Archive for October 2006

I Am Done with the Cardinals Until...

I am done with the Cardinals until they get an offensive line. I have written many times about the sad, failing strategy of drafting high-profile position players (particularly wide receivers) but paying no attention to the offensive line.  The Cardinals have one of the best receiving corps in the nation, have what looks to be a great young quarterback, has a top-notch running back, but did NOTHING over the winter to shore up what last year was a crappy O-line.  This is despite being $10 million under the cap!

And you saw it last night.  Commentators have criticized the coaches for getting too conservative in the second half of last night's debacle, and certainly that is true.  But a good team with a back like Edgerin James should be able to close out a game in the fourth quarter by pounding the ball on the ground.  And the Cardinals could not, with James averaging less than 1 yard per carry after the opening drive in the first quarter.

I give up.  I am tired of getting suckered onto the bandwagon.  Until the Bidwells crack open the wallet and focus some cap money on the O-line, I am back to rooting for the Broncos.

Update:  Greg Easterbrook piles on:

When my two football-crazed boys got up early this morning I said,
"Guys, Arizona was ahead by 20 and had the ball on the last play of the
third quarter." Immediately both said, "And the Cardinals lost." Not
only did Arizona blow a late 20-point lead at home in front of a
national television audience; the Bears committed six turnovers and the Cards still managed to lose. Arizona held Chicago to nine first downs and was plus-four
in turnovers, yet managed to lose. In the closing seconds, Arizona had
last year's Pro Bowl kicker lined up for a 41-yarder to win, and
trigger what would surely have been wild civic celebration, and still
lost. What's a stronger expression than "pitiful"? We must now twist an
old line and proclaim: Whom the football gods would destroy, they first
make Arizona Cardinals.


Does the Left Really Believe this?

When I see statements like this, I am left to wonder whether folks on the left really believe this, or if it is just throwaway political rhetoric which no one really expects intelligent people to believe (key passage in bold):

But how are people dealing with these drops on their own today?
Mostly by going into debt. As I show in my book, median household debt
as a share of income for married parents was more than 125 percent of
income in 2004. The economist Herb Stein once said, "If something can't
go on, it won't." And the debt hemorrhage of the American family simply
can't go on.

If the returns of rising risk add up to the ability to borrow more
to dig oneself out of short-term holes (thus digging a deeper long-term
hole), then I think we can safely say that most Americans would be
happy to give up the returns to obtain greater security.

But here's the kicker: We can provide security and help our
economy. Just as businessmen and entrepreneurs are protected against
the most severe economic risks they face to encourage economic
investment and growth,
we are most capable of fully participating in
our economy, most capable of taking risks and looking toward our
future, when we have a basic foundation of financial security.

How are businessmen and entrepeneurs protected?  By who?  I own and run my own small business, and I have yet to encounter
anyone who has given me any help or succor in our bad years. Or good
years. I don't even get covered by the minimum safety net type stuff my
employees have (workers comp, unemployment) without paying extra out of
my own pocket, which they don't have to do.

This is exactly the kind of throwaway absurdly false statement that
makes it impossible for me as a small business owner to take anyone on
the left seriously
, however much I am attracted to them for their
position on a variety of social and war issues. I am sure that this is
the type of statement that most of his readers on the left nod their
heads to, sure that all of us business owners are all dialed into the
fat life somehow via the government, when in fact I spend most of my
life dealing with the myriad of government-required wastepaper that
makes it nearly impossible to run a business at all.

  I am certainly willing to believe that there are certain Fortune
100 companies that recieve all sorts of government rents -- Steel
companies, in the form of protectionism; Wal-mart, in tax abatements
and eminent domain handouts; ADM, in the form of ethanol subsidies;
tobacco companies, in the form of government roadblocks to new

However, these type of large politically connected corporations make
up about .001% of the total mass of corporations. And, entrepeneurs,
unless they are already rich and powerful from a previous business,
never get any breaks and in fact often face government roadblocks set
in place by powerful incumbents with political pull. I am all for
eliminating these coporate welfare handouts and incumbent protection
schemes. Before you scream aha! remember that 3 of the 4 government
rent recipients I listed as examples are beneficiaries of programs from
the left side of the aisle.

I discussed this risk-shift concept in more depth here.  One thing I didn't mention in the previous article was the author's attempt to tie household debt to income risk.  I skimmed the book and didn't see any
empirical linkage between rising income uncertainty and household debt.
I am willing to believe they both went up at the same time, but
correlation is not equal to causation. Ten years ago, when folks
lamented rising household debt, it was an issue of personal
responsibility and having the discipline to live within one's means.
Are we past that now? Is debt really going to be added to the list of
things nowadays that are-not-my-fault?

Update:  If he is referring to stuff like this, I share his outrage.  But it doesn't justify his general statement.

You Can't Win

I have been off in the back country of Wyoming, but happened to see this headline from the Casper, Wyoming paper the other day when I was passing through civilization:

Gas price drop raises concern

Why am I thinking that when gas prices rose sharply last year, they didn't run a front page headline that said "Gas price rise a huge boon."

Arizona 9/11 Memorial

I haven't really commented much on the local brouhaha over the Arizona 9/11 Memorial.  In short, critics argue the memorial does little to honor the actual victims, and spends too much time with irrelevant trivia and "America asked for it" messages.  The whole kerfuffle just reinforces my point that it takes time to gain a historical perspective on anything, and rushing to change building names or build monuments or put people on currency can often lead to decisions that are embarrassing given a bit more time for historical perspective to develop.

That being said, I thought this was a pretty good investigative report on the influences behind the memorial design (you may or may not be non-plussed by the alt-weekly writing style).  Of course, since it is impossible to get any real reporting out of our main paper, the story comes from our alternative free weekly, which runs rings around the Republic in terms of investigative reporting.

New New Deal Programs?

Hit and Run, trying to make a different point, quoted this statement from Harold Meyerson (my emphasis added):

But the new growth of selective libertarianism in the Democratic ranks
is hardly going to be the main source of controversy in coming party
debates. More likely, that debate will pit those who think retraining
is the answer to our more layoff-prone society (that's the Bob Rubin
solution) against those who think that retraining needs to be
supplemented by, for instance, publicly funded alternative energy
programs that would generate millions of jobs
(that's the solution of a
number of union leaders, and one that I favor as well). The latter
position is clearly more in the New Deal liberal mode, but Rubin's is
hardly libertarian.

Do serious people actually favor publicly funded alternative energy programs of the scale that would employ millions of people?  Note that since the total civilian labor force is approximately 150 million people, he is talking about a program encompassing several percent of the US workforce.  I am supposed to be on vacation this week, but here are a couple of random thoughts:

  • A huge government make-work program seems to be an odd response to an increase in employment volatility, which is how the problem is framed, even by Meyerson.  He calls it our "layoff-prone society."  I don't accept that this is necessarily a bad thing, but even if it is, a jobs program does not solve it.  Our unemployment today is at a low level (less than 5%) so that the problem, if it exists at all, has to be volatility, not the absolute size of employment.  So a jobs program helps, how?
  • I will confess a big government-funded jobs program would reduce employment risk in one way:  once someone is hired by the government, whether it be a teacher or bureaucrat,  it is impossible short of a felony conviction to fire them, no matter how horribly destructively incompetent they are.  So anyone hired by this new job program would have a job for life, I guess, though at an enormous dead-weight-loss of the overall economy.
  • The current economy hovers near full employment.  That means that millions of people sucked by the government into an alternative energy program would be pulled out of areas the market currently says is the most productive place for them.  Unless the government has identified a massive market inefficiency, such a program will net reduce the productivity and output of the economy.  Remember -- these millions of people are likely employed somewhere else today, so those places they are employed either have to scale back or pay more for labor.
  • Does anyone really think the government is going to make the right technology and investment choices in such a program?  It will take about 47 seconds before the investment process is politicized and spending is handed out as pork to valued supporters in key Congressional districts. (just look at ethanol and the Midwest Archer Daniels Midland lobby). Remember, the government has been pouring all its investment and subsidies and regulations (e.g. zero emissions requirements) into plug-in electric cars, which still are not there technologically.  In the mean time, the market has latched onto hybrids, a technology actually opposed at first by government energy czars in places like California (because they were not zero emissions).  Hybrids have done more to reduce automotive fuel consumption than any of the technologies, from plug-ins to fuel cells, that the US government has supported in any big way.

Postscript:  Yes, I know plug-in hybrids may be here soon, but batteries are apparently still not where they should be.  I would love to have a plug-in hybrid.  Note, of course, a plug-in hybrid is very very different from a straight electric car, which was the choice of the bureaucrats.  Also, I know that some areas have started to subsidize hybrids, for example by allowing their use by one passenger in the car-pool lane.  These are late-to-the-party efforts to claim some government credit for a private market trend already in progress.

Update:  In fact, today's SJ($) brings us a relevent example:

[Former Airbus CEO] Mr. Streiff talked of moving production jobs between
partner countries, running Airbus like a business. For the first time,
there was talk of apportioning work on the basis of competitiveness,
not national entitlement. There were hints that Airbus should emulate
Boeing with major risk-sharing partnerships, looking beyond Europe for
new product development resources and production sites. He even
committed the ultimate sin"”publicly admitting that Airbus had fallen
over a decade behind Boeing in new product development.

In his exit statement, Mr. Streiff said, "I
progressively came to the conviction that the mode of corporate
governance at Airbus didn't allow for the success of my plan." In other
words, the now former CEO implies, he was blocked by people who like
the status quo. So who would be happy with the status quo when the
situation is degenerating with each day? Well, any government official
who wants governments to stay in charge of the economy. The last thing
they want to see is private sector cash reinventing the fruit of their
state-directed industrial policy.

For the best clue to this dysfunction, consider
France's finance minister, Thierry Breton. He recently told reporters
that Airbus is a "European success," but vowed to "defend this model."
Now why would a model need defending if it were successful?

Airbus was created when European governments
orchestrated their economies, creating new national and continental
champions according to politicians' whims. As far as industrial policy
goes, Airbus was a no-brainer: The jetliner industry offers guaranteed
growth rates and extremely high barriers to entry. Take some legacy
industrial assets, insert government cash, find some talented sales
people, and watch it go. Every other European industrial
scheme"”shipbuilding, cars, Concorde"”obliterated value. Airbus was the
only state-supported success. Unfortunately, Europe's politicians
forgot a crucial fact: Airbus succeeded despite government industrial
policy, not because of it. In fact, this government interference has
created some serious trouble.

Look at the Airbus record: a series of moderate
successes (A300/310, 330), one huge home run (A319/320/321), and some
lamentable but forgivable near misses (A340, A340-500/600). But with
the full support and connivance of parent governments, they launched a
spine-breaking disaster, the superjumbo. Without the A380, Airbus would
still be a tremendous success. Instead, they've got a serious
industrial crisis, right in the middle of the best jetliner market in
years. Mr. Breton's "model" of state-guided industries is alchemy in
reverse: spinning gold into straw.

Does Anyone Actually Work for their Paycheck in France?

Hit and Run pointed out this story about a left-wing French newspaper that is looking to the Rothschilds for financial help.  I thought this would be a more interesting story of hippie meets banker, but I did find this one bit fascinating (shown in bold):

Mr. Rothschild, a scion of the powerful banking family,
forced out the long-serving editor of the paper in the summer. Serge
July, the editor who had created Libération along with
philosopher-writer Jean-Paul Sartre, said he resigned in hopes that his
departure would help save the paper from more radical changes.

Mr. July's exit was covered in the French media as the end of an era, a French version of the Japanese
seppuku, or ritual suicide, by a man who represented a more uncorrupted, hopeful France.

Since Mr. July left, some of Libération's best-known
reporters have quit, including Florence Aubenas, who was held hostage
in Iraq for six months in 2005. They have invoked the "conscience
clause" in French law that requires media owners to continue paying the
salary of journalists whose honor is offended by the owners' policies
or politics.

How screwed up does a legislature have to be to pass something this ridiculous?

Kos is not Tempting

Leading "progressive" blogger Markos Moulitsas is trying to tempt libertarians to the progressive cause.  He tries to convince libertarians that growing corporate power should scare them more than government power.  Uh, no.  Hammer of Truth has a good rejoinder:

Moulitsas still cites corporate power over people as a problem, and
still fails to recognize that corporations gain their undue power from
government. Government is the enabler, empowering corporations to step
on individuals and small businesses through both regulations and
subsidies. It's only by restraining government that corporations can be
held in check, and it's unfortuate that Moulitsas hasn't figured this
out yet.

Nearly every government law, from anti-trust to trade law to licensing, generally is written to benefit incumbents who make campaign contributions against upstart competition.  Also, by the way, corporations can't send people with guns to your house if you don't cooperate with their will. 

I have in the past been at the executive level of several Fortune 50 companies, and this notion of corporate power is hilarious.  In each case, our situation seemed like that of a wounded, lumbering elephant, trying to stay just ahead of a back of small but swift predators.  Sure, our very size meant that sometimes we did damage from our thrashing around, but to somehow call this power is absurd.  We were constantly fighting against our own size to try to hold on to what market we had.

Finally, with corporations, including the current great Satan Wal-Mart, I can always choose not to shop or work there.  The IRS and the US Congress offer me no similar protection from their control.

More good stuff along the same lines from Catallarchy

In this older post, I went into more depth on why progressives never will like capitalism, because they are too conservative (little-c).  At the end of the day, progressives like Kos want to reduce risk, variability, unpredictability and general "messiness".  These goals carry too high a price in terms of lost freedom and lost upside for humanity.

The "Compassionate" Politician

Ted Roberts gets at a pet peeve of mine when he says:

Everything that's wrong with government can be summarized by a single
sign that stands eloquently at the entrance to my neighborhood park. A
plot of green with tennis courts and soccer fields for athletes and
playground paraphernalia for junior swingers. I mean the kind that
really like to swing. Cursed with a civic attitude that makes me wary
of gifts from politicians, I note A boastful sign. "This playground
made possible by the city of Huntsville and the Madison County
Commission," it says. Not a blatant lie - just a fuzzy deception. About
as far from the truth as the mayor's office downtown is from this
suburban playground.

I think it's the tone of our "governors" (using the word in a literal
sense) that bothers me. Their proclamations of achievement. They are
ignoring the contribution of me and my fellow taxpayers to this oasis.
They forget that we are a society of the taxpayers, by the taxpayers
and for the taxpayers.

I would go further.  I hate it when politicians are called "caring" or "compassionate" when the sole evidence for this is the fact that they take my money and give it to someone else or build something with it that they can put their name on.

Update: Fixed link

Don't Be Afraid to Let Your Enemy Speak

In this post, when I said that I thought the university had a duty to
intervene with protests only when the protests had the effect of
silencing or preventing invited speakers from speaking, this is the
type of thing I was talking about

Students stormed the stage
at Columbia University's Roone auditorium yesterday, knocking over
chairs and tables and attacking Jim Gilchrist, the founder of the
Minutemen, a group that patrols the border between America and Mexico. 

Mr. Gilchrist and Marvin Stewart, another member of his group, were
in the process of giving a speech at the invitation of the Columbia
College Republicans. They were escorted off the stage unharmed and
exited the auditorium by a back door. 

Having wreaked havoc onstage, the students unrolled a banner that
read, in both Arabic and English, "No one is ever illegal." As security
guards closed the curtains and began escorting people from the
auditorium, the students jumped from the stage, pumping their fists,
chanting victoriously, "Si se pudo, si se pudo," Spanish for "Yes we could!"

I don' t think such thuggery is protected by the first ammendment, and
certainly a private institution should be able to make sure their
invited speakers actually get to speak.  Columbia really needs to rethink its free speech policies, if it allows this behavior to occur but shuts down the hockey team for this.

By the way, I am a strong detractor of the Minutemen, their goals, and
the activities.  It's good for the soul - everyone should take the time
to defend the free speech of someone they disagree with.  Mr. Gilchrist should have been allowed to speak.  This is unfortunately yet
another example of where I am horrified by the actions of people who
agree with me.  I mean, from a PR standpoint alone, the Minutemen could not have scripted a protest that would have done more than this one to enrage and energize its supporters.  STUPID!  For my fellow travellers in the pro-immigration
movement, I would suggest you read this:  Why its good to let your enemies speak.

Update:  I was correct -- immigration foes are using this stupidity as a rallying cry.  While I often disagree quite strongly with LGF on this issue, they have a good quote from the perpetrators of this protest that highlights exactly the "free speech for me but not for thee" logic that I hate.  First they say, as all free speech opponents say:

We celebrate free speech.

Uh, OK.  Then they continue:

for that reason we allowed the Minutemen to

Mr. Gilchrist was an invited guest of a private institution.  Your permission is not required or relevant.  The implication is that you somehow have a veto over everyone's speech, and they speak at your sufferance.  And finally this:

Minutemen are not a legitimate voice in the debate on immigration.

This is the key, absolutely dangerous assumption that all-too-many people hold in this country.  That somehow speech can be parsed into "legitimate" and "illegitimate", with the clear implication that illegitimate speech has no first amendment protection.  But who decides what is legitimate?  Of course, implicit to anyone who says this, is the assumption that "why, me and my guys would decide."  It is for this reason I have opposed "hate speech" laws in the past.


Sorry About the Feed Spamming

I apologize to my feed subscribers - some of you got spammed with two or three copies of some of the same old posts.  Oops.  I had to fix up my XML to get it to work right with FeedBurner and every time I republished I think I was sending out new feeds of the same posts.

Anyway, I think we are done, though there still seems to be some oddball stuff happening with the old RDF feed.  If you are having problems, you may change your feed source to Coyote Blog to this:

You don't have to switch -- the old feed sources will still work if they are operating OK for you.  Also, I hopefully got the auto-detect code right on the page, so that just putting in in most modern feed readers will cause the reader to auto-detect the correct feed.  Again, though, don't hesitate to comment or email with issues.

I am only $79.99 Million Short

I'm not really into the culture, so prevalent here in Scottsdale, of purchasing expensive cars and boats for use as ego-prosthetics (I drive a Volvo, for god sakes, a chick-anti-magnet if there ever was one).  But I have to admit this is cool, a new supersonic business jet.  The real breakthrough seems to be their ability to substantially reduce the sonic boom, which got the Concorde banned from over-land flights, to a legal and manageable level.  They claim sound levels 99% lower than the Concorde at ground level, though this is theoretical and has not been tested.

They don't mention fuel economy -- the Concorde drank fuel. 

Oh, and the price - expected to be $80 million for a twelve seat aircraft.  For those of you who don't routinely shop for private aircraft, this price is steep even in that rarefied market.  You can get a Boeing 737 outfitted very nicely as a private plane for half that.  But this new plane will get you to your house in Gstaad twice as fast.

Trying Feedburner

Tonight, I decided to switch to Feedburner to manage the feeds from my site.  I did this for two reasons:  1) I would like better traffic information on the readership for my feeds and 2) I like some of the configuration options they have.

Both Feedburner and Typepad swear that they have everything set up so that all my existing feed subscribers will now get the feeds via Feedburner without changing their subscriptions (some sort of redirect, I guess).  We'll see.  Please comment if you are having problems.

If you are getting some duplication of posts or some read posts showing up as unread, I am pretty sure that this is a one-time effect of the changeover.  However, if the problem persists, let me know.

My University in the News

"Shouldn't Princeton students have the same rights as their counterparts down the road at Mercer County Community College?"

Princeton is a private institution, and has a greater ability than state institutions to set its own codes of conduct for its students.  That being said, as one who wants Princeton to remain a strong institution, I don't understand what the university's interest is in limiting free speech.  Particularly booing at a play.  The only exception I might make to this are efforts to make sure that invited speakers or scheduled performances can actually be heard and aren't drowned out by protesters, but I don't get the sense that this is what is going on here.

This "unwanted verbal conduct" standard that a number of universities have adopted is absurd, and is only harming students by releasing them into the real world believing that the government will protect them from encountering any criticism.  In this sense, Princeton and other universities are creating students in the modern Islamic mold, teaching them they should somehow be immune to criticism and that they should react with rabid outrage at the first person who says anything negative about them.  The only difference is that these students are being taught to respond with lawyers rather than explosive backpacks, but the outcome in terms of stifled free speech is the same.

Advice for the "Reality-Based" Community

Recently, the so-called "reality-based community" on the left has developed the theory that US oil companies have purposefully dropped gasoline prices from over $3.00 to $2.00 a gallon solely to help Republican re-election prospects in November.  This notion is so insane as to be, well, insane, and I am not even going to bother fisking it any more than I would bother refuting a flat-earth hypothesis.  OK, I can't resist, here are two quick arguments, by no means comprehensive.

  • US oil companies control a minority of world oil supplies, and those folks who do dominate the market (Hugo Chavez, Iran, the Saudis, the Russians) are highly unlikely to be cutting Bush much slack.
  • The implication is that either the old, high price or the current low price is somehow an unnatural contrivance.  If the higher price was a contrivance, ie above the normal market clearing price due to some collusion, then we would have been swimming in oil as supplies outstripped demand, and inventories would be overflowing.  If the current lower prices are a contrivance, then demand should outstrip supply and we should have lines at every gas station.  Of course, neither situation has been observed.

So here is this week's message for the Left:  Economics is a science.  Willful ignorance or emotional rejection of the well-known precepts of this science is at least as bad as a fundamentalist Christian's willful ignorance of evolution science (for which the Left so often criticizes their opposition).  In fact, economic ignorance is much worse, since most people can come to perfectly valid conclusions about most public policy issues with a flawed knowledge of the origin of the species but no one can with a flawed understanding of economics.

Postscript: In fact, the more I think about it, the more economics and evolution are very similar.  Both are sciences that are trying to describe the operation of very complex, bottom-up, self-organizing systems.  And, in both cases, there exist many people who refuse to believe such complex and beautiful systems can really operate without top-down control.

For example, certain people refuse to accept that homo sapiens could have been created through unguided evolutionary systems, and insist that some controlling authority must guide the process;  we call these folks advocates of Intelligent Design.  Similarly, there are folks who refuse to believe that unguided bottom-up processes can create something so complex as our industrial economy or even a clearing price for gasoline, and insist that a top-down authority is needed to run the process;  we call these folks socialists.

It is interesting, then, given their similarity, that socialists and intelligent design advocates tend to be on opposite sides of the political spectrum.  Their rejection of bottom-up order in favor of top-down control is nearly identical.

Update:  From Cafe Hayek, letter to the Washington Post

Dear Editor:

that today's falling gasoline prices result from a fiendish plot to
keep the GOP in power, Kenneth Jones is certain that "gasoline prices
will go right back up to $2.75-plus after the [November] election"
(Letters, October 2).

If Mr. Jones is correct, he can make a
financial killing.  All he need do is to invest all of his assets going
long in gasoline futures (which are today about 30 percent lower than
they were in late July).  Indeed, he ought even to cash out all the
equity in his house, max out on his credit cards, and borrow heavily
from his brother-in-law so that he can invest as much as possible in
these futures.

He can then contribute his post-election financial bounty to the Democratic National Committee.

Donald J. Boudreaux


Some Advice for the Local Libertarian Party

For lack of a better term, I call myself a libertarian with a small-l.  I do not, despite this term, feel much allegiance to the formal Libertarian Party.  I tend to like their platforms more than those of the major parties, but many of their candidates seem unserious to me.

Today I got my first press release from the local LP candidate for Governor.  And what is it about?  The LP candidate jumps into the fray on the Arizona 9/11 Memorial:

Libertarian nominee for Governor, Barry Hess weighs in on the only
thing Democrat Janet Napolitano and Republican Len Munsil can find to
disagree about - the great Arizona 9-11 memorial debate.

When asked for his input, Mr. Hess replied, "It doesn't surprise me
that this is all they can come up with to distinguish themselves as a
reason to vote for them.  The problem is that neither one of them ever
seems to posses the ability to go to the root of the issue.  The very
first thing they should have determined is, what is it?  Is it a
tribute to the innocent lives lost on 9-11, or is it a memorial of the
If it is a tribute to the innocent
dead, then the politically-charged slogans are clearly misplaced and
should be removed.  If it is a monument memorializing a tragic event
that is surrounded by a multitude of dubious official explanations of
what actually happened when innocent lives were caught up in something
bigger than them and lost in a politically-induced inevitability, then
the outrage expressed in the slogans is well, and rightfully placed.
Why didn't the Republican or the Democrat first establish what it is
supposed to be?  Because they are both just using it as a soapbox, and
it's shameful they would each use it in an attempt to garner votes.
The public really should reflect on the fact that if these are the best
candidates the Republican & Democrat parties could come up with,
maybe neither is their best option for Governor."

When I read the first line, I thought Mr. Hess was going to rightly criticize the major party candidates for focusing on trivia.  But no, he jumps right in himself.  I'm not a big fan of how the memorial turned out, but while the memorial was officially sanctioned by the governor, it was at least all privately funded.  We seem to have many other issues in a state where the government is building the new Berlin Wall that I would think a good libertarian would be more concerned about.

Here would have been my response:

"While the major party candidates focus all their attention on the content of a single
piece of privately-funded sculpture in downtown Phoenix, Warren Meyer criticized both
candidates for their support of a government-funded half-billion dollar monument to
mediocre football
and corporate welfare out in Glendale."

Postscript:  By the way, this government-funded facility is used for its core purpose just 11 days out of the year  (Fiesta Bowl, 2 pre-season games, 8 regular season games) which gives it an occupancy  of 3%.  Supporters will argue that it is used for other events (e.g. a home and garden show) but these events could be held at existing facilities costing 1/10 the amount of Glendale Stadium.  To somehow take credit for these other events is disingenuous, because their move to Glendale likely cannibalizes the revenue of some other government facility, like the convention center.  Most of the cost of the stadium -- visitor amenities, locker rooms, sliding roof, sliding grass floor, seats, etc -- are for football only.  More about why I hate the public funding of stadiums here.

We've Got the First Ammendment on the Run

Great editorial from George Will:

Seattle"”as the comprehensive and sustained attack on Americans' freedom
of political speech intensifies, this city has become a battleground.
Campaign-finance "reformers," who advocate ever-increasing government
regulation of the quantity, timing and content of political speech,
always argue that they want to regulate "only" money, which, they say,
leaves speech unaffected. But here they argue that political speech is
money, and hence must be regulated. By demanding that the speech of two
talk-radio hosts be monetized and strictly limited, reformers reveal
the next stage in their stealthy repeal of the First Amendment.

I was living in Seattle at the time.  These were not political operatives, like a James Carville, moonlighting as talk radio hosts.  They were just radio guys who found an issue, no more or less than say Oprah when she focuses her audience on Alar or BGH or whatever.  Read the whole thing, but note that, in the name of campaign finance reform which is ostensibly about not letting money rule politics, the government is going after the side that was outspent five to one.  But this is not about campaign finance reform.  This is about protecting the government and its officials from criticism.

This is the America produced by "reformers" led by John McCain. The
U.S. Supreme Court, in affirming the constitutionality of the
McCain-Feingold speech restrictions, advocated deference toward elected
officials when they write laws regulating speech about elected
officials and their deeds. This turned the First Amendment from the
foundation of robust politics into a constitutional trifle to be
"balanced" against competing considerations"”combating the "appearance
of corruption," or elevating political discourse or something. As a
result, attempts to use campaign regulations to silence opponents are
becoming a routine part of vicious political combat.