January 31, 2011

The First Guy to Tell You the Truth

Still putting the Christie stuff under "2012."

At 5:20: "Don't be angry at the first guy whio came here and told you the truth."

Hat-tip: Joe Collins of PA H20 dS/dt > 0, who rightfully labels it "Your Chris Christie pr0n of the day."

2012 Posted by John Kranz at 7:37 PM | What do you think? [0]

Mandate Struck Down!

YEAAAY! The individual mandate is struck down and Reason clucks that this video is referenced in the opinion:

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 5:06 PM | What do you think? [4]
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Judge Vinson just became one of my heroes as a result of this. If he visits California, I want to buy him a drink. Or two. Or more.

And Erwin Chemerinsky is a hack.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at January 31, 2011 5:21 PM
But jk thinks:

Maybe we'll get rid of ObamaCare®, Wickard, and Raich all in one fell swoop!

Posted by: jk at January 31, 2011 5:29 PM
But jk thinks:

Is he one of THE Vinsons? I have not been able to find out whether he was related to Carl or Fred.

Posted by: jk at January 31, 2011 5:38 PM
But johngalt thinks:

That would be one heckuva judicial grand-slam! FDR would roll over in his grave.

Posted by: johngalt at February 1, 2011 3:20 PM

Why are We Paying for This Again?

Professor Mankiw embeds a ten minute PBS Religion and Ethics video in which he appears. And, yes, he looks dashing, Had I been interviewed, you can bet I'd've posted it.

But the topic is tax fairness. And it examines religious values vis-a-vis taxation. It's tedious and awful, though I should credit them for putting Mankiw and Pete Werner on to present the non Communist side of the argument.

But the Elephant in the room is all the tax money they have taken from the rich, not to spend on the poor, but to produce this ten minutes of drivel. The free market is clearly capable of producing more and better drivel without subsidy. And without seething contempt for the state of Alabama.

Internecine War

I suspect Speaker Gingrich is not the leading candidate for the WSJ Ed Page endorsement in 2012. I don't know that for certain, mind you, I just inferred it from reading between the lines in their editorial today, entitled "Professor Cornpone."

The former Speaker blew through Des Moines last Tuesday for the Renewable Fuels Association summit, and his keynote speech to the ethanol lobby was as pious a tribute to the fuel made from corn and tax dollars as we've ever heard. Mr. Gingrich explained that "the big-city attacks" on ethanol subsidies are really attempts to deny prosperity to rural America, adding that "Obviously big urban newspapers want to kill it because it's working, and you wonder, 'What are their values?'"

I have a tortured relationship with the Speaker. I salute him for his 1994 Contract With America, and I much admire him for his historical knowledge and service to freedom. But one cannot help but feel those are in the past and that Gingrich was complicit in DeLayism and big government Republicanism. So thanks for 1994 Mister Speaker, but I'll be looking elsewhere in 2012.

And I suspect the WSJ Ed Page will too:

Some pandering is inevitable in presidential politics, but, befitting a college professor, Mr. Gingrich insists on portraying his low vote-buying as high "intellectual" policy. This doesn't bode well for his judgment as a president. Even Al Gore now admits that the only reason he supported ethanol in 2000 was to goose his presidential prospects, and the only difference now between Al and Newt is that Al admits he was wrong.

2012 Posted by John Kranz at 11:27 AM | What do you think? [2]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

The former Speaker is a great student of history and a policy wonk. He'd make a great Secretary of State, but not so much as a president.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at February 1, 2011 10:27 AM
But jk thinks:

Ambassador to Iowa?

Posted by: jk at February 1, 2011 12:13 PM

Worst Person in the World?

Now that Keith Olberman is gone -- NO, I just can't do it. Nope, execrable as he is, there are indeed worse people in the world than Senator Charles Schumer.


All the same...

Insty points out that "While the Middle East burns and America goes broke, Charles Schumer opines on bath salts."

ALBANY, N.Y. -- U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer of New York says he wants the federal government to ban new designer drugs known as bath salts that pack as much punch as cocaine or methamphetamines.

The small, inexpensive packets of powder are meant to be snorted for a hallucination-inducing high, but they are often marketed with a wink on the Internet or in convenience stores as bathing salts.

The Democratic senator is announcing a bill Sunday that would add those chemicals to the list of federally controlled substances. He is also pushing New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to ban the substance in the state.

Graphing myself versus Sen. Schumer in the Nolan Chart or comparable two-axes political distribution would show true opposites. Schumer is authoritarian on personal liberty issues and confiscatory/collectivist on economic.

Add his capacity for demagoguery and, well, if he didn't have such a great personality...

UPDATE: Daily Caller (via Taranto) piles on:
"you know, we have three branches of government. We have a House. We have a Senate. We have a president."

112th Congress Posted by John Kranz at 10:53 AM | What do you think? [1]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Whatever Chuck the Schmuck smokes to get that stupidly statist, that should be banned before anything else.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at January 31, 2011 12:15 PM

Quote of the Day

We are now in the season when the media tells us over and over again that "weather is not climate" and that the natural variations in the temperature do not, repeat not, affect the credibility of climate change. I actually believe this, although in just a few months the fiddlehead ferns will be poking up through the forest floor and the media will be back to reporting each and every hot spell as conclusive proof that climate change is already here.

My totally unscientific conclusion based on close study of the media: weather isn't climate in the months which have "r" in them. The rest of the year, it is. -- Walter Russell Mead

January 30, 2011

Pennsylvania is NOT a Third World Country

I knew I would have to post or link to that provocative headline before I read the column. Post reado, I will post but not tease.

The line comes from the grand jury report investigating Kermit Gosnell's abortion practice.

"Pennsylvania is not a third-world country," the grand jury felt compelled to insist in its brutal 261-page report, and it's a bad sign when you have to preface your description of an American medical office with those words
Pennsylvania may not be a third-world country, but its abortion mills--like those in most other states--really are reminiscent of one: free and independent entities, uniquely exempt from supervision and regulation, carved out from the rest of medicine. Every other kind of doctor is weighed down by record-keeping and inspection requirements. Abortionists alone are free. "Pennsylvania's Department of Health has deliberately chosen not to enforce laws that should afford patients at abortion clinics the same safeguards and assurances of quality health care as patients of other medical service providers," the Gosnell grand jury explained. "Even nail salons in Pennsylvania are monitored more closely for client safety."

The reason, of course, is what such medical practices involve. Ever since the Supreme Court issued its Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, ending states' power to outlaw abortion and making it instead an individual right, abortion has distorted American law and snarled American politics. Why should it be any surprise that it has soiled American medicine as well? People like Dr. Gosnell are allowed to exist by the pro-abortion lobbying groups that insist ordinary medical supervision will lead to a curtailing of access to abortion in this country.

This supports my "Pro Choice, anti-Roe" position. State regulation is an important defense against third worldism. Yes I did just take a pro-regulation position. State government's enforcement of minimum standards for medical and veterinary facilities is an appropriate exercise of State power.

We're used to Federal intrusion as being more restrictive and onerous than State. But it is clearly as harmful to prevent a State from exercising its rightful functions.

SCOTUS Posted by John Kranz at 10:59 AM | What do you think? [4]
But Keith Arnold thinks:

"Pennsylvania is not a third-world country."

Neither is California: http://tinyurl.com/4khyhg5

Though at the rate we're going here, we will be one in the not-too-distant future. We'll save a place for Pennsylvania when we get there.q

Posted by: Keith Arnold at January 30, 2011 5:59 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Roe doesn't legalize infanticide, and it didn't lead to the lax state regulation of PA abortion clinics. According to the article, Tom Ridge did.

(I'll also point out that this is one side of the story. I don't know the other side but certainly it might be told a bit differently than this.)

Posted by: johngalt at January 31, 2011 1:45 AM
But jk thinks:

I'm all ears to the pro-Gosnell side, bro, send me a link.

The point -- and I've read Bottum for a long time and know his leanings -- is that Roe purposefully interferes with a State's regulation mechanism, just as McDonald v. Chicago will hopefully interfere with states' gun control regulations.

A gun shop or abortion clinic who feels they are being leaned on has a powerful weapon to push back against a state regulator. Rightly or wrongly.

A candy warehouse with a rodent problem cannot claim the state inspectors are violating a Constitutional right to candy (Justice Douglass didn't live long enough...) But I suspect the double standard described in the Bottum article to be true, and I posit that the Gosnell case proves it.

Posted by: jk at January 31, 2011 10:09 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Gosnell and his associates "broke state law" so apparently Roe hasn't chilled state regulation as you suggest.

Further, "The Pennsylvania Department of Health abruptly decided, for political reasons, to stop inspecting abortion clinics at all." No mention of Attorneys General or federal judges.

The guy is a bad doc. So stipulated.

Posted by: johngalt at January 31, 2011 3:41 PM

January 29, 2011

Energy Sadness

The revoltionary unrest in Egypt is bound to cause a spike in world oil prices, even if Egypt's 2 million barrels per day continue to flow. The reason is fear. Fear that any slight disruption in the flow of oil through the stages of refinement and distribution will cause shortages. And that fear is well founded. Recall the story I posted in Autumn '08 highlighting how tightly the world oil supply is controlled to match demand.

The take away from this should be that adding as little as 1.9 million barrels per day (2.3%) to the world oil market at any time in the last 2.5 years would have put the market in surplus at the time. Remember that the next time someone says, "The small amount of oil we could produce domestically would not lower prices for 10 to 15 years."

So what does "oilman" T. Boone Pickens tell us about the situation in Egypt? Speaking with FNC's Cavuto this morning-

Pickens: "What this is gonna do, let's go over to the United States. We have "resources" in America that we should be using. And we shouldn't be sittin' here when somethin' like this comes up, here we're all runnin' around sayin' what in the hell is gonna happen to us, ya know, how's this gonna affect America and everything else. When we should be getting on our own "resources." Uh, it's just, it's the saddest thing in the world that your leadership doesn't take you in the direction of independence."

Cavuto: "When the administration announced this past week that it's going to end oil subsidies, focus on some of these alternatives ... too little too late for you?" Not enough?"

Pickens: "Well, what was said was in 2035? We're gonna be over to renewables? My God, that's twenty-five years from now. We can do this much, much sooner. And we need to do it sooner. And, it's available to us. What I want the president to do is say look, all federal vehicles in the future will be on our own "resources." Domestic "resources." And we have 'em, we can go to it. It can be done. And it should be done. We're gonna do it now. I think this is gonna push us over the edge."

[Emphasis and scare quotes on "resources" mine.]

I scare-quoted resources because Pickens never explained what he meant by the word. Certainly he can't mean wind power, which he declared "dead as hell" early in the first year of the Obama administration. He might be thinking of natural gas, of which America does have huge a domestic supply.

But we also have massive domestic reserves of oil and coal. If everyone could be free to risk his own investment in developing the energy source he thinks best then the marketplace would enjoy a full supply of every known energy source and could pick and choose from them as needed at any time, accomodating any crisis. America does not need government "leadership" in this area. In fact, government leadership invariably goes in the wrong direction. What is needed for energy independence is economic and regulatory independence. That America doesn't have or demand this is what's really "the saddest thing in the world."

But jk thinks:

The saddest thing in the world is to have a successful oilman lose faith in free markets. Wind may be dead as hell but when I see him on Kudlow he's pushing to convert the federal fleet to natural gas to coerce manufacturers to support it.

Posted by: jk at January 30, 2011 10:48 AM
But johngalt thinks:

That confirms it. When he said, "What I want the president to do is say look, all federal vehicles in the future will be on our own resources" he meant "natural gas."

Which is not surprising considering he owns a natural gas fueling station company.

Posted by: johngalt at January 30, 2011 4:35 PM

Should Have Listened in 2005...

Hat-tip: Verum Serum (via Insty)

January 28, 2011

Quote of the Day

Or is it an All Hail Harsanyi? You decide:

How do we deal with this daunting future? Obama says that "none of us can predict with certainty what the next big industry will be or where the new jobs will come from." And by "none of us," he means you. Because Obama proceeded to give a speech that laid out exactly what needs innovating, which sectors will be innovative, where new jobs will be found and how we are going to get to those jobs. Can you say high-speed rail? The president can. He mentioned railroads six times, because how else are we going to win the 19th century back? -- David Harsanyi

But johngalt thinks:

Just in time for President Obama's "high-speed rail" initiative...

German rail crash kills at least 10

The accident happened just before 10.30pm local time when the commuter train, travelling on a single track at around 60mph, hit the cargo train, which was going at around 50mph. A police spokesman said the trains were travelling so fast that the passengers in the front carriage would have been killed instantly.
Posted by: johngalt at January 30, 2011 9:05 PM

Iraq, Afghanistan -- Hell, I could never tell 'em apart!

The Commander-in-Chief gets two major theatres of war confused. No biggie.

Ira Stoll suggests that the same error from President Bush or Reagan would have engendered a bit more media attention,

Hat-tip: Instapundit

The Bloom is Oficially Off the Rose

The President has lost the last two "Conservatives" in Manhattan. David Brooks was negative on the SOTU, leaving me to wait all week to see what "Our Margaret" would say. I actually thought she might like it. Nope:

The State of the Union speech was not centrist, as it should have been, but merely mushy, and barely relevant. It wasted a perfectly good analogy--America is in a Sputnik moment--by following it with narrow, redundant and essentially meaningless initiatives. Rhetorically the speech lay there like a lox, as if the document itself knew it was dishonest, felt embarrassed, and wanted to curl up quietly in a corner of the podium and hide. But the president insisted on reading it.

And that is one of the nice paragraphs.

I don't put much stock in the Brooks-Noonan Axis. But it is an important fig leaf to some. When it was a wave with J. Toddington Voorhees VIII Christopher Buckley, Gen. Colin Powell piling in it seemed significant. Now as they have all quietly backed out, I don't know the loss is devastating -- but it can't be good for the White House.

At least they have a McLaughlin Company alumnus to set things straight. FOX should hire Pat Buchannan to spar with him.

Familiar Sounding Name...

There are probably thousands of AlexCs...

MORE STILL: Reader Alex Charyna writes: "You would turn on your HF ham radio and listen. Hopefully there is someone out there able (and with the balls) to talk out to the world. The ham radio guys are big on emergency preparedness. In this case, it's govt caused. But if you look at what hams did on 9/11 and the Haiti earthquake, you would be surprised. I don't have a HF rig handy but if I could, i'd certainly give a listen."

UPDATE: Can't keep our Keystone State blog friends down! LisaM scores an interview with Ambassador John Bolton.

But AlexC thinks:

There can be only one.

The others have been dispatched.

Posted by: AlexC at January 28, 2011 11:29 AM

January 27, 2011

Finally! Da Recognition dey Desoive!

Nyuk, Nyuk, Nyuk!

UPDATE: I am guessing Thomas Edison is spinning in his grave. However, if he is wearing a ferrous belt buckle and there is a magnetic field...

James Pethokoukis ponders crony capitalist links among the soi disant Republican Jeffrey Immelt and his new Democrat boss:

Sure enough, wherever Obama has led, GE has followed. Obama has championed cap and trade in greenhouse gasses, and GE has started a business dedicated to creating and trading greenhouse gas credits. As Obama expanded subsidies on embryonic stem cells, GE opened an embryonic stem-cell business. Obama pushed rail subsidies, and GE hired Linda Daschle -- wife of Obama confidant Tom Daschle -- as a rail lobbyist. GE, with its windmills, its high-tech batteries, its health care equipment, and its smart meters, was the biggest beneficiary of Obama's stimulus.

NOTE: The quote is from Tim Carney of the Washington Examiner, as excerpted in Jimi P's post.

Also via Pethokoukis, Jerry Bowyer:

The fact that Immelt is a Republican is as beside the point as the fact that Daley is a Democrat. Increasingly our nation is divided, not between Rs and Ds, but between TIs and TBs: tribute imposers and tribute bearers. The imposers are gigantic banks, agri-businesses, higher education Colossae, government employees, NGO and QUANGO employees and the myriad others whose living is made chiefly by extracting wealth from other people. The bearers are the rest of us: the people who extract wealth from the earth, not from others.

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

You Can't Make this Up

The Denver Post reports that Colorado State University biologist, June Medford, has developed a plant that can detect the presence of explosives by turning from green to white. Isn't it wrong to expose innocent plants to toxic fumes? Where are the People for the Ethical Treatment of Plants when you need them? Moreover, aren't are these "Frankenplants" a menace to the environment? And get this: the plant's name is "arabidopsis." Does that mean it is profiling for Arabs? Somebody call CAIR.

"If you take something into Denver International Airport, like an explosive for a plane, my plants are going to turn white," said Medford, 52. "That's going to get the security guys on you."

Kidding aside, Homeland Security envisions the plant to be so ubiquituous that it can detect explosives at the point of manufacture.

"Because you could engineer these plants any way you want, you could make them highly selective," said Doug Bauer, the Homeland Security explosives research program manager in Washington, D.C.

"Our hope is if these plants could be located ubiquitously, we might be able to detect explosives at the point they are being assembled," he said. "You would have a much greater opportunity for first-responders to interdict and disrupt that activity."

Is The Refugee the only one who listens to this and thinks, "Are you all insane? Even if the plant works, are the bad guys so stupid that they won't be able to find a locale without a nearby arabidopsis or just pull the damn things up? Are these people smoking the produce?"

So far, this little experient has cost the US taxpayer 10 million greenbacks. But the really bad news is that it takes the plants three hours to change colors... and you thought the airport security lines were long now...

Science Posted by Boulder Refugee at 3:30 PM | What do you think? [0]

Word of the Day - "Investment"

OK, this should have been Tuesday's WOTD, but whatever...

There are 12 dictionary definitions but what it boils down to in my mind is what I read in Robert Kiyosaki's 'Rich Dad, Poor Dad' - an investment is an asset for which money or something else of value is traded. This asset is meant to be held and traded again later, preferrably for a higher value than you started with. Other types of spending - labor, food, charity - are defined as consumption.

So can government spending be an "investment?" I think this line from the Wikipedia entry on investment is most telling:

"The word originates in the Latin "vestis", meaning garment, and refers to the act of putting things (money or other claims to resources) into others' pockets."

Yep. In that case, virtually all government spending is an "investment."

A Tight Weld

An extensive article in today's Denver Post profiled Weld County as the only county in Colorado without a dime of long-term debt. (Weld is home territory for JK, JohnGalt/Dagny and The Refugee). Whereas neighboring Boulder County has more than $564 million in debt and Denver has $8.7 billion, Weld provides its services without debt, without a sales tax or use tax and hasn't raised it's mill levy in more than 30 years.

Still, despite lower tax revenue, Weld was able to recently complete a $17 million jail expansion. "We put away $1 million here and then a million there over the years because we knew we had to expand the jail eventually," Kirkmeyer said. "We pay as we go."

It helps that the county gets help from oil and gas development. In 2009, when Weld got more than $20 million in oil and gas revenue, all of it was put in a contingency fund.

What a concept: save money for things you know you'll need and don't spend it just because you have it. It's perhaps worth noting that nearly every elected official in Weld County is a Republican.

The Refugee moved to Weld County from Boulder because of its strong property rights. He would like to propose a tagline: "Weld County: The Anti-Boulder." Kinda catchy.

Colorado Posted by Boulder Refugee at 2:37 PM | What do you think? [4]
But jk thinks:

It gets worse. When there was trouble ahead, the County cut spending, closing some offices on certain days, furloughing workers. Crazy.

Posted by: jk at January 27, 2011 3:13 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I knew that Weld County government was debt free but the article says that is still the case when all of the cities and school districts in Weld County are included. Nice.

I'll stipulate that the oil and gas severance tax revenue is a big reason that taxes are low and the budget is balanced. (Alaska anyone?) It sure is a shame that there's no oil or gas west of the Weld County line, though. For some reason there aren't many oil wells in Boulder County. And it would be so easy on all that open space!

Posted by: johngalt at January 27, 2011 3:24 PM
But johngalt thinks:

P.S. Commissioner Kirkmeyer is my neighbor.

Posted by: johngalt at January 27, 2011 3:25 PM
But Terri thinks:

Weld is also home to 3 of my dependents. (you can write off old horses, right?)

Posted by: Terri at January 27, 2011 3:38 PM

Props to the Prez!

MMS8_small.jpg We must not forget that the glass is 1/3 full. The President whiffed on free trade agreements for Colombia and Panama. But he did sign one for South Korea.

And I just purchased this awesome Korean mandolin.

Korean instruments used to be terrible, both for lack of manufacturing prowess and shipping concerns: delicate tops could not survive the boat ride so all Japanese and Korean guitars were over-fortified and offered less tone. Then, in phase two, they found their mojo and built good quality, playable student instruments. Nice, but always a big step behind higher end American products.

In my recent hunt, however, I played some incredible, top-drawer, Asian mandolins including a $2200 Chinese model that I almost bought. Yes, it takes time to acclamate to big prices of tiny items. Gibson rules the roost. Their F-series start at 3K for no-frills, but the bulk of their line is in the 8-16K range. After the Nashville flood, they have not built any and supply is even further diminished.

And no, I didn't sell a first born, mine was a little less than $800. Nothin'!

Posted by John Kranz at 10:56 AM | What do you think? [2]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

A shot from the Virtual Coffee House?

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at January 27, 2011 12:52 PM
But jk thinks:

Coming... The photo was lifted from the web site* but it pretty accurately matches mine.

* Hope Morgan Monroe is not a Righthaven firm -- I'll be in the pokey!

Posted by: jk at January 27, 2011 2:33 PM

Quote of the Day

High-speed rail and solar shingles? If that's the president's idea of meeting our Sputnik moment, then Houston, we have a problem. -- Dan Henninger

January 26, 2011

Whither the Tea Party Resonse

The SOTU is kind of Christmas for political geeks. But we neglected one topic that interested me: Rep Michelle Bachman's "Tea Party Response." I did not watch it. After the President and Rep Ryan's response, I found myself full up on speechifyin' And I was anxious to get John Stossel's response (he did a whole show with David Boaz and Rep. Ron Paul -- awesome).

So maybe she soared. Maybe it was great. But I think it was ill advised. Does Rep. Ryan not represent the Tea Party enough? It sends a message of disunity that disturbs the blog pragmatist.

Anybody see it? Me wrong?

Tea Party Posted by John Kranz at 5:24 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

I sawr it. It wasn't televised, but was an live web feed from "Tea Party HD" or something like that. I didn't rush to view it live, figuring it would be available on-demand when and if I was ready to demand it. Then FNC's 'Greta' saved me by running the whole thing on her show.

My best guess: She didn't write it. Someone at Tea Party Central Command wrote it and Bachman read it.

My impression: It seemed like a good script with the right message narrating some excellent charts, but she put her emphases in all the wrong places and it came across without much punch. And the teleprompter was off to the side of the camera, making her look cross-eyed to the viewer.

As far as I know it wasn't her idea, she didn't promote it, and it didn't contradict the Ryan response. It was hyped out of proportion by the DLEMM*, perhaps intent on sending a message of disunity in GOP/TEA movement ranks.

* (Dominant Liberal Establishment Mass Media)

Posted by: johngalt at January 26, 2011 7:56 PM

Quote of the Day

I can picture in my mind a world without war, a world without hate. And I can picture us attacking that world, because they'd never expect it. -- Hugh Prather
Hat-tip: My darling bride on Facebook.
Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 4:18 PM | What do you think? [0]

NPR Word Cloud

Democrats, Republicans agree: the SOTU was about salmon. New Civility reigns!

Hat-tip: Bryan Preston

But Keith Arnold thinks:

And Obama's economic policy is about swimming upstream, fighting against the mighty river of economic reality, in hopes of spawning before meeting an ugly death, spent and exhausted.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at January 26, 2011 5:18 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

... or, perhaps more eloquently...


Posted by: Keith Arnold at January 26, 2011 5:21 PM
But jk thinks:

Mondo Heh!

Posted by: jk at January 26, 2011 5:24 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Is the bear Russian? (Or Chinese.)

Posted by: johngalt at January 26, 2011 7:45 PM


UPDATE: And put down Reason's Nick Gillespie and Veronique de Rugy as a "no:"

Instead, he served up the equivalent of a microwaved reheating of the sentiments of his immediate predecessor, George W. Bush. That's some sort of groovy, space-age technological feat, for sure, but we shouldn't confuse left-over platitudes about cutting wasteful spending on the one hand while ramping up publicly funded "investment" on the other for a healthy meal.

With an unacknowledged debt to the long-running reality show Survivor ("Outwit, Outplay, Outlast"), Obama insisted that we must "out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world." Which is to say, he sounded exactly like Bush 43, albeit with more open references to China and endless plugs for high-speed rail.

Chump in Chief

Yesterday, Rush Limbaugh brought to light a deep insider insult to Obama and America in general during the recent state dinner for China. Chinese-American pianist Lang Lang closed the program with a solo of "My Motherland," supposedly a simple Chinese song. The problem is, that it is actually a Korean War era anti-American anthem well known to the Chinese populace at large. Nicholas Eberstadt, writing for AEI's "The American" explains fully:

"My Motherland" is not a "Chinese song" in any ordinary meaning of the term. Instead, it is a Mao-era propaganda classic: the theme from "Triangle Hill" (Shangganling), a film in which heroic Chinese forces fight, kill, and eventually beat Americans in pitched battle during the Korean War.

"My Motherland" epitomizes the "Resist America, Aid [North] Korea" campaign that Beijing embraced during and after the Korean War. It celebrates Sino-American enmity. The gist of the tune can be seen in its lyrics (see the Wikipedia translation):

When friends are here, there is fine wine
But if the wolves come
What greets it is the hunting gun.

(Two guesses who "the wolves" are.)

"My Motherland" is still famous in China; indeed, it is well-known to practically every Chinese adult to this very day. Unfortunately, this political anthem and its significance were evidently unknown to the many members of the administration's China team--the secretary and deputy secretary of State, the assistant secretary of State for East Asia and the Pacific, and the National Security Council's top two Asia experts--who were on hand at the state dinner and heard this serenade. Clueless about the nature of the insult, they did not know to warn the president that he would embarrass himself and his country by not only sitting through the song, but by congratulating Lang Lang for it afterward.

To be fair to the POTUS, The Refugee and nearly every American would have been equally clueless. But assuming the program was pre-published and approved, someone at State should have caught on.

Eberstadt goes on to explain the implication of this incident for the future of Sino-American relations. The Refugee cannot do it justice - you'll just have to read the article for yourself. Very enlightening.

China Posted by Boulder Refugee at 11:43 AM | What do you think? [4]
But jk thinks:

There were suggestions early on that the outrage was whipped up by Falun Gong supporters. I certainly have not followed this closely and am disinclined to distrust the AEI too much, but I have some concerns on this one...

Posted by: jk at January 26, 2011 12:40 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Corroborated by this Singapore news site. "Chinese web users are acclaiming pianist Lang Lang's choice of tune for a White House state dinner given in honour of President Hu Jintao - a patriotic theme song from an anti-US war film."

I think that Eberstadt's point might be that, perhaps, the president's China team should have at least one person intimately familiar with Chinese culture.

Thanks for blogging this BR. I heard it from KOA's Michael Brown (heckuva job, Brownie) this week and meant to look into it.

Posted by: johngalt at January 26, 2011 2:38 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

My initial analysis was that Obama was merely being played for a chump, as the post states. Upon further reflection, I wonder. Obama is many things, but dumb is not one of them. Maybe I'm inventing a conspiracy, but I don't discount the possibility that this was Obama taking his American Apology Tour from Europe and the Middle East to Asia. What better way to "reach out" to China and absolve our sins than a subtle message that all Chinese and no Americans will understand? Perhaps the only people being played for chumps here are Americans by our very own Dear Leader.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at January 26, 2011 4:39 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Why does "everyone" always insist that President Obama is so wise and smart and cool? Oh yeah, it's Bush's fault.

Posted by: johngalt at January 26, 2011 7:44 PM

One Person, One Vote, Er, Something Like That

Government Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 11:15 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

The interview with Archie and Edith notwithstanding, I can imagine making arrangements with a colleague to vote for each other when we know what the other's vote would be. These are record votes. Any member whose vote is recorded differently than he intended should stop leaving his key in the voting console.

No mention was made of the vote being taken - a near unanimous resolution in moral support of gulf coast shrimp boat light bulb changers, perhaps?

This isn't members of the public stuffing ballot boxes. Nonetheless, either revise the rule or live by it. Yes, that's my final answer.

Posted by: johngalt at January 26, 2011 12:13 PM

Marxist SOTU - Part Deux

The Pollyanish cheerleader-in-chief has had his say. I liked his "we will defeat you" line to al Qaeda. He didn't actually use the word victory, but that is the only explanation for "defeating" one's enemy.

But this was about the only praiseworthy part of his effort. I noted a few of the more obvious hypocrisies in the comments to JK's excellent political feng shui post. But the overarching theme of the speech, the tag line for which was "Winning the Future" was economic growth. Not that any of the policies he espoused will lead to that, but that is what he implored Americans to achieve, in spite of him.

We do big things.

From the earliest days of our founding, America has been the story of ordinary people who dare to dream. That's how we win the future.

We are a nation that says, "I might not have a lot of money, but I have this great idea for a new company. I might not come from a family of college graduates, but I will be the first to get my degree. I might not know those people in trouble, but I think I can help them, and I need to try. I'm not sure how we'll reach that better place beyond the horizon, but I know we'll get there. I know we will."

We do big things.

So the American economy will grow through the aggregate efforts of "ordinary people" with unbridled ambition - except that our ambition is choking on the restrictions of a burdensome government. But instead of removing those chains the president tries to motivate us to work ever harder, in return for less. This is the same sentiment, and is borne of the same mentality, as is represented in this bit of fictional prose:

"You're the realist, you're the doer, the mover, the producer, the Nat Taggart, you're the person who's able to achieve any goal she chooses! You could save us now, you could find a way to make things work -- if you wanted to!"
But jk thinks:

Next to Michelle, I seem to be the American who liked the speech best. Of course he was spending money and arrogating power to the Executive branch -- he's President Obama.

Nobody is giving any props for rhetoric or style. While I'm shocked it has fallen to me. I'll breech into the steps:

-- The intro was awesome. The scranton Kid from Scrappy PA is Vice-President; the guy who swept daddy's club in Cincy is Speaker of the House. That's good stuff.

-- Style and technical points for the Salmon regulation. He was funny, engaging -- and on our side.

-- No mention of climate change. Nada.

-- Fix corporate welfare and use the proceeds to lower the too-high corporate tax rate. Mister Kudlow to a white paging telephone, Kudlow, Mister Larry Kudlow...

-- Big things ending was soaring. Sure he meant government doing big things, but it was a rare bit of what my Conservative pals like to call American Exceptionalism, and it sounded pretty good.

I'll not enumerate the bad points, but I'll give top prize to Kommisar Obama's Five Year Plans to get 80% of energy clean and give 80% of people access to high speed rail and make Jack-in-the-Box hamburgers have 80% meat and...

JG nails it in a QOTD-worthy comment below that the evil special interests don't seem to include the green energy (or high-speed rail) lobbies. His cut the debt talk is severely weakened by his underscoring support for the two biggest boondoggles in US History.

But he was charismatic and Presidential. I think the right-wing blogosphere is declaring victory waaay prematurely.

Posted by: jk at January 26, 2011 11:28 AM
But jk thinks:

OTOH, James Pethokoukis is disappointed that the deficit commissions findings were discarded.

Posted by: jk at January 26, 2011 1:16 PM
But johngalt thinks:

A template for the speech may have been the Newt Gingrich book by the same name, "Winning the Future."

"According to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, America currently faces five threats that could undermine, if not eliminate, the United States if immediate steps are not taken to correct them. The threats as he sees them are [1] Islamic terrorists and rogue dictatorships armed with nuclear or biological weapons; [2] the removal of God from American public life; [3] a loss of patriotism and sense of America's history; [4] a decline in economic supremacy because of poor science and math education; and [5] the increasing budgetary burden of Social Security and Medicare."

OK, well, maybe we'll just focus on item four.

Posted by: johngalt at January 26, 2011 2:44 PM

January 25, 2011

Last Word on SOTU Seating Chart

Steven Hayward: Save the Kumbaya Seating for the UN

After the British House of Commons was bombed in WWII, PM Churchill wanted it built just as it was, eschewing plans to "modernize." Hayward explains this was not done for tradition, but because he understood "We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us."

The main political point of the oblong House chamber that has the two parties facing each other is that it offers a stark clarity of choice between opposing political platforms. This, he argued, “is a very potent factor in our political life. The semi-circular assembly, which appeals to political theorists, enables every individual or every group to move round the centre, adopting various shades of pink according as the weather changes

Posted by John Kranz at 6:37 PM | What do you think? [3]
But johngalt thinks:

"80 percent of our energy from renewable sources by 2035." - Blah blah, blah blah.

Posted by: johngalt at January 25, 2011 9:30 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"Over the years, a parade of lobbyists has rigged the tax code to benefit specific companies and industries." - You mean, like renewable energy companies?

Posted by: johngalt at January 25, 2011 10:01 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"We can't win the future with a government of the past." - Government doesn't win futures, Mister President. At least, not pleasant futures.

Posted by: johngalt at January 25, 2011 10:14 PM

How did they know, before there was any evidence?

...That the Arizona shooting was the TEA party's fault? "I wouldn't want to jump to conclusions by not accusing them."

I'll be a lazy blogger today and just share this pointed and incredibly sarcastic xtranormal vid.

But AlexC thinks:

This is brilliant. Thanks for sharing.

Posted by: AlexC at January 25, 2011 4:00 PM

Quote of the Day

Bret Stephens, giving props to Keith Olberman:

All this matters in an era in which the greatest threat to public discourse isn't "incivility," as was so preposterously claimed after Tucson. Just compare the tedium of U.S. congressional debate with the rapier exchanges in Britain's House of Commons, the catcalling in Israel's Knesset, or the fist-fights in Taiwan's parliament.

Rather, the real threat is Good Morning America-style niceness, USA Today-style consensus-seeking, all-round squeamishness when it comes to words like "Islam," the political masquerade of "news analysis" from papers like the New York Times, and so on. In today's media landscape, audiences are being presented with a choice between voices who are honest (at least about their biases) but not objective, and those who claim to be objective but are rarely honest. Not surprisingly, Americans increasingly prefer the former.

But Keith Arnold thinks:

Interesting take on this: niceness gets you killed, but on the other hand, Cloward-Piven (Piven being in the news this week for favoring violent uprisings of the indolent class) is pragmatically effective. That old football saw about "the best defense is a strong offense" brought to life, as it were.

Yes, I'm aware the quotation is about offensive words rather than offensive action, but just carrying that out to its logical extreme. How about a bumper sticker that says "Niceness Kills"?

Posted by: Keith Arnold at January 25, 2011 12:49 PM
But jk thinks:

...then ThreeSourcers will all live a long and healthy life!

Put me down as a No for the new civility. We differ. We have a Constitution that allows us to differ. Let us disagree without being disagreeable. I dread the SOTU more than usual tonight (I might go fishing with Justice Scalia).

Let them sit in opposition to collective ideas. I got no problem with that.

Posted by: jk at January 25, 2011 1:13 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Would it be uncivil of me to refer to it this year, as I did last year, as the STFU address?

Posted by: Keith Arnold at January 25, 2011 7:54 PM

January 24, 2011

And the Women Shall Save Them

I'd love to see Sarah Palin as President. I'm not sure I think she's the best nominee from a winnability standpoint but we could and may well do worse in a future Commander-in-Chief. But even if she never achieves that office she has had and continues to have a profound impact on American politics. Why? I liked this extended analysis by City-Journal.com's Kay Hymowitz - 'Sarah Palin and the Battle for Feminism'

However excessive their frothing, feminists had good reason to be in panic mode. Palin may have lost her bid to become vice president; she may have failed to appeal to such prominent conservatives as Peggy Noonan, George Will, and Karl Rove, as well as to lesser right-of-center mortals like this writer; but by leading a wave of new conservative women into the fray, she has changed feminism forever. In fact, this new generation of conservative politicas -- having caught, skinned, and gutted liberal feminism as if it were one of Palin's Alaskan salmon -- is transforming the very meaning of a women's movement.


And the old-fashioned women's movement was ripe for the transforming. Ironically, in large part due to the success of that old-fashined women's movement in making the corporate and governmental realms so accessible to women. But at its core, the difference between progressive feminists and TEA movement gals is philosophical.

But the Palinites have drawn big question marks around language like this. What does "equality" mean? Is it equal opportunity, as the newcomers would probably say? Or equal results, as many feminists appear to believe? Does it mean women's choosing how to run their lives, just as men do? (Grizzlies.) Or does it refer to absolute parity between men and women? (Liberals.) How can both sides claim the feminist mantle with such different understandings of government's function and of women's progress?

Hymowitz closes her piece by citing a "marriage gap" in electoral politics, where "married women were far more likely to vote Republican than single women in 2010." She says this is "more evidence that feminism is up for grabs." I say it's evidence that women who do well in the competition for men in the social marketplace are less likely to want the government to mandate some sort of "absolute parity" with their sisters.

Tea Party Posted by JohnGalt at 3:27 PM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

Enjoyed the article quite a bit, thanks. I like the suggestion that the post war ascendency of women's rights unfortunately coincided with the diminution of libertarian tendencies and the apogee of trust in big government. Professor Bainbridge penned some cogent thoughts on the same piece.

I may start competing with your Atlas Shrugged QOTD franchise as I read Ludwig von Mises's Socialism. Like Atlas Shrugged and Mises's 1927 Liberalism, the prescience and applicability to today astonishes in every chapter.

In this 1922 release, he wrote a chapter on family, sex, and gender roles that holds up today as being well thought, contemporary, and forward looking, A couple reverse-anachronisms give it away, but it would seem pretty up to date had it been written last year.

Posted by: jk at January 24, 2011 6:55 PM

Sports Divas

Redskins fan and WaPo columnist Jason Woodmansee took Jay Cutler's NFC Championship performance yesterday as an opportunity to repeat his pleasure that the Redskins didn't make a trade to acquire the "jerk" Cutler. But that isn't the only thing he said. I think you'll get the gist by merely reading the title of his column: The assassination of the coward Jay Cutler by everyone. I've never been a professional athlete but I am an amateur and I have to agree with those who say they'd have to be chained to a bench to keep them out of a game of this magnitude. (I still recall Steve Yzerman trying to skate pre-game on a broken leg prior to a playoff game. "Yep, it's still broken." He didn't play. But he TRIED. He WANTED to.) Jay didn't seem to have the same feeling, or even much concern for his teammates still trying to go to the Super Bowl. Say it with me: "Super ... Bowl!" I'm with Woodmansee on one thing: I'm glad Cutler isn't a Bronco anymore either.

While we're on the subject of sports, some also consider the Denver Nuggets' Carmelo Anthony a diva. His contract expires after this season and he hasn't signed the multi-million dollar extension that the team has offered. Word is he's intent on signing with the Knicks who play near his supposed home town of Brooklyn. Let me be clear [guy thinks he's Barack Obama now] - I have no complaint about pro atheletes marketing their services to the highest bidder, or even to a favored bidder for whatever reason. And as a fan of the Nuggets I don't want to see any player on the team if he'd really rather be somewhere else. It would be nice if the Nuggs could get some compensation when he leaves but even if they don't, he's free to leave.

But there's another way to succeed in pro sports. In stark and refreshing contrast to the 'Melo situation is the developing long-term nucleus of the Colorado Rockies. Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and 5-tool outfielder Carlos Gonzales have both signed long term deals with the mid-market Rockies because they love the team, love the city, and want to lead by example to their teammates that there are values in sports higher than dollars - commitment and cameraderie. And these values lead to teamwork, which leads to - winning. They may not win a World Series as a result but they'll be competitive and they'll sell lots of tickets. (I know I'll be in the stands as much as I can.)

So Denver sports fans, take heart - We don't need 'Melo, we've got Tulo, Cargo and ... Tebow!

But jk thinks:

Opposing their rational self interest? WWARD?

[...]love the team, love the city, and want to lead by example to their teammates that there are values in sports higher than dollars

Posted by: jk at January 24, 2011 3:16 PM
But jk thinks:

But we do agree on young Cutler. I used to wonder whether his maturity would ever catch up with his (considerable) talent. Yesterday made it seem unlikely indeed.

Posted by: jk at January 24, 2011 3:19 PM
But johngalt thinks:

You don't think "winning" is in one's rational self-interest? I'm just saying there are more ways to profit than just dollars. If you press me I'll find a Rand quote proving that she agreed.

Posted by: johngalt at January 24, 2011 3:27 PM
But jk thinks:

I believe you can find a quote. But getting traded to the Yankees would not destroy a chance at winning. More importantly, I quoted your words because they did not mention any values that I would call individualistic.

Posted by: jk at January 24, 2011 3:41 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"More than three people never agreed on anything. Two is better, and one is best, for a job that one can do." -Professor Bernardo de la Paz in R.A. Heinlein's 'The Moon is a Harsh Mistress'

Playing baseball is a job that one can't do. Even the great Babe Ruth couldn't win a game by himself. Sometimes it takes a team. Actively participating in the assembly of that team is a profoundly selfish act. Taking the teammates some stuffed suit gives you is the way of the Borg. [I knew there was a better metaphor than "machine cog" if I thought long enough.]

Posted by: johngalt at January 24, 2011 4:04 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Disappointed I didn't provoke any commentary related to the Tebow mention...

Posted by: johngalt at January 25, 2011 3:54 PM

Having Killed the Golden Goose...

...the government puts on a goose costume and hopes nobody notices.

Blog friend Sugarchuck sent this link yesterday. Comment seems superfluous (not that that'll stop me.)

The Obama administration has become so concerned about the slowing pace of new drugs coming out of the pharmaceutical industry that officials have decided to start a billion-dollar government drug development center to help create medicines.

The new effort comes as many large drugmakers, unable to find enough new drugs, are paring back research. Promising discoveries in such illnesses as depression and Parkinson's that once would have led to clinical trials are instead going unexplored because companies have neither the will nor the resources to undertake the effort. Drug companies have typically spent twice as much on marketing as on research, a business model that is increasingly suspect.

Six years after the Democratic VP nominee vowed, in his precious North Carolina accent, that he and President Kerry "would fiiiight the drug companies," I think we can say they won.

They may not have won the election but their ilk destroyed one of the most innovative and productive economic sectors of all time. One dedicated to saving, extending and improving life -- all for the crime of profitability. And for anybody who is not paying attention, this is clearly the model for the rest of health care: regulate and tax it to death, then swoop in to save the industry by a Federal takeover. It doesn't hurt when a clever New York Times reporter blames their "increasingly suspect" business models.

With apologies to Mister Eliot, This is the way the free world ends -- not with a bang but a whimper.

Pharmaceuticals Posted by John Kranz at 10:32 AM | What do you think? [7]
But Keith Arnold thinks:

I don't think government has ever successfully invented anything, besides penumbras and employment figures. Innovation is the realm of private citizens and private industry.

I don't honestly believe that this "billion-dollar government drug development center" would have the ability to come up with a new flavor of toothpaste without cost overruns.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at January 24, 2011 3:32 PM
But jk thinks:

Watch it man. If they start invading the Toothpaste Czar's turf...

Posted by: jk at January 24, 2011 3:56 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Let it not be said that I never gave government the credit it deserves: Government invented the condition in which "gridlock" is a desirable situation.

Posted by: johngalt at January 24, 2011 4:09 PM
But Amy thinks:

I've been waiting for this article ever since the health care bill became an issue. My liberal online acquaintances would always be astonished when they found out that I was both mostly disabled and ferociously against the bill, because it was supposedly FOR people like myself. It was futile trying to explain to them that the bill wouldn't help ANYONE, and would in fact rip down the one remaining area of health care innovation that was left. I told them that eventually, nothing new would be made here, and they told me I was being silly.

The bill isn't even officially ENACTED yet, but insurance companies have been scrambling (I don't know about you guys, but my rates have skyrocketed), costs now have no objective setting, and...now this.

This is what scares me the most, because while people can look at concretes like costs of insurance and figure out how to fix those damages, how long will it take to convince companies that they can innovate again? How long will it take to remind people that it's them and not their country, that should be coming up with new ideas?

Pfizer's introduction of Lyrica allowed me to start working full-time again, it managed my pain so well. I've had more health issues pop up since then, but the medical industry hasn't kept up with me, and now I don't know that it ever will.

Posted by: Amy at January 26, 2011 1:39 PM
But jk thinks:

Welcome to ThreeSources, Amy, and thanks for the thoughtful comments.

I have MS so yeah, all this is for me too. So lucky to have gub'mint looking out for us, huh?

Posted by: jk at January 26, 2011 2:05 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"How long will it take to remind people that it's them and not their country, that should be coming up with new ideas?" Bingo! Right on target Amy.

But last night we saw the president's idea of how to inspire innovation. Borrowing from the fictional prose linked in that article,

"...who then proceed to seize the farmer, to chain him, to deprive him of tools, of seeds, of water, of soil, to push him out on a barren rock and to command: "Now grow a harvest and feed us!"

Posted by: johngalt at January 26, 2011 2:51 PM

January 23, 2011


I once promised to upload some Llama pictures in a pale but hairy imitation of Terri's badly-missed Friday Calf Blogging. They have been a little bashful, but were out in full force yesterday. Pardon the resolution of cell phone pix:






Posted by John Kranz at 11:23 AM | What do you think? [3]
But johngalt thinks:

Gosh, wouldn't it be nice if some wizard in Washington thought to stimulate proliferation of jobs in the same way they've stimulated the llama population - make it a tax shelter!?

Posted by: johngalt at January 23, 2011 11:52 AM
But jk thinks:

I debated whether to delve -- John Stossel had a great segment on "The Alpaca Bubble" as tax shelters have driven prices magnitudes beyond their value for wool production.

They are pretty darn cute and all, but a breeder recently sold for $750K. That's a lot of sweaters.

Posted by: jk at January 24, 2011 11:15 AM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

JK: and that's why llama ranching is best left to private industry - to make a lot of sweaters. Llama ranchers know something about llamas that politicians need to learn about taxpayers: you can shear them for a lifetime, but you can only skin them once.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at January 24, 2011 4:46 PM

January 22, 2011

The Blog Optimist Caves

It's all over. Hopeless.

The Denver Post (short excerpt used for illustration with attribution and link) calls this story the most commented and shared of the day.

Poor children who eat breakfast at school for free will have to pay 30 cents a meal for the last few months of this school year after Republicans on the legislature's Joint Budget Committee refused to provide additional funding for the growing program.

It was on teevee news this morning. A grandmother added the poignant political comment that "breakfast is the most important meal of the day." (When did I join the anti-breakfast party?)

NED forbid that parents could cough up $0.30 -- a buck and half a week -- to help the State provide the most important meal of the day. Where's the closest school? I was thinking the lovely bride and I would go enjoy a 60¢ repast. Hell, I'd even leave a nickel tip.

But the comments split up perfectly between the purview of the state versus starving, breakfastless kids on the other. That's an argument we're never going to win.

I'm going back to bed (after a delicious breakfast) all hope is lost.

UPDATE: Some FB comments:

@Mikhail this is the only meal some poor kids get all day. I can't believe you are so rude...its children we are talking about here...not like they can help if their parents are poor!!!!!

How awful...just in time for CSAP Season. Children should come to school satisfied and ready to learn...not on an empty stomach. This amazes me...and not in a good way.

God forbid we raise taxes on millionaires to relieve budget problems! Instead, let's cut programs for the needy! Can you say Bass Awkward? Sure you can its synonymous with Republican.

Colorado Posted by John Kranz at 11:06 AM | What do you think? [3]
But Keith Arnold thinks:

I don't get it. If breakfast is "the most important meal of the day," then why is it all these parents hate their children so much that they send 'em off to school without giving them one? That IS what parents are for, right?

And for all the mooching whiners who think that the public ought to be paying to provide breakfast to the children of deadbeat parents who won't feed their own flesh and blood: then drag your checkbook down to the nearest middle school, and write them a check. There's not a law on Earth preventing you from giving freely to the school of your choice.

Note to the parents of Alhambra: packing your brood off to school with a soda and a side order of Twinkies is not a nutritionally balanced breakfast, and I'm tired of picking up their leavings off my front lawn.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at January 22, 2011 5:37 PM
But jk thinks:

Actually, the idea of private donations was a third wing that opened up in the FB comments. I was thinking of donating and thinking about creating a web site where others could donate.

On the plus side, I love the Toquevillian solution to the problem and the demonstration that private charity really is an alternative to the gub'mint teat. But I don't know about the moral hazard.

I don't know how people in Colorado end up with kids that they cannot afford 30¢ to feed. No doubt that a few are sympathetic cases. A workmate of my wife's had her husband leave the country with another woman and all their money. She used public assistance temporarily to raise her three boys and get a two-year degree. Then she supported herself. If I believed 25% of the cases were like that...

What bugs me is the fungible nature of money. I don't want to buy breakfast so mom can afford another pack of smokes or dad another 40. Yet I don’t want to see a kid actually go hungry when six bucks a month could fix it.

Oh, ThreeSources Conscience – what should I do?

Posted by: jk at January 23, 2011 11:02 AM
But johngalt thinks:

And if I say kids won't go hungry in America even without their taxpayer breakfast I'm called a "Bass Ackward" Republican.

Church sponsored charity kitchens make it a point to never pass judgment on the souls who receive their charity. But when people go there for a meal they are conscious of the fact that they are accepting charity. Alternately, when your food stamps or state food debit card arrive in the mail it doesn't take long before the recipient considers it his "right" to receive it from "the man."

That's where we are with taxpayer breakfast - every kid has a "right" to a hot breakfast, even if his parents don't have time to prepare it.

Posted by: johngalt at January 23, 2011 11:16 AM

January 21, 2011

The Wonders of Socialized Medicine

The Wall Street Journal Europe Edition has a great editorial on The Myth of Free Health Care

More fundamentally, the resources available for caring for the sick or injured will still be treated as a commons, in the tragic sense. Every consortium will be obligated not to exceed its budgets in the course of a fiscal year, and it's all too easy to imagine the rush of procedures as doctors kick off the period in April flush with cash, along with the anxious moments in midwinter as budgets run low. "Don't get sick in March" could be the gallows humor coming to a doctor's office near you.

Nice. Perhaps there is some lesson we can learn from the cradle of liberty?
More than anything else, the Cameron government's reforms reflect an acknowledgment that only price signals of some sort can act as a check on the demand for, and cost of, supposedly free health care. The reformed NHS would put a price on almost everything the NHS offers or does—while maintaining the myth for consumers themselves that, when it comes to their health, money is no object.

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 4:33 PM | What do you think? [0]

Honor Roll

I've no plans to dive into cost vs. benefits on "Tiger Mothering." It is not my beat.

But, I stumbled across an interesting list from Nick Schulz:

Raja Ratna Murthy Ayyagari
Wendy Wenyu Cai
Fang Y Cao
Kuo-Kai Chin
Andrew Christopher Das Sarma
Pranav Gokhale
Parakh Jain
Ajay Kannan
Nilay Kumar
Annie Lin
Winston W. Liu
Sharon Ren-Wei Ong
Yinglun Wu

Montgomery County, Maryland students who were named as semifinalists in the prestigious Intel National Science Talent Search competition.

Spellcheck that.

Immigration Posted by John Kranz at 2:37 PM | What do you think? [0]

Then We Can Subsidize Them

Great News, you'll soon be able -- through your tax dollars -- to help Wall Street Fat Cats® buy $70,000 automobiles:

Mercedes-Benz' AMG models pound the pavement. The AMG lineup consists of vehicles that can dash from 0 to 60 miles per hour in a flash and exceed legal speed limits with ease. In short, AMG models have always been, and will continue to be, focused on performance. However, it appears as though even they aren't immune from the drive to improve fuel efficiency that's sweeping the automotive industry.

Then they'll get the tax credit. Cool, huh?

That's "Duh, Esquire!"


Hat-tip: JustStrings.com

UPDATE: I got a case for him (hat-tip: Taranto):

[Joselph] Moron is described by police as a 5-foot, 9-inch white man, weighing about 205 pounds with brown eyes and brown hair. They say he's known to frequent the area of Buckley Road and Iliff Avenue in Aurora.

If anyone has seen Moron, they're asked to call Aurora Police at 303-627-3152.

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 11:54 AM | What do you think? [0]


I don't know how deep we want to go down this road. I have my last day of a week long training class today (EST, class starts at 7am: okay for you farmers...). Pretty heavy for a Friday.

I first saw this on blog friend LisaM's Bluftooni. I respect her pro-life position, but did not know that this horrible situation should be extrapolated to impugn more responsible providers.

Shannon Love captures my sentiments pretty closely in a long and thoughtful post.

Again, I am pro-choice but this tragedy occurred because the left violently resisted even the least regulatory oversight of even the most extreme late term abortions. The left has made abortion the highest good that trumps every other concern, and the resulting real-world policies border on the surreal.

A school nurse cannot give a child an aspirin but any stranger can legally talk a 13 year old into an abortion at almost any term with no oversight whatsoever. The FDA paternalistically denies adults medicines and procedures that the FDA judges “unsafe” but allows children to decide about invasive medical procedures? WTF?

If you make it to the update, Love really does capture my sentiments -- becoming "pissed-off" at both sides. One side cannot bring itself to denounce casual infanticide with scissors; the other freely denounces the removal of a dead fetus after a miscarriage. A pox on both indeed.

A very thoughtful piece, well worth a read. Feel free to avoid comment.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:41 AM | What do you think? [0]

January 20, 2011

Deminted Thinking

Sen. Jim DeMint and Reps. Jim Jordan and Scott Garrett (all Republicans) penned an op-ed in The Washington Examiner on how to cut $2.5 trillion in spending over the next 10 years. Basically, this involves returning to 2006 spending level and implementing a "hard freeze" at that point.

Whether Americans realize it or not, we are all running together in a race against time. Unless Washington takes swift action to cut spending, we will chain our children to debt and rob them of opportunity to reach for the American Dream. On its own, passing the Spending Reduction Act will not get us over the finish line -- but we will get a $2.5 trillion head start.

First of all and with all due respect, given a $14 trillion debt, $2.5 trillion does not sound all that aggressive over 10 years. Yes, Federal receipts could grow to reduce the debt with an expanding economy and a flat budget. Maybe that will be enough.

More problematic, however, is that this proposal falls into the same old beltway trap. Do DeMint & Co. really believe that future Congresses would honor this spending discipline for 10 years? The Refugee finds that to be wishful thinking. Any 10 year projection regarding either fiscal savings or spending cuts is inherently crap. Moreover, this proposal does nothing to address the unfunded liabilities of entitlements such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid just as boomers enter retirement.

The Refugee would like to further point out that there is no such thing as a "finish line" unless these fine gentlemen are forecasting the end of our Republic or the disbanding of Congress. This is a never ending battle of "how much to spend and where to spend it." Fiscally responsible Congressmen cannot win this battle in the long term. As soon as the economy gives a hint of recovery and Federal revenues peek up, the Democrats and enough RINOs will vote to restore the "draconian cuts" - and up the ante - right before an election.

Although spending seems to be a problem, it is really a symptom. We cannot win the "where and how much" game until we solve the "how" game of goverment funding. Constitutional limits on spending, ending the entitlement money-grab and Constitutionally changing the way revenues are generated are the only ways to restore sanity to a Congressional spending system that inherently defies logic.

112th Congress Posted by Boulder Refugee at 5:52 PM | What do you think? [5]
But Keith Arnold thinks:

"Do DeMint & Co. really believe that future Congresses would honor this spending discipline for 10 years?

I am as pessimistic as you on this point, perhaps moreso. As long as spending, entitlements, and pork have the ability to buy votes, nothing is done about the temptation. To fix this, we ought to have:

(a) Constitutional limits on what things Washington can rightly spend public money on (and I believe we do, but those limits are disregarded);
(b) a voting public who understands basic lessons of civics, and are willing to swiftly vote transgressing pols out of office; and
(c) the understanding that rather than deciding all the things they want to spend money on and then seeing how much they have to raise taxes to accomplish that, government and the public understand that tax revenues are the allowance that we give our elected leaders to do our business, and out of that allowance, they can then decide where and how to spend it.

"Fiscally responsible Congressmen cannot win this battle in the long term."

Too true, at least not alone. It is not enough to defund Congress during this session. Unless it is codified, set in stone, and voters learn to permanently hold them to that or face the consequences, we will always be at risk of returning to the same mess we're in today.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at January 20, 2011 7:00 PM
But jk thinks:

I have got to step up as blog optimist, here.

I see my blog brothers making the perfect the enemy of the good. I'd love the 112th Freshmen to take some serious whacks at spending as much as anybody. In an email thread on the Christopher Beam piece in New York Magazine, I only-half-jokingly suggested a campaign to cut government in half. Have everybody agree that half of what the Feds do is not needed and get to arguing about which half.

But you know what I'd really really like to see? I'd like to see us cut one dollar. Not cut the rate of growth, but spend $1.00 less in FY2011 than FY2010.

We're turning a battleship around. The Captain and senior members of the crew want to keep going. Let's make the growth rate negative.

I think that would: augur well for the election of more tightwads in 2012; show the investment community that the US is worth investing in; and set the stage for popular, future cuts.

It would be huge. Everybody -- and I hear it all over -- who says that $50Billion, $100Billion, &c. is too small is setting up the angels for failure. One dollar -- anybody want to bet a dollar that they will?

Posted by: jk at January 20, 2011 8:05 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

OK, I'm with you as far as looking at this proposal as a short-term win and would be thrilled to see it enacted. You're correct that negative growth of government is going the right way. But, it would be a temporary win at best. Systemic change is needed and I would like to see that as part of DeMint's proposal.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at January 20, 2011 9:09 PM
But jk thinks:

Here's where the optimism kicks in. The $1 saving signals the capital markets that there's a new sheriff in town. Robust growth returns, raising revenues and causing a substantive reduction of debt.

Then, it kicks in like a teenager who enjoys having $200 in the bank. More responsible legislators can run on success and a virtuous cycle ensues.

This is all predicated on continuing tea party spirit. That's what makes this time different. I'm less enthused about Constitutional or rule changes. One article suggested it is not longer cool to brag about pork. That's our hope.

Posted by: jk at January 21, 2011 9:37 AM
But johngalt thinks:

How many $billions in cuts are necessary to reduce federal spending by $1 from last year? In the neighborhood of $200Bn. $2.5Tn over 10 years is $250Bn/year - JK's wish fulfilled.

I didn't like that entitlements weren't addressed. But jeez man, give them a chance! It's still the first month of the 112th. The rhetoric is good: "...a $2.5 trillion head start."

I look at it a bit differently. After these cuts don't result in the earth opening up and swallowing the nation's children wholesale it will be harder for demagogues to scare the public about future frugality.

Posted by: johngalt at January 21, 2011 8:39 PM

Bad Idea of the Day

The problem with the TEA party movement, is that they are very susceptible to crackpot alternative ideas, and will likely show enthusiasm for third party candidates as well. On that note, Donald Trump was on Kudlow last night and seems a well coiffed hair's length from becoming our generation's Ross Perot.

I know dozens of people who would go for GOOOH. Most all of them -- look at the issues in the video -- would be pulled away from supporting a Tea-party-limited-government-Republican. One can ask Senator Buck from Colorado or Senator O'Donnell from Delaware about successful "real people, citizen legislator" campaigns against professional political machines.

Secondarily, what will these folks believe? Will they all be as attached to border enforcement as the founder? Will they have a better feel for the Constitution? (No amendments? Binding future Congresses?) Will all 435 want to abolish the D of Ed?

Lastly. Umm, the Senate? Four hundred thirty five naifs (we sent Paul Ryan and Ron Paul home -- yipee!) against Chuck Schumer and Dick Lugar? I think there might be a President around, too.

He seeks to divert 500,000 informed citizens away from other limited government candidates -- I sure hope he does not get half.

Hat-tip (VodkaPundit) Stephen Green, who links approvingly.

Tea Party Posted by John Kranz at 5:04 PM | What do you think? [10]
But jk thinks:

I think the real flaw in your Gubernatorial candidacy is that everybody knows you're just using Sacramento as a stepping stone to the Presidency.

With all respect to Ace, I recommend Jimi P for a more serious look at State bankruptcies. It is an interesting -- and unfortunately germane -- legal question.

Posted by: jk at January 21, 2011 2:51 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

You have a point there - everyone knows that being governor of California is like being captain of the Titanic, and I'm not going down with this ship.

Is California "too big to fail"?

Posted by: Keith Arnold at January 21, 2011 3:08 PM
But jk thinks:

Well, we need you in Washington -- it's all good, but I think you have to be cagier: "It's the best job in the world to be Governor of , and it would be presumptuous of me to think of any other challenges to distract from the real problems right here in "

TBTF? Not in the 112th. Interesting times.

Posted by: jk at January 21, 2011 3:23 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I think you mean "not in the 111th" don't you? The 112th hasn't bailed anyone/anything out (yet.)

And bankruptcy isn't "failure" it's just a new beginning, full of "hope" and "change." [Gratuitous pun intended.]

I liked this Jimmy P line: "Would bankruptcy mean a radical reorganization of state government? Yes, that's the whole point."

Posted by: johngalt at January 23, 2011 1:46 PM
But jk thinks:

No. I am frequently in need of editing, but I meant that I exteded the 112th to hold firm. Could have been more artfully worded but I meant what I done sed.

Posted by: jk at January 24, 2011 11:19 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Ah yes, I get it now. I first read it that the 112th wouldn't let it fail.

Posted by: johngalt at January 24, 2011 11:46 AM

Jobs in CO-4 Destroyed by Obamacare ... Already

My new congressman voted to repeal Obamacare yesterday. He also rose to make some remarks on the matter.

Sorry to keep rubbing it in, JK. Maybe the 4th CD will include you after redistricting. Most likely not, however. You could always move a bit further east.

Honesty and Morality in Taxation

I didn't do so well in yesterday's effort to find a potent list of federal regulatory reforms for our ersatz "pro-business" president. Fortunately, blog brother JK was there to bail me out with the Armey/Kibbey article. But today I think I've done better.

Anyone who's been here more than a week knows that I believe taxation is moral issue, i.e. taking money from people against their will is theft, even if done by our "democratic" government. If I'm right, thinks I, then there's probably a high proportion of taxpayers who do whatever they can to lower their tax burden and consequently, limit how badly they are robbed.

This Freakonomics Quorum from 2009 includes some data related by University of Michigan economics professor Joel Slemrod:

About two-thirds of all underreporting of income happens on the individual income tax. Of that, business income -- as opposed to wages or investment income -- accounts for about two-thirds.


The I.R.S. estimates that the net misreporting rate is 53.9 percent, 8.5 percent, and 4.5 percent for income types subject to "little or no," "some," and "substantial" information reporting, respectively, and is just 1.2 percent for those amounts subject to both withholding and substantial information reporting.

So when taxpayers know they are being watched, they are honest, and when they know they are not, 53.9 percent of them are not. But how can this be? In the next paragraph Slemrod wrote, "In a recent survey, 96 percent of people mostly or completely agreed that 'It is every American’s civic duty to pay their fair share of taxes;'"

So 96 percent of us believe that paying "their fair share" is his duty but only 46 percent report all of the income that isn't traceable. Is there a better case to be made that roughly half of American taxpayers don't consider their tax rate to be representative of "their fair share?"

But Keith Arnold thinks:

Thought-provoking article, and an even more thought-provoking post. My contributions:

(1) 96% of people agreed that it is our civic duty to pay our fair share of taxes, but nearly half of Americans pay no income tax. Translation: at least half of America thinks it is everyone else's duty to pay their fair share of taxes, but not theirs.

(2) In light of your observation that "roughly half of American taxpayers don't consider their tax rate to be representative of 'their fair share'" and in tandem with point 1 above, the half that thinks their tax rate is too high is the half that is paying the taxes. Ergo, everyone actually paying taxes believe their taxes to be too high.

(3) We're all familiar with the respective levels of taxation of America, broken down by decile of income. I'd love to see that survey broken down by decile.

(4) Something not addressed is a discussion of how much of that underreporting is taking place in the margins of the shadow economy. This would appear to be more a function of the lower strata of our socioeconomic ladder, rather than the higher.

(5) None of the experts in the article propose as a solution simply doing away with the income tax system entirely, and relying instead on business taxes or a national sales/consumption tax.


Posted by: Keith Arnold at January 20, 2011 4:30 PM
But jk thinks:

Milton Friedman is correct that the real tax rate is the rate of government spending. Looked at that way, I think more would consider their taxes too high.

Yet perhaps Professor Reynolds's words may be more germane than any economist's. Even though Brother Keith's #5 will bring in more revenue, more fairly, with minimal compliance and maximum growth: "there isn't enough chance for graft."

Posted by: jk at January 20, 2011 6:11 PM

January 19, 2011

RIP Sharanskyism

Fouad Ajami saw -- for a short time -- the reincarnation of President George W Bush as Secretary Clinton. Neither Ajami nor I are holding out much hope.

Thus the word went forth to the despots in the region that the American campaign on behalf of liberty that Mr. Bush had launched in 2003 had been called off. A new Iraqi democracy, midwifed by American power, was fighting for its life. The Obama administration would keep Iraq at arm's length.
But an undeniable truth hovers over Lebanon: the ebb of American power. Five or six years ago, the Lebanese rebellion against Damascus had been emboldened by American power and protection. The "Cedar Revolution" that brought about the withdrawal of Syrian troops was both Lebanese and a child of the American presence and prestige in that country.

Without US leadership, that small flame of liberty has been extinguished. Sec Clinton may see it -- but I do not think her boss does.

Federal Regulatory Reform

President Obama issued an executive order yesterday that "requires Federal agencies to design cost-effective, evidence-based regulations that are compatible with economic growth, job creation, and competitiveness." This is not quite the "reform" language that was peddled in the press but that is ostensibly the goal: Start to get government out of the way of private sector job growth, at least a little bit.

On the same day, Politico reported that Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA), incoming chairman of the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee, sought input from the private sector on what sorts of reforms would be helpful. This led to predictable outrage at HuffPo that Issa intends to mount a "purely partisan crusade" aimed at "protecting big corporations instead of creating middle class jobs." As if it is inconceivable that private sector job growth is the purview of corporations and trade associations.

I found this story while searching for reform ideas. Since I didn't find any I will start, as a public service, a group-sourced list of suggested reforms. My first entries are as follows. Please pile on in the comments.

- Abolish the federal minimum wage.

- Abort EPA efforts to regulate CO2 emissions.

- Eliminate all federal mandates for health insurance coverage and eliminate any federal restrictions on writing policies across state lines.

- Eliminate oil and gas severance taxes and expedite leases on so-called "public" lands outside of the National Parks system.

But jk thinks:

JG just wants practical, common-sense initiatives that can attract broad public and bipartisan legislative support. That's why he starts his list with "Abolish the federal minimum wage."

It's his world, he only lets us live in it...

Posted by: jk at January 20, 2011 3:36 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I forgot to mention that the minimum wage elimination idea was dagny's. I thought it was so good though I put it first on the list.

Here's my repeal the minimum wage 'elevator talk.' "You did say you wanted to stimulate job growth, right? Well, the federal minimum wage law lowers employment by outlawing low-wage jobs. It also makes everything more expensive, driving up everyone's cost of living. And most people being paid minimum wage are entry level workers, typically kids, who would have more jobs to choose from without the minimum wage. So let's try getting rid of it and see how it goes, OK?"

Posted by: johngalt at January 20, 2011 4:02 PM
But jk thinks:

Yeah, sorry for the snark. But your talk appeals to the people who scored 66%+ on the civics quiz, and do not watch sitcoms.

On the way down, the person you educated will hear: "They want to let greedy corporations exploit poor people and pay them $1 an hour! -- Do you want to work for one dollar an hour?????"

Posted by: jk at January 20, 2011 4:24 PM
But johngalt thinks:

OK, I'll try again.

"Americans at every career stage, from entry level to expert, are finding jobs to be scarce. When new jobs as police officers or WalMart greeters are advertised the applicants for those few jobs stand in lines that stretch around the block. Througout American history, corporations and entrepreneurs have hired people because they could make more money from employees' output than they had to pay in wages, benefits and taxes. But in many jobs today this is no longer the case, and the minimum wage law is one big reason. Repealing it will result in more jobs for those people standing in line."

And for those who believe government is great and corporations are "evil" I ask, "How many jobs can government create without corporations to tax? And how many corporations rely upon taxing the government to create their jobs?

Posted by: johngalt at January 23, 2011 11:48 AM
But jk thinks:

I'm glad you're still on it. I think it's important.

John Stossel talked about minimum wage in his "unintended consequences" special. He quoted a Pew poll that said 86% of Americans supported the recent raise. I looked a little for a link but did not find it.

I think you'll find it's up there if not that high. Your argument is solid, airtight, accurate, and compelling. But you will never win. The hope is to keep it so small that it does little damage.

Posted by: jk at January 24, 2011 11:28 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Yours is the safe bet. But dagny's suggestion and my defense are meant to swing a pendulum the other way more than achieve a policy goal in the current congress. Rome wasn't built (or destroyed) in 2 years.

Posted by: johngalt at January 24, 2011 11:50 AM

The "New Tone" of the Left

Joe Lieberman announced his intention to retire from the Senate at the end of his current term. Slate's Emily Bazelon shows her newfound respectful approach with political foes in Good Riddance, Joe Lieberman - Why I Loathe My Connecticut Senator.

"Why do I loathe, loathe, loathe my 68-year-old four-term senator? My feelings are all the stronger for being fairly irrational."

Geez, they even wear their irrationality on their sleeve, like a badge of ... something.

Not much more is worth quoting but she uses the terms "hate" and "failed to bury" and "kill the Democrats' proposal." She described a Connecticut cocktail party game called, "I hated Joe Lieberman before you hated Joe Lieberman." But what really, really chapped her, um, hide, was when Joe did something good.

"And then, most infuriating of all, Lieberman ended the last Congress by doing something good. He resurrected the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" in the Senate last month."
Tough room indeed.

January 18, 2011

Now He Thinks He's Taranto


House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) acknowledged Tuesday that his party has not succeeded in selling the public on the benefits of the national health care overhaul, noting that polls indicate that opinion remains divided on the law.

"Apparently, none of us did a good enough job," Hoyer, the number-two House Democrat, said at his weekly pen-and-pad briefing when asked whether the White House had succeeded in selling one of its signature legislative agenda items.

If only they had a rilly rilly good speaker in the White House. Then, he could have made a few rilly rilly good speeches.

It boggles the mind that they still blame the packaging. But that is not why I excerpted. I just thought ThreeSourcers would enjoy the phrase "House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer."

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 4:58 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

Heh. Heh heh. Heh heh heh. Yes, THANK you.

Posted by: johngalt at January 18, 2011 7:37 PM
But johngalt thinks:

After clicking through...

Hoyer did more than just blame the packaging, he blamed "angry" and "disrespectful" rhetoric from Obamacare opponents. And even tied it to the Gabrielle Giffords shooting by saying "This is unrelated to Arizona, but certainly Arizona has brought this into focus." WTF?

Sure Congressman Hoyer, the job you did in "selling" Obamacare to the public wasn't as good as that of its opponents. Its unpopularity couldn't possibly be related to it being a bad idea in the first place.

Posted by: johngalt at January 18, 2011 7:49 PM

Who is "Responsible" for the Tucson Shooter?

(This is not a court of law, so I need not include the superfluous term "alleged.")

From Atlas Shrugged, Part III, Chapter 7 - "This is John Galt Speaking"

"Man's life is the standard of morality, but your own life is its purpose. If existence on earth is your goal, you must choose your actions and values by the standard of that which is proper to man -- for the purpose of preserving, fulfilling and enjoying the irreplaceable value which is your life."

Like the mysticism of fundamentalist Islam teaches the Jihadi, one of the western mysticisms taught a young Jared Loughner that his life on earth is not of value to him, that existence on earth should not be his goal, or that such an existence does not depend on his choice of actions. He was not prepared to live a happy and prosperous life. He was "a metaphysical monstrosity."

"Since life requires a specific course of action, any other course will destroy it. A being who does not hold his own life as the motive and goal of his actions, is acting on the motive and standard of death. Such a being is a metaphysical monstrosity, struggling to oppose, negate and contradict the fact of his own existence, running blindly amuck on a trail of destruction, capable of nothing but pain."

Why is it so common to find a man who is depressed and confused and desperate to discover some "meaning" for his life? Because those who purport to give him that meaning do nothing of the sort. Whether the self-described "moralists" tell man that he needs no morality or that self-sacrifice is morality's greatest virtue, they do so in contradiction with reality. When man's rational faculty attempts to resolve this contradiction it must either abandon faith, abandon reason, or self-destruct.

But jk thinks:


Posted by: jk at January 18, 2011 5:03 PM

Otequay of the Ayday

No Good TV's Carrie Keagan on FNC's 'Red Eye' program this morning, discussing efforts to permit women in combat roles in the U.S. military:

"I mean, there really shouldn't be any difference between a man and a woman, but there is."

UPDATE: Corrected to the exact wording: There "really shouldn't be" instead of "is really no reason for there to be..."

Quote of the Day

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act was a political overreaction to the 2002 scandals. It did nothing to prevent the financial crisis of 2007-2009. So we now have a similar overreaction in the Dodd-Frank Act, which I call the "Faith in Bureaucracy Act." The vast bureaucratic outpouring it commands will generate excessive cost and damage to U.S. competitiveness. -- Alex Pollock
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

If The Refugee might quote Rev. Wright, "America's chickenssssss are coming home to roosssssst."

The cost and risk of doing business in the US is now driving financial transactions offshore. As evidence, Goldman Sachs will offer shares in Facebook only to foreign investors in order to avoid possible SEC litigation. From the NYT:

"So given the low risks even with rescission, why did Goldman blink? The S.E.C. is under tremendous pressure these days to look relevant, and Goldman in particular does not want another clash given its reputation these days. The risk here was really that the SEC actually brought a case whether or not it succeeded. And Facebook likely does not want anything to mess up its own possible initial public offering.

That the issue here was the threat of litigation rather than its success is evidenced by Goldman’s decision to limit the offering to only foreign investors."

Link: http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2011/01/18/why-did-goldman-blink/?partner=rss&emc=rss

If Congress or the SEC decide to close this "loophole" it will simply drive the transactions to entirely foreign entities, including investment banks and investors. Way to go, bureaucrats.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at January 18, 2011 12:53 PM

January 17, 2011

Elected Officials are Idiots

If you believe the results of a study that included this quiz by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute.

Of the sample size, [over 2500 adults] 164 identified themselves as having been successfully elected to government office -- whether federal, state or local positions -- but the subset performed even poorer than the national average on questions about the government.

"Overall, the average score for officeholders on the civic literacy test was 44 percent, compared to 49 percent for those who have not held an elected office." I scored 91 percent without even being careful.

But jk thinks:


Posted by: jk at January 17, 2011 6:06 PM
But dagny thinks:

I think we have a lot of very bright people around here. I am on the slow end for 3 Sources and admit that I scored in the mid-80's. This kind of stuff (along with Jay Leno's jaywalking segment) makes me fear for the education of my children. 44 or 49 percent average????

I retained 80% of the information from a 30-year-old education. Are they teaching ANY of this in schools today???

Posted by: dagny at January 17, 2011 9:24 PM
But jk thinks:

I know you too well to accept your self-effacement.

I don't think they are. I surreptitiously test my nieces and nephews who are bright (and pretty and generous and charming...) -- seriously, some bright, good students. I can't quiz them directly but I prod on the side and no, they are not being taught this.

I'd suggest that I learned more than half of it after school. I would not have scored 50% on graduation day.

Posted by: jk at January 18, 2011 9:14 AM
But Terri thinks:

93.94% - I do like it when I feel smart. AND I know my home schooled nieces/nephews will not be learning most of this. (at one point a 12 year old niece had no idea who Lincoln was) (Thank you Nebraska nonexistent rules on home schooling! Ugh)

My privately schooled niece and nephew do know or will know these answers as they get older. They look at learning as if it were fun and not a chore.

Posted by: Terri at January 18, 2011 10:20 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Perhaps "idiots" is too strong. How about, Elected Officials are Below-Average?

Posted by: johngalt at January 18, 2011 3:17 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Not to brag too much, but I missed only one question. And I blogged that it's iffy.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at January 19, 2011 11:15 AM

The F-Word

I think ThreeSourcers would enjoy Ed Driscoll's "Left Wing Creationism." He links and excerpts a NY Observer review:

Mr. Mnookin was discussing pediatric health with a new parent in his early 40s who explained that he and his wife had decided to delay their child's vaccines. On what sources had he based this weighty decision? Questions along these lines were met with murk. "I don't know what to say," the man replied. "It just feels like a lot for a developing immune system to deal with."

It was this F-word--feels--that left Mr. Mnookin justifiably gobsmacked, and it serves as the departure point for The Panic Virus, an attempt to explain how thousands of otherwise sophisticated Americans could make a fatuous decision to opt out of what is arguably modernity's greatest medical achievement. Most children "exempted" from vaccines (a fittingly ridiculous term, as if the kids place out via AP exam) are not low-information progeny.

Driscoll goes on to suggest that some on the left take an anti-scientific position on climate, including a photo that's worth a click.

But johngalt thinks:

I'm glad to read that others are saying it too: "Science" is destroying the credibility of the scientific method.

He doesn't offer a motive (other than "to advance an agenda.") I will - to advance a philosophy of Relativism in the public sphere. This is a necessary component of the mysticism known as "societal good."

Posted by: johngalt at January 17, 2011 2:14 PM

January 16, 2011

The "TEA Movement" is More Popular Than a "Big-Tent"

Comity? Who needs comity?

Jared Rhoads of The Lucidicus Project (Helping medical students understand free markets) agrees with me (and Robert Tracinski) that limited government is not merely a practical issue, but a moral one.

I used to think that Republicans did stand for individual rights on principle, but that they shied away from moral arguments because they deemed it better public relations to be "big-tent," inclusive, neutral. Well, over the past two years, the Tea movement has demonstrated that pro-individualist moral sentiments are popular and effective. We are still waiting for the Republicans to catch up.

What is holding them back? As writer Craig Biddle explains in a recent article in The Objective Standard, Republicans face a self-imposed obstacle in their effort to limit government to its proper functions: they still believe that being moral consists of sacrificing oneself for the needs of others.

Imagine approaching your moderate Republican Congressperson and making the case for cutting government based on the morality of individual rights. He may smile and nod in agreement, but as Biddle indicates, there is conflict churning in his head:

•Repeal Obamacare? How can we do that if the right thing to do is to sacrifice for others? People need medical care, and Obamacare will provide it by forcing everyone to sacrifice as he should.

•Phase out Medicare? How can we do that if we are morally obliged to provide for the needy? The elderly need medical care, and Medicare provides it by forcing everyone to pony up.

•Phase out Social Security? How can we do that if, as the bible tells us, we are our brother's keeper? The elderly need money for retirement, and Social Security provides it by forcing everyone to do the right thing.

The only proper purpose of government is to protect individual rights. It is not to oversee our healthcare, help us be charitable, or assist with our retirement planning. There is no way to roll back Obamacare or other government encroachments without recognizing this fact and stating it openly on the floors of the House and Senate.

The next time we circulate a petition, let's tell the supporters of Obamacare that what they have done is not simply impractical, unfair, or too expensive. Let's tell them it is wrong.

January 14, 2011

Atlas Shrugged Video Contest Winners

Yaron Brook and John Stossel handed out the check on this show last night (I'm, of course, yelling at the TV: "MAKE HIM SHARE THE PRIZE WITH #2!!!")


The top three are all worth a watch.

Waste? What Waste?

From the Sacramento Bee:

New Gov. Jerry Brown today ordered the collection and return of 48,000 state government-paid cell phones - half of those now in use - by June 1.

The Democratic governor estimated that cutting the use of cellphones by state employees in half will save the state $20 million a year.

"It is difficult for me to believe that 40 percent of all state employees must be equipped with taxpayer-funded cell phones," Brown said in a written statement.

But remember, there is no waste to be cut. < /sarcasm >

Government Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 12:13 PM | What do you think? [1]
But Keith Arnold thinks:

According to http://www.sco.ca.gov/ppsd_empinfo_demo.html there are nearly a quarter million California state employees. It is difficult for me to believe that we have a bureaucracy that bloated and the cellular phones are the most significant waste they can find.

I find it difficult to believe it takes that many civil service slugs to keep this state functioning (such as it is, I mean).

I find it difficult to believe that we put this toad back in the Governor's Mansion.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at January 14, 2011 12:27 PM

Too Tough a Room

The whining continues unabated.

The Republicans have been in charge of one house for a couple weeks and there is still a deficit? Yeah, I know they took one of those weeks off for the memorial. But still...

I groused a little when Reason did it but that seemed par for their course.

John Stossel's weekly column and title of last night's show is "Same as the Old Boss." He ridiculed Speaker Boehner and beat up a couple GOP Congressmen.

Today Kevin Williamson at NRO is on the prowl.

Republican Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas has proposed some reductions in federal outlays -- hoorah! -- that amount to . . . not much: about $44 billion in the next fiscal year, and about $156 billion over the next five years. Okay, fine, do it: Go ahead and cut foreign aid and the Robert Byrd memorial scholarship, and collect those billions in unpaid taxes from federal workers. That, along with some military-spending cuts, covers, oh, about 1 percent of the expected 2011 spending. Which is to say, Brady-s bill eliminates in one year about half of the national debt the geniuses in Washington piled upon us in the month of December alone.

I know we would all like some bold cuts. But the blog pragmatist is concerned that the perfect will be the enemy of the good. If the libertarians and tea partiers are disappointed with anything less than a return to 1880, it will play into the hands of collectivists, either with third party challenges or just general disillusionment (cf 2006, 2008).

112th Congress Posted by John Kranz at 11:51 AM | What do you think? [0]

"Green Job" Flight

In President Obama's first year in office there was a major push to create "green jobs" in the U.S. In October of that year his Commerce Secretary said, "Building a green economy isn't going to be easy, but if government and businesses work together, America can and will be a world leader in clean energy."

Oops. Evergreen Solar to Shut Down U.S. Manufacturing, Move to China

CEO Michael El-Hillow commented: "While overall demand for solar may increase, we expect that significant capacity expansions in low cost manufacturing regions combined with potential adverse changes in government subsidies in several markets in Europe will likely result in continuing pressure on selling prices throughout 2011. Solar manufacturers in China have received considerable government and financial support and, together with their low manufacturing costs, have become price leaders within the industry. While the United States and other western industrial economies are beneficiaries of rapidly declining installation costs of solar energy, we expect the United States will continue to be at a disadvantage from a manufacturing standpoint."

"Low cost manufacturing regions..." and their "low manufacturing costs" put the U.S. at a "disadvantage from a manufacturing standpoint." Perhaps there are forces at work here other than generous government subsidies for preferred sectors. Maybe it's just too damned expensive to hire employees in the U.S.

“These new numbers show that even though global wage differentials are narrowing, policy-induced costs in the United States, especially corporate taxes, continue to undermine manufacturers’ ability to compete with our largest trading partners,” Duesterberg said.
But Keith Arnold thinks:

So, our government is borrowing massive amounts of money from China, which we're using to subsidize "green economy" jobs, and the companies offering those jobs are moving their production (and those job openings) to China. We're paying interest on the borrowed money to facilitate China expanding their own industrial base.

I'm not certain how this is supposed to work, but I've got a pretty good suspicion it ends with:

"3 - Profit!"

Posted by: Keith Arnold at January 14, 2011 12:20 PM

January 13, 2011

I'd Get a New Tag Line...

Just sayin...


UPDATE: On the other hand...


Should Have Waited for Double Dog Dare...

Ed Driscoll points out that "already, people are forgetting the important advice they learned from A Christmas Story."

The Woodward Fire Department was called around 7:30 a.m. Tuesday after a teacher called to report that an 8-year-old boy's tongue was stuck on a pole.

Officials said when fire crews arrived, they saw the boy standing on his tiptoes, trying to wriggle his frozen tongue free from a stop sign pole across the street from Woodward Middle School.

Paramedics were able to help the boy by pouring water on his tongue. Once free, the boy told officials he got stuck after his brother dared him to lick the pole.

I must confess, I am starting to enjoy The PJ Tatler.

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 7:37 PM | What do you think? [1]
But Keith Arnold thinks:

In other breaking news, just down the street, another kid forgot the other important advice from that movie, and narrowly avoided shooting his eye out.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at January 13, 2011 8:24 PM

Quote of the Day

The logic here may be even harder to follow than the reasoning that links the Tucson murders to Sarah Palin. A man bent on assassinating a member of Congress, a man who thinks nothing of gunning down a 9-year-old girl, is not likely to have compunctions about carrying a firearm without a permit.-- Jacob Sullum
Gun Rights Posted by John Kranz at 4:14 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Like the quote, but I thought it charitable to call him a "man." (I consider a being that is capable of his acts to be sub-human.) Then I thought it should read "maniac" or "irrational man." Then I imagined being asked if I "know for a fact" that he's irrational. I suppose I do, at least as much as I "know" he's a man.

Posted by: johngalt at January 13, 2011 4:28 PM

Two Wings of the Same Bird of Prey

How may a nation, "conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal" long endure when it is afflicted with a moral code such as this:

Part III, Chapter 7 - "This is John Galt Speaking"

"You have heard no concepts of morality but the mystical or the social. You have been taught that morality is a code of behavior imposed on you by whim, the whim of a supernatural power or the whim of society, to serve God's purpose or your neighbor's welfare, to please an authority beyond the grave or else next door -- but not to serve your life or pleasure. Your pleasure, you have been taught, is to be found in immorality, your interests would best be served by evil, and any moral code must be designed not for you, but against you, not to further your life, but to drain it."

Did Somebody say "Christie 2012?"

WSJ Ed Page: Say No to Us!

"Say no to us in terms of more money," said Mr. Christie. "We've got to walk the walk as Republicans . . . and now that we've got 29 Republican Governors, we shouldn't be lining up with our hands out saying, 'We know what we said, but come on, give us a little help here.'" It isn't every day that a politician asks that someone not send him money.

2012 Posted by John Kranz at 11:54 AM | What do you think? [0]

January 12, 2011


Jonathan V. Last finds a different angle to the Tucson shooting story:

So President Obama seems to have honed in on how the executive branch is supposed to respond to local crises--which is great! His answer: Dispatch FBI Director Robert Mueller to Arizona and force him to stand around as a prop and then . . . wait for it . . . have the FBI set up a dedicated task force on the case involving "hundreds of FBI agents."

That's right--we need to tie down "hundreds of FBI" agents into an investigation where the bad guy is already caught, he almost certainly worked alone, was part of no network or larger conspiracy, and is, if not legally guilty, then certainly responsible for having committed the crimes.

Man's got a point. He continues "Guess we don't have to worry about jihadis anymore!"

But jk thinks:

Whaddaya expect from those left wing goofballs on FOX? Shameless apologists for the Obama agenda every one. The WSJ Ed Page was similarly kind, leading me to suspect that it was written from advance text and filed before they saw "Wellstone-squared."

I thought the speech okay and don't know how much to hold him responsible for the crowd. Like you, I think the best speech is to celebrate the fallen and stiffly affirm that we do not let whackos ('scuse me, alleged whackos) define our national debate. But that's my take, not the President's.

Posted by: jk at January 13, 2011 3:10 PM
But Lisa M thinks:

My cousin was a firefighter who died in the North Tower on 9/11. I was struck by the contrast between his memorial service and the pep rally I witnessed on Wednesday. Right from the very start, the tone was all wrong: the tee shirt, the hooting and hollering, the hippy dippy Native American and his loopy meandering speech. And while it's not quite fair to blame Obama for the crowd reaction; there are those who recall that Ronald Reagan could control a crowd and set the tone with a strategically placed pause, inflection or look.

I think a meme went out to all the conservatives to be graciosu to Obama lest they take a hit on their sniping about the funeral The speech itself was alright--it wasn't fabulous, but it was about the best and most gracious we could expect from this president, considering he let his minions run loose for a week before slapping them--gently--on the wrist. It reminded me of when my sister and I would fight when we were kids and my mother would break it up and punish us both equally. When one of us would protest, "But she started it!" my mother would say "I don't care who started it, you are both punished." It was the height of injustice when I was 8; this feels the same way.

Finally, I am disappointed but not surprised that this tragedy, as with all major events in this country, are viewed primarily through the prism of "How does this affect Obama? How does this reflect on Obama? Has he gotten his mojo back?"

Posted by: Lisa M at January 14, 2011 7:36 AM
But jk thinks:

You endured more than me. I have it on TiVo if I want to go back and relive the glory. Or not.

I think we may be being a little hard on the President. Nope, he ain't Reagan -- but the crowd was out of hand when he took the podium and he did not throw them red meat. That's pretty good.

Posted by: jk at January 14, 2011 10:42 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I think LM's closer to the mark on this one. If he'd wanted it to be solemn he could have had his way.

I just read the transcript of the speech and it has a different feel when I read it than what I felt listening to the president. I need to watch it again. I too have it DVRed. Ironically, it was scheduled to be recording "Human Target."

Posted by: johngalt at January 14, 2011 11:48 AM
But jk thinks:

I think mine says "The Simpsons..."

Posted by: jk at January 14, 2011 11:51 AM
But Lisa M thinks:

It was a memorial service and I agree with jg---if the White House wnated it solemn, they would not have created a pep rally atmosphere to begin with. I mean, t-shirts? Seriously? On what occasion does one wear a t-shirt commemorating the memorial service for a massacre?

jk, even you are damning with faint praise when you say that it's pretty good that he didn't throw them red meat. While I heartily agree with this sentiment, doesn't it speak volumes for how low ourexpectations have become with this president?

Posted by: Lisa M at January 15, 2011 8:14 AM

The Strike of the Human Mind

The final entry of 2010 told us why we have an ongoing world economic disaster. The new year begins with a description of "the strike." Part III, Chapter 7 - "This is John Galt Speaking"

We are on strike, we, the men of the mind.

"We are on strike against self-immolation. We are on strike against the creed of unearned rewards and unrewarded duties. We are on strike against the dogma that the pursuit of one's happiness is evil. We are on strike against the doctrine that life is guilt.

"There is a difference between our strike and all those you've practiced for centuries: our strike consists, not of making demands, but of granting them. We are evil, according to your morality. We have chosen not to harm you any longer. We are useless, according to your economics. We have chosen not to exploit you any longer. We are dangerous and to be shackled, according to your politics. We have chosen not to endanger you, nor to wear the shackles any longer. We are only an illusion, according to your philosophy. We have chosen not to blind you any longer and have left you free to face reality -- the reality you wanted, the world as you see it now, a world without mind.

"We have granted you everything you demanded of us, we who had always been the givers, but have only now understood it. We have no demands to present to you, no terms to bargain about, no compromise to reach. You have nothing to offer us. We do not need you.

[Italics in original]

Brown Energy

One for my brothers: 'Brown' Energy Brings Prosperity

Quick--which state produces more oil: Alaska or California? That’s easy. Alaska, du-uh. And that's wrong. California passed Alaska in daily oil production in June last year (561,000 bbls per day for CA; 533,000 bbls per day for AK).

But Alaska and California are both restricting extraction, sending the prosperity to...North Dakota.

But johngalt thinks:

Many thanks! I hadn't seen this. That mention of the "strangely" named 'National Petroleum Reserve' is inspiring:

"Gosh, I'm sure glad we've set aside a national reserve for petroleum. Imagine if our great-grandchildren were never able to know what wild crude oil was like in its native habitat!"

Posted by: johngalt at January 12, 2011 2:30 PM

January 11, 2011

I thought I was hearing things

I heard this on FOXNews Sunday. When I went to blog, I thought I might have misheard -- and I did not want to add the violent, hate filled rhetoric that poisons our political discourse. But CATO's Gene Healy heard it too. Congressman James Clyburn's take away from the horrific tragedy in Tucson is that he should not have to stand in the airport security line with the hoi polloi he represents.

For his part, Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., called for beefed-up congressional security and special treatment by the Transportation Security Administration at airports (currently available only to top congressional officials, like the speaker). Clyburn complained that "we've had some incidents where TSA authorities think that congresspeople should be treated like everybody else" -- easily the most positive news I've heard about the TSA since its inception. Flexibility is in order here, Clyburn argued, because Congress is "held to a higher standard in so many areas."

Airports are "where we feel the most ill at ease," Clyburn stated, without explaining why congresspeople would feel especially threatened in areas where they're surrounded by security officials already on the lookout for hidden weapons.

What a fine American Rep. Clyburn is. I wish nothing but the kindest regards for him for this extremely helpful suggestion.

But Keith Arnold thinks:

Congress is "held to a higher standard in so many areas."

Held to a higher standard in precisely what way: morally? Ethically? Legally? And which members of Congress are we talking about? They set the bar any lower, they're going to trip over it.

Current administration notwithstanding, I'd venture a guess that Congressional shenanigans are overall more pervasive than they are among Presidents. I have no desire to see any more members of Congress shot (without the due process of law), but I find myself wondering whether Mr. Clyburn has a reason to fear the hoi polloi, or if it's his allergy to chicken feathers, roofing tar, and fence rails that is prompting this.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at January 11, 2011 6:24 PM

It's The Recession's Fault

How can you not go crazy and kill a bunch of people when you come from a land of such deprivation (CAUTION: horrific images). WaPo

This was the dream - a quiet and peaceful block tucked within the suburban sprawl of northwest Tucson. It drew working-class settlers over the past 15 years in search of a fresh start. A construction worker came because there were thousands of kitchens to remodel. An aircraft mechanic came for the sunshine. A nursing home worker came because everything was cheap - land, gas, groceries.

But now, recession-ravaged North Soledad Avenue is on the decline. The street's asphalt is cracked. One man's three-tier plaster fountain has run dry. In another yard, an inflatable Santa sits, out of air.

I think the Santa thing is a metaphor of some type. Not sure about the three tier plaster fountain...

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

Quote of the Day

Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik suggests Arizona has "become the mecca for prejudice and bigotry."

Jonathan Last counters:

Umm, isn't Mecca kind of the mecca for prejudice and bigotry? I mean, Mecca won't even allow non-Muslims inside the Mecca city limits. They have road blocks and religious police on the lookout for intruders and everything. Just saying.

Word of the Day

Minatory -- menacing or threatening
Use it in an essay: Claire Berlinski
Posted by John Kranz at 11:18 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

The situation in Pakistan and the rest of the fundamentalist Islamic world is indeed minatory. A government official there was assassinated by one of his supposed protectors, not just by some disaffected nut-job. And the Pakistani murderer's defense will be "religious belief" while the Arizona murderer's will only be "insanity."

What's the difference, exactly? (OK, I won't leave this one vague. I'm asking for the difference in legal defenses against what should objectively be indefensible, not the difference between religion and insanity.)

Posted by: johngalt at January 11, 2011 3:04 PM

January 10, 2011

Central Casting

jared_loughner.jpg I thought the alleged Tuscon shooter, Jared Laughner, was something of a kook. But looking at his picture...
Posted by John Kranz at 6:53 PM | What do you think? [10]
But jk thinks:

Not sure where this is going, man, but I don't know. Do you?

Posted by: jk at January 11, 2011 11:36 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Just a commentary on the vanishing nature of an objective reality in society.

Posted by: johngalt at January 11, 2011 12:25 PM
But johngalt thinks:

A good analogy is, "Is it still a lie if nobody notices?"

Our "friend" Mr. Laurence, who ascribes the power of "measuring into existence" the crime of illegally crossing our national border upon the nearest federal judge is but one of those willing to confer this mystical power upon another citizen who, in every other respect, is no different from himself. It is a deification of the judiciary in particular and state power in general. And it pisses me off. (If you hadn't noticed.)

Posted by: johngalt at January 11, 2011 12:36 PM
But jk thinks:

And I guess I am queasy that you object to presumption of innocence as a legal concept for an American citizen. I dug in a little: you know for a fact that this guy is guilty? I'm willing to call him the alleged shooter until conviction.

Looking at the picture brings a favorite movie moment. Have you seen "Hoodwinked?" The police (pigs of course) are told "you can't just lock a guy up for being creepy!" He gets on the phone and says "you know that that one guy we're holding? That creepy one? You better let him go."

Posted by: jk at January 11, 2011 1:29 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Well, I guess if something like a moon landing can be faked then it's also possible that the man several eyewitnesses tackled and held until authorities arrived might also be framed.

But you're right - a lynch mob is not the answer. An objective trial of the facts is. Let's hope we see one.

Please forgive me. I'm trying to use this case as an example of how relativism is used to defend the indefensible. I'm kinda winging it and it might not yet be an airtight argument.

Posted by: johngalt at January 11, 2011 2:44 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Consider the reverse:

Was a person who did in fact commit a crime never guilty if a judge (or jury) declares him innocent?

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at January 12, 2011 6:14 PM

Castle Renewed

Caleb, Captain Mal, I mean Nathan Fillion seems to have finally found a show with staying power.

ABC kicked off its portion of the Television Critics Association midseason press tour by breaking a little news: The network has officially renewed six series -- Grey's Anatomy, Private Practice, Castle, Modern Family, The Middle and Cougar Town -- through next season.

Don't think it was much in question; he has a hit on his hands. If anybody does not watch Castle, I would advise you to try it. It may not be Buffy-good or Firefly-good, but it is a very good show.

Television Posted by John Kranz at 3:32 PM | What do you think? [0]

SIgn Me Up

Jason Richwine calls Liberty Air a thought experiment. I wish it were a business plan.

Let us imagine there were a major airline that could opt out of all TSA regulations. Call it "Liberty Air." Liberty Air openly advertises that it takes zero safety precautions when it comes to screening passengers and baggage. Would you fly on this airline?

The upside to Liberty Air's approach is a far more pleasant airport experience. Liberty Air has no metal detectors, so there are no long lines after you get your ticket. Get to the airport ten minutes before take-off, not two hours. Pack whatever you want in your carry-on, including "dangerous" liquids, disposable razors, a hunting knife, whatever. If you have a laptop, don't worry about taking it out of its case. Wearing a metal belt buckle? Have a lot of keys? Don't want your Blackberry to leave your sight? No problem. You won't have to juggle your boarding pass, your driver's license, your cell phone, and your laptop. No need to take off your shoes. Don’t feel hassled to collect all your belongings pouring out of the X-ray machine--there is no X-ray machine!

Richwine does not address the negative externality of a terrorist flying a plane into a building or nookyular plant, but I think we could figure it out.

To seriously return to the thought experiment, I relate it to the FDA. No rational person would advocate such an overly conservative approach to drug approvals, but that is the bias of the organization and oversight. Same with the TSA.

But johngalt thinks:

The larger problem is the negative externality of the existence of our federal government. We're lucky they still let us leave the airport to continue our travels in the "much more dangerous" automobile.

Posted by: johngalt at January 10, 2011 3:37 PM

Some Civil Political Discourse for Y'all

My blog brother has ably and aptly illuminated the folly of those using the Arizona tragedy to curtail gun rights. I am equally (okay, more) concerned about free speech.

My buddies at the WSJ Ed Page shut this down effectively from an intellectual standpoint:

Ponder the implication of this. A deranged soul shoots a public figure and we are supposed to change our political discourse and rule certain people and opinions out of bounds based on whatever incoherent ramblings Mr. Loughner published on his website?

Every two years we hold elections so that sane Americans can make a judgment on the policies of President Obama, John Boehner, tea party candidates and so on. But even though the people have recently had their say, in a typically raucous but entirely nonviolent fashion, we are supposed to put that aside and assess what a murderer with a mental illness has to tell us about the state of American politics, government and our national dialogue.

This line of argument is itself an attack on democratic discourse, and it is amazing that it even needs to be rebutted. Taking such an argument seriously will only encourage more crazy people to believe they can trigger a national soul-searching if they shoot at a political target. We should denounce the murders and the murderer, rather than doing him the honor of suggesting that his violence flows in any explainable fashion from democratic debate.

But I am imputing reason on the other side of this debate, which might be unwise. I received a link last night from a person I barely know to an article on "Return to Civil Discourse."

With apologies to Mister Twain, the truth of a disturbed and irrational assailant is pulling its pants up; the lie spreading around the world is that we need to reform our rhetoric. That is, we need to put the rhetoric police in charge of what we may or may not say. After all, children could be hurt.

Representative Bob Brady of Pennsylvania told The Caucus he plans to introduce a bill that would ban symbols like that now-infamous campaign crosshair map.

"You can't threaten the president with a bullseye or a crosshair," Mr. Brady, a Democrat, said, and his measure would make it a crime to do so to a member of Congress or federal employee, as well.

Asked if he believed the map incited the gunman in Tucson, he replied, "I don't know what's in that nut's head. I would rather be safe than sorry."

And I'd rather be free than not. Thanks, Congressman.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 11:03 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Would that mean I'd have to give up my cardboard pistol targets imprinted with the images of Obama or a TSA agent too?

But seriously, the nascent "return to civil discourse" movement that includes the "No Labels" babblers reminds me of the case of the Jefferson County (CO) school board member who, as the sole conservative on the board, unadvisedly agreed to a rule prohibiting board members from publicly opposing the "consensus" of the board as a whole. When she tried to publicize her reasoning for disagreement with a particular board decision she was censured.

This, and the Rep. Brady story are examples of the fact that free speech is inherently anti-consensus. I, too, choose freedom of speech over civility. Here are a pair of relevant sayings:

"If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen."

"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me."

Lastly, the WSJ dismisses the notion that we "rule certain people and opinions out of bounds" based on a murder's incoherent ramblings. Fair enough, but in this case we're being asked to do so regardless, or even in spite of those ramblings - merely because certain politicians were "targeted" by a political action committee (ostensibly for political action) and one of them happened to be the party of interest for a deranged stalker, since at least 2007. Those dots aren't even on the same page, much less connectable.

Posted by: johngalt at January 10, 2011 3:33 PM

January 9, 2011

"America's Gun Culture," Driven by TEA Partiers, "Claims It's Latest Victims"

It was predictable that frustrated gun-grabbers would leap at the opportunity to villify handguns provided by the tragic shooting of Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and numerous bystanders yesterday. But they're making it a two-fer by blaming the TEA Party movement at the same time. The first such conclusive leap I saw was posted on the same day as the shooting - 'Lock and Load and Lost in Tucson Today: What's the Matter with My Arizona?' Wherin Jeff Biggers cites Gregory McNamee-

"What is clear to me, at this chaotic moment, is that no one should be surprised by this turn of events. The bullets that were fired in Tucson this morning are the logical extension of every bit of partisan hatred that came spewing out during the last election, in which Gabrielle Giffords---a centrist, representing well and faithfully a centrist district---was vilified and demonized as a socialist, a communist, a fascist, a job-killer, a traitor, and more.

Anyone who uttered such words or paid for them to be uttered has his or her name etched on those bullets."

And Biggers himself-

Now in Arizona--and the nation--do we have the courage and wisdom to deal with our gun laws? To stop the hatred from finding its all-too-easy expression through the barrel of the gun?

The Huffpo headlines are even more inflammatory today:

'Giffords Shooting Is an American Tragedy We Need to Urgently Address' by Paul Helmke (President, Brady Campaign)-

"While we are all still learning details about this shooting, and particularly the 22-year old responsible for this horrendous act, we should find it unacceptable that when Americans and our elected leaders are assembling in public places, their lives are at risk from gun violence."

'Congress Must Rein in Gun Industry in Response to Giffords Assassination Attempt' by Josh Sugarmann (Exec. Dir., Violence Policy Center)-

"America's gun culture claims its latest victims."


"If the attempted murder of one of their colleagues does not force Congress and President Obama to face the gun issue, what will?"

Perhaps worst of all is this, from former Colorado Senator Gary Hart who I have to believe truly knows better: 'Words Have Consequences'-

"Today we have seen the results of this rhetoric. (...) We all know that there are unstable and potentially dangerous people among us. To repeatedly appeal to their basest instincts is to invite and welcome their predictable violence.

So long as we all tolerate this kind of irresponsible and dangerous rhetoric (...) so long will we place all those in public life, whom the provocateurs dislike, in the crosshairs of danger.

That this is carried out, and often rewarded, in the name of the Constitution, democratic rights and liberties, and patriotism is a mockery of all this nation claims to believe and almost all of us continue to struggle to preserve. America is better than this."

But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

If Gifford is a "centrist" or "moderate," then what does "liberal" mean anymore? I shed no tears.

Leftists decry any availability of guns, but it's their desire for disarmament that made Gifford a sitting duck. If this had been a conservative gathering, the shooter had a 100% risk of leaving in a bodybag after firing just one bullet, and a high probability of getting blown away just for drawing his gun?

Killer's rants on a social network page, check. "Semi-automatic" weapon, check. "Extended clip," bonus! Innocent bystanders were killed, check. But the intended victim survived...

Getting "close" to Gifford, the killer still managed no more than a non-fatal head wound. This couldn't have been better for leftists if they had done it all themselves. And I wouldn't put it past them.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at January 9, 2011 2:28 PM
But johngalt thinks:

If we come to learn that the killer had a liberal political motivation I will be just as completely shocked as if he is proven to be a TEA Partier. The act was the sick manifestation of an incoherent mind.

You make an excellent point about conservative crowds though. If Giffords had attracted any such citizens to her event they might have stopped the shooter before he emptied his first magazine, at the very least. Perhaps she's not as centrist as some want to believe.

Posted by: johngalt at January 9, 2011 4:00 PM
But jk thinks:

Glenn Reynolds nails it in a guest WSJ editorial today:

To be clear, if you're using this event to criticize the "rhetoric" of Mrs. Palin or others with whom you disagree, then you're either: (a) asserting a connection between the "rhetoric" and the shooting, which based on evidence to date would be what we call a vicious lie; or (b) you're not, in which case you're just seizing on a tragedy to try to score unrelated political points, which is contemptible. Which is it?

Posted by: jk at January 10, 2011 10:32 AM

January 8, 2011

Semper Fi

Had the great fortune of finally meeting the proprietor of Devil Dog Brew and part of his wonderful family last night. I gave some for Christmas gifts this year and every recipient is hooked.

If you have not tried it, I highly recommend both the Devil Dog Brew and Snipers Brew. Great coffee from great folks, and sales support those who wear our nation's uniform.

Semper Fi, Hank!

UPDATE: Brother jg, sister Dagny, the lovely bride and I had dinner last night with The Everyday Economist who was in town for the ASSA meetings. What a great time.

I'm still surprised that some of these people on the Internet have an actual corporeal presence. I wonder if The Boulder Refugee may even be real...

UPDATE II: Bing® to the rescue, jg. Urban Dictionary:

Single Digit Midget: Primarily used in the military to refer to someone who has been on an extended deployment and now has less than 10 days left before going home.

But johngalt thinks:

Hobbies? (Just a little resume advice.)

Cute commercial. Just one question: "Single-digit midget??"

Posted by: johngalt at January 9, 2011 12:10 PM

January 7, 2011

Tweet of the Day

MSNBC's Jansing: Const authority citing req "complicated". No, but time-consuming for Dems searching for "b/c we said so" clause -- @fredthompson

236 - 118

If you're not enjoying the 112th Congress, you're not paying attention!

Providing for consideration of H.R. 2, to repeal the job-killing health care law and health care-related provisions in the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010; and providing for consideration of H.Res. 9, instructing certain committees to report legislation replacing the job-killing health care law

UPDATE: Felecia Sonmez of the WaPo calls it "a mostly party line vote" while Jim Hoft @ Gateway Pundit is dancing in the streets to get four D's.

UPDATE II: Two Republicans vote "present."

The rule passed 236-181-2, a key test vote of next Wednesday's scheduled vote to repeal President Obama's bill.

Update, 12:06 p.m.: It turns out that the pair to vote present were the two lawmakers who missed their own swearings-in on Wednesday: Reps. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) and Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.).

No need to be married to your work I guess.

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 3:43 PM | What do you think? [0]

"Quite a contrast to they way they treated me."

If you have six minutes, watch Juan Williams's interview (on FOX) about the firing of Ellen Weiss, who fired him.

If you don't, read Ann Althouse's summary.

January 6, 2011

All Software has Defects

Waitress Lindsay Garvey "takes full responsibility for being late. And the only person she's mad at is Steve Jobs. (~1:10)"
'Cause her iPhone alarm failed to wake her up at 10:30 on New Year's Day when she had been out until 5:00 and she was fired.

I take full responsibility for my weight. And the only person I'm mad at is Sara Goddam Lee...

UPDATE: Forgot to hat-tip Insty, who's not a lot more sympathetic than me...

Here Comes John Galt

To the big screen.

Here IT comes. The film version of my favorite novel, which we last discussed here and here, is in post production and should appear in theaters "No later than Tax Day, April 15."

Many of my trepidations about making this story into a movie have been salved by this interview with executive producer and financier (read: owner) of the film, John Aglialoro.

Ranked by Forbes Small Business as the 10th richest executive of any small publicly-traded company (revenues under $200 million) in 2007, Aglialoro is one of those rare corporate executives who fully "gets" the philosophical message in Atlas Shrugged.

So the storyline should be safe. The scope of this movie is Part I of the book, which readers can review key points from by reading those entitled entries in Three Sources' "Atlas Shrugged QOTD" archive.

And the casting appears excellent as well. In my mind's eye I can envision Ms. Schilling walking through an abandoned factory, or consoling her poor, misguided young sister-in-law. And the movie's Hank Reardon, played by Grant Bowler, seems a perfect fit. I can easily see him telling Tinky Holloway that his game is up.

But we'll have to wait for the second sequel for that scene. I've heard that the intentions for Parts II and III of the book are to be separate sequels, each following about a year after it's predecessor.

Judging by some of the scene photos the setting of the movie will be decidedly modern. Apparently it will be set in our time, not in that of the book's writing. This is as it should be. The uninitiated youth will be more captivated than with a more faithful portrayal of the book. And, more importantly, we are closer to the events of the story becoming reality today than at any time in history.

But jk thinks:

Fun. But how's he intend to make a film without the wisdom of Hollywood?

They should steal Glenn Reynolds's tagline: "It's Ayn Rand's world, we're just living in it."

Posted by: jk at January 6, 2011 4:48 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I expect that production values will be the last thing for which critics will pan this film.

Posted by: johngalt at January 6, 2011 5:32 PM
But jk thinks:

I was being a liiiiiitle more sarcastic than that.

Posted by: jk at January 6, 2011 6:32 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes, I read the sarcasm. But I took it as a "quantum comment." It can have multiple meanings at the same time. (Alas, in our era it has no literal meaning whatsoever until a judge says it does.)

Posted by: johngalt at January 6, 2011 8:21 PM

Another Look at Christopher Beam's Article

Robert Murphy at the Mises Institute takes on the Christopher Beam New York Magazine article we have discussed around here.

Like Reason (and unlike me), he is not dismissive. "Beam did his homework." "Didn't set out to write a hatchet job." "Interviewed the right people (Douglas French of the Mises Institute)." "Gave props to Murray Rothbard." I guess I will agree with all of those accolades.

Like Reason (and like me), he gets very queasy toward the end.

In any event, the problem with Beam's critique is that he reduces it to a popularity contest. In other words, Beam isn't arguing here that Jillette is wrong; rather, he's saying that few people would agree with him. More generally, Beam's critique of libertarianism is that it "ends up deep in the wilderness," i.e., far away from the conclusions reached by most other thinkers. That may well be true, but nobody denies that libertarians are currently in the minority.

Unlike me and unlike Reason, Lew Rockwell's lads are ready to go to the mat to defend the purest and most out there precepts of libertarianism. I don't think I'll join them there, but I enjoyed it.
An analogy will make things clearer. Suppose someone in the 1830s wrote an article called, "The Trouble With Liberty," and discussed the "extremist" views of the abolitionists. Such a writer might argue, "For these radicals, it's not merely that slavery is an unproductive use of labor. No, these firebrands go further and compare it to kidnapping. Most Americans agree that whipping a slave to death is going too far, but to totally abolish slavery? That's a bit much."

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 2:36 PM | What do you think? [0]

Dodged a Bullet

Not only is Scott Brown a capable Senator from the great Commonwealth of Massachusetts ("Commonwealth," harrumph!), but this lady is not:

Today the Bay State is a liberal bastion, so you might think that "Banned in Boston" is an anachronism. But on Thursday the state's highest court will consider a case involving censorship of truthful speech. The target of state Attorney General Martha Coakley and this modern Watch and Ward Society: financial information disseminated to the general public by a hedge fund.
The Bay State is not contending that any information on Bulldog's website was false or misleading. Instead, in echoes of the state's puritanical censors of the past, officials are trying to suppress truthful information because it "arouses" the public. The website, they say, "even though not couched in terms of a direct offer," may still "condition the public mind or arouse public interest in the particular securities."

The legal team for Phillip Goldstein, the cofounder of Bulldog, will argue that Massachusetts' broad definition of "offering" violates the First Amendment. Among his lawyers is Laurence Tribe, the liberal Harvard Law professor who has just finished a stint as senior counselor for access to justice in the Obama Justice Department.

For those of you who have not given Sir Rupert his tribute this year, the problem is that, while hedge funds are limited to $1Million+ clients, the website was out there on the Internets, where a poor person or a minority -- or even maybe a child -- could see its investment advice.

Thankfully, Ms. Coakley was not seated in the 112th Congress and can protect the good people of Massachusetts.

112th Congress Posted by John Kranz at 12:28 PM | What do you think? [0]

January 5, 2011

1000 Words

And every third is "awesome."


Hat-tip: "Tea Party Patriots" on Facebook.

But johngalt thinks:

Pity there's no corresponding plaque we can show being removed from the G5 jet she whined for. Poor little thing's gotta fly commercial now!

Posted by: johngalt at January 5, 2011 7:50 PM
But jk thinks:

Stop! Yer killin' me!

Posted by: jk at January 5, 2011 8:09 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Br'er jg: she's still got her broom.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at January 5, 2011 8:42 PM

Game Over.

Bread and Circuses? James Pethokoukis brings an interesting graph from Dan Clifton.


Philosophy? Schmilosophy! Keep 51% fat and happy.

2012 Posted by John Kranz at 3:05 PM | What do you think? [0]

Starbucks Logo

The WSJ headline and the Denver Post Facebook post point out "Starbucks Drops Coffee From Logo," but to be fair, they dropped Starbucks as well.


During a webcast meeting with baristas, the Seattle-based coffee giant showed off a simpler logo that no longer includes the green circle that says "Starbucks coffee." In addition, the mermaid inside that circle is now larger.

The updated logo reflects the company's new emphasis on selling Starbucks-brand products in supermarkets and other channels beyond its retail stores.

Posted by John Kranz at 2:04 PM | What do you think? [0]

A Great Day

Madame Speaker gives the big gavel back.


More serious commentary available on the WSJ Ed Page: The GOP Opportunity

112th Congress Posted by John Kranz at 12:42 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

WSJ's best advice:

"The other advice we'd offer is to keep in mind that Republicans did not run in 2010 to be national accountants. While cutting spending to reduce the deficit, they should keep the political and policy focus on promoting economic growth and private job creation. This should be the larger avowed purpose of their cuts in spending, their scrutiny of new regulations, their proposals for tax reform, or their questioning of the Federal Reserve." (Read: Not "deficit reduction.")

Posted by: johngalt at January 5, 2011 2:07 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

The deficit is a symptom, not a cause. If 112 follows this prescription, the deficit will take care of itself.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at January 5, 2011 2:40 PM

Review Corner (Bumped)

Usually, when the chattering classes send up a big cinematic celebration of the decade between Jack Kerouac's and KC & the Sunshine Band's, I run for the hills. Surely, they will celebrate the Dionysian and not Apollonian vision of The Sixties. When the producer is Richard "blow up kids who don't believe in global warming" Curtis, a bit of trepidation is warranted.

Yet, no, if you have missed the little British indie comedy Pirate Radio, run -- do not walk -- to your Netflix queue.

Sadly, the comedic genius we enjoyed from British television seems diluted at the very best. Brother jg's atheist friend, Ricky Gervais, delivered a very original character in "The Office," but most of what I have seen of late have been hampered by political correctness (Robin Hood) or just a race to the bottom versus America (Couples, &c.) And yet, British film has stepped up to take up the slack with great little indie films like "Kinky Boots," "Blow Dry," and now "Pirate Radio."

Five stars.

UPDATE: Another viewing stirs up more commentary...

1) ERRATA: It is certainly not an "indie flick." Richard Curtis is a big time producer and the film is not starved for budget: aerial shots, stars, special effects -- it's not "Star Wars III," but it's not "Return of the Secaucus Seven." To its credit, however, the film feels indie. It is fresh, non-formulaic, and relies on writing and storyline.

2) It does earn its R rating. The free love sixties are viewed up close and personal. Yet not a minute seems prurient. What happens happens and all the costs and benefits are there to see.

3) Best of all, the film seems very neutral. The lifestyle is laid out, as are the fashion trappings: equal parts silly, pompous and cool. Curtis -- who wants to tell you what light bulb to use and where to vacation -- remarkably does not tell you what to think. It's like the Buffy episode "Normal Again," the creators keep their thumb off the scale.

4) The part that is not fair is the attack on government. This is a sea-steading movie and the antagonists are a joyless bureaucrat who is happy to rip joy away from 25 million of his countrymen just to display control and nannyism -- and his assistant, who is actually named "Twatt."

5) What a soundtrack. I worshipped 60's music as a lad, turned away as an adult, then got into the jazz snob thing. But these tunes, if you'll pardon the pun, rock. Beyond the Jimi Hendrix and Otis Redding stuff I knew I'd like, they pull up a bunch of great songs. "Judy in Disguise" was an oldie when I was a kid, but it sounds fresh in the movie (and I have been singing it for a couple days...)

I need a favorite movie. My bank asks me that every few months and I have to reset my account. I just don't have a favorite movie. This one might be it...

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 11:20 AM | What do you think? [0]

Animated Prosperity Index

This is fascinating. The per capita income and average lifespan of the citizens of 200 countries over the past 200 years animated in just 4 minutes. Fascinating and thought provoking.

Hat tip: Brother Russ

But jk thinks:

Y'know, I have had a lot of lefties send this to me. It seems to appeal to them, yet I agree (and always respond) that it shows both the prosperity that comes from property rights and a natural amelioration of population caused by that prosperity.

On that note [segue alert!], I almost linked this yesterday: Kenneth P. Green at The American suggests the Earth's population could fit in Texas, receive adequate water from half the flow of the Colombia River, and feed itself with American agriculture. All the rest of them other countries could be a theme park or something.

Posted by: jk at January 5, 2011 11:39 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I'll posit that it appeals to them because it shows how "the differences between the countries of the world was wider than ever" in 1948 and beyond, and the "huge inequalities within countries" today. But the answers to those lefties are many:

The countries whose wealth increased were the industrialized nations, who particated in the industrial revolution.

The lifespan in today's Congo (about 45 years) now exceeds that of even the most prosperous countries, even as recently as the late 19th century.

Advances in health and wealth in the prosperous countries were not contemporary with declines in the poorer ones. ALL nations improved over time, but at different rates.

Lefties probably also beam at the sunshine and lollipops forecast from Mr. Rosling: "That huge historical gap between the west and the rest is now closing. We have become an entirely new converging world. And I see a clear trend into the future. With aid, trade, green technology and peace it's fully possible that everyone can make it to the healthy, wealthy corner."

I agree with the forecast but I'll quibble with him on the causes: Trade, technology and peace. No aid. No "green" caveat on technology. And peace.

Yes, peace, but how? Translating John Lennon's "Imagine" into every language? Probably already done, but to no avail. Here's an idea - COEXI$T.

Posted by: johngalt at January 5, 2011 2:32 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

It would be interesting to see this graph adjusted for inflation (he did not say if it was or not) to measure real earnings gains.

It would be even more interesting to see the expression of wealth as marginal income exceeding survival requirements. In other words, it's nice to see that African incomes are going up, but if 95% of the population barely makes enough to survive, that's vastly different than the United States where 87% of the population has income exceeding survival requirements. That's a much better measure of wealth and probably would throw the graph back to huge disproportion.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at January 5, 2011 2:54 PM

January 4, 2011

Starting to like these guys...


When House Republicans unveiled details of their plan to impose a 5 percent cut on funding for legislative offices and committees, it included an additional slash at the budget of the House Appropriations Committee. The appropriators asked for and received a 9 percent cut in their budget as part of the resolution, which is expected to be approved by the full House later this week.

I've Been Bested

I may have to quit "Review Corner." I can clearly not compete.

Blog friend LisaM embeds a three part review of Star Wars III. I confess I only made it through one part. It's as long as the movie. But, as lm points out, it's quite a bit better.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 4:13 PM | What do you think? [0]

On the Other Hand

The Folks at Reason seem to be able to contain their enthusiasm before it completely boils over.

No way the new Congress is a sure thing, but it's the last hope (even Yoda says "another not there one is.") I just don't see any purpose to this smug defeatism, except to look like the cleverest of the frat boys.

Libertario Delenda Est!

UPDATE: Heritage is more sanguine. Lawmakers turning down the formerly plum Appropriations Committee assignment. GOP legislators "can't sell pork at home."

TS Eliot AND Global Warming

In one post! Kind of a segue unto itself, Steven Hayward sees the shifting anti-determinism of DAWG advocates in T.S. Eliot's "Burnt Norton:"

Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past

UPDATE: Taranto mocks:

Great Balls of Fire

Ausgetzeichnet! German genius businessman selling efficient, earth-friendly "Heat Balls®" to EU customers.

The problem is that people will buy Heat Balls primarily as a way around the ban on incandescent bulbs. Rotthaeuser's Heat Balls could end up really taking off in a market starved for the familiar warmth of the incandescent bulb.

Awesomest thing all year so far! Hat-tip: Instapundit

Oil and Energy Posted by John Kranz at 12:16 PM | What do you think? [5]
But johngalt thinks:

I like this passage from the linked post:

"The problem is that people will buy Heat Balls primarily as a way around the ban on incandescent bulbs. Rotthaeuser's Heat Balls could end up taking off in a market starved for the familiar warmth of the incandescent bulb."

Not to worry. This "problem" can be resolved by outlawing "Heat Balls."

Seriously now, at least in the U.S., the "incandescent light bulb" has not been banned. Lamps lower than a specified lighting efficiency have. What is that efficiency threshold and who established it? It is the boundary between inexpensive "general purpose" lamps and more costly halogen type incandescent lamps, and it was lobbied for by - wait for it - lamp manufacturers. Competitors can no longer undercut each other's cheapest products and saturate the market with them. Consumers will be forced to purchase larger quantities of more expensive lamps. (Think of it as a sort of minimum-wage law for lightbulbs.)

Have no fear, the incandescent lamp is not going away (unless government jacks up the efficiency limit in a future law) they're just getting more expensive.

Posted by: johngalt at January 4, 2011 3:31 PM
But jk thinks:

I'm not risking it. I am waiting for a family member with a larger car to visit, and I will buy lunch for a trip to Home Depot to stock up. I plan to put a few cases in the storage closet.

While it sounds black helicopterish, I don't see a downside: misallocation perhaps of a small amount of capital, some scarcity of storage...

But I get a protected supply of something I'll likely use anyway. Next year, when they're gone, I'll trade you for ammo.

Posted by: jk at January 4, 2011 4:21 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I suggest Target or WalMart instead. I love Home Despot but their lightbulb selection is putrid.

Posted by: johngalt at January 5, 2011 2:15 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Or, buy 'em by the case! "(while supplies last)" Ya gotta love it!

Posted by: johngalt at January 5, 2011 2:23 AM
But jk thinks:

Good old Amazon comes out pretty well. Two cases of floods for traclights and two 24 count cases of 60 Watt Soft White Heat Balls for $57.14, Free Prime shipping. No lunch purchase required.

Posted by: jk at January 5, 2011 6:08 PM

Constitutional Citation

Cato's Roger Pilon has a great guest editorial in the WSJ today. I'd say he shares both our hopes and our fears about keeping Congress on a Constitutional track.

First, they'll have to keep the debate focused on the Constitution, not simply on policy or practicality.

Second, they'll have to reject without embarrassment the facile liberal objection that the courts have sanctioned what we have today, and thus all a member need do when introducing a bill is check the box that says "Commerce Clause," "General Welfare Clause" or "Necessary and Proper Clause."

If these clauses in the Constitution enable Congress to enact the individual health-insurance mandate, then they authorize Congress to do virtually anything. The Supreme Court was wrong in allowing Congress to exercise power not granted it by the Constitution, and courts today are wrong when they uphold those precedents--even if they're not in a position today to reverse them until Congress takes greater responsibility.

Third, Congress has to start taking greater responsibility. Congress must acknowledge honestly that it has not kept faith with the limits the Constitution imposes. It should then stop delegating its legislative powers to executive agencies. Congress should either vote on the sea of regulations the executive branch is promulgating or, far better, rescind or defund those regulations, policies and programs that never should have been promulgated in the first place (rescission may not be possible during the next two years, but defunding is). And of course Congress should undertake no new policies not authorized by the Constitution.

Pilon provides interesting history from my beloved Madison quote that the President could not "undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Federal Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents." He cites case law from the new deal and takes a good whack at 20th Century Progressives.

Only a negative reference to San Diego quarterback Phillip Rivers could have made it better [leave it alone, jk, the season's over...]

112th Congress Posted by John Kranz at 11:07 AM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

Awesome article. Must reading. I intend to contact my Representative and verify that he's read it, and ask him to work with his fellow Republicans to defund the Administrative branch to the fullest extent possible. CO2 regulations and "death panel" implementations are fertile ground for beginning the deficit reduction.

Posted by: johngalt at January 4, 2011 3:43 PM
But dagny thinks:

The season is over and we get a really great draft pick. Much better than the Chargers. :-)

Posted by: dagny at January 4, 2011 7:33 PM

January 3, 2011

When does illegality happen?

In a comment reminiscent of the claim that a tree falling in a forest makes no sound unless someone is there to hear it, Leo Laurence writes in the magazine for the Society of Professional Journalists that the term "illegal immigrant" does not apply to non-citizens. Why? Because of the Constitution, he asserts.

In an appearance on FNC's Fox and Friends this morning Laurence said, that an "undocumented immigrant" is not an illegal immigrant "until a judge says so." This is because of the Constitutional provision of innocence until proven guilty before a jury of one's peers. "No. No. They are not. The only person who can say someone is here illegally is a judge."

So the bank robber hasn't committed a crime until he is found guilty, according to this logic.

Laurence added that, "It's a very conservative issue because we're following our Constitution."

I attribute the smug, self-confidence of Mr. Laurence to a collision between the philosophy of subjective idealism and the TEA Party movement.

For what it's worth, Leo closed the segment by spelling out his telephone number and email address for those who want to discuss the matter with him. Repeated as a public service: 619 757 4909, leopowerhere@msn.com.

But jk thinks:

To tie our open threads, that's the Scroëdinger defense: the cat is not guilty until the box is opened...

I don't think I'll call Mister Laurence. His seems an odd defense and unlikely to advance the cause of more legal immigration that I champion.

And yet, I've heard a sister theory that it does not actually violate any statute to be on American soil, providing the same outcome that no one is truly illegal. Back to work but I'll see if I can find a well written exposition of this theory to share with the class.

Posted by: jk at January 4, 2011 10:13 AM

January 2, 2011

The Next Moral Crusade -- Capitalism

Over the New Year's holiday spent here in Seattle with Mr. and Mrs. Macho Duck I re-read an article in a 2008 issue of The Intellectual Activist (Vol. 20, No. 1.) The article's title is 'Fusionism Comes Unfused.' It reopened some internecine disputes in a clearly stated way so I wanted to share. Checking first for posts containing the word "Tracinski" (the author) I found a drought from 2007 until 2010. Shame on me!

The piece reviews the 2008 GOP primary season, where Rudy Giuliani and Mike Huckabee's early leads evaporated, for no apparent reason, to leave the field wide open. Tracinski attributes the cause to a "desperate desire" on the part of GOP voters to avoid the stark choice between a pro-defense, pro-markets and "not particularly religious" Giuliani and a "strongly religious, anti-abortion candidate who has nothing particular to offer on the war and denounces the pro-free-market Club for Growth as the 'Club for Greed."

"But in avoiding the choice between a religious agenda and a secular agenda, Republicans were forced to evade the substantive issues at stake in th election and focus instead on the personal qualities of the candidates. (...)

In short, faced with a big ideological question on the role of religion, Republicans dodged the issue and instead chose a candidate on non-ideological grounds. [McCain, the flip-flip-flopper]

Yet the conflict between the religious and secular wings of the conservative agenda cannot be avoided, even if Republicans declined to resolve it this year.

Republican fusionism is unstable because its basic premise -- that the moral foundation of free markets and Americanism can be left to the religious traditionalists -- is false. For five decades, under the influence of fusionism, conservatives have largely ceded to the religious right the job of providing the moral fire to sustain their movement. But they are discovering that the religionists do not have a strong moral commitment to free markets. In fact, the religious right seems to be working on its own version of 'fusion' -- with the religious left.


The reason for this shift toward the religious left is that religion ultimately cannot support the real basis for capitalism and a strong American national defense: a morality of rational self-interest. Christianity is too deeply committed to a philosophy of self-abnegation, a destructive morality that urges men to renounce any interest in worldly goods and to turn the other cheek in the face of aggression. (...)

Tricked by William F. Buckley and his fusionists into outsourcing moral questions to the guardians of religious tradition, the right has never been able to develop the moral case for rational self-interest -- which means that it never developed the moral case for the profit motive, property rights, and the free market. Many on the right are implicitly sympathetic to capitalism; they sense its virtues, but thanks to "fusionism," they are unable to articulate them. And this means that they have never been able to turn the defense of free markets into a moral crusade."

To my religious brothers and sisters I urge you not to read this as an indictment of your faith. Religious morality has much to offer in the realm of personal values. But as a universal guide for the conduct of civilizations it is too easily co-opted by the forces of World Socialism.

A defense of capitalism as the means for men to deal with one another is not only not an abandonment of moral values, it is the only moral crusade that can hope to ever have a peaceful end.

But jk thinks:

I guess this post means holiday comity is now officially over. It was fun.

I don't know that Mr. Tracinski has changed his tune since 2008, but I posit that the Tea Party and the 2010 elections have about completely debunked his argument.

I had the good fortune to meet, via one of my most leftist friends, one of Hizzoner's state campaign chairmen, I parroted the media line about how Giuliani erred in waiting for the Florida primaries, yadda, yadda. This person, 25 years my junior looked at me as a naive waif and said "yeah, that's what we said -- we spent piles of money in New Hampshire and couldn't get anywhere." Without dismissing the candidate's faults, the GOP is clearly not ready for a social libertarian of Giuliani's stripes.

But by the same token, they did not pick His Huckness. TIA sees that as some nefarious plot, I see it as recognition of electoral exigencies. Moderates appeal to the American electorate and prosper in the American system.

Yet I return to the Tea Party, which brought a bounty of serious freedom candidates like Marco Rubio, Ron Johnson, Rand Paul. Subtract the evangelicals from the Tea Party and you have a typical libertarian gabfest with some angry bearded guys.

I think this comment still holds: we have to hold our uneasy partnership together to hold back the forces of collectivism. Frank Meyers was right -- it's worth it.

Posted by: jk at January 3, 2011 11:03 AM
But johngalt thinks:

And I say the TPM validates his argument.

I read you as focusing on one aspect of the post: why Rudy and Huckabee were rejected. It is a fact that they were, and you passed right on by the new fusion of the religious right with the religious left or the assertion that Republican fusionism is fundamentally unstable.

As for the TEA Party verdict, consider from the last quoted paragraph - "Many on the right are implicitly sympathetic to capitalism; they sense its virtues..." But they don't understand why it is virtuous. The closest they usually come is to quote the Declaration of Independence's "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." The World Socialists slay this foe with the ol' "200 year-old dead white guys" argument.

The past quote you linked celebrated that "pro-lifers line up to vote when it's 40 below." They do so because it is a moral cause for them. You couldn't oppose making the profit motive, property rights and the free market an equally or more powerful moral cause, so you must just consider it impossible. "If man were meant to fly then God would have given him wings."

Posted by: johngalt at January 3, 2011 2:52 PM

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