31 October 2008

What professors really think

Well, some of us at least. I don't agree with everything in this farewell letter by a disillusioned academic, but I also wouldn't say any of the observations he makes are untrue. Anyway, see what you think.


30 October 2008

Some GOOD economic news!

Never let it be said that Clemens has turned into a mere doom and gloom commentator. There IS some good news out there, amid all the banks going bust, and other banks using your tax money for ... well, whatever they damn well please. Here it is, folks, some good news:

Exxon Mobil Corp., the world's largest publicly traded oil company, reported income Thursday that shattered its own record for the biggest profit from operations by a U.S. corporation, earning $14.83 billion in the third quarter.

So quit your whining.

and let's keep those billions going towards the banks. Next week: the car companies!

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27 October 2008

Where there is a will ...

Watch this little beagle escape, courtesy of Andrew Sullivan.

Couldn't we put this beast in charge of the economic recovery plan? Seems smart enough and determined enough.

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25 October 2008

Demos in charge

Might not be as much fun as some of us expect. David Frum (whose blog on NRO remains a forlorn corner of honest rational thought) has this warning in today's Washington Post.
... with the financial meltdown, the federal government is now acquiring a huge ownership stake in the nation's financial system. It will be immensely tempting to officeholders in Washington to use that stake for political ends -- to reward friends and punish enemies. One-party government, of course, will intensify those temptations. And as the federal government succumbs, officeholders will become more and more comfortable holding that stake. The current urgency to liquidate the government's position will subside.

Convincing enough. His next point isn't, but here it is:
Second, the political culture of the Democratic Party has changed over the past decade. There's a fierce new anger among many liberal Democrats, a more militant style and an angry intolerance of dissent and criticism.

After the red-meat Repubs?! How bad can they be. Frum is upset about this because he realizes that to put some kind of check on these trends we will need good Repubs in the Senate and House ... and in his view we are not going to get them because of the way the McCain campaign is imploding. But he has lot of advice for the McCain campaign to correct it!

memo to self: get upset about this ... next month.

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Remember the $700 billion to the banks?

Backed up by you and me of course. You may have thought that it was put out there to help banks make loans to people and businesses who need them and could pay them back. You'd be wrong. At least if you believe this article in The NY Times. Apparently the true purpose of the cash infusion is to allow some banks to buy up other banks, to consolidate the banking business into fewer and fewer hands.

It is starting to appear as if one of Treasury’s key rationales for the recapitalization program — namely, that it will cause banks to start lending again — is a fig leaf, Treasury’s version of the weapons of mass destruction.

In fact, Treasury wants banks to acquire each other and is using its power to inject capital to force a new and wrenching round of bank consolidation. As Mark Landler reported in The New York Times earlier this week, “the government wants not only to stabilize the industry, but also to reshape it.”


The author, Joe Nocera, concludes:
We have long been a country that has treasured its diversity of banks; up until the 1980s, in fact, there were no national banks at all. If Treasury is using the bailout bill to turn the banking system into the oligopoly of giant national institutions, it is hard to see how that will help anybody. Except, of course, the giant banks that are declared the winners by Treasury.

So money for loans needed to keep the economy going is still scarce. Nocera finds comfort in this:

Late Thursday afternoon, I caught up with Senator Dodd, and asked him what he was going to do if the loan situation didn’t improve. “All I can tell you is that we are going to have the bankers up here, probably in another couple of weeks and we are going to have a very blunt conversation,” he replied.

He continued: “If it turns out that they are hoarding, you’ll have a revolution on your hands. People will be so livid and furious that their tax money is going to line their pockets instead of doing the right thing. There will be hell to pay.”

I am not sure what the wages for hell are these days, and I still don't understand any of this despite Jack's best efforts, but I read this in the New York Times. So it must be true.

even though it is hard to believe that bankers might be using our money "to line their pockets."


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24 October 2008

Mosby the Cat can't take the campaign anymore

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23 October 2008

Desperation in North Carolina?

Apparently the Republican national committee has come up with a new strategy for Elizabeth Dole: vote for me because we are going to lose the White House!

Ben Smith reports that the NRSC is running an ad on behalf of Senator Elizabeth Dole that argues against electing Dem challenger Kay Hagan because of the specter of total Democratic control of Washington.

"If Hagan wins," the ad says, "they get a blank check." This, of course, seems to presume an Obama victory.

As one Democrat joked to us: ""Republicans launch new campaign theme: All the rest of us are gonna lose, so elect me."

Well, it might work.

UPDATE: Now even aol.com news has picked this story up as a sign of Repubs' confused message.

not that I am gloating or anything.

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20 October 2008

Without Comment

[from "Balloon Juice"]

19 October 2008

Without Comment

Why you can benefit from the recession

Way back in July when there was still some doubt that we were anywhere near a recession AOL published a list of 10 reasons why a recession could be good. As a public service I reproduced the list with my own comments in brackets. Now that we are so far into a recession that Phil Gramm is hiding out in an undisclosed location and NRO doesn't even dispute it anymore, I am taking the opportunity to repost the list in a last ditch effort to make you all feel better.

1. Less junk mail! [junk mail is reportedly down 19%. Think how many trees are saved.]

2. Shorter gas lines [if you can afford it anyway] [update: thanks to the recession, demand for gas has dropped so much that prices have plummeted. Expect a surge in SUV and Hummer sales shortly]

3. Family dinners [helps ward off teen suicides. Guess they never ate at the Clemens' household when he was a teen. ]

4. More coupons [I am sorry my Dad did not live to see this day].

5. Free Fitness [actually due to high gas prices, not the recession we are not in: makes more people walk or bike to work. I'm trying to help out by not going to work.]

6. Bargain SUVs! [if schadenfreude is a sin I am going straight to Hell].

7. Business opportunities [wages go down, rents go down, competition goes down, opportunity goes up. Such is the theory. Me, I'm investing in a Mexican tienda]

8. Increase in gardening [NOT in the Clemens' household. I'm allergic to work outdoors: my face gets red, I break out in a sweat, I start panting for air, and pretty soon I don't have the strength to lift a mug].

9. Musical inspiration [especially County & Western songs, apparently]

10. New perspectives [Like: gee, so this is what it means to be poor! I never imagined!]

No, no. No need to thank me.

But the shooting was great ...

I have discovered the poster boys for the greed and deceit that has infected corporate America and brought on the Big Bust: the entire management of AIG. AIG, you may remember, is the giant insurance company deemed too big to fail by the Feds and thus bailed out with $123 billion by taxpayers. That would be me, you, and your grandchildren.

Here in a column by Maureen Dowd is the way three execs for AIG have shown their appreciation: they went on a hunting spree in England, no expense spared. Just in case you don't get the point, one exec put it into perspective:
A.I.G. big shot Sebastian Preil held court at the bar and told an undercover reporter, “The recession will go on until about 2011, but the shooting was great today and we are relaxing fine.”

Fear not. Andrew Cuomo, one of those class-warfare spouting Demos, has a solution:
Cuomo got A.I.G. to instantly reverse itself and cancel 160 conferences and other events that would have cost more than $8 million, as well as give up information on compensation, bonuses and other payments to determine whether they were fitting. (How could they be?)

“We stopped a $10 million severance payment to Stephen Bensinger, the chief financial officer,” Cuomo told me Friday. “Just look at the words chief financial officer. There’s a phenomenon when senior management sees the corporation deteriorating and they concoct a version of looting the company to take care of themselves.”

So, Madame Dafarge, how would you like your cake?

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16 October 2008

The Department that didn't bark

Something has been missing in this years presidential campaign, something that I didn't even notice until I read this article by David Berman in Salon.com this morning: the Department of Homeland Security. Berman explains why this is a little odd:
The establishment of DHS, the most important civilian agency for ensuring the nation's security, represented the largest reorganization of the federal government since Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal. Within DHS are the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Transportation Security Administration, the Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection, the Secret Service and 12 other components in charge of critical government functions including immigration and nuclear detection. The secretary of the Department of Homeland Security oversees all of this and is the public face for raising and lowering the National Threat Advisory (currently, yellow), making this appointment one of the most important facing the president. Eighty-six congressional committees have oversight of DHS.

When the presidential candidates talk about big government, it doesn't get any bigger than the Department of Homeland Security. So why then are John McCain and Barack Obama silent on DHS?

Good question and Berman attempts to answer it, but more importantly he gives his idea of how to fix it, or at least improve it. At the moment it seems to be the beast too big to ride.


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13 October 2008

Not that I bear a grudge....

.... for very long. I am too big a man for that. Hurumph.

But I am greatly relieved to read stuff like this about the dear old Tar Heel state.

I don't believe in sarcasm either.

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Nobel Peace Prize ... and history

Paul Krugman has won the Nobel prize in economics. Many people who should know say it is well deserved. Conservatives, on the whole, seem much less impressed. But here is why I think it was deserved, right here in Krugman describing his entry into the dismal field of Economics:
Most young economists today enter the field from the technical end. Originally intending a career in hard science or engineering, they slip down the scale into the most rigorous of the social sciences. The advantages of entering economics from that direction are obvious: one arrives already well trained in mathematics, one finds the concept of formal modeling natural. It is not, however, where I come from. My first love was history; I studied little math, picking up what I needed as I went along.

Well, there you have it. If the man's first love was history and he starts with an historical perspective he must be brilliant.

though I still don't read his column. I wonder if he knows Latin.

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What IS it about Florida?

Of course, this could just be vile gossip and character assassination. Well it could be. Remember Mark Foley, the Congressman from West Palm Beach who got a little too hot in his e-mails to congressional pages? Remember the guy who replaced him? Democrat Tim Mahoney. Here's an interesting little news item about him.

FWIW: this guy's a Democrat.

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12 October 2008

Quid novi?

That last post was about Latin. The political subtext was strictly unintentional. I have taken a vow this Sunday morning not to post anything of a political nature. Not anything. Really. I mean it.

Sua cuique voluptas

Or, everyone has their own pleasures. One of mine is the sound and look of Latin. Ergo, this morning when I saw this column entitled 'Tu Betchus!' by Maureen Dowd, a columnist I ordinarily shun sicut pestis, I had to take a look. Mirabile visu! Half of it is written in Latin! Here is a taste of it:
Gubernatrix (prope Russia) Palina, spectans candidaciam MMXII, post multam educationem cum Kissingro et post multam parodiam de Sabbatis Nocte Vivo atque de Tina Feia, ferociter vituperat Obamam, ut supralupocidit (aerial shooting of wolves) in Hyperborea.

Well, what can I say. Dowd makes more sense in a dead language than she does in modern English!

ah well, diem perdidi et dis aliter visum as they said in old Roma

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11 October 2008

Really, really weird little cars. Really.

From the Paris Car Show ... some amazingly weird little and not so little cars, including the Renault Ondelios (considered by some as ugliest car of the show) and the Citroen CV2 (considered ugliest French car. Ever).


actually, the CV2 was in one of the James Bond films - took quite a beating as you can see here.

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Knowing the Feds are watching over me

.... I sleep so much better. Here's an item from The New York Times:
The Food and Drug Administration, widely criticized for lax inspection of domestic and imported foods, responded to several outbreaks of food-borne illness this year by spending $300,000 to hire a public relations agency to "create and foster a lasting positive image" for the FDA.

Well, $300,000 is merely some small change compared to the $85 billion for AIG and the $700,000,000,000 we putting on the table to salvage the economy. But you know, it mounts up.

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At least ONE of them repents

Also from The Week:
A Wall Street broker has given it all up to become a monk in a Bulgarian monastery. Hristo Mishkov, 32, who sold high-tech stocks on the Nasdaq exchange, says he grew disillusioned with high finance and his luxurious Manhattan lifestyle. "If someone consumes more than they have earned," he says, "it means someone else is starving." Despite the career change, Mishkov continues to work a brutal schedule, rising at dawn to tend a herd of cheese-producing buffalo.

That's admirable. Would that more of them would spend some time in the country communing with cheese-producing buffalo.


News of the Week

That is news I found after extensive research (i.e. I read the current copy of The Week)

Worth every penny, I'm sure:
Tina Fey has just signed off on a $5 million book deal for a book of "nonfiction humor" for Little, Brown.

Wait till they flush the toilets:
"residents of Marino, Iraly, discovered white wine flowing from their water faucets. 'Miracolo!' they cried. The vino, it turns out, was supposed to spill from a fountain in the town square for the annual grape festival, but a plumbing mishap diverted it into homes."

hmmm. The week is the big North Carolina wine festival... you don't suppose...?

Insult to injury for Wall Street plutocrat:
"Richard Fuld, the former CEO of Lehman Brothers, who was punched in the face by an angry employee in the company gym shortly after the firm was driven into bankruptcy. Fuld was then berated in a congressional hearing for taking $480 million in options and salary as he drove the company into debt. Fuld said he felt "horrible" about the way things turned out."

Apparently he is keeping the money. And while he is sorry, he is....

... Not as sorry as THESE guys:
AIG, the global insurance giant, which showed its gratitude for the $85 billion* bailout provided by taxpayers by staging a weeklong retreat for sales agents and executives at a California resort, running up a tab of $440,000 for the luxury rooms, banquets, massages, and other spa treatments.

Just in case you were wondering as a simple taxpayer what people in the financial business think of your efforts at saving their asses.

And finally,
"A Serbian chef has released what is believed to be the world's first testicle cookbook."

You will have to get your own copy of The Week to read the details. This site is too sophisticated for that kind of humor.

*that would be $85,000,000,000. Looks a bit more impressive with all those zeros doesn't it.

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10 October 2008

Weird little cars

Make that very old weird little cars. I have noticed a strange phenomenon here on the highways and byways of the uplands. Since the surge in gas prices a few months ago (which has not abated much up here - gas is still $3.75 a gal) I have seen an odd assortment of cars on the road that I thought had gone to the automotive equivalent of the elephants' graveyard years ago.

Old beat up Geo Metros, ugly old Ford (actually Kia) Aspires, and even one or two Ford (nee Mazda) Festivas. This morning I even saw an electric green Metro that looked like it had just rolled off the showroom floor. Where have they been keeping these things all these years? They seem to be popping out of the woods around here.

What do they have in common? It certainly is not design or build (well, except for the Festiva).

They all got, or get, 35 mpg or more.

I rented a Metro once. It was like driving a "foreign car" from the late 60s.

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Deja vu all over again

From a column by EJ Dionne in today's Washington Post about the campaign between Herbert Hoover and FDR:
Hoover stopped short of declaring Roosevelt a celebrity. But Donald A. Ritchie reports in his excellent 2007 book, "Electing FDR," that Hoover saw Roosevelt as "his weakest and most vulnerable" foe and "did not respect him as a political rival."

History is so much fun. .

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06 October 2008

Conservapedia again - and Obama

The conservative answer to the evil Wikipedia, Conservapedia, has an entry on Barack Obama that you should read. It shows you where much of the conservative mind set seems to be. Here's the first paragraph:
Barack Hussein Obama, II (allegedly born in Honolulu,[1][2] August 4, 1961) is the 2008 nominee of the Democratic Party for president.[3] Obama has served as a freshman Democratic Senator from Illinois since 2004. On August 23 he chose Senator Joseph Biden as his running mate. In 2007, Obama was rated the most liberal Senator by the National Journal, who had rated Senator John Kerry the most liberal senator during his presidential run as well.[4] If elected, Obama may become the first Muslim President of the United States.

Not quite sure what to make of this. You really ought to read the whole thing.

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05 October 2008

Nordlinger on Paul Newman

I mentioned this a while back, Jay Nordlinger on the NRO's "Corner". At the time I read it I thought it was a disturbingly mean spirited commentary on a man's death - any man. But after thinking about it - I realized it was one of those rare occasions when I was both correct and too temperate. Read the whole thing, but here is the key:

I used to see Paul Newman from time to time in New York concert halls. I remember the first time, very well. There was this old man — old, short Jewish man — who was shockingly good-looking. I stared at him, because the sight was so unusual. And only after I stared at him for a bit did I realize it was Paul Newman.

He glared at me, hard. I didn’t care — I stared at him anyway. Screw him.

Like my retirement fund, the NRO reputation seems to be slowly sinking in the West.

"old short Jewish man" - do we make them wear identifying symbols? Or what?

Without Comment

Anti-Semites against Obama?

Sean Hannity, the scamp, has been enlisting support for his campaign against Obama. Seems one of them has an interesting agenda: "exterminate Jew power in America." Read about it here.

he's also proud to have first written an article claiming that Obama is a Muslim. Don't know how this cuts with his anti-Jew power campaign.

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Wild Asian Conquerors

Just to get away from political business here for awhile. Even fierce world conquerors were little boys once. Here are two cute ones. The younger one is little Mr Miggs, who had so much trouble getting out of Vietnam last year. But he is a happy fellow now.

I just realized Máeráed is in there too.


And you thought Tina Fey was funny

Try this liveblogging of the VP debates from Will Wilkinson, a Cato Institute research fellow and blogger. Here's how it starts:

Oh, what the hell.

8:16 - Biden: Barack Obama will never raise taxes on anyone ever. Almost. McCain is middle-class-hating shill for megawealthy.

8:18 - Palin: Higher taxes not patriotic, Biden. Government off our snow machines! I did a good job remembering talking points about McCain’s health care tax credit plan! Budget-neutral: I can say it!

8:19 - Biden: Scranton, reprezent. Redistribution isn’t if you don’t call it that. Fairness! Health care, blah blah Bridge to Nowhere.

Finally, I've discovered the king of liveblogging a political debate deserves. I'll have to read more of this guy's blog.

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A viable third party candidate!

Don't know much about her, except doggone it, she's as purty as a dewdrop. Can't tell if she is leftish or rightish, but check out her campaign promises. Cute little wink too. And her opponent, Mr Nobody - doesn't he look a bit familiar?

Anyway, I am interpreting the last three seconds of this ad as a promise of free beer for everyone.

she's got my vote.


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The Man Formerly Known as The Designated Adult

Rich Lowry, editor of The National Review, formerly known as "the designated adult," actually wrote this after seeing the Biden/Palin debate:
I'm sure I'm not the only male in America who, when Palin dropped her first wink, sat up a little straighter on the couch and said, "Hey, I think she just winked at me." And her smile. By the end, when she clearly knew she was doing well, it was so sparkling it was almost mesmerizing. It sent little starbursts through the screen and ricocheting around the living rooms of America. This is a quality that can't be learned; it's either something you have or you don't, and man, she's got it.

After Lowry endured much mockery, the Boo Man came to his defense:
Everyone's mocking Lowry, but I at least partially agree with him. I described myself as stunned, which isn't that far from mesmerized. I had a tremendous amount of difficulty processing any meaning in what she was saying. Part of the reason for that was that she was speaking extraordinarily quickly and part of it was that she kept making unsignaled changes in direction. Part of it was because a lot of what she was saying was filler, and basically meaningless. But another big factor was that I couldn't believe my eyes. I couldn't believe that she was acting like a beauty contestant, and it stunned me almost insensate. I couldn't believe that John McCain had allowed this to happen. I still can't. So my sympathy goes out to Rich Lowry. He's now the butt of a joke. But, for me, those little starbursts in the living room were real. They came from my frying synapses.

Well. I think we have progressed well beyond the Stephen Colbert stage of American politics and are now in totally uncharted waters.

Sit up a little straighter.

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The New World Order

A quote from Tom Friedman's latest column:
“The next round of capital that comes in from abroad is going to be much more demanding and move into real assets,” argued Jeffrey Garten, professor of trade and finance at the Yale School of Management. “Being a bigger debtor nation means losing even more of our sovereignty. It means conducting our economic policies with an eye toward whether others approve. It means bearing the advice and criticism that we have dispensed ad nauseam to other countries for over half a century. It means far more intensive consultations with other capitals on our fiscal policies and our monetary policies.
Welcome to the Twenty first Century. Friedman follows this up with the observation, almost certainly true:
Of course, neither Barack Obama nor John McCain dare talk about this now. They want to pretend nothing has really changed. The minute one of them steps into the Oval Office, they will tell us otherwise. That will be the January surprise.

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Without Comment

Courtesy of The Washington Post.


A book about Wall Street

Whenever I don't understand something I try to find a good book about it, due to my training and nature I suspect. I certainly don't understand the current economic crisis (though Jack has certainly tried to explain it to me). My inclination is to blame the greed of Wall Street and the venality of our politicians (yes, all of them). So I was gratified this morning to read in a column by Michelle Singletary, my favorite financial adviser,* a review of a book that excoriates Wall Street and damns it forever. This quote pretty much tells you the point of the review:

Two years ago, Gary Weiss wrote "Wall Street Versus America: The Rampant Greed and Dishonesty That Imperil Your Investments."

The subtitle was changed for the paperback edition last year. Now the book is called "Wall Street Versus America: A Muckraking Look at the Thieves, Fakers, and Charlatans Who Are Ripping You Off" (Portfolio, $14.95).

I like the revision, given current events.

I immediately wrote off to Michelle Singletary to put my name in to win a copy of the book in a drawing she has every month. After all, in these tight financial times there is no point in actually spending money on a book. Then, there is always the public library.

*mainly because her advice is so simple and plain I can understand it, but also because she seems to have the same outlook I do: save!

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04 October 2008

Sane Conservatives

Not as often as I should, but every now and then, searching for an antidote to the clowns and hacks who have taken over National Review, I turn to Professor Bainbridge's punditry blog. I like that term "Professor." Kind of makes you think he knows what he's talking about doesn't it? (well, it could happen). Here he neatly eviscerates Hugh Hewitt for claiming that McCain is going to win at the last moment. Hewitt attempts to make the point that it is the hard left that dislikes Bush so much, but the good professor will have none of it:
In the second place, it isn’t just the “hard left” that’s fed up with W. Words are scarcely adequate to express the depths to which Bush’s job approval have sunk. Many conservatives (like yours truly and Bruce Bartlett) gave up on Bush years ago. Now even cheerleaders like Grover Norquist have finally come to their senses (albeit only after throwing people like Bartlett under the bus):

Then he goes on to quote the same blurb about Grover Norquist that I used a few posts back. Even more interesting most of the comments are perfectly sane and rational. One of them, an Ohio attorney, has this to say:

I’m an Ohioan, who was considering voting for McCain. I voted for Bush twice. Eventually I’ve decided to hold my nose and vote for Obama. At the very least, he has intelligence and depth of character.

McCain has begun to scare me, especially when he “suspended his campaign” and accomplished nothing, then blamed the debacle on the Democrats. I’m not sure he has it all together. Worse, his VP pick is devoid of substance.

I know many others like me out here. Trust me on this, McCain has lost Ohio.

Don't know if we can take this at face value and it's only anecdotal evidence and Obama's lead is soft. Still.

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A new Kindle reader?

Young Clovis the computer whiz told me to hold on to my money until Amazon came out with a version II of their Kindle e-book reader. It appears that Amazon has done just that. Now if the price comes down just a bit more.



In the comments to that last post Jack and I were talking about whether or not the two Bushes were true conservatives. I made the observation that a great deal of the rightish political apparatus (pundits, public intellectuals (they aren't the same!), politicos, entertainers, etc) had signed off one way or another on almost everything W had done, at least until 2006. As soon as I finished writing that I turned to Andrew Sullivan and found this under the title "What Bruce Bartlett said years ago:"

But Grover Norquist takes until now to say it:

“Perhaps Mr. Bush has, on behalf of the modern Republican party, raised the white flag in surrender to bigger government.”

Too late, Grover. Far too late. And Bartlett was ostracized for telling the truth.

That's about what I had in mind.

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03 October 2008

Chart of interest

I found this on Matthew Yglesias' home page. Gaze at it for a few moments and ask yourself what the significance of having a conservative Republican in the White House for the national debt.

Test next Friday.

Snapshot of despair

I think you should watch this video. All of it. It was a bit harder to watch than I expected when I started. This is the real face of the housing markets implosion.

A number of people have pointed out, and I assume it is true, that part of the problem was the federal gov't (Barney Frank is usually presented as the poster boy) that forced lenders to push more and more suspect loans on the economically marginal. Perhaps. But I have now watched or listened to several overviews of cleaning up the debris once homes are foreclosed and the neighborhoods and accouterments are not those of even lower middle class folks. These are people that had some money.

Watch very carefully. One homeowner admits he is paying $31oo a month for his house, and it is now worth $1000 a month. If he is (or was) able to afford house payments of over $37,000 a year, what must he be making per annum?

Any comments would be appreciated. It is a sad and disturbing little piece.

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Krauthammer throws in towel?

Almost seems that way in this morning's column. He clearly does not like, nor trust, Obama. Yet here is his final paragraph in which he almost admits that Obama has what it takes to be another FDR and THEN some.*
Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. famously said of Franklin Roosevelt that he had a "second-class intellect, but a first-class temperament." Obama has shown that he is a man of limited experience, questionable convictions, deeply troubling associations (Jeremiah Wright, William Ayers, Tony Rezko) and an alarming lack of self-definition -- do you
really know who he is and what he believes? Nonetheless, he's got both a first-class intellect and a first-class temperament. That will likely be enough to make him president.
And in the meantime McCain pulls out of Michigan.

* a dangerous admission for a conservative when the whole country has just been scared out of its wits by talk of total economic disaster.

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01 October 2008

Something ugly this way comes

Kathleen Parker, a conservative columnist who has decided that Palin is a serious drag on the ticket, notices something about the public.

The picture is this: Anyone who dares express an opinion that runs counter to the party line will be silenced. That doesn't sound American to me, but Stalin would approve.

Readers have every right to reject my opinion. But when we decide that a person is a traitor and should die for having an opinion different from one's own, we cross into territory that puts all freedoms at risk. (I hear you, Dixie Chicks.)

She tries to see this as a universal phenomenon afflicting the liberals as much as conservatives but her case in point (herself) is strictly a conservative affair. Though we have all seen pretty much the same reaction on leftish blogs and comments. In any case, I don't usually admire much that Parker writes, but I think this column took a bit of courage and a lot of thought.