Former President Bill Clinton was in Denver, Colorado, stumping for his wife yesterday.
In a long, and interesting speech, he characterized what the U.S. and other industrialized nations need to do to combat global warming this way: "We just have to slow down our economy and cut back our greenhouse gas emissions 'cause we have to save the planet for our grandchildren."
At a time that the nation is worried about a recession is that really the characterization his wife would want him making? "Slow down our economy"?
Karl Popper talks about those who would have us go back to the caves. Instapundit links to the threat of a new ice age.
I think Dan Henninger pens the first political obituary of the Romney campaign. Premature or prescient? I post, you decide. For the record, it is unusual for the Deputy Ed Page Editor's work to appear in Political Diary. Was he burning to get this out or is Rupert reworking the org chart. I post -- oh never mind:
At last night's (blessedly) final Republican presidential debate, Mitt Romney had the look, and sound, of someone who knows it's over. While predictions in this political season have become a fool's game, I am going to venture that no matter how many states he competes in, Gov. Romney knows he will never close the five-point gap that separated him from John McCain in New Hampshire and now Florida.
Last night the famous Matinee Mitt smile of self-confidence seemed to have been replaced by a more relaxed, wistful glance over at the Arizona Senator seated next to him. That resigned, tight smile said something: I am smarter than you are, Senator, on virtually every issue other than who ran Pakistan 10 years ago, but I am still losing. Why?
Here's why. As was clear again in last night's debate, Gov. Romney's message on the campaign trail or on TV was a perpetual data-dump. Yes, Mitt was smarter than the other guys, but he had the smartest-kid-in-the-class malady of compulsively trying to show off his brain with what in the end merely amounted to a lot of policy details, a lot of "stuff." Did anyone ever understand his explanation of his Massachusetts health care reform?
Result: His message was disorganized. The bumper sticker was "Let Mitt Fix Washington," but the Mitt fix itself came across to audiences as a grab-bag of analysis, nostrums and pieces of supporting data pulled randomly from some folder in his brain. As Mike Huckabee might put it, the bane of the Romney candidacy was Bain & Company. Bain is the consulting firm where by his own admission Mr. Romney learned how to think about the world -- through the eyes of a management consultant. As any CEO who has ever hired one of these firms will tell you, they are fascinating guys to talk to but you wouldn't want them actually running your company.
The Romney candidacy never quite came into focus. Yeah, fix Washington, but beyond that a blizzard of technocratic data at every whistlestop. One can see why he'd be maddened losing to the almost stolid McCain candidacy. But no one could miss the McCain message: national honor, a duty to fulfill the nation's responsibilities and the real and present danger of an external threat. It's a mindset they teach in the military but not in consulting: Keep it simple, stupid.
Mitt couldn't. He's done.
UPDATE: John Fund, in the same PD, says that the campaign is not buying media.
The GOP debates have lost 50 points off their mean IQ since Rudy! and Fred! left.
On paper, I was committed to supporting my third choice, and I am pragmatic enough that I probably will do the GOP thang this year, BUT --- But I was extremely disappointed with the debates last night. I tuned in late and don't know if I perhaps missed "the good parts." But what I saw made me nauseous.
Last week's Weekly Standard has an amusing cover illustration of Senators Clinton and Obama on playground swings, scowling at each other. But the Dems looked like Lincoln and Douglas compared to the Mitt! and John! show last night. They both appear petty and small and everything but presidential. They make Rep. Paul and Governor Huckabee look good, I'll give them that.
McCain actually ridiculed Romney for working in the private sector! "While I was serving my country, he was making money, and selling companies, and I think some people lost their jobs..." IT'S CALLED CAPITALISM SENATOR!!! ASK PHIL GRAMM TO 'SPLAIN IT TO YOU!
Governor Romney did nothing to capture my support while I was wavering on McCain. He was gonna "run the economy" 'cause he's such a good manager. Rep. Paul laid that claim to waste, nicely, but then -- on cue -- launched into a pessimistic rant about how we're broke and the dollar is worthless, and what can’t these people see how bad everything is...
The final question in the Reagan library, with Reagan's Air Force One behind them, was "Why would Reagan endorse you." Romney was certain of it, 'cause he's gonna amend the Constitution for life and for marriage. McCain was equally sure it was he, 'cause he doesn't flip flop. Paul said that President Reagan had campaigned for him in the house -- a nice play without the bravado of the other two. Then Governor Huckabee said it "would be presumptuous to assume he would be endorsed" which was the right answer. I could not help but think of Reagan’s 11th commandment: don't speak ill of other Republicans. Romney and McCain will need to say a few Our Madisons in restitution.
A grim, grisly, awful night to be a Republican. On the other hand, did you see Senator Obama's "Response to the SOTU?"
Just because McCain can poke Mitt in the eye is no indication he'll be as effective with Putin, a remarkable number of whose enemies wind up splattered on the sidewalk outside their apartment house after opting for a strangely uniform manner of fatal auto-defenestration.
Although, oddly enough, after tonight's debate, I'm tempted to join them.
A nurse admitted Wednesday he plucked body parts from 244 corpses in Philadelphia and helped forge paperwork so the parts, some of them diseased, could be used in unsuspecting patients.
Lee Cruceta, 35, of Monroe, N.Y., was the lead cutter in a group that trafficked in more than 1,000 stolen body parts for the lucrative transplant market, authorities say.
Cruceta pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiracy, taking part in a corrupt organization, abuse of a corpse and 244 counts each of theft and forgery.
Prosecutors also expect accused ringleader Michael Mastromarino, 44, of New York, to plead guilty, Assistant Philadelphia District Attorney Bruce Sagel told a judge.
Mastromarino, a former oral surgeon, paid funeral directors $1,000 per corpse, then sold the parts to tissue banks, Sagel said. The body parts fetched up to $10,000 apiece, though the tissue banks resold them to hospitals for many times that amount, he said.
Actually, I think if more people were allowed to sell the body parts (post-death, where applicable), there would be a lot more available for transplants etc.
Gruesome? Well... not as much as other "procedures" in medicine today. Certainly not as icky as the under-the-radar corpse trade.
Think about it.
You could sell a kidney, while you're still alive. Yes, the kidneys would go to the highest bidders. But as more kidneys came on the market (we've all got a spare), prices would fall.
Right now your drivers license says "ORGAN DONOR"... what if it said "ORGAN SELLER"?
Hospitals would then get a cut (heh) of the cost for handling fees. Brokers would be around to take care of the transaction. An entire on-the-up-and-up economy would be born.
Side benny is that people would take care of their gear to fetch the best price.
"Low cholesterol?" Clean bill of sale.
"Low weight?" Mo' money.
"No smoking?" Cough up the cash.
Altruism only gets you so far, that's why we have waiting lists... but people are dying all the time.
No links here kids, just my loveable prose to get some stuff off my chest. You see, my GOP primary candidate didn't make it in the early primaries because he started too late and didn't work hard enough. And JK's candidate didn't make it because ... he started too late and didn't work hard enough. Now it's a "two-man race" between Mac and Romney. Nope. It's done.
Romney has the goods to continue the challenge to the senior statesman from Arizona but GOP voters are already in the tank for the "war hero, maverick, straight-talker" who, by the way, "deserves it." (Just ask Florida's Mel Martinez.) And no one wants to contemplate the pouting he'll indulge in if he isn't nominated this time, much less witness it. And why wouldn't he pout? After all, he "deserves it." (Just ask Chris Matthews.) He's as close as this country now has to political royalty, at least in the GOP.
But what about the man who changes his tune on tax cuts to appeal to conservative voters while at the same time calling his opponent a flip-flopper?" Or the man who says the President's most important job is to protect the American people, but says dipping foreign terrorists upside down in water up to their eyeballs is "torture?" OK, I guess he "deserves it" because he's been a Senator for a long time and knows how to "get things done in Washington." Problem is, that's what frightens me - I worry about what Prince McCain might get done if he becomes King.
On the positive side I should appreciate his relative secularity versus Mitt. (Take that Bill O'Reilly!) He'll be less dogmatic on social issues, which suits me just fine and gives him something to compromise with Democrats over. And, of utmost importance, he's pro-Second Amendment.
So since the train has already left the station I suppose I'll print my "Don't Blame Me - I Caucused for Fred!" bumper stickers and warily grab onto the caboose of McCain Train.
I appreciate your post, hb, but please indulge me. I find this to be one of the greatest political speeches in recent memory. I encourage everybody to watch to all the way through. I remembered one of the reasons that I supported Hizzoner: eloquence. We need somebody who can explain the benefits of liberty (listen at least to 5:30 - 6:30; and 8:00 - 10:00).
I think the GOP has made a mistake, but I've lost before and I will pick up the pieces and move on. Go McCain!
Rudy's loser speech -- filled with "self-government," school choice, broadsides against "the central government" -- is better than anything I've heard from him all season.
Indeed. I always felt that the mayor's strength was on economic issues and arguments for freedom. Unfortunately, he made national security his central issue even when the economy became the number one concern of voters (and despite the fact that he has no national security experience). Sorry jk, your man is gone now too. Equally unfortunate is that it seems that my prediction about McCain is starting to come true. The Republican Party as we knew it is dead -- at least until we get a real candidate (hopefully) in 2012.
Here's a thought to chill Andrew [Stuttaford]: Is Barack the new Blair? That is, if elected, will he be able (like Tone's first ministry) to push through big transformative changes under cover of the sheer dazzle of his glamor?
My trouble is that I cannot follow through. I truly share this belief and feel the cause of freedom hinges on my supporting Senator Clinton. But I do love to see her lose.
This site has semantic analysis on all the SOTU speeches (not yet counting last night's). Each is analyzed for length and grade level required for comprehension. Each has a "word cloud" visualization of important words in the speech, and a mouseover shows the number of times they appear.
What do Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison and entertainment mogul David Geffen have in common? Huge bank accounts and no student loans. These industry leaders are some of the most successful people in business and none of them has a college degree.
A good friend of mine and a good friend of this blog sends a link to an obituary in the Denver Post, with the subject "We have known giants." I took German from this man in High School. But I was an absolute idiot because he taught Russian, Latin and Classics before and after school and I did not sign up.
Martin Globocnik, 88, passed away on January 17, 2008. He is survived by his beloved wife, Vera. Born August 1, 1919 in Cerklje, Slovenia, Martin taught at various elementary and high schools in Slovenia, Italy, and Colorado. He survived Italian and German POW camps during WWII and came to marry Vera Martelanc February 2, 1954, in Trieste, Italy. In 1955 they immigrated to the US and settled in Colorado. Martin taught languages at Machebeuf H.S. from 1962-1982. His passion was Latin. Martin's students competed in national events and won numerous honors. A devoted Catholic, Martin fled his Slovenian homeland as the Communists came to power. He is also survived by various nieces and nephews in Slovenia and Italy.
He was the real deal as a scholar and as an inhabitant of this wonderful planet. A thin, small, academic-looking fellow, he had also escaped from friendly POW camps because of intelligence work. When I was in school, he was indefatigable in his efforts to teach, raise funds for the school, and impact his students. A giant.
I am pretty grouchy with our buddies in the pollster business. The FOX31 weather team has a better record and they told me it was gonna snow today (blue skies and sun out my window).
It disturbs me that these guys who -- let's be fair -- don't know their ass from their elbow, are telling Florida voters that "it's a two man race." Primary voters might try to vote strategically. If I (still) lived in Florida, I would be tempted. All the lost votes will come out of the totals for my favored candidate, Mayor Giuliani.
Have I given up? No, but if the pollsters successfully predict or create a two man race, I am ready to switch my allegiance to Senator McCain. Stephen Moore has a nice piece on him in the Political Diary today, on his "economics education." He admits the votes against the Bush tax cuts were wrong, but:
But Mr. McCain has arguably the best stable of economic advisers in the race, with only Rudy Giuliani's team rivaling him in economic expertise. His primary confidant on the economy is former Texas Sen. Phil Gramm (who would almost certainly be Treasury secretary in a McCain administration). Jack Kemp has signed up with Mr. McCain, and Mr. McCain talks frequently to his longtime friend, the godfather of supply-side economics, Arthur Laffer.
The big source of agitation for conservative voters over the past several years has been the federal spending explosion. Here, Senator McCain has teamed with Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, another endorser of the Arizona Senator, to cut more than $100 billion out of the federal budget. He has voted with Mr. Coburn on nearly every anti-pork measure introduced in the last several years. "I will cut the budget more than any other Republican," he told me in an interview late this summer when his poll numbers were in the tank. "Maybe that's what makes so many people nervous about me."
Mr. McCain is also an unwavering supporter of two other issues critical to the economic future of the nation: free trade and school choice. Education is always an issue foremost on the mind of the key "soccer mom" suburban vote. "The day that members of Congress will send their kids to the public schools in Washington, D.C., is the day I'll know we've fixed education in America," he has told me. "Why won't people like Hillary Clinton send her child to the public schools in Washington, D.C.?" Great question, and one he should save for a debate with Hillary if the two are the nominees.
One thing I've never heard addressed by the DAWG crowd: Isn't the added CO2 good for plants?
Terri at I Think ^(Link)... links to an item on treehugger.com that says the additional carbon dioxide provides a longer and more productive season for trees.
Scientists have been at a loss to account for why the traditional autumnal spectacle of disheveled trees and changing colors has gotten gradually pushed back over the last few years. Some have attributed the delayed autumnal senescence to increasing global temperatures; others have attributed it to the length of day.
David F. Karnosky, a professor at Michigan Technological University, believes rising atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide may be to blame — and, perhaps surprisingly, to thank. Karnosky explains that delaying senescence may in fact be good news for forestry industries since it prolongs the trees' growing season. The extra carbon dioxide taken up in the autumn, in addition to that taken up during the growing season, would also boost their productivity.
Dave Barry tells his fellow Floridians that it's time to stand up and be counted, unless you're a Democrat. He explains the contests so far, better than most, then sizes up the Democrat and Republican races:
THE REPUBLICAN RACE: It's still wide open. Mitt ''Mitt'' Romney holds a slight edge in delegates, plus a heifer he got for winning Wyoming. Right behind him are John McCain, Chuck Norris and the late Ronald Reagan.
Bringing up the rear is Rudy, who needs a win and has been frantically courting Florida voters. He's mowing your lawn right now.
THE DEMOCRATIC RACE: It's down to Obama vs. Clinton, and it's getting nasty. They hate each other, with the kind of passionate hatred that you see only between two people who hold essentially the same positions on everything. Edwards is still running, but at this point they don't even bother to put a microphone on him for the debates. He just waves his arms to indicate how he's going to take on the big corporations.
Although I still feel that President Hillary Clinton could do less damage to the cause of liberty than President Barack Obama, it does not mean that I don't love seeing Her Collectivistness lose big. I saw her speech in Tennessee, where she said that "now the eyes of the nation are focused on Tennessee" when the eyes were clearly focused on the Palmetto State, where she was losing about two to one. Her voice was raspy and her presence uncharming.
"The choice in this election is not about regions or religions or genders," Obama said at a boisterous victory rally. "It's not about rich versus poor, young versus old and it's not about black versus white. It's about the past versus the future."
Senator Edwards came in third in his home state. Though PowerLine notes: "[T]here's some solace for Edwards. According to Fox News, exit polling shows that he did well among voters who favor the war in Iraq and think the economy is in good shape."
Anybody who is not having fun this year is simply not trying. On to Florida!
Given that, BARACK OBAMA is the best Democrat to lead this nation past the nasty, partisan, Washington-as-usual politics that have blocked consensus on Iraq; politics that never blinked at the greedy, subprime mortgage schemes that could spawn a recession; politics that have greatly diminished our country's stature in the world.
Obama inspires people to action. And while inspiration alone isn't enough to get a job done, it's a necessary ingredient to begin the hard work.
Obama's appeal to Americans to have the audacity to hope, even in the face of tragedies such as 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, has fallen on fertile ground. Americans want desperately to believe they can overcome any difficulty - given the right leadership.
Wow. I didn't know that 9/11 and Katrina still have to be overcome.
Why stop there? I have the audacity to hope we can overcome the metric system and rainy days.
The GOP race has devolved frequently into a shameless contest to see who can bash illegal immigrants the loudest. McCain, who represents a border state, has resisted this pandering to the Republican base. He supports giving illegals a pathway to citizenship, when taking a harsher position would clearly win him more primary voters.
The former prisoner of war in Vietnam has stood tall against the Bush administration's condoning of torture for enemy combatants. He dared speak out against former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's mismanagement of the war in Iraq - although McCain's willingness to keep U.S. troops there indefinitely is wrong, too.
McCain has shown an ability to learn from mistakes. Accused of intervening on behalf of a campaign contributor in the 1980s' savings and loan scandal, he later took up the banner of campaign finance reform. He waged a lonely battle in his party, pushing through the landmark McCain-Feingold law in 2002.
McCain was among the first in his party to treat global warming as a serious problem. He's also been a consistent fiscal hawk in Congress.
Incredibly, the Inquirer goes on to list his bad traits.
Hugh Hewitt has made a lot of marginal complaints about Senator McCain (It's almost as if he might be pulling for Governor Romney a little bit), but I have to admit that this one is spot on. I'm glad he supported The Surge and General Petraeus, but his attacks of Secretary Rumsfeld go a little too far:
Only small-minded people think Rumsfeld is other than a great American and patriot, though of course a controversial one. He continues to deserve the respect and thanks of the American people.
I thus wonder whenever Senator McCain snarls out "Rumsfeld" as he does in debate after debate if others beside me find it unsettling and off-putting that there is so much venom there? Rumsfeld was an opponent of McCain's and as a result the contempt the Arizona maverick has for the former SecDef is complete, but it is also unseemly and not in the best traditions of American politics, especially when Rumsfeld has left the field.
I think Rumsfeld was right about modernizing the military and was right about smaller footprints and greater use of smart weapons. I'll concede that he facilitated the plan to wait out the increasing factional violence after the Golden Dome of Samarra bombing, but I don't know that he wasn't getting bad data and advice from the field.
I do get uneasy when Senator McCain goes after a man who has given this country honorable and intelligent service.
I waited all day for our resident Prosperitarian to post this but was left wanting. I guess my stilted analysis will have to do.
Blog favorite Arthur Laffer writes on today's WSJ Ed page of 'The Tax Threat to Prosperity' wherein Democrats want to "soak the rich" to return the federal treasury to surpluses and make milk and honey run in the streets. But then reality took over:
Using recent data, in other words, it would appear on its face that the Democratic proposal to raise taxes on the upper-income earners, and lower taxes on the middle- and lower- income earners, will result in huge revenue losses on both accounts. But some academic advisers to Democratic candidates have a hard time understanding the obvious, devising outlandish theories as to why things are different now. Well they aren't!
And this doesn't even count the oft-disputed supply side effects:
Even these data grossly understate the total supply-side response. A cut in the highest tax rates will increase lots of other tax receipts. It will lower government spending as a consequence of a stronger economy with less unemployment and less welfare. It will have a material, positive impact on state and local governments. And these effects will only grow with time.
Laffer ends with an ominous warning:
Mark my words: If the Democrats succeed in implementing their plan to tax the rich and cut taxes on the middle and lower income earners, this country will experience a fiscal crisis of serious proportions that will last for years and years until a new Harding, Kennedy or Reagan comes along.
From Pajamas Media, where Michael Weiss "charts the pandemic disillusionment with Bill Clinton — especially on the liberal-left."
Clinton likes to blame the media, but how can the media help itself? The aged and flabby Mr. Slick thunders and grumbles about the youthful and lean Mr. Smooth – copy like this doesn’t just hand itself to you every four years.
The New York Times has endorsed John McCain for the Republican nomination. Well, if you can call it that. The editorial begins:
We have strong disagreements with all the Republicans running for president. The leading candidates have no plan for getting American troops out of Iraq. They are too wedded to discredited economic theories and unwilling even now to break with the legacy of President Bush. We disagree with them strongly on what makes a good Supreme Court justice.
What discredited economic theories? Free markets? Low taxes? These are not discredited in the least. I would also point out that contrary to popular belief the Democrats have no plan for getting American troops out of Iraq and that is one of their stated goals.
Regardless of the content, this isn't likely to play well with conservatives who are already disheartened by Sen. McCain.
I missed the point on this Kinder Gentler Capitalism thing. Google-dot-org has 1% of its parent’s profits to fix the world. I suggested that the incentives and methods for efficiently allocating resources would be lacking in this new, sweet corporate world. Clearly, I was wrong:
The process of determining what to finance was not easy, said Jacquelline Fuller, the head of advocacy at Google.org. Beginning in the spring of 2007, “the 20 team members had 20 ideas.” Team members, she said, “debated, cried and held hands as we tried to determine what kind of difference we could make.” It took them almost a year to winnow down the list.
Twenty people “debated, cried and held hands" for almost a year to establish priorities? I'll never compain about meetings at work again.
Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates is my favorite capitalist. I run with a UNIX crowd that exists to counter the evil Borg from Redmond, so I have to be careful what I say. But my life has been so positively impacted by Gates, I have to admire him.
I'm fond of asking my lefty friends who did more good: Mother Theresa or Bill Gates? Gates left dozens -- probably hundreds -- of millionaires in his wake, enabled my career and now my ability to pursue part of it from home in spite of disability, and ultimately empowered me to blog and to record my own music. Remove the inexpensive OS from the world and it is considerably darker.
Sad to say, Mr. Gates will not participate in the unabashed celebration of capitalism I offer in his name. Too many glasses of Château l'Fete with Mr. Buffet?
There's a gem of truth in there. Capitalism is certainly the best method for helping people. But I am saddened that he sees doing good and doing well as different enterprises. He doesn't hold the Friedmanite belief that a Corporation should maximize its asset value. Gates clearly wants some corporate resources devoted to fuzzy concerns.
But these will be immeasurable and unaccountable -- subject to none of the forces that made Microsoft and its impact. We need to turn to the words of Nancy Reagan: "Kinder and Gentler than Whom?"
UPDATE II: Don Luskin: "Translation: the old form of capitalism was fine for me, making me the richest man in the world. Now that I've got that position, though, let's change the rules for everyone else."
UPDATE III: Larry Kudlow wonders about the differences between free market countries and Venezuela:
It appears Gates is ignoring the global spread of free-market capitalism that has successfully lifted hundreds of millions of people up from poverty and into the middle class over the last decade or so. Think China. Think India. Think Eastern Europe (and maybe even France under Sarkozy). Gates wants business leaders to dedicate more time to fighting poverty. But the reality is that economic freedom is the best path to prosperity. Period.
Yesterday Ms. Rodham Clinton had some things to say about how American consumer spending is to blame for the "global economic crisis" that disrupted international equity markets beginning Monday and that ultimately, you guessed it: it's Bush's fault.
The huge losses in Europe on Monday -- which caused fright throughout the rest of the world -- probably were caused as much, if not more, by Societe Generale unwinding what had been a big long position [related to a securities fraud scheme] in Europe's top stock-market indexes than by any concern about the broader economy.
That's not to say that the fears of a U.S. recession aren't valid. But the market's recovery from lows earlier this week hints that perhaps those concerns were overblown.
I do not understand how candidates do so poorly in state primaries that they do not contest or work toward. I can see your average Iowan or New Hampshireman getting teed off if you don't "work every county." But why did the whole pack do so poorly in Nevada? Why, when Mayor Giuliani was leading the national polls, did he rack up so many single digit finishes?
I know I am hopeless, but it seems that anybody who would bother to vote in a primary would look over all the candidates. Every four years, the masses vote for the tallest guy or the best hair. But primary voters? I know I am showing naiveté, and I've no doubt Bryan Caplan's book will soon be suggested (read it, thanks!) But I am stupefied.
It comes up in a comment thread debate on Samizdata. Dale Amon is happy to see Rep. Paul come in second. From his home in Belfast, Dale sees a glorious awakening of the Libertarians! NED be praised! The commenters swiftly point out that there were only two men in the race, and that Paul actually came in last. The Paulistas, and some Samizdats (Sounds like a Lerner and Lowe Musical...) rejoin that the debates are televised in Nevada and that several members were on the ballot. How can I explain to furreners why a guy who doesn't run ads will not get any votes -- I really don't understand it myself.
I certainly don't object to advocacy for a primary candidate on a blog, but Hugh Hewitt has gone from driving me nuts on immigration to driving me nuts with his being so in the tank for Governor Romney.
I've admitted flaws with my candidate. Grown up politicking to me is finding the best match on your most important issues, then tempering that with pragmatic concerns. It's not the height of idealism, but it keeps me out of the Kucinich caucus. Hewitt posts three to six rah-rah puff pieces a day on Saint Romney from the Commonwealth. I'd have to concede that it has turned me less favorable to Mitt!, whom I admire and have much common ground.
Today, Hugh links to an article on McCain's money woes with the line "Genuine front-runners don't have to crisscross the country with a tin cup days before a crucial primary."
Nope, "genuine" front runners write themselves a check for a bazillion dollars. Of course, others could find interested parties to fund their campaigns if it weren't for campaign finance reform. Whose fault is that? Oh, yeah...
Larry Kudlow offers great sense for investors during the current uber-volatility: buy and hold.
I always recommend buying broad stock market indexes. For example, the Dow Jones Wilshire 5000 or the S&P 500. Owning international indexes also makes sense, including emerging-market indexes. A package like this gives investors good diversification, keeps it simple, and covers the world.
I don’t foresee the overthrow of free-market capitalism, and not even Senator Clinton will bring back state-run socialism. Folks who bought the market in late 1987and held it for twenty years did extremely well. I don’t recommend timing the cycles, and certainly not trading on a daily or short-term basis. The idea is to stay long-term.
That's me. I love to watch Kudlow but I am the world's dullest. dollar-averagin' broad ETF-buyin' investor. I'm not selling, I'm buying. Jg is fishing for some John Deere shares on sale, I hope to fund my IRA this week with some more S&P500 indexed, dividend indexed, and international ETFs. If it goes down some more next week, that’s life. Larry and I know it will come back.
I'm struck by how little attention some market experts are paying to this. Don Luskin has a nice post bashing Paul Krugman today and a lengthy and thoughtful endorsement of Rep. Ron Paul yesterday. Larry has the short post I excerpted. I don't see them jumping off buildings.
CNBC, in contrast, is in full panic mode. Imagine FOX if a dozen pretty white women were missing. Kudlow & Company was preempted last night so that less stable commentators could have more time. Larry sat at the desk, and a handful of his regular guests were available, but the producers went around the world to hear financial journalists in London, Davos, and Hong Kong predict the future.
They would have done their viewers a far better service to provide an hour of Kudlow's thoughtful rationality.
I seriously feel for the Fred!heads around here. One invests in a candidate (unless one's name rhymes with "Schmergeron") and I know your disappointment. My fondest hope is that it dissipates as quickly for you as my support of Rep. John Kasich did in 2000. I hope Senator Thompson's policy proposals carry on and I'd be happy to see him talked into a second spot on the ticket.
But super-duper-most-awesome-primary-tueday-ever Tuesday is on the way, and I would like to pitch Hizzoner as a fallback.
Mayor Giuliani has a deep appreciation of the War. His calling it "The War the Terrorists Declared On Us" lacks pithiness, but displays understanding. Senator McCain shares this depth of conviction, but I do not think he exceeds it. Governors Huckabee and Romney aren't Cindy Sheehans or anything but I do not hear their conviction to the work of our lifetime.
Mayor Giuliani has a deep appreciation for free market economics. He knows that what made cell phones cheap will do wonders for health care. He calls for lower taxes and less regulation. My Prosperitarian heart swoons. Senator McCain voted against the Bush tax cuts. I am glad he is a spending hawk, but we are pricing our country out of the global business market and I am not convinced Senator McCain understands. Governor Romney pushes his business experience and understanding (Ross Perot?) but I have not heard a lot about economics. His mandate for health care in Massachusetts speaks against him.
Senator McCain is an American Hero and would be a superb Commander in Chief. I am troubled by his stands on Global Warming, free speech, ANWR, Guantanamo Bay, and "torture."
Governor Romney has had a good career in the private sector and in government, but he is ultimately a tactician and manager -- not a visionary or ideologue. Washington has a nasty habit of turning those people into consensus politicians and the Governor's career shows a susceptibility to that.
Governor Huckabee has a [oh never mind...]
On the bad side, Rudy is squishy on guns. Reading the WSJ today, it looks like Bush messed up badly. I think Hizzoner would nominate conservative, constructionist judges (he told Larry that he would have been proud to come up with Alito and Roberts as picks -- that's a good sign) and hope he does a good job on Solicitor General. I don't see Romney, Huckabee, or McCain doing any better.
I know he's considered authoritarian by some folks. If you're an ACLU-er maybe he's not your guy. I'm comfortable with strong defense and intelligence. It is hard for me to see any of the others stacking up in security.
You can chuckle or chortle. I'm put at ease at ease by the fact that he is not a moralist. I don't think we'll see Faith Based Initiatives, or abstinence programs, or a marriage amendment out of Rudy. He's not going to throw stones out of his house. All the same, he's not a man who lacks integrity like a President Clinton.
Good foreign policy, good economics. decent on the proper role of government. Likable, electable, hard for his opposition to pigeonhole.
UPDATE: I don't link to Dennis Prager everyday but he has a nice endorsement for Rudy! on Townhall.com.
It pains me to type those names together, but that is the title of a Roger Kimball piece that he has revised and reposted in honor of Senator Clinton's comments that we noted yesterday.
The urgency with which Hayek condemns socialism is a function of the importance of the stakes involved. As he puts it in his last book The Fatal Conceit , the “dispute between the market order and socialism is no less than a matter of survival” because “to follow socialist morality would destroy much of present humankind and impoverish much of the rest.” We get a foretaste of what Hayek means whenever the forces of socialism triumph. There follows, as the night the day, an increase in poverty and a diminution of individual freedom.
The curious thing is that this fact has had so little effect on the attitudes of intellectuals and the politicians who appeal to them. No merely empirical development, it seems—let it be repeated innumerable times—can spoil the pleasures of socialist sentimentality. This unworldliness is tied to another common trait of intellectuals: their contempt for money and the world of commerce. The socialist intellectual eschews the “profit motive” and recommends increased government control of the economy. He feels, Hayek notes, that “to employ a hundred people is … exploitation but to command the same number [is] honorable.”
A great read. I am glad that Clinton was so direct in her call for collectivism. The debate can be joined in earnest.
McLean, VA - Senator Fred Thompson today issued the following statement about his campaign for President:
"Today I have withdrawn my candidacy for President of the United States. I hope that my country and my party have benefited from our having made this effort. Jeri and I will always be grateful for the encouragement and friendship of so many wonderful people."
I guess $50 bucks each from dagny and I wasn't enough to keep that ol' red truck rolling into Florida.
UPDATE: 14:44 EST - 850 KOA Radio, Denver: Republican Fred Thompson has quit the presidential race, according to a statement. Details at the top of the hour on 850KOA and at 850KOA.com.
UPDATE: 14:50 EST - WSJ NEWS ALERT:
from The Wall Street Journal
Jan. 22, 2008
Fred Thompson dropped out of the Republican presidential race this afternoon after a third-place finish over the weekend in South Carolina's primary and poor performances in other early caucus and primary states. The former Tennessee senator did not say whether he would endorse any of his rivals.
Thompson's departure leaves behind a still-crowded Republican field, with John McCain, Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani and Mike Huckabee battling for the lead in Florida ahead of that state's Jan. 29 primary.
Now that it's all Kumbayas around here on immigration, I'll toss a stink bomb into the group hug: I think Chairman Bernanke was right to cut three quarters (75 basis points to us posers). I know the inflation hawks around here are displeased.
The Everyday Economist has a sparkling new design and a post "Ridiculing the Fed," posted in anticipation of the cut:
The Fed is proceeding down a dangerous path. We are experiencing quite a dichotomy with inflation above the Fed’s comfort zone and the economy experiencing a great deal of friction in the housing and credit markets (which are slowing spreading outward). Loose Fed policy encouraged this mess and now the Fed is seeking to remedy the problem with more liquidity. Yeesh!
I don't want to get on the Bernanke bandwagon. I think that he has shown his rookie stripes by projecting a lack of control or seriousness. I would have preferred a (Kudlow Shock-and-Awe) 100 bps cut a week ago accompanied by a firm disavowal of further cuts. "Here you go kids, that's all the candy you get, make it last to Lake Minnetonka..." I thought his testimony to Congress suggesting that Keynesian nonsense rebates might be effective was awful.
All the same, I followed The EE's suggestion and read Maestro file's book and still feel that we are in tolerance for Inflation Targeting. I'm comfortable with 2.25 core CPI and I disagree with my right wingnut buddies at the WSJ Ed Page that it is wrong to "chase" (I'd call it normalize) short term T-bill rates.
The DJIA is down 160 as I type this, recovering from a 300 pt decline in the face of world financial turmoil and more bad news at home. Yaaay team!
The Junior Senator from New York is ready to run the economy for us:
“If you go back and look at our history, we were most successful when we had that balance between an effective, vigorous government and a dynamic, appropriately regulated market,” Mrs. Clinton said. “And we have systematically diminished the role and the responsibility of our government, and we have watched our market become imbalanced.”
She added: “I want to get back to the appropriate balance of power between government and the market.”
Who better to decide the perfect balance than President Hillary Clinton?
David Harsanyi suggests: "Some of us still believe that the worth of a CEO should be determined by stockholders rather than the President of the United States." What an old fashioned guy.
And Dr. Helen thinks she wants to get us all on government cheese. (As a side note, Dr. Helen has received so many links from Instapundit, I'm starting to think she may be sleeping with somebody over there, As Drudge would say, "Developing...")
WE'VE GOTTA BE NEAR A BOTTOM When subprime mortgage investors start murdering their wives and then killing themselves, you be sure we're near the climax of the present financial freak-out.
UPDATE: The second I post that, Glenn Reynolds gets the runner up:
AND IT'S NOT LIKE WE HAVEN'T TRIED! "'We cannot ignore the recent improvements both in the security and political situation in Iraq,' Staffan de Mistura, head of the U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), said in a speech to the Security Council."
Nothing gets the folks at Three Sources as riled up as a conversation on immigration. With that in mind, here is my immigration solution:
Okay, that is a bit facetious. In actuality, what I mean is that we should "do nothing" in terms of legislation. Here is why:
The sheer magnitude of the task of removing 12 million people from the United States makes any attempt to do so nearly impossible. This should not be the focus of any immigration policy. We need to treat the problem, not the symptom.
Secure the borders. There is no need for legislation. The United States government already has the authority, they have simply failed to do so.
I'll hawk James Glassman's superb American Magazine one more time. It's superbly written, beautifully designed, and printed on expensive paper and is very inexpensive compared to the more austerely produced weeklies. Even if you don't subscribe, I think it is all available on the website. I'd encourage you to at least sign up for their daily email.
The cover story of the most recent print edition is Hoop Dreams "With powerful global marketing, the NBA is pushing basketball past soccer as the most popular sport in the world."
The story chronicles smart moves that the NBA has made to expand its influence and revenue opportunities beyond North America. I'll confess I don't follow basketball too closely, but it is a fascinating story of smart business and promotion.
The game I do follow is hockey, and that's the top of their email alert today. This story says that hockey has patched its financial wounds, but still doesn't seem poised to break out of its strongly-delimited interest box. True to the story, the Colorado Avalanche draw huge crowds at ticket prices that keep me home. The games are televised on a station the team owners own.
I'd call the Avs a success on the ice and in the office. The Nordiques were a good franchise, and two Stanley Cups in five years is a great way to draw interest. All the same, there's little excitement around the game. The playoffs are not available except on pay per view. I like the game so, I have always assumed that the owners lack the smarts to achieve world domination.
Yet the ratings are bad when the games are on. Blog brother Sugarchuck told me that the pro-bowling ESPN put on in the strike year outdrew the NHL. Perhaps the product lacks appeal. The old advertising adage is that you can get the packaging and the message right, but in the end, the dog has to eat the food or it's all for naught.
Two good stories if you get a little time. I'm thinking I may have to start watching the Nuggets.
jk, why on earth do you believe that Hillary will somehow be better than Obama? I see absolutely no difference in their ideology. (I do, however, see a difference in their rhetoric and in their campaign tactics.)
Bill Clinton was a decent president (NAFTA, welfare reform, etc.), however, the things I disliked about him are slowly coming back into focus when watching him out on the campaign trail. The media has called him out for his ridiculous hissy fits, but these outbursts appear to be working.
Can Hillary really win the presidential election? Obama is the voice of the young and the optimistic. A Hillary victory would seem to stamp out the hopefulness of young Democrats.
My prediction (and therefore likely the opposite of what will actually happen) is that the Republican establishment will slowly get behind John McCain. He gave an excellent speech after his victory in South Carolina that included talk of less government, lower taxes, and a prosperous nation free of the "heavy hand of government." It was very Reagan-esque -- without the obligatory mentioning of the Great Communicator.
My views on which candidate to get behind have flip flopped more than Mitt Romney and John Kerry combined. At least -- as judged by the varying primary and caucus results -- I am not alone. Therefore, unlike some others here at Three Sources, I will not endorse a candidate.
This morning I heard that one of the other candidates commented that the Constitution is a “living, breathing document.”
Frankly, I assumed this came from Senator Clinton or Senator Obama. It is identical to what Al Gore said when he was running for President in 2000, when he said he would look for judges “who understand that our Constitution is a living, breathing document, that it was intended by our founders to be interpreted in the light of the constantly evolving experience of the American people.”
Imagine my surprise when I learned that this statement actually came from my opponent, Governor Huckabee, in an interview with CNN this morning. Now I know Governor Huckabee was talking about amending the Constitution, but I don’t think he understood that he was using code words that support judicial activism.
On his Comedy Channel TV show, Carlos Mencia got big laughs when he riffed on the border fence. "Just who do you think will build it?" "You'll have to tell them to go over to the other side to check it out and then shut the gates."
Mary Anastasia O'Grady may or may not be getting laughs with the same riff. In Political Diary today, she says:
It turns out that to build barricades to keep "them" out, we might need to let "them" in because the construction companies building border fences need illegal workers.
Just ask Mel Kay, who runs a company called Golden State Fence and was busted two years ago for hiring undocumented migrants. On January 12th the Associated Press chronicled his path to arrest, explaining that he gave employment to illegals whose job it was to build fences along the U.S.-Mexico border and at two immigrant jails.
Mr. Kay says that over the years much of the output from Golden State Fence was produced by illegals. He hired them, he says, not because they were cheap, but because he relied on referrals from his Mexican employees as the only way to get reliable, stable help.
A prospective candidate's status with immigration authorities wasn't nearly as important, he said, as whether a potential employee's connection to family and friends meant he was "trustworthy and more apt to stay long term." A building boom in California made it hard for him to find workers any other way, even paying a starting salary of $35,000 that increased to $60,000 after three years. Full-time employees also got medical benefits, sick leave and two weeks vacation.
But I've used that argument around here and nobody has been convinced. So, here's her second point. I saw it in a FOXNews crawl a few days ago. To build this fence will require vigorous exercise of the hated "takings clause." ¿Kelo no beuno, anybody?
But that's only one barrier to building a wall to keep out illegal migrants. A second is resistance from property owners along the border who don't want a Berlin Wall in their backyards. Many are now vowing to fight the government. Texas's Rio Grande Valley has lately become flush with "No border wall" signs.
Does all this mean that Texans don't care about the rule of law? Not at all, says Mayor Richard Cortez in the border town of McAllen. "Our fight with the government is not over their goals, it's how they go about them." He says Washington should deepen the river, clear brush for better vigilance and create a program to allow for legal workers to cross the border. Then, U.S. law enforcement could spend its time going after real criminals rather than tracking down and deporting bus boys and construction workers.
Obama is getting laughs on the campaign trail about the ridiculous statements made by John Edwards and Hillary Clinton at Tuesday's debate:
Obama began by recalling a moment in Tuesday night's debate when he and his rivals were asked to name their biggest weakness. Obama answered first, saying he has a messy desk and needs help managing paperwork - something his opponents have since used to suggest he's not up to managing the country. Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards said his biggest weakness is that he has a powerful response to seeing pain in others, and Clinton said she gets impatient to bring change to America.
"Because I'm an ordinary person, I thought that they meant, 'What's your biggest weakness?'" Obama said to laughter from a packed house at Rancho High School. "If I had gone last I would have known what the game was. And then I could have said, 'Well, ya know, I like to help old ladies across the street. Sometimes they don't want to be helped. It's terrible.'"
"Folks, they don't tell you what they mean!" he said. Obama chuckled at his own joke before riffing on another Clinton answer in the debate, when she said that she is happy that the bankruptcy bill she voted for in 2001 never became law.
"She says, 'I voted for it but I was glad to see that it didn't pass.' What does that mean?" he asked, again drawing laughter from the crowd and himself. "No seriously, what does that mean? If you didn't want to see it passed, then you can vote against it!
I didn't watch the debate, but I saw some highlights and Hillary was particularly nauseating, invoking some of her husband's notorious double-speak tactics. jk may be on board for the Hillary presidency, but I am not, nor will I ever be.
We had a dust up around here a while back. Rep Ron Paul was discussing the need for more Congressional overview of the FOMC. I was concerned that our dim bulbs leading lights in Congress were not really suited to the intellectual rigors of monetary policy.
I give you Exhibit A: Rep. Marcy Kaptur (Doh!, I mean, D - OH)
The Everyday Economist links to an Alexander Tabarrok column in Forbes that makes Larry Kudlow look like a pessimist. Tabarrok says not to worry about recession or temporary ups and downs. In his mind economics predicts "a new era in which miracle drugs will conquer cancer and other killer diseases and technological and scientific advances will trigger unprecedented economic growth and global prosperity."
The central thesis of his piece is anti-Malthusian:
People used to think that more population was bad for growth. In this view, people are stomachs--they eat, leaving less for everyone else. But once we realize the importance of ideas in the economy, people become brains--they innovate, creating more for everyone else.
New ideas mean more growth, and even small changes in economic growth rates produce large economic and social benefits. At current income levels, with an inflation-adjusted growth rate of 3% per year, America's real per capita gross domestic product would exceed $1 million per year in just over 100 years, more than 22 times higher than it is today. Growth like that could solve many problems.
Amen, brother. He points out that, as India and China gain wealth, the market for these innovations grows. A hundered million new cancer patients with the means to seek treatment will mean more to research funding than a bake sale (though if every person on the continent of Asia bought a pink ribbon...)
Seriously, it’s a good piece with fundamental underlying truth about the value of human life and the value in making a market larger. I could bring up immigration in this context but I'm in trouble already.
UPDATE: Scott Wickstein of Samizdata voices some concerns I shared:
I would just add one caveat to Professor Tabarrok's optimism. Long term economic growth requires a stable framework of liberty, peace and a consistently applied rule of law. The trend of events by governments in the last decade have not been positive on these metrics, and governments who think that they can erode the rights and liberties of their citizens without it having an economic impact in the long term are kidding themselves.
In the Democratic Primary, I have changed my hopes and fears. I had said that for no other than personal reasons, I would prefer to hear good speeches while the last light of civilization and freedom was extinguished. On a more serious note, I saw Senator Obama as malleable -- that he would accept centrist positions once his ambition was sated.
Watching the debates the other night changed that. Senator Clinton was awful, Senator Edwards was frightening. Yet Senator Obama was no safe port. His ability to retain his smug pride at opposing the war in Iraq is not a cause for optimism. He loves to talk about uniting the country, but it is clear from his voting record and his rhetoric that it will be united on the left. He ain't crossing over.
The final nail was Kim Strassel's editorial yesterday (free, free, free, in Rupert's Wall-less Street Journal Ed Page). That eloquence I think I'd enjoy would be in the service of collectivism.
The Obama downside: He's an unknown, a change, a mental shift, for Republicans who'd been gearing up for Mrs. Clinton. He's skillfully tapped into a bitterness with the status quo, and his optimistic message of hope is tough to counter (just ask the tearful Mrs. Clinton). Is Obama-mania at its start, or its peak? The great fear of Republicans is that it's the former.
Mrs. Clinton has a ceiling on her support. No matter how great a race she runs, any victory will be unlikely to result in significant Washington realignment. But Mr. Obama? If he really has tapped into something deep in the American soul, and if he can keep tapping until November, it's conceivable he could bring with him a new wash of Democratic seats that could reshape the Washington political landscape for years to come. That's a big gamble.
If a Democrat is elected and they keep both houses, it will be all out war to keep any economic freedoms (I never claimed I was a uniter). President Hillary Clinton would be easier to oppose. Yaay Hillary! You go, girl!
This is what Bill McIntyre is talking about when he quips “Mike Huckabee looks good from far but is far from good.” Anyone pining for a fiscally and socially conservative Republican is bound to be half-disappointed with Huckabee. In place of a Republican platform, Huckabee unleashed his own clean living, egalitarian enthusiasms on the people of Arkansas with the zeal of a personal trainer. He had an agenda for improving institutions: He poured money into public schools and raised taxes to fix the state’s dilapidated highways. But he also had an agenda for improving people: He signed the Clean Air act, banishing smoking from all workplaces just as he had banned it from his own, and launched a “Healthy Arkansas Initiative” to combat smoking, obesity and physical inactivity. He started ArKids First a multimillion dollar plan to insure poor kids. The governor, who plays guitar in his band, Capitol Offense, passed legislation providing arts and music education for every public school kid in grades one through six.
Huckabee clearly had a vision, and he did not endear himself to the state’s conservatives by jacking up taxes to make that vision reality. Randy Minton, a former Republican legislator from Cabbot, calls him a “pro-life, pro-gun liberal.”
Joseph Alois Schumpeter (1883-1950) was not on the Michigan Ballot. Not even the truncated Democratic one. But I was thinking of the famed economist all the same. Governor Huckabee doesn't seem to have much faith in "Schumpeterian Gales or Creative Destruction." His Huckness refused to accept the premise that "some of the jobs lost in Michigan are not coming back." The Governor suggests that with the right government in place, buggy-whip manufacturers will find work. (He's certainly right -- government excels at stopping progress.)
Stephen Landsburg takes to the NYTimes today (Bill Kristol, Dean Barnett, I do feel for the denizens of the Upper West Side) to suggest that those who profit from globalization need not compensate those that do not. He's noticed the rhetoric as well:
IN the days before Tuesday’s Republican presidential primary in Michigan, Mitt Romney and John McCain battled over what the government owes to workers who lose their jobs because of the foreign competition unleashed by free trade. Their rhetoric differed — Mr. Romney said he would “fight for every single job,” while Mr. McCain said some jobs “are not coming back” — but their proposed policies were remarkably similar: educate and retrain the workers for new jobs.
Even if you’ve just lost your job, there’s something fundamentally churlish about blaming the very phenomenon that’s elevated you above the subsistence level since the day you were born. If the world owes you compensation for enduring the downside of trade, what do you owe the world for enjoying the upside?
I doubt there’s a human being on earth who hasn’t benefited from the opportunity to trade freely with his neighbors. Imagine what your life would be like if you had to grow your own food, make your own clothes and rely on your grandmother’s home remedies for health care. Access to a trained physician might reduce the demand for grandma’s home remedies, but — especially at her age — she’s still got plenty of reason to be thankful for having a doctor.
A superb and short piece. Read it. Bookmark it, send it to your niece in Berkeley.
UPDATE: Rick Sincere finds the US Senate paying an elevator operator to run an automatic elevator. Yup, the Capitol walls are Schumpeterian gale-proof. Said operator -- I mean Vertical Location and Positioning Engineer -- is highlighted in a Jim Hightower column as "a 21-year-old college student who has had to drop out of school because of our country's messed up health insurance system."
I don't want to pile on the Ron! supporters around here. But things are playing out that reinforce my beliefs about the state of the liberty movement.
In discussing the Ron Paul Newsletters imbroglio on this blog, no one has refuted my central thought that neither big nor little-l libertarians will ever have a chance of influencing our electoral system until they weed out some of their toxic elements. They've got liberty to sell for cryin' out loud -- they don't need to muddy it with racism or millenarianism.
ReasonOnline has an article on the newsletters that makes substantive but unproven accusations that Lew Rockwell wrote them. Again, there is no proof, but there is a good circumstantial case. More telling to me is the recounting of toxic, millenarian sentiments from Rockwell and Murray Rothbard, recalling their history as paleolibs.
I repeat my claim that the liberty movement needs two leaders. They, firstly, need their own William F. Buckley, Jr. Bill chased the John Birchers out of the conservative movement in the fifties, and created the structure that paved the way for Goldwater's quixotic run in '64, and built strength to Reagan's successful run in 1980. Secondly (I gave away the ending), a libertarian Reagan will be needed to communicate ideas beyond the confines of the movement.
One person to create the infrastructure and one to communicate beyond. But the first guy has to chase all the Lew Rockwells, Murray Rothbards, and Leonard Piekoffs out. Then, somebody will have to articulate an incremental vision to rolling back American collectivism.
Rothbard and Rockwell want to rebuild a libertarian utopia out of the ruins of a race war. In Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand had to shut society down. The Buckley-Reagan conservative axis didn't produce utopia (immanentize the eschaton?) but they turned back sizable hunks of the New Deal-Great Society collectivism at home and freed 50 million people from communism abroad.
I'm glad that people have been exposed to some classic liberal ideas through Ron Paul, but fear they will take away some of the wrong ideas and give up on the right ones. Here's the close of the Reason piece:
Yet those new supporters, many of whom are first encountering libertarian ideas through the Ron Paul Revolution, deserve a far more frank explanation than the campaign has as yet provided of how their candidate's name ended up atop so many ugly words. Ron Paul may not be a racist, but he became complicit in a strategy of pandering to racists—and taking "moral responsibility" for that now means more than just uttering the phrase. It means openly grappling with his own past—acknowledging who said what, and why. Otherwise he risks damaging not only his own reputation, but that of the philosophy to which he has committed his life.
I have perhaps, in one post, angered every regular reader, writer, and commenter on ThreeSources. All in a day's work.
It is probably too late to start a draft Jeremy Clarkson for President campaign, Especially since we would need to amend the Constitution to allow the foreign born star of Top Gear to hold the position. And his general contempt for America and her people would be a PR challenge.
A couple of weeks ago, plans for a wonderful new coal-fired power station in Kent were given the green light and I was very pleased.
This will reduce our dependency on Vladimir’s gas and Osama’s oil and, as a bonus, new technology being developed to burn the coal more efficiently will be exported to China and exchanged for plastic novelty items to make our lives a little brighter.
It’s all just too excellent for words, but of course galloping into the limelight came a small army of communists and hippies who were waving their arms around and saying that coal was the fuel of Satan and that when the new power station opened, small people like Richard Hammond would immediately be drowned by a rampaging tidal swell.
I’ve argued time and again that the old trade unionists and CND lesbians didn’t go away. They just morphed into environmentalists. The red’s become green but the goals remain the same. And there’s no better way of achieving those goals than turning the lights out and therefore winding the clock back to the Stone Age. Only when we’re all eating leaves under a hammer and sickle will they be happy.
If we must endure a President Hillary Clinton -- and I very much hope we do not -- at least there will be a few laughs as the last light of western civilization and freedom is extinguished and flushed down the commode. Christopher Hitchens, who wrote The best Clinton Hate Book during Clinton's impeachment (I think I read them all), could really let loose. Every week, we would be treated to prose like this:
What do you have to forget or overlook in order to desire that this dysfunctional clan once more occupies the White House and is again in a position to rent the Lincoln Bedroom to campaign donors and to employ the Oval Office as a massage parlor? You have to be able to forget, first, what happened to those who complained, or who told the truth, last time. It's often said, by people trying to show how grown-up and unshocked they are, that all Clinton did to get himself impeached was lie about sex. That's not really true. What he actually lied about, in the perjury that also got him disbarred, was the women. And what this involved was a steady campaign of defamation, backed up by private dicks (you should excuse the expression) and salaried government employees, against women who I believe were telling the truth. In my opinion, Gennifer Flowers was telling the truth; so was Monica Lewinsky, and so was Kathleen Willey, and so, lest we forget, was Juanita Broaddrick, the woman who says she was raped by Bill Clinton. (For the full background on this, see the chapter "Is There a Rapist in the Oval Office?" in the paperback version of my book No One Left To Lie To. This essay, I may modestly say, has never been challenged by anybody in the fabled Clinton "rapid response" team.) Yet one constantly reads that both Clintons, including the female who helped intensify the slanders against her mistreated sisters, are excellent on women's "issues."
That weird, swishing sound you hear is the entire population of West Manhattan spewing coffee out on their [Perry E, can you help me out -- what would they eat for breakfast?].
Imagine, you open your New York Times to catch up on the latest foreign policy truths from Thomas Friedman, get the state of the economy from Paul Krugman, see who MoDo is shredding today, and -- wait a minute! What is this? Bill Kristol?
Last year’s success, in Anbar and elsewhere, was made possible by confidence among Iraqis that U.S. troops would stay and help protect them, that the U.S. would not abandon them to their enemies. Because the U.S. sent more troops instead of withdrawing — because, in other words, President Bush won his battles in 2007 with the Democratic Congress — we have been able to turn around the situation in Iraq.
And now Iraq’s Parliament has passed a de-Baathification law — one of the so-called benchmarks Congress established for political reconciliation. For much of 2007, Democrats were able to deprecate the military progress and political reconciliation taking place on the ground by harping on the failure of the Iraqi government to pass the benchmark legislation. They are being deprived of even that talking point.
Yesterday, on “Meet the Press,” Hillary Clinton claimed that the Iraqis are changing their ways in part because of the Democratic candidates’ “commitment to begin withdrawing our troops in January of 2009.” So the Democratic Party, having proclaimed that the war is lost and having sought to withdraw U.S. troops, deserves credit for any progress that may have been achieved in Iraq.
That is truly a fairy tale. And it is driven by a refusal to admit real success because that success has been achieved under the leadership of ... George W. Bush. The horror!
If our Washington, D.C., readers noticed a cortege of blue suits carrying a casket in front of the Brookings Institution last week, be not mournful. You were merely watching the leading economists of the Democratic Party burying the faith once known as Rubinomics. May it rest in peace.
The editorial goes on to debunk the loony Gospel:
As a matter of policy, this passing is just as well. Rubinomics never did have much economic basis, and even casual observation over the last 25 years has exposed its illogic. As deficits rose in the 1980s, interest rates fell. In the current decade, deficits rose and interest rates fell for a time, then later deficits fell but interest rates rose.
Even in the 1990s, the facts never matched the theory. The rate on the 30-year Treasury bond did fall in 1993 amid the Clinton tax increases, but it slowly climbed again throughout 1994. The historic market turn -- in stocks and bonds -- came exactly on the day in 1994 that Republicans won the House of Representatives for the first time in 40 years. Interest rates move up or down based on multiple variables, such as monetary policy and global capital flows. Deficits within reasonable bounds are a bit player.
The biggest trouble with the deficit talk is that it doesn't prevent spending, but it is a very useful tool to preclude tax cuts. Democrats have grabbed onto this implausible economic explanation with both hands, explaining growth in the Clinton years without having to reference free trade, or the capital gains tax cuts, or any of the actual causes against which they've turned.
I'm not as sanguine as my buddies on the ed page. The Democrats, like Gene Sperling in the Glenn and Helen podcast, will be able to explain this as "an exception" to a pliant press corps. But we'll know:
"Stimulus shouldn't be paid for," declared Mrs. Clinton on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday. "The stimulus, by the very nature of the economic problems we're facing, is going to require an injection of federal funding." And no less than the oracle himself, Mr. Rubin, appeared at Brookings last week to declare that a deficit-padding stimulus "can give the economy a timely boost in the face of great uncertainty and concern with the short-term economic outlook." The coroner will note that the cause of death here is suicide.
Part of me worries about the Centennial State; the rest of me has given up. We have a Democrat Governor, both houses under Democratic rule, every tax increase passes easily, a massive light rail project passed in 2004.
Next is RomneyCare. Just because it is an abject failure in Massachusetts, why not have it here? (Justice Brandeis, call your office!)
When government policies increase insurance costs, the first to drop coverage are the young and healthy. Those remaining in the insurance pool are at higher risk to incur medical expenses, so premiums rise again, which again drives out the healthiest remaining customers. It takes some nerve to support policies that make insurance prohibitively expensive and then make it a crime not to purchase insurance.
Compulsory insurance is based on collective punishment, a perverted form of justice found where troops patrol the streets and spitballs go splat. It punishes both the insured and uninsured for the misdeeds of politicians. Legislators should stop scapegoating the uninsured for the mess they've perpetuated. They should repeal legislation that inhibits the free market from delivering affordable high-quality medical care.
The Glenn and Helen Show interviews Hizzoner by phone on the campaign trail and gets some good answers for gun rights, against flex-fuel mandates (which Glenn is pretty high on), for private health care, not bashing pharmaceutical (or other) corporations. Good stuff!
The first eight minutes are Rudy! and the rest features Clinton-advisor Gene Sperling's Pro-growth, progressive economics (on which I am less keen).
Tyler Cowen looks at the data (instead of the editorial page) and spots some interesting things we have learned in the last 12 months:
Predatory lenders? How about predatory borrowers?
Many of the frauds were simple rather than ingenious. In some cases, borrowers who were asked to state their incomes just lied, sometimes reporting five times actual income; other borrowers falsified income documents by using computers. Too often, mortgage originators and middlemen looked the other way rather than slowing down the process or insisting on adequate documentation of income and assets. As long as housing prices kept rising, it didn’t seem to matter.
In other words, many of the people now losing their homes committed fraud. And when a mortgage goes into default in its first year, the chance is high that there was fraud in the initial application, especially because unemployment in general has been low during the last two years.
Better get some gub'mint program to bail 'em out! And how about "Cold Kills:"
Spells of extreme cold kill over 27,000 Americans each year, or about 700 people each very cold day. Heat waves may receive more publicity, but it turns out that cold periods — days with an average temperature below 30 degrees —have more significant and longer-lasting effects on human mortality. More people die in cold periods than in homicides.
Extreme cold brings cardiovascular stress as human bodies struggle to adjust to the temperature; many of the deaths in these periods come through heart attacks. Heat waves tend to kill people who were already weakened and would have died soon anyway; cold periods bring additional people to the verge of death.
When retired people move to a warmer state, their life expectancy rises dramatically. In fact, 8 to 15 percent of the increase in American life expectancy over the last 30 years comes from people moving to warmer climates, according to research done by two economics professors, Olivier Deschenes at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Enrico Moretti, at the University of California, Berkeley.
The death tolls from ice storms last month were third-worldish. One of the milblogs pointed out one week that 120 had died in an ice storm in the Midwest, while the same week on 31 had died of violence in Iraq. Last month's City Journal had an article about efforts to revitalize Buffalo, New York. Even with pedestrian malls and subsidized mixed-use retail space, the population still hungers for warmer climes.
Tim Blair -- and Instapundit -- link to a brilliant paper on Capitalism's PR problem. I was asked at lunch today why the ideals heralded on ThreeSources are so difficult to sell. This Australian provides a (sorry, I have to break my vow) stunning exegesis:
The problem for those of us who believe that capitalism offers the best chance we have for leading meaningful and worthwhile lives is that in this debate, the devil has always had the best tunes to play. Capitalism lacks romantic appeal. It does not set the pulse racing in the way that opposing ideologies like socialism, fascism, or environmentalism can. It does not stir the blood, for it identifies no dragons to slay. It offers no grand vision for the future, for in an open market system the future is shaped not by the imposition of utopian blueprints, but by billions of individuals pursuing their own preferences. Capitalism can justifiably boast that it is excellent at delivering the goods, but this fails to impress in countries like Australia that have come to take affluence for granted.
It is quite the opposite with socialism. Where capitalism delivers but cannot inspire, socialism inspires despite never having delivered. Socialism’s history is littered with repeated failures and with human misery on a massive scale, yet it still attracts smiles rather than curses from people who never had to live under it.(2) Affluent young Australians who would never dream of patronising an Adolf Hitler bierkeller decked out in swastikas are nevertheless happy to hang out in the Lenin Bar at Sydney’s Circular Quay, sipping chilled vodka cocktails under hammer and sickle flags, indifferent to the twenty million victims of the Soviet regime. Chic westerners are still sporting Che Guevara t-shirts, forty years after the man’s death, and flocking to the cinema to see him on a motor bike, apparently oblivious to their handsome hero’s legacy of firing squads and labour camps.
Four days ago I wondered aloud if conservatives should hold their nose and support McCain as the best hope of defeating the Democrat nominee (Obama in particular.) I questioned my assertion the day before that "only Thompson has the charisma to challenge Obama."
Tell us how you -- rather than your opponents -- would be better able to beat either New York Sen. Hillary Clinton or Illinois Sen. Barack Obama in the fall. You told the Iowans you were, but you need to tell us all now. Why you, and not Mitt or Mike or Rudy or John? Preview your fall campaign by attacking the centers of liberalism as you did in Iowa, and connect each one of them to the liberals you’ll be running against.
Even before reading this I realized I should not be guided in my choice by fear of losing to the Democrat. If there's a candidate who nearly completely shares my principles he must receive my support. Human Events agrees:
We like the way Thompson unhesitatingly attacks the liberal ideologues and their activists such as MoveOn.org and the ACLU, and the way he reaches out to those we knew as the Reagan Democrats.
The question now is whether Sen. Thompson will do what he has not yet done: Take the advantages he is given by his intelligence, his principles, his political skills and this endorsement and make the best use of them.
As the primaries and debates speed by, we would like to see Sen. Thompson continue to invigorate his campaign to carry him successfully through Tsunami Tuesday and to nomination at the Republican convention.
Fred doesn't just agree with these principles, he's not ashamed of them or afraid to defend them. Liberalism is, in large measure, in retreat. Now is the time to go for the philosophical jugular.
If he loses and we get a Democrat instead then we can run around for four years with bumper stickers that say, THOMPSON TOLD YOU SO.
Holman Jenkins has some kind words for Senator Fred Thompson in today's Political Diary, though he couches them (fairly) in concern for the campaign:
Fred Thompson is emerging as the policy intellectual of the Republican race, making all the sadder his lack of financing and organization.
His deconstruction of the country's health care woes was nothing short of impressive by campaign standards in the New Hampshire debate. Last night in South Carolina, he reframed the immigration argument with deft strokes, saying the problem of 12 million illegals would gradually solve itself if Washington gained control of the borders, gave employers a biometric way to confirm the legality of employees, etc. "If we did those things, we would have enforcement by attrition."
Translation: Stop worrying about those who are here. That's a backward-looking focus. His "high fences and wide gates," Mr. Thompson's expression of how immigration policy ought to be organized, hit just the right note.
His summary of the economy's current skittish state was also masterful and more complete than any other candidate's, concluding: "We would all be a lot better off if people knew that these tax cuts of '01 and '03 were not going to expire at the end of 2010, which they're scheduled to do."
Mr. Thompson's stage presence is what you'd expect from his risumi. His ability to speak persuasively about policy in paragraphs is the unexpected revelation. A focus group organized by pollster Frank Luntz for Fox News (which hosted last night's debate) began the evening with only two Thompson supporters. By the end, he was judged the winner in a landslide.
I was surprised at how firmly Thompson went after Gov. Huckabee last night. I'll agree he did well, but I do not see the landslide. He cemented his #2 spot on my list last night with a strong performance.
But Hizzoner showed some of the ideals that attracted me to him in the first place. To grow the economy by (he always counts on his fingers) "Reducing Taxes, Reducing Regulation, and Reducing Litigation."
The debate went a little over, and my TiVo cut out when he was giving his immigration answer. I'll assume it was bad, but my only choices are McCain and the Democrats. Thompson's "high fence and wide gates" is a good line -- I like the wide gates and the rest of ThreeSourcers like the high fence. The South Carolinians wanted red meat on immigration. My train has left the GOP station.
In the end, I see Mayor Giuliani and Senator Thompson as having supply-side economics sufficiently hard wired to ensure my support, Senator McCain doesn't get it. But he would be a great Commander in Chief, is a man of great integrity, and most closely matches me on trade and immigration.
Governors Romney and Huckabee continue to slip. Both have too much faith in government, and now Governor Romney is responding to Huckabee's success by becoming "Huck Lite," letting populism creep in to his rhetoric. Huckabee is hopeless, but got the biggest applause lines out of the crowd in Myrtle Beach.
I commented below about Rep. Paul. Who cares about the newsletters. I will be happy not voting for him because he is ready to throw Israel to the wolves. Yet he can't muster a libertarian position in immigration and thinks we are broke because we borrow.
Thanks to The New Republic, libertarians who weren't paying attention in the 1990s, don't read Texas Monthly, and didn't do their candidate research have now discovered that Ron Paul said--or, more likely, allowed to be said in his name (probably by Lew Rockwell)--nasty things in his newsletters. Much reaction can be found at Hit & Run, as well as Andrew Sullivan's blog and The Volokh Conspiracy. The disclosures are not news to me, nor is the Paul campaign's dismissive reaction a surprise. When you give your political heart to a guy who spends so much time worrying about international bankers, you're not going to get a tolerant cosmopolitan.
Also, respected Austrian economist Steve Horwitz's opinion is here. It is a fair and comprehensive take on this discovery.
Wednesday night I received a phone call. It was an automated poll regarding the Republican primary in my home state. The poll first asked my opinion of President Bush. Then, the call asked which issue I thought was more important, taxes or abortion? I answered taxes and heard the following:
"Are you aware that Mitt Romney did not support the 2003 Bush tax cuts? On the other hand Mike Huckabee has supported the tax cuts from the beginning. Given..."
I promptly hung up the phone. I was "push polled" by the Huckabee campaign. I am sure that when the local newspapers get wind of this, he will disavow any knowledge, but this is of little solace to me. Huckabee has run a sneaky, dirty, and populist campaign and it disgusts me. He pretends that his message is the future vision of the Republican Party and perhaps that is true, but that is not party that I will be a part of. While these Huck-a-Whacks began in playful jest, his campaign has successfully removed me from the sidelines to vote against him.
The Wall Street Journal Editorial Page has a new look and a new price.
We're rolling out a new Web site for the Journal editorial page, offering all of our editorials and op-eds, video interviews and commentary. Please enjoy our message of free people and free markets -- for free.
The Ron Paul Newsletter story fascinates. My first interest is in how little interest it has generated. I read it on ThreeSources (way to scoop, hb!) and did not see another word about until Glenn Reynolds linked to Ann Althouse at 3:21 PM. In an immediate gratification blogosphere, a story this big about the Internet's favorite candidate lies dormant for 15 hours? I thought it might be lack of credibility of TNR, but Brian Doherty suggests it might be Ron Paul.
This whole scandal is, for one thing, a sobering reminder to Paul fans exactly how little any of his opponents cared about him up until now, given that none of their opposition research brought any of this to serious public attention
Yeah, that Sen. Chris Dodd sex-with-turnips thing didn't attract a lot of press either...
Doherty’s post disappoints me with his readiness to defend something that seems pretty indefensible:
It is certainly worth remembering on this tense day for those who have admired Paul as a politician and as a voice in this campaign that, as his clear to anyone paying close attention to either his presidential campaign message (or his message through most of his congressional career) or to the concerns of the bulk of his current fans, that racial or anti-gay animus has zero to do with Ron Paul's campaign or its appeal [..] It is also worth remembering that every single other candidate is a fervent believer in policies that cause far more harm to far more innocent black people (the drug war) than old ghostwritten words that insult Martin Luther King, or insult rioters in racial terms, ever could.
He's sellin' but I'm not buyin'. I'd suggest that Doherty read an excellent book by [wait for it...] Brian Doherty. Radicals For Capitalism has 700 pages of this story -- and he doesn't get it. The liberty movement is a sequence of brave visionaries who had great ideas. But almost all of them had such extreme character flaws or communication deficiencies. They inspired a hundred cults, but not one of them inspired a movement. Compare William F. Buckley to Lew Rockwell.
I think the liberty movement can lay claim to great thinkers: I'll take Mises and Hayek and Bastiat against anybody in a Philosophy cage match. But, to go back to the Buckley example, Buckley chased the loonies out of the Conservative movement. Once the John Birchers were gone, there was comfort for a much larger group of less marginal thinkers.
I have zero invested in Rep. Paul and know he has some fans around here. But this really is the same story. He doesn't chase the 9/11 thruthers out of his "movement," he doesn't disavow the Nazis. Sounds pretty consistent with a guy named Ron Paul who doesn't bother to read what's said in the "Ron Paul Newsletter."
Full disclosure: I have always been a big fan of consumption taxes. I gave a few small donations to CATS a few years ago, and I signed up on the FairTax email list. You can call me a flip-flopper (he'll never be President!) if you want, but I claim I have "grown." As I mentioned, if you gave me a time machine, I'd go back to the early 20th Century and tell them it would be better. But the existence of the 16th Amendment makes it a complete non-starter.
Blog Brother Harrison Bergeron linked to a Brad DeLong takedown of the fair tax. I join frequent commenter Perry Eidlebus in questioning Mr. DeLong. I will offer another devastating takedown of the FairTax. NRO columnist and often-times Kudlow guest Jerry Bower has a guest Editorial in the WSJ today called Fair Tax Flaws. He finds a few (paid link):
Small vendors often fail to withhold sales taxes. Buyers cheat on sales taxes now. They often fail to pay taxes on interstate catalogue sales. They buy some goods in black markets.
This doesn't happen much because sales taxes are much lower than income taxes, but if that were reversed, consumers would cheat more. Look at cigarettes. Organized crime sells smokes on the black market in jurisdictions that impose high cigarette taxes.
There is a large category of economic activity designed to avoid sales taxes -- it's called smuggling. We don't hear that word much anymore, because we're not a sales-tax or tariff-based system anymore. Increase sales taxes to a combined state and federal 30%, up from a state-based 6% now, and watch the dodging begin.
The immigrant stuff is nonsense on stilts. Let me ask you this: If they're here illegally, why won't they also buy and sell goods on the black market?
Then there's the complexity argument. You don't think the lobbyists and lawyers will get involved in this, looking for exemptions on houses, medical services and education? You're going to put a 30% tax on my home purchase, and my doctor visits and my kids' tuition? Yeah, great idea.
None of this matters anyway. We will never make this change. The 16th Amendment will not be repealed in favor of a tax vigorously opposed by an army of restaurants, pubs and retail stores. It's hard to get good ideas through the ratification process; imagine how hard it would be to push this stinker. In point of fact, the FairTax serves one main purpose right now: It gives Mr. Huckabee the chance to sum up his economic plan in one line. And that just doesn't seem, well, fair.
The idea that there will no enforcement required is truly disingenuous. I'd add a thought from Perry's comment to hb's post: the Income Tax was pretty simple when it was instituted, look what happened in a hundred years. Congress will seek money and power -- a simple change of collection points will not stop that.
Blog brother johngalt is rightly concerned about the charismatic front runner of the Democratic Party in an obviously Democrat leaning year. I don't wish to instill complacency but I don't think it is yet time for despondence. (Keep watching this blog, we will try to tell you exactly when to panic.)
Senator Obama's victory over the Clinton machine is impressive if not quite complete. The tactician in me would like to see a protracted primary season where they both spend their war chests taking each other down. However, I tried the same trick in the ALCS, hoping that the Indians and Red Sox would tire each other. I regretted that too-clever-by-half sentiment before the Sox had evened the series.
This time I will be careful what I wish for. If Senator Clinton loses by 15 points tonight and quits in a fit of tears and four letter words, as one commenter on anothe blog said "pass the popcorn."
Yes, Senator Obama has energized primary voters. No, I don't want to take anything away from his achievement of 80,000 new voters in Iowa (which, one TV pundit pointed out, has "fewer black people than 'The Beatles'" But, in a general election, he will have a tough time portraying himself as a moderate. The antiwar applause lines will all become liabilities. The lead editorial in the Wall Street Journal today offers a look: (free link)
Over the past 12 months, U.S. troops in Iraq have risen every day and gone to work, dangerous work, implementing General David Petraeus's counterinsurgency strategy. The surge. Across the political spectrum, observers have announced the surge a success. This achievement must be a source of enormous pride to the U.S. soldiers and Marines who have pulled it off.
So what we take away from the four Democratic Presidential candidates' stunning display of misinformation and false statements about the surge Saturday evening is that they have simply stopped thinking about Iraq. They seem to have concluded that opposition to the war permits them to literally not know what the U.S. or the Iraqis are doing there. As the nation commences the selection of an American President, this is a phenomenon worth noting.
Barack Obama is of a sudden the front-runner, so his view of the surge merits the closest look. His first assertion echoed what has become a standard line by the war's opponents, that "we have not made ourselves safer as a consequence." What can this possibly mean? In more than six years there hasn't been one successful terrorist attack on the U.S., even as places elsewhere were hit or actively targeted.
He's got a lot going for him, but the things against him will not show up until he faces Republican opposition. Chins up people -- as the song says, It's a long long way from January to November (or something like that...)
On Tucker Carlson's show 45 minutes ago, The New Republic's Jamie Kirchick alleged that Ron Paul called Martin Luther King a "gay pedophile," and stuffed 20 years' worth of "Ron Paul" newsletters full of "racist, anti-semitic, homophobic invective."
Kirchick, whose story for TNR (along with screen-shots of the newsletters themselves) are scheduled to go up at midnight EDT, said that Paul "called black people animals," and spoke at a "pro-secessionist conference." In teeing up the segment, Carlson, who was skeptical about some of Kirchick's claims, reported that the Paul campaign has apologized for the content of the newsletters to both Kirchick and Carlson.
A valetudinarian is someone neurotically obsessed with the state of their health (a close cousin of a hypochondriac, which is someone who always thinks they’re sick). Such a condition leaves us vulnerable to all sorts of manipulation, as does the parallel obsession with ‘safety’. The idea of ‘zero-risk’ is also fashionable, but I believe that the more we are encouraged by authorities to demand it, the more we are infantilised. A mature person should accept that ‘zero-risk’ is an illusion.
The smoking issue is part of a much broader one, in which ‘public health’ is less and less
about healing the sick and more and more about social engineering of the well. And we play right along. We’re allowing our pleasures, habits, quirks and imperfections to be redefined as syndromes needing (profitable) therapeutic intervention. We are constantly in search of scapegoats and panaceas, and seem (particularly in the USA) to see life as a rather desperate game, to be played very hard, with whoever lives the longest being the winner. The trouble is that we’re forgetting how to enjoy playing.
Have we created a fertile ground for a Jihad against tobacco? Or is our culture actually being created by antismokers and similar crusaders themselves? I think it’s probably a bit of both.
Either way, it gives me the creeps.
I listened to Rush Limbaugh today (something a bit out of the ordinary) and I was struck by the number of evangelicals who called the program to tell Rush that he was destroying the conservative movement and that Mike Huckabee was the conservative candidate. Rush called the litany of calls a strategic effort by the Huckabee campaign and perhaps that is true, but the phone calls really got me riled up.
The particular callers asserted two fundamental reasons why conservatives should vote for the Huckster. First, was the claim that he is the only true social conservative was Huckabee. I don't necessarily care about this, but in any case, they apparently have never heard of this Thompson fella.
The second point was that Huckabee wants to eliminate the IRS and create a much more "fair" tax code. This is preposterous. Huckabee's Fair Tax is a scam. I'll let Brad DeLong do the heavy lifting:
Huckabee says that the FairTax would mean a 23 percent sales tax rate on all items. First of all, the real tax rate proposed is 30 percent. The FairTax would add 30 cents to every dollar spent, but since 30 cents is 23 percent of $1.30, the FairTaxers call the rate 23 percent.
Second, and more important, both conservative and liberal economists believe the real rate would end up even higher. Estimates of the actual rate of taxation required for the FairTax to be "revenue neutral" (meaning for it to bring in exactly the same amount of revenue that the federal government collects under the current system) start at 30 percent and keep climbing. William Gale of the liberal Brookings Institution think tank says it's a de facto 44 percent sales tax. Calculations go still higher once you add in all the necessary and politically inevitable exemptions on big-ticket items -- like a new home or hospital care. Congress' Joint Committee on Taxation, which draws members from both parties and both houses, says the real rate would be 57 percent. (And this leaves aside the enormous federal outlay required by the "prebates," which even FairTax advocates say would cost the government $485 billion per year.)
I said the other day that I did not plan to vote. I am so enraged at the Huckster and his minions that I am considering changing my mind.
I guess it is McCain day at ThreeSources: appropriate the day before New Hampshire's primary. And, perhaps, appropriate as some ThreeSourcers might be reevaluating their candidates now that the primaries are in full swing.
Larry Kudlow points to some serious supply-side endorsements for the Arizona Senator:
[Jack] Kemp would join former Sen. Phil Gramm as key McCain economic advisors. As I noted in an earlier post, Phil Gramm is the quintessential free-market advocate. He spent a career in the House and Senate limiting government spending, taxing, and regulating.
Both Kemp and Gramm are strong free-trade supporters. Gramm was also the original sponsor of the Reagan tax-and-spending cuts back in 1981 in the Gramm-Latta bill reported out of the House. That bill incorporated Jack Kemp’s original proposal to slash personal tax rates by 30 percent across the board.
Down through the years, Jack Kemp has been a tireless advocate of economic growth through supply-side tax reform and free trade. Getting him on board is a real coup for Sen. McCain.
In a recent political discussion, I was asked whom I would support for President if I were not limited to those running and I picked Phil Gramm. I have always been a fan of Kemp, though he did do some unsavory work for some Latin American despots a while back.
I don't think either of these are huge vote swingers in 2008, but they should not be ignored (especially by a Prosperitarian).
Every time I think I can support Senator McCain because of his capacity to be Commander-in-Chief, I spill across something like this
I missed this but kept on hearing about how well Governor Romney did, so I dug this up on YouTube. McCain is probably the best on trade and certainly the best on immigration (for a Prosperitarian), but this is a deal breaker. If we want John Edwards to be President, get the real one -- he has much better hair!
I half expected, half hoped that someone would challenge my assertion [first comment] that "...only Thompson has the charisma to challenge Obama..." In retrospect, I think that charisma appeals more to my vision of the average American than to the purple reality of such. This thought is buttressed by the American Thinker's Richard Baehr who writes, "Only McCain can beat Obama." Here's the money line:
Many Republicans are not enamored of the Arizona Senator, of course. He is, to be sure, an imperfect Republican. But if only McCain can win for the party in November, Republicans might want to really consider carefully if they want to choose a candidate with greater ideological purity and the President Obama that will go with it.
The pursuit, defense, and propagation of liberty qua liberty is a superb endeavor. This blog is named for a Natan Sharansky quote that still gives me chills. Sharansky -- who faced evil -- said "During my long journey through the world of evil, I had discovered three sources of power: the power of an individual's inner freedom, the power of a free society, and the power of the solidarity of the free world."
I have long identified with "the libertarian wing" of the Republican Party -- more so after reading Ryan Sager's superb Elephant in the Room. That's me: a Mountain West fiscal conservative. I always stole Milton Friedman’s line "I'm a little-l libertarian and a big-R Republican." Hayek concludes his superb Constitution of Liberty with a chapter titled "Why I Am Not a Conservative." I agree with every word.
I’m comfortable calling myself a "classical liberal" but that means something to about eleven people.
Watching the Republican Candidate's Forum last night (poor man's group therapy), I finally realized what I am. I am a Prosperitarian. An innovation-slut. A growth whore. A political Paris Hilton who hopes the party never ends. Following "The Kudlow Creed" (I believe that free market capitalism is the best path to prosperity), all my positions can be predicted by their effect on global economic growth.
I like law and order (it's good for business and property right protection), yet I argue on these pages for leniency for illegal immigrants. I'm the last guy to endorse a boycott. I support free trade with sometimes despotic regimes. I support the Iraq War and the war on terrorism because I believe in the importance of Deepak Lal's Liberal International Economic Orders (think Pax Americana).
Perhaps Rep. Ron Paul is correct that it is an abrogation of liberty to tax John Q. Citizen to fund the Iraqi liberation. In a strict view of American liberty (qua liberty again) it is a defensible position. I disagree because I see it as a gift to the region -- and a key component in the continuation of global growth.
Likewise, Paul has a point that the 100 year old man who has been putting 20s in an old sock for fifty years is hurt by Fed-induced inflation. Yet I think that supplying the liquidity to support growth and (less controversially) prevent deflationary shocks is more conducive to prosperity.
Being a Prosperitarian is less cool than being a libertarian (though I would consider us yet another faction of the already splintered nine per cent). It’s more fun to rail against The Patriot Act and FISA. This month’s Reason Magazine has a cartoon taking Walgreen's Drug Stores to task for its handling of the "morning after pill" called "The War on Reproduction." But I contend that growth, innovation, modernity and prosperity has brought more individual freedom to the world than a thousand ACLU suits.
No doubt many Three Sources readers and bloggers missed the debate as they frantically watched for the results of the Wyoming caucus last night. Okay, in all seriousness, for some reason I chose to watch the debates last night. Here are my thoughts:
Fred! won the Republican debate. More and more, I think he should be the nominee.
McCain's cheap shots at Romney made him look petty -- as did Huckabee's.
The Republicans swarmed Romney, apparently smelling blood in the water. Huckabee, McCain, and Giuliani went at him pretty hard. Ironically, I think that this made Romney look better because he was under constant attack.
Huckabee came across as likable. It is too bad that he is a populist, tax-and-spend hack.
Why does Ron Paul refer to the war in every question? He has a chance to be very strong on economic issues with conservatives, but he always circles back to the war. He did, however, have a great quote that was apparently aimed at our own jk:
I'll be glad to answer that question because it's something I talk about all the time and it's a very important question. The Wall Street Journal yesterday had a very good chart that explains this. If you look at the price of oil in the last 10 years, if you look at it in terms of dollars, it went up 350 percent. If you look at it in Euros, it went up about 200 percent. If you look at it in the price of gold, it stayed flat. It's the inflation, it's the printing of money, it's the destruction of the value of the dollar.
It may take until the convention to find a Republican nominee.
On the Democratic side, Hillary looked desperate. She attacked Obama for trumpeting "change", but not having any beef behind the rhetoric.
Ironically, it was John Edwards who came to Obama's aid, criticizing Hillary as the "status quo".
Why is Richardson still there? He doesn't even perform well in the debates.
If Obama wins Tuesday, I don't think Hillary can recover.
George Will delivers today's Huck-a-Whack in the pages of the Washington Post and his syndicated column. A friend called me this morning to make sure I saw it. You must read the whole thing, but here's a whetting excerpt, comparing Senator Edwards and Governor Huckabee:
According to Edwards, the North Carolina of his youth resembled Chechnya today -- "I had to fight to survive. I mean really. Literally." Huckabee, a compound of Uriah Heep, Elmer Gantry and Richard Nixon, preens about his humble background: "In my family, 'summer' was never a verb." Nixon, who maundered about his parents' privations and his wife's cloth coat, followed Lyndon Johnson, another miscast president whose festering resentments and status anxieties colored his conduct of office. Here we go again?
Huckabee fancies himself persecuted by the Republican "establishment," a creature already negligible by 1964, when it failed to stop Barry Goldwater's nomination. The establishment's voice, the New York Herald Tribune, expired in 1966. Huckabee says that "only one explanation" fits his Iowa success "and it's not a human one. It's the same power that helped a little boy with two fish and five loaves feed a crowd of 5,000 people." God so loves Huckabee's politics that He worked a Midwest miracle on his behalf? Should someone so delusional control nuclear weapons?
Will may actually lead the "Republican Establishment" he claims dead since the 1960s, but this is a fantastic column.
Galley Slave, Weekly Standard writer, and jk-Buffy-sire, Jonathan V. Last, is slumming. The Weekly Standard's Campaign Standard blog has made some arrangement to get Last doing some political blogging. I'm rather glad. Here he is on Obama Triumphant:
It's 5 degrees outside, the intersections near the Pan-Am hangar where Obama's first event is this morning are plastered with placards urging us to "Stop Global Warming," and I'm parked next to two Priuses. Welcome to Obama Nation.
A lot's being said about Obama's youth bulge in Iowa last night. He took 57 percent of the under-30 vote while Hillary Clinton took just about 50 percent of the over-65 vote. (Including, one assumes, a monster margin in the 100-and-over vote.)
Great stuff, I hope they keep him throughout the campaign.
You see one of these "Cold Fusion" stories every month or so. I'm still waiting for the nation to be powered by the scraps from the Tyson poultry plant.
Yet I hope that this one is true because it represents a uniquely American solution.
“Check it out. It's actually a jet engine," says Johnathan Goodwin, with a low whistle. "This thing is gonna be even cooler than I thought." We're hunched on the floor of Goodwin's gleaming workshop in Wichita, Kansas, surrounded by the shards of a wooden packing crate. Inside the wreckage sits his latest toy--a 1985-issue turbine engine originally designed for the military. It can spin at a blistering 60,000 rpm and burn almost any fuel. And Goodwin has some startling plans for this esoteric piece of hardware: He's going to use it to create the most fuel-efficient Hummer in history.
Goodwin takes the largest American cars and fits them with electric drive and a fat burning jet 60KRPM jet to recharge supercapacitors. "Like a Prius on Steroids," he says. Well, Mr. Goodwin, I know Steroids. Steroids are a friend of mine. And your solution goes beyond steroids.
Let our beloved, European allies buy smaller and less powerful cars. Whether Goodwin's approach ever sees an integral market share or not, this is the way for Americans to beat the "fuel crisis:" with big, fast, mighty cars, If it indeed runs on french-fry grease, we might just get energy-independence after all.
How can a co-Huck-a-Whacker find his sunny optimism when the good people of Iowa have given "the Parsin' Parson" a huge victory?
We haven't done enough Romneywhacking around here, but the author of RomneyCare is a danger to freedom lovers. His positions are more acceptable to me that Governor Huckabee's, but Governor Romney has an electoral viability I still don't see in the Man from Hope. I say the Huckabee win damages Romney and leaves the field open for Giuliani, Thompson, or McCain -- all of whom I rank far above Romney or Huckabee.
There is more danger of Huckabee causing a schism in the party than of his getting the party nod. I would not like to see him pile up delegates, but this one-off win in Iowa may be just the stumbling block needed to stop the Romney Juggernaut (that's the big truck with the dog on top).
On the Democrat side, a third place finish for the Junior Senator from New York has put joy, joy, joy down in my heart. Clinton will have to punch, scratch and veer left to get the nomination. She'll either not get it (my current prediction) or will be badly damaged.
A great day for freedom. Senator Obama is no friend to capitalism and made a huge lurch closer to the Presidency, but if we must have a Democrat, he's my choice. His victory speech was fatuous, but Edwards's and Clinton's were scary. Austan Goolsbee still has some of that Chicago drinking fountain water in him. The Republic would survive.
On to New Hampshire! I think JohnGalt needs to start the predictions.
I had a dentist appointment this morning (quite ironic given the fact that the Republican caucus was somewhat akin to a root canal last night). Therefore I am going to outsource today's Huck-a-Whack to Stephen Green:
Dear Iowa Republicans,
I’ll put this in language even your tiny little Iowa brains can understand: What the f*** is wrong with you people?
The news coming out of Des Moines (literally, French for “tell me about the rabbits, George”) tonight is distressing in the extreme. 32 years ago, your Democratic brethren took one look at Jimmy Carter -- the worst 20th Century President bar Nixon, and the worst ex-President ever -- and declared, “That’s our man!”
Three decades later, and along comes Mike Huckabee. Same moral pretentiousness, same gullibility on foreign affairs, only-slightly-less toothy idiot’s grin. Then you so-called Republicans took a look at Carter’s clone and said, “That’s our man, too!”
Some were so anxious to get Bushitler out of the White House they launched the 2008 race last January. For the rest of us, it begins with today's Iowa caucuses. And with 92% of precincts reporting the "winners"* are:
* I put winners in scare quotes because "Since the state [Iowa] jumped to the front of the line in 1972, only once has a winner in a contested race gone on to the presidency: George W. Bush in 2000."LA Times via FreeRepublic.com
Vanity Fair magazine introduces Karl Rove as follows:
A principal architect of the disastrous presidency of George W. Bush, Karl Rove, 57, has charted a long course from the internship he landed with the Republican Party in Utah almost four decades ago. Here, the president’s former deputy chief of staff reflects on his fear of going broke, his impatience, and his voracious reading habit.
Rove's answers to the questionnaire are pretty interesting. At least they were fair, huh Karl?
How about a little elevated debate for the New Year? Celebrate a Democratic Congressional leader in ThreeSources. John Fund writes this superb tribute to Rep. Tom Lantos (D--CA), titled "A One Man History Lesson:"
It's safe to say the next chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee won't have the fascinating biography of California Rep. Tom Lantos. As Mr. Lantos, who disclosed he has been diagnosed with cancer and announced his retirement yesterday at age 80, put it in his press release: "It is only in the United States that a penniless survivor of the Holocaust from Hungary and a fighter in the anti-Nazi underground could have received an education, raised a family, and had the privilege of serving the last three decades of his life as a Member of Congress."
Mr. Lantos has always been a minority voice on foreign policy in his Democratic Party, especially given the fact that he represents part of radical San Francisco in the House. In the 1980s, he founded the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, which criticized both Communist and right-wing dictatorships with equal fervor. He has been a fierce critic of human rights abuses in China, skewering Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Cisco Systems for agreeing to comply with Internet censorship restrictions there.
Most notably, he led the floor debate in favor of the resolution authorizing war in Iraq in late 2002, a move that prompted an unsuccessful primary challenge against him in 2004.
Known as a prickly and stubborn man, Mr. Lantos found he had to accommodate himself to the liberal tenor of his fellow House Democrats when his party took over control in 2006. Last February, he drafted a resolution opposing the troop surge in Iraq, a move he may well privately regret now. In deference to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, his good friend, he also abandoned his earlier opposition to a resolution that condemned Turkey, a U.S. ally and NATO member, for its killing of Armenians during World War I. Ms. Pelosi was eventually forced to backtrack, embarrassing both her and Mr. Lantos.
While his fidelity to a bipartisan foreign policy waned during his recent tenure as House Foreign Affairs chairman, Mr. Lantos leaves Congress with a distinguished record and the respect of human rights activists the world over regardless of ideology. Here's hoping others in his party are willing to carry forward the torch he held high.
Speaker Newt Gingrich sends an email "How You Can Help America in Iowa If You Act Today." I follow the link (anything but work!) to find the American Solutions Platform of the American People -- A Red, White, and Blue Revolution
Gingrich has collected a long list of issues/solutions all of which have substantive majority support across the political spectrum. Each change is followed by the percentage of support it received in their polling. So, how about it, America? Can we roll up our sleeves and forget our differences, and work together?
Umm, no, Mister Speaker. I am not sure we should. I agree with almost all of your suggestions, and could probably live with the ones I do not. But -- is the poll our ultimate guide? To my dismay, it seems to be the case in GOP immigration policy, but what if the people are wrong?
For example, one I would criticize is: "Climate change and global warming are probably happening. (82 to 13)." I bore my friends with references to Karl Popper and insistence that science is not democracy. Should we sign Kyoto because 82% cheered at the end of "An Inconvenient Truth?" Gingrich doesn't suggest this but he does say "We support building more nuclear power plants to cut carbon emissions and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. (65 to 28) “I’m all for more nuke plants, but not if we're building them to cut carbon emissions (plants need to breathe too!) or for "energy independence" (see Huck-a-Whack, Dec 31). If they make economic sense, and the electorate can be convinced of their safe operation and storage, let's go.
He does not list "Pee in the cornflakes of the 49% (51 to 49)" but we all know, deep down, it's in there.
There was much excitement when Senator Barack Obama picked Austan Goolsbee as a lead economic advisor. A Chicago guy in the Democratic Party! Big news.
Sadly, he is (or has become) a Democrat shill and an academic voice for conventional wisdom. Professor Mankiw links to this video where Professor Goolsbee is well challenged by CNBC staff (without Kudlow, no less!) but is happy to parrot the Democratic boilerplate of zero-savings rate, middle class squeeze, and readiness to impose a huge tax on the productive rich because "they're not the ones being hurt in this."
Kudos to the guy who says "Milton Friedman must be spinning in his grave!" It's indeed a pretty dark day for the storied Chicago Economics Department.
Lifted from the OpinionJournalPoliticalDiary: Brendan Miniter writes about "The Kidney Puncher From Hope," echoing a(n) Harrison Bergeron theme:
With his folksy demeanor and speeches peppered with biblical references, Mike Huckabee comes across as a politician above the rough and tumble of normal politics. But he's begun to show himself every bit as crafty in using a compliant media as another slick operator from Hope, Ark. -- Bill Clinton.
Journalists were central players in Mr. Huckabee's now-legendary backhanded hit job on Monday against Mitt Romney, and they knew it. When Mr. Huckabee told reporters at his press conference that he would show them an attack ad he had decided not to run, the room erupted in laughter. The ad hammered Mr. Romney on taxes and for creating a "$50 copay" for abortions in Massachusetts. At the press conference, Mr. Huckabee declared: "We told you we'd give you a copy of it. We are not." Instead he claimed he had decided to refrain from the negative campaigning that might turn off Iowa voters in his neck-and-neck race with Mr. Romney. Of course, the ad immediately was rebroadcast all over Iowa as part of the news coverage. It's available on YouTube too.
Bottom line: Mr. Huckabee didn't have to spend a dime while landing a punch designed to damage his chief rival with Iowa's socially conservative GOP caucus goers. At the same time, with the media's help, he burnished a faux image of being above such traditional brass-knuckle methods. Mr. Huckabee launched his campaign for president last year saying that no one knows the Clintons and their political tactics as well as he does. In Iowa this week, that became clear.
No doubt, most of you have probably heard this story, but I was struck with how Clinton-esque Huckabee's attacks on Romney have become:
In a surprise move, Mike Huckabee said today that he won't air negative ads against Mitt Romney.
Claiming that he changed his mind this morning, Huckabee told reporters gathered in anticipation of seeing the spots that he would no longer attack Romney off the air, either, and would run a positive campaign in the final days before the caucuses.
But Huckabee still aired the ad he cut yesterday in which he criticized Romney on fiscal matters, gun control, law and order, and abortion.
Additionally, Huckabee spoke surrounded by five placards on easels leveling the same attacks in print on Romney.
Asked to explain the pledge to stay positive with his decision to still show the ad and display the oppo, Huckabee said his staff hadn't known of his decision until minutes before the event and that he only showed the negative spot to prove that he had actually cut one and had made this decision.
If you replace "Huckabee" with "Clinton" the narrative would still fit pretty well. Is there something in the water in Arkansas?