"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

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Obama Is a Hands-On Guy

Here's an interesting piece on Barack Obama's nonverbal communication style.

HT: Will Wilkinson

Eight Isn't Enough

The California woman who gave birth to octuplets has six other children and a history of financial problems.

Our Pain Is Washington's Gain

Joel Kotkin explains how national crises are good for the political class.

Radley Balko shows how the counties surrounding D.C. are some of the wealthiest in the nation.

I think I've mentioned before that some of the local poobahs have been reading Richard Florida's work on how cities thrive. Kotkin has been Florida's sharpest critic, and I hope they also read his work as well.

A Couple of Chuckles Here

Ron sent these links:

Friday, January 30, 2009

World's Strongest Granny

She's 72.

Interns Attack Fabulous Ones' Fathers

The gentlemen in this clip really are Stan Lane and Steve Keirn's fathers. Keirn pere was an Air Force pilot and the only man to be a POW in both World War II and the Vietnam War.

Is Obama the New Hoover

David Henderson points to four things Herbert Hoover did that made the Great Depression worse. He notes that Barack Obama is already doing one of these things.

Virginia Postrel points to a second item on Henderson's list that Obama is copying.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Bush, You Magnificent Bastard! Obama Read Your Book

Jesse Walker tells us that supporters of Barack Obama's stimulus plan copied their gameplan from George W. Bush's push to go to war with Iraq.

Why the War on Terror Will Continue

Daniel Larison gets it just right when he says:

Like its open-ended, ill-defined and misguided cousins, the drug war and the war on poverty, the “war on terror” is a rhetorical frame and set of policies that may not be very good at achieving the objectives for which it was created, but it is very valuable as an ongoing, never-ending pretext for concentrating additional power in the federal government and as a justification for preserving and expanding bureaucratic territory and budgets. If these “wars” were judged on whether they met their stated objectives in a reasonable amount of time in an affordable way, not only the phrases but most of the policies related to them would have been eliminated long ago. Whatever their initial ideal purpose and whatever the intentions of their creators, these “wars” become self-perpetuating rackets whose preservation becomes the priority of all those institutions and interest groups with a stake in the policies in question.

There's much more at the post. Yeah, the so-called libertarians and small government conservatives who backed George W. Bush have a lot to answer for.

Obama Debt Bill Round Up

Let's stop calling it stimulus. It's nothing more than pork, protectionism, and big government that will not have much timely impact on the economy.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Gitmo: Worst of the Worst?

Those released have a recidivism rate of 4 or 5 percent.

This Is Very Bad News

Unless, of course, we can move the supercollider to Yellowstone and use the black hole to devour the supervolcano.

Monday, January 26, 2009

But Do Japanese Men Really Want to Spend More Time with Their Families?

Apparently, the Japanese government is urging companies to give employees more free time in hopes they will go home and procreate.

Brad DeLong Is Still an Ethics Free Partisan Hack (Part of a Series)

Maybe that's why he thinks every other economist is as well.

But Pete Boettke reminds him that many "conservative" economists also opposed some of George W. Bush's policies.

Meanwhile, Will Wilkinson wants to know what the heck is wrong with economists. But there's nothing wrong with economists. There are just a few bad actors (DeLong, Krugman) engaging in the ad hominem attacks and other behavior Wilkinson decries. The rest, on both sides, seem to be having a pretty civil debate.

Bruce Bartlett has a pretty even-handed summary of the disagreements.

Barack Obama Teaches English to the Japanese

He wants your job, Ron.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

What Would Keynes Do?

Economist Mario Rizzo actually shows what Keynes really thought of public works spending in an effort to battle recession.

English-first backer tied to alleged hate groups

Here's an article from The Nashville Tennesean on John Tanton, who also started the anti-immigration Federation for American Immigration Reform.

Little Green Footballs has more.

Ramos and Compean

Jacob Sullum explains why President Bush should not have commuted the sentences of two Border Patrol agents who shot a drug smuggler in the back.

David Weigel argued much the same back in 2007. Check out the link in Weigel's post to a piece by former prosecutor Andrew McCarthy on the National Review's Web site to see that not all conservatives made poster boys of the shooters.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Feith Says Bush Lied U.S. Into War

Great post from the Cato Institute blog. I remember when Douglas Feith's book came out and the Republican echo chamber was touting it highly. I spent a couple of hours in a bookstore and wondered if he had actually read it because it seemed to me to, entirely unintentionally, confirm everything that critics of the Iraq War had claimed.

Baptists and Bootleggers

That's the coalition that kept much of the South from allowing the legal sale of alcoholic beverages for many years. It has also become asort of shorthand for how self-interested individuals and moralistic groups use each other to ban or regulatet certain activities.

Jerry Taylor looks at one example from the environmental field.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Kevin Sullivan Summons the Purple Haze

Brad DeLong Is Still an Ethics Free Partisan Hack

DeLong recently asked on his blog why his traffic spiked on Jan. 10. He said he couldn't fugure it out. That was, of course, the day he attacked numerous economists who oppose the Democrats' stimulus bill as Republican shills.

It kicked off a round of discussions on other econ blogs. Many of those economists are not Republican and pointed that out. Others, who were not even involved in the inital debate objected to DeLong's ad hominen attacks.

People have politely tried to point this out on DeLong's blog, only to have their comments quickly removed, as is his custom when dealing with critics. It's been pretty funny to watch.

What hasn't been funny is to see libertarians sit on panel discussions with him or to see him invited to the Cato Institute to speak. I'm all for discussion, debate and interaction with serious scholars of all persuasions. But I don't see why you would reward someone with a history of rudeness, ad hominem attacks, deliberate distortions of others viewpoints and general unscholarly behavior. What is to be gained from talking to someone like that. Then again, Cato is the organization whose vice president for research gave his impimatur to the Iraq War.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Barack Obama's War Against Science

Robert Bradley writes about Obama's science advisor John Holdren.

How Osama Bin Laden Defeated America

Jon Basil Utley explaims.

And Damian Penny reminds us of this 1988 review of Paul Kennedy's "The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers":

BY now, European, Soviet and Japanese recovery, together with the slower emergence of the People's Republic of China, has gradually reduced American ascendancy to that of primus inter pares at best; and, like other great powers in the past, in order to preserve her hegemonial status the United States has felt it necessary to allocate an increasing share of her resources to defense expenditure. Now she finds herself in the position of Spain and France before her. Unwilling to defray the costs of empire by an equitable system of domestic taxation, she has tried to pay for it by a combination of deficit financing and external indebtedness which in her case threatens the stability of the whole free-market system. And as was the case with Hapsburg Spain, she preserves her ascendancy only because the condition of her major adversary is even worse.

At Least One Libertarian Is Happy with Obama's First Day on the Job

Radley Balko explains why.

Bush = Obama

Daniel Larison rights on the ideology of national security. The cult of national security might be a more apt description for the Washington consensus because it brooks no heretics or dissenters.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Barack Obama Dances Just Like Hugh Hefner

That's not a compliment. Seriously, watching him dance at the inaugural ball I kept looking around to see if Chuck McCann or Jack Carter was somewhere in the picture.

The Choice Isn't No Banks or Zombie Banks

Arnold Kling explains

The King Lives

In illinois.

Monday, January 19, 2009

What Conservatives Think About the Draft

Well, what they thought before neocons took over the movement.

Who Watches the Watchmen?

Starting March 6, we all can.

Immigrants Remake Community and No One Notices

Fascinating article on Korean immigration to Great Britain.

This is a bourgeois invasion. Korea and Britain could hardly be more remote and different from each other. Yet these two groups, the Home Counties British and the Korean newcomers, are astonishingly similar: self-contained, reticent, desperate to avoid offence and very bad at making connections, partly because they are both hopeless at foreign languages.

Battlestar Galactica

A few weeks ago, I joked to Ron that I was anxious for the final half of BSG's last season to begin so I could finally be disappointed.

The first episode aired last week, and my reaction to it is pretty much what my reaction to the series as a whole has been. The show has a tremendous premise and generally interesting characters, and the producers have added to that top-notch acting and great production values.

But it just doesn't hang together. I've long believed that Ron Moore and company never really knew where they were going with this and were maming it up as they went along. Maybe I'm wrong and it will all tie together in the end.

The latest episode had several big surprises, but as with most all of BSG's big surprises, they raise more questions than they answer. I get the feeling that the writers get together and ask themselves what they can do that fans will never in a million years expect. Their goal seems to be fooling the viewers. So they never really ask if those surprises they unleash make sense given what we know of the characters and the history we've been given so far.

Here are some interviews that lead me to believe I'm right about their mindset. Spoilers warning for those who haven't see the most recent episode.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Does Israel Understand Fourth Generation War

Bill Lind says no.

Henry Paulson Is A Hack

Here's a nice little video juxtaposing Bush's treasury secretary's remarks about the economy with those of Peter Schiff, an investment guru and adviser to Ron Paul. See who was most accurate. Paulson reminds me of all those Bush amdinistration officials and Instahacks who insisted that things in Iraq were going well and the people fighting there were a bunch of "deadenders." You remember> Back before they finally admitted that things were not going well and the administration created the surge began paying Iraqis not the fight us or each other.

Rumsfeld Revisionism

Wasn't Larry Di Rita the last of the three stooges? No, I was thinking of Curly Joe DeRita, who wasn't quite as funny as Larry.

Ex-NFL Player Becomes Border Patrol Agent

He says law enforcement, not football, was his long-time dream.

School Vouchers for Georgia Students

I've never been sold on the virtue of school vouchers. Rather than privatizing education, it seems to me they would lead to more government influence if not control over private schools.

But one Republican state senator says he wants parents who wish to transfer their children to private schools to be able to get them and will introduce a bill to allow that.

More People, More Friends

Are people who live in big cities less lonely than those who live in small towns?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

War Crimes and Ethics in Urban Warfare

Good article from the New York Times on the fighting in Gaza.

Two things to remember are that Gaza is densely populated, and it's population is very young. According to one poster on the Small Wars Journal forum, 63 percent of its residents were 19 or younger and 39 percent were 10 or younger in the 1997 census. That, said that person, makes fightinbg there rather like fighting inside a school.

I Wonder What Has Changed

Nobel prize-winning economist Gary Becker notes that President Obama's economc team projects that unemployment will top out at 9 percent without his economic stimulus spending.

In the 1981-92 recession, unemployment topped out at 10.5 percent. But there was no groundswell among economists for a stimulus spending that would cause massive, massive deficits.

What is so different about the present recession compared to that one, and to other recessions since then, that would greatly raise the estimated stimulating effects of government spending on various types of goods and services?

Hmm. What is different between 1981 and 2005?

Friday, January 16, 2009


James Taranto quoted this story on best of the Web today and didn't even mention anything odd about this part:
"You don't want to hit the water too quickly or the plane will break into pieces", says first officer Tom Hanks of DHL, who flies Boeing 757s for the courier company.

Maybe that really is the guy's name. But in "Cast Away," the famous Tom Hanks played an employee of another courier comany who is marooned when his plane crashes and breaks apart in the Pacific Ocean.

Wrestlers Talk About "The Wrestler"

A roundtable discussion of the new film starring Mickey Rourke.

An Unfree Press

Matt Welch explains why newspapers shouldn't be so eager for government subsidies, with particular emphasis on the French media.

Cat Cafes?

Japan is a weird place.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


Ted Kennedy has no sense of irony. Or maybe no shame. Or both.

Rainy Day Funds and Mondays

They always get me down. Economist Scott Beaulier explains.

Beyond Stupid

Megan McArdle writes:

Apparently, Chuck Grassley is very, very concerned with the immigration status of Tim Geithner's former household employees. Because what matters is not the quality of the economists dealing with the biggest financial crisis in 80 years--it's making sure Mexicans don't clean their floors without the right permit.

Where Did Bush Go Wrong?

Steve Chapman explains

Obama Meets with Statists

Some people are ga-ga over the fact Barack Obama met with Bill Kristol, Charles Krauthammer and other neocons. Big deal. These guys worship power, and now that he has it, they'll fawn over him as long as he's invading other countries and acting like the strong men they wished to be when they were in elementary school.

Here's more from The American Conservative.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Ryan Seacrest High Fives a Blind Guy

Watch it here.

The Sling Shot Man

This guy has great skills.

The 10,000 Year Explosion

The Web site for Greg Cochran and Henry Harpending's new book has some fascinating material on it. All of the "deleted scenes" from the book are interesting. And Steve Sailer has a nice excerpt on neandertals on his blog

Freedom On the Decline

Freedom House, which tracks political and civil liberties around the world, says freedom declined the the third straight year in 2008. South Asia was about the only region where freedom grew.

HT: Nick Gillespie.

Meanwhile, economic liberties continued to shrink in the United States last year, according to the Heritage Foundation.

Plumbing the Depths

Another bad review for Joe the Propagandist War Correspondent. The only place this move seems to be popular is in the Republican echo chamber.

From ABBA to Led Zeppelin

Here's a site that uses music to teach economics.
Update: Fixed link.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

How Immigration Enforcement Is Hurting Law Enforcement

The New York Times reports that federal immigration proscutions doubled last year, while prosecutions for gun trafficking, organized crime and public corruption have plunged.

A senior federal prosecutor who has worked on a wide variety of cases along the border said that the focus on relatively simple immigration prosecutions was eroding morale at United States attorney offices.

“A lot of the guys I work with did nothing but the most complex cases — taking down multigenerational crime families, international crime, drug trafficking syndicates — you know, big fish,” said the prosecutor, who did not want to be identified as criticizing the department he works for. “Now these folks are dealing with these improper entry and illegal reentry cases.” He added, “It’s demoralizing for them, and us.”

HT: Cop in the Hood

Palin and the Press

Andrew Sullivan points out this exchange between Sarah Palin and the editor of the Anchorage newspaper. Yeah, Sullivan is nuts. But what is Palin?

Top Officer Urges Limit to Military Missions

Admiral Mulllen opposes the increasing militarization of foreign policy.

Used and Discarded by Obama

Many of the defense and foreign policy experts who supported him in the campaign find themselves on the outside now.

The Pension Time Bomb

Scary article from Jon Entine in the new issue of Reason magazine.

Bush Had Principles?

Well, apart from consolidating power in the presidency and diminishing the Constitution.

Michael Tanner looks at Bush's claims he abandoned his free market principles to save the nation and finds he had no such principles.

The Second Time As Farce

Daniel Larison has more thoughts on Joe the war correspondent.

Obama's First Tax Increase

Will be on cigarettes says Jacob Sullum.

No Comment

When Olmert calls...

A Disaster

Nick Gillespie asks "Just how the hell do you sum up George W. Bush's presidency?"

A Good Idea from California

Seriously. Lt. Gov. john Garamendi wants to combine college and medical school at the University of California's Merced campus, allowing students to earn an MD in five years instead of eight.

Even better would be a deregulation of health care, especially allowing physician assistants and nurse practitioners more independence and authority. But this isn's a bad idea at all. In fact, medical schools in many other countries oeprate on similar lines.

HT: Joanne Jacobs

More on the New Deal

From economist Steve Horwitz

How Can Christians Say the Pledge of Allegiance

When the pledge was first introduced, many fundamentalists refused to say it, citing Biblical prohibitions against swearing oaths and against creating idols. Now, the Jehovah's Witnesses are the only major denomination that I know of that still hold firm to those Biblical stands.

But Jim Babka asks says Christians should take their beliefs more seriously.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Brad DeLong Is Still an Ethics-Free Partisan Hack

But Don Boudreaux, one of my grad school professors, is a scholar and a gentleman. And he shows just how such a person responds to DeLong's ad hominem attacks.

Krugman's Disease

Peter Klein offers his diagnosis. I'm no doctor, but I think his problem is that he's an arrogant bastard who pontificates on things he has little knowledge of and won't admit when he's wrong.

Back When Conservatives Opposed Imperialism

Daniel McCarthy reminds us that at one time conservatives argued for justice for the Palestinians. Those days are long gone, and bombing brown people into oblivion seems to be the only thing that unites the Instahacks, neocons, and Religious Right Republican Party.

Barack Obama Doesn't Understand Economics

And despite all the big names he's hiring, it doesn't look like he's going to. It looks like the Democrats will make it possible for bankruptcy judges to modify home loans, the way they can modify other types of loans. Arnold Kling and Megan McArdle explain why that is a very bad idea.

Torture Doesn't Work

That has long been clear to anyone who has read anything about this subject. Now, it seems that even the one or two cases that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney site as evidence their policies worked don't bear out their claims. The question remains: re they just lying or are the disconnected from reality.

Say It Ain't So, Glenn?

I can't really disagree with this post. But I can't see how anyone can be surprised at Glenn Reynolds behavior at this point. Instahack has been little more than partisan shill for several years now, attacking those who question the glorious leader's foreign policy, blatantly ignoring anything that contradicts his worldview and doing his best to undermine any idea of conservative or libertarian journalism as something more than republican propaganda.

Andrew Sullivan has more.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The United States Has Long Been Belligerent

Daniel Larison takes a look at critics of critics of the Israeli Lobby.

Meet the New Boss. Same As the Old Boss

Kelley Vlahos looks at Barack Obama's defense/foreign policy team and finds no real differences with the people appointed by George W. Bush.

Eight Reasons Why We Are in a Depression

Economist Tyler Cowen outlines them and writes

First, a large fiscal stimulus addresses factor #8 but fares poorly in alleviating the other problems. Of course it may give a band-aid for #5 or #6 and you can tell other stories but we are in a multi-factor depression.

What's Wrong with "Stimulus"?

Economist Frank Shostak writes

Any activity that the government would initiate requires funding. (Various individuals who will be employed by the government will expect compensation for their work.) The government as such doesn't create any real wealth, so the only way it can pay these individuals is by taxing others who are still generating real wealth. By doing this, the government weakens the wealth-generating process and undermines prospects for economic recovery.

Brad DeLong Is Still an Ethics-Free Hack

DeLong recently referred to my old grad school classmate Steve Horwitz as an "ethics-free Republican hack" for opposing a wasteful and possibly counterproductive "stimulus" package.

I had a lot to say about DeLong's lack of ethics and intellectual integrity, but they've all bee covered in the comments on this post. Note that when some of the commenters on this thread criticized DeLong on his own blog, he deleted their posts, as usual.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Great Myths of the Great Depression

Lawrence Reed uncovers the truth.

RIP Cash Flagg

Independent movie maker Ray Dennis Steckler has passed away.

He definitely had a style of his own.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Obama's Economic Plan

Barack Obama recently spoke at George Mason University, and economist Pete Boettke sums up what he said:

Don't blame his administration for the economic situation and don't even blame his administration for the economic situation 3 years from now because the situation is that dire caused by the "do nothingism" philosophy of old ideas on the economy and government. Government must be an active player in the economy, and seen as the corrective to our social ills. We have sunk into such a deep hole, in fact, that ONLY government can get us out. If our economic situation is anything other than grave in the coming years it will be because of the bold and pro-active steps his administration will have taken. All praise go to the articulate and intelligent leader. Who, let me remind you, is pragmatic and open to discussion, but you better get onboard quickly with these policy initiatives or we are going to be in a living hell.

And Then There Were None

The Hometown Headlines Web site is reporting that the Etowah Crossing shopping center (where the old Rome Hooters used to be) appears to be in foreclosure and will be auctioned off.

And speaking of Hooters.

Israel Is Losing in Gaza

And Bill Lind says things aren't looking good in Afghanistan.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

They Call It a Pole Tax

No, really. Georgia Republicans want to tax strip club customers.

Economist Scott Beaulier has some thoughts here.

The New York Times, Dead By May?

Michael Hirschorn says it looks bleak for The Gray Lady.

Juanny Cash

That's what some people are calling 15-year-old Vince Mira.

See for yourself why

No One Is Going to Bail Out America

At National Review Online's The Corner blog, Stephen Spruiell talks to former U.S. comptroller David Walker
Walker says, "For the first time in the history of the U.S., the federal government owes more in liabilities [including unfunded commitments for Social Security and Medicare] than American households are worth." And that gap is widening, he says. "The fiscal hole is getting deeper, and household worth continues to decline."

In case that isn't clear enough, let's put it this way, the government could confiscate the wealth of every household in America and still not have enough money to pay all its debts.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Nightmare of Legal Immigration

Nick Gillespie writes

I've yet to meet an immigrant who went through proper channels who wasn't embittered by the experience.

Why Ramos and Compean Should Not Be Pardoned

It's all explained here.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Monday, January 5, 2009

Peter Schiff's Predictions for 2009

Schiff predicted a lot of the economic problems we are having now. This is what he sees in the year ahead.

Border Bullies

Former U.S. special forces soldier Michael Yon explains why visting the United States is less pleasant than visting Communist China.

The Chicken Police

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Quote of the Day

From the late, great Milton Friedman, via David Henderson:
The society that puts equality before freedom will end up with neither. The society that puts freedom before equality will end up with a good measure of both.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Could You Live Like Jesus for a Year?

Apparently, some people can't even live like Jesus long enough to post a comment on a newspaper Web site, judging from the reaction to this article.

Fisking FDR

Bryan Caplan handles that chore.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Matrix Cat Fight

No, it doesn't involve Monica Bellucci.

Better Than a Bailout

Some suggestions for dealing with the financial crisis from Reason magazine.