Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Stephen Moore

CalPundit made a great catch, noting that Stephen Moore, president of the Club for Growth (a lobbying group devoted to Supply Side policies–Moore is on CNN, Fox, …, writes opinion pieces that appear in major newspapers, and gets quoted fairly often) can’t do simple math. This likely explains his devotion to Supply Side Economics. National Review Online, which published the faulty piece, has since changed the math, without noting the error.

This made me wonder whether Moore has a Ph.D.–he doesn’t. But I did find something that explains a bit about Dick Armey:

Mr. Moore served as a Senior Economist at the Joint Economic Committee under Chairman Dick Armey of Texas. There, he advised Mr. Armey on budget, tax, and competitiveness issues. He was also an architect of the Armey flat tax proposal now before Congress.

I’m not sure if this means that Armey’s misguidedness caused him to hire Moore, or whether hiring Moore caused Armey to become misguided–though I suspect it’s the former. Incidentally, Moore has an MA in Economics from George Mason University. Typically, though not always, people get masters in Economics as a sort of consolation prize when they can’t pass the qualifying exams at the end of the first or second year (Economics is a bit unusual in that very few people enter terminal Masters in Economics programs, because that degree just doesn’t do much for you, so few schools offer them. Instead, you get a Masters by entering a Ph.D. program and then dropping out along the way).


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I Didn’t Think this Would Make it Through the Senate

From the NYT, among others: “Republicans Woo Moderates on Tax Cut“. It looks like the Republicans have 50 votes in the Senate, with Dick Cheney holding the tie-breaking 51st, for an amendment to replace the Grassley-proposed and Senate Finance Committee approved version of the dividend tax cut. Zell Miller voted for the tax cut (as I predicted here), and Democrat Ben Nelson of Nebraska (Red State) also will vote ‘aye’. Voinovich gave in to pressure and agreed to vote yes, stating “[this plan] gets the biggest bang for the buck that we can possibly get” (rather Panglossian).

Technically, Voinovich did not reverse course as the plan comes in at $350b. Of course it only achieved that number via the dishonest accounting of sunset provisions: 1/2 of dividend income is excluded from taxation in 2004, followed by 100% of dividend income from 2005-2007, at which point the exclusion will in principle sunset (so the 10-year cost of the tax cut uses the assumption that dividends will be taxed from 2008 onward). Still, this plan will cost much more in lost revenues than Grassley’s. How did they add this cut and still keep under $350b?

The more robust dividend plan shaves tax cuts for married couples and small businesses to make room for more dividend breaks in the bill, which cuts taxes $350 billion over the coming decade [according to Sen. Don Nickles (R-Ok)].


Olympia Snow held her ground (“My position hasn’t changed”). And the story didn’t say, but it looks like Chafee and Collins also stood firm (48 Democrats + Jeffords + Chafee + Collins + Snow – Miller – Nelson = 50).


X-Posted at ISTES.

UPDATE: Via A Taxing Blog, this Brookings Institute analysis of three tax cut options–$726b, $550b, and $350b (“Our overarching conclusion is that the Administration, House, and Senate Finance Committee proposals are seriously flawed and are strikingly removed from the economy’s current and long-term problems”). It’s good, if very slightly wonky.

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More Jayson Blair

Eric Boehlert of Salon has a story devoted to the race angle. One quote from Jim Dwyer, “a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter at the Times” struck me as interesting:

…”I’ve worked at six newspapers and seen alcoholic shipwrecks and drug shipwrecks, and people who’ve fallen apart through nervous breakdowns, and they’re all brought back and given a second chance. I’ve seen it happen to people of every race”.

Also, I now have to add Mike Barnicle and Jeff Jacoby to the list of errant reporters who were not affirmative action hires. Jacoby amusingly copied an old Ann Landers piece on What Happened to the Founding Fathers? without attribution and as the product of his own research–this was a story that previously made the email and AM radio circuits. And many of the details of the purloined stories are false–as I said before, it’s easiest to catch the unskilled plagiarizers.


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The 25th Ammendment…

…can be read here. Basically, the President gets to comeback when he says he’s ready, and it takes a majority of the cabinet to initiate a Congressional vote to prevent the President’s return. Should that occur, it takes a 2/3 majority of both houses to prevent the President from returning to office when he feels like it. It was passed by Congress July 6, 1965 and ratified February 10, 1967. I don’t know much of the history behind this, but presumably in the wake of JFK’s assassination there were concerns about preserving stability should the President be incapacitated.

The amendment also says that should a Congressional vote be required, Congress must meet and vote within 21 days (23 days if out of session), leading me to wonder what would happen if a group of legislators opposed to the President’s reinstatement blocked a quorum by simply hiding out in Canada or Mexico? [Note to West Wing writers: with Sorkin and the show’s director now gone, you may be in need of script ideas for next season. This one is for sale].


P.S. This is in relation to tonight’s episode of The West Wing, not some real-world event.

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Jayson Blair Update

The Washington Post has a opinion piece on Jayson Blair, by Terry Neal. Apparently, I should have included Ruth Shalit in my list of noted plagiarizers who were not beneficiaries of any affirmative action programs. I like Neal’s take on why Blair, and other plagiarizers, do so well (until they are caught):

…Here’s my theory: Freed from the normal constraints of truth and veracity, “journalists” such as Blair, Shalit, Barnicle, Smith and Glass shine above their counterparts. They’re promoted ahead of the pack because their stories, sneakily cloaked as journalism, read better than everyone else’s stories. In a profession fueled by competition, their careers are propelled along because of, rather than in spite of, their transgressions…To suggest somehow that Blair is unique in being coddled by upper management is pure buffoonery.”


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No to Tax Cuts Debt Increases

Matt Stoller has what I think is a pretty good suggestion. And it’s much more accurate than, for example, calling the “estate tax” the “death tax” (only a small proportion of those who die are subject to estate taxes).


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The Battle is Won

No, sadly not the War on Terrorism, just AB’s battle against the Axis of Frustration (Blogger, Templates, HTML) and its weapons of extreme annoyance: style sheets, screen resolution, table width and placement, TR and TD, valign,….

Unless I’m crazy, Angry Bear is now viewable without horizontal scrolling in resolutions from 800×600 to at least 1280×1024. In 1024×768 or higher resolution, you can see all of Angry Bear. In 800×600, you should see the left hand panel and the blog text, though you have to scroll right to see the archives (look soon for a button on the bottom of the left panel that says “Archives” and takes you to the top of the right panel Done!). All three resolutions have been tested in both IE and Opera. In Opera, the title doesn’t show up for some reason, just a big orange rectangle (my next project), but other than that, Done! everything is fine in both. Comments now work in both Opera and IE, on PCs and Macs, though I had to take out some of the extras like bullet list and font formatting.

Normal posting should resume tomorrow.


UPDATE: There were a few more skirmishes, but they are done now, as reflected by the above striken-through text.

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Affirmative Action

CalPundit has a post that largely echoes a conversation I had last night on the subject of whether Affirmative Action leads to promotion and hiring of less qualified people. I said, “sure, you can find instances of it, but you can find instances of hirings of unqualified people for a variety of reasons”. The variety of reasons I had in mind is reflected in the aphorism, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”, and in the phrase “old boys network”, and in the practice of legacy admissions and so forth. Because of slavery and Jim Crow, Black Americans have only had a bit less than 40 years to develop legacies and old boys networks and connections, which is a bit less than the 400 or so years white Americans have had. So I said that, on balance, affirmative action is a reasonable counter-balance. If you looked closely enough, I am sure that for every Jayson Blair out there, you could find an instance where affirmative action lead to a minority being hired instead of the boss’s imbecilic nephew.

And for the love of God, somebody please tell me what color Doris Kearns, Steven Ambrose, John Lott, Stephen Glass, Jan Hendrik Schon, and Michael Bellesiles are? I don’t know Bellisiles’ race, but I’m pretty sure the answer on the others is…[pause for some suspense]…white.

And finally, if you are going to argue against affirmative action on the basis of a meritocratic argument, then be consistent and argue against repealing the estate tax (and then using the funds to improve public schools, or for inner city vouchers, or something that levels the playing field).


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Browser Stats

For all of you using Netscape v X.x, I assume you are doing so out of some sort of MS protest, or love of the concept of Mozilla. In practice, Mozilla worked out rather poorly; I say, use Opera. When pages let me use it, it’s really the best browser around, in my humble non-techie (but just techie enough to know what Mozilla and Opera are) opinion. In any event, it appears tha Blogger will only let me optimize for one broweser, so based on usage, it’s gotta be MSIE, until I figure out how to make the page more robust. I feel a post about network externalities coming on.


62% Microsoft Internet Explorer 6

18% Netscape 5

8% Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.5

5% Microsoft Internet Explorer 5

2% Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.01

0% Opera 7.03

0% iCab 5

0% Netscape 4.77

0% Netscape 4.78

0% Opera 7.1

0% Konqueror 5

0% Netscape 4.76

0% Netscape 4.79

0% Netscape 4.61

0% Opera 7.02

0% Opera 6.04

0% Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.01

0% Netscape 4.7

0% Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.5

0% Netscape 4.73

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