Sunday, December 31, 2006

The 2006 year-in review

Click here: In Today's Paper - U.S. Public -

2006 was hell of a year for the markets.

The Sage of Eco-blogalnd says:

Better still in in 2007.

I am a pro-fertiltity nut-case, but...

Click here: 67-year-old Spaniard gives birth to twins -

I am a pro-fertiltity nut-case, but... this woman will be 85 (!) when those twins get out of High School.

I usually put down the idea that: "We can't afford another child because he/she won't be able to go to Harvard." I think having children is the most important thing we do.

No surprise...

Check out Love of basketball brings players, fans back to court -

Over the years I have travelled in most evry part of the world.

Invariably someone siddles up to me and says "... You know, (Roumania) (S. Korea) (Ecquador) is a sports crazy - country"

I passed by ...

Click here: - Capitol Opens Doors for Public to Pay Last Respects to Ford - Politics | Republican Party | Democrat

The Capitol Rotunda where Gerald Rudolph Ford lay in state.

Long lines. Very impreesive. Fine man

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Israel received ...

Israel received more foreign investment in 2006 than ever before.

Fascinating factoid: The country with the most listed securities in America --- is America.

The country with the second-most listed securities is --- the tiny liitle country Israel.

I lost my last day bet --- but

Click here: - Wall Street Finishes Bull of a Year - World Market Analysis | Financial News | Market Data | Stock M

I lost my last day bet --- but it was one hell of a year for the markets.

I think 2007 will also be a banner year.

Wonderful Wiz --- but

Click here: Red-Hot Wizards' Next Act Is Magic -

Basketball was my coming of age sport.

I love the game.

But the way Dr. Naismith designed the game the player had to shoot up to make a bucket.

When I was in High School (the famous De Witt Clinton in The Bronx) --- our star was "Leopard Ed" Warner. Occasionally you would "dunk" the ball --- and receive cat-calls for show-boating !

Now, everyone does it.

I think it sort of cheapens the game --- although some of the athletes --- like Gilbert Arenas --- are fantastic.

I find myself watching more and more women's sports.

For the most part they shoot up to the basket. At my towering height of 5' 10" that is something I relate to.

So too in tennis. Serves come in off of high-tech rackets in men's tennis at 130 mph.

I can't even see that.

The women's service comes in substantially lower than that. They are often great and graceful athletes --- but I know what they are doing, although any one could whip my butt on my best days.

My crowning tenninis moment: At a benefit in Washington DC I hit a twisting serve into the mid-section of the fabulous Argentian player Gabriella Santini. She shanked it. At first she grimaced --- and then broke out laughing.

Tiger is clearly a great golfer --- but the new shafts let him hit drives 350 yards.

Batting helmets give hitters an advantage that earlier batters did not have.

Similarly fiber-galss poles shoot pole vaulters into previously unbelievable heights.

The comparability of records over time is almost meaningless.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Ben could have lost $1

If someone had taken me up on my $1 wager that the Dow would close at an all-time high.

It didn't.

Some lost a buck.

They speak for themselves...

Once again, The Washington Post has published the winning submissions to its yearly neologism contest,
in which readers are asked to supply alternate meanings for common words.
The winners are as follows:

1. Coffee (n.), the person upon whom one coughs.
2. Flabbergasted (adj.), appalled over how much weight you have gained.
3. Abdicate (v.), to give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.
4. Esplanade (v.), to attempt an explanation while drunk.
5. Willy-nilly (adj.), impotent.
6. Negligent (adj.), describes a condition in which you absentmindedly answer the door in your nightgown.
7. Lymph (v.), to walk with a lisp.
8. Gargoyle (n.), olive-flavored mouthwash.
9. Flatulence (n.) emergency vehicle that picks you up after you are run over by a steamroller.
10. Balderdash (n.), a rapidly receding hairline.
11. Testicle (n.), a humorous question on an exam.
12. Rectitude (n.), the formal, dignified bearing adopted by proctologists.
13. Pokemon (n), a Rastafarian proctologist.
14. Oyster (n.), a person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddishisms.
15. Frisbeetarianism (n.), (back by popular demand): The belief that, when you die, your soul flies up onto the roof
and gets stuck there.
16. Circumvent (n.), an opening in the front of boxer shorts worn by Jewish men.

The Washington Post's Style Invitational also asked readers to take any word from the Dictionary,
alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition. Here are this year's winners:

1. Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating.
The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.
2. Foreploy (v): Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting laid.
3. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period.
4. Giraffiti (n): Vandalism spray-painte very, very high.
5. Sarchasm (n): The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.
6. Inoculatte (v): To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.
7. Hipatitis (n): Terminal coolness.
8. Osteopornosis (n): A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit.)
9. Karmageddon (n): It's like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes,
Right? And then, like, the Earth explodes an it's like, a serious bummer.
10. Decafalon (n.): The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things
that are good for you.
11. Glibido (v): All talk and no action.
12. Dopeler effect (n): The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly
13. Arachnoleptic fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you've accidentally walked through a spider web.
14. Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and
cannot be cast out.
15. Caterpallor (n.): The color you turn after finding half a grub in the fruit you're eating.
16. Ignoranus (n): A person who's both stupid and an asshole

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Last call...

Will the Dow end the year at an all-time high?

I say: Yes.

Anyone who wants to bet a dollar against me --- speak up before 9:30 AM 12/29/06

Arnold Biechman + Jimmy Carter

Check out Carter's narrow niche - Commentary - The Washington Times, America'

Arnold Biechman is a distinguished man of American life, politics and letters.

His devastating critique of Jimmy Carter is right on the money, for money.

He neglects one item: Carter has also been America's worst ex-President.

The Big Three + 1

Check out Tuning In - Entertainment - The Washington Times, America's Newspap

The Big Three (CBS, NBC, ABC) were getting 15-20 million viewers each just a couple of decades ago. (Called now the MSM --- Mainstream Media) Fox was not in the picture. Now, as the WTimes story indicates, it is far below that.

The personnel of the MSM were tilted way to the Left --- that has been established in survey after survey.

But the MSM personnel claim that their politics does not influence their coverage.

I am duboius.

There is the well-established principle of "selective perception." Thus, the Washington Post ignored a 250,000 person pro-Life March in DC --- not because they chose to, but because the event did not register on their radar screen.

The Leftward tilt of MSM gave birth to Right-leaning talk shows, including Rush.

Americans want to hear both sides --- fair and balanced.

John Edwards is a loser --- but

I don't think much of John Edwards -- but 2008 is the first time since 1952 that either a President or a Vice President hasn't been on the primary ballots. (There was some small glitch regarding V.P. Alben Barkley in 1952.) There has been Bush, Nixon, Johnson, Clinton --- this yields an enormous advantage.

At least ten people are being mentioned by the Great Mentioners for a 2008 Run for the Roses.

Suppose 6 run on each side.

A person can win with 18-19% percent of the vote. A Dark Horse can get 7/24 coverage for doing "better than expected" and a media wave. It's happened.

In many states no more than 20% of the voters turn out for the primary.

And there is the possibilty of a Third Party or Independent candidacy.

This always seen as rare --- stop the presses !!!

But Abraham Lincoln won as a Third or Fourth Party Candidate. Former President Theodore Rossevelt finished second in a three man race. Ross Perot was well in front of GHWBush and WJClinton --- before he went stark raving loopy. He still received 19% of the vote, and, in effect, made Clinton a winner. (See the Think Tank special Third Parties.)

My own dream for 2008 a Third Party (winning) ticket of Sen. Lieberman with either Sen. McCain or Rudy Giuliani as a running mate. Who would be at the top of such a ticket --- if it occurs --- remains to be seen.

These are good men all.

Moreover, a Third Party President would not be locked into positions on issues like abortion, gun control, nuclear power or quotas.

It would go a long way to breaking the power of special interest groups and lobbyists.

Dow struggles...

Dow struggles to break even and doesn't quite make it.

One more day to close at an all-time by 12/31.

I say Yes. Anyone want to bet $1 ?

Hum ... Hmnn...


Listen to what you hum.

Most everyone everywhere hums, often to the consternation of their friends and acquaintances.

It can reveal a lot about yourself.

My current favorite is the Civil War refrain "Ralley 'Round the Flag Boys" --- which has replaced "Silent Night"

Time for "Auld Lang Syne."


Gerald Rudolph Ford

Click here:

Portrait of a great man --- and a pretty damn good President too.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Portrait of

Click here:

Portrait of a great man --- and a pretty damn good President too.

New Years Resolutions...

Time to start thinking about New Years Resolutions.

BlogPals please contribute.

Let me start the ball rolling with a couple of watchwords of mine:

"Chazak v' Amatz"--- Hebrew for "strength and fortitude,"


David Low's dramatic single panel drawing of Winston Churchill after the Nazi boot had stomped all of Europe, the USSR was allied with Nazis, and the USA was not yet in the fray:

"Very well alone"

But Frank,,,

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "I'm a hawk --- but...":

I disagree. When there are gangs in a neighborhood, we send in more police, we don't leave. Some hawk! Frank Furstenberg, New York City

Ben's response:

That was in our country. This is their country.

That's a big difference.

Dow (yawn)

Another big one for the markets.

Ho hum...

Leontiiff etc.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

As in sports

Click here: Plane skids off runway with Blair aboard -

As in sports, life is "a game of inches" --- even for the most important among us.

I'm a hawk --- but...

Click here: U.S. Not Winning War in Iraq, Bush Says for 1st Time -

The Iraqis are going to have to win or lose it on their ownl

I think they can prevail.

Some few additional American troops will only provide more American targets.

Gerald Ford

Click here: Former President Ford Dies at 93 -

Gerald Ford was a Distinguished Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute after his Presidency.

I came to know him --- and thought very highly of him.

He was American salt of the earth --- very smart and politically savvy.

Some comedians ("Chevy Chase") mocked him for falling down occasionally.

Well, yes.

He had a "trick knee" --- that he picked up as an All-American football player at the University
of Michigan.

He may have been our most athletic President.


Better than he did for his victims

Click here: Photo

Saddam, let us remember, used weapons of mass destruction --- on his own people. He was a terrorist. He financed terrorism.

He deserves what he is going to get.


That was Etan Thomas not Gilbert Arenas pictured on our blog.

It is Gilbert Arenas who, in my opinion, is the best player in the NBA --- not that nail-biting LBJames or that trash-talking Kobe.

Dow up after a loong weekend.

Dow and other indices opened smartly after a long weekend.

Whew! --- for me and about 50% of the American public who is directly or indirectly invested.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Beethoven's Fifth

Are there four portentous, powerful, profound notes (or words) than the oppening bars of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony ... -

Just saw...

An incredible movie --- A Night at the Museum.

I usually despise flix based on tekkie stuff but this is something special.

I wish I could send a pic --- but as the Book of Job --- sez:

It is beyond my ken.

Here he is...

I say Gilbert is the best in the NBA.

As mentioned, unlike LeBron James --- that big baby --- he does not bite his nails to the bone.

BlogPals: How do you like this new image-insertion technique? Brought courtesy of me and long-sought tekkie, Brandon Kramer.

The men who changed radio, television --- and the world

Bill Paley. Frank Stanton and Ed Murrow revolutionized American radio, television --- and the world.

Murrow's broadcasts during the Nazi blitz of London in the early 1940s move much of American public opinion away from isolationism and toward internationalism.

His subsequent dramatic revelations about the demagogic Sen. Joe McCarthy were powerful and potent.

McCarthy was indeed a drunk and demagougue --- and many of his charges were untrue.

But the release of the Venona Papers after the end of The Cold War showed that there was far more domestic spying than people understood.

There were not commies-under- every-bed nor even commies-under-most-every-bed --- but there were more than we expected --- and they harmed us by revealing atomic secrets.

I didn't know this Brown... but

Click here:

The other great Jim Brown of our time was Syracuse University football great of the same name.

I saw him play lacrosse against alma mater Hobart College, then one of the premier lacrosse schools in America --- and still pretty well-ranked now as the sport has gained in popularity.

Jim Brown played mid-fielder for Syracuse U.

The Hobart stick-men were bounced hither and yon as the fleet, muscular Brown worked his magic.

Brown later became and actor and was in some trouble.

Like most people.

Happy New Year --- sort of...


Christmas is upon us. Chanukkah has just ended. They are lovely holidays.

So too are most of the various harvest and fertilty celebrations around the world. (Although I don't much like that one about sacrificing the Vestal Virgins.)

But New Year's Day seems artifcial --- smack in the middle of Winter.

The real beginning of our year comes in early September. People return from their Summer vacations and go to work. Kids go back to school.

Our future begins again. Tomorrow is the next day of the rest of your life.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Dow --- how --- why?

I admit I was concerned when the markets took a mildly significant drop on Friday. Where was the "Year-End Rally?"

But Fridays are always difficult days on the Street.

I doubt that that the markets are open on Christmas Day, compounding the problem,.

The eco-pundits are saying the economy was "slow" in the Third Quarter --- about 2%.

Sound to me like that fabled "Soft Landing."

Great movie scenes

(><) (><) Stirring scenes to remember:

1) When the crowd starts singing La Marsellies in

2) When Akmeda (sp?) skps rope to remebember words in Akmaeda & the Bee

3) The chariot scene in Ben Hur ... and some scenes before it when the "slow" horse starts yawning

4) The mass of people of who step forward to say
"I am Spartacus" before Spartacus (Kirk Douglas) can say "I am Spartacus."

Real art for our time.

Et tu' Hil?

1. Hillary Disavows Her Iraq War Vote

Sen. Hillary Clinton has for the first time said she would not have voted to authorize the 2002 attack on Iraq if she had known then what she knows now.


This neo-conservative has --- had --- a certain soft-spot for Sen. Clinton (D.NY) .

Yes, she had been involved in some shady deals, yes, she took power unto herself as First Lady (a term I hate) --- but she had a certain sense of honor and purpose.

I no longer feel that way.

She's just another pol !!!

Flash !!!

Gilbert Arenas...

Gilbert Arenas...

For my money Gilbert Arenas is the best player in th NBA.

He scores, he defends, he steals, he leads...

He is on a tear right now --- syking himself up because Kobe said GA wasn't "taking quality ahots."

As for LeBron James: That big baby still bites his finger nails down to the bone.

How can he use a Blackberry or a PalmPilot?

I'm pro-choice -- sort of ...

Click here: BREITBART.COM - Pope underlines right to life in pre-Christmas blessing

I visited Hungary in the mid-1960s when it was the first country to legalize abortion.

I had a long conversation with an OB-GYN at a picturesque restaurant, dining on elk. ("Eek!")

He had performed (not "committed") thousands of abortions and delivered thousands of babies.

I asked him if the abortions gave him any trouble...

He paused and said: " No. I have learned that when a woman wants to have a baby she will risk life to do so. And when when she wants to abort a fetus she will risk life to do so. "

So legalize it?

Makes seense to me...

But after I saw the sonogram of my youngest child, it was clear to me that there was life there.

I once came up with a faux political slogan to describe my view:

"It's murder and I'm for it."

I confess..

(><) I confess, I used to hate it when modern-istas would have cell phones going off, TVs a-playing, blogs-a-popping etc.

I'm beginning to love it..

Yes... but

Click here: Democrats eye overhaul of education programs - Nation/Politics - The Washington Times, America's Newspaper

The Democrats can "overhaul" education policy --- all they want --- but it can be "blocked" by President George W. Bush --- unless those Democrats can muster a two-thirds + 1 over-ride. which is dubious.

The parties will have to get along to make things happen.

Blogpals --- help requested


1) If $1,000 was invested at 5% per year in a daily sweeps account for the college account of a new born baby --- how much would that yield in 18 years?

2) If $1,000 were invested annually each year at 5% per year in a daily sweeps account for the college account of a new born baby --- how much would that yield in 18 years?

Saturday, December 23, 2006

The moment that created the modern world !!!

This is the "sneak attack" bombing by the Japanese Imperial Navy on Hickam Field on Dec. 7, 1941 --- a day that President Franklin Roosevelt famously said "would live in infamy."

The sneaks !!! Of course every good military commander seeks the advantage of surprise.

The attack brought the U.S. into World War II, which destroyed a powerful move toward brutality and totalitarianism.

It was, indeed: The moment that created the modern world !!!

Hey BlogPals --- photos right here --- thanks to 19-year old Tech support guy named Brandon Kramer !!!

I'm not sure anyone ever read it except Marcel Proust...

All Points to Blogpals:

I'm not sure anyone ever read it except Marcel Proust... but I would like some "bullet points" on Remembrances of Things Past.

From what I understand of it, it is a fascinating theme.

Friday, December 22, 2006

India --- natural ally

The New Great Game
Why the Bush administration has embraced India.
by Daniel Twining
12/25/2006, Volume 012, Issue 15

New Delhi
Three recent events illuminate the contours and fault lines of Asia's emerging strategic landscape, amid the lengthening shadows cast by China's growing power


During the Cold War somehow India became allied with Soviet Union.

The U.S. Ambassador to India Daniel P. Moynihan blamed much of it on the inlfluence of the British Fabian Society which promoted peaceful socialism.

Today, the Indians and the Americans share at least five major common features:

1) They are free market economies,

2) They are pluralist,

3) They are large sub-continental societies

4) They are English-speaking,

5) They are democratic.

For this economic pundit this adds up to --- after the U.S. --- "Buy India."

Hmnn ... Hum

(><) People hum. Period.

It can be an annoying habit, but people hum.

What do they hum?

At this time of year, in this country, what people hum are Christmas carols.

The tunes are beautiful --- and pervasive. The commercialization of Christmas surely must have it's downside, but that isn't one of them.

I bet even Orthodox Jews and Orthodox Moslems in America --- find themselves humming Christmas carols.

Eek !

This should come as no surprise to...

Click here: New York City Birth Rate Plunges - December 21, 2006 - The New York Sun

Readers of

should not be surprised at this development.

The Birth Dearth (my coinage) is proceeding at flank speed --- all over the world --- including deepest darkest Africa .

Nation do indeed --- go out of business.

The rapid plunge in birth and fertilty rates all over the world is perhaps the most significant trend of our time.

Among other things, it creates a huge shortfall in pension plans --- which happens when a Baby Boom is followed by a Birth Dearth.

The U.S. is best positioned to benefit from this trend is the U.S.

Our birth rate is fairly high --- but still below "Replacement Value."

We are helped --- enormously --- by immigration.

But --- even so --- we do business all over the world --- where the bottom may fall out.

Mr. A...

Mr. A...

I welcome your comments on financial matters.

Such comments could elighten us all.



Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Dow Now...":

Yes, Ben. The long boom is still probably on, despite the market closing down today. The reason is because it is useless to try to divine some kind of long-term or even medium-term trend based on only two days' worth of stock data.

Don't you see the futility of reporting, on your blog, the ups and downs of the market on a daily, or hourly basis? That's what CNBC and the other cable news channels, as well as internet stock monitoring websites are for. If you are going to report market data, the only way it would be useful information to your loyal readers is if you put your own spin on it. If you analyzed it (beyond the "long boom" idea).

Ben Wattenberg saying "Market closed down today" is about as useful and interesting as reporting that the weather today was partly cloudy or that it snowed. That, too, is readily available information that anyone with a newspaper or a television can find out.

Publish this comment.

Did it ever occur to you...

Click here: Losing our grip on reality - Editorials/Op-Ed - The Washington Times, America's Newspaper

Did it ever occur to you... that the invention of spectacles came about right after the invention of movable type.

After all, it said that "necessity is the mother of invention."

I would trust a GI ...

Click here: David Ignatius - Their Christmas At War -

I would trust a GI in the field ---

more than I would trust most journalists.

Dow Now...

I promised you the good and the bad.

The markets closed down.

But not too much, considering that it is a Friday.

I do not choose to believe these results violate the idea of an on-going "Long Boom" etc. etc.

They'd better not.

Roy may get ...

Dear Ben,

George Will has always been topical. You have always been thoughtful. That's why I read you first and last.


Roy may get ...

An invitation to meet moi in poisen.

Roy Lofquist has left a new comment on your post "Dyspeptic George":

Dear Ben,

George Will has always been topical. You have always been thoughtful. That's why I read you first and last.


Dear Ben,

George Will has always been topical. You have always been thoughtful. That's why I read you first and last.


Dear Ben,

George Will has always been topical. You have always been thoughtful. That's why I read you first and last.


Dear Ben,

George Will has always been topical. You have always been thoughtful. That's why I read you first and last.


I like it ...

I like it ... when people I like, like what I post...

But I will happily accept criticism offered in the spirit of "It's fine to disagree, but let's not do so disagreeably."

+ + +

Roy Lofquist has left a new comment on your post "Another view --- from Newsweek --- excerpts.":

Dear Ben,

Not at all surprising. This is both a vindication of GWB's vision of Democracy (in practice, the market) but also the folklore of sharp Arab traders. In a better world the people of the font of civlization, both Arab and Jew, will show us the way to plentitude which gives us the leisure for grace.


RL --- give 'em hell


Right on...

You it it right

Roy Lofquist has left a new comment on your post "Simon strikes again...":

Dear Ben,

My family moved to Anaheim, CA in 1957. I lived in CA and AZ for nigh on to 40 years. Good times and good people. The Mexican people are the hardest working people I have ever seen. Yes, they have that certain percentage of bad apples - just live every other conceivable demographic. Europe got the Muslims. We got the Mexicans. Yeah us!


Three inventions -- free, for you

I offer to Blogpals 3 inventions --- at no cost.

1) A foldable tennis racket --- a good idea when traveling

2) An inflatable suitcase --- to let cab-drivers think you are going to the airport when you are just going a few blocks away and it's raining. (Not advised with surly cab-drivers.)

3) Paste-on pointed thumbs --- for use on Blackberberries. Why hasn't anyone thought of that? Must I, an authenic technophobe --- think of everything?

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Dyspeptic George

Click here: George F. Will - Full Esteem Ahead -

In some ways George Will is a national asset.

But he can also get dyspeptic.

Yes, remarkably, there will likely be 100 million blogs.

They don't all have to be great literature.

But if ten are published that give news, insights and arguments in a new and facinating format, that would be just be fine.

I hope mine will be one.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Well,,, no...

What would the result be if one woman had 13 children and 7 women had six children and six women had no children?

See UN data.

Shaking the Baby Tree

If There’s a “Depopulation Bomb,” It Has a Very Long Fuse

By Jim Motavalli

No one told Salamatou Adamou about the “birth dearth.” A midwife and widow, she had already given birth to 12 children by the age of 37. “I am exhausted,” she said as she struggled through labor with child number 13. Her large family is not all that unusual in drought-stricken Niger, a country where widespread poverty combines with strict patriarchy, early marriages, a lack of health care access and educational opportunities for women, sanctioned polygamy and adherence to fundamentalist Islamic tenets on procreation to produce the highest birth rate in the world, eight children for every woman.

I'm sure Dick could leave --- but who would take him.

By the Staff
For the story behind the story...

Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2006 10:37 a.m. EST

Dick Morris: I’m Leaving if Hillary Wins

Political strategist Dick Morris is so disgusted by the prospect of a Hillary Clinton presidency that he’s announced he’ll leave the country if she wins the Democratic nomination.

Appearing on Fox News Channel’s "Hannity & Colmes,” Morris – a former aide to President Bill Clinton – said that Bill and Hillary both suffer from Attention Deficit Disorder: "When they don’t get enough attention, they’re disordered.”

Click here: Judah Wattenberg, Technion Executive, 96 - Free Preview - The New York Times

Ten years ago today my father Judah Wattenberg passed away.

He was born on 12/20/1899 --- and thus came close to living in three centuries.

He was a remakable man.

At the beginning of WWI his family fled from Galicia to Vienna toward the friendly Germans.

At age 17+ he was on his way to the front as a Lieutenant in the Austrian Army --- when the Armistice was declared.

And so, as he would often say, "I took my rifle and went to Palestine."

Where he contracted malaria and severe poverty.

He came to NYNY to cure both.

He attended Columbia Law School --- with the likes of William O. Douglas and Thomas Dewey.

Where he met my mother, who had emigrated to Ottoman Palestine in 1904.

I am named for her father S. Ben-Zion a famous poet, publisher and essayist.

There is a street in Tel Aviv called Shderot Bentzion.

The story of how my father met my mother is --- for my money --- one of the great love stories of all time.

Simon strikes again...

This morning I found this wonderful quote and I wanted to share it with you.
"To remove a man who has committed no misdemeanour from the parish where he chooses to reside is an evident violation of natural liberty and justice."
Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations, 1776

Ben' response:

Simon, a new and regular Blogpal, is intensely interested in immigration issues.

Like me, he is very much in favor of a solid amount of immigration into this First Universal Nation, (title of a book I wrote)

Smart fellow.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Another view --- from Newsweek --- excerpts.

Ben's advance comment:

This is rather incredible, albeit not quite investment grade.

Sorry I can't it out of boldface,

Iraq's Economy is Booming
In what might be called the mother of all surprises, Iraq's economy is growing strong, even booming in places.
By Silvia Spring
Newsweek International

Dec. 25, 2006 - Jan. 1, 2007 issue - It may sound unreal, given the daily images of carnage and chaos. But for a certain plucky breed of businessmen, there's good money to be made in Iraq. Consider Iraqna, the leading mobile-phone company...

Civil war or not, Iraq has an economy, and—mother of all surprises—it's doing remarkably well. Real estate is booming. Construction, retail and wholesale trade sectors are healthy, too, according to a report by Global Insight in London. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce reports 34,000 registered companies in Iraq, up from 8,000 three years ago. Sales of secondhand cars, televisions and mobile phones have all risen sharply. Estimates vary, but one from Global Insight puts GDP growth at 17 percent last year and projects 13 percent for 2006...

... there's a vibrancy at the grass roots that is invisible in most international coverage of Iraq. Partly it's the trickle-down effect. However it's spent, whether on security or something else, money circulates. Nor are ordinary Iraqis themselves short on cash. After so many years of living under sanctions, with little to consume, many built up considerable nest eggs—which they are now spending. That's boosted economic activity, particularly in retail. ...

Consider some less formal indicators. Perhaps the most pervasive is the horrendous Iraqi traffic jams. Roadside bombs account for fewer backups than the sheer number of secondhand cars that have crowded onto the nation's roads—five times as many in Baghdad as before the war. Cheap Chinese goods overflow from shop shelves, and store owners report quick turnover. Real-estate prices have risen several hundred percent, suggesting that Iraqis are more optimistic about the future than most Americans are...

Meanwhile, Iraq's official economic institutions are making progress, improbable as that might sound in the context of savage sectarian violence and a seemingly complete breakdown of leadership and law...

It goes without saying: real progress won't be seen until the security situation clears up. Iraq still lacks a functioning banking system. Though there's an increasing awareness of Iraq as a potential emerging market, foreign investors won't make serious commitments until they are assured a measure of stability. Local moneymen are scarcely more bullish on the long term. In Iraq's nascent bond market, buyers have so far been willing to invest in local-currency Treasury bills with terms up to six months, max.

Iraqna isn't the only success story. There is also Nipal, a money-transfer service that is the backbone of Iraq's cash economy, as well as a slew of successful construction firms in Kurdistan. Such companies are not waiting for Iraq's political crisis to resolve itself. Yet imagine how they would prosper if it did, and how quickly they would be joined by others. As things stand, Iraqna faces extraordinary difficulties. It builds towers but lives in constant fear that they will be blown up....

But again, that's the remarkable thing. In a business climate that is inhospitable, to say the least, companies like Iraqna are thriving. The withdrawal of a certain great power could drastically reduce the foreign money flow, and knock the crippled economy flat.

My beard...

The pic on the blog will have to be changed.

The beard itched.

People said it made me look older.

I had it shaved off.

Some people didn't even notice.

Others said I looked youger.

My face itches --- less

Dow chugs

Dow chugs on --- again.

Like the Little Engine that could.

For those who don't like these kind of posts --- don't read these kind of posts.

Sunday, December 17, 2006


I've been in an around publishing and writing for almost 60 years.

I 've prepared a lot of proposals.

For reasons too complicated to explain here, I recently pulled my Book 'n' Blog extravaganza from the publisher.

We will be holding a "literary auction" after the the First of the year.

We will need about 25 proposals, with pictures.

We have received about ten so far.

From Kinkos.

For $70.

Modernism --- sometimes I love it.

Here I am, at 10:30 PM, watching the Wizards cream the Lakers as the first half ends.

I see it on Sony Big Box.

It is not something King Solomon nor Croesus enjoyed.

Nyah, Nyah

Not received --- no surprise ---

James Aach has left a new comment on your post "Golden Oldies":

Of the top of my head, I can't answer your specific questions. But...During World War II, the St. Louis Browns won their only pennant and later featured Pete Gray the one armed outfielder, and the Chicago Cubs went to their last World Series. Pete Reiser was also starring for the Dodgers and running into walls and tearing up his knees. He was drafted and failed his army physical, but when the doctor asked him what he'd be doing instead - and he answered - "Playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers" - the doctor said "You're in." Pvt. Reiser spent the war years playing on military base teams.

Speaking of lost e-mails - I sent you a (requested) outline of Rad Decision at the AEI address. If it wasn't received, respond here and I'll try again. If it was - maintain silence and think of Joe Nuxhall, the Reds' 15 year old pitcher in 1944. JA

Ben's comment:

Pete Reiser was my first hero --- led the NL in hitting w/ .343 in 1941.

I don't think much of it would have happened had they had padded walls and warning tracks.

Batting helmets have also changed the game.

World War II tune

They're either too young, or too old,
They're either too gray or too grassy green,
The pickings are poor and the crop is lean.
What's good is in the army,
What's left will never harm me.

They're either too old or too young,
So, darling, you'll never get stung.
Tomorrow I'll go hiking with that Eagle Scout unless,
I get a call from grandpa for a snappy game of chess.

I'll never, never fail ya,
While you are in Australia,
Or off among the Rooshians,
And flying over Egypt.
Your heart will never be gypped,
And when you get to India,
I'll still be what I've been to ya.
I've looked the field over
And lo and behold!
They're either too young or too old!

They're either too bald or too bold,
I'm down to the wheelchair and bassinet,
My heart just refuses to get upset.
I simply can't compel it to,
With no Marine to tell it to.

I'm either their first breath of spring,
Or else, I'm their last little fling.
I either get a fossil or an adolescent pup,
I either have to hold him off,
Or have to hold him up.
The battle is on, but the fortress will hold,
They're either too young or too old.

Ben's Response:

For those of us who are picky--- sometmes it still seems that way.

Chappy Channukah --- more


By Jeff Jacoby

The Boston Globe

Thursday, December 25, 2003

Because Chanukah usually occurs in December, it is sometimes thought of as the "Jewish Christmas." It isn't, of course. And yet it is fair to say that the reason for Chanukah's popularity -- especially in America, where it is the most widely observed Jewish holiday after Passover and Yom Kippur -- is precisely its proximity to Christmas.

Chanukah used to be regarded as a minor half-holiday, cheerful but low-key. It has become something bigger and brighter in response to Christmas, which transforms each December into a brilliant winter festival of parties, decorations, and music. Attracted by the joy of the season, not wanting their children to feel left out of all the merriment and gift-giving, American Jews in the 20th century began to make much more of Chanukah than their grandparents ever had. Today Chanukah is well established as part of the annual "holiday season," complete with parties, decorations, and music of its own. Its enhanced status is a tribute both to the assimilating tug of America's majority culture and to the remarkable openness of that culture to Jewish customs and belief.

Ironically, Chanukah was established to commemorate the very opposite of cultural assimilation. It dates back nearly 22 centuries, to the successful Jewish revolt against Antiochus IV, one of the line of Syrian-Greek monarchs who ruled the northern branch of Alexander the Great's collapsed empire. Alexander had been respectful of the Jews' monotheistic religion, but Antiochus was determined to impose Hellenism, with its pagan gods and its cult of the body, throughout his domains. When he met resistance in Judea, he made Judaism illegal.

Sabbath observance, circumcision, and the study of Torah were banned on pain of death. A statue of Zeus was installed in the Temple in Jerusalem, and swine were sacrificed before it. Some Jews embraced the new order and willingly abandoned the God and faith of their ancestors. Those who wouldn't were cruelly punished. Ancient writings tell the story of Hannah and her seven sons, who were captured by Antiochus's troops and commanded to bow to an idol. One by one, each boy refused -- and was tortured to death before his mother's eyes.

The fight to reclaim Jewish religious autonomy began in 167 BCE. In the town of Modi'in, an elderly priest named Mattathias -- in Hebrew, Mattityahu -- refused a Syrian order to sacrifice to an idol. When an apostate Jew stepped forward to comply, Mattathias killed the man and tore down the altar. Then he and his five sons took to the hills and launched a guerrilla war against the armies of the empire.

When Mattathias died, his third son, Judah Maccabee, took command. He and his band of fighters were impossibly outnumbered, yet they won one miraculous victory after another. In 164 BCE, they recaptured the desecrated Temple, which they cleansed and purified and rededicated to God. On the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev, the menorah -- the candelabra symbolizing the divine presence -- was rekindled. For eight days, throngs of Jews celebrated the Temple's restoration. "All the people prostrated themselves," records the book of Maccabees, "worshipping and praising Heaven that their cause had prospered."

In truth, though, their cause *hadn't* prospered -- not yet. The fighting went on for years. It was not until 142 BCE -- more than two decades later -- that the Jews finally regained control of their land. Geopolitically, that was the moment of real triumph.

But Chanukah isn't about political power. It isn't about military victory. It isn't even about freedom of worship, notwithstanding the fact that the revolt of the Maccabees marks the first time in history that a people rose up to fight religious persecution.

What Chanukah commemorates at heart is the Jewish yearning for God, for the concentrated holiness of the Temple and its service. The defeat of the Syrian-Greeks was a wonder, but the *spiritual* climax of the Maccabees' rebellion occurred when the menorah was rekindled and God's presence among His people could be felt once again.

Chanukah is the only Jewish holiday not found in the Bible and the only one rooted in a military campaign. And yet its focus is almost entirely spiritual, not physical. For example, there is no feast associated with Chanukah, the way there is with Passover and Purim, the two other Jewish festivals of deliverance. Its religious observance is concentrated on flame, nothing more. And the menorah's lights may only be gazed at; it is forbidden to use them for any physical purpose -- not even to read by.

The lack of a physical side to Chanukah is unusual but appropriate. For the Maccabees' war against the Hellenists was ultimately a war against a worldview that elevated the physical above all, that venerated beauty, not holiness; the body, not the soul. The Jews fought to preserve a different view of the world -- one with God, not man, at its center. Had they failed, Judaism would have died. Because they triumphed, the Jewish religion survived. And from it, two centuries later, Christianity was born.

(Jeff Jacoby is a columnist for The Boston Globe.)

Ben's response:

Jeff Jacoby the youngish Neo-Connish columnist for the Boston Globe makes a good point.

But Channukah is still a "festival of freedom."

Recall that one of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's "Four Freedoms" --- was "the right to worship."

Jeff wrote me a note calling me "Mr. Wattenberg." Whenever that happens I turn around to see if my late (sainted? --- probably not appropriate) father has returned.

Saturday, December 16, 2006


Simon has left a new comment on your post "Chappy Channukah":

Have you been to Las Vegas? It seem that gambling is a way to celebrate every holiday.

Ben's reponse:

I love Vegas, and worked there as a journalist when during my sophomore suumer.

Long story: I spent a night on a park bench there, as then hitch-hiked back the NYNY with $10 in my pocket in three days and nights.

Chappy Channukah

It is a great holiday.

I used to give a big regular party. The invitations announced that it was "the first festival of freedom."

It wasn't. Pesach was.

I loved Judah, his brothers and his folks.

Even after I learned --- eek!--- they were zealots !!!

Question: Does any other holiday celebrate --- (!) --- gambling !

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Dow --- Pow !!!

Another big beginning for the markets.

Long Boom... etc.


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

One of the world;s great books

The 126th Statistical Abstract is published by the U.S. Census Bureau.

It is one of the world's great books, imitated most everywhere.

For many years I privately re-published this public domain document.

Some CB folks didn't like it. Most realized that it doubled their circulation

Re JReynolds

Dear Mr. Wattenberg
Do you agree with Mayor Bloomberg's projection of the increase in population in NYC in the next 30 years? It does not, in my opinion, take into consideration the tremendous changes that can take place in even five years with newer technology. In addition to my doubts about that number, there is always the question Why live in NYC. (I'm a native of NYC and love it). In 30 years what jobs will be here for poor people? Why will the rich live here? They don't have to work here, culture will be available in other ways. Just would like your opinion of the Bloomberg plan. Thank you for "Fewer," I have given copies to my friends. JReynolds, NYC

Ben's response:

Not even I know what what will happen five years from now. (Flash ! )

People love cities.

I'm a New Yorker by birth. I love it --- second only to DC.

Herman Kahn said that the best thing that that poor people have going for them is rich people. They give them jobs

I am very proud of Fewer. Keep peddling it.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

I saw it

Which papers are saying Cheney is in hiding? I read all of them and I haven't seen any story claiming that for several years

Ben's Response:

I saw it at least twice.

Google it.

The Veep in hiding...

The Vice President, Dick Cheney was spotted once again. (Some newspapers say he is in hiding)

Last week he kept his life under a bushel at the AEI Board of Trustees dinner --- with about 20 Secret Servicemen in attendance.

Tonight it was at the Veep's Mansion at One Observatory Circle. Other well-known hider-outers included Jack Kemp, Don Rumsfeld, Paul Laxalt, Paul Wolfowitz and

Shy Ben

Monday, December 11, 2006

Anyone know

Anyone know how this technophobic blogger could determine how many responses this technophobic blogger has received? I seem to be missing some as well as some EMails.

Golden Oldies



Does anyone recall the lyrics of that wartime tune "They're either too old or too grassy green" ?

Or the the line-up of, say, the 1943 Brooklyn Dodgers. Wasn't there a 16 year-old shortstop named SOMETHING Brown, and a catcher named DC Moore? Who was on the ptching staff?

Who won the batting titles 1942-45? Didn't George "Snuffy" Stirnweiss (sp?) win with .306?

The taste of of a "chocolate egg cream" --- the most distinctive I have ever encountered. South of NYNY I only know of one place that serves it: The American Diner on Connecticut Ave NW.

I assume it is unheathy --- but I love it.

Maybe not: It seems as if there is evolutionary bonus on chocolate. Hence those three chocolate kisses on the turned-down sheets on hotels all over the world.

Crossing legs

(<>) Most everywhere, men and women, particularly women, cross their legs.

Yet some doctors and and some sports trainers say it is unhealthy --- embolisms, whatever.

I have tried to stop, but it seems to be an addiction.

Where is the Darwinian bonus in that, if true?

Fear not...

This was passed along by a Jewess of my acquaintance.
A fly in your coffee in Israel

What happens when a fly falls into a cup of coffee in Israel:
English customer - throws the coffee away and leaves the coffee shop.
American customer - takes out the fly and drinks the coffee.
Chinese customer - eats the fly and throws away the coffee.
Japanese customer - drinks the coffee with the fly; it's a free extra!

Israeli customer - takes the fly out of the coffee, sells the coffee to the American, sells the fly to the Chinese and then buys himself a new cup of coffee and also a pastry with the profit.

Palestinian customer - blames the Israeli shopkeeper for violence against him for throwing the fly into his coffee, requests aid from the UN, takes a loan from the European Union to buy a new cup of coffee and, instead, uses the money to purchase explosives which he uses to blow up the coffee shop where the Englishman, the American, the Chinese and the Japanese were trying to explain to the Israeli shopkeeper that he's too aggressive!

How Dow Now ?

Up, partciularly in NASDQ, home of most of America's most innovative companies, often financed by "junk bonds" now dignified as "high yield" bonds.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Cartoons --- powerful weapons

Click here:

Cartoons can be as powerful, profound and influential as the written word.

Sometimes more so.

Herblock drove Nixon nutso.

Conservatives drove Clinton nutso.

Neither ther man --- although both had great talents --- needed a whole lot of help.

My favorite, mentioned here, was David Low's single panel of Winston Churchill reaction after the Fall of Europe.

He held up his fingers in the "V for Victory" sign is > (rotate clockwise),

The letter "V" as in the "V for Victory" sign is ...- in Morse code.

The caption was equally brief and powerful: "Very well, alone"

All over the world, even today, people in oppressed lands tap out ...- to let their colleagues

fighting oppression, that they have allies.

When I am in a ditch I often say "Very well, alone"

Get into trouble, Ben

Check out Ex-Dictator Of Chile Dies at 91 -


I had a occasion to meet General Pinochet with a delegation of other Americans.

Like most thugs & mugs he was quite pleasant up close. He wore one of those miltary uniforms that make you want to spit and polish and get out you

He actually had a pretty good case.

Prime Minister Allende' had won with well less than 40% of the popular vote in Chile.

Allende' was actively trying to turn the country into a communist outpost. That would have spelled disaster, as it has everywhere.

Civil wars are often the most brutal ones, and this was no exception.

Following this ugly one the Chilean economy took off like a rocket.

It is a lovely country.

I wish the Chileans well,

As for Pinochet --- ???

Probably OK.

I met the

An “Ideopreneur”

According to Ben Wattenberg the term “Ideopreneur” was coined by James Pinkerton. His definition of the term is: An ideopreneur is a person who has an ideology and tries to market it like an entrepreneur would.

This is exactly what we are attempting to do at Radical Migration. Our ideology is that allowing more immigration and emigration will make the world a better place for all. Our attempts to market the ideology are just getting going. We are taking a multi-pronged approach and are being opportunistic just like I did when I was an entrepreneur.
Thanks to Ben Wattenberg for introducing me to this very apropos description of what we are about.

To visit Ben Wattenbergs blog click here: Wattenblog

To learn more about James Pinkerton click here: The New American Foundation

Documentary Update December 2006

The film crew has been busy. In November they were in Haiti and Miami and this week they are in Washington, Boston, New Haven and New York. I accompanied them for two days of this latest trip and sat in on interviews with Ben Wattenberg and Noam Chomsky. They are two of the smartest people in the country and both graciously gave us the time to ask our questions about immigration and the Right to Migrate. Both of them tend to agree that the world will be a better place when people can live where they choose.


Ben Wattenberg and Simon Burrow
For more information about Ben Wattenberg visit his blog at:


Brian Ging interviews Noam Chomsky

I’ll be posting a lot more about both of these conversations in the next few days.

Yes indeed, and..

The frightened kid doesn't sound very wise to me. True, a one in a million chance of being hit by lighting is still a real chance. But, to become obsessed with what is an extremely unlikely probability isn't wisdom. It's an illness in itself.

We all die, that is a 100% probability for sure. But the kid's obsession doesn't illustrate a broader point about life and death. It just shows how destructive obsessive thoughts can be. They can keep you from living a rich and full life. There's a reason why the kid was at the psychiatrist, after all!!

Ben's response:

Yes indeed, and that is why the kid's obsession is obssesive.


Tek stuff


An observation from one of the great techno-fools:

I am learning a lot (flash!)

As I do, the hardware and progams and platforms and servers, and required codes get more & more confusing.

Not fair.

Maybe we should put the brakes on for a year.

Or a decade.

Like a decade.

Football is...

Click here: Redskins Fall Short -

Football is a "game of inches."

So is life.

Did you ever count up the number of times you were "almost killed?

I psychiatrist I knew told me a of a young boy who was obsessed by death.

"What are you afraid of?" asked the psychiatrist.

"Being hit by lightning," said the boy.

"But that is a only a one in a million chance," said the psychiatrist.

"But one is a number," said the boy.


Add up all the chances of cancer, stroke, renal failure, liver damage, death by fire and flood, death by by lightning and they add up to:


Almost surely.

Longue Tongue

I suspect this fellow

Click here: Mike Wise - The Best Center Is Made in China -

I suspect this fellow would be a very good basketball player even if he we 5' 6" tall and the hoops were 14' 6" high.


The American people are...

Breaking from

Americans Don't Like John Kerry: Poll

Democratic Sen. John Kerry, mulling a second bid for the U.S. presidency, finished dead last in a poll released Monday on the likability of 20 top American political figures.

Among those placing ahead of Kerry were about a dozen potential 2008 White House rivals, including Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

"This is bad, bad news for Kerry," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute in Hamden, Connecticut, which conducted the survey.

"Americans know who he is, and have pretty much decided they don't like him," said Brown. He noted the poll found that 95 percent of respondents said they had heard enough about Kerry, who lost the 2004 White House race to U.S. President George W. Bush, to rate the Massachusetts Democrat.

(c) Reuters 2006. All rights reserved.

Ben's comment:

The American people are known for their common-sense wisdom.

Best investment --- my opinion

Check out The Unreal Estate Market and Me -

I think the Washington-area real estate market is the best investment in the world.

I would like to invest a modest sum in it through an REIT.

I can't seem to locate such.

Any ideas?

Saturday, December 09, 2006

I don't agree with...

Click here: An Unlikely Offensive -

I don't agree with every single word of the above, but the WashPost editorial page is vastly superior to that of the NYTimes.

The NYTimes wants to be last the last dog standing in U.S. daily national journalism.

That would be a disaster.

Blogpals --- Flash !!!

Every post on this blog automatically appears on Google. Surely that does happen with every blog. Ben's comment: We're going big time. Yes?

2 philosophies

The GOP Era In Congress: A 'Mixed Bag' Of Results

Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, December 10, 2006; Page A01

Demoralized Republicans adjourned the 109th Congress at 5 a.m. yesterday with a near-empty Capitol, closing the door on a dozen years of nearly unbroken GOP control by spending more time in the final days lamenting their failures -- to rein in government, tame the deficit and temper their own lust for power -- than reliving their successes.

Ben's comment:

There are two basic philosophies of government in the U.S. :

1) Don't just stand there --- do something, (Democrats)

2) Don't do something --- stand there (Republicans)

Each have their merits --- and a blend is best.

But with a Republican President who can veto bills, and Supreme Court tilted Republican, 2) is likely to prevail. (Pres. GWB has actually been a pretty big spender...)

Number Two is not so bad. The real power in this country is in its culture --- innovative, free, and operating within reasonable rules.

BTW: The Democratic Congress can turn off the war in Iraq any time they want by not funding it. That is not subject to a veto.

I wonder why?

Could it be that they don't want it said of them: "They didn't support our young men and women in the military who volunteered to help promote and purvey democratic views and values --- non-coercively.


A great holiday

Click here: Chanukah On the Net - Welcome - Chanukah, Hanukkah, Hannukah, Hanukah, Chanuka, Chanukkah, Hanuka, Channukah, Hanu

I love Christmas --- in a secular way.

At college my fraternity used to serenade the co-eds with those haunting and glorious melodies.

Chanukah, I gather, was a minor Jewish holiday until Jewish parents felt challenged by Christmas.

It is celebrated for eight days and is particularly joyful for young children who brag to their non-Jewish friends that they get eight presents, not just one.

There is gambling --- spinning the dreydel --- and haunting and glorious melodies.

I have always loved the holidays and honored the grand clan of the Maccabees.

I gather now that the Maccabees were regarded --- eek! -- as "zealots."

I would prefer to view them as "freedom fighters" --- and that they were.

Happy Chanukah, Merry Christmas, Feliz Navidad.



Anyone, anywhere

Anyone, anywhere:

Even one (1) phone call or EMail can make a difference. (!) If you can encourage your local public stations to give better times to this quite remarkable program I would remain,

your obedient servant,


PS, TT has wonderful slots in Wash DC, NYNY, LA.

From: []
Sent: Mon 12/4/2006 7:00 PM
Subject: Think Tank

Wish I could provide "comments or suggestions" about Think Tank The Program, but I can't --
I thoroughly enjoy it just exactly as it is.
The only problem is its time slot here in the Chicago area: 4:30 p.m. -- a time when some commuters are commuting, most commuters haven't even started the evening commute, housewives (the 432 remaining) are revving up for dinner, and we retired er persons aren't quite ready to call it a day at 4:30 in terms turning off the day and turning on the news.
Habit, I suppose.
(The news-programming schedule here in the Chicago area for the traditional 5 to 7 p. news- hour slot is as follows: The Jim Lehrer News Hour (PBS Channel 11) is on from 6 to 7, while at the same time, the BBC Evening News (PBS Channel 20) is on from 6 to 6:30. Fareed Zakaria (PBS Channel 20) has an interesting half-hour called "Foreign Exchange" --on at 6:30 p. One wonders if PBS's Scheduling Department (?) ever get together in Conference Room 1 and compare notes...)
So this email is intended to suggest that if you don't get mailbags of comments (as you should), and your computer hasn't shut down owing to the overwhelming response to your program (as it should), it's because, in my view, your delightful half-hour has been given a real graveyard slot. Meantime, thanks again for a thoroughly enjoyable arf-hour.

No ash, no heap

From: Craig Shields []
Sent: Sun 12/3/2006 6:41 PM
Subject: Email from a Viewer

Dear Ben:
Let me preface my remarks with this candid statement: I have a great deal of respect for you as a thinker and as a fair-minded journalist.
But I'm surprised that the fairness and objectivity that I normally associate with your show seems to be so glaringly absent in your discussion with Richard Reeves on Ronald Reagan. My viewpoint, and I hope I'm wrong, is that the US ITSELF is well on its way to the ash heap of history, driven by the philosophies of Reagan and those of like mind. As we sit here in late 2006, haven't we as a nation already begun to experience the results of mindless US aggression, of our arrogance, of our wanton disregard for the environment? Haven't we all noticed that our ruthless indifference to the virtually EVERYONE on this planet except our country's elite is clawing away at our standing in the world?
If I had to point to one incident that defines Reaganism, I suppose I would say it's Nicaragua. It encapsulates the idea that the US in the 1980s stood willing to do ANYTHING, regardless of how shameful, regardless of the will of its own people, regardless of the most basic precepts of our constitution, as long as those actions supported what the Reagan administration deemed to be US interests.
And Reeves says (I paraphrase), "In terms of presidential greatness, I wouldn't call him a Lincoln or a Jefferson, but he's certainly in the next tier." Sorry to be so blunt, but I find that totally nauseating.
It's beyond me how two intelligent people can sit across from one another, talk in detail about Reagan's legacy, and not at least mention this.
I hope to hear back from you on this.
Craig Shields
Ben's response:

Welcome new blogger Craig.

But I see neither ashes nor heaps of ashes.

I see the only omnipower the world has ever seen.

Keep posting, even if we disagree.

Not such big news...

Click here: The New York Times - Breaking News, World News & Multimedia

The much-vaunted report had different nuances --- but --- near as I can tell --- not much in the way of substance.


The Gap +++

Click here: In Politics, the ‘God Gap’ Overshadows Other Differences - New York Times

Where are "the soccer moms," of yore? --- plus about a dozen others that are periodically said to rule the roost of American politics?

The "God Gap" has some cuts & passes to it that are particularly fascinating.

Yes, there is a difference in the way people vote based on religion.

But people change. The grandson of an Orthodox Jewish Rabbi may become a swinging Zen Buddhist. A person brought up in a deeply religious mid-continent faith may become, uh, that swinging Gary Hart, whose playing around forced him to abandon a promising Presidential campaign.

The obvious point, in politics and in life: Things change. What's true today need not be true tomorrow. A Republican "lock" on The God Vote may well be transitory.

Friday, December 08, 2006

McMansions --- are --- bad?

Rod Adams has left a new comment on your post "I guess so, but":


I am not so sure about our dominance. We certainly spend a lot more money that anyone else, but what we often get for that money is more fancy offices in the Washington DC metropolitan area, larger McMansions in McLean, and bigger/more expensive imported cars in the parking garages near K street.

When it costs us a quarter of a billion for an airplane and China a few million, the measure of budget expenditures on defense mean little. Do not discount the manufacturing ability of the Chinese - they have rapidly moved up the technological chain from textiles to iPods, PCs and flat screen TVs. (Those, by the way, include the most important components of many weapons systems.)

BTW - it is nice to read the blog of another modest thinker, even if we disagree on some aspects of current politics.

Ben's response:

Rod seems like quite a good sort and he uses his own name, which I like.

But I don't have much problem --- any problem --- with large suburban homes, where familes can have 3-4-5 children if they so desire.

As for China: Notwithstanding significant material progress, it is still essentially a peasant society, with coerced low fertilty which will lead to a massive shortfall of any pension benefits.

As an autocracy (at best) it is politically unstable. ("Wood bends --- plastic breaks.")

If you're looking for peasant countries to invest in, bet on India, not China.

Why? Here's why...

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Dow Wow --- again":

Do you have anything else to say about the Dow besides "this looks like a long boom," which you say about 3 times a week, on average?

Why don't you tell your blog readers who Leontief (which is the correct spelling of Wassily Leontief's name) was and what he had to say about the "long boom."

Ben's response:

Yes, I confess.

I do talk about "The Long Boom idea quite often.

But last time I looked about half of all Americans were part of the "Stockholder Society."

It's important.

I am not an expert on Wassily Leontief. Far from it. All I know is that he posited that the markets weren't always going up-and-down but sometimes they behaved in long waves.

Perhaps you could enlighten us.