Wednesday, June 09, 2004

HEAD FOR THE EQUATOR! The next ice age is coming! In 15,000 years! So says Richard Ingham of Agençe France-Presse who wasn't there

The next ice age is more than 15,000 years away, according to evidence from an Antarctic ice core, the deepest and oldest ever extracted. The core gives us a 740,000-year record of the planet's climate, including the past eight ice ages, and interglacials, the periods in between. A consortium of European researchers published its study in the latest issue of the journal Nature. The scientists endured temperatures as low as minus 40ºC to drill the sample at a site so remote that the nearest research outpost was 1000 kilometers away by tractor across the white wilderness.
Notice that it was lifted from "the latest issue of the journal Nature"? Typical of AFP, which isn't a news agency but a branch of the French government, its governing board appointed by various government ministers. At least it wasn't an outright lie, but AFP does that as well. (Some other time.)

AFP is also cheap. It also seems that the story was the only freebie of that month's Nature magazine...

Sunday, June 06, 2004

Ronald Reagan, RIP: Yes, Ronald Reagan stood fast at the helm, rearmed America and forced the Evil Empire to back down. He was at the right place, with the right foreign policy, at the right time.

Ronald Reagan, RIP Posted by Hello

That being said, The Ultra Moderate is not among Ronald Reagan’s devoted admirers. Other leaders, such as the late Scoop Jackson a DEMOCRAT, would have done precisely same thing to the three dottering old ideologues who drove the Soviets into bankruptcy. (Anyone remember their names? Brezhnev, Andropov, and who?)

The difference is that Ronald Reagan tried to do the very same thing to the United States -- by massive tax cuts, spending hikes, and neglecting the nation's infrastructure of roads, bridges, and ports.

If you are old enough, think back – what was the biggest domestic issue during the Reagan Administration?

The deficit, brought on by really stupid, across-the-board, tax cuts, an arbitrary 25 percent right off the top. Reagan and his supply-siders believed that reducing taxes would actually provide more revenue because the economy would immediately shoot skyward, the so-called “supply side” effect. Yeah, sure, as if an economy -- any economy -- could grow by 25 percent in three years even if all taxes were suspended. (Republican Senator and future presidential candidate Bob Dole called supply side “voodoo economics.”)

The result was predictable: massive deficits and an unparalleled economic, political, and diplomatic disaster. Essentially, the Reaganites paid for their folly by essentially selling the country to the Japanese, who behaved like overbearing colonialists. The U.S. only managed to salvage its national independence by sheer luck – the Japanese invested poorly, mismanaged their American businesses, and suffered a major economic meltdown.

If you don’t remember any of this, read the book by Reagan’s first budget director David Stockman. Called “The Triumph of Politics: Why the Reagan Revolution Failed,” it is a bitter indictment the Administration’s political naiveté, rigid orthodoxy, and wishful thinking.

Like Reagan, Stockman was conservative in values and thinking, but unlike the president, he but tried to live in the real world. Stockman, on the other hand, believed that two plus two always equaled four. Always. (Read the Amazon reviews, they are very good.)

Stockman’s reaction to the Reagan Administration’s ideological fairyland can also be found online in William Greider’s classic essay, “The Education of David Stockman,” which appeared in Atlantic Magazine in December, 1981, less than a year after Reagan took office. According to Greider, Stockman felt like Alice down a rabbit hole.

The deficit miscalculations should have brought down the Reagan Administration, but it only whetted its appetite for more folly: Reagan thought that all regulation of business was bad. Baaaaaaaaad. So he fired all the bank examiners and let the savings and loan industry run wild. And when that produced a hundreds of billions in losses, he overreacted and shut down vast numbers of healthy institutions because new rules said that they were technically “insolvent.” The result was a half trillion dollar loss.

That's what I said, you young whippersnappers. A half trillion dollar loss -- $2,000 per American -- that had to be made up by, guess who? Yep, the taxpayer. Some friend of the people!

As a writer specializing in banking and accounting, let me tell you: Not since Herbert Hoover, had an ideologue caused as much economic pain.

Still think that Ronald Reagan was a great man? He wasn't. He was just a intellectually inflexible nice guy who, like millions of others, was right about the great crisis of the twentieth century, but was flat out wrong about everything else.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

Me: Ok, here I am, to the right, the Militant Moderate -- En garde!

I do look quite handsome, don't I? A sort of Cavalier by Rembrandt, I'm told. The clothes do draw attention at city council meetings, and I have to leave the dirk, the dagger, the wheel-lock pistols, the men-at-arms, in the hallway. Such a pity.

I've been working in the vineyards of journalism and local politics the past week. It has been fascinating. It seems that I am absolutely 100 percent correct: Ideologies don't work.

Every local issue I run into has good guys and bad guys in both major parties, and nobody can square them with Left or Right, just with common sense. Like land use and parks. And airports.

I just got off the phone with a major elected public official and an important political operative. They are Democrat and Republican, atheist and fundamentalist, have astonishingly different perspectives on Iraq and the current occupant of the White House, BUT -- they agree on absolutely every local issue of substance.

Why? Because when it comes to streets and sewers, all politics is local, and whether or not you are interested in what the people need, or in special interests.

If only I could knock some sense into both of them -- THINK the same way when it comes to immigration, offshoring, the terror war! THINK!

Sigh... But they are both great guys.

The Ultra Moderate Posted by Hello