Friday, January 30, 2009


Is Greg Mankiw taking a dig at all his Harvard colleagues? After all, the "best and brightest" screwed it up royally. Let's not forget that FDR's inner circle of economic geniuses were from academia too, and they went ga-ga over Stalin's economic program after a trip to Russia early in the FDR era.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Republicans Acting Like Republicans? Change You Can Believe In!

Am I going insane? Did the Republicans in the House actually do something right? Did they line up with unanimity to oppose the craptastic mother of all government expansions? By all accounts they did. All I can say is, in my best Peter Boyle voice, "Holy Crap!" Where was this backbone and discipline back in 2005?

UPDATE: Larry Ludlow has it exactly right..."all eyes now turn to...Mitch McConnell." Boehner & Co. staged a goal line stand on 1st and 2nd downs, will McConnell now let Pelosi, Reid, and Obama into the end zone? He will look awful dumb if he can't keep his caucus together after Boehner herded far more cats into unanimity. Any Senate Republican would be off his rocker to the be the guy or gal to blow the chance to pin this stimulus disaster 100% on the Democrats and/or carve it up and try for something better. We are going to get a stimulus package one way or another. The Democrats want nothing more than to pass this disaster and bring along some bipartisan accomplices. They certainly don't want to take full ownership, Republicans simply must let them have it. If Democrats steamroll this thing through, so be it, we would've had it anyway, at least Republicans have clean hands. If Democrats balk, well, then there is a chance to retool the stimulus. There is no upside in peeling away and voting for this disaster, except to avoid being called a few names, like "idealogical" or "obstructionist". Sticks and stones, McConnell & Co. Sticks and stones.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

One Party Rule To Destroy American Competitiveness

Today we start the comprehensive list of laws that are passed in the new era of quasi-socialist one-party rule here in America. Each one of these bad laws will destroy a small piece of our economic competitiveness. Taken together they will mire our economy in stasis for years to come. Without further ado, let's start the list. Keep coming back, the list is sure to grow.

1. Ledbetter Fair Pay Act (go here for criticism)
2. ?

"Respect and Partnership"

Obama said the U.S. had made mistakes in the past but "that the same respect and partnership that America had with the Muslim world as recently as 20 or 30 years ago, there's no reason why we can't restore that."

Same respect and partnership? Does he mean like this? Or maybe this? No, no, it had to be this. Oh, you mean he was talking about this. OK, you mean THAT type of partnership, where we give you billions of dollars every year for you to not kill us or our friends. Aha, I get it now.

Sad to say, but this is really the only guaranteed way to garner respect in the corridors of power in the Muslim world. The man on the street in the Muslim world has no power, no voice, no ability to receive an olive branch.

UPDATE: I only scratched the surface. Amir Teheri goes deep.

Floridians Were Warned

The WSJ cautioned that Gov. Crist's attack on the private market for home insurance would send actual insurance companies fleeing the state, and they were right. State Farm has announced that they will quit the state rather than continue to lose money. If they can't price the risk appropriately due to rate caps, they will take a bath. No point in it. Crist's government-run insurance company is about the only option left and the day of reckoning is coming.

Next up, I'd like to see the automobile companies respond to California's emission standards, that Dear Leader recently enabled after some gumming up by Chimpy Hitler, by refusing to make and sell cars that meet CA's standards. I'd love to see the residents of "car culture central" grumble that they can't get the same snappy new cars that, say, Texans can get. Or they can make the cars, but price them higher and put some wording on the sticker "$2000 extra, just for Californians."

UPDATE: The WSJ weighs in on the news. Oh and guess what? Gov. Crist is supporting ObamaPelosi's stimulus disaster and seeking, in return, federal backing for his state insurance train wreck. Gov. Crist is a disgrace.

TARP = Take Aid and Really Pay

Government ownership seems to be kiss of death. Take a bow, Don Luskin.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Note To Our New President

I HAVE chosen hope over fear. I HAVE chosen to forge ahead and fulfill dreams. I only wish I could keep more of my own money in order to pursue those dreams and forge ahead, rather than surrender them to build bike paths.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Now They Tell Us

Bloomberg News, run by Al Hunt, has been running any and every anti-greed, anti-Bush, anti-globalization, pro-Keynesian, pro-government, pro-Stiglitz, pro-infrastructure piece that it feels it can get away with (given its financial community audience) under the sun for years now.  So now we get The One and the $850 billion stimulus is in the bag before he is even in office (if you think this thing is going to die in the Congress, you're...well...stupid), and what does Bberg do today?  Run two stories on how government spending doesn't work - here and here.  Gee, thanks.

No More Government Bailouts

Private money is waiting and hankering to flood in and bail out some of these great, yet faltering, franchises, albeit at appropriate prices.  Let BofA, Citi, etc. go under and let the private money pick them up.  Hell, private money even wants a piece of the New York Times...any company can find a white knight if they can.  

Friday, January 16, 2009

Re President George: "...Totally Destitute of Merit..."

"His military and political character was attacked with equal violence; and it was averred that he was totally destitute of merit, either as a soldier or a statesman. The calumnies with which he was assailed were not confined to his public conduct, even his qualities as a man were the subjects of detraction. That he had violated the Constitution...was openly maintained , for which an impeachment was publicly suggested; and that he had drawn from the Treasury for his private use , more than the salary annexed to his office, was asserted without blush."

Which President was smeared and dragged through the mud in such a vicious display of partisan enmity? Well, yes, George W. Bush was, but that is not the President referred to here. The President that was on the receiving end of such vicious attack was another George. George Washington. It would seem that no matter what your achievements in life, regardless of legitimate differences, you are not immune to slander.

Unfortunately, a keen understanding of history and , more crucially, an historical perspective is lacking in our society. As George W. Bush leaves it for the historians to sort out, it would seem he has the deck stacked against him. Modern scribblers are universally inclined to leave posterity with a negative view of the man and his achievements. But it has always been thus. Fortunately history can delve and deliberate and vindicate Great Men from the narrowness of their age.

The ultimate example is George Washington. It goes without question that this man was a remarkable figure, a towering example of talent married with dedication and principle focused directly on an upright cause - our incipient nation. But what did the opposition, comfortable in the newfound safety of our young nation, heap upon Washington after a few years of familiarity? Scorn. As chronicled in his biography by John Marshall (exerpted above), they assailed his character, accused him of stealing public money, and of shredding the Constitution. And they called for his impeachment.

Is George W. Bush akin to George Washington? I would say no as an American, but an Iraqi might have a different opinion. The history of Washington is proof that the judgments of contemporary observers, fed by a rabid opposition, often bear no relation to how posterity views the contributions of great leaders.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Thank You George W. Bush

President Bush's farewell remarks were nice, not soaring, but, yet again, infused with the basic logic and simple decency that seems to be unsatisfactory to many of my fellow countrymen.  And, of course, he laid down his principal achievement - America has not been attacked since 9/11.  Sadly, he did it while America descended into smugness and pettiness, and I am glad he framed it in this language.  We all reverted to pre-9/11 thinking, but he didn't. While we were all in line at Starbucks each morning oblivious to the dangers facing us, this man was demanding and assessing grave threats to our safety.   We just might cherish the thought of the George W. Bush presidency when America is horrifically attacked again.

Ronald Reagan, in his farewell address, said "my friends, we weren't just marking time, we actually made a difference."  It was undeniably true and Americans were grateful.  The benefits were visible and tangible.   Oddly, George Bush could have said the same thing if he wasn't addressing the citizens of America.  In time it will be evident that Afghanis and Iraqis principally will harbor that sentiment, even though Americans don't.  I happen to believe that George Bush didn't fail America, but he didn't advance America.  His impact has been on the world.  A favorite bromide of liberals is to act globally as if we were citizens of the world rather than mere provincials of our own nation.  No leader has marshaled the power of his own nation in the interests of the citizens of the world more than George W. Bush.  No leader in modern times has acted more globally than George W. Bush.   And with our economy as it is, the resentment is as a neglected child who feels a birthright over an adopted child...why did he, not of our blood, get more care and attention as me?  I am confident that generations of Iraqis and Afghanis will come to feel the deep appreciation of the adopted child.  In time I hope that Americans come to that same appreciation as they realize that we, via George Bush, played our role as the non-provincials and feel blessed to have lived the example first hand.  

George W. Bush may very well never be quite welcome in certain American towns but yet be adulated in many parts in the world.  This is both a tragedy in that his job was to represent us, to advance our interests, and a success in that he was willing to take bold steps for the world who he doesn't answer to.  Who else has done that?   We have every right to feel neglected, but we should take pride that we gave eight years of deep effort to the world beyond America.  Whether another Saddam or another Taliban regains power or whether these countries become the modern equivalent of ancient Greece, Iraq and Afghanistan were given a chance at a dream and that is more than most of the world gets.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Stimulus Disaster Looming

Today's Biege Book report shows the economy getting weaker in the opening weeks of 2009 just as it is becoming clearer that Congressional Democrats are set to work over Dear Leader on the tax cut component of his stimulus package (it is not really a tax cut, rather a bunch of small tax goodies, but let's keep it simple) in addition to the usual porcine augmentation. So as the economy deteriorates it becomes more necessary to have stimulus that has more of an immediate impact, but the political winds are going in the opposite direction. The Barney Frank Democrats are demanding more spending and less tax stimulus despite the fact that it is widely agreed among economists of all political stripes that taxes, notwithstanding other debates, work quicker. That much is, after all, patently obvious. That the compatibility gap between real world problem and policy solution is growing wider would be amusing if it weren't such a serious affair.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Simply Delicious Conspiracy Theory

OK, follow along here. A band of Somali pirates can successfully target and capture a 1000 foot long, 162,000 ton, $140 million dollar ship, sail it to a hiding spot, and maintain control of it for two months. Remarkable. So, are we really to believe that these pirates, after such a remarkable feet, simply ran into some bad weather, capsized and drowned as they we're returning home with their ransom loot? There is a massive international naval presence precisely in those waters, almost certainly with commando units on board, but these poor unfortunates simply met with a little bad, weather-related, luck? Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.

Stimulus Skepticism Makes You Stupid; Next Step: War Crime

Greg Mankiw (called out, among many many other folks who disagree with Brad DeLong, as stupid and/or ethics-free and accused of Republican hackery) points out Gary Becker's views on the impending large government spending-focused stimulus plan. My first reaction is how could DeLong have missed a chance to similarly label Becker? I mean, Becker is big game, wot with that Nobel Prize and all. To discredit him with the stupid, ethics-free, hackery charge would have been a coup - exposing this prominent economist for what he truly is would have dispelled skepticism of Obamanomics once and for all! DeLong either didn't see the target or held fire. Perhaps we'll never know. (Also, check out this insouciant disregard for DeLong's penetrating insight.)

My second reaction was to actually read Becker's thoughts and cogitate over them. Becker, despite his obvious hackery, makes a point worth noting - Obama's stimulus plan is heavy on stimulating energy, health, and education. Are these the folks who are out of work? Are we sure it is not hardhats, drywall guys, brick layers, rivet drivers, etc? Also, doesn't energy, healthcare and education require alot of schooling? Does your average unemployed John or Jane know his or her chemistry (carbon chains, butane, ethane and all that)? Healthcare? No schooling required there, no specialized knowledge there, everybody knows how to put in an IV or do a CAT scan. Education? The ins and outs of pedagogy, how children learn, the subtleties of competing curricula...basic stuff, anybody could do it. Don't forget "green" stuff. Millions of people are poised and ready to achieve new frontiers in chemistry that have previously been untrammelled by human progress, we just need to provide a little funding. Ok, the sarcasm was fun, but isn't the point obvious - these are highly technical areas or areas that require advanced training. The people who could do jobs in energy, healthcare and education are relatively few in number and likely already employed. FDR's New Deal paid people to dig ditches, which didn't make economic sense, but at least it paired the work with the skills of the folks who needed work. This stimulus doesn't pair the work with those who need the work, but it does pair money with those that need the money.

Is God Ugandan?

Potentially a "multi-billion" barrel find in Uganda. But remember folks, there is no more oil out there left to find. And we can't drill our way out of our high gas price problem. So says the Peak Oilers. My advice: thank the Heavens every day for human ingenuity that is capable of finding and putting to remarkable use this otherwise useless black sludge, refuse membership in the Pigou Club (and the Cap and Trade Club for that matter), channel Dr. Phil, and, above all, trust in Julian Simon.

Or don't worry at all, because yet one more country seems to be on the brink of national greatness...but God, it would seem, is still Brazilian.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Liberal Intolerance to be Disguised at Columbia for Brief Moment: Come and Join In!

Yes, I'm very sure that folks up at Columbia will put partisanship aside at this event. Translation: While we are gloating we won't shout you down or bum rush you if you have a view outside of radical liberalism. When all the Messiah love is done though, forget it.

More On Gaza

Edward Luttwak takes to the pages of the WSJ today to say about Hamas essentially what I said here and here about Hezbollah. Hamas is Israel's enemy. Killing your enemies and taking away their military capability is good strategy. Only a putative intellectual or the clueless media could mistake it as otherwise.

Thursday, January 08, 2009


In August of 2006, Michael Totten said (of Israel and those who want to destroy it), "War is coming again, and it's coming like Christmas."

He would have been more accurate if he said, "War is coming again, and its coming like Christmas...and on Christmas."

See also here and here and here.

I haven't given it much thought lately b/c I'm preoccupied with the markets, but this doesn't seem like a smart move on Iran's part.  Perhaps they felt like they had to take another shot at Israel before they really have to confront their own problems.  Memories are still fresh, Israelis know their problem in 2006 was lack of will.  Did the Iranians really think that they could let Hamas loose and get the same wooly response from the Israelis as in 2006?  Or maybe they are trying to tie up the Israelis so they don't have time to do something else...

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The Supply Side Comes to the Great White Way

I love it when a wave of supply-side fever comes rolling through the heart Liberalville. New Yorkers reflexively vote for hack, big government Democrat politicians 9 times out of 10. I'd say we get what we deserve. While I am sympatico with the Broadway crowd, I am not sympathetic. Maybe when the artsy crowd gets behind reducing taxes on investment and capital, I'll feel differently.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Right Hand, Meet Left Part II

SUV sales bounced back in December more so than more fuel efficient smaller cars. Of course the smug media blames "short memories." Translation: we're all stupid. Well, aside from the fact that maybe we just don't like or need small cars, we ain't as stupid as we seem...ya' see, there is this little provision of the tax code, placed there under the auspices of "economic stimulus," called a section 179 deduction that lets us get yummy tax avoidance goodies by buying...drum roll...SUVs and trucks! Didn't you see all those ads in the newspapers around the holidays telling you that time was running out to buy a big ole' truck and claim all the tax goodies for 2008? I did. In fact my mother-in-law went out and bought one. She wanted a sedan, but for a small businesswoman, the tax benefits are just too good to pass up, and many comfortable, non-behemoth SUVs qualify.

So, here's a suggestion for all the geniuses in the Great Sausage Factory - if you want people to buy more fuel-efficient vehicles, a good place to start would be to stop subsidizing the least fuel-efficent vehicles.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Peak of Peak

Don Luskin makes a point well worth noting, and reminds me of a certain prescience. Honestly, I hope we've see Peak Barney Frank.