Rantlets: Professional media, ethanol, the value of Rice and pointless elections



  • Another shining example of the superiority of the “professional media.” The Washington Post quotes and let’s slide this misrepresentation (or error) by Jennifer Hoelzer, a spokesperson for Oregon Senator Ron Wyden:

    The Geneva Convention in most cases is the only shield that Americans have when they are captured overseas,

    Sorry, Jennifer and WaPo, you fail. Retake the class. The only shield Americans have in most cases is the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. The last time an American was captured as a POW by a Geneva Convention signatory may have been during the first Gulf War. I’m not aware of any recent capture of a US civilian during time of war (where the 4th Geneva Convention would apply). US citizens are arrested in foreign countries signatory to the Vienna Convention on a fairly regular basis, I’d guess at least several thousand times more often than the other cases. (I’m not taking a position on the treatment of prisoners by the CIA here – Republican primary voters have spoken, we don’t believe in waterboarding anymore and President Bush needs to coordinate with President-elect McCain on this. I’m just pointing out a serious error by the media-government complex.)
    Administration Says Particulars May Trump Geneva Protections

  • Turns out John McCain was right on ethanol back when the issue was losing him the Iowa caucus. Corn, used to produce ethanol in the US, has hit record prices. Rice, a close substitute, has hit record prices and experienced supply disruptions and hoarding. And it turns out that making ethanol from corn (at least with current methods of growing the corn, hauling the corn and making the ethanol) probably uses more oil than it saves and produces more greenhouse gases than using gasoline. It also turns out that ethanol and biodiesel are the least water efficient energy sources on a gallons per BTU basis. Natural gas and coal gasification (aka “clean coal”) are the most water efficient.

    The issue here isn’t that alternative sources of energy are a bad idea, or even that government shouldn’t have any role in promoting R & D, but that decisions made by centralized bureaucracies hostile to markets and the individual creativity they unleash are a bad idea. I’ve written before and I’m sure I’ll write again that other than freeing up markets to produce more the only energy policy we need is a tax credit (or, if the income tax were to disappear, a direct subsidy) on domestic production that applies equally to conventional and alternative sources.

  • And on the issue of Rice, ABC News is asking this question about a past President and the next Vice President:

    Who is telling the truth, Jimmy Carter or Condoleezza Rice?

    I’m not sure the question really matters. Unless the State Department asked Carter to go to the Middle East, he didn’t have any business negotiating with Hamas. He’s not President anymore. The American people tossed him out of office 28 years ago. The State Department didn’t need to explicitly tell him not to act as if he was any more authorized than any other private citizen. When all the State Department has to say is “We didn’t authorize it” and they say “We counseled against it,” I’m going with the State Department telling the truth and Carter, at best, misunderstanding.

  • For those who may not read comments, Colin Williams of RejectSociety.com shared this yesterday:

    ‘We in Denmark cannot figure out why you are even bothering to hold an election.
    On one side, you have a lawyer who is married to a lawyer, and a lawyer who is married to a lawyer.
    On the other side, you have a true war hero married to a blonde with a huge chest who owns a beer distributorship.
    Is there a contest here?’

    And one of the lawyers was even disbarred.

  • Liberty, taxes and John McCain

    In the latest Capital Commerce, James Pethokoukis questions whether supply siders will support the McCain tax plan’s inclusion of a doubling of the dependent exemption, which

    creates “tax relief” instead of new incentives for working, saving, and investing…[and] would mean even fewer people paying any income taxes at all—already more than 50 million households pay none—further unbalancing the tax code and breaking the connection between personal income taxes and government spending for more folks.

    I commented:

    Supply siders who don’t like the expanded exemption should think twice. Anything that creates or expands the political will to support tax cuts is supply side politics, if not directly supply side economics.

    Like Milton Friedman, I never met a tax cut I didn’t like. In 1988 as a young Libertarian-leaning Republican, I had a meeting during the GOP Congressional primary in Missouri’s 7th District with Congressman (then candidate) Mel Hancock. He told me that the best way to attack a too powerful government was to cut the purse strings. Of course, when marginal rates are still well on the right side of the Laffer Curve, that’s hard to do with marginal rate cuts that only end up increasing revenues. From a supply side perspective, McCain’s non-supply side tax cuts should be seen as part of a package that creates the political will to drive the entire package (by electing the man pushing it). From the perspective of expanding liberty, the very reason government’s are instituted among men in the first place, the pro-growth, supply side effects of the total package are at best a bonus that could help reduce the debt and lead to more tax cuts in the future.

    When it comes to restoring the country to a less regulated, less taxed condition, a choice for any politician is going to involve compromise. Even the puritanical zeal of the Libertarian Party has been watered down by National Committee member (and now Presidential candidate) Bob Barr who, until he apparently walked into a room filled with the wrong kind of smoke at a Libertarian event, was very anti-liberty on a number of issues. And Mike Gravel? Seriously? (Barr has always been a staunch defender of civil liberties and economic freedom, so the compromise makes sense, though it will be surprising if the anarchist contingent that can barely bring itself to vote in the first place goes along.)

    For those of us willing to compromise enough to actually change the government instead of belonging to a meaningless debating society, McCain is the right choice. The central policy proposals of his campaign are a package of pro-growth, pro-freedom tax cuts, a package of spending cuts that will reduce federal power and interference with free markets and lead to further tax cuts down the road, a pro-free trade package and a strong national defense. With all volunteer armed forces, the worst that can be said of his defense policy is that it’s too expensive, but when spending for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and “income security programs” are more than twice the budget for securing our liberty against foreign aggression even that is a hard case to make – there are plenty of places to cut before defense.

    The alternative? Hillrak Obinton will raise taxes, raise spending, impose trade barriers and gut the national defense, attacking the primary Constitutional and rational reason for the federal government’s very existence. Would it be great if John McCain suddenly embraced expanded civil liberties, had a change of heart on campaign finance restrictions and passed the peace pipe with Bob Barr and NORML? Sure, but compared to the threat of foreign aggression, high taxes, a Smoot-Hawley style trade war and vastly expanded federal bureaucracy, the “threat” of spending vetoes, lower taxes, free trade and the status quo in other areas seems like the way to go. I’ll take a somewhat freer country with an expanding economy over a less free country heading into deep recession (the contraction is de’pr’ession) any day.

    Heretic vs. Heretic

    I had missed until today this detail in the pictures of the “evacuation” of children from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints ranch in Texas. Note the name on the buses:

    Baptist Mormon warfare

    A few thoughts.

    The picture couldn’t make any clearer what is really happening there and what is really at stake. This is an attack on one Christian heresy by another, albeit more established, Christian heresy with the full force of the power of the state behind it.

    Europe got past going to war over religion in 1648, but apparently the Land of the Free with its vaunted First Amendment is still struggling with it 360 years later.

    Lest anyone think that this is about abuse of women and children and not about religious persecution, read up on Baptists. From the frying pan into the fire.

    Perhaps literally. Is the next thing that we can expect from the First Baptist’s and Texas Rangers an auto da fe?

    Rantlets: Clinton, Obama,McCain,New Waco

    • “National polls show the Illinois senator hasn’t suffered among Democratic primary voters” from the widespread disclosure of the fact that his spiritual mentor is a racist hatemonger. This should really come as no shock given the Democratic Party’s 145+ year history of association with racist hatemongers.

      Obama May Not Have Fully Contained Damage From Ex-Pastor

    • Hillary Clinton should have promoted Mark Penn instead of accepting his “resignation” as her chief strategist. Guys like Penn were one of the reason that the Bill Clinton administration was successful. More free trade, less Hillarycare and Bill Clinton would have had a legacy much more memorable than stupid cigar tricks.

      Clinton’s Chief Strategist Steps Down

    • Do we really need to see John McCain’s medical records? He’s breathing, he’s walking and as recently as 23 years ago he was doing other things. Do we really want to know if he has a Viagra prescription or the details of his last prostate exam?

      Rice Eyeing Ticket? That’s News to McCain

    • Are the memories of Texas officials really that bad? Is Rick Perry a Janet Reno wannabe? Is another Waco really necessary in the name of protecting young women from…getting married? (And all assuming that the phone call that started it all was not a prank or a setup.) Interesting that the people acting rationally in all this are the horrible, awful people accused of the crime of Abraham and Solomon. If this doesn’t end with innocent children being burned alive, it will be because of the restraint shown by the FLDS under un-American religious persecution and not due to any good sense on the part of Texas officials.

      Women, children taken from West Texas town, search continues