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.
At times, ACORN opts for undisguised authoritarian socialism, as when it proposes that “large companies which desire to leave the community” be forced to obtain “an exit visa from the community board signifying that the company has adequately compensated all its employees and the community at large for losses due to relocation.” How much longer before ACORN calls for exit visas for wealthy or middle-class individuals before they can leave a city?
Monday, October 13, 2008
UPDATE 4:15 PM: And then there was a wild 900-plus point rally. Who should be worried about that?
Provide total media accessibility on their campaign planes and buses. Kick most of the aides off and send them out to swing states to work for the state coordinators on getting voters to the polls. Keep just a minimal staff to help organize the press conferences McCain and Palin should have at every stop and the TV interviews they should do at every location. Do town halls, do the Sunday TV shows, do talk radio — and invite Obama and Biden to join them in some of these venues, on the ground that more joint appearances might restore civility and substance to the contest.McCain should do what he used to do -- sit down with the press and talk with them until they have no energy left for more. And he should ask Palin to do the same thing. They'll make headlines, they'll inspire some Obama-leaning voters to rethink, and really they have nothing to lose.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
The financial industry itself is likely to shrink, and that's not a bad thing, either. It has ballooned dramatically in size. Curry points out that "30 percent of S&P 500 profits last year were earned by financial firms, and U.S. consumers were spending $800 billion more than they earned every year. As a result, most of our top math Ph.D.s were being pulled into nonproductive financial engineering instead of biotech research and fuel technology. Capital expenditures went into retail construction instead of critical infrastructure." The crisis will stop the misallocation of human and financial resources and redirect them in more-productive ways. If some of the smart people now on Wall Street end up building better models of energy usage and efficiency, that would be a net gain for the economy.I suspect some of them are also going to do some real rocket science.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Jim Benson plans to declare ownership of an asteroid orbiting between Earth and Mars. And he doesn't much care what the United Nations has to say about it. "If the U.N. doesn't like it, they can send a tank up to my asteroid, which of course they can't," he told the San Francisco Examiner this past February. In an interview with REASON, the 53-year-old entrepreneur is in a less belligerent mood, but the gist of his message remains the same. "There's really no entity to which such a claim of ownership can be made," he explains. "Therefore I believe it just needs to be made to the public in general."
Friday, October 10, 2008
Then, on October 24, J.P. rescued the stock market. That day, the president of the New York Stock Exchange, the intriguingly named Ransom H. Thomas, rushed over to Morgan’s Wall Street office to tell him that some 50 brokerage firms were about to collapse, unless massive rescue funds could somehow be provided. Thomas began talking about shutting the Exchange.
Morgan asked Thomas what time the Exchange normally closed — a datum the financier did not know even though he worked just yards away. (“Stock trading was vulgar,” explains historian Ron Chernow in his book The House of Morgan .) Informed that would be 3 p.m., J.P. wagged a finger at Thomas and commanded, “It must not close one minute before that hour today.”
Thursday, October 9, 2008
"My friends, we face an economic crisis of major and deepening severity. I have supported the rescue plan developed by the Treasury Department, and I have proposed measures to ensure that homeowners receive a helping hand. But I am determined to make sure the free-enterprise system survives and thrives in America, and that means we must rely on markets, no less than government, in working our way out of the current mess. That's why I have determined that when I am President, the government will provide capital to banks by matching the funds that the private sector is willing to invest to finance those banks. There will be no free gifts to the bankers. They will have to earn every penny of federal help they receive."
"Moreover, I am now ready to announce, in advance, my choice of Mitt Romney to be the Treasury Secretary of the United States in a McCain-Palin administration. Mitt was my opponent in the primaries, but we've become friends and colleagues. And, as an expert on corporate restructuring with a history of economic turnarounds, Mitt Romney is the most qualified individual to implement the McCain-Palin solution to the current economic crisis."
Fortunately, one never sees any obnoxious know-nothingism from Obama supporters in more intellectual places like the Upper West Side....
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
This has always, always been a problem for McCain: His strongest instinct, when confronted with any domestic-policy problem, is to find a black hat to pin the blame on and then punish them for it, rather than looking for the smartest possible solution. And in a crisis that nobody really understands, and where the blame for what's happened runs through Main Street as well as Wall Street as Washington, McCain's usual "punish the bad guys" message just doesn't seem like what voters want to hear.McCain should pin blame (rightly) on the Democrats for Fannie Mae and the Community Reinvestment Act, and on Wall Street for too-clever-by-half financial engineering, and then say something like: "Let's have some real straight talk. Irresponsible borrowers helped bring this on, as well. But the key thing now is to fix it."
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
9:55 PM: How about as an answer: "Yes, I think health care should be traded like pork bellies."
9:56 PM: Obama: "I think [health care] should be a right for every American." Translation: Health care providers should be forced to serve you at a government-set price.
9:58 PM: Obama's opposed to letting people shop state by state because all the insurers will go to some state with no regulations. But if people want lots more regs, why would insurers do that?
10:01 PM: A questioner gives McCain a chance to opine on national security.
10:02 PM: Obama has canned answer "There are some things I don't understand..." like why we went into Iraq. Canned but possibly effective.
10:07 PM: McCain mentions times he opposed intervention, e.g. Lebanon, Somalia.
10:11 PM: "Talk softly and carry a big stick" is a solid rejoinder to Obama on Pakistan.
10:12 PM: McCain wants to get public support in Waziristan.
10:13 PM: Obama keeps bridling at the rules. That's a sign he's worried, I think.
10:14 PM: "Green behind the ears"? Shouldn't that be "wet"?
10:22 PM: Obama says he warned about Georgia back in April. I wonder what exactly he predicted.
10:23 PM: Google search obama letter georgia april uncovers nothing of interest.
10:26 PM: What if Iran attacks Israel? I can't imagine Obama is happy with the amount of foreign policy discussion going on.
10:30 PM: Zen-like question: What don't you know and how will you learn it? Generates nothingness answer from Obama.
10:32 PM: "I hope all of you are prepared to continue this extraordinary journey called America." Sorry, can't do that.
10:35 PM: McCain knows what it's like to have other people pick him up and put him back in the fight. And he's still in this fight, I believe.
9:07 PM: McCain off to a good start. A detailed answer on the crisis, including mention of longer-term reforms and debt.
9:10 PM: Obama does a me-too; Warren Buffett for Treasury. Would Buffett's huge assets go into a blind trust?
9:12 PM: McCain emphasizes Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and ties them to Democrats. About time.
9:15 PM: Obama attacks McCain as a deregulator. Tell that to the Ultimate Fighting people.
9:17 PM: McCain talks directly to Obama, something he didn't like to do last time.
9:19 PM: Obama starts answer with "Well, look...." and advises woman to "remember just a little bit of history."
9:20 PM: Obama says he's for a "net spending cut." I'm highly interested in how that will be fact-checked.
9:21 PM: McCain mentions a few of the things--campaign finance reform, climate change legislation--conservatives hate about him.
9:23 PM: The CNN focus group audience loves "energy independence." I'd prefer "energy security" but subtlety is hard to do on national TV.
9:25 PM: Obama's "In 10 years time we are free of dependence on Mideast oil" is much more vague than JFK's moon speech. Most U.S. consumption not from Mideast now, but oil is fungible.
9:30 PM: I wonder how many people know what "earmarks" are.
9:32 PM: Another Obama bad opening: "You know, a lot of you remember 9/11."
9:35 PM: "Nailing jello to the wall." Focus group didn't like that.
9:37 PM: Obama wants to respond, but Brokaw won't let him.
9:39 PM: Obama repeats his "tax cut for 95 percent of Americans" nonsense. About a third of Americans don't pay income taxes as is.
9:42 PM: I wonder if the focus group that responds negatively to anything negative said is (a) telling the truth and (b) representative of anyone else.
9:45 PM: "Nuclear power" is fine. But I'd love to hear McCain say "and we have to explore more long-term possibilities like space solar power."
9:46 PM: Obama just confused "the computer" with "the Internet." He should call Al Gore for clarification.
More to come in another post, maybe.
It was in the Great Depression’s crucible that the classic theories began to take shape. [Benjamin] Graham, who had come to Wall Street in 1914 at age 20, had started a high-flying career as an analyst and money manager but was battered badly by the 1929 Crash. The year before, he had taken up a sideline of teaching at his alma mater, Columbia University , and now his lectures there focused on developing a safer investment strategy. In 1934, Graham and fellow instructor Dodd published Security Analysis, a textbook that soon will be available in a sixth edition issued for its 75th anniversary.
[Philip] Fisher also got a close-up view of the Crash and its aftermath. He began working as an analyst at Anglo & London Bank in San Francisco in the late 1920s, and was head of the institution’s statistics department when the market plunged. In 1931, he started his own investment firm, Fisher & Company, reasoning that customers still in the battered market might be ready at this point for a new broker. Plus, it was a good time to be doing investment research, since managers at hard-hit companies now had more time to talk.
Monday, October 6, 2008
Sunday, October 5, 2008
Gergen also said: "The uniform experience of recent presidents is when you've been in office only a couple of months, your adversaries around the world are going to try to test you. And if they can, they will roll you." That's a key challenge Obama would face as president, and it will be a question of how fast he learns to deal with it. I agree with that, too.
Friday, October 3, 2008
Thursday, October 2, 2008
IFILL: ...Now, let's talk about -- the next question is to talk about the subprime lending meltdown. Who do you think was at fault? I start with you, Gov. Palin. Was it the greedy lenders? Was it the risky home-buyers who shouldn't have been buying a home in the first place? And what should you be doing about it?
PALIN: Darn right it was the predator lenders, who tried to talk Americans into thinking that it was smart to buy a $300,000 house if we could only afford a $100,000 house. There was deception there, and there was greed and there is corruption on Wall Street. And we need to stop that. Again, John McCain and I, that commitment that we have made, and we're going to follow through on that, getting rid of that corruption. One thing that Americans do at this time, also, though, is let's commit ourselves just every day American people, Joe Six Pack, hockey moms across the nation, I think we need to band together and say never again. Never will we be exploited and taken advantage of again by those who are managing our money and loaning us these dollars. We need to make sure that we demand from the federal government strict oversight of those entities in charge of our investments and our savings and we need also to not get ourselves in debt. Let's do what our parents told us before we probably even got that first credit card. Don't live outside of our means. We need to make sure that as individuals we're taking personal responsibility through all of this. It's not the American people's fault that the economy is hurting like it is, but we have an opportunity to learn a heck of a lot of good lessons through this and say never again will we be taken advantage of.UPDATE 10/3, 1:40 PM: Jacob Sullum disagrees, arguing against the very concept of predatory lending: "Exactly what is a predatory lender, and how does he profit by lending money to people who can't pay him back? That sounds more like a stupid lender." How about: lending such that the borrower is on the borderline of being able to pay back; focusing on short-term profits and assuming you won't be in the job once the bill comes due; passing the risks onto other institutions via opaque mortgage-backed securities; assuming the government will bail out your own institution if a lot of borrowers default. These seem like predatory practices to me.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
UPDATE 10/2, 1:40 PM: I recommend Ann Althouse's analyses of the Supreme Court-related answers of Palin and Biden.
UPDATE 10/3, 11:25 PM: Good news.