Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Quotes of the day

The short sushi, long kimchi trade is not without its dangers.--Christopher Swann

Knowledge is becoming more specialized and more dispersed, while government power is becoming more concentrated.--Arnold Kling

Proponents of a transactions tax misunderstand the way markets work. The bubble in home prices in the United States was not caused by the rapid buying and selling of individual family homes. The financial crisis was primarily a liquidity crisis and a credit crunch, and the major problem with collateralized mortgage-backed bonds was that they declined significantly in value and became illiquid. A transactions tax that would have reduced trading and made repurchase agreements more costly, could have made the problem even worse.--Burton Malkiel and George Sauter

Trying to shut down criticism in the name of science is the real attack on science.--Clive Crook

Remember the Club of Rome’s resource scare? In 1972, 57 predictions of exhaustion were made regarding 19 different minerals. All either have been falsified or will be. Remember the global-cooling scare promoted by, among others, the Obama administration’s science czar, John Holdren? (Yes, global cooling was a big deal, although it was not a “consensus.”) And all of the above doom merchants were uber-confident and still are loath to admit they were ever wrong. Holdren, for example, is sticking to his prediction that as many as one billion people could die by 2020 from (man-made) climate change. That’s about ten years, folks.--Robert Bradley Jr.

... when free marketers warn that Democratic health care initiatives will make us more “like France,” a big part of me says, “I wish.”--Matt Welch

The shock is to [Tiger Woods'] flow of income from his endorsements. This is equivalent to losing the lottery and having money taken from you. The bottom line is that Jacob Mincer was a more important dude than Tiger Woods. At the end of the day tapping a ball into a hole in a minimum number of strokes just isn't that important.--Matthew Kahn

History is the monster. And there is no escape. You can't talk your way out of it--at every step we're confronted by our own laziness. It warps our stories, reduces beautiful and complicated narratives about race, sports, agency into cartoonish fairy tales. It's sad. I always thought that what we needed in this country wasn't so much cash payments, but some respect for history. Not history as an excuse for hamburgers, hot dogs and chips, but history as a way of understanding who we--despite ourselves-- really are. And for African-Americans, history really is the balm in Gilead. I think a lot of us can come to some peace, can come to understand that whatever happened to us, there are limits on what anyone can do to make it right, and while those limits have to be pushed, some of this we're going to have to carry ourselves. And then with a even broader sense we can understand that our suffering is not singular, that it isn't the only suffering. And finally--and most important to me--we can understand ourselves as Zora Hurston did, as more then a litany of abuses, as more than a walking protest, as something apart and distinct from what someone else did to us.--Ta-Nehisi Coates

Peacemaking quests came in two kinds: scabs and abscesses. A scab is a sore with a protective crust, which may heal with time and simple care. In fact, if you bother it too much, you can reopen the wound and cause infection. An abscess, on the other hand, inevitably gets worse without painful but cleansing intervention. ‘The Middle East is an abscess,’ he concluded. ‘Northern Ireland is a scab.’--Bill Clinton

Yet because Clinton doesn’t do introspection, he doesn’t go on to draw the obvious inference: he was a scab president.--David Runciman

I used the word quaint in referring to provisions in the Geneva Conventions that require the signatories to provide the prisoners of war privileges like commissary privileges, scientific instruments, athletic uniforms. I think those provisions are quaint. I did not say nor did I intend to say that the basic principles of the Geneva Conventions in providing for humane treatment were quaint. So if I had to do it again, what I would not do is use the word quaint and the Geneva Conventions in the same sentence.--Alberto Gonzales

... it comes as a shock reading The Clinton Tapes to discover just how little George [Stephanopoulos] mattered to Bill [Clinton] during the time when Bill meant so much to George. ... The things [Clinton] loves are politics, hard data and his family, in roughly that order. The thing he hates is the media, above all newspapers, on which he blames almost all his troubles. His love of politics is not a love of the sort of low-level politicking in which Stephanopoulos and his fellow staffers indulge. Rather, he has an unquenchable fondness for politicians themselves, with all their foibles and all their weaknesses – it is, in other words, a kind of self-love. ... Clinton liked politicians who played dirty because they made him feel better about his own peccadilloes. He also liked anyone who was susceptible to his charms, which was true of many more politicians than it was of newspaper journalists. Most of all, though, what Clinton liked about his Republican opponents was that he was better at politics than they were. ... He gets it badly wrong in 1995, when he spends most of the year worrying obsessively about Colin Powell, whom he suspects of planning to run for the presidency and fears is the one person who could beat him. When Powell decides not to run, these anxieties suddenly look silly, but Clinton can’t let it drop. ‘The mistaken prediction about Powell seemed to gnaw at Clinton,’ Branch writes. ‘His mental churn pulled up a fresh clue. Every upward step for Powell had been paved by patronage and appointment, observed Clinton, including his post in the Reagan White House. Powell was a career staff officer at heart.’ In the end, Clinton nailed his man, as Powell’s horribly ineffectual spell as George W. Bush’s secretary of state was to show. ... Here is the ultimate insult in the Clinton lexicon: Gore had been posturing like a journalist when he should have been thinking like a politician. For Gore, Clinton is the posturer because he can never come clean about the demons that drive him. This gives Gore the moral high ground. But Clinton has the killer political argument. ‘By God,’ Branch has him exclaim, ‘Hillary [who was winning her New York Senate seat at the same time Gore was losing the presidency] had a helluva lot more reason to resent [me] than Gore did, and yet she ran unabashedly on the Clinton-Gore record. With that clarity, she came from 30 points down to win by double digits.’ ... Who can say if one person really loves another, but Bill appears here to be genuinely fond of his wife, and genuinely frightened of her. He is thrilled when she becomes a senator and he shows plenty of respect for her political judgment – she spots that Colin Powell is all medals and no trousers well before he does. Yet behind all this solicitousness it’s not hard to see the guilt bubbling away, as it does in Clinton’s relationship with Chelsea, whom he adores, pampers and, of course, betrays.--David Runciman

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