Thursday, March 27, 2008

A Day of Mourning

Two men, manly men, the type that build bridges and move mountains, passed: Herb Peterson and Al Copeland...or in this case the creator of the McMuffin and founder of Popeyes respectively. Is there another passing where two men, so great, of such significance and a linked significance at that, pass on the same day? The only other instance I can conjure up is of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams.

Note: For any naysayers out there that think the popeyes founder doesn't stand atop the same peak of fast food history as the creator, nay, inventor of the McMuffin, is a dolt. Popeyes chicken is the shit!

The Progressive Consumption Tax

The Democracy Journal is hosting an orgy of ideas. The one I found most interesting was Robert Frank's progressive consumption tax. In general, I think implementing some form of a consumption tax in conjunction with an income tax is a good idea. Such a hybrid system would to some degree mitigate the problem of taxing "goods" as opposed to taxing "bads". By incorporating both systems, though, you can also address concerns about progressivity. Well, Robert Frank doesn't want a stinking hybrid system, he goes big. I don't think relying excessively on either a consumption tax or an income tax is sensible. I tend to think you want to have a variety of different revenue sources so as to provide revenue stability.

What interested me about Frank's proposal was the underlying motivation. Frank seems less concerned with negative aspects of taxing work but rather consumed with deterring status or positional competition. He thinks that Americans suffer from an consumer arms race where we are all spending ourselves into debt just keep up with the joneses. I have heard this view advanced a decent amount in the liberal blogosphere (prominently by Ezra Klein) and I of two minds on the subject. My basic reaction is: so what? I am unsure why the government need intervene wielding its power to tax because some people are spiteful, envious, or have poor self esteem. Instead of taxing those that consume maybe we should tax those who envious of others' consumption. We could embed monitors on every soul and monitor envy emissions and wire this machine up to their bank account and conduct continuous withdraws as appropriate and transfer those moneys to people whose personal fulfillment is not fueled by spite. Though, this seems all a bit invasive. And I don't know if the technology exists (though we could do another Manhattan project). But, as much as I hate to admit it, I do think there is something to Frank's point of view. I can't accept it whole hog. Not gonna do it. BUT, I do think that in fact, sometimes people do consume purely to show that they can consume, and maybe there is some harm in this. And maybe in narrow instances, there is a way to harness certain folks prediliction for cupidity for the public good. In Virginia we have a car tax which is progressive. It could be made steeply progressive so that once you exceed $50 k for a non-business purchase the tax rate doubles.

In concluding this wet bag of shit post, I like Frank's idea, I am not a fan of his motivation.

Diddy Didn't Did It

A little while ago I posted on a LA Times story purporting to link associates of Diddy with Tupac Shakur's murder. Well, turns out that story was false.

Campaign Finance Proposal

I am not keen on the notion of full public finance of elections. Money, while it certainly encourages graft and some harm to the political process, is also the great equalizer against incumbents. But I digress, I happened across this awhile, it is a proposal by James Carville and Paul Begala (two professional hacks, though, arguably very good at what they do). Anywhoo, their proposal is that incumbents should be restricted from fundraising altogether and that those that seek to challenge them can raise funds. In the end, the incumbent would get a check courtesy of the government for 80% of the amount raised by their challenger. I actually think 80% is a bit generous as it probably underestimates the value of name recognition attached to incumbency and it doesn't consider that fundraising returns are well less then %100 (it takes money to raise money). Anyhow, I am sure there are a myriad of legal problems with such a proposal and maybe it is thoroughly nutty but it seems appealing to me.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Huckabee on Obama's Pastor

HUCKABEE: [Obama] made the point, and I think it's a valid one, that you can't hold the candidate responsible for everything that people around him may say or do. You just can't. Whether it's me, whether it's Obama...anybody else. But he did distance himself from the very vitriolic statements.
Now, the second story. It's interesting to me that there are some people on the left who are having to be very uncomfortable with what Louis Wright said, when they all were all over a Jerry Falwell, or anyone on the right who said things that they found very awkward and uncomfortable years ago. Many times those were statements lifted out of the context of a larger sermon. Sermons, after all, are rarely written word for word by pastors like Reverend Wright, who are delivering them extemporaneously, and caught up in the emotion of the moment. There are things that sometimes get said, that if you put them on paper and looked at them in print, you'd say "Well, I didn't mean to say it quite like that." JOE SCARBOROUGH: But, but, you never came close to saying five days after September 11th, that America deserved what it got. Or that the American government invented AIDS...
HUCKABEE: Not defending his statements.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: Oh, I know you're not. I know you're not. I'm just wondering though, for a lot of people...Would you not guess that there are a lot of Independent voters in Arkansas that vote for Democrats sometimes, and vote for Republicans sometimes, that are sitting here wondering how Barack Obama's spiritual mentor would call the United States the USKKK?
HUCKABEE: I mean, those were outrageous statements, and nobody can defend the content of them.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: But what's the impact on voters in Arkansas? Swing voters.
HUCKABEE: I don't think we know. If this were October, I think it would have a dramatic impact. But it's not October. It's March. And I don't believe that by the time we get to October, this is gonna be the defining issue of the campaign, and the reason that people vote.
And one other thing I think we've gotta remember. As easy as it is for those of us who are white, to look back and say "That's a terrible statement!"...I grew up in a very segregated south. And I think that you have to cut some slack -- and I'm gonna be probably the only Conservative in America who's gonna say something like this, but I'm just tellin' you -- we've gotta cut some slack to people who grew up being called names, being told "you have to sit in the balcony when you go to the movie. You have to go to the back door to go into the restaurant. And you can't sit out there with everyone else. There's a separate waiting room in the doctor's office. Here's where you sit on the bus..." And you know what? Sometimes people do have a chip on their shoulder and resentment. And you have to just say, I probably would too. I probably would too. In fact, I may have had more of a chip on my shoulder had it been me.
MIKA: I agree with that. I really do.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: It's the Atticus Finch line about walking a mile in somebody else's shoes. I remember when Ronald Reagan got shot in 1981. There were some black students in my school that started applauding and said they hoped that he died. And you just sat there and of course you were angry at first, and then you walked out and started scratching your head going "boy, there is some deep resentment there."

PeP Links

Anatol Lieven has a column over at the Financial Times (the world's best pink paper) detailing why we should be wary of a McCain presidency.

Spencer Ackerman has an article on Obama's likely foreign policy approach over at the American Prospect.

Julian Sanchez has a pair of interesting columns on wiretapping, one at the Los Angeles Times and one at the American Spectator.

Tyler Cowen has an interesting post on stagnant wages.

Inside Higher Ed has an interesting post on affirmative action at universities.

The Screwiest Campaign Season Ever

A year ago, I was telling anyone who would listen that McCain didn't have a shot in hell. He was a favorite of the media and independents, but not exactly beloved by the base and it is the base that you need in order to get nominated. I assumed Giuliani would run a competent campaign. When Fred Thompson entered the race, I assumed, well, that he would in fact enter the race as opposed to running an armchair campaign. Regardless, I assumed that whoever got nominated, would get trounced by the Democratic nominee, whether it be Obama, HRC, or Hubert Humphrey's corpse (I would have no problem voting for HHH's corpse by the way). I thought this because the Democratic base was amped up and the conservative base was completely deflated. Well, it looks like the internecine squabble between HRC and Obama is in fact taking its toll and is turning this election into a legitimate fight... an election that should have been a surefire win.

Hillary at this point has trotted out the race card, played the is Obama a muslim trick, and has essentially stated that McCain is better qualified to be a president than Obama. Democratic voters of the world, this should tell you something about the Clintons. Their concern is not to be able to strengthen the country at home or abroad, or to strengthen the Democratic party, it is to be in power.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

McCain and the Financial Meltdown

McCain is utterly inept when it comes to domestic policy. By this, I don't mean that his proposals are entirely worthless, he has a group of advisors (some quacks like Kevin Hassett, and some quite good like Douglas Holtz-Eakin) to fill in the gaps. But it is clear that McCain himself has little interest or feel for domestic plicy. I think this comes across in his public persona. There are three personal narratives that McCain has cultivated: The Maverick, The Reformer, and the Veteran. None of these speak directly to kitchen table issues. However, it is this second narrative, as the reformer, as the Teddy Roosevelt follower, that I think will ultimately boost his electoral viability in the wake of the financial meltdown. He has oft seemed disdainful of business, as if it were a crude and lesser calling. This combined with the Clinton and Obama's dominance on fundraising from the finance industry (especially Clinton with Rubin hanging around) may very well give him the appearance as a credible reformer even though he has little or nothing substantive to say about capital markets and the regulation thereof.

Smoke Filled Rooms

Thomas Sowell offers one of the more plausible arguments in favor of convention hijinx like the superdelegates. I still very much disagree, but at least he is candid about the purpose of the superdelegates.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

History Lesson: What Constitutes "Victory" in War

Can America "win" in Iraq? As Frank Rich points out in today's NYT, those who argue that we are on our way to "victory" in Iraq, such as John McCain, never quite tell us what victory will look like. And today, according to the NYT, "At Least 51 Die in Attacks Across Iraq," including attacks on America's Green Zone. In light of such events, it is difficult to believe that victory, under any meaningful description, is at hand or lies ahead.

Let me offer a clear criterion of victory: the end of violent struggles between foreign troops and Iraqis. And let me offer these words from Sallust - who was a Roman senator and military officer under Caesar - in support of this sensible definition of victory:
It is always easy to begin fighting, but the man who starts may find it exceedingly hard to stop; for while anyone - even a coward - can open hostilities, only the victor can decide when they shall cease. (Sallust, The Jugurthine War, VIII, 83)
On this view, America is fighting a war in Iraq that cannot be won. The sooner our nation faces up to the impossibility of "victory," the sooner we can put an end to our losses, both human and financial.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Interesting Speech from Bernanke

It's on the housing market.

The Social Security Trust Fund

Dean Baker, of the American Prospect and co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, is outraged by a column by Allen Sloan. In the column, Sloan makes the sensible observation that there is no real trust fund and as a result Social Security will become problematic in 2017 not 2041. Baker contests this, he says, wait, the trust fund has treasury bonds, those are perfectly good instruments. Sloan, in his column, and Baker in his post, identify that in order for the bonds to be redeemed, the government (read taxpayer) has to shell out cash. Baker's outrage would be justified if all these years we had actually set aside funds or paid down debt commensurate with the social security surplus which is used to purchase the treasury bonds set aside in the trust fund. But we haven't (save a couple of years at the end of the Clinton administration where there was no war, an asset bubble, a congress that was elected on the basis of getting rid of government, and a president that himself was a fiscal hawk; in short, a situation not likely to repeat itself anytime soon). The result is that we have taxed people so as to prefund a portion of social security (the trust fund) but will need to tax folks again to provide the same benefits they have already paid for. As to Baker's broader point, he is technically correct that Social Security's finances are in good shape, if you look at Social Security in isolation. But if you look at Social Security in the context of Government as a whole, the situation looks piss poor.

Brilliant Political Commentary

DMX on Barack Obama:

"Are you following the presidential race?
Not at all.

You’re not? You know there’s a Black guy running, Barack Obama and then there’s Hillary Clinton.
His name is Barack?!

Barack Obama, yeah.
Barack?!
Barack.

What the fuck is a Barack?! Barack Obama. Where he from, Africa?

Yeah, his dad is from Kenya.
Barack Obama?

Yeah.
What the fuck?! That ain’t no fuckin’ name, yo. That ain’t that nigga’s name. You can’t be serious. Barack Obama. Get the fuck outta here.

You’re telling me you haven’t heard about him before.
I ain’t really paying much attention.

I mean, it’s pretty big if a Black…
Wow, Barack! The nigga’s name is Barack. Barack? Nigga named Barack Obama. What the fuck, man?! Is he serious? That ain’t his fuckin’ name. Ima tell this nigga when I see him, “Stop that bullshit. Stop that bullshit” [laughs] “That ain’t your fuckin’ name.” Your momma ain’t name you no damn Barack.

So you’re not following the race. You can’t vote right?
Nope."

Foreclosures

Anti has accused the Bush administration of doing nothing to help those facing foreclosures. I guess the question left unasked is whether the administration should be doing anything to prevent foreclosures, leaving aside the macroeconomic questions (also, the administration has been strongarming industry to renegotiate loan terms as part of the hope alliance, which i think is an awful idea, Barack Obama to his credit hasn't said a peep about preventing foreclosures). All of the discussion of preventing foreclosures boils down to one basic element: keeping people in homes they can't afford. Is this a desirable policy goal? I don't think so. It certainly does present a considerable moral hazard.

Over the last four years there have been those of us that have sat out the housing market because we have seen what looked like, and was in fact a bubble, but also, simply couldn't afford to buy. What's the responsible thing to do when you can't buy a place, well, not to buy the place. The responsible thing is not to get a no-document loan, or an interest only loan on the hopes on that appreciation will build equity for you. For a good many of the folks whose houses have gone into foreclosure they entered into mortgages with low teaser rates where they were paying interest only for a year and once the reset set in discovered that their house had depreciated and that they couldn't afford the new rate. Who is somebody that doesn't have any equity in a house, a renter. Why not just accept this reality rather than maintaining the fiction that these folks are actual homeowners.

If the administration were to put a moratorium on foreclosures it would essentially be taking money from fairminded folks who decided to live within their means for deciding not to enter into a mortgage that they couldn't afford and giving it to the profligate and stupid. At least with Bear Stearns what we are seeing is basically an orderly liquidation of the firm. JP Morgan is taking their good assets, though, along with the attendant litigation risk (they have purportedly set aside $6 billion for lawsuits) and the fed has become the speculator of last resort.

I think there is one other aspect though that needs to be fleshed out here. I think people are under the impression that foreclosures are good for the banks. They are awful, they truly are the last resort for the bank. The banks have every incentive to renegotiate the loan terms with the "homeowner". Mortgages are non-recourse loans. So if I default on my payments and can't negotiate new terms with my bank my home goes into foreclosure. Let's say the value of my loan was $500,000 but the bank can only get $350,000. As a mortgage is a non-recourse loan they can't pursue me for the $150,000 difference. They are stuck with the loss. So a foreclosure is a pretty shitty deal all around. I think the reason that you aren't seeing renegotiations en masse is that so many of these mortgages were so insanely stupid. The rule of thumb with a mortgage is that you want have a 1:4 ratio income to mortgage with 1:6 as the outerbound. You are seeing on a lot of the foreclosures, especially in Florida and California, trends where the ratio was closer to 1:9 or 1:10.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Bear Stearns

No matter how many times I see this clip it's still funny every time. Here is a clip of Jim Cramer on an episode of CNBC's Mad Money which aired Tuesday, March 11th.



Here is what I found interesting/very sad, for those of you not paying attention the Fed rushed to bail out Bear Stearns by helping to broker a deal between Bear Stearns and JP Morgan, as part of the deal, the Fed put up $30 billion to guarantee Bear Stearns riskiest investments. While at the same time the Fed and the Bush administration have done next to nothing to help out those facing foreclosures on their homes.

On Monday, reporters questioned White House Press Secretary Dana Perino about the bailout.
Reporter: “But people who are facing, say, foreclosures, individuals, the little guys who are facing their foreclosure, are looking at the big guys getting government, if not brokered, certainly they’re overseeing deals that are engineered to sort of keep the big picture financial community afloat, and they’re saying, well, where’s my boost of liquidity?”

Dana Perino: “They’re going to get that boost of liquidity in the form of a stimulus package and a tax rebate that’s coming to them the second week of May.”

Reporter: “But that’s not going to save their houses.”

RE: Obam Race Speech

I just got done listening to Obama's speech and I have to agree with Xtra's critique.

What I thought was the most profound aspect of his speech was that it wasn’t political, it wasn't a stump speech, it wasn't a speech pandering for votes, but instead a speech that was intrinsically aspirational in its nature. He basically laid out what could be described as his national vision statement in a direct, personal, honest and straightforward manner.

It was a brilliant and inspirational speech.

Here's a link if you want to look at the transcripts or view the video.

Obama Race Speech

I have only caught snippets of the Obama race speech, but what I have seen is superlative.

Rate Cut

The Fed is cutting rates 75 basis points with more possibly to follow on Thursday.

Diddy Did It

The LA Times has an interesting article attributing Tupac Shakur's murder and a prior shooting to associates of Sean "Puffy" Combs, aka, Puff Daddy, P.Diddy, Diddy. The article doesn't speak to any involvement on the part of Diddy, and Diddy denies any such involvement, I just liked the alliteration in the headline.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Get Your Freak On

I know that Spitzer's resignation was in the bin if for no other reason than the rank hypocrisy. Why should he be exempt from the laws that he prosecuted others for breaking? But I wonder why some politician doesn't come along and just say "I bought sex, I like sex. I am a freak, what can I say? It's out there, if you don't like having a freak in the office, vote me out." Just a thought. It would help if you combined the statement with proposed legislation to decriminalize or even legalize prostitution. It could be called the "Let Your Freak Flag Fly Act".
Matt Yglesias hits the nail on the head on one of the most appalling aspects of our current approach regarding prostitution:
"The main impact of the current policy is, it seems to me, to make it easy for cops to rape prostitutes but hard for prostitutes to get out of bad situations."

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Concept of Obama

I think this is where the race argument rings true (though I think it is in supplement to his core appeal as opposed to constituting his core electoral appeal). The concept of Obama is a post racial America. I think that boosts Obama with independents and moderate republicans.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Black is the New Black

Geraldine Ferraro has asserted that Barack Obama would not be where he is now if he weren't black. I disagree. Democrats have preferred youthful vitality in their candidates over experience. Whereas republicans are obsessed with finding the next Ronald Reagan, Democrats are obsessed with finding the next JFK.

It is telling that in this primary contest the three favorites (Clinton, Edwards, and Obama) had remarkably thin records. The bulk of Hillary's experience claim stems from being a first lady. The last go around wasn't much different. Edwards and Kerry emerged as the favorites . Kerry had more experience than any of the three contenders this time around but that amounted to two terms as Senator and not much more. Edwards, in 2004 was completing his first term as a Senator and had no prior experience as a public servant. Edwards performance in 2004 essentially disposes of Ferraro's claim. He is the white Barack Obama. Where they are distinct is that Barack Obama is more intelligent(vastly) and does not come across like a snake oil salesman. Democrats are constantly looking to fast track their young talent, well, Obama is the young talent.

The I-Pod

Hal Varian has a great article over at the NY Times on the construction of an i-pod and how it illustrates the difficulty in discussing trade statistics.

Is Patriotism Good for Anyone Other Than Flag Manufacturers?

So asks the Cato Institute in its newest Cato-Unbound (a quasi blog/online magazine). George Kateb, author of Patriotism and Other Mistakes, will be writing the lead essay. American Enterprise Institute’s Walter Berns, author of Making Patriots; William Galston of the Brookings Institution and the University of Maryland, author of The Practice of Liberal Pluralism; and Chandran Kukathas of the London School of Economics, author of The Liberal Archipelago: A Theory of Diversity and Freedom will be writing the responses. This should be an interesting panel. Galston is always fascinating.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

RE: Hillary and Rwanda

The article that Xtra posted concerning Hillary Clinton and Rwanda as a whole is an astonishing article which definitely deserves a thorough read, here is part that I feel deserves extra attention:

So, to sum up: the US didn't just fail to intervene in Rwanda. Our government urged the withdrawal of the UN peacekeeping forces that were on the ground protecting Rwandans, for no better reason than to keep the Belgians from looking like cowards. It refused to jam the radio station that was passing on instructions for genocide. It blocked further efforts to reinforce the peacekeeping forces there. It also failed to do any of the much smaller things that might have shown that our government was not wholly indifferent to the people of Rwanda who were, at that time, being hacked to death with machetes.

It's worth bearing this background in mind when you hear Hillary Clinton claim that she advocated military intervention in Rwanda. If you don't, you might think: well, it's perfectly comprehensible that she might have argued for military intervention but failed to convince her husband. After all, military intervention in another country is a big deal, not to be undertaken lightly. And it's easy to imagine Hillary Clinton being in favor of it, and her husband reluctantly concluding that it just wasn't something he could do.

It's a lot harder to imagine that while Hillary Clinton was advocating military intervention, she not only failed to convince her husband to send troops, but also failed to convince him, for instance, not to advocate the withdrawal of most of the UN peacekeepers, or that he really ought to order the Pentagon to jam Radio Milles Collines. If she was doing her best behind the scenes, and failed to accomplish even this -- if, despite her best efforts, she couldn't persuade her husband not to advocate withdrawing UN peacekeepers just to provide cover for the Belgians -- then we really need to ask how effective an advocate she really is, especially since no one except her husband, in full campaign mode, seems to remember her efforts at all.

Of course, I think it's a lot more likely that she either didn't advocate action on Rwanda at all, or did so only in passing. If so, this would have to be the definitive example of her attempt to claim responsibility for everything good that happened during her husband's presidency, while disavowing all responsibility for his mistakes. This was, in my opinion, the most shameful moment of the Clinton administration. It ought, by rights, to have a place in Hillary Clinton's "thirty five years of experience working for change." Or perhaps she might claim that she wasn't that interested in foreign policy at the time, or that for whatever reason she just didn't pick up on the genocide in Rwanda until it was too late to act. That would at least be honest.

But if, in fact, Clinton missed the chance to urge her husband to help stop the Rwandan genocide, then she should not pretend that she was, in fact, right there on the side of the angels all along. That's just grotesque.

BMW Possibly Bringing Electric Car to US


And not just any electric car, one modeled on the Isetta, the pimptastic trike Urkel drove in family matters. I would be proud to call the isetta my "whip".

Hillary and Rwanda

Hillary has had an obnoxious habit for claiming credit for all that went well in the Clinton administration while disclaiming any responsibility for its failures. Now, Bill and Hillary are claiming if Hill had been President the Rwandan genocides would never have occured. Anyhow, hilzoy over at Obsidian Wings has a good takedown of Hillary's claim. It is also a rather tragic and sad recounting of the U.S.'s and Europe's response to this tragedy.

Merit Pay

Well, a different type of merit pay.

hat tip: marginal revolution

Monday, March 10, 2008

And Then There Were Two…Ciresi Is Out

Mike Ciresi announced that he is dropping out of the 2008 Senate race for the DFL endorsement this afternoon.

That means that as far as the DFL race is concerned it is down to Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer and Al Franken.

Spitzer Implicated in Prostitution Ring

So says the NY times, now the presumption here is that he was a customer. Governor Spitzer finds himself in the company of many politicians, like Sen. David Vitter. Here's a question: how come the john gets off whereas the prostitute gets prosecuted? Why does either party get prosecuted? I don't like prostitution but it does seem to be an exchange between consenting adults.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Common Sense

George McGovern:

"The nature of freedom of choice is that some people will misuse their responsibility and hurt themselves in the process. We should do our best to educate them, but without diminishing choice for everyone else."

Bush Vetoes Torture Ban

He didn't veto any spending bills. He didn't veto McCain-Feingold. He didn't veto the farm bill. No, instead he uncapped his veto pen to veto a bill banning waterboarding, a torture technique.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Furman on Health Care

Jason Furman has an excellent paper on health care reform. His basic proposal is to eliminate the health care tax exemption (i.e. treat Employer Sponsored Health Care as taxable income) and provide progressive refundable tax credits (the tax credit decreases as you move up the income ladder). He approaches the paper from the perspective of the incentives our tax treatment of health care creates. So while he does a decent job of getting into some of the weeds too, such as automatic or default enrollment v. mandate or talking about to create risk pools for non-group purchasers, federal re-insurance, etc., the paper is really looking at the bigger picture of how this would impact health care spending.

I think the approach Furman outlines is essentially correct. Before we look at coordination, delivery and performance, we need to address the incentive structure. At present, the tax code provides a substantial incentive for upper income folks to spend but doesn't do much at all for lower income folks. This needs to be turned on its head.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

More Farm Bill

I couldn’t agree more with Xtra concerning the Farm Bill, it desperately needs to be reformed from its current state in which the primary beneficiaries are corporate agribusinesses and the politicians they support.

And the funny part is that both right-leaning groups like the Heritage Foundation and left-leaning groups like the Center for American Progress concur on the need for the common-sense reforms that have been snubbed decade after decade.

For more info about the Farm Bill check out the lobbying work that Oxfam America has been doing in an effort to bring about reforms.

Another Hatchback to Enter the Market


Hatchbacks are ubiquitous in Europe but here they are seldom found. I suppose their likeness to station wagons (which they essentially are but on a smaller scale) kills their appeal. Anyhow, I like hatchbacks and when I was car shopping the dearth of hatchbacks made my task all the simpler. In the last two years the hatchback market has grown significantly and Mitsubishi is adding to the pool. Anyhow, geeks like me are sure to rejoice.

The Farm Bill

Dave Zeitland of Sex Drugs & Water Utilities has an insightful post on farm subsidies:

"In this op/ed, a Minnesota farmer complains that he cannot increase production of garden crops by growing them on former-program crop land because these acres will lose their corn subsidy forever if non-program crops are grown on the land for a year.

Why? Because national fruit and vegetable growers based in California, Florida and Texas fear competition from regional producers like myself. Through their control of Congressional delegations from those states, they have been able to virtually monopolize the country’s fresh produce markets.

...In other words, it seems that non-program crop states have been willing to support continued subsidies for program crop states because they are facing less competition in return. Less competition, higher prices and more money. Voila!"

US farm policy: harvesting poverty abroad, obesity at home, and making us all poorer in the process.

hat tip: Marginal Revolution

Hillary Clinton and Possible Illegal Fundraising

As Hillary Clinton attempts again and again to make a connection between Barack Obama and Tony Rezko (Rezko is pictured above with the Clintons), I stumbled upon this video on YouTube (pt. 1 & pt. 2) concerning Hillary Clinton’s involvement with business man Peter Paul and a fundraising gala he held for her in 2000 in which he personally contributed $2 million to the event.

The video and Peter Paul’s civil case against Bill and Hillary Clinton which is currently in front of a California appeals court alleges that Hillary Clinton’s direct involvement in planning this gala would make Paul's substantial contributions a direct donation to her Senate campaign rather than her joint fundraising committee, violating federal statutes that limit "hard money" contributions to a candidate to $2,000 per person. Knowingly accepting or soliciting $25,000 or more in a calendar year is a felony carrying a prison sentence of up to five years.

I don’t have a whole lot of background knowledge about this guy or the Clinton’s involvement with him, but I do find the relationship rather interesting considering how she is currently trying to portray Obama and Rezko.

From: Democratic Party

To: Democratic Votes

Sorry, your votes are worthless. But it was a pleasant exercise anyhow.

George W. and Hillary...What's The Difference?

This morning while I was eating my bowl of Kashi Strawberry Fields cereal (an excellent cereal I might add) I was watching Good Morning America and Hillary Clinton was being interviewed about her three wins the previous evening.

After all of the questions about how she celebrated last night and what not was out of the way the commentator asked what was in my eyes an excellent question.

The commentator noted that even with the wins last night Hillary was only able to decrease Obama’s delegate lead by six delegates (prior to last night he had a 112 delegate lead and after last night he had a 106 delegate lead), the commentator went on to ask that if she wasn’t able to close in on his lead if she still deserved to receive the nomination?

She of course avoided the question, but this question got me thinking. In 2000 Democrats were up in arms about the fact that George W. Bush was chosen to be president against the will of the people and was thus an “illegitimate” president.

If Hillary Clinton receives this year’s Democratic nomination without receiving a majority of the popularly elected delegates what is the difference between Bush’s “illegitimate” presidency and Clinton’s “illegitimate” nomination?

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Hillary’s Fear Mongering Rips Off 1984 Mondale Ad

Hillary Clinton’s latest TV ad (it’s 3 a.m. and you are all going to die if I’m not president) has been discussed in the news a lot lately. In my opinion this ad is just blatant fear mongering that even Rudy Giuliani could be proud of.

But all fear mongering aside the funniest part is that she ripped off the ad from Walter Mondale’s 1984 advertisement from when he was running for the Democratic nomination against Gary Hart.

Here is the original Mondale ad: