September 30, 2009

Capitalist Bastards of the Day

I'm thinking regular feature... Seriously, grab a box of tissues and read what FedEx did.

Because of caring people and a caring company, a terminally ill little Green Forest girl was flown home Friday by air ambulance from M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, so she can spend her last days surrounded by the people who love her most.

Jada Harper, who turned seven on Sept. 1, has an inoperable malignant tumor in her brain and is in a coma with a ventilator doing her breathing for her. She has been at the famous cancer center in Houston since July, but her situation is now at the point not much else can be done to help her.

Friday afternoon, Jada was flown home to the Ozarks — on a gurney, attached to the machine that breathes for her. FedEx Freight paid the $11,000 bill for the special medical flight her family was unable to afford.

Hat-tip: Don Surber

Posted by John Kranz at 6:46 PM | What do you think? [4]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Way to go FedEx!

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at September 30, 2009 7:37 PM
But johngalt thinks:

JK, didn't you mean BASTERDS?

By the way... it took me a minute to figure out the correct meaning of the phrase "little Green Forest girl."

Posted by: johngalt at October 1, 2009 1:35 PM
But jk thinks:

Lost me jg. But I have not seen the movie.

Posted by: jk at October 1, 2009 4:52 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I haven't seen it either, I just thought that was the hip new way to spell bastard.

Posted by: johngalt at October 2, 2009 4:22 PM

The Norman Borlaug Rap

Good news: Norman Borlaug, Bad news: Rap.

RT @kmanguward Kids rap about the late Norman Borlaug. Contains the phrase "straight outta Iowa."

Posted by John Kranz at 4:49 PM | What do you think? [0]

Making Bush "Look Like a Piker"

Veronique de Rugy: The Bush-era deficits were bad. I know. I spent eight years complaining about them. How does President Obama stack up?

Spoiler alert! Not too good.

Apple As Retailer

Hate to go back to religious wars, but in the spirit of fair play, I thought I should link to Dennis Kneale's Why Apple Is the World's Best Retailer

Kneale is one of my favorite of Kudlow guests and CNBC personalities. He's on-board with Apple and links to a painful, cringeworthy six minute video of how to host your own Windows 7 release party. I think that Microsoft has really hit stride in its television commercials. Did the same crew come up with this? Being a PC is sometimes almost as bad as being a Republican.

But Perry Eidelbus thinks:
My comment sprang from the inability to use open source code components in a product for commercial sale, although I can't recall the details. A commercial software product can be licensed for such use but open source licenses forbid profitable uses. Preposterous!
JK is correct. Why do you not understand the basis of licensing? If you don't like the conditions, then don't accept use of the product, and go ahead and develop your own. Or use purely free code that people don't develop under open source licensing. The truly preposterous notion is that of taking someone's code, which has preset requirements for use, and not adhering to those requirements just because you don't want them but want the benefit of someone else's creation. Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at October 3, 2009 4:06 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Instead of the general term "profitable uses" I should have said "use in a product for sale." And I would never advocate the elimination or dishonoring of copyright licenses.

PE said, "But you cannot sell the fruit of your labor when you have agreed to give up that right." My main contention throughout was that few people in Galt's Gulch would take that deal. It's only an opinion, not a philosophical absolute.

Posted by: johngalt at October 5, 2009 1:12 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

But you called the idea "preposterous" that you cannot sell a derivative work of open source. So you may not be advocating the elimination of copyright or licenses, but you appear to think they shouldn't apply to things that are given for free.

The purest capitalist-anarchist society could still make use of open source. Trade doesn't have to be on the basis of money, you must realize. It can be on the basis of exchanging ideas and labor, even if there's no monetary profit to be had. Profit is not always about money: it's about what you gain. For example, I picked up a few groceries tonight. It was a profitable exchange for me, because the dollars were worth less to me than having the groceries. I may have lost a few dollars, but I gained in the value of my assets (as I see them).

Open source works because no single person can write, say, OpenOffice. As I explained before, thousands of people across the world can each contribute one line, or thousands, and together create a complete product. Each participant profits immensely (if not immeasurably) because he couldn't have done it alone.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at October 5, 2009 11:22 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

One last thing: if only a few people in Galt's Gulch actually make use of open source, so what? The freedom to transact will show what's best.

If it's a good thing and only one person is using it, then he'll benefit from being the only one (this is the concept of the Kirznerian entrepreneur). If it's a bad thing, a free market will show the error of his decisions.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at October 5, 2009 11:25 PM
But johngalt thinks:

What I meant to call "preposterous" was the notion of forbidding profit for any reason - the state of hostility to profit.

If the license guarantees that all additions to the code will always remain in the public sphere and available to anyone, what harm is there in allowing profitable uses, say by inclusion in a hardware product?

Posted by: johngalt at October 7, 2009 1:17 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I thought I had posted a reply, but it didn't seem to go through.

What I meant to call "preposterous" was the notion of forbidding profit for any reason - the state of hostility to profit.
As I explained, profit doesn't have to be monetary. You can profit by the exchange of material goods and services. Open source is one such example of free exchange without the exchange of money. Profit simply means "gain," like when Patrick Henry said that George III could profit from certain historical figures' example.

The condition of no monetary profit is not just any reason, but a good reason. Why should I develop something that can be easily copied and modified, only to have you make money off it? That destroys my incentive to create it in the first place. So it's to your interest to adhere to the conditions I set, otherwise you won't have my work at all.

So you see, the limitations are not arbitrarily set, but for very good reasons.

If the license guarantees that all additions to the code will always remain in the public sphere and available to anyone, what harm is there in allowing profitable uses, say by inclusion in a hardware product?
There is, in fact, open source hardware, with much the same intent in keeping all schematics and design as freely available as open source code.

You don't see as much, though, although not because of the nature of the licensing. It's the difference between hardware and software. Hardware is more expensive to develop and upgrade, especially when collaborating. And when hardware fails, it could be irreparably damaged as opposed to needing a reflash.

It's also much easier for end users to download and install software, without worrying about buying circuit boards and chips.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at October 8, 2009 1:58 PM

Charlie Cook: 33 -50% Chance Dems lose House

James Pethokoukis heard the analyst at a Center for American Progress conference. Among the reasons:

1) Record drop in party ID where a 17 percent D edge has dropped to 5 over the summer.

2) An eight point drop in Obama’s approval rating over same period from 60 to 52.

3) Obama approval among independents has dropped to the low 40s. They are very worried about deficit and hyperactive government. Cook called it “visceral.”

4) Cook notes that more than 80 D House seats are in districts won by McCain in 2008 or Bush in 2004. And 48 are in districts won by both McCain and Bush in 2008 and 2008.

5) Dems could lose “a few” Senate seats, but then set up for lousy 2012 and 2014 where they have to defend a lot of seats.

6) He think Obama should have given Bush more credit for rescuing economy at end of 2008.

Naive and Egotistical

I used to think that of French leaders...

Hat-tip: Gateway Pundit via Insty

Is this fair? I would object to hearsay testimony from a Greta guest on a topic I did not agree with. But I think we can agree it has verisimilitude.

But Boulder Refugee thinks:

The French invented Raison d'Etat. They know naive when they see it.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at September 30, 2009 1:19 PM

September 29, 2009

Cool, Free MP3s

Nope, not self promotion. @AmazonMP3 has a Twitter feed that offers free samplers and discounts. Today it is a Verve Sampler with seven tunes:

A friend of this blog recently asked for recommendations on latin music. You get one Astrud Gilberto and one Antonio Carlos Jobim here -- fer nuthin'!

Posted by John Kranz at 6:00 PM | What do you think? [0]

The State of Economics

Professor Mankiw embeds a video from the Stand Up Economist. I am a big fan, but he plays to academic prejudices a little in this one. Oh, well.

Better still is an ECON-SMACKDOWN between two of my favorites: Arnold Kling and Josh Hendrickson. I bow to both and would not presume to pick a winner, but the discussion is superb. All is expounded, linked and explained on Hendrickson's Everyday Economist blog:

-- Part I
-- Part II

Kling is never afraid to take a position outside of conventional thought and blog friend EE presents a substantive argument for the corpus of macro principles. Good stuff.


Either a certain sign of the apocalypse, or the greatest technological breakthrough of all time. Starbucks® introduces its VIA instant coffee today.

UPDATE: The "taste test" does not start until 10-2, but they are offering tastes today. I had a swaller of the Italian Blend and have to admit that it is very very good. I was denied the chance to prove my superior taste due to my inferior reading skills, but I bet I will be able to tell the difference. Still it is very good and my lovely bride bought a couple of three packs ($2.95/3 -- this ain't Folgers, baby!)

Posted by John Kranz at 12:09 PM | What do you think? [0]

Looking to France for Strength

The Wall Street Journal recaps the French admonishment of President Obama's naive UN speech. Excellent in that it was completely unreported in other American media,

They also add new data. This was not just frustration with a speech. France and the UK tried to get the President to make a strong speech at the UN and confront Iran in tandem. Instead, Obama wanted to take his hope and change act on the road.

Both countries wanted to confront Iran a day earlier at the United Nations. Mr. Obama was, after all, chairing a Security Council session devoted to nonproliferation. The latest evidence of Iran's illegal moves toward acquiring a nuclear weapon was in hand. With the world's leaders gathered in New York, the timing and venue would be a dramatic way to rally international opinion.

President Sarkozy in particular pushed hard. He had been "frustrated" for months about Mr. Obama's reluctance to confront Iran, a senior French government official told us, and saw an opportunity to change momentum. But the Administration told the French that it didn't want to "spoil the image of success" for Mr. Obama's debut at the U.N. and his homily calling for a world without nuclear weapons, according to the Paris daily Le Monde. So the Iran bombshell was pushed back a day to Pittsburgh, where the G-20 were meeting to discuss economic policy.


UPDATE: @MajoratWH (Whose tweets from WH press conferences make Twitter worth signing up for): Gibbs: at Geneva IAEA talks the US will confront Iran "on behalf of the world" and Iran will show "the world" its true nuke intentions.

ThreeSources Style Guide

We have a new addition to the gag (party - state) identifiers for elected officials. Henceforth, please use (D - ACORN) when identifying Senator Al Franken. Mickster:

Did ACORN chicanery elect Al Franken? That's the import of this tactfully phrased Minneapolis Star Tribune story. Franken won by 312 votes. ACORN claimed to have registered 48,000 new Minnesota voters. If just 1% were ineligible but cast ballots, or had ballots cast for them illegally, and survived the recount process ... that's 480 votes, almost certainly overwhelmingly cast for Franken. ... Maybe in pristine Minnesota even ACORN is clean. If so, the state would apparently be an outlier. ...

This of course is added to:

  • Susan Collins (RINO - ME)

  • Olympia Snowe (RINO - ME)

  • Arlen Specter (Whatever - PA)

  • Charles Grassley (R - C2H5OH)

Posted by John Kranz at 10:56 AM | What do you think? [5]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Slight correction:

Arlen Specter (Me, Myself and I - PA)

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at September 29, 2009 11:27 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I don't recall this being mentioned before, but isn't Minnesota the state (or more frighteningly "a state") where you can register at the polls on the day of the election, essentially registering in line? And all you need is someone to vouch for you.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 29, 2009 1:22 PM
But jk thinks:

Good job. br. Both are acceptable. I b'lieve some of our Keystone State friends might have some other, colorful, designations for Sen. Specter

Posted by: jk at September 29, 2009 1:37 PM
But AlexC thinks:

I'm a fan of James Taranto's..... Specter (R2D2)....

Posted by: AlexC at September 30, 2009 12:33 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

That's a slur against Droids everywhere.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at September 30, 2009 5:38 PM

September 28, 2009


Hey bitter clingers, don't forget that weather does not equal climate, or something.

The U.S. Northeast may have the coldest winter in a decade because of a weak El Nino, a warming current in the Pacific Ocean, according to Matt Rogers, a forecaster at Commodity Weather Group.

“Weak El Ninos are notorious for cold and snowy weather on the Eastern seaboard,” Rogers said in a Bloomberg Television interview from Washington. “About 70 percent to 75 percent of the time a weak El Nino will deliver the goods in terms of above-normal heating demand and cold weather. It’s pretty good odds.”

Warming in the Pacific often means fewer Atlantic hurricanes and higher temperatures in the U.S. Northeast during January, February and March, according to the National Weather Service. El Nino occurs every two to five years, on average, and lasts about 12 months, according to the service.

Of course if it's warmer than the coldest winter in the past decade, that's proof for global warming. So there.

But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

New York state's last winter was already brutal enough. January had only seven days who high temperatures hit or exceeded 32 F.

But you know what global warming alarmists say? Global warming will produce hotter summers and...colder winters. You just can't win against their junk science.

But to poke a hole in their nonsense, this summer was unusually cold. The August average was four degrees below normal, which in meteorology is huge. We never hit 100 in the city, and only several days broke 90 (in contrast to the two week-long heatwaves that NYC consistently has).

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 28, 2009 10:41 PM
But jk thinks:

Ding Dong The Stick is Dead!

Posted by: jk at September 29, 2009 2:05 PM

'Bout That Peak Oil...

BP announces `giant' oil find in Gulf of Mexico

LONDON (AP) -- BP PLC said Wednesday that it had made a "giant" oil discovery in the Gulf of Mexico but had not yet determined the size and commercial potential of the find.

The well, in Keathley Canyon block 102 about 250 miles (400 kms) southeast of Houston, is in 4,132 feet (1,259 meters) of water, the company said.

The Tiber well was drilled to a total depth of 35,055 feet (10,685 meters), making it one of the deepest wells ever drilled by the oil and gas industry, BP said.

BP has a 62 percent interest in Tiber, while Petrobras holds 20 percent and ConocoPhillips has 18 percent


UPDATE: A ThreeSources friend tells me that the wife of another ThreeSources reader played a large part in the find -- well done!

Ding, Dong The Stick is Dead!

Funny, when other people get the data, global warming always looks a little less dire.

The graph above shows what happens to the “Hockey Stick” after additional tree ring data, recently released (after a long and protracted fight over data access) is added to the analysis of Hadley’s archived tree ring data in Yamal, Russia.

All of the sudden, it isn’t the “hottest period in 2000 years” anymore.

CO GOP GUV Primary

Okay, who's paying attention? I have an inbox full of donation requests and I think I am following all the candidates on Twitter.

I cannot say anybody has caught my eye just yet. (Nor can I claim to have exerted the effort it deserves yet.) So, ThreeSources, Who? Why?

Colorado Posted by John Kranz at 6:30 PM | What do you think? [1]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Can't say that any of them have captured my imagination. Name recognition award goes to Scott McInnis, who was not a bad representative. He might be able to beat Ritter, mainly because Ritter has been so bad.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at September 29, 2009 11:33 AM

Nanny State Beer

A toast to the cradle of liberty! BBC:

A brewery has launched a low alcohol beer called Nanny State after being branded irresponsible for creating the UK's "strongest beer".

Scottish brewer BrewDog, of Fraserburgh, was criticised for Tokyo* which has an alcohol content of 18.2%.

Campaigners welcomed the 1.1% alcohol Nanny State but said the name showed a lack of appreciation of the problem

I think the name shows tremendous appreciation of the problem!

'at-tip: @AriArmstrong

Posted by John Kranz at 5:12 PM | What do you think? [1]
But Keith thinks:

"... failing to acknowledge the seriousness of the alcohol problem facing Scotland..."

... however, the advent of Tokyo* Beer likely sparked a spontaneous ticker-tape parade in nearby Ireland...

There's an almost ironic sense I'm having here of this being marketed shortly after the death of Ted Kennedy. I could picture an ad campaign, with the former Stentator Kennedy holding up a Tokyo* and intoning: "Errah... I don't always drink beer... frankly, I tend toward Chivas or Glenfiddich... but when I drink beer, I prefer Tokyo*... errah, stay sloshed, errah, thirsty, my friends..."

I'm not going to restart the debate on good versus bad beer, but I am going to do my fair share to keep this company in business and pick up a six-pack. Such anti-Big Brother sentiment must be rewarded...

Posted by: Keith at September 28, 2009 5:39 PM

Bad Tweet

Well Bad news, good news, but

@JimPethokoukis: Just talked to VERY smart insider: 1) VAT trial balloon for real; 2) HC is in very bad shape

I'm not weeping for #2, but the current Dem majority could push through a VAT and europe-ize our economy quickly.

JimmyP on The Trial Balloon

But Boulder Refugee thinks:

In the VAT silver lining department:

1. VAT would be the biggest electoral mistake sinc "Read my lips."
2. Consumption taxes make everyone pay the same rate and (hopefully) would make the class warfare crowd sensitive to tax-and-spend proposals.

The Refugees new blog handle: "Pollyanna"

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at September 28, 2009 5:05 PM
But jk thinks:

@anna: I love consumption taxes, but he VAT is not. The amorphous "value add" is dictated by government and cleverly shielded from the customers who pay it. Where enacted, they are loved by governments because they are easily raised without direct vision of the consequences.

Plus, this is the Fair Taxers nightmare in that the income tax will stick around -- this is on top of current revenue models. E. Vil.

Posted by: jk at September 28, 2009 5:24 PM

September 26, 2009

Apollo and Dionysus

This Internet thingy is going to be big.

It's the weekend, listen to Ayn Rand compare the big news events of 1969: Apollo 11 vs. Woodstock. Seventy minutes, great stuff!

Hat-tip: Insty

Posted by John Kranz at 3:30 PM | What do you think? [12]
But jk thinks:

We may be getting deep into deceased equine territory, but your response hews pretty closely to my ideal. I called for a libertarian group based on the NRA. It would support candidates from either party who stood for its ideals.

I was fooled into believing that GOP == liberty in the 90s and I will not make that mistake again. By the same token, I watched the gooberheads at Reason tear down a string of Republican candidates and that got us, wait for it, President Barack Obama."

So, yeah, principled objectivists and libertarians must avoid blind partisanship. But they must also recognize political exigencies. And if that sometimes means voting for the lesser of two evils -- I'm all for less evil.

Posted by: jk at September 29, 2009 10:44 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

But what has voting for the lesser of two evils given us? You're still trapped with the less-bad devil, who will still plague and rule you. The solution is not to appeal to the center to win elections, especially when you can't build a third party into something meaningful. Democrats and Republicans have both made it clear that they want to continue their two-party system. So the only solution is to cast off our chains.

Would things have been any better under a President McCain, who you may recall touted his own $300 billion mortgage bailout plan? With a Democrat-controlled Congress, it's not as if they'd extend Bush's tax cuts; it's hard enough for them to raise the AMT cap! So just imagine how we'd have crept toward health care "reform," bit by bit, hence Glenn Beck's frog thing.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 29, 2009 1:39 PM
But jk thinks:

My suggestion, Perry, is that if the liberty minded engaged in the current two-party system, the choice would not be Obama vs. McCain. I would have preferred Giuliani, and perhaps a sizeable libertarian wing could get a Phil Gramm or a Jeff Flake in the mix. Maybe James Webb on the D-Side.

Senator McCain was my least favorite GOP candidate since John C Fremont, but do I wish he had won. Oh yeah, much less evil.

You'd have had a bunch of bailouts and nonsense. But the secured debt holders of GM and Chrysler would not have been mauled by the Executive branch, we would not be discussing "public option" health insurance, and we sure as hell would not have heard the ridiculous appeasement speech at the UN.

Posted by: jk at September 29, 2009 1:57 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

We've talked about Giuliani before, and he has not repudiated his "Freedom is about authority" words. His style, to this day, is all about that, so there's no way that libertarians or Objectivists could have supported him.

You say, "Oh yeah, much less evil," but in the next sentence, "You'd have had a bunch of bailouts and nonsense." So we may not have had socialized health care, but I find it strange that you say "much less evil" when we'd still be saddled with debt that encourages people to start dumping our currency.

China has been grumbling for months, and look at the dollar vis-Ă -vis the yen. Before the news reported the probability, I already knew the Bank of Japan would intervene. But it's not strengthening the dollar by reducing the supply, it's that Japan will inflate their currency faster than we're inflating our own.

And with Obama, the "public option" has been taken off the table. I am not surprised. This makes it possible to pass the bill under the flag of "bipartisanship," and the "public option" can be triggered at a future date once private insurers have been regulated into ineffectiveness.

The one thing I'll concede is Obama's absurd, self-aggrandizing speeches around the globe, but those are small potatoes compared to what he's doing to us back home.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 30, 2009 12:00 AM
But jk thinks:

Yup, Giuliani failed to repudiate something he said in 1992 to your satisfaction, so better to have President Obama than a rabid supply-sider. QED.

Interesting, though: I met a friend-of-a-friend who was highly placed in the Giuliani campaign. He told me that I was spun. Hizzoner spent a gob of dough in New Hampshire and Republicans would not overlook his socially liberal values. jk loses ten points.

Posted by: jk at September 30, 2009 11:53 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:
Yup, Giuliani failed to repudiate something he said in 1992 to your satisfaction, so better to have President Obama than a rabid supply-sider. QED.
Why would he repudiate it? It's his style to this very day. He was an authoritarian then and still is now.

Stop falling for the either-or fallacy that the entrenched parties want us to believe. Don't be so ready to accept what they put down in front of you -- demand better. Just because Giuliani presents himself as a "supply-sider" doesn't mean he's pro-freedom.

Interesting, though: I met a friend-of-a-friend who was highly placed in the Giuliani campaign. He told me that I was spun. Hizzoner spent a gob of dough in New Hampshire and Republicans would not overlook his socially liberal values. jk loses ten points.
That and I ascribe to the hypothesis that non-registered NH Democrats voted as independents for McCain in the primary, to give momentum to the old and wishy-washy candidate that Obama could beat.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 30, 2009 3:25 PM

Devil's Dog Brew

If any ThreeSourcers enjoy both coffee and supporting those who wear the nation's uniform, you can shop at It was started by a retired Marine and coffee enthusiast.

In addition to coffee, they have an "Operation MRE" package with Coffee and nuts and sunflower seeds and Tabasco sauce and t-shirts. The website notes, however, "The Coffee Mug, Gerber® Folding Knife & US Marine Corps Edition Operation Enduring Freedom 9MM Beretta® which are pictured are all good pieces of gear but these are mine and not included in the Operation MRE package."

My friend, Hank, (Semper Fi!) helped me order some coffee for me and agreed to ship the kits to servicemembers. Great project Sir, good luck!

Hat-tip: Instapundit

But Hank thinks:

Many Thanks, I'd like to tell them who this is from. I'm sending it to the boss I used to work for, he's actually in this story, (I post to a blog as the Marine Contributor) Claire's been a great friend. He's deployed to Afghanistan and I might even get a few great pics to share.

With Utmost Respect, Semper Fi, Hank

Posted by: Hank at September 27, 2009 3:12 PM
But jk thinks:

This gets better every minute. My blog brothers and I disagree on almost everything around here.

Yet we are unanimously in awe of the courage and sacrifices of the men and women who defend the freedom we cherish. I'll send you personal information under separate cover.

Posted by: jk at September 28, 2009 10:38 AM


I don't have explicit permission, per se, but I am gonna roll with this. I've known blog friend SugarChuck for many moons. And I am going to share this one just as it came:

The French president mocks the American president for being foolish and gutless. Change we can believe in!

Sent from my iPhone

We might need to update our list of great Frenchmen...

UPDATE Check this headline in The Telegraph (The Telegraph!):

Barack Obama: President Pantywaist restores the satellite states to their former owner

UPDATE II: A good blog friend agrees that it is time to update the good frog list. The real story seems to be the lack of coverage in the American press. One gets tired of saying "What if this had happened to President Bush?" But one wonders all the same.

And sc sends a link to Michael Gerson's devastating WaPo piece..Gerson waited for his anger to subside -- good thing. SC adds: "Comparing what he did to high school kids and mock UN is an insult to highschool kids."

But johngalt thinks:

While President Clinton's U.N. representative, Madeline Albright told that world body of redistribution that America "doesn't want to be the world's sole superpower anymore" or something to that effect. Under President Bush the great giveaway was put on hold for 8 years. Now that the U.N.s fellow travelers are back in the White House... EVERYTHING MUST GO! They have the same plan for America's place in the world as they do for productive individual American's place in the country: Donor. Since no other nation on Earth has what it takes to become a fellow superpower the only way for them to become equals with America is to willfully weaken America, in every possible way. It's the Tall Poppy Syndrome on a worldwide scale.

Q: How much wealth can be given away in four years?
A: We're about to find out.

Posted by: johngalt at September 27, 2009 11:02 AM

September 25, 2009

Today in New London

Don Surber informs that the great development and jobs promised with the theft of Susette Kelo's land have yet to materialize.

But weeds have.

SCOTUS Posted by John Kranz at 8:02 PM | What do you think? [0]

Your Friday Horrible

I read about this, but one really has to see it:

"...this balance between freedom and safety." Really. Hat-tip: Ann Althouse who juxtaposes it with Beavis and Butt-Head clips

Price Contriols Don't Work, Huh?

Remember when the 111th Congress stepped up to protect us little guys from the mean old credit card companies? They were going to dictate terms that are fair. Scrivener notes "Politicians shocked! Price controls produce the same result as always."

After passing the new law by an overwhelming vote, it hailed its achievement as a great bipartisan act of consumer protection.*

But now Reps. Barney Frank and Carolyn Maloney, the prime political movers behind the new restrictions, are shocked and appalled to find that credit card issuers are raising interest rates before the effective date of the new law, as per their press release ...

Pew Charitable Trust reports that interest rates have spiked by an average of 20% on credit cards representing more than 91% of the $864 billion in outstanding credit card balances. It’s clear that credit card companies are taking advantage of this period between the signing of my bill and the current effective date,” Rep. Maloney said. “The breadth and depth of the rate hikes happening now point to the need for faster consumer protections. Americans need relief now.”

I just hope that there are no unintended consequences of their dictating terms to health insurers. Nah -- certainly, they've figured all that out...

But Keith thinks:

"... a great bipartisan act of consumer protection." A great act of meddling with the markets.

"... Americans need relief now..." Is there such a thing as Pyrrhic relief? One more relief like this, and we'll be totally bankrupt. Oh wait, we are already. Nevermind.

Is it not amazing that, no matter what the government does in its efforts to manipulate the economy, it always - WITHOUT FAIL - has exactly the opposite effect. Current economy policy may be proof that insanity is truly defined by doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting the results to change from prior attempts.

Posted by: Keith at September 26, 2009 12:47 PM
But jk thinks:

In light of our pragmatism debate, I am curious exactly how bipartisan the vote was. Anybody (well, everybody) better at this than I am? I am trying to find the bill and the roll call. I am guessing that it's "the usual suspects" in the GOP giving cover.

Posted by: jk at September 26, 2009 1:07 PM
But jk thinks:

Nope. Mea Maxima Culpa! The bill passed the Senate 90 - 5. Bipartisan as a pay hike!

Posted by: jk at September 26, 2009 1:09 PM

The Science is Settled! It's just that we lost it.

Read a little Karl Popper. His clarity of thought, reason, and prose is intensely satisfying. I'd read him beating up on Hegel or dictating scientific epistemology with equal glee. The man is awesome.

Then, when you have a basic feel for Popperian epistemology, read this tale about the surface data that "proved" global warming: Patrick Michaels's The Dog Ate Global Warming.

Now begins the fun. Warwick Hughes, an Australian scientist, wondered where that “+/–” came from, so he politely wrote Phil Jones in early 2005, asking for the original data. Jones’s response to a fellow scientist attempting to replicate his work was, “We have 25 years or so invested in the work. Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it?”

Reread that statement, for it is breathtaking in its anti-scientific thrust. In fact, the entire purpose of replication is to “try and find something wrong.” The ultimate objective of science is to do things so well that, indeed, nothing is wrong.

It seems other scientists would like to access the data set (Popper would approve). But they have been told a changing sequence of storylines for almost as long as the planet has been cooling. Now, it seems the data do not exist.

One word. Fraud.

But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

"He who controls the past controls the present."

In my teens, I was trained to be a scientist -- not in economics or social sciences, but in "hard" sciences, mainly chemistry. I can completely affirm that "Why should I make the data available to you" is the most bogus excuse I have ever heard of. What is this junk scientist afraid of? Is he afraid history will record him as the Pons & Fleischmann of man-driven global warming hysteria?

That excuse means that a paper could never get published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, at least not one of any worth. But I suppose these junk scientists are more interested in getting on nationally televised nightly news as the next "authority" on global warming.

In my first and only college chemistry class, I received top marks for my laboratory log book, something like 110/114. I not only got almost everything correct, but I also showed my work precisely. I was quite proud when mentioning this to my high school chemistry teacher, but she expected nothing less of a good scientist-to-be. Now, in the real world, that less-than-perfect score wouldn't have been the end. A team member, colleague, even a competing peer would have noticed my mistake or questioned my procedure, allowing me to refine my explanation or redo the experiment until it passed all scrunity.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 25, 2009 4:25 PM

Gitmo And Review Corner

We're saving database entries by doubling up -- there's a recession thingy you know!

Jennifer Rubin -- let me steal Insty's words -- rubs it in that the Administration has suddenly learned that closing Guantanamo Bay is a wee bit harder than giving a speech.

It was Obama who made closing Guantanamo the cornerstone of his national-security agenda. It was he who, with great fanfare, announced the decision to close the facility before all the data had been gathered. It was he who again and again derided his predecessor’s administration and the arguments against shuttering Guantanamo (it was only a “false” choice between our values and security, he lectured us). It was Obama who couldn’t resist the urge to debate the former vice president–and then lost the confidence of the American people. And indeed, just this week, he was preening at the UN:

You'll want to read the whole thing; there's more abuse where that comes from.

And you'll also want to put "Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay" on your Netflix queue if, like me, you missed it. I watched it last night and laughed aloud through much of it. If you have not seen any (how many are there?) I would start with H&K Go to White Castle, but this one was almost as good.

I don't need to warn you that this is not intellectual entertainment, nor is it family friendly (well, The Manson Family...) Call it a guilty pleasure, but I find these films fresh and funny. The "bad boy" films that grew out of 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up leave me cold. Harold & Kumar are no cleaner and no more moral -- but they are a lot funnier.

I tensed up when the bumbling President Bush character came on. But in the situation, he comes off pretty well. Totally stupid, but up to speed with the morality we expect from other key figures. He even gets several good lines in.

Four stars, if your tastes go that way at all.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 3:31 PM | What do you think? [0]

September 24, 2009

Save us from the Libertoids!

One of my favorite guys named Perry in the whole world is Perry de Havilland of Samizdata. I have been reading him probably as long as any other blogger, and one of my few regrets in life is that I missed a chance to attend one of the early Samizdata bloggers' bashes. I was in London at the time but could not put the pieces together.

That said, he does exasperate me with his refusal to accept political exigencies. I don't know if it is his being British and used to parliamentary politics. There is no shortage of fellow travelers over here.

He links to Michael Barone's " Can the Republicans win the House in 2010?" and claims the question is "would it matter?" Because George W. Bush and John McCain were not Lysander Spooner incarnate, it does not matter whether John Boehner or Nancy Pelosi holds the speaker's gavel.

Until the Big State Tax and Regulate schmucks like McCain, Romney and their entire ilk are explicitly repudiated and figuratively (and in a perfect world, literally) thrown into Boston Harbour, I will tell you what difference re-electing the party that gave the world George Bush (either) will make... No meaningful difference at all.

Obama is the bastard child of the both parties, make no mistake about it. Nothing he is doing now would have been even within the realm of political possibility if the state had not already been vastly expanded with Republicans in the Whitehouse.

The ThreeSources pragmatist left a comment suggesting that a little blessed gridlock could impede some very bad ideas.

Besides, they don't even know how to spell "harbor..."

But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

You nearly had the Greatest Blog Post Ever, until the 14th word. :)

I have to agree with him. Though I haven't seen the clip, I understand Glenn Beck was trying to make the same point, using a (rubber?) frog boiled so slowly that it wouldn't notice what's being done to it.

"If all you do is "stop the Democrats" by electing Republicans who will NOT shrink the state in any meaningful way, but will just increase the size of it a bit less than the Democrats, all you are voting for is how big a bite you have to take of the same shit sandwich."

The problem with Republicans taking back Congress is that they're just as spend-happy. In the 1990s, tax revenues were increasing faster than they could spend it. That is why the budget was eventually "balanced," not because of this myth of responsible spending or a "peace dividend." But this time, we don't have a looming global economic surge to pin our hopes on.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 24, 2009 10:20 PM
But jk thinks:

One of. One of.

My two favorite Perrys both let the perfect be the enemy of the good I fear. We have the system we have and must protect our liberties with the tools at hand. To split off into a thousand "People's Front of Judea" groups and have zero effect does not appeal to me.

Posted by: jk at September 25, 2009 10:21 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Ah, "one of" it was. :)

Perry and I don't believe there is a choice. "Perfect" and "good" are both musts when it comes to government, and we accept nothing less. Right now, there's no "good" about the Republicans. Wasn't 2001-2006 enough evidence that they're plenty bad in their own way? Sure, they don't want to raise taxes, and some (but not all) want to roll back the environmental suicide pills, but in the end it's allying with Beelzebub to defeat Mephistopheles. If the GOP were entirely of Goldwater types, I might be convinced to support the imperfect against the evil, and work toward the perfect. Right now it's just one evil against another, so right now, at this moment, I demand nothing less than perfect. I refuse to accept the two choices I'm given: I will make my third.

Take Mark Levin as an example. He talks a lot about individual liberty and free trade, but then he caveats with phrases like "as long as you don't break any fundamental laws and live a moral life." So now who gets to decide what a "fundamental law" is, and what is "moral"? As Jefferson put it, "Law is often but the tyrant's will," and a tyrant can be a majority of the population as much as it can be a single individual. I don't trust the GOP any more than Democrats in wielding the force of law.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 25, 2009 11:53 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Hmmm. Excellent arguments on both sides of this one. But time marches on and elections are held every other year for congress and every other congress for president. Unless you are George Soros and can proffer your own Manchurian Candidate you have to take what is offered. In the last election I voted for McCain/Palin knowing the evils of McCain yet counting on Palin's influence to make him "less bad." In retrospect, since she couldn't even influence the dunderhead's campaign, it was a futile strategy.

Looking to the future I am encouraged by candidates such as Rand Paul in Kentucky and the "We're not interested in government fixes, we're interested in freedom" speechifying of Sarah Palin. A single charismatic trendsetter can do more to re-shape a party's purpose than all the blog posts and policy papers on the face of the Earth. From what I can see "from my front porch" she's off to a great start.

Posted by: johngalt at September 25, 2009 12:18 PM
But jk thinks:

I don't think we are likely to solve the larger issue of pragmatism versus purity for another week or so.

But I am extremely comfortable taking on the narrow case that de Havilland disputes. We are not talking about Bush, McCain, Trent Lott, Denny Hastart or Tom DeLay. The debate resolution is:

"Resolved, that a GOP led 112th House would be no better for liberty than another Democratic Congress."

You can be as mad at the Republicans as you want, but can you really say -- as de Havilland does that next January it make no difference whether Speaker Pelosi or Leader Boehner wields the gavel? That forcing President Obama to work with adversarial committee chairs would not slow down his agenda?

This is not defense of pragmatism or Frank Meyers's Fusionism, this is an assertion that a change in this one election would matter very much.

Posted by: jk at September 25, 2009 3:22 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

"you have to take what is offered"

As I said, I refuse to accept the two choices. This country was founded on the principle of not having to eat a slightly less bad Crap Sandwich, and we are rapidly approaching our equivalent of 1775.

"Resolved, that a GOP led 112th House would be no better for liberty than another Democratic Congress."

It wouldn't be. The "Bush tax cuts" are expiring no matter what, and the current stock of Republicans are arguing "health care reform" that further increases government power. See what they're doing? Instead of fighting for Americans' natural right to transact peacefully with others (e.g. buy insurance policies from companies in another state), they're accusing Democrats' proposals of reducing Medicrap benefits. In fairness, the reduced benefits mean that people will turn to AARP and other "supplemental insurance" providers. But it also means that Republicans are asking for our support because they'll keep government big, just not as big as the Democrats would. That is no choice.

"That forcing President Obama to work with adversarial committee chairs would not slow down his agenda?"

It's not like Republicans have any principles under which they'll stalemate Obama into frustration. They'll play ball so that Obama will sign their bills in exchange for GOP leadership letting his watered-down legislation go through. Recent history shows us what will happen: has data on the federal government's growth under Clinton and a Republican-controlled Congress.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 25, 2009 4:43 PM

Obama the Nationalist

I was struck by something the president said in his address to the U.N. yesterday. He is so transparent it's difficult not to notice the hidden meaning in what he says. The specific passage I refer to is one where, by way of explaining how " the year 2009 ... the interests of nations and peoples are shared" he supposedly acts in the interest of his nation and his people.

"Now, like all of you, my responsibility is to act in the interest of my nation and my people, and I will never apologize for defending those interests."

Like me, FNC's Sean Hannity was also troubled by this.

"He'll never apologize? This from the president who has made an apology an art form? Prancing from one world capital to another pointing out America's flaws?"

But I have a different take. One need not apologize for actions not taken. His mere responsibility to act in the interest of his nation and his people is no evidence that he will do so in the future. He certainly hasn't done so to date, at least not directly. All of his policy goals and accomplishments have been proven by history to be the wrong approach to the problems they purport to solve. And now, the nuclear disarmament of the world? He calls it "hope." I call it "making a wish."

When nuclear arms are outlawed only outlaws will have nuclear arms.

Live at the Coffeehouse


jk solo on John Blackburn and Karl Suessdorf's "Moonlight in Vermont;"
young turk Ian is back in the guest slot

Realistic technologies

The German automakers' laudable "go diesel" media blitz continues with a review of Audi's Q7 TDI and Mercedes' GL320 Bluetec. Reviewer James Schembari must be some sort of genius:

The diesel has become so seamless and the mileage so good that you can’t help but wonder if the technology could become the most realistic high-mileage solution for large passenger vehicles until other technologies are perfected.

This observation isn't notable so much for it's brilliance as its obviousness, and its similarity to other such observations. For example:

- The automobile has become so comfortable and convenient that you can't help but wonder if the technology could replace the horse and buggy until other technologies are perfected.

- The electric lamp has become so safe and economical that you can't help but wonder if the technology could replace the kerosene lamp until other technologies are perfected.

- Centralized generation of electric power from fission fuels has become so clean and ubiquitous that you can't help but wonder if the technology could replace fossil fuel generation UNTIL OTHER TECHNOLOGIES ARE PERFECTED.

I wonder if the Germans will ever show us the way on that too.

But jk thinks:

But realism implies reason, which the "green" community lacks. Don Surber has more on Save the planet, kill an eagle.

Diesel just doesn't "feel" as good as an electric vehicle full of heavy metals and toxic acids, powered by electricity from an old coal plant - now that's environmentalism!

Posted by: jk at September 24, 2009 1:42 PM

Democrats want to explain to them, "Shut up."

Andrew Klaven on Pajamas TV - "Today I'd like to explain the liberal argument: "Shut up."

All around the world as leftism has failed everywhere, shut-upery has been called to its defense. The full-blown leftists, the communists, say "shut up" with prisons and guns. But western leftists, laboring under traditions of freedom, are subtler.


So now, the left is in charge of America and "shut up" is on the march.

4.5 minutes of acuity.

The Rich get Richer

And the poor get richer, too! Don't tell anybody, it ruins a great meme.

James Pethokoukis links to new research that shows Income inequality in America is overstated. Robert Gordon:

The rise in American inequality has been exaggerated both in magnitude and timing. Commentators lament the large gap between the growth rates of real median household income and of private sector productivity. This paper shows that a conceptually consistent measure of this growth gap over 1979 to 2007 is only one-tenth of the conventional measure

Alan Reynolds's superb "Income and Wealth" does a great job counteracting this as well

But Keith thinks:

Exhibit B on the the same meme: it has been told to me (I've never really taken the time to check it out myself) that if you were to compile a list of the 500 richest people in any given nation, and compare that to the same list from a generation before, you'd see the same names on both lists - either the same person or a descendant. In most countries, the wealthy class stays fixed. No so in America, which has far more turnover on that list than other nations. Average people penetrate wealth and worldly success far more frequently here than elsewhere, be it England, India, or Thailand.

That would seem to be the result of individual economic freedoms and our being a more classless society (trust fund babies notwithstanding). Not only to the rich get richer and the poor get richer here, but each person's place in that hierarchy is far less fixed. Thoughts?

Posted by: Keith at September 24, 2009 12:08 PM
But jk thinks:

Underscores and exclamation marks, Keith! In a free society people move among the quintiles -- another reason the income inequality attacks are so specious.

Posted by: jk at September 24, 2009 1:10 PM

September 23, 2009

Otequay of the Ayday

I found today's Wikiquote 'Quote of the day' to be highly satisfying, and not just because it was accompanied by 19th century French artist Jules Joseph Lefebvre's 1870 oil on canvas work entitled "La Vérité" (Truth). [Who said nothing good ever came from France? OK, in the future I'll use the qualifier "since the 19th century.]

In an ideal University, as I conceive it, a man should be able to obtain instruction in all forms of knowledge, and discipline in the use of all the methods by which knowledge is obtained. In such a University, the force of living example should fire the student with a noble ambition to emulate the learning of learned men, and to follow in the footsteps of the explorers of new fields of knowledge. And the very air he breathes should be charged with that enthusiasm for truth, that fanaticism of veracity, which is a greater possession than much learning; a nobler gift than the power of increasing knowledge; by so much greater and nobler than these, as the moral nature of man is greater than the intellectual; for veracity is the heart of morality. ~ Thomas Henry Huxley {Emphasis from the original.]

Thomas Henry Huxley (4 May 1825 - 29 June 1895) was a British biologist and grandfather of Aldous. A brief review of his personal Wikiquote page reveals him to be nearly on par with R.A. Heinlein for quotability.

But T. Greer thinks:

Before Perry says it -- Bastiat was French, was he not?

Posted by: T. Greer at September 23, 2009 11:09 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Indeed Bastiat was. That's why I call him "the penultimate great Frenchman." Pasteur was the last.

And unless someone can think of someone other than Voltaire, we could call Bastiat "the second great Frenchman."

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 24, 2009 9:14 AM
But jk thinks:

Mai Non! Alexis de Tocqueville and Marquis de Lafayette must be put way up the list. Not necessarily above Frederic, but he's not as lonely as we imply.

Posted by: jk at September 24, 2009 10:46 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

OK, I'll accept those two, which would make de Tocqueville the penultimate great Frenchman. I also forgot Jean-Baptiste Say.

On the mathematics side, Blaise Pascal should be there. I suppose we should consider Descartes, more for his mathematics than his philosophy.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 24, 2009 11:11 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes, and all preceded the 20th century did they not? But dare not forget the name of the 19th century French figure painter Jules Joseph Lefebvre.

"What a wonderful world it is that has girls in it!" - R.A.H.

Posted by: johngalt at September 24, 2009 12:28 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

I am a fan of French Historian and Nazi resistance fighter, Marc Bloch, most famous for "The Historian's Craft". He died in 1940, I believe.

Posted by: T. Greer at September 24, 2009 8:03 PM

Quote of the Day

Re Quaddaffy. Now I know why I lost all those women to crazy dictators. I mean, it's not just the uniform. It's the stories that they tell. -- @JonahNRO (Jonah Goldberg)
Posted by John Kranz at 6:07 PM | What do you think? [0]

Missing Al Hunt

I appreciate The Wall Street Journal's efforts to allow contrary views on its editorial page. Al Hunt used to exasperate me, but his columns were generally worth a read and some serious thought.

Thomas "Whassa Matta Wif Kansas?" Frank, conversely, leaves me completely cold. He seems separated from facts and reason. One might as well wander over to the Huffington Post -- the humor is much better. Today, he pens a column about those nutty Tea Party protesters who don't realize how great more government is. He actually calls for Democrats to engage, for which he deserves props. But the column is pretty pedestrian and adds little to the debate.

Why do I link, then? Rupert's revenge -- the article is accompanied by THE WORST, MOST HORRIBLY AWFUL picture of Speaker Pelosi that you will ever see. (Warning: don't let the kids see this, they won't sleep for weeks!)

But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

What horror movie was that taken from?!

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 24, 2009 9:15 AM

All Hail Harsanyi!

Well, we lost John Stossel to FOX, but at least Colorado has David Harsanyi. He's not any more impressed with our Science Czar's paternalism than I. I excerpt 'cause I do, but you have to read this one all the way through.

There is one question we all have to answer: What's more important? Negligibly reducing "carbon pollution" through coercive policies or protecting personal freedom and allowing real markets to work? That's the tradeoff. Parenting won't change the question.

Remember when George W. Bush's chief of staff, Andrew Card, claimed that the president saw the American people "as we think about a 10-year- old child"? His comment, understandably, caused much mockery and disdain.

The problem, apparently, wasn't the paternalist sentiment — it was the parent offering it. What we needed was a brainy, grown-up administration to harangue and regulate us into submission.

Hat-tip: Instapundit

Eleven Minutes With Don Luskin

A great video.

I have liked the Kudlow Show for so long, but CNBC is devoted to combat and squabbling. It is nice to hear Luskin's thoughts without two "opposing" guests interrupting. I was chilled by his speculation that the last two decades of growth in freedom are gone for good and that young investors will learn a bitter lesson about how the world works when governments are not friendly to capital.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:17 PM | What do you think? [0]

You Have to Love the NYT

From the NYT's coverage of Palin's speech in Asia:

A number of people who heard the speech in a packed hotel ballroom, which was closed to the media, said Mrs. Palin spoke from notes for 90 minutes and that she was articulate, well-prepared and even compelling.

[Emphasis added.]

Politics Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 12:40 PM | What do you think? [7]
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

As an Ex-Governess ... and what candidate for president would NOT rail against the opposition presidency. How many Governor-cum-Presidents cooed over their opposition? Perhaps Reagan ...

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at September 23, 2009 1:25 PM
But jk thinks:

Used to be a point of protocol that "politics stopped at the water's edge" and in Asia, we're all 'merkuns.

It was not that people did not oppose -- it's that they were criticized for it. Don't know that I miss the good old days, but it seems a bit inconsistent.

Posted by: jk at September 23, 2009 2:22 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Hmmm. Did she call President Obama an "idiot?" Did she say he is "illegitimate?" How about "he's not MY president" or "I apologize to the world" for him?

Not exactly.

Mr. Goode, an African-American who said he did some campaign polling for President Obama, said Mrs. Palin mentioned President Obama three times on Wednesday.

"And there was nothing derogatory in it, no sleight of hand, and believe me, I was listening for that," he said, adding that Mrs. Palin referred to Mr. Obama as "our president," with the emphasis on "our."

She did say that she was against the Obama administration's tariff on Chinese tires.

Posted by: johngalt at September 23, 2009 4:15 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Personally I liked the excerpts in this report.

Palin, Sounding Like Ron Paul, Takes on the Fed

Posted by: johngalt at September 23, 2009 4:21 PM
But johngalt thinks:

WSJ has reviewed a recording of the speech. Story here.

"We got into this mess because of government interference in the first place," the former Republican U.S. vice presidential candidate said Wednesday at a conference sponsored by investment firm CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets. "We're not interested in government fixes, we're interested in freedom," she added.

Dunno brother Keith. She's giving you a run for my money and support as president in 2012.

Posted by: johngalt at September 23, 2009 4:26 PM
But jk thinks:

Good reporting, jg. I guess I misconstrued early reports. I cannot find them to shift blame.

Condi 08, 12, 16, 20 for me. But you might have better patronage position with Brother Keith.

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

September 22, 2009

Citizens or Subjects?

Or, a better title might be "Gimme That Old Time Paternalism..."

Energy Secretary Stephen Chu "sees Americans as unruly teenagers and the Administration as the parent that will have to teach them a few lessons." WSJ:

“The American public…just like your teenage kids, aren’t acting in a way that they should act,” Dr. Chu said. “The American public has to really understand in their core how important this issue is.” (In that case, the Energy Department has a few renegade teens of its own.)

The administration aims to teach them—literally. The Environmental Protection Agency is focusing on real children. Partnering with the Parent Teacher Organization, the agency earlier this month launched a cross-country tour of 6,000 schools to teach students about climate change and energy efficiency.

“We’re showing people across the country how energy efficiency can be part of what they do every day,” said EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. “Confronting climate change, saving money on our utility bills, and reducing our use of heavily-polluting energy can be as easy as making a few small changes.”

Don't. Know. What. To. Say. Anymore.

But johngalt thinks:

"... a few small changes."




Posted by: johngalt at September 23, 2009 11:50 AM

Perverse Incentives

Another great argument for free trade is the conversion of tax avoidance to productivity: the same argument that is (appropriately) made for simplifying the domestic tax code.

Professor Mankiw links to a WSJ article that defies credulity. How's this for "Broken Windows:"

BALTIMORE -- Several times a month, Transit Connect vans from a Ford Motor Co. factory in Turkey roll off a ship here shiny and new, rear side windows gleaming, back seats firmly bolted to the floor.

Their first stop in America is a low-slung, brick warehouse where those same windows, never squeegeed at a gas station, and seats, never touched by human backsides, are promptly ripped out.

.The fabric is shredded, the steel parts are broken down, and everything is sent off along with the glass to be recycled.

Why all the fuss and feathers? Blame the "chicken tax."

The chicken tax -- the mohair subsidy's poultrified (-fried?) cousin -- is an LBJ-era trade spat that lives on. Western Europe taxed chicken from the US, so President Johnson taxed cargo vans. So now, the Turks make "passenger vans" with seats and windows that are removed and shredded. Presto, chango! Instant cargo van.

Any similarity you may feel between Chinese tires and chickens is all in your head. We wouldn't do anything that stupid -- this is the 21st Centaury!

The Lights Are On

The lights are on but nobody's home.

A good friend of ThreeSources sends a link to a post by Scott Lincicome. The piece first enumerates the policy decisions in which the President has chosen domestic constituencies over free trade. Then Lincicome looks at vacancies -- and finds that staffing his trade team seems to have not been a priority (benefit of doubt mine),

The article goes on to list the key vacancies in the Departments of State, Treasury, and Commerce, as well as USTR. (Hint: there are a lot of them.) Indeed, it's quite the depressing state of affairs for those of us who, you know, care about "little things" like jumpstarting the reeling US and global economies and solidifying important strategic alliances in Latin America and Asia, and understand the importance of a strong Presidential commitment to advancing an American free trade agenda. Alas.

On the bright side (I guess), the Obama administration's burial of trade policy totally frees me up from blogging on real and significant breakthroughs in the still-stalled Doha Round negotiations or the jittery G-20 summit in Pittsburgh later this month. The United States has led on every significant free trade initiative in the last 60-plus years, and such leadership is virtually impossible without a full technical staff to implement the White House's high-level commitments. Thus, without such a staff in place, it looks like I'm going to need to find something else to do this fall.

Thank goodness for the NFL.

I'm not too small and petty a man for some I told you sos. Many bright people were willing to overlook protectionist rhetoric during the campaign. "Oh, he's just playing to the base. St. Austan of Chicago would never let him be another Hoover." (Ms. McArdle, call your office!)

Yet here we are: fighting a recession with protectionism and tax increases.

But johngalt thinks:

Would you stop calling them tax increases? You call everything Obama does a tax increase. You should be ashamed of yourself for referring to tax increases as tax increases. Show some decorum, after all.

Posted by: johngalt at September 22, 2009 4:24 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Oh what lying hypocrisy Obama continues to demonstrate, if you read this and the next post as one big one.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 22, 2009 9:32 PM

September 21, 2009

Protecting You from Misleading Speech

Andrew Jackson used friendly, patronage postmasters to withhold the delivery of pamphlets opposing his administration. Well, bring back the Alien and Sedition Acts! We've got a public to protect!

David Henderson referencing an AP story:

The government is investigating a major insurance company for allegedly trying to scare seniors with a mailer warning they could lose important benefits under health care legislation in Congress.

And the most chilling two paragraphs:
In a warning letter to Humana, HHS said the government is concerned that the mailer "is misleading and confusing" partly because the company's lobbying campaign could be mistaken for an official communication about Medicare benefits.

HHS ordered the company to immediately halt any such mailings, and remove any related materials from its Web site. In the letter, the government also said it may take other action against Humana, which is based in Louisville, Ky.

People sometimes think I am unhinged and consider my opprobrium disconcerting (Moi?), but I am sorry. If you're not scared of this, you're not paying attention.

UPDATE: If my rhetoric is a little overwrought, at least I am in good company. The lead editorial in today's WSJ is just as concerned. Got to read the whole thing:

Humana merely made the mistake of trying to tell seniors the truth about what will happen to their coverage, and now CEO Michael McCallister had better hire a good team of lawyers. Mr. Baucus and the Obama Administration are out to make him an object lesson to the rest of the business class, and that means they won't stop until Humana cries uncle or is ruined.

But johngalt thinks:

Damned right. Before you know it the government will be telling them when and which competitors to acquire and how much they can pay their executives. Oh, wait.

Posted by: johngalt at September 22, 2009 12:09 AM

Give Local Gov'ts More Power or Face Secession

That's the warning given by Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman Vincent Cable regarding the powerful central government in ... the United Kingdom.

He told delegates that the party was committed to "generally federal solutions" that would let the Scots, the Welsh and the Northern Irish gain more revenue-raising powers to create "much more genuine home rule but within the UK".

"Unless we grapple with this, it will lead to conflict and possible secession. We have to start raising the warning here and now about what could happen."

Apparently they have some Limey Glen Beck over there raising his own rabble. Another common theme between UK and US governments was also mentioned:

He also called for electoral reform to stop the practice of "rotten boroughs", where MPs felt under no threat due to their large majorities. Making votes count was crucial to improving the behaviour of MPs, said Cable.

I'd like to co-opt that term for the congressional districts of Jared Polis and Diana DeGette of Colorado, Barney Frank of Massachusetts, Charles Rangel of New York, and at least a hundred other congressmen across the land. Can I get a hell yeah?

(And 10 bonus points to the first who can explain what an "unelected quango" is.)

But T. Greer thinks:

The UK is ten steps worse than we are here... I can understand where the secessionist sentiment might come in. They are a true nanny-state. More surveillance than East Germany, a greater social net than France, and no difference at all between the two parties.

The U.S. is not this bad yet.

This also explains, in part, why we do not have our own little Dan Hannans running around, and why your call for a "Hell ya" will not be heard by many. Sad, but true.

Posted by: T. Greer at September 21, 2009 8:16 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Hell yeah, and it's a perfect fit for Rangel. His district is almost entirely within upper Manhattan, which politically is entirely rotten. All five New York boroughs are.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 21, 2009 9:43 PM

YouTube of the Day

Hat-tip: Terri

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 4:47 PM | What do you think? [0]

Reconcile This

Don Surber highlights a Rasmussen poll. Voters provided a Q-Rating (favorable - unfavorable) of occupations:

No. 1 Small Business Owners at +91 (94% favorable/3% unfavorable).

No. 2 People Who Start Own Business at +87

No. 3 Pastors and Religious Leaders at +48

No. 4 Bankers at -1

No. 5 Journalists at -11

No. 6 Lawyers at -12

No. 7 Stockbrokers and Financial Analysts at -13

No. 8 CEOs -42

No. 9 Members of Congress at -47 (25% favorable/72% unfavorable).

Surber says "I’m thinking swine flu could give Congress a run for the money." Good line, but I wonder how? how? how? voters (those polled) continue to elect politicians who steep more money, power, and privilege to Congress (-47) and away from small business owners (+91). Huh?

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 3:35 PM | What do you think? [3]
But johngalt thinks:

I think it boils down to this: Every election there's never a lever to pull (or a chad to dislodge) for "NONE OF THE ABOVE."

Posted by: johngalt at September 21, 2009 4:30 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

Interesting how we elect the people we like the least to congress, isn't?

Posted by: T. Greer at September 21, 2009 8:43 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Because the people who RUN for congress are the type we like the least - lawyers who couldn't make it as stockbrokers or CEOs - and behave in ways we like even less. See comment #1.

Posted by: johngalt at September 21, 2009 9:57 PM

September 20, 2009

The Good News, the Bad News

The Good News: James Pethokoukis: Awful Healthcare Poll for the White House

– 37 percent understand the president’s plan
– 17 percent believe the plan is deficit neutral
– 20 percent believe funding will come from a fine on the wealthy.
– 32 percent actually support the president’s plan
– 40 percent have no idea how is being paid for
– 34 percent think everyone other than Congress will be pushed into public plan

Bad News: Megan McArdle, they're going to do it anyway, even though it will cost them the House.
I assume that the CBO is going to score all these largely imaginary savings, and that this will make it very hard to keep the bill from passing, because legislators are, natch, more concerned about the appearance of fiscal rectitude than actual conservative budgeting. Conservatives can, and should, raise the reasons to believe that hits bill will cost more than its CBO score allows. But frankly, the public is probably going to accept the CBO numbers.

I think that ramming through the bill on a party line vote makes it very likely that the Democrats will lose the house in 2010; the American public doesn't like uniparty votes, especially on something this controversial. A lot of liberals have gotten angry at me for saying this, but it's not a normative statement; it's an observation.

In the middle: is a bit more optimistic that legislators will save their own skin:

Rasmussen reports 56% of likely voters now oppose the reforms President Obama is threatening to push upon them, and when you look at the "Strongly Oppose"(44%) vs. "Strongly Favor"(24%) the picture is even bleaker in terms of public support for this broad, governmental takeover of the health sector. Still, this is not the time to get complacent, because His Royal Self is going to flood the weekend airwaves with his toothy smile and reassuring rhetoric, appearing on five Sunday morning network shows (excluding FOX) and then Letterman on Monday night

Me? I share McArdle's fear that the Democrats are completely "all in" and they have the votes. ObamaCare it is -- I just hope they pay the hefty price. I guess that makes your ThreeSources optimist more pessimistic than the other three. Of course, McArdle is not cheered by a 2010 House turnover. It would be a bad trade for ObamaCare, but it would be something.

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 11:38 AM | What do you think? [3]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Let's assume that the 37% who said they understand it actually do understand it.

Clearly, the next two lines, though they add up to the same 37%, cannot possibly be people who truly understand it.

However, the "34 percent [who] think everyone other than Congress will be pushed into public plan" are a subset of those who truly understand it.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 20, 2009 2:53 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

> Democrats are completely "all in"

Lucky for us, they're dubiously being lead by Pelosi who can't maintain a clear course (witness 5, count'em FIVE proposals sloughing around). I think Blue Dogs have been lead astray a time too many (stimulus, budget...) and are just as likely to being their own set of howling.

Obam-UH (as my best friend calls him) is similarly sloppy with his diction, direction and decisions.

Fingers crossed, as many as I can wrap around one knuckle.

Posted by: nanobrewer at September 20, 2009 8:58 PM
But jk thinks:

Hope you're right, nb. If the Broncos are 2-0, I am starting to believe anything can happen. And like my beloved "Donks," we benefit from less-than-world-class opposition.

Perry, you made it farther than I did at subdivision. A lot of those numbers seem self-contradictory. But I agree with Jimmy P that they all sound pretty bad for the Administration.

Posted by: jk at September 21, 2009 10:25 AM

September 19, 2009

Somebody Call a Waaaahmbulence!

Tough words from a guy I think is pretty fair, FOXNews' Chris Wallace:

Hat-tip: The Enlightened Redneck (Gotta love that name) via Instapundit

Quote of the Day

Yes, I too yearn for the bygone era of hip-hop chivalry, but those days, sadly, have passed. -- David Harsanyi
Posted by John Kranz at 11:30 AM | What do you think? [1]
But AlexC thinks:

This country hasn't been the same since dueling fell out of favor.

Posted by: AlexC at September 19, 2009 2:20 PM

September 18, 2009

Quote of the Day

I have often wondered at the smugness at which people assert their right to enslave me, to control my work, to force my will, to violate my conscience, to stifle my mind -- yet what is it they expect to depend on, when they lie on an operating table under my hands? ... Let them discover the kind of doctors that their system will now produce. Let them discover, in the operating rooms and hospital wards, that it is not safe to place their lives in the hands of a man they have throttled. It is not safe, if he is the sort of man who resents it -- and still less safe, if he is the sort who doesn't. -- Ayn Rand, in an obscure novel call Atlas Shrugged.
Hat-tip: Paul Hsieh: Is Your Doctor Getting Ready to Quit?
Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 5:48 PM | What do you think? [3]
But johngalt thinks:

Excellent companion to my prior post. Huzzah!

Posted by: johngalt at September 18, 2009 8:06 PM
But jk thinks:

I like the quote a lot, but will no doubt incur the wrath of my blog brothers when I admit that I do not remember the character of Dr. Thomas Hendricks in "Atlas." Was he the one who shot J.R.?

Posted by: jk at September 19, 2009 11:35 AM
But johngalt thinks:

He's clearly not one of the more memorable ones. And there were so many you may be forgiven for remembering them only as "that doctor who went on strike" or "that bum that was almost kicked off the train." The names are too numerous and serve mostly to, in my opinion, give an insight into the character of the individual e.g. "Wesley Mouch." With a name like that he could have founded ACORN.

Posted by: johngalt at September 19, 2009 7:51 PM

Can we talk about healthcare reform?

In a family email dialog about healthcare reform my brother asked a first cousin once removed: "I can't believe that you would be supportive of socialized medicine - are you?"

The cousin replied,

"Generally speaking yes I am. Although I don't think any of the proposals on the table are perfect.

But you shouldn't be worried. Even if a perfect bill was drafted, it won't pass. Politicians are incapable of getting tough things done."

What follows is my contribution to the thread. It's important to first note that the cousin and his wife (the first cousin not-removed) both happen to work in the airline industry.

You know, it's interesting that you say that. I happen to support socialized air travel. I think that everyone should be able to get the same access to free jet trips whenever they need them, regardless of their ability to pay. I believe that air travel is a right and that people who provide it should not make such an obscene profit! I am sure that airfares would be much lower if there was a single payer system so that efficiencies and economies of scale could come into play. In addition, it is absolutely unconscionable that the super rich can fly in first-class comfort simply because they happen to have so much more money than anyone else. I think that first-class service should be abolished so that coach will be available for more flyers at the same total cost. And who on earth thinks that the elderly should be flying? Those people have lived full and rich lives already. We need to leave the thrill and growth opportunities that flying offers for younger people who will get more “adventure memory years” from each flight than those geriatrics would.

And before you ask, no, I don't support socialized engineering services. Engineers are highly trained professionals who have taken the individual initiative to learn the specialized skills and principles that they apply to important needs of society. By taking away the right of individual engineers to offer their services on a free market at the highest price that any customer is willing to pay him the excellent engineers will have no incentive to work harder and more ingeniously than the sad-sack chair-warming engineers do. The result would be that the engineering profession as a whole, and all of the productive enterprises that depend on engineering excellence would be crippled with mediocrity and malaise.

Fortunately I am quite certain that the politicians in Washington, responding to the clear and complete understanding of the distinctions between air travel and engineering, would never dream of applying the same centralized government control over the wages and careers of engineers that I am advocating for airline corporations and their money grubbing employees. Yeah, just them ... and the doctors. Leave us engineers - and the lawyers - alone.

I'm glad to hear you're on board!

But jk thinks:

Well, I laughed -- and bet that the ThreeSources choir gave up some halleluiahs.

But airlines are a tough sector, and if cuz is already predilected to accept ObamaCare, I bet your plan sounds pretty good.

Posted by: jk at September 18, 2009 7:10 PM

Brad DeLong on the Tire Tariff

I'm not a huge fan of Brad DeLong, but he does a great job trashing the Chinese tire tariff:

Let's see... 250 million cars in America... need 4 tires per car... need new tires every 2.5 years. 400 million tires a year... $1.4 billion dollars a year... 10,000 worker jobs saved... $140,000 dollars per worker-job per year.

Looks like we could (a) let the Chinese sell us tires, (b) tax each tire by $2.50, (c) pay each tire worker who loses his or her job $100K a year, and we come out ahead: American households have more money to spend on other things, China has more jobs to help what is still a very poor country grow, and tire workers have higher incomes and more leisure as well.

DeLong starts out the post: "Why oh why can't we have better Democratic presidents?"

Because DeLong and his ilk do not hold Democratic candidates to high standards. Senator Obama was obviously protectionist in the campaign. If you're surprised, you were not paying attention.

Hat-tip: Everyday Economist, who frequently forces me to read DeLong (a good thing).

But Keith thinks:

Good thing our elected overlords have wisely learned the lessons of history, and know to avoid repeating its mistakes.

Posted by: Keith at September 18, 2009 3:03 PM

The Innovation Tax

I posted last week that it was ingenious for the health care reform bill to stop innovation so that it would not have to pay for it when the bills are going to the people that passed it. A Wall Street Journal editorial shows "How Max Baucus knifed the medical devices industry."

Supposedly the Senate’s version of ObamaCare was written by Finance Chairman Max Baucus, but we’re beginning to wonder if the true authors were Abbott and Costello. The vaudeville logic of the plan is that Congress will tax health care to subsidize people to buy health care that new taxes and regulation make more expensive.

Look no further than the $40 billion "fee" that Mr. Baucus wants to impose on medical devices and diagnostic equipment. Device manufacturers would pay $4 billion a year in excise taxes, divvied up among them based on U.S. sales. This translates to an annual income tax surcharge anywhere from 10% to 30%, depending on the corporation.

I'll do something I criticize others for. I'm sick of the town hall criers who personalize every issue and cry on candidates' shoulders to get promises of help in (usually collectivist) policy.

But I will personalize this with some good news. I am in the early stages of trying a Bioness machine and early results are promising. This machine senses pressure in my heel and gives me a zap of current at the right time to walk. It might replace a clunky plastic Ankle Foot Orthotic (AFO) that I have worn since I was diagnosed with MS in 2003. Or I might wear it on my "good leg" to improve its function.

Time will tell -- but it was fun to see my foot moving on its power, even if Skynet was controlling it.

The political point is that this machine costs a kazillion dollars. My wife is looking at a hand version and, while they've been too chicken to give me a price yet, it's clear that if we both bought one it would bump up GDP a couple notches next quarter. It would be pretty tempting for government to give a guy a plastic AFO (only $600!) but it is the difference between real walking and umm, whatever it is I do. Let's not tax these guys out of existence.

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 2:13 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Amen ditto.

Posted by: johngalt at September 18, 2009 3:16 PM

Profoundly Unconstitutional

Can we start an adverb of the day feature? Here's a must read guest editorial from David B. Rivkin and Lee A. Casey

Federal legislation requiring that every American have health insurance is part of all the major health-care reform plans now being considered in Washington. Such a mandate, however, would expand the federal government’s authority over individual Americans to an unprecedented degree. It is also profoundly unconstitutional.
The elephant in the room is the Constitution. As every civics class once taught, the federal government is a government of limited, enumerated powers, with the states retaining broad regulatory authority. As James Madison explained in the Federalist Papers: "[I]n the first place it is to be remembered that the general government is not to be charged with the whole power of making and administering laws. Its jurisdiction is limited to certain enumerated objects." Congress, in other words, cannot regulate simply because it sees a problem to be fixed. Federal law must be grounded in one of the specific grants of authority found in the Constitution.


Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 1:20 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

Wow, if the three branches of the federal government followed those rules we would see some real howls about their inability to "get things done." Those Constitutionalist guys must be crazy!

(tongue -> cheek)

Posted by: johngalt at September 18, 2009 3:14 PM
But outragedpeople thinks:

Rivkin is going to be on Fox and Friends weekend tomorrow, discussing this issue in the final half hour. Don't know if they're taking calls, but you might give it a try.

Posted by: outragedpeople at September 18, 2009 9:31 PM

September 17, 2009

When Cops Call 911

But Keith thinks:

A police officer and Alice B. Toklas brownies? I'm thinking the real irony would have had something to do with pot-laden doughnuts.

The newsreader's facial expressions, by the way? Priceless.

Posted by: Keith at September 18, 2009 2:56 PM
But jk thinks:

Yup, her reaction is what makes it worth posting.

Forgot to hat-tip @michellebranch, one of two celebrity types I follow on Twitter.

Posted by: jk at September 18, 2009 3:36 PM


Okay, AlexC is a Mac and I am a PC...

I find the Apple commercials lack verisimilitude when iTunes -- Apple's flagship software product -- sucks so completely. This enables their popular iPod, manages music on the iTouch and iPhone, and is used by millions of customers on non-Apple platforms. If they cannot or will not bother to get this right, I'm less wowed by a cord that's hard to trip over.

We had this argument years ago. But I bring it up because I have just installed iTunes 9. Nine! The Microsoft plan is that version 1 barely works, version 2 is clunky but mostly functional, and then version 3 is the one you want to buy. These guys are on 9.x and it is still hopeless!

I am glad they finally discovered that computers are networked -- that was a big failing in versions 1-8. I cannot say I have got the home shares to work yet -- but I am just a 15 year+ Unix and Java programmer. I'm sure the Astrophysics PhDs got it going right away.

So I gave up and played some locally stored songs. It got through three before crashing.

I'm JK and I will remain a PC until Apple can fix iTunes.

But Boulder Refugee thinks:

The Refugee will second JK's well-crafted opinion. The Refugee's original experience with an iPod Mini was atrocious and didn't improve with a device several generations later. Even his kids hate it. We've moved to low-cost MP3 players that work flawlessly.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at September 17, 2009 4:27 PM
But jk thinks:

Blog friend sc has complained of multiple failures.

For mysekf, I think the iPod hardware is the apogee of great design. I have had a bunch and I love them. My gripe is purely with the iTunes software that manages your mp3 files and moves them onto the iPod.

Posted by: jk at September 17, 2009 5:05 PM
But johngalt thinks:

But you're running iTunes on hardware that is foreign to Apple, are you not? And BR and SC too, PC's?

Posted by: johngalt at September 18, 2009 12:31 PM
But Keith thinks:

I'm going to be the contrarian here, and I do this fully respecting everyone, regardless of their gender, age, ethnic origin, and choice of operating system. I'm all about inclusiveness on this issue.

(ahem) Rhythmbox. That's all I'm sayin'.

Posted by: Keith at September 18, 2009 2:42 PM
But AlexC thinks:

Zoinks.... you just add your songs to the libraries, and it takes care of the rest... Kind of like money and our government.

You could always play songs amongst computers on a network (we do it at work all the time)... but you can't physically move the files between computers via iTunes... the 9 version supports that, but i haven't messed around with it.

Posted by: AlexC at September 18, 2009 4:42 PM
But jk thinks:

I wanted to keep my library on a network drive and mount it from multiple machines, but the performance was so bad you can't really do that. Man, what are they doing? Over 100Gb Ethernet, I haven't seen network drives bother other apps at all. I am thinking that the home shares in V9 will give me another way to accomplish this.

Yeah, I guess it works as you say, but it so painfully slow I don't know if it has crashed, or working, or if my click did not register. It's called a "thread" guys you can acknowledge response even when you're busy.

Sorry, man, nine tries and it is still clunky, unintuitive and slow. The WSJ says how important this product is (in a very factorable interview, I must confess).

Posted by: jk at September 18, 2009 5:05 PM

Professor Mankiw Translates CBO-ese

The CBO scores the Baucus Plan favorably over the next decade (whereupon it spirals out of control). But the scheme of tax-for-ten to pay-for-seven fools the Congressional Budget Office.

Mankiw provides an excerpt from the text and adds this handy translation:

Let me try to put CBO's point in a more familiar setting:

Your friend Joe, who says he want to lose weight, asks you for an extra slice of pie after dinner. Naturally, you are doubtful about the wisdom of the request.

"Ahem, Joe," you whisper, "Aren't there a lot of calories in that?"

"Yes," he says, "but the pie is part of a larger plan. I am committed not only to eating that slice of pie but also to going to the gym every day for the next week and spending at least half a hour on the treadmill. The exercise will more than work off those extra calories."

"But that's what you said last week, when you asked for an extra piece of cake. And you never made it to the gym."

"Yes, I know," Joe replies ruefully, "but this time I really mean it....Can you please pass the pie?"

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 1:15 PM | What do you think? [0]

Audi Preaches JG's Gospel of Petroleum

You may have seen the new Audi commercial with barrels of oil rolling through the streets and back onto the tankers that brought them here from overseas producers. "If 1/3 of us drove a TDI clean diesel vehicle, we could send back 1.5 million barrels of foreign oil every day."

Well, since I love oil, I went to Audi's website looking for a copy of the commercial and found their "Diesel - it's no longer a dirty word" flash presentation.

Some highlights:

A TDI engine is revved several times while a white hanky is held near the exhaust pipe. Spotless.

"One drop of diesel fuel has 12% more power than one drop of gasoline."

I'm ready to do my part to reduce global warming-
"If 1/3 of Americans switched from gasoline to diesel, it would be the equivalent of planting 2.2 billion trees."

"so if you take the combination of phenomenal performance with reduced emissions and the positive impact that has on the environment there can truly be no compelling argument against the adoption of clean diesel technology for use on the roads in the United States."

Well, except for the fact that it would obliterate all of the "crises" that environmentalists have concocted to take us back to the caves.

Hey Obama, stimulate THIS!

[UPDATED to add video of the commercial from YouTube.]

Also of interest, a history of diesel cars in America since 1979. Via AudiofAmerica on YouTube. They call it Audi TDI: TRUTH IN DIESEL

By the way, did I mention that I love oil?

But jk thinks:

Our German bruderin who expected that? I would add the VW Commercial: How does your hybrid sound? Makes me laugh every time.

Posted by: jk at September 17, 2009 12:58 PM
But Keith thinks:

What time is it? It's time to unpimp your Prius...

Posted by: Keith at September 17, 2009 2:23 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Okay, now I'm really, really, ROFLMAO.

Posted by: johngalt at September 17, 2009 3:44 PM

Obama Plays Russian Hoops: Nothin' but Nyet

Ever since Obama entered office, the Russians have been training him to jump through hoops. For his best trick yet, Obama has agreed to withdraw the missile shield that would defend some of our newest and best European allies from inevitable Iranian ballistic missiles. Did the Russians agree to withdraw from Georgia? Nyet. Stop meddling in Ukraine? Nyet. Stop selling nuclear material to Iran? Again, nyet. In fact, he got nyothing in return for this major concession. According to a WSJ report:

Russia on Thursday welcomed the news that the U.S. administration will drop plans to deploy a nuclear missile defense shield in Europe, but said it saw no reason to offer concessions in return.

This is really gonna make those mullahs sit up and take notice of "American resolve."

Side question: Why is it that the only group which the Democrats view as enemies and with whom to play hardball is the Republicans?

Current Events Posted by Boulder Refugee at 10:24 AM | What do you think? [5]
But johngalt thinks:

No, not Republicans. Racist rabble-rousing white mobsters over 30 and a few Uncle Toms, most of whom may happen to be registered Republican voters. Republican politicians are for the most part welcome in the Democrats inner circle - because they act like Democrats.

Posted by: johngalt at September 17, 2009 12:26 PM
But jk thinks:

I think the President was just being nice and giving them something to help celebrate an anniversary:

Seventy years ago, in the morning hours of September 17, 1939, the Red Army troops crossed the Polish border and over the following weeks, in accordance with the secret protocols of the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact, occupied and annexed large swathes of what was then eastern Poland and is now western Ukraine and Belarus and southern Lithuania. The outgunned and outmaneuvered Polish army was already by that stage collapsing under the onslaught of the first German blitzkrieg, so from a military point of view the Soviet invasion did not materially affect the outcome of the struggle. It did, however, provide a dastardly coup de grace for the first chapter of the Second World War.

Posted by: jk at September 17, 2009 12:51 PM
But jk thinks:

Forgot to give Brother br props for the headline: good stuff, man, Good stuff.

Posted by: jk at September 17, 2009 1:00 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

Oh, the Russians have given us concessions.

I was wondering when we would see what it was the Obama team bargained for to get that agreement. (And perhaps this one as well.) Logistics is a hard mistress; one cannot wage war without it.

We have given the Russians the Eastern European missile shield in order to continue our Bactrian expedition. My worry then, is this - the next time the Russians come a-knocking they might ask for something much more valuable than an fanciful missile shield.

Posted by: T. Greer at September 17, 2009 10:48 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

I'm more worried about the Iranians. These guys have perfected the art of haggling over the price of rugs for the past 3000 years. They now know Obama will give something big for nothing. They will hold out for nothing less.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at September 18, 2009 11:01 AM

September 16, 2009

ACORN Suspends Operations

At the risk of looking at the dark side: these people are not going to join the Federalist society, or slink home to start a reggae band. Won't we have the same mischief without the large organization to keep an eye on?

I'm glad that their government funding is gone. But they will reapply and reopen as a dozen other things -- only the name will be tossed aside.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:12 PM | What do you think? [5]
But jk thinks:

Worse, does this mean no more Hannah Giles videos? That tube-top-as-a-skirt look was pretty fetching.

Posted by: jk at September 16, 2009 4:17 PM
But AlexC thinks:

JK, there are more videos.... way more.

Posted by: AlexC at September 16, 2009 5:28 PM
But AlexC thinks:

Posted by: AlexC at September 16, 2009 5:35 PM
But jk thinks:

RT: @jimgeraghty: I think THE hot Halloween costume this year is going to be dressing up as James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles.

Posted by: jk at September 16, 2009 6:25 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Yes, they would melt into the underbrush. However, it will take them a long time to reform sufficiently to be a major force. It may also reduce the fictitious voter registrations. Most importantly, it reduces the odds of systemic cheating in the 2010 census.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at September 16, 2009 10:20 PM

John Galt MD

That's Professor Reynolds's headline for an IBD Editorial. (If I saw brother JG with a rubber glove, I would run for the hills.)

The link was also sent to me by a physician friend, who wishes retirement were an option. "In addition to the restrictions Obamacare will impose on the level care I can provide, the deleterious effect on medical innovation, and the decrease in salary, I am sure it will also bring an avalanche of new paperwork and busywork that will make me less productive and more frustrated. A mid-life career change is sounding more appealing every day."

Disturbing that the President got the AMA on board early -- the illusion is well set that the medical community is firmly behind him. But the IBD Ed Page begs to differ:

Two of every three practicing physicians oppose the medical overhaul plan under consideration in Washington, and hundreds of thousands would think about shutting down their practices or retiring early if it were adopted, a new IBD/TIPP Poll has found.

The poll contradicts the claims of not only the White House, but also doctors' own lobby — the powerful American Medical Association — both of which suggest the medical profession is behind the proposed overhaul.

It also calls into question whether an overhaul is even doable; 72% of the doctors polled disagree with the administration's claim that the government can cover 47 million more people with better-quality care at lower cost.

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 11:56 AM | What do you think? [4]
But johngalt thinks:

Presently the citizens of Canada routinely travel to America to pay cash for medical treatment they can't get "for free" in their own country. I have a question for your physician friend: If our government starts rationing care and slashing provider reimbursements can't you envision a massive "back-alley" medical industry popping up, with physicians making house calls for cash using either a fee-for-service or subscription service payment plan?

I find it ironic that the procedure likely to be least rationed under the future "health care utopia" we're being tempted with is the safe, legal and "rare" abortion. They may not seem so rare when compared to, say, diagnostic MRI's or hernia repairs.

Posted by: johngalt at September 16, 2009 5:41 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Oh, and I DO have rubber gloves by the way. Fear not - I use them only for painting.

Posted by: johngalt at September 16, 2009 5:42 PM
But jk thinks:

Maybe ACORN could set up little illegal clinics staffed with young Guatemalan physicians.

The medical tourism thing might really take off though -- Costa Rican and Indian facilities.

Posted by: jk at September 16, 2009 6:07 PM
But johngalt thinks:

My question for your physician friend was 100% serious. It falls under the heading, "You can't elimnate the human yearning for liberty by making it illegal." Examples abound throughout history: Prohibition; Slavery; USSR.

Posted by: johngalt at September 17, 2009 12:21 PM

Quote of the Day

I'll defend Economics from Paul Krugman, but Nassim Nicholas Taleb has, as this article states, earned the right to some I-told-you-sos:

My whole idea is to lower risk in society by developing a system that can resist human error, rather than one where human error rules. The first step is to make sure that no financial institution is too big to fail. Next, make sure governments don't favour big companies. Governments should also decrease the role of economists – they're no more reliable than astrologers, and they do more damage. -- Nassim Nicholas Taleb, "Suck It Up, America!"

Hat-tip: Jimmy P

But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

All right, I finally read the interview. His powers of prediction are...overrated. He's correct about economists' and financiers' inability to predict the future, correct about debt, wrong about Iceland, incorrect about Canadian self-sufficiency, wrong about "developing a system," very wrong about the nature of human information, and utterly wrong about actively preventing "too big to fail."

"For the past decade, he's been warning that the global economy has become far more vulnerable to unpredictable events that can cause vast disruption."

That was no prediction, because such a "warning" is completely meaningless. What does it mean, exactly? He says economists as "no more reliable than astrologers," which is true, but his own "predictions" have all the precision of fortune cookies. When something happens to ripple through international financial markets, he pats himself on the back. That's a bunch of bull.

Of course the world economy, having grown so complex, is susceptible to "unforeseeable events that can cause vast disruption." Anyone can see that. But his prediction lacked any specifics

He was simply a stopped clock that was eventually right. Similarly, don't believe all this hype about Nouriel Roubini, who also didn't have these amazing powers of prognostication that the media would have you think. Mark Zandi of Moody's frequently provides soundbites, and too many in a way. career of predicting a recession every year since at least 1997, maybe before then. Of course these two would eventually be right if they keep predicting the same thing over and over.

As I said, he's correct that "Central bankers have no clue" and about economists' ability to predict the future. Anyone familiar with Hayek knows that, and why.

The Internet did not "bankrupt" Iceland, no more than it caused the tech bubble. The Internet was merely the conduit for information, not a cause. The British and Dutch governments were wondering as early as 2006 what would happen if Iceland's major banks couldn't cover British and Dutch citizens' deposits in Icelandic banks, because it was clear Iceland's equivalent of the FDIC, or the Icelander taxpayer, couldn't cover the deposits. If you want to talk about causes, William Butler and Anne Seibert released a paper in October 2008, originally done in April 2008 but kept secret, that explained Iceland's problems. They were already very well known. In short, its banking sector was simply too extended for the size of its economy, and policymakers tried to sustain the unsustainable.

He says Canada has "energy and minerals," is "not overspecialized" and "is self-sufficient." These could easily apply to the United States; why is Canada any better? Now, Canada, or any other nation, cannot be insulated from the world, nor should it want to be. Self-sufficiency is the road to ruin, as the Hawley-Smoot Tariff showed us. It's good to have a fallback position so you can have another way to trade your goods and services with others, like a trader who can switch to driving taxis, not to provide everything for yourself.

But if we get hyperinflation and Canada will be the best place to be, how much more overloaded will its socialized health care system be? As the signs say, where will Canadians go for health care if they don't want to die waiting in line?

He's wrong about "developing a system." Anyone familiar with Hayek (namely the concepts of spontaneous order and knowledge being distributed throughout society) will understand why this line of thinking is as bad as central planners' belief that they can steer an economy in the right direction. It's flatly impossible for him, or any group of people, no matter how smart, to regulate things as he dreams.

For all his well-regarded philosophy, he doesn't understand that human information, as a whole, is imperfect. That's the nature of our existence, and unavoidable. Austrian economics explains that market processes exist as the mechanism by which we eliminate errors (q.v. Hayek's "Competition as a Discovery Procedure") and approach the harmony of supply with demand. Some people will have better information, not necessarily scientific facts as Hayek explained, but knowledge of time and place. Israel Kirzner developed his concept of the entrepreneur as someone who has better information and will put it to use, expanding on Schumpeter's concept of the risk-bearer.

And how does he plan to prevent things from becoming "too big to fail"? The free market tempers the size of a firm by allowing it to fail when overextended, which then becomes a warning to others. But he's talking about an active regulation, which is done only through government -- which would rely on imperfect bureaucrats and economists whose track record is abysmal.

I'm not impressed.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 17, 2009 10:38 PM
But jk thinks:

Perry, I am 100% with you on Roubini and the permabears who have "predicted 12 of the last 5 recessions."

Taleb is an interesting --and different -- case. I think you would very much enjoy reading "The Black Swan" and you probably have to read it to see his complaint about economists. Economists, he complains, pretend that the world fits into nice Gaussian probability curves when many things do not.

Many things display a Mandelbrotian probability, and if you're expecting Gauss and get Mandelbrot, you are in for a big surprise.

His fund, developed around his beliefs, is not a super short bear fund, it is a CAPM model with a huge weight to low risk and a short percentage in outlier options that pay huge in large swings. He has done pretty well with it.

I don't worship at the altar or anything, but he is an interesting thinker and his book is certainly germane in 2009.

Posted by: jk at September 18, 2009 9:38 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

His book might be interesting if he sticks to economic thought, but as far as his "predictions," my point still stands: he was far too vague and general for his statements to have merit as prognostications. Red Sox fans had said for how many decades that their team would come back next year to win the World Series?

Modern economics (Taleb too?) largely forgets the Austrians, who recognize the imperfect nature of information. We don't along with the Keynesian, neo-Keynesian, neo-classical, etc. lines of thinking that oversimplify economic flows and assume equilibriums. Economics is nothing more than the science of human choice and its consequences, which will be chaotic. So Austrian economists fully expect that life will be closer to Mandelbrotian probabilities than Gaussian distributions, but uh, it's so obvious that Austrians consider it axiomatic. You don't need an entire book to talk about it.

I was taught to visualize things this way. Let's say you have sufficient data to chart a smooth-looking supply or demand curve. Now if you could zoom in closely enough, you'll see that it's not a smooth curve, but many infinitesimally small curves of their own (representing the choices of smaller and smaller groups until you zoom so closely that you see individual behavior). They all join together, end to end, to form the whole.

Taleb sounds almost Austrian when talking about his distrust of economists and central bankers, but then he starts talking about designing this system to minimize error. No human has the knowledge to design such a thing, nor should a person have that kind of power over others to create it. You let a system emerge on its own, out of a free society that doesn't have government trying to steer people one way or another.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 18, 2009 11:54 AM

Norman Borlaug

Gregg Easterbrook has a great tribute to Norman Borlaug in the WSJ today:

After his triumph in India and Pakistan and his Nobel Peace Prize, Borlaug turned to raising crop yields in other poor nations especially in Africa, the one place in the world where population is rising faster than farm production and the last outpost of subsistence agriculture. At that point, Borlaug became the target of critics who denounced him because Green Revolution farming requires some pesticide and lots of fertilizer. Trendy environmentalism was catching on, and affluent environmentalists began to say it was "inappropriate" for Africans to have tractors or use modern farming techniques. Borlaug told me a decade ago that most Western environmentalists "have never experienced the physical sensation of hunger. They do their lobbying from comfortable office suites in Washington or Brussels. If they lived just one month amid the misery of the developing world, as I have for 50 years, they'd be crying out for tractors and fertilizer and irrigation canals and be outraged that fashionable elitists in wealthy nations were trying to deny them these things."

I'll hawk -- once again -- the documentary Mine Your Own Business. It exposes the mindset and perfidy of those who opposed Borlaug and oppose progress now.

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 10:33 AM | What do you think? [0]

About the latest ACORN Video

So yeah.... James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles took their underage illegal immigrant hooker show on the road and struck gold in San Bernadino.

They found a name dropping psycho who killed her husband AND had hooking experience.

No really.

Anyway... the woman is crazy, and she's a name dropping bullshitter. I dont buy her assertion she talks to Senator Boxer.... But the shooting of the husband and laying the groundwork, that's pretty scary... and will be determined soon enough.

Awesomely, you know this isn't the last of ACORN on the West Coast. There will be more.

But jk thinks:

She'll kill you, ac -- don't think she hasn't done it before!

Posted by: jk at September 16, 2009 10:40 AM
But AlexC thinks:

As it turns out, she didn't kill her husband(s)... but she was willing to defraud the IRS.

... and they hate that.

Posted by: AlexC at September 16, 2009 12:52 PM

September 15, 2009

Contrarian View on Monetary Policy

The Everyday Economist links to a superb essay in CATO unbound by Scott Sumner.

I cannot lie. (I could but I will not do it here.) This is a little lengthy and moderately turgid for the less academic of ThreeSourcers. But it pays big dividends in providing a brief overview of some leading monetary theories, and a serious look at the panic of 2008 from a fiscal and monetary policy perspective.

Then you get Sumner's suggestion of deflationary concerns and too-tight money's exacerbating the crisis, and then a very serious suggestion for a futures-based, automatic (Friedmanite) approach to central banking.

I'd call it a substantive return on your reading investment.

But They'll Rock at Health Care XIV

I created a new category for this. I like to oppose ObamaCare on first principles, but the craptastick reputation of other government services can be very effective. Some people would not know an enumerated power if it bit them in the ass (I think that's in Article III) but the DMV and Post Office are universal.

TaxProf Blog reports that the IRS is going to get serious about protecting your data, now (after) 500 laptops are missing.

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration released a report yesterday noting that after the loss of nearly 500 laptop computers, the IRS has improved its procedures for protecting confidential taxpayer data and guarding against the unauthorized disclosure of sensitive information if laptops are lost or stolen in the future. Significant Improvements Have Been Made to Protect Sensitive Data on Laptop Computers and Other Portable Electronic Media Devices (No. 2009-20-120).

Hat-tip: Instapundit who says Horse, Barn Door

Why Linus Drives a Hummer

No global warming, no great pumpkins.

CHICAGO — A chilly, damp summer in the Midwest and New England might make it difficult for people in those regions to find the perfect Halloween pumpkin.
Growers in some states say harvests are down significantly from last year's yield, which could mean shortages or higher prices for pumpkins shipped in from California, Texas and other areas with better crops.

Hat-tip: Don Surber

For the Record, I Accept Rep. Wilson's Apology

I posted the T-Shirt link and made a couple of jokes about Rep. Joe Wilson's "You lie!" outburst at the President's speech to a joint session of Congress.

Yet some of my compatriots are rehabilitating this remark and falling short.

James Taranto is funny, quoting Robert Samuelson at WaPo:

[Obama] is indulging his ambition for a special place in history and illustrating why Americans don't discuss health care honestly. . . . Obama told Americans what they want to hear. . . . The problem is that you can't entirely believe Obama. . . . Obama's selling of "reform" qualifies as high-class hucksterism. . . . The candor gap reflects a common condescension.
If only Joe Wilson had yelled that instead! It means the same thing as "You lie!" but is so much more polite.

Gateway Pundit posts video -- and Insty links -- showing Rep. Pete Stark calling Bush a liar on the floor of the U.S. House.

Umm, guys, President Bush wasn’t there. That's why time is the fourth dimension -- yes, the remark was made in the same geographic location, but the President was not there and was not speaking at the time.

Was Rep. Wilson right? Hell yeah. The President lied multiple times in a speech that accused his opponents of lying. But the Executive Branch was a guest in the Legislature's home and the remark was importune and inappropriate. An apology was deserved, made, and received. Efforts to water down the incident are misguided.

But the YouTube Kanye West takeoff is still great!

UPDATE: The censure resolution is brief and light.

Posted by John Kranz at 3:50 PM | What do you think? [0]

The H Stands for Hoover!

It was a racist lie by anti-Muslim right wingers to suggest that President Obama's middle name was "Hussein." Clearly it is "Hoover," Professor Mankiw juxtaposes the headlines (click through to follow the links):

Obama to impose tariffs on Chinese tires: Obama imposes tariffs on China tires for 3 years, a decision that could anger Asian powerhouse

China Strikes Back on Trade: Beijing Threatens U.S. Chicken, Car Parts After Washington Slaps Stiff Tariffs on Tires

Stocks head lower on US-China trade concerns: Major indexes fall in early dealings amid concerns about US-China trade dispute

Tire Tariffs Are Cheered by Labor: Mr. Obama ordered the tire tariffs after the United States International Trade Commission, an independent government agency, determined that a more than tripling of Chinese tire imports had disrupted the $1.7 billion tire market....President George W. Bush had rejected four similar recommendations from the trade commission, angering organized labor


A Nepolitano Trifecta

Andrew Napolitano three-fers in the WSJ Ed Page today:

1) He questions whether ObamaCare is Constitutional. I have been driven crazy by the lack of time and space devoted to this in the commentary. But then again, with Representatives like Mister Clyburn...

Last week, I asked South Carolina Congressman James Clyburn, the third-ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives, where in the Constitution it authorizes the federal government to regulate the delivery of health care. He replied: "There's nothing in the Constitution that says that the federal government has anything to do with most of the stuff we do." Then he shot back: "How about [you] show me where in the Constitution it prohibits the federal government from doing this?"

[dramatic pause. Repeat. "How about [you] show me where in the Constitution it prohibits the federal government from doing this?" ]

2) He preemptively demolishes the lame "Commerce Clause" response we are all expecting in the event any of them ever actually do have to defend it.

Applying these principles to President Barack Obama's health-care proposal, it's clear that his plan is unconstitutional at its core. The practice of medicine consists of the delivery of intimate services to the human body. In almost all instances, the delivery of medical services occurs in one place and does not move across interstate lines. One goes to a physician not to engage in commercial activity, as the Framers of the Constitution understood, but to improve one's health. And the practice of medicine, much like public school safety, has been regulated by states for the past century.

3) He answers my concern that I was undermining my belief in Federalism by seeking interstate trade in insurance
The same Congress that wants to tell family farmers what to grow in their backyards has declined "to keep regular" the commercial sale of insurance policies. It has permitted all 50 states to erect the type of barriers that the Commerce Clause was written precisely to tear down. Insurers are barred from selling policies to people in another state.

That's right: Congress refuses to keep commerce regular when the commercial activity is the sale of insurance, but claims it can regulate the removal of a person's appendix because that constitutes interstate commerce.

Not bad for a brief column.

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 12:07 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

Napolitano is a hero of mine. I nominate him for President Brother Keith's Attorney General.

Posted by: johngalt at September 15, 2009 1:34 PM
But Keith thinks:

He's already passed one of my litmus tests - a right proper smackdown of the abuse of the Commerce Clause.

"There's nothing in the Constitution that says that the federal government has anything to do with most of the stuff we do." True enough - of course, were an honorable man to say that (a qualification which unfortunately eliminates most of Congress), his next words would be "... and therefore we need to stop doing those things."

"How about [you] show me where in the Constitution it prohibits the federal government from doing this?" Answer: Amendment Ten, in case you've never bothered to read it, Congressman Nitwit.

Posted by: Keith at September 16, 2009 7:44 PM

September 14, 2009

The YouTube Generation

Thankful to be a Greek not a barbarian, a man not a woman, and to live in the time of YouTube:

How funny is that? Hat-tip: @DonSurber

Posted by John Kranz at 6:30 PM | What do you think? [0]

Quote of the Day

If you believe the Keynesian argument for stimulus, you should think Bernie Madoff is a hero. He took money from people who were saving it, and gave it to people who most assuredly were going to spend it. Each dollar so transferred, in Krugman’s world, generates an additional dollar and a half of national income. The analogy is even closer. Madoff didn’t just take money from his savers, he essentially borrowed it from them, giving them phony accounts with promises of great profits to come. This looks a lot like government debt. -- John C. Cochrane, in an awesome takedown of Krugman's Times Magazine article (that even IT people are quoting at me today!)
Hat-tip: Don Luskin

President TR

In my tour of the Presidents, I am still a dozen whiskered men away from Theodore Roosevelt.

I have promised myself and one ThreeSources friend that I will choose Theodore Rex for President #26. It is a well reviewed biography that is pretty positive to our first Progressive. Where I have previous opinions about a President, I make an effort to find a contradictory view.

However, maybe a couple of TR fans might want to consider TR, the Progressive Party, and the Transformation of American Democracy, by Sidney M. Milkis. It is reviewed in the WSJ today. Jeff Greenfield suggests that "the real story of 1912 lies in the realm of public policy. So argues Sidney M. Milkis in ­'Theodore Roosevelt, the Progressive Party, and the ­Transformation of American Democracy.' The ­Progressives, he says, 'set in ­motion the ­central ­political events of the 20th century: the rise of ­direct democracy and the expansion of federal ­administrative power.'"

But Roosevelt's campaign as the Progressive Party's candidate went ­beyond reforming the political process. It was rooted in a belief that the constitutional ­structure of American government—with limited federal power and a judiciary striking down economic regulations as violations of "natural rights"—simply could not cope with the realities of a 20th-century industrial ­behemoth. (In 1905, the Supreme Court had ruled, in Lochner v. New York, that New York state could not limit the hours that bakers could work.) Only federal power, in the form of regulatory bodies and laws, TR ­believed, could match the power of the ­corporations and trusts. But Roosevelt's philosophy went further: Even from a distance of a century it is hard to imagine the most ­consequential Republican of his time arguing, as TR did, that "our aim should be to make this as far as possible not merely a political, but an industrial democracy."

Milkis even blames TR for Wilson, not only splitting away Taft votes but forcing the Democrats toward the New Jersey Gov away from William Jennings Bryan. No, I am not suggesting A Bryan presidency would have been that much better.

But the drive toward direct democracy, federal control, and executive branch power, was greatly accelerated in the Progressive Era and I am reluctant to give its first practitioner a free pass because he was a cool dude.

We'll discuss -- next February open?

Executive Power Posted by John Kranz at 10:30 AM | What do you think? [0]

Smarter Than I Thought

Really, I should give the Obama Administration more credit. Call it what you will (I choose "evil"), this goes beyond incompetence: paying for the new health care entitlement with a huge surtax on medical devices. You not only raise revenue, but you keep them from coming out with all those expensive new life-saving devices that cost so much. Tigerhawk:

This tax would be without regard to profitability, so it would amount to a capital tax on start-ups and a massive income tax surcharge on profitable companies, varying as net margins do. In the case of my own mid-sized company, the tax would be the equivalent of a roughly 20% surcharge on our net income (in all likelihood raising our economic tax rate well above 50%) or 50% of our research and development budget, depending on how you want to look at it.

Any way you look at it, the proposed tax is a calculated effort to divert capital from the medical technology industry to other uses in the economy, because new medical technology drives costs that are now going to be assumed by the government (or at least will be if the Senate leadership gets its way). Of course, innovative medtech also extends and saves lives, and makes them more comfortable and more productive. Which is, after all, the point of medicine.

No sir, the point of medicine is reelection and incumbency. You'd think a smart feller would figure that out...

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 10:08 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Medicine operates under the Hippocratic Oath which states: "First, do no harm [to the patient.]"

Government operates under the Hypocritical Oath which states, "First, do no harm [to the established bureaucracy.]"

For the life of me I cannot imagine a beneficial way to combine the two - medicine and government - but Paul "The Troll" Krugman gives it a try.

Posted by: johngalt at September 14, 2009 2:36 PM

September 13, 2009

How Many People?

So there was a rally yesterday in Washington. The best part of the rally is how the media described the turnout.

  • The New York Times headline: "Thousands rally with or against Obama" -- there is not estimate of how many were in Washington, but the article does state that there were 15,000 people at Obama's speech.
  • Washington Post: "Tens of Thousands Protest Obama Initiatives and Government Spending"
  • Daily Mail: "Up to two million people marched to the U.S. capitol today..."
Current Events Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 4:34 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

How many thousands are in a million?

Posted by: johngalt at September 14, 2009 2:37 PM
But jk thinks:

I like Reason's: Tea Party March on DC Draws Somewhere between 2 million and 60,000 People. Go figure.

Posted by: jk at September 14, 2009 3:50 PM

Brother's Keeper

In April I made a case for Sarah Palin to embrace her Christian morality but to denounce imposing it on everyone through the power of the state. Contemporaneously I commented on another blog, though I can't find it at present, to advise a fellow commenter that among the Christian principles she espoused, altruism is used by the statists to justify their athiestic brand of collectivism.

On the occasion of the eighth anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, President Barack Obama took another step toward proving me right.

We honor all those who gave their lives so that others might live, and all the survivors who battled burns and wounds and helped each other rebuild their lives; men and women who gave life to that most simple of rules: I am my brother's keeper; I am my sister's keeper.

That "most simple of rules" will come in mighty handy during debates over publicly funded health care, won't it?

No, mister president, I don't agree. To every man I meet - in my town, in my country, in the world - I can tell him I am his brother, but not his keeper. Nor is he mine.

But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

And most people don't realize that Obama wants to make you your brother's keeper, without shouldering any of the responsibility himself.

He could inspire people, set an example, etc., but then again we don't need to elect a "president" for that.

"It is, indeed, important to notice that my argument so far supposes no evil intentions on the part of the Humanitarian and considers only what is involved in the logic of his position. My contention is that good men (not bad men) consistently acting upon that position would act as cruelly and unjustly as the greatest tyrants. They might in some respects act even worse. Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. Their very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be 'cured' against one's will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level with those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals. But to be punished, however severely, because we have deserved it, because we 'ought to have known better', is to be treated as a human person made in God's image." - C.S. Lewis

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 13, 2009 8:20 PM

All Hail Norman Borlaug!

You guys all know Norman Borlaug, right? I remember reading this piece, but I did not remember his name.

Borlaug is the anti-Malthusian, non-back-to-the-caves man who used science and economics to feed billions of poor people and save their lives. We don't know the name because, as Professor Glenn Reynolds says, "it doesn't fit the narrative." Reason:

Contrary to Ehrlich's bold pronouncements, hundreds of millions didn't die in massive famines. India fed far more than 200 million more people, and it was close enough to self-sufficiency in food production by 1971 that Ehrlich discreetly omitted his prediction about that from later editions of The Population Bomb. The last four decades have seen a "progress explosion" that has handily outmatched any "population explosion."

Borlaug, who unfortunately is far less well-known than doom-sayer Ehrlich, is responsible for much of the progress humanity has made against hunger. Despite occasional local famines caused by armed conflicts or political mischief, food is more abundant and cheaper today than ever before in history, due in large part to the work of Borlaug and his colleagues.

More than 30 years ago, Borlaug wrote, "One of the greatest threats to mankind today is that the world may be choked by an explosively pervading but well camouflaged bureaucracy."

Giants walked the earth. NGO's yawned or engaged in active opposition.

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 10:43 AM | What do you think? [1]
But T. Greer thinks:

Yes indeed. I do not hesitate to say that Norman Borlaug has done more for the human race than any single man born in the twentieth century.

We forget him because the people he saved are poor, foreign, and voiceless. We have not heard of him because his accomplishments are antithetical to the belief system of our elites. And we have not heard of him because - plain and simple - better strains of grain simply are not sexy.

Norman Borlaug should be remembered. His work is humanity's future.

Posted by: T. Greer at September 14, 2009 5:17 AM

'When the Ice Age Ended, How Did the Polar Bears Feel?'

Clever and insightful commentary from Rupert Wright in Arab Emirates 'The National' newspaper.

I can’t recall exactly when it became unfashionable to be sceptical about climate change. However, I can vividly remember where I was when just as I was giving my trenchant views that it’s all a lot of tosh, I looked around the table and realised that I had gone too far. “Still,” I said. “It’s clear that we must do something for the polar bears. Absolutely imperative.”

Secretly I remain a heretic: but if I hadn’t mentioned the bears the Climate Change Inquisition would have been round to the house quicker than you can say “ice cube” and started pulling out my fingernails until I recanted.


Cutting greenhouse emissions is of course a good idea. The sooner everybody agrees that using the sun as a power source is the way forward, rather than burning dirty coal, the better. What I dislike is the unhealthy alliance of non-governmental organisations, the European Union, the United Nations and others all running around telling us what to do. Wasting taxpayer money seems to be their main priority. And I particularly dislike Trudie Styler, the wife of Sting, a pop star, who pitches up here and there telling us not to burn wood, then flies off in her private jet to one of her 20 homes.

Having said that, as somebody who has spent most of his life in the northern hemisphere, I’m all in favour of climate change. I’ll be sorry to see the end of Bangladesh of course, and I’ll probably never get a chance to see the Maldives unless I go deep-sea diving. But think how good Scotland and Sweden will become.

That is the thing about man: endlessly adaptable. It was the Greek philosopher Heraclitus who wrote: “You can never step in the same river twice.” Change happens and we learn to live with it, even embrace it. Think of all that virgin tundra! Even Canada might become habitable.

He's all wrong about solar power of course but it's good to see these other refreshing points of view in print. But then, it shares pages with the story 'Omanis Frown on 'half-naked' expats.'

But jk thinks:

Great, great post -- though I was must admit that the photos for the "half-naked expats" were really disappointing.

I have thought from early on that geoengineering might be the answer. Bjorn Lomborg is now on board. Now it strikes me that we would be giving the UN control of the weather -- is that a good idea?

Posted by: jk at September 13, 2009 11:05 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Well, jk, using the rhetorical trick we're so fond of, why not? After all, the UN has that impeccable track record. It successfully kept out communists bent on destroying liberty -- from the very first conference -- and look at its successes toppling the USSR and Saddam's Iraq, and preventing Iran and North Korea from acquiring nuclear technology. What could go wrong?

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 13, 2009 8:29 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

A friend saw a particularly beautiful sunset the other night, and I replied that it's such a wonderful experience that Obama should mandate them throughout the United States. Like with health care, it's patently unfair that anyone should experience more of a great sunset than anyone else. But unfortunately atmospheric conditions are not equal everywhere, so we'll all have to be content with only smidgens of good sunsets.

Finally getting to the article about the ex-pats. For shame! Good heavens! "His wife was wearing a blue skirt showing off most of her suntanned legs."

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 13, 2009 8:34 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

Geoengineering makes me nervous. Man is great, but he is not all conquering. Not yet. The cost of messing up there could far exceed the cost of other climate change -- natural or man made.

Posted by: T. Greer at September 14, 2009 5:20 AM

Let's put it to a vote

AC's news blog on cold summer temperatures inspired me to Google "coming ice age." Turns out there's a new study that shows, well, I'll let a couple of others tell you:

Study co-author Jonathan Overpeck quoted by Andrew Revkin in the NY Times: 'Global Warming Could Forestall Ice Age'

The human-driven buildup of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere appears to have ended a slide, many millenniums in the making, toward cooler summer temperatures in the Arctic, the authors of a new study report.


But Jonathan T. Overpeck, a study author and climate specialist at the University of Arizona, said the rising concentration of long-lived greenhouse gases guaranteed warming at a pace that could stress ecosystems and cause rapid melting of Greenland’s great ice sheet.

“The fast rate of recent warming is the scary part,” Dr. Overpeck said. “It means that major impacts on Arctic ecosystems and global sea level might not be that far off unless we act fast to slow global warming.”

Ethel Fenig in the American Thinker: 'Good News About the Coming Ice Age'

The situation seems like a win, win one for everyone. Everyone that is except Al Gore, Michael Moore and all the other unscientific minds who invented the non crisis in the first place.

And then there are the real scaremongers, like The Independent's Johann Hari - 'Our Heat is Turning the Arctic into an Alien Landscape' and Earthweek - 'Study Documents How Global Warming is "Manmade."

So there's clearly plenty of room for interested parties to spin this new "synthesis of decadally resolved proxy temperature records from poleward of 60°N covering the past 2000 years" into "proof" of whatever they want the public to believe (or fear.) But even if we take the findings at face value, who could argue that it is imperative or even desireable to prevent future warming?

On the one hand we are destined for "ecosystem stress" and "rapid melting of Greenland's great ice sheet." On the other hand, as the Times story points out, "much of the northern hemisphere" could once again be buried "under a mile or more of ice."

Which is a greater threat to all life on earth?

September 12, 2009

Weather is not Climate

Keep repeating that as you curl up in a fetal position.

The average June-August 2009 summer temperature for the contiguous United States was below average – the 34th coolest on record, according to a preliminary analysis by NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. August was also below the long-term average. The analysis is based on records dating back to 1895.

But johngalt thinks:

"Climate is what you expect - weather is what you get."

I'd give attribution if I could remember who I heard say that.

Posted by: johngalt at September 13, 2009 9:54 AM

At last, a long-term thinker!

I wondered about this remark in the President's speech last Wednesday:

If we can successfully slow the growth of health care costs by just one-tenth of one percent each year, it will actually reduce the deficit by $4 trillion over the long term.

"Can that be right," wonders I? Surely the POTUS has some figures to back that up. If that's true, than the Peter Orzag scenario has some foundation.

Ed Morrissey gets a little help from King Banaian, whom he describes as "everybody's favorite economist." With all die respect, I have lots of favorite economists. But Banaian concedes this is true. Providing that your idea of long term is more than 363 years.

In a ten-year window, even if Obama delivered what he promised twice this week, it would save a grand total of $33 billion dollars — and that’s for the whole industry. If the government covered a third of the costs, the total deficit reduction over ten years drops to a mere $11 billion dollars. At that rate, how long will the “long run” need to be to save $4 trillion dollars in deficit spending? It would have to be 363 years and five months.

As John Maynard Keynes said "in the long run we'll all be dead." But who cares as your great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandchildren cross that $4Trillion savings mark. It will be a proud day for the republic and will cement President Obama's legacy.

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 12:32 PM | What do you think? [0]

September 11, 2009

What could Possibly Go Wrong?

A Don Surber reader:

Let me get this straight.

We’re going to pass a health care plan written by a committee whose head says he doesn’t understand it, passed by a Congress that hasn’t read it but exempts themselves from it, signed by a president that also hasn’t read it, and who smokes, with funding administered by a treasury chief who didn’t pay his taxes, overseen by a surgeon general who is obese, and financed by a country that’s nearly broke.

What possibly could go wrong?

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 7:18 PM | What do you think? [0]

Quote of the Day

RT @lileks RT @JonahNRO My problem with that song: "If I had a hammer." If? Are hammers that hard to come by?
Posted by John Kranz at 5:48 PM | What do you think? [0]

The Policy Equivalent of the Middle Finger

There's a new writer climbing the charts for jk's favorite: Ms. Shikha Dalmia. I really enjoyed her Dear GOP: Choose Liberty piece -- I think that's the first I read -- and she's had several solid columns after that. (Would it be unprofessional to mention that she is rather attractive? Ha! Made you click!)

Today she captures both the substantive flaws of the Presidents speech and the overarching stylistic one. In Put Up And Shut Up! She calls Wednesday's address "the policy equivalent of the middle finger."

I'm still auditioning to be the nice one and the reasonable one around here. "Mutual Forbearance!" is my Van Burenesque toast. I try to give political opponents the benefit of the doubt.

But Wednesday, I was home doing my best Rep. Joe Wilson through the whole speech. I was angry and tortured throughout. Anybody who disagrees with his plan for more government is spreading lies or in the pocket of lobbyists or, when he is feeling charitable, "misinformed." There are no legitimate injections to his magic pony* that will cost nothing, fix every problem, provide more for less, streamline everything and is completely safe for even your most delicate fabrics.

I did feel I was getting flipped off Wednesday, and you could tell the GOP caucus did too.

*"Magic pony" is the perfect description of the ObamaCare plan and it comes from another favorite writer of mine. She who shall not be named, but it rhymes with Beggin' Sack-Card-All."

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 4:10 PM | What do you think? [0]

John Stossel

I am still on the 20/20 email list so that I can keep up with John Stossel.

ABC viewers may miss his masterful explanations of liberty and free markets, but they're still in good hands:

In her first in-depth interview since the death of her brother Michael Jackson, La Toya Jackson opened up exclusively to Barbara Walters about the family's grief.

The Republic weeps.

Happy Patriots Day

Eight years ago, we were attacked for our freedom.

Reasonable people may disagree on the actions since then, but we should not forget the motives of the attackers: our freedom is abhorrent to them.

September 10, 2009

America's Congressman?

Repeat after me: "Representative Joe Wilson was wrong to point out that a liar was lying last night. It may have been correct, but it was an importune moment."

America agrees. And that is why the website offering these shirts has not crashed from too much traffic. I mean, who'd be caught wearing a shirt like this:


Hat-tip: Don Surber

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 6:38 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

"Green shoots" of liberty.

Decorum has generally ruled the day in the halls of Congress but when before now, in the preceeding two centuries of this nation's proud history, has there been ample cause to fear a coup de etat? ["... and that government: of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."]

Desperate times call for desperate measures, such as momentary lapses of protocol.

Posted by: johngalt at September 11, 2009 12:17 PM
But jk thinks:

Don Luskin asks What If It's True That You Lie?

Posted by: jk at September 11, 2009 1:02 PM

The last MSM liberty lover has turned out the lights

I wish a bright fellow good luck on his new gig, but the Republic weeps:

First on TVNewser: John Stossel, the longtime ABC News correspondent and co-anchor of "20/20," is leaving ABC to join Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network. TVNewser has learned Stossel will host a weekly, one-hour program for the 2-year-old business channel. He's expected to signed a multi-year deal with Fox which will include regular appearances on Fox News Channel during daytime and primetime. He'll also host four, hour-long specials on Fox News, much like the business/consumer specials he'd hosted for years on ABC.

Much like the ABC specials, except he'll be preaching to a much smaller choir and typical TV viewers will lose their last place to hear the benefits of Capitalism and liberty.

Hat-tip: @mkhammer

But T. Greer thinks:

Sad day for America! Now the public sphere is polarized in toto. Am I the only one not scared by this?

Posted by: T. Greer at September 10, 2009 8:31 PM
But jk thinks:

I was serious, if a touch overwrought with "the Republic weeps." Professor Reynolds echoed similar sentiments (well after ThreeSources...) and updates:

"A couple of readers wonder why I think the move is “too bad.” It’s because with Stossel at ABC, some viewers might be exposed to non-conventional (at ABC) views. I very much doubt that ABC will replace Stossel with someone of similar libertarian inclination, though I’d love to be proven wrong. Fox viewers, on the other hand, will appreciate the quality of his work, but it’s not likely to be the same kind of wake-up call it is to the Barbara Walters crowd . . . .
Posted by: jk at September 11, 2009 12:42 PM

Dear Senators Udall and Bennet

Sent to both today. If the President is just going to repeat his position, I don't see why I shouldn't.

I watched the President's speech last night and remain unconvinced that the current proposals for reform will have positive outcomes.

The President claims that his opponents are lying or do not understand -- yet he never concedes there are several valid objections to current proposals.

Whether the government is going into the insurance business or dictating terms for current providers (or, my fear, both at the same time), this will retard innovation in both funding and treatment.

His assertion that it can be paid for out of waste seems contrary to the history of government projects and publicly run entities.

Medical records are my most private personal documents and I do not trust government to manage them properly. The news has lately been full of incidents of compromised access to government records in passports and elsewhere.

Lastly, President Madison famously asked a legislator to "lay his finger on the part of the Constitution" that allowed the government to undertake internal improvements.

This level of intervention in our most private affairs requires such a stretch of Constitutional purviews, that the document becomes only fit for defining the minimum ages of office-holders.

Please vote against any legislation that increases government involvement in health care.

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 1:06 PM | What do you think? [7]
But Terri thinks:

Did you see this?

Bennett and Udall have been called to task for questioning current proposals.

Posted by: Terri at September 10, 2009 4:21 PM
But jk thinks:

Nice, Terri. My respect for them just doubled (from 3% to six, but they gotta love the slope!)

Posted by: jk at September 10, 2009 4:26 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I wonder how many people who tuned in last night exclaimed, "Gee, now that you lie to me that way I totally agree. Why didn't you lie to me that way in the firstplace? All those other lies were a complete waste of both of our time!"

SSDD (same "stuff" different day)

Posted by: johngalt at September 10, 2009 5:01 PM
But jk thinks:

Follwing up on Terri's link I'd ask my Colorado blog brothers and sisters to contact both of their Senators to support the actions that got them called into the principal's office.

Posted by: jk at September 10, 2009 5:57 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Done and done.

Dear Senator [Udall or Bennet],

I just finished reading a report by Jake Tapper of ABC News that said you are one of sixteen Democratic senators who "have expressed concern about if not downright opposition to key elements of President Obama's health care proposals, particularly his push for a government-run public health care option..." and that you were "summoned to the White House" for a meeting with the president.

I am writing to commend you on your independence from the coercive threats of party leadership in their reckless and unconstitutional rush to turn so many of America's ideals upside down. You seem to know in your heart that despite the impressive and persuasive rhetoric of the president, many of his policy goals are just plain "wrong."

According to Edward S. Ellis in his book 'The Life of Colonel David Crockett' a farmer named Horatio Bunce in then Senator Crockett's home state of Tennessee expressed his displeasure with one of the senator's floor votes thusly:

"But an understanding of the Constitution different from mine I cannot overlook, because the Constitution, to be worth anything, must be held sacred, and rigidly observed in all its provisions. The man who wields power and misinterprets it is the more dangerous the more honest he is."

Again, thank you for your independent thinking and please remember that like those of you who swore an oath to uphold the Constitution, a majority of Americans hold that foundational document of our government higher than they do any particular political party.

Eric Rinard
Fort Lupton, CO

Posted by: johngalt at September 11, 2009 12:51 PM
But jk thinks:

Awesome -- thanks!

Posted by: jk at September 11, 2009 4:36 PM

Quote of the Day

It's early yet, but this opening sentence of an Examiner Editorial is pretty solid:

President Obama’s address to Congress and the nation Wednesday evening was yet another illustration of his seemingly endless ability to soar to genuinely impressive rhetorical heights without ever landing back on truthful ground.

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 10:43 AM | What do you think? [6]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:
Sometimes the prevarications were so obvious that not even the president's most ardent supporters – like the news staff of The New York Times - had to concede that he was playing fast and loose with the facts.
Now that says a lot.
"That is technically true,” the Times carefully admitted, "but there is a real possibility that existing policies could change as a result of the legislation. The government, for instance, would set new standards, and employers that already offer insurance would have to bring their plans into compliance."
We already saw on the campaign trail that Obama has exceeded the singular characteristic of Soviet Russian rhetoric: lying by telling a truth. (Something that Star Trek TNG used well when modeling Romulans after Soviet Russia.)

You can keep your plan and your doctor, it's true -- Obama didn't say anything about not forcing changes to your plan, or restricting your doctor.

Obama said "no federal dollars" will fund abortions under his proposal and "the reforms I am proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally."
And amnesty is on the table for next year, so it will have plenty of time before Obama's socialized destruction of our health care system begins in 2013. Redefining someone from "illegal" to "legal" is just a matter of new law.

But even without that, Hispanic advocacy groups like La Raza are so wholeheartedly for this plan (that won't cover illegals, remember) that they're saying if it passes, they won't push for amnesty. To clarify what they're saying, they won't bother to push for amnesty. Do you have to wonder why for more than a second?

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 10, 2009 11:34 AM
But jk thinks:

I am concerned, Perry, that a shift of focus to abortion or immigration shifts the focus to what the President can sell as "partisan objections."

The government is going to take over 17% of GDP, have unprecedented access to my private information, and will be in a position to make life or death decisions. If the discussion gets sidetracked to "will we fund abortion?" or "will we fund care for non-citizens?" then we have lost.

Posted by: jk at September 10, 2009 12:05 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

Here here!

I have been saying that a lot lately, haven't I?

Posted by: T. Greer at September 10, 2009 8:55 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Oh, you know me well enough that I see it as only part of the whole. I'm just saying it's another of the myriad lies being thrown at the American people, who are stupid enough to think "health care should be free, we're rich enough."

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 10, 2009 9:47 PM
But jk thinks:

@tg: you're the scholar, is it "Here here!" or "Hear hear!"

Posted by: jk at September 11, 2009 12:02 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

"Hear, hear!" It's a reference to our auditory sense.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 11, 2009 6:28 PM

September 9, 2009

Obamacare: The Movie

This thought occurred to me last week, but I can't claim to be the first: The futuristic scenario painted by the Obamacare proposal, H.B. 3200 is remarkably similar to the 1972 sci-fi film 'Soylent Green.' Rick Carpenter at "Right Wing vs. The Wingnuts" blog posted his take last month:

What is interesting to me is that in the movie, the euthenasia of old people is a government-run program. Under ObamaCare, we are starting with 'death panels'.

What is discovered about the food product Soylent Green at the end of the movie seems far-fetched, in that they used the remains of the dead to produce the food wafers. I use the word 'seems' instead of 'is', because the Obama administration has already done some things that are so far-fetched and corrupt that I can't put anything outside the boundaries of their morals (lack), their conscience (lack), their defense of the Constitution (betrayal), or their love for the sovereignty of America (hatred).

Think Rick and I are just two of the strange ones? Jonah Goldberg is nearly with us.

Now, I don’t think Soylent Green-style solutions are coming down the pike. (...) But every nationalized health-care system to one degree or another rations care based on the quality of life and number of “life years” a procedure will yield. That’s perfectly reasonable. If you put me in charge of everyone’s health care, I would do that, too. That’s a really good argument for not giving me — or anyone else — that power.

"Don't break things up in the name of progress..."

President Obama is scheduled to lecture congress this evening. First, let's watch Sgt. Joe Friday and Bill Gannon lecture him.

"Show me how to get rid of the unlimited capacity for human beings to make themselves believe that they're somehow right and justified in stealing from somebody."

Circa 1950?

Oh, and Happy 09/09/09. (It doesn't deserve its own post, but just so's everyone knows we noticed...)

September 8, 2009

U talkin' 2 Me?

I'm thinking the President was targeting me in his schoolhouse address today. I did not watch it, but each time I see an item about it, it seems eerily personal:

  • You ain't gonna be a rock star, get a real job

  • Don't quit school -- especially to be a rock star, which you ain't gonna be

  • Careful what you put on Facebook

  • Wash your hands (okay, maybe that's more general...)

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

The Noonanator

Jonathan V. Last:

"Mr. Obama's young aides are hardworking, humorous and bright as pennies, but I wish they had an arthritic ache or two, I wish they told old war stories because they'd been in old wars, I wish they knew what it looks like when an administration goes too far and strains the ties between itself and the bulk of the people."

Translation: "Why didn't they call me!"

Posted by John Kranz at 5:04 PM | What do you think? [0]

Quote of the Day

RT3 Are we viral yet? Ed Driscoll

At the Corner, Stephen Spruiell quotes James Pethokoukis Tweet that having a truther in charge of green jobs is a good fit you need a certain willing suspension of disbelief for both.

Posted by John Kranz at 2:40 PM | What do you think? [0]

Labor Day

In case you weren't up for another viewing of "Norma Rae" on Labor Day, ThreeSources friend The Everyday Economist links to his brilliant 2007 column, The Division of Labor Day

Posted by John Kranz at 2:07 PM | What do you think? [0]

The Condor Cuisinart

You'd think the Audubon Society might be celebrating the Petrosesquicentennial. You would, of course, be wrong.

But as Brother JG and I seek to crowd more people into the petroleum evangelists' revival tent, some bird lovers might want to consider baptizin':

A July 2008 study of the wind farm at Altamont Pass, Calif., estimated that its turbines kill an average of 80 golden eagles per year. The study, funded by the Alameda County Community Development Agency, also estimated that about 10,000 birds—nearly all protected by the migratory bird act—are being whacked every year at Altamont.

Altamont's turbines, located about 30 miles east of Oakland, Calif., kill more than 100 times as many birds as Exxon's tanks, and they do so every year. But the Altamont Pass wind farm does not face the same threat of prosecution, even though the bird kills at Altamont have been repeatedly documented by biologists since the mid-1990s.

The number of birds killed by wind turbines is highly variable. And biologists believe Altamont, which uses older turbine technology, may be the worst example. But that said, the carnage there likely represents only a fraction of the number of birds killed by windmills. Michael Fry of the American Bird Conservancy estimates that U.S. wind turbines kill between 75,000 and 275,000 birds per year. Yet the Justice Department is not bringing cases against wind companies.

"Somebody has given the wind industry a get-out-of-jail-free card," Mr. Fry told me. "If there were even one prosecution," he added, the wind industry would be forced to take the issue seriously.

According to the American Wind Energy Association, the industry's trade association, each megawatt of installed wind-power results in the killing of between one and six birds per year. At the end of 2008, the U.S. had about 25,000 megawatts of wind turbines.

This from a WSJ editorial decrying the double standard in enforcement, as oil and power companies have been levied with huge fines based on the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

Gotta love oil.

Oil and Energy Posted by John Kranz at 11:55 AM | What do you think? [7]
But jk thinks:

Understood Keith, but the Condor salad generated by your basic 400KW turbine takes away the subtleties of the endangered species's distinctive flavor.

Posted by: jk at September 8, 2009 2:25 PM
But Keith thinks:

Frankly, I prefer my terrine with the beak and feathers removed, thank you...

Posted by: Keith at September 8, 2009 2:59 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

The larger point is that none of these industries should be subject to enviro-harassment through the courts that the present system permits. Limits on environmental lawsuits and endless impact studies should be an essential part of tort reform. Unfortunately, that has less of a chance than a condor in a windmill blade collision.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at September 8, 2009 6:24 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

I always wondered about that. I have seen the Altamont farm and it is huge, at one point there are windmills as far as the eye can see, up and down each hill. Double standard indeed. Don't forget that Hydro doesn't get a pass either, a couple of dams along the Sacramento river had to put in fish ladders for the spawning salmon.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at September 9, 2009 12:41 AM
But johngalt thinks:

And more than one dam has actually been demolished in the name of fish habitat. It's almost as if environmentalists don't want ANY energy sources. Hmmm.

This was long before the internet so any references are only on microfiche somewhere but I recall during my college days - it made an impression on me as an idealistic young electrical engineering student - the early days of wind turbine R&D led to howls of protest from environmental groups because of bird strikes. They were dubbed "bird blenders" at the time. If wind turbines should ever become a predominant source of electricity those same old voices, the very ones that now give wind power a pass, will rise in opposition once again. The good news is, there's virtually no chance of wind power becoming a major player in the energy market.

Posted by: johngalt at September 9, 2009 12:56 PM
But Keith thinks:

Well, in that case, I highly recommend we appoint Capt. Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger III to the position of Wind Farm Czar. Seems to me he has some experience with bird blenders, has the ability to keep his wits about him during a crisis, and may have a personal stake in seeing to it that no tern is left unstoned to protect the infrastructure. In fact, I might go so far as to presume he has a personal axe to grind...

Posted by: Keith at September 9, 2009 3:54 PM

A Little Milton Friedman

Thanks to Dr. Helen. Reading the President's speech to the lucky schoolchildren today, she was reminded of Kennedy's inaugural and Milton Friedman's answer to it:

The paternalistic "what your country can do for you" implies that government is the patron, the citizen the ward, a view that is at odds with the free man's belief in his own responsibility for his own destiny. The organismic, 'what you can do for your country' implies that government is the master or the deity, the citizen, the servant or the votary. To the free man, the country is the collection of individuals who compose it, not something over and above them. He is proud of a common heritage and loyal to common traditions. But he regards government as a means, an instrumentality, neither a grantor of favors, and gifts, nor a master or god to be blindly worshipped and served.

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 10:48 AM | What do you think? [1]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I'm glad you posted that quote. It seems I'm in good company. Without having seen it, I'm arguing the same thing elsewhere.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 8, 2009 9:25 PM

September 7, 2009

Rhyming History

Mark Twain said "History does not repeat itself -- at best it sometimes rhymes." Well, I feel a rap song comin' on.

The following paragraph was written in 1988 about the Democratic nominee of 1852. Historians have not dealt kindly with General Franklin Pierce. I have looked for generally positive biographies in my tour of the Presidents, unless I have high opinions from another source. Let us say that a positive portrayal of our 14th President was not easy to find.

But here are some kind words about Candidate Pierce from Elbert B. Smith's "The Presidencies of Zachary Taylor and Millard Fillmore:"

The qualities that would make Pierce a catastrophically weak president made him a magnificent presidential candidate. He was an empty page upon which each faction of Democrats could draw its own self image. Southerners ranging from strong Unionists to fire eaters were delighted. Thomas Hart Benton, who had recently been defeated for Senator in Missouri, was ready to labor wholeheartedly for Pierce's election. Francis P. Blair, a Free-Soil leader in 1848, compiled and distributed speech material for Pierce’s supporters and wrote a blistering pamphlet attacking Gen. Winfield Scott, the Whig candidate for president, which Blair did not sign because of his friendship with Scott's daughter. The bitter New York enemies William R. Marcy and John Van Buren each thought Pierce a splendid choice. So did John's father, the 1848 Free-Soil candidate for president. On 13 July, Pierce received letters from the radical Virginian John Letcher and David Wilmot, the original author of the antislavery proviso. Each was certain that Pierce his sentiments on the subject of slavery.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:59 AM | What do you think? [1]
But T. Greer thinks:

Interesting. I am afraid to say that I have not studied Peirce much myself, to be honest.

I would agree that Obama has very much been a mirror that folks of various stripes have projected themselves onto. The difference now (I'll wager) is that each of the modern day Democratic faction is weaker than their factions of old. The Executive branch can steamroll Congress whenever it wants. The same was not true in Peirce's day. I wonder now if the various modern factions need the President more than he needs him.

Posted by: T. Greer at September 7, 2009 2:25 PM

I Love Oil

(And why everyone else should too.)

JK recently heralded America's Petrosesquicentennial, the 150th anniversary of the first American oil well. We are quite enamored of the "black gold" on these pages. And why not? 3.8 gallons of oil derived gasoline (you may have heard of it - it's been used as a primary motor fuel for nearly a hundred years) which can be purchased on any street corner for about ten bucks, produce as much energy as an average lightning bolt (about 500 megajoules.)

And the safety of this miracle fuel is such that anti-industrial zealots like those on Dateline NBC have had to use remotely detonated explosives to recreate accidental fuel tank explosions.

But there's more to oil than gasoline. Much more. Modern necessities made from oil include jet fuel, propane gas, plastics, asphalt, and dozens of petrochemicals essential to hundreds of industries we could hardly imagine living without. (Paints, fertilizers and textiles to name just a few.)

I went searching for the historical significance of the Petrosesquicentennial and found the following graph of world population and income since 1500. It shows a precipitous rise in population around the time of the Industrial Revolution. But the per capita world GDP rose only 31 percent in the early decades of the Industrial Revolution (1820 to about 1870). In the next 30 years however, inflation-adjusted individual incomes went up another 45%, and 20 years later nearly doubled from there. Finally, by the end of the 20th century, individuals earned a whopping SEVEN TIMES what their ancestors did at the time commercial oil production began.

(Click on graph to enlarge)

While the Industrial Revolution began in the early 1800's without oil it "centered on improvement in coal, iron and steam technologies." The truly modern developments "steel, electricity and chemicals" were hallmarks of the Second Industrial Revolution which, though not clearly delineated from the first, roughly coincided with the commercialization of oil in America.

So if you love iPods, cell phones, jet planes, mass transit, modern medicines, supermarkets, artificial light, white collar jobs ... and the income to pay for all of these and more ... you'd best come to grips with your closet love affair with oil.

UPDATE [10:43a EDT]: As often happens, I omitted a key argument in the thread. The point of all this was to set up the assertion that the advent of cheap and abundant oil was not only coincident with the Second Industrial Revolution, but catalyzed it. Try to imagine the course of the industrial age without it. Certainly a gallon of gas could have been replaced, say with 121 cubic feet of natural gas or 9 pounds of coal, but extracting and using a liquid fuel proved far more practical and economical than those gaseous or solid ones, at least for some uses. And I contend those uses were - and remain - important. Add to this the less obvious fact that many chemical uses of oil may be irreplaceable.

Oil has clearly fueled prosperity. Not only that, it did so for everyone.

But jk thinks:

And let's not fail to celebrate John Rockefeller, who gave non-wealthy Americans the gifts of affordable heat and light. His nickel-a-gallon kerosene provided productive hours of reading and working to those who could not afford dollar-a-gallon whale oil.

For this generous gift to our nation's poor and his unprecedented philanthropy, we call him a "robber baron."

Posted by: jk at September 7, 2009 11:23 AM
But JC thinks:

"Enamored with oil"
The terms "ignorance is bliss" comes to mind with the mountains of scientific evidence pointing to the fact that we need to migrate away from fossil fuels. Fossil fuels have served as a valuable resource and a sturdy bridge to where we are today. That bridge is about to collapse and if we fail to engage fully in the deployment of alternatives, we are going to be challenged with how quickly we can migrate to another planet! I have a poster on the wall that says "If you can't adapt, you get left behind." Those words are positioned strategically over the fossil remains of a plesiosaur.

NAVY responds to RAND report:

As the "sweet crude" (easy to refine) sources dwindle, we see the industry shifting to tar sands and shale. The added cost to extract usable fuels from these "hard" sources are being passed on to the consumer while the global oil giants amass huge profits in preparation for energy intensive extraction processes.

Time for a paradigm change!
Every single day our individual homes are awash in energy (wind and solar being the primary). What percentage of that energy did you capture today? Still dependent on the ever-increasing costs for fossil fuels? Still denying the advantages of migrating to alternatives? Prepare to become fossilized! :?

Posted by: JC at May 30, 2013 9:23 PM

September 6, 2009

Rep. Mike Rogers

A good politician in Michigan -- who knew? I am not familiar with Rep. Rogers, but there are some good parts in this speech:

Hat tip Right Minded Online, via an email link from a high school friend on Facebook. Mark A. Rose of Right Minded Online seems to Phillies fan. This may interest some ThreeSourcers.

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 11:48 AM | What do you think? [4]
But johngalt thinks:

The reason cancer survival rates are lower in Canada and the UK than in the US is because their governments suffer from a philosophical cancer: altruism. Ours is also so afflicted, but not yet terminal. Obama represents the metastasis. Only the power of American individualism and our desire to sustain the Constitution can achieve the life-saving remission.

Three Sources fact check:

According to wikiquote the phrase, "You can't make a weak man strong by making a strong man weak" was misattributed to Lincoln in 1942 and no less than Ronald Reagan has repeated the misattribution. It comes from "The Ten Cannots" by William J. H. Boetcker (a German immigrant).

You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
You cannot help little men by tearing down big men.
You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
You cannot establish sound security on borrowed money.
You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn.
You cannot build character and courage by destroying men's initiative and independence.
And you cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they can and should do for themselves.

Posted by: johngalt at September 7, 2009 10:12 AM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

The Refugee doesn't care if he attributed the quote to Joe Biden. After a speech like that, Mike Rogers for President! Talk about clean and articulate...

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at September 8, 2009 7:57 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

National Health Care - as in private insurance companies who can compete directly for our business at a national level. Who's with me! I'll even buy it from that annoying gecko.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at September 9, 2009 1:00 AM
But jk thinks:

As usual, Silence, in an odd-number year we agree completely. Mister Buffet and his little lizard are indeed the answer. You buy your own health insurance online and you visit the nurse practitioners in Walgreen’s, CVS and Walmart for routine care. To get the bill signed, I'll even go for refundable tax credits to help low income workers afford it.

Kum. Bay. A.

(I don't even mind the gecko, except that every one of his is one fewer of the Geico cavemen spots -- truly the best commercials of all time.)

Posted by: jk at September 9, 2009 10:51 AM

But jk thinks:

I just fear this particular dead horse will rise up and bite us in the ass.

They'll pitch the public option and some of the more expensive items, this will give the blue dogs and moderate republicans cover to support a bill full of mandates and expanded government coverage.

They'll abandon their dream of getting there in one bill, but the "compromise" will put more people on public health care, make it harder for private insurers and take the crazy whacked hybrid system even further from the free market.

Victory laps all around -- and the next time the collectivists are in power it will be easier to kill off the last little bit of free market medicine.

Hsppy Labor Day from Mister Optimist!

Posted by: jk at September 6, 2009 11:32 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Pelosi said a few days ago that she could support a bill without a public option, as long as it's "mandated" in "the future."

A few weeks ago, I left this comment on someone's blog, when it first appeared that Obama was backing off:

Don't open the champagne just yet. Here's what will happen:

1. The public option will be dropped to make the bill more palatable, to gain "bipartisan support."

2. The new bill will regulate insurers so much that they'll be driven out of business by these "consumer-owned nonprofit cooperatives." Here is the Trojan horse. If these "cooperatives," which will be seeded by tax dollars, are not a "public option," then what are they?

3. VoilĂ , Obama & Co. will say, "Now we definitely need a public option to replace the lack of coverage that private insurers can no longer provide." The "cooperatives" will be expanded and given carte blanche with tax dollars.

It's not hard to foresee this. We know the tricks well enough.Nothing, and I mean nothing that Obama and his thugs do should surprise us. We've seen it all before, not from Obama, but in every bad thing ever done by any president. And he's only been in office for just over seven months!

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 6, 2009 9:00 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Ah blah, I forgot to put blockquote tags around 2, 3 and 4, and up to "We know the tricks well enough." You all can still understand what I'm saying, though.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 6, 2009 9:03 PM

September 5, 2009

T. Coddington Van Vorhees YII

One of my jobs around here is to defend the sacred honor of William F. Buckley, Jr. I know his Catholicism turns off a few ThreeSourcers, but the power and direction of his intellect truly created a movement that gave us President Reagan. I think Rand devotees are mistaken to hold him responsible for Whittaker Chambers's review of Atlas Shrugged.

But Christopher is another thing altogether, and the new cabal of elitist snob conservatives is fair game. I think Buckley's gift was that he got beyond what he was better than most.

And if they are fair game, nobody is better at taking them down than Iowahawk. I don't know how many times he has done his T. Coddington Van Vorhees VII columns, but this is the second I have seen and they have both left me in painful laughter.

I am, in some fashion, Mr. Obama's "go-to man" on matters conservative, and of course agreed. I know the route to the Vineyard well; in his dotage grandfather T. Coddington V often piloted me there in his old auto-gyro, believing it was still Prohibition and he was making libation runs to Joe Kennedy's estate. I instead took the Nancy, our old ketch, laden with a precious cargo of like-minded conservative thinkers; the Mighty Davids, Brooks and Frum, Kathleen Parker and Bruce Bartlett. Not accustomed to the rigors of nautical life, I am afraid that all spent the journey violently vomiting off the beam. But after showers and a fresh change of khakis none were worse the wear when we arrived at the harbor in Gay Head.

The President was there to greet us, looking as elegant as ever, although it appeared his unfortunate smoking habit has increased in intensity. At his side was Mr. Emanuel, his brilliantly ambitious Chief of Staff, whose effortless grace and shiftily dancing pupils tell of his time as a classically trained terpsichorean.

It's a holiday weekend, read the whole thing,

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 12:27 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Not bad, not bad at all. But that Emmanuel fellow really has a foul tongue. (Perhaps that's why all of the films bearing his name are X rated?)

I found plenty of wry humor but this batshit crazy - ahem - gun extremist couldn't help but feel like some of the references were beyond my comprehension. I suppose that's why I'm a dimwitted burgher.

Posted by: johngalt at September 5, 2009 3:56 PM

September 4, 2009

A Brief History of the Obama Administration - Day 217

With Senator Kennedy's passing last week we managed to miss this. A Fouad Ajami WSJ article is a thorough review, through x-ray glasses, of President Obama's dash to steal America's soul - that came up short. I'll give you an appetizer but it is juicy like this from start to finish.

In contrast, there is joylessness in Mr. Obama. He is a scold, the "Yes we can!" mantra is shallow, and at any rate, it is about the coming to power of a man, and a political class, invested in its own sense of smarts and wisdom, and its right to alter the social contract of the land. In this view, the country had lost its way and the new leader and the political class arrayed around him will bring it back to the right path.

Thus the moment of crisis would become an opportunity to push through a political economy of redistribution and a foreign policy of American penance. The independent voters were the first to break ranks. They hadn't underwritten this fundamental change in the American polity when they cast their votes for Mr. Obama.

Only 1233 days left for you to endure, mister president.

Dark Clouds from Kudlow

Let me get that three day weekend off to a rippin' start. Lawrence Kudlow, the financial community's most inveterate optimist, looks in the lobs numbers and sees dark clouds:

Veep Joe Biden is out there saying the Obama stimulus plan has saved or created 150,000 jobs in the administration’s first 100 days and another 600,000 in its second 100 days. But he sure isn’t talking about small-business jobs.

In fact, it’s hard to know what he’s talking about. Uncle Sam has borrowed $388 billion in the second quarter and is scheduled to borrow $406 billion in the third quarter and nearly $500 billion in the fourth. In order to provide $152 billion in so-called fiscal stimulus, the government is draining close to $800 billion from the private-sector savings supply -- $800 billion that will not be invested in new-business enterprises, including small businesses.

Borrowing from Peter to redistribute to Paul is not fiscal stimulus. It’s a fiscal depressant. Small businesses are having enough trouble getting their hands on credit. And now they can’t find enough capital for new start-ups. The government prospers, but the small-business sector sinks.

Kudlow's point is the differential between the payroll survey and the household survey. This was a staple of his when they were flipped (some Texas guy was President) and the job growth was in the household survey, which captures entrepreneurial and small company jobs. He felt it bullish Schumpeterianism that big company jobs were losing to start ups.

Now the trend has reversed. Big companies and government are adding workers, and the household survey losses are staggering.

Happy Labor Day!

Posted by John Kranz at 5:47 PM | What do you think? [3]
But johngalt thinks:

Let's see ... 750,000 jobs created or "saved" in 200 days. Take them all as created and disregard the "saved" business for the canard that it is ... and we have 750K new jobs in just over six and a half months, or 115,384 jobs per month. Stuart Varney tells me it takes 100,000 jobs per month just to keep the unemployment rate constant. So the question is, if Uncle Joe is going to make up specious job creation claims why doesn't he claim enough to make a difference?

Damn. I should have seen it in the first place. He can't claim administration policies are making a difference because everyone can plainly see that nothing has changed.

Posted by: johngalt at September 4, 2009 9:22 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

You will have to forgive me my lack of understanding of economics, but it takes 100,000 jobs per month to keep the unemployment rate constant? If the unemployment rate is 5% then that means that 2 million new workers enter the job market each month? Do retiring workers count as lost jobs? I thought this huge "boomer" generation would mean that more workers are retiring than entering the work force. Is my problem that I have assumed the word "new" in jobs "created"? In all these wonderful stats can every worker who gets laid off from one job, but finds another be counted as a job "created"?

Posted by: Silence Dogood at September 6, 2009 3:08 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

It depends on the population and how fast it's growing; the current unemployment rate is not a factor, but a cause. So if you have 150 million workers (which is different than a total population of 300 million) with 2% population growth, then assuming that the work force has the same population growth, you'll need 3 million new jobs a year, or 250,000 per month. The number of new jobs needed to keep unemployment stable, you see, will increase as the population increases.

Retired workers do not count as "lost" jobs, not if the counting is done properly. The statistics you see about "jobs created" or "jobs lost" are net numbers. That's why if a manufacturing worker is laid off but finds a new manufacturing job quickly enough, that by itself is zero change. It explains why you might have a few thousand jobs lost one month in any given sector, then a gain of a few thousand jobs the next month. It's also common that one sector will lose jobs while another gains, because workers go into different types of jobs.

U.S. worker population growth is still sufficient to replace retiring baby boomers, even though their numbers are considerable. We're not yet to the level of Russia and Japan, whose total populations (not just labor forces) are actually shrinking now. France is nearly in the same boat; right now it's importing enough African Muslims.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 6, 2009 9:47 PM

September 3, 2009

One for the Sisterhood!

A beloved relative emails a link. Now this particular relative usually only gets her links posted at ThreeSources because I choose to perform a Fisking.

But, while our politics are orthogonal, we share a deep affection for each other and a certain fin de siecle television show, The artistic integrity of our favorite show is under assault as the Twilight books and movies have come to define vampires.

It had to be done: Buffy vs. Edward

It's an example of transformative storytelling serving as a pro-feminist visual critique of Edward's character and generally creepy behavior. Seen through Buffy's eyes, some of the more sexist gender roles and patriarchal Hollywood themes embedded in the Twilight saga are exposed - in hilarious ways. Ultimately this remix is about more than a decisive showdown between the slayer and the sparkly vampire. It also doubles as a metaphor for the ongoing battle between two opposing visions of gender roles in the 21ist century.

Television Posted by John Kranz at 6:42 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

I think there's a significant amount of self-deception exposed in the remixer's predetermined conclusion - "It also doubles as a metaphor for the ongoing battle between two opposing visions of gender roles in the 21st century."

The two metaphorical visions he apparently sees are:

1. Women are universally smart and rational, especially in contrast to men, and therefore are best suited to be in charge.

2. When men are in charge women have only the value of sex objects.

In his mind it isn't possible for a woman to be equal in any relationship with a man. Instead she must be either inferior or superior. But who wouldn't draw this conclusion from the role models he used for male and female behavior? The female character is a superhero and the male is a misanthrope.

I find Wheedon's theme refreshing. He inverts the Hollywood formula of "the little blonde girl who goes into a dark alley and gets killed in every horror movie." But this guy (are we sure his name isn't Maurice?) needs to get over the "women as victims" mentality.

Posted by: johngalt at September 5, 2009 1:03 PM

Oldie but still significantly Creepy

Good friend of this blog sends a link to the horrid, creepy, sycophantic Ashton Kutcher Demi Moore 'Pledge' video.

I had seen this, didn't it come out around the inauguration (and where was the S&P 500?) But if you want to rekindle old wounds and fear for the republic -- it's worth another look.

Posted by John Kranz at 3:18 PM | What do you think? [3]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Isn't this the new Department of Indoctrination, er, Education curriculum?

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at September 3, 2009 5:21 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I'm in for that "not give the finger" thing.

Posted by: johngalt at September 3, 2009 6:09 PM
But Riza Rivera thinks:

This is bull Shit!!! you either have good manners or you don't. If they have to make a pledge then they don't have any manners!! Money does not gave you class or good manners.
When I was growing up we had to have manners. My parents taught us how to behave. It as important to raise us to be civilized.
If good behavior is based on who is in the white house. All I can hope is that we're all not like Hollywood. Yuck!!!
As for being a servant to the president. I'll have to pass.

Posted by: Riza Rivera at September 3, 2009 7:49 PM

Good News / Bad News

GOOD NEWS: You're rich!

BBC: Online Politics Reserved for Rich
According to the report 35% of US adults on incomes of at least $100,000 (Ł62,000) participate in two or more online political activities compared to just 8% of adults on incomes of less than $20,000 (Ł12,000).

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Eric Thompson writes: “Since when is 100 grand a year ‘rich?’ How about: Since Obama promised to only raise taxes on the ‘rich’.” Got it in one, Eric . . . .

Folks are focusing on the $100K == rich question, but I am more interested in the exact level of "Duuuuh!" (I suggest it's up to four u's and an exclamation point.) Those with more money have more interest, more time, and most importantly, more to lose in the political process. The good people at the Beeb show this as a digital divide scenario, but I would suggest all of politics is focused on higher activity at higher income levels.


I got a handful of complaints last week that there were no videos, but nobody complained about missing my hectoring, self-promotional blog posts, email, facebook and tweets. Huh.


Young Ian Biley joins me in the guest slot this week, and it's just me and Cole Porter and my new tele for today's.

But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Young Ian can really tickle the strings. And, he has significantly more hair that his Old Man!

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at September 4, 2009 9:58 AM
But jk thinks:

It's a wig! Trust me.

Posted by: jk at September 4, 2009 10:44 AM
But jk thinks:

"His" old man, yes. I thought you said "the" old man. And there was only one otehr person in the video. Umbrage was tooked.

Posted by: jk at September 4, 2009 5:59 PM

September 2, 2009


Kumbaya, my ThreeSources brothers, kumbaya!

Michael Barone suggests the immigration rift may be over.

But there's another reason why Congress and the administration would be unwise to revive the 2006-07 legislation. The facts on the ground have changed. The surge of illegal immigrants into the United States, which seemed to be unrelenting for most of the last two decades, seems to be over, at least temporarily, and there's a chance it may never resume.

Reading this, I thought it might be the first time I have to disagree with his Barone-ness, but I think we're pretty close. Barone cites improvements in border security as the first reason that wholesale immigration will not resume when dGDP/dT > 0 again.

To which I intellectually retort "Hah, you're nuts, dude."

But, flip his second point with his first, and I am intrigued if not all in:

And the reservoir of potential immigrants may be drying up. Birthrates declined significantly in Mexico and Latin America circa 1990. And as immigration scholars Timothy Hatton and Jeffrey Williamson write, emigration rates from Mexico and Latin America -- the percentage of population leaving those countries -- peaked way back in 1985-94.

Moreover, people immigrate not only to make money but to achieve dreams. And one of those dreams has been shattered for many Hispanic immigrants. Most housing foreclosures have occurred in four states -- California, Nevada, Arizona and Florida -- and about one-third of those who have lost their homes are Hispanic. Immigration is stimulated by the reports of success that immigrants send back home. It may be discouraged by reports of failure.

I am preparing for a long recession as I watch the people who think they are steering this economy. By the time demand improves, it could well be that the factors Barone cites will become significant.

So, all those wars were all for naught. A moot point. And the ThreeSourcers are all once again in perfect agreement on the side of righteousness. Whew, glad that's over!

Immigration Posted by John Kranz at 2:37 PM | What do you think? [15]
But johngalt thinks:

I had actually typed "to the right" as that is my natural inclination. But when johngalt decides to acquiesce to government aid it is clearly a sharp turn left.

(Maybe it's only a head fake.)

And before you spike the ball K let's see if brother JK can tackle you first.

Posted by: johngalt at September 3, 2009 6:05 PM
But jk thinks:

"Dirty Colonoscopy Equipment for Everybody!" is certain to go over well.

The CO - 2 Chair of Keith's Presidential Campaign is certainly not going to tackle the candidate...

Not a thing to disagree with in these comments (and love the Crockett link) but I hold no hope of significantly rolling back the scope of public charity. Sure it would be better but it ain't gonna happen. To make an impossibility a prerequisite of another plan is extending fancies.

Kill the mohair subsidy and let's talk.

Posted by: jk at September 3, 2009 8:59 PM
But Keith thinks:

The mohair subsidy, the ethanol subsidy, the land bank, all consigned to the ashheap of history. The price of a carton of milk resulting from supply and consumer demand rather than the diktat of an artificial price floor. Federal lands and Interstate highways deeded back to the states in which they lie, to do with as they and their voting residents see fit. Full implementation of the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, and a call for a new Constitutional amendment forbidding taxation for the involuntary transfer of money from citizens who earn to others. A double-bladed ax laid to the root of whole Federal departments. You want them, you've got them.

Résumés for Cabinet posts in my administration are now being accepted...

Posted by: Keith at September 4, 2009 5:58 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Cabinet post hell, I want to be the Classical Education Czar. (Can you say Nationwide Charter Schools?)

I expected JK to predict the following: Medical care that is, de-facto, "good enough" for our military vets would somehow be judged by the electorate NOT good enough for the deadbeats and border-hoppers among us. I didn't expect him to do it so colorfully.

Posted by: johngalt at September 4, 2009 8:37 PM
But Keith thinks:

jg: Classical Education Czar? I don't know which I find more shocking - that you favor official appointed positions over which there is no oversight, or that you understand Education to be something that the Federal government has any business fiddling with.

Now, I'll offer you a twofer instead. If you'd settle for Secretary of Education, with a mandate to dissolve a Federal bureaucracy which has never educated a single American child, and done nothing but allocate tax moneys from the taxpaying public to school districts (after said money spends a very expensive night in Washington) for funding its pet programs and meddle in the business of college loans (a task better left to banks and other private lending organizations) and outright grants (a task better left to private charitable and scholarship organizations) - dissolve that bureaucracy with an eye to devolving the business of education to states, school districts, municipalities, and parents - and then head up a blue-ribbon brain trust to recommend (not require or mandate) a model curriculum of classical education, then the job is yours. Heck, just by exchanging these comments with you, I've already done a better job of vetting you than the current Education Commissar got.

Posted by: Keith at September 8, 2009 11:55 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Yep. That's about what I had in mind.

I thought about this further after I posted the request and decided I'd prefer to be Energy Secretary. Once America has 2-dollar gas and as much nearly free electricity as France just imagine how much higher OUR "happiness index" will be than theirs!

Posted by: johngalt at September 15, 2009 1:39 PM

Lee Marvin Health Care

A new study published today by the National Changing Diabetes Program deals another blow to the Obamacare myth that increased preventive medical care will lead to long-term health cost savings. From the Washington Post:

Using data from long-standing clinical trials, researchers projected the cost of caring for people with Type 2 diabetes as they progress from diagnosis to various complications and death. Enrolling federally-insured patients in a simple but aggressive program to control the disease would cost the government $1,024 per person per year -- money that largely would be recovered after 25 years through lower spending on dialysis, kidney transplants, amputations and other forms of treatment, the study found.

However, except for the youngest diabetics, the additional services would add to overall health spending, not decrease it, the study shows.

This is consistent with CBO findings reported earlier this month, says WaPo. "In its own analysis of preventive care, CBO said earlier this month that the cost of making cancer screening, cholesterol management and other services broadly available is likely to far outweigh any savings ultimately generated."

"There's no free lunch here" said Michael J. O'Grady, a senior fellow at the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago. [No kidding!]

I enjoyed the summation of this news by FNC's Stuart Varney this morning: "It's basically saying that if you drink a pint of vodka and three packs of cigarettes a day and die at 50 your medical care will cost less than if you take care of yourself and live to 85."

So if lawmakers really want to lower overall healthcare costs they should be mandating this, which I dub - the Lee Marvin * Healthcare Plan.

* An iconic and accomplished actor - one of my all time favorites. A man's man who, though he may have been more careful in life, did more than his share of drinkin' and smokin' on the screen.

But jk thinks:

I was bo-orn, under a wand'rin' star...

Yeah, I'm in.

Posted by: jk at September 3, 2009 12:22 PM

September 1, 2009

But They'll Rock with Health Care II

Don Surber: IOUs 4 Clunkers

“I wonder how long they’d wait if I owed them $3.2 million. I think they’d be at my door or at least my banker’s door,” said Dave Billion, owner of Billion Automotive.

That is how much Cash 4 Clunkers owes him.

If you cannot run a cash giveaway for cars, how can you run a $2 trillion medical industry?

Posted by John Kranz at 7:44 PM | What do you think? [5]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

As Billy Beck put it,

I don't feel sorry for them. They're the ones who stepped in this goddamned commie nonsense, and they can walk or crawl through it on their knees, for all I care.

When you deal in stolen money, all bets are off. Too bad.

And he is correct. This money was taken from We the Taxpayer by force, to be given "back" to a few. I did not and would not participate in that program, so I won't ever see the money again. However, I can have small solace to see some dealerships getting ****-****ed in the end.

Maybe, just maybe, they'll learn a lesson from this. Don't deal with stolen money, instead conducting business honestly. Didn't they ever hear of the old adage, "No honor among thieves"?

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 2, 2009 9:04 AM
But jk thinks:

It didn't even occur to me that car dealers are the virtuous ones when compared to government.

You and Mister Beck are correct -- I'm not weeping for the dealers. But I join Surber in asking how they think they can run 16% of GDP when they can't administer this goofy-ass little car program.

Posted by: jk at September 2, 2009 10:57 AM
But johngalt thinks:

The other lesson here is for physicians and other medical providers who believe their worries will melt away once the government pays all of their accounts receivable. Suppose they'll be able to pay their mortgages and student loans with the IOU's they get from the feds?

Posted by: johngalt at September 2, 2009 1:03 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Oops, I must not have put a tag in correctly. Billy's post was up to the "Too bad."

JK: yes indeed, it's a small taste of what we have to come. They bungled this, but we'll be told, well, it was a much smaller program, and they'll know better when rolling out the big one. It reminds me of a line from "Wall Street": "'Course my son did work three summers as a baggage handler and freight loader. With those qualifications, why should I doubt his ability to run an airline?"

JG: IOUs are working so well in California, so what are you worried about!

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 2, 2009 1:55 PM
But jk thinks:

I think I got your tags fixed, Perry. I also took the time to fix a typo in mine and change the term "this goofy little car program" to "this goofy-ass little car program."

Editing counts!

Posted by: jk at September 2, 2009 2:30 PM

But They'll Rock with Health Care

Metro to Close National Airport Station + Two Others Over Labor Day Weekend

Maintenance is very important. I just hope they get double time for working on Labor Day!

Hat-tip: @mkhammer

Quote of the Day

Quote from a game site: "August is the start of the fall/winter gaming schedule." Yes, it's time to start working on that base pallor.-- @Lileks
Posted by John Kranz at 1:06 PM | What do you think? [1]
But Lisa M thinks:

Teaser for the "Today Show" this morning:

"Time for back to school; time to start worrying about swine flu again."

Posted by: Lisa M at September 1, 2009 9:49 PM

Another Graph for Nature

Professor Mankiw gets an email from across the river (I'm a Western guy but I thought Harvard and MIT guys didn't talk). MIT's David Cesarini plots sons' IQ scores against biological fathers' income figures and gets a good correlation.


UPDATE: Jason Richwine at American is similarly intrigued.

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

And the correlation remains when those sons are raised by different fathers - genetics matter.

So based on statistical analysis, if a single woman wants the most successful children she should inseminate from a tall, high-earning left handed man? This could be President Obama's post-presidential career.

Posted by: johngalt at September 1, 2009 12:19 PM
But Keith thinks:

Nice. So, considering President Obama's genetic father, are we to draw a conclusion here, or are we to simply label this as an outlier?

Just sayin'.

Posted by: Keith at September 1, 2009 2:06 PM

Tax Crybabies!

Yeah, I'm talkin' to you!

James Pethokoukis links to a National Post column by Diane Francis. She recommends a $1.4 Trillion annual tax hike, which got Jimmy P's attention, but I am more disturbed by the tone. To Francis, the Europeanization of the United States is a fait accompli. It's just a question of when, so why don't you losers get on with it?

Like others living outside the United States, I'm very unsympathetic to this whining and deficit-riddled form of governance. It's ruinous for the rest of the world and has been a contributing factor to the economic mess we're all in nowadays.

Americans are tax crybabies, but their spendthrift party will have to end. For the first time, there are hushed whispers in Washington's policy corridors of a possible federal VAT, or GST, across the land to right the listing ship of state.
To Canadians, and the rest of the free/developed world, an across-the-board sales tax -- either a value-added tax or a goods and services tax -- is not only a no-brainer but, quite possibly, a world saver now. Europeans pay roughly 15% in VAT and most Canadians pay nearly the same in sales taxes to their provinces and the feds, Alberta excepted.

The missing word is "freedom" Ms. Francis. Unlike Canada and " the rest of the free/developed world" a few of us still believe that we can spend our own money better than the government.

I don't know for how long...

Posted by John Kranz at 11:05 AM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

Why is an across-the-board sales tax a potential "world saver" when imposed on Americans but somehow hasn't already saved the world with its existence in Canada and the rest of the free/developed world?

I know, it must be Alberta's fault.

Posted by: johngalt at September 1, 2009 12:14 PM
But jk thinks:

Dammned knuckle-draggin', dumb-ass, oil-sands Albertans! Ruining the whole world!

Posted by: jk at September 1, 2009 1:02 PM

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