December 31, 2003

The Big Picture (Part II)

A couple of weeks ago, prompted by the capture of Saddam, we discussed on these pages the gains realized from the investment of blood and treasure for Iraqi liberation. This morning's WSJ lead editorial also makes an assessment of the situation. They appear to agree that the full measure of success does not reside in Iraqi nation-building:

"Much still depends on the kind of Iraqi government that emerges in 2004 and beyond, but the mere possibility that a democratic Arab and Islamic state might exist is already reshaping the region." [emphasis mine]

There are many tangible benefits that have already been realized, in the Journal's view:

"For the vast majority of Iraqis, their lives and prospects are infinitely better. A dictator of 30 years has been toppled, in remarkably rapid fashion, and now captured to stand trial. [...] Schools, commerce, religion--a normal civic life--are reviving in that once vital country."

"What about the Middle East, and beyond? The instability that was also widely feared has not appeared, and if anything the opposite is true. No one has been more impressed by the U.S. invasion than the Saudis, who are finally cooperating seriously against al Qaeda. Colonel Gadhafi got the message that playing with WMD is a bad career choice, while Iran is at least meeting with the U.N. again in order to dodge sanctions, or worse, and to preserve its nuclear program."

"Another global benefit of the war is the end of illusions about the United Nations and a certain kind of "multilateralism." [...] The lesson of Iraq, as before in Kosovo, is that only the U.S. has the political will and military means to defeat global threats."

"The most important Iraq result, however, has been the demonstration of U.S. public support. Even amid the worst of the casualty reports in November, some 60% of Americans said the war was worth fighting. This support is all the more remarkable because it has held despite the loud and relentless opposition of most of the country's liberal elite."

The only thing more remarkable is that DemocRAT candidates think opposing these achievements in any way is a winning strategy.

Posted by JohnGalt at 04:03 PM | What do you think? [1]

SPAM: Problem Solved!

My "weekly" column has been off for six months. It's called a hiatus in the publishing biz...

But I'm back with a suggested pay-to-play email system that provides a "Free Market Solution to SPAM."

People complain about Junk Mail as well. Or they used to before there was SPAM -- who complains about junk mail anymore? Junk mail is swell. It's not pornographic (maybe I have the wrong ZIP code), it's annoying but generally manageable, and it does not threaten to shut down the benefits of Postal delivery. Junk mail can be kept to an acceptable level by market forces. The Post Office can raise of lower rates to control the amount. I think that can be added to email.

Posted by jk at 11:00 AM | What do you think? [4]

December 30, 2003

Campaign Finance

I remain stunned that the Supreme Court failed to eviscerate "McCain-Feingold." It's hard to imagine legislation that is more antithetical to American values or legislation whose side-effects so far overshadow its benefits.

In The Soros Agenda (paid site only) the Wall Street Journal Ed page illustrates how well we've "chased the money out of politics:"

The press corps is finally giving billionaire George Soros the attention he deserves as the new Daddy Warbucks of the Democratic Party. Mr. Soros has responded that all he's doing is exercising his own Constitutional right to free speech. We'd agree, except for the detail that the world's 38th richest man (according to Forbes) is using his money to restrict everyone else's freedom.

In his political funding, Mr. Soros is exploiting the loophole in campaign finance laws that lets billionaires donate however much they want to private political lobbies. But more than that, he also turns out to be a leading cash cow for the Washington lobbies trying to restrict media competition and political speech. Mr. Soros is the personification of what deserves to be called the "public interest" conceit.

This is the idea that folks like Mr. Soros are merely selfless benefactors of truth and justice, but companies trying to protect their rights in Washington are greedy special interests. The hedge-fund operator made his money practicing capitalism but now he spends it trying to give himself and his ideological allies an advantage over other voices.

Then, in the Political Diary, Holman Jenkins puts a little perspective on campaign cash:
Before rending any favorite garments over this expenditure, though, let's recall that we spend less on electing our leaders than GM spends in a year advertising cars or P&G does selling hair products and toothpaste. For that matter, the reputable Thai Farmer's Bank, one of country's biggest, estimated that Thailand spent a total of $800 million just to run a 45-day parliamentary election in 1996. Our democracy is a bargain in comparison.

Amen. We spend $6 Billion every year on potato chips, and $6.8 Billion on department store cosmetics. To spend $1 billion every other year to see if this nation will be governed under the policies of Gov. Howard Dean or President George Bush doesn't seem out of line.
I will personally be donating all I can to those who would appoint judges capable of understanding the sentence: "Congress shall make no law [...] abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press[...]"

Posted by jk at 01:17 PM | What do you think? [0]

The Power Of Words

Much as I like Andrew Sullivan, we disagree on John Derbyshire. I disagree with Derb's views on homosexuality but do not believe that his comments were beyond the pale.

I like Derb's writing. We both like Math and Hank Williams. I wish I had his knowledge of poetry.

In his December Diary he riffs off the lyrics to Hank's "The Angel of Death" to sum up our superstitions:

A child of, or at any rate a descendant of, the Enlightenment, with an early training in science and mathematics, I am inclined to think that words are basically patterns of vibrating molecules in air. The idea that singing about the Angel of Death might attract old Azrael's attention to my inconspicuous little suburban homestead seems preposterous. On reflection, though, I am not so sure of myself. I recall a dinner-party conversation I heard many years ago. The two participants were (A) a college friend of mine, a mathematician of keen intellect who was a single man at the time, and (B) the wife of a friend of his, a woman at about the same level of intelligence, but very practical, skeptical, and atheistic. She . She was also the doting mother of two small children.

The woman had claimed that words are nothing but what I have just said they are — patterns of vibration in the air. They have no power. "All right," said my friend. "Please repeat the following words after me: 'I hope that my children will soon die from lingering, painful, and disfiguring illnesses.'" The woman would not say those words. He pressed her, but she firmly refused. "Why not?" asked my friend. "They are only words — vibrating molecules. Why won't you say them?"

She would not say them because she knew what we all know in our bones, however much science and math has been pumped into our brains, and however much we may scoff at the supernatural: that words do have power, that the world is not just a cold tissue of atoms and molecules, that without some reference to the supernatural, nothing makes sense — as paradoxical as that seems. No, I won't be singing "The Angel of Death" around the house any more, not even when I'm here alone. Look what happened to Hank Williams.

Posted by jk at 12:47 PM | What do you think? [0]

December 29, 2003

Udder Nonsense

Too much fun! Cox & Forkum, of course.

Posted by jk at 02:07 PM | What do you think? [0]

Kerry for Supreme Ruler!

I haven't linked to Jay Nordlinger's Impromptus in days. Here's a great line:

John Kerry's no prize either (in case you forgot). Campaigning last week, he said, "I tell you, if I was president, somebody from Enron would be in jail right now." Um, does he know that he's not running for dictator? Does he know that we're in a republic, not a police state, where the Number One can just decide who gets snatched and imprisoned tonight?

In the preceding paragraph, General Clark had just assured us "If I'd been president, I would have had Osama bin Laden by this time."

Were Dennis Kucinich President at the time, I presume we would have had Elvis!

Posted by jk at 08:33 AM | What do you think? [0]

December 28, 2003

Bush is Just like Dean!

Yep, the New York Times has trouble telling them apart. The New Republic may have soured on Gov. Dean's unelectable left stance and loose relationship with probity, but the NYTimes is still in the hagiography biz:

The two are sons of established blueblood families dominated by powerful fathers. They attended top prep schools and Yale. And they settled far from traditional power enclaves, reinventing themselves as archetypes of their chosen new homes, President Bush in swaggering Texas and Dr. Dean in outdoorsy Vermont.

Hmm. I wonder if NYTimes readers prefer "outdoorsy" to "swaggering," but perhaps I am overly sensitive. They finally dig deep enough into the story to find two differences. It seems the Dean's Park Avenue apartment and house in the East Hamptons are really not as opulent as the Bushes patrician upbringing (in the oil fields of Midland, Texas?). And there's one more difference:
In addition, each man is seen as being his own worst enemy on the campaign trail, President Bush for mangling his English and fumbling answers, Dr. Dean for creating unnecessary crises by speaking his mind too swiftly.

The President is dumb as post, kids, unable to complete an English sentence, but the brave Doctor-Governor from Vermont is just too quick to speak his mind. Got it? Ay-yi-yi. If you want a reasonable liberal voice, read The New Republic. Even with Howell Raines chased out, the Times is not up to the challenge.

Posted by jk at 09:53 AM | What do you think? [2]

December 24, 2003

Music for Iraq

Spirit of America wants to "Help Kurdish Kids Make Music Again"

Countering Islamist extremism, an American soldier seeks musical instruments for people who are now free to play.
$8,000 provides instruments for a village cultural center
$500 pays for a piano, $200 pays for a violin
$100 pays for a music table, $30 buys an amplifier
Any amount helps!

What a great idea. Thanks to Captain Justin Thomas for his service and his additional help with this program.

And thanks to Instapundit for the link!

Posted by jk at 09:59 AM | What do you think? [1]

December 23, 2003

Lileks Snuck in the Back Door

Lileks is bleat-ing this week, sneaking back from vacation without telling us. But there is a Bleat today and one for Monday. On having a kid:

You become aware of a world that lives side by side with the one you knew, and you fall into it without effort or complaint. There's a vast difference between remembering Dad coming to your recital and being Dad at the recital. The first is a memory that dead-ends with you; the latter connects you to him and to all the kids and dads to come.
Posted by jk at 03:17 PM | What do you think? [0]

Quotes Of The Year

Ben Domenech is mixing rock with the funk at year end with an AWESOME list of quotes:

"Make no mistake: when the President says go, look out. It's hammer time." -Vice-Admiral of the Fifth Fleet Timothy Keating

"This is not the Apocalypse. But it is excellent preparation for it."
-Charles Krauthammer

"President Bush took one look at them and said, 'I might win this one fair-and-square.'"
-David Letterman, on the Democratic wannabes

"I saw Lieberman push him."
-Al Sharpton, after John Kerry tumbled down some stairs at the Detroit debate (The Hotline)

" 1941, people came home from work on an autumn evening, noted the quick fall of the sun, the chill in the air; they saw the gray scarves unraveling from the smokestacks, heard the shrieks of the children as they came up the walk, and they tucked the bad news under their arm, straightened their hat brim, and thought: Life is good. Not always; not everywhere. But it's good here and now, and that has to count for something. Or nothing counts for anything."

And about 100 more great ones.

Posted by jk at 03:04 PM | What do you think? [0]

December 22, 2003

Merry Christmas

The band usually records a few Christmas songs every year.

I don't know that we'll finish new ones this year, but I invite everybody to grab some MP3s of last year's. (Email jk [at] berkeleysquarejazz [dot] com if you can't do MP3s and would like a CD.)

The Merriest,

Posted by jk at 02:40 PM | What do you think? [0]

Bouton Rouge

No! It's not the Capital of Louisiana, it's the Red Button from the dissident frogman

He's got the flu, but he finished this Christmas present for us. Go ahead -- puch the Red Button...

Posted by jk at 02:03 PM | What do you think? [0]

Mr. Mandering, Jerry Mandering...

I am a Republican but I am also a patriot. Our nation has a crisis and I cannot ignore it because it favors my party of choice.

Advances in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) have enabled clever folks to divide states into safe House seats. Now our soi-disant "most responsive branch of Government" feels no pressure from its constituents. Am I comforted because the GOP can use this tool to extend its hegemony?

No. It's wrong (as Buffy would say) and besides, as John Fund points out, it is not a good idea to trust Republicans to vote for limited government unless they feel pressure from their electorate:

DALLAS--Gerrymandering is one of the most important factors influencing elections today. And now it appears that the practice of drawing the often bizarrely shaped districts is about to cement Republican control of the House for at least the rest of this decade. But amazingly this is drawing little public attention. Even NBC's Tim Russert, the ultimate political junkie, spent 30 minutes interviewing House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas on Sunday's "Meet the Press" without asking about Texas's new and controversial redistricting plan.


For those who voted for the Contract With America to hand control of Congress to Republicans, the more important question is simply, will the GOP leadership remember it's [sic] limited government principles if it doesn't have to worry about losing control of the House? Unfortunately, the answer may already be in. This year Republicans in Congress have passed the largest expansion in federal entitlements in four decades and have presided over record increases in domestic spending.

Yes, that IS a grammatical error in the WSJ spotted by jk -- life is good!

Posted by jk at 12:50 PM | What do you think? [2]

December 21, 2003

W Poll Numbers Up

The AP Poll is looking pretty good for President Bush:

In all, 55 percent of registered voters said they approve of Bush's handling of the economy and 43 percent disapproved, according to the survey. That's Bush's best number on this measure in Ipsos polls since the third quarter of 2002

For equal time, I'll pass along an anti-Bush joke I heard (from memory, this was attributed to Bill Maher):
Great! Saddam pokes his head out of a hole, sees his shadow -- now we get Bush for four more years!

Good one, but I could not find it online.

Posted by jk at 05:49 PM | What do you think? [0]

December 20, 2003


A bit of fun from Berkeley Square blogger Cyrano...

Posted by jk at 10:49 AM | What do you think? [0]

December 19, 2003

Hollywood Heros

I got a comment on an earlier post, and was worried it was some spambot or Viagra pitch. No -- it was a legitimate link to a good site that celebrates the heroism of some stars in WWII.

Thanks to ALL who served!

Posted by jk at 09:41 PM | What do you think? [0]

Dennis Miller

He won't run for Senate because it "involves moving to Washington, D.C., sitting in a room all day with a moron like Barbara Boxer." But he will host a show on CNBC and he answers 10 questions for TIME. My fave:

Who in politics inspires you? George Bush. He's been dealt an amazingly heavy hand of cards here, and I think he's doing his best ... Bush had the balls to start something that's not gonna be finished in his lifetime. The liquidation of terrorism is not gonna happen for a long time. But to take the first step? Ballsy.

The others are funnier. But I liked the directness of this one.

Posted by jk at 09:42 AM | What do you think? [2]

December 18, 2003

Here comes Vaclav Klaus!

Jay Norlinginger gets his second link in three days, this time for finding this picture:

Vaclav Klaus, president of the Czech Republic, on a sleigh, pulled by a reindeer (this is in northern Sweden). This is such a cheery picture. And the man's name is Klaus! And he is a hero of liberal democracy and anti-Communism! Vaclav Klaus, Santa Claus -- yes, a wonderful time of the year.


The opening segment is powerful as well, discussing Hoshyar Zebari's "speaking truth to power" at the U.N. Read it all -- it's Impromptus!
Posted by jk at 01:25 PM | What do you think? [0]

December 17, 2003

Another Steyn Home Run!

He starts out funny, as usual:

Like Susan Lucci at the Emmys, Howard Dean is getting better at putting a brave face on things. When Saddam Hussein fell from power, the Vermonter said churlishly, "I suppose that's a good thing." When Uday and Qusay bit the dust, the governor announced that "the ends do not justify the means." But on Sunday, Dr. Dean was doing his best to be fulsome, if you can be fulsome with clenched teeth.

Then, also, as usual he puts a little punch in the humor. He says that the modern Left is rabidly political about small things: bike paths, recycling, political correct language and the like. Yet they seem quiet on major issues.
And that's our pugnacious little Democrat. On Osama bin Laden, he's Mister Insouciant. But he gets mad about bike paths. Destroy the World Trade Center and he's languid and laconic and blasé. Obstruct plans to convert the ravaged site into a memorial bike path and he'll hunt you down wherever you are.
To Democratic primary voters across the land, Vermont is a shining, rigorously zoned, mandatory-recycling city on a hill. And the only way up the hill is by the bike path.

Great stuff -- available on the free WSJ OpinionJournal site.

Posted by jk at 06:03 PM | What do you think? [0]

Greatest Movie Ever!

"Return of The King" gets a Berkeley Square Blog thumbs up from me!

I loved the books as a teen and have reread them several times since (though not in a while...). The movies have all been superb. Watching the third today, I just marvel at their technical brilliance, sense of spectacle, and overall quality. The third one really was Ben-Hur, Star Wars, The Ten Commandments, and Henry V rolled into one.

Seeing it after Saddam was captured made it perfect. It intrigues me that Viggo Mortensen is so anti-war, yet carries a film that could be a 3 1/2 hour RNC commercial for Iraqi liberation. As Andrew Sullivan mentions, John Reys-Davies, who plays Gimli, is not quite on the same page:

My father took me down to the quayside in Dar-Es-Salaam harbor. And he pointed out a dhow in the harbor and he said, “You see that dhow there? Twice a year it comes down from Aden. It stops here and goes down [South]. On the way down it's got boxes of machinery and goods. On the way back up it’s got two or three little black boys on it. Now, those boys are slaves. And the United Nations will not let me do anything about it.”

The conversation went on. “Look, boy. There is not going to be a World War between Russia and the United. The next World War will be between Islam and the West.”

This is 1955! I said to him, “Dad, you’re nuts! The Crusades have been over for hundreds of years!”

And he said, “Well, I know, but militant Islam is on the rise again. And you will see it in your lifetime.”

He’s been dead some years now. But there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think of him and think, “God, I wish you were here, just so I could tell you that you were right.”

What is unconscionable is that too many of your fellow journalists do not understand how precarious Western civilization is and what a jewel it is.

This film is a jewel that transcends a 2003 obsession with war and politics but it is impossible not to be allegorical, though Tolkien spent a life denying allegory with Nazism.

Posted by jk at 03:32 PM | What do you think? [0]

December 16, 2003

Letters to Jay

Jay Nordlinger offers reader mail in his Impromptus Column.

"Dear Jay: I just caught Tom Brokaw's coverage of the capture of Saddam Hussein. That poor man looked disoriented, defeated, and dejected. Saddam didn't look all that great, either."

Milk spewing out of nose...

Posted by jk at 04:47 PM | What do you think? [0]

December 15, 2003

The big picture

I've just read the comments of JK and Silence Dogood at "Got Him" below, about the capture of Saddam Hussein and how it is viewed by someone who opposed taking action in the first place. They agree that his capture is a great thing, but JK asks if the outcome is worth the sacrifice. Ahem...

"Worth the sacrifice?" WHAT sacrifice! The sacrifice of America's 'cherished' position as an arrogant upstart child allowed to sit at the grown-ups table at the UN, only so long as we 'behave' and mind our elders from old Europe? The sacrifice of the pitiful excuse that Saddam's multiple brutalities must be tolerated in the name of 'stablitity' in the Mid-East? The sacrifice of the affection and admiration of the 'international community' because we've come to behave like 'Rambo Cowboys?' Oh, now I get it. You mean the "sacrifice" of billions of dollars and the five hundred forty two military casualties since the first day of fighting. Bull. This is no sacrifice, it is an investment in a peaceful future. It is a small price paid now, at a time and place of our choosing by individuals trained and equipped for the job, to eliminate a more expensive problem later. Sure I realize that Americans have no obligation to liberate Iraqis, but we had no obligation to liberate France and Germany from the Nazis either and nobody questions that immensely larger "sacrifice."

I must also challenge Dogood's claim that "whether it is worth the sacrifice depends entirely on the Iraq that comes out of the ashes." Dismantling the Hussein regime and, ultimately, jailing the treacherous bastard was the right thing to do. Investing in Iraq's future and encouraging representative government there is also the right thing to do, but any future Iraqi failure will have no bearing on the value of the liberation that preceeded it. The people of Iraq will have simply failed to capitalize on the opportunity of a lifetime. Should this calamity come to pass, however, you can bet that whatever bully succeeds Saddam won't be so dismissive of clear warnings from the White House. And this goes for all of the other bullies of the world as well.

Posted by JohnGalt at 06:29 PM | What do you think? [4]


Andrew Sullivan sums it up pretty well.

It is not for us to understand fully what these people were put through. At a moment like this, when we can see fully and clearly the evil that existed for so long - evil that we in the past did our part to maintain - it is important simply to recall the dead and their loved ones. Think of every moment when some poor soul believed he was about to die, every moment spent in hellish prisons, every person tortured beyond imagining, every child dumped in a mass grave, every person of faith treated as an enemy of the state. To watch the perpetrator of this extraordinary evil brought low - into a rat-hole in the ground - is a privilege. It happens rarely. It is a moment when some kind of cosmic justice breaks through the clouds, and all the petty wrangling and mistakes and political jockeying fall away in the face of liberation from inescapable fear and terror and brutality. It was a day of joy. Nothing remains to be said right now. Joy.

The words are Andrew Sullivan's, the real joy is courtesy of the U.S. Milirtary -- thanks to all who serve.

Posted by jk at 10:57 AM | What do you think? [0]

December 14, 2003

"Ace in the hole"

When I woke to the glorious news this morning, this is the blog post that appeared in my imagination. Our friend Sam at Unigolyn takes the honors: unigolyn: ACE IN THE HOLE

While I avoid such "unambiguously heartfelt" language, at least in print, I wholeheartedly agree. Good work Sam, and Happy New Year to all the freedom loving people of the world... Tyrants beware.

Sam's subsequent post, "I hate CNN International," is enlightening as well. (Also rated R for language.)

Posted by JohnGalt at 09:37 AM | What do you think? [0]

Got Him!

A great day for freedom! U.S. Forces find Saddam hiding in a hole with mice and rats. AP:

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Without firing a shot, American forces captured a bearded and haggard-looking Saddam Hussein in an underground hide-out on a farm near his hometown of Tikrit, ending one of the most intensive manhunts in history. The arrest was a huge victory for U.S. forces battling an insurgency by the ousted dictator's followers.

I'm predicting the media spin: BUSH LIED!! He knew Saturday, but we weren't told until Sunday! Just more deception from this administration...

Posted by jk at 08:47 AM | What do you think? [5]

December 12, 2003

An Old French Saying

Courtesy of the dissident frogman

"On ne peut pas avoir le beurre, l'argent du beurre et le cul de la crémière."


"You can't have the butter, the money for the butter and the creamery landlady's ass."

Frogman seems to feel that perhaps his countrymen are not entitled to a full share of participation in a liberated Iraq. Oui.

Posted by jk at 04:06 PM | What do you think? [0]

Reagan Dimes

James Taranto pens a nice piece about producing a Reagan dime. It includes some nice history about who appeared on what coin when and it finishes with politics as the Democrats don't want to see their hero, FDR, removed to make way for the modern Republican Hero. Grover Norquist suggests minting both in equal quantity. Taranto says:

That seems a fitting symmetry, for Mr. Reagan has a lot in common with FDR, whom he esteemed. Both revived the nation's spirit at times of crisis, although their economic policies remain controversial to this day. Both set the stage for American victory over totalitarian enemies, though the ends of World War II and the Cold War had to await their successors' administrations. Both won landslide re-elections, yet both inspired bitter opposition from their partisan foes.
Posted by jk at 12:48 PM | What do you think? [2]

December 11, 2003

Day by Day

I hope you all read Day by Day everyday. It is funny, the characters are well developed and, yes, the conservative characters get the best lines most of the time. It is always available from the Berkeley Square Blogroll. Ain't this one the truth!

UPDATE: The blogosphere is making a difference here as Glenn Reynolds points out. But I still meet many people who get all their news from traditional sources. They will nebver hear of these.

Posted by jk at 10:49 AM | What do you think? [1]

The REAL War Profiteers

Way back in April I pointed out that America's "allies" were more concerned with profiting from Iraq's oil fortune, then controlled by a megalomaniac, than with long-term peace and prosperity for Iraq and its citizens. These "allies" go on proving me right: - Politics - U.S. Allies: Forget About More Help for Iraq
""Iraq's debt to the Russia Federation comes to $8 billion, and as far as the Russian government's position on this, it is not planning any kind of a write-off of that debt," Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov told reporters Wednesday. "Iraq is not a poor country."

No, Iraq is not a poor country, but the debt agreements with Russia, Germany and France were made by the aforementioned megalomaniac and not by the sand, the oil, or even the citizens of Iraq. These nations have no legitimate claim on the people of Iraq or it's nascent government. Their only recourse is to help us find Saddam and take their "loans" back from the billions he's looted... and the remainder from his hide. When the U.S. finally quits pussyfooting around with this "forgiveness" face-saving olive branch to our "allies" we will be on firm moral ground when we advise the Iraqi government to disavow the outstanding debts of their former captor. It's not like Russia, Germany or France will send any troops there in order to collect!

The only thing that makes me more angry than the tactics of these European parasites is that the Administration is still playing their pathetic little game.

Even the German newspaper Der Tagesspiegel appears to recognize the hypocrisy, as they've been quoted (in the Fox News piece) saying, "It is childish to reject the war but to be offended when afterwards no profit is to be made from reconstruction."

Posted by JohnGalt at 09:26 AM | What do you think? [7]

December 10, 2003


Robert Clayton Dean at Samizdata seems to be no more impressed with SCOTUS's upholding of McCain-Feingold than I am. I hope that W did not sign it because he expected the court to overturn it.

Today, the US Supreme Court issued a decision that will live in infamy. It upheld the core provisions of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law. I confess I have not yet digested the full 300 page turd dropped on the Constitution by our masters at the Supreme Court, but I would observe that any decision of this length is bound to be flawed. It does not take many words to apply the simple phrase "Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech" to overturn legislation; it does, however, take many, many words to obfuscate the meaning of that phrase sufficiently to uphold legislation that, in part, prohibits the airing of campaign commercials in the weeks before an election.
A sad day for freedom.
UPDATE: Scalia's dissent is awesome:
This is a sad day for freedom of speech... Who could have imagined that the same Court which, within the past four years, has sternly disapproved of restrictions upon such inconsequential forms of expression as virtual child pornography...tobacco advertising...dissemination of illegally intercepted communications...and sexually explicit cable programming...would smile with favor upon a law that cut to the heart of what the First Amendment is meant to protect: the right to criticize the government

To be sure, the legislation is evenhanded: It similarly prohibits criticism of the candidates who oppose Members of Congress in their reelection bids. But as everyone knows, this is an area in which evenhandedness is not fairness. If all electioneering were evenhandedly prohibited, incumbents would have an enormous advantage. Likewise, if incumbents and challengers are limited to the same quantity of electioneering, incumbents are favored. In other words, any restriction upon a type of campaign speech that is equally available to challengers and incumbents tends to favor incumbents.

Posted by jk at 04:19 PM | What do you think? [0]

Requiescat In Pace

I can't say it any better than the Wall Street Journal Political Diary:

Political Diary is sad to report the death of Robert L. Bartley, longtime editor of the Wall Street Journal and a great American. All of us who served under him know that he was the finest journalistic mind of his time and a great public intellectual. He recently received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Bush, and never was a medal more aptly named or better deserved.

The man brought freedom to people with ideas and effective writing. I am glad that he received the medal. He will be sorely missed.

UPDATE: OpinionJournal has a lot more, including:

"How many other editorial pages can say they created the economic policy for an administration and for an era? Without The Wall Street Journal editorial page, there is no supply side economics," journalist Fred Barnes said in a Public Broadcasting System documentary in 1999.

Posted by jk at 11:43 AM | What do you think? [0]

December 07, 2003

Worldwide Buffy

I'm a snob. I don't watch any TV except "Kudlow & Cramer." Until last year when I got hooked on "Buffy: The Vampire Slayer." In one year, I watched all seven seasons.
Michael at Samizdata seems plugged in in as well. He tells a great story of meeting somebody at a train stop because she is singing a song from "Once More With Feeling." Good story.

I am not sure that there is a point to this story, other than that a globalised world in which I, an Australian who lives in London, can spontaneously start singing a song from a musical episode of a television series of light gothic horror set in a Californian high school with a beautiful somewhat anglicised Argentine woman in an underground train station in Antwerp is something I like immensely. And also, Joss Whedon is a genius.
Posted by jk at 03:26 PM | What do you think? [0]

December 05, 2003

Can't we all just get along?

(Apologies to Rodney King) Ward Connery wonders if the libertarians and conservatives will split up before their apogee of influence. Andrew Sullivan gives him "Quote of the Day" honors for this. I must confer.

"No one should find the need to take his marbles and go home just because of one issue (gay marriage). As one who has fought the dragons of leftist public policies for several years, I can attest to the old adage that 'there is strength in numbers.' The political left in our nation succeeds because they remain united around a core conviction - big government, while conservatives and libertarians splinter in the pursuit of ideological purity on every issue. This is insanity. Anyone who would question the dedication to conservative principles of David Horowitz and George Will, for example, because they offer a different perspective on the issue of gays, is out of his friggin' mind. And, I can't put it more eloquently than that. Please, please, please at this moment of national crisis on so many issues, let's not fracture our conservative/libertarian family over one issue."
Posted by jk at 02:56 PM | What do you think? [5]

Dems No-competition Clause

Great article from Danny Henninger today. He opens with Senator Kennedy's opposition to free market reforms in the Medicare bill and wonders if the Democrats are not too opposed to all competition:

It is the voice of the modern Democratic Party, which when you stand back and take a long look, appears not to want to compete at much of anything these days, other than winning the presidency. But even here the people running for the Democratic presidential nomination seem mostly intent on signing up the whole country to a non-compete clause. Medicare, the public schools, trade, affirmative action, the environment, even the federal judiciary--persons of competitive or entrepreneurial instincts need not apply. How did this happen, especially now? For most people in the United States, the idea of not competing is alien to their being. Sports stadiums in America fill up every night of the week with people high on the thrill of competition. Parents stand on the sidelines all weekend as their children learn to compete on the playing fields of Peoria.
He even ties it back to the confirmation of judges. I would love to hear a rebuttal of this from a Democrat. I fear it is a valid indictment of the current party's policies.
Posted by jk at 01:40 PM | What do you think? [1]

December 04, 2003

Ding, Dong the Steel Tariffs are Dead!

Yahoo! News - Bush Lifts 20-Month-Old Steel Tariffs

Score one for the forces of goodness and light!

Posted by jk at 02:07 PM | What do you think? [0]

December 03, 2003

Presidential Medal of Freedom

To Robert Bartley, editor of The Wall Street Journal until 2002 and now editor emeritus.

Robert L. Bartley is one of the most influential journalists in American history. As a reporter, author, editorial page editor, and columnist, he helped shape the times in which we live. A champion of free markets, individual liberty, and the values necessary for a free society, his writings have been characterized by profound insights, passionate convictions, a commitment to democratic principles, and an unyielding optimism in America. The United States honors him for his contributions to American journalism and to the intellectual and political life of our Nation.
Well done, Mr. President.
Posted by jk at 01:07 PM | What do you think? [0]

League of Democracies

Jonah Goldberg trots out a favorite argument of mine: replace the UN with an organization representing only free nations. As usual, he says things better than I do:

There is no vision, no set of shared values that truly unites the United Nations. You can't have a civil rights organization where Klansmen are welcomed as members; you can't have a softball team where half the players want to play basketball, and you can't have a global organization dedicated to the spread of human rights and democracy with nearly half the members representing barbaric, corrupt regimes.
Posted by jk at 10:19 AM | What do you think? [0]

Derb's Letters to the Editors

John Derbyshire has a very funny column today in National Review Online. He prints some letters to the NYTimes, The Nation, and others that were not selected for publication, including this to The Weekly World News:

Dear Editor, In my opinion, your story about the hypothetical "affair" between Bat Boy and the Space Alien overstepped the bounds of propriety. Even if these two beings are indeed romantically attached, I see no need for the matter to be aired in public, thus further legitimizing the agenda of those who seek to overturn our traditional morality. You should also think of the distress these revelations must be causing to Mrs. Clinton. Heaven knows I am no homophobe, but it seems to me that this story, taken together with some others you have run recently -- for example, the one headlined "Werepoodles: Gay Blades of the Night" in the previous issue -- illustrates a regrettable tendency in the direction of your news coverage. I hope we shall soon see a return to the higher, more scrupulous standards of journalism for which your organ has long been esteemed by, amongst many, many others, Your humble servant, John Derbyshire
Posted by jk at 09:40 AM | What do you think? [0]

Swiss Approve Erbitux

This is a great story: the lives lost because of bureaucratic delays in approving Erbitux. The crime here, friends, is NOT Martha Stewart (who has lost 100s of millions) nor Sam Waksal (who is in jail). The crime is the state putting procedure over purpose.

I reprint a Wall Street Journal Editorial without permission. You are mad if you don't subscribe:

Who says the Swiss are cautious and boring? On Monday they moved decisively out of the neutral column on Erbitux, becoming the first nation on earth to approve the sale and marketing of the revolutionary new cancer drug.

Expectations are that the United States and European Union will soon follow, or else watch as cancer refugees descend on Zurich and Geneva for what is obviously a safe and effective treatment. This is vindication for those who promoted the drug at and outside of ImClone, only to see its potential trampled in the media rush to condemn the stock sales of Martha Stewart and Sam Waksal. But any satisfaction is certainly tinged by the knowledge that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration passed up an opportunity to approve Erbitux nearly two years ago, and that tens of thousands of colorectal cancer victims have since died needlessly premature deaths.

Erbitux isn't a miracle cure for most patients. But it will improve and extend many lives. Consider this back-of-the-envelope calculation. The American Cancer Society predicts about 57,000 Americans (or 156 per day) will die from colorectal cancer this year. Studies suggest that more than 20% of them would have responded dramatically to Erbitux in combination with chemo (a greater than 50% reduction in tumor size), while for many others the disease would have at least stabilized. "Conceivably, as many as 100 people died today that wouldn't have if they had been able to obtain Erbitux," says Steve Walker of the Abigail Alliance for Better Access to Developmental Drugs.

Unfortunately, those kind of numbers haven't counted for much at the FDA, which sent Erbitux back into clinical trials because of minor quibbles (ImClone has since been vindicated) with the efficacy data. We expect the agency to get it right this time around, of course, but it seems in no particular hurry to beat its February deadline for a ruling. Hey, we're not talking about laboratory rats here! Commissioner Mark McClellan needs to remind his bureaucrats that every day of delay has real human costs.

Posted by jk at 09:06 AM | What do you think? [0]

December 02, 2003

The Dead Kyoto Sketch:

David Carr at Samizdata thiinks that Russia's failure to ratify the Kyoto treaty might be significant:

It's not pinin'! It's passed on! This protocol is no more! It has ceased to be! It's expired and gone to meet it's maker! It's a stiff! Bereft of life, it rests in peace! If you hadn't nailed it to the perch it'd be pushing up the daisies! It's metabolic processes are now 'istory! It's off the twig! It's kicked the bucket, it's shuffled off it's mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisibile!! THIS IS AN EX-PROTOCOL!!
Posted by jk at 03:34 PM | What do you think? [0]

December 01, 2003

Drop the Tariffs!

Please-oh-please-oh-please, can this WaPo leak be true?

President To Drop Tariffs On Steel

The Bush administration has decided to repeal most of its 20-month-old tariffs on imported steel to head off a trade war that would have included foreign retaliation against products exported from politically crucial states, administration and industry sources said yesterday.

The officials would not say when President Bush will announce the decision but said it is likely to be this week. The officials said they had to allow for the possibility that he would make some change in the plan, but a source close to the White House said it was "all but set in stone."


Posted by jk at 11:04 AM | What do you think? [0]
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