Friday, October 31, 2008

Fred Thompson Summarizes the Stakes in this Election

Fred was my first choice for the Republican nomination. Alas, it was not to be but he still has something to say about it:

I hope the rumors that he will be tapped to chair the RNC are true.

(Via Little Green Footballs)
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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Questions the Market Has Asked - And Answered

In today's Wall Street Journal, economist and retired business executive George Newman lays out the reasons the stock market is so weak.
"To state the obvious: The valuation of an individual stock reflects the collective expectation of investors about a company's future profits, dividends and appreciation, and the same is true of the market as a whole. These profits, in turn, are greatly influenced by government policy on taxes, spending, subsidies, environmental and other regulations, labor laws, and the corporate legal climate. Investors have heard enough from both candidates in the last month or two to conclude that prospects for a flourishing, competitive, growing and reasonably free economy in a McCain administration are bad, and in an Obama administration far worse. (In fact, the market's bearish behavior over the last couple of months pretty closely tracks Barack Obama's gains.)"
He concludes with this: "The silver lining in all this is that the market has already "discounted" an Obama win, so if that happens you won't wake up on Nov. 5 to find your remaining savings down the drain. If the unexpected happens, you may be in for a pleasant surprise."

Read the whole thing.
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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

More Delicious Irony

Apparently solar panels cause global warming. The weather gods have found yet another way to mock Al Gore.
".......a greenhouse gas emitted during the production of solar panels and HDTVs, nitrogen trifluoride (NF3) that is used for cleaning some parts of the gadgets, is about 17,000 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide."
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Monday, October 27, 2008

Obama Talking Openly About Redistribution of Wealth

(via Boortz) This is a more than 4 minute segment from an interview Obama gave to a local Chicago public radio station when he was still an Illinois legislator. In it he talks openly and with some detail on why he thinks the courts should be used to force redistribution of wealth in the name of "political and economic justice."

Don't tell me this guy isn't a Marxist. If you're thinking of pulling the lever for 0bama, think carefully about what that means if you do.

Update: Bill Whittle analyzes the clip.
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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Another MSM Journalist Criticizes the Profession

Michael S. Malone, a fourth generation journalist with 30 plus years in the industry himself, comes down hard on his fellow journalists.

"But nothing, nothing I’ve seen has matched the media bias on display in the current Presidential campaign. Republicans are justifiably foaming at the mouth over the sheer one-sidedness of the press coverage of the two candidates and their running mates. But in the last few days, even Democrats, who have been gloating over the pass - no, make that shameless support - they’ve gotten from the press, are starting to get uncomfortable as they realize that no one wins in the long run when we don’t have a free and fair press. I was one of the first people in the traditional media to call for the firing of Dan Rather - not because of his phony story, but because he refused to admit his mistake - but, bless him, even Gunga Dan thinks the media is one-sided in this election.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not one of those people who think the media has been too hard on, say, Gov. Palin, by rushing reportorial SWAT teams to Alaska to rifle through her garbage. This is the Big Leagues, and if she wants to suit up and take the field, then Gov. Palin better be ready to play. The few instances where I think the press has gone too far - such as the Times reporter talking to Cindy McCain’s daughter’s MySpace friends - can easily be solved with a few newsroom smackdowns and temporary repostings to the Omaha Bureau.

No, what I object to (and I think most other Americans do as well) is the lack of equivalent hardball coverage of the other side - or worse, actively serving as attack dogs for Senators Obama and Biden. If the current polls are correct, we are about to elect as President of the United States a man who is essentially a cipher, who has left almost no paper trail, seems to have few friends (that at least will talk) and has entire years missing out of his biography. That isn’t Sen. Obama’s fault: his job is to put his best face forward. No, it is the traditional media’s fault, for it alone (unlike the alternative media) has had the resources to cover this story properly, and has systematically refused to do so."

While I wish he hadn't waited so long to speak up, better now than never. Thank goodness some of them still have a conscience. If the MSM is to be saved, the profession of journalism must confront the bias that has become so obvious to so many of us and return to its ideal of reporting all the facts in as unbiased a manner as it is possible for humans to do. If they had been doing their jobs instead of cheer-leading for one side, we would not be on the verge of electing as President, a man we know very little about and what little we do know is very worrying indeed.
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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Confusing Glibness with Intelligence

(via Instapundit) Todd Zywicki has a post up at The Volokh Conspiracy in which he discusses the tendency among people to confuse glibness with intelligence or, put more concisely, "to confuse the ability to "bullshit" with actual intelligence" in the context of the presidential race. Some people may falter or say they don't know when asked a question they haven't been prepared for while some may spout off a ready answer. The latter person may actually have no idea what they are talking about but they can certainly make it sound good. Read the whole post but here is an excerpt:
"My sense is that Hoven is on the right track. Some thoughtful people simply have a tendency to confuse intelligence with the ability to be glib, or more precisely, to bs. And I think that is much of what it comes down to--if Palin doesn't know the answer to a question, she just isn't that good at making something up. Biden, by contrast, is a master bs'er, as his debate performance exhibited. As a general rule, the less informed he was about the answer to a question, the more assertive he was in answering it, such as his extraordinary answer about the legislative role of the Vice-President. It is clear that he had not the slightest idea what he was talking about, yet he just plowed ahead throwing out assertions with rhetorical flair. Classic bs. Even on issues that were supposedly in his area of expertise, such as the Constitution, he wasn't even in the ballpark of being correct. Hoven picks up on Biden's whopper of answer about kicking Hezbollah out of Lebanon, but it is pretty much the same thing--aggressive bs covering a complete lack of any clue what he is talking about."
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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A Scathing Indictment of the MSM... one of their own, Orson Scott Card.

Your job, as journalists, is to tell the truth. That's what you claim you do, when you accept people's money to buy or subscribe to your paper.

But right now, you are consenting to or actively promoting a big fat lie — that the housing crisis should somehow be blamed on Bush, McCain, and the Republicans. You have trained the American people to blame everything bad — even bad weather — on Bush, and they are responding as you have taught them to.

Read it all. And don't miss the editor's note at the top.
(via Instapundit)
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More on Obama's "Tax Cuts"

Writing in the Wall Street Journal today, William McGurn walks us through the Obama tax plan and shows that not only is it essentially an income redistribution scheme but also a further disincentive to work, at both ends of the income scale.

And that leads us to the heart of this problem. If the government is going to give tax cuts to 44% of American based on their Social Security taxes -- without actually refunding to them the money they are paying into Social Security -- Mr. Obama will have to get the funds elsewhere. And this is where "general revenues" turns out to be a more agreeable way of saying "Other People's Money."

This is essentially the same point I was making in my earlier post. Cut through the Doublespeak and what you have left is a straight up confiscation and redistribution of money from people who worked for it to people who didn't. "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need." Sound familiar?
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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Mark Steyn on Joe the Plumber

Mark Steyn has a column up at National Review Online entitled "Joe the Plumber vs. Joe the Hair-Plugger", which is both very serious and very funny (but you expect that with Steyn, don't you?) at the same time.
"Supposedly, under the Obama tax plan, 95 per cent of the American people will get a tax cut. You’d think that at this point the natural skepticism of any sentient being other than six-week-old puppies might kick in, but apparently not. If you’re wondering why Obama didn’t simply announce that under his plan 112 per cent of the American people will get a tax cut, well, they ran it past the focus groups who said that that was all very generous but they’d really like it if he could find a way to stick it to Dick Cheney, Rush Limbaugh, Karl Rove and whatnot. So 95 per cent it is..........

.........Anyway, our Fact Check Unit ran the numbers on the Obama tax-cut plan and the number is correct: “95.” It’s the words “per cent” immediately following that are wrong: that’s a typing error accidentally left in from the first draft. It should read: Under the Obama plan, 95 of the American people will get a tax cut."

0bama's mathematically impossible tax plan should worry everyone. When 45% of the populace pay no taxes, it is not possible to give 95% a tax cut. So how does 0bama propose to pull this off? Refundable tax credits is the Doublespeak du jour mechanism he is proposing. This is just another word for welfare. You can't "refund" anything to someone who never paid anything in the first place. If they're getting a check from the Treasury, that money had to be confiscated from someone else. That someone else is probably a business owner who now won't have that money available to invest in growing his business and giving someone else the opportunity to earn some of that money. When 70% of the existing jobs in this country are provided by small businesses and 80% of the new ones, taking this money out of the productive economy and redistributing it to people who had no hand in producing it is not only insane but fundamentally wrong. Increasing tax rates will also act to decrease GDP which will decrease tax revenues. The next time you hear some smug nit-wit going on about how it's stupid to reduce tax rates when you are running a deficit, point them to that (and pray their math and reading comprehension skills are on a par with a 9th grader's).
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Saturday, October 11, 2008

More On Why Government Efforts to "Help" the Markets Aren't Working as Intended

A couple of days ago I posted on the $700 billion bail-out package and in a later update noted how when the government had failed to pass it the first time, the DJIA went up by 485 points. I really do think that government inaction might be the best course, for the reasons laid out in the WSJ article I linked to. Brian Micklethwait at Samizdata seems to be thinking along similar lines and also makes a pretty good case for why government actions are exacerbating rather than helping the problems due to a "crowding out" effect. No sane investor is going to want to get back into the market until the 800 pound gorilla on crack that is our government stops trying to "help".
"My take on this is that there is a crowding out effect going on here, big time. I trust we are all familiar with this idea. It says that big government plans of any kind not only do harm because the government plans fail and all the wealth it wastes on them is wasted, but, and arguably even worse, because people with better plans in the same line of business are frightened into inactivity.........

...............Well, now, exactly the same thing seems to be happening in the banking industry. Were I one of the immensely rich and immensely sensible banking people who had (a) seen this crash coming and cashed out at roughly the right time, and who now (b) has plans to gobble up failed banks and reorganise them along more sensible lines, I would now, despite all my hopes of profitable new business, be sitting on my hands, waiting for all the government plans to do their immense damage before I went wading in and god [sic] chewed up too. Only when these government plans had become an obvious failure, and the politicians had just totally given up, would I be ready to move in a[nd] sort things out. Only when the politicians lapse into inactivity, which for a brief shining moment looked as if it might happen straight away, does economic optimism, among the people willing to back their optimism with money, reassert itself."
Read the whole thing.
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Thursday, October 09, 2008

Why Didn't Passage of the $700 Billion Bailout Stabilize The Financial Markets?

Manuel Hinds, writing in the Wall Street Journal may just have the right answer, illustrating his point with a poker analogy. Read the whole thing of course but here's the meat of the article.

"What we are witnessing is what economists call a rise in the liquidity preference, which was the main factor leading to the Great Depression. By a rise in the liquidity preference we mean that investors aim to increase the share of liquid instruments in their total assets. For the banks it means they want to liquidate loans and transfer the proceeds to very liquid instruments, such as Treasury Bills.
This migration depresses the economy by reducing credit. In these circumstances, the solution is not to keep on throwing money at the banks, which are inclined to hoard it not lend it. Rather, what is needed is stopping the skyrocketing increase in their liquidity
preference and then lowering it. Doing that requires writing off the losses now lodged in the financial system as soon as possible.

A simple analogy will help illustrate this point. Imagine that you are playing poker with 10 people and that you learn that a minority of them is broke and would not pay you if
they lose. You don't know, however, who the ones are who won't pay. In this environment, the risk of losing would be too high even if you know that most of the players are perfectly sound financially and would pay up if they lose.

In this environment, any rational card player would stop making bets until the true solvency position of each player is revealed and the bankrupt ones are expelled from the game. Having insolvent players sitting at the table spoils the game.

This is what is happening in the banking system -- only worse, because in poker you would only fail to collect the pot if you played with an insolvent player, while in the banking system you would lose your bets if you lend to an insolvent bank. Liquidity preference will not subside until the losses are made explicit, written off and absorbed."

This sounds about right to me. I've quipped to more than one person in the last few days that it seems like every time the government tries to "do something" the market swoons again and maybe they should just stop. I may have been coincidentally closer to the mark than I thought.
Update: The day afer the first bailout bill was rejected by the House, i.e., the government failed to "do something," the dow rallied by 485 points. Yes, it dropped the day of the vote but could that be more due to the expectation of passage by some who expected the companies they invested in to benefit from the bailout and that was priced into the stocks? When the expectation didn't materialize, the market fell.
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Barack Obama's Questionable Associations

I've been aware of the ties between Barack Obama and William Ayers for some time but apparently not many other people are because they get their news from the MSM, which is not doing its job and probing both candidates in depth. In fact, they have very assiduously avoided pursuing any story that has the potential to reflect badly on Obama. This McCain campaign video will give you the background.

The voice-over refers to several bombings carried out by Ayers' organization, the Weather Underground. One of those was a judge's house. The story of that incident, as told by the judge's son is here. After first trying to minimize his relationship with William Ayers as "some guy who lives in my neighborhood," Obama is now trying to justify it on the basis that he was only 8 years old when Ayers and his terrorist group were carrying out their attacks. John Murtagh, the judges son, was only 9 when the Weathermen tried to murder his entire family.

The issue with the Obama/Ayers relationship isn't, as some are trying to paint it, implying guilt by association but the fact that Obama is hanging out with someone who is proud of his terrorist acts, has never paid any meaningful price for them and has stated that he wouldn't rule out doing it again. Like it or not, we are all judged by the company we keep and Obama keeps company with some very bad people.

Update: A deleted scene from the movie "Indoctrinate U" tells more of the Ayers/Weathermen story.
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Barack Obama's Socialist Roots

Still don't think Obama is a hard left socialist? Read this.
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Bill Whittle on What Makes a Right

There's a new video at PJTV featuring Bill Whittle's commentary on what rights are.
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Sunday, October 05, 2008

"We the People" Have Lost Control of Washington

As Tom Blumer says over at Pajamas Media, "the bailout saga proves the elites don't care what we think." I certainly agree with the sentinment shared by many that it's time the entire Congress was replaced. They barely even pretend to listen to the voters anymore. Back to Tom Blumer:

"In mid-September, when it became clear to Hank Paulson, Ben Bernanke, and George Bush that extraordinary measures were needed to address the mess that had built up in the financial markets during the past decade or so, their first instincts should have been to say:

  • “We need to have a complete plan to deal with this.”
  • “We need to make a case to Congress and the American people that our plan will work.”

They did neither of these things; nor did they even seem to consider whether what they wanted was even constitutional."

Does anybody out there know whether we can sue to block implementation of this bailout plan on Constitutional grounds before it gets any worse (and it will get worse if we don't start screaming even louder about it)?

(via Instapundit)
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The Bailout and "The Blob"

Pajamas TV has this interesting little video perspective, presented by Bill Whittle, on the just-passed bailout bill and its growth metastasization from 3 pages to over 400 in the course of just two short weeks.
Hey, Congress. If you really want to help, don't help! And certainly don't help your self to all the goodies.
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Thursday, October 02, 2008

A Chronology of the Mortgage Meltdown

(via Samizdata) Reason Online has an excellent primer on the roots of the mortgage crisis that got us to where we are today. This is the take-away I think is important:

Let's be clear: This is a Wall Street crisis, not a national economic crisis. The overall economy, while a bit weak, is still growing. Some politicians are comparing the current environment to the Great Depression. But in 1932, when the federal government last moved to bail out the banking sector, economic output had fallen 45 percent and unemployment was a staggering 24 percent. Today, economic output is actually up and unemployment is a historically modest 6.1 percent.

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