"There are men, in all ages, who mean to exercise power usefully; but who mean to exercise it. They mean to govern well; but they mean to govern. They promise to be kind masters; but they mean to be masters." Daniel Webster
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
But a doctor should know better, so I think i'd do the same thing Bryan did.
Monday, December 29, 2008
According to Wikipedia (As Accurate as the Last User):"The last full-scale eruption of the Yellowstone Supervolcano, the Lava Creek eruption, ejected approximately 240 cubic miles (1000 cubic kilometres) of rock and dust into the sky."
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Here, Karelin demonstrates his famous reverse body lift:
“The Bush administration took a lot of pride that homeownership had reached historic highs,” Mr. Snow said in an interview. “But what we forgot in the process was that it has to be done in the context of people being able to afford their house. We now realize there was a high cost.”
Bush rushing into a grand policy based on emotion and not taking them time to think about any long-term consequences? that is so unlike him.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Ralp Raico notes in his classic Rethinking Churchill that some historians, including those sympathetic to Churchill, believe the sinking of the Lusitania was arranged by Churchill in an attempt to bring the United States into the war.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Sunday liquor laws in Georgia are nothing short of nonsensical: On-premise consumption is legal, while purchasing beer, wine or spirits for consumption elsewhere is not. You can get snockered at a public place and then get behind the wheel; what you can’t do on Sunday in Georgia is drive sober to a store, purchase the adult beverage of your choice and drink it in the relative safety — yours and everyone else’s — of your own home.
Monday, December 22, 2008
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Friday, December 19, 2008
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Monday, December 15, 2008
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Saturday, December 13, 2008
In January, it is my understanding that the Pentagon will request a budget of about $581 billion for its core budget, i.e., not including the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Department of the Navy’s share of this budget should be something on the order of $150-160 billion a year, yet Admiral Gortney is telling us that securing the Horn of Africa from a gang of rag tag Somali pirates will take every cruiser and destroyer in the Navy plus 3 or [four of] its Frigates. This means the Navy would not [have] enough surface warships left over to configure the normal defense screen for even one carrier battle group. Since the United States is spending about as much on defense as the rest of the world combined, Gortney’s confession raises a basic question about about the Pentagon’s competence to do its job.
First of all, we now have the largest defense budget in inflation-adjusted dollars since the end of World War Two. That has bought the smallest military establishment we have had since the end of World War Two. We now have fewer navy combat ships and submarines, fewer combat aircraft and fewer army fighting units than we have had at any point since the end of World War Two. Our major items of equipment are on average older than at any time during this period. Key elements of our fighting forces are badly trained. In other words we’re getting less for more. People point to the two wars against Saddam Hussein. His armed forces were pitifully incompetent and even against them in both the 1991 and 2003 gulf wars we demonstrated serious deficiencies while overestimating how good we were.
Meanwhile, you want to talk about some serious delusions?
Friday, December 12, 2008
The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (PDF), which created TARP, authorizes Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson "to purchase, and to make and fund commitments to purchase, troubled assets from any financial institution." Paulson already was stretching the law when he decided to instead purchase stakes in banks (presumably on the theory that shares of their stock constituted "troubled assets"). But a carmaker is not a "financial institution," and loaning it money is not purchasing a "troubled asset." In other words, Bush is acting not only without legal authority but contrary to the stipulations of a law that Congress passed at his behest. That much is familiar. But usually he does this sort of thing under the banner of national security. Is the failure of the Big Three automakers to produce cars that people want to buy part of an Al Qaeda plot?
As I've said many times before, the so-called libertarians and small government conservatives who backed this guy have a whole lot to answer for.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Right now the housing market is in disarray. Too many homes built for our current population has sent prices spiraling downward, and millions of homeowners, stuck with mortgages they can't afford and houses they can't unload, are facing foreclosure. Meanwhile, there are millions of peaceful people around the globe eager to bring their wealth, talent, and ambition to this country, but can't because Washington forcibly prevents them from immigrating.
This government-enforced cap on the number of potential home-buyers is just another instance of price manipulation. Imagine if the number of annual immigrants increased from around 650,000 a year to, say, five million. Virtually overnight we would see money pour into the American real estate market, as millions of new businessmen and workers bought and rented homes. Not only would this eliminate the oversupply of houses, we would enjoy the broader economic benefits of welcoming legions of highly skilled and motivated individuals into the American economy.
You might be thinking, "Won't this lead to lower wages or unemployment at a time when we can least afford it?" The history of this country attests to the fact that, in the long run, immigration fosters economic growth. Even in the short run, however, the effect on wages and employment is an open question--it depends on how much capital and entrepreneurial acumen the new immigrants bring and create.
I simply do not understand how those who are in favor of giving government all of these new powers because they sincerely believe that doing so will work out the way their blackboard designs intended can keep a straight face. What kind of cognitive dissonance must it take to believe that the people YOU are handing power over to are "not like" Ted Stevens or Rod Blagojevich? How deeply must one be in denial or engage in rationalization to believe that they are "different?"
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Bradshaw realy name John Layfield, has a long history of bullying other wrestlers out of the ring and taking liberties with them in the ring. He had apparently been giving Styles hell for a couple of days before Styles squared off with him.
For those who don't follow wrestling, Bradshaw is a former college football player and Styles is an announcer whos is literally, not figuratively, about half his size.
Bradshaw may be most famous to non-wrestling fans as the husband of Fox News reporter Meredith Whitney.
Monday, December 8, 2008
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Many of our local leaders got together to read one of Richard Florida's books on why cities thrive. Kotkin has been Florida's most insightful critic, and they'd do better to read his work, instead.
Friday, December 5, 2008
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
On his blog, DeLong has long had a history of editing out comments that are critical of him, especially those that point out errors of fact. He recently linked to a Tyler Cowen post which voiced some mild approval for Ludwig von Mises' "Theory of Money and Credit."
DeLong then quoted a section of the book lauding the gold standards and then, well, he basically laughed.
Several posters then called him on the fact that he really didn't explain what was so wrong-headed about what Mises said, just relied on intellectual intimidation.
Some attempted to defend Mises' views. And yes, a few people called DeLong names. All those posts quickly went down DeLong's convenient memory hole.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Monday, December 1, 2008
His first question to Kelley on arriving at the conference was reportedly "Where are the women?" Branden said that in the 1950s and 1960s such meetings were typically filled with women, usually at least half the audience. But the 1990s meeting was 90 percent men.
What happened to the women?
Well, this article from New York magazine might explain a few things.
HT: Andrew Sullivan and Reason's Hit and Run.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
It's amazing that so many self-proclaimed libertarians and conservatives still fall for the crisis-mongering of the defense establishment. They don't give them the same sort of scrutiny they would other who urge massive spending programs and government interventions. Maybe stories like this will make them more skeptical. Nah.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
Saturday, November 22, 2008
This has been all-too-typical of Obama's picks so far, ignoring more qualified advisers for people, often with less connection to Obama, that will score them more political points.
Friday, November 21, 2008
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Monday, November 17, 2008
Saturday, November 15, 2008
But now comes word that he not only reads comics, he's even got the mylar bags and acid-free boxes.
Friday, November 14, 2008
Q: What would your plans for economic stimulation look like during this slumping economy?
A: Let’s start with what I wouldn’t do, which is make the problem worse. We can not solve our problems with what we’ve been doing — borrowing money from overseas and creating money and credit out of thin air. Distorting interest rates and inflating the monetary supply sometimes provides short-term relief, but it will only make the pain worse in the long run.
During the presidential campaign, I released the following four-point plan, and would stick by it while at the same time listening to experts for advice on how to improve it:
The Four-Point Plan
1) Tax Reform: Reduce the tax burden and eliminate taxes that punish investment and savings, including job-killing corporate taxes.
2) Spending Reform: Eliminate wasteful spending. Reduce overseas commitments. Freeze all non-defense, non-entitlement spending at current levels.
3) Monetary Policy Reform: Expand openness at the Federal Reserve and require the Fed to televise its meetings. Return value to our money.
4) Regulatory Reform: Repeal Sarbanes-Oxley regulations that push companies to seek capital outside of U.S. markets. Stop restricting community banks from fostering local economic growth.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Think about that. The most honored performer in the group's 42-year history is not Loretta Lynn, George Jones, Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, Buck Owens, Hank Williams Jr., Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson or Tammy Wynette.
It's not even Conway Twitty, John Denver, George Strait or Olivia Newton-John.
It's Garth and Kenny.
Why don't they just change the name of the awards.
And does Brad Paisley play the same guitar solo in every song?
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Writes Jim Harper
E-Verify has been offered up as a panacea for immigration problems, but the cure is worse than the disease. I wrote at length about the regulatory burdens, complexities, and principled reasons to oppose electronic employment verification on principle in a paper called “Franz Kafka’s Solution to Illegal Immigration.”
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Now, some people seem to be doing it again. But watch how they react when somebody does it to, say, protest crackdowns on illegal immigration. Then it is something unholy. Me? I'm not offended when either side does it. I just think it's silly.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Monday, November 3, 2008
But Libertarian Senate candidate Allen Buckely is still polling in the high single digits. Democrat Jim Martin doesn't seem likely to break 50 percent, so some voters can send a message to Saxby Chambliss by voting for Buckley, confident that it will simply force Martin and Chambliss into a runoff in four weeks, where they can then vote for Chambliss.
Friday, October 31, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
The late comedian Jerry Clower used to tell a story about an old man who attended a small rural church. The man didn't attend as often as he should have, but he heard that the church was going to vote on buying a chandelier and that concerned him greatly. He went that Sunday, and the pastor said he and the deacons recommended the church buy a chandelier and asked if anyone had any comments before they voted.
The old man stood up and addressed the church, telling them it was a bad idea.
"First of all, ain't nobody here knows how to play one of those things. Second, if we are going to spend that much money, we really ought to do something about the lights."
That story reflects the reality of democracy.
Studies have shown many American voters to be badly uninformed or misinformed, not only about the issues of the day, but about the basic structure of their government, an ignorance revealed by numerous surveys and polls.
"About half of all Americans do not know that each state has two senators, and three quarters do not know the length of their terms," writes George Mason university economist Bryan Caplan.
Caplan's new book "The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies" lays out just how uninformed many voters are.
Just a couple of examples: Over half cannot name their congressman, and an even lower percentage cannot name his or her party affiliation.
But don't feel bad. We are no more ignorant than our ancestors. Since the birth of polling decades ago, surveys have shown voters have a low level of knowledge about political issues.
And "international comparisons reveal Americans' overall political knowledge to be no more than moderately below average," Caplan notes.
Using polling data, Caplan shows that a large number of voters suffer from four biases that lead them in the wrong direction on policy matters.
They have an antimarket bias, a tendency to underestimate the benefits of a free market.
They also have an anti-foreign bias, a tendency to underestimate the benefits or over estimate the costs of dealing economically with foreigners.
The fear about Japanese investment in the United States is a perfect example of this. Caplan notes that during the period when polls showed the greatest concern about Japanese companies buying up America, British investment in the United States by at least 50 percent every year, and there was no outcry over the Brits buying everything.
Voters also suffer from a make-work bias, a tendency to overestimate the costs of job losses.
The fourth and final bias is a pessimistic bias, a tendency to overestimate the severity of current economic problems and underestimate the future performance of the economy.
"This pessimistic bias is a general-interest prop to political demagoguery of all kinds. It creates a presumption that matters, left uncontrolled, are spiraling to destruction, and that something has to be done, no matter how costly or ultimately counterproductive to wealth or freedom. This mind-set plays a role in almost every modern political controversy, from downsizing to immigration to global warming," Caplan wrote in an article for Reason magazine.
Again, none of these four biases are unique to 21st-century American. In all times and in all places, a significant number of people have distrusted foreigners and, believed the world was going to hell even in the times of greatest peace and prosperity.
If voters views on economic matters are so out of skew with reality, how can we get them, and the people they elect, to make the write decisions?
In an ideal world, having read Henry Hazlitt's "Economics in One Lesson" and Julian Simon's "The Ultimate Resource" would be a requirement for voting.
But we don't live in that world.
Caplan notes that better-educated voters tend to be more knowledgeable about economic matters. He also notes that until 1949, Great Britain allowed graduates of its top universities and business owners to vote multiple times.
"Since more educated voters think more like economists, there is much to be said for such weighting schemes. I leave it to the reader to decide whether 1948 Britain counts as a democracy," he writes.
Perhaps a less controversial proposal is one he says was suggested by psychologist Steven Pinker. That calls for schools to change their curricula to help students uncover and overcome their biases. In this plan, statistics, economics and evolutionary biology would have a much larger place, while other subjects would be cut.
It certainly couldn't hurt.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Future historians may someday refer to this sad episode as the Bernanke-Paulson Recession, concluding that it was the policies of those two individuals, more than any other factors, that turned what was not even a mild recession into a major economic downturn.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Friday, October 24, 2008
Funny, it was just a few weeks ago some people were complaining that the stores, the oil companies, someone was unfairly hiking prices. When you'd try to talk to them about supply and demand, all they could say was that greed was running amok. I guess the oil companies just got less greedy all of a sudden.
I agree with Frederic Sautet that Greenspan's fundamental mistake took place decades earlier.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
The good news? Larry Kudlow says the two likely candidates for Treasury Secretary in a Barack Obama administration are Paul Volcker and Larry Summers.
The bad news? Iain Murray says the most likely Treasury Secretary under Obama would be JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dion.
Monday, October 20, 2008
Ilya Somin, Matt Welch and Jesse Walker ably take apart Jacob Weisberg's attempts to blame the current financial crisis on libertarianism.
I am convinced, however, that the link between free market economics and the Republican Party in general and Georeg W. Bush in particular has caused a serious problem in terms of public respect for free market ideas and will for some time.
Yes, many of of us who consider ourselves advocates of a free market know that Bush's policies were far from laissez faire. But look at how many self-proclaimed libertarians and free market types endorsed Bush, campaigned for him, served in his administration and covered for him. Some of them may have criticized the administration on particular issues, but many still stood by him until the last couple of years.
Can we blame the public for believing the policies of the Bush administration, the policies of the Republican Party and the free market are all one and the same?
President Bush came in and immediately began doubling the Department of Education budget and inaugurating the largest expansion of entitlements since Lyndon Johnson, in the form of the prescription drug benefit for seniors. In eight years he has doubled the national debt.
In the last month, both Bush and presidential candidate John McCain backed the most significant government intervention into the market in several decades, perhaps longer, when they signed and voted for the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008. This act gave the Treasury virtually dictatorial powers and nearly a trillion dollars to buy up practically any American financial instruments it deems desirable, making it the biggest player in the market and essentially nationalizing the entire financial sector.
McCain has gone on to propose an enormous plan for Washington to buy up troubled mortgages directly, at a price tag of hundreds of billions by conservative estimates. He copied the plan almost exactly from Hillary Clinton, called her to ask her advice on it, and has pitched it as resembling her proposal. Even Barack Obama thinks it is unwise and reckless.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Hansen hits him with a series of forearms about three minutes in, which appears to be what does it. Vader pulls his mask off, sticks his eyeball back into the socket and wrestles another 12 minutes or so (the rest of the match is available on YouTube).
There's a fine line between badass and dumbass. I'm not sure which side Vader is on.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
What's odd is that this is treated as news. Anyone who knows anything about immigration to the United States knows that in ethnic enclaves foreign languages tended to persist and be predominant for many years.
In Texas, some communities founded by German immigrants continued to have heavy concentrations of people speaking primarily German into the 20th century. There's this myth that somehow today's immigrants are different, but the pattern seems much the same. The first generation often learns little English, especially if they come here as adults. The second generation is bilingual and may or may not be more comfortable in English, and the third generation and after tends to speak less and less of their grandparents' language.
our central bankers and our Treasury Department are getting it wrong again.
To understand why, one first has to understand the nature of the current "credit market disturbance," as Ms. Schwartz delicately calls it. We now hear almost every day that banks will not lend to each other, or will do so only at punitive interest rates. Credit spreads -- the difference between what it costs the government to borrow and what private-sector borrowers must pay -- are at historic highs.
This is not due to a lack of money available to lend, Ms. Schwartz says, but to a lack of faith in the ability of borrowers to repay their debts. "The Fed," she argues, "has gone about as if the problem is a shortage of liquidity. That is not the basic problem. The basic problem for the markets is that [uncertainty] that the balance sheets of financial firms are credible."
So even though the Fed has flooded the credit markets with cash, spreads haven't budged because banks don't know who is still solvent and who is not. This uncertainty, says Ms. Schwartz, is "the basic problem in the credit market. Lending freezes up when lenders are uncertain that would-be borrowers have the resources to repay them. So to assume that the whole problem is inadequate liquidity bypasses the real issue."
In the 1930s, as Ms. Schwartz and Mr. Friedman argued in "A Monetary History," the country and the Federal Reserve were faced with a liquidity crisis in the banking sector. As banks failed, depositors became alarmed that they'd lose their money if their bank, too, failed. So bank runs began, and these became self-reinforcing: "If the borrowers hadn't withdrawn cash, they [the banks] would have been in good shape. But the Fed just sat by and did nothing, so bank after bank failed. And that only motivated depositors to withdraw funds from banks that were not in distress," deepening the crisis and causing still more failures.
But "that's not what's going on in the market now," Ms. Schwartz says.
In fact, by keeping otherwise insolvent banks afloat, the Federal Reserve and the Treasury have actually prolonged the crisis. "They should not be recapitalizing firms that should be shut down."
Rather, "firms that made wrong decisions should fail," she says bluntly. "You shouldn't rescue them. And once that's established as a principle, I think the market recognizes that it makes sense. Everything works much better when wrong decisions are punished and good decisions make you rich." The trouble is, "that's not the way the world has been going in recent years."
Instead, we've been hearing for most of the past year about "systemic risk" -- the notion that allowing one firm to fail will cause a cascade that will take down otherwise healthy companies in its wake.
Ms. Schwartz doesn't buy it. "It's very easy when you're a market participant," she notes with a smile, "to claim that you shouldn't shut down a firm that's in really bad straits because everybody else who has lent to it will be injured. Well, if they lent to a firm that they knew was pretty rocky, that's their responsibility. And if they have to be denied repayment of their loans, well, they wished it on themselves. The [government] doesn't have to save them, just as it didn't save the stockholders and the employees of Bear Stearns. Why should they be worried about the creditors? Creditors are no more worthy of being rescued than ordinary people, who are really innocent of what's been going on."
It takes real guts to let a large, powerful institution go down. But the alternative -- the current credit freeze -- is worse, Ms. Schwartz argues.
"I think if you have some principles and know what you're doing, the market responds. They see that you have some structure to your actions, that it isn't just ad hoc -- you'll do this today but you'll do something different tomorrow. And the market respects people in supervisory positions who seem to be on top of what's going on. So I think if you're tough about firms that have invested unwisely, the market won't blame you. They'll say, 'Well, yeah, it's your fault. You did this. Nobody else told you to do it. Why should we be saving you at this point if you're stuck with assets you can't sell and liabilities you can't pay off?'" But when the authorities finally got around to letting Lehman Brothers fail, it had saved so many others already that the markets didn't know how to react. Instead of looking principled, the authorities looked erratic and inconstant.
Friday, October 17, 2008
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
I covered politics, economics and government, not business. I really enjoyed my time there. Hey, I spent almost a decade working there. But I know that I and other writers were pretty convinced that we were just filler between the stock tables.
I'm glad they are doing well. I still have a couple of friends that work there. But the editorial page, which was always a "red meat for the bubbas" type page, seems to have veered off into Michael Savage territory in the past few years.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Let's leave aside just how persuasive his case was for Obama, as against voting for John McCain and focus on Buckley's thought's about the state of American conservatism and the Republican Party in the 21st century:
While I regret this development, I am not in mourning, for I no longer have any clear idea what, exactly, the modern conservative movement stands for. Eight years of “conservative” government has brought us a doubled national debt, ruinous expansion of entitlement programs, bridges to nowhere, poster boy Jack Abramoff and an ill-premised, ill-waged war conducted by politicians of breathtaking arrogance. As a sideshow, it brought us a truly obscene attempt at federal intervention in the Terry Schiavo case.
So, to paraphrase a real conservative, Ronald Reagan: I haven’t left the Republican Party. It left me.
In the future, libertarian and free market organizations should ask one simple question of any new hires and current employees. Did you vote for Bush in 2000 or 2004? If the answer is yes, send them packing to AEI or some other neocon outfit.
The capital injections are not voluntary, with Mr. Paulson making it clear this was a one-time offer that everyone at the meeting should accept.
Economist Tyler Cowen writes
No matter what your point of view, you ought to be stunned by this development.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Saturday, October 11, 2008
At Fort McNair, an army base located along the Potomac River in the nation's capital, a chance reunion takes place one day between two former POWs. It's the spring of 1974, and Navy commander John Sidney McCain III has returned home from the experience in Hanoi that, according to legend, transformed him from a callow and reckless youth into a serious man of patriotism and purpose. Walking along the grounds at Fort McNair, McCain runs into John Dramesi, an Air Force lieutenant colonel who was also imprisoned and tortured in Vietnam.
McCain is studying at the National War College, a prestigious graduate program he had to pull strings with the Secretary of the Navy to get into. Dramesi is enrolled, on his own merit, at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces in the building next door.
There's a distance between the two men that belies their shared experience in North Vietnam — call it an honor gap. Like many American POWs, McCain broke down under torture and offered a "confession" to his North Vietnamese captors. Dramesi, in contrast, attempted two daring escapes. For the second he was brutalized for a month with daily torture sessions that nearly killed him. His partner in the escape, Lt. Col. Ed Atterberry, didn't survive the mistreatment. But Dramesi never said a disloyal word, and for his heroism was awarded two Air Force Crosses, one of the service's highest distinctions. McCain would later hail him as "one of the toughest guys I've ever met."
On the grounds between the two brick colleges, the chitchat between the scion of four-star admirals and the son of a prizefighter turns to their academic travels; both colleges sponsor a trip abroad for young officers to network with military and political leaders in a distant corner of the globe.
"I'm going to the Middle East," Dramesi says. "Turkey, Kuwait, Lebanon, Iran."
"Why are you going to the Middle East?" McCain asks, dismissively.
"It's a place we're probably going to have some problems," Dramesi says.
"Why? Where are you going to, John?"
"Oh, I'm going to Rio."
"What the hell are you going to Rio for?"
McCain, a married father of three, shrugs.
"I got a better chance of getting laid."
Dramesi, who went on to serve as chief war planner for U.S. Air Forces in Europe and commander of a wing of the Strategic Air Command, was not surprised. "McCain says his life changed while he was in Vietnam, and he is now a different man," Dramesi says today. "But he's still the undisciplined, spoiled brat that he was when he went in."
The name John Dramesi seemed slightly familiar, so I Googled it and quickly found he's a controversial figure among former Vietnam POWs. He's as admired for his toughness as he is reviled for his, well, toughness. The Chicago Reader explains
He was so tough he was viewed as a danger to the health, and even the lives, of the other POWs.
Dramesi knows what they thought about him, and still think. He told me, "If you talk to another POW -- and I've been told this -- if you mention my name to another POW, if you meet somebody and you find out they were a POW, and they'll be telling you stories, and you say 'I know a POW.' 'Who do you know?' 'I know John Dramesi.' All of a sudden the conversation will come to a complete standstill and they’ll probably walk away."
As Dickinson noted, Dramesi escaped and was recaptured twice. The second time, the North Vietnamese made vicious reprisals against the rest of their prisoners, and Dramesi and Ed Atterberry, the POW he escaped with, were beaten so badly that Atterberry died. Dramesi planned a third escape, but the senior POWs at his camp ordered him not to try it. Nobody wanted to be tortured again. Dramesi says he once got a letter from McCain that called the escape with Atterberry "infamous."
This is how the Reader article concludes
In my experience the mind of John Dramesi has never betrayed the slightest confusion. I asked him for his thoughts on the present war. "The Iraqi war never should have happened," he said. "I'm convinced and I think Congress is convinced -- but Congress never had guts enough to impeach Bush."
And who will he vote for next month? "Knowing John, and what I know of Barack Obama, I would say I would vote for an individual who is certainly more intelligent and who has discipline, which is the key factor I'm concerned with. A president without discipline. . . . Again, the old adage 'Country first' with John McCain really doesn’t apply."
And here's a review of Dramesi's book by another Air Force officer.
Friday, October 10, 2008
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Sunday, October 5, 2008
Saturday, October 4, 2008
One final thought: if one really believes this bailout will make matters worse, especially significantly worse, I think it's a reason to vote/root for Obama. Should McCain win and things go downhill, it will be much easier to blame the mess on "free markets" and "deregulation," not because McCain believes those things but because of GOP lip-service to them and the perception that they've acted on that lip-service. With Obama in office, and things going south, it might be more akin to the late 70s under Carter, where the blame is less likely to be laid at the feet of markets. I might be wrong about this, but given the disastrous combination of free market "talk" but statist action by the GOP, I think I'd rather have the folks who don't even talk the talk at the helm when the waters get very choppy.
I don't know if the movie is funny or not. If it is, it would be the first funny one David Zucker has made in 15 years. I'll probably catch it when it comes to cable, just like I did "Scary Movie 3," though that is more than I can say for Bill Maher's new movie.
Friday, October 3, 2008
The more I see of here, the more I regret that H.L. Mencken isn't still around to cover this election. For that matter, Palin seems like the sort of character Sinclair Lewis would have dreamed up if he'd lived in the 21st Century.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Two years ago, the hardline Islamic Courts regime, allied with a number of regional warlords, had brought a measure of stability to Somalia after 15 years of civil war. The Courts suppressed piracy to its lowest level in years. But U.S. suspicions that the Courts were actively harboring Al-Qaeda operatives led the U.S. to sponsor an joint invasion by Ethiopia and an alliance of outside Somali clans, destroying the Courts and sparking a bloody, Iraq-style insurgency. In the wake of the invasion, piracy flared up again.
I think Big Player influences are an important part of how we got into this mess. Clearly, they are a characteristic feature of the current crisis. What do many Washington politicians wish to do in this environment? Increase Big Player influence! We are suffering now from over-politicized markets. Making markets more politicized can only make things worse. In the past, only government entities such as the central bank could be Big Players beyond the short run. A “rescue” that effaces the difference between private and public ownership (by giving the state stock warrants for example) and enshrines the too-big-to-fail doctrine turns the biggest private, profit-seeking corporate enterprises into Big Players.
Monday, September 29, 2008
[I]t is now generally agreed that the following ingredients came together to worsen an inevitable downturn and turn it into the Great Depression:
1. a crash in asset prices, wiping out much wealth that had been thought secure, 2. a revival in protectionism early in the downturn, destabilizing the world payments equilibrium and causing world trade to decline 3. a series of serious banking crashes – the Bank of the United States failure of December 1930, followed by the Austrian Creditanstalt crash of May 1931, leading to a collapse in the US and global money supply which was not corrected by the Fed4. a determined diversion of resources from the private sector to the public sector, initially in 1931-32 by President Herbert Hoover’s Reconstruction Finance Corporation and then by the New Deal 5. a panicky incentive-killing tax increase pushing up top marginal income tax rates sharply from 25% to 63% 6. a partial abandonment of basic principles of capitalism through the first New Deal, disrupting relations between buyers and sellers 7. a government-directed destruction of capital raising mechanisms, motivated by hatred of Wall Street and rendering risky debt and equity issues almost impossible for the next decade
Sunday, September 28, 2008
I don't know all the dynamics in this family. Nor all of the dynamics between various family membes and the Obama campaign. But it's clearly more complicated than the "Obama bad" message spread by some drive-by bloggers.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Palin’s political style is the logical extreme of the Bushian folksiness-trumps-expertise and McCainesque “authenticity”-trumps-policy approaches. She is a natural product of mass democracy’s ongoing pursuit of charismatic mediocrity, in which voters not only seek someone with whom they can identify but also actively discourage politicians’ cultivation of expertise. Expertise grates against their egalitarianism, and so they try to avoid it in their political leaders.
Friday, September 26, 2008
Thursday, September 25, 2008
From the Washington Post letters:
While witnessing, but not participating in, the home real estate frenzy in 2005 and 2006, I kept asking: Who is the idiot buying up all these mortgages issued on inflated home prices to all these people who have neither the capacity nor the intention to repay the loans?
Now I learn it was me.
TED THACKER Ann Arbor, Mich.
HT: Todd Zywicki
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
My own decidedly unexpert opinion is that we likely aren't in a crisis now but we are close enough that the wrong policy decisions can take us into one.
In other words, Paulson, Frank, Dodds, Bernanke et al can do a lot more harm than good. Unfortunately, I think they are also more likely to make the wrong choices than the right ones.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Buckley makes explicit what has been an unstated premise of others with Obamacon tendencies: thoughtfulness, or any ability to think at all, is a necessary (if not sufficient) precondition for governing well, or at least not governing in a catastrophically terrible fashion
Monday, September 22, 2008
Employment attorney Julie Pace, who represents businesses attempting to overturn Pearce's law, says the legal situation is so complicated that most immigration lawyers do not understand it. She represents employers who are being simultaneously charged by ICE for having hired undocumented workers and by the U.S. Justice Department's Civil Rights Division for racial profiling in an effort to avoid hiring undocumented workers. Going over and above the demands of any one law can mean fines, a license suspension, and, increasingly, asset seizure.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Bryan's co-blogger, Arnold Kling, writes:
Bernanke and Paulson don't think of what they are doing as charity. It's more like an entrepreneurial business, where they intend to buy what they think are undervalued mortgages assets, which they believe they can finance profitably.
They may be right, but if they took their business plan as written to any bank or VC, they'd be laughed out of the office. The plan is utterly vague, untested, and there is no proof that they have or can find the executive talent needed to run a pilot program of this kind, much less scale it up to $700 billion.
Today, it is clear that the U.S. financial sector needs to shrink. As another one of your former classmates, Ken Rogoff, has pointed out, the financial sector has accounted for an unusually large share of corporate profits in recent years. It is time for this country to shift talent and capital elsewhere. In order for that to happen, some firms in the industry need to tighten their belts, some weaker firms need to merge with stronger firms, and the weakest firms need to fail. As tempting as it is to intervene in this process to try to make it more orderly, dislocation is inevitable, and intervention may only make it worse.
We have excesses. Too many housing units. Too many "homeowners" who don't have equity in their homes and never did. Too many banks and financial institutions. The excesses need to be worked out by the markets.
Also, it looks like the U.S. taxpayer will be bailing out foreign banks, too.
More from Sebastian Mallaby.
My rule of thumb is, as always, if you must choose between two evils, choose the one whose sins are less likely to tar capitalism and market liberalism.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Friday, September 19, 2008
As Ilya Somin notes, the United States currently ranks eighth on the Cato/Fraser index, down from second in 2000, the last ranking before the Bush administration. The United States raw score also dropped slightly, due to the large growth of government on Bush's watch.
Glenn Reynolds can’t find any good reasons for the greater media coverage of Hurricane Katrina than of Hurricane Ike:
Perhaps, the reason is that Katrina’s death toll of over 1800 made it among the top ten natural disasters in American history, with most of the deaths occurring in Louisiana. It is also possible that the sight of the city of New Orleans under water was a compelling media image.
But then there is the possibility that Reynolds is simply wrong. I’ve seen coverage of Hurricane Ike on the news almost daily and The New York Times has had extensive coverage. So where is the media blackout on Texas hurricanes?
Thursday, September 18, 2008
I've said before that those libertarians and free-market conservatives who supported George W. Bush will have a lot to answer for. How can we blame the public for associating the free market with the policies of the Bush administration when so many alleged defenders of the free market were associated with Bush and his policies?
Yes, some free marketeers opposed Bush on some measures. But how many self-styled libertarians served in his administration, how many gave money to him and to other Republicans, how many editorial pages which claim to support free enterprise endorsed him for president, how many supported his interventionist foreign policy?
And it didn't start with Bush. For more than 30 years, the free market movement has been intertwined with the Republican Party. If the GOP'a policies fail, then it discredits defenders of the free market as well, and frankly, those who were ever a part of it deserve to be discredited. It's a shame they will discredit the rest of us.
The economic fallout from these events is dominating the headlines. The intellectual and ideological fallout we are just beginning to contemplate.
I fear he is right.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
If you glean one fact from the illustration, make it this: In an economically expansionary era in which 20 million jobs have been created in 15 years, unemployment hasn't once cracked 7 percent, and even the supposedly recessionary economy we're suffering through right now grew 1.9 percent in the second quarter of 2008, unskilled foreign workers are expected to fight over just 10,000 green cards a year. Restaurants and construction companies around the country have an exponentially higher demand for low-skilled workers, and laborers in Mexico have an insatiable desire for more money, but poorly conceived U.S. law prevents supply from meeting demand. That's one part of illegal I don't understand.
I think it is blazingly obvious that John McCain, as a matter of temperament and values, is completely unfit to be president. Giuliani’s convention speech about how the election is like a job interview only affirmed for me Barack Obama’s superior qualifications. He is a man of remarkable competence, with an eye for both the big picture and the institutional details, who has a sober temper and an evident ability to inspire and effectively lead those reporting to him. He’s just the kind of guy I’d want as an executive, were I filling an executive position. Joe Biden is qualified to be president in much the same way McCain is; he is a lifelong asshole and American senator.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Now that things are going well in Iraq, it has suddenly come to our attention that things are not going well in Afghanistan. As a result, both candidates are calling for more troops. However, given the fact neither the United States nor NATO has a clearly stated strategy for Afghanistan, the first question the candidates should explore is exactly what that strategy should be. Neither has expressed a clear national strategy for Afghanistan nor how he will convince NATO, the Afghan government and its neighbors to support his strategy and, of particular importance, how his strategy fits into a greater regional strategy. Despite this clear lack of a strategy, both candidates jumped to the assumption that more troops can solve the problems of Afghanistan.
Even worse, to date, the candidates are discussing only Afghanistan without mentioning Pakistan or India. Yet both these Southwest Asian nations are much more critical to the United States future than Afghanistan. Neither candidate has questioned the wisdom of bombing, and likely destabilizing Pakistan, a nuclear-armed nation of almost 170 million people, in order to help our security efforts in Afghanistan. Nor has there been a discussion whether dedicating more resources to Afghanistan is more effective than dedicating different but equivalent resources to support Pakistan. This is despite the fact that 80% of the supplies for the forces we have in Afghanistan come by road directly through one of the least stable parts of Pakistan. In short, if Pakistan destabilizes we probably lose in Afghanistan – the converse is not true.
Yet, our position in Afghanistan appears to be largely shaping our policy toward Pakistan. And our actions in Pakistan inevitably have a major impact on our relationship with India -- a rising nation destined to be the most important of the three.
We entered Afghanistan to destroy Al Qaeda’s operating forces and eliminate its training bases. We successfully eliminated the bases and hurt Al Qaeda badly. One reason often given for our presence in Afghanistan is that we must stabilize it as a nation so that Al Qaeda can never use it as a terrorist base again. Unfortunately, Al Qaeda has moved its forces and its bases into Pakistan. The subsequent conflict inside Pakistan is contributing to increasing instability in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and has greatly increased the strain on the Pakistani government.
Before we rush more troops into Afghanistan, we must answer basic questions about our strategy for the region and how our efforts in Afghanistan support that strategy. Good tactics and more troops are not a substitute for a strategy – and in fact can significantly raise the cost of a bad strategy. Both candidates need to explain the strategy that justifies such a commitment.
We asked the economists which candidate for president would be best for the economy in the long run. Not surprisingly, 88 percent of Democratic economists think Democratic Sen. Barack Obama would be best, while 80 percent of Republican economists pick Republican Sen. John McCain.
Independent economists, who in our sample are largely from the academic world, lean toward Obama by 46 percent compared to 39 percent for McCain.
Overall, 59 percent of our economists say Obama would be best for the economy long term, with 31 percent picking McCain, and 8 percent saying there would be no difference.
We can't know the degree of bias in our survey group. But we have some clues. On the issue of international trade, only 42 percent of our Democratic economists support Obama's plans, with 34 percent favoring McCain. Independents favored McCain on this question by 63 percent to 16 percent, while favoring Obama overall.
Now, John McCain's adviser Carly Fiorina says the sketch was actually sexist.
Sarah seems to have forgotten the McCain mantra that he can't be criticized or made fun of because he spent five years in a POW camp and any criticism, parody or hard questioning of her is sexism.
Update: David Weigel points out more another Palin reversal. Calling a bipartisan inquiry partisan? Maybe she is learning to play the McCain game.
Monday, September 15, 2008
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Sometimes outnumbered by as much as seven to one, usually without air support, German troops nevertheless fought with remarkable skill and intensity, inflicting proportionally more casualties than they suffered, forcing their enemies to pay dearly for every kilometer they eventually conquered.
I'd take issue with the comment, however, about how well Germany's war economy ran. From everything I've read, even the Soviet economy functioned better than that of Nazi Germany. The German Army was always reliant on horse-drawn vehicles for transportation. German tanks were perpetually short of spare parts and fuel.
I've often wondered if the problems we face today with so many people so willing to commit to using force across the world is due to the American myth of World War II. The myth that, as one World War II vet told me recently, the Brits had lost everything, so we had to go in there and take care of things. Of course, this completely overlooks the Eastern front, where the war was really decided. What would have happened if the Russians hadn't bled Germany dry?
Interviews show that Ms. Palin runs an administration that puts a premium on loyalty and secrecy. The governor and her top officials sometimes use personal e-mail accounts for state business; dozens of e-mail messages obtained by The New York Times show that her staff members studied whether that could allow them to circumvent subpoenas seeking public records.
Update: Radley Balko adds:
I’m starting to see the picture of a Bush-like ideologue who’s not only not particularly cultured or worldly, but also has no intellectual curiosity, no interest in being challenged, and has little tolerance for dissent. The article explains that she surrounds herself with doting supporters, and lashes out for even minor criticisms.
My tepid defense of Palin last week was based on what information was available shortly after her nomination. I may need to rethink it.
Seriously, if Palin the best libertarians can hope for from a major party, they probably should just go ahead and vote for Cynthia McKinney or Ralph Nader. At least they won't have to spend the next four or eight years trying to explain to people that Nader or McKinney's policies aren't what libertarianism is all about. The so-called libertarians who supported George W. Bush have already done enough damage to libertarianism's public image.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
It clearly tickles Brooks’ collectivist fancy “when John McCain talks at a forum about national service.” But that is precisely when McCain exposes his martial animosity to the character of his own country. Brooks may wish to join McCain in an effort to efface the separateness of lives, to degrade the dignity of self-creation and self-command by denying its possibility, to cultivate in Americans the docility of subjects ready to kill and die for the state. In Prussia this may have been a “conservative” project. But this is America. And defending American individualism is my one conservative impulse!
So, David Brooks, here’s a line. Paine, Emerson, Thoreau, Whitman, Garrison, Spooner, Tucker, Twain, Mencken, Hayek, Friedman, Rand, and America are over here on this side. And there’s you over there. You are most welcome to step across and attempt to wrest the individualism from our cold dead fingers. Bring McCain! In fairness, I should say that Emerson is a vicious Indian leg wrestler.
HT: Diana Hsieh.
Friday, September 12, 2008
BTW, in Way of the Dragon there's a classic fight scene between Bruce Lee and Norris, where Lee famously rips a handful of hair from Chuck's very hirsute chest. These days, when you watch those TotalGym ads, Chuck's chest looks smoother than Christie Brinkley's. Does a real man really wax his torso?