Attila at Pillage Idiot notes all the favorable press that the Ford Taurus has received as production of the popular vehicle ends.
Speaking as a Taurus owner for 13 years, and as someone who actually had an emotional attachment to the car, I can only say: GOOD RIDDANCE! GOOD FREAKIN' RIDDANCE!
Fact is, the car sucked eggs. Major eggs. My 1993 Taurus LX had less than 75,000 miles on it, but I have a thick file with all the repairs I had to have done on it. Just by way of example, I went through 5 or 6 starters and starter relays. The water pump and various other parts of the cooling system failed on me. And my all-time favorite (cue scary music): the head gasket. The head gasket failure, which Tauruses were extremely prone to suffering, cost about $3000 to fix and took a week or more at the dealer. Ford agreed to pay for the repair for some owners, but limited that offer to certain model years, thus stiffing a large number of us whose head gaskets survived a few months too long.
If anyone from Ford happens to stumble on this post, I just want to say that I bought a new car this year. It was a Toyota. Feel free to send me your apology by email: pillageidiot -at- hotmail -dot- com. I still won't buy another Ford, but at least an apology will make me feel the company is not malevolent but simply incompetent. Oh, and enjoy your evening.
As Great Britain prostrates itself over the urgency to save the world from Global Warming [all caps because this is a proper name, not an actuality] David Cox writes in The Guardian that we're "back on the road to nowhere."
So off we go. But are we going anywhere? This is not the first time that the peoples of the world have been mobilised to confront a common danger. Success has usually proved elusive. You may remember the "war on drugs", or, if memory fails you on that one, the "war on terror". Ten years ago, a hundred countries, including Britain, pledged to halve global hunger. During the following decade, the number of starving people rose by 54 million, and that was with pop concerts, TV pictures of starving babies and Bob Geldof leading the charge.
Cox's conclusion is encouraging, however:
So all the curbs on free flights, higher motoring taxes and increased fuel bills which Mr Juniper has in mind for us would be unlikely to do the planet much good. In due course, this is likely to become apparent to both our politicians and to voters. Sacrifice that is clearly pointless soon loses its allure. So we need not be too fearful that the harsh measures currently being canvassed by the likes of David Miliband will actually materialise.
Jonathan Chait has a piece in TNR Online today that is painful to read. Of course, I don't read TNR for fun, I do it to assess the ideas of political opposition.
Chait's piece is not stupid. It's not even partisan. He admits that even though Bush is the worst leader since Caligula, his disastrous policies could not have possibly made things as awful as they are. Nope, the problem is that it is built on such a collection of faulty premises.
The cornerstone of its catawampus foundation is how bad things really are. Not just now, but the ridiculous Paul Krugman belief that we've made no economic gains since the Stones released "Sticky Fingers."
During the postwar boom, productivity surged at an average rate of 2.5 percent a year. But from 1973 to 1995, by contrast, it grew at a paltry 1.5 percent. The economic pie had stopped growing, and slicing it up more fairly was no longer enough. So a generation of liberals, and especially moderate liberals, began focusing on how to restore rising productivity and get the pie growing again. This was one reason the Clinton administration made it a priority to reduce the budget deficit, which drained savings that could otherwise be tapped by business for investments in new plants and equipment that could raise productivity.
For the next two decades, living standards barely rose at all. Wages would grow during an expansion, but only enough to recapture the ground that had been lost during the previous recession. (This period was neatly captured by the title of Paul Krugman's 1990 book on the subject, The Age of Diminished Expectations.)
By cherry-picking dates, you can make the Reagan expansion disappear; just average it in with Ford, Carter and the 1991 recession.
I remember the 1970s not fondly but well. Krugman still asserts that middle class living standards have made little gain since then. He takes the CPI which overestimates inflation and subtracts it from the median wage which underestimates wage growth as more workers are added at the lower end. The ex-Princeton prof who used to be a real economist says "numbers don't lie, we're no better off."
A cell phone, laptop computer, more reliable car, medical innovation do not represent wealth? My father owned his own business and was upper middle class compared to my solid middle class. Yet I enjoy a far higher standard of living.
On top of his bad historical premises, Chait mischaracterizes the present:
Just this week, The New York Times published a story on the front page of the business section marveling at voters' inexplicably downbeat assessment of the economy. "Republican candidates do not seem to be getting any traction from the glowing economic statistics with midterm elections just two weeks away," reported the Times. The author proceeded to puzzle at length about why this could be, without ever considering the possibility that, for most people, the economy was not doing well.
Conservatives, for their part, have grown enraged that the public does not adequately appreciate the economic bounty it is enjoying under Bush. The Wall Street Journal editorial page dubbed the current recovery the "Dangerfield economy" (meaning it gets "no respect") and speculated that people only believe the economy is bad because they have been fed misleading reports by the biased liberal press. Columnist George F. Will has fulminated against the "economic hypochondria" of the ungrateful masses. Conservative commentator Larry Kudlow has endlessly touted the Bush boom as "the greatest story never told."
It is certainly true that the economy is performing well by traditional standards. But it ought to be apparent that, in this case, traditional standards are not the most relevant ones. Fast economic growth, after all, is a means to an end--namely, higher living standards for most people. By any decent moral calculation, an economy that does not produce higher living standards for most people is not a good one.
Income inequality. How will Bill enjoy his new 42" plasma TV when he knows his boss has a 54?
Chait then crowns that rocky structure with a bad conclusion: the moderate, Rubinite wing of the Democratic party has been proven wrong. Not by supply siders of course, but by the Democratic left wing who have shown that economic redistribution after the fact is not good enough. More intervention is required.
Moderates--that is, policy types associated with the Clinton administration, the Brookings Institution, or most university economics departments--believe that the market is generally the most efficient mechanism for distributing wealth. Government should redress inequality, but it should usually do so only after the fact--let the market work, then tax the rich and use some of the proceeds to help the poor. Moderate liberals have historically been restrained in their enthusiasm for the minimum wage and unions, and they have been downright hostile to any limits on international trade.
Economists from the liberal wing of the Democratic Party (those associated with labor unions, say, or groups like the Economic Policy Institute) have always attacked the moderates' prescriptions as naďve. If the rich control a growing share of the national income, they will turn their financial power into political power to protect their holdings. Untrammeled economic inequality will inevitably lock itself into place as the rich buy political influence and propagate policies that safeguard their wealth. And so, the liberals have always argued, government must foster greater levels of equality before the fact, not merely after.
Those dammed Clintonites with their brainless devotion to the free market! Glad we chased those losers out of the party!
I have always been disappointed with the deference given to Rubinomics. But it is even more disturbing to see it attacked from the left in a centrist Democratic magazine.
The post is funny, but Josh@ The Everyday Economist (inline hat-tip) and I like the close. Responding to the assertion that ignoring the problem will take 5-20% off GDP, and fixing it would only cost 1%, Kling states:
One percent of global GDP is a lot--close to one trillion dollars. My guess is that if you think outside the box, you can eliminate global warming for a lot less money. Suppose you told scientists and engineers to come up with a way to monkey around with chemicals and stuff to reduce global average temperature. My guess is that the total cost of that approach, including research and implementation, would be only a few billion bucks, give or take.
Fighting man-made climate change with more man-made climate change almost has to be more cost-effective than fighting man-made climate change by trying to de-industrialize. But it would not satisfy the religious and political longings that are at the heart of the global warming crusade.
Earlier this month, Mr. Gore spent a day in Brussels to promote his film on global warming. "Our planet has a fever, and the fever has been getting steadily higher," he said in a speech. "It is in fact a full-scale planetary emergency." Within days, Belgian politicians were rewriting their tax laws to do something about this looming calamity.
Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt invoked his American visitor in proposing a new "environmentally friendly" tax on packages that would penalize users of aluminum or plastic and provide incentives to switch to paper or cardboard, whose production releases less CO2 into the atmosphere. The details have yet to be worked out, but the idea is for milk sold in, say, a plastic bottle to cost more than milk sold in a cardboard container.
"We must take Al Gore's message seriously," Mr. Verhofstadt told parliament the other day. The measure, introduced into the draft 2007 budget, was fast dubbed "the Gore tax." Also in the works are tax breaks for car pollution filters and deductions for energy-efficient investors.
This is what's fundamentally wrong with government. You say that's Belgium, but I live in Boulder County, which I might start calling "Little Belgium." Such a tax would pass here in an instant.
While in the Senate, Sen. Al Gore, Jr. decided that government should design toilets. Now he is encouraging the EU (which needs little encouragement to meddle) that the government should make packaging decisions. The Hayekian idea of innovation from multiple sources being sorted out in the market as abandoned.
Let Trent Lott design milk cartons? Ted Kennedy might bring some innovation to Scotch bottles, but I’d still rather trust the market.
Personal income grew in September at a seasonally adjusted rate of 0.5%, after increasing a revised 0.4% in August, the Commerce Department said Monday. August income growth was previously reported at 0.3%. Meanwhile, personal consumption grew 0.1% in September, less than the revised 0.2% increase the month before. August spending growth had previously been reported at 0.1%.
When spending is up, folks worry about the savings rate, when they don't, they worry about confidence. When productivity is up, they worry about wage growth. Those are market forces and I'm all for them, but Larry Kudlow's Goldilocks-Economy-Greatest-Story-Never-Told is looking pretty good.
Bill Clinton's back, now touting tax hikes for ethanol to California voters. "If Brazil can do it, so can we," he said, claiming an ethanol switch ended Brazil's need for foreign oil. Once again, he's telling whoppers.
Brazil did achieve independence from foreign oil all right. It happened this past April. But Clinton, true to form, doesn't quite recall the critical point showing how it was done.
Here's a clue for the semi-retired former president and policy wonk: Brazilian President Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva didn't celebrate the oil independence milestone out in an Amazon sugar field.
No, he smashed a champagne bottle on the spaceship-like deck of Brazil's vast P-50 oil rig in the Albacora Leste field in the deep blue Atlantic. Why? Brazil's oil independence had virtually nothing to do with its ethanol development. It came from drilling oil.
Brazil's independence has been touted by politicians all over the American left.
The numbers were never practical for the United States. There's simply not enough room to grow all of the necessary ethanol.
My satellite service is out today and I will be missing the Colts-Broncos game.
I'm not sure I had the courage to watch, it might be better to read about it tomorrow. Go Broncos!
UPDATE: Hmm 14-13 Broncs in the 3rd...I wish I were watching.
UPDATEII: So, I am guessing I missed like the greatest game of all time. We beat the premier team in our Conference by one point and I was writing code. The DishNetwork tech is going to have to answer for this. I am going to grease the roof.
UPDATE III: O. That was a 4th quarter score and I jumped. Indy23 - Den 21. Internet news is swell but it's a crappy way to watch football. I'm glad they took 'em to the wire. Ball bearings on the roof. Ball bearings.
He is using the victim of a terrible disease to frighten people, all for his own political gain.
I was pretty disappointed with the Michael J Fox ads supporting Ben Cardin and Claire McCaskill. C'est la guerre, I suppose, but like so many celebrity activists, Fox has fastened onto a single issue with partisan effects.
Where the hell are these people when a Democratic VP candidate swears "they will fight the drug companies" and where are they when price controls, additional regulation, drug importing, and a non-friendly-to-Pharma FDA are discussed?
As an MS patient, embryonic stem cells might offer some hope (not that the FDA would let me have a cure were it discovered tomorrow) and, like many on this blog, I would not have a huge problem allowing Federal funding of research.
As all the lefties of the world line up to support something just because President Bush has set boundaries for it, all promising research in the world is put at risk by rapacious tort lawyers and a sclerotic FDA bureaucracy. Yet I am not expecting to see Ed Asner and Rob Reiner sing "We are the Pharma" even though that's where the real hope lies.
Count two MS patients for Steele!.
UPDATE: Deja vu all over again. On October 6, 2004 I made Taranto's Best Of The Web with a post that included Michael J Fox, politics, pharmaceutical companies, Sen. Edwards's vow to "fight the drug companies," and even the word hell.
I mentioned this documentary when I ordered it on October 6. John Fund called filmmaker Phelim McAleer the "Anti-Michael Moore." He uses the documentary as polemic format (though I hope not the mendacity) of The Great Scruffy One From Flint to champion -- instead of destroy -- the cause of modernity and freedom.
McAleer becomes involved with the controversy around a new gold mine in Rosia Montana, Romania. A Canadian firm wants to replace the run down, polluting Communist-era mine with a modern one, develop housing and infrastructure, and provide jobs to the blighted, dying community.
Phelim McAleer meets George Lucian, a young Romanian who wants to see the new mine so that he can get employment. Lucian, who has never strayed from his village, agrees to follow McAleer to Madagascar to see another poor village whose inhabitants, like Rosia Montana's, overwhelmingly want a new modern mining project to proceed. McAleer leaves Lucian in the sunshine when he goes to Chile, where a remote village also looks forward to a new mine.
Sadly, McAleer also introduces us to a cadre of pompous gasbag environmentalists who are doing all they can to stop these projects. McAleer juxtaposes the speech of big city, wealthy. modern environmentalists with the exigencies of the places they describe. Francoise Heidebroek describes Rosia Montana as a delicate paradise which should support itself with agriculture and tourism. Lucian gives a different tour. There is some mountain beauty, yes, but the people live in ramshackle huts with no modern conveniences. Most have no indoor plumbing and use outhouses in the -20C winter cold.
Ms. Heidebroek and like minded NGO staff in Madagascar, Argentina, and London feel no compunction denying Lucian, and huge swaths of the world's poor, the opportunity to have jobs, cars, heat and plumbing.
McAleer gets pro modernity views from other journalists and from Professor Deepak Lal (whose excellent book "Reviving the Invisible Hand" recently got a favorable review). They conclude that the environmentalist NGOs are now the enemies of the world's poor. McAleer has a guest editorial in The Rocky Mountain News on that topic. The idea (to which I once subscribed) that environmentalists are earnest and misguided but harmless is laid low.
A DVD is available on his website for $12.99. Buy one for yourself and at least one for a gift. Silence bristles when I discuss the anti-modernity agenda of the environmentalist movement. This is admittedly a small slice of a large movement but it shows a subtext that can be extrapolated to most all of the environmental NGOs and many of their supporters.
Josh at The Everyday Economist tries but happily fails to keep his emotions in check when "schooling" a protectionist. A commenter asks "Do you think the trade deals are working with soaring trade debt and falling wages?"
Josh opens a can of "Economics 101" on him:
First, a trade deficit is merely a capital surplus. For example, if we export lumber and steel to Brazil for the production of a factory, this is a trade surplus. However, if we import the lumber and steel from Brazil to build a factory in the U.S. and then it is bought by Brazilian investors, we say that we have a trade deficit. What is the difference? A Brazilian-owned factory was built. Does it matter where it was built? Why is it better for the Brazilians to build factories in their own country?
When exports fall, investment in the United States rises. We pay for goods from China with U.S. dollars. These dollars must be used to buy U.S. goods or assets.
A trade deficit does not create debt. If I buy a good that was made in China and the maker of that toy purchases a factory in the United States or shares of a publicly traded company, a trade deficit exists. But where is the debt?
If I purchase a good that was made in the U.S. and the company uses the money to purchase a factory or shares of stock, is debt created? Why is it any different if I buy the good from a foreign company?
I don't think anybody can be totally sanguine about the political situation in Russia. Arrested journalists and business leaders, renewed nationalism and expansionism. The promise of freedom when the Berlin Wall fell has not been realized.
Yet, in the long term, we can't forget the improvement from Sharansky’s incarceration to this:
I'm still on the British Midlands International email list, though I haven't been back to Blighty in years. BA has one flight per day to Denver; it's much smaller competitor flies twice into Moscow. Interesting.
Proprietor Howard Mortman is described as a seasoned media veteran and admits "like most Americans, my eyes always get a wee bit moist on those rare occasions when Chuck Schumer or John McCain are on TV."
I was concerned that Ian of Banana Oil! had met a bad fate. He has ThreeSources on his blogroll on the other side of the ChiCom firewall. A month of seeing a WordPress error page had me seriously concerned.
I was going to remove him and gave one last click:
Like Shepherd Book in Firefly, I've been out of the world for a while. In my case, it wasn't by choice, but I'm not going to talk about it. At least, not publicly.
But I am not: incarcerated; deathly ill (or ill at all); sadistically tortured by (or torturing) anyone.
I owe lots of you an email, and some of you a good deal more than that. You will get them, though perhaps not immediately.
Will try to post some interesting quotes for the next week or two, at the very least.
Otherwise, I'm remaining out of the world for just a bit longer. Many apologizings.
Alive, out of jail, and spinning off Firefly references. Excellent.
OpinionJournal Political Diary's Quote of the Day:
"It started out as a gag here on the editorial page of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and soon became a superstition: Every time the stock market took a little dip, we'd reprint one of Paul Krugman's dour columns from the New York Jaundiced Times about the imminent doom of the American economy. Almost immediately the market would bounce back and then some. It worked every time. But we may have overdone it of late. By now the Dow Jones has started to cross into 12,000 territory. A few more Krugman columns explaining how the economy has cooled off and the thing could overheat... The more Professor Eeyore says the economy is going to hell, the more heavenly it gets" -- Paul Greenberg, editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
The Washington Times editorial board picks up on Bob Casey's "direct answer" to the Philadelphia Inquirer on wiretapping.
The one thing Sen. Rick Santorum's backers and critics agree upon: Everyone knows where he stands on the issues. Then there's Democratic challenger Bob Casey Jr., who was for warrantless surveillance of terrorists before he was against it. Or something like that.
Calling his evasive answer Kerryesque, they continue...
Mr. Casey's position is not clear -- not at all.
We call on Mr. Casey to tell voters what he really thinks about surveillance. At present he is tiptoeing around the subject because commonsensical Pennsylvania voters want one answer while his liberal campaign funders at Moveon.org insist upon another. Whatever Mr. Casey says is bound to antagonize somebody. The fact that he can't answer at all should give everybody pause. If he can't make a hard decision like that now, imagine what kind of senator he would make.
We can call on Mr Casey to answer the tough questions, but he won't. In fact, the Santorum campaign and the blogosphere has been doing that on any number of issues. Even in the primaries, the left blogosphere was doing the same thing.
He has two weeks to keep his mouth shut. What makes anyone think he'd do otherwise? He managed to say very little during four debates. Being a stealth candidate is all about waiting the other guy out.
He's not going to start now (and definately blow it).
Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies, The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
- C.S. Lewis
From Samizdata, who also provide a link to these beauties. See if you can spot which are from Sweden, and which are from the UK.
A Republican refrain that I keep hearing goes like this: "Let the Democrats take the House in the 110th, because when all of America sees Rep. Pelosi as we inside-baseball, political junkies see her, they will be repulsed." Mickey Kaus even suggested that it would turn the electorate against those without a Y chromosome, hurting Senator Clinton's Presidential ambitions.
That's not gonna work, kids. Leader Pelosi grew up in a political family (her Father was Mayor of Baltimore) and you don't rise to her level without some political gifts. Last night, Rep, Pelosi came off as cool, smart and charming in an interview with uber-Republican Larry Kudlow. If I can't find it on YouTube by later today, I will post it myself.
I do not agree with the things she said. She called for a higher minimum wage and I believe PayGo exists just to hike taxes. But she was calm and reasonable and presented her ideas as serious fiscal policy. Kudlow not only showed her a lot of deference in the interview, as is his style, but also defended her positions in a follow up panel.
Her one slip of sorts I will post later today. Larry asks her about the windfall profits tax on oil companies and she surprises Kudlow and me by saying "I can't be in favor of that!" Kudlow points out that many people will be surprised and moves on to the next topic. She interrupts the next question to clarify: "It's not the taxes I'm against, it's the profits that I'm against." Yes she'd tax 'em. Glad that was cleared up.
I'd call that a gaffe. But it was the only bad note in a superb performance in a less-than-sympathetic house. Misunderestimate the Gentlewoman from Marin County at your own peril. We're used to seeing her in short shrill sound bites but she has some political chops.
Interviewer: Let me ask you to shift gears to the anti- terrorism initiatives. Last night in the debate, I think you said that you’d support warrant-less wiretapping. How does that square with your suspicion about this white house? Why would you be willing to let them do that without judicial oversight? And on the Military Commissions Act, would that have been something you would have supported? In general, your outlook on anti terrorism initiatives…
Casey: Yeah, I think going backwards the, with regard to the detainees and interrogation, look, we’ve had people like John McCain, and you could give other examples as well, but people who have looked at this for a long time who have been very serious about making sure that we are very tough in our interrogation, that we get as much information as possible from those we detain and interrogate and also John McCain, showing the kind of independence that Rick Santorum never seems to show, took on the administration and I think they, based upon their experience, I think they got it right and I think I would have support that. Secondly, on the question of wiretaps, my position all along has been we’ve got to do everything possible and give every tool that government agencies need, intelligence, law enforcement, give them the tools they need to fight this war on terror. And I think we, in terms of wire tapping, whether its terrorists, known terrorists, or suspected terrorists, we’ve gotta give this government all the tools it can. And I think what we’ve seen in the past is the system that has been setup when its operated according to the law, and when the administration goes and puts a wiretap in place and then comes back later and gets a warrant after the fact, the system that has been setup is a pretty solid system, but they often don’t comply with it. You can support having a lot of tough wiretapping, but also support the kind of tough oversight of the administration, which I think has been lacking. And I think we can have the two in balance at right.
Interviewer: Well, it might have been misreported this morning, but it certainly seemed to me as if you were endorsing the NSA program which is warrant less wiretapping without court oversight.
Casey: Well, I think, look, my position all along has been you’ve got to have the ability to wiretap known or suspected terrorists, and I am going to make sure that everything I do in this area is focused on anti terrorism and making sure that were being as tough as possible to fair it out any kind of plot or and kind of terrorist activity.
Interviewer: Bob, it’s real simple, and it seems to me you are dancing around it. Either you believe that the President or his designees need to go to the FISA court and provide some probable cause for the wiretapping, or you don’t. They say they don’t. They say they can do it on their own say so and there’s no oversight of whether the person they’re wiretapping is actually credibly a terrorist suspect or not. That’s the issue. Do they have to go through the FISA court or not? Nobody’s debating that we need to wiretap suspected terrorists.
Casey: You know very well that Senator Specter has worked very hard on this to try to get this right and I think with bi-partisan cooperation, working with people like Senator Specter, as I know I can, that we can get this right. I don’t, I don’t, I don’t see what the…
Interviewer: It’s a real simple question. Do they need to go through the FISA Court as the FISA law has said since 1973 or don’t they? They say they don’t. We say they do. What do you say?
Casey: I think it’s worked well.
Interviewer: What has worked well?
Casey: I think it’s worked well when you use that system and you use it in the context of making sure that we are doing everything possible to, to…
Interviewer: So, are you saying that the president has been breaking the law since 2002, or whenever the NSA program started?
Casey: I’m saying that people like Senator Specter have a lot of questions about whether or not the law was broken. I don’t think anyone has made a determination about that. I think that’s pretty clear.
A friend directs our attention to the Philadelphia Inquirer editorial board interview with Bob Casey, candidate for the United States Senate. She asks us to "read this and think about the fact that the newspaper endorsed Casey." She comments: "It would be funny if we weren't actually at war." Putting that disagreeable fact to one side, this is funnier than any Hollywood political satire since "Dr. Strangelove" or perhaps "Being There." Bob Casey apparently can't think, and he can't talk, but he likes to watch television
Casey comes off as a very typical Democrat, on the one hand lobbing criticisms at the Bush administration for aggressively monitoring the communications of suspected terrorists, while on the other hand trying to appear tough on terrorists by agreeing in abstract terms that terrorists should be watched and listened to. He dances and bobs and weaves in and out of the question, which to the credit of the interviewer he had a hard time getting away with. Hopefully enough voters can see through Casey’s stumbling ramba and recognize him for what he is: unserious. It’s hard to imagine that he would get more serious if he actually wins the election.
When oil prices were rising, oil executives were called in front of preening Senators to explain why -- dammit why -- they were making so much money. These "windfall profits" were deemed to be worthy of special taxation. After all, why should the oil companies get to keep the money they made?
I wonder if Debbie Stabenow will have a hearing to discuss tax rebates for big oil. It seems their profitability is hurt by falling prices as it is helped when they rise. The Wall Street Journal reports:
Even before the steep drop-off in prices, earnings had been blunted by side effects of the commodities boom. Oil-field costs have skyrocketed for many projects because of higher demand for everything from steel to software among energy companies eager to cash in on the boom. Competition for new prospects has heated up, ratcheting up auction prices for fresh exploration acreage.
If oil prices stabilize or drop further, cost inflation could also subside. But costs generally take time to catch up with swings in commodity prices. That poses a growing challenge to profitability in the short term.
Neil McMahon, a London-based oil analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein, says recent trends of lower commodity prices and higher costs mean quarterly results this time around aren't likely to offer much positive surprises for investors. In a note to clients Friday, he said he expects to see further evidence of cost pressure when companies report this week.
Commodity boom huh? Sure glad I didn't jump in on that. (Kidding, kidding.)
Men who use mobile phones could be risking their fertility, warn researchers.
A new study shows a worrying link between poor sperm and the number of hours a day that a man uses his mobile phone.
Those who made calls on a mobile phone for more than four hours a day had the worst sperm counts and the poorest quality sperm, according to results released yest at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine annual meeting in New Orleans.
Doctors believe the damage could be caused by the electromagnetic radiation emitted by handsets or the heat they generate.
There are too many morons out there abusing cell phones.
The last thing we need are for them to breed.
Don't get me started on the bluetooth earpieces. "No. You cannot pretend that you're Lt Uhura."
Since JK's "gratuitous swipe" last Thursday, GOOG's share price has soared another 54 points, an increase of more than 12 percent in just two trading days. Which means it is finally almost 10 points above its all-time high of $471.66 on 11 January, 2006. I'm sure this comes as a relief to the many casual traders who bought in January since the share price has been largely under water since then prior to last week.
Google's year-to-date appreciation is indeed about 16%, but stodgy old Exxon-Mobil checks in with nearly 25% gain since January 1. And, has dividends to boot!
Add to this that XOM's P/E ratio is 11 while GOOG's is 61 and the same dollar invested in Exxon delivers more than five times the earnings as does that slick tech fad.
When I said in January that paying $400 a share for Google would earn you the moniker "moron" it was because Google is the exact same formula that created (and burst) the 1999-2000 tech bubble: Hype and buzz and very little hard assets. If you want to ride that firecracker again then don't let li'l ol' me stop you!
Larry Kudlow suspects politics is driving the Dow to new highs.
It may not be the Pelosi bull market after all.
The roaring stock market today is trading off yesterday’s Barron’s article that says the GOP’s money advantage will limit Democratic gains and keep the House and Senate in Republican hands.
The mainstream media is not reporting this counter-conventional poll from our friend Jim McTague—but that’s really the big news driving the market.
It’s a tempting thought that this summer and fall’s stock market rally is the most important poll predicting a Republican hold. And frankly, I would love to believe Jim Mctague’s results. But I’m still somewhat skeptical.
Tradesports’ House GOP contract is still trading in the mid 30s—no excitement there off the Barron’s story.
Color me skeptical. But I'm thinking about trying the GOP House future at 30.
Coals to Newcastle to link to BOTW around here, but Taranto had a piece today that deserves to be read twice.
He links to a Chicago Sun-Times article where Senator Dick Durbin (D- IL) is petitioning the Baseball Hall of Fame on behalf of Ron Santo, a Cubs third baseman who played with diabetes.
We can't know how much better Ron Santo's statistics might have been had he not played his entire career with a life-threatening illness, in an era that suppressed the long ball, for a team that, God bless them, never once saw post-season action," wrote Durbin.
Affirmative action for diabetic baseball players? Hey, how come we can't get into the Hall of Fame? We can't know how much better James Taranto's statistics might have been had he not had the misfortune, through an accident of birth, to lack both strength and ability.
The Economist magazine hops aboard the libertarians-as-swing-voters meme.
AMERICA may be the land of the free, but Americans who favour both economic and social freedom have no political home. The Republican Party espouses economic freedom—ie, low taxes and minimal regulation—but is less keen on sexual liberation. The Democratic Party champions the right of homosexuals to do their thing without government interference, but not businesspeople. Libertarian voters have an unhappy choice. Assuming they opt for one of the two main parties, they can vote to kick the state out of the bedroom, or the boardroom, but not both.
I enjoy The Economist. I don't subscribe but I always enjoy buying it at a coffee shop and reading it. It is smart but it always misses the pulse of America which it tries so hard to explain to its readers. And -- tell no lies here -- it is frequently condescending to the colonists:
In a new study from the Cato Institute, a libertarian think-tank, David Boaz and David Kirby argue that libertarians form perhaps the largest block of swing voters. Counting them is hard, since few Americans are familiar with the term “libertarian”.
I still think this idea has currency, but those with a vested interest, say The Cato Institute, are in danger of overplaying this hand.
The problem is the prickly and unreliable nature of the little-l lib vote. All I see across the blogosphere is "I'm not gonna vote for these big-spending Republicans, I'm going to stay home -- see how they like that!"
Like Phil Gramm's proverbial five legged dog, It might work. But you never see a group rise to power and get its way by staying home. Little-l (and some big-L) libs are the only ones who really believe it's going to work for them.
Hat-tip: Everyday Economist. I hate to put words in Josh's mouth, but I think he might fit into the boycotting little ls I describe.
Nothing, absolutely nothing, demonstrates the sheer denial of reality regarding the left more than their reactions to the last three elections they’ve lost: they were “stolen,” “rigged,” etc - can’t possibly be because Democrats have been rejected on the basis of their ideas (or lack thereof), can’t possibly be because a majority of the American people actually embraced Republican ideas, bbbbecause Americans couldn’t possibly be that stupid, could they? What the left can’t or won’t explain though, is that they haven’t just been losing elections since Bush was ELECTED President, they’ve been losing big since 1994 - but during the 1994, 96, and 98 elections we didn’t hear this massive outcry of election rigging - apparently Democrats losing elections in the 90s had nothing to do with Republicans officials acting nefariously throughout the country - and of course had nothing to do with a rejection of Democratic ideas, oh no - but once Bush came along the left finally found someone they could pin their losses on. For the party of “thinkers”, Democrats aren’t big on self-introspection - it’s always someone else’s fault.
No, I'm talking about the US Senate Race. I don't have the resources for polling and don't know what polls to believe, but Professor Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit disclosed his secret ballot after allowing readers to guess in an online poll. I guessed Harold Ford, Jr. but a slim plurality picked Bob Corker.
That's pretty much how it was in my mind, too. I liked Harold Ford, Jr. when we interviewed him, and I wouldn't shed any tears if he were elected; he'd raise the caliber of the Democrats in the Senate. But when push came to shove, I voted for Corker. I liked him, too, and ultimately the combination of Ford's "F" rating on gun rights and the sleazy "outing" behavior of the Democrats was such that I just felt I had to vote Republican in this race. (In our interview, Corker said he'd look favorably on federal legislation to require states to recognize each others' gun-carry permits.)
As I mentioned before, the Republicans don't really deserve my vote -- though as Bob Corker hasn't been in Washington that's not really his fault -- but nonetheless the Democrats have blown it again. Not long ago I was thinking that a Democratic majority in Congress wouldn't be so bad; but the sexual McCarthyism from the pro-outing crowd, coupled with the Dems' steadfast refusal to offer anything useful on national security, has convinced me that they just don't deserve a victory with those tactics. That's not Ford's fault, either, really. But I just don't think the Democrats are ready for a majority right now. We'll see how many other voters agree.
One vote will not keep Bill First’s seat Red (though a campaign bus trip through Iowa...never mind). But had the Perfesser gone with Ford, I would say the non-partisan GOP vote was lost.
Glenn pulls it as I would have in the end. I think highly of Ford and would like a potentially serious Democrat in the Senate but with the race this tight, a D vote is a vote to hand gavels to Reid, Dodd, Kennedy, Leahy & company.
GOP holds the Senate, providing containment fort House lunacy. President Bush "finds his Grover Cleveland hat" as Larry Kudlow says and starts vetoing bills like President Ford. Divided government stagnates. The market is happy. Life is pretty good. Just hope they don't force an ignominious withdrawal in the War on Terror.
UPDATE: The second I posted, I got Republican Spam from Patrick Ruffini, who underscored "Glenn Reynolds, a swing voter in this race" voting Corker. He also highlights a video of a campaign stunt that many are making a big deal of. Ford crashes a Corker rally and behaves non-senatorially, but I don't see this as a campaign ender.
There’s a new book on Ronald Reagan making the rounds, The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism. Its author, Paul Kengor, unearthed a sensational document from the Soviet archives. That document is a memo regarding an offer made by Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts via former Senator John Tunney, both Democrats, to the General Secretary of the Communist Party, USSR, Yuri Andropov, in 1983. The offer was to help the Soviet leadership, military and civilian, conduct a PR campaign in the United States as President Ronald Reagan sought re-election. The goal of the PR campaign would be to cast President Reagan as a warmonger, the Soviets as willing to peacefully co-exist, and thereby turn the electorate away from Reagan. It was a plan to enlist Soviet help, and use the American press, in unseating an American president.
Think about that.
I can't believe Karl Rove put a sitting Senator up to something like that.
They say that if you tell a lie big enough, anyone will believe it.
Charging the elder statesman of the Democrat Party with treason right before an election?
A University of Washington economic geologist says there is lots of crude oil left for human use.
Eric Cheney said Friday in a news release that changing economics, technological advances and efforts such as recycling and substitution make the world's mineral resources virtually infinite.
For instance, oil deposits unreachable 40 years ago can be tapped using improved technology, and oil once too costly to extract from tar sands, organic matter or coal is now worth manufacturing. Though some resources might be costlier now, they still are needed.
"The most common question I get is, 'When are we going to run out of oil?' The correct response is, 'Never,'" said Cheney. "It might be a heck of a lot more expensive than it is now, but there will always be some oil available at a price, perhaps $10 to $100 a gallon."
Any economist would have told you that.
We're not going to leave the oil age for lack of oil. It's going to because something new (and cheaper) showed up.
Without any sense of introspection (or perhaps a mirror), here's the "analysis."
Schumer and Rahm may be overbearing asses, but man are they bringing in the dough. Compare that to Liddy Dole's pathetic NRSC. Man, we lucked out on that front. It doesn't look like they could've chosen a worse leader.
It is true that Schumer has outraised Liddy Dole two to one. But Ken Mehlman has outraised "the pride of the netroots" Howard Dean three to one. I suppose that's worse than pathetic.
As it looks, It's possible to choose a worse leader. It's just that the Democrats did it.
And of course the Republicans are up $11 million on the totals.
Friend of ThreeSources, Perry Eidelbus, is now writing a newsletter for Intrade, "the Trading Exchange for Prediction Markets." His Political Market Wrap is posted for Oct 18.
In it, he gives a thorough review of market-based prediction in the political arena.
On August 2nd, it was reported that Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) said he would retire if Democrats failed to retake the House of Representatives. After the House.GOP.2006 contract's movement in the last three weeks, it would appear Rangel need not worry about keeping that promise. The contract, whose prices (as set purely by traders, so all odds are purely market-driven) reflect the percentage probability that Republicans would keep control of the House, had already fallen to the high 40s by August. It wavered afterward and by September's end had its last peak in the high 50s, but it has since experienced a free-fall to the low 30s.
Holman Jenkins tells the dutiful subscribers of WSJ OpinionJournal Political Diary (worth a subscription) that what the GOP needs is "A few More Harry Rieds"
This may be shaping up to be the Democrats' year, but it's not Harry Reid's year. During one of many low points in GOP fortunes this summer, Nevada Senate candidate Jack Carter, son of former President Jimmy and a Reid endorsee, seemed to be gaining ground after a successful stump through the rural parts of the state. Then colitis struck and he was laid up for two weeks. Now incumbent GOP Senator John Ensign, a strong supporter of the Iraq war, tax cuts and other Bush iniquities, is leading by 20 points. The bigger suspense now concerns whether the GOP Senate majority will survive -- in which case Mr. Ensign is expected to collect a prized seat on the Finance Committee, his reward for agreeing to become the next chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
Other Nevada races that Democrats considered pivotal are looking less and less winnable. Senate Minority Leader Reid took a close interest in former aide Tessa Hafen's campaign to unseat GOP Rep. Jon Porter. Now polls show Mr. Porter up by 10 points and his latest campaign filings send a warning signal to national Democrats who might have hoped to move the needle with a late ad deluge: Mr. Porter drained his bank account and has locked up $1.48 million worth of TV time before Election Day. Somewhat tighter is the rural race for an open House seat between Republican Dean Heller and Democrat Jill Derby, but Mr. Heller leads by several points. Mr. Reid insists his late-breaking ethics controversy, involving unreported proceeds from the sale of an unreported ownership of a Las Vegas land parcel, has had no effect on Ms. Hafen or other Democratic candidates. "Why would it?" he gamely rejoins. The mere fact that Nevada's Mr. Democrat has to answer the question shows how the story has thrown local Democrats off-message.
With the governor's race also going GOPer Jim Gibbons's way, no wonder Nevada Democrats are starting to focus instead on the 2008 sweepstakes now that Nevada's presidential caucus has been moved up to compete with Iowa and New Hampshire. The move was a big victory for Mr. Reid and Las Vegas labor and gambling interests, but the underlying theory -- that Nevada Democrats led by Mr. Reid know how to win in Red America -- is being cast into doubt.
Nevada is Exhibit A in Ryan Sager's thesis of a Rocky Mountain libertarian revolt from the GOP. Nevada has a huge population of California ex-Pats and independent conservatives who may be put off by evangelist influence in the GOP. That's presented in Sager's The Elephant in the Room and is true to an extent. I take him seriously but point out that the Californians there are running away from Golden State taxes and regulations.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Il expressed regret about his country's nuclear test to a Chinese delegation and said Pyongyang would return to international nuclear talks if Washington backs off a campaign to financially isolate the country, a South Korean newspaper reported Friday.
"If the U.S. makes a concession to some degree, we will also make a concession to some degree, whether it be bilateral talks or six-party talks," Kim was quoted as telling a Chinese envoy, the mass- circulation Chosun Ilbo reported, citing a diplomatic source in China.
Kim told the Chinese delegation that "he is sorry about the nuclear test," the newspaper reported.
Just a quick, gratuitous swipe at my blog brother, JohnGalt. Be careful predicting in a public forum.
On January 27, I started one of our famous internecine conflicts, defending Google. They had capitulated to Communist censorship in China, but I pointed out that they had a market capitalization to email home about.
Mine is still that this company is justifying a 50 multiple to its shareholders. If you pay $40,000 for 100 shared of GOOG, you are probably not too keen on their missing an in on the fastest growing market in the world.
On January 30, JohnGalt commented "'If you pay $40,000 for 100 shares of GOOG' you are a moron."
Google's profit nearly doubled and revenue soared 70% to $2.69 billion as the Internet giant continued to gain market share in online advertising. Excluding payments made to advertising partners, Google's revenue rose to $1.86 billion from $1.05 billion a year earlier. Google continued to expand at a frantic pace, hiring 1,436 people in the quarter, leaving it with 9,378 full-time employees.
Google's shares gained 6% to more than $450 after hours.
We can disagree on China and now add the PC policing of YouTube, but I have to point out that jg turned his nose up at a 16.7% annualized return.
Justice Clarence Thomas, writing for the Court (and joined by Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. and Justices Samuel Alito Jr., Anthony Kennedy and Antonin Scalia), concluded that the Kansas statute was not unconstitutional. In reaching this conclusion, Thomas repeatedly referred to the relevant law as Kansas' statute.
In response, Justice David Souter wrote a dissent that was joined by Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and John Paul Stevens. The dissent revealed Souter's bitter disagreement with both the substantive conclusion of the majority and the grammatical philosophy of the opinion's author. Whereas Thomas apparently believes that whenever a singular noun ends in "s," an additional "s" should never be placed after the apostrophe, Souter has made equally clear his conviction that an "s" should always be added after the apostrophe when forming a singular possessive, regardless of whether the nonpossessive form already ends in "s."
I'm a Stunk & White guy (hence, cannot jump) and the first rule as I recall was to always add apostrophe-s except for Moses' and Jesus’' (a computer trade magazine suggested adding Gates')
Hat-tip: Taranto, who adds more complexity from the WSJ style guide.
Fred Barnes called Colorado "a Republican Nightmare" at the close of "Beltway Boys" on FOXNews several weeks ago. The normally Red state lost both state houses to Ds in 2004 and is poised to lose at least one house seat and a Governorship in 2006.
Brendan Minter at OpinionJournal Political Diary may have the coffin nail:
Trailing far behind in the polls, Colorado Republican Bob Beauprez was almost certainly not going to win the governor's mansion on Nov. 7. Now, after launching an attack ad earlier this week against his opponent, Democrat Bill Ritter, Mr. Beauprez may have no political future at all.
The ad lights into Mr. Ritter, a former Denver district attorney, for cutting a plea bargain with an illegal alien in 2001 who was arrested for allegedly trafficking in heroin. By avoiding jail time, the illegal alien was also able to avoid deportation and was reportedly later arrested in California on suspicion of molesting a minor.
The problem for Mr. Beauprez is that the information contained in the ad is not publicly available and the Ritter campaign has called for a federal investigation to determine if it was illegally obtained from the National Crime Information Center, a federal database available only to law enforcement officials. The FBI announced on Tuesday that it will look into the matter.
The only hope Republicans have of resolving the scandal quickly is for the Beauprez campaign to release its source. But so far it has refused. Campaign spokesman John Marshall told the Associated Press that the FBI's investigation "doesn't change anything for us. We're going to cooperate with whomever we need to cooperate with." Meanwhile, Mr. Beauprez is sticking to the facts outlined in the ad: "I think, in fact I know, that the information we've got is absolutely, indisputably true." Unfortunately, that may now be beside the point.
Sting said contemporary rock music is so stagnant that he prefers to sing 16th century English ballads.
The former teacher who shot to fame as lead singer, bassist and composer in the 1970s and 80s for The Police told German newspaper Die Zeit that he prefers singing songs of Elizabethan lutenist and composer John Dowland to the rock music of today.
His album of Dowland lute music "Songs from the Labyrinth" has topped classical charts on both sides of the Atlantic and entered the UK album chart at No. 24.
"Rock music has come to a standstill -- it's not going forward any more, it only bores me," Die Zeit quoted Sting as saying.
The battle for cheesesteak supremacy -- usually fought with beef, onions and cheese -- has moved out of the kitchen and into the courthouse.
Pat's King of Steaks, a South Philadelphia institution since the 1930s, is suing Rick's Steaks for trademark infringement.
The two eateries involved, located less than two miles apart, each are owned by a grandson of Pat Olivieri, purported inventor of Philly's favorite sandwich.
Scott Pollack, the lawyer for Pat's, said Wednesday that the businesses are not connected in any way -- even if the owners are. Pat's owner Frank Olivieri never gave permission for cousin Rick Olivieri to use the trademarks in his advertising and signage, Pollack said.
''Obviously, Pat's Steaks is very, very famous. It's known all over the country and the world,'' said Pollack.
The lawsuit filed Monday by Pat's claims that Rick's has been illegally trading on Pat's name, its crown logo and trademarked phrases, including ''Pat's King of Steaks Originators of the Steak Sandwich.'' It seeks unspecified damages and an order preventing Rick's from using the material.
If President Bush continues to ask North Korea to "kneel," war "will be inevitable," and it would begin on the Korean Peninsula, North Korean Gen. Ri Chan Bok told "Good Morning America" anchor Diane Sawyer, in an exclusive interview inside North Korea.
If only we had a topical quotation from Hugo Chavez, Robert Mugabe or Fidel Castro, then we'd have a crazy trifecta.
A general who impliments policies of a government who's crazy to respect a religion that can't respect itself, or it's gays, or it's women, or religious minorities, or... or... or... ad nauseum.
The U.S. military spokesman says there has been a 22 percent jump in attacks during Ramadan and the drive to secure Baghdad has "not met our overall expectations."
The spike in violence during the Islamic holy month of fasting was "disheartening" and the Americans were working with Iraqi authorities to "refocus" security measures, Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell said.
Note 1: Out of respect, weren't we supposed to scale back our military activities around Islamic holy days? I'm glad the other side got the message. As a reward, we should treat their prisoners nicely. Maybe they'll stop the beheadings.
Officials at an elementary school south of Boston have banned kids from playing tag, touch football and any other unsupervised chase game during recess for fear they'll get hurt and hold the school liable.
Recess is "a time when accidents can happen," said Willett Elementary School Principal Gaylene Heppe, who approved the ban.
While there is no districtwide ban on contact sports during recess, local rules have been cropping up. Several school administrators around Attleboro, a city of about 45,000 residents, took aim at dodgeball a few years ago, saying it was exclusionary and dangerous.
In 1985, in third grade, I had the stereotypical hippie teacher. This guy voted for Mondale, Carter twice as well as McGovern. We had a fight club, before fight clubs were cool.
Everyday, we'd be out there beating on each other. Eventually the older kids started showing up. Our hippie teacher knew we had a fight club. I remember him telling another teacher, "those boys go out there an roughhouse!" but we were never "shutdown."
We even had a firepole on the playground. More than one kid broke their arm. I'm sure it's gone now.
How times have changed.
I say to Gaylene Heppe, driving is when accidents happen too. Are you walking to school?
The top U.S. diplomat said she reaffirmed President Bush's pledge, made hours after North Korea's Oct. 9 underground test blast, "that the United States has the will and the capability to meet the full range — and I underscore the full range — of its deterrent and security commitments to Japan."
Arizona Sen. John McCain, a likely Republican presidential contender in 2008, joked on Wednesday he would "commit suicide" if Democrats win the Senate in November.
McCain, on a visit to Iowa to campaign for Republican congressional candidates, was asked his reaction to a potential Democratic takeover of the Senate in the November 7 elections.
"I think I'd just commit suicide," McCain told reporters, to accompanying laughter from Republicans standing with him. "I don't want to face that eventuality because I don't think it's going to happen."
It's not just me. In a previous life I was a VP (that stands for Boss's kid) of an advertising agency. I won't say that makes me an intelligent critic of advertising but it did teach me to look past entertainment value and try to judge its efficacy.
The Chevy Silverado ad with John Mellencamp makes me stop to watch it every time -- just to see if it's really that bad.
Seth Stevenson thinks it is. Writing for Slate Magazine, he gives it a "D" (I'd've gone for D+).
This ad makes me—and, judging by my e-mail, some of you—very angry. It's not OK to use images of Rosa Parks, MLK, the Vietnam War, the Katrina disaster, and 9/11 to sell pickup trucks. It's wrong. These images demand a little reverence and quiet contemplation. They are not meant to be backed with a crappy music track and then mushed together in a glib swirl of emotion tied to a product launch. Please, Chevy, have a modicum of shame next time.
I should probably leave it at that (the poor ad is just trying to sell trucks, after all, in its own muddle-headed way). But this isn't your basic flag-waving car commercial. It mixes patriotic images with some heart-rending, shameful episodes from our past. And the ambiguity is furthered by the presence of John Mellencamp—a guy who, in a different incarnation, used to make semipolitical statements about the dark side of the American dream. A guy who wrote an open letter in 2003 arguing that the Iraq war was "solidifying our image as the globe's leading bully" and wondering why President Bush hadn't been "recalled" yet. Mellencamp once sang the line, "Ain't that America" with a decidedly bitter tinge. Now he sings the remarkably similar line, "This is our country," and it's hard not to wonder what he means by it.
Stevenson goes on to compare it to President Carter's Malaise speech and ends with this:
Automotive blog Jalopnik reports that an early version of the ad included footage of a nuclear mushroom cloud. Well, that would have brightened things up. I wonder if they could squeeze in the Rodney King beating and the Abu Ghraib photos, too.
Edgy. I give them the D+ for edgy. This could be a series, next the Dixie Chicks then Neil Young.
Economic Deity Larry Kudlow presents a series of graphs that show the effect of the Bush tax cuts on jobs, employment, net household worth, and GDP that have to be seen to be believed.
Under the 'graph:
“None of these tax cuts is affordable. None of them creates jobs, and they are not fair. All of them do damage to our long-term economic growth and contribute to the national deficit.” -House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA); May 09, 2003
Name a song that has been recorded by all the following: the Beach Boys; Conway Twitty; the Sex Pistols; Tom Jones; Bill Haley; AC/DC; John Denver; Jerry Lee Lewis; Elton John. No, it wasn't "White Christmas." Or "Stardust."
Also Chubby Checker and Elvis and Jimi Hendrix and the Dead.
Give up? "Johnny B. Goode." The presumed model for the title character, the pianist Johnnie Johnson, died last year at the age of 80. And now the composer of the song has hit that mark. Charles Edward Anderson "Chuck" Berry is 80 today.
Sugarchuck and I have played that tune once. Or Twice. Hail, hail.
Our true choice is not between tax reduction, on the one hand, and the avoidance of large federal deficits on the other...[A]n economy hampered by restrictive tax rates will never produce enough jobs or enough profits...It is a paradoxical truth that tax rates are too high today and tax revenues are too low, and the soundest way to raise revenues in the long run is to cut rates now."
That apostate of liberalism slept with Marilyn Monroe.
I have been commenting at Samizdata, Eidelblog, and Everyday Economist that voting and voting GOP is worthwhile in spite of disappointments. I believe it and will certainly follow through. Many bloggers and emailers have asked whether they "deserve" it.
John Fund, in the WSJ Political Diary today, collates a long list for the opposition in the well named "GOP Sharpshooters Are Running Out of Toes"
One reason even Vice President Dick Cheney will only say Republicans have "a good shot" at holding control of the House next month is that the GOP finds itself defending a growing number of seats with incumbents in ethical controversies. A loss of 15 seats means Democrats take control, and in at least seven districts Democrats have a shot at winning largely because of the missteps of the GOP majority.
The latest addition is Pennsylvania's Curt Weldon. FBI agents raided the home of his daughter and her business partner this week as part of a probe into the GOP lawmaker's shadowy dealings with her lobbying firm and a Russian business tycoon. Mr. Weldon, who already faced a stiff challenge from Democrat Joe Sestak, will now be "off message" for the last few weeks of the campaign as he is peppered by questions about his integrity.
In the district of fellow Pennsylvania solon Don Sherwood, Republicans are facing an uphill climb due to Mr. Sherwood's excess baggage, including an affair with a woman who claimed he assaulted her. An independent poll last month shows Democrat Chris Carney with a nine-point lead over the incumbent.
In the West Palm Beach district where Republican state Rep. Joe Negron is running to replace disgraced Florida incumbent Mark Foley, the GOP has an outstanding candidate. The obstacle is that voters must vote for Mr. Foley, whose name will still appear on the ballot, if they want their vote to count for Mr. Negron. The race is uphill and Democrats are favored in a district President Bush carried with 54% in 2004.
Rep. Bob Ney is leaving Congress after pleading guilty to corruption charges, and Republicans were able to replace him with Rep. Joy Padgett before the deadline for reprinting the ballots. But Ms. Padgett got a late start and currently trails Democrats Zack Space by seven points.
Texas courts ruled that Republicans could not replace Rep. Tom DeLay with another candidate although a judge did allow the former House Majority Leader to take his name off the ballot. Republican Shelley Sekula-Gibbs must now mount an awkward write-in campaign against Democrat Nick Lampson, who is well-funded and a former congressman from the area with high name recognition. No one should count out Ms. Sekula-Gibbs in a district that voted 65% for Mr. Bush, but she has to be considered the underdog.
California Rep. John Doolittle would normally be entrenched in his suburban Sacramento district, one of the most Republican in the state. But last week his lawyer admitted he is talking with the FBI about Mr. Doolittle's contacts with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Democrat Charlie Brown, a former Air Force officer, is pounding away on the theme that Mr. Doolittle has "gone native" in Washington.
Finally, Rep. Tom Reynolds of New York, the chairman of the Republican House campaign committee, is now trailing Democrat Jack Davis after the news broke that Mr. Reynolds had asked Mark Foley to run for re-election this year even after he was apprised of reports that Mr. Foley had questionable dealings with former House pages.
If Republicans do lose the House it will be because they will have lost safe seats they otherwise should have won were it not for scandal-related wounds.
Brother AlexC posted a fascinating comparison of EU taxes which asserted that the high marginal tax rates suppressed growth.
Today, Holman Jenkins at the WSJEdPage looks at Airbus, noting that all of those subsidies are killing the company's long term competitive outlook rather than helping it.
Aerospace codgers must be having a Rip Van Winkle moment. There was a time when Europe's supersonic Concorde was ringing up orders and seemed destined to be the future of commercial aviation. Then costs ballooned and the economics dropped out of the project. Only 14 planes were put into service with the national airlines of Britain and France, a face-saving gesture subsidized by taxpayers.
Nothing quite so ignominious will likely be the fate of the giant Airbus 380, although it's interesting to note that 15 just happens to be the number of assembled, flightworthy planes stranded amid the current production shutdown. But one thing is certain: Any hope that Airbus would become more like a real company, and less like a make-work-cum-technological ego trip for European governments, just went out the window.
Russia and Spain are prepared to double down on the bad decisions to attract more influence and all these great government jobs. More cash in will allow Airbus to continue making planes that don't fit the trends or business models of its customers.
The A380 will fly in respectable numbers even if it never makes money. European taxpayers will see to that. The hastily redrawn A350 will sprout wings too, even if it's years late against the 787 and never recovers its costs. Ironically, the Airbus meltdown may one day be seen as the decisive ending of the flagging era of privatization. Its deficiencies notwithstanding, Airbus is admired by some Democrats as a template for future U.S. government enterprises to pursue carbon control and "energy independence."
Imagine if we let Sens. Levin and Lott design American aircraft. Does anybody believe that Europe's politicos are significantly better?
Last year I partnered my company with the Whitpain Township Firefighter's Association as well as the Police Association to organize and host the 1st Annual John Kulick Memorial Golf Outing. Some background on the event, John was killed in Iraq last year and left behind a nine-year-old daughter.
As the father of a soon to be ten year old, and as a first responder, and retired US Army Officer I take my responsibilities in association with John's event very seriously.
I am writing this blog to make you aware of the response we received from Candidate for Congress Lois Murphy's office today when we called to follow up on the mailing we sent her campaign office two weeks ago.
As this is an election year I thought it might be a good idea to contact local candidates and office holders to gain their support of the event. When I approached [State] Senator Rob Wonderling he could not get his checkbook out soon enough to sponsor a hole. When you factor in that most of the people attending our event do not live in his district you start to get the feeling that Senator Wonderling actually acted out of respect for John and other First Responders.
Ms. Murphy is another story. Her representative's exact response was that they WERE NOT INTERESTED in supporting an event held to raise money for the children of deceased First Responders. Ms. Murphy is running for Congress on the Democratic ticket and could actually end up representing some of those reading this.
But Murphy, through a spokeswoman, said Gerlach could have done more to support emergency services in the district.
"Throughout his two decades as a career politician, Jim Gerlach has failed to support first responders and has voted twice (while in the state Senate) against providing $5 million for volunteer firefighters in Pennsylvania," said Amy Bonitatibus, communications director for the Murphy campaign.
In Congress, Murphy will fight to ensure that first responders have the resources they need to do their jobs, she said.
"Pennsylvania's first responders deserve more than a part-time supporter in Congress," Bonitatibus said.
An update on my Lois Murphy Blog. Earlier this morning a check arrived for a hole sponsorship from Representative Jim Gerlach's office. This was as a result of the same mailing that Ms. Murphy's office rejected. Please note that his office and representatives have nothing to do with my blogs or e-mails on this subject. His office donated money based on their own decision making process, which I applaud.
While the rest of the world is booming, Europe lags behind. France, Germany and Italy are stagnating, and so do Denmark, Sweden and Finland. All gained less than 44% prosperity from 1984 to 2004.
" Big government " is the main cause of Europe's weak performance. The oversized Public Sector lacks productivity and the growing bureaucracy is undoing the productivity gains of the Private Sector, eradicating all of its outstanding performance and productiveness. The Irish economy grew 4 times faster, gaining 169% wealth over the same 20 year period. In barely half a generation Ireland metamorphosed into Europe's second richest country meanwhile creating jobs for all.
Europe could improve its overall performance by copying the Irish success formulas: Scaling down Public Spending, downsizing bureaucracy, and shifting the tax burden from income on consumption
When liberals says "we should be more like ________ (insert random old-Europe country)", I'd say let's be more like Ireland.
MSNBC looks at Maryland Lt Gov Michael Steele's prospects against Congressman Ben Cardin.
Black voters account for about one quarter of the state’s electorate; President Bush carried only about 10 percent of them in 2004, according to exit poll interviews.
If Steele can win 25 percent of black voters, he could pull off an upset. But that Republican hope hangs on two slender threads: one, the possibility that Steele can equal or exceed Bush’s performance among white voters in Maryland (Bush won 55 percent of them, if exit poll estimates were correct), and two, that a chunk of anti-war and independent voters choose Zeese, instead of Cardin.
They also write about Ben Cardin.
Cardin, a dry and detailed-oriented career legislator, was upstaged at his Upper Marlboro event Sunday by the irrepressible Rep. Steny Hoyer, who did a comedy routine about the event’s host, Cool Wave Water, and told the audience that Steele had had “a career of slavishly supporting the Republican Party.”
Nobody worry. Steny Hoyer's a Democrat.
While Democrats are not immune to getting Foot-in-mouth disease, the aftereffects are quite often negligable.
amid fears that two congressional debates last year had muddied Alaska's image: Whether federal earmarks should go to build two "bridges to nowhere" and the failed effort to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling.
So who better to commission it than the government of Alaska. Specifically the Governor. Former Senator Murkowski is a guy who knows how to spends taxpayers money.
It's not all a waste, however. We did find out out that there are some really dumb people in this country.
he first words that come to mind when asked about Alaska tend to be "cold, "snow" and "ice," according to the poll results. Five percent of Alaska is covered by glaciers, ice and snow, but 60 percent of those polled guessed that half to nearly all of the state is a frozen wasteland all year.
Alaska became a state in 1959, but 5 percent of those polled believe it is still a territory. Four percent said Alaska is a separate country, and 2 percent said it is a commonwealth. One in every hundred said they did not know what Alaska's status is.
What does that last graf tell me? 13% of Americans are idiots. At least.
In my other life, as a Romanian intelligence general, I was at the beck and call of another 5’4” dictator involved in building nuclear weapons in a defiant bid for survival and respect, and nothing short of death was able to deter him from achieving that goal. Not even the defection of his top nuclear-weapon adviser — myself.
Eleven years later, in 1989, Ceausescu was executed for genocide, and Romania’s new government reported to the International Atomic Energy Agency that it had discovered plutonium separated in a Triga nuclear reactor. The amount of plutonium found at that time was small, but the act was a clear violation of Romania’s commitments made under the Non-Proliferation Treaty. According to a Canadian study, “a more extensive nuclear weapons program may have been covered up.”
The west never stood a chance of stopping Kim Jong Ill.
The Dow industrials fell nearly 100 points Tuesday after a surprise jump in core wholesale prices. Intel fell after Goldman Sachs downgraded the company ahead of its earnings release after the close. 11:29 a.m
That's a headline you don't see every day. But WSJ's Kimberly Strassel provides a piece with 50% good news. She contrasts Republican fortunes in Ohio, where Ken Blackwell trails by double digits with Florida, where Christ leads by double digits.
Beyond the fortuitous name, Christ is running in a state where the GOP has kept to its principles. Unlike post-Taft mediocrity and middle of the road meddling in the Buckeye State:
But now look to Florida. Jeb Bush came to office in 1999 touting a sweeping reform agenda of the sort that gives Ms. Pelosi the "extremist" fits. More to the point, the governor, with the support of a Republican legislature, has instituted most of it.
Florida Republicans have passed tax cuts every year of the eight Mr. Bush has held office--a whopping $19 billion, including the elimination of the infamous "intangibles" tax, levied on investments. While Florida's budget has grown at a rapid clip, Mr. Bush vetoed more than $2.1 billion in wasteful spending, earning him the nickname "Veto Corleone" among frustrated state lobbyists. He's trimmed 11,000 state jobs.
Tort reform? Did it. Overhauling the child welfare system? Done. Florida has led the way in greater education accountability and school voucher programs; test scores, especially among minorities, are on the rise. The state won federal permission for the most dramatic Medicaid reforms in the country, the first to inject private competition into the system.
Florida today has the highest rate of job creation in the country, and an unemployment rate of 3.3%. It's bond rating hit triple A. Revenue is pumping into the state coffers, giving Florida $6.4 billion in reserves. Gov. Bush's approval rating stands at 55%. Even the House Democratic leader, Dan Gelber, admitted his chief nemesis was a "rock star."
his administration's insistence on a "go-it-alone, stay-the-course" policy in the face of objections from a majority of Americans and Iraqis and most world public opinion, and in the face of a deteriorating situation, defies logic.
The United States is about to begin its fifth year of occupation and fighting in Iraq. That makes this war longer than U.S. participation in World Wars I and II, and longer than the Korean War and our own Civil War. With every year of occupation, our efforts to fight global terrorism and our military's readiness to fight future wars have further deteriorated, along with our standing in the world. Meanwhile, the radical Islamic cause wins more and more recruits.
Rice compared the vision of Palestinian statehood to that of American independence and the civil rights battles in one of the strongest endorsements from the Bush administration to the idea of an independent Palestinian state.
"I should never have grown up in segregated Birmingham, Alabama to become the secretary of state of the United States of America," Rice said, adding that eventually, once these visions do come true, "we wonder why did anyone ever doubt that it was possible."
Remind me again of who plays the role of George Washington, Patrick Henry, Martin Luther King? I guess the by any means necessary Malcolm X strategy is evident. Benedict Arnold?
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Red wine might work to protect the brain from damage after a stroke and drinking a couple of glasses a day might provide that protection ahead of time, U.S. researchers reported on Sunday.
Sunday! Why release this report when all the liquor stores are closed?
My wife, who suffered a stroke a year ago last March found this study. Who am I to argue with science?
In an effort to better understand how red wine works, the scientists from Johns Hopkins University fed mice a moderate dose of a compound found in red grape skins and seeds before inducing stroke-like damage.
They discovered that the animals suffered less brain damage than similarly damaged mice who were not treated with the compound, which is called resveratrol.
"When we pre-treat the animals with the compound orally, then we observe that we have a significant decrease in the area of stroke damage by about 40 percent," said Sylvain Dore, the lead researcher for the study.
Dore and his research team presented their results from the study, which was funded in part by the U.S. government, at a Society for Neuroscience conference in Atlanta.
There have been quite a few positive stories of late about the proverbial two glasses of red. I like bold, earthy, South African Shirazes and two glasses is enough to make me walk worse than I do without.
RedState provides a list of the provisions of the United Nation's North Korea Resolution.
Demands North Korea eliminate all its nuclear weapons, weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles.
Requires all countries to prevent the sale or transfer of materials related to Pyongyang's unconventional weapons programs, as well as large-sized military items such as tanks, missiles and helicopters.
Demands nations freeze funds overseas of people or businesses connected with North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
Allows nations to inspect cargo moving in and out of North Korea in pursuit of non-conventional weapons.
Calls on Pyongyang to return "without precondition" to stalled six-nation talks on its nuclear program.
Is not backed up by the threat of military force.
I'm not war mongering by any means, but that last item there pretty much guarantees that this will fail.
Morrison has produced credible albums in Rock, Blues, and Jazz genres. Pay the Devil has the Irish soulster performing classic American country music and some originals that sound entirely appropriate between Hank Williams and Clarence Williams.
You can count the guys who can really play in all these genres on one hand -- if you're Django Reinhardt! (Ray Charles, and Morrison as I see it).
Five stars! If you don't like country, buy it anyway, this might reel you in.
UPDATE: Long-tail alert: this CD was an "Amazon Recommends," it's not likely that jazz boy would have tripped over it otherwise.
UUPDATE II: Sugarchuck suggests a few additional members to my pantheon. Norah Jones is an omission. Norah, Ray, and Van. Folks who are not country fans should have two: Play the Devil and Norah Jones in The Little Willies. We're still arguing about the other ones. He suggests Cassandra Wilson and the preternaturally talented regional hit, Mollie O'Brien. I thought of Roy Clark and Gatemouth Brown but I am feeling discriminating.
I wanted to post this all day, I really have nothing to add, I just encourage "all my readers" (have you seen the Sonic commercial?) to read the conversation at TCS today.
Geoffrey R. Stone, a law professor at the University of Chicago, penned a Chicago Trib Editorial "What it means to be a liberal" I find several flaws in Stone's ten points, but I applaud him for doing what I can never seem to get my liberal friends to do. He enumerates his liberal beliefs.
I would love to take him up on the debate and respond, but two authors at TCS have done it so superbly, I will just link.
Arnold Kling provides a thoughtful libertarian response that is sound and respectful. He is more respectful than I to the "liberals are open-minded" assertion, but the Stone piece deserves respect.
The White Sox will start weeknight home games at 7:11 p.m. as part of a sponsorship deal with the 7-Eleven convenience store chain.
I know this stuff drives people crazy (my guess is that Josh is pretty tongue-in-cheek here) but I am nonplussed. If my beloved Rockies could get a new revenue source (to spend on relief pitching) or could lower ticket prices, why not?
Now that I have said not-unkind things about the FDA, the WSJ Ed Page points out that it could get a lot worse under a Democratic Congress. Democrats, for some reason I don't completely grasp, like to "FIGHT!" the pharmaceutical companies that are trying to improve our lives. It seems the evil drug firms want to make money or pay bills or return capital to shareholders or something unseemly like that. I won't know until the big Michael Moore documentary comes out.
The WSJEdPage reports that a 1992 law that allowed companies to pay the FDA for faster reviews will itself be reviewed, sadly by a Congress that may want to prove how tough it is on Big Pharma.
So allow us to draw attention to an important and undernoticed study, "Assessing the Safety and Efficacy of the FDA," published by the National Bureau of Economic Research. Its surprising conclusion is that the FDA does a pretty good job managing "the central speed-safety trade-off" involved in drug approvals -- and might even do well to move faster.
The authors looked at 662 drugs approved between 1979 and 2002, a period that included the passage of the Prescription Drug User Fee Act that allowed drug companies to help fund the FDA budget in exchange for faster reviews. They found that the resulting modest gains in drug review times have produced unambiguous public benefits.
Not that Democrats are needed to make things worse. If Senators Grassley and Dodd are teaming up, you can bet it ain't gwine be pretty. Even a competing and unflattering study thinks they go too far.
We've looked at the IOM report in detail, and it's hardly as damning of the FDA as media reports suggest. For example, the report explicitly rejects the idea that high-profile drug withdrawals -- such as Vioxx -- "represent de facto failures of the drug safety regulatory system. . . This is not so." The IOM also rejects the basic idea behind legislation sponsored by Senators Chuck Grassley and Chris Dodd that the FDA should have a drug safety office separate from the office that approves drugs in the first place: "Risk and benefit cannot be considered in isolation from one another."
Amen. The FDA sees too much risk and not enough benefit.
Radical Muslims in France's housing estates are waging an undeclared "intifada," or uprising, against the police, with violent clashes injuring about 14 officers each day.
As the Interior Ministry announced that nearly 2,500 officers had been wounded this year, a police union declared that its members were "in a state of civil war" with Muslims in the most depressed "banlieue" estates. Banlieue, which means outskirts, is the commonly used euphemism for the low-income housing projects heavily populated by unemployed youths of North African origin.
The police union said it had asked the government to provide police with armored cars to protect officers in the estates, which it said were becoming no-go zones.
The number of attacks has risen by a third in two years. Police representatives told the newspaper Le Figaro that the "taboo" of attacking officers on patrol has been broken.
Instead, officers -- especially those patrolling in pairs or small groups -- are facing attacks when they try to arrest locals.
John Fund in OpinionJournal's Political Diary reports that a Democratic, CREW operative has come clean on the timing of the Foley Scandal:
Politics is all about timing. Apparently, the liberals behind Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), the group that received information about Mark Foley's sexual instant messages as far back as April, originally planned to unleash its blockbuster a bit later in the 2008 election cycle. The American Spectator reports that a political consultant with ties to the Democratic National Committee told the magazine: "I'm hearing the Foley story wasn't supposed to drop until about ten days out of the election. It was supposed to be the coup de grace, not the first shot."
But as another Democratic operative told the magazine, the political climate at the end of September was suddenly turning ominous. "Bush's national security speeches were getting traction beyond the base, gas prices were dropping, economic outlook surveys were positive. Republicans were back to [holding enough House] seats for a 15-seat majority. In the Senate, it looked like a wash." All that may have played a role in prompting Democratic partisans to speed up the use of opposition research on Mr. Foley that had been put aside for later in the campaign. "Republicans had to have known we'd be looking to change the national debate," says a House Democrat leadership aide.
The practical effect of the Foley revelations is that it helps yank away two traditional GOP advantages: integrity and competence. After Hurricane Katrina and Iraq, the Foley missteps make the GOP look hapless and hopeless in the eyes of many voters. "The Republicans were hoping to make up a point or two in the generic ballot for Congress every week until Election Day," says Tony Blankley, editorial page editor of the Washington Times. "But now the Foley issue has stalled that momentum and they can't get their message out in the earned media. Paid advertising can help, but if it doesn't resonate with the rest of what the media is talking about, it can only do so much."
All of this explains why some Republicans are desperately hoping there will be ways to change the subject. North Korea's explosion of a claimed nuclear device isn't exactly the kind of news they were looking for, but GOP consultants say it has at least given them a breathing space from the drumbeat of Foley-related revelations.
Surely, they did not leave "the Children" in the employ of a known pederast while they sought the most propitious political timing. Because this is not about politics, it's about protecting the children.
There was Streisand, enduring a smattering of very loud jeers as she and "George Bush" _ a celebrity impersonator _ muddled through a skit that portrayed the president as a bumbling idiot.
Though most of the crowd offered polite applause during the slightly humorous routine, it got a bit too long, especially for a few in the audience who just wanted to hear Streisand sing like she had been doing for the past hour.
"Come on, be polite!" the well-known liberal implored during the sketch as she and "Bush" exchanged zingers. But one heckler wouldn't let up. And finally, Streisand let him have it.
"Shut the (expletive) up!" Streisand bellowed, drawing wild applause. "Shut up if you can't take a joke!"
With that one F-word, the jeers ended. And the message was delivered _ no one gets away with trying to upstage Barbra Streisand, especially not in her hometown.
Once the outburst (which Streisand later apologized for) was over, Streisand noted that "the artist's role is to disturb," and delivered a message of tolerance before launching into a serenely beautiful rendition of "Somewhere." That put the focus back on what the audience came for _ her voice, one of the greatest female instruments of her generation.
If her role is to disturb, I for one eagerly anticipate the skit featuring witty repartee with Mohammed.
The hyper-political Nobel prizes for Peace have damaged the brand in my eyes. Perhaps the problem is the nature of the award. PM Thatcher was watching a London "Peace Rally" with President Reagan. She -- it is said -- said "Who's peace, Poland's?"
The scientific awards seem less clouded by politics. And I was extremely pleased with this column from the winner of this year's economics prize.
Read the whole thing. It's long but you'll feel educated after completing it. Edmund Phelps chooses the dynamic capitalism as practiced in the US UK and Canada over the mixed model, corporatism popular in Western Europe.
In Alaska's native villages, the punishing winter cold is already penetrating the walls of the lightly insulated plywood homes, many of the villagers are desperately poor, and heating-oil prices are among the highest in the nation.
And yet a few of the small communities want to refuse free heating oil from Venezuela, on the patriotic principle that no foreigner has the right to call their president "the devil."
The heating oil is being offered by the petroleum company controlled by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, President Bush's nemesis. While scores of Alaska's Eskimo and Indian villages say they have no choice but to accept, others would rather suffer.
"As a citizen of this country, you can have your own opinion of our president and our country. But I don't want a foreigner coming in here and bashing us," said Justine Gunderson, administrator for the tribal council in the Aleut village of Nelson Lagoon. "Even though we're in economically dire straits, it was the right choice to make."
Finally, Andrew Sullivan, journalist/author/blogger and former editor of The New Republic, will join James Taranto, editor of the Wall Street Journal's OpinionJournal.com in tackling a number of political subjects.
Larry Kudlow has spent years explaining that the Labor Departments job statistics seriously undercount employment and that the household survey provides a more accurate picture of the new economy.
I listened because of my admiration for Mr. K, but also because I was an example. A few years ago, I left a firm that employed 200 and joined a start-up I then hired five developers from larger firms. In labor parlance, six jobs were "lost."
Once a year they catch up and revise the business survey to match the household survey. This year, they are calling it the oops report as they account for 810,000 missed jobs.
So instead of 5.8 million new jobs over the past three years, the U.S. economy has created 6.6 million. That's a lot more than a rounding error, more than the number of workers in the entire state of New Hampshire. What's going on here?
Exactly what Kudlow has been saying: self-employeds, start-ups and new economy jobs,.
Getting out of the statistical weeds, the news here is that the U.S. has a very tight labor market -- which is now translating into significant wage gains. Over the past 12 months wages have climbed by 4%, which is the biggest gain since 2001 and which economist Brian Wesbury points out is higher than the 3.3% average annual wage growth of the last 25 years.
Most of the media has ignored all this and instead focused on the disappointing 51,000 "new jobs" number from the establishment survey for September. But even in that survey, the jobs number for August was revised upward by 62,000 and the U.S. jobs machine continues to roll out an average of about 150,000 additional hires each month. Even the loss of residential construction jobs in September, due to the housing market slowdown, was nearly matched by payroll gains in commercial construction.
Fear not, gentle readers, enemies of job creation are in the ascendancy:
This boom in employment started in August of 2003, roughly coincident with the economy's growth acceleration in the wake of the Bush Administration's 2003 tax cuts on dividends, capital gains and in the top marginal income rate on the highest earners. Yet on the same day that the Labor Department discovered 810,000 new jobs, Nancy Pelosi promised that if she becomes Madam Speaker next year, within 100 hours of taking the gavel the House will vote to repeal those tax cuts and raise the minimum wage. Never underestimate the ways that Washington politicians can do economic harm.
I'm not a "typical right-wing pedophile apologist" excusing Foley. But, in case you haven't noticed, he's gone. He quit quicker than his instant message. And, true, he's since done the usual contemptible redemption shtick, announcing he's going into alcohol rehab, etc., when the reality is he'd be a better man if he drank more and IMed teens about the size of their wedding tackle less. And yes, he'll get a book deal, just like New Jersey's revolting ex-governor. But no one will buy the book -- and besides, what do you want? When a member of the House of Lords went abroad after a homosexual scandal, King George V is said to have remarked, "Good God, I thought fellows like that shot themselves." It may, indeed, be a less revolting spectacle for a chap to take a tumbler of whiskey and a loaded revolver into his study than to go on "Oprah" and bore on about his personal demons, abusive father, etc., etc. But we live in different times. Foley's history; he's the first footnote in history to a page in history. So the only question now is whether there is any larger issue here worth spending 10 minutes on.
North Korea said Monday it has performed its first-ever nuclear weapons test. The country's official Korean Central News Agency said the test was performed successfully and there was no radioactive leakage from the site.
"The nuclear test is a historic event that brought happiness to the our military and people," KCNA said.
Michael Steele, the Republican candidate for Senate in Maryland is not exactly a conservative's ideal candidate. But he is as an African-American running in a very blue Northeast state, his battle is uphill, so we can't expect our ideal in this race.
What would you call me?
An idiot at the least, perhaps ill-syntaxed.
No matter what, it really begs the question of what the ideal would be. A white guy?
At which point I'm a bigot, or really really really clumsy with English.
Harold Ford, Jr., the Democratic candidate for Senate in Tennessee is not exactly a progressive's ideal candidate. But he is as an African-American running in a very Red Southern state, his battle is uphill, so we can't expect our ideal in this race.
On the front page of DailyKos, it's ok. They're liberals.
Pennsylvania is trying to convince the nation's top financial services companies to establish backup operations in the state so that markets can recover quickly in the event of another terror strike on New York.
Gov. Ed Rendell has pledged more than $30 million to "Wall Street West," an initiative to build millions of square feet of office space, improve infrastructure and install hundreds of miles of fiber-optic cable in as many as nine Pennsylvania counties.
Executives from more than 20 leading Wall Street firms are scheduled to take a 30-minute helicopter ride from Manhattan to the Pocono Mountains on Tuesday to listen to the state's sales pitch, and there are indications that at least one company is about to pull the trigger.
"I think we're so close today that maybe the trigger is already pulled and the first shot is being fired," said state Rep. John Siptroth, D-Monroe, a prime backer of the Wall Street West concept.
Seriously now, is there a reason why the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania needs to be handing out money to Wall Street?
I'm not one for class warfare, but this is silly. Stocks are at record highs, and the Democrats (Governor Rendell, State Rep John Siptroth and Congressman Paul Kanjorski) want to buy some friends (or replay favors).
Pennsylvania should not be in the business of building real estate and providing internet utilities. If any brokerage or stock exchange feels that it would be in it's best interest to secure itself "offsite" so to speak, IT, not government, should do that.
Oh, and I'm sure we're footing the bill for the helicopter ride.
cosmic rays created by the explosions of distant stars play an important role in cloud formation in the earth’s lower atmosphere. Those clouds have a cooling effect on the planet. The sun’s magnetic field, however, interferes with this process to some degree, and that field has doubled for some reason in the 20th century.
I have been pretty hard on the FDA since I began blogging. I don't know all its responsibilities, but have always felt that the pharmaceutical approval process could best be replaced with private testing on the model of UL, CSA and DE.
A favorite cuz of mine works for the FDA. At his house last month, enjoying his hospitality and drinking a perfectly hopped porter he had made, I broached the topic gently. He appreciated my concerns but made the great point that our system with all its flaws is the best in the world. (Kind of sounded like me arguing against socialized medicine...)
Panama has pulled the blood pressure medication Lisinopril from its shelves after 19 mysterious deaths in 7,000 people taking it. When they saw problems, did they call Europe? Cuba?, Hugo Chavez?
Switching to the FDA: When this first started Panama turned to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta because they thought they had an unidentified virus or bacteria on their hands. Now that it's starting to look like a case of bad meds, they are starting to work more closely with the Food and Drug Administration from the United States. Government health officials have sent samples of tissues, blood, and other bodily fluids from the patients to the CDC labs in the United States for testing. The samples were flown back in a "special plane" that is designed for this task.
This brought me back to my post on the NYTimes article which explains that our health care expenditures benefit the whole world.
Sweeping the scientific Nobel prizes this year made WSJ Ed Page's Dan Henninger chant "U-S-A! U-S-A!" on the "Journal Editorial Report" on FOXNews. I think we can alternate between pride of accomplishment and despair at the number of free-riders.
Employers added just 51,000 jobs in September, the fewest in almost a year, while the unemployment rate dropped down to 4.6 percent - offering a mixed picture of the nation's jobs climate.
Still, the new figures released by the Labor Department on Friday provided fresh evidence that the economy has moved into a slower phase of growth.
The new tally of payroll jobs added to the economy fell short of the 120,000 positions analysts were expecting. However, job gains for both July and August turned out to be bigger than previously estimated, helping to take some of the sting out of September's tepid payroll figure.
The 51,000 jobs added in September were the fewest since October, when the economy was still reeling from the blows of the Gulf Coast hurricanes.
In a week marked by Philadelphia's 300th homicide of the year, Democratic mayoral candidate Michael Nutter said Mayor Street should declare a state of emergency in pockets of the city that have endured the worst violence.
Such action, according to the city code, would allow the government to clear people from public sidewalks, close bars, prohibit liquor sales, and establish curfews for children and adults alike.
Murders peaked at 503 in 1990, for a rate of 31.5 per 100,000, and they averaged around 400 a year for most of the nineties. In 2002 the murder count hit a low of 288, but by 2005 the annual total had surged to 380, for a rate of 25.85 per 100,000.
Michael Nutter came to the City Council in 1991, yet there were no calls for a "State of Emergency" until he decides to run for Mayor. It would be cynical to say that Michael Nutter didn't consider it "a problem" then, but it makes you wonder.
We spend so much on health care, yet don't outlive our socialist allies -- what gives?
I think it's a specious comparison. Not every dollar is spent to stave off the reaper, much is spent on quality of life. Plus there are innumerable other variables in life expectancy. Still, it is a favorite of the crowd that calls for medical collectivism. Josh at Everyday Economist links to an excellent story in the New York Times.
This innovation-rich environment stems from the money spent on American health care and also from the richer and more competitive American universities. The American government could use its size, or use the law, to bargain down health care prices, as many European governments have done. In the short run, this would save money but in the longer run it would cost lives.
Medical innovations improve health and life expectancy in all wealthy countries, not just in the United States. That is one reason American citizens do not live longer. Furthermore, the lucrative United States health care market enhances research and development abroad and not just at home.
The gains from medical innovations are high. For instance, increases in life expectancy resulting from better treatment of cardiovascular disease from 1970 to 1990 have been conservatively estimated as bringing benefits worth more than $500 billion a year. And that is just for the United States.
The author, an economics professor at George Mason University, admits the system's flaws but, like me, doesn't want to kill the engine of innovation and discovery.
Most fundamentally, the lack of good measures of health care quality makes it hard to identify and eliminate waste.
These problems should be addressed, but it would be hasty to conclude that the United States should move closer to European health care institutions. The American health care system, high expenditures and all, is driving innovation for the entire world.
I remember a time, not so long ago, when the man with the sandwich board warning the world that the end is nigh was a comic figure. He appeared in cartoons and comedy sketch shows as the clownish, nerdish figure that others made jokes about.
Similarly it is not long ago that the bearded man, with the religious collar and evangelical zeal, warned us to change our ways or we would be visited by plagues and pestilence was viewed as a throwback to a conservative, less sophisticated past.
Most educated westerners feel that no longer believing these spreaders of doom and apocalypse is a sign of progress and how our society has matured.
But remove the glasses and the grubby raincoat from the man with the sandwich board and replace it with an ethnic shirt, maybe a pair of sandals and write on the sandwich board that we are all going to be damned because the oil will run out, Or maybe the message is that we are all going to be doomed because we have cut down the forests or because of global warming and suddenly we take the man with the sandwich board very seriously indeed.
Similarly remove the collar from the man with the evangelical zeal and make him a member of an environmental organisation and suddenly we start paying serious attention to these modern day prophets of doom.
Once, according to our religious leaders, it was our sins that were leading us to damnation. Now, according to our environmental leaders, it is polluting actions of man that will lead to our damnation.
That is from a director's statement by Phelim McAleer, who has created a documentary about unemployed Romanian coal miner Gheorge Lucian
OpinionJournal Political Diary's John Fund describes the film as an anti-Michael Moore look at leftist idealism:
In it, Mr. Lucian, the Romanian miner, is seen hop-scotching around the globe confronting environmentalists in the style of Mr. Moore with the real-world consequences of their ideology.
He finds plenty of pincushions to stick needles into. Belgian environmentalist Francoise Heidebroek pompously tells Mr. Lucian that he and his fellow Romanian villagers prefer to use horses rather than cars, and to rely on "traditional cattle raising, small agriculture, wood processing" to live. In Madagascar, Mr. Lucian finds an official of the World Wide Fund for Nature who argues that the poor are just as happy as the rich and then insists on showing Mr. Lucian his new $50,000 catamaran.
You can order the film off the website for $12.95 with PayPal.
In strong but well reasoned words, Perry says that Islam, by demanding a "whole life" view is no different from Communism.
If Muslims want their religion to be treated with tolerance, they need to de-secularise it in the same way Christianity has (largely) done. But for as long as Islam advocates an imposed political order based on religious principles, it must not be treated either legally or socially as being above critique on any level whatsoever.
Islam is the problem and, just like Communism and Fascism, it is simply incompatible with western post-Enlightenment civilisation. And also just like Communism and Fascism, it must be contained or defeated militarily when it threatens us but it must also be defeated as an ideology as well.
I have a few good Muslim friends, one of whom is very devout, the others are the equivalent of "Jack Mormons" (Abdul Muslims?) There are a billion and I'm a religiously tolerant guy. I'm not ready to start another Crusade.
Lawrence Wright in "The Looming Tower" bifurcates between traditionalist Muslims who subscribe to the imposed political order Havilland discusses and those who have been able to live in a secular world.
I can't join the Coulter/Malkin brigades who think Islam must be subjugated. But I am finding it harder to believe that we are fighting a small, isolated minority.
Big questions, but who cares. Did you guys know Rep. Mark Foley was gay?
Peter Beinart has a very smart piece on the New Republic website today. He thinks that defenders of free speech on the left and the right must come together.
The precipitating event is the closure of Mozart's Idomeneo in Berlin.
Germans declared that free speech was under siege. The New York Times covered every wrinkle. Right-wing websites buzzed. And, on the big liberal blogs, virtual silence.
If pressed, most liberal bloggers would probably have condemned the opera house's decision. But they didn't feel pressed. Blogging thrives on outrage (see, for instance, my colleague Martin Peretz's outraged blogging on the affair at tnr.com/blog/spine), and the Idomeneo closure just didn't get liberal blood flowing. And why is that? Perhaps because it didn't have anything to do with George W. Bush.
Beinart gives the Kos crowd well deserved approbation for tempering, avoiding, or reversing their response to the Danish cartoon wars, Pope Benedict XVI's contretemps and the closure of Idomeneo. He quotes some Kos contributors who blamed the Pope's troubles on guess who?
One blamed the pope, one blamed the Muslim response, and one blamed both Islam and Christianity for being expansionist and violent. And the other three? They all blamed Bush. "Just in time for this year's elections," noted one writer. "Republicans need the Catholic vote, and, thus, we see [the pope's statement]." Another Kossack called Ratzinger's statement "a calculated, intentional strategy designed to help George Bush and the Republicans in the 2006 elections." A third writer criticized Ratzinger for apologizing, because "[t]he Pope's apology played into the Bush culture of fear."
Yeah, Rove's influence in the Vatican is legendary, but I digress...
This is TNR still. He calls Bush "a horrendous president" and salutes the efforts of liberal blogs to use the midterms to strip him of power. And he hammers Fred Barnes of The Weekly Standard and others on the right for defending free speech only as a method of opposing Islam.
But he is right to call for unity against foes who so clearly devalue freedom. It's good to have Beinart and Christopher Hitchens and Marty Peretz still on the left. If only some of the Kos kids would listen.
Radical Muslims in France's housing estates are waging an undeclared "intifada" against the police, with violent clashes injuring an average of 14 officers each day.
As the interior ministry said that nearly 2,500 officers had been wounded this year, a police union declared that its members were "in a state of civil war" with Muslims in the most depressed "banlieue" estates which are heavily populated by unemployed youths of north African origin.
It said the situation was so grave that it had asked the government to provide police with armoured cars to protect officers in the estates, which are becoming no-go zones.
This and the 10,000 killed in Thailand are fronts in the war against Islamicfascism we simply don't hear about.
Initial tests have found that the site would yield between 100 to 150 barrels daily, said Eli Tannenbaum, geologist for the Ginko oil exploration company. While this is minuscule by global standards - No. 1 producer Saudi Arabia produces 9 million barrels a day - Tannenbaum said there are signs that larger amounts of crude are nearby.
This stuff is everywhere. You just have to have the right market to produce it.
According to two people close to former congressional page Jordan Edmund, the now famous lurid AOL Instant Message exchanges that led to the resignation of Mark Foley were part of an online prank that by mistake got into the hands of enemy political operatives, the DRUDGE REPORT can reveal.
According to one Oklahoma source who knows the former page very well, Edmund, a conservative Republican, goaded an unwitting Foley to type embarrassing comments that were then shared with a small group of young Hill politicos. The prank went awry when the saved IM sessions got into the hands of political operatives favorable to Democrats.
"After the 1936 election, in which President Franklin Roosevelt shellacked the Republican nominee in all but two states, a humorist wrote: 'If the outcome of this election hasn't taught you Republicans not to meddle in politics, I don't know what will.' If after the Foley episode -- a maraschino cherry atop the Democrats' delectable sundae of Republican miseries -- the Democrats cannot gain 13 seats, they should go into another line of work"
-- Washington Post columnist George Will.
Random thoughts and a response to a thoughtful email on day five of the Foley contretemps. In short: We. Are. Screwed.
Kudlow on TV last night said that Speaker Hastert called him. He appreciated the gesture, listened, but was still unconvinced. Larry Sabato was on and said that the GOP would surely lose the House if he stepped down. Kudlow said "Principles over Politics!" with which I certainly agree.
Like anthropogenic global warming, however, I don't think there are enough solid facts to support a call for Hastert's ouster (though it would make a good band name). When it is all said and done, if some things I have heard are true I will join in.
Did you see that commercial from the lady running for MN-06? She's sure crimes were committed. They ran the spot on Kudlow's show and on FOXNews Special Report.
Some are thinking that this is a "Wellstone funeral moment" and that the ferocity of the Democrats could backfire, especially if they are found to have sat on allegations to save it for a propitious political moment. The Democrats are certainly capable of blundering any opportunity, but this comes down more to a management failure than a cover-up.
Rep Pelosi's culture of corruption is revived from the dead: a feeble corrupt leadership holds on to power at the expense of the children!
The comparison was made to the House Banking scandal that helped usher in the 104th GOP takeover. Here is an easy to understand scandal featuring an entrenched bureaucracy that is dropping in popularity. That's the scary part.
Dems take the House. Period. The Corner said Ms. Pelosi was measuring the curtains for her new office...
Lastly, I flat out reject hints that the "children" were complicit somehow. I really wish we'd stop calling 16-year olds children, but they are minors, and was pointed out in a discussion on Kudlow's show last night, they are young political junkies who idolize the House members. There has not be a greater disparity in power and influence since men slept with their slaves. There can be no true consensual relations between such disproportionate castes.
SwannBlog live blogged the second debate between Republican Lynn Swann and Governor Ed Rendell.
Here's Mark's conclusion:
Lynn Swann won the debate. Ed stammered, accused Swann on lying, and forced his smile. Swann explained clearly, backing his criticisms with stats.
Most important to my eye in this debate is that Lynn Swann was clearly the adult behind the podiums with the P's for Point Park University. Two students, both females, asked questions, which Swann answered. Ed came across as a physics prof explaining Quantum Theory to a seven-year-old.
I'm watching it on PCN's replay, not really live blogging it.
In short, Rendell is awful. In the first 10 minutes, he comes across as slick politician who's time has come. Swann is nailing him on gun violence, and the pay raise issue. It's great.
Rendell seems like he's way on the defensive. He ought to be. He's trying to run as a reformer. Are you kidding me?
Rendell promised 30% property tax cuts, his defense was that every other governor promised it too. Now he's saying, I cut property taxes by raising income taxes! Jeez.
Swann accuses Rendell of a conflict of interest. He gave Comcast $48 million dollars for a number of reasons, WHILE on the air as an Eagles commentator. Rendell gives it away to charity, Swann rebuts that he still got a tax write off. Heh.
Public smoking question: Should it be banned in all public places?
Rendell: Yes. We need to be a nanny state. Swann: No. It's bad for you, but a private business should do as it pleases. Correct answer.
Question from audience: State schools in Pa cost more than state schools in other states.
Swann argues to be more responsible fiscally to use the $26 billion budget to lower prices. Rendell... "I made them rollback the state college's hikes. They've only gone up 2.6%." Plugs PHEAA (which is currently under investigation).
Mark @ SwannBlog is right. Rendell is condescending in this answer. "Little girl, community colleges are important." He should have added head nodding to his gestures.
Pennsylvania's business environment is bad. How would you improve it?
Swann wants to cut corporate taxes. Rendell rattles off numbers and eventually says that some taxes need to be lowered. Swann says "heh." Well, he thinks it as he says, "See? Ed says we should cut corporate taxes"
What makes Swann qualified to be governor?
Citizen politicians are not new to America. Yes, Reagan was an actor before governor. Bill Bradley played basketball. Rendell says Swann should be judged by his plans, all of which are terrible. Swann says no way, the Commonwealth Foundation says they're good. Rendell is angry... and is pointing fingers... some laughs. I think he was tempted to throw a yellow flag.
More Juvenile violence in Pittsburgh, what would they do to curb it?
Rendell: More cops. Root causes, no jobs, no education. Swann says that we've spent three years not improving, education and incresing dignity. 50th on Welfare to Work. Rendell says we're a leader in educational improvement. Swann says improvement relative to what?
Swann... should have been hooked up with existing horsetracks, not standalone casinos. The environment is atrocious. Rendell... against expansion of gaming. Explain why he vetoed gambling reform. [It's incredible it needs reform before ANY slots parlors are built] Rendell interrupts a Swann rebuttal. Nice glare from Lynn.
State Pensions: Are they a timebomb?
Rendell: Yes. By 2011, it's a billion dollar problem and it will crush the school districts. Swann. Yes. Something should have been done. (I didn't hear beyond that)
SAT scores: Pa is below the national average, despite spending more than the average.
Swann: Yes, that contracts Ed's contention of improvement. Focus on the bad schools. Try new programs and incentives for teachers and students. Rendell disagrees with the numbers, because 75% of our students take them instead of the national average of 48%. Is that a defense? It just mean we have some dumb kids. We need laptops for kids. Swann: If you can't read, what good is a laptop? Rendell: We're improving!!!
Rendell: Career political guy. He says it's an advantage. Government can't solve all of our problems, but it can be a catalyst. He's for affordable health insurance. For high quality education. Modernize schools. Government should be a positive force in people's lives.
Swann: Focus on reform and results. Is it more empty rhetoric, like the past three years? There are uneducated kids and doctors are leaving the state. Argues for tort-reform. Average family pays 2700 more in taxes. Have we received our promised 30% tax cut? No. "Government shouldn't be this complicated." Hits Rendell on the payraise. What do you want to see? Reform and results? or rhetoric?
Clearly Lynn Swann wins. I thought Rendell was supposed to be a polished politician. I thought he was a pol in the mold of William Jefferson Clinton? He was far too much on the defensive, and Swann had him on the ropes, particularly on the pay raise flip-flopping and the state of education. Lynn Swann's citizen politician answer was perfect. He knew the issues. Rendell looked to be using notes.
This is Rendell's second defeat at the hands of Lynn Swann.
Will it be enough to get Swann closer to Rendell in the polls? Probably not. Who watches these things? But Lynn's ads on the 30% promise is funny and is sure to hurt Rendell.
We have had Democrats up in arms about listening in on the phone calls of foreign terrorists or using data mining to ferret them out—and Republicans have bitterly criticized them for it. But now, we have Democrats and even some Republicans who are claiming that Dennis Hastert should resign his leadership position because he didn't start an exhaustive investigation into the background and sexual conduct of a gay American congressman based on nothing more than the fact that he sent some "overly friendly" emails to a page.
The FBI? They received these e-mails and didn't take it any further because they decided that there was nothing there. The hostile, liberal media? They got these e-mails and didn't publish them because they decided that there wasn't enough to go on. But Dennis Hastert? He's supposed to look at these exact same e-mails, instantly decide—perhaps by using Nostradamus-like psychic powers—that Foley was guilty and then start looking for evidence to prove his hunch right.
My friend says "because the Dems have their bar set as low as it goes doesn’t mean we should drop ours" and says that Kudlow expresses his stance pretty well. One of my best friends and my political/economic mentor, yet I'll cling to my views.
Kudlow conflates misfeasance and malfeasance. He begins with Hastert's performance in l'affaire Foley:
The red flags were there, and in not acting decisively Hastert failed his party. But he also short-changed a key Republican constituency -- the GOP’s vital evangelical Christian base, which rightly trumpets the need for clear, pro-family moral and ethical standards in politics in order to stop the secular trend of moral relativism and the demoralizing rejection of faith.
Fair point, but then he criticizes the Speaker's performance and style:
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was message driven. So was former House Majority Leader Dick Armey. But since their departures, the House leadership has failed to deliver a clear and cohesive Republican message on low tax rates, budget restraint, earmark reform, private savings accounts for Social Security and healthcare, and firm oversight of the Iraq war and the Katrina cleanup.
Rather than a winning message of economic growth, a strong defense, and optimism for the future, Hastert has given us silence. And where’s his response to the House Democrats, who take every opportunity to speak up?
Now, if you want to boot the Speaker for ineffectively promoting the Republican cause, Mr. Kudlow, sign me up. You and I are ideas men, and we are tired of not hearing our ideas articulated.
But the GOP made a bargain when it elevated the low key Rep from Illinois. Our firebrands had attracted such antipathy from the left and the media, we thought a lower profile would better serve our legislative agenda. I still remember the TV spots in 1996 that always tied Speaker Gingrich to Senator Dole to capitalize on the perceived extremism.
Gingrich attracted enmity and both he and Speaker Livingstone had not-unimpeachable personal histories.
So we took the Coach, the quiet guy, and many have celebrated the years that he worked in the background to pass legislation without appearing on the Front Page.
So if you want him to resign in disgrace for inaction on Rep. Foley go ahead, but I do not think that it rises to that. If you want new leadership, let's do it post-election and not give the Democrats the target of a disgraced Speaker.
But please don't add them up and convict him for half of one crime and half of another. The Speaker and the Party deserve better.
Kenneth Jones is certain that “gasoline prices will go right back up to $2.75-plus after the [November] election” (Letters, October 2).
If Mr. Jones is correct, he can make a financial killing. All he need do is to invest all of his assets going long in gasoline futures (which are today about 30 percent lower than they were in late July). Indeed, he ought even to cash out all the equity in his house, max out on his credit cards, and borrow heavily from his brother-in-law so that he can invest as much as possible in these futures.
I love this argument. I use a corollary when my liberal friends tell me that the deficit will send interest rates through the roof. "Short the 10 year," I tell them. "You know something that none of the bond traders have figured out -- you can make a pile!"
I'm glad none of my friends had that much courage in their convictions, Rubenomics was not a good investment strategy over the past few years. On the good side, those who understood it were really left speechless by it.
I guess the Senate will be decided on who may have used a racial pejorative in school and the House will be decided on which party is demonstrably more suspicious of gays (with Nancy Pelosi's Democrats taking a commanding early lead).
If anybody's left who enjoys actual politics and policy, there's an interesting editorial in the WSJ today(Paid site, sorry!)
While they are not ready to recant in their opposition to the new Medicare drug plan, Gigot & Co. are pretty pleased with the way the market-driven elements of the plan have performed.
The early returns are encouraging, on both price and choice. Over the weekend insurers began marketing their 2007 Medicare drug plans, and all states except Hawaii and Alaska have more than 50 private options available -- up from an average of about 40 in 2006. Seventeen insurers are selling nationwide plans, up from nine this year. That compares with the one or two that critics of including private plans predicted would be available in many markets.
The average monthly premium that seniors pay is again $24, far lower than the $37 originally estimated by government actuaries. And while Democrats have hammered away at the idea that having seniors choose among competing drug plans is too "confusing," recent polls show satisfaction with the benefit in the 80% range.
I've mentioned before, my biggest problem with the plan is that, with no means testing, it is welfare for the masses, getting the government involved in everyone's plan. Yet it has been pretty mercilessly criticized by the Right. Ryan Sager considers it Exhibit A in an indictment of Bush's failures to promote conservative principles.
It is worth celebrating the market forces that were included in this plan's structure. And it is worth remembering what the plan would look like if the other guys drew it:
All of this would also seem to rebut the current Democratic campaign theme that having drug prices "negotiated" -- i.e., dictated -- by government is an urgent priority. Democrats point to the drug coverage provided by the Veteran's Administration as a model. But the VA usually keeps costs down by refusing to pay for newer, more effective medicines. The VA drug formulary includes only 19% of the medicines approved by the FDA since 2000.
One of our fears about the drug program is that it will devolve into price controls, thus destroying incentives for research and development as European governments have done. It would be a cruel irony if the Medicare drug benefit were to have the effect of delaying the cure for, say, Alzheimer's. Yet this is where Democrats seem to want to go..
Lastly, Vive la Difference!
Mark McClellan, the Bush appointee who has done so well in supervising the Medicare drug launch, is about to step down, so the choice of his successor will be crucial to keeping this market momentum. All the more so if Democrats take the House or Senate, where Henry Waxman, Pete Stark and others wait to do whatever it takes to show that the free market can't work in health care.
We'd have thought Republicans would be trumpeting the success of market competition in producing more choices and lower prices in Medicare, but instead most of them are merely advertising the new entitlement. Even they seem not to understand the stakes in making competition in Medicare work.
I'm not the hugest fan of the Speaker, but I'm not calling for his ouster. I'll admit I was surprised when I heard that the Washington Times Ed Page was. It seems to me he has a reasonable defense.
John Fund piles on today in the WSJ political Diary:
GOP mishandling of the political firestorm created by former Rep. Mark Foley's behavior threatens to demoralize the conservative base, preventing the vaunted GOP get-out-the-vote machine from doing its job this fall.
The problem the Foley scandal represents is that it's so simple to understand -- a powerful lawmaker preying on underage pages whom parents have placed in the care of Congress. But it's also a scandal difficult to convey the nuances of. It may be true that House GOP leaders only had suggestive emails in front of them last year when they agreed to accept Mr. Foley's assurances that he hadn't gone further. But voters aren't likely to get to that level of detail.
Regardless of the brave front that Republicans are putting up, their confidence in Speaker Dennis Hastert has been shattered. He will likely be gone as Speaker when Congress convenes next January, either replaced by a Democrat or swept aside for new GOP blood.
At a minimum, Mr. Hastert has revealed a fundamental weakness in his staff operation. He admitted to reporters that a portion of a Foley email asking a page for a photograph that GOP leaders saw last year was "a red flag." But he said his staff didn't need to "bump it up to me at that time." That proved to be a fatal error.
I cannot believe it will be politically expedient to step down now, either. That is just handing the other side an admission of guilt and complicity. Allow the Democrats to make angry homophobic comments all election season. It may not work but it should be fun to watch.
If he steps down, we'll have three Republican Speakers of the House toppled by sex scandals since President Clinton survived his. I'm just sayin'...
UPDATE: I meant to mention that Larry Kudlow called for his resignation last night on his TV show and today on his blog. Today, it appears that Dean Barnett and Hugh Hewitt are split. It's all politics anyhow, there is only a two week lame-duck session to swing the gavel.
Democrats not only seem OK with the kind of behavior for which Foley is charged, but also they protect and excuse it. Only when it's a Republican do they proclaim themselves shocked -- shocked! -- when it comes to light.
We have a lot more questions about this whole affair. The timing of the revelations, as we noted, couldn't be more propitious for the Democrats. Turns out both the Democrats and several newspapers seem to have known about Foley's problem as far back as November, according to research by several enterprising blogs.
Why didn't they come forward then? Who dredged up these e-mails -- and why did they hold them until now? This reeks of political trickery.
We're glad Foley's gone. He betrayed Congress, his party and the trust of the 33 pages who serve in Congress, and their parents. He behaved immorally, and we won't be surprised at new revelations.
That said, if this scandal is the Democrats' answer to their problems at the polls, it's pretty pathetic. It shows a base contempt for the voters.
PRIME Minister John Howard has launched a scathing attack on Australia's left-wing intelligentsia, questioning its loyalty to the nation over the past decades.
In a speech delivered last night for the 50th anniversary of the conservative magazine Quadrant, Mr Howard said the left had a history of denigrating the nation and was now doing the same with the war in Iraq, describing Islamic terrorism as the new tyranny.
He said Australian universities were still breeding leftists and described pro-communists of decades past as “ideological barrackers for regimes of oppression opposed to Australia and its interests”, Fairfax reports today.
"Most normal people, even political people, react to this like moms and dads. I’m a dad. Somebody sends an email like that to my kid, they are going to deal with the law firm of Smith & Wesson, OK? It ain’t going to go to no Page Board."
Now that the muckadoos are all focused on connecting every single living Republican to the Mark Foley scandal, does that mean they are no longer hyperventilating about how the new bill on interrogation will remove habeas corpus and is our first step into becoming a fascist state?
Philip Chaston of Samizdata reports on an interesting side effect of the US-UK alliance:
Soldiers on operations say they would rather receive a more serious injury and go to the top American military hospital in Ramstein, Germany, than end up in a NHS hospital.
They now half jokingly refer to getting "a Boche rather than a Blighty" in reference to the wounds that would send them home. Ramstein has an outstanding unit for brain surgery, and neurological intensive care beds in Britain are in short supply. "The blokes see it that if you are unlucky you get wounded and go to the UK at the mercy of the NHS, but if you get a head wound you get sent to Ramstein in Germany where the US has an outstanding medical facility," said an officer serving in Afghanistan.
"It also does not do morale much good knowing that within 18 hours of being wounded you could wake up in a NHS hospital with a mental health patient on one side and an incontinent geriatric on the other."
The post points out that -- in addition to the wonders of socialized medicine -- the British soldiers are threatened by British Muslims near the hospital.
Sugarchuck just recommended this to me last week. I have it on order and now see that Hugh Hewitt also finds it germane.
Professor David Allen White recommends we all read the short story "A Good Man Is Hard To Find," by Flannery O'Connor. Professor White calls the story the best piece of American writing in the 20th century, and a prophetic warning --it was published in the early 1960s-- about the rise of rampage mayhem unleashed by evil men that we have been watching unfold over the past two decades.
I've had a nice run of late in the nonfiction space. Dumb luck, perhaps, but the last few things I've ordered have been very good:
Reviving the Invisible Hand by Deepak Lai. Lai is an Economics professor at UCLA. It's a bit dry but very accessible. Probably the one book that comes closest to capturing my beliefs between a single cover.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average topped its highest level of all-time Tuesday, and is making another run at its all-time closing high, fueled by another steep drop by oil prices.
After a lackluster start, the Dow jumped midday and recently gained 67.71 points to 11738.06 after briefly topping its intraday high of 11750.28, set on Jan. 14, 2000. At about 12:35 p.m. EDT, Dow ticked above that level, and later climbed as high as 11755.35, its new record high.
If the current level holds, the Dow will finish well above its record close of 11722.98, set on the same day.
The new record put traders into a celebratory mood as a benchmark index sets a new high for the first time since the dot-com bubble burst six years ago. "Earnings are OK and the economy is OK and things are rolling," said Andy Brooks, head trader of T. Rowe Price Group. "The climate is healthy and prospects are good."
Larry Kudlow links to a Chicago Tribune editorial about "The Goldilocks Economy."
We are enjoying a goldilocks economy, not too hot and not too cold.
Solid growth, low inflation. The Laffer curve, not the Phillips curve.
If Rep Jack Murtha's devotion to cut and run isn't bad enough, here's a look at his stewardship of the Federal largess: it's his to promote his incumbency. Here's Brendan Minter in WSJ Political Diary:
Rep. John Murtha, a Pennsylvania Democrat and former Marine, made himself a hero to the anti-war left twice last year by calling for immediate withdrawal from Iraq. Now he's hoping to be elected majority leader if his party captures the House. Yesterday, the New York Times made his case for him: If Nancy Pelosi becomes Speaker in a closely divided House, won't she need a strict disciplinarian like Mr. Murtha to maintain party unity?
Mr. Murtha's leadership secret is not a well-kept one. He's extremely tough in doling out earmarks on Defense spending bills, rewarding Members who vote with him and cutting off those who balk at supporting his causes. He's the only Member who has a seat unofficially reserved for him in the House chamber. Rep. Mike Doyle, one of Murtha's minions, told the Times: "No one else dares sit there." He uses that seat -- referred to as "Murtha's corner" -- to hand out federal largess as members gather around him. And Mr. Murtha has used his clout to bring home countless barrels of pork for his district, turning the washed-up steel town of Johnston into a center for defense contractors. He has been especially solicitous in helping the firm Concurrent Technologies Corporation collect hundreds of millions in federal defense grants. One former Concurrent employee called the company "Murtha's pet rock."
Mr. Murtha learned hardball politics at the foot of former House Speaker Tip O'Neill, who put him on the Defense appropriations committee more than two decades ago. And he managed to survive a brush with political death in 1980 after undercover federal agents in a sting operation offered him a $50,000 bribe. He neither accepted nor turned down the money and later became a cooperating witness.
Mr. Murtha's public declaration last summer that he would challenge Minority Whip Steny Hoyer for the majority leader's office was widely considered tactless and needlessly divisive just before an election. He has since withdrawn the declaration -- but has been frantically raising money and passing it out to fellow Democratic House candidates in hopes of buying support. If Democrats take the House next month, look for a potentially ugly fight as Rep. Hoyer reminds colleagues of the less savory parts of Mr. Murtha's record.
Give a little money to the most attractive longshot of the year, Ms. Diana Irey.
But on May 16, the once-impenetrable fortress came tumbling down with the ballot-box defeats of scores of state senators and state representatives. By some estimates, 60 new faces could take the oath of office in January, a turnover unrivaled in recent history.
The total impact of this voter revolt is yet unseen, but one thing is clear - voters have cracked the code. We've solved the puzzle that has sent hundreds of well-intentioned candidates to certain defeat on Election Day. Instead of trying to go dollar-for-dollar with an incumbent's war chest and paid media arsenal, we challengers are taking our campaigns directly to the people. To any one willing to listen. And this year, they are.
People are listening because an illegal pay raise confirmed what they believed to be true about a broken political system. More than the taxpayer-funded luxury cars, restaurant tabs, lifetime health care or extravagant junkets, the people see Harrisburg politicians tuned out to the problems of ordinary Pennsylvanians.
Last week JK posted a graph of the Dow Jones Industrial Average over the past 10 years under the lede: DJIA hits high. 3srcrs were pretty pleased with themselves as they mocked imaginary MSM headlines in the comments. Then anonymous commenter 'tofubu' chimed in with, "6 years of essentially zero growth minus 6 years of inflation, let's throw a party"
Not one to let baseless sarcasm slide, I gave a detailed account of the 3-year correction (with essentially zero growth) that began under Clinton and ended a year after 9/11, followed by a 4-year period of double-digit growth to the tune of 55% and counting.
Dagny did some research on historical market crashes and found this analysis by Dustin Woodard that claims, "If you thought the 2000-2002 crash was painful, think again! It barely made the list of the ten worst markets crashes in U.S. history." Specifically about the 2000-2002 crash he wrote:
The 10th worst market crash barely edged out the 1932 stock market crash as the 10th worst crash in U.S. stock market history. Being the most recent crash, it is the easiest for us to remember.
This crash required the longest recovery time of all crashes in this list. The combination of the tech bubble bursting and the September 11th terrorist attack served a deadly blow to the stock market, but relative to markets past, this was a minor one.
10th Worst Stock Market Crash:
Date Started: 1/15/2000
Date Ended: 10/9/2002
Total Days: 999
Starting DJIA: 11,792.98
Ending DJIA: 7,286.27
Total Loss: -37.8%
So yes, 55% growth after a 38% crash? And it's not hanging by a thread? Let's throw a party!
UPDATE: I mentioned this in the comment I referenced, but I don't believe I've been forceful enough here about the real significance of this new all-time high with which the Dow is flirting. Namely, that it is necessarily higher than the Clinton era tech bubble, which ultimately burst. This is truly remarkable.
Giants walk this Earth. One of them was Fred Shelton. Fred was known to Boulder folk as a restaurateur for his eponymous eatery on West Pearl Street. Fred hired musicians and dancers and singers and songwriters and comics. They would wait tables and wash dishes and do a set or sit in with the boss.
I ate at Fred's a couple of times as a young man when my brother worked there. I was sixteen and I played guitar with Fred on a few tunes. Some guy called out "Kansas City" and Fred called me up. I went to pick up the spare guitar he kept on stage but he said "no," and had me play his 1960 Gibson Super 400.
I will remember him as a player. He had a sweet voice and impeccable taste in song selection. Our last CD had the tune "You Don't Know Me" which I learned from him. At his 80th birthday, I signed the guestbook "Every good thing I do, I stole from you." He laughed but I meant it.
His wife kept an email list up to date on his gigs and his health. The news today included a link to his obituary in the Daily Camera.
The longtime Boulder restaurateur and musician loved to entertain. He made a hobby of it by taking up the guitar when he was 49 and made a career of it after opening the doors to his restaurant, Fred's, in 1954.
Customers at the Pearl Street eatery dined, chatted and chilled out while Shelton played and sang, often joined by other local musicians.
Even when the end was near, Shelton went on performing. At his "alive wake" Sept. 21, Shelton sang his latest original, "Takin' It Slow," for the loved ones gathered to celebrate his life.
One week later, he was gone.
Here is his webpage with a picture of that Super Four.
What a wonderful planet to have folks like Fred on it.