Sunday, June 29, 2008

Actually, I no longer think this is very funny

Ryan Teague Beckwith, a fine guy who has treated the Libertarians perfectly fairly, is finding all this a little too funny, I think.

Check this.

Now, my response can be found here. And I'm not laughing. I am pretty angry. This is just not right.

UPDATE: Ryan noted I had misspelled his name. My apologies. I'm waiting for my apology from the state, for violating the stated will of more than 100,000 NC citizens for Libertarian registration to be an option.

Suing the Sun in Chicago

Email from Angry Sensible Man:

This is from the Chronicle of Higher Ed. What is this world coming to? Everyone needs a personal lawyer.

New Tune on Campus: Take Me Out to the Ballgame, and Bring My Lawyer

In Evanston, Ill., the great American pastime of baseball is being displaced by the threat of another popular American sport ? litigation.

Since 2000, Northwestern University has allowed children’s baseball teams from nearby communities to use its Rocky Miller Park for games.

But the university recently told the American Legion-sponsored baseball clubs in Evanston and Wilmette, Ill., that they were no longer welcome because the parents of a young pitcher were threatening a lawsuit, reports the Pioneer Local, a local newspaper.

The parents were concerned about the safety of the park because the sun shines into the eyes of the pitcher.

In a message to the ballclubs, Northwestern’s assistant athletics director of facilities, Scott Arey, wrote, “Unfortunately, Northwestern University is not able to do anything to mitigate the sun’s effect on the vision of the pitcher, so we have made the unfortunate decision that we can no longer safely host these games.” ?Eric Kelderman

Oh, The Places We Will Go!

Wow. Amazing. This guy thinks that all we need to do is study sociology, and the government will work better.


All we need to do is study public choice, and STOP USING GOVERNMENT FOR THINGS IT CAN'T DO, like create "justice" in income. And government would work better.

Behavioral Decision Research, Legislation, and Society: Three Cases

Max Bazerman
Capitalism and Society, March 2007

"There is little doubt that the field of economics has had a much greater influence on government policy in Washington and in other world capitals than have the other social sciences (Bazerman and Malhotra, 2006). In terms of influence, the economists have won. Unfortunately, government policies have led to millions of jobs and tens of millions of retirement plans being lost to accounting scandals, the commercial extinction of the majority of the world's large fisheries, the needless deaths of thousands of Americans each year because of the stupidity of the U.S. organ donation system, and numerous other inefficiencies (Bazerman and Malhotra, 2006). Economic logic lies behind each of these disasters, without the input needed from other
informative social sciences. The stories in this article extend this argument to claim that the failure of courts and policymakers to be informed about other social sciences (in this case, behavioral decision research) leads to the corruption of policy-formulation process and low-quality outcomes for society. Creating wise policies in society requires us to incorporate a modern understanding of unconscious or unintentional processes in decision making. For far too long, the unconscious has been associated with psychological perspectives that have not stood up well to empirical testing (e.g., Freudian psychology). Currently, a very different approach to understanding the human mind has been developed by rigorous scientists, who
have confirmed the importance of unconscious or unintentional processes (Banaji et al., 2004). Leaders must consider how the institutions that they create affect both intentional and unintentional bases of misconduct.

Without such attention to these forces, it is far too easy to accept the institutions that drive unethical behavior despite the absence of what is traditionally viewed as an unethical act. When creating policy, we need to apply sound social science logic and use the best empirical data to assess what is likely to occur under different policies. Far too often, we accept the status quo (Baron, 1998), particularly if economic theory (lacking data) can show that it is feasible that the status quo is acceptable. In policy-making domains, this feasibility test should be replaced with the broader question of where the preponderance of the evidence lies.

Furthermore, this evidence should come from a variety of social sciences. We should give the current state of a policy issue far less weight, as it is clear that enormous inefficiencies exist in so many current policies (Bazerman et al., 2001; Baron). In each of the three stories in this paper, I believe that government decision-makers overweighed a simplistic version of economic theory. In the auditor story, the SEC misapplied the logic of cost-benefit analysis and failed to make the appropriate changes needed to create auditor independence. In the antitrust story, the pharmaceutical firms attempted to justify their behavior by showing that economic theory could be contorted to explain their deal in a manner that did not restrain trade. Finally, in the tobacco story, the prevailing belief in pure economic theory was used to mount a Daubert challenge to the use of behavioral decision research. Ample evidence suggests that economic theory plays a central role in the policy-formulation process. It is unfortunate that it does so to the exclusion of useful information from other social sciences.

Milton Friedman argued that unrealistic assumptions in economic theory do not matter as long as economic theory predicts behavior, and that economic theory does a pretty good job of predicting behavior (Friedman, 1953). The problem is that other social sciences have advanced to the extent that we now know of systematic patterns when we can adjust economic theory to make better predictions, yet decision-makers are not using this knowledge from other social sciences sufficiently. Economists too often counter that their theory has rigor (i.e., it is formalized) and explains all behavior, as compared to other social sciences that have diverse theories for different contexts (Ferraro et al., 2006). In the perceived battle between economics
and the other social sciences, it often appears that economics wins. Yet when harder physical scientists look at economics, they typically are deeply critical of the illogic of building formalizations on faulty assumptions (Beinhocker, 2006). The debate about the appropriateness of using different theories should depend on our purpose. If our goal is the scientific pursuit of a single theory to explain all human behavior, economic theory and evolutionary theory are doing pretty well. If our goal is to make specific predictions in specific contexts, we know of many contexts in which behavioral decision research and other social sciences regularly outperform
economic theory. And if we want to create optimal public policy, we clearly need to combine economic theory with useful insights from many other fields."

(Nod to KL, who already works better)

Bill Rhoden gets it badly wrong

with his fevered obeisance to to the bizarre god of a college education. He praises Joe Dumars to the skies for going back and getting his college degree last month and makes him into a role model for all the up and coming young'uns who don't care at all about college. This is strange in several ways. First Dumars went to college for 4 years. He could have graduated in that time. He didn't leave school early and presumably he didn't have too many credits to go for his degree. Second, Joe Dumars is one of the top 5 executives in all of sports. He didn't need a college degree to do his job better than almost anyone else. The true message of the Joe Dumars saga is "don't sweat getting a degree"!!! Third, Joe got his sheepskin via internet classes. I have to be brutally honest here: that is code for saying Joe didn't have to do much work or learn very much to get those credits. Sure there may be some exceptions but e-learning is an oxymoron on par with jumbo shrimp and military intelligence.

Rhoden then tries to apply his version of the lesson from Dumars to the young'uns:

In the N.B.A. draft on Thursday, college freshmen made up the first three picks for the first time. Five of the first seven players selected were freshmen, also a first.

The N.B.A. can spin that any way it pleases, but it exposes a disconnect. Most of these young players, forced to attend college because of the N.B.A.’s minimum age requirement (19) and its condition that eligible players be at least a year removed from high school, are not close to graduating and probably aren’t thinking about going back.

One year in college isn’t the answer either, and a growing number of people inside the lawyer-run N.B.A. know it.

They know, as Dumars came to understand, that it’s fine to have photo ops in which players read books to young people. But how can you preach the value of an education if you don’t value it enough to return to college to finish what you began?

Beginning immediately, scrupulous agents should insist that as a condition of taking them on as clients, athletes should be willing to take courses toward a degree within three years of signing their first contract.

Commissioner David Stern was ferocious in the pursuit of a minimum-age limit. If the N.B.A. really cares about the long-term welfare of its young incoming athletes, it will push for a rule that makes young players move without the ball toward a degree.

Call it the Dumars rule: better late than never at all.

He is actually calling for mandatory post-secondary continuing education for all non-degreed NBA players! Could there be a weirder and less necessary cause to get fired up about? And why? I guess so the league won't seem hypocritical when it runs pro education PSAs and to protect young players from exploitation?

To protect players, how about the NBA licensing agents, or having mandatory financial planning classes for rookies. In terms of the league currently being hypocritical in preaching education, has our public school system fallen so far that literacy requires a college degree? Really?

Friday, June 27, 2008

The World's Greatest Instrument is still a Gibson Les Paul!

and not (as some would have it) settler mortality.

So says David Albouy in his new NBER working paper (which is on its second revision at the AER).

Here is the abstract:

In a seminal contribution, Acemoglu, Johnson, and Robinson (2001) argue property-rights institutions powerfully affect national income, using estimated mortality rates of early European settlers to instrument capital expropriation risk. However 36 of the 64 countries in their sample are assigned mortality rates from other countries, typically based on mistaken or conflicting evidence. Also, incomparable mortality rates from populations of laborers, bishops, and soldiers – often on campaign – are combined in a manner favoring their hypothesis. When these data issues are controlled for, the relationship between mortality and expropriation risk lacks robustness, and instrumental-variable estimates become unreliable, often with infinite confidence intervals.

The AJR paper has been very influential, so this paper is potentially very important and well worth reading (here is a link to an ungated version).

The indictment is strong. Here are some details:

The historical sources containing information on mortality rates during colonial times are
thin, which makes constructing a series of potential European settler mortality rates challenging. AJR construct their series by combining the mortality rates of soldiers (Curtin 1989, 1998), laborers (Curtin 1995), and bishops (Gutierrez 1986). Researchers have been eager to use this new series, particularly given its promise as an instrumental variable for institutions. Currently, over twenty published articles, and many more working papers, use AJR’s settler mortality data. This paper argues that despite AJR’s ingenuity and diligence, there are a number of reasons to doubt the reliability and comparability of their European settler mortality rates and the conclusions which depend on them. First, out of 64 countries in their sample, only 28 countries have mortality rates that originate from within their own borders. The other 36 countries in the sample are assigned rates based on AJR’s conjectures as to which countries have similar disease environments. These assignments are based on weak and sometimes inaccurate foundations. Six assignments are based upon AJR’s misunderstanding of former names of countries in Africa. Another sixteen assignments are based on a questionable use of bishop mortality data in Latin America from Gutierrez (1986), which are based on 19 deaths. Additionally, AJR use the bishop rates multiplied by a factor of 4.25, a procedure that appears to contradict evidence in their own sources. At a minimum, the sharing of mortality rates across countries requires that statistics be corrected for clustering (Moulton, 1990). This correction noticeably reduces the significance of AJR’s results. If, in the hope of reducing measurement error, AJR’s 36 conjectured mortality rates are dropped from the sample, the empirical relationship between expropriation risk and mortality rates weakens substantially, particularly in the presence of additional covariates. Second, AJR’s mortality rates never come from actual European settlers, although some settler rates are available in their sources. Instead, AJR’s rates come primarily from European and American soldiers in the nineteenth century. In some countries, AJR use rates from soldiers at peace in barracks, while in others, they use rates from soldiers on campaign. Soldiers on
campaign typically have higher mortality from disease, and AJR use campaign rates more often in countries with greater expropriation risk and lower GDP. Thus, AJR’s measures of mortality artificially favor their hypothesis. In a few countries, AJR use the maximum mortality rates of African laborers, although these do not appear comparable with average soldier mortality rates. Controlling for the source of the mortality rates weakens the empirical relationship between expropriation risk and mortality rates substantially. Furthermore, if these controls are added and the conjectured data are removed, the relationship virtually disappears. Additional data provided by AJR in their Response (2005) do not restore this relationship.

Lyndon Johnson bared his scars....

...and so did Andy Roddick:

Q. Last year when you talked to us here in this room after your last match you were pretty distraught. What is your feeling right now?

ANDY RODDICK: Uhm, you know, pretty distraught. But, I mean, you know, probably I don't know what I am. Uhm, probably just disappointed.

You know, I literally I mean, you know, any chance I got I pretty much just choked it. So, you know, that's tough to deal with, and that's not something that you really want to do, you know.

So that's probably that's disappointing, you know. It's not an easy thing to say, but it's pretty much what happened.

I could sit here and try to dance around it all night, but, I mean, you guys watched it. It was what it was. It's like you want something so bad you almost squeeze too tight.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Jon Wertheim joins the club

The Angus Anti-Djokovic Club:

You just can't call out the five-time defending champ and then go out in straight sets on the third day of the tournament. I thought Djokovic played a lazy -- dare we even say cowardly? -- match. Bad body language, little tactical adjustments, a symbolic double-fault on match point.

Full article is here.

Link to My Keynote Speech, in its Entirety

Finally, a link to a video of the keynote speech I gave in Denver. I think I posted it before, but people were still asking....

A step in the right direction: Even George Will gets it!

Yes, even Georgie "the sexual intellectual" Will knows that it's nuts to not raise the limits on visas for skilled foreigners:

The semiconductor industry's problem is entangled with a subject about which the loquacious presidential candidates are reluctant to talk -- immigration, specifically that of highly educated people. Concerning whom, U.S. policy should be: A nation cannot have too many such people, so send us your Ph.D.s yearning to be free.

Instead, U.S. policy is: As soon as U.S. institutions of higher education have awarded you a Ph.D., equipping you to add vast value to the economy, get out. Go home. Or to Europe, which is responding to America's folly with "blue cards" to expedite acceptance of the immigrants America is spurning.

Two-thirds of doctoral candidates in science and engineering in U.S. universities are foreign-born. But only 140,000 employment-based green cards are available annually, and 1 million educated professionals are waiting -- often five or more years -- for cards. Congress could quickly add a zero to the number available, thereby boosting the U.S. economy and complicating matters for America's competitors.

Suppose a foreign government had a policy of sending workers to America to be trained in a sophisticated and highly remunerative skill at American taxpayers' expense, and then forced these workers to go home and compete against American companies. That is what we are doing because we are too generic in defining the immigrant pool.

Barack Obama and other Democrats are theatrically indignant about U.S. companies that locate operations outside the country. But one reason Microsoft opened a software development center in Vancouver is that Canadian immigration laws allow Microsoft to recruit skilled persons it could not retain under U.S. immigration restrictions. Mr. Change We Can Believe In is not advocating the simple change -- that added zero -- and neither is Mr. Straight Talk.

John McCain's campaign Web site has a spare statement on "immigration reform" that says nothing about increasing America's intake of highly qualified immigrants. Obama's site says only: "Where we can bring in more foreign-born workers with the skills our economy needs, we should." "Where we can"? We can now.

Solutions to some problems are complex; removing barriers to educated immigrants is not.

A Step in the Right Direction: Bob Barr is MY Guy for Prez

Since Angus and I have in the past disagreed about John McCain, perhaps it is not surprising that we also disagree about Bob Barr. (I should note that Angus really only claims that McCain is easily the best of the available candidates, not some kind of ideal.)

I have discussed this a bit elsewhere, as some have noticed.

But, in regards to Angus' questions (which, I should note, are perfectly fair questions):

1. Ron Paul has said he would have supported the Defense of Marriage Act, for the same federalism reasons as Bob Barr. And, I have heard Bob's discussion of this at the LP Convention, AND have talked to him about it at length in private. It is quite clear to me that he wants the federal government out of the "regulation of marriage" business, and that is at least a step in the right direction; it's a libertarian position. If some folks think it isn't libertarian ENOUGH, they are entitled to their views. But many of those folks aren't registered to vote, and don't consider the Libertarian Party to be anything important anyway.

2. As for the immigration/English only question, it is fair to say that the LP is divided on this issue. LOTS of libertarians, and some Libertarians (big L), agree with the idea that we need to control immigration. It happens that I would be for open borders as an ideal, and anything closer to that as a policy direction. But I get LOTS of argument about this, from voters. In fact, a lot of voters who would otherwise support me tell me they CAN'T, because of my stance on immigration. So, while Barr's view is different from mine, there are LOTS of Libertarians who agree, and it is a clear vote winner.

Look, the most the Libertarian Party has ever gotten was 1.1%, in 1980. And, as I have said before, I clearly remember that Angus CLAIMED to have voted for Ed Clark that year, though of course it may have been a jest. If in fact the Libertarians got 5% this year, that would make a HUGE difference in many ways, at every level.

Bob Barr is my man. I have already contributed twice, and plan to max out my contributions, up to the limit prescribed by law.

For more details on Bob's position, and whether a check of the record says he's a Libertarian, check this very fine post.

Amazing: There Really IS a Second Amendment, Virginia!!

Cool. The Court read the Constitution. Wow.

Is Micheal Beasley really a "clown" and if so does it matter?

Adrian Wojnarowski, via an anonymous "respected NBA source" throws Micheal Beasley WAY underneath the bus on the morning of draft day.

“He’s almost always talking, and almost never on time,” the respected basketball official said. “If he’s on time, he’ll be the last one to show up. And he’s always got a question. He’ll ask a lot of questions because he wants people to think he’s paying attention – because he’s not paying attention.

“He’s not a bad kid, but I do think he makes similar decisions as bad ones do. He isn’t malicious, or even disrespectful, but he makes the dumb decisions that bad people make.”

Beasley is the best talent in the draft. There isn’t a close second. Whatever people want to say about Memphis point guard Derrick Rose, he won’t win the honor of the No. 1 pick in Thursday night’s draft as much as Beasley will blow it. Beasley is a long, 6-foot-8½ , responsible for a surreal 26.2 points and 12.4 rebounds as a Kansas State freshman, and he still hasn’t made a convincing case to Chicago and Miami.

Beasley has done little to change minds in his meetings with the two teams. For everything his AAU coach and agent did to carefully control his college environment, his path to the pros, they’ve struggled to polish Beasley’s image. There were six high schools and relentlessly foolish stunts and an attitude of indifference and clownery everywhere but the basketball court. After months of probing him, Beasley was strangely amused by what the Bulls and Heat officials were most interested in discovering about him.

In my opinion, the only crazy thing would be not drafting him. He is a monster on the court and that is what matters, right? I actually hope he doesn't go to the Heat, because that franchise is stuck in self destruct mode. If Beasley by some miracle falls to 4th, I would be one happy happy okie!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

So let me get this straight...

Bob Barr is the Libertarian Party candidate for president? This Bob Barr??

Now I admit to being a non-voting poseur belonging to no party, but I'm pretty sure that Barr is in no way shape or form a libertarian.

From this blog post I gathered the impression that he voted for the Patriot Act and the Defense of Marriage Act.

From this website I see that Barr sponsored a bill making English the official language of the US and voted against raising the limit on visas for skilled workers

So I have to ask, WTF?? The man rocks one hell of a nice mustache, but is that really all it takes?

Has the LP sold its soul for the meager pottage of getting 5% of the vote in the fall?

a big KPC thank you to Marat Safin

who administered a severe beatdown to the fuzzy headed, gum flapping, arrogant, Serbian idol Novak Djokovic today at Wimby.

I like how the AP put it: Novak Djokovic was upset in straight sets by Marat Safin in the second round at Wimbledon on Wednesday, ending the Serb's chances of testing his theory about Roger Federer's vulnerability.

Post match, Novak showed his usual charm:

Safin is a player who is known as a big talent, but again, he makes a lot of unforced errors," he said. "I had opportunities, but I just made some unforced errors, which were really uncharacteristic, without any sense.

"Safin still has his ups and downs, and is known for his mental instability in some ways, but he's still a great player. He wants to step it up again. (Today) he was mentally there."

Maybe Marat is inspired by the great play of his sister Dinara. I'd love to see him make a deep run in this tournament, but I thank him for getting this fool Djokovic off the radar.

Does the Professor Matter?

and if so, how do we know and how do we measure? Student evaluations are problematic instruments because they are strongly related to expected grades and even to the physical appearance of the instructor.

In a very interesting new NBER paper, Scott Carrell and James West exploit the particular characteristics of the US Air Force Academy system to try and provide an answer. At the USAF students are assigned randomly to professors in a range of core courses and are also randomly assigned to sections of required follow-up courses.

Though there is a lot of heterogeneity across subjects, they tend to find that while less experienced professors produce better grades in the initial core course, their students tend to do worse in the follow on courses.

Since the exams are common across all the sections of the core courses and grading is done by a committee of the the professors teaching the classes, this is not due to the less experienced professors inflating grades. Instead it is likely due to the less experienced professors "teaching to the test", while more experienced professors teach in a way that benefits students in later related coursework, like teaching them general methods of working in the subject field.

Here is a link to an ungated version of the paper.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

So THATS why they're fudging the numbers!

In today's WSJ, Ken Rogoff and Carmen Reinhardt join Angus's "Argentina's in trouble" club.

In doing so, they give a very good reason for why the Kirchner governments have so stubbornly refused to concede that inflation is a problem in Argentina:

Already, a good share of Argentina's debt is in default. What else do you call it when a government that owes over $30 billion in inflation-indexed debt manipulates its consumer-price statistics? Through a variety of crude measures (such as firing its top statisticians), the government is publishing an understated inflation rate that is used for calculating indexation payments.

The official inflation rate in Argentina for the past 12 months is under 10%. But the true inflation rate appears to be at least 30%, according to virtually every neutral source.

I think that maybe the best thing to be in Argentina right now is a pot and pan seller!!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Hey Bristol: Chris Fowler talking is NOT Tennis!

Me and Mrs. Angus are probably the last two tennis fans in North America. We love watching the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open and in theory having ESPN2 live broadcasting Wimby every morning should be a productivity killing treat for us.

Yet here I am in the office blogging instead of at home vegging because ESPN seems to think Chris Fowler flapping his ignorant gums is live tennis. He yammered through a full set of Serena's opening match about the queen of England's hobbies. He yammered through a bunch of Ana Ivanovic's opening match about how Sam Querry is a dog.

He (a) doesn't know anything about tennis and (b) is not even remotely entertaining.

So please ESPN: Show tennis on your live tennis broadcasts! Pick a match and show it with occasional cutaways to other live breaking stories of matches in progress. Don't show me Chris Fowler drinking tea and trying to be witty. You only have two people watching anyway, so give us what we want!

And Tarija makes 4

Now four Bolivian provinces have passed an "autonomy referendum", and the latest to do so, Tarija, holds the great majority of Bolivia's natural gas deposits (which is the country's major export). It is not totally clear exactly what these referenda mean, though the first one in Santa Cruz and this fourth one passed overwhelmingly, but to me the message is that the relatively wealthy and non-indigenous lowland part of the country is not going to go along with Evo Morales and his Andean supporters attempt to re-write the constitution and govern the country in a different way. The implicit threat is that these rich provinces will withhold tax revenues from the central government.

Morales has also agreed to stand for recall in an election this August. Despite his troubles in the Eastern provinces, he is likely to avoid recall. However, as this LA Times article points out, simply holding the election significantly delays any possible vote on Morales' new constitution, which if approved would allow him to run for re-election and likely mandate land re-distribution in the Eastern provinces.

All this political infighting may well simply be the old guard's attempt to ride out Morales' term without losing their current standing/status/wealth while hoping for better treatment from the next president. Here is a previous KPC post on delaying tactics for Evo's new constitution.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The movies come to Angus

Thanks to on demand cable, we get to see a wider range of movies at Chez Angus than what shows in the local multiplex (though with a lag of course). We just watched "Lars and the Real Girl" and I have to say based on his performance there and in "Half Nelson" that Ryan Gosling is an incredibly talented actor. Both movies required his character to do really strange things and he was amazingly believable and compelling at all times.

On the face of it, the plot of "Lars" is untenable, but Gosling (along with the actors playing his sister-in-law and his doctor) really pulls it off. If you haven't seen it, you should (Half Nelson too!).

My favorite actor used to be Guy Pierce, but while "Memento" is a better movie than any in which Gosling has appeared, I gotta give Ryan the nod at this point (Guy will no doubt be devastated to hear this news).

Friday, June 20, 2008

The best sentence I read today

"What's good enough for gay bowlers ought to be good enough for even the most politically correct of political scientists -- or so one would think."

This from Charlotte Allen's hilarious de-pantsing of the American Political Science Association's deliberations of whether to break their contract to have their convention in New Orleans because Lousiana has voted to ban same sex marriages.

APSA actually has something called the "Committee on the Status of Lesbians, Gays, and Bisexuals and Transgendered in the Profession" which is pushing for the boycott, though the "Committee on the Status of Blacks in the Profession" is in favor of sticking with the Big Easy.

Having lived in New Orleans for a few years I can say unequivically that it is an extremely gay-friendly town so I'd endorse Ms. Allen's observation that, there is something inherently ludicrous about a proposed boycott of New Orleans to protest discrimination against gays.

Mungowitz: care to defend your tribe??

Two views of Roger Federer

One is from a fuzzy headed punk who likes to do imitations of other pros and is convinced that his effluvia smells like roses, viz. Novak Djokovic:

“Some things are changing. I think he’s a little bit shaken with that loss and mentally he has been struggling in the last couple of months,” Djokovic said Wednesday. “It’s normal to have ups and downs after four years of absolute dominance on the men’s tour.

“New names are coming, fresh talented players who believe more they can win against him and I am one of them,” Djokovic said. “Suddenly he is worried a little bit.” (full article is here)

The other, slightly different, view is from 14 time grand slam champion Pete Sampras:

“There is a burning desire in Roger to break my record, and when he does it I would like to be there,” Sampras said Thursday. “I said to Roger, ‘Just make sure it’s in New York or London. Australia is a long way to go. (But) if it worked out like that, I would fly there.’

“I would just let him enjoy it as his moment but (I would want to be there) just to respect the record and what he was able to do and to just say, ‘Congratulations.”’

Despite Federer’s loss to No. 2-ranked Rafael Nadal in the French Open final, Sampras is confident the Swiss star will bounce back at the All England Club.

“He’s created this monster of winning so many tournaments and so many majors and doing it with ease,” Sampras said in Sao Paulo, Brazil. “As great as Roger is, he’s going to have his losses and his bad days. It’s just human nature to go through some lulls.”

That doesn’t mean he has lost his edge, Sampras said.

“In the majors, he’s still the guy that’s most likely to win them,” Sampras said. “He’s lost a couple and, if anything, that’ll do him some good. It’ll get him going and fired up. He’ll be just fine.” (full article here)

Wow, you could hardly see a better distinction between no-class and class, eh? For the first time in my life, I'll be rooting for Federer to win Wimbledon and the US Open.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Ask not for whom the worm turns..... turns for the general election!!

Obama: NAFTA not so bad after all

The Democratic nominee, in an interview with Fortune, says he wants free trade "to work for all people."

By Nina Easton, Washington editor

WASHINGTON (Fortune) -- The general campaign is on, independent voters are up for grabs, and Barack Obama is toning down his populist rhetoric - at least when it comes to free trade.

In an interview with Fortune to be featured in the magazine's upcoming issue, the presumptive Democratic nominee backed off his harshest attacks on the free trade agreement and indicated he didn't want to unilaterally reopen negotiations on NAFTA.

"Sometimes during campaigns the rhetoric gets overheated and amplified," he conceded, after I reminded him that he had called NAFTA "devastating" and "a big mistake," despite nonpartisan studies concluding that the trade zone has had a mild, positive effect on the U.S. economy.

Does that mean his rhetoric was overheated and amplified? "Politicians are always guilty of that, and I don't exempt myself," he answered.

Obama says he believes in "opening up a dialogue" with trading partners Canada and Mexico "and figuring to how we can make this work for all people."

Obama spokesman Bill Burton said that Obama-as the candidate noted in Fortune's interview-has not changed his core position on NAFTA, and that he has always said he would talk to the leaders of Canada and Mexico in an effort to include enforceable labor and environmental standards in the pact.

Nevertheless, Obama's tone stands in marked contrast to his primary campaign's anti-NAFTA fusillades. The pact creating a North American free-trade zone was President Bill Clinton's signature accomplishment; but NAFTA is also the bugaboo of union leaders, grassroots activists and Midwesterners who blame free trade for the factory closings they see in their hometowns.

The Democratic candidates fought hard to win over those factions of their party, with Obama generally following Hillary Clinton's lead in setting a protectionist tone.

In February, as the campaign moved into the Rust Belt, both candidates vowed to invoke a six-month opt-out clause ("as a hammer," in Obama's words) to pressure Canada and Mexico to make concessions.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper called that threat a mistake, and other leaders abroad expressed worries about their trade deals. Leading House Democrats, including Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel, distanced themselves from the candidates.

Now, however, Obama says he doesn't believe in unilaterally reopening NAFTA. On the afternoon that I sat down with him to discuss the economy, Obama said he had just spoken with Harper, who had called to congratulate him on winning the nomination.

"I'm not a big believer in doing things unilaterally," Obama said. "I'm a big believer in opening up a dialogue and figuring out how we can make this work for all people."

hmmmm, phone call for Austan Goolsbee!!!!

New Music Alert

People!! Four great bands have just put out new releases!

1. Wolf Parade: "At Mount Zoomer". If you don't have all work by Wolf Parade and co-frontman Spencer Krug's other band Sunset Rubdown, you should get them posthaste. While this new effort is not as immediately appealing as WP's previous release "Apologies to the Queen Mary", it is a clear winner.

2. The Notwist: "The Devil, You + Me". I am a huge Notwist fan. "Shrink" and "Neon Golden" are landmark recordings. This new one is on first listens, very good indeed.

3. Silver Jews: "Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea". I don't think this is as good as their classic, "American Water", but David Berman is always worth listening to.

4. Bonnie Prince Billy: "Lie Down in the Light". Will Oldham's masterpiece is "I See a Darkness". I think his new album is the best thing he's done since then which is saying something considerable.

At least we dodged this bullet

There is a great article in today's WSJ by Matt Moffett about the frictions between ex-president Nestor Kirchner and his people and current president Christina Kirchner and her people and how said friction is contributing to the nascent re-meltdown of Argentina (the article is gated, but here are the good bits).

BUENOS AIRES -- When Cristina Kirchner was elected in October to succeed her husband as president of Argentina, he guaranteed he would let his wife stand on her own two feet. "I would do very badly by interfering," Nestor Kirchner said.

But Mr. Kirchner couldn't help but interfere when Mrs. Kirchner faced her first domestic political challenge, helping to turn a dispute with farmers into a full-blown political disaster.

Mr. Kirchner's heavy-handed meddling and Mrs. Kirchner's erratic behavior helped stoke 100 days of disruptive protests by farmers after the government changed the tax on soybean exports, which had been fixed at 35%, so that it would shift in line with rising international prices.

Mrs. Kirchner's approval ratings have plunged, the economy has reeled and the government's conflicting messages have caused many Argentines to ask: Who is really in charge, Cristina or Nestor?

Mrs. Kirchner has, at times, seemed more flexible toward farmers, who are demanding the government repeal the tax increase. Tuesday, Mrs. Kirchner, moving to cool off growing political tensions, said she would send the proposed tax change to Congress for debate and approval.

Mr. Kirchner has been unwavering in his hostility toward farmers, whom he sees as a power-hungry coterie that seeks to undermine the government.

There have been open conflicts in Mrs. Kirchner's cabinet between Cristinos, loyal to her, and Nestoristas, beholden to him. At a political event in April, TV cameras captured her first economy minister, Martin Lousteau, who was pushing for negotiation with farmers, arguing heatedly with Internal Commerce Secretary Guillermo Moreno, a Nestorista who favored a hard line. Mr. Moreno ended the discussion with a throat-cutting gesture. Not long afterward, Mr. Lousteau quit in frustration and was replaced by one of Mr. Kirchner's men.

The confusion grew more acute a few weeks ago when the couple didn't seem to be on the same page about a massive rally of 200,000 farm supporters in the city of Rosario. Cabinet chief Alberto Fernandez, the government's main negotiator with the farmers, was traveling with Mrs. Kirchner and said the government would make a new proposal to farmers on the soybean tax. The next day, after he spoke to Mr. Kirchner in Buenos Aires, Mr. Fernandez said there would be no new proposal and no more talks.

That same week, Mrs. Kirchner called for a "tolerant, democratic and respectful Argentina." Her husband, as head of the Peronist party, drafted a blistering statement calling the farm protesters "coup- mongers" who aimed to topple the government.

Whatever we get in November, it least it won't be Billary and this kind of tomfoolery!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Elections, Romanian style!

BUCHAREST (Reuters) - The residents of a Romanian village knowingly voted in a dead man as their mayor in Sunday's municipal election, preferring him to his living opponent.Neculai Ivascu, 57, who ran the village for almost two decades, died from liver disease just after voting began -- but still won the election by a margin of 23 votes.

A local official said the authorities decided to keep the poll open in case Ivascu's opponent, Gheorghe Dobrescu, won, avoiding the need for a re-run.

"I know he died, but I don't want change," a pro-Ivascu villager told Romanian television.

In the end, election authorities gave the post to the runner-up, but some villagers and Ivascu's party, the powerful opposition Social Democrat Party (PSD), have called for a new vote.

Well, I know the American electorate does want change, but I really like the idea of voting in a dead chief executive. Whattya say people, Reagan in 2008??

Texas Barbeque Ratings: Kreuz's is #2?

The current issue of Texas Monthly rates "The Top 50 BBQ Joints in Texas". T. Cowen fave Kreuz Market comes in second.

However, all is not well in the BBQ kingdom:

the biggest change over the past five years is that the gas-burning commercial smoker is gaining ground (for an explanation of how it differs from a traditional pit, see PITS). To give the devil his due, this contraption has brought acceptable barbecue to areas where it hardly existed, like the Rio Grande Valley. The danger is that it will replace traditional pit-smoking, as fewer and fewer people are willing to get up at three in the morning to sustain this labor-intensive craft. The smoker has also enabled giant, mediocre chains like Dickey’s and Bill Miller (about 70 locations each statewide) to proliferate like houseflies. With so many children cutting their teeth on institutional barbecue, one fears for the future.

And so we issue this call to arms: Perfect pit-smoked meats rank with the finest expressions of culinary art anywhere, and we must not allow them to disappear. It is incumbent upon all Texans to celebrate and support our state’s uniquely sooty, fat-besotted heritage. The cost will be a measly $7.95 or so a plate, including sides, a small price for the satisfaction not only of preserving our history but of ingesting a masterpiece.

Not just Texans, people!! Go forth and eat!

Is Kobe overrated? Is the whole Western Conference Overrated?

The Celtics absolutely pwned the Lakers in the finals. LA blew historic leads at home and was not competitive on the road. Laker-hater #1 (Bill Simmons) has a theory about why:

Boy, Kobe sure seems to have trouble scoring on these Shane Battier/Paul Pierce types, doesn't he? If someone's a little bigger than him, stays between him and the basket and has the reach to contest his jumper, and if that person is flanked by smart defenders who remain aware of what Kobe is doing at all times, it sure seems Kobe has trouble getting the shots he likes. Not to belabor the point because it's a moot discussion at this point, but MJ didn't have a "kryptonite" flaw. He just didn't. Of everyone from the '90s, John Starks probably defended him the best ... and it's not like Starks was shutting him down or anything. He just made MJ work a little harder for the points he was getting anyway. The point is, Jordan did whatever he wanted during a much more physical era, and when he faced great defensive teams -- like the '89 and '90 Pistons or the '93 Knicks -- nobody ever shackled him or knocked him into a scoring funk. Kobe? He looks a little lost offensively against the Celtics. It's true. Same for the 2004 Finals against Tayshaun Prince, another lanky defensive player with a good reach. Just remember to mention this on his NBA tombstone some day.

I do think the turning point in the series was Paul Pierce's defense on Kobe in the second half of game 4.

However, I think you can make a stronger case that the whole Western Conference is/was overrated. The Lakers won the west easily and got crushed by Boston. In contrast, Atlanta and Cleveland both took the Celtics to 7 games!

I know Kobe is the MVP and that his stats against the Celtics were better than LeBron's were, but I'll take LBJ in a heartbeat over Kobe any day.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Jack of all trades is a master of ......?

Hey Ben Bernanke, WTF???

I guess he feels like he's done such a great job in his actual job, it's time for him to branch out and help in other fields?

Bolstering the performance of the U.S. health care system is one of the biggest challenges facing the country, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Monday.New medical technologies and treatments are allowing people to live healthier, longer and more productive lives. However, the aging of millions of baby boomers coupled with rapidly rising heath care costs are accounting for an ever-growing share of both personal and government budgets — strains that will become increasingly burdensome unless changes are made, the Fed chief warned.

Challenges, he said, fall into three major areas: improving access to health care for the 47 million Americans — or about 16 percent of the population — who lack health insurance; bolstering the quality of care; and controlling costs.

"Improving the performance of our health care system is without a doubt one of the most important challenges our nation faces," Bernanke said in remarks to a summit on health care reform organized by a Senate panel on Capitol Hill.

The Fed chief didn't talk about the Fed's next move on interest rates or the state of the U.S. economy in his speech or during a brief question and answer session afterward.

Here is the full story, and in closing let me offer Ben this piece of advice: Zapatero! a sus Zapatos! (translation here)

Monday, June 16, 2008

Robert Samuelson joins the Club

The Angus Gridlock Club, that is:

But for me, McCain does have one provisional and accidental advantage. By most appraisals, the Republicans will get slaughtered in congressional elections, and I have a visceral dislike of one-party government. It didn't work well under Bill Clinton or George W. Bush. Divided government doesn't ensure good government, but it may limit bad government by checking the worst instincts of both parties.

Amen, brother!! (you can read the whole article here)

Argentina creeps closer to trouble

Last month, I casually tossed out the notion that Argentina may be on the verge of another serious economic crisis. Besides the issues I raised then (inflation, farmer's strike, reserve losses), which are ongoing, it now turns out that the Argentine public debt is 56% of GDP which surpasses the level it reached (54%) at the beginning of the 2001 crisis. And, if you include the amount owed to investors who refused their crisis related haircuts and are suing to recover, the figure is actually 67% of GDP!


Plus, Argentina is off the IMF gravy train and is in default to the Paris Club countries for a few billion, so their main source of external funding is good old Hugo Chavez, who has been charging a fairly healthy (13%) interest rate on his dough.

Of course, given that independent estimates put Argentine inflation at over 20%, maybe Hugo needs to think about doubling his rates!!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

NC Bar Assoc

A bit of investigation by friend-of-truth Steve Newton.

Some more reaction.

Sr. de la Torre, I beg to differ!

Guano-mania rages again in Peru!

ISLA DE ASIA Peru— The worldwide boom in commodities has come to this: Even guano, the bird dung that was the focus of an imperialist scramble on the high seas in the 19th century, is in strong demand once again. Surging prices for synthetic fertilizers and organic foods are shifting attention to guano, an organic fertilizer once found in abundance on this island and more than 20 others off the coast of Peru, where an exceptionally dry climate preserves the droppings of seabirds like the guanay cormorant and the Peruvian booby.

But all is not well in the guano kingdom:

While the bird population has climbed to 4 million from 3.2 million in the past two years, that figure still pales in comparison with the 60 million birds at the height of the first guano rush. Faced with a dwindling anchoveta population, officials at Proabonos are considering halting exports of guano to ensure its supply to the domestic market.

Uriel de la Torre, a biologist who specializes in conserving the guanay cormorant and other seabirds, said that unless some measure emerged to prevent overfishing, both the anchovetas and the seabirds here could die off by 2030.

“It would be an inglorious conclusion to something that has survived wars and man’s other follies,” Mr. de la Torre said. “But that is the scenario we are facing: the end of guano.”

Oh Sr. de la Torre, you just couldn't be more wrong. I invite you to come to Washington DC, where I assure you there is no end to the guano!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Thursday, June 12, 2008

I think that I shall never see.....

Malagasy Musings

While the citizens of Madagascar seem hell bent on digging up, burning down, or chopping down their country ASAP, there are still quite a lot of beautiful spots left with truly amazing wildlife.

Interestingly, the Malagasy do NOT consider themselves to be African nor do they think Madagascar is part of Africa.

One of the most striking things I noticed was the fact that you don't really see hardly any old people there.

In the villages especially there were tons of quite young children everywhere. Babies be havin' babies! I think the national anthem should be "me so horny".

Transportation infrastructure is pretty much non-existent, especially the further you get from the capital city.

Malagasy pop songs are quite long compared to American pop songs.

It was jarring for me to be in a national park and see villages inside it with, in some cases, people cutting trees to make charcoal right in the park.

Most of the people we spoke to had little conception of the US or our lifestyles (and these obviously were people who had exposure to tourists). We were asked things like, "what is your staple food in the US?" (I would answer "high fructose corn syrup"), and when we asked a person who said he'd like to visit the USA where he'd like to go he said "the wetlands and the drylands".


This is gonna be a fun election. BO is as nutty in his own way as Johnny Mac. He travels the country railing at Countrywide and its CEO by name over and over. He then appoints as his VP vetting head a dude who is in bed bigtime with said CEO and company.

When called on it he basically says, "what do you expect me to do? I can't possibly vet my vetters". He also appears to say that the guy doesn't work for him apparently because he's not getting paid and hasn't (yet) been given a permanent position in the BO administration.

I love the hollow moral outrage of people who by definition feel themselves incapable of doing something wrong or making a mistake.

feast your eyes and ears people:

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Wow: Chilipunk'd for SURE

The candidates from the "major" parties have organized their own private election, with just two people invited: Bev Purdue and Pat McCrory. Five debates, only two candidates will be allowed.

Here's the strange thing: It's really hard to get on the ballot in North Carolina. The Libertarians did what the state required. It wasn't easy, but we did it.

Why doesn't that translate into being included in the debate? Why do the state-sponsored parties get away with this? It's because you, the voters, are indifferent.

It's not the media; you can't blame them. Having me in the debate is MUCH more interesting, and would improve ratings. You can count on the media actually preferring that I be included.

But I'm not. Because the Dems and Repubs don't want even a whiff of competition to affect their cozy cartel.

Where's the outrage?

We Have a Tariff on Ethanol? Really?

Good sweet fancy Moses.

We want to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

So we tax imported ethanol?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Political Counterpoints

A new series that Duke is producing.

Some quick hits on major topics in politics, on YouTube.

Monday, June 09, 2008

The Piper Comes Up Big

A disturbing small incident in North Carolina, related by my man the Piper.

(While you are there, set up an account. We need the membership!)

The Grand Game: Privatize are watching YOU!

I don't know where to start here. So, Hall and Oates seemed like the only answer.

Readers, please play the Grand Game: Identify the hypocrisies and inconsistencies in the positions described in the article. Use back of paper if necessary.

Now, for the adapted Hall and Oates lyrics:

I see you, you see me
Watch you blowin the lines when youre making a speech
Oh Senator, you've got to know
What my head overlooks
The voters will take to the polls
When its watching for lies
You cant escape my
We're watching you
In your private dining room!
We're watching you
As you eat your soup eat your soup eat your soup....

(Nod to GQ Boy)

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Comfortably Obama

Obamanomics? Like this?

So, it's time for "Comfortably Numb," I think.

There is no pain, you are receding.
A distant ships smoke on the horizon.
You are only coming through in waves.
Your lips move but I cant hear what youre sayin.
When I was a child I had a fever.
My hands felt just like two balloons.
Now I got that feeling once again.
I cant explain, you would not understand.
This is not how I am.
I have become comfortably numb.

Just a little pinprick. [ping]
Therell be no more --aaaaaahhhhh!
But you may feel a little sick.

Nod to Neanderbill for the reference. Don't blame him for my interpretation, though.
Libertarian paternalism, indeed.

Really? REALLY?

Not sure if this is real.

But it's pretty.....well, ironic. A story.

Turns out Obama was right: there ARE a lot of bitter white people, after all.

Angus is back and he brought pics!!

Some Links

Authoritarianism: The Role of Threat, Evolutionary Psychology, and the Will
to Power

Brad Hastings & Barbara Shaffer
Theory & Psychology, June 2008, Pages 423-440

It has been demonstrated empirically and theoretically that threat is a primary contributor to the increased manifestations of the authoritarian personality. However, most conceptualizations of authoritarianism have failed to explore how these manifestations may have an adaptive value in the face of threat. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to employ the theories of evolutionary psychology in an attempt to provide a comprehensive explanation of authoritarianism. Attention is given to specific psychological mechanisms, such as coalition formation and social exchange, that when utilized by the authoritarian individual under conditions of threat, demonstrate adaptive value. Furthermore, a comprehensive explanation of authoritarianism is offered that encompasses variables related to authoritarianism, its association with a fundamental need to belong, and its larger philosophical relationship to Nietzsche's `will to power.'


Institutions and Behavior: Experimental Evidence on the Effects of Democracy

Pedro Dal Bó, Andrew Foster & Louis Putterman
NBER Working Paper, May 2008

A novel experiment is used to show that the effect of a policy on the level of cooperation is greater when it is chosen democratically by the subjects than when it is exogenously imposed. In contrast to the previous literature, our experimental design allows us to control for selection effects (e.g. those who choose the policy may be affected differently by it). Our finding implies that democratic institutions may affect behavior directly in addition to having effects through the choice of policies. Our findings have implications for the generalizability of the results of randomized policy interventions.


On the Usefulness of Memory Skills in Social Interactions: Modifying the
Iterated Prisoner's Dilemma

Isabell Winkler, Klaus Jonas & Udo Rudolph
Journal of Conflict Resolution, June 2008, Pages 375-384

The present experiment introduces a modification of the iterated prisoner's dilemma (PD). In contrast to classical dilemma situations with only one interaction partner, participants (N = 120) interacted with five fictitious interaction partners within one game, either in a random order (change condition) or against each of the interaction partners in succession (block condition). The authors assume that the change condition simulates the social interactions of a real environment more accurately and that individual memory skills are more important in the change condition as compared to the block condition. As dependent variables, the participants' score in the game was recorded, as well as the participants' memory
performance concerning information about their interaction partners. Results show that good memory performance with respect to biographical information leads to higher scores only in the condition with changing interaction partners, but not in the block condition.


Sociality, selection, and survival: Simulated evolution of mortality with
intergenerational transfers and food sharing

Ronald Lee
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Why do humans survive so long past reproductive age, and why does juvenile mortality decline after birth, both contrary to the classic theory of aging? Previous work has shown formally that intergenerational transfers can explain both these patterns. Here, simulations confirm those results under weaker assumptions and explore how different social arrangements shape life-history evolution. Simulated single-sex hunter–gatherers survive, forage, reproduce, and share food with kin and nonkin in ways guided by the ethnographic literature. Natural selection acts on probabilistically occurring deleterious mutations. Neither stable population age distributions nor homogeneous genetic lineages are assumed. When food is shared only
within kin groups, an infant death permits reallocation of its unneeded food to the infant's kin, offsetting the fitness cost of the death and weakening the force of selection against infant mortality. Thus, evolved infant mortality is relatively high, more so in larger kin groups. Food sharing with nonkin reduces the costs to kin of child rearing, but also reduces the resources recaptured by kin after an infant death, so evolved infant mortality is lower. Postreproductive adults transfer food to descendants, enhancing their growth and survival, so postreproductive survival is selected. The force of selection for old-age survival depends in omplicated ways on the food-sharing arrangements. Population-level food sharing with
nonkin leads to the classic pattern of constant low mortality up to sexual maturity and no postreproductive survival.

(Nod to KL, with Thanks!)

The UN: Looking for a few rich white people.....

UN List of Most Livable Countries, Top Six

1. Norway
2. Iceland
3. Australia
4. Ireland
5. Sweden
6. Canada

Now, look at that. These nations have an population growth rates under 0.5. They have lilly white populations, with the exception of Australia, and one city (Toronto) in Canada. (And the non-white Ozzies and Torontons are mostly from east or south Asia, plus a few Aboriginals or First People or whatever it is politically correct to call the folks who escaped the colonial genocide).

And, their average population density is less than 50 people per square mile. Three of these countries, Iceland, Australia, and Canada, have population densities under 10 per square mile.

So, if by "livable," you mean "I'm looking for a few rich white people," this list makes sense.

Monday, June 02, 2008

New Campaign Blog

New campaign blog!

Please visit, and set up an account. This will only be what we make it.

In particular, check the poll results here, and elsewhere on the blog.

Tie-breaker? Spoiler?

Anonyman sends this interesting link, from the NYTimes.


...[T]here is the Libertarian Party and then there is the libertarian — small-“L” — state of mind. Those who do not necessarily vote with the party but identify with some of the core libertarian philosophy — a small government with minimal reach into people’s personal lives, and minimal foreign entanglements — may be a potent, if unpredictable, group of voters.

“I think one problem the Republican Party is facing in the Mountain West is that the social, cultural and religious emphasis of Republicans in the last five, six, eight years has run against the libertarian grain,” Mr. Cook said. “When these people signed onto small government, they weren’t just talking about money. They were talking about small government, period. So when government dictates anything, whether social, cultural, religious or anything else, they take a dim view of that.”

Libertarians trace their historical roots back to the Enlightenment and views of the rights of the individual that informed the Constitution, which they say should be strictly interpreted. As might be expected from a group placing a high value on individual freedom, they are a diverse bunch, animated by different issues, whether gun rights or drug legalization or cutting taxes.

When libertarian ideas gained in popularity in the 1970s, it was in part from public discontent with big-government efforts like the Vietnam War. Lately, libertarians have focused on issues like the war in Iraq, which they oppose in common with many Democrats, and school choice, which they favor along with social conservatives.

Many view Mr. McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, with suspicion if not disdain, despite his opposition to government pork, a maverick image and roots in Arizona, home of the Republican Senator Barry Goldwater (he of “extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice”). They oppose Mr. McCain’s support both of the war and campaign finance restrictions, which they see as a curb on free speech. Meanwhile, liberal Democrat though he may be, Senator Barack Obama, Mr. McCain’s likely foe, may attract libertarians not only because of his antiwar views but because, like Mr. Paul, he has had great success organizing support via the Internet, where a libertarian spirit thrives.


Email from a reader:

A thought and a quesiton. It seems to me that for one reason or another we are at the moment prone to undue optimism and undue pessisim represented by the run up in the markets and in the near hopelessness about the environment. Both these extremes seem to me to be the result of a kind of communal mania, of living more in the mediatized world than in real life, and both produce bubbles of different kinds, one of which has already burst.

Do you think the Obama phenomenon could be a further example of such a bubble, a bubble tht stokes all of the aspirations of the academic left and African Americans yearning for a change? I wonder whether the working class isn't perhaps a better judge of these matters since they are less likely to believe in miraculous transformations. And what will happen if this bubble bursts? or I should say when it bursts?

I can say what will happen when it bursts: President McCain.