October 31, 2009

Halloween Thought

@michellebranch: Do slutty girls wear normal clothes on Halloween?
Have a great one, y'all!
Posted by John Kranz at 6:04 PM | What do you think? [2]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I celebrated my ninth straight year of not having to run to the front door all evening long! Ah, the benefits of a private road...

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at November 2, 2009 10:59 AM
But jk thinks:

Hmmm. The condo is not well set up for trick-or-treating and I confess that I miss it.

Posted by: jk at November 2, 2009 11:54 AM

Tea Partiers Get First Scalp

That will certainly be the spin, and I am not disposed to contradict it. New York Republicans ran a woman for whom RINO seems too kind. The Tea Party crowd came out big for the Conservative Party candidate and was pitted against the GOP establishment in the person of Speaker Gingrich (praise be upon the 104th Congress).

Yesterday, the polls turned toward the Conservative candidate and today:

Republican Dede Scozzafava has suspended her bid in next Tuesday’s NY 23 special election, a huge development that dramatically shakes up the race. She did not endorse either of her two opponents -- Conservative party candidate Doug Hoffman or Democrat Bill Owens.

The decision to suspend her campaign is a boost for Hoffman, who already had the support of 50 percent of GOP voters, according to a newly-released Siena poll, and is now well-positioned to win over the 25 percent of Republicans who had been sticking with Scozzafava.


Instapundit had highlighted a suggestion by blogger Bill Quick for Scozzafava to drop out. I could not understand why she would -- in solidarity for a candidate she didn't agree with? That's like saying "jk, if you'd just shut up, we could pass socialized medicine." "Well, all right then..."

In all the hubbub, I confess that I have not paid a lot of attention to Hoffman's views. Many of his big supporters are a bit more populist than I am, but they say he's the real deal (for example, I cite St. Louis blogger/talk show host Dana Loesch).

If every journey begins with a single step, I would call this one significant.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 11:46 AM | What do you think? [10]
But jk thinks:

Happy as I was, I was going to revisit this issue. FOXNews (not a real news organization, but what you gonna do?) said that Scozzafava was "pro-Choice and pro gay marraige." Are those her crimes?

Posted by: jk at November 2, 2009 12:19 PM
But Keith thinks:

Pro-choice, pro-homosexual marriage, pro-Big-Labor, pro Card Check, pro-ACORN, pro-high-taxes, pro-government-owned healthcare. This wasn't a case of a purge of someone failing a litmus test or two. This was a case of a candidate with an R after her name being farther left than her Democrat opponent.

I, like most people (I hope), understand that I'm never going to get everything I want from a candidate; politics today boils down to getting some or most of what you want instead of none of it. If a candidate agrees with me on 75% of what's important to me and his opponent disagrees with me on 75%, I'm not going to withhold my vote - hell, I held my nose and voted for McCain.

The issue in the NY-23 is that Scozzofava had zero percent in alignment with conservatives. She didn't fail a litmus test; she failed the entrance exam.

Posted by: Keith at November 2, 2009 12:33 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Oh no, Keith, this was a supposed reporter, not an op-ed columnist. The article was masqueraded as news.

Trust me, if it had been that blowhard Rich, I'd have remembered it with his holier-than-thou, smug smile.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at November 2, 2009 2:03 PM
But Keith thinks:

Apparently the "journalist" and Frank Rich are both working from the same talking points:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/01/opinion/01rich.html?_r=1

Posted by: Keith at November 2, 2009 2:35 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:
But nanobrewer thinks:


She was a big Cap'n Tax supporter as well, as I heard it. Barely a Specter of a Republican :-)

[Aftermath computing]: if the 7000 absentee ballots for the Scofflaw had all gone to Hoffman, he'd have won the seat. Bad GOP, easy on the eye of Newt!

Posted by: nanobrewer at November 4, 2009 12:24 PM

October 30, 2009

Stop It! You're Making the Mountains Too Tall!

Blog Friend sc will surely turn in his SUV keys when he sees this: Taller Mountains Blamed on Global Warming

The mountains in Europe are growing taller and melting glaciers are partly responsible, scientists say.

Heavy glaciers cause the Earth's crust to flex inward slightly. When glaciers disappear, the crust springs back and the overlaying mountains are thrust skyward, albeit slowly.

The European Alps have been growing since the end of the last little Ice Age in 1850 when glaciers began shrinking as temperatures warmed, but the rate of uplift has accelerated in recent decades because global warming has sped up the rate of glacier melt, the researchers say.


Hat-tip: Scrivener

But Silence Dogood thinks:

Now I know where to go when the sea level rises.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at October 31, 2009 12:15 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Gosh, if I'd known this "scientific fact" before then I'd never have objected to a 20 percent surtax on all American energy use and government
"bankrupting" of the coal and oil industries. By all means, reduce American productivity to that of Madagascar to keep the Alps down to size!

Posted by: johngalt at October 31, 2009 3:46 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

New theory - Earth warms, glaciers melt, sea level rises, lack of weight of glaciers causes mountains to rise, heating expands earth's crust and everything just balances out. I am still convinced that scientists will someday discover that cancer is genetic in rats and a whole bunch of research will get thrown out.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at November 1, 2009 9:41 AM

Quote of the Day

The Fed will not reject it when we, I promise you, next year, take up legislatively the issue. And I think it’s very clear. You should not have private citizens like the presidents of the regional banks voting on policy. -- Rep. Barney Frank
I know that there is little common ground on the FOMC around ThreeSources. But I think we might all agree that having the professional politicians in Frank's Finance Committee take over for the amateur private citizen bankers is NOT the solution.

This from the inestimable and unspellable James Pethokoukis, who suggests "...it is clear Congress wants to have more influence over the Fed. This, right at the time when global financial markets will have to remain confident America will not inflate its way out of its debt."

FOMC Posted by John Kranz at 3:47 PM | What do you think? [1]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Fear not, we'll soon have Bernanke's unrepressed, overindulgent "experimentation" combined with Frank's half-incompetent, half-malicious "Dr. Evil" blubbering!

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at November 2, 2009 11:25 AM

Too Big to Fail

ThreeSources blog friend the Everyday Economist has a great compendium post up. [Spoiler alert: EE is ag'in it!]

Ultimately, the debate about the limits of the Fed’s abilities as lender of last resort and the doctrine of “too big to fail” boil down to the same principles that arose in the rules versus discretion debate for monetary policy. Discretion generates uncertainty in that the behavior of the actor cannot be predicted. As John Taylor has documented so well in his recent research, the erratic and inconsistent behavior of the Federal Reserve and the Treasury during the financial crisis can explain why the crisis (and corresponding economic performance) got so much worse in the months of September and October of last year.

Moving forward, policy needs to be guided not by the discretion of the central bank or the Treasury secretary, but rather by the rule of law. Orderly and predictable bankruptcy procedures for all firms and the elimination of the doctrine of “too big to fail” would go a long way toward making potential future financial crises less severe (and might prevent others altogether).


But johngalt thinks:

Firstly, "Hear, hear!"

Secondly, if "too big to fail" is an established doctrine shouldn't it be capitalized?

Finally, because something is Too Big to Fail doesn't mean that it won't, or can't, do exactly that. Take President Obama for example. His presidency is "too big to fail" but he continues to do so on a regular basis.

Posted by: johngalt at October 31, 2009 3:57 PM

Our Margaret

I stopped reading Peggy Noonan many moons ago, but the new WSJ navigation makes it difficult. Sometimes you click and it's too late:.

The biggest threat to America right now is not government spending, huge deficits, foreign ownership of our debt, world terrorism, two wars, potential epidemics or nuts with nukes. The biggest long-term threat is that people are becoming and have become disheartened, that this condition is reaching critical mass, and that it afflicts most broadly and deeply those members of the American leadership class who are not in Washington, most especially those in business.

What happened to this woman? I don't mind a bit of twaddle on the Internet, but this if from somebody who was one of the great voices her generation.

UPDATE: Funny, Professor Reynolds links positively, highlighting a "going John Galt" angle to the story. If people "go John Galt" (or even "go JK") because they are disheartened, that is not it. People go John Galt because they are, or obviously will be, subject to public usufruct.

But johngalt thinks:

I won't endure any more by clicking the link but judging by your excerpt I can only describe her "insights" as insipid blathering.

The only connection between Noonan and Galt is that she's the type who would ask, "Who is John Galt?"

Posted by: johngalt at October 31, 2009 3:21 PM

Word of the Day

Ukase: 1 : a proclamation by a Russian emperor or government having the force of law
(M-W)

Use it in a sentence, jk! Well, let me quote Stanford Law Professor Michael McConnell:

Mr. [Pay Czar Kenneth] Feinberg's ukase is the most prominent example (and not just by the Obama administration) of the exercise of power by an individual unilaterally appointed by the executive branch without Senate confirmation—and thus outside the ordinary channels of Congressional oversight.

McConnell is director of Stanford's Constitutional Law Center and his editorial asks what some ThreeSourcers have been asking for a while: what is his Constitutional footing for these Executive arrogations?

Some other Law Professor in Tennessee who has a little blog mentions: "You know, if a Republican President were doing this many bizarre things, public-interest lawyers would be suing right and left to stop them." I wonder where the media is [hey, stop laughing out there!] President Bush was barraged with accusations -- some well deserved -- of his and VP Cheney's "shredding the Constitution." Both were unabashed believers in Executive power.

Now that the new administration has turned the dial up from 8 to 11, these once fierce watchdogs are suddenly pretty comfortable with unipartate government: Humphrey’s Executor v United States anybody?

-------------------------------------------------------------

By the way, yesterday's Word of the Day comes from my brother: condylarth (noun) a fossil herbivorous mammal of the early Tertiary period, ancestral to the ungulates. Do not play hangman with my brother, just don't!


October 29, 2009

America's Stadium

Y'Know, like Rudolph Giuliani is America's Mayor.

If I can't get you into the Phillies' camp for NL loyalty, anti-DH sentiment, or solidarity with our Keystone State blog brothers, maybe I can upset you with news that you're paying for the new Yankee Stadium, wherever you live in America. Scrivener:

The stadium's construction costs have been publicly subsidized in the form of $942 million in tax-exempt bonds issued by New York City.

Seeking tax-free status for the bonds to ensure a lower interest rate, New York structured the deal to ensure it didn't run afoul of a federal tax code provision which requires that such bonds not be "private activity bonds" [issued to benefit a private business, such as say the New York Yankees Partnership, rather than the city government].

This serves as a huge benefit because the bonds are exempt from city, state, and federal taxes, and have an interest rate about 25 percent below that of taxable bonds.

There are two parts to this financing scheme which seem "foul." First, the new Yankee Stadium will be city-owned and thus exempt from property taxes. Meanwhile its primary tenant, the Yankees, will pay no rent. This clearly brings up the issue of whether such tax-exempt bonds should have been issued at all, and especially when the city is so far in the red.


On the series: I have never seen a more amazing sports performance that Mister Lee's nine-inning-zero-earned-runs performance last night. Stunning in its elegance.

And one of you baseball heads has seriously got to educate me why batters take on 3-0. It disturbs me so badly, I can barely watch the sport any more. Merciful Zeus, you get in a position of immense power. Then you let the guy off a little. Then one foul tip and the count is full. Did anybody ever ask Ayn Rand about this? Is not man entitled to a big lead in the count if he has earned it?

I kid, but I have asked dozens of people. Even a couple ex-pro ballplayers I know and I have never heard a good answer. One of the pros just lit up and said when you get a green light on 3-0, it is the greatest feeling in the world. Why is it so rare? sez me, but he was off in the distance, the sun was shining, he was up 3-0 and his wife's uncle was nowhere to be seen...

Posted by John Kranz at 3:39 PM | What do you think? [4]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

JK- I think that swinging on 3-0 is about like splitting 10s on the blackjack table. Good things can happen, but the odds just aren't with you.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at October 29, 2009 4:30 PM
But jk thinks:

Definitely one of the better explanations. I'd reply that the cards don't know what you're going to do but the pitcher does. If he did not suspect that the .223 hitter he’s facing would take, he might paint the corners and deliver a walk. At present, it's just a gift for the pitchers' self-esteem.

Posted by: jk at October 29, 2009 5:06 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Yeah, but with a .223 hitter, there is less than a 1 in 4 chance that he'll get a hit. If he takes the pitch, there is a 1 in 2 chance that he'll get on base and a 0% chance that he'll make an out. Remember, on a 3-0 count, the pitcher is struggling with control. A strike is not a certainty.

With all of the inane and obtuse stats that baseball keeps, I've got to believe that they've well analyzed the odds in this situation. Even a .333 hitter only has a 1 in 3 chance of getting a hit, and .333 hitters are pretty rare.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at October 29, 2009 6:08 PM
But jk thinks:

Unlike my politics, I do not claim that I am right and the whole world is wrong on this [insert smiley face]. I share your belief that the stats-crunching managers have a good probabilistic footing.

The problem I see is the pitcher knowing that the batter is taking. Control problems or not, these guys are not President Obama they can hit the plate if they know nobody's swinging at it [no need for smiley face, people know me].

Is it not a prisoners' dilemma? If more batters swung it would force more pitchers to miss. With the automatic take no batters swing and -- knowing this -- no pitchers miss. Just call it 3-1; there's no such count as 3-0.

Posted by: jk at October 30, 2009 11:03 AM

Quote of the Day

But as I am listening to the hearing on executive compensation and TARP special master (how crippy is this title?), I realize we are now officially living in a world that resembles an Ayn Rand novel. One man, one unelected government official, not even a Cabinet member confirmed by the Senate, has the power cut the pay of executives in private businesses by 50 percent or 90 percent in the banks the government now “owns.” A single individual is given too much power without accountability. But more importantly, this charade masks the fact that the world we live in has nothing to do with capitalism. It’s nothing more than crony capitalism. The government went around bailing out out automobile companies that were producing cars that people didn’t want to buy, bailing out banks that were careless with their capital and assets, and bailing out homeowners that couldn’t afford the houses they were buying. -- Veronique de Rugy
Posted by John Kranz at 12:24 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

Crony capitalism indeed. More and more people are publicly acknowledging that Rand's prediction has come true in the "land of the free." But Veronique obfuscates the issue by using government bailouts as her evidence.

Last night I finally got around to watching Sean Hannity's 30 minute interview with Michael Moore from earlier this month. I wanted to strangle Hannity as he tenaciously blamed "irresponsible home buyers" for the mortgage meltdown against Moore's defensible argument that it resulted from profiteering banks making bad loans. Hannity, and Veronique, really should be emphasizing the causative effects of President Carter's Community Reinvestment Act and President Clinton's use of bank regulators to compel EVERY bank to make those bad loans. I almost thought Moore and Hannity could have agreed that the enemy is not capitalism, or low-income Americans, but egalitarian government policies and regulations.

Blaming capitalism for the failures of the American economic system is like blaming oxygen for forest fires.

Posted by: johngalt at October 29, 2009 2:12 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

Thank you JG for exposing Hannity as an idiot on this one, although this is my main complaint against what is now called "balanced journalism" where you simply hear from wing nuts on both sides and call it balanced. Thoughtful people in the middle would obvioiusly throw everything out of balance.

Blame capitalism for failure? Failure is an important part of capitalism, surely I am preaching to the choir here? The economic system did not fail, what failed was the finance system, or the system of capital and lending. A big part of any economy to be sure, but let's be clear about what failed. Government (insert good word between encouraged and compelled) banks to make more loans so as not to discriminate against the poor(!) Banks responded by creating a mechanism of derivatives to offset their risk. Many people profited from home buyers to banks and up through all the players in the insurance and derivative markets. The one "flaw" in capitalism took over, namely the boom and bust effect as everyone piled on the money train until it became unsustainable and went bust.

With no apologies to Hannity or Moore the problem is no real discussion of this underlying elephant of an issue, do we want to control the natural boom and bust cycle of capitalism, and if so, how much can we without destroying it's benefits?

Posted by: Silence Dogood at November 1, 2009 10:05 AM

Only 534 Losers

And one Flake:

Seriously, Rep. Flake always seems to be on the right side. There are a few other Congressfolk and Senators that I admire somewhat, but nobody is so on all the time as Rep. Flake.

Hat-tip: Instapundit, who applauds his Confucian wit.

111th Congress Posted by John Kranz at 11:28 AM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

I like his idea of encouraging American travel to Cuba, to "see what it's like." To the collection of amusement and theme parks in this country would be added, "Communist Land." Hey kiddies, don't miss the "Apparatchiks Run my Neighborhood" ride by spending too much time in line for bread.

Posted by: johngalt at October 29, 2009 2:38 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

A thoughtful and intelligent politician? Let's make sure he doesn't get to much air time! Yeah, he has the health care line in there, but the bigger picture is that free trade is better foreign policy than sanctions or military action. Meanwhile the left holds on to the first and the right the second and neither works.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at November 1, 2009 10:14 AM

Happy Days are Here Again

3Q growth is positive. Recession over. Whew, that was terrible, glad it is over.

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

When I saw this news, I thought, "If the GDP growth is supposed to be so good, why am I still so pessimistic?"

Previous rebounds have been sharper than this. Three-odd percent is just normal growth. Loose monetary policy alone has historically produced bigger rebounds, and right now we have as loose monetary policy as we've had (plus monetizing the debt) with fiscal stimulus.

And even if you believe the Keynesian bunk, it's all "government stimulus," so the economic boost will fade. Then where will we be?

Oh, and when the economy does start growing, and demand for goods and services returns to normal, we'll have inflation thanks to the massively inflated money supply.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at October 29, 2009 11:42 AM
But jk thinks:

Jimmy P adds some cold water (don't need that in Colorado today!)

That the US economy has stopped shrinking is certainly good news. But what kind of recovery is this? Strip out Cash for Clunkers and 3Q GDP growth came in at 1.6 percent. Also strip out slowing inventory cuts and GDP would have been just 0.6 percent. Then you have a report that the WH has overestimated the number of jobs created by the stimulus.

Posted by: jk at October 29, 2009 1:58 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

"Then you have a report that the WH has overestimated the number of jobs created by the stimulus."

Of course it overestimated. One net job is overestimation; remember your Bastiat.

These jobs were created courtesy of newly created money, but they are still a shift: jobs today at the expense of private sector jobs in the future.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at October 29, 2009 2:12 PM

October 28, 2009

'Nother One for JG

In our continuing quest to run down the President, we bring you...

No, Blog Brother Johngalt asked for examples of disingenuousness from the President for use in a family email thread. Here's one (video at the link).

Candidate Barack Obama: “When I’m elected president you’re going to see this health care legislation written in the open. It’s going to be on C-SPAN, and you’ll be able to see all the different people arguing to see whether they’re on your side or they’re on the side of the drug companies and the insurance companies and so on. But you’ll be able to see that process on C-SPAN.”

Small point of order -- the guys in my side are "on the side of the drug companies and the insurance companies and so on" but that is off-point. Candidate/Senator Obama promised all kinds of transparency: 48 hours of bills online, CSPAN debates, &c. President Obama, conversely, is selecting which private companies constitute news organizations and ramming bills through the legislative process even too fast for Congress (think about that...)

UPDATE: Also curious that he had no compunction about dictating policy to the Legislative Branch and sadly less curious that noone called him on it.


Murdochavellian

Sturm and drang reigned when Rupert Murdoch bought the Wall Street Journal. The guy whose cable TV network is not really even a news organization was buying a flagship national paper.

I think the results have been pretty uneventful. The news pages have not gone FOXNews. But I do claim that the editorial page photographs have gone a little NY Post. Gone are the romantic retro woodcut illustrations. They have been replaced by full color photos. And if the photo editor likes you, you do okay, Speaker Pelosi has a Nightmare-on-K-Street photo that repeats frequently, and a common photo of the President makes him look a little hectoring.

Today's photo of Pay Czar, however, is my new favorite. This is the guy who is telling you how much money you can make! Here he is seemingly caught in the act:

feinberg.jpg

Now anybody who appoints, approves, or accepts a position of Pay Czar in the United States certainly deserves this and worse. I just find it funny. Less humor abounds in the attached Homan Jenkins, Jr. editorial:

Mr. Feinberg is an apt symbol indeed, for this gamble is built on the conceit that Washington can hector the recipients, whether auto companies, banks or homeowners, into behaving in ways that are "responsible." So far, however, human nature is proving a disappointment: Take the outbreak of tax fraud related to the government's emergency home-buyer's credit.

Nor is the larger gamble looking so good either. Banks continue to fail at an alarming rate, the dollar is under assault, and Washington is looking at a future of trillion-dollar deficits. One might have guessed it would take a decade of Obamanomics to produce European welfare state levels of youth unemployment, but at 18.5% we're there.


But the picture is great.

But Keith thinks:

I do miss those classy woodcuts. Much more gravitas than USA Today-style color photos.

Posted by: Keith at October 28, 2009 3:59 PM
But jk thinks:

Really questionable from a branding perspective: you could recognize the WSJ from across the airport terminal thanks to those.

Posted by: jk at October 29, 2009 2:00 PM

Government leads the way

This is a big deal:

L.A. votes to "Go Google"; pressure shifts to Google and the cloud

The Los Angeles City Council today voted unanimously to “Go Google,” approving a $7.25 million contract to outsource the city’s e-mail system to Google’s cloud and transition some 30,000 city employees to the cloud over the coming year, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.

Clearly, this is a big deal for the city of Los Angeles. But this vote is also monumental for cloud computing as a whole, which has gained popularity and widespread interest but still relatively little adoption as companies - and municipalities, apparently - weigh the anticipated cost benefits over the unknown risks that might come with system failures or data breaches.


It interests me first on a tech level. Cloud computing makes a lot of sense to me, and an adopter of this size will be a huge uplift. I'm more interested in cloud back-end than the Google front-end, but this is pretty ballsy of them to do both.

On the political side, it's probably not ballsy. Have the unions made it to IT yet? (That AFSCME video runs through my head every day.) I am guessing this is a "safe" place for governments to try to save money without disrupting the unionized workforce.

If you're down at city hall, Brother Keith, paying some speeding tickets or something, be sure to tell them that jk says "well done!"

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

Somebody hit a nerve with speeding tickets???????

I'll do the cloud defense. I am guessing the seven million and change was deemed a lot less expensive than paying your super-productive municipal worker to manage physical hardware and Microsoft applications. Were it close, they'd certainly keep the drones for patronage positions. So I say it is a cost cutting move and potentially smart.

On the security, that will be up to Google and again, I am comparing your average Google tech with the guys at the DMV and I don't think you're stepping down. For Google <charliechanvoice>with great opportunity come great danger</charliechanvoice> if their security is not up to snuff, they have lost the ability to sell cloud computing.

Posted by: jk at October 28, 2009 4:09 PM
But Keith thinks:

Heh - no, I've managed to avoid enriching the LAPD on the speeding ticket issue...

You don't have to defend cloud to me, I'm a supporter; in fact, because the LA City government manages to have everything it touches turn to Mazola and messily run through their fingers, I'm merely stunned to see them make a RIGHT decision. Stopped clock and all that, I suppose, plus I never miss an opportunity to take a poke at Mayor Villadivorsa.

Posted by: Keith at October 28, 2009 4:31 PM
But jk thinks:

A hot Mustang and no tickets -- you are truly a man of discipline and control!

No doubt I'm being too anguine, governmnet will screw it up somehow, but I think this might be a really good move.

Posted by: jk at October 28, 2009 5:38 PM
But Keith thinks:

Full disclosure: I didn't say no tickets. Just none by the LAPD.

Carry on...

Posted by: Keith at October 28, 2009 6:22 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Once I'd been married to his sister for long enough that I thought he considered me "family" I asked my brother-in-law, an LAPD sargeant, how to get out of speeding tickets. He said, "Drive the speed limit."

Yeah, like anyone's gonna do that.

Posted by: johngalt at October 29, 2009 3:53 PM
But jk thinks:

I've had many disagreements with Speaker Gingrich o'er the years, but there's a bon mot of his that describes American culture very well. He claims that speed limits are "benchmarks of opportunity." A quote for the ages.

Posted by: jk at October 29, 2009 5:09 PM

October 27, 2009

Ralph Nader versus Rep. Frank

Must see to believe. I cannot embed, but grab a barf bag and listen all the way to the end. Rep Barney Frank defends himself from charges of inaction by Ralph Nader: "We Are Trying On Every Front To Increase The Role Of Government." Got it Ralph? You irrelevant (and strangely svelte) piece of putrefied horseflesh!

Hat-tip: Insty

UPDATE: Larry Kudlow Responds:

Thanks Below the Beltway


Quote of the Day

WH Press Sec Robert Gibbs goes to a baseball analogy to explain the Executive Branch's "War on FOX!" :A little chin music to back the batter of the plate. QOTD goes to commenter Tulpa at Reason's Hit and Run blog:

Considering that Obama can't even throw the ball to the plate without skipping it on the grass a couple of times, I don't think "chin music" is the best analogy. Maybe "shoelace music".

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

Behind That Dark Cloud? A Darker Cloud!

James Pethokoukis links to a depressing outlook, but I dare you tell me where David Rosenberg is wrong.

Hope! Change! I'm not excerpting, take a Valium® and click...

Posted by John Kranz at 1:04 PM | What do you think? [0]

Huh? Incentives Matter?

Instapundit continues his "going Galt" chronicles with some sobering statistics of NYC revenue.

The average Manhattan taxpayer who left the state earned $93,264 a year. The average newcomer to Manhattan earned only $72,726.

That's a difference of $20,538, the highest for any county in the state. Staten Island was second, with a $20,066 difference.

It all adds up to staggering loss in taxable income. During 2006-2007, the "migration flow" out of New York to other states amounted to a loss of $4.3 billion.


If these guys won't see liberty and principles, they should at least consider the Laffer Curve.

But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

It's tempered a bit by the probability that some of those New Yorkers retired and moved to Florida, so I'd be curious to see how many left the state and kept working in their new state. But overall, I can personally assure you that it's too true.

Westchester is ridiculous with all the tax increases, but there's no way in hell I'd live in any of the boroughs. Were it not for a couple of things, we'd have moved to Connecticut by now, maybe Nassau County (except the LIRR sucketh rocks). As if either were significantly better, though? It's a matter of going to where the water isn't boiling...not yet.

And to hell with New Jersey, that cesspool.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at October 27, 2009 12:23 PM
But jk thinks:

Old country song had it: "'T' for Texas, 'T' for Tennessee."

At least New York was always bad (well, since John Jay died...) Here in Colorado we have to watch a low-tax, high freedom state being dismantled in front of our eyes.

Posted by: jk at October 27, 2009 1:00 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

Chin up JK, Colorado still rocks, and the property taxes have the east coast beat by a mile. We can sink quite a ways and still not be in their league. There is a beautiful snow falling tonight and the girls are warm in their beds hoping madly for a snow day tomorrow. Perry, you don't know what you are missing. I did my time in Jersey, 6 months was enough even if Westfield was an OK town. My wife worked on Wall Street (for AIG even, just to get the dirty laundry fully out) and hated the train and subway ride to the World Trade Center (RIP).

Posted by: Silence Dogood at October 28, 2009 12:11 AM
But jk thinks:

I don't give Governor Ritter and the all-Democratic bicameral legislature credit for the climate, which is so perfect, I will never leave. (Yes, in spite of the green jobs initiative, I still consider that supra-government!)

On the dark side, Silence, we don't have the money to pay prison guards but we're building light rail. But hay, maybe your wife can learn to hate the public transportation here in a couple of years.

Posted by: jk at October 28, 2009 11:55 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I lived in Utah for 14 years, so I know how nice and inexpensive the Intermountain West can be. But my job is here, and I like where I live, so thus far it's worth it to put up with the politics.

It was also worth it for American colonists to put up with British policies until 1775. They did more than shrug.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at October 28, 2009 2:50 PM

October 26, 2009

What Color is that Coat?

It happened so fast, I never told ThreeSources. But I am completely hooked on this show. Nathan Fillion is awesome. It has a superb ensemble supporting cast. The stories are clever. And -- even without vampires -- it has a lot of Whedonesque cinematography. I don't recognize veterans on the credits, but the folks doing this show are serious fans at the least.

Lastly, Detective Beckett is the answer for everybody on Sarah Connor withdrawal. They call on a millionaire who has a gun registered in the caliber used on a murder. He says "it hasn't been fired in years." "Or cleaned," returns Beckett disdainfully.

I started watching Season Two live, and I got the DVDs from Season One on Netflix. -- in a couple of days I will be fully caught up.

I give it five stars. The stories are self-contained enough that I would not worry about continuity, you could start anywhere.

UPDATE: It was good to see the brown coat, but that clip is all you get. Correction: this is only the second season of Castle, not third as I said in the original post (since corrected). And, yes, I have seen all the episodes now.

Television Posted by John Kranz at 7:51 PM | What do you think? [5]
But Silence Dogood thinks:

Welcome to the club JK. I too love this show after my wife got me hooked on it. Love the chemistry between Castle and Beckett.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at October 27, 2009 12:23 AM
But jk thinks:

Indeed, Silence (hey, it's your password today!) I do not think that has ever been done better, maybe the early days of Joel and Maggie on Northern Exposure. But those two are perfect.

Posted by: jk at October 27, 2009 10:39 AM
But jk thinks:

Begging the question...have you and your lovely bride watched Firefly?

Posted by: jk at October 27, 2009 1:12 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

No, we should grab those on Netflix, we really do enjoy Nathan. Not to stray too far from the political discussions, but do you watch Burn Notice? Another good show along similar lines.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at October 27, 2009 11:54 PM
But jk thinks:

TV talk is always welcomed around here. Firefly does not lack for political undertones and you can add it to dark coffee as that which unities us. (Don't let that scare you off. Only for its extreme lack of longevity is it not indisputably the best show ever on television.)

Posted by: jk at October 28, 2009 12:44 PM

Come Home John, We Need You!

John Stossel, who used to work for an Executive Branch Certified Media Organization (look for the Obama -- FairNews® label!) hits an important point today that needs to be made to his old audience. And he quoted Milton Friedman to boot:

There are people going to jail for insider trading and I think it has been a great mistake. You should want more insider trading, not less. You want to give the people most likely to have knowledge about deficiencies of the company an incentive to make the public aware of that.

Only the government could think it's a good idea to chase information out of capital markets. The market is there to direct capital to its best uses.

But Silence Dogood thinks:

I can't begin to know what or how much regulation we should have because truth be told I just don't understand it enough. Unfortunately I think the same could be said for those in public office who are creating the regulations. Enron it seems to me (see caveat in first sentence) was more about simply keeping a fake set of books. Any insider trading may have profited the execs but had little effect on the overall loss of value.

Where I part ways with Gordon Gekko is the shift toward "greed is good". I may get hammered here for this, but I completely disagree. Greed tends to be a short term view, and here is where I see investors and the company they are investing in as not sharing the same goals. You can say that the investors are technically the company, but companies get swallowed up, sold off, and broken up, all of which can be very good for the investors and very bad for the company. The current mortgage mess has awoken people to the pyramid scheme style of complex market derivatives, but I contend that any time you make money without providing a good or a service it is deep down a house of cards just waiting to tumble. Is this where regulation steps in, or could you have prosecuted many in the industry with fraud if the right people had been paying attention? More regulators and less regulation, so we keep the regulation light and simple, but scrutinize the transactions closely for compliance with existing law? I think the complexity of the system overwhelmed not only the regulators, but many inside the system as well. But again with pressure for short term gains, long term prudence flies out the window.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at October 26, 2009 7:52 PM
But jk thinks:

Silence, I would have to blame government meddling both for the short-term greed vs. long-term investment you oppose and the hypervolatility in derivatives.

Austrian Business Cycle Theory is based in large part upon the tradeoff of current production for future gains. Rational actors could make intelligent decisions about this but are forced to adapt to government regulation, GAAP accounting rules (and, let me say it for the others around here, fiat currency). I think you might agree that a good balance of short-term and long-term thinking is required. I think regulation forces short-term thinking more than evil ol' greed.

I may misread you, but I have to reject any suggestion that manufacturing a tire is fundamentally different from creating or investing in derivatives. Derivatives are useful for price discovery and invaluable for getting the risk in the hands of those best equipped to handle it. If you make cookies and sell them in Europe, you can hedge your positions on commodities and currency so that you are not wiped out when sugar rises or the dollar falls.

That has value and is no worse than betting your life insurance company that you're going to die. The derivatives you're concerned with were a problem because the asset behind them fell precipitously. Here I suggest mortgage backed securities and derivatives based on them were more volatile because of -- not in spire of -- government regulation.

Posted by: jk at October 26, 2009 8:52 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

But somebody has to make cookies. It's not the folks buying the sugar derivatives.

"because the asset behind them fell precipitously." That I have to disagree with. It was not the drop in housing values that caused the crash, but the crash that caused a drop in housing values. The derivative market had run through so many levels that no one knew the value of what they were buying. Once they hit the point where there was no one farther down the pyramid willing to purchase the debt (or insure against its default) the notes came due and the paper mountain crumbled. Once this happened the state your income easy credit vanished in a heartbeat and the mortgage takers couldn't keep refinancing to stave off balloon payments and high interest. Those folks were just as complicit in the whole scam, but it was the collapse of the financing system that caused foreclosures and fire sales that resulted in the big drop in value. I chicken your egg!

I will readily agree that the government's belief that everyone should be a homeowner and that owning a home automatically built wealth was the first push that got the ball rolling. I will also contend though that the ability to bundle and sell a mortgage, then sell derivatives of those bundles and on down the line effectively created a pyramid whose only value lay in the ability to add a layer underneath you. A lot of money changed hands without any good produced or real value service provided, thus the bailout required to put money back in the system.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at October 27, 2009 12:55 AM
But jk thinks:

You should have voted for my Buddy, Senator John McCain, last year -- he sees the crisis exactly like you.

I cannot prove mine but will point out that you are omitting the 800 lb. gorilla from yours: Fan & Fred. Imagine either of our scenarios without a government backed purchaser/securitizer of the mortgages, and poof! no more crisis. The government push for home ownership you speak of, and a negative real interest rate.

All three have the common thread of government and I would rank all of them as being significantly more important that "greed and corruption on Wall Street" (Send McCain in because "he's faced tougher guys than this..." I have to stop now, I'm getting ill.)

More importantly, I am not giving ground on the derivative versus the cookie lady. No she makes the sumptuous morsels, but she cannot stay in business without hedging her commodities or currency risk -- just like a store cannot continue without fire insurance. I disagree madly with the mercantilist mentality. To hit home, it places the manufacturer above the engineer -- you don't make nothin', pal, it's those salt of the earth guys who bolt your designs together.

Posted by: jk at October 27, 2009 12:36 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

True enough JK, at least you can compile your own code, without someone to produce my designs they are worth the paper they're printed on. Heck, I am even a manager now so I am even more a drain on society.

I do have to give you the 800lb gorilla - I kinda fessed up and hinted at it already. But, (you just knew there was another but didn't you?) Mr. Banker could have kept his ethics high and required proof of ability to pay to secure a loan. The mortgage industry has a right to complain about Uncle Sam's heavy hand, but once the game was afoot they were more than happy to create a method to enrich themselves along the path to destruction.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at October 28, 2009 12:02 AM
But jk thinks:

Kumbaya, Silence, we are near complete agreement. AN economics professor offers an A to any student in his 101 class who can find a pro-business sentence in Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations.

I love freedom and free enterprise -- those louts who profit from it tend to be rent seekers and price fixers -- just as Smith told us in 1776. Look at them lining up to be the last eaten in ObamaCare.

No, I don't love the banker (except for Perry) but I love the idea of derivatives: getting risk in the hands of those who can best handle it.

Posted by: jk at October 28, 2009 12:53 PM

Quote of the Day

The health-care debate is part of a moral struggle currently being played out over the free enterprise system. It will be replayed in every major policy debate in the coming months, from financial regulatory reform to a cap-and-trade system for limiting carbon emissions. The choices will ultimately always come down to competing visions of America's future. Will we strengthen freedom, individual opportunity and enterprise? Or will we expand the role of the state and its power? -- AEI Chief Arthur Brooks in a great guest editorial on health care in the WSJ
Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 11:41 AM | What do you think? [0]

October 24, 2009

Quote of the Day

No, no, no, no — you have committed apostasy; heresy! You are not allowed to speak of warming except in the most emotional, alarmist tones!

You are not allowed to follow an objective, skeptical line of reasoning in this matter. You are not allowed to consider whether or not it is cost-efficient or even possible to cease all carbon emissions; you simply must do it.


This is from a commenter on the Freakonomics blog, requoted in an elegant attempt by a very sharp (scary) scientist to insert actual reason and scientific principles into the debate. Like Freakonomist Steven Levitt, Nathan Myhrvold is not a DAWG-denier I can claim backs me. But, like Levitt, I think he was surprised at the vitriol of the anti-scientific opposition that emerged to question their supposed heterodoxy.


October 23, 2009

Still defending Alger Hiss

Insty links to a Glenn Garvin article from April 2004's Reason, If I've read it, I've forgotten. Garvin uses a funny, irreverent tone to mock -- really crucify -- the lefties in academia and media who continue to apologize for Communism even after mountains of evidence.

The revisionists' dominion over the domestic side of Cold War history has been even more total. That's been written as melodrama, with the U.S. Communist Party, or CPUSA -- a collection of amiable folk singers, brave anti-segregationists, and Steinbeckian labor organizers -- trying to rescue the maiden of American democracy from the railroad tracks where McCarthy, J. Edgar Hoover, and the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) had tied her down. The revisionists reluctantly gave some ground on the nature of the Soviet Union as Mikhail Gorbachev's glasnost allowed some ugly facts to bubble to the surface, but they were adamant on the U.S. side: The Communist Party was just a lefty variant of the Republicans and Democrats, and people like Alger Hiss and the Rosenbergs were innocent martyrs, the victims of a demented witch hunt.

I'm still laughing at a handful of great lines. To the historian who wants to "move on," he points out that historians can't be bothered with a lot of old stuff. The bon mots come fast and furious.

But I also weep. The revisionists have a complete hold on academia, most of entertainment, and almost all media. We still can't figure out why the West won.

Education Posted by John Kranz at 7:33 PM | What do you think? [0]

Quote of the Day

The role of Obama courtier may suit Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow just fine, but for any real journalist, being blessed as "legitimate" by a powerful politician is a challenge to prove one's independence. -- James Taranto

The Science is Settled!

Dammned, troglodyte, bone-headed deniers of established science! Who do they think they are? Don't they know how many scientists support...relativity?

EVER since Arthur Eddington travelled to the island of Príncipe off Africa to measure starlight bending around the sun during a 1919 eclipse, evidence for Einstein's theory of general relativity has only become stronger. Could it now be that starlight from distant galaxies is illuminating cracks in the theory's foundation?

Clearly, these people are on the payroll of Big Time...

Hat-tip: Insty

Posted by John Kranz at 4:00 PM | What do you think? [2]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Without following the link, who knows what the future will reveal. I personally am skeptical of dark matter and dark energy; some parts are too ad hoc for me.

Regardless, keep in mind that the difference is that Einstein, being an impeccable and real scientist, never presented his ideas as more than the theory of relativity. Contrast this with the junk science masquerading as alleged fact of human-driven global warming.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at October 24, 2009 10:52 AM
But jk thinks:

This is my contention, Perry. I'm no expert on cosmology or atmospheric physics. I find both interesting, but the problem is one of epistemology.

The warmies are not behaving like scientists. There is every chance they might be right but I cannot take them seriously when they say things like "I'm not giving you my data I worked 25 years on so you can poke holes in my theory!" (This was said by the "hockey stick" publisher.) NASA also refused to share its algorithm for computing average temps, forcing others to reverse engineer, and then evaluate it.

If they want to be treated as scientists, then they better hitch up their calculator belts, tape up their horn-rimmed glasses and start behaving as scientists. If they want to be pundits, that's fine too -- but they need to drop their lofty pretexts.

Posted by: jk at October 25, 2009 6:50 PM

Marginal Tax Rates

I say "Marginal Tax Rates" and even the ThreeSources choir gets heavy eyelids (I always say that by the time you get to EBITA, you can put any audience to sleep).

But here's a great story in Forbes that puts a 70% marginal tax rate into perspective. It enumerates the perverse incentives -- and puts human faces on them. Three workers are shown who would be better off working less or not at all.

There are now more than two dozen federal tax breaks, including seven created or expanded by February's $787 billion stimulus, that disappear (often simultaneously) as income rises. As her adjusted gross income climbs from $60,000 to $90,000, a single parent could lose some or all of the $1,000 per child credit, the $2,500 per college student credit, the $400 Making Work Pay credit and the $8,000 first-time home buyer credit, as well as deductions for contributions to an individual retirement account and for interest paid on a student loan. Such gotchas can push up the marginal federal income tax rate--that is, the tax on the next $1 earned--far beyond the top 35% rate imposed on rich folks. For a mom with a $30,000 income, the phaseout of the earned income credit and loss of a federal Pell college grant can produce a 40%-plus marginal rate, without counting Social Security and Medicare taxes.

This is a good column to mail. I don't know that it has any new news for the choir, but it does a superb job showing the tradeoffs from what seem like good programs.

Hat-tip: Instapundit, who sees it as "Going Galt."

But johngalt thinks:

Have our friends in Mayo-ville seen this?

Posted by: johngalt at October 27, 2009 1:20 AM

Some Ammo for Brother JG

Your cousin comes at you with an email, you reply with an IBD editorial, She sends you an AP link, you mail her a copy of Atlas Shrugged. It's the Chicago Way...

I have heard "The Chicago Way" many times (they even had it on the Irish TV series "Ballykissangel"), but I never knew where it was from. Kim Strassel provides a citation, quotes it, and then compares it to the Obama Administration. Great stuff and another Friday jk link to Strassel won't surprise nobody.

But my blog brother was looking for examples of "disingenuousness" from the President. And I feel the biggest bait-and-switch was the promise of "a new kind of politics" that is post-partisan, post-racial, post-political, post-toasties, &c. Candidate/Senator Obama promised Gandhi; President Obama gives us a cross between Nixon and Al Capone.

What makes these efforts notable is that they are not the lashing out of a frustrated political operation. They are calculated campaigns, designed to create bogeymen, to divide the opposition, to frighten players into compliance. The White House sees a once-in-a-generation opportunity on health care and climate. It is obsessed with winning these near-term battles, and will take no prisoners. It knows that CEOs are easily intimidated and (Fox News ratings aside) it is getting some of its way. Besides, roughing up conservatives gives the liberal blogosphere something to write about besides Guantanamo.

The Oval Office might be more concerned with the long term. It is 10 months in; more than three long years to go. The strategy to play dirty now and triangulate later is risky. One day, say when immigration reform comes due, the Chamber might come in handy. That is if the Chamber isn't too far gone.

White House targets also aren't dopes. The corporate community is realizing that playing nice doesn't guarantee safety. The health executives signed up for reform, only to remain the president's political pińatas. It surely grates that the unions—now running their own ads against ObamaCare—haven't been targeted. If the choice is cooperate and get nailed, or oppose and possibly win, some might take that bet.

There's also the little fact that many Americans voted for this president in thrall to his vow to bring the country together. It's hard to do that amid gunfire, and voters might just notice.


It's Kim Strassel -- ya gotta read da whole thing, wheddah you's from Chicago er not.

UPDATE: Not just mean old Republicans complianing: Politico: White House Attacks Worry Moderate Democrats

"It’s a mistake," said Rep. Jason Altmire, a moderate Democrat from western Pennsylvania. "I think it’s beneath the White House to get into a tit for tat with news organizations."

Altmire was talking about the Obama administration’s efforts to undercut Fox News. But he said his remarks applied just the same to White House efforts to marginalize the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a powerful business lobby targeted for its opposition to climate change legislation.

"There’s no reason to gratuitously piss off all those companies," added another Democrat, Rep. Jim Moran of Virginia. "The Chamber isn’t an opponent."


Politics Posted by John Kranz at 11:34 AM | What do you think? [0]

October 22, 2009

Mom Always Liked Penn Best!

This story really disturbed me.

I follow PennSays on Twitter and meant to post a recommendation to it last week. Penn does short videos (kind of a cheap imitation of the virtual coffeehouse, really...) that are the closest thing to a vblog that I've ever seen. Jillette is an interesting and likeable guy, and the videos are fun to watch.

Except this one from last week. I found it very sad. While I am still ambivalent on Beck fandom, Penn is 100% right and Tommy Smothers is 100% wrong. "If Hitler has a show, would you go on?" Asinine.

Instapundit linked this morning and I watched it again. Reynolds suggests it's a good excuse not to have idols -- not a bad takeaway.

But the segue machine really kicked in when Don Surber (another awesome Twitter followee) piled on:

Tommy Smothers yelled at Penn Jillette for appearing on a TV show?

That’s like Chong yelling at you for having a bong.

God, I am old.

I remember when the Smothers Brothers were for free speech.

I guess the only speech Tommy Smothers supports now is yelling at people he disagrees with.


But Silence Dogood thinks:

Isn't yelling at people you don't agree with the basic principal of free speech? Or have I been misled by what we call commentary on cable TV?

Posted by: Silence Dogood at October 24, 2009 11:49 PM
But jk thinks:

I can't take the temperature of that comment closely enough to respond. But for the benefit of the young'uns, let me recap:

Tommy Smothers was denied his First and Fifth Amendment rights when his show was taken off the air by government censors, who likely objected to his politics as much as language or "adult situations." Many rallied to their cause and their careers and reputations -- if not their show -- were restored.

Now, Mister Smothers seems too quick to want to take away the voice of someone with whom he disagrees. And ready to deny Mister Jillette his voice. As Mister Surber scored it, that's evil.

Posted by: jk at October 25, 2009 7:01 PM

Paying People to use Green 'Lectricity

For some reason, John Stossel questions government’s ability to run health care:

Now I hear about another absurd green energy subsidy: government subsidizes wind farmers so much that, in Western Texas, they run the turbines even when nobody wants electricity. because the grid there has a limited capacity, wind farms literally have to pay companies to take the extra energy: This April, the price of electricity in Western Texas was negative 23% of the time.

This follows up on his post on free golf carts (costing less than the tax break). I have seriously considered a golf cart. I live on a course and it would rock for trash runs and trips to the strip mall 3/4 mile across the course. Hey, free stuff from the gub'mint! Go Obama!!


Quote of the Day Redux

Blog Brother PE is on a roll with today's comments:

A government who (sic) robs Peter to pay Paul will always have the support of Paul. A government who robs Peter and is swindled by Paul won't care as long as it still has the support of Paul.

That's beautiful. The Refugee is going to remember and oft quote that one.

Government Posted by Boulder Refugee at 3:40 PM | What do you think? [1]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Good point on the grammar. Even for the state, the word by itself is a bit too anthropomorphic. Feel free to quote it as "that."

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at October 22, 2009 9:49 PM

Paying for the Baucus Bill

And this or a future Congress would never revoke Medicare cuts...

baucus_pay_pie.jpg

Thanks to James Pethokoukis who adds "If those Medicare cuts don’t happen, forget about it, gang."

UPDATE: Also read the whole thing at Scrivener.net about off-budget accounting gimmicks and the SS trust fund.

UPDATE II: And the Andrew Biggs piece Scrivener links to.

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

Ilya Somin on Jennifer Burns on Ayn Rand

Somin has clearly read the book -- and had life experiences that eerily parallel Rand's. This makes for an interesting and solid review of the new Rand biography.

There was, however, one important point that I underrated: Ayn Rand was the greatest popularizer of libertarian ideas of the last 100 years. Many more people have read Rand’s books than have read all the works of Friedman, Hayek, Mises, Nozick, and all the other modern libertarian thinkers combined. In becoming a libertarian without any influence from Rand, I was actually unusual. Over the last 15 years, I have met a large number of libertarian intellectuals and activists of the last two generations, including some of the most famous. More often than not, reading Rand influenced their conversion to libertarianism, even though very few fully endorse her theories or consider themselves Objectivists. Burns quotes Milton Friedman’s perceptive assessment of Rand as “an utterly intolerant and dogmatic person who did a great deal of good.” I think he was probably right.

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 3:20 PM | What do you think? [0]

Don't Tell Captain Renault!

Fraud? In governmnet?

NYTimes: Fraud Reported in Program to Help New Homebuyers

WASHINGTON — Just as Congressional leaders are calling to extend a popular tax credit for first-time homebuyers, government investigators are reporting new findings that point to widespread fraud in the program.

Only the Times could make that so completely free of irony.

Hat-tip: @ariarmstrong (No, not teh bike rider, that's Lance...)

But jk thinks:

"350,000 to 400,000 bought homes they could not have afforded without the credit..."

As Prof Reynolds would say, what could possibly go wrong?

Posted by: jk at October 22, 2009 1:57 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

1. If $8000 is make-or-break with buying a home, these are people who definitely should not be buying a home.

2. Of course, we should also take into account the fact that a lot of people could otherwise afford it if the government weren't raping them with taxes in the first place.

3. For the rest who are not committing fraud but receive more in the credit than the taxes they pay, they're getting homes at the expense of the rest of us. What a deal.

A government who robs Peter to pay Paul will always have the support of Paul. A government who robs Peter and is swindled by Paul won't care as long as it still has the support of Paul.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at October 22, 2009 2:51 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

I wonder how much lower the average home cost would be if there had never been a tax break for mortgage interest. Several multiples of $8000 I bet.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at October 24, 2009 11:55 PM
But jk thinks:

Silence, you keep leaving comments like that, and we keep thinking you can be lured to the dark side. Capitalism without the fetters, baby! It’s a beautiful thing!

Posted by: jk at October 25, 2009 6:53 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

I am a small government liberal, a rare breed some say is mythical. I lean toward larger government than Perry to be sure, but I think if you put me on a continuum I would closer to Perry than Pelosi.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at October 25, 2009 11:14 PM

Coffeehousin'

banner4.gif

Berkeley Square's Kurt O headlines this week with a solo rendition of "Take the A-Train." He calls it goofin' around but I thought it captured the live feel of the virtual coffeehouse and asked it I could include it.

Same bat-url: liveatthecoffeehouse.com


Quote of the Day

The care of every man's soul belongs to himself. But what if he neglect the care of it? Well what if he neglect the care of his health or his estate, which would more nearly relate to the state. Will the magistrate make a law that he not be poor or sick? Laws provide against injury from others; but not from ourselves. God himself will not save men against their wills. -- Thomas Jeferson.
Hat-tip: Perry Eidelbus left this as a comment.
Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 11:33 AM | What do you think? [2]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Not to nitpick, but you...often misspell my name. :)

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at October 22, 2009 3:27 PM
But jk thinks:

Aaaaaargh! A thousand apologies (and corrected).

Posted by: jk at October 22, 2009 3:52 PM

Communist Humor

WSJ's "Noatble & Quotable" picks up a Der Spiegel Article by Hans-Ulrich Stoldt and Klaus Wiegrefe

"What would happen if the desert became communist? Nothing for a while, and then there would be a sand shortage." Jokes like that made the rounds among East Germans during the communist era, and West Germany's intelligence service would collect them, as a way to assess the public mood behind the Iron Curtain but also to amuse its masters in Bonn, the West German capital.


October 21, 2009

Matt Drudge Takes Down the Dollar

A story at the Politico essentially argues that Drudge is playing politics with the decline of the U.S. dollar:


On Tuesday, Matt Drudge ran a headline about the weakening U.S. dollar on his website, Drudgereport.com. In and of itself, that would be unremarkable, except that it was the 18th time Drudge had posted a link to a story about the weak dollar this month.

And October was only 20 days old.

Clearly, Matt Drudge has developed a fascination with the declining U.S. dollar.

“He’s fixated on it,” said Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism. “There’s no question that Drudge can alter what people are paying attention to.”

[...]

Drudge also has tried to tie President Barack Obama to the dollar’s plunge. “Obama Dollar Retreats Most Against Commodities in Wealth Shift,” noted Drudge’s link to a Bloomberg story Oct. 13. “Obama Under Fire Over Dollar,” he headlined Oct. 7, linking to a story in the Financial Times.


Nevermind the fact that he is linking to stories from other sources with this theme. Of course, such discussion is common regarding the dollar and the president. The BBC reported in 2004:

But the pace of the dollar's decline has picked up since President George W Bush - whose heavy spending has pushed the US finances into the red - was elected to a second term in office last week.

Are we to believe that the spending policies of the current administration will somehow have different effects on the value of the dollar?

The best part of the Politico is this excerpt:


What’s more, there’s one economic upside to a soft dollar: increased exports for U.S. manufacturers. Reporter Nelson Schwartz noted in an article in The New York Times on Sunday: “A weak dollar could prove beneficial to the American economy by aiding long-suffering manufacturers, rebuilding a stronger industrial base and lifting exports even if it makes life harder for trading partners around the world, especially in Europe.”

But that Times article, titled “In Dollar’s Fall, Upside for U.S. Exports,” did not receive a link from Drudge.


Of course, the degree of this effect is dependent on elasticities. Even beyond that, however, defending the declining purchasing power around the world as a positive sign because it boosts exports is like arguing that the upside to unemployment is that we all get to experience more leisure.

Economics and Markets Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 12:33 PM | What do you think? [4]
But jk thinks:

I hope Mr. Javers never tunes in to CNBC when Kudlow is on!

I'll quibble a bit with your closing analogy, hb. A large sector of the economy gets most of its revenue from exports, and those industries have a legitimate and rational reason to cheer a weaker dollar.

Don't report me to Larry -- I'm still a strong dollar guy!

Posted by: jk at October 21, 2009 1:31 PM
But jk thinks:

Better not read Jimmy P either: Paul Volcker: Obama’s forgotten man

Posted by: jk at October 21, 2009 1:43 PM
But Keith thinks:

Seems to me the Administration is doing enough damage without Matt Drudge's help. ThreeSourcers, of course, will not be surprised to read this; in fact, there's a bittersweet tinge to being able to say "we told you so - in advance" to this:

http://www.republicans.waysandmeans.house.gov/News/DocumentSingle.aspx?DocumentID=150826

Posted by: Keith at October 21, 2009 3:54 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Keith, don't you know, Drudge must be the most dangerous man in the world. No matter how much the Fed is trying to save the dollar, Drudge's mere words are enough to convince the world to dump it!

JK, not everyone exports or is within a degree or two of separation from exports. However, most Americans are within a degree or two of imports. Now, no one can know the true value of the dollar. Only an entire free market, with all its uncountable transactions, can reveal it. Let's call that point X. If the dollar is weaker than X, it's a form of protectionism because it benefits the minority of the economy that exports.

Deliberately weakening the dollar is a favorite tool of people unnecessarily worried about the U.S. trade deficit. (Warren Buffett is one such idiot who thinks we shouldn't import more than we export.) These people either don't know or refuse to admit the havoc that would ensue.

All this is besides the fact that the Fed is inflating the money supply to monetize the huge increase in budget deficits. I've been saying it for damn near a year now: there just isn't enough money in the world to finance it. Even if foreigners did have the willingness, they're already tapped out.

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

Healthcare Handgrenade

What if the entire healthcare reform debate rested on a false premise? (It does.) What if a prominent and respected thought leader on the "government option" side of the debate made a public statement that exposed the false premise and he was videotaped to prove it? (He has.) Alas, probably nothing but I'll shout it from the rooftop anyway.

The existing "treat on demand" mandate for American hospitals is based on the premise that "we can't let sick people die" just because they can't pay for their care. Somebody should remind Robert Reich, who said:

And by the way, we are going to have to, if you are very old, we're not going to give you all that technology and all those drugs for the last couple of years of your life to keep you maybe going for a couple of months. IT'S TOO EXPENSIVE SO WE'RE GONNA LET YOU DIE. [1:15]

"It's too expensive, so we're gonna let you die." These nine words are so important to the future of the free world that they mark my first EVER use of bold underlined italic all-caps. EVER!

So the obvious question for Mister Reich and every other hypocritical, disingenuous mouthpiece for healthcare "reform" and "compromise" is this:

"If we can let old people die then why can't we let sick people be sick? Even if it means they might die?"

If it is acceptable for the government to deny medical treatment to patients with no fault other than their advanced age (even if they would have had the means and the will to pay for their own care before you "fixed" the healthcare system) why isn't it acceptable for hospitals to deny medical treatment to patients who can't pay for it (even though the public and private means to be prepared for those costs are ubiquitous and could be made even more so?)

But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

"The care of every man's soul belongs to himself. But what if he neglect the care of it? Well what if he neglect the care of his health or his estate, which would more nearly relate to the state. Will the magistrate make a law that he not be poor or sick? Laws provide against injury from others; but not from ourselves. God himself will not save men against their wills." - Thomas Jefferson

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at October 22, 2009 9:48 AM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Not to worry, JG. That can all be solved with a sufficient donation to the DNC.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at October 22, 2009 3:32 PM

October 20, 2009

1502 Pages of Fun!

Don Surber adds a little perspective to the Baucus Health Care Bill:

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy: 1,216
Stephen King’s The Stand: 1,141
Atlas Shrugged: 1,192
War and Peace: 1,296
Complete Sherlock Holmes: 944
Ben Hur: 620

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 6:44 PM | What do you think? [7]
But Keith thinks:

That should NOT be taken as a criticism of any of the fine books you cite, and should not engender any snide remarks about my epic-length comments, thankyouverymuch.

Posted by: Keith at October 20, 2009 6:59 PM
But jk thinks:

Heh. Us????

Posted by: jk at October 20, 2009 7:45 PM
But Keith thinks:

Think of it as pre-emptive confession - I know how long-winded I can be...

Posted by: Keith at October 21, 2009 11:22 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Heh, I know the feeling too, Keith. I've recently been accused of making people afraid to comment on another blog. The person said I was long-winded, blah blah. Since it came from a leftist, it means I'm doing my job to spread truth and debunk their lies.

Jefferson said something about never using two words when one will do. His writing exemplifies his advice and still remains beautiful.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at October 21, 2009 11:32 AM
But Keith thinks:

Jefferson's Health Care Bill would have looked like this:

"The right of the people to earn sufficiently to pay for their own medical care, obtain insurance to indemnify such care if they desire, select their own physicians, and make their own medical decisions, shall be neither infringed by the government, nor encumbered by taxation."

Forty-five words. Any improvements to be offered?

Posted by: Keith at October 21, 2009 11:54 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Four more words: "This means you, Pelosi."

Unfortunately it is now commonplace to ignore words, even those in the Constitution. The latest example was even lauded on these pages as "a step toward increasing liberty."

Rather than firing off memos that pick and choose which federal laws are to be enforced, change the effin' law!

Posted by: johngalt at October 21, 2009 12:12 PM

Quote of the Day

And yeah, it is also odd for Weisberg to denounce Fox's shrill tone while accusing them of trying to kill people because they hate America. -- Michael C. Moynihan

Top of the Top 20

No, not "So You Think You Can Dance," rather The 20 best Signs at the San Francisco Tea Party.

All worth a look, but here's my favorite:
were_back.jpg

I had a private email thread with a ThreeSources friend who has been pretty skeptical of the Tea Party movement. I would second Zomblog's experience if not his exact description:

Since I had never before encountered an actual “Tea Party” (i.e. an anti-Obama protest by conservative, libertarian and/or right-wing voters), I was curious to see if the partiers lived up to their reputation as “extremists” (at least as portrayed by the media). But instead of scary extremism, what I found was a surprising and piercing sense of humor (something that had been mostly lacking from the angry protests of the Bush era).

Hat-tip: Instapundit

But T. Greer thinks:

A nice try Jk. Sadly, these pics don't make me feel much better. Again, I have to ask: Are we standing for principles or are we standing for partisans? More than half of the pictures were just attacks on the President; more than one were statements about his Nobel win. Is this not a perfect example of muddying the movement?

Posted by: T. Greer at October 21, 2009 2:16 PM
But jk thinks:

Did I say "tough room?"

The poster calls the tea-party movement anti-Obama: no surprise that he picked a few examples.

I am piggybacking on his suggestion of wit. I spent most of my time at the Denver Do laughing at homemade signs. The antiwar left thought it the height of cleverness to use a swastika for the s in Bush (get it? Bush is like Hitler!)

President Obama is the face of the current "regime" (a bad but effective word) and I think poking fun at the Prez is a pretty American activity. A good friend of this blog pictured the President as a doctor snapping on a rubber glove and I am still laughing.

When the union thugs show up and pass out the signs, tg, you get a nice consistent message: "Reform Health Care NOW!" When "We the People" show up, it can be a little messy.

Lastly, I am the pragmatist here. I do not expect to get to 51% of true believin', first-principle-espousin' electorate. I don't mind if the racists and the birthers stay home, but if some people want to protest against Obama next to me with my Gadsden Flag, I'm cool.

Posted by: jk at October 21, 2009 3:27 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

JK, I have brought this point up to you a few times before, and I will repeat it again -- if you want to the tea parties to serve the same function as the pointless anti-war rallies of the Bush years, then feel free to keep comparing the two. However, if you think the tea parties are something more, the start of a "movement", as you have said, then they need to be held to a higher standard. Either the tea parties are spontaneous and aimless displays of anger against leftists, which by their very nature cannot be ideologically coherent, or they are the seeds of a new age and have an integral part to play in the history of our nation.

You can have one or you can have the other. You cannot have both.

I do recognize that We the People are not an automation, ready to fight like robots for a cause. Yet I see very little evidence that there is even a general consensus of what this cause should be. The New York redneck holding up the sign, "Obama, our troops won your peace prize" is simply not on the same wavelength as the CATO fellow calling for an end to American socialism.

Posted by: T. Greer at October 23, 2009 6:19 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Are you sayin' there are Rednecks in New York City? Get outta town!

Seriously though, it's ironic that you're criticism of the Tea Party movement is over coherence. I find a lack of coherence in your commentary. Please correct me where I misunderstand:

You imply that standing against a president whose principles are antithetical to yours is mere partisanship. Why can't it be a principled stand at the same time?

And why is it automatically a legitimate movement if it is based on principles? The reason the anti-war rallies were pointless was because their principles were at the fringe of American thought, not because they didn't have any.

The reason that Tea Parties represent a movement is that the dominant paradigm, which the leftists have agitated so long and hard to subvert, is no longer dominant in the goverment and corporate realms. But the basic values of most Americans have not changed and they want their government back. Forgive them if they protest and demonstrate like buffoons. They aren't as practiced in the art as the prior generations of rabble rousers. (Nor do they have the built-in advantage of being stoned as they wave their signs and sing.)

Posted by: johngalt at October 24, 2009 6:34 PM
But jk thinks:

Heh. Brother jg takes up the hand-lettered banner just as I am conceding defeat in a private email thread.

Yes, tg, I do look for the Tea Party movement to be about six magnitudes more effective than the hippies in New York. If it's no more or little more than that, then yes it is a failure.

Mister-mutual-forbearance also agrees with jg that partisanship -- especially opposition - does not discredit the protesters. If they were all waving "re-elect Don Young" signs and wearing GOP T-Shirts, that would not do. But opposing a President who has shown an incredible appetite for enlarging government seems consistent with principle.

Posted by: jk at October 24, 2009 6:46 PM

Our CARE Package Showed Up

Hank at Devil Dog Brew, forwards a note from a Colonel in Afghanistan:

Hank, I want you to know that I received the Devil Dog Brew care package donated by John Kranz of Erie, Colorado. This is absolutely one of the best care packages I have ever seen. Our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines will all enjoy the coffee, snacks, and gifts. We are all thankful for Americans like John who take the time to send a package like this one. Thanks to you for providing quality products and supporting the Military. Also, thanks to John for his generosity.

Semper Fi, Greg


Don't send the FTC after me, I make no money for my endorsement, but this coffee is very good. We've all become used to the "Seattle-Style" roast where the beans are toasted (detractors call it burnt). I like this taste but have to admit this is a refreshing change. It is full flavored and robust without the toasted edge. I recommend it highly.


October 19, 2009

John Stossel's New Blog Home

And welcome to the blogroll:

http://stossel.blogs.foxbusiness.com/

But DevilDogBrew thinks:

JK,

Just popping in this morning to say hola.

Three Sources = interesting mettle

Glad to see that John Stossel has a new blog home, I'll be checking it out.

And a bit off topic:

1) Afghanistan - Operation MRE is in hand and being enjoyed by all. Thanks for your generosity!

2) Just bought your CD and am looking forward to its arrival. We'll call it an early Christmas present. Just so happens that my wife and I share zero musical talent but love to dance (salsa/merengue) fortunately our three man cubs avoided the gene deficiency and are into music, the oldest is off to college and otherwise occupied though his fiancee is a nightingale, my 16 year old plays piano daily & my youngest is an accomplished, standout singer with multiple solo performances under his belt, he's now a part of a barber shop group...

Hope the stop over isn't an intrusion.

With Utmost Respect ~ Semper Fi, Hank

and may I ask? How did you first come across Devil Dog Brew?

p.s. Another common thread, my mother has MS, strange series of coincidences

Posted by: DevilDogBrew at October 20, 2009 11:54 AM
But jk thinks:

Devil Dog Brew,

Five minutes later and you could have commented on your own post above.

We are honored by your presence and would love your thoughts on any topic.

I am glad for Stossel, but commented when he went to FOX that he is now preaching to the choir and the world lost one of it best voices for liberty. People would tune in to hear Barbara Walters interview some pop star and would be confronted by real thought and reason. Happy for Mr. Stossel, but sad that his voice is off ABC.

Cancel that PayPal order! That is an old out-of-print CD and I would be happy to send you a copy. I'd also encourage you to drop by the coffeehouse both to see my stuff and to encourage your kids to do guest videos.

Best to your Mom. It is tough sometimes, but I always feel there are "worse cards in the deck."

Posted by: jk at October 20, 2009 12:07 PM

NSFW

Not safe, but very funny!

This is a rare gem. This was a PSA that the voice-over person decided to record an "alternate" version of for fun. This comes from the archives of a local tv station. You won't find this anywhere.

Hat-tip: Don Luskin

Posted by John Kranz at 7:16 PM | What do you think? [1]
But Lisa M thinks:

That's the funniest effin' video I ever effin' saw.

Posted by: Lisa M at October 19, 2009 10:25 PM

The Ultimate Public Option

I had a blog post brewing in my head when I woke up this morning. Curiously, Blogging God James Taranto has thieved it:

British health care, it seems, resembles American elementary and secondary education, in that the government has a monopoly but there is an expensive private opt-out--and many of those who run the monopoly avail themselves of the private system. If you like the public schools, you'll love ObamaCare!

Taranto is following up on a story that British Heath Care workers will be given taxpayer-financed private care. Else, socialized medicine will kill all the providers. Beautiful, isn't it?

But I had two thoughts on education (all my family members are teachers, I'm a dead man if one of them ever stumbles on ThreeSources). The first is the title: public education is the ultimate public option. No, there's no law to keep us from opening up the ThreeSources Academy of Reason and Civics and Advanced PE, but all of our students will have to pay for both public education and our inflated tuition. The government will regulate how many days are taught and have great influence on our curricula. Lastly, if we do well and attract attention, we can be denied building permits, accreditation, fire code clearances, &c.

We can swim but they completely own the pool. A serious person cannot help but see that health care would be just like that. Crappy substandard care for all, and an escape of quality and innovation that only the rich could afford. Progressive, indeed!

The other point is that innovation in a sector is frozen to the time government takes over. The highly subsidized and regulated passenger railways are frozen at WWII technology, British Health Care in 1975 all the time. And American education has not progressed an inch since Wilson was President (most would say it has fallen). In spite of communications, Internet, advances in access to books and information, and ubiquitous, inexpensive computers, schools have seen no improvement.

Medicine has made startling gains, but it might be 2009 forever. Shame

But johngalt thinks:

It is no surprise that British medical providers - the creators - must be appeased else even these socially-minded Europeans would strike from the system they know to be a travesty on the public. My exhortation to them is, "Revolt brothers!"

The "reformers" even admit that medical innovation would cease under their guidance. Just listen to Reich: "But that means less innovation, and that means less new products and less new drugs on the market, which means you are probably not going to live that much longer than your parents. Thank you." [1:50]

Dear cousin writes today that she'd like to see everyone work together and "try to find a compromise on health care." Sigh. Where does one begin? The general public, as cousin writes, is "honestly just not that interested." They simply want an end to the dispute.

Posted by: johngalt at October 19, 2009 5:30 PM

No, Howard, Arches and Domes!!!

I still have a dream of a third Liberal International Economic Order (LEIO) springing up in India after we completely screw it up here. Dr. Deepak Lal, an Economics Professor at UCLA, coins the term in his magisterial "Reviving the Invisible Hand." The first in Pax Britannia, from the repeal of the Corn Laws to the first world war; the second is America from the end of WWII to the election of President Obama today.

There's no more territory to settle and create a new home for liberty like our grandfathers did, but I wonder that the seeds of British common law sown in the occupation of the subcontinent, together with the impressive intellectual achievements of the Indian people might not allow them to take charge of the free world for awhile. Hey, they laughed at the colonists in America...

Exhibit B: A surge in sales of Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead. Jennifer Burns in Foreign Policy:

Rand's celebration of independence and personal autonomy has proven to be powerfully subversive in a culture that places great emphasis on conforming to the dictates of family, religion, and tradition. Gargi Rawat, a correspondent and news anchor for top tv channel ndtv and a former Rand admirer, says Rand's theory of the supremacy of reason and the virtue of selfishness adds up to "the antithesis" of Indian culture, which explains the attraction for Rawat in her youth and for many rebellious Indian teens today.
[...]
In recent years, the so-called "Howard Roark effect" has swept across wealthy Indian society. Shortly after winning Miss India Earth, the country's top beauty pageant, in 2005, Niharika Singh cited The Fountainhead as her favorite book. "Ayn Rand helped me win the crown," she declared. Other stars, including biotech queen Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, actress Preity Zinta, and soccer-player-turned-dancer Baichung Bhutia have all credited Rand with helping them succeed.

Beyond personal inspiration, however, the Indian excitement for Rand today is linked to a larger enthusiasm for the country's inchoate but powerful drive for development and wealth. Since the 1984 assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, India has seen a gradual shift away from socialism, much appreciated by Rand's fans. Vikram Bajaj, a 45-year-old entrepreneur who considers himself an objectivist, has lived through Rand's evolution from an ignored outsider to a popular prophet of capitalism. When he discovered Rand, taxation rates for high earners were hovering at 85 percent of income; now, with her books widely available, that upper rate is only 30 percent.


Posted by John Kranz at 3:27 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Ahh, The Fountainhead. The underappreciated little brother.

From Roark's closing argument:

"From the beginning of history, the two antagonists have stood face to face: the creator and the second-hander. When the first creator invented the wheel, the first second-hander responded. He invented altruism.

"The creator—denied, opposed, persecuted, exploited—went on, moved forward and carried all humanity along on his energy. The second-hander contributed nothing to the process except the impediments. The contest has another name: the individual against the collective."

Posted by: johngalt at October 19, 2009 5:15 PM

A Fulsome Cheer for the Obama Administration!

The Obama Administration takes a step toward increasing liberty:

Yahoo/AP: WASHINGTON – Federal drug agents won't pursue pot-smoking patients or their sanctioned suppliers in states that allow medical marijuana, under new legal guidelines to be issued Monday by the Obama administration.

Two Justice Department officials described the new policy to The Associated Press, saying prosecutors will be told it is not a good use of their time to arrest people who use or provide medical marijuana in strict compliance with state law.


Now, I know that I don't speak for all ThreeSourcers with my appeal for both medical marijuana and decriminalization. But I will appeal to a belief in Federalism, the Tenth Amendment, and opposition to Raich v Gonzales and Wickard v Filburn which I am guessing may be moderately universal 'round these parts.

This was always my hope of a small silver lining in the dark cloud of President Obama's arrogation of executive power. Mister Holder at DOJ did not set a high bar and I feared that the Obama years would be a perfect goose-egg for liberty. But this is good. Huzzah!

But jk thinks:

Tough room.

I respect all the points made. But none has contradicted my reason for encouragement. I would have preferred a cut-and-run in the drug war, I would have preferred to see Raich overturned, I would have liked to have seen the Rockies beat the Phillies.

But the administration has stated that it will not "pull a Raich" like John Ashcroft. The people of the State of California (and Colorado) have been allowed to decide a question of Intrastate commerce without Federal intrusion. Good thing.

Posted by: jk at October 19, 2009 4:30 PM
But Keith thinks:

I'll carry Perry's thought one step further - that this requires not turning over more of one's property, but of one's privacy. In the limited-access model, the State has a right to probe into your medical records to put its approval on whether or not you are allowed your cannabis. In California, where there's no difficulty shopping around for a doctor who will write a note for you, and the spliff parlors will refer you to the right ones, you'll find that for every Angel Raich, there are - and this is a a debatable number - thirty who are simply gaming the system to get high legally.

For example: "... marijuana is now available as a medical treatment in California to almost anyone who tells a willing physician he would feel better if he smoked..." http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/11/AR2009041100767.html

I doubt any regular reader of ThreeSources would believe that there are enough legitimate patients just in Los Angeles to support the 400 existing retail outlets. I'd be interested in seeing a market analysis on this. Or not.

The notion of giving a small minority a special legal right to toke up, and not the general adult population as a whole, is offensive - especially when the pretended limitations are so flagrantly gamed, as they are in California. Whether grass should be legalized is not a debate I'm trying to open up here, but I think the majority opinion here, perhaps grudgingly from some members, is that it should be consistently allowed to all, or to none, if this is to be decisided on our principled commitment to individual liberty.

Hopefully, I'm providing the occasional surprises to at least some among us...

Posted by: Keith at October 19, 2009 5:23 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Excellent point Keith. I hadn't thought of it that way, although I should have. Maybe I was distracted by the munchies...

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

Yup, the "pharmacies" around Colorado are incredibly seedy (pun not intended, but I am going to leave it; the discourse on this topic can not go much lower...) Many have a doctor right there who can evaluate your condition and write a prescription.

It is insane on multiple levels, but I am still happy. One Angel Raich versus a million opportunists -- I am still glad to see her get her medicine. Is that not what liberty is about?

Let me turn up my crank cred -- I would abolish the prescription system entirely. But as long as we have it, it is not a violation of privacy to use it.

While we are proclaiming bona fides, please do not misjudge that I am pleased for reasons beyond politics and philosophy. Many friends ask why I don't sign up. I do not have the pain that some MS patients have. For my purposes, the disease is too close to being stoned -- if I could smoke something to sober me up, I'd buy it off a high school kid.

Posted by: jk at October 19, 2009 7:59 PM
But Keith thinks:

jk: totally with you on the abolition of the prescription system. Any time the nannystate limits access to a good or service - be it medications or Manhattan taxi licenses - the cost of that good increases unnecessarily. Furthermore, the government doesn't indemnify anything it licenses. Whether it's the effectiveness or safety of that medication, or the driving skills of that cabbie, just because the government says it's good doesn't mean they'll make you whole when they prove wrong.

Of course, what this would mean is that suddenly people have to become smarter and better informed. The citizenry would have to learn how to tell an honest and safe cabbie from the other kind, and good meds from snake oil. This could become a Darwinian natural-selection process all its own.

Posted by: Keith at October 20, 2009 12:21 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I was actually going to mention that the state can catch you getting a paycheck but can't catch you smoking weed if you do it right, hence why I think it's absurd that people ignore what Obama will tax and seize, thinking, "Hey, at least now we can smoke pot!" But I'll stop here lest the IRS go Willie Nelson on me. If you think the Clintons used the IRS as a weapon, it will pale in comparison to Obama wielding the power of every federal agency against his "enemies." And for the record, I don't even smoke cigarettes.

Keith, the notion of "giving" any right to anyone is offensive to me.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at October 20, 2009 12:23 PM

October 18, 2009

Must Reading for the Pigou Club

Yes, again we have jk in a battle of wits with a famous Harvard professor -- get your bets down...

N. Gregory Mankiw is brilliant and a pretty reliable voice for freedom, free trade, and free markets. But the professor has been bewitched by the elegance of Pigouvian taxation and has lost sight of the power it affords government. Sure, let's just tax carbon instead of income, then we'll fix global warming whether it is a problem or not. Who can complain?

Me-me-me-me-me-me-me professor, the guy in the back with his hand up! "But what is next? And do we really want to let government decide what is bad and should be taxed?"

Trevor Butterworth in Forbes is unconvinced. And he makes a superb comparison of curing society by taxation (Arthur C. Pigou, call your office!) with curing a patient with leeches. This guy is on a roll:

Recently, taxes on sugary sodas have been hailed as a painless way to tackle obesity, despite the absence of proof that the taxes would actually achieve this goal. Now the latest advice for "leeching" America comes from Dr. Lloyd I. Sederer, medical director for the New York State Office of Mental Health, and Dr. Eric Goplerud, director of the Center for Integrated Behavioral Health Policy at George Washington University. Writing in the Washington Post, they argue that imposing heavy taxes on alcohol would both reduce the harmful effects of heavy drinking and help pay for health reform. The logic is that if teens drink less, they'll have less unprotected sex, reducing their exposure to sexually transmitted diseases.

Sorry, Professor, freedom before efficiency.

Hat-tip: Instapundit

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 1:27 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

Pigouvian tax - A tax levied to reduce something there is too much of.

So why don't we tax central government?

Posted by: johngalt at October 20, 2009 2:26 PM
But jk thinks:

Or even: one of the PJTV pundits (Bill Whittle?) suggested we give each House memebr $1,000,000 and each Senator $5,000,000 NOT to legislate. A bargain, indeed.

Posted by: jk at October 20, 2009 3:25 PM

October 17, 2009

Pick a Side

Union Thug or "Ignorant" worker?

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

October 16, 2009

Obama the forthright

Is President Obama disingenuous? I've been searching for evidence of this to share with a dear cousin who believes that Sarah Palin is, but Barack Obama is not. My handicap is that her chosen news sources are all on television: FOX, KERA, ABC, CBS.

I wonder if this editorial The Baucus Bill is a Tax Bill would make any impression on her?

Most astounding of all is what this Congress is willing to do to struggling middle-class families. The bill would impose nearly $400 billion in new taxes and fees. Nearly 90% of that burden will be shouldered by those making $200,000 or less.

Somewhere between $360,000,000,000 and "one dime" is a broken campaign promise. Unfortunately, it was in a newspaper. Worse yet, on the opinion page.

But T. Greer thinks:

I would just mention Obama's big campaign pledge -- Anybody in the lowest 95% would have no tax increase. This has not proven to be true. The WSJ ran a nice Op-ed a month or so ago on the subject....

Posted by: T. Greer at October 17, 2009 2:58 AM
But jk thinks:

Perhaps it's in the eye of the beholder, but I see a large disconnect between the promises of post-partisanship and post-racial identity, &c. versus the reailty of bare-knuckle, Chicago, Democratic, we got the votes and don't need-you governance.

Posted by: jk at October 17, 2009 8:05 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Clearly the WSJ is run by right-wing extremists who bitterly cling to guns and religion. They will be the first to go to the Saint Obamus Re-Education Camps for the Economically Insensitive.

Saint Obamus hath promised much unto the 95%, and yea, do any of ye doubt him?

Indeed, the parable of the virgins is now thus:

Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto twenty virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom, Obamus.

And one was wise, but nineteen were foolish.

They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:

But the one wise took oil in her vessel with her lamp.

While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.

And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.

Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.

And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.

But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for me and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.

And Obamus appeared and said, Verily I say unto you, unfair are you to the others, and I shall take of your oil and redistribute unto them. It mattereth not that you have been faithful and watching, for lo, thou hast been economically insensitive in not giving despite their foolishness.

And so Obamus took her oil, and it being insufficient for the needs of all, soon all their lamps went out and none had any light.

("Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They always run out of other people's money." - Margaret Thatcher)

And there was much weeping and gnashing of teeth, for they realized that Obamus had no light of his own.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at October 18, 2009 10:57 AM
But jk thinks:

Verily I worry about thee, Brother Perry, but thou mak'st me laugh.

Posted by: jk at October 18, 2009 11:26 AM
But Keith thinks:

King James construction notwithstanding, Brother Perry, that was an outstanding and thoroughly appropriate use of that parable! I would call that positively... inspired...

Posted by: Keith at October 18, 2009 5:18 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes TG, the "no tax increases for those earning under $250,000" was the campaign pledge I intended to show was false. Although none of these new taxes are part of any legislation that's already passed and been signed by him, is it?

I'm reminded of another campaign pledge - that proposed legislation should be "posted on the internet" for four days prior to a vote to ensure "transparency" and to "hold the government to account." Yeah, right.

Posted by: johngalt at October 19, 2009 1:37 PM

October 15, 2009

All Hail Harsanyi!

How can Americans be expected to wrestle with the myriad dangers that confront them each day? Insalubrious cereal? Unregulated garage sales? Pools of death? Sometimes it's too much to process.

You know what we desperately are crying out for? An army of crusading federal regulatory agents with unfettered power. Who else has the fortitude and foresight to keep us all safe?


Whole thang.

But johngalt thinks:

Timely. I wondered yesterday afternoon how long it is going to be before Obama's feds go after homemade weather balloons. Over/under: 2 weeks. (There's no line on how many agencies will insert themselves.)

Posted by: johngalt at October 16, 2009 12:40 PM

Caveman Programmer

Six hours without electricity! I had about an hour of Internet through routers on UPS and laptop batteries, but no dev server. I made Starbucks VIA® instant with water heated in a french press with two tea candles. (I still have the Y2K hand coffee grinder, but the VIA was good and much simpler.

Like Robinson C'rusoe, it's primitive as can be...

And yes, before you ask: once a hippie guitar player, always a hippie guitar player -- it was disconnected for non-payment. My credit card expired two months ago, so AutoPay stopped paying. Bad day, but we're back.

Posted by John Kranz at 6:38 PM | What do you think? [4]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Maybe you can sell some carbon off-sets from the time you were powerless. Just a thought.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at October 16, 2009 11:55 AM
But johngalt thinks:

That's "six hours without electricity," eh?

When I read six hours with electricity I thought you'd decided to go off the grid and installed a solar PV system.

Posted by: johngalt at October 16, 2009 12:27 PM
But jk thinks:

Yes, six hours without (since corrected).

ThreeSources apologizes for any convenience caused by this error...

Posted by: jk at October 16, 2009 2:39 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

Now we just need automatic card re-issue to go along with our automatic bill pay. Hey, maybe we could get the government to take this over, electricity could be funded by taxes. Kidding, kidding!

Posted by: Silence Dogood at October 17, 2009 10:47 AM

Live at the Coffeehouse

How High the Moon? How bald the guitar player? How long we gotta talk like this?

liveatthecoffeehouse.com


October 14, 2009

White Guilt and other byproducts of modern public education

My word, what are they teaching at Berkeley these days? First from JK's morning read we have Cal Berkeley American History major Jennifer Burns writing a doctoral dissertation cum biography of Ayn Rand and next we see another Berkeley girl, this time a psychotherapist, quoting the late philosopher in her explanation of why whites voted for Obama.

Given the brainwashing of several generations, did millions of whites vote for Obama out of white guilt? Yes, but it runs deeper than this.

What's happening is not just white guilt, but white shame. Shame is a much more devastating emotion.

We feel guilty about an action, for instance, cheating on taxes or spouses. Shame makes us feel bad about who we are, as though something is wrong with us.

(...)

That is what happened with Julie, Joe, and Rose. They were dumped on so often by so many that they absorbed the shame and started detesting themselves.

Interestingly, Obama, in one of his autobiographies, reports being intrigued by Malcolm X's statement that, as a biracial man, he despised his whiteness; that he wished there was some way that he could excise his white blood.

Now we have millions of whites who are ashamed of their white blood. Coincidence?

And there's more.

Along with white guilt and shame, there's another reason why whites flocked to a leader with no experience in leading: white fear. While many liberals reside in safe towns, still there's always a threat.

Turn on the 6 o'clock news and hear about the latest cop murder or mob rampage. Rodney King riots in LA, the mayhem in Oakland, murdered police officers. Then listen to reportage that blames the victims.

Thuggery is celebrated. Bad guys are hecka cool; the innocents stupid and naive. Write a rap song about beating up a whore and killing a cop, and win a Grammy.

Think I'm exaggerating? If there isn't an atmosphere of racial fear, why did people threaten a race war if Obama lost? Why are dissenters tarred with the vile label of racist? (Translation: pure evil)

Many liberals voted for Obama in the hopes that all would be forgiven. That if whites handed over some power, finally we can move on and get along. We'll be safe.

Had someone like General Colin Powell or former Congressman Harold Ford Jr. been elected, we probably would not have a foreboding, fearful atmosphere. Though they lean left, both men are patriotic, experienced leaders who may have facilitated racial healing.

Ironically, White America envisioned forgiveness, a letting go of old wounds. Instead we have emboldened people obsessed with evil deeds carried out by citizens long dead.

If you want to see her Rand quotes you'll have to read the article. I've excerpted enough already.

But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Yes, they are children. But being young(er) does not excuse them from knowing right from wrong. They are children, but they are not animals who should be allowed to run wild. Stealing is wrong. Hurting others (first) is wrong. Act honorably, especially by telling the truth. Isn't this what children should be taught from pre-K years? I was.

Children may not have a full capacity to reason, but they still have enough. If any act out of malice or "don't understand" that their actions are bad, then like adults, they should be locked away so they don't harm us. And if they simply cannot live peacably with the rest of us, then the rest of us need to put bullets through their medulla oblongatas and dispose of them like the animals they are.

You said that "both adults and children must be provided with alternatives..." But who is to "provide"? It's not my responsibility, ethically or even morally, to help others behave properly. It's their ethical and moral responsibility to not harm others.

Morality is absolute. If you find yourself in a bad situation, it does not excuse putting morality aside so you can "survive." Children never read the unedited stories of Sinbad the Sailor, who at one point was lowered into the cavern to be buried with his dead wife. He committed brutal murder to prolong his life at the end of others: a surviving spouse was given a little in the way of provisions, so Sinbad killed anyone else who was lowered with a dead spouse. This kept him alive until he found a way out.

At the risk of throwing out one personal anecdote after another, there was a punk in my 8th grade history class who delighted in walking up the aisles between desks and slapping the back of someone's head. Do you think he didn't know his behavior was wrong? After he did it to me twice, I stuck out my leg and tripped him. He fell down pretty hard but sadly was just lightly bruised at the most.

As much as the teacher wanted to get rid of him, she never could. He had "the right" to be there -- and that was the school district defending him from expulsion. His parents didn't care. So, I switched to a better class. Who knows where he is now, probably in and out of the state penitentiary.

Even in elementary school, there was one kid known as a bad seed. He went to a different junior high, and not long after, there was the story on the evening news: he walked out of class and was followed by the teacher, so he fired a shot from his concealed handgun (but thankfully missed the teacher). In 7th grade! The teacher would have never had the brush with dead if the punk had been put in juvie when he started to display violent behavior.

Another example: John Hehman was run over a few years ago when fleeing the hoodlums trying to rob him. You don't think they knew what they were doing was wrong, though they were as young as 11?

The parents may let their litters run around to destroy property and harming others, but it doesn't mean the rest of us need to put up with it. Stop the behavior early on, whether it's taking a 2x4 to their backsides or locking them up forever, and it's good odds that it will save lives in the future.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at October 16, 2009 1:05 PM
But johngalt thinks:

You and I know these things, but how many among us do not? Sure the virtues of not stealing, not hurting others and honesty should and usually are learned by kindergarten. But when did you learn, for example, that "morality is absolute?" All of the various moral codes I learned in my youth were contradictory with each other, and sometimes with themselves. The morality of altruism led to a bad decision on my part in choosing my first wife. I didn't learn a rational, consistent and unassailable morality until I was 37.

When these ideas are taught universally (and preferrably before the age of 37) then we will see true social progress.

Posted by: johngalt at October 16, 2009 2:24 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

A child does not need to understand it as "Morality is absolute" to realize the truth behind "I don't have lunch, Billy has a big lunch, but it's still not ok if I just take his lunch." This is simple reasoning that should (not always, but should) be something innate to people's thoughts and everyday behavior. You don't need to delve into more complex philosophies of individualism.

And if people are so irrational and/or malicious that they cannot behave morally, then that's just too bad -- for them, because the rest of us will deal with them accordingly. "I had a rough childhood" or "My parents never taught me right from wrong" is no excuse for sociopathy.

What "contradictory" things were you told are "moral" that you realize now are not "moral"? It's a world of difference between "It's ok to tell a little white lie" and "It's ok to shoplift and bash the cashier's head in if he tries to stop you." My father believed in some taxation and redistribution of wealth -- not regular welfare programs, but he loved Social Security and praised FDR's economic interventionism. He still taught me that it's wrong to steal and hurt other people.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at October 16, 2009 4:53 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I'm thinking of the many contradictions in the Christian Bible and how, to a rational person, they introduce doubt and distrust about the foundation of that morality. The example you give of your grandfather is a good example of how Christian morality is close enough to an objective human morality that it has credibility even among those who do not believe in the deity it is attributed to. But Christianity contains the poison pill of altruism that encourages its adherents to act inconsistently with the causes of his own prosperity.

Posted by: johngalt at October 18, 2009 1:35 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I'm unclear on how we're talking about the Bible now, but I see no contradictions, particularly in morality. You can still pray for someone's sake, yet defend yourself against the person. It says "Turn the other cheek," not "Let the person run you through."

That was my father who loved FDR, actually, not my grandfather. He was in his 50s when he met my mom, and he wasn't a Christian by any means. Yet there were basic standards of absolute morality he agreed with. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not bear false witness.

But Christianity contains the poison pill of altruism that encourages its adherents to act inconsistently with the causes of his own prosperity.
Charity is a choice by a free individual. It's a person's right to give his wealth away, or to turn it into a big lump of gold and dump it in the Marianas Trench. But here you're using the specific term altruism, which is not necessarily the same as charitable giving.

This is an example taught to me as a microeconomics student. Let's say there's a hurricane, and supplies of ice are scarce. You have quite a bit of ice yourself, but you're concerned about people who really need it (e.g. stores and restaurants who need to preserve food). So, you set up an auction where it's sold to the highest bidder. That's still altruistic; that you're making a monetary profit does not matter. If you were selling purely to make a profit, it would not be altruistic. However, this shows that what appears to be greedy is not necessarily so.

Charity itself can be a powerful motivator to be more prosperous. The needy and the church can't do well unless people are prosperous enough to tithe, and there was nothing wrong with Abraham being a wealthy man. It also gives people a sense of self-satisfaction that working hard allows them to do good things with their money.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at October 21, 2009 12:27 PM
But Robin Thomas thinks:

I'm going to be leading a discussion in the African-American-themed dorm "Ujamaa" at Stanford this Thursday, October 29th, at 6 pm, on how education in the USA is making society more racist. I was very interested to read your comments. If any of you would like to be there on Thursday, shoot me an e-mail at robthom (at) stanford (dot) edu.

Posted by: Robin Thomas at October 25, 2009 11:31 PM

The Third Source

"During my long journey through the world of evil, I had discovered three sources of power: the power of an individual's inner freedom, the power of a free society, and the power of the solidarity of the free world."-- Natan Sharansky, "The Case for Democracy"

Cuban punk rocker Gorki Aguila credits the third source for his freedom after his arrest for "pre-criminal behavior" and "social dangerousness." What a great and sad story:

Hat-tip: Instapundit. Professor Reynolds nails it with "Compare to the “rebel” posers here in the States . . . ."

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

I liken it to 'Footloose' with a different tyranny. File under "Freedom on the march."

It has to be highly unlikely that this fellow has read Atlas Shrugged, or even heard of it. And yet, he says that the most important thing for the future of Cuba is "Freedom, obviously. Individual freedom is very tied into development."

Could it be that the longing to be free is a universal innate trait of human beings? [Tongue>cheek] "Naah, couldn't be since Iraqi's aren't "ready" for freedom."

Viva Ricardo.

Posted by: johngalt at October 14, 2009 1:21 PM
But jk thinks:

Si. But don't forget about all that great, free, healthcare!

Posted by: jk at October 14, 2009 2:00 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes, Gorki did neglect to mention that. I suppose he forgot to acknowledge the healthcare utopia because he is young and healthy.

Posted by: johngalt at October 14, 2009 2:49 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

Is freedom an absolute, as in you have it or you don’t? I would think we all have some freedom, it is how much that makes the difference. Iraqi’s had some freedom under Saddam and the Afghans some freedom under the Taliban. Of course some was small and it was not equally distributed or guaranteed. It was you johngalt who said profoundly several years ago that for freedom to work it must be the most important value, above religion, family, tribe, etc. (And people say liberals and conservatives can’t listen and learn from one another) I have always thought the biggest problem in Iraq and Afghanistan is that the people are not ready for central government. They are still deep down a tribal culture. We still haven’t come to grips with the fact that boundaries were drawn often by outside forces and that the people within those boundaries do not think of themselves as part of the group that their border attributes to them.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at October 17, 2009 10:37 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Wow, your memory is better than mine Silence. But that does sound like something I would say.

Geopolitical boundaries is an interesting subject. Whether drawn by external or internal forces, they are drawn by force nonetheless, i.e. those with the power to do so. But these boundaries are only oppressive if the rights of individuals within them are not respected. When America's Constitution has been respected there was greater harmony amongst her citizens. When its restrictions on government power are strained and in many cases ignored we hear ideas like "secession" and "revolution" in the popular discourse. (And it was a dispute over the power of central government, not slavery, that precipitated America's Civil War.)

I'll also dispute your dichotomy of central government versus tribal rule. Tribalism is the most primative form of collectivism with the members of the tribe choosing to associate with those whom they are most similar to and acting to advance their collective causes at the expense of those who are different from them. The same principle lives in modern society with trade unions, retirement associations, race groups and religious associations. All of these entities thrive under a powerful central government because the attendant concentration of power simplifies the practice of currying favoritism.

Posted by: johngalt at October 18, 2009 1:54 PM

Cass Sunstein v. Cheerios II

I try to imagine the clinical trial for Cheerios®:

  • Five thousand members will be enrolled;

  • 2500 will get placebo Cheerios® (General Mills to provide sufficient portions of Cheerios® without whole grain oat bran. Must be indistinguishable from commercially available drug);

  • 1250 participants will consume a 2.5 oz portion of Cheerios® daily with milk

  • 1250 participants will consume a 1.25 oz portion of Cheerios® daily with milk

  • Double blind study. Participants will be randomized into the three groups. Neither doctor will be informed whether patient receiving actual Cheerios® or placebo.

  • All participants will be tested every four weeks for LDL and HDL cholesterol level, plus liver and kidney panels to ensure no harmful side effects from drug;

  • The study will last 96 weeks;

  • Participants will receive Cheerios® or placebo provided by General Mills for the length of trial, and will be compensated $100 each at the completion of the study;

  • Results will be analyzed and presented to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) within three years.

If you're gonna do something, do it right.

But johngalt thinks:

At which point the FDA will rule that more trials are needed and keep the potentially dangerous 'Cheeriocin' drug off of the market. Millions of little tykes will then be forced to continue the "safer" alternative: Fruit Loops (which wisely carry no label suggesting any possible health attributes.)

Hmmm, what would that look like? "Fruit Loops - Packed with calories that studies show helps to prevent malnourishment, frailty or even death."

Please pass the medical marijuana. I need a dose.

Posted by: johngalt at October 14, 2009 12:26 PM
But jk thinks:

Yeah, and one guy would die during the trial so they'd all have to be pulled off the shelves...

Posted by: jk at October 14, 2009 12:33 PM

Cass Sunstein v Cheerios

Extinguish the lamp of liberty now. Why drag it out further?

Reason had a post on this yesterday: Cheerios' Reign of Terror Must Be Stopped! Or, Thank God For Cass Sunstein. Really.

"A handful of Obama appointees," writes the Post, "are awakening a vast regulatory apparatus with authority over nearly every U.S. workplace, 15,000 consumer products, and most items found in kitchen pantries and medicine cabinets."

Near the top of the list? The dread menace of Cheerios, the burp-inducing breakfast cereal that lies (lies!) about its crunchety goodness and heart-helping properties. Or at least needs to run clinical studies on more unwilling children


Nick Gillespie told me to read the whole article but I confess I did not. A ThreeSources friend, however, mails a link to the original WaPo story -- and it is eerily worse than Gillespie's ridiculing:
"In the Bush administration, the problem was that the political folks were hostile to the mission," said Michael A. Livermore, executive director of the Institute for the Study of Regulation at New York University Law School. "We've already seen the new direction of this White House play out in other regulatory aspects -- the Environmental Protection Agency and financial regulation. With the consumer protection agencies, you're going to see a lot more stuff happening because they fit Obama's broad vision for government."

Three thoughts:
1) Oh crap! "They are awakening a vast regulatory apparatus..."

2) Score one for the little-l libs who defended Sunstein while the Social Conservatives were seeking a scalp. As my emailer says "Who wudda thunk Cass Sunstein is all that is standing between me and the jackboots swooping in to take my cheerios?"

3) Can we get our Democrat friends to agree that this arrogation of power to the executive branch is not healthy? Really guys, President Palin or Huckabee or some monster you'll despise will be elected someday and will have these levers of power at his or her disposal. Let's go back to Congress making the laws as described in Article I "All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives. "



October 13, 2009

If We've Lost Senator Snowe

If we've lost Senator Snowe, we've lost the effete, New England elitist incumbent RINOs who are bent on self-preservation over principle!

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20091013/ap_on_go_co/us_health_care_overhaul

UPDATE: OH MY GOD! Now Senator Collins! Unbelievable! What a surprise!

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 2:51 PM | What do you think? [3]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

This was the biggest non-surprising story of the day. Who really thought she would NOT go along with this? (Other than people who were shocked at Arlen Specter becoming a Democrat.)

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at October 13, 2009 5:29 PM
But jk thinks:

What's this??? Arlen Specter a Democrat???

Posted by: jk at October 13, 2009 5:34 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Heh, well, let's say you were in a coma starting in 1964, and came out just before he made his announcement.

"What's this??? Arlen Specter was a Republican???"

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at October 13, 2009 8:41 PM

Selling Freedom to a Polity That Does Not Value It

Media Flash - Female, non-white, lauds Ayn Rand's 'Atlas Shrugged' explaining how it changes lives.

JK asked the title question. This is my first answer.

Hat tip: Brother Russ


News flash: Communism Bad

I really enjoyed this Matt Welch piece this morning. I was gonna link then I wasn't, then I was.

But a great friend of ThreeSources sent the link with the suggestion "This ought to be required reading for all Americans." And I cannot argue.

It was the largest breach of the Iron Curtain in a generation, and it kicked off a remarkable chain of events that ended 11 weeks later with the righteous citizen dismantling of the Berlin Wall.

Twenty years later, the anniversary of that historic border crossing was noted in exactly four American newspapers, according to the Nexis database, and all four mentions were in reprints of a single syndicated column. August anniversaries receiving more media play in the U.S. included the 400th anniversary of Galileo building his telescope, the 150th anniversary of the first oil well, and the 25th anniversary of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. A Google News search of “anniversary” and “freedom” on August 23, 2009, turned up scores of Woodstock references before the first mention of Hungary.

Get used to it, if you haven’t already. November 1989 was the most liberating month of arguably the most liberating year in human history, yet two decades later the country that led the Cold War coalition against communism seems less interested than ever in commemorating, let alone processing the lessons from, the collapse of its longtime foe.


How can you "sell" freedom to a polity that does not value it?


Mea Maxima Culpa!

Ooops.

I suggested that my initial reaction and remarks about Nobel Economics Prize winners President Barack Obama Elinor Ostrom and Oliver Williamson might have to be "revised and extended."

Reading yet another positive review today, this time from David Henderson of the Hoover Institution, I am going to stop digging and offer a full and fulsome retraction.

I, jk, misread the existence of structured, non-coercive association that is respectful of property rights as collectivism. I criticized without complete knowledge and my criticism was off base. I humbly recant and apologize to the Nobel committee and any ThreeSourcers who were inconvenienced.

I feel better.


Robert Reich Speaks Truth

Advisor to President Obama and former Labor Secretary Robert Reich describes ObamaCare in a 2007 speech:

Hat-tip: The Humble Libertarian Blog via Insty

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 12:12 PM | What do you think? [5]
But johngalt thinks:

This is perfect. Are you certain it isn't doctored?

I was compelled to share the link with my family email group, along with this follow-up:

OK all of you pro-healthcare reform family members out there, which of these "realities" would you like to see?

- Health care for young, healthy people is going to cost more.

- No more "technology and drugs" for the very old in the last couple years of your life. "It's too expensive, so we're gonna let you die."

- Less innovation in pharmaceuticals so you won't live any longer than your parents.

That Robert Reich - he's such a hateful tea-bagging redneck!

(Can you believe the audience applause after "we're gonna let you die?" Simply stunning.)

Posted by: johngalt at October 13, 2009 1:55 PM
But jk thinks:

I was concerned as well. But watching Secretary Reich for a few years on Kudlow & Co., it has quite a bit of verisimilitude. It's part of the progressive conceit: you gotta break-some-eggs-to-make-an-omelet.

They cheer because they see life as zero-sum -- and they're not old. That's more life for me! Right?

Posted by: jk at October 13, 2009 2:43 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Two words: Logan's Run.

Posted by: johngalt at October 13, 2009 2:47 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Followed by Soylent Green.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at October 13, 2009 8:42 PM
But johngalt thinks:

This speech made it to Rush Limbaugh's show today. JK scooped 'im!

He highlighted the same line that made such an impression on me:

"WE are going to LET you die."

Crap. This means that I am just like Limbaugh... a "bigoted, hateful racist homophobe." How can I face myself after this?!

Posted by: johngalt at October 14, 2009 6:50 PM

Quote of the Day

Hard to pick from two choices in one WSJ Editorial. The Ed Page chides industry lobbying groups for trying to appease Congress and only now seeing that ObamaCare will not be a great deal for them. Choice one is "and we thought you had to be smart to get into med school," but I think I'll have to go with:

All of these lobbies should have known better. The insurers have been especially foolish, given that ObamaCare has all along been about converting them into public utilities. Washington will design benefits and set prices—and now there's even talk in the House of a windfall profits tax. The CEOs of Aetna, WellPoint, UnitedHealthcare and the rest deserve to be sued for destroying shareholder value through political malpractice. If nothing else, this exercise provides an object lesson in the wisdom of the Washington adage that "if you're not at the table, you're on the menu." The industry is "at the table"—as the main course.

UPDATE: A belated QOTD on the same topic yesterday:
The AMA goes to bed with the Obama administration, and predictably wakes up with fleas. -- Don Luskin

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 11:50 AM | What do you think? [0]

October 12, 2009

Fourth Down Economics

I have mentioned James Surowecki's contention in "The Wisdom of Crowds" that statistics suggest more aggressive play calling on 4th than most NFL teams choose.

I found a blog that devotes much to it, and through it a link to a paper on the topic.

Warning, you will not get much work done if you visit the Advanced NFL Stats Blog. You were warned!

Hat-tip: Scrivener.net

Posted by John Kranz at 6:06 PM | What do you think? [0]

Play ball!

For a blog with PA and Colorado ties there's been a surprising silence about the NLDS between the Rox and Phillies, the only one of four first-round series not to end in a sweep. It's about time somebody changed that.

Dagny and I left the big girls with Opa and took the baby to the game last night. We were just as ready and willing to bundle up the night before but the baseball powers that be (Pelosi and Reed?) somehow decided that yesterday's 30.0 degree first pitch was sufficiently better than Saturday's 26.6 degrees that they gave us a start time of 8:07 PM MDT (10:07 pm Eastern.) Great. After the four and a quarter hour game we arrived back at the farm around 2 am, the same time the game ended on the east coast.

Today's first pitch will be warmer (it's 44.1 and rising at the moment) and in the daylight at 4:07 local time. But the weather isn't the story, Rockies pitching is. Losing Jorge DeLaRosa in his last regular season start was a body blow. Hammel has done well this year, being one of five Rox pitchers with 10 or more wins this season, but I'd have preferred to see him start a road game instead given his bipolar performances home vs. away.

I wasn't confident going in last night but still felt the home team would pull it out at the end. The magic never struck. The hill was too steep. While Phillies fans moan that Lidge walked two in the ninth, freezing Coors Field partisans howled on every first pitch ball and each of the eight, yes EIGHT, bases on balls given up last night by the pitchers we have come to rely on since June 5th. Today, however, I'm more confident. As Tulo says, those other games were never "must win." This one is. This team has pride and today's starter has the goods. The Phillies go back home today but the Rockies invite themselves along for a one-game playoff tomorrow. Winner-take-all.

I'm leaving shortly to witness the spectacle.

But AlexC thinks:

Lidge makes me nervous! Prefer not to discuss to not jinx it!

Posted by: AlexC at October 12, 2009 9:00 PM
But jk thinks:

Well, congrats to the Phils. I will be pulling for them all the way.

I saw the box score with a '0' in the bottom of the ninth, turned off the computer and thought all night that the Rockies had won. Ignorance was blissful for awhile...

Posted by: jk at October 13, 2009 10:50 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Sorry jk, what you really wanted to see in the bottom of the ninth was an "x."

Confidence reigned throughout the game. First inning homer for the Phillies? No problem. The Rox delivered Roctober magic with 3 runs in the 8th for a 2 run lead. Huston Street had first pitch strikes that led to the first two outs of the ninth but with two on and two stikes to Howard, the last pitch was too good. For Howard, that is.

Congratulations Phillies. You out "Roctobered" the Rockies. I'm still unsure who I'll root for the rest of the way but the Phillies have a leg up in that dagny said she'll kill me if I root for the Dodgers. Hey, there's always the American League. Former Rockie Brian Fuentes closes for the Angels.

Posted by: johngalt at October 13, 2009 1:38 PM
But jk thinks:

And I might kill if you resort to the AL. Despite Ricardian elegance, I can't handle the DH.

Posted by: jk at October 13, 2009 2:05 PM
But johngalt thinks:

It's settled then. Gee, that was easy!

Posted by: johngalt at October 13, 2009 2:54 PM
But jk thinks:

Well, it would be more difficult for me to enforce my threats than Dagny hers...

Posted by: jk at October 13, 2009 4:07 PM

Another pat on the back for candidate Palin

Investor's Business Daily editorial board tells John McCain to "exit the stage" and says his failed campaign's one positive legacy was "It made Sarah Palin a national figure."

Biegun, who helped with Palin's Hong Kong speech last month and was her chief foreign policy aide during last year's campaign, told Investor's Business Daily that the former governor showed "great passion for foreign policy and national security" during the campaign, calling it "an area on which she has great instincts."

She's "free-trade oriented," he says, with "a strong sense of the importance of American leadership in the world."

2012 Posted by JohnGalt at 2:37 PM | What do you think? [2]
But jk thinks:

Merciful Zeus! Mark Zandi was on FOXNews Sunday yesterday. Billed as Senator McCain's top economic advisor, a couple minutes listening to this guy and I was singing the Obama song!

He went on and on about how effective have been the stimulus and cash for clunkers. I had flashbacks of the second debate. He called for more help -- extend unemployment benefits, help the housing sector, more aid to the states...

Posted by: jk at October 12, 2009 4:02 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Zandi is such a state-worshipping fool.
All you need to hear to dismiss him is that he credits the stimulus and wants more government intervention in the economy. (With a "stimulus" like this, who needs a recession?) I've mentioned him a time or two on my own blog, pointing out that he constantly predicts recession (he has since at least 1997), then pats himself on the back when one happens.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at October 12, 2009 9:27 PM

Lunch Reform Initiative

Got this via email today. Two months old but still current.

Obama children's private school reforms its lunch policy to be more "fair."

She called the president a racist! HA.

Pretty interesting artsy blog here. iOwnTheWorld.com


A Trike for Silence

This post Insty linked to made me think of ThreeSources's token left-of-center Silence Dogood. We may not vote alike but we frequently think alike.

One smart comment of his is that government regulation in fuel economy and transportation safety have stifled the development of hybrid vehicles -- not gas-electric hybrids, but scooter-motorcycle, cycle-car skateboard-bus vehicles which might find a market yet cannot be brought to market because of governments need to stratify and classify.

bmw-simple-concept-1.jpg

BMW's 120MPG hybrid motorcycle-car-stealth-bomber-thingy might make some sense but one finds it hard to see its coming to market.

But jk thinks:

This MR2 owner could not agree more,

Posted by: jk at October 13, 2009 11:43 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Too complex and too many variables to predict every time, but the empirical evidence is conclusive.

I considered posting this link yesterday. It came in an email from my dear ol' dad last month. I refrained. But now I have to say you've asked for it.

http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&um=1&q=smart+car+wreck&sa=N&start=20&ndsp=20

Posted by: johngalt at October 13, 2009 1:49 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

Johngalt you must have been confused by the name "Smart". Did they learn nothing from the vans of the early 70's? Namely, you need some crumple space between you and the front of your car. Has nothing to do with your size or weight. Speaking of weight, 1800 lbs for this thing? They saved a whole 500 lbs from a Honda Fit? And gas mileage of 33/41? Seriously, this thing doesn't get 80 mpg? The Smart Car is pure marketing.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at October 14, 2009 12:11 AM
But jk thinks:

Boulder lefties get mad when they see a Hummer; I get mad when I see a smart car. They are so completely lame -- just a hair better gas mileage than my Mister2. It's all about showing how much you care, I suppose.

BTW engineering section: another mea culpa. I've completely changed my tune on reciprocal gas mileage -- the Europeans do have a better idea there. Looking at gallons per 100 miles, the difference between the MR2 and StupidCar® look as negligible as they are.

Posted by: jk at October 14, 2009 10:07 AM
But johngalt thinks:

You're absolutely right Silence, the so-called Smart Car delivers all of the hazards and inconveniences with little of the intended advantages of a smaller, lighter car. Like hybrids, I consider them the automotive equivalent of a hair shirt. But don't crumple zones necessarily make any given car larger and heavier than it would otherwise have been?

On the stealth tryke, zero to sixty in ten seconds? That's one way to get high mpg - tall gears and/or a throttle limiter. I think concept vehicles like this are a very worthwhile endeavor, if only to demonstrate what has to be sacrificed for a few more miles per gallon (or fewer litres per meter.)

Posted by: johngalt at October 14, 2009 12:15 PM
But johngalt thinks:

On a related note, I just saw a commercial for the new 2010 Subaru Outback. They billed it as "the original SUV alternative" immediately followed with "now bigger and better."

Posted by: johngalt at October 16, 2009 11:45 AM

Feeling Better about the Peace Prize

After reading more about the Nobel Economics Prize -- which I do take seriously -- maybe the Hope and Change Prize was not poorly decided.

I reserve the right to revise and extend these remarks as I learn a little more. But the Michael Spense overview that Professor Mankiw links to puts me ill at ease. "The common theme underlying the prize this year is that markets do not solve all problems of resource allocation and incentives well or even at all."

The deeper insight that these scholars have helped us to come to understand is that there are many circumstances in which non-cooperative outcomes (nash equilibria) are deficient or sub-optimal, and that a good part of economic and social progress lies in the creative design of institutions whose purpose is to cause these non-cooperative equilibria to come closer to socially and economically efficient and fair results.

Climate change is a commons problem on a global scale with the added complication that collective action is designed not directly to produce results (in the sense of temperature reduction), but rather to acquire tail insurance by shifting the probability distributions against outcomes that are highly destructive but not certain to occur. Though some are not convinced this is a problem worth acting on, a majority globally recognize that there are risks to be taken seriously. This may be the most complex commons problem we have yet faced. We are in the midst of shifting values with respect to energy efficiency and clean technology. The challenge is to design institutions, mechanisms and incentives that move us in the right direction.


I stand ready to be disabused of my opposition. No doubt laureates Elinor Ostrom and Oliver Williamson know a couple of things that I do not. But the claim that "people and societies find ways through organizational structures and arrangements, political and other institutions, values, incentives and recognition, and the careful management of information, to solve these problems" leaves me cold.

UPDATE: Arnold Kling is more positive. CLearly I need to delve a little deeper.

UPDATE II: A roundup of positive reviews from FEE.org:

The bloggers emphasize that both economists have devoted their attention to voluntary forms of governance, Ostrom in commons (among other things) and Williamson in firms. Regarding Ostrom, Tabarrok notes, “[H]er work has explored how between the atomized individual and the heavy-hand of government there is a range of voluntary, collective associations that over time can evolve efficient and equitable rules for the use of common resources…. For Ostrom it’s not the tragedy of the commons but the opportunity of the commons.”

But johngalt thinks:

There's that word again... "progressive."

The best response to this latest load of unapologetic manure from the Nobel Committee is to reprise Lisa M's excellent C.S. Lewis quote. (last comment)

"We all want progress, but if you're on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive."

Damn, if we could only get this precise meaning onto a bumper sticker.

Posted by: johngalt at October 12, 2009 2:01 PM
But Keith thinks:

jg: yes we can! No only can we get that sentiment on a bumper sticker, we can put it in a form that The Won's adoring throngs will appreciate:

Hope and Change -
ur doing it rong

Posted by: Keith at October 12, 2009 7:25 PM
But EE thinks:

It is so funny to read the differing perspectives on the prize. Those on the left routinely point out that this is a prize rewarding behavioral economics or that markets don't always work. Meanwhile those who are more libertarian emphasize that this shows how private institutions emerge to alleviate problems that markets do not.

Posted by: EE at October 13, 2009 12:52 PM
But jk thinks:

I spoke a bit too soon and have decide to recant.

Posted by: jk at October 13, 2009 2:17 PM

October 11, 2009

Jay Who?

My legacy hoodies showed up just in time. Way to go Broncos!

bronco1.jpg bronco3.jpg

UPDATE: I changed my Facebook profile pic to this and left the comment "Five. Oh." A friend of mine in the UK responded "Happy Birthday!"

Bloody brits...

Posted by John Kranz at 9:08 PM | What do you think? [4]
But Keith thinks:

And congratulations on yesterday's cling-to-the-edge-of-your-seat upset victory over New England in overtime. Kyle Orton! Who'd have thunk it?

Posted by: Keith at October 12, 2009 11:41 AM
But jk thinks:

Not me man! I am ever the optimist on America and the happy warrior in politics. But I will confess that I did not expect to win five games all year.

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

Ahem. I did.

The comment I never managed to add at the time was that I'd been down on Shanahan for a couple of years before Bowlen canned him. Calling out Cutler as a pinhead and standing up for Josh overshadowed the anti-Shanahan sentiment. Mike seemed to have gotten too set in his ways and made poor personel decisions on the staff as well as the field.

Yeah, I know it sounds like hindsight but dagny'll back me that I've been saying it at home long before the coaching change.

Posted by: johngalt at October 12, 2009 1:30 PM
But jk thinks:

I'll take you at your word, of course.

I was stunned at the loss of Shanahan (a prominent feature at GOP rallies and a coach with a great record). But I will confess that my position has evolved and I now see a bit of Peter Principle.

He may be the best coach of all time, but he was likely out of his depth as a VP/General Manager/King of the Known Universe or whatever his title was. Another team will be able to rescue just the coaching part -- I just hope they're not in our division!

Posted by: jk at October 12, 2009 2:37 PM

Carter Round II

A friend passed me this Atlantic story from May 1979, The Passionless Presidency...

Sixteen months into his Administration, there was a mystery to be explained about Jimmy Carter: the contrast between the promise and popularity of his first months in office and the disappointment so widely felt later on. Part of this had to do with the inevitable end of the presidential honeymoon, with the unenviable circumstances Carter inherited, with the fickleness of the press. But much more of it grew directly from the quality Carter displayed that morning in Illinois. He was speaking with gusto because he was speaking about the subject that most inspired him: not what he proposed to do, but who he was. Where Lyndon Johnson boasted of schools built and children fed, where Edward Kennedy holds out the promise of the energies he might mobilize and the ideas he might enact, Jimmy Carter tells us that he is a good man. His positions are correct, his values sound. Like Marshal Petain after the fall of France, he has offered his person to the nation. This is not an inconsiderable gift; his performance in office shows us why it's not enough.

It's quite long, but definitely worth a read.

But johngalt thinks:

Just yesterday a respected friend said, "Carter was a good man, he was just lousy as a President." Comports pretty well with this excerpt.

Posted by: johngalt at October 11, 2009 3:05 PM
But Keith thinks:

Carter certainly seemed a good man, though an awful president, while in office. I've always sort of assumed it was his chase for a Nobel and his desperate hunger for a "legacy" that turned him into the friend-of-our-enemies he is today.

Conversely, I seem to recall it being George Will that said "Clinton is not the worst President the Republic has had, but he is the worst person ever to have been President."

Nine months into his first term, and I'm already thinking Obama will break both records - and be seem as both the worst President and the worst man to be President.

Posted by: Keith at October 12, 2009 11:50 AM
But jk thinks:

Share the bipartisan wealth a little: I always thought the same about President GeorgeHerbertWalkerBushFortyOne.

Reading Barbara's Book, or his edition of personal letters, one is pretty overwhelmed with his integrity, patriotism and decency (we're talking pols, that's a high bar!)

And yet, he lacked the fundamental philosophical footing to even be a caretaker for the Regan revolution.

Posted by: jk at October 12, 2009 12:32 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

I will take issue with Carter even being a decent person, given the vitriol that he hurled at GWB while violating the unspoken rule for past presidents not to critize the current president. Says much about the man's character, or lack thereof.

Some years ago, a Friend of The Refugee served as a driver for the Carter entourage while on a trip to Vail. According to this Friend, Carter was arrogant, rude, inconsiderate of his guests and at times downright nasty, even to Roslyn. Narcissist may be the best descriptor.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at October 12, 2009 4:47 PM
But Keith thinks:

I find it impossible to disagree with either jk or the Refugee. I agree on the assessment of Bush 41. Nice guy, probably a fine neighbor, he'd be welcome at my dinner table, I'd even consider lending him tools. President? Not so much. He lost me with the "voodoo economics" crack, and then later for not steamrolling into downtown Baghdad when he had the chance. The best thing to commend him is that he was better than the competition.

Refugee: my "seemed... while in office" syntax was deliberate. Seeming is not the same as being, I'm afraid, especially in politics. I attribute my first Presidential vote, in '76, to the fact that Carter seemed a good guy, was not Jerry Ford, and seemed like what the country needed to wash away the rancor of Watergate. I've been trying to make up for that vote ever since.

Posted by: Keith at October 12, 2009 6:37 PM
But jk thinks:

Brother Keith: Heh, My first was four years later and I voted for John Anderson! My pragmatism is my sackcloth and ashes...

Posted by: jk at October 12, 2009 8:07 PM

October 9, 2009

More liked, Less Respected

Today's announcement that Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize illustrates that America is now better liked, at least among Eurosnobs and certain regional dictators. Results are apparently unimportant.

Victor Davis Hanson has this excellent piece, which appeared yesterday, analyzing the shift in international dynamics. Unfortunately, the lede is pretty well buried in the piece. Hanson's conclusion is that America is better liked with Obama than it was with Bush, but that we're also less respected. That is, our enemies are emboldend and our friends are nervous. Worth the read.

Obama Administration Posted by Boulder Refugee at 3:12 PM | What do you think? [0]

Noooooooooooooo!

Nobel fucking peace fucking prize.

Sorry.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:47 AM | What do you think? [12]
But jk thinks:

Actually, my favorite was "Michelle Obama: For the first time in my adult life, I'm proud of Norway!"

Posted by: jk at October 9, 2009 3:47 PM
But jk thinks:

At least Prof Mankiw has some fun:

Pfuffnick's Nobel Economics Prize triumph hailed by many

LONDON — The surprise choice of first-year graduate student Quintus Pfuffnick for the Nobel Prize in Economics drew praise from much of the world Friday even as many pointed out the youthful economist has not yet published anything in scholarly journals.

The new PhD candidate was hailed for his willingness to tackle difficult problems, his commitment to improving the economic system, and his goal of bringing efficiency and equality into harmony.

[...]

Posted by: jk at October 9, 2009 4:11 PM
But Keith thinks:

The one I'm waiting for is "Yo, Barry, I'm happy for you and I'mma let you finish, but Jimmeh Carter has the best Nobel Peace Prize performance of all time..."

Posted by: Keith at October 9, 2009 4:12 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"Arafat. Kofi Annan and the "peacekeepers." Carter. Gore. The IAEA." And now, President Imagine.

But there's no need for profanity, my brothers. We're simply victims of mistranslation in the name of the prize. It's not the Nobel Peace Prize, but the No Balls Peace Prize.

Posted by: johngalt at October 9, 2009 8:31 PM
But jk thinks:

A good friend of 3src nails it:

I heard Josh McDaniels is going to be the 2009 - 2010 coach of the year. He's made such a promising start and he really wants to win!

Posted by: jk at October 9, 2009 8:51 PM
But johngalt thinks:

And KOA radio's Jon Caldera piled on last night with, "We have a breaking news alert from Fox News: President Obama has just won the Cy Young Award. Rumors are swirling that he has an inside track on the Heisman as well."

Beside the relativism that inspires the "thinking" of the Nobel Committee in making an award to Obama before he accomplishes anything there may be a concrete reason for the premature honor. Namely, the very real possibility that he's already reached his zenith.

Posted by: johngalt at October 11, 2009 3:11 PM

October 8, 2009

Dear Austan,

A fun letter from Yoram Bauman, with info on his gigs (none 'round here) and this open letter:

AN OPEN LETTER TO AUSTAN GOOLSBEE

Dear Austan: You might think that it was quite a shock for me–"the world’s first and only stand-up economist"–to find a Wall Street Journal blog with the headline "Austan Goolsbee, stand-up economist".

But in fact I was not shocked, or even surprised. You and your colleagues in the Obama administration have been quite active in redrawing the line between the public and private sectors, and it would not have been rational for me to expect that economics comedy would be immune from the onslaught.

Now, I could take your comedy endeavors as a threat and respond by hiring lobbyists to protect my turf, or by making an appearance on Fox News as “Joe the comedian”. But unlike plumbers or insurance executives or most other private sector businesses, stand-up comedians oppose barriers to entry. Although it pains me to remember the times I was crushed in comedy competitions by high school drop-outs telling fart jokes, I also remember that those crushing defeats made me stronger.

So I welcome the competition, even from the government (heck, especially from the government!) and in fact this letter is an open invitation for you to come join me in performing at the American Economic Association humor session in Atlanta on January 3, 2010. The humor session is free and open to the public, and will also feature Hugo Mialon of Emory University, Jodi N. Beggs of economistsdoitwithmodels.com, and country music legend Merle Hazard. University of Wisconsin professor Ken West will be emceeing, so you can RSVP to him or to me, or just show up unannounced and wait for Ken to invite you onstage. We even have a title for your presentation: Stand-Up Economics: The Public Option!

Regards, and hope to see you in Atlanta,
yoram bauman phd, standupeconomist.com
“the world’s first and only [private sector] stand-up economist”

Posted by John Kranz at 5:30 PM | What do you think? [0]

But They'll Rock at Heath Care XCIII

Not me, Cap'n Ed, worried about felon census workers:

If the properly processed criminal record checks are any indication, the Bureau may have let a large number of violent criminals slip through the cracks. Of the prints that were properly checked, about one percent, or 1,800 workers, had criminal records that name checks failed to identify.

Of these 1,800 workers with criminal records, about 750 had their employment terminated or further reviewed due to criminal records that included crimes like rape, manslaughter and child abuse. Projecting these numbers to the employees with spoilt prints, the GAO came up with the figure of 200 census workers that may have had serious criminal records.


Unfortunately, we don’t have the luxury of turning Census Bureau workers away from our doors as we do with partisan community organizers. In their rush to hire, probably brought on in an attempt to alleviate the unemployment numbers (the money this year came from the stimulus package), the Census Bureau botched a process that private-sector employers routinely employ, and hired hundreds of felons to demand our personal information on our doorsteps.

Imagine how the Obama administration will handle hiring in the public-option health-insurance agencies …

But johngalt thinks:

Haven't seen a census taker since we moved to the farm. Must be 'cause if you don't live in town, you don't count.

Posted by: johngalt at October 8, 2009 3:57 PM
But jk thinks:

I don't think I've ever seen a census taker. Filled out a couple of forms, but that's all I remeber.

Posted by: jk at October 8, 2009 5:30 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

A friend here was doing part-time census work, going door to door, complete with that ridiculously designed PDA-wannabe. So it's still done, I just don't know how often.

As I've mentioned before, I live on a private road. An added benefit is: no trick-or-treaters.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at October 8, 2009 9:49 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

I have to admit I didn't know that we still took the Census by going door to door. I have never in my life seen a Census worker and I have spent most of that living in big cities. Like JK I have filled out a few forms but that was it. I am still amazed that we only do this every 10 years - it doesn't take a day and half carriage ride to get from Richmond to Baltimore anymore. With the increased mobility of people I think the Census is as wrong as it is right. I can search 100,000 items on Google in 0.1 second but it still takes us 10 years to count our people?

Posted by: Silence Dogood at October 10, 2009 9:06 AM
But jk thinks:

Well, the Constitution dictates ten years for reapportionment. I would not like to see that increase in frequency -- they cause enough trouble once in a decade.

Funny, I'm a big technocrat but I am less sanguine than you about our ability with all technology at hand to conduct an accurate census. Many opportunities exist for graft and chicanery, plus it is a difficult problem,

Posted by: jk at October 10, 2009 11:20 AM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

Yeah I suppose the do cause enough trouble once a decade. But, keep in mind that the Census count attributes district boundaries and level of representation. For example, next election the city of Detroit will still have electoral power even though its population may have decreased dramatically. Hey, I am just trying to make their trouble causing proportionate!

Posted by: Silence Dogood at October 10, 2009 2:40 PM

Morning Read

Nick Gillespie of Reason reviews the two new Ayn Rand bios in a nice piece.

Might be of some interest to ThreeSources, I'm not really sure.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:00 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Read the review. Feel like I still need to read the books to find out what they say. Seems like that's probably because they don't say anything profound (or else Nick didn't really read them.)

Posted by: johngalt at October 9, 2009 5:06 PM

Coffeehousin'

jk, a red shirt, a red telecaster, and a torch song. Click if you wish...

But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Now The Refugee knows what to get you for Christmas - a candy-apple red shirt!

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at October 8, 2009 10:45 PM

Game Over

Halfway through our victory lap and the starter's gun puts a .38 into our thigh.

Sorry for the tortured metaphor, but I really believed that citizen activism had killed socialized medicine in the United States. We had a great August recess and I thought that reason was going to prevail.

We had August; President Obama has four years. And it's over. Rasmussen polls last week showed support for reform returning, and the new CBO numbers are a death knell. People who are watching Katie Couric instead of reading ThreeSources are hearing that we can cover the uninsured and cut the deficit. Damn, that Obama really is a wiz.

The WSJ headline (again news pages) took me aback: "New Math Boosts Health Plan." I thought that was "new math" as in "if math were a color..." or "how does this differential equation make you feel?" But no, they were talking about the new CBO numbers.

Crisis averted! Our brave legislators have found a way to tax us enough to give us all health care hooray!

UPDATE: Our friends at Heritage are not impressed:

Enter Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-MT) who was determined to manipulate the CBO’s scoring system as best he could and deliver a deficit neutral version of Obamacare. After months of working directly with CBO staff, Baucus scored a victory for Obamacare yesterday when the CBO released a preliminary analysis purporting to show that the Baucus bill would reduce deficits by a total of $81 billion over the next decade. The New York Times awarded Baucus with the headline that the White House has been searching for since the debate first began: “Health Care Bill Gets Green Light in Cost Analysis.” But this headline and the accompanying article are fundamentally dishonest. As the Politico reported yesterday: “While the media and lawmakers often shorthand a CBO letter as a “score” or “cost estimate,” today’s CBO letter is neither. Because the bill is still in “conceptual,” or layman’s terms, CBO’s letter today was a “preliminary analysis.” For it to be an official cost estimate, the bill has to be translated into legislative language.”

Okay, so now everybody who follows @Heritage (27,913) are against it and everybody who reads the New York Times...

UPDATE: Insty links to two polls that look much better for the side of liberty: Quinnipiac oppose 47-40 and Pew 47% oppose, 34% favor. Strange, I wonder why AP highlighted the more favorable polls. Probably an oversight.

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 10:33 AM | What do you think? [5]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I knew it wasn't dead. Baucus said that the lack of a public option was a victory, because as he unequivocally stated, he just wanted something that will pass the Senate.

In other words, he didn't care that he got everything, just that he got something at this stage. The boiled frog doesn't notice the temperature gradually rising, remember?

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at October 8, 2009 11:55 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

By the way, did you see the latest Big Lie? This is as egregious as anything in months.

The health care bill will still cost over $800 billion over the next decade, but it will actually be reducing the deficit!

They will be spending $82.9 billion a year for 10 years, but because there will supposedly be $81 billion total over those ten years cut here and there, they can claim it will "reduce the deficit."

Anyone who claims this is a liar condemned to hell, and anyone who believes this should follow.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at October 8, 2009 12:08 PM
But Keith thinks:

Bad day to wake up this morning.

Last week, we celebrated the revelation that the hockey stick was broken, and the foundational data for the entire climate-change theory was proved to have been cherry-picked. Armed with this inconvenient truth (sorry, guys, I just had to say it), the conservatives should have been able to drive a wooden stake through the heart of Cap-and-Tax once and for all. This morning, I read that Senate Republicans are caving.

Last week, we watched as the number of people opposed to socialized medicine grew daily, especially among the "strongly opposed" category. Republicans were suddenly in a position to stand their ground and forcefully dig their heels in which the public cheered. Now I read that, because the CBO has fudged the numbers and publicly pretended that Obamalamacare will ONLY cost $829 billion, some within the GOP are ready to once again snatch defeat from the very jaws of victory.

It makes me wonder: exactly at what point will we find ourselves standing on the Old North Bridge? What will it take for Americans to fight back?

Posted by: Keith at October 8, 2009 12:32 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

I think what it will take to fight back is a better plan. Congress in the past two decades has simply become the for and the against with the party holding the chairmanships pushing their agenda and the minority railing against it. Competing ideas are crushed early in committee. I am strongly against a government health care plan, but equally strongly against the current system. The day is fast approaching where my only pay raise will be a slightly lower increase in my insurance deduction. If we could spend less time screaming about killing granny and a little more talking sense that would be great. Has the Republican health care plan really been reduced to the birth and death plan – we want you born (no abortion) and we will spare no expense to extend your death, the time in between you are on your own?

Posted by: Silence Dogood at October 10, 2009 9:19 AM
But jk thinks:

Silence, good to see you. We have devolved into some serious choir preaching because I don't think we have any internecine differences on health care.

Let me step back. I see nothing, nada, zip in the Baucus plan or HR3200 that would make things better. I know that's a bold assertion, but I'll stand by it.

If there were a big messy compromise where we shoveled more money at SCHIP and dictated terms to insurers but allowed interstate purchases, tort reform and a flattening of the tax imbalance between employers and individuals, then we could argue whether it was worth it.

Yet the Democratic advantage allows them to pass a bill that only transfers power to government. Holy cow, even Senator Susan Collins isn't in.

Don't know if I misread your comment about "The Republican Plan." I would say that it has been characterized the way you describe, reduced to that by the opposition but I think the GOP legislators have been pretty good about pushing tort reform, interstate purchases and tax equivalence.

With tort reform, the devil is in the details. It could help reduce defensive medicine. At the same time, suit for redress remains an important right; I am leery of tampering with it.

I'd love to talk less about death panels and abortion and illegal immigrants and I have said that many times on these pages. Yet you must admit that as the government takes over these decisions, all three of these rear their heads as unintended consequences. Gub'mint's buying: do we pick up the tab for Tina from TJ? Unprotected Eunice for Utah? Half a million in experimental surgery for Great grandma?

I'd prefer government made none of those choices and I consider it the least important part of the debate (We're going to give up our liberty as long as we don't pay for abortions?). But if government is going to decide, why can't people ask what the decisions would be?

The status quo has some serious flaws. But we've seen Congress break a million things as they rush to "do something!" And I feel we risk ruining one of the greatest most innovative and most important industries ever.

Posted by: jk at October 10, 2009 11:50 AM

October 7, 2009

Correlation Isn't Causation

Admits Jimmy P. Then again: Stimulus vs. Unemployment


100709stimulus.jpg

But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Well, it's not necessarily causation, but in this case, I'd say there's a strong case for causation. As Austrian economics explains, government interference hinders rational decision-making. In a free market, employers can give it their best guess, but when you insert politics, they don't know what to expect.

The government is also crowding out -- crowding out people's abilities by redistributing their wealth toward favored projects. Politicians in both parties tout how this and that create "good jobs," which may well be true, but the jobs are at the expense of the rest of us. By definition, we didn't want these jobs to exist when left to our free choices; our wants and desires didn't warrant their existence.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at October 8, 2009 10:17 AM
But jk thinks:

Well said, Perry. Add to that the indecision caused by increased political meddling in markets and business and it is hard to see even our miraculous economic engine of freedom keeping up.

Posted by: jk at October 8, 2009 11:41 AM

What-Me-Worry?

madmagazine.jpg

Hat-tip: Don Surber

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

Citizens vs. Subjects

Robert E. Moffit of the Heritage Foundation provides: a good look at the freedom implications of an individual mandate, versus its efficacy in "At What Cost To Freedom?: Obama's Individual Mandate Is a Bad Idea."

Meanwhile, Sen. Max Baucus (D., Mont.) has unveiled a Senate Finance Committee draft that also has an individual mandate. It would levy a penalty of up to $3,800 on families for what the president calls "irresponsible behavior," by which he means health-care choices of which he disapproves. In Obama's usage, "personal responsibility" is selective; it doesn't extend to the question of taking responsibility for one's health care. That's the government's job. Of course, federal officials will have outside help in deciding for the rest of us. Powerful special-interest groups and health-industry lobbyists will do all they can to make sure that their favored medical treatments, procedures, drugs, and devices are part of the "bare minimum" that every plan must include.

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 1:14 PM | What do you think? [0]

October 6, 2009

The Segue.

I'm going to risk embroilment in the FTC regulation on blogs for product endorsements. But please be assured that I receive NO remuneration for my recommendation.

Yet I have to report that the Devil Dog Brew and Sniper's Brew coffee arrived today, I opened the Sniper's Brew and it is AWESOME!

Good company, good coffee, good cause.

But johngalt thinks:

Which Devil Dog roast did you choose? (There are 3 roasts darker than "Bold.")

Posted by: johngalt at October 7, 2009 12:54 PM
But jk thinks:

I hope everybody's sitting down -- I actually scored decaf of both Sniper's and Devil Dog. When the decaf is good, you know you've hit a vein.

Posted by: jk at October 7, 2009 12:57 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

Thanks for the tip! This could bring me out of my mourning of the demise of my local Peaberry coffee shop. Forget blue and red, at least we can agree on dark coffee and dark beer.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at October 10, 2009 9:27 AM
But jk thinks:

Agreed, and agreed on Peaberry, where was it, 120th & Sheridan?

Out-o-towners: Peaberry was a local chain that competed with and was purchased by the wicked evil Starbucks Corporation. Company stores switched over, but a few individual franchises kept on under the Peaberry banner.

Really good stuff, although as they attained ten or so stores, my Berkeley educated niece decided that they too were evil. Business is great as long as you're not successful at it. (Hope I didn't step on teh Kumbaya moment.)

Posted by: jk at October 10, 2009 11:59 AM

You're Ruining Health Care for This?

The only argument the left has for ObamaCare is the idea of near universal coverage. I would not trade quality, innovation and privacy for it, mind you, but it is compelling to suggest that most every American would be covered.

Well, except for 25 million. WSJ (News pages, not my wingnut buddies)

The Congressional Budget Office estimated that an earlier version of the Senate Finance bill would ensure health insurance for 91% of Americans -- leaving about 25 million people without coverage. The CBO's estimates for the latest version of the bill are due out this week; it is expected to cover fewer people. About 85% of Americans currently have health insurance.

The industry concerns illustrate one tension at the heart of the latest Senate bill. Key industries bought into the measure -- and agreed to absorb cuts in reimbursements -- on the expectation that millions of new customers would be brought into the health-care system. The weaker the mandate to buy insurance, the fewer the new customers.

In addition, if the bill leaves many Americans without coverage, that would undermine President Barack Obama's goal of bringing near-universal health insurance to the U.S.


The thesis of the article is that many of the industry players who went along because they stood to gain from universal coverage are now realizing that they get the full pro quo without so much of the quid.

I don't think any ThreeSourcer will cry as the rent-seekers are hoisted on their own petard (ow!). But I suggest that the supporters are losing their only convincing argument. We are going to go from 40 million to 25 million uninsured -- and this is worth destroying the whole system?

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 4:06 PM | What do you think? [5]
But Keith thinks:

Jussaminnitt.

The new Obamalacare plan will cover all but 25 million Americans? The last number I heard, there were presently only 30 million Americans without coverage (43 million only if you include "persons-of-questionable-and-potentially-spurious-documentation*"). So we're supposed to be mortgaging our future and signing over our souls to the nannystate in return for the minor uptick of five million persons, who will join the rest of us in having crappy medical services rationed out to us by the Obamalacare czars.

Talk about the law of diminishing returns - with a vengeance!

* (Euphemism to avoid an undesired tangent working its way into this thread)

Posted by: Keith at October 6, 2009 5:51 PM
But jk thinks:

* You mean we're not covering Linux users?

Posted by: jk at October 6, 2009 5:55 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Touche, JK! That would be referring to the Linuxem, who are here illegally from Linuxembourg.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at October 6, 2009 6:49 PM
But Keith thinks:

Score one for jk - I see I walked into that one, and I'm sure there's a joke out there whose syntax starts with:

man Obamalamacare

And I seriously doubt THAT man page would have undocumented placeholders or would be distributed to the community without first having been read by those responsible for its creation.

That being said, if I wanted Obamalamacare, I could compile it myself from the source code.

Posted by: Keith at October 6, 2009 6:53 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Like Global Warming the supposed goal has been redefined. In this case, from "insure everyone" to "affordable for everyone and no pre-existing condition limitations." (And all hospitals will smell like honey and roses from now on...)

But in the end, no, they're not destroying health care for any of these things. They're doing it because American health care must be destroyed because it makes all of the government systems of the world look so bad by comparison.

Posted by: johngalt at October 7, 2009 1:26 PM

Bentham vs. Hume

David Brooks, tut-tut, so conventional wisdom, I cannot find the time to link, dahling...

But today he has a great one

I’ve introduced you to my friends Mr. Bentham and Mr. Hume because they represent the choices we face on issue after issue. This country is about to have a big debate on the role of government. The polarizers on cable TV think it’s going to be a debate between socialism and free-market purism. But it’s really going to be a debate about how to promote innovation.

Hat-tip: Professor Mankiw, who calls it Brooks at his best.

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 1:56 PM | What do you think? [1]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

It's horse excrement. It's almost like reversing cause and effect: Brooks wants to dismiss the philosophical basis and focus on a mere subset of its consequences.

Promoting innovation is only a subset of freedom, and innovation is always best achieved by letting freedom work.

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

Let people be free, and everything good and optimal will result naturally.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at October 6, 2009 10:17 PM

Silly Ronnie's Revenge

Referencing Paul Krugman's astonishment that Ronald Reagan "was a fierce opponent of Medicare's creation, warning that it would destroy American freedom. (Honest.)" I would turn your attention to a WSJ Editorial today: The War on Specialists.

My friends continually tell me my fears are overblown and "nobody is talking about a government takeover." Umm, what do you call this then?

The chunks Team Obama took out of cardiology RVUs are especially drastic. The basic tools of heart specialists—echocardiograms (stress tests) and catheterizations—are slashed by 42% and 24%, respectively. Jack Lewin, who heads the American College of Cardiology, said in an interview that the crackdown will cause "a horrible disruption" that will force many community and independent practices to close their doors, lay off staff or make senior patients wait days or weeks for tests and services.

Cancer doctors get hit because the Administration believes specialists order too many MRIs and CT scans. Certain kinds of diagnostic imaging lose 24%.


These are Medicare changes right out of the Baucus bill. Senators will decide, and in the wisdom of the world's most deliberative body, Cancer and Heart Disease are clearly the best places to cut costs.

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 11:27 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Hey, if EPA is "wise" enough to discover that the gas which nourishes all plant life is a pollutant then why question the health care wisdom of Congress?

Do these folks have a PhD in Omnibenevolent Omniscience? I guess I chose the wrong subject in which to major.

Posted by: johngalt at October 6, 2009 1:34 PM

October 5, 2009

Quote of the Day

Moore recently told a reporter that "evil" capitalism "has done nothing for me." It was, apparently, some other economic system that made him fabulously wealthy and bought his Upper West Side penthouse. Go figure. So let's do our part and help Moore strike a blow against the mustache-twisting movie executives by liberating his intellectual property from capitalism (i.e. downloading his movie at PirateBay). -- Michael C. Moynihan
Posted by John Kranz at 7:50 PM | What do you think? [3]
But Lisa M thinks:

Or how about not watching the movie at all? There could be nothing better than to have this faux documentarian be delivered into the bowels of obscurity by the very free market he denigrates.

Perhaps that is already happening:
http://newsbusters.org/blogs/noel-sheppard/2009/10/04/michael-moores-capitalism-bust-box-office

Posted by: Lisa M at October 6, 2009 7:47 AM
But jk thinks:

Yup, that was my protest plan all along. I am going to not watch it for 100 consecutive days. It will be tough, but the pilgrim's path is never easy...

Posted by: jk at October 6, 2009 10:47 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

What a shame, at this rate the film won't even make enough to cover Moore's personal food bill during shooting!

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at October 6, 2009 10:49 AM

Some Good News

Irwin Stelzer writing in the Times of London:

A funny thing happened on the way to the collapse of market capitalism in the face of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. It didn't. Indeed, in Germany voters relieved Chancellor Angela Merkel of the necessity of cohabiting with a left-wing party, allowing her to form a coalition with a party favouring lower taxes and free markets. And in Pittsburgh leaders representing more than 90% of the world's GDP convened to figure out how to make markets work better, rather than to hoist the red flag. The workers are to be relieved, not of their chains, but of credit-card terms that are excessively onerous, and helped to retain their private property—their homes.

All of this is contrary to expectations. The communist spectre that Karl Marx confidently predicted would be haunting Europe is instead haunting Europe's left-wing parties, with even Vladimir Putin seeking to attract investment by re-privatising the firms he snatched. Which raises an interesting question: why haven't the economic turmoil and rising unemployment led workers to the barricades, instead of to their bankers to renegotiate their mortgages?

It might be because Spain's leftish government has proved less able to cope with economic collapse than countries with more centrist governments. Or because Britain, with a leftish government, is now the sick man of Europe, its financial sector in intensive care, its recovery likely to be the slowest in Europe, its prime credit rating threatened. Or it might be because left-wing trade unions, greedily demanding their public-sector members be exempted from the pain they want others to share, have lost their credibility and ability to lead a leftward lurch.

All of those factors contribute to the unexpected strength of the right in a world in which a record number of families are being tossed out of their homes, and jobs have been disappearing by the million.


This is the WSJ's cheap knockoff of the ThreeSources Quote of the Day, Notable & Quotable

Posted by John Kranz at 5:06 PM | What do you think? [1]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

"how to make markets work better, rather than to hoist the red flag."

Markets work better when they are left alone by government. The G20's efforts are market manipulation.

"The workers are to be relieved, not of their chains, but of credit-card terms that are excessively onerous,"

No one forced them into the credit card loans. That's what they are. For every credit card debtor who is given a "break" because government forced it, the credit card lenders are penalized for lending out the money.

So who in his right mind is surprised that rates and fees are going up?

"and helped to retain their private property—their homes."

The homes are not theirs if they cannot keep up with payments. Foreclosure is a legitimate claim when someone is not paying back your property (i.e. the money you lent) according to terms.

It's socialism in a less obvious form, something more palatable to the masses. Silent control of markets and participants, but not overt ownership of anything.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at October 5, 2009 11:14 PM

Medicare and Freedom

I used to worry that other ABC News staffers would poison poor John Stossel's cocoa. He is safely ensconced in the vast-right-wing protectorate of FOXNews now.

So my concern turns to Professor Mankiw. Read his home run of a blog post on Medicare and Freedom:

Today, over at the NY Times, Paul Krugman writes:
the modern G.O.P. considers itself the party of Ronald Reagan -- and Reagan was a fierce opponent of Medicare's creation, warning that it would destroy American freedom. (Honest.)
Pretty silly of old Ronald, wasn't it?

Awesome on stilts with platform soles. But how long will the leading lights of Hahvaad let him live?

But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I am still being compelled, under the threat of fines and imprisonment (not to mention that my employer would be entirely shut down for "conspiracy") to pay Medicare premiums now. The hope is that when I retire, at minimum over three decades from now, I'll get at least a few cents on the dollar for what I've put in.

Silly me for not wanting to participate in a Ponzi scheme that makes musical chairs look equitable. Silly me for thinking that "freedom" means keeping what I earn and spending it on what I think is best for me.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at October 5, 2009 11:40 AM
But jk thinks:

Krugman wouldn't know freedom if it bit him in the ass. (See, I can play on the Beck/O'Reilly field as well as Friedman/Buckley.)

Seriously, he cannot opine on freedom because he does not understand it. Today, Medicare takes freedom from you, me, Perry, and the three AMA doctors Mankiw links to. In the future it is positioned to take all economic freedom and property rights from everyone as it cannot be funded and is too popular to cut.

Silly old Ronald, indeed.

Posted by: jk at October 5, 2009 11:55 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Speaking of Reagan and socialized medicine:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BnLa1BvtaxM

Posted by: johngalt at October 5, 2009 1:41 PM

Quote of the Month?

This quote from Antonin Scalia is from October 1, so it doesn't qualify as QOTD. However, it could qualify for QOTW, QOTM or maybe QOTY. According to Scalia, we are devoting too many of our brightest minds to lawyering.

I mean there’d be a, you know, a defense or public defender from Podunk, you know, and this woman is really brilliant, you know. Why isn’t she out inventing the automobile or, you know, doing something productive for this society?

I mean lawyers, after all, don’t produce anything. They enable other people to produce and to go on with their lives efficiently and in an atmosphere of freedom. That’s important, but it doesn’t put food on the table and there have to be other people who are doing that. And I worry that we are devoting too many of our very best minds to this enterprise.


SCOTUS Posted by Boulder Refugee at 11:16 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

He's right. Before you know it there will be such a surplus of lawyers that they'll start inventing specious things to sue and defend people over. Oh, wait a minute...

Posted by: johngalt at October 5, 2009 1:32 PM

October 3, 2009

And they said "No?"

Edward Luce, FT:

“Nearly one year ago, on a clear November night, people from every corner of the world gathered in the city of Chicago . . . to watch the results of the US presidential election,” Mr Obama told the Olympic committee. “Their interest wasn’t about me as an individual . . . Rather, it was rooted in the belief that America’s experiment in democracy still speaks to a set of universal aspirations and ideals . . . And so I urge you to choose Chicago!”

The President is obviously a bright dude, but he could learn a little from watching a few Billy Mays commercials.

UPDATE: I am enjoying this story waaay too much. Dana Loesch finds that it's Bush's fault:

Senator Rowland Burris of Illinois, the Senator who was appointed to fill President Barack Obama’s vacant Senate seat, blames George Bush for Chicago not getting the Olympics in 2016. Burris stated in an interview, shortly after the announcement, that the image of the U. S. has been so tarnished in the last 8 years that, even Barack Obama making an unprecedented pitch for the games could not overcome the hatred the world has for us as a result of George Bush.

UPDATE II: Quote of the Day: Meanwhile, Jim Treacher emails [Instapundit]: “Obama just took the gold in the Men’s Political-Capital Toss.”

Posted by John Kranz at 11:19 AM | What do you think? [0]

October 2, 2009

Hey! Brain Dead Conservatives!

I laugh to keep from crying. One post for me today and it is pretty serious.

Steven Hayward, superstar of the Weekly Standard, takes to the WaPo today with Is Conservatism Brain Dead? It's a serious and important column. I'd ask every ThreeSourcer to read it in full.

I saw the title and the WaPo, and I figured some old Bush speechwriter had gotten loose or that some elitist snob was going to lecture me on liking Governor Palin, or something.

But Hayward is serious and impeccably credentialed. And he hits very close to home. The populists speak for the party and the movement. Is there an intellectual left ("remaining" would be a better word)? I dropped cable before Glenn Beck, so I cannot comment. But my friends on the left assume I am defined by Hannity and Limbaugh and Malkin and Coulter.

William Kristol has the chops, but he adheres to that greatness conservatism of Bush and McCain. Buckley had a far more libertarian bent (Pot leaves on the cover of National Review -- like the damn Utne Reader or something!)

I'm glad that Malkin and Beck (and Palin) are selling books, and I appreciate Beck's bringing the Van Jones and ACORN contretempses to a wider audience. But I have allowed all my magazine subscriptions to expire. Party because of Nicholas Nassim Taleb's admonition to read more books, partly because my nieces and nephews are too old to sell subscriptions (Uncle John was pure gold in the day). But partly because none of them really speak to me any more and none speak for me. I guess the WSJ Ed Page, and now IBD Ed Page.

But I am intellectually homeless.

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 6:58 PM | What do you think? [10]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

I have difficulty with the term "progressive" because they are anything but progressive. Regressive is more like it, as they want to return to an imperial governmental system run by themselves. I will refer to them as the Left.

I must also take umbrage at the "thinker" label. I have found this characterization to be deeply offensive ever since the days of Bill Clinton when his ilk would say, "Thinking people agree..." as though anyone with a different opinion could not possibly have a brain. I hear the comment from both the left and right, so it is an equal opportunity offender. I take no offense in this case, because I know it was not intended. However, different thinkers can arrive at different conclusions and still be intelligent. When we denigrate our opponents intellect for their opinions, we are on the way to losing the argument. Happens to the Left all the time.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at October 5, 2009 10:50 AM
But jk thinks:

One must take care to not devolve into ad hominem arguments, and I'll confess I skirt the line.

But is there not a distinct line between Milton Friedman and William F Buckley Jr. on one side and Bill O'Reilly and Ann Coulter on the other?

Coulter is sharp as a tack, I do not impugn her intelligence. Her book on the Clintons is a masterpiece. But she chooses a more bombastic persona. As a free market guy, I applaud her -- as Hayward says, she'll sell a lot more books.

Yet I remain proud to stand in the intellectual tradition of Friedman and I feel the need to frequently distance myself from Coulter.

Posted by: jk at October 5, 2009 11:39 AM
But jk thinks:

RE: "Progressive." I think it is a good term. Firstly, a little mutual forbearance, trading them for term they stole we must offer something that it not pejorative. Secondly, they support progressive taxation and anti-conservative experimentation with the social order (immanentizing the eschaton, while we're talking Buckley).

It's a proud tradition, with TR, FDR, The New Republic &c. Not my heroes but a proud tradition for them. And we get "liberal" back -- Ludwig von Mises would approve.

Posted by: jk at October 5, 2009 11:47 AM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

One of the problems is that the "conservative" label gets attached inappropriately. O'Reilly, Bush, McCain, and many in the Republican leadership are not conservative. Giving them the lable only confuses the populace as to what Conservatism is.

I personally no longer listen to Coulter because some comments are so bombastic as to be idiotic. I also have a tough time with Hannity, mainly because he repeats himself verbatim day after day after day. He's still repeating stuff about Bill Ayers. I still respect Rush after all of these years. Yes, he sometimes says something over the line, but so do I. His daily thoughts, however, tend to be originally and often insightful.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at October 5, 2009 12:36 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Interesting comments all. I got so much from reading them I skipped the article (time constraints) and have some feedback of my own.

Lisa- The Progressive Left does have an intellectual foundation. It is called altruism. Without altruism they would be powerless.

TG- You say that we "conservatives" have failed to have a clear idea of what we stand for and to articulate this to our fellow citizens. I contend that the conservative ideas that withstand scrutiny come under the headings of "rational self-interest" and "voluntary charity."

When conservatives start using the machinery of government to force their values on others they become statists just like the Progressives. When they defend the individual right to keep what you earn and give away what you want they gain popularity ... even with the licensed cosmetologist who cut my hair this morning!

Posted by: johngalt at October 5, 2009 1:30 PM
But Lisa M thinks:

jg—I agree with you that the intellectual foundation of liberalism, or “progressivism” as they like to call themselves now is nothing without altruism. But that entire concept depends primarily on an emotional response from the true believers---some are “progressives” because they truly want to help others, but many embrace “progressivism” purely because it makes them feel good about themselves. If one takes altruism to its logical conclusion, one can easily see that it is unsustainable at best, bigoted at worst. Unsustainable in that the more people you make dependent upon the good will of the government, the less people there are to pay the taxes to sustain them. Bigoted because at a certain level, one has to believe that there are some people that are simply incapable of rising above their circumstances, a belief which badly prejudges those about whom those beliefs are held.

Proponents of this kind of progressivism often resort to the most intellectually lazy way to counter any free market arguments: conservatives are insensitive to the plight of the poor, minorities, children, etc. To be a true conservative or libertarian you must see the larger picture and calculate the ramifications of bad altruistic policy without letting the emotional arguments get in the way.

Finally, I offer two gems from Jonah Goldberg—first his “Sherpa Conservativism” another unintended rebuttal to Hayward also in this issue of NR (which I happened upon yesterday)
http://nrd.nationalreview.com/article/?q=MjU3ZWRlYWUyNzA5NmQ0OWM0NDZkYzU0N2JmMmFiZmQ=

And through him, this quote from C.S. Lewis about progressivism:
“We all want progress, but if you're on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive. “

Posted by: Lisa M at October 6, 2009 7:44 AM

October 1, 2009

That Speech Thingy Is Soooo Rude!

Facebook freind says "[Friend's Name Here] wonders why some people have to be so rude..."

Third commenter says:

I agree. Don't know what your complaint is but I saw an impeach obama sticker today and totally wanted to take a baseball bat to the guys truck! Not to fuel your fire. :)

Friend replies:
Infuriating, isn't it? To be stuck with Bush and all of his truly heinous crimes for 8 years and now hear this?!? Boggles the mind...

Then admits it was not about politics at all but a friend of friend's disapprobation.

Laugh, cry, or grab the baseball bat?

But johngalt thinks:

Barack Obama deserves EVERYONE'S respect because he is the President of the United States and was chosen by the voters, but Chimpmeister Bush could be dissed because he was the reincarnation of Hitler. Riiiiight.

And let's not even talk about the rudeness of government coercion and theft.

What would happen if conservatives DID start using the tactic of the left: violence?

Posted by: johngalt at October 2, 2009 4:17 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Nancy Pelosi would cry.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at October 5, 2009 3:49 PM

No Grownups

James Pethokoukis links to Ed Yardeni:

There is no one in the Obama administration like Robert Rubin, who had the ear of President Clinton. Rubin convinced Clinton that the Bond Vigilantes would riot if he pursued policies that would lead to a structural federal deficit, i.e., one that would widen despite a growing economy. So far, the Bond Vigilantes haven’t gone on a rampage despite projections of $10tn in deficits over the next 10 years. So it is no wonder that Obama’s political advisors are acting as though they’ve been handed a blank check by the bond market. However, the longer they ignore the economic advisors, the greater is the likelihood that the blank check will bounce.

Is Mister Goolsbee under the bus? I think he's a grownup, but I haven't seen him in a while.

"Bond Vigilantes," as spontaneous order phenomena, will not provide a lot of warning. Does anybody think the Obama administration has a plan B?

UPDATE: Goolsbee under the bus? Nope, he's on the road doing standup.

But johngalt thinks:

Their plan B is we all learn to speak Chinese.

Posted by: johngalt at October 1, 2009 1:36 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

China, even if its government wanted to lend us as much as it needed, still doesn't have enough money to lend us. China, Japan, South Korea, the UK, the entire rest of the world, couldn't come up with the money that our federal government is planning to borrow.

In the middle of a global recession, how can our federal government borrow nearly $2 trillion in just one fiscal year? (When the bailout talk started a year ago, it was simple for me to add up the numbers and predict that $2 trillion number. How's my track record?) Easy: just have the Federal Reserve print it. The news explains that the Fed is "injecting liquidity," but that's just a cover story.

On a more sinister note, the Fed is buying ever-increasing amounts of short-term Treasury securities. So it's not only monetizing the debt, but setting us up for a ballooning interest rate in a couple of years when we need to turn over that debt.

Welcome to Zimbabwe.

P.S. Rubin is a fool. He was the main one who popularized this liberal concept of fiscal discipline: zero deficits with all the tax hikes necessary to achieve it. And what did he do for a decade? Board of directors at Citigroup, where he made $115 million helping push it toward higher risk strategies. So pardon me if I take anything he says and throw it right into the rubbish bin where it belongs.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at October 1, 2009 3:00 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

"it needed"

That should be "we needed."

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at October 1, 2009 3:02 PM

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