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Saturday, November 09, 2002

...a malignant and a turban'd Turk... -- Othello

Orrin Judd comments on Giscard d'Estaing's saying that Turkey entry 'would destroy EU'
Mr. d'Estaing has things precisely backwards: Turkey has a future, while Europe does not. Now is the perfect time for the U.S. to end-run Europe and add Israel, Turkey, India, and Taiwan to NAFTA and to forge a new political/economic/military alliance of democratic states. These five countries already have interknit security ties; together (and hopefully adding places like Britain, Australia, Eritrea, Morroco, etc.) we would form a belt of democratic, capitalist, pluralist states that would serve notice to both the Islamicists and the communists that they are badly outgunned and outclassed.
I would paraphrase Lincoln, and say, "We hope to have God on our side, but we must have Turkey."

Friday, November 08, 2002

Persian Blogging -- One Year Old

Hossein Derakhshan (Hoder), on his blog Editor: Myself writes:
Next week on Nov. 5, we celebrate the first anniversary of Persian blogging movement. Estimates show that there are about 10,000 Persian weblogs out there. They have all been made during the last year.
He is being modest; he in fact started the movement by using Unicode to make it possible to write weblogs in Persian! You can read the story here.

Thursday, November 07, 2002

Post-Election Post-Modernism ...

Ramesh Ponnuru: WAIT A SECOND
I keep hearing Democrats saying that their party ought to have taken Bush on over the war rather than supported him. You mean the Democrats weren't for war with Iraq? On the issue of whether to send our young men and women into harm's way, they didn't really think it was a good idea? They thought it would make America less secure? But they voted for it anyway? Or maybe the Democrats really did think the pro-war vote was right on the merits, but are now concluding that it was bad politics. So Iraq is a serious threat to Americans that war is necessary to prevent, but Democrats should have tried to stop it in order to pick up a few votes? Or do they just not have any particular position on war-and-peace? The post-election commentary by Democrats seems to me to make for a more savage indictment of them than anything they did pre-election.

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Post-modernism is about post-modernism

An interesting political analysis in Armed and Dangerous
... The easy explanation is that 9/11 did the Democrats in ... I think this conventional wisdom is wrong. I think 9/11 merely exposed a longer-term weakness in the Democratic position, which is this: the Democrats have forgotten how to do politics that is about anything but politics. They're a post-modern political party, endlessly recycling texts that have little or no referent outside the discourse of politics itself.

The disgusting spectacle they made of Paul Wellstone's funeral is diagnostic. We were treated to trumpet calls about honoring Wellstone's legacy without any discussion beyond the most superficial cliches of what that legacy was. All the ritual invocations of time-honored Democratic shibboleths had a tired, shopworn, unreal and self-referential feel to them — politics as the literature of exhaustion...

Wednesday, November 06, 2002

From Charlene:

I know what it's like to pull the Republican lever for the first time, because I used to be a Democrat myself and I can tell you it only hurts for a minute and then it feels just great. --Ronald Reagan

P. Krugman
#56; A special report, a response to Krugman's New York Times piece "For Richer"

Paul Krugman authored a recent piece in the New York Times Sunday magazine "For Richer" (10/20/02) on income inequality in America. He concluded that in recent years the rich have been getting richer and that a new era of plutocracy is upon us. He used a recent study by economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez (P & S) to support this conclusion and then launched into a partisan attack on the Bush administration for supposedly promoting even more inequality. [click here]
Now let's take a deep breath and analyze this issue in a historical context. The great economic historian, Simon Kuznets, believed data on income distribution showed that periods of growing income inequality were associated with periods of technological innovation. In the early stages of such a wave the upper incomes, i.e., the entrepreneurial and capitalist classes, would gain in relative income, then, as the new technology became widely dispersed throughout the economy, other income classes would benefit, income inequality would decline and the economy would equilibrate at a higher standard of living. Thus Kuznets concluded that a time series of income distribution would have the shape of an inverted U–with income inequality first rising and then falling over an innovation cycle. These cycles are normally quite long, covering several decades. For example, the technology based on steam power spanned the larger part of the 19th century.

Now Krugman argues that the P & S study shows an income distribution pattern in the 20th century that is just the opposite of the Kuznets' pattern (actually Krugman never mentions Kusnets–he probably never heard of him). But he notes that since 1913 the data show inequality following the pattern of a normal U with inequality high in the early part of the century, falling during the depression, WWII and the 50s, 60s and 70s, and then rising again recently during a new "Gilded Age" of mansions and Gulfstreams. Thus Krugman concludes we are headed back to the days of the "Great Gatsby" following a brief interstice of relative income equality beginning with the New Deal.

As we will verify later, this conclusion is a complete distortion of the P & S findings and is a flat out contradiction of their conclusions. But before getting into that, we need to mention some things about Krugman's own history on this subject. He has written about inequality many times before and, unfortunately, his partisan political agenda always gets in the way of clear thinking. These same basic flaws in his analysis surface every time:

1. He has no sense of economic history.
2. His agenda gives no role to incentives and entrepreneurship in promoting economic growth.
3. He thinks exclusively in static, rather than dynamic, analysis.

There's lots more. Please CLICK HERE to read the Squad's full article.

[The Truth Squad is a group of economists who have long marveled at the writings of Paul Krugman. The Squad Reports are synopses of their discussions. You can find Paul Krugman's writings, including the latest columns, here]
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More Democrat dreamin' ...

I happened to hear on Rush Limbaugh that Johnny Apple, on the front page of the NYT, attributed the Republican wins to "a mood of disenchantment." Ha! That only makes sense if you assume that Democratic majorities are the normal 'default' state, and Republicans will only win if the voters throw a tantrum against their anointed leaders of the Left. It hasn't yet sunk in at that Flagship of the Eastern Liberal Establishment that they may have lost the Mandate of Heaven. (Though from their shrill tone they seem to realize something's wrong.) Rush called the Times the Terry McAuliffe of journalism.

But I think Rand Simberg puts it just right, when he calls the New York Times: The Paper Formerly Known as the Paper of Record.
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feeling good ...

The morning got off to a bad start; Charlene waking me up at 6AM because our dog had escaped. But she added, "the good news is, we took the Senate." So, wandering in the cold foggy dark, I felt a warm glow of satisfaction. I like this quote by Mickey Kaus:
A "50-50 Nation" -- In Democrats' Dreams: It seems pretty clear that the idea of a "50-50" deadlocked nation, the Neutral Story Line that had gathered near-unstoppable momentum before the election, is now really a fallback spin position for national Democrats trying to downplay the extent of their repudiation at the polls (as in, "Well, the Republicans gained a few seats but really it's split pretty much down the middle like before"). This notion seems insupportable if, as looks possible, the vast majority of contested, non-gerrymandered races went to Republicans, when the Republicans won back the Senate despite having more incumbencies to defend, when just about the only way for a Republican to lose a contested Senate seat, so far tonight, has been to divorce his wife of 29 years and marry a younger ex-aide. Only in the parallel fictional universe of the Voter News Service was this close to a tie. ... I still think any Republican advantage isn't destined to last long -- that equilibrium is becoming the default state of our politics. (Also Bush still doesn't have a domestic agenda.)...
Hopefully progress can now be made on various fronts. For instance, the Constitution says clearly that the Senate votes to approve the President's judicial nominations. But that has been a dead-letter for 2 years, with appointments not even allowed committee hearings ...

Tuesday, November 05, 2002

P. Krugman
#55: Good Grief!

In "Stop Making Sense" (11/05/02) we get an election day civics lesson from Paul Krugman and it comes with all the brooding pessimism and ingrained partisanship we have come to expect. We learn that while voting is irrational from a single individual's point of view, collectively it is essential for a functioning democracy. He then launches into a "Florida 2000" line of reasoning that pulls out all the stops.

Recall that in Florida 2000 the Democrats argued that they would have won if the intentions of all the voters had been properly recorded. Krugman now says the Democrats will win if the intentions of everyone of voting age are properly recorded. Anything less will be a miscarriage of democracy.

As Charlie Brown used to say––Good Grief!

[The Truth Squad is a group of economists who have long marveled at the writings of Paul Krugman. The Squad Reports are synopses of their discussions. You can find Paul Krugman's writings, including the latest columns, here]

Monday, November 04, 2002

why, oh why doesn't this stuff make the news??

Once again Michael Ledeen seems to be alone in reporting what's going on in Iran...
Last Wednesday two leading members of the Iranian parliament were killed when their automobile went off the road into a ravine north of Tehran. You would be hard-pressed to find an informed citizen who thinks it was an accident; and the Ayatollah Taheri, the now-celebrated cleric who resigned as the leading religious hierarch of Isfahan, announced they had been executed by the regime, and went on to denounce the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamanei, and his band of thugs.

Taheri has been a constant critic of the Khamenei tyranny for some time, but had been left free because of his considerable prestige and support from other leading ayatollahs. But this outburst was too much, and orders were given to arrest him. However, when the police tried to carry out the orders, they found the citizens of Isfahan — long considered the most-rebellious city in the country — ready to fight in defense of Taheri, and the police were forced to inform Khamenei that they were unable to arrest Taheri. The uneasy and potentially explosive standoff continues ...
It's not surprising that the State Dept doesn't care -- they always side with the tyrants (stability y'know, very important), and I suppose leftists of the press have a certain sympathy with those who have the privilege of stoning heretics. Still, it's really amazing that no one's paying attention to this ... read the article.

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reasons not to vote ...

From Dean Esmay:
This Tuesday is election day. I sincerely hope that, on that day, no one feels obligated to vote.

You read that right. I said hope that nobody feels obligated to vote. I hope nobody votes out of a sense of "duty." Because it is not an obligation, and it is not a duty. There is no such duty, no such obligation. That's nowhere in the Constitution, or any law. From the day this country was founded, countless people chose not to vote. No one should cast aspersions on them for it...

...Indeed, I would like to say here and now that if you don't t take the time to inform yourself on the issues, and make a rational choice based on those issues, I think it is your duty as a citizen to stay out of the voting booth. I really mean that. If you do not regularly follow the news, the issues debated, and the people involved, please do not vote on Tuesday.

In fact, here's a list of other reasons I hope you will not vote on Tuesday: