May 30, 2010

New Reading of Atlas Shrugged

I mentioned in a recent comment that I'm re-reading Atlas Shrugged, this time in audio book form, to enjoy some of the references that just couldn't have any meaning to me until I'd first, read the book! The version I received for Christmas from my father-in-law was read by Christopher Hurt. Amazon lists used copies for about 80 bucks. But a new (2008) reading by Scott Brick is much less monotonic, at least in this sample from the book's introduction. (Said sample fades out halfway through my oft-used "Reason is not automatic" quote.) The Scott Brick reading is listed for about $38 - new. [If you consider buying it be advised that the CD audio version is a 50 disc set, while the MP3 version is 4 discs.] Either way, the ability to listen to this masterpiece while commuting is what I call "progress."

UPDATE: My sister has enlightened me to the existence of, where the Scott Brick version may be downloaded in one of 4 quality levels for 21 bucks. Mega-progress!

Philosophy Posted by JohnGalt at 7:01 PM | What do you think? [0]

May 29, 2010


Interesting footage of the Nashville flood, interspersed with quotes about the lack of media coverage and crime.

Hat-tip my (biological) brother via email. The guy who sent it to him said "it is not about 'halves' and 'have-nots', it is about 'wills' and 'will-nots.'"

But johngalt thinks:

But we hear about every upper midwest flood like it's the end of days. They handle the disaster themselves as well. I 'spect it has more to do with what else is in the news cycle than with ideological bias.

Posted by: johngalt at May 30, 2010 11:18 AM

Read and Weep!

George Will introduces us to a Wisconsin GOP Senate Candidate, who might be of interest to ThreeSourcers:

Before what he calls "the jaw- dropping" events of the last 19 months -- TARP, the stimulus, Government Motors, the mistreatment of Chrysler's creditors, ObamaCare, etc. -- the idea of running for office never crossed Ron Johnson's mind.

He was, however, dry tinder -- he calls Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged" his "foundational book" -- and now is ablaze, in an understated, upper-Midwestern way. This 55-year-old manufacturer of plastic products from Oshkosh is what the Tea Party looks like.
He gets much of his meat from The Wall Street Journal's opinion pages

And a pro-life Lutheran to boot! Before you weep, jg, read that he wishes "Atlas Shrugged" were longer.

I'm going to claim this as another huge benefit of the TEA Parties. It has been said that "you guys are just yelling and waving signs" but these people and ideas have infiltrated GOP apparatuses

I read Peter Robinson's "It's My Party" a few years ago. He documents the difficulty of recruiting Republican Candidates. He says every Unitarian Minister and school board boss wants to be a Democratic Congressman or Senator, but the good GOP Candidates, like Johnson, can make ten times the money with one-tenth the b******t (sorry, I've been watching Penn & Teller...) in the private sector.

But the times, they are a changin' Hat-tip: Insty

112th Congress Posted by John Kranz at 10:27 AM | What do you think? [6]
But johngalt thinks:

Excellent story on encouraging news. Thanks to JK and George Will for bringing it to us. I don't think JK mentioned that Ron Johnson is likely to run against Russ Feingold. Defeating him would be a huge improvement for economic freedom. ("The most basic right," Johnson says, "is the right to keep your property.") But what does he propose to challenge on first? "I would like to ask Russ, 'Have you ever witnessed a partial-birth abortion?' "

Will says Johnson will "highlight" Feingold's opposition to late-term abortion. I hope that won't be his principal strategy. Lines have been drawn on that issue for ages and aren't likely to put someone other than Feingold back in the office.

Personally, I have no problem with Johnson being pro-life. You may not think so, but I too am pro-life; but I am also anti-coercion, as Johnson certainly is. That and his anti-redistributionist theme should headline his campaign.

I also felt that Atlas Shrugged should have been longer but I have a solution to the problem: Read it again. I'm listening to the audio version now and noticing details that were way over my head on the first pass.

Posted by: johngalt at May 30, 2010 11:48 AM
But jk thinks:

Thanks. I share your concerns. I hope NO Tea Party candidates will highlight anything but limited government. I fear that abortion and immigration might derail all the progress made.

Posted by: jk at May 30, 2010 1:12 PM
But johngalt thinks:

This blogger at Mother Jones certainly agrees with you on immigration. Polls do show that slowing the influx is highly popular but many also show a slight majority favoring amnesty. I'm not saying amnesty is right, just that immigration is a complex issue electorally. Imagine the irony if McCain defeats Hayworth be being more "retrogressive" on illegals but loses the general to a Democrat in the end.

Posted by: johngalt at May 30, 2010 6:08 PM
But jk thinks:

Yeah, I should probably get a job writing about you retrogressives and Obamahaters at Mother Jones.

We might disagree on who's right (me) but agree on the damage it does to the GOP. Unlike my ideological soulmates at MoJones, I think the problem is the base as much if not more than Hispanics. I can't support JD Hayworth, you can't support McCain. Who'll be surprised if a Democrat gets Barry Goldwa -- I mean the people's seat?

Posted by: jk at May 31, 2010 10:30 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Hmmm. I tried to write that last comment neutrally and didn't intend any insulting linkage, though I did note the irony.

Posted by: johngalt at May 31, 2010 12:23 PM
But jk thinks:

...and you did a great job. It is just hard to qualify "This blogger at Mother Jones certainly agrees with you..."

No harm, no foul.

Posted by: jk at May 31, 2010 1:00 PM

May 28, 2010

A Stirring Defense of the MMS!

From my Buffy Sire, Jonathan V. Last:

After all, only two MMS employees were doing drugs and it’s not like they were pounding crack or acid. Just a little coke and meth. And in any case, they both pinky-swear that they never did drugs while they were actually on the job. As for the work porn, the investigation period covered four years, during which there were only 314 instances of porny emails and videos found on the computers of 13 employees. And the IG refuses to divulge any of the relevant details: Are we talking Cinemax Presents: Naughty Beach House 11—or Shemale Scheiss Überrashung?

King Barack the Verbose

On the heels of Charles Krauthammer's King Canute reference, [third comment] Mark Steyn fills us in on the background.

In the age of kings, we were taught that kings were human, with human failings. Now, in the age of citizen-presidents, we are taught that government has unlimited powers over "heaven, earth and sea." Unlike Canute and Alfred, the vanity of Big Government knows no bounds.

You won't be sorry if you read it all. He even takes a whack at the Euro.

Was that the appearance of intention or the intention of appearance?

AP - Intent on showing firm command of the deepening Gulf Coast crisis, President Barack Obama flew to Louisiana Friday and personally inspected a beach jeopardized by America's largest-ever oil spill

The Tingle is Gone

When you've lost Chris Matthews, you've lost ...

No I wrote a very clever finish to that sentence featuring the words "spleen" and "cesspool." But I deleted it for a modicum of seriousness. Matthews has gone over the port side, but I have read several of his books and used to watch his show and he truly loves this nation. His suggestion that this is "more important than the Presidency" is significant.

UPDATE: Party like it's 1999! jk links Chris Matthews and Peggy Noonan! Our Margaret is a tad overwrought, but the headline and lead catch a mood that I think will harm this President.

He Was Supposed to Be Competent

I don't see how the president's position and popularity can survive the oil spill. This is his third political disaster in his first 18 months in office. And they were all, as they say, unforced errors, meaning they were shaped by the president's political judgment and instincts.

UPDATE II: But Kim Strassel still trumps Our Margaret. Wise words:

As for conservatives who think there is black gold in politicizing this (Mrs. Palin), think again. Right now the story line is President Obama versus the Oil Spill, and that hurts him. Those hurling accusations threaten to turn it into President Obama versus the GOP, a fight the White House would prefer. Beltway politicking during a crisis just annoys the public.

But johngalt thinks:

"Never stand between your opponent and his political crisis."

Posted by: johngalt at May 28, 2010 2:32 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Just watched the vid. Matthews said this is bigger than A presidency, not THE presidency. That makes it personal. Then he referred to Obama as "this president." I haven't heard him say that since 1/20/09.

While Matthews seems to be putting some space between him and his former tittilator, Charlie Crist seems as enamored as ever. What the heck is he doing at the side of Obama during his press conference in Grand Isle, Louisiana today? What state is he the governor of anyway?

Posted by: johngalt at May 28, 2010 3:11 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Nomination for quote of the day:

"The federal government can fight wars, conduct a census and hand out billions in earmarks, but it has not a clue how to cap a one-mile-deep, out-of-control oil well."

Charles Krauthammer

Runner-up from the same article:

"Well, when you anoint yourself King Canute, you mustn't be surprised when your subjects expect you to command the tides."

Posted by: johngalt at May 28, 2010 3:14 PM

Thugs. People are Starting to Notice.

Governor Christie for God!!

Insty links to a post that shows that a teacher who complained in a town hall meeting makes more than $100,000 (86K + benefits). Teachers are throwing away a few hundred years of goodwill as they choose the part of union thug over

In an astonishing fall from grace that has taken only months, teachers have gone from respected and beloved members of the community to some of the most reviled. In a blink, they have trashed years of good will.

Once the patient darlings who nurtured our kids, teachers now look like insensitive, out-of-touch, can’t-think-for-themselves union robots who, when forced to face economic realities, clung to an insulting sense of entitlement, heartlessly sacrificed the jobs of colleagues, called the governor naughty names and used students as political pawns.

All while blaming everyone else.

At Saturday’s rally in Trenton, teachers wondered when the Earth started spinning in the other direction.

A Facebook friend highlighted several grammatical errors and misspellings in his son's first grade report card. As said son was being chided for, you got it, grammar and spelling. Another satisfied customer!

Education Posted by John Kranz at 10:14 AM | What do you think? [0]

May 27, 2010

On Rand Paul

Having access to ThreeSources, I've become deeply disturbed at the Rand Paul imbroglio.

We allow ourselves to discuss about anything. I may occasionally step over the line by say cussing out a beloved spiritual leader -- but the table is open around here. And (as the DC cops are learning) if you don't step over the line once or twice, you lose sight of where the line is.

David Harsanyi has a great piece in Reason about what childish nonsense this is in a time when we have real problems.

If you were a convention delegate in 1778, would you have voted to ratify the Constitution of the United States?

If the answer is yes—and you don't hate America, do you?!—it's only fair we conclude that you support restricting voting rights to male landowners exclusively. Surely, from your position, we can also deduce that you support slavery.

Now, if the answer is nay on ratification, we will take this to mean that you oppose a document that provided the infrastructure for more long-term liberty and prosperity—for all races—than any other in history.

Creating racists is really no problem at all.

The truth about Rand Paul is that the other side has won before the players take the field.

Politicians have succeeded in whittling down the small square of what is permitted to talk about.

Raise the retiring age for Social Security? You can't talk about that! Privatization? Market Solutions? They're too far out of the mainstream for an electable candidate to mention.

And how's that working? We have 536 elected officials who all fit into that teeny little box. None can think that perhaps private companies should be allowed to do very vile things and face market instead of Federal resistance. This country's being run by the folks who fit into that little box. And let me answer my own rhetorical; question -- it ain't working at all.

I'm a Goldwaterite and sympathetic to the pre-refuted Rand Paul position, as is John Stossel.. Likewise, I have heard many thoughtful comments that say he is (was) wrong.

Fine and good. But, Jupiter Savage, why can we not discuss it? All a TV pundit or opponent has to do is to solemnly intone "he doesn't even support the Civil Rights Act" and sadly roll his eyes.

We get the government we deserve, and if we're going to continue staying within the ever shrinking box, we're going to get the same results.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 3:40 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

Politicians constrain themselves within the box. Some have no capacity to leave it, but those who do, don't. Why?

Posted by: johngalt at May 28, 2010 2:35 PM
But jk thinks:

You cannot leave the box and get elected. You're too extreme.

Posted by: jk at May 28, 2010 3:03 PM

Money Make the World Go Round

In a recent post we examined popular disapproval of a well-known Ayn Rand quote: "So long as men live together on earth and need means to deal with one another--their only substitute, if they abandon money, is the muzzle of a gun."

But money is often confused in popular culture with the things that it can purchase and the peaceful and sustainable methods for creating money are far from understood. Exhibit A - G Unit's 'Money Make the World Go Round.' Here's the chorus:

Money make the world go round, you better get it; Money cause hatred, as soon as you get it; Money makes whores, money cause wars; Money make the world go round, so get yours.

Little wonder, then, that money is so reviled. Now, here is the artist's more introspective take on the subject [@ 2:35]:

I love that money, I need that money; It gives me shelter, it's there when I'm hungry; It feeds my kids, it fills my fridge; It pays my bills and the mortgage on the crib.

It keeps me icy, it makes ho's like me;
It gets me seats at The Garden next to Spike Lee;
It made me rich, It made me change;
I seen a lot of places, I bought a lot of things.

You got me hatin' it, you got me drama;
It paid for the lawyers, it paid for the llamas; (?)
You make niggas goners, you rule on the corners;
When somebody die you gotta pay the mourners, mourners, mourners...

None of this implies we'd be better off without money, does it? Just without some of the ways that we get money. Hating money for the crimes committed to acquire it is like hating electricity because of the electric chair.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:05 PM | What do you think? [2]
But jk thinks:

Hoo n***a, you made it to 2:35?

I clicked it off at 1:48. It was either that or put a cap in my own ass!

Posted by: jk at May 27, 2010 8:18 PM
But johngalt thinks:

As I listened I remember thinking... a great deal about the thought process of urban youth can probably be gleaned from a thorough review of rap lyrics. I considered it essential to at least listen to one song from end to end.

Posted by: johngalt at May 28, 2010 2:38 PM

My Friends Will Cheer!

Taxprof provides a tabular look at ten sample families, comparing their tax bill, in $$ and as percentage of income, under Bush tax policy (before expiration of the 2003 tax cuts), Obama policy (including expiration) and what they'd have been had pre-Bush policies continued.

It is interesting and informative. But it strikes me that President Obama could make a commercial out of it. Poor people get more money back, the rich pay more! It's Hope and Change, Baby!

True, it will not convince ThreeSourcers, but they have probably written off most of our votes in 2012.

I fear for the republic. Hat-tip: Instapundit

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 12:31 PM | What do you think? [0]

May 26, 2010


A toast to Brother AC: Apple tops Microsoft in Market Capitalization. WSJ:

Apple — for now — is the new king. At the close of trading, a small decline in Apple shares combined with a 4% drop in Microsoft’s stock to leave Apple’s market value ahead — at nearly $223 billion compared with about $219 billion for Microsoft.

But johngalt thinks:

The influence of the PC/Mac commercials' stereotype continues to damage the Redmond dweebs. And they need to stop trying to copy Apple and start coming up with their own innovations. Me? I'm not buying any of it. Hell, I don't even have a text plan on my phone!

Posted by: johngalt at May 27, 2010 11:39 AM

Jobs Americans Cannot Handle

I suspect my ThreeSources brothers and sisters are somehow culpable. This is the world you risk creating.

The efficient, swarthy, Spanish speaking crew that normally mows our lawns (don't know their status, don't care) was absent today. Some blond-haired college-age youths took their stead.

The cute young ponytailed lady blew the sidewalks clean 20 minutes ago. Now the trimmer comes through.


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

Gosh, can't you give them a few weeks to learn? It should be viewed with relief that young pale-persons can still be found willing to put down their lattes and break a sweat.

Posted by: johngalt at May 27, 2010 11:27 AM
But jk thinks:

Mmmmmkay. Sweeping up before making the mess seems rather uneducable to me. Nor did they recognize the error and reblow.

Comparative advantage my friend. Except for the desire to see them walk ten miles to school in the snow uphill both ways like we did, I'd rather they sipped their lattes and studied.

Posted by: jk at May 27, 2010 12:29 PM
But johngalt thinks:

The real test will come when the customer complains, the boss chews them out, and they have to do the job better or quit. Wagers anyone?

Posted by: johngalt at May 27, 2010 2:47 PM
But jk thinks:

I don't want y'all up late worrying about me and grass clippings on my sidewalk. They actually did send a person out to blow away the clippings that survived the hailstorm.

Chastened and wiser? We'll see.

Posted by: jk at May 28, 2010 10:59 AM


PowerLine and ThreeSources are clearly not going to make a story out of SEIU thuggery. The media have decided that there's "nothing to see here."

PowerLine suggests you look at the picture one more time:

But I got a kick out of the ad accompanying the story. Gay Thug Dating at The ad says Join 100% FREE. My dad used to say free is the magic word in advertising. And yet, I'm thinking I'll pass...

Posted by John Kranz at 2:43 PM | What do you think? [1]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I've been meaning to comment on that, but my blood needs to simmer down.

All the languages in the world put together don't have enough vulgarities to describe those thugs.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at May 27, 2010 12:29 PM

Got it? Correct.

Hat-tip: Professor Mankiw

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 2:18 PM | What do you think? [0]

Quote of the Day

"The more [President Obama] talked, the more he got upset," Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) said. "He needs to take a valium before he comes in and talks to Republicans and just calm down, and don’t take anything so seriously. If you disagree with someone, it doesn’t mean you’re attacking their motives -- and he takes it that way and tends then to lecture and then gets upset." -- Politico
But johngalt thinks:

On yesterday's 'Special Report' program Charles Krauthammer offered to write the Prez a scrip for some [valium.]

Posted by: johngalt at May 26, 2010 3:08 PM

May 25, 2010

Fourth Strike for Jane Norton

Don Johnson at People's Press Collective writes that Tom Wiens decision to withdraw from the CO race for US Senate and endorse Ken Buck may be seen as a "third strike" against Norton.

On Saturday, Buck gained a lot of publicity and momentum at the GOP state assembly. Satuday night, Sarah Palin failed to endorse Norton as widely expected ... And today, Wiens drops out, forcing Norton to figure out how to stop Buck.

But he didn't mention Jane's fourth strike, namely that her chief campaign argument has now been dismantled by the latest PPP poll. Jane has been claiming that she is the best, or only, candidate to beat Michael Bennet in the general election. Trouble is, that's no longer the case. Either Bennet or Romanoff now lead either Norton or Buck by a few percentage points. (Summary courtesy of's May 19 page)

Colorado Senate - Buck vs. Bennet PPP (D) Bennet 45, Buck 39 -> Bennet +6

Colorado Senate - Norton vs. Bennet PPP (D) Norton 41, Bennet 44 -> Bennet +3

Colorado Senate - Norton vs. Romanoff PPP (D) Norton 41, Romanoff 43 -> Romanoff +2

Colorado Senate - Buck vs. Romanoff PPP (D) Buck 38, Romanoff 41 -> Romanoff +3

A look at the internals shows that Norton's personal favorability has been slipping, from 25/35 to 20/32 (favorable/unfavorable) but so has Buck's, from 21/17 to 19/24, and Romanoff's, from 45/15 to 31/26 and Bennet's, from 57/21 to 34/44. The biggest differences appear to be in the undecideds:

Bennet - 22%
Romanoff - 44%
Norton - 48%
Buck - 58%

As the only candidate with less than 50% name recognition (nearly 6 in 10 have no opinion of him!) Buck seems to have the greatest ability to make a move past the others (or, of course, fall further behind.) And then there's the factor of PPP being a Democrat polling firm.

But jk thinks:

Strike Four suggests a historical anecdote: I was once jg's guest at a football game that was rather famous for being settled with a TD scored on fifth down.

RE: Norton v Buck, I still can't get into this one. I don't see one position where Buck is clearly favorable. He'll likely get my vote in a "throw the bums out" message, but I have yet to hear a compelling differentiation.

Posted by: jk at May 25, 2010 3:58 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Whose guest? I recall building a brick wall on my old Boulder house during that game. And ... it was played in Columbia.

Posted by: johngalt at May 25, 2010 7:37 PM
But jk thinks:

No, it was at Folsom Field. I rode my bike from Lafayette to your old house near campus. I broke my chain on the way back.

My recollection is that we did not notice. We cheered the Buffs late victory and read about the 5th down the next day.

It's seared into my memory, though I do not still have the hat. Was there a less famous CU fifth-down game? I fear another round of drug-legalization jokes will ensue.

Posted by: jk at May 26, 2010 9:53 AM
But jk thinks:

...and if that doesn't work, I'll do what I usually do when caught in hopeless prevarication and fantasy and say "I was being allegorical."

Posted by: jk at May 26, 2010 1:31 PM
But johngalt thinks:

For your compelling differentiation I will generalize and say you should view a prospective Senator Jane Norton as a solid vote in the McCain Caucus. To whatever extent Senator Ken Buck tells the Arizona progressive, "No sir, I will vote my constituency instead" I say it's a good thing.

Posted by: johngalt at May 26, 2010 3:11 PM

Fighting the Good Fight

I guess my once-a-month Facebook political fight for May has been chosen. My perhaps favorite Ayn Rand quote came up on the Ayn Rand page.

"So long as men live together on earth and need means to deal with one another--their only substitute, if they abandon money, is the muzzle of a gun."

I passed it along and mentioned it as a favorite. An unusual confederacy of friends chose to register disapproval.

I think it is funny because I find it one of the least controversial things she ever said. I suggested that the same point was made pretty effectively in Penn & Teller's B******t "World Peace" episode (Season Six, Ep 8). I've got one mad-lefty who is offended by money in all forms, but my truther friend, a good friend of this blog, and even a drummer friend who never comments on politics have all come out against. Maybe it's the way I tell it.

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 1:42 PM | What do you think? [12]
But johngalt thinks:

Rand and Bastiat are both more understandable than are you and our friend. Yours is meaningful if not memorable. Our friends, however, is open ended. "OK," I'll ask, "such as?"

And if he says "barter" my reply is that money is an abstraction that facilitates bartered trade.

Posted by: johngalt at May 26, 2010 3:17 PM
But jk thinks:

I'm not sure which you are calling mine. Both the indented quotes belong to our friend. I would let it slide but I was interested in your "grading" mine. Perfesser, I suggested that:

This quote to me is about a final result: two and only two temporal endpoints. Colonies and communes are created for many reasons, probably few economic. But, over time, those people and communities that successfully develop trade relations will have a shot at long term peace. You cite the empirical proof that absent a trade relationship interpersonal and communal relationships will likely degrade to violence, internal or external.

I'll not convince my two-lettered friend that money is not evil but I am a little disturbed that a few moderately friendly folks don't get it.

Posted by: jk at May 26, 2010 3:54 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I don't follow your closing sentence. Do you mean Can you cite any empirical proof that, absent a trade relationship, interpersonal and communal relationships won't degrade to violence...?

Posted by: johngalt at May 27, 2010 11:33 AM
But jk thinks:

I looked for way to edit that. It references a previous item in the thread, admitting that Soviet, Chinese and Cambodian experiments did not completely work out favorably.

The Rand quote has been characterized as "Trade or Die!" Which is memorable, but I was trying to express the temporal relationship. You can have a happy hippie commune for a few years (maybe) but over time, things will go Adam Smithian or Thomas Hobbsion.

Posted by: jk at May 27, 2010 11:45 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Don Boudreaux at Cafe Hayek once asked if anyone knew the original source, because it's been widely attributed to Bastiat without proof of source.

Someone linked to this, which shows it to be from the 20th century:

If soldiers are not to cross international boundaries, goods must do so. Unless shackles can be dropped from trade, bombs will be dropped from the sky.
So Rand was channeling the same philosophy of free trade that Bastiat defended, but she didn't quite reword him as we expected.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at May 27, 2010 12:10 PM
But johngalt thinks:

In those cases (USSR, China, Cambodia) how about this:

"From each according to his ability" works for as long as willingness persists, and "to each according to his need" works until each sees how much his neighbor "needs."

Further, I would say that colonies and communes are made for one principal reason: survival. First nourishment, then shelter, then comfort, then extravagance. How much of each an individual feels "entitled" to without payment of some kind is a measure of what stage of altruism he is infected with.

Posted by: johngalt at May 27, 2010 3:03 PM

Read Worthy

Border porosity advocate that I am, even I have come around to the swelling admonition, purported fearlessly on these pages by Brother jg, that opponents of the Arizona Immigration statute should read the law's text before opining. And I will if somebody agrees to diagram the previous sentence.

BUT -- I'd rather our legislators and executive branch officers read WHITHER FANNIE AND FREDDIE? A PROPOSAL FOR REFORMING THE HOUSING GSES.. Professor Mankiw links to this superb -- and very accessible -- paper from Donald Marron and Phillip Swagel. It suggests a realistic plan for privatization of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, It provides for a continuation of secondary mortgage securitization by a clearly private Fan & Fred. The open ended exposure of a government put does not disappear, but it is clarified, managed and mitigated.

It might not be a libertarian dream, but it would be great to awaken from our present nightmare into such a system.

Based on this evaluation, we believe that the reformed Fannie and Freddie should continue to play a central role in the securitization and guaranteeing of mortgage securities, but as purely private companies with competition from other private companies. Structured correctly – including with fees paid to the government in return for an explicit guarantee – the firms can provide significant benefits to American homeowners with manageable risk to taxpayers and the financial system. Competition from other firms will help ensure that any government subsidy is passed on to homebuyers and people looking to refinance their mortgage. Allowing entry into the market for government-backed mortgage securities will also spur innovation, and make it possible for one or more of the firms to fail without raising the possibility of a substantial adverse impact on the broad economy.

Conversely, we do not believe that the new Fannie and Freddie should have a significant role in the other three activities for the foreseeable future. The multi-trillion dollar investment portfolios amassed by Fannie and Freddie were the primary source of moral hazard in their operations as GSEs. At the same time, the widespread bank ownership of the GSE debt used to fund the portfolio activities posed a systemic risk to the financial sector. In July and September 2008, taxpayers had to stand behind the GSE debt to avoid the possibility that losses in the event of a default would force banks to recapitalize en masse at a time when markets were already under stress. The risks to taxpayers and the economy from large portfolios overwhelm any potential economic benefits from the incremental liquidity they might provide to the mortgage market.

Well worth a read -- get a full cup of coffee first.

Scare Worthy

Amazing non-reaction to the 500 SEIU Thugs story.

One thing in the back of my mind was expecting this "teenage boy" was perhaps getting a little guff in the classroom for a published magazine story that he was at home "frightened." I don't know his exact age, but suspected that his friends (and enemies) likely made a few references.

Then, today, I see this picture:

Holy Union Meeting, Batman! A good friend of this blog used to remind me that intimidation is violence when Russell Means & Co. shut down Columbus Day Parades in Denver with threats.

These guys go into every bond issue with tearful stories of "teachers and firemen." But clip this photo -- this is the face of the Public Sector unions.

May 24, 2010

Looks Like We'll Need Bigger Subsidies

Is The Electric Emperor Naked? asks

Honda’s R&D chief thinks he may at least be in his underwear.

What Honda knows about electric cars is considerable. But what Honda, as one of the world’s leading manufacturers, knows about the car business is even more considerable. And as to the electric part of that business, Kawanabe says “We lack confidence” in it.

“We are definitely conducting research on electric cars,” he recently told Bloomberg News, “but I can’t say I wholeheartedly recommend them.”

Why? As a leading engineer for the builder of some of the world’s most popular cars, Kawanabe’s answer is right to the point. “It is questionable whether consumers will accept the annoyances of limited driving range and having to spend time charging them.”

Kawanabe is not saying anything new, but he is saying something that is either ignored or has yet to sink in with electric enthusiasts. EVs—including the very best of them—don’t go very far. They go even less far if they go fast. They go even less far if they contain passengers or any significant cargo. Or if it is very cold. Or if it is very hot.

I think that Honda has a good gift for planning strategically and taking the long view. The electric car fanatics are developing a technology that is years away in popular availability and adoption. The article suggests that 10% of the market in ten years is optimistic.

I'd suggest that predicting as faddish a trend as 'letriccars five or ten years into the future is pretty difficult. A little caution looks wise. Tesla is sui generis, the Chevy Volt is appealing to the firm's political owners, Nissan is free to bet on the Leaf. But all of these will come out of other R&D, and the 2013 Honda line might show a company that made the right pick..

But johngalt thinks:

Yeah, but you know those engineers... always focusing on the possible. What a bunch of naysayers.

By the way, have I ever told you that all of us in Galt's Gulch drive electric SUVs with on-board electricity concentrators with as much horsepower capacity as you'd care to pay for at the time of order? Jus' sayin'.

Posted by: johngalt at May 24, 2010 8:14 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

Silly people; using your brains and thinking the vox populai is anything but a quaint myth.

The California cognoscenti have spoken, and have told us how 2% of the cars on the road _shall be_ EV's as of.... oh, ten years ago?

Ooops. I think we're coming up on the anniversary of the mandate hitting 5%. Someone better speak up!!

Who remembers? I do....

Posted by: nanobrewer at May 25, 2010 1:39 AM

Caveat Browsor

L Gordon Crovitz gets it. This is important because -- dearly as I love the WSJ Ed Page for Philosophy, Policy and Style -- they can be a bit Grandpa Simpsony on technology.

But Crovitz nails the Facebook-privacy imbroglio today:

The latest push to regulate the Internet wants to save people from what they say about themselves on social media sites. But with Facebook approaching 500 million users, the people have spoken. Whatever our views about privacy used to be, social media sites have radically changed our expectations.

Privacy advocates this month filed a complaint against Facebook with the Federal Trade Commission, but would-be regulators need to recognize something unusual about privacy expectations on social media sites: The entire reason to use these sites is to trade privacy for other benefits.

It's a constant push against the rounded-scissors brigades, but I always try. You can look at Facebook for 40 seconds and accurately surmise the level of privacy it offers. If you don't want it, don't sign up. When a friend invites to compete in an IQ test and the first page asks for your cell phone number, consider yourself Passed if you clicked "No Thanks."

I know a couple of grownups and a few minors who operate under a nom-de-fasbooke, several who will not touch it. It's all a fair trade, nobody's forcing you. And I'll concede that founder Mark Zuckerberg does not come off as the most wholesome cat who ever started a dot-com. But, let's not regulate it -- it is voluntary.

I'll repeat that, skeptical at first, I've come to like it a lot. It's the USA Today of your friends: a mile wide and an inch deep. Yet it is a way to keep up with a lot of people at your own level of intimacy and time. I'd as soon they did not blast my email address or cell phone number across the Internet, but there is nothing vitally private of mine up there.

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


Posted by: Terri at May 24, 2010 4:27 PM

Do We Get Greek Food?

I love Greek Food. And, since we are turning into Greece, I wonder if it won't become more readily available.

Okay, jk, there you go again. We're not turning into Greece.

Read these two stories, and tell me how substantively our glorious public sector union workers differ from their lazy, entitled, only-slightly-more-violent Greek cousins.

Nina Easton, FORBES Magazine:

Last Sunday, on a peaceful, sun-crisp afternoon, our toddler finally napping upstairs, my front yard exploded with 500 screaming, placard-waving strangers on a mission to intimidate my neighbor, Greg Baer. Baer is deputy general counsel for corporate law at Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500), a senior executive based in Washington, D.C. And that -- in the minds of the organizers at the politically influential Service Employees International Union and a Chicago outfit called National Political Action -- makes his family fair game.

Waving signs denouncing bank "greed," hordes of invaders poured out of 14 school buses, up Baer's steps, and onto his front porch. As bullhorns rattled with stories of debtor calls and foreclosed homes, Baer's teenage son Jack -- alone in the house -- locked himself in the bathroom. "When are they going to leave?" Jack pleaded when I called to check on him.

Baer, on his way home from a Little League game, parked his car around the corner, called the police, and made a quick calculation to leave his younger son behind while he tried to rescue his increasingly distressed teen. He made his way through a din of barked demands and insults from the activists who proudly "outed" him, and slipped through his front door.

"Excuse me," Baer told his accusers, "I need to get into the house. I have a child who is alone in there and frightened."

Like me, you'll be glad to hear that police were on the scene. Like me you may be a little disappointed that they were D.C. cops, there to escort the protesters with no jurisdiction to enforce Maryland law. But had the frightened young man lashed out at the 500 thugs, the police would have been ready to protect the thugs. Breitbart:
Montgomery County was not given a “heads-up” concerning the planned protest. Although a protest permit is technically required in Montgomery County, in practice no citation is issued if the protestors disperse when requested to do so by the owner of the private property they occupy.

The primary role of the Washington cops in this event was to protect the protesters. The D.C. officers had no authority to act to disperse the protesters even had the homeowner been present and asked them to vacate the private property. The event ended as a “dash one”– no arrests, no citations […]

Dolmades are good, and what's that baked cheese that they light on fire? That's good stuff.

UPDATE: Beat to the punch on the segue, though I still hold court with the cuisine references...

You might object that the SEIU goons weren’t representatives of the State, while the Greek rioters are supposedly an “anti-government” mob. The truth is that American labor unions, and angry Greek pensioners, have become de facto arms of the State. They are the feral vanguard of a collapsing system, using violence and intimidation to make it clear those not favorably connected to the political power structure will be sacrificed to preserve it, for as long as possible.

UPDATE II: No, wait! Greece will be fine! The Prime Minister has <blackaddervoice>A Cunning Plan!</blackaddervoice>

Now the Prime Minister has a new idea on how to save Greece: Government subsidies for “green” energy.

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 11:11 AM | What do you think? [2]
But nanobrewer thinks:

The cheese is Saganaki; far too good for these clowns or for the Keystone Cops who showed up to protect them.

Posted by: nanobrewer at May 25, 2010 1:27 AM
But jk thinks:


Posted by: jk at May 25, 2010 11:14 AM

May 23, 2010

Question 32

This is not your father's Republican Party!

I've made it well known around here that I consider the anti-abortion plank of the Republican Platform to be an electoral albatross. I know a vast majority of Republicans disagree with me, but now at least they're being asked the question. Among the 59 Resolutions which delegates were asked to vote on, sandwiched between #31: It is resoved that Colorado Republicans support overturning Roe v. Wade; and #33: It is resolved that Colorado Republicans oppose the use of public funds for destructive embryonic stem-cell research; was this gem:

32) It is resolved by Colorado Republicans that pregnancy, abortion, and birth control are personal private matters not subject to government regulation or interference.

Just ponder that for a minute. Republicans are being asked if Americans are actually capable of taking care of their own lives and decisions without assistance from a nanny-state government. What a concept.

At least one delegate was greatly offended. He fashioned a hand-written sign on a stick that read "VOTE NO ON 32!" and sat in his chair on the floor of the hall and waved it rhythmically. I let slip a wry grin.

But the greater significance of this question, to me, is that some Republican district somewhere in Colorado must have passed this resolution by majority vote for it to appear on the statewide resolution list. Glory be.

But jk thinks:

My previous precinct would have passed that easily. At the 2008 caucus, the rank and file was libertarian or very amenable to small government planks. The problem was an entrenched, establishment party leadership who saw it their right and duty to run things in a top-down manner.

I think the TEA parties have changed the expectations of the rank and file to throw off their Country Club Overlords. This might be the most significant and least discussed result of the movement.

Oh, and would not yes votes on 31, 32, and 33 be consistent?

Posted by: jk at May 24, 2010 10:49 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Upon reflection, we didn't vote on resolutions until the County Assembly. I can see Boulder County (where your former precinct is located) approving this. My goal in 2012 will be to get the Weld County Assembly to pass it too. (No fair for any of you to warn them. ;)

As for things being run top down, they've got to be run somehow. We followed Roberts Rules of Order and motions were always in order.

Finally, yes. It would be consistent to vote YES on all three resolutions, but including the two adjacent questions was not intended to expose any hypocrisy. I included them to impart the flavor of the environment, which also included resolutions that "life begins at conception and is deserving of legal protection from conception.." and "oppose the use of public funds for abortions" which were #30 and 33 respectively. Taken as a set, "One of these things is not like the others, One of these things just doesn't belong." (Apologies to Children's Television Workshop.)

Posted by: johngalt at May 26, 2010 3:33 PM

Miserable F-ing Lead-Free Solder!

Some years ago I wrote at some length about an EU regulation that was infecting the electronics industry worldwide, causing higher costs, greater ecological damage and more importantly, less reliable electronics.

Fast forward to last Friday, where my blogging from a Colorado political event was hamstrung by battery charging difficulties. (I did have an extra battery, I just couldn't charge either of them!) We've been struggling with the charging plug on this laptop for months if not years. This morning I finally concluded that the issue was inside the computer and not the charging adapter. I removed about a million dinky screws and opened roughly half a million teensy snaps to gain access to the main board. The solder joints on the charging socket did appear suspect. Under magnified inspection I deduced that repeated mechanical flexing stress had cold-worked the terminals where they passed through the solder barrels in the PCB. The solder, with the tell-tale dull satin finish of lead-free, had opened up into little funnel shapes around each of the 5 pins on the connector. The electrical connections were reliant upon faith and good fortune (and you probably know how much of both we have around here.) I reflowed all 5 connections with good old tin-lead solder (like our grandpappys used to use) and put the well used laptop back into service.

I can't help but wonder how many fewer electronic devices would be clogging our landfills if this idiotic enviro-nonsense had not been foisted upon mankind in the name of keeping hazardous materials out of landfills.

But jk thinks:

Heh. I think every laptop I've tossed has been that socket breaking or disconnecting. My soldering skills are limited to patch cords and the occasional tube socket. PC boards are replacement parts to this cowboy,

Posted by: jk at May 23, 2010 5:54 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Exactly right. Only the most fortunate laptops end up in the homes of electrical engineers with NASA soldering training. (I guess one might call them the Dalai Lama laptops. Reincarnation anyone?)

Posted by: johngalt at May 23, 2010 6:15 PM
But johngalt thinks:

And I also sought to take some of the heat off of you for your nautical language, though I couldn't bring myself to type the complete f-word.

Posted by: johngalt at May 24, 2010 8:15 PM

Thousand-and-one Words


NICE! Ed Driscoll

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

"Republicans put TEA Party Activist Dan Maes on Top of Their Primary Ballot

That's the way Fox News reported Colorado's GOP Convention vote today. I have the vote totals below and yes, Lynn Bartels did beat me to press with this one, but she only gives the share of the vote for each candidate, not the total votes. In my defense, I conserved my battery until the convention ended and powered up to look for wireless but it was pay to play and that is ten bucks that could be better spent on a Dan Maes campaign contribution.

The GOP state treasurer nomination goes to JJ Ament, with 2,788 votes to 690 for Ali Hasan. Hasan's 20% showing was below the 30% threshold to get him on the primary ballot.

The senate race was a little closer with Ken Buck's 2,701 votes surpassing Tidwell's 522, Greenheck's 56 and Barton's 35. Only Buck was voted onto the primary.

And then there was the governor's race. This one came down to the wire and the close finish was, I suspect, the reason it took nearly 2 hours to count and recount and verify and reverify the vote totals (after state party chair Dick Wadhams estimated 30 minutes.) Dan Maes drew 1,741 votes and party insider and long-time front runner Scott McInnis tallied 1,725. (YJ Mager received 21.) By a 16 vote margin the upstart "people's choice" candidate took the top position on the primary ballot. With 49% and 48% respectively, Maes and McInnis will face off in the primary election in August.

There is no picture of Scott McInnis because he and his family left before the voting ended to attend the wedding of Scott's eldest daughter in Estes Park. A campaign staffer made some cursory remarks to that effect.

In acknowledging his first-place finish Maes told the few of us remaining in the hall, "This is not about me. This is about you, the people, standing up and making yourselves heard. (...) We're just getting warmed up! (...) And to all of you Republicans in elective office out there, don't block me. This train is leaving the station and it's time to get on board. (...) The next step is to start sending in those contributions. It's time to start raising the money necessary to take this campaign to the next level." (Or something along those lines.)

UPDATE: Here's an interesting list of winners and losers from the Republican State Assembly


2. Dan Maes: Edging out the party establishment’s favorite Scott McInnis, even by the narrowest of margins, gives an added boost to his campaign. Having given a great speech and recorded a strong showing today, Maes knows he has a lot of ground to make up in fundraising. But he’s in the game at least until August.

3. Ken Buck: Once Jane Norton decided to skip the assembly and petition on, a Buck victory was a slam dunk. But the Weld County D.A. put on an impressive showing of 77 percent despite the undervotes and protest votes. Primary race? Game on.

4. Cory Gardner: Clearing the 4th CD Republican field with 60 percent is a big relief for Gardner, as the GOP unites strong in its best chance to take back a Colorado Congressional seat from the Democrats.

5. Tea Party / 9-12 Project: The growing influence and focused energy of these groups was on display in Loveland. Besides the medium-sized sea of red shirts for Dan Maes, how else do you explain Bob McConnell winning 45 percent to make the ballot in CD3 and Dean Madere finishing a respectable second in CD4? Fiscal conservatism is alive and well and ready to rear its head in Colorado.

6. Republican Party unity: I think this point may be lost on some, especially on the other side, who are wishing for the opposite to happen. But despite (or maybe because of) heated primary competition, there was less dissension and infighting evident than at any of the past three state assemblies.

1. Negative campaign tactics: Ali Hasan banked a lot of his success on attacks suggesting fellow treasurer candidate J.J. Ament is a “fiscal liberal.” The delegates — whom no one could describe as anything but right of center — weren’t buying. Meanwhile, non-participating gubernatorial candidate Joe Gschwendtner bombarded delegates with robo-calls before the Assembly urging them to vote against Dan Maes saying he can’t win, a strategy that appears to have backfired. (See #2)

2. Joe G: Gschwendtner’s campaign spokesman told Lynn Bartels earlier in the day: “After Dan doesn’t get his 30 percent, it will be McInnis and Gschwendtner.” Whoops. The late-entry campaign would have a steep enough hill to climb in a two-way race, but McInnis’ party establishment backing and Maes’ outstanding grassroots showing leave very little political oxygen.

4. Establishment backing: Many delegates this year seemed to be looking for candidates of integrity who have fire in the belly, candidates who send signals of running on principle rather than being handpicked by the powers that be. It’s certainly a reason Scott McInnis missed top line on the ballot, and it helps to explain why SD 16 candidate Tim Leonard was able to garner 70 percent support and avoid a primary with Mark Hurlbert.

UPDATE 2: Here's another local blogger's summary report.

Maes has won despite dismal fundraising and a few stumbles along the way. Putting some 70,000 miles on your car in less than 12 months while attending hundreds of political events can pay off. I think he comes off as being a bit smarter and more honest than McInnis, and he's willing to talk to both supporters and critics while McInnis is a glad hander who tries to avoid talking issues with supporters or, especially, the media and critics.
But jk thinks:

The TEA party has established itself as a force. I am still not certain it will be a force for good, but something had to be done.

Without it, Scott McInnis world have cruised to an easy nomination. I hate to harsh on the guy, but his picture is in the dictionary next to "establishment candidate." Bully for the TEA Party to give us a shot at Dan Maes.

PA-12 shattered my hopes for an überdevastating GOP sweep in November. And yet, perhaps better, primary results so far are increasing my hopes for a more supportable Republican Party going forward. In Congress, I have to be pragmatic, but statewide, I'd confess that I'd rather lose with Dan Maes than win with Scott McInnis.

Posted by: jk at May 23, 2010 11:07 AM
But jk thinks:

Again, thanks for your efforts and reporting.

I applaud all of you do this but I'm not sure how much my health permits. I can do the contribution thang and I did just hit Mister Maes's.

Posted by: jk at May 23, 2010 11:18 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Something tells me you'd find a way to mitigate health factors in order to cover the Miss USA pageant. ;)

Posted by: johngalt at May 23, 2010 6:09 PM
But jk thinks:

I try to be there when my readers need me, yes.

Posted by: jk at May 24, 2010 12:07 PM

May 21, 2010

CO-4 Midway/Final Report

At 4:15 pm MDT the speeches are over and the voting has begun. While waiting my turn I pulled out the laptop to write a few notes. Tom Lucero walked by and asked "are you just on the computer, playing around?" "I'm bloggin' man!" said I. So, ThreeSourcers, Tom Lucero says "Hi."

McInnis and Maes both received strong applause during their speeches but many more people rose from their seats for Dan than for Scott. Dan talked about his three point plan to take back Colorado: Reduce the size of government, cut taxes, and make real progress to stem illegal immigration. The details on immigration were to enforce existing Colorado law that is "much like the Arizona law," require all employers to use E-verify, and require unalterable photo-ID when appearing for social service aid.

Gotta runand vote!@

UPDATE- Just finished voting for Gardner for congress and Sue Sharkey for CU Regent. Now back to the report.

In case you were wondering, the gubernatorial and senate votes are tomorrow but those candidates spoke to our, and the other, congressional district assembly here at the Embassy Suites in Loveland.

Scott McInnis tried to sound tough. Tough on immigration. Tough in taking on Hickenlooper. Tough man, tough. His best line was his last: I can't wait to get to Denver and start the fight against Hickenlooper. Hey Hickenlooper, little buddy, I can't wait!

Low battery so I'm saving, just in case....

Jane Norton, who isn't even on the Convention ballot tomorrow (she's petitioning instead, hmm) and Ken Buck both spoke. Jane told us she is a pro-life, pro-business, pro-freedom, pro-2nd amendment, pro-10th amendment conservative. Polite applause. She said she's running for the senate because "Washington is broken" and she wants to go take it back. Polite applause. She even said she wants to repeal Obamacare. This is a flip-flop if memory serves, since she's said before that complete repeal is a bridge too far.

Here are the election results, as they're announced:
590 total votes (177 threshold to get on the primary ballot)

Gardner 359
Lucero 110
Madere 120

Sharkey 513
Barlean 76
write-in 1


I think I may have scooped Lynn Bartels with the speed of my reporting! :)

I wasn't terribly surprised that Lucero didn't make the 30% threshold to get on the primary ballot, but I don't think anyone expected Dean Madere to out poll Tom Lucero.

More later. Off to the barbeque.

UPDATE- I've renamed this post Midway/Final because the election results mark the end of the 4th CD Assembly. The next event we're attending is Dan Maes ice cream social this evening, then the State Convention tomorrow morning. I'm going to see if I can get Dan's thoughts on the recent PPP (Democratic) poll showing Hickenlooper and Ritter tied at 44% each. The poll didn't ask about Maes. After tomorrow, I predict they'll have to start.

Close Enough for Me!

One in every crowd, is there not?

LEE SMITH says Lebanese-American Rima Fakih, this year’s Miss America winner, isn’t necessarily a fully Westernized Muslim just because she wore a bathing suit. She may well be what her admirers say she is, but to know for certain you’d have to look into her head and her heart, not at her body or clothes. The same is true for any other beauty pageant contestant, but there’s something else, too: Some bikini-clad women in Lebanon, believe it or not, support Hezbollah, just as a small number of Middle Eastern doctors perversely become terrorists.

We all have to start somewhere if we're going to all get along. And I am ready to offer Ms. Fakih the benefit of the doubt.


Photo: MissUSA

But johngalt thinks:

"Fully westernized muslim." In my book a muslim is westernized enough if he/she is content to live under western law and refrains from murder.

Oh yes, and as for the photo of Ms. Fakih... Like.

Posted by: johngalt at May 22, 2010 7:13 PM
But jk thinks:

Appreciate your live coverage of Colorado GOP. Next year, I may have to cover Miss USA.

Posted by: jk at May 22, 2010 8:43 PM

CO 4th CD Assembly Blogging

1:50 pm MDT: Sitting in the front row of the 4th CD Assembly in Loveland, CO wearing my Cory Gardner T-shirt. I'll try to post a few tidbits that may be of interest. So far:

Collected a Ken Buck T-shirt in exchange for my promise to wear it to the State Convention tomorrow. Huzzah!

Found a fellow Maes/Buck supporter who said "I'm a Republican but I'm for limited government and individual rights, which really makes me a liberal." He is against the drug war and prohibition of abortion. Sorry though, JK, he's also anti-illegal immigration.

Talked for about 10 minutes with Dan Maes. Asked him how I should respond to the next McInnis supporter who says Dan was pro-amnesty on the first version of his website. Dan said he has never said anything of the sort on his website or anywhere else. He told us he had lunch with Tom Tancredo to get the lowdown on the immigration issue and that Tom seemed to come away from that meeting with the sense that Dan isn't "tough enough" on immigration. That impression, after working through the grapevine, became "Dan's for Amnesty." Dan also told us a Post reporter asked him if he, himself, is hispanic. "Maes is a hispanic name" the reporter said. Well, Dan's eldest daughter with his first wife, whose father was from Chihuahua, Mexico, is part hispanic. Perhaps that's where that rumor started from. Dad and I were both very impressed with Dan. He looked me square in the eye. He also suggested asking McInnis supporters what Scott's articulated position is on ANY issue. That gibes with my sentiment. Scott is commitment-phobic.

But jk thinks:

...and I would have attended the CO - 2nd District Assembly, but the other Republican has a cold.

Posted by: jk at May 21, 2010 4:41 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

Heh. Who does Tancredo think is 'tough enough' on immigration?

Posted by: T. Greer at May 21, 2010 5:31 PM
But jk thinks:

Thanks, tg, I was searching for the phrasing.

I know my buddies around here are angry that I see a little racism in the rush to enforce. One can be a principled defender of Law and order and national sovereignty and I accept that all ThreeSourcers are -- I just meet some people whom I am not sure fall into that camp...

I bring it up not to rub an old wound, but "Amnesty!" is the mirror image of "Racist!" Tancredoites hide behind it as quickly as La Mecha.

Posted by: jk at May 21, 2010 6:31 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I have to say I was a bit overwhelmed at the amount of cheering from the delegates (see story above) at every mention of the immigration issue. It definitely resonates, as favorability of the Arizona law indicates, but I hope Republicans don't make it their marquee issue in the governor's (or any other) race. As this post attests, at least Dan Maes won't.

Posted by: johngalt at May 21, 2010 8:58 PM
But jk thinks:

Thanks, jg, that is a big concern for me. We can disagree on a lot of issues (and candidates) but immigration is so emotional, a candidate can easily decide to make it a signature issue. Hey, they don't call it populism 'cause it lacks appeal.

I don't think for a moment that the Colorado GOP would support a liberal-on-immigration candidate in the near future. But I can see McInnis leading with it.

-- And great reporting, btw, we're going to have to hold a telethon to get you an extra battery.

Posted by: jk at May 22, 2010 11:50 AM

I think I prefer a Real Llama

A ranch nearby has a couple dozen llamas and I always enjoy driving by.

However this Dalai Lama fellow, really tees me off.

"Still I am a Marxist," the exiled Tibetan Buddhist leader said in New York, where he arrived today with an entourage of robed monks and a heavy security detail to give a series of paid public lectures.

"(Marxism has) moral ethics, whereas capitalism is only how to make profits," the Dalai Lama, 74, said.

Ann Althouse links, suggesting "'[...] only how to make profits.' Only. Only improving the lives of millions."

I had always put Mister Lama into the "mostly harmless" bucket, that his calls for a more spiritual existence were nicely balanced by his high moral standing attacks against Chinese repression of Tibet and laogais. Let him chant, he's not hurting anybody.

Well now he is hurting people, championing the political system that enslaved his country and outlawed his religion, over the one that feeds the world and provides a foundation for human liberty, dignity, and prosperity. Thanks, ThreeSourcers, I don't know anywhere where I can say this: "MISERABLE, FUCKING DALAI LAMA!!!"

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 12:14 PM | What do you think? [11]
But sugarchuck thinks:

Sorry guys, I dig the Dalai Lama. His mistake is the oldest one in the book and one I used to watch my friends the Benedictine nuns make regularly. They believed "real" Marxism hadn't been tried yet. They come from religious disciplines where collectivism has worked very well for centuries and mistakenly see Marxism as an extension of their own experience. They fail to distinguish between voluntarily turning one's will over to the service of God and being compelled to turn one's life and will over to the service of the state. I've never understood how the religious, so profoundly committed to the notion of free will could confuse this but they do all the time. Remember the liberation theologists from back in the 80's. And it is unfortunate that the Dalai Lama can't see the systemic flaws in Marxism. It would be one thing if the Chinese were the exception to the rule and everywhere else Marxism had been tried became a workers paradise, but this obviously didn't happen. It's a broken model that brings slavery and death wherever it goes. Democratic Capitalism, for all it's flaws, has brought more freedom and more wealth to more people than any other system in human history, but to the Good Sister's at Sacred Heart Convent and to the Dalai Lama, a most compassionate and holy man, this seems counterintuitive. They see "sharing" as the most practical and fastest response to human suffering and while this might offend the Randians, those of us who grew up with the Sermon on the Mount should at least be able to understand their point of view.

And I guess if we're all for offending Muslims the world over by trashing one of their beliefs it's no big deal to drop F-bombs on the Dalai Lama, but this doesn't seem to me to be in the spirit of debate that I've come to expect from Three Sources.

Posted by: sugarchuck at May 21, 2010 5:24 PM
But jk thinks:

@SC: I was angry, and I think within my right to vigorous expression -- as you are right for calling me on it. Plus, Season 7 of Penn & Teller's BS is out and I have been exposed to much. The F-bomb is a match this week and it's kinda soggy on one side.

@everybody else should do him or herself a huge favor and read Michael Novak's "Spirit of Democratic Capitalism." SC recommended it to me and it is superb. And inline with brother sc's defense of the robed one.

@tg: I think you're "wrong as pants on a trout" as Mister Quint would say on "Curious George." His opinion carries great weight in the free world as he is seen as one of the last people with true moral authority. The WSJ Ed Page has covered his speeches as much as leftist organs.

It sets liberty back a great deal to have him say that in 2010. It gives a legitimacy to the hangers on that they should be denied. It's not 1918 or 1949, we have seen what this does to people.

Yesterday, I would have been pretty positive on the man I swore at. But I lean toward thinking this morning's reaction correct. He claims power and authority because he is the multi-reincarnated leader of antiquity. (Ayn Rand, call your office!) True, he does not live la vida al goro with mansions on both coasts and one in between, but he has escaped the privation and limitations of an occupied country to live a decent life with bodyguards and nice hotels and fawning respect of journalists and politicians the world over.

I challenge his authority on any sphere to tell Americans that we expunged our racism by electing President Obama or that Marxism really is the best way to organize peoples and economies.

I am reminded at a visceral level I cannot fully explain of Harry Belafonte's attack on then Secretary of State Colin Powell. This guy who sang folk songs in the 60s presumes to tell me what to think of an American Hero.

Same deal, only the Dalai Lama never had a hit.

Posted by: jk at May 21, 2010 6:18 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

Eh, I still don't think this is that big of a deal. Several left-of-center outlets have taken some heat on these pages upon championing the rhetoric of President Obama as actually policy victories. Thing is, words are not reality. Many people seem to think so, but you have been pretty good at noting the distinction.

And less it has been forgotten - WSJ covered Obama's speeches too.

Posted by: T. Greer at May 22, 2010 6:52 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Well then, I guess you can't say "MFDL" even here, at ThreeSources. All this chatter compelled me to read the linked article, which paints a picture of the Buddhist leader saying, essentially, "My mind's made up. Don't confuse me with the facts." He admitted that capitalism and market economics have resulted in higher living standards and greater freedoms but no, he's still not a capitalist. "harmony must come out of the heart, not out of fear" he said. "So far, methods to bring harmony mostly rely on use of force." On that score he is right: Communism, Marxism, relies upon force to establish civil order. The antithesis, capitalism, gives men a way to deal with other men without force. How is this not harmonious? And how are higher living standards and greater freedoms good, while the profits that make them both possible are somehow inconsequential?

And yes, TG, this is a big deal. Many westerners follow the Dalai Lama as an alternative spiritual leader to the Christian teachings which pervade American conservative thought. The "moral" sanction which this aging dimwit grants to discredited ideologies such as Marxism is one of the few things keeping them alive. Don't think anyone in Washington is affected by his words? Ask JK's facebook friends, or neighbors in Boulder county. In the home of the Naropa Institute and more "Free Tibet" bumper stickers than bumpers, anything the DL says is a big deal.

And brother SC, you say you like the guy but also that he is gravely mistaken. Can you acknowledge that even well intentioned people, with the wrong ideas and too much influence, can do great harm?

Sharing is good, when voluntary. Harmony is good, if genuine. Force is bad, except in self-defense. Theft is bad, always. A humble man once said, "Charity is a business for those with means to give, not for those who have first stolen those means."

"The Dalai Lama said he felt a "sense of the oneness of human beings," jokingly adding: "If those thoughts are wrong, please let me know!" No, that sense is not wrong, but it comes from more widespread prosperity, not from expansion of Marxism. But there is one thing that makes thoughts of oneness wrong: The idea that it is such a high moral value that it can be virtuously pursued "at any cost" even if it requires theft, or force, or Marxism.

Posted by: johngalt at May 23, 2010 4:44 PM
But T. Greer thinks:
Many westerners follow the Dalai Lama as an alternative spiritual leader to the Christian teachings which pervade American conservative thought. The "moral" sanction which this aging dimwit grants to discredited ideologies such as Marxism is one of the few things keeping them alive. Don't think anyone in Washington is affected by his words? Ask JK's facebook friends, or neighbors in Boulder county. In the home of the Naropa Institute and more "Free Tibet" bumper stickers than bumpers, anything the DL says is a big deal.

As outrageous as it may seem, I submit that a simple random sample of the bumper stickers found in Boulder Colorado is not representative of the nation as a whole.

I have lived in three states in the last four years. None of them are particularly conservative; one has (in terms of percentage) a much higher population of Buddhists than the national average. In none did I observe the use of the Dalai Lama as a standard source of spiritual authority by the general populace - or even its left-leaning community.

I think you overestimate the influence of this man. However, I don't either of us can prove our case empirically. An impasse it is.

Posted by: T. Greer at May 24, 2010 10:53 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Fair enough, though you siezed on my attempt at humor to disarm my argument. But the degree to which MFDL's beliefs are accepted by others is immaterial to the moral value of those beliefs. Even if only he believes them they are still wrong.

Rand taught not to give the sanction of silence. "Speak up" she said, "even if only to say 'I disagree."

Posted by: johngalt at May 26, 2010 3:40 PM

Bravo and Huzzah!

Why did the DJIA drop 376 points yesterday? Perry and I insist it is an aggregate and attempts to oversimplify are antithetical to what a market is.

Why did "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day" pass at ThreeSources without pictures, firebombing, or beheading? Well, it's an aggregate. I was slowed but not stopped by thoughtful appeals from respected friends in the 3src commentariat. As a hack of an artist, I was concerned that the respectful image I was planning (a light pencil sketch to be screened back over Arabic verses) would not be guaranteed to connote my intentions. And, I had to meet a job candidate over a long lunch and my time was limited.

As promised, blog friend Terri shared her letter (but not the image) she sent to

But I was blown away by the winners of Reason's "Everybody Draw Mohammed" contest. Masterful work. Mine would have been so far behind these, I am glad I did not participate. Brilliant!

UPDATE: No, I can unequivocally deny that I was interviewing, Rep Sestak.

Technical Support

I promised this once. This is from a $9 CDROM drive I bought to load a new OS on a netbook. Sadly, the second disk was a DVD so I ended up having to spend a whole $15. But I think the nine bucks was worth it for the last sentence of #6 (#2 isn't so bad either.)


Posted by John Kranz at 10:34 AM | What do you think? [2]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

That's great. Hope you don't mind me sharing that with a few friends. :)

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at May 21, 2010 1:40 PM
But jk thinks:

Yes, please to not link document for friend' s amusement or email file of promptly image.

Posted by: jk at May 21, 2010 3:22 PM

Employment News

Obama To Create 17 New Jobs By Resigning And Finally Opening That Restaurant

Sadly, yes, The Onion

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 10:28 AM | What do you think? [0]

May 20, 2010

Another Word the Administration Doesn't Understand

I suggested to Regulator Czar (do not hold your head higher than the Regulatory Czar's!) Cass Sustein that "voluntary" was not as complicated a term as he thought. In my indefatigable effort to augment the Administration's vocabulary, I suggest the word of the Day be "Innovative."

When property rights are protected, companies will find innovative (Inn-oh-vay-tiv) solutions. Case in point, an American Pharma firm "licensing" counterfeiters in India:

Nonetheless, Gilead, a pharmaceutical company based in Foster City, California, continued in its efforts to make money as well as increase access to medicines. Even without an Indian patent, it negotiated with 13 Indian companies to make its anti-HIV drug, TDF. This way, Gilead retains its innovator patent rights in rich countries, but helps Indian companies make TDF to sell in the poorest countries. Today, Gilead’s most successful Indian partner is Matrix Laboratories. In 2009, Matrix sold more TDF than Gilead, producing treatments for more than 420,000 patients in the developing world. Matrix’s production costs are about half those of Gilead, allowing the company to make a profit at a far lower price—around $8 per month per patient versus Gilead’s $17.

This Administration reflexively goes for the top-down bureaucratic solution. I know I'm preaching to the choir here, but look what can happen when you let innovation flourish.

Currency Topology

How cool is this?

Hat-tip: Mankiw

But T. Greer thinks:

This is cool. Going in my next Notes From All Over for sure.

Posted by: T. Greer at May 21, 2010 5:26 PM

Political Dirty Tricks in CO Governor's Race

Earlier today I mentioned the Colorado governor's race in a comment to a post on nasty politics. I speculated that Johnny-come-lately Joe Gschwendtner, whose attacks on the impressive grass-roots candidacy of Dan Maes conspicuously fail to target Scott McInnis, is a stalking horse for the McInnis campaign. Now I can offer evidence that my amateur conspiracy theory is conspiracy fact.

Fellow state delegate Joe Harrington (whom I've never met) shared my suspicions and apparently investigated the phone number that the Gschwendtner calls are coming from (208 515 7472 in my case) and found that McInnis calls have come from the same number!

Here is Harrington's letter:

I have received several calls in the last few days from the Joe G campaign pushing negative information about Dan Maes. I went back and researched the phone number that this campaign is using to call all the State delegates and it is the same number as McInnis used in early March to call us about the caucuses. In talking to the Communications Director of the Gswhentner Campaign (Joe G) this morning he admitted that they didn't have a chance but were merely trying to knock Dan Maes out of getting the Assembly 30% threshold to be on the ballot in the primary.

At the same time information came out recently indicating that McInnis was pro-abortion rights during his term as Congressman (google Republicans for Choice McInnis to see more). It is apparent to me that this is a coordinated counterattack to try to deflect the heat from McInnis right before Assembly onto the Maes Campaign.

Whether you support McInnis or Maes this type of dirty politics should be exposed for what it is, and let the light of day in to show the truth to those of us who cared enough to give up our evenings and weekends to try to honestly assess who should lead our Party in November. Joe G isn't for real - he is a prop candidate set up to try to tear down Maes and that is all he is at this time.

I write this because I don't want any of us to allow negative campaign tactics and smear campaigns discourage us from voting on principle for who we think is right for our State in either the Governor's or Treasurers races as both of these races seem to have fallen into the gutter recently.

Please forward to other delegates that you may know who might want to see this.


Joe Harrington

I've seen Dan Maes at Colorado TEA Parties. He's personally called me on the phone. He took a massive share of the March caucus support from the monied establishment candidate Scott McInnis - 46% to 52%. He is right on the issues and well qualified to lead our state back from the costly failures of the phoney "New Energy Economy" to a healthy reality of innovation, sensible regulation, and prosperity.

McInnis supporters strongest argument over the past months has been "only Scott can beat Hickenlooper in the general election." I had strong doubts on that count to begin with but the controversies that continue to accumulate around McInnis only weaken his position. In this anti-establishment climate I personally believe Dan is better positioned to beat the popular Denver democrat than is Scott. At this Saturday's Colorado Republican Convention this delegate will vote for, and campaign for, Dan Maes for Governor of Colorado.

2010 Colorado Posted by JohnGalt at 3:54 PM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:


I have been very impressed with Maes (and simultaneous unwowed by the blinding charisma of Rep McInnis).

It seem that ThreeSources' Colorado division has been consumed with the Buck - Norton GOP Senate race. I lean toward Mister Buck for county solidarity and the enjoyment of seeing an establishment candidate get whacked, but still see no appreciable policy difference.

Maes, conversely, has struck me as a real TEA Party candidate. I wish you both the best at the convention!

Posted by: jk at May 20, 2010 5:15 PM

Time to worry?

Megan McArdle asks whether it's time to shift your investment strategy toward shoving Krugerrands under the bed and stocking up on water and ammunition. I'll not comment, though the headwinds always seem pretty strong against Larry Kudlow's V-shaped recovery.

But I have to credit her lead paragraph as a "Media and Blogging" item:

I loathe those neat little summary headlines that purport to tell you why things sold off--"Dow Drops 100 points on unemployment worries" and so forth--as if the journalist surveyed all the millions of people who bought and sold stocks and found out why they did what they did. So any attempt to fully explain this morning's ugly market behavior in terms of one factor or another is bound to be deeply flawed.

These guys on TV wouldn't know a naked put from a shot put, and they are always willing to go twice as far as an actual analyst. Whatever. I bet they'll all buy the wrong water and ammunition as well.

UPDATE: Rereading this, it is not clear that the bad jokes about "time to shift your investment strategy toward shoving Krugerrands under the bed and stocking up on water and ammunition" come from me and not McArdle. She's worried, but it's your beloved correspondent flying off the handle.

But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I've been saying this for years. It's just stupidity to attribute "the market moved this way" to single factors. The news is bad on retailers and jobless claims, so everything is supposedly crashing subsequently? Geithner's nomination is announced, so "stocks rallied"?

What really gets me are the idiots who say that gold and other commodities are rising in price because investors are buying more to hedge against inflation. What an unnecessary complication. The price is rising in the first place because of inflation.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at May 20, 2010 12:48 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

I am not the economic whiz that the rest of you are, but I seem to recall that quite some time ago, I was the one recommending investing in metals - specifically, lead.

It's not unforeseeable that we will live to see transactions done on the basis of a different legal tender: canned food, liquor, water, sex, and ammo. No time like the present to stock up...

Posted by: Keith Arnold at May 20, 2010 1:18 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Thanks for the tip, Keith. I am going to take your advice and stock up on liquor and sex. Got plenty of food, water and ammo.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at May 20, 2010 5:51 PM
But jk thinks:

Huh. Br once told me "you can never have enough ammo..."

Posted by: jk at May 20, 2010 6:01 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Good point! To make up for it, I spent some time reloading tonight.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at May 21, 2010 12:20 AM


Gotta get Brooke and Mike back -- this is sadly the final song from the session:


John Prine's "Angel from Montgomery"

Thanking What Lucky Stars Remain

I've been upholding the sacred honor of short sellers. Somebody's gotta do it.

Thw WSJ Ed Page suggests I give a quick danke schön that great-grandpa left the Fatherland:

Americans who think Washington is out of control should look on the bright side: You could live in Europe, where the political class is confronting its sovereign debt crisis by shooting the messengers and imposing new taxes on an almost daily basis.

German regulators on Tuesday decided to ban certain kinds of short-selling on euro-zone government bonds and credit-default swaps, as well as on the shares of 10 large German financial institutions, including Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank. European stock markets promptly sold off because investors don't much like it when politicians decree that stocks shouldn't fall in price. The silver lining is that the proposal wasn't coordinated with other governments, and the French (bless them) quickly said they won't go along.

But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

The ban is only on naked short-selling, and even then only on government bonds and certain financial companies' issues. But the media has barely clarified this and has typically generalized it as "a ban on short-selling."

But it's a red herring, and the media's generalization is just another part of the scapegoating of short-sellers. The real problem, what really caused investors to pull out, were the new restrictions on CDS. What's the point of buying government bonds or other bix fixed-income products if you can't insure them with swaps?

But wherever those investors were putting their money yesterday, it wasn't into American stocks yesterday. Looks like more Treasuries, and again today.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at May 20, 2010 12:57 PM

May 19, 2010

Be Careful, ThreeSourcers!

There are problems with Miley Cyrus themed jewelry from Walmart*

LOS ANGELES – Wal-Mart said Wednesday it is pulling an entire line of Miley Cyrus-brand necklaces and bracelets from its shelves after tests performed for The Associated Press found the jewelry contained high levels of the toxic metal cadmium.

In a statement issued three hours after AP's initial report of its findings, Wal-Mart said it would remove the jewelry, made exclusively for the world's largest retailer, while it investigates. The statement was issued along with Cyrus and Max Azria, the designer who developed the jewelry for the 17-year-old "Hannah Montana" star.

Just doing our part to protect the public...

Posted by John Kranz at 7:45 PM | What do you think? [0]

Politics Will Get Nastier

I've come across that meme a time or two today. Now that centrist (establishment) candidates have fallen to more ideological contenders in the primaries, get ready for the sweetness and light to dissipate.

Taranto makes a great point about niceness in politics -- and then ends it with a mean swipe at a departing Senator. Both are worthy of consideration:

It is possible to disagree agreeably, and sometimes political disputes turn vicious and personal because the sides have no ideological basis for their opposition to each other. Anyway, it's hard to imagine that Washington will become more unpleasant when Arlen Specter departs.

A better delineated debate might be higher in tone.

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 6:07 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Maybe the nastiness will just shift from inter-party to intra-party. With the 2010 Colorado GOP Convention just 2 days away the radio and robocall attacks have ramped up this week. In the last 2 days I received, as a state delegate, robocalls from the "campaign" of one Joe Gschwendtner, "the true conservative candidate for governor" pushing some negative attacks on Dan Maes. The most recent call included a website called danmaescantwin-dot-com. I can't say this website was useless - it's where I finally learned how to spell Joe G's name. You see, he only announced in early May and hasn't had any visible campaign whatsoever. He just seems to be running a negative campaign against the other candidates. Well, against ONE of the other candidates... the one who is a threat to the establishment candidacy of Scott McInnis. Good ol' Joe has never said a word about McInnis. Hmmmmm.

My support and respect for Maes is multiplying.

Posted by: johngalt at May 20, 2010 11:06 AM

Quote of the Day

In a post below, Perry and The Refugee jested about the White House being smarter than all of the rest of us and therefore in a position to make decisions for us. Were it only jest. This, from David Harsanyi's column titled "Enlightened Tyrants" in today's Denver Post:

It seems that the negative externalities of our freewheeling ways have become too much for some of the enlightened to bear. Progressivism is the belief that we have too much freedom with which to make too many stupid choices.
Obama Administration Posted by Boulder Refugee at 3:51 PM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

All Hail Harsanyi! Excellent article.

Posted by: jk at May 19, 2010 6:23 PM

We've Established What You Are General Kagan

...Now we're quibbling over price!

Professor Mankiw risks faculty wrath by linking to this Commentary post criticizing his employer. I heard Speaker Gingrich on FOXNewsSunday, inquire why Saudi Money was pure as the driven snow, yet the US Military's was tainted by homophobia:

This is a very good point for GOP senators to press Ms. Kagan on during her confirmation hearings. Apparently, accepting the money from a repressive government where sodomy is punishable by death is hunky-dory, but the military, in carrying through on the Clinton administration’s policy, deserves to be singled out for condemnation. (Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is a “moral injustice of the first order,” according to Kagan.) How exactly does one explain the different Indignation Meters at Harvard Law School?

Fun to whack at Hahvaad whenever possible, but I hold my view that "The General" is as good a nominee as we'll see from this President.

SCOTUS Posted by John Kranz at 2:35 PM | What do you think? [0]

Now That's a Political Ad!

(Need we add a category for Alabama Agriculture Commissioner 2010?)

Hat-tip: Blog friend tg on Facebook.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 12:08 PM | What do you think? [4]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:


Posted by: Boulder Refugee at May 19, 2010 12:15 PM
But johngalt thinks:

It's a great day when rifles begin to appear in political ads.

Posted by: johngalt at May 19, 2010 2:25 PM
But jk thinks:

Amen. BTW, a freind of tg's takes Mr. Peterson to task for having his finger on the trigger. I was waiting to see if the NRA wing of ThreeSources compained. But I imagine we all just had eyes filled with tears...

Posted by: jk at May 19, 2010 2:45 PM
But johngalt thinks:

HA! So he does. I was too busy determining how his rifle compares to my beloved Model 94 Trapper.

Posted by: johngalt at May 19, 2010 3:05 PM

Not a word I have trouble with at all...

Cass Sustein is likely a lot smarter than me. He landed a job as "regulatory czar" in the Obama Administration -- and even got a lot of libertarian defense against conservative attacks. I dunno.

And yet, he suggests "the word 'voluntary' is a little complicated." He thinks ThreeSources should voluntarily link to Kos so you could see another side. Voluntary is swell and all, but Czar Sustein seems ready to call a midnight SWAT raid of jackbooted Internet thugs if we demur.

A lot of words are complicated. I find "Prolegomenon" (somebody's been reading about President Wilson...) very difficult to pronounce; it's on my white board so I can practice it (what a loser!) But, no, Mister Sustein, "voluntary" is quite straightforward.

Hat-tip: Jonah Goldberg, via Ann Althouse

But Boulder Refugee thinks:

The only way Sustein could propose such a scheme is to fundamentally believe that people are such complete idiots that they can't find multiple opinions for themselves.

"Oh, thank you, Big Goverment for saving me from me!"

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at May 19, 2010 11:54 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

"Cass Sustein is no way in hell smarter than me."

There, fixed it for you. Just because some life form has a brain, or can talk, doesn't mean it's intelligent. Ass Sunstein can't even use a simple word like "voluntary" properly, whereas children can learn at 5 years old. They volunteer to help teacher, but they do not volunteer to help with things at home.

I'm sure the will set an example by linking to Birther or "Obama is the Antichrist" sites?

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at May 19, 2010 11:54 AM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

An excellent point, Perry, but apparently you missed the memo. The White House is so much smarter than the rest of us that there is no need for any alternative point of view. Their's is the last word.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at May 19, 2010 12:12 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

This is a bad idea on so many levels.

You guys have been focusing on the issue of consent, and you are right on that point. But consider also how dangerous this type of regulation would be to the functioning of a free press/ free flow of information. Sustein's plan is to set up a cartel. You know, the kind of cartel governments usually try and break up. Except in this case, the monopoly is being held up by the government. The government will be deciding which sites must be displayed at everybody else's place. This raises barriers to entry and gives the feds a handle on what most of the citizenry will be reading. See how well constant vigilance is maintained in that world.

But the again, this is how must regulations work, isn't? Big government and big big business are joint winners in this game. The market, however, loses.

Posted by: T. Greer at May 19, 2010 9:12 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Certainly can't disagree with you. The only type of cartel or monopoly that is sustainable is one with government backing. Otherwise, there's too much potential for competition. Not always actual competition, but the potential for it: even if there's only one seller, it has to remain competitive so that someone else doesn't enter into the market.

The Fairness Doctrine is being talked about, and with this BS from Sustein, it's imperative that Americans refuse to shut up. QandO reidentified itself a while back as an "online magazine" to get around FEC regs, which was disappointing to me. Blog or not, "Congress shall make no law" seems pretty clear, no? I'm an advocate of uncodified liberty, but my point is that even playing by their own rules, they're wrong.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at May 20, 2010 1:03 PM

Deleterious Anthroprogenic Global... Cooling?

Those of us who lived through the '70s and actually remember them (refer to the discussion of recreational drug use below) recall the dire predictions. Pollution was causing artificial cloud cover that would shade the earth, thus causing global cooling. The next Ice Age was just around the corner. Then came along Al Gore and the doomsday scenario du jour (no pun intended) became global warming.


Well, we've apparently come full circle. Dr. Don Easterbrook of Western Washington University now believes that we are in for a period of global cooling.

“Rather than global warming at a rate of 1 F per decade, records of past natural cycles indicate there may be global cooling for the first few decades of the 21st century to about 2030,” said Easterbrook, speaking on a scientific panel discussion with other climatologists. This, he says, will likely be followed by “global warming from about 2030 to 2060,” which will then be followed by another cooling spell from 2060 to 2090.

It is important to note that Dr. Easterbrook indicates that this is part of the normal pattern. But don't tell Congress - they've got important Cap'n Tax legislation to pass while the time is still ripe.

Hat tip: 20th Century Fox, the owner of this picture, from "The Day After Tomorrow."

Note: Speaking of recreational drug use, while he has no personal knowledge, The Refugee suspects that the above picture is best viewed while on acid.

But jk thinks:

What a kook! It just gets hotter and cooler irrespective of SUVs? Like witches run it or something?

For a little more scientific view, catch the most depressing commencement address ever. A few clips of a former vice president might make The Refugeee reach for the meth...

Posted by: jk at May 19, 2010 11:51 AM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Where's my pipe?!?

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at May 19, 2010 12:54 PM

Ding Dong the Witch is Dead

The most satisfying outcome across all parties and ideologies was arguably Democratic Congressman Joe Sestak's comfortable victory over Democrat turned Republican turned Democrat Arlen Specter in the Pennsylvania Senate primary. In defeating the 80-year-old Mr. Specter, voters showed there is at least some limit to partisan opportunism and thus committed an act of political hygiene. -- WSJ Ed Page
Stings a litlle.
112th Congress Posted by John Kranz at 11:16 AM | What do you think? [4]
But pquist thinks:

I just hope that the Dems did not find a stronger candidate for November. It does feel good to have Specter's career ended by the voters, but he would have been a sure loser in November. How strong is Sestak for November?

Posted by: pquist at May 19, 2010 2:10 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

A good point, pq. It will be an interesting battle between pure liberalism and pure conservatism. I don't live in the Keystone state, but I intuitively like Toomey's chances.

BTW, the White House's reaction was quite interesting in saying they "got their money's worth" from Specter. It could not be clearer that they viewed him as simply a useful idiot.

It was also telling to listen to Specter blame everyone and everything other than himself for the loss. He's been spinning and saying whatever he needs to say for so long that he can no longer distinguish truth from fantasy.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at May 19, 2010 2:19 PM
But johngalt thinks:

It will help Toomey that Specter has promised to do everything he can to help Sestak, who ran away from the O-genda. (This promise by Specter also helps to salve the sting - he doesn't care what happens or who wins, so long as it's not Toomey.)

Posted by: johngalt at May 19, 2010 2:33 PM
But jk thinks:

Sad to say you're right, pq, we discussed this a little last week. And, yes, we are celebrating a Democratic Senate seat in November.

But virtue is its own reward sometimes, n'est ce pas?

Posted by: jk at May 19, 2010 3:46 PM

May 18, 2010

Drawing The Prophet

I have not been able to contact my Muslim friends about "Everybody draw Mohammed Day" and confess I was suaded by SC and Terri's appeals to my Better Angels.

But Nick Gillespie has a powerful post today on why Reason will be participating (they will publish their contest winners. I will link and likely grab a respectful image or two.

Compelling, no?

And at the heart of the liberal project is ultimately a recognition that individuals, for no other reason than that they exist, have rights to continue to exist. Embedded in all that is the right to expression. No one has a right to an audience or even to a sympathetic hearing, much less an engaged audience. But no one should be beaten or killed or imprisoned simply for speaking their mind or praying to one god as opposed to the other or none at all or getting on with the small business of living their life in peaceful fashion. If we cannot or will not defend that principle with a full throat, then we deserve to choke on whatever jihadists of all stripes can force down our throats.
Our Draw Mohammed contest is not a frivolous exercise of hip, ironic, hoolarious sacrilege toward a minority religion in the United States (though even that deserves all the protection that the most serioso political commentary commands). It's a defense of what is at the core of a society that is painfully incompetent at delivering on its promise of freedom, tolerance, and equal rights. It's a rebuttal to the notion that we should go limp in the clinches precisely because bullies and bastards can punch or blow us up.

John Stossel's show that night will be "on free speech and Islam."

But johngalt thinks:


Especially, "jihadists of all stripes" i.e. Muslim, Venezuelan, North Korean, Progressive...

Posted by: johngalt at May 19, 2010 2:37 PM

More Doctor Galts

Sadly, I am souring on all my Central American locations for our new hospital.

But word comes of potential staff. As they are already in Texas, they won't have as far to relocate.

Texas doctors are opting out of Medicare at alarming rates, frustrated by reimbursement cuts they say make participation in government-funded care of seniors unaffordable.

Two years after a survey found nearly half of Texas doctors weren't taking some new Medicare patients, new data shows 100 to 200 a year are now ending all involvement with the program. Before 2007, the number of doctors opting out averaged less than a handful a year.

“This new data shows the Medicare system is beginning to implode,” said Dr. Susan Bailey, president of the Texas Medical Association. “If Congress doesn't fix Medicare soon, there'll be more and more doctors dropping out and Congress' promise to provide medical care to seniors will be broken.”

But, jk, they aren't leaving medicine -- just government medicine. Check your calendar.

Hat-tip: @Heritage

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 5:03 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

"Who is John Galt?"

"This famous rhetorical question rings through Ayn Rand's best-selling novel as the people's anthem of despair in depressed economic times. Set in the future, the novel follows capitalist magnates as they battle looters, strikers, and the impending ruin of the United States' economy. The romantic and intellectual relationship between Dagny Taggart, the heroine, and John Galt, whose identity as the leader of the strike is eventually revealed, carries the novel to its climax.

This novel, controversial when it first appeared in 1957, purports Rand's objectivist philosophy that the individual is free to pursue his or her own happiness without bowing to God or society. Objectivism in action upholds full laissez-faire capitalism as the only philosophy that can protect humankind's freedom to think, to be inventive, and to live productively."

One correction: No longer set in the future.

Posted by: johngalt at May 19, 2010 2:57 PM

Barone Wins Bradley Prize

Congratulations to AEI’s Michael Barone, who has just been named a winner of the 2010 Bradley Prize. This prestigious prize is awarded by the Bradley Foundation to individuals who exemplify the foundation’s core values: “promotion of liberal democracy, democratic capitalism, and a vigorous defense of American institutions.” -- American

Not a Jazz Guy Today

The Rolling Stones' new label releases a deluxe, remastered "Exile on Main Street" with ten bonus tracks.

Break out the heroin!

Hat-tip: @baseballcrank: Wow, the remastered Exile on Main Street sounds fantastic. really fixed a lot of the original's murky audio.

UPDATE: Mercy! Being a snob is fun and all, but I have rejected 80% of the music that fueled my youth (and most of my music career). But, damn, "Exiles" is a fine record. The remastering really puts a little air around it. And several of the extra tracks and alternate takes are very strong. I'm on my third run through and give it five stars! Warning, the iTunes package is $20, but if you had a passing taste for Exiles I think you'll be happy with it. I’m fifteen again.

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 3:50 PM | What do you think? [3]
But johngalt thinks:

iTune? Where can I buy the LP?!

Posted by: johngalt at May 19, 2010 2:59 PM
But jk thinks:

A sagacious man once told me "click through..."

There's a standard remastered 18-track CD, a double-vinyl edition and two deluxe issues-a double-CD edition set to retail for around $17-$20 and a super deluxe boxed set containing two CDs, a DVD, two vinyl discs and a book, which will retail for $125-$150. In the United Kingdom, iTunes will release a digital version of the deluxe "Exile" package, featuring exclusive video content.

An "audiophile's release" has to be available on vinyl these days. Persnally, I did my time with wax and ain't goin' back..

Posted by: jk at May 19, 2010 3:21 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Doh! And here I thought they didn't make LP's anymore...

You got me!

Posted by: johngalt at May 20, 2010 10:58 AM

Quote of the Day

UPDATE: Here’s a video produced by [Rep. Mark] Souder’s office in which the congressman explains his passion for abstinence-only education. The woman interviewing him in the video . . . is his mistress. -- SWAT FREE, from Radley Balko
111th Congress Posted by John Kranz at 11:44 AM | What do you think? [0]

May 17, 2010

Better Late Than Never, Nino!

Ilya Somin is not a big fan of the Comstock decision. It's an interesting post, a bit over my pay grade in parts, but I really appreciated this:

I also agree with most of the strong critique of the majority opinion in Justice Thomas’ dissent (joined by Justice Scalia). Scalia’s support for Thomas’ position in this case suggests that he may be having second thoughts about the very broad view of the Necessary and Proper Clause that he embraced in Gonzales v. Raich.

One can hope. I have great respect for Justice Scalia but have never come to terms with his vote in Raich. My lefty friends use it to point out that the Conservative wing of SCOTUS are no less "interpretive," they just have different goals.

Reading Somin's piece, I'd say Comstock certainly does not shut the door on a successful ObamaCare® challenge. I think that has been overstated.

SCOTUS Posted by John Kranz at 7:35 PM | What do you think? [0]

More on White Castle

I added this as an update to the post below, but that wasn't cathartic enough.

Let me get this straight -- you're assessing an extra fine if I give a job to a poor person? I guess if you accept that it's okay to fine an employer for providing a job to anybody, that only makes it a bit weirder.

More from NRO

UPDATE: Unintended consequence of side effect: Now you have to tell your employer your family income! Privacy anyone?

Under the new law, health insurance premiums charged by employers to employees must not exceed 9.5% of their household income. As many as 38% of employers may be at risk of violating the unaffordable coverage provision, [a Mercer] study concluded…

Mercer partner Tracy Watts said, “Lawmakers did not take into account that employers don’t have access to information on employee household income. Employers question how they are going to get that information and…what happens if an employee’s total family income changes during the course of a plan year?”

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 4:14 PM | What do you think? [2]
But Keith Arnold thinks:

"Before we offer you this job, how much is your family household income?"

I've got four words for you: DON'T ASK, DON'T TELL.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at May 17, 2010 6:28 PM
But jk thinks:

They have to know, to see whether they need to pay the extra fine for hiring a poor person. And a new hire at White Castle is rarely in a strong position to exert his inner Lysander Spooner.

We have discussed some dumb gub'mint things on these pages, but this is quickly climbing to the top for me. Astonishing.

Posted by: jk at May 17, 2010 6:44 PM

Quote of all Eternity

We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, -- Speaker Nancy Pelosi
I'm confidant in the timelessness because this quote opens two stories today. Both James Taranto and the Washington Examiner Editorial Page see fit to open columns reminding readers of this curious phrase.

Taranto references Senator Patty Murray's concern that "An obscure part" of the law restricts abortion.

"Implementation of this reform should be about increasing access to health care and increasing choices, not taking them away," said Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., a member of the Senate leadership. "Health care reform is not an excuse to take rights away from women."

Taranto provides the inconvenient truth that her vote for cloture cleared the biggest hurdle to enact this bill as law. Dang.

And the Examiner uses to the Speaker's words to highlight what happens when you read Section 1334, pages 97-100,

That section gives the U.S. Office of Personnel Management — which presently manages the federal civil service — new responsibilities: establishing and running two entirely new government health insurance programs to compete directly with private insurance companies in every state with coverage for people outside of government.

Quoting the new law, former OPM director Donald Devine notes that it makes the OPM boss a health care czar, with power to set “‘profit margin premiums and other such terms and conditions of coverage as are in the interest of enrollees in such plans.’ That’s open-ended. You can do anything.” Dan Blair, another former OPM director, calls the new program “nothing but a placeholder for the public option.” Indeed, the OPM head is also given the authority to “appoint as many employees” as needed to run the program, and to spend “such sums as may be necessary” to establish and administer it.

Huh. Public option, abortion restrictions -- if only there were some way to find out what was in a bill without enacting it into law! You'd think Madison would have thought of that.

UPDATE: Don't tell Harold and Kumar! White Castle analyst points out perverse mechanism against hiring poor people. You really can't make this stuff up!

On second thought, I think "Kumar" (Kal Penn) should be told after all.

The actor will be part of the White House Office of Public Liaison, which is run by Obama senior adviser Valerie Jarrett. Penn will be primarily involved in dealing with Asian American and Pacific Islander communities and the arts community.

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 3:27 PM | What do you think? [0]

Does anybody read anymore?

Last week the Attorney General of the United States was asked if he has read the Arizona immigration law that he had said could result in people being "picked on" because of their appearance. The law that so concerns him and his boss that they are reviewing it for openings to a federal legal challenge. The law he says may have consequences "we have to try to avoid at all costs." Uhhh, no sir Representative Poe, I haven't.

"I've just expressed concerns on the basis of what I've heard about the law. But I'm not in a position to say at this point, not having read the law, not having had the chance to interact with people are doing the review, exactly what my position is," Mr. Holder told the House Judiciary Committee.

I wonder if he takes his case to the Supreme Court, will the Justices make their rulings without reading the "unfortunate" law too?

UPDATE [May 18]: Homeland Security Secretary (and Former Arizona Governor) Napolitano hasn't read the law either.

I guess she has more important things to spend her time on, like telling reporters the law is "misguided." From the same story: "Holder said he plans to read it before determining whether it's constitutional." No word on whether Napolitano plans to read it before refusing to cooperate with Arizona authorities on implementation.

Quote of the Day

Congress is moving to enact far-reaching changes in the financial regulatory system. We need far-reaching changes. The problem is that we don't need many of the specific far-reaching changes we're about to receive. --Harvey Pitt
To be fair, Mister Pitt was not my favorite guy when he headed the SEC. But this is a good quote, and I do not hold a grudge.
111th Congress Posted by John Kranz at 12:37 PM | What do you think? [0]

Drug War vs. Real War

Our foray into militarized SWAT raids quickly devolved into an interesting discussion on drug laws. I'm all for it.

But back to the original question of the suitability of using paramilitary tactics on US citizens, I have to link to (those hippies at) Reason. Radley Balko gets a letter from a "US Army officer, currently serving in Afghanistan." I'll cede some selection bias in that he is writing to Reason Magazine, but this officer suggests that rules of engagement are far stricter in a war zone fighting suspected Taliban than in Missouri fighting US citizens who have a Constitutional presumption of innocence:

For our troops over here to conduct any kind of forced entry, day or night, they have to meet one of two conditions: have a bad guy (or guys) inside actively shooting at them; or obtain permission from a 2-star general, who must be convinced by available intelligence (evidence) that the person or persons they're after is present at the location, and that it's too dangerous to try less coercive methods. The general can be pretty tough to convince, too. (I'm a staff liason, and one of my jobs is to present these briefings to obtain the required permission.)
Oh, and all of the bad guys we're going after are closely tied to killing and maiming people.

Hat-tip: Instapundit.

UPDATE: Balko is cutting out the middleman and guest blogging at Instpundit this week. I fear It's going to be a long week for the conservatives around here. Y'all might want to join Glenn and take the week off...

War on Drugs Posted by John Kranz at 12:05 PM | What do you think? [3]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Rather than a critisism of our SWAT tactics on innocent, peace loving, salt-of-the-earth drug addicts, I think this is an indictment of our idiotic rules of engagement ever since Korea.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at May 17, 2010 2:11 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Agreed, BR. It sounds to me like our boys in Afghani could use a few of Obama's missile-carrying "surveilance" drones that the CIA's been flying next door in Pak. They don't seem to require quite as much oversight before blowing things up.

Posted by: johngalt at May 17, 2010 2:45 PM
But jk thinks:

Expected and generally agree.

And yet I'd highlight the efficacy of the Army's raids, using tactics appropriate for civilian law enforcement.

Posted by: jk at May 17, 2010 3:13 PM

May 14, 2010

Egoism, Self Interest, Capitalism

The Internet segue machine delivers.

First, Professor Mankiw relates Ben Bernanke's telling an anecdote about Abraham Lincoln.

I am reminded of a story about Abraham Lincoln. According to the story, Lincoln was riding with a friend in a carriage on a rainy evening. As they rode, Lincoln told the friend that he believed in what economists would call the utility-maximizing theory of behavior, that people always act so as to maximize their own happiness, and for no other reason. Just then, the carriage crossed a bridge, and Lincoln saw a pig stuck in the muddy riverbank. Telling the carriage driver to stop, Lincoln struggled through the rain and mud, picked up the pig, and carried it to safety. When the muddy Lincoln returned to the carriage, his friend naturally pointed out that he had just disproved his own hypothesis by putting himself to great trouble and discomfort to save a pig. "Not at all," said Lincoln. "What I did is perfectly consistent with my theory. If I hadn't saved that pig, I would have felt terrible."

Then Jay Richards expounds on Capitalism and Egoism. Like me, he is comfortable with a Randian (yes he used that word, not just me and Whittaker Chambers) morality of self interest but worries that it is a tough sell in a Judeo Christian country.
I’m not of course saying that there’s only one way to defend capitalism. I’m not saying that an egoist can’t mount a coherent defense of capitalism. But I am saying that if we want to provide a persuasive moral defense of capitalism to people who doubt its virtues, we need to appeal to the moral principles that most people actually hold. If, to defend capitalism, we have to invert the moral intuitions of 95 percent of the skeptical target audience, then we’re in serious trouble.

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 6:02 PM | What do you think? [5]
But johngalt thinks:

Jay Richards: "fallen human condition." Strike one. Call yourself a sinner if you like but my free will is not an objective sin.

Premise: "In fact, egoism contradicts the moral traditions and intuitions of the vast majority of Americans, especially those influenced by the Judeo-Christian tradition." In short, for now, I disagree.

"When capitalism is framed in this way [egoism, selfishness] it fits the stereotypes of its critics." But by criticising egoism, Richards legitimizes those stereotypes. He is as wrong as are capitalism's critics.

Richards over simplifies self-interest and claims that "concern for the interests of others" requires self-sacrifice. Bullcrap. Thanks to JK's seque, Lincoln proves it.

Richards clings to a vision of the Judeo-Christian tradition that imposes unearned guilt upon the productive in a direct parallel to the egalitarian claptrap of the Progressives. It is not the "moral intuitions" of Americans that must be inverted, but the moral misdirections that have and continue to be perpetrated by Jay Richards, et. al. The slow-motion collapse of the worldwide welfare state house-of-cards is doing most of the heavy lifting. Those of us who understand the reasons simply need to explain them.

How am I doing so far?

Posted by: johngalt at May 15, 2010 2:25 PM
But jk thinks:

Rockin' man! Top of the charts, but I expected no less.

Seriously, your points are well made and taken, especially your opening line. But I always bristle at the heavy lifting. Okay, I am going to share my personal philosophy with you, but first you have got to forget everything you know and disregard everything you believe. Hello? Hey I'm not done yet! Why are you walking away?

I generally use some variant of the Lincoln line. Now that I can safely if apocryphally invoke our 16th President, I'll start quoting that verbatim.

You might bristle at the comparison of belief to tactics, but it's similar to my not banging the drum on legal crack and hookers. Fight at the margins. Win at the margins.

Posted by: jk at May 15, 2010 2:55 PM
But johngalt thinks:

No need to disregard everything you believe, just unlearn that BS about "Jesus wants you to sacrifice for your neighbor." But then, Glenn Beck is doing a fine job advocating along those lines, and on a far bigger soapbox than mine.

The Lincoln story is a good anecdote for showing how self-interest overlaps with concern for others. But how to make the connection from that to capitalism? Is it too much of an assault on tradition to say, "Charity is a business for those with the means to give, not for those who've first stolen those means?"

I keep wanting to quote one of Jesus' lines from 'Jesus Christ Superstar'

"Surely you're not say-ing,
We have the re-sourc-es,
To save the poor from their lot?"

Posted by: johngalt at May 16, 2010 10:48 AM
But jk thinks:

Dude. I'll quote Marx and Engels before I quote Andrew Lloyd Weber! Eeeesch!

Actually, the quote that comes to mind is from a local new-agey guy on TV that I used to watch in the 1980s. "Doctor Fred" Vogt used to preach aggressive pursuit of success because "you can't give from an empty cup." Not the denouncement of Altruism you'd like, but I think it puts it in the proper place.

It's not Jesus, though an overwhelming majority of the folks we're likely to meet were raised Christian, it is every religion and virtually every non-Randian philosophy in the world. My friend's daily Gandhi quotes, new ageism, progressivism, Joseph Campbell mythology, the plotline of every novel ever written except for five (I keep a mental list), every school play -- all tout the virtues of sacrifice.

A good friend of this blog has shared many parallels I missed between Christianity and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It's inescapable and deeply ingrained.

Getting past that is philosophical heavy lifting.

Posted by: jk at May 16, 2010 11:32 AM
But johngalt thinks:

True dat. OK, so what is at the margin for us?

Sacrifice is a virtue. (sic)
Theft is a vice. (agreed?)

None of the value systems you've cited address the internal inconsistency which permits the latter to enable the former. Christianity, at least, has "do unto others ..." but for the most part, I don't believe most of the people we're likely to meet actually THINK about this inconsistency.

I'd like to promote two ideas:

- Redistribution by government is no less theft than redistribution by burglary.

- Helping others or "sacrifice" in modern parlance has no universal reward. Each of us derives our own reward consistent with our individual value system. Forcing everyone to sacrifice by a particular means selected by a majority amounts to spiritual intolerance. This is the opposite of progress or enlightenment.

Posted by: johngalt at May 17, 2010 3:06 PM


"I will not tolerate more fingerpointing or irresponsibility," Obama said in the White House Rose Garden, flanked by members of his Cabinet.
Fingerpointing was pretty good when the Administration was digitally suggesting BP's culpability. But now that some fingers are pointing toward the Obama Administration...well, it's time to stop. Pafreakingthetic.

Partisan hackery aside, I suggest "Permitgate" should be soft pedaled by the GOP. I'd rather continue domestic production than whack at the President.

But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Didn't you know? The spill is Bush's fault.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at May 15, 2010 5:49 PM
But jk thinks:

Ten years of "cozy relationships" with oil companies...

I suggested that proponents of domestic drilling and restricted Executive Power should be cautious about "Obama's Katrina" slurs. Well and good, but a Kudlow guest admitted that that really hits a nerve in the West Wing and the Administration is greatly perturbed.

So, if it's working... Obama's Katrina! Obama's Katrina!!!

Posted by: jk at May 17, 2010 1:25 PM

Those Green Jobs Keep a Comin'!

Hire one guy to mess it up, hire another to fix it! Awesome

Sheltering Arms Senior Services won a contract worth $22.3 million in stimulus funds to weatherize homes of low-income families in Houston, but a new report from Texas Watchdog reveals the work performed was so shoddy that 33 of 53 homes will need to be fixed.

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs! If Bastiat had known about this, it would have changed everything! (HT: Instapundit)

But stakes thinks:

Seems like a proximate expression of the Keyensian concept of hiring some people to dig holes, and another crew to fill them in, no?

Posted by: stakes at May 14, 2010 11:53 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Uh, "23 of 53 homes," implying there were 53 homes total? That's over $420K per home. In Houston, uh, doesn't that buy entire homes of quite nice size?

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at May 15, 2010 10:27 AM
But jk thinks:

@Stakes: Yup, or my favorite:

I was reminded of a story about one of the late Milton Friedman's trips to India. Upon arriving, he was escorted by the Indian Finance Minister to his meeting. Along the route, they came upon a large crew of men digging roadside ditches using only shovels. Friedman asked his companion why they weren't using backhoes and other equipment, which would eliminate the back-breaking work and significantly increasing productivity. The Finance Minister explained that the Indian government was trying to provide jobs for all its citizens, and that digging by hand allowed them to employ more people. Hearing this, Friedman responded that if the Indian government was trying to employ more people, they should have them dig with spoons.

Posted by: jk at May 15, 2010 12:09 PM

Whenceforth Thou, EU?

JK has charted a rosy future for the Euro currency, but five years ago the National Intelligence Council predicted something different if they failed to reform the opulent welfare state.

But jk thinks:

Not sure I said "rosy future" but I (intellectual David) did contradict Robert Samuelson (intellectual Goliath)suggesting past successes.

Posted by: jk at May 14, 2010 4:10 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Perhaps a misleading synopsis of your post, but you did give them advice that would "preserve" the Euro and force PIG states to clean up their act. I'd call that rosy. (And your title suggested you were mapping the Euro's future...)

The purpose of the link was to document that grownups have seen the welfare-state train wreck coming for some time now. Choir, meet preacher.

Posted by: johngalt at May 15, 2010 1:45 PM
But jk thinks:

Fair cop, guv! Seeing a future for the common currency might put me in the "rosy scenario" camp now that you mention it.

We can compute, Perry, but:

a) it is not cost free. I spend a gob of time converting Euros and pounds to dollars for accounting purposes;

b) I'm not sure we can effortlessly exchange even though computation is cheap. You’re visiting France and would like to hop over to Spain -- do you exchange paper at the train station? Do you trust your credit card company to give you the most advantageous conversion?

c) From Maastricht to now, the Euro has provided stability as nations like Ireland could outsource their central banking to Trichet.

So yeah, put me down for "Rosy." They might need to kick some or all of the PIGS out, but I hope they do not devolve into Deutschmarks, Francs, and Shamrocks (or whatever the Irish currency was).

Posted by: jk at May 15, 2010 3:16 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

a) I never said it was cost-free, only that "exchange rates aren't much of a hindrance, if any, to trading partners." These days, if you're spending a lot of time on exchange rates, something's wrong.

b) So before the euro, the French and Spanish did not visit each other's nations? Or did the euro really increase mutual tourism?

Even where tourism has increased (supposedly Slovakia), it benefits the tourism industry at the expense of everyone else. It's the same old collectivist game of distributing costs so the irresponsible few can benefit.

I tend not to bring too much cash in my international travels, because from personal experience, exchange kiosks don't give significantly better rates. Wads of cash also tend to attract the attention of pickpockets and customs agents. So, I tend to withdraw money at ATMs for lesser expenses, and my credit card companies give me quite competitive rates. Exchanging paper money might save a few cents here and there in the end, but it's not worth my time to realize that benefit.

c) Are you serious? Having the ECB determine Ireland's monetary policy is just about the last thing Ireland wants. Ireland now has no choice but to go along for the ride, and its leaders by now are looking with envy across the Irish sea. The Bank of England, thankfully, retains sovereignty and can rescue itself.

The ECB alone will spend (read: print) a trillion euros to buy eurozone public debt, in an attempt to defend the euro's value. Oh, excuse me, there's a chip in my windshield, so I'm going to fix it by smashing it in.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at May 15, 2010 6:50 PM

Dude, I Think This Might Be The Guy!

Those are the words of Allahpundit, but I am in. He says 2016, I could be talked into 2012.


From the same post:

Elsewhere today, thanks to [Gov. Chris] Christie’s support, the Jersey state senate pushed through a school voucher bill over the objections of the teachers union. Quote: “Sen. Raymond J. Lesniak, D-Union, the committee chairman, then ordered the hearing held on the Annex steps in front of hundreds of cheering private-school students who had been bused in to rally for the measure.”

President Wilson moved to the Presidency after a year as N.J. Governor. Just sayin'...

2012 Posted by John Kranz at 11:28 AM | What do you think? [4]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:


Posted by: Boulder Refugee at May 14, 2010 11:42 AM
But jk thinks:

I've watched it three times. The Journal Ed Page has been singing his praises on tough legislation, but that clarity and courage are a sight to see.

Posted by: jk at May 14, 2010 12:12 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Five ... TEA-Party ... Stars.

But he gave away the politicians not-so-secret decoder ring. "I think they've had enough of politicians, who make them wonder. 'Cause you know most of the time why they make them wonder, Tom? They make them wonder so they got an escape hatch." I'm not sure the GOP is ready for this sort of frankness.

Posted by: johngalt at May 14, 2010 3:24 PM
But jk thinks:

It remains my hope that, with the right State party delegates, we can cram this honesty down the GOP's throats as they kick and scream. If not, there is no second chance (well, unless Yoda knows of another...)

Posted by: jk at May 14, 2010 4:05 PM

Little l Poll

Enjoyed Stossel last night. Not only is it interesting, but one gets to see print journalists and pundits that are rarely on TV. He has folks from Reason and Cato on and I have been able to see Matt Welch, Veronique de Rugy, and last night James Surowecki from the New Yorker (I even learned how to pronounce their names; yeah, I had Matt Welch right).

Last night was a call to legalize gambling. I don't want to over summarize an hour show but he hit the popularity of poker, the power of prediction markets (Surowecki's "Wisdom of Crowds"), the regressive nature and horrible odds of State lotteries, government incompetence that the State of New York loses money at bookmaking, and -- Dearest ThreeSourcers -- he even got in a John Stuart Mill quote.

All of which got me wondering whether the rest of libertarian cant is accepted around here. I guess I am guilty of the whole thing. Prostitution, gambling, drugs and porn might all be very bad things. I find prostitution and pornography deeply dehumanizing, I am completely missing the gambling gene, and the only drugs that interest me anymore are rouge treatments for MS.

But I don't think any of these have been helped by prohibition. A quick glance through the free weekly newspaper suggests that prostitution has not been wiped out. Yet it has been made dangerous to both the buyer and seller.

Bans on gambling (except the State suckers bet!) have kept American businesses out of a multi-Billion dollar industry and closed a VFW in Texas.

Porn has been protected on first Amendment rights. We have decided that our rights outweigh our distaste (huh, imagine that).

So ThreeSourcers I give you the magic legislative wand, do you make any of these legal? Or increase the penalties?

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 10:18 AM | What do you think? [6]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

As JK tantilizingly dangles the bait, The Refugee, like a hungry and slightly stupid trout, gradually rises until...

I am willing to let gambling and prostitution be State's rights issues. I would further say that the Feds have no business regulating Internet gambling across state lines. I can play a few games of rigged "chance" and walk away before jeopardizing the grocery money. These days, my limit is pretty much $20 on an Avs or Broncos game and that's about it. The vast majority of gamblers are not addicts and there is help for those who are.

Can a woman be a prostitute and a good mother? Probably. Whether one sleeps around and gets paid for it or not has little impact on the morality of the action either way. Sleep-and-run (absentee) fathers are a much greater scourge on society in my opinion.

Narcotics still are not victimless crimes in my mind, despite Perry and JK's reasoned arguments. And the correlation to abhorrent behavior and drug use impacting others is too high to dismiss. But we'll save that for another thread.

I would not vote for legalizing prositution in Colorado and regularly vote against the expansion of gambling. But, I am willing to shrug and let majority rule.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at May 14, 2010 11:07 AM
But jk thinks:

I've been pretty reliably against Colorado gambling referenda. They all seek to expand State Lotteries or subsidize the Mafia in Blackhawk. It's Crony Libertarianism, where the well connected get to make billions and the local VFW is still subject to a SWAT raid on charity night.

Posted by: jk at May 14, 2010 11:58 AM
But johngalt thinks:

OK, I'll play, but in yes/no fashion:

Prostitution - YES
Gambling - OK
Drugs - I'm willing to deal on pot.
Porn - YES (Can I hedge and say no kid stuff?)

Posted by: johngalt at May 14, 2010 7:43 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Once upon a time, I believed in the "state's rights" nonsense. Then I realized the big problem with "reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

So it's up to a state to determine that you can be someone's legal property? The federal government can't infringe upon your right to keep and bear arms, but your state can?

The federal government can't just seize your property without "just compensation," but the city of New London and the state of Connecticut can.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at May 15, 2010 10:35 AM
But jk thinks:

There's a great section of Robert Bork's "Tempting of America" about the importance of the Constitution's being understandable to laymen. The wicked beard who would send blacks to separate lunch counters and women to back alleys uses this importance as an argument for a textual interpretation -- that it will not require an "expert" to interpret.

I cannot square that with 14th Amendment Incorporation. Readers of this blog will know that I am interested in Constitutional issues. I think highly enough of my intellectual gifts that I should be on par with said average interested layman.

And yet, I cannot get my head around incorporation. Maybe McDonald v. Chicago will give me a good lesson, but I don't get it. No, Colorado cannot permit slavery but Illinois (perhaps) can outlaw firearms.

At the end of the day, Perry, Federalism’s advantages are more pragmatic than philosophical. Why not let South Carolina and California do things differently if they are not core freedoms as enumerated in the Constitution?

Posted by: jk at May 15, 2010 3:31 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:
There's a great section of Robert Bork's "Tempting of America" about the importance of the Constitution's being understandable to laymen. The wicked beard who would send blacks to separate lunch counters and women to back alleys uses this importance as an argument for a textual interpretation -- that it will not require an "expert" to interpret.
That's the thing the Constitution does have going for it: it's pretty clear, even if you oppose the strong central government it creates.

Bork is the same idiot who says he can't find the right to privacy in the Ninth Amendment, which is his argument against sodomy. For all his blathering, he doesn't understand that it almost always comes down to property rights: if it's your private property, you have all rights to dictate how it's used -- or not used. So you absolutely do (that is, should) have the right to segregate. Is it morally wrong to tell people of a certain skin color that you won't serve them? Perhaps, but it's your own property. The greater wrong is to force someone to trade with people he doesn't want to interact with.

You might ask, what about public schools? But there shouldn't be any. They should be private, and then all issues of "segregation" or "discrimination" disappear.

Remember that the civil rights movement wasn't about forcing

No, Colorado cannot permit slavery but Illinois (perhaps) can outlaw firearms.
And there's another example of how ridiculous the system can be. Rights are rights, regardless of the political jurisdiction. They're not "Constitutional" or "civil" rights. They existed before men made laws or even dreamed them up.

I've argued with liberal idiots who say, "If you don't like the laws, then go start your own country." That's a cop-out argument. Why should my neighbors have the power to force me out, whether it's a state, county or town? I'm not talking about Amish who don't wish to interact socially with me, but neighbors who care about me only in what tax monies I can "contribute."

At the end of the day, Perry, Federalism’s advantages are more pragmatic than philosophical. Why not let South Carolina and California do things differently if they are not core freedoms as enumerated in the Constitution?
And where does this "pragmatism" get you? Do you really believe that rights are different just because you cross a border?

Utah can restrict most alcohol sales to state-run liquor stores, while New York forbids direct sales of alcohol. Hooray for federalism?

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at May 15, 2010 8:40 PM

May 13, 2010

PA Water Cooler Comes Out for Specter!

Sad to say, I've had the same thoughts...

This is something to worry about. Pat can whip Arlen, but Sestak is the new boy on the block and isn’t saddled with a lot of the anti-incumbent animus that hurts Specter. He can plausibly portray himself as an agent of change. That can be decisive in the Fall. Most people are not going to vote for a conservative like Toomey because of the principles he represents. They will vote against the incumbent because they are fed up with the government in general and Pat has been on the Pennsylvania stage for a while. He’s not the fresh young face he was six years ago.

Pennsylvania Posted by John Kranz at 5:51 PM | What do you think? [3]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Specter is dead man walking, politically speaking. Recent sound bites caught him repeatedly addressing Democratic audiences as Republicans. They guy sounds absolutely senile, almost enough to make me feel sorry for him. Almost. They guy is actually quite pathetic in his blind ambition for office and total lack of any principles.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at May 13, 2010 6:29 PM
But AlexC thinks:

Greatest political ad..... ever?

Posted by: AlexC at May 13, 2010 8:39 PM
But jk thinks:

Up there with the best ac!

We all want to see him get clobbered, I'd just prefer that it was in the General by Rep. Toomey.

Posted by: jk at May 14, 2010 11:50 AM

Another Day

"Another wrong-door drug raid terrorizing an innocent grandmother"

An elderly Polk County woman is hospitalized in critical condition after suffering a heart attack when drug agents swarm the wrong house. Machelle Holl tells WSB her 76-year-old mother, Helen Pruett, who lives alone, was at home when nearly a dozen local and federal agents swarmed her house, thinking they were about to arrest suspected drug dealers.

I should refrain from the topic until I've read the Prohibition Works section of Wikipedia, But you cannot expect me to let this one slip.

Hat-tip: @ariarmstrong

UPDATE: Polk County Police say No Raid. And present a very jg-ish look at the contretemps.

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 2:09 PM | What do you think? [16]
But jk thinks:

No doubt, jg, that the good folks at Reason are spinning stories a bit to advance their preferred policy. Man, I hope The Weekly Standard and The Nation never catch on.

I will stand with them, because they are up against a foe that over-emphasizes the dangers and addictiveness of drugs as they over-celebrate the successes of interdiction. And, brother, the foes are funded in large part by United States Tax Dollars.

Will somebody tell me the difference between the comical "Reefer Madness" and the current PSAs of "Don't try Meth Not even once. BOOM! You're instantly a whore and a thief! I think they were done by the same people.

We have been aflutter with SWAT raids for a week. Radley Balko -- and Glenn Reynolds -- have been covering them for years, trying to get somebody to listen. One viral video and here we are.

But I cede your point. My difference with Penn Jilette is that he seeks to make drugs, prostitution, gambling and porn not only legal but accepted and cool. I will stick with a little John Stuart Mill and ask that you let me keep sovereignty over my own body.

Posted by: jk at May 14, 2010 10:17 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

"Not entirely convinced, as there remain plenty of stills in the south and there is robust black market for alcohol and cigarettes to avoid the tax."

By the way, you answered your own question.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at May 14, 2010 10:18 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Sovereignty over one's own body is a principle I fully support but one which fails whenever one indulges in substances (alcohol included) which completely disable the faculty of reason. Anyone who's been drunk enough not to remember first-hand events knows exactly what I'm talking about.

Posted by: johngalt at May 14, 2010 3:08 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

OK, JG, but if someone's drunk and isn't harming anyone, so what? There are plenty of people who are completely sober and are still among the most dangerous drivers, the most vile swindlers, and the filthiest liars.

One of the most despicable people I've ever had the misfortune of knowing doesn't drink or do drugs. While bashing Christians, she'll brag about living a "decent" life, though her hypocrisy and constant lies became evident after knowing her for a little while. She used to paint eggs for art shows and Ren fairs, lamenting to me that she made less than $10K a year and couldn't afford new shoes for her daughter. Apparently a day flipping burgers to take her daughter to Payless was beneath her, though she'd go online every night for hours. One day in those hard times, though, she bought a brand spanking new computer! The last I heard was that she got a job at some government park.

My point is that using alcohol and drugs do not necessarily make someone "bad," nor does a person need any physical substances to be "bad" or lacking in reason. So you punish a person for the harm he does to others, not to himself.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at May 14, 2010 3:49 PM
But johngalt thinks:

PE, I'm concerned about the member of the subset of substance abusers that DOES harm someone while completely unconscious of his actions. When we attempt to hold these people accountable for their actions we get the "insanity" defense. But the victim is still injured (or dead.)

And the potential victim who tries to protect himself is essentially dealing with a Zombie.

Posted by: johngalt at May 17, 2010 7:25 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

The easy let the punishment fit the crime. Stoned or drunk, you're going to fry if you kill someone. If you knowingly consumed alcohol or toked up, then did something that killed a person, I personally think there's no better example of the legal concept of "depraved indifference to life."

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at May 17, 2010 10:10 PM

Must See TV!

James Surowecki on Stossel tonight!

Television Posted by John Kranz at 1:58 PM | What do you think? [0]


Mike and Brooke are back in the 'house!


"Damn Your Eyes"

Question of the Year

No, not a new ThreeSources franchise, but I like Tim Cavanaugh's style:

Why Isn't the Government Hiring Short Sellers?

'Cause when we put them all in jail, who's going to tell us the market is going to crash?

It is a seriously magnificent piece accompanied by a seriously evil photo of Senator Dodd (that must've takes some time -- probably a Photoshop!)

Former Paulson analyst Paolo Pellegrini -- who is best known for providing information to the Securities and Exchange Commission and for somehow being rich -- discovered where the biggest bubbles had grown and which were in the process of blowing up. His bets against these bubbles, of course, turned out to be right.

Pellegrini figured all this out using information that was readily available to anybody who was sufficiently motivated. You would think somewhere in the United States government there might be such motivated people. After all, we have an SEC, a Federal Reserve Bank, a Treasury Department, the formerly government sponsored entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the Census Bureau, many data collection and analysis agencies, and too many congressional committees. All of these entities have the stability of the economy as part of their job description. Yet all of them combined could not manage your money as intelligently as one short seller from Rome managed John Paulson's.

The Dodd bill, of course, aims to restrict derivatives. Wouldn't want that information ruining our wonderful capital markets now, would we?
A smarter regulatory approach would be to encourage the creation of these crazy derivatives and complicated bets against the market, because these contain information that the market needs and regulators could pay attention to. At the very least, Dodd's financial regulatory bill should not be doing more to suppress the information that bears, short sellers and other "speculators" provide.

Needless to say, the Dodd bill takes a different approach. It also continues to get worse. Yesterday Senate Democrats stripped out one of the few sensible things in it -- an amendment to wind down the failed GSEs. (If you're keeping score at home, keeping Fannie and Freddie on life support has cost your grandchildren another $40.1 billion just in the last ten days.)

Perfect. (HT -- Instapundit)

But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Michelle Malkin has used that same picture of Dodd, and I believe it's genuine. "Chutzpah" doesn't begin to describe that SOB's attitude in redistributing other people's property and telling them how to behave.

As I've laid out, I believe Goldman and Paulson did wrong. However, this has naturally turned into a huge witch hunt against everyone who uses legitimate investment methods. Speculators and short-sellers and now saboteurs (for last Thursday), oh my!

And yet Congress recently decided that, after all, it doesn't need to be held to the same insider-trading laws as the rest of us. Damn hypocrites. In 2005, a certain senator personally invested $50K in Baxter, then later steered federal money toward it for avian flu vaccinations. It was the junior senator for Illinois.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at May 13, 2010 3:24 PM
But jk thinks:

I think you need a big poster of that picture. Then, whenever a friend discusses benevolent government’s taking over something from the evil, profit-driven, private sector, you can say "yeah, let's put this guy in charge!"

Posted by: jk at May 13, 2010 3:50 PM

Liberty and Privacy


A new lawsuit against ObamaCare® takes a more expansive view of its unconstitutionality.

In the complaint, the material about the interstate commerce power and the tax power is fairly standard. What makes the lawsuit significance is a well-developed argument (subject, of course, to the caveat that a complaint is not a brief) on medical privacy issues. Primarily, that the compelled disclosure to insurance corporations and insurance agents of private medical information (as well as urine or DNA samples and so on) is a violation of Fifth Amendment liberty, and of the constitutional right of privacy. Further, coercing individuals to associate with insurance companies and insurance agencies is a violation of the right of association, a right derivative of the First Amendment, but, as developed in later case law, not at all limited to classic First Amendment associations such as political or expressive organizations.

Hat-tip Volkh via Insty

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 10:31 AM | What do you think? [6]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

When the high court of the land has decreed that homeowners must sell to private companies as the government mandates, is there any hope it will rule we don't have to buy things from private companies as the government mandates?

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at May 13, 2010 3:10 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Oh, and I'd also advise these folks that if they want to argue by the Constitution, they're better off arguing about the 9th and 10th Amendments, rather than "derivative" rights that a court could very well reject.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at May 13, 2010 3:13 PM
But johngalt thinks:

A new line of argument is warmly received, given the revelation on the Stossel page you linked above that has "chance that Obamacare will be ruled unconstitutional because of the individual mandate" running about 10 percent right now.

But what about this "constitutional right of privacy?"

Who are you, and what have you done with my good friend and blog brother JK?!

Posted by: johngalt at May 13, 2010 3:22 PM
But jk thinks:

"Emanations and Penumbra," Brother jg, it's very complicated... heh.

Posted by: jk at May 13, 2010 3:28 PM
But jk thinks:

I'll join with Perry and the well deserved tease on 'privacy" but I think that a Fifth Amendment challenge could be strong. They cannot decide whether it is a tax or a penalty. Force then to choose and then explain how I am not "deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law."

Posted by: jk at May 13, 2010 3:35 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Lemme just bang my gavel here. There, now you've had your due process. It's the law, so give the government its due.

There are just so many legalistic ways to defeat court challenges that I have absolutely no hope there. Republicans for the most part don't have even have the guts to campaign on the one thing: "I will work tirelessly to have this bad law repealed!"

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at May 14, 2010 10:31 AM

May 12, 2010

DIY Post

Disturbingly Interesting Suggestion from Dani Rodrik.

Deep down, the crisis is yet another manifestation of what I call “the political trilemma of the world economy”: economic globalization, political democracy, and the nation-state are mutually irreconcilable. We can have at most two at one time. Democracy is compatible with national sovereignty only if we restrict globalization. If we push for globalization while retaining the nation-state, we must jettison democracy. And if we want democracy along with globalization, we must shove the nation-state aside and strive for greater international governance.

My beloved Habs are in a game 7 right now, but I did not want this link to get away.

Hat-tip: Professor Mankiw

UPDATE: Sorry west-PA friends, but the Canadiens were my team since childhood. Fun to see the habs in a run.

As far as the post, I can only hope that Rodrik is Rong (that's the kind of intellectual commentary that keeps people coming back.) Sovereignty of the Peace of Westphalia style nation-state is challenged by both Democracy and Globalization. But is it truly incompatible?

I posit that the tension between sovereignty, democracy, and globalization might provide a balance for each, along the lines of tripartite government -- limiting the excess of each.

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 7:13 PM | What do you think? [0]

Headline of the Day

All Hail Taranto:

2 Down, 533 to Go

Reading List Nomination

Mike Rosen's 10 am guest today was author Lee Harris, whose most recent book entitled The Next American Civil War: The Populist Revolt against the Liberal Elite might find a welcome place on the reading list of every ThreeSourcer.

Throughout our history, Americans have always challenged the definition of liberty, and this has allowed us to progress as a society. Harris argues that this debate is good and necessary, and that we must take this new populist uprising seriously if we are to defend our founding principles. A masterly and visionary work that weaves current events with philosophical investigation, The Next American Civil War rethinks Americans' most elemental ideas of freedom in order to enable the people of the United States to face the challenges of our times.

Harris has penned other titles that, were I a more prolific reader, I'd likely have read by now. Civilization and It's Enemies explains that historical amnesia leaves the west unprepared to defend itself from the barbarism of al-Qaida (and the sneeringly dismissive review of the book by Publisher's Weekly is reminiscent of the vitreol once reserved for the likes of Ayn Rand). The Suicide of Reason: Radical Islam's Threat to the West carries the theme further and "offers strategies by which liberal internationalism can defend itself without becoming a mirror of the tribal forces it is trying to defeat."

But The Next American Civil War apparently concerns a different threat to western liberal internationalism namely, liberal internationalists.

Here's a link to the audio interview, wherein he even mentions the Woolworth's' Waitresses jk blogged about back in ought-five.

But jk thinks:

Ah, September ought five, happy days! I still had no idear that the Republicans weren't going to usher in some libertarian paradise...

I'm still lumbering through the Presidents but try to give myself one piece of candy per month if I keep up with my medicine. Professor Jeffry Miron's Libertariaism from A - Z is fun. But if there were a quorum who wanted to read this and discuss on these pages, I'm in.

Posted by: jk at May 12, 2010 5:08 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Sounds like a must read. Thanks for the tip, JG!

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at May 12, 2010 6:47 PM

About that SWAT Raid

Not to reignite debate (though I am always here...) but Radley Balko has a magazine-length story on the Colombia, Missouri drug raid discussed on these very pages last week. The video has "gone viral" and we are not the only folks discussing it, though I am so proud of ThreeSourcers of late I'm certain ours was the best.

Balko provides a lot of background for the actual raid and contextualizes it in the growing number of these raids. Here I am again agreeing with the Libertarians I am sworn to destroy (Libertario Delenda Est!), but Balko nails my point perfectly:

Repeat the mantra that we're at war with illicit drugs often enough, and the cops on the front lines of that war will naturally begin to think of themselves as soldiers. And that's particularly true when you outfit them in war equipment, weaponry, and armor. This is dangerous, because the objectives of cops and soldiers are very different. One is charged with annihilating a foreign enemy. The other is charged with keeping the peace.
The officers in that video aren't rogue cops. They're no different than other SWAT teams across the country. The raid itself is no different from the tens of thousands of drug raids carried out each year in the U.S. If the video is going to effect any change, the Internet anger directed at the Columbia Police Department needs to be redirected to America's drug policy in general. Calling for the heads of the Columbia SWAT team isn't going to stop these raids. Calling for the heads of the politicians who defend these tactics and promote a "war on drugs" that's become all too literal—that just might.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:59 AM | What do you think? [11]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Glad you weighed in Perry, because I wanted to pose a scenario to you.

Suppose there's a father that believes in harsh corporal punishment. I don't mean a paddle or a belt, I mean cords, ropes, severe deprivation, broken bones, black eyes, weight loss, etc. He sincerely believes that's the right way to rear a kid. Does the state, or anyone, have the right to intervene? If the guy says, "Your courts are corrupt and coercive and I don't buy into them," does he have a right to opt out of the legal process?

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at May 12, 2010 4:51 PM
But jk thinks:

Brother br asks "[H]ow the children of junkies will be better off after we legalize narcotics?"

Well, Perry beat me to "The cops won't kick down the door at 8:30 PM and start shooting."

I'd've said that I don't see how they'll be any worse, but let's look on the bright side, Brian:

1) They will not be having criminals into their home or have Mom and Dad driving to criminals’ houses to provide them with narcotics. That seems like a plus to me.

2) If their parents require treatment, they may more likely to seek it without the menace of criminality's being attached to their addiction (cf. Billie Holiday)

3) Oh, dude! I so totally forgot #3

4) The cost to Mom and Dad may come down, either preventing Mom & Dad from committing crimes of their own to feed their habit or leaving more money for video games.

5) They could grow up in a free country and learn about rights, responsibilities and consequences.

Posted by: jk at May 12, 2010 4:52 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

OK, one at at time:

1. Decriminalizing something does not necessarily lessen the behavior. Legalizing murder may eliminate murder statistics, but you'll still have killings. Meth manufacturers will not suddenly become savory, upstanding pillars of the community just because they're no longer in danger of arrest. Still not going to be the kind of folks The Refugee will tolerate next door.
1a. If a meth lab moved into the condo adjact to the Taj maKranz, would you shrug and say, "Hey, it's their right" or would you call the cops?
2. OK, I'll concede this as a hopeful outcome. Can't that be solved under the current system, however, by providing "safe harbor" to any user (not seller) who voluntarily commits himself to rehab prior to being busted?
3. What were we talking about?
4. The only thing mom and dad will get is more hits for the buck. As we learned from Ams.. Amster... er., that famous city in Holland, junkies do not get upstanding jobs to pay for their habits. They still commit crime as the fastest, easiest way to get high.
5. Uh huh. Yeah. They have that ability today - how's that workin' out for 'em? Instead, they're truant from school, drop out, have children as teens and become users of some substance themselves.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at May 12, 2010 5:12 PM
But jk thinks:

President Wilson had 14 points; we're getting off easy.

1) I think I was unclear. If Mom and Dad get their stuff from Walgreens, that's better than having dealers in the home or in other ways closely associated with the child.

2) I think it is hard to seek help and it is only made worse when you are confessing to criminal behavior. Would an employer look at drug rehab similarly to alcohol? I suspect not.

3) Man, these Doritos are really, really good.

4) Perhaps we've another fundamental split. I believe in a nonzero number of recreational users who would be happy when Walgreens had a sale on licensed products of reputable manufacture.

5) Like my comparison to gun laws, neglect and truancy are examples of actual crimes that should be punished and could be with police freed up from consensual trade and possession. Plenty of bad parents, the idea that they will get worse without the stalwart tactics of our nation's and localities' best drug warriors is unproven at best.

Posted by: jk at May 12, 2010 5:37 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:
Suppose there's a father that believes in harsh corporal punishment. I don't mean a paddle or a belt, I mean cords, ropes, severe deprivation, broken bones, black eyes, weight loss, etc. He sincerely believes that's the right way to rear a kid. Does the state, or anyone, have the right to intervene? If the guy says, "Your courts are corrupt and coercive and I don't buy into them," does he have a right to opt out of the legal process?
In such a situation, I would hope that his neighbors have the moral fortitude to come over, beat the daylights out of him, and tell him that he'll be impaled with a thousand needles if he beats up his kid again. But neighbors in our "society of laws" can't do that, because they'll be the ones prosecuted with the crime. Meanwhile, the father can get a good lawyer and probably have the charges dismissed, because the police came only after the crime was committed upon the father, and thus they had no probable cause to seize any evidence against the father.

This is assuming that the child doesn't deserve all that. It's practically impossible to think that a child could "deserve" that. But on the reverse, you have a state that sends its agents to seize children who are merely spanked and deserved it. Now, I was punished rather excessively by my father, and for things hardly meriting being whipped by a leather belt until my butt skin was bleeding. But I still believe that some badly behaved children, of sufficient age, certainly can merit a bit of physical discipline.

1. Decriminalizing something does not necessarily lessen the behavior. Legalizing murder may eliminate murder statistics, but you'll still have killings.
But murder has a clear victim. We're talking about victimless drug usage, where people are harming only themselves.
Meth manufacturers will not suddenly become savory, upstanding pillars of the community just because they're no longer in danger of arrest. Still not going to be the kind of folks The Refugee will tolerate next door.
Because meth would be available openly, the scarcity wouldn't give it such big profit margins. You'd have larger-scale, purer manufacturing done at professional plants, rather than someone using a basement setup that could explode anytime.
2. OK, I'll concede this as a hopeful outcome. Can't that be solved under the current system, however, by providing "safe harbor" to any user (not seller) who voluntarily commits himself to rehab prior to being busted?
The current system is more apt to seize the children until they turn 18. And it still doesn't deter parents from what we'd consider to be bad behavior.
4. The only thing mom and dad will get is more hits for the buck. As we learned from Ams.. Amster... er., that famous city in Holland, junkies do not get upstanding jobs to pay for their habits. They still commit crime as the fastest, easiest way to get high.
The Netherlands is also a big welfare state that, even if you're a druggie parent, still gives you money for the sake of your children.

Amsterdam does have a high crime rate, but it's not all by druggies. Organized crime has grown a lot, which is only natural considering that there are only a limited number of hash cafes and brothels. It's again the same situation of a government-limited supply driving up the prices, attracting criminals who are willing to kill each other.

I'm more inclined to JK's belief that with open markets, parents would find themselves with more disposable income, which might result in more drug usage, but overall they'd be spending less than before.

5. Uh huh. Yeah. They have that ability today - how's that workin' out for 'em? Instead, they're truant from school, drop out, have children as teens and become users of some substance themselves.
So the solution is to force people into good lives and acceptable behavior? "You will take good care of your body, or else"?

Forcing people into good lives is what hasn't done any good. Bad people still do bad things anyway. "Judge, what good are your laws? The good people don't need them, and the bad people don't obey them." The threat of legal punishment doesn't work much, either. I knew recreational pot users in college who weren't worried at all. In the unlikely event they were caught, it was just misdemeanor possession. Small fine, no jail time.

But the reason I never tried the stuff myself (never even smoked a cigarette, as a matter of fact) is because I knew it could mess me up, and I didn't need it. Good people don't need laws to tell them how to be good.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at May 12, 2010 9:20 PM
But johngalt thinks:

The Refugee is doing a praisworthy job of advancing the prohibition case, though he's taking multiple hits of late. I just came 'round to pick a couple nits.

"...neglect and truancy are examples of actual crimes that should be punished..." Not with SWAT teams, I trust. But how are these not also the purview of rights, responsibilities and consequences? I'd sooner consent to legal truancy than legal narcotics trade. It's less threatening to the peace and security of my neighborhood.

Posted by: johngalt at May 13, 2010 3:00 PM

May 11, 2010

JK Defends the Euro and Maps Its Future

Blog Brother jg beat Professor Mankiw by at least a day in linking to this Robert Samuelson piece, I agree with the idea of "The Welfare State's Death Spiral."

But I firmly disagree with Samuelson and many others who are piling on the common currency.

Euro coins and notes were introduced in 2002. The currency clearly hasn't lived up to its promises. It was supposed to lubricate faster economic growth by eliminating the cost and confusion of constantly converting between national currencies. More important, it would promote political unity. With a common currency, people would feel "European." Their identities as Germans, Italians and Spaniards would gradually blend into a continental identity.

Strong words from a smart man, but I humbly disagree. The Euro has been an incredible success by many measures. And though it is in peril, the strong members of the EU who use it would be best to continue so to do.

Samuelson correctly identifies anti-growth policies for anemic growth, but cannot calculate whether it would have been worse had they kept Kronas, Deutschmarks, Lira, and Drachmas. The common currency facilitated free trade and free trade is an unalloyed good.

Secondly, currency critics are correct to complain about labor mobility among Eurozone nations, but incorrect to claim that the Euro did nothing to help. We recruited all across Europe for our Ireland-based business and were not the only ones.

Most importantly, the Euro allowed Ireland's low-tax system to restrain tax growth in other EU nations. Suddenly there was a competitor -- and thanks to the common currency, it counted.

No, the Euro did not fix or counteract Socialism. But I think it was a net gain and should be preserved. By making it an exclusive club, which I believe is actually in the Maastricht Treaty. Don't bail Greece out, kick them out! Require and enforce ratios of reserves to debt and debt to GDP. This will force the "PIGS" to clean up their act before bankruptcy. They will be forced to clean house to avoid being dropped out of the Euro club.

I think European Socialism has been a failure. But the Euro (still trading at $1.26 after a massive beating) has been a success by almost any metric.

But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

"The common currency facilitated free trade and free trade is an unalloyed good."

Well, free trade is always desirable, but at what price? For the more successful European nations to bail out Greece and Spain? When you have many different governments and economies, the advantage of different currencies is that exchange rates will reflect in marketplaces how a country is perceived. How would a Greek drachma be doing today against Italian lira?

So don't give too much credit to the concept of a common currency. If Canada and Mexico were to go to the dollar, would that necessarily increase trade? The U.S. and China have done very well, but it isn't because the Chinese peg theirs to ours. (Actually, as I've pointed out on my blog, the Chinese need the peg to keep the yuan from depreciating, not that they need to depreciate the yuan, meaning Schumer and Graham are full of it to accuse China of making their exports "artificially cheap"). So though China has tied their currency to ours, the real factor is that Americans love and can afford all these Chinese-made goods.

In these times of rapid calculation, exchange rates aren't much of a hindrance, if any, to trading partners. The big hindrances are protectionism, whether tariffs and quotas or capital flows. Even before calculators capable of decimal places, people could calculate and negotiate between different currencies. When exchange rates didn't fluctuate as quickly as now, it likewise wasn't necessary to convert currencies lightning-quick.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at May 12, 2010 4:01 PM

Sarcasm Alert!

Maybe there is too much sarcasm around ThreeSources lately. But when you see this, how can you avoid it?

Health overhaul law potentially costs $115B more

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama's new health care law could potentially add at least $115 billion more to government health care spending over the next 10 years, congressional budget referees said Tuesday.

If Congress approves all the additional spending called for in the legislation, it would push the ten-year cost of the overhaul above $1 trillion — an unofficial limit the Obama administration set early on.

The Congressional Budget Office said the added spending includes $10 billion to $20 billion in administrative costs to federal agencies carrying out the law, as well as $34 billion for community health centers and $39 billion for Indian health care.

The costs were not reflected in earlier estimates by the budget office, although Republican lawmakers strenuously argued that they should have been. Part of the reason is technical: the additional spending is not mandatory, leaving Congress with discretion to provide the funds in follow-on legislation — or not.

"Tooth Fairy May be Mom & Dad -- DEVELOPING..."

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 6:52 PM | What do you think? [4]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Unfortunately, the debt will be rolled over and over, so the Tooth Fairy will also be our children, grandchildren and beyond.

As I told a friend who renewed his auto insurance with AIG, it's his daughters who aren't yet of working age, and all his future descendants, who are backing his policy.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at May 12, 2010 4:04 PM
But Jon Green thinks:

Ya i bet the congressional budget office has no idea what it's talking about when they said the policy will save us dozens of billions of a decade. Clearly letting americans get sick and treating when people are in critical condition is how adam smith and god want this country to be. and darn tootin' isn't that comic hilarious!! I mean dinosaurs?? excellent, you really captured the anachronistic b.s. of those hippie-dippie liberals, what the hell do they want progress for?? I've got it sweet right now and I want it staying that way, thank-you very much mr. fix society- hussein- obama!!! Where does he get off?? Helping people is the job of wandering prophets like our lord jesus christ, not some big government jerks! I mean ya jesus said we should treat each other how we would treat ourselves, but come on, i just work harder than poor people - and so i deserve more. It's not my fault their culture and way of life is inferior to mine?

No i don't think government should do anything! why do they keep doing social programs!! just drop all the taxes switch us to a theocracy and await the rapture! it's clearly coming, and guess who won't ascend? I'll give you one guess, it rhymes with Antsy Selosi!

Posted by: Jon Green at May 13, 2010 12:09 AM
But jk thinks:

@Jon: style points for the "rhymes with" ending. Nicely done. Considering the title, I guess style points all around.

Posted by: jk at May 13, 2010 10:17 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I've cited conservativism's tendency to rely on "from God" as an ultimate defense of its moral code as a major flaw. And that morality should be advanced as a secular principle rooted in our nature as reasoning beings. Something tells me this guy is too far removed from reality for even that to bring him around.

Posted by: johngalt at May 13, 2010 2:51 PM


Two moderate professors, two takes on the same story:

N. Gregory Mankiw

Joshua Gans alerts me to a minor brouhaha over Neil Gaiman (a fantasy and science fiction writer) charging a library $45,000 to give a talk. Mr Gaiman apparently understands the concept of opportunity cost (principles number 2 in my favorite textbook). Here is how he explains his fees at his website.

Ann Althouse:
Contact Lisa Bransdorf at the Greater Talent Network. Tell her you want Neil to appear somewhere. Have her tell you how much it costs. Have her say it again in case you misheard it the first time. Tell her you could get Bill Clinton for that money. Have her tell you that you couldn't even get ten minutes of Bill Clinton for that money but it's true, he's not cheap.

A Poll: Neil Gaiman is:
a) a douchebag.
b) an artist.
c) a rational participant in economic reality.

Althouse does not show her cards. But Mankiw seems to be doing well; as of this writing 86% of the poll respondents chose "c."

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

Elena Kagan: Good News for the Right?

It would appear that Elena Kagan's total lack of judicial experience is her greatest asset to Obama. She will not be burdened by trivialities such as the law and Constitution when applying "social justice" to cases brought before the Court.

In a perverse way, however, her presense on the Court may benefit in the long run. She will reliably vote for liberal principles, but she is replacing a reliable vote for those principles anyway, so no net gain for the Libs. Her added value to the Court (from the Left's perspective) would be to attract moderate justices to her way of thinking. But with a total lack of experience as a jurist, she may surely be seen as nothing more than a legal light-weight. Even moderate justices generally care about the law and the Constitution. As such, she may not factor into many decisions.

Wishful thinking? The Refugee has committed worse offenses.

SCOTUS Posted by Boulder Refugee at 3:35 PM | What do you think? [2]
But jk thinks:

The Refugee accurately states my view of Justice Sotomayor. I think President Obama is betting that her charm and her aptitude in faculty politics make her an effective advocate for progressive positions.

Will she be a Frankfurter or Brandeis that truly leads, or a Souter who votes? I think time will tell.

I certainly don't like her positions on Executive Power, but elections have consequences, and I am unlikely to appreciate the jurisprudence of anyone the President is apt to pick. Kagen's a good pick and not worth obstructing.

Reason Magazine points out that a confirmation hearing is a great opportunity to establish clear differences even if votes are not there to derail a pick.

Posted by: jk at May 11, 2010 4:30 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Thank NED the conservatives defeated Harriet Miers! Can you image the Court's direction with her instead of Alito?

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at May 11, 2010 10:42 PM

Quote of the Day

Fannie Mae is the Cal Ripken of bad real-estate deals, reliably pouring taxpayer money into the housing market. Granted, Fannie faces tough competition from its toxic twin, Freddie Mac, which last week announced its own request for another $10.6 billion from taxpayers. -- WSJ Ed Page

I'm About Ready for Metalism

Pass along my apologies to Representative Doctor Ron Paul for my past comments. I might be swinging around.

I've had the unfortunate task of advancing the banner for "fiat money" 'round these parts against principles of liberty and empirical history. All the same, I have thought that just because we suck at it, does not mean it is intrinsically bad. The dual mandate of the Fed and its complete non-independence have forced errors.

But that doesn't mean Central Banking is doomed. Why look at Jean Claude Trichet!

Or don’t. Trichet blinked yesterday, and while the stock market liked it, I fear it proves that a Central Bank can never be independent. And if that dog is to be wagged by the tail of politics, it really is nothing more than "fiat money."

I would still prefer a Milton Friedman computerized FOMC to Gold, but it's game over for central banking. Here's the WSJ Ed Page's take:

In a sense, Europe has decided to TARP itself. German taxpayers have undertaken to underwrite the spending of Southern European governments, with Greece playing AIG, and Portugal starring as Citigroup. Spain, we suppose, is Goldman Sachs. Perhaps it will all work. But our guess is that Germany and France will have a harder time shedding responsibility for the fiscal policies of entire nations than the U.S. Treasury has had selling shares in bailed-out banks.

It was funny to watch my poor Prosperitarian hero last night. Larry Kudlow was happy to see the DJIA go up 400 points, and declare "contagion is off the table, the V shaped recovery continues." And yet, Kudlow also admitted that "we just bailed out Socialism."

UPDATE: Larry's leaning away from the deal in the bright light of day:

Oops. What the European leaders really meant to do with their big-bang, trillion-dollar sovereign-debt rescue was to save the euro currency, not to bury it. But with the cave in by European Central Bank head Jean-Claude Trichet (formerly a hard-money man and closet gold watcher) to use the “nuclear option” to buy up dubious sovereign debt, the euro is likely to keep depreciating.

When central banks buy bonds they pay for it with new cash. That’s almost always negative for currency values. Ben Bernanke bought a ton of new mortgage and Treasury bonds last year, and until the Greek crisis came along, the dollar sunk like a stone. Get ready for more euro declines.

And then you wonder if the European leaders came to save welfare socialism rather than bury it. The mere fact that this rescue package will provide loan guarantees to the very countries that boast the largest welfare states and can’t afford to pay for them probably suggests that the loan guarantees will guarantee more welfarism.

(Hat-tip Jimmy P)

But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Well, I think I said (or should have) that it isn't the paper money itself that's the problem. The real problem is that there's a central authority capable of inflating the supply of money at will, and forcing everyone to use that money. At a family member's retail store, she's legally required to accept these slips of paper that lose a little bit more value every day.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at May 11, 2010 2:46 PM
But johngalt thinks:

WSJ's read is about the same as mine - "Euroland" saw what big-daddy America did with TARP and said, "Hey, we can just press the 'Easy' Button too!"

All of this fiat currency monkey business reminds me of Chapter 1 in Friedman's 'Money Mischief.' If everyone agrees that a giant stone wheel at the bottom of a lagoon (or some number on a fund statement) is still someone's possessed wealth and trades with him on that basis then the wealth is still of value. In other words, if all the world's central banks agree that international exchange rates will stay more or less unchanged then nobody's fiat currency can be devalued without a large-scale return to barter.

I'm looking forward to more informed commentary on this than my own.

Posted by: johngalt at May 11, 2010 3:05 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Well, the other end (fixed exchanged rates, a la Bretton Woods) is just as bad. It's still a government's way of controlling the value of money as it sees fit. Bretton Woods defined all major currencies in terms of gold, and it broke down when other nations drained the U.S. of gold to sell at higher prices in other nations.

If a barter system is the only way for people to deal honestly, then so be it. Eventually people will come up with a common denominator -- something that the willing participants believe has value, not something that a third party tells them to trust has value.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at May 12, 2010 4:36 PM

May 10, 2010

I [Heart] Government!

Perry was sick (hope you're better) It was probably some un-USDA inspected meat or something...

Kidding! But while he was away, a post went off the page in which some commenters directly questioned facets of his governing philosophy. Fairness dictates that I give his comment a wider exposure:

You're confusing "anarchy" with a complete lack of social structure. Most people do, but the two are not necessarily overlapping. Anarchy does not mean throwing pipe bombs, raping and pillaging the weak, or any sort of societal chaos. Anarchy simply means there's no authority that forces people in what and what not to do -- but that in no wise means there's no moral basis for people to use when acting. If neighbors want to get together voluntarily (Bastiat defined law as the common force to protect individuals' rights and enforce justice), then fine, let each person join voluntarily. But when my neighbors decide to form a government so a few of them can profit from building roads at my expense, and the policemen and judges infringe on my rights, where is my opt-out button? The very nature of government is that there's no opt-out: you are as forced into it as anything else. Thus any amount of government is still coercion and hence not true freedom.

In the absence of government, I couldn't possibly be robbed any more than I am today. Every two weeks, I'm regularly robbed of a rather significant chunk of my paycheck that would make Tony Soprano envious. But at least if I defend myself against regular thieves and murderers, my neighbors will understand. With "government," if I defend myself, then my neighbors will say I was at fault for not being a good citizen. "Good citizenship" has been perverted into meaning "giving up your sovereign individual rights to life, liberty and property to the whims of your neighbors."

If I'm the homeowner no one wants to mess with, then by definition no one will want to mess with me, right? Right now the government is the thief that no one wants to mess with, because it guarantees the peaceable citizen will go down while his sheeple neighbors watch.

I also think his position is a good opportunity for small and micro-government folks to ponder true public functions in which we'd consent to be governed.

In your absence, Perry, I got in a little trouble with the law-and-order wing of ThreeSources. I suggested that providing increased authority to the police for drug offenses was a bug and not a feature of narcotics legislation. As a disabled-American, however, I am happy to delegate significant parts of self-defense and order to the local constabulary. Comparative advantage dictates that I have more productive pursuits that being the badass that nobody wants to mess with.

A clear, all but unalloyed good of government is bankruptcy court, with probate ranking highly as well. You cannot privatize bankruptcy court because it must have authority over multiple counterparties, none of whom likely signed on in advance to an arbitrating body. Yet modernity and a prosperous society dictate an opportunity for clearing and forbearance when an individual or organization hits terminal illiquidity.

There was a horrific New Yorker story about a woman in Dubai whose husband had lost it all. She was living in designer clothes in her Range-Rover, which is an amusing summation, but this woman was completely and tragically screwed. She could not leave, find work, sell assets -- until she came up with money.

I've gone further with you that courts in general represent something I don't complain about paying for. I'll whine about outcomes, decisions, and remedies. But the hierarchical, district based court system we enjoy seems like a pretty good buy. How can you have that without government?

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 6:21 PM | What do you think? [8]
But jk thinks:

I was going to hastily and reflexively reply "no." Then I thought it over and I'm going to say "no."

There are elements of government that it would be great to opt out of. Social Security would be my first choice. That would be philosophically fair but unworkable as selection bias would keep most of the self-sufficient earners out and leave the whole thing financed by people who think 1% return is pretty keen.

Maybe you could even pull off an Underwriter's Laboratories style bankruptcy court. But if I throw in my chips and have three subscribing lenders and two not, there is no way to enforce settlement across the board.

But in the end, the social order of bankruptcy court, local police and fire cannot distribute benefits only to those who pay. You can pick and choose on a toll road, but one's fire department money is as much a benefit if your next door neighbor uses it.

Nope, the ticket is to keep doing what we're doing only not screw it up so bad. Real live, limited Constitutional government is worthwhile. The overreach is not.

Posted by: jk at May 11, 2010 11:07 AM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

The Refugee is actually starting to warm up to Perry's theory of anarchy. The Refugee is willing to bet that he has more an bigger guns than Perry, so should there ever be a disagreement about who has what resources...

Although I appreciate Perry's theoretical argument about "opt in", I would characterize this as the Rodney King style of government: "Can't we all just get along?" Sure, as soon as you change the fundamentals of human nature.

I would also equate this style of government to Obamacare: opt in to the insurance when you need it, and then drop it when you're done.

Which speaks to TG's point. It is impractical to have an opt-in rule of law. Inevitably people will opt out when they find it impractical, which would be anytime they disagreed with someone or something. Each individual cannot be the arbiter of the law.

The only practical solution is one where citizens can make changes to the laws, the American system being the closest to perfection so far (but getting more corrupted by the minute). We must all continue to fight the good fight for freedom, even though we occassionally quibble on details.

Waiting for the explosion upon hitting 'enter"...

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at May 11, 2010 12:46 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I think the place I part with Perry is at the distinction between "true freedom" and "complete freedom." Perry said that any amount of government is not true freedom but I think "complete" freedom is a more agreeable term in that instance. Now, can one have "true" freedom without being completely free? I think the preceding comments say "yes."

Now I'll cross swords with jk again. This time over bankruptcy as a "government only" function. If two lenders don't agree to expunge a private debt in return for pennies on the dollar and a 7-year black mark on a credit report then the borrower can settle with the lenders who do agree and remain endebted to those who don't. Those creditors can offer a repayment plan or confiscate his labor in debtor's prison. (It's right there in the fine print.)

Lenders who "subscribe" to bankruptcy forgiveness will have to charge higher rates. Insurers can offer indemnification from debtor's prison up to a set dollar amount for borrowers who choose to sign the contract with non-subscribing (and lower cost) lenders.

You (and no doubt The New Yorker) classed the Dubai woman's story as "horrific" where in reality her creditors likely had greater losses and with less culpability. (You didn't mention her husband's fate but the greatest horror for women in Dubai is subservience to men in every regard.) It is this kind of emotional reaction to individual failures in a free-market that makes the welfare state politically feasible in the first place.

Charity is a business for those with the means to give, not those who've first stolen those means.

Posted by: johngalt at May 11, 2010 3:22 PM
But jk thinks:

Swords indeed. Bankruptcy is not "charity." It is a high achievement of a civilized society.

Yes, you can have debtors' prison or a shylock who takes a pound of flesh. But an orderly, bankruptcy process adjudicated by disinterested parties facilitates investment and risk taking and humanely allows a party to make a partial payment, An occupant of debtors' prison, or an armless victim of a loanshark, or a frozen-account citizen of Dubai cannot better their situation.

Posted by: jk at May 11, 2010 3:53 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

TG: "In theory this is all correct. I have less faith that it will work out this way in reality. Absent a gradual transition, I have trouble seeing one coming without the other." This gets into what BG was talking about: having bigger guns. Yes, people use force against each other. But in any form of society, it is force that also deters and/or punishes people from harming each other.

Look at Detroit, which has plenty of government but never the right kind of force applied to the right people at the right time. I hear that a new bridge was built there, at a cost of millions of dollars, and it was vandalized on the first day. Nothing was done.

JK: I'm not saying courts can't be a good thing, but rather that in your demand for them, you are requiring that I give up some of my property to support something I neither want nor need. If you want bankruptcy and probate courts, you're welcome to them. I have never prevented you from paying for them yourself. But by what right can you and my other neighbors demand a piece of my property for something I don't want to be a part of? I'm not harming anyone, so no magistrate needs to convict me. I'm not using any of those resources, so I'm not a free rider.

If I don't participate in courts, then this is what will happen: my creditors then have every right to seize part of my property to satisfy the debts I owe them, and absent a will, my heirs will have no choice but to take equal shares of what I leave them. It's quite simple with the application of a little imagination. You justify the machinery of government by saying, "But we need this, else how can society survive?" Quite easily, once you think about it. We as a country are just so used to the legalistic contraptions of two centuries that most of us can't think of anything beyond.

Now, having been the victim of two magistrates in two separate jurisdictions, both of whom threatened me with jail when I did nothing wrong, whose clerks flatly lied to me our about me (then smugly sat back and said "Well it's not our fault"), you'll pardon me if I want nothing to do with "courts." I prevailed in both instances, because "the law" was on my side, but more importantly, righteousness was on my side.

There are lots of UL-equivalent courts today: arbitration forums. Employers like to require little clauses through which the employee waives the right to sue in public court, instead agreeing to binding arbitration. Here's where that would have benefited me. Rather than being sued by someone, who unbeknownst to me at the time was friends with the judge, we'd have settled on arbitration (or at least mediation). At that point you propose your own choices, do a little background check on who's been suggested to you, and work out an agreement. If you've chosen fair, impartial people of good character, and the other party seems to be choosing his friends in the town, then you can surmise that something's up.

"Yet modernity and a prosperous society dictate an opportunity for clearing and forbearance when an individual or organization hits terminal illiquidity."

This is what is claimed. Actually, bankruptcy courts are a way for irresponsible people who get themselves (foolishly and/or intentionally) into trouble, then want the easy way out of their debts. The very concept of Chapter 13 is BS, because it's a court forcing creditors to accept repayment on what someone else decides.

Even an honest and responsible person can still find himself with bad luck, but he still should try to work out a payment schedule with his creditors. There's no need for government. And if you're worried that you'll lose your house, have your wages garnished, etc., well, then you should reconsider taking on debt in the first place.

"There was a horrific New Yorker story about a woman in Dubai whose husband had lost it all. She was living in designer clothes in her Range-Rover, which is an amusing summation, but this woman was completely and tragically screwed. She could not leave, find work, sell assets -- until she came up with money."

Well, I first have to take that story with a grain of salt, since it's from the New Yorker. So I checked that story, and here's what happened: she and her husband were spendthrifts who bought two houses and racked up a lot of debt. He counted on resigning from his job so he could get a payout, but it wasn't as much as he thought. The law prevented him from skipping out on his debts, and in the end he was sentenced to six months in prison. Meanwhile, the wife was reduced to living in their Range Rover, borrowing from friends.

I would have asked you how this requires courts, or any other part of government, to save her. But notice this about the story: it was the government that imprisoned her husband, not a government that refused to save her, or that a lack of government was the reason she's living in her Range Rover. Her husband got her into the situation, and why does that require everyone else to pay taxes to support a court system?

She had "friends," but none who took enough pity to invite her to stay? Lend her money for a plane ride home to Canada? And it seems to me that she had enough assets to sell: she could have sold her car. Even if it's at a massive loss, she needs just a few thousand bucks for the airplane ticket back home, waving goodbye to that schmuck who ruined her life.

I'll get more into the whole opt-out thing later, but for now, here's something for JG: if there's a government, I'm being forced into it. My neighbors are demanding that I join this compact. What if I'm not committing any crimes, not using any of their services?

Note that Bastiat said that men made laws -- not government -- to defend life, liberty and property. "Laws" meaning rules of conduct. The reason governments come into being is someone refuses to give up his life and/or property to the whims of others, so others (whether a single ruler, a minority who have power, or a majority who vote) form a "government" to legitimize their control.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at May 12, 2010 7:08 AM
But jk thinks:

You rock, Perry, thanks for the thoughtful comment. I'll spend some time thinking.

Posted by: jk at May 12, 2010 11:02 AM

Headline of the Day

Obama taps Kagan to give court historic 3rd female -- AP
Historic! Three! All at the same time! What a visionary! Where did I put that AP Barf Bag?

Quote of the Day

So Kagan may well be the perfect nominee for him. She's a cerebral academic who fits Washington's definition of a centrist: She's likely defer to government on both civil liberties and regulatory and commerce issues. And though libertarians allegedly share ground with Republicans on fiscal and regulatory issues and with Democrats on civil liberties issues, neither party cares enough about those particular issues to put up a fight for them. Which is why Kagan sailed through her first confirmation hearings, and is widely predicted to sail through the hearings for her nomination to the Supreme Court. -- Radley Balko
SCOTUS Posted by John Kranz at 5:02 PM | What do you think? [0]

A Lot to Like Here

Nothing substantive, but pretty engaging. Hat-tip: Instapundit

Side point. I don't troll the briny depths of the Internet for foul commentary, but is there any place worse than YouTube? If you click to watch it on the YouTube site, the first dozen or so comments are anti-Semitic, personal, and foul mouthed. You have to get quite a ways down the page before someone mentions the content.

I have a few Larry Kudlow, President Reagan, and Speaker Pelosi videos up at my old (pre-coffeemusiclive) account, and every few weeks I'll get an email of a vulgar rant on one side or the other, but I do not recall ever getting an interesting, respectful of even germane comment on any of them.

SCOTUS Posted by John Kranz at 4:47 PM | What do you think? [7]
But jk thinks:

Not spontaneous order, tg, "Tragedy of the Commons."

Posted by: jk at May 10, 2010 6:21 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

Mate, those two concepts can be used to explain the same thing. Nobody said that commons was bereft of spontaneity. Or order, if you give it long enough.

Posted by: T. Greer at May 10, 2010 9:54 PM
But jk thinks:

Not as I use them. Spontaneous order emerges from the pricing mechanism when property rights are protected. The tragedy of the commons emerges where there are no property rights.

I love the "free" YouTube service, but the comment section lends itself to pollution.

Posted by: jk at May 10, 2010 11:22 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

Eh, fair enough, you can define things as you will. Can't hold a candle to that.

But you know, property rights are hardly organic. They are planned human inventions, backed up by un-Spontaneous organizations. Like bankruptcy court. ^_~

Posted by: T. Greer at May 11, 2010 12:46 AM
But jk thinks:

In my defense, I don't think I am calling a tail a leg. Those terms have currency in the liberty-theory-economics community pretty much as I use them. I may be accused of using a jargon definition over common english usage.

Property rights are part of birthright liberty. Tell John Locke and Thomas Jefferson that they are a social construct. Where they are not protected, say in email bandwidth or YouTube comments, no mechanism imposes order on the resource's use.

Posted by: jk at May 11, 2010 11:14 AM
But T. Greer thinks:

No, you are totally fine, JK. It is only my fault that I have read more works on evolution than I have read books by Hayek, thus I generally work with a different set of assumptions when I hear here the word.

And to be clear - nobody says the things that make liberty possible are not social constructions. That something is made by man does not make it less valuable.

Posted by: T. Greer at May 11, 2010 11:03 PM

Islam's Nowhere Men

In this very important column by Fouad Ajami he explains how the Times Square Bomber's motiviations are not as simple as Mayor Bloomberg's health care hate or the misfortune of his home mortgage being foreclosed.

This is a long twilight war, the struggle against radical Islamism. We can't wish it away. No strategy of winning "hearts and minds," no great outreach, will bring this struggle to an end. America can't conciliate these furies. These men of nowhere—Faisal Shahzad, Nidal Malik Hasan, the American-born renegade cleric Anwar Awlaki now holed up in Yemen and their likes—are a deadly breed of combatants in this new kind of war. Modernity both attracts and unsettles them. America is at once the object of their dreams and the scapegoat onto which they project their deepest malignancies.

No suggestion is made of how the struggle may be ended, however. Just let me add one more tactic that won't work: More welfare. (And this last message is as important as any of the rest.)

Calling all 'conomists

Robert Samuelson describes The Welfare State's Death Spiral:

The welfare state's death spiral is this: Almost anything governments might do with their budgets threatens to make matters worse by slowing the economy or triggering a recession. By allowing deficits to balloon, they risk a financial crisis as investors one day -- no one knows when -- doubt governments' ability to service their debts and, as with Greece, refuse to lend except at exorbitant rates. Cutting welfare benefits or raising taxes all would, at least temporarily, weaken the economy. Perversely, that would make paying the remaining benefits harder.

OK, sez I, then cut welfare benefits enough that paying them becomes easier. That's not so difficult to imagine, is it? The "draconian" austerity measures the Greeks have been forced to impose (in order to get the IMF bailout) are an 11% cut in pension benefits and 14% cut in government wages. Please! The Greek government retirement age is fifty-two! Cut their pensions by 50 percent and make them "work" another 13 years. They'll be no worse off than their private sector neighbors.

And to hell with this talk of a "right" to an overseas holiday.

May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

Courtesy of Bing.


Posted by JohnGalt at 1:53 PM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:


Posted by: jk at May 10, 2010 10:34 AM

Otequay of the Ayday

Anyone remember my mention of the Senate Conservatives Fund? It was just before our little foray into drug legalization so I'll understand if you missed it. Here's part of Jim DeMint's endorsement of Weld County (CO) DA and GOP candidate for the US Senate Ken Buck:

"There are certainly other good Republicans in this race," said Senator DeMint, "but I believe Ken Buck is a conservative standout who will fight the establishment in both parties when he gets to Washington."

Music to my TEA Party ears.

"The purpose of the Senate Conservatives Fund is to help elect strong candidates who are overlooked by the Washington establishment," said Senator DeMint. "Ken Buck is one of those candidates, and I'm confident he will win if he gets his message out. My goal with this race is to partner with freedom-loving Americans in Colorado and across the country to help level playing field and give Ken Buck the support he needs to win the primary in August and defeat the Democrat in November. I am not trying to tell the people of Colorado how to vote; I am asking for their help because we need Ken Buck to save our country."

May 8, 2010

Success Has a Thousand Fathers

But I think the Club for Growth can safely crow:

We did it! The Club for Growth PAC defeated big-spending Sen. Bob Bennett today in his bid for renomination by Utah Republicans. It was the first time in Utah history that an incumbent Republican Senator has been denied his party's nomination.

Bennett's defeat also marks the first time the Club's PAC has defeated an incumbent Republican senator. It will set off a political earthquake in Congress.

Bennett's defeat came at the Utah Republican nomination convention this afternoon when Bennett did not even make it to the final ballot, eliminating his chance to run as a Republican for reelection. Under state law, Bennett is also barred from running as an independent.

Bla bla bla, give us some money et cetera et cetera...

May 7, 2010


Terri's Friday Calf Blog is pretty good today...

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 3:47 PM | What do you think? [0]

Picture of the Day

Larry Kudlow showed a clip this week of Pacific Investment Management Co.’s Mohamed El-Erian and all of Kudlow's guests thought he was too pessimistic about contagion. Of course, that was before:

The Markit iTraxx Financial Index of credit-default swaps on 25 banks and insurers soared as much as 40 basis points to 223, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co. The index closed at 212 basis points March 9, 2009. Swaps on Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy rose to or near all-time high levels.

Interesting and concerning. But the accompanying picture of El-Erian in the Bloomberg story was worth a thousand words or two:


I Think it is the Same Thing

I applaud the ThreeSources commentariat for the thoughtful and intelligent discussion on drug laws. Even though you don't agree with me and are clearly a bunch of snarky, redneck authoritarians, I have enjoyed hearing your views.

Here is my problem. It's not about weed for me, it is about the FDA. It is that the government has set itself as the arbiter of what we may and may not buy, sell, and ingest. As Governor Palin might say, "How's that [...] workin' out for ya?"

In May of 2007 two unique cancer therapies for the treatment of prostate cancer and osteosarcoma (a type of bone cancer) came under review at the FDA on the same day. Both the new agent for prostate cancer, Provenge, and the new agent for osteosarcoma, Mepact, had shown the ability to prolong lives to a significant degree. And both drugs were summarily rejected. Provenge and Mepact were tossed back to the companies developing them with the directive to do more clinical studies.

This was easy enough for Provenge, due to the return on the risk of investment possible with a new prostate cancer drug and the large number of men with the disease available for another clinical trial. The Dendreon company, makers of Provenge, worked as quickly as possible to redo their already successful trial. The results of the new trial turned out the same as the original, and the drug was finally approved by the FDA last week.

In the three years that it took to duplicate what was already known, upwards of 80,000 men lost their lives to prostate cancer. This is equal to the number of men killed in combat in the Korean, Vietnam and Iraq wars combined.

The rest of the guest editorial points out that while the one compound eventually was approved (let that word sink in, liberty lovers) the other one could not find enough trial patients to repeat the trial. So the 900 patients with osteosarcoma can simply die rather than take a drug that the government has not "approved."

Citizens or subjects? If I have to ask Mom before I eat anything, I'm not an adult.

Pharmaceuticals Posted by John Kranz at 12:51 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

I don't think so. Experimental pharmaceuticals and illicit narcotics are both "drugs" and the FDA, DEA and FBI are all federal government agencies but the similarities end there. We're all likely to agree that a private "Good Housekeeping Seal" is as much or more efficacious than the federal drug safety bureaucracy but the 28 comments on our little blog are proof of serious disagreement over the "it's just my body" argument regarding "recreational" use of psychoactive substances. In fact, there's an entire wikipedia entry about it (consciously risking another 20-plus comment thread) here.

Posted by: johngalt at May 9, 2010 11:29 AM

Quote of the Day

"[T]hink of what's happening in countries like Spain ... where they’re making real investments in renewable energy. They're surging ahead of us, poised to take the lead in these new industries," declared then-President-elect Barack Obama back in January 16, 2009. -- Ron Baily
A meta-QOTD today, the whole post is superb. (HT: Instapundit)
Oil and Energy Posted by John Kranz at 11:41 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

"And when the subsidies go, so, too, go the much-vaunted "green jobs" that depend on them. Climatewire reports that some 30,000 green jobs have evaporated in Spain. Earlier studies found that it cost nearly $750,000 to create each new green job in Spain's renewable energy sector."

Maybe they can "create" some more new jobs removing the solar panel eyesores.[first comment]

Then there's this: "Prices charged for solar power were 12 times higher than those for fossil fuel electricity." Strange that "free" energy costs so much, eh? I guess it's because of all those subsidies to oil and gas companies. Oh, wait...

Posted by: johngalt at May 9, 2010 9:58 AM


Man, I don't know which is better:

a) Brooke is back in the virtual coffehouse;

b) We are joined by my friend, Mike, with whom I go waaaay back, it was fun.


Jazz, schmazz, here's Randy Newman's "Guilty."

But johngalt thinks:

Never knew (or forgot) Mike was a harpist. Move his mic closer! :)

I always liked the video for Randy Newman's "I Love L.A." (big nasty red-head at my side). It's a sort of antipode to the Beach Boys' 'California Girls.' While the Beach Boys oft misinterpreted song celebrated and revered girls from other places, Newman bitch-slaps the cold, gray metropolises that generally upstage his little burg. Good for Randy. And nice rendition of 'Guilty' here, though my sensibilities are still a little raw for a song that glorifies cocaine "medicine." ;)

Posted by: johngalt at May 9, 2010 12:05 PM
But jk thinks:

Mike plays harmonica, sax, flute, guitar, keyboards and about anything you'd lock him in a room with for four hours.

When the ThreeSources prolegomenon is written, Mike will get several pages. He, Sugarchuck and I played together in high school and he and I were in a band after college. It is unlikely that I would have ever met Johngalt or The Refugee had Mike not found me a position at the wonderland of East Arapahoe and 55th.

We use some simple, spontaneous, unattended setups to record and I make the best of what I get when it's time to edit. A condenser Mike near him did not isolate like I wanted so I had to grab his audio off the camera. You might like next week's. I duplicated the vocal track and blast it for his solo. More cowbell and more harp guaranteed this Thursday!

Posted by: jk at May 10, 2010 10:58 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Doh! I did forget that Mike was in the band with you. (Seems like a different life, long ago...)

Posted by: johngalt at May 10, 2010 3:37 PM

May 6, 2010

War on Drugs

I know many of my blog brothers and sisters think that the consequences of drug use compensate for our loss of liberty as we proscribe them.

I'd ask you to continue to blog friend tg's for a post with embedded video of a SWAT Raid that yielded "some marijuana." The video is a LOT more disturbing than the vulture cuisinart. I wish I had not watched it. But -- as tg says -- we have to.

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 3:38 PM | What do you think? [31]
But jk thinks:

DECEASED EQUINE ALERT: I was thinking that good folks around here had listened respectfully, but that I was unable to get my point across in over a dozen messages. Time to quit.

But a good friend of this blog emails a link to Randy Balko's WSJ piece. It would be unfair to the readership were I not to pass it along.

Also, from the same source, Megan McArdle's "Quote of the Year:"

"Do we really want to live in a country where when someone busts into your house at night you're supposed to assume they might be cops?"

Posted by: jk at May 8, 2010 12:02 PM
But jk thinks:

Okay, call me a liar; I am not quite done yet. Brother br suggests that the Constitution provides a good guide between freedom and social order. I could not agree more.

One of the best of many good parts in Amity Shlaes's "The Forgotten Man" is when the editor of Good Housekeeping is present at a White House dinner and the newly envisioned FDA is brought up. Quickly seeing that this will supersede the private "Good Housekeeping Seal," she is silent for the balance of the meal. I suggest that was a dark day for liberty and expect some portion of the 80,000 prostate cancer victims who died might join me.

Like many things in the Constitution, what a feller chose to eat was pretty much his decision until The New Deal. Until Wickard v Filburn, I can't imagine anyone ever thought that you could not grow something in your garden or cook it on your stove and not have the Federal authority to eat it.

But then we were citizens before the Roosevelts. The plural tweaks my only sympathetic friend on this thread, but I am sworn to truth-telling.

Posted by: jk at May 8, 2010 7:30 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Wow, no guff for equating druggies in the public square with zombies having no civil rights. Nice!

But I'm not here to quibble, I'm here to agree. Balko's piece is a good case for reducing the use of paramilitary tactics in people's homes, but not for legalization. The use of no-knock raids should be scaled back. Every meth house is still a target due to their many environmental hazards. Maybe they don't need to be no-knock, but they are in-bounds for the SWAT boys. And I would grant a knock-and-enter warrant for credible evidence of distribution of the virtueless drugs enumerated earlier, but not pot. No warrants for pot. Catch the stoners when they're out in public but leave them alone on private property.

Interesting how the sleepy little Columbia, MO news stories about this are collecting five or six hundred comments each. Seems like a national legalization group has made the case a cause celebre.

Brother TG's "happy map of botched raids" doesn't show the Columbia contretemps. Instead it shows five questionable raids over the last 23 years, mostly in KC and St. Louis.

I've read Mark Thompson's further comments and some is reasonable, but not all. The social problems associated with drugs are not comparable to those with prostitution. And the "community-destroying" and "widespread" violence associated with drugs are not a result of vigorous law enforcement of drug crimes.

Posted by: johngalt at May 9, 2010 10:56 AM
But jk thinks:

Well, we can tussle on immigration and legalization. But if I have learned anything from Instapundit, let's not get into Zombie rights...

Some good stuff in the Wikipedia link, thanks. I of course, gravitated to the "Cognitive Liberty section and dug this John Stuart Mill link:

'Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign' and 'The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant.

Fairness dictates that I share a link from a good friend of this blog (okay, it rhymes with "took her puck"). Speaking of twenty comments, it opens the topic of addiction as a disease -- whether addicts are "born" or "made."

I'll spend more time with Wikipedia but am unconvinced that anything trumps the "cognitive liberty" argument. I am separately but also unconvinced that the addicted son in sc's link, or the neighborhoods plagued with gang violence were improved at all from prohibition.

Posted by: jk at May 9, 2010 12:00 PM
But johngalt thinks:


The failure of alcohol prohibition had me convinced that drug prohibition was also not a good answer, until I read the "pro" discussion of that tactic (at the wiki link).

You and I both can hang our hat on the JSM quote: "...prevent harm to others." Like the man said, reasonable people can disagree.

Powerful story in that took-her-puck link. Whether marijuana was a gateway drug or not there's no denying it was in the picture. So, has "H" hurt only himself with his drug use?

Posted by: johngalt at May 10, 2010 3:09 PM
But jk thinks:

Thirty one. I think it was emailed in the sprit of disproving the "only harming yourself" line.

You both may be selling, but I am not buying. Let's fire up the Ouija board (every Randian has one hidden in the closet somewhere...) and ask John Stuart Mill whether he considered "Mom will be sad." I suggest the whatchamacallit will drift over toward "no." Is the government suddenly empowered to tell me I cannot do anything my Mother wouldn't like me doing?

Clearly the delimiter is direct harm to others. One might extend that to a meth lab because of volatile and noxious chemicals. But it does not apply to substance's use.

BTW, besides the light wine versus moonshine argument, many big-l Libertarians assert that the crystal meth epidemic is a function of media hyperventilation and that it is neither as prevalent or as addictive as the PSA's claim.

I still owe my opponents a thoughtful read of the entire Wikipedia entry. Today is all Elena Kagan all the time, with a littlw work thrown in. But I will.

Posted by: jk at May 10, 2010 4:08 PM

DeMint Goes for the Pass

In the high-stakes, low-speed world of national politics few individual politicians risk bucking their party organization until it is clear they're being left behind (see "Crist.") A refreshing contradiction to this rule is South Carolina's Senator Jim DeMint.

DeMint's Senate Conservatives Fund has endorsed four other candidates with contested GOP primaries, but only two of them are at odds with the national party. In Colorado, he's backing Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck instead of former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton. In California, he's endorsed Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, instead of former Rep. Tom Campbell or former HP CEO Carly Fiorina. His support is likely more likely to affect the result in Colorado.

DeMint seems to hear what the 24% of America that calls itself "TEA Party" is saying. There's a decent chance that insight will take him around the outside and past better known GOP wannabes for the 2012 presidential nomination. And the thing to watch for 2010 will be, are the GOP candidates members of the DeMint or the McCain caucus.

2012 Posted by JohnGalt at 2:58 PM | What do you think? [0]

See, It Was Not Health Care

Silly Mayor Bloomberg thought that the Times Square bomber was "upset about health care." Jeez, what a dope. The real issue was aid to homeowners.

This guy is like string theory for the media: He brings together the seemingly incompatible stories that drove the past decade. That said, you of course don't want to speculate on why someone "really" did something. The hearts of men are opaque, and motives are complex. But it's a reminder that foreclosures generate an enormous amount of misery and anxiety and depression that can tip people into all sorts of dangerous behaviors that don't make headlines but do ruin lives. And for all that we've done to save the financial sector, we've not done nearly enough to help struggling homeowners -- Ezra Klein.

From WSJ's "Notable & Quotable."

War on Terror Posted by John Kranz at 12:18 PM | What do you think? [5]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

The (dominant, liberal, mainstream) media is fixated on the idea that foreclosure with the cause and radicalism was the effect. The Refugee postulates that it's the other way around. Because he was radical and knew that he was going to blow up a bomb and flee the country, he concluded that there's no reason to continue paying his mortgage. Moreover, those mortgage payments came in mighty handy when paying for trips to Pakistan.

Sometimes it takes a simpleton like The Refugee to see the obvious.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at May 6, 2010 2:14 PM
But jk thinks:

Any o' you simpletons out there care to explain how this guy "is like string theory?" I don't speak "Klein."

Posted by: jk at May 6, 2010 2:29 PM
But johngalt thinks:

String Theory is one of several competing theories which attempt to integrate our understanding of all of the forces in the universe, from the largest to the smallest, from the scale of galaxies to the scale of subatomic particles (among other things). The analogy is the goal of integrating every known fact and idea in physics or, in Klien's case, in media.

Now, br, I think the evidence shows that TSB's first ambition was to enjoy the fruits of western civilization, from college education to well paying career, home ownership, family, plasma TV, etc. The big fly in the ointment was when he couldn't sell said home and, being worth less than he owed (or for whatever precise reason) the bank forclosed. He contacts relatives in Pak about moving back there and makes a few visits, sends his family ahead, and someone, somewhere along the line, gets the bright idea to "teach America a lesson" as his parting shot at the "land of plenty" which failed to provide for his every need.

I trust you saw my musings along these lines yesterday [fourth comment.] The difference between my speculation and Klein's is that I lament that government efforts to "provide" for us all led to the market failure, while Klein thinks government just isn't meddling enough.

Posted by: johngalt at May 6, 2010 2:51 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

JG, yes, saw that comment as well as the one about cynicism getting pretty deep around here!

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at May 6, 2010 4:27 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Sarcasm! :)

Posted by: johngalt at May 6, 2010 8:52 PM

Quote of the Day

But not in her circle. To Ms. [Contessa] Brewer, these are simply the sentiments of a thinking, caring, decent, fair-minded person. If you react otherwise, you’re a squinty-eyed Bubba who thinks this here country started goin’ downhill (spit) since we started lettin’ Veetner-mesians (spit) come in and run restaurants. Not saying they don’t make good rice because they do ‘n all, but this all here’s a Christian nation. And ah say that in full reee-cog-nition of the Deism of some Founders, inasmuch you can place Deism outside of the bound’ry of angnostercism and link it to yer monotheistic assumptions. -- James Lileks
"Veetner-mesians" only Lileks. Hat-tip: Instapundit

May 5, 2010

Life Imitates Brother AC

Blog Brother AC:

I understand they will still be checking tickets at the door.

Instapundit's "Tweet of the Week:"


You decode, but I'm stickin with my bro.

Immigration Posted by John Kranz at 5:54 PM | What do you think? [3]
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Free admission, plus hot dogs, beer and nachos underwritten by the paying fans.

I am soooooooo going to plagiarize this - pure genius.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at May 5, 2010 7:15 PM
But AlexC thinks:

I'm surprised my liberal FB friends didn't jump all over me for being a racist.

Posted by: AlexC at May 6, 2010 12:12 AM
But jk thinks:

Liberals on Facebook?

Posted by: jk at May 6, 2010 10:29 AM

Ding Dong, the Witch is Dead

She's not only merely dead, she's really most sincerely dead!

It is a great day for liberty!

WASHINGTON – Rep. David Obey, a leading liberal Democrat and chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, intends to retire at the end of his term this year, Democratic sources said Wednesday. It is another blow to Democrats defending their majority in an election season of voter discontent.

UPDATE: The WSJ Ed Page is not really crying either

First elected in 1969, the 71-year-old Mr. Obey is one of the House barons who have steered the Democratic Congress to its current level of public esteem. As Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, he turned the stimulus into a 40-year spending wish list that focused on transfer payments like Medicaid and food stamps and created few new jobs.

Mr. Obey has long been more liberal than his northwestern Wisconsin district, which is home to middle-class Catholic deer hunters. He's kept his seat with union support, a populist streak and by outspending opponents, but this year he faced a serious challenge from Sean Duffy, the 38-year-old Ashland County district attorney who has raised more than $500,000. Mr. Obey may be retiring before the voters do him the honor.

112th Congress Posted by John Kranz at 12:37 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

The Island of Evil Dictators must be getting pretty crowded with all of these democratic politicians pulling out their golden parachutes.

Posted by: johngalt at May 5, 2010 2:14 PM

Market Mechanisms Will NOT Be Tolerated!

Jeff Jacoby hits it out of Fenway on charges of "price gouging" after the water main break.

“We have begun hearing anecdotal reports of the possible price gouging of store-bought water,’’ Coakley announced Sunday. “Businesses and individuals cannot and should not take advantage of this public emergency to unfairly charge consumers . . . for water.’’ Inspectors were being dispatched, “spot-checks’’ were being conducted, and “if we discover that businesses are engaging in price gouging,’’ she warned, “we will take appropriate legal action.’’

Do yourself a favor and buy two copies of Russ Roberts's "The Price of Everything." Read one and give both away.

Roberts and Jacoby both know that without "gouging" buyers will have incentive to hoard and there will be shortages. No water is always better to these demagogues than water at a high price.

Yet there is never a shortage of foolish politicians. Hat-tip: Mankiw

But johngalt thinks:

You mean, I don't have a RIGHT to buy water at yesterday's price forever?

(Has anyone else noticed the sarcasm level on these pages is rising faster than the water level in the Grand Old Opryhouse?)

Posted by: johngalt at May 5, 2010 2:06 PM

Or, Maybe Not

Watching FOXNewsSunday last week (required viewing for the VRWC), Chris Wallace ended the interview with Sec Janet Napolitano by forcing her to disavow interest in the upcoming Supreme Court vacancy. My old Senator and current Interior Sec Ken Salazar was not afforded the same dignity.

I got to thinking that I should start a Salazar SCOTUS boomlet. President Obama gets to make "an Historic nomination of the first Hispanic with male body parts." And we get a nominee who is likely better than anything else we'll see from this Administration.

Not sure it's not still a good idea, but Insty links to some cold water. Brian J Noggle reads the Secretary’s comment that "“Our job basically is to keep the boot on the neck of British Petroleum" and is reminded of Orwell:

But always— do not forget this, Winston— always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face— forever.

Still, we could -- and probably will -- do worse.

SCOTUS Posted by John Kranz at 10:54 AM | What do you think? [0]

May 4, 2010

WOW! He's MidEastern!

Never would have seen that coming.

WSJ has an interesting "portrait:"

"He was very disappointed that he wasn't getting his house sold," Mr. DelVecchio said.

Igor Djuric, a broker who showed Mr. Shahzad the 1,356-square-foot home he eventually bought, said he remembered that Mr. Shahzad was quiet about himself, but was openly critical of President Bush in the aftermath of the Iraq war.

"I didn't take it for anything, since a lot of people didn't like Bush," Mr. Djuric said, "but he was a little bit strong about expressing it."

The only thing strange about Mr. Shahzad that next-door neighbor Brenda Thurman could remember was his habit of going jogging at night wearing all black. He told her he didn't like the sunlight, she said.

At home, he sometimes wore ankle-length traditional Muslim garb, said Ms. Thurman, who lived next to Mr. Shahzad for more than three years, but he wore a shirt and tie to work. He would leave the house in the morning in a burgundy Nissan and come home in the evening.

War on Terror Posted by John Kranz at 6:26 PM | What do you think? [4]
But johngalt thinks:

I was certain it was a Teabagger, or at least someone who didn't like the Healthcare bill.

Posted by: johngalt at May 5, 2010 2:18 AM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

OK, so he didn't like Bush. But now that Obama is president, shouldn't it be kumbaya instead kaboom-bye-you?

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at May 5, 2010 11:11 AM
But jk thinks:

Yeah! I thought everybody was going to love us!

Actually, a few years of this President and we'll have to worry about British, Australian, and Israeli terrorists...

Posted by: jk at May 5, 2010 11:45 AM
But johngalt thinks:

The picture of this man that is coming into focus is not so much a militant religious zealot, but a frustrated young householder who fell prey to the housing bubble. It isn't so much President Bush he should blame, or even the Wall Street bankers who forclosed on his home. It's presidents Carter and Clinton, the Community Reinvestment Act, ACORN and Congressman Barney Frank. Had they not distorted the mortgage industry into an unsustainable vestige of a lending mechanism then the recent market collapse would likely not have happened. Then he and his young family could have remained "fat, dumb and happy" as it were and going about their peaceful everyday lives enjoying Everybody Loves Raymond and Friends.

Chances the talking heads will make this connection? 1.66E-24.

Posted by: johngalt at May 5, 2010 3:12 PM

Maybe I Should Have Taken Up The Banjo...

Always have been proud to be a direct descendant of Charles Darwin. Yet:

Darwin dynasty's ill health blamed on inbreeding

After Darwin married his first cousin, Emma Wedgwood, they had 10 children, three of whom died as children. Three of the others married but remained childless, suggesting infertility problems. And Darwin himself, who suffered unremitting ill health following his epic trip on The Beagle, was the product of an "inter-Wedgwood" union, his maternal grandparents being third cousins to each another.

Hat-tip: Instapundit

Links I Didn't Click

AT CAR LUST, it’s Minivan Madness!

D'oh! I just did! To make the link work! Dr. Heisenberg, call your office!

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 3:53 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

Ha! "I drove a minivan before minivans were cool!"

Well, maybe they're not yet cool. But they are emminently practical.

Mine looks just like the first photo at the link. I gave $1800 for it. It has all-wheel drive and I've fitted it with Yokohama Geolandar SUV tires. It's perfect around the farm. I call it my "Sport Utility Van." Do people look at me and think "loser?" Probably. But I think they are losers for investing thirty to forty grand of borrowed money in a car they burst a blood vessel in when junior drops his ice cream cone. Besides, if I can stand the pop-culture derision of being a Republican I can easily handle driving a minivan.

Posted by: johngalt at May 5, 2010 2:54 PM
But jk thinks:

That minivan drove us to defend our nation's liberty at the Denver Tea Party! I'm a huge fan of suitable transportation. I am just not going to go to "Car Lust" and drool over pictures.

Now. maybe a collection of toasters...

Posted by: jk at May 5, 2010 3:58 PM

A Line Worth Remembering

Before Mayor Giuliani took to Larry Kudlow’s program to become the Apostle of supply-side economics, I had already had a moment of swoon for Hizzoner. We've discussed his authoritarian history and I am not brining up the argument again.

But I was not the only one who heard this line. John Podhoretz recalls it today, and Ramesh Ponnuru links and excerpts:

[G]overnment officials believe it is their role to provide reassurance even when they cannot do so. And they’re simply wrong about that. The American people are far more sophisticated about these things than those officials appear to believe, and they can be talked to like adults. That was the lesson, in part, of the immediate aftermath of September 11, when Rudy Giuliani simply said that the “number of casualties will be more than any of us can bear, ultimately.” He sugar-coated nothing. And that is the truth of crises and crisis management.

Without question, that was the best thing I ever heard a politician say. All the journalists were trying to feed their headline writers by getting the mayor to suggest a casualty figure on 9/11. Giuliani said "more than we can bear." I can still see and hear it.

Anya, Call Your Office!

John Stossel:

The U.S. isn’t the only country with ridiculous lawsuits. The UK Telegraph reports:

[QUOTE STARTS] A teacher with a phobia over rabbits is suing a 14-year-old pupil for compensation after she drew a bunny on the blackboard. The teacher, from Vechta, Germany, says she was traumatized by the drawing, and claims the girl knew it would terrify her…

"We did it for fun and out of curiosity", one of the girls told a court, adding, "We wanted to see if she would really freak out."

…the teacher is seeking compensation for her terror and her loss of earnings, her lawyer Manfred Bormann told the court. [QUOTE ENDS]

It sounds like a fake news story from “The Onion,” but German papers like Der Speigel also reported the story. My question: will the students sue the school for giving them such a hysterical teacher?

Germany, like most civilized countries (except the USA), has a “loser pays” rule. I’ve argued that “loser pays” reduces the number of frivolous lawsuits. But clearly, it doesn’t eliminate them.

No, but she's got a little skin in the game. Stossel generally contends "loser pays" is all the tort-reform you need, and that it is a much more "libertarian" solution than limits on awards. Hard to argue.

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

The Supreme Court ruled sometime in the later 1990s that defendants can be awarded attorney fees if a lawsuit is found "frivolous." However, the ruling only said that laws can provide for that, not that laws must.

The U.S. already has half of "loser pays," to some extent. Some jurisdictions allow for successful plaintiffs in civil cases to recover attorney fees. But we definitely need the reverse, and I say even if a lawsuit isn't found to be "frivolous." I'd argue this even if I hadn't prevailed against someone who sued me in a court run by his friend.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at May 4, 2010 2:28 PM


We recently had some side chatter about the efficacy of the UN and NGOs in relation to the Noocyulur talks that President Obama had led.

I was yelling at my Kimdle® over the weekend. As President Wilson and "The Major" are pursuing the League of Nations, I'm yelling "No! Don't do it!"

I heard about this yesterday but was waiting for a detailed look from a credible source. The WSJ Ed Page delivers:

Greetings, comrades. World Health Organization Director-General Margaret Chan has returned from Pyongyang with wonderful news. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea is making great strides in health care, with one "household doctor" for every 130 households. Thanks to on-the-spot guidance from Dear Leader Kim Jong Il, North Korean doctors selflessly choose not to emigrate and have even conquered the decadent West's problem of obesity!

All right, we exaggerate. But only the part about the Dear Leader. Ms. Chan's surreal statements last Friday, as reported by several wire services, really did include praise for North Korean health care and the lack of obesity. "They have something which most other developing countries would envy," the global health administrator gushed. In her guided tours, she saw few signs of malnutrition, and the people in Pyongyang were the same height and weight as other Asians.

That's hardly consistent with the reports of other visitors, or the accounts of North Koreans fleeing starvation [...]

What is the value of supporting and offering legitimacy to an organization that would deliver such a report? Why, I've a good mind to ask the Iranian delegation on the UN's Women's Rights Committee to look into this and see if these stories are legitimate...

United Nations Posted by John Kranz at 12:26 PM | What do you think? [3]
But johngalt thinks:

In addition to obesity, North Koreans are protected by "Dear Leader" from that other scourge of developed nations: nighttime light pollution.

Posted by: johngalt at May 4, 2010 3:22 PM
But jk thinks:

Hahahahahahahahahaha! I thought of pointing out that their skilled physicians did not rely on light like our bumbling butchers, but I prefer yours. Awesome.

Posted by: jk at May 4, 2010 3:33 PM
But AlexC thinks:

Some jokes from North Korea:

Chang Man Yong works on a collective farm in North Korea. He goes fishing, gets lucky, and brings a fish home. Happy about his catch, he tells his wife: "Look what I've got. Shall we eat fried fish today?"

The wife says: "We've got no cooking oil!"

"Shall we stew it, then?"

"We've got no pot!"

"Shall we grill it?"

"We've got no firewood!"

Chang Man Yong gets angry, goes back to the river, and throws the fish back into the water.

The fish, happy to have had such a narrow escape, sticks its head out of the water and cheerfully yells: "Long live General Kim Jong Il!"

Posted by: AlexC at May 4, 2010 8:45 PM

May 3, 2010

ThreeSources Poll: Obama's Katrina?

Where partisan hackery meets limited government: should ThreeSourcers blame President Obama for an insufficient response to the oil spill?

I'm going to say no. My idea of Executive Power was best expressed by Randy Newman in his song Louisiana. I'm not sure one of my favorite songwriters meant to complement one of my favorite Presidents:

President Coolidge come down on a railroad train. With a little fat man with a clipboard in his hand. President Coolidge says "Little fat man, ain't it a shame. What the river has done to this poor cracker's land?"
Generally, I consider that a great response, but concede that the government has a larger role in the oil spill versus the 1927 or 2005 hurricanes.

All the same, the complaints suggest a super-sized version of executive power, do they not?

I love a whack at the President as much -- okay, maybe a lot more -- than the next guy. But I have decried the arrogation of power to the Executive and am pretty squeamish about asserting expectations here.


UPDATE: Interesting addition: John Fund says that the government is obligated by the Oil Pollution Act of 1990:

The Obama Administration has tirelessly pushed the line that it has employed every available tool to fight the Gulf oil spill from "Day One." Well, it's certainly true that every media resource is being deployed to squelch comparisons with the slow-footed 2005 Bush administration response to Hurricane Katrina.

But as for having actual oil-spill fighting technology on hand before the crisis, as the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 requires, the administration was clearly caught unprepared.

After the Transocean rig blew up two weeks ago, it turns out the federal government didn't have a single fire boom on hand in the Gulf to enable a controlled burn of the oil slick, according to The Press-Register of Mobile, Alabama. Instead, the government quickly purchased the only fire boom that an Illinois-based manufacturer had in stock, and then asked the company to call its customers around the world to see if the U.S. government could borrow their booms.

But Lisa M thinks:

jk, I have to agree with you on this one in prinicple, however:

The left used Hurricane Katrina to destroy President Bush. It was patently unfair on just about every level. And mostly it was unfair precisely because the Federal Government is too bloated, large, lethargic, incompetent and inefficient to act nimbly in a natural disaster situation where time is of the essence. As we all know here, localities are more nimble and better equipped to handle these situations.

With an eye toward our friends on the left who believe central planning and a benevolent, all-powerful federal government is the solution to every problem, this oil spill is a perfect teachable moment for small government principles. We should not squander it by backing off on pointing out the Administration's completely incompetent response to this crisis, not in spite of our beliefs that big government is a problem, but precisely BECAUSE of those beliefs.

Posted by: Lisa M at May 3, 2010 9:42 PM
But jk thinks:

Yeahr-but-no-but... (Any "Little Britain" fans out there?)

You make a principled stand of "see, this proved we should not rely on government." I like that. Part me of me loves the idea of revenge: "Obama doesn't like Southern People!"

But there is an implicit expectation of executive power in any complaint. And even if you make it clear, others will not, and those summarizing your arguments will not, and in the end we'll get a clamor for more power as the next President says "I'm not going to be undone by a disaster -- I will federalize the National Guard on the first raindrop.

So I think we play this cool and avoid anything that can be seen as attacking President Obama for being too much like President Coolidge.

Posted by: jk at May 4, 2010 1:03 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

Yeah, I don't see it. The way most folks on the left are taking it goes something like this:

See, this is what happens when you let companies fight federal regulators. And look at the Republicans now! Jindal, and co. talk about small government, but when push comes to shove they don't stick to small government principles.

That is the ruling narrative, and it will take a bit to dislodge it - much less shift the blame to Obama.

Posted by: T. Greer at May 5, 2010 3:48 AM
But Lisa M thinks:

A commenter to Daniel Foster on The Corner today:

"The Gulf oil spill reminds me of the financial collapse. Again we see that it is not the regulations that is a problem but the regulators — the flawed, fallen humans that man the bureaucracies. There is a natural limit to what regulations, and government, can do — us. As always, humility would be the appropriate response, but instead we'll get instead Washington hubris."

Posted by: Lisa M at May 5, 2010 8:46 PM

Facebook of the Day

No, I won't torture everyday. But I'd like to dedicate this to any Randians out there. This is, you'll not be surprised, the same person who confuses President Obama with Buddha.

From the "What can it hurt?" department: There is apparently a valve that is stuck open on the Deep Horizon oil well and is causing the spill... Here's the plan to use the collective power of our minds to stop this spill: Everyone please visualize the valve getting unstuck and stopping the spill.


But johngalt thinks:

"Randian base here. Come in... come in..."

Yes, we know that a segment of the population is made up of complete idiots.

"Those who deny the existence of reason cannot be swayed by it. They cannot help you. Leave them alone." -Rand

As an Objectivist I tend to avoid these people until they find their way into the world of the thinking people. As an avowed optomist I believe that most of them can do so, if they want to. As a realist I advocate fiercely for Constitional protections of the individual and against further movement in the direction of democracy.

Posted by: johngalt at May 4, 2010 3:03 PM
But jk thinks:

There are things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, not dreamt of in man's philosophies.

I bring up the Bard because I like the line, but -- without opening up a forum -- I have just come off a very thoughtful email exchange with a good friend. Said friend compares Ms. Visualize's actions to prayer, which said friend fervently supports.

I found myself a little surprised to be taking up the Randian side (Juliet Kilo, read you, over!). A rather fundamental difference of looking at the world between two who agree on much.

Posted by: jk at May 4, 2010 3:29 PM

Another Way to Skin a Cat

Today's Michael Ramirez Cartoon reminds me of an old joke: "Why don't we hire some illegal immigrants to do a job that Americans just won't do - enforce immigration laws."

But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

One more thought. So let's say Pablo and Maria come here and leech off the system. How is that different than my neighbors of European, African and Asian descent who send their children to school on my dime? Who collect welfare checks courtesy of my tax dollars?

We can all agree that illegal immigration is an issue because of the welfare state, but people of all ethnicities -- and natural-born American citizenship -- abuse it also. Which is better, for government to build a fence that it can't effectively monitor (something anyone can scale or cut through, and which keeps out the honest) or for government to stop doling out our tax money to anyone who shows up?

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at May 4, 2010 11:11 PM
But T. Greer thinks:
Now to address the topic seriously. One of the fundamental problems with the immigration debate is this blindness to "enforcing the law." I've said time and time again that just because something is "the law" does not mean it is right. Conservatives and liberals are both hypocrites in that they want to enforce laws they like, and disregard laws they don't like. The thought occurs to me that if laws were actually enforced in a blind and disinterested manner, both sides would take the justness of these laws more seriously.
Posted by: T. Greer at May 5, 2010 3:53 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I completely agree that the welfare state is a greater evil in itself. Where I was going with my comment, however, was a discussion of a nation of individuals shaping its their own civil society to suit their desires. In my case I would not ban immigrants for skin color, nation of origin, or favorite evening meal - I would admit every capitalist and reject every statist.

(Welcome to Galt's Gulch.)

Posted by: johngalt at May 5, 2010 2:48 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

"The thought occurs to me that if laws were actually enforced in a blind and disinterested manner, both sides would take the justness of these laws more seriously."

Well, TG, good luck with that. :)

"I completely agree that the welfare state is a greater evil in itself. Where I was going with my comment, however, was a discussion of a nation of individuals shaping its their own civil society to suit their desires. In my case I would not ban immigrants for skin color, nation of origin, or favorite evening meal - I would admit every capitalist and reject every statist."

Sounds fine to me, though I'd point out that the very existence of a "government" is what draws the statists. While the apparatus exists, bad people can and will pervert it to take from some and give to others.

The advantage of a free society is that it doesn't need to be "shaped" or otherwise designed. Every man lives his life as he would, to any extent he'd like as long as he harms no others. In that kind of life, you don't need to worry about your neighbors (of any ethnicity or religion) using the subterfuge of government to bleed you little by little. All criminals will then be obvious, whether they're outright robbers or welfare state leeches, and the latter can be dealt with as directly as the former.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at May 5, 2010 9:09 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I could be wrong but I'd imagine there would be many more "outright robbers" to deal with in the absence of government. Or at least, in the absence of a normative set of rules and behaviors. Don't you worry that if you became known as the home and the homeowner "not to mess with" that the most successful hoods and gangs would target you to make a name for themselves? Wouldn't this ultimately lead to neighborhood protection organizations and eventually, governments?

Posted by: johngalt at May 6, 2010 2:34 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Sorry to be late getting back here, was busy and still am pretty sick.

You're confusing "anarchy" with a complete lack of social structure. Most people do, but the two are not necessarily overlapping. Anarchy does not mean throwing pipe bombs, raping and pillaging the weak, or any sort of societal chaos. Anarchy simply means there's no authority that forces people in what and what not to do -- but that in no wise means there's no moral basis for people to use when acting. If neighbors want to get together voluntarily (Bastiat defined law as the common force to protect individuals' rights and enforce justice), then fine, let each person join voluntarily. But when my neighbors decide to form a government so a few of them can profit from building roads at my expense, and the policemen and judges infringe on my rights, where is my opt-out button? The very nature of government is that there's no opt-out: you are as forced into it as anything else. Thus any amount of government is still coercion and hence not true freedom.

In the absence of government, I couldn't possibly be robbed any more than I am today. Every two weeks, I'm regularly robbed of a rather significant chunk of my paycheck that would make Tony Soprano envious. But at least if I defend myself against regular thieves and murderers, my neighbors will understand. With "government," if I defend myself, then my neighbors will say I was at fault for not being a good citizen. "Good citizenship" has been perverted into meaning "giving up your sovereign individual rights to life, liberty and property to the whims of your neighbors."

If I'm the homeowner no one wants to mess with, then by definition no one will want to mess with me, right? Right now the government is the thief that no one wants to mess with, because it guarantees the peaceable citizen will go down while his sheeple neighbors watch.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at May 10, 2010 5:45 PM

More Mean-Spirited Diatribe Against Illegal Immigration

This one takes a more worldly view, looking at similarities between American (illegal) and European (condoned) mass immigration. As an example of over-the-top hate speech, author Mark Steyn tells us what English grandmother Gillian Duffy said to PM Gordon Brown which prompted him to say of her, in an unguarded moment, "She's just this sort of bigoted woman." Gillian had lamented that "you can't say anything about the immigrants."

The quick 3-page piece is packed with Steyn's trademark humor which is it's own reward so I'll just plagarize the dry conclusion:

A dependence on mass immigration is not a gold mine nor an opportunity to flaunt your multicultural bona fides, but a structural weakness, and should be addressed as such.

The majority of Arizona's schoolchildren are already Hispanic. So, even if you sealed the border today, the state's future is as a Hispanic society: That's a given.

Maybe it'll all work out swell. The citizenry never voted for it, but they got it anyway. Because all the smart guys in the limos bemoaning the bigots knew what was best for them.

Hey, That's My Idea!

I am not complaining, perhaps Professor Mankiw's reader has improved it. Besides, I clearly put it in the public domain in 2003.

I wrote an essay, on my old Berkeley Square Blog, about "A Free Market Solution to SPAM."

I set up my mailbox to accept only mail from people in my address book and from “Joe’s Trusted Relay Service.”

Now, all my friends can email me because they are whitelisted. Somebody who wants to reach me can pay Joe’s the nickel or dime he charges. A business can contract with Joe’s to send to real email addresses and get through. If Joe’s sends me too much junk I don’t like, I will stop accepting from him and will sign up with Fred’s. Fred charges a little more, so I get less junk. Market forces now enable senders and receivers to control SPAM volume. And the first to drop out will be the shysters and purveyors of illegal products.

I also get the chance to pay a dime to write a popular journalist or blogger and have more confidence that my message will be received. Maybe a magazine will whitelist subscribers and bloggers will whitelist those who donate. I’ve created a new business, a solution to an intractable problem, and the new, international currency of whitelisted email.

"A. Blog Reader" (funny name, isn't it?) uses the same idea for a ---wait for it -- Pigouvian Tax.
I think an excellent Pigouvian tax would be a tax on emails. Many emails involve a negative externality (I don't really want to receive them) and almost all the ones I really want to get are worth much more than a penny or so to the sender. So a penny tax (say) on email would probably generate large amounts of revenue, mitigate an important negative externality, and have minimal inefficient disincentives. Since email servers are necessarily centralized and networked and all email senders are ipso facto connected to an ISP who is charging them for access the transactions costs and evasion problems seem low.

'Course, I still prefer my free market idea to his government revenue stream, but Mankiw improves both ideas with a simple suggestion:
Even better, if possible, might be to have the recipient set the price! I would happily raise mine to a dime, and let the government use the revenue to fix the long-term fiscal imbalance or cut other more distortionary taxes.

Yeah Pigouvian Schmagoovian and all, but the receiver's setting the price is a good suggestion.

Burying the Lead

New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, at his news conference yesterday afternoon, said he would not rule out the possibility that the Times Square attack could be related to the recent threats against the creators of the comedy TV series "South Park," who have been threatened online for allegedly defaming Muhammad. The bomb-filled SUV in Times Square was parked next to the headquarters of Viacom, the parent company of "South Park." That coincidence needs to be thoroughly pursued. -- WSJ Ed Page
'Scuse me? Has anybody else heard this? I think this is huge -- but it does not "fit the narrative."
But johngalt thinks:

James Dellingpole has heard it. South Park: The most dangerous show on television?

Posted by: johngalt at May 3, 2010 3:28 PM
But jk thinks:

Pfft! Foreign press -- those guys don't even believe in global warming!

Posted by: jk at May 3, 2010 4:10 PM

May 2, 2010

Is America really that inhospitable to illegal immigrants?

Time to turn up the heat a little more with some home-grown populism. From the DenverPost-dot-com comments to a story on the Arizona immigration law:

RedBeemer wrote:


Dear President Obama:
I'm planning to move my family and extended family into Mexico for my health, and I would like to ask you to assist me.

We're planning to simply walk across the border from the U.S. Into Mexico, and we'll need your help to make a few arrangements.

We plan to skip all the legal stuff like visas, passports, immigration quotas and laws.

I'm sure they handle those things the same way you do here. So, would you mind telling your buddy, President Calderon, that I'm on my way over?

Please let him know that I will be expecting the following:

1. Free medical care for my entire family.

2. English-speaking government bureaucrats for all services I might need, whether I use them or not.

3. Please print all Mexican government forms in English.

4. I want my grandkids to be taught Spanish by English-speaking (bi-lingual) teachers.

5. Tell their schools they need to include classes on American culture and history.

6. I want my grandkids to see the American flag on one of the flag poles at their school.

7. Please plan to feed my grandkids at school for both breakfast and lunch.

8. I will need a local Mexican driver's license so I can get easy access to government services.

9. I do plan to get a car and drive in Mexico , but, I don't plan to purchase car insurance, and I probably won't make any special effort to learn local traffic laws.

10. In case one of the Mexican police officers does not get the memo from their president to leave me alone, please be sure that every patrol car has at least one English-speaking officer.

11. I plan to fly the U.S. Flag from my house top, put U S. Flag decals on my car, and have a gigantic celebration on July 4th. I do not want any complaints or negative comments from the locals.

12. I would also like to have a nice job without paying any taxes, or have any labor or tax laws enforced on any business I may start.

I haven't fact checked everything but each point is at least true or plausible. (Hey, it was good enough for Al Gore.)

But jk thinks:

No facts to check in this puppy. It is simply a mean spirited diatribe.

But I'll suggest a few facts. Mexico is poor. Mexico does not advertise itself as a destination of immigrants or a pluralistic melting pot. In spite of this many Americans and Europeans do quite well after emigrating there.

Yes, we pat ourselves on the back because we're better than Mexico -- mission accomplished! But I don't think they represent a governmental model we should aspire to.

On the good side, their last revolution burdened President Wilson when he was busy giving us the graduated income tax and the FTC. We owe them muchos gracias for that.

Posted by: jk at May 2, 2010 5:11 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Hmmm. I had thought #6 might've happened for a short time at one school or was merely an urban legend, and that the second half of #12 was obvious exaggeration. But c'mon, brother, you don't think any of those other things happen every day? Perhaps you imagine all illegal immigrants to be like the one who helped one Mr. Rodriguez install my irrigation pipeline who, though unable to speak English, worked hard and conscientiously every day he was here. And perhaps I imagine too many of them to be like the former employee of Denver mayor and current gubenatorial candidate John Hickenlooper who murdered a Denver cop and then bragged about it before escaping back to Mexico where he was returned via extradition only after Denver's DA agreed not to seek the death penalty. Either way, there is enough truth in the above checklist to sway a majority of Americans, white, brown and otherwise, to support "law and order" measures to reduce illegal immigration. Whatever principled opinions you or I may have were long ago overwhelmed by the enormous negative impact spilling into the southern U.S. from our third-world neighbor to the south.

Your disrespectful "mission accomplished" remark misses the reason why America is better than Mexico - our respect for economic freedom and property rights that was once greater than it is today. But it doesn't change the focus of the commenter's point, and mine, which was that America bends over backwards to accomodate our uninvited guests.

Posted by: johngalt at May 2, 2010 6:17 PM
But jk thinks:

Yup, we can agree on a few things. I believe that every country that is poor in 2010 is poor because its government has not provided freedom, protection of property rights, and rule of law. Sadly, our neighbor to the south hits "below the Mendoza line" on all three.

I also agree that we treat immigrants better than most nations, although I would suggest much of Western Europe has bent even farther than your commenter suggests to accommodate Islamic immigrants. But I found this comment distasteful (you may have read between the lines, using your long association with me to infer that).

We provide many courtesies for US citizens who celebrate their heritage and prefer their home language. My grandmother was born in South Dakota in 1896 and her family spoke German. All the post-bellum presidential campaigns provided materials in Italian, German, Polish, &c.

I'd be the first to vote against government forms in other languages, and I think bilingual education is destructive to those it purports to help. But this comment is over the top. No, if an NBA player shows up at your pick up game, you're not going to spot him 10 points. Nor do I expect a poor nation to offer all the courtesies of a wealthy one.

Posted by: jk at May 3, 2010 9:58 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I also don't think the commenter really intended to suggest that Mexico really be expected to do these things. It's a fairness argument: America shouldn't be expected to do them either. If we do it is a courtesy. He and I are saying we've become far too courteous. It's time to stop changing the sheets on the in-laws' bed.

Posted by: johngalt at May 4, 2010 3:18 PM

Otequay of they Ayday

It's been a while since I've contributed to my half of the "Quote of the Day" franchise but this one had to be shared.

"Why are all of the cartoons these days trying to teach children Spanish?" -dagny (mine) this morning

Pretty Funny

Man, this is pretty good:

UPDATE: I should specify: President Obama is funny. Jay Leno, whom I usually find entertaining, is off his game.

But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Does it get better after six minutes? That's all I could stomach. "Lacking Maybe it's because a recent broadcast of "A Night at the Opera" showed how brilliant Groucho's delivery was, but I found Obama more than lacking. The uncomfortable pause after "They [Goldman] make money whether you laugh or not" would have gotten a comic booed out of any Manhattan comedy club after the first minute (unless he was in Harlem, in which case his supporters would have cheered even if he did nothing but broke wind).

How about, "Wow, tough room. Well, regardless of what's been going around, I'm only the President, not the Antichrist! So don't be afraid. Or do you guys need a teleprompter to tell you when to laugh?"

And did he really whisper the F-word with the Biden thing? Come on, this is the annual dinner, not a Richard Pryor routine.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at May 2, 2010 4:22 PM
But jk thinks:

Tough room, indeed -- nope, it does not get any better. And as far as timing, I fear you're right and he should keep his day gig.

I thought the material was funny. Halfway through, the banner is passed to Jay Leno whose jokes are far below the President's (open with a Mother-in-law joke? Really?)

And I will confess, once a year I like the President whatever the party. He comes off endearing and a bit more self-effacing than I thought he would allow.

Posted by: jk at May 2, 2010 5:02 PM
But jk thinks:

A "truther" friend on Facebook is upset that the President can make jokes about predator drones. Tough. Damn. Room. Indeed.

Posted by: jk at May 3, 2010 11:14 AM

May 1, 2010

"Clean and Safe" alternative energy

Unless you're a bird. (Warning: Content may be disturbing to some viewers.) [No, I'm not kidding.]

Hat tip: M4GW

But jk thinks:

I have been meaning to take and post a picture of the new Lafayette Solar Farm on Hwy 7 not too far from the "Condo of Love" that I call home.

I don't think I'll march or blow it up (though there's a big fertilizer store a mile away... Fifty Pounds of Ammonium Nitrate to a gallon of fuel oil if I recall from college...)

Nah, but I did have a Senator Kennedy moment. The flatland prairie around here is very attractive. Everybody loves the mountains, but the high plains are pretty to me. We have houses and farms and some commercial development that all seems to fit.

And now all of sudden there a few acres of black photovoltaic panels that are an absolute eyesore; nit huge but definitely ugly. I know all the denizens in Lafayette society are tickled pink that .0319% of their electricity is "renewable" but I gotta drive by this thing every time I go into town.

Posted by: jk at May 2, 2010 11:13 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Speaking of "Senator Kennedy moments"... Interior secretary approves nation's first offshore wind farm at Cape Cod

I'm all for bucking the NIMBY interests of the Kennedy family or specious "undersea indian burial grounds" claims but the federal subsidies being devoted to build these delicate engineeringing curiosities in the middle of the ocean really get me wee wee'd up.

Posted by: johngalt at May 2, 2010 1:53 PM
But johngalt thinks:

WSJ has some numbers that put the (not likely to be built soon) offshore wind project in perspective.

Posted by: johngalt at May 2, 2010 1:56 PM
But johngalt thinks:

And finally, the Kansas City Star (my dad's old hometown paper) has a brief pro-con piece between Brian Merchant, Treehugger-dot-com, and the Boston Herald editorial staff. The latter says

Of course, there are those — and we count ourselves among them — who are huge fans of wind power but in the appropriate place and at a sustainable cost. Cape Wind fails on both of those scores.


While people may argue about the aesthetics of turbines on an ocean horizon, there can be no argument that this will be among the most expensive sources of energy ever devised by mankind. And that's not counting any possible public subsidy. [my emphasis]

Don't forget to vote in their online poll!

Posted by: johngalt at May 2, 2010 2:08 PM

These People Have Jobs and Mortgages

Just a reminder what we're up against. Here's a Facebook thread:

[Some guy I don't know]: Buddha once said that hatred is never ended by hatred but by love, and understanding is never ended by an argument but by tact, and diplomacy, conciliation and a sympathetic desire to see the other person’s point of view.

[A woman I used to work with]: Sounds kinda like Obama's way of doing things...

[Buddha Guy]: YOUR Killing me!! LOL

[Obama lady]: I'm totally serious. He's tactful, diplomatic and conciliatory even in debate. I can only guess at his desire to see other points of view, but given his demeanor, I think we should give him the benefit of the doubt on this one.

[Buddha Guy]: So he tactfully, or was in conciliatory, rammed his health care down our throats, knowing that the vast majority of Americans wanted a reasonable approach. I wonder how Buda felt about being taken from behind by those in power??

[Obama lady]: You mean when Congress passed the bill (full of regurgitated Republican ideas) by due legislative process? Yes.

No, I am not diving in now way, no how! I just wanted to share it with you.

But johngalt thinks:

Jeez, it might be easier just to resort to name-calling. I see your point though. I wouldn't bother either.

Posted by: johngalt at May 1, 2010 3:31 PM
But Sugarchuck thinks:

I'm waiting for the "Yo Mama Lady" to confab with Buddy Guy.

Posted by: Sugarchuck at May 1, 2010 9:55 PM
But jk thinks:

I think that would be better suited to Twitter, sc...

It's just funny. I mean you can like the President's policies if you are wired that way, and you can admire aspects of his biography or demeanor. I don't get it but I can see it.

Yet to suggest that he is the post partisan figure he suggested in the campaign means you really are not paying attention. I think his serious supporters have all moved on to non-messianic aspects of his Presidency.

The other Facebook wave is a host of people joining LET'S STOP BLAMING OBAMA FOR EVERYTHING BUSH DID.

Some tough sledding ahead my friends, a good year or not, tough sledding.

Posted by: jk at May 2, 2010 10:52 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Do you now understand why I say "liberals deserve no mercy"? They want "tolerance" and "respect" when it comes to voting or otherwise deciding how to redistribute or otherwise control my property, which necessitates them being intolerant and disrespectful of my rights to my property and my mind.

I'm hardly a Republican, but even I'm getting sick of this "regurgitated Republican ideas" BS. To call that a strawman is an understatement.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at May 2, 2010 4:31 PM

Every Day (was) Draw Mohammed Day

Some superb discussion continues on the righteousness and efficacy of "Draw Mohammed Day." Thanks for all the thoughtful comments.

One thing that I did not mention is my belief that this is not a fundamental, axiomatic part of the Muslim faith. This is a brand new thing for CAIR types and the never got a date crowd at to be offended about. There have been many respectful depictions of the prophet through time by devout Muslims.

This is not a central tenet, it is a new, post-Qutb, Taliban thing (I first heard of the Taliban when they were mashing up millennia-old Buddha statues). The Internet Segue Machine comes through again: a collection of Mohammed images, from the respectful to the Matt&Trey.

I'm softening due to appeals to me better angels as well as general disbelief in my "Spartacus Defense." But I still think these folks are whacked.

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