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Saturday, August 02, 2003

At Least They Didn't Call Them "Redneck Dads"- The Washington Post has come up with an alternative to Nugent Democrats; they offer NASCAR Dads. That's not quite on target, since not every blue-collar cultural conservative likes auto racing, but then again, not every secular-leaning suburban mom has kids who play soccer. I think the moms of that genre would have roughly the same politics as well.

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Edifier du Jour-Jeremiah 15:15-21
15 You who know, O LORD, Remember me, take notice of me, And take vengeance for me on my persecutors. Do not, in view of Your patience, take me away; Know that for Your sake I endure reproach. 16 Your words were found and I ate them, And Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; For I have been called by Your name, O LORD God of hosts. 17 I did not sit in the circle of merrymakers, Nor did I exult. Because of Your hand upon me I sat alone, For You filled me with indignation. 18 Why has my pain been perpetual And my wound incurable, refusing to be healed? Will You indeed be to me like a deceptive stream With water that is unreliable? 19 Therefore, thus says the LORD, "If you return, then I will restore you-- Before Me you will stand; And if you extract the precious from the worthless, You will become My spokesman. They for their part may turn to you, But as for you, you must not turn to them. 20 "Then I will make you to this people A fortified wall of bronze; And though they fight against you, They will not prevail over you; For I am with you to save you And deliver you," declares the LORD. 21 "So I will deliver you from the hand of the wicked, And I will redeem you from the grasp of the violent."
We don't get the same reception as Jeremiah most of the time, but we do have criticism from the people who don't follow God. Even if they reject the message, the message is supposed to be delivered. The heat the president and the Pope are taking on same-sex marriage comes to mind, as does the treatment of judicial nominee William Pryor by liberals for being a devout Catholic. We might not get stoned or cast into prison in most of the Blogosphere for such activity, but we're not always going to get a warm reception. Another thing this passage points out is a parallel to the "in the world but not of the world" construct in verse 19-the world might turn to use, but we're not supposed to turn to them. We may turn to the world in the sense that we will speak to it, but we shouldn't take the world as a role-model. We have a reward for our efforts and eventual relief from out pains. Sometimes the pain seems too much, but God has reasons for it, and will not test us beyond out abilities. Even if we do break down or do something stoopid when we get under pressure, there is grace to get us past that.

Friday, August 01, 2003

Raise Your Steyn-Canada's best commentator (sorry, Bene) is at it again on Liberia-read it if you haven't already. He's for it, but recognizes that it'll be for the long haul. Catch the cartoon at the top on the article. British citizen to tax collector-"I don’t have a TV licence. I’m a conscientious objector." The licence money goes to the BBC, who makes NPR look fair and ballanced. That's colder than Minnesota in February.

Midday Musings-I don't care for the phrasing, but I like the spirit of Havel's shirt. I'd have thought that Havel would be a notch more statesmanlike-"Screw the Communists," maybe. However, after what he had to go through as a dissident in the 80s, I can see where the more vulgar term would arise. Via Papa Blog, we find Tom Daschle starting up a blog. Start fisking now, and avoid the Christmas rush. It looks like Maurice (some people call him the Joker) Clarett will be sitting for a while; he was joking (to put it charitably) about how much got stolen from his car. However, that same link above had this piece
Defensive lineman Nate Robinson, one of the highest-rated recruits in the country last year, has decided not to enroll at the University of Miami and will instead play at Rutgers. Robinson signed with Rutgers on Wednesday, after Miami would not declare him academically eligible to play this fall. Robinson's SAT score of 800 meets the NCAA minimum for high schoolers with a 3.0 gradepoint average, but is 20 points shy of Miami's institutional standard.
I thought Miami's institutional standard was a 300-pound bench press or a 4.4 40 time. Good for them.

Prelude to a Schism-I'm not sure if there has been a more important meeting of churchmen in my adulthood than the Episcopal Church's General Convention that started Wednesday. The big votes come next week on endorsing same-sex unions and confirming openly-homosexual Bishop Gene Robinson. Ben has the linkage. If those two items pass, the church will schism, with conservative parishes hooking up with more conservative bishops elsewhere. If I recall the strategy of the conservative churches, they will reaffiliate with Anglican churches in other countries, thus staying within the broad Anglican tradition but with different oversight, thus allowing them, in theory, to keep their churches. This will be messy, as liberals and conservative fight on a church-by-church basis. Mild-mannered churchgoers will have to face some hard truths about what the Christian faith means. People like George H.W. Bush will have to choose sides. Pray for the Episcopalians and the Church as a whole. Many mainline denominations have danced around the issues of sexual morality; may this be the first of many show-downs where people come to see that the Unitarian-light that many denominations on the left have become.

Dukakis of the Subcontinent-India's BJP government's got some rectal-cranial inversion. This picture of defense minister George Fernandes getting out of a MiG-21 is a hoot. Doesn't that remind you of that famous tank shot from 19 years ago? What's even worse is that he wants to keep the MiGs as India's primary fighter. So much for India becoming a superpower anytime soon. This won't help either. PM Vajpayee is talking more trash about building the Ram temple in Gujarat. If the BJP could keep from starting a religious civil war, they might become a second superpower later in the century. However, they keep playing up to the militants.

Deflating Spirits-Someone get Japan's finance ministry a copy of a good International Economics book and plunk them down in front of the Purchasing Power Parity page. They’ve spend a record 9 trillion yen (roughly $8 billion) this year trying to drive down the exchange rate. Trying to unilaterally change your currency's price is like the Boy Scout who took and hour-and-a-half helping an old lady across the street-the old lady didn't want to go. Japan's been having to fight off deflation in the last few years. The Bank of Japan has interest rates just above zero, having run smack dab into a classic Keynesian liquidity trap, so they can't use monetary policy to stimulate things. When you have less inflation than your peers, your currency will tend to go up in value. If the US is having 2% inflation and Japan has 1% deflation, you'd expect the yen to go up vis-a-vis the dollar at a 3%/year clip. Market baskets may be different, so such purchasing power parity is a bit slow to kick in, but inflation gets factored into interest rates. PPP's sister, Interest Rate Parity, states that countries with higher interest rates (and thus higher expected inflation) will see their currencies devalue. If Japanese interest rates are 1% less than in the US, expect the yen to go up 1%/year versus the dollar. Financial fat cats will make sure that holds up. If US interest rates are 1% higher, next-years forward exchange rate will be 1% higher to sop up the difference. Yonan's Law of Arbitrage-Free lunches are quickly devoured. An extra $8 billion worth of intervention isn't going to move the market much when the dollar-yen transactions are in the hundreds of billions. However, since they can't play the interest-rate-cut game, they have to do something. They somehow have to goose demand in Japan in order to get some inflationary pressures going. Let's send them our excess Keynesians; no, I don't want to know what "Krugman's steaming pile" translates to in Japanese. If there ever was a spot that ol' John Maynard would fit in, it's modern Japan. Keynesian economics specializes in economies slowed by lack of aggregate demand. However, the problem seems to go beyond fiscal policy. The real question is how to get the Japanese to think positive and start spending more. The more pessimistic you are, the worse the future looks and the more you save for rainy decades. That leads to the deflation and hyper-low interest rates that they have. It seems to be more of a psychological thing than a fiscal thing; tax cuts and/or big government spending hasn't helped. What Japan needs is a Ronald Reagan, for modern Japan has a bit of the feel of the late-70s US, a bit rudderless and unsure of where it's heading. I don't see him or her on the horizon, but let's keep looking.

Trust, But Verify-Florida must lead the nation in specialty plates, which sell for extra money that goes to support various charitable efforts. You'll see cars with plates supporting various state colleges, education in general, Columbia/Challenger memorials, endangered panthers and manatees, et al. I've got the hot-button (for ACLU types) Choose Life plate on my car, with the proceeds going to crisis pregnancy centers. Somebody wants "Trust God" to be the next in the mix
Susanne Hilton, 46, who attends Morningside Church in Port St. Lucie, wants the state Legislature to approve a "Trust God" license plate, with the profits used for religious purposes, the Associated Press (AP) reported. She said money collected from the sale of the plates would go to Christian radio stations and charities through her nonprofit organization, The God Connection. If approved, the tag would sell for $25, in addition to the cost of vehicle registration.
Three problems with that. The first is that starts to get close to the establishment clause of the First Amendment. A tight reading of the Constitution would allow a religious charity to raise money on the same footing as secular charities. The Bright Foundation could sell "Trust Yourself" plates if they wanted. However, you know that Sandy Baby isn't going to buy that plate, so this isn't one you want to spend political capital on. The second reason is that this smells a little bit of spiritual entrepreneurship. If it were a well-recognized Christian charity that were behind this (Salvation Army of Samaritan's Purse) I could see it, but I see Ms. Hilton getting a nice salary for overseeing the millions of dollars coming in from the plates. Even if her attentions are honorable, things seem a little fly-by-night. The web site is pretty but sparse and dedicated to the plate cause. Their money seems to be going to putting up some of those black-and-white God billboards along Florida's east coast. The third is that the proceeds seem to be designed for a PR campaign rather than traditional charitable work. The proceeds of the Choose Life plates go for counseling and financial aid to (largely) single moms who need help bringing a baby into the world rather than aborting it. Other plate's proceeds go for tangible stuff as well. In the Choose Life case, the state has a legit secular interest in looking after single mothers; sponsoring an evangelistic campaign from plate proceeds is starting to step over the line. There are alternative ways of doing that. In Florida, we only have license plates on the back of our cars, leaving the front plate spots free for whatever message you want. I've seen a few people with other specialty plates on the rear (a veterans plate was one I saw) have a front plate mock-up of the Choose Life plate with the plate number "IM 4 IT." They could sell Trust God plates for the front of the car at churches and Christian bookstores. However, that doesn't get free distribution from all the license plate offices.

One More Reason to Dislike the French-This one slipped under my radar; back on Bastille Day, Chirac cut anti-globalist vandal Jose Bove's sentence for one of his violent protests in half-he's heading home. I almost used terrorist instead of vandal, but that's a bit harsh, but the BBC's headline description of "farmer" doesn't do it justice either. Why do the Vandals get all the bad press? Why not give equal time to the Huns and the Visigoths?

Edifier du Jour-Jeremiah 13:22-27
22 "If you say in your heart, 'Why have these things happened to me?' Because of the magnitude of your iniquity Your skirts have been removed And your heels have been exposed. 23 "Can the Ethiopian change his skin Or the leopard his spots? Then you also can do good Who are accustomed to doing evil. 24 "Therefore I will scatter them like drifting straw To the desert wind. 25 "This is your lot, the portion measured to you From Me," declares the LORD, "Because you have forgotten Me And trusted in falsehood. 26 "So I Myself have also stripped your skirts off over your face, That your shame may be seen. 27 "As for your adulteries and your lustful neighings, The lewdness of your prostitution On the hills in the field, I have seen your abominations. Woe to you, O Jerusalem! How long will you remain unclean?"
.There a lot of the Old Testament, especially the prophets, which isn't easy reading, for they dwell upon the evil of man. Jeremiah is one of them. This plays well to the good ol' Calvinist view of total depravity; a leopard can't change his spots short of cosmetic surgery, and they didn't have cosmetic surgery in the BC. In the world of Jeremiah, all-out sin didn't have a good remedy. it reminds me of the story of two sisters-
"These are my two daughters, Faith and Charity." "No Hope?" "Not for these two."
However, we do have cosmetic surgery for the leopard spots in the AD. Well, it isn't really cosmetic surgery, it's good make-up that covers up those spots. The spots are still there, but it's the blood of Jesus that removes those spots from the Father's view. Today, we have more hope that the Israelites did 2.5 millennia ago, since God's come down to be the sacrifice to end all sacrifices

Thursday, July 31, 2003

A Bit Too Outside the Box-I still think the Future Markets Applied to Predictions idea was sound, but that was the tipping point for John Poindexter's stay at DARPA. It might have been that the civil rights overreach involving Total Information Awareness put his butt at the door and the prediction futures thing was the official shove out the door. Firing Poindexter over TIA might have been too much of a hot-potato, so they waited until the next faux pas came up. Even if limited to experts, the futures market would have honed estimates of the likelihood of something happening. The analogy of the setting of Vegas sports odds comes to mind; the expected point spread is posted among some of the big players in town, who then place their bets. If one side is getting too much action, the spread is adjusted accordingly before the official Vegas line is published. The internal event futures could serve the same purpose. Someone earlier today mentioned that the last time DARPA really thought outside the box, we got the Internet. TIA seemed a couple notches too Big Brother for a lot of people, and deserved the treatment it got.

An Open Letter to Andrew Sullivan-Right now, you're POed at the President for coming out against same-sex marriage, to the extent that you wrote this earlier today.
Certainly, if this amendment is pursued by this administration, it's the end of any relationship between the gay community and the Republican party. Those of us who have tried to build a bridge between the two are watching helplessly as the White House mulls burning it. They won't, will they? Or will they?
Bridges may be burned with gays as gays, but not necessarily with gays as individuals. I don't think your sexual orientation is your only defining feature. Your hawkishness on geopolitical issues and your economic conservatism, coupled with your permissiveness on sexual issues make you what might be called a conservative libertarian, or an Eagle as you have coined such a belief-set. An Eagle like you has mixed emotions about the current political system. Your hawkishness and distrust of big government make you lean Republican, but your views on sexual issues, particularly that of homosexual issues, would make you lean Democratic. One of the problems with the modern political system from the vantage point of an Eagle is that moral conservatives opposed to the normalization of homosexuality control the Republican Party. Making the Republican party sufficiently libertarian to have Eagles really comfortable would require POing about a quarter to a third of the electorate, making a plurality win for such a reconstituted party very difficult. Conversely, while the Brights in the Democratic party would welcome the Eagles as fellow free-thinkers, the anti-capitalist and anti-military core of the Democratic party would make the Democratic party an awkward home for Eagles. So, the question boils down to a loose description of you as a gay conservative. If your sexual identity drives your politics, vote Democratic. While you might get the right to marry your partner or get him spousal benefits under more liberal domestic partner laws, you'll have a weaker military, a slower-growing economy and less take-home pay. However, many Eagles, especially straight ones, may opt to stay with the GOP despite the theocon influence of the party. The practical differences in how their lives are lived will be rather small. Abortions may be a little bit harder to get; we're a decade off before Roe gets overturned, even if Bush and his successors pitch a shutout in getting anti-Roe people on the court. Your sex life won't be affected, except that some landlords might not rent a sexually active unmarried couple. Drug laws will stay on the books. Schools will teach abstinence more and be a bit less gay-friendly. The trade-off for that conservatism is a stronger military that is used when proper, bigger take-home pay and a faster-growing economy. As I've said in the past, prudish dynamism is better for Eagles than permissive statism. Eagles who are conservative Brights may hold their nose and vote Democratic just to stick it to the Bible-quoting Dubya. For the Eagles that still have a bit of old-school morality in them, the economic and geopolitical strengths of the GOP will still have an appeal. Thus, Bush won't he appealing to gays as gays, but to Eagles as Eagles, pitching the strong defense and free-market principals that appeal to them. The swing voter is heterosexist but not homophobic. They are tolerant of individual gays in their lives, but still think that homosexual behavior is wrong and are uncomfortable in officially normalizing it. They're uncomfortable with being too judgmental and shy away from some of the anti-gay rhetoric from the right, but when the concept of same-sex-marriage comes on the table, the feeling of "that's just not right" is there. That's who President Bush is speaking to yesterday. He was speaking tolerance from a Biblical perspective, asking us to recognize the sin in our own lives before taking apart someone else's. However, the verse he references goes on to have the person being better able to take the speck out of the other person's eye once he's gotten the log out of his own. Bush may have ticked off some Eagles, but he'll more than pick up some swing voters in the process. Unless you propose some sort of conservative libertarian third party that can get a 40% plurality on a regular basis, Eagles that aren't hopelessly Bright have a better home in the GOP. Chill out over the weekend and take a look at Howard Dean's platform; that will make Dubya look good.

Edifier du Jour-Luke 6:41-42
41 "Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 42 "Or how can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,' when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother's eye.
It isn't often the President inspires my morning devotional, but he used this verse (or one of its Beatitude Brothers in the gospels) in yesterday's press conference. The President's using this verse in the context of not being overly judgmental about homosexuals makes me uneasy; pro-gay folks will use that, plus "Judge not, lest ye be judged", in order to avoid judgement and claim acceptance. However, if we take in the spirit it is given, rather than how it will be spun by the left, it is a reminder that we're all sinners, some of us saved by the grace of God. Jesus was reminding us that before we start going after the sins of others, we'll need to get rid of the major ones in our lives. Note that, ones the big log is gone, we'll have greater discernment as to removing the small sins of others. It's interesting, if you try to take this in a more liberal, nonjudgmental mode, to take this in context with verses 43 and 44
43 "For there is no good tree which produces bad fruit, nor, on the other hand, a bad tree which produces good fruit. 44 "For each tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they pick grapes from a briar bush.
Take the straight line out of the way early-San Francisco is sure known by its own fruits. OK. Smiles off. Once we get the 2-by-4's out of our retinas, we can see whether the Holy Spirit is moving in people's lives by the evidence it leaves behind. If the evidence is one of a lonely search for intimacy in places that will merely lead to disease and isolation in one's old age, it doesn't bode well for having the Holy Spirit in the house. That applies to the heterosexual barfly as well as the bathhouse denizen. It's not that God can't move in people in those situations, but people who aren't showing good fruit aren't people to be taking as role models.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Byron Transition Team Has First Scandal-
The New York Times, in it's December 12, 2008 edition, reported that Secretary of Health and Human Services designate Dr. Five Points has links to sites supporting white culture. Dr. Points' web site has a link under "blogs I read" to Lawrence Auster's View From the Right, who had this to say of the culture war back in 2003
The great problem is that at present, though whites constitute the actual majority of the country, they have no political or cultural existence as the majority. Not only do whites fail to represent themselves as a group, but many of them think it is immoral and un-American for a white person even to think of himself as being white. Whites thus have no identity as whites, nor or they allowed to have any. Within the terms of our current order, whites as whites are nothing, even as non-white groups aggressively assert their own group identities and are endowed—by that same passive white majority!—with official and favored status. This problem returns us to the problem of “inevitability.” Whites are now allowing themselves to be moved toward cultural and national extinction because they accept the assumption that whiteness is an illegitimate category that cannot be morally—or safely—asserted. But it doesn’t have to remain that way. To paraphrase a famous passage by the Abbé Sieyès in his pamphlet Qu’est-ce que le tiers état? (What is the Third Estate?), which began the French Revolution: 1. What is European America? The historic majority culture and people of this country. 2. What is it now in the political order? Nothing. 3. What does it want to be? Something.… If the white majority, instead of being nothing, as is now the case, became something, if whites began saying, “We are a white-majority, Western country and we intend to remain so,” that by itself would alter the entire suicidal dynamic in which we are now trapped. For one thing, non-European people would get the message that America is not simply a blank slate for them to write their own national story on, an open frontier for them to expand their own peoplehood into, or a guilt-ridden entity for them to demand special privileges from, but that there is a historic people and culture in this country that happens to have its own views on those matters.
Dr. Points has not been available for comment, but a spokesman for the Byron transition team released this statement-"We have full confidence in Dr. Points. Senator Byron has linked to sights he doesn't agree with in the past, and the mere fact that Dr. Points reads, or even links to, some paleoconservatives doesn't disqualify him from office."
One of Auster's greatest hits from a year ago was even more interesting, equating modern conservatives as descendents of the Jacobeans that won the French Revolution
This broadly Jacobinist pattern can take many forms, some totalitarian, some (initially) free, but all of them—because they all seek to impose a single egalitarian or other rationalistic idea on the world and thus destroy existing cultural distinctions—leading to the end of cultural, political, and individual freedom. The traditional Marxist left seeks to reduce the world to a single homogeneous order based on enforced economic equality. The multiculturalist left seeks a social order based on “diversity,” meaning a society in which there are many “equal” cultures and no dominant culture, and in which this same multicultural pattern is imposed on every institution. The economic conservatives seek a rationalized world order based on capitalist economic liberty, in which all particular nations and cultures will steadily disappear. The moralist neoconservatives (a group that is becoming less relevant as more and more of its members surrender to the dominant nihilist culture of “bourgeois bohemianism”) seek a world order based on family values, democratic capitalism and multiracialism, in which distinct cultures and peoples will have disappeared. (The moral neoconservatives imagine that society can maintain a moral consensus in the absence of any shared ethnocultural identity, history and loyalty, but simply on the basis of shared adherence to “ideas”—a Jacobinist formula if ever there was one.) Even leading Christian conservatives, ranging from Pope John Paul II to such evangelical groups as the Christian Coalition and Promise Keepers, have made moral crusades out of open borders and racial amalgamation.
I have said before that 19th century (or late 18th century) liberals are by and large modern conservatives. Such classic liberals wanted to take power away from the aristocracy and give it to the individual citizen. By the early 20th century, such efforts create the status quo, and thus modern conservatives were striving to conserve such a free-market small-l liberal democracy. Modern liberals desire was to take power away from the individual, especially the rich individual, and give it to the government. Thus, modern conservatives are loosely descended from 19th century liberals. However, to compare the stridently evangelical Christian Promise Keepers to the stridently anti-Christian Jacobeans is a bit of a stretch. The only two things the two groups have in common is that they challenge the status quo. The Jacobeans challenged the status quo of the French aristocracy and church, while the PK challenges the status quo of faithlessness and bigotry. Paleoconservatives tend to be against change, even if change is good. In the Postrellian paradigm, the paleocon is one of the enemies of the future, along with the Luddite left. I don't want the status quo in North Korea or Zimbabwe or Mexico or the US, I want something better, something richer both in faith and in wealth and in security and in freedom. Let's look at what Auster accuses the "moralist neoconservatives" of wanting, a "world order based on family values, democratic capitalism and multiracialism, in which distinct cultures and peoples will have disappeared. " If you translate that last description of multiracialism to a world where racism is recognized as a sin and treated as such, I stand guilty as charge, and proud of it. Why not export the best of American culture, of its evangelical faith and it's notions of freedom and equality and opportunity? It beats the heck out of what most countries have now. Or do you prefer countries keep autocrats and stagnation? American culture and values won't do in other cultures; they'll take the stuff of the US that they like and retain parts of their old culture as well. We should wish other cultures well, rather than keep them some sort of cultural preserve, destined to be poor and backward so rich Westerners can go visit the large historical theme park. I want to improve things. The centrist party to the north has the official title Progressive Conservative. To the paleocon, that's an oxymoron (the smart observer of Canadian politics would agree, they're neither). However, we can conserve American values while improving how we do things, being progressive in the true sense of the word, rather than being a modern political synonym for socialist. Oh, by the way, those American values aren't white ones. They may have European roots, but are open to anyone who wants to embrace them; they're universal, like God is. Paleocons sometimes forget that God doesn't have any racial background.

Three Cheers for Apathy!-This NYT Howard Dean puff piece has an interesting quote from "Dr. Dean" (yes, he's an M.D., but that makes him sound like Dr. Phil)
"The way to beat George Bush is not to be like him," he told a rally of 600 people overlooking the harbor in Portsmouth, N.H., on July 22. "The way to beat George Bush is to give the 50 percent of Americans who don't vote a reason to vote again."
That assumes that the people who don't vote are disgruntled leftists (I don't think many of them ever were gruntled) waiting for a real progressive to run. The non-voters may skew a bit to the left, but most of the non-voters are satisfied with the general direction of the country and don't find it worth their bother to go and vote. When you have two candidates pledged to minor tweakings of the existing system of government, many voters may feel that there may be more than a dime's worth of difference between the two, but don't feel lead to be an informed voter. It takes time to think through who you're going to vote for if you aren't a die-hard backer of one party or the other; people will spend that time only if they see a benefit for doing so. Perversely, low voter turnout is a sign that our system is doing well; there's relatively little at stake, so the marginal member of the electorate may well decide to watch a Friends rerun rather than go to the polls after dinner. However, if you present a candidate who is dramatically different from the typical candidate, you will boost turnout. There may be some disgusted socialists who now have a choice other than capitalists Tweedledumb and Tweedledumber. However, a Dean candidacy will bring out otherwise non-voting centrists and conservatives who, when looking at higher taxes and more moral decay, get their butts to the polling place. Also, there are quite a few 2000 Gore voters who have liked what they see in Bush and wish they had voted differently three years ago. I don't see the non-voting unwashed proletariat making the difference for Dean in 2004; it will be the non-voting Silent Majority, as well as Democratic-leaning pro-war moderates, that will come out to vote against Dean and have him be lucky to carry Vermont and DC.

Sports Musings-Methinks Maurice Clarett's next football game will be in the NFL
NCAA investigators descended on Columbus two weeks ago to investigate the theft of more than $10,000 of electronics equipment from inside Maurice Clarett's car, radio station WTVN reported Tuesday. According to the police report obtained by NewsChannel 4 in Columbus, one of two television monitors was stolen and the other was pulled from its location in Clarett's 2001 Chevrolet. Ohio State's star running back also told police that $800 in cash from his wallet, $5,000 in stereo equipment, 300 music CDs valued at $4,500 and a credit card also were stolen.
I know I don't have that kind of electronic bling-bling in my place, and I've had twice the lifetime to collect stuff. However, OSU shouldn't suffer much; they always seem to have a backup tailback waiting in the wings. One thing Clarett doesn't have; a back-up career as a model. Anna's getting ready to hang up the racket due to a back injury. How many athletes have parlayed so little success in their sport into so much popularity? May I invoke Fernando?-"It is better to look good than to be good, and you look mah-vel-us." One more reason to us to get cable-the NBA's starting back up in late October, going with a Lakers-Mavs TV opener.

Your Government Dollars Not At Work-Here's an interesting factoid in a piece on helping the homeless;
Polk [county] will receive $3.8 million in federal block grant funds, $350,000 less than last year. The county will keep about $700,000 for administrative costs and $300,000 for emergencies. That leaves roughly $2.8 million to spend on community needs.
About 20% of the money goes to bureaucrats? How about scrapping the government program altogether and give 100% tax credits for donations to poverty-fighting charities? That way places like the Salvation Army and other more evangelical rescue missions can help the poor and have the bureaucrats find something more productive to do. P.S.-Check out the snarky headline-"Limited Salvaton" The writer might not know his theology; the Salvation Army's Arminian (from Methodist roots), not Calvinist.

Morning Musings-Happy Birthday, Gnat! You're officially out of the Terrible Twos. Kevin's grandma's funeral's today. Pray for hearts to be brought closer to God and an ample supply of Kleenex. I haven't had a coherent thing to say about news on the Vieques closings doing a number on the island's economy-Chris. Johnson says it for me-"SCHADENFREUDE - Sometimes you get the bear. And sometimes the bear gets you:" I like that phrase, best used when you go down four on a bridge preempt.

What Is Good?-Interesting piece on Ottawa's Catholic archbishop privately ripping Da Liddle Guy about his support for same-sex marriage. How many times have we seen this type of statement on both sides of the 49th Parallel?
In the past, the prime minister has described himself as a "good Catholic," but he has said that he firmly believes that politicians should not use government to impose their religious beliefs on others.
Mario Cuomo meets Pepe Le Pew, anyone? If I recall correctly, a few liberal Catholic politicians in California were officially refused communion for their pro-abortion-rights political stands. It may take a few more gutsy bishops before the message truely sinks in. I still don't quite get politicians who say "I'm a good [fill in religion] but I can't vote that way, because it would be imposing my faith." Notice they generally only say that on sexual or life-and-death issues. If the Catholic Church can out in favor of more welfare spending or against the next military involvement, would Teddy say "I can't impose the will of the Pope on the American people"? Of course not. Politicians pull out that "imposing my faith" clause when they either don't believe the church teaching or find it inconvienent to their political careers. Either way, they should be declared persona non grata. If they don't believe in the Church's teachings, they're not good members. If they do believe them but feel unable to act upon them in the public square for fear of retribution, they're not much of a believer. There are some things, like sodomy laws, that are immoral but hard to evenly prosecute; I can see a case there where a person could say "Yes, it's immoral, but I don't see passing that law doing any good." However, if the law can save lives and help prevent further sociatal decay, then impose away; the libertine lobby is trying to impose their morals (or lack thereof) on the rest of us.

Edifier du Jour-2 Thessalonians 3:10-15
10 For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either. 11 For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies. 12 Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread. 13 But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good. 14 If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that person and do not associate with him, so that he will be put to shame. 15 Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.
For those hard-core anti-welfare folks, note that the phrase in verse 10 is "not willing to work;" too often, Bible-literate hard-cases on the right will use that verse to justify scrapping welfare. There are some adults who aren't working that are disciplined; not everyone who's unemployed is a hood hanging out at the corner. Students and stay-at-home moms both might be examples of the gainfully unemployed. If they are improving themselves (or their kids) so that the labors of their day will improve our society, then that shouldn't be called to shame. The segment of the modern population that might better fit this description is the young retiree, who may be healthy enough to work but can afford not to via pension, savings and Social Security. A stay-at-home empty-nest wife might be another example. Those AARP-eligable unemployeds are a block of parishoners who may well fit the busybody catagory. Older folks tend to be healthier when they keep busy, and working is a good way to keep busy. Regardless of whether we're young or old, God wants us to use the talents He gives us.

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Evening Musings-What was the WaPo editor thinking?-"Interns Unafraid to Get Dirty." The piece is about blue-collar summer jobs like trash pickup and zoo mainanence, but doesn't that title sound a bit too much like Monica? The headline was scary ("Judge Strikes Down Portion of California's Recall Law"), but the reality's a non-event. Based on this recent ruling, voters who neglected to vote yes or no on the recall portion can still have their vote counted in the replacement election. Empowerment for Mugwumps! Bad fans aren't just an Anglospheric thing; check out this piece about KFC having to protect its Colonel Sanders statues from rowdy Hanshin Tigers fans closing in on their first title in 18 years. You've heard of the Curse of the Bambino and (maybe) the Curse of Rocky Colavito; I just got introduced to the "curse of the Sanders statue."

The Future of Terrorism is Terrorism Futures-As a finance guy, this is one I can't pass up; Rantburg has this piece on the Defense Department setting up a device to gamble on various terrorist activities happening. There is the possibility of "insider trading" of the bad guys taking going long on a terror contract just before they put out a contract on someone. However, that might be a way to get the information out. If I could apply efficient markets theory to this terror bookmaking, it should point officials towards trouble spots. There are two types of market efficiency that could come into play. The first is what we call semi-strong efficiency, which states that all available public information is factored into the price. If the odds are off, the "smart money" should bet in the other direction, bringing the odds back to a fair price. The second form, dealing with insider trading, is the strong-form efficiency, which claims that all information, public or private, is factored into prices. If I can move over into sports gambling, a large move in a gambling line can indicate either a fixed game or an injury or suspension that hasn't been made public yet; that's one of the reasons the NFL has an elaborate injury disclosure routine. I watched the Harrison Ford version of Sabrina a few days ago; Sabrina's chauffeur dad became a millionaire by listening in on what his industrialist boss was up to on the cell phone and investing accordingly. In this real-life setting, one could see some low-level al Qaeda functionaries getting in some action on the next target. Would we see some a lot of background noise, of Islamic fans betting on the home team? Or some smart terrorist running down the odds on A to throw off the scent on B? Yes, but it might be worth a shot to both get a sense of what the smart money is thinking.

Midday Musings-This Jay Nordinger Impromptu is interesting
Over the weekend, I was at a home in which an Ellen DeGeneres comedy concert was playing on television. I tried to ignore it, but I was enticed in. I was amazed to discover that it was smart, endearing, and marvelously executed. I said to my host, "Gosh, I'm shocked: This is really good. Wonderful, in fact." And he replied — trying to pull PC rank on me, trying to put me down as a Neanderthal — "Come on, Jay, just because she's a lesbian doesn't mean she's dumb." Ooh, burned me. Of course, what I meant was that I'd expected her to be rather political, strident, culty — a minority taste. Instead, she discoursed on the usual fare of the "clean" comedian — elevator etiquette; the difficulty of opening certain products; stumbling on the sidewalk — and she did so more effectively and winningly than just about anyone. That's what I was surprised about. So there.
Back before she outed herself, I remember having something of a crush on her. She did clean comedy and seemed to be a smart gal that would be good company. One of the problems with modern comedy is that it frequently heads into the sexual gutter. She didn't head there back when she was "closeted", and for good reason; she didn't want to scare off half her audience by talking about a lesbian love life. When's she's merely a comedienne, she's one of the best; up at EPCOT, they have her doing the comedic commentary at a geohistory-of-fossil-fuels exhibit, and she does a great job. When she becomes a lesbian comedienne, the right half of the audience reaches for the remote. _____ This is a troubling one from yesterday. J.P. Morgan and Citigroup both shelled out nine-figure sums for helping with Enron's creative financing. In one of those classic bits of legalese, neither company admitted any guily, yet each forked over over $100 million. I'm not sure if this is a good thing. If banks and other financial players can be hauled into court for creative finance that is legal but pushed the envelope, will they become more circumspect in the future, or become too circumspect and play things too tight to the vest? ____ The hot-button of the day seems to be the redacted chapter of the 9-11 joint congressional committee, which seems to point to Saudi governmental involvement in 9-11. Everyone except the White House, including the Saudis, seems to want this declassified. I hear the White House saying "Not now, please. Let's get Iraq more in order before this five-ton piece of horse puckey hits the fan." For when this does hit the fan, it will likely change the geopolitics of the Middle East for good. I got a hunch that the Bush administration will have to add the Saudis to the Axis of Evil within months, but they don't quite have the geopolitical capital to do it right at the moment. A success in Liberia and some additional good news out of Iraq will give Dubya enough extra geopolitical capital to go to the mat with the Saudis. Right now, with the Niger tempest-in-a-teapot still subsiding, he's a little bit underarmed.

More Texas Hijinks-Now the Texas State Senate's Democrats have done the Taco Bell strategy and run for the border; this time to New Mexico. The state house Dems hid out in Oklahoma earlier in the year. Both tactics kept quarums from forming to concider a redistricting bill that would help Republicans. The Fox piece had the main page title-"And We Ran, We Ran So Far Away," eluding to the old A Flock of Seagulls song I Ran. If you combine that image with the seagulls in Finding Nemo, I can see the Democrats looking at the congressional seats that they'd lose in the redistricting plan and shouting "Mine! Mine! Mine!"

The Byron Cabinet 2009-This site has nominations going for a Glenn Reynolds 2009 cabinet after Papa Blog wins the Presidency on a party-to-be-named-later ticket. Bear with me while I do a little daydreaming. Fast forward to the spring of 2006. My writing skills have improved, I've written a couple of well-received books and have some name recognition among conservative Floridians and elsewhere, especially in the evangelical community. I've been on Booknotes to talk with Brian Lamb about my first book,A New General Theory of Economics, and have been on various Christian radio outlets as well. I throw my hat into a crowed ring for the 2006 Republican Senate nomination, and win with 32% of the vote in a five-way race, then go on to beat Bill Nelson in the general election, becoming only the second blogger in Congress. Hey, who was Paul Wellstone before he got his Senate seat but an obscure prof? With a broad support from bloggers around the country, I wind up becoming a part of a theocon-libertarian fusion campaign that learns from Howard Dean's success in getting the 2004 Democratic nomination. The unorthodox junior senator from Florida quickly develops a buzz led by conservative bloggers around the country serving as regional coordinators of a growing grassroots movement. We go on get the nomination; the Byron-Santorum ticket goes on to beat Hillary in 47 states. While a lot of bloggers were bummed not to get the VP spot, the help with Catholic voter and giving us Pennsylvania made Rick Santorum a solid choice for the spot. However, the Blogosphere will not be absent from the Byron White House.
The Cabinet
Secretary of State-Condi Rice. Sorry, I can't think of a blogger who would have the depth of knowledge and correctness on most issues. Attorney General-Eugene Volokh. Yes, he's a bit libertarian, but he's sharp as a tack. A future president might name him to the Supreme Court, but not this one. There are truckloads of good blogging lawyers or law students, but I don't think y'all will be insulted with this pick. I'll put William Sulik in as my Solicitor General. I want someone who can plead a good pro-life stance before the Supreme Court. Of course, the left will love to point out that the Byron administration has a Blithering Idiot for a spokesman. Defense Secretary-Steven Den Beste. He has to be part of the National Security team. If I get chummy with Rummy and he's up to another few years, I might slide Den Beste over to National Security Director instead, but I want him in the war room. Treasury Secretary-Megan McArdle. A Chicago Girl-what's not to love? Who better to spread the supply-side gospel? Labor Secretary-Larry Reed. He was a free-marketer before it was cool. The Mackinac Center chief and Northwood U Econ prof gets to do his thang in Washington. Agriculture Secretary-Bobby Allison-Gallimore. He might demure from the position, but he's got just the free-market head on his shoulders and the Ag-Econ degree to give the farm economy a good once-over. However, if Volokh and I don't mesh, I'd be sorely temped to more Bobby A-G to AG; he'll have his law degree by then. Health and Human Services-Dr. Five Points He's a knowledgeable Christian physician. Good person to run herd over Medicare and Medicaid. Commerce Secretary-Brink Lindsey. However, this will only be a temporary appointment, as we'll plan to merge this into the Labor department and rename it the Department of Economic Development. Education Secretary-Isabel Lyman. Ms. Homeschooling is as good of a choice as I can think of. Transportation Secretary-James Reuben Haney. The Anarchocapitalist Transportation Geek gets his dream job. Homeland Defense Secretary-Bryan Preston. I want someone that meaner than a junkyard blog fighting terrorists and bureaucracies. HUD Secretary-Open-Likely to be merged into the Economic Development department Energy Secretary-Open-Also to be put into E.D. Interior Secretary-Open. I'm looking for someone who loves the wilderness yet has a market-oreinted streak. I'd want the person to err on the side of protecting the enviroment in a market-friendly way; I can always play the bad cop. Veterans Affairs-I may not make friends with the VFW and American Legion, but I think this should either be back in Defence or in HHS. Since it mainly works with VA hospitals, I think HHS is its proper home.
The West Wing
Chief of Staff-Kevin Holtsberry. A good strategist and big-picture guy; he'd be handy to have around to keep my kill-them-all moments in check. National Security Director-Fred Pruitt. Picture Rantburg on my desk every morning with full access to classified stuff. That's his job in the Byron White House; I might have him do that as Den Beste's deputy if I keep Rummy on at Defense, but that's task one for him. Press Secretary James Lileks. Bene Diction was my first choice, but my advisors reminded me that Bene is Canadian; "Bene might be a good journalist, but we want an American there." I told them that citizenship wasn't a requirement. However, you've got to get Lileks into the mix, and who better to run herd over the White House press corps? Communications Director-Ben Domenech. I'm picturing him as Sam Seaborn's good twin, the guy to keep the Byron administration on message and stating things in just the right way. I want him to help edit my speeches and add good paragraphs that sound just like I'd like me to sound. Director of Domestic Policy-Josh Claybourn. An economist and (by 2009) lawyer with a great feel for both politics and policy, Josh and Megan can brainstorm on just how to craft and present our economic vision. White House Council-Fritz Schranck. The guy has a great depth of knowledge about the law and a side-winding sense of humor that will keep things loose. OMB Director-Jeffrey Collins. The one blogging accountant I know of, he'd be a good one to have on the team. NASA Director-Rand Simberg RNC Chairman-Patrick Ruffini. Who else? [Update 4:45 PM- Science Advisor-Dr. David Heddle. Not only the Blogospheres #1 Calvinist, but a Ph.D. in Physics. Dave, here's your payback for the oversight below.] UN Ambassador--Jason Steffens. Putting a good evangelical lawyer to be my rep to the world> I'd want someone who can bang a shoe when needed and negotiate when needed, and he seems to be up to the challenge Ambassador to Canada-Lee Anne Millinger-need to have a Michigander in that post. Ambassador to Haiti-John Adams Ambassador to Spain-Jesus Gil Ambassador to France-Jonah Goldberg. :-) Ambassador to Britain-Robert Bauer Ambassador to Germany-Stewart Buck Ambassador to Russia-Hedrick Smith. That's an odd choice, but he used to be the Moscow bureau chief for the NYT and wrote a very good book on Russia. Yes, he's Atlantic-style liberal, but has good common sense and would represent the country well. Ambassador to China-John Derbyshire. Yes, a newly naturalized American, but as a native Brit and Sinophile, his knowledge of the world is as good as they come. Ambassador to Japan-James Fallows. He did a long stint in Japan as a reporter, is a good common-sense guy even if he leans a bit to the left. Ambassador to Ireland-Mark Shea Ambassador to the Vatican-Amy Welborn. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Christopher Johnson. There are few good blog buddies I haven't put in the cabinet. Spudlets, Illinigirl and anyone else, we've still got deputy secretary spots open and quite a few ambassador spots open. [update 7/31 6:45-Illinigirl wants to head the Office of Emerging Technologies (my title) a.k.a the Technology Czarina. Done.]

Edifier du Jour-2 Thessalonians 2:7-13
7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. 8 Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; 9 that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, 10 and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. 11 For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, 12 in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness. 13 But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.
The Holy Spirit isn't the only operator in the supernatural realm. As large chunks of the church turn their back on the Holy Spirit and the supernatural, the supernatural power gleaned from the demonic looks all the more attractive. I'm not suggesting that they have to become hands-in-the-air holy rollers (I'm not one, either), but it the Church is to thrive, it has to recognize that God's not out of the miracle business and that the Holy Spirit is more than just a titular member of the Trinity. I remember my high school buddy Dave, who got sucked into some polytheistic worship of ancient Sumerian gods; the Presbyterian-raised guy noted that the Church had lost the power that it had once had, while the pagans still seemed to have that power. Thankfully, it was at that very time that my dad got saved; he started hanging out with a charismatic crowd and was seeing the Holy Spirit doing some serious stuff. I was able to report back to Dave that the power was still there, just not in some parts of the church. It was enough to keep me clear of offering sacrifices to Marduk or whatever the nasty deity he was into. Modern New Age stuff doesn't carry the sinisterness of the Dungeons-and-Dragons style deities that Dave was into; their pantheistic motif has the attuned person being able to manipulate the spiritual realm. However, the supernatural has two sources, and if it isn't of God, it isn't of God. Since much of the New Age spirituality doesn't involve worshiping a different God as much as viewing God as being more like the impersonal Force in Star Wars rather than a personal deity, it can often sneak into more liberal churches and start to become the house theology. In churches that have moved away from the standards of the faith, it's easy for someone to tweak their vision of God to fit what floats their dingy. Seeing God as merely an all-encompassing force or discounting what Jesus did on the Cross can make it easy for people to move away from lukewarm churches towards other "spiritual" endeavors that have a better return on their investment. The fortunate ones will move to more-evangelical churches where a powerful, hands-on God who sent his Son to die for them; the less fortunate will drift into the occult. Things can change. Dave's old Presbyterian church seems to be on the verge of hiring a Oral Roberts U. seminary grad as their new pastor; somehow, he's an ordained PC-USA minister despite that background. I'm not a big fan of Roberts' over-the-top Pentecostalism, but a touch of that would be an improvement for a PC-USA church that tends to seriously ignore the Holy Spirit. Pray that other churches get similar kick-starts.

Fair Trade, not Free Trade-Yes, I just said that. No, I don't have a maniac Gephardt supporter holding a gun to Eileen's head. However, in the case of the drug-importation bull bill, the old protectionist mantra seems to make sence. Orrin Judd's not having a great day. First, he overdoes his support of Leon Panetta-"Leon Panetta is very much the best the Democrats have to offer. He'd be a better governor than anyone who will be contending for the office in the coming recall election, including any of the Republicans. He would, in fact, be a great Treasury Secretary for Mr. Bush." He's good, but he's not that good. He's a smart liberal and the best the Democrats have to offer, but he wouldn't be my first choice. If it boiled down to a Riordan-Panetta race, I could see myself voting for Panetta, but that's a real stretch. Then, Orrin links to a Lew Rockwell piece in support of the drug-importation bill. Approvingly. Lew is slick here. First, he run through three cases of truly bad protectionism, then he turns his gaze to the Canadian drug importation issue.
Everyone knows that pharmaceuticals are far cheaper around the world than they are in the US, due mainly to stringent patent laws that prohibit free-market competition and guarantee producers huge profits.
Drugs are cheaper around the world. However, they are cheaper for two reasons other than the ones Rockwell cites. One is the smaller incomes in most countries around the world depresses demand. The second, and more pernicious for an alleged libertarian, is that government-run health systems act as monopsonists (a market with one buyer). As the only buyer in the market, they can force businesses to sell at variable costs, since monopsonists can squeeze sellers just like monopolist can squeeze buyers. The patent gives the company a 17-year monopoly on their product, and after that 17 years (often much less, since it typically takes many years to get a drug ready for sale even after getting a patent), the firm will have brand loyalty even after competitors can make generic versions. The reason we give patents is to allow firms to reclaim the R&D money that they spend developing the product. Otherwise, they'll have a very small window of opportunity before competitors make legal knockoffs of the drug they spent years developing. They don't guarentee a drug maker huge profits. First, the drug has to work and not have any huge side-effects. Then, if it works, you're having to count on a market for the product being there. If you do come up with a winner, you've got a nice cash cow, but you've also got a lot of stillborn cattle along the way as well.
However, these same companies also compete in real market conditions, by exporting their drugs to foreign countries at a profit.
That's precious, Lew. Most of the industrialized countries' health care systems work as a monopsonist; not what I'd call "real market conditions" Yes, they do make a contribution to their fixed cost, but not much. The idea is to make them sell at just above variable costs. If they price things below variable costs, the company would opt not to sell in that market. The other factor that comes into play with Canada is that if the lost profits from Americans ordering cheap Canadian drugs is bigger than the modest profits from selling to Canadians, then the drug company is better off not selling to Canada. That may either force the Canadians to raise their prices offered or start to go into the generic drug business.
These same drugs have been coming back into the US market and selling for much lower prices, which has given rise to demands that re-importation be blocked—at the very time when the Bush administration is imposing more medical socialism to lower the retail price of drugs!
Yes, they're looking at expanding Medicare to cover drugs, Lew. However, those cheap Canadian drugs are a product of well-worn medical socialism.
The issue is very simple from the point of view of free trade. Should Americans be able to buy American-made prescription drugs from other countries at cheaper prices than they would have to pay in the US? Of course, the answer is yes. All that free traders are asking is that US firms be willing to let Americans buy US drugs at market prices when they are imported from other countries.
Lew, those aren't market prices in Canada. Not in the sence you would normally think of.
The only possible reason to pay more would be if you want to dump vast sums of money on the US drug industry for no good reason. Consumers might want to—they can send Eli Lilly a fat check--but they shouldn't be forced to.
The good reason is to encourage the development of intellectual property. If you would like the pharmaceutical industry to stop doing R&D and go to a generic drug format, fine. However, don't she-dog when you see your take-home pay drop when your taxes are raised to get the NIH and CDC put those drug researchers on the federal payroll. Or, don't she-dog when the drug that would save your life down the line doesn't get made.
And yet some free traders have gotten on board with the desire to use protectionist means to boost prices and thereby add fuel to the fire of socialized medicine. It's expected that politicians sell their souls. But what about think tanks? The American Enterprise Institute, Cato, Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the National Center for Policy Analysis, National Review, and many other organizations and "free market" publications have come out for banning re-importation. Why? They say that re-imported drugs are unsafe, would undercut US drug makers, dry up research funds, and make drugs more difficult to regulate.
I'm not sure about the unsafe part, but the last three seem legit. The middle two are dead-on (see above) and foreign pharmacies might be real hard to deal with if they screw up.
Doug Bandow of Cato, for example, argues that because foreign countries do not have free markets for drugs, they shouldn't be permitted to export to the US which does. Of course that is precisely the same rationale used by the catfish and textile industry to ban competitive products. If anything, the claim is even more absurd since we are not talking about competitors but the very same firms that already sell in the US. So hysterical has been the campaign that re-imported drugs are said (by Michael Krauss) to be "an invitation to terrorists."
Bandow's NRO piece is a dead-on overview of the topic. Krause's comments about terrorists shipping tampered drugs into Canada and on to the US is over-the-top if not hysterical.
As with other protectionist schemes, it is really about taxing Americans and imposing price floors to benefit a politically influential industry.
I don't see a price-floor here, Lew. I see them trying to get rid of foreign-imposed price ceilings. If you want cheap drugs, move to Canada. Your paycheck will be a lot lighter and will go a lot less far with 13% sales taxes, but you'll get your cheap drugs.
Krauss actually admits this when he says: "Do we want pharmaceutical progress? Then we must pay for these goods, even if other nations don't do their part."But protectionist profits are not the reason for pharmaceutical progress. The reason is innovation, which depends in no way on patents and protectionism in drugs any more than with any other form of innovation.
Doing away with intellectual property rights does hinder innovation, for it makes the skull-sweat of doing R&D not worth as much. Can you be innovative without patent protections? Yes, but you'll be less interested in doing it yourself, for you'll be sharing your good ideas with your fellow man rather than have a 17-year window as an monopolist for your idea.
The proof is precisely that American firms are willing to sell at such low prices to foreign nations; they must be making a profit.
Not a "profit" in the true sense. They're making a contribution to their fixed costs, but if everyone made them sell at just-above-variable-costs, they'd go bankrupt in a hurry, for their wouldn't be any extra money left for R&D.
In short, the arguments used in favor of cracking down on drug re-importation are identical to all the arguments used for all forms of protectionism. They always amount to the same thing: special pleading for a protected US industry at the expense of consumers. Fortunately, the drug protectionists have been beaten back by the House, which voted yes on a bill to permit wholesale re-importation of pharmaceuticals—a bill that was opposed by the whole of the drug industry as well as the FDA and the Beltway thinktanks.
The open question here is whether this bill is in the long-term best interest of consumers. In the short term, it will mean cheaper drug prices and lower profits for pharmaceutical companies. However, in the long run, it will mean fewer new drugs being invented and shorter lives for us all. Unless the federal government steps in and cranks up drug research to make up the slack; that will mean that everyone gets to pay for drug research and not just the people who benefit from it. A high price for Viagra is paid for by people who want to have help getting an erection in their old age; I don't have to spring for that. However, if you fast forward to the world that Rockwell prefers, I'm having to pay taxes for all kinds of research that I'm not interested in.
The role of free traders in promoting protectionism is particularly notable, for it proves that libertarians have a useful role to play on Capitol Hill after all. Their studies, arguments, articles will be read, cited, and praised so long as they are willing to call for expanded government. If however, they stick to what they should be doing, which is calling for freedom, they must suffer under unrelenting marginalization, as they do most of the time in Washington.
If you keep coming up with half-baked arguments, you'll suffer unrelenting marginalization, or at least the regular fisking.
For all their rhetoric about free trade and free enterprise, you can always count on the Republican Party to back a protectionist plan if it is supported by a big business with good connections. The Bush administration has followed in the footsteps of the previous Bush administration and even the Reagan administration—and most famously the Hoover administration—in violating its supposed principles to help its friends.
Other than the steel quota fiasco, Bush has been by-and-large on the side of free trade. Did you catch the free trade deals with Chile and Singapore? Not exactly Smoot-Hawley, sir.
The costs of all of this are incalculable, and the American consumer is paying them. American retailers and wholesalers are paying them as well. This drains resources that could be going to boosting prospects for the US economy.
The other legit types of protectionism he mentioned earlier I'll buy, but the drug importation bill is moving towards a sicker world and aiding socialist around the world and at home; not what I think Rockwell would like.
Who benefits from mercantilism is no mystery: look at the list of lobbyists and signatories to the complaints. It is pure special pleading that cannot, in the long run, even help the assisted industries. The pressure of globalization combined with the irresistible pressure of free markets will eventually prevail over all political attempts to design the market to the government's liking.
The drug importation bill doesn't help free markets; it helps socialist medicine become more entrenched around the world and will help socialize drug research in the US. Sometimes the paleolibertarians like Rockwell or Lincoln-basher Tom DiLorenzo are so free-trade, they can't see other problems that might justify some barriers.

Monday, July 28, 2003

Liberia Musings-I've been struggling to get my mind around what I should think about our pending intervention in Liberia. In this case Byron's 48 Hour Rule (if you wait 48 hours, someone in the Blogosphere will state your position better than you would have) rings true in the person of James Lileks
Look. I don’t have “political misgivings” about a Liberian intervention; I have practical misgivings about using American forces in TFNs, or Totally Farked Nations. I’m on the fence here. I’ve heard compelling arguments against intervention, and I've heard solid arguments about the uniqueness of an American presence in Liberia, considering their attitude towards its distant thrice-removed paternal figure.
I'm still on the fence as well, but my feet are on the intervention side, checking to see if what I'm going to set foot in. We might want to wait until the rebels finish attacking Buchanan; his last piece was too stinky to fisk, so I'll let them do it. Remember that we are going into a TFN; most of West Africa makes the Mad Max universe look civilized. This will be messy, with supporters of multiple camps not wanting to play nice. We will need to be the New Sheriff in Town willing to get out the industrial-sized can of whuppin' when needed. We will lose men. It will be ugly. We'll be accused of being an empire, a colonialist and insensitive to Africans. Liberia doesn't have a concrete strategic US interest. However, if you look at it from the neoconservative goal of spreading functioning free-market democracies around the world, this is a way to step into a chaotic situation and install such a government. It requires looking at American interest being the interest in making a better world. No, we can't be everywhere at once. Yes, there are bigger thugs than Charles Taylor. However, we're in a situation where our presence will save thousands of lives and improve the lives of millions. We're also in a situation where a modest amount of force will do a world of good. The problem with this one is whether Dubya is willing to spend the geopolitical and domestic political capital to get this done right. The geopolitics isn't that much of a problem; since the French and Germans don't have dogs in this fight, we'll get no opposition in the UN and likely some modest help from the EU. However, it remains to be seen whether the president is willing to have body bags show up at Dover's Air Force base coming from Liberia and have the paleoconservatives snipe at him for it. The political coalition for action is generally a center-left one (or at least a foreign policy neocon-liberal one) and would require Democrats to back him up. Will Democrats have the political courage to back the President on this one, or would they stand back and support the troops while being "concerned about the president's policies"? If not, the President will have to spend a lot of political capital to pull this one off. I think it's worth doing, but it won't be easy.

Facing Death-Kevin Holtsberry, one of the early backers of my blog, lost his grandma over the weekend. I'm not sure what's harder about funerals; morning the loss of the loved one or coming face-to-face with your own mortality. For those of us from a more evangelical mind-set, our thoughts are of comfort if the deceased was a believer, knowing that they are with the Lord. Often, if the deceased was in a lot of pain in the latter years, we can say that they are "in a better place now" with a straight face. If they didn't have a observable faith in Jesus, then our hearts starts to think the ugly thought that they might not be in that "better place;" I know I had that thought when both of my grandmothers passed away. I had to go through a funeral earlier this month when Eileen's "Aunt" Sandy died (actually her mom's cousin, but she was like an extra daughter to Eileen's grandma). One of the advantages of a funeral is that it gets everyone else thinking about death and life-after-death and their own relationship to God. For some people, weddings and funerals are the only time that they'll be darkening the door of a church. A good eulogy with an evangalistic twist can be very effective; the Lutheran pastor who gave the eulogy at Sandy's funeral did a good job at that. Pray for the unsaved folks at Kevin's grandma's funeral, that the situation and the message soften some hearts. However, don't just pray for the unsaved loved ones but the unloved saved ones as well; sometimes, family members who have a hard time getting along are thrown together, and tempers can flair up. I'm praying that Kevin and the rest of his family will allow Christ love to shine through their grief.

Midday Musings-I don't have much to blog about Bob Hope's passing. He'd been out of the limelight for over a decade, but his name brings a warm feeling to this forty-something. Goofiness at his golf Pro-Am (and Bing's). USO stuff. Corny TV specials and even cornier old movies. He was a breed of comic entertainer that few people actively disliked, unless you were one of those counter-culture types that saw Hope as Americana personified. While were on the subject of oldies but goodies, Eileen and I have found ourselves watching Ed Sullivan reruns that one of our PBS outlets runs on Saturday nights. I don't remember them much as a kid and Eileen post-dates the shows, so they're an interesting glimpse into pop culture of the 50s and 60s, from pop stars of the era to divas and tenors to kitschy animal acts to clean comedians. We may watch less of that once we reacquire cable (we found that going without, both for the lack of good reception and meager clean quality network fare, was tougher than we thought), but it reminds me of how gross modern TV culture has become. _____ "Mommy, mommy! I wanna grow up to be a water cop!" Yes, another generation ready to protect us against out of control Orlando suburbia. This is one that shows how tempest has fugited-Olympic diver Bruce Kimball's trying to get a drivers license fifteen years after he killed two kids in a DUI accident. It doesn't seem like that long ago; as a U of M grad, that was a big story in Michigan at the time.

Morning Musings-Add one more name to the hopper for the Cereal State runoff via the Talking Dog: Gary Condit-"...Gary has name recognition. Oy, does Gary have name recognition. " Interesting BBC piece on Castro ripping the EU
The EU was until recently seen as an economic lifeline for the ailing Socialist state. Relations deteriorated rapidly in early June, however, when it raised the prospect of sanctions over the Cuba's mass imprisonment of dissidents. The EU was a "group of old colonial powers historically responsible for slave trafficking, looting and even the extermination of entire peoples", Mr Castro told his audience.
And your escapades in Grenada and Angola were just efforts to better the peoples of the world, right. At least Castro gets his rhetoric at the proper level of high dungeon; the EU reply sound straight out of The Onion.
In its response, the European Commission said it wished to "stress its commitment to continue supporting the Cuban people and in particular those most in need".
"Those most in need" would be just about the entire Cuban people who isn't a high-level crony of Fidel. However, that is only a warmup for this knee-slapper at the end of the piece.
His country has gone from being the third-richest in Latin America to one of the poorest. Its economy now relies heavily on funds sent from Cubans abroad and on tourism, much of which stems from the EU. Untold numbers of Cubans flee the island every year, trying to cross to nearby Florida - including via a truck turned into a raft this week. However, Cuba can still boast good healthcare and education
As long as you have free healthcare, all is forgiven to the BBC writer. Which award does Sullivan give to such suck-upitude to leftist dictators?

Edifier du Jour-Hebrews 2:1-4
1 For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. 2 For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, 3 how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.
This was the passage Pastor Dave was preaching on yesterday morning. He mentioned that few people deliberately set out to be agents of the devil; they gradually drift away from the straight and narrow. While I was listening to the sermon, my mind wandered off to the old Dobie Gray song, Drift Away, that he's recently redone and is back on the charts. The chorus stuck in my craw-
Give me the beat, boys and free my soul; I want to get lost in your rock and roll and drift away.
God does want to free our souls from a life of sin, but he doesn't want us to drift towards him. Mr. Gray seems to be expressing a more New Age type of spirituality, where you merely escape from the pressures of the world. Drifting away in the spiritual realm is not likely to be in God's direction, for a rudderless movement will likely be in the wrong direction. What we need to be doing is actively seeking Christ, not just drifting in His general direction. Given the evidence that we've seen over the years, we need to be paddling towards God, with our compass and GPS (the Bible and the Holy Spirit) out to check direction, rather than merely hoping the currents take us towards God.

Sunday, July 27, 2003

California Daydreaming-I'm not sure that this will play out, but keep your eye on Leon Panetta. I normally stay around from Dowd pieces like the plague, but I clicked into this piece today. At the end, after getting in her digs at Darrell Issa and Ahnold, she quotes Panetta-"California is still on the cutting edge, but now we're on the cutting edge of showing other states how not to govern." I'm not sure how Panetta will play with swing voters, but when he was in Congress and as OMB director under Clinton, he seem to have a healthy streak of common sense for a liberal Democrat. He's also candid for a politician and likable. Of all the Democrats mentioned so far, he's the one guy I wouldn't want to have to run against. The last few days has seem to see a draft-Panetta meme building in the mainstream media. Right now, Democrats are going with a Gray or Bust routine, not running anyone and giving devout Democrats no choice but to vote no on the recall. However, if they see that the recall is a done deal, the Gray or Bust strategy might shift to getting a replacement that can beat Ahnold. Right now, Schwarzenegger would look to be a good centrist alternative to many Democratic-leaning voters, giving the anti-Davis vote more momentum. However, with Panetta in the race, he would give Democrats someone to vote for without holding their nose. Schwarzenegger would likely beat Panetta 55-45 in a mano-a-mano race, but with one or two conservatives in the race, as well as Green candidate Peter Camejo nipping on the left, I'd expect Panetta to beat Schwarzenegger 34-31. I hope the Democrats in the Cereal State don't figure that out.

Afternoon Musings-Let's lead with the positive. Lance Armstrong survived spills and anarchosocialist protesters to snag yet another Tour de France title; that makes five in a row, tying the record. Minor suggestion; the US Postal Service should contract out their mail delivery to UPS and Fed Ex and focus on what they do really well-bicycle team management. This is interesting; Fox has a piece on the New Democrat Network, the DLC's PAC. Hillary and Dianne Feinstein are Democratic moderates? I guess having occasional bouts of common sense qualifies you as a moderate in Democratic circles. Hillary has more in common with the Canadian New Democrats (their socialist/green party) than the American ones. Speaking of the NDP, they're in a squeaker in the Nova Scotia provincial elections, and protest votes from the Marijuana Party candidate, who's running from prision, could be the difference in a crutial seat that the NDP, Liberals and Conservatives are running neck-and-neck-and-neck in. The NDP is hoping he only provides tokin' opposition.

Edifier du Jour-2 Thessalonians 1:3-8
3 We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren, as is only fitting, because your faith is greatly enlarged, and the love of each one of you toward one another grows ever greater; 4 therefore, we ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God for your perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure. 5 This is a plain indication of God's righteous judgment so that you will be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which indeed you are suffering. 6 For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7 and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, 8 dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.
Many times, that relief only comes by our spiritual retirement package, but it is there nonetheless. The other area that is often grating is to see the wicked prosper. While it isn't nice to wish ill on our enemies, (for from an evangelical perspective, we'd prefer our foes to come to the Lord than be killed before they do) it is often gratifying to see the bad guys get theirs. Peter Sean Bradley has a good survey of thought on wishing your enemy ill in the context of the Hussein boys' timely demise. However, to make the 101st Airborne the vehicle of God's wrath for Uday in verse 8 seems to be wishful thinking. When you read that in the context of verse 7, this seems to be more eschatological than present-day. If Jesus was revealed from heaven last week, I missed it. Uday may have an unpleasant surprise that he has 72 Virginians waiting for him, but the full wrath of God for the devil's agents is yet to come. Hang in there, it will happen.

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