March 31, 2004

Condi '08

Alex at pstupidonymous runs a great blog. We agree most times, disagree sometimes.

But we both agree on this: Rice2008!

Posted by jk at 04:55 PM | What do you think? [2]

Mars Mission

We can roll all these posts into one. The good folks at Samizdata remind me to follow my beliefs all the way through: I want private fuel-cell cars and infrastructure to fuel them -- of course, the answer is private space travel:

If our civilisation is to make the leap from a one-planet to a multi-planet one, then, just as when it made the leap from a European to a global civilisation, the ultimate drivers will not be government programmes (of Prince Henry the Navigator, Ferdinand and Isabella, Kennedy and Khrushchev). Progress will rather depend upon commercial enterprises which serve public demand (the East India company, the Cunard line, the embryonic space tourist companies).

This is a recurring theme on that site, which mixes libertrian economics and space news.

Posted by jk at 02:21 PM | What do you think? [0]

Hurting Ketchup Sales?

This can't be good news for Senator Kerry. The Wall St Journal Political Diary(sign up) says that the firm has had to distance itself from the fray:

Heinz ketchup folks want it known they have nothing to do with John Kerry's campaign, nor with Peaceful Tomorrows, the group of 9/11 "victim" representatives who have criticized President Bush's TV ads. The company sent letters to 50 TV and radio talk shows disclaiming any connection, and adding for good measure that the Heinz Endowments - - a charity headed by Mr. Kerry's wife -- was not a financial supporter of the 9/11 group.
A spokeswoman for the company told the Associated Press that Heinz had received 150 letters or phone calls asking about the connection or threatening to boycott the company's products. She pointed out that the H.J. Heinz company had actually steered clear of presidential politics since 1988, when it ran "Morris the Cat" (star of commercials for Nine Lives cat food) as a mock presidential candidate. The spokeswoman also found it important to note that Mr. Kerry's wife and immediate family own no more than 4% of the company's shares -- a meager $520 million at yesterday's closing price.
Of course, a multinational corporation has to keep out of politics. It's just funny to me that Heinz is so well known. How many people know what Halliburton does? I fear the Senator will be a liability for the corporation, which will be a liability for the Senator. Too bad.

You don't have to post an attack today, Johngalt! He's hurting Ketchup sales.

Posted by jk at 11:36 AM | What do you think? [7]

Richard A. Clarke

Removing any doubt that Richard A. Clarke lacked credibility, he has now been endorsed by Barbra Streisand

HOLLYWOOD (Talon News) -- Actress, singer, and left-leaning activist Barbara Streisand belted out a new round of attacks against President Bush, this time criticizing what she calls a lack of effort in combating terror before September 11, 2001.

Streisand praised former counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke who has been pointedly critical of his former boss' performance in prosecuting the war on terror.

I have not blogged on Clarke. It has all been said more eloquently elsewhere, but for the record: Mr. Clarke is one of 300 annoying, petty, partisan bureaucrats to whom the president must listen and sift information. Mr. Clarke got "lucky" when his pet project vaulted to extreme importance on 9/11.

This allowed said petty, partisan bureaucrat to attack the administration for not having paid attention to his warnings. Even though he admits that no plan existed that would have foiled or mitigated the attacks.

Does it not reflect more poorly on Mr. Clarke who, one may accuse, sat with his thumb up his butt for eight years after the first WTC bombing and the attack on the USS Cole?

I think the real story is that further attacks may have been deferred by President Bush's muscular response. In Chicago, L.A. towers were next targets says The Washington Times says exactly that:

LONDON -- Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, al Qaeda's purported operations chief, has told U.S. interrogators that the group had been planning attacks on the Library Tower in Los Angeles and the Sears Tower in Chicago on the heels of the September 11, 2001, terror strikes.

Those plans were aborted mainly because of the decisive U.S. response to the New York and Washington attacks, which disrupted the terrorist organization's plans so thoroughly that it could not proceed, according to transcripts of his conversations with interrogators.

I predict Dr. Rice will comport herself well and this will blow over quickly as an election issue.

Lastly, I would again ask about media bias. Does anybody think that a conservative of equal credibility could make similar charges with a new book and receive similar coverage, attention, or benefit of doubt?

Posted by jk at 09:42 AM | What do you think? [0]

March 30, 2004

JFK's Oil "Solution"

I'm doing my best to post daily demonizations of POTUS wannabe JFK. Today's "negative attack" has to do with Kerry's ideas for petroleum policy. "No young American in uniform ought to ever be held hostage to America's dependence on oil from the Middle East," Kerry said today. Aside from the overly dramatic language about another hostage crisis, I agree with him. One monumental step toward independence would be to allow production of our own reserves, but Kerry preemptively dismisses this idea with "We can't provide the supply of oil America needs from the Alaska Wildlife Refuge or from any other source in the United States because we only have 3 percent of the world's oil reserves." But 3 percent of a gazillion of something is still several trillion. Additionally, America gets far more oil from Venezuela than from the Middle East. Kerry doesn't want to talk about Venezuela, though. (Nobody does for some reason.)

So what is JFK's ingenious plan to prevent American soldiers from being "hostages" to Middle East oil? Kerry said he would pressure the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to provide more oil, simplify rules on gas to reduce costs, and develop more energy-efficient vehicles. Simplifying the insanity of geographically specific fuel formulations to meet EPA goals is a good idea, and I didn't know that Kerry was so talented as to be able to increase efficiency of our cars, but what's with "pressuring OPEC to provide more oil?" Or what, mister tough guy? You'll accuse them of being corrupt liars? Maybe a little saber rattling if that doesn't work? So much for releasing the hostages, eh John?

JFK seems to have only two uses for oil: Something to raise taxes on and something to demonize the Bush administration over.

Posted by JohnGalt at 02:54 PM | What do you think? [9]

Kerry's Tax Cut

Larry Kudlow and I agree more often than not. I thought Senator Kerry's corporate tax cut plan was political genius. Larry concurs

Senator John Kerry moved to the right of Walter Mondale by proposing a small cut in the corporate tax rate, which he would lower to 33 ¼ percent from 35 percent. In political terms, it's a clever ploy. In economic terms, it merely provides a small offset to the significant tax hikes Kerry proposes on capital formation, where he would slap small businesses, top-bracket taxpayers, dividends, and capital gains.

The Kerry proposal to rollback the Bush tax cuts would raise the after-tax cost and reduce the post-tax investment return on capital by more than 54 ½ percent. Taking out the upper-bracket labor-income component -- which is still investment capital -- the Kerry tax hike would reduce investment incentives by nearly 47 percent and work-effort returns by more that 7 ½ percent. A big hit.

I laughed when I read the AP headline that "Kerry Promises Ten Million New Jobs," but I'm not laughing today -- pitching a tax cut will ameliorate all the tax he is proposing, and the corporate rate almost has a "Sister Souljah" feel.

Posted by jk at 02:33 PM | What do you think? [0]

Taxes on my Mind

Filed last night, after spending 10 hours of time that I could have used to create wealth. Most of my tax needs are pretty pedestrian, but I fought with an inexpensive preparation package, had to flag down statements from an old mortgage company after I had paid off the loan, tried a few ways of classifying health insurance during self-employment, the usual stuff. And I am certain by national averages, I got off easy.

What a scam the gub'mint pulled off when they got withholding, what a marketing coup to over-withhold. If we had to write a check this April, we'd elect 80 Republican Senators in November, and none of the porcine GOP house members who helped craft the highway bill.

In Pork Highway the WSJ Ed Page applauds the President for trimming some pork off this bill with a veto threat, but it is still too fatty for professional wrestler on Atkins.

Ronald Utt of the Heritage Foundation notes that "$700 billion (inflation adjusted) of federal highway spending since 1970 has added only 7% to our road system, a performance that makes the proverbial $600 Pentagon hammer a benchmark for cost-effective government."

Posted by jk at 12:47 PM | What do you think? [5]

March 29, 2004

Monday Email Laugh

From my buddy Jeff:

In light of the Madrid bombings and the finding of a bomb on their RR tracks,
France has upgraded its terror alert level from "run" to "hide."

According to the French government, the only two higher levels are "surrender"
and "collaborate"


Posted by jk at 09:37 AM | What do you think? [2]

March 28, 2004

Fifteen Comments!

JK's March 19 blog of Andrew Sullivan's opposition to President Bush over the narrow issue of Gay Marriage has inspired a remarkable 15 comments related to philosophy and the presidential race. Jump to the fun here.

Posted by JohnGalt at 12:30 PM | What do you think? [0]

Active Partisan Selling a Book

Former Counterterrorism coordinator Richard Clarke was on 'Meet the Press' this morning for the full hour. The bulk of his testimony was critical of the Bush administration for doing too little to combat terrorism before 9/11 and for invading Iraq which he charged "greatly undermined the war on terrorism." He had some criticism for the Clinton administration, namely failing to bomb terror training camps in Afghanistan, but forgave Clinton's ineffectiveness with the quip, "at least he did something."

Several weeks ago Cedric Brown, a man in the audience at a Kerry campaign appearance, stood up and asked the candidate to name the world leaders who privately offered him their support. In his refusal to answer, Kerry asked Brown if he was a Republican. "What are you? ... You answer the question. Did you vote for George Bush?" When Brown answered yes, Mr. Kerry and the partisan crowd had all the justification they needed to dismiss everything he'd said. When Brown's voice was drowned out by the crowd Kerry said, "See, democracy works both ways."

Perhaps we should apply Kerry's Democracy of Partisan Dismissal to Mr. Clarke's charges as well. During his public testimony to the 9/11 commission on Wednesday, Clarke responded to this statement by former Secretary of the Navy John Lehman: "And because of my real, genuine long-term admiration for you, I hope you'll resolve that credibility problem, [conflicting testimony] because I'd hate to see you become totally shoved to one side during a presidential campaign as an active partisan selling a book."

Clarke's response was, "Let me talk about partisanship here... let's just lay that one to bed. I'm not working for the Kerry campaign. Last time I had to declare my party loyalty, it was to vote in the Virginia primary for president of the United States in the year 2000. And I asked for a Republican ballot."

At the time, watching it live, I wondered why he didn't just say he voted for Bush since that's clearly the impression he intended to give, but concluded that this was simply meant as a rhetorically dramatic way to say the same thing. I was surprised then today, four days later, to hear Tim Russert ask Clarke after the final commercial break, "And we're back. Did you vote for George Bush in 2000?" Clarke's swift and surprising answer was, "No, I did not." Russert: "You voted for Al Gore." Clarke: "Yes, I did."

Wow. Bombshell! A career public servant who, despite claiming to be a registered Republican still votes for Al Gore, sees the election go to the other candidate after a contested outcome in Florida, opposed any military action in Iraq from the beginning to the end and has resigned his government career forever - Active partisan selling a book.

All of this discussion about what actions were taken before various terror attacks and whether it was "enough" or not are of negligible importance compared to the questions everyone should be asking: What actions did the two administrations take after those terror attacks? Which attacks were not followed by more of the same, and did America's prior responses have any bearing on repeat attacks that did, or did not, occur? As Rush Limbaugh said on Friday, "Sometimes a cowboy has to take action because the sherriff is corrupt."

UPDATE 1: Drudge reports Clarke 'to earn over $1 million for book.' Also, Leslie Stahl admits that most of the email to 60 Minutes regarding the Clarke interview last week was critical of the segment, of Clarke, and of 60 Minutes.

UPDATE 2: Cox & Forkum posted a new cartoon today that beautifully illustrates the true nature of what Kerry and Co. describe as "Bush's negative attacks."

Posted by JohnGalt at 11:41 AM | What do you think? [0]

March 27, 2004

Making America Secure Again - Kerry Style

Since JK has personally sworn off "demonization" of JFK (with the laudable but entirely unrealistic goal of keeping discussion about the election rational) it's now my responsibility to journal whatever information we learn about the would-be POTUS that might in any way be characterized as a "negative attack."

Let's consider once again JFK's war record. The media attention here has faded and the extent of residual public consensus is likely that Kerry was in-country during the Vietnam war while Bush was stateside, and that Kerry was injured in battle and awarded medals while Bush was neither. If so then the Kerry campaign has won the first battle in the war for the White House, and in sad fashion since there's much more to the story.


In late February, former assistant secretary of defense and Fletcher School of Diplomacy professor W. Scott Thompson related to the New York Sun a conversation he'd had with the late Admiral Elmo Zumwalt Jr., notable because the admiral personally pinned a Silver Star on Kerry.

“[T]he fabled and distinguished chief of naval operations,Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, told me — 30 years ago when he was still CNO —that during his own command of U.S. naval forces in Vietnam, just prior to his anointment as CNO, young Kerry had created great problems for him and the other top brass,by killing so many non-combatant civilians and going after other non-military targets.‘We had virtually to straitjacket him to keep him under control,’ the admiral said. ‘Bud’ Zumwalt got it right when he assessed Kerry as having large ambitions — but promised that his career in Vietnam would haunt him if he were ever on the national stage.”

Suppose Kerry, an unabashed admirer of J.F. Kennedy, joined the navy and requested patrol boat duty with the aim of manufacturing his own "war hero" reputation in the image of the original JFK. (The combat experience of the former President certainly translated into political capital for him, after all.) If his exploits and travails were staged or embellished rather than consequential to "just doin' his job," would this matter to anyone who judges a man's fitness for leadership by the content of his character? Don't we look differently at a man who heroically rescues potential victims from a burning building after we learn the same man started the fire?

The same Sun article characterizes some of Kerry's combat experiences:

"Mr. Kerry was assigned to Swiftboat 44 on December 1, 1968. Within 24 hours, he had his first Purple Heart. Mr. Kerry accumulated three Purple Hearts in four months with not even a day of duty lost from wounds, according to his training officer. It’s a pity one cannot read his Purple Heart medical treatment reports which have been withheld from the public. The only person preventing their release is Mr. Kerry.

By his own admission during those four months, Mr. Kerry continually kept ramming his Swiftboat onto an enemy-held shore on assorted occasions alone and with a few men, killing civilians and even a wounded enemy soldier. One can begin to appreciate Zumwalt’s problem with Mr. Kerry as commander of an unarmored craft dependent upon speed of maneuver to keep it and its crew from being shot to pieces.

Mr. Kerry now refers to those civilian deaths as “accidents of war.”And within four days of his third Purple Heart, Mr. Kerry applied to take advantage of a technicality which allowed him to request immediate transfer to a stateside post."

All of this is consistent with Kerry's own version of events chronicled on his campaign website, although in somewhat more glowing terminology. If JFK is truly as proud of his record as he postures he should not block the release of details about it. He should reply to questions about his action in combat by dryly retelling the events in minute detail. Alternately, he reacts with the very "negative attack" strategy he tries so assiduously to pin upon the Bush campaign by discussing service in the National Guard in the same breath and with equal regard as "avoiding the draft, ...going to Canada, being a conscientious objector." His are the traits of a man with something to hide. Obscuring his past is also a hallmark of the man who chooses the second-hand life, deriving his success, comfort and false-happiness from the achievements of others. The "good" Mr. Kerry made this choice fully, in both his professional and private life.

But enough about his personal character, we want to discuss JFK's policies for the "advancement of America." A WorldNetDaily article summarizes Kerry's address to the Council on Foreign Relations. It asserts that Kerry would abandon terror war, but alas, he's probably also claimed he would continue it. Oops, there I go again with that "demonization" bit!

Posted by JohnGalt at 10:11 PM | What do you think? [3]

March 26, 2004

Great Speech!

The President sometimes hides it too well, but the heart of a free trader beats inside him. Check out this great speech: Opening New Markets for America's Small Businesses

It's long but it's great -- I'll give away the ending:

The economy is vibrant today. There are still people who hurt and looking for work, and that's why we've got to think about pro-growth, pro-entrepreneurial policies. We've got to be confident. But think about this: We sell computer chips to Japan. We produce BMWs in Greer, South Carolina for export to Germany. We're exporting California wine to France. (Laughter.) And we're selling Mexican food to Mexico. (Applause.)

The role of government is to get policies in place that encourage growth, that enhance the spirit of ownership and rely upon the American people. It's a safe bet when we get the policies right, things will be great here in America, because -- you know why? The American people are great. This country is full -- (applause.) Our country is full of people who can rise to the challenge. Many people want to own something, and therefore, are willing to work for it; responsible, honorable, decent citizens who love their family, love their communities, and love their country. And it's a privilege to be the President of such a grand nation.

Have a great weekend, and NED Bless America...

Posted by jk at 05:15 PM | What do you think? [0]

Teachers Declining?

Virginia Postrel has a great article in the NYTimes, Economic Scene: Getting the Most Out of the Nation's Teachers

She reviews research into the following suggestion:

PUBLIC-SCHOOL teachers just aren't as smart as they used to be. After all, women have more job opportunities. Bright women who once would have taught school today become doctors and lawyers. The gain for individual women is a loss for education.

A theory I had not considered.
Or so many people believe. The story is plausible, but is it true? As a Ph.D. student at the University of Maryland, the economist Sean P. Corcoran wondered just that. "The more I started to think about it, the more I started to think that it wasn't really a given that teacher quality has fallen over time," he said in an interview.

It is interesting to follow the research, the assumptions and the stats -- as well as the findings. I would encourage a read (requires registration with the Times but it is free).

Okay, I'll give away the ending: It's (mirabile dictu!) the unions' fault! Seriously, compression of pay is seen to chase the elite out of the profession more than a low mean pay level.

Posted by jk at 04:56 PM | What do you think? [0]

#11 -- with a bullet!

I know, I'm boring you with Telecom deregulation when you're jonesing for an exegesis on comparative advantage.

The WSJ Ed Page reminds us, in The Telecom Follies why we rank eleventh in broadband Internet access adoption:

Our concern is with an Administration leaving in place what is essentially an Al Gore-Reed Hundt industrial policy that allows government bureaucrats to slice up the information technology pie.

In case no one in Washington has noticed, the largely unregulated and hence highly competitive wireless industry is flourishing. Meanwhile the broadband market has been left to the devices of state and local officials who have proceeded to regulate it into something close to inertia, at least by international standards. Wholesale prices have been set so low that incumbent carriers have little incentive to upgrade old networks, let alone build new ones.

Picking winners and losers and setting prices that discourage innovation come naturally to Democrats. But Republicans claim to believe it's better to leave these matters to the free-market. What the economy needs right now is an all-clear signal for telecom, some indication that the big court battles are over. Instead, the White House continues to look the appellate court's latest gift horse in the mouth -- to the detriment of the economy, and perhaps to its own political future.

Posted by jk at 09:53 AM | What do you think? [0]

Not Quite Clear on the Concept

On a bus ad in Boulder:
"Stick with the Specialists -- we do everything!"
I forgot who the miscreant company is: Auto Parts I think.

Posted by jk at 08:43 AM | What do you think? [0]

March 25, 2004

Penguins in the Desert

Get rid of Saddam, move on to...Linux?

Seriously, the good people at the Freedom Technology Center and BookCrossing are collecting and shipping computer books to the Linux Users Group of Iraq.

Donate an extra copy of a good computer book to help Linux and free software education in Iraq. You bring the books, and we'll ship them! Money donations are also welcome. Thanks to our sponsor BookCrossing for supporting the event.

Give 'em some money. Give 'em some money!
Hat tip: Instapundit!

Posted by jk at 01:09 PM | What do you think? [0]

Blow Harder Gales!

I played around with the Wal-Mart Music service a little. Eight-eight cents a song, you get a protected WMA file that will play in Windows Media Player 9, can be burned to ten CDs and can be copied onto two other computers. The selection seemed pretty decent to me, I had no problem spending $15 on tracks to try it out.

I do not steal music. I try to sell music myself – plus most of the artists that I like are not making millions and really need my patronage to continue. As an economist, I know when I buy something, sellers will give me more of it. I want to legally own every file on my mp3 player.

At the same time, the protection schemes chase me away. I purchased tunes on Apple’s iTunes because the hackers are out front of the curve and I can port their .m4p files into plain old vanilla mp3s. The hackers have not yet cracked the WMA DRM, although with either of them you can burn a CD and then rip the CD to mp3. Some loss in quality (I can’t hear it) and some extra typing, and you have an mp3 that you can do nefarious things with.

So, they provide a method for people to steal. Ergo, the protection scheme is worthless – but they do make it a nuisance for legal users (they are called “customers” in some industries). I cannot put my Wal-Mart files on my wonderful RCA RD2840 mp3 player. If the computer I bought it on is replaced or dies, I cannot download them again, after I replace my computer twice, I cannot use these files.

I will honor your property rights, publishers. I already do. You have to honor my property rights and allow me to really own and use the license I have purchased.

If the restrictions are reduced more people will certainly steal – but, but, but – many more will buy. The RIAA is petrified of “Schumpeterian gales of creative destruction.” In reality they can resell their entire catalogs in a new format with very low overhead.

Posted by jk at 09:59 AM | What do you think? [0]

March 24, 2004

The Truth About 3/11

The day after 3/11 JK and I discussed how "We are all Spaniards" and that Spain, under Aznar's leadership, "fights with conviction against militant Islamic theocrats who are a threat to every freedom-loving person on earth and not just the "imperialist-zionist coalition" (as the French and North Koreans apparently believe)." I also condemned their subsequent election of a Socialist Prime Minister who promised to withdraw troops from Iraq as a surrender to terrorists.

In today's WSJ Mr. Aznar echoes these points and adds an unexpected historical perspective:

"In the entire course of my political life, and especially during the eight years in which I have been prime minister, I have said that terrorism is not a local phenomenon, confined to particular areas or countries, to be confronted with domestic means alone. On the contrary, terrorism is a global phenomenon, one that crosses borders. And it gains in strength when we think that it is the problem of "others" and should be taken care of by "others."

The debates that followed the Madrid attacks have been about whether they were carried out by ETA or al Qaeda. It is obviously essential to find out who was behind the attacks. But all terrorism carries the same threat; all terrorist attacks are infused with hatred for liberty, democracy and human dignity. They feed on each other.

Up until the attacks of September 11, Spain took great pains to demonstrate to the outside world that terrorism was not an isolated phenomenon, that it shouldn't be fought by its immediate victims alone. Following the collapse of the Twin Towers, a new consciousness about the world-wide reach of terrorism finally emerged.

ETA or al Qaeda--the difference is important, to be sure, but the response to what has happened should be the same: firmness, political unity and international cooperation. Each and every democrat in the world was on those trains in Madrid. It has been an attack against all of us, against everything we believe in, and against everything we have built."

So we in America also bear some responsibility for allowing ETA terrorism to hold sway in Spain (and Palestinian terrorism in Israel and FARC terrorism in Columbia or muslim terrorism in Chechnya) without so much as even a condemnation of their campaigns. Sure, we denounced their violent means, but never did we aid in the war against them, or even make a value judgment against them as we have done against al Qaeda. Shamefully, at least in the case of Palestinian terrorism, we still haven't. More shameful still, slightly more than half of Spanish voters have reversed their nation's policy of agressive self-defense. Nevertheless, liberty and justice will ultimately prevail - the only question is how many needless innocent victims will pave the way.

Posted by JohnGalt at 11:46 AM | What do you think? [1]

Bad News for the Anti-globalization crowd

I got this "sponsored link" in a Yahoo Search for "Wal-Mart music"

Buy Books Online at Barnes & Noble Buy "Slam Dunking Wal Mart How You Can Stop Superstore Sprawl in Your Hometown" by Al Norman at Barnes & Noble, your one-stop shop on the web for books, movies, music and more.
www.barnesandnoble.com

Then stop by Home Depot for all your anti-superstore picket sign needs! Don't forget kids, our next meeting will be at Starbucks this Thursday!


Posted by jk at 11:30 AM | What do you think? [1]

Homage to Frederic Bastiat

No secret that I am a big fan of Frederic Bastiat. I read "The Law" for an Economics class at YorktownUniversity.com (Rah! Rah! Free Persons -- Beat the Jacobins!). I have been hooked ever since, more's the pity that his native France did not take his advice.

Brian Micklethwait at Samizdata quotes at length from "The Law" in a great homage, Frédéric Bastiat looks at the entire world

And does not experience prove this? Look at the entire world. Which countries contain the most peaceful, the most moral, and the happiest people? Those people are found in the countries where the law least interferes with private affairs; where government is least felt; where the individual has the greatest scope, and free opinion the greatest influence; where administrative powers are fewest and simplest; where taxes are lightest and most nearly equal, and popular discontent the least excited and the least justifiable; where individuals and groups most actively assume their responsibilities, and, consequently where the morals of admittedly imperfect human beings are constantly improving; where trade, assemblies, and associations are the least restricted; where labour, capital, and populations suffer the fewest forced displacements; where mankind most nearly follows its own natural inclinations; where the inventions of men are most nearly in harmony with the laws of God; in short, the happiest, most moral, and most peaceful people are those who most nearly follow this principle: although mankind is not perfect, still, all hope rests upon the free and voluntary actions of persons within the limits of right; law or force is to be used for nothing except the administration of universal justice.

If any one writer encapsulates my beliefs more comprehensively and less succinctly, I have not yet encountered him/her.

Posted by jk at 10:58 AM | What do you think? [1]

Insourcing

Walter Wriston writes in Wall Street Journal this Wednesday (sounds like a Wallace & Gromit episode) "Ever Heard of Insourcing?"

The balance of jobs we import from abroad greatly exceeds the jobs we export abroad. Every time a foreign company decides to build a plant or opens an office in the U.S., Americans are put to work to man these facilities. Examples abound. Honda increased its U.S. manufacturing last year by 15%. And it is not only manufacturing that is attracted to our shores, but also intellectual capital. Novartis is moving its huge world-wide research and development operation from Switzerland to Massachusetts. Texas is the beneficiary of a $500 million investment from Samsung to build a new semiconductor plant. In some cases -- described in this paper recently as "the second wave of Nafta" -- Mexico is now able to invest abroad, and that investment is creating "thousands of jobs" for U.S. workers. Many countries with ample capital have poured a steady stream of job-creating investment into the U.S.

Well yes, I have. I work for a US Subsidiary of an Irish company with Irish and U.K. investors (none of whom support this blog materially or ideologically).

It's all wealth creation from the free movement of capital, labor, goods, and services. But the former Citibank CEO makes another good point n his lede:

For better or for worse, we all live in Marshall McLuhan's "global village" and Chicken Little runs through our living room on every hourly newscast. This does not mean that there are not real problems in the world. There are. What is relatively new is that today one politician can command coast-to-coast attention by repeating some assertion over and over -- a power not given to an absolute monarch a few years ago.

Posted by jk at 10:00 AM | What do you think? [0]

About Those Protests...

daybyday03-24-2004.gif
Day By Day is always available on the Berkeley Square Blogroll.

Posted by jk at 09:46 AM | What do you think? [0]

Two Kinds of Democrats

In a comment to an earlier blog I posited there are only two kinds of Democrats: "One is the dyed-in-the-wool wealth redistributing socialist, and the other simply favors individual liberty and fears laws imposing "thou shalt not" religious morality by the NED-fearing right." JK agreed, but suggested there was a "third way" Democrat, namely the "I hate Bush" faction. Here is my evidence that the "I hate Bush" and "dyed-in-the-wool wealth redistributing socialist" factions are one and the same:

Bush Antichrist.bmp

(From the excellent photojournalism of L.G.F.'s "Zombie," as linked by JK. We should all be frequently reminded, as Zombie said, "People not from the San Francisco Bay Area often think that, when we say such-and-such person or group is "Communist," we're being metaphorical, or McCarthyites. Far from it. Overt Communists and Marxists are commonplace around the Bay Area, especially at rallies like this.")

Posted by JohnGalt at 08:16 AM | What do you think? [1]

March 23, 2004

The Demise of the LP

David Hajdu at TNR asks "Is the album dying?"

I've been thinking of that a lot lately. I like the "album." The package. The tune selection: hit(s), a few weak numbers, and a few that aren't hits but become my favorites. Forty minutes or so of music to explore an artist. The set of tunes they wanted you to have. Old fogeyism?

Berkeley Square is recording its second CD. It will be album-length. And it will have artwork (cool advance for blog readers: Chris Muir or Day by Day has drawn an illustration for the cover, peek here). Maybe I am old but I think of releasing works in album-lengths.

On the other hand, Wal-Mart has joined the legal purveyors of digital music. The album is dead.

I love digital music -- audiophiles live to whine but a high bandwidth mp3 is plenty good for these slightly damaged ears. I figure I lost the part that "hears" compression in about 1978, when I decided I needed a second Marshall(r) stack.

But I digress. I have a 40GB RCA Lyra that holds all of my 1000+ CDs. On the plane, in the car, at a hotel room. All my tunes. That is cool.

But I still miss the album. David Hajdu nails it in The iPod Blues:

Everyone knows how the long-playing record established a new format for popular music, giving artists (and their producers) more room to explore, whether in compositions of a greater range of lengths or through the creative selection and juxtaposition of songs. Invented by a music-loving engineer named Peter Goldmark, who could no longer abide what records like the ones in my aunt's garage were doing to Beethoven, the LP found its creative identity in pop music, where its function was not passively replicative but stirringly formative. In the classical realm, the most an LP could achieve was to approximate the sound of musicians interpreting a composition; in pop the LP created the album, which became an art form. The LP facilitated a new kind of adventurism in popular music and advanced the idea of collage as a popular aural art.

No, I'm not whining. I'm a student of Schumpeter and will accept this creative destruction. Yet, something creative is being destroyed. Maybe the business model will develop somehow to capture this concept maybe not.

Posted by jk at 04:16 PM | What do you think? [0]

If you missed the rallies

Zombie, from Little Green Footballs, has some pictures for you. It was hard to pick one. Lileks showed the "I Love NY more without the Trade Center" but you have to see some of these to believe them.
support_un.jpg
UPDATE: Alex at Pstupidonymous has some good ones as well.

Posted by jk at 10:54 AM | What do you think? [0]

March 19, 2004

Andrew Sullivan

I know from reading his blog every day that Andrew Sullivan sees the same problems with Senator Kerry that I do. Yet, he still plays hard-to-get with the GOP in 2004:

Sometimes, a Democrat has to be tougher than a Republican in this area - if only to credentialize himself. I can certainly conceive of Richard Holbrooke being a tougher secretary of state than Colin Powell. I'm not yet convinced and want to hear much more from Kerry. But I'm persuadable. Four more years of religious-right social policy and Nixonian fiscal policy is not something I really want to support.

I know I am too partisan on Kerry. Maybe the bumper-stickers are bad. I meant it when I said that the Dem picked one of the best out their (possibly shallow?) bench. Senator Kerry is a good man. He's certainly smart. I will give him points for his service in Vietnam.

Any of my Democratic buddies who want to vote for him, go right ahead. You think the war was wrong, you think the USA should work more closely with the UN, you think the tax cuts were wrong or too big or not progressive enough, go ahead, pull the D next November if you must.

But Andrew, Andrew, Andrew -- you don't believe these things. You want to vote against President Bush because he doesn't support Gay Marriage? Because his domestic spending is too high? For the record, I agree with you on both, but a Kerry Presidency is not the answer.

He might be marginally more sympathetic to gay 0rights but I do not see a legislative difference. You are worried that THE SAME COUNTY THAT LAUNCHED THE SCOPES TRIAL is trying to pass some goofy legislation.

In a way, W might even be better. In a second term, I can't see President Bush's pushing an anti-gay agenda. He plays to the base a little but I don't think his heart is in it. The FMA is DOA, I'm not worried about it. I know Andrew is, but the Senate can't confirm a judge -- a controversial Constitutional amendment is not in the cards.

Spending? Fiscal conservativism? Kerry's proposed tax hikes will hurt revenues and his only contribution to spending restraint will be gridlock with a Republican legislative branch.

Lastly, Senator Kerry "might not be soft" on Terrorism. Is that good enough for you? Listening to his speeches, do you think we will be safer under a Kerry administration? Come home, Andrew. Ignore the factions that scare you, they have no real power.

Posted by jk at 11:59 AM | What do you think? [15]

About those jobs...

Johngalt points out a WSJ Editorial from the other day on "outsourcing." Most of "The Jobs Muddle" is too depressing for a free-trader to read. Senators Dodd, Daschle, Kennedy and Kerry all have legislation pending that will doink with the invisible hand and free movement of capital and labor that make our world wealthy. Sadder still, 25 Republican Senators are joining in the destruction.

A sidebar is interesting in another context. US Bureau of Labor stats compare the economies after four years of President Clinton and President Bush:

JOBS AND PRESIDENTS
Comparing Bush and Clinton after four years 19962004
Unemployment Rate5.5%5.6%
U-6 Unemployment Rate *10.0%9.6%
Initial Claims (4-week moving avg.)377,000 352,500
Continuing Claims (4-week moving avg.)2.7 million3.1 million
*includes marginally attached workers (discouraged workers plus others) and those working part-time for economic reasons. Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
"The worst since Hoover," huh? Well, once all this legislation passes, I'm sure we'll give the Smoot-Hawley days a run for the money...
Posted by jk at 09:19 AM | What do you think? [1]

March 18, 2004

Fiasco? Disaster?

Holman Jenkins, Jr. addresses the Kerry-Cheney disagreement in today's Political Diary (best $3.95 a month you can spend, folks!)

Mr. Kerry calls the Iraq occupation a "failed policy." The newly elected Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero calls it a "fiasco." Huh? Anyone with a detached view of events will mainly wonder how two such dopes managed to achieve their positions of present eminence.

Iraq's oil production is already above its pre-war levels. Iraq's economy is stronger than it was pre-war through U.S. and international aid spending and Iraqi entrepreneurship. Mr. Kerry and Mr. Zapatero's remarks come as two major news organizations, ABC News and the BBC, have issued results of the most far-reaching poll yet of Iraqis. Their survey concludes that an overwhelmingly number are optimistic about the future, and even about their present condition. Only 19% of Iraqis say life has gotten worse since the war.

[...] Bad news can be found in abundance, especially because now somebody is there to cover it. But what Mr. Zapatero ignorantly calls a fiasco is a country where no new mass graves are being manufactured, where Iraqis who incur the wrath of Saddam or his sons are not being tortured to death in the basements of office blocks.


The one-year anniversary is tomorrow. Forget Kerry's flip-flops and the President's less-than-Sterling record on domestic spending and free trade. This is the issue: the war was right; waiting for France and the UN thugs to come along was wrong -- let's vote.

Posted by jk at 01:27 PM | What do you think? [0]

Caper-Eating Surrender Monkeys

I just love to quote Dennis Miller rants. He says what I want to say, but with a prodigious amount of humor. JK and I recently expressed sympathy and solidarity with the people of Spain in the wake of cowardly terror attacks against their capitol city, only to be stunned by the Kerryesque flip flop in their anti-terror strategy: Elect socialist terror-apologists who claim to believe an international coalition of Neville Chamberlains can smoke the peace pipe with people who say "You love life, we love death." Dennis shares my dismay...

"Let's cut to the chase with a message to my many fans in Spain. First of all, the heart of every American goes out to you for what happened in Madrid. Our country has been there. But now, mis amigos, it is time for you to go to your national museum, check your history, and re-find your balls. You're not France, you're Spain! Three hundred ninety million people around the world habla espanol and they didn't learn it from the Taco Bell chihuahua. Four hundred years ago the scariest word on the street from Alaska to Guam was Conquistador. Those cats would show up, kill the local bad-ass, and give everyone else three hours to learn Spanish and join team Ferdinand and Isabela or wind up hanging upside down from a palm tree. Cortez knocked over Mexico with six hundred guys and a bad temper! I know your fastball isn't what it used to be but I also know that there's no quicker way in the world to meet senor stiletto than to wink at the wrong guy's wife in any badego north of ninety-sixth street. So let me put it this way - al Quaeda has just pinched your sister's ass. In your heart, you know what you need to do. It's inquisition time. So get back in the game and let's make each other proud again."

Posted by JohnGalt at 12:28 AM | What do you think? [2]

March 17, 2004

Kerry on Spain

The Lead editorial in the Wall Street Journal today takes the Senator to task for failing to artiulate a vision on National defense:

Here is what Mr. Kerry did say about Spain in a speech Monday to a firefighters union. We quote in full: "I think this Administration has it backwards. President Bush says we can't afford to fund homeland security. I say we can't afford not to. When it comes to protecting America from terrorism, this Administration is big on bluster and short on action. But as we saw again last week in Spain--real action is what we need. The Bush Administration is tinkering while the clock on homeland security is ticking. And we don't have a moment to waste." Mr. Kerry then renewed his call for the federal government to hire 100,000 new firefighters.

That's it. That's the sole reference in the speech to what is arguably the largest setback in the war on terror since 9/11. Instead of addressing the issues at stake in Iraq, his instinct was to dodge them. Instead of conviction, there was the whiff of opportunism. Senator Kerry placed Spanish events not in the context of U.S. foreign policy but of American homeland security--as if the main lesson of Madrid is that we must better protect our railways.


This is the "defense" argument made below

Posted by jk at 01:22 PM | What do you think? [0]

Frogman's Bumper Stickers

The Dissident Frogman has created four EXCELLENT bumper stickers! His site advises that he is "[...] currently looking into ways to print and sale these as bumper stickers in the US. Stay tuned."

We're tuned, Monsieur! I will email him to ascertain that he doesn't mind my posting these, but I couldn't refrain from sharing:















Other movies, nifty graphics and opinion material from the frogman are here.


Posted by jk at 12:20 PM | What do you think? [0]

March 16, 2004

Globalization

A little fun in some dark days. I can barely read the blogs and news after the Spanish terrorist attacks and elections. But my leftest-wingest friend in the whole world sends a fun piece along:

Question: What is the truest definition of Globalization?

Answer: Princess Diana's death.

Question: How come?

Answer: An English princess
with an Egyptian boyfriend
crashes in a French tunnel,
driving a German car
with a Dutch engine,
driven by a Belgian who was drunk
on Scottish whisky,
followed closely by Italian Paparazzi,
on Japanese motorcycles;
treated by an American doctor,
using Brazilian medicines.
This is sent to you by an American,
using Bill Gates's technology,
and you're probably reading this on your computer,
that uses Taiwanese chips,
and a Korean monitor,
assembled by Bangladeshi workers
in a Singapore plant,
transported by Indian truck drivers,
hijacked by Indonesians,
unloaded by Sicilian longshoremen,
and trucked to you by Mexican illegals.....
That, my friends, is Globalization.

Posted by jk at 03:11 PM | What do you think? [0]

But I thought Iraq was a disaster?

A knight-Ridder story says "Iraqi business begins to boom."

BAGHDAD, Iraq _ Pepsi is rebuilding its old bottling plant. Mitsubishi is planning a new car dealership. A Kuwaiti firm envisions a $500 million hotel and shopping complex in the heart of Baghdad.
Nearly a year after bombs, tanks and looters wrought devastation on Iraq's already awful economy, the country is teeming with commerce, real and anticipated. Stores are filled with new products, foreign investors are circling, and unemployment _ while painfully high _ has fallen by half.
"It may not be palpable, but Iraq is booming," said Maria Khoury, chief of research for Atlas Investment Group, a Jordanian investment bank. "We're seeing a big increase in consumer goods flowing into the country."

As Instapundit says, "One good thing about Saddam's policy of inept kleptocracy is that it makes it easy to improve!"

Posted by jk at 01:50 PM | What do you think? [0]

John Kerry on Defense

Bill Hobbs dissects the language of a speech from Senator Kerry. It's hard to argue with his conclusion :

John Kerry gave a speech and issued a press release yesterday outlining his approach to the War on Terror. It's filled with the language of playing defense, rather than offense, which is to say, the language of defeatism and cowardice and resignation in the face of mass murder.

If I am President, we will work toward victory in the War on Terror knowing that those on the frontlines of this battle are heroes, not political props. The needs of our first defenders must never be left for last. ...

We will reduce the spread of nuclear and biological and chemical weapons and better guard our ports. We will provide frontline defenders with the gear and communications equipments and intelligence they need. We will make sure our public health system is ready for whatever comes its way. ..


"Defenders," "responders," "ready for whatever comes its way" "better guard our ports." This is President Carter lingo. We're going to try to be ready and after they hit us we'll have a plan. It represents a clear difference from the Bush Doctrine, and we get a vote.

Posted by jk at 11:57 AM | What do you think? [0]

March 15, 2004

The GOP and Immagration

Jason Riley hits a home run in the Wall Street Journal today, titled "GOP Nativists Tarnish Reagan's 'Shining City'" (paid site only, sorry!)

Just what is it about immigration that makes so many conservatives lose their bearings?

Broach the subject, as President Bush did in January with his guest-worker initiative for illegal aliens, and free-market advocates start forgetting principles. (Flexible labor markets? What use are those?) Self-styled realists start fantasizing. (Let's just deport all 10 million of 'em, Elian-style!) And colorblind sensibilities are suspended. (White hegemony, where have you gone?) Suggest that immigration, legal or otherwise, not only is in the American tradition but a net benefit to our economy besides, and watch the editors at National Review and the pseudo-populists at Fox News come unhinged.


He then enumerates the electoral failures and economic pitfalls of alignment with the "close the borders" crowd.
Our current illegal immigration problems result from a policy at war with the law of supply and demand, a war that pro-growth conservatives understand is as unwise as it is unnecessary. Short of mass alien deportations at gunpoint, which would damage the economy and aren't likely to fly well with the public, any transition to a more sensible system will involve some sort of decriminalization.

And the president is attempting to do just that -- bring some sense to the system. Post-9/11, a guest-worker program that invites illegals to join the above-ground economy only makes us safer. It means less time chasing workers essential to our economic well-being and more time sorting through genuine terror risks.

Foreigners have always served to enrich our culture, replenish our work force, keep us competitive globally and save us from heading where stagnant, immigrant-averse Europeans and Asians have already arrived. In the coming decades, a proper immigration policy will be needed more than ever. The sooner Republicans settle this intraparty spat and start listening to their inner-Reagan, the better off they'll be.


Sign up. give Dow Jones the money, and read the whole thing.

Posted by jk at 10:38 AM | What do you think? [0]

Papa Wins

Orwell loses.

What a blow for the advancement of freedom.

Spain was pulling herself out of the stupor of centuries of bad government. Aznar was a friend to the US and a friend to freedom.

The Socialists Vow to Pull Soldiers Out of Iraq:

The leader of Spain's victorious Socialists said Monday he will withdraw his nation's support for the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq (news - web sites), restating a campaign promise a day after his party won elections overshadowed by terrorist bombings.

That is bad. Worse is that the Socialists will no doubt pull the country back from modernity, economic freedom and its concomitant dynamism.

That's bad and worse. Worst is the HUGE victory this is for Islamofacists. Kill some people a few days before the election and successfully turn staunch defenders of freedom out of office. It's horrible to say, but we will vote for Senator Kerry if a thousand die in late October? It could easily turn Blair out of Britain.

Then they can resume operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, pulling a political victory out of a stunning military defeat.

Posted by jk at 08:54 AM | What do you think? [1]

March 14, 2004

Insider Trading, Business Ethics, and Capitalistic Ideals

My post on March 7th about Martha Stewart's entrapment associated with the unjust laws against insider trading did not prompt much discussion on these pages. This surprises me since it has precipitated a firestorm of debate - or more accurately, chest thumping and table pounding - among my family members about the justifications for insider trading laws. My arguments in the blog and in private emails were obviously unpersuasive to them, although none of them have taken the tack of posting a measured and reasonable rebuttal to my blog.

Another outcome of this clash of opinions was the presentation to me by family members of several newspaper columns discussing these issues. A notable one was 'Plain and Simple, Stewart Cheated.' Rob Reuteman (business editor of the Rocky Mountain News, a graduate of the University of Wisconsin and has a master's degree in journalism from the University of Colorado) spins out in newsprint some popular misconceptions and reinforces the attendant pop mythology. For example, of Waksal and Stewart he says, "She knew the negative news was coming because she was friends with the company's founder, who is now in jail for a long time for acting similarly [selling shares in the company.] They dumped their stock and left the mess with average investors like me and you. That's not how the game is supposed to be played, and she knew it."

So apparently it is only acceptable to Mr. Rueteman if insiders or their associates sell their stock when they expect it to rise in value (or alternately, if they are genuinely clueless about its future worth). What kind of idiocy is this!? (Collectivist egalitarian altruism idiocy, to answer my own rhetorical question.) If that's the kind of "game" that he wants to play then I, and I suspect most all of the productive businessmen who take great risks to start and run the companies that fuel our economy, don't want to play along.

Another perspective on this topic can be found in Chapter 9 of Ayn Rand's important but overlooked book 'Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal." The chapter, entitled, 'The Assault on Integrity' was written by our current Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan and begins thusly: "Protection of the consumer against "dishonest and unscrupulous business practices" has become a cardinal ingredient of welfare statism." He goes on to make the case that the best and indeed the only reliable method of protecting consumers is the reputation of individual businesses and businessmen for quality, honesty and integrity. Government regulation, he says, actually destroys these values because they are no longer required when the government "guarantees" the quality, honesty and integrity of corporations and their products.

"Government regulation is not an alternative means of protecting the consumer. It does not build quality into goods, or accuracy into information. Its sole "contribution" is to substitute force and fear for incentive as the "protector" of the consumer. The euphemisms of government press releases to the contrary notwithstanding, the basis of regulation is armed force. At the bottom of the endless pile of paper work which characterizes all regulation lies a gun. What are the results?

To paraphrase Gresham's Law: bad "protection" drives out good. The attempt to protect the consumer by force undercuts the protection he gets from incentive. First, it undercuts the value of reputation by placing the reputable company on the same basis as the unknown, the newcomer, or the fly-by-nighter. It declares, in effect, that all are equally suspect and that years of evidence to the contrary do not free a man from that suspicion. Second, it grants an automatic (though, in fact, unachievable) guarantee of safety to the products of any company that complies with its aribitrarily set minimum standards."

Regarding government regulators he says, "The guiding purpose of the government regulator is to prevent rather than to create something. He gets no credit if a new miraculous drug is discovered by drug company scientists; he does if he bans thalidomide."

Regarding the effects of governmental regulation he says, "Government regulations do not eliminate potentially dishonest individuals, but merely make their activities harder to detect or easier to hush up. Furthermore, the possibility of individual dishonesty applies to government employees fully as much as to any other group of men. There is nothing to guarantee the superior judgment, knowledge, and integrity of an inspector or a bureaucrat - and the deadly consequences of entrusting him with arbitrary power are obvious."

Indeed, suppose a low-level bureaucrat "little guy" investor in the FDA owns Imclone stock and sells on the inside knowledge of Irbitux's denied approval. Does anyone honestly believe that particular "insider" would be prosecuted to the full extent, if at all? Worse yet, suppose a mid or high level bureaucrat intentionally scuttles approval of a drug he knows to be safe and has his broker short the issue, and then buys to cover shortly before its ultimate approval thereby making a killing. There are no procedures in place to detect such a thing because the government, after all, is there only to protect us.

Greenspan concludes, "It is this superlatively moral system [free-market capitalism] that statists propose to improve upon by means of preventive law, snooping bureaucrats, and the chronic goad of fear."

Posted by JohnGalt at 12:30 PM | What do you think? [2]

March 12, 2004

Fair Trade Coffee

Where economics and coffee meet, Berkeley Square Blog will be there!

Alex Singleton at Samizdata puts the cold light of reason on "fair trade coffee." Not surprisingly, this quaint little liberal custom is harmful to those it aims to protect.

For a start, we should be realistic about the scheme's potential. In Britain, despite ten years of advertising, 97% of coffee sold is not on the scheme. Most consumers are likely to continue buying coffee according to cost and quality. Its potential for increasing wealth among coffee producers is thus extremely limited. Some argue that the scheme is taking us away from thinking about more radical solutions to poverty.

Secondly, the real problem with 'fair trade' is that it is based on economic illiteracy. The low price of coffee is caused by production increasing by 15% since 1990, and supply is bigger than demand. This cannot be blamed on multinational buyers of coffee. There are simply too many people employed in coffee production. With new technology, the price may well decline further. In Brazil, five people and a machine can do the work of 500 people in Guatemala. The low coffee prices are a signal to exit the market, or switch up to higher valye coffee.

'Fair trade' - though it helps some farmers - encourages people to stay in the coffee market and gives them confidence to increase production. That is all very well, but this has a downside. More supply means a lower price on the world markets. Perversely, 'fair trade' makes matters worse for the vast majority coffee producers.

Posted by jk at 04:31 PM | What do you think? [0]

So what can he say?

WaPo screams: "New Bush Ad Assails Kerry on Taxes, War" in a front page story today.

Just one week after launching a wave of positive commercials, President Bush went on the attack with a new ad yesterday, charging that Democratic challenger John F. Kerry would "raise taxes by at least $900 billion" and weaken the country's response to terrorism and ability to go to war.

"John Kerry -- wrong on taxes, wrong on defense," says the ad, which begins airing today in 18 battleground states.
Kerry campaign officials, vowing to let no attack go unanswered, immediately began cutting a response ad for airing today. The commercial will deny any such proposed tax plan and remind viewers that Kerry wants to cut taxes for the middle class, the aides said.

I have seen these ads and their tone does not comport with the hand-wringing they've caused. Jut like the ground-zero contretemps, I guess all the Bush ads should just highlight how swell Senator Kerry is.

I'm not a history wiz, but my favorite time is the Jefferson administration when partisanship reared its "ugly" head. I would judge these ads on a scale that compares them to the 1800 and 1804 campaigns, I think " John Kerry -- wrong on taxes, wrong on defense " seems pretty tame.

Posted by jk at 09:27 AM | What do you think? [4]

¡SOMOS TODOS LOS ESPAÑOLES!

spainflag.jpg
Thanks to Johngalt for the translation of "We are all Spaniards!"

Spain has proudly stood by our side to fight terrorism and has paid an extreme cost for their courage and bravery. We salute you (and those of us who are not atheists pray for you).

Posted by jk at 09:06 AM | What do you think? [3]

March 11, 2004

Florida

Three thoughts on Florida, if I may.

1) I spent a summer in Hollywood when I was 20. South Florida is a magical place in many ways. I rode a motorcycle from Hollywood to Key West. Everybody should do that once.

2) Of course, I wanted to talk electoral politics, forgive the personal digression. Andrew Cline has a great lede in his Guest Column in today's National Review Online.

According to Sen. John Kerry, the 2000 presidential election in the United States was fraudulent and invalid -- but the 2000 presidential election in Haiti was legitimate and legal.

That's a good zinger but it also underscores a constant complaint of mine. People hold America to exacting standards of fairness and freedom, while forgiving other cultures' most egregious trespasses. We have to pass hate-crimes legislation so a gay person never feels uncomfortable, yet the PLO warrants no opprobrium for murdering homosexuals in cold blood.

3) A joke of my own. Today's Political Diary points out that Senator Graham's VP potential cannot rest on the delivery of the State:
Florida Sen. Bob Graham is gunning to be John Kerry's attack dog, a.k.a. running mate. He wasn't helped much by Tuesday's exit polling in his home state, where Florida Democrats told the AP they preferred John Edwards as Veep to Mr. Graham by a margin of 43% to 19%.

I just wondered: how many Graham supporters voted for Buchanan?

Posted by jk at 01:16 PM | What do you think? [0]

A Long and Tedious Article You should Read

I hate being a conservative. A liberal can say "well, we've got to take care of the children!" and everybody gets it. I lay into an exegesis of free-market economics and commons-theory and their eyes glaze over instantly.

The war opponents say "Bush Lied, there was no WMD!" and I recommend the following, lengthy, tedious, dry article. I could barely slough my way through.

But it IS important! For years, Iraqis were tortured, starved, and died so that rich bureaucrats at the UN could line their pockets.

There is no doubt that the U.N. relief effort in Iraq has been a global scandal. A monstrous dictator was able to turn the Oil-for-Food program into a cash cow for himself and his inner circle, leaving Iraqis further deprived as he bought influence abroad and acquired the arms and munitions that coalition forces discovered when they invaded Iraq last spring.

A U.N. culture of unaccountability is certainly also to blame. And Security Council members share responsibility for lax oversight, no doubt one reason there is so little appetite for an investigation.

But Saddam's ability to reap billions for himself, his cronies and those who proved useful to him abroad depended on individuals who were his counterparties. These deserve a full investigation if the U.N.'s credibility is to be restored and its role in Iraq and elsewhere trusted. Especially now, with the U.N. taking a more active role in Iraq, it's time we knew more about how the oil-for-food scandal was allowed to happen.

Sen. Kerry says we should have waited until we had UN approval. Wait for these corrupt kleptomaniacs to choose Iraqi liberty over their personal wealth?

There is high dudgeon over Halliburton's "overcharging" for delivery, yet nobody cares about continual and systemic corruption that held people enslaved for more than a decade.

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

March 10, 2004

Gay Marriage "Science"

We're all familiar with "scientific" studies and "objective" journalists distorting reality. Here are a few examples that happen to relate to the same-sex marriage issue we've discussed on these pages.

Under the heading 'A Breed Apart' the Opinion Journal's Best of the Web observes a mathematical oddity in a Boston Globe article about children of same-sex parents, and I added a few more calculations of my own.

The Globe states, "Virtually all the nearly 50 studies on the children of gay and lesbian parents--who number between 6 [million] and 14 million in the United States, according to various studies--have found no significant differences between children raised by heterosexual or homosexual parents." But according to a sidebar on the same article (near the bottom) the 2000 Census estimated there were about 659,000 gay couples in America, or less than 1% of households. These two data points imply that the average same-sex couple has from 9 to 21 children - according to various studies. If the Census figures are considered erroneous, and if we generously credit every same-sex couple with two children, then there are between 3 million and 7 million same-sex couples in America - according to various studies. If true, this would represent approximately 4 to 10 percent of all "family households." I suppose that's possible, but it would mean about 8 to 20 percent of "blue state" households (what with the "intolerance" of those in the "red states.") A more defensible estimate of the number of children of same-sex couples is probably less than one per 659,000 of the gay couples - a far cry from 14 million.

So much for the journalistic distortion, now for the scientific one. Later in the same Globe article is a discussion about whether ALL the results of a study should be reported or if some should be omitted or "lowballed ... for fear of how the findings would be used." The lowballed finding was that although being a child of same-sex parents apparently did not encourage children to "become homosexuals," those children were, in fact, more open to the idea and 24% of them (6 of 25) "had had a [sexual] relationship with someone of the same gender." The original researcher wrote in response to this "outing" of her interpretation that her critics had "failed to distinguish between children's attitudes, which can change, and gender identity, which is relatively fixed."

Several questions come to mind:
- Is gender identity fixed, or only "relatively fixed?" (Or moderately fixed, or appreciably fixed, or fixed except when it is variable?)
- Are children born with their gender identity or do they "become homosexuals?"
- Is it ok to use non-scientific methods for social science research since social science isn't really science?

Posted by JohnGalt at 04:50 PM | What do you think? [4]

Big Doins in my District

I always knew the only way to get rid of Mark Udall in my Congressional District (CO2) would be to have him run for the US Senate. Rep. Udall is popular (yes, he is one of those Udalls), and the district is very liberal.

Well he is running; jk's prediction: he'll beat anybody but Bill Owens, and he'll give Owens a good fight. You must remember that while Colorado is Republican leaning, we sent Tim Wirth and Gary Hart to the Senate (don't blame me, I was too young!).

Who's running for Congress? John Fund delivers the news in today's OpinionJournal Political Diary:

It looks as if Congress is about to get its first dot-com tycoon. Jared Polis, who founded such Internet start-ups as Proflowers.com and Dan's Chocolates, has announced he'll run as a Democrat for the Colorado House seat of Rep. Mark Udall, who is leaving to run for a vacant Senate seat.

The 28-year-old Mr. Polis served as CEO of Bluemountain.com, the most popular electronic greeting card site on the Internet, until he sold the company in 1999. The next year he jumped into politics by winning a seat on the Colorado Board of Education by 90 votes after outspending his opponent by $1 million to $11,000. He now serves as the board's chairman, after a rocky start in which he became the only board member to don a black judicial robe to hear appeals from charter school operators.

His vast wealth is likely to scare away most challengers in the Boulder-based district, which went for Al Gore by 52% to 43% in 2000. No doubt we will soon be regaled with stories about Mr. Polis's wunderkind business career, which started with him going to Moscow at the age of 17 and spending a summer trading privatization vouchers on the Russian Commodities Exchange.

His political career got started when he served as regional campaign manager for Gray Davis in his failed 1992 U.S. Senate campaign in California. Last year, he financed a ballot initiative to allow same-day voter registration in Colorado, which voters rejected by 2-to-1 after concerns about possible fraud emerged. Look for the Democratic Party to have a new spokesman on technology and education when Mr. Polis goes to Washington.


Posted by jk at 02:01 PM | What do you think? [3]

March 08, 2004

Left Divisions

Can our friends on the Left keep their factions together?

I have read there recent news or editorial items that items that make me wonder. Today, it was a posting on Samizdata, titled "Clash of Idiotarians" that documented a rift between the EU, which is proposing strict new regulations on chemicals and safety and animal rights groups as it may require 500,000 live animals for testing! The post proceeds to mention divides between windmill-power enthusiasts in the UK and protectors of the Golden Eagles (in the USA it is California Condors vs. "Condor-Cuisinarts").

This morning, it was Senator Kerry preaching at a black church. A Pew poll pointed out that 60% of African-Americans oppose gay marriage.

Victor Davis Hanson discussed some discontent with Malthusian environmentalists and advocates of expanded immigration. "I recycle and have 1.2 children and drive a hybrid car. The immigrant family next door has 6 kids and an old truck..."

Of course, the big GOP tent creaks and swells and spills people out the side as well -- with many of the same issues!

Here is the difference: President Bush has shown particular genius here. I know folks roll their eyes when I talk of W's genius but he has juggled immigration, abortion, gay marriage, Federal education standards. Not everybody is happy but very few are defecting in November. That is good political leadership, and I think it proceeds from a basic likeability and trust. I get frustrated but I stay on the reservation, I think most will.

Senator Kerry will be challenged to keep those different factions together. I don't know that he has a lot of credibility in the African American community (has anyone ever been "whiter?"), and some of his super-nuanced positions might make some true believers in other Dem constituencies nervous. I think he has a leadership challenge, we'll see how he does.

Posted by jk at 04:52 PM | What do you think? [2]

Busybodies

David Carr at Samizdata does a nice piece on Ireland's banning of smoking in Pubs, and the move to focus on alcohol. He gives a quote from C.S. Lewis. Living in Boulder County, Colorado I can only say "Amen!"

Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated, but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

Posted by jk at 12:12 PM | What do you think? [4]

March 07, 2004

Martha Stewart's Guilt

Now that Martha Stewart has been found guilty of lying to government investigators, it is essential that we examine the causes for this lying that could just as easily have landed you or me in jail.

The problem is that Stewart was being questioned about her actions in relation to an immoral law. That's right, laws preventing insider trading per se are immoral, because their effect is to deny equality of opportunity to the insider. The justification of such laws is to establish equality of opportunity, but the insidious reality is that what they attempt to deliver is equality of outcomes. This fact is underscored by the comments of one Martha Stewart juror, Chappell Hartridge: "Maybe it's a victory for the little guys who lose money in the markets thanks to these kinds of transactions."

A summary of several articles on this topic can be found here, and I recommend the particular article 'Insider Trading,' reprinted from 'Just Business: Business Ethics in Action,' by Elaine Sternberg.

So the end result is that by exercising her moral right to protect her assets with all of her knowledge and ability Stewart has violated an unconscionable law, and her efforts to shield herself from the same immoral fate as Sam Waksal led her to commit perjury. I submit, albeit belatedly, that Stewart should have employed the Howard Roark defense, and admit to breaking the law but then argue the law itself is what is immoral.

Let's not forget, as JK dutifully blogged, that the cause of this entire affair was incompetents implementing government regulations at the FDA. For trying to limit the damage done to them personally by government bureaucrats, Waksal and Stewart get - the slammer.

Posted by JohnGalt at 09:48 AM | What do you think? [3]

March 05, 2004

Defending Andrew SUllivan

I read Andrew Sullivan every day. I f I am hurting for time, I may skip NRO or the Daily Standard, but as.com and the Wall Street Journal Ed Page are read every day I have vision and Internet access.

Two of my friends have told me "I can't stand him anymore." and "He's bugging me too much -- I had to stop."

I feel your pain, brothers. He is too involved in the gay marriage issue (worse than jk and steel tariffs) and what started as fair criticism of President Bush for profligate spending has spiraled into a concentrated attack that I would expected in Howell Raines's tenure at the NYTimes. He can't seriously, with his views on government and foreign policy, think that Senator Kerry would be better -- why the daily attacks?

But I am reminded, today, why I read every day. He talks about Micro Aggression

What's a micro-aggression? It's when you offend somebody for the usual p.c. reasons. You need not mean to offend someone; you may even be trying to flatter them; but if they feel they're offended or hurt in any way, it's a "micro-aggression." An accumulation of "micro-aggressions" can lead to actual aggression. I accidentally committed a "micro-aggression" two days ago when I used the term "Islamo-fascist" to refer to terrorists or unelected despots who use Islam as a cloak for their violence or tyranny. One poor young student was reduced to tears because I used this term. She said she felt attacked because she is a Muslim.

He writes well, with passion and a keen understanding of generational shifts. He reconciles the classic liberalism of Conservatives with their frequent opposition to his lifestyle and agendas. I'll keep reading and I'll even keep donating. But I will also keep writing him when I think he has lost it.

Posted by jk at 11:43 AM | What do you think? [2]

He Did Nothing Wrong! Part II

I blogged a few days ago about AG Spitzer's pursuit of Dick Grasso in "He Didn't Do Anything Wrong!" The WSJ EdPage has backed me up more forcefully and eloquently in
Spitzer's Grandstand: (Paid site only)

New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer fancies himself a populist hero for assailing Wall Street misdeeds, but more and more his political ambition is exceeding his legal grasp. The latest target of his overreaching is former New York Stock Exchange Chairman Dick Grasso.

[...] Mr. Spitzer, who is laying the legal groundwork to sue Mr. Grasso and add another high-profile scalp to the belt he'll wear in his 2006 run for Governor.
Mr. Spitzer has a duty to enforce the law, but it's a mystery what he'd be enforcing here other than his own self-promotion. His case is said to rest on some vague reading of fiduciary duty and the obligations of not-for-profit organizations such as the NYSE. But the bigger legal question is what gives Mr. Spitzer the right to nullify a legitimate employment contract ex post facto, other than that his victim is out of a job and may have been greedy?

[...]Mr. Grasso's job was to build its brand equity -- which he did very well. That's why six compensation committees unanimously approved his contracts over the years. It seems a tad ungracious now for Mr. Reed to demand repayment while acting as Mr. Spitzer's legal frontman.

Let's hope Mr. Spitzer has finally met his match. Unlike the securities and mutual fund industries that folded under the AG's threats, Mr. Grasso has nothing to lose. His lawyer recently fired off a letter to the exchange calling its treatment of Mr. Grasso "shameful," and declaring his client wouldn't repay a dime. We're glad to see somebody reminding Mr. Spitzer that he's a prosecutor, not a judge.

Posted by jk at 09:40 AM | What do you think? [0]

Slow News Day?

The FRONT PAGE of the Wall Street Journal Online edition today:


Service resumed for four of six AT&T customers in lower Manhattan following a power outage caused by a severed fiber-optic cable. 11:09 a.m.

Surly, this trivial matter bumped other big news stories like "Mrs. Wittmersen finds car keys" and "Juveniles feign sickness to avoid school."

Posted by jk at 09:23 AM | What do you think? [0]

An Anti-Government Libertine?

Moi? JohnGalt, maybe....

That's how I seem to come out in A Satirical Political Beliefs Assessment Test by Donald J. Hagen. Billed as:

A Humorous Political Party Quiz to Test
If You're an Archconservative, Leftwing Wacko,
Antigovernment Libertine or a Commie Sympathizer

Pretty fun. I would quibble with some of the entries but it is for fun. It's a bit long, but it is Friday.

For the record, I would guess myself "Archconservative" but I lean "Antigovernment Libertine" on the test.

Posted by jk at 09:06 AM | What do you think? [6]

March 04, 2004

Wonky SErver

Point of order: The server hosting this blog is having some trouble with the blog software. They are working on it.

You may have trouble with comments and the like -- just keep trying. And always copy your message so your prescient insights don't get lost.

Also, the times are off on comments, which can post them in the wrong order -- a couple of my answers are posted before the prompting comment. Hmmmm.

Posted by jk at 07:41 AM | What do you think? [0]

Number 11 With a Bullet!

Thanks to bureaucrats at the FCC, we are ranked eleventh in adoption of broadband and the telecom sector is choked off from capital. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has spanked the FCC a third time -- will that work?
The WSJ Ed Page wonders:

Michael Powell, the current FCC chairman, understands all this. He opposed the unbundling mandates but was outvoted last year when Commissioner Kevin Martin, a fellow Republican, sided with Democrats to keep the rules in place. Tuesday's decision vindicates Mr. Powell, while rebuking Mr. Martin and those inside the Bush White House who backed him up. If President Bush loses in November because voters don't believe the economy has recovered strongly enough, Mr. Martin should get the credit.

Posted by jk at 07:31 AM | What do you think? [0]

March 03, 2004

The Flaw in the “Gridlock” Theory

It’s an old theory. Mixed government is best because the separate branches of government will not agree to spending, ergo, fiscal responsibility through gridlock. I have even espoused it here on these very pages as a consolation in the event of a Kerry victory.

Consolation it may be, but this idea is getting so much traction over at AndrewSullivan.com, I have to push back. And I will do it with two words: free trade.

President Bush has disappointed me more than once by letting politics trump conviction in free trade. But watching Senators Kerry and Edwards fight over who was more protectionist, plus today’s rumor of a Richard Gephardt Veep ticket, has scared me straight.

Let’s concede that divided government would effectively spend less. Would this wipe out the deficit? Would this reduce state coercion? Would this bring about smaller government? No. No. And no. It might – at best -- hold spending back for four or eight years.

If it is accompanied by reductions in new trade agreements and even renunciation of present ones, the cost will be far more. It will raise the cost of goods and lower the income of corporations and many workers. This will hurt tax revenue far more than reduced spending will help the other side of the ledger.

I will vote GOP, and I will try to push the party toward reduced spending. Democrats won’t spend less. Gridlock would be dangerous to the war effort and ineffective if accompanied by protectionism.

Posted by jk at 01:04 PM | What do you think? [0]

Hitch on Gay Marriage

Christopher Hitchens is a mad lefty. But he frequently nails my thoughts precisely.

I hate to bring it up again. Like Mr. Hitchens, I am bored with the topic. But his Hitchness has a great reason to support gay marriage on today's WSJ Ed Page: It will drive the Mullahs Mad!

When I become bored or irritated by the gay marriage battle--and I do, I sometimes do--I like to picture the writhing faces and hoarse yells of the mullahs and the fanatics. Godless hedonistic America, not content with allowing divorce and pornography, has taken from us our holy Taliban and our upright Saddam. It sends Jews and unveiled female soldiers to our lands, and soon unnatural brotherhood will be in the armed forces of the infidels. And now the godless have an election where all they discuss is the weddings of men to men and women to women! And then I relax, and smile, and ask my neighbors over, to repay the many drinks and kind gestures that I owe them.

Posted by jk at 10:41 AM | What do you think? [5]

Congrats to Senator Kerry

Yes, we have been beating up on the Senator a little these days. I will join the President in extending congratulations to Senator Kerry for his apparent success in the nomination.

The Democratic party looked close to self-destruction in the early primary days. Governor Dean was the nominee apparent, a plethora of unserious candidates crowded the debate daises (what is, the plural of dais?) and even GOP true-believers such as myself worried that the party had rolled off the left into oblivion.

No, the Senator will not get my vote, but he will get my respect and much respectful opposition over the next eight months. I think he is left-wing enough to represent his party's powerful constituencies -- yet he is not an outlier in the tradition of Gov. Dean or Rep Kucinich.

As I will tirelessly remind readers: he stands for higher taxes, which would kill our domestic recovery; over-reliance on the UN imprimatur for US foreign policy, which will reduce or roll back the advancement of freedom; and, most disturbingly, expect a long post from me soon on the new idea of Democratic protectionism, just the threat of which is stifling an inchoate global recovery.

But, I am no Democrat. They picked a good guy to carry their flag, and offer America a real choice in November. Congratulations, Senator!

Posted by jk at 09:26 AM | What do you think? [0]

March 02, 2004

JFK: "Yes, but..."

In response to comments to a previous blog I did a Google search on "john kerry c-17." I was looking for Kerry's voting record on this specific weapon system. The first hit on my search was actually at johnkerry.com: Statement from Senior Advisor Michael Meehan on the RNC’s Attacks of John Kerry It's in the form of a "debunking" statement:

Republican Rhetoric: In 1984 he called for a freeze on testing, production and deployment of nuclear warheads, missiles, and other delivery systems.
Reality: Well yeah, but... blah, blah, blah

Republican Rhetoric: In 1985, he introduced a Comprehensive Nuclear Freeze Bill, and sponsored two amendments to freeze SDI-related nuclear development until the Soviet Union tested a nuclear weapon.
Reality: Well yeah, but... blah, blah, blah

Republican Rhetoric: In 1991, he acknowledged Saddam Hussein's possession of WMD, but voted against military action.
Reality: Well yeah, but... blah, blah, blah

Republican Rhetoric: “In 1993, Sen. Kerry introduced a plan to: cut the number of Navy submarines and their crews; reduce the number of light infantry units in the Army down to one; reduce Air Force tactical fighter wings; terminate the Navy's coastal mine-hunting ship program; and force the retirement of no less than 60,000 members of the Armed Forces in one year”
Reality: Well yeah, but... blah, blah, blah

Republican Rhetoric: In 1995, Sen. Kerry voted to freeze Defense spending for 7 years, cutting over $34 billion from Defense."
Reality: Well yeah, but... blah, blah, blah

Republican Rhetoric: His long Senate record belies his assertion that his approach to national security will make us safer as a nation.
Reality: John Kerry Has “Strong National Security Credentials” – [Wall Street Journal 9/5/02] blah, blah, blah... blah, blah... blah................blah

In fairness, however, I have to acknowledge that JFK did vote yes on a $355 billion defense appropriation which included $3.2 billion for additional C-17s. (wonder how he voted on the first batch...) This vote was in 2002 so maybe 9/11 changed Kerry like it changed so many of the rest of us - or maybe he was already laying the groundwork for this campaign. hmmm

Posted by JohnGalt at 07:05 PM | What do you think? [6]

March 01, 2004

Weapons We Don't Need

Mark Steyn has a list of weapons that Senator Kerry wanted to deny funding for.

COLLECT THE SET!
THE JOHN KERRY CANCELED WEAPONS SYSTEM OF THE DAY

Thrilling tales of America's fighting men and women in action using stuff Senator Kerry didn't want them to have!


No doubt Steyn and I are question his patriotism for saying anything, but the man voted against: The Bradley Fighting Vehicle, AV-8B Harrier Jet, Patriot Missile Defense, M1 Abrams Tank, AEGIS Air Defense Cruiser, B-2 Stealth Bomber, Tomahawk Missile, and Apache Helicopter.

Terry McAuliffe says the Republicans are trying to paint him as soft on defense. Well, yeah -- I guess I am. Steyn, as usual is funnier and clearer than I am: check it out!

Posted by jk at 04:52 PM | What do you think? [2]

He Didn't Do ANything Wrong!

That's not going to stop AG Spitzer! He's got a gubernatorial cam--I mean a public to protect!
WSJ.com - Spitzer Prepares To Sue Grasso Over NYSE Pay:

NEW YORK -- Attorney General Eliot Spitzer is paving the way to sue former New York Stock Exchange Chief Dick Grasso for the return of as much as $120 million in pay he received at the Big Board. Mr. Spitzer also is preparing to sue members of the NYSE's former board who approved Mr. Grasso's pay, according to a person familiar with the matter. No final decision has been made to sue. And an 11th-hour settlement is possible. Still, litigation by the New York attorney general is looking more like a real prospect, instead of a negotiating ploy to increase pressure for a settlement, according to people familiar with the actions in recent days. That is because Mr. Spitzer's usual leverage against corporate executives hasn't worked with Mr. Grasso. The former NYSE chief has little to lose in the wake of his public and messy ouster, according to a person familiar with efforts to negotiate a settlement agreement with Mr. Grasso.
Then again, maybe he can't force a settlement because Mr. Grasso did NOTHING WRONG. He was CEO of a private firm and he accepted a generous compensation package. Sorry the remuneration didn't meet AG Spitzer's guidelines.

This guy is scary. He has done some great work but he doesn't have any idea of his nor the State's boundary -- and I don't mean the Hudson.

Posted by jk at 09:28 AM | What do you think? [0]

Iraqi Constitution

It is amazing to hear those two words together. Of course, there are a million and 14 chances for failure, but check out the lede to this AP story:

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Iraqi politicians agreed early Monday on an interim constitution with a wide ranging bill of rights and a single chief executive, bridging a gulf between members over the role of Islam in the future government, coalition and Iraqi officials said.

No wonder Senator Kerry has to snipe about Haiti...

Posted by jk at 09:19 AM | What do you think? [0]
Don't click this. Comments (2)