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Saturday, October 29, 2005

New Orleans Police Officers Fired

The city of New Orleans has taken action against police officers who deserted during Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath:
New Orleans Fire Officers for Desertion: "Amid the chaos that ensued as Hurricane Katrina struck the city, dozens of police officers and civilian employees left their posts unexpectedly and were not heard from again. On Friday, the New Orleans Police Department fired 51 of them -- 45 officers and six civilian workers -- for abandonment.

'They either left before the hurricane or 10 to 12 days after the storm and we have never heard from them,' acting police superintendent Warren Riley said.

Police were unable to account for 240 officers on the 1,450-member force following Katrina. The force has been investigating them to see if they left their posts during the storm.

The mass firing was the first action taken against any of the missing officers. Another 15 officers resigned when placed under investigation for abandonment."
Gee... August 29 to October 29 is 61 days without any communication from the 51 missing employees. Wouldn't want to be too hasty, now, would we? Admittedly, the situation was pretty chaotic for awhle there, but you'd think they'd at least come by to pick up their checks.

Clearly, the city administration has learned how to act quickly and decisively after the problems exposed by the hurricane response.

Friday, October 28, 2005

South Park

On a recent South Park episode they satirized the media overreaction in post-Katrina New Orleans. You can see a clip of the show at, wherein Stan and Eric accidentally destroy a beaver dam and flood the town of Beaverton. Hilarity ensues. Hilarity also permeates the comments, as readers argue about whether the show is lampooning Fox News or the leftwing media (i.e. all the others). Hint: it's both. (H/T Cathy Young)

Oklahoma Bomber

It's a little "old" now, but Reason's Cathy Young has an interesting post on her blog, The Y Files about the case. She's is skeptical of the critics of the official version of the story. The discussion in the comment string is what really makes the post. She also has a followup with more comments.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Peggy Noonan

This is probably not a Peggy Noonan column to read if you're already feeling down:
OpinionJournal - Peggy Noonan: "I think there is an unspoken subtext in our national political culture right now. In fact I think it's a subtext to our society. I think that a lot of people are carrying around in their heads, unarticulated and even in some cases unnoticed, a sense that the wheels are coming off the trolley and the trolley off the tracks. That in some deep and fundamental way things have broken down and can't be fixed, or won't be fixed any time soon. That our pollsters are preoccupied with 'right track' and 'wrong track' but missing the number of people who think the answer to 'How are things going in America?' is 'Off the tracks and hurtling forward, toward an unknown destination.'

I'm not talking about 'Plamegate.' As I write no indictments have come up. I'm not talking about 'Miers.' I mean... the whole ball of wax. Everything. Cloning, nuts with nukes, epidemics; the growing knowledge that there's no such thing as homeland security; the fact that we're leaving our kids with a bill no one can pay. A sense of unreality in our courts so deep that they think they can seize grandma's house to build a strip mall; our media institutions imploding--the spectacle of a great American newspaper, the New York Times, hurtling off its own tracks, as did CBS. The fear of parents that their children will wind up disturbed, and their souls actually imperiled, by the popular culture in which we are raising them. Senators who seem owned by someone, actually owned, by an interest group or a financial entity. Great churches that have lost all sense of mission, and all authority. Do you have confidence in the CIA? The FBI? I didn't think so.

But this recounting doesn't quite get me to what I mean. I mean I believe there's a general and amorphous sense that things are broken and tough history is coming."
We think Peggy needs to take her meds and get a good night's sleep, but she has some valid points.

Black Conservatives Must Be Destroyed

Liberals know that if they ever lose their monopoly-hold on Black voters, the Democrats are in big trouble. Consequently, there's nothing they hate more than a successful, articulate, Black conservative. To keep Blacks on the Liberal Plantation those who don't conform must be demonized. Today Michelle Malkin demonstrates that last week someone at USA Today decided to doctor a photo of Condi Rice to make her eyes look crazed.

Over at Plains Feeder, PTG has a nice blend of the two versions of the photo (before and after the eye treatment).

The Photoshop users commenting at Michelle's blog are adamant that this had to be deliberate, and that it's a highly amateurish job. Someone at USA Today should be fired over this if that paper has any integrity at all.

Update: The blogger who originally broke this story is BuckTownDusty at FromThePen. Credit where credit is due, and Michelle should be linking him, too. Also credit to La Shawn Barber for this piece of information.

Update2: Michelle's post does in fact have a link to FromThePen, so it's not necessarily her fault if proper credit got lost by others in the shuffle.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Monetarism and Me

Steve D asks about the exact meaning of the term "monetarism" in a comment to a previous post.
Steve's Comment: "Forgive me, for my knowledge of the issue is scanty and even that is fleeing quickly, but isn't one tenet of monetarism a slow expansion of the money supply that will ultimately result in some residual inflation? I think that having 2% inflation is less dangerous than having no inflation at all, because at zero inflation you are straddling that line into deflation, which must be avoided at all costs. But like I said, it's definitely not mu strongest subject, and so my interpretation may be way off."
We're not a real economist, but we play one on this blog. We don't believe that monetarism per se implies a desire for some level of inflation. Monetarism does emphasize the "supply" of money as a key determinant of inflation and deflation, as opposed to "excess" or "too little" demand for goods (Keynesian view).

An expanding economy, in the monetarist view, has the capacity to absorb additional money without generating inflation. A contracting economy needs more money injected to ward off deflation. Economic growth and increased productivity without monetary expansion will gradually reduce the general price level over time. This means that the money supply can be gradually expanded (to a certain extent) without generating inflation.

Since the Great Depression, American economic policy has been driven by the fear of that memory. Generals often try to "fight the last war" even as the situation changes. Absolute price stability is not achievable (perhaps not even definable), but a long term average of 0% inflation is desirable from any point in time. Having a 1-2% fall in the CPI in a given year is not necessarily a bad thing.

Why is "low" inflation a problem? Even a 2% inflation rate means that most savers are not earning any real return after taxes and inflation. It means that borrowers are gaining at the expense of lenders, encouraging borrowing and discouraging saving. It means that everyone's taxes are going up in our "progressive" tax system, and that government is automatically confiscating a greater share of the national wealth each year. It triggers automatic increases in many government spending programs. It builds in an expectation of future inflation in everyone, helping it become a self-fulfilling prophesy. At a 2% annual inflation rate money loses half its value in 36 years. At 3% it takes just 24 years for your money to lose half its value.

Short Takes

Iraqi voters approved the new constitution by 79% to 21%, described as a "slim margin" by The Financial Times. The FT reports "some" say it could "divide the country further." Too bad the constitution wasn't able to muster those 99%+ figures that Saddam used to pull in. Ironicly, the Arab News provides a more balanced view.

The new Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben Bernanke, is a bit too Keynesian for our taste. We prefer our Fed Chairmen more on the Monetarist/Supply Side. Bernanke has expressed support for the idea of "inflation targets" in the past. The only acceptable inflation rate target is 0% over time. Anything else is fundamentally dishonest behavior on the part of the government. A Fed Chairman has tremendous power to do damage; let's hope he doesn't screw things up.

Iowa has placed new restrictions on where convicted sex offenders can live. Not to be left behind, Nebraska is considering city and state laws along similar lines. By the time you wipe out any housing close to schools, parks, and daycare there isn't much left. Not that we want them to live next door to us, but they have to live somewhere.

Laurence Wilkerson, formerly Chief of Staff to Colin Powell at the State Dept., has an op-ed in the LaLa Times. Surprise: he's not happy with the Bush Administration. It seems theres an "Oval Office Cabal" making all the policy decisions. Much to Wilkerson's chagrin, these people are not listening to the bureaucracy. Can you believe it? Elected officials ignoring the will of the bureaucracy? Somehow we had the wild idea that the bureaucracy is supposed to implement the President's decisions and policies not vice versa.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Rosa Parks

America lost a special lady with the passing of Rosa Parks. Since sparking the bus strike over segregation 50 years ago, she has downplayed her own importance. Here a are couple of interesting questions and answers from a 1995 interview:
Rosa Parks - Christianity Today Magazine: "You were beaten and robbed last August by an African-American youth.

Yes. One evening I heard a loud noise in my home and went downstairs to see what it was. I was startled to see a young man standing in my living room. He asked me for money. I tried to give him the money in my pocket, but he asked for more. He started to push me and hit me in the face. I grabbed his shirt and tried to fight back. I had never been hit like that in my life. I screamed, but no one was around to hear me. I gave him the $103 that I had, and he left. It could have been much worse, but God protected me.

Many find it ironic that a young man would beat a person who once fought for his freedom. What kind of social conditions would push someone to attack and rob an elderly woman?

I wouldn't say these young people are being pushed. Many people these days go astray by using drugs and attack people in order to get money. They are making those choices.

I regret that some people, regardless of race, are in such a state of mind that they would harm an older person. Too many of today's youth don't know who they are or where they have been. And therefore, they don't know where they're going.

I live in hope that things will be better. If we get to children at an early age and see that they get the proper guidance, then they will not fall into that behavior that is harmful to themselves and others."
We admire Mrs. Parks' answer to the second question.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Hurricane O'Reilly

Big Bill was back on his "bash big oil" binge on the radio today. Since prices have dropped in the past week or so, O'Reilly concludes this "proves" it was price manipulation all along. Perhaps higher prices reduced consumption and stimulated production, worked off the shortage, and caused prices to ease, i.e. the market worked? No, not according to Bill. The drop occurred because Bill went a crusade against oil company "price gouging."

A caller from Saint Louis reported that diesel prices are going up as gasoline prices fall, and wondered why that would be. He and Bill agreed they couldn't see any reason for it, but Bill assured us all, "It's not supply and demand." Of course, it's supply and demand. We don't know if it's a local effect, confined to Saint Louis, or nationwide, but it's obvious that supplies of diesel were/are tighter than gasoline relative to demand. Our bet would be that refineries shifted some capacity to make gas instead of diesel, but perhaps demand for diesel is less elastic than for gas.

Two minutes later, O'Reilly was denouncing the New York Times for its "quasi-socialistic" views. Well, he's right about that, aside from the "quasi" part, but how about a little philosophical coherence?! Don't pose as a defender of capitalism within minutes of denouncing business "greed." Pick a philosophy and stick with it.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Footbridge To Nowhere

Your tax dollars at work: PTG tells us about a bad plan that won't die in A Footbridge Too Far. How have Omaha and Council Bluffs gotten along all these years without a footbridge across the Missouri River? How much would people actually pay for such a structure, if the users had to pay? Our guess is hundreds of people per year might pay as much as $1 apiece to cross this bridge: not bad for a $45 million dollar project, by Federal Pork Standards.

Is there any hope that our government will someday get control of its spending? It's been clear for years that Democrats will not do it, and it's looking more and more like Republicans won't do so either.

New Nebraska Blog

A new blog aimed at Nebraska politics has been set up by "Steve." He says:
Nebraska Citizen: "About have the blog setup. I spent yesterday tweaking the site and learned how to get some of the key parts of the site to work with the blog software. Next step is to get the biographical questions finished up and sent out to the candidates. Also need to find some more people that want to help keep track of what candidates are doing. So we are looking for Nebraska political junkies. Contact us if you would like to participate. Oh, yeah, we need to let people know this site exists."
Well, we're doing our part on the last bit. It's a nice-looking site, created with Movable Type. There's a picture of a young man in an "ad," that we suspect may actually be Steve.