Thursday, July 31, 2008

Remembering a Hero: Milton Friedman

As freedom-oriented organizations across the country like Young America's Foundation today mark "Milton Friedman Day" with events and celebration, I am reminded of the lessons I learned.  [...]

He warned of the disastrous results that occur when government attempts to substitute its own judgment for the judgment of free people. Friedman asked in his famous book, Capitalism and Freedom: "How can we keep the government we create from becoming a Frankenstein that will destroy the very freedom we establish it to protect?" He had a vision of society where men and women are free to choose, but where government is not as free to override their decisions. [...]

"Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program," Friedman notably said. With the federal government the largest it has ever been (some studies estimate more than 14 million federal employees), Friedman recognized the harsh realities of uncontrollable bureaucracy and government spending. Always ready with a witty remark, Friedman concluded, "If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there'd be a shortage of sand."

Ron Paul followers pose danger for McCain in West

In interviews with a dozen Paul voters from around the West, anti-administration sentiment rang loudest. Most were newly active in politics but had been regular Republican voters. They said their activism began with opposition to the Bush administration's foreign policy.

As newcomers, they expressed little party allegiance and little concern that their third-party votes could benefit Obama, a candidate even further from their views than McCain.

"The notion is, let's just break the GOP because the people who are running and holding office in it aren't respecting what the constituents want," said Jay Weeldreyer, a Paul field director in Renton, Wash. "So, if we can just let them suffer a massive loss, then maybe that will get through to them."

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

David Freddoso on Dems & Gas Prices on National Review Online

If President Bush is willing to veto any appropriations bill that contains the drilling ban, he will give congressional Republicans a serious chance in their legislative fight against the provision. "The sense among Republicans has been that we won't be able to do anything on drilling because we have to get 60 votes," DeMint told me. "But if the president helps us, we can lift it with just 34 votes." Judging by the president's speech yesterday in Ohio, in which he serially challenged Congress to act on the OCS ban, on oil-shale development, and on opening ANWR — all in order to lower consumer energy prices — it appears for now that he's in the Congressional minority's corner.

To be sure, a complete or even a partial government shutdown poses serious risks for Republicans. The parties would obviously blame one another for the situation, and things would get ugly right before the election. Many Republicans remember the disaster that befell the party after the 1995 spending fight with President Bill Clinton that led to a shutdown. But DeMint points out that this fight, unlike that one, would be over a high-profile issue on which Republicans are clearly supported by the American public. Drilling is popular, and the Democratic majority is not — and that is a recipe for success.

The Editors on Ted Stevens on National Review Online

One of Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens's most memorable moments of the last few years came during the Senate fight over the infamous "Bridge to Nowhere." In 2005, when Sen. Tom Coburn introduced a measure that would have redirected the money Stevens had earmarked for the bridge to hurricane-ravaged New Orleans, Stevens gave an apoplectic speech on the Senate floor in which he threatened to resign if the Senate passed the measure. It was the nation's loss that the Senate voted the measure down, simultaneously missing two opportunities. 

Now that a grand jury has indicted Stevens on seven counts of making false statements, it is time for him to make good on his threat. Stevens is of course innocent until proven guilty of the crimes with which he is charged. But even if he committed no crime, the facts that have emerged over the course of the federal investigation into his personal finances are damning enough on their own. The indictment was just the last straw.

I hope the Republican party forces Stevens out, but I'm not so sure he'll cooperate.  The interesting bit will be how forcefully the Democrats act against him.  I suspect they'll want to play it cool to avoid calling attention to William Jefferson and his refrigerator full of cash.

Fannie Mae's Political Immunity -

President Bush is poised to sign the housing and Fannie Mae bailout bill, after the Senate passed it with 72 votes on the weekend. But an underreported part of this story is that Majority Leader Harry Reid refused to allow a vote on Republican Jim DeMint's amendment to bar political donations and lobbying by Fannie and its sibling, Freddie Mac.

This is a rare parliamentary move for a body in which even Senators in the minority party have long been able to force votes. The strong-arm play illustrates how politically powerful these government-sponsored enterprises remain even after going hat in hand to taxpayers. This has implications in the days ahead, because the Beltway battle now shifts to who will be the new regulator for the mortgage giants and how much political insulation he'll have from Fannie and Freddie pressure.

This is a great example of how Congress works.  They create "quasi-governmental" agencies that acts as if they were a private enterprises.  Said agencies spend millions on lobbyists and political contributions over the years.  Now, those politicians who received all those generous contributions are spending the taxpayers money on a huge bail-out, and in the process guaranteeing that Fannie and Freddie are free to continue making those vital contributions to our political process.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Lawrence A. Hunter on Subprime Policy on National Review Online

For all of the political distortion and regulatory wedges in the market currently that prevent the ideal solution from coming about, banks nevertheless are engaged in an unlovely, second-best arrangement that allows homeowners to remain in their houses. If the market were allowed to work, banks and homeowners eventually would come to terms, making the best of a bad situation, and the housing market would right itself with the minimum amount of damage possible.

Once the Democrats' banker bailout begins, however, this self-correcting market process will be short circuited, and the situation will get worse, much worse. It is crystal clear what will happen: Banks will accelerate foreclosures in order to take advantage of the government's handout. By intervening in the market, the government, as usual, is going to make matters a whole lot worse, not better.

Monday, July 28, 2008

'Extreme Makeover' house faces foreclosure

LAKE CITY, Ga. - More than 1,800 people showed up to help ABC's "Extreme Makeover" team demolish a family's decrepit home and replace it with a sparkling, four-bedroom mini-mansion in 2005.

Three years later, the reality TV show's most ambitious project at the time has become the latest victim of the foreclosure crisis.

After the Harper family used the two-story home as collateral for a $450,000 loan, it's set to go to auction on the steps of the Clayton County Courthouse Aug. 5.

If there are any victims in this story, they are all the people who volunteered to work on the house and the companies that donated free labor and materials.  They tried to help a family who showed their appreciation by wasting everything.  The Harper family are "victims" just like those lottery winners who end up broke.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Randy Pausch, Author Of 'Last Lecture,' Dies at 47

The lecture was videotaped and footage began spreading across thousands of Web sites. (The full talk can now be seen at Soon, he was receiving emails from all over the world.

The book "The Last Lecture, " written with The Wall Street Journal's Jeffrey Zaslow, topped best-seller lists after its publication in April.

He paid tribute to his techie background. "I've experienced a deathbed conversion," he said, smiling. "I just bought a Macintosh." Flashing his rejection letters on the screen, he talked about setbacks in his career, repeating: "Brick walls are there for a reason. They let us prove how badly we want things." He encouraged us to be patient with others. "Wait long enough, and people will surprise and impress you." After showing photos of his childhood bedroom, decorated with mathematical notations he'd drawn on the walls, he said: "If your kids want to paint their bedrooms, as a favor to me, let 'em do it."

The full talk is here on YouTube: The Last Lecture (1:15).

There's also a short version from the Oprah show (about 10 minutes).

Charles Krauthammer :: Maliki's Sophistication and Cunning

It is no mystery who would be the more pliant U.S. negotiator. The Democrats have long been protesting the Bush administration's hard bargaining for strategic assets in postwar Iraq. Maliki knows the Democrats are so sick of this war, so politically and psychologically committed to its liquidation, so intent on doing nothing to vindicate "Bush's war," that they simply want out with the least continued American involvement.

Which is why Maliki gave Obama that royal reception, complete with the embrace of his heretofore problematic withdrawal timetable.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Why Jesse Jackson Hates Obama -

Normally, "black responsibility" is a forbidden phrase for a black leader -- not because blacks reject responsibility, but because even the idea of black responsibility weakens moral leverage over whites. When Mr. Obama uses this language, whites of course are thankful. Black leaders seethe.

Nevertheless, Mr. Obama's sacrifice of black leverage has given him a chance to actually become the president. He has captured the devotion of millions of whites in ways that black leveragers never could. And the great masses of blacks -- blacks outside today's sclerotic black leadership -- see this very clearly. Until Mr. Obama, any black with a message of black responsibility would be called a "black conservative" and thereby marginalized. After Obama's NAACP speech, blacks flooded into the hotel lobby thanking him for "reminding" them of their responsibility.

Thomas Sowell, among many others, has articulated the power of individual responsibility as an antidote to black poverty for over 40 years. Black thinkers as far back as Frederick Douglas and Booker T. Washington have done the same. Why then, all of a sudden, are blacks willing to openly embrace this truth -- and in the full knowledge that it will weaken their leverage with whites?

I think the answer is that Mr. Obama potentially offers them something far more profound than mere moral leverage. If only symbolically, he offers nothing less than an end to black inferiority. This has been an insidious spiritual torment for blacks because reality itself keeps mockingly proving the original lie. Barack Obama in the Oval Office -- a black man governing a largely white nation -- would offer blacks an undreamed-of spiritual solace far more meaningful than the petty self-importance to be gained from moral leverage.

But white Americans have also been tormented by their stigmatization as moral inferiors, as racists. An Obama presidency would give them considerable moral leverage against this stigma.

The Insanity of Drive-55 Laws -

Mr. Warner repeats the myth that a lower federal speed limit will increase traffic safety. Back in 1995, Naderite groups argued that repealing the 55 mph limit would lead to "6,400 more deaths and millions more injuries" each year. In reality, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data reveal that in the decade after speed limits went up (1995-2005), traffic fatalities fell by 17%, injuries by 33%, and crashes by 38%. That's especially significant because in 1995 far fewer drivers were gabbing on their cell phones or text messaging while driving.

In a study for the Cato Institute in 1999, I compared the fatality rates in states that raised their speed limits to 70 mph or more (mostly in the South or West) with those that didn't (mostly in the Northeast). There was little difference in safety. Of the 31 states that raised their speed limits to 70 mph or more, only two (the Dakotas) experienced a slight increase in highway deaths. The evidence is overwhelming that traffic safety is based less on how fast the traffic is going than on the variability in speeds that people are driving. The granny who drives 20 mph below the pace of traffic on the freeway is often as much a safety menace as the 20-year-old hot rodder.

Why the press is ignoring the Edwards "love child" story. - By Jack Shafer - Slate Magazine

If Edwards had no affair and fathered no love child, it should be easy to erase the hypocrisy charge, and the press owes him that, pronto. If we give Edwards the benefit of the doubt, which he deserves, visiting the woman who recently gave birth to the out-of-wedlock child of a married campaign aide is completely OK. But meeting her at a Beverly Hills hotel in the early hours of the morning and running from tabloid reporters when approached and hiding in a hotel bathroom for 15 minutes, as the Enquirer reports Edwards did, is not completely OK. Not if he wants to avoid the hypocrite label.

So why hasn't the press commented on the story yet? Is it because it broke too late yesterday afternoon, and news organizations want to investigate it for themselves before writing about it? Or are they observing a double standard that says homo-hypocrisy is indefensible but that hetero-hypocrisy deserves an automatic bye?

That's my sense. Consider how the press treated Jesse Jackson when he admitted to having fathered a daughter outside of his marriage. The baby arrived in 1999, but Jackson didn't go public about it until 2001, after the National Enquirer scheduled its story about the little girl and her mother. Jackson, who loves preaching to others about their morality, suffered less than two seconds of opprobrium from the press after his admission.
It's hard to top Jackson for hypocrisy. In late 1998, while Karin Stanford was carrying the reverend's child, the two visited President Bill Clinton in the White House. Bill was "recovering" from the Lewinsky scandal, and Jesse was there to "counsel" him.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Thomas Sowell on Government "Solutions" on National Review Online

Markets were also blamed for the Great Depression of the 1930s and New Deal politicians were credited with getting us out of it. But increasing numbers of economists and historians have concluded that it was government intervention which prolonged the Great Depression beyond that of other depressions where the government did nothing.

The stock market crash of 1987 was at least as big as the stock market crash in 1929. But, instead of being followed by a Great Depression, the 1987 crash was followed by 20 years of economic growth, with low inflation and low unemployment. 

The Reagan administration did nothing in 1987, despite outrage in the media at the government's failure to live up to its responsibility, as seen in liberal quarters. But nothing was apparently what needed to be done, so that markets could adjust.

The last thing politicians can do in an election year is nothing. So we can look for all sorts of "solutions" by politicians of both parties. Like most political solutions, these are likely to make matters worse.

Andrew C. McCarthy on Boumediene v. Bush & Congress on National Review Online

The Suspension Clause provides: "The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it." (Emphasis added.)

The United States was invaded on September 11, 2001. Congress quickly acted to authorize the president to use all necessary force to quell our enemies. Had Congress any inkling that a decision as radical as Boumediene was coming, it would surely have suspended the writ of habeas corpus to the extent it may have existed for the benefit of foreigners outside the United States. Americans would have demanded nothing less. No one thought to do that, however, and rightly so: extraterritorial habeas is an absurd concept, to say nothing of the fact that it had been flatly rejected by the Supreme Court half a century before.

When we were attacked seven years ago, there was simply no reason to believe the writ extended outside the United States. Up until the Court's Boumediene power-grab, it was understood that foreign affairs, including the prosecution of foreign wars, were the province of the political branches — of diplomacy and military force, not legal processes. The jurisdiction of the federal courts was limited to the United States, except where Congress said otherwise. Outside our territory, our body politic, judges had no power. And their imprimatur has never before been thought necessary to legitimize extra-territorial government action that the Constitution empowers the political branches to undertake. 

Congress should suspend the Boumediene writ without delay, revoke the universal jurisdiction the courts have asserted, and put the judges out of the business of making new law. Congress should also commit itself to fashioning a legal system that comprehensively governs detention, trial and related matters — and it should do so within the next four months: that is, during the election run-up, while the public is engaged and candidates can tell us where they stand. 

George Washington on Leadership... and latrines

[from a National Review article reviewing George Washington on Leadership, by Richard Brookhiser]

Washington established himself as a leader of men in ways large and small. Most people know of Washington's bravery in battle, his quelling of mutinous officers at Newburgh, and other leaderly masterstrokes. In this book, Brookhiser dwells on many less monumental but equally valuable examples of his superior management of men and events.

To wit: latrines. His first General Orders, upon taking command of the colonial army, addressed vitally important, if mundane, details. In addition to the normal requests for an accounting of all supplies and rules for keeping order in camp, Washington paid particular attention to the issue of latrines. An experienced military man, he understood that not only the health but the morale of soldiers in the field depended on a few very simple things. So it is not remarkable that the supreme commander of colonial forces would mention latrines once. What is remarkable is that Washington--responsible though he was for creating and executing grand strategy for a disunited and rebellious confederacy of states with 1,200 miles of coastline--never dropped the subject or left it wholly to the attention of lower officers. In 1779, Washington was still harping on latrines: "The Commander-in-Chief, as the hot season approaches, expects ... vaults to be properly dug ... and sentries placed to see that the men make use of them only." Brookhiser draws an important leadership lesson from this: No issue is too trivial or too quotidian to command the attention of the man in charge.

DNC host's tax-free gas : Updates : The Rocky Mountain News

The committee hosting the Democratic National Convention has used the city's gas pumps to fill up and apparently avoided paying state and federal fuel taxes.

The practice, which began four months ago, may have ended hours after its disclosure. An aide to Mayor John Hickenlooper released a statement Tuesday evening saying that Denver 2008 Host Committee members would pay market prices for fuel and would also be liable for all applicable taxes.

However, Public Works spokeswoman Christine Downs told City Council members just hours before that host committee members were fueling up at the city pumps. The city does not pay taxes on the fuel for its fleet, and Downs said the host committee would not either.

The disclosure brought immediate scrutiny. Colorado Attorney General John Suthers said the practice "would seem" to be illegal and referred the matter to the state Department of Revenue.

Nonprofits, such as the host committee, are subject to state and federal gasoline taxes, according to the Department of Revenue.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. :: :: Energy Freedom

Tuesday, Democratic Senators Joe Lieberman and Ken Salazar will join Republican Senators Susan Collins and Sam Brownback in introducing the "Open Fuel Standard Act of 2008." This legislation would put into law a promise made repeatedly by America's car manufacturers: to make half their new cars Flexible Fuel Vehicles (FFVs) by 2012. These are cars that can use gasoline, alcohols (ethanol or methanol from whatever source) or some combination. It would require foreign competitors to do the same, then up that percentage to 80% by 2015. Companion bipartisan legislation is expected shortly to be put in play in the House of Representatives.

John Bolton on Israel, Iran and the Bomb

Thus, instead of debating how much longer to continue five years of failed diplomacy, we should be intensively considering what cooperation the U.S. will extend to Israel before, during and after a strike on Iran. We will be blamed for the strike anyway, and certainly feel whatever negative consequences result, so there is compelling logic to make it as successful as possible. At a minimum, we should place no obstacles in Israel's path, and facilitate its efforts where we can.

Good News on Saturated Fat - TierneyLab

The Israeli researchers found that people on a relatively low-fat diet lost less weight (6 pounds) than those who ate a low-carbohydrate or Mediterranean diet (10 pounds). These relatively modest weight losses were interpreted as discouraging news for dieters, and they also set off a debate on whether the whether the low-carb diet was really an Atkins-style diet, as my colleague Tara Parker-Pope reported.

Mr. Taubes prefers to focus on another aspect of the study: perhaps the best news yet about saturated fat. As I wrote last year, in a column about Mr. Taubes and his book "Good Calories, Bad Calories," the medical establishment originally warned people to avoid all kinds of fat, but subsequent studies kept failing to produce evidence of the benefits of a low-fat diet. Then the supposed experts said the villain wasn't just any fat but specifically saturated fat. But now their recommendations are being undermined yet again by research, Mr. Taubes says.

Monday, July 21, 2008

John Rentoul: Obama, the most dominant force in British politics

There was a moment last month – it was when Susan Sarandon, the actress, said she might emigrate to Italy or Canada if McCain won – when it seemed essential to the sanity of America that Obama should lose.

But, no, it is more important that the daydream should be broken. The idea that there is some kind of clean, different, painless, perfect alternative to politics as usual is a distraction from taking difficult, compromised decisions in an imperfect world. If Obama lost, too many people around the world could continue to believe that if only America got out of whatever it is in, everything would be better.

I think McCain is right about Iraq – that the surge has been a success, and that eventual troop withdrawal should depend on that success continuing. But I think it is more important, for America and the world, that Obama should be the one who learns the truth of this the hard way.

In office, he would be forced to use his eloquence and his global popularity to make the case for what is left of the coalition to see its responsibilities to the Iraqis through. Many of his supporters, especially outside the US, would see it as a betrayal. I think it would be a necessary one, by which he could at last heal the suspicion of American power that provides so many around the world with easy excuses.

Spending someone else's money

Milton Friedman argued that government spending will always prove pernicious for the simple but profound reason that "nobody spends somebody else's money as well as he spends his own."  Has Brooks ever refuted Friedman?  No.  He writes instead as if Friedman had simply never existed.  Hayek argued that government intervention in the economy will always prove grossly inefficient because government planners can never acquire all the information they'd need to do a good job of allocating resources.  The price mechanism, Hayek argued—joined by Friedman, and George Stigler, and Gary Becker, and James Buchanan, just to name five scholars whose thought proved impressive enough to win them the Nobel Prize for economics—disperses knowledge throughout the marketplace in a way that government activity simply cannot.  Does David attempt to refute Hayek?  No.  Once again, he simply ignores the man.  

APS Physics | FPS | Climate Sensitivity Reconsidered

Even if temperature had risen above natural variability, the recent solar Grand Maximum may have been chiefly responsible. Even if the sun were not chiefly to blame for the past half-century's warming, the IPCC has not demonstrated that, since CO2 occupies only one-ten-thousandth part more of the atmosphere that it did in 1750, it has contributed more than a small fraction of the warming. Even if carbon dioxide were chiefly responsible for the warming that ceased in 1998 and may not resume until 2015, the distinctive, projected fingerprint of anthropogenic "greenhouse-gas" warming is entirely absent from the observed record. Even if the fingerprint were present, computer models are long proven to be inherently incapable of providing projections of the future state of the climate that are sound enough for policymaking. Even if per impossibilethe models could ever become reliable, the present paper demonstrates that it is not at all likely that the world will warm as much as the IPCC imagines. Even if the world were to warm that much, the overwhelming majority of the scientific, peer-reviewed literature does not predict that catastrophe would ensue. Even if catastrophe might ensue, even the most drastic proposals to mitigate future climate change by reducing emissions of carbon dioxide would make very little difference to the climate. Even if mitigation were likely to be effective, it would do more harm than good: already millions face starvation as the dash for biofuels takes agricultural land out of essential food production: a warning that taking precautions, "just in case", can do untold harm unless there is a sound, scientific basis for them. Finally, even if mitigation might do more good than harm, adaptation as (and if) necessary would be far more cost-effective and less likely to be harmful.
In short, we must get the science right, or we shall get the policy wrong. If the concluding equation in this analysis (Eqn. 30) is correct, the IPCC's estimates of climate sensitivity must have been very much exaggerated. There may, therefore, be a good reason why, contrary to the projections of the models on which the IPCC relies, temperatures have not risen for a decade and have been falling since the phase-transition in global temperature trends that occurred in late 2001. Perhaps real-world climate sensitivity is very much below the IPCC's estimates. Perhaps, therefore, there is no "climate crisis" at all. At present, then, in policy terms there is no case for doing anything. The correct policy approach to a non-problem is to have the courage to do nothing.

There's some controversy about the disclaimer that the American Physical Society put on the web article. The original author strongly objects to what appears to be weasel-words stating that the "article has not undergone any scientific peer review":

This seems discourteous. I had been invited to submit the paper; I had submitted it; an eminent Professor of Physics had then scientifically reviewed it in meticulous detail; I had revised it at all points requested, and in the manner requested; the editors had accepted and published the reviewed and revised draft (some 3000 words longer than the original) and I had expended considerable labor, without having been offered or having requested any honorarium.

Jesse Jackson - uncensored

But when a civil rights leader disparages the very people whom he is supposed to champion - that's news. And when the black person who uses the n-word is a civil rights leader who challenged the entertainment industry not to use the word and called for a boycott of "Seinfeld" DVDs after one of the series stars, Michael Richards, used the slur as a standup comic - that's big news. It is news that buries whatever credibility Jackson retained. Which makes O'Reilly's decision not to broadcast the racist n-word incomprehensible. O'Reilly was giving a pass to Jackson - something he would not do for a 18-year-old girl who posted a sexual photo on the Internet.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Jonah Goldberg - Throwing Gas on the Oil Fire

Sen. John McCain has declared the profits of American oil companies "obscene" and wants to hunt down "speculators" with congressional investigations. Sen. Barack Obama also sees "speculation" as the culprit behind our energy woes. Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) blames Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street star chambers. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warns that "we are putting oil speculators on notice." Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid vows to "end speculation on the oil markets." Even former House Speaker Newt Gingrich - who actually knows how markets work and is better at explaining them than any other politician today - says we have to "punish the speculators" for "betting against America."

Et tu, Newt?

Is trying to anticipate the correct price of a commodity now un-American - an act the United States government should seek to punish?

It seems that whenever things go bad and government is largely to blame, politicians look for villains other than themselves.

John Stossel - Tear Down the Stop Signs!!?page=2

Studies show that sometimes installing stop signs lowers accident rates, but in some cases more accidents occurred after signs were installed.

In this month's Atlantic, John Staddon argues that that America's omnipresent stop signs make us less safe. He writes, "Stop signs are costly to drivers and bad for the environment: Stop/start driving uses more gas, and vehicles pollute most when starting up from rest. ... [T]he overabundance of stop signs teaches drivers to be less observant of cross traffic and to exercise less judgment when driving -- instead, they look for signs. ...

"The four-way stop deserves special recognition as a masterpiece of counterproductive public-safety efforts. Where should the driver look?"

One Dutch town experimented by getting rid of most of its traffic signs. The result? Fewer accidents and fewer injuries.

Drivers look out for people instead of signs, and they negotiate their way through town.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Lawrence Solomon on Wikipedia & Global Warming on National Review Online

In theory Wikipedia is a "people's encyclopedia" written and edited by the people who read it — anyone with an Internet connection. So on controversial topics, one might expect to see a broad range of opinion.

Not on global warming. On global warming we get consensus, Gore-style: a consensus forged by censorship, intimidation, and deceit. [...]

Turns out that on Wikipedia some folks are more equal than others. Kim Dabelstein Petersen is a Wikipedia "editor" who seems to devote a large part of his life to editing reams and reams of Wikipedia pages to pump the assertions of global-warming alarmists and deprecate or make disappear the arguments of skeptics. [...]

Now Petersen is merely a Wikipedia "editor." Holding the far more prestigious and powerful position of "administrator" is William Connolley. Connolley is a software engineer and sometime climatologist (he used to hold a job in the British Antarctic Survey), as well as a serial (but so far unsuccessful) office seeker for England's Green party.

And yet by virtue of his power at Wikipedia, Connolley, a ruthless enforcer of the doomsday consensus, may be the world's most influential person in the global warming debate after Al Gore. Connolley routinely uses his editorial clout to tear down scientists of great accomplishment such as Fred Singer, the first director of the U.S. National Weather Satellite Service and a scientist with dazzling achievements. Under Connolley's supervision, Wikipedia relentlessly smears Singer as a kook who believes in Martians and a hack in the pay of the oil industry. 

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Why some conservatives are backing Obama

David Friedman, the son of late conservative icon and Nobel economist Milton Friedman, has also endorsed Obama. Calling McCain a "nationalist," Friedman, an economist at Santa Clara University, thinks Obama could turn out like the liberals who deregulated New Zealand's economy.

"Of the two, Obama is less bad and at least has a chance in some ways of being good," said Friedman. Friedman likes Obama's University of Chicago advisers such as Austan Goolsbee and Cass Sunstein, who he believes are trying to forge a new leftism that incorporates free-market views. "I don't expect to agree in general with them," Friedman said, "but I certainly would be happy if the left became more libertarian, since the right seems to be less libertarian than it used to be."

Many see the Iraq war as hostile to conservative values and as a "friend of the state" - something that inherently expands the reach of the government, as Milton Friedman once described war.

"People don't understand that there has always been a small but very significant element of conservatives who have been against the war from day one and who, like me, also hate George Bush and think he's the most incompetent president in American history," said Bruce Bartlett, a supply-side economist who coined the term Obamacons. "The few people who are slavishly pro-Republican, live or die, slavishly pro-Bush like the Weekly Standard crowd, have gotten lot more publicity than they deserve."  [...]

Matt Welch, editor in chief of the libertarian Reason Magazine and author of "McCain, the Myth of a Maverick," thinks Obama's conservative support "comes as much anything else from people being exhausted with the Republican coalition, who are mad at one wing or another, and they just think it's time for them to lose. It's just, 'Look, we're out of ideas, we're exhausted, it's not working, we don't know what our principles are anymore, let's take one for the team and have a black guy be the president for a while.' "

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Thomas Sowell on Patriotism on National Review Online

During the First World War, France fought on against the German invaders for four long years, despite having more of its soldiers killed than all the American soldiers killed in all the wars in the history of the United States, put together.

But during the Second World War, France collapsed after just six weeks of fighting and surrendered to Nazi Germany. At the bitter moment of defeat the head of the French teachers' union was told, "You are partially responsible for the defeat." 

Charles de Gaulle, Francois Mauriac, and other Frenchmen blamed a lack of national will or general moral decay, for the sudden and humiliating collapse of France in 1940.

At the outset of the invasion, both German and French generals assessed French military forces as more likely to gain victory, and virtually no one expected France to collapse like a house of cards — except Adolf Hitler, who had studied French society instead of French military forces.

Did patriotism matter? It mattered more than superior French tanks and planes. 

Most Americans today are unaware of how much our schools have followed in the footsteps of the French schools of the 1920s and 1930s, or how much our intellectuals have become citizens of the world instead of American patriots.

Our media are busy verbally transforming American combat troops from heroes into victims, just as the French intelligentsia did — with the added twist of calling this "supporting the troops."

Will that matter? Time will tell.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Obama Got Discount on Home Loan -

Shortly after joining the U.S. Senate and while enjoying a surge in income, Barack Obama bought a $1.65 million restored Georgian mansion in an upscale Chicago neighborhood. To finance the purchase, he secured a $1.32 million loan fromNorthern Trust in Illinois.

The freshman Democratic senator received a discount. He locked in an interest rate of 5.625 percent on the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, below the average for such loans at the time in Chicago. The loan was unusually large, known in banker lingo as a "super super jumbo." Obama paid no origination fee or discount points, as some consumers do to reduce their interest rates.

Compared with the average terms offered at the time in Chicago, Obama's rate could have saved him more than $300 per month.

Apology over 'offensive' puppy police advert after Muslim complaints - Telegraph

This story comes from Scotland.  Muslims have complained over a police advert featuring a puppy sitting in an officer's hat.

A police force has apologised to Islamic leaders for the "offensive" postcard advertising a new non-emergency telephone number, which shows a six-month-old trainee police dog named Rebel.

The German shepherd puppy has proved hugely popular with the public, hundreds of who have logged on to the force's website to read his online training diary.

But some Muslims in the Dundee area have reportedly been upset by the image because they consider dogs to be "ritually unclean", while shopkeepers have refused to display the advert.

If you want to see the "offensive" picture, follow this link.  Warning: not safe for politically correct government work.

We Can Lower Oil Prices Now -

The relationship between future and current oil prices implies that an expected change in the future price of oil will have an immediate impact on the current price of oil.

Thus, when oil producers concluded that the demand for oil in China and some other countries will grow more rapidly in future years than they had previously expected, they inferred that the future price of oil would be higher than they had previously believed. They responded by reducing supply and raising the spot price enough to bring the expected price rise back to its initial rate.

Hence, with no change in the current demand for oil, the expectation of a greater future demand and a higher future price caused the current price to rise. Similarly, credible reports about the future decline of oil production in Russia and in Mexico implied a higher future global price of oil – and that also required an increase in the current oil price to maintain the initial expected rate of increase in the price of oil.

Once this relation is understood, it is easy to see how news stories, rumors and industry reports can cause substantial fluctuations in current prices – all without anything happening to current demand or supply.

Of course, a rise in the spot price of oil triggered by a change in expectations about future prices will cause a decline in the current quantity of oil that consumers demand. If current supply and demand were initially in balance, the OPEC countries and other oil producers would respond by reducing sales to bring supply into line with the temporary reduction in demand. A rise in the expected future demand for oil thus causes a current decline in the amount of oil being supplied. This is what happened as the Saudis and others cut supply in 2007.

Now here is the good news. Any policy that causes the expected future oil price to fall can cause the current price to fall, or to rise less than it would otherwise do. In other words, it is possible to bring down today's price of oil with policies that will have their physical impact on oil demand or supply only in the future.

For example, increases in government subsidies to develop technology that will make future cars more efficient, or tighter standards that gradually improve the gas mileage of the stock of cars, would lower the future demand for oil and therefore the price of oil today.

Similarly, increasing the expected future supply of oil would also reduce today's price. That fall in the current price would induce an immediate rise in oil consumption that would be matched by an increase in supply from the OPEC producers and others with some current excess capacity or available inventories.

Any steps that can be taken now to increase the future supply of oil, or reduce the future demand for oil in the U.S. or elsewhere, can therefore lead both to lower prices and increased consumption today.