Monday, September 29, 2008
UPDATE: And this is a good place to store the link to a certain video.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
UPDATE A FEW YEARS LATER: Man, was I wrong. Panic!
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Friday, September 26, 2008
If John McCain is too busy saving America to debate Obama tomorrow, why not send Sarah Palin to take him on? After all, he handpicked her and insists that she is qualified enough to assume the Presidency at any time.I acknowledge that Palin gave an inarticulate answer to Katie Couric's question about what Russia's proximity to Alaska has to do with foreign policy. However, her answer was correct: the maritime border there is an important area of surveillance and potential flashpoint at a time of rising tensions. Journalists and other people who make a living with words should remember that they are much more likely than most people to be scandalized by a poorly worded answer.
UPDATE 2:15 PM: Christopher Beam at Slate has some sound advice for Palin. (Via Althouse.)
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Ironically, this huge government action will be solved by free-market auctions and private sector loan workouts that will pay us back. I don't like it, but sometimes you just have to stop the financial fear. When I spoke to Alexander Hamilton last night about this, he told me it was the right thing to do. Like he did in the 1790s.I don't like it either, but I would do it, too. As for Hamilton, it's a bit unfair that he's become a symbol of government intervention in markets. He also knew when not to intervene. When the question was what to do about the fact that many original holders of Revolution-era debt (often veterans) had sold off at steep discounts, Hamilton had the right answer: Nothing. Instead, the U.S. paid the current bondholders, showing not only that the government would honor its debts but also that it wouldn't arbitrarily reset contracts and property rights after the fact.
UPDATE 10:05AM: The WSJ disagrees. From today's editorial: "Public capital will be needed to refinance the banking system, whether through the FDIC or some other mechanism. Anyone who thinks otherwise doesn't understand the extent of the problem." On the third hand, here's Allan Meltzer from last night's News Hour: "The market people caused this problem. They ought to be the ones that pay the cost of having it cleaned up." (Via Mankiw.) It's been a long time since free-market types were so divided on a major economic issue.
UPDATE 1:00 PM: Buffett calls the crisis an "economic Pearl Harbor" and supports the Paulson plan. He says: "I am betting on Congress doing the right thing for the American public and passing this bill." Interesting, though I wonder if he would have made this investment if he thought it actually would be a bad one in the event no bailout gets passed.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Will my bill be affected?We received assurances by phone and email from RCN repesentatives that this was the case, even though the first RCN rep we called had stated it was not. Now, however, the company has informed us that the first converter box will actually cost $5.95 a month -- and has changed its webpage to make the above statement go down the memory hole. A small matter, maybe, but who wants to do business with such Orwellian incompetents?
Only if you need to get converter boxes for any of your TVs. If you currently have no converter boxes in your home, RCN will provide you one free standard digital converter box (as long as your account is in good standing). Additional boxes are $2.95 per month.
Maybe it's smart positioning to be against the bailout. It's unpopular and, like the Iraq war, will most likely remain so even if it works. And I know conservatives dread having it lorded over them by liberals for the rest of their lives. As Pat Toomey of the Club for Growth put it: "Many politicians are using the current struggle to make free-market capitalism the scapegoat for the economy's troubles when in fact government played a major role in getting us into this mess."
If I were in Congress, I'd vote for the bailout, and then press hard for tax and entitlement reform before the annual deficit hits a trillion.
But I don't think being for the bailout means you're either buying into the efficacy of big government or into the theory that the credit crisis is a free-market failure. Rather than risk a financial collapse, the MellonHeads might want to spend more time making the case how big government caused a mess only big government can fix and how we can avoid a repeat.
UPDATE 2:25PM: Pethokoukis's next post, on his back-and-forth with Newt Gingrich, is worth a read, however.
The US government truly is too big to fail. However, there are disturbing parallels between the factors that led to the sub-prime crisis and the deteriorating financial condition and fiscal foundation of our federal government. These similarities ought to ring an alarm bell for Congress and the presidential candidates. The question is, will they hear it and wake up?If there's one lesson we can't take from the current crisis, it's that government is now too busy for tax reform, entitlement reform and generally getting its own house in order.
Monday, September 22, 2008
I can appreciate the lure of anti-Wall Street populism. Financial institutions bear enormous blame for what's happened, as does government, as do myriad individual borrowers. But bullying banks is not an all-purpose answer to a crisis that will require a great deal of technical expertise (which, incidentally, Cuomo doesn't have). And McCain's fulminations make him sound as clueless as Theodore Roosevelt did during the Panic of 1907 when T.R. exulted that he had those Wall Street types "on the run."
UPDATE 11:40AM: This is better: "McCain 'Deeply Uncomfortable' with Lack of Bailout Oversight."
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.This either is or should be unconstitutional.
They are called "rocket scientists" - financial experts who use innovative and arcane mathematics to weave complicated schemes for making money. Their skills are in high demand at the nation's banks and brokerage firms, but their handiwork is not universally admired. In Congress, concern is growing that one of Wall Street's most lucrative lines of business could bring on a financial crisis that, like the savings and loan debacle, would leave taxpayers stuck with the bill.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Friday, September 19, 2008
Here's something that really ought to grab everyone's attention: McCain supports George W. Bush's idea of channeling at least some Social Security funds into "personal accounts" that individuals would invest on Wall Street. Some of that money would have been entrusted to firms such as Bear Stearns (failed), Lehman Brothers (failed) and Merrill Lynch (sold at a fire sale). Imagine what this crisis would be like if Americans' Social Security benefits were evaporating along with their housing values and their 401(k) accounts.
What such criticism fails to grasp is that Social Security, Medicare and other entitlements are long-term threats to the U.S. government's solvency. It's the Treasury and the Fed that right now are stabilizing failing financial institutions. Their ability to do that over time is in doubt, precisely because of the massive entitlement liabilities borne by the U.S. government. And U.S. bonds as a safe haven only work if there is certainty about the government's ability to pay back.
Entitlement reform is needed to put the government on a sounder fiscal basis so it can deal with, among other things, financial crises. If there's one terrible idea that should not be allowed to come out of the current financial crisis, it's that business as usual in entitlements is fine.
UPDATE 9/20, 3:05PM: Obama repeats the meme.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
I think, however, that the case is yet stronger than Welch's 7 points-with-caveats would suggest. For one thing, McCain and Bush have not "believed the same thing" about entitlements; McCain, unlike the Libertarian presidential candidate, voted against Bush's Medicare expansion into drug coverage.
Moreover, McCain has been an opponent (if not with perfect rhetorical consistency) of agricultural and ethanol subsidies, has taken a generally secular tone on matters of government and religion, favors competition in education, plausibly will put limited-government types on the Supreme Court, and has a healthy suspicion of international bureaucracy. Plus, as I've noted elsewhere, McCain's rhetoric has an underreported individualist streak.
Still, I think Welch makes a lot of good points in his post.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
The 1948 presidential election was another one in which the financial world was prominently at issue. That’s because FDR’s successor, Harry S. Truman, opted to run rather forcefully against Wall Street, in the course of defending his office from the challenge posed by Republican candidate Thomas E. Dewey.
During the campaign, Truman attacked “Wall Street reactionaries” and “gluttons of privilege.” He said a Republican victory would empower “bloodsuckers with offices in Wall Street…princes of privilege…plunderers.” These were, he warned, “the most reactionary elements,” “silent and cunning men,” who would “skim the cream from our natural resources to satisfy their own greed.” They would, he said, “tear the country apart,” and also make it “go to the dogs.”
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Monday, September 15, 2008
UPDATE 9/16 4:15 PM: And there's more on that shrinking New Jersey gap.
That classical liberalism eschews any affection for anarchy in the name of individual liberty. It recognizes the need for state force not only to prevent aggression and enforce contracts, but also to raise (flat) taxes, supply infrastructure and constrain monopoly. The public sector that emerges from a consistent application of these principles is not small potatoes. It easily encompasses a midsized antitrust law, some (modest) form of regulation over network industries like telecommunications and railroads and control of public nuisances through the targeted application of environmental law.
Ah, but the flip side. This approach also seeks to curtail the active use of government power to disrupt the operation of competitive markets with a dizzying set of subsidies, taxes and regulations that usually lower labor productivity by raising administrative costs--all in a fruitless effort to equalize incomes or create job security. The classical liberal works to design political institutions and legal rules to allow government to preserve social order without taking over decisions better served by private institutions and actors.No anarchism. No conspiracy theories. No mindless alienation. No cult of Ron Paul. I think Epstein's out of step with a lot of libertarianism today.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
UPDATE 5:40 PM: Between Sullivan and this, I'm tempted to cancel my Atlantic subscription. Except I pay for it with frequent-flier miles (as do, I suspect, many people) so there'd be no money saved. And the cover story wasn't bad, even if the photographer's too clever by half. (Via Instapundit.)
Two men near the ceremonial fire. Note the flags in the background: U.S., Canadian, and POW/MIA, as well as Native American flags.
Ceremonial dancing. A young man interprets the hunt.
Women dancing. The fringes, we were told, represent members of the tribe.
There were sheep present.
Ringwood Manor was just across a field.
* - Update 4:52 PM: As I link to the official Ramapough Mountain Indians Inc. website, I see the pow wow is not sponsored by them.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Friday, September 12, 2008
I think the honest approach, as David Frum suggests, is that she emphasize that her expertise is in domestic policy, especially involving energy and reform, and that she's learning about foreign policy, knows how to get needed information and assemble a reliable team, and could rise to the task if she were to become president in the next four years. I also think that anyone who's criticizing her lack of foreign-policy expertise but also voted for Bill Clinton in 1992 is incoherent.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
The bigger difference in foreign policy between McCain and Obama, I think, involves dealing with other nations. Whoever's the U.S. president, some nations will be tempted to test U.S. resolve, whether it's China threatening Taiwan, Russia threatening Ukraine, or North Korea threatening South Korea. That temptation will be greater if Obama becomes president, bringing little experience and offering a softer approach. McCain, being a familiar figure and a hard-line type, will be in a better position to prevent international tensions from turning into crises.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
UPDATE 3:15 PM: Plenty more here. I bet some of the pro-Barr people at last June's debate are pretty confused now (I mean, more than they were then).
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
The book I'm currently reading is short but dense: Imagining the Future: Science and American Democracy, by Yuval Levin.
Monday, September 8, 2008
For days, the derision poured down from Democratic party talking heads and much of the media too. The idea that “this woman” might be vice-president or even president was literally incomprehensible. The popular liberal comedian Bill Maher, whose act is an endless sneer at the Republican party, noted that John McCain’s case for the presidency was that only he was capable of standing between the US and its enemies, but that should he die he had chosen “this stewardess” to take over. This joke was not – or not only – a complaint about lack of experience. It was also an expression of class disgust. I give Mr Maher credit for daring to say what many Democrats would only insinuate.Someone needs to get this memo at The Atlantic.
Saturday, September 6, 2008
Friday, September 5, 2008
The too-sectarian Maliki government looks less good in the book, as do the generals and admirals who opposed the surge. The Bush administration gets favorable treatment only insofar as it managed to reverse some of its own mistakes. The politicians who were ready to pull out, damn the consequences, are mentioned only in passing, and will find little comfort in this book.
Conservatives believe in the pursuit of personal, political and economic freedom for everyone. We believe that free people may voluntarily unite, but cannot be compelled to do so, and that the limited government that results best protects our individual freedom. In health care, we believe in enhancing the freedom of individuals to receive necessary and desired care. We do not believe in coercion and the use of state power to mandate care, coverage or costs. -- Des Moines Rotary Lunch, October 11, 2007
So it’s important that we remind ourselves that limited government and the rule of law are more than the arid cliches of partisan political debate. In fact, they are the essential underpinnings of our freedom, and the principles for which the Federalist Society has been fighting since its formation over 25 years. To lose either would be to lose freedom, for they are our strongest bulwarks against tyranny. -- Remarks to Federalist Society, November 16, 2006
Tough times can breed fear, and the Democrats are using those fears to push an agenda that is tired, dangerous, and will rob us of economic freedom. Once again, they want the government to make our choices for us -- not respect our dreams, and trust our decisions on how best to seize our opportunities. -- Prosperity Michigan Summit, January 12, 2008
I intend to do that by fighting for the principles and policies I believe best serve the interests of the American people: for a government that takes and spends less of your money and competently discharges its responsibilities; that shows a proper respect for our rights and values; that provides a strong and capable defense; that encourages the enterprise and ingenuity of individuals, businesses and families, who know best how to advance America's economy, and secure the dreams that have made us the greatest nation in history. -- Potomac Primary Victory Party, February 13, 2008
More substantively, Gillespie writes that McCain "really leaves me cold with the emphasis on service and communitarian-type ideals." To a degree, I share that sentiment too. I'm not as libertarian as the people I used to collaborate with at Reason, but as a McCain supporter I would like to hear more from the candidate about how a sense of national and community solidarity is needed in a free, individualistic society, precisely to protect that freedom and individualism.
Lest anyone say that this is not McCain's view, I refer them to his statement after the Kelo Supreme Court case that "individual liberty and the free market are paramount."
UPDATE 2:53PM: And see post above.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Palin didn't explain what the Republican ticket would do differently from the current Republican administration and past Republican Congresses. For example, the words Social Security, Medicare, national debt, the deficit and the Constitution didn't pass her lips. Yet Social Security and Medicare alone face an unfunded liability of more than $100 trillion. The national debt runs $9.5 trillion. The deficit next year will be a half trillion dollars.Who was it again who voted to add prescription drug coverage to Medicare?
UPDATE 12:43PM: The Intrade chart is an active feed (I wasn't sure if it would download that way or as a snapshot), so the data from "last night" (late Sept. 3/early Sept. 4) will soon be gone. But it's an interesting chart to keep an eye on.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Romney -- So-so. Nothing terrible, just nothing particularly good.
Huckabee -- Very appealing, funny and with a surprising emphasis on limited government.
Giuliani -- Witty and smart, though some of the wording ("we'll be safe in [McCain's] hands") was not to my liking.
Palin -- I had high expectations, and she met them. And seeing the entire family, including daughter's fiance, onstage afterwards was a perfect rejoinder to the mud-throwers.
I guess by the standards some people are now applying to Sarah Palin, I should have stormed out of those events. After all, I'm not a Catholic or a Hasidic Jew, so what was I doing there? By the way, I'm not a spiritualist either; I guess I should have wrestled one of the Lily Dale cold readers to the ground.
UPDATE 11:37 AM: Lorie Byrd draws out the implications (via Althouse). Excerpts:
Television viewers/voters who might otherwise have turned the channel to HGTV or Sci Fi channel or Spike when the convention airs tonight, will watch the Palin speech to see what all the fuss is about. Some will be curious to see America's hottest governor, others will watch to catch a glimpse of Bristol's baby bump in the crowd or a shot of her handsome young hockey player fiance. Others will watch to see if she is really the "Dan Quayle in a skirt" they have been hearing about. Some will even be interested in her take on the issues....
If Palin performs even half as well as she did in Ohio last week (without a teleprompter much less) they will find out that in addition to being a mayor she has (to paraphrase a friend of Christopher Orr) played tough with "Big Oil" as head of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission negotiating a proposed Alaska natural gas pipeline, exposed corruption in her own party, cut taxes and wasteful spending, slaughtered an incumbent governor in a primary with a 30 point margin of victory and won the general over a former Democratic governor. She will no doubt list many of her other life experiences, both personal and professional, that have prepared her for the vice presidency.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
And in time, I came to see my faith as being both a personal commitment to Christ and a commitment to my community; that while I could sit in church and pray all I want, I wouldn't be fulfilling God's will unless I went out and did the Lord's work.
Monday, September 1, 2008
from saying that "Ethanol does nothing to reduce fuel consumption, nothing to increase our energy independence, nothing to improve air quality" (2003), to saying that a McCain administration would focus on "creating new markets for farmers by providing incentives to create low carbon auto fuels like ethanol" (2007).But McCain was consistent in his opposition to ethanol subsidies. Here's a report from December 2007, shortly before the Iowa caucus:
The presidential candidate voiced his opposition to ethanol subsidies during a recent speech before an energy group in Virginia and during a debate this week in Des Moines, Iowa....
McCain has said he supports creating a market environment to encourage production of ethanol and other alternative fuels, but not government subsidies.
And McCain was no less clear in his opposition to ethanol subsidies last month.Welch also complains that McCain wrote "God has given us...life, shown us how to use it, but left it to us to dispose of as we choose," and later wrote the following about Charles Darwin: "It is hard for me to appreciate the history he made without seeing in its accomplishment the hand of providence....God is not indifferent to our suffering nor has He left us bereft of hope." How these sentiments are supposed to be contradictory is left unexplained. And I don't see how either contradict McCain's characterization of Paul Weyrich as "a pompous, self-serving son of a bitch."
Who benefits most from Welch's ill-informed, ill-considered rants? It's not Reason's readers.