November 30, 2007

CBS is hiring!

Are you looking for a job as an environmental reporter? Great news. CBS is hiring. Here is the job description:


CBS is expanding its coverage of the environment. We seek a talented reporter/host for Internet video broadcast. We are looking for smart, creative, hard working up and comers, who can bring great energy, creativity and a dash of humor to our coverage. A deep interest in the environment and sustainability issues will serve you well.

You are wicked smart, funny, irreverent and hip, oozing enthusiasm and creative energy. This position requires strong people, reporting, story telling and writing skills. Managing tight deadlines should be second nature. Knowledge of the enviro beat is a big plus, but not a requirement.

Responsibilities include reporting and hosting two to three news packages per week plus daily writing for our blog. You should be comfortable using a video camera and the Internet. Be prepared to see America. Heavy domestic travel.


I think that speaks for itself.

Environment Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 7:19 PM

Colorado Politics Prediction Market

A good friend has started a prediction market for all Colorado House races and Allard's Senate seat.



You can sign up at inklingmarkets.com to play on existing markets or to create a new (say, Pennsylvania) market.

Colorado Posted by John Kranz at 4:16 PM | What do you think? [2]
But jk thinks:

Overconfident? I bought Bob Schaffer big as my first trade; the +16% you see is mine. This is a trade, I fear Udall will win, but this should tighten up. I'm guessing I could get out at Schaffer 40 before the election.

Posted by: jk at November 30, 2007 4:27 PM
But AlexC thinks:

I'll have to check that out for Pa... thanks.

Posted by: AlexC at November 30, 2007 5:05 PM

Leopard Is Vista

We haven't had an OS war for a while.

I have been very disturbed by the Mac commercials slamming Vista. Macs are verboten where I work, but enforcement is rare. As a result, I have seen a steady stream of emails detailing serious security flaws and have heard a lot of internal complaints about Leopard.

Mostly, the commercials just make me nervous because I believe that all software is going to break, and it seems in poor taste to imply in a commercial that yours won't. If Toyota claimed their cars never broke down, people would say "yeah, right" even though Toyotas are known for reliability.

PC Magazine's Oliver Rist seems less than convinced that the new MacOS is perfect:

I'm not sure what ticks me off more about Leoptard (I can't take credit for that nickname—some Brit coined it): the fact that so many of the semi-important changes don't work, the fact that Apple turned a stable OS into a crash-happy glitz fest, or that the annoying, scruffy Live Free or Die Hard actor infecting my TV (and our Web site, by the way) is pretending that Leopard is better than Vista. It's not better than Vista. Leopard is Vista. And Tiger is better than both of them!

I've had decent results with my new Vista box, but have to admit that a few drivers aren't available. If I bought a new box tomorrow, I'd ask for XP. I assume Apple will fix Leopard (even though iTunes still sucks) but the company ought to have a little more superstition than to run that commercial.

But AlexC thinks:

I've seen that Vista commercial... in my month long (from scratch install) experience with Leopard has been (with one exception) very good.

Safari (the web browser) hasn't crashed on the Evening Bulletin's website (something it would do almost everytime).

Spotlight, the "find" feature, has never run as fast as it does now.

I finally got a serial ata external HD enclosure for my old HD, and am looking forward to doing backups in a simpler, simpler way.

I could do without "stacks" and "quick look" doesn't really amaze me.

I haven't used Spaces, though I have had trouble with their *brand new* implementation of X11. They've moved from Xfree86 to an X.org foundation, which makes it "different."

Posted by: AlexC at November 30, 2007 5:11 PM

All ThreeSourcers Will Ace This

A Quick Quiz with some interesting facts at the end.



Hat-tip: Gregory Mankiw

Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 1:00 PM

The End of Hurricane Hugo?

The American Magazine is a bastion of optimism (its Editor infamously wrote the book "Dow 36,000.") I'm fine with optimism; as Larry Kudlow would say, I've been optimistic for 25 years and it has served me well. Roger Noriega writes today of The End of Hurricane Hugo

In recent days, more and more Venezuelans have come to realize that the sweeping constitutional reforms championed by President Hugo Chávez represent a mortal threat to democracy. As the December 2nd referendum approaches, Venezuelans are contemplating the downside of dozens of radical changes that were approved by Chávez’s rubberstamp national assembly.

I'm not clear that the election will be fair enough or that his Hugoness will honor the result. But optimism is great.

I'll plug the magazine once more. Even if you don't subscribe, they have just started a daily e-mail -- I'd recommend signing up.

Venezuela Posted by John Kranz at 12:07 PM

What Ails Fred, What Alis the GOP

Kim Strassel has a smart column today (not unusual). She further develops the questions about Fred Thompson's campaign. I linked to a Mark Steyn Corner post yesterday asking why the man with the ideas has no campaign. Ms. Strassel relates it to his plan for a "new campaign" which ignores the old rules.

While it isn't clear who set the "rules" for this manic election, they're set. Voters may only pay attention at the end, but having an infrastructure to make sure those voters hear you in the final months is the work of years. By sitting back, Mr. Thompson allowed his rivals to scoop up the well-connected policy wonks, committed state activists and aggressive fund-raisers that oil a campaign. His own refusal to "do" the media and public-event circus has muzzled his message, as the failure of his tax-plan announcement shows.

Think back to 1999, when Gov. George W. Bush -- who knew something about campaigns -- unveiled his own tax outline. His people had a dozen brainy conservative economists at the ready to blitz the media. Outside business groups stood by with glowing press releases. Average families were found to serve as real-life examples of how the tax cut would help. The campaign staff fanned out and joined local activists to manage the grass roots. The candidate himself devoted endless time to flogging his idea in public appearances and to every press person and editorial board around.

None of this happened in the wake of Mr. Thompson's Fox announcement. The campaign simply didn't have the stuff to pull it off. Worse, its own leader refused to do what is expected. A look at Mr. Thompson's schedule revealed not a single public appearance for three days after the release, right up to Wednesday's highly uninformative CNN debate.


Strassel takes it one more step to show that the loss is not only Thompson's, but it has shut ideas out of the GOP Primary campaign:
The GOP went into this race thinking itself the likely loser, and that fear has defined the primary. The candidates aren't vying to lead a wayward party out of malaise, or energize voters with new ideas. They're instead trying to be the answer to a question: Who can beat her?

That's made the race about biography, in particular on issues like national security and immigration, where Republicans hope a Hillary Clinton will be weak. Mr. Giuliani's campaign is about his past as a New York tough guy who can face down terrorists. Mr. Romney's, his past as an MBA who can manage our border. Mr. McCain's, his past as a Vietnam vet who recognized the problems in Iraq. There's no future in this present, and Mr. Thompson's lackluster delivery of his own agenda has allowed the front-runners to continue avoiding the big debates.


That's some harsh medicine, but she is 100% right. I love debates, I love politics, but the GOP debates have been the biggest yawn fests. There are no ideas. Gov. Huckabee has his Fair Tax, Senator Thompson says "I have a plan" (shades of another Tennessee Senator who ran?) but Strassel is right that there is no discussion of ideas.

2008 Race Posted by John Kranz at 11:41 AM

November 29, 2007

The Broncos Will Win the Super Bowl

The other AFC teams. The Patriots and the Colts. Are losers. They don't have talent and their coaches don't understand the game. Coach Michael Shanahan is a winner.

The Broncos will win the AFC. The NFC Teams that you hear so much talk about: the Cowboys, and the Packers, even the Philadelphia Eagles -- they don't have what it takes to win the Championship. The Broncos do. The Broncos will be the next NFL Champions.

In other news, Lileks brings us this dedicated Ron Paul Supporter:




Sorry, Rep. Paul fans. One more debate and this guy just does not do it for me. I am intrigued by Insty's suggestion that if he can get traction perhaps libertarian ideas are more popular than expected.

RON PAUL: He's just terrible, even when -- which is often, once he's off the subject of the war -- I agree with him. His voice is too high, he can't remember who the Kurds are, and he often comes off like a crazy old man in a bus station.

But that's good news, in a way. Paul's doing better than anyone expected. It's abundantly clear that he's not doing it on charisma and rhetorical skill. Which means that libertarian ideas are actually appealing, since Ron Paul isn't. Paul's flaws as a vessel for those ideas prove the ideas' appeal. If they sell with him as the pitchman, they must be really resonating. I suspect Paul himself would agree with this analysis. Er, except maybe the bus station part.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:02 PM

Fred's Sails In The Sunset

Mark Steyn not only crafts that superb headline, he also succinctly captures my views on Fred!

I wrote about the Republican and Democrat presidential candidates last weekend, and got a lot of mail from Fredheads and others demanding to know why I hadn't mentioned Senator Thompson. The reason is I've no handle on what it is he thinks he's doing. Every time I see a Fred policy plan, he seems to have by far the best ideas, and the necessary zeal for reform, on taxes, Social Security and much else. But every time you see him in these TV debates he has the listless air of a bored grandparent at a dreary school play.

And seeing him live in person isn't that easy to do. I get campaign e-mails about New Hampshire appearances by John McCain and Mrs Clinton and lots of others. Mitt's guys clogged up my in-box with so many urgent releases in the hours after last night's debate that it's seriously impacting my ability to order generic Viagra and e-mail my bank details to Nigerian dictators' wives. But nary a word from Fred.

What's the strategy here? Why does he have great ideas but no campaign?


Senator Thompson had a superb interview on Kudlow & Co. Where were the YouTube clips? I get fund raising mail from his campaign, but where's the Fred! who responded to Michael Moore? Steyn is right about the plans. Thompson's Social Security and tax proposals are good polity models, but as I told my Fredhead Brother-in-law, I don't see the intensity that will be required to beat the Clinton machine.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:14 PM

Huckabee Wins Debate

I have not seen or read any punditry on last night's GOP debate. I have a superstition that requires I post my thoughts first, lest my pliant and malleable intentions are swayed.


  • I liked the YouTube format. It did provide tougher questions and it did give the evil folks at CNN opportunities to dive into areas where pro journalists might not. But hard is good.

  • My candidate, Mayor Giuliani, did not have a great night. I was disappointed that he agreed with Gov. Romney that farm subsidies were important "for the food supply" and "to level the field with more-heavily-subsidized Europeans." Ouch. He was okay on the other answers but I'm tired of NYC crime stats.

  • I'm also tired of the childish sniping. Romney struck a low blow with a reference to Bernard Kerik, and while the "Sanctuary Mansion" was a good laugh line, Romney has the high ground on that. Reagan’s 11th, gentlemen, Reagan's 11th...

  • Immigration will ruin this party -- did I mention that? The immigration questions seethed with hostility, the answers were not much better.

  • Lastly, yeah, Gov. Huckabee was affable, humorous, and statesmanlike. I quickly joined Harrison Bergeron yesterday in saying that if the GOP goes Huckabee's direction, I won't follow. (I would not abandon the party if he is a running mate). But, you have to appreciate those who can play this game, and the Governor was good. Scary good.


UPDATE: Always post first: planted questions? No!

UPDATE II: American Spectator wonders why Giuliani bothered to pander to the Farm Lobby if he's written off Iowa:

Romney's response was at least consistent with what we know about him, and has an electoral logic to it. He has a history of saying whatever is most politically convenient at the time, and winning Iowa is a central part of his strategy.

For Giuliani, however, it doesn't add up. One of his greatest appeals is that he is a blunt, no-nonsense guy who has the guts to say and do what others don't. When it was suggested that New York City raise taxes after 9/11, Giuliani responded that it would be "a dumb, stupid, idiotic and moronic thing to do." Had he said the same thing about farm subsidies last night, he would have become an instant hero among fiscal conservatives. But aside from that, it would have made political sense. Unlike Romney, winning Iowa is not central to Giuliani's strategy, so he doesn't need to pander for votes there. Much more important for him is winning New Hampshire. Had he come out firmly against farm subsidies last night, he would have had a great issue to use against Romney in the more libertarian Granite State.


2008 Race Posted by John Kranz at 10:52 AM | What do you think? [4]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

The reason is simple, and I would have thought quite obvious to anyone writing for the AS. Giuliani cares because Iowans' votes can be very important in the general election. If he had come out against subsidies, how will he look when Hillary starts running commercials to exploit that? "Giuliani opposes farm subsidies that will keep America agriculturally strong. Vote Hillary for a food-strong America!"

There are also plenty of Americans outside the Great Plains who are dumb, stupid, idiotic and moronic enough to believe that farm subsidies are necessary. I blogged a long time ago about running into some goddamn idiot Laroucher who claimed that the U.S. imports "most of our food." I flatly told him it's not true, but he's so willfully blind that he would only say, "Goodbye, sir."

I didn't watch the debate. I haven't watched any of them yet. My fiancee is far more worthy of my time than any of those lying panderers.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at November 30, 2007 11:27 AM
But hb thinks:

I thought McCain won -- but I generally do. McCain always seems genuine, which cannot be said with all the candidates.

Rudy appears desperate. Say what you want about Mitt Romney and cheap shots, but he won the exchange and looked much more comfortable during their opening exchange.

Full disclosure: I must admit that when Huckabee said he would get rid of the IRS, it did bring a smile to my face.

If I had to guess today, I would say that Romney will get the nomination.

Posted by: hb at November 30, 2007 3:17 PM
But jk thinks:

Valid points all. But I would expect a Republican to at least express some concern about the abuses of farm subsidies. Either could have said "we want to protect our food supply and our farmers, but we need to make sure that we're not giving millions to big corporations and Manhattan land barons." Not as good as "let's abolish all subsidies and closed the USDA" but I'd have taken it.

Posted by: jk at November 30, 2007 3:56 PM
But jk thinks:

hb is perhaps right on Romney, I am still going for the social conservative split between Govs. Romney and Huckabee launching Hizonner to the nomination.

Posted by: jk at November 30, 2007 4:43 PM

November 28, 2007

Kind Words for a Bush Appointee

Gregory Mankiw says choosing Keith Hennessey to replace Al Hubbard as the head of the National Economic Council is "an excellent choice."

Second Bush Administration Posted by John Kranz at 5:59 PM

Thought Jocks

Super Guest Editorial in the Wall Street Journal today (Rupert, tear down this wall!)

Monday: After a long day at his New York City private school, Ben, 16, heads to my creative writing lab to work on his heartfelt memoir about his parents' bitter divorce. Tuesday: Alison, 15, rushes from her elite private school in the Bronx to work on her short screenplay about a gifted, mean and eccentric boy. Lily, 13, pops in whenever she can to polish her hilarious short story narrated by an insomniac owl.

Ben, Alison and Lily, along with another few dozen who attend my afterschool writing program, also attend top-notch New York private schools that cost upwards of $25,000 a year.


Sadly, their expensive private schools are so enamored with the self-esteem culture, there is no academic competition. These gifted students go to tutors for a chance to compete.
But some, and ironically those who attend some of the most desirable schools in the region, feel the reverberations in deeper, more painful ways. "Two years after my son left a school that prohibited him from entering a national math competition," says one mother, "he still writes angry essays about why the jocks in his former school were allowed to compete throughout the city while he wasn't allowed to win the same honors for his gifts." Sam, her son, felt uncool in the eyes of his peers, and undervalued (and sometimes even resented) by the administration.

I have pretty happy memories of being the first to solve a math problem (regular readers know I never won a spelling bee) -- and I have no doubt that this offset my inferior kickball skills. I value competition in all things. I think Ms. Wallace-Segall is right that we devalue thought by not supporting the opportunity to celebrate it.


Education Posted by John Kranz at 5:00 PM

Mike Taxabee

Just a quick rant:

According the latest Rasmussen poll, Mike Huckabee now leads the field in Iowa.

For better or for worse, I am a registered Republican and as I see it, this election is a watershed moment in the history of the party. Mike Huckabee represents a direction I will not follow and the support that he has received from not only prospective voters, but also so-called conservative pundits is a great source of frustration. The Republican party has always been a source of frustration (as is any given party), but increasingly conservatives are becoming a source of frustration.

Huckabee will not win the presidential nomination, but should he receive the vice presidential nomination, I will not vote for the Republican candidate. Period.

The party needs to return to its days of limited government and lower taxes, not kowtow to social conservatives...

2008 Race Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 1:23 PM | What do you think? [3]
But AlexC thinks:

Dick Morris disagrees.

Most impressively, when he had to pass an income tax surcharge amid the drop in revenues after Sept. 11, 2001, he repealed it three years later when he didn't need it any longer.

He raised the sales tax one cent in 11 years and did that only after the courts ordered him to do so. (He also got voter approval for a one-eighth-of-one-cent hike for parks and recreation.)
He wants to repeal the income tax, abolish the IRS and institute a "fair tax" based on consumption, and opposes any tax increase for Social Security.
Of course Morris is a Democrat, so maybe he's trying to tank the GOP. Posted by: AlexC at November 28, 2007 2:10 PM
But jk thinks:

Amen, hb. I was asked early on if I could imagine a pairing where I would vote Democratic. I thought of Gov. Richardson vs. Rep. Tancredo or Rep. Hunter. Then Richardson went so far to the left, I couldn't see that. Now my pair is Sen. Obama vs. Gov. Huckabee; I think I might pull the D lever if that's the choice.

However, I am still optimistic. Huckabee has done an impressive job in Iowa, I will not take that away. But I do not think he has the money or organization to play in the bigger states.

Being a Giuliani supporter, I look for Huckabee to take some support away from Gov. Romney who is far down my list and is far more of a threat to win. Huckabee's numbers come out of Romney's.

Posted by: jk at November 28, 2007 2:10 PM
But jk thinks:

AC, I have heard both sides on a lot of the taxes, but when a Republican makes enemies of both the Club for Growth and the Cato Institute, something is wrong.

Governor Huckabee, whatever his record, talks too much of using government to help the middle class. I'd probably prefer his plans to Senator Clinton's but worry that they share the same belief in government.

Posted by: jk at November 28, 2007 2:14 PM

Cyber Monday Sets Record

WSJ:

Consumers responded eagerly to online retailers' promotions for "Cyber Monday," setting a record for single-day online retail sales.

Online sales for the Monday after Thanksgiving rose 21% to $733 million, according to comScore Inc., a Reston, Va., market research company that tracks Internet sales and traffic.

Cyber Monday, a phrase coined by the National Retail Federation's Shop.org online-retail unit in 2005, is the day consumers return to their high-speed computer connections after the Thanksgiving holiday and start shopping on the Web, often from work. The day brings the first jump in online holiday spending, and merchants offer promotions around it.


Or, as the AP would say:
Per-person Spending Plunges 12%

Saddled with ballooning subprime mortgage concerns, with spirits dampened by the ongoing war in Iraq (see related story on Abu Ghraib), consumers seemed to find temporary respite in online shopping...

But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Or according to the article we both saw, retailers are so desperate that they were slashing prices to lure any customers they could.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at November 28, 2007 2:23 PM

November 27, 2007

Pharma Sector Bad, Journalists Good.

"If you can't get a drug on the market with that kind of data, we should stop developing drugs."
So says a Duke University Cardiologist about Eli Lilly's TRITON trial. He is quoted in a guest editorial in the WSJ from Eli Lilly CEO Sidney Taurel. I have suggested that people who choose to invest in or directly try to the improve human life through technology face opposition from politicians, trial lawyers, luddites, and a burdensome government approvals process.

Taurel adds journalists to that list. When Lilly stopped a trial to ensure patient safety, the press smelled blood in the water:

When it comes to describing the benefits and risks of prescription drugs, the hyper-competitive, around-the-clock media is rarely at its best. Call the following a case study in the challenge of doing right by doctors and patients -- in spite of the need to feed the media beast with copy.

It's a sad story that follows. Six billion in market capitalization (That equals six million little plastic bracelets, folks).and loss of investor confidence in a promising new compound.

But TrekMedic251 thinks:

My friend's wife is a doctor who works for a big Pharma. As we watch the Eagles flail helplessly across the field, she spends time reading the reports that come back from clinical trials (she's involved in patient safety). For people with MDs and PhDs, they can sometimes be as dumb as dirt when it comes to writing a detailed report.

It amazes me how much time and energy is wasted having to ask over and again for clarification about one paragraph in a 10-page report!

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at November 27, 2007 10:37 PM

Don't Click

If you read this Instapundit Post, quantum theory dictates that the dark energy stabilization clock is reset, threatening the stability of space and time.

You're on your own recognizance...

Posted by John Kranz at 6:40 PM

A Really Inconvenient Truth

You would think the inventor of the internet would keep on up security.

A blog set up to promote former U.S. Vice President Al Gore's film, "An Inconvenient Truth," has been hacked and is hosting links to Web sites hawking online pharmaceuticals.

The links appear to have been created as part of a scheme to boost the Web traffic for sites that promote the drugs, security experts said Monday. They contain titles such as "Xanax On Line," "Viagra," and "Buy Valium Online."

Cyber scammers have been using this technique for months now, packing hacked Web sites with links to their products in hopes of bumping up their rankings on search engines such as Google and Ask.com. Another similar tactic, known as "comment spam," involves flooding the comment sections of Web sites with these types of links.

But jk thinks:

Cursed Comment Spammers! Even VP Gore does not deserve those slime!

People often ask why they have to type in the stupid password to post comments, it is to beat those execrable cretins. "Months," PCWorld? It has sadly been around a lot longer that that.

Posted by: jk at November 27, 2007 6:50 PM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

It would REALLY be funny if they ran the old "Bob Dole knows about ED" ads for Viagra on the site!

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at November 27, 2007 10:43 PM

Mississippi Christmas

Brendan Minter in the Political Diary says "Christmas Comes Early in Mississippi"

The scuttlebutt is that Trent Lott's departure will make it even more difficult for Republicans to pick up seats in next year's elections. Mr. Lott is the sixth Senate Republican to announce his retirement, meaning the GOP now will have to defend a total of 23 Senate seats next year, while Democrats will have to defend just 12. Not only is his departure a sign of insider skepticism that Republicans will be able to recapture control of the Senate anytime soon. When it comes to legislating, Republicans will also be without one of their more effective politicians in rounding up votes.

But there's ample reason for conservatives to view Mr. Lott's retirement as an early Christmas present. Though a strong supporter of tax cuts and the military, he also frequently behaved as a typical Congressional pork barreler during his the 34-year career. Just this month, he voted with 78 other senators to override a presidential veto of a $23 billion water-projects bill loaded up with 900 pork barrel projects. Mr. Lott, who presumably knew he didn't have to worry about reelection, still couldn't resist the urge to shovel money back home to make his contributors and lobbyist friends grateful.

Mr. Lott has also been a serious hindrance to conservatives in the crucial battle for tort reform. He's the brother-in-law of tort lawyer extraordinaire Dickie Scruggs, whom he joined after Hurricane Katrina in suing insurance companies for not paying off claims that were explicitly not covered in the insurance policies that Mr. Lott and other homeowners bought. Nor did he serve the conservative cause well with his careless remarks five years ago in praise of Strom Thurmond's 1948 presidential run, on a segregationist platform.

True to custom, President Bush nonetheless lauded the retiring senator for his services to Mississippi, while House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (another wishy-washy conservative) praised his friend for teaching him the tricks of the trade. Even insurance lobbyists wished the senator happy years ahead. In truth, though Mr. Lott is only 66, his departure means one fewer Republican remnant hanging in the way of building the party's future. Principled conservatives will have one fewer incumbent to apologize for. There's also little chance Democrats will capture Mr. Lott's seat in 2008, so, on the whole, his departure is a reason for conservative satisfaction.


One less incumbent to apologize for. Amen, Brother Brendan! Now when they put Senator Ted Stevens in jail, I will again be a proud Republican.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:45 PM

One Star for Mister Krugman

Gregory Mankiw links to an excellent Amazon Review of Paul Krugman's "The Conscience of a Liberal."

Krugman's vision for the future has three key premises, all wrong.

First, he believes progressives can win on a platform of redistributing from the rich. However, no one cares about inequality. People care about injustice, unfairness, poverty, sexual predators, family values, gay marriage, terrorism, and many other problems of everyday life. People don't care about Gini distributions and other abstractions. Moreover, Krugman should know that if the wealth were redistributed to the middle class, the US investment rate would fall, since the rich save their money and it is translated into investment, whereas the middle classes would spend their gains on consumption, thus driving out investment. A "soak the rich" policy simply cannot work to the advantage of the middle classes.

Second, Krugman would strengthen the labor unions, which he credits for their egalitarian effects. However, unions were strong only when industry was highly non-competitive in such areas as automobiles and steel. The oligopolistic character of mid-twentieth century industry, with a few countries in the lead, made fighting over the excess profits highly rewarding. With globalization, there are no excess profits to be fought over. Thus, it is not surprising that most successful unions in the USA are public service, not private (e.g., teachers, government employees). There is no future in unionism, period.

Third, Krugman believes that liberalism can be restored to its 1950's health without the need for any new policies. However, 1950's liberalism was based on southern white racism and solid support from the unions, neither of which exists any more. There is no future in pure redistributional policies in the USA for this reason.


There are quite a few things in the review I disagree with, but "The Enemy of Krugman is my Friend." And the separation of injustice and inequality is brilliant.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:10 PM | What do you think? [3]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

His second and third points are good. His first is somewhat off. It sounds almost Eidelbusian when he talks about the futility of soaking the rich, but Mankiw doesn't understand the old Bastiat lesson: "To save is to spend." Ultimately *everything* is spent. If you save money by buying stock or land, the recipient of the money will spend it, or he'll save it and transmit it to someone who will spend it. The last one may take many steps, but it will eventually happen. Thus in the end, what matters isn't the ratio between saving and investment, but total economic output.

"Soaking the rich" doesn't work because it means *government* will spend the money that "the rich" would have either saved or spent. They'd have saved it and eventually provided money that the rest of us borrowed for mortgages and auto loans, or they'd have spent it on goods and services that the rest of us provide. Either way, it means jobs for the rest of us. Most importantly, supply-siders have been vindicated by major tax cuts that spurred revenues, because when "the rich" don't have to pay as much in taxes, they want to produce more.

Besides, a free market will determine, all by itself with no need for government, the proper ratio between savings and investment. The key is to let interest rates adjust on their own. If there isn't enough being saved, then investors will offer higher returns, unless there's a central bank willing to undercut them. If there's too much being saved, the returns will be too low to compete with the satisfaction of consumption spending.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at November 28, 2007 3:02 PM
But jk thinks:

First, I should clarify that this not Perfesser Mankiw, just a hat-tip to his blog. Mankiw liked the differentiation between injustice and inequality as I did.

Sadly, the whole review includes an insult of "Robber Barons" and this:

Conservatives, on the other, are political sophisticated and hold clear visions of what they want. It is too bad that what they want does not include caring about the poor and the otherwise afflicted, or dealing with our natural environment.

Posted by: jk at November 28, 2007 4:54 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Ah, I didn't follow the link. That paragraph you quoted is the old liberal fallacy: if you don't want government to do it, you must not want it at all.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at November 29, 2007 10:43 AM

The Twelfth Imam

Osama Bin-Laden had it all wrong. Why convert the Infidel with the sword?

The 7th Century is over and the Great Satan is now for sale:

NEW YORK - Wall Street rebounded sharply Tuesday after the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority said it will invest $7.5 billion in Citigroup Inc. — a vote of confidence for the nation's largest bank, which has suffered severe losses amid the ongoing crisis in the mortgage market. The Dow Jones industrials rose 150 points.

Don't think I have lost my free-trader instincts. I do not seriously mean to compare Bin-Laden religious hooliganism with a legitimate business trade (especially one that sent the DJIA up 150 points!) At the same time, I'd suggest that the Muslims of the world embrace modernity (as all of my Muslim friends have) and engage people with ideas and trade.

UPDATE: I removed a line with which I was not comfortable, celebrating Persian and Arab successes in innovation and trade. It was complimentary but I don't want to get into ethnic stereotyping.

But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Well, if the turban fits, right? :)

Arabs were among the greatest traders, which is one of their great lost legacies. Sinbad the Sailor wasn't an adventurer first; his seven voyages weren't pleasure cruises.

As I pointed out to someone yesterday, the dollars come home to roost. Arabs gain nothing by sitting on the cash they receive by selling us oil. And how wonderful the U.S. economy might be that even a troubled company like Citi (if you believe the news hype) can draw that kind of investment.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at November 28, 2007 3:41 PM

November 26, 2007

Obama Does It Again

Another classic comment from Obama regarding Hillary's "experience":


"I think the fact of the matter is that Sen. Clinton is claiming basically the entire eight years of the Clinton presidency as her own, except for the stuff that didn't work out, in which case she says she has nothing to do with it," Obama said, and added, referring to his relationship with his wife, Michelle, "There is no doubt that Bill Clinton had faith in her and consulted with her on issues, in the same way that I would consult with Michelle, if there were issues," Obama said. "On the other hand, I don't think Michelle would claim that she is the best qualified person to be a United States Senator by virtue of me talking to her on occasion about the work I've done."

2008 Race Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 1:55 PM

With Republican's Like These...

That should probably be a category -- or a whole new blog: with Republicans like these, who needs Democrats?

I wrote about Michael Powell in May of 2003:

Chairman Powell is Colin Powell’s son. As much as I respect Dad, Michael’s policy and beliefs comport better with mine, and he clearly is the better for spending fewer years with the striped-pants crowd at the State Department. He is pushing to bring FCC Regulations into the 21st Century. Regulations on ownership that were crafted when America got its news from Eric Sevareid can be relaxed now that many get news from Andrew Sullivan. Chairman Powell understands the effect of cable TV and Internet information sources and he believes in the free market enough to fight for a more modern approach.

Come home, Michael, we need you. Today, the WSJ Ed Page takes a few whacks at his successor, Kevin Martin (paid link until Rupert gets the keys...):
At a meeting scheduled for tomorrow, Chairman Martin plans to push a slew of new regulations on cable operators. Among other things, he wants to force cable companies to reduce, by as much as 75%, the already regulated rates they charge to lease channels to programmers. He also wants to require cable operators to settle carriage disputes, like the current one involving the NFL Network, through an arbitration system set up by the FCC. Apparently Mr. Martin, a Republican appointee to the agency no less, has lost faith in the free market's ability to handle commercial disputes. Either that, or he has some personal animus against cable.

Mr. Martin says more regulation is needed because monopolistic players are dominating the cable industry. But his premise doesn't remotely square with reality. Comcast, the nation's largest cable provider, recently reported a drop in subscriptions. Cable share prices generally are getting hammered, trading near 52-week lows. According to a report last week in Broadcasting & Cable, since Comcast's last earnings report its stock is down 17%; Time Warner is down 21%; Cablevision is down 16.5%; and Charter Communication is off 47%.
[...]
To justify his meddling, Mr. Martin describes a marketplace that doesn't exist. He pretends there's no DirecTV and EchoStar option. He pretends that Verizon and AT&T's video offerings pose no threat to Comcast and Time Warner. But if the FCC chairman is most concerned about costs, the goal should be more competition via different platforms. In other words, he should want current trends to continue. His odd and untimely proposals are more likely to retard them.

Some people still wonder why so many businesses donate to Democrats. Some of it is explained by rent-seeking and staying close to power -- but how can you ask business to donate to the GOP when their Cabinet Chairs think like Mr. Martin?

UPDATE: Never give up hope. The vote may be in trouble:

WSJ
WASHINGTON -- A vote Tuesday on a proposal that could lead to stricter regulation of the cable industry was in jeopardy Monday, as internal squabbling at the Federal Communications Commission and outside pressure from Congress and the White House threatened to delay, if not completely derail, the plan.

But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Should the federal government have prevented Apple from releasing the iPod until there were enough competitors to make a "market"?

Actually, only one seller is required to make a market. It's unadulterated bullshit that, as the interventionists claim, "markets require competition." Even if there is only one seller of a good or service, consumers always have a choice: they can choose not to buy.

The only reason cable companies are "monopolistic" is because local governments give them the monopolies. Cablevision is the only cable company that Westchester County permits to operate, even though RCN would be more than happy to get my business (and I'd be more than happy to give it to them). Cablevision's service is atrocious enough, but I can't imagine how much worse it would be without satellite competitors.

I stick with Cablevision for its cable modem service, but even then it's recently given me so many problems that I'm about to get Verizon's FIOS. And there would be many, many more people offering high-speed connections of all types, if only government would stop sodomizing the market.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at November 27, 2007 2:44 PM
But jk thinks:

That's the best thing about government intervention: when you ruin the market with regulation, you can claim the market doesn't work and regulate further.

It's one thing when Rep Barney Franks tries to over regulate the mortgage industry at the start of a housing slump, his constituents expect that. Seeing a Bush appointee go this far is disheartening.

After I wrote that essay that lauded Michael Powell, he showed a regulatory streak on language and "wardrobe malfunctions" that I didn't cheer, but it was at least in character.

Posted by: jk at November 27, 2007 3:12 PM

November 25, 2007

MIT

The good folks at MIT dreamed up this voice activated blender. Sadly, there are no plans to release a commercial version.


Hat-tip: Pillage Idiot

Science Posted by John Kranz at 3:35 PM | What do you think? [1]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Voice-activated blender? Bill Clinton already has one: Shrillary.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at November 28, 2007 3:44 PM

The Fed is Defended

Mirabile dictu -- by Milton Friedman.

Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 12:33 PM

Clinton Would Boost Funding

HOLD THE PRESSES! The Junior Senator from New York has finally found something she thinks the government should spend money on: Autism.

"Driven by their love and devotion, mothers and fathers across the country have raised awareness, demanded funding, and opened our eyes to the needs of so many children," she told a crowd of hundreds gathered at the Jesse E. Marshall Boys Club of Sioux City. "It's up to us to reclaim the future for our children, and ensure that every child can live up to his or her God-given potential."

Seven hundred million does not sound like that much. I'd rather she smoothed the way for private funding, but this is possibly good policy -- and without question good politics. I just laughed when I saw the headline: "Clinton would boost autism funding." To call that a Dog-bites-man story is unfair to dog bite victims. It's more of a dog-licks-himself story.

Senator Clinton will surely seek more "Funding" (the AP did not call it spending) for every one of these soft, supraconstitutional endeavors. It's going to be a long campaign and, quite likely, a long four years.

2008 Race Posted by John Kranz at 10:54 AM | What do you think? [2]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Or the more accurate news:

"Hillary Clinton announced another plan today to help the majority of Americans elect her, by enticing them with a proposal to take $700 million from the American minority that pays the bulk of taxes."

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at November 27, 2007 3:15 PM
But jk thinks:

Here's where I have to nod to your (and JohnGalt) millenarian views. Put $700 million for autistic kids on the ballot in any state in the Union and it will pass 80-20. Add to that a steeply progressive tax rate -- most of those 80 aren’t really paying anyway -- and it is hard to see how classical liberalism ever wins,

Posted by: jk at November 27, 2007 4:37 PM

November 24, 2007

The Patriarchy is Alive and Well

Gregory Mankiw links to the Crimson:

How long does it take to grab a cup of coffee? If you happen to be a woman, plan on adding 20 seconds to your morning ritual. That’s how much longer women wait to get their coffee compared to men, according to a study by Middlebury College economics professor Caitlin Knowles Myers, Myers and five of her students timed 295 transactions at eight Boston-area coffee shops. Her study controlled for complicating factors, including the complexity of the drink order (skinny? soy? 3 percent milk?), the appearance of the customer, and the length of the line. But even after accounting for these factors, women waited about 20 seconds longer.

What do we want? Skinny, half-caf soy Frappuccino® with no whip!

When do we want 'em? NOW!

Posted by John Kranz at 6:51 PM | What do you think? [2]
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

Odd, I just was at a Seattle's Best Coffee shop in Ithaca NY yesterday and ordered a REGULAR CUP OF JOE. Took roughly 45 seconds to complete the transaction and attractive baristas got all all the change as a tip. A buck plus. Now if I were a woman, would I tip them as much? Do you think this might influence the service? Of course, this is Ithaca and it is a veritable cornucopia of attractive women with ... differing tastes in partners.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at November 24, 2007 8:39 PM
But jk thinks:

Awesome point, mdmh. I don't know how your Harvard connections are but you should write the good professor. I think it's safe to say -- perhaps anywhere but Harvard -- that women are a little more stingy with the tips.

Posted by: jk at November 25, 2007 11:10 AM

November 23, 2007

Reagan, Thatcher, Sarkozy!

Air traffic controllers, mine workers, rail workers. The NY Sun says Collapse of Rail, Subway Strike Is a First Success for Sarkozy

"We think a dynamic of return to work has begun," Julie Vion, a spokeswoman for France's state-owned railroad network, SNCF, said.

Union leaders began to concede defeat yesterday. "We have to face reality. Since yesterday's negotiations, things have changed. The strike is no longer the solution. The strike strategy is no longer winning," a leader of the Sud union representing Paris underground railway workers, Philippe Touzet, said in an interview with Bloomberg News.


A few days ago, it was called a daring move that would make him a five year lame duck if he failed. Audaces fortuna juvat, Monsieur Presidente! Fortune favors the brave.

Hat-tip: Insty.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 2:33 PM | What do you think? [2]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

In "Paradise Lost," Satan says, "To reign is worth ambition though in Hell: Better to reign in Hell, then serve in Heav'n." Or put another way, it might be Hell, but at least he's the boss.

Sarkozy knows better. One can be captain of a sinking ship, but it's still a sinking ship. Sarkozy knows that despite the modern Gallic proclivity for laziness, something has to be done to revive France's economy. Right now it's in heavy competition with Germany for that dubious title of "the sick man of Europe," as Ireland once was. Ireland grew itself out of economic woes by, surprise surprise, cutting taxes to attract businesses.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at November 27, 2007 3:36 PM
But jk thinks:

One hundred bonus points for quoting Milton.

Posted by: jk at November 27, 2007 4:31 PM

What About Teal Tuesday?

Is Black Friday really the busiest shopping day of the year?

Between 1993 and 2002, it cracked the top five just three times, never rising higher than the fourth-busiest day of the year, according to snopes.com, a Web site that debunks urban myths.

I almost [spot the operative word in this sentence] wanted to get up and see how many people were at Kohl's for their 4AM opening today. I made a schedule while watching football: Kohl's at four, BestBuy at five, Target at six and Macy's at seven. I think Dante described something similar.

The early word seems to be pretty positive, though the AP reporter Anne D'innocenzio can't bear to type it.

NEW YORK - Shoppers — shrugging off a spate of lead-tainted toy recalls and higher prices for food and gas — jammed stores before dawn Friday to grab discounted TVs, toys and the hard-to-find Nintendo Wii, for the official start of the holiday season, expected to be the weakest retail showing in five years.

Stores, including Toys "R" Us and Macy's Inc. said more people were showing up this year for pre-dawn specials but merchants need them to keep coming throughout the holiday season to make their sales goals.

Hat-tip: Everyday Economist

Posted by John Kranz at 2:01 PM | What do you think? [2]
But Charlie on the PA Turnpike thinks:

I was driving past Sam's Club and Wal*Mart at 5AM. Unlike you, it wasn't because I was specifically curious, but it was because I was on my way to work. Regardless, those lots were as full as you would expect them to be after sunrise on such a day.

Don't forget, also, the so-called CyberMonday, when people go back to the office and shop from work (unbeknownst, allegedly, to their bosses - who are also probably shopping!).

Black Friday will always ebb and flow, not unlike the climate. And since many of the retails chains offered online sales almost as good as those in the stores at 4AM, its very likely those sales took away from the elbowing this morning!

Oh well.. time to go home!

Posted by: Charlie on the PA Turnpike at November 23, 2007 3:46 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I had noticed the same pessimistic article. I've been meaning to blog about that -- and the Strange Case of the Changing AP Headline. Or maybe not so strange?

Apparently Martin Crutsinger and Jeanne Aversa were on vacation. The AP had to have another bear journalist fill in.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at November 27, 2007 4:46 PM

November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving, John Stossel

When I am President, I will hand out medals to Jimmy Pethokoukis and John Stossel. Today, Stossel shares the lost lesson of Thanksgiving.

When the Pilgrims first settled the Plymouth Colony, they organized their farm economy along communal lines. The goal was to share everything equally, work and produce.

They nearly all starved.


It's the Tragedy of the Commons, served with Pumpkin Pie.
What private property does -- as the Pilgrims discovered -- is connect effort to reward, creating an incentive for people to produce far more. Then, if there's a free market, people will trade their surpluses to others for the things they lack. Mutual exchange for mutual benefit makes the community richer.

Secure property rights are the key. When producers know that their future products are safe from confiscation, they will take risks and invest. But when they fear they will be deprived of the fruits of their labor, they will do as little as possible.


And they still let this guy be on ABC.

Hat-tip: Prof Mankiw who also brings us the Milton Friedman Choir


But mdmhvonpa thinks:

They have him as their designated 'cod piece'. Of course, since he is a libertarian, he has no problem ripping into whatever he fancies. I LOVE it when he takes a crack at Public Education and No Child Left Behind.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at November 21, 2007 6:11 PM

Tomorrow's Inflation Basket

We've been having a fascinating [we do know how to have a good time!] discussion of monetary policy and inflation around here.

The American Magazine links to an American Farm Bureau report that details the cost of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner for ten. It's up to 42 bucks this year, but it's growing at a rate lower than inflation:

The AFBF survey was first conducted in 1986. This year’s average cost of $42.26 is equivalent to $20.46 in inflation-adjusted dollars. The real dollar cost of the Thanksgiving dinner has declined 9 percent in the last 20 years, according to Sartwelle. While Farm Bureau does not make any statistical claims about the data, it is a gauge of price trends around the nation.

I'm constantly told that the CPI and PCE are underestimating inflation and that core CPI is meaningless because food, energy, education and health care costs are making real inflation worse.

I think this study puts a fork in the food commodities claim [little holiday humor there -- put a fork in it...]. The health care claim is specious because a richer society chooses to spend more on health care, that is not inflationary. Education is over-regulated and subsidized by Government, surely the price data is suspect as best. Energy is over-regulated, cartelized, and subject to demand pressures in an unprecedented global boom.

Give thanks, inflation is under control! Pass the yams, please.

But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I've never referred to either calculation of CPI to justify my belief about inflation, since either one is still a basket.

The prices of basic flash memory MP3 players keeps dropping. The 8-gig Sandisk e280 costs as much as what I paid 15 months ago for a 2-gig version. The 2-gig version now costs half of what it did. Does that mean inflation is dropping, that the money supply has been deflated to half? Hardly. So why do we think the price of a Thanksgiving dinner necessarily indicates inflation, when it's too small a subset of goods and services to be a good measure? It also doesn't take into account that grocery stores are willing to make very small profit margins, if not go loss-leader, on major Thanksgiving items. The thinking is, and it often works out to a profit, is that customers will buy lots more things than Thanksgiving stuff while we're already there.

Also, I don't know what everyone else serves, but in a few hours my aunt will be hosting her usual Thanksgiving dinner of turkey, filet mignon, salmon, lobster and shrimp. Now what percentage of Americans do that, and how are the generally higher prices of Westchester County weighted against the rest of the population? Oh, and she probably bought a lot of the things in the Danbury-Bethel area of northwest Connecticut. How is that factored into her purchase, let alone the estimate of the whole U.S.?

Prices are generally higher in Westchester than the national average. Most gas stations in neighboring Putnam County are 20 to 30 cents per gallon cheaper. It isn't because we have higher inflation, it's because the population is generally much wealthier than the national average and will bid higher prices for goods and services. This includes the higher prices for land that people offer, which eventually translates into higher prices at the stores built upon the land.

Baskets are simply a silly way to calculate inflation.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at November 22, 2007 2:41 PM

Only In Boulder

Boulderites love the phrase "Only In Boulder." It is used as a compliment. I saw a guy at the dog park in a tux and high tops last night -- OIB...

The city has much to recommend it. I am not impervious to its charms, but I am deeply suspicious of its politics. David Harsanyl, a Denver Post reporter who has written a book about the Nanny State, has a frightening story about its capital:

The story is so absurd, so unfair, so ludicrous, I had a difficult time believing that it could actually happen - even in Boulder.

You have to read the whole thing. The short version is that a couple bought a piece of property in the 80s and did not develop it. When they tried to build a house in 2006, they found that a Boulder bigwig now owned a significant piece of it:
Former Boulder District Judge, Boulder Mayor, RTD board member - among other elected positions - Richard McLean and his wife, attorney Edith Stevens, used an arcane common law called "adverse possession" to claim the land for their own.

All McLean needed was to develop an

"attachment" to it.

Undoubtedly, his city connections couldn't have hurt, either.


I certainly think Kelo v. New London was poorly decided, but it pales against this. Because this guy frequently trespassed, it is now his. And he will get away with it,

Only in Freaking Boulder.

Hat-tip: Insty (oddly, the place I learn about something that happened ten miles from my home...)

Colorado Posted by John Kranz at 11:08 AM | What do you think? [3]
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

Not an uncommon law unfortunately. I've heard of this before in a lot of places. This is why when children trespass on your land as a 'short cut', all them old farts yelling at them know the real deal. If it gets used enough, it can be seized!

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at November 21, 2007 6:54 PM
But jk thinks:

That's a drag for property rights. However, I will really enjoy owning the Starbucks drive-thru...

Posted by: jk at November 21, 2007 7:37 PM
But jk thinks:

Amazon just let me know that Harsanyl's book has shipped. I had to buy it after reading the whole title: "Nanny State: How Food Fascists, Teetotaling Do-Gooders, Priggish Moralists, and other Boneheaded Bureaucrats are Turning America into a Nation of Children"

Posted by: jk at November 22, 2007 12:22 PM

What Experience?

Quite possibly the most annoying thing about Hillary Clinton is the claim that she has some type of experience in the White House. She has repeated said things like, and I am paraphrasing, "the President of the United States is not a position where you want to see on the job training." This would ultimately limit our options for president in 2008 to Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush. Of course, according to her logic, this includes her as well.

Thus when she asserted her experience in dealing with economic issues, it was nice to see Obama respond to Hillary's baseless claims with this:


My understanding was that she wasn't Treasury Secretary during the Clinton administration. I'm not sure what experience she is claiming . . .

Here is the complete audio.

2008 Race Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 8:57 AM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

I love this! Pitting her eight years of hosting dinners and hectoring her husband against Senator Edwards's time suing Doctors and Senator Obama's weighty years on the city council. I cannot imagine that it holds a lot of sway with Democratic primary voters and it will certainly backfire in a general election, when she faces a Republican with actual experience.

Of course, she can always ask President Clinton to release records from the archive to show how much she contributed. And where the Rose Law Records were. And a few other juicy details, no doubt.

Posted by: jk at November 21, 2007 10:57 AM

November 20, 2007

Don't Tell the "High Life' Man

Even the NYTimes is reporting good news from Baghdad today, Breitbart finds
Baghdad by night -- juice bars, neon lights, bustling streets

And then, suddenly, you've arrived and the mirage has become an oasis of generator-driven light; a colourful jumble of trendy juice bars, cosy restaurants, fruit shops, roadside eateries and fish vendors, where children play, families dine and lovers meet.

"Even two or three months ago we would have been afraid to come here at night," said 20-year-old Hussein Salah, an off-duty soldier, slurping a milkshake with his wife, Shihad, at the Mishmesha (apricot) juice bar in Baghdad's relatively safe Karrada suburb.

"Now we sometimes sit outside here till one or two in the morning. It is quite safe. The security situation is vastly improved," said Salah, the orange light from a nearby flashing palm alternatively brightening and dimming his clean-shaven face.

Declines in Iraqi civilian casualties and a sharp reduction in bomb and mortar attacks have sparked optimism that the capital is at last starting to revive.


It's a short step from juice bars to Appletinis, however, and soon I fear the Miller High Life Man will pull up in an armored Humvee and revoke some poor Iraqi's Miller license...

Hat-tip: Hugh

But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Strange, I can't post a reply to this one.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at November 22, 2007 3:04 PM

Fred! on Larry

In fairness, I have to post that Senator Fred Thompson was superb in his interview with Larry Kudlow on CNBC last week. I should have captured some YouTube clips. I only keep two episodes and now it has been deleted. I was surprised to find nobody else posted any clips.

Fred! looked great, answering questions with conviction on tax cutting and regulation limiting. At the same time, he passed some opportunities to pander. When Lowes CEO John Tisch suggested lowering the corporate capital gains rate, Senator Thompson considered it without a knee-jerk acceptance that his interviewer and the other guest clearly wanted.

It was the best interview I have seen Senator Thompson give and it firmly cemented Fred's #2 spot on my GOP list.

Governor Romney was on the next night and I found him a lot less impressive. Both Hizzoner and Fred! spoke from deep conviction on pro-growth policies. Governor Romney seems much more political. I hate to use this adjective against a good Republican, but he seems almost Clintonian at times. In fairness, I should note that Romney's interview captivated Kudlow guest James Awad, who declared him "the best President for the stock market."

I also wonder if I need to subtract points from Mayor Giuliani -- I did not know that Larry was a key advisor during his tenure as mayor. I read this in the cover story of this month's Reason magazine. The campaign chose not to participate in the interview (wha?) but the author claims Kudlow was the architect of Giuliani's tax cutting. Assuming that's true, it's no wonder Rudy! would have so many of the right answers at the ready.

I'm still with Hizzoner, but I had to post this in fairness to the Fredheads around here. He was in top form last Thursday.

2008 Race Posted by John Kranz at 4:14 PM

November 19, 2007

Me Work?

I have to be onsite all day today and most of tomorrow. I'll sneak in some reading but no posting.

I didn't want you to think I stopped caring...

UPDATE: Don't miss ThreeSources friend Everyday Economist's superb column on TCSDaily.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:00 AM

November 17, 2007

Before it scrolls away

Interesting comments brewing against my suggestion in Au Shucks.

All of it negative, sigh.

But johngalt thinks:

Not ALL negative. Thanks for the re-post. I hadn't read beyond Perry's initial comment before your reminder.

Posted by: johngalt at November 18, 2007 12:32 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Since comments are disabled there now, and since I don't want to be accused of sniping for the last word, here is my final comment from 'Au Shucks' in a commentable forum to allow further criticism (or support) of JK's ideas. :)

This is great stuff and I'm learning much from you guys clearly more versed in economic theory than I am. From the sidelines it is apparent the arguments are not "pro-" one side or the other but "anti-" the other side. It's that old "representative democracy isn't the ideal form of government, it's just better than all the others" refrain.

While I fully appreciate all of JK's objections to a fixed money supply I'm more opposed to the US fiat Dollar in its present realization. Perry wrote, "If productivity (which includes technology advancement) offsets inflation, how much better off would we be if we had the same productivity gains *without* a central bank to devalue our wealth? [This is complementary to the point I often make about our potential prosperity in the absence of punitive taxation.] I'll also add that it's a myth that we need inflation for growth. Economies can grow just fine without central planners/bankers. Even 1% per annum inflation is harmful to Scrooge (...) The only beneficiary is the pure spender, chief of which is government."

But there is another beneficiary of constant, carefully cultivated inflation: The central bankers, for whom inflation amounts to their ROI for the "service" of printing, distributing, and retiring all of those fiat Dollars.

When the government and the central bank both benefit from inflation, what do you suppose we'll have?

And this leaves us with Perry's lament: "In theory, if you have men of good character and intentions, they can come close enough with central banking. In theory. However, reality has shown otherwise."

Posted by: johngalt at November 19, 2007 1:38 PM
But jk thinks:

I don't think comments are closed on the other post jg, but I appreciate your setting me up for a few more days of disapprobation...

The discussion has ranged far and wide. I remain at the ready to defend the concept of "finite but unbounded," but I think the base level disagreement is likely my claim that efficiencies in trade and technology are deflationary -- as contrasted to Perry and EE's belief in a rigid, corporeal, and quantifiable money supply.

Let's solve this with a time machine: Beam up 1982 man, all his money and a couple of those really narrow ties. Let's take him shopping:

-- if he smokes, he will surely faint when he sees $4/pack cigarettes, but hey, smoking's bad for you;

-- milk and bread prices are higher, gas prices are astronomical: "Aha jk, see we have proven inflation!" And you're right;

-- At the same time, I am going to take him to Wal*Mart to look at the TVs and portable music devices. Never mind the iPod and plasma, the things that are familiar to him are going to appear amazingly cheap. Let's go to Kohl's next and shop for leather jackets and a basic Men's suit.

The stuff I showed him is all ridiculously cheap, yet folks around here will look me in the eye and say that that does not in any way mitigate the higher prices he sees.

He’ll see that the $500 computer has replaced the $40,000 typesetting machine, obviated the photostat camera, and is pretty close to replacing audio recording equipment worth tens of thousands. (I have 16 digital tracks in my house -- I used to pay a lot to rent a lot less).

None of this is not going to show up in your measures of money. Because it does not fit your equations, you pretend it is not there. Art Laffer, and Larry Kudlow and I see it and realize that it offsets inflation.

Lastly, Perry considers constant inflation worse that deflationary shocks and is surprised I disagree. I take this right out of Chairman Bernanke's book and think it is borne out by history. Deflation is harder to recover from and more likely to cascade into full blown recessions.

And yes, she sounds awesome. Congrats again.

Posted by: jk at November 19, 2007 7:31 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Well, you're again confusing prices from supply and demand with prices from true inflation.

That $4 per pack of cigarettes doesn't accurately show what happens with the money supply, since it's not the product of inflation, but rather government intervention both ways. The federal government subsidizes tobacco farmers, while the states and cities tax the end products. Somehow I don't think federalism was supposed to work that way.

Coffee in the early 1990s experienced a huge price surge that some people improperly called "inflation." Similarly, world corn and sugar prices are extraordinarily high compared to the years before the ethanol craze.

Even excluding examples of government intervention, sudden surges in prices are still not inflation. South Korea, for example, has experienced continual "inflation" as its people earned more money from exports. But the same thing would have happened with a commodity-backed money supply as easily as with fiat: it's a normal market adjustment as people acquire greater wealth and thus bid up the prices of both domestic and imported goods.

Oh, I meant to blog a long time ago that Venezuela is experiencing a rise in prices, because of its increasing wealth thanks to oil. Instead of letting prices adjust, instead of letting money flow to the people, Chavez would rather blame "evil imperialistic capitalists," nationalize everything profitable, tax everything else so other industries and their workers don't have money, nationalize schools to indoctrinate people, and now shoot those who still dissent.

Real economists have looked at the prices of gold, oil, copper, etc., and realized that increased global demand just doesn't explain the surge in prices. Bernanke and his cronies decide on a rate cut; oil subsequently surges. Why? Because traders know there will be more dollars out there. Not more wealth, just more dollars. So the first trader figures he'll have that many more dollars to bid on a million barrels of light sweet crude, and other traders must follow suit.

You're sort of putting words into my mouth when you say I pretend technological advances aren't there and, I suppose you're saying, offset inflation. I separate technology and monetary phenomenon because they're not inextricably linked. The former does not need the latter, and the latter often inhibits the former by skewing market forces. Again, if it's so good that cheap imported goods offset our domestic inflation, how much better off would we be if we didn't have the inflation at all?

http://eidelblog.blogspot.com/2005/11/how-government-invisibly-confiscates.html

Going back to my old post there, I point out that when a central bank is so concerned about price stability, and when it calculates "basket" prices, it either encourages the production of something beyond what the free market would dictate (because it causes the price of something to rise), or it discourages production by keeping the price stable. Entrepreneurs who we need doing the latter will forsake the opportunities for the former. We *don't* want government and its agencies to stabilize the prices of corn, sugar, oil, etc. -- we want government to leave the prices alone, so entrepreneurs can judge what commodities we need more of, and discover new and better ways to supply them.

"Deflation is harder to recover from and more likely to cascade into full blown recessions."

Actually, this is a myth several decades old that the Keynesians introduced. The U.S. had several "panics" before the institution of the Federal Reserve, but nothing on the order of the Great Depression. The key is to leave people free to adjust interest rates on their own: when money becomes more valuable, interest rates will adjust themselves automatically, with no need for a central bank, so that borrowers and lenders will always find a balance. Under our centrally planned lending system, borrowers and lenders are told what the bottom rate is, which either sets their expectations too high (easy credit) or too low (unnecessary panics of a credit crunch).

Inflation is an untameable monster, though, and the tragedy is that it doesn't need to be. Central bankers are unavoidably Keynesians at heart, so they all believe inflation is necessary. Then there's the problem of their inability to stop producing more and more money, not just in line with population (like Milton Friedman proposed), but continually more than what's necessary. Like Don Boudreaux said a while back, government acts like inflation is so hard to stop, while universal health care is so easy to give.

Japan needlessly suffered deflation for years, when its central bank could have merely inflated the supply, rather than digging themselves into a liquidity trap (now in this Krugman was right) by tinkering with interest rates.

Greenspan & Co. were directly responsible for the 2001 recession by tightening credit too much, too fast, and Greenspan himself was an irresponsible twit for telling markets (not just the stock exchanges) that they were overheated. Is he God, that he knows better than the millions upon millions of people directly involved in the markets? He's a prime example of the arrogance of central bankers. Like I said, a central bank could theoretically work but only if it had men of good character and intentions. Yet Hayek would remind us that they still wouldn't have all the information and couldn't possibly know enough.

Anyway, I think I addressed everything.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at November 21, 2007 3:27 PM
But jk thinks:
Real economists have looked at the prices of gold, oil, copper, etc., and realized that increased global demand just doesn't explain the surge in prices.
Risking an argument with "Real Economists," I suggest that this points to the basic question: how much of price inflation is demand and how much is inflation? That these REs need to perform penetrating analyses supports my belief that it is not as clear cut as you posit.
I separate technology and monetary phenomenon because they're not inextricably linked.
I pointed to trade, productivity, and technology: three strong anti-inflationary forces. Designing a plane, one needs consider lift and weight, balancing the forces in both directions for stable flight. You (and EE I believe) refuse to believe in or account for these forces because they are not in your model. The fact is that productivity, trade and technology are three strong counter-inflationary (I'm comfortable calling them deflationary) forces.

Because the Great Depression happened under a hapless Fed doesn't really argue for the gold standard. I'd suggest a Bernanke-style inflation target without the dual mandate. That would lean us toward harder money which might make us both happy. I suggested that I'd accept a Friedmanite "computer Fed" as well. But a gold peg? No thanks.

Posted by: jk at November 21, 2007 6:24 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

"Risking an argument with "Real Economists," I suggest that this points to the basic question: how much of price inflation is demand and how much is inflation? That these REs need to perform penetrating analyses supports my belief that it is not as clear cut as you posit."

My use of "real economists" isn't meant to be disparaging, but only to separate economists who consider all factors objectively from economists and pundits who ignore inflation's role in driving prices.

The point is that, absent government intervention, prices are driven purely by supply and demand. However, government intervention (including when it uses central banking) has been skewing the prices of gold, oil, etc., by far more than supply and demand alone. So there's another factor at play, and it's inflation. True inflation, caused by a central bank. Do you understand why crude prices were going up the morning the Fed was expected to announce the half-point cut? I myself was betting on no change, going by Bernanke's old reputation as an inflation targetter. I was wrong.

"I pointed to trade, productivity, and technology: three strong anti-inflationary forces."

Those aren't counter to inflation, though. They will tend to push prices down, yes, but we must be precise in our terminology: remember that inflation is purely a monetary phenomenon. Trade, productivity and technology affect the forces of supply and demand. Those are separate from the influence of currencies' value.

"Because the Great Depression happened under a hapless Fed doesn't really argue for the gold standard."

It didn't merely happen "under a hapless Fed." The Fed *caused* it all. Coolidge and Congress cut taxes massively in the 1920s, which helped spur the great economic growth, but the Fed was also inflating the money supply and lending far too much to monetary institutions. Much is said in economic history classes about people buying stocks on low margins, on the hope they could flip soon soon and make a profit. It's rarely pointed out that people could do that only because the Fed made so much money available at low interest rates. It's almost as rarely pointed out that the Fed cut the money supply by a *third*.

Deflation doesn't necessarily cause recessions, and even so, an economy can still grow its way out of it. But it can't if the central bank forcibly perpetuates the deflation via its monetary policies. And as I said, the answer is easy: the central bank need only inflate the economy out of the deflation it caused. Notice my frequent use of "caused," because that's precisely what happens with central banking: it *causes* the artificial ups and downs.

"I'd suggest a Bernanke-style inflation target without the dual mandate."

Even Bernanke couldn't follow that, because he bended to politics and the limelight. As Don Luskin blogged some time back, Greenspan did pretty well when he directly or indirectly used the price of gold as a barometer. It might not make sense at first, but I explain it thus: effectively it was traders who were reminding the Fed of how much money it was producing. But then Greenspan grew to love the limelight, and as a self-anointed economic superstar, he became a politician and speechmaker.

Power corrupts. Effective central banking requires three things: good character, good intentions, and perfect knowledge. Any two out of the three are insufficient, and I'm not sure there's a single Fed member who has even one.

The problem with computer modeling is the question of who gets to write the algorithm. Remember that economists use all sorts of computer models today to analyze past economic performance, forecast future economic indicators, and justify why they must muck things up even more.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at November 22, 2007 2:18 PM

November 15, 2007

VDH

Professor Hanson points out that the gains in Iraq are not getting the press that Abu Ghraib did. Ever cautious, he wonders if we have indeed passed a turning point:

Nevertheless, we may be witnessing one of those radical, unforeseen reversals in America's wars that have often changed our history.

The White House was burned by British forces in late August 1814; a little more than four months later, the British were routed at New Orleans. During the Civil War, the Union army was on the ropes in July 1864 yet outside Atlanta by September. The Germans were driving through France in March 1918, but fleeing toward the Rhine by August. The communists took Seoul in early January 1951, yet were pushed back across the Demilitarized Zone a little more than three months later.

Of course, we don't know the final outcome in Iraq, given the remaining problems of Shiite militias and diehard al-Qaidists - and the question of our own remaining resolve.


Hat-tip: Hugh

Media and Blogging Posted by John Kranz at 6:59 PM

I'm Doing My Part

The amount of traffic flowing through Starbucks Corp.'s U.S. stores fell during the fourth quarter for the first time since the company began disclosing the figure three years ago – a sign that the Seattle coffee giant is having a more difficult time attracting customers as it moves into the holiday season. The company also reduced its earnings estimates for the coming year.

Starbucks also plans to launch its first national television advertising campaign ever starting tomorrow. In an interview, Starbucks CEO Jim Donald called the campaign "a very culturally sensitive, product driven" marketing effort. He says Starbucks is getting into television advertising because "as we grow our stores, we're trying to reach out to this broader audience that maybe [has] not had a chance to experience Starbucks."

Mr. Donald said that the dip in average transactions per store in the U.S., which fell by 1%, was not a sign that the company had built stores too quickly in the U.S. or that the market was showing signs of saturation. "The saturation comment's overblown," he said.

He said Starbucks now plans to open 1,600 stores in the U.S. next year, or 100 less than it had projected earlier in the fall, because the company is "taking a little more deliberate approach."


This from the soon to be free WSJ News pages. Before earnings were announced, the Journal ran another article on the saturation question.
Jokes about the ubiquity of Starbucks have become almost as common as the coffeeshops themselves. There are so many, a comic once cracked, that one had just opened in his living room.

Starbucks has about 10,500 locations in the U.S., or about 3,000 more than it did just two years ago. In its hometown of Seattle, there is one Starbucks for every 10,000 residents. That doesn't mean there isn't room for more Starbucks in the U.S. For example, Vermont, the state with the fewest Starbucks locations, has just four. The company plans to almost double its presence in the U.S. by one day having 20,000 locations.


One cannot help but wonder about saturation. The number in a six mile radius from me has skyrocketed, yet I still find lines at unusual times in each one.

I hold these lines up as proof that times are not as bad as the Krugmanites say. When there's a long line at the Lafayette Starbucks at 4PM, I don't see that the consumer is tapped out.

UPDATE: I just went (poor guys, I felt bad). Four cars lined up at 4:24 -- I'm not shorting just yet.

Posted by John Kranz at 5:42 PM

November 14, 2007

Fortunes

Two good cookie inserts in as many weeks. The first may be my new all time favorite:
shininess.jpg



And the second is the archetypal advice to bloggers:
listening.jpg

Posted by John Kranz at 6:57 PM | What do you think? [2]
But AlexC thinks:

Confucious say, "Eat More Chinese Food"

Posted by: AlexC at November 14, 2007 10:27 PM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Ah, but don't eat Chinese food while blogging. You'll be posting again in an hour! ;-)

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at November 16, 2007 12:02 AM

Clarkson Vs. Monbiot

Samizdata picked this up as a "Quote of the Day," but the post must be read in full.

Climate Resistance asks "Why Monbiot is So miserable?" George Monbiot is a writer for the Guardian who makes Paul Krugman look balanced, and Dennis Kucinich moderate. I, like many, assumed Perry DeHavilland coined the phrase "Moonbat" in his honor -- Perry denies this.

The post discusses the relentless negativity of the European Left chattering classes, and compares it to the spirit and spunk of Top Gear:

George's problem is that the culture he wants us to be part of is entirely negative. In contrast to this cultural pessimism, Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May celebrate human achievements - however shallowly, and appear to risk their lives for their passions, while Monbiot considers us to be a destructive plague on the planet. Clarkson is a hero, and Monbiot is a chicken. Clarkson bumbles his own way into making history by doing dangerous things like driving to the North Pole, while Monbiot twitches behind his curtains, tutting about what other people are getting up to. Clarkson, for all his faults, is full of spirit, letting bad things bounce off of him. Monbiot dwells on the fantasy dystopia he's read about. The irony here is that while the things that Top Gear represents are somewhat coarse, it is Monbiot's dark dark narrative which creates apathy. The only reason he can think of for organising our collective efforts is that if we don't, we will all drown. What George needs to realise is that people don't drive cars because they watch Top Gear, they watch top Gear because they love cars and the positive things that cars represent. Environmentalism offers us nothing positive.

If things were better, Top Gear would be just another program. But they aren't, and it's not. If we want to know why Clarkson is the last bastion of resistance to dull orthodoxies such as environmentalism and political correctness, don't watch Top Gear, read Monbiot - but don't take his word for it. It is relentlessly bleak, shrill and hollow. The cultural norms that environmentalism wants to establish have been established within the political and cultural elite, yet he continues to whine that the masses will not march to his command. Monbiot will tell you that people don't want it because they are influenced by the cultural dominance of Top Gear, but the truth is that people have a much better understanding of their own interests, and a better nose for bullshit than he gives them credit for. They are not blindly following the doctrine of Clarksonism, and shame on Monbiot that he thinks they are. People are resistant to Monbiotism precisely because they are not blindly obedient.


Top Gear is probably the funniest TV program in the world. Though I think it was better before they discovered it was funny and started trying, it is one show I will not miss.

Clarkson is a British conservative. He has no love for anything American unless it has four wheels and was made before Nixon was President, but he has a zest for life that the left has completely abandoned.

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 5:41 PM

The Unitary Executive

"I'm John Edwards and I approve this message." It's clearly unconstitutional, but it beats the heck out of a Musharref-like promise to disband Congress and institute Socialized medicine by Executive Fiat (we know, we tested each on focus groups).




Besides, my hair looks really good in the light, and that syrupy background music is just perfect.

Hat-tip: RedState

Posted by John Kranz at 1:48 PM

Layers

This is an effect of the layers upon layers of editorial oversight in the mainstream media.

In a Nov. 13 story, The Associated Press incorrectly reported that Paris Hilton was praised by conservationists for highlighting the problem of binge-drinking elephants in northeastern India. Lori Berk, a publicist for Hilton, said she never made any comments about helping drunken elephants in India.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say there isn't a binge-drinking elephant problem in India.

Just a hunch.

But jk thinks:

Don Luskin tells about the New York Times reporting that VP Al Gore will be donating his salary to charity, but not mentioning that it is his charity. Layers and layers.

Posted by: jk at November 14, 2007 1:38 PM

Au Shucks

Picking a fight with my economic betters again, I commented on Everyday Economist blog (backstory here). The EE sent me a couple of thoughtful emails.

I'm willing to concede on all his economic points, but I'm not abandoning my defense of David Frum's main point: it is a mistake (Frum calls it "crank monetary policy") for Rep. Ron Paul to expound on the gold standard. Considering all of the abuses to our freedom that our government practices, it seems to me that he is dwelling on a fringe issue. Even if I agreed with the good Doctor, I wouldn't advise a candidate to highlight it as Rep. Paul has.

Feel free to disagree. Last night, however, I thought of a philosophical objection to the Gold Standard. Since I have a blog login, I thought I would share my own "crank monetary policy" with you good people.

Why Gold Is Inferior to Paper Money
Money is virtual. Wealth is created, ex nihilo and it makes no sense to have currency tied to a limited, real asset. Just as man learned to count higher than ten by using numbers instead of fingers, we must grow into a post-metallist economy that allows wealth to exceed the planet's physical assets. We make microchips out of sand and software out of thought; we should not be limited to Earth's resources.

By being limited, gold backed wealth is zero-sum. Imagine if Bill Gates wants to have all his wealth in money, so he can roll around in it a la Scrooge McDuck. Hey, it's his money. Without reserve banking, will there be enough money for him? What if he wants to double it? If the world's money is all tied to Gold, every dollar that Mr. Gates earns is a dollar somebody else does not have. That is not the way wealth works.

"Aha, jk, you are conflating wealth and money," you say. "You bastard," you might add. I'll ignore the name calling, but address the point. Wealth and money are separate precisely because we have separated them. I know it is extreme to call this wealth limiting, but it strikes me as a step away from the creation of virtually-denominated wealth that I celebrate.

But jk thinks:

You're absolutely right about Ebenezer. And your point about infinite wealth is well taken. I want to spotlight the lack of limits on wealth. Let me leave economics and borrow from physics: wealth is finite but unbounded.

As silly as an inflation basket is, I reject the idea that you can turn to MZM -- or Gold -- and capture a true measure of money, prices, or inflation. You cannot capture the gains from productivity and trade. Inflation is indeed a monetary phenomenon, but you cannot accurately measure money.

Trade is deflationary because of efficiencies, just like productivity. Increased demand may raise the prices of commodities, but comparative advantage will lower the cost of manufactured goods and relocatable services. That sounds pretty familiar to me. Gold is up, laptops are down. You newly affianced guys (congrats, by the way) have to buy Gold, but I can get my wife a new iPod or laptop for our 25th Anniversary next year, and she'll be happy.

I don't think you "need" inflation for prosperity, but I do think you need to avoid deflationary shocks. You see what could have been as the gains we made without inflation, I would question whether there would have been enough liquidity to make the productivity gains we made. Keep in mind I'm a bubble lover. It's not liquidity I love, it's excess liquidity.

Posted by: jk at November 15, 2007 5:34 PM
But Everyday Economist thinks:

Okay, there are several things that need to be discussed here:

1.) The gold standard is not zero sum.

Suppose, for example, that every country used the same fiat currency (for simplicity, the US dollar). At any given time there are a fixed amount of dollars. According to jk, when central banks print more money this leads to greater wealth. While individuals certainly may have money, each dollar is worth less. If the money supply doubles, prices double.

2.) Wealth is not to be confused with money.

Prosperity comes as a result of economic growth and innovation, not by printing more money.

3.) Contrary to the Kudlow-school, innovation, economies of scale, and specialization are not deflationary in the long-run.

In the long-run, inflation = money growth. As long as the money stock is growing, the overall price level is rising regardless of whether computers and iPods are getting cheaper.

4.) There are accurate measures of money.

Recall, for example, the quantity theory of money:

MV = PY

Money*Velocity = Nominal GDP growth

(this is why Perry is correct to bring up velocity in regards to the gold standard)

this can also be written as the sum of the growth rates:

Money growth + velocity growth = inflation + real GDP growth

Since velocity is relatively constant, one easy way to get an accurate level of inflation is to compute the following:

M2 growth - real GDP growth = inflation

Posted by: Everyday Economist at November 15, 2007 8:00 PM
But jk thinks:

On Kudlow & Co. the other night several guests were arguing about your first equation. It was pretty funny. I should defer to you on all matters of technical economics. I appreciate your additional training and knowledge and don't mean to downplay it.

However...

I still have to hang with my buddies, Larry K and Art Laffer, on the effective deflation created by the Wal*Mart effect, technology, and productivity gains. I can buy better things for less -- which is tautologically deflationary. It offsets the rising commodity prices that the same global growth causes.

None of those offsets shows up in your equations. Therefore, even though I recognize inflation as a monetary phenomenon (I am a Friedmanite at heart), I reject the ability of your equations to accurately measure the "buying power" of money.

The zero sum gold argument is about perception and not economics. I prefer the idea of virtual currency because it correlates to my idea of virtual, unbounded wealth. Sorry if you and Perry don't like it. I cannot prove its superiority on a chart, and I recognize its susceptibility to political manipulation ("fiat money" as Perry says).

Yet at heart, I believe in birthright liberty and ex nihilo wealth creation. The former reinforces my dedication to self-directed government, with all its attendant problems. The latter reinforces my objections to metallism, with all its attended benefits.

Posted by: jk at November 17, 2007 10:57 AM
But Everyday Economist thinks:

Inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon.

If I can buy something better for less, the is a productivity gain and increases my prosperity (I just wrote about this here), but it does not create deflationary pressure.

Inflation, by definition, is the rise in the overall price level. Just because computers and iPods are getting better and cheaper does not mean that these phenomena are deflationary. The price level is still rising in spite of these gains (whether measured by any variation of the CPI, the PCE, or the GDP deflator).

Imagine you have the only Corvette in the entire world. This Corvette could be worth quite a bit. However, then suppose that a new Corvette is introduced into the market. How does this effect the value of your Corvette? (It goes down, for those in Rio Linda.) Money is the same. The more dollars that are in circulation, the less each dollar is worth. The less each dollar is worth, more dollars are required to purchase the same goods.

Innovation, specialization, trade liberalization, and technological advancement can lower some prices and increase our prosperity, but as long as the money supply is increasing, overall prices will still be rising.

Posted by: Everyday Economist at November 17, 2007 11:41 AM
But johngalt thinks:

This is great stuff and I'm learning much from you guys clearly more versed in economic theory than I am. From the sidelines it is apparent the arguments are not "pro-" one side or the other but "anti-" the other side. It's that old "representative democracy isn't the ideal form of government, it's just better than all the others" refrain.

While I fully appreciate all of JK's objections to a fixed money supply I'm more opposed to the US fiat Dollar in its present realization. Perry wrote, "If productivity (which includes technology advancement) offsets inflation, how much better off would we be if we had the same productivity gains *without* a central bank to devalue our wealth? [This is complementary to the point I often make about our potential prosperity in the absence of punitive taxation.] I'll also add that it's a myth that we need inflation for growth. Economies can grow just fine without central planners/bankers. Even 1% per annum inflation is harmful to Scrooge (...) The only beneficiary is the pure spender, chief of which is government."

But there is another beneficiary of constant, carefully cultivated inflation: The central bankers, for whom inflation amounts to their ROI for the "service" of printing, distributing, and retiring all of those fiat Dollars.

When the government and the central bank both benefit from inflation, what do you suppose we'll have?

And this leaves us with Perry's lament: "In theory, if you have men of good character and intentions, they can come close enough with central banking. In theory. However, reality has shown otherwise."

Posted by: johngalt at November 18, 2007 12:29 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I was busy for a few days, and I'm pleased EE could jump in. A few things, jk:

"Let me leave economics and borrow from physics: wealth is finite but unbounded."

This statement is self-contradictory, actually. That's one problem with modern physics/astronomy: most scientists want to talk about a finite universe, but then they say "finite but without bounds." But if it's finite, by definition it must not have limits.

Anyway, again you're confusing money with wealth. We create new wealth all the time. We don't need new an infinite amount of money in *any* form to create an inifinite amount of MP3 players, cars or houses. The money is only a vehicle.

"As silly as an inflation basket is, I reject the idea that you can turn to MZM -- or Gold -- and capture a true measure of money, prices, or inflation. You cannot capture the gains from productivity and trade. Inflation is indeed a monetary phenomenon, but you cannot accurately measure money."

Indeed we can. The Federal Reserve knows exactly how much more money it creates, and if it creates 10% more in a year, that's a true 10% inflation.

Now, how much will show in our daily lives? It all depends on how fast the information travels. If a central bank merely prints paper money, it will always take time for prices to reflect the increase in the money supply. Let's consider a scenario (a disastrous one) where the central bank wanted to create overnight inflation of 100% by doubling the money supply. If the Federal Reserve declared that it was exactly doubling MZM overnight, starting at midnight tonight, it could do so by electronically lending as much money as all the banks want (at negative interest rates if necessary) until MZM is doubled. The Fed can ship out as much paper money as necessary to meet demand, but since few people keep all their money in cash on their person, it's doubtful that banks and separate ATMs would run out of cash.

"Trade is deflationary because of efficiencies, just like productivity. Increased demand may raise the prices of commodities"

Well, as EE pointed out, the problem is that you confuse inflation/deflation with a change in prices. I should have been more precise, myself. In my own blog entry "How government invisibly confiscates wealth," I point out that this is the whole fallacy behind central banks' stated mission of "price stability": they ignore supply and demand, focusing entirely on maintaining the "basket" prices while obfuscating that they're the sole driving force behind real inflation.

Trade will lower prices, so then if lower prices are good, why doesn't a central bank cut the money supply in half? The sudden deflation would eventually cut prices in half for everyone, right?

"You newly affianced guys (congrats, by the way) have to buy Gold, but I can get my wife a new iPod or laptop for our 25th Anniversary next year, and she'll be happy."

I had been planning on it, but my fiancee didn't want me buying her an engagement ring. She's rather we save the money for a house. Really, just how lucky can a guy be?

"but I do think you need to avoid deflationary shocks."

Occasional deflationary shocks, as opposed to one long inflationary shock since 1914?

"You see what could have been as the gains we made without inflation, I would question whether there would have been enough liquidity to make the productivity gains we made. Keep in mind I'm a bubble lover. It's not liquidity I love, it's excess liquidity."

I love the guy and all, but this is where Kudlow gets off into supply-sider nonsense. Economies create their own liquidity.

My oldest friend brought up a scenario he discussed with a co-worker. Let's consider an economy of three people. If I can remember it right, A and B decide to trade between each other, keeping all the money between themselves. C then has no money to use in trade.

However, C still won't be left out. All he has to do is offer his own goods and/or services, and either or both A and B will begin to trade with him, and using what? That's right, the money they had decided to hoard but *can't*, not if they want to trade. This goes back to my frequent point that whatever "the rich" save, it flows back into the rest of the economy. Someone might ask, what is C to do if he's just purely buying? That's just the thing, he can't by definition. As Bastiat pointed out, man is simultaneously both consumer and producer. In our real lives, we trade with our people, earn money, then use that money to trade with our people. Similarly, if C is "only buying," he must first create something of value to trade for what he wants. Let's say that A catches fish, can build a house, but can't chop wood very well. B chops wood, can kill deer, but can't catch fish very well. So they trade so that B will eat the fish he likes, and A can use wood to build his house. C can offer to build the house, if that's his comparative advantage, in exchange for fish. Or he can take wood and build furniture for B, should that happen to be his comparative advantage. There are an infinite number of possible combinations, which is the wondrous variety of the free market. Barter is inefficient, certainly, but when left to themselves, people will create money and liquidity as needed. They don't need evil or incompetent central bankers to destroy the value of their savings.

Forgive me for putting it this way, but you have a strange concept of wealth. As I said before, wealth *shouldn't* be infinite, otherwise it's meaningless. Wealth and money also shouldn't be able to come from nothing, for the very same reason. Now, no matter what government decrees (especially with health care and other elements of the welfare state), it cannot create wealth by fiat. But it tries to, by creating more money.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at November 19, 2007 2:12 PM

Quick Poll Results

This CBS News poll shows some bizarre results. In both New Hampshire and Iowa, Republican voters believe that Rudy is the most electable candidate. However, when asked who they would vote for, here are the results:

Iowa:

Romney 27%
Huckabee 21
Giuliani 15
Thompson 9
Paul 4
McCain 4

New Hampshire:

Romney 34%
McCain 16
Giuliani 16
Paul 8
Huckabee 6
Thompson 5

It is important to note that 14% of voters in each state are undecided.

Even more amusing is on the Democrats side:

The pollsters asked "Why Do You Support Your Candidate?"

Obama and Edwards receive support for honesty and agreement about the issues (which is what you would expect), however, Hillary Clinton's support is summarized as follows:

Right Experience 17%
Health Care 15
She's a Woman 13
Bill Clinton 9

Ah, the informed voting public.

2008 Race Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 8:35 AM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

I'm not sure it is irrational to vote for someone whom you do not consider the "most electable." Then again, if we're gong to vote for a candidate based on a spouse, sign me up for Team Kucinich!

Posted by: jk at November 14, 2007 12:28 PM

November 13, 2007

Rings Like Silver, Shines Like Klondike Gold

The Everyday Economist has a good post on the Gold Standard:

The gold standard has been gaining a great deal of attention recently, largely from Rep. Ron Paul who has main a return to gold-backed currency a major theme of his campaign. While I am hardly an advocate of the gold standard, it is unfortunate that much of the discussion of the gold standard has been riddled with inaccuracies and false causation.

The post refutes a David Frum piece where he publicly tells Rep Ron Paul supporters that a return to the Gold Standard is neither likely nor desirable.

EE successfully rebuts an implication the Great Depression was a byproduct of the Gold peg, but I suggest in a comment that Frum's deeper point may hold (Quoting myself, what an ego):

I agree that you cannot hang the Great Depression on the metallists, but Bernanke's "Targeting Inflation" warns of the serious consequences of deflationary shocks. Frum's overstepping does not invalidate the argument.

The post-Bretton Woods hyperinflation was destructive, but reasonably sound money under Volker, Greenspan, and Bernanke has provided manageable inflation, which I believe to be far superior to deflationary shocks. It may have hurt the people who put cash in their mattress in 1933, but modern investors don't have problems seeing real gains.


You can question Frum's economics, but his politics here are dead on. Metallism is a non-starter. Frum's suggestion that Paul drop "the crank monetary policy" should be heeded. Rep Pal would have more time to promote his less-assailable views on living within the Constitution.

Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 12:09 PM

November 12, 2007

Writers' Guild Strike

Galley Slave Jonathan V Last has a good post on the writers strike.

He provides a link to Jane Espenson's blog. She is blogging the picketing experience, complete with Lunches (beef shabu shabu with lots of those tiny clear noodles). Her first strike post is titled Hope Someone's Working on Witty Signs As we have remarked -- that didn't happen.

Last seems to land pretty close to me on the strike -- neither of us cry Norma Rae tears at he thought of collective bargaining, but Last presents some factual information about the demands, and provides a few good reasons to line up with the writers. He also floats a football riff:

Actors are quarterbacks, directors are running backs, and writers are offensive linemen. That's about how they contribute to the product, and how they're paid. And just like it was a welcome change when left tackles finally started being compensated more closely to their value a few years back, I think we should be happy to see writers moved a tiny bit closer to their real value.

Posted by John Kranz at 7:01 PM

Beware of Conservatives WIth Amendments

I never really recovered from receiving an issue of National Review with the Federal Marriage Amendment on the cover. Well, I'm okay, but my enthusiasm for the publication fell -- now my subscription has been lapsed for several months. Next time a niece or nephew is selling magazines, I'll renew.

I'd get behind an amendment repealing the sixteenth, I suppose, but a Constitutional Amendment is the mother of all gub'mint solutions to me, and those who question government power should be the most leery.

Free market icon Grover Norquist dives into the fray. John Fund tells us, in OpinionJournal's Political Diary, that he wants the government to tell us who cannot run for elected office:

Two generations after anti-nepotism laws began to open up civil-service positions to excluded groups like Jews and blacks, "the pendulum seems to be swinging the other way," says Adam Bellow, author of a book entitled "In Praise of Nepotism."

But there are countervailing pressures springing from the deep-seated American distrust of those who seem to ascend to high office in part through artificial privilege. More and more voters are bringing up the fact that if Hillary Clinton is elected and re-elected as president, two dynastic families will have shared the White House for an amazing 28 years.

That's why Grover Norquist, the conservative who runs Americans for Tax Reform, is a few weeks away from unveiling a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban family members from succeeding each other to elected or appointed office. As a parallel, he points out that term limits for the president were once unneeded because office-holders observed the Founders' wishes voluntarily. That changed when FDR broke the unwritten rule by running for a third and fourth term. Today, says Mr. Norquist, we need a formal ban on nepotism in the form of a "Protection From Families" amendment to our governing document.

"We're the United States of America. How can we say to President Mubarak [of Egypt], 'You can't hand off the presidency to your son,'... or, 'Hey Syria and North Korea, you've got to knock this stuff off and be like us,'" he told the London Times.

Mr. Norquist agrees nothing will change the natural human impulse to seek advantage for one's kin. But political dynasties don't sit well with most Americans. In 1960, a Scripps-Howard reporter won a Pulitzer Prize for the shocking revelation that one in five members of Congress had relatives on the official payroll.

Though his version wouldn't technically ban Hillary's run this year (since she wouldn't be directly succeeding her husband), Mr. Norquist, a long-time Republican strategist, knows such a debate would highlight an unattractive aspect of her candidacy. The issue is underlined by the recent presidential election in Argentina, where Cristina Kirchner, wife of current president Nestor Kirchner, will switch roles with him early next year. Her case shows the danger is high with presidential office, whose glamour and power can be handed off to one's relatives. Americans like to think of themselves as having a more mature democracy than that. Mr. Norquist's proposed amendment is a good starting point for a needed debate.


If Egyptian and Argentinean elections are as free and fair as ours, let them elect 1,000 Mubaraks Does Nasser have grandkids?

Norquist has made a career of asking Washington to trust the people. This seems out of character.

Posted by John Kranz at 2:22 PM

Climate Reason

AWG advocate Bjorn Lomborg has a nice piece in the Telegraph: Ignore Al Gore, but not his Nobel friends

While Gore was creating alarm with his belief that a 20-foot-high wall of water would inundate low-lying cities, the IPCC showed us we should realistically prepare for a rise of one foot or so by the end of the century. Beyond the dramatic difference, it is also worth putting that one foot in perspective. Over the last 150 years, sea levels rose about one foot - yet, did we notice?

Most tellingly, while Gore was raising fears about the Gulf Stream halting and a new Ice Age starting, the scientists discounted the prospect entirely.


Reasonable discussion -- sans hyperbole -- would serve the scientific community and the environment a lot better than the exaggerated claims of the doomsayers.

But johngalt thinks:

Wait a minute. Are you saying, "Objective reporting," of "objective science," WITHOUT a bunch of self-serving fear mongering? Pshaw! How's the medical marijuana stash holding out over there in Boulder County?

Posted by: johngalt at November 13, 2007 2:24 AM
But jk thinks:

Join me in a quick chorus of Kumbaya?

Posted by: jk at November 13, 2007 12:28 PM
But jk thinks:

Maybe it's a coincidence, jg, but the New York Times highlights new books with centrist views of global warming.

Posted by: jk at November 13, 2007 4:11 PM

November 11, 2007

Fred! on SNL

Okay, I know that there are some Fred! people around here, but this is a great sketch:


2008 Race Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 11:18 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Great? Really. I wouldn't even go so far as "good." They build an entire skit around a single slight, using the same joke over and over. Yawn. And the Jack McCoy impersonation is abominable.

Saturday Night Live - "Is that show still on?"

[Would I feel the same way if it were a Hillary spoof? I don't know, try me!]

Posted by: johngalt at November 13, 2007 2:20 AM

Just the Headlines

President Bush has been sharply criticized by Democrats for handpicking his audiences -- and rightfully so. Thus, it is quite amusing to read these headlines:

2008 Race Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 9:41 AM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

Pretty good, but my favorite Senator Clinton story of the week is still tipgate. The link is to Daily Kos.

Apologies to AlexC who hates the -gate suffix, but tipgate rocks on several levels. There's the purloining of "an average American" for the Senator's political purposes without the victim's consent, then the limousine liberal willingness to not leave a tip, then the trademark Clinton prevarication "we left a 66% tip, we just have no records." A thing of beauty.

Posted by: jk at November 11, 2007 10:56 AM

November 10, 2007

Those Clever Writers

ThreeSources friend Extreme Mortman joins ThreeSources brother AlexC in disappointment that professional writers cannot craft good slogans:

I mean, have you seen their signs? “On Strike.” Wow, that’s gripping. Sometimes they opt for a bit more words: “We’re On Strike.” Those must be writers on mini-series.

No wonder they’re under-paid. They under-work.
[...]
Heck, if coal miners can be pithy, why can’t Hollywood script writers?


Posted by John Kranz at 6:40 PM

De Mortuis nil nisi bonom

I have barely recovered from the hagiographic obituaries that Arthur Miller's death invoked. Now, Norman Mailer has passed. Thankfully, Roger Kimball has beaten the New York Times Review of Books to the punch.

No one combined critical regard, popular celebrity, and radical chic politics with quite the same insouciance as did Mailer. From the late 1940s until the 1980s, he showed himself to be extraordinarily deft at persuading credulous intellectuals to collaborate in his megalomania. Although he modeled his persona on some of the less attractive features of Ernest Hemingway—booze, boxing, bullfighting, and broads—he managed to update that pathetic, shopworn machismo with some significant postwar embellishments: reefer, radicalism, and Reich, for starters. The glittering example of Mailer’s commercial success was obviously the cynosure that many aspiring writers set out to follow: his neat trick was to combine cachet with large amounts of cash.

It's a fantastic tear at a man who deserves it.

Hat-tip: Instapundit

Posted by John Kranz at 6:15 PM

I'm an Eighth Grade Poser

cash advance

Get a Cash Advance

Hat-tip, Eugene Volokh, who sits in the same lunchroom.

Vote Pedro!

Posted by John Kranz at 1:32 PM

Purple, Heading Toward Indigo

I started to hijack jg's excellent post on Global Warming and its foothold in the Colorado schools. I was going to digress enough that a new post is likely in order.

Out of staters may not have seen, but in our odd-year election, I think every single tax increase on the ballot all across the state passed. There's a hunger for government in the Centennial State. We gave both legislative houses to the Democrats in 2004 and elected a Democratic Governor in 2006.

People who think Americans yearn for liberty have every right to be disheartened that it is slipping away in a part of the country that cherishes independence and has had great prosperity from low taxes and limited regulation. If you can’t sell freedom in Colorado – and you apparently can’t – you need a new PR firm.

Ryan Sagar's Brilliant Elephant in the Room talked about little-l libertarians in the mountain west who tend to vote Republican. I certainly saw myself in that picture, but I do not see a model for electoral success. Nevada sends Harry Reid to the Senate, Arizona -- Goldwaterland, mind you -- has a Democratic Governor, New Mexico and Colorado are in play every election. Utah could not overcome Union resistance to school vouchers.

I think Giuliani might appeal to enough Republicans and moderates to carry Colorado, but I bet my current Congressman, Jeff Udall (yeah, one of those Udalls), will be our next Senator. As Sager says, John Kerry could have just as easily flipped enough votes in the Mountain West to win the election as in Ohio. The machine is broken out here. I don't know how to fix it.

Colorado Posted by John Kranz at 12:58 PM

DAWG Classes in Colorado Schools

While JK's comment posits that the forces of DAWG are losing momentum in the scientific community, the movement is clearly in ascendency in the realm of popular culture and consequently, politics. To wit: Colorado's newly minted Governor announced his bold new "Climate Action Plan."

"Climate change is our generation's greatest environmental challenge," Gov. Ritter said. "It threatens our economy, our Western way of life and our future. It will change every facet of our existence, and unless we address it and adapt to it, the results will be catastrophic for generations to come."

This "catastrophic" threat to "every facet of our existence" sounds serious - almost as frightening as the gratuitous worldwide use of the hazardous compound dihydrogen monoxide.

A critical component of the governor's plan is to ensure that "the youngest generation" drinks the Kool-Aid. From page 25:

I. CLIMATE EDUCATION AND THE NEW ENERGY ECONOMY

“If we fail to educate the youngest generation in the ways of sustainability, then we will truly fail as a whole.” U.S. Sen. Gaylord Nelson

Education about the choices we can make as citizens and as consumers is a primary ingredient in our individual and collective ability to successfully limit human contribution to climate change. People want to do the right thing — but they must be provided the
right information and means for doing so. Education will also be key to training Colorado’s workforce to meet the challenges and expectations of the New Energy Economy.

Climate curricula. The state will work through the Governor’s P-20 Education Council and others to make sustainability curricula become standard fare in K-12 classrooms throughout the state. Today’s students will be living in a warmer climate resulting from the activities of previous generations. They need to understand the science of climate change, what its impacts will be on their lives, and how to critically evaluate the steps needed to reach our 2020 and 2050 emission reduction goals. Students will also need academic and technical skills to be ready for jobs in the New Energy Economy.

Best practices already in use, such as in the Poudre Valley School District in northern Colorado, will be featured through state web-based communications. A “Best in Education” category will be highlighted in the Governor’s Annual Excellence in Sustainability Awards program.

(Underlining for emphasis is mine.)

First, what does "sustainability" have to do with climate change? Which elements of this broad environmentalist mantra will be championed to "successfully limit human contribution to climate change?"

Secondly, why is it a good idea to teach students to "critically evaluate the steps needed to reach our (...) emission reduction goals" but not to teach them to critically evaulate the science of climate change?

I plan to write the esteemed governor and ask him how he justifies instruction in selectively applied reason in our publicly funded schools.

But jk thinks:

You're always there to dash the faintest glimmers of my optimism, jg -- thanks.

This time I have to agree. This will be just like recycling. It will live on by being inculcated in our youth. Sad but true. We live in a bona fide blue state now, with all privileges thereunto appertaining and all that.

Posted by: jk at November 10, 2007 12:58 PM

November 9, 2007

Jimmy P on The Super Wealthy

When I am elected President, I will give a Medal to James Pethokoukis. He single-handedly brings seriousness to US News and World Report; he's a frequent and frequently insightful guest on Kudlow & Company.

Today, he discusses The Super-Risks of Taxing the Superwealthy, comparing some collectivist drivel from Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich (another frequent -- yet far less insightful -- K&C regular) with some wise advice from Harvard Economics prof Kenneth Rogoff:

Many super-earners are also super-creative and bring enormous value. Places like the United Kingdom actively court wealthy foreign nationals through extraordinary preferential treatment of their investment income. The ultra-rich are an ultra-mobile group, too. If you are earning $540,000 an hour, it does not take too long to save up to buy an apartment, even in London.... Anyway, there are limits to how much tax pressure the political system can apply to the ultra-rich.... Rather than punitively taxing wealth, globalization strengthens the case for shifting to a flat tax on income (or better yet consumption) with a moderately high exemption. Aside from the usual efficiency arguments, it is just going to become increasingly difficult and costly to maintain complex and idiosyncratic national tax arrangements.

Reminds me of a book I read some time ago. Fellow named Don Fault takes off with a boatload of productive citizens...

Anyway, I have to quibble with Pethokoukis on one point. He goes on to lay out a relativist critique of campaigns:

To a great extent, both parties seem to be largely unaware that the U.S. economy is part of a great race—though one where there does not necessarily have to be any losers—called globalization. Some nations, however, will do better than others. America should have policies that make our economy as innovative and competitive as possible. The tax code would seem to be one element of that.

My partisan hack hackles grew a little inflamed. To paint the campaigns of Senator Clinton and Mayor Giuliani with the same brush, I don't think he has been paying attention. Certainly some Republicans have sounded some populist tones, but most GOP candidates have supported the Bush tax cuts -- all Democratic ones have called for their repeal or expiration.

Still a great read.

Hat-tip: Everyday Economist

Posted by John Kranz at 6:58 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

No matter how punitively the "rich" get taxed, or how effectively America "lifts the bottom half" Reich will never get any taller. Just go away little man.

He's not paying attention either, by the way, claiming that "all Democratic presidential candidates are styling themselves "fiscal conservatives." Sure, if eliminating the DoD counts as budget cutting.

Posted by: johngalt at November 10, 2007 1:50 AM
But jk thinks:

Don't get me started [Too late, you did!]

Democrats successfully style themselves as fiscal conservatives because they want to raise taxes. In their eyes, the Bush tax cuts are irresponsible and created deficits. Raising taxes will be painful, yes, but it's what we need to put our house in order.

Sadly, Rubinomics lives. Like recycling and the mohair subsidy.

Posted by: jk at November 10, 2007 1:22 PM

Bringing Reason to DAWG

The difference between science and the fuzzy subjects is that science requires reasoning while those other subjects merely require scholarship. - Robert A. Heinlein

What civilization needs is to wrest climate science from the fuzzy side of campus where Albert Gore Junior and his minions have kidnapped it.

I do not oppose environmentalism. I do not oppose the political positions of either party.

However, Global Warming, i.e. Climate Change, is not about environmentalism or politics. It is not a religion. It is not something you "believe in." It is science; the science of meteorology. This is my field of life-long expertise. And I am telling you Global Warming is a nonevent, a manufactured crisis and a total scam. I say this knowing you probably won't believe me, a mere TV weatherman, challenging a Nobel Prize, Academy Award and Emmy Award winning former Vice President of United States. So be it. - John Coleman, Founder: The Weather Channel

(Mr. Coleman's remarks were originally published on Icecap.us, a scientifically oriented website dedicated to climate science that is directed by Joseph D'Aleo, founding Director of Meterology at TWC.)

But jk thinks:

Nice post and link. I'm pretty pessimistic on politics these days, but am feeling that the DAWG advocates have overplayed their hand with "the science is settled" and that we have passed a turning point for acceptance of skepticism.

Posted by: jk at November 9, 2007 6:12 PM

November 8, 2007

All The Things He Never Said About AG Spitzer

CNBC's Jim Cramer is sui generis. I highly recommend his book, I fondly remember the days when Kudlow & Company was Kudlow & Cramer, and I was glad to witness his success as his own show, "Mad Money" took off.

He's a heavy hitting fundraiser in the Democratic Party and was college buddies with New York Governor Eliot Spitzer. Kudlow & Cramer respected each other greatly, that was one of the best aspects of their show but the one thing that was beyond discussion was serious criticism of Spitzer.

In this video Cramer has some less than kind words for the current NYAG, Andrew Cuomo:



Hat-tip: Don Luskin, who says It's About Time

Elevator Talk Posted by John Kranz at 10:09 AM

November 7, 2007

BUSH LIED!

With today's honor, he is one of only two persons to have received both the Nobel Prize in Economics and the Medal of Freedom. The other was the late Milton Friedman. And I know that today Dr. Friedman would be very proud of his friend, and student, and colleague, Dr. Gary Becker. Congratulations
I'm a huge fan of Becker and congratulate him as well. Makiw Updates: "Alex Tabarrok emails me, 'Bush needs a better fact-checker. Hayek also won the Nobel prize and the Medal of Freedom.'

Damned neocons.

Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 7:00 PM

Freedom of Worship

Insty posts an email and this pic from Michael Yon:

Thanks_and_Praise-vers2.jpg

I photographed men and women, both Christians and Muslims, placing a cross atop the St. John's Church in Baghdad. They had taken the cross from storage and a man washed it before carrying it up to the dome. A Muslim man had invited the American soldiers from 'Chosen' Company 2-12 Cavalry to the church, where I videotaped as Muslims and Christians worked and rejoiced at the reopening of St John's, an occasion all viewed as a sign of hope. The Iraqis asked me to convey a message of thanks to the American people. 'Thank you, thank you,' the people were saying. One man said, 'Thank you for peace.' Another man, a Muslim, said 'All the people, all the people in Iraq, Muslim and Christian, is brother.' The men and women were holding bells, and for the first time in memory freedom rang over the ravaged land between two rivers.

A beloved but moonbat relative of mine works almost full time now to establish a US Department of Peace. I recommend 'Chosen' Company 2-12 Cavalry, they seem to be doing a hell of a job.

UPDATE: Chris Muir's take.

Freedom on the March Posted by John Kranz at 6:24 PM

It Worked On Trekmedic...

Neither of our baseball teams won the world series, but our Keystone State friends have something to inspire pride: their tax dollars produced this adorable video and its airtight arguments for considering a health care career.



So is the bear's name "Jihad?" I don't speak hip-hop.

Hat-tip: Club for Growth

Pennsylvania Posted by John Kranz at 4:54 PM | What do you think? [2]
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Yeah, jk,...we've heard all about the $4100 blunder. But, no!, its not jihad,..its G-Hog, as in "Groundhog." As in Punxatawney Phil and "Gus" his cousin and shill for the PA Lottery!

And what exactly worked on me????

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at November 9, 2007 10:18 PM
But jk thinks:

I assumed you saw this chaming video and decided on a health care career -- another big win for government!

G-Hog, go G-hog! Now I get it!

Posted by: jk at November 10, 2007 12:46 PM

Ouch

A friend emails:

NEWS BRIEF: Denver Broncos football practice was delayed nearly 2 hours after a player reported finding an unknown white powdery substance on the practice field. Head coach Mike Shanahan immediately suspended practice while Denver police and federal investigators were called to investigate. After a complete analysis, FBI forensic experts determined that the white substance unknown to the players was the goal line. Practice was resumed after special agents decided the team was unlikely to encounter the substance again.

I've supported much worse Bronco teams than this one -- carry on lads!

Posted by John Kranz at 4:18 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Q: Why does the Broncos organization devote so much effort to its web site? A: It's the only place they can string three W's together.

Posted by: johngalt at November 8, 2007 1:17 AM

Hail Multilateralism!

I'm ready to join the Black Helicopter crowd. First Larry Kudlow brings us the story of the World Bank's $900,000,000 loan to Iran. As America successfully gets business and some pensions to divest of Iranian holdings and start to apply financial pressure, the mostly-US-funded World Bank dives into the breach. A commenter says "It's good to know dictators in need have someone to turn to."

The World Bank will float them, and the UN will protect them. The Wall Street Journal Ed Page today criticizes the International Atomic Energy Agency (paid link):

For the past year, [IAEA head Mohammed] ElBaradei has been running an independent foreign policy from his IAEA perch. People tell him he is "doing God's work" -- or so he tells the New York Times. In August, he announced a nuclear agreement he had reached with Iran's mullahs, without consulting his political superiors at the agency. Even the Europeans protested that one.

The agreement made no reference to the U.N. Security Council's demand that Iran suspend its uranium enrichment program, a demand Mr. ElBaradei himself dismisses as moot. The agreement also allowed the Iranians to dribble out information on the dozen outstanding questions the IAEA has yet to resolve.

Mr. ElBaradei has coasted on the IAEA's reputation as the authoritative source of information on the world's nuclear secrets. Yet this is the same agency that was taken by surprise by nuclear projects in Libya, North Korea and Iraq in the 1980s. And now in Syria, which in September was voted co-chair of the IAEA's General Conference.


We're funding these outfits and spending millions to host them and staff our portion. I've said a hundred times that the UN could have stopped the Iraq war if not for Oil for Food. Now they are setting themselves up to ensure that no peaceful resolution or restrictions on Iran can be affected.

Where is the blogswarm that scuttled the Dubai ports deal? A legitimate, profitable, and honorable business deal is immolated by populist fury, but I don't hear anybody complaining that International Agencies we finance are financing war against us.

Iran Posted by John Kranz at 1:36 PM

November 6, 2007

Edwards?

While trading tales with an electrican friend last night he said, "I don't think America is stupid enough to elect Hillary president."

"And I don't think we're stupid enough to elect Obama either," I replied.

But what about Edwards? He doesn't get the ink because the other two have raised more dough than Ron Paul, but who had heard of Bill Clinton in November of 1991? Other than his publicity and campaign chest deficits he's got many advantages over the two Democrat frontrunners - Charisma, low-negatives, experience from the '04 race, he's not a woman and he's not a minority - that bolster his "electability" argument.

But with Mrs. Clinton taking heavy fire from Democratic and Republican candidates alike, Mr. Edwards is trying to recast the race, brushing aside questions about his fund-raising (trailing Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama on that front, he is accepting public financing) and poll numbers (his early strength in Iowa has eroded as those two rivals have lavished time and money here) to assert that only he can assure a Democratic victory next November.

Be afraid - America just might be stupid enough to elect John Edwards.

2008 Race Posted by JohnGalt at 7:50 PM | What do you think? [3]
But jk thinks:

Perhaps you (and "Sparky") are right. I don't share your original premises. While Edwards would be my least favorite President out of the three, he would be my favorite Democratic candidate to run against.

I see the female and African American as possible (note weasely qualifier) plusses for an Obama or Clinton candidacy. Each will get their party's base easily and I see a lot of undecided moderates (the people who vote for the tall guy or the better hair) willing to make an "affirmative action" vote.

I think Edwards has been way off to the left, and those slogans that fire up Democrats in Iowa will bite him. I also think he would look inconsequential next to a Giuliani or Senator Thompson in a debate.

Posted by: jk at November 7, 2007 10:24 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

This morning I was talking with an acquaintance, telling him about the 70%+ probabilities on Intrade that a Dem will win the presidency next year. He's surprised it isn't higher. He still thinks Hillary is "a shoe-in," even after the debate debacle, and he said it sounds crazy, but he hopes she'll win -- because the alternatives are Edwards and Obama.

He's a portfolio manager who covers the health care sector, and none of us should envy his job. It's no secret that that industry is counting on a Dem to win, and making plans for the inevitable train wreck that a Dem winner will produce. I can't say exactly what he did with his portfolio, but I'll just say he's counting on a Very Bad Scenario.

Maybe Bruce Bartlett wasn't so crazy a while ago to say that conservatives should support Hillary. Heaven help us, it used to be that we were voting for the least imperfect GOP candidate who would do the least harm!

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at November 7, 2007 11:00 AM
But jk thinks:

When I am pragmatic enough to support Senator Clinton, I think I might give up pragmatism.

I hope your friend's shorts come out okay. She probably is the best of the Dems, although I can see Senator Obama becoming like President Clinton: a man who wants to be President more than advance an ideology. That could be better than Senator Clinton who lives to ruin our health care system.

Posted by: jk at November 7, 2007 1:22 PM

The Ron Paul Revolution

Ron Paul raised over $4 million in one day. That is more than any other Republican candidate in the field. Of course, David Frum is unimpressed:


Amidst the excitement over Ron Paul's fundraising, it is worth recalling that in the much lower-intensity race of 2000, Ralph Nader raised over $8 million for his presidential bid.

Of course, that is $8 million total versus $4.3 million in one day, but Frum shouldn't be bothered with facts as he continues:

Of course I am saddened to discover that many thousands of Americans have rallied to a candidate campaigning on a Michael Moore view of the world.

With the exception of his stance on the war (which is hardly as radical in mainstream America as Frum believes), Paul's message is not even closely related to Moore. Rep. Paul's message is one of individual freedom and less government, something all Republicans used to stand for.

2008 Race Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 12:44 PM | What do you think? [4]
But johngalt thinks:

The NY Times tells us that Paul supporters invoked the memory of Guy Fawkes to raise all that dough in one day.

"Mr. Benton clarified that Mr. Paul did not support blowing up government buildings. “He wants to demolish things like the Department of Education,” Mr. Benton said, “but we can do that very peacefully, in a constructive manner.”"

Huzzah!

(He's still wrong on the war.)

Posted by: johngalt at November 6, 2007 2:44 PM
But jk thinks:

Impressive. And I'm happy to see an interest in freedom. However, I have a couple of asterisks to place beside this impressive figure:

* Mankiw dismissed the 47 million uninsured figured by saying "[B]y masking tremendous heterogeneity in personal circumstances, the figure exaggerates the magnitude of the problem." I think the masking of heterogeneity here exaggerates his support. Ron Paul signs were very prevalent at the San Francisco anti-war march. I'm not thinking most of those are onboard to dismantle the Dept. of Education. It could have been the photographer, but I didn't see any of them demanding a return to Bretton-Woods. I would never compare Paul and Moore but suspect that some of his donors might.

** I'm not anti-gimmick by any means, but the $4.2 million (error fixed, it said 3.5) was a gimmick, as supporters purposefully withheld support to make for the big day. There are the same people who can overwhelm an online or text message poll to give Rep. Paul Husseinesque vote totals. Impressive, but not likely transferable to electoral success.

(Are you a metalist. hb?)

Posted by: jk at November 6, 2007 3:24 PM
But HB thinks:

I think I need to clarify a few things.

1.) I am not endorsing Ron Paul (although if I were forced to choose someone from the Republican field, there is a good chance that I would).

2.) Similarly, I am not expressing my belief that Ron Paul will win the nomination. My main point is that this is a fantastic achievement. Whether supporters put off donations until a specific day or not, this raises awareness of the campaign.

3.) Due to our political system, there is a great deal of heterogeneity for any candidate.

4.) I am not a metalist. However, I do like Paul's message about the depreciating dollar. The Fed was too loose with monetary policy in the early part of this decade and the recent rates cuts could be the subject of an entire post.

5.) Largely, this post arose out of frustration with David Frum and his unwillingness to give Ron Paul even the slightest bit of credit. Most candidates have to spend 30 cents (if not more) for every dollar that they receive. Paul's effort was remarkable because it cost him little more than transaction fees

6.) Finally, let me turn around your argument a bit jk. What does it say about the chances of the Republican party when a second-tier candidate with a very heterogeneous base of support can, with very little effort, raise more in one day than any other candidate?

Posted by: HB at November 7, 2007 8:14 AM
But jk thinks:

You've got me on the cost of fundraising. I used to do Marketing Communications in a former life and I am stunned at the dollar value of Republican mail I throw away every day. His profit percentage is truly impressive. The total amount is impressive as well, but gimmicky.

Maybe it's the evil debate format, but I have not heard one word out of Rep. Paul that was not metalism or isolationism. I know he believes in limited government and establishing a clear Constitutional purview. I would applaud those lines, but every time I hear him, he is going on about "this illegal war!" or the gold standard.

You have to look at what a candidate believes, but you have to really pay attention to what he/she chooses to talk about. I probably agree with Senator McCain on 90% of things, but in 2000 he talked almost exclusively about campaign finance reform. If Paul had isolationist and metalist views, I could look the other way as I do on Giuliani and gun rights.

As the pragmatist, I should also applaud heterogeneity, but Paul is making a coalition out of the two tails. I'm a long tail guy, but you cannot ignore the fat middle in electoral politics.

Posted by: jk at November 7, 2007 10:39 AM

There's a Grim Milestone in There Somewhere

Wait, wait -- there's gotta be some some bad news in here...Hold the Presses!! I found It!! Before it got better, it was worse!

AP: 2007 is deadliest year for US in Iraq

The grim milestone passed despite a sharp drop in U.S. and Iraqi deaths here in recent months, after a 30,000-strong U.S. force buildup. There were 39 deaths in October, compared to 65 in September and 84 in August.


Those AP guys are good, give 'em props.

But mdmhvonpa thinks:

I hear before modern alternative medicine, MILLIONS died from the flu. EVEN WHEN YOU GAVE THEM THE VACCINE! If they had only chanted and burnt eco-sensitive incense ...

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at November 6, 2007 12:11 PM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Sick thing is, while 2007 was the deadliest year in Iraq, the month-by-month numbers show a DRAMATIC decrease after the surge.

Oops! Something the MSM left out, huh?

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at November 9, 2007 10:20 PM

November 5, 2007

Guild Strike

Meh.

Hollywood writers on both coasts are now pounding the pavement instead of their keyboards.

About 40 people hoisted signs and applauded, as picketing by striking TV and movie writers began Monday morning at the CBS lot in Studio City.

One writer said he's as ready as he can be for a strike -- but that with the cost of living in Los Angeles, "your bank account can never really be ready for this." Across town at the Paramount Pictures lot, about 50 strikers carried signs, as passing drivers honked their horns.


I wasn't going to even think about this, but I saw a video on the news tonight that showed a picket line.

What were they chanting?

"What do we want? _________. When do we want it? Now!"

How intolerably lame.

No wonder we get such feature films from Hollywood as Spiderman 3, Police Academy 27 and 10,000 reality shows.

The writers are completely unoriginal.

Bums.

But jk thinks:

What was the blank? Free Sushi? Sugar Free Latte Syrup? They're a pretty hard group to feel sorry for.

OTOH, I'm as big a fan of Schumpeter as you'll find 'round these parts, but in the transition to new media and new distribution, the gales are blowing hard. It's perfectly fair for creators to do what they need to ensure their property rights will be respected. I'm sympathetic to artists who want to get paid, I was one of 'dem once.

I'd also question whether the writers are the cause of poor quality -- they don't really get to choose what's green-lighted.

Workers of the world unite! (Your point holds, by the way, we have every right to expect better chants from soi disant professionals!)

Posted by: jk at November 6, 2007 10:59 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Hey now, I loved Spiderman 3!

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at November 6, 2007 12:19 PM

Happy Guy Fawkes Day

From Samizdata, with their annual reminder that:

Guy Fawkes was the only man to ever enter Parliament with honest intentions...

I have an opinion on everything but Guy Fawkes. He's popular with the anti-government crowd, but is he not at heart a religious terrorist? I did give a highly favorable review to V for Vendetta, but I find the real historical record far less compelling.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:40 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

The events are 400 years old but from what I can see, Fawkes attempted to subvert a tyranical monarchy that interfered with individual liberties, one of which was the freedom of religion. He targeted government agents, not ordinary folk, making him a guerrila warrior, not a terrorist.

You may be surprised to hear this from me but you should not: Theistic beliefs on the part of its actors do not make violent revolutionaries "terrorists."

Also, remember that the "real historical record" was recorded by the King, who Fawkes attempted to kill. Hard to imagine it being purely objective.

Posted by: johngalt at November 5, 2007 5:52 PM
But jk thinks:

Appreciate the distinction between Parliament and civilian targets, you're right that "terrorist" is misplaced.

I highly recommend Michael Barone's "The Glorious Revolution." He gets into some of this and I remain palpably disappointed that these struggles were all in the name of popery/anti-popery. I'm all for freedom of religion, but no other liberties seemed to interest any of the fighters.

Posted by: jk at November 5, 2007 6:20 PM

Mankiw Tackles the "Sorta True"

Greg Mankiw has an article in the NYTimes Business section today on health care. The Harvard Prof says the problem with statistics is not so much the patently false ones, but the ones that are true but misleading. He then debunks without contradicting:

STATEMENT 1 The United States has lower life expectancy and higher infant mortality than Canada, which has national health insurance.

STATEMENT 2 Some 47 million Americans do not have health insurance.

-- and, my favorite --

STATEMENT 3 Health costs are eating up an ever increasing share of American incomes.

But increasing expenditures could just as well be a symptom of success. The reason that we spend more than our grandparents did is not waste, fraud and abuse, but advances in medical technology and growth in incomes. Science has consistently found new ways to extend and improve our lives. Wonderful as they are, they do not come cheap.

Fortunately, our incomes are growing, and it makes sense to spend this growing prosperity on better health. The rationality of this phenomenon is stressed in a recent article by the economists Charles I. Jones of the University of California, Berkeley, and Robert E. Hall of Stanford. They ask, “As we grow older and richer, which is more valuable: a third car, yet another television, more clothing — or an extra year of life?”

Mr. Hall and Mr. Jones forecast that the share of income devoted to health care will top 30 percent by 2050. But in their model, this is not a problem: It is the modern form of progress.


Joint hat-tip: Insty and Everyday Economist

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 11:43 AM

November 4, 2007

He's Pretty Good

I don't think I'll be voting for the Junior Senator from Illinois, but you have to appreciate good stuff:




UPDATE: ThreeSources friend Extreme Mortman disagrees.

2008 Race Posted by John Kranz at 11:08 AM | What do you think? [1]
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Nothing like a clean-cut, well-spoken black man to bitch-slap the queen bitch!

Cross-posting that one now!

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at November 6, 2007 11:24 PM

November 3, 2007

Dissident Down But Not Out

ThreeSources patron saint Natan Sharansky is profiled in a nice interview in the Wall Street Journal OpinionJournal (free link) this weekend. First, the sad truth:

The fortunes of Mr. Sharansky and his ideas about freedom rose and sunk with President Bush's opinion polls. His "The Case for Democracy" came along, three years ago, when the administration seriously looked to push it in the Muslim world. The president loved the book, and Mr. Sharansky became the in-house philosopher for the Bush Doctrine. "If you want a glimpse of how I think about foreign policy, read Natan Sharansky's book," blurbs Mr. Bush on the back cover of the paperback edition.

But democracy is a dirty word these days. So Mr. Sharansky is lonely too, bounced out of Israeli politics and out of favor. He, Vaclav Havel and other former Eastern European dissident faces of the freedom agenda are dismissed as Cold War naďfs, pernicious Utopians, or worse--men whose moral Manichaeism has no business in the "complex Middle East."


Even with the freedom movement "on its back foot," Sharansky is pretty sanguine about Russia, and moderately upbeat about the Mideast. It's a great read.

Freedom on the March Posted by John Kranz at 7:20 PM

Review Corner: One for Walt

Apple founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozinak both claimed Walt Disney as a personal hero. This led me to a biography that I enjoyed (I've forgotten the title and none on Amazon ring a bell). He's a fascinating figure and, while he's rarely held up for political beliefs, he was an unabashed spokesman for innovation and modernity. He was an optimist who saw a bright future for America based on innovation and technology.

I've always wondered if he spins in his grave when the studio that bears his name portrays business and corporations in such a hostile manner. You can always bet on the businessman being the villain in a Disney movie. Usually some plucky kids have to save the community from some corporate type who's only after profit.

Of course, I can't project feelings onto another man, living or dead. Perhaps W.D. would look at the box office receipts and smile broadly. Either way, I would venture that he'd give his best grin to "Meet the Robinsons." This very fun film overtly portrays the Disney vision. In a trip to the future, the campy "Tomorrowland" is called "Todayland," and the final frame salutes his vision and philosohy

Mostly, modernity is actually celebrated in the plot. Inventions are good. Profiting from an innovation (gasp!) is good. A stolen idea results in dystopia. They didn't ever recite "The Kudlow Creed" but it had everything else.

Clever, Pixar animation, without the PC sops that one is usually forced to encounter in any movie these days. I give it four stars.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 1:14 PM

November 2, 2007

Why Markets Work

Simple truth from "libertarian whack job" Megan McArdle. The context is public schools and vouchers but you could use it, mutatis mutandis, for any discussion of central planning vs. free markets:

One thing that strikes me about the arguments I've been having with voucher opponents is just how little they seem to understand how markets work. Markets don't work because they get it right the first time; they succeed because if at first they don't succeed, they try, try again.

A public school, by and large, cannot fail. If it screws up, no matter how badly, we will continue pouring money into it. This is particularly true because most of the employees of most systems can't fail either. They can be atrocious at their jobs, but provided that they are not actually molesting the students, it's nearly impossible to get rid of them.

Failure, to put it bluntly, works. Failure is nature's way of telling you "Hey, that doesn't work!" The American economy is vastly strengthened by the fact that companies are allowed to fail--and also by the fact that our crazy culture encourages us to try things that don't work.


It's short and superb: read the whole thing.

Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 4:00 PM

A Great Idea From Rep Hunter

I have not found many things during his Presidential campaign on which I agree with Rep. Duncan Hunter. A commenter directed me to learn about his substantive military service. I also watched a couple of C-SPAN videos of his town hall meetings and a radio interview; he is a very likable and serious politician. But his thinking is orthogonal to mine on trade and immigration.

This comment in today's Political Diary (I bet they'll post a free link soon) really caught my eye. The John Fund piece is about US State Department workers who are too chicken to work in Iraq. Fund titles the piece "They'll take Paris:"

U.S. diplomats are in open revolt over a directive from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice ordering that foreign service members be prepared to accept postings to Iraq -- or if they refuse, be terminated.

Rep. Duncan Hunter, the House Armed Services Committee's top Republican, said firing the refuseniks would be fine by him. He wants to replace any diplomats who decline to serve in Iraq with wounded veterans. "Let's replace these reluctant Nellies with America's finest citizens," he said in a statement. "Our wounded warriors will serve our country efficiently, effectively and with undying patriotism."

An angry town hall meeting at the State Department on Wednesday brought the emotions to the surface. "Incoming is coming in every day, rockets are hitting the Green Zone," said Jack Crotty, a senior foreign service officer who once worked as a political adviser with NATO forces. He said such assignments are not what State Department workers signed up for. "I'm sorry, but basically that's a potential death sentence and you know it," he said to sustained applause. "Who will raise our children if we are dead or seriously wounded?"

Secretary of State Rice, who did not attend the town hall gripe session, has sent out a cable to all overseas posts emphasizing that foreign service officers have an obligation to uphold the oaths they took and be available to serve anywhere in the world. Since 2003, over 1,500 U.S. diplomats have served in the Baghdad embassy or outlying posts in Iraq. A total of three have been killed, or two-tenths of one percent of those posted.


The last item in the PD today points out that the same storied State Department also thought Margaret Thatcher would be inconsequential and that Jacques Chirac would be pro-American.

The State Department is devoted to appeasement and tolerance for tyranny. Let's revitalize from within, the Duncan Hunter way: fill State Department jobs with military veterans. It could be considered a good career path (for the guys who don't go to Blackwater), they will value freedom and be more likely to accept American exceptionalism.

And they will not be too chicken to serve in Iraq.

UPDATE: Charlie on the PA Turnpike (Happy Birthday Yesterday!) links to a Wizbang post that details the State Departments members' Oath of Service

Posted by John Kranz at 12:58 PM | What do you think? [1]
But Cory Newton thinks:

Hunter rocks! Many people are critical of this idea, but what do they know. I really hope Hunter catches fire over the next 60 days or so and pulls an upset in Iowa, NH, and SC.
He is the real conservative in the GOP race!

Posted by: Cory Newton at November 2, 2007 2:50 PM

November 1, 2007

Rudy! on Larry!

Kudlow's Money Politics

I just wrapped up an interview with former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani in downtown Manhattan. We had a great (occasionally heated) discussion. The leading Republican presidential candidate and I covered quite a bit of ground. Topics included Charlie Rangel's new tax plan, waterboarding, Hillary Clinton, the economy, and more.

The full interview will broadcast tonight at 7pm ET on CNBC. We hope you'll join us.


These have all been superb.

Posted by John Kranz at 2:11 PM

Wait, I've Seen This Movie Before...

Senator Clinton has a strategy to counter those pointing out her miscues at the debate: Play the Victim! Get the sympathy vote. WaPo:

After a rare night of fumbles by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, her rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination rushed to maximize the damage yesterday, even as her advisers argued that the "piling on" engaged in by an all-male field of opponents will ultimately drive more female voters into her camp.

Poor Little Senator, those men are so mean to her. At least there is more than a tacit admission of failure:
Clinton strategists grudgingly acknowledged that the performance in Tuesday's debate in Philadelphia was not her finest and they sought to contain the fallout. They worked to clarify her muddled response to a question about whether she supports giving driver's licenses to illegal immigrants -- she backs it, they said -- and quickly produced a video, titled "The Politics of Pile-On," splicing together in rapid-fire fashion her rivals' attacks from the event.

I fear life under Clinton is coming back, without the tech boom this time.

2008 Race Posted by John Kranz at 12:15 PM

The WSJ Ed Page Piles On

Watching Senator Clinton dissemble at the debate (YouTube clips, I did not watch it live), I was struck by one word: "Clintonian." The bit with Tim Russert and Iran was stunning.

Surprise, surprise, my right wingnut buddies at the WSJ Ed Page saw it the same way (free link).

The political strategy is clear enough. Mrs. Clinton wants to roll to her party's nomination on a tide of "inevitability" while disguising her real agenda as much as possible. But Democratic voters ought to consider whether they want to put all their hopes for retaking the White House on Mrs. Clinton's ability to obfuscate like her husband without his preternatural talent for it. Aside from lacking her husband's political gifts, Hillary's challenge is that we've all seen this movie before. And performances like Tuesday's might be enough to convince voters to opt for a candidate who is his own man.

And that 's the good news for the day (Though Terri @ I Think ^(Link) Therefore I Err points out that Joss Whedon has a new TV show and al-Qaeda is defeated in Iraq). Somewhere on that scale, we must remember that she is not a natural politician, and that she has a history of extreme quotes and positions that will be harder to defend in the general than to Democrat primary voters.

2008 Race Posted by John Kranz at 11:37 AM

New Joss Whedon Series

With Eliza Dushku. I'm trying to think of how it gets better.

Dushku will be a producer and play Echo, a young woman who is everybody's fantasy. She is one of a group of men and women who can be imprinted with personality packages, including memories, skills, language and even muscle memory, by a company/place called the Dollhouse.

Hat-tip: Terri

Posted by John Kranz at 11:03 AM

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