If the attack ads between the Republican primary candidates seem negative now, we need only wait until the general election ramps up full court and speed to plunge to new depths of attacks on person and ideas. Our leadership and candidates for replacement seem bent on stressing the negative. Pessimism seems to trump optimism at every turn. Did you ever wonder why negative attacks are so effective, especially when we claim to prefer ideas, values, and optimism to characterize the public debate?

Last night, EBay reported a 69% increase in earnings for the fourth quarter and a 55% in the number of active users.  But it was their more conservative year-ahead guidance that sent the stock and the market lower in trading this morning.  The company suggested that 2004 earnings would likely come in around 98 cents a share, less than the $1.05 analysts’ profit estimate of analysts surveyed by Thompson Financial.  Money manager Paul Cook of Munder Capital suggested that Ebay “may make more investments than expected in growth opportunities, or may be leaving room to exceed the guidance.”