"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

Meanwhile, in Afghanistan

Things look grim. Here's an update from the blog of King's College Department of War.

It's Not That They Don't Want to Tell Us Where the Money Went

They just don't know.

Here's the Good News

If you are worried about a possible Depression or a supervolcano explosion, there may not be much I can do to cheer you up.

But Reason's Radley Balko notes there was a lot of good news in 2008, from falling crime rates to rising life expectancy.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Another Needless War. Another Loss for the United States

Thanbk you very much, President Bush.

Noodling for Snapping Turtles

No, really. This guy catches snapping turtles with his bare hands. Of course, he is from the South.

He Refused to Shake His Hand

Good for Bryan Caplan. I detest shaking hands. Well, I'm not too fond of most human contact. But this ritual really disturbs me for some reason. If I were really wealthy, I guess I could get away with not shaking hands, like Donald Trump does. But since I'm not I really can't afford to have people think I'm more of a jerk than they already do by refusing to touch their clammy, germ-covered digits.

But a doctor should know better, so I think i'd do the same thing Bryan did.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Joe Biden Said Barack Obama Would Be Tested in His First Six Months

I think even he didn't realize it would be by a supervolcano explosion in Yellowstone.

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."

More here.

I'm Not Saying It's Right.

I'm just saying I understand.

Get Rhythm

NRBQ tears up the Johnny Cash song.

HT to my pal Rick Henderson

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Land of the Free?

Don Cooper says think again.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Craig Pittman vs. Alexander Karelin

Before he became professional wrestler "Sergeant" Craig Pittman, he was one of the best heavyweight (over 220 pounds) Greco-Roman wrestlers in the world. But Karelin was perhaps the most dominant wrestler in any weight class in any style in history, going undefeated for 13 years (the last six he never even had a point scored on him) and winning three gold and one silver medal at the Olympics and nine world championships.

Here, Karelin demonstrates his famous reverse body lift:

There's a Lot of Things the Bush Administration Forgot

Former Treasury Secretary John Snow says the Bush administration was so eager to push homeownership among the poorest Americans that it simply "forgot" they had to be able to afford their homes.

“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

Winston Churchill Gave Rousing Speeches

But he was a vile human being whose only competence seemed to be in getting the United States involved in wars that it should not have been. That can never be said enough. Still, I'm surprised thay the fact the Lusitania was carrying war materials is being reported as news. I thought that was established knowledge. Heck, for that matter British officials, and probbaly the Wilson administration, knew it at the time.

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

They've Got Surgery for Gynecomastia

Just saying, President Obama. Just saying.

I, Pencil

Leonard Read's classic work was first published 50 years ago this month.

Fisking Krugman

Steve Horwitz does the dirty job. Krugman seems determined to dash any hopes that he will regain his sanity when George W. Bush leaves office.

Rebirth of the Neocons

Interesting article from The American Conservative. I'm not surprised that some of the neocons are now trying to hitch their wagons to Democrats. Neoconservatism is not so much as philosophy or even an ideology as it is a worship or power and especially the exercise of power.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Liquor Ban Doesn't Make Any Sense

From the Macon Telegraph:
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

Sexiest Geeks of 2008

Wired lets you vote. The list is more than a little screwy. Rosario Dawson and Morena Baccarin, to name just two examples, are certainly quite sexy. But appearing in cult movies doesn't make them geeks.

Mick Foley on "The Wrestler"

The former WWF champion gives the movie quite a bit of praise.

A Nation is Not a House

Don Boudreaux has some thoughts about immigration.

Is the Cure Worse Than the Disease?

James Grant says yes when it comes to the government's attempts to keep the recession from worsening.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Setting A Whole Lot of Bad Precedents

Steve Horwitz continues to make the case for just how awful the Bush presidency has been.

Feliz Navidad a Senor Lance Russell

Great stuff from Hector Guererro.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Pre Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc

George W. Bush explains why he invaded Iraq.

HT: Lew Rockwell

Andrew Sullivan Is Nuts

So the spanking he's been giving the Republican echo chamber on the torture issue has to be embarrassing.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Monday, December 15, 2008

Greenspan: Still Guilty

Ron and I were talking about this a couple of nights ago. Here's more evidence the Federal Reserve helped create the housing bubble.

And it's current policies are probably making things even worse.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Gold Standard

Nobel Laureate John Nash says financial crises such as the one we are currently experiencing woould be much less likely under a gold standard.

HT: Lew Rockwell.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

What's Wrong with the U.S. Navy?

This seems to illustrate my previous post's point perfectly. Chuck Spinney blogs at Defense and the National Interest about how America spends billions on its Navy and its top officers say it would still be a major undertaking for it to deal with Somali pirates.

Spinney writes:
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.

What's Wrong with the U.S. Military

An interview with Winslow Wheeler

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

Bush Ignoring the Rule of Law?

Congress could not pass a bailout for Ford, Chrysler and GM. Don't worry. President Bush says he'll do it on his own. Jacob Sullum notes this is highly illegal.
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

We Can't Do It. But We Expect You To

It turns out that the people cleaning Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff's home were illegal aliens. The Washington Post notes that the Secret Service checked their ID each time they entered Chertoff's home and apparently never found a problem.

Joe Theisman, Sid Vicious or Corey Hill

A new candidate for nastiest leg break from last night's UFC card:

For comparison: here's Sid:

And here's Joe:

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

How to Boost Home Prices

The Ayn Rand Center's Yaron Brook and Don Watkins write:

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.

Blagojevich and Obama/Bush's New Deal

Economist Steve Horwitz asks the obvious question
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

Punched Out By Joey Styles

Dave Meltzer is confirming what a number of other pro wrestling Web sites have reported. Joey Styles and Bradshaw got into a brawl backstage and Bradshaw definitely got the worst of it.

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.

He Put the Macon in Macon, Georgia

That would be Nathaniel Macon. Jane S. Shaw explains. Check out some of the quotes in the comments.

Monday, December 8, 2008

While the Bush Administration Focused on Iraq

Afghanistan was spiraling out of control. This isn't good news. It has been clear for the past four years that Bush's anti-terrorism strategy basically consists of a global game of whack-a-mole.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

U.S. Military Seeks to Enlist Foreigners

The military wants to recruit people here on work visas and student visas to fill slots as linguists as well as specialties facing shortages such as doctors and nurses.

Ethnic Businesses Thriving Despite Recession

The always informative Joel Kotkin says many businesses that cater to Asian, Middle Eastern and Hispanic Americans are still expanding and explains why.

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

Dog Saves Dog

Dog gets hit by car, and its companion braves traffic to pull it out of the road. Or maybe the second dog was just really hungry.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Why I'm Glad I'm Not Studying Economics at Berkeley

Two words: Brad DeLong.
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

One Cheer for FDR

Economist Russell Roberts points out something I never knew. Franklin Roosevelt opposed federal deposit insurance on eminently sensible grounds. His words are something for modern Democrats to ponder.

The Immigrant in My Basement

Economist Bryan Caplan explains

Monday, December 1, 2008

We May Be in a Recession

But ignorance is booming.

Where Are the Women?

Back in the 1990s, Objectivist philosopher David Kelley invited Nathaniel Branden to speak at a conference he'd organized. It was the first time Branden had spoken at to an Objectivist group since his split with Rand almost 30 years earlier.

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.