Megan McArdle, my favorite libertarian Obama supporter, hits one out of the park. The text below is formatted as a quote and I am not certain of its origins. But somebody is taking a marvelous whack at the University of Chicago professors who are protesting the Milton Friedman Institute:
"Many would argue that they have been negative for much of
the world's population... weakening ... struggling local economies"
I can think of lots of words to describe what's going on in, say, China and India, as well as what happened previously to countries that adopted the "neoliberal global order" like Japan, Hong Kong, and South Korea. Billions of people are leading dramatically freer, healthier, longer and more prosperous lives than they were a generation ago.
Of course, we all face plenty of problems. I worry about environmental catastrophes, and their political, social and economic aftermath. Many people are suffering, primarily in pockets of kleptocracy and anarchy. Life's pretty bleak about 5 blocks west of the University of Chicago. In my professional life, I worry about inflation, chaotic markets, and their possible death by regulation. There is a lot for thoughtful economists and social scientists to do. But honestly, do we really yearn to send a billion Chinese back to their "local economies," trying to eke a meager living out of a quarter acre of rice paddy, under the iron grip of some local bureaucrat? I mean, the Mao caps and Che shirts are cool and all, but millions of people starved to death.
This is just the big lie theory at work. Say something often enough and people will start to believe it. It helps especially if what you say is vague and meaningless.
Read the whole (very short) thing. Hat-tip: Instapundit
I had once suggested (I'm too embarrassed to provide the link) that -- in spite of his philosophical faults -- Senator McCain might be a good candidate/president because he was a good communicator, specifically that he could express the importance of the war in ways that President Bush has been unable.
I'm not alone in being disgruntled with the McCain campaign, but I thought I was being harsh in starting to remember Dole-Kemp '96 with fond nostalgia... But I think Dan Henninger puts things in perspective today. In his weekly Wonderland column on the serious WSJ Ed Page, today’s is titled: Is John McCain Stupid? The answer is not encouraging.
This week, Senator McCain delivered differing statements on payroll taxes about which Henninger says "This isn't a flip-flop. It's a sex-change operation." He called Speaker Pelosi "an inspiration to millions of Americans." About VP Gore's certifiably insane energy Jeremiad:
Recently the subject came up of Al Gore's assertion that the U.S. could get its energy solely from renewables in 10 years. Sen. McCain said: "If the vice president says it's doable, I believe it's doable." What!!?? In a later interview, Mr. McCain said he hadn't read "all the specifics" of the Gore plan and now, "I don't think it's doable without nuclear power." It just sounds loopy.
As Shakespeare said, "Sounds loopy? Nay, Sir, is loopy." Senator Obama's flaws are sufficient that McCain still has a chance, but neither Henninger nor I see many hopeful signs.
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Democrat Barack Obama, the first black candidate with a shot at winning the White House, says John McCain and his Republican allies will try to scare voters by saying Sen. Obama "doesn't look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills."
A pedant's first thought is "Was he referring to President Hamilton or President Franklin?" But I guess I am just a racist. As Ludacris would say "paint the White House black and I'm sure that's got 'em terrified."
I could not be more disappointed with the lengthening list of topics that are "off-limits." (Chris Muir nailed it in a Day by Day cartoon.) I have cut some slack because it has been done mostly by subordinates and because it is too effective a tactic to expect them not to use.
But this is a direct statement by the candidate, making post-dated charges of racism, and I think it is time that we all called "Bullshit" on it.
UPDATE: I have been out pedanted -- er, pedanticized -- er, Glenn Reynols is worse:
Er, all those other presidents? Isn't there just one President on the dollar bill?
I read the lyrics to your new rap song for Senator Obama, and caught the audio on YouTube.
I'm back on it like I just signed my record deal
yeah the best is here, the Bentley Coup paint is dripping wet, it got sex appeal
never should have hated
you never should've doubted him
with a slot in the president's iPod Obama shattered 'em
Said I handled his biz and I'm one of his favorite rappers
Well give Luda a special pardon if I'm ever in the slammer
Better yet put him in office, make me your vice president
Hillary hated on you, so that bitch is irrelevant
Jesse talking slick and apologizing for what?
if you said it then you meant it how you want it have a gut!
and all you other politicians trying to hate on my man,
watch us win a majority vote in every state on my man
you can't stop what's bout to happen, we bout to make history
the first black president is destined and it's meant to be
the threats ain't fazing us, the nooses or the jokes
so get off your a ss, black people, it's time to get out and vote!
paint the White House black and I'm sure that's got 'em terrified
McCain don't belong in ANY chair unless he's paralyzed
Yeah I said it cause Bush is mentally handicapped
Ball up all of his speeches and I throw em like candy wrap
cause what you talking I hear nothing even relevant
and you the worst of all 43 presidents
get out and vote or the end will be near
the world is ready for change because Obama is here!
cause Obama is here
The world is ready for change because Obama is here!
Pretty good stuff, "Luda." It's not really my genre, but you really do seem to have an exceptional gift at making things rhyme. The bit about the Bentley is particularly inspired. I write, however, to correct a small factual error. In the end, discussing President Bush you intone:
cause what you talking I hear nothing even relevant
and you the worst of all 43 presidents
I'm certain you realize that there have not actually been 43 US Presidents. President Cleveland served two discontinuous terms, grabbing both the 22nd and 24th ordinals. But it is more correct to say that there have been 42. I realize it screws with your otherwise exemplary meter, so I suggest these two lines as replacement:
The polity you propose, sir, will not likely engender economic growth
Of all the forty two, sir, you really are an oaf
The world is ready for change because Obama is here.
cause Obama is here...
Originally. I conceived The Probability Broach in the mid-70s as a summary of all I'd ever learned about libertarianism, and, more importantly, the promise it offers of a better, more peaceful, more prosperous world than our authority-battered species has known for the last 10,000 years.
I know, it sounded boring, even then, like a political tract. So I determined to make it a political tract as full of sex, violence, and general silliness as I could cram in between the serious bits. And it worked. Although I'd never sold anything before except a handful of gun magazine articles, the novel was picked up by the first publisher that read it, and the rest, as they say, is history...
That's the original author, L Neil Smith. The book has been released as a graphic novel, and that is available online.
It looks pretty interesting. Besides the libertarian premise, it has some Colorado hooks. The story opens at the corner of Colfax & York (I rented an old house a block away from there to use as a rehearsal studio in the early eighties). And on page 7, we meet "Propertarians."
Terri at I Think ^(Link) Therefore I Err links to an article in Der Spiegel that might be the worst article ever. Who else could marry smug Eurotrash socialism with dimwitted American populism? "We've combed the whole world to come up with the worst economic advice!" (It sounds better in German).
The article is dated January 8, 2008, so the Washington correspondent can reference the Democratic primary and have a perfect tie-in for economic nonsense.
Just in time for the recession and widespread layoffs many economists fear the American economy could face this spring, the presidential campaign has suddenly found its new hot-button issue: the dark side of globalization. The mortgage crisis, declining real wages and the fear that companies could even accelerate their outsourcing activities in a recession have relegated explosions in Iraq to the role of political background noise.
Huh? No Abu Ghraib? Well, we're talking NAFTA, specifically the theft of a bunch of good jobs assembling televisions in Tennessee to a plant in Juarez. Juarez, we are to believe was some sort of lovely, desert paradise until NAFTA.
In the United States, the city has come to symbolize a system of international trade that benefits only a few and harms the overwhelming majority, a system as detrimental to the wages of American workers as it is to moral standards.
Nein, danke, Herr Steingart, I seriously doubt many people think of Juarez as a "symbol of international trade." I'm thinking that "smelly, scary, dirty border town" would poll substantively higher.
Seriously, I went to school in New Mexico and financed one semester by driving to Juarez and smuggling back some not-quite-legal-in-the-US-yet tequila. Good stuff with a worm and all. This was more than a decade before NAFTA, and you will trust me that Juarez was a scary place. I got shot at once. Even doing the tourista parts several years later in daylight disturbed me. Sorry to contradict the good folks at the Ciudad Chamber of Commerce, but I'd suggest you pay the extra $100 and go a little further on to Puerto Vallarta or Acapulco or somewhere.
To Der Spiegel, poverty in America is caused by our past devotion to free trade. And poverty in Mexico is the fault of, well, not to put too fine a point on it, George W. Bush. Who is compared to a famous German Totalitarian Tyrant (nope, not that one):
The border crossing, in its coarseness, is reminiscent of the East German side of the former border between the two Germanys, except that the face on wall posters is that of George W. Bush and not of the former East German leader Erich Honecker.
Of course, the real problem with America and Mexico is that we have not embraced GDR Socialism:
The gap between rich and poor has grown by leaps and bounds in America, far more so than in countries like Germany. One-fifth of Americans earn more than half of all wages and salaries. Ten percent of the population owns 70 percent of all assets. This is what presidential candidate John Edwards calls the "two Americas."
My string of jokes about non-existent editors at ThreeSources (which a real editor would have spiked) have to come to a close. ["come to a close?" how about "stop?" -- ed]
Giles Coren is mightily pissed off. I can tell because he starts his Guardian piece "I am mightily pissed off."
It seems an editor for the Times Magazine removed the word "a" from his article. Coren makes a lengthy and family-inappropriate explanation of why this was wrong.
Hat-tip: Galley Slave Jonathan V Last who says "There are few things in the world as silly as a pretentious writer. Man is a vain animal, but writers have their own special sort of vanity. For exhibit 1,116, I submit this newspaper writer's tirade against a copy editor for removing an indefinite article--an "a"--from his copy."
Mondo-heh! I am starting to wonder if -- in a reverse-uncertainty-principle -- Senator Obama might actually not exist unless there are cameras or crowds to observe him. If so, how would you prove it? If not, is he Constitutionally eligible for the presidency?
“These people can’t just walk out of Starbucks and get a job at a grocery store or a factory,” said House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-CA. “They would need ESL classes and cultural training to learn how to relate to ordinary Americans and function in society.”...
“This is just another one of our heroic Democrat efforts to protect Americans from the impact of the Bush economic policies,” said Rep. Pelosi. “Under this president, America has become a cold and desolate place where corporations cut unprofitable activities to focus on increasing the bottom line, and returning value to shareholders. When Democrats retake the White House next year, we will reverse that trend.”
How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Global Warming
Professor Reynolds links to a Popsci.com story Global Warming: Not So Bad. The piece questions the D in DAWG, showing that many people and species are helped by warmer temperatures.
A 47-year study of one population of great tits—garden birds about the size of sparrows—is providing hope that some animals can adjust quickly to environmental change. University of Oxford zoologists have found that the birds are laying their eggs earlier in the spring to time the hatching of their chicks to the earlier emergence of caterpillars.
Talk about burying the lede! I'd've headlined the article:
"Great Tits Love Global Warming!"
UPDATE: An emailer is moderately offended and I'm moderately pleased that somebody expected better of me. Sincere apologies all 'round.
Why should I vote for McCain over Obama? I've been reading a spate of those articles and posts in libertarian leaning magazines and blogs. And while you can paint me as one of the well documented less-than-enthusiastic McCain voters, my pragmatic side is starting to kick in pretty hard. I've long championed his foreign policy ("win") and trade policy ("yes.") Last week, I linked to a great OpEd of his on Freddie and Fan.
Today, I will add "EDJUKASHUN!" to the list and link to the lead WSJ editorial which offers a stark contrast. Here is Senator McCain:
"When a public system fails, repeatedly, to meet these minimal objectives, parents ask only for a choice in the education of their children." Some parents may opt for a better public school or a charter school; others for a private school. The point, said the Senator, is that "no entrenched bureaucracy or union should deny parents that choice and children that opportunity."
It's well known that the force calling the Democratic tune here is the teachers unions. Earlier this month, Senator Obama accepted the endorsement of the National Education Association, the largest teachers union. Speaking recently before the American Federation of Teachers, he described the alternative efforts as "tired rhetoric about vouchers and school choice."
Mr. Obama told an interviewer recently that he opposes school choice because, "although it might benefit some kids at the top, what you're going to do is leave a lot of kids at the bottom." The Illinois Senator has it exactly backward. Those at the top don't need voucher programs and they already exercise school choice. They can afford exclusive private schools, or they can afford to live in a neighborhood with decent public schools. The point of providing educational options is to extend this freedom to the "kids at the bottom."
A visitor to Mr. Obama's Web site finds plenty of information about his plans to fix public education in this country. Everyone knows this is a long, hard slog, but Mr. Obama and his wife aren't waiting. Their daughters attend the private University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, where annual tuition ranges from $15,528 for kindergarten to $20,445 for high school.
One more issue where the liberty minded can feel good about pulling the 'R' lever in November. The editorial closes: "When the day arrives that these two candidates face off, we hope Senator McCain comes prepared to press his opponent hard on change, hope and choice in the schools."
John Edwards' greatest legacy in American politics may be in revealing the existence of "Two Americas" that uneasily coexist with each other in the same time and space on this continent. I propose the following olive branch, from one of those Americas to the other:
"You let us legalize drilling for oil and we'll let you legalize pot."
I hope the NYTimes faithful were not too disappointed in getting David Brooks instead. I bet they were, for Brooks was on a tear. He admits that when he first Senator Obama's soaring [C'mon people now] rhetoric [smile on your brother] in Iowa [Everybody get together] "I have to confess my American soul was stirred. It seemed like the overture for a new yet quintessentially American campaign."
The Berlin blockade was thwarted because people came together. Apartheid ended because people came together and walls tumbled. Winning the cold war was the same: “People of the world,” Obama declared, “look at Berlin, where a wall came down, a continent came together and history proved there is no challenge too great for a world that stands as one.”
Yet, now, the paucity of substance is becoming problematic:
But now it is more than half a year on, and the post-partisanship of Iowa has given way to the post-nationalism of Berlin, and it turns out that the vague overture is the entire symphony. The golden rhetoric impresses less, the evasion of hard choices strikes one more.
When John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan went to Berlin, their rhetoric soared, but their optimism was grounded in the reality of politics, conflict and hard choices. Kennedy didn’t dream of the universal brotherhood of man. He drew lines that reflected hard realities: “There are some who say, in Europe and elsewhere, we can work with the Communists. Let them come to Berlin.” Reagan didn’t call for a kumbaya moment. He cited tough policies that sparked harsh political disagreements — the deployment of U.S. missiles in response to the Soviet SS-20s — but still worked.
If Senator Obama's view of the past does not quite mesh with reality, is it any surprise that his view of the future is similarly clouded?
The great illusion of the 1990s was that we were entering an era of global convergence in which politics and power didn’t matter. What Obama offered in Berlin flowed right out of this mind-set. This was the end of history on acid.
Since then, autocracies have arisen, the competition for resources has grown fiercer, Russia has clamped down, Iran is on the march. It will take politics and power to address these challenges, the two factors that dare not speak their name in Obama’s lofty peroration.
Now that's a quote of the day: "It will take politics and power to address these challenges, the two factors that dare not speak their name in Obama’s lofty peroration."
Hang on Timesers, Krugman will be back soon. I am certain of it.
And it came to pass, in the eighth year of the reign of the evil Bush the Younger (The Ignorant), when the whole land from the Arabian desert to the shores of the Great Lakes had been laid barren, that a Child appeared in the wilderness.
The rest is below the fold (lest The Times comes calling).
The Child was blessed in looks and intellect. Scion of a simple family, offspring of a miraculous union, grandson of a typical white person and an African peasant. And yea, as he grew, the Child walked in the path of righteousness, with only the occasional detour into the odd weed and a little blow.
When he was twelve years old, they found him in the temple in the City of Chicago, arguing the finer points of community organisation with the Prophet Jeremiah and the Elders. And the Elders were astonished at what they heard and said among themselves: “Verily, who is this Child that he opens our hearts and minds to the audacity of hope?”
In the great Battles of Caucus and Primary he smote the conniving Hillary, wife of the deposed King Bill the Priapic and their barbarian hordes of Working Class Whites.
And so it was, in the fullness of time, before the harvest month of the appointed year, the Child ventured forth - for the first time - to bring the light unto all the world.
He travelled fleet of foot and light of camel, with a small retinue that consisted only of his loyal disciples from the tribe of the Media. He ventured first to the land of the Hindu Kush, where the
Taleban had harboured the viper of al-Qaeda in their bosom, raining terror on all the world.
And the Child spake and the tribes of Nato immediately loosed the Caveats that had previously bound them. And in the great battle that ensued the forces of the light were triumphant. For as long as the Child stood with his arms raised aloft, the enemy suffered great blows and the threat of terror was no more.
From there he went forth to Mesopotamia where he was received by the great ruler al-Maliki, and al-Maliki spake unto him and blessed his Sixteen Month Troop Withdrawal Plan even as the imperial warrior Petraeus tried to destroy it.
And lo, in Mesopotamia, a miracle occurred. Even though the Great Surge of Armour that the evil Bush had ordered had been a terrible mistake, a waste of vital military resources and doomed to end in disaster, the Child's very presence suddenly brought forth a great victory for the forces of the light.
And the Persians, who saw all this and were greatly fearful, longed to speak with the Child and saw that the Child was the bringer of peace. At the mention of his name they quickly laid aside their intrigues and beat their uranium swords into civil nuclear energy ploughshares.
From there the Child went up to the city of Jerusalem, and entered through the gate seated on an ass. The crowds of network anchors who had followed him from afar cheered “Hosanna” and waved great palm fronds and strewed them at his feet.
In Jerusalem and in surrounding Palestine, the Child spake to the Hebrews and the Arabs, as the Scripture had foretold. And in an instant, the lion lay down with the lamb, and the Israelites and Ishmaelites ended their long enmity and lived for ever after in peace.
As word spread throughout the land about the Child's wondrous works, peoples from all over flocked to hear him; Hittites and Abbasids; Obamacons and McCainiacs; Cameroonians and Blairites.
And they told of strange and wondrous things that greeted the news of the Child's journey. Around the world, global temperatures began to decline, and the ocean levels fell and the great warming was over.
The Great Prophet Algore of Nobel and Oscar, who many had believed was the anointed one, smiled and told his followers that the Child was the one generations had been waiting for.
And there were other wonderful signs. In the city of the Street at the Wall, spreads on interbank interest rates dropped like manna from Heaven and rates on credit default swaps fell to the ground as dead birds from the almond tree, and the people who had lived in foreclosure were able to borrow again.
Black gold gushed from the ground at prices well below $140 per barrel. In hospitals across the land the sick were cured even though they were uninsured. And all because the Child had pronounced it.
And this is the testimony of one who speaks the truth and bears witness to the truth so that you might believe. And he knows it is the truth for he saw it all on CNN and the BBC and in the pages of The New York Times.
Then the Child ventured forth from Israel and Palestine and stepped onto the shores of the Old Continent. In the land of Queen Angela of Merkel, vast multitudes gathered to hear his voice, and he preached to them at length.
But when he had finished speaking his disciples told him the crowd was hungry, for they had had nothing to eat all the hours they had waited for him.
And so the Child told his disciples to fetch some food but all they had was five loaves and a couple of frankfurters. So he took the bread and the frankfurters and blessed them and told his disciples to feed the multitudes. And when all had eaten their fill, the scraps filled twelve baskets.
Thence he travelled west to Mount Sarkozy. Even the beauteous Princess Carla of the tribe of the Bruni was struck by awe and she was great in love with the Child, but he was tempted not.
On the Seventh Day he walked across the Channel of the Angles to the ancient land of the hooligans. There he was welcomed with open arms by the once great prophet Blair and his successor, Gordon the Leper, and his successor, David the Golden One.
And suddenly, with the men appeared the archangel Gabriel and the whole host of the heavenly choir, ranks of cherubim and seraphim, all praising God and singing: “Yes, We Can.”
Mike Littwin, a liberal columnist for the Rocky Mountain News had this Obama cheerleading piece in today's Rocky. Forget the column, which is mostly fawning pap. The nut graf says it all:
If the idea of this trip was to let Americans see Obama as a would-be president, it was a grand success.
And, judging by Obama's performance, his presidential proclivities can be summed in a single word: feckless. Obama took strong stands for everything over which he will do nothing: Darfur, Zimbabwe, AIDs in Africa and the unification of Jerusalem. (Does anyone think that he will really send troops to any of these places?) On issues that he must tackle, such as winning in Iraq, he turns tail and runs like hell. While simultaneously admitting that the Iraqi surge worked and maintaining that it was a mistake, he calls for a similar surge in Afghanistan. Guys like Littwin lap it up - what a country!
The press also makes much of Maliki's "endorsement" of Obama and his 16 month plan. Assuming we can take this at face value, one must ask oneself why Maliki would prefer Obama in the White House. Could it be that he would rather negotiate with a relatively weak president than a relatively tough one?
Sen. Obama did not want to have a trip to see our wounded warriors perceived as a campaign event when his visit was to show his appreciation for our troops and decided instead not to go. -- Obama adviser, Air Force Maj. Gen. Scott Gration (Ret.)
From Jake Tapper. Apparently, it would be inappropriate to visit the troops as a campaign stop, but it's fine to have a "citizen of the world" campaign rally in Berlin.
Professor Glenn Daltry would say "meet the new boss, same as the old boss."
Kim Strassel's Potomac Watch column today is a grim reminder of just how corrupt our Congress really is.
The corporate world got an early taste of this last year, when New York Sen. Chuck Schumer used his majority status to take advantage of his home-state financial industry. It works like this: Mr. Schumer steps up to protect hedge funds and private equity from his own party's threats of taxation. In return, a grateful industry writes enormous campaign checks that Mr. Schumer, as head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, is now using to increase his party's majority. Somewhere, Mr. DeLay is whistling in appreciation.
In private, and public, Democrats are telling companies they're frustrated with what they view as too slow a shift in the political makeup of lobby shops. New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez recently quipped that if companies didn't start sending friendlier faces, they might find it "a little difficult at the end of the day for them to achieve the success they want." North Dakota's Byron Dorgan (who apparently has read the ethics law) clarified: "It's not about how many Democrats are hired. It's about how they weigh in on issues." Got that, corporate America? You can still employ Republicans, just so long as they act like Democrats.
She's sadly right that Republicans were no better, and that these pages were ripped from the Hammer Handbook. And she is right that there is a double standard on press outrage. What I cannot understand is why so few people care that these banana republic tactics (Mmmm. Bananas) live on in Washington.
We've been a little hard on the GOP nominee around here. It's worth pointing out when he does something right. Larry Kudlow links to this Op-Ed and has some kind words for Senator McCain:
Senator John McCain hit a grand-slam homerun today with an op-ed piece (“Take taxpayers off hook for rot at Fannie, Freddie”) that debunks the federal worship of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and takes off the table the possibility that these GSEs will get a strong dose of steroids if he is elected president. This is a dramatic statement that completely differentiates his view from the go-along, get-along policy of Sen. Obama.
I think McCain is probably right that some intervention will be required. And more right to call for reform in exchange for exercising the Federal put.
What should be done? We are stuck with the reality that they have grown so large that we must support Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac through the current rough spell. But if a dime of taxpayer money ends up being directly invested, the management and the board should immediately be replaced, multimillion dollar salaries should be cut, and bonuses and other compensation should be eliminated. They should cease all lobbying activities and drop all payments to outside lobbyists. And taxpayers should be first in line for any repayments.
Even with those terms, sticking Main Street Americans with Wall Street's bill is a shame on Washington. If elected, I'll continue my crusade for the right reform of the institutions: making them go away. I will get real regulation that limits their ability to borrow, shrinks their size until they are no longer a threat to our economy, and privatizes and eliminates their links to the government.
Denver officials expect to spend more than $18 million on police equipment for the Democratic National Convention — but the purchases apparently won't include high-tech weapons that use sonic waves to incapacitate protesters or goo guns to immobilize them.
That information, provided by the city to the American Civil Liberties Union as part of an agreement to delay a public records lawsuit, marks one of the most detailed looks yet at the super-secret efforts to provide security for the convention, scheduled Aug. 25 to 28.
The ACLU sued Denver in May under the state's public records law after city officials refused to provide documents showing how they were spending millions of dollars on police equipment.
I guess that still means fire hoses and dogs are still budgeted.
Samizdat Jonathan Pearce pens a long and thoughtful post, in response to a left-of-center journalist who wrote: A civil, but still flawed look at Hayek from the left He discusses Jessie Larner's piece in Dissent Magazine: what he got right, what he missed. Both pieces are well worth a back-to-back read.
I was going to give WSJ Ed Page Editor Paul Gigot a quote of the day, for this little bon mot:
My battles with Fan and Fred began with no great expectations. In late 2001, I got a tip that Fannie's derivatives accounting might be suspect. I asked Susan Lee to investigate, and the editorial she wrote in February 2002, "Fannie Mae Enron?", sent Fannie's shares down nearly 4% in a day. In retrospect, my only regret is the question mark.
Reading the rest of the editorial made me realize that this needed a little more coverage. Long time readers of the WSJ Ed Page have followed the battles with Fannie and Freddie -- if you're behind, they have compiled them here.
Gigot takes the unusual step of writing a bylined editorial on his own page, and I strongly suggest that you read the whole thing. He and his staff were on the front lines against this perverse hybrid of government and private power. He has certainly earned a few I-told-ya-sos, but he uses the space to expand and discredit the whole idea of mixing government power with private enterprises.
The abiding lesson here is what happens when you combine private profit with government power. You create political monsters that are protected both by journalists on the left and pseudo-capitalists on Wall Street, by liberal Democrats and country-club Republicans. Even now, after all of their dishonesty and failure, Fannie and Freddie could emerge from this taxpayer rescue more powerful than ever. Campaigning to spare taxpayers from that result would represent genuine "change," not that either presidential candidate seems interested.
It is germane not only because we are bailing out Fannie and Freddie today, but also because Senator Obama, and to a lesser extent, Senator McCain both have a soft spot for this "third-way" model, Public-Private Partnership. It's all Kumbaya all the time, until you realize that you have created an un-reformable, undefeatable monster.
UPDATE: Great article by James Surowecki (other than cartoons, the reason to read New Yorker) on the GSEs. Professor Mankiw links and points out that it is one more thing to thank LBJ for:
It wasn’t until 1968 that Fannie was privatized....The main reason for the change was surprisingly mundane: accounting. At the time, Lyndon Johnson was concerned about the effect of the Vietnam War on the federal budget. Making Fannie Mae private moved its liabilities off the government’s books, even if, as the recent crisis made clear, the U.S. was still responsible for those debts. It was a bit like what Enron did thirty years later, when it used “special-purpose entities” to move liabilities off its balance sheet.
A family member (uh-oh) sends a link to a short New Yorker piece on Senator Obama's "Flip Flops." The Flop of the Flip has been the buzz in my family. I wondered whether the far lefties who share my parents (maybe they're adopted...) were disturbed by the Senator’s move to the center, "At this rate," I told my brother, "by election day he will be calling Phil Gramm a Communist and calling for privatizing the Post Office."
A niece caught up on the thread and asked what I thought of Hertzberg's New Yorker piece. It's a pretty sympathetic scoring of Senator Obama's post-primary changes As I said in the thread, the flip flop accusation is overblown and overused. But it is curious that an unknown quantity like the Junior Senator from Illinois cannot define himself more forcefully on his signature issues. But I am not going to not vote for him because he changes positions -- I will not vote for him because most of his positions are so bad.
The article enumerated each supposed flip flop and scored it. I was interested in his views on NAFTA (which did not merit a mention) and on DC v. Heller. Here is Hertzberg, writing to the New Yorker faithful, on SOF2 (Senator Obama's Flip Flop) on the District of Columbia gun ban:
For twenty years, nominal support for the death penalty and its partner in crime, “gun rights,” has apparently been mandatory for any Democrat wishing to have a serious chance to be elected President.
I’ve never seen anything quite like it. Had he worked in support for child labor, and maybe blood-libel, I think we'd be talking Pulitzer! I'm working on my response. It happens that even the Republicans in my family are pretty squeamish on guns. I have to be careful not to overstep. I'm thinking of:
I know you don’t get to hang out with a lot of liberty minded people, but let me say one thing – and I bet about all the 9% that make up the liberty voters will agree. To lump in capital punishment with "gun rights" -- scare quoted or not -- is inappropriate and sloppy.
1. The right to bear arms is stated explicitly in the Constitution and it exists as a protector to all of our other rights. I will steal a great line I read last week: "I will use my Second Amendment rights to defend Mr. Hertzberg's First Amendment rights, even though he will not use his First Amendment rights to defend my Second Amendment rights."
2. Support for capital punishment is individual and subjective. Most libertarians do not trust the government to wield such power. I personally feel that there are sufficient protections and appeal opportunities afforded to defendants that it should continue in states that choose to allow it. I'm not an enthusiastic supporter of capital punishment by any means, and the people I know cover the whole spectrum. I have no serious opinion on Kennedy v. Louisiana.
I could not consider anybody to be liberty minded who did not support gun rights, yet even my squishy support of capital punishment pushes me toward the conservative and populist regions of the right, and would get me kicked out of any good libertarian gathering.
A free person does not look to the state to be the ultimate protector of his life, property, and liberty. Societies that do not trust a citizen with force are societies that operate in loco partentis. Government is not my mommy, and I like the idea that -- should they try to take away any of the rights we possess -- they will have to take them from millions of armed citizens. I am extremely cool with that. I saw a great bumper sticker many moons ago that said "The 2nd Amendment Ain't About Duck Hunting." I had to grow into an understanding of that.
DC v. Heller was the first substantive reading of the Second Amendment since the bill of rights was passed. The decision was of extreme interest to the liberty minded, and the opinion of a man who calls himself a law professor, who may well nominate several people to the Supreme Court is not Briefs vs. Boxers. A guy I blog with would vote for the Devil to head up a health care panel if he could demonstrate sufficient support for gun rights.
Senator Obama's changing and conflicting answers betray that this is an issue he'd like to see go away. He is not willing to take a stand on an important civil rights issue. That's a "substantive tweak" to Herzberg, but that's a flip flop to me.
John Tierney with more mad, libertarian ravings in the New York Times:
Why does the [American Heart Association] continue to insist that saturated fat should be avoided, if these trials repeatedly show that high saturated fat diets lead to better cholesterol profiles than low-saturated fat diets? And how many of these trials have to be done before the National Institutes of Health or some other august institution in this business re-assesses this question? After all, the reason the food guide pyramid suggests we eat things like butter and lard and meats sparingly (and puts them high up in the pyramid) is that they contain saturated fat. This is also the reason that the A.H.A. wants to lower even further what’s considered the safe limit for saturated fats in the diet.
Could we -- maybe -- have the government NOT take our money to give bad diet advice? I see the new food pyramid PSAs when I'm watching the tour. They've co-opted Disney's Jungle Book characters to tell kids to go to a government website to get [bad] diet advice. I hate to see Louis Prima abused so.
I was raised on the 4 Food Groups, which had the virtue of being a blatant advertisement for the four big ag lobbies. You knew if M&M/Mars ponied up some dough, that Snickers® could have been the fifth. Nobody really pretended it was science -- though it was probably better diet advice than when the government took the job seriously.
The first food pyramid (all-carbohydrates, all the time) would have been a target for malpractice lawsuits were the government not protected. I don't know what the new one is about. But does anybody doubt that there is a robust private market in research and products for dieters? I ridiculed government involvement in dieting in May of 2003:
The guidelines and all the new posters and the new “Healthy Kid” logo on the menu (you can see it already, can’t you?) will all highlight low fat, high carbohydrate foods. I should take consolidation that nobody will pay much attention to these, but some people will and their health will be worse because of government intervention.
Let the marketplace decide on nutrition, it’s what works. If you think I am crazy for bucking conventional medical wisdom and following Dr. Atkins, fine. That can be discussed, just like my preference for Mises over Lord Keynes. But let’s not allow the feds to give us one side, and then use threat-of-lawyer to force their advice on everyone.
Not sure my writing ages too well, but the ideas do. The government’s advice has been:
Sold for money (four food groups)
Health-threateningly wrong (food pyramid)
Hopelessly outdated (saturated fats)
In short, it displays all the flaws of top down, command and control structure. I wonder if this would not be a good target for a little-l libertarian attack. I think you can convince people that federal nannyism in food is counter-productive, liberty eroding, and supra-Constitutional. I think conservatives and liberals might come together. That's change I can believe in.
To roughly paraphrase Rush Limbaugh today, "Obama demonstrates how it is that totalitarianism can take hold. Not that Obama is a totalitarian but that he uses the same emotional appeals that bring tyrants to power."
As Lord Keynes famously said, "When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?" If your name is Albert Gore Junior, you ignore those facts.
Dr. David Evans, self-described "rocket scientist" and "important and useful" government funded scientist "working to save the planet" chooses not to ignore facts. (Well, whuddaya know... a scientist who actually practices... science!) Dr. Evans now writes, "When it comes to light that the carbon scare was known to be bogus in 2008, the ALP is going to be regarded as criminally negligent or ideologically stupid for not having seen through it."
4. The new ice cores show that in the past six global warmings over the past half a million years, the temperature rises occurred on average 800 years before the accompanying rise in atmospheric carbon. Which says something important about which was cause and which was effect.
None of these points are controversial. The alarmist scientists agree with them, though they would dispute their relevance.
The last point was known and past dispute by 2003, yet Al Gore made his movie in 2005 and presented the ice cores as the sole reason for believing that carbon emissions cause global warming. In any other political context our cynical and experienced press corps would surely have called this dishonest and widely questioned the politician's assertion.
Read it all. Particularly the other three "most basic salient facts" of which the above is number four.
The world has spent $50 billion on global warming since 1990, and we have not found any actual evidence that carbon emissions cause global warming. Evidence consists of observations made by someone at some time that supports the idea that carbon emissions cause global warming. Computer models and theoretical calculations are not evidence, they are just theory.
Hat tip: johngalt's dad, who also emailed it to Bill O'Reilly today. We'll see if he picks it up.
Famed political philosopher Joni Mitchell nailed it with that one. She was spouting green-wacko-enviro-nonsense at the time, but the sentiment has applications today.
I breathed a sigh of relief when none of my favorite Starbuckses were on the Seicento Guasti (dead 600) list. Some others were not so fortunate. The Wall Street Journal tells the sad tale of Kate Walker, a facilities manager for software company SunGard Financial Systems who recently learned of a store closing in New York City.
Now that it's going away, we're devastated.
Ms. Walker is in charge of consolidating 525 people from seven of her company's New York offices into a new building in January. The Starbucks inside that building, at Madison Avenue and 44th Street, "was something that we were using to psych people up" about the move, she said.
Her hopes were dashed last week when Starbucks released the list of the stores it plans to close. She jumped on the Internet to find a phone number for the company's main office so she can ask officials to reconsider. "Knowing Starbucks, there's probably [another] one within a few blocks," she said. "But that's probably two blocks too far."
"Paved paradise and they put up a parking lot..."
This link comes from a post by Tom Smith: Admit You Like Starbucks. Tom is a man of my own heart and bean. You try to tell these kids today, who are way too cool for Starbucks, what life was like before the white and green curse:
First, remember what coffee was like before Starbucks. Some of you (though I doubt it, with the readership of this blog) may have cut your teeth on micro-roasted craft coffee shipped straight from Kona or that African critter's butt to your grinding burr in Seattle. But most of us drank the usual American swill to be found in law firm coffee rooms and frat house kitchens. Akk. Dreadful stuff and I know because I drank enough of it. "I just made it" meant it had been sitting there getting foul for less than an hour. "It's OK" meant you could drink and not die immediately. I grew up in a house where my Mom drank 20 cups of coffee a day, not one of them not worth forgetting until, you guessed it, Starbucks came along and taught people about coffee the way everybody discovered wine in the 1970s. So yes, Starbucks is not as good as PetePeet's. Well, excuse me while I play the grand piano. No it isn't. But the point is, it's not Maxwell House.
Then there is the whole concept of espresso. It's not the same thing, but I discovered good coffee in New Orleans, I think when I went there for my brother's graduation from Tulane Law School. I was never able to recreate it precisely but I tried, scalding milk and using New Orleans style coffee with chicory. Espresso is a similar deal. You get more of the good stuff out of the bean and less of the bad. Americans discovered coffee did not have to taste like year old battery acid. They began to explore. In many instances this led to vice, such as caramel mocha fraps and chai tea in any form. But this is inevitable. There will always be those who take a good thing too far.
I have never been too proud for Starbucks. There is a Peet's in Boulder and it is wicked good. There are several indie places I love. But last week, I had the common experience of going to a new indie joint that was cute and sunny and cozy and had a really nice barista and attractive decor and was a really nice place. My Cappuccino was not dry enough to deserve the name (my wife's latte was the exact same weight). Worse still (yeah I hear your eyes rolling -- poor guy's cappuccino wasn't dry enough!!!) they had not pulled good shots and what I got was coffee flavored milk. I kind of like it the other way 'round.
Starbucks may never be the best coffee in town, but it is always way above the mean. Mmm coffee. Bye.
UPDATE: Taranto links and says "World Ends, Etc.":
I'm not really a "Daily Show" guy. Politically, I might me more a "Colbert Report" guy, but as I've said, the whole concept of faux news is rather creepy to me. I know a lot of people who get their news from Mister Stewart. I ignore this and live a pretty happy, satisfied existence.
Until Greg Mankiw posts this on his blog:
Yeah, there are some funny bits, but it seems very slow to me, speaking as a comedy critic and not a political critic. You kind of know every joke before it happens. I don't know. The Bush/Bernanke clips are well assembled and I did laugh out loud at the Fannie/Freddie graphics. I'd call it 45 seconds of laugh-riot comedy jam packed into 7:55, but you probably saw that gag coming.
As for the politics and as for the substitution of Stewart's program for news, I fear for the Republic. Ben Bernanke is "an economic expert" when he disagrees with the President. I wonder how many other officials appointed by the administration are held in such high esteem? I'm sure all the ones who repent are.
The Indymac bank failure is implicitly attributed to Bush in a happened-on-his-watch way. Kind of funny that the funny man wouldn't take a jab or two at Senator Chuck Schumer (D - NY) who <john stewart sarcastic screaming voice>I don't know, actually caused it???</john stewart sarcastic screaming voice>
End with the accepted truth that the President mislead us into Iraq.
Nope, no need to wipe any nose coffee off my keyboard after that. I'm not sure what Professor Mankiw appreciated enough to post it.
(This is a long update to the post below, "The New Graeme Frosts.")
I wondered how long it would take to see the "bloggers are mean to the overweight" meme. Eidelblog links to a Kevin Hayden post dated 7:16 last night.
In the process, they neglect to consider the high percentages of Ohio families reporting similar financial difficulties, even those with family incomes between $40K and $79K. Paying for gas, getting a good job or getting a raise, paying for healthcare or insurance has grown difficult for between 1 and 4 and 1 in 2 Ohioans in that middle class income range.
They neglect to mention that the daughter seems motivated to work and to educate herself, while refusing to get pregnant to gain more assistance.
Leaving aside the unclaimed abstinence medal, there really are two stories here. Perry is right to focus on "state worship" as enabling these people to make bad decisions with little or no consequence. I'm equally interested as a media story. NPR wanted to run this story so very badly. I'm sure they advertised for someone to feature. And I am sure they were delighted to get Angelica and Gloria.
I am pretty uncomfortable piling on those two women, because -- unlike the Frosts -- they didn't put themselves up (Does NPR pay? I hope so in this instance.) And their plight is pretty sad. I will not agree with the commenters on Gateway Pundit who claim these two live a princely life because their percentage of fixed payments to income is low. I flatly condemn the cruel sexual comments.
My complaint is with NPR. Hayden has a point that it is more difficult to assemble a healthy diet on less money. They can't really afford a health club and personal trainer, and starchy, high carbohydrate foods are the cheapest. BUT THAT WASN'T THE STORY! Had NPR done a feature on those who find it hard to eat healthfully in Bush's Amerikkka, that would have been an option, and Ms. Nunez and Ms. Hernandez would have been great "gets."
But NPR was sworn to show starvation. That supports their call for more government help and puts the current administration’s policies in a bad light. So they comb the Buckeye State for a family to feature and these are the best they can find. Hayden tells us that a quarter of Ohio families are in that predicament -- so why did NPR choose Nunez and Hernandez?
I suggest that perhaps there are not millions of starving families in Ohio and that NPR had to scrape pretty far down the barrel.
I assume many of you saw this, but I think everybody has to.
NPR profiled the plight of this family that has had to cut down on food. The headline on the NPR site is For Some Ohioans, Even Meat Is Out Of Reach. I'm sure the story was quite touching on the radio. I can almost hear the dulcet tones of the NPR announcer du jour, and the well produced transitions with acoustic music in the background.
Low-income families in Ohio say they are particularly hard-hit by the changes in the economy, according to a new poll conducted by NPR, The Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard School of Public Health.
In the blogosphere, however, the story has a different vibe because it includes a picture of Angelica Hernandez and Gloria Nunez, the "starving" family:
Now I hate to be cruel. I have been heavy most of my life and could certainly use to drop 20 pounds right now. But only NPR could present these two as suffering from a lack of food. (Okay, I'll be cruel: the headline "Meat out of reach" is apropos because none of them can lift her arms! -- Sorry.)
Like the Frosts, the family that starred in the Democratic Radio address to support SCIHP, maybe these people have -- I don't know -- made some bad choices, or have perhaps done something slightly wrong that has kept their income from keeping up with inflation?
Nunez and most of her siblings and their spouses are unemployed and rely on government assistance and food stamps. Some have part-time jobs, but working is made more difficult with no car or public transportation.
They're not hit by high gas prices because they don't have a car. They've cut back on food (no more ice cream!) so they are saving money. Their energy costs at home are subsidized and unchanged. Why were they chosen by NPR to support this story premise? Because they were the only family in Ohio that claimed they were eating less because of food prices. And because there are no pictures on radio.
Conan is a little past my bedtime, but this clip made me laugh:
Senator McCain has a good sense of humor and sits through the bad jokes pretty patiently. Senator O is starting to make Nixon look like a laugh riot. (Are we rioting in the streets yet over the New Yorker cover?)
James Freeman, assistant editor for the WSJ Ed Page, has a guest editorial on the, um, WSJ editorial page. It starts with some stark news:
Is the great American financial engine that gave the world Intel and Google grinding to a halt? Last quarter marked the first time in 30 years that not a single company backed by venture capital went public in the U.S.
He admits that markets are off and that there are other, exogenous factors. But a drought is a drought, and I find this a brutal reminder that while the market system is extremely durable, individual markets can be quite fragile. America's dominant capital markets have plenty of competition. And these competitors lack SarbOx and Spitzerism.
This is bad news for the U.S. economy. Does anyone think that we would be better off if Bill Gates and Michael Dell had sold out to corporate behemoths early in their careers, instead of leading their firms for years as public companies? Would consumers enjoy the same vibrant market in Web services if Yahoo had gobbled up a nascent Google? How powerful would our computers be if Intel had become an IBM subsidiary, instead of going public in 1971?
That golden goose is not immortal. This long without a venture IPO is a bad sign. A worse sign is that the American government is talking about more punishment: cutting back on Golden Goose Chow® when we need eggs, and [this metaphor has been terminated by the Editors]
I'm not sure more taxes, additional regulation, higher energy costs, and a Rube Goldberg cap and trade plan will bring capital back to the markets.
I cringed when SEC chief Christopher Cox moved to prohibit naked shorts against Fannie and Freddie. And not just because my inner Beavis and Butthead heard Cox, naked, shorts, and Fannie in the same sentence.
In my mind, a naked short is a pure derivative play that allows a trader to bet on a stock's going down. I'm a dull, broad-index, ETF guy myself, but I believe pure option plays provide more efficient price information and get risk in the hands of those who can best handle it. This call from a sharp GOP administration official like Cox sounded like blaming oil prices on "evil speculators."
To my surprise, Donald L. Luskin strongly criticized the practice on Kudlow last night. I just sent a letter to Mr. Luskin suggesting that he expound on it. (Heh: just got a response, he says "Done." While I was typing this he answered and posted a response.)
"Naked" shorting and "naked" option-writing have nothing to do with each other, except for the coincidence of the term "naked." In the case of option-writing, the "naked" writer is simply taking a short position in a put or a call without a risk-offsetting position in the underlying asset (usually a stock). I have no problem with that at all. A short option, whether "naked" or not, is simply a contract to sell (in the case of a short call) or buy (in the case of a short put) at a fixed price by a fixed date. No issue there.
However, "naked" shorting is an entirely different matter. When you sell a stock short, you are selling something you do not own. Yet the buyer requires that you deliver to him the thing he bought from you. Normally you accomplish that by arranging to borrow the shares from someone else who owns them. You sell the borrowed shares, and deliver them to the buyer in exchange for the buyer's cash. Ultimately, you expect to buy back the stock at a lower price, and replace the borrowed shares. In "naked" shorting, you sell to the buyer without any intention of borrowing stock to deliver. So on settlement day, your trade fails. You cannot deliver what you do not have. Yet when you made the sale, you were implicitly promising to deliver. After the fail, you can cure the problem by buying stock and delivering it, hopefully at a profitably lower price. But shat amounts to fraud -- in very much the same way that kiting checks amounts to fraud. It doesn't matter if you ultimately deliver. At the time of the sale, you had no intention or capability to deliver.
The WSJ Editorial page today is a little closer to my position. They're not full-throated endorsers by any means:
Not that the SEC's emergency order to bar naked short selling is quite the disaster proclaimed by some traders. It's possible that it won't do much harm, and this is a titanic achievement for any policy coming out of Washington these days. At the end of the day, the order is not a ban on all short selling, which is a bet that a stock price will fall and is a critical ingredient for efficient markets.
Will the SEC rule prevent the 19 designated financial firms from reaching the valuations that investors would otherwise assign to them? Probably not. The only certain result is that Wall Street trading desks and IT departments will spend time and money scrambling to reconfigure their transaction systems by 12:01 a.m. Monday when the order becomes effective. This is sand in the gears of our financial markets and at the margin may slow down vital price signals, given the extra step required to lock down the shares before shorting them. In that way it may not benefit the firms it is intended to help because it will reduce liquidity.
I am on vacation, so I have some time to ponder Luskin's response. I understand the technical difference but I am not sure I grab a philosophical difference that makes one side a legitimate play and the other the equivalent of kiting checks. I'm keeping an open mind.
If my posts seem more trivial than usual, I am on vacation this week. Grinding, tedious partisan hackery will return in full force next week.
But today, I got an email from a niece of mine that made me chuckle. There's a T-Shirt at Café Press:
EVERYTIME YOU POST WITH THE CAPS LOCK ON, e e cummings kills a kitten.
Following a link in the comments, I found this. Norman Friedman of the English department at Grand Valley State University (Go Lakers!) makes a good case that mister Cummings's name should be typeset with conventional case.
I always use lower case for my two character sobriquet (which adds three keystrokes to keep MS-Word® from auto-correcting it). Without ee, I am losing academic support.
“Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid walks from his Chevrolet Suburban (left) to attend a news conference on energy efficiency Wednesday in Upper Senate Park. Reid rode in the sport utility vehicle from the Capitol to the event, which was across the street.”
Good Libertarian Party campaigns put a likeable gadfly into the race to remind voters about our vanishing freedoms. It also provides a nice safety valve to disgruntled voters who are disappointed with the major party candidates.
Rep. Barr is hell bent on throwing the race to Senator Obama. This will vindicate his candidacy: "See, we matter, we drew enough votes to change the race."
You may accuse me of practicing pop psychology but I think this is the real game plan. I offer two recent articles to back my theory. The first is Matt Welch's introductory/masthead piece in this month's Reason. It's not online yet, but Welch spends a good bit of the article bragging that if the planets align just right and the weather is nice that the LP might be credited this year with throwing the race to the Democrats. Aim for the stars boys!
Today, the candidate himself takes to the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal. The thesis of his piece is that Senator McCain cannot be trusted to make "Conservative" judicial nominations. With Senator McCain being a cosponsor of the McCain-Feingold Act to Repeal the First Amendment, this is what our British friends would call "a fair cop."
But, you’re thinking, what about Senator Obama's judicial picks? Might those be worse? Bob? Rep, Barr has anticipated your question and includes this howler:
Nor is it obvious that Barack Obama would attempt to pack the court with left-wing ideologues. He shocked some of his supporters by endorsing the ruling that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to own firearms, and criticizing the recent decision overturning the death penalty for a child rapist. With the three members most likely to leave the Supreme Court in the near future occupying the more liberal side of the bench, the next appointments probably won't much change the Court's balance.
But even if a President McCain were to influence the court, it would not likely be in a genuinely conservative direction. His jurisprudence is not conservative.
Because Senator Obama's most deeply held convictions change with what he had for breakfast this morning, maybe he'll have a bran muffin and renominate Robert Bork. McCain's "jurisprudence is not conservative" but Obama's will likely be fine. Justice Duvall Patrick will be the next Clarence Thomas.
I have no objection to an LP candidate saying "I don't care if I take votes from the GOP, that's not my concern." I do wonder about a candidate who doesn’t want to throw punches at the Democrats as well.
Excellent reporting from the International Herald Tribune:
Senator John McCain's trip to Iraq last spring was a low-key affair: With his ordinary retinue of reporters following him abroad, the NBC News anchor Brian Williams reported on his arrival in Baghdad from New York, with just two sentences tacked onto the "in other political news" portion of his newscast.
But when Obama heads for Iraq and other locations overseas this summer, Williams is planning to catch up with him in person, as are the other two evening news anchors, Charles Gibson of ABC and Katie Couric of CBS, who, like Williams, are far along in discussions to interview Obama on successive nights.
And while the anchors are jockeying for interviews with Obama at stops along his route, the regulars on the Obama campaign plane will have new seat mates: star political reporters from the major newspapers and magazines who are flocking to catch Obama's first overseas trip since becoming the presumptive nominee of his party.
The extraordinary coverage of Obama's trip reflects how the candidate remains an object of fascination in the news media, a built-in feature of being the first African-American presidential nominee for a major political party and a relative newcomer to the national stage.
But the coverage also feeds into concerns in McCain's campaign, and among Republicans in general, that the media is imbalanced in their coverage of the candidates, just as aides to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton felt during the primary season.
WASHINGTON—A panel of top business leaders testified before Congress about the worsening recession Monday, demanding the government provide Americans with a new irresponsible and largely illusory economic bubble in which to invest.
"What America needs right now is not more talk and long-term strategy, but a concrete way to create more imaginary wealth in the very immediate future," said Thomas Jenkins, CFO of the Boston-area Jenkins Financial Group, a bubble-based investment firm. "We are in a crisis, and that crisis demands an unviable short-term solution."
There's a problem with Reagan's bloodless victory in the Cold War - all of the communists were free to go elsewhere and carry on their life's work. Their latest manifesto (that I'm aware of) is called: Agenda 21.
"Human beings are at the centre of concerns for sustainable development. They are entitled to a healthy and productive life in harmony with nature."
And all other rights not hereby enumerated are at risk.
Principle 2 -
"States have, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and the principles of international law, the sovereign right to exploit their own resources pursuant to their own environmental and developmental policies, and the responsibility to ensure that activities within their jurisdiction or control do not cause damage to the environment of other States or of areas beyond the limits of national jurisdiction."
Global Warming anyone?
Principle 3 -
"The right to development must be fulfilled so as to equitably meet developmental and environmental needs of present and future generations."
Natural resources (fossil fuels) must be left in the ground for use by future generations. And future generations must leave it for those that follow them. And so on.
(I'm not sure I can take much more of this.)
Principle 4 -
"In order to achieve sustainable development, environmental protection shall constitute an integral part of the development process and cannot be considered in isolation from it."
Thou shalt not create buildings which trample a single plant or insect.
(Let's skip ahead a bit.)
Principle 15 -
"In order to protect the environment, the precautionary approach shall be widely applied by States according to their capabilities. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation."
"Don't know where were goin' but there's no use bein' late!"
Principle 20 -
Women have a vital role in environmental management and development. Their full participation is therefore essential to achieve sustainable development.
Perhaps women deserve government salaries for living sustainably (i.e. without engaging in commerce.)
Principle 24 -
"Warfare is inherently destructive of sustainable development. States shall therefore respect international law providing protection for the environment in times of armed conflict and cooperate in its further development, as necessary."
"Hey Joe, where you goin' with that grenade in your hand?" Did you get an EIS first?
Principle 25 -
"Peace, development and environmental protection are interdependent and indivisible."
Aw shucks, ain't that nice?
Principle 26 -
"States shall resolve all their environmental disputes peacefully and by appropriate means in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations."
Principle 27 -
"States and people shall cooperate in good faith and in a spirit of partnership in the fulfilment of the principles embodied in this Declaration and in the further development of international law in the field of sustainable development."
Thus shall it be. Amen.
Think none of this will ever effect you? My brother learned differently when he applied for a building permit in Boulder County.
The American Economic Association represents only a small fraction of 1 percent of the electorate. In every election season, we economists expect to be largely ignored, and, unlike many of our other forecasts, that one often turns out to be right.
But suppose it were otherwise. Imagine that those running for office tailored their economic positions to attract the experts in the field. What would it take to put the nation’s economists solidly behind a candidate?
Aside from a little Pigou-sneak, I think all of his suggestions are superb! Of course, if somebody would accept them in toto I would accept the energy taxes easily in exchange for all the other ideas.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 92.65 points, or 0.8%, at 10962.54, its first close below the psychologically important 11000 level since July of 2006. It was held back by a sharp decline in American International Group, which fell 8.5%, and Bank of America, which declined by 8.1%. Citigroup dropped 4.3%. Exxon Mobil and Chevron each fell nearly 4%, victimized by the drop in crude.
Today’s data on May international trade prompted several economists to boost their tracking estimates of second quarter GDP growth. Macroeconomic Advisers boosted its estimate to 3.3% (annual rate) from 3% as did HSBC. Morgan Stanley raised its estimate to 3.9% from 3.8%. GDP grew just 0.7% in the first quarter.
Official, 20%+ bear correction, check. Negative sentiment, check, Under support, check. I think this market has priced in a recession that ain't happening.
In my 20's I wanted to be Mick Jagger (and I would not have left Bianca for Jerry Hall, no matter how bad her politics!). In my 30's, I wanted to be Garrison Keillor. Again an odd political choice, but to write stories, sing old songs and read Walt Whitman on the radio seems a good gig.
Watching some of the tributes over the weekend, I'd like to be Tony Snow. I don't know that we agreed on everything, but he thought his positions through, presented them forcefully, and never lost his respect for -- and rarely the respect of -- his interlocutor.
As a columnist and radio talk show host, Snow was principled but never nasty. As the host of "Fox News Sunday," he exuded good will, which made him suspect in the eyes of some on the right (and even among some of his Fox colleagues) who wanted him to be a more ferocious questioner. And as White House press secretary, he cheerfully but forcefully sparred with reporters in making the President's case on policy. No doubt because he was confident in his own convictions, he wasn't defensive about his answers. This has not been universally true during the Bush Presidency.
VP Cheney called him the best press secretary he could remember. I think he will change the shape of that office. His protégé occupies the post now, and future presidents will look to media, pundits and entertainers to get their points across. But I don't know that they'll find another Tony Snow. RIP.
I guess we take another step toward nationalizing the secondary mortgage market this morning. Only Congress would vote to expand the scope and authority of an entity the same quarter it votes to bail it out. Everyday Economist links to a superb summary of How we got into this mess by James Hamilton at Econbrowser.
And the WSJ Ed Page offers a nice collection of editorials they have run about Freddie and Fannie, They call it Fannie Mayhem, but they could have called it I told you so.
I'm saddened but far from surprised, There was always an implicit government put on these two GSEs. Everyone knew it, it's just come out in the open.
Authority is a broad term with many applications. One of the most important of those deals with the origin and scope of government power. The intersection of that power with "the power of an individual's inner freedom' is an important place to make fine distinctions.
Following the link to Perry's "Tale of Two Thieves" blog provided in his comment to the previous post led to another excerpt from Walter Williams' forward to his friend's book (which looks to be well worth a read, by the way):
"Give us what we demand," cried out the multitude, "lest we seize it by force."
And the merchant replied, "Depart in peace while ye yet can, for ye have no right to my possessions save with my consent, and as I have done no wrong to any man, none of ye have any authority to seize any of my possessions."
"Behold," cried out his neighbors with one voice, "that we have declared ourselves a government, and as such we have given ourselves the authority."
The merchant replied, "Ye have no authority, for one cannot give authority unto oneself."
"That matters not," they replied and began to grumble, "for we are a greater number than thee and thy family, and because of our greater numbers, we have decided that thou shalt pay us tribute."
Then did his neighbors, armed with swords and staves, seize a goodly portion of the merchant's possessions. The merchant did not consent in his heart, but for the sake of his wife and children, he did not resist in his actions.
While allowing for the possibility that the necessary distinction came before the excerpted portion, it is necessary to observe it is not contained within this passage. By way of explanation, here is the comment I left on Perry's blog:
"Ye have no authority, for one cannot give authority unto oneself."
And here, at the very beginning, the merchant has lost the argument.
If, as the merchant asserted, a collection of individuals calling themselves a government cannot give themselves authority then how can a single individual do so? He means, of course, authority over the lives of others but by failing to make that distinction he diminishes his right to authority over his own life. In essence it constitutes "giving" his right to others rather than himself. And he's doing it voluntarily! Through an incomplete epistemology.
But that right exists nonetheless, and it derives from man's mere existence as a volitional being. If he abandons that right he is no longer fully human and instead becomes an animal.
Free men must choose to act as individuals in voluntary self-interested cooperation or as a primative lynch mob by rule of the jungle. There is no middle ground here. (Although by variously choosing to be a man or an animal at different times and for different purposes many men attempt to find "balance" between individual and group rights. No such balance exists, in reality.)
Thomas Jefferson wrote a declaration to do the former and lesser men who succeeded him have done their best to undo it through constitutional amendment and every other subordinate form of law. I believe we will see in our lifetime whether Americans wish to live like Jefferson or like the subjects of every civilization which preceeded Americans.'
Blog sister Dagny hits one of my favorite topics in a comment below: all government power is enforced at the point of the gun. I almost posted this video last week because Drew Carey does such a good job with that. If you sell fries with trans-fats, you get a fine; don't pay the fine, you get a summons; don't show up for the summons, they'll come get you. No matter how small the infraction, it is always enforced at gunpoint. Take it away, big man:
The "Let Them Eat Cake" blog category was started long before we had met Nicolas Sarkozy (or Carla Bruni) and was put in place to collect all our bashing of France. I come once more to praise her.
I admitted that I enjoyed watching the Tour for the excitement of sport, the beauty of the French countryside, and the preternatural athleticism of the riders. This all holds. But I am going to add that Le Tour de France represents classical liberal economics and individualist values better than any other sport.
I say this because it captures the hybrid of team and individual dynamics of the real world. Typical team sports blend individual and team achievement in a good way, it's healthy for young boys and girls and I have no objection. In cycling, though, you end up working with other teams when your interests match.
This happens all the time without any forethought between individuals, individuals and teams, or among multiple teams. Stages three and five were dominated by breakaways: in the first kilometer of Stage 3, four riders broke off the front on a very long stage. "Again, Bullwinkle? That trick never works" sneered the peloton in their smug little European accents. "The four of you cannot possibly sustain the power that the 174 of us can. When we feel like it, we will flex our collective muscle and bring you back. Mon Dieu, and all that..."
Only they did not. The audacious four held on and Samuel Dumoulin crossed the line first, followed by America's Will Frischkorn, Frenchman Romain Feillu and Italy's Paolo Longo. Their breakaway held for almost the entire 208km course. These guys are not on the same team, but they created an ad hoc partnership that garnered them glory and time (Feillu got the yellow jersey). Stage 5 was the opposite. The peloton allowed an early break to stay just out front, with multiple teams keeping the peloton close enough to snap it away in the last 300m.
Sometimes a team's second best sprinter may try to play off another team while his team sets up their star. This sounds an awful lot like business to me. You partner with a competitor to achieve a certain goal, go outside your team to achieve an individual goal, or even team up with a rival to smash somebody else.
All riders use the power of the group to advance their individual goals. Adam Smith would be proud (though he might wonder about those Lycra® shorts).
This time, it's the Straight Talk Express -- and my favorite politician in the world hanging on to the driveshaft.
I thought I could ignore it until Friday at 7:00, and then put out a short post like a Clinton Press Release. But the 'net is getting antsy and accountability has been demanded: someone writes to Jonah Goldberg:
Anyway, the Corner's silence on yesterday's Phil Gramm remarks is
deafening. Here it is 24 hours into a pretty-decent sized story (I
don't know how you sign into AOL mail, but I saw it listed as one of
the top news stories when I signed in through the web), and not even
one comment on his "whiner" remarks? I expected at least a Larry
Kudlow defense or something.
Don't wait for Larry to step up, unless it is on Gramm's side -- he was pretty clear on his show last night that he agrees with Senator Gramm.
Goldberg nails it:
Anyway, this is just another example of why I've always wanted Phil Gramm to be president of the United States and why that can never, ever, happen.
Because it's a peeve of mine, my ears always seem to be catching people talking about how much we need straight talkers in this country who won't cave to their handlers, won't spin, won't poll-test their views. And yet, whenever somebody speaks honestly, down comes the thunder.
UPDATE: In Who's Right, McCain or Gramm? James Pethokoukis worries that the political rush to "fix" the economy will lead us into European economic models -- how's that working out for you, Sven? Pierre? Helmut? A British economics professor is quoted:
Paul Krugman once observed that 3% per year is about as good as it gets for GDP growth in advanced economies. While the United States has achieved this since 1995, the EU15 have fallen well short—averaging only 2.3%. The real European problem is in sluggish labour productivity growth—over the same period it averaged 1.4% per year compared with 2.1% in the United States—so that Europe has been falling behind rather than catching up during the last decade, in contrast with the whole of the post-war period until the mid-1990s
It's just like E! Network around here (I'm typing this in some very short shorts).
Seriously, I hawked Phelim McAleer's documentary "Mine Your Own Business" several times. You should buy the DVD. Today, I get news that he has a new film in the works and it sounds like it's right up the street of your average ThreeSourcer: "Not Evil Just Wrong - The true cost of Global Warming hysteria." Browse around the website a little to see a trailer, a creepy picture of a former VPOTUS, and how you can help bring the film to a cinema near you.
Thanks for tuning in -- after the commercial we're talking Counter Insurgency (COIN) tactics with General David Petraeus and Jewell. Jewell's new CD will hit the stores next Thursday...
Transcribed by yours truly from live coverage of this morning's address to a "women for Obama" fundraiser in New York:
"The Democratic party is a family. You know, sometimes a dysfunctional family, but it's a family. (laughter)
And we care about what's going to happen to the economy and healthcare and education. What's gonna happen in Iraq and Afghanistan and our young men and women in uniform. What's gonna happen with our energy policy and whether we ever take on climate change in a meaningful way.
We know that all of these concerns are ones that, you know, we get up in the morning with. We worry about. We go to bed at night still wondering ... will we ever start acting like Americans again.
Will we roll up our sleeves collectively and start tackling these problems. There is nothing beyond us once we make up our minds that this is the work we will do. And that work cannot be done if we do not have a Democratic president in the White House next year."
And some people wonder why there seem to be "two Americas." Once we, she says, the Democratic party, make up our minds that this is the work we will do, there's nothing beyond us - as long as the president is one of us, that is.
But since I don't want to work collectively - toward a leftist fantasy in energy, healthcare, education, national defense or anything else - this is a clear warning to me to do anything I can to prevent a Democrat president from taking office. Even if that means voting for McCain.
Way back in January 2007 some good folks at the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) published the chart below along with an explanation that proposes a "Cubic Mile of Oil" as a new unit of measurement for the vastness of world energy consumption - along the lines of the light-year for measurement of distances in space. I find it more enlightening to use it as a measure of "alternative" energy sources:
One commercial wind turbine equals 0.000 000 61 CMO
One residential solar panel equals 0.000 000 000 22 CMO
Before you say, "Wow, a cubic mile of oil must be a tremendously vast amount" consider this:
1 cubic mile of oil would cover the entire state of Pennsylvania to a staggering depth of: 1-3/8 inches.
The truth of the matter is that oil is an incredibly high-energy fuel.One gallon of gasoline has the same energy as 63 sticks of dynamite. An average lightning bolt, comprising 500 megajoules of energy, equates to just 3.8 gallons of gasoline. (Think about that the next time you talk on your cell phone while filling your tank!)
Click "continue reading" to read the comment I posted to the IEEE article. It's still being vetted by the webmaster.
I'm a little late to this conversation (and am amazed there's only 1 comment after all this time) but Mr. Rogers' comment compels me to add one of my own.
When I first learned of this article yesterday I found it a brilliant distillation of an immense subject - annual worldwide energy consumption - into terms that could be easily grasped and compared. A "cubic mile" of crude oil is far easier to visualize than is 26.2 billion (or is it million in the UK?) barrels.
More important is the comparision of the energy content of that fuel to various other sources. One finds that the lowly cubic mile of crude is quite potent - equalling fifty years worth of energy from a staggering collection of "alternative" energy sources.
I'll include a few more equivalents of my own:
A cubic mile of gasoline (one of the lowest energy components of crude oil) equates to 34,676 megatons of high explosive.
The largest fusion bomb ever detonated on earth (by the Soviets) was 50 megatons. A cubic mile of gasoline contains the same energy as 693.5 such bombs.
A single gallon of gasoline contains 131.76 megajoules of energy, compared to 2.1 megajoules in a stick of dynamite. 1 gallon of gas therefore equals 63 sticks of dynamite.
An average lightning bolt releases 500 megajoules, or 3.8 gallons of gasoline energy.
Crude oil truly is a "miracle fuel" and the alternative energy alchemists who try to replace it with air, sun or water will continue to require government subsidies to even begin to compete.
Among independents, only 3% approve of Congress. That’s within the margin of error, which means there is a chance no independent approves. -- Don Surber in a post highlighting Congress's 9% Approval/52% Disapproval.
Great bit from the esteemed political philosopher, Emily Dickenson:
The surgeon must be very careful,
When to use the knife.
For underneath his fine incision,
Lays the culprit, life.
(From memory, so don't complain if I missed a comma or something)
Fed plans new rules to protect future homebuyers When I read the headline, a shiver went down to my feet in sort of a reverse Obama-Matthews. Reading the story did not make it go away. Broad new powers for the Fed (expanding our services because we rock so much at our other tasks) to regulate home loans.
Under the proposal unveiled last December, the rules would restrict lenders from penalizing risky borrowers who pay loans off early, require lenders to make sure these borrowers set aside money to pay for taxes and insurance and bar lenders from making loans without proof of a borrower's income. It also would prohibit lenders from engaging in a pattern or practice of lending without considering a borrower's ability to repay a home loan from sources other than the home's value.
Government comes up with some hare-brained ideas now and then but I think this one will indeed work. If you make it too expensive or perhaps impossible to get a loan, that should inhibit defaults.
Mortgage crisis solved! I knew getting a Princeton Man in would be a good idea!
Don't blame speculators for the food crisis: It was already here when they arrived. Rather thank them for a wake-up call. Financial markets are driving today's prices to match expectations of tomorrow's values – the consensus of countless investors and producers is that the era of surpluses and cheap food is over. Yet even a credible promise that G-8 protectionist policies will be reversed would raise output down the road and drop prices at the corner grocery counter overnight. -- AEI's Adam Lerrick, explaining that subsidies, not free markets, cause a misallocation of food.
I love all things American and can be almost as much of a sports jingoist as James "Metric Football" Taranto. In all my time in the UK and Ireland, I never developed a taste for soccer. To be honest, the Olympics remind me too much of the UN for me to enjoy any but a few of my favorite events.
Enough Ugly American cred for you? Good.
The Tour de France is one of the great sporting events. They don't always speak 'merican real good, and they have funny names -- but this is well worth watching. I was an avid, compulsive cyclist before I had MS. I had a couple of 10,000 mile years, I went with no car for most of a year, and I was in the mountains every warm weekend (usually bleeding in the dirt).
I have the build of a blocking tight-end and not a bike racer, and I lacked the athleticism to be good, but I made up for my deficiencies in enthusiasm. More a mountain-bike guy, I nevertheless tried to follow the tour. And it was almost impossible, you could read about it in a magazine, but there was almost nothing on television and VP Gore's Internet was not up to video specs yet.
This year, the cable channel Versus (home of the Stanley Cup as well) is providing incredible coverage. I don't know that they will do every stage, but so far they have complete live coverage of each stage, commentary, interviews -- it's an incredible production.
The race is great this year as well. No time bonuses, and no prolog time trials have really opened it up -- the yellow jersey was available to about any rider on the first stage. All the finishes have been mind bogglingly exciting. It's July: hockey's done, football hasn't started and baseball is in the soft middle. Enjoy the French countryside and incredible athleticism of these premier athletes.
Keep the volume down, and if anybody asks, tell 'em you're cleaning your guns...
We have not talked much about Rep. Barr's candidacy. I don't think we have a lot of LP folk, but I am curious how many agree with Samizdat Dale Amon:
Bob Barr is looking more and more to have been an excellent choice to carry our banner this year. He is getting the sort of serious media coverage we have only dreamed of despite us working towards it for decades. Ron Paul's run for the Republican ticket earlier this year has probably had a great deal to do with it.
I'm a long time fan of Amon, but I left a (n overly snarky) comment that I don't see Rep. Barr as the great libertarian savior. He is neither dynamic nor charismatic -- and his message of purity seems to be undercut by his very un-libertarian career in the House.
Distillers are expanding their bourbon production and storage and dispatching sales teams around the world, bullish for a traditionally Southern beverage gaining popularity worldwide. Surging exports, the weak U.S. dollar and rising popularity among younger Americans are driving the boom.
I wondered whether my mad lefty brother was getting a little upset with Senator Obama as he tacked to the right. He's not angry enough to be a Kos kid, but he is true believer in collectivism.
Well another email thread pried out the truth. He applauds the Junior Senator from Illinois for his (wait for it...) "nuance."
I don't want to beat up my brother here, but the reviews are rolling in, and they're not too good. It seems all those mad right wingers: Mark Halperin, Ted Koppel, George Stephanopoulos, Mara Liasson, and Juan Williams were all critical. Here's Juan Williams:
My sense is, though, along the lines of the Wall Street Journal editorial this week that said who would have guessed that Barack Obama is legitimizing George Bush’s — and the whole notion of George Bush’s position on Iraq, and the whole notion of a third term for Bush, because he’s picked up not just on Iraq, but on things like faith- based initiative, even on the abortion question, which I — it was befuddling to me. He says suddenly, you know, mental distress is not a basis for a woman to have an abortion. I mean, that’s going to outrage people on the left. So what it seems to me is you could say on Iraq it’s a matter of emphasis. All along he has said he would take into consideration the position of the commanders in the field. But the heart and soul — I mean, the heart of his campaign has been to say, “This is an unpopular war. It’s a war that was ill- conceived. We never should have gone in there. We have put too much money in there. We have spent too much of our precious blood there.” And suddenly he’s saying, “No, no, you know what? I’m going to refine my position.”
I watched Williams make that statement on FOX News Sunday yesterday. I was struck by the fact that four, fairly bright pundits (Fred Barnes, Mara Liasson, Bill Kristol, Juan Williams) who do this for a living -- none of the four had any idea what direction a President Obama would take. Liasson quotes Paul Krugman:
I mean, Paul Krugman, who’s a liberal columnist, wrote this week, “Gee, is he a centrist just masquerading as someone who’s a transformational progressive figure or is he really the opposite?” You know, people just don’t know. He’s a blank slate.
The last major remnant of Saddam Hussein's nuclear program — a huge stockpile of concentrated natural uranium — reached a Canadian port Saturday to complete a secret U.S. operation that included a two-week airlift from Baghdad and a ship voyage crossing two oceans.
The removal of 550 metric tons of "yellowcake" — the seed material for higher-grade nuclear enrichment — was a significant step toward closing the books on Saddam's nuclear legacy. It also brought relief to U.S. and Iraqi authorities who had worried the cache would reach insurgents or smugglers crossing to Iran to aid its nuclear ambitions.
This is not the yellowcake you've been looking for.
I have to play catch up from before the move, so I will do what Larry Kudlow calls a "lightning round:"
Liberal Fascism, by Jonah Goldberg. I wanted to read this and I read some good reviews. But in the end this book was better than I thought it would be. Goldberg checks his trademark humor at the door, and writes a very serious and important book. He tries bravely to keep it from being a polemic and he is mostly successful. Yet his topic makes it hard to escape. If you haven't read it or much about it, Goldberg aims to:
Define fascism, not just as an insult or dysphemism for "something I don't like." He looks at Mussolini's Italy and, of course, Nazi Germany though he is thorough in separating Hitlerism and Fascism
Look at America's closest brushes with fascism or fascist tactics, through the Progressive Era, Margaret Sanger, New Deal, 1960's radicals and the life work of Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Lastly, tie fascism to the beliefs and tactics of the left. Amusingly, they love to throw the word at their enemies, but from greater State control of industry to organic food -- the shoe seems to fit a little better on the left if ya catch my drift.
I, like other reviewers, sell it a little short by synopsizing. It's a better, more serious, and more informative book than you are expecting. Four stars and change.
Economic Facts and Fallacies, by Thomas Sowell. Holy cow, Sowell is prolific, and I'm gonna agree with everything he says anyway, why give up $17.16?
Well, it's only 15.44 on Kindle® (both of these books were read on Kindle) and Sowell is a deity. You will certainly think of something in a different way (one for me was to consider the different median ages for different ethnic groups. When you consider African-American income statistics against the US population at large, consider that the median black age is five years younger (30) than all (35), with age having a huge factor on income). Even when you say you've heard the story before, Sowell is so lucid and his arguments are so tight, you will be far better prepared to yell at your in-laws at the next family function. Completely non-technical, very accessible, very well done. 3.75 (it would be higher if there were more new material).
Tin Man (DVD). I guess this aired as a miniseries on Sci-Fi Channel. I wanted to rent it from Redbox (it came out on DVD last March), missed it, and ended up accidentally buying it from Redbox (long story, but they sell older DVD's for $7, I had a credit and took a flyer). Merciful Zeus, this is a great film! This is another look at Frank Baum's Wizard of Oz. This one is more modern, a little darker, and a lot more Baum-ier than Judy Garland's with those great Harold Arlen songs.
Don't get your panties in a bunch if you love the original. This is not a remake. It's another look and that is all I'll say. And it is full of little devotions and homages to the 1939 film (the address of the farmhouse is "39"). It is told in three "editions." each of which is film length, so I realize you're making a substantive time commitment. But this is a gem. It is well shot, well acted, a ripping plot-line -- and the breadcrumbs of those little homages keep you alert every minute.
I'm thinking five stars. I can't think of anything not to like -- It's Buffy meets Dorothy!
Megan McArdle is in Aspen, which is almost, sortof in Colorado. You can call me names if you want but I really hate Aspen. Like Boulder, it has its charms, but it lacks Boulder's tenuous tether to actual reality.
She is there at a seminar listening to Thomas Friedman. And he is exhorting us to lead the way to "abundant, cheap, clean, reliable electrons" (my experience with electrons to date has been that they are all four of these things without government interference). Friedman catches McArdle's heart by saying that we don't want a green Manhattan project, that we want to use price signals. But it seems to deteriorate pretty quickly from there:
At this point he sort of goes off the deep end and talks about how great it would be if we could be China for a day--have the government get in, totally reorganize the energy market, and then go forward from there. He bases this on a conversation with Jeff Immelt, who thinks the world would be a better place if this happened.
Where to start? Very few people think that China is succeeding because of its awesome industrial policy--China is succeeding very much in spite of its industrial policy. Indeed, its industrial policy is threatening to drag down important sectors of the economy, like the banking system, which may well cause the whole thing to implode.
Here, friends and neighbors, I will make my stand as a pragmatic man of the right. We all feel the Hamiltonian urge. Now and then, we all want to force something on the public or electorate that they don't know is good for them.
But it has been a province of the left to consistently exercise this. Republicans have, I'd cite Nixon, Theodore Roosevelt, and Hoover, but none is held in great esteem by the party or limited government philosophers. President Reagan perhaps blurred the lines a bit in the Iran-Contra imbroglio, President George W. Bush pushes Executive power a long way past what Madison envisioned in Federalist 10, and used some strong-arm legislative tactics to get Medicare Part D passed in a GOP Congress. But the smaller-government politicians have been pretty philosophically consistent.
Against these exceptions, I look at FDR (with Hoover's man Rex Tugwell), Wilson, Johnson -- and the campaign rhetoric of Senator Barack Obama. Constitutional restrictions on government power are an impediment to remaking the world in their way. They have to be "China for Day" to get their benighted ideas past a foolish electorate.
I have railed as well against the millenarian überright who look forward to rebuilding their ideal libertarian world out the ashes of a post-implosion society, We don't need to be China for a day and we don't need to have the Obama administration bring the whole thing down. We enjoy a modern, functioning, self-directed government. It has great flaws, but it can be changed with vision and ideas -- without leaving the Constitutional structure. Going outside or beyond that structure is what got us here -- it is not the solution.
BAGHDAD – How are you spending your 4th of July holiday? While most Americans probably slept, 1,215 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines raised their right hands and committed to a combined 5,500 years of additional service during the largest reenlistment ceremony in the history of the American military. Beneath a large American flag which dwarfed even the enormous chandelier that Saddam Hussein had built for the Al Faw Palace, members of all services, representing all 50 states took the oath administered by Gen. David Petraeus, Commander of Multi-National Forces Iraq.
Petraeus, reiterating earlier remarks made by Command Sergeant Major Hill, said that the unprecedented ceremony sends a “message to friend and foe alike.” He told those assembled that it is “impossible to calculate the value of what you are giving to our country . . . For no bonus, no matter the size, can adequately compensate you for the contribution each of you makes as a custodian of our nation’s defenses.”
With all the talk about Pigouvian taxation, I thought I would highlight Bryan Caplan's recent thoughts:
I'm not going to say that Pigovianism is inherently totalitarian. But I will say that if intolerant preferences are widespread, then Pigovian thinking justifies totalitarianism. There's no denying it: If most people are horrified by the sight of an unveiled woman, then Pigovian logic requires a massive tax on visible female faces.
We can't all go off to our Fourth celebrations as indivisible, proud Americans, can we?
I wonder if the forces at ThreeSources who are -- shall we say -- less tolerant of illegal immigration than I am -- are you disturbed that Senator McCain is spending the Third in Mexico? Mickey Kaus sure is:
So the Fourth of July newspapers will have John McCain in ... er, Mexico plotting how to achieve comprehensive immigration reform with Felipe Calderon. ... And some people say the McCain Team has a tin ear!
I've heard some good points made around here -- I like the prosperity that they bring to us and am more willing than most around here to shrug off some of the problems. I'll agree that it is complicated, and I will cede that the other side has honest interlocutors.
But Kaus -- whom I admire greatly -- is not one of them. I feel a little sorry for him -- a Democrat yearning for Tancredoism has a tragic side to it.
I would think that one thing we might agree on is that the government of Mexico will continue to be mui importanto to future immigration concerns. I think this episode exposes the flaw in the Kaus theory. Why is the candidate holding talks without preconditions with Calderon? The solution is to be found on the north side of the Rio Grande. It's 14 feet high, has barbed wire on top and a lot of armed people in its shade to ensure its integrity.
Sorry, Mickster, a real solution involves Mexico. To deny that is to expose your thinking as being too small for the problem.
I thought for sure it would be the FDA that would come after me for my blogging, possibly arranging a special clinical trial of crushed razor blades and coffee.
But no, I have run afoul of the Pigou Club. My anti-Pigouvian post of June 26 attracted a smart comment and a link from Mike Moffatt, who writes an economics blog on About.com. Moffatt says "Every decision governments make either implicitly or explicitly make at least one determination about goodness or badness. It is entirely what governments do. Why object to it only in this case?"
A fair point to which I will return. I followed the link to his blog post, An Absurd Anti-Pigouvian Argument Absurd? Pretty strong language from a guy who wears a suit on his blog photo. He excerpts the original (Tim Kane) post and my assent. And continues:
What the author is advocating here is not some limited government libertarian fantasy - he is advocating for anarchy. I will explain with an example:
The example provided is murder. Because I do not support a tax on global warming, I reject the right of government to proscribe murder.
I responded by email (does about.com require membership or registration? the comment link did not work)
I appreciate your comment and link to the ThreeSources blog and am certain that the absurd anti-Pigouvian argument you referenced was Tim Kane's and not mine.
I accept your premise that governments do separate good from bad. I offer that:
a) I would like our government to do less of this. Inviting our 535 benighted betters in Washington additional opportunities to attack global warming, or trans-fats, or wide neckties by relative taxation of various pursuits does not seem wise.
b) I would like to separate the collection of revenue from the good/bad decisions. Revenue is required and decisions of what to regulate and proscribe are also needed. To merge those two functions invites more meddling than I would like.
To take your example of murder, there is clear legislation to proscribe it and punish those convicted. Adding a carbon or trans-fat tax creates a new category of behavior that is permitted but discouraged through taxation. You would be correct in pointing out that there are examples of this. I don't think that makes it right.
Let government enact specific legislation to regulate or ban products or procedures. These can be discussed and the legislators can be held accountable. Do not create a new, soft, method for government to further influence behavior.
UPDATE: I went to my sent box to copy the letter and it appears I sent an unspellchecked and horribly typed version. I'm sure he is now telling Professor Mankiw, "Yeah Greg, these guys are something else..."
Jonah Goldberg says he is likely to be on Kudlow & Company tonight. I can't imagine missing Larry for any reason, but it should be fun to see Goldberg asked about the TED spread.
I'm way behind on Review Corners, but I owe a solid four star review for Goldberg's "Liberal Fascism." I really recommend that you grab that one. Goldberg turns down his humor to write a serious book, but enough trickles through, like "Compassionate Fascism."
I'll do a little more soon -- also the newest Thomas Sowell and a film that absolutely blew me away. But get Jonah's book on order first.
My illustrious Congressman is running for the U.S. Senate. Mark Udall has been a Democratic backbencher and a reliable D vote with a safe seat in CO-2 (Boulder and environs) since 1998. He's "movin' on up" by running for Wayne Allard's seat and one has to think everything is in the Scion's favor in 2008.
I am intrigued because I have seen extensive advertising on the Reason Magazine website and today he has a web ad with video on the (gasp!) WSJ editorial page. I wonder if his GOP opponent, Bob Schaffer, will make as much effort to reach out.
Safe to say Udall will have buckets of money. Colorado remains an inexpensive media market which a George Soros or Rob Reiner can saturate with change from the couch cushions. He can afford to go after these voters. I also question whether he will change any polity, or if it is all marketing. His website trumpets his bipartisanship:
Mark is known for his willingness to elevate the policy debate above partisan politics in order to find workable solutions to difficult political issues. Most recently, he worked across party lines to pass legislation to reduce wildfire risk and bark-beetle infestation in Colorado, and to pass legislation to protect the natural beauty of the Roan Plateau while still allowing some access to the area's mineral wealth.
Yeah, bucking the pro-bark-beetle lobby is a profile in courage! That's change we can believe in.
The Wall Street Journal Ed Page borrows my meme. Their lead editorial opens "We're beginning to understand why Barack Obama keeps protesting so vigorously against the prospect of "George Bush's third term." Maybe he's worried that someone will notice that he's the candidate who's running for it."
This week the great Democratic hope even endorsed spending more money on faith-based charities. Apparently, this core plank of Mr. Bush's "compassionate conservatism" is not the assault on church-state separation that the ACLU and liberals have long claimed. And yesterday, Mr. Obama's campaign unveiled an ad asserting his support for welfare reform that "slashed the rolls by 80 percent." Never mind that Mr. Obama has declared multiple times that he opposed the landmark 1996 welfare reform.
It's okay Paul. It's okay Rupert. I have grabbed a few from you guys over the years. Fair is fair.
The federal government is so poorly staffed to investigate oil speculation and price gouging that its agents might as well be “cops going after criminals with water pistols,” said U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr.
In a meeting Monday with the newspaper's editorial board, the Pennsylvania Democrat called for a national effort to define price gouging and make it illegal.
... because frankly their semi-annual effort has failed.
Oil and gas woes dominated the discussion with the editorial board as Casey cast doubts on what he called shortsighted proposals to expand drilling along the U.S. coastline and in the Alaska wilderness.
“Republicans believe we can drill our way out of this problem,” Casey said. “But only a small percentage of the area available for drilling is now being used.
“It would take about 10 years [to drill in Alaska] and we'd only get about six months' worth of oil out of there,” he said, noting that “those would be a really nice six months.” But, he added, we would lose a chunk of pristine wilderness forever.
Six months worth of oil: Lie. If we got it all out immediately and refined it and sold it our current consumption rates that's "possibly" what it would take. But you cannot drain an oil reservoir that fast (nor would you want to, you need to replace the oil volume removed with water to maintain pressure).
Even the oil volume potentially produced in those six months is not true. You cannot (and the Senate damned sure cannot) forecast advances in oil production and drilling technologies. Oil that was out of reach even 10 years ago is being produced with new techniques. Who's to say what big oil companies or service companies like Halliburton or Schlumberger will develop in the coming years?
Don't bet against ingenuity.
The 10 years of drilling is also a lie. It does not take 10 years to drill a well.
It takes weeks to drill a well... and one rig can only drill one well at a a time. So it might take years to bring more and more wells to production.
But first you must do exploration... which usually amounts to dragging microphones over the surface looking for oil.
We can't even do that.
If we took Senator Casey's (and the Democrat) acreage complaint to heart, it would only lead to more dry holes being drilled. If you do non-invasive exploration and no oil is found, of what use would drilling into nothing be? Of no use.
Once a company determines there's potentially oil under a lease, then they do exploratory drilling.
If they establish there's financially producable amounts of oil beneath a lease, THEN they go into production mode.
In the Alaska oilfields (an area with I have personal experience), if there is a production facility nearby, it's generally a matter of plumbing at that point.
However, all of the existing leases have already been explored and re-explored. All the oil that can be found in those location has been identified.
So when you hear dishonest Democrats saying "they have 80 million acres of leases"... this is true. But not every acre has oil under it!
If oil is discovered, and the nearest processing facility is thirty or forty or fifty miles away, a production facility needs to be built... which means years of environmental permitting and lawsuits.
It's not 10 years, it's more like 5.
If five years is too far out for oil, why should we spending billions or trillions to tackle .4 degrees of global warming in fifty?
"Sure, Senator Obama would raise tax rates to the levels they were in the Clinton years," said [insert Democrat name here] on [insert name of political show here], "but I recall things were pretty good back then." Take that you GOP scallywags! Tax rates were high, but the livin' was easy. Fish jumping. Cotton high.
There are several good ripostes to that statement, but here is one of the best:
As we have been sliding further into dirigisme, the rest of the world has gone supply side. Between onerous regulations and higher tax rates, we are scaring capital out of the world's best capital market -- at the same time technology and trade make it easier.
The chart is from a WSJ Editorial that is well worth a read in full. It discusses the success of a one-year tax holiday on repatriation of foreign profits. The amount proves that tax rates matter and that money moves very quickly.
America's tax laws are repelling capital at the same time the rest of the world is inviting these dollars and the jobs and growth that inevitably follow. House Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel wants to dig the ditch deeper by taxing American companies on their foreign earnings whether or not they bring the money back to the U.S. He thinks this will raise money for the Treasury, but the likelier effect is that more American multinationals will relocate abroad.
I'd certainly like to make my home welcoming and comfortable for money -- couldn't the Congress try that as well?
CHICAGO - Reaching out to evangelical voters, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is announcing plans to expand President Bush's program steering federal social service dollars to religious groups and — in a move sure to cause controversy — support some ability to hire and fire based on faith.
Next week, he'll suggest that "Brownie" is restored to his post at FEMA...