Danny Taggart's Blogarama

A more-or-less daily dose of news, politics, techmology, and any random thoughts that pass through my head.

Monday, April 25, 2005


On State and Jackson, by the Library:

At the CBOE courtyard:

At the Northern Trust building on Wells:

Strike at Congress Plaza Hotel

These guys have been striking since at least last August, when I moved here. If their jobs are so crappy, you'd think they'd start looking at other employment opportunities.

Islamic high technology

Will this lead to a new space race?

BBC sends hecklers to disrupt conservative rally

British politics makes sense to me now. British taxpayers, conservatives included, are forced to fund the BBC, which is a propaganda arm of the Labour Party, which disrupts conservative rallies. British conservatives are forced to fund the destruction of their own party. I guess we have NPR.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Nasdaq buys Instinet

Read about it at the LA Times.

Friday, April 22, 2005

NYSE and Archipelago merge

Read about it at TheStreet.com.

From MarketWatch: NYSE, Archipelago merger challenges Amex's ETF business

From SmartMoney: NYSE, Archipelago Merger Isn't Slam Dunk

From MarketWatch: Fidelity eyes NYSE, Archipelago deal (Fidelity wary of new big gorilla)

Romania's new currency

BusinessWeek reports on Romania's new currency (they cut four zeroes off the currency).

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

New York Times and Castro's propaganda machine

The leftist fringe newspaper The New York Times is sponsoring the 6th Havana Film Festival in New York, an officially sanctioned propaganda arm of Fidel Castro's oppressive communist regime. The New York Times editors are giving aid and comfort to a sworn enemy of the United States. The US Constitution has a word for such people: traitors. At least the New York Sun has the guts to call a spade a spade, unlike the more "balanced" PRNewswire.


Thursday, April 14, 2005

House acts to exempt bloggers from McCain-Feingold

From RedState. Both the House and Senate have introduced bills to exempt "communications over the Internet" from McCain-Feingold speech restrictions related to campaign finance. Why the exemption? Because the FEC decided the internet is subject to the restrictions because it wasn't specifically exempted by Congress in the original legislation. You heard that right: if Congress doesn't specifically permit something, it is illegal.

Now, this explicit exemption becomes necessary. The net effect of it will be to legitimize the original legislation. It's a great divide-and-conquer strategy by the enemies of free speech. Once this exemption goes through, I'll bet bloggers won't be nearly as motivated to fight campaign finance restrictions on other media (those dinosaurs which we all hate anyway).

It would be better for the republic to fight this issue on free speech grounds. That people believe such a fight is unwinnable and therefore necessitates a compromise exemption is very scary.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Nice day

It was such a nice day today, I decided to take a random walk around the city. Saw lots of cool stuff, including a Greek parade on Halsted. According to the parade announcer, Jesse White is "a friend of the Greek people." Ok. Here are some pics.
A bandA "Pan Arabian" float (??)
Some more floats
A Cyprus float
Militants with ammo belts???

After the Greek parade, I walked mostly around the river and lakeshore.

Here is the Social Security Bat, in front of the Social Security Administration building. If you don't pay your social security taxes, Al Gore will come hit you over the head with it.

The riverbend.

The new Chicago Sun Times HQ on the riverbend.

The old Chicago Sun Times HQ site. Trump (and Bill Rancic) is building a new tower here.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Is there an oil bubble?

Interesting discussion on Larry Kudlow's blog about whether oil prices are in a bubble. I am next-to-ignorant on this topic so I'll keep my observations brief.

Ok, so oil prices have climbed up a lot recently. But they're not outside of historical norms (real dollars). Goldman Sachs predicts oil will peak at $105 in 2007, but Kudlow thinks it's hokum straight out of the dot com era. So how can we tell where prices are going?

I'm assuming oil prices are being and will be driven primarily by geopolitics in the near future. And I'm also assuming that the people most knowledgeable about geopolitical issues, and most likely to have a feel for the future, are the policy makers in the US government. And currently,

1. They are not releasing oil from SPR. On the contrary, they're buying.
2. They finally seem willing to open ANWR to drilling.

If the geopolitical situation really is such that oil prices will decrease soon, they would be selling SPR oil (and buying back at lower prices). ANWR is a bit more interesting, because it would take at least some time for drilling to begin, and for the actual oil to make it to market. So, this situation kind of indicates to me that policy makers expect oil prices to keep rising for the foreseeable future. If they don't, then we've bought a lot of expensive oil for the SPR, and we've made an unnecessary and possibly dangerous (in terms of future emergency and national security needs) decision to start drilling in ANWR. We'll see what happens.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Unimpressed by Dean

I flipped to C-SPAN today and saw Howard Dean speaking to and taking questions from a Democratic audience. The subject was the future of the Democratic party and how it can win back the government. A couple of observations:

1. Republicans who cast Dean as a fringe ideologue are incorrect. If anything, he seems to be attempting to use his credibility with the leftist fringe to coax it into more mainstream thinking.
2. "We can do X better" was a recurring phrase throughout his speech and answers. His attitude was not "we have different ideas to bring to the table," but, "Republicans want X, we can do X better" (examples: national security, "values"). Not what I'd call leadership.
3. Almost exclusive focus on tactics, in terms of winning future elections. The attitude was "We did X last time, obviously it wasn't enough, let's do more of X," not "We did X last time, let's try Y next time." The exception was, of course, mouthing that so-nebulous-as-to-be-meaningless word: "values."
4. Dean sounded very scripted. These things are always scripted to some extent, but sometimes he tends to speed up his speech temporarily, a perfunctory soundbite emission. It's as grating as Bush's incessant repetitiveness in the debates ("it's hard work," etc.).

I don't blame Dean too much, though. He's in a difficult situation - he has to define the electoral strategy for a party that is having a major identity crisis. But right now, it just looks like trying to play catch-up and co-opt the (perceived) Rovian electoral strategy. What about playing off frictions in the Republican coalition and trying to bring libertarians in? It's not even under discussion. The current Democratic party just isn't serious competition for the Republicans.

Is the Republican coalition in danger?

I'm not sure why, but the Terri Schiavo mess seems to have exposed a libertarian/social-conservative rift unlike any other issue in the past, despite the fact that this 1. was primarily not a political issue, 2. sets no significant precedent and 3. has no effect on the vast majority of Americans. (I know people will disagree with each of those three points, depending on how they view the issue, but come on, who are we kidding?) Nevertheless, the sheer obsessiveness of a certain faction of the Republican coalition has caused some embarrassment to more level-headed libertarians. So, this has become an excuse for a libertarian bitch-fest for past abuses by the Republicans (the litanies are quite extensive).

Ryan Sager thinks that the traditional Republican coalition is in danger, to be replaced by Big Government Conservatism. He bases his assessment on the electoral strategy of attracting socially conservative voters who are not traditional Republicans (blacks, Hispanics), and shedding the libertarian minority. If true, this is very disheartening, since it's very unlikely the Democrats would put out a credible welcome mat for libertarians.

So, what do libertarians do? Well, I'm not quite as pessimistic as Ryan. The last election was not razor-thin, but it was not a landslide either. If libertarians stayed home (or worse, voted Democrat) in 2006 or 2008, the Democrats would probably pick up some wins, possibly the White House. Should libertarians root for Democrats? No. But it would seem the only way to get the attention of the current Republican leadership is to prove that the coalition being built is not stable. Suffering some losses may bring the Republicans back to their small-government roots. It would also result in divided government, which is historically a good restraint of government growth.