drum up support for the plan projected today's unemployment would be about 8 percent. Instead, it sits at 9.4 percent, the highest in more than 25 years.

Some analysts believe the White House is still not being realistic, that Obama will be lucky if any real job creation from his recovery effort is seen by the end of the year, let alone the employment explosion he predicts.

"I think these estimates are overly optimistic," said Arpitha Bykere, a senior analyst with RGE Monitor.

But Boulder Refugee thinks:

"Overly optimistic"?!? The figures of "jobs created or saved" are pure fiction unsupportable by any evidence or objective analysis.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at June 8, 2009 7:19 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Remember your Bastiat. Any jobs created by the stimulus have an equal offset in economic production lost to other jobs in the economy.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at June 8, 2009 10:36 PM

Atonement

Wow. No visitors, no comments, no posts from anybody but me, ever since I put the stupid kitten video up.

I hear you! Message received! Never again! In atonement, I offer a link to Terri's video version of the Friday Calf Blog. Much better.

Posted by John Kranz at 6:03 PM | What do you think? [2]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Well... OK... grudgingly... But only because Obama-man was so funny.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at June 8, 2009 7:08 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I've been busy.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at June 8, 2009 10:36 PM

Quote of the Day

From the NYTimes articles on a White House effort to control executive compensation in the financial industry:
In the past, banks had free rein to determine the base salary and bonuses they awarded their employees.
Me: Or put it this way: In the past, companies could pay their workers at a level that made business sense. -- James Pethokoukis

I Won!

Part of me is excited that the first draft on a health care bill looks so bad. The left could easily overreach on this topic and arouse a polity already antagonized by bailouts and deficit spending.

On the other hand, they have both houses of Congress and the White House -- how many of these awful provisions might pass? Keith Hennessey (quickly becoming a favorite of mine) provides "15 things to know about the Kennedy-Dodd Health Care Bill."

I'll not excerpt. All fifteen are pretty bad, Hennessey expresses them clearly and concisely. The sum is that no semblance of a private system would remain. Private plans would be so regulated as to become government plans. There will be no remnant of "insurance" as coverage will be guaranteed without allowance for any extra charges for risky behavior or existing condition. "Children" (I borrow Hennessey's scare quotes) up to age 26 would have to be covered on a parent's plan. People with up to 500% of the poverty line would qualify for a Federal subsidy.

Oh, and there will be both individual and employer mandates. Yes, this is just what a weak economy needs.

Hat-tip: Instapundit

UPDATE: Welcome to the blogroll, Keith Hennessey (Mom will be so proud!) Hennessey has a knack for explaining the unintended consequences of stupid government behavior, but I repeat myself...

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 1:41 PM | What do you think? [0]

June 5, 2009

Hollywood and Media Leftism

Here is a 31 minute video that I highly recommend. Peter Robinson provides a very thoughtful interview with Andrew Brietbart.

There's no foaming at the mouth, but it is a very reflective and serious discussion of the severity and effects of a left-controlled entertainment sector. I know that's long -- it is worth it.

Hat-tip: Instapundit

UPDATE: Link fixed, sorry!

But T. Greer thinks:

JK, while I have no ill thoughts regarding your musical talent, I think you might just have provided us with a different link than you meant to.

Posted by: T. Greer at June 9, 2009 12:55 AM
But jk thinks:

Dangit! Link fixed.

I really wanted you to see it tg. You had posted an interview segment where you rightfully praised Al Jazeera's Riz Khan for providing an uplifting and informative view of the Indian Elections. This segment does not provide a diversity of opinion, but it shines a lot of light.

Posted by: jk at June 9, 2009 11:54 AM

GAME OVER II

According to the Wall Street Journal Editorial Page, it seems Chairman Frank went to bat for a GM Warehouse in Massachusetts. Y'know, a little "constituent support;"

Mr. Frank's spokesman, Harry Gural, says the Congressman discussed, among other things, "the facility's value to GM." We'd have thought that would be something that GM might have considered when it decided to close the Norton center, but then a call from one of the most powerful Members of Congress can certainly cause a ward of the state to reconsider what qualifies as "value." A CEO who refuses the offer can soon find himself testifying under oath before Congress, or answering questions from the Government Accountability Office about his expense account. To that point, Mr. Henderson spent Wednesday with Chrysler President Jim Press being castigated by the Senate Commerce Committee for their plans to close 3,400 car dealerships. Every Senator wants dealerships closed in someone else's state.

I can appreciate a Presidential honeymoon and all, but how many people are left who really believe that this new corporatism is going to work? Closing a parts warehouse will now be like closing a military base.



GAME OVER!

White House Set to Appoint a Pay Czar

WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration plans to appoint a "Special Master for Compensation" to ensure that companies receiving federal bailout funds are abiding by executive-pay guidelines, according to people familiar with the matter.

Oh please Sir, my wife has been ill and the children need new shoes...my projects have all been completed on time this quarter and the five year plan for my Department is on track...just another hundred dollars a week would be a big help...



Obama Man

Little fun on Friday -- I promise: NO MUR CATZ

Hat-tip: Club for Growth

Posted by John Kranz at 8:19 AM | What do you think? [0]

June 4, 2009

Staying Rich In The New Normal

PIMCO Managing Director William Gross offers some historica;l perspective, sound investment advice, and a bit of political punditry in a web address that is well worth a read.

I remember as a child my parents telling me, perhaps resentfully, that only a doctor, airline pilot, or a car dealer could afford to join a country club. My how things have changed. Now, as I write this overlooking the 16th hole on the Vintage Club near Palm Springs, the only golfers who shank seven irons into the lake are real estate developers, investment bankers, or heads of investment management companies. The rich are different, not only in the manner intoned by F. Scott Fitzgerald, but also in who they are and what they do for a living. Whether some or all of them are filthy is a judgment for society and history to make. Of one thing you can be sure however: over the next several decades, the ability to make a fortune by using other peoples money will be a lot harder. Deleveraging, reregulation, increased taxation, and compensation limits will allow only the most skillful or the shadiest into the Balzac or Forbes 400.

Hat-tip: a good friend via Twitter.


It's Thursday!

Must be some new videos up at The Virtual Coffeehouse.


banner4.gif



His Batting is Poor, But He's Also a Bad Fielder...

Francis Cianfrocca has a devastating column in Commentary. Where Larry Kudlow and James Pethokoukis see green shoots and mustard seeds. Cianfrocca sees high taxes, inflation and slow growth.

Since we must scale back fiscal borrowing as we move into the future, there are only two alternatives: to accept far higher levels of taxation, or to accept a U.S. economy that is significantly smaller and slower-growing than it would otherwise have been. (The consequences of the latter, of course,are high unemployment and less material well-being for individuals.)

What would be a logical way to navigate between those alternatives? Adopt a high-tax policy that does as little as possible to burden highly-productive individuals, businesses and capital, thus lessening the impact on the size and dynamism of the economy.

But we already know that the President wants to do exactly the opposite. Faced with an evil choice between much higher taxes and a smaller economy, Obama is on track to give us both.


Hat-tip: Jimmy P


A New Low for ThreeSources

Okay, there's no baser form of entertainment than "cute cat" videos on YouTube. But, unless you've got a heart of stone:


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

June 3, 2009

Epstein in Forbes

Not too often that one guy owns a big story, but Richard Epstein has published two columns on the nomination of Judge Sotomayor that have contained more fact and wisdom than the rest of the world put together.

The first one was pretty tough on Sotomayor and provided substantive reasons to oppose her nomination, beyond an eight year old academic speech.

Today's questions the tactics and ideas of Karl Rove's -- and conservatives in general -- opposition as he separates conservative versus libertarian opposition to the pick.

He even takes a whack at those (rhymes with eh, jay?) who believe in a Borkean standard of strict constructionism:

Accordingly, [The Founders] crafted our Constitution as a complex compromise. In one breath, they conferred extensive powers on federal government and recognized broad powers in the states. In the next, they imposed strong limitations on federal and state power, such as the Takings Clause, which states "nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation."

These complex institutional arrangements raise insuperable difficulties for any simple program of strict construction that stresses the first point to the exclusion of the second. A faithful interpretation of those clauses that limit government power in broad terms--e.g. the Bill of Rights--cannot be read to hold that judicial review only comes into play in the most extreme cases.


Libertarians, says Epstein, needed activism in Kelo.

Superb. Hat-tip: Instapundit

SCOTUS Posted by John Kranz at 11:57 AM | What do you think? [3]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Sotomayor cannot be considered relative to finding a more qualified constructionist as that is a given. It also is not in the offing.

First, Sotomayor will not be defeated because she is too liberal. If she is defeated, it will be because she becomes unacceptable to her own party (think Harriet Miers). The reasons for Dems to defeat her would likely be pluses in my column.

The bigger question regards who we would get instead if she were defeated. Rumor has it that she has relatively moderate views on abortion and property rights. That alone would put her ahead of Souter. Empathy when rendering decisions is not exactly new to this Court, nor the Court over the past century. A thorough examination is in order, but it's entirely possible that a second nominee would be far worse, and the second nominee is almost undefeatable politically.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at June 3, 2009 5:52 PM
But jk thinks:

You're singing my song, br. A) We can't lose, nobody is worse than Justice Souter B) We can't win; there's no votes to stop this "historic" nomination.

I'll not join you on Judge Sotomayor's being moderate on property rights. In Didden v. Village of Port Chester she shows an expansive view of the Takings Clause that would make Justice Souter blush.

Even without a serious shot at stopping the nominee, put me down with those who feel we could sharpen and portray a serious opposition to "trial by empathy" and that that is a pretty good use of time.

My final silver lining: I hope that she is not a jurisprudential star that can pull the court farther to the left than her own vote. Better to get a Democrat Harriet Meiers than a Justice Brennen, Douglas (wasn't he that guy in "green Acres?") or Frankfurter.

Posted by: jk at June 3, 2009 6:29 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Don't get me started on her ruling against Didden. Port Chester isn't next to me, but it's in my county.

For such rulings, judges should be tarred and feathered, then expatriated over the Pacific at 40,000 feet without a parachute.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at June 4, 2009 9:50 AM

June 2, 2009

"Help Us Judicial Branch - You're Our Only Hope!"

With apologies to Princess Leia for the title it seems that the editorial board of Investor's Business Daily agrees with my contention (first comment) that it's time for the third branch of our federal government to start pulling its weight.

We pored over Article II of the Constitution, known as the Executive Powers Clause. Nowhere is the White House granted the right to override the time-tested bankruptcy process, to use Treasury money raised by taxing Americans to buy or bail out companies, to fire CEOs, to micromanage corporate policy, or to abrogate lawful contracts made by private parties.

Yet, our government has done these things and more leading to a corrupt GM bankruptcy. The damage to our system of corporate capitalism and the rule of law is severe. Next stop: Federal court?

If you read the whole thing you'll learn, as I did, that the GM Bailout TM is being orchestrated by a 31-year-old Yale Law STUDENT. Oy.

But johngalt thinks:

I'll follow JK's rare example and make the first comment on my own blog - While listining to Jason Lewis yesterday a caller asked "under what authority can the government do all these new things the President is doing?" I don't remember Lewis' answer but the one I yelled at the radio was, "Under the authority of democracy, lady. When our government was a representative republic it couldn't get away with this crap!"

Posted by: johngalt at June 2, 2009 3:21 PM
But jk thinks:

I'm a lonely guy -- I have to comment on my own posts for amusement.

The Judicial Branch has been the best protector of our liberty. Chief Justice Taney stood up to Lincoln, the Four Horsemen stood up to FDR. If the court were to go 5-4 on the empathy standard, we'd have zero chance at liberty.

Posted by: jk at June 2, 2009 3:56 PM
But Keith thinks:

As long as you're going to borrow from Star Wars, johngalt, then I'll see you and raise:

"The Imperial Senate will no longer be of any concern to us. I have just received word that the Emperor has dissolved the council permanently. The last remnants of the Old Republic have been swept away... The regional governors now have direct control over their territories. Fear will keep the local systems in line." When you feel like you've got a mandate to make foundational changes to America, you can just ignore or abolish the parts you don't like. Just nationalize the auto industry - forget that pesky part about just compensation. I don't think he feels constrained by any law, any tradition, or any other institution of government. And his current SCOTUS nomination is part of having a judicial branch that will not oppose him.

And my rejoinder to anyone who doesn't think Obama's administration is dangerous and destructive?

"I find your lack of clue disturbing."

Posted by: Keith at June 2, 2009 5:07 PM

Racism Under New Management

This recent Michael Ramirez cartoon reminds me of a thought I had while riding around on the tractor last Friday baling hay.

Sotomayor%20toon052909.gif

When it comes to racial politics it appears there are two distinct points of view amongst people of color: One is that of Dr. Martin Luther King who dreamed of the day that one would be judged by the content of his character and not the color of his skin; the other is akin to "now that there's a 'brother' in the White House it's OUR turn to be the cracker." The question for Ms. Sotomayor is, to which of these views does she subscribe?

Thomas Sowell recently told Glenn Beck that the racism franchise in America isn't being dismantled, it's just being put under new management.


Quote of the Day

When surveyed, most people say they would support Congress placing "price caps" on cell phone service and automobiles, and 39% say they would support Congress placing price caps on televisions and "coffee and other hot beverages". Yet more evidence that Americans shouldn't be allowed to vote. -- Scrivener.net
Posted by John Kranz at 12:37 PM | What do you think? [1]
But AlexC thinks:

I look forward to the looming impacts from the recently passed credit card "adjustments."

Posted by: AlexC at June 2, 2009 3:16 PM

Moonstruck Healthcare

Jimmy P. goes for a movie allusion from 1987's "Moonstruck."

There are three kinds of pipe. There is what you have, which is garbage and you can see where thats gotten you. Then theres bronze, which is very good unless something goes wrong. And something always goes wrong. And then theres copper, which is the only pipe I use. It costs money. It costs money because it saves money.

Or as Team Obama might put it:
There are three kinds of healthcare systems. There is what you have, which is garbage and you can see where thats gotten you. Then theres the GOP free market system, which is very good unless something goes wrong. And something always goes wrong. And then theres Obamacare, which is the system America should use. It costs money. It costs money because it saves money.

And then some good serious stuff...

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 11:24 AM | What do you think? [1]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

What's said in the movie is truth, while what's said in the real world is fiction...

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at June 2, 2009 12:58 PM

June 1, 2009

Reagan's Fault!

Both Don Luskin and the Heritage Foundry Blog have a little sport with Paul Krugman's column today. The Foundry says "We Didnt Know Krugmans Nobel was for Fiction" and Luskin calls it "One of Paul Krugman's most evil columns yet, this morning, in which he blames Ronald Reagan for today's financial crisis, thanks to his signing of the in 1982,"

Clearly, everything was going along just fine, until that no-good B actor deregulated the banking system. We'd have been fine with Freddie and Fannie, we could handle the CRA, monetary policy is pretty much irrelevant. But the Garn-St. Germain Act set the stage...

But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Hey now, I find that unfair. Reagan was a decent actor IMO, above the B-movie norm. So I'd have phrased it that he was an actor who happened to be in B-movies.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at June 2, 2009 12:59 PM

What's Phase Two Again?

Maya MacGuineas has a superb column in the WaPo today, exploding the myth that the problem with health care is that government is not buying enough of it.

"Health-care reform is entitlement reform" has become a mantra of the Obama administration. The idea is that Congress can add a massive health-care program this year -- covering the uninsured -- and use the same measures that pay for the health reform to fix the broader budget problems. If that sounds too good to be true, there's a reason.

She takes the proponents' arguments seriously enough to refute them. Yes, it would help some to broaden the risk pool; yes it would help some to move patients from the ER to scheduled office visits. But to think that marginal savings would cancel or seriously mitigate the cost of providing coverage for tens of millions of additional recipients is absurd.

Hat-tip: Professor Makiw

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 12:00 PM | What do you think? [0]

Don't click this. Comments (2)