Sunday, April 30, 2006

Sunday Funnies

This probably is "too much information," but there's something I really like to do on Sunday mornings. I get up early, hit the grocery store for some snack food, and come back home to watch the Sunday morning political talk shows. I just can't get my day started without Bob Schieffer, Tim Russert and George Stephanopoulos. It's my way of keeping up with politics.

Bob Schieffer had Condie on today. What's her job again? It seems she believes herself to be the administration's (incompetent) press secretary. How's she ever going to have any diplomatic credibility abroad if she has absolutely no credibility locally. Bob tried to pin her down on some old issues, like troop levels in Iraq. Her answer was evasive and contentless (as usual): everyone makes mistakes and it's not the right time to analyze the potential mistakes surrounding the war. What she doesn't seem to understand is that even though every large operation will inevitably make mistakes, it's still alright to revisit the decisions leading to them. Decisions can be made intelligently and in good faith and still be wrong, and then decisions can be made hurriedly and tendentiously by Defense Secretaries on crack. That is, was it the administration's gross negligence and willful ignorance of the facts at hand which directly led to the horrible mess? (And further, if now's not the right time to discuss this, tell us when? We won't wait until a seemingly eternal war is finally abandoned.) Unfortunately, I don't think Condie even understood the question. Bob had to give up and move on.

On George Stephanopoulos's show, the highlight by far was George Will. His endless pessimism summed up this week in politics well. The topic at the roundtable was gas prices. Sure they've gone up, but they've been higher (e.g. in 1981, adjusted for inflation). Higher gas prices do have positive side-effects: they encourage conservation and thus have a positive effect on global warming (which the administration doesn't "believe" in...). The U.S. by far uses the most crude oil at 21 million barrels a day. China's at about 6, and India's at about 1 and a half. Cut domestic consumption. Increase production. (A windfall profits tax will hurt production. Carter did it; it didn't help then.) Encourage hybrid vehicles and E85. Give those idiots who bought SUVs what they deserve... Is this really so much of a problem?

Then Tim Russert had some interesting people, including our own Dick Durbin. He was on the opposite end of every issue from all three of the other guests. He seems to think the profits the oil companies see, and the salaries of the top men is completely out of line. But it's commensurate with what top men in other industries get. Look at what top hedge fund traders get paid. Half a billion dollars is a decent salary. Maybe that's too much, or maybe not. They get paid if they perform well, and they are accountable not just for their decisions but also the vicissitudes that affect their markets. Seems to me that if that CEO types are uniformly paid that highly, people must value what they do, and think that they are worth that. I suppose I'm a capitalist; I believe in a free market.

In other news, we have dropped a notch in the convention market. We were previously second to Las Vegas, but now we also follow Orlando. I mention this because some people think I happen to have a special fondness for Rosemont and the hummel museum...