August 31, 2011

Huntsman

Gov Huntsman releases his 12 page plan. What's not to like, ThreeSourcers?

2012 Posted by John Kranz at 6:27 PM | What do you think? [0]

Quote of the Day

Empty optimism, fierce partisanship, bad ideas--come to think of it, that combination worked very well for Obama in 2008. But that year, he was in effect running against a failed incumbent, We suspect he will find it more challenging to run as a failed incumbent.-- (All Hail) James Taranto:


2012 Posted by John Kranz at 5:01 PM | What do you think? [0]

Headline of the Day

Donald Lambro in the Washington Times: Obama jobs plan: Plan on being unemployed

"Jobs creation remains weak, because temporary tax cuts, stimulus spending, large federal deficits, price-raising health-care mandates, and tighter but ineffective business regulations do not address, and indeed exacerbate, the permanent structural problems holding back dynamic growth and jobs creation," writes University of Maryland business economist Peter Morici.

"Until this policy direction is altered, the economy will continue to grow slowly or slip into recession, unemployment will rise, living standards will fall, and American standing in the global economy will decline," Mr. Morici says.

What we’re seeing, he adds, is "an American policy of decline by design."



Tea Partiers for Gibson!

I tweeted @thekudlowreport, suggesting that Larry should do something on the Gibson raid. It seems up his street. He had Ann Coulter on last night and she mentioned it several times. So, I guess it is an official Right Wing Movement now. The Hill

Gibson Guitar uses Twitter to tap into Tea Party anger over federal overreach

Gibson's official Twitter account uses the hashtag "ThisWillNotStand" for posts about the raids, and on its Facebook page, the company promised, "We are fighting this tooth and nail."

"We believe the arrogance of federal power is impacting me personally, our company personally and the employees here in Tennessee, and it’s just plain wrong," said Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz at a press conference last week.

The company accused the Justice Department of "bullying" and "harassment." Juszkiewicz said the raids temporarily shut down the factories, costing the company money.


Ten Ways to Save the World

Insty buries the lede badly today. It is not that people are mocking KSU's "EcoKat" environmental mascot.

Nooooooosir. The story is how mockable EcoKat is:


Even the attempt to rip off Buffy did not sway me. I only increase my mocking.

This would be incredibly clever for a 5th Grade class project. Ten ways to save the world? Don't let the faucet run?

Environment Posted by John Kranz at 1:39 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

Dumkopfs. "One K-State student uses $600/yr. in energy costs." So just find that student and wrap her in spandex and a cape so that everyone will know who to mock.

On your "conserve water" example, they write "Letting a faucet run for 5 minutes uses as much energy as a 60-watt bulb that burns for 14 hours." Perhaps, if it is a HOT WATER faucet.

Why is it that the students who get behind these causes are the ones with no technical knowledge? Coincidence?

Posted by: johngalt at August 31, 2011 3:03 PM
But jk thinks:

Surely you have not forgotten "Cole's Law" used to convert energy to water.

Posted by: jk at August 31, 2011 3:42 PM

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Alternative headline: George Santayana, call your office!

It is bad enough when the historical errors of the 18th and 19th Century are dusted off to destroy a fresh generation, but the first two WSJ Editorials today show that the lessons of the last two decades are forgotten -- even as the ashes of their destruction still smolder (pretty lyrical, huh?)

Editorial #1 hints at a vague sense of deja vu when one discusses the new "Infrastructure Bank."

This is the Fannie Mae model applied to public works. The new bank would be a government-sponsored enterprise, or GSE, whether or not anyone admits it. The bank would have an implicit subsidy for its debt because it is backed by the government. And the debt it issued would be "off-budget," which means it wouldn't show up in annual outlays. When she first proposed the concept in 2008, Connecticut Democrat Rosa DeLauro explicitly described the bank as a "public private partnership like Fannie Mae."

Heh. "Off Budget." Try that on your next IRS Audit. And if Fannie and Freddie are back, we're certainly going to need a new Community Reinvestment Act. Editorial #2 by Mary Kissel shows that the Holder DOJ is not just about giving weapons to drug lords and shutting down guitar manufacturers. There's racism to be fought!
The 1990s may have brought us supercharged politicized lending, but Eric Holder's Department of Justice is taking the game to an entirely new level, and then some. The weapon is a "fair lending" unit created in early 2010, led by special counsel Eric Halperin and overseen by Civil Rights Division head Thomas Perez.

A sampling of Mr. Perez's thinking, from April 2010 congressional testimony: "The foreclosure crisis has touched virtually every community in this country, but it disproportionately touches communities of color, in particular African-Americans and Latinos." And: "[C]ross burnings are the most overt form of discrimination and bigotry. Lending discrimination is some of the most subtle. It's what I call discrimination with a smile."


But nobody is going to be smiling when Perez is finished, you can bet your Spin Doctors CDs on that!

But jk thinks:

At least this time, we won't have zero interest rates...oh, wait...

Posted by: jk at August 31, 2011 12:24 PM

August 30, 2011

For All Those Who Missed Her

Hat-tip: The Blaze

But Terri thinks:

Who are these people of which you speak?

Posted by: Terri at August 31, 2011 8:18 AM
But jk thinks:

I dunno, Terri, the four staffers on her payroll in her office (for whose benefit she requires a microphone) seem to be enjoying themselves.

It's a big Internet and I am all about reaching out.

Posted by: jk at August 31, 2011 11:07 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I hear that goddamn whore and her husband have quite a few coins to rub together, in no small part to her efforts to develop Bay waterfront properties that drive up her husband's real estate holdings. Let them pay first.

Oh, forgive me, "whore" might not be the most apt description. Bitch, certainly.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 1, 2011 12:16 AM

Ninety-Nine Buck Kindle

Buy it through Glenn (He might be buying a private island thanks to my guitar purchase.)

Technology Posted by John Kranz at 4:13 PM | What do you think? [0]

Tweets of da Day

The NRO lads are yukking it up in sub-140 char increments:

Jonah has a superb piece on Banned Books B.S.

"The Tea Party moves to ban books." You have to wade through a lot of throat clearing and irrelevant nonsense, until you get to the relevant nonsense.

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 3:58 PM | What do you think? [0]

6 Reasons for Conservatives to Support Rick Perry in 2012

...note that this column IS NOT an endorsement of Rick Perry. Yes, he'd be a strong candidate, but he's not the only strong candidate in the race, nor is the field necessarily set yet. If, however, Perry does end up getting the nod, that's something conservatives could feel good about. Why?

Townhall's John Hawkins gives 6 reasons, but I'll just repeat this one:

3) Rick Perry is someone you'd like to have a beer with. Political junkies tend to roll their eyes at the old, "Who would you rather go to a ballgame with / have pizza with / have a beer with?" question. After all, shouldn't the election be all about issues? Here's the thing: If you go back for 40 years, at a minimum (Nixon vs. McGovern is a little hard to call) the most likable candidate has won every single presidential election.

The good news on that front for the GOP is that the snobbish, emotionally stunted, I-blame-everybody-but-me, lecturing Barack Obama of 2012 is a lot less likable than the hopey, changey, I-am-whoever-you-want-me-to-be Obama of 2008. Rick Perry is well positioned to take advantage of that. Unlike his fellow Texan George Bush, he has charisma.

2012 Posted by JohnGalt at 2:57 PM | What do you think? [3]
But jk thinks:

Eyes rolling. I'm warming to Gov. Perry but do not see him on the positive end of the Texas Governor Charisma Challenge against George W. Bush.

Posted by: jk at August 30, 2011 3:53 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I chose that excerpt more for what he wrote about Obama. But the comparison with GW Bush is irrelevant. Let's compare Perry with Romney. I cringed listening to the latter repeatedly mis-read his TelePrompTer at the VFW gathering yesterday. And his delivery on the subject of national defense worldviews sounded like he knew it was supposed to be heartfelt, while Perry's sounded like it actually was.

Has Romney had spinal surgery? Why is he so stiff?

Posted by: johngalt at August 31, 2011 3:07 PM
But jk thinks:

Spine? Romney? The jokes write themselves.

We jest but I am pretty seriously concerned about the public perception of Gov. Perry -- and I don't know that charismatic will be the first word.

Just because Karl Rove took Perry's aide's pencil box in third grade and the camps have feuded ever since does not mean that Perry == Bush will not sell to an uniformed electorate. I read today that 51% still blame the economy of President W. Gov Perry shares his accent, swagger, smirk, and penchant for malapropisms.

Harsh-ass calculus, but I pitched a superior candidate, Gov. Jeb Bush, for the same reason.

Posted by: jk at August 31, 2011 3:49 PM

Bill Gates Jr. on Home Solar PV: "cool" and "cute"

It struck me as possible choir-preaching but since even my darling dagny, who's lived with my rantings for nearly a decade now, still needed to ask, "Do we want to put solar panels on our new house?"

To be fair her goal is self-sufficiency and not being "with it" or reducing the euphemistic "carbon footprint." That same morning (yesterday) the talk-radio segue machine came to my rescue with Mike Rosen reading from this interview with Bill Gates Jr.

Anderson: When you look at the big picture, where should we be focusing besides nuclear? On massive solar plants in the desert? On middle-size stuff for office roofs? Or is there a reinvention that could be done right in the home?

Gates: If you’re going for cuteness, the stuff in the home is the place to go. It’s really kind of cool to have solar panels on your roof. But if you’re really interested in the energy problem, it’s those big things in the desert.

(...)

Anderson: Imagine a world where we have made a transition to electric cars, and we have a smart grid, and storage is distributed on some level. Can you imagine that microgeneration would make more sense in a world where we have the ability to use, say, electric car batteries as local storage and have a microgrid model?

Gates: No. We should all grow our own food and do our own waste processing, we really should. But scale has some significant advantages in terms of reliability, and electricity is something you want to be reliable. Also, this is dangerous stuff: For solar to work well, you have to generate very high temperatures. Do we want everybody to have that on their roof? No. It’s just not going to happen.

Anderson: So suffice to say we will find no solar cells on the roof of the Gates residence?

Gates: Oh, we like to be cute like everyone. For rich people, this is OK. Rich people can do whatever they want.

We're not rich. We're going to stick with a diesel generator.

Click continue reading to see what he has to say about batteries and subsidies. I don't always agree with this rich tech genius but in this case, he's right.

You have to think of two types of batteries. One is a battery for a car, and it has to be light and crash-proof, but the total amount of energy it has to store is not all that large. Now, that doesn’t give you an environmental benefit unless your grid has somehow changed. But at least it gives you a security benefit, because you’re sourcing your coal for your grid locally. The harder battery problem is the second type—the grid battery. If you’re getting, say, 50 percent of your energy from solar, and the sun only shines during the day, then you have to be storing enough energy for the night. And that is a mind-blowing problem. I mean, that’s more demanding by a factor of a hundred than any other battery challenge we have today.

I think people deeply underestimate what a huge problem this day-night issue is if you’re trying to design an energy system involving solar technology that’s more than just a hobby. You know, the sun shines during the day, and people turn their air conditioners on during the day, so you can catch some of that peaking load, particularly if you get enough subsidies. It’s cute, you know, it’s nice. But the economics are so, so far from making sense. And yet that’s where subsidies are going now. We’re putting 90 percent of the subsidies in deployment—this is true in Europe and the United States—not in R&D. And so unfortunately you get technologies that, no matter how much of them you buy, there’s no path to being economical. You need fundamental breakthroughs, which come more out of basic research.


But jk thinks:

The other entity on this planet with money confers:

Beijing appears to be rethinking its singular focus on electric vehicles as a way to reduce fuel consumption and seems ready to revise its alternative-energy vehicle estimates as it becomes increasingly evident that the city's electric vehicle targets were completely unrealistic.

Posted by: jk at August 30, 2011 4:09 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Grow our own food? Sure, for the same reason I write my own operating systems and build my own PC hardware.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 1, 2011 12:18 AM

Huntsman, the Non-Moderate

Blog friend EE sends his favorite one-time Huntsman supporter (I have no permission to use that label, but audaces fortuna juvat!) a link to an interesting, comprehensive, and positive look at the candidate. His father's firm invented the clamshell foam packaging found around one's Big Mac.

I got a kick out of:

Huntsman Jr. had a rebellious phase. He dropped out of high school to focus on his progressive-rock band, Wizard. Ask him about those days and he slips into semi-seriousness. He describes Emerson Lake and Palmer, Yes, and Genesis as "highly impactful in terms of [his] view of the music world." And he jokes that the '80s were a mostly "lost decade" in terms of music when explaining his fondness for '90s acts like the Foo Fighters and Ben Folds Five.

As he is my age, genres suggest his rebellious phase was much later in life than mine (I still call it a music career, but I ain't running for anything).

The thesis of Michael Brendan Dougherty's piece in The American Conservative is that Huntsman "speaks like a diplomat, but he's no moderate." Admitting the tea party desire for absolutism might not match with the nuanced diplomat, Dougherty suggests a different look:

Huntsman may be uncomfortable in the ideological sweathouse that is the conservative movement. He may be diplomatic when the right is dyspeptic. But his candidacy offers conservatives two very tantalizing possibilities: a break with the Bush legacy on foreign policy and the chance to move their policy prescriptions off the Tea Party's placards and into the center of our political debate. Huntsman's record shows that conservative politics can triumph not just through conflict but also by concord.
[...]
Huntsman has reason to think his record compares favorably with those of his rivals. Unlike Romney, Huntsman's state healthcare reform achieved more insurance coverage for residents without resorting to an individual mandate. Huntsman has never argued that he was more pro-choice than Ted Kennedy, as Romney did in his 1994 Senate race. And while Rick Perry's Texas has 38 percent of all new American jobs created during the anemic recovery, the unemployment rate in Lone Star State has actually gone up. Because so many of the new jobs are low-wage, Texas's debt has actually doubled under Perry. Huntsman's Utah attracted larger companies and higher-paying jobs that helped the state recover from the recession more quickly than almost any other. The suspected RINO Huntsman passed Utah's largest ever tax cut. Perry, who is casting himself as the beau ideal of the right, voted for Texas's largest ever tax hike in the 1980s when he was an elected Democrat.

We still must contend with global warming and the importune Gov. Howard Dean endorsement, but there is quite a bit to like in this article.

UPDATE: MSNBC moves to counter the endorsement: "We don't want Huntsman!"

SIDE NOTE: Huntsman has the most attractive and modern website I have seen since Senator Obama's.

2012 Posted by John Kranz at 2:26 PM | What do you think? [3]
But EE thinks:

I thought that you would enjoy it. Of course, the odds of him winning the nomination are about as close as mine and I don't even meet the age requirement yet.

Posted by: EE at August 31, 2011 9:50 AM
But jk thinks:

I am prepared to reconsider. Upon reflection his other positions seem more important than Global Warming. And if you win, I'd like to be Fed Chairman.

Posted by: jk at August 31, 2011 11:18 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Heh. Who wouldn't? America's only legal counterfeiter!

Posted by: johngalt at August 31, 2011 3:09 PM

Wow.

Major Garrett @MajoratNJ says he is "scandalously late to the party," but he beat me:

Music Posted by John Kranz at 12:58 PM | What do you think? [0]

August 29, 2011

Funniest thing ever on the Internet

Some informative text on the writings of Hayek and his running battle with Lord Keynes.

Illustrated less dismally than some.

Hat-tip: Instapundit

But johngalt thinks:

"Hey dear, what are you reading?"
"Oh, just a little essay on monetary policy and government induced boom/bust economic cycles."
"Yeah, sure you are."


Our Anna Nicole Smith Photos idea was obviously not original.

Posted by: johngalt at August 30, 2011 12:21 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Heh.

"but monetary factors alone are not enough to explain the fullness of the bust."

Posted by: johngalt at August 30, 2011 12:32 AM
But jk thinks:

I spoiled the joke for the rest of you. Insty linked and it was something about Hayek. Yadda yadda. I do not know the young lady. The first picture seems a little large for a profile pic or illustrative photo. But, whatever, it's about Hayek, right?

The second picture is a bit more coquettish and one starts asking "who is that young lady and what has she to do with the story?"

By the third or fourth, I did get the "what are you reading?" inquisition. Some facets of human life are truly universal. "Hayek, dear. FA Hayek."

Posted by: jk at August 30, 2011 10:39 AM

GREAT NEWS!!!

The austerity message has really gotten through. The USPS is reducing the amount of money paid to workers to do nothing.

The U.S. Postal Service, expecting about $9 billion in losses this year amid slumping mail volume, is still paying thousands of its workers millions of dollars each year to do nothing.

But it's paying tens of millions of dollars less for "standby time" than it did just two years ago, according to a new report.

Long-standing labor agreements with two major postal unions prohibit the Postal Service from laying off or reassigning workers because of broken equipment or periods of low mail volume. Instead, idled employees show up for work, sit in a break room or cafeteria and do nothing.


It's like Ron Paul has already been inaugurated or something. Tens of millions less!

Government Posted by John Kranz at 4:16 PM | What do you think? [0]

Quote of the Day

So far, he has blamed the stagnant economy on ATMs, ditches, Slurpees, corporate-jet owners, the Tea Party, Republicans, Japan's earthquake, the Arab Spring, the Arab Summer, George Bush, and "fat-cat" Wall Street something-or-others. The kitchen sink may be next.-- Salena Zito

Justice Clarence Thomas as "Frodo."

I don't think I'd cast it that way.

But blog friend Sugarchuck sends a follow-up link to the New Yorker piece by Jeffry Toobin we discussed last week. Walter Russell Mead also notices the shift in tone:

Jeffrey Toobin is announcing to the liberal world that Clarence Thomas has morphed from a comic figure of fun to a determined super-villain who might reverse seventy years of liberal dominance of the federal bench and turn the clock back to 1930 if not 1789.

Mead, however, -- and using very peculiar Tolkien references -- suggests that Virginia and Clarence are poised to bring down the entire progressive empire (Sauron) by returning the Tenth Amendment to prominence as the Roberts Court was able to do for the Second.
If gun control and ObamaCare were the only issues at stake in the constitutional debate, liberals would find Thomas annoying but not dangerous. Losing on gun control and health care frustrate and annoy the center left, but those are only two items on a long list of liberal concerns.

The real problem will come if Thomas can figure out how to get the Tenth Amendment back into constitutional thought in a serious way. The Second Amendment was a constitutional landmine for the left; the Tenth is a nuclear bomb.

Mead may be missing or underplaying the move to discredit Justice Thomas in advance of certiorari for challenges to ObamaCare. I think sc shares that view, and I share his that the hobbit stuff seems overwrought. But all ThreeSourcers will enjoy this one in full.

SCOTUS Posted by John Kranz at 1:51 PM | What do you think? [4]
But johngalt thinks:

Huzzah. If Thomas keeps this up we may need to erect another statue one day.

So, Roberts has resurrected the Second Amendment, Thomas is resurrecting the Tenth, now we need to find a sitting justice to champion the Fifth. Paging Mister Alito.

Posted by: johngalt at August 29, 2011 2:23 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Even more seriously, I hope Justice Thomas is taking every precaution in his personal security. It seems that his moral crusade threatens at least as many at least as much as did Dr. King's.

Posted by: johngalt at August 29, 2011 2:30 PM
But jk thinks:

I may be permanently banned from 3src for saying this, but the one you seek is Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Strange bedfellows, indeed...

Posted by: jk at August 29, 2011 3:29 PM
But jk thinks:

And I think Thomas deserves the props for the Second Amendment. The foundation of his concurrence in McDonald did not attract a bevy of Justices to retry The Slaughterhouse cases, but it had to have had a stabilizing effect on the plurality.

Posted by: jk at August 29, 2011 4:12 PM

99 cents of debased fiat currency

I do love e-readers. I won't bore you again with the reasons.

Yesterday, I hit my Kindle's "suggestion for you" and it hooked this brother up with a collection of Bastiat essays with a foreword by FA Hayek: The Economics of Freedom: What Your Professors Won't Tell You, Selected Works of Frederic Bastiat, for the princely sum of 0.99. The ones I had seen are worth reading again, and there are quite a few I had not seen (unseen?) or forgotten. In "Credit," our favorite 19th Century French philosopher/economist predicts and debunks Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

This much being granted, what good can credit institutions do? They can make it easier for borrowers and lenders to find one another and reach an understanding. But what they cannot do is to increase instantaneously the total number of objects borrowed and lent.

However, the credit organizations would have to do just this in order for the end of the social reformers to be attained, since these gentlemen aspire to nothing less than to give plows, houses, tools, provisions, and raw materials to everyone who wants them. And how do they imagine they will do this? By giving to loans the guarantee of the state.


Bastiat describes two farmers, James & John, both of whom would like to borrow the only plow in France.
John, with his honesty, his property, and his good name, offers guarantees. One believes in him; he has credit. James does not inspire confidence or at any rate seems less reliable. Naturally, Peter lends his plow to John. But now, under socialist inspiration, the state intervenes and says to Peter: "Lend your plow to James. We will guarantee you reimbursement, and this guarantee is worth more than John's, for he is the only one responsible for himself, and we, though it is true we have nothing, dispose of the wealth of all the taxpayers; if necessary, we will pay back the principal and the interest with their money."

Is it just me, or is this story sounding somehow familiar?
In a given country and at a given time, there is only a certain sum of available capital, and it is all placed somewhere. By guaranteeing insolvent debtors, the state can certainly increase the number of borrowers, raise the rate of interest (all at the expense of the taxpayer), but it cannot increase the number of lenders and the total value of the loans.

If the President has a Kindle, I would happily cough up 99 cents to buy this for him. There are quite a few good lessons in it.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 10:49 AM | What do you think? [1]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

You'll never get the preznit to read it unless you spoof the title to something like, "How to Take Your Mulligan on the Putting Green and Still Win the Calcutta."

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 29, 2011 11:38 AM

August 27, 2011

A short post on music

My talent in music is limited to playing CDs (and LPs, if I ever get into a place big enough to set up a real stereo), but I had a thought to share. KBCO introduced me to Mumford & Sons playing "Roll Away Your Stone." Utube etched it in and allowed me to revel in some truly awsome banjo. But then it lessened after 2-3 replays when the badly-cadenced lyrics with sour soulfood spilled all over began to roil the experience. "The Cave" has lyrics that at least don't trip up the tempo, tho' there's still mile-wide loss & pain running through them.

"Darkness is a harsh term" just as the pickin' picks up (@ 1:30) throws me. I'm still trying to figure out if I can really like the song. I certainly can't humm those lyrics, nor can I put the lyrics lousy mood to that music! Seems this song needed a another editorial review... or did I miss something?

UPDATE: jk took the liberty of searching on Bing® and "fixing" the link with a version I found. Please feel free to clobber it if I did not get the right one.

Posted by nanobrewer at 10:55 PM | What do you think? [5]
But johngalt thinks:

So what you're describing is, banjo and blues? Isn't that kinda like The Captain and Tennille singing about drug overdoses. I don't believe I've ever heard a banjo played slowly or mournfully. But I'll give it a go, soon as the link's functional.

Posted by: johngalt at August 28, 2011 10:21 AM
But jk thinks:

I dunno, jg, I always found the Captain & Tennille version of "The Needle and the Spoon" especially haunting...

I'd need to establish context before being overly critical, nb. Comparing this to the techno or hip-hop I'm subjected to when I step outside le Condo d'Amour, this jazz snob finds the acoustic instruments refreshing. And the idea of pushing the genre a bit to include some darker lyrics sounds legit.

To be fair, I only listened twice; I am not yet at your souring point. I don't know that the lyrics are Cole Porter or anything but they did not chase me off.

Posted by: jk at August 28, 2011 11:24 AM
But nanobrewer thinks:

Sorry about the busted link; that vid was certainly taken down. Shucks.

@JG, more than banjos + blues, but the rockinest banjo I've heard in ages (with tune-perfect backup) along with lyrics that are not just tortured, but tortuous. Some are excellent, like "I have filled this void with things unreal/ and all the while my character it steals"

Just the tune sounds like a song that occurs after the healing has begun, whereas the lyrics barely hint at positives, "Darkness ... dominates the things I see". Perhaps it teases that peeve of mine on the destruction of our language, with "that's the way this grace thing works" being the most offensive line.

Perhaps the pain and anguish is still too near to me to allow good feelings about the topic at all? I've not discounted that, but I can still listen to "Kingdom of Rain" and appreciate it for a flawless representation of tortured romance.

It could just be that these kids are young & unpolished, and my little teapot runneth over. It's their first album, right? In general, I'm willing to listen to a lot more from M & S.

Posted by: nanobrewer at August 28, 2011 10:53 PM
But johngalt thinks:

It strikes me as an Irish folk sound, with a lot of angst. The first two songs I listened to had several tempo and fortissimo/pianissimo changes, which I like. The lyrics seem as direct and understandable as, say, Collective Soul or Bob Dylan. Poets are weird that way.

I think you're offended by something besides lyrical cadence or sour soul food. I did detect what seemed like an anti-religion theme. Or maybe it's just me.

"I will hold on hope and I will let you choke upon that noose around your neck. And I find strength in pain and I will change my ways and know my name as its called again." "'Cause I have other things to fill my time, so you take what is yours and I'll take mine, now let me hear the truth which will refresh my broken mind." "So tie me to a post and flog my fears, I can see where (garbled) my tears, despite my thoughts, despite my growing fears." "So come out of the cave walking on your hinds, and see the world hanging upside down, and understand dependence when you know their maker's heart." "So make your siren's call, and sing all you want, I will not fear what you have to say, 'cause I need freedom now, and I need to know how, to live my life as it's meant to be."

They do seem to have quite a following in the UK. From "The Cave."

Posted by: johngalt at August 29, 2011 12:48 AM
But nanobrewer thinks:


That's it! He's so danged lost he reminds me of my Ex! :-) I feel better now, and still like "Roll your Stone" better.

Posted by: nanobrewer at August 31, 2011 11:23 AM

How is jk Like President Obama?

We both have a Les Paul:

The President's is the more expensive Custom model, with finer appointments, binding, higher quality pickups, &c. But I'm quite pleased with the unusual finish of my Flood Anniversary:

Posted by John Kranz at 2:35 PM | What do you think? [10]
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Just to add insult to injury, I seem to recall from the bowling pictures that the SCOAMF is left-handed (nothing wrong with that - I'm also left-handed, though it's the only thing left about me, I suppose). I wonder whether someone at the fundraiser remembered to string that princely guitar for a left-handed player - or even if he has noticed yet.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at August 29, 2011 12:00 PM
But jk thinks:

You play with 'em strung lefty? The lefty guys I knew just gave into convention and played righty.

I don't really picture the President spending a lot of time running scales, man, I really don't think it's a big problem if there are any strings at all.

Posted by: jk at August 29, 2011 12:29 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Oddly, no - I was so ignorant when I was learning how to play that I didn't even know that they could be strung for left-handers and played on the other side. I just learned to play "wrong." It wasn't until I noticed Paul McCartney holding his Hofner to starboard in a picture that I figured out there was another way, and by that time... old dogs, new tricks, some assembly required.

New paradigm: guitar + TelePrompTer = President Karaoke!

Posted by: Keith Arnold at August 29, 2011 12:44 PM
But jk thinks:

I think you did it right. I have encouraged all the young lefties I knew to play a standard right hand, right strung. Your creator endows you with two clubs on the end of your arms that you have to adapt. I never saw the advantage and always thought it must be a drag to not be able to play your friends' guitars and have to purchase from a restricted pool of supply.

Posted by: jk at August 29, 2011 3:36 PM
But Alex thinks:

That's not a Custom, that's a Studio. With a "Rock the Vote" logo on the finish. Customs have block inlays, binding, and the "split diamond" inlay at the headstock.

Posted by: Alex at August 31, 2011 1:36 PM
But jk thinks:

Thanks, Alex, I feel better. I was looking for the binding but thought I had read "Custom."

Posted by: jk at August 31, 2011 2:14 PM

Quote of the Day

Cheap Shot? Yeah, but I like it:

The president's retreat appeared doomed from the start as the stock market dove just before his arrival a week ago at the sprawling, $20 million Blue Heron Farm in the swish Chilmark section of the island paradise. The vacation only got worse as the Congressional Budget Office reported anemic economic growth, fighting erupted in Libya's capital and a rare earthquake centered just south of the White House rocked the East Coast and cracked the Washington Monument -- all while Obama hit the links, the beach and the bike paths. -- Dave Wedge & Chris Cassidy


Arbitrary and Capricious

Words usually associated with federal government bureaucrats, the most recent example being Interior Department harassment of Exxon Mobil in its attempt to go about its business of fueling the world, are sometimes applicable to sports officials. Jim Joyce's blown call at 1st base ending Armando Galarraga's perfect game bid with two outs in the ninth comes to mind. Tonight's outrage in Los Angeles didn't cost a perfect game, but it did cost a talented young Colorado pitcher a chance at his seventh win of the season in arguably the best start of his career.

A first-inning home run by Carlos Gonzales held up as a Rockies 1-0 lead for 6-2/3 innings until, with the bases loaded, Denver's own "Balkin' Bob" Davidson decided to interject his subjective opinion smack into the middle of what had been a spectacular pitchers' duel. "What," Rogers lips said from the mound? "You've got to be kidding me!" For his part the only thing umpire Davidson could tell Rockies manager Jim Tracy was, "He balked. He balked." In numerous replays the television commentators could only speculate that, "He never came set. He never stopped his motion before the pitch." Driving home after the game the radio announcers had a different take. "He paused in his motion when he saw the runner at third moving down the baseline." The balk rule is one of the most complicated in baseball, requiring thirteen different definitions of what constitutes a balk. (Parts a through m of rule 8.05.) Most umpires rarely make the call. Some, like Balkin' Bob, consider themselves "experts" on the rule and use it more liberally. But like the strike zone that "shrinks" on an 0-2 count or balloons when it is 3-0, an objective umpire never calls a balk with a runner on third unless it is an obvious, clear-cut infraction that causes other players and coaches to point and yell. To do so with the bases loaded in a game with a one to nothing score is encroaching on Russian figure-skating judge territory.

Even the official rules seem to acknowledge this. A footnote to rule 8.05 reads:

Comment: Umpires should bear in mind that the purpose of the balk rule is to prevent the pitcher from deliberately deceiving the base runner. If there is doubt in the umpire's mind, the 'intent' of the pitcher should govern.

In the late innings of a masterfully pitched shutout, with two outs and all bases already occupied, Esmil Rogers 'intent' was mistake-free pitching, not deceiving base runners. Bob Davidson knows this. Tonight, Balkin' Bob jumped the shark.

Before this, the game was a carefully played gem. Afterward, with concentration destroyed, nearly every Rockie pitch was grooved right into the hitting zone and dutifully whacked for RBI after painful, almost criminal, RBI. Five runs later the Dodgers smiled and slapped hands after a victory they probably felt they actually had earned. Horseshit.

Footnote: I was tremendously proud of the way Esmil Rogers handled the situation. He threw his glove in the dugout but never yelled, never swore, never lost his self-control. His disgust was clearly evident, however, as he stood at the railing and silently glared directly at the eyes of the offending umpire for the remainder of the contest. He was and is a class act and a role model for atheletes in every sport.

Sports Posted by JohnGalt at 2:01 AM | What do you think? [2]
But jk thinks:

I've never seen a balk.

Granted, I am a young man and do not pretend to be the most avid baseball fan. I've seen several balks called, but I could never watch the replay and see the offense. Arbitrary & Capricious indeed.

Would it not make more sense to deny the fielding team any outs procured with such chicanery rather than awarding bases?

Or make them kick off from the 30?

Posted by: jk at August 28, 2011 11:30 AM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

In early 2009, Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah put the BCS in the crosshairs on the Senate Judiciary Committee - primarily because his Utes, who had an astounding football season, didn't get selected as the BCS champion. Never mind that as much as I hate the BCS, it's none of the Federal guv'mint's damb business.

Which Stentator - er, I mean Senator - will be moved to call for tighter Federal regulation of the balk rule, the designated hitter rule, AstroTurf, and the infield fly rule?

Posted by: Keith Arnold at August 29, 2011 12:41 AM

August 26, 2011

ThreeSources Flash Mob!

Deli Ciosi, Erie. Tonight!

They do an open mic last-Friday-of-month 6:30-9:00. I thought that might be fun.

Posted by John Kranz at 5:21 PM | What do you think? [0]

Dana Loesch Interviews Gibson CEO

UPDATE: YouTube suggest I might also be interested in Debbie Gibson Only In My Dreams MV( Music Video Official) Were I clever, I would trick Brother Keith into clicking a link for this. Something like: the real story of the Gibson Raid.


QOTD II

And don't even get me started on Joe Biden. He could show up at a Russian state funeral in a Speedo and pith helmet, singing the Alvin and the Chipmunks B-sides, and NBC's Andrea Mitchell would lead with the disturbing reports that Sarah Palin quoted Biden inaccurately on her Twitter account. -- Jonah Goldberg

On the Other Hand

It does lead itself to some humor:


UPDATE:

EVERYBODY'S A COMEDIAN:

META:

UPDATE: Blog friend Sugarchuck shares a link: Iowahawk upgrades his funny tweet to a story.

"Usually these guys are armed with Mexican Strats and Squires, Epiphones, small caliber stuff like that," said Pedro Ochoa, 36, an eye witness to the sonic melee. "This time they were packing the heavy firepower."

The steady barrage of power chords and piercing solo attacks attracted the attention of nearby U.S. Border Patrol agents, who arrived at the scene just as Los Zetas broke into Led Zeppelin's 'Immigrant Song.' By the time the dust had cleared, U.S. Border Patrol Agent Oscar Jimenez was found in a catatonic state of headbanging. He was later flown to University of Arizona Hospitals, where his condition is listed as seriously rawked.

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 1:20 PM | What do you think? [2]
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Going after all those guitar makers, while accordionists are allowed to run free in society! Who in government sets these priorities?

Posted by: Keith Arnold at August 26, 2011 7:11 PM
But jk thinks:

Q: You're driving quickly down a narrow street and a duck and a trombone player both step out. You can't stop, you have to choose which one to hit.

A: Hit the 'bone player; the duck may be on his way to a gig.

Posted by: jk at August 26, 2011 7:19 PM

The Real Story of the Dinosaurs

Mises.org reprises a Paul Cantor column from 1998:

It all began in the late Triassic Period, when the government decided to come to the aid of cold-blooded creatures everywhere. Federal authorities were deeply disturbed by the appearance of the first warm-blooded animals, who seemed to have an unfair advantage over their cold-blooded brethren -- they moved faster, were more alert, and generally seemed to get a lot more done, particularly during the winter months.

Concerned by the possibility that warm-blooded animals might end up displacing cold-blooded animals entirely, the government passed the Body Temperature Stabilization Act. Subsidizing cold-blooded animals at the expense of warm-blooded, this bill eliminated all federal taxes on the former and doubled them on the latter. The bill also tried to outlaw winter, but this move was declared unconstitutional by the courts.

Good stuff...

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 12:27 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Brilliantly done. Favorite line:

In the end the policy of the federal government succeeded in producing a remarkable mirror image of itself in the Jurassic dinosaur: a large, sluggish, bloated, overgrown body animated by a brain the size of a pea.

Also worth noting is Cantor's book Literature and the Economics of Liberty: Spontaneous Order in Culture by an Austrian economist turned literature professor.

Posted by: johngalt at August 27, 2011 10:23 AM

Quote of the Day

Via @JazzShaw:

Krauthammer: "Earthquake, hurricane, Obamacare. When does it stop? Seven more and I vote we let the Israelites go."


Shutting Down Gibson

I made jokes about this yesterday, but it is not funny. The Gibson guitar factory has been raided, wood impounded, and they have been told that shipping product will be considered "obstruction of justice."

A lengthy video with the CEO is chilling (sorry I cannot embed). But it is one more business guy who hired 500 people last two years shut down this time because the US Fish and Wildlife service is enforcing Indian trade law. The government still holds wood impounded in a 2009 raid even though there have been no charges (at least Eliot Spitzer would have you on TV).

Unbelievable.

(I just ordered the Flood Anniversary Les Paul -- gotta get 'em while you can...)

UPDATE: Nor should I have laughed at possible personal implications. The WSJ has a nice follow up:

It isn't just Gibson that is sweating. Musicians who play vintage guitars and other instruments made of environmentally protected materials are worried the authorities may be coming for them next.

If you are the lucky owner of a 1920s Martin guitar, it may well be made, in part, of Brazilian rosewood. Cross an international border with an instrument made of that now-restricted wood, and you better have correct and complete documentation proving the age of the instrument. Otherwise, you could lose it to a zealous customs agent--not to mention face fines and prosecution.

John Thomas, a law professor at Quinnipiac University and a blues and ragtime guitarist, says "there's a lot of anxiety, and it's well justified." Once upon a time, he would have taken one of his vintage guitars on his travels. Now, "I don't go out of the country with a wooden guitar."


UPDATE II: A press release: "The Justice department bullies Gibson without filing charges"

But johngalt thinks:

So I was right after all.

I'm trying to think of a silver lining: If this makes some large fraction of hippie guitar players realize that environmental law is not always, automatically, an unalloyed good it could be worth the infringment of liberty.

Posted by: johngalt at August 26, 2011 3:57 PM
But jk thinks:

I daresay you are awfully quick to associate hippies and guitar players...

I feel for the company but it strikes me that this happens a thousand times a day: some poor guy trying to make and sell x gets in a no-win with a bureaucrat. Because it is Gibson, some folks will pay attention.

Whether they connect the dots to liberty or regulation, we'll see. But, yup, it's a really good story.

And I really did order the guitar. I almost bought it yesterday, but it makes zero sense for where I am or what I am doing. After sleeping on the matter, I saw it again. And I had to click. Love is a funny thing that way.

Posted by: jk at August 26, 2011 4:17 PM

Tea Party Can Go Straight to Hell

Those were the celebrated words of California Democrat U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters during a town-hall style meeting in her district last week. Whether premeditated or extemporaneous, the remarks garnered nationwide publicity for the congresswoman. Presumably she meant that taxes are not too high and government spending should be raised rather than lowered, both sentiments contrary to those of TEA Party advocates.

Well, I'm here to help. A bullet-proof counter argument to people like"some folks in the congress who'd rather see their opponents lose than America win" is this chart of inflation-adjusted monthly government spending showing that real spending is trending down, not up, from a 1993 peak (thank you President Clinton).

govtspending-CPI%20adj.png
Reposted from the National Inflation Association.

And that green line for "US Government Spending, monthly, in millions, CPI adjusted, with additional corrections for real inflation" isn't just some fly-by-night San Francisco lawyer's idea of a more equitable inflation index. It's a fly-by-night San Francisco lawyer's computation of CPI as though the method officially used by the U.S. government 25 years ago had continued to present day. [See third bold heading: Special Consumer Inflation Focus, or click continue reading.]

Go ahead Ms. Waters. Publicize this chart. Throw the TEA Party in that there briar patch.

Excerpted from John Williams' Shadow Government Statistics August 2006 Newsletter:

The key is how you define consumer inflation. I operate on the premise that the post-World War II CPI concept of inflation measured based on a fixed-basket of goods -- a measure of the changes in prices related to maintaining a constant standard of living -- was a reasonable, meaningful and useful approach for most consumers (see the CPI background article on the home page{LINK}).

Some years back, then Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan began making public noises about how the CPI overstated inflation. Where the fixed-basket of goods approach would measure the cost of steak, year after year, Mr. Greenspan argued that if steak went up in price, people would buy more hamburger meat, mitigating the increase in their cost of living. The fact that switching the CPI concept to a substitution-based basket of market goods from a fixed-basket violated the original intent, purpose and concept of the CPI, never seemed to be a concern to those in Washington. Artificially reducing reported CPI inflation would have a variety of benefits, beginning with reduction of the budget deficit due to the cutting of cost-of-living adjustments for Social Security payments.

Accordingly, geometric weighting was introduced to the CPI reporting methodology, which had the effect of mimicking a substitution basis. Since the revised CPI still did not show as low an inflation rate as a fully substitution-based index would, Mr. Greenspan began focusing the Fed's inflation targeting and measurement on the inflation rate used to deflate personal consumption expenditure (PCE) in the GDP. Such was a substitution-based measure.

More recently, the BLS introduced the Chained CPI-U (C-CPI-U) as an experimental substitution-based inflation index, which closes follows PCE inflation.

Yet, as oil prices began their current uptrend, substitution-based inflation reporting still was not low enough for the former Fed Chairman, as he began embracing the concept of "core" inflation, inflation net of food and energy price changes. Eliminating bothersome price increases in energy and food products -- such as seen with oil at present -- would make the Fed's job of containing reported inflation all the easier.

In general, if a government economic measure does match common public experience, it has little use outside of academia or the spin-doctoring rooms of the Fed and Wall Street. The two SGS measures included in the above table have gimmicked methodological changes removed from the reporting so as to reflect more accurately the common public experience as embodied by the post-World War II CPI.



August 25, 2011

Quote of the Day

Make no mistake, many states are well positioned to realize the same energy production benefits as North Dakota and Texas. These include, at a minimum, Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia and Wyoming -- each of which has ready access to abundant resources of the same shale oil and shale gas that is fueling economic growth in North Dakota and Texas. Energy production and economic strength in North Dakota and Texas are the results of wise and courageous policy decisions designed to encourage rather than stifle energy production (something that fellow Forbes columnist Joel Kotkin pointed out in his recent piece on Texas). Going forward, the question is which leaders in which states have the political courage to stand up to environmental activist groups and their media allies who routinely vilify energy production? -- James Taylor

Don't Bug Me, I am in a Medical Study!

It's for science!

Posted by John Kranz at 3:17 PM | What do you think? [0]

He. Is. John. Galt.

In Don Luskin's glowingly reviewed "I am John Galt," Luskin and Andrew Greta correlate Rand's fictional characters to some of today's corporeal personalities. I was thinking of the book when I heard the news of Steve Jobs's retirement as CEO of Apple. Jobs was Howard Rourke in the book.

The character I knew least was BB&T's John Allison, who is presented as John Galt.

It's no secret that John Allison, the retired chairman and chief executive of BB&T Corp., is a devotee of author Ayn Rand and the conservative philosophical theory called objectivism.

The theory extols rational individualism, creativity, independent thinking and a limited role for government as a protector of peace. It is most often associated with Rand, who wrote the novels "Atlas Shrugged" and "The Fountainhead" and the nonfiction book "The Virtue of Selfishness."

Allison's passion for objectivism is being felt by a foundation he established called the Moral Foundations of Capitalism, which has provided $1 million-plus gifts to at least 10 universities in North Carolina for programs that typically have had a connection to Rand and objectivism.


Today, Glenn Reynolds interviews Allison for Instavision:

Hoss.

UPDATE: My search led me to Luskin's iamjohngalt.com blog. His speech at Freedom Fest on his book and his appreciation for Rand is a good watch. (I just watched part one, he might extol the virtues of Communism in the next three).

UPDATE II: Part three describes Allison -- must view.

But johngalt thinks:

As Glenn suggests I will repeat: "Capitalism is the only moral [economic] system, because it's the only system consistent with man's fundamental nature as an independent thinking being."

I also agree with Allison that sound money does not require a gold standard, but any kind of objective, unchangable reference will do. The US Dollar needs to be traceable to the NIST Bureau of Standards, accurate to twenty decimal places.

Posted by: johngalt at August 25, 2011 2:46 PM

From My Cold Dead Hands!

This is almost funny even though it appears to be real.

Federal agents are in the process of raiding the offices of the Nashville-based Gibson Guitar Corporation.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents began executing search warrant this morning on guitar factories and corporate headquarters in Nashville and Memphis, according to Nicholas Chavez, special agent in charge with the Fish and Wildlife.

Chavez said the raid included both the corporate headquarters on Park Plus Boulevard and a factory on Elm Hill Pike.


A raid by the US Fish and Wildlife Service -- do they have green Kevlar vests?

Hat-tip: Ed Driscoll via Insty, both of whom have the temerity to suggest that this might scare the next entrepreneur from starting a business in the US -- or at all.

From my cold, dead hands, Mr. President. From my cold, dead, hands.


UPDATE: "The Flood Anniversary" Les Paul: that's purdy!

But johngalt thinks:

When rosewood is outlawed only outlaws will have rosewood.

Posted by: johngalt at August 25, 2011 2:17 PM
But jk thinks:

That's regulated pretty closely. For a full-on raid I was thinking of the bone nuts and saddlepieces. The best ones are made of Iraqi children...

Posted by: jk at August 25, 2011 3:14 PM

August 24, 2011

Monetary Policy -- I Mean Anna Nicole Smith Photos!

Blog Friend The Everyday Economist has a good piece up on Gold prices vis-a-vis inflation.

A number of individuals have claimed that the recent rise in the price of gold is a sign of a coming inflation. However, this doesn't square with the numbers or the gold market. Over the longer term, gold prices have been rising due to the factors of supply and demand. Over the shorter term, the current increase in the price of gold is consistent with deflationary/disinflationary headwinds -- as economic theory predicts.

Increasing demand might support my contrarian monetary policy, yet it may well undermine the fundamentals of my recent wager.

But johngalt thinks:

OK, I've read the EE piece a few times now and considered and rejected more than one contrarian point of view. I'm now ready to attempt careful consideration of one very specific ANNA NICOLE SMITH PHOTO.

EE argues that under a gold standard, which I take to mean 'absent monetary fluctuation' the following occurs:

"An increase in the stock demand for gold causes a corresponding decrease in the demand for consumption goods and the relative price of gold increases (the relative price of consumption goods falls)."

Now this seems to assume the entire market lives hand to mouth and the demand for gold is satisfied through wealth which is earmarked for consumption, rather than from accumulated savings converted from other assets but that is not where I chose to focus. Instead I'll take this at face value and contend that the combined demand for gold and consumption goods reflects an overall price inflation, and that absent the flight to a "safe haven" by "a number of individuals as well as central banks" the price of consumption goods would indeed be going up.

[If you're going to disprove my argument it seems this is where it is vulnerable. Would consumer prices be rising if less money were being sunk into gold?]

In essence, CPI inflation appears to be under control because in addition to food and energy, gold is intentionally ignored in the feedback loop used to set monetary policy. The price of gold goes through the roof as ANNA NICOLE SMITH PHOTOS are debased and economists with their inflation targeting and price indices pay absolutely no attention to the gold inflation (other than to say it isn't an indicator of inflation.) But this inflation is as real as that in any other commodity and even if the other eighty thousand items in the CPI price basket remain constant, hyperinflation in gold can correspond to hyper devaluation of the currency.

Posted by: johngalt at August 25, 2011 3:22 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

You guys keep forgetting to include the link for the photos...

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 25, 2011 4:37 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Quite right. Here's a treasure trove.

We aims to pleeze!

Posted by: johngalt at August 25, 2011 10:29 PM
But EE thinks:

Jg,

I discuss commodity money in more detail here:

http://everydayecon.wordpress.com/2011/01/12/commodity-money-a-primer/

Regarding consumption. If this comes from savings, where does savings come from? Individuals would have to sell financial assets, withdraw deposits, etc. in order to purchase gold. There will still be real effects.

Posted by: EE at August 26, 2011 8:00 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Thank you EE. I look forward to reading.

Yes I understand that converting saved equities to gold or "putting it in the mattress" has an effect on liquidity but isn't the coefficient for the corresponding decrease in demand for consumption goods rather small? After all, borrowers don't get to use savers money for consumption without some cost. Presumably they do so only when their consumption is for profitable (i.e. wealth creating) purposes and will lead to further consumption. The direct consumption from savings is typically deferred into the future, right?

Posted by: johngalt at August 26, 2011 11:26 AM
But EE thinks:

JG,

Sorry for the confusion. I did not mean to imply that the selling of assets or converting some form of savings to gold would reduce consumption. What I meant to imply is that it would reduce spending (whether that be consumption or investment spending). In the post referenced above as well as the link I provided, I abstracted from investment just to make a more simplified case. If I make a withdrawal from the bank and use the proceeds to by gold, it is unlikely to have any impact on consumption and my savings hasn't changed either. However, that withdrawal reduces the reserves of the bank in question and therefore has an impact on funds available to borrow. (Of course, by saying "I", this is really referring to a general flight to liquidity.) Moreover, if the flight to liquidity is driven by selling stocks and moving into gold, this drives stock prices down. This reduces wealth (which does impact consumption) and also reduces the capacity to borrow (lower net worth equals less collateral, this is especially important for individuals and small firms). In any case, we would expect to see a reduction in spending.

If the gold price was a sign of inflation, one would expect it to be positively correlated with bond yields and stock prices. Currently, gold prices have been rising while bond yields have been falling. Either bond traders are collectively ignorant of the coming inflation or this correlation reflects the belief of an economic slowdown and a flight to liquidity.

Posted by: EE at August 26, 2011 12:47 PM

I Think We Can Say The "Risk-Off" Trade is On

Surprised to see this and hope I am reading too much into it:

With gold prices nearing $1,900 and more assets flowing in, the SPDR Gold ETF has become the largest ETF in the world, surpassing the heavily-traded S&P 500 SPDR.

The SPDR Gold ETF [GLD 173.9228 -3.7472 (-2.11%) ] passed the S&P 500 SPDR [SPY 116.22 -0.22 (-0.19%) ] for the first time on Friday. It remained #1 as of yesterday's close with $77.5 billion in assets, about $1 billion more than the S&P 500 SPDR, according to State Street Global Advisors, the marketer of the 2 ETFs.


I'm not going to bet my sizable personal fortune either way. But I have a cold beverage of the winner's choice saying that Aug 24, 2012, a virtual $100 investment in GLD (0.578 shares) will be worth much less than the same in SPY (0.862 shares). Anybody?

But johngalt thinks:

I'll be your (first) huckleberry.

Posted by: johngalt at August 24, 2011 12:49 PM
But jk thinks:

I struck the word "much" because it is hard to adjudicate. If you were counting on that, you may back out.

Posted by: jk at August 24, 2011 1:10 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Nope. I'm still in unless you change the finish line date from 8/24/12 to 8/24/13.

(Hey, you don't like that expensive and unpalatable Belgian ale do you?) ;)

Posted by: johngalt at August 24, 2011 1:58 PM
But jk thinks:

I think I would do better with the later date, but might get thirsty sooner.

A Brazilian Xingu, or an Alaskan Smoke Porter would do if equities prevail.

Posted by: jk at August 24, 2011 2:31 PM

Split Rated

Take it away, Curtis Threadneedle & Merle Hazard:

Hat-tip: Prof. Mankiw


Poponomics

I think I'll take Matt Damonomics. Richard Epstein asks "How Is Warren Buffett Like the Pope?" And the Peter and Kirsten Bedford Senior Fellow and member of the Property Rights, Freedom, and Prosperity Task Force at the Hoover Institution answers: "They are both dead wrong on economic policy."

The Pope was on his way to recession-torn Spain--to lead the Roman Catholic Church's weeklong celebration of World Youth Day--when he denounced those nameless persons who put "profits before people." He told journalists, "The economy cannot be measured by the maximum profit but by the common good. The economy cannot function only with mercantile self-regulation but needs an ethical reason in order to work for man." Standing alone, these words mirror the refrains of countless Spanish socialists, whose relations with the Pope have soured in recent years. Their shared premises help explain why Spain finds itself in such a sorry state.

Epstein follows with a Michael Novak-worthy celebration of the morality of free markets that I think every ThreeSourcer will enjoy.
Structure a system that puts people before profits, and both capital and labor will dry up. The scarcity of private investment capital will force the public sector to first raise and allocate capital and labor, though it has no idea how these resources should be deployed to help the people, writ large. A set of ill-conceived public investments will not provide useful goods and services for consumers (who are, after all, people), nor will it provide sustainable wages for workers (who are also people). Poor investment decisions will lead to a massive constriction in social output that harms all people equally.


August 23, 2011

Ginni Thomas, The Devil

ThreeSources friend Sugarchuck shares a superb link and some thoughtful comments. Sadly, it coincided with a workday better framed for Instapundit-length blog posts. I ended up reading it over the course of a half-day.

Jeffry Toobin in the New Yorker takes a long upper west side look at Justice Clarence Thomas and his wife Virginia in Partners. Stealing sc's ideas without paraphrasing, it is humorous to watch leftist contortions when they inevitably have to shift their denigration of a political enemy from "dunderhead" to "evil genius." With President Bush, they were able to flip back and forth on the same day. But a Supreme Court Justice is different.

Instapundit has previewed an upcoming attack. When legitimate calls for Justice Kagen to recuse herself on ObamaCare® (she was, ahem, Solicitor General and advised and consulted on her then boss's signature issue) are sounded, they will be met with calls for Justice Thomas to recuse because...because...ummm...oh, yeah, because his wife doesn't like the law! She has -- I hope y'all are sitting down -- attended Tea Parties and criticized the direction the President and Congress were taking this nation. Toobin writes:

By the fall of last year, Ginni Thomas's activities had become so public that she began to draw journalistic scrutiny

Wow. That serious.
The implications of Thomas's leadership for the Court, and for the country, are profound. Thomas is probably the most conservative Justice to serve on the Court since the nineteen-thirties. More than virtually any of his colleagues, he has a fully wrought judicial philosophy that, if realized, would transform much of American government and society. Thomas's views both reflect and inspire the Tea Party movement, which his wife has helped lead almost since its inception. The Tea Party is a diffuse operation, and it can be difficult to pin down its stand on any given issue. Still, the Tea Party is unusual among American political movements in its commitment to a specific view of the Constitution--one that accords, with great precision, with Thomas's own approach.

Justice Thomas. Ginny. The Tea Party -- need we even go on?

Yes, it is out with Leader Harry Reid's assertion that Justice Thomas can't spell cat, and in with the evil genius. Else, sc, suggests they will be unable to hang the failure of ObamaCare on him. Still, you have to enjoy the style of The New Yorker:

For all of Thomas's conviction, originalism is just another kind of interpretation, revealing as much about Thomas as about the Constitution.

As this line is revealing about Toobin...
Ginni Thomas's contempt for "élites" also mirrors a theme in Justice Thomas's writings.

Scare quote? Accent acute?

It's well worth a read. I enjoyed it as a reminder of how highly in esteem I hold Justice Thomas, but, pace sc, it is interesting for its social commentary "Tracking the tone on that article was like riding 75 miles of washboard gravel in a VW bug."

SCOTUS Posted by John Kranz at 6:23 PM | What do you think? [0]

Stir it Up!

I've perhaps mentioned, once or twice, that while my ThreeSources friends are perhaps, slightly right-of-center, my Facebook friends are decidedly left. I've acclimated pretty well.

Twitter, however, is rather mixed. I have quite a bit of politics, leaning heavily right, and several entertainers, music stores, and musicians, (dirty hippies all) leaning left.

Buzzing down my feed I was not prepared for "Yes! We need a 30yr plan for a better food system." I assumed it was a joke from some wingnut I follow, but no, it is on the level, RT'ed by Michelle Branch. There are several ideas to combat childhood obesity at the link, but I have to pick one to excerpt, and I choose:

Savor Mealtimes: Emphasizing the importance of mealtimes teaches children to appreciate the value and taste of good food. France, which has one of the lowest rates of childhood obesity in Europe, takes lunch very seriously. School lunches are well funded, and every part of the meal is prepared on school grounds in professional-grade kitchens--a stark contrast to the heat-and-serve kitchens in U.S. schools. Kids from preschool to high school are served four- to five-course meals and are encouraged to take time eating and socializing with friends. At some schools, detailed menus even suggest what parents should serve their children for dinner. Soft drink and snack machines are banned from school premises.

Mon Dieu!

Education Posted by John Kranz at 5:15 PM | What do you think? [0]

But Keith Arnold thinks:

In that case, guys, that floating crap game is on for Friday night.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at August 23, 2011 5:43 PM

S.S. Obama2012 Taking On Water

A brief exchange in a comment thread prompted me to look more closely at presidential polling data. It was noted that 2008 primary candidate Mitt Romney, the current GOP frontrunner, polls ahead of incumbent President Obama by 3 points nationwide among independent voters. (2 points among all voters.) More surprisingly, newcomer Rick Perry nearly equals that status leading the president by 2 points with independents, tied overall. But these are national preference polls and we all know that America doesn't hold a national popular election for president. We use the Electoral College.

Real Clear Politics shows the President with 201 likely electoral votes and "Republican" with 191. The election will be decided in the "toss-up" states: CO (9), FL (29), IA (6), MI (16), NV (6), NH (4), NC (15), OH (18), PA (20), VA (13), WI (10). The biggest of these prizes is Florida and its 29 electoral votes, where the latest polling from Magellan shows:

Florida: Romney vs. Obama Magellan Strategies (R) Romney 49, Obama 39 Romney +10 Florida: Perry vs. Obama Magellan Strategies (R) Obama 39, Perry 46 Perry +7 Florida: Bachmann vs. Obama Magellan Strategies (R) Obama 42, Bachmann 43 Bachmann +1

These numbers reflect a steep downward trend for the president in just the last half of August in polling versus Romney and Perry in the Sunshine State. I suspect Magellan chose to survey Florida as a bellwether for all of the toss-up states. This, and recent events in the toss-up states of Wisconsin and Ohio, suggest the President is in deep trouble.

Consider the internals:

Among all respondents, 37% think Barack Obama deserves re‐election and 57% think he does not deserve re‐election. Among women voters, 55% do not think the President deserves re‐election. Among other key voting subgroups, 55% of independents, 72% of Hispanics, 60% of seniors, and 27% of Democrats think the President does not deserve re‐election. Among voters aged 18 to 29, a vital voter subgroup in Barack Obama's 2008 victory, 38% think Barack Obama deserves re‐election and 50% think he does not deserve re‐election.

The emphasis is mine, as this parenthetical was borrowed from the paragraph on 'image rating' among that demographic. The stampede away from the president is beginning to resemble the stampede toward him when he beat Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Iowa Primary - nobody wants to be last to be "off board."

2012 Posted by JohnGalt at 3:17 PM | What do you think? [0]

Thanks, Howard, You're Really Helping.

[link]

2012 Posted by John Kranz at 12:27 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

Q.E.D.

Posted by: johngalt at August 23, 2011 2:51 PM
But jk thinks:

Methinks you're right.

Posted by: jk at August 23, 2011 2:57 PM

A Few Cheers for Sharanskyism

From a Sharansky-themed blog? Too much to ask?

The WSJ Ed Page proclaims "a victory for freedom and U.S. national interests" (admitting that it is not over).

A dictator with American blood on his hands is about to be overthrown by a popular revolt invoking democratic principles. Not a single American has died in the effort, and the victory would not have been possible without U.S. air power, intelligence and targeting as part of NATO. A long-oppressed people now has a chance to chart a freer future, a fact that is clear from the rejoicing in Benghazi.

What would we prefer: That Gadhafi stay in power?

Rather than wring our hands about the dangers ahead, now is the time to applaud the bravery of the Libyan people and help them build a better country. One way to start would be to respect what the rebels have accomplished and respond to their requests for assistance, rather than trying to dictate how they should act.


Freedom on the march, babies, freedom on the march.


August 22, 2011

Photo of the Century

I had the honor of sharing the area of Downtown Boulder with one of my heroes this weekend. I played a friend's wedding and reception at an art gallery on Spruce while BB King had a show a block over on Pearl Street. I suggested to one of the waitresses that he was welcome to sit in if he happened to show up.

His tour busses were parked in front as he was staying at the Hotel Boulderado across the street. A mutual friend of the groom and mine saw the blues legend as he left the early set up. He suggested that his 4th grade son say hi.

BB King was gracious with his time and gave the young man a couple of guitar picks. How cool is that?

Music Posted by John Kranz at 4:57 PM | What do you think? [3]
But Terri thinks:

toooo cool!

Posted by: Terri at August 22, 2011 7:19 PM
But jk thinks:

A lengthy career has generated neither enemies nor bad stories. Every time you hear a BB King story it is like this one and not "he got drunk and beat up his girlfriend." Eternal HOSS.

(And today's password is "g!bs0n" love it.)

Posted by: jk at August 23, 2011 11:01 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Way cool. A living legend visits our backyard.

Posted by: johngalt at August 23, 2011 3:16 PM

Tweet of the Day


2012 Posted by John Kranz at 4:31 PM | What do you think? [0]

Meanwhile, in Buffy News

William Shakespeare's Macbeth, Act II Scene VII, from L.A. Theatre Works new full cast performance on audiobook, starring James Marsters and Joanne Whalley.

"Spike" does okay, and I'd commit regicide to see it. But I would suggest that fans of "The Scottish Play" might prefer this awesome awesome awesome interpretation from Tim Worthington and Victoria Hill in 2006.

Television Posted by John Kranz at 4:21 PM | What do you think? [0]

Hank Reardon, Call Your Office

Ken Salazar's Interior Department moves to prevent Exxon from developing a billion-barrel oil field it discovered in deep water Gulf of Mexico in 2007. Because of feared oil spills? No. Because it might impair the mating habits of the Gorite-dwelling shoestring eel? No.

Employing an extreme technicality, these regulators claimed that Exxon's request in 2008 for a short suspension of activity to upgrade and make safer its drilling operation amounted to an abandonment of three of its five permits, simply because Exxon hadn't signed a contract with another partner, Chevron, by the time the suspension was completed.

In the past, such glitches were no problem — after all, it's obvious Exxon, which spent $300 million on exploratory wells, hasn't abandoned the operation.

But in the Obama era, which demonizes oil production in American waters by American companies, the bureaucrats came up with this permit technicality to effectively expropriate the entire operation.


But Terri thinks:

I would say "unbelievable!!" but sadly nothing is anymore when it comes to this bullpucky.

Posted by: Terri at August 22, 2011 3:47 PM
But jk thinks:

This was a day in the WSJ Ed Page's Week in the life of the Obama Recovery

Consider the headlines only from last week, a slow week by Washington standards, with Congress out of session and President Obama campaigning for three days before going on vacation. Even in the dog days of August, your government was hard at work undermining economic confidence.

Holler if you would like it mailed over the pay wall, it is devastating.

Posted by: jk at August 22, 2011 3:54 PM
But Terri thinks:

Nope, I got it, and had read it first thinking you missed a ht to the WSJ, but then compared the quotes. Same song. Same, sad, sad, song.

Posted by: Terri at August 22, 2011 7:21 PM

GOP Answer to Climate Change

Climate Change is fraught with peril for the GOP. The best news about this country's complete economic meltdown is that many of the small potatoes issues have been tabled.

But Climate Change will be back. My Man, Jon Huntsman, thinks it's real and I confess I cannot get very excited when a Republican talks it up. OTOH, as texting economists say, I realize that any answer I would like will enrage the press and turn off huge swaths of moderates.

Kenneth P. Green at The American suggests a non-dogmatic answer and provides it free of charge to any of the candidates. They could do much worse, and as Speaker Thomas B Reed would quip, they probably will:

Since Jefferson's time, we've known that people can change the climate locally, regionally, and maybe even globally. Heck, any farmer knows we change the local climate! But activists have so muddied the issue by jiggering the data, suppressing dissent, predicting armageddon, and blaming every pooped-out polar bear on climate change it's hard to know what's real and what's hype.

They want to centrally plan the economy, but won't be honest about what they don't know. When pushed, leading climate scientists admitted they "lost" a bunch of their original data -- that's right, the dog ate it! Now they tell us aliens might wipe us out because of our greenhouse gas emissions!

Aliens!

Well, I don't believe that. What I do believe is that centrally planning our economy would be a disaster that would harm people and the planet. If the climate changes, we'll deal with that, but it will be by moving forward, not back to the caves

Megan McArdle gives a more balanced than you'll see most places look at the dangers of rigid belief.
What these Republicans are doing to people like Chris Christie is no better than what Harvard did to Larry Summers when he suggested that it was possible that women had a different IQ distribution than men. Facts are not good or bad; they are correct or incorrect. And a policy based on hysterical refusal to consider all possible facts is neither good, nor correct.

If someone is wrong about the facts, you should explain to them, calmly and concisely, why they are wrong. If it's really that obvious, it shouldn't be hard to convince them.

When people start trying to expel heretics because of disagreements over facts, it suggests that they suspect--even know--that the facts are not on their side. Which is, frankly, what I tend to think is happening here. If open argument is going to force your ideology to confront uncomfortable facts, you create a closed circle that the facts can't penetrate. If the circle is big enough, the geocentric universe gets a few hundred more years before the defensive perimeter cracks.

Fraught with peril. Even with the momentum shifting towards the DAWG deniers, I cannot imagine that one will be elected in 2012.

UPDATE:

Mr. Huntsman, the former Utah governor and ambassador to Beijing, began his candidacy stressing his resume and his attractive family. With that getting him nowhere in a year when issues trump biography, he's now attacking fellow Republicans for, among other things, not embracing the science of global warming. "To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy," Mr. Huntsman said on Twitter, a criticism of recent remarks by Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Mr. Huntsman followed that up on Sunday on ABC, telling Jake Tapper that the GOP has a "serious problem" when it becomes "anti-science." -- Paul Gigot

The bandwagon might suddenly feel 250 lbs. lighter...

But johngalt thinks:

Thou art nothing if not fair and objective, dear brother. A germane update if there ever was one.

To the historical footnote we know as Jon Huntsman I reply, "Global Warming is anti-science, not the GOP. If you knew anything about science you would know this, and would also know better than to believe that everything said by a scientist is supported by science."

Posted by: johngalt at August 23, 2011 2:58 PM

Sarah Palin Bashing!

Is Trig realllly her son?

No, actually, I wanted to talk about heightened expectations of her announcing her candidacy. She's spending a lot of time in Iowa. And while I will not say anything bad about the Hawkeye State (I thought Hawkeye was from Maine!), it is a curious coincidence.

The world is not ThreeSources, nor is the GOP. But it strikes me that the Governor does not fill any perceived lacunae in the 2012 field. Gov. Perry and Rep Bachmann both have energetic campaigns highlighting Tea Partyish principles with a solid foundation of cultural and social conservatism.

I suggest that those who see the field incomplete are waiting for a wonk. Chairman Ryan, or Gov. Daniels, or Gov. Christie who wonks without showing it. Everybody knows my moderate and generally positive opinion of Governor Griz, but I don't think she has ever been called a wonk.

UPDATE: More from Jennifer Rubin and her readers. Some good (but unconvincing) words for Governor Palin. Nice that "the left-wing media hate her so much it would drive them crazy" but I do not see that's fixing the entitlement issue on its own. One reader suggests Chairman Ryan:

He is patient and kind while Obama is brittle and testy. He is utterly genuine while Obama is phony. Ryan is the boy next door, the guy you can count on. People respond warmly to him. Paul Ryan is low-key and likable while the current WH occupant is high-strung, high-maintenance and extremely arrogant. Ryan has great intellectual credentials and has always been an authentic conservative thinker. His relative youth would contrast nicely with our hapless president’s tired, old act.

Count me in.

2012 Posted by John Kranz at 11:17 AM | What do you think? [5]
But johngalt thinks:

We don't really get to compare candidates to the president yet do we? Which one doesn't come out as shiny as this?

For my part I prefer answer B: "She could announce she's backing Rick Perry."

Posted by: johngalt at August 22, 2011 2:27 PM
But jk thinks:

TWIN3S (The World Is Not ThreeSources). To us, T-Paw is an exciting, charismatic alternative to the Incumbent President. To the electorate at large, Gov. Perry is George Bush's clever disguise to sidestep the 22nd Amendment, and Gov. Romney is another Grey Haired, smooth talking Republican. I think Chairman Ryan alone brings youth, which is the only quality he won on that might still be valid.

Posted by: jk at August 22, 2011 4:09 PM
But jk thinks:

Academic. Ryan Won't Run

Posted by: jk at August 22, 2011 4:11 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Perhaps you're being to critical of the latest Texas Guv to run for POTUS:

"Obama trails both Romney and Perry among independents by three and two points, respectively."

"The Gallup results are the first national head-to-head general election numbers released since Perry entered the race..."

Posted by: johngalt at August 22, 2011 7:00 PM
But jk thinks:

Before the demagoguery machine has been launched. Three points. On an incumbent President. Here's to hope!

Posted by: jk at August 22, 2011 7:16 PM

Great News for T-Paw!

If the house is bigger, he is going to have a lot less grass to mow!

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is planning to nearly quadruple the size of his $12 million California beachfront mansion.

Romney, a former Massachusetts governor and the nominal front-runner for the GOP’s 2012 presidential nomination, is planning to bulldoze his 3,009-square-foot home facing the Pacific Ocean in La Jolla, Calif., and replace it with an 11,062-square-foot home, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.


And yet, I categorize this not under immigrant labor, or 2012, but "Media and Blogging." I suggest that this is of more interest to the media than Barack & Michelle's Excellent Martha's Vineyard Vacation.

It may be a better story, but I laugh that I read on wingnut blogs all day that the optics are bad and that American's are going to seethe when they see these photos. But I don't think any American's are going to see the photos or know it is happening unless they read HotAir -- and those people are probably not the President's base.

But johngalt thinks:

"Mansion?" Three-bedrooms (or two, depending who you ask) and 3009 square feet? Ah, I see, Wa-Po is using the archaic definition. Let's roll with that: "Say brothers, shall we plan a 3Srcs Beer Summit at my mansion this fall?"

Posted by: johngalt at August 22, 2011 3:07 PM
But jk thinks:

Tip top, Guv! Will your butler, Headly, be making those Hazelnut-infused Cosmopolitans again? Next week is not good for me, I'm afraid the Bently's in the shop...

Posted by: jk at August 22, 2011 4:01 PM

August 21, 2011

Well, I am glad that HE is!

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels says he's "at peace" with his decision not to seek the Republican nomination for president.
2012 Posted by John Kranz at 12:19 PM | What do you think? [0]

Otequay of the Ayday

The past instability of the market economy is the consequence of the exclusion of the most important regulator of the market mechanism, money, from itself being regulated by the market process.

Ludwig von Mises, from the sine qua non economics post below.


August 20, 2011

The World Economic Disorder Explained

In a single link. I try to avoid the "read it all" exhortation but this is the one. The sine qua non for understanding the causes and remedies for the international banking crises and related economic maladies we're living through. Hint: Fiat currency.

So what did the presumably most important representatives of the Austrian School — Ludwig von Mises (1881–1973) and Friedrich August von Hayek (1899–1992) — have to say about fiat money?

They found that the injection of fiat money through bank credit expansion[6] lowers the market interest rate to below the natural rate level — as the Swedish economist J.G. Knut Wicksell (1851–1926) called it — that is, the interest rate that would prevail had the credit and money supply not been artificially increased.

The artificially suppressed interest rate makes firms increasingly shift scarce resources into more time-consuming production processes for capital goods at the expense of production processes for consumer goods, causing intertemporal distortions of the economy's production structure, leading to malinvestment.

Fiat-money injection increases consumption out of current income at the expense of savings, and, in addition, leads to higher investment, so that the economy enters an inflationary boom, living beyond its means.

If the injection of fiat money created through bank-circulation credit out of thin air were a one-off affair, it presumably wouldn't take long for the artificial boom to unwind. A recession would restore the economy to equilibrium as people returned to their truly desired consumption-savings-investment relation (as determined by time preference).

In a fiat-money regime, however, increases in credit and money are not a one-off affair. As soon as signs of recession appear on the horizon, public opinion calls for countermeasures, and central banks try their best to "fight the crisis" by increasing the fiat-money supply through bank-circulation-credit expansion, thereby bringing interest rates to even lower levels.

In other words, monetary policy — usually to the great applause of mainstream economists — fights the correction of the problem by recourse to the very action that has caused the debacle in the first place.

Such a strategy cannot be pursued indefinitely, though. When credit expansion comes to a shrieking halt — that is, when banks refrain from lending — the inevitable adjustment unfolds. Borrowers default, and firms liquidate unsound investments and cut jobs.

But there is a cure.

In contrast to these concepts — which are, and unsurprisingly so, interventionist by nature — economists from the Austrian School have been putting forward recommendations and strategies for reforming the monetary system along free-market principles.

Their recommendations are driven by the insight that the great financial and economic crises are not inherent in capitalism, but result from government interventionism in monetary affairs, most importantly by monopolizing money production. Hayek put it succinctly in 1976:

The past instability of the market economy is the consequence of the exclusion of the most important regulator of the market mechanism, money, from itself being regulated by the market process.[11]

Austrian economists are of the opinion — based on elaborate economic-ethical considerations — that curing the current financial and economic crisis would require a return to sound money. By "sound money," they mean money that is compatible with the principles guiding the free-market economy.

Sound money is free-market money, money that is the result of the free supply of and the free demand for money. It is money that is produced in unhampered markets where there are no longer any legal privileges for, for instance, central banks.

While those of us in the Liberty Movement think cutting government spending to sustainable levels is a sisyphean task, dislodging the self-dealing central bankers will be even more difficult, perhaps requiring something on the order of the French Revolution. Maybe that "treason" remark by Governor Perry wasn't as misguided as first believed.

But jk thinks:

I have long found ABCT elegant and do not doubt its validity. I put monetary policy at the top of my causes for the housing bust and Panic of '08. I even complained when Gretchen Morgenstern did not in her otherwise excellent "Reckless Endangerment."

I'm on board and have on occasion called myself an Austrian "Ich bin ein Österreicher!" I even have the Aryan features to pull it off. But I get off the train right before Vienna.

My appreciation for Mises is long established, but I cannot accept a gold anchor. Why gold? If we perfect alchemy or find a big mine under Cleveland, we have an expansionary boom? If not we risk deflation?

Hayek seems closer with competing currencies, though it is difficult to wrap one's head around it.

I return to the Constitutional, enumerated power "To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof." An economics professor suggested we made a big error there, but it is there. I don't think going back to Breton Woods is the answer.

The phrase "Sound Money" -- if not "coined" -- popularized by President William McKinley. He did not give a fig about monetary policy, but had to run twice against William Jennings Bryan who wanted to talk about nothing else. "I'm for sound money" allowed the candidate to quickly talk about the tariff, which was his concern, without providing any specifics. I accuse today's rabble of the same offense. Do you mean metalism? I'll ask Well, not necessarily, [and the vowels get longer and the tone falters] but sound money.

I purport that a 2% inflation target fiat currency is sound money. And that QEn were required to keep the target when the FOMC could not inject liquidity using normal methods.

Yes, I worry that it will be overused and I dislike giving the government the option to monetize the debt. But I don't see a gold peg as the answer.

I always think I got off the Austrian Express at Chicago: Milton Friedman's computer Fed, really a set of rules to set rates and supply without human intervention or opinion is the best way to go. In the meantime, Chairmen Bernanke (the greatest villain since Hitler to some) is essentially doing that and doing it pretty well.

The other thing I have noticed, is that when ThreeSources discusses monetary policy, readership asymptotically approaches zero.

Posted by: jk at August 21, 2011 12:07 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Anna Nicole Smith photos. PLAYMATE.
Anna Nicole Smith photos. PLAYMATE.
Anna Nicole Smith photos. PLAYMATE.
Anna Nicole Smith photos. PLAYMATE.
Anna Nicole Smith photos. PLAYMATE.
Anna Nicole Smith photos. PLAYMATE.
Anna Nicole Smith photos. PLAYMATE.

Posted by: johngalt at August 21, 2011 6:28 PM
But johngalt thinks:

(That oughtta buy us a few more volleys back and forth. I'll just let it soak a while...)

Posted by: johngalt at August 21, 2011 6:30 PM

When Cash is Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Use Cash

This might explain why it feels like people think I'm a drug dealer when they see my money clip.

Bankers see cash the way government does. “There’s always going to be some people, for good or nefarious reasons, who want to use cash,” Doug Johnson, vice president for risk management policy at the American Bankers Association, tells the Times.

So while Keynesians see cash hoarding as evil, government and bankers believe those using cash are up to no good.



Otequay of the Ayday

A first draft of the history of the Obama Administration?

Many in America wanted to be proud when the first person of color was elected president, but instead, they have been witness to a congenital liar, a woman who has been ashamed of America her entire life, failed policies, intimidation and a commonality hitherto not witnessed in political leaders. He and his wife view their life at our expense as an entitlement – while America's people go homeless, hungry and unemployed.

From Nero in the White House by Mychal Massie. The remainder of the piece is far less delicate.


August 19, 2011

McArdle Votes 'Present'

Normally I am a big fan of Megan McArdle, but she misses today.

Looking at -- and giving wider audience to -- the politicalMathBlog researched I linked the other day, McArdle comes to the conclusion that a) the Texas economic miracle is indeed fer real; but, b) the six term Governor is wrong to claim too much credit.

3.The governor of Texas isn't that powerful. In general, Texas has a weak state government, and my understanding is that the power of the executive is further diluted because powers that are normally concentrated in the office of the governor are actually spread out over a handful of elected officials. So even if awesome policy was responsible for how well Texas is doing, you couldn't give all the credit to Perry.

So.........Silent Cal could not claim credit for not totally screwing the economy as his two successors did? I will give the guy props for not pushing more state intrusion, taxes, and regulation.

I had recommended Joseph Gibson's "A Better Congress: Change the Rules, Change the Results" and suspect that many of his ideas were modeled on the part-time Texas legislature. Which, again, Gov. Perry cannot take credit for. But he had six terms to expand his office and the role of government. And he did not.

Pretty high marks from me on that.

UPDATE: The WSJ Ed Page is much more positive

Mr. Perry's Texas record is far from perfect, as Charles Dameron recently showed on these pages with his reporting on the Governor's politicized venture-capital fund. But the larger story is that Mr. Perry inherited a well-functioning economy and has managed it well, mainly by avoiding the kind of policy disruptions that his liberal critics favor in the name of this or that social or political goal. This achievement may not earn a Nobel prize in economics, but it does help explain why Texas is outperforming the nation.

2012 Posted by John Kranz at 2:18 PM | What do you think? [4]
But johngalt thinks:

Well said all around. And if Perry is elected and, in a mere eight years, manages to turn the federal government into a "weak [national] government" he will have earned a Nobel prize in economics.

Posted by: johngalt at August 19, 2011 3:32 PM
But Terri thinks:

"3.The governor of Texas isn't that powerful. In general, Texas has a weak state government, and my understanding is that the power of the executive is further diluted because powers that are normally concentrated in the office of the governor are actually spread out over a handful of elected officials"

Twas a feature, not a bug.

Posted by: Terri at August 19, 2011 4:26 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

The most "fair and balanced" treatment of the points against Perry that I've seen so far:

http://peskytruth.wordpress.com/2011/07/19/rick-perrys-negatives/

I refer, you decide. As for me, I'd have no major problem with a Perry candidacy, or a finite number of others. Romney, Giuliani, a couple of others, and that's a different story.

Special for br'er jg: given the conditions you describe, he will have earned one, but will not receive it. Because that's not how the committee rolls.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at August 19, 2011 4:48 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Thanks for the link ka. The explanation of the Gardasil issue was more thorough than I'd ever read. Essentially, making it "mandatory" was a way to get it covered by private insurance and therefore more accessible. Maybe not the best way to help Texans but certainly not "jack-booted authoritarianism."

Posted by: johngalt at August 20, 2011 12:12 PM

All Hail Postrel!

Sixty-six and two-thirds percent of the people I recommended "The Future and its Enemies" to liked it very much. I once forced my Software Development team to read "The Substance of Style," and while they thought I was weird, I think they all liked it. And I have forwarded her "Why Buffy Kicks Ass" column to innumerable conversion prospects.

Ms. Postrel has a Bloomberg column today reviewing a book on corporate strategy: what it is and what it isn't.

This strategy not only told Stephanie what to do but what she had to stop doing. Selling more prepared meals meant taking space away from the munchies for her many student customers. To focus labor expenses on the peak times for her professional customers, she closed earlier, meaning no sales from late-night study breaks. "Strategy is scarcity's child and to have a strategy, rather than vague aspirations, is to choose one path and eschew others," writes [Richard P.] Rumelt.

Whole you will thing read to want.

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 12:56 PM | What do you think? [0]

jk Agrees with Rep. Maxine Waters

Write down the date. Cache the page. I may never admit it. But the gentle lady from California is right about "Green Jobs:"

"Of course, we want to be a part of the new innovation and the green jobs," Rep. Maxine Waters said on MSNBC Thursday. "But you know, the green jobs have been about a lot of talk and not a lot has been happening on that." A few hours later, also on MSNBC, Waters said flatly: "All of this talk about the green jobs never materialized."

Waters is a senior member of the Congressional Black Caucus. Last month, the chairman of that group, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, told the Huffington Post that green jobs had little meaning for his constituents. "African-Americans out there were saying, 'What do we have in common with this new, green technology?'" Cleaver told the website.

Hat-tip: Instapundit

Oil and Energy Posted by John Kranz at 11:41 AM | What do you think? [3]
But Robert thinks:

Well, anyone who believed in the "Green Jobs" blather in the first place gets points taken off. I thought the Gentlelady from CA was a fool, but I never supsected she believed BHO's campaign trail talk was anything more than BS. I suppose they're not entirely imaginary: All it takes to create a $50k/year Green Job is $1.5 million in Fed subsidies.

Posted by: Robert at August 19, 2011 5:59 PM
But johngalt thinks:

HA! But if you think about it, that's a pretty efficient rate-of-return for government.

Welcome to the commentariat Alaska Robert.

Posted by: johngalt at August 19, 2011 8:13 PM
But jk thinks:

Likewise, Robert! Remind me not to challenge him to a game of chess. (Y'all should click "Robert" to see his blog).

Posted by: jk at August 20, 2011 11:36 AM

Cross of Gold

After 8 1/2 years slaving over a hot keyboard, I have finally found the way to launch a blog into the big time: insult my heroes! It's awesome. I ragged on Jonathan V. Last awhile back and got some nice emails. Today, I was pleased to see Brian Wesbury had commented on a post.

I confess that I never was a William Jennings Bryan fan. I consider him the Tom Tancredo of his day, pushing bimetallism instead of immigration enforcement. A stint as President Wilson's Sec State does little to burnish his credentials.

Wesbury points out that he is not endorsing Bryan, just reminding the public that monetary policy has been in American elections before. (I'd toss in Jackson/Taney's Bank War, which captivated politics for several elections.)

In essence, Perry and Bryan raise a centuries-old argument. Governments have always been tempted to manipulate the value of money. Most have done so, sometimes for purposes of greed or power; other times because of misguided policy reasons. Bryan wanted inflation for farmers. Rising productivity was pushing prices down and those farmers who were not increasing production were hurt financially. They wrongly blamed the gold standard, or "hard money," for their problems. And even though it took another 17 years, his arguments ushered in the era of the Federal Reserve.

As what I guess is now the official ThreeSources Inflation Dove, I'd call Bryan names while conceding that "hard money" was not blameless in a series of postwar downturns. They were using bank receipts and homemade currency in 1873. But Wesbury's article is unsurprisingly well considered and interesting. And he provides valuable ammunition for my ThreeSources antagonists.
The U.S. deserves a transparent debate about monetary policy, a stable dollar, the dual mandate, the gold standard, a price rule for money and the Humphrey-Hawkins Act. As William Jennings Bryan knew, sometimes the only way to get people to focus on an issue is to wrap it up in some fiery and passionate language. For that, Rick Perry should be congratulated, not castigated.

But johngalt thinks:

Cool!

Posted by: johngalt at August 19, 2011 3:34 PM

Meanwhile, in Buffy News

Actually Angel/Firefly news: Jasmine/Zoe. In a Suit! Heading a law firm (nope, not Wolfram & Hart).


Television Posted by John Kranz at 11:02 AM | What do you think? [0]

August 18, 2011

Deflationary M2 explosion?

All the bank money a sign of plunging velocity? Kudlow is considering it:

"The recent pickup in broad money in the U.S. looks like a dash for risk-free cash assets," writes [Michael] Darda. He also notes that widening corporate-credit risk spreads and shrinking government-bond rates signal a recession risk, not a coming boom.

So contrary to monetarist theory, the M2 explosion seems more closely related to a deflation/recession risk. Economist-blogger Scott Grannis writes, "The recent growth of M2 surpasses even the explosive safe-haven demand for money that accompanied 9/11 and the financial crisis of late 2008. Something big is going on, and it can only be the financial panic that is sweeping Europe as money flees a banking system that is loaded to the gills with PIIGS debt."


I think highly of Darda and see where he is headed. But this is on the intuitive level of record snowfall and Arctic ice accumulation as proof of global warming.


OTOH

To my Governor Perry supporting friends: I am not negative, I am skeptical. Everybody should be skeptical this early. I have posted a few negative things.

So I repent with this amazing piece of awesomeness linked by Jonah Goldberg.

I won't excerpt because all my favorite parts have coarse language and its awesomeness is kind of a gestalt thing. It is awesome only in its entirety.

Its entirety is a sophisticated bloggers-eye-view of the Texas employment data (Why o why can't real media guys who are paid do anything remotely like this?) The blogger admits to not being in the Perry camp, but says -- nay, proves, madam -- in original research that the Texas jobs miracle is the real deal.

2012 Posted by John Kranz at 5:49 PM | What do you think? [0]

As in Britain, as in Dubuque.

At least the good folks of Dubuque will not be disarmed, thanks to the Second Amendment.

But, just like old blighty, it sucks to know you're funding the local criminal element. James Bovard has a WSJ Editorial today on "HUD Section 8 housing." The law gives public housing recipients vouchers, recognizing that the concentration of lower income people in dense housing projects concentrated crime. As the President told Plumber Joe, better when we spread it around:

Dubuque, Iowa, is struggling with an influx of Section 8 recipients from Chicago housing projects. Section 8 concentrations account for 11 of 13 local violent crime hot spots, according to a study by the Northern Illinois University Center for Governmental Studies. Though Section 8 residents account for only 5% of the local population, a 2010 report released by the city government found that more than 20% of arrestees resided at Section 8 addresses.

I'd let it slide as a sad but acceptable by-product of misguided gub'mint charity. Until I read
HUD now picks up the rent for more than two million households nationwide; tenants pay 30% of their income toward rent and utilities while the feds pay the rest. Section 8 recipients receive monthly rental subsidies of up to $2,851 in the Stamford-Norwalk, Conn., area, $2,764 in Honolulu and $2,582 in Columbia, Md.

T-t-t-t-t-t-two thousand, eight hundred? I have lived in flyover country too long, but that seems like quite a subsidy.

Whatever the price, there is no accountability. "Earlier this year, [HUD] decreed that Section 8 tenants (as well as other renters) who are evicted because of domestic violence incidents may sue for discrimination under the Fair Housing Act because women are 'the overwhelming majority of domestic violence victims.' In essence, this gives troublesome tenants a federal trump card to play against landlords who seek to preserve the peace and protect other renters."

Your neighborhood goes to hell, you're paying for it, and if you complain you or your town are more likely to face legal problems than the trouble makers. All they need are hoodies and a British accent.

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 5:04 PM | What do you think? [0]

'Nother Knock on Gov. Perry

The opening segment about Warren Buffet is worth a watch. The second statement on Gov. Perry's "Crony Capitalism Problem" is concerning.

2012 Posted by John Kranz at 4:18 PM | What do you think? [0]

Ms. Bachmann's Turn

Earlier this week neophite presidential candidate Rick Perry garnered lots of pub by calling another round of quantitative easing by Ben Bernanke "almost treasonous." Today Michelle Bachmann rolled out her own red meat issue by promising,

"Under President Bachmann you will see gasoline come down below $2 a gallon again," Bachmann told a crowd Tuesday in South Carolina. "That will happen."

Naturally the press thinks it's impossible, ably demonstrated by Charles Riley who penned the CNN Money article linked above. I searched other reports looking for any that weren't dismissive but struck out. Apparently nobody within reach of a keyboard knows how easy it would be. "I will then, said the little red hen." From the Three Sources Oil and Energy archives:

Pique Oil - February, 2011

Within five years, analysts and executives predict, the newly unlocked fields are expected to produce 1 million to 2 million barrels of oil per day, enough to boost U.S. production 20 percent to 40 percent.

Tightly Controlled Oil Supply Slips Into Surplus - November 2008

The take away from this should be that adding as little as 1.9 million barrels per day (2.3%) to the world oil market at any time in the last 2.5 years would have put the market in surplus at the time. Remember that the next time someone says, "The small amount of oil we could produce domestically would not lower prices for 10 to 15 years."

Casey at Bat - July 2008

Every few months some Democrat decides that oil companies are to blame for high prices.

Except they're not. It's Democrats who are at fault.

And I'm not even including the price hiking effect of regional fuel blends mandated by government, although I'm sure we have a piece on that somewhere.

So bringing prices way, way down is a relatively straightforward goal. But how far down they can go is affected more by the value of the dollar than by the supply/demand balance for oil and refined gasoline. We've been debating whether or not we're actually in an inflationary period but according to the divergence of the two lines here (computed from "CPI-All Urban Consumers for all items less energy") inflation has been gangbusters since about 2004. But with this huge caveat, what should be the market price for a gallon of gasoline without government "help?" About 60 cents.

A Market Price for Crude Oil - June 2008

But for nearly 20 years between the two "oil shock" periods noted the price was roughly half that - 60 cents per gallon in constant [1979] dollars.
But jk thinks:

Nicely done. I rolled my eyes when I first heard it. It concerned me because it plays into the narrative of how important government it. Blame it when things are bad and fete it when times are good.

I just hope that Rep. Bachmann can make the point as effectively as you. "Hey, we don't set gas prices but we can keep from driving them up." No, on second thought, the "Hey" is too Sarahpalainish...

Posted by: jk at August 18, 2011 5:23 PM

Better Learn to Speak Greek.

Awesome piece by Bruce Thornton at Hoover Institution on the dangers of direct democracy and parallels to failed democracy in Greece. Not like last week, but farther back:

In the next few years our country will be a sort of laboratory in which these old ideas about the dangers of democracy will be put to the test. Particularly worrisome is the increasing inclination to see the state not as an object of collective affection, duty, and loyalty in which individuals find some measure of their identities and meaning, but rather as a mere dispenser of entitlements that each faction tries to control for its own benefit. This weakness of democracy was apparent at its birth in ancient Athens. By the middle of the 4th Century B.C., an Athenian citizen could expect some form of state pay practically every day of the year, such as a stipend for attending the Assembly, serving on a jury, or attending a festival. Meanwhile, the citizen's responsibility to manage the state and its military was given over to professional generals and politicians.

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 2:57 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Greece had no TEA Party.

Greece had no prior example to caution them. We have Greece. Ironically, Greece doesn't remember her own history.

Posted by: johngalt at August 18, 2011 3:29 PM

Three Guys I Like a Lot, Fighting.

That could be the name of the blog, if it lent itself to a snappy url.

You know I dig Larry and I'm not fit to lace Brian Wesbury's laptop bag, but I have to go with Don here:

If you don't agree with Don Luskin on inflation, you must admit that William Jennings Bryan was a crackpot. I don't think Wesbury did himself any favors with his "cross of gold" closing argument.

Game on.

But johngalt thinks:

I believe B-Dub addressed this in the article he linked:

"The U.S. deserves a transparent debate about monetary policy, a stable dollar, the dual mandate, the gold standard, a price rule for money and the Humphrey-Hawkins Act."

I've no objection to a federal currency per se. I object to fiat money.

Posted by: johngalt at August 19, 2011 5:28 PM
But jk thinks:

I love a transparent debate. I'd love to take Milton Friedman's idea of replacing the Fed with a computer with a published algorithm. I'd love to boot the dual mandate. I'd love to take a half hour and look up what the Humphrey-Hawkins Act is.

But we started this monetary squall with my linking to Greg Mankiw that -- if you read "Inflation Targeting" by Dr. Benjamin Bernanke -- he is on track. Keep the core CPI right around 2% ("habituated," says Mister Luskin). The guy is doing EXACTLY what the textbook HE WROTE says to do. And Governor Perry questions his patriotism. He's Public Enemy #1.

I just ask my hard money friends to respect the ravages of deflation. That's not a Tea Party talking point, but it should be concerning. Picking whether Luskin or Wesbury is right is above my pay grade and everyone is allowed to ignore the Central Bank advice of the dropout, hippie guitar player. But there is a feeding frenzy in the punditocracy and I'm calling blogger's right to be a contrarian.

Posted by: jk at August 19, 2011 6:45 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Interestin'. I thought I, and now the good Mr. Wesbury, were the only ones saying there's real inflation even though "official" inflation is low. Are you really being the contrarian or are you just siding with the government and establishment press?

I re-read the Mankiw piece and here's what I still don't understand. why do economists seem to believe that a moderate inflation rate, guided by an inflation target, even when made as ironclad and certain as anything possibly could be in Washington, is somehow supposed to overcome the uncertainties and disincentives of Obamacare, waivers-on-demand, 99 weeks of unemployment insurance (with requisite higher premium payments demanded from employers), fuel prices doubling since Obama's inaguration, mortgage "restructuring," bondholder renegging, "green" job overpromising, credit rating downgrading and the almost single-minded determination to get America's national debt to 100% of GDP during Obama's first term as president. If anyone really believes the Fed can turn industrial production, and therefore job growth, up and down with monetary policy despite all else he should have his head examined. We may as well ask the Fed to manipulate the global climate while they're at it.

Posted by: johngalt at August 20, 2011 2:16 AM
But jk thinks:

You caught me, Brother. Shillin' for big government and establishment media.

Firstly, I think that using CPI as a deflator, official Fed-recognized inflation has been around the 2% target: lower before, a little higher now. As Mankiw says, this is in the book. You can say the book is wrong (EE has presented me with some better ideas than inflation targeting) but you bought the tractor, you read the owners manual, you took it for a test drive. If you wish you'd bought a Ferrari I can't help you.

I found his book made sense. The reason for 2% is that accuracy in measuring and efficacy is difficult. Consider 2% the error rate. If you miss to the upside pull back, but if you miss to the downside you have not created deflation. Design a crankcase that holds too much oil because running out is very very bad.

Secondly, you see it as enabling Obamanomics. I cede that real runaway inflation would, but I stand by Helicopter Ben because he has had to keep things moving in spite of and in opposition to all the nasty things on your list. If we had better fiscal policy, we could perhaps afford better monetary policy. But the Bernank has kept things going in spite of administration created "bad luck."

Posted by: jk at August 20, 2011 12:03 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Whether there's a dual purpose or not, expanding the money supply does enable Obamanomics. Obamanomics defined as unprecedented government spending, preferrably for the benefit of political constituencies.

Everything you said is very reasonable. I think my disconnect with you is over the idea that I "bought" this tractor. I don't think quantitative easing is what Uncle Milton had in mind. But I could be wrong.

What I and the rest of my fellow flyover country rubes really want is a sound money system. We seem to be approaching the day when monopolistic central bankers have no place in polite society.

Posted by: johngalt at August 20, 2011 11:58 PM
But jk thinks:

You bought the tractor when you supported George W. Bush and he appointed the Princeton guy with the well trimmed whiskers. You have every right to remorse if you choose.

My point is that there is no bait and switch, kids. The guy wrote a book with his views on Central Banking and implemented those policies pretty successfully.

By all means sign me up for sound money. But as I ramble above, everybody likes it without agreeing what it is. Kinda like "Hope & Change."

Posted by: jk at August 21, 2011 12:16 PM

August 17, 2011

Meanwhile, in Buffy News

Never watched "Supernatural," but I will have to see this:

The CW's Supernatural aims to slay you by reuniting Buffyverse alumni Charisma Carpenter and James Marsters -- aka Cordelia and Spike -- in one of its Season 7 episodes, TVLine has learned exclusively.

What's more, the two actors, who previously worked together both on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its David Boreanaz-fronted spin-off Angel, will be playing husband and wife on the spooktacular drama, which launches its new cycle on Friday, Sept. 23, at 9/8c. Watch for this glorious genre-gasm to come in the new season's fifth episode, titled "Shut Up, Dr. Phil."

Television Posted by John Kranz at 5:07 PM | What do you think? [2]
But jk thinks:

Geeky comment time: I was prepared to complain that the two never "worked together" on Angel as their characters' contributions came in different seasons. But I do see S1 In the Dark that "Spike negotiates a hostage exchange with Cordelia Chase (Charisma Carpenter) and Doyle (Glenn Quinn)."

Cordelia comes back in S5 You're Welcome (perhaps my favorite) but I do not recall an interaction with Spike. For you, gentle readers, I will watch it again to be certain.

Posted by: jk at August 17, 2011 5:23 PM
But jk thinks:

Wrong! Spike bites Cordy in "You're Welcome." (Because Lindsay, posing as Doyle, has told him that she is evil. And that is how he can tell.) But her blood is not evil, else he explains it would taste "more astringent...oak-ey..."

I remembered it as one of my favorite episodes, but was entranced last night seeing it again -- what a superb hour (minus commercials on Netflix instant) of television. Some of the ones I've gone back to have seemed dated. I supposed this was one of the newest, but it is awesome on stilts. After eight years.

Posted by: jk at August 18, 2011 4:03 PM

Stealthflation Looms

When I first posted about the sneaky, under-the-radar inflation I dubbed Stealthflation, a discussion ensued over what constitutes inflation and how to measure it. WaPo carries this AP story: Companies paid more for wholesale goods, though inflation pressures muted (Note the reporting of prices rising with a "don't worry about inflation" modifier.)

A key measure of wholesale inflation rose in July by the most in six months.

The measure, called core wholesale inflation, excludes volatile food and energy prices. It surged 0.4 percent last month.

But monthly figures are only useful to professional economists and journalists who need something new to talk about every month.

Over the past 12 months, the PPI has jumped 7.2 percent. That's up sharply from earlier this year, though below May's 7.3 percent rise, the biggest in 2 1/2; years.

That's Producer Price Index - a measure of the cost of goods for companies that make things. But while producers see inflation in the 7 percent range consumers see only a couple percent.

Higher wholesale prices tend to raise pressure on department stores, groceries and restaurants to pass along higher costs to consumers. But that will be difficult now at a time of high unemployment and stagnant wages, which have caused consumers to tighten spending.

Combined with falling oil and gas prices, lower consumer spending should slow inflationary pressures, economists say.

You see, if retailers raise prices to track costs they're liable to lose sales and cut profits more than if they just absorb the cost inflation. This is good for government because they can claim low inflation but as the enviro-hippies like to say, it isn't sustainable.

Last week, Fed policymakers said they will keep its benchmark short-term rate at nearly zero at least until mid-2013. Previously, the central bank had never given a clear time frame. It hopes the certainty of low rates will encourage consumers and businesses to borrow and spend more.

The central bank forecast in June that inflation will remain within its informal target range of below 2 percent this year and next.

But won't borrowing more and spending more cause consumer prices, and therefore official inflation, to rise? Perhaps, but not likely anywhere near the 7 percent that producers see.

In a rational world the prices of goods would be set by supply and demand. In the modern global economy they are instead set by the "hopes" of the Federal Reserve Board.

But jk thinks:

Perhaps the retailers could be more productive, absorbing the input costs without raising prices: Sam? Mister Walton?

M2 is way up and we might be well into some corporeal, non-stealthy inflation. But that treasonous traitor Bernanke looked into the best economic stats any of us got and thought to promise two years of negative real rates.

Still not on board, though to be fair, my dovishness has put me outside the sentiment of my hero, Larry Kudlow.

Posted by: jk at August 17, 2011 3:59 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yeah, what HE (Kudlow) said.

Let’s take a quick look at Bernanke’s QE2 record of pump-priming: The dollar fell 12 percent on foreign-exchange markets. The consumer price index jumped over 5 percent at an annual rate. And the $600 billion cheapening of the greenback led to skyrocketing commodity prices, including oil, gasoline, and food. That oil-price shock is one of the principal factors behind the 0.8 percent first-half economic stutter. As a result of the jump in inflation linked to QE2, real consumer incomes slumped badly and consumer spending fell substantially.

TWELVE PERCENT! Naah, gold just hit $1800 because investors are racist sons of bitches.

This Kudlow piece added a few points to my Nominate Perry index.

Posted by: johngalt at August 17, 2011 6:06 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

More practically (that is to say, less wonkishly), businesses faced with a margin squeeze that cannot be passed on will either layoff workers or freeze hiring. Either way, it's not good for unemployment.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 17, 2011 6:30 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Didn't you see one of the big causes? Tobacco. Not even a fifth of Americans smoke, and the industry doesn't quite sell $3 billion a year, yet somehow at the manufacturer level that's a major cause of core inflation.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 17, 2011 11:47 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Shucks, PE, that's an easy one. Personal use is just one market for tobacco products. Much, much more of it is sold to governments for use with mirrors. And haven't you noticed the Stimulus Plan for Smoke and Mirrors since the 2008 elections? Federal consumption is WAAAY up.

Posted by: johngalt at August 18, 2011 3:02 PM

Who writes this stuff?

A local story is a Headline of the Day nominee: Parker dog may be totaled by insurance company

Read more: Parker dog may be totaled by insurance company - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_18691337?obref=obnetwork#ixzz1VJPY6dH3
Read The Denver Post's Terms of Use of its content: http://www.denverpost.com/termsofuse

OK, they're talking about a business in Parker (Denver suburb) called "The Dog" thinks me. Nope.

A Parker woman was devastated when her dog was hit by a minivan last week and the driver's insurance company told her they'd pay for one or two trips to the vet and would then total out her dog.

Farmers' Insurance sent Marcia Pinkstaff a letter stating it would reimburse her for the initial trip to the vet and would consider paying for a follow up exam, but nothing more.

According to KMGH-TV (http://bit.ly/mYGv1u), a spokesman for Farmers said the phrase totaling out is industry jargon and refers to the property damage part of a policy.

Farmers' vice president Jerry Davies says he's sorry about the circumstances because he also has a dog.

Read more: Parker dog may be totaled by insurance company - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_18691337?obref=obnetwork#ixzz1VJPzdb1l
Read The Denver Post's Terms of Use of its content: http://www.denverpost.com/termsofuse

This story is proof that new hiring is taking place in the newspaper business. He's sorry "because he also has a dog?"

[Since I excerpted the entire story I figured I'd better leave the automatically inserted crumb trail text in place for copyright purposes. Readers will kindly advise whether or not it is helpful.]

But jk thinks:

The good trolls at Righthaven, for whom we fear excerpting Denver Post stories, have been getting their coprophagic asses kicked in courts of late.

I am tempted to say the witch is dead. In the words of avowed socialist EY Harburg: "She's not only merely dead, she's really most sincerely dead."

Posted by: jk at August 17, 2011 4:09 PM

Hey Good Lookin' What's your PQ?

UCLA's token conservative PoliSci professor Tim GroseClose has a new book out which examines, using objective measures, how a leftist press has distorted the political views of the American body politic. Called 'Left Turn' it includes a do-it-yourself version of the Political Quotient or PQ test they used to rank individual politicians. A PQ of 100 is completely "left" and 0 is completely "right." I'll caution that the 40-question quiz is time consuming.

Here's your PQ: 7.7

Politicians with similar PQs are:

James DeMint (R-S.C. 1999-2009) PQ=5.1
Newt Gingrich (R-Ga., 1979-94) PQ=11.4
Richard Nixon (R-Calif., 1947-52) PQ=12.5
Lindsay Graham (R-S.C., 1995-2009) PQ=14.9
John McCain (R-Az., 1983-2006, 2009) PQ=15.8
Joe Scarborough (R-Fla., 1995-2000) PQ=16.4

Maybe this makes me "O double seven."

But johngalt thinks:

Heh. Completed the survey clicking "I can't decide" on everything:

Here’s your PQ: 47.8

Politicians with similar PQs are:

Sam Nunn (D-Ga., 1973-96) PQ=39.5
Susan Collins (R-Maine, 1997-2009) PQ=44.2
Olympia Snowe (R-Maine, 1979-2009) PQ=47.9
Arlen Specter (R-Penn., 1981-2008) PQ=50.6
Ben Nelson (D-Neb., 2001-09) PQ=55.6

(Those clowns certainly haven't earned their congressional pensions.)

Posted by: johngalt at August 17, 2011 6:19 PM
But jk thinks:

Maybe we should do it over Skype(r) -- it would be a blast. I think you can easily tell because the application helpfully puts the troglodyte, wingnut loser answer on the bottom. Every click north is the road to serfdom.

Posted by: jk at August 17, 2011 6:26 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

"... clicking "I can't decide" on everything..."

Is that the same as "Voting Present," allowing a person who does this repeatedly to claim to be a mainstream moderate?

Yeah, I didn't think so either.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at August 17, 2011 6:53 PM
But jk thinks:

Sam Nunn was a great statesman and one of the last of the Democrats with integrity.

Posted by: jk at August 17, 2011 7:26 PM
But johngalt thinks:

And yet, assuming he never voted "present" four times out of ten Sam Nunn voted for the road to serfdom.

Posted by: johngalt at August 18, 2011 1:31 AM
But johngalt thinks:

The few extended family members who took the quiz all scored more conservative than I did, making me the most liberal member of my family.

I blame Three Sources.

Posted by: johngalt at August 29, 2011 1:16 AM

Seasteading

Maybe one reason I so enjoyed the movie "Pirate Radio" is a long fascination with Seasteading. Dan Mitchell at CATO discusses an effort by Peter Theil:

Advocates of limited government love to fantasize. But because we're strange people, we don't have ordinary fantasies about supermodels or playing pro baseball. We daydream about a libertarian nirvana, where the rights of individuals are protected, guided by a moral order based on freedom and responsibility, and the leviathan state is forever constrained.

Ayn Rand created a fictional version of this free society in Atlas Shrugged and called it Galt's Gulch. But some advocates of liberty want to turn fiction into reality.

Mitchell includes some serious warnings about escaping the IRS. But it remains an interesting idea.

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 12:52 PM | What do you think? [0]

Otequay of the Ayday

"We had reversed the recession, avoided a depression, gotten the economy moving again," President Obama fantasized on the campaign stump in Iowa. "But over the last six months, we've had a run of bad luck."

Bad luck?

No, not that... this. Robert A. Heinlein via Dr. Milton Wolf, cousin of President Obama:

"Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded - here and there, now and then - are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty. This is known as 'bad luck.' "

It's short. Read it all.

But jk thinks:

With this President in the White House, the Heinlien quote is "Quote of the Quadrennial."

Posted by: jk at August 17, 2011 12:49 PM

Brotherly Love Not Extended to Sisters

Gotta tweak our Keystone Staters. Insty reports:


But jk thinks:

In fairness, two children have been attacked by coyotes right across the highway from me.

Posted by: jk at August 17, 2011 12:31 PM
But johngalt thinks:

The coverage is so slanted around here. They were conservative coyotes.

Posted by: johngalt at August 17, 2011 12:45 PM

You Should Watch

My moonbat left-of-center brother sends me this. I had suggested that our whole family read "Liberty Defined" so we would at last have something to talk about. That bit of filial fun never transpired, but my brother shared this, saying "I think Jon Stewart is dead-on about how Ron Paul is being marginalized."

And Jon Stewart is indeed right. I fear is right out of context. He uses this point to ridicule Republicans and FOX News (though the CNN clip at 8:40 is pretty bad). I am not sure Stewart's (rilly, rilly smart) audience understands some of the subtleties of the GOP race, the Iowa straw poll, and Rep. Paul's mile-deep-foot-wide support.

It's nine minutes of Stewart smarm but I recommend watching. Several lines are truly funny, and -- while we cannot let Stewart pick the GOP nominee -- it's a great chance to see the CW media perception of the candidates.

2012 Posted by John Kranz at 11:08 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

"Pawlenty makes you drowsy" line was funny.
"Moral majorities in a tri-cornered hat" ... not bad. [I was pleased with that post and will keep linking until it gets some comments. Keith?]

Damn, no wonder Ron Paul can't get any traction. "If you get any video of Sarah Palin bring that back to us. You can hold the Ron Paul stuff." Pretty astonishing from a "news" outlet. But with respect, I saw Reloveution activists at work first hand during the '08 Colorado GOP Convention. 4600 of them showing up in Ames doesn't constitute a grassroots groundswell. (14 percent in a nationwide Gallup Poll may be a legitimate showing, however.) If I (and the press) am wrong and he somehow starts to show strength then yeah, I'll consider voting for him. That anti-war isolationism business is becoming more and more popular as our welfare state begins to teeter under its own weight, even with meself. If nothing else maybe we'll put the FED cronies out of business. Couldn't be worse than four years of Barack Obama.

Posted by: johngalt at August 17, 2011 3:41 PM

August 16, 2011

A Triple Win!

"A triple win," is how Biden characterized it.
"It" was a big win for Seattle -- $20 Million in Federal Jack for weatherization and retrofitting. Green Jobs, baby! How's that hopey ch...
But more than a year later, Seattle's numbers are lackluster. As of last week, only three homes had been retrofitted and just 14 new jobs have emerged from the program. Many of the jobs are administrative, and not the entry-level pathways once dreamed of for low-income workers. Some people wonder if the original goals are now achievable.
The President is very concerned that we may not have the money for more of these triple wins.

Hat-tip: Instapundit

Environment Posted by John Kranz at 7:01 PM | What do you think? [4]
But jk thinks:

If the GOP gets their way, we might have to start settling for double wins -- and we're a triple-win country!

Posted by: jk at August 16, 2011 7:09 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Not to be the math geek here, but...

Twenty million dollars, to retrofit three homes over the course of a year... that's six and two-thirds million per home. How much would it have cost to scrape the lots clean and built entirely new, modern homes?

To create just fourteen jobs for a year... that's a million and a half per job.

I take it Biden isn't any better at math than he is at most other intellectual pursuits. Math is hard!

Posted by: Keith Arnold at August 16, 2011 7:32 PM
But jk thinks:

"[S]crape the lots clean and built entirely new, modern homes" does not sound very environmentally friendly to me.

Posted by: jk at August 16, 2011 7:50 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

More economically-friendly that what they did, though, and odds are, not all that much harsher on the environment.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at August 17, 2011 12:10 AM

Singing the Praises of Social Conservatism

A while back I slammed GOP candidate Rick Perry for the overtness of his atavistic religiosity. My dear maw-in-law has been sharing some pro-Perry poop that included this Agnostics for Perry blog by Roger L. Simon.

Call him a cowboy, call him a Christer, but this man is a passionate American and a passionate American is exactly what we need right now. And that kind of person, I am sad to admit, is unlikely to come from the ranks of the agnostic and the secular. It will come from the ranks of the religious, those who have faith. That's just the way it is now.

But I will try to reassure my fellow agnostics with this. We are not nearly as far from religious people as we think. Though we may brood on the timing and veracity of the Big Bang, speculate on Einstein's unified field theory (if we can understand it), debate St. Anselm in our heads or just throw up our hands and say the whole question is above our job description, when it comes to the way we actually live, our values, most of us do just as our religious brothers and sisters do. Like them we are products of the Judeo-Christian tradition and we live by the Ten Commandments -- or try to.

So ease off on the PDS and don't be scared of Rick Perry. If someone's wearing their faith on their sleeve, maybe that's a good thing.

I believe I've shown over the past few years an enlightened respect for my faith-based brothers and sisters. But I don't think I've yet expressed the distinction I draw between religion believers and religion purveyors. Too many in the latter camp are motivated by the same sort of contempt for the values and choices of others that afflicts the ranks of the World Socialists. When it comes to laissez faire, in life or in business, both are equally incompatible with liberty.

So when a godly person seeks political office to reduce the influence of government on people's lives I'm there to cheer her on, but if he does so using the faith rhetoric of "sacrifice" and "sin" I get very, very nervous, to the point of mistrust. This is the difference I see between candidates Bachmann and Perry. A further comparison of these two leaves her looking at least as much like Reagan as does Perry, at least by my estimation.

2012 Posted by JohnGalt at 4:06 PM | What do you think? [2]
But nanobrewer thinks:


I think a lot of the over religiosity seen recently by both RP and MB are "primary" jukes, designed as much to differentiate themselves from the crowd. My reading of the Governor's record is nothing like the bible-thumper who's been recently in the news, and the little I've seen of the Congresswoman also leans that way.

Now, her vote against the debt ceiling bill appeared to be self-serving politics, and her weak followup explanations support this, IMO.

P.S.: I don't openly tout my faith here (nor will I now), but bring it up to say as a committed follower, I've sensed no disrespect from JG.

Posted by: nanobrewer at August 18, 2011 12:46 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Thanks for commenting nb. I spent a lot of brain sweat on this post and appreciate the engagement. I hope you're right about Governor Perry's motivations since I'm warming up to him quickly (as he co-opts Ron Paul's signature issue.)

And for your vote of faith friendliness you are also invited to the 3Srcs Beer Summit, if we actually schedule it. [But you'd have been invited anyway.]

Posted by: johngalt at August 18, 2011 3:26 PM

The Obama Bus Tour in 24 Seconds

Stolen from an Instapundit reader. But this is too good:


Meanwhile, in Buffy News

Blog friend Sugarchuck sends a link to Marti Noxon's fave comedy horror picks.

That's good Buffy news in itself, but scroll down and you'll see a trailer for "Cabin in the Woods."

Joss Whedon co-wrote this with the supertalented Drew Goddard (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Cloverfield), who also directed. Produced by the long-troubled MGM, this one fell between the cracks and ended up on the shelf. Fortunately, Lionsgate picked it up, and it has an April 2012 release date. A group of teens go into a cabin in the woods to party--I don't need to tell you that's a bad idea. But in classic Whedonesque style, this movie doesn't just have fun with the genre, it blows it up. Deconstruction is kid stuff--this one delves deep into the psychology behind the universal need to confront evil. The turns it takes are pretty mind-boggling, and the end of the movie is truly demented. You'll still be laughing, but nervously.

Looking forward to April.

Television Posted by John Kranz at 12:12 PM | What do you think? [0]

Is The Field Set?

According to the Weekly Standard:


Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan is strongly considering a run for president. Ryan, who has been quietly meeting with political strategists to discuss a bid over the past three months, is on vacation in Colorado discussing a prospective run with his family. Ryan's concerns about the effects of a presidential campaign -- and perhaps a presidency -- on his family have been his primary focus as he thinks through his political future.

I know that jk isn't totally on board for a Paul Ryan nomination. I will also admit that the "Ryan budget" would be a great deal of political fodder for the left -- even if undeservedly so. However, a Ryan run would be a net positive for Republicans. There is no candidate who can articulate the issues like Ryan. His presence in the Republican debates would increase the level of discourse and also help to explain -- in plain English -- the problems that the U.S. faces to prospective voters. I'm hoping he runs, regardless of the nomination.

2012 Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 11:56 AM | What do you think? [4]
But jk thinks:

No, I called jk this morning on the special ThreeSources satellite link and he says he's okay with it.

His earlier concern was that Chairman Ryan's wonky delivery might actually not be the most effective presentation of "the Ryan Plan." But seeing the present development of the field, jk says he is all in for the Wisconsin Wonk.

(BTW, he asked if anybody is headed out to the compound to pick up some Cheez-Whiz and a pack of Winstons.)

Posted by: jk at August 16, 2011 12:09 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Ryan would be welcome, but he'd be better as a running mate, treasury secretary or head of the OMB.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 16, 2011 6:26 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I worry that running against Ryan would make Obama look like a wizened statesman. "The entire GOP is out to get Obama and the best they could put up against him was this?"

Posted by: johngalt at August 17, 2011 12:35 AM
But jk thinks:

Perception is a funny animal. I think Chairman Ryan would lose by 50 electoral votes because of mediscare commercials, but that he would DEVASTATE the President in a debate. They'd have to call it early out of human decency.

Posted by: jk at August 17, 2011 6:35 PM

August 15, 2011

Is the Tea Party Dead?

Harry Reid apparently thinks the Tea Party is dead (or at least dying). Memo to Harry and the Dems: the Tea Party is not an entity. The Tea Party is a forum in which like-minded people come together to express their views on fundamental freedom and liberty. It resembles a party only to the extent that people like to get together and have a good time. As long as there's a First Amendment, there will be a Tea Party by one name or another. The ideas of freedom and liberty will never fade away.

Tea Party Posted by Boulder Refugee at 9:44 PM | What do you think? [0]

Meanwhile, in Buffy News

Actually, Angel/Firefly/Dollhouse News: Summer Glau is starring in Keith Urban's "Long Hot Summer" video.

I find it to be a punchline-less beer commercial that never ends, but Ms. Glau is unsurprisingly fetching.

Television Posted by John Kranz at 5:54 PM | What do you think? [9]
But jk thinks:

I'll put you down as a no, then.

Brother jg has been known to take up the mantle of Contemporary Country music. I was waiting for him to point out the subtleties I was missing.

Posted by: jk at August 16, 2011 3:03 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Ahem. Well, let me say this about Keith Urban - he sucks. Urban is an example of Country's revenue-motivated pop crossover going too far. Nope, give me Trace Adkins or Toby Keith instead.

Trace's latest Just Fishin' [video at bottom of page] is a tear jerker for fathers of daughters.

Posted by: johngalt at August 16, 2011 4:00 PM
But jk thinks:

Not feelin' the Keith Urban love today...

Posted by: jk at August 16, 2011 4:10 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Well, I guess that makes me a big-tent, inclusive country music fan, because I have room for both Trace Adkins and Keith Urban. Like 'em both. A lot.

Like Trace's economic stance, too: http://www.traceadkins.com/wired/2011/08/11/trace-adkins-on-americas-business-model-it-doesnt-make-sense/

Posted by: Keith Arnold at August 16, 2011 4:25 PM
But jk thinks:

Love a big tent! If we're going to remove Lady Gaga from power, the jazz guys, klezmer fans, and Contemporary Country folk will need to remain united.

Seriously, I'm glad somebody piped up for Mister Handsome, but I am forced to ask a tough question: do you like this particular song?

Posted by: jk at August 16, 2011 5:22 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

If by Mister Handsome you mean Keith Urban, yeah, I like this song, but I prefer Without You. If by Mister Handsome you mean Trace Adkins, then yeah, I enjoy Just Fishin', and like Songs About Me, Muddy Water, and Ladies Love Country Boys.

As for the big tent and Lady Gaga, I will borrow liberally from Olson Johnson in that classic American drama, Blazing Saddles: "All right - we'll give some land to the jazz guys, the klezmer fans, and the contemporary country folk - but we don't want the boy bands!... Aw, heck. Everybody (except the Bieber fans)!"

Posted by: Keith Arnold at August 16, 2011 5:56 PM

Somebody say Word of the Day?

Barely safe-for work: coprophagic. Use it in a paragraph, James Lileks:

No doubt the advertisers will say they don't care if you hate it, as long as you remember it, but that seems a bit short-sighted. Yes, I remember it, and will ever thus associate you with coprophagic child-molesters. Well, great! Mission accomplished.

I think Mr. Lileks is a little grouchy on this one. A one-off, or the product of prolonged exposure to talk-radio?

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 2:44 PM | What do you think? [0]

Quote of the Day

"There are people here with nothing," this rioter continued: nothing, that is, except an education that has cost $80,000, a roof over their head, clothes on their back and shoes on their feet, food in their stomachs, a cellphone, a flat-screen TV, a refrigerator, an electric stove, heating and lighting, hot and cold running water, a guaranteed income, free medical care, and all of the same for any of the children that they might care to propagate. -- Theodore Dalrymple
Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 12:34 PM | What do you think? [1]
But dagny thinks:

I highly recommend Mr. Dalrymple's book, "Life at the Bottom."

Posted by: dagny at August 15, 2011 6:42 PM

Sidewalk Art of the...Forever

Seen in New York City -- not near NYU, with its longstanding program in Austrian economics, but uptown near Columbia University, at 112th Street and Broadway -- a sidewalk portrait of F. A. Hayek -- David Boaz

Hat-tip: Instapundit

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 11:35 AM | What do you think? [0]

August 14, 2011

Review Corner

<bullwinkle voice>Welcome, Poetry Lovers...</bullwinkle voice>

First up is a proper review corner for Thomas Woods's 33 Questions About American History You're Not Supposed to Ask. Brother nb linked to Woods a few weeks ago and we discussed his appearance on Stossel.

I ended up grabbing his book and I am certain that any ThreeSourcer would dig it mightily. Woods strips away the PC version of American History, trashing shibboleths like the environmentalism of indigenous peoples, FDR's economic chops, radicalism of nullification and states rights, the importance of unions and progressive legislation to improve working conditions, &c.

I guess my favorite thing about it is that I was challenged from the wingnut side. Woods goes A LOT farther than I would on some of his answers. To give an example I must offer a painfully uncontextual paraphrase: Against the Federalization that accompanied the Civil War, the destruction of States Rights and creation of a modern nation state are presented as culpable for the 20th Century wars. Slavery was not only not the cause of what Brother Keith calls "The War of Northern Aggression," it seems to be too low on the list to bear inclusion, based on Lincoln's lack of dedication to emancipation and multiple Northern examples of racism and acceptance.

Yet, these are perfect examples of the value of the book. Woods presents a "book of questions." While I might quibble with some answers, the author is dead-on that these questions are not -- cannot -- be asked in a history class today. I thought of the Simpsons episode: Apu is getting his citizenship, and taking a test. The official asks the cause of the Civil War. Our favorite accented Slushee® purveyor launches into a nuanced disquisition of the place of tariffs in an agrarian economy versus the industrialized North -- the tester interrupts and says "Just say 'Slavery!'"

Four stars fer sure.

Next, a premature, advance review corner, for what I'm guessing is a future five star. I was not going to read David Mamet's The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture also discussed on these pages. It's a polemic, thoughts me, I'd rather read history or economics or something.

A "Kindle Sample" changed my tune -- I am enthralled at his eloquence, devotion to reason, and the scope of his reading. I'm going to tease the choir with the introduction to Chapter 8, The Red Sea:

There is another possible interpretation of the parting of the sea by Moses.

Rather than intervening to create a path in a unitary substance, it could be said that he demonstrated that freedom lay in the ability to see distinctions; that is, that life could be seen as divisible into good and evil; moral and immoral; sacred and profane; permitted and forbidden--that the seemingly unitary "sea" of human behavior and ambition could actually be divided. A slave is not permitted to make these distinctions. All of his behavior is circumscribed by the will of his master. The necessity of making distinctions is the essence of freedom, where one not only can but must choose.

This revelation of the long-denied, long-lost necessity was, to the escaping Jews, something of a miracle, inspiring awe, fear, and an attendant shame--shame that they had submitted to enslavement, and shame that they had forgotten the essence of freedom so completely that its possibility seemed to them supernatural. Moses told the Jews to look back at the pursuing army, and said, "Those Egyptians you see today you will never see again"-- that is, they would be freed from not only the fact but the shame of slavery as soon as they recognized in themselves the possibility of choice


I'd say it is purdy good...

[Mamet, David (2011-06-02). The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture (Kindle Locations 735-744). Sentinel. Kindle Edition.]

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 8:06 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

Parting of the Red Sea = Red Pill/Blue Pill. I like it.

Posted by: johngalt at August 15, 2011 3:00 PM
But Lisa M thinks:

Just added to my kindle wish list...will plunge in right after I finish A Feast for Crows, A Dance with Dragons, and Steyn's "After America". In that order.

Posted by: Lisa M at August 19, 2011 9:27 AM

So, what about Santorum, Cain, Huntsman and McCotter?

Pawlenty Drops Out of Presidential Race After Disappointing Straw Poll Finish

2012%20Iowa%20Staw%20Poll.jpg

As a parting gift I will give props to T-Paw for one of the great lines of the primary season: "We know what America needs but unfortunately, Barack Obama has absolutely no clue. He is like a manure spreader in a windstorm."

Maybe it's only because I've used a manure spreader and can imagine doing it in a windstorm but I think that line should be co-opted by the rest of the field - at least in rural states.

2012 Posted by JohnGalt at 11:33 AM | What do you think? [11]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

JK, there's plenty of time for all of us to switch ponies between now and convention time, and The Refugee reserves the right to do so.

The Refugee is increasingly impressed with Bachmann for many reasons, but having original, insightful solutions to difficult problems is not among them. She is principled in her stands, which makes here a reliable vote for The Good Guys - an endearing quality in the House. Unfortunately, she is little more than a talking-points candidate. Pawlenty's critique of her inexperience and lack of signature achievement is spot-on. The Refugee fears that a Bachmann nomination could be a [Colorado Republican gubanatorial candidate] Dan Maes redux on a national level with Donald Trump playing the part of Tom Tancredo.

The Refugee now looks forward to getting an ear-full from JG.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 15, 2011 12:06 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I gots no crystal ball. And I've been pondering a link to the story on Bachmann's straw poll victory that included lots of social conservative pablum as a sort-of "uh oh." As I said, I'd prefer John Bolton but acknowledge he's sort of an egghead's egghead.

I'll keep trying to highlight the plusses and minuses of all the candidates and understand that a few tens of thousands of GOP activists in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina are likely to make the decision for we denizens of flyover country. Fortunately, this time, John McCain and Mike Huckabee ain't runnin'.

Posted by: johngalt at August 15, 2011 3:16 PM
But jk thinks:

Hrrrrm. I think you are right. While none of the 2012 candidates wow me, none scare me. I'd put any one of their bumper stickers on my car.

But are we giving Gov. Romney a pass? I voted for McCain to block him in 2008.

Posted by: jk at August 15, 2011 3:28 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Interestin'. I was strongly for Romney in '08 but deeply disinterested in him now. At the same time the bar has been both raised and lowered. Raised by the change in the national debate brought about by the TEA Party; lowered by the depth of depravity of the opponent.

My greatest fear in defeating Obama is the possibility of getting a RINO that doesn't materially dismantle at least part of the government juggernaut. "See, things are no better with a Republican president." America really does need what leftist Kevin Drum calls, "the dumbest, toughest, meanest, godliest sonofabitch in the field." Well, maybe not godliest.

Posted by: johngalt at August 15, 2011 3:39 PM
But jk thinks:

Drum's come out for Perry? That was unexpected...

Posted by: jk at August 15, 2011 3:44 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Perry is saying all of the right things about dismantling government, but his record is a bit more checkered. Nevertheless, he currently seems to be the best hope in that regard. If or how he worships is not important, but if he says something like, "This is what God wants me to do," then even The Refugee will cringe.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 15, 2011 3:55 PM

First Amendment "Right" to Cell Service

"The idea that we're going to keep people from talking about what they might or might not do, based on the idea that they might all agree to violate the law, is positively Orwellian," he said.

So ends a story on Bay Area Rapid Transit's (BART) decision to temporarily suspend cell repeater service in underground train stations to help thwart a planned flashmob protesting a shooting by Transit Police.

The decision was made after agency officials saw details about the protest on an organizer's website.

OK, what's wrong with that? Lynette Sweet of BART's Board of Directors explains:

"It was almost like an afterthought," Sweet told The Associated Press. "This is a land of free speech and for us to think we can do that shows we've grown well beyond the business of what we're supposed to be doing and that's providing transportation. Not censorship."

Does Ms. Sweet not realize that the phone equipment is owned and operated by BART as a convenience to riders and is beyond the auspices of "transportation?" Does she not see the parallel between disabling a local communications node and setting traffic signals to blink 4-way red? Would she prefer that the fully predictable mob form and become unruly and then see the tear gas and rubber bullets? (Well, maybe not in SF but you get my point.) No, Sweet and her ilk see this as analgous to the Arab Spring.

"BART officials are showing themselves to be of a mind with the former president of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak," the Electronic Frontier Foundation said on its website. Echoing that comparison, vigorous weekend discussion on Twitter was labeled with the hashtag "muBARTek."

People, please. How long until you compare them to Hitler? And what would the same people have said if this "political protest" led to injuries or damage? Anti-authority rallies are loads of fun until someone gets an eye put out.


Equal time for moms

It's not Mother's Day but in equal time (actually double the time) for the Dad Life video, here is Church on the Move's Mommy Rhapsody. They've coordinated it pretty well to the original lyrics.

I wonder if any of the participants noticed the irony of a morality play based on a song entitled 'Bohemian Rhapsody.'

Humor Posted by JohnGalt at 9:46 AM | What do you think? [2]
But jk thinks:

As Sir Lancelot yelled at King Arthur, as he rode off, right after entrusting him with the key to Guinevere's chastity belt:

"Sir! I believe you left the wrong [embed] key!!!"

Posted by: jk at August 14, 2011 11:22 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Noted and corrected squire.

Posted by: johngalt at August 14, 2011 11:53 AM

August 13, 2011

Vaulting in Denver

At the National Western Arena. It's FREE. It's NOW.

A bit belated but here's your notice of the gymnastics on horseback show in Denver this weekend. Saturday and Sunday events are the most exciting. A schedule can be found here.

And for a bit more publicity than these pages it was mentioned in the Denver Post.

For the shameless self-promotion part, my eldest daughter won first place in her freestyle class, one of our trot pairs won first place and our Pas de Deux (also a pairs class) entry took second (Reserve Champion) in an internationally recognized event. Woo hoo!

But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Congratulations to the entire JG/Dagny clan!

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 15, 2011 12:09 PM
But jk thinks:

Indeed!

Posted by: jk at August 15, 2011 12:24 PM

NewtZilla not dead yet

Still haven't watched any of the debate but courtesy of a Newt fundraising email comes this popular moment.

Like the vanquished candidate Dole I'm really liking the excommunicated Newt. He clearly knows what he's supposed to believe and maybe, just maybe, he's beginning to actually believe it.

2012 Posted by JohnGalt at 1:51 PM | What do you think? [2]
But jk thinks:

I watched every fun filled minute and still have it on the TiVo if you want to bring popcorn (this one actually was pretty entertaining). And Mister Speaker was awesome. Every time he spoke it was like that. Can't quite hop back on the Newt Express at this point, but he showed the weakness of the rest of the field.

Can one imagine for a minute some topic that would animate Governor Romney to that? Moisturizer?

Posted by: jk at August 14, 2011 11:15 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Romney seems to think he's the frontrunner and doesn't need to enter the fray in earnest until the field thins a bit. Don't be the hare, governor. That tortoise from Minnesota is very telegenic.

Posted by: johngalt at August 14, 2011 12:04 PM

August 12, 2011

Oh. My.

Quick, click to Reason for the antidote video. Before it's too late.

Posted by John Kranz at 5:47 PM | What do you think? [4]
But Lisa M thinks:

I think this is child abuse. There is nothing quite so disturbing to me as children being exploited for liberal political gains.

Posted by: Lisa M at August 12, 2011 7:10 PM
But jk thinks:

Exploited? You do not believe these children wake up everyday hoping to increase marginal tax rates?

Posted by: jk at August 12, 2011 7:12 PM
But Lisa M thinks:

The marginal tax rates, the right to organize, taxing the rich and ending the Bush tax cuts, stop recognizing corporations as people....I was buying the sincerity of all of that, because after all, why wouldn't these kids understand the consequences of these complex issues?

No, the dancing at the end was simply cruel. Capturing that on film and then putting it out on YouTube when not a single one of those kids has even the tiniest bit of rythym? Think of bullying that they are going to be subjected to? Where are the parents?

Posted by: Lisa M at August 12, 2011 9:21 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I just cannot express my seething hatred for the parents who not only believe those LIES, but set up their children as sympathetic puppets.

To hell with every one of those parents. I don't blame these children. None of them know a damn thing about what they're talking about.

For all his failings, my father taught me to work hard for myself and not leech off others.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 13, 2011 3:51 PM

Gigot on Bachmann

It's a small man who hides behind other's words and opinions, but -- oh, hell, nobody expects better of me!

Paul Gigot takes some whacks at the Congresswoman from Minnesota in the platinum ensemble (the fashion whacks are mine):

Ms. Bachmann held her own in the scrum, but Mr. Pawlenty and former Sen. Rick Santorum scored by noting her gift for "showmanship not leadership." Her admirers like her willingness to fight, but her claim that the Standard & Poor's downgrade of U.S. debt vindicated her refusal to vote for a debt-ceiling increase illustrates why voters will never trust her with the White House and I doubt even the nomination.

Had Republicans forced a post-Aug. 2 shutdown of government services and risked default, Moody's and Fitch would have joined S&P in downgrading U.S. debt. Either Ms. Bachmann knows this, in which case she is merely playing to the talk radio GOP base. Or she doesn't know it, which makes her unready to be president. The Romney camp is hoping she wins the straw poll and the caucuses next year because it will make its road to the nomination easier. Her main achievement in the end may be to fatally wound Mr. Pawlenty.


She was trending lower for me and did herself no favors last night.

My blog brother applauds her for not making social issues the center of her campaign. I agree and cheer along, but they remain pretty prominent. She voted for (was it cap-and-trade?) because it had an anti-abortion amendment, she is proud to have introduced state versions of DOMA, and I remain convinced a large cache of importune YouTube videos await her nomination.

I cannot know the YouTubes for certain though I did see one which has met an Orwellian airbrushing somewhere and I expect oppo folks have pretty good amounts of cache. Mostly, it is the WSJ/Kudlow concern that her willingness to go all in with a weak hand appeals to some but should be considered for its recklessness.

2012 Posted by John Kranz at 3:37 PM | What do you think? [3]
But nanobrewer thinks:

And even if Kudlow & friends' worst predictions on her economic acumen are massive misunderestimations, she's a giant compared to the crop that regularly gathers, at our expense, at 1700 Pennsylvania Ave.

Hell, I'd consider her a Brobdingnagian when up against brown-nose Bernanke and the Czar-klatch, and I haven't even started digging into her background.

Posted by: nanobrewer at August 13, 2011 1:01 AM
But jk thinks:

Time! It's primary season, a glorious and magical time when we stretch our dreams and imagine candidates and leaders so much better than those awful Lilliputians we'll be stuck with.

If Rep. Bachmann is the candidate, I will do all I can to elect her. As the field is still open, I am hoping that I am not asked to drink of that cup. Huntsman! Huntsman! I'm the only guy in the world excited about Gov. Huntsman!

Posted by: jk at August 13, 2011 11:01 AM
But johngalt thinks:

And today's word of the day winner is...

Awesome comment nb. I thoroughly agree ... but ... the world is not Threesources. I share Gigot's concern over her judgement and br'er jk's concern over her social issues tunnel vision. Not because I think they define her but because they are so easily exploited by political adversaries.

And yet, any candidate can be assailed in some way. JFK's faith was thought to be a fatal flaw but he was elected in spite of it. In the plus column Mrs. Bachmann has something going for her that none* of the other candidates can claim: She's not a white guy.

*None who have shown a capacity to poll into the double digits. I believe Hermain Cain's "fatal flaw" is his obvious "Southernness."

I still favor Michele but not in the full-throated, unqualified way I might endorse a late entrant to the contest like John Bolton. His way with words is the American equivalent of Mark Steyn yet his vocuabulary is accessible to the masses. He supports the principles of the TEA Party (liberty, prosperity, small government) and of King Leonidas, without a single appeal to scripture, a deity or the afterlife.

Posted by: johngalt at August 13, 2011 11:44 AM

On a Roll

James Pethokoukis is sharing quotes from the 11th Circuit opinion on Obamacare® via Twitter:

Good stuff!

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 3:26 PM | What do you think? [0]

Quote of the Day

It really helps to know what you believe and why you believe it. I listen to Michele Bachmann and sometimes, while I'm sure she knows what she believes, I'm not always sure she knows why she believes it. I listen to Mitt Romney and to a lesser extent Tim Pawlenty, and I hear men who know what they're supposed to believe and why, but I'm not sure they actually believe it. -- Jonah Goldberg (Goldberg File Email, sign up)
2012 Posted by John Kranz at 1:00 PM | What do you think? [1]
But nanobrewer thinks:

I think that not even the vaunted RR would satisfy today's bunch of electron-spewing talking heads, spin-meisters and "pundints" [sic].

A showman? Surely. Simple? You bet. Too hooked to high-falutin' abstractions and overly religious? Spot on, baby.

Posted by: nanobrewer at August 13, 2011 12:49 AM

Ayn Rand, Call Your Office

Not the Onion, the Wall Street Journal, brings news that Department of Labor Assistant Secretary Phyllis Borzi, who runs the Employee Benefits Security Administration is pushing a rule -- on zero evidence of malfeasance -- to restrict investment advice to investors.

The rule would have huge consequences for the retirement savings industry. Brokers would have to weigh the cost of higher regulatory compliance against staying in the business. Investors would pay more for trades and advice and have fewer investment choices. Investment educational seminars would likely halt in many cases, lest organizers think they'll be held liable as a fiduciary for giving general investment advice.

Many firms would raise minimum investment amounts to cover their higher costs, cutting off access to lower-income savers. Consultancy Oliver Wyman surveyed about 40% of the investment retirement account market and estimated the proposed rule could "eliminate access to meaningful investment services for over seven million IRAs." Investors could see "direct costs" rise between 75% and 195%.


Clearly, my Schwab guy might try to advise me to buy a Schwab ETF someday, so it is best that I have no access to advice ever.

We're from the Government and we're here to help!


Jon!

I hope ThreeSourcers are all sitting down. My contrarian stripes are peeking through my Heather Grey Carhartt Men's Shortsleeve Workwear Henley (XLT).

I think I may be a Huntsman Guy. He had a nuanced position on gay rights (civil unions okay) and was correct to call out Rep. Bachmann on her willingness to play games with the full faith & credit versus a compromise to divided government. (Speaker G was very effective on that as well but that bridge lays in ashes over the ethanol fields of Iowa).

So he is a social moderate. I am concerned that he may be too much a fiscal moderate but have zero evidence to back up that claim. The rest of 'em, well I could settle for about any of them in a pinch, but the rest fail to excite and begin to annoy.

Intriguing in that he raised no buzz at all. Nobody in Ames cheered him, no bloggers (save yours truly) have taken the mantle, and all the Twitter buzz was about T-Paw, Michelle and Governor Romney. No worries, I'm also the only guy in Denver who likes Kyle Orton.

Jon, Jon, he's our man...!

2012 Posted by John Kranz at 10:07 AM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

In a family email thread I suggested the following template for a Michele Bachmann running mate. Huntsman seems to fit the description:

For running mate she should pick a non-controversial white guy, sorta like Obama did with Biden. Someone to make the ticket look less exotic. It really doesn’t matter who he is. All he has to do is attend state funerals.

To put this in context, I had previously described how the running mate's ideas don't really shape the candidate's:

The idea that a VP candidate causes the P candidate to meld her ideas into his own is faulty. Look at McCain and Palin. I still like Bachmann the best. She is religious enough to please the evangelical right but, so far, hasn’t made it a central issue in the campaign like Perry is doing. She needs to keep it that way to not drive off the unaffiliated voters. That is the danger, not that she is a woman. Being a woman is in the plus column because it will assuage the guilt of liberals and moderates who would otherwise feel bad voting against the black guy.
Posted by: johngalt at August 12, 2011 3:21 PM
But jk thinks:

I think Huntsman's Mormon faith will fail to make the ticket less exotic. I fear he comes across as "weird," which is the exact cannon the Axelrodians have loaded against Governor and LDS-er Romney.

Clearly, the guy you seek is T-Paw, but they would be disallowed Minnesota's electoral votes. (Though I have wondered whether keeping them out of the opponent's column is sometime enough, I have yet to hear anybody agree.)

A tearful rapprochement though, would make for some good TV! "Oh Michelle, you know I didn't mean those things I said..."

Posted by: jk at August 12, 2011 4:01 PM

August 11, 2011

Meanwhile, In Buffy News

I learn that Numfar is actually a Joss Whedon cameo. Betcha didn't know that.

Hat-tip: Joss Whedon Examiner: the 13 Most Hilarious Moments in Angel

Television Posted by John Kranz at 7:06 PM | What do you think? [1]
But Terri thinks:

Fantastic! Thanks for sharing.

Posted by: Terri at August 12, 2011 8:36 AM

My 2012 Scenario

I reserve the right to revise as the election is 15 months away, but I have at long last crafted a plausible and not completely horrific scenario.

The GOP nominates Rep. Michelle Bachmann: a fiery promoter of free markets and limited government. Under her platform and leadership, a large number of tea party candidates are recruited and nominated for Congressional and State races.

Bachmann gets creamed, of course. But the Senate flips, the House holds or slightly expands its gains, and a strong foundation of state houses, governors, and state executives is in place to defend liberty in local settings and lead in the future.

If there is a trifecta to be pulled, it would be credibly tying Bachmann's loss -- not to tea party intransigence -- but to her less-than-contemporary views on gay rights and absolute separation of church and state.

Either that or John Elway steps in at the last minute, wins 45 States and abolishes the FDA at his inauguration ball. But my first scenario looks a bit more credible. I seek a Pyrrhic Loss.

2012 Posted by John Kranz at 3:47 PM | What do you think? [6]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Wow. You covering any action on this outcome? I've got a Benjamin that will take those odds.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 11, 2011 7:31 PM
But jk thinks:

I'll need at least 8-5 on the Elway Scenario...

Posted by: jk at August 11, 2011 8:03 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

I'll give you 100:1.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 11, 2011 10:54 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"... of course ... ?"

I thought you were blog pragmatist, not pessimist. Michele Bachmann is not Sharron Angle.

Posted by: johngalt at August 12, 2011 2:49 PM
But jk thinks:

Sharron Who?

Sorry, man, still pretty negative on the whole field. Unseating an incumbent is difficult and each person I saw last night, except for my man, Gov Huntsman, has severe flaws and will be susceptible to Democratic attacks (more Ken Buck than Sharron Angle).

I did get a whiff of optimism looking at battleground states. President Obama will have his hands full winning Florida, North Carolina and Virginia next year. Ohio should be in play. Maybe. Maybe Maybe.

Posted by: jk at August 12, 2011 2:59 PM
But johngalt thinks:

You know, Sharron the "Hobbit."

Posted by: johngalt at August 13, 2011 1:50 PM

All Hail Harsanyi!

"The Crumbling Cult of Obama"

Jacob Weisberg of Slate wrote that because of "intellectual primitives" on the right, "compromise is dead" and "there's no point trying to explain complicated matters to the American people. The president has tried reasonableness and he has failed."

"Reasonableness," you'll remember, is shoving a wholly partisan, Byzantine restructuring of the health care system through Congress in the midst of an economic downturn. But chipping a few billion off a $3.7 trillion budget in exchange for raising the debt ceiling is an act of irrationality that has, apparently, sucked the very soul from the American project.

Whole great read thing must.

But Terri thinks:

Intellectualprimatives.com anyone?

Posted by: Terri at August 11, 2011 12:22 PM
But jk thinks:

Heh. None of the knuckle draggers I know would be smart enough to spell it...

Posted by: jk at August 11, 2011 1:02 PM

August 10, 2011

Tweet of the Day

@JonahNRO has read his Bastiat!

Honorable mention: @Jewtastic:

Spitzer: "This White House Doesn't Know How To Negotiate" | Irony: Guy who pays $10k for a hooker bragging about 'negotiation' skills.'


A TEA Party for Britain?

JK linked an excellent article on the UK "riots" [scare-quoted since they're more accurately characterized as looting sprees] that revealed the failures of government as protector of property and liberty. But one expects a Libertarian to recognize these realities. What is remarkable is when a self-proclaimed "left-winger" does so. Brendan O'Neill blogs from Great Britain:

This is not a political rebellion; it is a mollycoddled mob, a riotous expression of carelessness for one's own community. And as a left-winger, I refuse to celebrate nihilistic behaviour that has a profoundly negative impact on working people's lives. Far from being an instance of working-class action, the welfare-state mob has more in common with what Marx described as the lumpenproletariat. Indeed, it is worth recalling Marx’s colourful description in The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon of how that French ruler cynically built his power base amongst parts of the bourgeoisie and sections of the lumpenproletariat, so that 'ruined and adventurous offshoots of the bourgeoisie rubbed shoulders with vagabonds, discharged soldiers, discharged jailbirds, swindlers, pickpockets, tricksters, gamblers, brothel-keepers, organ-grinders, ragpickers, knife-grinders, tinkers, beggars... and from this kindred element Boneparte formed the core of his [constituency], where all its members felt the need to benefit themselves at the expense of the labouring nation.' In very different circumstances, we have something similar today -- when the decadent commentariat's siding with lumpen rioters represents a weird coming together of sections of the bourgeoisie with sections of the underworked and the over-flattered, as the rest of us, 'the labouring nation', look on with disdain.

This fraction of English society, 'the laboring nation' as O'Neill applies Marx' term, is what I would call the analog to America's TEA Party. Those Americans are fed up with being taxed to support a free ride in food, lodging, healthcare and pensions in our Euro-style welfare state, and in the wake of the latest wave of English hooliganism a comparable share of Britons are fed up when the lumpenproletariat that their taxes support roll through town and "shit on their own doorstep."

Atlas is shrugging on both sides of the pond.

But Boulder Refugee thinks:

If you look up "lumpenproletariat" in the dictionary, there is a second meaning: "British soccer fan."

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 10, 2011 4:41 PM

Word of the Day

Word of the Day honors must go to Blog Meister JK for his use of "usufruct" in a recent post. The Refugee will confess his total ignorance of the term, but do so in Obamian fashion. That is, he'll blame somebody else: his public school education. The Refugee assumed that it has something to do with a sweetener, such as "high usufructose corn syrup." But no.

From Webster:

Usufruct (n): the legal right of using and enjoying the fruits or profits of something belonging to another

Perhaps using in a sentence will help:

Barney Frank uses his position in Congress to usufruct the nation.

Oh, wait, that's using it as a verb...

Media and Blogging Posted by Boulder Refugee at 3:19 PM | What do you think? [2]
But jk thinks:

Heh. It will sadly see much use in many parts of speech if things do not change.

Posted by: jk at August 10, 2011 4:06 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Remove "usu" and it sounds pretty close to the plain description of what Frank does to the country.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 10, 2011 11:42 PM

Worse Than "The Response"

Reason's Jacob Sullum is delightfully flip about Gov Rick Perry's prayer service, discussed at some length on these pages. "My response to The Response: No, thanks. My people have managed without Jesus for thousands of years. Why start now?"

Good line. And Sullum is quick to upgrade to a more substantive concern: pandering over principle.

In truth, however, I was not terribly insulted at being excluded from Perry's giant church service. Even if I drove on Saturdays, I would not have been thrilled by the idea of a four-hour trip to Houston for seven hours of hymns, prayer, fasting, and repentance. I get enough of that on Yom Kippur.

I was much more offended by the alacrity with which Perry, who is expected to announce his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination next Saturday, abandoned his avowed federalist principles to embrace the legislative agenda of the Christian right. It took less than a week.

"Our friends in New York," Perry told GOP donors in Aspen on July 22, "passed a statute that said marriage can be between two people of the same sex. And you know what? That's New York, and that's their business, and that's fine with me. That is their call. If you believe in the 10th Amendment, stay out of their business."

It soon became clear that Perry, who wrote a book championing federalism, does not really believe in the 10th Amendment. In a July 28 interview, he assured Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, that he supports amending the Constitution to declare that "marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman." So much for letting states define marriage as they see fit.

I still like the idea that some principled defender of liberty will parachute into the 2012 GOP race. But I am becoming more certain that it is not the Governor of Texas.

2012 Posted by John Kranz at 1:29 PM | What do you think? [0]

Good Picks

Don't know what to expect from the sooper-dooper-debt panel, but I will call myself pleased with the GOP picks:

The panel is known as the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction and was established to find $1.5 trillion in additional budget savings over 10 years, but markets have been looking for signs that it may be able to do even more.

Senators Jon Kyl, Rob Portman and Patrick Toomey were selected by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell for inclusion on the high-profile 12-member panel.

House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, the top Republican in Congress, appointed Representatives Dave Camp, Jeb Hensarling and Fred Upton.

Ron Paul was busy?


Dan Mitchell on the Welfare State and UK Riots

I don't want to go all Murray Rothbard on y'all, but it amuses me to no end that the rioters in the UK and recently in Greece are called "anarchists" when in reality they are the expected product of the welfare state. "Amuse" is the wrong word: the dangerously thin veneer of civilization is a deep concern to me. Modernity, liberty, property rights and the division of labor are never adequately protected from Hobbesian Chaos.

Dan Mitchell of CATO expounds on the relation to usufruct as well as the danger of disarming the population.

But what's happening now is not just some left-wing punks engaging in political street theater. Instead, the UK is dealing with a bigger problem of societal decay caused in part by a government's failure to fulfill one of its few legitimate functions: protection of property.

To make matters worse, the political class has disarmed law-abiding people, thus exacerbating the risks. These two photos are a pretty good summary of what this means. On the left, we have Korean entrepreneurs using guns to defend themselves from murdering thugs during the 1992 LA riots. On the right, we have Turkish entrepreneurs reduced to using their fists (and some hidden knives, I hope) to protect themselves in London.

Which group do you think has a better chance of surviving when things spiral out of control?

There are good click-throughs both to a piece he excerpts and his previous remarks on earlier UK violence.

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 12:48 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

My father pointed out to me yesterday that all of the things our goverment has made it illegal for us to do to each other, it does to us. It takes our money, it takes our property, it manufactures currency, and a hundred other things which it is supposedly the only entity with which they may be entrusted. In Britain we see what happens when protection of individual rights becomes a collective enterprise: Failure.

Posted by: johngalt at August 10, 2011 3:37 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

They are not "anarchists."

They are actually the biggest proponents of government, and they all deserve to burn in this life and the next.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 10, 2011 11:43 PM

Volatility Culprit

The DJIA is down 444 as I write this. The lovely bride says it's my fault for voting for George W. Bush. I had almost forgotten...

But AlexC thinks:

I'm really kicking myself for not buying VIX at 16.

Posted by: AlexC at August 10, 2011 12:22 PM
But jk thinks:

Yeah, when Geithner agreed to stay on, we should have all gone long.

Posted by: jk at August 10, 2011 1:14 PM

August 9, 2011

Humanism

Ronald Bailey is digging life at the Alberta Tar Sands:

Later, seven stories up, equipped with earplugs, and clad in bright blue overalls, I marveled at the cascades of black bitumen froth bubbling over the sides of a seperation cell like a giant witch's cauldron. The scale of the enterprise and the sheer ingenuity involved in wresting value and sustenance from the hands of a stingy Mother Nature provoked in me a feeling close to glory.

Yet as I stood at the edge of the mine, I understood that lots of people viewing the same sight would be horrified by it and outraged by my enthusiasm for it. They would, instead, see the pit as a deep wound in the earth, amounting almost to a desecration.

Can I explain myself to those who see mining oil sands as a moral offense? I plead humanism. Modern capitalism and the technology it engenders has lifted a significant proportion of humanity out of our natural state of abject poverty for the first time in history. Even now, depending on the cycles of nature to renew supplies of fuel (in the form of wood and manure) means poverty, disease, and early death for millions.

Ahhh, what's poverty, disease, and early death for millions compared to a big ugly hole in the ground?

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 6:55 PM | What do you think? [0]

Headline of the Day

Give a man a fish, and he'll riot for free fish -- Jim Treacher


I Do Need a New Chair

Television Posted by John Kranz at 1:11 PM | What do you think? [0]

2000 Words

'Cause, it's really two pictures that grace Bill McGurn's editorial today.



Might I Suggest Pb?

LONDON (AP) -- A senior London police officers says it is possible that U.K. authorities will use plastic bullets to quell rioting.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stephen Kavanagh said Tuesday such bullets are "one of tactics" being considered. Plastic bullets have never been used before during British disturbances.


This is happening in the cradle of liberty. Having disarmed their citizenry subjects, the government has proved -- for years -- to be unable to defend people and unwilling to defend property.

I know the news media have had their hands full with the S&P downgrade and market volatility, but this is an important and disturbing story. Both my posts have been flippant, but I think my meaning comes through. Liberty requires rule of law.

UPDATE: Brian Micklethwait of Samizdata is readying his pen and his uncle's cricket bat:

The best thing about these riots is that they have distilled and aggregated the folly of the "let the Police see to it" policy into a large and combined event, and they have done it right next door to where our political class lives. These riots are not confined to Birmingham, or some such second-tier city. They are happening in the backyard of our rulers, even as they hurry back home from Tuscany.

For the last few decades the don't-get-involved, let-Them-handle-it policy has applied only to more isolated crimes, or to riots only way beyond our capital city, which has meant that its doomed nature has impacted only upon those individuals or local populations attacked by criminals, not on the nation as a whole as perceived and lived in by those ruling it. Now our rulers can see this policy in vividly dramatic "action" (i.e. inaction), live on TV, and near enough to where they live for them to be scared, along with everyone else. And the rest of us will see them turning into the kind of vengeful right wing monsters they despise, as soon as their own houses are attacked. Which they well might be.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:07 AM | What do you think? [3]
But johngalt thinks:

When cricket bats are outlawed, only outlaws will have cricket bats.

Posted by: johngalt at August 9, 2011 1:57 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

In his "Live at the Met" performance, Robin Williams said about Britain that criminals don't have guns, and police don't have guns. So police say, "Stop! Or I'll stay 'stop' again!"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8N1Hz2_gdh4

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 9, 2011 5:17 PM
But jk thinks:

I dunno, man, Mister Williams lost me. You quoted the seven best seconds of 4:24.

Posted by: jk at August 9, 2011 5:34 PM

The Hero of Canton!

Stealing Jim Geraghty's Tweet-of--the-day today:

@AdamSBaldwin

But johngalt thinks:

Yay Jayne!

Posted by: johngalt at August 9, 2011 1:59 PM
But jk thinks:

Gotta love Netflix. Just watched Jaynestown. Great stuff!

Posted by: jk at August 9, 2011 10:27 PM

Uncivil, unethical, or just plain stupid?

Taranto's Best of the Web blog has wonderfully chronicled the Collapse of the Obama cult and its desperate, unhinged and ever more vitriolic quest to find a villian at which to blame all of BHO's woes (appears that even the Tea Party isn't enough). Here is a classic example of the insular arrogance that typifies so many of the Obamolgists, with 39 comments all ripping this facade into tatters.

To complete the marvelous metaphor, Harrop had whacked all the comments and locked down the thread to prohibit any more of that uncivil behavior. How dare they speak their tiny minds, much less use them! Luckily for all of us - tho' perhaps not rib cages fragile enough to sustain damage from sustained hilarity - Morrissey captured it for eternity.

I'm fairly shocked that so many intelligent, reasonable and informed people actually read her. Comment #11 was my favorite of which this is but a taste:

If you lack the ability to understand the "civility" you champion then you most likely lack the ability to understand the economic stances you have taken.

The other possibility is that you lack ethics. This presupposes that you DO understand ethics. That while you preach that others should be civil in their writings you do not expect to apply these standards to yourself.

oohhh, I need a cigarette.

Posted by nanobrewer at 12:58 AM | What do you think? [1]
But nanobrewer thinks:

Comment #15:
"I guess this means that if we balance the budget, the terrorists win."

Ribs cracking... can't take it....someone stop me...

Posted by: nanobrewer at August 9, 2011 1:20 AM

August 8, 2011

Facebook thought of the Day

Wonders if the reason the US is so happy about the possibility of finding life on Mars is so we can borrow money from them... . . . . . . . . . . . just thinkin' OUT LOUD... -- My buddy, Tom
Posted by John Kranz at 6:41 PM | What do you think? [1]
But Keith Arnold thinks:

"Here's how it is: The economy of Earth got used up, so we moved out and terraformed a whole new galaxy of Earths. Some rich and flush with the new capital, some not so much. The Central Planners, them as formed the Alliance, waged war to bring everyone under their rule; a few idiots tried to fight it, among them myself..."

- Capt. Mal Reynolds, prophet (with apologies to Joss Whedon)

Posted by: Keith Arnold at August 8, 2011 7:00 PM

Interstin...


Posted by John Kranz at 6:07 PM | What do you think? [2]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Perhaps better than a BBA.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 9, 2011 2:55 PM
But jk thinks:

Methinks it is.

Must share with the choir: I put this on a facebook thread (I did not start it) where a moonb -- I mean, left-of-center friend was seriously discussing the merits of a BBA. One of his friends posts: "John-I believe that was called the Articles of Confederation-how'd that work for us?"

Yeah, I so fear this decentralization of government is getting so out of hand -- we'll deeply regret it soon.

Posted by: jk at August 9, 2011 3:13 PM

The Last Word on the Downgrade

Someday, this will no longer amuse. I fear the time is near. But, today...

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 5:16 PM | What do you think? [2]
But Terri thinks:

Today is not that day.

Posted by: Terri at August 8, 2011 5:44 PM
But jk thinks:

Certainly not.

Posted by: jk at August 8, 2011 5:48 PM

Quote of the Day II

(I get one for every 300 points the DJIA drops.)

The trouble is that because he is an ineffective leader--inexperienced, inflexible, committed to rotten ideas--his Good side does not inspire confidence and his Bad side does not inspire fear. (That's not to say Obama doesn't scare the hell out of people. But one fears him the way one would fear an 8-year-old behind the wheel of a large automobile.) -- James Taranto


Quote of the Day

3. The left in America, as exemplified by Obama's vapid press statement, has no serious intention of addressing this problem. The President has failed to present any sort of plan. His budget early in the year was a business-as-usual document with no reforms and even the Democratic-controlled Senate rejected it 97-0. But while Senate Democrats joined Republicans in deep-sixing Obama's joke budget, they have failed to produce a budget of their own for more than two years. -- Dan Mitchell ay CATO

They're mad as hell and aren't going to take it anymore

"They" are looters, moochers, Democrats, RINOs.

The recent debt deal was received with "cries of impotent rage by the British Left" according to the UK Telegraph. And I postulated the sentiment was shared by leftists world wide. Yesterday I met that impotent rage face to face.

The grandmother of a riding student visited Atlantis yesterday and after she made a remark about "paying taxes on it" about something I replied, "I was thinking the same thing but didn't want to say it since people have differing opinions on taxes. Some people think we should pay higher taxes and be happy about it."

"Don't tell me you're one of those Tea Partiers," she spit.

"Nope. Not me. Not if you ask me like that I'm not."

That was the end of the conversation as I was loathe to argue with a customer and we went our separate ways but I wished I had also asked, "If your granddaughter earns a blue ribbon in her riding competition should she be happy if the local sheriff cuts off the top half and distributes it to other competitors and non-competitors alike?"

I also considered saying, "Oh no, I can't stand those Tea Party people. They're so darned moderate. They think some taxation is good." But as I said, loathe to argue with a customer.

Tea Party Posted by JohnGalt at 3:47 PM | What do you think? [7]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

The Refugee applauds JG for understanding a fundamental of marketing that so many miss: members of both parties buy the same goods and services. The cash from granny, no matter how loony she may be, contributes to JG and Dagny's wealth-creating endeavor just as much as anyone elses. And, by the way, creates more jobs than the Obama administration.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 8, 2011 6:19 PM
But dagny thinks:

THE REST OF THE STORY:

As we continued to the house and jg went his way granny said to me, "the super rich can afford to pay more. And it appers to me that YOU are not in that category."

Me not being the marketing expert that jg is, I could not let this go. I stated that it had nothing to do with who could afford what, but that I believed that everyone from super rich on down deserved to keep what they had earned. She replied with the question, "then who is going to pay for the wars?"

I had insufficient time to venture into a philosophical discussion on the appropriate uses of government. Additionally I am loathe to waste my time on those whose minds are made up such that they will not be confused by facts and so the discussion ended there.

Posted by: dagny at August 8, 2011 7:46 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I think the point here is that an apolitical group formed spontaneously to advance a moral cause - that of individual liberty and private property rights - is the target of partisan political attack in otherwise polite company. It's comparable to a waitress saying, "Don't tell me you're one of those Christians." But Christianity has been around for two thousand years and receives a fraction of the invective directed at the two year-old TEA Party.

Posted by: johngalt at August 9, 2011 2:45 AM
But johngalt thinks:

"Wars will easily be paid for when government stops automatic entitlement program spending increases of 7.5 percent annually."

Posted by: johngalt at August 9, 2011 3:00 AM
But AndyN thinks:

At the risk of exposing my utter ignorance by painting with an overly broad brush, I'd never considered equestrian competition to be something that folks struggling to pay their tax bills would indulge in. It's fascinating to me that all leftists, regardless of their personal wealth, seem to believe that the politicians they support are always talking about somebody else when they're talking about raising taxes.

Posted by: AndyN at August 10, 2011 9:53 PM
But jk thinks:

Them and the corporate jet crowd, AndyN!

Posted by: jk at August 11, 2011 10:36 AM

Stealthflation Awareness Check

Heh.


But I must grudgingly concede that Scott Bradford used the term more than six months before me and Forbes magazine four months ago.

Manipulating the CPI is a game government plays to help solve its fiscal problems through increased inflation. It is a tax on wealth and can be imposed without public debate or a legislative vote. While inflation is beneficial to government in the short term, its long-term effects are always negative. Hence, it must be done in secret--call it stealthflation. What this means for fixed-income investors is that long-term interest rates are going higher, as they have since last August. Look for a ferocious rise after June 30, when the Fed's QE2 program comes to an end.

(He doesn't say how long after June 30.)

But jk thinks:

Like "Climate Change," it does not pick a direction. You may claim victory after inflation or deflation!

Posted by: jk at August 8, 2011 3:53 PM
But johngalt thinks:

The "flation" in Stagflation is universally understood to be in-flation and Stealthflation is no different. I hereby irrevocably declare that Stealthflation is a stealthy inflation.

Besides, I'm beginning to think deflation is an imaginary concept that makes the math work, like infinity and imaginary numbers.

Posted by: johngalt at August 8, 2011 4:14 PM
But jk thinks:

Sob...........sniff........weep.........

Posted by: jk at August 8, 2011 6:53 PM
But johngalt thinks:

??

Posted by: johngalt at August 9, 2011 2:53 AM
But jk thinks:

It happens I believe in deflation (cf. 1836, 1873, 1907, 1931), infinity (without which 1 + 9/9 != 2), and imaginary numbers (Isaac Asimov, call your office).

Posted by: jk at August 9, 2011 9:50 AM

How to Speak Democrat

Michael Barone writes a piece today titled, "Americans want the right to "Earned Success," no doubt a title that will be hailed by blog brother JG. That, however, is not the subject of this post. Rather, Barone has this beauty of a quip:

They [voters] may favor "investment in education" until they figure out that it actually means political payoffs to teachers' unions.

That got The Refugee thinking that a dictionary of "How to Speak Democrat" might be highly useful to the electorate. For example, we're all familiar with the "How to Speak Realtor" in which "cute cottage" actually means "This place is smaller than a postage stamp," and "equity opportunity" actually means "You'll spend every free moment and extra dime over the next five years fixing all the problems in this place."

In the spirit of public service, The Refugee would like to start "How to Speak Democrat" with a few definitions:

"Let me be clear" actually means, "I'm about to lie through my teeth."

"Balanced approach" actually means, "We spend more, you pay more." (credit to Speaker Boehner)

"Significant headwinds" actually means, "We're still blaming George W. Bush"

"We didn't realize how difficult it would be" actually means, "We don't have an f-ing clue what we're doing and everything we've tried has failed."

"Special interests" actually means, "Anyone who supports Republicans."

"Responsible dialog" actually means, "Republicans should be censored."

"Bi-partisan" actually means, "Republicans should roll over."

"Racist" actually means, "Anything Democrats oppose."

"Hate speech" actually means, "Anything Democrats oppose."

"Right-wing extremist" actually means, "Anyone to the right of Karl Marx."

The Refugee invites all Three Sourcers to contribute to this effort. We will split the royalties equally.

Hat tip: RealClearPolitics.com

Media and Blogging Posted by Boulder Refugee at 2:58 PM | What do you think? [4]
But johngalt thinks:

Like!

Posted by: johngalt at August 8, 2011 3:42 PM
But jk thinks:

Millionaires and Billionaires: people with a private-sector job.

Posted by: jk at August 8, 2011 6:48 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

I have said for ages that:
"Bipartisan" in modern media parlance = 'whatever Ted Kennedy would do'

I have been mulling over the idea of a DC Dictionary. 1st entry would be:
"cuts" = miniscule reductions in previously arranged GInormous increases.

Posted by: nanobrewer at August 9, 2011 1:29 AM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

A very good point, NB. Along those lines, might I suggest:

"Draconian cuts" actually means, "A 9% spending increase instead a 10% spending increase."

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 9, 2011 5:29 PM

Who Answered the President's Call?

The Tea Party!

No surprise 'round these parts, but the chart is interesting. And it proves, conclusively, that "Moderate Republicans" really are the apathetic slime of the Earth.

Tea Party Posted by John Kranz at 1:55 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

... second only to Iowa primary voters.

The panel pointed out that Gov. Huckabee won the last Iowa straw poll and George W Bush twice behind that. This underscores br's point that it's [zealous evangelism] not bad GOP pollytickin'.
Posted by: johngalt at August 9, 2011 1:20 AM

Thank You S&P

A not-entirely-different-for-ThreeSourcers look at the downgrade. Maybe I've been watching Kudlow too long, but I find some of the best commentary comes from the investment community. They have much to lose and none of the good reasons to suck up when compared to traditional media punditry. Let 'er rip, Gary Kaltbaum:

Thank you S&P. I gather that surprises many of you as I have railed against the rating's services for years. That hasn't changed. There should have been criminal indictments against these companies for what they did with mortgage securities, but right now, they did us a big favor. At least, S&P did.

So excuse me, Mr. Buffett, for disagreeing with you. I know that is not a smart play. But it is my contention that if the con game went on for too much longer, what you saw in the market last week would end up being a walk in the park. I could not be happier that the debt bomb is now front-and-center. I have been writing about this for quite a while. This will hopefully shut up the deficit spenders, but somehow I doubt it. I do want you to keep in mind, these ratings services are nothing more than publishers of opinions.

Tim Geithner doesn't matter. What's the deal with trying to get rid of him? He is nothing more than Charlie McCarthy to Edgar Bergen. In my world, he is not even to be paid attention to. I know -- sounds disrespectful. Sorry, just telling it like it is.


Amens all around. I have to agree with his colorful characterization of our SecTreas. Yes, he's a disappointing weasel of a political hack. Do you suspect for a moment that he'd be replaced by someone better were he to step down?


August 7, 2011

All My Favorite FOX News Shows Cancelled

Man! You'd think an attractive white woman was missing somewhere! FOXNews did the full 24-hour cable press yesterday, dragging Neil Cavuto over from FOX Business Network for a full day jabbering about the S&P downgrade.

I like Cavuto (a fellow MS sufferer) and the discussions were generally moderate. But the presence of "special coverage" and special artwork added extra strum and drang. It struck me as odd that The [Wall Street] Journal Editorial Report was cancelled. I'm not sure they tape in time to address the downgrade but I could not help thinking "Yeah, who'd want to hear what those guys say?"

I oscillate (F= kx) between two thoughts. One pole is Brother br's hope that a third-party opinion will spur seriousness. Okay, Dad's pissed, we'd better cut spending and go to bed. But I cannot help but think we are overempowering the guys who, again, picked the Lions to win the super Bowl the last twelve years. If -- and it is no longshot -- the good people at Standard & Poor's tell the US Congress to raise taxes, that will not be a blow for liberty.

A day's extra coverage because The Bailiwick of Guernsey 's bonds are better rated than T-bills might be a little over the top even for FOX.

We can only hope a woman comes up missing soon (blog friend sc surmises that they're all locked in Greta Van Susteren's basement).

But johngalt thinks:

So T-bills are downgraded and the result is that world equity markets tumble? A "flight to safety, in the form of ... T-bills? What gives? Am I missing something?

Posted by: johngalt at August 7, 2011 5:48 PM
But jk thinks:

That was predicted on Kudlow a couple of weeks back: T-bill rates going down on a downgrade as part of a flight to safety. You going to take S&P's word?

Me, I'm going long Bailiwick of Guernsey bonds.

And, In FNS's weak defense, they ran Journal Editorial Report overnight and snuck in a Stossel Sunday afternoon. I happened to catch and manually TiVo it.

Posted by: jk at August 8, 2011 11:33 AM
But gd thinks:

The only answer I can come up with is that the move to T-bills indicates just how few investment options there are out there. Many in the investment community view the downgrade as a negative indicator for the overall outlook of the economy and thus will have a negative impact on the stock market. As investment dollars leave the market they are going to the safer havens of T-bills and gold. Like JK says, as bad as the US economy and even with the downgrade, investors still view T-bills as safer than the stock market and the debt of other countries (especially in the near term).

Plus, very few (if any) 401(k) plans have savings options that are FDIC backed so it is very difficult for investors to pull their money out of 401(k) plans and put into cash. Investors will see T-bills as “beating the alternative” given the pessimistic economic outlook.

Posted by: gd at August 8, 2011 12:02 PM
But jk thinks:

And I must agree with Maestro Greenspan even though it is not comforting. There is zero default risk for the US in debt denominated in its own currency. We would certainly monetize before default.

Posted by: jk at August 8, 2011 12:15 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Which is why we have Stealthflation, which is why I'm staying in the market. Moving to cash or T-bills merely exposes you to the full risk of inflation. At least the stock market can appreciate as the dollar deflates, offsetting the depreciation of your portfolio by inflation. That is, when it isn't tumbling for other reasons.

Posted by: johngalt at August 8, 2011 3:08 PM
But gd thinks:

If "stealthflation" means a rising equity market then I am going to have to go back to using the term stagflation because I do not see stagflation as bullish for equities.

Posted by: gd at August 8, 2011 8:06 PM

August 5, 2011

Told You I Was a Liberal!

But liberals are criticizing Perry
I'll listen if somebody tells me the WaPo is mischaracterizing the event, but it makes me a little squeamish:
Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) will start to change that Saturday. Perry, who is expected to announce his presidential candidacy in the next few weeks, is hosting a day of prayer and fasting in Houston dubbed "The Response." Attendees from Texas and across the country will come to a football stadium to ask for "God's forgiveness, his wisdom and his provision for our state and nation," according to the video message Perry taped inviting people.
I hope nobody considers me a basher of religion. I choose not to practice but I try to be generally respectful of others' beliefs, fiercely protective of others' right to worship, and overwhelmingly grateful for the political power of the evangelical community.

But holy mackerel Andy! A day of prayer and fasting muddles the message of Texas's job creation. Evangelicals might consider engaging a focus group for terms and descriptions. "Prayer" will offend a small minority and attract a sizable majority. "A day of prayer and fasting" sounds radical to not only religious moderates but those outside the evangelical denominations (Catholics aren't big fasters).

Between the forced HPCC vaccinations Perry reminded me about, and this, a Perry candidacy isn't looking like the salvation panacea some have suspected.

2012 Posted by John Kranz at 3:42 PM | What do you think? [6]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

The Refugee thinks you're over-reacting. If Perry makes prayer vigils a centerpiece of his candidacy, then you're probably right that he'll have hard go of it. However, he's probably just going down the "To Do" checklist of things on the way to the Republican nomination:

Support of the Evangelical Republicans: check
Strong showing in Iowa: check
Neutralize Bachmann: check

Now on to the real issues of jobs and economic development, on which Perry has cornered the Republican market. It's then mano-a-mano with Romney and Perry probably wins. But, he needs to make sure that Bachmann does not outflank him to the right.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 5, 2011 4:25 PM
But jk thinks:

Fair. Some of the indignation felt by the WaPo may have inducted on me, I was wearing a fuzzy sweater.

I had forgotten (blocked) the HPCC vaccination, though, that really disturbs me.

Posted by: jk at August 5, 2011 6:21 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yep. I'm a liberal too. I checked the event's homepage and found that while Perry gets top billing as "Initiator" the host entity is American Family Association and a long roster of professional believers brought it into ontic-ity. So "hosted" might be a bit of a mischaracterization, thought I. Then I read what "Perry writes on the event's Web site: 'As a nation, we must come together and call upon Jesus to guide us through unprecedented struggles, and thank Him for the blessings of freedom we so richly enjoy." Yet this too may be a mischaracterization, coming unattributed from the Why The Response page at the event site.

But from the homepage a prayer is attributed to Governor Perry:

"Lord, You are the source of every good thing, You are our only hope. And we stand before You today in awe of your power, and in gratitude for Your blessings; in humility for our sins.

I do good without the governor's Lord.
I have hope without the said Lord.
I am not a sinner.

It gets worse from there. I see Governor Perry as an existential danger to an enlightened Free Republic. He out-evangelizes Rep. Bachmann directly into the realm of the zealot.

Posted by: johngalt at August 7, 2011 8:35 PM
But dagny thinks:

I need to take what jg says a step further. When someone (politician or otherwise) says, "you need to do x because God says so," or even, "we need to do x because God says so," I get very nervous. God hasn't said so to me! In fact God hasn't said anything to me.

When such people are running for political office, I am greatly concerned that they would be willing to use the power of government to enforce what they believe God says to the detriment of my personal liberty. This is much like the Democrat attitude that they are willing to use the power of government to enforce wht they believe is best for, "society," also to the detriment of my personal liberty.

Posted by: dagny at August 8, 2011 1:42 AM
But jk thinks:

Yeah, I think that may be three "no-thank-yous." FOX News Sunday showed Governor Perry delivering the lines jg excerpted and then some. The panel pointed out that Gov. Huckabee won the last Iowa straw poll and George W Bush twice behind that. This underscores br's point that it's not bad GOP pollytickin'.

Were it well divorced from matters of state (at which President George W Bush excelled) I could move on. While I couldn't find Gov. Perry's prayer on the website, there were lines that attributed much of our present difficulties to sin.

If that's the sin of electing Barney Frank and Chris Dodd to Chair the Banking Committees, I'm in. But I'm not sure he was headed there...

Posted by: jk at August 8, 2011 10:56 AM
But johngalt thinks:

As a public service, the text of Rick Perry's prayer is here. [Scroll down, right-hand column, headed: Governor Rick Perry's prayer during The Response]

Posted by: johngalt at August 8, 2011 3:15 PM

Terri's QOTD

People who say they want a government program because "I don't want to be a burden to my children" apparently think it is all right to be a burden to other people-s children. -- Thomas Sowell
Hat-tip: Terri
Hoss Posted by John Kranz at 12:59 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Who said logic is dead in popular culture? It's alive and well and leading weak minds astray by the millions.

Posted by: johngalt at August 7, 2011 7:43 PM

A Cheer and a Quarter for Chairman Bernanke!

Blog friend The Everyday Economist has admitted that he created a monster.

Under his advisement, I read Ben Bernanke's textbook on Inflation Targeting. After that, I became something of a disciple, just as my academic friend was turning away. Oh well, you can't win 'em all, EE!

Agree or not, it certainly gives you a context for the Fed's actions under his watch. Anybody who is surprised did not read Helicopter Ben's book. Target kinda-a-twoish inflation rate on the core CPI and keep the beard well trimmed -- and you're there.

Professor Mankiw agrees with me, without directly mentioning the beard.

Mr. Bernanke became the Fed chairman in February 2006. Since then, the inflation measure favored by the Fed -- the price index for personal consumption, excluding food and energy -- has averaged 1.9 percent, annualized. A broader price index that includes food and energy has averaged 2.1 percent.

Either way, the outcome is remarkably close to the Fed's unofficial inflation target of 2 percent. So, despite the economic turmoil of the last five years, the Fed has kept inflation on track.


The other thing that keeps me out of the hate-the-Bernank Brigade is the horrendously awful fiscal policy on his watch. Volcker and Reagan were able to bring sound money and supply-side tax cuts in tandem. Chairman Bernanke has the Obama administration demonizing corporate jets, while he tries to do monetary policy. That's as tough as setting up your oscilloscope with a your groucho glasses on.

But johngalt thinks:

The Kantian Method: Make a reasonable sounding statement with a hidden flaw and build an airtight case upon that faulty foundation.

... the inflation measure favored by the Fed — the price index for personal consumption, excluding food and energy — has averaged 1.9 percent, annualized. A broader price index that includes food and energy has averaged 2.1 percent.

Either way, the outcome is remarkably close to the Fed’s unofficial inflation target of 2 percent. So, despite the economic turmoil of the last five years, the Fed has kept inflation on track.

But as we just learned, [2nd comment] "... on either version of the CPI. It's so massaged, with the government economists overweighting and underweighting whatever they can to meet the agenda."

So Mankiw's laudable ambition to "add more certainty to the economy" by somehow "codify(ing) its projected price path of 2 percent" is as uncertain as the massaged CPI it is so cunningly tied to.

History will show that Bernanke's crowning achievement is Stealthflation. Save this prediction and Mankiw's "the Fed has kept inflation on track" and we'll see who was the more brilliant economist way back in ought-eleven.

Posted by: johngalt at August 7, 2011 8:10 PM
But gd thinks:

Jg, we are almost on the same page, but I am starting to think that there is a lot of validity to the Austrians who claim that we are going to see deflation first as global demand continues to decline. The debt burden will continue to act as an albatross on the economy so any attempts to create stimulus or monetize debt will only act as an immediate shot in the arm, but then the long-term drag of the debt will bring the overall global economy back to a grinding halt. Bernanke has demonstrated that he will continue this negative feedback loop and I will not be the least bit surprised if we eventually see QE3 and QE4 in a desperate attempt to lift the economy. Given there are very few long-term investment options, this will not have the intended effect as cash will continue to sit idle on the sidelines.

The trouble with these artificial attempts to boost the economy is that people eventually become aware that the government has no intention of ever paying off the debt. And as Ludwig von Mises postulated, eventually the government will be forced to print money. Don’t take my word for it though (Alan Greenspan on “Meet the Press” yesterday:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3cY6_z0ceg

There may appear to be some contradiction in the near-term, but it is going to be very important to stay calm and focused on the long-term effects of the enormous debt burden being run up by nearly all governments around the world.

Posted by: gd at August 8, 2011 10:03 AM
But gd thinks:

I should also add that that this deflationary impact would bring down commodity prices in the near term such as oil and copper. Gold is not a normal commodity (it is more of an investment since it has very little industrial use) and has an inverse relationship to the money supply so gold will continue to increase until there is a serious attempt at paying down debt (which is becoming more unlikely to ever come).

The US dollar is in big trouble as well because we have been flooded with foreign investment the past 30+ years, but as investors see a declining dollar and a lack of viable investment options in the U.S. they will pull their money out which will only continue to put more pressure on the dollar. This is why I am bullish on gold and bearish on the U.S. dollar (bonds and equities) in the long term.

And yes, jg, I love your “stealthflation” terminology and am going to start using it as well. None of us may fully understand just how “stealth” it is at this point in time.

Posted by: gd at August 8, 2011 10:50 AM

Amazon Recommends...

Here's your Internet persona when you click Instapundit Amazon Links:

Just a guy who likes to sit at home with his clown nose on, making rude lissajous figures on his scope...


Headline of the Day

Dow Jones plunges 512 points; but don't worry, President Obama's birthday parties unaffected -- Top of the Ticket, LA Times

Quote of the Day

There is something plaintive in Obama's words these days. We are witnessing a man of enormous self-regard wrestle with a record of amassing and undeniable failures. This is creating a kind of cognitive dissonance -- a huge mental processing problem -- for the president. And so the difficulties we face rest not with Obama but with others, including with the impatience of others. -- Pete Wehner

August 4, 2011

Picture of the Day

Got to laugh to keep from cryin', right? Something about this picture of ECB Chief Trichet does not inspire confidence:

Photo credit: Reuters, from a very good WSJ Editorial on the global sell-off as the last call for Keynesians.


Great Personal News

Fear not, it will not diminish my enthusiasm for fighting the FDA one iota (how may picofarads in an iota?) But I received some very good news.

It seems they have added an open-label extension to the drug trial I was on. This will allow me to get the compound that was pretty effective for me with minimal side effects. They will provide product for a mixture of compassionate use and safety monitoring, likely unit it is approved.

Yaay.

But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Woo hoo!!

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 4, 2011 1:30 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Compassionate use be upon thee.

Posted by: johngalt at August 7, 2011 7:27 PM

HOSS of all HOSSES

Silent Cal, of course. Charles Johnson is writing a book about President Coolidge and -- correct me if I'm wrong -- the last of the Constitutional Chief Magistrates speaks to us today:

That productive capacity, Coolidge knew, was sapped by the spendthrift--he called it "socialistic"--notions of government that sought to be all things to all people. Coolidge, making note of federal farm subsidies and flood insurance, criticized the thinking of "expect[ing] the government in some miraculous way to save us from the consequences of our own acts," in a post-presidential column on Oct. 17, 1930. Americans, he wrote, "want the right to run our own business, fix our own wages and prices, and spend our own money, but if depression and unemployment result we look to government for a remedy."

As Coolidge saw things in 1924, "A government which lays taxes on the people not required by urgent public necessity and sound public policy is not a protector of liberty, but an instrument of tyranny. It condemns the citizen to servitude." Coolidge helped Americans prosper by letting them be free.


Hoss Posted by John Kranz at 12:57 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Any descriptions given for "urgent public necessity" or "sound public policy?" Every single Democrat, Socialist or RINO believes he is advancing both of those causes with his spendthrift, socialistic policies.

Posted by: johngalt at August 7, 2011 7:27 PM

August 3, 2011

Quote of the Day

You see, they claim that the reason the Volt isn't selling is that they can't keep enough cars on the lot. A GM spokeswoman recently claimed that they are "virtually sold out." Which is virtually true. Mark Modica called around his local Chevy dealers and found plenty of Volts waiting for an environmentally conscious driver to bring them home. -- Jonathan V. Last

Other Than That, The Story Was Accurate

Could not possibly resist!

But Boulder Refugee thinks:

I could have gone all day without that visual.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 5, 2011 12:14 PM

"Stealthflation"

During the Ford-Carter-Reagan era, before I was of voting age, the economic situation gave rise to the term "stagflation" which referred to high inflation and low economic growth as a percentage of GDP. We might say that the same conditions exist now except that in the 70's and 80's inflation was measured by interest rates. Today interest rates are near record lows, with T-bills around 2.7 percent leading to 30 year mortgages on the order of 4 percent. Yet inflation fears are alive and well given QE1 and 2 and the record price of $1660 US for gold. In other words, we have real inflation, as the costs of energy, food, health care, and other durable goods go up, but it isn't reflected in Fed policy. It is a hidden or "stealth" inflation. But like Oz's wizard it can't go unnoticed forever.

saupload_debt_ceiling_news_1.jpg

Back to stagflation:

The concept is notable because, in Keynesian macroeconomic theory which was dominant between the end of WWII and the late-1970's, inflation and recession were regarded as mutually exclusive, the relationship between the two being described by the Phillips curve. In addition because stagflation has generally proven to be difficult and, in human terms as well as budget deficits, very costly to eradicate once it starts.

In the political arena one measure of stagflation termed the Misery Index (derived by the simple addition of the inflation rate to the unemployment rate) was used to swing presidential elections in the United States in 1976 and 1980.

So let's see, unemployment rate plus the price of gold...

Yikes! I'm goin' camping. Please save civilization while I'm gone.

But jk thinks:

Concerned but still not sold on inflation fears. I'm pretty happy using core CPI as a deflator and see Gold as global growth + "risk-on" trade + a wise inflation hedge with a loose Fed. As even the core pushes comfort levels, I hope Helicopter Ben will keep QE3 in his pants as it were.

But your Oz reference was well timed. I thought of you as I watched "Tin Man" again and remembered our agreeing on its virtues. It is available on the Netflix Instant Queue, and comes with substantive endorsements from jg and jk.

Posted by: jk at August 3, 2011 1:13 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

JK, you're very trusting on either version of the CPI. It's so massaged, with the government economists overweighting and underweighting whatever they can to meet the agenda. Check shadowstats.com, which doesn't do any tricks. It merely uses the methodology in place in 1980, rather than the trickery employed today.

Bill Dudley can point to iPads. I point to commodity prices whose rise cannot be explained by supply and demand. I point to standard groceries, and container sizes continually shrinking so we can pay the same for less. Things are worse than we care to admit.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 3, 2011 11:48 PM
But gd thinks:

The government CPI is pretty close to worthless for Austrians (it is intentionally manipulated to favor Keynesianism). When it comes to real inflation risk, keep a close eye on gold, oil, and food prices.

Posted by: gd at August 4, 2011 11:23 AM
But jk thinks:

jg starts a monetary policy debate and then heads out camping -- gonna have to have a talk with that lad...

Guess I am a Chicagoan then, gd. Inflation as always a monetary phenomenon. Core CPI has its flaws (I think it underestimates inflation – burn the heretic!) but its flaws normalize over long-term historical comparisons. Gold is subject to speculation and varies with world risk appetite, oil is a cartelized and highly regulated commodity. Yes, it is denominated in dollars, but I wouldn't use it as an accurate measurement. Food is a global growth play and is manipulated by biofuel mandates.


Posted by: jk at August 4, 2011 11:47 AM
But gd thinks:

JK, I think you are correct about gold, oil, and food being subject to price manipulation and speculation, but I look at these price movements as more of a short term phenomenon. Over the long run more money in supply means higher prices unless there is a change in supply or demand for products/resources. That is why I do not put too much emphasis on short term calculations; I am more concerned with how the long term prices of gold, oil, and food are trending relative to wages, employment, and the overall supply of money.

Ludwig von Mises postulated that Keynesianism will always fail in the long run for one of two reasons: 1. The crack-up boom (the destruction of both monetary order and economic productivity in a wave of mass inflation) or 2. A deflationary contraction in which men, business, and banks go bankrupt when the expected increase of fiat money does not occur.

There is some divergence going on in the Austrian camp right now about whether hyperinflation or deflation will come first, but I think the stagflation risk is worthy of consideration.

Posted by: gd at August 4, 2011 12:55 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Stealthflation, gd, Stealthflation. A proper noun, coined by this blog brother. Help me promote this trademarked economic malady and I'll cut you in on the rake!

I'm not backing down on the validity of commodity prices as inflation indices. Yes, food prices are manipulated by government regulation, as are oil and gold prices. But the prices are ontic. [A word I learned when double-checking the definition of 'noumenal.'] For each commodity the price Is what it Is. No matter the cause of inflation, higher prices equal monetary inflation.

(They're from the government, and they're here to "help.")

And if gold is "subject to speculation and varies with world risk appetite" is that not a crowd-sourced, market-driven "inflation future?"

Posted by: johngalt at August 7, 2011 7:06 PM

My Senator Kills the BBA!

Am I supposed to be happy? Colorado Senator Mark Udall (used to be my Congressman) has crafted a means to comply with the debt bill's requirement for a vote on a Balanced Budget Amendment (BBA). He's offered one with a provision to "outlaw tax cuts for people making more than $1 million a year unless the country has a budget surplus."

"My proposal is a responsible approach to requiring a balanced budget that would prevent future Congresses from making some of the same mistakes that have led to our debt crisis," the Colordao Democrat said.

Udall's co-sponsors include Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Sens. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).


All the Democratic Senate "moderates" lined up in a row. Did somebody on this blog say something about Democrats being able to duck and cover behind an amendment (I co-sponsored it, people!) without altering their spendthrift ways? Did this prescient pundit mention McCaskill by name? I should do a search...

Hat-tip: Instapundit

112th Congress Posted by John Kranz at 11:06 AM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

Yes, you are right - the term "balanced budget amendment" is as specific as "weather." A modifier is required before one may judge whether or not it is desirable.

For what it's worth, my congressman called me this morning to thank me for my email and when I asked about limiting government spending to a percentage of GDP he said that will require passage of the "balanced budget amendment." Guess you're just hangin' around with the wrong crowd brother! ;)

Posted by: johngalt at August 3, 2011 12:14 PM
But jk thinks:

Heh. I need to move Le Condo d'Amour a few miles east or hope for redistricting...

And yet I will not cede my point that the BBA, amorphous or not provides endless opportunity for these games and posturing from the McCaskills and Udalls of the world.

Posted by: jk at August 3, 2011 12:36 PM

At Last, the Other Side of the Story is Told

Contradicting the mainstream media narrative that the Tea Party is a new populist movement that formed spontaneously in reaction to government bailouts or the Obama administration, the facts show that the Tea Party in Congress is merely the familiar old neo-Confederate Southern right under a new label. The threat of Southern Tea Party representatives and their sidekicks from the Midwest and elsewhere to destroy America's credit rating unless the federal government agrees to enact Dixie's economic agenda of preserving defense spending while slashing entitlements is simply the latest act of aggression by the Solid South.
Yup, the mainstream media has been covering for the Tea Party for too long. But Michael Lind is ready to blow the whistle in some critically important original reporting. It seems a lot of Tea Party participation is in the South. And Lind finds some White supremacist groups in the South (who favour British spelling). Need I continue? Ad ergo procter helicopter eggo!
The fact that Tea Party conservatism speaks with a pronounced Southern drawl may have escaped the attention of the mainstream media, but it is obvious to members of Congress who have to try to work with these disproportionately-Southern fanatics. One is Rep. Loretta Sanchez of California. As a guest on a radio show, she mocked the Southern accent of the typical congressional Tea Party caucus member:
No doubt Lind would be amused beyond urinary continence had a Southern Representative mocked Rep. Sanchez's ordering a plate of tortillas and menudo at the Capitol Cafeteria.

Hat-tip: Blog friend Sugarchuck, who includes some delightful barnyard invective I should have included.


May Have Disagreed, but HOSS

Blog friend gd sends a link to this interview:

Stay until the end to catch freedom of speech and why the Andersen Coopers of the world should not suppress "bickering." (Or maybe read a gorram history book, but I digress...)

112th Congress Posted by John Kranz at 10:31 AM | What do you think? [0]

August 2, 2011

The Refugee Apologizes

The Refugee has just learned that, in addition to fleecing his blog brothers, filling his truck with E85 has deprived a starving person of a year's worth of corn. From today's WSJ:

"The grain required to fill a 25-gallon SUV gas tank with ethanol will feed one person for a year." [renouned environmentalist Lester Brown] said.
So there we have it: the enviros want us to burn someone's dinner in our cars. How many meals are burned every day?

The same article also noted that it would take an area three times the size of the continental US to replace one third of our oil requirements with biofuels. Guess the enviros never did the math.

Oil and Energy Posted by Boulder Refugee at 11:03 PM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

Enviros. Math. Heh. That's a good one.

Posted by: jk at August 3, 2011 10:16 AM

That's the Beauty of It

It would seem that some Tea Partiers lament the lack of a national organization, at least of you believe an article in today's WSJ.

[...] The central question facing the loose-knit tea-party movement today, two years after it sprang into existence, is whether its organization and leadership can grow to match its ideological force.

The movement remains a rough-and-tumble coalition of groups and individuals, without a clear national leader or central organization. [...]

To The Refugee, that's the beauty of it. As soon as there is a national organization, it will begin to seek survival for survival's sake. This will inevitably lead to compromising ideology for existence. With nothing to lose, "it" has no reason to pursue anything other than "its" principles.

Tea Party Posted by Boulder Refugee at 10:47 PM | What do you think? [0]

Well, that didn't work.

Larry Kudlow had me pretty well convinced that last week's slide had much to do with the debt-ceiling contretemps. So, big break to the upside today, right?

The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 250 points, or 2.07%, to 11881.49, in recent trading. The blue-chip index is on track for its eighth consecutive decline, which would be its longest since October 2008. It has lost more than 700 points during the skid, dating back to July 22.


A HOSS Is 99 1/365

"There are millions of people around the world who have more economic freedom, a better life, and a higher standard of living today thanks to Friedman's enormous influence. Friedman was the strongest and most effective advocate of economic and political liberty in modern history, and the anniversary of his birthday provides an opportunity to reflect and appreciate his enduring impact on the world." -- Mark J,. Perry

Hoss Posted by John Kranz at 3:47 PM | What do you think? [3]
But johngalt thinks:

Not just a Hoss, but a Top Ten Hoss.

Posted by: johngalt at August 2, 2011 4:53 PM
But jk thinks:

A great man would not try to score cheap debate points on a memorial post celebrating one of the planet's greatest thinkers. As Captain Mal would say, "I'm allright."

Mister Friedman opposed Balanced Budget Amendments.

Posted by: jk at August 2, 2011 7:18 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"Friedman was in favor of fixing a percentage of GDP that federal government is allowed to spend."

But the GOP BBAs all include this spending limit as a central feature.

Posted by: johngalt at August 2, 2011 10:59 PM

Pity Full.

I got only 30% in the WaPo debt ceiling debate quote quiz.

Sad.

Posted by John Kranz at 3:38 PM | What do you think? [2]
But Terri thinks:

No, what's sad is I got 60%.
Me thinks you have more of a "life" than I.

Posted by: Terri at August 2, 2011 5:07 PM
But jk thinks:

Yeah, I was out drinking a '55 Chateau d' Nevoure with J-Lo and Ice Cube when you were home watching C-SPAN.

Posted by: jk at August 2, 2011 5:44 PM

As Hard as We're Crying...

Mark Thiessen advises: "Conservatives who think this deal is a defeat needs to spend a few minutes with the Gray Lady today."

It seems Krugman, guests, and the page make ThreeSources look like party time.

But Keith Arnold thinks:

It is just possible to have a war and both sides lose. It's kinda like applying the notion of Mutually Assured Destruction to national economics.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at August 2, 2011 2:18 PM

You Guys Are Safe For Now

Can't win 'em all.

But johngalt thinks:

Who doesn't like a good Satan Sandwich?

Posted by: johngalt at August 2, 2011 2:36 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

You snooze you lose. Don't dilly-dally next time.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 2, 2011 3:31 PM
But jk thinks:

So right, br, so right! jk@satansandwich.com ...

Posted by: jk at August 2, 2011 3:55 PM
But johngalt thinks:

When I checked, sugarcoatedsatansandwich.com was also taken... but chocolatecoveredsatansandwich.com? Available!

Posted by: johngalt at August 2, 2011 4:55 PM

Fifty Four Forty or Fight!

Sure, President Polk can start an expansionist war with a weak neighbor and steal their land and harbors. But he didn't have the cojones to take on Great Britain over the land that is rightfully ours! And now, look what's happened:

Canada recently rolled up some American citizens traveling to America on "gun smuggling" charges. Given the whole Gunrunner thing I guess it is reasonable for the Canucks to be concerned about American gun smuggling, but then again, the individuals involved were past retirement age so I doubt they were working for the ATF.

The two alleged smugglers -- both senior citizens with clean previous records -- had about a half dozen firearms. Now, I totally understand why one might want to bring guns through Canada in such a manner. Canada's procedure for legally declaring firearms other than certain hunting-type long arms in incredibly onerous. It takes literally months of previous preparation, and there is no guarantee that you'll get permission at all. Even declaring a firearm at the border -- while totally legit, say, a hunting shotgun -- is risky because it may increase the risk that you'll suffer the inconvenience of having your vehicle torn apart in a search for something.


Coulda driven right through "North Washington" with your full Second Amendment rights, but no...

Gun Rights Posted by John Kranz at 12:42 PM | What do you think? [0]

They like it!

Assuming the bill will pass the Senate, I'll offer a post mortem.

The exact language of the bill surely offers much to be desired and, as usual, we will all be disappointed with the final product. And yet, I am starting to believe that a fundamental change -- conducive to liberty -- has actually occurred. Leader McConnell called it "a new template," suggesting that every debt ceiling increase will now be met by stiff opposition. The Democrats love to say "we've increased the limit eleventy-four times with no theatrics." Sen. McConnell says those days are gone. Imagine the kerfuffle from Democrats if President Romney asks for an increase -- we'll see leftist parsimony. A new template indeed.

Chairmin Ryan likes to remind that we have moved from discussing growth in spending to cuts in spending.

And the Telegraph says "The real story of the US debt deal is not the triumph of the Tea Party but the death of the Socialist Left"

For believers in redistributive taxation and egalitarian social programmes like David Miliband, Obama was the last great hope. Here was a centre left politician capable of building the kind of electoral coalition that underpinned the massive expansions of state power in Britain and America, from Attlee's post-war Labour Government to Lyndon Johnson's Great Society. That is, a coalition of the white working class, minorities and middle class liberals. Yet in spite of sweeping to power in 2008 and ensuring the Democrats won in both the House and the Senate, Obama has proved unable to sustain that coalition. Last night's debt deal represents the moment when he acknowledged that trying to maintain the levels of public spending required to fund ambitious welfare programmes is political suicide. Which is why the deal has been greated with cries of impotent rage by the British Left.

It's hard to accept the word of a guy who cannot spell labor, center or programs, but he's got what Rowan Atkinson might call "one wicked bastard of a good point."

Legal fine print: Hat-tip: Instapundit for the Telegraph piece. And, yes, Mister Atkinson would certainly be on the side of the Socialists. And, no, he did not say it but rather it was a Character he played in BBC's "Bernard & the Genie." Professional blogger on a closed website. Do not attempt.

UPDATE: On the other hand...here's gd's link to Rand Paul's letter.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 10:24 AM | What do you think? [8]
But jk thinks:

Rand Paul has got to be my favorite person in Congress. How refreshing to see a man of such intellect, grace, and principle in the US Senate (always the last place you look, as Taranto says). I added your link to the post.

He has been heavily on my mind after reading Henry Clay, the Essential American. Paul holds the seat of the man most consider America's greatest Senator -- yet proudly boasts that he feels more kinship with Henry's cousin, Cassius Clay. Paul chooses the non-compromiser -- to the chagrin of his fellow Bluegrass State Senator, Leader McConnell.

It's hard to devise a counterfactual that would have shown Cousin Cassius to be the better choice in 1820 or 1850 when "The Great Compromiser" worked his magic. Guess I am doomed to pragmatism.

Posted by: jk at August 2, 2011 12:24 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Taking Senator DeMint's analogy a bit further, When you realize it's time to stop the car you first have to take your foot off of the accelerator before you can put it on the brake. That's about what this bill will do.

Senator Paul, whom I respect and appreciate greatly, writes that the bill, "adds $7 billion to our deficit over the next ten years." If he and the other Republicans in congress do nothing more than this for 10 years we'll be worse off than it looks even now.

This is step 1. The debate over government spending will loom over every congressional effort for as long as the public sentiment demands it. Not just the British Left, but the American Left, is greeting this bill, which their president will sign, with "cries of impotent rage." A good day's work if you ask me. Now, what is tomorrow's project? How about a budget?

Posted by: johngalt at August 2, 2011 12:47 PM
But gd thinks:

Jk, I believe that sometimes compromise can be necessary and a great trait. I do not know much about Henry Clay, but I imagine that he had certain ideas he felt he could compromise and some he could not.

I found Rand Paul's letter to be quite insightful. For instance, a compromise on true spending cuts of $2.4 trillion is a lot different than a compromise of proposed cuts of $2.4 trillion on projected increases in spending.

I believe that we have had too much compromise in our Federal government over the past 75 years when it comes to government spending. If anything, we need a few Ron and Rand Paul's to keep us aware of the truth behind the numbers and perhaps more importantly, the principles of social and economic freedom so that we have the ability to decide what principles we choose to adhere to and compromise as individuals in our personal life.

Posted by: gd at August 2, 2011 1:02 PM
But jk thinks:

I agree with every word you say, and every word Sen. Rand Paul says. The best GOP advice came from Bill Kristol on the FOXNews Sunday panel: he advised Conservatives not to claim victory. This does not fix anything and any claims to the contrary are being made by terrorists or something.

But I ain't going to get anything I like out of the 112th Senate -- and our 44th President sure ain't gonna sign it.

We've set up the debate nicely, we avoided tax increases. And we really cheesed of the NYTimes Editorial Page. Pretty good for a tie.

Posted by: jk at August 2, 2011 1:47 PM
But gd thinks:

Jk, you (and Bill Kristol) are absolutely right. This was probably the best deal possible with the current Senate and President, but there should be no claiming victory today by the Tea Party or Republicans. Claiming victory only enhances the perception amongst many that the cuts were too deep, when reality could not possibly be further from the truth (i.e., there were no cuts).

I also agree with jg; this was merely the first step in scaling a large mountain. To celebrate this would be like celebrating arrival at base camp when attempting a summit of Mount Everest. It is a step in the right direction, but all of the hard work still lies ahead.

Posted by: gd at August 2, 2011 4:23 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Kumbaya.

Meanwhile, prepare for even greater impotent rage from the World Left. They don't know anything else but to Demand the Unearned.

Posted by: johngalt at August 2, 2011 4:57 PM

All Hail Taranto

And, as Roll Call reports, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, the Kansas City, Mo., Democrat, "said early reports of the new deal appeared to be 'a sugar-coated Satan sandwich.' " Hey, it's better than peas! -- BOTW
Hey! Whassamatter with peas?
Posted by John Kranz at 10:11 AM | What do you think? [0]

August 1, 2011

Veto Vote

Time to start preparing for the 2012 election. My bumper sticker will be a variant on this:

vote%20obama%20sticker.jpg

After swapping the "o" and the "e."

2012 Posted by JohnGalt at 3:11 PM | What do you think? [0]

What NOT to Worry About in Debt-Limit Battle

Investors' Ed Page gives us Five Big Debt Debate Lies:

- Aug. 2 is the drop-dead deadline
- We risk defaulting on the debt
- Social Security payments are at risk
- A long-term debt ceiling hike is a must
- Obama wants a deal

Falsehoods all, say the editors at Investors. This last is the reason IBD urges the TEA Party Caucus to "declare an imperfect battlefield victory in 2011 and regroup for the more important struggle of defeating President Obama in 2012." But if the limit isn't raised there is no real danger for the government cutters, only a prospective demagogic one.

But jk thinks:

What time is it kids? It's tortured ThreeSources Analogy Time!!! Woohooo!

The odds are pretty good in Russian Roulette as well. There is probably not a shell in the chamber. Eighty three percent chance you're gonna be fine. Pull the trigger, Republicans! C'mon!

Posted by: jk at August 1, 2011 3:12 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I dunno, this doesn't really seem like political suicide for debt hard-liners to me.

Obama: down
Boehner: down

Dems on Obama: down
Reps on Boehner: up

Beside the fact that Obama won't be running against Boehner or anyone else in congress. Where is the evidence that the electorate is or may have second thoughts about restraining government? If anything this shows that effort needs a boost.

Posted by: johngalt at August 1, 2011 5:25 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

The Refugee is not crazy about this deal. Both John McCain and John Kerry strongly support it - 'nuff said.

However, getting a $900 billion reduction while controlling just 1/2 of 1/3 of government is not bad (although we are still going further into debt). The future result will largely depend on the make-up of future Congresses and the White House. We have to win 2012 and taking this deal gets that process started.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 1, 2011 6:28 PM

On the Other Hand, "The Hobbits Won"

I commented earlier today that the Progressives in congress and the White House are lamenting the current debt-limit "compromise" bill as a ruse to make conservatives believe it is good for taxpayers (by cutting spending and not raising tax rates.) Then I read Marc Thiessen explain how "the 'hobbits' won."

The fight for a balanced budget amendment must go on. But Tea Partyers should recognize just how much Obama and the Democrats caved: $2 trillion in spending cuts. No tax increases. A new precedent that debt-limit hikes must be accompanied by equal or greater cuts in spending. And the potential for a balanced budget in 10 years. That the Tea Party accomplished all this in just six months — at a time when the GOP controls one-half of one-third of the federal government — is remarkable.

Now, this conclusion is rooted in the assumption that "the package sets an important new precedent that debt-limit increases must be “paid for” with commensurate cuts in spending." And that "according to Sen. Rob Portman, a former White House budget director, if we cut a dollar of spending for every dollar we raise the debt limit, we will balance the budget in 10 years — something that even the Paul Ryan budget would not achieve" is also correct.

Taking those on faith I too would back the compromise. (But y'all know my opinion of faith.) Being both an optimist and a cautious conservative I s'pose I'll have to put away my matches and focus on 2012.


QOTD2

By that Reagan standard, Mr. Obama has been a singular failure. The crippling truth of the Obama presidency is the pessimism of the man, the low expectations he has for this republic. He had not come forth to awaken this country to its stirring first principles, but to manage its decline at home and abroad. So odd an outcome, a man with an inspiring biography who provides no inspiration, a personal story of "The Audacity of Hope" yielding a leader who deep down believes that America's best days are behind it. -- Fouad Ajami
But johngalt thinks:

"The Audacity of Atrophy."

Posted by: johngalt at August 1, 2011 3:25 PM

Quote of the Day

Clearly, a significant chunk of Pelosi's caucus is outraged. Progressive Caucus chairman Raul Grijalva (D., Ariz.) said the proposed deal "trades people's livelihoods for the votes of a few unappeasable right-wing radicals, and I will not support it." Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver (D., Mo.), chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, called it "a sugar-coated Satan sandwich." The two chairmen have scheduled a joint-press conference on Monday to call on President Obama to raise the debt ceiling by invoking the 14th amendment.
So I'm on a low-carbs, low-sugar, limited diet, and right now a "sugar-coated Satan sandwich" sounds fantastic. -- Jim Geraghty's Morning Jolt
112th Congress Posted by John Kranz at 11:41 AM | What do you think? [0]

I'm likin' The Debt Deal Better Already...

The Death of Keynesian Economics?

WASHINGTON -- The Republicans are killing Keynesian economics with their attempt to cut spending as the economy rebounds from a recession, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said in a floor speech on Sunday.

"I would say ... that symbolically, that agreement is moving us to the point where we are having the final interment of John Maynard Keynes," he said, referring to the British economist. "He normally died in 1946 but it appears we are going to put him to his final rest with this agreement."


Insert standard disclaimers that Lord Keynes offered a bit more to the science than an excuse for Sen. Durbin to take my money. But if it is true, as Senator Durbin understands and uses Keynesian Economics, then this is quite the bill indeed.

Hat-tip: Instapundit

112th Congress Posted by John Kranz at 10:55 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Nope, not buyin' it. The Progressive Caucus is all singing from the same page of the hymnal: "The spending cuts in this bill are devastating." Bullcrap. The real cuts are less than $100 billion in dollar terms and a fraction of the 7-8% annual growth already baked into government spending by the clever but criminally insane "baseline budgeting" scheme instituted in 1974.

Obama and the Spendalots saw what happened when he spoke favorably of the Gang of Six plan. Talking points have been distributed to make this "compromise" (as Speaker Boehner put it, "we spend more and you pay more") look like a win for taxpayers. Balder-freaking-dash.

Posted by: johngalt at August 1, 2011 1:12 PM

Don't click this. Comments (2)