Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Last month when the initial 3rd quarter GDP growth estimate was notched at 7.2%, vindicating the President’s tax cut strategy, the Democratic nay-sayers were quick to point out that the number was probably a fluke and was likely to be revised downward. Well, the official revised GDP number is out this morning: 8.2%!

Along with yesterday’s rosy 2004 growth forecasts from the nation’s leading economists, this news is yet another blow to the liberals politicians and pundits who’ve been long spinning the yarn that tax cuts in any form are detrimental to the economy. For a while, during the dark days of the mildest recession in many years, the media was doling out this pablum by the fistful; “tax cuts are evil things, and everyone knows it”, they cried, ad nauseum.

The message cut deep with swing voters who are used to cobbling together policy positions without a full recollection of basic economic history. Take my “Chicago liberal” in-laws, for instance. The dinner table chatter over the past couple of years was peppered heavily with the notions that “tax cuts don’t work”, and “Bush’s plan makes no sense”. When pressed for specific instances of the failure of broad tax cuts in US history, or other alternatives the White House could adopt to spur growth, they demurred, professed ignorance and promptly changed the subject.

It’s easy to repeat what you see on NBC Nightly News as gospel. What’s tough is defending yourself when called upon to substantiate such drivel.

Friday, November 21, 2003

The geezers in the Chinese Politburo have decided its time to reach out to its burgeoning younger populace and bridge the generation gap. The solution? Broadcast that hip, new American show setting all the kids abuzz: Friends. Chinese TV will air their first episodes next year.

Welcome to 1994, Comrades!

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Happened across this curious statement in an AP article on China’s attempt to introduce a new video technology to compete with DVDs:
Because large parts of China's economy are still controlled by the state, it is in a better position than most countries to ensure such new technology will take hold in the domestic market.

Mental Note: File this under “The Plus Side of Totalitarian Dictatorships” folder…

Jean Chretien, Cuba North’s autocratic Prime Minister, is set to retire Dec. 12th. At a news conference announcing his long awaited departure, the PM wistfully recalled his three greatest achievements after a decade in power: balancing the federal budget, staving off Quebec separation, and opting out of Operation Iraqi Freedom. To some that might seem like a damn fine to-do list, but if it’s the best Mr. Chretien can muster after such a lengthy stranglehold on the levers of power, then Canadians should raise their collective expectations of what constitutes decisive, proactive leadership.

Balancing the books was less a laudable feat of skillful leadership than a classic case of good timing. The deficit the Liberal government inherited in 1993 was well on its way to extinction without the creative bookkeeping of the Chretien Administration. The prior Conservative government successfully ushered in two key pieces of legislation, much to the Liberals’ chagrin, that put Ottawa’s fiscal fortunes on a decidedly solid footing. First, Brian Mulroney, Chretien’s predecessor, oversaw the signing of the Free Trade Agreement with the US, thereby tying the country’s economic future to America’s even more tightly. Consequently, the Canadian economy benefited immensely from the 90’s high tech boom, hence so did the government’s tax coffers. If a palsy-riddled monkey couldn’t balance the books with that windfall alone, then all the extra coin from a new GST national sales tax (another Mulroney initiative, with an estimated annual revenue of $12 billion) definitely did the trick.

Mr. Chretien rates the balanced budget as “his” single greatest achievement in office. Frankly, without a potent mixture of luck and the sweat equity of the previous government, I’d venture a calculated guess that Cuba North would be 2 red cents away from insolvency right about now.

I wouldn’t get too comfortable taking credit for keeping Quebec in the Dominion either, Jean. Let’s put this into perspective. Not only were the Separatistes able to put a “Screw Canada” referendum on the ballot for the 2nd time in 15 years, they came a hair away from winning it, to boot. If it weren’t for a last minute voting surge from the urban ridings of Montreal and Hull, the PM would have found his own constituency squarely in the middle of the Republic of Quebec. Passing “anti-separation” legislation two years after such a close near miss is like buying car insurance after the head-on collision. If Chretien was so committed to keeping Canada whole, he would have worked harder to ensure the referendum never came to fruition in the first place.

Finally, the Prime Minister stated that he takes great pride in opposing US-led efforts to depose Iraq’s brutal, murderous regime and replace it with the Arab world’s first legitimate democracy. What can I say about Chretien’s defacto affinity for the tyrannical Saddam Hussein that hasn’t already been said? I guess birds of a feather flock together, eh Jean?

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Andrew Sullivan's piece in The New Republic is a fantastic analysis of Gen. Wesley Clark's latest contortions of logic and truth, including damning accusations of a secret Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld plan to topple and subsequently rule several Middle Eastern countries. As Andy put it:

What we know about Wesley Clark from this brief extract is therefore quite damning: His logic about the differences between Iraq and Kosovo is illogic; his own position on both wars has been contradictory and confused; his fundamental argument is based on an unsubstantiated conspiracy theory that even he admits he cannot prove. And this man wants to be president of the United States?

Friday, November 07, 2003

More bad news for the Democrats. Not only did the economy add 126,000 jobs last month, the figure for September was revised upward from 57,000 to 125,000. In the words of one economist: "We can finally put the nail in the coffin of the jobless recovery."

Over the past few months all we heard from Howard Dean & Company was "America is in the midst of the worst economy since the Hoover Administration", and "This is a hollow jobless recovery". So, where are all the bread-lines? Where are the millions of homeless, unemployed people riding boxcars from town to town, seaching for work? Where are the average American Joe's taking $2/hr fruit picking jobs (a la Grapes of Wrath), displacing all the illegal Latino migrant workers in the process?

Where's the "America in decline" I've heard so much about from the Democratic Presidential candidates? Where is it, Howard?

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Reuters issued a curious piece of bias this morning under the headline “Mayoral Races May Hold Clues for 2004 Elections”. I read the article, fully expecting a balanced analysis portending next November’s White House race. Instead, I was treated to two profiles of Democratic candidates, each polling far ahead of Republican opponents in cities that are traditionally Democratic. First up, Philadelphia incumbent mayor John Street, who is riding the crest of a popular wave heading into today's vote after accusing the White House and Justice Dept. of orchestrating a conspiracy to discredit him. Next came Gavin Newsom, the San Francisco Democratic mayoral candidate, who’s described as a “moderate” in the article despite glowing endorsements from left-wing stalwarts Nancy Pelosi and Dianne Feinstein. He’s a full 20 points ahead of his Republican challenger in the latest poll numbers.

I re-read the article twice, thinking I had missed something. But, my search for the “clues” to next year’s federal race was fruitless. I ended up wasting an extra 5 minutes perusing a puff piece about Democratic candidates running strongly in Democratic strongholds.

Is this article another case of journalistic wishful thinking or just plain cluelessness? Go back and read about the “close” California gubernatoral race the newswires were gushing about just hours before Arnold blew Gray Davis away by double digits. Do you see a pattern here?

Monday, November 03, 2003

Read today's stock market wrap-up from Briefing.com and ask yourself if the Democrats aren't completely screwed.

Combined with last week's advance Q3 GDP reading of 7.2%, the strong ISM report proved just what the market needed to set new 52-week highs for the major averages, as well as the mid- and small-cap indices, which set not only new year highs, but also new all-time highs...