Chronicle of the Conspiracy
Saturday, November 18, 2006THEY COULDN'T HAVE DONE THIS BEFORE THE ELECTION? The GOP digs up the dirt on Pelosi and Murtha:
Republican lawmakers say that ties between Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) and his brother's lobbying firm, KSA Consulting, may warrant investigation by the House ethics committee... The calls come as Murtha, a former Marine and pro-military Democrat, has made headlines this week by coming out in support of a rapid withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq...KSA directly lobbied Murtha's office on behalf of seven companies, and a Murtha aide told a defense contractor that it should retain KSA to represent it, according to the LA Times.Thanks to Jameson Campaigne for the link.
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 1:12 PM | link
Friday, November 17, 2006BOEHNER WINS TOP HOUSE MINORITY JOB For those of us who see John Boehner not being enough of a pro-reform break from the GOP's tainted past, here are some words of comfort from my DC lawyer/lobbyist friend:
Boehner 168, Pence 27, Barton 1. No totals yet on Blunt win.Not sure I agree on Boehner. Economy policy-wise, he believes all the right things. But he goes along to get along, and that attitude might have played into the culture of corruption and spending that cost the GOP the last election. Mike Pence is more a conservative ideologue. Maybe not pragmatic enough to have led a majority, but why not just the man to lead a minority? Who needs a minority to "get things done"? The job of the opposition is just to be very clear and consistent in its ideology, if only with respect to that which it opposes. Can Boehner do that better than Pence would have? We'll have to see.
Update... My friend responds,
OK, here’s my rejoinder. Pence got only 27 out of 196 votes. This morning, he proved he can’t lead a team which decides everything by casting ballots! Leaders have followers after all.Well... I really can’t accept the logic of that argument. It sets too high a bar, or makes too strong an "efficient markets" argument. Just because a population of followers selects a certain leader doesn't mean that leader is ideal. The followers might be wrong. These particular followers seem to have been wrong a lot lately!
Even though we share many ideological similarities, Republicans are not libertarians. Libertarians are generally more hostile to government involvement of any kind on any level; Republicans share this antipathy to the extent that wherever and whenever possible, power (wrongly usurped in the first place by Democratic leaders) should be devolved from the federal government to the hands of states and localities.
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 10:35 AM | link
Thursday, November 16, 2006MILTON FRIEDMAN, R.I.P. Milton Friedman has passed away. He is the reason why I made my career in investment and economics. When I read his work in the late 1970s when I was just starting out, his ideas were the only ones that made any sense to me -- that is, they were the only formal statements of economic theory that seemed to have relation to reality. And they were deeply moral, rooted not only in the actual dynamics of human nature, but revealing how economic behavior is connected to the ideal of human freedom.
In high school my history teacher -- an avowed Marxist -- was proud that his Ph.D. thesis had been a refutation of Friedman's classic Capitalism and Freedom. He thought it was terribly clever that his thesis had been titled "Capitalism aux Friedman." Somehow in my drug-addled youth I got from that the idea that Friedman's middle initial was "O", so when as a young man first discovering Friedman's work I wrote a letter to him, asking him if he would meet with me, I addressed it to "Milton O. Friedman." He replied with a handwritten note scrawled on my letter itself, saying he didn't have time to meet -- with the middle initial "O" crossed out with a pencil-stroke indicating rather extreme annoyance. In more recent years I ended up meeting him several times at Cato events. I got his name right -- but I was as giddy about meeting him as I would have been decades earlier. Perhaps the best compliment I can pay to him is to report that he didn't disappoint me -- his intellect and sparkling wit lived up to my highest expectations (and believe me, they were high).
So many obits and personal reflections have started pouring forth from all over the world, it's hard to begin to catalog them all here. Ben Bernanke's seems to say it all:
"Among economic scholars, Milton Friedman had no peer. The direct and indirect influences of his thinking on contemporary monetary economics would be difficult to overstate. Just as important, in his humane and engaging way, Milton conveyed to millions an understanding of the economic benefits of free, competitive markets, as well as the close connection that economic freedoms bear to other types of liberty. He will be sorely missed."
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 8:54 PM | link
KNEE JERK? OR JUST A JERK? With hundreds of individual races decided across a diverse nation in last week's election, ideologues (and idiot-logues) with an axe to grind can imagine whatever pattern they wish in the result. For example, we see knee-jerk Social Security reform opponent Dean Baker making this claim:
One aspect of the election that the media have largely ignored thus far is the fact that Republicans who were prominently associated with Social Security privatization took a beating on Tuesday. At the top of this list is Rick Santorum, who actively embraced President Bush's proposals. Last year, Santorum held town meetings around Pennsylvania touting the benefits of Social Security privatization. Last night, the people of Pennsylvania voted to send him out of town by a double-digit margin.Here's the reality.
* 23 of 24 sponsors of comprehensive reform bills that would allow workers to invest Soc Sec payroll taxes in personal accounts were re-elected. Only Cong. Northup lost.
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 10:40 AM | link
THE NEWSPAPER OF RECORD New York Times columnist Steve Levitt points out a New York Times howler:
"Woods’s Steak Snapped"Thanks to our correspondent "Irrational Exuberance" for the link.
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 9:42 AM | link
Wednesday, November 15, 2006DEMS CAUGHT THE BUS, NOW WHAT DO THEY DO WITH IT? Probably chew on the bumper for two years. But here's the reality:
"No longer is it good enough to say that the president's plans for Social Security are a radical departure from the 1935 vision of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Now the Democrats have to say what they would do to keep the system secure, or whether they would change public expectations of how much help Social Security will provide Americans when they retire.
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 8:47 AM | link
NOT TO MENTION THE CULTURAL POLLUTION The AP reports:
Special effects explosions, idling vehicles, teams of workers building monumental sets — all of it contributes to Hollywood‘s newly discovered role as an air polluter, a university study has found.Thanks to reader Tim Daniel for the link.
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 8:41 AM | link
BATTLE OF THE BRITS We're reported on the two scathing critiques of the Stern Report on global warming from Lord Monckton (here and here). Now here's a scathing critique on Lord Monckton. Great -- now both sides in this debate have accused each other of being utter liars. Whom do you believe? Easy: you believe the one who confirms whatever point of view you had before either one said a word. Sigh.
Thanks to Dave Nadig for the link.
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 8:31 AM | link
JOKE OF THE DAY
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 4:14 AM | link
Tuesday, November 14, 2006JOHNNY, WE HARDLY KNEW YE John Tierney, the "libertarian" in the "belly of the beast" leaves the New York Times op-ed page. Tragedy.
Whatever [the new Congress does over] the next two years, I won’t be here to kick them around. This is my last column on the Op-Ed page. I’ve enjoyed the past couple of years in Washington, but one election cycle is enough. I’m returning full time to the subject and the city closest to my heart: science and New York. I’ll be writing a column and a blog for the Science Times section.
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 11:16 AM | link
SUPPLY-SIDE WISDOM Isn't it funny how even inveterate tax-the-rich socialists are able to understand the incentive logic of the Laffer Curve when confronted with homey anecdotal situations? From a piece in the Left-leaning Guardian:
"There is something deeply disturbing in the very idea of taxing the hard-earned and often lovingly thought-through improvements so many people make to their homes. Why bother to improve them if such action leads only to greater taxation?"Thanks to William Sjostrom at AtlanticBlog.
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 8:44 AM | link
Monday, November 13, 2006PELOSI KNOCKS OFF RIVAL CRIME BOSS HOYER The Hill reports via email alert:
House Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will ensure that Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) wins his race for majority leader, a key Murtha ally said Monday night.For some reason this story was yanked from The Hill's website, and replaced with a far milder version that does not include the above quote.
Update... My DC lawyer/lobbyist friend points out this story from the Washington Post's Jonathan Weisman on outrage that Pelosi is supporting a man who has so much corruption in his Washington background. So much for opposing the "culture of corruption." But for me the real revelation in Weisman's story is its tone -- the "guilty until proven innocent" style applied against Pelosi and Murtha is the same one we've heard so often over the last decade from Weisman applied to Republicans. Could it just be possible that some element of the press's seeming biad against the Republican majority has been, in fact, a bias against any incumbent majority? I hope so...
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 10:29 PM | link
MORE GREAT INTELLECTUAL AMMO ON GLOBAL WARMING The second installment of Christopher Monckton's savage debunking of the Stern Report on global warming has been published. It begins:
In the climate change debate, one figure is real. The Sunday Telegraph's website registered more than 127,000 hits in response to last week's article revealing that the UN had minimised the sun's role in changing past and present climate, persisted in proven errors and used unsound data, questionable graphs and meretricious maths to exaggerate future warming threefold.Thanks to "Zoogler" for the link.
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 12:41 AM | link