December 31, 2007

Last Huck-a-Whack of 2007

It seems the Governor's play of "we have this awesome negative ad that shows what a lying, cheating, fornicating weasel my opponent Mitt Romney is, but we are way too nice to show it" has not been well-received.

I come to whack the Governor, not bury him. His response lists the positive things he stands for:

I believe in the Human Life Amendment and will work tirelessly for it's passage.

I believe the FairTax is the best way to unleash our economy in the 21st century.

I believe and have always supported the passage of a federal constitutional amendment that defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

I believe we must secure our borders, end amnesty and end sanctuary cities.

I believe our country must be energy independent.

I believe that we are currently engaged in a world war. Radical Islamic fascists have declared war on our country and our way of life.

I believe in the Surge.

And I believe that Americans aren't interested in politics that divide us, they want their leaders to focus on what will lift them up and make things better.

I almost forgot that today in the face of the withering barrage of criticism we have endured over the last few weeks from my rivals. I say almost, because our negative ad won't run.

I know we believe in the same things. It is these things, these ideas, that have bound us together in this campaign for President. These ideas are why you first became interested in me and these ideas are why I am running for President. Let everyone know, that we are campaigning for these ideas and that we are working overtime to lift America up.

  • I believe in the possessive version of "its" and will work tirelessly to promote it's [sic] proper use. (Cheap shot from a guy who types like me, but he has staff!)

  • I'll pass on the life Amendment. I'll work to overturn Roe v Wade, but then let's leave it to the States.

  • I believe consumption taxes would have been a better choice. If I get a time machine, I'll go back to 1908 and campaign for it. Considering the 16th Amendment, I give up. Maybe it's the way Governor Huckabee tells the story, but I find I have lost interest.

  • I believe government should be less involved in marriage, not more.

  • I believe the market should dictate energy use, I'm not going to grow my own food, I don't expect my country to generate all of its energy.

  • I believe that we are currently engaged in a world war. Radical Islamic fascists have declared war on our country and our way of life. And I believe in the surge, making me two-for-two with the Governor. Yet how does this comport with his claim that the chief prosecutor of the war and the ultimate commander of the Surge has "damaged this country with a bunker mentality?"

  • I believe I should probably lay off the Governor, and engage in a more positive and uplifting blogging experience.


2008 Race Posted by John Kranz at 8:18 PM | What do you think? [6]
But HB thinks:

jk, this was like a Romney "attack" ad. Don't you realize that you are not allowed to contrast your opinions with those of the Huckster?

In all seriousness, this was a great takedown of Huckabee.

Posted by: HB at January 1, 2008 9:30 AM
But jk thinks:

Thanks for the kind words. The Governor assures me that he has some very compromising pictures of you from a Mexican vacation a few years back, but that he is seeking to elevate the tone.

Posted by: jk at January 2, 2008 6:06 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Let's correct the corrector-

"I don't expect my country's *energy corporations* to supply all of the country's energy from domestic sources despite the fact they could do so in spades (and at a fraction of current prices) if not for the bald-faced obstructionism of our federal legislative and judicial branches."

Posted by: johngalt at January 3, 2008 4:07 PM
But jk thinks:

A fraction of current prices, perhaps, but probably never cheaper than importing it -- would you disagree? I'm all for developing domestic production, but I find it hard to believe that we could supply all of our needs at a cost lower than importing it.

I think we're on the same team, here. The "energy independence" crowd is going to boost domestic energy through regulation (let me know how that works out for you, kids...) But you are the first person I have heard posit that we could supply 100%

It's another form of trade bashing that leads to subsidizing Ethanol to prevent buying oil.

Posted by: jk at January 3, 2008 4:58 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Well, domestic sources of energy doesn't mean ONLY oil. Environmental regulations have blocked and, in at least one case, even prompted the DESTRUCTION of a hydroelectric generating station. The cleanest, cheapest, most sustainable and lowest impact method of energy production was dynamited solely so that poor fishes would not "be forced to use man-made ladders to return to their breeding grounds." I swear it makes me want to puke.

Nuclear is also a promising domestic source. Just ask the French.

Posted by: johngalt at January 3, 2008 11:52 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

The idea of a nation being energy independent is ludicrous. There's no reason to buy energy from residents of other nations. Unfortunately, the goddamn Democrats started it (where the hell where they in the 1980s when *conservatives* started the movement?), and Republicans jumped on board.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at January 4, 2008 12:59 PM

Good Economic News for 2007

Kevin Hassett of the American Enterprise Institute has a list of the Top 10 pieces of Happy Economic News in 2007.

Hat-tip: Samizdata

Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 4:46 PM

You Say You Want a Revolution?

Rep. Ron Paul graces the cover of Reason magazine this month, and the good Doctor gets a positive story inside by Brian Dougherty. The Wall Street Journal reports that the campaign raised $19 million in the fourth quarter.

I have been dismissive of the campaign, suggesting that the support has been quirky. I called the one-day fundraising records "gimmicks." After reading the Reason article, it occurs to me that I need to address why I will not be joining the Ron Paul Revolution. In a way, I have been waiting many years for such a candidate. "I don't want to run your life. I don't want to run the world." Shrink the government to its Constitutional size and purview. Why am I not onboard?

I guess my problem is the Constitution that Rep. Paul so ably defends. I agree with Paul on 80% of the issues. I agree with President George Bush on far less, I agree with Mayor Giuliani on less. Don't you pick the candidate with whom you most agree?

I'd open Ron's well-thumbed Constitution to Article I. The things with which I disagree most are clearly under Executive power. President Paul could close all our bases in the MidEast between Jell-O shots at the first Inauguration Ball. (This is not to say that he would drink Jell-O shots or close all our bases, but he could.)

President Nixon took us off Bretton Woods; I'm guessing that President Paul could put us back on a gold peg by Executive Order or indirectly through his nomination of a Fed Chairman. So, he takes a break from the nude Twister® game at the second Inaugural Ball, and he has already instituted the two policies I object to. We've withdrawn from the War on Terror and gone mettalist. And Sally Quinn is still sober! (This is not to say that President Paul would be playing nude Twister at an Inaugural Ball, but he could!)

The hangovers have worn off, and President Paul takes the rest of his ambitious agenda (the 80% I like) to the 111th Congress. He sits down with Majority Leader Reid and Speaker Pelosi and explains "we’re going to stop collecting taxes and paying welfare." "We're going to take all the young people off Social Security, Harry." "We're going to stop SCHIP, Nancy, It's not constitutional."

Am I the only one who remembers the howls from the AARP and the Republican controlled Congress when President Bush asked "Pretty please, could we take a couple of percent of young workers' withholdings for private accounts?" How about when President Bush wanted to expand SCHIP by only $35 billion." Dead. On. Arrival. He could veto some bills, but the 535 wanna-be-incumbents would plow him down.

All the stuff I don't want, none of what I do.

2008 Race Posted by John Kranz at 1:10 PM | What do you think? [4]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Of all the candidates who will provide gridlock, Ron Paul is the one who will. My friend Billy Beck is right to ask what will prevent Congress from laughing in Paul's face for four years. Meanwhile, Paul will have a serious face as he vetoes just about everything Congress sends him. Paul is the man who could finally give some Constitutional balls to the GOP, not only about spending, but about the extent of federal powers as a concept.

Odds are that Congress would override most of Paul's vetoes, laughing as they prepare to tell their constituents how much more bacon they're bringing home. If the American people then laugh at Paul's foolishness, very well. It will prove that we don't deserve the liberty that our forefathers fought for us to have. What's the alternative, a president like GWB who will "compromise" on just about everything, so that he'll avoid looking "weak" to the American people when the news continually reports on the veto overrides? Even Michelle Malkin understands the problem of compromise, which I've said before: compromise really means "watch your wallet."

Ron Paul isn't talking about returning us to a gold standard via executive power. He's talking about returning us to Constitutional money, which will require undoing what the executive branch has done, and Congress passing a law (which Paul has repeatedly introduced) to disband the Fed. Article I, Section 8 states that Congress shall have power "To coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin, and fix the standard of weights and measures." There's no provision for a Federal Reserve, or any other quasi-private entity to whom we pay interest while it rapes our money.

Oh, and don't give Nixon too much credit. FDR was the one who started things by forcible confiscation of gold. By the end of WW2, it was evident that the world needed to return to sound money. But while Bretton Woods was a monetary system with a great basis on gold, it was so "managed" that it was the equivalent of NAFTA and free trade. NAFTA is freer trade, but not free trade.

As C-in-C, any president has every bit of discretion to close our military bases. Alternatively, Congress has the power to withhold funding from the military. (Charlie Rangel was right, but there's that old saying about stopped clocks.) That's how the checks and balances really work. It's not about absurd "compromise," but about one branch saying to another, "No, that's against the Constitution, so I won't let you do that."

The Founders' intent was that Congress pass *specific* bills about spending specific amounts on specific things, and the President could then veto such bills. Even if Congress overrode the veto, the President could still choose not to exercise the law. The Founders had great wisdom, knowing it's preferable to have government doing too little than a government doing too much.

Andrew Jackson reputedly claimed, "John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it!" This sounds similar to what I've expressed above, but it was actually unconstitutional. Jackson wasn't refusing to execute a law, but rather using federal powers that the legislative and executive branch decided they had, though the judiciary ruled they did not have such authority.

By the way, I've still never heard anyone provide a good explanation as to why we still have a military presence in Saudi Arabia.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at January 3, 2008 3:30 PM
But jk thinks:

The gridlock would be awesome. I'll gladly cede that point. My point is that the sweeping changes he promotes -- and that I support -- would have zero chance of surviving a veto.

I think Rangel and Company could use the purse strings to stop the military if they had the votes. But I don't see any way that Congress could oppose a President who wanted to bring the troops home.

Ergo, President Paul easily succeeds in ceding our hard won interests in the MidEast but has little chance of radical cuts in domestic spending. I'll change my close to "all of the bad and a little bit of the good" if it pleases you but I think my points hold.

Why do we have a military presence in a generally-friendly country with the world's largest oil reserves, tactical transportation advantages on the Suez Canal, in an extremely important part of the globe militarily, diplomatically, and financially, from whose shores a majority of the 9/11 attackers came, where there is a large potential for domestic unrest, which is very near to Syria, Iraq, and Iran? I don't know, let me get back to you on that.

Posted by: jk at January 3, 2008 5:16 PM
But jk thinks:

Perry, I meant my last paragraph to be moderately snarky but not nearly as much as it sounds. Please reduce by a 0.5 snark coefficient.

Posted by: jk at January 3, 2008 5:35 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Oh, I agreed before you said it that Paul would never return the federal government to his constitutional limits. Congress would never go along on just about everything he proposed. But other than the gridlock, it would, as I said, prove that Americans don't deserve the freedom we once had. It will force us to take a stand: are we a nation of freedom, or a nation of sheeple?

"I think Rangel and Company could use the purse strings to stop the military if they had the votes."

Strangely enough, or maybe not so strangely, a majority of the American people now oppose the Iraq war and want to bring the troops home, but Dems still don't have the balls to do so.

As I pointed out in an older thread, Saddam is long gone. Saudi Arabia has no enemies now. Who is threatening it, Egypt? Syria and Iran wouldn't dare -- they'd be bombed back to the Stone Age, and with justification. The same would happen to the Suez Canal. Our deployment abilities today don't require a *permanent* military presence in Saudi Arabia to stage any counteroffensives. There's no military justification for us to stay there. Temporarily in case of action, like the first Gulf War, yes. But not a permanent presence.

We don't need American troops to stay in Saudi Arabia to cement their society. That's not our job, and even if it were, our presence only helps destabilize things by providing an excuse for terrorist leaders (more on this later). And are you suggesting that our presence might deter hijackers, or somehow provide intelligence about them? It didn't work before; we should have no expections that it will now or in the future.

If anything, Osama and other terrorist leaders use our presence there as an excuse to recruit impressionable young men. Once again, Ron Paul and I aren't saying that "blowback" is justified, but we're saying that it *happens*. Saudi teenagers look at the men with American flags on their shoulders, and enough believe that they're an "occupying force."

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at January 4, 2008 1:30 PM

Cui Bono?

A good friend of ThreeSources sends a link to this WaPo story and wonders whom it will hurt. My Latin isn't up to that, so I wonder who will benefit.

New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, a potential independent candidate for president, has scheduled a meeting next week with a dozen leading Democrats and Republicans, who will join him in challenging the major-party contenders to spell out their plans for forming a "government of national unity" to end the gridlock in Washington.

Those who will be at the Jan. 7 session at the University of Oklahoma say that if the likely nominees of the two parties do not pledge to "go beyond tokenism" in building an administration that seeks national consensus, they will be prepared to back Bloomberg or someone else in a third-party campaign for president.

Conveners of the meeting include such prominent Democrats as former senators Sam Nunn (Ga.), Charles S. Robb (Va.) and David L. Boren (Okla.), and former presidential candidate Gary Hart. Republican organizers include Sen. Chuck Hagel (Neb.), former party chairman Bill Brock, former senator John Danforth (Mo.) and former New Jersey governor Christine Todd Whitman.

I think Bloomberg is running. He seems to be making a lot of noise and inquiries, and if he ever wants to do it, this is certainly the year. I wouldn't be surprised to see Rep. Ron Paul run as a Libertarian, though Reason Magazine points out some legal hurdles.

I guess it depends on the final candidate list, but I think this tends to hurt the Democrats. It's an escape valve for those who do not care for Senator Clinton (just last week I encountered two very liberal Democrats who said they cannot support her), and if Senator Obama gets the nomination, a Bloomberg run would bleed off the "nice guy" vote.

The social conservatives and the economic conservatives are unlikely to find a home in a Bloomberg-Hagel ticket. We'll see how many antiwar Republicans there are, but I am guessing that is not a huge plurality.

Who loses? Those who send money to this doomed enterprise. Who wins? David Harsanyi -- sales of his Nanny State book should soar -- Mayor Bloomberg gets quite a few pages.

UPDATE: Jonah Goldberg links to a David Weigel post that projects a GOP victory if Bloomberg spoils NY for the Democrats and Ohio and Florida for the Republicans. Interstin'...

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 11:23 AM


With the Iowa caucuses taking place on Thursday, I thought that it would be fun (ex post, with a great deal of laughing) for bloggers and readers to make predictions about the results of the Iowa caucus as well as the ultimate nominations. While I am usually pretty good at predicting presidential victories, I am terrible at these types of predictions and thus this should provide some entertainment. With that being said, here are my predictions:

Caucus results:

1. Obama
2. Clinton
3. Edwards

1. Romney
2. Huckabee
3. Thompson

(Upset special: Ron Paul will do better in Iowa than Rudy)

...with Clinton and Romney emerging as the ultimate candidates for their respective parties.

Post your predictions in the comments...

2008 Race Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 10:05 AM | What do you think? [3]
But jk thinks:

Sure I'll play, though we sadly agree on 83%:

Dem: Obama, Clinton, Edwards
GOP: Romney Huckabee, McCain

I also agree on Paul beating Giuliani. My outsider prediction will be that Edwards loses badly enough to be mortally wounded. As the great political pundit Liza Minnelli says: If he can't make it there, he can't make it anywhere.

Next November? Giuliani v. Clinton v. Bloomberg

Posted by: jk at December 31, 2007 11:13 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I, for one, see things a bit differently:

Dummycrats - Obama, Edwards, Clinton
Publicspendicans - Huckabee, Romney, Thompson

I don't think Edwards is going away anytime soon with Hillary on such shaky ground.

And I'm still optimistic that Thompson can make a substantive impression on voters between now and Super Tuesday.

Out-on-a-limb nominee predictions - Edwards v. Thompson

(Yes it's a stretch, but not a lot less likely than any other pairing.)

Posted by: johngalt at December 31, 2007 1:52 PM
But HB thinks:

I think that Fred! has a better chance than Rudy! However, potential points to jk for including Bloomberg (although aides to Bloomberg have said that he will absolutely not run against Rudy because of their relationship and Rudy's endorsement).

Posted by: HB at January 1, 2008 9:07 AM

December 30, 2007

Review Corner

A couple of good books.

Nanny State: How Food Fascists, Teetotaling Do-Gooders, Priggish Moralists, and other Boneheaded Bureaucrats are Turning America into a Nation of Children by David Harsanyi: the title says it all.

Harsanyi collects a diverse crew. They cover a wide political spectrum, but each wants to impede your freedom. From the "No Running!" sign on the kids' playground, to trans-fat bans, he gives a consistent voice for freedom and personal responsibility. I don't think much of the information will be new to ThreeSourcers, although I was interested in the "scope creep" of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and new, zero-tolerance laws that criminalize driving with any measurable blood alcohol content.

One senses Haranyi is preaching to the choir. Still it is amusing, well paced, and chock full of outrageous examples. I give it four stars.

New Monetarism by David Roche and Bob McKee.

I purchased this based on a WSJ Editorial Roche wrote a few weeks ago. It made a lot of sense to me and I wanted to read more. ThreeSources friend Perry Eidlebus pronounced it "a steaming pile of bull." I'd like to buy Perry, and perhaps the Everyday Economist, a copy for a late Christmas present. As proof of disinflation, the book was $10.50 when I bought it, but it is now available for $9.61. It is a small, 80 page paperback -- about as long as an article in City Journal.

But he speaks to something I have long believed and argued on this blog. The existence of "disinflation" and the creation of money supra-central-banks. The diagram on the front speaks to a continuing argument 'round these parts. The bottom of the "liquidity pyramid" is money created by central banks, the next level shows the multiplier of fractional reserve banking, then money created by securitized debt, and lastly the multiplier of derivatives. Though a quick read, it is well documented.

Roche and McKee give voice (and documentation) to the Kudlow-Laffer school, but the authors do not share their sunny optimism. Their concepts of disinflation and their expanded view of liquidity comport, but Roche and McKee expect a cataclysmic bubble burst because so much of this liquidity is based on risk appetite, and that a small correction could bring the entire structure down.

I hate to take all their cheery predictions without the bad, but I think that they discount the fundamental point of derivatives, namely, getting risk into the hands of those that can best accept it. Roche and McKee advise (and let me be clear, this book is positioned more toward investment advice than economics) you to go long volatility. I wonder if they are ignoring the effect of instruments that would allow you to do so.

Interesting. Quick read, Three-and-a-half. Email me an address if you want me send you a copy.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 12:07 PM

Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism

I have not bought it, so what is it doing in Review Corner?

One of the Kos kids wants to Googlebomb the book, guiding searchers to negative reviews. To prove I can be just as childish, I offer links to this corner post, this PowerLine review, and this Instapundit post. So there, Kossaks!

I will likely buy the book and do a real Review Corner, maybe if my new Amazon Kindle® ever ships. ('Twas a very Merry Christmas for me!)

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 11:42 AM

December 29, 2007

At Least it Wasn't Marlburos...

When is a scandal not a scandal? Maybe when a company provides advice to another company selling a legal product.

Mayor Giuliani was on Kudlow & Co, last night. Too bad for him, Larry is off this week. CNBC's John Harwood was auditioning for Chris Matthews's job, asking Hizzoner several questions about this NY Times report. Pretty damning stuff: "Under Attack, Drug Maker Turned to Giuliani for Help."

I think Purdue Pharma was just exercising its Constitutional right to PR (Article VIII, Paragraph xix). The Times, and Harwood, feel that some abuse of a painkiller precludes any responsible people working for the company. I had to go searching for this story this morning to see what he was talking about. Nobody else was talking about it because it is a non-story.

Bad enough to manufacture a scandal against a political candidate, it's part and parcel of the war against the pharmaceutical sector. People are in pain, and firms that develop and distribute products that help should be celebrated, not vilified. Even for the Times, this is bad.

2008 Race Posted by John Kranz at 10:38 AM

December 28, 2007

Huck-a-Whack, December 28

Club for Growth (Club for Greed in Huckaspeech) links to the Politico Populist Quiz. Every question is multiple choice. Did Senator Edwards or Governor Huckabee say:

1. “No young person is more equal than another person because he has a higher IQ, or a higher net worth, or because he lives in a nicer home, or his clothes have a label of a designer that the other guy doesn’t have. That’s not what gives us equality.”

2. “There is unfortunately some disconnect between people who have never struggled and those for whom everyday life is a struggle.”

3. “The richest people in America are getting richer. The big corporations’ profits are going through the roof. What is happening to the middle class? What is happening to working people in this country?”

4. “Is it still possible that this country will elect a president not because he had the most money but because he really did represent the most of the ordinary Americans in this nation who understand what it’s like to live to work to try to raise a family? And for many Americans, it’s working with no net underneath us.”

5. “This election is about right and wrong. This election is about what is moral and what is not. … It is immoral to have veterans going to sleep under bridges. It is immoral to have children whose parents have to fend for health care at the hospital. This is not America.”

6. “I’ve been concerned for some time about the fact that the economic growth in the country seems to be completely concentrated at the top, with big corporations and the richest Americans, and middle-class families are struggling.”

7. “There’s nothing unique about me. Virtually everyone in this room has a parent or a grandparent who struggled and sacrificed, and they worked for you, and they did that for a reason. We can’t have that taken away.”

8. “For my family, summer was never a verb. We summered in hay fields and chicken yards and all kinds of stuff."

Answers and bonus holiday question at Politico. (I got six out of eight).

2008 Race Posted by John Kranz at 4:27 PM | What do you think? [2]
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Um,....all of the above?

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at December 28, 2007 10:18 PM
But jk thinks:

Um,...I knew somebody was going to try that that. Nope, which are Edwards's and which are Huckabee's?

Posted by: jk at December 29, 2007 10:40 AM

I Agree With Glenn Greenwald

Stop the presses! Moonbat lefty, Glenn Greenwald, has penned a paragraph with which I cannot disagree. I was going to attack Peggy Noonan's insane WSJ Editorial this morning. Maybe after a few cups of coffee, I might have said something like:

What a stupid and vapid woman this is, but respected and admired by our media class because she fits right in with them — endlessly impressed by her own sophistication, maturity and insight while drooling out platitudes one never hears except in seventh-grade cafeterias and on our political talk shows. As always, this isn’t worth noting because the adolescent stupidity on display here is unique to Noonan, but precisely because it isn’t. This is how our national elections are decided: by people like her, spewing things like this.

That's Greenwald, quoted in a Protein Wisdom post which is concerned with whether (as Greenwald charges) Noonan used a pejorative term when she said John Edwards was "poofing" his hair on YouTube.

Without delving into poof etymology (Rule #2, No Poofters!) I can't fault Grunewald’s distain for today's column. It's a crowning achievement in years of decline for Noonan. Look at my posts from three or four years ago, and you'll see she was one of my favorite writers.

Now I think she is becoming the Republicans' Helen Thomas. Today she enumerates which Presidential candidates are "reasonable" enough to be President. Biden: yes, Dodd: yes, Clinton: yes but no... She dismisses Edwards for the famous YouTube hair care tutorial, but not policy.

I've made the comparison before, but again, read Noonan. then compare to a typically smart column from Kim Strassel comparing Senator Obama's "New Ideas" to classic, boilerplate liberalism.

The torch has been passed, the runner has left the county, the tables have been picked up and the spectators have gone home. Strassel is the political voice of the WSJ Ed page.

Media and Blogging Posted by John Kranz at 3:35 PM

Calf Blogging is Back

Great picture.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:38 PM

December 27, 2007

Huck-a-Whack, December 27, 2007

Mike Huckabee is still giving paid speeches and he is charging up to $25,000 per appearance. When asked about the practice, Huckabee responded,

"Unlike the members of the Senate or Congress who continue to get their paycheck and get a taxpayer-funded salary, and unlike people who are independently wealthy, if I don't work, I don't eat."

Do I even need to offer my thoughts?

2008 Race Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 8:40 PM | What do you think? [4]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I don't mind that too much. "Tradition" is not inherently right or proper, and nobody's being forced to hire him for a gig. What I find sad is that he has to defend the amount charged. Nobody should *ever* have to defend what they receive in a voluntary transaction. Those hiring Hucksterbee or others aren't being forced to pay more than they're willing; if they didn't want to pay $25,000 a pop, why did they pay it after all?

On the other hand, the sanctimonious f*** inserted another Biblical reference. It's another example of his pandering to evangelicals, who tend to be very familiar with scriptures (and where a certain phrase originated).

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at December 28, 2007 9:23 AM
But HB thinks:

I don't really have a problem with him giving paid speeches either. However, his justification for doing so is clearly lacking.

Posted by: HB at December 28, 2007 10:08 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I don't have a problem at all with his justification. His income is derived from purely voluntary transactions, whether or not the rest of us consider the cost worthwhile.

On the other hand, taxpayers are coerced into paying for the salaries and offices of elected representatives and bureaucrats they neither like nor want.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at December 28, 2007 1:09 PM
But Harrison Bergeron thinks:

His justification is a blatant populist appeal to pity. If he had simply said that every man has a right to make a living as he sees fit, then I would have no problem with his response. However, his answer was an attempt to put down his opponents -- especially Romney -- as not being average Joes. His pandering is becoming increasingly tiresome.

Posted by: Harrison Bergeron at December 28, 2007 4:12 PM

Property Rights? Right to Contract?

I laughed when I heard Senator John Kerry pontificating on people's needing cable to watch the Pats-Giants game. (How's the Deep Thoughts line go? "We all laughed at Grandpa when he got up at 6:00 AM to go fishing, but nobody was laughing that night when he came home with some whore he'd picked up in town...)

I ain't laughin' neither. The league has capitulated to Congressional pressure to give away something it purchased. Mortman has the details in Are You Ready for Some Congress? He links to the NYTimes:

The league's decision to simulcast the game came amid mounting Congressional pressure to make the potentially historic game more broadly available.

The Connecticut delegation wrote to Commissioner Roger Goodell that the league’s definition of home markets was "unduly narrow," leaving fans in cities around the state where loyalties are divided between their Giants and Patriots, without the same local broadcast option afforded the New York and Boston markets.

The Rhode Island delegation also protested the league’s market designations that would have deprived Patriots' fans in Providence and throughout the state of seeing their team go undefeated unless they subscribed to DirecTV or the Dish Network, or got the NFL Netword from their local cable operators.

The league was also warned by Senator Patrick Leahy, Democrat of Vermont and the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania and the ranking member of the committee, that it was "exercising its substantial market power to the detriment of consumers."

Mortman is prepared to adjust to Our New Congressional Overlords:
With this kind of meddling going on, I’m now resigned to joining the bandwagon. My new position: I hope that Congress demand the Washington Redskins beat the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. I’d settle for a sense of the Congress resolution, but if they want to withhold funds from the Iraq war effort until the Redskins win the Super Bowl, I’m fine with that.

I just hope I can interest some of them in hockey...

But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

As I left in comments on a friend's blog, it's just the latest legislative blackmail.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at December 28, 2007 9:59 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Karol linked to here, filled with comments from all these goddamn morons who like to *force* others to provide them free goods and services. Taxes aren't the only way.

You have such ignorance as, "Come 2009 anyone who does not have cable service will not be able to see any television, as broadcast TV will no longer exist." As if the networks were doing this, not government (that decided to terminate regular broadcasting so it could sell off the airwaves).

I'd better stop now before I get really, really pissed off.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at December 28, 2007 9:59 AM
But jk thinks:

I was reading the comments on the second link (and yours on the first, Perry, well done!).

I don't know if the moonbat ones are the worst, or the more moderate voices who really seem to believe that they somehow own football or have a right to the NFL's private property. One guy starts "With all the money we pay into the NFL..." Huh? If you hold season tickets, you can attend the game in person. If you're a big advertiser, I'm sure you will be able to score a skybox (my Advertising-Agency-Owning-Dad used to get me in to watch the network feed of blacked out games).

Many commenters point out that Senator Kerry (and we) have bigger things to worry about, but I find it pretty disturbing. Hernando De Soto said that the magic of capitalism is built on property rights. This is a shameful episode.

Enjoy the game!

Posted by: jk at December 28, 2007 12:31 PM

Attila! on Rudy!

Attila at Pillage Idiot turns his photo caption skills at Hizzoner, whacking him a bit before admitting "I might actually vote for the guy."

Welcome aboard Team Rudy, Attila, that's pretty much our motto: "I might actually vote for the guy."

UPDATE: How could I have neglected to excerpt the first frame?

Posted by John Kranz at 6:20 PM

Dave Lindorff is Crazy

Dave Lindorff can not only predict the future, but he also has the ability to relish the potential plight of others:

So the future political map of America is likely to look as different as the much shrunken geographical map, with much of the so-called “red” state region either gone or depopulated.

There is a poetic justice to this of course. It is conservatives who are giving us the candidates who steadfastly refuse to have the nation take steps that could slow the pace of climate change, so it is appropriate that they should bear the brunt of its impact.

The important thing is that we, on the higher ground both actually and figuratively, need to remember that, when they begin their historic migration from their doomed regions, we not give them the keys to the city. They certainly should be offered assistance in their time of need, but we need to keep a firm grip on our political systems, making sure that these guilty throngs who allowed the world to go to hell are gerrymandered into political impotence in their new homes.

He has even reduced the century time-frame that most global warming prognosticators rely upon, saying that,

The area that will by completely inundated by the rising ocean—and not in a century but in the lifetime of my two cats—are the American southeast, including the most populated area of Texas, almost all of Florida, most of Louisiana, and half of Alabama and Mississippi, as well as goodly portions of eastern Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.

This piece is nothing but hyperbole. He wants to punish those who do not believe that he and others like him can predict the future. What kind of man gets pleasure from the plight of others who merely disagree with him?

I would be willing to bet a substantial sum that these areas will not be inundated in the lifetime of his cats -- and I would even give them nine lives!

But jk thinks:

Ahh, yes, from the people who care...

I'm thinking his political geography is worse than his meteorology. The coastal areas are deep azure blue, are they not? You're going to submerge Alabama but New York and San Francisco will be okay?

Okay, so Florida loses some electoral votes, but I used to cross Texas in my musician days -- trust me, it's pretty big. Sheila Jackson Lee's district is in trouble, but there will be many dry Republican seats left. Some well placed tides in California might even make California Republican -- surf Bakersfield!

Posted by: jk at December 27, 2007 11:35 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Lindorff is not crazy, he is retarded. His idea of science is to take an average of science related news stories and draw conclusions based upon the "preponderance of opinion." And he calls himself a Progressive? Only in the sense of making progress *back* in time.

The major instrument that makes people like him possible in large numbers is America's public education system and its growing abandonment of objective knowledge in every subject of study. If *that* trend is not reversed then the red states will be overflown by blue hoardes who believe government can make things so (cars getting more energy from the same gallon of gas is a timely example) simply by enacting a law.

Lindorff's closing appeal for the right to say, "Shut up - we told you this would happen," is equally applicable to my prediction as to his.

And as for this Libtard's predictions, HB, I don't just bet against them - I *guarantee* them to be complete nonsense.

The most alarming observation about Dave "The Case for Impeachment" Lindorff's fantasy prognostication is his willingness to completely abandon democracy in order to "gerrymander" the fairy tale ending he so craves. "They certainly should be offered assistance in their time of need, but *we* need to keep a *firm grip* on *our* political systems..." If that's not tacit admission that the blue, mostly urban, areas of *our* country are soviet-style socialist *utopias* I don't know what is.

Posted by: johngalt at December 27, 2007 2:59 PM
But jk thinks:

Don Luskin links as well, attracting this comment:

The twisted fantasy of Dave Lindorff is a great example of the real silver lining within the global warming scam. Lefty moonbats are revealed for what they really are: hate-filled, anti-progress, anti-business, anti-human lunatics. They might not come to an understanding of the Laffer curve in several cat lifetimes but we’ll all know soon enough that this whole movement is just a big alarmist myth. I had great fun making handshake bets at holiday parties that by next Christmas the press, (yes even the mainstream media will capitulate), will be telling a different tale as more scientists come to the forefront and proclaim their disagreement and even disgust with the whole deal. Certainly in my dog’s lifetime this scam will be revealed for what it is and those who truly do care about the environment will realize that the greater cause suffered a setback in credibility from Gore and his ilk.

Posted by: jk at December 27, 2007 5:08 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

The goddamn idiot thinks that the liberal cities can keep the Atlantic at bay by dike systems?

Let me personally assure you all, when one is driving along Manhattan's West Side Highway for the first time when it rains hard, one can get frightened with the waves looking ready to come onto the pavement. There's no way in hell that a system of "Dutch-style dikes" will protect New York any more than New Orleans was protected.

Oh, and with the Midwest dried up and all its staunch conservatives dead, agricultural exports will drop. Because the U.S. is the *world's* breadbasket, he rest of the world won't be able to feed itself, so there will be famine across the world. Their economies will shrink, and they in turn won't be buying other American exports either. But a loss of jobs will be the least of the surviving liberals' worries. I hope they like cannibalism, because there sure as hell won't be enough food to go around for Americans alone.

Hmm, that new world sounds like "Resident Evil." Since liberalism IS evil, it fits.

"It should be considered acceptable, in this stifling new world, to say, 'Shut up. We told you this would happen.'"

I wholeheartedly agree with this statement, in a different way. That's what the rest of us will say to liberals when we take back our rights by *force*.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at December 28, 2007 10:36 AM
But jk thinks:

Heh. Bill Quick suggests the response to "Shut Up" might be Bang! in Be Careful What You Wish For, Unarmed Pussies

Posted by: jk at December 28, 2007 12:17 PM

December 26, 2007

Huck-a-Whack, Evening Edition

There is a reason Fred Thompson has a rule against hats...

2008 Race Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 9:47 PM | What do you think? [5]
But johngalt thinks:

If you're going to do a "gun-totin' photo op" in December...

But it's worth the risk for Huck to display himself in *God's* creation working with one of *God's* creatures to hunt down and kill another of *God's* creatures with *God's* infamous gas-recoil semi-automatic 12 gauge shotgun with synthetic stock and mossy oak finish. And he shows his common-man ethic by doing all this in the company of a pair of fellow non-primate descendent sons of Adam.

Well, at least he's not a vegetarian.

Posted by: johngalt at December 27, 2007 3:20 PM
But jk thinks:

Funniest. Comment. Ever. Well done, jg. Awesome post, hb. Not sure even Geri would look good in that.

Posted by: jk at December 27, 2007 7:16 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Let's see. The leading Democratic candidate says people should vote for her because she's a woman.

Now one of the new leading GOP candidates wants to look like a good choice because he can blow away a small bird?

I'm not a tree-hugger by any means, but I have a soft spot for animals, and I fail to see why killing such a creature is worthy of a "sportsman." My sister and her husband like to hunt bears, let Hucksterbee try that.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at December 28, 2007 11:22 AM
But jk thinks:

Without "*God's* infamous gas-recoil semi-automatic 12 gauge shotgun with synthetic stock and mossy oak finish." I'd spot him one of *God's* classic Bowie Knives with a Bakelite® handle...

Posted by: jk at December 28, 2007 2:13 PM
But jk thinks:

Bonus Whack: Bad hunting form

Posted by: jk at December 28, 2007 4:43 PM

A Thank You Letter

On Michael Yon's site from LTC Jim Crider, thanking America for letting him serve us so proudly.

The experience of war changes people. For some it is a negative change but most manage to absorb the experience and use it to make themselves stronger. I have said goodbye to a mortally wounded soldier in the hospital, spoken to grieving family members of our casualties, and tried to comfort soldiers who just lost their best friend in a single violent moment. I have been under fire, looked insurgents in the eye, and seen corruption up close. I have also seen people emerge from oppression and live with hope for the first time in years. I have seen children reach up and grasp the hands of American soldiers just because they trust them. I have felt the desire to help and then been given the resources to do it. Finally, I have felt the close knit camaraderie that develops when you serve with a group of people fighting for a cause larger than self. Yes, this experience has changed me. I am stronger, more driven, and humbled all at the same time.

Those who know me know I am not often speechless. But this one the whole thing.

Hat-tip: Insty

Freedom on the March Posted by John Kranz at 5:53 PM

Huck-a-Whack, Boxing Day Edition

I hope the Governor enjoyed his Christmas off. I thought of letting the spirit of Christmas pervade me and setting aside the Quotidian Huck-a-Whack® Then I saw this:

But as Huckabee now mounts his closing argument for the Iowa caucuses, he has moved full bore into the rhetoric of economic populism. "I am out to change the Republican Party. It needs changing. It needs to be inclusive of all those people across America for whom this party should stand," he said Sunday, on CBS's Face The Nation. On the trail, he speaks regularly of challenging the "Washington to Wall Street power axis." He frankly acknowledges the suffering of the stagnating middle class, and even offers up government as a part of the solution. "The President ought to be aware that the people struggle," he said in Muscatine on Friday morning. "He ought to be aware every time a decision is made — whether [or not] it's to raise taxes — how it's going to hurt the family out there, who can barely pay the grocery bill as it is."

At some of these events, if you close your eyes, you would think a Democrat was speaking — Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton turned southern Baptist. "I really think that a lot of people who are elected to government forget," Huckabee will say. "They are not elected to the ruling class but to the servant class."

Hat-tip: Hugh, who says The GOP does not need changing. I don't know about that, but I cannot argue with his follow up:
What the GOP definitely does not need is neopopulism, class warfare, and identity politics of the sort Mike Huckabee has been selling the last four weeks. Huckabee's lunge left may not have been premeditated, but it clearly displayed a candidate with no anchor in the GOP's tradition of fiscal restraint, free trade and low taxes and a very limited understanding of the world's most dangerous forces.

I also agree with Hugh's close. This may sell in Iowa, but this is not a winning GOP strategy.

2008 Race Posted by John Kranz at 1:13 PM | What do you think? [4]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Whosoever believeth the lies of the Hucksterbee, let him be damned.

And um, Hugh Hewitt needs a history lesson. The GOP now is for free trade, but it hardly has a tradition of it. Abraham Lincoln was a protectionist, touting the Republican Party's Whig heritage that favored a "high, protective tariff."

Which president signed Hawley-Smoot? Hint: the same one who tried to "fix" the Great Depression early on with massive tax hikes and work programs. NOT Franklin Delano Roosevelt -- FDR merely continued what was started before him.

FDR instituted rationing. Which president worked with the Fed to initiate the first-ever price controls?

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at December 26, 2007 3:31 PM
But jk thinks:

Yeah, Hewitt is a little more generous toward the party than I am feeling these days. To be fair, I take that quote out of context, he sez:

The GOP does not need "changing." It needs reminding and it needs energy in its new leader. It needs to recommit to its traditional stand against excessive spending and the growth of government...

I will defend the GOP a bit. It has stood against "neopopulism, class warfare, and identity politics of the sort Mike Huckabee has been selling." It disturbs me that they are not more dedicated to free trade, but against Senator Clinton who wants to roll back NAFTA, they remain a far least-worse camp.

Posted by: jk at December 26, 2007 6:06 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Hewitt is such a GOP shill. That quote is even worse.

"its traditional stand against excessive spending and the growth of government..."

That's a load of horse****. The GOP came from the Whig Party, as I said, and started with a tradition of *big* government. Lincoln was "The Great Centralizer" who expanded the federal government far more than any of his predecessors (perhaps combined). As I coincidentally was telling a friend at lunchtime today, Milton Friedman once pointed out that the federal government until the Civil War functioned on revenues generated almost solely from a modest import tariff -- a uniform one that favored no nation over another, and whose purpose was to fund a minimal federal government. Well, Lincoln brought back non-commodity-backed paper currency, instituted the first income tax, instituted the first-ever draft, and suspended habeas corpus. Two of these were later found unconstitutional; it's a shame all four weren't. Scholar Tom DiLorenzo has also noted that Lincoln had 300 newspaper editors thrown into prison, because of their writings against the Civil War. (And people accuse Bush of stifling freedom of speech???)

You can read more in an older post of mine, "The big government traditions of the GOP."

Teddy Roosevelt was a "progressive" who liked government to start doing more for the people, such as the relative few to enjoy "national parks" courtesy of the tax dollars of the many.

Calvin Coolidge was the first supply-sider president, if only because he was only the second to preside under an income tax. Unfortunately, he hardly established a tradition of low taxes and limited government. Hoover's and Nixon's sins I already documented above.

It wasn't until Bill Buckley, and then Goldwater, that the GOP started shifting toward limited government. Even then, it was mostly only *talk*. Spending never decreased under Reagan or either Bush. The best we could hope for was a tax cut -- equivalent to hoping a mugger will only take your cash and leave you your credit cards.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at December 28, 2007 1:50 PM
But jk thinks:

Well, I'm a GOP shill and the only time I really care for Mr. Hewitt is when he is shilling.

I love history, Perry. I'm writing a history book. But I don't know the value of party history beyond academic interest. I shill for the Reagan and post-Reagan GOP. I don't accept TR, Hoover or Nixon policies any more than Speaker Pelosi celebrates the Dixiecrats who blocked civil rights legislation.

I'm not certain where the Whigs stood on identity politics, but I am comfortable backing Hewitt's claim that -- for all its flaws -- the Republican party of my voting years has clearly been the better party for those opposed to "neopopulism, class warfare, and identity politics of the sort Mike Huckabee has been selling."

Posted by: jk at December 28, 2007 2:06 PM

More Important Issues

We have talked about Hillary's cleavage and Obama's "blackness", so it is only fitting that we must now turn to Mitt Romney's hair:

Romney has all the advantages: money, organization, geographic proximity, statesman-like hair, etc.

Even Paul Krugman is tired of the main issue of the election:

It’s hard to feel sorry for Mitt Romney — and actually, I don’t. Still, he may be the first candidate to receive two “undorsements” that mention, as one of his flaws, that his hair is too good.

2008 Race Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 12:42 PM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

Reaganesque hair.

Posted by: jk at December 26, 2007 1:28 PM

Does 2.4 Really Lack Luster?

The WSJ News pages report "Stocks Drop on Weak Retail." Huh? I had heard that they were up 3.8% YOY -- not bad for the middle of a housing recession that has most Americans living in Tent Cities.

The next article points out that the 3.8 figure was 3.6 and that it included lots of expensive gas.

The 11th-hour rush helped strengthen a weak holiday season. From the day after Thanksgiving to midnight Monday, total retail sales, excluding automobiles, rose 3.6% over the previous year, according to MasterCard SpendingPulse, a unit of MasterCard Advisors. But factoring out spending on gasoline -- which soared thanks to a 27% average price increase since this time last year -- retail sales increased a lackluster 2.4%. Industry forecasts had predicted gains of 3.5% to as high as 4.5%.

Maybe you don't throw a party for 2.4%. or give your staff the week off. But the mercenary bears on Kudlow & Co. have been saying that the recession has already started and that the consumer has thrown in the MasterCard. I think 2.4 growth in a difficult year is a pretty good sign.

But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

One of my economics commandments: thou shalt not measure an economy by consumer spending alone.

Spending doesn't matter as long as the economy grows overall. Employment, REAL employment that creates well, depends as much on savings as on spending.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at December 26, 2007 3:46 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I should add: GASOLINE COUNTS AS MUCH AS ANYTHING ELSE! It counts as much to economic growth as groceries, rent and business investment.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at December 26, 2007 3:47 PM

December 25, 2007

Global Schwarming!

For the second Christmas in a row, I am snowed in and cannot attend the family functions. Last year, I missed my family's, my wife's family's, and a rescheduled event.

To be honest, there is not a lot of snow up here. But I heard that there was 6-8" at my destination and it is still coming down. It does not help that I have the world's worst snow car, with bald tires.

I'm not complaining, mind you -- we have food, wine, and broadband. It will be a while before we have to eat some of the weaker ones...

Merry Christmas!

But johngalt thinks:

Being an odd numbered year we're Christmasing in Sunny Seattle (several of us have corroborating stories of a five to ten minute period of unmitigated direct sunlight this morning) but we're even seeing some snowfall here. Nothing that will have to be shoveled, mind you. Clearly the Globe is Warming Deleteriously and the cause is obviously Anthropogenic.

If it makes you feel better JK, our Lafayette based horse sitter called us to say the roads are too icy for her to safely trek to Atlantis Farm and nourish our equines. We had to call on an intrepid and irreplaceable neighbor to pinch hit for this evening.

And that d@mn3d Weather Link software I have to run on my PC to upload observation data to the internet isn't working. (There's something about going to Seattle that causes all of my automated processes to cr@p the bed within 24 hours.) Apologies for the "No Data" Atlantis Farm weather applet. This may be the last straw in my debate over buying the brand new direct IP connect version. Maybe it will restart itself automatically.

Posted by: johngalt at December 25, 2007 4:40 PM
But jk thinks:

Merry Christmas to the Machos from us!

I wondered if your transmitter had iced over like a satellite dish. Good old Colorado, it's sunny this morning and all will be fine before noon.

Thank NED for neighbors. My across-the-street, reciprocal-dog-sit neighbor has shoveled my walk for the past two years. I hire out the yard work but I would not have been able to stay here without him. I have offered to purchase a new snowblower but he has so far taken this task on unremunerated (I guess I am a dirty hippie after all).

Posted by: jk at December 26, 2007 11:05 AM

December 24, 2007

Didn't Ted Nugent Write About Tent Cities?

No. Wait. That was "Intensities in Ten Cities."

ThreeSources friend Perry Eidlebus has submitted the leading nomination to Don Luskin's "most insanely exaggerated news story concerning the housing market slump." It's a goodie:

ONTARIO, Calif., Dec 21 (Reuters) - Between railroad tracks and beneath the roar of departing planes sits "tent city," a terminus for homeless people. It is not, as might be expected, in a blighted city center, but in the once-booming suburbia of Southern California.
The noisy, dusty camp sprang up in July with 20 residents and now numbers 200 people, including several children, growing as this region east of Los Angeles has been hit by the U.S. housing crisis.

The unraveling of the region known as the Inland Empire reads like a 21st century version of "The Grapes of Wrath," John Steinbeck's novel about families driven from their lands by the Great Depression.

As more families throw in the towel and head to foreclosure here and across the nation, the social costs of collapse are adding up in the form of higher rates of homelessness, crime and even disease.

This is from The Guardian's business section. That's gotta be like being "Gay Pride Editor" at National Review, or the Faith and Religion section of The Objectivist Newsletter.

But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

It's a Reuters article that I first read on Yahoo. When I e-mailed Don, I used the Guardian's link because it was the most permanent of the choices. Yahoo's news links tend to expire after a couple of weeks.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at December 26, 2007 3:38 PM

Ho, Ho, Ho, Merry Huck-a-Whack

I'm prepared to take Christmas Day off, not sure about hb.

But this is Christmas Eve, and Larry Kudlow has shared some thoughts on Governor Huckabee which closely match my own:

[W]hen I had Governor Huckabee on, what was it, last week or the week before, I had a bout with him. I went at it. He wants to, if need be, have government regulate salaries. I think he’s crazy. I don’t think he understands the free market business system. He’s not good on taxing, he’s not good on spending, he’s not good on free trade. In other words, all the prosperity factors seem to be Mr. Huckabee’s weakness. I don’t think he understands it. He’s just out of tune with all measures of free market, supply side economics. You know, it isn’t his religion, and I admire his religion. I personally am a man of faith. I regard myself as an Evangelical, the fact is. But it’s not his religion, it’s his positions. Condi Rice came out of the State Department. Hell, I haven’t seen her in about a month or two. She came out and attacked him because of his [naiveté] on dealing in international affairs with Iran and others. He doesn’t seem to understand power politics, and that we are in a jihadist global war.

Other than that...

2008 Race Posted by John Kranz at 12:01 AM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

And the worst that can be said of Fred! is being President of the United States isn't his life's ambition. Well, the worst thing a *conservative* can say, anyway.

Posted by: johngalt at December 24, 2007 6:38 PM
But jk thinks:

You about have me, jg. I'd love a lazy President, can we exhume Silent Cal?

Seriously, I have liked a lot of Senator Thompson's positions and would be very happy to call him "My President Fred!" The question becomes, if we give him the GOP nomination, will he give his all to winning the general?

A lazy President would rock -- a lazy candidate, not so much...

Posted by: jk at December 25, 2007 2:40 PM

December 23, 2007

Ron! Visits with Jim!

Just what the Doctor ordered. An aggressive host egging him on in a TV interview. Cramer makes Rep. Paul look quite reserved and presidential.

Congressional oversight from our 535 expert central bankers is the answer? I'll definitely choose a gold peg over that. The Fed Chairman is appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate.

The longest tenure for a Fed Chairman is 18 years, 9 months, and 29 days (I'll take FOMC for 600 Alex), served by William McChesney Martin Jr. from 1951 to 1970. We were under Bretton-Woods the whole time, it's no wonder he was not exhausted.

The position requires a certain freedom from politics. More Congressional oversight? No thanks.

2008 Race Posted by John Kranz at 6:23 PM | What do you think? [5]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

OK, I needed a reminder of why I can't listen to Cramer for more than 20 seconds, but I endured this because of Ron Paul.

Paul isn't talking about "oversight" in a perpetual sense, but an investigation -- an audit of the Federal Reserve. Why aren't Greenspan and Bernanke being held accountable for what they've done?

Actually, a gold standard is a necessity *when* you have a central bank. It is the only way to keep a central bank in line, especially when a Fed chairman was nominated on an apparently sound record but goes on to wreak havoc. In this wise, Bernanke and Greenspan are the Fed's equivalent of David Souter.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at December 24, 2007 1:03 PM
But jk thinks:

I liked Cramer when he was paired with Kudlow. And I was intrigued by the originality of his new show (and his encyclopedic knowledge), but you are right, I really cannot hack him anymore.

Okay, we do a one time audit. Which of our 535 central bankers will you trust to say "this was the right interest rate at this time?" Rep Franks probably understands it, but I do not trust his motives. How many others do you think actually understand what the FOMC does? You're going to give them all a whack at Chairman Bernanke, I can't think of one whose opinion I would prefer to "Helicopter Ben's."

Posted by: jk at December 24, 2007 3:52 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

The audit wouldn't be done by Congress, but by independent experts in forensic accounting. The purpose of the audit has nothing to do with the Fed governors' choices of interest rates, but to gauge its performance, and to make sure every dollar is accounted for.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at December 24, 2007 4:30 PM
But jk thinks:

You think Bernanke and Greenspan are guilty of malfeasance? Tucking extra 20's in their underpants like Sandy Berger?

It seems Cramer wants Greenspan put in the stocks for having rates too low and Bernanke in for keeping them too high and then setting them too low -- all at the wrong time.

You have three or four economists on Kudlow & Co. every night giving four different versions of "coulda, shoulda." And each is smatter and less conflicted than 90% of Congress.

Posted by: jk at December 25, 2007 3:05 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

You're still partially going by "oversight" and "audit" involving what interest rates should have been. That's not what I and other critics of the Fed are talking about. Embezzlement isn't the issue, but then again, no one should be assumed to be above reproach.

What we're talking about is things like the Fed's ability to create money by buying federal bonds: it creates new dollars and ships them to the U.S. Treasury in exchange for U.S. Treasury bills. This is one way that the FOMC controls (meaning "expands") the money supply. Are we simply going to trust that the Fed is sending everything over, especially in these days of electronic records?

And you realize, of course, that we pay interest to all holders of U.S. Treasury securities. The Fed is an arm of the federal government but yet keeps itself financially separate. Why the hell should our taxes pay an entity to reduce the value of our money?

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at December 26, 2007 3:59 PM

Huck-a-Whack, December 23, 2007

Steven Stark writes:

George Will doesn't like him. Neither, apparently, does Rush Limbaugh. The Bush wing of the party now apparently distrusts him. He hasn't done well by Drudge (at least so far) and today even Peggy Noonan has her reservations.

The good news for Mike Huckabee is that he's doing one hell of a job of reuniting significant portions of the old Reagan coalition. The bad news is that it's increasingly arrayed against him.

2008 Race Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 8:12 AM | What do you think? [2]
But jk thinks:

He's a uniter, not a divider. The establishment GOP (Will, Noonan), social conservatives (NR, Rush, Hugh Hewitt, Ann Coulter), and libertarian-leaners (CATO, Club for Growth) haven't gotten along this well in decades -- pass the fruit punch!

Posted by: jk at December 23, 2007 12:23 PM
But HB thinks:

If I was a Clinton, I would be inclined to think that this was part of some vast right wing conspiracy!

Posted by: HB at December 23, 2007 6:42 PM

December 22, 2007

Life Imitates The Onion

You may recall that The Onion recently reported that the top issue of the campaign is bullshit. Joel Achenbach apparently got the memo as he writes:

I heard the other day that Mitt Romney is so careful with his weight that he will pick the cheese off his pizza. Then I heard from another source that he eats pizza with a knife and fork. That's two sources, two angles: That's practically confirmation.

I just can't imagine the American people electing as president someone who does that to pizza. I'm not saying a president has to have a special knack for eating pizza - what you call "pizza talent" - but he or she has to respect the pizza, and look comfortable with it.

You want, as a voter, to be able to say, "He looks like he knows his way around a pizza."

I will outsource the commentary to Duncan Black:

There really is practically nothing worse about campaign coverage than Beltway elites imagining how "reglar folks" live and eat and then demanding that presidential candidates pretend that they're just like that!

Who the f**k cares how Mitt Romney eats his pizza?
Just kill me.

2008 Race Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 7:48 AM | What do you think? [2]
But jk thinks:

I don't know that I'll abandon Mayor Giuliani if I find he eats his linguini with a spoon, but I am thinking that many Americans have a moderately rational aversion to elitism.

This blog was set up on a Philadelphia - Colorado axis, and we had some good laughs at Senator John Kerry's muffed cheesesteak order in the 2004 general election.

Posted by: jk at December 22, 2007 6:46 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Doesn't anyone remember that buffoon Jean-Francois Kerry trying to eat a hotdog, trying to prove he's a regular Joe?

Oh, and the proper way to eat a pizza: however you fricking want. The style here in New York is "the fold," which I dislike. It's not some damn panini. So my personal preference is to bend it sufficiently to hold it in my palm, eating it as fossil record of crust, sauce and toppings.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at December 24, 2007 10:20 AM

Huck-a-Whack, December 22, 2007

Huckabee panders to a seven year old (and fails):

"Who is your favorite author?" Aleya Deatsch, 7, of West Des Moines asked Mr. Huckabee in one of those posing-like-a-shopping-mall-Santa moments.

Mr. Huckabee paused, then said his favorite author was Dr. Seuss.

In an interview afterward with the news media, Aleya said she was somewhat surprised. She thought the candidate would be reading at a higher level.

"My favorite author is C. S. Lewis," she said.

2008 Race Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 7:41 AM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

Huck-a-Whack doesn't sleep. Huck-a-Whack doesn't rest on weekends. Huck-a-Whack is ever vigilant.

Posted by: jk at December 22, 2007 7:23 PM

December 21, 2007

Putting the But First

No, I'm not offering a lesson on skating backwards, just giving some props to AP Economics Writer Martin Crutsinger. Most AP writers will provide some good economic news, followed by but, as in "GDP growth was revised up to 7.9% today, but concerns about Abu Ghraib, global warming, and lead paint in Chinese toys still rattled consumers."

That's child's play. Crutsinger provides some good news, but he goes butt first, to prevent your giddy enthusiasm from making you drop the paper and missing the dark cloud behind the silver lining:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Consumers put aside worries about slumping home sales and soaring gasoline prices and headed to the malls in November, pushing spending up by the largest amount in 3 1/2 years. The better-than-expected surge lessened fears of an imminent recession.

I'd comment further, but I am so worried about slumping home sales and soaring gas prices (in my neighborhood, they have "soared" from $3.09 to $2.89), I can't really continue. Have a good weekend, y'all!

Media and Blogging Posted by John Kranz at 6:55 PM

Ruffini on Rudy!

Patrick Ruffini remains a shining star over at Hugh Hewitt's site. I like Hewitt but his (may I call it Nativism?) and his unabashed shilling for Governor Romney cause my eyes to roll and my heart to sink. Still, I think he represents a good sized wing of the GOP, and I'd rather hear it from Hugh than most others.

Ruffini gets the Gold Star for his Giuliani support in that hostile environment. But even Patrick has caught the Giuliani Ennui:

I hate to say this, but I don’t think Rudy wants it badly enough. He has a bit of a Fred Thompson problem about him. He hasn’t said anything particularly distinctive or memorable the entire campaign. His lows haven’t been very low, and his highs haven’t been very high. There is no one big thing his campaign is about — first, there were twelve, then there was a laundry list of his accomplishments as a Mayor; then, there were a series of issue spots that failed to move the needle in New Hampshire. You would think the guy who sparred with the media and his opponents on an ongoing basis in New York, who fundamentally got that leadership after 9/11 was all about projecting confidence and strength, would understand that Presidential contests are about narrative and confidence and conflict — not (primarily) about issues.

It's a comprehensive and smart piece, well worth a read in full. I haven't defected but his Fredness has moved into a razor-thin second place for me (Geri and the Fire hat!) But Giuliani is still resting on his superb Kudlow interview. I haven’t heard anything uplifting between that and his Christmas message. I still want him to win, but Ruffini is right, he has to give a reason more compelling than NYC crime stats from the 20th Century.

2008 Race Posted by John Kranz at 5:27 PM

Huck-a-Whack, December 21, 2007

Can't let the people down, today's Quotidian Huck-a-Whack comes from WSJ's Kim Strassel. In addition to polity qualms, she suggests that the veteran of hardball Arkansas politics has not yet been vetted as closely as other names.

The obscure governor from Arkansas is, in contrast, a deep sea for media diving. Most recent have been stories about his pardons and commutations, as well as the news that R.J. Reynolds contributed to Action America. Mr. Huckabee -- who now wants a national smoking ban in public places -- responded that he never knew he accepted tobacco money, which has inspired a former adviser to claim Mr. Huckabee is being "less than truthful." What's next?

The GOP is still reeling from its financial scandals, which helped Democrats tag the party with a "culture of corruption" in last year's congressional races. A Huckabee nomination would also neutralize one of the biggest weapons against nominee Hillary Clinton -- her own ethically tortured past. If the subject came up at all, it would be a race to the Arkansas bottom. A matchup with Barack Obama could be worse, since the "politics of hope" senator has so far avoided scandal and could bludgeon Mr. Huckabee on his past.

Democrats know it. Here's an interesting statistic: Since the beginning of 2007, the Democratic National Committee has released 102 direct attacks on Mitt Romney. Rudy Giuliani has warranted 78; John McCain 68; Fred Thompson 21. Mike Huckabee? Four. The most recent of these landed back in March. GOP voters may not have examined Mr. Huckabee's record, but the left has -- and they love what they see.

So far, GOP voters do, too. Most appear attracted to Mr. Huckabee's image as a "sincere" and "genuine" guy. The former governor may be both of those, but he's also got a past. Voters are going to want to look before they leap.

If they'd look at all...

2008 Race Posted by John Kranz at 3:22 PM

Never Mind.

Byron York wonders "Why Isn't Anyone Paying Attention to This?" The NYTimes, not exactly in the bag for Giuliani, now admits that the non-scandal is a non-scandal.

The headlines have dogged Rudolph W. Giuliani's presidential campaign for weeks. "Security costs for trysts draw attention," said one. The articles questioned whether, as mayor, Mr. Giuliani tried to hide his visits to Judith Nathan in the Hamptons by burying the associated security costs in the budgets of obscure mayoral agencies like the Loft Board.

The answer is not likely, according to a review of the city records originally cited as the basis for the assertion.

Personally, I think the Romney and Huckabee campaigns would be well served by admitting this. They would look very sporting emblazoning their web sites with: "GIULIANI USED LEGITIMATE FINANCING FOR NYPD ESCORTS ON INDECENT, EXTRA-MARITAL, LOVE TRYSTS!!!!"

Hat-tip: Insty

2008 Race Posted by John Kranz at 11:05 AM

December 20, 2007

Huck-a-whack, December 20, 2007

Jonah Goldberg, on spotting the Arkansas Governor as another "compassionate conservative:"

One of my favorite movie scenes is from Jaws 2, when Roy Scheider (an underrated actor) is trying to convince the town council that he’s spotted yet another shark lurking off the waters of Amity. “But I’m telling you, and I’m telling everybody at this table, that that’s a shark. And I know what a shark looks like, because I’ve seen one up close. And you’d better do something about this one, because I don’t intend to go through that hell again!”

If you’re wondering why some of us have become so vexed by the sightings of Mike Huckabee’s dorsal fin above the choppy waters of Iowa-caucus polling and even out in the high sea of national polls, poor Chief Brody’s panic might help you understand. We’ve seen this before.

2008 Race Posted by John Kranz at 6:52 PM

Sen. Salazar Responds

To my letter:

Dear John:

Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me regarding federal agriculture subsidies. I appreciate hearing from you.

As someone who grew up on a family farm and ranch, I recognize the importance of ensuring the viability of our small producers and the future of rural America.

I understand your frustrations with large farms receiving the vast majority of federal agricultural dollars. I believe it is important to provide a strong and efficient safety-net for our small and medium-sized family farmers, and do all we can to direct agricultural payments to those who need them most.

The 2007 Farm Bill makes a number of important reforms that will improve the integrity of federal subsidy payments. The bill lowers the Adjusted Gross Income eligibility limit by seventy percent; eliminates the three-entity rule; requires direct attribution of subsidy payments; cuts the maximum annual subsidy payment allowance by five percent; and denies subsidy payments to owners of land that had once been used for agricultural production but is currently used for residential purposes. All told, these reforms will help reduce federal spending for the commodity title by $7.5 billion over the next five years.
I supported these reforms, and I also joined an overwhelming majority of my colleagues in the Senate to pass the 2007 Farm Bill by a vote of 79-14. The Farm Bill now awaits action in a House-Senate conference committee.

Again, thank you for taking the time to share your views. Please rest assured I will keep them in mind as Congress continues its work on the 2007 Farm Bill.


Ken Salazar
United States Senator

Colorado Posted by John Kranz at 5:33 PM | What do you think? [2]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

So as someone who grew up sucking at government's teat, he continues to support the notion of stealing money from Peter to make a livelihood for Paul.

What a bastard.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at December 21, 2007 12:23 PM
But jk thinks:

Yup. As Democrat bastards go, I think he might be one of the better, but it was a heartbreaking loss in 2004. Pete Coors would have made an outstanding Senator and, I suspect, have been a favorite around ThreeSources. Sigh.

Posted by: jk at December 21, 2007 12:32 PM

"Crass" Commercialism

Don Boudreaux writes a letter to USA Today Editors, responding to an article about "crass consumerism:"

Commerce is peaceful. It involves sellers working hard and taking risks to bring to market goods and services that consumers want to buy. No one forces anyone to do anything; all is voluntary.

What truly is crass is politics - that sorry spectacle of power-seeking ego-maniacs who, when not pronouncing platitudes, are promising to help group A by picking the pockets of group B. While commerce is honest, politics is duplicitous. While commerce is peaceful, politics inevitably pits citizen against citizen.

Hat-tip: Samidata

Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 4:49 PM

Oh Happy Day!

Rep. Tancredo has dropped out of the GOP Presidential race, Senator Trent Lott has resigned his Senate Seat -- can Sen. Ted Stevens's arraignment be far behind?

Seriously, I thank Tancredo and Lott for their service, but I am happy to be moving on.

Spirit of '94 Posted by John Kranz at 4:32 PM

Me and Vlad

As a former TIME Magazine Person of the Year laureate myself, I was saddened by this year's choice. I don't line up with Hugh Hewitt and Governor Romney too frequently, but they are right this time.

General David Petraeus should have been the pick. Putin will use the cover to propagate totalitarianism, Petraeus -- and the troops -- should be rewarded for their unexpected and improbable accomplishments.

Freedom on the March Posted by John Kranz at 2:04 PM

December 19, 2007


I liked it. Ann Althouse laughed through burning retinas caused by the vest, Glenn Reynolds was glad there were no floating crosses.

UPDATE: K-Lo at NRO Corner links to Senator Clinton's version, pointing out that "[a] Republican candidate could play the footage pretty much straight and have a negative ad."

UPDATE II: Insty also links to Ron Paul's. It's very good. But I kept expecting the kids to sing about the Gold Standard or the "illegal war in Iraq!"

2008 Race Posted by John Kranz at 5:28 PM

Lock Up Your Daughters!

I know and appreciate that Americans are a forgiving people. But am I the only one who thought that a Bill Clinton - Magic Johnson show may not be the most female-empowering message that Senator Clinton's campaign can send?

Taranto links to this WaPo column. He is amused that the candidate is not mentioned until the third paragraph. I encourage any ThreeSourcers who do not value Senator Clinton's candidacy to read it. Were the Weekly Standard this dismissive, it would be called hate speech:

What's missing? Try kids. You might have expected that an event at the Boys & Girls Club would feature hundreds of screaming children running around singing Hillary victory songs. Except for a few young ones, it was a crowd, of Hillary supporters in the latter stages of life. A large number of them were members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, a union that has endorsed Clinton.

"Look at the crowd here," says Dhirendra Vajpeyi, a 61-year-old political science professor at the University of Northern Iowa. "It's older than Obama's. I talk to my students and they have real reservations about Hillary and her sincerity. They don't have a good feeling."

On page two, they do mention past transgressions:
[B]oth men have suffered public moral lapses only to find redemption. When Johnson disclosed he was HIV-positive, it brought to light his private misdeeds, but in time he became an advocate for AIDS research and health. Likewise Clinton weathered the storm of the Lewinsky scandal and impeachment and has become involved in humanitarian causes.

I like redemption, don't get me wrong. I'm all for it. I'm just sayin'...

2008 Race Posted by John Kranz at 4:49 PM

Ain't You Glad You Joined the Republicans?

That's an Abraham Lincoln quote, and the title of a funny book.

I thought of it reading John Fund in the Political Diary on the importance of turnout and weather in the Iowa Caucuses:

One reason some Democrats may skip the event is that Democratic caucuses are not the businesslike affairs the GOP caucuses are. At a Republican caucus, voters show up, listen to very short speeches, fill out a slip of paper, drop it in a box and leave. At a Democratic caucus, voters show up at 6:30 pm and vote for delegates for each candidate. But first they must listen to short speeches on behalf of all the candidates. With a half-dozen or more candidates, that takes time. Then everyone breaks into "preference groups," with voters gathering in various corners of the room to express support for a given candidate. If a candidate doesn't receive 15% or more support, his or her supporters must join another candidate's preference group. In most of Iowa, this effectively means only Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards will elect any delegates to the local county convention, which is held later. It also means that a voter's second choice can be highly important in who actually wins. Ominously, while Mrs. Clinton has many supporters, she's not the second choice of many Obama or Edwards backers.

Further complicating matters is that rural areas are given more weight than urban ones in selecting delegates. In a small town, 25 caucus-goers might carry as much impact as 250 who stop by a downtown Des Moines caucus.

Every year I get a little less proud of my party, although when they put Rep Don Young and Sen. Ted Stevens in prison, I'll bump up. But reading this, it looks like the GOP gets the better deal.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 1:18 PM

A Tale of Two Tales on the Omnibus Spending Bill

First, as is my custom, I read the Wall Street Journal. The Editorial page offers "One Budget Cheer" for the President. (free link)

As we at the Journal debated Washington's latest spending deal yesterday, one of our tribe noted that it is the best budget of the Bush Presidency. To which someone else quipped that that was "the soft bigotry of low expectations."

They enumerate the good, bad and ugly
The good news is that Democrats conceded to Mr. Bush's spending cap of $933 billion in domestic discretionary spending for 2008--or $22 billion less than Democrats proposed in their spring budget resolution. Over five years, that $22 billion will save about $205 billion because it won't become part of the annual "baseline" that the pols use as a starting point for next year's automatic budget increases. This is a modest but real victory.

[...]Gone are limits on union disclosure reports. Gone, too, is an expansion of Davis-Bacon demands to pay prevailing union wages even on non-union work sites[...]

Oh, and Congress is also funding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to the tune of $70 billion--something Democratic leaders had vowed not to do.

And yet this is hardly a lean or mean budget. When combined with the Defense spending bill that has already been signed, Congress will still exceed Mr. Bush's $933 billion "top-line" thanks to about $11 billion in budget gimmicks and "emergency" spending.

And pork, pork, pork.

I was planning to post this with a contrarian pragmatist commentary, even though I got "bit in the ass" a couple of days ago. We have two houses of Democrats, the President needs to fund the war, I figured this as a pretty good day's work. But I'm still a little sore form that bite.

Don Luskin gives me cover. He calls it Sweet Victory and says that the good guys are going to win.

Following repeated veto threats, the compromise now -- approved 76-17 by the Senate -- cuts $17.5 billion from prior House-passed bills or about 80% of what Democrats once hoped to add to the president's top line.

And offers "frosting on the cake:"
The Democrats’ yearlong fight to boost federal spending on children’s health insurance ended with a whimper Tuesday.

After coming up short in their efforts to enact a $35 billion expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) — enduring two presidential vetoes along the way — congressional Democrats signed off on Republican demands to extend the program until 2009.

Ten points for a T.S. Eliot allusion, and 20 for the Congressional GOP. The SCHIP defeat is important in a way that cutting pork is not. I'd love a lean budget, I'd love last year's levels, I'd love to have Mitt Romney's hair.

The war is important. The SCHIP battle was important. The Democrats control both houses. Most Republicans are completely worthless. Factor all this in, and count me in the victory party with Mr. Luskin.

UPDATE: Make that Three Americas. The Club for Growth won't go as far as the WSJ. They list the no votes with congrats.

Second Bush Administration Posted by John Kranz at 12:00 PM

December 18, 2007

Tale of Two Cities

A good friend of this blog emails a video link. Drew Carey finds one SoCal town (out of two) doing development right:

Posted by John Kranz at 7:34 PM

The Cackle

Just a thought. The more I hear Senator Clinton's "Cackle," the more I start to miss Governor Dean's "Scream.'


2008 Race Posted by John Kranz at 5:07 PM

December 17, 2007

Quote of the Day

Samizdat Perry DeHavilland points out the popularity of multi-bird roasts, then shares a comment he left on the site to which he links:

This year for Christmas we are having one of these wonderful multi-birds and I am very much looking forward to it. However after reading some of the comments here, next year we are going to eat a PETA activist stuffed inside a Greenpeace activist stuffed inside a Animal 'Rights' activist stuffed inside Gordon Brown's voluminous carcass (with a non-'Fair Trade' apple stuffed into his mouth).

Merry Christmas and God Deliver Us All... from priggish activists of all stripes.

Merry Christmas, Perry!

Environment Posted by John Kranz at 7:30 PM

Review Corner -- Last Minute Gift Idea

I make no secret of my appreciation for James Lileks. I think I have bought all of his books, and have given many as gifts -- some of the biggest gift hits.

I bought Gastroanomolies when it came out even though I was concerned. After The Gallery of Regrettable Food was there enough material? Was the master going back to the well too many times?

NO! I finally picked it up yesterday to flip through a few pages. I read it cover to cover and laughed out loud through most of it. It is even better than TGORF. I ordered it for a gift today and recommend it highly as a gift or personal purchase. I cannot imagine anyone who would not enjoy it (it's probably too PG-13 for the very young or delicate). Five starts -- it's Lileks.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 3:38 PM

Will on Subprime (Hillary Picture)

George Will has a pretty good column on subprime bailouts. It's worth a read. Mostly, it is worth reading on the NY Post's website, because they illustrate it with the worst picture of Senator Hillary Clinton ever displayed. Keep in mind the sites I frequent, I have seen some bad pictures. This one takes the art form to a higher level.

In case they change it, here's the pic.

UPDATE (Including change to title): Ann Althouse says this photo is up on Drudge and she wonders:

We make high demands on women. A picture like this of a male candidate would barely register. Fred Thompson always looks this bad, and people seem to think he's handsome. We need to get used to older women and get over the feeling that when women look old they are properly marginalized as "old ladies." If women are to exercise great power, they will come into that power in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. We must — if we care about the advancement of women — accommodate our vision and see a face like this as mature, experienced, serious — the way we naturally and normally see men's faces.

I chalked it up to NY Post's aggressive journalism and Senator Clinton's capacity for making enemies. Althouse has a point, I'll concede that there is some extra concern for a 60-something female candidate. Yet other women in the US and elsewhere have managed it: Speaker Pelosi, Rep Jane Harman, and PM Margaret Thatcher spring to mind.

Keep in mind we have not had a bald President in a while -- Rudy! and Fred! are standing up for the folically challenged!

Posted by John Kranz at 12:10 PM | What do you think? [3]
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Ahhh,..Frau Blucher (horse neighing!)

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at December 17, 2007 3:55 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:


When Der Rodham (as my friend Billy Beck calls her) is elected, you can bet that photog will be among the first sent to the reeducation kamps.

Rudy and Fred look good on camera. Rudy has a good smile and presence, and Fred has a ruggedness. I guess it's easier for guys, but hell, I had the privilege of hearing Thatcher speak when she was 71, and she looked and sounded great. Even in 1996, she said the U.S. and Great Britain must still be "second to none" in nuclear arsenals, in case the bad guys ever got their hands on nukes.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at December 17, 2007 3:58 PM
But jk thinks:

Frau Blucher indeed! {Whe-e-e-e-e-e). It is harsh, but this weekend I saw the front page of the Post reporting on Governor Huckabee's apology: "I HUCKED UP!" screamed three-inch high type. Mr. Murdoch's minions are somewhat fair and balanced.

Posted by: jk at December 17, 2007 6:33 PM

Pragmatism Attacked

A good friend of this blog sends a link to a Peter Boettke post. Boettke links through to an FT piece. I do not subscribe to FT, so I can only read the teaser:

Alan Greenspan said he could support the use of public cash to help struggling US homeowners on Sunday, in remarks likely to fuel growing political pressure for a more radical response to the housing crisis.

The former chairman of the Federal Reserve told ABC’s This Week programme the least harmful way of intervening would be to give direct financial aid to distressed homeowners.

Boettke links to a 1987 critique of Greenspan from Murray Rothbard implying that Greenspan's pragmatism proves Rothbard right. Boettke:
With all these philosophical laissez faire people in town for the past two decades it is a wonder that statism has made such advances. But I guess when you are only laissez faire at a "high philosophical level" and a pragmatist in day to day action this is the expected result. I wonder if we had policy makers who were socialists at the "high philosophical level" and pragmatists in day to day action if the results would in fact be any different. I would wager to say there would be no difference.

I think when we read of political decision-makers and their use of the word "philosophical" to modify their beliefs, we should substitute the word "not" and go from there. Greenspan's "philosophical laissez faire" becomes "not laissez faire" and we get a more accurate picture.

From the two free sentences at the Financial Times, it sounded like he was saying that direct aid to borrowers would be more efficient than Paulson's rewriting of contracts.

I'm not a big Greenspan defender, but that seems reasonable and pragmatic. With Democrats in charge of both houses and a "compassionate conservative" at 1600 Pennsylvania, lasseiz faire is not going to be an option in an election year. Seeking the least moral-hazardous and most efficient method seems appropriate.

But jk thinks:

Rereading this, I am on a precipitous limb, here.

Having not read the FT piece, and lacking the stomach to watch "ABC This Week," My defense may not be warranted. It this indeed becomes a useful tool for Chairman Franks et al to push for more Federal action, I will recant.

Posted by: jk at December 17, 2007 11:15 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I don't need to read the actual article. The opening reveals all I need to know.

"Public cash" - meaning taking money from me to pay for someone else's irresponsibility.

F*** you, Alan.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at December 18, 2007 1:21 PM
But jk thinks:

I saw a little more of the interview last night. That scurrying sound you here is me running away from my position on this. I was clearly too kind to The Maestro and I promise it will not happen again.

Posted by: jk at December 18, 2007 2:11 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

There is nothing, NOTHING too harsh to say about (or to) that goddamn bastard.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at December 19, 2007 11:20 AM

December 16, 2007

Defending Huckabee

For the Quotidian-Huck-a-Whack®, I'll refer you to "He destroyed the conservative movement in Arkansas, and left the Republican Party a shambles." But blogger Freeman Hunt allows that he's "A very nice man, yes." Her whole blog is well worth a look.

But I come to defend the Governor, not bury him. In a today-only special, I say that Instapundit and go too far. It seems Gov. H told CBN:

"These are people that want to kill us. It's a theocratic war. And I don't know if anybody fully understands that. I'm the only guy on that stage with a theology degree. I think I understand it really well."

CBN (the Christians, not the Canadians, eh) disputes that he holds a theology degree and claims a gotcha. Governor Huckabee responds:
"I have a bachelor of arts in religion and a minor in communications in my undergraduate work. And then I have 46 hours on a master's degree at Southwestern Theology Seminary. So, my degree as a theological degree is at the college level and then 46 hours toward a masters -- three years of study of New Testament Greek, and then the rest of it, all in Seminary was theological studies, but my degree was actually in religion."

On no planet can I be called "in the bag for Huckabee," but I cannot imagine too many people becoming too excited about this. I'm prepared to accept a theology degree and religion degree as synonymous.

No doubt I am technically wrong on that, but for this to rise from imbroglio to contretemps to kerfuffe to scandal requires that a large part of the electorate believes that the Parson lacks the amount of religious education to be president or that he significantly overstated it.

I attended a Catholic high school and the two terms were used pretty synonymously. I give him a pass on this one.

2008 Race Posted by John Kranz at 11:37 AM

December 14, 2007


Imagine.. the mainstream media is mesmerized as the image of the Ron Paul blimp is shown to tens of millions of Americans throughout the day (and throughout the month).

As GPS coordinates stream to the website a map shows the Ron Paul blimp's location in real time. The local television stations broadcast its every move. The curious flock together and make a trip to see history in the making. Emails with pictures are sent, then forwarded, then forwarded again. Youtube videos go viral and reach tens of millions of views. Ron Paul becomes the first presidential candidate in history to have his very own blimp. The PR stunt generates millions upon millions of dollars worth in free publicity, and captures the imagination of America.

Jay Cutler hoists the Lombardi Trophy, blue and orange confetti fills the air...

UPDATE: Fair and Balanced: John Stossel's interview.

2008 Race Posted by John Kranz at 6:47 PM

Break With Milton Friedman

It makes me nervous to part company with Milton Friedman. Only Hayek would give him a run as the man whose views most closely match my own. But I think I am ready to sign up for "New Monetarism." We've had a bit of monetarist persiflage around here. My contentions that productivity and trade are counter-inflationary have repeatedly been met with Friedman's assertion that "inflation is purely a monetary phenomenon."

I have to publicly break with that. The money supply is not being created by central banks and the deflationary effects of expanded trade, technology and productivity cannot be ignored. David Roche has written a book titled "New Monetarism" and he provides a brief summary on the Wall Street Journal ed page today.

The reason for the exponential growth in credit, but not in broad money, was simply that banks didn't keep their loans on their books any more -- and only loans on bank balance sheets get counted as money. Now, as soon as banks made a loan, they "securitized" it and moved it off their balance sheet.

There were two ways of doing this. One was to sell the securitized loan as a bond. The other was "synthetic" securitization: for example, using derivatives to get rid of the default risk (with credit default swaps) and lock in the interest rate due on the loan (with interest-rate swaps). Both forms of securitization meant that the lending bank was free to make new loans without using up any of its lending capacity once its existing loans had been "securitized."

So, to redefine liquidity under what I call New Monetarism, one must add, to the traditional definition of broad money, all the credit being created and moved off banks' balance sheets and onto the balance sheets of nonbank financial intermediaries. This new form of liquidity changed the very nature of the credit beast. What now determined credit growth was risk appetite: the readiness of companies and individuals to run their businesses with higher levels of debt.

Roche is not at all sanguine about this. This is a bubble-creatin' machine to him which will exacerbate the current credit crunch and contribute to a catastrophic burst of a China Bubble in 2008.

I cannot join his pessimism but I agree that we can no longer measure inflation by looking at the rate of growth for the money supply. Roche seems to only see the inflationary side in his editorial (I just ordered the book). To admit that this liquidity has been created off balance sheets and outside of reserve requirements is to assume an unignorable inflation rate. Even the worst inflation hawks do not claim any such thing.

I think you admit this ex nihilo money creation, and then admit that it is counterbalanced by the incredible efficiencies of trade and technology. It puts the Fed and Central Banks in the correct perspective: they influence but do not define monetary policy.

But Perry Eidelbus thinks:


"To admit that this liquidity has been created off balance sheets and outside of reserve requirements is to assume an unignorable inflation rate. Even the worst inflation hawks do not claim any such thing."

We don't "claim any such thing" because it's irrelevant. Let's say the money supply is $10, and fractional reserve banking turns it into an effective $100. That is *not* inflation. If the bank makes it $10, $50 or $100, that's based on supply and demand (interest rates and consumers' preference for borrowing). But no matter what they decide, it becomes $20, $100 or $200 if the central bank decides to double the money supply.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at December 14, 2007 4:28 PM
But jk thinks:

It's exactly fractional reserve banking. But Roche is pointing out that as soon as the loan is securitized it comes off the books and the bank is empowered to lend it out again, creating money that does not come from a central bank. This is not your grandpa's reserve banking.

Yes, Perry you've told me several times. I respectfully suggest that you are too closely wedded to a textbook theory that does not match what we are seeing in the global economy. The Everyday Economist linked to a paper called "The continuing muddles of monetary theory" by Charles Goodhart who believes that "monetary theory has a long way to go." I believe that to be true.

Posted by: jk at December 14, 2007 4:30 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

It's still fractional reserve banking. It doesn't matter *how* the accounting is done, only that the bank is still lending out something that was deposited with it. And again, it doesn't matter what banks do with money *after* its creation. They only amplify the money supply that the central bank creates in the first place.

My strict usage of "inflation" and "deflation" are in fact *contrary* to what nearly all economics textbooks say. Most economics texts that discuss inflation to any degree are Keynesian in basis. I, however, go by the true definition, i.e. Milton Friedman pointing out that inflation is purely a monetary phenomenon. Look, it doesn't matter even if Kudlow says that trade and productivity are "deflationary": if that's how he terms it, he's wrong. He's said silly things before about liquidity, and has called him on it.

By your definition, the jewelry industry, or at least one of its members, had some pretty big deflation this last weekend. Odds are pretty good that my fiancee won't read this, so I can mention something I have for her. Guys are worried about if they're "big enough," and also if jewelry is big enough. Not that my fiancee wants anything beyond my love, but I became dissatisfied with a pendant that I bought the previous weekend. So, I returned it this Saturday and exchanged it for one with exactly twice the carats. The first one cost $x, and the bigger one cost exactly $2x. This past weekend, though, the first was reduced to $.75X, and the bigger was reduced to $1.5x (which I didn't even know until they rang me up in the exchange and quoted me half of what I was expecting, what a happy surprise). Did Kay's suddenly experience tremendous deflation? Of course not. So I caution you again, don't confuse inflation with supply and demand.

As I wrote before, baskets of goods and services are ridiculous measures of money's value. You need to judge inflation by fungible things, like gold, crude oil, and copper. They won't be exact measures, because there is still supply and demand at work, but as I pointed out with crude oil prices, the price jumps are far more than what supply and demand can explain. The same holds true for copper and other commodities with industrial uses: China's and India's industrialization cannot explain the surge in dollar-denominated prices. Look at gold: the increase in its value cannot possibly be because it's suddenly so much more in demand, all else being equal. Gold's value in other currencies disproves that. It's because dollars used to purchase gold have lesser and lesser value.

As far as Goodheart, I took a brief look at his paper and had to laugh. Like Roche, and like Greenspan (who I blasted last night on my blog), Goodheart is saying stuff as if it were a new revelation, when it's been obvious for decades! Case in point, his footnote at the bottom of page 3:

"According to pure monetary theory, if the
quantity of money in circulation is increased and other things remain the same, the value of
money must fall.... But its applicability to a given situation depends upon a correct understanding of what things are to be regarded as money..."

Austrians have known that for decades, because we (I include myself even though I'm only 95% Austrian) know that money is not limited to any single thing. Money is merely a medium of exchange, a tool, and fundamentally it's only information. Remember what I said before, that if a Scrooge McDuck decided to hoard almost all the gold, then the rest of us would simply find something else to use as money. A tool cannot be too easy to obtain if it's to have any value in acquiring (it can still have value in momentary utility), but it's useful only if it's available in sufficient quantities.

Economists have a bad tendency to make theories of money and banking, and other theories, far more complicated than they need to be. It's like Christians arguing about trivial things like how to cross themselves (or whether to) or if Christ really is mysticaly present in the Eucharist. Economists reinvent the wheel not because they feel "they're right," but because presenting something rehashed is key to sustaining their livelihoods: they get to sit around "theorizing," instead of doing actual productive things like analyzing. I gave a friend an explanation of Japan's deflation in a few paragraphs that was far more clear than Bernanke's convoluted non-explanation explanation a few years back. The difference is that I'm not a professional economist, and my time spent explaining is limited and therefore valuable.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at December 17, 2007 3:39 PM
But jk thinks:

I appreciate your views on a more absolutist monetary theory (FWIW, Ich bin auch ein österreicher) but I am troubled that you not see securitization as a huge shift in reserve banking. I can lend $10 on a dollar, fine. But if I securitize it, I can lend another $10. This is not a series with a limit, like .999999... this is complete absolution from reserve requirements 9 + 9 + 9 + 9 + 9... -- nothing to see here?

Posted by: jk at December 17, 2007 6:55 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

It still makes no difference. Banks will be constrained by reserve requirements, not only by legislation, but to meet the demands of their depositors. Could a bank securitize 100% of its deposits? Certainly, if it wanted to risk failure (or in these days of moral hazards, being bailed out).

Banks might securitize deposits at a lower reserve ration than regular commercial lending, but either way, banks cannot increase the money supply infinitely. If they could, they would have already devised such ways hundreds of years ago. But no matter what ledger legerdemain they employ, the series still converges. They're merely amplifying the money supply that already exists. It's still the central bank, and the central bank alone, that controls the money supply.

Anyway, securitizing a deposit is no different, from either an accounting perspective or an investment one, than the regular commercial lending of money. What do you do when you purchase a security, but lend someone money?

Are you familiar with how to determine the total potential money supply from the initial monetary base and the average reserve requirement? If you do, consider this: when the Fed pumps in another $10, $20 or $50 billion, how much is it *really* creating?

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at December 18, 2007 2:40 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

On a related note, I didn't realize till this morning that the ECB is "injecting liquidity" to the tune of 348 *billion* euros. The Fed at least required an auction for a finite amount. The ECB simply said, "Here's 4.21%, borrow all you want."

And Europeans call Americans stupid?

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at December 19, 2007 11:25 AM

Regulation Isn't Free

Justice Brandeis, call your office! States are indeed "laboratories of Democracy" and in the absence of a Federal immigration solution, states are passing their own legislation.

The Wall Street Journal news pages -- not my wingnut buddies on the Editorial board -- report on the business community's preparations for a new law

PHOENIX -- Arizona businesses are firing Hispanic immigrants, moving operations to Mexico and freezing expansion plans ahead of a new law that cracks down on employers who hire undocumented workers.

The law, set to take effect on Jan. 1, thrusts Arizona into the heart of the national debate on illegal immigration, which has become a hot topic on the presidential campaign trail. Republican candidates, in particular, have been battling to show how tough they are on the issue.

Arizona's law, believed to be the strictest in the nation, is shaping up as a test of how employers will react when faced with real sanctions for hiring undocumented labor. It is being closely watched by businesses across the country. While proponents say the crackdown will save the state money on services for illegal immigrants, some businesspeople fear Arizona's economic growth may be at risk.

Businesspeople should fear. The law is having its intended effect. Immigrants are leaving the state and employers are very cautious about the status of new hires. But my Friends at ThreeSources (F@TSs) who would rightly scream about unintended consequences for subsidies or CAFE standards, still do not recognize the massive consequences of such a crackdown:
A University of Arizona study released earlier this year concluded that economic output would drop 8.2% annually if noncitizen foreign-born workers were removed from the labor force. Researchers estimate about two-thirds of the workers in that category are in the state illegally.

"Getting rid of these workers means we are deciding as a matter of policy to shrink our economy," says Judith Gans, an immigration scholar at the university's Udall Center. "They're filling vital gaps in our labor force."

Sheridan Bailey, president of steel-beam manufacturer Ironco, said he has fired several Hispanic employees in anticipation of the sanctions law. "This law has the potential of sinking a business," he said. Mr. Bailey, who has formed a business group to address the issue, said Congress's inaction has allowed "policies to be generated on the fringe."

Ironco recently sealed a deal to outsource some production to a Mexican company. "The labor market is tight, and I face fines if I don't meet my commitments," said Mr. Bailey. Pacing his company's steel-fabrication bay, where welders and fitters build columns, he asked rhetorically: "Who will work here in 112-degree heat, come the summer?"

Dora Cardenas, who owns a small Mexican restaurant in Phoenix, has lost six out of 12 employees since late November. They moved to other states. "They say they were afraid to be here," said Ms. Cardenas. "I'm even afraid to be here, and I am a legal resident." She said business is down almost 40% since the summer at her restaurant, which caters mainly to a Latino clientele.

Jason Levecke, the grandson of the founder of the Carl's Jr. fast-food empire and the state's biggest franchisee, has put on hold plans to open 20 more outlets statewide. "That's $30 million that could blow up in my face," he said. "The risk is too great."

I do not claim that my F@TSs are inconsistent, hypocritical, or fat. The country has a legitimate right to regulate immigration which it lacks for energy mix, toilet water use, or washing machine design. And F@TS is just an unfortunate acronym.

But I'd ask them to consider these consequences and to refrain from calling for a crackdown until there is some method to ameliorate these effects.

Immigration Posted by John Kranz at 10:58 AM | What do you think? [2]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I'll find the link to my own post later, but I've said for a while now that there's no point to the law distinguishing between one man as a "legal resident" and another man as an illegal alien. The difference is whether one works and the other leeches via the state.

I don't care if the Guatemalans in Brewster (a town in the county north of me that's known for an increasing Hispanic population) are living here legally or illegally. In warmer weather, there are usually a bunch on the Metro-North train by the time it gets to my stop. I don't care why they're riding it, which is always for day-labor jobs in Mount Kisco or Chappaqua. I *do* care if they're living off my tax dollars.

Conservatives often use "the rule of law" but have no goddamn idea what it means. It only means that the law must be applied equally to everyone. It doesn't mean the law must always be obeyed: there have been laws saying you'd lose your head for not swearing allegiance to the crown, so should those have been enforced? What about when HillaryCare is passed, must it be enforced because "it's the law"?

Laws can be wrong, and just because an illegal "broke the law" doesn't inherently mean anything bad.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at December 14, 2007 4:39 PM
But jk thinks:

I'd love to see the link if you can dig it up, Perry. I'm a lonely voice around here on immigration. (Then again, I'm feeling a bit lonesome on "New Monitarism" as well...)

Posted by: jk at December 14, 2007 6:44 PM

December 13, 2007

Another "Pick my candidate for me 'cause I cain't" web toy

This ABC News "Match-o-Matic" gizmo accurately identified my #1 and #2 picks. (And there wasn't even a Second Amendment question!) I can't say it picked my #3 because I'm not that much of a pessimist.

The questions made me boil, however. Take 'Global Warming' (please).

What would be the best way for the federal government to deal with global warming?

- Seek voluntary reductions in carbon emissions.

- Set mandatory caps on carbon emissions.

- Implement a tax on fuels (...) also known as a carbon tax.

- Create a "cap-and-trade" system ...

- Invest in alternative energy sources.

- The federal government shouldn't get involved. Let the free market decide.

That last answer ain't bad but where is "- Global Warming is a hoax and people who seek to profit from it should be prosecuted for fraud."

2008 Race Posted by JohnGalt at 5:21 PM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

Bryan Caplan, call your office! Not only no Second Amendment, no free trade. So I find that I am a Rep. Duncan Hunter man, then Hizzoner, then Sen. Sam Brownback.

Color me unimpressed. (Besides, everyone knows I'm an Edwards man.)

Posted by: jk at December 13, 2007 6:15 PM

There Really Are Two Americas

Philadelphia, PA - December 10, 2007) Lexus drivers in the Greater
Philadelphia Region now can have priority parking at the Wachovia
Center as part of a new sponsorship package between Lexus and arena
owner Comcast-Spectacor.

Workin' families can park their Acuras in the lot and walk, I guess. Just another reason I'm joinin' Team Edwards.

Hat-tip: PA Water Cooler, some guy named Alex-something...

Pennsylvania Posted by John Kranz at 4:59 PM | What do you think? [2]
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

That's OK,...I park my '01 Taurus on a small South Philly street and, for the price of a SEPTA token, I get there just as quickly!

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at December 15, 2007 9:07 PM
But jk thinks:

When John Edwards is President, Trek, those SEPTA tokens will be free.

Posted by: jk at December 16, 2007 11:02 AM

The Debate

I caught the last half, and I was fumbling for my Cyanide pill 15 minutes in. Dean Barnett has a superb recap in the Weekly Standard

I would be remiss if I left this analysis without dedicating at least a few sentences to Alan Keyes. If moderator Washburn was Nurse Ratched, Alan Keyes was a patient who went off his meds. I'm quite confident that he broke the presidential debate record for most frequent usage of the word "womb."

I used to think highly of Ambassador Keyes. He was a sad figure lat night. Barnett's piece is worth a read in full. He appreciates the retail politicking in Iowa and New Hampshire, but questions whether their local media deserve the quadrennial pedestal.

Hat-tip: Instapundit

2008 Race Posted by John Kranz at 1:41 PM

Diyala or Duluth?

Nope, it's not apples-to-apples and it is not statistically meaningful. But that does not make it uninteresting:

The tragedy of Ice and IEDs

Tragically, 32 people have died in the US since Sunday as a result of ice storms in the midwest

I would like to take this opportunity to point out that during the same time frame (Sun-Wed) only 2 US military service members have died in Iraq, and only one of those was due to hostile action.

Interesting, and a great reminder to the "grim milestone" crowd that a 0% death rate is not the standard of comparison for peacetime.

Freedom on the March Posted by John Kranz at 12:35 PM

Efficient Markets?

Romney has trended down recently:

My advice: Buy the Romney contract.

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

That does seem low. I wonder if this is not the final word on the efficacy of his speech.

Posted by: jk at December 13, 2007 11:36 AM

The Road To Serfdom

Correct me if I am wrong, but I think I have heard every Democrat in the Primary Debates speak to making college more affordable -- up to Gov. Richardson's plan for "College for All." At first glance, that's a typical example of good politics, bad economics. Is it perhaps a little more invidious? A WSJ editorial today (free link) points out that the result of government subsidies is not reduced tuition, but rather a larger portion of education paid for by Federal largess:

Ironically, these government handouts are creating the tuition problem. Tuition has risen about three percentage points faster than inflation every year for the past quarter-century. At the same time, the feds have put more and more money behind student loans and other financial aid. The government is slowly becoming a third-party tuition payer, with all the price distortions one would expect. Every time tuition rises, the government makes up the difference; colleges thus cheerfully raise tuition (and budgets), knowing the government will step in.

Already well endowed schools are free to raise tuition, then grant capricious exemptions.Gregory Mankiw says "In the future, Harvard will cost $1 billion a year, and only Bill Gates's children will pay full price. When anyone else walks through the door, the message will be 'Special price, just for you.'"

Compared to terrorism or socialized medicine, one is tempted to let this one slip -- college is swell, right?

Considering the <bold-italic-super-emphasis>EXTREME</bold-italic-super-emphasis> collectivist tilt in academia, and academics’ new importance in financing candidates, this is concerning. We are creating not only expensive tuition, but also a well funded intellectual superclass.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 10:24 AM

Supply-Side Smackdown!

Two voices I esteem differ in reaction to the Fed's coordinated plan. Larry Kudlow, well, I'll let him tell you:

The Fed is blowing smoke at us, pure and simple. The only way to clear up overly tight money and the credit squeeze is to slash the federal funds rate. Or, better yet, let it float. All of this liquidity facility talk is a bunch of rigmarole.

Don't Ice it, Lar -- tell us how you feel. Meanwhile the WSJ Ed Page celebrates A Better Fed Idea:
Maybe we're finally getting somewhere. Yesterday's announcement that the Federal Reserve and four other central banks are offering a new way for banks to borrow is the kind of creative regulatory plumbing we've been waiting to see in this credit imbroglio.

While news reports described this as one more "liquidity" injection, it is important to distinguish yesterday's move from the overall monetary easing the Fed continued a day before. The latter is a blunt instrument that amounts to flooding the entire economy with dollars. It carries substantial risks for the value of the dollar and future inflation, especially the way the Fed has been so willing to respond to Wall Street pleading to cut interest rates.

I have to go with "Kuds" (as President Bush calls him) on this one. I'm not picking a favorite, but Kudlow (and Art Laffer) have been pretty eloquent on the Fed's need to address a seriously inverted yield curve. The discount rate is more than 100 basis points above the 90 day Treasury -- even after the 25 bps cut.

That said, I hope the WSJ Ed Page is right. The good news on their side is the extra liquidity that UK banks will get. I hope they're right, but I fear Larry is.

But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

The Fed may be blowing smoke, but Kudlow is smoking something. He's as smart in person as on his show, but uh...


Does this look like overly tight money? And this is only M2, not MZM. The Fed doesn't dare tell us what M5 is, which coincidentally began right when we should have started to worry about its inflationary practices.

Kudlow's problem is two-fold. First, he discounts (no pun intended) the dangerous expansion to the money supply; like most people, he looks almost exclusively at interest rates. Second, he uses Treasury yields as a baseline. There are so many other factors in play, and it's almost to the point that he's switching cause with effect.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at December 13, 2007 12:54 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I'll add that there's only one thing we need to let float: interest rates.

Free market proponents talk all the time about not fixing prices, to let resources be allocated by price to those who will bid most for them. Why not, then, for loanable funds? (As my Austrian professor taught me, the only truly important economic indicator is the supply of loanable funds.)

The Fed's action only encourages more borrowing in a time when borrowing conditions should be leaner. But instead, it's acting like a doctor who wants praise for applying a tourniquet, when it's the doctor who cut off your limb in the first place.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at December 13, 2007 1:23 PM

December 12, 2007

Daily Huckabee Whack

Endorsed by the NEA! John Fund reports in the Political Diary that it may not sell too well among republicans in New Hampshire:

The union's President Rhonda Wesolowski called a news conference to praise Mr. Huckabee for opposing school vouchers -- the only Republican candidate to do so -- and for his backing of a national mandate for arts and music education. Ms. Wesolowski acknowledged some differences with Mr. Huckabee on charter schools, but that was outweighed by his record in supporting higher taxes to improve public education. Along with the union's endorsement of Mr. Huckabee in the GOP race, she announced her group would be endorsing Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary. In 2004, New Hampshire's NEA affiliate declined to endorse a GOP primary candidate and endorsed Howard Dean for the Democratic nomination.

The man is evil. Quod Erat Demonstratum.

2008 Race Posted by John Kranz at 1:01 PM | What do you think? [2]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

With the words "union," "praise," and "opposing school vouchers" in the same sentence, yes, we certainly know the person in question is evil.

"his backing of a national mandate for arts and music education"

"his record in supporting higher taxes to improve public education"

In other words, Huckabee's politics is about taxing you to support what he likes. **** him for promoting thievery, and **** him for his sanctimony.

Officially, I'm a Southern Baptist myself, like Huckabee. But I consider myself independent now, because so many Baptists (and those of other "Christian" denominations) see nothing wrong with using government as a weapon. "Christian charity" has been supplanted by the use of "law" to coerce others to living according to the "Christians'" standards.

I see absolutely nothing of my religion in Huckabee.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at December 12, 2007 2:14 PM
But jk thinks:

There's a great story in City Journal about the Religious Left (online free).

The mobilization to coerce actions which might be admirable if voluntary is frightening. That they are getting so much currency in the GOP is worse. I've come to accept a moralistic bent from the party as a pragmatist's price, but when "we" start support smoking bans and the NEA, I dunno...

Much as I enjoy the quotidian Huckawhack, I remain confident that he is not positioned for long term success in the primary season.

Posted by: jk at December 12, 2007 3:02 PM

The Trouble With Mitt!

Jeffrey Lord writes a guest editorial in the Wall Street Journal today that the Governor favors process over principle. He cites Romney's interview with Fred Barnes at The Weekly Standard, where he says he would analyze the data. Lord says "Uh oh."

Grabbing two of the great Republican Presidents, Lord states that the data would have shown President Lincoln to seek appeasement and President Reagan to abandon his tax cuts.

They are, of course, not viewed that way at all. The principles of Lincoln and Reagan carried the day precisely because each man was able to stare at the "data"--however gruesome or frightening they might be--and not blink. They are seen as great presidents and great leaders today because they understood at a visceral level that they should hold fast, refuse to yield to overwhelming demands from critics that they follow the data or that they adhere to a process that used something other than casualties or deficit projections as a measuring stick. Lincoln would not cave in on the principles of holding the Union together and the most basic principle of America--freedom. Reagan would not yield on the central conservative principle that tax cuts and less government spending were in fact the keys to America's future economic vitality.

In other words, in a battle between data and principle, both men rated recently in a poll as the top two greatest presidents in American history (Lincoln first, Reagan second) chose principle. They have not only been vindicated but are held out as treasured exemplars of what a president is supposed to be. Mr. Romney, already struggling with charges he has changed his principles on abortion and gay rights and indeed on when he decided it was OK to admit he was an enthusiastic Reaganite, is basing his entire campaign on the very notion that process is everything.


Gulp, indeed. I'm far closer to forgiving Senator McCain's full frontal assault on the First Amendment than I am to forgiving Governor Romney for his health care plan. McCain is wrong, Romney lacks a philosophical center. I can appreciate McCain's other, good positions but I cannot trust Romney when the data support collectivism.

2008 Race Posted by John Kranz at 12:03 PM | What do you think? [1]
But Terri thinks:

I'm with you on this. A philosophical center, even if that center is a bit skewed is not going to get support from me.
(wavering on Rudy here)

Posted by: Terri at December 12, 2007 1:04 PM

December 11, 2007


I've found my candidate for President in 2008 -- it's Senator John Edwards.

I've had my differences with him in the past, but if this opposition research paper from the Obama campaign is to be believed, he's my guy:

  • John Edwards Supported North Carolina's Right to Work Law

  • John Edwards Voted for Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China and Voted In Support of China Joining the WTO

  • Edwards Worked For and Invested In Company That Uses Offshore Tax Loopholes

  • ...And Voted Against Requiring Companies to Detail Overseas Operations

  • Invested in Whirlpool While They Were Closing Down Plants in Iowa

Right to work, free trade, anti-tax, anti-regulation, Schumpeterian. I have obviously been too hard on the Senator.

Hat-tip: Insty

2008 Race Posted by John Kranz at 1:35 PM

Farm Livin' Is The Life For Me!

The lead editorial in the Wall Street Journal invokes Green Acres, ridiculing all the Manhattan residents who qualify for a nice Federal check. This is required, Governor Romney informs us in a Republican debate "to protect the food supply." Free markets are so prone to shortages, anything important should be financed by the government. (Sadly, Mayor Giuliani assented).

Why can't Scottie Pippen, David Letterman, Ted Turner, David Rockefeller, Leonard Lauder of the cosmetics firm, Edgar Bronfman Sr. of the Seagram fortune, and Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen make their farm income the old fashioned way? Have Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp throw them a benefit concert.

One of my illustrious Senators gets some press:

Colorado Senator Ken Salazar assails President Bush's threatened veto of the farm bill as "immoral." What he doesn't say is that his potato farming brothers, including Congressman John Salazar, received $43,104 in farm subsidies from 2003 to 2005, and they will get more if the bill is passed.

So what is it about farm bills that turns Republicans into socialists and Democrats into defenders of welfare for the rich? One answer was offered by Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group: "Democrats are so reliant on their ability to compete with Republicans for the farm vote that many are reluctant to push any income limits at all. It's very hypocritical."

Democrats will get a chance to prove him wrong when the $290 billion farm bill comes to the Senate floor, perhaps this week. Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar wants a vote on her amendment to stop payments for farm households with incomes above $750,000. This is a far cry from the $200,000 cap proposed by Mr. Bush, whom Democrats decry as a "protector of the rich." Yet Ms. Klobuchar's superrich income cap is still opposed by many Senators in both parties. Meanwhile, in the House, the farm bill passed with a $2 million income cap. It seems only yesterday that Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Democrats would end policies that benefit the rich over the middle class.

Farm bills come around every five years, so this is the best chance in years for reforms that reserve farm payments for the truly needy. That this is proving so hard to accomplish tells us a lot about how this Congress puts politics over principle. About 65 cents of every farm payment dollar goes to the wealthiest 10% of farmers. Where is that Democratic devotion to class warfare when we really need it?

Amen to that.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:50 AM | What do you think? [3]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I have a radical proposal: how about the "truly needy farmers" actually work for a living, instead of stealing from the rest of us? And if the goddamn greedy bastards can't hack it by farming, let them find find another line of work.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at December 11, 2007 11:24 AM
But jk thinks:

Huh? Not have the government pay? We'd all starve -- I don't see how your plan is going to work, Perry.

I'm struck by Senator Salazar's suggestion that the veto was "immoral." We inure to overheated logic from our politicians, but this especially laughable. I think I have to write a letter to my Senator on this.

Posted by: jk at December 11, 2007 12:16 PM
But jk thinks:

Does it do any good? Well, I'm snowed in today -- Dear Senator Salazar:

I appreciate that rhetoric in politics can frequently become overheated. But I am very disappointed, reading in a Wall Street Journal Editorial, that you called President Bush's threatened veto of the Farm Bill "immoral."
If agricultural subsidies do indeed rise to an issue of morality, I find it immoral for you to take money from my family and give it to wealthy land owners like Ted Turner, Scottie Pippin, and Paul Allen. (Even though I am sure all of those guys look great in overalls).
Posted by: jk at December 11, 2007 12:30 PM

December 10, 2007


I don't know who drew Harrison Bergeron's name in ThreeSources's Secret Santa, but I know he'd dig one of these:

Posted by John Kranz at 6:33 PM

Intrade vs. Polls

It seems to me there is quite a spread. Here's Intrade Republican Presidential Nomination 2008 right now. Bid price for a $100 contract:
-- Giuliani 40.7
-- Huckabee 19.3
-- Romney 18.6
-- McCain 8.2
-- Paul 5.2
-- Thompson 5.1

Here is the RCP Average 11/30 - 12/09:
-- Giuliani 24.5%
-- Huckabee 17.5%
-- Thompson 12.8%
-- McCain 12.5%
-- Romney 11.5%
-- Paul 4.0%

This isn't, of course, apples to apples, but I am intrigued that Governor Romney seems to do a lot better when money is on the line, Thompson worse, and it seems a miracle that Rep. Paul's Internet gremlins have not driven him up farther.

UPDATE: A new reader (welcome aboard!) asks what the hell an RCP is and what kind of questions do they ask. Real ClearPolitics website provides an invaluable average of polls from big media and polling corporations.

2008 Race Posted by John Kranz at 4:38 PM | What do you think? [3]
But John thinks:

I believe the polls tracked and averaged by RCP are sentiment indicators, answering the question "Who do you want to win?". The Intrade markets force people to bet on who WILL win, not who do you want to win.

Remember, the Intrade results yield subjective probabilistic forecasts. "Giuliani has a 40.7% chance of winning".

Posted by: John at December 10, 2007 5:41 PM
But jk thinks:

Agreed. But they both attempt to perform the same function. Ideally the pollster's sample will reflect a probability of those likely voters who vote for those they want to win. As they are represent two methods to achieve the same result, a comparison seems legitimate.

I know the predictive markets performed better in 2006, and the Hayekian in me loves the theory behind a market. With sufficient liquidity, I think the markets are also harder to game. As pollsters have less and less access to large segments of the electorate, markets should get better as polls get worse.

Posted by: jk at December 10, 2007 6:51 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

The prediction markets didn't just work better in 2006; they (at least, Intrade's did) predicted spectacularly. Every Senate race was called right, remember, even when popular opinion polls were going the other way.

Regarding prediction markets' exclusion of people who don't know or who don't bother to trade, that's actually another reason prediction markets work better. They require effort and desire to find, just like in real life when people must expend effort and have the desire to go to polling places.

Surveys might include "likely voters," but how many people say "Of course I'm going to vote" when they later won't? Perhaps they're too embarrassed to admit they weren't going to vote, because of this ridiculous "it's your civic duty" mindset people are brought up to have. Perhaps they'll simply get busy later on, or they might become disinterested. There are far more of those three types than those who will tell Zogby "Nah I'm not going to vote" and later decide to.

Disclosure: I freelance for Intrade, analyzing major political contracts.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at December 11, 2007 11:42 AM

Alan Reynolds on the Bailout

Alan Reynolds takes to the pages of the Wall Street Journal editorial page today to whack at the Paulson when-is-a-bailout-not-a-bailout. First, he runs the numbers -- as in his superb Income and Wealth -- and sees that all this fuss is directed to "a curiously selective little group, estimated to number between 145,000 and 360,000."

Membership in this club is more capricious than curious: arbitrary dates, prices, and credit rating. And did somebody mention "right to contract?"

Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson describes the arbitrary rewriting of financial contracts as a win-win situation for everyone. If that were true, the government would not have to get involved. In a win-win deal, Sen. Clinton would also not have felt compelled to threaten legislation to prohibit lawsuits from unhappy owners of mortgage-backed securities. If this "changing of the rules in the middle of the game," as many have described it, becomes a precedent, future funding will dry up quickly and permanently -- particularly for low-income borrowers. Why buy a bond that can have its terms changed by political whim?

He ends by comparing the Bush Administration to President Nixon's wage and price controls. Ouch.

Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 10:30 AM

December 9, 2007

Doppio, Prego

Italian Cardiologists show that good coffee is not bad for you:

The researchers found no association between coffee consumption and cardiovascular events, heart attacks or strokes, among these patients — even after carefully adjusting for age, gender, smoking, cardiac history, BMI, hypertension, diabetes, exercise stress testing, left ventricular ejection fraction, angina, dietary factors, and cardiac procedures and medications. In fact, those drinking more than 4 cups a day showed an untenable 12% lower risk for later cardiovascular events compared to noncoffee drinkers.

Nor did the researchers find any effect of coffee intake on the risk for sudden cardiac death. “The findings for sudden death are of particular interest because of the concern that coffee consumption may increase fatal arrhythmias,” they concluded.

These findings were consistent with the bulk of the evidence to date. “The majority of prospective cohort studies have not found a significant association between coffee consumption and risk of CHD,” they wrote. But this study is the first to evaluate the effects on a large group of patients with established heart disease, who would be the most vulnerable to any adverse effects of coffee.

The Science Is Settled! There will be no caffeine-denyin' allowed around here!

Posted by John Kranz at 2:29 PM

December 8, 2007

Fred! (Lazarus!?)

Weekly Standard's Stephen Hayes says Senator Thompson is All In

Peter Robinson at the Corner, puts it into context:

On the one hand, Thompson displays energy, initiative, and principle in all matters of policy. He has forthrightly and unapologetically opposed Roe, arguing that abortion law should be returned to the states. He’s solid on health care. He has displayed more courage and honesty in addressing the need for entitlement reform than all the other Republican candidates combined. In his insistence on the need to achieve victory in Iraq and prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, he has proven unflinching. And now he has proposed the most imaginative and far-reaching tax reform proposal of the entire campaign, calling for the abolition of the AMT and a voluntary flat tax. On the other hand, what has Thompson displayed in campaign appearances? Torpor. Lassitude. Indifference.

Until now.

As Byron York notes below, Stephen Hayes reports that Thompson now intends to climb aboard a great big bus, then spend every day but Christmas itself criss-crossing the great state of Iowa until the caucuses on January 3. With Romney stalled out and Huckabee under fire (a great deal of said fire originating right here on NRO), Fred has an opening—and, evidently, has chosen to seize it.

This is a big deal—or could be. Maybe—just maybe—Fred Thompson has finally realized that Ronald Reagan only made it look easy.

I agree with Kim Strassel that Senator Thompson has been the ideas candidate. If he ere to really push them, I could be persuaded to give him another look,

2008 Race Posted by John Kranz at 4:37 PM

Paradise Lost

It's Milton Month at ThreeSources.

-- I applauded Perry's allusion in a comment a few weeks ago;

-- I then used that same stanza to respond to a bit of collectivist nonsense from my normally non-collectivist brother. (I'll reproduce it under "Continue Reading);

-- Brad DeLong celebrates a 1964 digitization as possibly the first EBook. Not only was it all caps, but we've made some progress in storage since then:

To give you an estimation of the difference in the original and what we have today: the original was probably entered on cards commonly known at the time as "IBM cards" (Do Not Fold, Spindle or Mutilate) and probably took in excess of 100,000 of them. A single card could hold 80 characters (hence 80 characters is an accepted standard for so many computer margins), and the entire original edition we received in all caps was over 800,000 chars in length, including line enumeration, symbols for caps and the punctuation marks, etc., since they were not available keyboard characters at the time (probably the keyboards operated at baud rates of around 113, meaning the typists had to type slowly for the keyboard to keep up).

My Brother's Email

A holy man was having a conversation with the Lord one day and said.

'Lord, I would like to know what Heaven and Hell are like.

The Lord led the holy man to two doors.

He opened one of the doors and the holy man looked in. In the middle of the room was a large round table. In the middle of the table was a large pot of stew, which smelled delicious and made the holy man's mouth water.
The people sitting around the table were thin and sickly. They appeared to be famished. They were holding spoons with very long handles that were strapped to their arms and each found it possible to reach into the pot of stew and take a spoonful.

But because the handle was longer than their arms, they could not get the spoons back into their mouths.

The holy man shuddered at the sight of their misery and suffering.

The Lord said, 'You have seen Hell.

They went to the next room and opened the door. It was exactly the same as the first one. There was the large round table with the large pot of stew which made the holy man's mouth
water. The people were equipped with the same long-handled spoons, but here
the people were well nourished and plump, laughing and talking. The holy man said, 'I don't understand.

It is simple,' said the Lord. 'It requires but one skill. You see they have learned to feed each other, while the greedy think only of themselves.'

Technology Posted by John Kranz at 4:05 PM | What do you think? [1]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

No, this is the accurate depiction of hell:

Ten percent of the people work for 90% of the stew. Without so much as asking, the other 90% take turns holding back the 10% and supping from the pot that the 10% labored far more to create.

Theologically it doesn't quite fit, since there's no punishment for the 90% who steal, but *that* is a more accurate depiction of wealth redistribution in this country.

Here's a flashback:

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at December 10, 2007 2:46 PM

December 7, 2007

Mitt, the Speech, and Hugh Hewitt

From that title, either a brilliant segue or long-winded rant follows. I type. You decide.

I love political speechifying and carry fond memories of listening to President Reagan's "New Federalism" speech, Barack Obama's coming-out party at the 2004 Democratic Convention, even our misunderestimated President's speech in Whitehall a few years ago. Senator McCain's Commencement address to the midshipmen was deeply moving.

Yet I passed on Governor Romney's Mormon speech. Romney does not excite me as a candidate and it has nothing to do with Mormonism. I must confess, however, to enjoying the reaction. I'll have to find the speech and watch or read it as a student of politics. Here's a sample of the reaction:

Hugh Hewitt is in the tank for the Governor. In his first (of roughly 19) post explaining why this is the greatest speech since General Washington fumbled for his spectacles, I learn at last why Hewitt does not connect with me:

Mitt Romney threw a long ball today and scored. There can be no objective argument against that conclusion. Why? Because Romney is running for the GOP nomination, and his remarks, both in delivery and substance, were lavishly praised by Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Michael Medved, and James Dobson, not to mention Mark Steyn, Fred Barnes and Charles Krauthammer -and these were just the seven people I heard on a long drive south to San Diego and then in a hotel room before leaving to post this and give a speech.

What a list. That's the Republican Party to Hugh Hewitt. I like some of those people a lot, and I like a lot of those people some. But he is suggesting in that sentence that the speech is a hit if his version of The Secaucus Seven approve.

The most negative review I read was from Lee Harris in TCS

Kennedy shrewdly didn't say that the Vatican wouldn't try to interfere—something that his Protestant target audience would never have believed in a millions years anyway; instead, Kennedy said in effect, "I won't let the Vatican interfere." And many Protestants believed him—in large part, because no one really thought Kennedy took his religion seriously enough to affect his behavior one way or the other.

The Mormon church is not Romney's problem; it is Romney's own personal religiosity. On the one hand, Romney is too religious for those who don't like religion in public life—a fact that alienates him from those who could care less about a candidate's religion, so long as the candidate doesn't much care about it himself. On the other hand, Romney offends precisely those Christian evangelicals who agree with him most on the importance of religion in our civic life, many of whom would be his natural supporters if only he was a "real" Christian like them, and not a Mormon instead.

I think Harris points to a real problem with the Romney campaign. He cannot run the table with social conservatives or more secular libertarians. He has to take his 51% out of meddle, which will be perilous.

I have to credit Harris with avoiding Hewitt's mistake. Hewitt thinks that the talk show Republicans are the entire GOP; Harris knows that the Social Conservative wing exists, is important, and he tries to predict and understand their reactions.

Peggy Noonan is positive, The WSJ Ed Page is moderately supportive -- but I think the bookends capture the arguments on both sides.

UPDATE: Iowahawk parodies Hewitt. (Hat-tip: Instapundit)

2008 Race Posted by John Kranz at 1:56 PM | What do you think? [3]
But HB thinks:

Putting substance aside for a minute (in an attempt to be like most prospective voters), I thought Romney came off as quite genuine for the first time in his campaign. For the first time, I heard this man speak with conviction rather than spout pre-determined talking points. Never underestimate the positives that come from a strong, emotional speech.

My prediction: The Republicans will nominate Romney and attempt to appease skeptical social conservatives by giving the vice presidential nomination to Huckabee.

Posted by: HB at December 8, 2007 11:10 AM
But jk thinks:

You do know how to hurt a guy, hb.

I won't say it won't happen but I am hoping that the party would not feature two religious candidates. This would insult the secular wing of the party which is not numerous but which seems to wield power.

Your ticket would give a lot of ammunition to the Democrats who effectively exaggerate the threat of the religious right in the GOP. I think that a real Southerner would better balance the ticket: maybe non-chuchgoin' Fred.

Posted by: jk at December 8, 2007 12:08 PM
But MF thinks:

I can't seem to shake the You Tube memory of Mitt's 2002 passionate line about his support of abortion since "the days of 1970." He displays his current defense of life with an equal intensity. Which one is the real Mitt?

I envision a Romney presidency to exhibit earnest expediency while we are Powerpointed-to-death with platitudes. Of course, this is fit in between sessions with the attorneys to determine foreign policy.

He may be a good man and an excellent manager, but he is not a leader. I want a leader for President.

Posted by: MF at December 8, 2007 2:51 PM

Income Equality

The Everyday Economist says "if you read one thing today," read this CoyoteBlog post. The post shows the stunning mansion of railroad millionaire Mark Hopkins in California, and a modest home is Seattle that looks about the size of Casa del jk. CoyoteBlog (is that his real name?) compares:

One house has hot and cold running water, central air conditioning, electricity and flush toilets. The other does not. One owner has a computer, a high speed connection to the Internet, a DVD player with a movie collection, and several television sets. The other has none of these things. One owner has a refrigerator, a vacuum cleaner, a toaster oven, an iPod, an alarm clock that plays music in the morning, a coffee maker, and a decent car. The other has none of these. One owner has ice cubes for his lemonade, while the other has to drink his warm in the summer time. One owner can pick up the telephone and do business with anyone in the world, while the other had to travel by train and ship for days (or weeks) to conduct business in real time.

If you can read two things in one day, click through to Russell Roberts's vicious fisking of a Paul Krugman column. Roberts asks "When you read about CEO's making a killing or Alex Rodriquez or Oprah or Jennifer Hudson making a ton of money, do you get angry and resentful?" Krugman is convinced that people do.
Krugman thinks those over $75,000 people are onto something. Maybe not that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer but something close enough, "the big income gains have been going to a tiny super-rich minority."

Enough hyperbole for you? I guess he could have written "the enormous, gigantic, income gains have been going to a teeny tiny miniscule super-duper rich minority."

On the face of it, it's a ludicrous statement. Of course, the "big" gains can't go to everyone. They have to go to a minority rather than a majority. If they went to a majority they wouldn't be the big gains, they'd be the typical gains.

Both whole things. You won't regret it.

UPDATE: I fixed a faulty hat-tip that pointed to Greg Mankiw and not Josh. All those Econ teachers look alike after a while...

Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 12:04 PM

Headline of the Day

Boston Globe: Dukakis says Obama not capitalizing on grass roots

2008 Race Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 9:26 AM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

Wait'll that picture of Senator Obama in the tank hits the papers...

Posted by: jk at December 7, 2007 12:17 PM

December 6, 2007

The S&P 500 Closed Over 1500

Carry On.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:24 PM | What do you think? [1]
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

The Democratic spin:
We'll tax those nasty capitalists and their "only we can afford it" healthcare and redistribute the wealth to the poor and illegal wards of the State, even if it means collapsing the very thing that makes the US economy tick!


Ok,..back to the jagermeister,...

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at December 7, 2007 12:08 AM

Kind Words for Senator Lott

Hey, I am as surprised as you!

Don Luskin admits to giving Lott a hard time, but says we'll miss him when he's gone:

So what would happen if the House sent the Senate back a tax bill with offsets? Lott says, "They’re going to have to eat this. Get over it. Now, Nancy can dictate to all the Democrats she wants to. She ain’t dictating this. If they want the AMT, there ain’t going to be no offsets. Write that in granite. I can guaran-damn-double-dog, you know, guarantee you that."

"Offsets" is just another word for taxes.

Guaran-damn-double-dog! I'll miss that. Lott seems to have philosophically lost his way, but the minority Senate has been impressive. Credit where it's due, Senator Lott knows how to play this game:
In Lott’s last weeks as a Senator, he is blocking new AMT taxes, the excessively large S-CHIP bill, billions in energy taxes and a proposal to raise taxes on capital gains by 135%. The sad news is that no one seems ready or able to take up his whack-a-mole duties next year.
“I’ve been through a lot of end-of-sessions, and I’ve been involved in them very closely, and I’ve been the solution and I’ve been the problem,” said Senate Minority Whip Trent Lott, R-Miss., who is leaving Congress at the end of the session. “This is the most bizarre situation and atmosphere I’ve ever seen. Nobody has any idea how to do anything or how in the world we’re going to get out of here, or when.”

UPDATE: Luskin posts that the Double-Damn-Dog Guarantee was honored. Well done Senator Lott!
Baucus legislation will protect 19 million American families from unfair tax increase; minority objections to fiscal responsibility forced elimination of provisions to pay for bill.

Even with the Democratic spin I like it!

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 4:05 PM

a hearty, quarter cheer for Sec. Paulson

The lead editorial (paid link) in the WSJ today has a funny, self deprecating lede:

The next time we suggest that the government give advice to the private sector, tie us down until the fever passes. A couple months ago, we endorsed the idea of mortgage service companies voluntarily negotiating with subprime borrowers and investors to avoid a wave of defaults next year. Now come the politicians to wrap their arms around the idea, and maybe give the U.S. a reputation for forcibly rewriting financial contracts. Don't cry for us, Argentina?

They then get a little more serious, and question just how "voluntary" a plan is when it is negotiated by the US Treasury Department.
We wonder what these parties really think. Offering free advice is one thing. But when the feds sit down as a negotiating partner, the line between moral suasion and coercion starts to blur. Companies begin to think they're hearing an offer they can't refuse. So perhaps we should call it the Not Paulson bailout.

This plan seems to have it all: moral hazard, tax subsidies (States can issue tax free bonds to facilitate refinancing), and plenty of blood in the water to attract the tort bar:
The U.S. economic and legal systems are built on the sanctity of contract, and even the hint that government is compelling investors who now own these mortgages (the banks having sold them as bundled securities) to take less money puts the U.S. on a very dangerous road. At a minimum, it will raise the future risk premium that investors will demand for investing in U.S. real estate, which means it will be costlier to get a mortgage in the future.

What's so good about this plan? The Democratic House has one that is much worse, as does Senator Clinton:
Many in the Bush Administration and mortgage industry privately agree that this is dubious policy, but they plead that it's better than the alternatives being offered on Capitol Hill. These include "antipredatory lending" laws and new bankruptcy provisions that are punitive and would delay any recovery in the mortgage market. Right on time, Hillary Clinton weighed in with the truly awful idea of freezing subprime mortgage rates for five years -- presumably, through the end of her re-election campaign in 2012. She'd combine price controls and contract repudiation -- an Argentina double.

Doing nothing is proudly suggested by my wingnut friends at the WSJ Ed Page, but everybody knows it is not an option. In a choice between the lame "Not Paulson Bailout" and a new SarbOx for lenders, it's easy to choose sides:

go president bush, go secretary paulson. yaay.

Second Bush Administration Posted by John Kranz at 11:26 AM

Spirit of 1776

The CATO Institute reports another, grim milestone:

It turns out that the federal government currently operates 1,776 subsidy programs. These include subsidies for states, cities, individuals, non-profit groups, and businesses.

They end with a swipe at President Bush: "He's no Thomas Jefferson." While I can't make an impassioned defense, it seemed odd to single him out. We've had 220 years and a lot of not-Jeffersons to get where we are.

Hat-tip: Josh at Everyday Economist

December 5, 2007

Like a Train Wreck, You Can't Turn Away

Art Laffer and Merle Haggard collaborate:

"Milton Friedman said, (oh yes he did)
That the Central Bank that he didn't trust
Was the biggest cause of the boom and bust
In the Hamptons"

Hat -tip Mankiw

Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 1:25 PM


Oh man, really?

The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Wednesday shows a new national leader in the race for the Republican Presidential Nomination. While enjoying an amazing surge, Mike Huckabee has earned support from 20% of Likely Republican Primary Voters nationwide. Three points back, at 17%, is Rudy Giuliani. That’s the lowest level of support ever recorded for Giuliani in the tracking poll and represents a seven-point decline over the past week. Huckabee has gained eight points during the same time frame (see recent daily numbers).

Just as significant as the new leader is the amazingly competitive nature of the race. Five candidates are within ten points of the lead and all five could conceivably become the party’s eventual nominee. In addition to Huckabee and Giuliani, John McCain and Mitt Romney are at 13%, and Fred Thompson is at 10% (see recent daily numbers). In what could become a major moment in the campaign, Romney will give a speech on faith and religion Thursday. Huckabee recently declined to comment on Romney’s faith but did say it was appropriate to discuss religion in a campaign setting (see video).

Ron Paul is the only other candidate with measurable support and he currently attracts 7% of Likely Republican Primary voters nationwide.

Of course national polling isn't really an accurate presidential barometer. Iowa & New Hampshire are for now... and the rest of the early states.

But jk thinks:

I still do not buy that he is a threat to win the nomination. Perhaps hb's fears of a veepship could be realized if he won enough delegates.

At the risk of stinking up the joint, I posit that Gov. Romney's and Mayor Giuliani's childish sniping over immigration have elevated Governor Huckabee to look presidential by comparison.

Posted by: jk at December 5, 2007 1:14 PM

Is Your Name Not Bruce?

Even if they failed to elect PM John Howard to a sixth term, you have to still love Australia.

John Birmingham, blogging for the Brisbane Times celebrates soulless, postmodern materialism, even though it "might be all soulless and po-mo and materialistic. Not to mention really, really expensive." This guy is Lileks with a Foster's aftertaste:

When Europe collapsed into the fetid charnel house of the Dark Ages, it was the Muslim world, the Dar al Islam in which the spirit of rationality and the light of science burned fiercely. Within Europe the only flicker of modernity was maintained by a handful of Christian monks in heavily defended monasteries scratching away at illuminated manuscripts.

Strange to think that reason, science and the arts were maintained by religious fervour, because nowadays it seems that all the God-botherers are good for is vindictive craziness. It's like, having missed out on all the fun of the Dark Ages, they're rushing to catch up.

Short, brutish and funny, read it all. Hat-tip: Insty

Posted by John Kranz at 12:45 PM

December 4, 2007

The Right to Contract

I've had my head stuck in 19th Century jurisprudence for the last six months or so as I research a book. The right to contract had primacy to courts for centuries. It may be watered down today, compared to Lochner v New York, but I still don't see how Secretary Paulson's subprime bailout liquidity and solvency plan can even be considered.

Andy LePerriere wonders about moral hazard in the Wall Street Journal. (It's a paid link, but maybe you can get the government to give you access. Just 'cause I signed up and paid doesn't mean much).

A taxpayer bailout of distressed homeowners would be expensive, unfair to the vast majority of homeowners and renters who have made prudent financial decisions, and set a troubling precedent that would invite reckless behavior in the future. What's more, a bailout will not stop the inevitable correction in home prices, and is unlikely to prevent the associated economic repercussions.

But I think Stephen Moore has the more credible objection: how can you go in and renegotiate people's mortgages? Can the government get me $100 off the TV I bought last year? If you want to bail folks out, that is dumb but legal (by today’s lax standards).

I just don't get how can rewrite an existing contract and proscribe a lender from adjusting a rate in accordance with a signed contract. That is a lot scarier than a stupid bailout plan.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:32 PM | What do you think? [2]
But Terri thinks:

Perfectly said. That is very scary to think the govt can just stroll in and rewrite contracts.

Posted by: Terri at December 4, 2007 8:48 PM
But AlexC thinks:

Poor people have the best PR.

It must be awesome to be poor. No responsibilities.

Except of course, for being poor.

Posted by: AlexC at December 5, 2007 1:08 PM


Senator John Edwards is a fount of clarification for state coercion in Health Care. His primary opponents enjoy counting the uninsured that their plans will cover, and the number of children -- all of this polls well.

Coercion, however, is enforced at the point of a gun. Credit Sen. Edwards for bringing that up. He was the first to say that we'd have mandatory checkups, and ThreeSources readers are aware of his plan to use the IRS for enforcement (some tiny law blog from Tennessee may have mentioned it as well...) Now, blog hater Joseph Rago wonders, in the Political Diary, "Will There Be Health Care Prisons?"

Blame John Edwards for the health-care bickering between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

In February, Mr. Edwards offered an elaborate "universal" insurance plan that pulled the triangulating Mrs. Clinton to the left; in September, she introduced a virtually identical me-too plan. Then Mr. Edwards moved still further left to put some daylight between himself and his rivals. Last week, he started talking up how he'd actually enforce the so-called "individual mandate." A law would require every American to sign up for health insurance. But what if a lot of people can't afford it or don't want to pay for it?

Most Democrats, with their gauzy promises, don't want to argue about such practicalities, least of all Mrs. Clinton. But Mr. Edwards now says he'll turn the IRS into a quasi-police agency for health care. When individuals and families file their taxes, they'll have to provide proof of insurance. If not, they'll be financially penalized or have their wages garnished for "back premiums with interest and collection costs."

And Mrs. Clinton? Instead of responding by outlining her own version of an "or else" mechanism, she skillfully pivoted, deflecting Mr. Edwards's assault directly onto Barack Obama. In a withering speech in Iowa last week, she accused Mr. Obama of "betraying the Democratic Party's principles" by not backing an individual mandate in his own plan. In a conference call with reporters on Friday, Clinton campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle continued the assault, demanding that the Obama camp take down a "completely false" TV commercial claiming its plan would "cover everyone."

Amid the slashing attacks on Mr. Obama, of course, absent are any specifics about how a Clinton administration would enforce its individual mandate.

The problem is not a theoretical one. In Massachusetts, the only state with such a mandate in place, only about 10,000 of the 215,000 uninsured who aren't eligible for subsidies have enrolled so far. But Mrs. Clinton is not just trying to avoid discussing an unpleasant consequence of her plan. She's also manufacturing a "character" issue to use against the attractive Mr. Obama. Meanwhile, John Edwards is the only one giving voters fair warning about what Democratic health-care ambitions would mean in reality.

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 12:08 PM

December 3, 2007

Two Views on CO2

I'm going to link -- in one post -- to both The Guardian and the Wall Street Journal editorial page. I hope that the space-time continuum can handle the stress.

The WSJ folks point out An Inconvenient Reduction. It seems that the US is emitting less CO2 than it used to:

The Bush Administration announced last week that U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide fell by 1.8% from 2005 to 2006. Output of all greenhouse gases was down 1.5% last year. All this while the American economy grew by 2.9%. It's the first time since 1990, when the U.N. began counting these things, that the U.S. has reduced emissions without also suffering a recession.

Critics immediately pointed to the Energy Department's acknowledgment that the reductions were in part due to higher energy prices and favorable weather. But greater use of lower-carbon energy sources, including natural gas, also played a big role. The U.S. reduction also suggests that letting markets work through higher prices will reduce carbon emissions more than the cap and trade mandates favored by environmental lobbies and most Democrats.

Meanwhile, our intellectual betters in Europe have stumbled to meet their goals. Obviously, they are having too much fun -- but The Guardian is set to step in and fix it: Eat, drink and be miserable: the true cost of our addiction to shopping Subtitled: "Today it seems politically unpalatable, but soon the state will have to turn to rationing to halt hyper-frantic consumerism "
Is it enough to have halved family meat consumption, have foregone flights for several sun-starved years and arranged a life in which habits of cycling to work and walking to school are routine? No, it's just scratching at the surface. If the developed world is to implement the 80% cuts in carbon emissions the UN demands as part of the talks beginning in Bali today, the lives of our children will have to be dramatically different from everything we are currently bringing them up to expect.

First of all, it seems pretty irresponsible that you brought those CO2 exhaling offspring into being in the first place, never mind your difficulties telling them to "turn back to the caves" as Karl Popper would say.

You really really must read the whole Guardian piece, and as Samizdat Jonathan Pearce (inline hat-tip) says, actually read as much of the comment thread as your stomach will allow. Ms. Bunting gets quite a few "atta-girls," but also some concern from other lefty, Guardian readers. I meant to post there that President George Bush's plans seemed to be working really well, but I wasn't registered to post...

UPDATE: Lileks covers the Guardian article. He checks a questionnaire that he is "not very concerned" about global warming:

It’s like you’re one of those people they sang about in “Hair”! People who don’t care about war, or social injustice! Somehow “not very concerned” means you’re a global warming denialist, and you would, if you had time and money, drive to the Arctic in a Hummer and push polar bears into the drink. With the windows down. And the heat on.

Gov. Huckabee's Daily Whack

Harrison Bergeron might be busy today, allow me. John Fund and Brendan Miniter both write negatively about the second "Man from Hope."

When I first met Mike Huckabee, now the GOP frontrunner in the Iowa caucuses, it was 1993 and he had just been elected Arkansas's first GOP lieutenant governor in a stunning upset. He spoke glowingly at the time of his political consultant, Dick Morris. But Mr. Morris soon went back to his old client Bill Clinton, like Mr. Huckabee a man born in Hope, Ark., to help Mr. Clinton repair his battered presidency.

Flash forward 14 years: While Mr. Morris underwent a famous falling-out with the Clintons, he remains a favorite of Mr. Huckabee and reports the two men "have been holding private conversations" on a regular basis. It's no surprise then that Mr. Morris has been extolling Mr. Huckabee's virtues in his newspaper columns and Fox News appearances. Just last week, he defended the former Arkansas governor against attacks on his tax record by the free-market Club for Growth. "Mike Huckabee is a fiscal conservative," Mr. Morris insisted.

Again, I see the CATO Institute and Club for Growth attacking Huckabee's record and Dick Morris defending it. Hmmm, which way should I go? Brendan Miniter suggests that his wit and temperament will not stave off the questions of fiscal conservatives forever.
Mr. Huckabee's easy style, quick wit and solid support from Christian conservatives have propelled him into serious contention for the GOP nomination. He's running strong in Iowa and within striking distance in New Hampshire. He now represents the biggest threat to Mitt Romney's strategy of winning the nomination by winning big in Iowa and New Hampshire. But to put the race away, Mr. Huckabee will need to unite fiscal conservatives and Christian voters -- the coalition that sent the last three Republican presidents to the White House.

That coalition could fracture, however, unless Mr. Huckabee quickly addresses his record on taxes. He likes to point out that as governor he cut taxes some 90 times. What he doesn't say, however, is that he also raised more than 20 different taxes for a net tax hike during his tenure of about $500 million. He also left it to his successor -- Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe -- to cut the state's hated sales tax, which Mr. Beebe did shortly after taking office.

When we pressed Mr. Huckabee on his tax record a few months ago, he said he "won't apologize" for raising taxes because he needed the money to repair his state's decrepit highways. Fresh asphalt always seems to appeal to Republican elected officials -- especially those who love earmarking federal highway funds. But it's not something that will win over fiscal conservatives. What Mr. Huckabee needs now is to offer a plausible explanation on why he won't raise taxes as president for similar reasons -- what he needs, in short, is a big tax reform commitment that can appeal to both wings of the Republican Party.

2008 Race Posted by John Kranz at 12:47 PM | What do you think? [1]
But HB thinks:

In the interest of piling on:

Tax Hike Mike!

Posted by: HB at December 3, 2007 11:39 PM

Rubber Glove Audit

Protein Wisdom suggests what the form will look like. I keep thinking this is a parody -- but they wouldn't parody Senator Edwards on abcnews, would they?

Under the Edwards plan, when Americans file their income taxes, they would be required to submit a letter from an insurance provider confirming coverage for themselves and their dependents.

If someone did not submit proof of coverage, the Internal Revenue Service would notify a newly established regional or state-based health-care agency (which Edwards has dubbed a Health Care Market).

Those regional agencies would then evaluate whether the uninsured individual was eligible for Medicare (which covers those over 65), Medicaid (which covers the indigent), or S-CHIP (the State Children's Health Insurance Program which targets the working poor).

If the individual was not eligible for either of those existing public programs, the regional-health care agency would enroll the individual into the lowest cost health-care plan available in that area. The lowest-cost option could be a new Medicare-like public option or a private insurance plan.


Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 12:37 PM

Immigration Phonies

The WSJ Ed Page is harsher than usual on GOP anti-immigration. Their lead editorial Immigration Phonies (paid link) takes no prisoners.

When not fielding questions from Democratic moles at last week's GOP Presidential debate, Anderson Cooper and CNN had a grand time portraying Republican voters as Bible-thumping, gun-wielding Confederacy hold-outs. On immigration, however, the candidates didn't need any media help as they continued their descent into self-parody.

The last debate was pretty demoralizing for me. I posted my disappointment on farm subsidies, but the childish exchanges between Governor Romney and Mayor Giuliani left an even longer lasting sour taste. The editorial says "Normally, you'd have to seek out a high school cafeteria to hear such repartee."
This is reactionary populism masquerading as conservatism. And it's even more disappointing to hear it coming from Messrs. Romney, Giuliani and Thompson because all three have political histories that reveal more sensible immigration views.
The scale of this GOP flip-flop suggests they all know better and are posturing merely to appease the loudest restrictionist voices to win the nomination. Our view is that they're underestimating their would-be supporters, and harming their prospects next year if they do get the party nod. If trashing immigration was such a political winner, Tom Tancredo wouldn't be polling nationally at 2%.

I had the rare and wonderful treat of a political discussion with some good friends last night. Eight of us covered a broad spectrum, but I certainly anchored the right. I made my case for Hizzoner but before the debate I would have made it with a lot more conviction. Perhaps his old buddy, Larry Kudlow, can straighten him out a little on this.

2008 Race Posted by John Kranz at 11:29 AM

December 2, 2007


Just an update on Mike Huckabee from the Arkansas Leader:

So which raised taxes more? It is hard to quantify. If you measured the increases in the revenue stream, the Huckabee tax cuts far exceeded Clinton’s but that would be unfair because the economy had grown and the same penny of tax would produce far more under Huckabee.

But if you look at the major taxes, I see the aggregate Huckabee taxes as greater, especially if you deduct the 4 cent gasoline and diesel taxes that Clinton vetoed in 1985 and that the legislature enacted over his veto.


If you counted all the tax benefits extended to corporations under the incentives enacted by the legislature under Clinton — and they were part of his programs, especially in 1983, 1985 and 1989 — the tax cuts would dwarf those under Huckabee.

2008 Race Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 8:38 PM

December 1, 2007

Quote of the Day

A clarifying quote from Senator Hillary Clinton:

We can talk all we want about freedom and opportunity, about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but what does all that mean to a mother or father who can't take a sick child to the doctor?

George Will wonders "Well, okay, what does 'all that' mean to someone stuck in congested traffic? Or annoyed by the price of cable television? What does Mrs. Clinton mean?"

2008 Race Posted by John Kranz at 4:58 PM


Terri at I Think ^(Link) Therefore I Err shares my appreciation for press secratery Dana Perino, bringing us this exchange with Helen Thomas:

Q Why should we depend on him?

MS. PERINO: Because he is the commander on the ground, Helen. He’s the one who is making sure that the situation is moving —

Q You mean how many more people we kill?

MS. PERINO: Helen, I find it really unfortunate that you use your front row position, bestowed upon you by your colleagues, to make such statements. This is a — it is an honor and a privilege to be in the briefing room, and to suggest that we, at the United States, are killing innocent people is just absurd and very offensive.

Q Do you know how many we have since the start of this war?

MS. PERINO: How many — we are going after the enemy, Helen. To the extent that any innocent Iraqis have been killed, we have expressed regret for it.

Q Oh, regret. It doesn’t bring back a life.

MS. PERINO: Helen, we are in a war zone, and our military works extremely hard to make sure that everyone has the opportunity for liberty and freedom and democracy, and that is exactly what they are doing.

I’m going to move on.

Someday, won't even the press corps become embarassed with Ms. Thomas?

Second Bush Administration Posted by John Kranz at 3:47 PM

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