Chronicle of the Conspiracy
Friday, March 31, 2006HONEY, I TOLD YOU NOT TO LET HER PLAY WITH THE CHICKEN CORPSES But would you listen? Nooooo! The latest avian flu news:
Indonesia reported its 23rd human death from H5N1. The victim was a one-year-old girl who had come in contact with dead poultry.Update... Further proof that the mainstream media can't be trusted:
Israel suspects journalists, particularly press photographers, of being behind the spread of deadly bird flu in the Jewish state.Update [4/2/2006]...Okay. Now it's happening in Egypt too. Can't someone just get these kids a Barbie to play with or something?
Two more Egyptians have been infected with the bird flu virus, Egyptian Health Minister Hatem el-Gabali said on Sunday, taking to eight the number of reported human cases in the country.
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 11:39 PM | link
JOKE OF THE DAY
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 11:58 AM | link
LOW UNEMPLOYMENT REALLY IS LOW Paul Krugman and all the other leftist economists are fond of arguing that the present low unemployment rate belies the true devastation in the job market, because of the large number of "discouraged workers" who have dropped out of the labor force. Now a paper by four Federal Reserve economists refutes that claim. As the investment manager who blogs as "Donny Baseball" puts it,
I've got to slog through the report to see if the methodology is sound, but the conclusions of a new Fed report seem entirely logical and refute one of Paul Krugman's famous threads on which he hangs the assertion that the current economy is a disaster, namely that unemployment is understated because so many people are discouraged at the lack of opportunities and thus are not counted as unemployed. With this already dubious argument now gone, I guess he can still hang economic catastrophe on the fact that the government doesn't offer unlimited, fully-paid hip replacements.Here's a link to the report itself.
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 11:52 AM | link
EVERYONE HAS TO MAKE SACRIFICES Hasn't Viet Nam suffered enough?
The poor communist nation says it accomplished this feat by vaccinating millions of chickens and ducks, slaughtering millions more, by being honest with international health officials, and by educating its citizens.
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 9:18 AM | link
IT'S LIKE Y2K ALL OVER AGAIN A billion here and a billion there, and pretty soon you're talking about real money:
near New York's Times Square...The national debt clock, as it is known, is a big clock. A spot-check last week showed a readout of 8.3 trillion -- or more precisely 8,310,200,545,702 -- dollars ... and counting.
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 1:45 AM | link
KNOW WE KNOW WHOSE FAULT AVIAN FLU IS... Amazingly, it's not George Bush. From Reuters:
Headlining a new Chinese and English language Web site (www.avianflu.cn) "Avian flu: it's your fault", the Asia Pacific branch of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) says it is drawing attention to unsavory factory farming practices.
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 1:45 AM | link
Thursday, March 30, 2006LUSKIN ON CNBC TODAY I'll be on CNBC's "Closing Bell" show today -- airtime approximately 3:10 pm EST. The subject? What else -- avian flu. Seems like no one wants me to talk about anything else anymore. The trick to getting booked on these shows is to be able to talk about the end of the world (oh -- and having picked a list of stocks up over 100% in the last 7 months doesn't hurt, either).
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 12:14 PM | link
Wednesday, March 29, 2006I SHOULD HAVE DONE THE END OF THE WORLD THING LONG AGO More quotes on avian influenza. From MarketWatch:
A flu index
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 8:19 PM | link
JOKE OF THE DAY
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CAN WE LAY THIS TO REST NOW, FINALLY? From Econopundit:
Phantasies of the upcoming Iranian Oil Exchange -- trading as it is slated to in euros rather than dollars -- have generated many fevered visions of perpetual drainage of dollars into Euros as the world competes to purchase Iranian oil. And now it is Milton Ezrati at the Christian Science Monitor who gets the prize for finally explaining (1) exactly why the Bourse will fail and (2) exactly how the Bourse at its worst (Hey! Yo! It almost rhymes!) can induce nothing than a one-time trade of a certain stock of dollars for Euros, not a perpetual drain...
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 11:05 AM | link
RELATIVELY COWARDLY How quickly the New York Times makes corrections when the Angry Left lodges an objection. It seems that describing the number of anti-war protestors as "relatively small" was objectionable -- so the Times has clarified that while some protests drew the "relatively small" number of 7,000, others drew 10,000 (and, therefore, were not "relatively small," but rather were "relatively large," at least relative to 7,000). You with me?
Because of an editing error, a front-page article on March 20 about the Bush administration's defense of its Iraq strategy misstated the magnitude of antiwar protests held in cities around the country on the weekend of March 18-19, the third anniversary of the American-led invasion. They were not all relatively small: while some 7,000 people demonstrated in Chicago on March 18 and smaller protests were held in other cities, a larger demonstration took place in Portland, Ore., on March 19, and organizers estimated that at least 10,000 people took part. (Go to Article)How can such mistakes happen in the first place? An "editing error," of course -- which is to say, inappropriate political supervision.
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 1:39 AM | link
Tuesday, March 28, 2006SOME PEOPLE WON'T ACKNOWLEDGE THE MOOSE IN THE ROOM ... while others refuse to acknowledge different animals. From Reuters:
In a home nearby, in the village of Nawa some 30 km (19 miles) north of Cairo where Egypt's first bird flu fatality was recorded, a father refused to acknowledge a large duck in the front room of his hovel, where several infants were playing.Still others see things that aren't there. According to the World Health Organization, there have been no human infections or deaths in Egypt. Ducks? We couldn't say.
Update [3/29/2006]... As of today the WHO acknowledges that the Egyptian government believes there have been human infections and deaths, but they have not been confirmed.
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 2:57 PM | link
JOKE OF THE DAY
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 1:39 PM | link
SO LET ME GET THIS STRAIGHT... Senator Lindsey Graham, whose bill with Chuck Schumer threatens China with a 27.5% tariff if they don't revalue their currency, says that revaluation won't make any difference anyway:
"The currency issue will not wipe out the [US/China trade] deficit," Graham told reporters following an announcement that he and Schumer were delaying a vote on the proposed legislation.Translation: China disrupting its own economy and letting the US dictate its monetary policy won't help the US -- but it will give the US confidence to shake down China again over something else, later. Now that's salesmanship. No wonder they delayed their bill again.
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 1:29 PM | link
THEY JUST CAN'T HELP THEMSELVES The liberal media takes every opportunity to advance the agenda of the welfare state. Consider this article on combating avian flu in today's New York Times:
Dr. David Nabarro, chief avian flu coordinator for the United Nations...knows the value of a yard chicken because he has worked in Nepal, northern Iraq and East Africa fighting malaria and malnutrition...Emphasis added. Thanks to reader Will Slaughter for the link.
Update... Elsewhere in the same story, Dr. Nabarro complains that his estimates for potential deaths from an avian flu pandemic have been exaggerated by the media:
On avian flu, he notes, he predicted 5 million to 150 million deaths — the same range the World Bank was using — but headline writers quoted only the higher figure.The Times, well beyond irony, says in another story in today's paper:
"...it could be something like 200 million," closer to an estimate once made by Dr. David Nabarro, chief avian flu coordinator for the United Nations.
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 11:33 AM | link
GORENOMICS IN THE WSJ Al Gore dresses up his environmentalism fetish with the jargon of economics on the editorial page of today's Journal. Econopundit comments:
[Gore:]"Capitalism and sustainability are deeply and increasingly interrelated. After all, our economic activity is based on the use of natural and human resources. Not until we more broadly 'price in' the external costs of investment decisions across all sectors will we have a sustainable economy and society."
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 10:27 AM | link
SOME ERRORS ARE SO GOOD THEY HAVE TO BE REPEATED Need a credible source? Make the source you've got more credible by lying about his credentials. The Free Market Project
:“Starting off a week’s worth of “in-depth” reporting on global warming, “World News Tonight” falsely presented a liberal journalist and author as a Pulitzer Prize winner.It turns out that Gelbspan and his associates are complicit in this lie. Can you imagine the firestorm if Gelbspan were a conservative, or if he opposed fear of global warming?
...While Gelbspan’s publisher and the group he founded, Climate Crisis Coalition, claim the journalist won a Pulitzer Prize, a search for Gelbspan on the Pulitzer Prize’s official Web site yields no results for the former Boston Globe editor.
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 8:52 AM | link
ANDY CARD RESIGNS Well deserved. And it's about time. Now if only he'd been replaced by Dick Cheney, 2008 could start looking really interesting.
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 8:40 AM | link
IS MOLLY IVINS GUNNING FOR PAUL KRUGMAN? One blogger thinks so.
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 12:05 AM | link
THANK GOD FOR McCAIN FEINGOLD Reader Norman Berger points us to the sobering truth about campaign contributions for presidential elections. Wasn't "campaign finance reform" supposed to reduce the role of big money in politics? Seems to me the money just keeps getting bigger and bigger -- exponentially.
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 12:00 AM | link
Monday, March 27, 2006THE TIMES ON TRIAL The Supremes have spoken. The New York Times can't evade due process any longer.
The Supreme Court refused Monday to block a defamation lawsuit against The New York Times over columns that linked a former Army scientist to the 2001 anthrax killings...A federal judge had thrown out Hatfill's lawsuit against The New York Times over 2002 columns by writer Nicholas Kristof that faulted the FBI for failing to thoroughly investigate Hatfill. The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the suit, and the Supreme Court declined without comment to take up the case.Thanks to reader Jill Olson for the link.
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 10:21 PM | link
Sunday, March 26, 2006PENSION REFORM: SOME GOOD STUFF IN THERE Our Washington "lawyer/lobbyist" friend (who, as always, insists on anonymity) has some thoughts about pending pension reform legislation:
One of the reoccurring ironies of Washington is that bad things are often hidden in good bills and vice versa. Such is the case with pension reform, now in a House-Senate conference. Among the good things inside this massive bill (which may end up bailing out bad-acting industries) is a reform to allow investment advice to be given to employees by those firms actually involved (via their management of 401(k) and other retirement funds) and therefore able to give advice. Studies show that even employees who set aside money for their retirement do not seek education about investing on their own. The theory here is to increase the supply of basic information by those incented to provide it. The naysayers see this as a "conflict" Yeah, like a good waiter recommending a better dish on the menu? Is ignorance acceptable if it's free of conflict? Can we grow up?
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 10:11 PM | link
JOKE OF THE DAY
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 1:08 PM | link
CENTRAL BANKS BEGIN TO ENTERTAIN NON-CENTRAL IDEAS Could it be that the world's central banks are beginning to intellectually diversify? One version of it has already happened at the Fed. And now another at the Bank of England. From Bloomberg:
It's not often the words ``sex'' and ``Bank of England'' inhabit the same sentence. David Blanchflower's appointment to the central bank may change that.Okay... bully for empiricism, and for understanding the inextricable links between human action and economic outcomes. But there's a dark side. Blanchflower's empiricism could lead to new and even more horrific forms of central bank micromanagement of the human experience, beyond the economy:
In a May 2005 paper called ``Happiness and the Human Development Index,'' Blanchflower and Oswald say that rich nations overemphasize economic growth. ``The industrialized countries should, in our judgment, use a broader conception of well-being than the height of a pile of dollars,'' they write. Maybe we should ``substitute the goal of Gross National Happiness for the more traditional economist's objective of Gross National Product.''Thanks to our pseudonymous correspondent "Irrational Exuberance" for the link.
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 1:08 PM | link
AVIAN FLU? DON'T WORRY ABOUT IT! After running dozens of scare stories, this week the New York Times has decided that avian flu is nothing to worry about. In today's "Week in Review" section, it's being relegated in advance to the dustbin of history along with Mad Cow disease, SARS, and small pox. Yeah, that's right. Don't worry one bit:
"...once the threat arrives, even if there's an undercurrent of terror in the whole society, people see the consequences and they get accustomed to it, just as they got accustomed to plague in the Middle Ages."See? It's just like the plague. Nothing to worry about. You'll get used to it.
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 12:02 PM | link
"THE SAD FACT, OF COURSE"... Gretchen Morgenson, the New York Times reporter whose sensationalist true-crime stories appear in the anti-business business section, just doesn't understand how the world works (so she makes stuff up). Today she writes another among hundreds of repetitive anti-corporate greed screeds:
It has been beyond exasperating to watch money managers, who are fiduciaries, vote their clients' shares in support of compliant or incompetent boards in recent years. With the exception of some public pension funds, institutional shareholders have uttered nary a peep about directors on the scene during significant accounting blowups or those who dispensed overly generous pay packages and perquisites to underperforming executives.Does it ever occur to Morgenson that shareholders wouldn't even hold the stock in the first place if they didn't like company management? It's simply Morgenson's personal judgment that management is bad -- so any "exasperation" is really just with the reality that she and some fund manager happen to have differing judgments. And never trust any "fact" followed by the phrase "of course." She's just making this up. To justify complaining about a crime that's not a crime, she's inventing a motive out of whole cloth. How does she know what's going on in the minds of thousands of institutional shareholders, some of whom may have affiliates doing business with company managements and many more that do not?
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 11:55 AM | link