Are you looking for a job as an environmental reporter? Great news. CBS is hiring. Here is the job description:
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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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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...
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...
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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:
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.
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.
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!
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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...)
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 . . .
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...
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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:
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.'
Insty posts an email and this pic from Michael Yon:
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.