Friday, January 15, 2010

Tomorrow on the King Banaian Show 

The housing market continues to be the focus of much news, what with the workout of "phantom inventory" from banks, the HAMP failure, what is happening to the FHA, etc. I have been looking for a housing specialist, and on the show tomorrow I have Mary Tootikian, author of Stunned in America. She is a mortgage industry specialist with over 20 years in the business, and her book argues that the banks have overreacted to the loss of housing prices. Are we too tight with lending now? Who is responsible, and what can be done?

Please tune in! The show starts at 9am on KYCR (from the linked page you can open the stream) and Ms. Tootikian is expected to join us in the 10 o'clock hour. After that, head on over to the Sportsman Show with the NARN, 11-3.

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Saturday, January 02, 2010

Today on the King Banaian Show 

The King Banaian Show will be LIVE tomorrow starting at 9am. Here's the show's site, and be sure to use Twitter either by #kbrs or by following the show on Twitter. We'll have not just a year in review but a whole decade of it. What were the best business stories, and the worst? (I'm pretty sure we know what #1 of the latter was!) It's a New Year Edition of KBRS, and I look forward to your listening and phone calls at 651-289-4477.

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Friday, December 11, 2009

Financial reform bill passes anyway 

They gone and done it. It was 223-202 on final passage, but the motion to recommit (send back to committee, what I hoped would happen this morning) drew 10 extra noes, meaning some Democrats voted to not recommit but then either voted against the bill or slipped out of the chamber. Folks like Ike Skelton of Missouri, for instance, who is feeling a lot of heat on his re-election, tried to split the baby.

One thing for higher education people to watch: an amendment that requires students to get financial aid counseling before receiving student loans from private lenders.

I'll have more on the bill and its provisions on the King Banaian Show tomorrow.

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Friday, December 04, 2009

Tomorrow on the King Banaian Show 

Show starts at 9am on KYCR. I will cover the jobs report, the estate tax, and what does it mean that North Korea had a monetary reform this past week. I am pleased to be joined in the 10am hour with Paul Rubin, president of the White Bear Lake Superstore, to talk about both cash for clunkers and the turnover of leadership at GM.

There is an online stream available from the station link; you can reach us during the show via Twitter using the search term #kbrs or the show's Twitter stream.

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

New radio adventure 

For those of you still wondering what's going on with the radio program, your wait is about over. As I just mentioned on KKMS Live with Jeff and Lee last hour, I will be on KYCR this Saturday, 9-11am, as we begin to roll out the new Business 1570 Talk Radio Saturday. As I'll discuss on Saturday, do NOT expect that this is just Final Word on another station. We're going to create something different, more focused on economics and finance than anything I've ever done on NARN. But you will still hear policy talk, as I've always done, with an eye towards what's happening in St. Paul and Washington that affects business leaders and entrepreneurs.

We don't have everything in place just yet to make this work, but part of my philosophy is to get out there quickly, find the problems with any new venture and work them out. So join in an audio beta-testing on Saturday, 9am, on Business 1570, Twin Cities Business Radio.

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Friday, October 09, 2009


Sorry to have been so busy today. Still working on details for radio tomorrow -- looks iffy at this point, but we will know more shortly. Meanwhile, please see my first post at the new National Association of Scholars blog. Bookmark that blog for commentary on higher education from at least 22 academics.

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Thursday, October 08, 2009

Media alerts 

  1. Due to a technical glitch, I am covering for Don again on the KNSI Morning Show, 6-8am tomorrow.
  2. If you are in St. Cloud, you have a great opportunity to hear an alumnus of my department who has made quite a name for himself. Jim Bullard, president of the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank, will be speaking at Atwood Little Theater tomorrow at 1pm on the economy. There will be a brief Q&A at the end of the hour. Admission is free. Here are directions to Atwood.
  3. As to the status of Final Word, please check back tomorrow for news. I'm 98% sure of what happens next and need time to get the details. But it's going to be a different and I think an exciting opportunity.

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Friday, October 02, 2009

No radio tomorrow (UPDATED) 

We are in the middle of making some changes to the radio show, which will include the time of its broadcast. Suffice to say, my travel gave us little time to get all the changes made for this Saturday, so the best thing to do is to take another week off. I hope that in a week I can offer you a full update of where Final Word will be going next. The first four hours of NARN will be on the air as always and we don't anticipate changes to that part of the schedule.

I apologize for how sketchy this note is, but there are many details that are TBD at this point and probably will be for another five days or so.

If you're really desperate to hear me, besides needing to get your head examined you could hear me on KNSI next Thursday 6-8am on its Morning Show, filling in for Don Lyons.

UPDATE: Forgot it was first Saturday, so I'll take my usual turn on the David Strom Show at 10am.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Final Word last week 

We talked mostly about individual mandates for health care, and a bit about the vilification of the opposition, particularly by Speaker Pelosi. Hour headers are the links to the podcast, and for Tommy's Playlist below we'll go with Chevelle this week, which caught me by pleasant surprise. (I've also linked the video for Mr. Brightside so I can play it while away. I recently discovered the Killers and think they are awesome.)

We'll have surprise guest hosts for you this week on NARN. Follow Mitch and Ed, John and Brian for details. I'll be overseas for the rest of this week and most of next. More on this later.

1st hour

out: Sparklehorse, Sad And Beautiful World
in: U2, Elevation

out:Better Than Ezra, Pull
in: Chevelle, Sleep Apnea

out: Gomez, How we Operate
in: Coldplay, Voilet Hill

out: Radiohead, Paranoid Android

2nd hr

out: Foo Fighters, Long Road To Ruin
in: Muse, Super Massive Blackhole

out: Arctic Monkeys, Brainstorm
in: Audioslave, Cochise

out: Killers, Mr Brightside
in: Soundgarden, Spoonman

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Friday, September 11, 2009

9/11 and 9/12 

We'll be quiet today and let you read honors to September 11th elsewhere. Here's an audio we played on the air last year. And check out Project 2,996; Ed Morrissey's turn at writing about one of the victims is here. (UPDATE: Chad suggests these videos too.)

Janet Adds: Today was doubly memorable for us. In addition to our remembrances of 9/11/2001, we saw our youngest son off at the airport this morning. He is an army 1st Lieutenant, deploying to Iraq at the end of this month, so it will probably be a year before we see him next. [End Janet.]

While I'm at it, for those who are wondering about the St. Cloud T.E.A. (Taxed Enough Already) Party, here's how you get to Lake George -- and pay particular attention to the construction in the area.

Lake George is across the street from Technical High School (233 12th Ave S, St. Cloud MN 56301), so using your GPS for the high school will take you there. That area is also your best bet for street parking. There is a parking lot on the south side of the lake as well. The organizers plan to set up in the northeast corner of the lake, which is where there is still construction for a new bridge and the 9th Ave underpass.

If you are coming from the east, remember that the bridge on Highway 23 over the Mississippi is still closed, so you will want to follow the detour signs. From any other direction, my advice is to come off Interstate 94 or U.S. 10 to State Highway 15, and turn east onto Division Street (which is labeled as Highway 23, Crossroads Mall will be to your west.)

I will be speaking around 10:15, just before Rep. Bachmann, and then hopping in the car to head to the Patriot. Live call-ins from St. Cloud will be on NARN Volume I, which is going to be hosted by Ed this week (Mitch will probably be there after noon.) So if you can't be there, you can at least listen to all the fun you're missing!

P.S. Yes, I'll stop by the MOB gathering too tomorrow night at Keegans. But I leave very early due to Sunday church singing, so if you snooze, you lose.

P.P.S. I'm glad Andy Levy preserved that Twitter stream. I was stretching before bed -- it's the only way my back can stay moderately healthy any more -- and as is my wont, I usually go to bed around 12:30am. My iPod Touch gave me the usual last hundred posts, which I read while listening to either Dennis (Miller, Prager) or music, and last night I chose Red House Painters. Stretching is about twenty minutes. I start reading and half my tweetstream is AllahPundit's stream. I got up, sat down, and refreshed until Twitterrific wouldn't let me any more. Music ran out at the same time, and I went to bed. I slept poorly.

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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Shows to a fair-thee-well 

I'm late thanking everyone -- and I mean everyone with this year's record attendance -- for stopping by the State Fair, particularly for Saturday's show. We had a blast with the buffalo meat kebab for my breaking the vegetarian fast (and it has gone well, with a little turkey eaten on Monday) and with seeing so many friends at the fair. My special thanks to our guests who stopped by and to Mitch and Ed for playing emergency backstop if the buffalo experiment had gone poorly. If you want to relive the experience, here are hour 1 and hour 2 of that show.

Tommy's playlist (as usual, with one video included):

Hour 1

out/in: Pink Floyd, Brick in the Wall

out: Motley Crue, Smokin in the boys room

in: Lupe Fiasco, Superstar

out: Chicago, Saturday in the Park

in: Green Jelly, Three Little Pigs

out: Better Than Ezra, Our Last Night

Hour 2

out: AC/DC, Big Gun

In: Yul Brenner, A Puzzlement (because the night before while with Mitch I said something about playing The King and I.)

out: Prodigy, Breathe

in: Meatloaf, I would do anything for love
out: Ted Nugent, Great White Buffalo

in: Bob Marley, Buffalo Soldier

From the week before, I had President Earl Potter and state Rep. Laura Brod on in Hour 1 from the State Fair, and then in hour 2 I had announced the fair meat contest and some general news items. Tommy's playlist for that week:

out: Counting Crows, Mrs Potters Lullaby

in: Kid Rock, All Summer Long
out: The Black Crows

In: AC/DC, Runaway Train
out: Foo Fighters, Learning to Fly

in: Coldplay, Politik
out: Gomez, How We Operate

2nd Hour:

out: Van Halen, You Really Got Me

in: Free, Alright Now
out: The Refreshments, Banditos

in: Radiohead, Just
out: Marvelous 3 (Butch Walker), Freak of the Week

in: Gorillaz, Feel Good Inc
out: ZZ Top, Tush (at which point I wondered where was my normal outro!)

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Friday, September 04, 2009

State fair poll continues 

What will King eat at the State Fair to end 22 years of vegetarianism?
Buffalo kebabs
Corn dog
Turkey drumstick
Free polls from
Polling closes at 3pm Saturday -- keep those votes coming! We will purchase the selected item at 4pm and be ready for me to consume at 4:30.

NARN on a Stick continues from the State Fair today 5-7pm, with Mitch Berg and myself, on AM 1280 the Patriot. We're on Dan Patch Blvd just inside the Snelling gate across from the Farmers Union building.

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Thursday, September 03, 2009

Private channel to Chad 

The Tubes were always about sarcastic lyrics. She's a Beauty is off a later album in 1983, eight years after their eponymous The Tubes album. That one includes one of my unheralded greatest hits collection, White Punks on Dope, in which the singer says he would commit suicide if only he could afford the rope. And of course, What Do You Want from Life, which proves just that the Seventies contained the same solipsistic teens as come to my freshman classes today. Here's the finale:
What do you want from life
Someone to love
and somebody that you can trust
What do you want from life
To try and be happy
while you do the nasty things you must

Well, you can't have that, but if you're an American citizen you are entitled to:
  • a heated kidney shaped pool,
  • a microwave oven--don't watch the food cook,
  • a Dyna-Gym--I'll personally demonstrate it in the privacy of your own home,
  • a king-size Titanic unsinkable Molly Brown waterbed with polybendum,
  • a foolproof plan and an airtight alibi,
  • real simulated Indian jewelry,
  • a Gucci shoetree,
  • a year's supply of antibiotics,
  • a personally autographed picture of Randy Mantooth
  • and Bob Dylan's new unlisted phone number,
  • a beautifully restored 3rd Reich swizzle stick,
  • Rosemary's baby,
  • a dream date in kneepads with Paul Williams,
  • a new Matador, a new mastodon,
  • a Maverick, a Mustang, a Montego,
  • a Merc Montclair, a Mark IV, a meteor,
  • a Mercedes, an MG, or a Malibu,
  • a Mort Moriarty, a Maserati, a Mac truck,
  • a Mazda, a new Monza, or a moped,
  • a Winnebago--Hell, a herd of Winnebago's we're giving 'em away, or how about
  • a McCulloch chainsaw,
  • a Las Vegas wedding,
  • a Mexican divorce,
  • a solid gold Kama Sutra coffee pot,
  • or a baby's arm holding an apple?
I'll bet I played that nightly for my first semester in grad school. I have no idea why.

You're right, Chad, She's A Beauty is horrible. It's a good reason not to see the band, which still tours. But at least one Tuber redeemed himself when Fee Waybill brought Rocky Horror to stage.

Let's see if producer Tommy plays this on Saturday.

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Your State Fair poll -- What does King eat Saturday? 

What will King eat at the State Fair to end 22 years of vegetarianism?
Buffalo kebabs
Corn dog
Turkey drumstick
Free polls from
A number of you have asked why I would do this. Most people know that vegetarians always work towards keeping a balance of proteins, carbs and fat in the diet. I'm kind of naturally inclined towards a high-carb diet, which accounts for my carrying a spare tire around my midsection. Since my gallbladder came out last year, some of the things I used to consume for proteins, in particular eggs, no longer work for me. (You do not want me to explain this.) The diet has, in my mind, gotten worse rather than better. At one time I was vegetarian for ethical reasons, but mostly now it's health and laziness and fear. Like many, I don't want to put weird stuff in my mouth and stomach. Particularly after that surgery.

And that leads me to why I would do it this way. When faced with doing something difficult, making a commitment that's difficult to break can get you over the hump. What could be more embarrassing than me NOT going through with this on my own radio show? It would be rather humiliating. But committing to do something five days later is easier than committing to doing something five minutes later. So I built this up not just to have something humorous for Saturday's show, but to make the cost of backing out higher. It's a bit more than a nudge, but has the same effect.

The most popular choice in comments was the buffalo kebabs, but we'll put this post up for today and repeat it tomorrow, and you can vote as you like.

UPDATE: To be clear about this: This isn't a stunt; I am intending to put small amounts of meat back in my diet for the foreseeable future, and have intended to do so for a few months. It's intention is to make me commit to doing it on a date certain, and to do so in a way that's fun and might get a few more people to listen to the show and stop by the booth. And by small amounts, I mean just leanest meats, just a few times a month, mostly prepared by me at home. For now, Mrs. S and I agree not to cook meat in the home, but on my grill is OK. (I should note, she eats fish, but does not cook it at home because the smell of fish -- and meat -- cooking mostly makes me ill. Neither of my children are vegetarian.)

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Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Speaking alert 

Two talks this morning, to a local commercial real estate group on the local economy, followed by a quick dash to St. Paul to speak to a coordinating group concerned with taxation. I have one or two quick notes in the queue to read; back this PM.

Remember: NARN on a Stick continues all week. (How come they call it NARN on a Stick if they don't put our heads on sticks, but do Strom?) I'll have the end-King's-vegetarianism poll up Thursday morning.

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Monday, August 31, 2009

Request for meat suggestions 

In comments to this post, as discussed on NARN on a Stick today, please give ideas for what meat King will eat to give up 22 years of vegetarianism at the State Fair. Suggestions will be polled later in the week.

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Media alert 

I will be on KKMS at 3:30, live from the State Fair, and then Ed Morrissey and I take a turn for NARN on a Stick at the Patriot booth at the Fair from 5-7pm. Please tune in (links to both those stations will include streaming audio.)

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Friday, August 28, 2009

Tomorrow's a Fair Day 

Tomorrow I have first an opportunity to hear some conservative views on the health care debate. See yesterday's note for more, but the short of it is: 9-11am at the St. Cloud Public Library on St. Germain. I will be moderating a panel that will include medical professionals and state Rep. Steve Gottwalt. Our discussion will be more general intended to show alternatives to the plans being discussed at town halls. We are not replicating a town hall; I am using a moderated format for audience participation that I think will promote a good discussion.

Then I'll hop in the SUV and head to the State Fair, as NARN begins in a few minutes with its NARN on a Stick broadcast schedule. Normal Final Word tomorrow, 3-5 pm. guests to include state Rep. Laura Brod. I have a potential surprise guest too that you won't want to miss. Be sure to turn your radio to AM 1280 all day as we start with the David Strom Show at 9am and then six hours of NARN.

I'll be pulling extra NARN on a Stick duties on Monday and Friday next week, 5-7, so if you plan to come to the Fair, please look for us on Dan Patch, about fifty yards inside the Snelling gate. Alternatively, if you're already in the Fairgrounds, come up Dan Patch, walk past the DFL booth and turn right. We'll be there.

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Tommy's playlist for 8/22 

We are starting a new category, on request of Final Word listeners. Tommy Huynh, my producer, makes a list of the songs he plays as bumper music for FW. (For the curious, our intro music is Doves, Words, and the outro for the last segment is always Cheap Trick, Who D'King, as proposed by Derek at Freedom Dogs.)

Our podcast always appears with the rest of NARN at Townhall. For the most recent Saturday, they normally don't go up before Monday night (and please don't ask why -- there's always some damn reason or another for slow posting even though we're the only live Salem/Townhall show going on a weekend and could kick some Monday morning butt.)

UPDATE: Well what do you know? Hour 1, Hour 2.

We'll use Final Word and Tommy's Playlists in the labels for those wanting to follow along, and I'll link to a YouTube each week of one song I like.

1st hr

out: Seether, Remedy

in: AC/DC, Runaway Train

out: Prodigy, Breathe

In: Counting Crows, Los Angeles

out: Len, Steal My Sunshine

in: Weezer, Hashpipe

out: Tom Petty, Mary Jane's Last Dance
2nd hr

out: Gomez, How We Operate (I showed him a Gomez CD in my car months ago, and he went to my favorite Gomez song without bidding.)

in: Coldplay, Yellow

out: Radiohead, Iron Lung

in: Better Than Ezra, Pull

out: Muse, Starlight

in: Greenday, Holiday

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Tommy's playlist for 8/15 

To catch up from two weekends ago, here's Tommy's playlist.

Out first break: Rock You Like a Hurricane, Scorpions

In: Black Hole Sun, Soundgarden

Out: Rain in the Summertime, The Alarm

In: Iron Lung, Radiohead

Out: Diesel Power, Prodigy

In: Viva La Vida, Coldplay

Out: I Wish it Would Rain, Phil Collins

2nd Hour

Out: Dust in the Wind, Kansas

In: Cold as Ice, Foreigner

Out: Earth Song, Micheal Jackson

In: Super massive Black Hole, Muse

Out: Turn, Turn, Turn, the Byrds

In: Holiday, Green Day

Be sure to hear Hour 1 with John Coleman and Hour 2 with Prof. Al Pekarek, both on climate change, which appears to be the most popular topic on this blog. Your choice, folks, not mine.

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Friday, July 24, 2009

Checking out 

Gone the rest of the day to the Millard Fillmore blogger golf bash. Maybe you'll see some info via Twitter; supposedly we'll have Mitch doing commentary again.

If you're in St. Cloud and not able to take part in the MilF, maybe I could interest you in a free night of comedy, courtesy of GREAT Theater.

A Funny Thing Happend on the Way to the Forum

Outdoors at Lake George
Performs: July 23, 24 and 25 at 7:30
Bring your own chair or blanket

Featuring a community theatre cast of fantastic actors with a live orchestra, you won't want to miss this hilarious Broadway Musical "Under The Stars." Featuring bawdy slapstick comedy this production is recommended for ages eight and up.

Among those appearing is Mrs. S. I saw the show last night and it's absolutely hilarious. The cast has a great time and the audience does too. Crowd fills in around seven, so if you want to sit up close show up early. (I am a huge Zero Mostel fan, and this is one of my favorite movies. Particularly when it includes Phil Silvers.)

NARN is in studio tomorrow, so please be sure to listen in.

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Flattery will get you in your buddy's column 

My NARN friend Ed Morrissey writes a column for the American Issues Project today that picks up on my praise of something he wrote earlier this week. The debate over health care is not a debate between rationing and not rationing; it is a debate between rationing by government and rationing by the current system of a little choice for individuals, a medical education system controlled by doctors and government, and third-party payers in insurance companies. Given that's the current system, as Atul Gawande noted last January, you're most likely going to make small changes on that system.

Ed points out two differences between our system and the models of single-payer that proponents use. First, in the systems of Britain and Canada, if one wanted to opt out of the national health system, where would one go? True, you'd have to have a lot of money to do it, but that option is simply not available. Yet the various stories from Canada of people making choices when ill to opt out and use private solutions either in Canada or the USA are something American consumers take for granted. Tell them they won't have that option -- as President Obama got dangerously close to doing last night -- and you will lose a lot of support for changing the system. It's true that when we're not sick we, like most people, don't pay a very high share of our health costs -- as is true everywhere else, Arnold Kling points out. But we seem to have very inelastic demand for treatment when ill. (There must be a dozen good dissertations in health economics in that last paragraph.)

Secondly, Ed worries for the diversity of health care choices under the proposed system:

The rationing decisions come from a voluntary association between the consumer and supplier, not from a coerced �choice� imposed by politicians. If you don�t like the rationing decisions made under single-payer, you will be left with no other options, and the lack of competition will mean that little pressure can be brought to bear to improve those decisions through normal market forces.

In a free market system, even with insurers, the goods or services available to consumers allow for diverse choices and get rationed on the individual's ability to pay. That's true for anything, even the essentials of living � food, drink, clothing, shelter, as a moment's thought will corroborate. Few Americans, at least so far, have argued that any of these basic commodities should be governed by a single-payer entity that assigns those choices by any other means than the fruits of one's labors.

I saw a great headline in our campus newspaper that illustrates one of the problems we have in economics: "Economy leaves many unemployed". To borrow the line from Soylent Green, "the economy is people!!!" It is the actions of millions of individuals who buy and sell, truck, barter and exchange with one another. Or think of the scene from Repo Man
Duke: The lights are growing dim Otto. I know a life of crime has led me to this sorry fate, and yet, I blame society. Society made me what I am.
Otto: That's bullsh*t. You're a white suburban punk just like me.
Duke: Yeah, but it still hurts.
The economy doesn't "leave many unemployed"; at this particular moment workers are not as persuasive in convincing employers that their own situations would be made better if they hired more labor. We get our income by convincing others to give it to us in exchange for something of value. Our ability to convince people depends on choices we make.

That is as true of health care as any other good. We get it by convincing someone else to help us become healthier and to stay healthier. The use of government payments -- "single payer" obfuscates who it is we're enlisting to pay -- brings into that relationship an entity with the legal monopoly on the use of force. I cannot persuade my golf partner the optometrist to give me an eye exam for $20; he's really good at what he does, and the time I spend in the chair could be used on someone else willing to pay $100. But if I tell him "you'll get paid by the government" and the government sets his compensation for an eye exam at $20, he has less freedom to refuse my demand for an eye exam. I might be able to persuade him out of friendship, but why should I bother if I can use government force instead?

When I persuade someone else to exchange with me, we agree on values. When government pays for health care, it imposes its values.

This is why I wanted my question asked of President Obama last night: "Who will provide medical services to the 46 million Americans you say will now receive coverage under your plan that do not now?" Will the government try to persuade them? If so, with money they earn or money they acquired through confiscation (taxes)? Or will the force be more direct? If the government is going to be in the business of promising health care, how will it deliver? It will impose its values on someone; it would be nice of the Democrats to tell us who. Maybe someone will persuade them to tell us, because unlike them, we can't force an answer.

My thanks to Ed for introducing me to the AIP audience; I hope you liked what you read here, and invite you to look around.

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Friday, June 19, 2009

All I know about cars... 

... I learned at the MSRA's Back to the Fifties rally last year. �So I'm glad we're doing this again this year.

Memories will also be evoked by a special reunion broadcast 11-1 with Mitch, Ed and me. � Anything nostalgic will also have the possibility of a Lileks sighting, possibly around 2. �I'll take a break in the usual Headliners period finding food (without Michael, this will be easier) and be back at 3 trying to tell a Buick Phaeton from a VW Phaeton. �

All this happens at the State Fairgrounds, with our tent set up on Dan Patch near the Snelling entrance. �If you like cars, Americana, or just a nice day looking around the Fairgrounds, come on out and see us please! �If you cannot make it, start listening at 9am CT to AM 1280 the Patriot for the David Strom Show and then let NARN tell you all that you're missing.

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Clarification and interventionism 

I am actually pleased that I've gotten so much email -- most of it negative -- about my broadcast Saturday on what the term socialism means. I had wondered if I was wasting my time, that most people were wise enough to know that socialism and what is happening right now in America are sufficiently different so as to make it necessary to call the Obama Administration's current economic policy something different. I had settled on "interventionism" based on one of Mises' shorter works, because it illustrates something I had tried to explain.

There are only two systems of economic order: Planned systems (which we call "socialism") and spontaneous systems ("capitalism"). He says, in this classic reprinted by the Joint Economic Committee back in 1994,
Production can either be directed by the prices fixed on the market by the buying and by the abstention from buying on the part of the public. Or it can be directed by the government's central board of production management. There is no third solution available. There is no third social system feasible which would be neither market economy nor socialism. Government control of only a part of prices must result in a state of affairs which -- without any exception -- everybody considers as absurd and contrary to purpose. Its inevitable result is chaos and social unrest.
Mises argued that socialism takes two forms. Many of you who wrote to me after the show pointed out that socialism did not require direct bureaucratic control of the economy. That, as Mises argued, is one form. The other he characterizes by the German word Zwangswirtschaft, or "economic compulsion". While there are still private owners hiring workers, buying goods and making profits, they are directed by the state:
The government tells these seeming entrepreneurs what and how to produce, at what prices and from whom to buy, at what prices and to whom to sell. The government decrees at what wages laborers should work and to whom and under what terms the capitalists should entrust their funds. Market exchange is but a sham. As all prices, wages, and interest rates are fixed by the authority, they are prices, wages, and interest rates in appearance only; in fact they are merely quantitative terms in the authoritarian orders determining each citizen's income, consumption, and standard of living. The authority, not the consumers, directs production. The central board of production management is supreme; all citizens are nothing else but civil servants.
There is a fair amount of this beginning in the economy today, I agree. GM and Chrysler are but two examples. The directed lending from the Federal Reserve is another. What may happen in health care may be a third. (We don't know yet; they won't show their cards.)

But it is important to be taken seriously: We cannot argue for turning back this policy unless we properly identify it. And what we identify as socialism, in either the bureaucratic or compulsory forms, will demand proof that we don't yet have. And I don't think it helps to create a new term like "liberal fascism" or "fascism with a happy face" to do battle with those who we want to persuade. It's like comedy, as Johnny Carson used to say: Buy the premise, buy the bit. The word is value-laden and perjorative, putting people off before I can even start an argument. I need something different. So...
The interventionists emphasize that they plan to retain private ownership of the means of production, entrepreneurship and market exchange. But, they go on to say, it is peremptory to prevent these capitalist institutions from spreading havoc and unfairly exploiting the majority of people. It is the duty of government to restrain, by orders and prohibitions, the greed of the propertied classes lest their acquisitiveness harm the poorer classes. Unhampered or laissez-faire capitalism is an evil. But in order to eliminate its evils, there is no need to abolish capitalism entirely. It is possible to improve the capitalist system by government interference with the actions of the capitalists and entrepreneurs. Such government regulation and regimentation of business is the only method to keep off totalitarian socialism and to salvage those features of capitalism which are worth preserving.
There is an area in-between which is an unstable equilibrium. Its character is the black line between the two poles:
Many countries find themselves on the black line, including ours. But what do you call it? It's that area that Mises called "interventionism." It's worth noting that Mises did not think we would move inexorably towards Socialism; it's the lie that socialists use to defeat those who advocate market order to call their preference "progressive." Mises was not optimistic that the battle would be won, but he thought it could be.
Even in this country which owes to a century of "rugged individualism" the highest standard of living ever attained by any nation, public opinion condemns laissez-faire. In the last fifty years thousands of books have been published to indict capitalism and to advocate radical interventionism, the welfare state and socialism. The few books which tried to explain adequately the working of the free market economy were hardly noticed by the public. Their authors remained obscure, ... It is a well-known fact that the legitimate stage as well as the Hollywood industry are no less radically critical of free enterprise than are many novels. There are in this country many periodicals which in every issue furiously attack economic freedom. There is hardly any magazine of opinion that would plead for the system that [has made America better off].

...What we need is neither anti-socialism nor anti-communism but an open positive endorsement of that system to which we owe all the wealth that distinguishes our age from the comparatively straitened conditions of ages gone by.
I've used several times this almost offhand comment from Milton Friedman in 1975 as well:
"There's a strong argument to be made that a free society is a fundamentally unstable equilibrium, in the language of the natural sciences....There's a great deal of basis for believing that a free society is fundamentally unstable--we may regret this but we've got to face up to the facts....How often and for how long have we had free societies? For short periods of time. There was an essentially free society in 5th-century Greece. Was it able to survive? It disappeared. Every other time when there's been a free society, it has tended to disappear."
That period in the U.S. was 1789-1929, he later said. Nobody said an unstable equilibrium couldn't last for a long time. But its death began in earnest with FDR, and continues to this day. Once Republicans accepted that you could intervene even on a limited basis, the gravitational pull on my graphic above is all to the left.

It will not do, I argue, to just toss the label "socialist" towards Obama, Pelosi, et al. Et al. includes a LOT of people, not all of whom wear the scarlet D, if you confuse interventionism with socialism. It will do better to argue the positive position that ending intervention will result in a more prosperous and more free society. To do so will win you no friends, now and forever. Daniel Hannan, recalling Margaret Thatcher and the Left's hatred of her:
Anti-Thatcherites tell you that it's because she closed down the old industries. (She didn't, of course: she simply stopped obliging everyone else to support them.) Yet it must surely be obvious by now that nothing would have kept the dockyards and coalmines and steel mills open. A similar process of deindustrialisation has unfolded in every other Western European country [and the U.S. --kb], ...

No, what Lefties (with honourable exceptions) find so hard to forgive is the lady's very success: the fact that she rescued a country that they had dishonoured and impoverished; that she inherited a Britain that was sclerotic, indebted and declining and left it proud, wealthy and free; that she never lost an election to them. Their rage, in truth, can never be assuaged; for it is the rage of Caliban.
Will it do for supporters of free markets to battle rage with rage, epithet with epithet, or shall we instead build a better argument for why our world will be better than theirs? A free society may be unstable, but it isn't accidental.

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Thursday, June 04, 2009

On boycotting GM and Chrysler 

I read and hear my friend Hugh Hewitt bemoan the socialization of GM and Chrysler's profits and losses, and calls for a boycott. Most of the time it's the Left that calls for economic boycotts -- Cesar Chavez in the Seventies, South Africa in the Eighties, Israel nowadays. But lately the American conservative has decided it's cool to boycott French wines, and now is going to get into calling GM Government Motors.

Freedom of contract mean we get to buy and sell goods with anyone we choose, for whatever reasons we want to. That right to choose means the right to discriminate against certain folks we don't want to buy from, or in favor of those we do. So it's right for Hugh or anyone else to try to persuade us not to buy GM, and it's right for someone to try to persuade me not to buy Israeli products because they're sold by people who (the boycotter says) oppress others. And I'm free to agree or disagree. You're free to hire cute blondes (even Latvian blondes!) to try to persuade me to buy a Corvette, and my wife is free to persuade me to pay that blonde no nevermind or else it's the couch for me! Free markets work by persuasion.

What is the purpose of a boycott? Typically to change behavior of the people against whom you are boycotting. In his interview with Paul Rubin of White Bear Lake Superstore -- where both Hugh and NARN* have broadcast in the past -- Hugh argues that a successful boycott will get the government to divest of GM. He also argues that if the GM socialization is successful it will breed other socializations of private firms. But we cannot force them to do this: All we can do is to make the political calculation of the costs and benefits of socialization work in favor of divestment of GM and Chrysler. That does not require votes; adding $50 billion to a $1.8 trillion deficit isn't going to create any pain upon the White House. It will put pain on Paul Rubin; Hugh's calculation is that Paul's pain is a necessary cost to meet Hugh's goals.

So how is it that Hugh's boycott will work? It's worth noting that the "Freedom Fries" boycott was estimated to reduce French imports to the U.S. by 15% and U.S. exports to France by 8%. Not too big an effect there. And the apartheid boycott of South Africa didn't do much good either. The boycott will make great radio and vociferious editorials, but the impact of them is unlikely to do much good. Particularly when the UAW and other union leaders will funnel millions in campaign contributions to keep the government money coming.

And lastly, what has happened at GM and Chrysler (the latter temporarily, though it will maintain a minority interest for the foreseeable future) is that the government is accepting a bigger share of the gains and losses those two places make in the market. The impact of losing the entire $50 billion invested in GM will be about $362 per taxpayer (there were about 138 million in 2007.) If more of us crowd Ford and Toyota the price of those cars go up; the GM and Chrysler lots will be more inviting thanks to elbow room and lower prices. Selling at a loss is not an issue for government, which can always tax to make up those losses. (It does for Amtrak already.) Socializing profits and losses -- I used that term in the first sentence for a reason -- means that using an economic means to make a political point will be ineffective because the losses are spread throughout the populace, not focused on the Obama team.

The boycott will make some people feel good. But if you want to stop the socialization of American business, take it out at the ballot box, not on the dealer caught in the middle.

*--Full disclosure: I have been part of those broadcasts in the past, but have not been at the Superstore since creating the Final Word segment of NARN.

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Friday, May 08, 2009

Tomorrow on the Final Word (and the David Strom Show) 

I will take my normal turn on the David Strom Show a week late this week talking about the economy. I would tell you there's plan for what we'll talk about but this is not true. Whatever comes out of David's mouth, I react to. This usually turns out well.

Then on the Headliners with Mitch and Ed and on the Final Word, we're auctioning off two spots in the DAV of Minnesota golf outing with the Final Word. I and a special NARN participant will join two winners of the auction for golf at the Wilds, a beautiful course in Prior Lake. All proceeds go to disabled veterans, a great cause, and while I am not a good golfer I can be quite entertaining. Dial in and make bids starting at 1pm to 651-289-4488 and then listen to AM 1280 the Patriot at 4:50 to see if you've won! (Actually, we hope you'll listen all afternoon.)

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Friday, April 03, 2009

First Saturdays are two-for-one 

First Saturdays usually mean I will be on the David Strom Show at 10am CT to talk economics with David and Margaret. Streaming and podcasting information is available from here.

On the Final Word this week (beginning at 3pm) you will hear The Nihilist In Golf Pants, who has wanted for some time to get an hour to grill me on economics; he'll get to do the questioning and I will try to answer. Chime in via Twitter. Both shows are as always on AM 1280 the Patriot, and between those two times you'll get John and Brian, the First Team, and then Ed and Mitch, the Headliners. (NARN podcasts are always available here, usually posted 24-48 hours after the show. We also replay on Sunday nights on the Patriot beginning at 7pm.)

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Friday, March 06, 2009

In a sense, a record 

This graph, of which I've been doing a local version for about a year, has a new story to tell. Last summer I thought it said the recession was wimpy. It's not any more. The data is from the Minneapolis Fed, which has a really nice tool to create one of these graphs and data to download if you want more control (as I did.) "Median" is the median value of the 10 previous recessions. "Record" in the sense that we now have a postwar record almost; I've always viewed the 1948 recession as an abnormality created by demobilization from WW2. I'm not sure why I think that. I downloaded a paper on that recession, written before the 1957 recession, to read over the weekend. Maybe I'll write about this again, as I think this ties to some of the conclusions in Amity Shlaes work on the Great Depression and some of her interviews lately where she's talked about the postwar recovery.

I'll be on the David Strom Show tomorrow at 10am CT on the Patriot (in addition to my usual NARN turn at 3pm); since they always have me the first Saturday of the month, it's almost always the case that the employment numbers are the first thing we discuss. So keep this graph handy; I'll discuss it then.

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Whatcha gonna call it? 

I'm tempted to keep The Final Word name for the NARN Volume 3 show, but it seemed Michael thought the name would be retired with his departure. The Misanthropic Frat Boy at Nihilist in Golf Pants came up with a list of potential names, which included some commenters' suggestions as well. Sounds to me like a poll idea! So I've taken some that I liked, and are having them run against "Final Word." You can vote once a day, and we'll run the poll for a week. Have fun.

I know Mom will ask why not the King Banaian Show? Well, while for now it's a solo act, it may not be forever, and all the NARN shows have had some catchy subtitle, which an unspellable last name kind of inhibits. (If this was Mitch, I could see Ice Ice Bergie. Or not.)

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Whatever will we do without Michael? 

Tis true, Michael Brodkorb will be broadcasting his last as a regular host on The Final Word next week. We'd like to make it a fitting sendoff, so we're taking suggestions for what tributes one might think Michael will have.

He won't go away entirely -- he will be filling in for me when I'm away at conferences if he's available. NARN is about to turn five (in March). I've been happy to make that drive each week I can to feed my radio jones, but some days it's harder than others. The 28 months we've been doing NARN 3: FW has been great fun but it's a grind.

For the time being, the format will be NARN's first solo show. (It's never really solo as I always have a producer; I anticipate Matt being across the glass.) Readers of this blog know my preference for economics to politics by and large, and I'll talk more of it in the show in its new form. But state politics will still be part of FW's coverage. More on this in the next two weeks as I prepare to fly the plane myself.

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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Radio atwittering 

For those of you following the Final Word today, you can use Twitter to follow the conversation. �I'll monitor the hashtag #finalword to track what you're saying about the show. �Streaming starts for NARN 2 in a minute, and Final Word begins at 3, all at

Michael is away today, so I am joined instead by our show friend Pat Shortridge. �A man who lists The Cocktail Hour as a hobby is a perfect fit for FW!

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Don't forget the Patriot Debate 

We're at Trocadero's tonight for the Patriot Debate. Hope you have a ticket! (Or try crashing the joint if you don't.) What does McCain do to shake up the race? Will Obama be able to run out the clock? Can Bob Schieffer do any worse than Tom Brokaw in moderating? (I think I do know the answer to that one.) Come by for the discussion with about 400 of your best friends.

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Monday, October 06, 2008

Behind the weekend 

My thanks to bleak and Captain Capitalism for appearing on the Final Word this weekend. �You will want to listen to the podcast if you missed it, as the discussion of the housing crisis was as interesting as I hope my morning talk with David Strom and Margaret Martin was. �Different, though, as Aaron (CC) is certainly more opposed to the bailout bill than I and, it turned out, bleak were. � (I disagree with that last link, but I'll save that for another time.)

If you liked Aaron's radio appearance, do pick up a copy of his new book, Behind the Housing Crash. �The book blends anecdotes of his work in the financial industry with a very libertarian view of economics and finance. �Why did financial firms continue to lend money when their valuation methods told them the riskiness was high? �Because, quite simply, they stopped believing the models and believed that prices always go up. �Once you decide that, it is only a matter of time before new financial firms or new financial instruments pop up to provide fuel for the mania. �Aaron provides several stories from within the financial sector of how the mania spread, and for this the book is highly useful.

While giving thanks, you would perhaps also enjoy The First Team's handiwork in creating attack ads. �Credit goes to the Fraters, who did this for both the other two shows. �These are obviously having a very negative effect on my re-election chances for MOB mayor. �Just desserts will be served.

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Many thanks 

Thanks to Ed Morrissey of Hot Air -- whose friendship is one of the greatest benefits received from the labor of blogging here the last 6 years -- for comments on my American Experiment article. Two quick notes: The idea of a "market maker of last resort" did not originate with me. For that you should read Willem Buiter from last year. Whether the concept has an earlier progenitor, I do not know. I wasn't really writing an academic piece where I did a full literature review. If anyone has, please send it to me, thanks.

Second, while I think there's a case for intervention, I don't think the Paulson plan in its original form was the right plan. Ed says the same thing:
That doesn�t necessarily mean that the legislation in front of Congress is the completely correct approach, either, although it keeps improving (except for the pork) on each successive iteration. But the government that created this mess with its coercion over a period of several years needs to act at least to remove that coercion and to stimulate a market for the products of its failure.
There are two problems in the market. One, as the article discussed, is gearing. Some of that gearing is on housing assets. But not all. You could have had CDS securities in a market with no housing bubble and still have gotten yourself in trouble. The other problem is that, particularly with banks holding riskier assets than anyone had understood, they now have much less capital than they should. George Soros is trotting around Congress with a plan that has the government providing that capital. The warrants suggested in later versions of the plan that the House shot down Monday could potentially have brought in that capital, but either way you have government ownership of banks. A successful plan, as Buiter notes today, has to have both parts. We may not get them in the same bill, though, and if not you have to hope that Congress is smart enough to pass both despite their haste to get home and campaign.

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Friday, September 19, 2008

I'll just have to tell you 

I'll post over the weekend on the financial matters of the week. �If you want to hear it instead of read it, I will be on the David Strom Show at 9:20 to discuss matters with David and Margaret, and then I will be flying semi-solo (Matt will be my co-pilot) for Final Word as Michael basks in the glow of his prize. �Please do listen in.

Meanwhile I'm helping to celebrate the inauguration of President Earl Potter here at SCSU. �Congratulations, Earl. �It was a marvelous ceremony, and a word of praise for the SCSU Concert Choir, who sang some beautiful and challenging music.

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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Hot time 

It's been so busy I haven't posted here. Be sure to follow the Twitter feed for updates. Hear us tonight 8-10p CT at AM 1280 the Patriot.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

In case you forgot 

The NARN is at the Minnesota State Fair each night from 5-7pm. Tonight it's Michael and me, as Ed and Mitch get a breather from their week-long stint here. If you're not here, you can hear us on AM1280 the Patriot. (Streaming available there.)

UPDATE: Senator Norm Coleman will be with us at 5:20. We will ask about his new support for the expanded "Gang of 16". We also expect Zack Stephenson from MnPublius at 6pm to talk with us as the countdown to the coronation of Obama reaches its climax in Denver.

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Friday, August 22, 2008

Media alert 

I will be subbing for Don Lyons on the Morning Show today at 6-8am on 1450 KNSI here in St. Cloud (streaming available through the link). Then at 5-7pm, the Final Word begins its State Fair duties. If you are at the Fair this afternoon, come by the Patriot booth, newly placed on Dan Patch Blvd, and visit with Michael and me. NARN will be at the Fair weekdays 5-7 along with our normal Saturday gig (11-5; the Final Word begins at 3.)

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Friday, July 11, 2008

Radio daze 

My radio schedule is pretty full this coming week. Tomorrow I will be on the David Strom Show at 10am for my usual one-hour discussion of the economy with David and Margaret. I would guess that we will discuss whether recession is a mental disorder.

Then the usual shenanigans of the NARN begin at 11 with the First Team of the Fraters and Ringo Hinderaker, followed by the Headliners, Mitch and Ed, and then us in the Final Word at 3pm. I'm pretty sure I saw something about Franken on Michael's blog; he might want to talk about it. Or maybe we'll just spend two hours playing with his new iPhone.

For the local St. Cloud listeners, I will be sitting in for the vacationing Don Lyons next week at KNSI's Morning Show, 6-8am Monday through Friday.

All of these shows stream (Patriot; KNSI); the Saturday shows can be found here (for Strom) and here (NARN.)

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Monday, June 16, 2008

Late media alert 

My friend Ed Morrissey just wrote to ask me to be on The Ed Morrissey Show around 2:30. We will discuss the economy and maybe the series of posts on the bulletin boards. The series is in progress and will continue for another two weeks or so -- as I mentioned to Gary while he was here on campus this AM, SCSU is a target-rich environment for such posts. I've only explored one building thus far. Here are the first six photo-posts:

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Friday, June 06, 2008

A double-dip 

Per our usual agreement, I'll be on the David Strom Show tomorrow at 10am to talk about some of today's posts and a more general discussion of economics. Then the Final Word appears at its normal time of 3pm. Michael says he'll be live-blogging the DFL Senate endorsement debate, so I might be riding solo back at the mothership (though if there's an empty seat, guess who will take it?)

We'll see you tomorrow then, from 9-5 for Strom and the NARN, all on AM 1280 the Patriot.

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Saturday, May 31, 2008

Convention wrapup 

After one more battle over the national delegate slate -- won handily by the pro-McCain/party regular forces, though not without about an hour of tense debate, and which featured a speech by Michael that brought a broad majority of the house up and cheering -- Karl Rove is now speaking after which the convention will be over. The house is at this point only half-full. There will be a couple of meetings for the national delegates and alternate, and a state central committee meeting, but most of the hall will empty in about 30-45 minutes.

Rove's speaking skills serve to show the difference between those ready for national stage and those that are not. The people here are pleased by the comments where Democrats are criticized. His comment on Rev. Wright: "I'd be more comfortable with Sen. Obama if there was moral indignation than personal indignation." And then support for the Iraq War, which drew even more favorable applause when comparing who spoke to their enemies when. Foreign policy issues were most favorably received by the convention, though he certainly causes the Paul supporters to seethe.

Longtime convention attendees that I spoke to this morning thought this was not as well handled a convention in re the rules and the nominating slates, and there was a fair number of people unhappy with the degree to which McCain floor managers were signaling votes on every item. It's worth remembering -- a majority of these delegates were not elected at the precinct level to be McCain delegates. They supported Romney, or maybe Huckabee, or came undecided after being Guiliani or Thompson folk. Their attachment to McCain is something not that deeply felt. Thus the curiosity about Paul and attendance at his rally, and why some of those who eventually voted for McCain may have nonetheless been less than enthusiastic with the tactics employed by both the McCain managers and the party's rules.

Again, show time for us at 3pm, Mitch and Ed are up now. I have had so many people thank us for the NARN here, and let me on behalf of them all say how humbling and gratifying your support has been. You have no idea how much we appreciate your support -- heck, I'll drive through a gallbladder attack to do this!

Unless something extraordinary happens here, that's all from here and I'll return to my usual weekend blog silence. See you Monday.

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Friday, May 30, 2008

Show time 

Chad, Michael and I will be on the air at 5pm at AM 1280 the Patriot. No more blogging from here unless we're still doing things at 8pm. Thanks for being here today.

UPDATE: Show ended at 7, and the convention recessed fifteen minutes later. I will say the noise level and the hail outside was the most challenging environment for broadcast that I can remember. But great guests today, including Congressional candidates Ed Matthews and Brian Davis, and an excellent thirty minutes with Marianne Stebbins and Bill Paulson of the Ron Paul campaign, made it worth the effort.

The David Strom Show and the Northern Alliance are here 9-5 tomorrow. Hope you'll listen.

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Live at five at the MNGOP! 

Michael and I will be on AM1280 the Patriot 5-7pm for the opening of the Minnesota GOP convention at the Mayo Civic Center. We'll be here tomorrow same time, and Saturday as the usual list of the suspects of the Northern Alliance Radio Network. Streaming is available from the link.

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Friday, April 04, 2008

You know you've made it when... very good blogger is referred to by another very good blogger as the me of Mankato. Oddly, someone from Mankato was visiting our campus this very day for a workshop with department chairs. Such as lovely April Fridays sometimes spent (though a trip to two local watering holes with river views made up for that.) Phil Miller is indeed an excellent blogger; he, Doc Palmer and I had a couple of podcasts back in 2005 found at the bottom of John's podcast page.

Two of the three of us are on the Northern Alliance Radio Network tomorrow. I have an extra appearance in my usual first-of-the-month visit to the David Strom Show at 10am. John and the Fraters at 11-1 (guys, more hockey!); Mitch and Ed 1-3; and then the Final Word with Michael and me at 3-5pm. I believe we'll talk about the honesty of Larry Pogemiller, the bonding bill, and this curious article about malt liquor and murder.

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Monday, March 24, 2008

Here, grab this mic, or, TANSTAAFL! 

So I get an invite to a Dennis Prager talk from the station tonight, as did all of NARN. Late last week we were asked to put forward someone who will emcee the event. I had never seen Prager talk before and thought it a good thing to see (I had met him ever so briefly onces before, at a state fair event.) So I accepted the ticket, but, given I had to teach late this PM and worried about traffic, thought it would be better if someone else did this. Usually, you cannot keep Mitch away from the microphone and he's better at it anyway.

I had not planned on having dinner because of the schedule anyway, so I was surprised by light traffic and hit the Northland Inn around 6:15. They get me a seat in the dinner anyway, I get to talk a minute with Prager -- who is as nice as you would expect if you listen to his show; he says there's no radio-Dennis vs. real-life-Dennis, and from what I see that is right. I get my chicken (no use to this vegetarian, and at this stage not replaceable so I did without a main course), push it aside and talk with Fraters three and Nih(i)list. Over comes station management: We need someone to stall for Dennis, he's running late. (The dinner guests were to get personal pics with Prager, more on which in a minute.)

Now, walking into a room of 40-75 people and talking for 10 minutes is easy, and a studio with just a mic and a producer, well, that's fun. But this thing was sold out, and I had no idea how big the ballroom was. Something "sold out" placed in the "Grand Ballroom" isn't likely to be 75 people.

It wasn't. It was 600. And save for the picture-takers wandering down in twos and threes, it was full.

It was at this point I realized, there ain't no such thing as a free lunch. Or even a chicken you gave away.

I suppose I did OK. It did not help that one of my Celtic heroes, Wolves GM Kevin McHale, was in the audience in the front row, or that the room was darkened and a bright spotlight was on the podium. But in and out, maybe three minutes tops (they wanted ten, and I think my facial expression in response convinced them that was not a good idea.) Apparently I did well enough that they had me give a minute as a close to get Prager out of the hall without being stopped by 50 fans.

Me, I got five on the way out.

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Monday, February 25, 2008

Congratulations to the Captain: I'm still the Fifth Beatle 

You would never know it, but two blogs of the Northern Alliance joined at the same time; the last to join was Captain's Quarters in December 2003. But one less will remain after next month.
Beginning on March 1, I will begin working for Michelle Malkin, a friend, mentor, and writer I have long admired. She has offered me a position as writer at Hot Air, and my blogging will appear exclusively there.

That means that I will close out Captain�s Quarters sometime in March. This saddens me, as it has become my ever-ready home and because of the terrific community it has generated. I hope that the CapQ community comes with me to Hot Air, and Hot Air will have open registration today for 12 hours in order to allow CapQ commenters to join me at my new digs.

Nobody who meets Ed ever dislikes the guy; nobody who reads his blog can doubt he's one of the hardest workers in blogging. The friendship between Malkin and Ed goes back a good ways and the move will make Hot Air one of the leading sites for political commentary on the internet for a long time. I know we've had some top blogs retired because of writer fatigue in the past, but has any been subject to a buyout before? (I assume his new compensation plan from Malkin includes a lifetime supply of Notre Dame football jerseys.)

Worth noting: In his 12/03 post accepting NA entrance (NARN was still four months away) Ed said:
I don't listen to a lot of talk radio because I find that a great deal of it is shrill and annoying, and even when people don't make a habit of screaming into a microphone, they still tend to get childish and demeaning.
And Al Franken wasn't even on the air yet! Ed's keeping his archives up indefinitely.

I had to go back and look at the formation of the Alliance while thinking a few minutes about this. Originally considered to be Lileks, PowerLine and Fraters Libertas (now known as Act One, or the Opening Act, or Top Billing, or whatever in our radio lives), we added Mitch and myself in May 2003 before Ed. One guy now runs the blog of a newspaper, another group is giving away $25k for a book prize, and Ed is off to Hot Air.

I guess my life as Pete Best continues. Mitch, Chad and Brian? Your comments invited.

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Friday, February 15, 2008

Tomorrow on the Final Word... 

We will have two interesting, different guests with one message: Stop spending. At 3:15 House GOP leader Marty Seifert will be on to discuss the first week of the legislative session. Think he knows something about taxpayer protection pens? I'll ask him whether the House GOP would be willing to take a hike from any House business until the I-35W bridge money is released by TCAG.

At 4:15 we will be joined by Erick Kaardal, lawyer for , whose group Citizens for the Rule of Law (and also Neopopulism) are suing the legislature and various over the abuse of per diems. I'm shocked, shocked! to hear that we would have groups wishing to deny per diems to our state legislators. I mean, how are they supposed to live on less than $96 a day? Readers will recall that we provided several dining tips for state senators struggling to make ends meet. (Just take the March 2007 archive and search for "per diem".) I would like to find out from Kaardal how we could simply limit the number of days legislators get to take per diem, as done in New Hampshire. It might keep a certain farmer home more. Sarah Janacek suggested last fall that the per diem issue never seems to work for challenging incumbents in elections ... but a lawsuit might get their attention.

Don't forget that there are eight total hours of local programming Saturdays on AM 1280 the Patriot. The David Strom Show 9-11, then NARN's Opening Act of John Hinderaker, Chad the Elder and Brian Ward 11-1, and Mitch Berg and Captain Ed as the Headliners from 1-3.

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Friday, February 08, 2008

Tomorrow on the Final Word... 

...Michael and I agreed to take up a conversation about John McCain's candidacy. Did his CPAC speech give you enough to overcome any qualms you had, or are you still wondering "quo vadis?" Why did Michael vote uncommitted (and did I ever commit?) Ben Golnik, Minnesota coordinator for the McCain campaign will return to field your questions.

Catch us 3-5pm tomorrow on AM 1280 the Patriot. Indeed, join the Patriot all day starting at 9am for the David Strom Show, then 11-1am will have me sitting in with Chad the Elder, followed by the Headliners Mitch and Ed at 1-3pm -- I want to hear Mitch give this idea the beating it deserves.

UPDATE: Derek from Freedom Dogs and True North has given us a meter to use to gauge your McCain support. I would have gone for McCainuum, but McCaintinuum it is:
Call us tomorrow, and tell us where you are on the scale.

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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Media alert 

Sticky for the day: I will be hosting an election returns show on AM 1280 the Patriot tonight beginning at 8pm. At some point Michael will arrive; we anticipate many local political figures calling in with their observations. Ed Morrissey is anticipated to stop by after his caucus (which I believe is his first experience ever with the MN system). THere's streaming audio available from the Patriot site if you are not in our broadcast range (which in the evening is quite possible.) We will have updates from other states as well on a night that could be decisive for John McCain but likely to be just another step in the danse macabre that has become the Democratic primary.

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Friday, February 01, 2008

Tomorrow on the Final Word... 

... it's your final chance to hear from the NARN on the caucuses. We'll have Minnesota representatives from all four remaining GOP candidates and we want your questions and comments on who you are supporting and why. The last MPR/Humphrey poll has McCain well in front with Huckabee in second place (41-22, with Romney back another five.) Hillary Clinton is up seven on Barack Obama in that poll.

Is it possible to change minds still? Four spokespeople will try, and so will the callers. Join us please at 651-289-4488. Listen on the stream if you wish; the podcast will be available later.

Also, we plan a Tuesday night broadcast beginning at 8pm on the Patriot, with updates from party headquarters, call-ins from caucuses, national results, and expert analysis from as many people as will take a phone call from us. More details to appear on Monday, but we hope you go to the caucuses, then flip on AM 1280 the Patriot on your way home.

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Friday, January 25, 2008

Tomorrow on the Final Word... 

... we have Peter Fritz, the Carleton student involved in a fracas with Al Franken who Janet discussed here, and Ron Carey of MnGOP on the Minnesota caucus process. And a few wolf tickets will be sold to Mrs. MDE after her Packers failed to deliver Favre to Glendale. Go Big Blue.

Listen in on AM1280 the Patriot live, or pick up the podcast later next week (we seem to be back to a good pattern with coverage there.)

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Friday, January 18, 2008

Radio Saturday: Not for the faint of heart 

While reading around on the Times, I ran across this comment on an editorial encouraging us to celebrate Martin Luther King.

Our view: Celebrate King, his principles in St. Cloud

King Baanian?

It is about time an economist was crowned for messing with our consumer confidence!

If you can take the pressure, I'll be messing with David Strom's confidence when I appear on the his show on AM 1280 the Patriot at 9am, to talk about recession, stimulus, Huckapessimism, etc. Should be a good hour.

The Final Word will appear as always 3-5pm on that same station. We are hoping to talk to people about the bonding bill, the NTSB report on the I-35W bridge collapse, and we'll talk after 4pm with David Bossie, recently author of President Hillary and producer of Hillary the Movie and, previously Border Wars. (A 2006 WaPo bio is here.) We'll have an eye on the upcoming Tsunami Tuesday caucuses, and if I know my co-host, he just might mention Al Franken or Mark Ritchie. Just a hunch, that.

Did you forget to read this until Monday? Get a podcast.

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Friday, January 11, 2008

Tomorrow on the Final Word... 

We will look forward to visiting with Andy Cilek of the Minnesota Voters Alliance, which has filed suit against Minneapolis plans to institute instant runoff voting. Andy has been our guest before, and just below I will talk a little about IRV. We will also speak with Brian Davis, a candidate for U.S. Congress in the First Congressional District, looking for the opportunity to run against Rep. Tim Walz. Michael and I will visit with him in the last half hour.

As always, the Final Word is heard 3-5pm on AM1280 the Patriot (click that link and then the Listen Now in the upper lefthand corner) or later via podcast when the podcasts gods choose to post our shows. Like monetary policy, shows are posted with long and variable lags.

Back to IRV. Let me help people think about it by a couple of simple thoughts. Why would IRV be bad? After all, we had three viable candidates in the 1998 gubernatorial race won by Jesse Ventura over Norm Coleman and Skip Humphrey. Humphrey came in third. Suppose we had IRV in the state. How would Humphrey's vote been distributed? Would Coleman have gained enough of those votes to overcome Ventura's three percent plurality. At least in one study, the answer is no. So plurality voting -- the system we use most everywhere in the US -- gave us the same result. (My apologies if you can't read that study -- it's good to work at a university.)

We would say that Ventura was a Condorcet winner -- he would have won in a pairwise vote against either Coleman or Humphrey. And perhaps one reason why Ventura would have won is that he turned out people that would not have voted otherwise; 7% more voters participated in 1998 than 1994, and the study cited above indicates that the Ventura presence could account for just about that size effect. An exit poll taken that day indicates that of those who did vote, Ventura voters preferred Coleman over Humphrey, 56-44.

So IRV would not have made a difference there. Where would it? It could if you ended up with cycling, where in a pairwise contest between each of the three candidates you wouldn't find one that beats the other two in heads-up. And it would be perilous if we found instead that Coleman would beat Ventura and Humphrey would beat Ventura in pairwise voting, but Ventura wins in a three-way, plurality-voting contest. That would seem to be something we would want to avoid and could be a case for IRV. And yet, as we joke a bit about voting for bacon, there is a very serious question whether we might end up with a Condorcet loser in the primaries with some states using winner-take-all allocation of delegates. On the Democratic ticket, let's suppose Sen. Clinton is the plurality leader. She would be a Condorcet loser if she would lose a two-person race against either Sens. Obama or Edwards. (I make no claim that this is so.) I'll let others think about how that applies on the GOP side, but I think it fair to say IRV would make the GOP primary different.

I find it interesting that the claim made by MVA is that IRV is too complex. Indeed, the best case one can make for plurality voting is its simplicity. (Try reading the rules for the DFL's walking caucus sometime. They aren't easy.) There are other good reasons to oppose IRV, though they are a bit harder to explain, having to do with lack of single-peaked preferences and the number of parties in play. I've not worked on electoral theory for awhile so I am not going to try to say I understand every bit of this; I don't. Suffice to say, for example, that it can be shown that you can get different electoral outcomes by changing IRV rules only slightly to drop the candidate with the most last-place votes rather than the fewest first-place votes. This is known as the Coombs rule. You could argue Coombs is a better rule, but it would be no less confusing.

A last thought, and a question I'll ask Andy tomorrow: Suppose we could show empirically that IRV increased voter turnout, since one could vote his preference first and then between the two major party candidates later. Would increased turnout be a good thing, and wouldn't you want to support IRV then if so? I know they argue that it hasn't, but would finding enough counter-examples to theirs be persuasive?

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