Friday, May 30, 2008

Jesus Is a Libertarian

It's a fair question: "compassion" is a vice, when practiced by government. But isn't it still a virtue when practiced by individuals?

The Objectivist position is that moral pressure, and guilt, are just as coercive, and just as wrong, as government coercion.

So, the liberal position is this: "We" should take money from B to give it to C. B is rich, and C is poor. But "We" does not include rich liberals, like Al Franken, who think that only saps pay taxes.

It's not charity if it's done at gun point. Is it charity if it is done out of fear of shunning?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Bill o' the Day: Fall of the Noose

The current statute on racial intimidation/hate crime in NC is this, as far as I can tell:


§ 14‑3. Punishment of misdemeanors, infamous offenses, offenses committed in secrecy and malice, or with deceit and intent to defraud, or with ethnic animosity....

(c) If any Class 2 or Class 3 misdemeanor is committed because of the victim's race, color, religion, nationality, or country of origin, the offender shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. If any Class A1 or Class 1 misdemeanor offense is committed because of the victim's race, color, religion, nationality, or country of origin, the offender shall be guilty of a Class I felony.

§ 14‑401.14. Ethnic intimidation; teaching any technique to be used for ethnic intimidation.

(a) If a person shall, because of race, color, religion, nationality, or country of origin, assault another person, or damage or deface the property of another person, or threaten to do any such act, he shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

(b) A person who assembles with one or more persons to teach any technique or means to be used to commit any act in violation of subsection (a) of this section is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

New Legislation, introduced yesterday by Senator Berger of Franklin County:

AN ACT to make it unlawful to burn a cross or hang a noose for the intent of intimidating another person because of race, color, religion, nationality, or country of origin and to study the impact of recent cross burnings and noose hangings across the state to make recommendations for modification to the criminal laws of the state.

The General Assembly of North Carolina enacts:
SECTION 1. Chapter 14 of the General Statutes is amended by adding a new section to read:
"§ 14‑401.14A. Unlawful to burn a cross or hang a noose with the intent to intimidate.
If a person shall burn a cross or hang a noose with the intent to intimidate another because of race, color, religion, nationality, or country of origin, he shall be guilty of a Class H felony."
SECTION 2. The Legislative Research Commission shall study the impact of recent cross burnings and noose hangings within the State and determine if any modifications should be made to existing statutes to lawfully deter this type of conduct. Of funds appropriated to the General Assembly for the 2008-2009 fiscal year, there shall be allocated the sum of twenty thousand dollars ($20,000) to fund this study. The Legislative Research Commission shall report its findings and make recommendations for legislation to the 2009 Session of the General Assembly.
SECTION 3. This act becomes effective December 1, 2008, and applies to offenses committed on or after that date.

My view:

1. A study? Really?
2. The new legislation is not as bad as the existing law, and I had not seen the existing law. Punishing someone for "ethnic animosity" is pretty vague. Punishing someone for burning a cross is at least specific. And, "intent" is always hard to guess. But if somebody burns a cross in your yard, it is likely intended to intimidate and terrorize.

The law makes a distinction between me putting a pile of garbage in your lawn, and setting it afire, and putting a cross in your yard and setting it afire. That distinction, at least, seems right: burning a cross really is an assault. But a "class H felony" has a presumptive punishment of three years imprisonment, even if no other action or assault takes place.

Please discuss.

Betting On a Good Pair

This was posted to the LPNC Yahoo List by KPC friend and frequent commenter Tom Howe. It addresses the questions asked by many, including the judicious Steve Newton, about the Barr-Root ticket:

As a poker player, I assure you that a good pair will often lose. But it will often win, too. On thing is sure: if you don't bet, you can't win. One more thing is sure: if you bet big and then let a small raise scare you away, you have lost.

The LP chose to bet big on a good pair. We might win big -- we might get several per cent and get credit for destroying McCain. We might do this and attract hordes of thoughtful people who had liked our ideas, but previously believed our cause too far fetched. Of course, there's a chance of losing: we could be invaded the way the Reformers were.

We have a lot of chips in the pot. If we are scared away now, we're just certain to lose.

Hang tough! We have a good pair; the pot is huge! Back these candidates and the LP can be the politcal powerhouse you always wanted. Don't get wobbly now.

yours in Liberty,
Tom Howe

That is a fine way to put it. Play out the hand. If we fold, we lose the pot for sure.

And, yes, we might lose. That's how poker, and politics, work.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Bill o' the Day: Control the Beaver

Best of the many Bills introduced today in the NC General Assembly, led by Speaker Joe Hackney.

HB 2572


Now, Tabor Correctional Facility can be learned about here. Note the Yam festival. (I'm not making fun. I like the Yam festival.)

This piece of legislation was introduced by the Hon. Dewey Hill, a Democratic Representative from Brunswick/Columbus counties, doing the people's business for nearly 20 years.

Here is the legislation:

AN ACT to appropriate funds for beaver control at tabor correctional institution.

The General Assembly of North Carolina enacts:

SECTION 1. There is appropriated from the General Fund to the Department of Correction the sum of five thousand dollars ($5,000) for the 2008‑2009 fiscal year for beaver control measures at Tabor Correctional Institution in Tabor City.

SECTION 2. This act becomes effective July 1, 2008.

They must be worried that Bill Clinton is coming to town. THAT is when beaver control becomes really crucial.

If Doctors Were Outlawed, Only Criminals Would Have Doctors

(A) The number of physicians in the U.S. is 700,000.
(B) Accidental deaths caused by Physicians per year are 120,000.

(Calculation) Accidental deaths per physician is 0.171
Statistics courtesy of U.S. Dept of Health Human Services.

Now think about this: Guns:
(A) The number of gun owners in the U.S. is 80,000,000. (Yes, that's 80 million..)

(B) The number of accidental gun deaths per year, all age groups, is 1,500.

(Calculation) The number of accidental deaths
per gun owner is .000188; Statistics courtesy of FBI

So, statistically, doctors are approximately 9,000 times more dangerous than gun owners.

Remember, "Guns don't kill people, doctors do."

Please alert your friends to this alarming threat.
We must ban doctors before this gets completely out of hand!!!!!
Out of concern for the public at large, I withheld the statistics on
lawyers for fear the shock would cause people to panic and seek medical attention...

(Nod to CC, who knows from doctors)


So, LifeLock is getting sued.

For not being able to do what they say they can do.

Todd Davis has dared criminals for two years to try stealing his identity: Ads for his fraud-prevention company, LifeLock, even offer his Social Security number next to his smiling mug.

Now, Lifelock customers in Maryland, New Jersey and West Virginia are suing Davis, claiming his service didn't work as promised and he knew it wouldn't, because the service had failed even him.

Attorney David Paris said he found records of other people applying for or receiving driver's licenses at least 20 times using Davis' Social Security number, though some of the applications may have been rejected because data in them didn't match what the Social Security Administration had on file.

Davis acknowledged in an interview with The Associated Press that his stunt has led to at least 87 instances in which people have tried to steal his identity, and one succeeded: a guy in Texas who duped an online payday loan operation last year into giving him $500 using Davis' Social Security number.

(Nod to Anonyman, who thinks his NAME is too terrifying to reveal.)

You Just Can't Make This Stuff Up

Suffering from growth....The entire blog would be quite amusing, if it were satire. But he actually believes Australia, one of the lowest pop-density nations in the world, should shrink in every way in the next half century.

Look, the white population of the world is stable, maybe shrinking slightly.

The darker hues of humans are the one increasing in population. And many of the places that have high growth rates don't have that milky white skin, either. So both population growth and economic growth are primarily occuring outside whiteland. When white people are upset about growth, they are saying, "There seems to be the right number of me, but way too many of you!"*

So why not call this whole environment movement the "Hey, Jack, White people got their hot tubs and solar-powered laptops, why don't you dusky hordes live in your grass huts and like it?" lobby?

We may need to try to mitigate environmental damage of growth, but to decide that the present distribution of wealth and power was handed down by a pale-hued God seems unfair.

*Props to PJ O'Rourke on this thought.

I hate to keep doing this....

I hate to keep doing this, but you need to read Weigel's analysis of the Denver LP convention. Interesting, and some nice insights into politics, regardless of your view of the events on merits.

Steve Newton Takes a Fair View: Wait and See

Steve Newton takes a sensible position: Wait and see.

He's right, of course: help from Barr could easily add 1% or more to my vote total,
and we need that. On the other hand....OF COURSE we need our Prez candidate to help. That's what a Prez candidate does.

Monday, May 26, 2008

For those upset about Bob Barr....

For those upset about the Bob Barr nomination, two things:

1. It was not that implausible. His responses in the debate helped him a lot.
2. And on the merits, check this. You may or may not find it helpful. But the "he voted for the Patriot Act" claim just isn't right. Or, at least, it's more complex.

In fact, now that I think about it, it's the heart of the matter. Bob Barr opposed the Patriot Act. He tried to compromise, and agreed to vote "yes" on the Patriot Act, in order to get some improvements in a bill that was going to pass anyway. Now, one can say that that was a mistake. In fact, it was. But it is not the same as "voted for the Patriot Act."

The problem with having a candidate who has actually held elective office is that it is likely the person has had to make some actual policy decisions. Whatever else are the merits of the Barr nomination, we are going to have to decide if we want to have some Libertarians who are actually IN office, or if we are just going to continue to be proud of our irrelevance. 'Cause we have a lot to be proud of.

I didn't vote for Bob Barr. I supported Mary Ruwart. But I'm glad Bob's the nominee, and I have already contributed to his campaign. I urge you to do the same.

The Answer is "End Capitalism." (It doesn't matter what the question is)

Implications of Peak Oil for Industrialized Societies

Guy McPherson & Jake Weltzin
Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society, June 2008, Pages 187-191

The world passed the halfway point of oil supply in 2005. World demand for oil likely will severely outstrip supply in 2008, leading to increasingly higher oil prices. Consequences are likely to include increasing gasoline prices, rapidly increasing inflation, and subsequently a series of increasingly severe recessions followed by a worldwide economic depression. Consequences may include, particularly in industrialized countries such as the United States, massive unemployment, economic collapse, and chaos.

So, we have a professor of evolutionary ecology, and the director of something called the "USA National Phenology Network." And not enough economics between them to power a 3-watt fluorescent dim bulb.

Oh, and check this. Remarkable.

Reminds me of another famous bed-wetter, Paul Ehrlich. Some of his predictions:

The battle to feed humanity is over. In the 1970s, the world will undergo famines. Hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. Population control is the only answer. —Paul Ehrlich, in The Population Bomb (1968)

I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000. —Paul Ehrlich in (1969)

In ten years all important animal life in the sea will be extinct. Large areas of coastline will have to be evacuated because of the stench of dead fish. —Paul Ehrlich, Earth Day (1970)

Before 1985, mankind will enter a genuine age of scarcity…in which the accessible supplies of many key minerals will be facing depletion. —Paul Ehrlich in (1976)

Finally, remember global cooling? It went like this:

The continued rapid cooling of the earth since WWII is in accord with the increase in global air pollution associated with industrialization, mechanization, urbanization and exploding population. —Reid Bryson, “Global Ecology; Readings towards a rational strategy for Man”, (1971)

It turned out that the solution to "global cooling" was to....end capitalism. I could give you 20 more quotes from equally reputable, equally certain, scientists of actual credentials. In 1971, there was a consensus, among the kind of pop scientists that Al Gore now likes to quote, that there was global cooling. Really. (Source for these delightful quotes here)

Could we have riots, and inflation, because of energy prices? Yes, yes if we could. If we try to interfere with the price mechanism. If we let prices alone, then other technologies will come on line smoothly, as they become profitable. (Yes, you're right, we should also stop fighting stupid wars over oil, but that's a different subject, more like "pique oil.")

And what about global cooling...ah....warming? It could be bad, too. But not so bad that "peak oil" lunatics can't make it worse.

(Lagniappe: My own thoughts, discussed with Russ Roberts, on "peak oil." And, don't forget "the bet.")

Denouement: Lib Nat Convention

Unknotting the end of the beginning: details

madagascar baby

me and mrs angus are aok and enjoying a place almost as exotic as the Lib convention.

going to Ft Dauphin now and Berenty tomorrow.

come home Mungowitz, come home!!!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Outstanding Live Journalism

Weigel nails it. A remarkable performance. Admits his own uncertainties, and is surprised, right there in the post.

A tour de force of what the medium can do, if you are in the right place at the right time. Plus, he got a little bit lucky: The "Root endorses Barr" maneuver was right out of the 19th century, when conventions were conventions, men were men, and so were women.


Wayne Allyn Root is the VP candidate.

Had to be, because of the endorsement.

Very interesting.

Barr / Root 2008. A nice short bumper sticker.

VP Decision

VP choice:

It HAS to be Ruwart, or else lots and lots of activists are gonna walk.

But Root delivered the nomination.

Tough one. Not like you can promise Root Sec'y of Commerce "when we win."

States working up their results, big states, Alabama, California, Texas and Maine (not so big).

UPDATE: I should note that I was just flat wrong on the Ruwart claim. She was not really seriously considered. It was Kubby who was Root's main competition in balloting.

Bob Barr is the Nominee

You probably already know.

But, it's Bob Barr, Lib Prez Candidate, 2008.

Wayne Allyn Root endorsed Barr, when it was clear Root could not win.

UPDATE: The play-by-play....Ruwart had a slight lead. Root's move was the key.

And, Barr had 60 votes just from the GA (his home state), VA, and CA delegations.

Props from Chris Matthews

Air ink from Chris Matthews, on Lib Signature Drive Success in NC.

I think he's a bit premature in giving Barr the nomination, tho. We'll know in five hours, by about 6 pm Denver time.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Live-Blogging the Debate

Some thoughts:

1. The moderator, James Pinkerton, was roundly BOOED by audience when they mentioned that he had Republican ties and that he worked for Fox News. Very roundly. Nice.

2. The good Mr. Pinkerton, perhaps flustered, announced the rules. Opening statements, then questions. He immediately SKIPPED the opening statement, and asked Bob Barr, "Who is your favorite philosopher?" Barr said, Ayn Rand. Crowd clapped, a little stunned. Seemed that Bob had avoided being a Randian for all those Republican years. But, I have to admit, Bob also said this same thing, Ayn Rand favorite philosopher, fifteen months ago the first time I heard him speak.

Anyway, Mr. Pinkerton shut things down, went back to opening statements. I actually thought Barr got a little advantage from not panicking, and answering the question so succinctly. It stayed in people's minds better than if he had done what *I* would have done: "What? No opening statements?"

3. The candidates all agree on almost everything. And there were fewer attempts than I expected from other candidates to attack Barr's "Road to Atlanta" conversion.

Upstaged by some guy dressed like Popeye

A reader sends this link.

“Terrific. I spend all afternoon picking out the clothes to wear for a night out on the town with the ladies, and I get upstaged by some guy dressed like Popeye,” a Manhattan man who only identified himself as Austin grumbled as he surveyed the servicemen crowded into a neighborhood bar. “I can’t believe how white their uniforms are. The Navy must spend billions on Woolite.”

...With Fleet Week now in full swing, many neglected men around the city are anxiously waiting for things to settle down for the summer. “Things are going to be great next weekend,” local reveler Mike Munger beamed. “This place will be crawling with depressed woman who forgot that Fleet Week was over, and I’ll be there to buy them drinks and watch their purses while they go to the jukebox. It’s going to be a kickass summer!”

No, that's not me.

Still, reminds me of the DiVinyls' song, updated:

I don't want anybody else.
When I think about you I google myself.

Tucker Carlson: Tease, or Victim?

Okay, so now ABC and the NYTimes are getting a little snarky with me.

Here's what happened, in a nutshell:

I got a phone call, polling delegates, described here. NOTICE: I was skeptical. Didn't seem right to me.

SO, I did the blog equivalent of double-sourcing, by GOOGLING. I found this,
that seemed like confirmation enough to me, and so I wrote it. NOTICE: The time stamp on Lew's piece is earlier than my first blog post on this....

Then, I got another call.

It is possible, and I admit this appeals to my narcissistic soul, that Lew Rockwell and two anonymous callers cooked this just to spoof ME. But that seems unlikely. It appears that SOMEONE wanted to know something, for some reason.

Another one of those stories we'll never know the end of. Was Tucker C teasing us, or was he a victim of some quirky sense of humor out there?

Bob Barr Reception

Last night at the LP Nat Conv, the reception for Prez candidate Bob Barr was, to say the least, well-attended.

I had dinner with some people I consider to be "in the know," at least compared to me (not that difficult). Their list of "top-tier" Prez candidates, in terms of having a chance to take it (listed alphabetically):

Bob Barr, Mike Gravel, George Phillies, Wayne Allyn Root, Mary Ruwart

Like I said, they know more than I. But I don't see any chance for Gravel or Phillies.

So, "barring" a first ballot disaster, and substantial movement after MANY ballots, I think the nominee will be Barr, Root, or Ruwart. And, of those, I would put Root last, though not out of the running. Barr and Ruwart are different, each has strong backing of an identifiable contingent in the party, and frankly either of them would be a good candidate for us.

Friday, May 23, 2008

LP Prez Nominating Procedure

So, the LP has an interesting way of rationing the extremely scarce time for televised debate, and for nominating speeches.

These are "tokens," given out to each credentialed delegate.

In particular:

1. In order to get time in the CSPAN-televised debate on Saturday, a candidate/campaign has to receive something like 70 tokens.

2. In the past, and according to our by-laws, in order to get time for nominating speeches on Sunday, one had to get 30 tokens. But there has been a last-minute change PROPOSED for the by-laws, which would raise that to 82, or in effect 10% of the delegates at the 2004 LP Nat Conv.

There has been a bit of hootin' and hollerin' in the hallways about this rather abrupt change. It is only necessary, of course, since we are not allowed by the state-sponsored parties to have PRIMARIES. A rather extreme proposal, to give you an idea of the sort of things being talked about in the corridors.

Finally, a flame-out.

That would be about John Finan.

Lots of news.

Keynote Address

The Keynote for the Lib Nat Conv was split between me, at 2 pm, and Richard Viguerie, at 2:30 pm.

We got a little bit of a late start. Here is the first three minutes' worth of my talk, as a teaser:

Friends, it’s great to be here, today. I know a lot of you already, and I hope to get a chance to talk with the rest of you soon. I look around this room, and I see a lot of friendly faces, a real sense of shared purpose. It’s exciting.

Unfortunately, the reason that so many of us feel that spark of purpose is that we’re having hard times. This administration in Washington is a really great recruiter for our party. Everywhere I go, people are disgusted.

They glance around, to make sure no one is listening, and then tell me, “You know, I never considered voting Libertarian before. But when I see the Patriot Act, when I see the casualties in the war in Iraq and the war on drugs, then I start to think Libertarian.”

The government is not providing the basic services that our more optimistic fellow citizens have come to expect. When I talk to people in the cities, Latinos and African-Americans, people who send their children to schools that look like war zones, schools that may be the single most disastrous examples of the failure of statist social engineering, I hear it: “I’m starting to think Libertarian.”
Of course, some folks also ask me, “Why don’t Libertarians care about real people? The Democrats and Republicans are interested in real people.”

I answer, yes, Democrats and Republicans are interested in real people. And fleas are interested in real dogs. We don’t elect them dog-catcher, though.

Why would you think that if I care about you, I should want to run your life? Or, if I don’t want to run you life, why would you think I don’t care?

As I said, this year is a great opportunity for Libertarians, for an alternative. The humorist PJ O’Rourke was researching farm subsidies, a remarkably expensive program with essentially no real benefits. While O’Rourke was doing research, he visited a farmer, who was going to artificially inseminate a cow. While the farmer was doing what he needed to do to inseminate the cow, at the cow’s hind end, he asked PJ to hold the cow’s head. The farmer, of course, was manipulating a two-foot-long plastic turkey baster, in the part of the cow where it needed to go. PJ, holding the head, said that he would never forget the look on that cow’s face.

But that look was familiar. And then PJ recognized it, and you recognize it, too. Millions of taxpayers have the same expression that cow had, every April 15th. And for the SAME REASON!

That same reason, for taxes, for f]ailures in foreign policy, and for disastrous corruption at every level of government, is the reason that people are starting to think Libertarian.

Some notes:
1. It appears CSPAN is not going to televise my speech. It is going to televise my wooden introduction of Richard Viguerie's speech, and Richard Viguerie's very fine speech, at 2:30 a.m. (that's **AM*) on Saturday.
2. My speech was well-received. A good audience. It was an honor to be asked to do this.
3. I think that I will be able to get a copy of my speech, and will find a way to make it available, either on YouTube or somehow. Since CSPAN didn't televise it, that simplifies things.
4. Richard V did a very fine job. A real pro, and made some good points. A real crowd pleaser. You might want to DVR the speech on CSPAN. Again, 2:30 am (or so) early Saturday. That's 2:30 am EDT, of course.
5. No protests. It all went smoothly. Goodonya, Bill Redpath!

Weigel Chilipunks Me

So, I had this great blog post title: "Things to do in Denver When You're Libertarian."
From a relatively obscure Warren Zevon song title; lyrics at bottom.

But that son-of-a-biscuit-eater Weigel scooped me. Fair and square, I never used it, assuming my personal genius puts me ahead of everyone else.

Anyway, I'll just steal Weigel's photo, as payback.
Prez candidate Bob Barr talking to a delegate. This was not posed, and it is pretty typical of the diversity of this gathering, in terms of....styles. (Photo Credit: David Weigel, RH&R Blog)

Warren Zevon: Things to do in Denver When You're Dead

Written By LeRoy P. Marinell, Waddy Wachtel and Warren Zevon
c. 1991 Zevon Music administered by
Warner-Tamerlane Publishing corp
LeadsheetlandBMI/Tiny Tunes ASCAP

I called up my friend LeRoy on the phone
I said, Buddy, I'm afraid to be alone
'Cause I got some weird ideas in my head
About things to do in Denver when you're dead

I was working on a steak the other day
And I saw Waddy in the Rattlesnake Cafe
Dressed in black, tossing back a shot of rye
Finding things to do in Denver when you die

You won't need a cab to find a priest
Maybe you should find a place to stay
Some place where they never change the sheets
And you just roll around Denver all day

LeRoy says there's something you should know
Not everybody has a place to go
And home is just a place to hang your head
And dream of things to do in Denver when you're dead

You won't need a cab to find a priest
Maybe you should find a place to stay
Some place where they never change the sheets
And you just roll around Denver all day
You just roll around Denver all day

Some Men Really ARE Islands

Went to a "Premium Breakfast" this morning, with W. Earl Allen, on China and developments there. Very nice talk, good breakfast. notice things. I got into the elevator, and it was pretty full. Now, I admit, this was 6:50 am local time, and people were groggy. But I, seeing that everyone on the elevator had a LP name tag, gave a hearty, "Good Morning! How is everyone?"

Response: Everyone looks at their shoes. One person says, "Abbaddah." Or something like that. Look, these are delegates to a political convention. Yay for the team, let's go get 'em. All that. Nothing.

Then, at the breakfast, very large room. Apparently more demand than they expected, so they moved to a larger room.

Except that this meant that one was not obliged to sit at a table with other people. There were at least eight (I stopped counting) tables with either one, or two, people. Each table had chairs for eight. And the tables with two had guys at the ten o'clock-two o'clock optimal driving position, not sitting together. Only one table was full, and that was the speaker's table. The median was probably 4 people at a table.

Jeez, people, at a convention, you are supposed to convene. Who would pay $35 to sit at a breakfast table by themselves at a political convention?

Thursday, May 22, 2008


And I hope this gets something more than the tepid "and they're checking it twice!" ink we got when we turned in the signatures.

Look, North Carolina media, it is NEWS that there is a third choice now for registration. You don't get to decide if it is interesting or not to register Libertarian. The voters will do that.

Let them know, will you?

Press Release:


RALEIGH (May 22) -- The Libertarian Party is back on the ballot in
North Carolina. The State Board of Elections formally certified the
party today North Carolina voters who so choose can now register

"This was our eighth ballot access drive. Without a doubt, it was the
most nerve-racking and exhausting one we've conducted," said Barbara
Howe, state chair. "We are now back on the ballot, but we are out of
funds, so we have no money to support candidates."

Nevertheless, the Libertarians will field a slate of candidates in
November, she said. At their 2008 convention in Burlington held in
April, the party nominated Dr. Michael Munger, chair of the Duke
University political science department, for governor. They also
nominated candidates for the General Assembly, U.S. Congress, and the
Guilford County Commission.

Libertarians have until July 1 to submit a complete list of candidates
to the SBOE, Howe noted. "We expect now that we are officially on the
ballot, we will have more people come forward who want to spread the
message of liberty."

North Carolina ballot laws are the most restrictive in the nation.
"They're designed by the Democrats and Republicans to keep independent
candidates and third parties off the ballot," said Dr. Munger. The
LPNC spent an estimated $134,000 and logged 2,200 volunteer hours to
collect the nearly 70,000 valid signatures needed.

"This also costs the taxpayer, stifles democracy, and, worst of all,
kills trees," Dr. Munger quipped. "County BOE clerks spend 4,000 hours
verifying the more than 108,000 signatures we submitted." That's based
on an estimate of two minutes to verify each signature. In some cases,
it takes 5 to 10 minutes, Dr. Munger said.

"And we used more than 20 reams of paper, 400 pounds," Dr. Munger
said. "And after all this time, effort and expense, we essentially
arrive at the starting line breathless."

"Since the process keeps most parties out completely, the real cost to
taxpayers is democracy." Dr. Munger said. "No choices, no new ideas,
and no competition in a system that could surely use it.

"Nearly half of the seats in the General Assembly will be unopposed
again this year because we have had to spend all our resources on this
bizarre exercise instead of recruiting candidates and campaigning."

Meanwhile, Libertarian delegates have departed/will depart for the
2008 Libertarian National Convention in Denver May 22 to 26. The
Convention will nominate a candidate for president, who will be on the
ballot in 48 states. A debate featuring the Libertarian candidates
seeking the presidential nomination will be aired live on CSPAN
Saturday, May 24 from 7 to 9 p.m. (MST).

"Unlike the Democratic and Republican national conventions, ours is
not subsidized by taxpayer money," Howe noted.

I am the LP Nat Conv

I was expecting a bunch of politicians, the sort of people who shake hands with everyone, a little more eye contact than you are really looking for.

Nope. These folks are serious. Not really talkers. We'll see if they are doers.

Rough flight from Raleigh. All the way the paper bag was on me knee. Stormy. Then, the crack Colorado HP had CLOSED Interstate 70 for a horrific accident. Took us an hour to travel 23 miles.

Yes, there was a tornado through here this morning. Missed us, though.

Interesting system for choosing candidates who get time for nomination speeches: you have to collect at least 30 "tokens," signed cards that attest, by name, to the support of delegate for your candidacy. Candidates CAN be nominated without getting any tokens, but they get no time for speeches of support or endorsement.

The token turn-in deadline is 3:45 tomorrow.

Interesting strategic problem: If you like (say) three candidates, should you give your token to the candidate you like best? Or, if you are pretty sure that that person will already get 30 tokens, should you give it to your second or third choices, who will value it more? And, of course, how important is it simply to be able to say "Candidate Wuffmurf received 124 tokens!" as a show of strength?

We also get five "plank tokens," and can use them as a weighted voting tool. If we hate one plank, we can put all five tokens against that plank. Any planks that receve 20% or more of the outstanding tokens will be put to an up-or-down vote; others will simply be adopted. The platform committee report.

I report, without comment, the following controversy.

Then, there's this. I, apparently, am "chopped liver." One could certainly say, "Munger is no David Nolan," and be right. But David Nolan is going to speak from 9 pm - 11 pm TONIGHT, Thursday, in a much more prominent position. We'll see if he mentions it. That would be delightful. NOT.

And this little tidbit, in the Wall Street Journal.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A Car, A Fish, and Thou Cheating Heart

An ad from Auto Trader (gone by the time I went to link it):

I got this car in Dec 2005 for my new wife 19 and she never got a drivers lic and divorced me in 2007. I never one time drove the car it was damaged and has a rebuilt title. It still needs work because we never complete fixed it. It needs airbags and seatbelts, ( about $500 used ) and the rear battery is not charging due to sitting. If you drive the car it might start charging or you can have a new battery placed in it. I have an extra battery a man sold me. I have an extra engine with 50,000 miles on it I will sell for $300 if u take the car $500 without the car I gave $900 for it. The car needs some paint on doghouse. It has very low mileage and would go 200,000 if fixed more. I got the car to take my cheater wife on trips, but her last trip was with another man so I just drive my new dodge truck & have no need for any car. You can drive the car without the battery working and it might then take charge if the engine forces the charge or the dealer has 144 Volt chargers to try charge it. It gets 61 MPG on the dash reader. It starts and runs good but I never drove it so you might want to tow it home. I am firm on the price. I am 60 years old and have a new wife 20 whos a nurse so she is away doing hospital work and we go no place. She is wife #6 not the one I got the car for. I am going to sell my farm an everything I do not need this car. I have $8000 invested in the car now and need $5000 as I still owe that on the car. No lien on title I got it on credit cards at 30 % interest is why I am selling to cut my interest down. Location is 17 miles west of Bloomington Indiana. Leave a message it will answer LIVE FISH OF INDIANA on the phone.

The guy is 60. His 5th wife was 19. His 6th wife is 20. His voice mail answers "Live Fish of Indiana." My prediction: he had trouble getting the $5,000. Or maybe not, if the 61 mpg (!) estimate is correct.

(Nod to Bayou Jack)

Interview on line

An on-line "interview," with my main man Senor Alvarez Galloso.

Tucker C, Part Deux

So, last night I got ANOTHER call, like the first one. I had never thought of the idea of conducting polling by sampling WITH REPLACEMENT. If you call back people who have already answered, that just has to increase your response rate. In fact, it could be well over 100%. Genius.

Anyway, having just answered the same poll that afternoon, I was ready. The young woman asked if I was a delegate to the Lib Nat Conv. I said yes.

She asked if I had a preference among "the candidates": Mary Ruart, Wayne Allen Root, Bob Barr, Tucker Carlson, and Mike Gravel. (Note, there are several other candidates, so this is an odd list).

I said, after considering ponderously, "I am undecided."

She paused.

I go on..."And in response to your second question, I am STILL undecided. I have not decided in the intervening seven seconds."

She makes a sound, not really words.

Then, I say: "And, ALL of those candidates have excellent Libertarian core values....ESPECIALLY Tucker Carlson."

Poll-taker: "Have you answered these questions before?" (As noted, I knew there were three questions. Who is your first choice for Prez? Who is your second choice for Prez? Which of these candidates just mentioned have solid Libertarian values?)

Me: " ma'am. I have the gift of farsight. In fact, I can tell you right now that there is a spider on your shirt collar."

Poll-taker: (Long pause) "Thanks for answering my questions, and have a nice day."

Apparently, les jeux son fait.

Crime Control Theater: Let's Do SOMETHING, Even If It's Stupid

Child Abduction, AMBER Alert, and Crime Control Theater

Timothy Griffin & Monica Miller
Criminal Justice Review, June 2008, Pages 159-176

Intense interest in disturbing child abductions by the mass media, public safety organizations, and the public has helped sustain a socially constructed mythology and sporadic "moral panic" about the presumed pervasiveness of this threat to children. The result has often been reactionary "memorial" legislation enacted in response to sensational cases. A recent example is the America's Missing Broadcast Emergency Response (AMBER) Alert system, which is designed to interrupt serious child kidnappings in progress by soliciting citizen tips to help officials quickly rescue victims. Drawing on available empirical evidence and theoretical considerations, the authors contend that AMBER Alert has not achieved and probably cannot achieve the ambitious goals that inspired its creation. In fact, AMBER Alert is arguably an example of what could be called crime control theater. It is a socially constructed "solution" to a socially constructed problem, enabling public officials to symbolically address an essentially intractable threat. Despite laudable intentions, AMBER Alert exemplifies how crime control theater can create unintended problems, such as public backlash when the theatrical policy fails and a distorted public discourse about the nature of crime. Considerations for the future of AMBER Alert in particular, and the concept of crime control theater in general, are discussed.

Along those lines, a story in my local paper: a crime control theater hoax.

They even put this up.

Vintage Baseball

Watch the video....

As the Mayor said.

"Pick One, So Ah Know Who Ah'm Votin' Aginst"

(Nod to JP, and thanks!)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Money Discriminates Against the Blind

Federal appeals court: Paper money discriminates against blind people.

So do street lights. Should we turn them all off?

(Nod to KH, who is a Libertarian in deep cover. Or dark color. Or something like that.)

Happy Anniversary to Me

At least it will be in the next week or so and I'll be out of pocket, recharging the old brain on vacation so here goes now.

I've been blogging with Mungo for just about a year and want to say thanks to him for having me, to y'all for reading me, and that I'm looking forward to another fun year when I get back.

While I am gone, Mike has promised to (a) post at least three times a day, (b) use labels, and (c) be nice to John McCain.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Tucker Carlson, Libertarian President Candidate? Really?

Just got a call from a polling firm.

Checking on Lib Prez candidates. Made sure I was a delegate to the national convention.

Guy asks, "Which of the following candidates do you support for Lib Pres nomination?"
(Reads list, including Barr, Gravel, Ruart, and Root. Also includes Tucker Carlson. I figure that Carlson is just a spoiler; he has never said he's a Libertarian, and isn't running for Prez.)

I answer "Undecided," which is true.

Guy asks, "After that first choice, what is your SECOND choice?"

Stunned for a moment, I pause and say, "Still....undecided."

Guy says, "Final question: Which of those candidates would you say has true Libertarian values?"

I'm a big tent guy, so I say: "All of them....EXCEPT Tucker Carlson."

Guy rings off. I am smug, thinking I caught them on their spoiler question.

Except that, Tucker Carlson has apparently decided to think about it. And Carlson may be funding the polling of Lib Nat Conv delegates.

Interesting. All the end of this week, I'll be live-blogging the LP Nat Conv, so stay tuned. It sounds pretty exciting.

UPDATE: Clearly, from comments, I was unclear. Far be it for me to check someone's papers on whether s/he is "really" a libertarian. If Tucker wants in, he's in. More power to him. I was making a mistake more fundamental than that. I thought I was answering based on a spoiler question, the sort of thing that people use to discredit a group. "Look, all these delegates, people who should know better, said that Tucker Carlson was running! What idiots!" I was wrong to do that, because Tucker is in fact considering running. BR points out Tuckers has been saying he's a Libertarian for some time. I just didn't know. In any case, the point is that I was answering a survey in what I thought, wrongly (as usual!), was a clever way. On the merits, sure, Tucker Carlson is a libertarian, and welcome!


The question is good.

The answers, as you'll see, are better.

(Nod to Jo, who could manipulate anyone, but she's got scruples)

It's official....and, a new web site!

Dear Friends:

This is a big night for me.

Because I can announce that, really really, for sure....I am the Libertarian Keynote Speaker for the Libertarian National Convention.

I am splitting the keynote hour with Richard Viguerie, a noted conservative speaker who nearly single-handedly invented direct mail as a political tool. And we are lucky to have Richard there. It will be interesting, and I look forward to hearing him speak.

But....I get to go first!

The title of my speech, which starts at about 2 pm on Friday, is taken from one of my main concerns about Libertarian progress: "What are we for?"

Too often, outsiders perceive us as only being AGAINST things. Well, what are we FOR?

My shot at answering that question. Should be available as a podcast, at least, next week.

Also, a new campaign website. It is still being built. But it looks great, thanks to new campaign webmaster John S.

The Glass Ceiling, and Trying Harder

Queens of the hill: Creative destruction and the emergence of executive
leadership of women

Stacie Furst & Martha Reeves
The Leadership Quarterly, forthcoming

Despite penetrating the middle management ranks of many U.S. businesses, women continue to lag far behind men in their appointments to top leadership positions. Many explanations exist for why the glass ceiling exists, but few theories offer suggestions for how women break through this ceiling. In this paper we propose that the concept of 'creative destruction' can help us understand why some women ascend to leadership positions. Using empirical research and anecdotal evidence from the experiences of several high-profile female executives, we argue that women may rise to leadership positions in turbulent environments that are receptive to new talent and open to innovative, bold ideas. Further, we propose that under these conditions women may be seen as especially attractive candidates to guide organizations because they are perceived to utilize a leadership style that promotes openness and inclusion, and facilitates change.


Gender Differences in Seeking Challenges
: The Role of Institutions

Muriel Niederle & Alexandra Yestrumskas
NBER Working Paper, April 2008

We examine whether women and men of the same ability differ in their decisions to seek challenges. In the laboratory, we create an environment in which we can measure a participants performance level (high or low), where a high performance level participant has on average higher earnings from solving a hard rather than an easy task, and vice versa. After we identify each participant's performance level, they choose the difficulty level (easy or hard) for the next two tasks (only one of which will be chosen for payment). Although there are no gender differences in performance, or beliefs about relative performance, men choose the hard task about 50 percent more frequently than women, independent of performance level. Gender differences in preferences for characteristics of the tasks cannot account for this gender gap. When we allow for a flexible choice, high performing women choose the hard task significantly more often, at a rate now similar to the decision of men. Such a flexible choice makes challenging choices easier when participants are either risk averse, or uncertain about their ability. Our results highlight the role of institution design in affecting choices of women and men, and the resulting gender differences in representation in challenging tasks.

(Nod to KL)

Scraper Bike

Didn't know what a "scraper bike" was.

Now, I do.

Of course, you hyphy fans knew all along. I'm always the last to hear things.

My Kingdom for a Counterfactual!

While reading a post on Dani Rodrik’s blog, I was struck by a phrase he wrote that didn’t really have anything to do with the argument in his post. The phrase that caught my attention was “the phenomenal success of the Bretton Woods Regime”. While 1947-1972 was a successful era for some countries, I wonder how much of any such success can actually be attributed to the Bretton Woods Institutions that "ran" the regime? These institutions are the World Bank (WB), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the International Trade Organization (ITO). Let’s review, shall we?

(1) WB chartered as the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development in 1945 was woefully inadequate for postwar reconstruction. The US initiated the Marshall plan to get done what the WB was supposed to get done. Then, throughout the cold war era, the WB was to a large extent a tool of US foreign policy, propping up authoritarian regimes throughout the developing world. The IDA was created more or less to give concessional loans to countries the IBRD wouldn’t loan to that the US feared would come under Communist sway. Then, post Bretton Woods, there was the sad, sad saga of structural adjustment and the pure comedy gold of every year’s new magic development bullet unveiled in the World Development report. Make no mistake my friends, the WB = epic fail.

(2) IMF- also initiated in 1945 could have only been designed by a committee of international bureaucrats featuring as it did the “adjustable peg”. Countries adjustably pegged to the US dollar which was pegged to gold and convertible into gold. But the system didn’t actually work as planned. The US allowed discrimination against its imports via the European Payments Union until 1958. It wasn’t until 1961 that enough countries finally allowed free convertibility of their currencies for trade purposes for the IMF to certify compliance with Article VIII of its charter. Two years later, the amount of dollars held by foreign monetary authorities became larger than the amount of gold held by the US (i.e. the Triffin Paradox started to bind) and with capital flows starting to roll, the handwriting was on the wall. After the spectacular collapse of the system it was entrusted to manage, the IMF got into the development business and the financial rescue business with equally good results. A suggested slogan for the IMF: “We make the WB look good”.

(3) The ITO. Never came into being. Stillborn. Clearly the least unsuccessful of the Bretton Woods Institutions.

Flat out-all out serious here, people. These attempts at central planning on a global scale were spectacular failures and the vestigial ghosts of them that remain today should be abolished.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The second funniest stuff I read today

Comes from the website of the hotel ( The Palissandre) where we are spending our first night in Madagascar before heading out into the countryside:

From its terrace overlooking the Madagascar capital, the restaurant "La Table des Hautes Terres" makes it a point to honour the tasty local specialties as well as fine French cook. You can choose from a menu or individual dishes. The Bar "the Amphora" invites you to taste delicious cocktails in a felted decoration.

I *can't* wait!!

Hobo Has Operation; Mr. 2T Sad

Old fat Hobo, wonderdog of the Munger house, had to have a rather serious operation. It did not go well, but he should recover enough to become once again the terror of dry dog food.

Mr. 2T, on hearing the news, was understandably bereft. Mr. 2T is nothing if not loyal.

Say What?? -- Bob Shiller plunges into the deep end of the pool

In his Sunday's NY Times op-ed, "The Scars of Losing a Home", we find the following passage:

Homeownership is fundamental part of a sense of belonging to a country. The psychologist William James wrote in 1890 that “a man’s Self is the sum total of all that he CAN call his, not only his body and his psychic powers, but his clothes and his house, his wife and children, his ancestors and friends, his reputation and works, his lands and horses, and yacht and bank account.”

Homeownership is thus an extension of self; if one owns a part of a country, one tends to feel at one with that country. Policy makers around the world have long known that, and hence have supported the growth of homeownership.

What? Holy Crap, people, "belonging to a country"? Homeownership is about political indoctrination?

And man, where did that quote come from? we are making an argument based on one sentence of opinion by some dude from the 1890s?

Even granting the premise "homeownership is an extension of self" (whatever that may mean), it in no way implies, proves or relates to what's cooking up in the second clause of that sentence.

If I could summarize, the argument appears to be this: some guy 118 years ago said your home is part of your self and that proves that owning a home gives you solidarity with your country, so we should bail out the foreclosees before they become unpatriotic.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Epic Fail

It's failure and sadness all the way around in this story from Inside Higher Ed about Prof. Steve Aird and Norfolk State University.

No one seems to dispute that Aird was denied tenure for failing too many students. How many is too many? Well many professors at Norfolk State say that there is a clear expectation from administrators — in particular from Dean Sandra J. DeLoatch, the dean whose recommendation turned the tide against Aird’s tenure bid — that 70 percent of students should pass.

Now that seems more than a little nuts, to have a quota. However, Aird wasn't just marginally below quota:

The review listed various courses, with remarks such as: “At the end of Spring 2004, 22 students remained in Dr. Aird’s CHM 100 class. One student earned a grade of ‘B’ and all others, approximately 95 percent, earned grades between ‘D’ and ‘F.’” Or: “At the end of Fall 2005, 38 students remained in Dr. Aird’s BIO 100 class. Four students earned a grade of ‘C-’ or better and 34, approximately 89 percent, received D’s and F’s.”

These class records resulted in the reason cited for tenure denial: “the core problem of the overwhelming failure of the vast majority of the students he teaches, especially since the students who enroll in the classes of Dr. Aird’s supporters achieve a greater level of success than Dr. Aird’s students.”

So I gotta say that this is more than a little nuts too. If you are consistently failing a majority of your students, you are in the wrong place. One can argue that the institution should be reformed or disbanded, but as an employee you cannot take it upon yourself to create an entirely separate mini-world.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Why no one will hire Avery Johnson

Alternative title: Why Josh Howard smokes the weed!!

Cost Estimates of the Petition Drive Experience

Estimates of the costs of the petition method for qualifying parties:

1. Cost to the party
a. $134,000 in cash
b. 2,200 hours of additional volunteer time, above and beyond time spent by paid petitioners
c. 250 hours of additional administrative time, planning drives and raising funds
d. 10,000 individual pieces of paper. That’s more than 20 reams of paper, or 400 pounds!

2. Cost to the taxpayers of North Carolina
a. Processing costs for county clerks, who must check the validity of every signature: 4,000 hours! That’s more than 160 person-days of time that county clerks have to spend on this task. And that is assuming only 2 minutes per signature. Some take 5, or even 10, minutes to verify each signature.
b. Since the process keeps most parties out completely, the real cost to taxpayers is democracy. No choices, no new ideas, and no competition in a system that could surely use it. Nearly half of the seats in the General Assembly will be unopposed again this year because we have had to spend all our resources on this bizarre exercise instead of recruiting candidates and campaigning.

We turned in the SIGNATURES! We did it!

We turned in the signatures!!

Loading up....I forget sometimes that I am rather larger than most people.

The media awaits! WRAL did a nice job, and so did WPTF. More than fair coverage.

(photo credits: Tom Howe)

Is Argentina going to implode again?

Even without the help of the IMF? Jack Chang, in his blog "Inside South America" says maybe so:

Local media report that people are buying up dollars for fear that the peso could slide again and that the government will respond by freezing bank accounts, like it did in the bad old days. Government officials have denied any such measures are in the works, but people don't seem to be listening. The country's central bank recently had to inject $1 billion in dollars into the banking system to counter the bank rush.

Other evidence: In the capital of Buenos Aires, a poll by the Public Opinion Center of the University of Belgrano found that 69 percent of respondents believed another crash was "very probable," with 41 percent believing it could be triggered by inflation.

Which leads to the factors. First there's the protracted battle between President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and the country's farming sector, the main economic engine here, over higher export taxes imposed on soybeans and sunflowers in March. Farmers have blocked roads and withheld production to protest the higher taxes, and as the conflict drags on, the risk to the economy grows.

Then, there's inflation, which the government says hovers around 8 percent annually but which economists estimate is as much as three times that number. And a more recent factor, the Argentine peso is weakening against the dollar, a decline that bucks the worldwide trend. This morning, the peso was trading at 3.18 to the dollar.

Bloomberg has further coverage of the Argentine farmers' protests and notes that President Fernandez's popularity is falling to de la Rua levels (i.e. getting run out of office levels).

Wow, it seems that the only things worse than the results of orthodox policies in Latin America are the results of heterodox policies in Latin America.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

McCain gets one thing right and HRC goes mental!

John McCain had the guts to say he would veto the current farm bill thus making an almost infinite increase in the number of sensible things he's said lately, but Hill's having none of it:

"I believe saying no to the farm bill is saying no to rural America."

"When Bear Stearns needed assistance, we stepped in with a $30 billion package. But when our farmers need help, all they get from Senator McCain and President Bush is a veto threat," Clinton said.

Holy Crap! Do high food prices hurt farmers? I thought low food prices hurt them? Is there anything on this planet that could possibly happen that wouldn't hurt the American farmer?

With moves like this, how could John Edwards not have endorsed her?

Okay, this is true

Okay, so this guy has a point.

UPDATE: As Jerry Cruncher notes rightly, in comments, this is really a hoax, along these lines.

An interesting perspective on our inability to forecast exchange rate movements

25 years ago Meese and Rogoff showed that exchange rate changes were largely unforecastable. This result continues to hold. Now Flood and Rose say, Don't worry, be happy because we can't forecast aggregative stock index changes either (I am not making this up).

Their paper is called "Why so glum? The Meese-Rogoff methodology meets the stock market"

Here is a link. Here is the abstract:

This paper applies the Meese-Rogoff (1983a) methodology to the stock market. We compare the out-of-sample forecasting accuracy of various time-series and fundamentals-based models of aggregate stock prices. We stick as close as possible to the original Meese-Rogoff sample and methodology. Just as Meese and Rogoff found for the case of exchange rates, we find that a random walk model of stock prices performs as well as any estimated model at one to twelve
month horizons, even though we base forecasts on actual future fundamentals of dividends and earnings. Using this metric and for this sample period, aggregate stock prices seem to be as difficult to model empirically as exchange rates.

Note that saying a random walk model works best means that the best predictor of tomorrow's price is today's price which means price changes are not forecastable.

I think more disciplines should adopt this trend. Math guys could write papers saying hey, don't worry that we can't prove conjecture X, we can't prove conjecture Y either!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

hat tip to LOL President

Edwards Endorses Obama

Ex-Senator, and ex-VP candidate John Edwards endorses Barak Obama.

Explosion at Duke

Steam explosion at Duke.

One dead.

Oz: where men are men and children are projectiles!

People, the Associated Press is putting me out of business:

DARWIN, Australia - An Australian man has been fined after buckling in a case of beer with a seat belt but leaving a 5-year-old child to sit on the car's floor, police said Tuesday.

Constable Wayne Burnett said he was "shocked and appalled" when he pulled over the unregistered car Friday in the central Australian town of Alice Springs.

The 30-can beer case was strapped in between two adults sitting in the back seat of the car. The child was also in back, but on the car's floor.

"The child was sitting in the lump in the center, unrestrained," Burnett told reporters Tuesday.

"I haven't ever seen something like this before," he said. "This is the first time that the beer has taken priority over a child.

Judging from that last statement, I guess Constable Burnett doesn't get out and about much.

Vote for McCain, or else.......

pro-cyclical fiscal policy....

(it's not just for Latin America anymore people)

In discussions of fiscal policy, a number of lags are important. The recognition lag is the time between when a problem starts and when we know it has started. The implementation lag is the time between when we realize there is problem and when we get an action through the political system. The impact lag is the time between when the action is taken and when the effect of the action is felt.

If these lags are too long, then the policy action risks being pro-cyclical rather than counter cyclical, which is to say it will hit the economy after the downswing is over.

That certainly seems to be the case for the US now, at least based on the following:

1. recession probabilities have faded:

According to Intrade, the probability peaked at 75% in mid April and had declined to below 30% in early May....

2. just when the stimulus checks are arriving:

For Social Security numbers ending in 00 through 09, the paper checks will be mailed starting May 9 and will continue through May 16. A similar process will be repeated in the following weeks.

Even in this super-fast, super-charged, election year political atmosphere(which produced a negative recognition lag???), the policy will probably be procyclical and thus put more upward pressure on prices.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

And this helped you exactly how???

In 2004, well known coach choker Latrell Sprewell spurned a 3 year 20 million $ plus contract from the Minnesota T-Wolves as woefully insufficient saying that "I have my family to feed" (you can buy the t-shirt here).

He has been out of the league since the end of that season.

Today, karma came calling again with the news that Spree's house is being repossessed. His 70 foot yacht was sold off at auction back in January.

This is pretty close to Darwin award behavior, innit?

Hat tip to TC

Grading is over, the Semester is done, &

Clinton's Farewell Speech?

I did NOT make this comparison. To Hitler.

I laughed at it. But I did not make it.

What I do in my spare time

Collect art.

Here are the artists we are currently collecting at Chez Angus:

Souther Salazar
Billy Woolway
Joe Garcia
Manuel Castro Leñero
Floyd Kuptana
Maudie Ohiktook
Antoine Oleyant
Lynda Barry

Here is the latest piece we got; it's by Joe Garcia:

Here is how I collect art:

"hey honey, have you seen this piece? It's only $XXX. What do you think? What if I could get them down to .8*$XXX? Well what about this one? Who do you like better? Shouldn't we get them both? What do you think?"

Monday, May 12, 2008

The 4% Solution

Rasmussen puts the NC Gov race as follows:
McCrory 45%
Perdue 39%
Munger 4%

The "favorables", according to the report:

McCrory is viewed favorably by 56% and unfavorably by 29%. Perdue’s ratings are 50% favorable, 41% unfavorable. Munger is less known, earning favorable ratings from 24%, unfavorable ratings from 35% and 41% who are not sure.

As Buck Owens and Dwight Yoakum put it, "They don't know me, but they don't like me..." I'll have to work to change that.

Which puts in mind the Sam Cooke song, covered by many: If I can meet I can get, but yet I haven't met 'em. That's why I'm in the state I'm in.

(Nod to the Madman)

Ron Paul rides to Mungowitz' Rescue!

Yes Mungowitz' McCainophobia is being treated by Dr. Ron Paul, according to the LA Times:

quietly, largely under the radar of most people, the forces of Rep. Ron Paul have been organizing across the country to stage an embarrassing public revolt against Sen. John McCain when Republicans gather for their national convention in Minnesota at the beginning of September. In the last three months, Paul's forces, who donated $34.5 million to his White House effort and upward of a million total votes, have, as The Ticket has noted, been fighting a series of guerrilla battles with party establishment officials at county and state conventions from Washington and Missouri to Maine and Mississippi. Their goal: to take control of local committees, boost their delegate totals and influence platform debates. They hope to demonstrate their disagreements with McCain vocally at the convention through platform fights and an attempt to get Paul a prominent speaking slot. Paul, who's running unopposed in his home Texas district for an 11th House term, still has some $5 million in war funds and has instructed his followers that their struggle is not about a single election, but a long-term revolution for control of the Republican Party.

Now personally, I'm guessing this will be about as successful as his presidential campaign, but it least it gives my boy Mungowitz some hope in these dark hours.

Hat tip to Steven Taylor!

Memo To John Hood

Memo to John Hood:

Keep ON MESSAGE, please.

(Background: RT Beckwith, who apparently has a direct connection with the sinister forces of darkness, reveals a speculative truth.

In particular, and I quote: "If Mike Gravel wins anywhere: Hysteria. Reporters wander around in a daze. Pollsters jump out second-story windows. Bloggers say they saw it coming all along. Plagues of locusts swarm the earth. A third of Democratic voters turn red. Mike Munger reveals he is the anti-Christ."

Now, Beckwith may have good sources, and he may have heard this rumor. But it was just a RUMOR, ferBev'ssake. But.....But.....But: John Hood goes ahead in comments and CONFIRMS the rumor:

Uh, Ryan, didn't you already know that about Munger? It's not like he tries to hide it or anything.

Now, see, that's just wrong. I remember that meeting of the Dark League, and John Hood was sitting right in the front row, between Hitler and Coach K, an "all hands" gathering of the forces of the Dark League. And we were TOLD not to confirm my nomination for Anti-Christ.

Oh, well. Just as long as no one reveals that Bev Perdue was chairing the meeting, I suppose we're okay. So, Hood, you blabbermouth, ixnay on the Erduepay is Atansay, okay?

Everybody will be kung-fu fighting

In getting ready to go to Madagascar, one of the most surprising things Mrs. Angus and I have learned in our reading is that the country is kung-fu crazy!

According to the BBC:

Kung fu primarily appeals to Madagascar's middle class youth of both sexes, with some students beginning as young as four. But it also has a following in the older sections of society.

"Ministers, doctors, lawyers, and especially priests all practise kung fu," explains Charles Andriamihaja, the president of the AAKUFUMA Kung Fu Society of Madagascar.

The discipline hit the island in the 1970s and was a factor in protests against the authoritarian rule of President Ratsiraka, who banned its practice.

Current President Ravalomanana is a whole other story though. He has his own voluntary kung-fu security detail (at least he did in 2002). Here's how one local practitioner describes his prez:

"Ravalomanana reflects the ideology of the kung fu and that is why we must protect him,"

Ellie Rajaonarison (a Malagasy poet) breaks it down for us:

"The kung fu movement was about protecting people,"

"Kung fu fighters today occupy something of a mystical space in the Madagascan psyche because of their strength and power and for what they stood up for during the 1980s."

Thank goodness me and Mrs. Angus practiced Tae Kwon Do for a couple years. We'll be aiight.

Kyoto, Shmyoto: China Dwarfs It!

Forecasting the path of China's CO2 emissions using province-level

Maximilian Auffhammer & Richard Carson
Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, May 2008, Pages 229-247

Our results suggest that the anticipated path of China's carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions has dramatically increased over the last five years. The magnitude of the projected increase in Chinese emissions out to 2010 is several times larger than reductions embodied in the Kyoto Protocol. Our estimates are based on a unique provincial-level panel data set from the Chinese Environmental Protection Agency. This data set contains considerably more information relevant to the path of likely Chinese greenhouse gas emissions than national level time series currently in use. Model selection criteria clearly reject the popular static environmental Kuznets curve specification in favor of a class of dynamic models with spatial dependence.

(nod to KL)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Models: If they predict, they are useful

Regarding the earlier post on soccer and national personalities.....

An acquaintance of an acquaintance who used to work for it the "Foreign Service" sends this followup:

"Did I ever tell you that we used to measure the mood of Croatians toward their government through their behavior at soccer matches? That is one of the few places they had the en masse courage to chant anti-government slogans. We also counted the number of cops beat up after the game."

A perfect new variable, though hard to collect, in predicting revolutions: The number of cops with bloody noses after soccer matches.

A Long Distance Fan

As I blogged on the campaign blog, a long distance fan.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The A-holes fight back

No doubt stung by my attacks, the Burmese Generals have launched a huge image upgrade campaign consisting of printing their names in large letters on the aid packages coming in from abroad. No, I am not making this up:

Myanmar's military regime distributed international aid Saturday but plastered the boxes with the names of top generals in an apparent effort to turn the relief effort for last week's devastating cyclone into a propaganda exercise...State-run television continuously ran images of top generals — including the junta leader, Senior Gen. Than Shwe — handing out boxes of aid to survivors at elaborate ceremonies. One box bore the name of Lt. Gen. Myint Swe, a rising star in the government hierarchy, in bold letters that overshadowed a smaller label reading: "Aid from the Kingdom of Thailand."

"We have already seen regional commanders putting their names on the side of aid shipments from Asia, saying this was a gift from them and then distributing it in their region," said Mark Farmaner, director of Burma Campaign UK, which campaigns for human rights and democracy in the country. "It is not going to areas where it is most in need," he said in London.

The George Bush Story:

Coming soon to a theatre near you!!!!

Friday, May 09, 2008

Come Upstairs, and See the Size of My Alpha

Can individuals beat the market? Consistently?

Apropos the recent question about Warren Buffet, I mean. (Buffet, of course, has access to someone named "Munger," which gives Buffet a huge advantage....)

Paulville part deux....

Some more on Paulville....

(Yes, it's a joke. You may, or may not, find it funny....)

The Federal Bee-reau of Apiation

Bees, externalities, and the "custom of the orchard."

You'll like it.

Warren Buffet and Efficient Market Theory

Can Warren Buffet make money? Consistently?

Or is he like an ace fighter pilot?

(Nod to El Zorno, who can make money disappear)

Darned "Elite Economists"

Do you think that she means, by "elite," that they can add, subtract, and read complete sentences?

An Unfortunate Truth

"[Obama's] first instinct -- the academic instinct -- is to explain and analyze, which is impressive to political writers who share that particular vocation. But this approach always places the explainer in a position of superiority...The issue of the lapel flag pin is a good illustration. Obama's explanation for its absence -- that it had become a 'substitute' for 'true patriotism' in the aftermath of Sept. 11 -- is perfectly rational. For a professor at the University of Chicago. ...A president is expected to be a patriotic symbol himself, not the arbiter of patriotic symbols. He is supposed to be the face-painted superfan at every home game; to wear red, white and blue boxers on special marital occasions; to get misty-eyed during the most obscure patriotic hymns." [Gerson, WP op-ed]

(nod to KL)

Political Violence Produces Soccer VIolence

National Cultures and Soccer Violence

Edward Miguel, Sebastián Saiegh & Shanker Satyanath
NBER Working Paper, March 2008

Can some acts of violence be explained by a society's "culture"? Scholars have found it hard to empirically disentangle the effects of culture, legal institutions, and poverty in driving violence. We address this problem by exploiting a natural experiment offered by the presence of thousands of international soccer (football) players in the European professional leagues. We find a strong relationship between the history of civil conflict in a player's home country and his propensity to behave violently on the soccer field, as measured by yellow and red cards. This link is robust to region fixed effects, country characteristics (e.g., rule of law, per capita income), player characteristics (e.g., age, field position, quality), outliers, and team fixed effects. Reinforcing our claim that we isolate cultures of violence rather than simple rule-breaking or something else entirely, there is no meaningful correlation between a player's home country civil war history and soccer performance measures not closely related to violent conduct.