September 30, 2004

Kerry Wins!

I take it all back. Senator Kerry did very well. I would be surprised if he were to sway a lot of votes, but I think he did very well.

A Turkish-citizen friend just IM'ed me: "I am glad I dont have to vote "

Posted by jk at 08:34 PM | What do you think? [8]

jk's debate prediction

Twenty before one pm, and I post my pick. It may not be original, but I will go out on a limb.

The debate structure precludes a forceful victory. It's all about not blowing it. Either candidate could say something stupid or confess to a felony or something. But the big mistake is to try too hard. President Bush, with a lead in the polls and an incumbent's demeanor, will not do this.

Kerry needs to make up ground. He will try too hard, as VP Gore did in 2000 (ironically when he didn't have to).

W doesn't dazzle; Kerry tries too hard and comes off a bit creepy. The President picks up 4-5 points when the new polls are out.

Posted by jk at 12:44 PM | What do you think? [0]

It was late...

Senator Kerry explains his "voted for it before I voted against it" statement. Yet John Fund notes some problems in the WSJ Political Diary.

John Kerry showed up on ABC's "Good Morning America" on Wednesday to explain his infamous comment that he was in favor of an $87 billion appropriation for the troops he Iraq before he was against it. Mr. Kerry admitted to Ms. Sawyer the comment was "an inarticulate moment in the late evening when I was dead tired in the primaries."

The only problem with that explanation, as an e-mail from the Bush campaign pointed out, is that the statement was made at the noon hour: "Maybe he was on Paris time," the Republican missive snickered.

Posted by jk at 10:56 AM | What do you think? [5]

September 28, 2004


kerry orange.jpg

Have you noticed John Kerry's new 'George Hamilton' look? His handlers claim its from exposure to the sun. I wonder if he's developing rosacea.

Conspiracy theorists suggest he's artificially tanned himself (or that his handlers are doing it to him) to be more appealing to voters during the debates with Dubya. Why is it that some white men want to look darker while some black men want to look whiter?

Posted by JohnGalt at 02:57 PM | What do you think? [2]

Amerikanische Verhaltnisse

Travelling. Sorry I've been AWOL (and no, I didn't take the physical). In lieu of writing, let me share (steal) a WSJ Editorial:Das Cowboy Kapital

Why has America's economy grown 55% faster than Germany's over the past 25 years? The Germans think they know. Americans suffer cruel inequality. They work three "McJobs" just to survive. They take on more and more debt to maintain their standard of living. Washington hides the true state of unemployment by locking up millions in jail. And forget about getting decent health care.

Right-thinking Germans even have a derogatory term, Amerikanische Verhaltnisse -- literally, American conditions -- as a shorthand for the social catastrophe they believe would result if they were ever to tackle the real cause of their slow growth: a notoriously rigid labor market. This view is so monolithic that the conservative leader Edmund Stoiber is on record saying, "We do not want Amerikanische Verhaltnisse in Germany."

So imagine the Sturm und Drang when a German author, Olaf Gersemann, came along earlier this year and exploded all these myths. The title of his book hardly needs translation: "Amerikanische Verhaltnisse: Die falsche Angst der Deutschen vor dem Cowboy-Kapitalismus." On each score where Europeans think their system is superior, the Washington correspondent for Germany's largest business weekly shows that the Americans have actually pulled ahead.

The book is coming out in English, thanks to the folks at the Cato Institute. And just in time, too. It strikes us that many of the German complaints about America's free-market capitalism have found their way into the press releases coming out of the Kerry campaign. Democrats might ponder the German lesson that the costs of the welfare state lead to the very poverty and inequality it is supposed to cure. But as Mr. Gersemann's battle to convince his countrymen shows, self-delusion is not easily overcome.

Posted by jk at 07:41 AM | What do you think? [2]

September 26, 2004

God Wants International Tax

God must "sustain the efforts of the international community" to "eradicate the consequences of poverty from the world" because of the "unfair distribution of wealth that God" himself, "destines for all his children."

Pope John Paul II.jpg

This is the actual, bald-faced admission of Pope John Paul II in calling for the "rich" to prostrate themselves to the "poor." Essentially, God made some people poor but doesn't really want them that way so he manipulates 'the rich' to undo his mistake. (So God is omniscient, omnipresent, omnibenevolent, and omnipotent but he still makes mistakes? Sure, I'll buy that.) And how does 'his holiness' suggest 'God's Will' be served? It's not stated explicitly but we can read between the lines:

"On Monday, the presidents of Brazil and France encouraged 110 countries to back a new declaration to fight hunger and poverty and to increase funds for development. More than 50 heads of state or government joined in a debate at the United Nations on the impact of globalization and on ways to finance the war on poverty." (emphasis mine)

John Paul "noted [that] the Vatican's No. 2 official, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, who is the city-state's secretary of state, participated in the debate and pledged the Holy See's support for the initiative."

"The United States didn't join in the pledge to fight hunger and poverty. The Bush administration objected to proposals for international taxes as undemocratic and impossible to implement." (emphasis mine)

I don't know which is more frightening - that the UN is actually holding discussions on the imposition of "international taxes" to fight France's "war on poverty," or that America's best argument against it is that the taxes are "undemocratic" or "impossible to implement." (You can bet that the UN will find a way to implement them, and 'democracy' is the twisted justification for everything the UN does!)

No, America needs to fight this blatant world statism on the basis of objective morality and individual liberty: All charity must be given voluntarily, by choice, and with respect for values.

Forced 'giving to the poor' is a tyranny imposed on individuals by their own government, with their misguided altruistic approval, and in their own name. The extension of this tyranny to the international level would represent merely a natural extension of the same mentality. Those who recognize the absurdity of the latter would do well to examine their opinion of the former.

Posted by JohnGalt at 09:58 AM | What do you think? [4]

September 25, 2004


They DO exist, Johngalt. I am at the Summit Jazz festival and I just got to see Howard Alden and Bucky Pizzarelli.


Posted by jk at 03:57 PM | What do you think? [2]

September 24, 2004

Foreign Libs for W

The quote for the day is a little long for a bumper sticker, but I take 'em where I can find 'em.

George W. Bush is a lying, collectivist, protectionist, big-government statist and I despise him. The only, and I do mean only reason I want him to win the election against the other lying, collectivist, protectionist, even bigger-government statist who I despise is to see the stunned faces of those people on the left when they get their arses kicked. It’s an expensive 'cheap thrill' but I take 'em where I find 'em.
- overheard at a get-together of Samizdatistas recently

I love the timbre and intellectual depth of the samizdatistas and their commentators, but they are very guilty of the "perfect-as-the-enemy-of-the-good" that I complain about.

Posted by jk at 11:10 AM | What do you think? [1]

That math problem

John Derbyshire has posted a solution to the Nested Polygons puzzle.

No real new news. As discussed before, there is no closed form. Derb sez:

So far as I am aware, it is known only as "the polygon-inscribing constant," and is unrelated to any other mathematical constants. Not that you can't get alternative expressions for it; but they are all worse than the one you started with. Take its log, for example, and apply the series for –log(cos(z)) in Abramowitz and Stegun's Handbook of Mathematical Functions:

–log(cos(z)) = (1/2) z2 + (1/12) z4 + (1/45) z6 + (17/2520) z8 + (31/14175) z10 +...

If you apply that to the successive angles and add up the results, you get an infinite series involving — yes! — zeta functions. It doesn't resolve to anything simple, though. Those coefficients are derived from the Bernoulli numbers; and zeta(N), for even values of N, resolves to an expression in Bernoulli numbers and powers of pi; so you end up with a mess of Bernoulli numbers and powers of pi.

Posted by jk at 09:57 AM | What do you think? [2]

Mr. Krauthammer!

The good doctor first does some harm to Senator Kerry in yesterday's WaPo column, "The Art Of Losing Friends."

It's an old story but he hits it home. Senator Kerry promises that he's going to get so much more support from our allies than has the President. Then he disparages the allies we have.

The only thing that distinguishes Kerry's Iraq proposals from Bush's is his promise to deploy his unique, near-mystical ability to bring in new allies to fight and pay for the war in Iraq -- to "make Iraq the world's responsibility" and get others to "share the burden," as he said this week at New York University.

Yet even Richard Holbrooke, a top Kerry foreign policy adviser, admits that the president of France is not going to call up President Kerry and say, "How many divisions should I send to Iraq?"

Nor will anyone else. Kerry abuses America's closest friends while courting those, like Germany and France, that have deliberately undermined America before, during and after the war. What lessons are leaders abroad to draw from this when President Kerry asks them -- pretty please in his most mellifluous French -- to put themselves on the line for the United States?

Posted by jk at 09:48 AM | What do you think? [0]

September 23, 2004


My liberal friends are right. American culture is boorish and primative. We need to be open to influence form other cultures like:


An Iranian woman, beaten every day by her husband, asked a court to tell him only to beat her once a week.

Maryam, the middle-age woman, said she did not want to divorce her husband because she loved him.

"Just tell him to beat me once a week ... Beating is part of his nature and he cannot stop it," Maryam told the court.

The Tehran court found the man guilty and banned him from beating the wife, the paper said.

"If I do not beat her, she will not be scared enough to obey me," the husband said.

Yet, still some would argue that it is okay for us to push our atavistic culture on others.

Posted by jk at 04:29 PM | What do you think? [0]

I'm More Like Kerry

But I am voting for Bush. Making me an outlier.

This survey scores your personality traits, your view of Senator Kerry's and W's, then it correlates them. The premise is that we vote for the candidate whom we feel is more like us.

Only I didn't...or maybe I did...I was actually less like Kerry before I was more like him...I think I'll take the test again...I'm not sure...

Posted by jk at 03:00 PM | What do you think? [0]

Hubris II

One chicken, two chickens, three chickens, four chickens...
Map courtesy of:

Posted by jk at 12:42 PM | What do you think? [4]

Channeling C3PO

bkm at Swimming through the Spin thinks C3PO saounds a bit like the Democratic Nominee for President. Here are some C3PO quotes:

We'll be destroyed for sure. This is madness! We're doomed! Secret mission? What plans? What are you talking about? I'm not getting in there! Are you sure this things safe? How did I get into this mess? I really don't know how. No more adventures. I'm not going that way. That malfunctioning little twerp. This is all his fault! He tricked me into going this way, but he'll do no better. I'm only a droid and not very knowledgeable about such things. Not on this planet, anyways. As a matter of fact, I'm not even sure which planet I'm on. I told him not to go, but he's faulty, malfunctioning; kept babbling on about his mission. I really don't see how that's going to help. Surrender is a perfectly acceptable alternative in extreme circumstances.
Now that's an RNC ad I'd like to see!

Hat-tip: Instapundit

Posted by jk at 11:42 AM | What do you think? [0]

No Nader On Ballot

Readers are allowed to be skeptical of my righteous indignation at Ralph Nader's being kept off the ballot in Oregon. I agree with NOTHING Mr. Nader stands for and I would expect partisan advantage with his stealing votes away from Sen. Kerry. Full disclosure disclosed.

But it is still anti-democratic (little-d) to use chicanery to keep a guy off the ballot who should be on. John Fund tells this story in today's WSJ Political Diary:

Oregon Official Brags About Keeping Nader Off the Ballot

In 2000, Al Gore only won Oregon by 7,000 votes at the same time Ralph Nader won over 5% of the electorate. Small wonder that Democrats have done everything but move the Cascade Mountains to keep him off the ballot this year. Yesterday, the Oregon Supreme Court overturned a lower court decision and ruled that Democratic Secretary of State Bill Bradbury had acted within his authority in decreeing that Mr. Nader had fallen a tantalizing 218 signatures short of the 15,306 required for ballot status.

Marion County Judge Paul Lipscomb had previously ruled in Mr. Nader's favor. In a scathing opinion, the judge had chastised Mr. Bradbury for using arbitrary, unwritten rules to determine if the Nader petition signatures were valid. The Willamette Weekly, the liberal alternative paper in Portland, named Mr. Bradbury its "Rogue of the Week" for giving critics reason to suspect he "is making fellow Dems happy instead of doing his job."

The liberal paper also ridiculed Mr. Bradbury's protestations that he had "evenly and fairly" applied the law, noting that in an e-mail to Democrats asking for campaign contributions he had trumpeted his denial of ballot status to Mr. Nader. "So which is it, Bill?" the paper asked. "A nonpartisan action or a chance to stoke the Democratic donation machine?"

Count every vote, huh? Well, unless they're military ballots or votes for a third party, or if it's Tuesday, or a GOP county, or...

Posted by jk at 11:30 AM | What do you think? [0]

September 22, 2004

Coffee Blog

Single Serve Coffee - The One Cup Coffee Lovers Weblog

All things single-serve-coffee, here! I highly highly highly recommend the Senseo machine. We love that. A blog ad on Hugh Hewitt has Kona pods for it -- they ain't cheap, but as Rick Danko said:

Costs maybe more than you care to pay,
But money's nothing, compared to a fired-up-day!
Don't try to cheat,
It's impossible to beat,
The only pick-me-up that's here to stay.
-- Java blues

Posted by jk at 02:02 PM | What do you think? [2]

This Year, Florida times Ten

A consistent theme of mine on these pages has been, "contempt for facts and reason" on the part of a large segment of the population, particularly on the political left. One of the most pernicious aspects of this condition is that, like other forms of insanity, there is no limit to the delusion among those afflicted.

In November 2000 we witnessed this "mind"set in action, as partisans argued that incomplete, indeterminate, or unqualified ballots MUST be counted lest the "chad challenged" voters who mutilated them be "disenfranchised," (in this case meaning "failed to exploit.") Today's 'Ballots or Briefs' column from WSJ's John Fund foreshadows the same insanity in every battleground state this time around.

"If the number of provisional ballots exceeds the margin of victory in the presidential race, you can bet lawyers will argue that "every vote must count," regardless of eligibility."

They must be kidding, right? Wrong. The liberal groups pressing for this outcome actually want to count votes that, by definition, don't count. Why even bother to register anybody! Facts?? Reason?? ... FOR WHO? FOR WHAT?

Just an aside - By this criteria I can argue that I am personally entitled to 2, or 40, or [pick a number] of provisional ballots on the grounds that if I filed a lawsuit claiming my Martian ancestors created earth and everything on it and it had been wrongfully defiled and title laid unto by wascally wepublicans, or [pick another scenario] it might be adjudicated in my favor by some liberal judge. (To those who say I'm insane I would simply reply, "Prove me wrong!")

Fund also explores developments in New Mexico (Gore by 366 votes in 2000) in detail:

"Earlier this year, Ms. Vigil-Giron [NM's Democrat Secretary of State] issued guidelines saying that a new state law--which mandates that voters who register without an election official present must show a photo ID at the polls--doesn't apply to registrations collected by groups like the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (Acorn)..." and that so far, "such groups have helped collect 112,000 new registrations, or one out of nine of the state's voters."

Indeed, liberal activists across the nation (and particularly in the southwest) are arguing that "photo ID requirements "target specific communities and are discriminatory," calling them "a racist mechanism." Others say that, "even laws that allow voters to use a paycheck or utility bill as ID discriminate against minority voters and could lead to "profiling."

So their point is that racial minorities are somehow restricted from obtaining any kind of photo ID? No, their point is that illegal aliens who are legally forbidden to vote in the first place can't produce such a document. Permitting unregistered voters to vote can on the grounds that doing otherwise amounts to "profiling" shows the "contempt for facts and reason" at the root of political correctness.

The job of combating all of this voter fabrication is mind boggling. And this insanity is all made possible by "contempt for facts and reason" on the part of liberal judges who are destroying any semblance of objectivity in our society. This is why we need to think and talk and debate about philosophy.

Posted by JohnGalt at 10:50 AM | What do you think? [2]

New CD is Out!

We now return to jazz programming...

Berkeley Square's second release, A Nightingale Sang is now available. Still no final schedule for a CD release party, but I'll keep you all invited.

Posted by jk at 10:16 AM | What do you think? [1]

Unfortunate Choice, Son

I think we can relegate "operation fortunate son" to the dustbin of failed oppo research. Safe to say the RaTHergate contretemps has ensured it a place at the bottom.

Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit says "But don't let the Kerry Campaign's misuse of John Fogerty's music, and misrepresentation of his life history, stop you from enjoying the music. I've got the Creedence Clearwater Boxed Set and it's great. They did a good job with the remastering, too."

I have to disagree with his uberblogness on this one. The song's selection is emblematic of what plagues the Democrats: their ideas, their passions and their music are mired in a boomer nostalgia 1960's theme. The graying stars are now paraded out on PBS pledge drives to a greyer audience.

Now I’m in no position to insult someone's hair or preference for older music. Django riffs enter my head without any interference from follicular output. But I am going to call my tastes eclectic. Liberalism is more sclerotic than retro.

I'll end with an oppo selection to the RNC: Blossom Dearie singing "To Keep My Love Alive." Ms. Dearie marries, then murders, a parade of aristocrats and industry captains, smothering one with a mattress and calling it "mattress-cide."

Susan Estrich is right, politics ain't beanbag. I say we deploy "Operation Dearie" Immediately

Posted by jk at 04:38 AM | What do you think? [0]

September 21, 2004

Quote of the Day

John J. Miller, in The Corner

The St. Paul Pioneer Press has polled Minnesota voters on a prospective Al Franken challenge to GOP senator Norm Coleman in 2008. The result: 57 percent support Coleman and 29 percent prefer Franken. Doggone it, people don't like him.


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

A Democrat Salutes the W Boom

James Cramer, co-host of the best show on TV, and a long-time Democrat backer and fund-raiser, pens a guest editorial in the Journal today (paid only, sorry!). This column is as good for Senator Kerry as Zell's speech:

Imagine the difficulty John Kerry faces in explaining what's wrong with the economy. He wants to talk about President Bush's reckless deficit spending, but how reckless can that spending be if the market's willing to lend the government money at a measly 4%, lower than when President Clinton turned deficits to surplus? He wants to portray the economy as weak and getting weaker, but how weak is an economy that finds Federal Express, Yellow Roadway and United Parcel all on the 52-week-high list?

These companies ship to meet demand, not to build inventories. Sen. Kerry would love to talk about lagging employment and jobless growth, but go tell that to Bill Zollars, Yellow Roadway's CEO, who has ratcheted up earnings forecasts three times during the alleged "soft patch" and would be making even more money if he could just find more truck drivers to hire.

Sen. Kerry would love to talk about how consumers and businesses are suffering through $45-a-barrel oil, but prices at the pump stopped going up months ago, and for other than a handful of poorly run, unhedged airlines, high oil's had remarkably little impact on any part of the economy, except the oil industry itself which is both hiring and booming. You don't debit the growth of Exxon and Chevron payrolls; their jobs pay greenbacks the same as any other. Meanwhile, we've got the veritably endless boom in housing, a two-year boom in steel, plus a brand new cyclical turn in aerospace. Boeing's stock doesn't lie; it's become a permanent fixture on the daily new-high list.

The irony isn't that Sen. Kerry can't make more hay out of this array of strength, it's that President Bush doesn't take more credit for what's going right.

Nothing higher marginal tax rates wouldn't cure, Jimmy!

Posted by jk at 08:49 AM | What do you think? [0]

September 20, 2004

The End of Liberalism

Ramesh Ponnuru pens an important piece in the latest National Review. (Subscribers only, sorry!) He claims that the President's acceptance speech was not only not "a 'laundry list' of domestic-policy proposals" but it was also "a practical plan to end American liberalism (as we know it)."

Strong words. And a strong article. I reprint the section on HSAs because it is germane to a discussion on this blog about health care.

Bush's health-care policies are a break with 60 years of tradition. During World War II, employers found they could evade wage controls by offering health benefits to their workers. After the war, the IRS decided to treat those benefits as deductible. Born almost accidentally, the system acquired a peculiar logic. Most people got their insurance through their employers. They therefore had little incentive to control costs. Health insurance became less a way of dealing with unpredictable and catastrophic expenses and more a way of prepaying for routine medical care. Employers thus had to hire HMOs to control costs by rationing care.

So the system generates constant problems and anxieties: Losing a job means losing health insurance, prices keep rising, individuals do not control their own health policies, and so on. Naturally, there is a constant demand for government intervention to solve these problems. The system, so to speak, wants to move in the direction of centralization and bureaucratic management; our welfare state seeks completion. Conservatives have generally had to choose between new regulations and subsidies, on the one hand, and defending a dysfunctional system on the other.

President Bush's health-care policies would move us in a very different direction. Their logical end point is a world in which most people do not get their health insurance through their employers. Instead, they would get higher wages. They would use the additional wages to insure against catastrophic medical expenses and to pay for routine expenses out of pocket. As more people paid out of pocket for these expenses, a free market would emerge and prices would fall. Individuals would own their health-insurance policies, which would remain theirs when they changed employers.

The centerpiece of Bush's proposed health-care policy is the health savings account. Those accounts offer a tax break to people who buy low-cost, high-deductible insurance policies and pay out of pocket for most of their routine medical expenses. Thus, federal tax policy moves toward neutrality between insurance and out-of-pocket expenses. The incentive toward over-insuring disappears. Naturally liberals are against the idea: Six decades of the status quo have conditioned them to think that the point of insurance is to socialize costs. They fear that letting people, especially healthy people, opt out of a system that doesn't serve them well will cause that system to unravel. Free-market conservatives should hope that they're right.

Health savings accounts became law in Bush's Medicare bill. In his convention speech, he promised to strengthen them in various ways. He also proposed another substantial change. Right now, individuals and small businesses that buy health insurance are subject to expensive state mandates. If you buy any insurance, you have to get a gold-plated policy. So companies that do not want to cover hair-replacement therapy for their workers may have to get it — or leave their work force uncovered. The press releases accompanying his speech, however, said that the president wants to let individuals buy health insurance out of state. If people can leapfrog out of their states' health regulations, a competitive marketplace in those regulations will have to develop — especially if Bush goes the next step and lets small businesses take advantage of interstate commerce in health policies, too.

These domestic policies add up not only to an ambitious agenda for Bush's second term, but to an ambitious social-policy agenda for conservatism. In effect, Bush is adapting market conservatism to modern circumstances by applying it to sclerotic bureaucratic systems that have not adapted.

Posted by jk at 05:10 PM | What do you think? [1]

AP: Kerry Wouldn't Have Ousted Saddam

I guess the Senator does have a position on Iraq. It seems a little odd to have it come out now. Yahoo! News - Kerry Says He Wouldn't Have Ousted Saddam

NEW YORK - Staking out new ground on Iraq, Sen. John Kerry said Monday he would not have overthrown Saddam Hussein had he been in the White House, and he accused President Bush of "stubborn incompetence," dishonesty and colossal failures of judgment. Bush said Kerry was flip-flopping.

It's a credible (but I think misguided) position. I do not see how he has any credibility with it on September 20. All the votes, all the speeches, all the requests for him to be clear. Now he picks this as a campaign theme -- it's pandering and not a belief.

I am glad that he picked something to argue against. Saddam Hussein was a threat to the United States, a financial sponsor of terrorism in Palestine and provided at the very least safe haven to al Qaeda. NED bless those brave men and women who toppled his regime.

So, a Kerry presidency leaves Saddam in power and the UN corruption in full gear. I'll run against that.

Posted by jk at 03:44 PM | What do you think? [3]

First Term: Bush KO's Clinton on National Debt

JK just enlightened us with a comparison of the state of the US economy during the re-election campaigns of George W Bush and Bill Clinton. While it's remarkable that W's economy bests that of 'the world's greatest politician' on so many criteria, one statistic stands out like a big fat dirty hippie's sore thumb:

Debt as percentage of economy: Bush (37.5%), Clinton (48.5%)

"What about the vaunted "Clinton Surplus," I asked. JK surmised it represented a compilation of public plus private debt, thereby masking higher public debt now with a private debt rate lower now than during Clinton's campaign. I just had to know more, so I searched references and shelled out $2.95 to download a Washington Times archive: 'Tallying presidential economic success' by Richard Rahn of the Cato Institute, published June 18,2004. The salient paragraph reads:

Opponents of Mr. Reagan charge his deficits "left future generations saddled with debt." Mr. Reagan did use debt to partially fund his increase in military spending to win the Cold War, just as Franklin Roosevelt used debt to win World War II. At the end of the Roosevelt administration, the national debt held by the public was more than 100 percent of our gross domestic product (GDP). At the end of the Reagan administration, it was only 41 percent of GDP. (Mr. Kennedy left us with debt equal to 42 percent of GDP; in 1996 at the end of the first Clinton administration, debt was 48 percent of GDP; and it is about 37 percent today.)

** Calling all fact-checkers!! **

It's now clear that we're talking exclusively about public debt (federal government). Clintonites will be quick to retort that the deficit went to zero and, in fact, was projected to have surpluses before he left office. But this was in his second term, and didn't factor into any campaign for his re-election. Apparently the 'modern depression' we endured in Clinton's first term did not hurt him with voters. We'll see where W takes his place in history at the end of his second term. Rahn concludes:

"The jury is still out on the current President Bush, but his tax cuts are working in the same magical way they did for Presidents Kennedy and Reagan. If the Fed can keep inflation low, and if the administration can reduce the growth in spending and regulation, Mr. Bush still has the opportunity to a place in the top three - if he is re-elected."

The entire article archive is available below. (Note that it is copyrighted material, so you may read it or link to this post but you can't reprint it yourself, or something like that.) It really puts the screws to the modern myth that Clinton was the best "economy president" in history.

Washington Times

Washington Times, The (DC)

June 18, 2004
Tallying presidential economic success



Page: A19

Article Text:

In the last half-century, under which president did the economy perform the best? Most Americans would answer Ronald Reagan, while some Democratic commentators have argued it was Bill Clinton or John F. Kennedy. What is the truth?

A president has a major influence on tax, spending, regulatory and trade policies that largely determine the rate of economic growth, but he is constrained by Congress, particularly when one or both houses are controlled by the opposition party. A president has much less influence on inflation and interest rates in that they are largely determined by the independent Federal Reserve.

However, a president can influence the Fed through his selection of the chairman and members of the board, as well as through "moral suasion."

Increasing the rate of economic growth, creating jobs, reducing inflation and interest rates - up to a point, and reducing the tax burden are normally considered hallmarks of a presidential success. A president who needs to correct the failed economic policies of a predecessor will have more difficulty obtaining very low unemployment, so the degree of improvement over the previous administration is an important measure of success, rather than the average or ending number.

A well-known Democrat economist, the late Arthur Okun, created the misery index (i.e., the rate of inflation plus the unemployment rate), which was a proxy to tell the public whether they were better off under the current or under the previous administration. Using the misery index criteria, three Presidents - Messrs. Kennedy, Reagan and Clinton - improved on their predecessor's performance by the end of their own term. The economic misery index dropped the most on Mr. Reagan's watch to only 10.1 from Mr. Carter's horrific 17.9.

Using the "misery index" improvement criteria, Mr. Reagan was clearly No. 1, followed by Mr. Clinton and Mr. Kennedy. Mr. Carter by far performed worse than any of the last nine presidents.

The rate of economic growth is often considered a measure of a president's success. However, this measure must be used with care, given it normally takes at least a year after a new president takes office before he can get his initial tax and spending program enacted by Congress. Thus, it is appropriate to lag this measure by one year so a new president is not saddled with the sins or virtues of his predecessor.

John Kennedy is the clear winner in the growth criteria. He had the advantage of taking office during the middle of an economic recovery, and the wisdom to enact major tax cuts, both of which resulted in very high growth rates during and immediately after his administration.

Ronald Reagan comes in next in the growth race, even though the economy suffered from stagnation and double-digit inflation and interest rates when he took office. Also, his major tax cuts were not fully effective until two years into his administration. Mr. Clinton comes in third, having inherited a growing economy, but his policies left the nation in a recession.

Mr. Reagan and Mr. Clinton come in No. 1 and No. 1, respectively, in the jobs' creation race. About 17 million jobs were created during each of their times in office, but Mr. Reagan did it with a labor force about 18 percent smaller than the one when Mr. Clinton took office. In addition, employment lags economic growth, so when an appropriate one-year lag is used to adjust the figures, Mr. Reagan also obtains a substantial absolute advantage in numbers of new jobs created.

Both Mr. Kennedy and Mr. Reagan cut taxes for all income levels. Mr. Kennedy reduced the maximum rate from 91 percent to 70 percent, and Mr. Reagan from 70 percent to 28 percent. In both cases, the economy boomed and federal government tax revenues actually increased. Under Mr. Reagan, federal tax revenues rose from $599 billion in 1981 to $991 billion in 1989. despite the tax rate cuts.

Opponents of Mr. Reagan charge his deficits "left future generations saddled with debt." Mr. Reagan did use debt to partially fund his increase in military spending to win the Cold War, just as Franklin Roosevelt used debt to win World War II. At the end of the Roosevelt administration, the national debt held by the public was more than 100 percent of our gross domestic product (GDP). At the end of the Reagan administration, it was only 41 percent of GDP. (Mr. Kennedy left us with debt equal to 42 percent of GDP; in 1996 at the end of the first Clinton administration, debt was 48 percent of GDP; and it is about 37 percent today.)

As a rough rule of thumb, if the economy grows 6 percent (4 percent real and 2 percent inflation), a deficit of 2 percent to 3 percent yearly can be sustained forever without increasing the national debt burden. (If your personal income grows faster than the amount it costs you to service your debts, you can keep acquiring debt and yet the burden will grow lighter rather than heavier.) During the last three years of both the Reagan and the Kennedy administrations, GDP was growing faster than the debt burden.

By any reasonable criteria, Presidents Reagan and Kennedy were far and away the most economically successful presidents in the past half-century. They both left the economy stronger and freer than they found it. And most Americans, regardless of income level, were clearly better off. Mr. Reagan faced a far tougher challenge than did Mr. Kennedy, whose term was also too short to be definitive.

The jury is still out on the current President Bush, but his tax cuts are working in the same magical way they did for Presidents Kennedy and Reagan. If the Fed can keep inflation low, and if the administration can reduce the growth in spending and regulation, Mr. Bush still has the opportunity to a place in the top three - if he is re-elected.

Richard W. Rahn is a senior fellow of the Discovery Institute and an adjunct scholar of the Cato Institute.

Copyright 2004 News World Communications, Inc.

Posted by JohnGalt at 12:29 PM | What do you think? [6]

The Great Depression

Jonathan Rothenberg at Blogs for Bush points out that the economy doesn't look a whole lot different in 2004 than in 1996. Older readers will recall that, in that election, voters chose the war hero William Jefferson Clinton over the Vietnam-evading Senate Minority Leader, Bob Dole, by double digits.

Roll those numbers, Ted:

  • Percent of Americans without health insurance: Bush (15.6%), Clinton (15.6%)

  • Debt as percentage of economy: Bush (37.5%), Clinton (48.5%)

  • Number of workers not in the labor force but who want a job now: Bush (5.1 million), Clinton( 5.7 million)

  • Average GDP over most recent 4 quarters: Bush (4.7%), Clinton (4.0%)

  • Home ownership rate in latest quarter: Bush (69.2%), Clinton (65.1%)

  • Inflation-adjusted average hourly earnings growth during first term: Bush (2.5%), Clinton (0.4%)

  • Inflation-adjusted income growth for average American: Bush ($1,444), Clinton ($1,256)

  • Average monthly inflation during first term: Bush (2.3%), Clinton (2.8%)

  • Unemployment rate for Hispanics during first term: Bush (7.2%), Clinton (9.7%)

  • Unemployment rate for Blacks during first term: Bush (9.9%), Clinton (11.3%)

  • Percent of high school graduates who enroll in college: Bush (64%), Clinton (62%)

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Department of Housing and Urban Development, College Board

Posted by jk at 09:55 AM | What do you think? [12]

RaTHergate Denoument?

The New York Times: CBS News Concludes It Was Misled on National Guard Memos, Network Officials Say

The officials, who asked not to be identified, said CBS News would most likely make an announcement as early as today that it had been deceived about the documents' origins. CBS News has already begun intensive reporting on where they came from, and people at the network said it was now possible that officials would open an internal inquiry into how it moved forward with the report. Officials say they are now beginning to believe the report was too flawed to have gone on the air.

But they cautioned that CBS News could still pull back from an announcement. Officials met last night with Dan Rather, the anchor who presented the report, to go over the information it had collected about the documents one last time before making a final decision. Mr. Rather was not available for comment late last night.

I'm going to miss this story, but I suppose it's time to get back to Vietnam and dirty hippies -- we can't live in the past...

Posted by jk at 08:33 AM | What do you think? [2]

September 19, 2004

Home of the Brave

A new HBO Documentary called Nine Innings from Ground Zero "tells the story of the 2001 World Series in New York. The series helped to bring back hope and optimism to the people of America following September 11."

See our president stand in front of the world -- and throw a strike in Nine Innings. It's pretty good. I worry that the President is overplaying this moment a little but it is good to watch. This country plays baseball in spite of terrorist threats. Our President does not hide in a cave or a spider hole. He stands up in Yankee Stadium

UPDATE: Fair and balanced here at Berkeley Square Blog, fair and balanced. Here's Senator Kerry showing his stuff. Hat-tip Instapundit.
Posted by jk at 11:24 AM | What do you think? [1]

September 18, 2004

Football Fans For Truth

The FFFT documents Senator Kerry's missteps as he tries to pander to sports fans. Funny stuff. They then conclude:

Yes, Republicans have endured the occasional sporting shame. George W. Bush traded Sammy Sosa. Ronald Reagan called sports plays more than he played sports. And Vince Lombardi was a Democrat.

But America deserves a President who knows the difference between an airport and a football field, and who can spook a batter at least as well as he scares a dove.

Football Fans for Truth is dedicated to informing the American sports fan of the great risk that could befall our country.

Posted by jk at 12:46 PM | What do you think? [0]

John Kerry’s plan for Social Security reform

Fox News appears to have a scoop here, although they're really low-keying it. The lead issue on FNC's Cashin' In financial show this morning was whether John Kerry's SS reform plan was "good or bad news for the economy and the market." The first question that has to be asked is, "What is his plan? All that can be found in his speeches and position papers is what he is against: "As president, John Kerry will not raise Social Security taxes, raise the retirement age, cut benefits for people that rely on Social Security, or privatize Social Security."

I still haven't figured out where they got this information or how accurate it is, but Cashin' In's unattributed detail of the Kerry plan was as follows:

$120,000 Salary

You Now Pay* - $5,450/Yr
You Will Pay* - $7,440/Yr

*Self-employed's pay double

This means that many middle class families may be paying up to $4000 more in taxes every year, or double that if both wage earners are self-employed!

I've found no independent verification of this as the official plan of Team Kerry, but it is consistent with the analysis of the Cato Institute. (How is it even a possibility that a man could be elected President of the United States despite the fact that his policy positions must be derived from tea leaves? I can answer this but it will take a future blog post to do it.) Cato says:

Actually, it is all too clear where the money will come from. As former President Bill Clinton pointed out, there are really only three options for Social Security reform: raise taxes, cut benefits, or invest privately. Since Sen. Kerry rules out private investment or benefit cuts, he could legitimately be accused of implicitly endorsing tax increases.

And mighty big tax increases they would have to be: a 50 percent increase in the payroll tax or the equivalent. This would be a tax hike far higher than what Kerry would "save" by rolling back parts of President Bush's tax cuts -- even if he hadn't already promised to use those savings to fund other government spending."

It is painfully clear to all who care to see - A Kerry administration would seek to raise taxes at every turn, limited only by their own imagination and the extent to which Congress is willing to play along. Should our nation suffer the calamity of Kerry actually winning the election, our greatest hope seems to be that he will be as indecisive in office as he has been in seeking it.

Posted by JohnGalt at 12:06 PM | What do you think? [14]

September 17, 2004

Well, Yeah, They WERE Fake!

So Dan Rather scores 50% on his "fake but accurate" defense.

ABC News reports: Guard Officer Denies Seeking Help for Bush

The man cited in media reports as having allegedly pressured others in the Texas Air National Guard to help George W. Bush is speaking out, telling ABC News in an exclusive interview that he never sought special treatment for Bush.

They found Col. Staudt who not only denied "sugar coating" Lt. Bush's performance evaluations, but also shoots down the whole thesis of the CBS "news report:"
"He didn't use political influence to get into the Air National Guard," Staudt said, adding, "I don't know how they would know that, because I was the one who did it and I was the one who was there and I didn't talk to any of them."

So Dan is left with the word of two partisan Democrats on a 30 year old story that has been investigated elsewhere several times.

No way is Karl Rove smart enough to make this stuff up -- no way!

Hat-tip: Blogs For Bush. Bill Hobbs says: "Dan Rather should not resign immediately. He should be fired. Right after apologizing to the American people and President George W. Bush live on the CBS Evening News."

Posted by jk at 02:50 PM | What do you think? [1]


I am not really over-confident. I am a worrier by nature and Senator Kerry has always seemed to have every chance of winning this election.

Looking at the map today from, my sanguinity-meter is drifting a little into the green. Today's map shows the President picking up 285 electoral votes. Looking at the red, I see Iowa, Florida and New Hampshire as questionable but the rest look pretty solid to me.

In the blue, I think Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Minnesota are in play, with a possible but slim shot at Oregon, Maine and New Mexico.

No, I don't believe the President is up by 14 points -- but I do like the look of this map. A lot.

Posted by jk at 11:58 AM | What do you think? [4]

Honey, Those Are Democrats

...and they're just like that.

AP/Yahoo shows this picture of Sophia Parlock. In a dignified display of the seriousness of their party's ideas and the perspicacity of their arguments, Kerry-Edwards supporters tore up the three-year-old's Bush-Cheney sign and made her cry.


Yes, I'm sure one could find examples of over-zealousness in the GOP ranks, but I have to say that after the Protesters at the convention in New York City, ads, fake memos, Bush=Hitler signs, and Susan Estrich's call to bring up alcoholism, I am feeling like I am on the side of the choirboys.

The Swifties have made some serious allegations, but they signed their names and are available for cross-examination. Senator Kerry could dispel all the allegations by releasing his records with the famous Form 180.

UPDATE: HOAX? There are rumblings in the blogosphere that "Dad" has made these claims before.

I am NOT completely standing by this story. If it's fake it;s fake. I will update as required. Congressional investigation?

UPDATE2: Michele Malkin is not as ready to give up on this story. She thinks The Left Is Desparate For A Hoax

UPDATE3: Blogs for Bush is standing by the story -- and President Bush sent along a new sign and an autographed picture.

Posted by jk at 10:37 AM | What do you think? [0]

Bernie G

One guy who has been on my mind of late is Bernard Goldberg, Author of "Bias" and "Arrogance," both of which are superb and reasoned exposes of CBS News.

He has been shunned from the brotherhood of newsmen for having the temerity to speak the truth. But he is being vindicated every day RaTHergate progresses.

He gets a small chortle in today in a guest editorial in the Wall Street Journal (on the free site, too!)

We're the ones who have a right to be angry with CBS News, but it turns out that Dan Rather is the one who's really fuming. Not at the source who got him into all of this, but at those "partisans" who are fanning the flames. The Washington Post quotes him as saying: "I don't cave when the pressure gets too great from these partisan political forces." He's absolutely right that some of his critics are partisans. But how about Dan's source? Is he also a partisan?
This is why, I suspect, he isn't coming clean, despite the damage to his reputation. Because Dan Rather may be protecting not just his source, but himself; because, if the source turns out to be a partisan, then Dan wasn't just taken for a ride, but may have been a willing passenger.

And then Dan, and CBS News, can kiss their reputations goodbye.


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

Next Theatre of GWOT

It is likely too late to prevent North Korea from constructing nuclear warheads. The window of opportunity for that mission was open during the Clinton administration, and likely closed early this century.

Now another nation is on the verge of getting "the bomb" and there may or may not be any way to prevent it. This think tank report suggests that Iran will have fissile material in as little as two years: "Significant Uranium enrichment could begin at Natanz in 2006, and plutonium production could begin at Arak by 2010."

It is important to recognize a fundamental difference, however, between Iran and North Korea (DPRK). While both have been declared members of the "Axis of Evil," their governments adhere to different ideologies. The DPRK is ruled by communism under orders from a homicidal dictator, but the dictatorial regime of Iran is an Islamist theocracy that embraces not just homicide, but suicide, to achieve its demented aims. The threat of total nuclear annihilation may be enough to keep the DPRK in check, but Iran's aging mullahs might relish the thought of Israel and a few major US cities vaporizing in a mushroom cloud followed by their own exit into paradise through US ICBM retaliation.

Does anyone doubt that at the very least they'd "look the other way" while Hezbollah "stole" a few warheads? Iran is one of the places on earth where nuclear bombs just can't be tolerated by the free world.

So how do we prevent it? Diplomacy, diplomacy and more diplomacy. This will fail, of course. When no other option remains we can expect the Israelis to bomb Iran's nuke facilities like they did in Iraq almost 20 years ago. The question is, will the US aid or stand in the way of that effort? The answer to that question likely depends whether our president's name is Bush or Kerry.

Time is running out on our window of opportunity. According to, "The window of opportunity for disarming strikes against Iran will begin to close in 2005."

One wonders if this is what Dick Cheney had in mind when he said, "It's absolutely essential that eight weeks from today, on Nov. 2, we make the right choice, because if we make the wrong choice then the danger is that we'll get hit again and we'll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States."

Posted by JohnGalt at 08:21 AM | What do you think? [9]

September 16, 2004

Woman's View

I think we all miss 50% of life because we don't see what the "other sex" sees.

Power Line -- a major player in the Rathergate contretemps -- shows something I never would've seen:

I don't know if anyone has ever pointed this out to you, but I think every time Bush is shown in his Natl Guard Uniform, is a plus for him because he looks so cute in it. His image is very appealing to women. I think this helps him instead of hurting him. What do you think? Maybe others can opine.

And they do, all supporting this reasoning. My favorite comment:
I guess I'm not wealthy enough to have a close family member who finds Kerry attractive.

Rasmussen shows W up in today's poll.

Hat tip for both to The Corner

Posted by jk at 01:33 PM | What do you think? [0]

Don't you dis #7!

I sent a letter to Andrew Sullivan, who linked to this Ryan Lizza piece in The New Republic. I said "Okay, you can bash my President. But when you come after John Elway..."

Lizza and TNR are mad that President Bush lives in a parallel universe with country music and loyal followers. He apparently doesn't beat his breast about difficulties in the MidEast, and:

The economy is, in the words of former Broncos quarterback John Elway, who introduces Bush in Greenwood Village, "the best in the world."

My subject line was "Who's is Better?"

Seriously, I was at that rally, and I cheered when John Elway said that. Looking at GDP growth, unemployment, any reasonable measurement, I would say it is true.

So: an incumbent President is touring the country, giving his supporters the best angle on events. Quite a scoop, Ryan!

Posted by jk at 01:12 PM | What do you think? [5]

Media Bias

Ummm, that's Conservative Bias, of course -- what other kind is there?

Thanks to WSJ Political Diary:

"The framers of our nation never envisioned the huge media giants, never imagined what could happen if big government, big publishing and big broadcasters ever saw eye to eye in putting the public's need for news second to their own interest and the ideology of free market economics. Nor could they have foreseen a quasi official partisan press serving as a mighty megaphone for the regime in power. Stretching from a legion of think tanks funded by corporations to the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal, to Rupert Murdoch's far flung empire, to the nattering know-nothings of talk radio, there is a ceaseless conveyor belt, often taking its cues from daily talking points supplied by the Republican National Committee, booming the official party line into the public consciousness" -- from Bill Moyer's keynote address to the Society of Professional Journalists on Saturday.

Posted by jk at 12:46 PM | What do you think? [0]

Health Care Reform

Piling on the health care debate...

John Kerry and his merry band of anti-war Robin Hood brothers pretend that they want to focus the national discussion on health care reform. While they continue to waddle through the fall-out of their bungled cloak and dagger mission in Kinko's of Abilene, JK and Silence have been talking health care.

Silence sounds like President Bush with his comment, "As JK would say, it is about choices and I would like to see this country move toward a system that gives me as a consumer a direct choice over my health insurance." Well, almost anyway. W wants to give consumers more control over their health care. More to the point, Silence says he is not asking for anyone to pay for his health care, but those who lobby for mandatory health insurance coverage for all are doing precisely that. That's what insurance is after all. The essential distinction between a market based choice is that individuals currently have the freedom to take their health insurance business somewhere else or, as many others do, to pay their healthcare provider directly. Forcing insurers to accept everyone destroys this choice (analogous to public schools, but with much more money at stake).

On the specific subject of tort reform, the CBO reports that more than 40 states have at least one tort restriction in place and evidence shows malpractice premiums are lower as a result. They also claim that malpractice costs account for "less than 2 percent" of total health care spending, (four times the half-percent figure Silence cited) but that the growth rate of malpractice awards has been double the rate of inflation since 1986 and malpractice insurance premiums have risen 15% from 2000 to 2002, nearly twice as fast as total health care spending per person.

The same report mentions what amounts to the major problem here:

"The amounts that physicians pay for malpractice coverage are generally based on broad aggregates, which reflect factors such as doctors' medical specialties and locations but neglect relevant differences in the quality of their services. Thus, even if premiums are correct on average, they may be too high for the large majority of physicians and too low for a minority who are less careful or competent."

Whatever reforms we make must lead us back toward the power of natural market selection that helps put the inferior providers of other products and services out of business. Anything that doesn't meet this test will only make matters worse. In health care financing, as in health care provision - "First, do no harm."

Posted by JohnGalt at 10:26 AM | What do you think? [1]

Tort Reform and Health Care Costs

Silence and I have been enjoying a discussion on health care costs, centered around both Colorado Senatorial candidates' ideas on the topic.

He was "fact-checking my ass" to use the blogosphere vernacular. I had claimed that Senator Edwards had forced doctors to perform C-Sections by his suits against OB-Gyns.

According to an article in the WSJ Ed Page, my claim that "all children in the area were delivered by C-Section" was overstated. Yet I think my point holds:

John Edwards built his career suing doctors and hospitals, claiming that maternity-ward missteps caused newborns to develop cerebral palsy. The theory that doctor error is a common cause of CP was dubious when Mr. Edwards used it to win his cases, from the 1980s to the mid-1990s, and is universally rejected by experts today.

[...] attacks on alleged negligence in the maternity ward may actually have hurt the quality of patient care. Many CP lawsuits, including one that Mr. Edwards describes in his book, turned on the theory that doctors could have prevented CP by ordering a cesarian section. Such suits put nonmedical pressure on doctors and hospitals to choose c-sections. In the past 30 years, the proportion of births by c-section has gone up fivefold. But a 2003 study in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that the rate of CP remains constant.

The articles author, as it happens has CP himself. He points out that to a lawyer, there is a villian for every problem, when in real life it might not be so. I like the close as well:
I can't blame Mr. Edwards for taking the opposite tack when he was a lawyer in private practice, seeking in each case to argue that someone else was at fault for whatever misfortune befell his clients. But I do blame him for fighting tort reform tooth and nail in the Senate. As a senator he is supposed to represent the public interest, not just the interests of plaintiffs and lawyers. His defense of the status quo implies that he is comfortable with the increasingly tendentious efforts of the trial bar to ascribe responsibility for nature's misfortunes to the deepest pockets around.

The big picture is that this represents a freedom grab by an unelected body. Trial lawyers shut down playgrounds, force medical procedures and change many aspects of our quotidian life -- with no authority of the governed. An MD friend of mine wanted to go into obstetrics, but was dissuaded by an instructor at medical school because of lawsuits. She chose another field but the choice should have been hers, not the lawyers'.

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

Guitars, Cadillacs and Hillbilly Music

An email from "Sugarchuck." I don't think he'll mind if I share it:

You've heard this next bit before, but it happened again, so I'll retell it. I was playing with a country band in Albert Lea, MN on Saturday night, 9-11 and at the end of the first set the band played "America The Beautiful". Everyone in the place stood up, took off their hats, put their hands over their hearts and sang along. Some folks cried. The place was decorated in red, white and blue streamers and there were flags on the wall. It was incredibly moving and once again I am flummoxed to explain why liberals are so cynical and hostile towards the symbols of our country and patriotism in general.

I though the same at the Bush rally. They passed out signs and American flags; we waved them en masse at the applause lines. I know there are a lot of flags at Democratic rallies, but I wondered if the attendees were nearly as comfortable carrying and waving them as were the Republicans.

Sugarchuck is on his way to see the President in Minnesota (guaranteed dirty hippy country!) maybe we can press him for a report.

Posted by jk at 08:32 AM | What do you think? [4]

September 15, 2004

The Economic Side of RaTHergate

If I have been silent on Rathergate of late, it is a complete admission of my being outclassed. The documents are phony, CBS's reputation will depend on its actions and whether other events push this story off A10 (where this story ran in the WaPo), Senator Kerry's campaign will at the very least, lose some news cycles, and possibly become completely enmeshed in this imbroglio. Pat Caddell says "Game Over."

I'm not writing 'cause I am reading. This baby has reached critical mass, vaulting the blogosphere into recognition. Brit Hume did a great interview the other day with Charles Johnson, exposing the "pajamahadeen" (props to Jim Geraghty for the term) as the lawyers, law professors and professional journalists they are.

Carroll Andrew Morse at TCS pens an interesting perspective. In What Dan Rather and the Carter Center Need to Learn, Morse points out that a minimal cost distribution mechanism now allows primary data to be shared with information consumers. And that this has enabled the blogosphere to examine the CBS memos and Venezuelan election results.

Until the Internet was established, the dissemination of primary information usually involved paper and ink -- commodities that cost money. It was economically impossible to provide everyone with every detail of every story. Editors were charged with making a trade-off. They had to decide which details were important enough to fit into the limited space they were allocated. Not all of the information could make the cut. In the Internet age, economic justifications for not releasing as much detail as possible are weaker. Very little production cost is involved is releasing primary source information in electronic format.

Given access to primary information, people like Rigobon, Hausmann and Johnson began to ask some detailed questions. They tried starting a conversation, not just in the blogosphere, but in a wider civicsphere -- a place where people can come together and share information and ideas, using any media format available. Unfortunately, big media and elite NGOs are not used to holding conversations. They had become too used to giving lectures instead. The Carter Center, attempting to declare any questions about the recall closed after a single, controversial audit, tried to stop the conservation before it started. CBS basically told the bloggers to shut up and go away.

Of course, I think there are some moral lessons that President Carter and Mr. Rather might consider learning as well. Rather may have one coming up here pretty soon.

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


You ask, I deliver!

Johngalt was able to snap some pictures of a protester at the Bush Rally yesterday.

Lovingly known as "dirty hippie pictures," AlexC was good enough to share his. My cruel censorship pen deleted these from the first batch, but here they are.

This is good composition, jg, said dirty hippie (shirt untucked, tsk, tsk!) is "shown the exit." Priceless

He flashed the peace sign as he was being escorted out. So, a GOP supporter shares a half a peace sign at him to show solidarity.

Posted by jk at 08:31 AM | What do you think? [2]

September 14, 2004

Pix from the Denver Rally

Johngalt has some pictures from the Bush Rally in Denver. If this is where he was sitting, I was about six away.

I had a great time. W's speech was good. Yeah it's the stump speech, yeah you've heard it, but yeah, it was great to hear it live. "Good to be back in Colorado where you see more cowboy hats than ties."

A big treat for me was to hear Pete Coors. He really cemented his position in my book. I was going to vote for him because he has an 'R' after his name. Now I am convinced that he's an important addition to the U.S. Senate. As I said in a comment, I realize now he is a Reaganite. Less Government, less spending, less regulation, lower taxes and tort reform defined his speech. "Fifty seven lawyers are enough in the Senate -- send in a businessman!"

The President was introduced by the architect of "the Drive." I'm not sure there was an undecided voter in the house, but that's not a bad combo in Denver That's Mr. Elway behind him, towering over Governor Owens.

I sat next to a 17 year old Republican activist/volunteer who wants to be a Senator someday. Chelsea, you have my vote! What a treat to meet the future of the GOP! Some students from DU were behind me.

The place was PACKED and enthusiastic

The band was good as well -- some local guys who went to NY to play the convention parties.

Republican 20-somethings singing John Prine songs ("Angel From Montgomery") I think maybe realignment happened!

UPDATE: the band is called Mission 19

Click "continue reading for more and higher-rez pictures...

Posted by jk at 01:59 PM | What do you think? [5]

Early Beta Version of MS Word

Here's the best illustration I can imagine of the phoniness of CBS' infamous 'Bush AWOL' memo. (Isn't it amazing how these shameless Bush partisans can manipulate their computers to make the output look just like it came from one of the old mechanical typewriters we used as kids!) This is an animated GIF image of the CBS "original" alternately superimposed with an MS Word re-enactment.


Props to Charles Johnson at LGF.

Posted by JohnGalt at 12:15 PM | What do you think? [0]

Gonna See W

Can't let AlexC have ALL the fun. I am going to see the President down in Denver. I saw him four years ago after he had secured the nomination.

Light blogging today, but I will try to post a report.

Posted by jk at 01:01 AM | What do you think? [6]

September 13, 2004


Give the man his props. Hugh Hewitt did a superb roundup of Rathergate last Friday.

Today, he wonders about Senator Kerry missing on the milk carton. Forty-four-days (eleven more than the Monty Python sketch: "still no sight of land...") -- well, still no sign of Senator Kerry with a real journalist.

Calling a reporter on a Sunday while not appearing on the Sunday shows is an admission of both panic and certainty that the candidate couldn't have managed other than a controlled interview, and certainly not a television interview that would provide tape of a bumbler/stumbler still clutching his magic hat fantasy. What if Russert had rolled tape from StolenHonor? What is Chris Wallace had asked about the gun-running to Cambodia? The handlers can't risk letting Kerry out of the box he built for himself, so Campaign 2004 Deathwatch continues. How bad is it for the Dems? One report has a decision being taken to "unleash" Al Gore, which is like sending Jayson Blair to the aid of Dan Rather. Who's next? A reunion tour of Clark and Moore, with Howard Dean as an opening act?

Polls, shmolls, this dude is in a bit of trouble.

Posted by jk at 04:48 PM | What do you think? [1]

How 'Bout Them Broncos


Posted by jk at 01:29 PM | What do you think? [2]

September 11, 2004

Happy Patriot Day

Flew a brand new flag today. Pretty day, just like three years ago. My old one was flown last on the day of President Reagan's funeral.


God bless this wonderful country and all the brave men and women who have worn its uniform.

Posted by jk at 04:25 PM | What do you think? [0]

Swifties vs. National Guard

I tried to write last week about the difference between media coverage of the "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" vs that of possible interruptions in President Bush's National Guard service.

I will instead link to two stories that capture it. First Mark Steyn takes the discrepancy on directly:

A few weeks ago, Thomas Oliphant of the Boston Globe was on PBS' ''Newshour'' explaining why the hundreds of swift boat veterans' allegations against John Kerry's conduct in Vietnam was unworthy of his attention. "The standard of clear and convincing evidence," he said, talking to Swiftvet John O'Neill as if he were a backward fourth-grader, ''is what keeps this story in the tabloids -- because it does not meet basic standards.''
Unfortunately for CBS, Dan Rather's hairdresser sucks up so much of the budget that there was nothing left for any fact-checking, so the ''60 Minutes'' crew rushed on air with a damning National Guard memo conveniently called ''CYA'' that Bush's commanding officer had written to himself 32 years ago. ''This was too hot not to push,'' one producer told the American Spectator. Hundreds of living Swiftvets who've signed affidavits and are prepared to testify on camera -- that's way too cold to push; we'd want to fact-check that one thoroughly, till, say, midway through John Kerry's second term. But a handful of memos by one dead guy slipped to us by a Kerry campaign operative -- that meets ''basic standards'' and we gotta get it out there right away.

One dead guy whose wife and son disavow the memos vs more than 200 living, breathing Navy Veterans who will sign their name and take questions today. That is a stunning difference, yet Rather & Co. opted for the former.

Next I would like to reinforce a little recent history. The Swifties were not covered in the mainstream media, until the story reached critical mass in new media. Jonathan Last nails it in last week's Weekly Standard. The piece is called "The Not-So-Swift Mainstream Media"

Over the next 11 days, an interesting dynamic took hold: Talk-radio and the blog world covered the Cambodia story obsessively. They reported on border crossings during Vietnam and the differences between Swift boats and PBRs. They also found two other instances of Kerry's talking about his Christmas in Cambodia. Spurred on by the blogs, Fox led the August 9 Special Report with a Carl Cameron story on Kerry's Cambodia discrepancy.

All the while, traditional print and broadcast media tried hard to ignore the story--even as Kerry officially changed his position on his presence in Cambodia. Then on August 19, Kerry went public with his counter assault against Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, and suddenly the story was news. The numbers are fairly striking: Before August 19, the New York Times and Washington Post had each mentioned Swift Boat Veterans for Truth just 8 times; the Los Angeles Times 7 times; the Boston Globe 4 times. The broadcast networks did far less. According to the indefatigable Media Research Center, before Kerry went public, ABC, CBS, and NBC together had done a total of 9 stories on the Swifties. For comparison, as of August 19 these networks had done 75 stories on the accusation that Bush had been AWOL from the National Guard.

I am reading "Unfit for Command" today. There are many serious charges that have still not been investigated. The ones that have have seem to come out on the Swifties' side.

Many of their charges are emotional and improvable. But many deserve a closer look, say half the attention similar charges against President Bush would receive.

Posted by jk at 03:43 PM | What do you think? [0]

September 10, 2004

1002 Bush Blogs

Blogs For Bush announced its 1000th (shouldn't that th be superscript?) member blog today. Congrats.

Curious that neither Berkeley Square Blog nor Dogs for Bush has made the cut. I have applied for both. Probably Silence's comments keeping us out...

Posted by jk at 02:20 PM | What do you think? [5]

Friday Funnies

I was gonna do a Power Point Presentation, found in 1968 proving John Kerry was not in Cambodia, but I have been outdone.

Then there's this jewel from Wizbang!

And go see ClassicalValues' pix. He suspects they might be forgeries...

And, it's NOT Superscriptgate -- it's: Rathergate

UPDATE: One more, from The Llama butchers, via Instapundit:

Posted by jk at 01:36 PM | What do you think? [0]

Lileks on Superscriptgate

I want the forgery scandal to discredit CBS and the New York Times further. This is not schadenfruede: some people still believe what they say and I'll be much happier when they reform or people stop believing their lies.

LILEKS says that it's over for big media but I think he overplays the current dissatisfaction:

I mentioned the story to someone today – a friend who has his ideas about politics, of course, but doesn’t follow the braided strands of intrigue that thread through the blogosphere. He’s an independent. Ventura voter. He’d heard about the latest round of National Guard stories, and he couldn’t care less. I told him about the forgery rumors; he was amused. Did it change his opinion of CBS? Not really, because he didn’t care for them one way or the other. Dan Rather’s news was the Daily Show without the laughs.

Anecdotal evidence, of course, take it for what it’s worth. But I think the number of people who regard the evening news as straight truth delivered by disinterested observers, can be numbered in the high dozens. Blogs haven’t toppled old media. The foundations of Old Media were rotten already. The new media came along at the right time.

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

Just Not Materialistic Enough

Virginia Postrel has a piece in The New York Times that makes that very claim. She's not staying up late worrying but she thinks it affects economic stats more than people realize:

As incomes go up, Americans spend a greater proportion on intangibles and relatively less on goods. One result is more new jobs in hotels, health clubs and hospitals, and fewer in factories.

In 1959, Americans spent about 40 percent of their incomes on services, compared with 58 percent in 2000. That figure understates the trend, because in many cases goods and services come bundled together.

Guitars excepted, I don't have the material lust I used to for stereo equipment, computers or recording tackle. I updated the studio for my recent CD project but I bought good quality, older technology gear (some used on eBay).

Virginia rocks for intersecting economics, social and political trends:

As an economist would put it, this research found diminishing marginal utility - less enjoyment from an additional purchase - from new possessions, compared with experiences like travel and restaurant meals. "The good life," the authors wrote, "may be better lived by doing things than by having things."

This result sounds both logical and humanistic. It's consistent with economic theory. But translated into economic life, it disrupts cherished assumptions.

In the popular imagination and the political debate, making things is "real" work. Providing experiences is not. Analysts assume that working in a factory is a good job and working in a hotel is not.

This perception is not just a question of relative wages. Even at the top, it's more prestigious to create stuff than experiences

Similarly, the election-year news suggests that the economy is bad all over. But in fact, states like Florida and Nevada, whose economies produce experiences, are booming. States like Ohio and Michigan, whose economies produce stuff, are hurting.

The shift toward intangibles creates geographic winners and losers, redistributing economic and political clout.

Over the last eight years, the demographer Peter Francese reports, "people have been moving out of the Northeast and Midwest at a net rate of just over 30,000 a month." In the July/August issue of American Demographics magazine, he documents the story of "young people pulling up stakes in the Northeast and Midwest and dispersing to better jobs and more affordable places to live, where the weather often happens to be a lot better."

Americans are pouring out of the Northeast and Midwest, where water and rail transportation and convenient raw materials once provided an economic advantage. They're going to the more hospitable physical and economic climates of the South and West.

There, catering to emotion and imagination is "real" work and pleasure is a form of quality.

Posted by jk at 09:00 AM | What do you think? [0]

September 09, 2004

Our Fourth Estate in Action

I'm geeky enough to read the AP on weekends but even I missed this retraction. The blogosphere has been abuzz on this story but I did not realize a formal retraction had run.

This link is to Partisan, but I don't think they made up an AP story. Even 60 minutes might blanch at that.

The Associated Press has retracted its Friday afternoon report that a crowd at a Bush rally in West Allis, Wisc., booed when President Bush offered ex-President Clinton best wishes for a speedy recovery from coronary bypass surgery scheduled for next week.

In a report that moved on the AP wire at 9:27 a.m. Saturday, the AP said:

"This is a correction to an incorrect story posted by AP on Friday stating the crowd booed the President when he sent his good wishes. The crowd, in fact, did NOT boo."

A transcript of Bush's remarks released by the White House noted applause after Bush offered Clinton "best wishes for a swift and speedy recovery."

ABC Radio Network news also confirmed that the Clinton reference was applauded, not jeered.

Boos, applause, near Cambodia, in Cambodia, proportional fonts in 1973 -- that's an awful lot for reporters to keep up with!

Mises would have loved blogs. In a bunch of bloggers, there's someone who'll recognize the forgery that 60 Minutes or the Boston Globe misses, and there's somebody who'll find somebody who was in the crowd. Distributed decision making -- it works!

UPDATE: LGF has recreated the memo in MS-Word, pretty suspicious...

Posted by jk at 12:08 PM | What do you think? [8]


Man, am I ever gettin' to like this guy! He's running as an R and takes a shot at Senator Chuck Grassley in the campaign. From today’s OpinionJournal diary:

Pro-Beer, Anti Pork

Beer magnate Pete Coors is sending signals that he's willing to make some U.S. Senators feel the heat for pork-barrel spending if Coloradoans elect him to that body this November. The Republican nominee has launched an ad he calls "Gravy Train," which lambastes "politicians and lawyers in the Senate who want you to pay for their pet programs."

His chief example is a $50 million federal grant for an indoor rain forest in Iowa. The project is a favorite of Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, chairman of the powerful Finance Committee that Mr. Coors hopes to join as a member. A Grassley aide says "the senator wasn't offended by the Coors ad" and there would be no retribution exacted for it. Still, Democrats are already pointing out that the bill that included the rain forest was also backed by prominent Colorado Republicans, including retiring Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell. Mr. Coors says that just provides further proof he'd be willing to be an independent voice against higher spending.

-- John Fund

Posted by jk at 11:34 AM | What do you think? [6]

On Bush Hatred

A guest Editorial on the OpinionJournal site today forces up a mea culpa from your humble blog host. A New York writer, Alan Bromly, admits:

One very engaging TV show host, describing himself as a Democrat, asked me, "Where does the hatred of President Bush come from? I don't understand it."

"You know," I replied, "I have to confess to recognizing that hatred. I had it for President Clinton. I knew from the moment that he said he 'didn't inhale' that he was a gratuitous, if not compulsive, liar, and from there I questioned his every move. The attempt to take over the health care industry, the IRS audits of so many critics of his that the odds of spotting a platypus in the Central Park reservoir were greater than not being audited if you were an anti-Clinton group; the treatment of Billy Dale in the travel office. I felt he was brutal in his dealings with people, all while espousing equality, so I came to loathe him."

Now, when I witness the hatred spewing from this season's protesters, I realize how difficult it was for my friends to accept my own loathing, no matter how justified I felt.

Yup. Me too. Watching President Clinton at the Democratic Convention this year, I was stuck by his political perspicacity -- the guy is the politician of our lifetime.

While I feel those gifts were perhaps wasted, I must admit that subsequent crops of Democrat candidates have not held to his statesmanship. What I wouldn't give for a free trading D candidate today.

Speedy recovery, Mr. President. Get better so you can start driving me crazy again.

Posted by jk at 08:33 AM | What do you think? [4]

September 08, 2004

A Django Day

Not that hard to get jazz in the blog, izzit? LILEKS pitches in today with a nice close:

It’s still not-fall outside; I’m still wearing shorts. I’m going to get my iPod and head out back and fire up a Panter and set the playlist to Django. Because it’s either a Django sort of day or it’s not. And this one was a Django day. Every day should be a Django day.

Amen. Goodnight.

Posted by jk at 04:20 PM | What do you think? [0]

The Dream Team

That is, a bi-partisan, economic dream team to educate voters enough to pass entitlement reform.

Holman Jenkins, Jr. in a WSJ Editorial today (paid site only, sorry!) lays out a roster for this dream team, building on a short Political Diary entry that I blogged last week.

A LOT of education is needed, starting with a realistic look at the problem:

promises made to bondholders show up in the national debt. Promises made to future retirees don't.

Thus the officially recognized national debt is about $3.9 trillion, while the unfunded Social Security obligation alone represents an IOU of $10 trillion in present value. Throw Medicare onto the bonfire and that's another $62 trillion.

Keep in mind these figures represent only the "unfunded" portion, not the part covered by monies already credited to notional federal trust funds or to be collected in payroll taxes from now till eternity. It would take $3.9 trillion today to retire the visible national debt, and $72 trillion today to pay off unfunded promises to retirees. Yet only the first debt is reported to voters.

That's the kind of accounting "oversight" that, in the private sector, leads straight to a cellblock.

He said "hoosegow" in the original story -- I wouldn't have changed it to cellblock. Beyond style, he really does develop a plan to promote reform, starting with the dream team:
So let's recruit Joe Lieberman for Job One, propagandizing on behalf of realistic budgeting. He recently introduced a Senate bill to impose just such "present value" accounting on the federal government. No doubt he would receive enthusiastic support from the Medicare and Social Security trustees, who produced the above estimates. Why is this important? Because suddenly the $1 trillion in "transition costs" to finance the creation of the Bush-touted private retirement accounts for younger workers doesn't seem so outlandish compared to the real federal debt, visible and invisible.

Next up is Job Two, spreading an understanding that such transition borrowing would, in fact, be "refinancing." In effect, Treasury bonds due in 30 years would be sold to investors and the money used to retire Social Security obligations to younger workers, also due in roughly 30 years. The younger workers could reinvest the money in productive assets, for the benefit of themselves and the economy as a whole.

Here, we should call on Suze Orman, Jane Bryant Quinn and the folks at Kiplinger's, accomplished expositors of financial thinking for the general public. It doesn't hurt, too, that many leading opinion makers have just been through the educational experience of refinancing their Nantucket manses.

Job Three: Plenty of work remains for Pete Peterson, the Concord Coalition and other longtime Jeremiahs of the federal budget. The Bushies mean well but there's no doubt that Republican lawmakers will shrink from a deal that asks anything of anybody. Remember, the goal is not just to supplement Social Security but to substitute real ownership of real assets for the current federal Ponzi scheme. That means younger workers should be expected give up some of their future entitlement in return for the right to invest a portion of their payroll taxes today.

Job Four is a toughie. Unreasoning risk aversion is a hallmark of the human mind, and Democrats and their pet economists are already doing all they can to encourage the stand-pattism of certain voting blocs, especially single women and oldsters. John Kerry never tires of frightening these voters with the Satans of Wall Street and Ken Lay. He says instead a "tweak here, tweak there" will tide Social Security over without any "risky" reforms.

There is an entrenched political class that will fight this tooth and nail. We can all hear the commercials and speeches against it in our heads.

Maybe a second term Bush would have a chance at this. We need a lot of statesmanship on both sides -- that portends poorly. But this team is a nice dream.

Posted by jk at 09:35 AM | What do you think? [0]

September 07, 2004

Subsidized Art

A Europhilic friend loves to tell me that in France, the Government buys theatre, concert and opera tickets -- so everybody can go get some culture, while we have to go to Wal*Mart.

I say "so you want to have Tom DeLay and John Ashcroft picking your entertainment for you?" Seriously, what are these people thinking? The more art is paid for by gub'mint, the more the artists have to pander to bureaucrats -- that doesn't bother anybody?

It bugs Dr. Eamonn Butler, at Adam Smith Institute Blog. He looks at the effect on art museums:

The American bank robber, Willie Sutton, was asked why he persisted in robbing banks. "That's where the money is," he replied.

On Radio 4's You & Yours programme this Thursday, I'm going to suggest that Britain's museums suck up to politicians for the same reason - because that's where the money is. Indeed, members of the public can only be a nuisance to them, since the government has banned entry fees.

And so the museums come to reflect the values of their paymasters - elites who love big projects and big projects, preferably in London.

We have too many marble palaces built on the sewer of public money - money that is forced out of us under pain of imprisonment. Isn't it a much more wholesome idea to make museums depend on access charges and voluntary donations? They they would have to engage with their real customers, and be businesslike about it.

I'm so glad I'm livin' in the USA

Posted by jk at 04:46 PM | What do you think? [2]

New Economy

Ever possible that I am way behind the curve here. But did you know you could do this:

Buy a guitar on Amazon? (I have one of these L200s, by the way, this is a very nice guitar.) This is an alliance with Musician's Friend, which is the Internet arm of the Guitar Center chain. So there is nothing miraculous, and yet it amazes me all the same.

Posted by jk at 10:40 AM | What do you think? [2]

Bush Will Bury Kerry

JK has started the post-labor day season with a bit of impressive mathematics. I know he's just excited and proud over finding a (the?) solution, but one might conclude there aren't important political stories to discuss, here on the home of jazz, guitars and right-wing politics.

WSJ's Brendan Miniter uses his column today to make a stunning prediction -

"Mr. Kerry will be lucky to top the 45.7% of the popular vote Michael Dukakis got in 1988."

I'll summarize Miniter's summary of the reasons:

- Promised to raise taxes, just like Walter Mondale.

- Republican turnout on Nov. 2 will be boosted by formerly indifferent evangelical Christians and the urgency of continuing a proactive war against terror.

- Campaign finance reform has been a net advantage for Bush vs. Kerry.

- Union voters in several key swing states will have difficulty voting for the patrician Kerry.

- Swing state economies are as good or better than the national average.

- Kerry's 'tell them what they want to hear' strategy reveals his own lack of confidence that his message, when delivered clearly and consistently, will win the day.

- Dem strategists are urging Kerry to concede the most important single issue of this election - national security.

- Kerry's come from behind victory against Bill Weld was closer than it should have ever been for a two-term Democrat senator in the only state carried by George McGovern.

Miniter closes with an analogy:

"Democrats politely say that he's not very charismatic, but the truth is that he's like a tone-deaf musician who stumbles into a gig at Carnegie Hall and can't understand why the crowd doesn't cheer."

See, I even managed to work some Jazz into this blog!!

Posted by JohnGalt at 10:13 AM | What do you think? [1]


Told you!

Well, a solution of sorts is up to Derb's math problem.

There's no closed-form solution for the radius of the inner circle in the limit. Its numerical value is approximately 0.1149420448532, but using the product of cosines formula converges horribly slowly. However, using some evil jiggery-pokery and the product of terms -> sum of logs technique adumbrated above, you can get a fast converging series using, mirabile dictu, the Riemann zeta function.

It is a hair advanced for me. In retrospect, I took it as far as was reasonable for me. Just being a dropout, country boy, the likelihood of my taking it as far as the Zeta function was slim to none, with Slim having just left town.

For those of you who don't know John Derbyshire, I will recommend his book Prime Obsession. It is excellent if you like Math at all.

I am the proud owner of a signed copy. I met Mr. Derbyshire (DARB-uh-sure) at the Boulder Bookstore. Had any of them encountered his political writings, I am sure there would have been protests on Pearl Street. But his Math stuff is non-partisan.

Posted by jk at 09:27 AM | What do you think? [8]

September 06, 2004

Happy Labor Day

I'll be windsurfing in Nantucket, as per usual, so probably no posting from me today. Then I suppose I'll come home and watch "Norma Rae."

I haven't read "Grapes of Wrath" since I was a lad. I really dig Steinbeck: accepting, as Sugarchuck says, that it's all lies. I must someday come up with a coherent theory of the rights to organize, collective bargaining as part of free markets, and the like. But not today. If you guys want to do it, be my guest!

I'll meet you in the Yacht Club after for a light lunch -- about 3:30?

Posted by jk at 09:45 AM | What do you think? [0]

September 05, 2004

Final Furlong Preview

Last Friday we learned that Bush has sprinted past JFK to a post convention double-digit lead in the polls. While many prominent democrats are worried, Spitball and Scream are cool as cucumbers.

Kerry: "We're doing good. They are going to get a bounce out of the convention. But we'll be coming back."

Dean: "I tell you, I'm the one person in America other than Bill Weld that knows John Kerry can respond."

The problem is that in both cases, Kerry came from behind among a very liberal electorate. Against Dean in the Dem primary and beating Weld in Massachusetts by 8 points while the same voters chose Clinton over Dole by a 33 point margin. Kerry is campaigning in Hard America now where the rules are different, as we all know.

Weld does give us a preview of what to expect from the Senator:

"He will have it both ways. As he moves to the center, he will run not against the Iraq war, but against this Iraq war. He'll attack, but he will always be careful to wave the flag as he does so. He will lament positions of the Christian right, but attend church without fail. He will stand for gun control, but remind voters—in appropriate states—that he is a bird hunter. He will, in other words, be pro-military—and against this war; pro-religion—and against the "extremists"; pro-gun control—and pro-guns. He will run knowing that Americans like to be for, as well as against, things."

In other words, he will attempt to fashion his flip-flop policy into a virtue. He'll pursue a sort-of 'coalition of the easily duped' trying to peak just before election day. Heck, this sounds like 'politics as usual' to me.

Posted by JohnGalt at 08:16 AM | What do you think? [2]

September 04, 2004

Zell's Shot Heard 'Round the World

Zell Miller expected ill will from fellow Democrats for his outrage over the cynical partisanship of the Democrat party leadership. But the nastiest invective I've seen yet directed his way came from an unnamed editorialist for something called the "London News Review."

This self-professed genius of nuance is willing to admit the existence of hell (if not a deity) just so that he may personallly condemn the Georgia Senator to spend eternity there. Why, you ask?

"There are very many hideous things happening in the world right now, and yet up amongst the evil Janaweed massacres and Simon Cowell is the thumpingly stupid and evil belief which is currently being espoused by the Repubicans: that the only way to fight terrorism is to be firm, strong, resolute, unflinching, unlistening, blind, unthinking, staunch.... like what George Bush Jnr is. Don't change your mind. Don't shift. Don't think."

Mister smuggy smug unleashes the nuclear treatment among grayscale -loving certainty denouncers - he calls Zell "Idiot" - because the old-fashioned democrat finds suicidal maniacs coming here to kill us and our families more hideous than "blind, unthinking, staunch" self-defense from said maniacs.

I wonder where on the scale of grey the term "idiot" falls? Somewhere between Albert Einstein and this guy, I have to say.

Posted by JohnGalt at 12:09 AM | What do you think? [2]

September 03, 2004

TIME: Bush 'Bounce' - 9 points

The first numbers are in and it doesn't look good for Senator Spitball. Today Time magazine announced results of their latest presidential election 'horse race' poll, conducted by telephone from August 31 to September 2. Among likely voters it's Bush 52 - Kerry 41.

The same poll had Bush over Kerry 46 - 44 immediately prior to the convention, and Bush trailing Kerry 43 - 48 after the Dem convention. The GOP convention bounce is therefore a 9-point gain from Bush's position over Kerry before the shindig, and 16-points from Kerry's lead as the virginal nominee.

There's a name for Kerry's (mis)fortunes since his party formally nominated him. It's called a tailspin.

UPDATE:(9/4/04) Newsweek poll puts 'bounce' at 13 points, Bush 54 - Kerry 43.

Posted by JohnGalt at 02:57 PM | What do you think? [6]

Social Security Reform

Holman Jenkins does a little accounting roundup in the WSJ Political Diary today on behalf of the President's plans to allow workers to keep and manage a piece of their Social Security.

Now that Social Security private accounts are on the menu, the first hurdle is explaining the budget to the media. Point One: A promise to bondholders increases the deficit and the debt. A promise to future retirees doesn't.

Point Two: That's the kind of accounting peculiarity that, in the private sector, leads straight to the hoosegow. Thus the reported national debt is about $3 trillion, but the unfunded liabilities of Medicare and Social Security alone are $11 trillion.

On TV and on his web site, ABC News Political Director Mark Halperin yesterday insisted that explaining how the White House planned to finance the transition to private accounts should be the test of the president's seriousness last night. OK, let's go there!

The White House itself first put $1 trillion in play as the transition cost, but when measured in light of the $14 trillion indebtedness above, the figure is less impressive than it sounds. More importantly, we're talking about a "refinancing" here -- that is, trading an IOU held by future Social Security beneficiaries (due in, say, 30 years) for an IOU held by bondholders (due in, say, 30 years).

No change in the real net fiscal position of the federal government would be required, just an exchange of invisible (to the uninformed public) debt for visible debt. Better yet, done right, the deal could be a fiscal win-win: Future retirees would have a bigger nest egg (plus ownership and control of how they spend it down, rather than the government dictating terms of their bet with the mortality tables). Meanwhile, the real indebtedness of the federal government would actually go down, not up.

That's why fussing about the transition costs misses the point. Media watchdogs should be more concerned about whether the Bush administration strikes a deal that reasonably shares the gain from being allowed to invest payroll taxes at a competitive rate of return between the individual beneficiary and the Social Security system.

Here's the devil question: How much of his traditional Social Security entitlement will a worker give up in return for the right to channel a portion of his payroll taxes into a higher-yielding private account? The Bush administration's failure to get real reform of Medicare in exchange for a drug benefit is not a promising precedent here -- but then Mr. Bush this time would no longer have to worry about being re-elected.

This would be a great second term legacy, and probably could be done -- if only by a second-termer.

One joke we should've heard at the convention: Ozzy Osborne saw W at the gridiron dinner a few years ago and said "Mr. President, why don't you grow your locks like mine?" W replied, with perfect timing, "Second term, Oz. Second term."

We have much to look forward to. (Yes, that is a little post-convention hubris.)

Posted by jk at 11:35 AM | What do you think? [0]

I thought it was great

I thought the President did a great job last night. He made a forceful case for a more interventionist Wilsonian foreign policy, he saluted the achievements of the troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Good delivery, good speech. I didn't agree with everything in it. He is not a small government guy. Never was. Never will be. But he does tie his spending to reform (I haven't seen the details for these seven million homes yet). But he is going to help the poor afford healthcare, not nationalize it. His educational spending has been tied to reform, although the legislators have eviscerated that part of it.

His reference to the FMA was vague and forceful in that way that only politicians can be. He will defend marriage from activist judges. Hey, I got no problem with that -- defend us all from activist judges.

In short, I'm on the team. There's a clear choice and I can easily tolerate my differences with the President. He is a million times better friend to liberty than Senator Kerry.

Of course, he didn't need to win my vote last night. He had it. But I thought it was an excellent speech. I'd happily have any undecideds watch it and think "that's what he stands for; that's why jk is supporting him."

Posted by jk at 08:49 AM | What do you think? [8]

September 02, 2004


Very germane to the recent discussion around here is George Will's WaPo column today:

Four decades after a Republican convention in San Francisco nominated Sen. Goldwater, sealing the ascendancy of conservatism in the party, his kind of conservatism made a comeback at the convention here. That conservatism -- muscular foreign policy backing unapologetic nationalism; economic policies of low taxation and light regulation; a libertarian inclination regarding cultural questions -- is not fully ascendant in the party. But the prominent display and rapturous reception of Rudy Giuliani and Arnold Schwarzenegger demonstrated that such conservatism is not an insurmountable impediment to a person's reaching the party's highest echelons.


The Republican Party remains firmly on the side of the pro-life and religiously motivated social conservatives. But here this week the party began in earnest the task of making others not only more comfortable within the party but eligible to rank among its leaders.

Goldwater was, in a way, the first angry man of the angry '60s. But he actually smiled far more than he scowled. In his last years some conservatives excommunicated him because of his support for abortion rights and his relaxed views regarding homosexuality. However, this week his spirit is smiling broadly.

That second-to-last paragraph paints me as being a little too sanguine at my claim of waning influence, but I'll stand by it. This entire article is excellent (no surprise from Mr. Will's pen).

Posted by jk at 02:15 PM | What do you think? [0]

Go long on Intel

One of the best by-products of freedom and free markets is innovation.

If I can get a little geeky just for a second here. I was modeling Derb's August math problem and I asked my PC to run the following:

int count = (int) Integer.MAX_VALUE;
double mygamma = 1.0;
for ( int i = 1; i < count; i++ ) {
mygamma *= Math.cos(Math.PI / (i + 2));

That's 2,147,483,647 loops, each dividing two doubles, taking a cosine, and multiplying by another double.

No optimization, nothing. My decent but unexceptional office computer did this in less than five minutes. I cannot imagine the most expensive computers of ten years ago doing this in a day.

Oh, by the way, it's 0.11494204655022983 and it's of no help solving the problem, although it does validate that a limit exists. The first five digits are the same for count = 1000000.

Back to geeky politics, thanks for the disruption.

UPDATE: My point about innovation and free markets got lost, but c'est la vie.

Here's where I'm at. Each succusive circle has the same radius as the bisected side of the current polygon, creating a right trianngle as shown:
So we need the limit of the product (Gamma) of cos(pi/(n+2). I have tried without success to turn that into a series of 1 - (integral) dr but can't pull it off.

Posted by jk at 01:29 PM | What do you think? [7]

Defense of Liberty

It occurred to me yesterday (I can't remember specifically when or why) what the real, subconscious issue is for the swift boat vets and why they feel so betrayed by Senator Spitball. It isn't merely that Senator Spitball returned from his tour of duty and became (?) an anti-war activist. They aren't offended just that he accused US soldiers of methodical and officially sanctioned commission of war crimes and human atrocities. At the heart of their disgust is the fact that Senator Spitball is opposed to all war on principle, and that the best and strongest case he could make at the time for unconditional surrender by America was 'our troops are evil.'

So not only was the war a mistake but the reason was that our military was incompetent, from top to bottom, and their attempted defense of liberty for the Vietnamese people was a travesty. It's no surprise that Vietnam vets were so demoralized and emotionally scarred by the entire affair. Senator Spitball and his ilk blamed their altruistic motive of defending the helpless from vicious tyrants for all the wickedness of war.

Budding post-modern feel-good psychologists at the time coined a malady to describe their condition - post-traumatic stress disorder. It's clear now that the real diagnosis is the extent to which collectivist ideology had invaded our own society and made a principled defense of the liberty of others impossible. Defense of liberty has been in retreat ever since, right up to the point where the liberty under assault became our own.

Senator Miller showed us last night how even a loyally democratic American reacts in that situation - Give me liberty or give me death. His is an approach that, if followed persistently by the GOP, could lead to the landslide Bush victory that St. Stephen has long predicted.

Posted by JohnGalt at 01:22 PM | What do you think? [1]


Still laughing at Senator Miller's "spitballs" line last night.

Bill Hobbs unearths and scans a "memo from 1984 where Kerry outlines his proposal to end funding for virtually every important weapons system that, as it turns out, the American military is using to win the war on terror."


* MX Missile --- Cancel --- $5.0 billion
* B-1 Bomber --- Cancel --- $8.0 billion
* Anti-satellite system --- Cancel --- $ 99 million
* Star Wars [sic] --- Cancel --- $1.3 billion
* Tomahawk Missile --- Reduce by 50 per cent --- $294 million

* AH-64 Helicopters --- Cancel --- $1.4 billion
* Division Air Defense Gun (DIVAD) --- Cancel --- $638 million
* Patriot Air Defense Missile --- Cancel --- $1.3 billion

* Aegis Air-Defense Cruiser --- Cancel --- $800 million
* Battleship Reactivation --- Cancel --- $453 million

* AV-8B Vertical Takeoff and Landing Aircraft --- Cancel --- $1.0 billion
* F-15 Fighter Aircraft --- Cancel --- $2.3 billion
* F-14A Fighter Aircraft --- Cancel --- $1.0 billion
* F-14D Fighter Aircraft --- Cancel --- $286 million
* Phoenix Air-to-Air Missile --- Cancel --- $432 million
* Sparrow Air-to-Air Missile

* Spitballs --- keep --- $37,500
(okay, just kidding about the last one!)

We are reminded that this was 1984, with Soviet tanks and missiles in East Germany. These cuts would have been reckless in '94 -- they were unconscionable in '84.

Posted by jk at 12:37 PM | What do you think? [0]

September 01, 2004


I expected a good speech from Senator Miller tonight. I did not expect a stemwinder!

That was a great trick to get a Democrat to levy the most devastating charges against Senator Kerry. I was enthralled. "What are they going to use? Spitballs???" I screamed when I heard that.

People forget how good VP Dick Cheney is. Lynne was great; Dick was great. Good people. A funny man who can be serious like nobody else. The Dems have a hubris that Edwards is going to use his big-city-trial-laywerin' mojo to wipe the floor with VP Cheney in the debates. I say "bring it on!" Dick will comport himself well.

Just caught the AP headline for tonight: "Cheney, Miller Unleash Rage Against Kerry."

Rage? Senator Miller was rather strident and forceful -- I wouldn't say rage; and VP Cheney was as sweet as punpkin' pie. It is just Kerry's record that is so devastating.

Posted by jk at 10:04 PM | What do you think? [12]

Google Whacking

Finally, our Dogs for Bush site shows up on a Yahoo search among many links for dogs hate bush. Still haven't cracked Google.

Today is big tent day on the site. One dog picture includes cats -- and I've got a W lovin' horse on deck...

Posted by jk at 03:57 PM | What do you think? [0]

Lt. Gov. Steele

Jay Nordlinger ties up last night pretty well in today's Impromptus although I still think folks are being too hard on the twins. They're 22. They're not patricians like the Kerry girls. I could live without the candidate's kids on the podium, but their performance was fine.

Watching on C-Span, I did catch the Lt. Gov of Maryland's superb speech. One of the greats. Jay saw it too:

Oh, Michael Steele, the lieutenant governor of Maryland, what a marvelous speech! Pity no one heard it. I don't believe that even the cable networks showed it. Steele spoke as an unabashed black Republican, and he both explained and jabbed. He also exhorted and inspired. Here's an interesting line: "[President Bush] knows that too many of our children are headed for the state pen instead of Penn State." And I don't think I had ever heard the following point made in a political speech: ". . . we have come even further since a majority of Republicans in the United States Senate fought off the segregationist Democrats to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964."

A little more: "[Kerry] . . . recently said that he doesn't want to use the word 'war' to describe our efforts to fight terrorism. Well, ladies and gentlemen, I don't want to use the words 'commander in chief' to describe John Kerry." This sent Dick Cheney rocketing to his feet.

A little more Steele: "A lifelong Democrat, [my mother] once asked me how I could grow up to be such a strong Republican. I simply replied, 'Mom, you raised me well.'"

Jay continues...
We hear constantly, in the press, about the Republicans' "window-dressing" at these conventions. We put black and brown faces onstage, but have few of them in our party. A Republican convention is like a Utah Jazz basketball game — the performers are black and the audience is white. All that crap.

But listen: One fine day, journalists are going to have to take these speakers seriously. Michael Steele makes arguments about why he is a Republican and why others should be as well. Shouldn't these arguments matter? Shouldn't our political and journalistic foes be forced to grapple with them?

Posted by jk at 01:43 PM | What do you think? [0]

Oh Yes It's Ladies' Night!

Oh, what a ni-yi-yite!

Okay, you white males you (sorry, Dag). We missed the point. Riza tells me that last night was ladies' night. Glenn at insty points out that women liked Laura's speech. Riza says they also went for the Breast Cancer speech, education, and then the eye-candy of the Governator.

I was disappointed after the singing rhetoric of Monday. Meaty politics, a moral defense of the war, a rousing salute to all the troops and vets, whether or not they are named John Kerry -- I was in heaven. Riza said "you're not supposed to like it. Last night was for moderates and soccer moms -- you had your night on Monday."

I hate pandering but I think she is right. That was a network TV night and it was outreach to the middle. I found myself doing Derb's math problem through some of the speeches.

In Karl I trust. Sortof. And tonight we get Dick and Lynne Cheney.

What is the limit of (cos(pi/n) /sin(pi/n)) as n goes to infinity?

Posted by jk at 11:27 AM | What do you think? [0]

How do you Know if You're a Republican?

Laura's Tuesday night convention speech was a bore and I am apparently too old and 'unhip' to get the twins' jokes, but Ahnold delivered big time! The left leaning press and Team Kerry have been painting this convention as a "masquerade ball" where the social moderates are given center stage while the religious right has a stranglehold on the official platform. Well, the Governator gave a forceful speech describing the issues on which all Republicans agree. And the basis for all of them is individual rights, appreciation of which Arnie learned under Soviet occupation in Austria.

"My fellow immigrants, my fellow Americans, how do you know if you are a Republican? I'll tell you how.

If you believe that government should be accountable to the people, not the people to the government...then you are a Republican!

If you believe a person should be treated as an individual, not as a member of an interest group... then you are a Republican!

If you believe your family knows how to spend your money better than the government does... then you are a Republican!

If you believe our educational system should be held accountable for the progress of our children ... then you are a Republican!

If you believe this country, not the United Nations, is the best hope of democracy in the world ... then you are a Republican!

And, ladies and gentlemen ...if you believe we must be fierce and relentless and terminate terrorism ... then you are a Republican!

[emphasis mine]

So I repeat my assertion that this fear of the 'Moral Majority' is unfounded. Despite W's strong religious beliefs he has done a masterful job of minimizing its influence on his policies. Not only democrats, but socially moderate republicans will prevent any of the fundamentalist laws from coming to pass. I say let them placate themselves by writing their commandments into the platform, then govern from the issues on which there is consensus. Arnold listed those issues last night.

Posted by JohnGalt at 08:07 AM | What do you think? [12]
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