Thursday, February 28, 2008

Congradulations Bloomberg!

I want to congradulate Mayor Bloomberg on his decision not to run - and start thinking about who is funding Nader.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Industrial Policy

The newest firestorm in the blogosphere is over Obama's corporate tax reform plans. I've seen too many blog posts to link to them all. Will they really help us? Are they just vaporware, or does he have real plans? Where can we find the details?

It seems they should be important, because some people are worked up.

According to Paul Craig Roberts on Counterpunch (click through to read the whole thing):

As reported by the Financial Times, Obama proposed a lower tax rate for US companies that maintain or increase their US workforce relative to their overseas workforce.

Economists, who have crawled out on a limb in defense of jobs offshoring, quickly denounced Obama's plan. As the US economy continues to lose relative ground, economists hold more tightly to their misconception that a country benefits by moving high value-added, high income jobs abroad and replacing them at home with low value- added, low income jobs. This view, which places the rights of capital far above the rights of labor and the duties of citizenship, is economically nonsensical as well. Whatever the defects of Obama's plan, it shows more serious thought than can be found among Washington policymakers and the economics profession.

I haven't been able to get at the article in the Financial Times, so I looked for links to Obama's speeches that were closer to home:

I don’t know about a time-out, but I do know this – when I am President, I will not sign another trade agreement unless it has protections for our environment and protections for American workers. And I’ll pass the Patriot Employer Act that I’ve been fighting for ever since I ran for the Senate – we will end the tax breaks for companies who ship our jobs overseas, and we will give those breaks to companies who create good jobs with decent wages right here in America.

Here at last we have something specific, a reference to s specific bill with the details worked out. Here are some details from the Patriot Employer Act, not a link to the original bill but a summary on Obama's Senate web site:

The Patriot Employers legislation would provide a tax credit equal to 1% of taxable income to employers that:

After all that? One !@#$%^& percent, not of revenue but of taxable income? What about all the companies that pay no taxes at all - how will this affect them? Speaking of which, what about companies not incorporated in the United States? If this were a value added tax it would hit companies regardless of where they were incorporated - but I don't see that on his website. Has he told the Financial Times something not on his own website? He's still talking about the Act I just quoted in his recent speeches.

I'm not saying this isn't a small step in the right direction - though I'm not sure it is. We need to think hard about industrial policy though, and before we can ask if Obama's policy will bring us towards our goals, we should ask what our goals are.

We need an example – a nation which has successfully used industrial policy to promote growth. That nation is China. For all their faults their growth rate has been phenomenal over the past few years, greater than that of any industrialized country. We must certainly consider the costs as well as the benefits of the policies we look at – but look we must.

According to the libertarian ‘fundamentalist’ interpretation of Adam Smith, industrial policy can never benefit industry. The original Adam Smith speaks out for government funded public education, favoring those industries which require a large number of educated workers. Other than that, his disciples haven’t distorted his work too much – he’s pretty laissez fair.

So, look at the Chinese industrial policy, forcing auto makers to build plants in China in order to be allowed to sell cars there. Perhaps this has been of no long term benefit to China. Perhaps all Chinese efforts to foster electronics and computer industries are doomed to leave Chinese manufacturers worse off than a laissez fair policy would have left them. So maybe we have nothing to worry about.

Those of us who don’t find that completely convincing may need new ideas. In modern American corporate life, it is not uncommon for people to change jobs. Sometimes something may make a balance sheet look good for ten or twenty years forward but not benefit a corporation or the nation that gave birth to it in the long term. With all it’s corruption and inefficiencies, the Chinese government seems to have found ways to manipulate our institutions. Perhaps with national unity of purpose even government can be effective.

I’m not suggesting that there is a secret Chinese Adam Smith who has written a book about how to take advantage of a capitalist society where ‘campaign contributions’ are legal, although certain kinds of overt corruption are much rarer than they are in China. Adam Smith didn’t so much invent entirely new ideas as codify, relate, and organize disparate ones, discussing for the most part what was already done by business owners and suggesting it worked for the common good. Similarly, through trial and error the Chinese have come upon tools which may be the seeds of something much larger.

Suppose we decided that Chinese divergence from free market principles will not be its own punishment. Our industrial policy would probably come in two parts – interim and long term.

Although the doctrinaire conservatives of today might not wish to acknowledge it, a good start for our interim policy might be Ronald Reagan. Don’t look so surprised. When Japanese auto imports were threatening Detroit, he didn’t push protectionist legislation, which would have been anti free market. No he got the Japanese auto companies to agree to voluntary quotas. I don’t know if he threatened them with protectionist legislation behind closed doors, but they certainly knew legislation had advocates in congress. The Chinese will understand the logic, and the name of Reagan may help attract American support. It won’t be easy though. The Japanese already had a great deal of market share to lose why Reagan made them an offer they couldn’t refuse – and if we wait until the Chinese have that much before saying anything, the dollar might collapse. The Chinese own huge quantities of dollar denominated assets, so they wouldn’t want that to happen – unless they concluded it would advance their long term strategic interests. Hmmm.

Lets think about our long term interests. The Chinese have found many clever ways to encourage American companies to manufacture things in China, where the skills and knowledge of workers, engineers, and managers are eventually available to Chinese companies. Of course they have low labor costs to tip the scales in their favor – but it seems long term policy is a part of it.

Asked whether Chrysler was worried that the alliance might help Chery develop into a competitor that might threaten its U.S. partner, LaSorda told The Associated Press, "No, we're not. With us or without us, they're going to grow. So the question is, 'Are you going to go with a winner?'"


Ford is not saying how many workers it expects to take the buyouts by a March 18 deadline. But Wall Street analysts say the company has set a goal to get 8,000 employees to sign up.
General Motors is also extending buyout offers to all of its 74,000 hourly employees, while Chrysler is offering buyouts to workers on a regional and individual plant basis.
The belt-tightening comes after years of declining market share and increased competition from foreign automakers, led by Toyota.

It may well be that American auto companies are indeed doing the rational thing in terms of maximizing shareholder return - cutting jobs in the USA, accepting gradual losses of market share now in exchange for short term earnings which don't have to be discounted by risk or forgone interest. Is this really the best thing for the country? If not, the problem isn't really the free market. After all, it's the Chinese acquiring our technological skills rather than the reverse. Yet the strategy of building huge monster trucks which don't fit in a garage doesn't seem a long term winner for a variety of reasons - one being that China may do it too.

Cost cutting is needed, but there's no reason why American cars can't be world leaders for modern technology and low maintenance and quality, much as Toyota is today. I wonder how we could structure free market incentives so that making this a long term project would be cost effective.

Savings will be needed - and the first place to start is upper and middle management. The USA automakers seems to have more people in management than many other companies.

Ford is planning on giving retirement incentives to older workers and rehiring new ones for less. The union is part of the plan, so it doesn't seem all bad for workers. Maybe work rules could be changed too - right now it's hard to shut down plants that are temporarily unprofitable. Maybe workers could even be encouraged to get temporary jobs elsewhere during temporary shutdowns, with a small subsidy instead of full salary from their regular employer.

Friday, February 22, 2008


I have to admit you have a heck of a lot more fans than I do - but so does Hillary Clinton!.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

A protest less blogged than Berkley

The Political Cat links to a blog about a protest less warblogged than the Berkley one. Perhaps this is because the atypical Berkley protest does show hostility to the military, while the Michigan protest blogged at is full of 'support our troops - bring them home' signs.

You can find a bunch of great protest photos at

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Gun Free zones

Credit where credit is due. I still don't think the right to bear arms refers to machine guns anymore than it refers to tanks or nukes, but it seems the latest shooting was in a 'gun free' zone. Small gun free zones seem to be a bad idea when you can buy a gun right outside them. Of course conservative politicians have gun free rallies - but they have people to enforce the rule, you're hardly going to have security search every student entering a school.

Do Gun-free zones encourage school shootings?, via Instapundit.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Will I be LGF moonbat of the day?

Little Green Footballs quotes President Bush (and nobody else) on what he calls the Protect America act.

Awhile ago, before any law was passed, the executive branch asked a bunch of telecommunications companies to help them eavesdrop - without a search warrant. Of course they didn't do this for no reason - the administration believed national security was involved.

One of the problems with this bill is it offers complete retroactive immunity to these companies. Don't misunderstand the following - although there are powers I wouldn't entrust to any president, I'm just using Hillary as an example here because the Democrats seem to understand the danger here, while not all the Hillary haters do.

Suppose Hillary were to surprise everyone and win the nomination at the last moment and become president. Suppose her reelection campaign isn't going well, and Republicans are saying her actions have increased rather than decreased terrorism. Suppose she felt some of those Republicans were endangering the USA by creating panic, undermining American morale, endangering our nation by reducing respect for our security apparatus, whatever.

The circumstances don't quite justify a warrant on paper, but she asks certain telecommunications companies to help her out. What precedents would you like to have in place?

Friday, February 15, 2008

Alas, they are shortsighted - or looking at the wrong world

We wouldn't want the government - or even some quasi private body - telling people in the media what they could say, would we? The only alternative is for private individuals to comment as forcefully and firmly on the media as possible.

Surely Al Shartpon (despite his many faults, none of which I see on display right here) has the right to express his opinion as to whom others should patronize and who they shouldn't. Of course those others have the right to do as they choose. Hillary has the right to say what she thinks of any commentator - and while there are risks to her announcing someone has their head stuck where the sun doesn't shine, they are hers to take, and certainly no indication she would use government power to enforce them.

I'm not sure if Our World as we see it is myopic or merely from another planet, but Debonair Dude seem a tad overwrought.

"Now what’s going to happen if this Power Hungry dirt bag gets to be President? The TV reporter David Schuster would get FIRED in a New York minute. What exactly did Hillary want after David Schuster apologized? His head?"

Does Hillary have free speech, or does she have to pretend to accept an apology she considers insincere? More imortantly, what about poor Imus? Whenever he's tired of a job, he makes outrageous comments until his employers have to fire him, which makes him more controversial so he gets a better paying job next time. Being defended by self righteous conservatives makes his task much harder. Are you going to force him to desecrate holy symbols in public before his employers are allowed to fire him without having to fear accusations they don't support free speech?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

What do they do to lobbyists who flip flop?

Via Shakesville

The Right Wing Watch has discovered a case of advocacy group flip flop. Fidelis has gone from hating McCain to loving him.

"What a miraculous turn of events! Do you suppose the presence of Joseph Cella - a former Fidelis president, Fred Thompson-backer, and anti-Rudy activist – on McCain’s newly announced Virginia Family Issues Leaders committee had anything to do with that?"

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Hillary Campaign Going Down

You'll be glad to hear they're getting back up though - hopefully to support Obama in the general election - and Hillary for a leadership role in the senate.

Seeing as this seems very symbolic - the baby wasn't hurt either, just a little shaken.

But I did have to agree when he said, “You have done this our entire marriage! We’ll be walkin’ along one minute, there will be a commotion, I’ll look down and you’ll be on the ground.”.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Common sense the long way round

At Protein Wisdom they sometimes admit the obvious the long way round.

Today Dan Collins tells us:

"What Stanley cannot do, try as he might, is to demonstrate that Hillary! is treated more unfairly than other high-profile politicians, such as the one presently in the White House. If Hillary!-hatred is driven by misogyny, then to what do we attribute BDS? Of course, his point is rhetorical rather than intellectual, so perhaps that’s expecting rather too much."

So I take it all that stuff about how "Bush Derangement Syndrome" involves treating W much harsher than anyone would ever treat a liberal has gone by the wayside.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

b.a.d enlightenment

Upside down cake is misnamed - at least in the northern hemisphere. All those globes and solar system models which show the northern hemisphere on top are wrong. You may think I mean that both sides are equally top or bottom, but no. The proof is that Australians good naturedly refer to themselves as living 'down under', and they would be more sensitive about this assumption if they didn't know the truth.

What we call an 'upside down cake' is in fact right side up, with a plate on top of it, a table on top of that, and the planet Earth balanced atop the stack.

This may seem a rather odd way of looking at things, but the aftermath of blogroll amnesty day has started me thinking strange thoughts. None of the very biggest liberal blogs linked to it - but Instapundit did. This started me googling - did Glenn Reynolds ever purge conservatives from his blogroll? I rediscovered something I might have noticed last year. Glenn links to Skippy. He does have liberals on his blogroll - and I can't find any references to his dropping old friends either.

I'm adding Instapundit back to my blogroll. I remember being annoyed the way he referred to Drudge as a legitimate news source - and constantly complained about the New York Times. Well, OK, I guess none of my favorite liberal blogs are perfect either - and I do read him.

I was pleased to discover I bookmarked this post from A Layman's Point of View - it lodged in my mind, but I never posted about it. I'm not convinced, but it provides a starting point to get inside the heads of those we wish to persuade:

Me: (reaching the truck with the next box, I put it in the truck and looked at him, breathing hard) You're a Democrat, right? "Progressive," liberal, support Bill Clinton, hated Reagan, right?

Student: Yes, that's right, how did you know?

Me: A Republican would have offered to carry a box!

The student left without asking any questions.

Lesson 2: Liberals don't practice what they preach, like REALLY helping others. They'll watch you carry the box, even tell you HOW to do it, but won't really lift a finger to help.

I've often wished that conservatives would stop a second to think. If they can't trust W. to nominate conservative justices, is it even possible he made so managerial mistakes presiding over the administration of the rebuilding of Iraq? Does anyone miss Rummy's brilliance - and if not, did they all get carried away defending him? If they think Bush is soft on illegal aliens because he wants to keep salaries low for big businesses - is it even possible this compassion for big businesses has influenced his tax policies?

So I will be the change I would like to see in the world. Let me stop and think a second.

Can it be that we are really less compassionate than conservatives? I've seen conflicting studies - do you count donations to a church if most of the money is spent on services attended by the donators, and the facilities and programs used by them? How about if some churches do a lot to help the poor?

At times like this I'm reminded that if we're not less caring, we are not necessarily much more so. When we look back at ancient Rome or the British empire, we don't see good guys and bad guys. From our present perspective all the politicians and parties had much more in common than they knew.

Does it matter? I think perhaps it does. Words transmit more than logical arguments. Emotions and who you are come in as well. The pacifism of Ghandi and MLK came through with their character - men who went to jail and risked much worse standing up for what they believed in. A rich kid who could count on someone else doing his fighting is something else. It is too easy being anti-war merely because we personally don't like fighting - when we enjoy comfortable lives because we are protected by policemen.

Does this make the war in Iraq a prudent idea, well executed? Of course not. But think of all the rage we hear on the left at times, spit at people who might possibly do horrible things when placed in imposible positions, but who do many heroic things as well.

At the very least, we must do what we would have our countrymen do. Let us understand why they hate us - yes, why so many on the right hate us so fervently, even many of those who are decent people otherwise. There is a parallel here, if we have eyes to see it. There were many who believed a few years ago that once we showed the sleeping giant had been woken, that we had the will as well as the ability to use our enormous military power, the world would treat us with much more respect. And there are many who believe if we are angry enough and loud enough, the things we consider obviously true will abruptly be clear to our opponents as well. Let's remove the beam from our own eye before we try to remove the lumberyard (yes lumberyard, I'm a liberal, I still think they're crazier than we are) from anyone elses.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Monkeyfister's blogswarm successful!

I was away from my computer a few days, but better late than never. Meanwhile, Monkeyfister's blogswarm exceeded his fondest hopes.

I'm linking to the original post in the title - his success report is here!


In the aftermath of stunningly deadly and destructive tornadoes, this hard-hit community now has other worries -- looters, power shortages and a large number of residents still unaccounted for.

"They're going to have the looters and then the metal scrappers giving them hell," said Jason Newsse, who came from Myrtle Beach, S.C., to help authorities with search and recovery efforts that included cadaver-detecting dogs.

Liberal media traitors in Afghanistan, when everything is going so well.

Jeff G. doesn't actually endorse this e-mail he reprints, though his comment seems to accept the premises as a basis for his own commentary. So I can't quite accuse him of three logical fallacies in one paragraph, although his ending slur on America saddens me. Clieck through - the paragraph I quote has several links that will explain everything imbedded.

Ray Robison emails:

The media has decided that the Taliban is winning and they are running with the “resurgent Taliban” lie no matter how much NATO says the Taliban is not “resurgent”. They are burying US success to help the democrat nominee.

Are they? Or is such spin actually more helpful to the candidate seen as most likely to prosecute the war vigourously, John McCain.

(crossposted from comment discussion)

Something said by one American general is not a pronouncement by NATO as a whole - especially when he acknowledges the other people we have encouraged to send troops are not sharing his experience.

A post on the blog American Thinker is not some sort of absolute truth (insert Jeffian pronouncement on truth here) but an opinion.

Even if the above were not true, we should surely inquire if the media were aware that an American general had made this statement, if they were aware it was inarguable truth, and parallel questions for the American Thinker post before bashing them.

after awhile he gets to:

In the end, should such a movement succeed in taking power, attempts to pull out of Iraq will put both a strain (immediate) and a stain (long term) on an Obama presidency. And there won’t be much that the history books will be able to do to insulate him — aside from celebrating the fact that he was the first Black president.

Form over content.

This is our America.

Monday, February 04, 2008

The Mahatma X Files: Blogroll Amnesty Day Anniversary

The Hard Part of Blogroll Amnesty Day

Afghanistan and Pakistani food shortages

We're hearing more about what the European troops aren't doing in Afghanistan - but this may be more important. From Empty Corner, via The Newshoggers blogroll amnesty day edition:

This closure is having an immediate effect in blocking supplies to NATO forces. The effects can become a whole lot worse. The shortage of bread will drive a lot of people to the Taliban.

Empty links to Dawn (a Pakistani online English language newspaper) with more information about the border closing and flour shortages.

Saturday, February 02, 2008


Jeff Goldstein of Protein Wisdom is having a nightmare.

That’s what gave us Jimmy Carter. And we’re still living with that nightmare — even if a certain giant river bunny who took a presidential oar to the skull may not be.

Dreams are funny things though. The flawed military action in Iran, the eagerness to get involved in mideast peace negotiations, the 'voluntary conservation measures'.

Jimmy Carter may be a symbol for a much more recent nightmare.

Friday, February 01, 2008

The hard part of blogroll amnesty day

As part of the celebration of blogroll amnesty day, I need to link five or six blogs smaller than mine. That's tough, but I eventually decided just to minimize the windows the blogs were displayed in, making them smaller than mine. There may not be many blogs smaller than mine, but there are plenty of progressive blogs deserving more exposure.

Don't you love it when a little blog gets a story the mainstream media never even thought to look at? Meet Susan DuQuesnay Bankston of Kiss My Big Blue Butt. Since her county doesn't put local campaign finance reports online, she got the paper ones and had them scanned into the computer. She's posted the expense reports for county judge Bob Hebert online. Oh yes, remember when Tom DeLay moved to Virginia to give his state Republican election comittee a chance to choose someone else for the ballot? On January 11 she posted his voter registration card so you can see when he moved back - and think about the oath he took to a federal judge. It may be my browser but I can't seem to link to individual posts right now. It's also a lighthearted and fun personal blog.

Friday Lunch Club is another great blog. They focus on the middle east. GPC doesn't seem to live or work in the middle east, but his essays aren't based on the usual suspects - he'll introduce you to foreign media, Congressional Quarterly, and many other sources you haven't seen. He occasionally mentions private information as well - not necessarily secret, but something he heard from a source.

Here's a blog I discovered while writing this post for blogroll amnesty day. Why should you be interested in a blog about 'water issues' in the southeastern USA? I'm not sure how much of this is due to global warming, how much to rapid growth, and how much is just an unusual occurence, but we may be seeing a lot more of this in the future - all over the country. I never thought about the effect of a drought on a nuclear power plant before reading Watercrunch. Say hello to Watercrunch, which also has some exclusive pictures of an Obama rally.

Say hello to Wetmachine. He has ultra technical stuff about frequency auctions, progressive political commentary, and cyberpunk flavored fiction you can read the first chapters of for free - or buy as a complete book.

This Fucking War is a medium sized blog, but still an important one deserving more exposure. Madtom links to the 'other' war blogs that are not always linked with enthusiasm by the mainstream warbloggers. These are not only those opposed to Bush's policy or with reservations, but those of soldiers who don't follow poltiics but just write real stuff about what they go through which might give some a negative impression.

Distributorcapny is an enthusiastic participant in blogroll amnesty day. He's counting down the seconds until Bush leaves office. He has a lot of cool pictures and a few videos on his blog. He's calculated how much of Exxon's profit would be needed to bail out Merrill Lynch and Citibank - or to buy Guilliani the nomination. A fun place to visit.

Last but not least, I'd like everyone to drop by the comments section of The Dead Hand and Political Friends and tell them how wrong they are about everything. They're more fun to argue with than most small conservative blogs.