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Saturday, August 13, 2005

French Economy Grows. Got A Microscope?

That killer French economy blasted away last quarter with growth of 0.1%. No, not 1%. One tenth of a percent. The rest of Europe was minimally better. Reports BBC:

French economic growth weakened in the three months to June, mirroring a slowdown across the 12-nation eurozone...Figures released on Thursday showed that overall eurozone growth slowed to 0.3% in the second quarter, from 0.5%.

U.S. growth was downgraded to 3.4% because of the increase in trade defecit mostly caused by increased fuel prices.

Just the facts.

You Are Innocent? Congress Says You Still Pay

A few months ago, in a close vote of 413 to 10, Congress approved legislation to “reform” deposit insurance. One part of this courageous legislation is to increase insured deposits from $100,000 to $130,000 as well as double cover limits for certain types of IRAs and 401(k)s and increase coverage limits for municipal deposits. This should make us all feel confident that another bailout like the one we saw in savings and loans 15 years ago will occur some time soon.

Why? Has anyone read about the real estate bubble?

Per the NYT in many locations real estate has experienced marked price reductions or decelerations. While I do not adhere to the real estate market gloom, realtors are reporting that houses are taking longer to sell. Rather than a real estate bust, there may be a shift towards a market in equilibrium for buyers and sellers. Such places as Boston, Long Island and San Diego have the highest “risk indicators” (factors include home prices, the labor market and home affordability). As we all know, there has been a proliferation of interest-only mortgages provided by lenders over the past 3 years. Thus, many higher-risk borrowers are imperiling the financial future of many lenders. Should people default on there loans, can bank failures be far off?

Meanwhile, Delta Air Lines is looking at declaring bankruptcy again. This imperils the government program protecting employee pensions. Delta owes $135 million in pension contributions for 2005. As George Will reported last January the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp and "is taking over the pilots' pension plan of United and will soon have all of US Airways' pensions, just as in recent years it took over many from the steel industry."

In both instances, government "protection" allows parties on both sides of the negotiation to avoid risk. The ante can be upped since there is a waiting guarantor.

Allowing the free market to provide parties clear information about the risk of any transaction and to individually pay for mistakes has been replaced with financial risk to people uninvolved in the transaction. You and I have no stake in these deals. We certainly do not gain. If we deposit our money in wise banks, those banks must pay the same premium as the profligate ones. FDIC premiums are unaffected by underwriting considerations that private insurance applies.

You and I can sit by and hope for the best. Decisions are being made that will affect our lives without our input. There were 10 stalwarts who voted against the FDIC increase.

Source of 50,000 Insurgents Captured,Killed

A Google search came up with this article (not the one Iread last week but it will do) from the Washington Times (do not expect anything like this from WaPo).

In an article entitled "50,000 Iraqi insurgents dead, caught" it was reported:

U.S. and Iraqi forces have killed or arrested more than 50,000 Iraqi insurgents in the past seven months, a former top general who has headed repeated Pentagon assessment missions to Iraq said yesterday.

Gen. Jack Keane, a former deputy chief of staff for the Army, also said the United States has a good picture of the leadership of the vicious insurgency but less of an idea about its mid- and lower-level ranks.

Of course, kill ratios are certainly comparing apples to oranges here. It is really insurgents against policemen rather than military. On one side are snipers, car bombers and suicide bombers targeting citizens, government officials and employees and US personnel. While the number 50,000 may not be accurate, the "kill ratio" is largely in the favor of the US forces.

Now that I have tackled this dispute, I have to get 7 dozen bagels for the family's breakfast.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Our Kill Ratio Is Tremendous

I have read it reported that we have captured, killed or maimed 50,000 insurgents in 2005 so far. Our losses, though steep for our liking, are a small percentage of the enemy's losses.

Sometimes the Bias Is In What ISN’T Reported

Mike Taylor treats us to the following on NPR and NARAL's ad:

As many of you know, I work out of the corner of my living room. While tapping away at my laptop, making profits by navigating the information superhighway, I faithfully listen to talk radio (Rush, Sean and sometimes O’Reilly). But most of the day I listen to classical music delivered by my local National Public Radio station, WSHU at Sacred Heart University. I find it’s good for my blood pressure and peace of mind.

News reports at the top of each hour come from the Washington DC-based NPR news organization. These reports interrupt the otherwise soothing flow of the “Three B’s” (Bach, Beethoven and Bartok). I take this hourly opportunity to monitor what passes for reportage among the self-proclaimed intelligentsia that inhabit NPR newsrooms.

I can’t say that I have completely analyzed NPR news coverage, but there are many trends that I notice in my daily listening. The first of which is that the Iraq war is covered as if NPR employs ambulance chasing lawyers hired by the terrorists. There’s a lot of one-sided yelling and outrageous claims of how dire and hopeless the situation has become.

It seems that all Iraqis do all day is stand in line so that they can be blown up by car bombs. All American soldiers are good for is cannon fodder for “insurgents”… with no end in sight. I was a young kid when Walter Cronkite would post the daily death toll during his coverage of the Viet Nam War but it seems that today’s reporting is extraordinarily similar, except that no one notices that the totals are much lower than they were in the ‘60’s.

The typical NPR war report is a recap from the on-the-scene reporter of what blew up where and how many Americans were killed. Afterwards, the news host (including Ann Taylor, no relation) will usually chronicle American fatalities “A total of 1,872 Americans have lost their lives since the start of the Iraq conflict in…”. And with that, NPR is done reporting on Iraq. “That’s the sum total of what’s happening folks, nothing else to see here, move along…”

Those of you who have followed this space in the past may recall that I rail against the type of reporting coming out of Iraq. Reporters rarely leave their Green Zone hotels. They rely on local stringers to actually collect on-the-street news, hopefully with footage of something blowing up, on fire or still smoldering. The practice is similar to local news: a burning house or wrecked vehicle is far more compelling video than anything else. I have made the analogy that Iraq reporting is equivalent to covering your community by standing outside the local hospital’s Emergency Room. Everyone is shooting each other, knifing each other or getting into car wrecks.

“It’s total chaos folks. The lawlessness, barbarity and human tragedy here in Scarsdale is never-ending! It’s not safe on the streets of Scarsdale and nothing can change that!. Oh the humanity!!”

Occasionally, NPR takes a break to pound on any number of George W. Bush’s domestic policies or appointments.

The Supreme Court nomination of John Roberts is a hot topic, of course. The first salvo from the left wing liberal action groups came from NARAL Pro-Choice America with their anti-Roberts ad. By now, Et Tu Blogites know the story. The ad isn’t merely a distortion, it’s been discredited as a loosely woven web of tissue-thin lies. NARAL withdrew the ad after about 48 hours. Here are two of the salient features of the ad:

The ad depicts a clinic that was bombed and says “America can't afford a justice whose ideology leads him to excuse violence against other Americans."

The ad claims that "Supreme Court nominee John Roberts filed court briefs supporting violent fringe groups and a convicted clinic bomber.”

What’s the truth?

Roberts specifically did not excuse violence against other Americans, quite the opposite actually.
Roberts wrote a “friend of the court” brief that advised against using an 1871 Civil Rights law to prevent blockage of abortion clinics. There wasn’t any support of any group, Roberts was giving legal advice on how this law couldn’t be used in a case.

The clinic was bombed seven years AFTER Roberts wrote the brief, yet the ad connected the two events.

The Factcheck.org web site states it quite simply: “The ad is false”. http://www.factcheck.org/article340.html

How did NPR report this story? Did NPR say that a political group lied, distorted and smeared a Federal Judge? Did NPR home in on the morality (or immorality) of using the mass media to falsely attack a Supreme Court nominee? Did NPR imply any outrage?

No, of course not. NPR reported the withdrawal of the ad “under pressure from conservatives”. It went on to re-state the incorrect main points of the NARAL ad WITHOUT MENTIONING THAT THE MAIN POINTS OF THE AD WERE FALSE AND THAT THIS WAS THE REASON FOR THE AD’S WITHDRAWAL.

The listener is left with the impression that NARAL simply folded from expected criticism on “the right”. Isn’t the news story the fact that NARAL lied about the nominee, accusing an innocent man of advocating “violence against other Americans”? Wouldn’t that be “the hook” of this news story?

What NPR managed to do was repeat the lies as if they were fact. If asked later, they can claim to have correctly reported that the ad was pulled from the air.

“That’s the sum total of what’s happening folks, nothing else to see here, move along…”

A sin of omission is still a sin.

Only a 9-11 Would Have Prompted Action

"Politics trumps policing" according to Michael Ledeen.

Ledeen has a "humorous" conversation with the late James Jesus Angleton (the superspy) conjured up from a ouija board. The focus of their conversation is this feigned shock shown by 9-11 Committee members over the reports that law enforcement operatives knew of Atta's al Qaeda cel acting within the US prior to 9-11. Apparently, this information was gleaned back then from open sources. The information was not passed on to government intelligence because of the assumed "wall" created by Janet Reno.

Ledeen believes that the information was not passed on more so because the politicians would never act decisively on it. The important section of this conversation with the dead goes:

JJA: There was no legality that prevented them from pointing out the significance of the data to anyone — law enforcement or Army cook. It’s just nonsense. Some prissy lawyer in the JAG undoubtedly lectured these guys about spreading sensitive information, but at the end of the day, that wasn’t decisive. Their superiors blocked the analysis for a much more important reason: It didn’t fit with what the policymakers wanted to believe.

ML: I think I understand. You’re saying that Clinton, Berger, and the others didn’t want to have to act against terrorist groups inside the United States, so the system didn’t send them information...

JJA: That would have compelled them to take action. It’s very bad for your career to tell the policymakers things they don’t want to hear. But don’t personalize this: It wasn’t just Clinton, Berger, and the others around them; it went on for decades. Even Reagan basically didn’t want to do anything about terrorism. It goes back a long time.

Now that we are acting in response to 9-11 and more shared intelligence, we see that the politicians were correct in predicting what political fall-out would have occurred had they arrested, deported or killed the cells. Can you see the NYT headlines and hear the Michael Moores had Carter, Reagan, Bush41, Clinton or the newly elected-Bush 43 actually acted to protect us?

Distinctions Are The Essence

The political intent of the misleading NARAL ad is obvious. For people unwilling to investigate beyond the 30-60 seconds of a TV ad, the point made may stick. In so many close elections, those may be the difference.

However, for NARAL and proponents of Roe v. Wade, the ability to make fine distinctions should be a common talent. Is it not the very essence of Roe v Wade that, in balancing the interests of the pregnant woman with those of the unborn child, we need to distinguish at what point in the fetus' development it has become a "person"? That distinction is one of the most difficult ones we have examined for the past 30 years.

Wrote Justice Blackmun:

With respect to the State's important and legitimate interest in the health of the mother, the "compelling" point, in the light of present medical knowledge, is at approximately the end of the first trimester. This is so because of the now-established medical fact, referred to above at 149, that until the end of the first trimester mortality in abortion may be less than mortality in normal childbirth. It follows that, from and after this point, a State may regulate the abortion procedure to the extent that the regulation reasonably relates to the preservation and protection of maternal health.

A very important distinction such as this one is not foreign to intelligent people. The NARAL leaders are intelligent people.

The underlying case, that Judge Roberts as an attorney in 1989 argued, involved the federal government's right to enjoin protesters at an abortion clinic. The legal issue was whether the First Amendment allowed this protest. The Bill of Rights is a check on government action- I think many members of NARAL understand this quite well. A slim exception was a federal anti-discrimination law enacted to protect blacks from KKK harassment. The abortion clinic had sought as support that law as a basis for blocking anti-abortion protests. Attorney Roberts argued on behalf of the Justice Department that this federal law was not violated. The Supreme Court agreed in a 6-3 decision.

The NARAL ad links Roberts to the abortion clinic bombers. Such broad-brush analogies do no justice to the NARAL cause.

The Echo In The Steeple

Mona Charon discusses Londonistan and notes that while 900,000 Muslims emigrate to England (without overt invitations by Great Britain to Arabs in Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, et al) each year, they refuse to assimilate. The Muslim birthrate exceeds the native English birthrate and the reason is religion (as explained by George Weigel in his book The Cube and The Cathedral).

She writes:

English churches, like many of those throughout Old Europe, stand empty. Daniel Pipes suggests that more people in Europe today attend mosques on Friday than churches on Sunday. We stood outside Westminster Abbey after a service and noticed that the worshippers were -- without exception -- over the age of 65.

Fellow Think Tank Member Evo Riguzzi told me that on his recent trip to Italy (yes, Italy) on a Sunday morning there were 5 people attending the mass including him and his wife. When an Italian church cannot draw over 10, there are serious problems. The general European birth rate is well under 1.5. the slack is being picked up by the Muslims. The 1.5 birthrate does not keep the pace for a population which is targeted at 2.1 children per couple.

They have some serious problems facing them now and in the future.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Armpits

The kids were watching the tape of last night's Rockstar-INXS during their breakfast. One of the singers, Jessica, is a young sexy blond along the lines of Buffy The Vampire Slayer wearing very low cut pants and a short top. Very hot and a great singer to boot. I see my 5-year old son David is watching with a sheepish grin suppressing a laugh. I figured he saw her underwear or crack or something. He looked at me and said, "I see her armpit".

Bad Guys Are In Trouble In Richmond

The Civilian Gun Defense blog carries this link from the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

Richmond [VA] is armed and dangerous. And we're not just talking about the bad guys. Since March, there have been at least three fatal shootings of armed suspects by armed victims. In at least two of those cases, Richmond prosecutors say it was in self-defense.

I think if you visit Richmond and peacefully go about your business, you will have a delightul and safe stay. The criminals and their defenders must be screaming for tougher gun control laws there.

Can You Make Those Funny Movies Again?

Jason Apuzzo examines up-c0ming movies being made in Hollywood. Not satisfied with the normal themes of anti-capitalism, anti-business, anti-American and/or anti-Bush-Republican messages, there is a new theme: pro-terrorism. We see that the root causes really exist to justify the murder of innocents in buses, subways or office buildings according to LA film-makers. The movies about to be released are a patriot's nightmare.

Writes Apuzzo:

Hollywood has shifted strategies in its opposition to the War on Terror. No longer content to let clumsy, uncouth documentarians like Michael Moore or Robert Greenwald conduct its foreign policy, Tinseltown is rolling out big guns like Harrison Ford and Leo DiCaprio and George Clooney - complete with their p.r. firms, dazzling smiles, and easy charm.

Yes, even Steven Spielberg finds something besides Arafat's wanton savagery in the Palestinian murder of Israeli athletes in his movie "Munich".

There is danger says Apuzzo:

These filmmakers and their movies will be much more polished, subtle - and insidious. And these films will be more dangerous than "Fahrenheit 9/11" because their strategy will be to entertain.

I guess 2005 and 2006 will be additional years I skip the movies. When a movie-lover like me does not step into a movie theater over many years (I have gone from a typical 10-20 movies a year down to 2 per year maybe of an adult theme), the industry needs a lot of rabid Leftist ideologues to make up for the absence of former fans. While they may flock to a Michael Moore movie during a heated presidential campaign, those same numbers will be lower and more dispersed over the non-campaign years.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Boys Will Be Boys

I got this from Joanne Jacobs:

A Texas high school football player, a receiver highly regarded by a number of colleges, has admitted to a number of armed robberies and even shooting at fleeing victims. His coach says "Kids are kids . . . you can't throw away a kid's life."

The Dallas News reports:

Last season as North Mesquite's go-to receiver, Jackson caught 37 passes for 705 yards and seven touchdowns and was named all-district. Oklahoma, Kansas State and Texas A&M sent letters to Jackson, indicating their interest in the 6-foot-1, 180-pounder.

But three months after North Mesquite's final game, Jackson was charged with aggravated robbery.

They later report:

Whether he should be allowed to play football while awaiting his trial is the subject of debate.

Since he didn't kill anyone, my question is how fast does he run a 40? Will he eventually play for the Eagles?

Rockstar-INXS

My favorite TV show is Rockstar- INXS. The band is looking to fill the void left by the suicide of their extremely talented and charismatic lead singer Michael Hutchence. This reality show has 13 non-famous singers performing covers for the band and guest-coach David Navarro of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The host is the beautiful and barely (and my wife says poorly) clad Brooke Burke.

The fun is the potential lead singers each week do great classic and current rock hits with a magnificant house band. Nirvana, REM, Clapton, Hendrix and even the Beatles songs are chosen from a list INXS provides the singers on Monday. On Tuesday we see the performances in an hour show. American Idol this is not. At the elimination show, seen every Wednesday, the 3 singers with the lowest vote count from on-line voters have to peform an INXS song (another plug) and one singer is let go by the band. Now, there are 10 songers remaining. They are very talented.

While INXS is certainly not a household name and clearly this is a marketing tool to make an aging band relevant, the show gives us great live covers while we root for an unknown to potentially make good.

The extra benefit is my kids get to hear classic rock and it allows me to introduce them to the Doors, The Kinks, The Stones and other of Daddy's music. Has anyone listened to "American Pie" lately? Because of my 7-year old daughter's new appreciation for old rock, we have played that CD by Don MacLean about 50 times in the last 4 days. Did you know it was about the plane crash of the Big Bopper? Or was it Buddy Holly? Is the Jester Dylan? Is the King Elvis?

The other downside is my 5-year old boy wants tatts like David Navarro. And he thinks I should be the lead singer for INXS. I'd be happy to just meet Brooke.

Decision-making and Our Well-Being

My aging hippie friend advised me that I should avoid immunizing my 5-year-old son because Bobby Kennedy Jr. was on the Today Show and "reported" that the increase in autism is caused by the sera. My friend, no scientist, but staunchly anti-capitalist and with a lot of time on his unemployed hands, advised me I was making a serious mistake. I told him I would immunize my son and avoid the known risk of disease rather than risk his health based upon Kennedy scare tactics.

Walter Williams discusses this dilemma we face in so many decisions in "Making intelligent errors". He says "We are not omniscient."

He looks at the decision to depose Saddam Hussein. We had intelligence from our own and international experts that he had WMD. We knew he was likely to use it as his past actions had proved. But as we were not 100% sure, we faced the repercussions of invading Iraq and the naturally expected (though the degree has shocked some people) problematic aftermath of a leaderless nation that we would have to occupy. To me, the downside was minimal compared to the risk of allowing his regime to continue.

Williams discusses the likely inaction of the FDA on new drugs. Approving a drug comes with the potential of harmful side effects. But:

A classic example [of over-caution] was beta-blockers, which an American Heart Association study said will "lengthen the lives of people at risk of sudden death due to irregular heartbeats." The beta-blockers in question were available in Europe in 1967, yet the FDA didn't approve them for use in the U.S. until 1976. In 1979, Dr. William Wardell, a professor of pharmacology, toxicology and medicine at the University of Rochester, estimated that a single beta-blocker, alprenolol, which had already been sold for three years in Europe, but not approved for use in the U.S., could have saved more than 10,000 lives a year. The type I error, erring on the side of over-caution, has little or no cost to FDA officials. Grieving survivors of those 10,000 people who unnecessarily died each year don't know why their loved one died, and surely they don't connect the death to FDA over-caution. For FDA officials, these are the best kind of victims -- invisible ones.

Economists will tell you that the market ferrets out the hoaxes, the dangerous and inefficacious products. The problem is when public officials fail to weigh the cost of not only acting but not acting. About 13 years ago I was worrying about purchasing my first house. I was unsure about my employer's financial condition, the increased cost of a mortgage over renting and the added responsibility of maintenance. I asked my boss what he thought. He looked at me as if I has 3 heads. I bought and and have been rewarded financially beyond what I ever thought possible and had a roof over my head to boot.

Humans err by nature. Nothing is fail-safe. We recognize this and are cautious. But I recall many people criticizing the government for not acting on imprecise and disjointed intelligence prior to 9-11. Do we choose to act in our own interests or wait for the perfect moment? What is it people?

Hillary: She Ain't Foolin Me

I have often written that for Democrats to win they will either have to convince the public of the success of their programs (hard to do given the 50 years of empirical failure-see public schools, social security, welfare and soft military), convert to Republican-light and sway the moderates or lie about their conversion to the right. Clearly, Hillary Clinton has chosen the last option while of course the media feeds us that she has actually converted.

Deroy Murdock in "Senator Fake" covers her numerous Congressional votes and how she is one of the most liberal senators based on her recent record.

Some of her votes and ratings by organizations are:

1. The American Conservative Union gave Clinton a zero for her 2004 Senate votes. Her career ACU rating is just 9. Among other things, Clinton opposed a bill to criminalize the injury or death of a fetus during a violent offense. She also favored hiking the top tax rate from 35 percent to 36 percent and spurned legislation to promote testing and deployment of a missile defense shield.

2. For her 2004 Senate votes, the National Taxpayer’s Union gave Clinton an 11 percent rating — an F.

3. Clinton’s 2004 votes scored her 8 percent approval from Citizens Against Government Waste, matching her 8 percent lifetime rating. Clinton and New York’s senior Democratic senator, Charles Schumer, were CAGW’s “Porkers of the Month” last February for fighting President Bush’s proposed reforms of the Community Development Block Grant Program.

4. The American Security Council, a conservative foreign-policy organization, gave Clinton a 20 for her record in the 108th Congress. Her votes to shift $5.03 billion from Iraqi reconstruction to domestic programs and to strike research funds on a nuclear “bunker buster” weapon, among others, violated ASC’s credo: “Peace through strength.”

But she gets high marks for:

1. For her 2003 votes, Ralph Nader’s Public Interest Research Group gave Clinton a 95 percent rating, exceeding her 87-percent career average.

2. Clinton scored a 100 percent rating for 2004 from NARAL Pro-Choice America, the former National Abortion Rights Action League. It applauded Clinton for opposing the Unborn Victims of Violence Act of 2004.

3. Clinton earned a 100 percent rating for 2004 from AFSCME, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, the bureaucrats’ union. This matched her perfect career record for advancing the agenda of government workers.

It is hard to explain how the above makes her a "convert". It is wishful thinking of Democrats who want the White House any way they can. It is clear to me she has chosen the faux moderate approach. Don't we remember another liberal campaigning as a strong military, middle-grounder? He won. What was his name again? Can we be fooled thrice?

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Calypso Singing Is Not Bringing In What It used To

Their star power may attract crowds and affect voting of the ignorant but the silly comments by famous blacks like Stevie Wonder, Judge Mathis and Harry Belafonte at Saturday's civil rights march in Atlanta are embarassing. Along with Jesse Jackson and John Conyers, these celebrities spewed the mantra of voting disenfranchisement, the "stolen" 2000 election and, get this, the budget deficit. These singers and TV stars provided the typical placard commentary heard from entertainers for the past 5 years.

Their complaints are again about long voting lines in Ohio, the SCOTUS decision in the 2000 election and this new-found fondness for a balanced budget. It is the last point that is most laughable as, when these celebrities and race leaders provide more in-depth explanations, their complaints generally boil down to Bush not increasing entitlements as much as they and their favorite interest groups would like. I am waiting to hear them criticize high taxes and demand schools vouchers for inner cities.

Oops, sorry. Those are partial solutions. This is the wrong crowd.

Israel Reacts Swiftly To Its Own Terrorist

I wholeheartedly decry the actions on August 4, 2005 by the Israeli Jewish terrorist. Eden Natan-Zada, an extremist deserter from the Israeli army who was incensed over the Gaza pull-out, shot and killed 4 Israeli Arabs and wounded 13 passengers who were riding a bus to an Arab village. He was then lynched by nearby witnesses. I am happy to see that anyone of import in Israel has publicly and unequivocably deplored this attack. In addition, the government increased its armed security in hotspots near the Gaza border and jailed 3 suspects from the same religious-terrorist organization that Zada belonged to.

Sharon called it “a despicable act by a bloodthirsty terrorist who sought to attack innocent Israeli citizens.”

As rare as such an event has been in Israel, it is the first such attack by a citizen against Arabs in over a decade, it is consoling to see the government act decisively and quickly on this matter.

I hope the MSM reports the reaction as much as the crime. Read more from Ben Johnson on the event and Israel's reaction.

Monday, August 08, 2005

High Schoolers Need Remediation Courses In College

In a story blogged by Joanne Jacobs, research by the Illinois Educational Research Council found that 1/3 of the 2002 high school graduates were "not ready for college" and only 28% are "partially ready". One in seven community college students are in remedial classes for one or two subjects. That is 100,000 students! Many students have to take 1 1/2 years of remedial study to just begin college courses. Many of these students eventually quit college.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports:

Still, Senate Assistant Majority Leader Miguel del Valle (D-Chicago) thinks the colleges need to focus more resources on programs that help students make it through. He said schools needed to do a better job tracking students and determining why graduation rates for Latinos and blacks are so much lower than for whites and Asians.

Could it be the poor education from the public schools?

High Prices Show Greed

I found this wonderful quote from an old Arnold Kling essay called "Economic Illiteracy Quadrifecta" about the econ mistakes of the "almost won it" John Kerry campaign. Kling quotes Bryan Kaplan from Straight Talk About Economic Literacy :

"In the minds of the public, prices apparently go up when businesses suddenly start to feel greedier. Economists, in contrast, expect businesses to be greedy year-in, year-out; but depending on market conditions, greed may call for prices to go up, go down, or stay the same."

Trade Deficit Nonsense

The WaPo, along with all other economic illiterates, are equating the trade deficit with a debt of the US. In their editorial inferring the trade deficit is something owed by the US government or its citizens, they wrote:

The U.S. current account deficit has grown to an astonishing 6.5 percent of gross domestic product... This means that the nation is consuming around $700 billion more than it earns each year and paying for the difference by mortgaging or selling assets.

That is wrong! The trade accounting tracks what is sold in exports with what is purchased as imports. We are buying things made external to the US because presumably the price or value of the good is better than the item produced locally, if ideed it is produced locally. The only way there is debt is if the Chinese person holding US greenbacks purchases a government debt security after the original transaction. But the American owns the thing he bought at Walmart.

Writes Don Luskin:

The claim, in essence, is that a trade deficit necessarily entails debt creation. This is simply not the case. When an American (1) labors or invests to earn money, (2) chooses to spend that money on foreign goods, and (3) the foreign maker of those goods doesn't spend that money on American goods, somehow debt is created. I don't see it. Where's the debt? Or at least, where is the debt that arises uniquely in virtue of the trade deficit? Seems to me that the American buyer in the situation has earned the money fair and square (with no debt necessarily involved), decided to spend it in Taipei instead of Texas (with no debt necessarily involved), and the Taipei seller doesn't immediately spend the money on US goods (again, with no debt necessarily involved).

If you were a salesman, how would you like to know that there are potential buyers out there dieing to buy something you sell? Do you want buyers to have money or not?

Man Killed In War Argument

Two guys were arguing about the Iraq War and one shot and killed the other. The proponent of the war killed the one against it. This happened at a flea market. The 2 men were gun vendors there.

Reports Editor & Publisher:

The daughter of the dead man said the two men were friends and had discussed Iraq before. She said her father "had different opinions than everybody. He felt it was wrong that all of these young people were losing their lives over what was going on. It was just a political disagreement, like a whole lot of people have."

I always argue politics and NFL football with wimps. Make this a rule in your lives also.

Did The Kennedys Kill Marilyn?

Can the Kennedys have been directly involved in the death of another girlfriend of one of the brothers? Did Teddy just follow in his brothers' footsteps with Chappaquidick? Recently released transcripts of Marilyn Monroe's interview with her psychiatrist, Dr. Ralph Greenson, have been made public by John W. Miner.

From the Yahoo News story:

Miner, who collaborated with Dr. Seymour Pollack to create the USC Institute of Psychiatry, Law and Behavioral Science in 1963 and taught there over the years, said he would like to see a "re-autopsy" conducted to clear up medical questions that he noticed in the original.
"The autopsy clearly shows that the barbiturates — of a massive amount — that entered her body came in through the large intestine," he said. "How do we know that? We know that because there is no indication, in fact there is contraindication, that the capsules were swallowed."


Did Sirhan and Oswald do it in her honor? Is there a Chivas regal exec with an axe to grind? Time will tell.

NYT Investigates Roberts' Adoptions

All good liberals must be appalled at the reports by Drudge that the NYT was digging into Judge Roberts activities in the adoption of his 2 children. I am waiting for the stern rebuke of the NYT by the MSM and leading members of the Judiciary Committee for their pursuit of what is so outside the relevant inquiry into the competence of a judge to serve as SCOTUS justice. I think I heard Michael Moore has a public statement coming out later today. Keep checking here.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Semantic Foolishness By a Famous Historian

This letter appeared today in the NYT written by the eminent historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr.:

To the Editor:

"Nomination for Supreme Court Stirs Debate on Influence of Federalist Society" (news article, Aug. 1) does not go into the shocking ignorance of American history displayed by the Federalist Society's members.

The Federalist Party, the party of Washington, Adams and Hamilton, stood for a strong central government. The Federalist Society stands for negative government and states' rights. If its members were honest, they would call themselves, in the terms of the 1790's, the Anti-Federalist Society.

Arthur Schlesinger Jr.
New York, Aug. 1, 2005

In other words, because they call their group The Federalist Society, they must be claiming to be philosophically aligned with the Federalist Party? Would a group called the "Democratic Society" that supports the institution of democratic governments world-wide through military means be "shockingly ignorant" according to Dr. S because that is something that the Democratic Party currently opposes?

The Federalist Society supports the small government-individual rights philosophy of federalism evident in the 1790's and espoused by Jefferson and Madison, as distinguished from the party of Washington and Hamilton which were called the Federalists.

Either Dr. S has lost 6-7 mph on his fastball, has become a bigger partisan hack or has begun yelling at waiters about his soup being cold. I hope this was just the NYT editors cutting down a longer, more intelligent commentary by the great historian.

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