< meta name="DC.Date.Valid.End" content="20050825"> Amendment Nine: September 2005

Friday, September 30, 2005

I'm Not Flattered

Bill Bennet used the term "extrapolation" in his apology for his comment about how aborting black babies will cause the crime rate to go down. He must have read this post. Sorry for the confusion Bill, I was using that term ironically. Equally ironic is your conclusion that:
A thought experiment about public policy, on national radio, should not have received the condemnations it has. Anyone paying attention to this debate should be offended by those who have selectively quoted me, distorted my meaning, and taken out of context the dialogue I engaged in this week. Such distortions from 'leaders' of organizations and parties is a disgrace not only to the organizations and institutions they serve, but to the First Amendment.
I'm now enraged. Quicker than a common Klansmen, Bennet cowers behind the cloak of the First Amendment. You are a racist, sir. I will make it a point, in my public life, to ridicule, shame, and hound you. You are not only racist, you are unapologetic about it. That you received such widespread, multi-cultural, multi-faceted, multi-dimensional criticism of your casual "thought experiment" which casually mentioned a causal connection between a person having black skin and a person being a criminal is a tribute to this great land. Just a few decades ago you'd be the toast of the town. Today you are swine, and everyone is calling you on it. Oink Oink Bill.

Greatest Strategic Disaster Ever?

The invasion of Iraq I believe will turn out to be the greatest strategic disaster in U.S. history...
--Retired Army Lt. General William Odom, Hudson Institute

As Professor Cole notes about the Hudson Institute where Odom is now a scholar, "that's neocon central." Rumsfeld must be dusting off that resignation letter again.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

GOP Moral Virtues

Bill Bennet, sometimes referred to as America's little virtue, reveals some of that "statistical extrapolation" for which he was famous as Secretary of Education under Reagan.
But I do know that it's true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could -- if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down. That would be an impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down.
From the 9/28/2005 broadcast of Bill Bennet's Morning in America. I'm going to bed. Don't wake me till nightime. You can listen to all of Bennet's racist comments here.

If The People Won't Clean Out Government America

The Law will. Tom Delay indicted. Frist is next. This is good news for Gov. America shareholders over the long-term.

UPDATE: I can't help but recall this post by a fellow blogger here. Today, the "mass of proles" seem to have scored one against the "oligarchy of overlords".

Thursday, September 22, 2005

GOP Favors Wealthy Over Troops

Sirota's blog has the details. Credit to Armando.

It Was Bad Enough

It was bad enough that Katrina wrecked much of the Gulf Coast. But as we found out, since a large number of the victims were Democratic voters, Republicans could blame Katrina on "liberal values". Which they did.

What will happen when Rita wrecks a large portion of the Texas coast? Anyone who thinks FEMA's problems are fixed, and that the state and local governments are suddenly bastions of excellence should email me immediately, I have a bridge I'd like to sell them. Who will be blamed this time when water doesn't get where it needs to go? Who will take pictures of school buses sitting in an empty parking lot this time, when the Federal government specifically ordered those school buses not be used?

If Rita is as big a storm as the hype, I think many life-long Republicans will be doing a little soul-searching. Just like many life-long Democrats have done in the aftermath of Katrina.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Choice is Looting?

This is really more appropriate here. In light of Katrina and the desire of many affected NCAA athletes wanting to continue their athletic career uninterrupted, the NCAA has decided to strictly enforce a rule where Division I players who transfer during season must sit out a full year before playing again. Here is the money quote:

"Let me call that athletic looting, to be provocative, and we won't stand for that," he said.

Athletic looting? How about endentured servitude instead? The NCAA should be ashamed of itself. This is yet another example of how college atheletics has become nothing more than glorified slavery. Hat tip Mises.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Who Will Be the GOP Nominee?

In 2008, the GOP has a tough decision. Yet, it might be made a little easier in a few days. Cheney's health is poor. An increasingly likely resignation by Mr. Cheney in the coming weeks will pave the way for the next Prime Minister of the United States to be crowned by the Senate. He or she will be up for re-election in 2008 of course, but that is a long time away. My guess is, they pick a Senator from a state with a Republican Governor. I have no idea who that will be, but as long as the appointment can be made without a new re-election for a little while, it just makes good sense.

Friday, September 16, 2005

The End of the Reagan Revolution

The Reagan Revolution was the beginning of what is today considered mainstream conservatism. Lower taxes. Less government. Strong defense. Gingrich and his followers were merely true believers from the Reagan era. Norquist and groups like the Heritage Foundation flourished after Reagan's second term. What we consider the Republican party today is largely a result of the Reagan Revolution.

Last night, a by-product (though not a true-believer by any stretch) of the Reagan Revolution, President George W. Bush, declared the end of the Revolution. How?

He accepted responsibility for the government's failure to respond. Put another way, he accepted a premise of liberal democratic government: that the federal government owes a duty to the people to respond and help in disaster situations. Many have remarked about this Administration's un-canny ability to avoid responsibility. They weren't at fault for failing to protect on 9/11 because "no one could have foreseen" what was going to happen with those planes, there was just no way to get it right. They weren't at fault for the faulty intelligence in the Iraq War because at the time Saddam was a "grave and gathering" threat, there was just no time to get it right.

Most thought this "spinning" was a way to avoid electoral liability. That is probably true. Equally true though is that if the government accepts responsibility, it is asserting that it has failed to live up to some duty, and that is playing on Liberal, not Conservative turf.

The importance of this cannot be underestimated. President Bush, with these words last night, made it officially clear that Republicans either do not believe in the Reagan Revolution anymore, or have decided it is no longer an acceptable form of governing.
Four years after the frightening experience of September the 11th, Americans have every right to expect a more effective response in a time of emergency. When the federal government fails to meet such an obligation, I, as President, am responsible for the problem, and for the solution.

Reagan is likely turning over in his grave.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Live From Jackson Square?

My first thought, when I heard the president would be addressing the nation tonight from Jackson Square, was that this was some sort of flamboyant code or symbol that I didn't understand but which probably had to do with everyone's fascination of the "Jacksonian Majority" which Rove, Bush, and others have cobbled together. Now I realize that they were just not thinking. Look at him! He's wearing a blue shirt against a background with almost the exact same color. As a result, he appears to be a floating head, which every now and again clenches its teeth. Not exactly reassuring.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Federalist X

I'm going on a LONG break from the blogging universe. I won't be back for quite some time. The other bloggers here at A9 will continue to post at this location, please give them your support. And don't forget the Vulture's Corner.

Also, please visit Tim Russo at Democracy Guy, or if you have a Cleveland Sports Addiction, you can find him there too.

I've blogged, like many, since around the '04 election. In that time, A9 has helped spawn at least two other blogs, fought against the insanity of the hard left, stuck up for ol' time Democratic values, reached out to moderates, broken news on distressed securities, and a whole lot of other stuff. I've enjoyed it, but I'm also going to enjoy not blogging (I hope). At some point, we all must decide whether to live in the world of light, or in the world of shadows. At this time, I need to reflect on that for a little while.
In every man's memories there are such things as he will reveal not to everyone, but perhaps only to friends. There are also such as he will reveal not even to friends, but only to himself, and that in secret. Then, finally, there are such as a man is afraid to reveal even to himself, and every decent man will have accumulated quite a few things of this sort. That is, one might even say: the more decent a man is, the more of them he will have. [...]

Now, however, when I not only recall them but am even resolved to write them down, now I want precisely to make a test: is it possilbe to be perfectly candid with oneself and not be afraid of the whole truth? [...]

Snow is falling today, almost wet, yellow, dull. And it was falling yesterday, and it was falling the other day as well. I think it was apropos of the wet snow that I recalled this anecdote that now refuses to be gotten rid of.

F. Dostoevsky, Notes From Underground, Pevear & Volokhonsky trans.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Part III of Katrina's Impact: Mitya's Brain

My reply to the wonderful Katrina related posts by Chriss Chross and Sharpshanks can be found here.

Kos Krazy

[UPDATE: I don't want to detract from the Chriss, Mitya, Sharpie debate on Katrina's economic impact. Good stuff. Chriss's macro view is here, Sharpie's Asian view is here, and Mitya says he'll have the distressed view over the weekend, posted at VC, but cross-linked on this blog as well.]

Its a new style, its called Kos Krazy, and it doesn't much care for principles, logic, or silly things like that. Kos Krazy is coming straight at you! Kos Krazy is orange. Kos Krazy is white. Kos Krazy ain't no average blogger, Kos Krazy is the real deal, dude.

Kos Krazy is also, just that, CRAZY! And it doesn'tseem to matter who writes on the front page over there, they just go bananas at certain times. The latest is this simple assertion:
Oh, and Joe Lieberman was second-most at fault for Brown (after Bush).

Chew this puppy up and spit it out.

If you read the TPM piece, as it appears Kos did not, the writer is a bit more universal in his condemnation than Kos is in his. Lieberman was "second-most at fault"? Is that even a logical possibility? Isn't fault binary? Or is Kos inventing some new comparative negligence standard for his favorite, or least favorite, politicians? If so, he should read his Constitution. The Senate gives advice, the Senate consents, I think Kos and his cronies made a big stink about how UN-Constitutional it was for the Senate to just rubber stamp things a little while back. But here he is now saying that the President should bear the "most" responsibility for an unqualified candidate, and the Democratic Chairman (who Kos has actively campaigned against) of the Committee reviewing the candidate is "second-most". I may sound a little right wing here, but frankly, I don't care. Kos is far over the line, to the point where I think his credibility is jeopardized (what little of it remained).

Here's a little civics lesson to the next person over there infected with the Kos Krazies, all Senators, all 100 of them at that time, are as responsible for Brown being Director of FEMA as President Bush is. Each vote, equally weighted (for instance, Lieberman's doesn't count anymore than Frist's), can register disapproval. Unfortunately for the Kos Krazies, there is no pyramid of fault here. The Senate is a check to the President, and here they completely abdicated that responsibility. I hope any Senator running for the Presidential nomination in '08 will be required to answer why they didn't review Brown's resume a little more closely. Apparently Kos thinks they don't have to, only the Chair needs to do that, but I'd like a little more accountability from my Senators than that. Democrats don't get a free pass when they failed to do their job. Unless of course, you're a Kos Krazy.

Quite frankly, I'm sick of this. This sorta scorched earth rhetoric has turned a large portion of the Democratic party into what looks like a writhing mass of brainwashed, cult-like worshippers of a graven image. Somebody needs to stop them before they permanently wreck the chances of a once proud party with equally proud principles.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Part II: Katrina & The Asian Economy

I've posted over at the Vulture's Corner my Asian scenario. Apparently Chriss still isn't on the list over there, but she should be soon.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Katrina & The US Economy

Thank you Sharpie for the intro, and welcome back home - if only for a little while.

The macro impact of Katrina is hard to measure Since Katrina, and the resulting flood, are likely to exacerbate pre-existing trends, rather than reverse old or offer new trends.

Q2 growth was recently revised downward to 3.3%. July data on construction and cap goods was weaker than expected. Retailing lagged in late summer (mainly because of a 20%+ increase in gas costs). This was all pre-Katrina.

Katrina only strengthens the previous data. Gas costs are projected to stay at their current levels for around four to six weeks. However, the prior gasoline projection tends to the downside as work designed to reduce the commercial impact has already commenced at the state level. Federal response has been muted, but as criticism continues to grow, it is likely that some concessions (beyond environmental easing) will be offered.

Moving into the winter with a full blown energy shock will further eat into discretionary spending. Real US consumption growth will likely fall below 2% in Q4, and could be greater depending on the length of the Katrina-related spike in energy costs, as well as the depth of worldwide energy consumption.

Flipside, going into Q1 and Q2 of 2006, and looking forward to 2007, demand driven oil price reduction could be signficant. The length of the gas shock after Katrina, again, is the predominant driver. The longer her impact, the more pronounced the demand cooling. A 30%-35% price drop in crude oil (close to 1.5% of GDP) is reasonable by second-half of '06.

Despite the balancing caused by demand cooling, US GDP growth will be lower in '06 than in '05, and Katrina will help set the ceiling for '06. If 2005 GDP is 3.5%, 2006 looks set to be no more than 3.2% (this is down from a consensus view of around 4.0%).

Further, the liquidity bubble appears more vulnerable than ever with trimmed GDP growth estimates and higher domestic inflation risks. Should liquidity begin to dry up, downside risks abound, especially to the housing sector.

Asia, and China in particular, have significantly more risk. Demand cooling in the US, and any subsequent liquidity crunch results in lower US housing growth (the catalyst for Chinese et al expansion). This combined with high energy prices will force significant weakness in Asian exports over the next six months. I look forward to more detailed views on this from Sharpshanks.

Euro-zone growth is scheduled for a reduction as well. Q2 was better than expected, but the Katrina spike will likely bring full year growth a tenth or two closer to 1%.

My outlook is for significant pullback in equities, and if not, a prolonged period of sagging equity prices. The bond market will rally, and stay up through the close of the year. Glad to be hear, and would love to respond to your feedback.

Katrina's Impact

It is a big day for economic forecasters. Early signs are that oil production is recovering more quickly than anticipated in the Gulf. How does this work change the economic climate? We'll have more on that shortly. But today is also a big day for Amendment Nine. We've arranged to have Chriss Chross join as a c0-blogger here, and she'll be joining the Vulture's Corner as soon as Mitya gets around to sending her an invite! Many of you already know Chriss, and she's happy to blog here, and at the Vulture's Corner, given the anonymity conditions. For those of you who don't know her, all you really need to know is she is one of the best sell side analysts around for distress. Before joining as a director at her current shop about a year ago, she helped run one of the largest restructuring desks in the business.

Chriss will be posting shortly on her view of the overall economic impact of Katrina. Afterwards, Mitya K will post on the specific impact of Katrina on the distressed market. I'll wind things up with a post on how Asia sees this. Should be fun, all posts will be up by tomorrow, so please check back. And again, send a shout out to Chriss.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

A Liability, Again

John Robb calls the federal government an "embarrassment" and a "liability." Strong words, prompted by Chertoff's continual denials. It is deja vu all over again. At least this time they can't say there were no warnings. Or that no one ever imagined planes would be used as missles. They're just saying no one ever imagined a Category 4 storm would hit New Orleans. Apparently Col. Strock begs to differ (and says we knowingly gambled since 1969). I've decided this Administration has the best sense of humor of any in history. Dark humor, but humor nonetheless.

Friday, September 02, 2005

FEMA Doctors

John Robb has the latest on their deployment. I can ditto these reports. He's also chronicled the disaster quite well, please take a look. Sharpshanks emailed me yesterday saying that at least a dozen oil rigs in the gulf have been completely obliterated, all the while gas reserves are at the lowest. He said this is about 3 times worse than Ivan (or so he guesses) in terms of oil production. As for refining, he can't even guess. Apparently the Chinese are quite worried about all this too. And finally, as if reinacting the classic Bill Murray Groundhog Day, I just heard over the radio a snippet of Bush at a press conference or some such thing saying these words: "I don't think anyone could have expected the levees would break." Really?

Like I said, Groundhog Day.