Wednesday, December 31, 2008
The Washington Times reports today on a RNC sponsored resolution accusing President Bush and Republican leader of embracing socialism. About seven years too late to be truly helpful, but I do approve of the gesture.
Still, this line (the Times', not the RNCs') is a bit laughable:
"If enacted, the resolution would put the party on record opposing the $700 billion bailout of the financial sector, which passed Congress with Republican support and was signed by Mr. Bush..."
My advice for Republicans looking to come in from the wilderness: If you really wanted to be "the party on record opposing the $700 billion bailout," maybe your Sens and Reps shouldn't have voted for the bailout, maybe your presidential candidate shouldn't have suspended his campaign to work on its passage, and maybe your President shouldn't have signed it.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Monday, December 29, 2008
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Saturday, December 27, 2008
UPDATE: Jonathan Adler goes negative on T.R. (and Boot) here, the gist being that various state interventions Roosevelt called for are no longer in favor. I'm not very impressed by Adler's response. For one thing, it's not true that the idea of government ownership of resources such as timber has been utterly rejected; there's no great push for privatizing national forests, though I know some have called for that. Nor is there much momentum for getting rid of all antitrust, which would be the "complete repudiation" Adler claims has befallen T.R.'s antitrust policies. And even if that were so, it would tell us only so much about whether Roosevelt's policies were appropriate for the economy of his time, in which power was concentrated in big companies in a way hard to imagine now.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
A big advantage of taking tango lessons, though, is that, outside of Argentina, you'll likely have a fairly uncrowded dance floor once a tango starts. And your performance, if it's like mine, will impress people in the same way as Samuel Johnson's dog "walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all."
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Monday, December 22, 2008
Sunday, December 21, 2008
When I tell people I work at the business school of private university (Duke), there is always the assumption that I'm at the one place where business is still good. After all, applications to daytime MBA programs are frequently countercyclical, and indeed, Fuqua, like many b-schools, is experiencing an increase in both quality and quantity of applications.
But as the Raleigh News & Observer reported Friday, Duke University's endowment has dropped 19%. The article also mentions other top-tier universities with similar declines: Yale at a reported 25% and Harvard at 22%. As bad as these numbers look, the real story is probably far worse. Most schools have a decent stake in private equity investments, the losses of which are extremely difficult to estimate. So when the dust clears, look for a significant downward revision of endowment losses. For schools relying on endowment income for operations, this will likely mean hiring freezes, salary freezes, and layoffs.
Forty years ago today, Apollo 8 got started. Scientific American Online will soon have some coverage relevant to that mission, including a piece by yours truly.
Friday, December 19, 2008
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Charles Ponzi , born in Italy in 1882, arrived in Boston in 1903. Then he went to Canada , where he spent some time in prison for forging a check. Not wanting to tell his mother about this, he wrote to her that he’d gotten a job as “special assistant” to a prison warden.
Ponzi returned to Boston in 1917. Two years later, he got a letter from Spain with an international postal reply coupon for mailing a catalog Ponzi was proposing to publish. With that, he came upon the idea of investing in these postal coupons, and making profits from differences in international postage rates.
He started his own firm, the Security Exchange Corporation (not to be confused with the then nonexistent Securities and Exchange Commission) and encountered enormous interest among investors. Unfortunately, Ponzi’s business plan, though legal, was unworkable, involving multiple currency exchanges and postal bureaucracies.
Still, Ponzi promised a 50 percent return on investment in 45 days, and for a while he kept his word. The trouble is that he was paying investors merely by giving them money from later investors. Such deceitful dealing would come to be known as a Ponzi scheme.More here.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Moreover, the second book gives impersonal reasons, including some of climate change, for why the Mongols expanded, whereas the first sees it as pivoting on one man who wanted to take revenge upon the world for his father's death and his clan's betrayal. Where the truth lies I will not guess, but I was fascinated by Rossabi's passing comment that one consequence of the Mongol expansion was to elicit interest in Europe in trade with Asia, thus spurring Europe's age of exploration.
Monday, December 15, 2008
Friday, December 12, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
In moving, even tentatively, into this new area of lending, Fannie Mae is taking on significantly more risk, which may not pose any difficulties during flush economic times. But the government-subsidized corporation may run into trouble in an economic downturn, prompting a government rescue similar to that of the savings and loan industry in the 1980's.
''From the perspective of many people, including me, this is another thrift industry growing up around us,'' said Peter Wallison a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. ''If they fail, the government will have to step up and bail them out the way it stepped up and bailed out the thrift industry.''
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Asked what he would do if he were "car czar," Ferguson said that as "automobile autocrat" or "vehicle viceroy," he would put the U.S.-owned auto industry in a "hospice" to make its demise more comfortable. The carmakers, in his view, are a distraction from the more crucial question of bank solvency. He rejected (a bit too cavalierly, I think) thinking in terms of a dichotomy between market and state, noting that government has always had a role in the economy but also that much 1970s-era regulation was harmful and needed to be gotten rid of. As for what government should spend money on, he made, to my mind, pretty good sense: "Growth does not come from leveraged consumption. Growth comes from productivity-enhancing technological innovation."
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Monday, December 8, 2008
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Friday, December 5, 2008
Thursday, December 4, 2008
After advocating a carbon tax as the least bad alternative, I have been persuaded that it's politically impossible. People are not going to vote for a politician who promises to significantly boost what they pay at the pump and pay for power.I almost agree with him, but not quite. The uproar over high energy prices in the past year or so has convinced me that, under most circumstances, a carbon tax is politically impossible. However, there are times when this would be different. Imagine if George W. Bush, right after 9/11, had said that, as a matter of national security as well as environmental protection, we'll be phasing in a carbon tax and an oil import fee, while reducing various income and payroll taxes. I think that would have passed, and been a great accomplishment. Too late now.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
But a better indicator, it seems to me, is the Sharon Statement, drafted by Evans and adopted by young conservatives in 1960 at William F. Buckley's Connecticut estate. It was only by a close vote (44-40) that these conservatives decided to put the word "God" in the statement, and when they did it was to say: "That foremost among the transcendent values is the individual's use of his God-given free will, whence derives his right to be free from the restrictions of arbitrary force." The manifesto was, as Glenn Reynolds might put it, religious but not too much.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
(Via Jennifer Rubin.)
UPDATE: Lest my headline give the impression that I'm hostile to everything Keynesian, I'll say that it's really "vulgar Keynesianism" -- which translates to "let's spend a lot of money" -- that's at issue here. How much Keynesian theory tells us about macroeconomics is a subject on which the jury is still out, in my opinion; Greg Mankiw has an interesting post on such matters here.
Monday, December 1, 2008
Thanks again to Ken for allowing me to post on his blog. Last week he humbly acknowledged that Obama's retaining Gates was not a ploy. However, I believe hiring Gates is lamentable nevertheless -- for the same reason his mentions of Republicans like Chuck Hagel and Dick Lugar are also worrisome. These Republicans are perfect "useful idiots" for the canny Obama administration. Obama is way too smart to put the hard leftists in spotlight positions; they will have lower-key advisory roles.
Gates will earn plaudits from the MSM as he continues his moderate and statesmanlike weakening of the United States.Don't forget that he, with Baker and Hamilton, was a member of the Iraq Study Group whose report advocated an orderly retreat from Iraq (unlike McCain, and afterwards Bush, who pushed for the successful surge). Under Gates' leadership, Iran is ever closer to its nukes; and remember Russia's invasion of Georgia? Gates did nothing to anticipate it and nothing to reverse it -- that's been handed off to the tigers in the EU. Gates' defense strategy report spoke of collaboration with Russia and China. With his genial and dignified bearing, he will help Obama rein in American power and appease our enemies.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Saturday, November 29, 2008
The economic crisis has awakened the most passionate desires for more intervention. In the collective imagination, more regulation and supervision by the state would secure economic growth without traveling the painful route of the crisis. Those who bet on the intuitive statist remedy forget, lamentably, that we have arrived at a level of development thanks to the creativity, curiosity and perserverance of chaotic systems; that is to say, thanks to the lack of the constructivism that -- now -- they promote so much.Whether there's a better translation of constructivismo than constructivism, I leave to a better translator.
Friday, November 28, 2008
From the India Times, a report on the U.S., U.K. and Israel providing intelligence help in response.
Some interesting background about Jews in India and Chabad Lubavitch from Ron Coleman and Mike Licht.
David Frum calls for Obama to go to India and make India relations a high priority.
Gordon Chang points out that, pace Fareed Zakaria, these are not "remarkably peaceful times."
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
On Portfolio.com, Michael Lewis pokes the corpse of Wall Street with a stick to try to figure out what happened. I have very limited knowledge of finance, and I still don't understand credit-default swaps, but Lewis is able to keep me turning the pages. Much as he did with Liar's Poker and Moneyball.
Monday, November 24, 2008
The need for a real bank in Boston had been evident for a while. Back in the 1760s, a merchant named Nathaniel Wainwright had acted in effect as banker for shopkeepers and others in the city. He accepted deposits and issued interest-bearing personal notes, which circulated like currency. Unfortunately, he went bankrupt in 1765, causing a panic.
The Bank of Massachusetts, also known simply as the Massachusetts Bank, financed the first U.S. trade mission to China , in 1786, and five years later funded the first U.S. voyage to Argentina . It was renamed the Massachusetts National Bank in 1864, and in 1903 merged with First National Bank of Boston to become the Bank of Boston, which merged with BayBank in 1996 to become BankBoston, which was acquired three years later by Fleet Bank, which in 2005 was merged into Bank of America.
And thus Bank of America can now trace part of its ancestry back to the 1780s, and the institution holds some historic documents to prove it (which have been displayed in recent years at its Charlotte headquarters). These include ledgers containing the accounts of, among others, Hancock, Sam Adams and Paul Revere, and a 1784 register of the bank’s original 105 shareholders, of whom, incidentally, 15 were women.
In my view, the challenge for the party is not, as many argue, to decide whether it is a movement of social conservatives, of fiscal conservatives, or of soft libertarians. To win elections, the Republican party has to gather support from all of those groups. If any one faction comes to dominate the party – as social conservatives have lately threatened to – its prospects are diminished. To get along with each other, never mind with the independents and uncommitted liberals whose votes the party needs, Republicans first need to develop their capacity for tolerance.
Social conservatives are suspected, often with reason, of wishing to impose their values on everyone else. For the sake of their own electoral prospects and to build alliances with other segments of opinion, they need to quell that instinct, insisting only that others do not try to impose their values on them. “Live and let live”, together with a lively scepticism about government-imposed solutions, is the watchword that can bring the strands of Republicanism together. It is a distinctively American creed, as well. This centre-right nation still resonates to it.Sounds good to me. If it's broken, fix it.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Friday, November 21, 2008
My wife and I saw All My Sons on Wednesday night, an Arthur Miller play. It made me think about the secrets we all have in our families as well as guilt and shame (some more than others) and how it transcends to the family system. Basically, the patriarch of the family sold cracked cylinder heads resulting in the death of 21 american soldiers. This ultimately leads to the patriarchs son getting money to invest into his own company. The stages of grief, and denial are powerful in this and Katie Holmes isn't bad either. When I think about the ideas of this play, I think about men, and how power and greed can possibly lead to ones downfall. This might sound obvious, but this performance definitely transcends to modern day.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
UPDATE 6PM: "We do not have the votes."
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Then again, for single-party rule and a state-controlled economy, I could just stay in the U.S.
Nepal's Maoists, Split on Ideology, Chart Path of Revolution
By Jay Shankar
Nov. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Nepal's Maoists, who won power this year after a decade-long civil war, meet today to chart the path of their revolution with leaders ideologically split over whether to maintain a free market or impose state control.
Puspa Kamal Dahal, the Maoist leader and prime minister, has pledged to remove barriers to foreign investment and wants the Himalayan nation to remain a multiparty democracy. Hardliners are pushing for single-party rule and a state-controlled economy.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Monday, November 17, 2008
Saturday, November 15, 2008
To return to the issue posed at the start of this column, when could an Indian American become US president? It could be as soon as four years from now. Piyush ‘Bobby’ Jindal, governor of Louisiana, is a hot tip for becoming the Republican candidate in 2012. He has the youth and charisma that McCain lacks. The Republican Party needs a fresh new face to challenge Obama. Jindal is not white, yet that seems not to matter at all, not even in a party long associated with notions of white superiority. Obama’s victory has truly sent the US over the racial threshold..I think "party long associated with white superiority" is a pretty misleading description of the Republican Party, but I do like the name of the column: Swaminomics. And now that President-elect Obama has omitted India, by accident or design, from his early phone calls, it would be good to have a president who could hardly fail to be aware of that strategically important relationship
Friday, November 14, 2008
Or, better stated, how much is it worth to hang your name on a school?
I work at a business school, and last year I had a discussion with colleagues at Chicago GBS and Columbia Business School about how large a gift would be necessary for any of the unnamed top tier schools (Harvard, Chicago, Stanford, Columbia) to change their names. They guessed somewhere between $250m and $500m. Turns out they were right.
Meet the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Price: $300m.
Five years ago, Stephen Ross paid $100m to Michigan.
In retrospect, John Anderson (UCLA, $15m), J.B. Fuqua (Duke, $10m), and John Kellogg (Northwestern, $10m) got into the game at bargain prices.
A new conservative movement that takes libertarian ideas seriously could use the inertia created by the nation's new progressivism to slingshot itself into the future on a platform of reduced government, lower taxes, and limited interventionism, while also respecting climate change (adjusting the tax code to encourage green reform without any expense to taxpayers) and reforming the immigration system (opening the borders as the market demands labor without sacrificing security).Some problems with the article (not an exhaustive list):
1. Randazzo praises "the small government, Goldwater-style GOP of old" and also states that the GOP has never been "a party of small government based on classical liberal principles," without clarifying what if any distinction he has in mind to reconcile these divergent descriptions.
2. He writes that "If the Ron Paul movement tells us anything, it's that the Republican Party can be more than a party of old white guys with bad hair cuts," but fails to note any difference between Ron Paul's anti-immigration fear-mongering and Randazzo's pro-immigration stance.
3. Randazzo presents his ideas as an electoral winner for the GOP without showing the slightest awareness that many of these ideas are deeply unpopular; e.g. a carbon tax. To wit, point 4:
4. He suggests having a carbon tax "without any expense to taxpayers." But even a revenue-neutral carbon tax will shift burdens from some taxpayers to others, exacerbating its deep unpopularity regardless of its plausible merits on environmental and security grounds.
5. His "limited interventionism," if it's anything like Ron Paul's, would damage remaining Republican credibility on national security, and blur distinctions between Republicans and Democrats on foreign policy. Isn't his whole thrust that Republicans shouldn't be a watered-down version of Democrats, or is that OK if we're talking about foreign policy?
6. Randazzo argues against "moving toward the political center" without noting that many of his positions (a carbon tax, open the borders) are not associated with an unyielding conservatism.
I too think the Republican Party should become more libertarian. But libertarianism, like other ideologies, is not immune to wishful thinking and mediocre arguments.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
I would also like to thank Ken for having me as a guest publisher.
As a creative arts therapist and artist, I have become growingly disappointed with the arts being cut in the school as well as publicly. Several of my friends have encouraged me to debate how art can heal the world. Though I am not sure it fully can, it does have its benefits. Unfortunately with right people and left people complaining, censoring, or disallowing art, the power of creativity has become more diminished, and now one has to be a private collector to view even erotic art! So I decided the best thing for artists to do, who care about artistic freedom, and lack of censorship should move to Russia, and try to get the Kandinsky award.http://www.reuters.com/article/entertainmentnews/idUSTRE4A654P20081107 (not sure how to do the link thing!) and you can see Putin naked on a couch with Hilary, but also express yourself any which way you want.
Thanks to Ken for letting me chime in.
I read Dan McCleary's entry, and he might be happy to know that at least one fancy opera house that he eschews in favor of his favorite rock venues could be in trouble for lack of government funding.
This past week, the foo-foo frenchy music director, Gerard Mortier, dumped his impending directorship of the New York City Opera because he didn't have enough government money to play with. At his current gig, the state-sponsored Paris National Opera, the operating budget is $160 million. The City Opera, facing a $15 million deficit, is struggling to come up with a promised $36 million operating budget for next year and meanwhile has cancelled most of it's current season. The entire 2008 budget for the National Endowment for the Arts was $145 million.
While some readers might think any federal funding of the fine arts is outrageous, it should be noted that the US is nowhere as extreme as Europe. As an opera lover myself, I hate to see this "people's opera" facing such hard times but acknowledge that cutting arts funding from the federal budget may be warranted, especially with government spending reaching sickening levels. Love opera, love Paris, hate European entitlements and the entitled. It's a hard time to be an opera fan and a libertarian.
With gratitude to Ken for opening up his blog, I will add my thoughts on the current discussion of Palin and libertarianism. As much as a lightening rod as she has been, it bears noting that she is not the leader of the GOP or primary opposition to the Democrats for the foreseeable future. The only force that stands between responsible government and "creeping socialism" right now is Mitch McConnell, a shrewd legislative strategist and the Senate Minority Leader. Well, perhaps I should add Rahm Emanuel, whose duty as Obama's chief of staff will be to keep the Democratic extremists from derailing the Obama Administration's more "moderate" legislative agenda.
As for the future of the GOP, count me as a strong supporter of Palin. Libertarians like to attack social conservatives as threats to their liberty, but the cultural and political barriers to change are so enormous that even Ronald Reagan accomplished very little on the social/cultural front.
The true threat to liberty is not social conservatism, but rather the continuing erosion of societal values. To take one recent example, look at the civil rights ballot measures champtioned by Ward Connerly in Colorado and Nebraska. In formerly solid-red-state Colorado, the initiative narrowly lost. In Nebraska it passsed with 58% of the vote, meaning that in the one of the most conservative, wholesome corners of the Midwest and America, as many as 42% of the people supported politically correct but discrimatory affirmative action.
Not every issue goes as close to the heart of equality under the law as this one, but on a range of issues -- whether it be the freedom to own guns or affirmations of the religious values (all those "bitter" people out there) on which this country was founded -- social conservatives are the last ones holding the fort. My perception is that few do so with determination because they know how our culture of political correctness filters their beliefs as divisive, bitter, intolerant, etc.
Maybe it will take a plain-talking Alaskan with innate political talent and an appealing persona, who has not spent time in elite educational insitutions, to make American bedrock values "cool" again. To paraphrase the late William F. Buckley, I'd rather be governed by Sarah Palin than all the folks on the Harvard Law faculty, or even at Reason magazine.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Sarah Palin's greatest asset is her enemies. The smug, false and idiotic attacks on her have overwhelmed the reasonable concerns about her becoming vice president. I am not a wholehearted fan of Sarah Palin; she underperformed at crucial moments, overstated some of her rhetoric, and is more socially conservative than I'd prefer. But hearing her noxious critics -- not just on the left but also anonymous has-beens in the McCain camp -- makes me hope she will stick around on the national stage as a counterpoint to such knee-jerk cultural snobbery.
Robert A. George, never a Palin fan, has an insightful post about the latest attacks.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Thanks to Ken for the invitation to post.
Intro: I was a teenage punk rocker in DC in the early eighties. One night after a Minor Threat show in Arlington, Va., I was driving home along Rock Creek Parkway, under the cantilevered balcony of the Kennedy Center. I had worked a summer job in DC, and I thought to myself, "why do my tax dollars support an arts center for rich people, while DC punks are watching Minor Threat at Woodlawn High School?"
Though certainly liberal with regard to social issues, I developed an overly simplistic economic philosophy that boiled down to "the government shouldn't spend my money on anything." It took me at least fifteen years to realize that I was probably a libertarian.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Friday, November 7, 2008
[Will] Wilkinson also sounded a sympathetic note about the idea of a social safety net, saying he sometimes feels ideologically "lonely" when he tells friends that he likes the positions of Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman—including their sympathy for policies such as a guaranteed minimum income. Wilkinson's friends on the left denounce him as "a market fundamentalist," but the libertarians can be almost as negative: "They tell me I'm not a libertarian at all."
Brown University political science professor John Tomasi offered a plan for bringing together such feuding factions. Theatrically arranging three cups in front of himself on the podium, Tomasi encouraged libertarians (and liberals) to drink three metaphorical cups of potentially strange-tasting philosophical ideas: (1) Accept that there is a real distinction between classical liberals (who share a somewhat flexible bundle of ideas such as democracy, constitutionalism, and individual rights) and libertarians, adherents of a strict version of property rights that "not many people believe;" (2) accept that some version of "social justice" will seem intuitively appealing to most political thinkers and must be part of our agenda; and (3) recognize that once 1 and 2 are accepted, a friendly empirical conversation about economic policies can proceed.It seems to me that "libertarian" as defined above ought to be called something like "absolutist propertarian" and ought to exclude not just Hayek and Friedman but anyone who's inadvertently breathed on someone else without a signed contract. But be that as it may, if any such "strict version" becomes the broadly accepted meaning, count me out. And while I've never much liked the term "classical liberal" (it seems a little nostalgic and musty), the "somewhat flexible bundle of ideas" described above is something I would sign onto rather readily.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
UPDATE: This would be a good time to point out that the electorate has been growing, and therefore comparing absolute numbers of Libertarian votes now versus previous years is misleading. Over 110 million votes were cast in the 2008 presidential election, compared to 86 million in 1980. Thus, Barr having "the second-best Libertarian presidential performance of all time," albeit "well behind Ed Clark's 921,128 votes in 1980," is actually a bit pathetic.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
-- Jeff Flake charts a limited-government "way out of the wilderness." (Link thanks to Mike B.)
-- Jim Lindgren notes that the prospective chief of staff favors "universal citizen service."
-- Jason Zengerle points out that Robert F. Kennedy Jr., now being touted for EPA or Interior, is an exponent of anti-vaccine pseudoscience.
The latter two items should raise a few concerns among freedom- and science-loving liberals who voted for Obama. Right?
Note on headline: TK is an editor's term for "to come."
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Thou must admit, besides all blows and weight,
Some other cause of motion, whence derives
This power in us inborn, of some free act.-
Since naught from nothing can become, we see.
For weight prevents all things should come to pass
Through blows, as 'twere, by some external force;
But that man's mind itself in all it does
Hath not a fixed necessity within,
Nor is not, like a conquered thing, compelled
To bear and suffer,- this state comes to man
From that slight swervement of the elements
In no fixed line of space, in no fixed time.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Friday, October 31, 2008
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Iraq today is a complicated mess, and how best to extricate ourselves is a tough problem. I don't know how well Barack Obama would handle that problem, but at least he sees it clearly: His goal is to get us out of there. John McCain's goal, on the other hand, is to keep us there as long as possible. That fundamental difference is reason enough in my mind to root for Obama.
Me: First of all, McCain's spoken about getting most troops out by 2013, which is not "as long as possible." Secondly, how clearly did Obama see Iraq when he opposed the surge, which he much later acknowledged worked much better than anyone (meaning he) had dreamed? Did he see clearly the genocide that may well have occurred there following a fast U.S. pullout?
More from Lindsey:
The Iraq fiasco was just one consequence of a deeper misjudgment: a panicky overreaction to 9/11 that inflated the real and serious threat of terrorism into an apocalyptic fantasy of World War IV. Delusions of "existential" danger lay behind the Bush administration's resort to torture and its mad claims of absolute executive power as well as its blundering botch job in Iraq. I myself suffered from such delusions in the first years after 9/11, but the accumulation of countervailing evidence eventually freed me from them. Bush, of course, has proved incurable. And McCain's case of 1938-itis is, if possible, even worse.Me: There's some truth to that. The Iraq War likely would not have happened if there had been no 9/11, and rhetoric along the lines of "World War IV" does seem overblown. But isn't there a danger now of overreacting to the Iraq War, by downplaying threats from hostile nations and terrorist groups, and wouldn't such insularity set a tone of weakness that would make future wars more likely? And if McCain is such a warmonger ("1938-itis"), please explain that part where he led the renormalization of relations with the nation where he was tortured.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Fast forward to the present: a tremendous concentration of power has emerged in the banking sector, now that government is a shareholder in the biggest banks. This concentration of power is both public and private; it's a nexus of the two, and it offers untold opportunities for corruption, abuse, and politically directed financing decisions. Creating it may have been a needed measure in the midst of crisis (though it should have been done in a more market-oriented way) but, as David Frum rightly notes, a major reason to vote for McCain is that he, unlike Barack Obama, wants to get government out of the banking business as soon as possible.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Two years ago, I wrote a book imploring the Republican Party not to follow its worst elements off a cliff—not to evolve, in short, into an insular party with little-to-no appeal outside of the rural, the southern, the Evangelical. As the McCain campaign flames out in a ball of Rovian disgrace, scorching the center in an attempt to fire up the base, it's difficult to reach any other conclusion than that the battle for the soul of the Republican Party has been lost.I think it's more complicated than that. The soul of libertarianism has been deeply damaged in 2008. That's the result of the Ron Paul phenomenon -- socially conservative and conspiracy-minded -- which was touted, far more than not, by Reason magazine (and deplored by Sager). Now, Ryan falls back on the definition of libertarianism as "fiscally conservative and socially liberal." But that's a dwindling segment of what passes for libertarianism these days. Ron Paul and Bob Barr, whatever their fallings out, are libertarianism's most prominent figures now.
So, I'm not an admirer of the Rovian politics and social conservatism that Sager decries. But if libertarians are no longer at home in the GOP, then I (who have long called myself a libertarian and still wear the label, however uncomfortably, now) say that has a lot to do with where libertarianism has been going, and not just where the GOP has gone.
UPDATE 11AM: Via Instapundit, the DC Examiner has more on the trouble with earmarks.
Wednesday, Nov. 5, 8pm: “Yesterday Was the Election: What Now?”
Featuring (1) Abe Greenwald, blogger at Commentary, (2) Ben Geyerhahn, advisor to the 2004 Kerry campaign, and finally (3) funnyman Marty Beckerman, author of the fantastic Dumbocracy (and the earlier Generation S.L.U.T.), to say a pox on both your houses.
Hosted by Todd Seavey and moderated by Michel Evanchik.
Free admission, cash bar. The debates, usually pitting two opponents against each other (in a civil and often humorous fashion), take place on the basement level of Lolita Bar at 266 Broome St. at the corner of Allen St. on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, one block south and three west of the Delancey St. F, J, M, Z subway stop.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Saturday, October 25, 2008
UPDATE: Actually, the thing seems to be completely screwy. I'm not sure if it will correctly count votes at all. But I'll leave it there for now, as a cautionary tale about the limits of democracy.
UPDATE2: It might be working now.
UPDATE 11/5/08: The poll is now closed. Results:
Keep it going. It's a much-needed intellectual compass in these turbulent times: 62%.
Shut it down. It's a pathetic puerile profusion of pointless pixelated procrastination: 0%.
Change it completely. Take the opposite of your positions because you're wrong about everything: 12%.
Whatever, dude: 25%.
Unfortunately, the poll didn't work consistently, such that a significant segment of the electorate may have been disenfranchised. The recorded vote total was 8 million, minus 6 orders of magnitude.
Friday, October 24, 2008
"The typical Republican is happy coming home to a 62-inch television, pulling out a fine bottle of cognac or Scotch, putting his feet on the table and enjoying the fruits of his labor...."That reminds me, I should get some Lagavulin 16 for election night.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
UPDATE 10:30 PM: I watched some of it on C-SPAN2, including the closing line: "When Chuck Baldwin becomes President of the United States, this New World Order comes crashing down." Inane.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Not that that's likely to stop critics from accusing her of not being a reader. After all, she gives press conferences, but the critics still complain she doesn't give press conferences.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
However, I must admit I am underwhelmed by this response piece from Jeffrey Miron, which argues that zero percent of the problem stemmed from free markets, and that indeed America has had nothing resembling free markets since (cue villainous music) "a brief moment before Alexander Hamilton engineered the first U.S. bailout of financial markets." What about the unregulated derivatives that spread bad mortgage liabilities far and wide? Apparently, to Miron, that doesn't count as a free market because it didn't exist in a purely free-market economy (the kind, I guess, where you can wall in your neighbor and starve him to death).
It seems to me that a counterargument such as Miron's plays into the stereotype of libertarians as dogmatists whose ideas have no applicability to the real world. Sadly, there's some truth to that stereotype.
UPDATE 4PM: By the way, I wonder exactly what financial markets prior to Hamilton's intervention Miron would characterize as free. Bank of the United States scrip? U.S. treasuries?
We need to replace the income tax with a system that's broad-based and visible.
Monday, October 20, 2008
For Americans who've grown accustomed to hundreds of cable channels and unlimited choices on the Internet, politics is the last place people are expected to be satisfied with a choice between Brand A and Brand B.
It should be obvious soon, if it's not already, what folly it is for Republicans to pursue a base strategy rather than reach out to the center. I heard Larry Kudlow (whom I tend to like) on the radio this weekend saying the minimum requirements for a Republican candidate are: pro-life; supply-side tax cuts; and strong on national defense. I'll go along with strong-on-defense as non-negotiable, but pushing to outlaw abortion nationwide, as opposed to emphasizing persuasion and federalism, is a recipe for electoral defeat. And mindless tax cuts, tax cuts, tax cuts, regardless of the fiscal situation and without an interest in broader tax reform, is the same.
Professional partisans in Washington try to ignore this shift, perpetuating the myth that the independent movement is a chaotic grab bag. In fact, the movement has a coherent set of underlying beliefs: Independents tend to be fiscally conservative, socially progressive and strong on national security. They believe in putting patriotism over partisanship and the national interest over special interests.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
People can watch the Olympics live from Beijing, and wonder what has space ever done for us? They don’t realize they’re seeing signals relayed by satellites. I live in Florida. We watch the weather satellites very, very closely, especially this time of year, when the hurricanes are brewing. Space technology has helped to produce the computer revolution, helped to change our lives. If you’re using a GPS system, if you’re unfortunate enough to have to be in an intensive-care unit in a hospital, if you’d like to go scuba diving, you are using technology derived from space.There's much more, including on space solar power.
On the other hand, if Obama wins (as his Intrade contract currently gives an 83 percent probability) it will be an interesting time to be a center-right writer, as there will be plenty of material to cover during the new left-liberal ascendancy (including about whether the right is mounting productive responses). So, as someone whose politics were shaped in no small part by reaction against the Jimmy Carter era, I at least have a certain sense of professional anticipation.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Friday, October 17, 2008
If, by the way, Powell surprises the pundits by endorsing McCain, then we have a whole different story. Whether McCain wins or not--and his chances of winning would significantly increase--being backed by Powell would be a message that the Republican Party genuinely is, as it used to be called, a "big tent" with a conservative core but room for a healthy range of political views. This would also help prevent a stultifying dominance by a Democratic Party in which the Clintons are now suspiciously centrist. Just a thought.
UPDATE 10/19, 10:40 AM: Sadly, I couldn't persuade him.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
"I'll probably vote for Obama,'' said a 20-year-old student, Baron Remeisen, from Fort Lauderdale, who will cast his first vote in a presidential election. "I was thinking of voting for Bob Barr (the Libertarian candidate) but because of pressure from my family, and Bob Barr probably won't win, I'll vote for Obama.
"I really don't have a good reason not to vote for McCain,'' he said. "I guess the Democrats are more popular right now.''* - see here.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Overall, I'd say McCain had the edge in this debate, not in articulateness but in having something interesting to say. In a few minutes, it'll be hard to remember anything Obama said.
Perhaps not the least thing she got wrong is, McCain is the one who wants to separate health insurance from employment.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
PREPARE for a new America: That's the message that the Rev. Jesse Jackson conveyed to participants in the first World Policy Forum, held at this French lakeside resort last week.
He promised "fundamental changes" in US foreign policy - saying America must "heal wounds" it has caused to other nations, revive its alliances and apologize for the "arrogance of the Bush administration."
The most important change would occur in the Middle East, where "decades of putting Israel's interests first" would end.
Jackson believes that, although "Zionists who have controlled American policy for decades" remain strong, they'll lose a great deal of their clout when Barack Obama enters the White House.