Is “War on Terror” the Wrong Way to Frame the Issue?

Val Dorta has a long and thoughtful post about conceptual flaws in our “war on terror.” I agree that we aren’t dealing openly with the problems posed by Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. However, unlike Val I think that our behavior in this regard is probably more a function of our trying to finesse these situations, and if possible avoid war, than of any unwillingness on our part to face the truth. But I may be wrong, and Val makes the contrary case well.

Bush, the Dollar and Inflation

Don Luskin is worried about the dollar, or more precisely, about how the Bush administration appears to be systematically — and irresponsibly — devaluing the dollar to buy the votes of exporters and union members. I was worried a few months ago. Is Don right? Was I right?

Well, gold was cheaper when I first became concerned. Now it’s trading at around $380/oz. Also, the dollar regained some of its lost value after I made that post in June. But now the dollar has fallen sharply from its recent highs, and its downward momentum (relative to the Euro, and especially the Yen) has accelerated since the recent G7 finance ministers’ meeting. Time will tell, but it seems likely that Don is right and that there has been a policy shift. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the dollar make a new low vs. the Euro and to continue weakening against the Yen.

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OPEC Supply Cut

This article is one of many which were out today. One theme was that it seemed odd that OPEC would cut production now, with quotes like this: “I am surprised that OPEC would reduce their output at a time when stocks are still substantially below historical norms and we are entering the high demand winter season in the northern hemisphere”, and this: “It surprises me that they were prepared to cut at these prices,” said Nigel Saperia of Swiss trading house Glencore. “I wouldn’t want to play poker with these guys.” Interesting. If a decision does not seem to make economic sense, you have to ask: does it make political sense?

Absolutely, yes. If I were the Saudis and the Iranians and Hugo Chavez and others in OPEC, I think it would be worth it to suffer some economic loss in the short term if I could bring on a recession which would finish off Bush’s chances of reelection. The Saudis in particular know that they are in the cross-hairs. Get rid of Bush, and you have a new lease on life.

OK. Yeah. This is pure speculation on my part, but it makes sense.

IRAQ–One Exit Strategy: Just Leave

So sayeth Walter Russell Mead in this essay. Mead is one of the true smart guys around these days. He asks and answers some questions:

But what if things come unglued in Iraq? What if law and order don’t return, and the present low level of violence starts to rise and become better organized? What if the body count among U.S. forces continues to increase? Won’t American public opinion demand a speedy retreat? And wouldn’t a retreat that left Iraq still undemocratic undercut the U.S. further?

The short answer is that if Iraqi violence continues to rise, at some point the administration would go to Plan B: Find a general, turn the place over to him and go home.

This of course sounds pretty horrible. But Mead has a point:

Elites would wring their hands, but voters would just shrug their shoulders. Poll after poll shows that Americans want democracy and human rights to spread around the world — but that they don’t want American combat troops to be caught in the crossfire. If Iraqis reject U.S. help to build a democracy, and Bush decides to bring the troops home, most voters will agree with his decision. They were willing to give this democracy-in-the-Middle-East idea a try — and they genuinely do hope it will work — but at the end of the day, they don’t want a war over it.

What Mead is getting at is that Bush’s core Jacksonian supporters are not happy with the way things are going. Mead wrote this in June. Now, in September, it is much worse. Jacksonians like me were not real happy that this war was even called “Operation Iraqi Liberation”, for example. I don’t think it would ever have been worth sending American troops in somewhere solely because they had a horrible government. That’s their problem. I think we should send our troops in somewhere because it is to the benefit of the United States that we do so. While we are at it, we should conduct ourselves with the practical idealism which we are known for. And the whole “where are the WMDs” business is happening at all because Bush and his crew felt the need to get U.N. support and talk about “resolutions” that were violated and all that hogwash. It didn’t work, of course. The people who care about that crap would never, ever support him. So, what should have been a footnote is now a disaster for Bush: the basis for his “legal” argument is missing.

In Bush’s efforts to put a Wilsonian cloak on this war, the focus on “legality” and “human rights” was an attempt to woo the very people who despise him, and he is losing his base as a result. When he announced the price tag to rebuild the place, he lost another huge slice of his supporters. Millions of people in this country absolutely loathe the idea of “foreign aid”. They angrily begrudge every cent spent abroad. Bush’s only hope to sell this program in Iraq would be to focus on American interests and what we get out of the lives and treasure being shovelled into the place. But Bush won’t play it that way.

Bush’s mistake was that instead of reading books by guys like Mead, he believed the two Steves — Ambrose and Spielberg and that Brokaw guy, too. These guys presented a vision of WWII which was incomplete and hence misleading. We have had a half-generation of people who have been taught that the GIs of WWII went forth to liberate a continent and restore freedom and democracy, and that this was a noble cause. That was true in part. But mostly they went because they were drafted, and after that it was to kick the shit of out of the Japs who bombed us and their pals the Nazis who declared war on us. These were the same people who watched Germany overrun Europe without blinking. That was far away and it was somebody else’s problem. Only when we were attacked did the American public care about the war.

Bush has attempted to sell this war and its aftermath to the wrong people for the wrong reasons and they’re not buying. The people who had supported him in a “war on terror” no longer support him in an expensive effort to build a modern, democratic Iraq, a sales pitch that would never have worked with them anyway.

It is probably too late for Bush to “just leave.” And, at this point, it probably doesn’t matter for him. Bush has lost his core political support at home as a result of these blunders, irrevocably I suspect, and unless he acts very decisively very soon in some very noticeable way, he is going to lose the 2004 election as a result.

China in Space

There is post with some good links about the Chinese space program on Metafilter. I had a bunch of thoughts. I grew up on space exploration and science fiction, and Robert Heinlein’s novels featuring a colonized solar system. I remember the moon landing. I was 5. All very nice and a source of national pride, etc.

The best comment I ever heard anyone make about it was my mother, a true Jacksonian, Boston Irish style. She said if she had been Neil Armstrong, she’d have planted the flag on the moon and claimed it for America. “They could court martial me when I got back. It would be too late.” She would have. Old time lefties used to say the space program was all a front for the Pentagon. If only it were true. I wish we had gone into space to seize and hold the high ground over the planet to obtain a permanent and crushing military superiority for the United States. That strikes me as a worthy use of my tax money. Instead it was, to be blunt, a gigantic publicity stunt, which yielded us no concrete advantage at all. The Chinese, give them this much, will be seeking concrete military advantage with their space program, gaining experience with large, long-range missiles, with anti-satellite technology, with the military exploitation of space, developing the means to deny the use of space to the United States, their main adversary, the dragon they will have to slay one day, or at least drive out of the Pacific basin, back over the horizon to its lair in North America. Even a “moon base” could be used as a weapon platform to outflank satellite-based ABM technology. (See Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. A classic.)

The Chinese will probably talk the claptrap of humanity exploring the cosmos, the expansion of the frontiers of knowledge for all, blah, blah, blah. Unlike us, they aren’t stupid enough to believe in that stuff. They will do what is good for China, which means what is bad for China’s enemies, especially us. That’s what I’d do if I were them, and I don’t hold it against them and I’d expect no less.

How do say Jacksonian in Chinese?

Interesting Interview

Drudge links to a story about inactive-reserve Israeli military pilots who, as a political stunt, are refusing to participate in attacks on Palestinians. This is typical posturing by Israeli leftists whose agenda doesn’t have enough political support to be enacted via conventional democratic means; sort of the equivalent of U.S. leftists using the courts to bypass legislatures. Ho hum.

But the article links to another, much more interesting piece: an old interview (Part 1, Part 2) with Dan Halutz, the commander of the Israeli air force. The interview is long, and the questions are skeptical — almost to the point of hostility — about General Halutz’s claims of moral authority. But it seems to me that he has thought through the issues and answers the questions well. He comes across as articulate, morally serious and intensely pragmatic.

Time to Update the U.S. Privacy Act of 1974?

That’s what tech-journalist Declan McCullagh suggests in his latest online column — after learning that jetBlue Airways sold his (and lots of other people’s) personal info to a contractor who is doing research for U.S. government data-mining schemes.

A presentation prepared by contractor, Torch Concepts of Huntsville, Ala., describes how it merged the JetBlue database with U.S. Social Security numbers, home addresses, income levels and vehicle ownership information it purchased from Acxiom, a company that sells consumer data. Not all the details are clear, but the presentation discusses how Torch, on behalf of Uncle Sam, tried to rate each passenger’s security risk level by analyzing the merged databases.

That kind of disgraceful privacy intrusion demonstrates that it’s high time to amend the Privacy Act of 1974, which restricts databases that the U.S. government compiles but does not regulate how agencies access databases the private sector runs.

Enacted largely as a result of a federal report on automated data systems, the Privacy Act covers any “system of records” the government operates with personal information on American citizens. It limits the use and disclosure of those records and requires that the databases be protected with “appropriate administrative, technical and physical safeguards” to preserve their security and confidentiality. Government employees who disclose records in violation of the law’s procedures can be fined and imprisoned on misdemeanor charges.

In today’s world, the venerable Privacy Act doesn’t go far enough. It worked when computers could be defined as “automated data systems,” but Moore’s Law has exploded early 1970s-era notions of computing speed, and hard drive capacity has increased even more dramatically. The law fails to address the “databasification” of modern life.

Sounds good to me.

Clark is not really about Clark — He’s about Hillary

Hillary with Clark as VP? My long-standing prediction? It is looking more likely by the day. Mark Steyn has weighed in, suggesting that maybe, just maybe, what is happening is this: “General Clark is merely an unwitting “stalking horse”, designed to weaken both Dean and Bush just enough to enable the Democrats’ real white knight to jump in: waiting in the wings, Hillary Rodham Clinton.” William Safire analyzes the situation similarly, and more analytically, noting that control of the Democrat fund-raising apparatus is the key here, and Terry McAuliffe is the Clintons’ special buddy. But this guy, Craig Crawford gets it best of all. (Do read it all.) He starts out with some reverse spin “Sure, believing that the junior senator from New York will run for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination might be the political equivalent of believing in Unidentified Flying Objects.” (Not on this blog, baby.) He notes that Clark’s entire entourage is Clintonistas. The Clintons needed time for HRC to wiggle out of her promise not to run. They needed someone to derail Dean’s momentum. “Husband Bill publicly launched the pledge-dodge maneuver for his wife just as Clinton loyalists working for Clark leaked word to the media that the general would definitely run.” Clark’s campaign deals lots of dirt to the other Donk candidates. So, how the heck do they get Hillary in and Clark out of the way in just a few weeks? These are the Clintons, remember. “Clark and Clinton stage a summit and in a sudden burst of activity, the deal is done and she takes over his campaign organization just in time for the Nov. 21 filing deadline for the New Hampshire primary.” Right. Watch that date. November 21, 2003. That is D-Day.

Bill Clinton, with his pack of loyal advisors on hand, is the greatest tactical politician we have had in the White House since Nixon, and probably since Franklin D. Roosevelt, and maybe ever. He wants to get back in the White House. He and the wife are set to do it. Put nothing, nothing, nothing past these people. If she runs, she gets the nomination, and odds are better than even she beats W. It will either be close, or she will walk away with it, but Bush will have a Hell of a time beating her.

War not Metaphor

Jonathan sent me this article by Lee Harris entitled War and Wishful Thinking from Tech Central Station. Instapundit cited the article favorably, and Jonathan tells me that Harris has had good posts on technical issues. OK, so Harris gets some slack. But he is totally wrong in this article.

I sent an angry email in response, but for this post I’ll strip out much of the harshness and profanity for this family-style blog we’ve got going here.

First, Harris says that Bush describing what we are currently doing post 9/11 as a war is a “metaphor”. That is just so cloyingly academic, it reeks so foully of the faculty lounge. Please. For God’s sake, be smart instead of clever. Calling the current war a war is not about metaphor, it is about legality. If you don’t call it a war you can’t send your planes to blow things up and your troops to shoot people. Bush is commander in chief. If he doesn’t call it a war he can’t legally use what he has at his fingertips to destroy our enemies. The alternative is to call it a crime, which would change everything about what you can do. We are a law abiding society and if you don’t clearly define what you are doing and by what authority you are doing it, you get in deep trouble. Bush got himself a Congressional authorization for this very reason. That means the Commander in Chief can release the hounds. (Michael Lind’s interesting book Vietnam the Necessary War discusses this convincingly. Good review here by John Lewis Gaddis.)

Harris says this: “It is wishful thinking to believe that what we have before us is simply another war, of the kind that we have fought in the past.” What? Who ever said this? Bush said clearly it was NOT like any war we’ve ever been in. I heard him say that. So, duh, no.

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Barone v. Warren, with a glance at Hanson (and Churchill)

Michael Barone currently has an upbeat column about Iraq entitled Iraq in historical perspective. (Which I found via Instapundit— but I would have found it myself pretty soon. Really.) Meanwhile, David Warren has an incredibly depressing column entitled “Disaster”, on the same topic. Some light may be shed on this dichotomy by a perusal of the recent analysis provided by Victor Davis Hanson entitled These are Historic Times.

Barone castigates the media for holding Team Bush to a “zero defect” standard:

Today’s media have a zero-defect standard: the Bush administration should have anticipated every eventuality and made detailed plans for every contingency. This is silly. A good second-grade teacher arrives in class with a lesson plan but adapts and adjusts to pupils’ responses and the classroom atmosphere. A good occupying power does the same thing.

As usual with Barone, he supports his arguments with historical parallels:

Jean Edward Smith’s biography of Gen. Lucius Clay reveals that the first time he read the government’s plans for post-World War II Germany was on the flight over there to take charge. William Manchester’s American Caesar shows that Douglas MacArthur, however knowledgeable about the Far East, did not have clear ideas on how to rule postwar Japan. Clay and MacArthur improvised, learned from experience, made mistakes, and corrected them, adjusted to circumstances. It took time: West Germany did not have federal elections until 1949, four years after surrender; the peace treaty with Japan was not signed until 1951.

As Barone correctly notes, the media’s focus on bad facts misses most of the story: “It is news when there is a fatal accident at Disneyland and not news when there is not. But Iraq is not Disneyland. In a country that is occupied after decades of a brutal dictatorship, good news is news.” Exactly. He also points out that there is plenty of countervailing news which shows that the media is not telling us the whole story. He gives a few examples, and notes in particular “reports from soldiers on the ground, circulating widely on the Internet but seldom if ever appearing in old media, indicate that the large majority of Iraqis are friendly and helpful and glad that American troops are there.” (Pat yourselves on the back, O ye citizens of the Blogosphere.)

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Well alright. This is why it pays to have a blog, which strictly speaking doesn’t pay at all. One of our many tasteful readers, a ChicagoBoy himself, sent along a link to a cool Japanese girl rock band the’s. I never heard of them before but the tunes available on their site are pretty darn good. Hard-edged, rockabilly tinged garage punk. Great guitar sound. Pity about the overly snarky vocals. (Ya know, even though you are some kind of “punk”, really, it’s OK to sing.) They remind me a little of Thee Headcoatees, a little of the Cramps. Overall a solid B+ based on what I’ve heard so far.

Michael Barone

I wish he wrote more often. But, what we get from him is always good. I just noticed that he has a series of summaries of his political predictions from each biennial edition of his Almanac of American Politics, back to 1972. I only had a chance to skim it, but I’ll certainly read it all. I note he has entitled this section of his site a “blog”. Maybe we shall see more frequent day-to-day commentary from one of our most learned and sane commentators, blog-style, so to speak. I hope so.

Automotive News

Chicago boy RV has alerted me to this rare Honda street racer on eBay. This super-hot vehicle compares favorably to Sylvain’s new Beemer. . . . … and even to the legendary Foochie-Manoolie. Features abound:

In the summer the doors can be removed in the back instantly transforming this car into a civic with no rear doors. (Check with your local police ordinances before attempting this mod) In addition to the increased airflow, and weight reduction for street racing it allows for quick access when fly honeys want to cruise.

This “Type R” variant of the Honda Civic is equipped with state-of-the-art mods including a monster tach and hi-tech Biplane-Kamikaze-Combat-Strafe-Attack Spoiler.

Get your bids in before this beauty disappears!

I Told You She’s Running

Jonathan taught me long ago that in trading you don’t lightly abandon your model and just try things. I hold to the same view in the less serious business of making political predictions while sitting at the breakfast table. I predicted last January that Hillary would run and Wesley Clark would be her running mate. Nothing has changed my mind.

The New York Post has this headline:Bill on Hill: It’s a maybe. “Clinton loyalists were startled yesterday to hear former President Bill Clinton suggest that his wife hasn’t made up her mind yet about running for the White House.” (via Drudge.)

No sh*t, Sherlock. Bill got in when Bush 41 was at 90% approval. Hillary is not going to miss a chance to go after Bush 43 when he is below 50% approval. When she gets in she will pretty quickly sweep everyone else from the field, especially in terms of fund-raising. She’ll roll to the nomination easily.

On a related point, the Wall Street Journal has a discussion about Wesley Clark getting in on its editorial page. It notes that “[t]he Democratic Establishment, very much including Bill and Hillary Clinton, is pushing the retired general as its stop-Howard Dean candidate.” The WSJ then concludes incoherently:

All of this occurs amid speculation about Hillary’s own presidential ambitions. Her role in backing the general suggests that she and her husband fear that Dr. Dean’s insurgency could upset her own well-laid plans for 2008. The real battle for control of the Democratic Party may finally have begun.

Uh, no. If Hillary wanted to run in 2008, she step back and let Dean run the party off the cliff in ‘04 and come back and be the savior of her party in ‘08. She is backing Clark because she is going to employ him as her running mate. He will provide cover for her lack of national security/military expertise.

They are going to be a formidable combination and they will probably beat Bush. Hope I’m wrong, but I fear I’m not. Believe me, this is one prediction I’d be happy to be wrong about.

Let’s Don’t be Beastly to the Germans

Wall Street Journal front page story today: In a Shift, Schroder Says Germany Is Ready to Help U.S. Build Iraq. WSJ says:

While Mr. Schroder said Berlin wouldn’t provide any funding, he said that Germany was prepared to help train Iraqi police and Military Personnel and to work on varioius infrastructure projects.

Well, it will be good to have the Germans helping to train Iraqi cops and soldiers. They have made a good contribution in Afghanistan. As to not providing any funding, I’m not sure what that means. Are we going to pay the Germans to come in and do this? As to “infrastructure projects”, I guess the German construction industry wants a piece of the action that Brown, Root, et al. are getting and, best of all, apparently, at the expense of the U.S. taxpayer.

I’d say, have the Germans send their drill sergeants, but keep their bulldozers at home. But I’m sure we won’t do that. The U.S. will eagerly seize on any gesture of cooperation from the Germans. And, frankly, it will be good to have them in there.

Four New Posts (etc.)

Spare yourself the wrist strain of scrolling down — take the express lane.

1. Ralph Peters says keep the Turkish, Paki and Arab troops s out of Iraq.
2. Lex give you another chance to experience the greatness of cub.
3. Dig the new Baghdad Diary by Steve Mumford.
4. The facts are so good about the economy, funny how most people don’t hear about them …

I’m going to sleep now, so it will be a while, or never, before you will be blessed with my wisdom on Arnold and the California election, or an effusion about the totally excellent Muffs cassette (two live shows, 1997) I’ve been listening to in my super-cool new (to me) car, or about the remarkable book Army Life in a Black Regiment by Thomas Wentworth Higginson or the good article by Mark Bowden in the current (paper) edition of the Atlantic on torture and interrogation, (there‘s an interview here which I haven‘t gotten to yet) to say nothing about the William Kristol article about Leo Strauss I haven‘t even read yet, or these two books about John Boyd (this one and this one), or the very nice, illustrated copy of Moby Dick my wife just got (a smaller version of the Arion Press edition) and how funny it it seems to be and how I wish I had time to read it, or my musings on various of my friends getting seriously sick lately, and on a lighter note this one interview with Johnny Ramone and another one with Ivy Rorschach which I‘ve been going to share with you people once I get a few minutes to stop, read, think, type … .

So much stuff to read and to write about, so little time … .

Say No to Muslim “Peace-Keeping” Troops

The always blunt Ralph Peters lays it out. First the good news: “After prosecuting a just and triumphant war, the administration miscalculated much of the conflict’s aftermath. Yet our soldiers pulled the situation together – as they continue to do with increasing success – and President Bush showed the backbone to do what needed doing.” But … “Now he’s on the verge of squandering all that our men and women in uniform have gained.” How? Bush’s “recent move to persuade regional Islamic states to augment our forces in Iraq“ which would be “an act of folly so grave that its repercussions will be far worse than our failure to march on Baghdad at the end of Desert Storm.” Whoa. “[B]ringing in Turkish, Pakistani or Arab troops virtually guarantees the failure of our efforts to give Iraqis a chance to build a reasonably democratic, rule-of-law state.” Harsh words. Peters make a good case for why we should keep these jamokes the Hell out of Iraq. “The Turks are our enemies, not our friends, when it comes to Iraq’s future. … Having worked with Pakistan’s military myself, I know too well that Islamist bigotry permeates its ranks. …Congenitally incompetent, Arab forces would …do all they could to undermine our efforts and those of progressive Iraqis.” Peters tells us he

…spent the past week in Germany, speaking with our soldiers, from generals to privates. Some were just returning from Iraq, while others were about to deploy. I did not hear a single complaint about the mission. Even I was surprised by the optimism and commitment of our troops and their leaders. Our soldiers love their work and do it well. But every soldier, no matter the rank, with whom I raised the subject of Turkish, Pakistani or Arab peacekeepers coming to Iraq agreed it was a crazy, fatal idea.

Peters concludes that we need to start what we have finished, and clever attempts to rebuild Iraq on the cheap will backfire and be a disaster. OK. I’m convinced. Peters doesn’t really suggest alternatives, but it seems to me the alternative is a well-funded, full-scale effort to create a large and well-trained Iraqi army and police forces. Then, with our help, the Iraqis make Iraq safe for Iraqis.


Long-time ChicagoBoyz readers know that Lex is a perhaps overly effusive fan of the various musical incarnations of Lisa Marr. (See this, and this, and this comment I left on Captain Mojo’s site.) So I will resist the urge to launch into yet another (potentially tiresome) verbal avalanche of enthusiasm. I’ll keep it simple. Many of you may not know about her wonderful first band, cub (always lower case for some reason.) I notice that there are several complete songs here, though the sound quality is quite poor. “My Assassin” is a particular favorite, as is their cover of Beat Happening’s “Cast A Shadow” (cub’s version is 1,000,000 times better) as well the pop perfection of “New York City”. If you find that you dig these, crappy audio and all, you will be very well-served to go back and buy the cds, (or here), which only get better on repeated listens. (I like them best in this order: Come Out, Come Out; Betti Cola; Mauler; Box of Hair. Box of Hair, the last one, actually has a flew weak songs, but also a few brilliant ones. The others are mix of songs which are brilliant ranging down to merely very good.)

New Baghdad Journal

Artist Steve Mumford is back with another installment of his Baghdad Journal. He discusses one conversation with an Iraqi friend, who described his meetings with a western activist:

“We disagreed about everything. She wants to have solidarity with the Iraqis against the American occupation. I said to her, ‘Do you realize that if we were talking this way last year about Saddam we could be executed for it?'”
“Then she tells me something that is really kind of ignorant and offensive. She says that the Iraqis on the governing council are traitors. I tell her, no, I think they are some kind of heroes. I did not get really angry at her; she had been shot in the leg by soldiers in Israel, where she was protesting — for some reason I felt I had to be gentle with her. But you know, at least Israel is a democracy. We could learn some things from it.
“Look, sure the Americans have their interests here,” Naseer said. Everyone has their own interests! We do not ask anyone to be noble. But right now the interests of the Americans coincide with the interests of the Iraqis and we are benefiting from it.

However, Mumford notes that his friend’s views are not universal:

I know that opinions on the streets of Baghdad are wildly divergent, and many resent or at least question the American presence here, particularly in the face of efforts by the army and the nascent Iraqi police force to provide security against the rising tide of crime and terrorism.
Trying to measure the success or failure of the occupation is like the proverbial group of blind men attempting to describe an elephant: each person tends to see the war and its aftermath differently, through the prism of their own ideology and experience. Some people talk about the children who died as a result of the sanctions, some talk about the thousands of Iraqis murdered by Saddam.
Watching the BBC here in Baghdad, I get the impression that the war has left a state of worsening chaos throughout the country. Walking through the streets I often have the opposite feeling. Then a bomb goes off somewhere and I brace myself for worse times ahead.

The whole essay is good, and the pictures are good too.

A Bush Boom? Don’t Wait to Hear About it on TV …

Sylvain’s post, immediately preceding this one, about a recent Don Luskin article, seems to reflect a growing consensus. The economy is in better shape than our little friends in the mainstream media want us to know about.

Jonathan sent me this article, The Bush Boom, by Brian S. Wesbury, which has all kinds of delightful news:

… the third and fourth quarters are on track for what could be 6.0% real GDP growth. Retail sales show a 12.1% annualized increase in the June-August period. Housing starts are at a 17-year high, new and existing home sales have set new records this year, and disposable personal income is up an annualized 9.4% in the past three months. Productivity growth in the non-farm business sector expanded at an astounding 6.8% in the second quarter, while spending on computers and peripheral equipment jumped 57.5% at an annualized rate.

The worm in the apple, at least for Bush’s political fortunes, is the permanent disappearance of manufacturing jobs. “What the economy is experiencing today is a significant structural shift, not just a cyclical one. While manufacturing output has held steady as a share of GDP, manufacturing employment has fallen from 25% of all jobs in 1970 to 11% today.” Count on the media to focus on these manufacturing jobs going away forever, forever, forever … .

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Maybe It’s Not Just Democrats Who Want to Shut Down Rush Limbaugh

This WSJ editorial patronizes Republican pols, treating them as too foolish to understand that their interest lies in avoiding reregulation of electronic media.

What’s amazing is how oblivious Republicans are to this stop-Rush game. So eager are Senators Trent Lott and Kay Bailey Hutchison to paste a defeat on their local media enemies that they’re willing to punish all media companies. For their part, House Republicans have fallen for the lobbying of local TV and newspapers that want Congressional protection from takeover bids; Members are too frightened by what kind of coverage they’ll get next election to just say no.

It could be that editorial writers at the WSJ understand politics better than experienced national politicians do. An alternative possibility is that Limbaugh doesn’t serve the interests of Republican pols any more than he serves those of Democrats. Rush doesn’t hesitate to criticize Republicans when they screw up, or to gin up popular enthusiasm for courses of action that most pols would prefer to avoid. He probably helps Republicans as a group but it’s not necessarily in the interest of individual Republican officeholders to come under his scrutiny. A lot of them, particularly pork-addicted jerks like Trent Lott, might find life easier if Limbaugh weren’t around.