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It was 100 degrees here yesterday with single digit humidity and today promises more of the same. In the words of James Lileks.....
Today was a reminder that summer can take its time; some years it bolts for the exits when the show’s done, and sometimes it stands in the aisles and chats for a while.
Lake Mathews yesterday afternoon with Mt San Antonio (Mt Baldy) some 50 miles away in the background. Mt Wilson in LA is to the extreme distant left. And so goes the latest installment of TWC's love-hate relationship with Californicate.
It was said in a flippant, amusing, pointed way with the intent of illustrating just how many taxpayer dollars were earmarked for reclaimed swampland at the terminus of the Mississippi River. With a brevity of words and purpose Stan mentioned that somebody needs to tell Bush that we already bought Louisiana.
In 1803 Thomas Jefferson, the patron saint of classical liberal (libertarian) ideas, not to be confused with modern American liberalism, cobbled together a contract to buy the French holdings in North America known as Louisiana for fifteen million dollars. It was an immense area stretching from the Gulf of Mexico to Canada and west from the Mississippi to the Rockies. Some claim that the purchase avoided the possibility of war with France, others thought it imprudent and unconstitutional for the government to purchase land. Most agreed it was a bargain.
Three cents an acre sounds like a good deal to me but the WayBack machine has rose-colored windows that don't take inflation into account. In 2005 money, the actual cost of the Louisiana Purchase was $192,982,185.61. For you graduates of Californicate public schools that's 192 Billion dollars.
UPDATE:TWC went to school in California and that was pointed out by a half dozen or so readers including the comment by Todd. Hmmm, imagine an accountant that can't read numbers (the number above is 192 million).
Todd, who apparently can actually can do numbers, reports in his comment that an average inflation rate of 4.7% per year will produce 192 billion in 200 years.
My point was the same as Stan's, to make a case that 200 billion is a lot of change and I thought it would be great fun to do it in this way. The problem with my misreading of the numbers doesn't change the fact that 200 billion is an incredible amount of money. It might even bolster my case, after all, 200 billion is almost 13 times what Jefferson paid for the entire Louisiana Purchase. How's that for a little positive spin? --TWC
So the president and the congress, taking a well-deserved break from shoveling greenbacks into the federal furnace at a rate unattained by any congress or president since LBJ, want to spend more money in hurricane relief than it cost to buy Louisana in the first place.
When pressured by fiscal conservatives within the Republican Party (yes, there are a couple of those guys) to cut spending elsewhere to keep overall spending at the same level, newly indicted Majority Leader Tom DeLay responded that there is no wasteful spending in the federal budget, a comment that is absurd on it's face and would be laughable enough if it wasn't so asinine, derisive, and dismissive of the the taxpayer's best interests. David Keene at the American Conservative Union points out that the GOP leaders are, well, naked.
Since Barry Goldwater's campaign went down in flames the American populace has heard a constant mantra from the GOP. When we control the Congress and the Presidency we will do the right thing. That right thing is apparently something different than most of us had in mind (yes, this is a straw man but you get the picture and it's an accurate one). We didn't ask GWB to spend more money than any modern president in history. Nor did we ask GWB and his Republican cohorts to jack up federal spending more than any other president in modern history. As Nick Gillespie points out here
Those figures come by way of the American Enterprise Institute's (TWC note: AEI isn't exactly a leftie cheerleading group) Veronique de Rugy, who has calculated that George W. Bush has boosted total inflation-adjusted discretionary spending in his first term by 35.1 percent. To put that in context, chew on this: LBJ—the Texas legend who created the Great Society and, for all intents and purposes, the Vietnam War—only boosted discretionary spending 33.4 percent. What's more, the gap between Bush and LBJ will only grow. De Rugy notes that the final outlays for fiscal year 2005 (the last budget signed in Bush's first term) aren't in yet. As a result, she has to use mid-session review numbers, which are invariably smaller than the final amounts. And, she says, the number for FY2005 "does not take under consideration the numerous supplemental passed this year, and the new spending triggered by the Katrina disaster."
George Bush and the Con-gress have demonstrated the remarkable vision of P.J. O'Rourke encapsulated in these few sentences....
The Democrats are the party that says government will make you smarter, taller, richer, and remove the crabgrass on your lawn. The Republicans are the party that says government doesn't work and then they get elected and prove it.
They've also demonstrated what libertarians have insisted is true for years. When the rubber meets the road and we're done sifting through all the rhetoric, there really isn't a whole lot of difference between Republicans and Democrats. The arguments aren't about telling telling you what to do, that's long settled. The arguments are about which part of your private life the government gets to manage for you.
And worse, who could have imagined that In 2005, Republicans and Democrats aren't even arguing over your wallet anymore, just who gets the stolen loot.
Disclaimer: John Kerry did not receive TWC's endorsement nor would he if the election were held today, but the conservative claim that John Kerry would have been worse is ringing just a bit hollow about now.
The Wine Commonsewer
tip of the glass to DelMar Dave for the link to the ACU article
I wasn't really going here but.....I just opened a 2001 Franciscan Merlot by accident (it's a long story) and as always I am stunned by how delightful this stuff really is. Irrespective of price ($14.00 to $25.00), this is truly a benchmark merlot by which all others should be judged.
The Franciscan is a rich, full bodied Merlot blended with just a tease of Cabernet Sauvignon. It's not one of those wanna-be, weak-sister (sexist pig that I am) watery Kool Aid-colored red wines that so often pass for Merlot at places where Miles hangs out. Instead you'll find a mellow, velvety-smooth yet complicated wine with luscious blackberry, plum, and black cherry flavors that can easily stand in for Cabernet Sauvignon and often does.
Delicate enough to serve with a simple meal of salad and French bread yet hearty enough to compliment prime rib, mesquite smoked pork, or sizzling rib eye. Take the Franciscan with you to an intimate dinner party with good friends. Enjoy it on a warm fall evening outdoors with a fire and someone special. God serves this wine on Sunday evenings so why shouldn't you?
The Wine Commonsewer
Franciscan's Estate Vineyards
BTW, the linked story lists some Merlots that even Miles would drink. Be advised that with the exception of the Duck Horn and possibly the Shaffer, the Franciscan Merlot is THE hands-down wine of choice and, simply put, smokes the rest of that party.
Caught this cool vapor trail last night just after sun down. The city lights are from Corona California and the view is due west. The rocket was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base and was a four stage Minotaur carrying a DARPA Streak technology demonstration satellite. The spectacular show was visible across the southwestern US and Mexico.
Essentially the prevailing wisdom would have us believe that when it comes to fueling the American obsession with the automobile that we will pay the freight regardless of what it costs. Grumbling at the pump to be sure, but we'll dig deep to keep that flivver on the freeway. In the lingo that is referred to as inelastic demand, meaning that the upward movement of price has little to no effect on demand (consumption). As a refugee from the odd-even gas lines of the 1970's TWC will gladly pay extra for the convenience of rolling up to the pump and filling up, thus seeming to prove the economic illiterates correct. The reality is a bit different. Like most drivers, as the price rises I begin to change my driving behavior.
...in the past two weeks, gasoline demand has plummeted, both relative to trend and relative to last year.
Retail price fluctuations had their predicted effect; they reduced consumption to cushion and absorb the unanticipated supply shock. How about that?
She cites James Hamilton's calculation illustrated in graph below to show how dramatic the reduced demand has been.
Professor Hamilton points out that this decrease in demand is one of the reasons why futures prices have returned to pre-Katrina levels, and why the storm hasn't had more of a prolonged effect on prices.
Chart courtesy of Professor James Hamilton at Econbrowser
I'm sure someone is going to fire me for this. On all counts, it is insensitive, demeaning to blacks, demeaning to the victims, and demeaning to the president. The cavalier reduction of the suffering of tens of thousands of people to a cheap laugh at the expense of President Bush is nothing short of heinous. Worse, it plays into the hands of GWB's harshest critics who are even now exchanging self-satisfied looks with each other. That's right, he really is that much of an idiot. And my mother is going to pop a cork when she sees this. Michael, I raised you better than this.
Address all harshly critical emails to: YouBigJackass [at] Winecommonsewer [dot] com
the United Food and Commercial Workers union is outsourcing its picketing to non-union workers, at a sub-standard pay rate with no benefits, in unsafe conditions, with no transportation or means to leave the premises, in order to protest the poor jobs inside Wal-Mart, where workers make twice as much.
Apparently if you gotta go, you can use the gas station across the street (but only twice a day).