July 31, 2011

Who are the Poor?

More Keynesian Stimulus and the answer will, of course, be "all of us!"

But the lovely bride sends a link to an interesting column by a financial advisor. He references a few papers and sadly does not provide links. But he does provide a superb summary of America's Poor:

Rector summarizes the Census Bureau data this way: "Overall, the typical American defined as poor by the government has a car, air conditioning, a refrigerator, a stove, a clothes washer and dryer, and a microwave. He has two color televisions, cable or satellite TV reception, a VCR or DVD player, and a stereo. He is able to obtain medical care. His home is in good repair and is not overcrowded. By his own report, his family is not hungry and he had sufficient funds in the past year to meet his family's essential needs."

He adds, however, "Of course, the living conditions of the average poor American should not be taken as representing all the poor. There is actually a wide range in living conditions. While the majority of poor households do not experience significant material problems, roughly 30 percent do experience at least one problem, such as overcrowding, temporary hunger, or difficulty getting medical care."

When you compare our "poor" with the rest of the world, our systemic prosperity as a country becomes astounding. As just one example, the average living space per person in the U.S. is 721 square feet; per poor person, it is 439 square feet. Our poor have more floor space per person than the average person (not the average poor person) living anywhere in the world except Australia, Norway, and Canada.


In the midst of the debt-ceiling contretemps, a Facebook friend (our own LatteSipper as it happens) posts a link to a thinkprogress.org screed on $4Billion of deductions taken by oil companies "commenting on a system that is slanted to the rich and powerful" and laments that programs for the poor will be cut because they lack the representations of the oil corporations (with a bonus whack at Citizen's United v FEC.

Yeah, clearly what the poor require is more government help.

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 11:03 AM | What do you think? [0]

July 30, 2011

Tea Party Should Focus on 2012

The IBD Ed Page -- unsurprisingly -- makes sense:

Champions of smaller government, low taxes and a freedom-driven economy shouldn't expect whatever the end result of "Boehner 2.0" is to be worth very much cheering, especially after Harry Reid's Senate gets through with it.

But with the clock ticking on the federal government's debt deadline, Tea Partyers should take whatever half-loaf now comes their way.

They've demonstrated that theirs is one of the most formidable grassroots movements in American history. What they stand for is right, and would make our Founding Fathers proud. And they've demonstrated that they're the real deal, not shills for those who are a little right of center within the Republican Party.

Bismarck might not be the Tea Party's favorite historical figure, but his advice has never been more pertinent than here and now: "Politics is the art of the possible."

UPDATE: And the WSJ Ed Page:

At the most practical level, Mr. Boehner's plan is better than the one Harry Reid supports in the Senate. This remains true of the revisions Mr. Boehner released yesterday, though the irony is that it is less credible and weaker politically than the previous version. The concession the holdouts demanded, and got--a balanced budget amendment--ensures that it cannot pass the Senate. The best but unlikely scenario is that the bill otherwise remains intact.

2012 Posted by John Kranz at 11:23 AM | What do you think? [4]
But johngalt thinks:

The only bone I'll pick with either column is they both assume that the debt limit will pass and that delaying it hurts Republicans. I watched Reid, Schumer and Durbin's wake of press conference last night and they seem to know their fate is at the mercy of charitable Republicans. What they do if enough such creatures don't step forward isn't exactly clear. Nor is it obvious that voters will punish Republicans for making government tighten its belt. While opinion polls are contradictory (we want lower spending AND government cheese) they do favor lowered spending.

My choice would still be the Boehner plan or some semblance of it. But I won't lose much sleep over further "extremism" from the cut government camp.

Posted by: johngalt at July 30, 2011 5:45 PM
But jk thinks:

Yeah, they are a charming threesome, are they not? Watching Sens. Reid, Schumer, and Durbin is not exactly a charisma bath.

My problem remains that Republicans will now "own" the bad economy in spite of all the failed Democratic policies that have squashed it. The three stooges in Dem leadership and the President have set it up well. I can already see charts that show Obama's policies bringing us out of the ditch for three quarters but turning around after reckless Republicans played politics with the full faith and credit of the US exchequer.

While they will of course be wrong about the failed Democratic, Keynesian policies, they will be somewhat right about the reckless Republican charge. The Tea Partiers, like Luke, overplayed a very weak hand.

Posted by: jk at July 31, 2011 10:24 AM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

How the discourse has changed. In the past, Republicans shied from the work "cut" like a vampire from sunlight; it was too toxic politically. Now, it's a point of honor as some race to out-cut others. The results are limited to this point, but we're going in the right direction.

A credit downgrade might be the best thing to happen to this country's economy since Ronald Reagan cut taxes. It would force a prolonged national debate on spending and the debt.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at July 31, 2011 5:27 PM
But jk thinks:

I had not considered that, br. Thou mightst have something there, although until we can credibly convince people that spending is the problem, I am not sure that additional evidence of a problem is worth adding 25 bps to our borrowing costs.

Posted by: jk at August 1, 2011 11:59 AM

July 29, 2011

Headline of the Day

From today's Denver Post sports section, regarding the signing of Bronco rookie offensive tackle Orlando Franklin for $4.361 million:

"Franklin due some Benjamins"

OK, it's got nothing to do with politics, but it's downright clever.

Media and Blogging Posted by Boulder Refugee at 1:59 PM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

Heh.

Posted by: jk at July 29, 2011 7:12 PM

Now in the Middle of Step 2

Underpants Gnome debt plan:
Phase 1: Defeat Boehner;
Phase 2: ???;
Phase 3: Cut, Cap, Balance!

From @McCormackJohn Hat-tip: Terri

112th Congress Posted by John Kranz at 10:51 AM | What do you think? [5]
But johngalt thinks:

By holding out on yesterday's Boehner Bill they won incorporation of a balanced budget amendment prior to the second debt-cap hike to be offered next year. This gave them cover to return to Phase 1 and support Boehner. But if the Boehner Bill was DOA in the senate yesterday this only gave the Dems more justification to kill it today.

I can't complain. I like today's bill better as well and yesterday's was probably going nowhere anyway. But where are we now?

"The last train is leaving the station, and this is a last chance to avert a default," Reid said in a speech on the Senate floor...

"I say no, not again will we fight another battle like the one in which we are now engaged," Reid added. "But default is not an option, either. And we cannot wait for the House any longer. I ask my Republican friends, break away from this thing going on in the House of Representatives."

But they aren't. Senate Republicans are shying from the Reid Bill. And even if they did get it out of that body it would be - DOA - in the TEA Party's house. So now we're really in Obama's stalemate, but it's no skin off the nose of we who want less spending. No agreement - no cap hike - no more spending.

The Democrats thought they had the inexperienced TEA Party "Hobbits" right where they wanted them. They may come to wish they'd said yes a compromise or two earlier.

Posted by: johngalt at July 29, 2011 11:24 PM
But jk thinks:

I fear the great ThreeSources Debt Ceiling Kumbaya is on its last chorus. I cede that Brother JG is in good company. The Club for Growth (praise be upon their holy names) sends an email today with the same sentiment. Yet I remain unmoved.

My nose lost some metaphorical skin as another 24 hours and another 100 point drop in the Dow was accepted because intransigent tea party Republican freshmen insisted on the completely symbolic political posturing inclusion of a balanced budget amendment requirement.

It seems that this was such a good time, we're going to do it again unless 3/4 of a Democratic-Controlled-Senate passes a Balanced Budget Amendment. Fine. At least I'll be short next time.

I am wholeheartedly and pancreatically opposed to a balanced budget amendment. It is both a mechanism to increase taxes and a convenient vote for Democratic Senators to appear committed to fiscal restraint with zero danger of any actual restraint.

It will never happen, it would be bad if it did, it provides the opposition with a legitimate complaint against GOP tactics, it cost us a day to get it in and possibly some Democratic votes against tabling it. A few more of these wins and we'll be defending Texas.

Posted by: jk at July 30, 2011 11:01 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Consistency check: How does a BB amendment "cost some Democratic votes against tabling" now, but becomes "a convenient vote for Democratic Senators to appear committed to fiscal restraint" later?

Could it be because "Balanced Budget Amendment" is not a uniform entity? There are conservative and progressive forms such a measure could take. But I see chances of any of them passing congress as slim and none.

Posted by: johngalt at July 30, 2011 5:27 PM
But jk thinks:

The three-quarter requirement would allow Senators in redder-tinged states to vote 'Aye!' knowing that enough blue and safe seats could prevent passage. Sen. Durbin, for his fabled lack of grace and charm, counts votes well enough to ensure that.

Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, for example, can vote for it and against all the plans that actually cut spending. When she is accused by her GOP rival of spendthriftedness, she says "Not me, bucko, I voted for the Balanced Budget Amendment!"

I guess I have not seen the conservative BBA yet, but every one I have seen would have prevented the Bush Tax Cuts straight away, yet have enough loopholes to allow all the spending.

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

I'm thinking of the cap on spending to a percentage of GDP.

Posted by: johngalt at August 1, 2011 3:29 PM

July 28, 2011

Picture of the Day

Tea Party Patriots on Facebook

Posted by John Kranz at 3:48 PM | What do you think? [0]

Quote of the Day

4. When it was Chrysler secured bondholders objecting to getting defaulted on by the president's auto task force, Mr. Obama denounced them as "a small group of speculators" who were "hoping that everybody else would make sacrifices and they would have to make none." Where was Mr. Obama’s newfound respect for bondholders back during the Chrysler deal? Or, conversely, if Chrysler bondholders should have had to bear some sacrifice then, why shouldn’t Treasury bondholders now? -- Ira Stoll

TEA Party Hobbits

While we're waiting for the House to pass the Boehner Bill this evening, thus forcing the Senate and White House to make good on their threats to risk "default" by killing the House compromise, let's have some more fun. Did anyone hear Sen. John McCain read this into the record yesterday?

The idea seems to be that if the House GOP refuses to raise the debt ceiling, a default crisis or gradual government shutdown will ensue, and the public will turn en masse against . . . Barack Obama. The Republican House that failed to raise the debt ceiling would somehow escape all blame. Then Democrats would have no choice but to pass a balanced-budget amendment and reform entitlements, and the tea-party Hobbits could return to Middle Earth having defeated Mordor.

This is the kind of crack political thinking that turned Sharron Angle and Christine O'Donnell into GOP Senate nominees.

I'm sure that Senator nicey nice was attracted to the passage by the shots it took at the TEA Party ladies but the Hobbit line is the one that, as dagny suggested, "might stick" to the TEA Partiers. And why not? The Hobbits were the good guys! And defeating Mordor is a life or death matter. We just need to remind ourselves that it took the Hobbits three books and at least as many movies to get the job done. It ain't gonna happen with one debt-limit vote.

But jk thinks:

It's been a while since I was so disappointed in the WSJ Ed Page. Having it read into the Congressional record by the Senior Senator from Arizona is, perhaps, punishment enough.

I didn't mind the Hobbit reference. It goes well with the whole paragraph, which criticizes plan opponents for having nothing else.

I was angry with the slap at O'Donnell and Sharron Angle. Do they really wish Mike Castle was in the Senate to smooth things over? I do not know the establishment candidate in Nevada, but I think some Tea Partiers can be proud of standing on principle.

Posted by: jk at July 28, 2011 3:30 PM

In Other News, Global Warming is B******t!

Predicted readings of the computer models do not seem to match the experimental data:

In short, the central premise of alarmist global warming theory is that carbon dioxide emissions should be directly and indirectly trapping a certain amount of heat in the earth's atmosphere and preventing it from escaping into space. Real-world measurements, however, show far less heat is being trapped in the earth's atmosphere than the alarmist computer models predict, and far more heat is escaping into space than the alarmist computer models predict.

When objective NASA satellite data, reported in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, show a "huge discrepancy" between alarmist climate models and real-world facts, climate scientists, the media and our elected officials would be wise to take notice. Whether or not they do so will tell us a great deal about how honest the purveyors of global warming alarmism truly are.

As a dear Facebook friend will say "we can't be wasting our time with predictions -- we should be out fixing the planet!"

Hat-tip: Instapundit Sharp Insty readers have already noticed that the idiot who started the "global warming is killing all the polar bears" meme is under investigation.

But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Well it made Fox News.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at July 29, 2011 2:07 PM
But jk thinks:

And Taranto's BOTW.

Posted by: jk at July 30, 2011 8:55 AM

Brer's JK, JG and Rep. Allen West

Boehner backers all.

"In seven months, I think the expectation for Allen West and the rest of us to correct something that has been a disease going on for 30 years Let's be realistic in our expectations. It takes 5 miles to turn an aircraft carrier around. I can tell you this: We have started that motion," West said.

Those TEA Party Republicans are so extreme and unreasonable.

But jk thinks:

My eyes tear up just thinking about it...

Posted by: jk at July 28, 2011 10:09 AM
But jk thinks:

Terri suggests that if even the grouchy old guys at ThreeSources are in, it must be okay...

And she also found this gem from @McCormackJohn:

Underpants Gnome debt plan:
Phase 1: Defeat Boehner;
Phase 2: ???;
Phase 3: Cut, Cap, Balance!

Posted by: jk at July 28, 2011 4:05 PM

July 27, 2011

Dear [Congressman] Cory [Gardner]

Dear Cory,

Yesterday I called your office in Fort Collins and asked them to register my support for a "no compromise, no surrender" position on the debt limit issue. Today I am urging you and the rest of the house freshmen to support the Boehner Bill.

Your principled stand over the past week has resulted in: Elimination of all tax hikes, substantive and actual cuts in government spending, and a limited debt cap increase. President Obama and the Democrats have lost on virtually all of their demands.

While I personally have little fear of government default I believe most Americans do, and would view inaction on the debt limit as irresponsible and a "failure to compromise" as unreasonable. Putting the Boehner bill on the president's desk will put him in a no-win position. Failure to do so will give him his only chance to score political points.

I believe the accomplishments of you and your peers are remarkable. You will have my support and that of those like me whether or not you back the Boehner bill. I think you'll earn the respect and support of less principled voters if you show the reasoned maturity to take what you can get and send it, with bipartisan support, to the president.

As my blog brother and I recently wrote, "It is time to take what we can get, move on, and make the 2012 elections a serious referendum on the size of government." http://www.threesources.com/archives/009511.html


Respectfully yours.

I sent this despite being emailed by Grassfire Nation that "Rep. Gardner to vote on 'Debt Ceiling' bill TOMORROW"

According to Politico, this morning, Speaker Boehner bluntly told wavering GOP lawmakers this morning to "get your a-- in line" behind his debt ceiling bill as he scrambles for votes.

Your Congressman is being strong-armed and intimidated to accept and support a bill that doesn't do what was promised!

Now we are being told that Boehner will bring spending legislation to the House floor for a vote tomorrow (Thursday, July 28).

Thanks for the tip. I have my own message for my congressman, thank you.


Debt Ceiling Chicken

OK, now I'm ready to join my blog brother in saying, "It is time to take what we can get, move on, and make the 2012 elections a serious referendum on the size of government." Much has changed in the week since jk suggested grabbing the Gang-of-Six plan and counting ourselves fortunate. The payoff from the overdue standoff versus the White House and its media minions is the chance to deliver a debt increase bill with actual spending cuts and no tax hikes, either in rates or deduction phase-outs, that the President will have no choice but to sign. Mister "can they say yes to anything" wouldn't say yes to $800 billion in new taxes but insisted on $1.2 trillion. Instead he'll get zero.

But now, despite the success enjoyed through standing firm, it is time to compromise and let our other objectives wait for the next battle. Jennifer Rubin puts it bluntly:

There are very few times when Republicans have a vote that so clearly defines who is a constructive force for conservative governance and who is not. There could be no better device for separating the two than the Boehner vote. If you'd rather burn down the building, you are in one camp. If you want to pocket gains and keep advancing your principles (and setting the agenda for 2012), you are in the other.

Why is it destructive to keep holding out for more?

The Republican hard-liners insist there is still a cut, cap and balance option out there. No. That was some conservatives preference. An aspiration is not a guide to governance. It's not getting through now or until there are a dozen or so fewer Democrats in the Senate. Right now we are nowhere close to 60 votes for cloture or the two-thirds of the Senate needed to approve a constitutional amendment.

Yup. Can't argue.

UPDATE: The title for this post was borrowed from the excellent Thomas Sowell column by the same name (and was in no way meant to imply that jk and I are barnyard fowl.)

But jk thinks:

Welcome aboard! You can sit in the back there, next to the creepy guy in the raincoat...

Posted by: jk at July 27, 2011 4:26 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Don't let the helmsman hear you call him "creepy looking."

Posted by: johngalt at July 27, 2011 5:01 PM
But jk thinks:

You called me a debt ceiling chicken.

Posted by: jk at July 27, 2011 5:06 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Fair 'nuff.

Posted by: johngalt at July 27, 2011 5:21 PM
But jk thinks:

Ms. Rubin's Ten things that will happen is very good as well.

Posted by: jk at July 27, 2011 6:13 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Agreed. I'm thinking of sending it to my congressman. That link (bill) was quite subtle. Thanks for highlighting.

Posted by: johngalt at July 27, 2011 7:06 PM

Storytime

A benefit to having no children is escaping some of the very bad children's stories. Don't get me wrong, I love children's stories and from our bookshelves and video collection, one would assume we had seven or eight. But Professor Mankiw provides a link to the original Rainbow Fish. (Warning: it is really, really bad!)

But as Mankiw taketh away, Mankiw giveth: The American Rainbow Fish:

Awesome Awesome Awesome!

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 2:46 PM | What do you think? [0]

A Troubling Storyline, Indeed.

STOP THE PRESSES!!! Who cares about the debt ceiling? There's bad news out for a former Governor of Alaska!!!!!

A box office star Sarah Palin isn't.

A new documentary about her time as governor of Alaska has grossed less than $100,000 since its release earlier this month, including a paltry $24,000 last weekend.

That flop is leading some people to question just how much pull Palin retains within the Republican base, a troubling storyline for the 2008 vice presidential nominee as she mulls a 2012 run.


I had no idea things were this bad. At least the family has their faith to fall back on.

No word yet on box-office results from the Chris Cillizza Biopic "The WaPo Wrangler." But if the writing was not smarmy enough for you, or of the words are too big, click on through to have Chris himself read it to you between a couple of commercials. It's very...ummm...what's the word I'm looking for...


Who Are These Guys?

The Internet Segue Machine® is set to 11 this morning. Last night, I watched Larry Kudlow interview David Beers, head of Standard &Poor's sovereign debt rating committee, and this morning I found the video clip:












It was a good interview, and Beers seeks to stay out of the political fray. But I became quite annoyed. Who the hell is this guy to speculate on matters of liberty and governance? The opinion of a trusted, sovereign debt ratings agency is not inconsequential -- but do you know of any? These guys picked the Lions to win the Super Bowl and now we're supposed to tweak the legislation of a free people to seek their approbation.

Or, as Holman Jenkins more diplomatically asks: Who Elected the Rating Agencies?

But now we have a new problem. The rating agencies, especially Standard & Poor's, have decided to join the politicians in turning an artificial crisis into a real one. S&P says it plans a U.S. debt downgrade, regardless of any debt-ceiling outcome, unless it sees a "credible" plan to reduce future deficits by $4 trillion over the next 10 years.

This has become the real worry for Wall Street, but why? America's spending debate does not remotely make it any more of a default threat than it was a week or month or year ago. America's IOUs are still completely acceptable to the markets.

Even in the long term, the threat is not to bondholders. The threat is to Americans under 50 who think they can rely on Social Security and Medicare. The threat is to countries that hope the U.S. will fight their wars for them. The threat is to K Street bandits trying to live off federal handouts.


Y'all know where I stand. It is time to take what we can get, move on, and make the 2012 elections a serious referendum on the size of government. But S&P plays into the hands of the fear mongers.


Half Measures

It's not exactly first principles, and it is a far cry from the real solution of privatizing the FDA, but Michele Boldrin and S. Joshua Swamidass (and you thought you got teased in school) have a better-than-half solution to drug approvals in the WSJ Ed Page today.

Considering that the bulk of FDA approvals are to prove efficacy, Professor Boldrin and Dr. Swamidass suggest that the FDA pare down its mission to safety and trust medical journals and private research to prove efficacy. The present "contract" has become too expensive for innovation:

Every drug approval requires a massive bet--so massive that only very large companies can afford it. Too many drugs become profitable only when the expected payoff is in the billions. As a consequence, competition in the drug-development market shrinks. Only a few large companies can afford the final clinical trials, hence key innovators--small biotechnology companies and academic scientists--can't compete. As Paul Hastings, CEO of OncoMed Pharmaceuticals, testified before the House Subcommittee on Health this month, "When it comes to venture-backed startup biotechnology discovery companies, our industry is facing a crisis."

Perhaps more importantly, in this high-stakes environment it is difficult to justify developing drugs for rare diseases. They simply do not make enough money to pay for their development. A colleague in the pharmaceutical industry shared why his company recently ended a particular drug project. Although the internal consensus was that the drug would work, it would only make $30 million per year--not enough money to justify the cost and risk of clinical trials. (As in most cases, the details are confidential.) How many potentially good drugs are dropped in silence every year?


I still prefer the idea of an Underwriters Laboratories model, but there is a lot to like here. Government's protecting on safety issues may not be an enumerated power per se, but it is far less of an affront to liberty than telling us what medicine we may buy. To use a random MS patient I know as an example (hope he does not object), it would allow him to continue with the effective experimental drug he found in a trial even though that trial is over.

In retrospect, it is better than half. But it seems just as impossible to enact as a perfect solution. The authors point out "Now is the right time for reform, while the House continues hearings on the fourth reauthorization of the Prescription Drug User Fee Act. The law, first enacted in 1992, was originally designed to provide the FDA with enough funding to reduce approval times, but it is also used to adjust the drug approval process itself. "

I'm not certain the FDA will see this as "the right time" to cut its budget, influence, and power.

Pharmaceuticals Posted by John Kranz at 10:34 AM | What do you think? [0]

July 26, 2011

Quote of the Day

Obama, meanwhile, seemed to be going out of his way to isolate Boehner from his more militant caucus members--praising Boehner's willingness to cut a deal, if only it weren't for the crazies on the far right. Perhaps this makes Obama look like a nice guy to people who don't understand the GOP intra-party dynamics, but of course, it poisons an already poisonous relationship between Boehner and the tea-partiers. If I were feeling uncharitable, I might argue that Obama seems to be willing to lower the chances of getting a deal, as long as he raises the chances that the other guys get the blame. And frankly, I'm not feeling very charitable right now. -- Megan McArdle, "We're All Doomed!"

Hit Piece #374

I'm getting to like Rep. Michelle Bachmann because her enemies are so blatantly moronic. As we've learned from L'Affaire Palin, that leads to no good. But Jeeeeeburz!! WaPo:

Just a few weeks before Bachmann called for dismantling [Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac] during a House Financial Services Committee hearing, she and her husband signed for a $417,000 home loan to help finance their move to a 5,200-square-foot golf course home, public records show. Experts who examined the loan documents for The Washington Post say they are confident that the loan was backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

No word on the corporate jet at this time, say tuned...

This is nothing but a huge hit piece that gives Ms. Kimberly Kindy license to tell you that quel horreur! the Bachmanns are, I can't bear to use the word, rich! And as for the hypocrisy of applying for a loan [getting hers!] before calling for the GSE's dismantling, give me a break -- that's like complaining that Ron Paul used US Dollars before complaining about the Fed.

I hear every dang day not to get too attached to Rep. Bachmann because there is all this horrible stuff out there. Yet nobody ever produces any. I don't know that I disbelieve them. But every time I see this or the SCTV skit, I think "Is this the worst they have?"

2012 Posted by John Kranz at 3:43 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Ms. Rubin has some good stuff on the Pawlenty/Bachmann feud in Iowa here. She concludes:

As for Bachmann, this is no doubt an effort to ensure victory in the Ames straw poll. It is also a warning to her other opponents: Don't mess with the lady from Minnesota. Unlike the former governor, she is tough as nails.

Posted by: johngalt at July 26, 2011 4:44 PM

George Will Goes Off on Emperor Obama

For "imperiously" summoning congressional leaders to his presence last weekend.

Congress Stands its Ground

There are 87 reasons for Obama’s temporary conversion of convenience to the cause of spending restraint — the 87 House Republican freshmen. Their inflexibility astonishes and scandalizes Washington because it reflects the rarity of serene fidelity to campaign promises.

Obama — a demagogue for an age of smooth surfaces; Huey Long with a better tailor — pretended Friday to wonder whether Republicans “can say yes to anything.” Well.

Thank you TEA Party. One can be forgiven for wondering if this power struggle between Congress and the White House will be the point history records as Barack Obama's Waterloo.


Virginia Postrel Call Your Office

Gettin' better all the time! Is the Internet worth a million dollars? It is if you won't give it up for that. And I know I would not.

Awesome -- Hat-tip: John Stossel, who points out that record heat isn't causing the suffering it once was as most people have access to air conditioning.

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

Damn those Corporate Jets!

I yelled at the TV when the President dropped the Corporate Jet line into his speech.

But Rich Lowry at NRO finds YouTube gold. I never watched "The West Wing," but Lowry points out the jet line wasn't good enough for them.

And the rest of it is purdy good as well.


Usdebtogon

Or, "I was told there would be no math on this post."

I needed a big number to illustrate a math concept, and I found the math concept enlightened me by illustrating how big the number actually was. See if you enjoy.

I found a seven year old notepad on which I had solved John Derbyshire's August 2004 "Math Corner" problem. Explaining the solution (spoiler alert) to a friend, I described a polygon with a million sides. Then I added with a flourish that in math as in government, a million was a puny number. Imagine, asks I, a polygon with 14 Trillion sides. The usdebtogon was born.


As you add more sides to an inscribed polygon, the more it approximates a circle. The diagram shows four, five, and six sides.

I got to wondering how large a circle would be required to visibly show the difference between a usdebtogon and the circle in which it was inscribed. My first guess was a circle inscribed in the square that defines the District of Colombia. Poetic, huh?

But DC is ten miles a side. I do not have machinery I trust to compute the side length of R * 2sin(π/14000000000000) so I will use arc length as a proxy. A ten mile diameter circle is 1990513 inches in circumference. Divide by 14T and that's 1.4 * 10-7 for each arc. Nobody in the world could see the difference. I was expecting it would be an inch or so -- I was only off by a magnitude of seven!

A circle around the earth (7900 mile diameter) is 1572505353 inches in circumference. A usdebtogon would slice the circle into 0.0001123 inch arcs. Nope, not going to see that.

[UPDATED]
How about inscribing a usdebtogon inside a circle to the moon? 240,000,000 mile radius if I recall is a circumference of 95544629055095 inches, so each side would be 6.8" Finally, we have found a circle into which we could inscribe a usdebtogon and a viewer could discern the difference. But he would have to be on the moon.

How about inscribing a usdebtogon inside a circle to the moon? 240,000 mile radius [as I have been corrected]* provides a circumference of 95544629055 inches, so each side would be .0068" Pretty tough to see. Especially on the moon with one of those bubbly helmets on.

*Mr. Derbyshire himself corrects my erroneous moon orbit and suggests "Now if you use Pluto's orbit, you get an arc of about 16 inches. Of course, Pluto's not a planet any more......."

Earth's orbit (93,000,000 mile radius) gives me 0.84 inches; I'm going to call that visible, providing you use one of the fine-line Sharpies®

UPDATE II: In thanks for technical editing, I should at least hawk his superb Prime Obsession: Bernhard Riemann and the Greatest Unsolved Problem in Mathematics. I acquired a signed copy when the author came to Boulder on a book tour.

But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Anybody got an aspirin?

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at July 26, 2011 6:33 PM
But dagny thinks:

In a similar story that requires no math, my oldest daughter and her cousins (kindergarten age or so) were playing a familiar game of one-ups-man-ship. One cousin says, "I have 10," and the next cousin says, "well I have 20," followed by 100, 1,000 and progressively larger numbers that they could come up with. We told our oldest to use, "Barack Obama's Budget," as the largest number known to man. This has been added to the family lexicon for describing infinitely large quantities. How big is it? As big as Barack Obama;s budget...

Posted by: dagny at July 26, 2011 7:39 PM

Contact you Congressperson

I was going to tell Rep. Polis that I enjoyed his WSJ Editorial, but -- other than the revenues he advocated -- that a cuts only, unbalanced, evil Republican was fine with me. But:


But jk thinks:

Heh. I fear those on the receiving end of mine would not enjoy the humor.

Posted by: jk at July 26, 2011 12:36 PM
But johngalt thinks:

So much the better. They need to hear from all of Jared's constituents! The number for his Boulder office (4770 Baseline Road, #220) is 303.484.9596.

Posted by: johngalt at July 26, 2011 2:28 PM
But jk thinks:

I'll keep on it. Where did you get that ###? It answers as a carrier tone. Busy at the House line.

Posted by: jk at July 26, 2011 2:47 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Searched Bing for "Jared Polis Boulder Office"

In the second and sixth hits, in the summary text. A clickthrough only takes you to his DC page that is "Site Unavailable."

Posted by: johngalt at July 26, 2011 3:14 PM
But jk thinks:

Got through (at your number thanks) and spoke to a very nice young lady who took my message, read it back to make certain I was understood, and said she'd pass it along.

Posted by: jk at July 27, 2011 12:30 PM
But johngalt thinks:

And you didn't detect any hint of a snicker? Man, she's a pro!

Posted by: johngalt at July 28, 2011 11:42 AM

July 25, 2011

Love That Internet Thingy!

Not many people will find Dr. Hoppe's remarks on ethics, epistemology, and praxeology interesting. But I bet most ThreeSourcers would:

Long but good.

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 4:20 PM | What do you think? [0]

What you need to know about the Reid Debt Ceiling Plan

This is the part that isn't included in today's news coverage of Majority Leader Reid's debt proposal that "gives Republicans what they demand."

Rubin: Reid's Debt-Limit Proposal is a Sham

A Capitol Hill source with knowledge of the plan tells me: "It includes $1.2 trillion in OCO [Overseas Contingency Operations] savings . . . which was assumed anyway, $1.2 trillion (over $1.1 trillion less than [Majority Leader Eric] Cantor identified in the Biden talks) and $300 billion in interest savings."

Predictably, Obama likes it.


Latest Strategy on the Debt Ceiling

Washington Post's Jennifer Rubin reports:

Boehner: "The White House has never gotten serious about tackling the serious issues our nation faces -- not without tax hikes -- and I don't think they ever will. The path forward, I believe, is that we pull together as a team behind a new measure that has a shot at getting to the president's desk. It's won't be Cut, Cap & Balance as we passed it, but it should be a package that reflects the principles of Cut, Cap & Balance. We're committed to working with you -- and with our Republican colleagues in the Senate -- to get it done. No one is willing to default on the full faith and credit of the United States."

Rubin: That suggests to me that the House Republicans will pass a bill, send it to the Senate and let the Democrats decide if they want to send the country into default.



Lede of the Day

Politico: Congress is eating its peas without Barack Obama.


He says this like it's a good thing

Video at link: Geithner: "We Write 80 Million Checks A Month"

That's nearly 1 billion checks per year!

"Void after 90 days, Check number: 2,400,000,001" (of the Obama Administration)

I was flabbergasted that in the same interview Geithner said, twice, that the debt limit must be raised enough to get the government beyond next year's elections. They no longer even try to pretend their priority is the good of the country, but rather their own political survival.

But jk thinks:

You've got a bug in the Condo of Love!

I was screaming about this yesterday and used the "like it's a good thing" line on multiple occasions. Eighty million checks a month -- we can't possibly interfere with that! They's all real important!

And, I believe in the same interview, 40% of families get food stamps. Is that possibly correct?

To be fair, these stats did not happen under President Obama. These reflect the nation's long time embrace of collectivism.

Posted by: jk at July 25, 2011 4:14 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I think the food stamp gift card figure was 46 million not 40 percent.

And no, I have no surreptitious listening devices - I think that is just a universal reaction, at least among those who are net tax payers.

Posted by: johngalt at July 25, 2011 5:31 PM
But jk thinks:

Yup. 43.6 million, or 14%.

Whew! For a moment there, I thought we had a serious problem...

Posted by: jk at July 25, 2011 5:38 PM

Sen Dodd and Rep Frank say Eat Peas!

Yeah, I miss the woodcuts of the old Wall Street Journal, but photos allow for more editorial discretion (the photo credit is Reuters).

111th Congress Posted by John Kranz at 11:54 AM | What do you think? [0]

July 24, 2011

"Only Democrats can protect you from GOP extremists"

...or so the press would have us believe.

The internets are buzzing over the bombing and mass shooting in Norway that has now been confessed to by suspect Anders Behring Breivik. In a hysteria that surpasses that which surrounded the Jared Loughner murders, establishment media and left-wing bloggers are pouncing on the "facts" of this case for they appear to finally "prove" that TEA Partiers and other "right-wing extremists" are a threat to polite society.

The first print report I read was from MSNBC.com. "...police say suspect was right-wing Christian fundamentalist" reads the sub-head.

Breivik had belonged to an anti-immigration party and wrote blogs attacking multi-culturalism and Islam, but police said he had been unknown to them and that his Internet activity traced so far included no calls for violence.

A 1,500-page manifesto emerged that carried detailed planning for and direct references to an attack on the summer camp where most of the deaths occurred.

The warning to mistrust and beware of peaceful bloggers or anyone else who criticize illegal immigration, identity politics and any aspect of muslim political belief wears no veil whatsoever. Extra credit if said advocate happens to be Christian, or "right-wing."

Think I'm making this up? Think I'm overly sensitive or pointing out bogeymen? The same MSNBC article ends with a one-sentence paragraph:

Home-grown

Home-grown anti-government militants have struck elsewhere in the past, notably in the United States, where Timothy McVeigh killed 168 people with a truck bomb in Oklahoma City in 1995. [Boldface in original.]

So, you may be wondering, how do the press conclude that this nutjob is a "right-winger?" Partially from deputy police chief Roger Andresen's heavily modified quote:

"We have no more information than ... what has been found on (his) own websites, which is that is goes toward the right (wing) and that it is, so to speak, Christian fundamentalist." [Emphasis mine.]

But there is other evidence. The original MSNBC story hyperlinks a companion piece under the words "A 1,500-page manifesto emerged" wherein further detail is provided on the killer's "right-wing" and "anti-immigration" identity. The "right-wing zealot" "who liked guns and weight-lifting" was reportedly a member of Norway's Progress Party for a short time. While there's nothing cut-and-dry about European multi-party government the Progress Party is clearly not "right-wing Christian fundamentalist" as is being reported. The second largest party in Norway, it is a "conservative liberal" party, not to be confused with a liberal conservative party. My head spun with the various contradictory explanations and descriptions, but the most persuasive evidence to me about what ideas the European "Progress Party" holds came from the list of current conservative liberal parties around the world:

Andorra: Liberal Party of Andorra[2]

Argentina: Recreate for Growth

Austria: Alliance for the Future of Austria[2]

Belgium: Libertarian, Direct, Democratic[2]

Bulgaria: National Movement for Stability and Progress[2]

Colombia: Radical Change Party

Croatia: Croatian Social Liberal Party[2]

Czech Republic: Public Affairs[2]

Denmark: Liberal Party of Denmark[1][3][2]

Estonia: Estonian Reform Party

Faroe Islands: Union Party[2]

France: Civic Alliance for Democracy in Europe

Greenland: Feeling of Community[2]

Iceland: Liberal Party[2]

Japan: Your Party

Lithuania: Liberal and Centre Union[2], Liberals' Movement[2]

Moldova: Liberal Party[2]

Mongolia: Civil Will Party

Netherlands: People's Party for Freedom and Democracy[2]

Peru: Popular Action

Poland: Real Politics Union, Congress of the New Right

Romania: National Liberal Party

Slovakia: Freedom and Solidarity

Spain: Democratic Convergence of Catalonia, Majorcan Union

Thailand: Democrat Party

Uruguay: Liberal Party

[Emphasis mine.]

While not completely judging these folks by their titles they certainly don't carry any suggestion of individual rights or a limited, Republican form of government. Like Loughner and McVeigh before him, Breivik's anti-social extremism appears to emanate not from a profound respect for individual rights and limited government, but from the very cultural-identity politics, pitting the supposed interests of various groups against the others, so masterfully practiced on the left. But then the establishment media in the United States (and elsewhere) has indisputedly become quite cavalier when it comes to factual content in its journalistic product.

But jk thinks:

I will not defend the lazy, incurious, and biased media organizations. But I will defend one of my favorite words.

"Liberal" as used in Ludwig von Mises's "Liberalism" screams individual rights and is most conducive to limited, Republican government. Sadly, the word has been perverted in this nation by lazy, incurious, and biased media organizations.

Posted by: jk at July 25, 2011 10:14 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Indeed. I do my small part to reclaim it by calling myself: Liberal, Classical Liberal.

The idea of "liberal conservative" seemed to describe me as well, until I researched this story.

Posted by: johngalt at July 25, 2011 12:35 PM
But jk thinks:

How about "Nazi?"

Posted by: jk at July 25, 2011 12:41 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Nazi could describe this guy. In fact, a friend posted about the story: "Great, the master race is back... I hope the Norweigans can do the right thing and end this idiot!"

Posted by: johngalt at July 25, 2011 2:29 PM

Still the only guy posting Atlas Shrugged movie quotes

On May 8 some self-promoter bragged here that he posted the first movie quote on the IMDB 'Atlas Shrugged Part 1' page. He's at it again.

(My favorite has to be the line by Wesley Mouch.)


Review Corner

It's unusual to hate the ending of a non-fiction, history book. It is rarely a surprise "Huh? The South Lost?" And if you enjoy a book and its thesis for 14 chapters, the denouement is usually like the last day of the Tour de France: a pleasant ride without substantive changes.

But "Reckless Endangerment" broke the mold. Not enough to ruin the experience or force me to retract its recommendation, mind you, but certainly enough to lose one star and leave me with a queasy feeling for days after.

For fourteen chapters, Gretchen Morgenson and Joshua Rosner carefully construct a trenchant case against government's complicity in the housing bubble. The Community Reinvestment Act and the implied government "put" against Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are deftly told with names, dates and facts. The crony capitalism of Angelo Mozilo at Countrywide, the capture of regulators and of Congressional oversight are all documented in excruciating and maddening detail.

As I was warned, the authors mention but do not highlight loose money. Fed Chair Greenspan gets whacks for ineffective regulation, but not much for quarters of negative real interest rates. The repeal of Glass-Stiegel, which I consider a leftist bogeyman, gets a whole chapter while monetary policy gets mentions -- disappointing, but acceptable, it is their book.

But after they have layered and interconnected this airtight case, they graft a Chapter 15 onto the end that says "yeah, but it was really all about Wall Street Greed." "Squeeze me? Baking Powder?"

Maybe I read too much into it or am a tool for Goldman Sachs, but I thought this non-sequitor, afterthought compromised much of this excellent book. Unlike 1-14, Chapter 15 had little documentation and context. It was cribbed from the Matt Damon movie and contained all the hoary chestnuts like Goldman's shorting the securities it was selling. I know that offended Senator Levin. But the authors are more sophisticated and one expects them to understand that a trade has two sides, and that GS is a rather large entity. Were its traders bound to support the paper other divisions were creating, congressional hearings would be warranted.

In the end, though, the famed first fourteen are well worth the price and time. I give it four stars and a hearty recommendation.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 12:39 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Heh. Maybe the last chapter was grafted on by the editor or publisher after signoff by the authors on the final proof.

Posted by: johngalt at July 24, 2011 2:28 PM

Unfettered Capitalism

One of my favorite "party stopping" conversations is to attack the notion that the so-called Robber Barons accumulated wealth (with all the assumed deletrious effects) by use of monopolization of markets that - as those more wise that I - assure me always are in need of more regulation.

Thomas Woods article is a short and well-researched article attacking this icon of the nanny-staters. Here's what I think is the money quote:

contrary to the consensus of historians," acknowledges New Left historian Gabriel Kolko, "it was not the existence of monopoly that caused the federal government to intervene in the economy, but the lack of it."

The reaction of those who always assume more regulation is needed (who obviously have never researched LASIK, nor understand how cell phones got to be what they are) remind me of a joke we engineers like to tell: An engineer thinks that anything that's not broken doesn't have enough features.

But johngalt thinks:

Great topic. Looking forward to reading the linked article. But here's something to think about: Why do Americans always hold private sector bad actors responsible when they are caught doing bad deeds but virtually never their public sector co-conspirators?

Posted by: johngalt at July 24, 2011 12:09 PM
But jk thinks:

Maiden post I believe? Very well done. I'm sure all will join me in welcoming "Brother nb" to ThreeSources. I've enjoyed his insightful comments and aggressively recruited him (I think the red Porsche really clinched the deal...)

Clicking through, I'd recommend following the links back to part one and part two. Part one includes this jewel:

There is nothing natural or inevitable about the availability of this productivity-enhancing capital equipment. It does not fall out of the sky. It comes from the wicked capitalists' abstention from consumption, and the allocation of the unconsumed resources in capital investment.

Stossel (replaying on FNC most weekends now) used the same argument (from part one) with a union guy about forklifts: how could a business ever dream of a paying a union forklift driver's wage to individuals stacking pallets by hand?

Posted by: jk at July 24, 2011 12:23 PM
But jk thinks:

Duh alert. It was the author, Thomas E. Woods, Jr, on Stossel. (Video)

Posted by: jk at July 24, 2011 12:28 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:


Who's a maiden? :-)

Why do Americans always hold private sector bad actors responsible when they are caught doing bad deeds but virtually never their public sector co-conspirators?

B/c the mass media don't tell them about the miscreants in public office. Who rembers Dan Rostenkowski? Who can forget Ken Lay?

nb

Posted by: nanobrewer at July 25, 2011 1:29 AM
But nanobrewer thinks:


And who knew they made Porsche in mini-Matchbox? Not me, nooooo.....

Posted by: nanobrewer at July 25, 2011 1:38 AM
But jk thinks:

Ahem! Mini-Matchbox Collector's Edition®...

Posted by: jk at July 25, 2011 10:50 AM

July 23, 2011

An Honest Evaluation

I have long been dismissive of Bill Gates's philanthropic efforts. I suggested that his business efforts created far more benefit to society, spinning off thousands of millionaires (Evergreen State Ex-pat Dagny revised my initial estimates up significantly).

I also see Gates as a huge piece of the innovation creation that lets me work from home and be a productive citizen instead of an institutionalized disabled person. So, yeah, "Business Bill" is pretty high in my book. Yet, when Don Luskin compared him to Hank Reardon in his book, my impression was degraded by his philanthropy. "Giveaway Bill" looked in danger of becoming another sad emblem of anti-Capitalism -- along with some guy whose name rhymes with gore-and-fluff-it.

But Jason Riley interviews Gates about his education efforts in Was the $5 Billion Worth It? and Gates's humility and honesty have won me back. He is serious about the limitations of philanthropy in a large system with structural flaws:

"But the overall impact of the intervention, particularly the measure we care most about--whether you go to college--it didn't move the needle much," he says. "Maybe 10% more kids, but it wasn't dramatic. . . . We didn't see a path to having a big impact, so we did a mea culpa on that." Still, he adds, "we think small schools were a better deal for the kids who went to them."

The reality is that the Gates Foundation met the same resistance that other sizeable philanthropic efforts have encountered while trying to transform dysfunctional urban school systems run by powerful labor unions and a top-down government monopoly provider.


After decades of failure, the "powerful labor unions and a top-down government monopoly" schools assert every day that they are doing a swell job and should be given more money and authority. I give even "Giveaway Bill" props for a serious look at metrics and quantitative goals. (Sadly, the "..monopoly" words belong to Jason Riley and not Gates, but they are not provided without context from the subject.)

It's a great and thoughtful article -- holler if you want it mailed over Rupert's pay wall ("kick a dolly when he's down!")

Education Posted by John Kranz at 11:14 AM | What do you think? [0]

Revolutionary!

I wasn't going to have fun around here ever, but Brother jg started it:

UPDATE: Holy Cow! They have an entire series of these. Apollo 11 with MS Excel®

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 10:43 AM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

Sent with High Importance. Ha! Loved it!

Posted by: johngalt at July 24, 2011 2:44 PM
But johngalt thinks:

RE: Update - But it WAS done on a slide rule!!!

Posted by: johngalt at July 24, 2011 2:47 PM

July 22, 2011

Calling Bluff?

Late on a Friday it appears the Speaker of the House is ready to compare his poker hand to the President's. After being admonished by Obama to not "call my bluff" Speaker Boehner said today,

"In the end, we couldn't connect," Boehner wrote Republican rank-and-file lawmakers, accusing the president of wanting to raise taxes and being reluctant to cut benefit programs.

"Within minutes, an obviously peeved Obama virtually ordered congressional leaders to the White House for a Saturday meeting on raising the nation's debt limit." That doesn't sound like a man who is ready to lay down his hand.

But Keith Arnold thinks:

Sounds more like Phil Hellmuth on a short stack, to make the best use of your metaphor. And Mr. Obama doesn't sound like a man who's holding pocket aces.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at July 22, 2011 7:28 PM

IBD's Words for GOP to Live By

IBD Ed Page says in the debt ceiling debate, the numbers are not as important as the principles.

As the clock ticks down on their phony deadline for concluding deficit talks, the Democrats have lost all the public debates over more spending and higher taxes.

So their only hope is to manufacture a fake crisis, such as the supposed "default" date of Aug. 2, and with the media's help, force Republicans to agree to a bad deal.

It wouldn't be the first time.

In 1990, President Bush engaged in "crisis" talks over deficits. He broke his "no-new taxes" pledge, agreeing to a "deal" that included $2 in spending cuts for every $1 in tax hikes. Bush lost his job, and it took three years and a new Congress to undo the economic damage.

Today, in the meat grinder that is Washington politics, pressure will inevitably grow for a "fair and balanced" deal — that is, for the GOP to capitulate. Republicans should stay true to these conservative principles:

The three key principles are,

• No new taxes.
• Government must get smaller.
• The debt must shrink.

GOP negotiators should keep these basic budget principles in mind If not, they'll find, as Bush did, that American voters have long, unforgiving memories.
But nanobrewer thinks:

Great post JG. Let me add a sign of support from when I caught a bit of Rush (all I can usually stand) last week in fine form. (citing from memory and cropping out the megalomania) My friends were very alarmed, saying "The Republicans are about to cave, what shall we do?" My response was: I've been gone 3 whole days and republicans have not caved yet? That's way ahead of where we've been in the past!

So, whom to TS'ers think we can best reinforce with a Vox Populi chant to drown out that which is being bullhorned by the dinosaur media? Seriously: who do we call and/or post?

Posted by: nanobrewer at July 24, 2011 10:53 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I thought the reminder that George HW Bush made a deal against his stated principle was very appropriate at this juncture.

The spine I see in this game of D.C. Chicken is owned by about 70 freshman congressmen. They don't seem to have forgotten the 2010 mandate and why they are there. If yours is one of this elite corps, call him. If not, call yours and tell him you want him to get on the same end of the rope as those guys.

As for vox populi, I think we're seeing the debate finally become focused on "yeah, but where does the government get all that money they keep spending more of. A majority still believes that theft is wrong, and is learning that taxation is theft. This happened not because of a small number of loud voices saying it, but a chorus of everyday folk from all walks of life. It is evolutionary, if not revolutionary.

Posted by: johngalt at July 24, 2011 11:52 AM

Krauthammer - Kick the can, but only for 6 months

Investors- Best Debt Plan Would Shave a Half-Trillion

What to do now? The House should immediately pass the Half-Trillion plan, thereby putting something eminently reasonable on the table that the president will have to address with a serious counterproposal using actual numbers.

If the counterproposal is the G6, Republicans should accept Part One with its half-trillion dollars in cuts, CPI change and repeal of the CLASS Act, i.e., the part of the G6 that is enacted immediately and that is real.

Accompany this with a dollar-for-dollar hike in the debt ceiling, yielding almost exactly the time envisioned in the G6 to work out grander spending and revenue changes — and defer any action on Part Two until precisely that time.

The Half-Trillion with or without the G6 Part One: ceiling raised, crisis deferred, cuts enacted and time granted to work out any Grand Compromise. You can't get more reasonable than that.

Do it. And dare the president to veto it.



No Surprise, Don Luskin Says it Better

Don Luskin says what I think -- with a level of panache I have not achieved in a long time:

Right at 0:35 after the commercial and the introductions:

It is all blue smoke and mirrors and that's what's so great about it.
The last thing we want is for Washington to legislate -- in haste -- some dumb deal. You know what it's going to be: it will raise taxes this year and it will cut spending never.

What we need is to stand down, for both sides to disengage, for us to just avoid a default, avoid a downgrade. And we'll have a referendum on this in 2012 and the Republicans will sweep the Congress. And then we'll deal with this the right way, Larry. That is the most bullish scenario and that is exactly what is happening.


There endeth the lesson.

112th Congress Posted by John Kranz at 10:58 AM | What do you think? [2]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Quote of the Day candidate from Mike Ozanian: "We have $61 trillion in unfunded liabilities - why are we triple-A rated as it is?"

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at July 22, 2011 11:33 AM
But johngalt thinks:

What he said! I was going to cite that quote too (and it was Jim LaCamp, by the way.) Ozanian said, "I don't look at what the rating agencies are doing when it comes to U.S. government debt. I look at the price of gold." The US government is "triple-A rated" despite its president saying "I can't guarantee that checks will go out next month." It's just more politics of fear, from the White House and the bond raters.

Good segment. The consensus seemed to be yes, we can kick the can down the road for many more years before really serious problems occur. But in the entire seven plus minutes nobody asked Don, "What if the Republicans don't sweep congress?" Or beyond that, "What if 2012's Republicans see the electoral success of kicking the can down the road this year as a blueprint for future success?"

Posted by: johngalt at July 22, 2011 12:01 PM

The Dad Life

Can we have a little fun here? I got this in a (I think) hilarious e-card from dagny's sister for Father's Day. I've shared the link via email with a few friends over the past weeks but wasn't sure if I should post it for fear of copyright infringment. Come to learn that the card company stole it too - from a place called COTM*. So here's the Youtube. My kids and I have almost all of it memorized after "dozens and dozens" of plays.

* COTM is Church On The Move. A hip little modern ministry out of Tulsa, OK. Good for them, although I had to start skipping ahead when they said "being a real dad is about self-sacrifice, it's about putting the people that we love first and taking care of them" and then some song about sinners. [If you do it for your own satisfaction then it isn't sacrifice. If you don't get satisfaction from putting your family first then don't become a dad.] Awesome vid though.

But jk thinks:

Way fun. I think I am still a Whole Foods Parking Lot guy, but this is right up there.

Posted by: jk at July 22, 2011 10:41 AM

July 21, 2011

And, In Buffy News

Charisma Carpenter to be a bridesmaid at Julie Benz's wedding.

And "You Need To Get It Out That I'm A Proud Latina!" Done.

UPDATE: Never did score the Playboy Magazine. I suppose I'll have to get it someday as a collectors' back issue for $90 or something...

UPDATE II: $40 I dunno...If somebody wants to pay half, I'll send them the Derek Jeter interview.

Television Posted by John Kranz at 7:57 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

Not so interested in reading what Derek Jeter has to say. Now that Frankenfoods article, or the Gore Vidal essay...

Posted by: johngalt at July 22, 2011 1:17 AM
But jk thinks:

Okay, send me the twenty and -- as long as there is nothing on the back -- I'll send you Jeter, Frankemfoods, and Vidal...

Posted by: jk at July 22, 2011 10:38 AM

Chart of the Day

EDdebt_110721_345_png.png

From the IBD Editorial: Gang of Six Plan: A $3.1 Tril Tax Hike linked below.


Gangster Government

Shall we play, duelling pretty-smart folk? While the WSJ Ed page can find some nuggets to praise in the Gang-of-Six plan outline, the pretty-smart people at Investors Business Daily's Ed page see worse and worser.

And what details it does contain show that the gang has employed some of the most egregious budget tricks available to make the spending cuts look bigger and tax hikes smaller than they actually are.

The best example of this is the plan's tax proposal, which alternately boasts that it cuts taxes by $1.5 trillion and raises them by $1 trillion, but which more likely will result in taxes going up by more than $3 trillion.

And then there are the spending "cuts."

Plus, most plans take current spending levels as a given, and make "cuts" off this hugely inflated base, ignoring the fact that federal spending has rocketed upward by an astonishing 24% in just the past three years.

A credible plan would bring spending as a share of the economy back to prerecession levels. That would mean a spending cut in the neighborhood of $450 billion next year.

And the close:

The fact that more and more lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are willing to sign onto the phony Gang of Six plan, and that Obama would lend it his effusive praise, is a testament to why the country is in such deep fiscal trouble.

UPDATE: Washington Examiner Ed page - Gang of Six Plan is More Smoke and Mirrors


All Larry's Saying...Is Give the Go6 a Chance!

I opened myself to criticism for saying I'd accept all indignities in the Gang-of-six (Go6) plan. While I am not retracting, let us not forget compromise by its nature also includes some positive elements. The blog optimist bows before the world's optimist, Larry Kudlow. Kudlow has some concerns but:

There are a lot of known unknowns about the new "Gang of Six" budget proposal. But conservatives should hold back from trashing it. Why? There's a large, pro-growth tax-reform piece in the plan that would lower tax rates across-the-board. This is a stunning reversal of the Obama Democrats' soak-the-rich, class-warfare campaign.
[...]
And right now, the Gang of Six package is the first real pro-growth tax reform of all the debt-ceiling plans. It acknowledges the need for a growth element in order to solve our budget bankruptcy and limit spending, deficits, and debt. It would boost the economy and broaden the base (by reforming or limiting numerous deductions). As a result, more income would be taxed at lower rates in a rising economy, throwing off a hell of a lot more revenues than we're getting today. Rising revenues from lower tax rates are a good thing.
[...]
In the Gang of Six plan, there are a lot of planned spending cuts across-the-board for all the cabinet departments. There is spending-cap enforcement. And, importantly, the plan would repeal the CLASS Act, an Obamacare entitlement for long-term health-care insurance that would exponentially elevate future federal spending. This would mark the first step toward undoing Obamacare.

The WSJ Ed Page is a bit more skeptical, but highlights the same advantages
That's especially true of the tax reform outline, which suggests moving to no more than three income tax rates, with a top rate in a range between 23% and 29%. This would be "paid for" by closing loopholes and tax preferences, but a marginal rate tax reduction of that magnitude would be worth giving up a lot. It could be by far the most pro-growth tax change since the 1980s, and the U.S. needs faster economic growth now above all else.

In the end, I am sympathetic to those who claim the Democrats are over-hyping the downsides to not increasing the debt ceiling. But Kudlow and the WSJ Ed Page folk are pretty smart and are not anxious to test the theory. If responsible people were dictating policy, I'm sure we'd be fine. But Secretary Geithner and President Obama have a perverse incentive to capitalize on calumny. I, for one, don't trust them to put patriotism over politics.

112th Congress Posted by John Kranz at 12:29 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

When Senator McConnell said the President wants to give Americans smoke and mirrors this is what he was talking about. The seven-page plan is based on promises that the 2000-page bills that codify it will cut spending and make the proposed tax code changes. But as WSJ notes, "Senate committee chairmen would have wide latitude to write the new laws as they see fit. Anyone up for Max Baucus rewriting the tax code?" Rush read excerpts of the plan yesterday that said chairmen are responsible for delivering cuts "unless they adversely impact the most vulnerable Americans." No wonder the President is so giddy. The only thing he'd prefer would be the McConnell "last chance fallback" plan, which Obama said "is still on the table."

"Positive elements?" Maybe some positive ideas but the best we can hope for is the house will refuse to pass whatever resulting crap comes over from the senate. Then where are we? Credit limit raised - tax and spend (and regulate) status quo.

Posted by: johngalt at July 21, 2011 2:48 PM

HOSS

Rupert Murdoch's lovely wife, Wendi Deng. Here immortalized in Taiwanese CGI:

"Real" MSNBC video here, without the happy endings.

Hoss Posted by John Kranz at 11:45 AM | What do you think? [0]

Quote of the Day

Having built a small business into a big one, I can tell you that today the impediments that the government imposes are impossible to deal with. Home Depot would never have succeeded if we'd tried to start it today. Every day you see rules and regulations from a group of Washington bureaucrats who know nothing about running a business. And I mean every day. It's become stifling. -- Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus

Rumor and innuendo

A good friend assures me that Michelle Bachmann's loving hubby will doom her campaign.

Here's Second City's take.

I have not seen the smoking gun yet, but it seems a dangerous mix of "Pray the Gay Away" and, as Buffy would say, "Project much?"

And then there were zero.

2012 Posted by John Kranz at 11:07 AM | What do you think? [4]
But johngalt thinks:

Gasp. You're right! Did you know they met as campaigners for ... Jimmy Carter?

Posted by: johngalt at July 21, 2011 11:55 AM
But jk thinks:

Shocking! Just when you think you know somebody...

Posted by: jk at July 21, 2011 11:58 AM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

The Refugee must admit that the more he sees of her the more he likes. Not ready to jump on the Presidential bandwagon, mind you, but she's not the kook the press would like to paint.

Someone recently attributed a great line to Ronald Reagan: "My 80% friend is not my 20% enemy." This is worth remembering as we castigate our own for one position or another.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at July 21, 2011 12:23 PM
But jk thinks:

She's been the only real voice of liberty (well, Gov Johnson & Rep Paul, but you get me...) and I had one foot in the bandwagon.

I am not gonna hold her husband's sexuality against her, but it is going to add to her already considerable challenges.

Posted by: jk at July 21, 2011 12:53 PM

July 20, 2011

Don Luskin's Promo Video

Did I link this?

The book is great!

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 6:40 PM | What do you think? [0]

Harshin' Cain's Mellow

Maybe this will be the buzzkill Brother jg needs. John Stossel writes a generally favorable column on Herman Cain, but finds room for disappointment:

On other matters, Cain can be ambiguous -- special tax treatment for corn-based ethanol, for example.

"(M)ake sure the farmers who are dependent upon ethanol subsidies have the proper alternative distribution for the product."

How can a defender of free markets say that?


Cain -- like me -- supported TARP I but not the automotive bailouts. Stossel has some other concerns which will entice or repel different ThreeSourcers:
While Cain says he wants less government, he also supports bans on abortion and gay marriage, and the war on drugs. The failure of the war on drugs is obvious to me. I wondered why he didn't see it.

"First, get serious about restricting the amount of illegal drugs coming into this country. ... I refuse to accept defeat by simply legalizing it."

To me, that wouldn't be accepting defeat. That would be proclaiming individual liberty.


Add it all up, and I have to say that Mister Cain would be an awesome dinner companion, the best blogger in the lower 48, and a swell friend. But I do not see a reflexive defense of liberty qua liberty in his positions.

2012 Posted by John Kranz at 6:13 PM | What do you think? [0]

Police Caught on Video!

Being generally cool and polite and accepting a citizen's rights. I think y'all will enjoy this:

Hat-tp: Insty

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

What an idiot cop. This was a peaceful individual who was doing nothing wrong. The cop had NO reason to stop him...unless you define open carry as something "suspicious." And "suspicious" means a belief that there's criminal activity.

If this guy had any intent of committing a crime, he wouldn't be carrying openly.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at July 20, 2011 11:08 PM

July 19, 2011

Green Jobs!

Quick Charge Trucks Will Save Your Stranded EV

Hat-tip: Instapundit

[Standard disclaimer: if people bought electric cars with no tax incentive, I would applaud the innovation of support infrastructure]

But Boulder Refugee thinks:

...and a short eight hours later, he's ready to roll.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at July 19, 2011 10:49 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Bwaa ha haa. Bwaaaa haaaa haaa haaaaaa. BWAAAAA HAAAAA HAAAAAA HAAAAA HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

Hey buddy, can I give you a lift somewhere?

Posted by: johngalt at July 20, 2011 4:03 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

It would be slightly more cost-effective if the truck simply used the charging cable to tow the copper-top home.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at July 20, 2011 7:19 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Proof of the level of comfort, security and prosperity we have reached in life on earth is the ability one has to spend his waking hours seeking a recharge for his overpriced car instead of having to toil every possible moment to secure his family's sustenance.

Posted by: johngalt at July 20, 2011 7:39 PM

Kick Me Outta the Tea Party

I don't care how bad parts of it suck, I love the Gang-of-six plan! Crazy about it! Would marry it and bear it strong sons!

Leaders of a bipartisan "Gang of Six" senators said Tuesday that they've reached an agreement on a major plan to cut the deficit by more than $4 trillion. The deal, which was quickly endorsed by President Obama, pushed stocks higher.

The DJIA is up 208 at 3:25 EDT, Larry Kudlow will be giddy tonight.

But mostly, the GOP will be able to back down, get a few wins and live to fight another day. We (we kimosabe?) were getting our right wing asses kicked trying to govern from one house of Congress.

Yaaay tax hikes! Yaaay fake cuts that will never materialize! Sweet NED, we dodged a bullet!

UPDATE: Dan Mitchell of CATO has The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

But johngalt thinks:

Brave Sir Robin waits for the high-sign from the commanders upon high at the evening news. Pretty sure my kids won't be served by my following that strategy.

"What did you do back in those early days to oppose the evil confiscatory government daddy?"

"I voted for the TEA Party candidates and crossed my fingers that TV producers would tell them it's OK to cut the budget."

"So that's why we have to trade with these metal coins and hide them in jars in the backyard?"

"I'm sorry dear. We just couldn't risk another Democrat majority in congress."

Posted by: johngalt at July 20, 2011 7:01 PM
But jk thinks:

Glad I am cementing my position as blog pragmatist. One more try, if I may:

Bumping the debt ceiling on August 3 will make the GOP own the bad economy caused by the Administration's bad policies. Everything bad after then will be attributed to the crazy Tea Party Republicans who would not compromise.

Now, if you can win, I'll go with Barry Goldwater: "Moderation in pursuit of spending cuts is no virtue." But if you cannot win and your symbolic charge will damage future attempts at extending liberty, then I'll go with "Brave, brave, Sir Robin..."

Posted by: jk at July 21, 2011 10:58 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I no longer fear "you can't win." If we're going to call their plays anyway then we might as well lose.

Let's return to brother BR's football analogy.

Prior compromise has only resulted in extending the time to a socialist state.

This is the time for a goal line stand. "It's time for smash-mouth football." If not now, when? After we take control of the White House and both houses of congress in 2012? There's a better chance of that than ever now, but what if we don't?

The public is watching. The 2010 mandate has not yet been met. Call. Their. Bluff.

Posted by: johngalt at July 21, 2011 12:08 PM
But jk thinks:

Naah, I'm sticking with my war analogy. You want to die on this hill for no tactical benefit. Maybe they'll erect a bronze statue of you in the Ft. Lupton square.

When? When we take the Senate in 2012, yup. In the meantime, we may obstruct but it is foolhardy to pretend we are directing legislation from the House.

Posted by: jk at July 21, 2011 12:24 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I contend that your war analogy is your problem. In politics and in football, even when the other team scores you keep playing the game. I don't see fear of them being cheered for scoring as a valid reason to ... let them score.

You seem to think the fans will boo us if we play too rough. I think they'll boo us if we don't.

Posted by: johngalt at July 21, 2011 12:57 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Sorry, gotta hang with JG on this one and not because it's my stupid analogy.

Tonight, O'Reilly opined that the Tea Party must compromise in order to remain relevant. So, what is comprise in this case? Going broke in 2020 instead of 2016? Borrowing only 20% of our spending instead of 40%?

Bottom line is that we go broke if we lose the debate and we go broke if we compromise. If we go broke, let it be on the shoulder of the libs. We are literally fighting for our economic way of life. It's time to eat our peas.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at July 21, 2011 11:07 PM

NYTimes Rebuked by ... NYTimes

Jon Entine at The American, gives props to the NYTimes ombudsman:

The New York Times' public editor, Arthur Brisbane, weighed in on the much-criticized reporting on natural gas by Ian Urbina, issuing a sharp rebuke of the staff's reporting and editing.

I agree that "Thankfully it has the integrity to wash its dirty laundry in public." But I fear that the retraction will not create the buzz that the original piece did. Entine describes:
The Urbina "the sky-is-falling" express went off the rails completely on June 25 and 26 with two front-page stories asserting that shale gas reserves are being hyped by the natural gas industry. Urbina and the sources he quoted suggested parallels to Ponzi schemes, Enron, and the housing bubble.

Scientists at MIT and elsewhere, who have confirmed massive shale gas reserves but whose research was not referenced in the piece, immediately issued sharp rebukes of the Urbina narrative. As I noted in a critique for RealClearPolitics, the Times' article left out key editorial framing details, such as the dubious credibility of the only two identified sources. And as Michael Levi of the Council of Foreign Relations pointed out in his blog, this latest critique of shale gas consisted almost entirely of cherry-picked comments from anonymous sources.

I was pretty surprised by the original piece. Yes, it was the Times, but this was a serious anti-fracking hit piece on the News pages -- maybe I was in the tank for Big Gas after all. It successfully instilled doubt.

That's what I get for believing the New York Times.


Ohh boy, do you really want to start this?

Professor Mankiw links to a paper that describes the, umm, well, a relationship between GDP growth and uhh...

This paper explores the link between economic development and penile length between 1960 and 1985. It estimates an augmented Solow model utilizing the Mankiw-Romer-Weil 121 country dataset. The size of male organ is found to have an inverse U-shaped relationship with the level of GDP in 1985. It can alone explain over 15% of the variation in GDP. The GDP maximizing size is around 13.5 centimetres, and a collapse in economic development is identified as the size of male organ exceeds 16 centimetres.

Now this is a serious, academic instrument and I don't want to see discussion degrading into puerile puns and childish observations. Like for instance, "inverse U-shaped? Ow!" That's definitely out of bounds.

Hat-tip: N. Gregory Mankiw, Size Matters

But Keith Arnold thinks:

"Laffer curve." 'Nuff said.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at July 19, 2011 2:43 PM
But jk thinks:

Kknnnnccccchhhhhhhhhhhh!

Posted by: jk at July 19, 2011 2:50 PM

Epic Anti-Obama Rant

...and it's not even the pea eaters at ThreeSources. It's Steve Wynn, CEO of Wynn Resorts, on his company's quarterly conference call. Business Insider quotes the Democratic Casino Chief:

And I'm saying it bluntly, that this administration is the greatest wet blanket to business, and progress and job creation in my lifetime. And I can prove it and I could spend the next 3 hours giving you examples of all of us in this market place that are frightened to death about all the new regulations, our healthcare costs escalate, regulations coming from left and right. A President that seems, that keeps using that word redistribution. Well, my customers and the companies that provide the vitality for the hospitality and restaurant industry, in the United States of America, they are frightened of this administration. And it makes you slow down and not invest your money.

All that money on the sidelines? Wynn suggests some reasons that companies may be sitting on cash.

Hat-tip: Jim Geraghty's excellent (and free) Morning Jolt newsletter.


July 18, 2011

Somebody Else Said It

If I was ever on the Cain bandwagon, it has been some time since I had both arms and legs inside the coaster. But yesterday's FOX News Sunday interview terminated the ride.

I don't know who saw it, but (video at the link) Mister Cain believes that the good people of Murfreesboro, TN are within their rights to demand that a mosque not be built in their town. The only no-painful section of the interview is Cain's assertion that Murfreesboro is "hallowed ground to the people of Murfreesboro." (2:15)

2012 Posted by John Kranz at 7:50 PM | What do you think? [6]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I posed this to a friend last night: so does Cain think a town is within its "rights" to prevent a black person from owning an establishment?

A true right is that others cannot infringe upon your life, liberty and property. There is no such thing as a right to infringe upon someone's life, liberty and property, whether you're an individual or a town.

There is something to be concerned about with Sharia law, because it's about coercing Muslims (usually women) into living according their statutes. But conservatives are on the threshold of making Sharia a bogeyman.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at July 18, 2011 10:40 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I'm not yet saying I'm with Cain but I ain't throwin' him unner no bus neither.

There's a world of difference between discrimination of someone's identity and his beliefs. Rather than your black man owning a business example, consider a church of white men who believe in and practice bigamy. Seems I heard of a bunch of them being rounded up by the feds not long ago. I've yet to be shown how Islam's pre-modern commandments are compatible with an enlightened self-determination upon which western civilization is based.

Posted by: johngalt at July 19, 2011 1:30 AM
But jk thinks:

Sorry, man, it is under the bus for me. Too bad, Herman, it was a blast. Don't know if you saw the clip but there is one answer and only one answer: "freedom of worship is protected in the First Amendment."

I'm going all in with blog friend Perry on this. There are many facets of the Islamic faith that concern me. But they get their First Amendment rights like you get your Second. Violate the law and you are in trouble, but build a mosque and worship? Full protection.

Posted by: jk at July 19, 2011 11:40 AM
But johngalt thinks:

OK, OK... Illinois NAZIs and all that. My example was a poor one because I disagree with bigamy laws and government enforcement of them.

But we don't have to treat the good Mr. Cain as a leper. We just tell him, on this issue, we disagree. Just wait and see if he doesn't come 'round himself.

Rather than opposing mosques he should be calling attention to any and all efforts to accomodate Sharia in our legal system. A bright line must be drawn on that front, which was the gist of my prior comment.

Posted by: johngalt at July 19, 2011 4:54 PM
But jk thinks:

A pretty big slip from a guy who was already slipping down my list.

He very casually denies American citizens a fundamental liberty, and his statement comes off as pandering to an intolerant wing of the populace.

Posted by: jk at July 19, 2011 5:29 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes, but without Herman Cain who are you gonna support, given that Miss Titanium Spine suffers from "debilitating" migraine headaches?

It would seem we're all s'posed to fall in lock-step behind the ol' party insider, Rick Perry.

Posted by: johngalt at July 20, 2011 5:07 PM

Guest Review Corner

Blog friend JC puts this in the comments, but I want to promote it to a post:
========================================================

FINALLY FINISHED Virginia Postrel's book: The Future and its Enemies!

First, I would like to begin with apologies. The book challenge was started back in Feb? March? My friend jk quickly procured and read my challenge to him: Making Peace with the Planet by Barry Commoner. jk must be a speed reader. He finished far ahead of expectations and quickly posted his review. Me, on the other hand, dragged my feet, ordered the book to be delivered by bicycle messenger and read by candle-light to reduce the fossil fuel impact this book challenge would have on our frail planet! ;-)

Excuses, excuses...
I carried this book with me everywhere I went. Unfortunately, I rarely found/made time to read it. Once summer started, the hiking, biking, kayaking and RC airplanes took precedence over Postrel's book. I guess I would have done better with a deadline - I might have finished it faster (maybe not).

The Future and its Enemies was the toughest book I have ever read. When I read, I read slowly to ensure I grasp the full intent, content and supporting comprehension of the author. My biggest problem with this book is how frequently Postrel shifted from lucid clarity in her reflections on the status of society to sheer and utter ignorance about the topic she assumed to know so well. These radical shifts between reality and fantasy made my head reel every time I picked it up. I frequently went back to re-read the previous section to ensure I understood what she was writing so eloquently before she drifted off into ignorant assumptions about practices and policies that have no basis in reality. Again, it was a tough read.

Postrel's book should have been titled "The Dynamist Manefesto (and how to label and mock anyone who appears not to be a dynamist") She writes the book in support of her beliefs and positions posted at www.dynamist.com. Maybe the book should have been titled "Supporting the Dynamist Manifesto" - I don't know... the title and content were in conflict from my perspective but, then again, I would never claim to be 100% dynamist (or any other [insert term here]) based on Postre's judgmental assumptions.

Although the book made me wonder how a person could come to adopt the wildly ridiculous ideals presented in this book, I found a significant amount of useful material for reflecting on past and current technologies, industries and political policies. Case in point:

(quoting from p. 205) "It isn't terribly appealing to argue, for instance, that you want everyone else to be worse off so that your company can charge high prices, run inefficiently, and not worry about coming up with new and better products. Far better to invoke reactionary ideals of loyalty and stability, to suggest that turbulence is evil and competition suspect - or to offer technocratic promises of predictability and order against the messiness of experimentation. If you can also suggest that uncontrolled "technology" is plowing over "people", so much the better. The people inventing and using new technology don't count much in stasist calculations - and, chances are, they haven't yet gotten organized into an interest group."

Her statement is spot-on with regards to the battle between conflicting industries and/or political parties (fossil fuels vs. wind, solar and geo-thermal). Individual stasists in the FF camp are fighting hard to hold on to their old, inefficient and outdated product and the internal combustion engines that they feed. Ignorance, arrogance and greed seem to rule the day while rational thinking has taken a back seat to rhetoric.

My last point is regarding how Postrel believes that non-dynamists are working hard to destroy/slow/ruin the world we live in. She speaks as though technocrats, stasists, reactionaries and other “non-dynamists” are a growing population. I am not sure how she arrived at this conclusion but I challenge her to prove that human evolution is driven by epi-genetic proclivities that eventually eliminate dynamists from the human family. Fact is, the human family has always included reactionaries, stasists, technocrats and every other mindset we can imagine. We (humanity) would not have arrived at our current place in history if it were not for all of those conflicting views and philosophies. We need each one of these types of people in society to maintain a dynamic balance in our evolutionary growth and development. The world is much better off with our conflicting views than it would be if there was no conflict and/or no growth.

"Conflict is the gadfly of thought. It stirs us to observation and memory. It instigates to invention. It shocks us out of sheeplike passivity, and sets us at noting and contriving." - John Dewey

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 7:07 PM | What do you think? [3]
But johngalt thinks:

We can see that the scales have not yet fallen from our friends eyes. "Rational thinking" does not lead to a policy of government subsidy to prop up favored but unsustainable (economically) energy schemes.

I'll give the reviewer credit for apparently finishing the volume, which I'd now like to add to my short list, and for his creativity in contorting Postrel's critique of group-identity politics and anti-competitive regulation into something that comports with his own worldview. A clever bit of philosophical self-preservation having been exposed to said "wildly ridiculous ideals" as, I presume, an individual's right to work, prosper and retain his earnings.

Posted by: johngalt at July 19, 2011 9:39 AM
But jk thinks:

I chose this because I thought jc would like it, so score me .000 for predictive power. But I know of two others' reading it on my recommendation, both of whom like it. So score me .667 on literary recommendation.

For those who have yet to have the pleasure, it is not political, per se. It is more about philosophy and economics, which might underlie politics, but she does not take sides or endorse anything remotely partisan. Her stasists include both VP AL Gore and Pat Buchanan -- two people not normally linked politically. But her point is that both impede innovation and progress in their own way.

I find it a paean to Hayek, spontaneous order, organic bottom-up structure, and the progress of incremental improvement. One of the most memorable is the creation of contact lenses. Imagine going to the FDA today and suggesting that you're going to grind lenses out of glass and insert them in people's eyes.

Yet somebody (named in the book but I have forgotten) did. Then plastic, then gas-permeable, then disposable, now overnight, &c.

I will correct my brave interlocutor on only one point. The title is not a bellicose denunciation of those who disagree; it is a homage to Dr, Karl Popper's magisterial "The Open Society and its Enemies" (which was far more bellicose).

Ah, well, you can't win them all.

Posted by: jk at July 19, 2011 11:59 AM
But jk thinks:

Again, props for playing. I have made this offer a hundred times and my friend, jc, remains the only one who ever took me up on it. My niece has ordered Ron Paul's book from the library, but this is predicated on their being much she'd agree with in it. And she told me not to expect that she'd read the whole thing.

Posted by: jk at July 19, 2011 2:14 PM

Hoss

I try to hold back the tears that this man demurred on a presidential run in 2012.

At least a dozen states ended fiscal 2011 with surpluses. Indiana reported one of the largest, with an extra $1.2 billion in its accounts. Gov. Mitch Daniels, a Republican, on Friday authorized bonus payments of up to $1,000 for state employees. An employee who "meets expectations" will get $500, those who "exceed expectations" will receive $750 and "outstanding workers" will see an extra $1,000 in their August paychecks.

"No state anywhere comes close to Indiana's record of spending tax dollars carefully, with total savings over the last six years in the billions. Your spending efficiency has enabled us to stay in the black even as revenues plummeted," said Mr. Daniels, who recently flirted with a run for the White House but ultimately stayed out of the race.


Hat-tip: Instapundit

Hoss Posted by John Kranz at 6:58 PM | What do you think? [0]

Khaaaaaan!!!!

Perhaps the final death cry of the Teachers' Unions will not be directed at Governor Scott Walker, but at that Dangnabbited Internet Thingy and those who would educate online.

Terry Moe of the Hoover Institution (we used to have one of their vacuum cleaners) has a book and a WSJ guest editorial that says they have more to fear than the GOP:

The first is that they are losing their grip on the Democratic base. With many urban schools abysmally bad and staying that way, advocates for the disadvantaged are demanding real reform and aren't afraid to criticize unions for obstructing it. Moderates and liberals in the media and even in Hollywood regularly excoriate unions for putting job interests ahead of children. Then there's Race to the Top--initiated over union protests by a Democratic president who wants real reform. This ferment within the party will only grow in the future.

Then there's a crucial dynamic outside of politics: the revolution in information technology. This tsunami is only now beginning to swell, and it will hit the American education system with full force over the next few decades. The teachers unions are trying to stop it, but it is much bigger than they are.

Online learning now allows schools to customize coursework to each child, with all kids working at their own pace, receiving instant remedial help, exploring a vast array of courses, and much more. The advantages are huge. Already some 39 states have set up virtual schools or learning initiatives that enroll students statewide, often providing advanced placement courses, remedial courses, and other offerings that students can't get in their local schools.


I think the Unions could truncate this by outlawing electricity...

Education Posted by John Kranz at 5:41 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

Oh wait.

Posted by: johngalt at July 18, 2011 6:33 PM
But jk thinks:

Heh, I hope they are not quite that clever...

Posted by: jk at July 18, 2011 7:11 PM

TEA Party - Not just for demonstrators anymore

A professor and a grad student from the University of Virginia collaborated on an in-depth review of TEA Party progress (not just for Progressives anymore) and goals. James W. Ceaser and John York wrote:

Without the Tea Party, there would be no debt limit negotiations going on, just as there would have been no budget reduction deal last December. Without the Tea Party, President Obama would not be posing as the judicious statesman, but would be pushing --as in truth he still is--for more stimulus and further investments in high-speed rail. Whatever pressure now exists to treat the debt problem derives directly or indirectly from the explosion of energy that has been generated by the Tea Party.

In lambasting the Tea Party movement for its stubborness, Firsters have silently acknowledged what for two years they had all but denied. Instead of being in fact a front for racism or opposition to abortion, the "baggers," as they have been derisively called, are genuinely insistent on cutting spending and containing the growth of government. Everything is less complicated than it seems. Supporters of the Tea Party are who they said they were.

(...)

At the end of the day, the choice the nation faces is pretty clear--even if both sides will at one day face a point of reckoning. One side wishes a more constrained federal government and greater austerity in our welfare programs. (...) The other side wishes a federal government at and beyond the level of 2008 and beyond the current level. (...)

This is the choice the nation faces. As of 2011, it has not been definitively made. Perhaps 2012 will be the year of the Tea Party.

Clickers-through will find a listing of the "seven deadly sins" with which "baggers" have been charged by "Firsters" (and the genesis of that term.) Also, in the third-from-last paragraph, Obama's "phantom of the budget, staged with wondrous smoke and mirrors..."

Hat Tip: RealClearPolitics Monday

UPDATE: Having thought the charge that Obama is still pushing "investment" in high-speed rail was a rhetorical flourish, Michael Barone set me straight.

High-speed rail is not the biggest item in the budget. But it's emblematic of the Obama Democrats' theory that government spending can stimulate the economy.

That theory has been pretty well demolished by the fact of 9.2 percent unemployment. The clear signal from both economic markets and political polls is that we should cut federal spending back from 25 percent of GDP toward 20 percent.

It's not clear how far the Republicans can move toward this goal in the debt limit battle, or whether they can move any distance at all. But it's worth trying if only to clarify the choice before voters next year.


But jk thinks:

Excellent link. I'll add an excerpt if I may:

What Firsters have instead provided is a grab bag of charges from which they pick the one that best fits the need of the moment. On some days it may be that the Tea Partiers, as Michele Bachmann so colorfully expressed it, are a bunch of "toothless hillbillies coming down out of the hills," on others that they are some country-club Republicans teeing up for a round of golf. One moment the movement is weak and fragile, another it has captured the Republican Party[...]

Posted by: jk at July 18, 2011 3:39 PM

Reinstating Liberty Would Cost How Many Jobs?

James Pethokoukis has some substantive ammo against the claim that "Cutting spending by $111 billion, as some Republicans want to do, would cost the economy 700,000 jobs."

Now I will admit that I am not sure if those are jobs somehow not created, jobs somehow not saved or what exactly.

But the basic point is that less government spending means fewer jobs. But to believe that, you also have to believe that more government spending means more jobs.


Jimi P shares some data on both sides and comes down squarely in the "bull****" camp:
I have expressed my doubts about this before, as has economist John Taylor who, after examining data as opposed to models, concludes this about the Obama stimulus (bold is mine):
Individuals and families largely saved the transfers and tax rebates. The federal government increased purchases, but by only an immaterial amount. State and local governments used the stimulus grants to reduce their net borrowing (largely by acquiring more financial assets) rather than to increase expenditures, and they shifted expenditures away from purchases toward transfers. Some argue that the economy would have been worse off without these stimulus packages, but the results do not support that view.

Have to agree with his conclusion: "Kill jobs? The GOP plan would potentially be a powerful job creator."

The point essentially becomes a referendum on Keynesianism. David Boaz reminds (in a different context):

Everybody talks about the return of Keynesianism these days. We've ratcheted up federal spending in a vain attempt to put people back to work. But Lord Keynes himself suggested that 25 percent of GDP was the "maximum tolerable proportion" that the government should take. And total government spending in the United States is already around 39 percent and headed up if we don't make changes. We are creating an unaffordable and economically destructive transfer state.

But Keith Arnold thinks:

"Cutting spending by $111 billion, as some Republicans want to do, would cost the economy 700,000 jobs."

I have no problem with that, assuming it's public-sector jobs - bureaucrats, apparatchiks, welfare workers, DMV drones, BATF gunwalkers, IRS martinets, and the vast army of other slugs drinking from the government trough - that we're talking about. Imagine the powerhouse of the American economy, fueled by this addition of laborers suddenly having to find something useful and productive to do in order to survive!

Posted by: Keith Arnold at July 18, 2011 4:21 PM
But jk thinks:

I can think of 535 folks we could live without...

Posted by: jk at July 18, 2011 4:29 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Yes, but how many of those 535 could compete for productive jobs? Can you honestly imagine Sheila Jackson Lee, Henry Waxman, Barbara Boxer, or several hundred of those in this sample, seeking employment in this economy? Cruel man, you would force these people into bread lines and soup kitchens.

I can see myself hiring a downsized IRS desk jockey to do my bookkeeping, or maybe collections; for members of Congress, though, we'd gain by their firing (getting their hands off the controls), but not the secondary goal of turning them into productive members of society. I'm not convinced many of them have that ability.

Snark.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at July 18, 2011 6:30 PM

July 17, 2011

Pre-Review Corner

The stupidest line in the English language has got to be "I'm so behind in my reading." "Show me a person who is not behind in his reading," retorts me, "and I'll show you somebody with nothing to read." That rare -- as in never -- event caught me yesterday. I had finished everything on my Kindle. I went to the Kindle store for suggestions. They had several SharePoint books (that's work, ugh) and quite a few tatting books (I share an account with the lovely bride, something I recommend highly for his-and-hers kindlers).

And, Reckless Endangerment, which got the nod -- and $12.99 of my hard-earned fiat currency.

Today Rex Murphy has an extended review in the National Post.

First, a note about Reckless Endangerment's authors. They are, respectively, Gretchen Morgenson, a Pulitzer Prizewinning New York Times business reporter, and Joshua Rosner, a financial analyst -solidly competent and authoritative both. Reckless Endangerment does not come, in other words, out of the wild territory of hyper-partisanship or the backwaters of conspiracism.

Any person with a regard for the United States, or with some surviving faith in the virtues of representative democracy, will finish this book severely angry. It's a good game to play, should you start to read it, to keep count of the number of times you lay the book down in exasperated wonder that the American system could have been so twisted, so abused and so turned against itself.


I read several good reviews about this book when it came out, but I thought I would pass as I already agree with what I understand its conclusions to be. It seems to match pretty closely with my view of the Panic of '08 causes (though they have been accused of soft-pedaling monetary policy).

But what I am gonna do? Read SharePoint books on Sunday? I am just a couple of short chapters in, but I think it will be worth it. I have this vague notion that the Community Reinvestment Act forced banks to offer loans to subprime borrowers and include it on my list of government intrusion. But the second chapter really nails it down, from its passing in 1977 to a Boston Fed paper in 1992 that suggested broad racial imbalance in lending, to the ambitious strike of James Johnson at Fannie, to the substantive facts disproving the '92 paper.

All my friends believe greedy Wall Street guys and George Bush caused the problem to drive up Halliburton shares and get rid of Saddam Hussein -- I don't know, it gets murky sometimes. This appears it might be to the panic what Lawrence Wright's "The Leaning Tower" was to Islamic terrorism: a non-ideological and serious look at fundamental causes.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 11:45 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

I had a suggestion for anyone's reading list last week. The Mike Rosen show is a fairly good filter of authors on book promotion tours. While you read I move irrigation pipes, mow weeds, install sprinkler systems, move hay... I frequently envy you and always appreciate your Review Corner.

Maybe more than just your FB friends but certainly not "all" your friends believe the "greedy capitalists" narrative. But the non-partisan and non-conspiratorial disclaimer is proof that this is precisely how it will be treated by the government fat cats and those in their sphere. The fat cats by self-interest and the confederates by faith, all will be unpersuaded by even the most airtight case that "government did it."

Posted by: johngalt at July 17, 2011 4:38 PM

July 16, 2011

Review Corner

A quick review corner for David Heidler's Henry Clay: the essential American: this is a very well written book. It is interesting and informative, and the topic is truly one of the greatest of American statesmen. One encounters Clay as the rival when reading about William Henry Harrison or Zachary Taylor and the nemesis in any book about Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams, or John Tyler. It is fascinating to look at the same issues from Clay's vantage.

Heider (and his wife I believe) bring this colorful character to life through decades of monumental American history. He is interesting as the five-time-almost-President, but he is essential as the third of the Clay-Webster-Calhoun triumvirate.

The best thing about Clay in the end is that he, Calhoun and Webster remain our dream of Republicanism: brilliant men of passion, principle, and patriotism. <yoda voice>Not this stuff</yoda voice>: of Dodd and Grassley. Even in disagreement, it is easy to respect these men. The likes of, I fear, we may never see again. And Clay was the star of even that elevated company.

Superb. Four stars.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 11:38 AM | What do you think? [0]

Charles M. Blow of the NYTimes Meets Some Real People who Work

A great friend of this blog sends this link to ensure I don't miss this inspiring story of humans who perspire as part of their employment.

Last week I spent a few days in the Deep South -- a thousand miles from the moneyed canyons of Manhattan and the prattle of Washington politics -- talking to everyday people, blue-collar workers, people not trying to win the future so much as survive the present.

Jesus, Charles! I hope you got all your shots first!
They are women whose skin glistens from steam and sweat, whose hands stay damp from being dipped in buckets and dried on aprons. They are men who work in boots with steel toes, the kind that don't take shining, the kind that lean over and tell stories when you take them off.

Don't I know it, man. I, myself, wrote a particularly tricky recursive Java method just last week...

You will want the whole thing to read. As blog friend summarizes: "I've just come back from the most amazing journey where I was able to see working fellows. We were able to get right out of the car and talk to some of them. It reminded me of that Whitman stuff we used to have to read. Quite charming, but you wouldn't want to live there."

UPDATE: Taranto calls it Charles Blow's Wild Kingdom:

Blow concludes that "Washington could learn a lot about backbone from listening to them." He's seriously trying to be a populist! Instead, he ends up sounding like the narrator of a nature show describing some exotic fauna.

But johngalt thinks:

Hey, isn't this the work that "Americans are unwilling to do?"

I suppose this illustrates why the government "needs" to give "everyone" a college education, so that nobody has to do this work unless they are an <strike>illegal alien</strike> immigrant.

Posted by: johngalt at July 16, 2011 1:33 PM
But jk thinks:

I just want to hug one of those authentic, working Americans (y'know, if you could fumigate them first)...

The link provider points out that the author went to Grambling. You'd think toil was not such a foreign, Jane Goodall, concept.

Posted by: jk at July 17, 2011 12:19 PM

The Negotiator

"If you have a problem, if nobody else can help, and if you can find him, maybe you can hire... The Negotiator."

From The Daily Caller.


July 15, 2011

"Reality Hasn't Cooperated"

There's a phrase of the day for you: "Reality hasn't cooperated."

The 2007 energy bill vastly increased the volume of corn ethanol that must be blended into gasoline, though it also included mandates for cellulosic ethanol. These are the second-generation fuels made from stocks like switchgrass or the wood chips that George W. Bush invoked in his 2006 State of the Union. At the time, no such fuels were being produced on a commercial scale, but cellulosic producers and the green lobby assured Congress they were just about to turn the corner, and both the Bush and Obama Administration furnished handsome subsidies.

The EPA set the 2011 standard at six million gallons. Reality hasn't cooperated. Zero gallons have been produced in the last six months and the corner isn't visible over the next six months either. The EPA has only approved a single plant to sell the stuff, operated by Range Fuels near Soperton, Georgia. The company used to be a press corps favorite and has been lauded by the last two Presidents, but it shut down its cellulosic operations earlier this year to work through technical snafus.


The arrogance of our King Canutes in Congress mandating things they do not understand is high on the list of depressing affronts to liberty and dynamism. It is one thing to make the Soviet Five-year plan assertions that President Obama loves "242,000 vehicles with 16.5 inch tires by October 19th!" But it is worse to actually enact them legislatively.

Bonus Unicorn reference at the link (sans flatulence, sorry...)

Oil and Energy Posted by John Kranz at 12:01 PM | What do you think? [0]

The Stand Up Economist

standupeconomist.com

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 11:14 AM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

Not bad. A pretty good thumbnail sketch of <strike>Threesourcers</strike> Eatourpeasers. I know we represent both kinds of libertarian but I'm not sure who is the Canadian drug-dealing scientist.

Posted by: johngalt at July 16, 2011 12:24 AM
But jk thinks:

I enjoy Yoram a great deal. I think his continued work on global warming has encouraged his academic instinct to distrust the right more that the left. Or perhaps I am getting pricklier.

Posted by: jk at July 16, 2011 11:33 AM

July 14, 2011

Tall Woman Speak Truth

It's over. The GOP has everything to lose on the debt ceiling negations, and one of the coolest charts on federal spending ever.

Hat-tip: Instapundit, who curiously gives a long excerpt, commentary, multiple updates, and then commentary on them. While I give "Heh." It is like you woke up in bizarro world this morning...

But johngalt thinks:

It took a while but I finally figured out what's wrong with this picture, i.e. your "coolest chart on federal spending ever."

McArdle uses it to show that the debt limit must be raised to keep our interest rates from rising. But the largest item in her spending chart is "Pensions and Interest on National Debt." Not sure why those two get lumped together but excuse me? We must allow Washington to borrow more money to pay the interest on what they've already borrowed? And this improves our government's credit rating and, as a result, the rates it gets on future borrowing? Bizarro World is right.

Posted by: johngalt at July 18, 2011 2:44 PM

Quote of the Day

But even if one still believes that the bailouts were necessary to save the American auto industry (or to promote the Italian auto industry, as the case may be) that still doesn't excuse the egregious lawlessness and corruption of the bankruptcy process that took place in these cases. Even if was necessary for the government to intervene to prop-up Chrysler, does that justify plundering Chrysler's secured bondholders (including, among others, the Indiana Firefighters and Teachers Retirement Plans) simply to line the pockets of the United Autoworkers? In fact, finance scholars Deniz Anginer and Joseph Warburton have found that the government's intervention in the GM and Chrysler cases destabilized bond markets as investors adjusted to the new reality of the potential for government bailouts of unionized and politically-connected firms. -- Todd Zwicki
The whole piece is awesome on stilts.

Social Security's Magical Unicorn Guarantee

I must admit that my darling baby sister recognized this one before I did. Now I've found a nice writeup on it in IBD Editorials:

Wait! What happened to Social Security's "guarantee"? You know, the iron-clad assurance of Social Security benefits in exchange for paying into the program your whole working life? It's something Democrats constantly talk about, particularly when attacking Republicans who propose privatizing the program.

As Nancy Pelosi once put it: "Social Security has never failed to pay promised benefits, and Democrats will fight to make sure that Republicans do not turn a guaranteed benefit into a guaranteed gamble."

The AFL-CIO warned in 2005 about "President Bush's plan to replace Social Security's guaranteed benefits with risky private accounts." The AARP describes Social Security as "the guaranteed part of your retirement plan." Etc., etc.

Turns out, this "guarantee" is a lie.

And the close...

Whatever happens, the fact remains that Obama has accidentally made a pretty good case for Social Security reform by revealing the program for what it really is.
But jk thinks:

Debt deal or not, they can always just pull some money out of the lockbox, right?

Posted by: jk at July 14, 2011 3:55 PM
But jk thinks:

Dang, beaten to the punch on my lock box joke: Insty

Posted by: jk at July 14, 2011 3:58 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Carnak says:

(1) Your check is in the mail.
(2) The cake.
(3) Social Security Trust Fund.

"Name three things that are a lie..."

Posted by: Keith Arnold at July 14, 2011 6:01 PM
But jk thinks:

May a thousand unfunded liabilities infect your camel...

Posted by: jk at July 14, 2011 6:17 PM

Screw 'Em -- They can Stay Poor!

Stephen Hayward's Energy Fact of the Week (and you though ThreeSources was bad...):

The motion graphic below demonstrates the relationship between rising energy use and falling poverty from 1981 through 2009. The vertical axis represents the number of people living on less than $1 a day in China, while the horizontal axis plots China's total energy use.

China’s total energy consumption during this period increased 406 percent. In concrete terms, it means that for every increase of 1 quadrillion BTUs, 8.2 million people were lifted out of poverty. Everyone likes to wring their hands over China’s coal use, but these figures work out as follows: for every additional 4.5 million tons of coal used in China, or for every additional 450,000 barrels of oil consumed, 1 million people were lifted out of poverty.


My enviro friends refuse to accept this correlation when I suggest it. And, I'm certain that when I send this the next time it happens, they'll assert that it could be done with solar or wind or magic beans (jg's friend's "unicorn farts" remains the best shorthand). But it is clear that it is cheap and available (scalable) power which is lifting these people out of poverty.

VP Gore can invest in geothermal for his two mansions, that is not available to help these people move form <$1/day to the middle class,


Other Than That, the Story Was Accurate

I'm just borrowing Taranto's line, I'll wager NewsCorp's deductions that he'll use it as well:

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp did not get a $4.8 billion tax refund for the past four years, as I reported. Instead, it paid that much in cash for corporate income taxes for the years 2007 through 2010 while earning pre-tax profits of $10.4 billion.

More at TaxProf, who ruined David Cay Johnston's first day at Reuters by pointing out this wee little error.

UPDATE: 1 out of 1 for the day:


July 13, 2011

Yes dear, whatever you say.

Garden Grove, California woman, 48, drugs husband, 51, with an unknown substance in his food, binds his unconscious body to a bed, amputates his penis with a 10 inch kitchen knife as he awakens, and deposits the severed organ in the kitchen garbage disposal and initiates its operation. "He deserved it," she told police who arrived in response to her 911 call.

Sounds like the dude must've been pretty danged evil. I wonder what he did to her?

The couple married on Dec. 29, 2009. The victim filed for divorce in May, citing “irreconcilable differences,” according to court records.
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Rule number one: when you're going through a bitter divorce with someone, (1) don't be alone with them in a place where they have access to weapons, (2) don't eat or drink anything they've prepared for you, and (3) if you're feeling queasy, leave - go home or go to the hospital. Do not, under any circumstances, lie down in their bed and fall asleep. That's just begging for trouble.

"... pieces of penis were recovered and taken to UCI..." And delivered where, to the pathology lab for identification? 'Cuz they're not going to sew it all back together after it's been osterized.

"... their relationship seemed strong and going well..." Yeah, except for that little divorce thing, I mean.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at July 14, 2011 11:51 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I can't find it now but I did see a story that suggested it could be reassembled. I couldn't bear to click through on it though.

Posted by: johngalt at July 14, 2011 2:42 PM
But jk thinks:

The Six Milion Dollar Man theme song swells in the background...

Posted by: jk at July 14, 2011 3:45 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

They sew that back together, and the Six Million Dollar Man theme song is going to be the ONLY thing that does any swelling. I'm not betting that the Frankenmember would be in any kind of functional state after surgery.

That notwithstanding, I'm sticking with Rule Number One - it just seems like common sense.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at July 14, 2011 5:42 PM
But jk thinks:

Ayyyup. Don't say you were not warned, ThreeSourcers.

Posted by: jk at July 14, 2011 5:48 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"Frankenmember." Franken-furter?

Never mind.

Senator Al, call your office.

Stop me! Stop me!

Posted by: johngalt at July 15, 2011 4:32 PM

Obama at the Bat

From AngelFire, H-T: my biological brother, via email.

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 6:29 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Whew. That was close!

Posted by: johngalt at July 13, 2011 7:40 PM

Leftist Democrat cites Laffer; Calls for Tax Cuts to Grow Government Revenue

First-term Democratic Congressman Jared Polis, representing Colorado's second congressional district including the very left-leaning city of Boulder, wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal today that among other things suggested lowering tax rates "to more reasonable levels" in order to "make revenues increase." He calls it Raise Revenues, Not Taxes.

In my home state of Colorado, and in 15 other states and the District of Columbia, local revenues have increased by millions of dollars since lawmakers decided to legalize and regulate medical marijuana. By reducing the current 100% confiscatory tax on marijuana to more reasonable levels, we can make revenues increase. If we were to nationally legalize, regulate and reduce federal taxes on marijuana, we could receive as much as $2.4 billion in additional revenue annually, according to a 2005 study conducted by Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron.

If true, this could be the tip of a very large iceberg of new government funds. If lowering tax rates on the relatively small market commodity marijuana can bring in upwards of two billion dollars the results would be even more substantial when applied to mainstream commodities such as tobacco, transportation, communications, and even coal, oil and other fuels. And there's no reason to limit this new principle to excise taxes. Income taxes, capital gains taxes and inheritance taxes are all ripe targets for this simple approach to replentish the government's coffers.

Please call or write your congressman today and urge them to give their full support to Representative Polis' plan to pay off the debt and grow the economy buy cutting tax rates wherever they may be found. Congressman Polis is brilliant and his idea could be the bipartisan breakthrough we've been waiting for! And if his plan is implemented he deserves to be re-elected for as long as he remains its champion.

But jk thinks:

At the risk of contravening the gag rule...

I think the point is that the Feds currently have a ridiculous fake tax on marijuana that exists only to provide the enforcement community with an Al Capone prosecution play: "Your honor, Mister Dogg failed to purchase tax stamps for that illegal stuff he was caught with." A bona-fide tax similar to liquor, collected by legal vendors would create an actual revenue source where none exists now.

Posted by: jk at July 13, 2011 6:24 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I'm not very well versed in marijuana law or taxation, but if Congressman Polis says reducing the tax rate on it will increase tax revenues I'm willing to take him at his word. Let's do it! Reduce the tax rates on marijuana and every other excise, income, capital gains, inheritance and any other tax across-the-board. I'm sure such a bill could easily be written within the 2000-page scope that has become fashionable since January of 2009. Then we can avert a budget crisis and consider omnibus goverment spending reform without fear, uncertainty and doubt.

Posted by: johngalt at July 13, 2011 9:15 PM

More on Mamet's Conversion

John Stossel has a column today on "former brain dead liberal" David Mamet.

What changed?

"I met a couple conservatives, and I realized I never met any conservatives in my life. ... (O)ne started sending me books. His books ...made more sense than my books."

Great line. Of course, we've discussed Mamet on these pages before.

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 2:02 PM | What do you think? [0]

Libertarian Debt Solutions -- from a Democrat

And not just any Democrat -- my personal Democrat!

Jared Polis (D - CondoOfLove) pens a guest ed in the WSJ today that sparkles with good ideas. It's a read the whole thing, and Coloradans without subscriptions should ping me for an email (UPDATE: It's on his site).

He has four revenue ideas that all fall outside of tax increases in my book:

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found that the bipartisan 2007 Senate immigration bill would have boosted revenues by $15 billion by 2012 and by $48 billion by 2017. The Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, also found that forcing undocumented immigrants to get right with the law would boost their productivity and thus the incomes of U.S. households $180 billion a year by 2019, thereby further increasing tax revenues.

New revenues can also be found by changing the way we treat Internet gaming, which is currently both underground and offshore. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement currently spends millions of dollars trying to shut down and prosecute Internet gaming sites, but they remain a casual click away for any interested gambler. Legalizing and regulating online gaming, as Reps. John Campbell (R., Calif.) and Jim McDermott (D., Wash.) have proposed, would generate $42 billion in additional revenue over the next decade, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation.

In my home state of Colorado, and in 15 other states and the District of Columbia, local revenues have increased by millions of dollars since lawmakers decided to legalize and regulate medical marijuana. By reducing the current 100% confiscatory tax on marijuana to more reasonable levels, we can make revenues increase. If we were to nationally legalize, regulate and reduce federal taxes on marijuana, we could receive as much as $2.4 billion in additional revenue annually, according to a 2005 study conducted by Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron.

We can also institute a one-year amnesty program for federal taxpayers. This can quickly raise substantial revenues, boost our economy, and provide a broader tax base as former tax cheaters come out of the shadows and file returns. To reduce the fiscal burden on states, we could implement state tax amnesty programs alongside any federal one. According to economist Arthur Laffer, a one-year amnesty program could provide $800 billion to $1 trillion in additional revenues over 10 years.


Not sure my blog brothers will dig all four, but you have to give props to a leftist Democrat's quoting CATO, Jeffrey Miron, and Art Laffer.

UPDATE: Free link added.

112th Congress Posted by John Kranz at 12:21 PM | What do you think? [6]
But johngalt thinks:

I'll deftly avoid the other hot-buttons and feign astonishment that "if we were to ... reduce federal taxes on marijuana, we could receive as much as $2.4 [baba]billion in additional revenue annually." Gosh, it seems like we've heard that somewhere before from someone. What if we tried it on other stuff, and not just marijuana? Imagine the possibilities!

Oh good grief. Then I read the last paragraph. Criminy Jared, you'll admit it's a good idea and it will increase tax revenues while also growing the economy but you're only willing to do it TEMPORARILY? Respectfully, you're an asshole.

Posted by: johngalt at July 13, 2011 12:52 PM
But jk thinks:

Hey! That's my ass -- er, Congressman -- you're talking about!

Agreeing to a short term extension on an immigration and marijuana gag rule, any interest in gaming or tax amnesty?

Are we on the same paragraph for your temporary concern? I think an amnesty program has to have an expiration date, does it not? Or were you talking about another item?

I seriously like the whole package, and my estimation of my representation has skyrocket this morning. But, I'll put you down as a "no," then...

Posted by: jk at July 13, 2011 1:05 PM
But johngalt thinks:

The only thing I agreed to on immigration and weed was not to talk about them at the moment. And I misread the paragraph on taxpayer "amnesty." I saw "raise substantial revenues, boost our economy, and provide a broader tax base" in the same paragraph as the name "economist Arthur Laffer" and mistakenly believed Polis was pitching temporary tax rate reductions. I hereby retract "asshole." But reproach is still due on the basis that he fails to recognize why taxpayers choose to cheat in the first place.

We needn't get too involved in discussion of how this might be received however, or if being packaged like this increases its chance of passage via the magic formula of "compromise." The real reason for floating this proposal is not legislative, but electoral. Like our [CO] two Democrat senators he's hurriedly endorsing conservative ideas to improve his image. Looks like it's working.

We'll talk again when Majority Leader Reid speaks as glowingly of this as he did the Minority Leader's debt-ceiling "fallback" plan. In the meantime this proposal should be used, electorally and legislatively, to focus a laser on the proposition that reducing tax rates to more reasonable levels can make revenues increase. Like this.

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

Yup, that's a gag rule. I'm just finishing up the (very good) Heidler biography on Henry Clay. The gag rule was employed in the 27 Congress with minimal success to continue House business without interruption from slavery discussions. I concede that you're not conceding any more than that.

I don't know what's in Representative Polis's heart. But I know that the rest of his caucus and the President he shares a party with have offered nothing but "tax the rich" and "corporate jets" and "a clean debt-limit increase." Here comes my Congressman, with a call to raise revenue by raising liberty -- I'm all freakin' ears.

I don't know that his conversion is complete, and I share your circumspection that this will go no further than dividing two philosophical brothers. But the ceiling debate is all about getting things done that could not get done without the gun pointed at poor granny's head.

Each of these gives his caucus revenue they want, but also increases my personal freedom. Yay Jared!

Posted by: jk at July 13, 2011 6:18 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Not gonna let me have my fun, are ya.

Posted by: johngalt at July 13, 2011 7:41 PM
But jk thinks:

Not while they's peas to eat.

Posted by: jk at July 14, 2011 1:53 PM

My Favorite Hoss

The tea party/talk-radio expectations for what Republicans can accomplish over the debt-limit showdown have always been unrealistic. As former Senator Phil Gramm once told us, never take a hostage you're not prepared to shoot. Republicans aren't prepared to stop a debt-limit increase because the political costs are unbearable. Republicans might have played this game better, but the truth is that Mr. Obama has more cards to play.
Phil Gramm, top hoss of all time...

The WSJ Ed Page is suitably pessimistic today. And why not? The Administration is playing for keeps. They'll starve granny to win an election (I would too, that was not a moral reproach) and we should never forget that a compliant media will help them pin the blame on the GOP.

Et tu, Ruperte? Even FOX Business this morning twisted the knife. The local FOX affiliate has a 40-second interview with FOX Business as part of the morning news. I usually look forward to it as a brief respite of adult conversation. This morning, the local newscaster asked Lauren Simonetti whether the no SS Checks threat was real. I was awaiting a smackdown that never came. "Yes, it's real; that would add to the debt limit," said the lovely and normally talented network anchor. It's as technically true as it is improbable, but, dang, when you've lost FOX...

If you're in a segue mood, Insty links to a Fiscal Times piece that assures the President that he has overplayed his hand.

President Obama has run into a brick wall. It's called the will of the people. The reason he can't force Republicans to raise the debt ceiling is that he will not countenance a deal that cuts spending but doesn't raise taxes. He seems unable to grasp that 236 Republicans in the House of Representatives and 41 Senators have signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, promising that they will "oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and /or businesses...and oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates."

I'm taking the pessimists' side today. The forces of goodness and light do not have the power.

Hoss Posted by John Kranz at 11:37 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

I am resigned to the reality that the debt ceiling will rise, but I'm still confident there will be no tax rate hikes. You see, that titanium spine I credited Sen. McConnell with four posts down was premature.

McConnell has proposed a "last-choice" "fallback" solution to the impasse: Give the President authority to raise the credit limit all by himself, limiting the increases to force multiple embarassing votes.

The proposal would force Democrats to cast multiple votes to raise the debt ceiling before the next election, while giving Republicans the chance to vote against that without risking a default.

And calling the President's bluff on spending cuts by requiring him to present a list of spending cuts he would support that is equal in size to the borrowing limit hike.

"If he presents a phony plan, the world can see and we go into the 2012 election and deal with those Democratic senators and president who didn't take this seriously," said Grover Norquist.

Those of us who are willing to "let the cards fall where they may" and witness this so-called "default" will just have to settle for a pyrrhic victory (if we can get even that.)

Posted by: johngalt at July 13, 2011 12:35 PM

July 12, 2011

Does the NL Need to Eat Peas?

Dan McLaughlin (@baseballcrank) has an interesting piece on Grantland on the economics of the DH:

But let's instead focus on another aspect of the DH rule: the practical effect of the rule on the game's economic structure, and why the economic effects of the DH rule are precisely why we can neither get rid of it nor extend it to the National League.

Mr. Crank finds a $1Million+ differential between NL and AL salaries, and more substantive differences between AL contenders.

I'm not a fan (I may have mentioned that once on the blog a long time ago...) but I confess what some people consider a bug, the confusion in interleague play, I consider a feature. I enjoy watching the visiting team squirm under the unexpected situational imperatives.

Posted by John Kranz at 5:59 PM | What do you think? [0]

Imagine Whirled Peas...

Did I mention I don't really care for green?


President Obama as Sheriff of Nottingham

President Obama and the Democrats love to frame the debate over redistribution of wealth as "millionaires" versus "working folk." In their fantasy scenarios they are brave and virtuous Robin Hoods, "taking from the rich and giving to the poor."

Iain Murray's new book Stealing You Blind - How Government Fat Cats Are Getting Rich Off of You explains that a curious thing happens to much of that money on the way from one pocket to the other.

Remember when we used to call government employees “public servants”? They’re servants no more—now they’re bureaucratic masters of the universe, claiming inflated salaries (up to two times as much as private sector employees) and early retirement with unparalleled pensions and benefits. And how do they spend their time? When they’re actually working, they spin red tape and regulations that make your life harder (and their lives easier), your taxes higher, and your share of the nation’s debt unsustainable.

In Stealing You Blind, you’ll discover:

- Why the wealthiest congressional district in America is in a recession-proof suburb of Washington, D.C.

- How the Department of Transportation went from having one employee making $170,000 or more to having nearly 1,700 making that much—during the peak of the recession

- Why even FDR thought federal workers shouldn’t be allowed to unionize

- How state, local, and federal bankruptcy could be coming your way thanks to public employee union greed

- Why bureaucrats regard taxpayers as sheep to be shorn—and how they do it

Robin Hood did not "take from the rich and give to the poor" but rather stood up to the rulers of a tyrannical government bent on ever greater taxation, calling them out on it in the public square. "Brave, brave sir Robin!"


Now it's getting interesting

On the decorus floor of the United States Senate, the minority leader says the President of the United States wants Americans to have "smoke and mirrors, tax increases, or default."

Even more devastating was "I have little question that as long as this President is in the Oval Office a real solution is probably unattainable."

But johngalt thinks:

This "titanium spine" business seems to be contagious.

(Follow the link to a HuffPo piece wherein a South Carolina GOP official says, "I do think they think there's a winnability factor here, based on her dynamism and her passion, that they maybe don't see in Mitt Romney.")

Posted by: johngalt at July 12, 2011 3:28 PM
But jk thinks:

She lit the world on fire in her appearance on Kudlow Monday night. Media figures always want to pull up some old social conservative quote, but left to her devices, she talks spending and taxes and liberty in a way none of the others does.

Your linked piece in the comment closes with "She's 50 times smarter than the people who think she's stupid" and I must say that she is easily shaping up to be the pride of the primaries. I find myself drifting into her camp.

Posted by: jk at July 12, 2011 4:20 PM

You Don't Have to Like It

You don't have to like it, you just have to eat it. This blog is eatourpeas.com until it is no longer even slightly amusing...

But johngalt thinks:

Oh yes. You are naughty!

Posted by: johngalt at July 12, 2011 2:41 PM

Pop the Ryan Bubble

Today's lesson: life is not ThreeSources (it may be "eat our peas," but that's not important right now).

Jennifer Rubin -- whom I admire greatly -- touts Rep Ryan's brutal, factual takedown of the President's infactualness:

The president in public wants to operate on platitudes and generalities. Work together. A balanced approach. Eat your peas. The White House is avoiding specifics for a reason: The facts reinforce the public's sense that the real issue is that we are spending too much. Republicans would do well to speak in specifics and to emphasize that real "balance" means spending at a slower rate (you'd think Ryan's plan would actually halt the upward climb in spending; it merely restrains it a bit more than Obama's) and keeping the size of the public sector in check so the private sector can grow and create jobs.

Once again we see that Ryan is the most effective spokesman and advocate for Republicans, in part because he is thoroughly versed in the details. Imagine if he were to debate Obama. In the fall of 2012. On national TV. With the presidency at stake. Is there any doubt who would come off better?


Yes, Ms. Rubin, over here, way in the back... I'd love to see a Ryan - Obama smackdown and I know you would, and there are a few folks where I blog, and...

But the rest of the country would hear:

  • Back to Bush
  • Ryan's plan raises the deficit
  • rich people pay their fair share
  • grandma doesn't get her checks
  • Warren Buffett!

Followed by:
  • 4.8% rise in the rate of deficit spending to GDP
  • Amortized over ten years, the liabilities of something something rise to somewhere
  • grandma doesn't get her checks

I'd buy tickets to hear Paul Ryan (HOSS - WI), but I think people confuse him with a Gov. Christie or Daniels that can speak factual truth without boring facts.

2012 Posted by John Kranz at 12:06 PM | What do you think? [0]

The American Public are Stupid

Obama: 69% of Americans are against raising the debt ceiling because they haven't thought about it like and his fellow technocrats have:

Obama Administration Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 10:51 AM | What do you think? [2]
But jk thinks:

Professional politicians know they must EatOurPeas.com.

Americans "have a lot on their plate" but an Althouse commenter "hopes they have room for peas!"

Posted by: jk at July 12, 2011 12:06 PM
But johngalt thinks:

As bad as the jaw-dropping answer was the leading question: "Isn't the problem that you and others have failed to convince the American people that we have a crisis here, and how are you going to change that?" Clearly Chip Reid is convinced "we have a crisis." Therefore, I guess it must be so.

How about this Chip: "In my version of reality the only crisis is that government's credit limit might get raised."

Posted by: johngalt at July 12, 2011 2:50 PM

July 11, 2011

Yeah, This Is Going to Work...

Boulder is going to start its own environmentally friendly utility:

The prospect of Boulder turning out a major, investor-owned utility and creating a municipal operation is being watched across the country.

"If a large community like Boulder can do it, it sets an example for everyone," said Ursula Schryver, a vice president at the American Public Power Association, which represents the country's 2,000 municipal electric utilities.


This is not a joke, or at least a good enough one to fool The Denver Post

But jk thinks:

I think the phrase I am looking for is "What could possibly go wrong?"

Posted by: jk at July 11, 2011 7:53 PM
But johngalt thinks:

In an effort to keep Boulder's business Xcel has proposed building an extra 200 megawatts of wind power capacity to generate "renewable-energy credits" for Boulder. "Boulder would, however, be liable for costs associated with wind power - adding, by Xcel estimates, up to $4 a month, or 7 percent, to residential bills."

That sounds like a bargain. Why don't they take it? Longmont [Colorado's] municipal owned utility charges about 30% more per kwh for wind power than for coal generated watts.

Posted by: johngalt at July 12, 2011 1:42 AM

Should've Called my Sponsor

But I am now the proud owner of eatourpeas.com. Our motto:

"It's not going to get easier, it's going to get harder. So we might as well do it now; pull off the Band-aid, eat our peas," Obama said at a White House news conference. -- LATimes

UPDATE: Open to suggestions, but I was thinking I might aggregate all the posts in the "Obama Administration Category," and give it a nice green header logo.

But jk thinks:

And I renewed nascarretards.com. Admitting I have a problem is step one...

Posted by: jk at July 11, 2011 5:44 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I have a better idea. Let's do a one-page spread on what "shared sacrifice" looks like.

- Government employment cut by the same percentage as the private sector.

- Union employees pay for their own retirement like private sector employees.

And my favorite:

- Every American gives exactly the same percentage of his paycheck to the government in income taxes. No deductions. No credits. No more monkey business by "corporate fat cats." Oh wait, they'd get a tax cut? Lower income workers would actually pay MORE? "Yes Barack. You asked that the burden be SHARED. Sounds fair to me. Let's do it!"

Posted by: johngalt at July 12, 2011 1:52 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Let's go commentariat - more suggestions. What constitutes sharing of the austerity sacrifice?

- Citizens of other nations will have to take up arms and help pay for ammunition when our armed forces are committed to help fight for their liberty.

-

-

more! more!

Posted by: johngalt at July 12, 2011 2:44 PM
But jk thinks:

The mohair subsidy would also be given to those who don't raise mohair! (Am I getting it?)

To repent I offer: Thomas Miller's How the Debt Tussle Can Help Move Toward a Flat Tax.

Posted by: jk at July 12, 2011 5:36 PM

We're Talking Delayed Massive, Job Killing Taxes!

Hat-tip: PJ Tattler

2012 Posted by John Kranz at 5:07 PM | What do you think? [1]
But Keith Arnold thinks:

"Out years"

Does that phrase mean when we're all out of work, or just him?

Posted by: Keith Arnold at July 11, 2011 6:04 PM

Diet Coke.

Pity the Washington Post, they don't get the best part in a story about FLOTUS's 1700 calorie lunch:

A Washington Post journalist on the scene confirmed the first lady, who's made a cause out of child nutrition, ordered a ShackBurger, fries, chocolate shake and a Diet Coke while the street and sidewalk in front of the usually-packed Shake Shack were closed by security during her visit.

According to nutritional information on Shake Shack's Web site, the meal amounted to 1,700 calories.

Obama, who launched the "Let's Move" campaign to combat childhood obesity last year, has previously admitted to having an "obsession with french fries," which she says are fine to indulge in occasionally. "It's all about moderation," Obama told reporters.


Diet Coke.

But Keith Arnold thinks:

Whoa - ShackBurger: $4.75 for a single. Fries: $2.65. Shake: $5.00 (as long as I'm the literate one around here, there's a scene from Pulp Fiction revolving around the price of a shake...). Diet Coke, $1.90.

Fourteen dollars and thirty cents - assuming she bought just the single burger?

I'm all about comparison shopping. I'm going straight to the best burger in America, In-N-Out:

Double-double (two patties, two slices of cheese with all the trimmings, onions grilled or raw, free for the asking): $3.05. Fries, $1.35. Shake, $1.95. Diet Coke, EXTRA LARGE: $1.75. Grand total: $8.10.

http://bit.ly/oAQp9j

I've just upgraded her burger to a double, and made her soda the jumbo - and saved America 43%. THAT'S why you put someone in the White House who at least passed Econ for Non-Majors.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at July 11, 2011 6:22 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Shake Shack should make a new Michelle Obama Special: a triple burger sauced heavily with hypocrisy. It would give you a heart attack except that you're so used to it by now.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at July 11, 2011 9:20 PM

Quote of the Day

The Drug War, with an impact stretching far beyond the inner cities, is one of America's worst policies. It costs billions we don't have; it promotes the growth of transnational criminal gangs and supports large black markets in money and arms that terrorists as well as drug lords can use; if fills the prisons and it hasn't stopped either the use of existing illegal drugs or the development of new ones. Furthermore, as a Cato Institute paper estimates that legalizing and taxing drugs would yield more than $80 billion a year in savings and new revenue. (Something tells me that even the hardiest Tea Partiers might see their way to a hefty excise tax on heroin and cocaine.) -- Dirty Hippie and Professor Walter Russell Mead
To be fair, Mead raises more interesting concerns than most. His thoughtful piece is sobering reading for the legalization crowd as well.

Hat-tip: Instapundit

War on Drugs Posted by John Kranz at 1:19 PM | What do you think? [6]
But johngalt thinks:

A thorough and sober treatment of the damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't problem of illicit drugs, but not a comprehensive case for one way or the other. You seem to read it as evidence that legalizing such drugs is the least bad approach, but one of Mead's points seems to me to make that a non starter.

We will then find ourselves in an interesting position: will we say that drugs intended for medical purposes must pass rigorous testing before they can be prescribed, but recreational drugs can just be unleashed on the market? Is the FDA going to test drugs like ecstasy, crack cocaine and methamphetamine for purity and safety?

And, one might add, efficacy?

Mead observes, "The widespread use of drugs in our inner cities and elsewhere in our society is both a cause and a symptom of social decay." I agree with this chicken/egg conclusion. But we don't have to know which came first to figure out how best to stop the cycle. Drug users have proven to be remarkably ingenious both in acquiring drugs and self-rationalizing that their lives are better with than without drug trips. And the harm they do to their communities is impossible to prevent unless they drop the habit.

The answer as I see it is not legalization, but twofold: Education of our children before they start "experimenting"; and making it harder for addicts to live off of the state. I don't mean 'Just Say No' kinds of education. I'm talking about subverting the paradigm in our public schools, which teach that individuals are victims rather than achievers. Curricula follow the Postmodern subjectivist theme that "nothing is anything" from which many kids conclude it makes no difference what choices they make.

Make life something that has to be worked for once again, and teach kids that all of them can be successful if they apply themselves. Then the ailments of which drug use are a symptom will begin to heal. Genuine hope will work its magic.

Posted by: johngalt at July 11, 2011 3:26 PM
But jk thinks:

In my defense, I posted it as QOTD, especially enjoying his projected lack of Tea Party indignation on heroin taxes. And I alerted the alert reader of more nuanced views at the link.

But it was all worth it for FDA approvals on recreational drug efficacy. I'll carry that one around the rest of the day. One wishes George Carlin were still around to write the rest of the routine...

Posted by: jk at July 11, 2011 3:37 PM
But jk thinks:

I purport that your move toward a more genuine, self-reliant relationship of man and state suggests -- nay, Sir, requires -- a more grown-up, JSM-esque self sovereignty.

Posted by: jk at July 11, 2011 3:41 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Agreed. And that's hard for children reared in a nanny state to achieve. So we'll compromise by legalizing illicit drugs and privatizing the FDA. The drug testing labs that certify recreational drugs will carry that reputation and the "legitimate" pharmaceuticals will license with other labs. (Yes, I realize this is a win-win for you.)

If brother takes offense I beg his pardon. I don't mean to be a scold, I was just trying to advance the debate.

I also intended to point out that punitive "sin taxes" on legalized drugs will have the same effect as making them illegal - underground trade. Government wins. Drug gangs win. Individuals, both users and not, lose.

Posted by: johngalt at July 11, 2011 3:55 PM
But jk thinks:

Feigned offense is valuable currency in this Century -- don't worry about me too much.

I suggest that substantive taxes on cigarettes and liquor have created some crime but that it is negligible compared to street drug trade. And keep in mind we'll have about 700,000 suddenly under-occupied law enforcement officers to chase them.

Pretty sure the statue of limitations has worn off: did loyal blog readers know I put myself through a semester of college smuggling a brand of not-legal-for-import tequila from Juarez? Truly one of the best jobs of my life. But the premium on prohibition was much better than that of taxation.

Posted by: jk at July 11, 2011 4:09 PM
But johngalt thinks:

True 'nuff, but the incentive to avoid taxation was strong enough to spawn moonshiners and rum runners, who evolved into the very NASCAR Retards whence our blog takes its name.

And in the case of drugs the black market apparatus is already in place. It doesn't even need to sprout and grow.

Posted by: johngalt at July 12, 2011 3:21 PM

Seekers

Diogenes the Cynic searched Athens for an honest man (ht: br); Abraham searched Sodom and Gomorrah for a straight guy.

Now, the Washington State Republicans are searching the Evergreen State for a Senate Candidate:

So far, the GOP has found no one to run against Sen. Maria Cantwell, the two-term incumbent Democrat, despite continued signs that a weak economy may threaten the re-election prospects of President Obama and Democrats nationally.

Although the 2012 election is 16 months away, time is growing short for a Republican here to attract attention from big-money outfits that will pour TV ads into states where they believe Democrats are vulnerable. Last week, for example, the conservative group Crossroads GPS targeted five Democratic senators as part of a $7 million ad blitz. Cantwell was not among them.


The pilgrim's path is never easy...

113th Congress Posted by John Kranz at 11:54 AM | What do you think? [0]

Et Tu, Lancio?

I come to praise Lance Armstrong, not to bury him, for Lance is an honorable man...

[jk style rule #47: always try to say something nice about somebody before kneecapping them:] The Tour this year is missing Lance Armstrong. And I don't mean just a bunch of Jingoist Ugly 'Merkuns who won't watch if a US Citizen doesn't win (and it ain't looking good for that). Lance was a great "field general" who managed not only his team to perfection, but also crafted ad hoc alliances and impacted the entire peloton. Yes, the weather has been bad this year, but I think the alarming number of crashes and injuries are at partly because Armstrong's leadership is missing. There are several great riders to fill the athletic void, but none has the strategic sense or respect to deploy it. A lot of great riders but no Armstrong, Valverde, Indurain -- and it shows.

Another great thing about having Lance in the tour, is that it leaves him little time to write to the UN.

This September, world leaders are gathering at the UN for a historic summit on cancer and other non-communicable diseases (NCDs). The agreement they reach--and how they put it into action back home--will mean life or death for millions of people.

I've just written an open letter to world leaders, calling on them to face up to the global cancer crisis and make NCDs a top health priority. I'm writing to ask you to add your name to this letter right now.

If we reach 100,000 signers before the summit, LIVESTRONG will hand-deliver this letter and your signature to the UN Secretary General and key Heads of State.


Holy, hand-breaded, deep-fried NED on a stick! The UN is going to cure Cancer now?

I "like" livestrong.org on Facebook so I get updates on Lance's advocacy. Most are great: supportive items, information sharing, &c. I bristle when he advocates for anti-smoking measures, but I see where he's coming from. But this is too far. O'Sullivan's First Law has been completely proven: "All organizations that are not actually right-wing will over time become left-wing."

Lance, call your Texas buddy with the W in his name and ask him if this is a good idea.


Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 11:01 AM | What do you think? [0]

July 10, 2011

Yeah, But...

That's my witty rejoinder to Frank Cagle. Insty links to his "Conservatives for Conservation: Conservatives should remember they can hate Al Gore, but still be for clean air, water."

Cagle frustrates in the same manner of my infamous Facebook friends. First he conflates Republicans and Conservatives and fails to limn a liberty line toward either. So, it's okay to not pollute because:

Republican Teddy Roosevelt started the national parks. Richard Nixon create the Environmental Protection Agency. Republican East Tennessee joined with FDR to establish the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Man, I feel better, you? Wage and price controls are Conservative, too! And anti-trust legislation! Hey, Teddy was a Republican!

I need to query my EE-credentialed hardware betters at this blog. But I am completely ready to call "bull***t" on him and the NYTimes study he links claiming that LEDs and "instant-on" electronic devices are now the energy hogs. I admit that my TiVo is always on, and from its heat output I suspect it is cranking a few watts. But I have been warned of vampire power leaving my cell phone charger plugged in (mercy!) and Cagle's descriptions of LEDs in the home, killing the planet with microscopic drain.

I mean, far be it from me to question the veracity of a NYTimes story on the environment, but when the refrigerator or A/C kicks in, the LCDs millicurrent seems as small as the tax-depreciation exemptions for corporate jets. Me wrong?

I guess I join Cagle in rolling eyes at Republicans that disparage environmental stewardship at all costs. But how does he phrase it?

It is distressing today to hear Rush Limbaugh encourage his listeners to drive gas guzzlers as a protest. For Republican officeholders to disparage environmentalists. Yes, conservatives certainly have the obligation to argue the issue from the standpoint of their principles. Someone needs to point out that Cap and Trade is one of those public/private partnerships where the Wall Street boys make money and the taxpayers keep breathing bad air.

Bad Wall Street Boys! Bad air full of CO2! Swing and miss, Mister Cagle. The question is protection of liberty versus environmental protection -- and you don't seem to get it.

UPDATE: Fixed last name (Cage -> Cagle) mea maxima culpa.

UPDATE II: Cag(l)e does not link, but I found the article he referenced.

UPDATE III: My TiVo is rated at 40W (that's 350.4 KWh per year, right hardware guys?) Being on all the time allows it to download schedules and software updates any time it pleases and to provide instant on service for recording and viewing. Seems fair.

Environment Posted by John Kranz at 12:57 PM | What do you think? [4]
But johngalt thinks:

Your math is correct software guy. But is that 40 watt rating the peak or the average? Insofar as there is a personal computer in the box that surpasses the original moon rocket by many times, 40 watts seems a trifle.

Those "vampire" loads you referenced can be demonized through the power of collectivization. Each one is maybe 50 milliwatts (0.050 watts) but if one aggregates (all of them in a home) x (all the homes in a city, state, nation) x (all the hours in a year) the result is a scary number like "4.2 nuclear power plants total output!!!!" But unplugging all of them in one house is barely noticable, hence the need to mandate that all of us (except Algore et. al.) unplug them. Or at least, in the case of the 2007 energy act referenced in the previous (below) post, mandate a ridiculously low standby power draw forcing an industry wide redesign with associated waste and inefficiency.

No, we don't disparage environmental "stewardship" "at all costs." Like taxation, we say we've had enough already. Dump thousands of drums of glow in the dark cyanide compounds into Kentucky coal mines? [Watched "Fire Down Below with Steven Segal last night.] No. Double the cost of every economical fuel through Pigouvian taxes that are then redistributed to third-world nations (after a healthy personal rake-off by diplomats, bureaucrats, and dictators) because the nascent "science" of climatology thought for a time that their scope-limited mathematical models could accurately predict cause and effect between a benign carbon compound and global armageddon? Again, no.

Among many ironies of the left is that while they preach "moderation" and "compromise" as principles they are dogmatically absolutist on every question of environmental emission by man, however miniscule.

Posted by: johngalt at July 10, 2011 5:05 PM
But jk thinks:

Thanks. I suspected as much on vampire power. The TeeVee news people in the morning were suggesting that I buy a MonsterCable® power strip for my cell phone charger. For, I think it was $169, it would sense and shut down that drain. I didn't get out the calculator but guessed that little jewel would pay for itself in about 3,000 years.

The 40W is just that on a sparse spec sheet. I too thought it modest as the last time I replaced a desktop power supply, I think it was 500W.

Posted by: jk at July 11, 2011 10:52 AM
But jk thinks:

An always thoughtful reader emails that I could plug two cell phone chargers into the power strip and pay it off in only 1500 years.

Posted by: jk at July 11, 2011 1:31 PM
But johngalt thinks:

The onus for making the MonsterCable powerstrip economically viable is on MonsterCable. If they redesigned it so that it would "sense and shut down" every trickle current in your entire town it might pay for itself in your lifetime.

(But then it would be an actual monster, not just a MonsterCable.)

Posted by: johngalt at July 11, 2011 2:46 PM

A Stirring Defense of Cynicism!

The ethanol lobby has filched taxpayers for so long that it's only natural that the Senate's move this week toward rationalizing the industry's subsidies would be described as a "momentous shift away from federal assistance," as the Des Moines Register put it. But please don't believe that the government is about to "drastically cut the financial support" for corn ethanol, as another newspaper reported.
Another newspaper that does not happen to rhyme with All Greet Myrna, that is.
It's delightful that the ethanol lobby has lost for once in Washington. Really it is. But the industry will still enjoy a mandate that consumers buy its product every time they pull up to the pump. The 2007 energy bill requires the sale of 36 billion gallons of biofuels by 2022. Meanwhile, both the Renewable Fuels Association and Iowa Corn Growers Association came out cautiously in favor of the Senate deal. And might there be a reason that Iowa Senators Chuck Grassley and Tom Harkin are also in favor? Just asking.
Next time we go to coffee, br, you drive.
Oil and Energy Posted by John Kranz at 11:55 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Dammit! Why are there no wooden stakes in Washington D.C.! The contention that only cockroaches will survive nuclear armageddon is specious. Rent-seeking political lobbyists will be right there with them.

Posted by: johngalt at July 10, 2011 5:20 PM

July 8, 2011

Quote of the Day

I don't think of myself as a connoisseur of pretty much anything. I can, for instance, identify good bread or good gin or sheets with a high thread count, but I can also very easily tolerate the crummy stuff if that's what's available, because it's just me, right? I'm not a princess; I can deal. Then the CFL bulbs came out, and I discovered that I am the snob to end all snobs . . . when it comes to light. Fluorescent lighting makes me feel like I'm dead, and am just haunting whatever room I happen to be in. It makes me feel like the top of my head has been replaced with something clammy and toxic. It makes me feel like filling up my 15-passenger van with overpriced gas and barreling nonstop to Al Gore's house and smacking his silly, fat face around until he admits that his main goal is and always has been to make each and every day for the entire human race a little less bearable. -- Simcha Fisher
Hat-tip: Insty
Oil and Energy Posted by John Kranz at 11:56 AM | What do you think? [7]
But Keith Arnold thinks:

It's not the St. Crispian's Day speech, nor is it V's introduction of himself to Evey, but 'tis poetic aplenty - plus, smacking Al Gore's silly, fat face definitely resonates with me, and that's not merely poetic, that's epic. It's positively inspiring.

As for the "overpriced gas," just think: Taco Bell, dollar menu.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at July 8, 2011 2:22 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Actually, "overpriced gas" makes me think of DeBeers. But in this case it's not a South African private corporation that is artificially restricting supply to inflate prices, it is the United States Department of the Interior. (Hmmm, that's in the Executive Branch, no?)

Posted by: johngalt at July 8, 2011 7:25 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

ThreeSourcers will have a vested interest in this part of the Dept. of Interior website: http://on.doi.gov/pST7Xm

"Climate change is affecting every corner of the American continent. It is making droughts drier and longer, floods more dangerous and hurricanes more severe... The glaciers in Montana's Glacier National Park are melting so quickly, they're expected to disappear in the next two decades..."

Who writes this crap?

"... At the U.S. Department of the Interior, we manage one-fifth of the land in the country, 35,000 miles of coastline, and 1.76 billion acres of the Outer Continental Shelf..." And that's why, when you elect me President, my Secretary of the Interior will be tasked with exactly one job - to deed every possible square inch of America back to the states within six months, for them to do with as they and their citizens please - make them public parks, cut them down for timber, build suburbs and tract homes, drill them for oil, or strip-mine them. Thank you for your vote.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at July 9, 2011 9:09 PM
But jk thinks:

Unreal.

The Congressional Democrats keep demanding "more revenue" in the debt deal. I say we go all bipartisan on their ass and sell off a few national parks.

Got Prince Harry, but "V and Evey" forced me to Google. Damn, the allusions around here work me like a dog!

Posted by: jk at July 10, 2011 12:24 PM
But johngalt thinks:

The good brother asks, "Who writes this crap?"

He knows the answer but I'll spell it out: The same sort of dirty hippies who run and/or advise the other government agencies e.g. FDA. In that example it was charity leeches from Public Citizen, National Breast Cancer Coalition, New America Foundation... They are paid not for the soundness of their analysis, but for the evocative power of polar bear and baby seal images to elicit monthly donations from puppy lovers and cat people. Undoubtedly some know what their donations beget, but certainly the majority believe it is spent on Purina Panda Chow.

Posted by: johngalt at July 10, 2011 5:18 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Heh. I know the V and Evey speech but not the other one. I guess that means between the two of us we're as literate as our Cali brother, though I concede you are the anchor on that rope.

Posted by: johngalt at July 10, 2011 5:26 PM

July 7, 2011

Yay

Nanobrewer was celebrating this, but it has seemed too good to be true. Yes, Virginia, they may really cut the ethanol subsidy...

WASHINGTON--Key Senate lawmakers have reached a deal to end two ethanol subsidies by the end of the month, sooner than expected and a sign of how tax policy can change as attention focuses on the deficit.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D, Calif.) said in a statement that she had reached an agreement with Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D, Minn.) and John Thune (R, S.D.) under which a 45-cent-a-gallon tax credit for blending ethanol into gasoline would expire on July 31. A 54-cent-a-gallon tax on imported ethanol would also expire at the end of the month.

But johngalt thinks:

Umm, me too.

Posted by: johngalt at July 8, 2011 7:04 PM
But johngalt thinks:

From the article:

"About 90% of the gasoline sold in the U.S. contains at least 10% ethanol, indeed the E-10 fuel blend is the most popular at the U.S. pump."

and...

"The loss of the subsidy would be a blow to gasoline companies because they are the ones who received it for blending ethanol, said Joel Karlin, an analyst for Western Milling, but the effect on ethanol companies and corn farmers would be minimal."

Gosh, I wonder if the latter has any bearing on the former. (It's definitely not because consumers clamor for a fuel that carries them a shorter distance per gallon and ruins their engine in the process.) And they're now telling us that the ethanol subsidy benefitted not ethanol companies and corn farmers, but big oil? WTF! No more special tax breaks for big oil!!

Posted by: johngalt at July 8, 2011 7:17 PM
But jk thinks:

Yup, I am last in line to believe. I'm not generally cynical, but circumspection is warranted in the sport of government subsidy killing. Do you get up and leave the theatre the first time Freddy Krueger dies?

Posted by: jk at July 9, 2011 12:04 PM

Hoss

Marco Rubio on the debt ceiling (he starts talking at 5 minutes, its starts to get really good at about the 7:50 mark):

Politics Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 2:35 PM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

Like

Posted by: jk at July 7, 2011 3:45 PM

What if We Used Honest Math?

Larry Kudlow did a commentary last night so close to Dan Mitchell's, I was waiting for him to credit CATO. I think either Mitchell or Kudlow would be happy to see the other's spreading their message, but it seemed funny to have them both voice this on the same day.

Dan Mitchell asks for "honest math:"

What I mean by this is that I don't want politicians to approve a budget that results in more spending, but then claim that they "cut spending" because the budget didn't grow even faster. I want a spending cut to mean less spending (gee, what a novel idea).

And when they talk about new revenue, I want to see how much revenue the IRS is collecting this year, and measure revenue increases against that number. After all, the crowd in Washington should be happy to get more money, even if it is the result of benign factors such as more jobs being created, companies earning higher profits, and people getting more pay.

Instead, as we all painfully know, all government numbers are rated against projections and baselines. Both Kudlow and Mitchell showed that our nation's insurmountable debt problem is trivial, if you apply GAAP accounting. Here's Mitchell's "Balanced approach:" cut spending 5% and grow revenue 5%:

Flat, or even a more realistic 2% growth in spending brings the budget into balance soon. More importantly, honesty, transparency, and clarity would allow the electorate to better understand decisions and would make it harder for statists to obfuscate.

But Keith Arnold thinks:

You're correct, the 2% growth factor would be sufficient to eventually balance our budget. You know what else would help balance the budget? Taking a chainsaw to a lot of agencies that shouldn't even exist, doing some serious entitlement reform to the great redistributionary Ponzi schemes called Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, and getting the federales' collective noses out of places they don't belong. Those are some of the additional benign consequences that would result for my plan.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at July 7, 2011 1:52 PM
But jk thinks:

I think we're on the same page, bra. As entitlement spending creeps up, keeping to a -5, 0, or 2% growth rate would require your chainsaw.

"Starving the beast" while allowing unlimited borrowing has been an epic GOP failure. Real numbers might work.

Posted by: jk at July 7, 2011 2:11 PM

A Billion Jobs Saved!

And just for good measure, Tom Hanks said: "If you would have told me a few years ago that 'don't ask, don't tell' would be repealed and about a billion jobs at General Motors and Chrysler would have been saved because the president was smart enough and strong enough and bold enough to do so, I would have said, 'Wow. That's a good president, I think I'll vote for him again'."
Hat-tip: Don Surber, who asks "So how is that new movie doing?"
From Nikkie Finke on July 2, 2011: "Tom Hanks & Julia Roberts In Holiday Flop."

July 6, 2011

Extreme Partisan Parody

But if you've seen the original, you'll want to view these outtakes:

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 6:43 PM | What do you think? [0]

Quote of the Day

There's no way to tell how much the shutdown is costing Minnesota, in part because the people who calculate such things are out of work.  -- WaPo
The humanity.
Posted by John Kranz at 4:52 PM | What do you think? [2]
But Kudzuisedible thinks:

The worst possible watchdog over government has to be government itself. Therefore, the unemployment in Minnesota among public employees charged with "calculating the cost of [government] shutdown" is a feature, not a flaw.

Before the liberal-biased media arose, the "fourth estate" was at times a watchdog over government for the people. The people are now betrayed by substitution of propaganda in place of journalism. House organs of liberal elitist government include the Associated Press and the New York Times, alphabet broadcasters ABC/NBC/CBS, and the newsmagazines Time, Newsweek, etc. These polluted springs are unfit for the consumption of a free people.

Posted by: Kudzuisedible at July 6, 2011 5:08 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I weep for them as I would a burglar's accountant.

TO HELL WITH THEM ALL. God-damned thieves.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at July 6, 2011 9:39 PM

"Go Green" for World Government

Colorado's GOP candidate for governor last year was ridiculed for suggesting that the UN had designs on World Government. Now a new UN report admits it.

The press release for the report [calling for a "technological overhaul" "on the scale of the first industrial revolution" to reach a "goal of full decarbonization of the global energy system by 2050"] discusses the need "to achieve a decent living standard for people in developing countries, especially the 1.4 billion still living in extreme poverty, and the additional 2 billion people expected worldwide by 2050." That sounds more like global redistribution of wealth than worrying about the earth’s thermostat.

The entire article is a series of jaw-dropping objectives from Turtle Bay. It's worth a click.

If the Obama Administration is liberty's Imperial Cruiser, the United Nations is its Death Star.


Dude, Where's my Warming?

As a guy with a medical reason to hate hot weather, I should be a little less flippant. The headline in the NYTimes will read: "Globe warms, MS patients hardest hit."

But that warming -- the very 'W' in DAWG -- remains elusive. While real scientists would be forced to rethink their theory, model, or measurements, "climate scientists" are allowed to look backwards and engage in a bit of ass-covering that is not available to other disciplines.

Or, as Kenneth P. Green puts it "Just another example of the endlessly shape-shifting, non-falsifiable world of politicized climate science."

Comes now the National Academy of Sciences, which yesterday published a new paper that sets out to explain "why global surface temperatures did not rise between 1998 and 2008." Apparently the NAS didn’t get the memo from the Center for American Progress that we're not supposed to acknowledge that global warming has not happened over the last decade.

But not to worry. The NAS has it covered. As the rest of the abstract explains:

Yet to question them is to expose yourself as ign'nt...


All The News That Fit to Print...

From the NYT:


[Gov. Rick] Perry’s public statements exposed a long-simmering rivalry that had been little known outside the political fraternity here but underscores the rightward drift of the Republican Party since [George W.] Bush was president.

Ah yes, it seems like just yesterday the New York Times was lamenting the moderate presidency of George W. Bush.

2012 Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 2:13 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

Ah yes, the GOP "drifts" right while the Democrat Party "progresses" to the left.

Posted by: johngalt at July 6, 2011 2:34 PM
But jk thinks:

When W was president, they longed for the calm moderate influence of Ronald Reagan...

Posted by: jk at July 6, 2011 2:40 PM

Tweet of the Day

I'm stealing this one from Ben Smith:

Hat-tip: Insty, who points out a comment: "Even the Union Goons are unhappy."


WSJ on the Minnesota Shutdown

Interstin':

Posted by John Kranz at 1:00 PM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

No, Union Goons are not happy...

Posted by: jk at July 6, 2011 1:35 PM

July 5, 2011

Egads! Anarchy and 10,000 lakes!

Government shutdown in Minnesota? Why doesn't anybody tell me these things?

I'd like to invite all of our Minnesota friends to come out to Colorado until this egregious episode is resolved. No government!

Anyone wishing more serious commentary is recommended to the Wall Street Journal.

Minnesota prides itself as the land where liberal governance works, but lately the wheels have come off. The state is broke, and as of July 1 most state services are closed amid a budget stalemate between Democratic Governor Mark Dayton and Republicans who run the legislature. The drama may be a forecast of the looming standoff in Washington, so it's worth reporting what the scrap is about.

From his first day in office, Mr. Dayton, the wealthy heir to a department store chain, has sought to plug the budget hole with tax increases. Revenues have climbed this year as the economy has recovered, so if he had simply proposed a 10% growth in spending over the next two years to $34 billion, there would be no deficit to close. But Mr. Dayton wanted a $37 billion budget, or a 20% spending increase when many states have cut spending or held it flat. (The previous two-year budget was artificially inflated by some $2 billion in temporary federal stimulus money that has now ended.)

Posted by John Kranz at 7:29 PM | What do you think? [5]
But Keith Arnold thinks:

As a California resident, I wish to congratulate the government of Minnesota.

You see, California is every bit as broke as Minnesota; if their wheels have come off, ours have too, and the chassis has rusted through - plus the tags have expired, we've failed our smog test, and can't buy insurance. Which is a good thing, because California's car is being driven by drunken teenagers who text while driving. But Minnesota has done something that makes sense. They've closed. California's government just. keeps. spending.

While Minnesota has closed, Calfironia is still open - just not open for business, if you know what I mean.

This morning, thousands of decent Minnesotans are waking up and finding that the sun still rises in the east, the grocery stores are still open, their televisions still work, their cars still drive, and their coffee makers still brew - all without a functioning government. Perhaps they'll find that life without a government like the one they've become used to can be a pretty neat thing. Perhaps they'll make this permanent.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at July 6, 2011 11:18 AM
But jk thinks:

No rest stops, Keith. The land of Paul Wellstone and Garrison Keillor has shut down the rest stops.

Posted by: jk at July 6, 2011 11:55 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Not to worry - Minnesotans bladders are all above average.

Posted by: johngalt at July 6, 2011 2:38 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Brother Keith is correct. Minnesota's state and local debt as a percentage of GSP (gross state product or state GDP) is lower than Cali's - 14.96% vs. 18.61%.

But the rest of the story is that ten other states are even worse than Califiredya, including both Colorado and Pennsylvania. The worst? Massachusetts, the Romneycare State, at 25.33% of GSP.

And of the states mentioned Cali looked to have the highest spending before being edged out by PA.

Posted by: johngalt at July 6, 2011 3:04 PM
But johngalt thinks:

And speaking of spending, if average state and local spending is 17.36 percent of GDP (50 combined GSP's) and federal spending is over 23 percent of GDP the figure for total US government spending is 40%. Forty. Percent.

Posted by: johngalt at July 6, 2011 3:21 PM

Best News Ever

Charisma Carpenter to guest on USA's Burn Notice:

The actress will guest-star in this season's 11th episode as Nicki, a sharp-tongued, high-maintenance trophy wife whose not-so-better half, a bioweapons engineer, is a wanted man in cahoots with the Russians. Increasingly dissatisfied with her marriage, Nicki proves to be a pawn ripe for the manipulating in Michael and Fi's effort to get to her husband.

Blog brother Silence Dogood got me watching this show a few years ago. It is a fun, ensemble cast show. If you have not watched it, I would recommend starting with older episodes.

Television Posted by John Kranz at 4:52 PM | What do you think? [0]

Almost as if There were a Double Standard

A. Barton Hinkle at Reason may have found some inconsistency in the reporting between anti-government and pro-government protests. I know, I was dismissive at first, too. But hear him out:

Boy, those sure have been some mighty peaceful protests against government budget cuts in Greece, haven't they? You bet they have--at least if you ignore the rock-throwing, fire-setting, window-smashing, and blood-spilling.

Which, it seems clear, a lot of major news organs would like to do. According to one story in The Wall Street Journal, the demonstrations "began peacefully." According to another, last week Constitution Square in Athens "seethed with indignant, but peaceful, demonstrators."

"The day began noisily but peacefully," intoned The New York Times on Wednesday. The Washington Post likewise observed that "a peaceful protest . . . quickly degenerated into violence." Reuters reported that, regardless of "clashes between stone-throwing masked youths and riot police . . . thousands of peaceful protesters demonstrated against the austerity plan."

Sure, blood was spilled. But don't blame the protesters. As the Journal reported, it was Greece's parliament that approved a "widely hated austerity package" despite "the best efforts of peaceful grass-roots activists., megaphone-touting [sic] labor unionists, and stone-throwing anarchists."

This is a sharp contrast from how, say, Tea Party protests against the passage of ObamaCare were treated.

[...]


Do you want me to continue commenting here? Do I need to?


Quote of the Day

You mean that abrogating bankruptcy law, screwing over secured creditors and rewarding Democrats' union supporters with billions in equity, tax breaks and subsidies didn't really fix GM? -- Doug Ross

"Troubling"

The Headline Editors at the WSJ Ed Page today name David Malpass And Stephen Moore's piece on Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) "America's Troubling Investment Gap."

In June, President Obama celebrated a rare sliver of good economic news: Foreign investment was up 49% last year over 2009. The president says that this boost in capital shipped to the U.S. by international companies or foreign investors leads to more businesses and higher-paying jobs here at home. He's right.

But this isn't the economic success story that the White House is spinning. The real truth of the recession and limping recovery is that for the first time in decades America is, on net, losing, not attracting, growth capital. That may be the single most important explanation for persistently high unemployment and stagnant wages.


Put me down with the folks who find it "Troubling."

My Famous Facebook Friends love to point out the amount of cash on corporate balance sheets. Curiously, they are not celebrating multinationals' participation in global growth. Nor are they suggesting tax breaks for repatriation of foreign earnings. Actually, this is somehow proof of both corporate greed and dispositive proof of the need for tax reform.

One friend-of-a-friend put it in so many words. Corporations bla bla bla...record profits bla bla bla...cash on the balance sheet... "So don't" this woman says "use the argument that businesses will not hire because of tax rates or tax unpredictability. I won't hear it. Any other thing you'd like to discuss [the infield fly rule perhaps?] go right ahead."

As there's no such Gag Rule at ThreeSources, I consider the cash in stasis AND the now negative FDI flow as proof that taxes are indeed the problem. Yes, they do have money. But to maximize growth of asset value, they must choose when and where that money can be best invested. A new plant in Illinois, perhaps? A joint venture in Singapore? Capital expenditures that delay hiring? Or sit on it, declare dividends, buy back equity and keep your powder dry while tax and health care policy clarifies?

Malpass and Moore document the troubling truth that the best choice is now to invest that money somewhere else but here.

But, other than that, there's really nothing to worry about. Maybe we could do something to encourage high speed rail or ethanol or something...

But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Posit a thought experiment to your friend's friend: Suppose she has $50,000 in the bank for a down payment on a house. The house is $250,000. Currently, she would get a full mortgage interest deduction on her taxes. However, she knows that Congress is considering elimination of the mortgage interest deduction. Would she a) buy the house now knowing it's her "civic duty" to help reverse the housing crisis, or b) hoard her money in the bank until Congress makes a decision so that she better understands the affordability of the house payment and it resulting value.

Yeah, yeah, I know - the real answer is c) stand up in a town hall meeting with the President and demand that the government buy her a new kitchen. But I'm speaking to rational people.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at July 5, 2011 11:18 PM
But jk thinks:

'Fraid she's opted for:

d) Shut up with that winning argument I cannot counter!

Posted by: jk at July 6, 2011 10:44 AM

There's That Song Again...

Talk about an underserved character in American History. I went looking for a biography of Francis Scott Key, and there is none of the quality I expected. There is one from 1934, cobbled together from oral histories and his correspondence with John Randolph. Amazon has one for $29.95.

Carl Swisher wrote a biography of Key's brother-in-law, Roger B. Taney, in 1935 and I imagine a similar friendly, folksy, biography. I enjoyed the Swisher book while I was researching the Chief Justice, but I would strongly prefer a modern biography.

Historians may have overlooked him, but here's a damn fine version of his song:



July 4, 2011

My Favorite Supraconstitutional Event

Call me names; throw jk from the train if you want. But I watch "A Capitol Fourth" on PBS every year. Steve Martin just brought his bluegrass band. I love it.

UPDATE: Ms. Jordin Sparks nails the National Anthem. I may have to start watching "Idol..."

Rant Posted by John Kranz at 9:37 PM | What do you think? [0]

Dirty Hippies run the FDA

Last week JK wrote about the FDA's anti-prosperity ruling on the clinical use of Avastin to treat breast cancer. Two days later, American Spectator's Robert M. Goldberg wrote in FDA Decision Dooms Cancer Patients some background on the individuals at FDA who were responsible.

Goozner -- who has no medical background -- was appointed to an FDA advisory committee on pharmaceutical science. Two senior Public Citizen operatives, Peter Lurie and Larry Sasich, now set policy for the FDA. Fran Visco, the head of the National Breast Cancer Coalition, applauded the FDA decision after lobbying for it over the past year. Visco, a Democrat, is also on Experts Advisory Panel for the Universal Health Insurance Program at the New America Foundation, a left-wing think tank supporting Obamacare. The NBBC also supported the administration's decision not to cover mammograms for women under 50 though many breast cancers grow faster and earlier in African-American women.

Goldberg goes on to predict that Medicare and some other health plans will try to stop paying for Avastin, but he also makes this prediction:

To these groups, the FDA decision was a triumph. But their effort to manipulate the FDA will backfire. The EMA and every major group of cancer providers support Avastin's use. Cancer patients moblilized spontaneously to keep Avastin's label. They will take on the anti-innovation establishment and the FDA with greater intensity and vigor.

Related: Medicare Won't Drop Avastin for Breast Cancer


Otequay of the Ayday

Fourth of July Edition.

On the Fourth of July, celebrate not the rights-violating, welfare state that America has become, but what America once was and could be again. Celebrate man's "unalienable Rights." Celebrate the principle that the proper purpose of government is "to secure these rights." Celebrate the principle that "whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it." And, most of all, celebrate the Founders, who recognized and codified these principles, thus making possible the degree of freedom we still enjoy and the moral ideal to which we should return.

Yesterday's entry by Craig Biddle, on The Objective Standard Blog

Hat Tip: Brother Russ

But Keith Arnold thinks:

JG: I read this as well, and it's one of the three items I read this weekend that I loved the most.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at July 5, 2011 12:10 PM

July 3, 2011

The Most Interesting Sport In The World

Dos Equis' "Most Interesting Man in the World" is, naturally, an expert equestrian vaulter.

Or at least AVA and World Equestrian Games Gold Medalist, World Chamion team vaulter and stunt double Blake Dahlgren is. I have seen Blake compete in every AVA National Championship since dagny and I met, and I'm sure he was at many more before that. I was always impressed by his balance and grace (soft landings on the horse) considering his 6'3" stature. Blake began vaulting with our friends Rick and Virginia at Valley View Vaulters in Southern California, where he is now a coach.

But jk thinks:

Mmmm. Beer.

Posted by: jk at July 4, 2011 11:38 AM

July 2, 2011

My new favorite third baseman...

is in the American League.

"This is my bible," Cabrera said. "It's over 1,000 pages long."

Cabrera's copy of Rand's 1957 novel is worn. The spine of the book is taped over to help hold it together. Cabrera said he reads it every year.

"The book is about objectivism. It's about many things," Cabrera said. "It's about how to be successful in life. It's about how to live life now while you're still alive."

The novel tells the story of a strike by the great minds in the United States against the government.

Go Tribe!

But jk thinks:

Heh. I sent this to a Tribe aficionado you may know...

Posted by: jk at July 2, 2011 9:35 PM
But johngalt thinks:

It made me think of him too when I wrote the close.

Posted by: johngalt at July 3, 2011 10:39 AM

Quote of the Day

With the exception of the date, we Americans have more or less followed Adams' wishes ever since. There was a canny prescience about the depth, the breadth, the quality of American freedom in the seeming incongruence of Adams's assertion that the anniversary should be "solemnized" with such light-hearted events as sports and bonfires and fireworks. For the very nonchalance with which most of us celebrate "Independence Day" is the most eloquent measure of the solemnity, the gravity, the importance of the event. -- Ralph Kinney Bennett

Review Corner

How 'bout a movie for a change?

I just sent "Departures" back to Netflix -- what a great film (it is definitely a film and not a movie, trust me). IMDB gives the plot as

A newly unemployed cellist takes a job preparing the dead for funerals.

The movie, er film, is in Japanese with Engrish subtitles. You're picturing a lengthy, tedious art film, c'mon admit it. Art it may be; tedious it is not.

I think ThreeSourcers would dig it -- not that there's a Reaganite message about cap gains taxes -- but for a serious and beautiful look at work and art, individualism, and human dignity. A small, ensemble cast is endearing. The cinematography is superb, showing a Japan that is not Disney, Clavell, or dystopian.

Sweet, well paced and unusual -- Five stars.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 11:10 AM | What do you think? [4]
But nanobrewer thinks:


Totally agreed; it's quite a stunning and moving movie. It reminded me of "Cold Fever" with it's deliciously slow pacing and odd moments of humor.

Posted by: nanobrewer at July 2, 2011 11:31 AM
But jk thinks:

Hmmm. Maybe I better see "Cold Fever."

Posted by: jk at July 2, 2011 11:38 AM
But jk thinks:

Dude, that is one seriously obscure film. Netflix no got. Amazon has a Region 2 DVD from a private seller used at $23. Did you see it in Iceland?

Of course, now I really want to see it...

Posted by: jk at July 2, 2011 9:43 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:


I don't know whence I saw it, nor how I got turned onto it. When in doubt, ask the guru's at the Video Station in Boulder... I've only found one film they couldn't get, and they did know it ("our copy finally died, and we can't get another"...).

IMDB fans give it a 7; which isn't the most reliable (aka, obscure films are mostly voted on by the geeks who sought them out), but I really liked it.

nb

Posted by: nanobrewer at July 5, 2011 1:45 AM

More Leo

Blog friend sugarchuck sees my 1959 Fender video, and raises:


Posted by John Kranz at 10:52 AM | What do you think? [0]

July 1, 2011

Review Corner

I finished "The Jacket" and Matt Welch's Declaration of Independents last night. It is a remarkably uplifting book.

It is funny, thoughtful and well written. None of that surprises me because of the authors. But the book starts by laying out a serious and ambitious agenda:

The Declaration of Independents is a call to wave away the clouds of obfuscating political malarkey, to call things (in [Vaclav] Havel's phrasing) "by their proper names," identify governance for what it is, expose how it sells itself, and inject into the political sphere the same forces of innovation, individualization, and autonomy that are bettering the way we live in every other sense.

They accomplish all this without nattering the way Libertarians sometimes do. It remains very upbeat, in spite of chapters like "We are so out of money!" There's a kind of Reaganite optimism about it, not that they have many kind words for our 40th. but they do have a true belief that free people will overcome the challenges of over-weaning government.

Funny, upbeat, informative, thoughtful. I will offer any of my leftist friends to read anything of their choosing if they'll pour through this one. It should be easy as Speaker Boehner and President George W Bush get as many or more whacks than anybody else.

Five stars. Greg Gutfield says "It's better than 'War & Peace' and 'Everybody Poops' combined."

But dagny thinks:

Any book using the description, "obfuscating political malarkey," goes to the top of MY reading list.

Posted by: dagny at July 1, 2011 4:09 PM
But jk thinks:

Heh. I hear you bought the Luskin book ; this hardcopy is up for grabs...

Posted by: jk at July 1, 2011 5:49 PM

Don't click this. Comments (2)