Sunday, July 31, 2005

Sorry Governor Dean your Kelo story is eminently without legs

Simply put Howard Dean's spin on the Kelo decision won't fly. It has no legs. None. The Kelo decision that expanded the powers of eminent domain "to expand the tax base" of a municipality by town fathers is a corporate liberal's dream. Kelo makes it easier to take the property of the powerless and deed it to another private party. The coalition of government planners and private developers is a threat to private property. This has long been the critique made by libertarian conservatives. Dean should know better. Patterico calls out the Governor.

Dean’s reference to the “right-wing� court was also erroneous. The four justices who dissented in the Kelo vs. New London case included the three most conservative members of the court - Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Associate Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. Justice Sandra Day O’Connor was the fourth dissenter.

The court’s liberal coalition of Justices John Paul Stevens, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer combined with Justice Anthony Kennedy to form the majority opinion, allowing the city of New London, Conn., to use eminent domain to seize private properties for commercial development.

"We think that eminent domain does not belong in the private sector. It is for public use only,� Dean said.

He really is destroying his party. Should we be Napoleonic and let him?

Barone senses the Bush-bashing is abating

Michael Barone thinks that the Bush-bashers have fizzled.

The bombings and attempted bombings in London have brought home to the American public that we face implacable enemies unwilling to be appeased by even the most emollient diplomacy. Yet, mainstream media coverage of Iraq has been mostly negative. But mainstream media no longer have a monopoly; Americans have other sources in talk radio, Fox News, and the blogosphere. Bush's presidency is still regarded as illegitimate by perhaps 20 percent of the electorate. But among the rest, the attempt to delegitimize him seems to be collapsing.

I'm not sure I agree since the steady stream of news (some of it bad) from Gitmo to Rove to the insurgents to terrrorism will most certainly be shrill.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Snapshot on the Economy: Beige Book on Boston

THE BEIGE BOOK - FRB (verbatim)
First District--Boston
The First District economy continues to expand, with the exception of New England-based retailers. Contacted retailers say sales are flat or down compared with a year ago. By contrast, most responding manufacturers are enjoying year-over-year revenue growth, as are advertising and consulting firms in the region. Both retailers and manufacturers report cost increases that they are unable to pass along fully to their customers. New England's residential real estate markets are still going strong, although the pace of activity and rate of increase in home prices in Massachusetts are moving toward normal from "hot," and region-wide inventories of homes for sale are rising somewhat toward more normal levels.

First District retailers cite flat or poor sales results in the second quarter. According to one contact, furniture sales are sluggish compared to this period last year, and slowed in June and early July compared to May, possibly because of good vacation weather and soaring gas prices. Another respondent reports a slowdown in casual dining compared to previous months and year-ago levels but remains unsure of the cause. A contact selling discount apparel and home fashions relayed that business has been "okay," but still slightly below year-earlier levels and below plan. Another contact selling apparel notes that year-over-year sales are down, but believes that the decrease is due to poor merchandising decisions and not a lack of consumer demand.

Inventory levels remain flat or have decreased according to most respondents. One exception is the apparel retailer who has increased inventories in order to shift to more-salable merchandise. Several retail contacts note cost increases for utilities, steel-based items, and paper; they remain hesitant to pass these increases on to customers. Employment levels are mostly steady, with increases occurring only in connection with the opening of new stores. Respondents also report increased capital spending associated with these new store openings, as well as for improvements in distribution and technology.

Most contacted retailers are less optimistic than in previous months, and remain cautious in their outlook. Many hope that sales will at least remain flat compared with a year ago. Respondents also express uncertainty and caution about consumer demand, rising healthcare costs, and geopolitical instability.

Manufacturing and Related Services
First District contacts in manufacturing and related services mostly report that sales and orders remain on an upward trajectory, with levels in the second quarter of 2005 higher than a year earlier. Makers of aircraft, medical equipment, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and IT and information-related products used by the financial services industry are doing particularly well. However, a fabric manufacturer indicates that business is falling off, while a fabricated metals firm reports a temporary downturn in sales to the automotive industry.

Prices for some materials and services continue to increase. Respondents cite cost pressures from freight and transport, energy, and petrochemicals and other synthetic products in particular. In general, manufacturers cannot fully pass along these higher costs to their customers. Some have managed to offset margin pressures by introducing greater efficiencies in purchasing and production.
Companies are mostly keeping their domestic headcounts steady. A few are laying-off employees or shortening the factory workweek. Hiring generally is restricted to sales and marketing and high-end technical positions. Labor markets typically are tight for these types of positions, but contacts do not complain of hiring delays except for positions requiring government security clearance. Wage and salary increases are mostly in the range of 3 to 3.5 percent. Most companies are increasing their capital spending, but they describe their added investments as modest or careful.

Respondents tend to characterize the revenue outlook in terms such as "satisfactory," "decent," or "on plan." Companies in information-related businesses stress that they expect to grow more slowly than in the 1990s. Manufacturers say they intend to remain focused on cost containment, especially given their limited ability to pass on high oil prices and competition from producers in low-cost locations such as China.

Selected Business Services
New England advertising and management consulting companies experienced healthy demand growth in the second quarter of 2005. Most companies believe clients are now more liberal with their discretionary spending than they were in 2004. Although still generally cautious, these clients seem to be shifting toward strategies of growth and expansion, rather than focusing on efficiency. Responding companies have earned moderate price increases over year-ago levels, but costs are also increasing, most notably for labor. Headcounts are growing in response to demand, but at a slightly slower rate than revenues. Looking forward, most respondents call themselves optimistic and expect revenue growth in the second half of 2005 to continue at the first-half pace or to go higher. Nonetheless, contacts see the possibility of a general economic slowdown, higher oil prices, or terrorism as sources of risk to their positive outlook.

Residential Real Estate
Residential real estate markets in New England remain strong and active. Contacts report that brokers are busy throughout the region, even though markets typically slow down this time of year. In Massachusetts, the number of sales of single-family homes declined in April and May compared with year-earlier levels, but the number of condominiums sold reached new record highs for both months. However, inventory of both types increased and sale prices rose by only single digits compared to last year--a more moderate rate of appreciation than in the last few reports. Contacts in other states have not observed much slowdown in price appreciation. Average sale prices have increased in Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. Nevertheless, some contacts report that there is "finally" a little more inventory for buyers to choose from. Most contacts expect prices to continue rising for the rest of the year.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Bravo for Debra Saunders writing from the bluest part of the bluest state

A powerful use of analogies.

Imagine, as I've written before, if anti-abortion terrorists began killing innocent civilians and said they would stop only if the government outlaws abortion. (After all, if terrorism wins for Islamic extremists, why shouldn't U.S. extremists adopt it?) The Left would not fault pro-abortion policies. The Left would not blame the government for legalizing abortion. The Left -- correctly -- would denounce the terrorists, the violence and any attempt to extort policy by threatening innocent lives.

Yet because the terrorists criticize the Bush and Blair policies, many leftists make excuses for the July 7 murders. These true believers have taken the old saw -- the enemy of my enemy is my friend -- to such an extreme that they have become apologists for homicidal zealots who, given power, would have little reservations about jailing them (or worse) for their gender, sexual practices or "infidel" status.


A minority of British Muslims are intolerant says YouGov poll

In light of the London bombings, YouGov polled British Muslims. Most said they feel a particular loyalty to the United Kingdom. A troubling minority, however, feels no such sentiment.

Most Muslims are evidently moderate and law-abiding but by no means all are.

YouGov sought to gauge the character of the Muslim community's response to the events of July 7. As the figures in the chart show, 88 per cent of British Muslims clearly have no intention of trying to justify the bus and Tube murders. However, six per cent insist that the bombings were, on the contrary, fully justified. Six per cent may seem a small proportion but in absolute numbers it amounts to about 100,000 individuals who, if not prepared to carry out terrorist acts, are ready to support those who do.

Moreover, the proportion of YouGov's respondents who, while not condoning the London attacks, have some sympathy with the feelings and motives of those who carried them out is considerably larger - 24 per cent.

A substantial majority, 56 per cent, say that, whether or not they sympathise with the bombers, they can at least understand why some people might want to behave in this way.

Read the whole dispatch from the
London Telegraph.

Friday, July 22, 2005

"Libraries: Courts of last resorts"

Great wisdom from the tennis great great Arthur Ashe ( 1943-1993) in the Beebe Library News, the e-mail newsletter of the Beebe Memorial Library in Wakefield, MA.

Throughout my formal education I spent many, many hours in public and school libraries. Libraries became courts of last resort, as it were. The current definitive answer to almost any question can be found within the four walls of most libraries.

Following in the footsteps of John Stuart Mill:Perry de Havilland explains the meaning of tolerance for Moslems and everyone else

I'll sum this up by saying "Just can't we all just get along?" Perry de Havilland takes a swipe at multiculturalism's failure to create tolerant societies.

Endlessly blathering on about how "Islam is a religion of peace" or alternatively to call for expelling 'Muslims', simply because they are Muslims, is the sort of wilful blindness and one size fits all collectivism of a sort I would rather leave to socialists of both left and right. Anyone who values western liberal civilisation needs to think a little harder than that, avoiding both atavistic collectivism and a head-in-the-sand refusal to see we have a serious problem that will not go away on its own.

If what we are trying to defend is a pluralistic tolerant society, then we have to make sure that the message is not just "throw the wogs out!" but rather "You are welcome here if you are willing to assimilate to a sufficient degree."

But how does one define what that 'degree' is exactly? I am not talking a Norman Tebbit style "cricket test" but rather a willingness to tolerate 'otherness'. We do not need Muslims to approve of alcohol or women in short skirts or figurative art or bells or pork or pornography or homosexuality or (particularly) apostasy. We have no right to demand that at all and obviously not all Anglicans approve of some of those things, so why require that Muslims must? No, what we do have the right to demand (and that is not too strong a word) is that they tolerate those things, which is to say they will not countenance the use of force to oppose those things even though they disapprove of them. In fact it is not just Muslims from whom we must demand such tolerance.

If we can get them to agree to tolerate those things, then it does not matter if Muslim women wear burquas because as long as they are not subject to force, a woman may elect to say "Sod this for a game of soldiers!" and cast off that symbol of misogynistic repression... and if she does not do so, well that is her choice then... but she must have a choice. They do not have to look like us (I do not hear calls for Chinatown to be razed to the ground), they do not have to share our religion(s), or lack thereof, but they do have to tolerate our varied ways and if by their actions or words they show they do not, we have every right to regard them as our enemies and take action to defend ourselves.

For decades the supporters of multiculturalism have used tax money and government regulations to actively discourage assimilation of immigrants into the broader society, preferring to see communities develop which favour 'identity politics' better suited and more amenable to their own collectivist world views. And now we are paying the price for that. We will not be able to defend ourselves physically or preserve our liberal society unless we stop tolerating intolerance, and that includes not just fundamentalist Islam but also the anti-western bigotry of the multiculturalists.

Well said. Thanks to Instapundit for the tip.

Condi Rice swipes hard at the fascists in the Sudan

Good for Condi Rice and Andrea Mitchell.

The Anglosphere strikes back at the Iraqi root causers; Howard speaks

By way of National Review Online, Australian PM John Howard "bitch slaps" a clueless reporter:

PRIME MIN. HOWARD: Could I start by saying the prime minister and I were having a discussion when we heard about it. My first reaction was to get some more information. And I really don't want to add to what the prime minister has said. It's a matter for the police and a matter for the British authorities to talk in detail about what has happened here.

Can I just say very directly, Paul, on the issue of the policies of my government and indeed the policies of the British and American governments on Iraq, that the first point of reference is that once a country allows its foreign policy to be determined by terrorism, it's given the game away, to use the vernacular. And no Australian government that I lead will ever have policies determined by terrorism or terrorist threats, and no self-respecting government of any political stripe in Australia would allow that to happen.

Can I remind you that the murder of 88 Australians in Bali took place before the operation in Iraq.

And I remind you that the 11th of September occurred before the operation in Iraq.

Can I also remind you that the very first occasion that bin Laden specifically referred to Australia was in the context of Australia's involvement in liberating the people of East Timor. Are people by implication suggesting we shouldn't have done that?

When a group claimed responsibility on the website for the attacks on the 7th of July, they talked about British policy not just in Iraq, but in Afghanistan. Are people suggesting we shouldn't be in Afghanistan?

When Sergio de Mello was murdered in Iraq -- a brave man, a distinguished international diplomat, a person immensely respected for his work in the United Nations -- when al Qaeda gloated about that, they referred specifically to the role that de Mello had carried out in East Timor because he was the United Nations administrator in East Timor.

Now I don't know the mind of the terrorists. By definition, you can't put yourself in the mind of a successful suicide bomber. I can only look at objective facts, and the objective facts are as I've cited. The objective evidence is that Australia was a terrorist target long before the operation in Iraq. And indeed, all the evidence, as distinct from the suppositions, suggests to me that this is about hatred of a way of life, this is about the perverted use of principles of the great world religion that, at its root, preaches peace and cooperation. And I think we lose sight of the challenge we have if we allow ourselves to see these attacks in the context of particular circumstances rather than the abuse through a perverted ideology of people and their murder.

PRIME MIN. BLAIR: And I agree 100 percent with that. (Laughter.)

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Blaming Britian for the London bombings, the root cause crowd is at it again.

There is always a qualification when "moderate" Muslims decry acts of terrorism.

Sir Iqbal Sacranie, the secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, condemned the bombings as an "act of criminality" but said the leaders had made clear that Mr Blair could not "simply shun the issue of foreign policy".

Tony Blair answers back.

"Of course these terrorists will use Iraq as an excuse," he said. "But let's be clear: if it wasn't that, it would be something else and nothing, but nothing, justifies what they are doing."They will use whatever is going on in foreign policy to justify what they do, whether it is Iraq, Afghanistan or Palestine, or just generally the fact that Britain is an ally of America." The Prime Minister acknowledged that terrorists were trying to use Iraq as a recruiting tool and a justification for their atrocities but said that to accept that would be to give way to their "perverted logic". He denied that the war on terrorism was being lost but said it would take some time to win. Victory would depend as much on the force of democratic ideas as on military strength.

The British seem to believe the root causers.

When will they learn?

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Lying unemployment statistics?

Katherine Bradbury the senior economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, thinks that recent unemployment figures may be understating joblessness by 3 percentage points. Vodkapundit examines the argument and finds it attractive but inconclusive.

I haven't read Dr Bradbury's study, so I don't know if she's factored for the self-employed. More and more folks are working from home, and don't always show up as part of the Department of Labor's employment statistics. Surely, they account for some of the "slack." If Bradbury's lower figure is correct, then I'd guess that some large fraction of her slack figure is employed, just not in a way measured by the DoL. If Bradbury's bigger number is closer to the truth, then it's difficult not to conclude that our economy is not yet robust enough to employ everyone who wants to work.

"Our Titus Oates"

Michael Barone chips away at former ambassador Joe Wilson.

Monday, July 04, 2005

The U.N wants the U.S. to do its dirty or shall we say dirtier work

There is something unnerving about the fact that the United Nations can't handle a peacekeeping mission in Haiti. The Belmont Club raises an important question that pretty much tells the whole story about the UN's ineffectuality: Q: What's the worst thing you can do with a gun? A: Point it at someone when you have no intention to use it. The UN force on the ground in Haiti appears to have reached its limit in terms of getting the natives to fear and obey. That's a job for the U.S. but the internationalists are setting an precarious trap for the U.S.
Unable to deliver not because the peacekeeper's weapons are malfunctioning but because no one wants to take responsibility for using them. If America has any utility at all to transnational liberals it is as a garbage collector and checkwriter for all the dreams it peddles.

Youi know have an idea why the U.N. is useless in the Sudan and other hotspots. Read it here.

Stanley Crouch doesn't have much patience for the progressive who mock the founding fathers

Stanley Crouch casts his lot with Jefferson's ideas.

We should all be proud and happy to live in the United States because ours is a history of increasing human recognition. We are forever moving against our limits and being forced to face our shortcomings. We remain within the orbit of those American dreams, like sword points, that keep pushing us beyond what Mr. Jefferson and his boys thought, but which would not be possible without them.

Richard Epstein, a man who knows about takings, on Kelo

Epstein on the very disastrous Kelo decision.Worth reading.

The court could arrive at its shameful Kelo ruling only by refusing to look closely at past precedent and constitutional logic. Courts that refuse to see no evil and hear no evil are blind to the endemic risk of factional politics at all levels of government. And being blind, this bare Supreme Court majority has sustained a scandalous and cruel act for no public purpose at all.

Sorry Sir Geldof but you need to get a handle on the African poverty problem

In his piece for the Scotsman, "Nice concert. But can it really save millions from dying?" Gethin Chamberlain rains on the Live8 parade.

Cancelling the debts of 14 nations is a worthy gesture, but it will only be effective if linked to strict anti-corruption measures. Geldof says that Africa is not mired in corruption, but the evidence is against him. Doubling aid sounds good, but there is no evidence that it works. Hundreds of billions of pounds have been poured into Africa and it is poorer now than it has ever been. The money is mopped up by leaders who use it to place more distance between themselves and their own people. If they know they can rely on western cash to prop themselves up, why worry about making themselves accountable to the people?

But some people do not want to hear such arguments. When Ousmane Sembene - known as "the father of African cinema" - branded Make Poverty History and Live 8 as "fake", it went virtually unreported. "African heads of state who buy into that idea of aid are all liars," Sembene said. "The only way for us to come out of poverty is to work hard."

Self-interest is hard to overcome. What if the G8 leaders address the question of the trade barriers that prevent Africa competing in the world's markets? Will the French agree to put aside the interests of their farmers? Will Britain stop buying its bananas from its former Caribbean colonies and switch to African suppliers instead?

The entire article is mandatory reading for friends buying mindlessly into Live8 idealism.

Reporters are no equal to the founding fathers?

Powerline takes apart the pieties of the mainstream press when it comes to anonymous sources.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Corporate liberals are no friends of the poor

More on the Kelo decision. Remember the liberal bloc on the Supreme Court -- Breyer and Ginsberg -- is no friend of the working class. In the aftermath, libertarians are of more help.