Economy

Just a quick rundown of top economic stories on this first business day of the new year:

Manufacturing grew at its fastest pace in 20 years (since the Reagan administration) in December.
Hiring will pick up in 2004 according to economists, with unemployment dropping .5% to 5.5% by November (as per my 2004 Predictions).
Stock markets are up across the board, with Dow and NASDAQ safely above 10000 and 2000, respectively.

Stay tuned for more good news on the recovery. And to think it’s all happening without nearly doubling our taxes, as Dr. Dean wants to do.

Dr. Dean wants to “Education White Folks”

Slate, quickly becoming the prickliest liberal thorn in Howard Dean’s side, has an excellent commentary, today, by Mickey Kaus

I would add my own rebuttal to Dean’s comments, but between Kaus’s analysis and Dean’s own political stupidity and pathological carelessness, I really can’t make this any more damaging to the good doctor’s faultering reputation.

Excellent Analysis of Dean Tax Hikes

Steve Moore of the Club for Growth has an excellent analysis of Howard Dean’s proposed tax increases. An excellent summary:

The Dean plan, our ad notes, would raise taxes by $2,472 a year on a typical middle-income family of four. Mr. Dean would also raise the death tax rate, the capital gains tax rate, the dividend tax rate and the payroll tax, and he would bring back the hated marriage tax penalty that President Bush abolished this year. There is hardly a tax levied at the federal level that Howard Dean would not raise.

Read the article. If you think Dean might win, get your assets into off-shore accounts as soon as possible.

North Korea Allows US Inspectors

When Town Hall was in its infancy on CompuServe, and I was writing three columns a week, Jimmy Carter’s illegal negotiations with North Korea that resulted in US assistance in building nuclear weapons to be aimed at Los Angeles and Chicago inspired my most vitriolic pieces. What bothered me, perhaps, more than anything was the fact that Carter’s meddling had me siding with Clinton. That was 1994.

Ten years later, we are still digging out from that mess. There were some in the Clinton administration, as there are in any new administration, spoiling for a fight with the communists to prove Clinton’s manhood. Clinton himself was not averse to a high-stakes standoff with the K-combs. Carter’s capitulation before CNN cameras left Clinton with no choice to build nuclear reactors for North Korea while fueling its cruel communist dictatorship with American gasoline and oil.

Today, after three years of Bush administration snubbing of the North Koreans, our screw-you policy is paying off. North Korea will permit US, not UN, nuclear inspectors into its facilities. While Pyongyang’s new semi-permeability may be a ploy to prove to the US that they have an advanced nuclear weapons program, it will give US inspectors a chance to more fully understand what the communists are up to. Moreover, coming on the heels of Libya’s capitulation and a potential new opening in Iran, it could signal that the last and most recalcitrant of the Axis of Evils nations, having witnessed the Saddam medical exam videos, is ready to play by the rules. If so, my 2004 predictions are already shot, and the Bush doctrine is on its way to becoming the most successful Western foreign policy position since the American Revolution.

Will Deaniacs Vote?

It is easy to get young people riled up, as William F. Buckely points out. The Dean house parties, rallies, $2 donations, etc., are the kinds of things young people like to do. And there is no doubt that Dean has energized a particular demographic group, namely, the 18- to 24-year-old folk.

Last week, Dr. Dean warned the DNC chairman that, if the other Democrat candidates don’t stop attacking Dean, Dean’s supporters might not vote at all come November 2004. During his season of being wrong about everything, Dean may have accidentally stumbled onto some correct thinking regarding his supporters’ propensity to vote.

According to the U. S. Census Bureau, Dean’s strongest support group, 18 to 24, is the least likely to actually show up at the polls and vote. In the latest available figures, we find that 40% of those between the ages of 18 and 24 are registered to vote, but only about 16% go to the polls. (Perhaps if they served beer.) Worse for Dean, who polls better among women than among men, is the absence of a gender gap in these stats. Only 17% of women 18 to 24 show up, while 15% of men vote. Overall, 62% of people over 18 are registered voters, and 42% vote. The most consistent age group for voting is 65 to 74 years at 63%. Moreover, as the population ages, men become more likely to vote than women.

While Dean is probably correct that his supporters won’t vote if Dean is not the candidate, his supporters probably won’t vote even if he is.

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Election Year Begins

The New Year begins with–guess what– Howard Dean saying something stupid. Thankfully, John F**ing Kerry has called him on it.

Dean’s inability to research his statements before making them–like finding out how Kerry voted–makes you wonder what kind of a doctor he was. Did he prescribe medication before checking the patient’s allergies? Did he prescribe procedures without determining if that procedure remained the recommended treatment? In other words, was he as intellectually lazy as a physician as he is as a politician?

Again, his followers don’t care, since they are motivated by anti-intellectual emotionalism and sentimentality, but his potential voters should. Claiming that Missouri is not a farm state when it has 17 farms for each one in Vermont, claiming that Kerry voted Nay when Kerry, in fact, voted Yea, and claiming that all government meetings must be open to the public when Dean, himself, insisted on conducting Vermont’s business in secrecy all point to a man who doesn’t take the office of president of the United States very seriously.

Intelligent people don’t take Dr. Dean very seriously.

Resolutions

Here are my resolutions (which I don’t make) for 2004:

1. I will leave my caps lock on 24x7x364, using Title Case on the 4th of July only.
2. I will find a way to catch and save the little, black and green detritis unloosed through dental flossing.
3. I will convince one person each week throughout the year that someone is out to get them, and that that someone is getting closer and closer.
4. I will write a book of little value, either as literature or criticism or entertainment.
5. I will send letters to 27 people I don’t know asking them to send me $1,000 in exchange for nothing. If they’d prefer, they can send $500 in exchange for my favorite pieces of dental flossing byproducts.
6. I will part my hair on the right side for 7 minutes a day.
7. I will stare at my reflection in the mirror each morning and pretend to recognize the face.
8. I will one room three different colors.
9. I will organize my luggage by size, shape, and color.

Predictions Part I

Everyone does it, so I’ll join the fray. If you feel tempted to wager based on these predictions, please just send the money to me: I need, and your chances of getting a return are much better.

Economy
The US economy will continue to expand at the fast pace since the Reagan administration through the second quarter. While new home construction will slow, service and other sectors will more than take its place. Unemployment will improve in fits and starts, but it will be more than half a percentage point lower by the end of the second quarter as the economy creates 100,000 more jobs than existed at the peak in April 2000. The Dow will close above 12,000 and the NASDAQ above 2500 by the end of July. The media will begin concentrating on “underemployment” and working poor, finding no other negative economic news to talk about. The federal budget deficit, according to the CBO, will begin to shrink in 2005. Japan’s economy helps the US and European economies, but other factors keep France and Germany in a Carteresque recession of malaise.

Entertainment
Jacko will be tried and convicted on some minor child abuse or endangerment charge, but he’ll escape the most serious charges. The pack of lies he spewed to Ed Bradley will be his undoing, as his attorneys try desperately and unsuccessfully to quash the video of the 60 Minutes piece. Madonna will do something outrageous. Alec Baldwin will embarrass himself with his mouth.

Iraq
The terrorism in Iraq will subside substantially after a major US military push in the spring. The Army and Marines will round up most of the rebel leaders along with their cash and weapons. By July, Iraq and the war will be non-issues to George Bush’s dismay.
World Politics
The US and UK will continue to marginalize France and Germany, but Putin will get Russia back into our good graces by pumping oil at record levels, lowering the price of gasoline in the US to about $1.00 a gallon my late spring. Saddam’s trial will reveal French violations of UN embargoes against Iraq committed as recently as February 2003 and with the knowledge of Chirac and other senior leaders. Blair’s popularity will swell after a terrorist attack in London is partially thwarted by British commandos. Syria and Iran capitulate to the Coalition of the Willing, turning over terrorists, plots, and weapons. North Korea remains a major problem, and our relations with Beijing deteriorate after we cozy up to Russia. Japan’s economy rebounds.

Election 2004
Howard Dean’s star will begin to fade after Iowa and New Hampshire as Gephardt and Kerry do better than expected. After getting slaughtered in the South, Dean’s will lose financial support from big donors, becoming dependent on college students’ lunch money. The media will turn against Dean after more embarrassing gaffes make him appear frivolous and juvenile. Gephardt will emerge as the only candidate who can beat Bush, but the economy and the success in Iraq will make even a Gephardt run impossible. Late primaries will give the nomination to Dean as the DNC realizes its best bet is to let circumstances undo “McGovern” him. Bush wins with 55% of the popular vote, losing only Vermont, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island in the electoral college. GOP picks up 27 House and 6 Senate seats.

War Dividends

Back in 1989, the term Peace Dividend was all the rage. Peace Dividend referred to money Democrats could spend on welfare programs and pork as a result of the end of the Cold War. Today, Bush and Blair announced a new, better, and real dividend: the dividends of war.

After seeing the effectiveness of Bush’s policy in overthrowing Saddam, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has admitted trying to develop weapons of mass destruction — but now plans to dismantle all such programs. The US and UK made the announcement, today, after months of secret negotiations with The Colonel.

No rational human being can conclude that Qadhafi’s actions are the result of anything but good old fashioned fear of the hell the US military can unleash. Qadhafi instigated the negotiations in April, just after the US, UK, et al, launched the war to liberate Iraq. He knew he was next, and Bush’s comments left no doubt.

“In word and in action, we have clarified the choices left to potential adversaries,” Mr. Bush said.

Three cheers for real men of substance, Bush and Blair, whose steadfastness against evil, the UN, and terrorism has wrought yet another dividend.

Saving the World from Environmentalism

With the possible exception of phrenology, nothing has produced more false, even fraudulent science than has environmentalism. Scientists of various sorts with otherwise solid credentials have, for years, allowed their own political biases bastardize results of scientific inquiry in order to “prove” what is not provable or lacks valid scientific evidence.

Moreover, people, particularly procreative baby boomers and the generation that followed, believes such nonsense without critical questioning. Author Michael Crichton, himself an environmentalist and scientist, has had enough. If you tend to believe what you hear on the evening news or even in academic periodicals about the environment, you must read this speech. You don’t have to believe Crichton any more than I believe those he attacks. But anyone who wishes to claim, “I’ve thought about it critically,” must learn some way of measuring the veracity of environmental science’s claims. Read the speech

Markets Update

Well, the President gets more positive coverage with a press conference, the Army announces the arrests of Iraqi resistence leaders based on information contained in documents found with Saddam, and the markets respond by turning down. The Dow, up by more tha 80 points earlier in the day, is at +60, while NASDAQ is just about flat at +2.
 
The American investor class knows nothing of patriotism. Sometimes, at seminal moments in history, it is right to subordinate your personal wealth to the national or world good. But the same “me first” monied folks who sold like mad after 9/11–Warren Buffett foremost–are padding their pockets today. Greed and selfishness know no bounds, political, patriotic, or otherwise.