"His “Bubble? What bubble?” performance in June 2005 should become required viewing for anyone who wants the real history of how the economy collapsed. In another addition to the Someone Left The Irony On Department, Frank scolds the people behind the dot-com bubble for not having realistic business plans while Frank protected Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from regulators who warned that the two GSEs had the same exact problem. And Frank was right that the housing collapse wouldn’t be as bad as the dot-com pop — but in fact it was much, much worse, thanks to Congressional action that mandated the creation of mortgage-backed securities that spread the poison of bad loans throughout the global financial system. The dot-com bubble burst resulted in a mild recession, but Frank’s supposedly-impossible housing bubble collapse sent the entire world economy crashing into a heap."
Friday, April 24, 2009
"Leftists have to confront the facts: there is a very real possibility that, if we hadn’t waterboarded KSM, Al Qaeda would have had a repeat of 9/11, but this time in Los Angeles.
Which would you prefer? Pour some water on a mass murderer’s face, or allow thousands to die?
I’m proud of the Bush Administration for saving us from that. I’m glad that they did what needed to be done, and didn’t shrink from it.
And I’m ashamed that we’ve now elected a president who has made our tactics transparent to the enemy, who has talked about prosecuting officials for authorizing tactics that saved lives, and who has made it clear that he isn’t willing to do what’s necessary to protect the American people."
"I think it's very clear what the implications are: if you take the King's Shilling, the King gets to micromanage your life. Nor do I see what good it will do to have Treasury clarify its statement. The government is no longer capable of making a credible committment to keep its hands of firms that participate. If the voters decide that you make too much money, Congress will move heaven and earth to take that money away from you, plus some extra money, and maybe they'll deny you permission to build that bathroom addition, too. They also reserve the right to tell you how to run your company."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wants Bush Administration officials prosecuted for facilitating torture. Fair enough. But if they get prosecuted, she should get prosecuted, too. She knew of the torture and knowingly funded the very programs that engaged in it. She only objected to it after Bush’s poll ratings went down.
The Justice Department is asking the Supreme Court to overrule Michigan v. Jackson, the 1986 Supreme Court decision that held that if police may not interrogate a defendant after the right to counsel has attached, if the defendant has a lawyer or has requested a lawyer.
Cancer has always been an expensive priority. Since the war on cancer began, the National Cancer Institute, the federal government’s main cancer research entity, with 4,000 employees, has alone spent $105 billion. And other government agencies, universities, drug companies and philanthropies have chipped in uncounted billions more.Yet the death rate for cancer, adjusted for the size and age of the population, dropped only 5 percent from 1950 to 2005. In contrast, the death rate for heart disease dropped 64 percent in that time, and for flu and pneumonia, it fell 58 percent.
"I’m like 95 percent certain about this; it just fits, the more I think about it. Don’t all the weird gaffes and the strange adoration of Obama make sense if it were all some Borat-type gag? A lot of the humor in Borat’s character is that Cohen presented him as a well-meaning foreigner who gets people to dismiss his eccentricities as cultural differences. He’d keep getting weirder and weirder to see how far he could go before people stopped being polite. He’s doing the same thing with his Bruno character for a movie coming out this summer. With Obama, though, he’s using a bit of a different approach. We had all these people (probably actors — at least in the beginning) loving him for no apparent reason and declaring to us what a smart person this new politician Obama was. Thus, everyone thought all his weirdness was just what a smart, new type of politician was like."
"The truth is that liberals generally want higher energy prices. This is because they are either unconcerned with, or actively hostile to, economic growth. They think the world is rich enough already. (The common belief among liberals that there are too many people in the world rests on a similar foundation.) Thus, they are content to see energy prices rise, even though such increases necessarily dash the hopes of lower and middle-income Americans for greater prosperity.
The liberals who hold these views generally enjoy material circumstances consistent with their view that the world is rich enough already--for them, it is. But they know it is impossible, politically, to state clearly what they are up to--limiting the aspirations of their fellow Americans for prosperity and material success. So it is nice when, every once in a while, the truth comes out."
"It’s nearly 9 years since the crash of the twin towers, and Janet Napolitano still doesn’t know – still – that all of the hijackers that brought tragedy that day came into the U.S.A. through their own Customs and Immigration. Not one came down through the great forests of Toronto or over the tundra of Montreal, not one of them got access to the U.S. via what Ms Napolitano thinks of as “borderless” Canada."
Thursday, April 23, 2009
"Mr. Obama and his allies need to discredit the techniques he has banned. Otherwise, in the event of a future terrorist attack, critics may blame his decision to rein in C.I.A. interrogators."
• "In the garden, growth has it seasons. First comes spring and summer, but then we have fall and winter. And then we get spring and summer again."--presidential adviser Chauncey Gardner, "Being There," 1979
• "You plant, you cultivate, you harvest. Over time, the seeds that were planted here are going to be very, very valuable."--presidential adviser David Axelrod, actually there, 200
"VP Joe Biden stood up in front of a bunch of Hollywood execs and promised to appoint a copyright czar, and furthermore, that this would be the 'right' person to protect their interests. I would have voted Dem in the last election, if I got a vote, but make no mistakes: the Dems are the party of stupid copyright laws. From Hollywood Howard Berman on down, they've got a terrible track record on technology and copyright policy."
Now, I'm all for buying locally and supporting the American economy. But when you read an article like this one, it becomes hard not to notice that the author (whomever that may be as there is no byline) is either blind, completely ignorant, or just plain stupid. I guess we shouldn't be surprised though that the NY Times has no journalistic standards......
For Mr. Goldin, outsourcing was never an option. “Ever since I was at grad school I have felt very strongly about having my hands in what I am making — actually feeling materials and how they work,” he said. “It all started with my desire to make things and to have a shop where I could do that.”
Outsourcing, he said, would also make it difficult to ensure high design and craftsmanship standards. “How do you keep track?” he asked. “How do you make sure your product comes to you as you specified it? Overseeing the process would require constant traveling back and forth.”
In any case, having Swerve’s pieces made overseas would compromise the company’s just-in-time manufacturing model. “We always make our products to order. We can’t afford to keep items in stock,” Mr. Goldin said. “If we went overseas we would have to order huge inventory ahead of time. And we’re not ready for that.”The company’s labor costs are kept low because of its reliance on computerized cutting machines, including a new canary yellow robot from Japan, nicknamed Ziggy by the employees, which works 24 hours a day. Of Swerve’s 15 employees, only four work on the shop floor.
"If the guy at the food co-op with the long white beard rattled on like this while weighing out the lentils, you would smile indulgently and glance at your watch. If a Distinguished Professor of Education said it during a speech, you would wearily shake your head. But when a forgettable 1960s relic goes on in the same vein for 300 pages plus, it’s like a four-CD box set of Iron Butterfly’s Greatest Hit.
...Still, as Rudd tours the nation to sell his book, and his Weatherman colleagues Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn pal around with the president of the United States, it’s worth remembering that they leave behind a trail of dead, mangled, and crippled bodies, ruined and interrupted lives, broken marriages, emotionally scarred victims, and destroyed property and dreams — just like another famous pair:
They were careless people, Tom and Daisy — they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made. (The Great Gatsby)
And as the rest of the world struggles to come to grips with the 21st century, Rudd and his dwindling band of 1960s comrades “beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past” — an era of obvious choices and easy certainties, complete with noble heroes and wicked villains and a bright, shining collectivist future that always seemed to be just around the corner, but somehow kept getting farther away."
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
"Credit bubbles are like the tide. They can cover up a lot of rot. In our case, the excess consumer demand and jobs created by our credit and housing bubbles have masked not only our weaknesses in manufacturing and other economic fundamentals, but something worse: how far we have fallen behind in K-12 education and how much it is now costing us. That is the conclusion I drew from a new study by the consulting firm McKinsey, entitled “The Economic Impact of the Achievement Gap in America’s Schools.”"
Poor Tom. He's become so used to people gushing over everything he says, he now thinks that he can just throw out any old and tired bullshit, and we're just going to applaud and say "Thanks, Tom. We sure needed that kick in the pants!" What's most interesting to me in this case are the posted comments, which pretty much take him to task for the very same thing - especially from current and former educators.
The Obamafied, Democratic call to "Throw as much money at it and see what sticks (as long as it's someone else's money, that is)" has become so tired and nauseating - imagine in just a few short months!- that I want to scream. The fact of the matter is Tom, that we have become a nation of shitty parents - we let our kids watch too much TV, we don't discipline them, we're too concerned with our own acheivement and not theirs, we leave them on their own too much, we think that it's the government's job to teach them right from wrong and not our's, and, worst of all, our politicians and public intellectuals (that's you Tommy Boy) refuse to take us to task for these sins and continue to promote the ridiculous notion that the state can solve these basic problems for us.
You can throw all the dollars you want at failed businesses to help them succeed; but if those entities are run by bad businesspeople or populated with unproductive and unwilling workers, there ain't no point. By the same token, giving our kids the finest books, the most well-meaning teachers, and the most beautiful buildings won't do a damn bit of good if those kids are lousy students who don't know right from wrong, refuse to study, have no appreciation for their surroundings, and are not guided by a strong hand. Friedman's approach is just more of the tail wagging the dog - it doesn't work.
"As head of the TARP Congressional Oversight Panel, Elizabeth Warren has massively extended her mandate, using the office as a sort of forum for broad-ranging commentary on the financial crisis. Rather than tracking the expenditure of the funds, she's increasingly using the oversight board to push her own ideas about what should be done with the banks.
This is wildly inappropriate. Elizabeth Warren knows a lot about bankruptcy--but just because it has the word 'bank' in it, doesn't make her an expert in banking. Her specialty isn't even in corporate liquidations; she mostly writes about consumer bankruptcy. The highly specialized world of bank resolution is not one where she has, as far as I can tell, very much expertise."
In the six states with the highest unemployment rates, the average top state income tax bracket is 8.05%. All but Michigan have marginal tax rates of at least 7% (and Michigan has a very high unionization rate).
On the other hand, the average top tax bracket for the six states with the lowest unemployment is only 4.4%, with 4 of the 6 states having a top marginal rate of 5.54% or less.
Further, union representation averages 14.1% in the six high unemployment states, with a median of 17.4%. All but the Carolinas are among the most unionized states in the nation (and the Carolinas have relatively high marginal income tax rates of 7% and 7.75%).
"Looking around, can we have any doubt of Huxley’s prescience? But as acute as his prophetic faculties were, he did miss one crucial feature of the coup de culture against which he warned: The minions of Brave New World believed in nothing. However, as an intrinsically moral species, we may be congenitally incapable of literal agnosticism: We will always believe in something — and that “something” increasingly looks like a radical earth religion that views human beings as the enemies of the planet."
I am reluctantly drawn back into this discussion about labels. Did we ever think it would get to the point where I am defending investment banks against some other entity in the economy? Treasury Secretary Geithner apparently has decided that bailout money was an offer they couldn't refuse...
Sorry, but I think that Obama's intentions here are significantly more underhanded than even Samwick, who, for the most part, has backed the administration wholeheartedly (up to now).
This is just another piece of the puzzle that cements that belief.
"And so does that mean it was justified?
Or does that mean it was “torture”?
The answer depends on whom you ask."
"In dozens of studies, researchers identified Kuznets curves for a variety of environmental problems. There are exceptions to the trend, especially in countries with inept governments and poor systems of property rights, but in general, richer is eventually greener. As incomes go up, people often focus first on cleaning up their drinking water, and then later on air pollutants like sulfur dioxide."
With Obama talking about going after DoJ lawyers for torture memos, how many senior government lawyers and officials are currently worried that someone will go after them for things they’re doing on TARP and other bailout operations that may later turn out to be illegal?
UPDATE: Related: Maybe Jay Bybee and Jamie Gorelick Should Be In The Dock Together.
"THE CONSERVATIVE COMEBACK, PART 5633. If you’re an ordinary American liberal type, winding down your day with a Gardenburger and PBR and listening to some Cat Power, and you hear Dr. Sanity referring to “The Left’s Romance with Tyranny and Terror,” you probably assume he’s talking about a different Left — maybe the Left two houses down, or the Left over by the gas station.
But no: if you find Janeane Garofalo pretty MOR, or don’t think it’s a big deal that Barack Obama shook hands with Hugo Chavez, or think “green jobs” sound okay and approve of the reduction of greenhouse gases, you are the Left he means. He thinks that you’re “so nonchalant about terrorism and the threat of Islamic jihad” because you see yourself “on the same side politically.” He thinks you have rubbed your hands with glee as “a majority of Democrats have been slowly sliding toward a preference for tyanny [sic] over the last decade,” and are happy to have a President who “never liked America much to begin with” and is eager “to demonstrate his willingness to submit to Islamic bullying.”"
"There are no sunspots, very few solar flares - and our nearest star is the quietest it has been for a very long time.
The observations are baffling astronomers, who are due to study new pictures of the Sun, taken from space, at the UK National Astronomy Meeting."
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Clearly, Obama does not want to answer questions about the overall results of his “doctrine” because those answers are not pretty. Pres. Obama would prefer to blame his predecessors, especially former Pres. Bush. However, the Washington Post’s Jackson Diehl — hardly a raving wingnut — addresses that ploy’s expiration date:
Now comes the interesting part: when it starts to become evident that Bush did not create rogue states, terrorist movements, Middle Eastern blood feuds or Russian belligerence — and that shake-ups in U.S. diplomacy, however enlightened, might not have much impact on them.
Diehl surveys the results of the Obama doctrine to date, with devastating effect. North Korea rejected Obama’s diplomatic overtures to test a missile designed for a range that could strike Hawaii or Alaska. Neither Israel nor the Palestinian Authority were impressed by Obama’s intervention — or willing to offer even token concessions. Russia ignored Obama’s diplomatic overtures of appeasement (as comical as they may have been) on NATO and missile defense, and is blatantly violating its cease-fire agreement with two Georgian republics. Iran rejected Obama’s overtures, announcing its plan to expand its uranium enrichment and trying an American journalist for espionage.
"Obama’s speciality is shaping up to be particularly dangerous because it’s hard to dispute given the average American’s sensibilities. No call for liberty and constitutional principle seems convincing when Obama is arguing that those relying on government giveaways should have to follow government-set rules. That is, once you’ve allowed them to go ahead with the handouts, the political game is almost over. Under the guise of “managing the taxpayers’ money', Obama and his crew are rewriting mortgages, deciding executive compensation, tossing out CEO’s. And note carefully that his plans for where taxpayers’ money should go continue to swell, from healthcare to the environment to energy policy to expanded “national service” programs. When taxpayers’ money is everywhere - and Obama is doing his best to make sure it is - then Obama’s control is everywhere. The Octo-potus is claiming his space and flexing his grip. As far as he’s concerned, it’s Barack Obama’s country. We’re just living in it.
"Which just points up how little this crisis seems to be associated with any particular regulatory change, or 'free market ideologues' in the government, or even housing lending--Austria is about to topple because of its massive exposure to Eastern Europe. And though you'd never know it from listening to most of the commentary, we're weathering this crisis better than many, even most, more statist countries--even Canada may suffer worse than we do, because their economy is so exposed to our importing appetite. When you look at how countries are performing in this crisis, what seems more relevant than a free market government is how big your country is, and how dependent it is on the global economy. On both metrics, we're actually in pretty good shape"
CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: Pelosi, other Dem leaders pressure members to oppose ethics measure.
Senator’s husband cashes in on crisis: Feinstein sought $25 billion for agency that awarded contract to spouse. “On the day the new Congress convened this year, Sen. Dianne Feinstein introduced legislation to route $25 billion in taxpayer money to a government agency that had just awarded her husband’s real estate firm a lucrative contract to sell foreclosed properties at compensation rates higher than the industry norms. Mrs. Feinstein’s intervention on behalf of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. was unusual: the California Democrat isn’t a member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs with jurisdiction over FDIC; and the agency is supposed to operate from money it raises from bank-paid insurance payments - not direct federal dollars.”
L.A. TIMES: Crimes suspected in 20 bailout cases — for starters.
I thought three strikes and YOU"RE OUT!!!!
"The only possible logic I can see is that they were worried that the limits would make Fiat skittish about a deal. Which doesn't seem crazy--the US government is getting less and less friendly towards companies that take its money. (As perhaps it should.) But then, there's also simple stupidity and greed, which should never be ruled out as a possible explanation.
On the other hand, this has the feel of a targeted administration leak. It's pretty clear that the administration is frustrated by having to negotiate with unwilling partners, and the restrictions imposed on Congress are making them even more unwilling. The leak advances the narrative they've constructed of greedy executives standing in the way of Worthwhile American Initiatives. So it's worth taking this fairly explosive accusation with a grain of salt."
Monday, April 20, 2009
"I don’t disagree with Obama’s policy of dialoguing with foreign leaders who are hostile to America. But there’s a difference between conversing with thugs and dictators, and giving them a pass. We do need to pursue a less isolationist approach to Cuba, but it ought to be one that gives more freedom and access to the Cuban people, not one that legitimizes, even a little bit, the boot heel that’s been crushing them for a generation.
Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) put our Cuba policy into perspective when he noted at a Reason event last year that if one of the two governments is going to prevent peaceful American citizens from trading, visiting with, and engaging with peaceful Cuban citizens, you’d like to think it would be the brutal, authoritarian Cuban government that’s doing the prohibiting. It isn’t, of course.
Obama’s got it wrong on both ends, here."
"The outrage at the Times is not reality based. Small cars simply are not as safe as bigger cars, and they can't be made safer by yelling at people who insist on believing in the laws of physics.
As long as Americans insist on having children, and those children are legally required to spend their prepubescent years in some elaborate safety contraption, American cars aren't going to get much smaller than an Accord. And those Accords will continue to pose a mortal threat to those of us who drive smaller cars.This is a real problem for proponents of higher fuel economy, not to mention the manufacturers of small cars. Cheap, fuel efficient cars are more dangerous. Even hybrids rely at least in part on making the car lighter. On the other hand, running a massive uncontrolled experiment on the global climate seems kind of dangerous too."
"It seems to me it’s an intrinsic feature of leftism, which is based on a permanent state of envy, class warfare and seeking “social justice” and “equality.” Which is why it is leftists (from Hitler to Stalin to Mao and Pol Pot) who have been responsible for hundreds of millions of violent deaths over the past century. You have to break the eggs to make the social-justice omelette through the collective will. It’s not individualists who do that kind of thing."
Sunday, April 19, 2009
"It was obvious to me at the time DHS and Patriot Act (and TSA!) were bad moves. Aside from the fact that amalgamating many inefficient bureaucracies into one multiplies not divides the inefficiencies - efficient government is not an overriding concern of mine - centralizing power to meet a crisis leaves the centralized power available for abuse long after the crisis is forgotten. The chances that a future Democrat administration would disband DHS and repeal Patriot Act were patently zero even at the time. Expand, politicize, and abuse now are the order of the day, and I am not surprised in the least.
Both major parties seem now irredeemably statist. Many Republicans are starting to say the right things once more, but I doubt 51% will trust the party again soon enough to help. Nor should we, on the record. I attended the public signing of the Contract With America, and I watched as it was abandoned by Republican “realists” who seemed to think that absolute power in *their* hands was kinda neat."
One massive bureaucratic layer on top of another group of smaller (not really) ones is the modern method of making government "efficient", i.e. screwing you and me. I hated the idea of DHS the very moment it was announced; and it shattered Bush's small government credentials.