August 31, 2010

Quote of the Day

And so, dear students, welcome back! Your generation is going to have dig its own way out of the hole my generation has dug for you (thanks for the Medicare, kids, and sorry about the deficit!), but here are a few tips that may help you get the best out of your college years. -- Walter Russell Mead
Hey, br atarted it! HT: Insty
Politics Posted by John Kranz at 7:00 PM | What do you think? [0]

Tom Tancredo: Pariah

That's where the former congressman is headed according to Denver pollster Floyd Ciruli.

"Tancredo has lost the support of the Republican Party," local pollster extraordinaire Floyd Ciruli told me. "The only question is when he becomes a pariah."

This from a Vincent Carroll column that tries to shine some light into one of Tancredo's ear holes, such that perhaps he can see for himself what is going on.

In the Republican-heavy Ipsos Public Affairs polling sample, only 10 percent of respondents identified immigration as one of the "biggest problems" facing Colorado — not even the biggest problem, mind you — and yet Tancredo is running on little else.

(...)

"I couldn't stand by and watch the Republican establishment just hand over the state to Obama's hand-picked Democrat candidate," Tancredo tells his supporters.

So, rather than stand by, Tancredo has resolved to guarantee the outcome he supposedly dreads.

Dear Tom. Drop dead.

But jk thinks:

Talking to my otherwise sensible but enforcement-blinded brother-in-law, it occurred to me that that was a huge possible benefit from this election. If the rest of my Colorado GOP buddies come to like Rep. Tancredo (R -'Merica, dammit!) as much as I do, then the election will not be a total loss.

Humorously, the platform of the American Constitution Party, under whose auspices he runs, is a dream platform for every 3srcer. But who believes that a Governor Tancredo would find time for anything but immigration? Not me.

Posted by: jk at August 31, 2010 3:46 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

I'm just a little surprised that Tancredo did not pick Mark Holtzman to be his running mate. Now there'd be a pair.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 31, 2010 5:01 PM

Hope. Change.

ThreeSourcers will dig Veronique DeRugy's optimistic take on "the Austrian school revival being led by George Mason University's Peter Boettke." It seems that ideas matter and that Austrian Economics might again be ascendant (the course is filled).

Ideas are what we are fighting for, no matter what's happening in Washington, no matter what the America people think at any given moment. It is because of our long conversations during the financial crisis, when I was depressed about my total inability to change things, especially in light of the resurgence of Keynesian economics, that I am still out here today fighting for free markets, for the power of the price system, and against centralization .

And that's why the Journal article made me so happy. We all remember how Glenn Beck, a few months ago, managed to put Friedrich Hayek's Road to Serfdom on the Amazon bestseller list. That was great. However, no matter how powerful Glenn Beck is and how capable he is at popularizing some of Hayek's ideas, this moment can't be sustained without recognizing where the ideas come from. This movement is based on real ideas that are studied in academia by serious economists -- even when no one believes in them.


Awesome (and not much longer than the excerpt). Hat-tip: Instapundit

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 10:46 AM | What do you think? [2]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

McQ recently had more than kind words about Austrian econ. This isn't just Mises and Hayek writing about abstract concepts of liberty. This is economic thought that explains why we're in such a mess.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 31, 2010 1:01 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

All you need to know to realize that Austrian economics is correct (and in fact dangerous to state-worshippers) is that Krugman called it "phlogiston." Doesn't that say it all? Keynesians blame recessions on "underconsumption" and exogenous factors like oil shocks. Austrian Business Cycle Theory is the only one that can explain every economic downturn in this country, and ABCT even explains the Dutch tulip mania. It's all about government policies that inflate money (physical or credit) and thus skew markets, just like we're seeing today.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 31, 2010 1:03 PM

Should've Had Bennet Do His Ads

I found it difficult to differentiate the too subtle differences between Weld County AG Ken Buck and former Lt. Gov Jane Norton in the CO GOP Senatorial primary.

But now that Buck has won, I find the DNSC and Bennet attack ads completely convincing.

Buck said in some speech in 2009 that we should consider repealing the 17th Amendment (pretty popular idea on these pages). The DNSC says "BUCK WANTS TO REWRITE THE CONSTITUTION! TAKE AWAY YOUR RIGHT TO VOTE!" And the tag: "Too Extreme for Colorado."

Bennet's ad says that Buck wants to eliminate the Department of Education! Privatize Social Security! Calls Social Security "Unconstitutional."

Huh? Why didn't you say so, Ken? Jeebers, my checkbook is your checkbook now.

Shoulda had that Bennet guy run your primary campaign though...

(My Google Fu Skills are way off today, if somebody has links to video, send 'em along.)

CO Senate Posted by John Kranz at 10:13 AM | What do you think? [0]

August 30, 2010

Quote of the Day II

"You won't hear those words coming from us," Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs said.
True. You'll likely never hear the Obama Administration say "Mission Accomplished." Glad he cleared that up.
But Keith Arnold thinks:

I'd be delighted to not hear ANY more words from this administration. Well, "We're sorry," and "we resign."

Posted by: Keith Arnold at August 30, 2010 7:21 PM

Cash for Clunkers

Taranto links to have a bit of sport with the headline:

News of the Tautological
"Used Vehicle Demand Up, Supply Down; Prices Soar"--headline, Detroit News, Aug. 30

But the linked article is worth a forward to your favorite leftist:
Used car prices are climbing and the pool of available models is drying up one year after the federal "cash for clunkers" program spurred consumers to scrap old cars for new ones.

Used cars are selling for the highest average price in at least seven years, according to Edmunds.com, an online auto consumer guide. Last month, the average price of a three-year-old vehicle spiked 10.3 percent, to $19,248, compared to July 2009.


Contra Taranto, the article spells out the simple supply-demand manifestations of "Cash for Clunkers." The only question is: "Why does President Obama hate poor people so?"

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 4:51 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

To us it's "change." To Cubans it's nothing new.

This is a good thing. It will make Americans think about where all of their new cars (used to) come from... Japan.

Posted by: johngalt at August 31, 2010 2:49 PM

Quote of the Day

Stage IV metastatic variety of melanoma has a 5 year survival rate below 20% and even lower in some cases. Malignant melanoma diagnosis amounts to a check-out notice from the Life Hotel. Such check-out notices ought to entitle you to a "Get out of the FDA jail card" where you get to try experimental treatments. -- Randall Parker
Parker seems to think we are citizens and not subjects...

Daniels 2012

I can be fickle -- it's still 2010!

daniels_bike.jpg

Hat-tip: Ann Althouse who adds this photo link as an update to a bike comparison ThreeSourcers will appreciate.

2012 Posted by John Kranz at 2:48 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

LIKE!

Posted by: johngalt at August 31, 2010 2:52 PM

"The Greening of Godzilla"

This is the title from a piece written by Walter Russell Mead for The American Interest Online that could not be improved upon. Mead dismantles the "green" movement not so much from a scientific standpoint but to illustrate that it has become the enemy that it abhors: The Establishment.

The case environmentalists used to make was that modern science was too crude and too incomplete to take into account the myriad features that could turn a giant hydroelectric dam from a blessing into a curse. Yes, the dam would generate power — for a while. But green critics would note that the dam had side effects: silt would back up in the reservoir, soil downstream would be impoverished, parasites and malaria bearing mosquitoes would flourish in the still waters and so on and so forth. Meanwhile the destruction of wetlands and river bottoms imposed enormous costs to wildlife diversity and the productivity of river systems. Salmon runs would disappear. Often, the development associated with hydroelectric dams led to deforestation, offsetting gains in flood control.

Mead goes on to point out that greenies have morphed to espousing a simple solution (cap and trade) for a very complex problem (the environment). They now hide behind the "expert" label to hush critics. That's interesting but perhaps not all that groundbreaking.

What is more interesting is how Mead parallels liberal enviro regulation to their handling of the economy. We're told that financial reform will smooth all of the economic cycles and eliminate future "bubbles." Of course, that's nonsense because the economy, like the environment, is too complex for central planning.

Essentially, the core environmentalist argument against big projects and big development is the same argument that libertarians use against economic regulations and state planning. The ‘economic ecology’ of a healthy free market system is so complex, libertarians argue, that bureaucratic interventions, however well intentioned and however thoroughly supported by peer reviewed science of various kinds, will produce unintended consequences — and in any case the interventions and regulations are too crude and too simple to provide an adequate substitute for the marvelously complex economic order that develops from free competition.

This piece seems to meander between subjects, but the common thread is "experts" trying to solve problems that cannot be solved with grandiose solutions. The result is stifling regulation that creates as many new problems as it solves.

Worth the whole read.

But jk thinks:

Professor Mead is generally worth the read.

Great link, I loved it, but I think Mead joins our beloved brother jg in oversanguininityness. Epic fail yes, but while Mead was learning history and politics, I was watching horror movies. And the monster is usually not dead when it appears so.

No cap and trade -- but Colorado just passed a law to send our utility bills through the roof. We'll tell our grandchildren about incandescent bulbs like Uncle Benny told us about soda fountains. Weatherization, hybrids...

Posted by: jk at August 30, 2010 3:08 PM
But jk thinks:

Steven Hayward at The American piles on:

First, with the complete collapse of cap-and-trade in the Senate, the greens should face the ironic fact that if Senator John McCain had been elected president in 2008, we’d almost certainly have some form of cap-and-trade in place right now. Recall that McCain cosponsored two previous cap-and-trade proposals in the Senate and would have made cap-and-trade a higher priority than healthcare reform. He could also have brought some Republicans along for the ride. Yet despite his green sentiments, McCain received a zero rating from the League of Conservation Voters in 2007 and 2008, while President Obama received perfect marks (when he showed up to vote, that is). So, environmentalists threw in their lot with Obama.

Hayward's point is that the enviros are battered spouses mishandling their own interests. What drops out is that he is right. I'd rather have Cap'n Tax® than ObamaCare®, but I don't feel so bad anymore.

Posted by: jk at August 30, 2010 3:38 PM

August 29, 2010

Hick: 'Taxes couldn't possibly be lower'

I recently endorsed, tongue in cheek, Mayor Hickenlooper for Governor because of his stealthy promise to "create jobs and cut government spending." And why do we want to cut government spending? There are many reasons but a big one is to reduce the tax burden on private (job-creating) industry. The problem being that when said tax burden reaches a certain weight most businesses can no longer support it. They go out of business, hunker down in survival mode, or potential new businesses are never started. The idea of the TEA (Taxed Enough Already) Party movement is that America has already reached, and is surpassing, that threshold:

But many, maybe most, Democrats, including gubernatorial candidate Mayor John Hickenlooper, have an alternate view: Taxes couldn't possibly be made any lower than they are now:

A Conflict of Visions indeed.

CO Governor Posted by JohnGalt at 11:50 AM | What do you think? [2]
But jk thinks:

At least he's a Democrat. This brought up the sad vision of Rep Tom Delay’s (R - Tom Delay) assuring a questioner that ten years of GOP rule had expunged all the pork spending from Congress.

The TRULY invidious part is his comparison of government to private trade. The supplier who wanted a better beer price was able to dicker with the brewery down the street or make his own. The "businesses want cheaper inputs" line is appearing on Democratic States all over this year. But it's false.

Posted by: jk at August 30, 2010 10:28 AM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

I'm starting to feel a little more optimistic. Hick has supported some hard Left groups that could compromise his "moderate" image. Will Coloradans listen? Who know, but my pessimism meter is back off the peg.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 30, 2010 1:07 PM

August 27, 2010

Hailing Harsanyi Again

A friend tweets a link to "Thanks for 'nothing'"

Around the time the Tea Party was first upsetting all right-minded people, Colorado's Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet told a friendly audience that these hooligans were peddling ideas that were "ludicrous," "appalling" and even "nihilistic."

"Nihilism" is a chilling word. It has many definitions, but generally it is agreed that it means a failure to believe in change and/or hope.

But polls look a lot different today. And, consequently, Bennet is probably about two speeches away from asking Washington to stop treading on him and putting on an American flag T-shirt.


The "nihilism" line is QOTD-worthy, as is "(After some insufficient research, I can say with journalistic certainty that no other unelected government official in the history of the nation has spent as much taxpayer money.)"

Welcome home, Dave! Give Mister Maes a closer look sometime.

CO Senate Posted by John Kranz at 1:14 PM | What do you think? [3]
But johngalt thinks:

My favorite line was "But if we want to start blaming people for spending trillions of dollars and offering nothing, the name is spelled with one "t." This is the most direct connection yet printed between the Stimulus boondoggle and Colorado Senator Bennet's deciding vote.

I understand that David's definition of nihilism was intentionally comical, but what about Bennet's? Of the six different meanings given here I think he might ascribe number five to the TEA Party "hooligans." But isn't this a more apt description of the preposterous rhetoric of one Mister Barack H. Obama? Definition number one fits him well too. And there's reason for concern that he's on an unstoppable course to number three, especially if he fails to adjust course after massive electoral defeats in November.

Posted by: johngalt at August 29, 2010 10:29 AM
But jk thinks:

Clearly, we'll soon be seeing polls on MSNBC that "42.7194% of Republicans think Obama is a Nihilist!"

For the record, I prefer the Mirriam-Webster definition. I'm no expert but that better matches my concept of the word. But then, who cares. Nothing really matters.

Posted by: jk at August 29, 2010 11:35 AM
But johngalt thinks:

LOL

Posted by: johngalt at August 31, 2010 2:55 PM

Quote of the Day II

Now that we've been doing this whole democracy/republic thing for a few hundred years, it's time to assess where things didn't work out as planned. I mean, having all these useless, arrogant people spending like a third of all our incomes is obviously not what the Founding Fathers intended. If they found out about it, they'd probably just start firing their muskets everywhere in a total rage. And if they got their hands on some modern weaponry, who knows what damage they could do; just think of the lobby scene from The Matrix, but instead of Keanu Reeves, it's a royally pissed Ben Franklin. So it's probably good that the Founding Fathers are all dead, because we need cool heads to figure out how to fix things. -- Frank J. Fleming
He follows with an unusual method of Congressional reform.

Anti-Buck groups are running a funny (to me) scare spot: Ken Buck wants to REWRITE THE CONSTITUTION! He want to have LEGISLATORS PICK SENATORS! I guess they only have thirty seconds, but they don't really mention that that was how it was designed and used for 120 years. That wacky Ken Buck -- what won't he think of next?

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 11:08 AM | What do you think? [0]

Quote of the Day

When commenting about the US' apparent bribary of Mohammed Zia Salehi in Afghanistan on Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier, Charles Krauthammer had this to say:

"Your Honor, I stand before you in defense of bribary. War is difficult and if it's a choice between bribary and killing, I choose bribary."
Quote of the Day Posted by Boulder Refugee at 11:03 AM | What do you think? [3]
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Gen. George S. Patton might have disagreed. War is all about killing:

http://tinyurl.com/ylk2jqj

Chamberlain tried bribing Hitler with the Sudetenland. How'd that work out again?

The French tried bribing the Barbary pirates. I vote for killing.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at August 27, 2010 12:35 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Just one thing to say about bribery or waging war: do it on your own dime, and don't drag me along if I don't want to.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 27, 2010 12:58 PM
But johngalt thinks:

That Patton speech isn't so much about war as it is about winning.

"Americans play to win all the time. I wouldn't give a hoot in Hell for a man who lost and laughed. That's why Americans have never lost and will never lose a war. Because the very thought of losing is hateful to Americans."

Or at least, to SOME Americans.

Why did a majority of Americans support the Iraq war (when it begun) and withdraw that support as the nation-building dragged on? Because it began with the Bush Doctrine (ver. 1.0) and "evolved" into spreading democracy to combat terrorism via preventive war conducted in accordance with the theory of "just" warfare. Americans judge the stragegy of war on one scale: Does it work? Do we win (and then go home)? Patton's approach understood this.

Posted by: johngalt at August 29, 2010 11:38 AM

Happy LBJ's Birthday!

@Historyday The 36th president of the United States, Lyndon B. Johnson, was born on this day in 1908 in Stonewall, Texas.

Although I disagree with many of them, my Magical Biography Tour through the Presidents has found my becoming quite fond of all of them, appreciating their patriotism, service and integrity if not their ideas.

...and then I came to #36. I have a couple more books on him to complete, but what seems like a pretty sympathetic biographer describes an absolute megalomaniacal son of a bitch. And he gave us Medicare. He even mistreated dogs.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 10:29 AM | What do you think? [1]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

You had me worried until your second paragraph. :)

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 27, 2010 12:59 PM

August 26, 2010

A Once Proud Newspaper

I get the WaPo Afternoon political fix email every day (all the cool kids do!) I have seen the "Palin Tracker" on there for some time. Well, it seemed that Her Grizzliness had a pretty good week, so I clicked -- for the first time.

What an odd thing it is. There's nothing offensive, or negative.

Sarah Palin has thrown her support behind more than two dozen candidates, a mixture of Tea Party favorites and more established Republican types. Use this graphic to explore her endorsements, and see how they fare.
(Updated Aug. 25)

But how odd is it that it exists? If Jon Stewart did it, I could see it. But it seems beneath the Washington Post. (I know, I date myself.)

But Boulder Refugee thinks:

That's OK, JK, I date myself as well. That way, I never get turned down.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 27, 2010 10:25 AM

Corporeal Gig

SATURDAY, AUGUST 28, FROM 3-5, WE WILL HAVE LIVE MUSIC FEATURING "JK & KJ". COME BY AND TASTE THESE MERLOTS, HAVE A LITTLE CHEESE, AND ENJOY THE AMBIENCE OF "DENVER'S MOST LAID-BACK WINE STORE"!

www.citywine.com

But Boulder Refugee thinks:

My favorite descriptions for one of their wines is "dusty vanilla." Dusty vanilla?!? What the hell does that taste like - vanilla that's been spilled on the floor?

Anyhow, good luck with the gig!

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 26, 2010 2:40 PM
But jk thinks:

I once got to go a "Wiskey Tasting" in Scotland. A very special cask was described as having the nose of "Madiera cake in Red Tupperware." Now that's a guy who can smell!

Thanks for the kind words. I hope to shoot it for future coffeehouse fodder.

Posted by: jk at August 26, 2010 3:40 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I don't think we'll get a chance to make it. We've volunteered to help my sister construct a backyard patio today. Look forward to seeing some of it in the Coffeehouse.

Posted by: johngalt at August 28, 2010 9:26 AM

August 25, 2010

Tweet of the Day

@IMAO_ This defeat of Murkowski is disturbing. Is the GOP really going to become a party that no longer welcomes Republicans that suck?
2010 Posted by John Kranz at 7:21 PM | What do you think? [0]

Trashy Summer Reading

You have two choices. You can watch Penn & Teller's B******t on recycling and be treated to topless women, cruel torment of innocent and sincere Angelinos. It's a great show and I recommend it highly.

Or, if you prefer less profanity (none as I recall), you can read PERC's awesome paper on the myths of recycling. It's 30 pages, but they are double-spaced, full of pictures, and very readable. PERC even goes a little deeper into the cost structure then my favorite libertarian magicians.

Both share a concern that the public mission of the trash barge Mobro in 1987 convinced all of America of a shortage of landfill capacity that was not real. This "crisis" was played by the enviro movement to create a decades-long boondoggle of subsidized recycling. The other thing they have in common is their conclusion: "Recycling is B******t!".

Environment Posted by John Kranz at 7:05 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

I lived in Boulder for 20 years so I'm ahead of the curve on "recycling is bullshit" awareness. I'm a militant anti-recycler. Except for aluminum cans, which I once read save the energy equivalent of 8 ounces of gasoline (recycled vs. new metal from bauxite ore.)

Posted by: johngalt at August 26, 2010 2:40 PM
But jk thinks:

...which explains the real, free-market value of scrap aluminum that has existed since I was a kid. The 3R fiends love to include stats like that, implying thatthe convesion of soda bottles to insulation is as effective.

Posted by: jk at August 26, 2010 3:37 PM

Defying the FDA

I'm a law and order guy, but taking on the FDA will always entitle you to a "hell yeah."

WSJ:

ELMHURST, Ill.--Victoria Vasconcellos, the petite founder of an Internet retailer in this Chicago suburb, is in the thick of a regulatory battle that could affect millions of American cigarette smokers.

Ms. Vasconcellos imports electronic cigarettes from a Chinese manufacturer and sells them on her website, Cignot.com, to 14,000 customers. The 48-year-old is part of a growing legion of e-cigarette purveyors who are defying the Food and Drug Administration, which contends the nascent nicotine products are drug devices that require pre-market approval and may pose their own health risks. The FDA began intercepting shipments of the products from China two years ago.


But, but, but -- we haven't told you can yet!


The Commerce Clause

It's like hearing me drone on and on about Wickard v Filburn and Raich v Gonzales -- except with good production values.

Awesome.

SCOTUS Posted by John Kranz at 3:24 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Libtard: "I think what people choose to eat well might be regarded as a personal liberty."

MIGHT?

Libtard: "What we put into our bodies really is part of our freedom, but there's not a freedom to not have medical care."

Why not?

Libtard: "Power can be used in silly ways, and the Constitution isn't our protector against undesirable government actions, only unconstitutional ones."

Begging the question, what is unconstitutional?

From the beginning...

Libtard: "And the Supreme Court very broadly defined the scope of Congress' commerce power (...) Congress can regulate any activity that taken cumulatively has an effect on interstate commerce." "Taken cumulatively" meaning "if everyone did it."

Per the Constitution, Article I, Section 8:
[The Congress shall have power] To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian Tribes;

Seems to depend on what the meaning of the word "regulate" is.

1. to control or direct by a rule, principle, method, etc.

2. to adjust to some standard or requirement, as amount, degree, etc.

Posted by: johngalt at August 26, 2010 3:26 PM

Obama Prevaricated, Seniors Got Unmedicated!

Three Rabbis and an Eskimo walk into a gay bar. The ostrich says "If you like your current health care plan -- you can keep it!" Ha! That one gets me everytime. AP:

WASHINGTON -- A plan by Medicare to try to make it simpler for consumers to pick drug coverage could force 3 million seniors to switch plans next year whether they like it or not, says an independent analysis.

That risks undercutting President Barack Obama's promise that people can keep their health plans if they like them.

And it could be an unwelcome surprise for many seniors who hadn't intended to make a change during Medicare's open enrollment season this fall.

To be fair, they are trying to make it easier to pick coverage. If there's only one plan...

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 11:50 AM | What do you think? [2]
But jk thinks:

Dang, I thought I had a winner with the headline. I tweeted and did a bit of link whoring. Blogging does feed one's humility. If my Mom were here...

Posted by: jk at August 25, 2010 3:48 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"Got unmedicated" is one two many syllables. Mabye "de-medicated" would have done the trick.

Posted by: johngalt at August 26, 2010 2:43 PM

August 24, 2010

Building Mosques and Building Dialog

James Taranto rarely misses the point. But I suggest that he has on the groundzeromosqueraversy.

He has devoted many column inches to this topic. Today, he opens with

So what are we to make of Faisal Abdul Rauf, the imam whose plans to build a fancy mosque near Ground Zero have caused such a frenzy? Even backers of his plan disagree sharply.

Not to say evaluations of Imam Raul are not germane and all, but I think his level of moderation or actual intent is quite beside the point. Clearly, he is a right bastard.

A real moderate or a caring clergyman would not pursue this. You'd have to be a bastard to do it, since he continues, I think syllogism proves my point.

And yet in America we let bastards be bastards rather than empower government to determine who can be and where. A decent man would not dishonor New Yorkers and Americans. But I'd rather Imam Son'f'bitch proceed than empower the government to protect us from offense.

But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Great rhetorical question, JG.

The issue of separation of Islam and Sharia Law has been underdiscussed in the national discourse. It is mentioned, but not as part-and-parcel of Islam. Certainly, most Muslims in this country abide by the law of the land.

England is experiementing with Sharia courts to adjudicate Muslim issues. This is described as "a law within a law," but is in fact "a law above the law." Sharia law is allowed to supercede English law. Muslims basically get to choose whichever court is most to their advantage.

Not here - no way, no how.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 26, 2010 4:09 PM
But jk thinks:

I am not advocating for Sharia law. I am advocating for freedom of worship as provided for in the First Amendment. I'm uncomfortable denying that right because of what some members did.

You may legitimately prosecute someone who incites violence, jg, no argument. But you cannot deny their right to build a place of worship because they might someday say it.

Posted by: jk at August 26, 2010 4:44 PM
But johngalt thinks:

On Main Street in Pittstown you've got a point. A stone's throw from the site of 9/11 is far different. (And what's wrong with the Islamic "place of worship" 11 blocks from there?) New York city, state and the federal governments, in their infinite political correctness, have yet to build a "Ground Zero" memorial to the innocent victims of 9/11 who were murdered nearly 10 years ago. The possibility of a monument to the faith and ideology that spawned the 9/11 murderers being built there first is intolerable to the countrymen of those innocent victims, not to mention their families.

Or have we forgotten? ("It isn't Islamophobia when they really ARE trying to kill you.")

Posted by: johngalt at August 27, 2010 9:43 AM
But johngalt thinks:

This also seems to be germane to the conversation. I found it while searching our archives for a "have we forgotten" link.

Posted by: johngalt at August 27, 2010 9:45 AM
But jk thinks:

I love the blog but this one would be best conducted with very loud voices over very dark beer.

I'm completely down with you, jg. It makes me want to puke that this loser is erecting a monument to Osama Bin Laden's great victory in 2001. I hate it with every morsel of my being.

But part of freedom is allowing other people to do things you hate. And to answer your direct points, I'll return to "who decides?" Brother jg says there's already a mosque -- what is the correct density? It's too close to ground zero -- so we establish a mosque free zone? How many blocks is okay? Imam Rauf is not moderate enough -- who draws the line?

The answer is to let free people do legal things as they choose. AND BE PROUD! There are no churches in Saudi Arabia, but there are mosques in the 9/11 debris field. We're good. Freedom is good.

Posted by: jk at August 27, 2010 10:23 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Well, let's talk about the two types of law. There's the "natural law" that Jefferson and Bastiat talked about, which is that people have rights and can defend themselves against aggressors (including organizing with others for voluntary, common defense). Bastiat noted that "the law" itself became "perverted" from the concept of collective energies of defending rights to taking from one man and giving to another.

Sharia law is statutory law: it's not based on natural rights, but rather it's codified law that imposes the rule of one individual upon others. Women and infidels are second-class citizens. Now, if Mrs. Ali Akbar Husseini al-Hamid wants to follow the terms of Sharia law in her marriage, and she is voluntarily subjecting herself to the terms of a law she believes is correct, then it's her business. The problem is that Sharia law doesn't work that way. She's liable to get her head chopped off in an honor killing, like that poor woman in upstate New York who wanted to divorce her bastard husband.

However, we can't lump everyone together and say that the mosque will be based on Sharia law, and even if it were, we can't hold all members accountable for actions they may not necessarily support. If there's evidence that it's a haven for terrorists, then we have reason to shut the whole thing down. If there's some husband abusing his wife and justifying it under his "traditional law," then we can do something about him, but it would still be hard-pressed to make a case against the whole mosque.

As JK said, freedom means that others will do things you don't like. One liberal myth is that we need to "respect" others. Unalienable rights don't require anyone to "respect" others or what they do, only that you don't infringe on others' rights. So we can think the local imam is lower than dog poop, while still not infringing on his equal freedoms of speech and property.

I don't want this mosque built. It's a deliberate monument to the hijackers that I am damn sure the mosque-goers are glorifying. The very name "Cordoba" is from what the Moors did in Spain to commemorate a victory. However, we can't use the same darkness that our enemies use against us. We need to use the light of freedom, showing them that we won't stop them from building here, but we will be watching every last little thing they do, and we're already exposing them for what they are.

I wonder what "tolerance" and "mutual respect" would greet, say, students from a Hasidic yeshiva if they went to the mosque for a field trip?

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 27, 2010 11:48 AM

Another Boulder Power Boondoggle

Perhaps you've heard about the "green" power initiative called "smart grid." According to Wikipedia, "A smart grid, is, in essence, an attempt to require consumers to change their behavior around variable electric rates or to pay vastly increased rates for the privilege of reliable electrical service during high-demand conditions." Well, who in their right mind wouldn't want THAT in their home?!

As it is often eager to do, the city of Boulder, Colorado wanted to be a pioneer in transforming the smart grid into reality so they colluded with utility company Xcel Energy to wire up 23,000 homes at a projected cost in the neighborhood of $20 million. Now that the experiment is over and the final price was $45 million Xcel says, "We would not do that again over the whole service area," But in bailing out on the added cost Boulder says, "There is not a clear consensus among the members of the Boulder City Council with regard to the value of SmartGridCity in its present state or the prudence of this investment."

What? Boulder City Council considering the "prudence" of "investing" residents' money based upon "value?" Pinch me!

But Keith Arnold thinks:

I've spotted the fallacy in your text. You have the phrase "... who in their right mind..." in a discussion of Boulder politics. That's like saying "... what thinking voter..." in a discussion of California politics. Sort of a sociological division by zero; logic fails, the fabric of the universe is rent asunder, Cthulhu awakens, and in the end, chaos.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at August 24, 2010 4:07 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Not exactly a fallacy, merely sarcasm. For anyone who jumps up and says, "OOOh, pick me, pick me" to have his behavior dictated by the capricious pricing schemes of do-gooder utility bureaucrats (who couldn't explain a BTU with both hands) is most certainly not in his right mind.

Posted by: johngalt at August 25, 2010 3:02 PM
But jk thinks:

I'm just glad I saw "couldn't explain a BTU with both hands" before I drank my coffee, Five stars for that'n.

Posted by: jk at August 25, 2010 3:13 PM

Merle Hazzard

Love this guy -- HT: Prof Mankiw


I Feel Consumer Protected, You?

Yes, Mister Mencken, we are getting consumer protection "good and hard."

If I may link Ms. McArdle twice, she brings a bit of obvious news that everybody else seems to be ignoring. In the fanfare and victory lap over the last bit of regulations being enacted -- all our credit card rates went up! And -- mirabile freakin' dictu -- the responsible will be shouldering the bill for the less responsible:

As Carolyn Maloney says in the article, "Better that consumers should know up-front what the interest rate is, even if it's higher, than to be soaked on the back-end by tricks and hidden fees."

Of course, lots of people weren't being soaked on the back end by tricks and hidden fees; the people who pay their bills on time or even early. Those people are paying more, while folks who have temporary cash flow problems (or permanent forgetfulness) will pay somewhat less. Whether or not you think this is fair depends on a set of moral judgments about indebtedness; do the timely bill payers deserve a bonus for living within their means, or do the bill-missers deserve some help because they're more likely to be hard up?

Hat-tip: Instapundit

UPDATE: The WSJ Ed Page Piles on:

How much more consumer protection can credit-card customers stand? If President Obama selects activist law professor Elizabeth Warren to head the new Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, we will soon have an answer. Meantime, thanks to a recent flurry of federal rule-making and legislating, consumers are already learning that "consumer protection" means higher interest rates and fewer card options.

111th Congress Posted by John Kranz at 11:58 AM | What do you think? [2]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Speaking of consumer protection, I learned last night that the FDA regulates what constitutes "fruit cocktail," what fruits must be in it and in what proportions. Wow! Thank NED I've got the government on my side! Otherwise, I'd be faced with opening the can and deciding if I liked it or not.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 25, 2010 11:03 AM
But jk thinks:

Heh. Seems a fitting allegory for government control in both name and excitement. Let them do for health care what they've done for Fruit Cocktail!

Posted by: jk at August 25, 2010 11:45 AM

Quote of the Day

Economists and forecasters were predicting an awful 13% decline in existing home sales for July, to 4.65 million units. This, we were told solemnly, would be the worst since 2009.

In hindsight, those making the predictions seem to have been the sort of wild-eyed optimists whose sunny belief in the strength of the housing market got us into this mess in the first place. The actual figure for home sales, according to the National Association of Realtors, was 3.83 million--a 27% decline. The last time single-family home sales were this low, Bill Clinton was president, "This is How We Do It" was topping the Billboard charts, and our nation was grieving over a recent terrorist attack--in Oklahoma City. -- Megan McArdle


Deadonomics

I may have to get this book. Doug French at the Ludwig von Mises Institute reviews Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead.

I like the Dead okay, they have a bunch of good songs and their music is real and honest. But living in Boulder County I frequently had to tell friends "there are actually other bands. Like the Dead, they get together and play songs. But they are different people...and they play different songs!"

But it is time to respect one genius aspect: their business acumen. I remember reading In Rolling Stone in the late seventies that they came back from the Egypt tour completely broke. Jerry Garcia didn't have $20 to his name, he told the editors. After that they did okay.

Without going into the five P's of Marketing, they figured out what they were selling. That protected them financially from technological shifts and capricious buying patterns.

So if there were all these bootleg tapes floating around, has anyone been buying Dead albums? I guess so: the band has had 19 gold albums, 6 platinum albums, and 4 albums that have gone multiplatinum.

In their punchy little book, Scott and Halligan point out that the Grateful Dead turned the "the-band-tours-to-support-the-album" concept completely on it's head. For the Dead, the concerts are the experience they are selling. The scarce good is that particular night's performance, and the band makes each performance radically different. The band in its various forms has done over 2,300 shows, and no 2 are alike. Not only have the song lists been different each night, but the band plays different versions of all the songs. Instead of only touring periodically in support of a new album, the Dead has toured constantly.

Committed Deadheads have followed the band around to see hundreds of shows. In some cases these fans support their Dead habit by selling merchandise or food items in the parking lot, and this activity is endorsed by the band. Like Amazon with its affiliate program, the Dead supports anyone who sells band merchandise.

Because the concert experience is the product the band is selling, "technology has continued to be an essential element of live shows," write Halligan and Scott. "In the 1970s it was live concert technology and in 2009 it was a real-time iPhone application."


Create and sell a scarce good; promote it by giving away the non-scarce. Not bad for a bunch of hippies.


MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

Sadly, the Commander-in-chief won't say it and our sad Vice President won't think it. But I will shout it from the ThreeSources Rafters: "Well done, lads and ladies!"

"We've met our goal," Gen. Ray Odierno, the commanding general in Iraq, told reporters Tuesday. "But the story is not about 50,000. The story is that we are continuing to be committed to Iraq. But our commitment is going to change."

Odierno said that going forward, the focus will be on economic, political, cultural, and technological developments as opposed to just the military relationship.

There are currently 49,700 troops in Iraq and that number will remain level through next summer, Odierno said.


That was some partisan excerpting. The AP story leads with props to President Obama for meeting a campaign promise and bringing the troop level below 50,000.

We turned a fear society into a free society and deposed a tyrant who was a threat to the free world. Did we create paradise? I suspect not -- but a free people can.

Thanks to all who serve!

UPDATE: Mark Tapscitt reminds it cost less that the failed stimulus.

But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

"props to President Obama for meeting a campaign promise and bringing the troop level below 50,000."

Yeah. That lying scum will blame Bush when it suits him, and take credit for his predecessor's timeline. And that SOB Biden dared to claim, in front of the VFW no less, "One month after his inauguration, at Camp Lejeune, President Obama laid out a plan for ending the war in Iraq responsibly, and we have followed it closely ever since."

If George Bush had said this in 2004, the lamestream media would have blasted him. "Experts" would have called him optimistic in the face of certain failure. But now the Great Plagiarist can express the very same sentiments without being questioned. "This process can sometimes be frustrating, and there will be ups and downs, but I am confident that the Iraqis will form a national unity government soon."

But if Iraq plunges into darkness once American forces are all gone, it'll be a rewriting of history akin to "We have always been at war with Eastasia." Obama will simply blame Bush for pushing the timeline in the first place.

So how about closing Guantanamo, huh?

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 24, 2010 11:57 AM
But jk thinks:

Even worse to me, Perry, is that the pullout is predicated on the surge which was enthusiastically opposed by Senators Biden and Obama.

Media notwithstanding, I think most Americans recognize the victory as being W's. The wisdom of the enterprise will be debated for some time, but I don't think anyone will attribute victory to Obama-Biden.

Posted by: jk at August 24, 2010 12:15 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Well said and a thoroughly deserved post my blog brother. Like the soldiers I saw riding across the border to Kuwait I will say, "We won!" And in addition to "Thanks to all who serve" I will add "under our government's ridiculous rules of engagement."

And Tapscott's point is important [not to mention that fabulous graph again]: Official CBO price tag for 3 months of war and 5 years, 9 months of nation building is $709 billion, versus $787 billion for the "Stimulus" bill to be spent in 3? years. Those numbers are darned similar, aren't they? It's almost as if the Dems said, "If America can afford to spend over $700bn for war she can afford over $700bn on pork." Nah, they couldn't be that crass, right?

Posted by: johngalt at August 24, 2010 2:56 PM

August 23, 2010

My New Pal

Meet my new buddy, Gary Phaneuf. Like me, he thinks that our freedom is sacrosanct and that we have to allow the mosque to be built, even though it is distasteful to some.

mosque_guy.jpg

Gary and me. Two peas in a pod...

War on Terror Posted by John Kranz at 5:39 PM | What do you think? [0]

Drew Carey, Call Your Office

I hope you caught at least a few of Drew Carey's awesome awesome awesome Reason.tv videos examining his home town's descent into craptitude. From being America's fifth largest city, the Cuyahoga Riviera has faded into irrelevance and privation, while municipal leaders call for more regulation and control. This'll bring 'em home! Insty calls them Big Brother Trash Carts:

Starting next year Cleveland residents face paying a $100 fine if they don't recycle, and the city's new high-tech trash cans will keep track if they don't. The new cans are embedded with radio frequency identification chips and bar codes which keep track of how often residents take them to the curb. If the chip shows you haven't brought your recycle can out in a while, a lucky trash supervisor will go through your can looking for recyclables. From the article: "Trash carts containing more than 10 percent recyclable material could lead to a $100 fine, according to Waste Collection Commissioner Ronnie Owens. Recyclables include glass, metal cans, plastic bottles, paper and cardboard."

But Nick thinks:

I quite dislike this new law. Doing the right thing should NOT be something that you legislate. Otherwise, the right thing becomes the ONLY thing.

Posted by: Nick at August 25, 2010 10:10 PM

Terrorized Enough Already?

Get it? TEA? The offical stance of the TEA party supporting walls and agents and drones &c. Anything but free movement of goods, labor, and capital,

PJTV

Fair enough, I suppose, but I will henceforth not identify myself with the Tea party movement. I got a couple T-Shirts if anybody wants 'em.

But jk thinks:

Fair to a point, but I don't think "our Ku Klux Klan group is totally not racist" is a stirring defense. I have been pretty concerned about this from day one and a trend is clearly underway to roll popular populist programs under the bright yellow Gadsden umbrella.

It started as a very cool shorthand for limited Constitutional government. I think it has become shorthand for "Conservative."

Posted by: jk at August 24, 2010 3:35 PM
But jk thinks:

TO BE CLEAR: I just read my previous comment and did not want anyone to think I was calling Tea Party Illegal Immigration Opponents (TEAPIIOs) racist. I was using the example of the KKK as a group that has a collective identity without a central office controlling it.

Posted by: jk at August 24, 2010 3:40 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

(1) No offense taken, as we all know that the Klan was the militant arm of the DEMOCRAT party.

(2) Gasden flag: good. Gonzalez flag: better.

(3) What sizes are the shirts, and how much you want for them?

(4) I've decided that when the revolution comes, I'm going to call it "The War Of Washington Aggression," just to be contrary.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at August 24, 2010 4:01 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yours is a warranted fear, jk. I see the TEA Party platform ebbing and flowing to include and then discard issues beside "limited Constitutional government." If the TEA Party movement is discredited by association with indefensible causes and left-liberal ad hominem then it will likely dissolve. But the idea that individual 'mericans can rally together to foment opposition to statism has been born. Maybe next time it'll have a better name.

Posted by: johngalt at August 25, 2010 3:09 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:


It's a bad idea; why not express your power by convincing them (in our case, whomever stands for Tea Party in CO). what a bad idea it is, instead of the "I'm taking my vote card home and putting it under my mattress" approach?

Is there such an organization that there's a person or office in CO to call or post? Help a brother out here, who has scant time for PolyTicks.

nb

Posted by: nanobrewer at August 25, 2010 4:25 PM
But jk thinks:

Actually no, nb, The same thing I have always cherished is its Hayekian Spontaneous order. I guess one of the downsides is that there's nobody to call and yell at!

Of course I won't be figuratively "going home" (I am home). I will continue boring people with my thoughts, sending the occasional $50-100 to candidates I like, and looking for a group I can count myself in. I had hoped that I had found it with the Tea Party -- and it has been a gas! I just don't think that describes me anymore.

I completely agree with jg (just this once) that it is great that expectations have been raised and people have been educated. I'd say the same about Glenn Beck's 9-12 thingy, but I would not want people to define me by their stances.

Posted by: jk at August 25, 2010 4:49 PM

Bill Gates Gave at the Office

Mark J. Perry links and likes Kimberly Dennis's excellent exegesis on the "Giving Pledge," adding that "A 2004 paper by Yale Economics Professor William D. Nordhaus concluded that 'only a minuscule fraction of the social returns from technological advances over the 1948-2001 period was captured by producers.'"

In that case, the total value created for society from Bill Gates's innovative activities, including starting Microsoft, far exceeds his own personal gain. In the process of creating benefits for billions of consumers around the globe, Gates has certainly amassed great wealth, but the vast majority of the benefits from Gates's innovative genius have already gone to consumers, as lives around the world have been changed for the better because of Microsoft products. By introducing technological changes that have profoundly and permanently affected the world in immeasurably positive ways, Gates has already generated billions of dollars worth of value for consumers in hundreds of countries, and should feel no obligation to "give back" any more.

Simply put, Gates has already "given at the office," and the contribution to society from his capitalist activities will likely dwarf the contribution to society from his charitable giving, as Kim Dennis suggests.

UPDATE: And the WSJ News Pages even come on board: The Case Against Social Responsibility,

Very simply, in cases where private profits and public interests are aligned, the idea of corporate social responsibility is irrelevant: Companies that simply do everything they can to boost profits will end up increasing social welfare. In circumstances in which profits and social welfare are in direct opposition, an appeal to corporate social responsibility will almost always be ineffective, because executives are unlikely to act voluntarily in the public interest and against shareholder interests.

Irrelevant or ineffective, take your pick. But it's worse than that. The danger is that a focus on social responsibility will delay or discourage more-effective measures to enhance social welfare in those cases where profits and the public good are at odds. As society looks to companies to address these problems, the real solutions may be ignored.


Somewhere, Milton & Rose Friedman are smiling...

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 1:58 PM | What do you think? [6]
But jk thinks:

Sadly, AEI's style guide does dot conform to the modern belief that Gates, like Moses and Jesus, gets a simple apostrophe for a singular posessive. I had hoped that that was catching on...

Posted by: jk at August 23, 2010 3:21 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Fret not, JK - we civilized writers stand firmly on the side of the apostrophe alone for the singular possessive, any time the name ends in an S, X, or Z (Gates', Vasquez'). Some of us even insist on the avoidance of the apostrophe for the plural form of acronyms and abbreviations (ATMs, AR-15s).

Anything else is, well, barbarian. Yet to be resolved is the continuing debate of the final comma in serial lists.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at August 23, 2010 6:53 PM
But jk thinks:

Uh-oh. Immigration, Operating systems, and grammar. I hold a Strunkian attachment to the singular possessive. for all but Jesus' and Moses' things to be possessed. Some blogger once jokingly suggested adding Gates' to the list and I have quietly obliged.

Less dogmatically I hold for last comma in a list except if the list elements are all single words (I think that puts me in with NYTimes guide but not Chicago). And a career in high tech cured me of any use in acronyms. I use it only if -- sesame street style -- you are discussing three S's or four 3's.

Posted by: jk at August 23, 2010 7:49 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

@KA: We have Wheaties, Cheerios, granola and Post Toasties. If you are suggesting that we need a comma between 'Post' and 'Toasties' then I most vehemently object! As Churchill reportedly said, "That is one rule up with which I will not put."

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 24, 2010 12:33 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

@BR: ha. The question I'd raised was the need for a comma between the "granola" and the "and" - unless your Toasties are made from granola AND post (that being the case, I hope for the Saturday Evening variety rather than the Fence variety - much easier on the dental work).

William F. Buckley was a stickler for the inclusion of the comma in question; I am not so sure. Question: should the law firm be "Dewey, Cheatam and Howe" or "Dewey, Cheatam, and Howe"?

As for the Churchill quote, well, I've always told people that a preposition is a bad thing to end a sentence with.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at August 24, 2010 2:22 PM
But jk thinks:

A wealthy Oklahoma oil man walks into the Colby Hotel in Boston, and asks the concierge "Where's the bar at?"

The concierge writhes in agony. "My good man," he says, "in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and most certainly in the city of Boston, and especially in the Colby Hotel, we do not end a sentence with a preposition!"

Our guest thinks a second and smiles.

"Okay, where's the bar at, assh*le!!"

Don't forget to tip your barbenders and walrusses -- drive safe!

Posted by: jk at August 24, 2010 2:53 PM

Surprising Jump in Tax Revenues Is Curbing Deficit

According to the NYTimes, the President's policies seem to be working better than expected:

WASHINGTON — An unexpectedly steep rise in tax revenues from corporations and the wealthy is driving down the projected budget deficit this year, even though spending has climbed sharply because of the war and the cost of [Gulf States] relief.

On Tuesday, White House officials are expected to announce that the tax receipts will be about $250 billion above last year's levels and that the deficit will be about $100 billion less than what they projected six months ago.


You smart kids are way in front of me, aren't you: the date is July 9, 2006. Mister Laffer, Mister Art Laffer, Please call your office!

HT: Insty, showing a startling graph which attributes spending to the Iraq War (Dr. Deepak Lal, please call your office) although Afghanistan seems to be conveniently omitted.

President Bush Posted by John Kranz at 12:52 PM | What do you think? [3]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Before you mentioned the date, I thought, "Geez, $100 billion down, $1.2 trillion to go."

Two years ago, some of us knew what we were in for. We knew we'd look back on "mere" $400 billion deficits as when things weren't so bad.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 23, 2010 2:54 PM
But jk thinks:

Thems was the days, eh!

On a more serious note, the slope of the curve was a lot better back then. Even with war specnding (and A LOT of Republican domestic excesses) it was coming down.

Posted by: jk at August 23, 2010 3:24 PM
But johngalt thinks:

The graph is indeed startling, and illuminating. This is a good time to mention another idea I briefly discussed with brother and sister KA: That Obama-Reid-Pelosi budgets are so unprecedentedly overblown that a massively expensive entitlement and Social Security reform plan could still cost less.

Dagny and I had just read Milton and Rose Friedman's idea of a negative income tax (below a set income level) that replaces ALL other welfare programs. "Gee, that would slash the budget," thought I. But the point is, no matter what the plan, the silver lining of the Obama spending era may be that substantive entitlement reform could actually be politically feasible in the near future.

Posted by: johngalt at August 24, 2010 12:41 AM

The New Face of Feminism

Something I've believed since NOW folded on President Clinton, but Dana Loesch has a great column about "the rebirth of feminism" with conservative women and tea partiers.

This past month, liberal feminists made more hay made over Palin's "mama grizzlies" talk than the matter of the Food and Drug Administration jerking Avastin off the market. Avastin is a drug used to treat late-stage breast cancer and has been shown to extend the life of some breast cancer patients by five months, but was deemed "cost-prohibitive" by the government.

Emily's List cared enough about women to make a video criticizing Palin, but apparently not enough about breast cancer patients to make a video criticizing the FDA's move.


Whole. Piece. Great.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 10:09 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Like.

This piece echoes what I said about women in the GOP here. [17th comment ;)]

And...

Loesch: "It should surprise no one that many conservative women are bucking the notion that liberalism owns the patent on "feminism" and controls whether a woman can or cannot call herself a feminist."

When many racial minorities buck the notion that liberalism owns the patent on "racism" and controls whether a minority person can or cannot call himself self-reliant then more minorities will align themselves with the GOP.

Posted by: johngalt at August 23, 2010 2:53 PM

August 20, 2010

Hickenlooper for Governor!

(Thought that might get your attention.)

In a web version of Democrat candidate John Hickenlooper's first campaign ad for Colorado governor he apparently said, "Colorado needs a governor who brings people together to create jobs and cut government spending." Go Hick! You're the man!

I have to admit I missed the "cut spending" message on my first viewing, but those lefties over at Open Left sure didn't.

Because Republicans are likely to split the vote in this three-way race featuring GOP nominee Dan Maes and third-party candidate Tom Tancredo, this gubernatorial race is all but a coronation for Hickenlooper, which means he could be using the free pass to do what Colorado Democrats in the recent past have been doing to great electoral and public policy success - namely, countering the right's insidious "cut government spending" mantra with a more constructive vision. But instead, Hickenlooper's ad, while certainly cute in its construction, is actually using the free pass to reiterate the Republicans' central (and most legitimately dangerous) argument about what Colorado's fundamental challenge really is.

So why is Hick touting spending cuts? Could he actually believe that Republicans are right? Get outta town! [And here's where I admit my endorsement of him is sarcastic.] Is it because of the reverberating popular theme of public thrift kept alive by the 25% of us who are TEA Partiers? Maybe, if he thinks it will be a close contest with the Republican. But Open Left says "this gubernatorial race is all but a coronation for Hickenlooper." Apparently Hickenlooper isn't so sanguine.

So Harsanyi thinks conservatives should be more frightened of a Maes win than Hickenlooper's? I ask you David, which self-proclaimed spending cutter would you rather have? I'll take the guy who knows what it's like to scramble to pay his mortgage. I'll take Maes.

But Boulder Refugee thinks:

JG, I wish I could share your sanguinity (is that a word?). Anyhow, Hick has a record of dealing with Denver's budget woes, though that's not over. However, he proved to be much tougher fiscally than the City Council. Thus, it's not possible to slough him off as a knee-jerk spender who wrings his hands at the very idea of budget cuts.

I'll admit that Hick has said some moonbat things and maybe Maes will have some luck in framing him as such. (However, that will probably only serve to keep Boulder on board.) Even his moonbattedness (The Refugee making up all kinds of words today) is likely to be regarded as pretty harmless. Maes may know a thing or two about struggling to meet a mortgage and payroll (two elements to be admired) but Hick has proven he can deal with the second largest gov't budget in Colorado. Maes also can't say that he's the only businessman in the race.

Not sayin' I'm changing my vote, just trying to gauge how this thing will play in Paonia.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 23, 2010 10:04 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Just think of me as the guy looking for silver linings in the clouds - and there are plenty of clouds.

Thanks for the good comments.

Posted by: johngalt at August 23, 2010 2:33 PM

Review Corner Done Right!

Oh man, I have been bested:

For the record, 1554 is probably my favorite. But even without that, one has to appreciate what the New Belgium Brewing Blog called his "unpretentious style."

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 2:50 PM | What do you think? [1]
But nanobrewer thinks:

With my moniker, you have to imagine I'd chime in. The folks at NB have my utmost respect and I like their beers (specifically, Blue Paddle Pils - THE summer quaff). That being said, I like 1554 but never seek it out.

I like my dark beers like my women: dark, a bit bitter, and even a bit mysterious.

Be good all.

Posted by: nanobrewer at August 25, 2010 7:15 AM

More on Broomfield Stem Cell Ban

We had a go round last month. I am quick to oppose the FDA on any issue, any time, any place but was concerned with the language of the opposition.

Ari Armstrong tweets about a Post story and I think that the folks have good point

Dr. Chris Centeno, a pioneer in stem-cell research and co-founder of Regenerative Science's Centeno-Schultz clinic and its Regenexx procedure, said in a statement that the injunction was "litigation posturing."

While Centeno has agreed to the FDA's demand to stop culturing the cell products, his clinic's statement said his team welcomes a chance "to question the FDA's policy that adult stem cells can be classified as drugs when used as part of a medical practice."

Centeno's clinic -- one of the first to move from stem-cell research into practice -- draws stem cells from a patient's bone marrow, grows more in an outside lab and reinjects the tissue-repairing cells back into ailing joints. The company's website says it has treated 416 patients since 2006.

The FDA in 2008 sent Centeno a letter warning that he needed federal approval and licensing for the process. The FDA said it considers the cells drugs that fall under federal regulation.

Centeno argues the stem cells he uses are body parts, akin to fertilized eggs.

"The only difference is that we're using stem cells and fertility clinics use fertilized eggs," said Dr. John Schultz, a co-founder of the Centeno-Schultz clinic, in the company statement.



Like me, but she writes clearly

Kimberly Dennis, president and CEO of the Searle Freedom Trust, makes all my points today. Forcefully. Eloquently. And without sentence fragments and opening conjunctions.

Will Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, and that Buffett fellow succeed in their philanthropy? And are they right to ask others to join and do more?

Successful entrepreneurs-turned-philanthropists typically say they feel a responsibility to "give back" to society. But "giving back" implies they have taken something. What, exactly, have they taken? Yes, they have amassed great sums of wealth. But that wealth is the reward they have earned for investing their time and talent in creating products and services that others value. They haven't taken from society, but rather enriched us in ways that were previously unimaginable.

Even if Mr. Gates makes progress in achieving his ambitious philanthropic objectives--eradicating disease, reducing global poverty, and improving educational quality--these accomplishments are unlikely to match what he achieved by giving us the amazing capability we literally have at our fingertips to access and spread information. The very doctors and scientists who may develop cures for diseases like malaria will rely on the tools Microsoft supplies to conduct their research. Had Mr. Gates decided to step down from his company and turn to philanthropy sooner than he did, they might have fewer such tools.


Awesome on stilts with a big hat. Holler if you'd like me to mail you the whole piece (we'll consider it Rupert's donation...)

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 12:24 PM | What do you think? [7]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Having been an IT industry analyst for most of the 2000's, The Refugee had the good fortune of a front-row seat to the evolution of the industry and a chance to contemplate its evolution. This included meetings with some of the scions such as Michael Dell and Scott McNealy, though he never personally met Gates or Ellison.

You can say many things about all of these highly competitive, driven individuals and the postive impact they had on the industry. You can also point to petty bickering driven by envy. But, whereas Ellison, McNealy, Dell, Jobs and others transformed the industry, Gates tranformed the world.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 20, 2010 1:36 PM
But jk thinks:

I'm a uniter, not a divider! Yes, ka, Bill's OSs are forced upon me by my financial superiors. Yet I'll join br and raise him one personal anecdote:

Without Microsoft, it seems almost certain that I would be on permanent disability. Ubiquitous, distributed computing power is the foundation of my being able to work and contribute. Engineers whine that he is not an innovator, but the idea of a $29 OS was a world changing innovation.

On their "right" to give money away. Sure, why not. But we need to ensure that more people hear Ms. Dennis's opinion. These people benefitted society a lot more acquiring their stash than giving it away.

Posted by: jk at August 20, 2010 2:33 PM
But johngalt thinks:

So these folks have "agreed" to donate "at least half of their wealth to charity" i.e. alms, they will be diverting that capital from possible productive and job-creating uses to works of market failure. Gee, I'm so impressed.

Tell me how many would have agreed if they were incapable of feeling unearned guilt, i.e. responsibility for the actions of others. Objectivism says they did not consciously agree, they were looted at the point of an idea named altruism.

Posted by: johngalt at August 20, 2010 9:11 PM
But jk thinks:

Pat yourself on the back, jg, you've made a breakthrough.

Rand's aversion to altruism always struck me as abstract, but you have captured my (is "disgust" too strong a word?) at this story. There is a societal coercion here.

While Buffett and Gates don't hold guns to heads, their leadership dictates "how a successful business person should behave." Gates was criticized for stinginess when he was building the company -- now he has set the bar so as to make it difficult for the next person to focus attention and capital on productive pursuits.

Posted by: jk at August 21, 2010 10:32 AM
But jk thinks:

Insty links to a person who really just excerpted the story, but adds something that contributes to my visceral reaction: the corruption and incompetence of the non-profit sector.

Laugh at me if you want, but when my man, President George W. Bush called for volunteerism, I made a serious effort. I worked with three non-profits and evaluated many more. Looking for a fit I never found.

Lack of profit motive can be discussed abstractly, but when you work in the private sector and spend weeknights setting up computer networks for youth shelters, you see the effects first-hand. I saw more misfeasance than mal- but the structure is perfect for both. Your salary is based on telling a good story -- if the entire management team is hopelessly incompetent, counter-intuitively arrogant and possibly corrupt, well, we're trying to do great things, aren't we?

I find myself getting upset just typing about it. I had forgotten the level of disillusionment but these are bad memories.

Posted by: jk at August 21, 2010 11:07 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Indeed. There is something concretely purifying about the profit motive.

And as for Gates, Buffet, et. al., someone please send them a copy of Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal.

And this, from the Ayn Rand Letter (same link):

As a group, businessmen have been withdrawing for decades from the ideological battlefield, disarmed by the deadly combination of altruism and Pragmatism. Their public policy has consisted in appeasing, compromising and apologizing: appeasing their crudest, loudest antagonists; compromising with any attack, any lie, any insult; apologizing for their own existence. Abandoning the field of ideas to their enemies, they have been relying on lobbying, i.e., on private manipulations, on pull, on seeking momentary favors from government officials. Today, the last group one can expect to fight for capitalism is the capitalists.

Posted by: johngalt at August 21, 2010 2:47 PM

Still Hailing Harsanyi?

The last libertarian in conventional media executes a brutal, prison yard shanking of Tea Party and ThreeSources's darling Dan Maes.

There's no crime in the average guy, the political neophyte, the Common Man, running for political office. I wish more people would. But too many Colorado conservatives and activists have tied their political future to the silly belief that any everyman candidate is superior to any establishment one.

No, it's not because Maes hit up an 80-something woman for 300 bucks (cash!) to help pay his mortgage. You know, I get that. No one forced her, right? Nor is it because he finagled tens of thousands in gas money through his campaign contributions. I'm actually kind of impressed.

And it's not that bicycle enthusiasts aren't sort of creepy. They are. And it's not that the United Nations isn't a hive of petty tyrants. It is. And, in our hearts, we all know that John Hickenlooper, if he could get away with it, would make Denver a signatory on a One World Commie Bike Plot.

It's just that responsible people generally understand those kinds of thoughts should be reserved for internal dialogue.


After that, he goes a little bit negative. Ouch.

CO Governor Posted by John Kranz at 10:14 AM | What do you think? [17]
But johngalt thinks:

A libertarian opinion journalist writes condemnations of the Democrat and the Republican candidate: Who'da thunk it?

And let's not forget he works at the Post, where the "Maes is an incompetent" Kool-Aid is served in every water cooler.

Posted by: johngalt at August 20, 2010 8:57 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

Long before Robert Taft secured the Republican nomination for the Presidency he had to secure the senate seat of Ohio. While on a campaign rally to do just that a sly reporter asked his wife in front of the campaign crowd, "Is your husband a common man?"

“Oh no,” she retorted, “he is not that at all. He was first in his class at Yale and first in his class at Harvard Law School. I think it would be wrong to present a common man as a representative of the people of Ohio.”

With this said Mrs. Taft turned away - and saw the gathered crown delivering an applause.

The population of America lies a hair above 301 million persons. Given this extraordinarily large number of people from which to choose we should have no difficulty finding the smartest, most capable men for running our public offices. Heck, we shouldn't have a problem finding incredibly capable and talented men and women who agree with our politics. The state of Colorado has some 4 million people in it. This is a lot of people. If you were to stand one Coloradan on top of another up through the atmosphere you would not just get to space - you would get to space and still have folks left over. You could construct sixty seven human towers before you ran out of people.

And out of this the best you can find is John Maes? Better than his opponent, by all measures, but is he the best? When the pool is 4 million big why should the people of Colorado settle for a common man?


JG asks if Harsanyi believes the electorate is too stupid to choose their own representatives. Harsanyi implies it; I will say so outright. I have no faith in the American people's ability to choose their own representatives. A third of us don't even bother to vote. And of those who do? Well, just look at Washington. They are the representatives elected by the people.

I'm reminded of the end line of one of my favorite Onion pieces. Says the fictional Obama:

At this point, the only positive thing I can say about the American people is that I'm pretty sure they've never rigged an election in their favor.


Posted by: T. Greer at August 21, 2010 1:44 AM
But jk thinks:

Taft. The thought of the 300 pounder in the oval office warms my heart to no end. And he was smart enough to buffalo TR into believing he was progressive -- then governed as a Constitutional Chief Magistrate. The horse is gonna be ok, Secretary Root.

The Mencken quote in the linked piece, alas, does Tyler Cowen in a single sentence. "Good and Hard," indeed.

But something is missing in the "elite versus commoner" discussion. The trouble with elites is Hayek's "Fatal Conceit." They're so elite, they think they should boss us around.

Posted by: jk at August 21, 2010 10:20 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Frankly, I vacillate back and forth between "the public are idiots" and "the electorate is not stupid." Of course the reality is that a collective can not be judged for its intelligence. Only individuals can. Similarly, only individuals can choose to stand for election and most successful and competent ones have no interest. [Why, exactly, is a deep subject for another time.]

Is Dan Maes "the best you can find" to be governor of Colorado? No, he's merely the best who offered up his services to do so.

Posted by: johngalt at August 21, 2010 2:57 PM
But jk thinks:

Well, Rover -- I mean jg -- you bring up what is sadly one of the important functions of the hated conventional party apparatus: candidate recruitment. I'll re-hawk Peter Robinson's It's My Party. Republicans find this especially difficult because the ideal GOP candidate could make ten times the money with half the crap in the private sector.

Don't mean to be too negative, but I do mean to point out that we cannot just destroy the party -- we have to rebuild it.

Posted by: jk at August 22, 2010 11:02 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I'm not sure I agree that a millionaire is the "ideal" GOP candidate but your point is taken. One of the criticisms of Maes is that he "only" sold his business interest for six figures and that his reported income was below the poverty line for two years. This is typical of entrepeneurs - feast or famine. And how many millionaires got where they are without a head start through "connections?"

I haven't read the Peter Robinson book but the summary says he thinks the party has a problem attracting minorities and women. I have to think the gender thing is overblown, given the number of female GOP candidates on the scene and female campaign volunteers I've met in my associations with Maes and Ken Buck. But they came to the party wilfully, not because of some top-down "outreach" effort. Minorities do the same thing but dominant media dismisses and ridicules them, effectively dissuading others.

Posted by: johngalt at August 22, 2010 12:17 PM

Media: Getting it right, every time.

The Tragic Death of Practically Everyting.

Hat-tip: Jonathan V Last

Technology Posted by John Kranz at 7:15 AM | What do you think? [0]

August 19, 2010

Power Corrupts. Power Point Corrupts Absolutely

Politico has the slide show developed to help the Democrats "sell" ObamaCare® I thought hopes for GOP Midterm Tsunamis were overblown. Until I saw this presentation.

Slide 19:
It is critical to reassure seniors that Medicare will not be cut
[Don't mention the $500 Billion cut in Medicare]

Slide 20:
Tell non college educated women that the health care law passed, Explain what is in the law and how it will affect them. Let them know they can keep the coverage they have now.
[If they didn't want to be lied to, they should have gone to college.]

Slide 21:
Tell latinos that the health care law passed, explain what is in the law by using a personal story...
[Say Jennifer Lopez is injured on the way to pick up some tortillas...that's a good one]

Slide 22:
For Voters Under 40...Do not make grand claims about the law. Use 'improve it' language.

Slide 24 (penultimate):
Do Nots:
-- list benefits outside of personal context;
-- say the law will reduce costs and deficit.
[Ooops.]


Hat-tip: @JimPethokoukis, who summarizes "Dem strategy to change healthcare opinion by public: anecdotes, lots of anecdotes "

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 6:22 PM | What do you think? [0]

Bart Simpson in Florida Primary?

Colorado's primary season may have seemed like a circus, but compared to Florida, it is pretty tame. Apparently, the allegations concerning Democrat Jeff Greene's bid for the Senate nomination has the press in a tizzy:

Florida media has been in an NC-17 feeding frenzy over Greene's personal life. Newspapers, airwaves and blogs are carrying purported first-hand accounts of sex and drug parties on Greene's yacht before his marriage in 2007.

[...]

"Look, did I have parties on the yacht? We had parties," he said. "Did we have parties like they are describing? Absolutely not. And there is no pictures. That is what I'm saying. There were never any pictures of anything."

"I didn't do it, nobody saw me, and you can't prove anything."

Senate Posted by Boulder Refugee at 4:01 PM | What do you think? [3]
But jk thinks:

We're doing our best to keep up with the Sunshine State:

Maes refuses to leave Colorado gubernatorial race

Maybe if Rep Tancredo bought him a cookie, he'd forget that primary election thingy that he won.

Posted by: jk at August 19, 2010 4:17 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

When you've lost Harsanyi, you've lost the intellectual Right. http://www.denverpost.com/harsanyi/ci_15832381

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 20, 2010 9:59 AM
But johngalt thinks:

From the 'Maes refuses...' link:

Tancredo said he wanted to make "one last effort" to edge Maes out so the Republicans could find a "better candidate."

On Tuesday I heard Tancredo tell [radio host] Peter Boyles that the "better candidate" he suggested to Wadhams was Ted Harvey. Yeah, makes sense Tom would like him. Independent voters however...?

Posted by: johngalt at August 20, 2010 2:55 PM

Coffeehousin'

Coffeehouse

What a Wonderful World

"What a Wonderful Song!"


Live at the Coffeehouse dot Com

-- And a corporeal gig coming up! A week from Saturday,August 28, I'll be playing with my friend Kirk at his new wine store: City Wine, 347 S, Colorado Blvd. Come down in the afternoon for tasting and a couple sets.


Maybe Not, Eh?

Not long ago, some fellow with my intials was waxing poetic about freedom in Canada.

Maybe that was a wee bit premature:

For 10 years, libertarian activist and scholar Peter Jaworski has thrown an annual summer seminar and party on the Clarington, Ontario property owned by his parents, Marta and Lech. The Liberty Summer Seminar typically features speeches from libertarian activists and scholars followed by live music and food. This year Peter's parents, who fled to Canada from communist Poland in the 1980s, face a $50,000 fine for violating local zoning laws.
[...]
Marta Jaworski, 57, said she and her husband, also 57, are “devastated” by the charge, which she called a “taste” of the oppression they felt in Poland before fleeing in 1984 to Germany and later Canada.

“It is a feeling to be hunted. They come in uniforms . . . ,” she said, starting to cry.


First they came for the "commercial conference centres..." Jeeburs!

Hat-tip: Instapundit

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 2:56 PM | What do you think? [0]

"Public" Utilities Malfeasance

Colorado's HB 1365, which I railed against last March, directed electric utility company Xcel Energy to "study" the economic benefits of converting existing coal-fired plants to use natural gas. But don't confuse them with any facts.

Xcel now says building brand new gas fired plants and tearing down the coal units would be cheaper still. How? Well, there are some tax benefits, but there's also a new 10-year contract with natural gas provider Andarko Petroleum.

It almost sounds as though it were a fixed-price contract, but one that long would be most unusual. Historically gas contracts run only a year, said Stutz.

Wouldn’t it be easier to make his case if the gas contract were made public? Perhaps, but he said the gas contract is proprietary information.

Hmmm. Proprietary information? Public utility?

But don't expect the Public Utilities Commission to look out for the public. Ron Binz, the chairman of the Colorado PUC, is an environmental activist.

Historically commissioners have not been involved in negotiating controversial legislation that they may end up implementing. A hands-off approach makes sense if you’re supposed to be a neutral arbiter. You rarely hear of judges at any level participating in legislation.

But Binz was quite active in the negotiations involving HB 1365 before it was introduced, as e-mails uncovered in a court proceeding revealed.

He’s also an advocate for climate-change legislation at the national level, and heads the climate task force of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners.

To quote Mythbusters' Jamie Hyneman, "Well THERE'S your PROBLEM!"


jk Solves the Mortgage Crisis

And I don't think ThreeSourcers will hate this one.

Same concern, but no taxpayer put this time.

When you buy a home, you are allowed to borrow some portion of your IRA or 401k funds. Since it is a loan to yourself, there are no tax implications. The smart guys in front are ahead of me by now. Why not let me borrow IRA funds to pay the underwater portion of my primary home mortgage?

This would be a better use of my money, would make my creditors sleep better at night, and would allow me to qualify for that refi I was drooling over.

My money. You're just "allowing" me to put it to a better use. It's gorgeous. It's perfect. Where am I wrong?

UPDATE: How about some examples, scarecrow? Say a hypothetical guy bought a hypothetical condominium in 2008. It has a lovely view and fits his hypothetical needs well. But an appraiser claims it has lost 30% and is now 50,000 underwater.

He lends himself 50K from retirement funds at the 10 yr T-bill rate (276 bps today):

Loan Rate Mo Pymt
200K5.25%$1104
replaced by:
150K5.25%828
50K2.76%204

His personal balance sheet is now rectified, his payment is lowered, and 20% of his mortgage is paid to himself. Plus, he now qualifies for refinancing:

Loan Rate Mo Pymt
200K5.25%$1104
replaced by:
150K4.50%760
50K2.76%204
Posted by John Kranz at 12:26 AM | What do you think? [2]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Like.

I would go further and say that you do not have to loan the money to yourself and pay it back. Retirement plans are tax deferred, but so are capital gains on real estate.

Some might argue that as a principle residence you may never have to pay tax on the gain. (In your example, if the value increased $50K after the refi you would not have to pay tax on that gain. whereas you would if it were removed from a 401(k).)

Even if that's true, this is still a private sector solution to find the bottom of the real estate market and a way for homeowners to bail themselves out at no cost to taxpayers (or a minimal amount of uncertain foregone tax receipts). The economy is back on solid footing without a taxpayer or government-directed bailout.

Brilliant!

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 19, 2010 10:40 AM
But jk thinks:

Thanks, br. I'm liking this one.

I would join you on a tax and penalty holiday for early withdrawals. I omit it because it makes it 100% neutral to tax revenue. But mostly, because it insulates from accusations that irresponsible people (who must be protected from all financial instruments by a benevolent government, chaired by Rep. Frank and Senator Dodd) will cash out their retirements and buy widescreen TVs or smoke crack or watch Glenn Beck or something.

A rebuilding of more liquid assets is probably appropriate and I would not object to requiring it.

Posted by: jk at August 19, 2010 2:30 PM

August 18, 2010

jk has been saved!

My ThreeSources Brothers and Sisters were there for my weakness. Gently, but firmly, they suspended my descent into dirigisme.

My suggestion of FHA jiggered refis of FHA loans was wrong. LisaM was correct in pointing out that I was stealing value from the holders of performing loans. As such it violates the 5th Amendment.

It seemed pretty give and take to me, but I see a second at least equally serious flaw. Government meddling will -- as usual -- crowd out free market solutions. The WSJ News Pages introduce us to homeowners' being "Saved by Vultures" (another cool blog name...)

Anna and Charlie Reynolds of St. George, Utah, were worried about losing their home to foreclosure last year. Then they got a lucky break--from an unlikely savior.

Selene Residential Mortgage Opportunity Fund, an investment fund managed by veteran mortgage-bond trader Lewis Ranieri, acquired the loan at a deep discount and renegotiated the terms with the Reynolds. The balance due was cut to $243,182 from $421,731, and the interest rate was lowered. That reduced the monthly payment to $1,573 from $3,464, allowing the family to stay in their home despite a drop in Mr. Reynolds' income as a real-estate agent. "It was a miracle," says Ms. Reynolds.

Buy the bad paper at a big discount, renegotiate at a smaller discount. What a concept!

I will say 20 Saint Fredrichs and endeavor to sin no more.

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 1:57 PM | What do you think? [3]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

First of all, thank you for the Word of the Day, "dirigisme." The Refugee had to look it up.

LisaM's argument was a most persuasive and erudite analysis - far superior to the Neaderthal attempts of The Refugee.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 18, 2010 3:59 PM
But jk thinks:

But the Refugee immediately saw that it was flawed.

Posted by: jk at August 18, 2010 4:12 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

"LisaM was correct in pointing out that I was stealing value from the holders of performing loans. As such it violates the 5th Amendment."

I had missed that part of the discussion, otherwise I'd have definitely zeroed in on that. Flatly, this use of the 5th Amendment is absurd and unnecessary. If you have to stretch like this to explain why a government action is wrong, you've got problems: your government can clearly do about anything it wants. Or are you already giving up on the "I cannot undertake to lay my finger" argument?

Any bailout by the government is wrong simply because it IS stealing. Money is taken from someone without consent, then given to someone else. It doesn't matter if the beneficiaries are living purely on the public dole or are looking for a housing bailout.

But how is this legal plunder to be identified? Quite simply. See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime.

Then abolish this law without delay, for it is not only an evil itself, but also it is a fertile source for further evils because it invites reprisals. If such a law—which may be an isolated case—is not abolished immediately, it will spread, multiply, and develop into a system.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 20, 2010 10:53 AM

EVERYTHING'S FINE!

Don't worry, the President has fixed that economy thing. It just takes a long time.

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- President Barack Obama used the homey backdrop of a middle-class Ohio family's backyard Wednesday to try to show voters he shares their concerns about the economy, health care and Social Security.

Jacket off and sleeves rolled up, Obama took questions from the Weithman family and a small group of their neighbors arrayed around picnic tables and lawn chairs. His message was familiar: The economy needs more work, but it's getting better.

"A lot of it is like recovering from an illness," the president said. "You get a little bit stronger each day."


At the risk of setting off a ThreeSources analogy arms race, it is like recovering from a heart attack and going on the Spurlock, "Supersize Me" diet, Mr. President.

But Keith Arnold thinks:

The Prezznit HAS fixed the economy. Of course, I mean that in the veterinary sense.

It'll never reproduce again.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at August 18, 2010 2:25 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Good one, KA - not quite a coffee spewer, but pretty good nonetheless.

BTW, isn't "preznit" spelled with only one "z"? Didn't come up on spell-check, so just asking...

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 18, 2010 4:04 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Needless consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds, BR. I can't be held accountable for variant spellings of mere words - especially words as made up as the square root of -1.

Besides, taking my cues from the current Administration, I presume the laws of grammar are at least as fluid and mutable as they treat the Constitution...

I've just had a vision of Montgomery Scott in the engine rooms of the US Treasury, shouting out "Mr. President, I canna change the laws of economics!" as smoke fills the engine bay and the warp drives explode. The USS Free Enterprise dissolves into white-hot subatomic particles, the fabric of time-space is destroyed, and the Klingons inherit what's left of the universe as we know it.

Did I just win the analogy arms race?

Posted by: Keith Arnold at August 18, 2010 4:50 PM
But jk thinks:

Unconditional surrender.

Posted by: jk at August 18, 2010 4:56 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I don't believe in the no-win scenario.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 20, 2010 10:59 AM

FDA: A Model for ObamaCare®?

Starting to wonder whether putting the government in charge of health care was a good idea...

The WSJ Ed Page suggests that the FDA is a good model for the politicization of medicine that will spread, pari passu, with Federal influence. Is that what we want?

The Avastin mugging is really an attempt to undermine regulatory modernization like accelerated approval that offends the FDA's institutional culture of control and delay. It is also meant to discourage innovations like Avastin that the political and medical left has decided are too costly, with damaging implications for the next generation of cancer drugs.

The FDA started with a mission of safety. Then it decided it was in charge of efficacy (cf. Erbitux, Sam Waksal, Martha Stewart &c.). Now it has appointed itself the arbiter of cost containment. Sure Avastin suppresses tumor growth in Breast Cancer patients -- but it's awfully expensive.

UPDATE: Ann Althouse and Mickey Kaus and <modesty>me</modesty>are unafraid to call them Death Panels.

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

Medical decisions will be a private discussion between you, your doctor, your God and your bureaucrat. Of the four, who is most powerful and whose opinion will carry the day?

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 18, 2010 12:45 PM

August 17, 2010

Maes - Williams

"We don't have a teleprompter -- this campaign can't afford one!"
Dan Maes introduces his running mate, Tambor Williams.

maes_williams.png

CO Governor Posted by John Kranz at 7:31 PM | What do you think? [12]
But jk thinks:

Thanks for the kind words but ThreeSources is a bow-free zone.

I'll vote for the first. My eyes roll back into my head when people tell me their political plan is to "educate the electorate." Yeah, as Joni Mitchell would say "if you want me I'll be at the bar."

But who says that a principled candidate cannot hire competent staff? Politics is what it is and if you have to apply the five P's, I know a young man who can tell you what they are.

Posted by: jk at August 19, 2010 10:38 AM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

JK: thank you, and I agree - on the state of the electorate, the state of politics, and the realities of campaigning.

My alternative about the voting public, though, has an important implication. I believe it was Thomas Jefferson who said "I know of no safe repository of the ultimate power of society but the people." He had faith that the voting public, the body of citizens, would hold the corrupting influence of power in check, and that they would restraint the government, and rightly should. I think we are now looking at a body of citizens who have allowed themselves to become dependent clients of the State, and a large fraction of which - dare I say 52%? - who are voting themselves the public treasury and casting their vote for the candidate who gives them the biggest cut of the booty.

Question: was Jefferson being naive? I covet your thoughts - and those of any other ThreeSourcers who might weigh in.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at August 19, 2010 11:40 AM
But jk thinks:

Yeah. Jefferson was the brain behind American liberty but I think he was hopelessly naive. He wanted a revolution every generation with lots of tyrant and patriot blood for the tree of liberty.

Poetic, but difficult to sell bonds for.

I'm a Madison Man. How can you structure this people's government against people's baser instincts? I think he did a hell of a job - it has taken 220 years for the failures you describe to grow. And who knows -- President Christie might strike them down.

I am blue because of Robert A Caro's Master of the Senate. It is magisterial and frighteningly informative, but he describes the forces of what I call liberty's (he's a Schlessingerite) entanglement with the wrong side of race after WWII. The South once again had the right side of the Constitution but the wrong side of liberty.

My devotion to property rights and the Fifth Amendment right to contract upheld chattel slavery in the Nineteenth Century. My beloved Federalism and separation of powers upheld Jim Crow and obstructed anti-lynching laws in the Twentieth.

I want to repeal the 17th Amendment and de-democratize (little d) the Senate. That provides me with perverse heroes: Sens. Theodore G. Bilbo and Richard Russell. Put the pictures up on the wall.

The answer is a new nation built on Madisonian government without the stain of slavery. I'll need a time machine or a rocket ship.

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

Back to the Governor's race - I'm not worried about packaging as a factor in the race between Maes and Hickenlooper. (You know, the Republican and Democrat in our two-party system?) Voters are not just willing but eager to vote for an everyman. Unfortunately, both of the guys I mentioned fit that mold. The difference, I believe, will be sound fiscal management ideas on Maes part versus happy kumbaya bullcrap from Hickenlooper. But my sense is a majority of voters know what that kumbaya stuff smells like this time around.

Another positive note: Maes press contacts are now being made by a spokesperson and not by himself or his daughter. More professional and easier to jettison the mouthpiece if he makes a gaffe.

Posted by: johngalt at August 19, 2010 2:47 PM
But jk thinks:

Hoping for the best, jg, I just cannot imagine in my wildest dreams Mayor Hickenlooper putting out something like that.

Posted by: jk at August 19, 2010 2:54 PM
But johngalt thinks:

You mean the audio clip and photos? Those are produced by the Face the State blog, not the Maes campaign.

Posted by: johngalt at August 19, 2010 3:07 PM

Comment of the Day

TaxProf shares the interesting info that the IRS "Did Not Comply With Stimulus Act's Procurement Requirements." Good stuff

The IRS received an appropriation of $203 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act) funds. TIGTA determined that the IRS did not always comply with Recovery Act procurement requirements and used annual appropriated funds instead of Recovery Act funds for some procurements. As a result, approximately $385,000 was not available for other IRS mission-critical needs, such as improving taxpayer service or addressing the tax gap.

But I especially enjoyed the first comment:

How did giving the IRS $200 million count as "stimulus" in the first place? -- American Delight

But Keith Arnold thinks:

I'm sure the IRS got a thrill out of receiving and extra $200 million. That IS what you meant by "stimulus," right?

There's a delicious irony in this, though; because of the spending, funds were "... not available for other IRS mission-critical needs, such as improving taxpayer service or addressing the tax gap..." Had they simply applied the $200 mill directly to receipts and reduced said taxes across the board, wouldn't it have done more good?

Of course, I suspect their use of "stimulus" funds for this relies upon that mythical, magical "multiplier" they keep talking about. They believe that every dollar a government agency spends on shiny distractions "creates" a buck-forty in the economy. There's a name for this kind of thinking; by remarkable coincidence, it's the same name as a cable television show, hosts by Penn and Teller...

Posted by: Keith Arnold at August 17, 2010 3:00 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

A thrill certainly shot up my leg when hearing about the IRS getting $200 million more of taxpayer money so that they can go get more taxpayer money. This is what Democrats call an "investment."

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 17, 2010 6:01 PM
But jk thinks:

Yet Brother KA still ridicules the idea of a multiplier...

Posted by: jk at August 17, 2010 6:27 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

I'm a reasonable man, Brother JK, and am intellectually honest enough to bow to reasoned debate. My stance is that the Federal government sucks money from me and millions like me; that money, after spending an expensive night vacationing by the Potomac (which is a frictional loss, supporting a bloated bureaucracy), is spent willy-nilly, against my will and usually against the dictates of common sense, on things that said government either does not need or has no rightful business buying. I would go so far as to opine that, contrary to benefiting from a multiplier, actually suffers catastrophic losses. The return on "investment" (ROI is one of those nifty econ-major acronyms I learned along the way from someone much smarter than me in the dismal science) appears to be negative - as evidenced that I can buy a hammer or a toilet seat for an awful lot let than Congress seems to be able to (deference to Judd Hirsch in ID4 for that sweet reference).

And yet, I am a reasonable man, and open to persuasion.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at August 17, 2010 9:00 PM
But jk thinks:

We clearly need to use more smiley faces, J/Ks, and LOLs around here (and perhaps some OMGs in the lame duck session).

Posted by: jk at August 18, 2010 10:01 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

"Had they simply applied the $200 mill directly to receipts and reduced said taxes across the board, wouldn't it have done more good?"

But that isn't deficit-neutral, you see. Returning borrowed money isn't a net zero in liberal Bizarro world. It's only deficit-neutral when borrowed money is spent on figuring out how to wring more out of taxpayers, who must already repay the borrowed money plus interest.

You're just too racist to realize your racism that blinds you to these truths. To expand on the words of Dr. Laura Schlesinger...don't NAACP me, bro!

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 18, 2010 10:18 AM

Tea Party Manifesto

Rep. Dick Armey and Matt Kibbe (president and CEO of Freedomworks) hawk their book in a guest editorial today. It is as good a description of "The Tea Party" as I have seen: The authors (or a clever editor) say "The movement is not seeking a junior partnership with the Republican Party. It is aiming for a hostile takeover."

The criteria for membership are straightforward: Stay true to principle even when it proves inconvenient, be assertive but respectful, add value and don't taking credit for other people's work. Our community is built on the Trader Principle: We associate by mutual consent, to further shared goals of restoring fiscal responsibility and constitutionally limited government. These were the principles that enabled the Sept. 12, 2009 taxpayer march on Washington to be one of the largest political protests in the history of our nation's capital.

Tea Party Posted by John Kranz at 12:58 PM | What do you think? [4]
But Keith Arnold thinks:

You had me at "hostile takeover."

Posted by: Keith Arnold at August 17, 2010 1:42 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

"We associate by mutual consent, to further shared goals of restoring fiscal responsibility and constitutionally limited government."

Before the comma is completely contradictory with what follows the comma, but the rest is not bad at all.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 18, 2010 10:43 AM
But jk thinks:

Hmm. No, it does not bug me, Perry. The left thinks that all those people are at the rallies because Glenn Beck told them to be there. At 12:07. In a hat.

I think it captures the spontaneous order that I had seen: individuals, with shared goals. I miss something?

Posted by: jk at August 18, 2010 10:56 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

"Mutual consent" is fine. But once they, or anyone else, refer to "constitutionally limited government," they're talking about a system you cannot opt-out of, by definition. Therefore you are obligated to participate in that government, no matter how limited it may be, whether or not you "consent."

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 18, 2010 4:22 PM

August 16, 2010

8 Down, 1,199,999,992 To Go

OK, given the serious and positive nature of this development, The Refugee will admit that the headline is overly snarky.

Foxnew.com is reporting that eight American Muslims recently visited the Dachau and Auschwitz concentration camps. The trip was arranged by Marshall Breger, an Orthodox Jew who served both Presidents Reagan and GHW Bush. Apparently, the trip had some positive results:

Former Holocaust denier Yasir Qadhi, the dean of academics at Al Maghrib Institute in New Haven, Conn., said the trip was eye-opening.

"Anybody who is a Holocaust denier should deserve a free ticket to see Auschwitz and Birkenau," he told the Jewish Daily Forward, "because seeing is just not the same as reading about it."

If the majority of the world's 1.2 billion Muslims are to emerge from the 12th century, more scholarship like this and less stoning would be in order. The Refugee does not make light of this as a positive step in the right direction.

Islam Islam Posted by Boulder Refugee at 3:52 PM | What do you think? [3]
But johngalt thinks:

A more important quote, in my opinion, is this:

"No Muslim in his right mind, female or male, should deny the Holocaust," Magid, a native of Sudan, told the Forward. "When you walk the walk of the people who have been taken to be gassed, to be killed, how can a person deny physical evidence, something that's beyond doubt?"

The difference between Magid and those of his faith who deny the Holocaust is his willingness to consider "physical evidence" with his rational mind. While he calls his evidence-based conclusion "beyond doubt" the deniers depend upon others taking their conclusion on faith.

Consequently, if we could send every Muslim to see the concentration camps a sizeable but unpredictable fraction would continue to deny history. But at least we might reach the rest of them!

Posted by: johngalt at August 17, 2010 3:14 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

I never though I'd live to see the day that someone would want to send all the Muslims to the concentration camps. Oh, the humanity!

Yes, I realize the intention is the afternoon tour rather than the permanent relocation - but as long as the title is being snarky, it is only appropriate to follow suit.

Kudos to Dean Qadhi for his willingness to forsake his former stance in the light of evidence; yet JG is also right - some people will believe only what they want to believe, despite overwhelming rational evidence. Hopefully, that segment of deniers will prove to be a fractional minority.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at August 17, 2010 9:10 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Do you mean the "nonexistent" concentration camps?

Posted by: johngalt at August 19, 2010 2:49 PM

Quote of the Day II

Paul Krugman is someone I would call "A Quantum Economist" which is someone -- you can't understand him and his position at the same time -- David Gordon (~9:40)

Quote of the Day

It's just un-American. I can't believe that somebody would say this about this American product. He hasn't even driven it. He hasn't sat in it. You know, why wouldn't you be supportive of American manufacturers building American vehicles with American workers, who now have jobs as a result of this. Why wouldn't you be supportive of that? It is mind-blowing to me. And of course, the public is getting paid back. You know, GM has paid back the loan – the bottom line is, is this is a good news story, and somebody who would twist it to be something negative obviously has another agenda. Which we all know he does. -- Governor Jennifer Granholm (D - GM)
You Vill Like Ze Government's Cars! You Vill appreciate Ze Craftsmanship!

Hat-tip: Instapundit

UPDATE: Mean but germane:

UPDATE II: In case I was not thorough enough, Allahpundit breaks it down.

But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

As opposed to Obama saying the Volt is "smooth" after driving it a mere 10 feet?

These collectivists will never understand our anger and contempt, because to them it's not thievery to take our money against our will and give to others.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 17, 2010 11:59 AM

Death Panels in Session

Shhh! Don't call them death panels, people will think you're stupid. No, it's just an occasion where a government bureaucrat not approved by the Senate decides whether the government will pay for FDA approved treatments to extend lives. Or not. Washington Examiner:

The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance explains the problem: "Medicare must cover therapies that are 'reasonable and necessary,' while the FDA is instructed to approve drugs that are 'safe and effective.' Because of the conflicting federal coverage and approval requirements, there are some non-FDA approved drugs (called off-label drugs) that are paid for by CMS. However, with respect to Provenge, it appears that CMS is arguing that while the treatment is safe and effective, it may not be reasonable and necessary. For the first time, an FDA approved anti-cancer therapy may not be covered by Medicare."

The same problem has developed on Avastin, according to the Susan G. Komen Fund, which has joined with OCNA advocating for Medicare coverage of both drugs. With respect to Avastin, Komen's founder and, CEO, Ambassador Nancy Brinker, said "We recognize the benefits of Avastin overall are modest for women with metastatic breast cancer. However, we do know that for some women, Avastin offers a greater than modest benefit. We hope that this decision will not restrict access to Avastin to all patients."


Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 10:56 AM | What do you think? [0]

The Mosque, the President, and the Gay Bar

It sounds like the setup for an awesome joke. And maybe someone will write it.

I come to codify and record my thoughts on the proposed Mosque in true Internet Blogging Fashion: I agree with Tunku Varadarajan. And thanks to years of WSJ blogging, I can actually spell his name.

Varadarajan found himself agreeing with Friday Night Obama:

Many of us who are libertarian—in other words, people opposed as much to the subversion of private rights by a majoritarian maumau-ing as we are to curbs on private affairs by government intervention—found ourselves in pleasantly astonished agreement with the most statist president since FDR. No one hearing his remarks, or reading of them, could have been in any doubt that he was fully, unequivocally, behind the construction of the mosque.

Of course, Saturday-afternoon Obama disappointed. And then Sunday-morning Obama disappointed the disappointed. The President had every right to stay out of it (his first inclination) as a local matter. He also had a right to make a brave stance on either side, sharing his opinion on a truly difficult question.

But the double-backtracking is the saddest thing I have seen in some time. Well, no, not sad for me because as an opponent of the President's policies I enjoy watching him step in it and try to scrape it off in public. But it really was pathetic.

For the record, President Kranz would have been proud to say something similar to President Obama's Friday night remarks. But I would have followed it up with a public donation to Greg Gutfield of FOXNews's project to build an Islamic-themed gay bar next door.

Land of the free. Home of the Brave.

But T. Greer thinks:

And as Michael Cohen (a leftist if there ever was one) points out, this was something George Bush Jr. took the right stand on.

Posted by: T. Greer at August 16, 2010 3:56 PM

August 14, 2010

Go Colorado!

Stephen Moore brings some good news:

Add Colorado to the list of states that are saying to ObamaCare: not here, thank you.

Last week the state's Secretary of State certified that the Colorado Health Care Freedom Act had qualified for the November ballot. More than 130,000 Coloradoans signed petitions seeking to exempt themselves from major portions of federal health reform signed by President Obama in March.

Jon Caldara, the initiative's sponsor and president of the conservative Independence Institute, said the measure would make Colorado "a health care sanctuary state." If approved in November, citizens would be exempt from the mandate requiring them to buy health insurance or pay a penalty. They'll also be immune from government forcing them into a public or private health care plan against their will.


Colorado Posted by John Kranz at 4:57 PM | What do you think? [0]

Journalism Warning Labels

Mondo Heh. Hat-tip: Boingboing, via Instapundit


Everything you need to know about politics

Chuck DeVore @ BigGovernment puts the Red-Blue 2008 electoral college map beside a map shaded to show each state's per-capita debt. I can't say the visuals captured me at first: "eah, New York, California..."

But when you get into the text the correlation is striking:

According to Moody’s, the average state per capita debt of the 28 Obama states is $1,728 while the average debt in the 22 McCain states is less than half, at $749. This information alone says a lot about voters and their attitude towards government and debt. Voters with a propensity to elect politicians who burden future generations who can’t yet vote with huge debts voted for Obama while fiscally responsible voters generally voted for McCain.

This trend gets starker when you look at the debt in the states that voted overwhelmingly for one candidate. The six states where Obama received the highest percentage of the vote were: Hawaii, Vermont, New York, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Maryland. McCain received his highest percentage of votes in Oklahoma, Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, Alabama and Alaska. The strongest Obama states had a per capita debt high of $4,606 for Massachusetts and a low of $709 for Vermont—remember, the average per capita debt in the McCain states was only $749, barely above the debt level in Vermont, with its “less is more” ethic. Per capita debt in the strong McCain states ranged from a high of $1,345 in oil-rich Alaska to a low of $77 in coal-rich Wyoming.


And, of course, what states will be bailed out -- Wyoming?

Hat-tip to blog friend SugarChuck.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 10:29 AM | What do you think? [0]

August 13, 2010

All your CPI are belong to us!

I love stories like this!

James Rummel of ChicagoBoyz finds a 1979 flyer from a local grocery store. Not requiring the Internet to make a segue, Rummel checks his front step and finds today's insert from the same outfit.

 19792010
Chopped Ham$1.59/lb$1.89
Hot Dogs$1.39$2
Milk$1.39/gal$2.50
These prices are not adjusted for inflation, else the tube steaks would be $3.77.

Arguing about monetary policy, I've complained that the CPI overstates inflation by ignoring disinflationary effects from trade and technology. That may be academic, but the entitlement spending indexed to CPI is bankrupting us.

Let's index Social Security payments to all meat franks. Old folks love 'em and we would solve our funding crisis overnight.

But Keith Arnold thinks:

John - that's an astute observation - and for my money, demonstrates pretty clearly that the CPI is a faulty index. It was chosen (and since being chosen, has been manipulated) for political reasons, and not honest economic ones. A better standard, and one I've seen numerous times, is "how many hours does the average worker in [pick your country] have to labor in exchange for [pick your product]" - and demonstrating how much more a car costs in Russia or in Japan compared to America.

I've always preferred to measure economies by what I call the "Standard B&P Index" - the unit of measurement being a large draft Beer and large two-item Pizza (hence the name). It's an effective and universal measuring system, and the beauty of it is that it is reversible. You can easily measure an economic system by how many hours an average laborer must work for 1 B&P, or how many B&Ps a product equates to in any given economy.

Economics! No longer a dismal science.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at August 13, 2010 6:11 PM

It's Parody. Let's all calm down and think this through

Our Daughter Isn't a Selfish Brat; Your Son Just Hasn't Read Atlas Shrugged.

I don't know whether to hat-tip or protect identities...Oh, heck, tg posted this on Facebook.

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 3:12 PM | What do you think? [5]
But Keith Arnold thinks:

I absolutely want little Johanna!

The story puts me in a mind to remember my 7th-grade science teacher, who, once a week, set aside the course curriculum and read to the class. I sat and absorbed Fahrenheit 451, Animal Farm, and the pinnacle of the year, Anthem. Imagine - a teacher in a California public school, surreptitiously molding young minds to loathe the collective. Mr. Beck would be sent to Room 101 for that nowadays...

Posted by: Keith Arnold at August 13, 2010 6:48 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes, JK, you've lit the fuse.

"What do I think," asks the comment link? I think it's smarmy, self-righteous, over-exaggerated bullshit. The very self-congratulatory mister Hague attempts to villify the denial of unearned guilt by equating it with declaring oneself a Nietzchean "superman."

While Hague mentions "the truth of Objectivism" he violates it with his inability to resist having mean little Johanna shove the cute little baby-talking boy toddler. Objectivism condones the use of force only in self-defense, which was obviously not required in this sad little fiction.

I like your story KA but please tell me you didn't think this essay had any intention of celebrating individual achievement.

Calm down? I was calmer before I thought it through.

Posted by: johngalt at August 17, 2010 3:40 PM
But jk thinks:

I wasn't thinking that's make your day. I thought the title was funny was funny and read just enough of it to reach your conclusion. You obviously have a higher pain tolerance than me.

Now that we're dismissing it, however, it is generally valuable to see how those who disagree with you portray your arguments.

Posted by: jk at August 17, 2010 3:57 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Is this dismissal (mean ol' Objectivists) any different than the standard "Form A" leftist dismissal (mean ol' Republicans?)

ad hominem: The oldest, the easiest, the most transparent and yet, the most effective logical fallacy in the book.

Posted by: johngalt at August 18, 2010 3:13 PM
But jk thinks:

There are no blueberries in this briar patch. And yet, I keep wading further in...

It is a cousin of Mean ol' Republicans but it counts higher because the author intended a better level of understanding. The answer to "why do you find Republicans to be so mean?" is a blank stare. This person took the time to acquire a fallacious understanding of the topic -- and give it a funny headline!

Posted by: jk at August 18, 2010 3:32 PM

Dear Sir McCartney: You're a Git! Love, jk

Sir Paul quipped to President Obama at the Library of Congress show that "after eight years, we are Happy to have a President who knows what a library is."

This cheesed me off for several reasons. Umm, he married a librarian. But more importantly, he really was an avid reader. Michael Powell shares a quote from Perfesser Obama with the Columbia Journalism Review:

'Yeah, you have very little chance to really read. I basically floss my teeth and watch Sports Center.'"


This Freedom Thing Might Catch On

We love our phones like we love our cars. The Washington Examiner's Mark Tapscott connects the dots.

I can pick up a prescription at the CVS drive-through, visit a sick friend in the hospital, attend church, escort our family's two Labs, Abby and Okie, on a walk around the lake, take in a local strawberry festival, drive over to Summit Point Motorsports Park for a regional road race, and so on and so on.

See the connection? We love our mobile phones and our cars because they enable us to do so much more. That's why we can't get enough of them, making and improving them creates jobs for thousands of people and economic opportunities for millions, the world is made smaller through them, and our lives are richer and more rewarding because of them.

But some folks want to limit or even take away our mobility and convenience. Advocates of "net neutrality" and mass transit, for instance, share an obsession with using government power to force the rest of us to accept less mobility and convenience


Besides budgets and ridership stats, the car is symbolic of American individuality. Call me a Nascar Retard but Europeans just seem to belong on trains. Tolstoy has trains; Kerouac and Pirsig have motorcycles.

Quick Review Corner: Dig up John Stossel's show on transportation on Hulu if you don't get FOXBiz. Great from coast to coast, but the coolest is a Hayekian riff on traffic signals: a small town in the UJ spends £850,000 on a computerized control system. Then they notice traffic moves better during power outages. They turn the damn thing off and traffic improves. People just figure out when to go.

Technology Posted by John Kranz at 11:30 AM | What do you think? [0]

She's Baaaaaack

Rebel Economist GMU's Michelle Muccio:

Hat-tip: Insty (Though I think he just posts because she's attractive. I am deeply committed to reduced government spending.)

Flashback: Ms. Muccio on these pages in Feb 2009. Sigh. I may have mentioned her appearence back then as well.

UPDATE: Watch the old one and think about what could have been. For the same money as the Stimulus, we could have given a whole year payroll tax holiday. I don't think we'd have been looking at ~10% unemployment had we listened to an econ student instead of Washington.

AND: I wanted to assure our female viewership (both of them) that we will give equal time to the next super-hunky male economist that comes along. We might even institute a centerfold!


August 12, 2010

Senator Bennet's Hidden Text

As a constituent of the Honorable Senator Michael F. Bennet, The Refugee just received an e-mail from The Good Senator about his accomplishments in that august body. However, The Refugee, using some little-known HTML commands was able to reveal hidden text in the message. It turns out that this hidden text helps to understand what the senator really meant. Read for yourself; hidden text in italics.

Friends,

I’ve only been in the Senate a short while, but I’ve made it a priority to change the way Washington does business. [That's why I voted down-the-line for the Obama agenda.]

All too often, partisan wrangling leads to gridlock and inaction [It's those damn Republicans! Dissent is the greatest form of patriotism only when George Bush is in the White House]. Instead of actually doing their jobs, members of Congress have become ensnared in bickering and gamesmanship [Debate is such an outdated concept, don't you think?]. That’s why I offered my Plan for Washington Reform in March, which included my resolution to reform the filibuster and end secret holds [Never mind what the Founders intended. I'm smarter than Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and James Madison combined].

To end the revolving door between Congress and special interests, I introduced a lobbying reform proposal that would ban Members of Congress from ever becoming lobbyists once they leave office [With the unbelievable retirement package for Members of Congress, who needs jobs? We can suck off the taxpayer tit until we die]. I also put forward a bill that would reform the earmark process by banning earmarks for private companies and improving transparency through the creation of earmarks.gov, an online database that would be searchable by each Member of Congress [Notice I said private companies only, not labor unions. Brilliant! We can still launder money through our supporters and cut off anyone who supports those bastard Republicans!].

I also led efforts to put a freeze on Congressional pay for fiscal year 2011. Blocking next year's automatic pay raise is just one small step; my plan would prevent Congress from considering increasing its pay or office budgets until our economy gets fully back on track [Big deal! Most of us are multimillionaires so a few thousand one way or the other doesn't matter. Besides, didn't you hear? This is the "Summer of Recovery". We'll just declare everything fixed and give ourselves that raise - with interest and back pay!].

With the likely damaging effects of the recent Citizens United Supreme Court decision on campaign financing, I cosponsored the DISCLOSE Act . The bill would require more transparency in political ads, and force CEOs to stand behind their corporate spending on campaigns [Notice here again that I exclude unions. Damn, we gotta take care of the SEUI or we're sunk!]. Although it fell victim in the Senate to a partisan filibuster [Damn Republicans saw through the ruse to cut off their funding], I remain committed to fighting for campaign finance reform and cleaner elections [My definition of a "clean election" is one where I can outspend my opponent 5:1. Go ahead - cut off our funding! I'm rich enough to self-finance! The real name of this is the "Assure Re-election of Rich White Guys Act of 2010"].

Working to ensure that Congress works for the American people has never been easy, but we have begun to see some momentum. I recently testified before Congress on my proposal to reform the filibuster [It's kinda like having the fox testify about security in the hen house]. With so much work to be done on behalf of Colorado’s families, if a small minority of Senators wants to hold up legislation, they should be required to stand on principle and filibuster in person [Unless the Democrats lose control of the Senate, in which case the filibuster becomes //begin sanctimonious voice/ "The only effective means to halt the tyranny of the majority as clearly intended by our Founding Fathers" //end sanctimonious voice/]. And any filibuster must have bipartisan support if it goes on for more than a few days [Don't ask me how the hell that would work. It sounds great in a stump speech and it has as much chance of flying as a dead cat. I'll never have to back up the words with action].

You can read more in The Denver Post, which profiled our fight to change the broken system in Washington [...and are totally in the tank for us. Thank Ned the Fairness Doctrine was repealed!].

The road ahead will be tough [That damn Republican Buck has some pretty good ideas - I've got to get The Denver Post to demonize him as a tea bagger or I'm in deep weeds. We can't allow citizens to hear his message]. It’s never easy to combat inertia and entrenched interests [Kinda ironic, huh, since we Democrats are the ones with the inertia and entrenched interests?]. But Colorado’s families and small businesses deserve accountability from their elected officials, and a Senate that works for them. That’s why I’ll continue to fight for reform until Washington begins to do the hard work that Coloradans expect [...and I will continue to vote down-the-line with Obama and Harry Reid. I know which side my bread is buttered on!].

Sincerely,

Michael F. Bennet

See, doesn't transparency in government work?

UPDATE: Yahoo News reports that liberal groups are organizing a boycott of Target for their support of a conservative Republican for Minnesota governor. (Target is based in MN.)

"Target is receiving criticism and frustration from their customers because they are doing something wrong, and that should serve absolutely as an example for other companies," said Ilyse Hogue, director of political advocacy for the liberal group MoveOn.org, which is pressing Target to formally renounce involvement in election campaigns.

This is the chilling effect that Bennet's "reform" is intended to have: intimidate corporations from donating to campaigns. Note, unions are never subject to public pressure because there's no real way to get to them financially.

Bennet's proposal has nothing to do with fairness - it's all about intimidating right-leaning contributions and cutting off funding to Republicans.

CO Senate Posted by Boulder Refugee at 5:23 PM | What do you think? [2]
But Keith Arnold thinks:

br: a worthy fisking indeed. Little-known HTML commands, huh - is there an app for that?

I'm happy for you, Senator Bennet, and I'm going to let you finish, but Ross Perot had the best "Plan for Washington Reform" of all time. Of all time! As I recall, he was going to round up all the members of Congress and tell them how things should be, and they would recognize his superior intellect and vote the way he told them. Wasn't that how it was supposed to work?

Posted by: Keith Arnold at August 12, 2010 6:29 PM
But jk thinks:

Proud to be a Constituent! Well done, br.

Posted by: jk at August 12, 2010 6:47 PM

Some Pigs' Jobs are More Equal

Early on, some stimulus folk pointed out that if government has to spend, why don't they spend on the military? That idea didn't go anywhere. Michael Austin makes a stark and sad comparison:

The House voted for another $24 billion bailout to the states this week, with $10 billion marked for preventing teacher layoffs. The White House estimated that might save approximately 160,000 teachers' jobs, although a number of states, including Alaska, Tennessee, and Arkansas, apparently don’t need federal support to retain teachers, but will get the funds anyway. Putting aside the clear political payback to the teachers' unions for their support, the new $10 billion handout comes out to $62,500 per potential teacher job "saved."

Yet clearly some jobs count more than others. Almost exactly a year ago, the Senate caved in to White House pressure and killed the F-22 program, canceling the last seven planes to be built. How much was saved? $1.75 billion (in today's budget world, that seems like a rounding error). How many jobs will be lost? 95,000 highly skilled jobs. In other words, that $1.75 billion would have divided into just $18,421 per job saved, plus seven more of the world's most advanced fighter jets.


These guys ain't even good Keynesians!

But Boulder Refugee thinks:

No, but they're damn-fine politicians. The F-22 workers probably would have contributed a few million dollars to the Democrats at best, whereas the teachers union will put in about $100 million. Jobs, schmobs... they got a 20:1 improvement in campaign contributions, making it the investment of the decade.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 12, 2010 4:31 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

In simple English, then, what you're saying is that the House leadership is using our tax money and bribing people to vote for them with it. Sounds like a good gig if you can get it.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at August 12, 2010 6:09 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

KA, "bribe" is such an ugly word. This is a family blog, so please be more considerate of the children's tender mercies...

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 12, 2010 6:20 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

If this is a family blog, then the children will understand that the House is getting too much allowance. From us.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at August 12, 2010 6:31 PM
But jk thinks:

You can call me naive (most of you have certainly called me worse!) but I was floored at the blatant, cynical, bribery of the Kansas City Prendergast machine as detailed in McCullough’s "Truman."

It isn't as if one doesn't know, but the matter of factness of things that exceed patronage and truly represent out-and-out bribes is shocking.

Obama is out of the Chicago machine. Evan graciously allowing that he is personally honest as President Truman seemed to be, the level of corruption is beyond what a Republic can sustain. And, of course, self sustaining and self-perpetuating.

Posted by: jk at August 12, 2010 6:46 PM

Coffeehousin'

Coffeehouse

Mean to Me (alternate take)

"A tribute to dear Skylark as she invades a session last year"


Live at the Coffeehouse dot Com


But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Very cute, especially at the end!

UPDATE: Had to watch it twice.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 12, 2010 11:15 PM

August 11, 2010

Black Wednesday

James Pethokoukis declares "Recovery Summer" officially over. Three firms expect serious downward revisions of the Q2 GDP numbers. Action Economics:

The market’s might face their biggest downside economic surprise of this recent growth slowdown yet in the form of a downward Q2 GDP revision, which today’s U.S. trade deficit figures suggest will be a whopper. We now expect the 2.4% advance Q2 GDP gain to face a huge downward adjustment to the 1% area, with a hit from trade of as much as $18 bln that we conservatively peg at $12 bln, as the BEA’s seemingly pessimistic $45 bln deficit assumption for June turned out to be excessively optimistic instead. A change in China’s VAT rebate policy in June may explain a part of the surprise, though the GDP gain in Q2 is likely poised for an alarming 1-handle regardless of this distortion.

Jimmy P. concludes:
More and more, Wall Street seems to be converging on the Goldman Sachs forecast of a second-half growth slowdown. Hard to see how that helps unemployment or Democrat chances of holding both the House and Senate. Remember, if the labor force had not shrunk by one million workers since April, the unemployment rate would be 10.4 percent. Voters may not know those numbers, but they know the economy is far from healthy.

NOTE: I cannot get a good link to the post. Scroll to "Black Wednesday and the 2010 midterms"

But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Just want to point something out here. At work, I've corrected our economic commentary writers on saying that the trade deficit "subtracted" from GDP growth. That in and of itself is inaccurate.

But when it comes to estimating a particular quarter's GDP, the trade deficit does get factored in. Take total spending on goods and services, subtract what was imported, and it's a decent approximation of how much was produced domestically. This works for a country, a state or province, or a locality of any size, as long as you can estimate what was spent there and what was imported/exported.

If the trade deficit is larger than what was previously estimated, then GDP must be revised downward. That's why this is so bad. However, it is NOT a problem with the trade deficit, or trade in general. I know you're not saying this, but keep this in mind the next time a protectionist claims that the economy would have been better had we not imported so much. It's based on an "all else being equal" fallacy, because as a matter of American history, importing less has never meant buying the difference at home.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 12, 2010 11:54 AM

All Hail Harsanyi!

Need I excerpt? The Mile High Sage schools Atlantic's Marc Ambinder on what happened in Colorado last night.

CO Senate Posted by John Kranz at 1:52 PM | What do you think? [6]
But johngalt thinks:

Actually David, there was a Buck surge. It just happened very early on.

As for the Democrat/media spin machine, they are whistling ... and there must be a graveyard nearby.

Another observation from last night's outcomes: Both of the CO Republicans whom John McCain campaigned for LOST.

Posted by: johngalt at August 11, 2010 3:32 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

jg: McCain's endorsees lost? That's got to rival Obama's win/loss record (think Corzine, Deeds, Coakley, and Specter).

There's a lesson here...

Posted by: Keith Arnold at August 11, 2010 7:22 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

The Denver Post had a front-page article this morning saying that Bennet's win proves the Obama machine is back on track. Yeah, so much back on track that Bennet himself doesn't want Obama-wan-kinobi to come campaign for him.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 12, 2010 10:58 AM
But jk thinks:

An incumbent Senator wins a primary and attracts fewer votes than the loser of the opposing primary.

Yup! Back on track! Thumbs Up! Recovery Summer!

Posted by: jk at August 12, 2010 11:13 AM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Yeah, an incumbant senator who spent $7.5 million on a freakin' Colorado primary, about 5X his opponent. The spin doctors are pretty good at leaving out little details.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 12, 2010 2:13 PM
But jk thinks:

Obama Magic is like instant coffee. You have to add hot water to the coffee, and you have to add $7.5 million or so to the magic...

And it ain't VIA® Baby, we're talking Folgers!

Posted by: jk at August 12, 2010 2:57 PM

The Nation vs. Reason

The title refers to two magazines, yet seems to work without that explanation.

I don't watch Bloggingheads TV a lot. It is interesting, but I blog and work. I usually have 5 or 10 minutes while a program compiles or a server boots. Listening to even interesting folks for 40-60 minutes is not in the plan.

But I am a big fan of Katherine Mangu-Ward at Reason and I did give 40 minutes general attention to her BhTV debut today. She's perhaps a little too polite to The Nation's Dana Goldstein, but it is fun to watch her keep her cool when Goldstein suggests that Michelle Obama's obesity plans don't go far enough. "Wouldn't it be swell if kids got breakfast, lunch and dinner at school everyday?" KM-W listens respectfully and just as respectfully retorts "But don't schools suck?"

There's no yelling, both participants are attractive (if neither looks old enough to drink), and one experiences two unique viewpoints in 39:06.

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 1:19 PM | What do you think? [0]

Quote of the Day

Two great columns in the WSJ Ed Page! In one day! Two great closing paragraphs! What are the odds?

So in the name of still another "stimulus," Democrats are rewarding their own political funders, putting the most fiscally responsible states into even greater distress, and postponing the day of reckoning for spendthrift states. Oh, and Mr. Obama rushed to sign the bill Tuesday, violating his campaign pledge to give the public five days to read legislation online. As we say, the only way for voters to stop such fiscal abuse is to run this crowd out of town.

But jk thinks:

And we cannot change the incentive structure until we send the people that will change it.

Posted by: jk at August 11, 2010 1:47 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Perhaps it's just a hangover from the Maes-McInnis race, but The Refugee is tired of making choices between less-bad options. Not that the situation will change in his lifetime.

Yes, let's throw the Pelosi-Reid bums out. But let's not be delusion in thinking that our problem will then be solved.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 11, 2010 2:34 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Can you please elaborate on what is "less bad" about Maes? Is it the campaign finance "scandal?" ICLEI-gate? No, don't tell me, he drove his car with expired license plates?

The Denver Post doesn't think Dan is competent enough. (Why would they? He's not a practiced politician who knows he has to play their game.)

Tom Tancredo doesn't think Dan can win. (Still?)

I understood why Republicans bad-mouthed Maes prior to the General Assembly and prior to the primary vote. There's no excuse for it now. And the radio talkers (and most callers) finally seem to be realizing that.

Posted by: johngalt at August 11, 2010 3:21 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Actually, the only way to stop this abuse is to change the fact that government is funded at all.

Any government, by definition, does not exist because everyone voluntarily accepts it. If everyone agreed, you'd have a private association and wouldn't need a government. Government exists because at least one person, no matter how much he doesn't harm others, won't agree to willingly surrender his life, liberty and/or property to others' decision-making. Those in control, whether a single monarch with an army or a "democracy" of millions, then construct this political ruse to give themselves legitimacy.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 11, 2010 3:42 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

JG, see remarks above. It's not these petty "scandals" that bother me about Maes, but his response in handling them. EVERY Republican politician has to deal with a (somewhat) hostile press. Those who can, succeed pretty well. Those who can't are dead in the water. So far, Maes has run for cover rather than forcefully get out in front. That only makes the sharks smell blood and increase the visciousness of the attack until the prey is consumed.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 11, 2010 4:40 PM
But johngalt thinks:

OK, I can respect that critique. It's a style point rather than a competence one. While I've been impressed with Dan's knowledge and temperament I have noticed that he's not the confident, "bully pulpit" type like Chris Christie or Ronald Reagan. BUT, in his interview with Craig Silverman yesterday he sounded much more at ease. There's something about being the nominee that has to make a man feel less like he needs to be careful. The differences between primary candidates are fine and narrow. In the general election the contrast becomes stark and evident.

A winning campaign is still on track.

Posted by: johngalt at August 12, 2010 3:16 PM

Farewell, Obama Magic

I hate to give away the magisterial ending to Fouad Ajami's superb editorial, but it is QOTD-worthy:

It is in the nature of charisma that it rises out of thin air, out of need and distress, and then dissipates when the magic fails. The country has had its fill with a scapegoating that knows no end from a president who had vowed to break with recriminations and partisanship. The magic of 2008 can't be recreated, and good riddance to it. Slowly, the nation has recovered its poise. There is a widespread sense of unstated embarrassment that a political majority, if only for a moment, fell for the promise of an untested redeemer—a belief alien to the temperament of this so practical and sober a nation.


August 10, 2010

Establishment Concession

"The first time in decades that an establishment GOP candidate has delivered a concession speech" says FOX31's political analyst.

Nine thirty mountain and Senator Bennet and Ken Buck have the Senate bids. The GOP Gubernatorial primary is way too close to call.

CO Senate Posted by John Kranz at 11:29 PM | What do you think? [10]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Gotta agree with JK, as least as far as the guv race goes. I do think that Buck has a strong shot at Bennet. I did vote for Maes, but without a great deal of enthusiasm; he seems to be the (marginally) better of the two weak candidates.

My biggest fear with a Governor Maes is his likely inability to handle a Democrat legislature. His PR prowess, thus far, leads me to believe that he would get steamrolled by the Democrat machine, aided and abetted by The Denver Post, Boulder Daily Camera, etc. So far, his PR has been more an example of, "Kids, don't try this at home," than a commanding, no-nonsense figure. However, that is also true of McInnis, thus the nod to Maes.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 11, 2010 12:20 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Ah, ye of little faith.

Hickenlooper is ripe for defeat, with an apparent ceiling on polling support in the 40 point range. Without Tancredo in the race Republicans would comfortably line up behind Maes and, particularly with Buck-spank-Bennet coattails, carry the GOP man to the governor's mansion.

The biggest obstacle to above scenario being, of course, "without Tancredo." As long as Tom is not on the ballots, printed in October I'm led to believe, whatever happens before then is inconsequential. I think Tom smells the coffee before then.

And here's another wild possibility, first brought to my attention by my dear ol' dad - Lieutenant Governor Tom Tancredo. Talk amongst yourselves.

Posted by: johngalt at August 11, 2010 12:29 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

I'll have some of whatever he's having...

Maybe I've read too many press reports, but I think Tancredo is toxic in a statewide race. "Single issue Tom" appeals only to the hardcore Right and, I suspect, has little appeal to most independents. Here's my prediction in a three-way race: Hickenlooper 56%, Maes 42%, Tancredo 2%. Tancredo could get more, but only at Maes' expense.

Yes, I am very pessimistic on this race.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 11, 2010 12:41 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I actually expected more reaction than this to the suggestion and deliberately omitted my own opinion. Here goes:

Naming Tancredo his Lt. Gov. would, first and foremost, eliminate Tom as an alternative vote to Dan. I think Tom would bring more turnout and more dollars to Dan's candidacy. But I think the negatives outweigh those positives. Tom is a loose cannon on the trail and the prospect of the two of them sharing an administration gracefully is frightening in its impossibility.

Posted by: johngalt at August 12, 2010 3:35 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Agreed on all points, JG. I just don't think that even the vote combo of Maes and Tancredo can add up to victory - but no one would be pleased to be wrong more than me.

The thought of Maes and Tancredo trying to co-exist in the same room does create a comical vision. But after what Toxic Tom has said about Maes, I think that bridge is burned. Tom is done in Colorado. Let's hope he moves to California or something (sorry, KA).

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 12, 2010 4:49 PM
But jk thinks:

If Tancredo is on the Colorado ticket, I'm moving to California (sorry KA).

Posted by: jk at August 12, 2010 5:15 PM

Small, Petty Men

Small, petty men go around yelling "I told you so!" at TV stars and journalists.

Did I ever claim to anything larger?

STUDY: Driver Error in Most Toyota Crashes

Five months into an investigation of safety issues involving Toyota Motor Corp. vehicles, U.S. safety officials have yet to identify any new defects beyond those reported by the car maker itself.

And in more than half of the crashes blamed on sudden acceleration analyzed by the government, data from the vehicles' "black boxes" show the driver was not stepping on the brake at the time of the accident--indicating that driver error may have been at fault.

Those were the findings that U.S. Transportation Department officials disclosed Tuesday to members of Congress, offering the first significant details of the government's ongoing investigation into Toyota's recall of more than 8.5 million vehicles globally since last fall.


Huh. Who saw that coming? (Links would be unseemly...)

But Keith Arnold thinks:

Who saw this coming? Well, if links are declared unseemly by fiat*, then I will refrain - and instead, I'll just say this blog and everyone on it, July 13-15 of this year.

* (Not to be taken as an accusation that an Italian automaker is somehow interfering with a discussion of a Japanese automaker's products.)

Posted by: Keith Arnold at August 10, 2010 8:31 PM
But jk thinks:

Prof Reynolds offers a link to my man, PJ O'Rourke.

Posted by: jk at August 10, 2010 11:53 PM

Two Americas, Again.

The Wall Street Journal is too august an institution to title an editorial "Duh!" So they call it Of CEOs and Congressmen

As a mere corporate chieftain, Mr. Hurd was summarily ousted by the H-P board on Friday for allegedly fibbing about $20,000 or less in expenses to cover up a nonsexual relationship with someone who was merely a contractor. The contractor, Jodie Fisher, accused Mr. Hurd of sexual harassment, which an investigation by outside counsel found had not taken place. It's the perfect modern sex scandal: Both sides acknowledge it involved no sex, only money, and not much of that.

Company directors nonetheless concluded that Mr. Hurd hadn't followed the ethics code that H-P had imposed after a 2006 scandal involving spying on journalists and board members had forced the resignation of an H-P chairman. The H-P standard of business conduct tells employees that, "Before I make a decision, I consider how it would look in a news story."

So the directors gave the heave-ho to a successful CEO who over five years had more than doubled his company's market capitalization. If CEOs were ever given the benefit of the doubt, the Hurd case shows those days are over. A single misjudgment, personal or strategic, can cost a corporate boss his job.

Contrast that accountability with the U.S. House of Representatives, where Maxine Waters and Charlie Rangel stand accused of ethics violations. [...]


"Government is what we call things we do together," Rep. Barney Frank likes to say. The broken incentive structure, however, always needs to be considered.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 3:43 PM | What do you think? [2]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

"Government is what we call things we do together,"

Bull-bleeping-bleep. Government is what some people call FORCING others to do things "together."

To simplify what I said in the other comment, government exists because some people, no matter how peacefully they live their lives, won't be ruled. Then you have cocksucking, prostitute-bonking bastards like Frank who couldn't possibly live a successful life that depended solely on peaceful trade with others, so they have to help form the political machine to live off others' property and labor.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 11, 2010 3:55 PM
But jk thinks:

Yeah, thought you'd enjoy that one, Perry. I'm always reminded of Bill Clinton comparing himself to Bob Dole: "Senator Dole is a good man. The difference is that I want us all to build the bridge to the new millennium together!"

Insert your own, Perryesque response here.

Posted by: jk at August 11, 2010 4:37 PM

Random Thought

Remember all of the fuss over that 'Mission Accomplished' sign? How does the current mantra of the 'Summer of Recovery' differ? Discuss.

Obama Administration Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 12:00 PM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

Completely different, hb, and unworthy of comparison. The mission of the troops returning from Iraq was accomplished.

There were some unfortunate "optics" that implied President Bush's claiming that his mission was accomplished. But the soldiers, sailors and marines on that carrier deserved the salute. The President, Vice President, and 111th? Not. So. Much.

Posted by: jk at August 10, 2010 1:42 PM

Dear Michael J Fox: I told you so! Love, jk

Anybody who's read this blog twice will believe me.

The Democratic Party made a wildly effective campaign of opposition to President Bush's compromise on embryonic stem-cell research. My lowest moment was seeing Michael J. Fox come down from the great north to campaign for Claire McCaskill in Missouri.

Ah yes, a Senator McCaskill will vote for research and the lame will walk.

Instead, of course, the real Senator McCaskill votes for ObamaCare® which will cripple medical innovation both by shrinking its markets and directly taxing its successful producers. Now, Instapundit links to a site that says stem cell research is being shut down by a Democrat-led FDA and an overwhelmingly Democratic 111th Congress.

Today in 2010 two years after Barack Obama promised to open up Stem Cell research, therapy and treatments within the US borders the FDA is overstepping its authority in regulating medicine and attempting to shut down live saving stem cell treatments. The FDA is banning stem cells to be used in the United States while many Americans are having to travel to foreign countries to receive treatment.

If I dare to claim I-told-you-sos, I should provide links:
Michael J Fox Ads
One I Called Right
Free Market Medical Research
The Problem with Government Research

UPDATE: I am a little skeptical about the stem cell link. It is built around a press release of the offended company and does itself no favors by putting "Barack Obama" in a larger type face. Either way, pointy-holdy. Research is a complex topic, and this gimpy boy feels a lot more comfortable trusting those that do not seek to bankrupt the Pharma Companies.

Pharmaceuticals Posted by John Kranz at 10:37 AM | What do you think? [3]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

This one might not be worth the $.44. The press release sounds like spin bordering on distortion by the company (right here in Colorado, if you can believe it.) Apparently, the FDA shut them down for mislabeling and failing to "keep the product free of objectionable microorganisms." We can argue about the FDA on many points, but I don't think they've shut down stem cell research in any manner.

Here's the link: http://www.courthousenews.com/2010/08/10/29439.htm

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 10, 2010 12:04 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I'm not ready to dismiss the company. This sounds like legitimate medical innovation colliding with the federal medical bureaucracy. When you add in the potential threat to the revenue stream of established joint replacement manufacturers (Stryker Medical, as in Colorado Democrat Pat Stryker, for example) then the patronage picture comes into focus.

As JK so ably documented, the Dems made a big deal of supporting stem cell medical RESEARCH. But in fairness they never claimed they'd ever let anyone receive TREATMENT.

Posted by: johngalt at August 10, 2010 2:43 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Not saying that the innovation is not worthwhile nor that the FDA is not acting capriciously - I dont' know either way, based on this information. However, the company's assertion that Obama has ended domestic stem cell research seems to be completely specious. A quick Google search will reveal several instance just this month in which the FDA approved other stem cell therapies and further research.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 10, 2010 6:12 PM

August 9, 2010

Happy 8-9-10

A lot of cool dates this decade. This strikes me as one of the last. 1-1-11? I dunno.

Posted by John Kranz at 5:52 PM | What do you think? [3]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

11-11-11 will be pretty cool as well.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 10, 2010 10:59 AM
But johngalt thinks:

10-10-10? Two months away? Not really so rare as they seem.

Posted by: johngalt at August 10, 2010 2:44 PM
But jk thinks:

Even 10-11-10 doesn't suck. I may have been wrong.

Yet there seems to be some variant of the Prime Number Theorem that says cool dates become more sparse as we get farther from the millennium.

Posted by: jk at August 11, 2010 11:17 AM

Primaryeve Polling

It all comes down to this.

With Colorado's primary election day tomorrow the left-leaning pollster Public Policy Polling today released a new poll on the senate and governor's races. Bennet's 6-point lead over Romanoff is slightly more than the 4.6% margin of error for the Democratic poll, but the GOP races are both closer than the 3.5% theoretical uncertainty.

Among 767 "likely Republican primary voters" Norton leads Buck 45-43 (12 percent undecided) ((still?)) and McInnis leads Maes 41-40. The only poll that's going to settle these races is the one that starts to be tallied tomorrow at 7pm.

But here's something else I found interesting in the questions asked only of Republicans.

"Do you support or oppose the goals of the 'Tea Party' movement?"

Support - 78%

Oppose - 9%

"Do you personally identify as a member of the 'Tea Party' movement?"

Yes - 35%

No - 47%

So while one-third of us are active anti-tax and spenders, three-quarters of Republicans support our cause. Bully!

(Also curious why they didn't poll those questions of the Dems.)


Cut Spending, eh?

Ah, for the days when my left-leaning friends were going to "move to Canada if George Bush is elected!"

Jason Clemens shows, in a guest editorial, that both Liberal and conservative governments have been cutting the size of government up North -- ever since Nafta.

In 1995, the federal government, led by the Liberal Party, passed the most important budget in three generations. Federal spending was reduced almost 10% over two years and federal employment was slashed 14%. By 1998, the federal government was in surplus and reducing the nearly $650 billion national debt. Provincial governments similarly focused on eliminating deficits by paring spending and reducing debt, and then they started to offer tax relief.

All government spending peaked at 53% of Canadian GDP in 1992 and fell steadily to just under 40% by 2008. (Government spending in the U.S. was 38.8% of GDP that year.) The recession has caused government spending to increase in both countries. But if present trends continue, within two or three years Canada will have a smaller government as a share of its economy than the U.S.

Canadian taxes have also come down at the federal and provincial level. They were reduced with the stated goal of improving incentives for work effort, savings, investment and entrepreneurship.


He concedes that government health care is a problem but points out that several provinces are running pilot programs to expand access to private care. And -- at the risk of giving away the ending:
Most strikingly, Canada is emerging more quickly from the recession than almost any industrialized country. It's unemployment rate, which peaked at 9% in August 2009, has already fallen to 7.9%. Americans can learn much by looking north.

Couldn't have anything to do with an 18% corporate tax rate, could it?

But johngalt thinks:

And yet those same left-leaning friends still think Bankruptifornia is the trendsetter our nation should follow. (Prob'ly 'cause the Canucks still allow incandescent light bulbs. FNR's.)

Posted by: johngalt at August 9, 2010 2:41 PM
But jk thinks:

Hahahahhaha had to click on FNRs. Nicely played...

Posted by: jk at August 9, 2010 4:05 PM

Words Fail

That's the "hover text" as you mouse over this picture on the Reason website:

VFobamaGulliver.jpg

Matt Welch calls it The View of Obama from Conde Nast Tower. He quotes some Obama aides, including the always colorful locutions of Rahm Emmanuel about how Washington is broken because it won't allow the President's agenda to sail through.

You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. I wonder if this Administration's overreach will dampen some folks' 100+ years lust for Executive Power. Imagine separation of powers. It isn't hard to do...

Executive Power Posted by John Kranz at 11:35 AM | What do you think? [0]

August 8, 2010

Dear Instapundit

Elvis Costello released a great album where he composed songs around letters to Juliet. Lovelorn types mail passionate missives to the city of Verona. Costello acquired some and made a very good record.

I wondered about the potential deracination of a human being mailing a letter to a character in a 500 year old play. I'm romantic enough to write one but putting postage on it? Mailing it to Verona?

Then again, I email Instapundit probably once a month. Today's was inspired by his link, and lengthy excerpt, to a Nick Gillespie rant on debt and subsidies:

Professor Reynolds:

I am a long time Reason subscriber and a huge fan of His Jacketedness, Nick Gillespie.

But everytime you link to one of Reason's "OMG Obama is not a free marketer" posts, I wonder how you can avoid a little bit of "who the rubes are."

Reason went all in against Senator McCain (which is fair and appropriate) but they went very very easy on then Senator Obama. Folks who were paying attention -- and I put you in the camp -- saw about everything we bought last November. Last August.

Reason's great but I don't think they deserve to be let of the hook so easily.

Thanks fer listenin' and keep up the awesome work.

jk



And Only ThreeSourcers Know Whom to Blame

My blog brothers and sisters were certain I had lost my mind when I floated my refi plan a couple months back.

I mentioned in the ensuing discussion that I was sure it was a bad idea, I just had not yet figured out why. I think we might, as James Pethokoukis claims it was presented to the Senate by a Morgan Stanley economist.

Is it time for another "free" lunch? One Wall Street idea to boost U.S. growth is for the government to loosen rules so millions more Americans can refinance mortgages, thereby freeing up cash for spending. A desperate Washington might be tempted, but should think twice. It's too reminiscent of how the economy first fell into trouble.

A top Morgan Stanley economist ran the “slam dunk stimulus” plan past the Senate Budget Committee on Tuesday. With the political mood making it almost impossible to contemplate spending more taxpayer money to juice demand, the bank's economists are suggesting a different route to a stimulus -- namely having government-run mortgage lenders loosen the refinancing rules on 37 million mortgages they currently guarantee. That would open the door to many homeowners who haven't been able to take advantage of the current low interest rates because they owe more than their homes are worth, are unemployed or have low credit scores.

The logic is that with the government already on the hook for these loans, there’s nothing to lose from dispensing with any creditworthiness criteria for refinancing. The median interest rate on the mortgages concerned is 5.75 percent. These loans, the thinking goes, could be refinanced to around 4.50 percent. The 125 basis-point reduction would leave a borrower with a typical $200,000 mortgage better off to the tune of $2,500 a year. If, as Morgan Stanley guesstimates, half the affected homeowners took advantage of this, they would collectively have an extra $46 billion a year burning a hole in their pockets.


One of my personality flaws is that I hold onto my ideas too long. Jimmy P. makes some arguments against, but I still have not seen the deal breaker. I'd love gub'mint to leave the housing market alone. But they're gonna do something and this is one of the least intrusive and potentially most stimulative plans I can envision. I know y'all and Mister Pethokoukis hate it. But trust me on this: we're likely to get something much worse!

Have a nice day!

But Lisa M thinks:

jk--apologies because I confused your plan with the so-calld "August surprise" rumors floating about. My understanding is that that plan actually is a forgiveness of principal.

The problem as I see it is this: what if the housing market rebounds? As a banker, we have many people who call us every time rates go down and want to refi at a lower rate; understandable enough. But when rates go back up, do we as a bank get to refi you then at a higher rate?

And if the housing market rebounds, and home values go back up eventually, when all these people who got principal forgiveness under the August Surprise plan then have to refi for what they actually owed for pre-forgivenss?

I get what you're saying jk (and I didn't admittedly at first) and I think you should be allowed to refi at the same competetive rate that anyone else does, regardless of whether or not you ar upside down in your mortgage; in other words, your home's present value doesn't dictate special refi privileges just to curtail defaults---those who are going to default will do it anyway; it only encourages moral hazard to validate that those who bought at the end of the housing boom are somehow immune to the risks all of us take when we make a major investment purchase and it declines in value.

Posted by: Lisa M at August 11, 2010 7:43 AM
But jk thinks:

I think we can all agree that the August Surprise is evil. And I will think none the less of you if you think jk's September Madness is bad as well; it is fraught with moral hazard.

You as a mortgage banker are indeed the aggrieved party. You are being asked to give up the higher interest rate, making you the victim of my crime. But my hunch is that:

a) not many of you are holding any of the paper any more. I done been securitized;

b) I grant you your pessimism, but at the margins some borrowers will be able to keep up with the lower payments.

c) the profits from new activity would be more interesting than the higher return of the old loans.

Your biz, not mine -- let me know if I am all wet.

Posted by: jk at August 11, 2010 10:36 AM
But Lisa M thinks:

What I can't quite wrap my head around is why you need or should have your mortgage modified. Your payments have stayed the same; the value of your home has dropped. The current value of your home doesn't have any impact on whether you can afford your payments or not--that was presumably determined when you got your mortgage. If your employment status or financial situation has not changed, there is no reason that you cannot still afford to make your payments; your financial situation and/or employment status is in no way related to your home value, therefore should not predicate whether or not you qualify for a loan mod. One thing has absolutely nothing to do with another; ergo, moral hazard.

It would be the same as asking to have your car payments modified three months into ownership because the value of the car has dropped.

For the record, I'm a commercial banker, but my bank also handles residential mortgage loans, and you are correct, we don't hold much of our resi mortgage paper anymore.

That being said, if a customer is struggling with their mortgage, it's in our best interests in a lot of cases to work with a troubled client prior to default. Most banks have absolutely no interest in being in the real estate business; they simply wish customers to honor their side of the contract. If a customer demonstrates a need, most banks would be willing to work with a customer in good standing to help keep him in his home. But because our esteemed President and his cronies in congress have made nice political hay in demonizing the banking industry, many folks are leery of approaching their bankers for help when they first feel they need it. Which ends up landing them in foreclosure sometimes.

Posted by: Lisa M at August 11, 2010 8:15 PM
But jk thinks:

Completely agree that I do not deserve an adjustment. I signed a contract. I must pay the contracted amount. (And I am really going to regret using myself as an example. For the record, I am solvent, employed and up to date on payments.)

But I contend that said hazard happened when I acquired the FHA loan. Y'all placed an implied put on my mortgage. Since you have, I come back and ask "Hey, you backstopped me before, why not do it again so I can take advantage of a lower rate?"

I'm exploiting an anomaly. And it seems that it might help others and provide a little stimulus, without increasing the government's liability. Hazard happened already. I'm shifting it.

A better analogy is rolling credit card debt onto an intro rate. My Uncle has cosigned both cards...

Posted by: jk at August 11, 2010 8:51 PM
But Lisa M thinks:

jk, please interpret my use of "you" in the previous post as the "royal you" in that I did not mean YOU in particular, but simply anyone in that situation.

That being said, what would probably result from that is two things: the loss of profits in the banking industry (which no one but me and my colleagues who earn our living from this industry are going to shed tears over) and an eventual tightening of the credit market. The tightening of the credit market is, admittedly, overdue and was a significant contributor to our current fiscal mess.

But what these two effects will eventually end up wreaking on our economy are the closure of our small community banks (one of which employs me). If the big boys are not going to earn their proper rate of interest, they are not going to want to pay the little guys to originate the mortgages. Couple that with draconian regulations that address all manner of issues that have pretty much nothing to do with the financial crisis and completely ignore chief culprits Fannie and Freddie, Community Banks, the banks that finance your local small businesses, will get squeezed out, unable to shoulder the financial burdens that the new regs and the diminished profits that result from the skittish lending environment.

The bell may already be tolling for small community banks like mine.

Posted by: Lisa M at August 11, 2010 9:16 PM
But jk thinks:

No offense taken. I oscillate between royal and standard first person because I am underwater and I first proposed this free government lunch program to benefit, ahem, myself. Wouldn't your bank like the business of closing all these newly enabled refis?

No doubt that secondary securiizers will be more wary of mortgage backed instruments with additional early repayment risk. It seems that train left the station some time ago, but I think that's legitimate evil in this scheme -- it would further depress MBS' already toxic value.

Posted by: jk at August 11, 2010 9:47 PM

August 7, 2010

Consequentialist Libertarianism

First, a quick Review Corner. Haavaad Professor Jeffrey Miron's Libertarianism from A to Z would be enjoyed by any ThreeSourcer. As the title suggest, it is a dictionary of libertarian thought on various topics. Available for Kindle, I read a few every time I'm in the doc's office or finish another book. Five star stuff.

He introduces a pair of terms that make me think of my blog brethren: consequentialist vs. philosophical libertarianism. Miron espouses consequentialist thought because he suggests it is more suitable to explanation and evangelism. At the risk of reopening the biggest 3src war of all time, I've always been fond of pointing out freedom's successes. A'la Friedman: look at Hong Kong and Maoist China. Same people, climate, and geography -- but the free state is wealthy, while her resource-rich neighbor across the bay is poor.

The consequentialist does not have to disagree with the rights-based approach but chooses concrete practical examples. I don't expect everyone will change their beliefs (although he does teach at Harvard!) but it is a clear and respectful differentiation and I think the terms might do us well 'round here.

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

Can we kumbaya on this with an "all of the above" libertarianism policy? You promote economic freedom as 'best for society' I'll promote it as 'moral and just for every individual' and we'll both celebrate Friedman and Kel Kelly.

Posted by: johngalt at August 7, 2010 6:25 PM
But jk thinks:

Kumbayas all 'round, bro. I just found it to be an interesting locution for different views heard on these pages.

Posted by: jk at August 7, 2010 7:36 PM

Locally Grown "Medicine"

Yes, we all know that "medical" marijuana is a con to get the stuff out in the open. But c'mon!

Some tasty phrases from separate ads on the 5 pages of pot "dispensary" ads in the back of the Boulder Weekly independent newspaper:

Daily Specials for our Customers (while supplies last) ... Tuesday - Free Doobie Day!

Now Showing - Black Domina, Indica dominant with a hash-like buzz; Blueberry Crush, Succulent berry flavor with a smooth berry finish; Peak-19, Named after Mt. Everest for its epic highness!

Boulder's Most Discreet Dispensary - Recommended by both the Wall Street Journal and the Associated Press.

And my favorite. The one that had me laughing hysterically:

Happy Hour 1pm to 3pm Monday through Friday (...) FREE GRAM for First Time Patients

"Patients." Yeah.

War on Drugs Posted by JohnGalt at 11:15 AM | What do you think? [4]
But jk thinks:

I've shared my disappointment that things have turned out as they have. Megan McArdle had a great mea culpa that she did not foresee emergency room use going up after RomneyCare® was enacted and increased demands on office physicians exceeded demand. She cautions that libertarians, understanding unintended consequences, should not be so surprised by them.

Disappointment aside, would I change my vote or the seriousness with which I supported it? Nope.

Unseemly though it is, it is saving the Angel Raiches of the State. I don't know how many real patients there are but it is nonzero and it is an unalloyed good for them.

For the others, are we really worse off? They would just be buying it black market or drinking instead or cooking up meth in the toaster oven. I don't know but I suspect the increased use the accessibility provides is offset by the removal of this money stream from the underground economy.

We could fix things for both of us. How about legal, regulated and taxed?

Posted by: jk at August 7, 2010 12:35 PM
But johngalt thinks:

No, I really don't have a problem with it being legal. I just want something in return.

As for regulating and taxing it, I'm far more opposed to those government functions than anything related to weed.

The impetus for posting this was the hypocrisy. It was legalized as a pain med and is marketed like a micro-brew. Free samples and discreetness and happy hours for Advil? I don't think so. Is our society so immature that we can't just be honest?

Posted by: johngalt at August 7, 2010 6:05 PM
But jk thinks:

A dozen links and I am still baffled by this compromise. "I'll take that free Corvette I won in the raffle -- BUT ONLY IF it comes with a free roast chicken!"

Posted by: jk at August 8, 2010 11:58 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Maybe it's just me...

I see the subset of America who are activists for legalized pot as environmentalist liberals.

I see the subset of America who are activists for domestic oil production as SUV drivin' conservatives.

Those in the conservative camp oppose pot more than I do (and way more than you do) but I suggest they accede to legal pot if the pothead anti-capitalists will do so on domestic oil drilling.

Wouldn't you call that a compromise between those two factions?

Posted by: johngalt at August 9, 2010 2:31 PM

August 6, 2010

Friday Goat Blogging

Blog friend Terri refuses to interrupt her vacation to bring us Friday Calf blogging. I felt I had to step into the breach.

A friend of a relative participates in a community farm, and mama goat (pardon me if get too technical) could not care for these kids, so he brought them home. I understand they walk on leashes through his suburban neighborhood and cause quite a stir. I can only imagine.


On the web Posted by John Kranz at 4:56 PM | What do you think? [3]
But Terri thinks:

Too, too cute! Thanks for sharing and taking up the mantle. You might want to make it permanent. After getting too attached to newborn calf the farm has given up ranching for good.
All the miniature herefords have been sold including little Athena who was born in June.

Posted by: Terri at August 6, 2010 5:30 PM
But jk thinks:

I've never met these folks or their goatsies. Sis sent the link and I have no permission (other than the fact that they did put this on YouTube...)

But if they wish to provide content, I'd be delighted to make it a regular feature.

Posted by: jk at August 7, 2010 12:48 PM
But jk thinks:

@Terri: I'm guessing you're in the Spanish Riviera in a $2500/night room with the FLOTUS entourage. Say hello to Michelle for us!

Posted by: jk at August 7, 2010 1:09 PM

Quote of the Day

The ordinary function of government is to destroy talented people, but Romer's epic failure has an additional element of tragedy. As an economist, Romer did an excellent job [pdf] of establishing that New Deal stimulus failed to end or seriously mitigate the Great Depression. As an Obama team player (and poignantly, a sunny supporter of the then-senator's campaign), she made a 180-degree turn toward pro-stimulus hocus pocus. Romer will be remembered as the main advocate of the mythical "multiplier" phenomenon, in which every federal dollar spent producers more than 100 pennies worth of economic activity. This is the kind of economics you'd expect to hear from a fine arts major. -- Tim Cavanaugh
Ouch.

Hiroshima

Reading through the Presidents, I have come to like almost all of them better after learning more about them. Even those I disagree with -- say TR -- I have come to respect for their patriotism and sincerity. The first words I ever heard Glenn Beck say were "I HATE Woodrow Wilson!" That was a bad first impression. I disagree with President Wilson's philosophies and policies. I abhor many things he and his administration did. But I do not hate him.

One guy that went down was President Truman. McCullough's superb biography was quite complimentary but I was surprised at his commitment to Progressivism (always thought he was the "reasonable" successor to FDR, but he crusaded for government health care) and almost disgusted by the TJ Prendergast, Kansas City machine that spawned him. McCullough is probably right that he was honest -- but he came out of a putrid, corrupt system.

One thing I will not countenance is the idea that he is a "War Criminal" for the atomic bomb decisions. A Japanese friend at college loved to rail about "Truman the War Criminal."

Today brings news that the Obama Administration is offering a soft apology -- sending a low level diplomat to a service the US has typically eschewed. Warren Kozak worries that any hint of an apology shows moral equivalence.

Young people today may have a hard time understanding that point because of the moral equivalence and political correctness that have taken over our society, our media and especially our universities. It teaches our children that all countries have good and bad elements within them -- something so obvious that it's trite. But this lesson has become so powerful that it is not out of the norm for young people today to believe that, while World War II was certainly horrible, all sides share some blame.

Concerning today's event in Hiroshima, the State Department said "at this particular time, we thought it was the right thing to do." It may indeed be the right time for our two countries to share this event. But by tacitly placing all of World War II's participants in the same category, we undermine the ability of future generations to identify real evil, putting them at great risk.


I'm colored by historical absolutes about the brutality of Hirohito's Japan, but also of personal anecdotes. My Mother-in-Law (no jokes from me, this woman is my second Mother) grew up in occupied Philippines and saw incredible acts of depravity.

Of course, that does not earn an A-bomb, but it went all the way up. Truman made the right call and proceeded courageously. I'm glad we are allied with modern Japan, but I am not in an apologizin' mood.

Complete Text:

A Hiroshima Apology?
Japan's continued focus on remembering the bomb has been an understandable sore point for its Asian neighbors, who suffered greatly at its hands. .ArticleComments (221)more in
By WARREN KOZAK

For the first time since the United States dropped the atomic bomb on Japan 65 years ago, today the U.S. ambassador to Japan will attend the official commemoration ceremony at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial. The U.S. ambassador has always declined the annual invitation, but this year is different. President Barack Obama decided to acknowledge the event with the presence of a high-level dignitary. As State Department spokesman Philip Crowley explained, Ambassador John Roos will be there "to express respect for all the victims of World War II."

Gene Tibbets—the son of Brig. Gen. Paul W. Tibbets Jr., the pilot who dropped the bomb on Hiroshima—called the Obama administration's decision "an unsaid apology." Whether or not that's the case, by saying "all the victims" Mr. Crowley raises the specter of moral equivalence, a problem that's grown worse over the years when it comes to judging right and wrong during World War II and throughout history.

The U.S. dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945. When the Japanese still didn't give up, the U.S. dropped a second bomb on Nagasaki three days later. On Aug. 15, the Japanese surrendered unconditionally, ending the most brutal war in the history of the world.

Japan remains the only country ever to have been targeted by atomic bombs. More than 120,000 Japanese died instantly from the bombings and perhaps as many succumbed to radiation poisoning afterwards (the exact number will never be known). It should be noted that when President Harry Truman was considering whether to invade Japan instead of dropping the bombs, his advisers estimated that an invasion would result in one million American casualties and at least two million Japanese deaths. In the strange calculus of war, the bombs actually saved Japanese lives.

If the Obama administration wants to ease the friction over this event or even to apologize, then perhaps it is also a good time for the Japanese government to begin to discuss World War II truthfully with its own people.

Since 1945, Japan's narrative has centered almost exclusively on the atomic blasts and its role as victim—with short shrift given to the Japanese invasions of China, Manchuria, Korea, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Indochina, Burma, New Guinea and, of course, the attack on Pearl Harbor. Japanese children have learned little about the Rape of Nanking or the fact that as many as 17 million Asians died at the hands of the Japanese in World War II—many in the most brutal ways imaginable.

There is also the inconvenient truth that Japan started the war in the first place. There would have been no war in the Pacific between 1937 and 1945 had Japan stayed home.

Focusing on the atomic bombs paints the Japanese as victims, like other participants in World War II. They were not. The Japanese, like their German allies, were bent on global conquest and the destruction of other people who did not fit their bizarre racial theories. Japan's continued focus on Hiroshima and Nagasaki has been an understandable sore point for its Asian neighbors, who suffered greatly at its hands.

There are times when ordinary citizens understand history better than their leaders. In approaching Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Mr. Obama should consider a related event that took place 25 years ago. On May 5, 1985, President Ronald Reagan made a rare public relations gaffe when he visited the Kolmeshohe Cemetery near Bitburg to lay a wreath at the graves of German soldiers.

His reasoning came from a decent place—he wanted to help bolster his ally, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, and he thought that enough time had passed to allow both countries to move on together. But a firestorm erupted when it was learned that the graves were not just those of ordinary Wehrmacht soldiers but of SS troops as well. President Reagan dug in his heels despite strong protests and laid a wreath at the brick tower that loomed over those graves.

The protests came not because people refused to move on or because the postwar bonds between Germany and the U.S. were not strong and real. They were then and they remain so today. Rather, the anger came because the president's act created a tacit understanding that U.S. soldiers were no different than SS Storm Troopers, whose bloody tracks still leave a horror throughout Europe that can barely be equaled in that continent's long, lamentable history. The G.I.s were liberators. The SS were demented murderers. Period.

Young people today may have a hard time understanding that point because of the moral equivalence and political correctness that have taken over our society, our media and especially our universities. It teaches our children that all countries have good and bad elements within them—something so obvious that it's trite. But this lesson has become so powerful that it is not out of the norm for young people today to believe that, while World War II was certainly horrible, all sides share some blame.

Concerning today's event in Hiroshima, the State Department said "at this particular time, we thought it was the right thing to do." It may indeed be the right time for our two countries to share this event. But by tacitly placing all of World War II's participants in the same category, we undermine the ability of future generations to identify real evil, putting them at great risk.

Mr. Kozak is the author of "LeMay: The Life and Wars of General Curtis LeMay" (Regnery, 2009).

Copyright 2009 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. Distribution and use of this material [LIKE POSTING IT ON YOUR GODDAM BLOG!] are governed by our Subscriber Agreement and by copyright law. For non-personal use or to order multiple copies, please contact Dow Jones Reprints at 1-800-843-0008

But jk thinks:

I admit I don't understand diplomospeak, br, maybe our striped-pants friend tg will explain it.

Modern Japan is a great ally and I dislike the thought of denying them anything. But I think Kozak's analogy to the SS and Reagan at Bitberg is apt. As is a concern that they continue to teach this victimology over an objective assessment of their country's 20th Century leadership.

@ka: "Coming out ahead." I assume you mean that Deming was a better advantage than MacArthur was a loss? I completely agree.

Posted by: jk at August 6, 2010 1:59 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

jk: yeah, in hindsight, that was pretty poorly worded on my part. Should anyone ask: no, I'm not making light of 200,000 vaporized souls, and I wasn't thinking "nuclear destruction of two cities in one hand versus Deming in the other - seems like a fair trade to me." What I *meant* was, rebuilding and modernizing their nation from their pre-war condition to Japan, Inc., is a great leap forward.

I probably have a kinder view of MacArthur than you; on the other hand, Japan took Deming to heart more than America did. American industry - especially American automakers - ccould still learn a lot...

Posted by: Keith Arnold at August 6, 2010 5:13 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

JK: Any way to de-Rupertize the text of the article and send me a copy?

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 6, 2010 5:28 PM
But jk thinks:

I pasted the complete text in the "Continue Reading.." portion ("Rupert forgive me, for I hath sinned against thee...")

Would EVERYBODY please send me an email. Backup Boy lost his Outlook contacts apres le deluge.

Posted by: jk at August 6, 2010 5:52 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

Interesting article. I would not be comfortable comparing those who died at Nagasaki and Hiroshima with SS troopers. Unlike the SS troopers, the average Japanese civilian was not a murderer. I mean, if this was the Yasukuni Shrine it would be an entirely different matter....

As for an apology? I probably wouldn't offer one. Were I in Truman's shoes I would have done the same. And the fire bombing of Tokyo and environs was orders of magnitude worse. That does actually make me a bit squeamish. Were I in Truman's shoes I do not know if I would have been able to authorize the dropping of 1,700 tons of incendiary bombs on civilian homes.


But nobody remembers the firebombs today. And that is for the best, isn't? It is better to just let these things go quietly, I think. I'd rather not be asking the British government to apologize for Tarleton and his men.

Posted by: T. Greer at August 7, 2010 1:41 AM
But nanobrewer thinks:


Conservative estimates are of 1M American lives saved and over 5M (that's million) Japanese lives saved by the bombs (another one of my passions is military history).

I've studied it quite a bit because my uncle was to be in the 1st wave, and my Dad was slated for the 3rd wave in Operation Olympic. I've seen the quite a bit of evidence of the land-based "kamikazes" that were planned as a reception (Al-Queda suicide-bomb-rafts? Japs had them too, called "Shinyo").

So, I'm not unbiased, but neither do I hate the Japanese: I rather like their country and their friendship in fact! Their monument at the center of Hiroshima is very touching, but I wouldn't be there to apologize either.

Posted by: nanobrewer at August 11, 2010 12:11 AM

I Try to Like The Obamas

Really. For a partisan hack I deserve a prize. I have really opened up to engage the President only on policy issues and to leave the First Lady and the Portuguese Water Pooch alone.

But this requires a little mudslinging. Yes it is a partisan article. Yes it is from a partisan source. But don't these folks care about appearances even if they don't care about, you know, our money?

Material girl Michelle Obama is a modern-day Marie Antoinette on a glitzy Spanish vacation

Now, obviously, that's a low blow. FLOTUS is entitled to a little trip. And it would be churlish to do a cost accounting, and --
[T]he First Lady is spending the next few days in a five-star hotel on the chic Costa del Sol in southern Spain with 40 of her "closest friends." According to CNN, the group is expected to occupy 60 to 70 rooms, more than a third of the lodgings at the 160-room resort. Not exactly what one would call cutting back in troubled times.

Reports are calling the lodgings of Obama's Spanish fiesta, the Hotel Villa Padierna in Marbella, "luxurious," "posh" and "a millionaires' playground." Estimated room rate per night? Up to a staggering $2,500. Method of transportation? Air Force Two.


Those little girls though -- cute as cute can be! I love Sasha and Malia.

Hat-tip: Instapundit


August 5, 2010

Skylark 1994 - 2010

sky_point_web.jpg

Pointing 'cause she hears Mom's voice.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:16 PM | What do you think? [5]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

My deepest condolences. Pets are a part of the family. ~16 years is pretty amazing.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 5, 2010 4:50 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

My sympathies as well, friend. My hope is that our Maia, who we lost a few months ago, is joyfully showing your Skylark the lay of the land right now, in a place where the jerky treats never run out.

Your Skylark is a beautiful dog.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at August 5, 2010 5:08 PM
But Terri thinks:

Wow - what a beauty. She is clearly a "good dog"!

In case you've never read the Rainbow Bridge poem. Here's the link. It's a beautiful thought.
http://www.petloss.com/poems/maingrp/rainbowb.htm

Take care.

Posted by: Terri at August 5, 2010 7:10 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Losing a pet is more than the death of a relative. It feels more to me like losing a child. Deepest sympathies to you and Riza and all others who loved Skylark.

Posted by: johngalt at August 5, 2010 8:10 PM
But AlexC thinks:

A beautiful dog.... my condolences.

Posted by: AlexC at August 5, 2010 10:56 PM

Bad Thought of the Day

If three star players are injured in the first two days of practice. Might one cast aspersions on the Sophomore coach?

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

Why?

The circumstances of Dumervil's injury is comparable to me "tweaking" my neck in the act of getting out of bed. Was the drill "excessive?" No. They're practicing football techniques.

Is someone, perhaps, still looking for reasons to dislike the lad?

Posted by: johngalt at August 7, 2010 10:56 AM
But jk thinks:

Someone is concerned, yes.

Completely anecdotal and likely coincidental, but I'm thinking of a CEO. Does Coach McDaniels hire and supervise the trainers? I don't expect players will be on the sidelines in comfy chairs, but they are capital assets that deserve proper maintenance and care.

Posted by: jk at August 7, 2010 11:59 AM

Bad Politics 101

Okay, he's my Gubernatorialguy! I pimped for him on these pages! I gave money! I mailed in my ballot yesterday with his oval completely filled!

This does not really strike me as good politics in Colorado:

Republican gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes is warning voters that Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper's policies, particularly his efforts to boost bike riding, are "converting Denver into a United Nations community."

"This is all very well-disguised, but it will be exposed," Maes told about 50 supporters who showed up at a campaign rally last week in Centennial.

Maes said in a later interview that he once thought the mayor's efforts to promote cycling and other environmental initiatives were harmless and well-meaning. Now he realizes "that's exactly the attitude they want you to have."

"This is bigger than it looks like on the surface, and it could threaten our personal freedoms," Maes said.


See the bikes all come in black helicopters... I guess he wasn't planning on carrying Boulder County anyway, but this comes against the backdrop of Lance Armstrong and Governor Ritter announcing a new Colorado Stage race -- and all heading out afterward on a bike ride.

I'm thinking this round may have gone to the Democrats...

CO Governor Posted by John Kranz at 1:49 PM | What do you think? [6]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

We in heap big trouble, bwana.

Even The Refugee's support for Maes began to waver until Susan Greene savaged him in a Denver Post column this morning. If he's on Greene's radar enough to hate him, those are bona fides enough for The Refugee to stay on board.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 5, 2010 2:47 PM
But johngalt thinks:

BR is right. This is a hatchet job on the candidate that threatens both established political parties, hence the Denver Post has twice the reason to be nervous. All Maes did was point out that the bike program originated with ICLEI and suggest that voters learn what ICLEI is about. It IS bigger than it looks on the surface.

And those who get all their news from the Denver Post have probably never heard if ICLEI. But ThreeSourcers have.

Posted by: johngalt at August 5, 2010 3:38 PM
But johngalt thinks:

A miniscule selection from ICLEI's "Habitat Agenda:"

"43. We further commit ourselves to the objectives of:

(...)

(m) Encouraging dialogue among public, private and nongovernmental interested parties to develop an expanded concept of the "balance-sheet", which recognizes that the economic, environmental, social and civic consequences for directly and indirectly affected parties, including future generations, should be taken into account in making decision on the allocation of resources;"

Posted by: johngalt at August 5, 2010 4:08 PM
But jk thinks:

Yeah, the "about 50 supporters who showed up at a campaign rally last week" comment engendered some solidarity. But let's pick smarter fights that this, boys, smarter fights.

Posted by: jk at August 5, 2010 4:24 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Agreed on that point, JK. However, perhaps to JG's point, the Leftstream Media (I love that term) can take an off-hand remark and make it sound like the central theme of the campaign. The Post seems to be giving blatantly partisan coverage this season. On a day when they ran simultaneous front-page (very) negative stories on McInnis and Maes, they also ran full-page puff-pieces on Bennet and Hickenlooper about how dedicated they are to family how hard they try to balance work-life issues. The juxtaposition, IMHO, was no accident.

The Maes coverage that concerns me is from Vincent Carroll, hardly a left-wing stooge. I tend to give credence to Carroll's instincts. He's piled on Maes with all the rest.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 5, 2010 6:09 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes, I heard Carroll too. He's been in the newspaper business so long he's like a life-long congressman. He's been on the take for so long he doesn't even know anymore that he's on the take.

Posted by: johngalt at August 5, 2010 8:12 PM

Are Grits Groceries?

There's an old blues song that has always baffled me:

If I don't love you baby, then,
Grits ain't groceries,
Eggs ain't poultry,
And Mona Lisa was a man.

I grew up on brain teasers and tried to deconstruct these lyrics a little more than Little Milton probably intended. Though not demonstrably false, none of the negatives struck me as "2 + 2 = 4" true. Was I dissembling, or was Diminutive Milt a little less committed than he wanted to let on?

Perhaps the Obama Administration will set up an agency to tackle the grits-groceries conundrum. But by law, they will have to decide "What is Health Care?"

There will be more such what-have-they-done ObamaCare moments. Wait until the public discovers the government is now literally determining what qualifies as "health care" in America.

That isn't a typo. ObamaCare mandates that insurers spend a certain percentage of premium dollars on benefits, but Democrats never got around to writing the fine print of what counts as a benefit. So a handful of regulators are now choosing among the tens of thousands of services that doctors, hospitals and insurers offer. Few other government decisions will do more to shape tomorrow's health market, or what's left of it.

This command-and-control mechanism is the bill's mandate for insurance "medical loss ratios" (MLR) of 85% for large employers and 80% for small businesses and individuals. The MLR is an accounting statistic that measures the share of premiums paid out in patient claims ("losses"). In the individual market, MLRs typically run between 65% and 75%, and Democrats like Jay Rockefeller and Al Franken think this is evidence of excessive profits, executive pay, marketing and other supposedly wasteful overhead.

The same mentality prevails in the Administration, so it may well adopt a narrow definition of medical expenses when it issues final regulations by early fall. The insurance industry is lobbying for a less rigid standard: It will be easier to run a business and turn a profit if more of the costs are considered truly medical in nature.


Looking at other bureaucracies, I think I'd be more willing to trust Little Milton.

UPDATE: From the same editorial: "Even North Dakota's Democratic Rep. Earl Pomeroy, who voted for the bill, argues that tight MLR regulation 'could have a chilling effect on future innovative programs.' " Not that he ever considered -- for one second -- not voting for the innovation-chilling legislation. Thanks, Earl!

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

Coffeehousin'

Coffeehouse

Sabor a Mi

"Love this tune! Original words and music by Alvaro Carrillo. English lyrics by Mel Mitchell"


Live at the Coffeehouse dot Com


But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Bet that made The Wife swoon!

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 5, 2010 2:40 PM

Last Word on the World Cup

I know blog brother HB will be considering an intervention on me, but I can't stop now.

The post below suggests the delightful "Stuff White People Like" as a good start to the mockery required to put out effete elite where they belong. And by sheer coincidence, today's "Stuff White People Like" is -- you guessed it:

Every four years the planet comes together to celebrate the World Cup and since white people make up a portion the world, they are not immune to the excitement.

However, before you start planning out long watching sessions with white people you should be aware of exactly why white people get so excited about the World Cup. Though you may be waiting on bated breath for your favorite sport on a global scale, white people like the World Cup because it allows them to pretend they are European for a few weeks, and more importantly, it allows them to get drunk at odd hours.


Posted by John Kranz at 10:47 AM | What do you think? [3]
But T. Greer thinks:

Stuff White People Like is one of my favorite satire stops on the internet. For those who don't feel like perusing all of their (admittedly hilarious) posts, the author has turned his blog into a book available at most book chains.

However, I will disagree with you here. The World Cup bit isn't that funny. Not when you have already read the post on why White People like "The Idea of Soccer".

^_~

Posted by: T. Greer at August 5, 2010 1:08 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

And 'cause I can't help myself, here is a few more I have found particularly hilarious. Stuff White People Like:

AWARENESS

HAVING GAY FRIENDS

HATING CORPORATIONS

BEING OFFENDED

APPEARING TO ENJOY CLASSICAL MUSIC

"GIFTED" CHILDREN

BARRACK OBAMA

Posted by: T. Greer at August 5, 2010 1:20 PM
But jk thinks:

Yeah, Having Gay Friends was the first one I saw. I like their stuff a lot but never seem to visit unless linked there. How very White of me...

Posted by: jk at August 5, 2010 1:48 PM

Why Such Cultural Confidence?

But I go back to my initial question. Why does an elite that is actually not admirable in what it does, and not effective or productive, that has added little or nothing of value to the civilizational stock, that cannot possibly do the things it claims it can do, that services rent-seekers and the well-connected, that believes in an incoherent mishmash of politically correct platitudes, that is parasitic, have such an elevated view of itself?

The old British aristocracy could at least truthfully say that they had physical courage and patriotism and cared for their shires and neighborhoods and served for free as justices of the peace. The old French aristocracy could at least truthfully say that had refinement and manners and a love for art and literature and sophistication and beautiful things. The old Yankee elite could truthfully say that it was enterprising and public spirited and willing to rough it and do hard work when necessary. This lot have little or nothing to be proud of, but they are arrogant as Hell.

Why aren’t these people laughed out of the room?


I rarely start a post with the excerpt, but you have to admit that was good. That is Lexington Green (an elitist name if I've ever heard one) discussing what he considers the most important of the three planes of war: "John Boyd said that war is waged on the material, intellectual and moral plane[...]" It is a great and short post that will appeal to ThreeSourcers across the board.

Why Indeed? Hat-tip: Instapundit

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 10:38 AM | What do you think? [1]
But T. Greer thinks:

I was wondering why that had thread had gotten so big. Didn't realize it had been instalanched. Here is the comment I left over at ChicagoBoyz last night:

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

Why does the elite exclude such strong cultural confidence? Perhaps this is the wrong question. I would ask, “why doesn’t everyone else?”

Asabiyah. It is a term the author of this post [Lexington Green] has heard before, but for those new to it, read this. It all comes down to asabiyah. The elites have it – no one else does. The decline of American social capital is well documented. Less remarked upon is the differing rate of decline among various classes. While I have no empirical evidence to prove it (not that such could not be found, given a few days of research), I suspect that America’s oligarchy is quite a bit more cohesive than the rest of American society. They possess the same cultural mores, attend the same social functions, and dwell within close circles. The tale of the modern American man has been one of growing isolation and extreme individualism. This does not hold true for the elite.

I am reminded of the following words of John Derbyshire’s:

Perhaps we can glimpse there the trajectory of American history from the beginning of this nation to its end. First, for ninety years, we were a loose federation of states or regions, with an occasional awareness of being under a single Constitution. Then, for a hundred years, we were a modern-style nation, a true Union, under firm, though not overly intrusive, central control. Then, for a further few decades—less than six, if my 2022 target is accurate—we suffered a sort of paradoxical phase where we were encouraged to think of ourselves not as a nation, but as a collection of group identities, each wandering off in a different cultural direction, with its own heroes, history, churches, movies, TV programs, and music—the paradox being that central government control and expenditure was swelling mightily all the time.

That hits things on the head, doesn’t? American society has fractured along a thousand lines and one splinter has emerged on top of the rest. Why shouldn’t they have cultural confidence? They rule the world – and that without trying. That without the support or help of the thousand squabbling identities below them. What else should we expect from the best and brightest of America’s first entitled generation?

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

My case ties in a bit to a post of mine previously linked to here at ThreeSources, Death of a Nation. If Americans cannot unite together they will be dominated by those who do. Cultural confidence, I think, is a result by product of such domination.

Posted by: T. Greer at August 5, 2010 1:02 PM

August 4, 2010

Scissors Cut Paper; Weatlth Trumps Poverty

Shortly, sweetly, Andrew Biggs at American.com shatters one of my least favorite myths. Social Security (or insert your favorite Progressive legislation) ended poverty among seniors.

But the real reason that half of the elderly lived in poverty before Social Security was that about half of everyone lived in poverty then, for the simple reason that the country was a heck of a lot poorer. Today, the average annual wage is around $43,000. In 1935, the average annual wage in inflation-adjusted terms was around $15,000. Remembering that most households of the 1930s were single-earner and most had kids, the poverty threshold for a family of four in today's dollars is around $20,000. Tripling real average earnings can do a lot to reduce poverty.

Lefties -- and even some real smart ones like our friend Silence -- love to claim that government took us from the almost Dickensian conditions of the Nineteenth Century to now: that children don't work 15 hour days at the mill because TR passed a law. In reality, our increased wealth and productivity (Briggs says earnings) brought us here. The question is how much social programs may have impeded how far we came or how quickly we got here.

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 5:35 PM | What do you think? [2]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Dickensian child labor is another myth I've addressed on my blog. Children worked long and dangerous hours because the families would otherwise starve on a father's wages. They worked in factories because it was guaranteed pay, as opposed to the real possibility of starvation from subsistence farming.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 5, 2010 9:37 AM
But jk thinks:

Amen. But the Progressives have been disturbingly effective in claiming that the difference has been child labor laws and not wealth.

There's a great character in the BBC dramatization of "North and South:" a kind factory owner who wants to do right by his workers but there just isn't enough to go around. A nice change from Scrooge.

Posted by: jk at August 5, 2010 10:23 AM

Mel Brooks had his "History of the World, Part I"

Blog friend TG posts part I of Notes on the Dynamics of Human Civilization: The Growth Revolution.

He warns that it is long, but I find it quite interesting. Curious to see where he heads in Part II.(and suspect I might have more comment at that time). But it is not to be missed.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:18 PM | What do you think? [0]

All Your Riches Are Belong to Us!

WSJ: More Billionaires Sign the Gates-Buffett Giving Pledge

Bill Gates and Warren Buffett announced today that 40 signers, including at least 30 billionaires and other wealthy families, had officially made the Giving Pledge–a promise to give away more than half their fortunes.

Many of the names already were known, from Eli and Edythe Broad and Michael Bloomberg to Pierre and Pam Omidyar and Paul Allen. But the list also includes some notable new ones, especially from the world of finance: New York financier Ronald O. Perelman; Citigroup founder Sandy Weill and wife Joan; hedge-funders Julian Robertson Jr. and Jim Simons; and private-equity honcho David Rubenstein.


Hank Reardon could not be reached for comment.

Were I in the club, I would commit to spending my half-fortune spreading the word about property rights.

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 12:58 PM | What do you think? [2]
But Keith Arnold thinks:

So long as it's done voluntarily, it's their right, and about that, I won't complain. To the extent that it's done out of guilt (as Hank, guilted into supporting his worthless brother) or out of a desire to be seen doing so (like the hypocrite in Matthew 6:1-2), I've got no use for it.

Better that they should shut up about it and write a check (or better still, reinvest it into business, create some jobs, and lead the way in healing the economy). Unlike the left, I won't presume to be able to read the minds of the other side and know their motivation; but making a public pronouncement like this gives their detractors the right to presume their motivation.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at August 4, 2010 2:16 PM
But johngalt thinks:

My bet? 100% "the hypocrite."

Posted by: johngalt at August 4, 2010 3:24 PM

All We Are Saying Is Give Capitalism a Chance

Kel Kelly discusses his book, The Case for Legalizing Capitalism:

During my study of free-market economics over the years, it occurred to me that this fascinating, economically sound reasoning for how the world really works and what would genuinely help our lives was widely discussed in the procapitalism, academic-type world, but that the general public was wholly unaware of these astounding insights.

I wanted to explain free markets in plain English to average citizens, so that they could understand which government policies help or harm them, and, as a consequence, so that they could vote in such a way as to improve their lives.

My main message is that most of our economic problems derive from previous government intervention in the economy. In its attempts to "help" us, the government has managed and regulated the economy, and passed laws that sounded constructive but that in fact hurt the economy and us.


Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 10:44 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Kelly's summary of his own book makes it pretty clear I'd agree with him in full. I'd say that someone else has already "create[d] a one-stop refutation of all anticapitalist arguments, using plain economic logic and applying free-market (i.e., classical liberal) arguments and economic laws to today's political scene, across the entire political-economic spectrum" namely, the Friedmans' "Free to Choose" but I also have to admit some of Friedman's writing is obtuse. If this is a more accessible version of the same thing then it may be a better choice for gifting to every high school graduate. But there is still an advantage of gravitas and authority for "Milton and Rose Friedman" versus "Kel Kelly."

There's also the issue of overplaying your hand. While I'd probably agree with Kelly's "original arguments advocating antipatriotism and the intentional dismantling of individual countries, including our own" it leaves an opening for anticapitalists to call him a crackpot. It seems another case of choosing better battles.

Posted by: johngalt at August 7, 2010 11:09 AM

August 3, 2010

The Chevy Volt Dance

Brother AlexC posted this on Facebook, but I wanted to make sure everybody saw it.

Now who can say that the bailout didn't work, huh?

But johngalt thinks:

Yikes. First the kiddies took over government and now the kiddies have taken over marketing at a major multinational corporation. What's next? Oh, I forgot: medicine.

Posted by: johngalt at August 4, 2010 3:22 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

Hey, if the Volt at my local Chevy dealer came with one of these dancers, I would buy it too. ^_~

Posted by: T. Greer at August 4, 2010 5:38 PM
But jk thinks:

They're all government workers, tg, you'll be paying for their healtcare the rest of your life.

Posted by: jk at August 4, 2010 6:13 PM

Quote of the Day

I am always wary of people who say "I speak my mind," as though that was a good thing to begin with. It's a better strategy, surely, to think your mind, pick out some edited highlights, and speak those. Otherwise, what's the point of having a mind at all? You might as well just have your mouth wired up directly to somewhere else entirely. -- Hugo Rifkin, speaking to PM David Cameron
Posted by John Kranz at 11:55 AM | What do you think? [0]

Free Society vs. Fear Society

Sharansky lives. Even though he pulled the rug out from President Bush, I could not get a second to change the blog name to "Nascar Retards." Good for you guys.

The WSJ Ed Page takes a somber, serious look at our future in Iraq. I thought of Sharansky, and President Bush, and our nation's achievements when I read this line:

Iraqis admit the shortcomings of their new order—from electricity brownouts to unemployment, corruption and sectarian violence. But one would be hard pressed to find any Iraqis—Sunni, Shia or Kurd—who don't cherish their ability to criticize without fear inside the Arab world's freest democracy.

We can argue for 100 years whether it was proper, or worth the blood and treasure (Mexican War anybody? Spanish-American?) But we transformed a "Fear Society" into a "Free Society."

They end with some unexpected props:

Mr. Obama earned this victory lap by taking political heat from the Democratic left and staying the Bush course in Iraq. "The hard truth," he said yesterday, "is we have not seen the end of American sacrifice in Iraq." It is also true that because of that sacrifice, a major terror threat is gone and Iraq's people have a path forward.

War on Terror Posted by John Kranz at 10:34 AM | What do you think? [0]

August 2, 2010

Broken Window Fallacy

Or, YouTube tries to explalin Bastiat to Krugman in 3:31:


An Economic Mystery

I'd love to hear some ThreeSources speculation on a short conversion with one of my beloved but non-moonbat relatives.

Their friend has had a well known automotive repair shop in a working class neighborhood for 30 years or so. Business is way down, and his parts supplier assures him that this is the case all over.

Huh? What? Granted this is an nth level anecdote, but I would speculate that car repair would profit in an economic downturn. Owners would be less likely to purchase a new car and repairing the old one would seem more attractive.

Perhaps more owners would do more repairs DIY-style, perhaps lower cost alternatives like Grease Monkey or Meineke look better that the local garage. Desperate folks might forego repairs altogether. None of these seem compelling.

Am I missing one? Does somebody want to call "shenanigans" on the whole story? I don't know but I cannot put it together.

But Boulder Refugee thinks:

First of all, what is the shop owner's definition of "way down?" The shop owner's idea could be 25% and the supplier's 5%; each number tells a different tale. Moreover, is the supplier being fully honest or just commiserating with a customer and telling a "white lie" when in fact their business has been flat-to-decent?

Auto repair is not a recession-proof business for all the reasons that you note. However, if your friend's business is off - say - 25%, then he's got problems beyond the economy. Perhaps he's got new mechanics who aren't doing a great job, or his customer service rep is crabby and customers have gone elsewhere.

If he has extra time on his hands from slow business, he should be on the horn to customers asking how their car is running and finding out he can do to provide better service. Maybe offer a free oil change with any repair service. He may drum up business or he may get an earful.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 2, 2010 6:05 PM
But jk thinks:

It would be good to see stats. I confess this to be incredibly anecdotal.

There is one thought I mentioned in conversation but did not include in the post. Are cars just getting better? I told beloved-non-moonbat relative "he's not seeing you, you have a Toyota!" I put preternaturally low miles on a car, but my Toyota is six years old and has never seen the inside of any place but a Grease Monkey. I wonder if the industry isn't built around 1978 Plymouth Volares and is thusly overcapacity for modern import and domestic vehicles.

Posted by: jk at August 2, 2010 6:28 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

The customers can't afford car repairs. Any discretionary money they had left is going to pay for somebody else's Volt.

Seriously, though - I know people who are putting off all but the most essential auto repairs, hoping they can keep it together with spit, glue, and baling wire until the economy rights itself. I hope their optimism is justified.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at August 2, 2010 6:28 PM
But sugarchuck thinks:

I think a lot of viable used cars that would have been coming in for repairs had they worked their way into the system were crushed as clunkers instead. Now the real clunkers still left are not worth repairing so they'll go up on blocks or get set out in fields. The irony of the Obamanation never stops. Rich guys that were going to buy new cars anyway got Govt. jack to help with the purchase and lower income guys lost out on the opportunity to buy affordable used cars that had plenty of shelf life left in them provided they received proper maintenance and parts. Hmmm... now low income guy has a harder time getting to work, parts guy has fewer parts to sell and rich guy, who thought he made out great on cash for clunkers will pay more taxes to compensate for the government meddling in the auto markets. More hopey changey goodness from the Obamassiah!

Posted by: sugarchuck at August 3, 2010 10:27 AM

I Think the Word is 'Pwned."

Taranto discusses this (and doesn't mention the large body of attendees who do not seem to support this woman) but I recommend taking the 3:37 and watching the video:

But johngalt thinks:

"I'm sure glad you're here to save it?" Like hell he is.

Posted by: johngalt at August 4, 2010 3:15 PM

I Wondered About THis

I must admit it is fun to have two serious primary battles underway. We have read a Junk's worth of Tea Leaves in the Buck - Norton contretemps, but The Bennet-Romanov race for the Democratic nomination is worth a gaze as well.

I have seen one commercial many many times. President Obama talks up Michael Bennet, who appears just to say he approves the message. It is all Obama after that. I figured it might help in the primary, but that I'd give $500 to run it a week before the General. Well, John Fund suggests that it's not even helping in the primary:

But Mr. Romanoff has now surged to a 48% to 45% lead over Mr. Bennet in a new Denver Post poll, with his strongest gains being made among liberal and younger voters. That's the profile of many Obama supporters -- and a key part of Mr. Bennet's strategy has been to emphasize his White House ties.

"The fact that Bennet has Barack Obama ads on everyone's television screens multiple times a day right now shows that he's scrambling to win this primary," Eric Sondermann, a Denver political consultant, told the Post. "That is not an ad you'd run in the general election."

If Mr. Obama's endorsement winds up failing to pull Senator Bennet to victory, many Democrats will begin to wonder just when, where and against what kind of opponent the president can still be a political asset.


Pretty stunning decline of political capital. The President should do well with Centennial State Democrats -- or at least as well as you'd expect with any demographic.

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

Quote of the Day

And I thought I was hard on "Our Margeret:"

Oh Peggy, Peggy. What is to be done with her? She writes in the WSJ to distance herself from the Tea Party, those enthusiastic women with large breasts in tight T-shirts and more alarmingly those men with large breasts in tight T-shirts, waving signs that say "Taxed Enuf!" or "We The People!" America is such a hard place to be an aspiring to be upper class Republican. If you were really upper class, you would be living off your great grandfather's buttonhook fortune and working on remodeling your barn for your darling Arabians. But poor Peggy like so many of us was not to the manor born and so has to convince her true audience that she is absolutely nothing like those white people waving signs. This is not all bad. The ferocious desire of the upper middle class to be truly upper class is one of the engines of American greatness. It's just too bad we don't have a Queen who could make her Lady Patricia of Potomac so she could just go away and be quiet and stop troubling us with her confusions. Peggy, my advice is, just give yourself permission to be a Democrat. It's OK. We understand. You think we're grubby, noisy, ill educated and don't know our place, and we think you're a pompous, posing RINO who wishes she were Patricia Harriman and isn't. So let's just agree to disagree. -- Tom Smith

Hat-tip: Instapundit


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