Daily Archives: September 19, 2008

Changing market rules in mid-game…UPDATE: The larger question

One of my favorite free-market economists, CNBC’s Larry Kudlow, writes that it was a “terrible idea” for SEC Chairman Chris Cox to ban short selling in an effort to keep the stock market from sinking even lower.

Short selling, or trading stocks in such a manner that you are effectively betting that the share price will decline, provides a balance to traders who (all too often) put too much faith in corporations’ own friendly reporters and media releases.  In Kudlow’s words, short sellers “keep the market honest,” preventing stock prices from inflating past their realistic worth.

In a broader sense, even a relative economic dilettante like myself knows that banning short selling, even for a little while, is an improper government intrusion onto the market and a general betrayal of free-market principles.  Once, back when Chairman Cox was Congressman Cox, he was a staunch defender of those principles, a solid Friedmanite.  It’s becoming apparent why John McCain was thundering for Cox’s ouster yesterday.

Click the link above and read Kudlow’s post, including his assessment of what Cox should have done.  An UPDATE addressing a bigger question not addressed above follows below the break.

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Thar’s Aztec gold beyond them shoals, Cap’n! Avast! Hard to port! Yarrrrr!!

It’s September 19, and that’s International Talk Like A Pirate Day.  My elder niece is a devoted voluptuary of Johnny Depp, dating back to the day she first laid wide blue eyes on Captain Jack Sparrow.  Ergo, it’s my sworn avuncular duty (read my contract) to rally to her side and promote the cause of pirate appreciation.


Hide the rum.

"Hide the rum."

UPDATE: No one should ever need ask where I stand on the question of Pirate vs. Ninja supremacy.  Sure, a ninja might win a fight with a pirate through superior dexterity with some weapons that you’d never see a pirate using, but there’s still no question as to which of the two I’d rather be.  Yarrrrr!!

UPDATE II: OK, the exclamation “Yarrrrr!!” in this post was originally “Arrrrrrgh!!”  However, Cap’n Slappy, the founder of International Talk Like a Pirate Day, advises against this practice, as the latter is more a cry of pain than an expression of “Pirattitude” (Slappy’s word).  This and more useful information courtesy of ITLAPD’s FAQ sheet.

So much for “code words”

OK, the good news is that Obama surrogates appear to have abandoned the “devious conspiracy” approach of racist code word warnings.  This means the English language may have a chance to breathe again soon, even when the subject turns to politics.

The bad news is that they’ve done so in favor of a more (ahem!) straightforward approach.  In the absence of any other explanation for Sen. Obama’s failure to dominate this race unquestioned, they’ve resorted to flat-out, blanket accusations of racism against huge swaths of the voting public (and not necessarily Republicans).

Enter the freakshow below the break.

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Never come between a man and his corn

I love going to the movies.  And I mean theater movies.  Not that I don’t like seeing movies at home, but it just isn’t the same, even with a sweet flat-screen.  I live a three-minute drive away from an AMC Loews multiplex with an IMAX theater, so I’m never at a loss.

One thing I have to do when I go to the movies (and people who’ve gone with me know this) is buy popcorn.  Movie popcorn is in a class by itself.  That doesn’t necessarily make it the best kind, but for me it’s a movie-theater must-have nonetheless.  I don’t remember the last time I went to a movie theater without buying myself a big ol’ bag-o’-corn.

Sometimes, however, the fates conspire against my popcorn jones.  Last night, I went to see Burn After Reading with some friends (great movie…Coen Brothers rule!).  My planning powers, however, took a powder when the date was agreed upon, because I’d forgotten that I had a dentist appointment in the afternoon for a cleaning.  So a couple of hours before the movie, I sat in a chair for an hour or two while a very nice lady stabbed me repeatedly in the gums with a screaming spitting steel hook.

I arrived at the theater in a state of elevated soreness, facing the possibility of my first movie in gawd-knew-how-long without the capacity for consuming popcorn.  I handed over my ticket, walked in, and…

Aw, hell no.  Straight over to the counter, and order a large.  Man up, fertheluvvamike.

(Yum.  Ow.  Yum.  Ow.)

Senior prom politics

Allrightythen, make it official.  The 2008 presidential election has morphed completely into a really bad episode of “90210”.

Here’s the plotline:  the handsome high-school quarterback dumps his head-cheerleader girlfriend for a pretty new exchange student, who will now be his prom date.  Meanwhile, an earnest, popular fellow student of theirs wants to organize a killer “After-Prom Party” at Mom and Dad’s beach house, and invites everybody who’s anybody.  However, the jilted cheerleader will be damned if she’ll spend one minute in the same house with that tramp from some faraway place she never heard of, and her sizable social circle looks like it may also stay away out of solidarity.  The party organizer, panicked at the possibility of the event collapsing, tries to compromise by inviting other people famous for hating the quarterback’s new love, but it only offers the prospect of more awkwardness, and the cheerleader’s social circle is solidifying its boycott.  The poor would-be host is left with few options but to cancel the party or disinvite everyone involved with this metastasizing spat.

This is the essential storyline of a political catfight involving Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin, and a scheduled rally on Monday in New York to protest Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visit to the city to address the U.N. General Assembly.

Like sands in the hourglass, details are below the break.

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Freedom is slavery. Beggary is patriotism. UPDATE: The adman cometh

Senator Joe Biden has achieved transcendence: he is now even more Orwellian than Orwell.

AP headline: Biden calls paying higher taxes a patriotic act. Well, OK, Senator, but expect Congressman Rangel to take some umbrage at your questioning his patriotism.

Joe Biden: the gaffe that keeps on gaffe-ing.

UPDATE: You knew the McCain campaign would get some ad mileage out of this:

You know, I think I’ll start counting the number of McCain ads that begin along the lines of “Joe Biden actually said…”  I’ll probably need a whole new category before long.  Hell, maybe even a new blog.