January 22, 2008

Phlegmatic Freddie Flops: Oaf Flees the Fray

Thompson withdrew.

In the 1976 Republican primaries, Ronald Reagan was completely written off but doggedly kept going--and then he won North Carolina and almost the nomination. His sustained commitment in 1976 was the springboard for the successful run in 1980.

Freddie is pathetic.

Apparently, like Condi Rice a year or so ago, he thought he'd show a little leg and be nominated by acclamation.

This is the principled standard-bearer of conservatism? One more reason to write off the Republicans.

What's next for Freddie--joining Trent Lott's lobbying firm?
Full disclosure. Viewing them as high-risk high-payoff contributions, I made two small donations to Thompson. That my eyes were wide open doesn't mean I'm happy the money was wasted.

January 19, 2008

Apologia: Robert James Fischer 1943-2008

Great wits are sure to madness near allied
And thin partitions do their bounds divide. --Dryden

Yes, he was warped. Yes, he said vile things--but he sprayed the venom at large; he did not inject it into individuals. He did not leave damaged friends and a family with maimed souls.

RIP. Perhaps somewhere somehow, by means impossible to imagine or verify, the clashing elements of his makeup are now harmonized.

January 17, 2008

Inauguration Day 2001: S&P 500 1343
January 17, 2008: S&P 500 1333 (in dollars)

The S&P 500 is the most commonly used metric of the broad US market. (Arguably, the Dow Jones Industrials have too few stocks to accurately reflect the overall market.)

When George Bush was inaugurated on January 20, 2001, the S&P 500 stood at 1343. Today it closed at 1333. Never mind what happened to the dollar that the index is valued in.

As we enter an election year, the market is lower than when Bush took office seven years ago. For six of those years, there was a Republican Congress.

January 10, 2008


According to Winston Churchill,
It is a good thing for an uneducated man to read books of quotations.
I came across that years ago--while browsing in a book of quotations. I was taken aback...and then laughed...and then resumed reading.

So maybe there's some hope for me yet.

Presumably Sir Winston would also approve of posting quotations on one's blog. I haven't decided whether to collect such here or to make this a series. Anyway, here goes.

Peter Woit laments that the drunken colossus of our political system has accidentally squashed funding for high-enery physics:
This seems to be how US democracy works these days: you need to pay to not get screwed, and we haven’t been paying…

Attributed to Wang Yang-ming (see also here and here):
To know and not to act is not to know.

September 1, 1939 (W.H. Auden):
Defenseless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.

John Derbyshire::
Wherever there is a jackboot stomping on a human face there will be a well-heeled Western liberal to explain that the face does, after all, enjoy free health care and 100 percent literacy.

January 5, 2008

Obamamania?! (Not to Mention Huckabee)

Since Bush was inaugurated, the US stock market has not kept up with inflation, while the value of the dollar has plunged. As the 2008 campaign begins, those who claim all is well and those who call for "change" have not confronted the real change that has been happening.

A fraction of a typical American stock's market value is its book value, but most of the market value represents the price investors are willing to pay for the company's future growth. So the world's valuation of America's future has not kept pace with inflation--with valuation in a sharply lower American dollar.

None of the presidential candidates is sounding the alarm about this. In particular, Obama spouts charismatic babble about change, new kind of politics, experience is unnecessary, blah blah blah. Actually, the foregoing sentence is not completely fair because, whether you agree or not, Obama's site has some thoughtful policy proposals, but the sentence is not completely unfair either.

While I can't picture Obama going eyeball-to-eyeball with Putin, Barack's supporters worry me at least as much as the candidate himself. Having roused the tiger's passion, after riding it to the Oval Office President Obama may find it difficult to persuade it to allow him to govern rationally.

Can I picture Hillary going eyeball-to-eyeball with Putin? Maybe. Depends on which Hillary shows up.

January 4, 2008

Hillary Clinton

As 2008 approached, I was resigned to an unwelcome but competent Clinton presidency. Certainly on paper Hillary is more palatable than Barack. Yet now that the campaign is unfolding,
I am astonished by how dislikable that woman is.

Consider the image at right (from TPM). What's with the red dress and Chinese collar? Is Hillary trying to evoke Madame Mao Tse-tung for radical voters? Or is the dress a gift from a Chinese Clinton...supporter?

Though I've hesitated to express the speculation that her hairstyle is intended to send a coded message to a constituency, apparently similar thoughts have occurred to others.

And there are other such things about Senator Now-The-Fun-Part-Starts, a number of which I possibly don't notice consciously.

Years ago I thought that many of the female guests on Louis Rukeyser's Wall Street Week obviously did not dress to advantage. I finally realized that the standards of their circle had evolved to a point which was strange to my Main Street sensibility. Conceivably that's what may have happened to Clinton--but, come to think of it, it doesn't matter to me whether the dissonance is intentional or accidental.

Peggy Noonan on Hillary:
There's something about her that makes you look, watch, think, look again, weigh and say: No.
Right now, my first sentence notwithstanding, that pretty much says it all.

Afterthought.During the 1992 campaign Hillary's pose as the All-American Modern Spouse was effective, but since then she has been unable or unwilling to maintain it. Perhaps she is moved by anger to send her non-mainstream signals. The privileged 60s boomers dressed distinctively when they fabricated anger about the terrible terrible world that the Great Generation created. There is also her resentment from decades of living with Bill. Maybe she thought the election was in the bag and started acting out the payback she wanted. The cause is far less important than the consequences.

Afterthought soon before the NH Primary polls close.
Recent Hillary photos look like Ms. All-American Wholesomeness is back. It's too late--and not necessarily just for NH.

Afterthought with 66% of vote counted. Well, maybe it's not too late...

The Nonbarking Dog in the Iowa Nighttime

It's astonishing that the Bhutto assassination's effect on the campaign was imperceptible.
An Instapundit reader notes that the 2008 campaign has kicked off with two populist demagogues taking the lead.

Be careful what you wish for...

The voters want change? They may get it.

They demand excitement? They may get it.

They want to complain about the economy? They may get one to complain about.

January 2, 2008

Market Down--Mark It Down

The stock market was down sharply today. The S&P 500 closed at 1447. When George W. Bush was inaugurated on January 20, 2001, the index stood at 1343--separated from today's close by 7 or 8%. Today's dollar-denominated close, not to put too fine a point on it...

Accordingly, even without a recession or other negative events, there's an appreciable chance that on Election Day and Inauguration Day the market will have meandered below where it stood when Bush took over eight years earlier. Surely electoral strategists are well aware of this possibility, but such a trifle may not merit the attention of George W. Bush, the Great Syncretist, Liberty's Apostle to Islam, and BIG Thinker.

The insider-trading indicator is strongly positive and I'm sticking with it. Uneasily.