Amazon's Story

September 28, 2023 at 2:14 pm

From the front of the business section of today's New York Times comes this summary of Amazon's rise:

Jeff Bezos made his fortune with one truly big idea: What if a retailer did everything possible to make customers happy?

His forcefully nurtured creation, Amazon, sold as many items as possible as cheaply as possible and delivered them as quickly as possible. The result is that $40 out of every $100 spent online in the United States goes to Amazon and Mr. Bezos is worth $150 billion.

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Trump Versus the Job Candidates, and the "Bloodsucking" Globalists

September 28, 2023 at 10:58 am

Anyone who doesn't understand why Donald Trump is so far ahead in polls of Republican primary voters, or why he is running ahead of, or neck and neck with, Joe Biden in national polls, might consider taking the time to watch Trump's appearance last night in Clinton Township, Michigan.

I watched it this morning after staying up last night to watch the Republican presidential debate, which Trump skipped. The contrast is noteworthy. Trump is more confident, takes himself less seriously, has a better sense of humor, has a better command of the issues, and relates more warmly to a television audience than any of the other Republican candidates. Just in terms of sheer entertainment value, Trump is more fun to watch. He's a better politician.

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Biden on the Wrong Picket Line

September 27, 2023 at 12:56 pm

President Biden fetched up in Belleville, Michigan this week to walk a picket line with the president of the United Auto Workers, Shawn Fain.

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The Monetary Angle on Menendez

September 24, 2023 at 4:06 pm

My latest at the New York Sun: "The one-liners almost write themselves. At least the allegedly dishonest senator was smart enough to get the bribes in honest money. ....Maybe the Justice Department should leave the Mighty Menendez alone and indict the rest of the senators for theft in connection with the inflation that has eroded the value of the fiat currency with which the non-gold-bar-keeping public has been stuck." Please read the whole column over at the Sun: "Menendez Emerges in Court Filings as an Accused Crook Who Wanted To Be Paid in Honest Money."

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ProPublica Buries Its Clarence Thomas News

September 24, 2023 at 3:04 pm

"ProPublica Buries Its Clarence Thomas News" is the headline over my latest article in the Wall Street Journal. Please check it out over at the Journal.

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Lawrence Wright on the Press and Religion

September 24, 2023 at 3:01 pm

A staff writer at the New Yorker, Lawrence Wright, recently did that somewhat-stale-at-this point question-and-answer interview that runs in the New York Times Book Review. The version of it that appears online is markedly different from the print version, which includes this passage (not published online):

Which subjects do you wish more authors would write about?

...Journalists underestimate the power of religious belief. We spend so much time writing about politics, neglecting the fact that people can have very strong political views without it affecting their behavior at all, while strong religious views tend to dominate people's lives.

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An Opportunity for Chris Christie

September 22, 2023 at 11:18 am

As a legal matter, the indictment unsealed today by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York against Senator Menendez and his wife strikes me as the usual prosecutorial overreach. To make a federal case out of what the indictment calls "compensation for a low-or-no-show job," during a pandemic in which half the country was working remotely or hybrid, is a stretch. No actual underlying crimes are charged, just three counts of "conspiracy" — "conspiracy to commit bribery," "conspiracy to commit honest services fraud," and "conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right." Congress should repeal these conspiracy statutes, which make a thought crime of supposedly planning a crime even when no crime is committed. The actual crimes are much harder to prove, because they require prosecutors to show that the politician did something that they wouldn't have done absent the bribe. In this case, Menendez could easily argue that, as a senator, he would have had an honest public interest in helping New Jersey businesses and in advancing a strong U.S.-Egypt foreign policy relationship. What his wife did for work is irrelevant. Unless Congress wants to outlaw paid work by congressional spouses, siblings, parents and children, some spouses will have jobs and friendships. The senator might claim he didn't know everything his wife was up to. It's a recurring story, in which everyone from Donald Trump to New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell to, in the matter of "honest services fraud," my fellow New York Sun columnist Conrad Black has been unjustly swept up.

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Manchin Presidential Run Would Require Rejecting Bill Clinton's Advice

September 20, 2023 at 4:08 pm

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Sell Rosh Hashana, Buy Yom Kippur

September 15, 2023 at 9:39 am

There's an old Wall Street adage, "sell Rosh Hashana, buy Yom Kippur," said to originate in the idea that some money managers would go to cash before the Jewish New Year so as to clear their minds for the work of atonement and repentance that characterizes the High Holy Days of the Jewish religious calendar. Once the holidays concluded, they'd get back into the markets.

CNBC calls it a "classic seasonal trade." A Marketwatch columnist back-tested it and found "My analysis of the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA since 1900 yields a mixed answer. It's true that the stock market in the past has declined, on average, between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. But these two holidays typically occur during September -- the worst-performing month of the year. It's not clear that the Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur stretch is any worse than other days in September."

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Recent Work

September 15, 2023 at 9:28 am

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Carville on Biden Alternatives

September 15, 2023 at 9:21 am

The more opinion polls show Donald Trump leading Joe Biden in a head-to-head matchup, which is what they currently show, the more Democrats will be willing publicly to discuss alternative candidates.

James Carville, who helped to get Bill Clinton elected, names some names to Bill Kristol: Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear, Georgia Senator Raphael Warnock, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo (formerly governor of Rhode Island), California Governor Gavin Newsom, Vice President Harris (though Carville acknowledges, "she's got her problems").

"Don't worry, there's plenty of people to pick up the ball," Carville says.

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Abolish the Buildings Department

September 14, 2023 at 11:10 am

"Former Buildings Chief Accused of Trading Favors for $150,000 in Bribes" is the headline over a front-page news article in the New York Times reporting that "The department, though often bedeviled by scandal, is among the most important city agencies. It regulates the construction and real estate industries, issuing permits, licensing contractors and policing construction safety and the city's building code, and thus can have a significant impact on development."

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Harvard Board Chair Named to Reconstruct Ukraine

September 14, 2023 at 10:50 am

It looks like President Biden borrowed the "Higher Education Could Help Heal America" idea and is applying a version of it to Ukraine.

From a White House press release:


September 14, 2023

Statement from President Joe Biden Announcing the New U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine's Economic Recovery

Today, I am proud to announce that I am appointing Penny Pritzker to serve as the new U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine's Economic Recovery.

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Hawley Wants Cap on Credit Card Interest Rates

September 12, 2023 at 4:24 pm

Senator Josh Hawley, Republican of Missouri, is one of those Republicans who does not support free markets. The latest evidence is the "Capping Credit Card Interest Rates Act," which would cap the annual percentage rate for credit cards at 18 percent.

A press release from Hawley complains that "the biggest banks are just getting richer" and that "working people face higher financial burdens at the exact time the biggest banks are booking bumper profits."

You'd think politicians might prefer to see banks making profits than banks failing and going out of business, but Hawley apparently does not see it that way. Nor does he acknowledge that the higher interest rates are driven largely by the Federal Reserve, that is, government officials, not private profit seekers.

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Hunter Biden

September 12, 2023 at 4:01 pm

The New York Times op-ed page has a regular feature that consists of a conversation between Bret Stephens and Gail Collins. From today's installment: is pretty clear that Joe Biden helped Hunter get some business cred by reminding potential clients that Dad was vice president.

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