Logomachon






Clearing the Fog
in the
War of Words

 

   
  logomachy--1. A dispute about words. 2. A dispute carried on in words only; a battle of words.
logomachon--1. One who argues about words. 2. A word warrior.

   
   
   
 

2004-03-25
 

Natural Bedfellows

Natural Bedfellows


I don't watch much TV these days--we don't even subscribe to cable--but I have a small set at the end of the tool bench. Tonight, as I was seeing whether (A FEW MINUTES) X (DUCT TAPE) = (1 YEAR) of extra life for my fencing equipment bag, I got my semiannual dose of the liberals' fantasy island, The West Wing. If you haven't kept up, the staffers still talk in the rapid monotone bursts that actors use to indicate that oblique and cryptic dialogue shows the characters' penetrating intellect.

Tonight, Josh tried to enlist the retiring William O. Douglas-like, ultraliberal chief justice into his scheme to get an ultra-liberal, female replacement through the Senate: in exchange for a no-fuss confirmation, the President will let the Republicans pick the replacement for a retired conservative associate justice. The old liberal judge cackles that what they'll get will be an anti-choice, anti-miscegenation, gay-bashing, medieval, keep-'m-bare-foot-and-pregnant toady to the FBI and Big Oil. Or words to that effect. My memory overflowed before the venomous old coot ran out of breath or invective.

My first reaction was to laugh at such a ludicrous stereotype of liberal judgmentalism. Then I realized that the producers know their audience. Liberals wouldn't feel even the slightest bit embarrassed by the mean-spirited tirade. That's what they really believe in the fantasy bubble that most Democrats and other liberals float around in.

Democrats speak in one breath of conservatives, Republicans, Nazis, KKK, Timothy McVey, Papa Doc Duvalier, Idi Amin, and Genghis Khan. Their only evidence is their own voices. But there is evidence of whom the Democrats are in bed with, such as these pictures from the anti-war rally in San Francisco on 20 March. Kennedy, Dodd, Bonior, John F. "Band of Mongols" Kerry, et al. would be right at home with these people. The only difference is that the professional politicians wear suits.

The blame-America-first sentiment expressed with impeccable logic.
The only difference between him and the suits is that he admits it.
You know how Republicans are always being required to disavow any evil intent or whiff of political incorrectness? If I found myself agreeing with these people about anything (including whether the Earth goes around the Sun), I'd recheck my sources.
As if to show that the Democrats' position on Iraqi Freedom doesn't intersect with these loonies' by coincidence, look at the bottom of this paranoiac's sign. Isn't that the mantra that was tatooed into every Democrat's tongue during the 2000 campaign: "...and we're going to fight to save Education, So' S'curity, and th' Environment . . ."?
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2004-03-23
 

Clinton’s Recession

Clinton’s Recession



I recently read another conservative explanation that Federal budget deficits don't cause inflation or high interest rates or recessions (Brian Wesbury, "Deficits Don't Matter", The American Spectator, March 2004). Federal borrowing does not in fact "crowd out" private investment, however attractive the idea seems in theory.

My mind turned immediately to the Clinton years. Clinton and his apologists love to point to the three years of budget surpluses that ended his term (1999-2001). The point has been made before that the Clinton team can claim no wisdom in that regard, since right up to the day Treasury’s balance sheet went out of the red they were predicting overwhelming deficits as far as the eye could see. That was their justification for raising taxes.

Now their story is that Clinton raised taxes, gave us the best economy in history, and saved the country by producing surpluses. Then George Bush came in and cut taxes, deliberately causing a recession and corporate scandals. The way I remember it is that Clinton raised tax rates in the middle of a weak recovery, which stayed weak until the day after the 1994 elections; the day after the Republicans took over the House and the Senate, the stock market and the economy took off. The budget surpluses came at the end of the boom.

Let's pause a moment to look at where Clinton's budget surplus came from. Federal revenues increased in the later '90s. About two thirds would have occurred because of the rising GDP without Clinton’s tax changes, and about one third of the increase came from Clinton’s rate increases in the same booming economy. There is a third factor in changing the balance sheet--decreased spending. The only spending cuts Clinton made were in defense. In 2000, the budget surplus was the same as the cuts in defense spending. So in effect, Clinton "balanced" the budget by raising taxes--a known economic drag--and increasing spending to match the increasing revenues. The surplus came from defense cuts.

As I was saying, the budget surpluses came at the end of the boom. Now, I know that post hoc ergo propter hoc is a fallacy of inference (though it is the fundamental postulate of science), but it is certain that propter hoc ergo post hoc, so we can be sure that the surpluses didn’t cause the boom. What came after--actually, in the middle of--the surpluses was the recession, which started on Clinton's watch, just as his "record stretch of economic growth" started during Bush I's term.

In fact, Clinton’s recession was probably caused less by anything he did than by the cost of heading off a Y2K computer disaster and the Federal Reserve’s attempts to deal with the Y2K uncertainties. But when you are sparring with the Clintonistas, you can twit them that the recession came after his surpluses (“massive year-after-year Keynsian drags on the economy”). They probably won’t know about the Fed, and if they do try to shift the blame from Bent Willie to the Fed, they also shift the blame from George Bush. They won’t like that in any case, so insist that they be consistent: If it’s Bush’s 2001 recession then it must be Bush’s 2001 surplus.
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