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A Man Needs A Fish Like A Woman Needs a Bicycle
Thursday, February 26, 2004
GREENSPAN IS THE MAN!!!!!!! Everywhere in the liberal blogosphere (example, Atrios and Hesiod are bemoaning the fact that Greenspan APPEARS to be supporting the Presiden't tax cuts, whilst at the same time supporting a cut in social security benefits. The shock, the horror. This would be a terrible thing. Really? Josh Marshall appears to be getting the point, but let me make it explicit.

Remember those promises about having your tax cut and your social security benefits as well? Well, Greenspan, by earnestly supporting the administration, has shown that we CANNOT have our cake and eat it to. That means that the tax cuts are a major issue in November. Not because its about the economy, but because its about whether I will get my benefits when I retire. If I am 40, working or middle class, I am pissed. Watch the support amongst middle-aged males (a current strength) collapse.

SUMMARY: We should be thanking Greespan, not haranguing him. The man is a politically savvy dude-ain't he? How can he point out the consequences of the tax cuts? Support them, and make the choice to support them explicit. Just watch Republican congressfolks and senators try explaining tax cuts to the rich paid for with their constituents' deferred social security savings. Do you want to be a fly on that wall?

Greenspan, you're the man!
Greenspan, you're the man!
Greenspan, you're the man!

(Repeat as necessary)

OUTRAGEOUS PREDICTION: Tax hike for the rich coming up! Before November!
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Friday, February 13, 2004
UP IS DOWN AND BACK AGAIN DEPARTMENT Given the diversity of wildlife on the web, I wondered when there would be a blog "Democrats for Bush". Well, now that it has happened, I guess good Christians everywhere will be looking for more signs of the approaching end of days, with increased membership in Jews for Jesus, Atheists for God (just kidding), or fucking a dead war for a living peace or some such...

Yes, I understand the point about "not getting hung up on dualities" and so forth, but when you read the blog you know it for what it is: A call to the faithful to believe in the President, even in the face of an increasing list of troubling questions to do with why we are in Iraq, and what will happen about the economy, and gosh, just how much fun was he having back there in 1972 and 1973 (and that is the essential question, isn't it?).

"Faith; noun. Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel."
..........Ambrose Bierce
Thanks to
Darknest for the quote. Bierce can be so...
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Tuesday, February 10, 2004
This Op-Ed from Mr. Brooks in today's NY Times is mind-blowing!

"But I couldn't watch most of the Super Bowl and I didn't have a reaction to the whole halftime fiasco because I had to go to bed and be ready for the continuing war the next day. They say there is a cultural divide between the military and society. There is, and suddenly I am on the other side."

Say WHAT?

SO, the President sacrifices so that we are safe. I feel better for Mr. Brooks insight, except I have one issue:

Let us grant Mr. Brooks his assertion and assume (for this blog entry) that there is a war on. Let us also assume that President Bush is a warrior President. What follows?

How did everyone else get on the other side? Why are we so out of touch with our virtuous Government (I could argue: Why is our Government so out of touch with us, but that would be quibbling...)? Why do we pig ourselves out oblivious to the sacrifice of others?

Because our Government told us to.

I count this as the greatest missed opportunity of the Bush Administration: When there was a chance to galvanize the nation for a great purpose after the shocking events of 9/11, the best we could come up with was: "Please, continue to spend money."

I have yet to here anything like a JFK moment on the scale of "And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country."

(Caution Ahead: A dash of Hegelian sentiment...) The notion of shared sacrifice would have undermind the strategy of demanding tax cuts in a time of war. In a war, we are supposed to willingly take up the burden placed before us, as previous generations have done to ensure the survival of the family and nation. This choice of the President helps ensure that ours will never be remembered as a "great" generation. For those who retort that this does not stop anyone of us from getting off our bums and doing something about it as individuals: You are right. But in a time of war, a country survives by its ability to rally and bring to the fore its collectivist instincts. War, as an enterprise, requires the acceptance of the possibility that the individual must, in times of peril, be willing to go under so that the embodiment of the universal--family, clan, people, and nation can endure.

Where do we see this now? In a small segment of the population that is tasked with waging this war on our behalf. The result will be a steadily declining degree of morale and willingness to sign up for military duty, as well as an increasing estrangement between professional military personnel and its government as well as the society that this military is tasked to protect. Where will this lead?

To no place good: socially, culturally, militarily, economically, or politically.

In a nutshell: The Administration's inability to call for shared sacrifice and then lead by example imperils the nation.
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I had the opportunity to read Greg Easterbrook's blog on the Maurice Clarett' "victory." I think it can count as quite a patronizing entry fro both student athletes and for NFL franchises.

My issues? A letter (and by the way, Mr. Eastbrook is not alone. Most of the sports commentators I read fell similarly):

dear easterblogg,

as much as i might sympathize with your worry that the nfl will end up having its talent diluted, i don't think it will happen because of this court decision, or by allowing a more open market in draft players.

1. why claim the nba has become cruddy because of the influx of poor junior/high school players. could it not be a consequence of more expansion teams diluting the pool of available talent? as for the claim that ego driven young players won't be coached and are destroying teams that play them, wouldn't you expect this to be a self-correcting problem? after all, if the experience of teams is that these players are no good, their stock as a group will fall, and junior/high school players will be drafted further down then they are now, make less money, and in the long run (not that long i think) lessen incentives to jump to the nba/nfl. you make the point (indirectly later in your column "With NBA quality declining and revenues declining, payments to NBA players will inevitably decline". further, the argument by analogy with ibm is seriously flawed. ibm will be quite willing to pick up someone it thinks is best suited for the job, even if they have no formal degree. can they do the job better than other candidates? that is ibm's criteria. true, you would have to be very good, but so? perhaps clarett is that good (i don't know). as for the pilot issue, i humbly submit that piloting a plane and playing in the nfl are a little different in degree and nature? out of curiosity, let's grant your analogy: do you think the nfl will pull a kid at quaterback from high school to lead a team?

2. "Maintaining high quality is the NFL's legitimate reason for keeping out kids." my understanding is that the nfl's aim is to maintain parity. high quality across the league is a bonus.a helpful one, no doubt. but even granting your argument, would you stop someone from competiting if they were as good as those who already play? if so, don't you undermine your own argument? if you worry about a flood of under-achieving junior/high school atheletes, shouldn't nfl teams be the judge of whether they are worthy of playing in the league? if you don't, then i would like to understand why you think nfl teams cannot make rational decisions in evaluating their own talent. sure, they can get it wrong, but they do now anyway. how many kids are likely to be evaluated at that level of proficiency? why do you think nfl teams have to be protected from themselves?

3. "Next, if the judge has her way, what will happen at the collegiate level? Quality of play will be harmed there too, as athletes who might have become college stars instead jump to the pros to become benchwarmers." this is true. so what? as you are no doubt aware, the college game is an anti-trust official's worst nightmare. mankiw has a great section on the ncaa, and the legal monopoly it has set for itself (mankiw, principles of economics, 2nd edition, pp340-341). the truth is that giving student athletes opportunities they did not have before will put pressure on the ncaa and on colleges to recognize and reward athletes that return large amounts of revenue to their universities. currently they receive very little. if i am a poor uni student working as a gifted amateur, and i had the opportunity to go to the big leagues and help out a less than stellar home environment, i might too be tempted to give up my college career and make some real cash. if you check out "hoop dreams" not all of these kids came from wealthy backgrounds.

4. "those who jump straight to the pros are missing their chance to gain at least some college education." i know you don't mean to do this, but it does sound quite patronizing to my ears. after all, there is nothing to stop an individual from going back later in life and go to college. sure, there is a chance they could shoot all that money into their arm, make bad deals, etc. but, it is not clear to me that that chance is enough to deny the (equally probable?) chance that they will have learnt a lot, and then come back to college, and ultimately society, enriched from the lessons learnt from their roller-coaster ride with fame, success, and disappointment.

in a sense, i think you missed the important issue here: why kids who could really benefit from an extra year, two, or three of seasoning and development in college feel the need to try and bypass the college system, even though it will--in all likelihood--diminish their overall lifetime earnings. after all, why would anyone want to leave a hypocritical system that exploits athletes while in many cases pretends to care about them personally, denies them the opportunity to receive the reward of the value they add to a university's name and revenues, and otherwise treats them as children?
i can't think of any reason at all...
respectfully


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Sunday, February 08, 2004
I HEAR VOICES... Well, the President gave his interview. Trying to look at it with unjaundiced eyes (difficult I know), he appeared ill at ease on Iraq & WMDs, happier on the economy, and ill at ease again on the AWOL issue, though the "don't laugh at the fine men of the National Guard" line was a lovely bit of misdirection. What caught my eye was this exchange:

"Russert: ... Why not say, I will not cut taxes any more until we have balanced the budget? If our situation is so precious and delicate because of the war, why do you keep cutting taxes and draining money from the treasury?

President Bush: Well, because I believe that the best way to stimulate economic growth is to let people keep more of their own money. And I believe that if you raise taxes as the economy is beginning to recover from really tough times, you will slow down economic growth. You will make it harder.

See, I'm more worried about the fellow looking for the job. That's what I'm worried about. I want people working. I want people to find work. And so, when we stimulate the economy, it's more likely that person is going to find work. And the best way to stimulate the economy is not to raise taxes but to hold the low taxes down.

Russert: How about no more tax cuts until the budget is balanced?

President Bush: Well, that's a hypothetical question which I can't answer to you because I don't know how strong the economy is going to be.

I mean, the President must keep all options on the table, but I do know that raising the child lowering the child credit thereby raising taxes on working families does not make sense when the economy is recovering, and that's exactly what some of them are calling for up on Capitol Hill. They want to raise taxes of the families with children, they want to increase the marriage penalty. They want to get rid of those taxes on small businesses that are encouraging the stimulation of new job creation, and I'm not going to have any of it."

Can we see the pattern here? When I read Peggy Noonan from the WSJ (via Eschaton), I have to wonder what planet she is on. What philosophy is being espoused here? What set of breath-taking intellectual activities is being juggled here? In a nutshell: the President mischaracterized Russert's question. Or misheard him (twice). If the former--that is political, not philosophical. If it is the later: Then it must have been all confusion caused by the voices Noonan reveals are conversing inside the President's head...
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Friday, February 06, 2004
The New York Times has Friedman warning of dire consequences in November if the Bush Administration doesn't pull it's head out of its arse. I was captivated by this:

"In Afghanistan, post-Taliban, the Bush team has started to build a moderate alternative in Hamid Karzai. In Palestine, though, it never really tried to do that, so could end up with Hamas calling the shots. In Iraq, the Bush team is trying hard to build a moderate center. But given its early missteps, its crazy decision to disband the Iraqi Army, its lack of a workable plan for a political transition and its July 1 deadline for turning over sovereignty in Baghdad to Iraqis — success is by no means assured. So we could end up there, too, with ayatollahs calling the shots or civil war. "

What fascinates me is that the Bush Administration is monumentally silly to want to pull the troops back in June or July. Why? Exactly because we will likely succeed. But what success? The very real possibility that we will get an Islamic Republic that will turn its back on the liberal democratic dream that ne0-c0ns and good liberals like Friedman and those guys at The New Republic wanted to see. If we pull out in October, then the election can happen exactly as we are going to the polls here. What better advertising for the President than a great stirring "birth of a nation" documentary featuring the moderate-rights respecting-peace loving-democratic-freedom loving-NEW Iraq! After all, we won't know that we saw the birth of a very conservative-religiously oriented-human-(women)-rights-denying-popularly-elected-US antipathetic-Civil War brewing-regime in Iraq until AFTER the election. Mr. President, please don't blow the free publicity of that wonderful documentary! Beg the UN to authorize elections in October!

SO, can you see the headlines in early November if we leave in July? Something that makes clear that the very last vestige of the excuse for this Iraq War has turned on its head?

"Saddam Stopped! Iraq Free! Theocracy Installed! President Bush Thrilled!"
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