April 26, 2012

Life Imitates ThreeSources

Quick follow-up on our great guest post on the 16th. A good friend of this blog, who works in the financial sector, disputed Secretary Geithner's claim of "profit" from TARP.

Now I see the claim has also been disputed by some right wing hack somewhere -- no, wait! It has been disputed by Christy Romero, the newly installed special inspector general for TARP.

Similar to her predecessor Neil Barofsky, Romero seems to be saying (indirectly, of course!) the Treasury Department -- and Geithner -- have been misleading the American public about the costs of TARP. While that's impossible to prove, there has been a concerted effort by Treasury to paint the program in the best possible light. (Reason.com has compiled a timeline of such statements, for those who want to check the record.)

My feeling all along is that Treasury has been cherry-picking the TARP data, focusing on the repayments vs. the loans still outstanding, much less the "soft" cost of the bailouts. It's like an investor who only talks about the stocks that have produced profits, ignoring the ones with losses.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:07 AM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

Romero also touched on a big reason why JK once suspected that someone had stolen my password and posted this.

Concentration of bank assets is but one of the "profound long-term consequences" of TARP cited by Romero. Others include "the impact on consumers and homeowners from the large banks' failure to lend TARP funds," which in turn spurned a huge backlash against corporations generally and got millions of ordinary Americans riled up about the cozy relationship between Wall Street and Washington D.C. (There's also the cost of the Fed's zero interest rate policy and the government's unlimited pledge to support Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, among other bailouts.)

Arguably, TARP helped animate both the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street movements and generally reaffirmed Americans' loss of faith in our institutions and elected officials. These developments have long-term societal implications that go far beyond any quantitative analysis of the "cost" of the bailouts.

Posted by: johngalt at April 26, 2012 6:45 PM
But The Invisible Handler thinks:

BTW, let me, the anonymous good friend of this blog, add that I don't work at SIGTARP and had no knowledge whatsoever of their report.

Note Treasury's rebuttal: "the government's emergency response was essential to preventing a meltdown of the entire global economy. And now we're winding down those programs faster and at a much lower cost than virtually anyone had anticipated during the dark days of the crisis."

Then why are they trying to talk up the program by talking about profits!

Posted by: The Invisible Handler at April 26, 2012 9:37 PM

July 22, 2010

NEVERMIND.

I had to go searching for the President Bush categories. Ahh, happy times (by comparison at least).

Professor Reynolds gets ten points for a TS Elliot reference: "BUSH-ERA “SCANDAL” OVER FIRED U.S. ATTORNEYS ends with a whimper."

Well, guess what - the Obama-Holder Justice Department has, according to AP, decided not to file any charges against any Bush appointees in connection with the DA firings. Now that the news is breaking, however, don't be surprised if somebody decides to reverse the decision, go after different charges, or otherwise seek to bring some sort of legal opprobrium on the former Bush appointees.

Unfortunate -- as with so much of this era and administration -- that the New Black Panther contretemps ended up as a racial discussion. But the real question is the level of political control exercised over the DOJ.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:00 AM | Comments (0)

January 20, 2009

Approval Ratings

Blog Brother AlexC finds a cool slideshow on the WSJ site that graphically tracks presidential approval ratings from Truman through W:

info-presapp0605-all.gif


Posted by John Kranz at 1:51 PM | Comments (2)
But HB thinks:

I notice a pattern. It seems that (outside of Clinton and Reagan) every president is in a downtrend as they leave office.

Posted by: HB at January 20, 2009 2:57 PM
But jk thinks:

Fish, house guests and Presidents begin to stink?

If anybody did not click through, they have detailed graphs for each.

Posted by: jk at January 20, 2009 3:19 PM

December 27, 2008

More From The Telegraph

Will Fleet Street burst into flames? TWO complementary articles about our departing President in as many weeks! Today, they run a piece by Nile Gardiner, Director of the Margaret Thatcher Centre for Freedom at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, DC. And the chattering classes shall surely burst.

Much of the condemnation of his policies though is driven by a venomous hatred of Bush’s personality and leadership style, rather than an objective assessment of his achievements. Ten or twenty years from now, historians will view Bush’s actions on the world stage in a more favourable light. America’s 43rd president did after all directly liberate more people (over 60 million) from tyranny than any leader since Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Widely seen as his biggest foreign policy error, the decision to invade Iraq could ultimately prove to have been a masterstroke. Today the world is witnessing the birth of the first truly democratic state in the Middle East outside of Israel. Over eight million voted in Iraq’s parliamentary elections in 2005, and the region’s first free Muslim society may become a reality. Iraq might not be Turkey, but it is a powerful demonstration that freedom can flourish in the embers of the most brutal and barbaric of dictatorships.

The success of the surge in Iraq will go down in history as a turning point in the war against al-Qaeda. The stunning defeat of the insurgency was a major blow both militarily and psychologically for the terror network. The West’s most feared enemy suffered thousands of losses in Iraq, including many of their most senior commanders, such as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and Abu Qaswarah. It was the most successful counter-insurgency operation anywhere in the world since the British victory in Malaya in 1960.


My blog brother jg and treasured common-tater tg both say no "worst presidents list" would be complete without him. Reason devoted a special issue to ensuring that he did not leave office without some sneering contempt from his intellectual betters on the right. Gene Healy's Cult of the Presidency and David Boaz's Politics of Freedom devote multiple chapters to blistering attacks. A good lefty friend says that it will take several presidencies to undo all the Bush and Cheney evil.

I don't think I'm a cheerleader at the end of term two. But I am not going to do an Andrew Sullivan on y'all and decide that the Bush Presidency that I cheered was a disaster. He leaves us with a solid Supreme Court, seven years of safety in a troubled world, and two democracies in the Middle East.

Even Sharansky turned on him at the end. I will not

Hat-tip: Jules Crittenden, who adds:

Because war and the defense of freedom, contrary to the misty Hallmark rearview of people unwilling to take any action to do so, is not a pretty or an easy thing. I’d add that it is with tremendous grace that George Bush has accepted his designated role as villain, fall guy, punching bag, even as president-elect Barack Obama picks up where Bush is leaving off. Maybe someday they’ll look back at that small footnote, Bush’s magnanimous handling of the not-so-friendly fire, as another sign of his great statesmanship. Much as Lincoln, revealed as an “ape” by lesser pols and small opinionmongers in his time, is today the statesman, commander in chief and champion of freedom everyone wants to be compared to.

Posted by John Kranz at 7:26 PM | Comments (18)
But T. Greer thinks:

JK- I just saw your reposte. I have to go at the moment, so I will reply to it later!

~T. Greer, trying not to ignore his many critics. ^_^

Posted by: T. Greer at December 30, 2008 12:15 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

tg: You've brought up many issues, and JK has answered several of them well. So, let me address a couple of the items that seem more aggregious.

"FDR did much more than make the decision to free millions. He made a prolonged and well thought out effort to do so." Are you kidding? When Hitler took power in his putsch, FDR did nothing. when Japan invaded China, FDR did nothing. When Japan invaded Burma, FDR did nothing. (Gradually, he placed sanctions on Japan, which led to their attack.) When Hitler invaded the Sudentenland, FDR did nothing. When Hitler invaded Poland, FDR did nothing. Same for the Low Countries, Norway and France. (By nothing, I mean nothing of consequence.) Only after Japan bombed the sh*t out of our Pacific fleet and after Germany declared war on us did he take action. The US military was woefully unprepared for WWII, despite years of enemy build-up. The Refugee will humbly submit that this was not "prolonged and carefully thought out." Had Japan waited a year to attack, it's conceivable that Germany would have defeated Britain and Russia and we'd have a fascist Europe to this day, with no thanks to FDR. There is also ample evidence that he ignored credible intelligence regarding the Nazi concentration camps.

Although the analogy between Iraq and stopping fascist Germany/Italy was not intended, I will nontheless stand by it. Radical Islam is a fascist movement bent on world domination, killing the Jews and any other infidels that refuse to submit. Their methods may be different, but their goals are eerily similar.

WRT to the Lyndon Johnson analogy, there is nothing similar between the prosecution of the Vietnam war and Iraq. The US military was not permitted to engage the enemy if they crossed over into Cambodia, so of course that's exactly what they did to evade US firepower - and cross back over at night, guns-ablazing. We also carpet bombed Hanoi. The objective was not to defeat the North Vietnamese, but rather "hold the line" and not allow it to defeat the south. This was assinine. There are two outcomes in war: victory and defeat. GWB understands this; JFK and LBJ did not.

"Russia- At the point of Bush's election, Russia was a tentative friend or the U.S. Now, Russian and American relations are at a tension not seen since the Cold War. Part of this is due to internal Russian politics, and part of this is due to Bush's inability to develop a coherent and consistence Russian policy." If getting Russia on board with US policy is the criterion for success, then every president since 1917 has been a failure.

And, that last element is kind of the point. Presidents must pursue a strategy with incomplete information, coordinate with allies that have different agendas and whom he does not control, with enemies that will subvert our efforts on general principles all while protecting the people from bad guys who want to kill us. This is not a Harvard case study or a video game. It is flesh, bone and blood where the consequences are real. With apologies from The Refugee, an assessment from what appears to be a purely academic perspective that does not acknowledge real-world realities seems more suited to a liberal cocktail party.

Nevertheless, we can agree to disagree. Curious Refugee minds what to know: who would you rank as the worst five presidents in history?

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at December 30, 2008 5:52 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

I think I will hit BR's objections first:

BR, you are missing the point. I am not championing FDR's decision to enter WWII-- I am championing how he went about waging a war once he made that decision. Now, I agree with you, it was fundamentally a just and brave decision on Bush's part to do so. However, that is not enough. We do not celebrate Washington for his decision to lead the Continental Army, but for his successes while doing so. We do not celebrate Lincoln for his decision to carry out a war with the Confederate States, but for his ability and judgment in the prosecution of that war. Likewise, I cannot celebrate Bush for deciding to go to war, when every subsequent action of the man brought us closer to defeat.

This is not all Bush's fault-- I would place more of the blame on a certain SecDef and his advisors than the President himself. But as the chief executive, he still holds responsibility for the mistakes made by those in his administration, particularly when he allowed them to go on for so long.

Now, it is real easy for me to play the armchair general 5 years later. Presidents work in real-time environments, and they face pressures I certainly do not. However, that does not excuse them for their sins. And Bush's were bad. Johnson's strategic thought might have been "Lets hold the line", but Bush's was never more than "We will have victory." But WHAT victory, Mr. Bush? How are we to define 'victory'? How are we to achieve it? Who - and how many - will fight for it? Do we have the troops, infrastructure, or institutions to do so? And please, Mr. Bush, tell me WHO the enemy is that we should be fighting against.

Bush never did any of this. He (very publicly) failed to secure international backing for the invasion of '03, he failed to exercise oversight over a ballooning military, he failed to come up with a strategic vision (much less short term goals)for either occupation, he failed to develop a consistent policy for relations with Afghani/Iraqi assets and officials, he never even attempted to patch up alliances that were broken over this war, he failed to designate who our enemies in this conflict were, and he failed to change course until Iraq fell into a civil war and the Republican Party faced a clear electoral defeat.

In short, Bush recognized the need for victory, but never developed nor pursued a plan to ensure such.

These are all things Bush should have done, these are all things he could have done, and they were things he was told to do by every dozens of policy experts and military personal.

Now, on to Jk’s objections (and I will include BR's Russia quibble here):

I included a lengthy list to demonstrate that I was not just picking the bad apples out of a good orchard. I apologize for not showing this intent more clearly.

*Aye, Churchill did cozy up to Stalin, but both were facing existential threats at the time, were they not? Besides, this misses the point: the Bush foreign policy was characterized by the removal/intimidation of regimes termed "evil." Those who do not define "evil" by the deeds or presence of despotic governments, but by the level of anti-Americanism found in their statesmen, are simply pharisaical. Treating Syria and Venezuela as enemies but blessing Egypt and Saudi Arabia as friends betrays American values, and shows the rest of the world our hypocrisy.

*I think we are going to agree to disagree here. In my mind, the decision to place missile defense (which is next to useless anyway) over Georgian and Ukrainian NATO membership to be one of the worst lapses in judgment Bush has had. But if you wish to equate the death of 4,000 Georgians to the Macarena, be my guest.

*I broadly agree with you on Russia, but it was hardly an unsalvageable situation. I would contrast Bush's role here to that of Bush Sr. (BR, this is for you!) Bush Sr. managed the disintegration of the Soviet Empire, convinced the Russians to let a reunited Germany enter NATO, and received Russian support for the First Gulf War- and all this within one term. Granted, it cost him monthly face-to-face meetings with Gorbachev (and an election, now that I think about it...) but he still did it.

*I think you might be underestimating world opinion. While you are right, Western leaders are a bunch of Americophiles, this does not mean that we are guaranteed pro-American policies. A hypocritical or tyrannical U.S. (see my comments about the Saudis above or past conversations we have had about torture here on Three Sources) is often the determinate of whether there is a young Jordanian detonating an IED in Afghanistan, and if the men targeted are German or American.

Finally, here are my Presidential lists. I really hate this exercise, but will go ahead and do so because BR asked politely.

IN TERMS OF PRESIDENTIAL EFFECTIVENESS

Buchanan
Peirce
A. Johnson
Harding
Bush Jr.

IN TERMS OF LEGACY FOR AMERICA

F. Roosevelt
Hoover
Buchanan
Peirce
Jackson

Now, I have a question for JK- I have seen you reference Coolidge and Fed 10 a dozen times now. Perhaps I am just unfamiliar with the Coolidge administration, or I might be reading something funny in into Fed 10, but I do not understand the connection you are drawing between the two. Perhaps you could enlighten me?

~T. Greer, list-maker.

Posted by: T. Greer at December 31, 2008 3:48 PM
But jk thinks:

Mea Maxima Culpa, tg. You do catch me in error. I remember #10 as being Madison's call for a forceful C-in-C and #69 as calling for Executive restraint in legislation. I have 69 right but not 10 (67?). Sorry, color me embarrassed.

In Meacham's "American Lion" I loved that Henry Clay and John C. Calhoun were horrified that President Jackson would veto a bill just because he didn't like it. They were convinced, and got Madison to privately concur (sort of), that this was overreach. The veto was for unconstitutional legislation -- and this crass business of energizing public opinion against legislation, why this must not stand! It hasn't really been uphill since then, has it?

Bad citations aside, I consider Coolidge the last of the "Chief Magistrates" as opposed to "King of the Universe" presidents. (And the maligned Harding was 2nd-to-last).

We'll agree to disagree on "my points" but I am appalled by your response to br. You've got into my head on this. I am a worse military tactician than academic. But the unproductive butchery in the Civil War and WWII are well documented. I respect Lincoln's firm leadership as an exact parallel of my appreciation for W. I even salute the war leadership of FDR though I hate his domestic heresies. But to say that either had a better plan or made fewer or less costly mistakes is to torture history.

I'll stand by my sentiment that Churchill, Reagan, and Bush all cozied up to unpleasant leaders to continue the fight against a worse foe. History has borne out Reagan and Churchill; perhaps it's too soon to call Bush, but I think time will be kind to the idea of keeping alliances with Muslims in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan to fight (Hussein's) Iraq, Iran and Syria.

(Is Venezuela an enemy? We buy gobs of oil and allow him to speak at the UN.)

I don't consider missile defense worthless. We can disagree there. I cry for the squashing of nascent democracy on Russia's borders but I can't look you in the eye and say I was ready to enforce NATO obligations against her last year.

To end the year on a happy note: yes, opportunities were missed to improve Russian relations. And thanks for the word "pharisaical." That's awesome. Happy New Year, my friend.

Posted by: jk at December 31, 2008 6:58 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

@JK-

Lincoln had definite goals and procedures in waging war. Lincoln sacked generals who did bad, and for more than just not liking him. Lincoln developed rules for the treatment of Southern civilians and slaves. Lincoln developed a broad plan for victory, and knew what needed to be accomplished (and more importantly, had an idea of how to do it) before he would end the fighting. While doing all of this, Lincoln managed some tough diplomacy with Great Britain and France.

Washington created and standardized an army from the ground up. He developed a sound logistics train and officer core, and convinced the state governments to give him the troops he needed to fight with. Likewise, he developed a broad strategy for victory over the British force which was applied by all Continental generals.

FDR determined what would constitute victory and pursued such with (again!) a well thought out strategic vision. To do this, he revolutionized the American war-machine, played some smart diplomacy to keep various allies on board and in check, and developed rules for the treatment of the enemy and resistance groups.

In each of these cases, the man in charge defined what they would accept as victory, developed a long-term strategic plan to achieve victory, and successfully dealt with the logistic and diplomatic problems facing the war effort.

It is my proposition that Bush failed on all three counts.

I do think we will have to put the matter of American values vs. American friends off for a different day- I am sure that I can write pages on the matter, and I do not want this to overwhelm the discussion. (However, if you wish to continue on this line of thought, I will be glad to oblige.)

--Well, I would characterize the relationship between Venezuela and the U.S. and mutually hostile. I will remind you that we allowed Ahmedinijad to speak at not only the UN, but Columbia University. ---

~T. Greer, trying to find a good place to put that word for more than a week now.

Posted by: T. Greer at December 31, 2008 8:04 PM
But jk thinks:

We're almost off the page here. Nature's way of telling you to stop beating a dead horse.

I don't remember saying that President Bush was better than Lincoln and Washington. I expressed real astonishment that you and jg called him one of the worst.

You may not have liked Bush's plan, style, diplomacy, treatment of combatants, and definition of victory but it is specious to claim that he did not have them. And ahistoric to claim that Lincoln excelled in these areas.

War opponents complained that he moved the goalposts from "a free, democratic Iraq" to "a stable Iraq at peace with its neighbors and an ally of the United States in the War On Terror." In neither of those do I not hear a clear definition of victory.

I think Bush, Rumsfeld, & Co. were too patient after the Golden Dome of Samara (sp?) was bombed. There are times for patience and staying the course, but they should have acted sooner. Beyond that, I think the war was justified and pretty well prosecuted. Not perfect, but when I manage a perfect software project I'll start asking American Presidents to project power halfway around the world without error.

Funny, reading your list I think "Bush did that." He defined victory, worked out a plan with his Generals and SecDef, and managed extremely delicate relations in the UN and with hesitant allies. He even rebuilt the military into the light footprint, high-tech, distributed command force of which you disapprove.

Bush "developed rules for the treatment of the enemy and resistance groups." You may not like them, but you cannot claim that he ignored. His rules have been adjudicated in the Supreme Court several times. If you think they're too harsh, fine. But I humbly suggest you do not bring up Saint Franklin Delano Lets-lock-up-everybody-who-looks-like-our-enemies Roosevelt as the gold standard. (I'll see your Hamidan v. Rumsfeld and raise you a Korematsu v. United States).

When I read David Frum's "The Right Man," I was convinced that President Bush would be remembered as one of the best. Frum has abandoned him and I have cooled. But I will still put the dude in the top half.

And I expect to miss his integrity and his willingness to take a tough stand.

Posted by: jk at January 1, 2009 12:25 PM

December 15, 2008

No Shoes Were Harmed in Making Thnis Video

I've seen the shoe-throwing video a few times and cannot fault any news director anywhere for showing it. But if anybody is looking for a little balance:





Hat-tip: Instapundit who also links to Roger Simon, who sees the incident's representing the inchoate free society that Iraq is:

while they were sneering Iraq has inched forward toward a democracy. It’s even turning into a (somewhat) decent place to live. That buffoon-like shoe chucker - his name is Muntazer al-Zaidi from Al-Baghdadia channel which broadcasts from Cairo - proved it. No matter what happens to al-Zaidi now (and it won't be much if anything), it will be nothing like what would have happened to him if he had hurled a shoe at the president during the previous Iraqi administration of Saddam Hussein.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:53 AM | Comments (1)
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

There could not have been a more brilliant illustration of how far Iraq has come since Saddam was toppled. The Refugee hopes the left wing is not too busy chortling to get this larger point.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at December 15, 2008 12:34 PM

August 30, 2008

Bush 43: History's First Review

Between convention fever and a certain candidate's brilliant choice of a capitalist running dog running mate, I don't want to let this slip away.

Yale Professor John Lewis Gaddis scored a Samizdata Quote of the Day. When I followed the link, I felt his entire article to be worthy of a full read.

Gaddis talks about history's rehabilitating Presidential reputations even when they leave office in unpopularity. I've remained certain that President Bush is due for some better press in the history books than he got in the NY Times. And Gaddis may be a step toward the rehabilitation.

Presidential revisionism tends to begin with small surprises. How, for instance, could a Missouri politician like Truman who never went to college get along so well with a Yale-educated dandy like Acheson? How could Eisenhower, who spoke so poorly, write so well? How could Reagan, the prototypical hawk, want to abolish nuclear weapons? Answering such questions caused historians to challenge conventional wisdom about these Presidents, revealing the extent to which stereotypes had misled their contemporaries.

So what might shift contemporary impressions of President Bush? I can only speak for myself here, but something I did not expect was the discovery that he reads more history and talks with more historians than any of his predecessors since at least John F. Kennedy. The President has surprised me more than once with comments on my own books soon after they’ve appeared, and I’m hardly the only historian who has had this experience. I’ve found myself improvising excuses to him, in Oval Office seminars, as to why I hadn’t read the latest book on Lincoln, or on—as Bush refers to him—the “first George W.” I’ve even assigned books to Yale students on his recommendation, with excellent results.


Excuse me? President Bush recommending books to a Yale History Professor? Don't let that one get out, man, you'll ruin his reputation.

The whole (magazine-length) article is superb. Does anybody recognize this magazine? Is it British? It looks pretty good. (UPDATE: No, not UK based. The masthead lists Francis Fukuyama, Walter Russell Mead & Josef Joffe and an eclectic list of contributors.)

Posted by John Kranz at 1:08 PM | Comments (0)

August 10, 2008

It's Good to be the President...

He said he was going to Beijing to support the athletes:


w_walsh.jpg


AP Photo, hat-tip: Insty

Posted by John Kranz at 10:59 AM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

Hoo-rah, time for some Olympics blogging!

I've been very proud every time I've seen the Prez serving as "fan in chief" at the Beijing Olympics. I completely disagree with Byron York (Fox News Sunday, 8/10/08) and others who suggest Bush would have made a stronger statement against Chinese totalitarianism by staying home.

Brother JK and I have debated a few times whether the China glass is half full or half empty. I think we agree though that it becomes fuller when we engage with them than if we don't.

And how about W's reacton when the USA national anthem was bungled during the first of many gold medal ceremonies for Michael Phelps? It's cut short (ironically) in this YouTube video but you can see that he laughed it off, although when I saw it live he seemed to be thinking "what's so hard about playing a recorded audio track from beginning to end? (I thought the same thing but I wasn't laughing.) Not only was it cut short but the first two lines were repeated, perhaps to make up for leaving off "Oh say can you..." when it first began!

I saw much of the opening ceremony on Friday and agree that it was spectacular. But when something as simple as this is botched... what a shame.

Posted by: johngalt at August 10, 2008 5:27 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

The Refugee is having trouble believing it was an accident that they cut the recording just as it came to the phrase, "O'er the land of the free..." If it was an accident, then it was one of Freudian proportions.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 11, 2008 3:54 PM

June 16, 2008

Not the Only One Who Will Miss This Guy

I had wanted to link to this post last week. It seems we may be down to single digits (not percent -- actually fewer than ten people) who still have a fondness for our 43rd President. But I count myself in that number -- and Terri does too (at least last Thursday, they're dropping like flies...)

Natan Sharansky, the patron saint of this blog, puts the President's farewell European tour in historical perspective:

But while Mr. Bush is widely seen by Europeans as a religious cowboy with a Manichean view on the world, Europe's growing rift with America predates the current occupant of the White House. When a French foreign minister, Hubert Védrine, declared that his country "cannot accept a politically unipolar world, nor a culturally uniform world, nor the unilateralism of a single hyper power," President Clinton was in the seventh year of his presidency and Mr. Bush was still governor of Texas.

The title of the guest editorial is "Democracies Can't Compromise on Core Values." Whoever wins in November, I suspect 1600 Pennsylvania will be populated by someone far more likely than President Bush to compromise on core democratic values.

Posted by John Kranz at 3:44 PM | Comments (0)

March 14, 2008

Say It Ain't So!

"Jimmy P" previews a bit of Larry Kudlow's interview with President Bush tonight, and it is not good news:

But just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are no libertarians during financial crises, at least not if it's their dough at stake. And while there are plenty of economists out there who are advocating a hands-off approach to the credit crisis and housing implosion—echoing Andrew Mellon's infamous advocacy of "liquidate...liquidate...liquidate"—they will be disappointed. Uncle Sam will probably continue to intervene during this financial turmoil.
[...]
Indeed, President Bush has almost gone out of his way not to rule out a bailout. Nor did he do so in a speech to the Economic Club of New York this morning. And in an interview on CNBC today with Lawrence Kudlow, the president basically said that in extraordinary situations, extraordinary action is required.

And --as Bluto said, "This calls for a pointless gesture!"

I easily scored a new loan for my new Condo the other day. I have approval but have not locked the rate or selected the exact vehicle. I am thinking I should get a 2-year ARM and wait for our new Democratic overlords to pay it (Sorry for the density of pop culture references, I'm pretty upset.)

I look forward to watching the interview (5 PM EST on CNBC). I doubt Larry will let that go easily.

Posted by John Kranz at 3:27 PM | Comments (2)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Uh, ESPECIALLY when it's my dough at stake, that's when I want the government to stay the f--- out of things.

Economic crises are when you can tell who are REAL libertarians, and who are closet interventionists.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at March 15, 2008 1:15 PM
But johngalt thinks:

A person who has the earth beneath his feet turned to quicksand by meddlesome "soil stabilization experts" and then refuses a rope from those same experts is not called a libertarian; he's called an idealistic pauper.

If everyone else is playing with Monopoly Money too then you have no choice but to maximize your pile right along with them. (And keep your pantry well stocked.)

Posted by: johngalt at March 15, 2008 3:06 PM

February 19, 2008

We're Gonna Miss This Guy

William McGurn has a guest editorial in the WSJ today, recounting his experience on both sides of the Press Corps vs. White House contretemps. McGurn says in three years "You see who's a straight shooter, and who's full of snark. You see who's smart, and whose outrageous behavior would have made its way to Drudge had it involved White House staffers instead of White House correspondents." He chooses three things where President Bush was right and persevered.

Of course, if you are one of those experts who reassured us that a "well managed defeat" in Iraq was the way for America to go, you don't like hearing the president use plain words like "win" and "victory." Then again, you're not the audience George W. Bush worries about. During one of my first meetings in the Oval Office, the president told me and my fellow speechwriters that we must always be mindful of how his words would sound to the enemy -- and how they would sound to the young Marine risking his life against that enemy in some dusty town in Afghanistan or Iraq.

President Bush hasn't always been right. But he's been right on the things that matter most, and he's been willing to take the heat. I, for one, admire him for it.


I have had my differences with W over the years (fewer than most around here) but think we will all recognize, as Jay Nordlinger said, we are going to miss this guy.

Posted by John Kranz at 3:50 PM

December 19, 2007

A Tale of Two Tales on the Omnibus Spending Bill

First, as is my custom, I read the Wall Street Journal. The Editorial page offers "One Budget Cheer" for the President. (free link)

As we at the Journal debated Washington's latest spending deal yesterday, one of our tribe noted that it is the best budget of the Bush Presidency. To which someone else quipped that that was "the soft bigotry of low expectations."

They enumerate the good, bad and ugly
The good news is that Democrats conceded to Mr. Bush's spending cap of $933 billion in domestic discretionary spending for 2008--or $22 billion less than Democrats proposed in their spring budget resolution. Over five years, that $22 billion will save about $205 billion because it won't become part of the annual "baseline" that the pols use as a starting point for next year's automatic budget increases. This is a modest but real victory.

[...]Gone are limits on union disclosure reports. Gone, too, is an expansion of Davis-Bacon demands to pay prevailing union wages even on non-union work sites[...]

Oh, and Congress is also funding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to the tune of $70 billion--something Democratic leaders had vowed not to do.

And yet this is hardly a lean or mean budget. When combined with the Defense spending bill that has already been signed, Congress will still exceed Mr. Bush's $933 billion "top-line" thanks to about $11 billion in budget gimmicks and "emergency" spending.


And pork, pork, pork.

I was planning to post this with a contrarian pragmatist commentary, even though I got "bit in the ass" a couple of days ago. We have two houses of Democrats, the President needs to fund the war, I figured this as a pretty good day's work. But I'm still a little sore form that bite.

Don Luskin gives me cover. He calls it Sweet Victory and says that the good guys are going to win.

Following repeated veto threats, the compromise now -- approved 76-17 by the Senate -- cuts $17.5 billion from prior House-passed bills or about 80% of what Democrats once hoped to add to the president's top line.

And offers "frosting on the cake:"
The Democrats’ yearlong fight to boost federal spending on children’s health insurance ended with a whimper Tuesday.

After coming up short in their efforts to enact a $35 billion expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) — enduring two presidential vetoes along the way — congressional Democrats signed off on Republican demands to extend the program until 2009.


Ten points for a T.S. Eliot allusion, and 20 for the Congressional GOP. The SCHIP defeat is important in a way that cutting pork is not. I'd love a lean budget, I'd love last year's levels, I'd love to have Mitt Romney's hair.

The war is important. The SCHIP battle was important. The Democrats control both houses. Most Republicans are completely worthless. Factor all this in, and count me in the victory party with Mr. Luskin.

UPDATE: Make that Three Americas. The Club for Growth won't go as far as the WSJ. They list the no votes with congrats.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:00 PM

December 6, 2007

a hearty, quarter cheer for Sec. Paulson

The lead editorial (paid link) in the WSJ today has a funny, self deprecating lede:

The next time we suggest that the government give advice to the private sector, tie us down until the fever passes. A couple months ago, we endorsed the idea of mortgage service companies voluntarily negotiating with subprime borrowers and investors to avoid a wave of defaults next year. Now come the politicians to wrap their arms around the idea, and maybe give the U.S. a reputation for forcibly rewriting financial contracts. Don't cry for us, Argentina?

They then get a little more serious, and question just how "voluntary" a plan is when it is negotiated by the US Treasury Department.
We wonder what these parties really think. Offering free advice is one thing. But when the feds sit down as a negotiating partner, the line between moral suasion and coercion starts to blur. Companies begin to think they're hearing an offer they can't refuse. So perhaps we should call it the Not Paulson bailout.

This plan seems to have it all: moral hazard, tax subsidies (States can issue tax free bonds to facilitate refinancing), and plenty of blood in the water to attract the tort bar:
The U.S. economic and legal systems are built on the sanctity of contract, and even the hint that government is compelling investors who now own these mortgages (the banks having sold them as bundled securities) to take less money puts the U.S. on a very dangerous road. At a minimum, it will raise the future risk premium that investors will demand for investing in U.S. real estate, which means it will be costlier to get a mortgage in the future.

What's so good about this plan? The Democratic House has one that is much worse, as does Senator Clinton:
Many in the Bush Administration and mortgage industry privately agree that this is dubious policy, but they plead that it's better than the alternatives being offered on Capitol Hill. These include "antipredatory lending" laws and new bankruptcy provisions that are punitive and would delay any recovery in the mortgage market. Right on time, Hillary Clinton weighed in with the truly awful idea of freezing subprime mortgage rates for five years -- presumably, through the end of her re-election campaign in 2012. She'd combine price controls and contract repudiation -- an Argentina double.

Doing nothing is proudly suggested by my wingnut friends at the WSJ Ed Page, but everybody knows it is not an option. In a choice between the lame "Not Paulson Bailout" and a new SarbOx for lenders, it's easy to choose sides:

go president bush, go secretary paulson. yaay.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:26 AM

December 1, 2007

Dana!

Terri at I Think ^(Link) Therefore I Err shares my appreciation for press secratery Dana Perino, bringing us this exchange with Helen Thomas:

Q Why should we depend on him?

MS. PERINO: Because he is the commander on the ground, Helen. He’s the one who is making sure that the situation is moving —

Q You mean how many more people we kill?

MS. PERINO: Helen, I find it really unfortunate that you use your front row position, bestowed upon you by your colleagues, to make such statements. This is a — it is an honor and a privilege to be in the briefing room, and to suggest that we, at the United States, are killing innocent people is just absurd and very offensive.

Q Do you know how many we have since the start of this war?

MS. PERINO: How many — we are going after the enemy, Helen. To the extent that any innocent Iraqis have been killed, we have expressed regret for it.

Q Oh, regret. It doesn’t bring back a life.

MS. PERINO: Helen, we are in a war zone, and our military works extremely hard to make sure that everyone has the opportunity for liberty and freedom and democracy, and that is exactly what they are doing.

I’m going to move on.


Someday, won't even the press corps become embarassed with Ms. Thomas?

Posted by John Kranz at 3:47 PM

November 28, 2007

Kind Words for a Bush Appointee

Gregory Mankiw says choosing Keith Hennessey to replace Al Hubbard as the head of the National Economic Council is "an excellent choice."

Posted by John Kranz at 5:59 PM

September 2, 2007

Later, Tony!

Can we take up a collection and give this guy a million dollars to stick around through the end of the term?

Duane R. Patterson, on Hugh Hewitt’s blog, shares this:

It's a little long and will cause severe eye-rolling among some ThreeSourcers. I can find places to separate from the President on polity or ideas, but I take Snow's assessment at face value.

Posted by John Kranz at 6:52 PM

August 17, 2007

Karl Rove

Former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson pens a nice piece about "the architect."

But in several years as a colleague, I found Rove to be the most unusual political operative I have ever known; so exceptional he doesn't belong in the category. His most passionate, obsessive love -- after his wife -- is American history. He visits its shrines and collects its scraps -- carefully archived pictures of President William McKinley's funeral, original ballots from the 1860 election. And from American history Rove knows: Events are not moved primarily by techniques; they are moved by ideas.

Rove's main influence on the Republican Party has not been a series of tactical innovations but a series of strategic arguments. In this way, Rove is the opposite of a cynical political operator. He is not only a partisan for George W. Bush but the most serious, tireless advocate of Bushism.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:16 PM

August 9, 2007

Lame Duck This!

Please oh please oh please let this bylined story in the WaPo be true.

President Bush said yesterday that he is considering a fresh plan to cut tax rates for U.S. corporations to make them more competitive around the world, an initiative that could further inflame a battle with the Democratic Congress over spending and taxes and help define the remainder of his tenure.

That would be a good fight to spend the balance of his tenure upon. It's a good story, covering Bush's tough stance on letting his signature tax cuts expire, and the fight over whether a Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae bailout is the best solution for the "subprime-lending-crisis." Senator Schumer and Congressman Frank, mirabile non dictu, think that's a good idea.

Thankfully, for a year and a half, we have the right person in the White House.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:39 AM

July 11, 2007

Defecit Narrows

WSJ (Paid):

WASHINGTON -- The White House's deficit forecast for the current fiscal year has narrowed to $205 billion, an administration official said Wednesday.

The number is to be released later Wednesday, along with the White House's mid-session review, an update of its budget outlook. At $205 billion, the budget gap would be below the Office of Management and Budget's earlier forecast of $244 billion and last year's $248 billion deficit. The current fiscal year ends on Sept. 30.

The budget revision isn't a surprise. The deficit forecast is typically revised downward, and departing budget director Rob Portman told reporters last month that the fiscal 2007 deficit would be closer to $200 billion than the administration's earlier estimate, which was issued in February.

Mr. Portman is leaving Washington to spend more time with his family in Ohio. Former Rep. Jim Nussle (R., Iowa) has been nominated to succeed Mr. Portman.


There was some chatter on Kudlow the other day that Rep Nussle may be able to communicate the success of the Bush tax cuts better than Mr. Portman. I was sorry he was stolen from TeamRudy2088! but wish him success.

Posted by John Kranz at 9:47 AM | Comments (4)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Note the Democrats' claim that it's just normal economic growth -- as if the tax cuts had nothing to do with encouraging the growth in the first place.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at July 11, 2007 5:07 PM
But jk thinks:

Silly, the tax cuts caused the deficit -- don't you watch the news?

Posted by: jk at July 11, 2007 7:59 PM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

jk,..define "news." Katie Couric's floundering at SeeBS, or Fox?

;-)

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at July 12, 2007 10:01 AM
But jk thinks:

Katie thinks that the tax cuts caused the deficit; Fox thinks that
*** NEWS ALERT ***
Body of a naked, attractive white woman is found in Red State. We now cut to Geraldo at the East Bejeesus Sheriff's office. Geraldo?
*** NEWS ALERT ***

Posted by: jk at July 13, 2007 5:27 PM

July 9, 2007

Part D Medicare Open Thread

My ruthless SQL script closes comments on all entries older than seven days. This is about the time they roll off the front page. If anybody wants that policy amended, I'm all ears.

A running thread about President Bush, the "ownership society," and political pragmatism has spanned a few entries and inspired thoughtful comments from Perry Eidlebus (Eidelblog) and Terri (I think (^link) therefore I err). Perry suggests that he is not done, and I'm always game. Consider this an invitation to seven more days.

I'll briefly recap my position. President Bush's "ownership society" initiatives are disconcerting to small government types (among whom I normally number myself). They do NOT reduce the size, cost or influence of the Federal government. No Child Left Behind (NCLB) greatly expands Federal influence in education, contravening the spirit and likely the letter of the Ninth Amendment. Medicare Part D (Prescription drug benefit) was a huge, new entitlement and future liability. The private Social Security accounts did not proceed too far through legislative process, but would likely have been larded up with additional benefits to secure passage.

I contend that all of these had -- as a redeeming factor -- a "seed crystal" of a market mechanism: NCLB called for testing of schools and vouchers to help those in the worst schools escape. Part D did not set up the government as the purchaser and payer for drugs, but required participants to select a private insurer through whom prescriptions would be purchased.

You hear many tepid qualifiers in my non-fulsome defense. It scares me to expand government and the President likely gave up too much on all of them. But, in the absence of these programs, there would have been calls for less market-friendly solutions to the same problems. as we hear in the Democratic debates.

Fundamentally, I remind those who abhor these compromises that we're on the same side. I'm a bad warrior because I see that we do not have the political strength to prevail. I remain happy to get pieces of what I want in bad, ugly packages.

Let the games begin!

Perry:

[D]id you close comments in that other thread from late June? We're not done talking about Part D, and I'm not done with Terri. I genuinely am a nice guy, but I have this tendency to be merciless. Or we could continue things on my blog, but if Terri doesn't join in, it wouldn't be as fun for me.

By the way, Terri, I get plenty of fresh air myself. My neighbors can spot me wearing a Rocky IV "I must break you" T-shirt when I go out for a couple of miles. But all the natural surroundings in the world won't do you a damn bit of good when you don't realize that you're advocating a lifestyle by which some people live at the expense of others.

Posted by John Kranz at 3:19 PM | Comments (27)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

"My world view include a world that was not created for you individually."

There's another of your problems. It's always about your view, about you and other redistributors imposing *your* view on others, against their will. You never consider that a single person and his household merely want to be left alone. They don't want to harm others, they don't want to coerce tax dollars from anyone else, and they ask only that others do the same.

"And one that has shown that many individuals do not treat it with the respect it merits."

Which means what? Are you saying people don't treat the world with the respect it merits? That's your opinion.

"Keeping your $ in your wallet to a certain extent is the better system. However this country is better than others because it's also tempered with other bits."

You said "to a certain extent." What's the number, then?

Actually, this country is better despite those other bits. This country has prospered because of a great deal of relative freedom, despite having an absurdly high corporate income tax (now the highest in the world), largely on the entrepreneurial and innovative strength of its people. Also, our land hasn't been repeatedly torn up by wars, unlike much of Europe.

"(I know of no successful "Libertarian" country. Our founding fathers knew that changes would need to be made along the way and provided for those.)"

In fact, this country originally was very libertarian, if you bother to read what the Constitution set up, and how land and taxes worked. It didn't last long. Learn your history.

"The morality of taking from you comes from what you have taken from me. Your well uses water that is coming from a source that is "owned" by all of us. The more you use, the less I have."

So your argument is that because I'm taking water from everyone else, that justifies you and everyone else using government to seize half of my earnings. That's some damn expensive water.

The water comes from underground, which ultimately comes from the reservoirs nearby. There's more than enough water for everybody, so much so that the reservoirs help feed New York City. Installing and maintaining a pipe system is minimal, and hardly worthy of stealing half of each of my paychecks, do you not agree?

If anything, New York City residents should be paying me and my neighbors for taking our water. As it stands, I pay a 2% income tax to NYC, though I don't live there and don't consume any city services I don't already pay for.

"You house was built on land that was originally paid for in tax dollars (even if via the military)."

You forget that my landlord had to buy the land to have the house built. Thus he paid the previous owner, who in turn paid the previous owner, and so on, until ultimately it was a single person who settled on land that nobody claimed. At the time, whatever land you cleared and built a house on became yours. Nobody paid any taxes; it was never asked.

In my part of Westchester, New York, it did not require the military to secure it. The only military involvement in my area may have been during the Revolutionary War. This area has been settled for 250 years or so. However, that wasn't even government protecting the rights of the people. It was people revolting against government, and you forget that one of the colonists' grievances was that the Crown prevented them from settling west.

"Your business thrives because laws are in place that help the people who are keeping it thriving to trust it."

Clearly you've never had more than a minor function in helping a business run. I've helped manage one, a retail shop. A good business needs no help whatsoever from government, not even laws, to "help" the business, or "help" its customers "trust" it. A business license does not make a shop owner trustworthy, or even fire safety regulations. If I don't think a building is safe, I simply won't go inside. The free market solution is that a store owner can hire a trusted person, perhaps a retired fire marshall, who will certify the building as safe according to his standards. People will want to go to that building more than a dilapidated firetrap.

You make a lot of general statements there but have no substance, no details by which to justify them. Exactly how does a government, then, keep a business "trusted" through laws?

"I have been known on more than a few occasions to send a few hundred dollars anonymously to startup local businesses who are worthwhile and going through that scary start up phase. When was the last time you did that?"

Never. I don't bother with such foolishness. I give to people who are actually in need. Do you see how ridiculous you sound to say "that scary start up phase"? Show me one business owner who's homeless, who wakes up in the morning and is unsure whether he or she will eat that day. The homeless woman could only hope to be so lucky to worry about having a successful business.

"Your judgments of me are bizarro."

No, I just see the world for what it is. You have a lot of crazy notions and priorities, and you still fail to address what I've previously said. Are you so thick-headed in real life that nobody can have a meaningful intellectual discussion with you?

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at July 13, 2007 4:53 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Actually, HB, I'm becoming more and more anarcho-capitalist. It's cheaper to bribe the bandits with 10% or even 20%, than give more to the government. As I've blogged before, and I'll find the link for you later, the bandits will take 10% rather than have to fight you. The government, on the other hand, has the authority to demand as much from you as is necessary.

I have a problem with the typical concept of law. Laws are about how government administers its own business, not our own lives. We already have our natural rights of life, liberty and property, with no need of "law" to tell us that they exist or how they are to be defended.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at July 13, 2007 5:00 PM
But jk thinks:

Dagny hits the nail on the head. I do not have a "Pragmatist Philosophy;" I exhibit pragmatic behavior and try to encourage the same from others.

Perry, I find the "anarcho-capitalist" view of law at opposition with your hero, Frederic Bastiat's theory of just law. History is pretty well populated with bandits who exceeded their natural 10% limitation capriciously when opportunities arose.

Posted by: jk at July 13, 2007 5:37 PM
But Harrison Bergeron thinks:

Perry,

Peter Leeson of George Mason has done some interesting work on anarcho-capitalism that you might be interested in:

Efficient Anarchy

Trading with Bandits

Posted by: Harrison Bergeron at July 14, 2007 11:27 AM
But dagny thinks:

It occurs to me that in posting comment number 26 on the same subject I may be beating the proverbial dead horse but here goes anyway.

Terri asks, “are you saying that if 51% of the people want X and 49% don't and Congress has created the law and it has passed the test(s) of the Supreme Court that at that point I should say that the 49% get their way?"

Yes, the 49% should get their way IF their way supports individual rights and the 51% want to remove individual rights.

I am saying that the proper constitutional and, not coincidentally, moral criterion by which to judge whether to support or oppose a Law X is based on whether the law adds to or usurps individual rights. It doesn’t really matter what 49% want or what 51% want or what the Supreme Court decides.

To go back to the original example, I therefore oppose Part D as it seriously usurps the individual rights of millions of American taxpayers including myself.

What part of this isn’t clear? On what possible basis beside some collectivist argument about need can it be disputed?

At least I noted that Terri answered the question of who should decide. She seems to think the final authority should rest with the Supreme Court. I think that is only 9 people, most of them men, and only 5 have to agree on any given item. Are you willing to let those 9 people make your decisions? I’m sure JK can provide you and extensive list of really bad Supreme Court decisions over the years.

Kelo v. the city of New London anyone?

Posted by: dagny at July 15, 2007 2:09 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

jk, history is replete with examples of any criminal taking advantage of a situation. The reason a bandit wouldn't want more than 10% from me is because he'd rather have a constant stream of 10% and peaceably keep his life, instead of risking probable death for gaining all my possessions. Besides, bandits don't want their victims to die, just like government and all other parasites.

While my anarchist leanings may seem at odds with Bastiat, it's the difference between agreeing on principle and agreeing on specifics. For example, I agree with Ron Paul on the principles of cultivating trade instead of alliances, and a non-interventionist foreign policy where we leave other nations to their own destinies unless they're threatening us. But, I disagree on the specific example of Iraq. Many libertarians today "agree" with Democrats on the specifics of Iraq and the Bush Administration's disregard for the Fourth Amendment, but they do not agree with the principle -- in the case of Feinstein, Leahy, et al, it's not what's right, but political opportunism.

I agree with Bastiat's principle of the nature of law. "Law is justice," and its sole purpose is to defend an individual's life, liberty and property. If a law takes money from someone to give to another person, then it's a bad law and must be repealed. We don't need law to have justice, because justice existed before law (remember that thing about "Life, liberty and property do not exist because men created laws."). If someone murdered someone close to me, I would blow the ****er away if I can, and that would be justice.

Where I appear to disagree with Bastiat, but I really don't, is the specifics of today's laws. When you think about it, a good laws does not tie down people, but rather the *government*. The Constitution is the Supreme Law of the Land, for example. Good laws, then, are purely administrative so that limited government knows what to do with itself, such as a neighborhood specifying a head tax to hire a constable at $X per year. Because everyone pays equally, and the benefit is shared equally (any victim of a crime can summon the constable), it is not a bad law since it does not redistribute wealth. A bad law, by contrast, ties down the people by taxing New Yorkers to pay for West Virginians' roads, by giving subsidies to domestic agriculture, by placing tariffs and quotas on foreign goods, and so on.

When I talk about minimal government, I mean not much beyond a court system and basic police force. What we have today, under the guise of "law," is so perverse that I'd rather have full anarcho-capitalism. Bastiat would cry at all the laws we have. Virtually all our laws today don't tie down government or lay out how it functions administratively. They instead tie down the people. We're in such a sorry state that we pass laws to "give" ourselves freedom, to "permit" ourselves to do things, instead of passing laws to *affirm* that government cannot infringe upon our rights.

So it follows, dagny, that a good law by definition does not infringe upon the rights of any individual, let alone any minority as great as 50% minus one person. There's no need for a tyranny of nine to decide if a law seizes from one to give to another. The people can see for themselves. The first recourse is to vote. The second is to protest. The third is to apply tar and feathers. The fourth is to shoot and shoot well.

BTW, Randy Barnett and I talked about the SCOTUS a little. He disagrees with me that the country can be ruled by a mere five, but what happened with Plessy v. Ferguson? Brown v. Board? Roe v. Wade? Raich v. Gonzalez? All it takes is five to decide, and the entire country's course can reverse.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at July 17, 2007 3:57 PM

April 15, 2007

Tax Day Coffee Smelling

Officially, tax day isn't until Tuesday (due to the 15th being on a Sunday and the 16th being an official holiday in D.C.) but the well known and lamented date of April 15th mustn't go by without some discussion of the state of taxation in America.

"Work hard. Be faithful. You'll get your just reward."

Those words appear on a statuette my father was given on the occasion of the closing of the College of Engineering at the University of Denver, where he had tenure. (The statuette was of a conscientious gentleman with a giant blue screw through his torso.) They can just as well be applied to American taxpayers who have earned a high school diploma or better in their educational career.

sr12_chart7-lg.gif

The preceeding chart comes from a fascinating April 4, 2007 study report by Robert Rector et. al. of The Heritage Foundation entitled, 'The Fiscal Cost of Low-Skill Households to the U.S. Taxpayer.' The report summarizes the chart this way:

Chart 7 com­pares households headed by persons without a high school diploma to households headed by persons with a high school diploma or better. Whereas the dropout-headed household paid only $9,689 in taxes in FY 2004, the higher-skill households paid $34,629— more than three times as much. While dropout-headed households received from $32,138 to $43,084 in benefits, high-skill households received less: $21,520 to $30,819. The difference in government benefits was due largely to the greater amount of means-tested aid received by low-skill households.

Households headed by dropouts received $22,449 more in immediate benefits (i.e., direct and means-tested aid, education, and population-based services) than they paid in taxes. Higher-skill households paid $13,109 more in taxes than they received in imme­diate benefits.

OK, so you're probably wondering, what's new? What's new is the trend in dropout households in the U.S. According to the World Net Daily article that cites the study:

About two-thirds of illegal alien households are headed by someone without a high school degree. Only 10 percent of native-born Americans fit into that category.

I have advocated on these pages (and stand by it today) that immigration should be free and unlimited to non-criminal aliens, provided that citizenship (and voting rights) must still be earned and that entitlement programs that make immigrants a burden on the taxpayer are first reduced or eliminated.

The Rector report explains the realities we face.

Politically feasible changes in government policy will have little effect on the level of fiscal deficit generated by most low-skill households for decades. For example, to make the average low-skill household fiscally neutral (taxes paid equaling immediate benefits received plus interest on government debt), it would be necessary to eliminate Social Security, Medicare, all 60 means-tested aid programs and cut the cost of public education in half. It seems certain that, on average, low-skill households will generate deep fiscal deficits for the foreseeable future.

Hat tip: The Canadian Sentinel

Click continue reading to see the report's conclusion in its entirety.

Conclusion

Households headed by persons without a high school diploma are roughly 15 percent of all U.S. households. Overall, these households impose a significant fiscal burden on other taxpayers: The cost of the government benefits they consume greatly exceeds the taxes they pay to government. Before government undertakes to transfer even more economic resources to these households, it should have a very clear account of the magnitude of the economic transfers that already occur.

The substantial net tax burden imposed by low-skill U.S. households also suggests lessons for immigration pol­icy. Recently proposed immigration legislation would greatly increase the number of poorly educated immigrants entering and living in the United States.[12] Before this policy is adopted, Congress should examine carefully the potential negative fiscal effects of low-skill immigrant households receiving services.

Politically feasible changes in government policy will have little effect on the level of fiscal deficit generated by most low-skill households for decades. For example, to make the average low-skill household fiscally neutral (taxes paid equaling immediate benefits received plus interest on government debt), it would be necessary to eliminate Social Security, Medicare, all 60 means-tested aid programs and cut the cost of public education in half. It seems certain that, on average, low-skill households will generate deep fiscal deficits for the foreseeable future. Policies that reduce the future number of high school dropouts and other policies affecting future generations could reduce long-term costs.

Future government policies that would expand entitlement programs such as Medicaid would increase future deficits at the margin. Policies that reduced the out-of-wedlock childbearing rate or which increased the real educa­tional attainments and wages of future low-skill workers could reduce deficits somewhat in the long run.

Changes to immigration policy could have a much larger effect on the fiscal deficits generated by low-skill fam­ilies. Policies which would substantially increase the inflow of low-skill immigrant workers receiving services would dramatically increase the fiscal deficits described in this paper and impose substantial costs on U.S. taxpayers.

Posted by JohnGalt at 12:57 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

Mmmm coffee.

Bastiat talks about "the seen and the unseen." With all due respect, you -- and my brother in law -- and a lot of other people whom I highly respect -- love to point to a datum in the "seen" category and say "See?"

Lower income households provide less revenue and use more government services. Who is surprised? Those without a diploma will earn less than those with; illegal immigrants tend to be less educated than native born citizens, yup.

I contend, still, that the "unseen" value that these workers and consumers bring to the economy more than compensates for the increased use of public services. The educated in your table are able to earn what they do, in large part, because there is a less educated work force (stop him before he says "comparative advantage" -- too late!).

To allow the educated (or ambitious dropouts like me and AlexC) to get ahead and innovate frequently requires allowing them to leverage less-educated labor. As Ricardo showed, both will be wealthier.

Posted by: jk at April 15, 2007 2:06 PM

March 29, 2007

The Real Front Line in the Iraq War

I place great importance on the lessons of history. Unfortunately, having lived only since the early sixties (and having a mediocre public school education influenced by John Dewey) I wasn't aware of a counterinsurgency war in the fifties - fought by France and the Algerian government against Muslim extremists in that country - until today.

Arthur Herman, retired professor of History at George Mason and Georgetown Universities, explains on today's WSJ Ed page how the French ultimately defeated the combatants on foreign soil but were ultimately forced to surrender to them anyway.

What happened was this: while the French military had been concentrating on fighting the insurgency in the streets and mountains in Algeria, an intellectual and cultural insurgency at home, led by the French left and the media, had been scoring its own succession of victories.

(...)

Led by Jean-Paul Sartre, a campaign of denunciation got under way in which French forces were accused of being the equivalent of Nazis--an especially freighted charge coming only a decade and a half after World War II and the German occupation of France. Simone de Beauvoir, Sartre's companion, went so far as to say that the sight of a French army uniform had "the same effect on me that swastikas once did." Although many of the antiwar agitators were communists or leftist fellow travelers, their petitions and demonstrations included enough authentic heroes of the Resistance and eminent liberals like Francois Mauriac to bestow upon the movement a credible public image. The constant message it conveyed was that the true authors of violence in Algeria were not the FLN at all but the French, and that only when the latter departed would Algerians be able to sort out their destiny for themselves.

The French military and political leadership was completely blindsided by the attack. No amount of justification of the selective use of torture, not even the cancellation of the original authorization, could halt the criticism or stem the loss of public support for the war. Even as the FLN took to setting off bombs in France itself, leftist Catholic priests continued to raise funds for it, while those like Albert Camus who harbored doubts about the wisdom of handing victory to the terrorists were derided and silenced. The consensus that had informed French politics as late as 1956--namely, that abandoning Algeria was "unthinkable and unmentionable"--fell apart.

Divisions over Algeria doomed France's Fourth Republic. For its successor, the price of political survival was handing over Algeria to a totalitarian band that had lost the war on the battlefield but managed to win a stunning victory in France itself. The result was the massive flight of Algerian whites and, at home, a bloodbath as FLN terrorists put to death tens of thousands of Muslim Algerians who had been loyal to the French regime. Soldiers who had fought alongside the French were forced to swallow their medals before they were shot.

The "surge" is underway in Iraq. While long overdue it is, as Herman describes earlier in the piece, showing remarkable progress. [Read the whole thing.] But to avoid the same fate described above, America's domestic leaders need to initiate an intellectual surge on the home front. The survival of Iraqi patriots, and of America's ability to champion liberty anywhere in the world, hang in the balance.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:37 PM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

One aspect of the comparison is inapt. The French ran Algeria as a colony. I am all for coalescing free Western nations and all but the French had much more to be guilty about.

Posted by: jk at March 29, 2007 4:55 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Al Qaeda and their domestic apologists would certainly refer to Iraq as an American "colony" if they thought that would sour the American public's support for the counterinsurgency. Perhaps when "civil war" grows stale.

The vital point is that the Democrats, as tools of the far left, CAN lose this war for us if they aren't opposed in the arena of ideas. But they should be careful: Imagine how much more evil Bush will be to them when he declares a state of emergency and funds continued military action in Iraq by executive order - without congressional approval. I would support such a thing rather than see a repeat of Vietnam (or Algiers.)

Posted by: johngalt at March 29, 2007 5:31 PM

January 27, 2007

Responding to the Response

Hugh Hewitt brings us "An essay from an active duty officer with more than 25 years of service, addressed to his fellow USNA alum, Senator James Webb."

The essay is serious and forthright. Those who opposed Webb's Senate election and disagreed with his SOTU response will enjoy it. I know I did. One could criticize it for a bit of "SwiftBoating." I don't use that word as pejoratively as Senator Kerry, but I think that O'Neill and the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth erred when they mixed personal and trivial allegations with those that were far more serious.

In this essay (the officer is active duty and the piece is anonymous), the suggestion is made that the prickly, angry, ex-Republican, ex-SecNavy is still nursing a grudge over a "brigades" boxing match he lost to LTC Oliver North. It's an interesting bit of history and a better bit of gossip, seconded by another "boat school" alum who thought the same.

In the end, that critique has a little too much Oprah in it. I don't think it is fair to psychoanalyze Webb over the TV. Yet the same article makes serious points about the history of war from Thucydides and the history of the Democrats from the Civil War:

What we are witnessing today is the return of the worst hits of the Democratic Party. Going back to the American Civil War, Democrats were against THAT war and tried mightily to undermine President Lincoln. Those Democrats became known as Copperheads or Peace Democrats and, these were labels of which they were proud. They wanted the president to negotiate a peace with the Confederates and put an end to a far more bloody war than the war in Iraq when things were going so very wrong for the Union. So there is a long history of this behavior in the Democratic Party. There was a time they could only envision defeat, not victory. This was NOT true during WW I or WW II, but now the Democrats love to bring up Vietnam and the loss suffered there, and it remains for them the measuring stick against which all US military action MUST be compared. James Webb is a product of that policy failure and he is clearly embittered by it.

A great weekend-length read. As one commenter said:
Remind me NEVER to cross a Naval officer or Marine.

You'd think some folks would learn...

Posted by John Kranz at 1:21 PM | Comments (1)
But dagny thinks:

Human beings hardly ever learn from the experience of others. They learn; when they do, which isn't often, on their own, the hard way.

Robert Anson Heinlein

Posted by: dagny at January 27, 2007 4:40 PM

January 25, 2007

Senatorial Surrender Monkeys

First the Democrats...

US Senate panel opposes plan to send more troops to Iraq
"The committee adopted the measure by 12-9 vote with one Republican, Senator Chuck Hagel, breaking ranks to join the 11 Democrats on the panel in approving the resolution."

Then the Republicans...

Senate showdown looms for troop buildup in Iraq
"The Foreign Relations Committee approved the resolution Wednesday on a vote of 12-9, with Senator Chuck Hagel, Republican of Nebraska, joining 11 Democrats in supporting the measure."

Key GOP senator opposes Bush's Iraq plan
"Sen. John Warner, R-Virginia, is one of four principal sponsors of a compromise that would express the Senate's opposition to the additional deployment, but avoid calling it an "escalation" of the four-year-old war."

Brownback could back rival resolution against troop increase

War stage set: Congress v Bush
"And, with several Republicans advancing their own resolution opposing the president's troop deployment, Democrats are negotiating for a common wording that could lead to a bipartisan vote against the war."

All of this about-facing and navel gazing is nauseating, and unseemly for a stately body such as the United States Senate. But it does remind me of the way I felt back in 2003 when another group of surrender monkeys was wringing its hands. Here's what I said then and here's

what I say now.

Posted by JohnGalt at 7:44 PM

January 24, 2007

The Best Line

I forgot it, but Larry Kudlow did not:

"A future of hope and opportunity begins with a growing economy – and that is what we have. We are now in the 41st month of uninterrupted job growth – in a recovery that has created 7.2 million new jobs ... so far. Unemployment is low, inflation is low, and wages are rising. This economy is on the move – and our job is to keep it that way, not with more government but with more enterprise." - President Bush in last night's State of the Union

Posted by John Kranz at 3:39 PM

SOTU 2007

daybyday070124.jpg


I dug it. I'll concede that Glenn Reynolds is right and it did not move a lot of fence sitters, but it solidified my support.

The health care proposal is "Dead On Arrival" says Nina Easton of FORTUNE Magazine on FOXNews, according to her sources and no one disagrees. Arnold Kling gave it an A+, the Dems a DOA+. It is safe to say he doesn't have a chance in hell of getting it, but it might be something the GOP could build on for 2008. The health care hybrid is broken. The Democrats want to make it more collectivist, the Republicans more free market. That's a good fight.

Yes, he said "confront the serious problem of global warming." He gave it away, too. Not in trade for policy -- it was a throw away line. Does he expect the enviros will love him now? Get ready to hear "Even President Bush says..." many times. He sold the skeptics out for nothing. Even a crack whore commands some remuneration, Mr. President. The only serious flaw in the speech. It could have been worse. I suppose.

Was it me or was Senator Grassley weeping tears of joy when the President suggested more ethanol subsidies. The dude was crying! I suppose Senator Harkin was just too disheveled to actually show on TV.

The foreign policy pitch was perfect. Like Bill Kristol, I liked the attribution of setbacks in 2006 to our enemies' successes instead of our failures. I also was relieved by the clear dividing line of the Samara Mosque bombing. War opponents act like things have been in the toilet for four years; no, things were picking up and they took a bathroom-fixture-swirly direction when the Sunnis blew up a sacred Shia site. I tell people that all the time (for which I have few friends left) and was glad to hear the President underscore it.

More money for AIDS and Malaria in Africa. We can hope that we help only a few fewer than we hurt, but it polls well.

The pitch to :"Madame Speaker" at the beginning was perfect, as was the salute to Dad. He pulled up just in time before it went too far. The language was good. Since Gersten and Frum are gone, you don't hear many good turns of phrase but last night had a few: "Putting in earmarks when even C-Span isn't watching," "You didn't vote for defeat," "we will show our enemies abroad that we are united in the goal of victory."

My brother-in-law called at the end and said he'd give it a B+. I'd certainly go there. Without the global warming sop, it would have been an A-.

UPDATE:I mistakenly cited Nina Easton as being from Forbes magazine. She is the Washington Bureau Chief for FORTUNE. I corrected the post and ThreeSources regrets the error.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:20 AM

January 23, 2007

Larry's Pretty Upbeat

All bad news this afternoon: AMD and Yahoo earnings disappoint, Hezbollah has Beirut in flames, Bush approval ratings actually go negative (okay, I made the last one up, but barely).

When you need a ray of sunshine, Larry Kudlow's blog is rarely a bad place to look. Today, he offers his An Excellent Economic State of the Union It's a long post, full of good signs, but I liked the end: something to remember about our so called beleaguered President.

As President George W. Bush takes the podium tonight for his seventh State of the Union message, his policy of lower marginal tax rates and a general absence of overregulation (with the exception of Sarbox, but including the opposition to carbon caps) has succeeded in nurturing low inflation and entrepreneurial economic growth.

Of course, Bush gets very little credit for this in the mainstream media or in the polls, which is a shame. The truth is, the president has had the economic story basically right for six years. His overall economic record is rather solid.


Switchgrass.

Posted by John Kranz at 6:23 PM

January 22, 2007

W Gets an A+

It's not everyday the President gets an A+ from Arnold Kling, but he has today. In Capping a Bad Tax Break Kling applauds the prereleased details of the President's Health Care plan.

I would grade this as "A ". The question is whether he can get any Democratic support. My guess is that some of the most extravagant health insurance plans come from unions. The fact that the President's proposal is much more "progressive" than the status quo (as it stands now, the "rich" benefit the most from not having to declare the cost of gold-plated health plans as income) will not get any support from "progressives."

Hat-tip to Josh at Everyday Economist, who has some kind words for it as well.

I was concerned that the reduced deductibility was a tax increase for the rich, perversely telling employers that they cannot provide too much health care. Yet I am conceding to my economic superiors: Hendrickson, Kling, and Mankiw.

The plan would break the perverse incentive structure which allows employers to provide comprehensive care disguised as insurance as a tax-free benefit, indirectly righting the broken incentive of overusing health care because it's paid for by another.

The President gets his share of abuse on these pages (not from me, don't send the jackbooted thugs to my address Mr. Gonzales) but we do a disservice to ignore the positive features of "compassionate conservatism" where President Bush does seek to repair broken incentives.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:47 PM | Comments (1)
But AlexC thinks:

The American Spectator also takes a look. Here's something that caught my eye.

Under the plan, individuals purchasing insurance on their own or through their employer would be exempt from paying income or payroll taxes on the first $15,000 of their income. This would translate into $4,500 for a family of four with income of $60,000. In addition, small businesses such as S-corporations would get the same tax incentives for providing healthcare as larger companies.

As an "individual purchasing insurance on my own" and prospective S corp, I like it.

Posted by: AlexC at January 22, 2007 9:45 PM

January 11, 2007

The Surge II

I have been suffering from gross punditry deficiency. My Satellite is still snowed in and can see the local channels but not FOXNews, CNBC (A week without Kudlow & Company", send rations!) I watched the President's Speech last night without the usual fire hose of opinion.

I thought it was a very good speech. Not much rhetorical flourish, but serious and forthright. The troop surge on which all the preliminary punditry focused is likely not the important change. The big change is that the US military is going to be set loose on the Mahdi Army and Sadr militia elements. I know whom I'd bet on.

I like that Bush had nice words for the Baker-Hamilton Commission while he ignores many of their most ridiculous ideas. One of the big strategic changes is the change of CENTCOM Command. Ralph Peters asks and answers:

Why put a swabbie in charge of grunt operations?

There's a one-word answer: Iran.

ASSIGNING a Navy aviator and combat veteran to oversee our military operations in the Persian Gulf makes perfect sense when seen as a preparatory step for striking Iran's nuclear-weapons facilities - if that becomes necessary.

While the Air Force would deliver the heaviest tonnage of ordnance in a campaign to frustrate Tehran's quest for nukes, the toughest strategic missions would fall to our Navy. Iran would seek to retaliate asymmetrically by attacking oil platforms and tankers, closing the Strait of Hormuz - and trying to hit oil infrastructure in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf emirates.


President Bush is still playing to win and I am not betting against the free world's armed forces.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:32 AM | Comments (3)
But johngalt thinks:

No Fox News?! That's the last straw. Prepare your garrison for invasion by mercenary snow troopers from the lawless frontier within 48 hours. (And download the FEMA reimbursement forms off their website.) NOT!

Posted by: johngalt at January 11, 2007 3:28 PM
But jk thinks:

I watched the address on the local Fox affiliate, thinking I might see Misters Kristol and Barnes.

Instead, I got Shepard Smith (whom it's worth canceling cable to avoid) attempting to summarize the speech in three minutes before it started. They were late turning on the President's audio because Smith was blabbering on about the opposition it was getting from Republicans and Democrats.

At the end, he had Rich Lowry and some woman "of the left" whom I did not recognize (UPDATE: Kirsten Powers). The other network broadcasts did no commentary at all after, they went straight to programming.

In short, it was worth it as a sociology experiment. My dish is mounted on the tip of a gable end, on the roof, so it almost never gets snowed out. But when it does, it's not real convenient to brush off.

Posted by: jk at January 11, 2007 4:19 PM
But jk thinks:

Note: the outer planetary snow removal squad (JohnGalt & Dagny) did show up last night at about 2000 hours. My service had come back during the day, so I did not have the satisfaction of sending jg onto the icy roof.

Thanks. Kudlow is back to casa jk and riza. As Steinbeck would say "the world is spinning in greased grooves" once again.

Posted by: jk at January 12, 2007 11:05 AM

January 3, 2007

Today's Tony Snow Moment

A continuing series at Extreme Mortman:

There seems to be a lot of concern about the last two minutes of Saddam Hussein’s life and less about the first 69 in which he murdered hundreds of thousands of people. That’s why he was executed.
Posted by John Kranz at 7:00 PM

November 9, 2006

Rummy!

I know I will miss the SecDef's pres conferences, and I suspect that the troops will miss the SecDef. I won't comment of the President's decision to change. His cabinet serves at his discretion.

I will not stand still for the Senator Durbin's of the world to imply that he leaves as a failure. I could not remember where I read this. When I went back to blog it, I couldn't find it:

"The Military cannot change itself, no organization can do that. Imagine your company or organization suddenly saying that it needs to change to meet business challenges because that's what the CEO read in a magazine over the weekend. How's that work? You spend months on 'Mission statements' and going on useless employee retreats and in the end, the same lame-o fatass managers run the same asininely redundant departments only with different titles and cost centers. How do you get a company to change? You don't change because you want to, you change because the competition forces you to change. You get creamed in a quarterly result, or you get merged with the competition. So what happens to us if our Military gets creamed in combat or 'Merged'? In that respect, Rumsfelds transformation doest seem so bad now does it?

It was in a letter to Glenn Reynolds that was published on Instapundit. It is now revived in a TCS Daily column by Josh Manchester.

I tell people I like capitalism because of tortilla packages with ZipLock(r) closures built in (now you know why I'm so pro-Immigration). I tell people that no company would go through the difficult and expensive process of changing to more expensive packaging -- except, if they thought they could increase sales. Or if they were losing sales to a competitor who did.

Change sucks. Mr. Schumpeter. It's difficult and we kind of like the way things are now. Rumsfeld turned the Schumpeterian fans on full blast and pointed the breeze at some comfortable Generals.

He wears the antipathy as a badge of honor. He should. Good luck to Mr. Gates, but Secretary Rumsfeld, you leave Washington as hero.

UPDATE: Treat yourself to reading his excellent speech at Kansas State University.

In 1961, Dwight D. Eisenhower, spoke to the nation for the last time as President. He warned of a long struggle ahead. He said:
“We face a hostile ideology -- global in scope…ruthless in purpose, and insidious in method… to meet it successfully we must carry forward steadily, surely, and without complaint the burdens of a prolonged and complex struggle -- with liberty the stake.”
As we look back on those critical years during the Cold War, so too our grandchildren will one day look back on this time as a defining moment in America’s history. History will judge whether we did all we could to defeat a vicious extremist enemy that threatened our security, our freedom, our very way of life. Or, if we left it to the next generations to try to fight an enemy strengthened by our weakness, and emboldened by our lack of resolve.

Hat-tip: Instapundit

Posted by John Kranz at 6:41 PM | Comments (4)
But AlexC thinks:

Bummer about Rumsfeld.

He was a master of plain spoken English.

Posted by: AlexC at November 10, 2006 12:39 AM
But jk thinks:

Yup. He was great as a panelist on Milton Friedman's "Free to Choose" as well. A great American.

Posted by: jk at November 10, 2006 11:21 AM
But LatteSipper thinks:

Yes, Mr. Rumsfeld was the master of plain spokenness. Here are some fine examples:

"I believe what I said yesterday. I don't know what I said, but I know what I think, and, well, I assume it's what I said." (Donald Rumsfeld Quotes)

"If I said yes, that would then suggest that that might be the only place where it might be done which would not be accurate, necessarily accurate. It might also not be inaccurate, but I'm disinclined to mislead anyone." (Donald Rumsfeld Quotes)

"I don't know what the facts are but somebody's certainly going to sit down with him and find out what he knows that they may not know, and make sure he knows what they know that he may not know." (Donald Rumsfeld Quotes)

Posted by: LatteSipper at November 10, 2006 3:04 PM
But jk thinks:

I guess the bipartisan honeymoon is waning...

It is not fair to cherry pick sentences out of transcriptions of extemporaneous speech. I know it gave Jake Tapper a gig for years of "Bushisms," but that doesn't make it right.

You can say what you want about the retiring SecDef, and I'd be unsurprised if you're not a fan, but I'd be surprised if you would not admit to his being one of the clearest speakers in politics in a long time.

Posted by: jk at November 10, 2006 4:20 PM

October 16, 2006

Palestinians and Founders

You need a to have a lobotomy before become Secretary of State?

Jeez

    Rice compared the vision of Palestinian statehood to that of American independence and the civil rights battles in one of the strongest endorsements from the Bush administration to the idea of an independent Palestinian state.

    "I should never have grown up in segregated Birmingham, Alabama to become the secretary of state of the United States of America," Rice said, adding that eventually, once these visions do come true, "we wonder why did anyone ever doubt that it was possible."


Remind me again of who plays the role of George Washington, Patrick Henry, Martin Luther King? I guess the by any means necessary Malcolm X strategy is evident. Benedict Arnold?

Flashback: Some Condi '08 debate here.

(tip to HotAir)

Posted by AlexC at 10:55 AM | Comments (3)
But jk thinks:

Yes, Hot Air. I've had my fill, Ms. Malkin, thanks.

You suggest that Rice’s rhetoric is over the top, which may be fair but you open your post with the lobotomy assertion.

Secretary Rice is talking about THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE. Not Arafat. Not Hamas. She is saying that THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE have the same right to liberty as did the American colonists. And that the United States is committed to providing THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE with democracy.

She is also right to claim it as a huge accomplishment of the current administration. While Madeline Albright broke high heels chasing Yasser Arafat out of peace talks, in a post-Saddam world, the Palestinians are living under a government freely elected. And Rice points out that many of THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE are getting buyer's remorse about their choice (and let’s not forget who the other guys were).

Rice did not compare the founding fathers to terrorists, that was contrived by Ms. Malkin.

Lastly, the photo in the JP is not adjusted very well. If she were saying something they liked, would she get a better processed photo?

I still believe in Sharansky. I still believe that the promotion of freedom is the only solution to MidEast terrorism (more so after Lawrence Wright's "The Looming Tower"). Secretary Rice is still a forceful and eloquent advocate of promoting liberty in the MidEast. Representing the State Department (the Senior Partners' envoy on Earth now that Wolfram & Hart has closed), she must advocate the diplomatic line.

She is the best Secretary of State in modern history and a compelling promoter of liberty.

Posted by: jk at October 16, 2006 11:45 AM
But AlexC thinks:

Now now JK.

1) Hotair != Michelle Malkin. It's mostly other guys. As is the post I linked. But no matter. It's the messenger, not the message, I suppose.

2) Hyperbole is one thing. An absurd analogy is another.

3) Palestinian people, fine. Where are the equivalent leaders? Who's bravely throwing tea over the side of a boat? No one.

4) Here's the speech: http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2006/73895.htm

Posted by: AlexC at October 17, 2006 1:15 PM
But jk thinks:

1) mea culpa, I thought HotAir and the post were both Michelle Malkin’s. She is innocent and ThreeSources regrets the error. "Bryan" echoes bad reporting from Nathan Guttman at the JP.

2) It is not an analogy. She did not draw the parallel or analogy, that was the work of Guttman. She compared them in terms of difficulty. She ponders the "impossibility" of MidEast peace, noting how hard the revolution, civil war and civil rights struggles looked before America made them happen.

3) You’re asking about Bryan's misrepresentation of Guttman's misrepresentation. Rice never said anything close.

4) Thanks for the link. Perhaps Bryan at Hot Air and Guttman at JP might read it.

Sorry for the all caps but I strongly feel Secretary Rice does not deserve the opprobrium dished out by Guttman, Bryan, and ThreeSources. She calls for freedom and is attacked from three unlikely sources.

Posted by: jk at October 17, 2006 3:35 PM

September 12, 2006

Who saw it?

I didn't find any discussion of the President's speech. Glenn was busy recording a podcast, even Hugh Hewitt was AWOL.

I loved it. I thought it conveyed a nice balance of tribute for the fallen with resolve to win the War on Terror. Mort Kondracke on FOXNews called it "almost Churchillian" and I'd have to agree. Most notably, the President has not lost his Sharanskyism. He believes that freedom for the MidEast is the answer.

While we've come to a bumpy patch, I'd like to ask his opponents what other choices exist? If we're going to shrink from the hard work of spreading freedom, what else will prevent attacks from Islamofascists? We can hunker down, we can play complete defense, I suppose we could all convert and trade Madisonian Democracy for shar'ia.

The President was clear, resolved, and compassionate. A badly needed home run late in the eighth. I'm just worried that nobody was watching.

Posted by John Kranz at 2:54 PM | Comments (1)
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

I watched. Then I went over to UNN to see what kind of BS they would spew about it.

None.

Just softballer Larry Kane ruminating on the Lights.

Hmm,....did the Dems get caught flatfooted (again)?

Other than party-animal Ted Kennedy, who obviously waited until his hangover disappeared the next day, not many have come out with any commentary (except Santorum, who rules in my book!)

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at September 13, 2006 11:34 AM

September 4, 2006

Another One Bites the Dust!

"And another one's gone, and another one's gone. Doop doop doop da doop!"
Al-Suaidi mug shot.jpg

From Australia's Herald Sun:

US and Iraqi forces have arrested the second most senior figure of al-Qaida in Iraq and killed 20 fellow militants.

{...}

"Hamid al-Suaidi led a group that kidnapped people. He ordered bombings and mortar attacks that killed a number of our armed forces and our citizens. Al-Qaida in Iraq is severely wounded," Rubaie [Iraq's national security advisor] said.

"After his arrest he gave critical and important information and we ended up killing 11 militants of the second tier of leaders and nine of the lower tier," Rubaie said of Suaidi.

I had to scroll through the "all 825 news articles" Google link to find one from Australia in order to avoid liberal media bias in the report. For example, the ITV [Britain] version that I took the photo from waited until the fifth of seven paragraphs before mentioning the captured man's name, and even then did it thusly:

Hours after an "embarrassed" US military again postponed a ceremony to hand command of Iraqi troops to the government, the national security adviser Mowaffak al-Rubaie summoned reporters to a news conference to announce that Hamid Juma Faris al-Suaidi had been seized some days ago.

So after starting the story with, "Security officials [no mention of whose] claim [as it's apparently in dispute] to have arrested the second-in-command of the terror [what, no scare quotes?] group al-Qaeda in Iraq," they morphed this news item into a slanted report on the so-called occupation of Iraq by the US military. In the process they inplicity question Washington's sincerity to "let Americans go home."

If you still wonder why the majority public opinion is that things are going "badly" in Iraq, here's your answer.

Posted by JohnGalt at 10:15 AM | Comments (3)
But jk thinks:

Al-Qaida in Iraq?

Posted by: jk at September 4, 2006 10:48 AM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Is it me,..or does that green thingy under his chin look like the bottom of a gallows??

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at September 5, 2006 12:59 PM
But jk thinks:

What is that? I've seen that picture a hundred times and never quite got it.

The New Republic today says that this guy wasn't important and that the London explosive guys weren't really dangerous. Even our wins are losses.

Posted by: jk at September 5, 2006 1:14 PM

July 19, 2006

Stem Cells

Glenn Reynolds said it best. The good news is that we finally have a presidential veto. The bad news is that it is on stem-cell research.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush will use his first veto on Wednesday to stop legislation to expand embryonic stem cell research championed by top scientists and desired by most Americans.

"The president has had a clear principled stand on this issue since August of 2001 and he has made clear from the beginning that if this bill came to him he would veto it and so this is what he's going to do today," White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said.

The U.S. Senate approved the legislation, which has also been passed by the House of Representatives, on Tuesday. But neither chamber expects to have the two-thirds majority needed to override a presidential veto. It would be Bush's first veto since taking office more than five years ago.


JohnGalt was biting his tongue in a comment below, as we both praised President Bush for his muscular reaction to terrorism and his refusal to ask Israel for a cease fire.

Unclench your jaw my friend. This issue is complex. I am guessing that we are on the same side in a way. Using a pro-life argument to block scientific research rubs me the wrong way, and I'm guessing that is what disturbs you.

On the other hand, kimosabe, we are talking about Federal funding of research. Private companies can do what they want. Applying limits to Federal Funding seems very legitimate even if don't happen to agree with the reason. I'll allow you to make the case for Federal funding.

As a pragmatist, I just want to crawl back into bed. I work at home now and the temptation is always there. The GOP leadership was both foolish and myopic to allow this to transpire. This puts the President in a very bad light and will hurt Republicans.

The Glenn Reynolds argument will seize the issue. Every bill that he did not veto is now suitable for highlight. The farm bill, porcine appropriations: every bill is now subject to the question why X was okay but Y was worth a veto.

The Senate did not have time to pass a resolution supporting Israel, but we can embarrass the President with a little political gamesmanship. A bad, bad day to be a Republican.

Your turn.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:24 PM | Comments (4)
But johngalt thinks:

Excellent analysis of the political implications, but you seem to be overlooking the fact that the politician who is going against the majority public opinion is term-limited, while all those in Congress who bucked the president still have to face the voters again someday.

Well done on the Federal funding angle, but even an Objectivist (notice the absence of the curious term "Randian") must be practical. Unlike the president, when I take it upon myself to dismantle the present practice of Federal funding of research I will not start with the branch of human biotechnology that holds the greatest promise for the future of humanity since penicillin.

Dagny said it best this morning: "He's been in office nearly six years and the first spending bill he's seen fit to veto is this one?" Please.

Posted by: johngalt at July 19, 2006 3:09 PM
But jk thinks:

Dagny's hit that which I dislike the most. This One? Huh?

I will actually defend resident Bush. I will not defend the soi disant GOP Congress who set up this fiasco.

President Bush said in a widely noted 2001 speech what he would and would not do. Congress can certainly test him, but I don't see why his own party is so predisposed.

The Federal funding angle is not simply a quest for less spending. Although neither you nor I are particularly bothered by this, many folks are. Not using Federal funds for something to which many are opposed seems defensible. The Bridge to Nowhere is stupid but at least they're not making out of kittens.

Posted by: jk at July 19, 2006 3:38 PM
But jk thinks:

My personal feelings pretty closely match James Taranto's. Politically he points out that the most vulnerable GOP Senators voted against the proposition.

http://www.opinionjournal.com/best/?id=110008675

Posted by: jk at July 19, 2006 4:20 PM
But johngalt thinks:

My point is that Federal funding is not the president's reason for the veto. Indeed, he boasts of being the first president to fund such research, to the tune of $90 million. His justification? Only "embryos that had already been destroyed" could be used. THIS is what the president describes as a "balance between the needs of science and the demands of conscience?" No sir. It is a compromise of the rights of individuals to their own lives and bodies and the right to improve them through human ingenuity and reason to the demands of YOUR conscience, and that of others like you.

It must be universally agreed that to take the life of another individual is an immoral act when not in self-defense. But please explain the difference between a number of artificially inseminated human embryos that are not artificially implanted into a uterus, and an equal number of the same woman's eggs that are naturally released from her ovaries and uneventfully discarded every 28 days. Are the unfertilized eggs also the domain of the state? Once artificially inseminated is it then a capital crime for a woman and her physician to choose only a fraction of them for implantation? Are the unchosen ones victims of murder?

It is often said that, "Life begins at conception." Without even engaging in the abortion debate, wherein the individual rights of a dependent parasitic being are given primacy by some over those of its host, we can see that insemination in vitro is incapable of conceiving a life unless said embryo is then implanted into a woman's womb. Absent the necessary conditions for life an embryo is no greater than the sum of its parts.

The "demands of conscience" that the president holds sacrosanct essentially demand that no man and no woman may permit their discarded genetic material from being mixed in a laboratory setting for even the most noble of purposes: The saving or the improvement of a human life. This taboo is a remnant of the same sensibilities that decried in vitro fertilization in the first place as "unnatural" and "playing God." These are certainly not valid reasons for infringing the liberties of others who are not individually bound by such externally imposed dogmas.

Now, you may say that the veto of this bill does not outlaw embryonic stem cell research, but merely Federal funding of it. I say this is splitting hairs. As long as Federal funding is available for other public health issues and not this one, market forces will act to retard this important and promising work.

Posted by: johngalt at July 20, 2006 2:04 AM

July 16, 2006

Iranian Nukes? We'll Soon Know

We knew this was coming sooner rather than later when we witnessed the "elections" of Ahmadinejad in Iran and Hamas in the Palestinian territories. When the "imperialist" American administration and the "Hitler" and "Ghengis Khan" like Israelis did nothing to provoke open warfare with Iran, those swell Iranian mullahs grew tired of waiting. As Robert Tracinski writes, "If, in the face of repeated threats and provocation by an aggressive dictatorship, you refuse to go to war, the war will eventually come to you." Two years after the 'forward strategy of freedom' swept the Syrian army out of Lebanon, Hezbollah was under growing pressure to leave as well. No reasonable person should have expected them to leave peacefully. (What do you think they are, pluralistic democrats? No, they're Islamofascists you fools!)

A timely example of such a fool is Connecticut Senator Christopher Dodd, who said on Fox News Sunday this morning that, essentially, it's Bush's fault! Dodd attributes the military action in south Lebanon to diplomatic failure:

"It seems to be that you have to go beyond just understanding the friendship, which is important, but for Israel's benefit and our own, we have missed, I think over the last number of years, the ability to really engage in the kind of diplomatic efforts in the middle east. From 1967 up until the end of the Clinton administration, every administration has remained very, very engaged in the middle east. This administration unfortunately has seen the word diplomacy and negotiation as somehow a favor to your enemies. I think unfortunately we've allowed this time to elapse over the last several years, the resolution 1559 was adopted two years ago, and the administration's done nothing in my view to really insist that the Lebanese rid southern Lebanon of Hezbollah and so this time has gone through without really engaging in the process thus we find ourselves today, Israel certainly has the right to defend itself. What it's doing is absolutely necessary. If Lebanon and Syria will recognize that those soldiers need to be returned and also Hezbollah has to get out of southern Lebanon then I think you could bring a cease-fire about."

To be fair, it has been nearly five years since Islamofascists unilaterally slaughtered 3000 American civilians with airliners. But despite this, why is Dodd still endorsing the realpolitik appeasement cum stability strategy of the past thirty years? Does he genuinely believe that it will lead to regional and worldwide peace if we just give it another decade or three to work itself out?

I can't say whether it is a symptom or a cause of America's confusion in general, or Dodd's in particular, but there is clearly a filter in place between the events of the mideast and the front pages of America's news media. Compare some recent news excerpts in America to those in, notably, Australia:

WSJ- 'World Leadership Reacts To Escalating Mideast Violence'
"Haifa was hit with at least 20 rockets fired by Lebanese guerillas, in retaliation for a wave of bombings by Israeli airplanes early Sunday morning when about 18 powerful explosions rocked southern Beirut."

AP (via Houston Chronicle)- 'Hezbollah rocket barrage kills 8 in Haifa'
"Hezbollah's firing of at least 20 rockets at Haifa and 30 elsewhere came after Israel unleashed its fiercest bombardment yet of the Lebanese capital, starting after midnight Saturday."

And, in the most offensive of my three examples,

Chigago Tribune- '2 dead on Israeli warship; jets attack Lebanon anew'
"A draft resolution under consideration, from Lebanese Foreign Minister Fawzi Salloukh, demanded the release of Lebanese captives and detainees in Israeli prisons, and supported Lebanon's right to "liberate them by all legitimate means."

Meanwhile, Israeli warplanes renewed attacks on Lebanon early Saturday, targeting bridges, fuel depots and gas stations in the east and south, security officials said."

[...]

""You wanted an open war and we are ready for an open war," Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah said in a taped statement broadcast Friday. He vowed to strike even deeper into Israel with rockets."

The clear message to American voters: The "cycle of violence" continues and Hezbollah/Lebanon are defending their sovereignty from Israeli aggression.

In contrast, Australians read the following headlines:

The Australian- 'Militants' missile hits ship with Iranian troops' help'
"Israel says the troops involved in firing the missile were from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, an elite corps of more than 200,000 fighters that is independent of the regular armed forces and controlled by Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei."

[...]

"A military official said the group was also believed to have longer-range projectiles that could hit the Israeli commercial hub of Tel Aviv."

The Australian- 'Strikes to intensify in four-stage strategy'
"In the first stage, which began shortly after the Hezbollah incursion across the border last Wednesday, Israeli warplanes attacked missile caches in south Lebanon and elsewhere, particularly those housing long-range missiles.

Fifty caches, some hidden underground and in private homes, were reportedly destroyed. It is unclear what percentage of the 13,000 missiles known to be in Hezbollah hands that accounts for."

[...]

"In the second stage, which began early on Friday, warplanes attacked the heart of Hezbollah power, shattering high-rise buildings in south Beirut housing the militia's command structure as well as the home of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, who was reportedly trapped for a while in the underground command centre when the building above it collapsed."

"The third and fourth stages are still secret. However, the sources said the operation calls for each of the four stages to be more powerful than the previous one."

[...]

"Israeli officials say the international community will not force Israel to stop before its goals are achieved."

Sydney Morning Herald- 'With US backing, Israel determined to go for the kill'
"Israel's goal is to either eliminate Hezbollah as a security threat, or altogether. The broader goal of the US is to strangle the axis of Hezbollah, Hamas, Syria and Iran, which the Bush Administration believes is pooling resources to change the strategic playing field in the Middle East.

Whatever the outrage on the Arab streets, Washington believes it has strong behind-the-scenes support among key Arab leaders also nervous about the populist militants - with a tacit agreement that the timing is right to strike."

[...]

"Israel and the US would like to hold out until Hezbollah is crippled. "It seems like we will go to the end now," said Israel's ambassador to the US, Daniel Ayalon. "We will not go part way and be held hostage again. We'll have to go for the kill - Hezbollah's neutralisation."

These stories give a far different perspective on the current munitions exchanges: Israel is under attack by Iran-sponsored terrorists embedded in a third nation, Lebanon. Hezbollah rockets target Israeli civilians while Israeli laser-guided bombs target, Hezbollah rockets. Contrary to the protestations and accusations of one Christopher Dodd, the Bush adminstration has clearly been working in concert with regional and world governments to lay the groundwork for Israel to help Lebanon exorcise Hezbollah from its cities and countryside without manic diplomatic attempts to protect the terrorists.

Dodd warns that, "This could spin out of control to such a degree that we have a major, major war in the middle east." The reality is that the cold phase of that war has been raging since at least 1979, with Iran's Islamic revolution. Iran has decided it is time to turn up the heat on this war and it certainly appears that Israel, the Bush adminstration and key western governments anticipated it, were prepared for it, and are in the process of winning it.

There is little reason for concern that Israel's defense forces will fail in this effort. The two areas of concern are that diplomatic failures will allow allies like France and Russia to reverse course and, more ominously, that Iran's threat that attacking Syria " ... will definitely face the Zionist regime with unimaginable damages" portends their possession and imminent detonation of a nuclear bomb. Let us hope that western intelligence and military authorities have this matter as well in hand as they appear to have Hezbollah's rockets.

Posted by JohnGalt at 1:59 PM | Comments (3)
But jk thinks:

I hate to respond to a thoughtful post with an anecdote, but I have been thinking about Senator Dodd all week. I did not know he was on FNS, I have that TiVoed and will watch it soon.

I have been considering the Senator from Connecticut who is still respected by his party because I purchased some Contra Cafe coffee on July 4, and it recently showed up. The coffee is great and is grown by former freedom fighters in Nicaragua.

I think of Senator Dodd because I remember his fighting President Reagan tooth and nail. I think of he and Kris Kristofferson as leading the pro-Sandinista movement in the US. Rather than admit he was wrong, Dodd -- 20 years later -- opposed the nomination of Otto Reich to be Assistant Secretary of State. His crime? Supporting democracy against communism in the Western Hemisphere.

Posted by: jk at July 16, 2006 2:27 PM
But jk thinks:

And one quibble. I would disagree with conflating the Iranian and Palestinian elections. The election in Iran was a farce and remains worthy of scare quotes. The election in palestinian-controlled-Isreal, however, was legitimate.

I'm not happy that they chose Hamas, though people should remember the other choice was Fatah. They were, however, real and legitimate elections and their constituencies are getting the government they deserve.

I include their number in my accounting of folks living under self elected government.

Posted by: jk at July 16, 2006 5:09 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes, I hesitated to group them together for the reasons you mentioned, but I was trying to economize on words in this post, believe it or not. In defense I'll point out that when your democratic choices are limited by force or by "belief in unproven things" it is not a free election in either case.

I can live with this quibble though. My charming bride said she wasn't sure she shares my sanquinity that western intelligence and military authorities have this matter "well in hand."

That comment forced me to consider the source of my optimism. I re-read my own post to find the answer: The unprecented combination of Israeli resolve to "to to the end now," and not go "part way and be held hostage again," coupled with supportive words from key Arab leaders. The Israelis are implementing the Bush Doctrine and no one of consequence - not the multiculturalists of Old Europe nor the Islamic apologists of Egypt or Saudi Arabia - dares, strike that, chooses, to stand in their way. Selfishly, they all want Hezbollah "crippled" or, better yet, "neutralized."

Posted by: johngalt at July 16, 2006 7:33 PM

June 8, 2006

Victories

Examiner.com

    In addition to success with his nominations, Bush also is presiding over a booming economy and is even scoring some foreign policy advances, although Iraq remains bloody.

    “In today’s political climate, daily headlines and fast-moving events make it easy to lose the forest for the trees,” Bush counselor Dan Bartlett wrote in a memo this week. “But there is a clear tide of positive developments that reflect the president’s ability to get things done.”

    Bartlett’s memo was dismissed as “happy talk” by Mark Halperin, political director of ABC News. And White House correspondent Ken Herman of Cox Newspapers noted that Barlett “found reason for optimism in Iraq ... on a day when gunmen rounded up 56 people at a Baghdad bus stop.”

    Yet the White House remains convinced it is not getting a fair shake from the mainstream media.

    “We hear a great deal about the problems we face,” Bush aide Peter Wehner wrote in an op-ed published Monday by the Washington Post. “We hear hardly anything about encouraging developments.

    “Off-key as it may sound in the current environment, a strong case can be made that in a number of areas there are positive trends and considerable progress,” he added.


I suspect history will be much kinder to Bush 43 than the first draft is.

Posted by AlexC at 12:26 AM

May 16, 2006

The Speech Is Polling Well

Insty links to a Corner post:

David Frum, the smartest man I know, got it wrong. CNN has a poll just up, and the results are staggeringly in the president's favor. 79 percent of those who watched had a very favorable or favorable view of the speech, and those who support the president's policies rose in number from 42 to 67 percent.

I shared my disillusion with a friend via email. He missed the speech, AlexC "had it on." I heard some grumbling from all the populists (Michelle Malkin enjoyed watching the President and making fun of the speech with that towering mind of GOP politics, Rep Tom Tancredo). Hugh Hewitt was measured -- even Bill O'Reilly was cautiously optimistic. But I heard and read so little from Administration supporters.

Folks, the President knocked one out of the park last night. He addressed the nation (even the broadcast networks covered it) and he addressed the topic that every pollster says is driving his approval ratings down. He discussed the issue that is dividing the Republican voters of ThreeSources. He delivered a great speech on an important topic. He outlined a compromise: comprehensive reform that most folks should be able to live with. I really expected the ThreeSourcers to rally together around this plan as good policy and good politics.

Posted by John Kranz at 7:28 PM

April 27, 2006

Good Language

I disagree with most all of this TNR Editorial. Yet, sometimes you must appreciate the rhetoric of the other side. The Editors call President Bush the lamest duck since James Buchanan, which I refute, but I loved the next line:

Second-term presidents often see their agenda stalled by gridlock. But haggling over substance at least has the excitement value of conflict and opposition. Bush, on the other hand, has seen his agenda die from within, of its own accord. The last years of Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Reagan were like watching an angry traffic snarl. The last years of George W. Bush's presidency are like watching a car resting on cement blocks in the front yard.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:44 PM

April 25, 2006

AlexC Gets Results

Larry Kudlow reports:

CNN is reporting that Tony Snow will likely take the job as White House press secretary. This is a good thing. Snow is a strong, smart, savvy and principled person. He is also a remarkable human being.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:22 PM | Comments (2)
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Thank God!

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at April 25, 2006 8:44 PM
But AlexC thinks:

I don't know why the Bush Administration just hasn't listened to me from the beginning. I know wtf I'm talking about.

Posted by: AlexC at April 27, 2006 12:11 AM

March 20, 2006

Sec. Snow Fires Back

It astounds me -- and Larry Kudlow -- that the Bush administration seems to allow others to frame the debate on the economy, in short that they never fight back. Secretary Snow, in an interview in the Wall Street Journal news pages, does just that.

"What's been happening in the United States for about 20 years is [a] long-term trend to differentiate compensation," Mr. Snow said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal last week. "Look at the Harvard economics faculty, look at doctors over here at George Washington University...look at baseball players, look at football players. We've moved into a star system for some reason which is not fully understood. Across virtually all professions, there have been growing gaps."

Mr. Snow said the same phenomenon explains why compensation for corporate chief executive officers has climbed so sharply. "In an aggregate sense, it reflects the marginal productivity of CEOs. Do I trust the market for CEOs to work efficiently? Yes. Until we can find a better way to compensate CEOs, I'm going to trust the marketplace."


Wow! defending wage disparity as the product of an efficient market. I must be dreaming or something.

As hard as I have been on the Bush administration lately, it occurs to me that in the recent differences between the President and Congressional Republicans, I have been on the side of Mr. Bush. He was right on the Dubai ports deal, right on the need for a guest worker program, right on the need to extend the tax cuts. My brother-in-law said "count me in with the 38% who are still with him." Me too.

The Journal piece (remember that their news pages are pretty liberal) suggests that averages distort the picture for middle class Americans. Mirabile non dictu, I disagree. I think the naysayers are cherry-picking negative data -- and that it is getting harder and harder to find it.

An efficient economy will always have uncertainty. Buggy whip manufacturers will need to worry (unless they live in France...) but Snow had good news to share.

Mr. Snow distributed a fact sheet that showed after-tax income per person, adjusted for inflation, rose 8.2% from January 2001, when George W. Bush took office as president, through January 2006. The sheet also showed that per-person net worth -- total assets minus debt -- rose 24%, unadjusted for inflation, from early 2001 to the end of 2005. "People have more money in their pocket" and in their bank accounts, he said.

Put that in your opium pipe and smoke it, Keynesians!

Posted by John Kranz at 10:44 AM

March 3, 2006

Correcting the Record

Remember when the AP breathlessly reported that Bush Knew about the levees and Katrina?

Oops... They're correcting the record.

    In a March 1 story, The Associated Press reported that federal disaster officials warned President Bush and his homeland security chief before Hurricane Katrina struck that the storm could breach levees in New Orleans, citing confidential video footage of an Aug. 28 briefing among U.S. officials.

    The Army Corps of Engineers considers a breach a hole developing in a levee rather than an overrun. The story should have made clear that Bush was warned about floodwaters overrunning the levees, rather than the levees breaking.

    The day before the storm hit, Bush was told there were grave concerns that the levees could be overrun. It wasn't until the next morning, as the storm was hitting, that Michael Brown, then head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said Bush had inquired about reports of breaches. Bush did not participate in that briefing.


Powerline and RedState both throw a few punches in.

Powerline:

    I think it's reasonable to assume that the AP's "clarification" is the result of our dissection of their incredibly lame story. I think this highlights, though, how hard it is for truth to catch up to error. Hundreds of newspapers printed the AP's misinformation, and it was the basis for television news on all of the broadcast networks. The correction (or "clarification") will never catch up to most of the tens of millions of people who heard the original story. The news business is all about impressions, and corrections, days after the fact, never take away the impression that the original story falsely created.

RedState:

    After releasing the now infamous Katrina video accusing the President of being negligent in his handling of the situation, the AP now admits that the President had only been warned of the possible overtopping of levees in the video, which is wholly different from the breaching of the levees that the media has been using.

    Anyone who was paying attention and wanted to deal honestly with the story actually knew that. At no time in the video was the President warned of a levee breach. Despite that, the AP ran with the story that the President had been warned of a breach.

    So what did the AP do? It waited two whole days, let the story fester, and then on Friday at 7 p.m., after the evening news programs that had run the previous story concluded for the week, ran a "clarification."


When the story broke, I said...
    Somehow I suspect once to full story of these FEMA / DHS meetings is released, we'll all go, "Huh? Where's the story?"

Well, the story is the AP throwing out crap hoping some would stick. ... and well, it worked.

Posted by AlexC at 11:10 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

As this MSM modus operandi continues to be employed, don't you get the impression that the viewing public (those watching something other than 'American Idol') is becoming more and more innoculated to the cries of "Wolf!?" Can you say "Texas National Guard memo" boys and girls? Thanks Dan!

Posted by: johngalt at March 4, 2006 9:46 AM

March 2, 2006

Breathless

Remember the breathless stories from the media about roving gangs of rapists and murders in the New Orleans Superdome? Anarchy reigned in the streets of the Big Easy.

It was terrible.

... and then remember how it didn't happen?

Fool me once...

Now here's another story. George Bush knew New Orleans was going to be destroyed.

And he did NOTHING to stop it.

Somehow I suspect once to full story of these FEMA / DHS meetings is released, we'll all go, "Huh? Where's the story?"

Oh, and Mayor Ray Nagin is the victim here. He had no idea New Orleans was vulnerable. Evacuating a city? That's the President's job!

Posted by AlexC at 2:40 PM

February 17, 2006

Word of the Day

Condign: adj., deserved, adequate.

The WSJ Ed page says, in Chertoff's Penance: "It sounds like the man has actually thought about this, which is more than most of Congress has done. Rather than replace [Michael Chertoff] with some other punching bag, a more condign punishment for Katrina would be to insist that he stick around and finish the job".

Posted by John Kranz at 1:38 PM

February 13, 2006

The Shooting

I've been pretty down on my homestate's Senator Arlen Specter lately. [lately? how about always? -ed.] I don't need to list the reasons. However, he did make up for it a bit with his effort during the Alito hearings.

So here's another chance.

Senator Spector should head up a commission to determine exactly what happened on the Cheney Quail Hunt and it's attempt to hide the truth from the Washington Press Corp.

Anyone with me?
Senator Kennedy could sit on the commission as well. It'd be a "hoot!"

Posted by AlexC at 6:26 PM

February 6, 2006

2007 Budget

2.7 trillion dollars

Bigger than ever.

*sigh*

Posted by AlexC at 8:45 PM

February 1, 2006

Skylark's Corner

rex_sotu.jpg

If Cosmo can post on NRO Corner, jk's dog Skylark wants a spot at ThreeSources.

It seems there was a heroic German Shepherd in the gallery last night. Rex, a guest of the first lady:

How Rex landed such a coveted seat — actually a spot in the aisle labeled "Rex" on the official seating chart — is quite a tale.

His owner, Air Force Tech Sgt. Jamie Dana, awoke in a military hospital last summer badly injured by a bomb in Iraq and crying for her bomb-sniffing dog. Someone told her Rex was dead.

Later, Dana found out that wasn't true. But it would take an act of Congress before she could take him home to Pennsylvania.

The Air Force said it had spent $18,000 training Rex and that, by statute, he needed to finish the remaining five years of his useful life before he could be adopted. Dana's congressman, Rep. John Peterson (news, bio, voting record), R-Pa., helped abolish that policy in an end-of-year defense bill, the White House said.


That's an earmark we can all support. Not smelly like those pig's ears...

Posted by John Kranz at 11:07 AM

SOTU 2006

I always like to post on a speech before I am ruined by the punditry I read.

I come across a Bush lackey to some, but I thought it was a very good speech last night and it was one of his better deliveries. Our president has learned to give a domestic speech and use a TelePrompTer; I am so proud.

The foreign policy segment was perfect. He praised the troops, defended the mission, laid out the stakes, and asserted the need for Executive authority in combating terrorism. Pitch perfect.

The domestic stuff doesn't resonate with me but I believe that he believes it. He really thinks that government has a place in improving education - he's not just saying it for votes. I do not share that view. I will try to be open minded when he unfurls additional detail, but that was a hard part of the speech for me. (We discussed Spinach vs. Ice Cream, this was a dentist drill).

As blog pragmatist, though, I am not gonna let it ruin my SOTU experience. I liked the speech and am proud of my efforts to reelect him.

Partisan gripe: the best achievement the Democrats could trumpet was the fact that they halted any effort to fix Social Security. No they didn't pass their plan, no they didn't influence the GOP plan, they just blocked any reform so that the problem can fester. And that was the only thing they felt worthy of a Dem-only standing ovation.

I guess Gov. Kaine did pretty well in the rebuttal. I am a tough sell. He says "there's a better way" but I notice the Democrats never really mention one. He called for more bipartisanship in problem solving; I certainly haven't seen the Democrats as being open to it.

It was good that they kept Sense. Kerry and Kennedy under wraps and showed a moderate voice. Do you figure Rahm Emmanuel had Cindy Sheehan arrested? That worked out pretty well.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:55 AM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

I was very happy that he discussed lobbying reform and said the word "earmark." This was a Presidential Endorsement for Rep. Shadegg.

Posted by: jk at February 1, 2006 11:17 AM
But AlexC thinks:

How about those Dem's standing for "no SS reform?"

Nice record guys.

Posted by: AlexC at February 1, 2006 5:50 PM

January 30, 2006

Bush Polling

I'm not a big fan of polling. But it's always an easy news story and generally blog fodder.

    Fifty percent (50%) of American adults approve of the way George W. Bush is performing his role as President. Forty-nine percent (49%) disapprove.
    The President earns approval from 82% of Republicans, 25% of Democrats, and 41% of those not affiliated with either major political party.

He's actually up for the month.

I heard this last night radio news.

The line? "Bush prepares for State of the Union, as polls show his approval rating down 12 points from a year ago."

Heh.

Posted by AlexC at 10:32 AM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

Yup, I like Instapundit's headline -- and his commentary:

"BUSH BREAKS FIFTY PERCENT APPROVAL on the Rasmussen poll. He's been trending up there for several days. I'm not sure why, but it seems as if he does better whenever John Kerry and Ted Kennedy get face time on the national news. The Democrats would be wise to let other people represent them."

Posted by: jk at January 30, 2006 1:31 PM

December 7, 2005

Bias By The Numbers

The President delivers a speech (which I have not seen yet) and the AP has posted a bylined article describing it.

The AP piece opens with a bit of commentary:

WASHINGTON - Trying to build support for his Iraq war strategy, President Bush acknowledged Wednesday that reconstruction has proceeded with "fits and starts" but asserted that economic progress is lifting hopes for a democratic future.

"Trying to build support..." okay. That would be contrary to most political speeches which are purely informative. She then gives three short paragraphs to the speech, two of which are positive.

Then a paragraph about violence in Iraq.

Then a paragraph about Rep. Murtha

A response from the Pentagon about Mutha's charge that $100 billion will be requested.

Two paragraphs about Rep. Nancy Pelosi

Two more on Murtha

A paragraph on Senator Reid's response.

A paragraph on the tepid reaction the speech received.

A paragraph on the President's low poll numbers.

A quote from the speech [!!!]

Critics of the administration's reconstruction strategy in Iraq say...

Three paragraphs about a report Senate Democrats critical of Iraqi reconstruction progress.

Bias by the numbers:

4 paragraphs with quotes
11 paragraphs about opposition, including Nancy Pelosi, John Murtha, Harry Reid, "Critics of the administration," and a panel of Senate Democrats.
3 paragraphs of negative or contradictory news
2 paragraphs setting a negative context for the speech.

This in a story supposedly about the speech.

Churlish of me to keep score?
(Click "Continue Reading..." to see the story I scored)

Bush Admits 'Fits and Starts' in Iraq Plan By DEB RIECHMANN, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - Trying to build support for his Iraq war strategy, President Bush acknowledged Wednesday that reconstruction has proceeded with "fits and starts" but asserted that economic progress is lifting hopes for a democratic future.

"In places like Mosul and Najaf, residents are seeing tangible progress in their lives," Bush said. "They're gaining a personal stake in a peaceful future and their confidence in Iraq's democracy is growing. The progress in these cities is being replicated across much of Iraq."

There's still plenty of work to do in cities like Najaf and Mosul, he said.

"Like most of Iraq, the reconstruction in Najaf has proceeded with fits and starts since liberation," Bush said. "It's been uneven. Sustaining electric power remains a major challenge. ... Security in Najaf has improved substantially but threats remain. There are still kidnappings and militias and armed gangs are exerting more influence than they should in a free society."

Bush's speech came amid new violence in Iraq. Gunmen killed three police officers in the northern city of Kirkuk and freed a wounded man who had been arrested for plotting to kill a judge in the Saddam Hussein trial. A day earlier, two suicide bombers detonated explosives inside Baghdad's main police academy, killing at least 43 people and wounding more than 70.

Rep. John Murtha (news, bio, voting record), D-Pa., a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, said the military has told him it plans to ask for $100 billion more for the war next year. That's in addition to the $50 billion that Congress is expected to approve for this year before adjourning, and the $200 billion that lawmakers already have given the president for Iraq since 2003.

Pentagon spokeswoman Cheryl Irwin said "it would be premature" to discuss next year's budget, which the administration has not completed but will submit in February. Military commanders have told the administration the next $50 billion should last through Memorial Day.

"The president says the security situation on the ground is better. It is not," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said. "More of the same in Iraq is not making us safer."

After a caucus meeting on Iraq, she and other Democrats in leadership sought to project a unified front on the war, even though they disagree over just when U.S. troops should return home.

Murtha criticized the way the president and his administration have handled Iraq, and said Bush lacked credibility.

"It's been poor planning from the start," said Murtha, a Vietnam war veteran, who added that as far as he can tell, Bush's plan is "stay the course and hope."

Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Bush failed to provide a strategy for success or speak honestly about the failures in rebuilding Iraq and the challenges ahead. "Instead, he cherry picked isolated examples of Iraq's reconstruction from two cities that provide an inaccurate and incomplete picture of the situation on the ground for most Iraqis," Reid said.

Bush's speech, hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations, was the second in a series of four to answer criticism and questions about the U.S. presence more two and a half years after the war started. He spoke to a group of foreign policy experts, many of whom have been critical of his policies. They gave him a cool reception. Some in the audience interrupted to applaud when Bush said the U.S. would not run from Iraq, but most sat stoically during the entire speech.

Bush is shouldering the lowest job approval rating of his presidency, and the latest series of speeches amount to a public relations campaign to respond to political pressure that has mounted as U.S. deaths have eclipsed 2,100. He and other administration officials are working to shore up slumping public support for the war in the run-up to the Dec. 15 vote in Iraq to create a democratically elected government that will run the country for the next four years.

While Bush talked about reconstruction projects and the reopening of schools, markets and hospitals, the upgrading of roads and the growth of construction jobs in some cities, he also acknowledged that both cities still face challenges.

"Iraqis are beginning to see that a free life will be a better life," Bush said. "Reconstruction has not always gone as well as we had hoped, primarily because of the security challenges on the ground. Rebuilding a nation devastated by a dictator is a large undertaking."

Critics of the administration's reconstruction strategy in Iraq say not enough has been done since the U.S.-led invasion to reduce unemployment, step up oil production and keep the lights on.

Senate Democrats issued a report saying the U.S. faces a reconstruction gap. While the administration cites the number of new schools built, roads paved and businesses created, "the simple fact is that basic needs — jobs, essential services, health care — remain unmet," according to the report obtained by The Associated Press.

"Iraq's economic progress has fallen significantly short of administration's goals," the Democratic report said. "Clearly, efforts to grow Iraq's economy have been challenging because Saddam Hussein left his nation's economic infrastructure in shambles. However, the Bush administration has exacerbated the challenge by its poor planning and policies."

Billions of dollars have been lost waste, fraud and abuse, the report said.

Posted by John Kranz at 7:10 PM

November 30, 2005

Good Speech!

Thanks to digital recorders (I have the DishNetwork PVR) I was able to watch the President's speech tonight.

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - President Bush gave an unflinching defense of his war strategy on Wednesday, refusing to set a timetable for U.S. troop withdrawals and asserting that once-shaky Iraqi troops are proving increasingly capable. Democrats dismissed his words as a stay-the-course speech with no real strategy for success.

I thought it was very good. Not flowery or especially powerful, but very forceful, cogent arguments against the most popular criticisms

1) Quagmire? No. Significant progress in the political, economic, and security fronts. Quantitative analysis of the training of Iraqis.

2) No Plan? He's put one on the web if you don't get it. Ten points to Senator Lieberman for saying that there is a plan and it is working. I wish we had ten more Joe Lieberman's in the Democratic Senate.

3) Stubborn refusal to adapt? No, several examples of things we have changed -- no teary mea culpas, but examples of adaptation to field exigencies.

4) Pull-out? Timetables? No. Victory. Achieve our goals and bring the troops home to heroes' welcome.

Well done, Mr. President! The Democratic rebuttals seem hollow and defeatist. Leader Pelosi has endorsed Rep. John Murtha's pullout. Do they really want to be the party of defeat?

Posted by John Kranz at 10:08 PM | Comments (5)
But johngalt thinks:

It is just absolutely mind boggling that not a single national democrat, save possibly Lieberman, is demanding a strategy for victory, or even national security. They merely want to "bring the troops home." And the media happilly echoes the sad refrain.

NPR reports that "Dingy" Harry Reid dismissed the president's speech as "a public relations ploy." Yeah, when he gives every American who cares to listen a point by point response to Senator Biden's whines of "what's the plan, Stan" it's not statesmanship or transparent governance... it's "spin." Bite me.

I heard Arianna Huffington on local talk radio tonight assert that the pillars of national news media "allowed the president to mislead us into an illegal, immoral and unnecessary war." Well hell, I didn't realize the only place the US Senate gets its intelligence and news is from Tim Russert. Impeach Russert NOW!

Posted by: johngalt at December 1, 2005 12:59 AM
But Sugarchuck thinks:

I am convinced that the greatest obstacle Bush faces is his own inability to transcend the MSM and get his message across directly to the American people. Kudlow has remarked on our robust economy and in spite of all the positive indicators, the MSM line is that we are failing. They have us failing in Iraq as well. Bush gave a brilliant speech yesterday and Sen. Kerry responded with his typical "I'm for it and against it" fan dance. Who gets the coverage? Kerry , Reid , Pelosi (though to Pelosi's credit she actually takes a stand and advocates a concrete position whereas Kerry et. al. are bascially saying the same thing the president does, hoping for political gain if it fails. And it just might fail. I am convinced that the MSM is going to force us into a variation of the Murtha position... large draw down after Jan., relocation of troops in other countries, a timetable for our enemies to plan on. It most likely won't be in six months, but it will be this year and then it's party time on the hell mouth. And when the conflagration spreads to other countries and Iraq suffers a military coup or civil war, Kerry, Reid, Clinton and co. will be tripping over themselves to denounce the whole thing as being Bush's fault for leaving too soon. Even the Nation will bellyache about Bush not finishing what he'd started. (Remember the PBS Frontline on the first Iraq conflict and Bush I?)

Posted by: Sugarchuck at December 1, 2005 10:01 AM
But jk thinks:

Yup. I watched that speech thinking "Who else will see it?" I think we all know it is nobody. They'll get a 90 second story spun by whomever replaced Mary Mapes at CBS, with a 20 second clip pulled out that support's the journalist's premise.

Is Bush bad or has the media just become less tethered?

[RRR! The "Frontline" piece! That ranks right up there with the grocery scanner -- like the PBS crowd was sooo anxious to roll the tanks into Baghdad and face what we're facing now. Criminal.]

Posted by: jk at December 1, 2005 10:52 AM
But Sugarchuck thinks:

Watching Bush and Kerry back to back yesterday reminded me of the old Lowell George line, "eloquent profanity, it rolls right off my tongue." Compared to Reagan and Clinton, Bush is a hillbilly, but there is an eloquence in simple, direct speech. Bush gives us a subject, a predicate and and object..."We will win this war." Kerry, on the other hand, brings Shakespeare and Faulkner to mind, "Sound and fury, signifying nothing." I have long since given up trying to parse Kerry. He abuses vocabulary and syntax to obscure meaning. I'll take Bush and his everyman bungling any day of the week. Still, I have to think Reagan could have sold this war better. You've got to love substance and style.

Posted by: Sugarchuck at December 1, 2005 11:11 AM
But jk thinks:

Virginia Postrel's "Smart AND Pretty."

I admire President Reagan to no end, but I wonder if he could have done much better with this recalcitrant media. They didn't love and support him, but these guys are much worse.

You're so right about Kerry. I watched his soundbite and just laughed at the hollowness of it. What the hell did he say? What’s he want?

Posted by: jk at December 1, 2005 11:57 AM

October 6, 2005

Great Speech!

I have to put the Miers discussion away for a moment, even though it is getting very interesting around here.

I think I am the only blog in the country discussing the President's speech at the National Endowment for Democracy

Don't Google that -- I don't want to know. But the blogs I read are on full-tilt Miers duty and are allowing a very good and amazingly serious foreign policy speech to slide.

It is more of a textbook than a poem. It is long and even wonkinsh me was losing focus. Yet it had its moments of singing oratory, and it said some things that needed to be said. One of my favorites was the Sharanskyesque comparison of Islamofascism (a term he actually used!) to Communism:

The murderous ideology of the Islamic radicals is the great challenge of our new century. Yet, in many ways, this fight resembles the struggle against communism in the last century. Like the ideology of communism, Islamic radicalism is elitist, led by a self-appointed vanguard that presumes to speak for the Muslim masses. Bin Laden says his own role is to tell Muslims, quote, "what is good for them and what is not." And what this man who grew up in wealth and privilege considers good for poor Muslims is that they become killers and suicide bombers. He assures them that his -- that this is the road to paradise -- though he never offers to go along for the ride.

The speech is viewable from the White House website but I don't see it rerunning on CSPAN or anything (I have it TiVo'd). It is sad that this will not get the viewing it deserves. It is a good and serious speech.

Posted by John Kranz at 5:01 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Good post JK. I hadn't heard the speech, but your excerpt is inspirational. I'm glad you shared it with all of us.

"...though he never offers to go along for the ride." This is an inescapable element of every totalitarian regime throughout history.

Posted by: johngalt at October 8, 2005 11:34 AM

September 22, 2005

CCW

Counter Conventional Wisdom. It is what blogs excel at. I posted about a Nick Danger piece on RedState.org the other day that defied CW.

Today, Larry Kudlow linked to and agreed with that article, and this one about the President's response to Katrina.

In this piece, Thomas Lifson says that W has been misunderestimated again and puts the big spending response in context.

[an] important lesson the President learned at Harvard Business School is to embrace a finite number of strategic goals, and to make each one of those goals serve as many desirable ends as possible.

The President’s strategic goals remain remarkably consistent: 1) position America to win the War on terror (a goal thrust upon his presidency in 2001); 2) keep America’s economy growing; 3) position the Republican Party to dominate American politics in the foreseeable future.

His response to Hurricane Katrina is being shaped by these three goals, as well as (and even more importantly) by the genuine humanitarian impulse to help fellow Americans and fellow souls when they are most in need.


Lifson then shows how the President’s response serves these goals.

Good Stuff!

Posted by John Kranz at 12:43 PM | Comments (7)
But jk thinks:

Well, if it's nitpicking season, I believe it's a bee in one's bonnet or a burr in one's saddle.

How about four years without a serious attack on American soil? It's an amorphous agenda but the length of time without a US attack, the removal of the Taliban from Afghanistan, the removal of Saddam from Iraq, free elections in both nations and spillover into Kuwait (women's suffrage), Egypt (multi-party elections), and Libya (ended nuke program) are substantive achievements. And that if you had dreamed of this in late September 2001, you'd have been a hapless Pollyanna.

For the near term, let’s look at continued protection at home, ability to safely draw down troop levels in Iraq, and some spillover to Syria and Iran.

Posted by: jk at September 23, 2005 5:14 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

There I was, looking foolish wearing a saddle for a bonnet...

I certainly can't argue with the successes you claim, ( I can almost picture the chart on the Oval Office wall, "Days since a terrorist attack" with little numbers that are hung up every day) and I too celebrate them even as I remain a skeptic. The ground rules of this conflict are different, there will be no armistice or surrender, no territory to capture or reclaim, or even a notable collapse of a wall or an empire. The only way to win is to affect a change in the mindset of the would be perpetrators, when freedom and economic prosperity become more important than their cause, a success that will be significant precisely because it is not notable, but a peace that ushers in quietly over time as terrorism becomes so rare as to be largely forgotten. Governments will change and ideologies will soften, but it is a fallacy to think that military intervention is the only or faster way to achieve these goals.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at September 27, 2005 11:35 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Silence, may I please say, politely, "bunk."

I submit that one can never affect a "change in the mindset of the would be perpetrators" of terrorism. Anyone who, as I, has attempted to "change" a spouse's mindset understands this simple fact of life all too well.

The change that is needed here is not external to America, but within it. Terrorists dare to attack us because they know we'll hamstring our own self defense with pacifist navel gazing. They attack us because we attack ourselves (or at least, allow ourselves to attack each other). Free speech is just fine with me - let the collectivists argue that America deserves to be destroyed, or assemble plans for an "International Freedom Center" at the WTC memorial - but to hell with this political correctness that prevents proud individualists from saying "you are wrong." Let the rest of America's individuals decide which camp they'd rather join, but only after they've heard BOTH sides of the argument, not just the MSM and ivory tower party lines.

Military intervention against groups, gangs, tribes, or nations who conduct murders and bombings of civilians is indeed the only way to dissuade them. And if James Earl Carter, Jr. had invaded Iran and rounded up every last "revolutionary" who was involved in the invasion of sovereign US territory at our embassy for trial and imprisonment, perhaps we'd never have seen the slaughter of 9/11 or the scores of smaller "operations" that presaged it.

America is the good. Liberty is her guiding principle. Relentless intolerance of threats to our liberty is the fastest, the surest... the ONLY way to preserve it. "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants." It remains for every American to choose whether to lead, to follow, or to get the hell out of the way.

Posted by: johngalt at September 27, 2005 3:10 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

I guess we will have to agree to disagree johngalt, or may I politely say "bunk" in return? Fear of retribution will not dissuade fanatic terrorists, neither will the opposite embolden them, they march to their own deluded drummer. Describe for me how someone who views himself as a martyr will be emboldened if he thinks he won't we killed or dissuaded if he thinks he will. It doesn't matter to him, that's the point of being a martyr. Look at how Israel's 40 years of strong response has worked against terrorism. To pretend that a more aggressive response back in Iran for example would have saved us from 9-11 is pure insanity. Insanity as in doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. The conservatives have heralded their conclusion that sanctions don't work, the liberals their conclusion that military intervention and government overthrow doesn't work. Funny thing is they are both right, but rather than come up with more options each side claims one as the answer.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at September 28, 2005 12:51 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Of course the true fanatics won't easily be dissuaded by a forceful response against them, and may even in their great rage welcome it. But they are indeed emboldened by cowardice and restraint. Or aren't you familiar with UBL's famous "fatwa" statement, "...the extent of your impotence and weaknesses became very clear" after Clinton withdrew from Somalia?

And then we have the followers. These are the ones I think can be deterred, when they see a crushing miltary response to each petty terrorist skirmish. It may occur to them that there's no profit in their bloody agenda if they fail to make any progress or win concessions. Or aren't you familar with Zarqawi's famous courier intercept stating that suicide bombers were getting harder and harder to find?

"Israel's 40 years of strong response," you say? Like evacuating its citizens by force and buldozing their homes so that "Palestinian" cockroaches can call that their "homeland?" That's not the kind of "strong response" I advocate.

If you want to call what America has done in the face of a terrorist threat for the last 26 years insanity then I'll agree with you, but I sure as hell won't abide with any notion that it has been, on the whole, "forceful."

Military intervention and "government" overthrow worked quite nicely in Afghanistan, thank you very much. And the liberals are scared straight to death that it's on the verge of working in Iraq as well. You, on the other hand, appear to be advocating for the elusive "un-thought-of better option" so routinely used as a tool to provoke impotence. Well, I've been talking about such a better option for some time now. The question now is, who doesn't want us to win?

Posted by: johngalt at September 28, 2005 3:27 PM
But jk thinks:

Lookit you guys having all this fun on the bottom of the page!

I guess you have exposed a fundamental difference between the supporters and the serious antagonists of the administration’s terror policy.

I have to line up squarely with JohnGalt on this. Osama Bin Laden exploited the Arab street's perception of the US as a paper tiger, following our nation's ignominious retreats in Beirut (Reagan) and Somalia (Clinton), as well as our pusillanimous reaction to the Iranian hostages (Carter), the first Trade Center bombing (Clinton) and the Embassy and U.S.S. Cole bombing (Clinton).

As for Israel, the worst part of the Intifada followed the failure of the Oslo accords, when both the US and Israel looked weak.

What we perceive as kindness is perceived by Islamofascists as weakness.

Posted by: jk at September 28, 2005 5:01 PM

September 16, 2005

Larry's On Board

Larry Kudlow echoes my belief that there is good polity in the President's speech from New Orleans last night. It's perhaps packed in with a lot of spending, but it is not "LBJ or FDR" as a lot on the right have protested:

So while Congress will flesh out the legislative details, it looks like private capital formation, business creation, and homeownership are key free enterprise approaches chosen by Mr. Bush to revive the Gulf Coast. This is very good. Perhaps Congress will waive any capital gains tax burdens to further attract capital. But certainly Bush has chosen not to create a new New Deal or a new WPA. There will be a lot of federal spending, but there will also be a large private sector component to the recovery plan.
[..]
All in all, the President’s speech last night was a good one. Delivered in his usual plain-speaking manner, it had positive economic growth solutions and an optimistic view of the longer-run. Good for Mr. Bush.

Posted by John Kranz at 3:33 PM

Good Speech

I have been trying to absorb some punditry this morning. I sometimes change my position on a Bush speech up or down, but not today, I'm going with initial reaction.

It has surprised me how all-over-the-map the response has been. On FOXNews (Rupert Murdoch -- boo hiss!!!) after the speech, W got pretty good marks from Mort Kondracke, Nina Easton (Boston Globe) and Charles Krauthammer. Speakers Gingrich and Livingstone were both positive, as was Sen. John Breaux.

Then, I clicked over to MSNBC and you'd've thought the President spent a half hour killing puppies. Conservatives Tony Blankley, Tucker Carlson and host Joe Scarborough were excoriating the President. Former Clinton Aide Dee Dee Meyers had the sense to step back end say "if you guys don't like it..."

The jk position:

  • Hell, yes, we're gonna spend money, and much will be wasted. Sorry. This is a huge disaster and will require public funds.
  • This is W. This will be like No Child Left Behind, matching a conservative concept with tons of spending.
  • I was impressed with two significant conservative ideas worked into the plan: calling for a gulf coast "Enterprise Zone" and the "Homesteading Act" (man, Jack Kemp is smiling smugly somewhere...)

He also put his other agenda items back on track, with a comprehensive and sober speech. The imagery of Jackson Square was brilliant. Over one shoulder, St. Peter's, President Jackson over the other. General Jackson would not give up, would not rebuild an American City. And our nation’s religious heritage stands for rebuilding and redemption.

I give it a B+


Posted by John Kranz at 1:07 PM

September 15, 2005

Bush and Katrina

Peggy Noonan writes a great column today. I have been such a fan of hers for so many years but lately have failed to connect with her ideas and her lyricism. A friend has emailed after a few of her columns "She's on the crack pipe, again!"

Put today starts out with a poignant look at 9/11 which was legitimately personal for her. Her book, "A Cross, A Heart and A Flag," includes some of her best work. Then a perfect segue to Katrina and a realistic assessment of the damage done to the Bush Presidency. She has more and better perspective than me, but we share one idea I had this morning.

A couple of hours before reading Ms. Noonan, I thought: "This is W's first objective failure. He's done a dozen things that I’ve disliked, and a thousand things that Silence has disliked, but those are up for discussion. Yet NOBODY can completely defend the Federal response."

It might be "blood on the floor" as Jack Welch said yesterday, but nobody will defend Mike Brown. I wrote an essay once, saying that the best thing about W was the CEO Presidency, with serious achievers in important posts rather than political hacks. Noonan reminds all of us that Brown was a political hack, He surely gave money or knew somebody, he did not earn the job by competence.

I will go with Margaret that the second term is recoverable, and hope with my friends at the WSJ Ed Page that some enlightened thought is bought to the relief efforts: more Enterprise Zones and less WPA.

Mostly, it is just a great column. I did not excerpt a word, you can read it all here.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:35 AM

September 14, 2005

W: 2, UN: 0

I posted a very somber look at the rest of the Bush Presidency. As some of the waters recede and some polls improve, I'll back off of my most portentous predictions, but I'm still not up to sanguine.

Yet, I gotta say I still love this guy. President Bush addressed the UN and called for End of Trade Tariffs, Subsidies

UNITED NATIONS - Saying poverty breeds terrorism and despair, President Bush challenged world leaders on Wednesday to abolish all trade tariffs and subsidies — worth hundreds of billions of dollars — to promote prosperity and opportunity in struggling nations.

"Either hope will spread, or violence will spread, and we must take the side of hope," Bush told more than 160 presidents, prime ministers and kings gathered for three days of U.N. General Assembly meetings aimed at combating poverty and reforming the world body.


Yes, I get down on the failures of a governing GOP majority. But I will give the President credit for deft and firm handling of the UN, from exposing their pusillanimity on Iraq to sending John Bolton over on a recess appointment.

I may not be the happiest boy in town, but at least we're not watching President Kerry bowing and scraping to Secretary Annan.

SIDE-NOTE: Hop in on a very intelligent conversation among Andrew Ferguson, Ramesh Ponnuru, Scott Johnson and Russ Douthat about whether years of governing power has advanced conservatism.

Posted by John Kranz at 5:06 PM

September 13, 2005

Bush Doesn't Care About Black People

From CNN

    White and black Americans view Hurricane Katrina's aftermath in starkly different ways, with more blacks viewing race as a factor in problems with the federal response, according to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll released Monday.

    The poll found that six in 10 blacks interviewed said the federal government was slow in rescuing those stranded in New Orleans after Katrina because many of the people in the Louisiana city were black. But only about one in eight white respondents shared that view.

    The numbers were similar on whether the rescues were slower because the victims were poor, with 63 percent of blacks blaming poverty and 21 percent of whites doing so.


I'm going to guess there are more black people per capita in Africa and the Carribean than New Orleans. So how do you explain this?
    "If we can turn the president's bold long term vision into near term results we're excited," Bono said in a statement.

    "Any delay in increased funding means more lives lost and an even bigger cheque in the future."

    Bono was working with Nelson Mandela on an Aids benefit concert

    The singer says the US needs to spend $2.5bn (£1.5bn) out of this year's budget to help tackle the Aids crisis.

    He said Europe must also match the US contribution.

    But he said the American donation was a big step in the right direction.

    "The president's emphasis upon anti-retroviral treatment represents a true paradigm shift and is to be wholly welcomed," he said.


I guess Secretaries Powell, Rice and Paige were unavailable for comment.

Given that the GOP is aggressively courting black voters, and the GOPers are politicians foremost, why would they do something that would be against their interests?

It smells like nearly three weeks of the "Bush & Feds f'd up" drumbeat from the MSM and Democrats is finally sinking in.

Posted by AlexC at 3:00 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

Taranto does some interesting analysis on these numbers today:

http://www.opinionjournal.com/best/?id=110007253

His thesis is that the holders of these radical views are outliers in a composite view of the country and electorate.

Posted by: jk at September 13, 2005 5:30 PM

Lame Duck

I am completely down in the dumps. Partly from the Broncos' performance in Miami last Sunday, but no, it's political. We lost.

By "we," kimosabe, I mean all of those who would like to see some serious reform of tax policy and Social Security. The bloggers and commenters around here don't all agree on the particulars or the color of sky, but I think we all would like to see some bold discussions of flat-tax, fair-tax, Social Security accounts. All are legislative long-shots, but any one would be almost as exciting as privatizing the post office.

The Democrats, however, with the help of the media, have successfully stalled the President's agenda. He might come through on the Supreme Court nominations (or might not) but he will not be able to mount any bold domestic or foreign policy initiatives. The Katrina cloud will hang over the administration for a year or more and after that, it will be the last session and general lame-duckness will set in.

The Democrats already think that Katrina means that Judge Roberts will have to be examined more closely. And we cannot possibly cut taxes when our neighbors are living in shelters:

The estate tax seemed to be cruising toward inevitable demise. A Senate vote was expected around Labor Day, and the GOP appeared close to the 60 votes needed to permanently abolish taxes on inheritances. Katrina has set the vote back by at least a few weeks, as the Senate attends instead to legislation authorizing relief funds to the Gulf Coast. The hurricane has also provided an argument against repeal to Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean. He compared beneficiaries of repeal with hurricane victims, asking, "Shall we give [the estate tax revenues] to the wealthiest people in the country, or should we rebuild New Orleans?" The argument is a progressive classic: Not taxing the rich is the same as taking from the poor.

This is, sadly, going to work.

Federalism is dead too. As certainly as all the Federal failures will prevent making the extremely successful tax cuts permanent, all of the local and state failures will usher in sweeping new Federal powers. FEMA will now decide whether a tornado shelter is built in Lafayette, Colorado. The state national guards might be shifted under federal control so that incompetent governors will not slow rescue efforts. And very few people will take any notice of the liberties we will be handing over.

When the Abu Ghraib story broke, a Marine friend of mine called the miscreants “the six f***s who lost the war.” All wars and all politics are fought out in a media environment that is neither clever nor fair. Did the war effort yet recover from Abu Ghraib? Will the second Bush term recover from Katrina?

UPDATE: Mark Steyn disagrees:

Unlike other dead horses flogged by the media - Cindy Sheehan, torture at Guantanamo, etc - this was at one point a real story: an actual hurricane, people dying, things going wrong. But that wasn't good enough, and the more they tossed in to damage Bush, the more they drowned any real controversy in the usual dreary pseudo-controversy. After watching Democrat Senator Mary Landrieu threatening to punch out the President, a reader e-mailed me Kipling: "If you can keep your head when all about you/Are losing theirs and blaming it on you."

That's all Bush had to do. The storm has passed.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:38 PM

September 11, 2005

Bush Panders to Blacks

I don't blog surf enough to know if my comment was an original one, but on Friday I wrote (third comment) that the Democrat charges of "FEMA failure" and "Bush doesn't like black people" were calculated to influence the extent of federal aid sent to hurricane victims by the administration - particularly the black, inner city victims. The LA Times has noticed what's going on too. They call it, "A Comeback for Big Government."

Indeed, it is the size of the administration's relief plan that has taken conservatives and others by surprise. At more than $62 billion and counting, the effort invited comparison with such undertakings as the government's Marshall Plan for rebuilding Europe after World War II.

[...]

Although Republican leaders insist they have not given up on passing the entitlement cuts, even ardent budget hawks fear that the prospects of making such politically painful changes are dim at a time when disaster relief is flowing from federal coffers at a rate of $2 billion a day.

What's noteworthy, however, is that the Times trumpets the president's spending spree, contrasts it with his planned agenda, seemingly confident that the president has no choice but to dole out the tax dollars. Nothing but this wishful thought from a Heritage Foundation fellow suggests that the spending might be reigned in: "Once the emotional waters recede, then [the administration] will get down to the brass tacks of saying no." The problem with that scenario, however, is that once the "Mardi Gras Marshall Plan" gets rolling it will be damn near impossible to stop. No, the Times understands how the game of "blame the rich" is played, and they know the president has already lost the battle over how much the American taxpayer will have to shell out for the poor blacks of New Orleans' slums.

What's my better idea, you ask? Cut taxes and suspend regulations in the disaster zone.

Posted by JohnGalt at 5:38 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

Larry Kudlow calls it the "New New Deal" and has had Jack Kemp and Steve Forbes on to talk about enterprise zones and tax incentives.

I hate to say it but this is NOT the place to trust President Bush. He is not a small government conservative and I fear that he will shovel money as fast as any of them.

Don't know that I'll join you in claiming the racial angle -- Fred Barnes called W a "Big Government Conservative." He will use the power of government here to help and I agree that he will go too far.

Posted by: jk at September 12, 2005 11:40 AM

August 29, 2005

Border Controls: About F'ing Time

It's about time Mr President.

    "I understand it's putting a strain on your resources," said Bush. "It's important for the people of this state to understand, your voices are being heard in Washington, D.C."

    Bush, a former Texas governor, told a crowd dominated by retirees that he will work with Gov. Janet Napolitano and other border governors to address the problem, declaring: "We have an obligation to enforce the borders."

    More people, detention space and resources will be made available in border areas, Bush said.


Of course, it's easy to say something, another to do it.

Let's get on with it.

    U.S. Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., said Bush has not been getting credit for addressing border issues.

    "I have no doubt that he is clearly at this point strongly embracing immigration reform that would secure our borders," Franks said.

    The issue of security should be addressed first, he said, and after that, questions about guest worker programs, illegal immigrants who are already here and employer sanctions can be addressed.

    "Until we secure the borders, we cannot even begin that debate," Franks said.


Exactly right. However, Bush hasn't recieved the credit, because NOTHING has been done.

Posted by AlexC at 9:00 PM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

I completely disagree. I actually typed an eight letter word that begins with B and ends with T but thought better of it.

President Bush has made the first realistic and viable proposal for the border we have seen in some time. Unlike President Clinton's "amnesty" and Tom Tancredo / Bill O'Reilly military solutions, W's guest worker program meets the needs of the business community, supports the exigencies of millions of current workers, and allows for more enforcement down the road.

Just because the GOP legislators are ineffective and the Democrats are intransigent does not mean the President has done nothing.

Posted by: jk at August 30, 2005 12:15 PM
But johngalt thinks:

No, but the fact that he has done nothing DOES mean that the President has done nothing. Notably absent from your brief list of the President's "proposals" is anything at all having to do with SECURING the border.

The lawful and honorable efforts of free Americans living along that border haven't even been enough to persuade the "law and order, make America secure" president to even make a PROPOSAL for securing the border. Instead he calls them vigilantes. Disgraceful.

Posted by: johngalt at August 30, 2005 3:04 PM

July 2, 2005

Rove as Plame Source

MSNBC's psychotic blowhard Lawrence O'Donnell says Karl Rove outed Valerie Plame.

    "What we're going to go to now in the next stage, when Matt Cooper's e-mails, within Time Magazine, are handed over to the grand jury, the ultimate revelation, probably within the week of who his source is.

    "And I know I'm going to get pulled into the grand jury for saying this but the source of...for Matt Cooper was Karl Rove, and that will be revealed in this document dump that Time magazine's going to do with the grand jury."

    Other panelists then joined in discussing whether, if true, this would suggest a perjury rap for Rove, if he told the grand jury he did not leak to Cooper.

    Cooper and New York Times reporter Judith Miller, held in contempt for refusing to name sources, tried Friday to stay out of jail by arguing for home detention instead after Time Inc. surrendered its reporter's notes to a prosecutor.


You might remember Lawrence O'Donnell's on screen breakdown.

In any case, let's bring it out. Let's see who the source is.

And what if it's not Karl Rove? Will O'Donnell publically recant?

Why would someone from Time magazine tell Larry O'Donnell anything? I suspect it's just his case of BDS flaring up again.

If the source is not Karl Rove, this might be another example of his evil genius. Why in the world would the Bush administration controlled Justice Department be after getting the info? Why not just let it go? Let it get buried under the freedom of the press?

And if it was Karl Rove, why wouldn't the Time magazine type just say so? Are they suddenly on the President's side and willing to go jail? To protect Karl Rove? Are you kidding me?

What would that revelation say about Time in the eyes of the "liberal adoration"/"bush is evil" brigade?

Posted by AlexC at 1:00 PM

June 29, 2005

Pinch Me

I'm dreaming.
A positive economic article from the AP?

    Even in the face of high energy prices, the economy turned in a solid performance in the first quarter of 2005, suggesting the expansion should stay on firm footing.

    The gross domestic product, the broadest measure of economic standing, increased at an annual rate of 3.8 percent from January through March, according to revised figures released by the Commerce Department on Wednesday.

    That compared with a 3.5 percent growth rate estimated a month ago and matched the showing over the final three months of 2004.

    GDP measures the value of all goods and services produced within the United States. In the opening quarter of 2005, it climbed to $11.1 trillion on an annualized basis, adjusted for inflation.

    Brisk spending on housing projects, more investment by business in equipment and software, and a trade deficit that was less of a drag on economic growth all played a role in the higher first-quarter GDP reading.

    "The economy is performing well. Sturdy growth with modest inflation," said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Economy.com.


Incredibly there weren't that many "buts" in the whole thing.
What's going on?

(hint, it's not an election year)

Posted by AlexC at 9:33 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

But Alex, in times of economic growtth, we are sure to see greater disparities between the rich and poor as the rich get more richer than the poor get richer.

I'm sure the AP will follow up with some figures on that pretty soon...

Posted by: jk at June 30, 2005 10:21 AM

May 27, 2005

Janice Rogers Brown STILL Rocks!

As I read JK's post on the "Great Fillibuster Compromise of 2005" I was a little concerned about TNR's reference to "higher law than the Constitution" on the part of Bush judicial nominee Janice Rogers Brown.

Loyal readers will recall my May 18 posting, All Hail: Janice Rogers Brown, wherein I praised the jurist vociferously for her individual rights views while expressing uncertainty about her social sensibilities (i.e. should the government tell people how, when and why they may reproduce.) These two factors compelled me to learn more about the woman's judicial philosophy.

I googled the "Janice Rogers Brown" search results for "higher law" and found two articles of interest. From the conservative point-of-view, FrontPage Magazine tells us:

Brown's judicial philosophy amounts to what is sometimes called the "Madisonian" view, because it reflects the allegiance to higher law and transcendent rights embraced by the "Father of the Constitution." Not everything is open to majority rule, and courts must ensure that the majority does not run roughshod over groups that are unpopular or lack political power. As Brown put it in another dissenting opinion, "Courts must be especially vigilant, must vigorously resist encroachments that heighten the potential for arbitrary government action."

Very well. So far, so good.

Then I found this whining essay on something called "counterpunch" that characterized Rogers Brown's legal philosophy as "bizarre."

Virtually every court that has considered the matter has concluded that racist speech can create a hostile, abusive and discriminatory work environment, and that when it does so, a court can stop it. No court in recent decades has held that the First Amendment gives people the right to use speech to harass fellow workers on racial or religious grounds at work.

Just as a court can order a company to take down a "Whites Only" sign outside its employment office, even though this is "speech," so judges have consistently held that other words can constitute unlawful racial discrimination, and that when they do, the courts must step in and call a halt to such discrimination.

That is the established view under American law, supported by years of precedent. But it is not the view of Janice Rogers Brown, President Bush's nominee to the D.C. Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. Brown, a member of the California Supreme Court, is one of 12 judicial nominees previously rejected due to their extremist positions, whose nominations were recently exhumed by Bush.

How very matter-of-factly this liberal corpuscle tramples the boundary between speech and action, and denies freedom of speech as a right to those whose speech he disagrees with. A "whites only" sign is speech, but its removal is predicated on the presumption that discriminatory action will follow. The entire post-modern notion of "hate speech" as an act of agressive physical violence is preposterous.

But I digress. Here is the corpuscle's passage on higher law:

Justice Brown's bizarre view that this social contract constitutes "collectivism" is much more than a curiosity because her appointment to the important D.C. Circuit (and possibly thereafter to the U.S. Supreme Court) would give her the power to try to reverse these "socialist" triumphs.

Brown certainly means to try. She has advised that conservative judges need not be concerned with the "activist" label and urges judges to be "audacious enough to invoke higher law," by which she means a judge-imposed vision of so-called natural law that protects property from the will of the majority.

Well bully once again. Brown adheres to an individual's natural right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and apparently manages to say so without mentioning "God" or "Creator." This Supreme Court Justice from the Golden State is my kind of girl!

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:19 PM

May 18, 2005

All Hail: Janice Rogers Brown

JK brought us Glenn Reynolds attitude on the Senate confimation battle over Federal judges today: "If I thought that Bush were likely to nominate actual small-government strict constructionists to the Supreme Court, perhaps I'd care more, but I've seen no sign that he's likely to do that."

I'll admit to a certain apathy as this week's showdown approached. "Who are these judicial nominees" I wondered. "Do the liberals oppose them because they want to overturn Roe or because they want to roll back the welfare state?" In one instance I would be supportive, but in the other I'd probably side with the fillibusterers. In the four years since the disputed nominees were first presented I don't recall seeing or hearing much about their views. There was much about who liked them and who didn't, but little by the way of describing why.

Right on cue, it's Rush Limbaugh to the rescue. On his show today he read aloud from the transcript of a speech to the Federalist Society in Chicago. To wit:

The great innovation of this millennium was equality before the law. The greatest fiasco — the attempt to guarantee equal outcomes for all people. Tom Bethell notes that the security of property — a security our Constitution sought to ensure — had to be devalued in order for collectivism to come of age. The founders viewed private property as "the guardian of every other right."9 But, "by 1890 we find Alfred Marshall, the teacher of John Maynard Keynes making the astounding claim that the need for private property reaches no deeper than the qualities of human nature."10 A hundred years later came Milton Friedman's laconic reply: " 'I would say that goes pretty deep.'"11 In between, came the reign of socialism. "Starting with the formation of the Fabian Society and ending with the fall of the Berlin Wall, its ambitious project was the reformation of human nature. Intellectuals visualized a planned life without private property, mediated by the New Man."12 He never arrived. As John McGinnis persuasively argues: "There is simply a mismatch between collectivism on any large and enduring scale and our evolved nature. As Edward O. Wilson, the world's foremost expert on ants, remarked about Marxism, 'Wonderful theory. Wrong species.'"13

Ayn Rand similarly attributes the collectivist impulse to what she calls the "tribal view of man."14 She notes, "[t]he American philosophy of the Rights of Man was never fully grasped by European intellectuals. Europe's predominant idea of emancipation consisted of changing the concept of man as a slave to the absolute state embodied by the king, to the concept of man as the slave of
the absolute state as embodied by 'the people' — i.e., switching from slavery to a tribal chieftain into slavery to the tribe."15

Democracy and capitalism seem to have triumphed. But, appearances can be deceiving. Instead of celebrating capitalism's virtues, we offer it grudging acceptance, contemptuous tolerance but only for its capacity to feed the insatiable maw of socialism. We do not conclude that socialism suffers
from a fundamental and profound flaw. We conclude instead that its ends are worthy of any sacrifice — including our freedom. Revel notes that Marxism has been "shamed and ridiculed everywhere except American universities" but only after totalitarian systems "reached the limits of their wickedness."

For a reason I could only speculate, Rush skipped the middle paragraph that cited Rand. The important thing is, Brown didn't.

The rest of this speech is insightful, intelligent and witty. She even references Procol Harum! I can't wait to read it in its entirety. More importantly, upon brief review Janice Rogers Brown appears to be a perfect choice for the federal bench and, ultimately, the Supreme Court.

Posted by JohnGalt at 9:44 PM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

You're making me wish that I had not posted that Instaquote yesterday. Truth be told, I have been pretty impressed with the Bush nominees so far. Comparing them to the rest of the federal bench, they shine all the more brightly.

The idea of the filibuster is to chase out the Robert Borks of the world and replace them with David Souters -- squishy jurists who will be easier to confirm because they don't stand for anything. Pull the trigger, Senator Frist! We need these good folks on the bench.

And, jg, you win this one but your support for Roe v. Wade as good Constitutional law continues to baffle...

Posted by: jk at May 19, 2005 11:19 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I'm very leery of changing the fillibuster rule, as it's another step toward democracy (tyranny of the majority), but that may be what it takes to get good (non-relativist) judges on the benches.

I recall my last word on Roe to be "right conclusion, wrong reason" which is preferable to wrong conclusion for any reason.

Posted by: johngalt at May 20, 2005 2:33 PM

May 5, 2005

More Filiblustering

Chuck Pennachio press release...

    Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania, Chuck Pennacchio, will join students at Princeton University on Tuesday in their grassroots movement to protect minority rights against the “nuclear option” being pushed by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. Pennacchio will spend an hour answering questions submitted by supporters and bloggers across the country that have gravitated to his campaign’s message of progress, reform, and grassroots participation.

Princeton?

Isn't that in New Jersey? He's running Pa, last I checked.

    “In his partisan power play, Bill Frist has a friend in Pennsylvania, and his name is Rick Santorum,” said, Pennacchio. “Apparently Frist and Santorum won’t be satisfied until they have decimated the system of checks and balances that has served our country so well over two centuries.

I'm sure the two Senators are friends. He's got that right.

Here's where he goes wrong.

Nominees to the federal bench have never been filibustered. Held up in the Judiciary committeee, yes. Filibustered on the floor of the Senate? No.

Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas, both "evil conservatives," never faced a filibuster. Fair and square vote in the full Senate. Up or down.

"Over two centuries"? I beg to differ.

    The right to extended debate was not created until 1806, when the Senate cleaned up its rulebook and dispensed-probably by mistake-with the rule that allowed a majority to limit the debate. Filibusters did not begin in earnest until the newly formed Democratic and Whig parties formed several decades later.

There was a legitimate offer by the GOP to end the impasse. One hundred hours of debate. One hour per Senator. Surely the Democrats would be able to convince everyone in 45 of them that these nominees should not be seated.

Except that the Dems offered a deal where they would pass five, if Bush dropped two names.

So they're obviously qualified. So why hold them up?

Some interesting history I came across...
The filibuster rules have been changed. Get this.

    Though the filibuster was infrequently used, for 111 years (1806 to 1917), a single Senator could prevent a vote on a bill by simply continuing talk. This is the ultimate in minority rights. A single Senator could stop the Senate from action.

    In 1917, isolationist Republicans used the filibuster to make it more difficult to President Woodrow Wilson to prepare for war. Using the threat of eliminating the filibuster rules altogether, a compromise change in rules was agreed to. Two-thirds of the members of the Senate could vote "cloture" to end the filibuster.

But wait! There's more.

    During the rest of the 20th century, the filibuster was used most effectively by Southern Democrats to bottle up civil rights legislation. Again in response to the threat of a drastic limitation of the filibuster, rules were slightly modified in 1959 to allow for cloture with 2/3 present as opposed to 2/3 of the entire Senate. Further limits were agreed to in 1975 when cloture could be evoked by 3/5 of the Senate (60 senators). Further reforms were pushed through by Senator Robert Byrd (who now worships the filibuster as a member of the minority) to provide alternative means to limit debate.

I'll be damned. Robert Byrd, historian of the Senate, doesn't remember changing the rules?

I'm going to guess the Democrats were in the majority in 1975.

Just a guess.

Posted by AlexC at 12:00 AM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Thanks for the excellent fillibuster expose, Alex.

It's yet another example of 'pragmatism on parade' in our highest levels of government.

Posted by: johngalt at May 5, 2005 3:00 PM

May 4, 2005

Oil For Food Scandal Increases in scope

Claudia Rosett is on the case again. It now seems the amounts are in the $470 million range, that a French Bank was used (Mon Dieu!) and that the accounting was seriously shady:

Mr. Schenk further noted that some of the third-party payments went to companies, or to "affiliates" of companies, authorized by the United Nations via separate contracts to sell goods to Saddam's regime under oil for food, and that BNP had relied on the United Nations to vet such companies. He added, "We do not believe that any of these departures from procedures that we've identified today have caused or contributed to corruption under the program."
There are 80 as-yet-undisclosed third-party payments still under review by BNP that, according to Mr. Rohrabacher, "BNP does not fully understand." The bank's own auditors found that the flow of oil-for-food paperwork was "irrational."

It's dull as bilgewater but you have to read the whole thing. Then try to imagine that John Bolton might not be nice enough or diplomatic enough to represent our interests to this corrupt institution.

Hat-tip: Larry Kudlow, who says not only "Kofi Must Go!" but now "Volcker must Go!"

Posted by John Kranz at 1:15 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Graft and corruption at the UN is like hummers and coitus in a whorehouse. Everybody does it but those with 'connections' get the special treatment.

Posted by: johngalt at May 5, 2005 2:56 PM

May 1, 2005

SS: Private Accounts through Benefit Cuts

Having watched the President's news conference Thursday night, I wanted to blog its most important element - a suggestion to cut SS benefits in order to mitigate the transition cost to private accounts. Before I could do so, I received a TIA Daily email from Robert Tracinski (I subscribe to his print publication, but not the email service) with a thorough treatment of the event. On the subject of benefit cuts Tracinski said:

The news from the press conference is that Bush has fully embraced "progressive indexing," an idea put forward by economist Robert Pozen (see http://tinyurl.com/dekan). The idea is to increase Social Security benefits at the current, higher rate (indexed to growth in wage rates) for low-income retirees, while increasing benefits at a lower rate (indexed to keep pace with inflation) for higher-income retirees.

On the negative side, this is an appeal to altruism (as when Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley admonishes retirees not to be "selfish"; see http://tinyurl.com/a8bqp, and thanks to TIA Daily reader Erich Veyhl for sending me this link). But over decades, Social Security payments will become relatively insignificant for most workers, making it an expensive, onerous, and (it is hoped) unpopular welfare program for the poor.

Combine that with House legislation in the works that increases 401(k)-style investment programs and which Rep. Bill Thomas describes as "a retirement bill" and not "just" a Social Security bill (see http://tinyurl.com/8yxep), and what do you get? You get a proposal to phase out Social Security--over a period of 30 to 70 years. It looks like that's the boldest thinking we'll get from our leaders at this time.

[Remainder reprinted in "Continue reading."]

To this I will add that the important change is reduction in benefits (in conjunction with private accounts, of course) and not the way in which the reductions are structured. Yes, the egalitarian element of this proposal is objectively immoral, but as a political tactic to compel Democrats to accede to benefit cuts it is masterful. (As is Senator Grassley's appeal to altruism, referenced by Tracinski above. In context, he directed it toward those who oppose reform.)

And the value of private accounts more than outweighs the reduction in benefit growth as proposed. To the extent that our tax policies are compromised philosophically and can only change incrementally, the President's reform plan is a substantial increment of change in the proper direction - toward individual liberty.

UPDATE: May 2, 2005 - The WSJ editorial page makes a similar observation this morning. 'President Bush calls the Democrats' bluff on Social Security.'

Top News Stories:


Commentary by Robert Tracinski


1. The Bush Press Conference: Phasing Out Social Security--Over 70 Years

The biggest news today is the president's press conference from last night, and there is a great deal in it that is worth commenting on. So all five news links today will be items from this transcript. (First, an apology: in yesterday's TIA Daily, I passed on an Associated Press report that the president's press conference would be held at 8:30; it actually started at 8:00. I will be less trusting of AP in the future.)

Bush offered fewer specifics than expected. One commentator, at http://tinyurl.com/93mnn, offers a good guess as to why: offering a specific plan allows Democrats to claim they oppose it because of a flaw in the plan. Offering a general direction but no specifics means that the Democrats come across (accurately) as being "obstructionists," dogmatically opposed to any change to Social Security.

The news from the press conference is that Bush has fully embraced "progressive indexing," an idea put forward by economist Robert Pozen (see http://tinyurl.com/dekan). The idea is to increase Social Security benefits at the current, higher rate (indexed to growth in wage rates) for low-income retirees, while increasing benefits at a lower rate (indexed to keep pace with inflation) for higher-income retirees.

On the negative side, this is an appeal to altruism (as when Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley admonishes retirees not to be "selfish"; see http://tinyurl.com/a8bqp, and thanks to TIA Daily reader Erich Veyhl for sending me this link). But over decades, Social Security payments will become relatively insignificant for most workers, making it an expensive, onerous, and (it is hoped) unpopular welfare program for the poor.

Combine that with House legislation in the works that increases 401(k)-style investment programs and which Rep. Bill Thomas describes as "a retirement bill" and not "just" a Social Security bill (see http://tinyurl.com/8yxep), and what do you get? You get a proposal to phase out Social Security--over a period of 30 to 70 years. It looks like that's the boldest thinking we'll get from our leaders at this time.

http://tinyurl.com/bz7by

"Transcript of President Bush's Press Conference," New York Times, April 28

"Our duty to save Social Security begins with making the system permanently solvent, but our duty does not end there. We also have a responsibility to improve Social Security by directing extra help to those most in need.... I believe a reformed system should protect those who depend on Social Security the most. So I propose a Social Security system in the future where benefits for low-income workers will grow faster than benefits for people who are better off. By providing more generous benefits for low-income retirees, we'll make this commitment: If you work hard and pay into Social Security your entire life, you will not retire into poverty. This reform would solve most of the funding challenges facing Social Security.... [I]n terms of the definition of whose benefits would rise faster and whose wouldn't, that's going to be part of the negotiation process with the United States Congress. As a Democrat economist [a reference to Robert Pozen] had a very--he put forth this i!
dea. And he had a level of--I think 30 percent of the people would be considered to be on the lower income scale."


2. The Bush Press Conference: In the Long Run, We'll All Be Dead

The other half of any presidential press conference is the games the White House press corps play to try to push their own agenda. The most obvious game was a concerted effort to prevent President Bush from talking about Social Security by asking him about Iraq and al Qaeda--an attempt to push the discussion into the familiar "quagmire" territory that the mainstream press prefers.

The first two question were about public opinion polls, the third was about Iraq, and it wasn't until the eighth question (asked by conservative reporter Bill Sammon) that the discussion briefly returned to Social Security--then the next question immediately steered back to Iraq. Some reporters criticized Bush later for offering few specifics on Social Security--so why didn't they press him for details at the press conference?

But the most interesting trend was a series of questions and answers in which Bush explained how he was pursing plans (on gasoline and Iraq) that would lead to success over the long term--explanations the reporters brushed off impatiently while demanding to know what effect those plans would have today--which, come to think of it, integrates with the reporters' obsession with the very latest public opinion polls.

http://tinyurl.com/bz7by

"Transcript of President Bush's Press Conference," New York Times, April 28

"BUSH: The legislative process is just getting started, and I'm optimistic we'll get something done.

"QUESTION: Polls... (OFF-MIKE)

"BUSH: Polls? You know, if a president tries to govern based on polls, you're kind of like a dog chasing your tail. I don't think you can make good, sound decisions based upon polls. And I don't think the American people want a president who relies upon polls and focus groups to make decisions for the American people....

"QUESTION: Can you explain for us how, if it were passed soon after it were introduced, the energy bill would have an effect on the current record price of oil that we're seeing out there?

"BUSH: Actually, I said in my opening statement that the best way to affect the current price of gasoline is to encourage producing nations to put more crude oil on the market.... But, listen, the energy bill is certainly no quick fix. You can't wave a magic wand. I wish I could.... It just doesn't work that way. This is a problem that's been a long time in coming. We haven't had an energy policy in this country. And it's going to take us awhile to become less dependent on foreign sources of energy.... So these are longer-term projects, all aimed at making us become less dependent on foreign sources of energy.

"QUESTION: Do I read you correctly that the energy bill would not have had an affect on today's high gasoline and oil prices?

"BUSH: It would have 10 years ago.... It's taken us a while to get there, it's going to take us a while to get out....

"In the long run, like I said earlier, the way to defeat terror, though, is to spread freedom and democracy. It's really the only way in the long term. In the short term we'll use our troops and assets and agents to find these people and to protect American. But in the long term, we must defeat the hopelessness that allows them to recruit by spreading freedom and democracy. But we're making progress.

"QUESTION: So in the near term you think there will be more attacks and more people dying?"


3. The Bush Press Conference: Putting Religious Politics to Rest?

President Bush is certainly sympathetic to the religious right, giving it crucial aid and comfort, as when he flew back from Texas last month to sign the unconstitutional edict about Terri Schiavo. But when he is asked directly about his views on religion in politics, what he has to say is often, paradoxically, quite good--as in this answer that ought to (but won't) put the kibosh on what I have dubbed the Jihad on the Judiciary.

http://tinyurl.com/bz7by

"Transcript of President Bush's Press Conference," New York Times, April 28

"QUESTION: Mr. President, recently the head of the Family Research Council said that judicial filibusters are an attack against people of faith. And I wonder whether you believe that, in fact, that is what is motivating Democrats who oppose your judicial choices. And I wonder what you think, generally, about the role that faith is playing, how it's being used in our political debates right now.

"BUSH: I think people are opposing my nominees because they don't like the judicial philosophy of the people I've nominated. And some would like to see judges legislate from the bench. That's not my view of the proper role of a judge....

"Role of religion in our society? I view religion as a personal matter. I think a person ought to be judged on how he or she lives his life or lives her life. And that's how I've tried to live my life: through example. Faith plays an important part in my life individually. But I don't ascribe a person's opposing my nominations to an issue of faith.

"QUESTION: Do you think that's an inappropriate statement?

"BUSH: No. I think people oppose my nominees because of judicial philosophy.

"QUESTION: Sir, I asked you about what you think of...the way faith is being used in our political debates, not just in society generally.

"BUSH: Well, I can only speak to myself. And I am mindful that people in political office shouldn't say to somebody, You're not equally American if you don't happen to agree with my view of religion. As I said, I think faith is a personal issue. And I take great strength from my faith. But I don't condemn somebody in the political process because they may not agree with me on religion. The great thing about America is that you should be allowed to worship any way you want. And if you chose not to worship, you're equally as patriotic as somebody who does worship. And if you choose to worship, you're equally American if you're a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim. And that's the wonderful thing about our country and that's the way it should be."


4. The Bush Press Conference: What I Learned from George Bush

I hate to admit it, but occasionally I learn something from President Bush. One little-noted point that he made last night speaks to a profound insight in his thinking on the war: that success against terrorism cannot be achieved merely through a negative--through the destruction of existing terrorist groups--but has to be achieved through a positive: the spread of opposing political (and, I would add, philosophical) ideals.

His approach to this positive goal (as to the necessary but "negative" tasks of "homeland defense" and killing terrorists overseas) is riddled with errors. But it is, nonetheless, an important truth.

http://tinyurl.com/bz7by

"Transcript of President Bush's Press Conference," New York Times, April 28

"QUESTION: Mr. President, your State Department has reported that terrorist attacks around the world are at an all-time high. If we're winning the war on terrorism, as you say, how do you explain that more people are dying in terrorist attacks on your watch than ever before?

"BUSH: Well, we've made the decision to defeat the terrorists abroad so we don't have to face them here at home. And when you engage the terrorists abroad, it causes activity and action. And we're relentless--we, America and our coalition partners. We understand the stakes. And they're very high, because there are people still out there that would like to do harm to the American people.

"But our strategy is stay on the offense, is to keep the pressure on these people, is to cut off their money and to share intelligence and to find them where they hide. And we are making good progress. The al Qaeda network that attacked the United States has been severely diminished. We are slowly but surely dismantling that organization. In the long run, like I said earlier, the way to defeat terror, though, is to spread freedom and democracy. It's really the only way in the long term.

"In the short term we'll use our troops and assets and agents to find these people and to protect American. But in the long term, we must defeat the hopelessness that allows them to recruit by spreading freedom and democracy."


5. The Bush Press Conference: The Metaphysics of Social Security

The reason President Bush's push for a partial quasi-privatization of Social Security is faltering is that he has not challenged the altruist morality behind the system--indeed, he has embraced that morality. So the only hope of passing his plan will be if he can make headway on a new theme he has been emphasizing recently: the metaphysics of Social Security.

He certainly doesn't put it this way, but there is a clear, deliberate trend in his statements of emphasizing the fact that Social Security represents "promises" and "a filing cabinet full of IOUs"--while private accounts represent "real assets" that won't "just go away" because of an arcane government rule (as Social Security benefits do when a spouse dies before age 62).

http://tinyurl.com/bz7by

"Transcript of President Bush's Press Conference," New York Times, April 28

"BUSH: I feel strongly that there needs to be voluntary personal savings accounts as a part of the Social Security system. I mean, it's got to be a part of the comprehensive package. And the reason I feel strongly about that is that we got a lot of debt out there, a lot of unfunded liabilities, and our workers need to be able to earn a better rate of return on their money to help deal with that debt.... Now, it's very important for our fellow citizens to understand there is not a bank account here in Washington, DC, where we take your payroll taxes and hold it for you and then give it back to you when you retire. Our system is called pay as you go. You pay into the system through your payroll taxes and the government spends it. It spends the money on the current retirees and with the money left over, it funds other government programs. And all that's left behind is file cabinets full of IOUs.

"The reason I believe that this ought to work is not only should a worker get a better rate of return, not only should we encourage ownership, but I want people to have real assets in the system. I want people to be able to say, Here is my mix of bonds and stocks that I own, and I can leave it whomever I want....

"One other point on Social Security that people have got to understand is that the system of today is not fair for a person whose spouse has died early. In other words, if you're a two-working family, like a lot of families are here in America, and two people working in your family, and the spouse dies early--before 62, for example--all of the money that the spouse has put into the system is held there, and then when the other spouse retires, he or she gets to choose the benefits from his or her own work or the other spouse's benefits, whichever is higher, but not both. See what I'm saying? Somebody who's worked all their life, the money they put into the system just goes away.... If you have a voluntary personal savings account and you die early, that's an asset you can leave to your spouse or to your children."

Posted by JohnGalt at 1:09 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

On one hand, I am not so certain that a "welfare" program will lose support -- people seem to find many such entitlements palatable.

On the other, I am ready to give away the store to get private accounts, as I believe that their popularity would drive further freedoms.

Posted by: jk at May 2, 2005 1:12 PM

April 27, 2005

Private Accounts

My mentor and hero, Larry Kudlow is concerned that Senator Chuck Grassley is discussing a Social Security reform plan that would restore solvency, “with, or without, private accounts.”

Respectfully, I would suggest to Mr. Grassley, and to the White House, that you cannot solve the pending financial storm in social security without personal savings accounts.

The reason? The private account option would finance benefits through stock and bond market returns. Without private accounts, benefits will be funded only by higher tax payments from the government.

Higher taxes will stall the economy and benefits will suffer accordingly. But the thrift savings account model of benefits throws off a 6.7% yearly inflation-adjusted return, far superior to the 1.8% post-inflation estimate of future social security.

The market is more reliable over the long run than the government. As more and more people choose market benefits from private accounts, fewer and fewer will demand government benefits. Over 50 years, government benefits will shrink from lack of demand. And so will the unfunded future liabilities of the system.

Call it the substitution effect. Not until the White House or Congress moves to private accounts will social security insolvency ever be solved.


As usual with economic issues, Mr. Kudlow is spot on. Politically it has been pointed out that freedom is more desirable than solvency. Private accounts are part and parcel of the ownership society and the President should not proceed without them.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:47 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Let's compare those two investments, shall we?

A twenty year-old invests $100 per month until he retires 45 years later. His total contributions are $100x12x45=$54,000. For purposes of comparision, figure his investment at half that, continuously invested over the entire period of 45 years. (Not quite the same, but it's just an example.)

In the Thrift Savings Plan at 6.7% per year, the principal will double in 72/6.7=10.7 years, or about 4 times in 45 years. In Social Security it doubles in 72/1.8=40 years or about, once.

Which would you rather retire on, $432,000 or $54,000?

Democrats and the AARP oppose reform on the grounds that "it's a guarantee that you've earned, don't let them turn it into a gamble." Fine. The plan is VOL-UHN-TARE-EEE. Don't like the "odds" then don't play. As for me, cash me in.

Posted by: johngalt at April 28, 2005 2:02 PM

April 25, 2005

Filiblustering

It would be funny if there weren't serious and responsible adults involved.

    ''He yelled that if I didn't obey him, he would fire me," [former Bolton employee and accuser Lynne Finney] wrote. ''I said I could not live with myself if even one baby died because of something I did. . . . He screamed that I was fired."

    Bolton has declined to comment on allegations during the confirmation process.

    The State Department would not comment last night. But Friday, spokesman Adam Ereli said once the allegations are explored, it will lead to the ''inescapable conclusion that Mr. Bolton would be an excellent ambassador."

    Finney, a therapist who has written about ''recovered memories" in childhood sex-abuse cases, said Bolton was not allowed to fire her, but he moved her to a basement office in retaliation. She said that the top USAID administrator at the time, Peter McPherson, came by after the clash to assure her that her career wasn't over.


That event happened in 1982 or 1983!

In related news, in 1974, Hillary Rodham Clinton allegedly called a campaign worker "a f*cking Jew b*astard."

Like the Bolton-Finney allegation, there are also a number of witnesses to that event. There was also an alleged First Lady lamp-throwing incident early in the Clinton White House.


House Majority Whip Senator Mitch McConnell (R - Kentucky) counted the votes, and thinks that they can end the filibuster, and miraculously Senator Joe Biden (D-Delaware) thinks the Senate can to make a deal.
    Biden, appearing on ABC's "This Week," said, "I think we should compromise and say to them that we're willing to -- of the seven judges -- we'll let a number of them go through, the two most extreme not go through and put off this vote" to end the filibuster.
Astute readers may recall that in November of 2003, Senator Kennedy (D - Tanqueray) called these nominees (when the President last submitted them)neanderthals.

Apparently, all but two have evolved into human beings, with only two remaining in their pre-historic non-evolved form.

Posted by AlexC at 3:00 PM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

I don't quite get the segue but this is two, two, two great blogs in one. And all for absolutely NO CHARGE! This is obviously the greatest blog in the world. Brilliant!

On the Bolton half of the post, I notice that when Hitlary's trasgression became a public allegation her response was very sensible, and entirely applicable in Bolton's case. "She went on to say, "I just find it really pathetic and very sad that this is the way that people are attempting to influence politics, and I don't think we should stand for it."

As for the fillibuster/judicial nominees issue, it will be a dark day for the Republic if the fillibuster provision is modified as is being discussed. That procedural measure is a major factor in preventing the bogeyman of democracy - tyranny of the majority. If it is a divisive enough issue to engage in fillibuster then let the Senate sit on their hands until fair (choking up my lunch) 'compromise' is reached. One change I will endorse is to go back to the original procedure for fillibuster, i.e. hold the floor continuously, 24/7 for as long as it takes. Then we can trust that they REALLY mean it. No more drive-thru fillibusters!

Posted by: johngalt at April 25, 2005 8:51 PM
But AlexC thinks:

Thanks.. yeah should have been two posts... i put the horizontal bar in... now it's a little more separate.

Posted by: AlexC at April 25, 2005 10:25 PM

April 23, 2005

Blogging For Bolton

Here's a blog dedicated to getting John Bolton confirmed as an ambassador to the United Nations.
ConfirmBolton.com

The Democrats strategy on blocking Bolton is an interesting one, only because it's stunningly weak.

Step one was to block him because he's got beef with the UN.
That's like saying our ambassadors to the Soviet Union should have been pro-Communist.

No. They should be pro-American interests.

Maybe chemotherapy is what the United Nations needs. From his rhetoric, John Bolton appears to be the guy to give it.

That strategy didn't seem to work. So on to plan B.

Step two is to block him because he's allegedly mean to his subordinates. Which is pretty weak. But currently it's all they got.

As brought up on Powerline thursday,

    "With all the huffing and puffing of Democrats over whether John Bolton threatened a civil servant's job, I have to ask...What exactly happened with Hillary Clinton and the White House travel office a few years ago? Does this disqualify Bill and/or Hillary from ever working @ the U.N.?"

And the answer...

    There is one obvious difference between what Hillary (with help from Bill) undoubtedly did, and what John Bolton allegedly did: Hillary actually got someone fired. Seven people, if my memory is correct.

    Well, I guess there is another difference, too. Bolton had reason to be upset with under-performing employees. Hillary just wanted to install her own cronies.

Put him in.

Maybe someone will then say, "Hey.. Libya shouldn't be on the human rights commission."
or "Where's all that oil for food money go?"

The question to ask now is, will step two work? Well, it's appears to sticking right now. Senator Voinovich came out of nowhere to hold things up. I guess we'll see.

It's funny that during the Condi Rice hearings, the argument from the Democrats was that the Secretary of State should question the President's policies. That a Secretary of State should not tow the line... Suddenly, here's a candidate for an office that will *question* the status-quo and question the direction of the United Nations, yet somehow this is not a good thing.

The Democrats are not a party of ideas and positive direction. The Democrats have become a party of "We're not George Bush, and we'll do the opposite."

It's a shame.

Posted by AlexC at 11:28 AM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

Alex, you don't understand. There are allegations that Mr. Bolton amy have thrown a file folder in 1994. Pretty serious stuff.

Posted by: jk at April 23, 2005 4:09 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Good blog Alex. I have to believe that JB will be confirmed in the end. The R's seem willing to let the D's have their show hearings, but the President has proven he can get his way in the senate when he really wants something (unless it's a circuit court judge). Cheney came out and reiterated WH support late last week. W isn't going to throw Bolton under the bus.

Cox and Forkum had a great cartoon showing what all the UN apologists are afraid of (although I think they missed the bet by not making Kofi the old lady: http://www.coxandforkum.com/archives/000568.html

Posted by: johngalt at April 23, 2005 5:53 PM

April 14, 2005

The Elephant in the Room

Being otherwise occupied (My wife is doing pretty well, thanks!) I did not subject myself to the Senate preening session known in some circles as John Bolton's confirmation hearing.

But I'll bet Larry Kudlow is not far off the mark with his critique of the Democrats. In their rush to slam a Bush appointee, they ignored the fact that, er , maybe the UN needs a tough ambassador?

What is utterly astonishing is the failure of the Democrats to even discuss the scandal-ridden Kofi Annan regime at the UN. Not just oil-for-food, which is bad enough, but also the sexual misconduct charges, the institutional corruption, and of course the ultimate issue which is the disproportionate power held by totalitarian states under current UN rules. The UN should be run by democracies, not terrorist dictatorships. What is more, so far I haven’t heard any Democrats acknowledge that it was John Bolton as a State Department official who succeeded in overturning the anti-Israel zionism is racism resolution that stood for so many years. Bolton did this. An incredible accomplishment. Where are the Democrats on this issue now as they attempt to derail Bolton’s bid?

Another great comment is to remember that our ambassador represents us to the UN, not the other way around.

Posted by John Kranz at 5:51 PM

March 22, 2005

Wrong Man for a Column

Peter Beinart says that John Bolton is the Wrong Man for This U.N. Writing in the WaPo today, he seems to imply that Senator Moynihan was the "first neo-con."

In 1975, when anti-Americanism was on the march, Gerald Ford chose a distinctly undiplomatic diplomat, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, to represent the United States at the United Nations. Unlike his predecessors, who had listened politely while America was defamed, Moynihan denounced the tin-pot dictatorships running wild at the United Nations. And a new movement called neoconservatism -- of which Moynihan was a leading voice -- made its entrance onto the international stage. Six years later, Ronald Reagan gave the U.N. job to another prominent neocon, Jeane Kirkpatrick, and she proved equally blunt.

It took me a moment to shake that unconventional labeling off. The rest of the piece doesn't improve too much. Beinart is a responsible thinker and a very good writer. But this one is a swing-and-a-miss.
Problem is, the history's misleading. Moynihan and Kirkpatrick were effective because their oppositional styles suited the time -- a time when there was little the United States could do at the United Nations other than oppose. Today the United States has an opportunity to lead. And by choosing Bolton, the Bush administration may be squandering it.

Sorry, Pete, we may have a rare chance to lead at the U.N., but it won't occur with another striped-pants get along guy from State. We have just as much to assert to the U.N. as Moynihan did in the 70s or Kirkpatrick in the 80s.

A much more cogent assessment can be found in Amity Shlaes column on TCS:

Multilateralists around the globe ought to be thrilled about these choices. These men are not going to endanger the future of the UN or the World Bank. Those futures are already in danger. Rather, the new candidates may turn out to be the institutions' salvation. For both men are strong enough to bring about change when change is necessary.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:21 PM

The CEO Presidency, Part Deux

"The CEO Presidency" was a popular moniker early in the first term. President Bush, it was said, was bringing his Harvard MBA skills to the Oval Office. His appointments were less political and his work hours were less frenetic than those of his predecessor.

I applauded and confirmed those observations back then, but I am now convinced that they apply better to the second term. For the second term, W has staffed important positions with those who share his vision and have the tenacity to pursue it.

Fred Barnes writes a guest editorial in the Wall Street Journal today (click away, it's on the free site) looking at the appointments of Wolfowitz, Bolton, and Hughes not as separate events, but as a coalescing of an administration devoted to Sharansky-esque ideals of freedom.

[...]But in jobs he views as critical, especially in foreign affairs, he prefers a known quantity, usually a tough, loyal administration veteran with an agenda. His agenda. Two other Bush nominees, John Bolton as ambassador to the U.N. and Karen Hughes as undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, are also in the agenda category.

Anyone shocked by the nominations of Messrs. Wolfowitz and Bolton doesn't understand the president's approach to multilateral organizations. The conventional idea is that these organizations are wonderful, though perhaps flawed and infused with too much anti-American sentiment. And the chief task of U.S. representatives is to get along amicably, not buck the system and cause problems. This idea is popular in the press, the State Department bureaucracy and diplomatic circles, and with foreign-policy "experts." But not with Mr. Bush.


This man is putting a team together to change the world. I even read (I'll keep looking for a link) that he is "talkin' less Texan now that he don't gotta face re-elecshun..." He is planning, CEO-style for a consequential second term. No wonder his detractors are worried...

Posted by John Kranz at 10:47 AM

March 17, 2005

Bad Bush Appointment

I go out of my to support this administration, even on some topics about which I am skeptical. But -- holy cow -- NO!

The media is busily distracted by the Wolfowitz World Bank appointment. Though I backed Carly Fiorina, I support that appointment. But nobody noticed the new FCC Chairman to replace Michael Powell was Powell's nemesis, Kevin Martin.

Martin was the FCC answer to Jim Jeffords, a soi-disant GOPer who opposed free market reform and created a de facto Democrat majority (Hey French and Latin in one sentence -- what a pedant!) and precluded real regulatory reform.

Like Senator Specter, the administration rewards its enemies with public support and a lemon poppy seed cake. I'm not sure about the cake, but the appointment is astonishing. The WSJ Ed Page is cautiously going to give him a chance:

The White House is counting on its next chairman to put his considerable political adeptness to use creating working majorities to continue down Mr. Powell's deregulatory path. This is especially important with regard to broadband deployment. We're not sure that the Bush Administration fully appreciates the extent to which high-speed communication networks drive competition, productivity and ultimately GDP. But Mr. Martin is well aware of broadband's potential, and we hope he has learned enough from the past four years to do the right thing.

Well, yeah, and Nancy Pelosi may find her inner-free-marketeer as well, but let's not make her Ways-and-Means Chairman.

This assures the world that the technologically gifted USA will be hard pressed to hang onto its thirteenth place showing in broadband adoption. I'm not sure a President Kerry could have done much worse.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:40 AM

March 7, 2005

Bolton Gets High Marks

When I saw the AP Headline "Bolton Named Ambassador," I of course hoped that President Bush was sending Michael Bolton to some backwater where he would be unable to record.

I didn't know anything about John Bolton before today. But Larry Kudlow likes him

Congratulations to John Bolton for his appointment to be US Ambassador to the UN. Bolton is a tough player who strongly believes in President Bush’s new foreign policy of freedom and democratization worldwide. He has a distinguished track record on security and proliferation matters who helped lead the American withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. He has never been bashful about blasting North Korea. He also criticized China for selling missile technology to Iran and other rogue states. This is an excellent appointment.

Better still, it seems that Kofi Annan doesn't. Now that's a good appointment.


Posted by John Kranz at 5:30 PM | Comments (1)
But Attila thinks:

I thought it was Officer Joe Bolton, the guy who hosted the Three Stooges afternoon show on a local channel in New York in the 1960s.

John Bolton is a very tough guy. I'm not sure I'd want to work for him, but I sure want him working for me.

Posted by: Attila at March 7, 2005 8:19 PM

February 25, 2005

Bush's Europe Trip

Larry Kudlow posts a complimentary report of the President's European trip and speech in Brussels.

He compliments the Sharanskyesque focus on Democracy, the nod to the Slovakian flat tax -- all worthy of high marks.

He then closes with W's view on climate change, praising his Schumpeterian approach over the European regulatory method.

Then Bush shows his hand on global climate change. But it is not the Kyoto version, which would punish economic growth and drive up unemployment. Instead, the President relies on “Emerging technologies, such as hydrogen-powered vehicles, electricity from renewable energy sources, clean coal technology, will encourage economic growth that is environmentally responsible.”

Now here comes a clear reference to the eminent economist Joseph Schumpeter, who created a model of economic growth that puts the entrepreneur at the center in search of technological advances and applications that launch new long cycles of economic growth. Bush says, “All of us can use the power of human ingenuity to improve the environment for generations to come.”

He then adds, “By researching, by developing, by promoting new technologies across the world, all nations, including the developing countries, can advance economically while slowing the growth in global greenhouse gases and avoid pollutants that undermine public health.” Implicit here is the Schumpeterian concept of invention and innovation through technology to foster growth and better serve humankind. The power of human ingenuity is itself a powerful idea. It takes a free market economy with appropriate tax incentives and open trade to set the framework necessary for non-polluting prosperity. Bush also implicitly suggests the use of nuclear power.

The President ends with the grand vision thoughts of the “principles of democracy, individual liberty, and the rule of law.” This was a good speech, full of big thoughts. It is characteristic of this president. Cynical intellectuals and media pundits scoff at Bush. But once again the Texan reveals himself to be a man of ideas. Very good ideas, at that.

Posted by John Kranz at 7:10 PM

February 23, 2005

The Social Security Debate

Senator Santorum was in Philadelphia today talking about Social Security at my alma-mater(*).
YoungPhillyPolitics has a local liberal reaction.

    The Social Security battle has never been about "fixing it," always about starting a process to kill it. And, it looks like Drexel Republicans have come right out and said it.

    From Daily Kos:

      In a surprising display of candor, Drexel College Republicans admitted to knowing the real plan for Bush's Social Security : ending it.

      Today, I picketed at one of Rick Santorum's Privatization town hall meetings at Drexel University in Philadelphia. Anti-privatization forces and Drexel Dems out-numbered Pro-privatization forces and College Repubs. 6 to 1. There were about 40 of us total -- but CNN, the Washington Post, ABC were all covering our anti-privatization protest.

      CNN started filming, so we started to chant "Hey-Hey Ho-Ho, Rick Santorum has got to go!" In response, the Drexel Republicans retorted with their own chant: "Hey, hey. Ho, ho. Social Security has got to go!" Our jaws just about jawed as CNN continued to film. We stopped our chant, and let the Repubs take over -- they were doing our job for us!

      Who has been feeding Drexel Repubs the lead paint???


    Well, at least they are honest. Ha.

Of course it's about ending Social Security. As we know it. You really can't chant that, I suppose.

Ulitimately, it's quite simple. With George Bush's ownership society idea, we'll start putting more of our own money into more of our accounts. Sure, now it's 1/3 (or 2/3 depending on your point of view), but sooner or later as the personalization catches on, it'll ratchet up to 4/5, 9/10s, maybe even 100%. At that point, Social Security would become a government mandated personal retirement account.

Despite my conservative neoliberalism (government is not always the best answer), it has to be government mandated because there's always going to be a knucklehead NOT saving for the future and we'll end up footing his bill anyway. Tragedy of the Commons in a way.

I'm a bit of a pessimist, so we should really account for future governments screwing it up, but that's the direction we're heading in right now; and it's a good thing.

Now, if your view of Social Security is a massive government run safety net for all individuals to contribute, and only some to collect from, then yes, Social Security is going to end. But fear not, fellow compassionate American, we're always going to support the handicapped or the infirm, or the tragically wronged with government funds. That's not going away. The ponzi scheme called Social Security is.

One question I'm left with is more of a meta-question.
When did the Democrats become the "let's do the opposite of what George Bush does" party? There was a Social Security crisis in the last decade, the President recognized it then. Did it miraculously fix itself? Was he lying then?

Posted by AlexC at 12:00 AM | Comments (1)
But Silence Dogood thinks:

Thank you, yes I do believe that is the plan for SS and I am for the ending of SS as we know it. My trouble is and always will be how we manage the changeover. Kudos to Pres. Bush for having the guts to put forth a plan, but I can't stand up and cheer until he has the guts to really define the plan. I am a bit of a pessimist too and my rule of thumb is that when a politician describes a new plan and only talks about the good part (that wonderful ownership of compounding interest) you better grab your wallet. Someone needs to define for me how we phase the current SS out. I am almost halfway through my working years, but hey, I can look up past performance of one of the proposed funds and calculate my investment plus interest, and if the Treasury Dept. deposits those funds in my account I am good to go. But since that ain't gonna happen I want to know what kind of credit I am going to get for what I have already paid into SS. That's the not so simple part. There is a big 'ol devil in them thar details. I keep harping on this because there is a law of unintended consequences, like that pointed out about wage restrictions during WWII and the birth of employer paid health benefits. Some of these consequences cannot be foreseen, but some can - campaign finance reform anyone? There needs to be some due diligence here which means talking about how we really transition from our current SS to the new government mandated personal retirement accounts. President Bush makes it sound like he is a gutsy get it done leader, but peek behind the curtain a little and you see a traditional politician promising you a free lunch.

This is where my Dems ought to be. Sadly Alex C. is right, they have become the "against" party.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at February 23, 2005 10:13 AM

February 22, 2005

Social Security

I have a new favorite magazine. A few years ago, it was "National Review." Then "The Weekly Standard" overtook it. Now, I gotta say I get pretty excited when a new "The American Enterprise" rolls in.

It only publishes eight times a year, so it lacks the news quality of the other two. Yet TAE takes one topic on per issue and brings a dozen great thinkers and writers together to really flesh it out. Then the "Bird's Eye" column contextualizes all of them.

The March 2005 issue, From Alms to Ownership, is a perfect example. Social Security reform is examined from a market perspective by James Glassman, historical perspective by Stephen Moore et al, and a philosophical perspective by William Tucker.

The "Bird's eye" overview is interesting as it describes the America of 1935, giving us perspective on when the plan was engineered. "What a year," it starts out:

The world's first full-color feature film has just been released. Now there are whispers of special-effects-laden Hollywood blockbusters to come over the next several years. Two projects thought to be gestating: an adaptation of a much-anticipated new book called Gone With the Wind, and some kind of musical based on the Wizard of Oz children's stories. More films are also expected from the sensationally popular new comedy team that debuted last year: The Three Stooges.

Meanwhile, the red-hot new entertainment medium of radio continues to boost its audience. Fully two thirds of all Americans now have a radio in their own home. That's almost as many as have electrical service (68 percent). Peeking over the horizon, futurists claim that within just a few years, companies may start broadcasting radio-like signals that can be picked up by boxes known as "televisions"--which not only reproduce sounds but also small pictures! It remains to be seen if there will be any consumer demand for such a novelty.

One gadget that has definitely proven its popularity is the telephone. The proportion of American homes equipped with a telephone stood at 32 percent this year--and saturation is even higher in offices. The absolute cutting edge in communication breakthroughs, though, arrived this summer--in the form of an electrified typewriter invented by International Business Machines.

Even if you can't put down the fabulous sums for an electrified typewriter, relief for achy writing hands and messy fountain pens may be on the horizon. Within ten years, experts believe, it may be possible for ordinary citizens to buy something called a "ballpoint pen" which can be used for months without refilling! Initially, though, you can expect to pay at least half a week's pay for one of these amazing conveniences.


And while America is wiring itself for majority telephone ownership, it is deeply into economic depression and as yet-undiscredited Stalinism holds sway as the wave of the future.
So: Do you want to base your security in old age on a program engineered at the same time as the Model A and the vacuum-tube radio? Has work changed much since the era when slopping pigs for Auntie Em was a typical job? Does the boundary between state and individual look different now that the USSR has gone from progressive polestar to oppressive flop? Has American finance advanced from the decades when the only choices for ordinary savers were the passbook, the mason jar, or the mattress? Are the retirement goals of Americans still the same as in the days when the Bambino retired? Or is it time for Social Security to enjoy a major-league update?

The answer, I think, is obvious. Nothing but a government welfare program could ever last this long in unimproved form. Our transportation networks, our medical services, our economy are all light-years better than they were in 1935. So why are we still stuck with a gramophone/Hupmobile/fountain pen system of public pensions?
[...]
The most important aspect of ownership is not that it makes you rich, but that it makes you free. Ownership gives you independence, choices, a measure of control over your own life. Possessing property can liberate you from capricious bosses and suffocating government alike. Opponents of the Ownership Society completely fail to understand that...


This is the big domestic political issue for this next Congress and this Presidential term. You can read a sampling of these articles online but I would encourage anybody to purchase and read this issue cover-to-cover. You will not see a better exegesis on the conservative position on Social Security reform anywhere.

Threesources regulars: holler and I'll buy it for you or take you out to lunch when you're finished so we can discuss it.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:55 PM | Comments (7)
But jk thinks:

Fuzzy math! I see the principal alone at $233,316. (4% of the first 90K, my salary numbers match yours). Joe is a millionaire with less than 10% return, on one sixth of his Social Security -- and the rest of the benefits are still there for his less fortunate friends.

Before lunch, see what happens if you let Joe invest ALL of his Social Security.

My inheritance is not based on leftovers from a 30 year retirement. Just something for Joe's family if some non-union Wal*Mart forklift driver runs him down.

My spreadsheet is http://threesources.com/ss_payments.xls

Posted by: jk at February 22, 2005 6:55 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

You will have to excuse me if I misunderestimated President Bush, but what I heard was that we would only take a small portion of SS - 4 percentage points to put into private accounts. After running these numbers I would have to assume that he meant that 4% of your salary would go into a private account. That would net Joe almost $2.3M at retirement. This is a great option I just don't see how we do the changeover - how to pay SS until some sunset date with 1/3 less money coming in (2004 SS tax is 12.4% including employer contribution). Not sure where your 1/6 number comes from. The real result I like is that this money is not available for the general budget like SS funds. The bad part comes when you figure how much it will cost Uncle Sam to cover the SS payments without 1/3 of the revenue and what that will do to Joe's net return. This says nothing of course about how Uncle Sam pays for defense and all the other budget items without the SS funds in the pot.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at February 22, 2005 7:40 PM
But jk thinks:

If one is onboard for personal accounts and just worried about transition costs, there are three ways I see to make the switch:

1) Borrow it. I know, I know, the deficit, Reubenomics, bla, bla... But if my house roof is going to fall in in a few years, I can refinance and hope that the value of the house and my income grows to cover it. Likewise, we can finance some payments (easier now before it gets worse). The new investment capital could light up the economy and we would pay off the d e b t as we always have -- through economic growth.

I know I am a broken record on this but, again, we are moving unfunded liabilities (promises on which we won't renege) to securitized d e b t. Only the paper d e b t is increasing.

2) If supply-side is not your thing, let's help it out with some reasonable adjustments to benefits: indexing to prices instead of wages and a transition to a later retirement age. 55-65 no change, 45-55 plus two years, 35-44 plus three years, everybody else plus four years. I would also point out that not everyone is going to immediately reduce his/her payments by 1/3. Older workers will not participate, and some younger workers might elect not to or choose a smaller amount.

3) In compromise for that, I'll risk Larry Kudlow's wrath and permit a rise in the cap from $90K to $115. A small increase for the six figure crowd should be a good trade for personal accounts.

Of course, I wouldn't advocate #3 -- I offer that as a spirit of compromise. But with those reasonable measures I have raised revenue and reduced payments. With this lowered pressure we could certainly finance the rest.

Posted by: jk at February 23, 2005 11:22 AM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

OK now, who's math is fuzzy? From www.whitehouse.gov :

Personal retirement accounts would start gradually. Yearly contribution limits would be raised over time, eventually permitting all workers to set aside 4 percentage points of their payroll taxes in their accounts.


A young person who earns an average of $35,000 a year over his or her career would have nearly a quarter million dollars saved in his or her own account upon retirement.

First there is a huge difference between 4% of your income and 4% of your payroll tax, i.e. your SS withholding. Specifically, 4% of 6.2% is just under .25% or one quarter of one percent and that is the value I used for my original calculation. I came up a bit short of the quarter million the white house envisions, but where the heck did their number come from? An average of $35,000 over their career? Adjusted for inflation? $35K per year in 2050 is going to be living on the street eating dog food from the can.

Can someone clarify for me 4% of what is going into my personal retirement account?

Posted by: Silence Dogood at February 23, 2005 11:38 AM
But jk thinks:

I see the ambiguity. And there is, of course, no specific legislation to base calculations on. But if it's 4% of payroll taxes (phased in at that!) then it is not worth the effort. I have to think we are discussing 4% of payroll, coming out of payroll taxes.

President Bush doesn't like "smallball" and I don't see anyone grabbing the infamous third rail for less than a quarter of one percent.

The $35K example is not going to be retiring in a five star hotel in the Bahamas. But that is a quarter of a million that he owns and controls, instead of a gub'mint check that he has to worry about. Seems pretty good for a guy who did not light up the world with career success.

Posted by: jk at February 23, 2005 1:03 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

I am afraid I don't get your accounting explanation about trading debt but not increasing it. If all these were long term debts then I think I would agree, but SS is based on cash flow. You have to mail out monthly checks with real dollars, dollars that we currently pay in. If we stop paying in part of that cash then the government will have to borrow to make up the difference.

Now back to "Average Joe" recalculated this time that he puts away 4% of his income annually with no cap at 90K (it's his money, no need for a cap). Now let's assume some more small details in the current Bush plan. (to the extent that those details exist) The official number I keep hearing for these low fee but conservatively managed accounts is 4.6% average annual return. Now the government can issue debt at a projected 3% rate to cover current SS obligations. If Joe elects to have a private account then when he retires he will be responsible for his portion of those SS obligations meaning that his net rate of return is 1.6%. He now retires at 67 with over $308K net in his fund which at first blush seems not bad as you say for someone who did not light up the world with career success. Except that to reach that figure he would have to get his 5% annual raise which is really not bad and thus would retire with a $312K annual salary. So his $308K really isn't going to go very far. The question then becomes what will the actual SS benefits be at that time and can he combine that with his nest egg to provide a livable retirement benefit.

An interesting historical note about your referenced article that was sort of glossed over with a reference to average lifespan is that in 1935 a lower income worker had no real expectation of any retirement. This concept that we all get to stop working and spend the last 15 years or so of our life without a job is a fairly recent one. Working your whole life was a reality for lower income workers and is becoming so again with the escalating cost of health care. This is a harsh reality that society may have to accept.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at February 23, 2005 3:10 PM

February 20, 2005

Mark Steyn

Mark Steyn's webpage is back up (Hat-tip: Samizdata), and his Chicago Sun-Times column is not to be missed (except that it's dated Feb 5, so I have obviously missed it).

Will Europe warm up to Bush climate change?

So much for the axis of ennui. Three years on, one-third of the evildoers is in jail, his people have been liberated, and their country has just held the most free and fair election in modern Middle Eastern history. That last wasn't supposed to happen, either. "They can't have an election right now," declared John Kerry, Senator Nuance himself, in the presidential debates. "I personally do not believe they're going to be ready for the election in January," said Jimmy Carter, winner of the Nobel Prize for Peanuts. "There's no security there."
[...]
In his third major speech of the week, Reid said . . . well, at the time of writing, he hasn't given a third major speech, but I do hope he does. For every year this guy's on TV as the official face of the party, you can kiss three Democratic Senate seats goodbye. Right now, the Dems are all exit and no strategy.
[...]
Unlike Eurocomplacency or Democratic reactionary torpor, Bush's boldness has the measure of the times. In this climate, you have to push your own changes.


Don't ice it, Mark, tell us how you feel!

Posted by John Kranz at 2:18 PM

February 18, 2005

A Win! (I Think)

We're all jawing about Social Security and permanent tax cuts, but we should take a moment to celebrate a win.

Bush Signs Bill Curbing Class-Action Suits

WASHINGTON - President Bush on Friday signed a bill that he says will curtail multimillion-dollar class action lawsuits against companies and "marks a critical step toward ending the lawsuit culture in our country."


This was an important part of the second term agenda and those of us rooting for the President should be glad for the win.

My sole concern is how happy I am about an anti-Federalist measure. Class action suits are national in scope and clearly belong in Federal court. I am not keen on the good folks of Beaverditch, Mississippi shutting down a major pharmaceutical firm.

And yet, celebrating the motion of authority from state to federal seems importune.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:12 PM | Comments (3)
But johngalt thinks:

How do we file a class-action lawsuit against judgement-friendly state judges who have cost all Americans billions of dollars in inflated liability costs? I wouldn't even care if we didn't collect our damages due, so long as we put those judges out of business.

The problem with this band-aid measure is that, eventually, such judges will be found in the federal courts as well.

Posted by: johngalt at February 18, 2005 3:45 PM
But jk thinks:

Two advantages:

1) You can't "shop" for sympathetic judges in the Federal court system. The Trial Bar knew what counties tended to have sympathetic judges and juries.

2) You're hoping that the jury pool improves. Again, the jurisdiction shoppers knew how to find extremely poor counties with easier played jurors.

Posted by: jk at February 18, 2005 4:20 PM
But johngalt thinks:

The Trial Bar also knows which Federal Judicial District has sympathetic judges and juries - the Ninth Circuit.

Don't misunderestimate me, I'm all for this change. I just think it's a stopgap measure, analogous to Reagan's '83 Social Security "Reform."

Posted by: johngalt at February 21, 2005 2:39 PM

February 15, 2005

"Allies"

I don't do it often, but if I ever blog an NRO piece I feel like I'm trespassing on JK's turf. Forgive me, JK.

William F. Buckley, in atypical brevity, lays out the interests of the Six Parties of Asia-Pacific nuclear detente. In a nutshell, America has much to lose from a North Korean nuclear first strike, but our friends in South Korea and Japan, and our "friends" in China and Russia have much more at stake. You see, while the American heartland is some 10,000 miles from the potentially charred and radiating remains of North Korea's industrial and population centers, the other four parties are not.

This is encouraging for America's safety, and does much to explain why W can afford to direct his attention toward Iran and Syria while Baby Kim dithers and babbles. But there's another tactic Mr. Bush may be applying, most likely in private, with the Chinese. If not then Jonah Goldberg suggests in today's Corner he give it some thought. Borrowing from a 2003 Charles Krauthammer column:

What to do when your hand is so poor? Play the trump. We do have one, but we dare not speak its name: a nuclear Japan. Japan cannot long tolerate a nuclear-armed North Korea. Having once lobbed a missile over Japan, North Korea could easily hit any city in Japan with a nuclear-tipped weapon. Japan does not want to live under that threat.

We should go to the Chinese and tell them plainly that if they do not join us in squeezing North Korea and thus stopping its march to go nuclear, we will endorse any Japanese attempt to create a nuclear deterrent of its own. Even better, we would sympathetically regard any request by Japan to acquire American nuclear missiles as an immediate and interim deterrent. If our nightmare is a nuclear North Korea, China's is a nuclear Japan. It's time to share the nightmares.

The War on Terror is a global campaign and it's time the Chinese started pulling their weight.


Posted by JohnGalt at 3:03 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

No, no, well done!

I really think that NorthK has "Misunderestimated" President Bush and played right into a trap.

Dr. Krauthammer and WFB are right on here. Without China's support, NK would disintegrate even more rapidly. We have brought pressure to bear and it does not have an American face.

Next stop: Syria, kids. We've just pulled our ambassador.

Posted by: jk at February 15, 2005 4:45 PM

February 7, 2005

Kudlow on Condi

It's great when your heroes support each other. Larry Kudlow writes a fantastic and well deserved paean to out new Secretary of State. I have to reproduce it in full:

Sec. of State Condi Rice is fast becoming my new hero. News reports of her earliest public diplomacy during her trip to London, Europe, Turkey and Israel show clearly that she is following Pres. Bush's vision of freedom, democraticization and liberty in her conduct of US foreign policy. She chided Russian backsliding. Also cited Ukraine, Afghanistan, Georgia and Iraq as places that were building the institutions of democracy. She also said America and Europe should work together in "the great cause of the spread of freedom and liberty."

Colin Power conducted very little in the way of public diplomacy, didn't travel much and seldom if ever spoke the language of freedom and democracy. Believe it or not, now the nation's chief diplomat appears to be in full support of Presidential policy. Norman Podhoretz was completely right: Bush will not relent, Rumsfeld was asked to stay while Powell was not, and Bush's close aide Rice intends to apply the principles of freedom and democracy as a new standard to guide the conduct of international relations. Bravo Ms. Rice! And let me state again how wrong Peggy Noonan was in her criticism of Bush's inaugural speech.


We talked about Ms. Noonan before. Sugarchuck and I are convinced that she is indeed smoking crack...

Posted by John Kranz at 2:08 PM

February 3, 2005

Political Capital

In all, the President's State of the Union Address was a stunning model of a better future for America and the world. For nearly an hour on Wednesday night, George Bush outlined his vision of reforms in taxation, regulation, health care, torts, Social Security, immigration, government spending (finally!) and more.

While I strongly support and endorse meaningful reforms in all these areas, the most striking words I heard were the ones that challenged our "allies" in the middle east to increase liberty in their own societies.

"To promote peace and stability in the broader Middle East, the United States will work with our friends in the region to fight the common threat of terror, while we encourage a higher standard of freedom. Hopeful reform is already taking hold in an arc from Morocco to Jordan to Bahrain. The government of Saudi Arabia can demonstrate its leadership in the region by expanding the role of its people in determining their future. And the great and proud nation of Egypt, which showed the way toward peace in the Middle East, can now show the way toward democracy in the Middle East."

And his warning to hostile regimes in the region:

"To promote peace in the broader Middle East, we must confront regimes that continue to harbor terrorists and pursue weapons of mass murder. Syria still allows its territory, and parts of Lebanon, to be used by terrorists who seek to destroy every chance of peace in the region. You have passed, and we are applying, the Syrian Accountability Act -- and we expect the Syrian government to end all support for terror and open the door to freedom.

Today, Iran remains the world's primary state sponsor of terror -- pursuing nuclear weapons while depriving its people of the freedom they seek and deserve. We are working with European allies to make clear to the Iranian regime that it must give up its uranium enrichment program and any plutonium re-processing, and end its support for terror. And to the Iranian people, I say tonight: As you stand for your own liberty, America stands with you."

Like the man said, "Talk is cheap" but this is the kind of talk that I once feared I'd never hear from an American president in my lifetime. It appears the successes in Iraq have given him the confidence to press on with his ambitious agenda. An agenda that, if successful, is destined to make him one of the greatest presidents in history.

Posted by JohnGalt at 12:57 AM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

Glad you beat me to this post! I have company "suits" visiting from Europe this week and it is all meetings all the time.

I PVRed (TiVoed) the speech and agree wholeheartedly. The foreign policy part was stunning -- an excellent continuation of the Inaugural. The Social Security bits were also superb.

I could've lived without the nod to a marriage amendment and there were a few spending items that were wince-making. But this is a President who doesn't want to play "smallball" and I think he will pursue the important policies.

And yes, very likely one of the great Presidents.

Posted by: jk at February 3, 2005 10:51 AM
But jk thinks:

Glenn has a great roundup on Instapundit today. I liked this line of his:

"He's spelling out the Bush Doctrine more clearly than he's done before."

Sugarchuck and I are waiting to see what Peggy Noonan thinks. We're both big fans but he "thinks she's been smokin' dope." Amen.

Posted by: jk at February 3, 2005 11:20 AM

January 31, 2005

The Inaugural Speech IV

I've always been a big Peggy Noonan fan. Her (old now) book, "What I Saw at the Revolution" is the book I would give a serious minded liberal.

Larry Kudlow agrees, but he has taken her to task for her criticism of the second inaugural address.

Noonan, David Frum, and others make the argument that the Bush speechwriting team should have thrown itself in front of the oncoming train of the inaugural address. This was a familiar refrain during the 1980s, when many of Reagan’s advisors tried to stop him from calling the Soviets an evil empire, or telling the Russians to tear down that wall. Yet Natan Sharansky, in his new book The Case for Democracy, relates that it was exactly these visionary Reagan declarations that gave the Gulag-imprisoned refuseniks great hope -- indeed all the oppressed peoples of the former Soviet empire great hope -- that freedom-loving help was on the way.

“Let Reagan be Reagan,” was the cry of that great president’s loyal supporters. How is it that Peggy Noonan is now deciding, “Don’t let Bush be Bush”?

Posted by John Kranz at 5:32 PM

January 26, 2005

Secretary Rice

I like this headline:

January 24, 2005
Dem. Strategists Slate 88 Year-Old Kleagle to Harangue Well-Loved Black Lady From Birmingham

MSM is obviously going to give Senator "Crazy old Aunt in The Attic" Byrd a pass on this. To be fair, they were going to give Senator "Insert favorite Lott jibe here" Lott a pass as well. But the blogosphere, led by Andrew Sullivan, would not let the story die.

I wouldn't mind breathing a little life into this story either. President Bush nominates the first female African-American Secretary of State. And his nominee is a brilliant person and passionate spokesperson for liberty.

If Senator Boxer wants to attack her, that's fair. Senator Kerry, go ahead. That will play to their constituents. But who's runnin' the D's PR? Byrd? Kennedy? (Taranto says when Senator Kennedy means to "sink a woman" the threat should be carefully considered...)

It's a shame that her nomination was not advised-and-consented in time for either the US or Ukraine Inaugurations, but -- like the Zarqawi tape -- I am glad to see somebody show their true colors.

So, I will show mine: Rice in 2008!

UPDATE: I was premature but accurate: Confirmed: 85 to 13

Posted by John Kranz at 12:06 PM

January 25, 2005

The Inaugural Speech III

"Iranian's Cheer Massively Mr. Bush's Inaugural Address" reads the headline at SMCCDI. In other words, the audience for this speech was the Iranian democracy movement -- and they got it!

Reports from across Iran are stating about the massive welcoming of President George W. Bush's inaugural speech and his promise of helping to bring down the last outposts of tyranny.

Millions of Iranians have been reported as having stayed home, on Thursday night which is their usual W.end and outgoing night, in order to see or hear the Presidential speech and the comments made by the Los Angeles based Iranian satellite TV and radio networks, such as, NITV or KRSI.

The speech and its package of hope have been, since late yesterday night and this morning, the main topics of most Iranians' conversations during their familial and friendly gatherings, in the collective taxis and buses, as well as, among groups of young Iranians who gather outside the cities on the Fridays.

Many were seen showing the " V " sign or their raised fists. Talks were focused on steps that need to be taken in order to use the first time ever favorable International condition.


I have my last Orange shirt on today for the Ukrainian inauguration, but as a commenter on Pejmanesque says:
It is already being planned.

There is a massive hajj taken to Najaf by perhaps 1 million Shiite Iranians every year. Next year, or perhaps the year after, a million extra Shiites are going to come back with them and together the free Iraqis and enslaved Iranians will stage a massive sit-in. It will be a no-win situation for the mullahs: crush the dissidents, and the US will step in with broad international support and overthrow them; do nothing, and the dissidents will take over.

It will be the Orange Revolution all over again.

Iranians have the internet. They saw what happened in Ukraine when the people stood up for democracy. They heard Bush's speech. They want freedom.


Let Freedom Reign!

Posted by John Kranz at 2:58 PM

January 24, 2005

The Inaugural Speech II

I finished Sharansky's book on Saturday and I considered myself fortunate to be in the middle of it during President Bush's second inaugural address. It is clearly a source. LyingInPonds notes the similarity:

I finally had the chance to view President Bush's Second Inaugural Address, this evening, and I was struck by how familiar it was.

This familiarity was a good thing. The speech (at least, the foreign policy aspect) was clearly based on a book that I recently read, and one that I know President Bush read in the last few months: Natan Sharansky's The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny & Terror.


Jim Geraghty says "I think that speech is going to do wonders for Natan Sharansky's book sales." But he also points out something:
Still, this speech is being intensely analyzed and discussed far beyond the Beltway - in Pyongyang, Riyadh, Tehran, and in other unfriendly foreign capitals. While some conservatives might have a quibble or a question or two, this speech will be despised by all the right people.

Amen. I'm very sorry that Frum, Noonan, and a lot of speechwriters that I trust did not like it. I enjoyed reading it better than hearing it (My President is not the best orator...) but I thought that it was important, that democrats in Tehran would be passing it around their jail cells. That it would make the right enemies.

I heard on FoxNewsSunday that it may have made the right friends. Bill Kristol told that Sharansky himself had watched the speech, that the tough man's voice broke a little as he said "I only wish Sakharov were alive to hear an American President give this speech."

Posted by John Kranz at 1:11 PM

January 21, 2005

Losing a Great One at FCC

The Wall Street Journal Ed Page breaks some bad news today:

Michael Powell, one of Washington's better bureaucrats, is calling it quits today after four years at the helm of the Federal Communications Commission. You read it here first.
[...]
Mr. Powell's deregulatory instincts led him to make broadband development and deployment a priority. By declaring cable modem an "information service" in 2002, the FCC was able to block efforts to apply the entire telephone regulation boondoggle to new broadband technologies. Last November, the FCC accomplished a similar goal with respect to VOIP, which enables consumers to make phone calls over the Internet.

Powell is a true free market force in Government. I wrote an essay on his contributions to the public sector. I wish him good luck on new challenges but he will be sorely missed at the FCC.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:44 AM

January 20, 2005

The Inaugural Speech

Hugh Hewitt pulls out a great quote from today's speech:

"From the perspective of a single day, including this day of dedication, the issues and questions before our country are many. From the viewpoint of centuries, the questions that come to us are narrowed and few. Did our generation advance the cause of freedom? And did our character bring credit to that cause?"

I was excited to launch this blog on the day of President Bush's second inauguration. The name of this blog and the heart of the speech are both Sharansky's book.

Did our character give credit to the cause? The transformative effects of freedom and democracy is at the heart of this blog and the second Bush term.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:53 PM

Condi!

Larry Kudlow points out that the reports of Dr. Rice's diplomacy that focus on fence-mending with Old Europe are only half right.

As more of the story emerges, it appears that Condi Rice's "public diplomacy" involves more than just fence-mending with France and Germany -- she is very serious about advancing Bush's vision of the transformative power of democracy as the best solution to our problems in Iraq and elsewhere. She, too, is a believer in Natan Sharansky's "town square" test.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:43 PM