Saturday, October 4, 2008

Deflation fears or not

Greg Mankiw is perplexed by the return offered by the 5 year inflation adjusted bonds:
One might have thought that widespread fear in financial markets would cause a flight to quality, driving the price of safe assets up and their yields down.... If one wants to flee risky assets and invest safely, for many investors [5-year inflation-adjusted government bonds] are a pretty good place to be. But their yields, rather than falling, have been rising sharply of late. It's a puzzle.

This is a little bit beyond my technical capabilities, but it is not all that perplexing to me. In fact, it is one more data point that the current financial crisis is potentially very threatening to the American economy. These bonds are indexed to inflation, and would quickly lose value in a deflationary period. Investors are avoiding these bonds because they are expecting a deflationary period in the very near future. The fear is based upon an expectation that the credit crunch will cause a contraction in the money supply leading to deflation.

Update: I looked at the 5 Year Treasury note versus the 5 Year Treasury Inflation Indexed note. The 5 Year Treasury note is falling and trading at 2.87. The 5 Year Treasury Inflation Indexed note is rising and trading at 1.92. Based upon this information, it is clear that investors are still willing to pay a premium for protection from inflation (i.e., they still expect inflation). However, the amount of the premium that they are willing to pay for protection from inflation is decreasing.

So, it is clear that I was wrong (or overstated the case) to say they expect deflation. Instead, it would be more accurate to say that the rise in the yield of the 5 Year Treasury Inflation Index note is a result in a decrease of the expected inflation rate.

If at any point the 5 Year Treasury Inflation Index note rises higher than the 5 Year Treasury note, then at that point it could be said that the investors are demanding a premium for the deflation that they expect.

McCain should win the election

Dan Balz at the Washington Post writes:
But when Hart stepped back and focused in particular on the four voters who said their vote could still be won by McCain or Obama, it was telling that all four had supported President Bush in 2000 and 2004. Not a single Kerry or Gore voter was wavering over Obama.

If this focus group is indicative of the general population, and the only undecideds left are former Bush supporters, I feel much better about McCain chances than what the polls are indicating. I am guessing it will be much eaiser for McCain to convince former Bush supporters to vote for him, as it will be for Obama.

Additionally, the VP debate might have been enough to seal the deal for McCain. For the past few weeks, the media elite have been relentlessly mocking Palin as an idiot. This put enormous internal pressure on these "soft" Republicans not to commit to McCain (no one wants to deal with constantly hearing that their preferred candidate selected an idiot for a VP). Palin's performance in the debate might have been enough to instill them with the confidence to no longer fear having to hear other people's low opinion of Sarah Palin.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Marketing to the wrong demographic

I have a friend who is an eBay scofflaw. She has earned a life time eBay ban due to her tendency not to pay for items she has bid on. She asked me to bid on some bras for her. I did so. It wasn't a big deal, but now every time I log onto eBay, they are trying to sell me some more bras.

The Biden the media does not want you to know

Pulled from Youtube

Could any Republican get away with saying what Biden says about the Iowa school system versus the DC school system?

Post Bailout Politics

Paul Mirengoff at Power Line provides John Boehner statement on the bailout:

The passage of this flawed but necessary bill is not cause for celebration.

The financial crisis is not a failure of the free-market system. It is a failure of a broken Washington, and a government culture that allowed executives at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and other firms to run amok, ultimately imperiling our nation’s economy. For years Republicans warned of this danger and advocated reform of these government-sponsored enterprises. And for years such reforms were thwarted by legislators with deep political ties to the worst offenders, putting the companies’ interests ahead of the interests of our country.

House Republicans stood on principle throughout this process. We secured numerous reforms on behalf of American taxpayers, such as raising the FDIC insurance cap, the SEC’s change to mark-to-market rules for certain assets that have worsened the credit crisis, and an insurance program that forces Wall Street to bear a financial burden in the rescue package. Republicans also were successful in stripping from the original Paulson-Democrat bailout plan of its special-interest earmarks for trial lawyers, labor bosses, and thinly-veiled political organizations like ACORN. This significantly improved legislation is much stronger than the initial Paulson plan and protects the interests of families, seniors, small businesses, and all taxpayers.

John Boehner is right. Hopefully, Republicans and conservatives will be able to unite behind this truth and get the American people to understand that the Republicans are working to create wealth, prosperity and security from terrorists while Democrats are working to create poverty, stagnation and uncertainty over America's ability to forcefully counter threats from terrorists.

Premature Pontification

Andrew Sullivan thinks all of the polls show that Obama's lead is growing. He then goes on to criticise conservatives who were heartened by Sarah Palin's debate performance.

Does Andrew Sullivan not realize that the RCP average of polls which he cited only includes polls that were taken before the debate? He maybe right that the VP debate ultimately helps Obama (I doubt it), but he is about 3 days premature in citing polls.

McCain's Health Plan

Ross Douthat offers a good explanation of the economic principles behind the McCain Health Care Plan:
...the typical family will get their $5,000 credit from the government, and something like the remaining $7,000 they need to buy health insurance will show up in their paycheck. Except that a lot of Americans will actually come out ahead, rather than just breaking even, since McCain's plan offers a flat credit regardless of income, whereas under the current system the dollar value of your tax deduction - and thus the compensation your employer is incentivized to give you - goes up as your income rises.

Therefore, if you want the cost of health insurance to decline and a $7,000 pay raise as well, vote for McCain

Media Scoop

If a reporter wanted a good scoop, they should track down the young lady in the following video and ask her what she thinks about Joe Biden's apparent bald face lie.

via Glenn Reynolds pulled from Youtube

Update: I sent a suggestion to Fox that it would make a good story if they were to track down this young lady, but they might not agree, or they might feel that it is too difficult to track the woman down.

So if you are interested in her response, I am thinking maybe it could be gained virally. Send this link to all of your acquaintances who might be interested in her response, and have them do the same. If you have a blog, write a post asking others to do the same or link to this thread. After six to seven degrees of separation, someone should know her, and be able to ask her, what her opinion is. Get that person to upload her response onto youtube, and then reverse the viral process.

Palin winked at me

George Stephanopoulos writes:
She also tried to wink to the audience about four or five times and you got the sense that she really was connecting with the people back home.

This comment makes me wonder if the VP debate is actually going to be more decisive in the favor of the McCain campaign than people realize. Many Americans were turned off by McCain's behavior in the first debate. Palin's winking might be an small but effective way to win them back.

Palin the "Savior"

Before the Republican convention, the McCain campaign was at a low point as Obama appeared to be pulling away towards victory. McCain called on Sarah Palin, and the race was dramatically changed overnight. Recently, again Obama appeared to be pulling away towards victory as the McCain campaign ineffectively responded to the financial crisis, and as liberals and the media effectively attempted to destroy Sarah Palin. Once again, Sarah Palin might very well have given new life to the McCain campaign:

[Palin] may not have been a clear winner Thursday night, but the McCain ticket has got a different story to shout out on Friday.... and that gives Sen. John McCain the narrowest of openings.

McCain Campaign

Mickey Kaus thinks that McCain will turn to Mike Murphy to "save the McCain campaign":
McCain's behind. It's October. If Palin doesn't change the momentum tonight, isn't it getting to be about the time when you'd predict McCain would do what all the insiders said he wouldn't do, namely turn his campaign over to Mike Murphy to see if that will save him?

The McCain campaign has been hurt by two things recently. The first was the the media's insistent pushing of the Palin is an idiot meta-narrative. Tonight's debate most likely effectively killed that meta-narrative.

The second thing that has hurt the McCain campaign has been the financial crisis. The McCain campaign has yet to turn the financial crisis into a political positive. Rather than dumping the campaign manager, the McCain campaign would be better served by finding a way to turn the financial crisis into a political positive.

Palin's Meta-Narrative

Jonah Goldberg writes: is amazing how the press can focus on how Palin's a disaster and then the second she stops being one, the press yawns as if this is a non-story.
Isn't this a good thing and not a bad thing? It means that McCain won last night's debate, and he won it big. It means that the meta-narrative has changed from Palin is an idiot to she is no longer a critical story in this election. Doesn't that help McCain significantly?

The New York Times is still trying to push the Palin is an idiot Meta-Narrative, but I think enough of her detractors were impressed so that it will not have as much of an affect anymore.

Update: My unsolicited advice to conservatives and Republicans. If the press and the liberals do not want to talk about why they think Palin is an idiot, don't invite them to talk about it by bringing the subject up.

Update II: Glenn Reynolds makes essentially the same point I am making, but he does not trust his instincts enough to be certain:
I don't trust my instincts on this stuff .... But it seemed to me that both did well, and that this was a bigger deal for Palin than for Biden since the press was portraying her as some sort of airhead before.

As it is possible that the left might successfully continue to push the Palin is an idiot meta-narrative (it only takes 1 bad Palin interview to bring it back to life), there is definitely room for uncertainty.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Palin versus Obama

An Ace of Spades reader comments:
The Worst Lies About Sarah Palin don't compare with the Plain Truths about Barack Obama.
Ouch. It is true, but yet, the media reports the lies as truths, and refuses to report the truths.

I am becoming to think we are living in an Orwell Novel.

Circling the Wagons

Howard Kurtz, a Washington Post writer comes to Gwen Ifill's defense, writing:

Ifill's forthcoming book, "The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama," was mentioned in a Sept. 4 Washington Post article., in criticism that was picked up by the Drudge Report and Rush Limbaugh, questioned whether the book would be "pro-Obama" and undermine her fairness as moderator.

"The book has been out there and discussed for months," PBS spokeswoman Anne Bell said. "It's a non-issue."

I sent Howard Kurtz the following e-mail.

So let me see, I like most Americans have been completely unaware of Ifill's book. I only learned of it recently (on Wednesday to be exact). I am guessing that most American who know of Ifill's book are in the same category as me (i.e., they have only recently learned of the book).

Yet since, you can a find a few past public mentions of the book, I and other Americans who are bothered by Ifill's behavior, have to accept it as a non-issue because we did not complain when it was first made public, even though we were unaware it was made public.

Your logic is convoluted.

I know you journalist do not like being called unethical, but I can see no other reason for why you would offer such a convoluted defense for Gwen Ifill's behavior except you are part of the vast media propaganda wing of the Democratic party.

If you do not like being called unethical. Stop acting unethically.

Let us question Ifill's behavior for what it is. If she has a defense, let her offer it, but stop telling us that we have to accept her behavior because our statue of limitations for complaining has passed.

You owe the American people an apology for trying to suppress their right to a free open debate.

I probably will not get a response, but if I do, I will post it.

Prison Movies will never be the same again

At the Wall Street Journal, Justin Scheck writes:
There's been a mackerel economy in federal prisons since about 2004, former inmates and some prison consultants say. That's when federal prisons prohibited smoking and, by default, the cigarette pack, which was the earlier gold standard.

When I was studying economics in college, we actually studied how prisoners used cigarettes to create a money supply. From an economist perspective, anything can be used as money just so long as society feels it is a safe store of value, and people are willing to accept it as currency.

Mike Huckabee was right

Many mainstream Republicans hated Mike Huckabee because they felt he was an anti-capitalist populist. However, there was a truthfulness to Mike Huckabee's populist rhetoric. Unfortunately, Mike Huckabee did not know how to make his rhetoric acceptable to the main stream free market advocates who dominate the Republican party.

Mike Huckabee's populism should be embraced, because it has a truthfulness to it, and it is also the most politically popular way to defend capitalism available.

Democrats, the Party of Greed

Ed Morrissey finds it shocking that some companies prefer the Democratic Party: will be shocked to see Obama... leads in what Al Franken calls “Wall Street” money — Securities/Investments and Commercial Banks. In the former, Democrats enjoy almost a 2-1 advantage over Republicans.

It should not be shocking. Ed Morrissey and others who share his shock probably assume that companies want free markets. Companies do in principle want free markets, but even more than free markets, they want competitive advantages. The Democratic party creates competitve advantages for the Securities/Investments and Commercial Banks, and are rewarded with donations for doing so.

These competitive advantages result from laws that create market inefficiencies. These inefficiencies create short term fluctuations as the market attempts to return to equilibrium. These fluctuations provide ample profit opportunity for smart investors who understand the cause and effect relationship between the laws and the market inefficiencies.

Most investors are long term investors, and do not care about these short term fluctuations. Securities/Investments and Commercial Banks, on the other hand, do care. Furthermore, they have the resources available to identify and understand the cause and effect relationship of market distorting laws. This creates a competitive advantage which allows Securities/Investment and Commercial Banks to profit from long term investors' indifference to short term fluctuations in the market. Hence, they donate to the Democratic Party so that they will continue to write these profit creating market distorting laws.

Additionally, monopolistic corporations also tend to donate more money to the Democratic party than most people would expect. The behavior should not be surprising since monopolistic corporations also gain competitive advantages from market distorting laws.

Market distorting laws produce government endowed economies of scale. Economies of Scale mean that the larger the company is the more efficiently it can create its product. The way the government endows economies of scale is by taxing, subsidizing, and regulating companies.

To respond to these market interferences, companies must hire accountants, tax advisers, lawyers, and human resource personnel to be compliant with all applicable laws, taxes, and regulations. All of the above mentioned personnel are overhead and non productive employees (i.e., they are not engaged in producing the products or services that the companies' revenues are derived from). Hence, the cost of such employees has to be spread across the productive employees. The more employees the company has, the smaller this cost will be per employee. Hence, economies of scale result and all companies are given a competitive advantage if they can grow in size. Consequently, monopolistic corporations reward the Democratic party for taxing, subsidizing and regulating the American economy.


I wonder how many people could end up reading Victor Davis Hanson's column and not realize it is a parody. Some might take my comment as an indictment of the collective intelligence of the American people. It is not. It is an indictment of the American media which has refused to fairly and accurately reports the facts in this election.

Politics Thai style

This is what American politics needs. Hopefully, Sarah Palin will open a can of whoop ass on Gwen Ifill tonight.


The AIDs virus is apparently older than people realized.

McCain thinks life is unfair

McCain complains that life isn't fair. He is right. So, as I asked yesterday, is he going to accept it, or is he going to do something about it?

No Bud on tap

I went out to dinner tonight. At the bar, they were out of Budweiser and a few other beers. I asked the bartender if they were having supply problems. He said they were.

It could be a sign that the restaurant was poorly managed, or it could be a sign of the financial distress the economy is under. Many companies use short term loans to finance their payrolls. With the credit crunch, this restaurant might have been short on supplies because their suppliers are trying to avoid the high interest rates by financing their operations through delaying the delivery of prepaid items.

The world will end tonight

I have had quite a few posts spelling out my position on the financial crisis. So when I read the following post by John Hinderacker at Power Line, I thought it was a fair critique and apropos. Especially the following sentiment:
The bill failed in the House on Monday, and the sky didn't fall. Those who predicted doom are a bit like the cartoon characters who don white robes and climb mountains carrying signs that say "the world will end tonight." They feel silly when the sun comes up the next morning.

It made me feel rather foolish. However, after reading the following post by Eric Posner at the Volokh Conspiracy, I am no longer felling like a "cartoon characters who don white robes and climb mountains carrying signs that say 'the world will end tonight'." The most relevant passage is as follows:
I ought to point out that, in any event, the Fed and Treasury have already made plans to go ahead and lend all the money that you thought Congress had voted down. They are doing so because Congress gave them the authority to do this in statutes enacted long ago, and charged them with the responsibility of resolving financial crises, which is exactly what they are trying to do. It is odd that the critics of the bill are not trying very hard to persuade the Fed to back off. What the Fed and Treasury want from the bailout bill but are not getting (so far) is additional political backing to help restore confidence in the financial markets. One might think that if all this money is going to be spent anyway, the case for the bill, which provides for additional tools and oversight, is rather strong.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A debate preview

Jim Treacher has seen the questions that Gwen Ifill intends to ask on Thursday night.

via Ace of Spades

Gays and Libertarians

In an earlier post, I made the following comment:

Libertarians are being used by the gay community to advocate non libertarian policies.

In the comments, Blue Devil Knight asked a very good question:

How is wanting gov't not to block gays from marrying against liberetarian principles. One of the key principles, from my limited understanding, is that the government's involvement in our economic and personal lives should be minimized. Since gays getting married doesn't hurt anybody, and opposition to it is typically motivated by religious arguments, and marriage is now a secular (state-sponsored) institution, why should libertarians not be against such marriage bans?
My response is complicated, so I wanted to make a whole new post out of my response. Rather than answering the question directly, I am going to answer it indirectly by providing what I feel the philosophical position of gay libertarians should be.

Gay libertarians should believe the following:

  • Individuals should be free to make their own choices in life.
  • Any law that restricts an individuals ability to freely make their own choices is immoral.
  • Individuals who are gay should be free to make their own choices in life without any restriction from the government (just as long as those choices are between 2 or more consenting adults).
  • Freedom should apply to all individuals no matter how repugnant some might find their choices to be (just as long as those choices are not violating other people's rights).
  • If an individual chooses not to rent or sell his home to a gay individual, that individual should be free to do so without having laws criminalizing the behavior.
  • If an individual chooses to fire or not hire an individual due to the person's sexual orientation, that individual should be free to do so.
  • Marriage is essentially a contract of devotion between 2 (or more) individuals. The state should have no interest in such a contract except when to find an amicable dissolution of such a contract. A civil union, as some have suggested as an alternative for gay marriage, should be more than acceptable solution for such a contract. People who are not the party to the contract should be free to accept the terms of the contract at their own discretion without laws mandating their consent, and in some cases, mandating extra benefits (i.e., company provided health insurance, hospital visitation rights). Taxpayers should not be forced to provide extra benefits to individuals who enter into such a contract, and if they are forced to do so, they should have a say in it through their elected representatives rather than having a ruling imposed upon them through judicial fiat.
  • The state should not finance public schools. If the state is going to finance public schools, parents should have as much freedom as possible in choosing the schools that best meet the needs of their children. The reason that is important is because some parents are being forced to pay for public schools through taxes, but then told if they want the benefit of public schools they must send their children to schools that specifically attempt to indoctrinate the children with the belief that the parents religious beliefs on creationism, sexual abstinence and gays is wrong. That has to be the single most offensive form of state coercion that exists today in America, and might very well violate the Separation of Church and State.
  • The state should not finance public libraries. If the state is going to finance public libraries, the libraries belong to the citizens. As such, the citizens should have the right to decide, through their elected officials, the content for the library without being accused of censorship if they deem some material inappropriate. Anyone who objects, should take it upon themselves to buy the book or books in question without bemoaning censorship.

As far as I am aware, no gay libertarians are espousing the positions that I just presented. Until gay libertarians start promoting these views or convince me why I am an idiot for believing such, I am going to feel gays are using libertarians to promote non libertarian policies.

I am voting for the Democratic nominee

A good video explaining why everyone should vote for the Democrats:

via The Urban Conservative

Libertarian Paternalism

Will Wilkinson at Reason Magazine complains about libertarian paternalism:
The fear—shared by libertarians, liberals, and some of the behavioral economists themselves—is that exposing humans as "irrational" perpetrators of cognitive "anomalies" invites invasive control by paternalistic elites.

From my point of view, America already has the invasive control by the paternalistic elite. And, the paternalistic elite have been insatiable in their desire to gain more and more control as a means to achieve their ends. Thaler and Sunstein's libertarian paternalism gives these paternalistic elite a new means to achieve their ends without having to resort to the draconian means of even more invasive control. In that since, I think libertarians should thank Thaler and Sunstein for their work.

Wilkinson goes on to offer the following critique:
A liberty-minded "libertarian paternalist" would focus more than Thaler and Sunstein do on reinstating choices that the state has already stripped away.

While this is true, libertarians on their own initiative could use libertarian paternalism to reopen closed debates and restore lost choices to the American people.

Quote of the Day

Remember when that dork chariot, the Segway, was supposed to utterly reshape transportation?

A Conservative Civil War

Paul Waldman is salivating over the impending conservative Civil War:
...all the pillars that have held up conservatism for so long are crumbling. When the dust settles, it will be difficult to know just what it means to be a conservative.

Unfortunately, if conservatives do not come together, Paul's words may be prophetic.
Is a conservative who doesn't proclaim the perfection of the free market and the evil of government still a conservative?

America has not had a truly free market economy since the late 1920's. Conservatives first must rally to save capitalism. Once the future of capitalism is safe and secure, conservatives must work to purge the perverse incentives that have precipitated this crisis and that continually confiscate wealth from the American people.
What about a conservative who thinks his comrades ought to quit yapping about gay marriage and get into the 21st century?

Libertarians are being used by the gay community to advocate non libertarian policies. It is the libertarians who need to wake up to this, and they need to stop letting the gay community use them. Libertarians should support gays but only where that support leads to an advancement of libertarian principles. Libertarians should be in alliance with paleocons on most policy issues that the gay community is trying to advance.
What about a conservative who wants to accede to the public's desire for a less bellicose foreign policy?

Due to the state that America's finances will be in for the foreseeable future, all conservatives should essentially advocate more or less an isolationist foreign policy.


Tim Rutten has a column on Iran and Islamic extremism. Most of what he says has already been said ad infinitum by Neo-Cons. So he really does not have anything new to add, but if you are unaware why Neo-Cons are such war mongers (for the record, I am a Neo-Con) when it comes to Iran, the article might be insightful.

War on the Press?

Chris Cilliza of the Washington Post cries about how mean the McCain campaign is to the press:

Palin's recent condemnations of the press are part of a broader war against the media by the McCain campaign.


Blaming the media has been a tried and true Republican tactic to rally their base, and -- judging from the derogatory chants of "NBC! NBC!" at the Republican National Convention it has worked like a charm.

I sent Chris the following e-mail.
Do you really believe that the chants of NBC! NBC! NBC! were a tactic to rally the base rather than a natural reaction to the rabid partisanship of Chris Matthews, Keith Olberman, etc at NBC?

Do you really believe that Palin's recent condemnations of the press are part of a broader war against the media by the McCain campaign rather than a response to the war that the media is conducting against McCain and Republicans?

I know that you probably do not accept this, but the mainstream media has become a virtual propaganda wing of the Democratic Party.

A READER AT A MAJOR NEWSROOM EMAILS: "Off the record, every suspicion you have about MSM being in the tank for O is true. We have a team of 4 people going thru dumpsters in Alaska and 4 in [A]rizona. Not a single one looking into Acorn, Ayers or Freddiemae. Editor refuses to publish anything that would jeopardize election for O, and betting you dollars to donuts same is true at NYT, others. People cheer when CNN or NBC run another Palin-mocking but raising any reasonable inquiry into [O]bama is derided or flat out ignored. The fix is in, and it's working."

Are you completely oblivious to how unethical the mainstream media is, and your reporting is a reflection of your obliviousness? Or, are your aware, and your reporting is a further reflection of that unethical behavior?

I doubt I will get a response, but if I do, I will certainly publish it.

Life is not fair

Complaining about how unfair life is does nothing to make life fair. Here are 2 examples of how life is unfair to Republicans/Conservatives.
Are Republican/Conservatives going to do anything about it? Or are they just going to accept? If history is any guide, they are not going to do anything but complain, and then accept it.

Grass root Republicans/Conservatives want something done, but they need effective leadership to do something productive. Influential Republicans/Conservatives provide no leadership on how to productively counter these brazen unethical Democratic party advantages. Republican/Conservatives need a community organizer.

Update: I am guessing most people who read my blog have read instapundit long before they get to my blog, but in case you haven't, Glenn Reynolds provides some pretty good answers to what Republicans/Conservatives should do. Just a snippet of that advice:

If you want to have a media environment that isn't dominated by the Gwen Ifills and Keith Olbermanns of the world, you need to ensure that other kinds of voices flourish.

Obama's Campaign Finances

Ken Timmerman reports on possible law breaking by the Obama campaign (via Powerline):

Biersack would not comment on whether the FEC was investigating the huge amount of cash that has come into Obama’s coffers with no public reporting.

But Massie Ritsch, a spokesman for CRP, a campaign-finance watchdog group, dismissed the scale of the unreported money.

“We feel comfortable that it isn’t the $20 donations that are corrupting a campaign,” he told Newsmax.

It doesn't matter whether the campaign is corrupted or not. It is potential a violation of the law. I am sure the McCain campaign would have no problem raising as much money as the Obama campaign if it brazenly broke the law in the same manner that the Obama campaign appears to be doing.

Obama will be sleeping on the couch tonight

Warner Todd Huston quotes Obama as saying:
[Obama] thought to bring [Michele] before the enraptured crowd and let everyone know that [they were] having [their] 15th Anniversary.... “She just about has me trained. Almost. I still do stupid things she tells me sometimes,"
Stupid things?!?! Like forgetting how long he has been married to his wife (it is actually his 16th anniversary). Apparently, she hasn't trained him well enough.

Bill Clinton

So is it Hillary or the skipper that has Bill feeling this way?

The link is is safe for work, but there is a photo at the link that might scar you for life.


In case you need some help flirting this link will provide you with some scientific guidance:
Flirting is much more than just a bit of fun: it is a universal and essential aspect of human interaction.
It is has some good advice, such as:
We only become aware of the rules when someone commits a breach of this etiquette – by flirting with the wrong person, perhaps, or at an inappropriate time or place. Chatting up a widow at her husband's funeral, for example, would at the very least incur disapproval, if not serious distress or anger.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Mark Levin on the bailout

Mark Levin has a face for Radio and a voice for writing (in spite of that awful voice, I understand his radio program does quite well). Mark thanks the House Republicans for their actions and says:
The liberal uses crises, real or manufactured, to expand the power of government at the expense of the individual and private property. He has spent, in earnest, 70 years evading the Constitution's limits on governmental power. If conservatives don't stand up to this, who will? If they don't offer serious alternatives that address the current circumstances AND defend the founding principles, who will?

Everything Mark says is true. The problem is that the House Republicans actions might make the crisis worse. If so, liberals will have a real/manufactured crisis "to expand the power of government at the expense of the individual and private property".

Money Multiplier effect

The reason so many economist are concerned about the crisis is because they understand the money multiplier effect. In this case, rather than being created through the money multiplier effect, money is at risk of being destroyed through the money multiplier effect.

Mark to Market

John Hinderaker writes:
As the economic crisis has deepened over the last several weeks, a number of knowledgeable people have told me that the simplest thing the government could do that would have a significant effect on the availability of credit is to ease the "mark to market" rule. A couple of hours ago, the SEC did just that.

It is amazing that a decision a simple as this could have that much of an effect, but it is possible due to the money multiplier effect. Hopefully this will be enough to ease the credit crunch.

Regardless of the size of the effect, it makes you wonder what took them so long to make such a simple change.

Evil Overlord Rules

Rule Number 12:
One of my advisors will be an average five-year-old child. Any flaws in my plan that he is able to spot will be corrected before implementation.

Someone should write a movie based upon the 100 rules of being an Evil Overlord. At the end of the movie, the hero will thwart the evil overlord's plans. The overlord will be irate and want to know how his plans were thwarted when he followed all of the rules. The hero will explain that his five year old son and the evil overlord's child advisor are playmates, and the child advisor inadvertently revealed all of the overlords plans in an innocent game of world domination that the 2 played.

Gender Equity

From Freakonomics:

Men who believe a woman’s place is in the home, rather than in the workplace, are likely to earn substantially more than men who believe women deserve equal pay for equal work.

...sexist men earned, on average, $11,930 more per year than their egalitarian male counterparts over a 25-year period.

...women who believed in gender equality earned $1,052 more per year than women who held more “traditional” views.

Assuming a sexist man marries a woman who accepts her place is in the home, the sexist man has to earn enough to support two people. Whereas a non-sexist man only has to earn enough to support just one person. From my perspective, sexism does not pay (i.e., $11,930 is not enough to compensate for having to support two people as opposed to just one).

Greed vs Fear

Greg Manikew writes:
Warren Buffett has said, "you should get greedy when others are fearful and fearful when others are greedy." If he is right, then this is the time to get greedy. There is no doubt that most everyone else is fearful.

That is a pretty good rule of thumb. However, the rule breaks down when the fear is rational. For example, who made out better in 1929, the people who operated out of fear and got out of the stock market or the people who got into the market because people's fear made it a ripe time to get into the market?

Quote of the Day

Brett Arends writes:
The amount wiped off the American stock market on Monday alone was $1.3 trillion. That's almost twice as much as the theoretical price tag on the bill.

Many American taxpayers have already paid for this crisis through a loss of value in their retirement portfolios. The good news is that money can be regained, but it can only be recovered by solving the underlying problems. Otherwise, even more is at risk.

Princeton Economist Panel on the Financial Crisis

via Andrew Sullivan

In defense of elitism

Thomas Sowell writes:
The roots of this problem go back many years, but since the crisis to which all this led happened on George W. Bush's watch, that is enough for those who think in terms of talking points, without wanting to be confused by the facts.

People who think in terms of talking points generally considered themselves to be intellectual elites. The true intellectual elites are people such as Thomas Sowell who have actually studied the problem, know what the root causes are, and how to address them.

The Death of Capitalism

Daniel Gross writes:
Just as happened in 1932, it's possible that the Republicans' incompetence and bullheadedness in managing a financial crisis could lead to Democrats controlling both the White House and Congress.

This sentiment should strike fear in the heart of every free market advocate who reads it. Before the Great Depression, America had a classical free market economy. America was almost a libertarian utopia. After the Great Depression, America slowly became a socialized paternalistic big government nanny state.

If the financial crisis gets worse, and the Democratic party increases its political control, capitalism as we know it may not be able to survive. Saving capitalism should be the goal of all those who ideologically believe in free markets. If that means a bailout needs to be passed, then so be it.

Update: Megan McArdle says it better than I do:
It is worth noting, in answer to the libertarians who are wary of government intervention in the economy, that if there is a serious crash, we will get even more government intervention in the economy--and intervention that is much less to our liking. That cost has to be weighed in your assessment.

The right of eminent domain

Congress should make a list of individuals who are most responsible for this financial crisis (Franklin Raines, Jim Johnson, etc). Then through the right of eminent domain, they should seize all of their property. After taking their property, they should use it to purchase the illiquid assets that are causing the credit crunch. Then, they should give these illiquid assets back to the individuals who had their property seized.

Actually, congress probably should not do this, but it would be awesome if they did.

Rabble Rousing

Jonah Goldberg writes:

...if there ever has been a moment when reasonable men's hands itch for the pitchfork, this must surely be it. No one is blameless. No one is pure. Two decades of crapulence by the political class has been prologue to the era of coprophagy that is now upon us. It is crap sandwiches for as far as the eye can see.

I already have my pitchfork in hand. I just need to no where the mob is at so I can join the crowd.

Monday, September 29, 2008

10 Dimensions

A video explaining the 10 dimension of our universe.


Atheist always seem to forget communism when they mock religious people for Holy Wars.

Stock Market Drop

Ilya Somin at the Volkoh Conspiracy writes:

The stock market's record 778 point drop today will no doubt lead many people to conclude that the House of Representatives was wrong to vote down the bailout plan backed by both the Bush Administration and the Democratic leadership. Indeed, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has already made that argument. ...I think such claims are wrong.

What is good for stockholders isn't necessarily good for the economy as a whole.

Past history shows that stock market drops, even big ones, don't necessarily cause longterm damage to the economy.

Those are fair points, but I wonder how far the stock market has to drop before those who oppose the bailout tend to change their point of view.

Rosh Hashannah?

Joshua Zumbrun and Brian Wingfield write:
A new vote today or tomorrow, however, is unlikely as many Jewish members of the House will be away tomorrow to observe Rosh Hashanah.
I am sorry. I do not mean to be rude or disrespectful, but Congress needs to get back in session and get a plan that can pass. Preventing financial chaos is more important than showing deference to Jewish members. I would hope God would be willing to forgive those members who choose to work on Rosh Hashannah.

Democratic Iraq

Peter Galbraith's Article on Iraq is really not worth reading, but I just want to respond the following comment in the article:
We hear again and again from Washington that we have turned a corner in Iraq and are on the path to victory. If so, it is a strange victory. Shiite religious parties that are Iran's closest allies in the Middle East control Iraq's central government and the country's oil-rich south.

First, the statement is untrue. Iran's closest allies in the Middle East are Hezbollah and Syria. Second, while the statement has a hint of truth to it (i.e., some members of the Iraqi government are aligned with Iran), it ignores that many members of the Iraqi government view Iran as a existential threat to the Iraqi state. Third and finally, even if it were completely true, so what. Iraq is a democracy, and democratic nations are free to choose who they want to align with. America can handle Iran regardless of whether Iraq aligns with it or not.

Advice for McCain

I agree with Bill Kristol's advice for John McCain:
McCain should break the mold and acknowledge, even emphasize the crisis. He can explain that dealing with it requires candor and leadership of the sort he’s shown in his career. McCain can tell voters we’re almost certainly in a recession, and things will likely get worse before they get better.

In fact, all Republicans need to follow it. The crisis exists and the American people know it. They are looking for answers and solutions. Republicans need to start providing those answers and solutions. Instead, all they are getting from Republicans are it is the Democrats fault (which while true does nothing to address the problem), and the bailout is not worth it (which is debatable and again does not provide a solution to the problem).

Pelosi's diatribe

Ben Pershing writes:

House Republican leaders gave a press conference right after the vote, and they have strongly suggested that Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif.) floor speech toward the end of the debate was at least partly to blame for the loss. "I do believe we would have gotten there had the Speaker not made this partisan speech on the floor of the house," Boehner said.

It's too early to know whether Pelosi's speech, which laid much of the blame for the whole financial crisis at the foot of the Bush administration, really made much of a difference. But if several House Republicans actually did switch their votes on a momentous piece of legislation just because they were irritated by a speech, what does that say about them? As Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) mockingly characterized the GOP's argument: "Somebody hurt my feelings, so I'm going to punish the country."

Contrary to what Barney Franks and Ben Pershing think, Republicans who voted against this legislation were not attempting to punish the country out of spite for Nancy Pelosi. Instead, many Republican congressmen felt this legislation was awful for America. Those Republicans needed to be convinced that this legislation was good for America. Pelosi's partisan rhetoric made it more difficult to do so. Pelosi ignorantly put partnership above the good of the country.

Third Parties

Every minor political party in America has a once in lifetime chance to break the 2 party stranglehold on politics in America.

Great Depression of '09

Irwin Kellner writes:

...this is not a depression in any way shape or form.

While I am at it, I would like to take issue with the almost ubiquitous use of the word "bailout" to describe the government's rescue package.

Folks, this is not a bailout of anyone, not Wall Street, not Main Street, and certainly not the so-called "fat cats." It's an infusion of liquidity, designed to unclog the financial markets. In doing so, it will benefit everyone, business and consumers alike.

Being in a depression and being on the verge of going into a depression are 2 different things. Those who are talking of the depression are warning that the United States is on a verge of going into a depression. Let's hope that they are wrong, but I fear that they are right.

A Pox on both your houses

MSNBC Reports:
The House on Monday defeated a $700 billion emergency rescue for the nation's financial system, ignoring urgent warnings from President Bush and congressional leaders of both parties that the economy could nosedive into recession without it.

What a way to waste a weekend. Negotiators worked nearly all weekend trying to reach a compromise, and the deal is rejected.

The Market Crashes

America's coming Second Civil War

The financial crisis has had the effect of drastically increasing the ideological polarization in America to the point where a Second Civil War may be unavoidable. America has always been divided ideologically, but neither side had too much to lose. Elections only marginally changed the direction of America, and hence, the losing side was willing to accept defeat and work for victory in the next election.

However, both sides now view the status quo as being untenable, and neither side will be content to accept marginal changes in the status quo. Consequently, each side of the ideological spectrum has an incentive to win every election until the opposing sides' ideological view has been vanquished. This ideological chasm may be too great, and the incentive to avoid being on the losing side may be so strong that a second American Civil War may become unavoidable.

America's future

America's future is at stake. The bailout has changed America's financial standing, and both sides of the ideological spectrum need to adjust their arguments to these new conditions. Larry Summers (via Glenn Reynolds) is offering the liberal position on how America should move forward:

A time when confidence is lagging in the consumer, financial and business sectors is not a time for government to step back.

Well-designed policies are essential to support the economy and, given the seriousness of health-care, energy, education and inequality issues, can make a longer-term contribution as well.
Where is the new conservative vision for America? Here is my vision, but I am blogging in obscurity.

Update: Howard Fineman is also espousing the new liberal view that capitalism in America is dead. If conservatives do not stand up and fight for capitalism, it might very well die.

Update II: Howard Fineman wrote "The era of cowboy capitalism has died, largely of self-inflicted wounds." The video belows shows that Howard Fineman does not know what he is talking about. For those who are unaware, Fannie May and Fredie Mac are not free market institutions. They are government created and subsidized institutions.

The video is via Glenn Reynolds.

Modern Day Pirates

The AP Reports:

U.S. warships and helicopters on Monday surrounded a hijacked cargo ship loaded with Sudan-bound tanks and other arms to keep the weapons from falling "into the wrong hands," an American Navy spokesman said.


The pirates who seized the ship are demanding a $20 million ransom.

What is up with all these reports of piracy in the news lately? I thought piracy had been nearly eradicated, but now it seems like it is the largest growth industry in the world economy. If the financial sector does not improve here in America, I may have to look into seeing if I can become a pirate myself.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Financial crisis resolved?

Hugh Hewitt writes:
If, as appears likely, the two parties which are on opposite sides of a deep ideological divide can work together to resolve a crisis and then immediately return to throwing hammers at each other for five weeks, this will be as great an example of the wonders of our system that can be imagined.

Now that the crisis has been resolved (hopefully), libertarians, conservatives and all those who embrace free markets need to work to save and restore capitalism in America. The stakes are now to high to allow the paternalistic socialist state to continue acquiring more control over the economy and the lives of American people.

Those who embrace free markets need to sell the concept to the American people that the cost of this bailout need not be equally borne by all members of society. Instead, it could more productively be borne by the least productive members of society (i.e., the do nothing civil servant bureaucrats, parasitic accountants and lawyers, upper middle class welfare king and queen college professors, wealthy foreign allies who do not adequately pay for their own defense, dead beat home owners that caused this crisis, monopolistic corporations who gain government induced economy of scale advantages through laws and regulations, etc).

These are tough arguments to make, and undoubtedly, free market advocates will be accused of having no compassion. However, free market advocates need to frame the debate around the concept of having compassion for the hard working Americans who are being asked to borne the cost of solving a problem that they did not create. Free market advocates can win these arguments and save and restore capitalism in America, but they need to get to work ASAP.

Wit and Sarcasm

At Psychology Today, Louise Dobson writes: a series of studies, participants were only able to accurately communicate sarcasm and humor in barely half—56 percent—of the emails they sent. What's worse, most people had no idea that they weren't making themselves understood.

In my experience, people tend to think I am being humorous when I am being serious, and serious when I am being humorous. Of course, I view that to be user defects, and not a defect of my writing.

via Guy Kawasaki

Anti-"Elitist" and proud

Dr Joan Bushell writes:
[Sam] Harris had some wonderful commentary in Newsweek on the Republican VP candidate. Of particular worth is the following comment regarding "elitism" in US politics:
Ask yourself: how has "elitism" become a bad word in American politics? There is simply no other walk of life in which extraordinary talent and rigorous training are denigrated. We want elite pilots to fly our planes, elite troops to undertake our most critical missions, elite athletes to represent us in competition and elite scientists to devote the most productive years of their lives to curing our diseases. And yet, when it comes time to vest people with even greater responsibilities, we consider it a virtue to shun any and all standards of excellence. When it comes to choosing the people whose thoughts and actions will decide the fates of millions, then we suddenly want someone just like us, someone fit to have a beer with, someone down-to-earth--in fact, almost anyone, provided that he or she doesn't seem too intelligent or well educated.
Generally, the American people do not reject "elites" because they are intelligent or well educated.

Wise people are foolish if they cannot adapt to foolish people. --Michel Eyquem de Montaigne

A wise man is a man who knows how little he knows. --Socrates.

Instead, the American people reject "elites" because they are fools who have not learned to adapt nor recognize how little they know. I have additional thoughts on the subject here.

Large Hadron Collider

via A Blog Around the Clock