OPTIMISM?: A client e-mailed me today these few words: Are you still an optimist? I gave him a short answer, saying I was dubious about the short-run, optimistic as long as I'm confident we know how to fix what ails us. The Bush administration and the Congress remain mired in debate over fiscal policies that will not produce the "V-shaped" rebound we are all so eager to see. If anything, I think the equity markets are still headed lower while policymakers await the verdict of whether it will be "V" or "L." When and only when there is a consensus that it will be "L," once we hit bottom, will there be an opportunity for the policy fix. I hate to swamp you with more than you need or want. This is why I spend so much time on my "free" website, where I broadcast views on the world political economy in hopes of affecting policy change. If you check today, you will find a more or less optimistic view of Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, with background that some of you newer, younger clients have probably never seen before. Where there are now demands for O'Neill's firing popping up all over the conservative press, I still count him as a positive asset, a man who is biding his time while the Bush economic plan designed by Larry Lindsey fails to get the job one. If he interferes prematurely, he would be BLAMED for having upset the Lindsey plan by undermining consumer confidence. He must be patient. Will he do the right thing when the time comes? Sorry, I don't know the answer to that question. My early assessment of him remains the same. He is very intelligent. He is not a banker, which is good. And he is not an economist, which is better. His dominant trait is an eagerness to find and deliver more efficient systems. At the moment, while he bides his time on the Lindsey plan, he has been moving the furniture around the Treasury Department. This strikes many observers as funny, but he really can't do anything else until President Bush loses confidence in Larry Lindsey, who sits at his elbow at the White House. I think we may have to wait until January for this to happen.
FARRAKHAN: There have been widspread reports that in New York City last weekend he made insensitive remarks about September 11. The Associated Press led the way, reporting he complained that Americans were crying over 5000 dead at the WTCenter and were not crying over the 1.5 million Iraqi civilians who died in the last decade because of the UN embargo. The AP identified him as a man who "condemned Zionism." The NYTimes ran the AP item without comment, which is as good as another drop of poison on Min. Farrakhan -- with the Times editors able to say, "It was the AP that done it!" The WSJournal then ran a little "asides" editorial trashing him for his insensitivity. The Washington Times then ran a full scale editorial about the anti-Semitic Farrakhan, who we all know once said "Judaism is a gutter religion." This is of course why maniac Muslims fly suicide missions into the World Trade Center. If you read the Minister's words since September 11, you will see him crying for the 5000 dead, including the Christians and Jews, but also the 140 who were Muslim. He asked, as I have been asking for the last several years, "Where are the tears for the 1.5 million Muslim civilians who have died in Iraq because of the U.N. embargo?" I not only guarantee you Farrakhan has never, ever said "Judaism is a (gutter, dirty) religion." I also offered $1000 to the NYTimes Metro editor, for her favorite charity, if she can document that assertion in a column she wrote last year.