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

As Texas Goes…

…So goes the nation if we aren’t careful.

If you read only one CalPundit post, read this one. If you read only one really long post, also make it that one. Either way, read it. Here’s Kevin’s basic point, and it is well-illustrated throughout:

These are not the words of sane people. This is not “reform,” this is not “common sense,” and this is not “restraining government growth.” This is plain and simple madness and the people behind it have real influence.

AB

UPDATE: Link repaired (technical issues forced all of Kevin’s permalinks to change).

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Rumsfeld

I’m not quite sure exactly what this means, but I think it either implies that Don Rumsfeld is losing some portion of his mind or losing some portion of his authority. And, as far as Iraq is concerned, either one is probably an improvement. Here’s a sample from the story, but the rest is worse:

Appearing at a NATO conference in Colorado Springs on Wednesday afternoon, Mr. Rumsfeld tried to dismiss any talk of his diminished role in Iraq policy, suggesting at one point that reporters should concentrate on “something more important,” like the World Series prospects of his hometown Chicago Cubs.

AB

P.S. Rumsfeld also said this:

“The way I read the memorandum is that it is basically what the responsibility of the N.S.C. is and always has been,” he said. The agency’s role, he added later, “is what it’s always been,” one of coordination.

Yes, unfortunately, memos are sent on the most trivial of topics, but really, when was the last time you got a memo saying “Just checking in. In case you were wondering, everything is the same. Thank you for your attention”?

UPDATE: Link fixed.

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Anybody Catch This?

It must have been hilarious (via Joe Conason):

More fun with wussy Bill

Don’t miss today’s broadcast of “Fresh Air,” the NPR program hosted by Terry Gross. I am reliably informed that her guest, Bill O’Reilly, fled the studios in a fit of anger — and that the show will be played in its entirety, including his undignified exit. What did the tiny, soft-spoken Terry ask that drove big, blustering Bill from her Philadelphia studio? Hearing the Fox blowhard explode again may brighten an otherwise grim day.

For the record, Terry Gross is an extremely polite and generally accomodating interviewer, so the Loud One must have really, really, thin skin. Maybe Al Franken called in.

AB

UPDATE: The audio is here for the rest of today; thereafter, it looks like it will be here.

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California Questions

1. How long will it take Arnold to lose popularity as services are cut in CA? Will we see W. campaigning with Arnold in CA next fall? Or will W. want to keep his distance?

2. Will the White House end its undeclared war on CA now, and actually try to help Arnold with CA’s problems?

3. What do you think that Arnold will actually do now about CA’s budget problems? Will he keep talking in generalities, or will he actually make a policy decision at last?

4. Will a “Recall Arnold” movement make people realize how absurd CA’s recall process is? Will we see an initiative on the 2004 ballot to amend (or eliminate) CA’s recall process?

5. When Issa and friends started the Davis Recall movement less than three months after Davis’ election, did they really think that once they did it, someone else wouldn’t try to recall the Republican governor? How long will it take them to express shock and amazement at a Recall Arnold movement? Will they accuse Democrats of being sore losers, for trying to get rid of a governor who was just elected? Will anyone notice the hypocrisy?

6. Will a “Recall Arnold” movement succeed in gathering the necessary signatures to force a recall election?

7. Who were the 1+ million people who voted “NO” on the recall but then didn’t vote for Bustamante? What was their reasoning? I’m just curious…

Answers to any of these questions are welcome.

Kash

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Arnold Wins!

First, I don’t live in California, so this administration will be fun to watch. Second, G.W. Bush inherited a booming economy and made it much worse, but the economy and budget were in such great shape that even after the effects of Bush’s policies, the economy was only moderately bad by historical standards (but terrible compared to Clinton’s worst year). Sure, deficit projections are now at record-breaking levels, but that’s our children’s money so apparently nobody cares.

Here’s my point: Arnold’s inheriting a bad economy and a large deficit, not a surplus. Even if he does no worse than Davis, services will be cut, taxes will go up, or California’s credit rating will further deteriorate–or some of all three will happen. Certainly, he will seek to blame Davis, but I don’t think that will work. On the other hand, California voters elected this guy, so who knows what they will buy. As Kash cited earlier, the neat thing about democracy is that people get the government they deserve.

Me, I’ll take butter or some butter-like substance with my popcorn.

AB

P.S. CalPundit says that the impending recall Shwarzenegger movement will be bad for California, and bad for Democracy. From a static point of view, I agree. But in terms of emphasizing the absurdity of what just happened, and perhaps preventing it in the future, I’m all for it: let the games begin!

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The Arnold Economy

Currently, GDP growth is modest but decent while the jobs outlook is flat at best. So far, the most apt description of this historically novel situation has been “jobless recovery”, but we may now have an even better moniker: The Arnold Economy. Blogger Barry of The Big Picture found this gem tucked away in IView Research’s Weekly Report for October 6th (thanks for the tip, Barry):

…thanks to an economic recovery that continues to grope along (the “Arnold” economy?!)….

AB

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Colin Powell, the Kay Report, and a Little Logic

NPR’s Morning Edition had an excellent story today about the Kay Report. We all know that the Kay Report found no WMDs in Iraq. But what I found more interesting were the implications regarding the containment of Iraq from 1991-2003. As NPR’s Mike Shuster put it:

Kay reported that the 1991 Gulf War, and the efforts of UN weapons inspectors coupled with economic sanctions had largely kept Saddam Hussein’s appetite for WMDs in check.

No surprise there – it’s a reasonable reading of the Kay Report, though it is one that the Bushies have not emphasized, for obvious reasons. So imagine my surprise when they included a clip from Colin Powell last week saying the following regarding the Kay Report:

“[The Iraqis] were determined to have the capability to develop [WMDs], and it is clear that they never lost that intent. The programs were kept intact. They were just waiting to see if they could break out of sanctions, if they could break away from the constraints of the United Nations, and start all these programs back up again.”

Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t this mean that Powell is saying that the containment of Iraq worked perfectly well to keep WMDs out of Hussein’s hands? Put another way, doesn’t this imply that Powell understands that, as long as the UN kept up its sanctions and other constraints, Iraq could not develop WMDs? The logical implication is that the war was not necessary to keep Hussein from getting WMDs. Too bad Colin Powell refuses to follow his own reasoning to its logical conclusion. Because if he did, he would have to admit that the war did nothing to keep the US safe from WMDs.

Kash

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California Update

Turnout is reportedly quite high, which in a majority Democratic state, is probably good news for Davis:

California voters appeared to be turning out in large numbers today for the state’s extraordinary election to decide whether Gov. Gray Davis (D) should be recalled from office and to choose one of 135 candidates vying to replace him.

AB

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What Would Rush Say? (If he hadn’t been kicked out on his fat ass?)

As you all know, Rush Limbaugh resigned (apparently after being ordered to) from ESPN’s pregame show. Now, sadly, we are left to try in vain to make sense of one of the most amazing Monday Night Football games ever — a game that witnessed the biggest four minute comeback of all time — without Rush’s wit and wisdom. But I’ll do my best to fill in for the sage analyst and pill junkie.

Harumph. What I want to focus on is the liberal white media and their corrupting of the overtime part of the game.

For those who didn’t see the game, here’s what happened in overtime. Tampa Bay won the toss and elected to receive, but they ended up punting, and the Colts started out at their own 13 yard line. They drove to the Tampa Bay 22 yard line and then Colts kicker Mike Vanderjagt missed the field goal, his first miss of the season. This was my first hint of what was really going on in this game. Could Vanderjagt have pulled it? Perhaps, but it was Colt’s coach Tony Dungy’s birthday. A questionable (but apparently technically correct) penalty gave Vanderjagt a second try, from 11 yards closer. Here’s where it gets interesting. By all the laws of football and physics, Vanderjagt’s second kick should have missed:

“Vanderjagt made the second kick — barely, as it went off the right upright and through after being deflected at the line by a Tampa Bay player.”

How the kick managed to go in is a mystery, unless you understand the awesome power of the liberal white media. Here’s something you may not know about this game (pictured left is defeated Tampa Bay coach John Gruden; right is victorious Indianapolis coach Tony Dungy):

 

Yes, it is all so very clear now:

The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback coach do well. There is a little hope invested in McNabb Dungy, and he got a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he didn’t deserve. The defense kicker carried this team.”

Sheesh. If the white liberal media keeps this up, soon black families will be able to enjoy dinner together without freaking out conservative white columnists and their families. Well, maybe not that soon.

AB

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Mankiw Believes in Rubinomics

Employing a startling new tactic that was surely designed to throw opponents off balance, Greg Mankiw took the unprecendented step for a Bush administration economist of sounding like an actual economist yesterday:

“Naturally the budget deficit is a cause for concern,” Gregory Mankiw, chief economic adviser to President George W. Bush, told Germany’s Handelsblatt newspaper. “It could push up interest rates.”

Now Mankiw just needs to hold a Macro 101 class for some other members of the administration, past and present. Earlier this year, Dick Cheney and Mitch Daniels both said that they don’t believe that budget deficits push up interest rates. And Glenn Hubbard thought that this silly idea was just a partisan trick by the Democrats, which he labeled “Rubinomics.”

Who knows, maybe Bush will eventually even let the economists have some say in economic policy making…? Nah.

Kash

UPDATE: Brad DeLong points out that Mankiw needs to mention a couple of other well-known economic insights before he sounds like a real economist: budget deficits take a long time to fix, and so we should be starting now; and budget deficits almost never get fixed without a formal enforcement mechanism like the recently expired Budget Enforcement Act. Points well taken.

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