I attended a Business and Media Institute panel this morning on gas prices at the National Press Club. Our own Quin Hillyer moderated.
Cato Institute's Jerry Taylor had pointed and frank comments on just about every topic, but particularly price gouging. In short, either it exists everywhere or it doesn't exist at all. Consumers expect Congress to "do something" when gas prices jump, but say nothing about increases in the prices of T-shirts, cars, or beer at the bar. Why is gas different? It shouldn't be.
Usually the politicians and demagoguges (like Bill O'Reilly) hang their case on the large profits oil companies are seeing lately. A few strong points here: 1- Long term, the oil industry is not a smart buy for investors. Most years are tough, and these "windfall" years are important for the tough years. 2- The profit margins are slim compared to many industries. BP has a 6.8 percent profit margin, while Fox News makes 10.2 percent profit, and other media companies even higher.
Quin, this fellow Jonathan Chait may now be alarmed at the wacko left's "paranoid, Manichean worldview brimming with rage," but in many ways he's the Dr. Frankenstein of this operation. Remember his groundbreaking piece back in the Sept. 29, 2003 issue of TNR that began with this sentence (which will forever remain the most memorable thing Chait ever wrote), "I hate President George W. Bush"? And lest you thought he hated only Bush's policies, he added for good measure: "I even hate the things that everybody seems to like about him....I suspect that, if I got to know him personally, I would hate him even more." Adult liberals have been throwing hissy fits about Bush since at least Florida 2000. Now they're surprised that the kids and punks took them at their word. Sometimes you deserve what you sow.
Quin -- all this seems to redound, to me, to the moral-victory benefit of conservatives. On what issue have the Congress and the President failed by doing the conservative thing? I can't think of a one. The victories have been conservative, like tax cuts and John Roberts, and the victories snatched from the jaws of defeat have been conservative, too -- like Harriet Miers. Bush's losing issues -- even on the left -- come courtesy of stances no conservative loves: No Child Left Behind, the guest worker program, Katrina policy, a flotilla of other domestic programs and half-programs. And Congress has gone right along for the ride on them all.
Dave: That's why a lot of conservative lawyers, myself included, have long since quit the ABA. I refused to pay dues to an organization that was working against what I stand for. Though it may act like one, the ABA isn't a union operating in a closed shop. No conservative lawyer should be a member.
Here we go again. Talk in some quarters of Wall Street is that the White House is looking at Martin Feldstein as the next Treasury Secretary.
This would obvisouly be a coup for the White House, given Feldstein's ties to the Reagan Administration as the President's chief economic adviser.
We still say Josh Bolten was the best man for the job, but in absence of that, Feldstein has the Street Cred and fiscal cred to pass muster.
Today, Jonathan Chait of The New Republic offers, in so many words, the same critique of the Lefty blogosphere that I offered in a column here a couple of weeks ago. Chait's best line is his description of the Lefties' outlook: "It's a paranoid, Manichean worldview brimming with humorless rage." Hear, hear!! Meanwhile, in an earlier column about why the crazy Left is wrongheaded for trying to beat Connecticut's U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman in a primary, he offers this other terrific passage: "In the end, though, I can't quite root for Lieberman to lose his primary. What's holding me back is that the anti-Lieberman campaign has come to stand for much more than Lieberman's sins. It's a test of strength for the new breed of left-wing activists who are flexing their muscles within the party. These are exactly the sorts of fanatics who tore the party apart in the late 1960s and early '70s. They think in simple slogans and refuse to tolerate any ideological dissent." Again, hear, hear! HEAR, HEAR!!!!
The Captain's Quarters has a HUGELY IMPORTANT report today about captured documents from al-Qaeda-in-Iraq that shows them getting very dejected and contemplating the likelihood that they are losing. The ONLY place they say they are winning is, surprise surprise, in the American media. We have them on the run; now let's finish them off!