"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

Monday, March 30, 2009

Pon Farr Perfume

When it's been seven years since you last got any.

HT: Virginia Postrel at Deep Glamour.

You Keep Using That Word..

Neal Boortz calls himself a libertarian despite backing the Iraq War. Now, he has a couple of more crusades he wants to fight.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

I Am a Liberal

Don Bourdreaux was one of my professors back in graduate school. He was a very good teacher then, but I think he has gotten even better over time and become one of the best at explaining libertarian and free-market ideas in a concise manner.

His latest blog entry is, I think, one of his best yet.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

How Accurate Is South Park Economics?

Economist Steve Horwitz says says very.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Fed Is Now Scared

Here's a sobering post from economist Gerald O'Driscoll

The Fed is loading up its balance sheet with illiquid assets, including many dubious assets taken in as collateral for loans of money and Treasury securities to financial institutions. In the process, the Fed has an ever diminishing supply of highly liquid (and safe) Treasury securities on its own balance sheet.

Critics like economic historian Anna J. Schwartz and former Fed attorney Walker F. Todd have pointed out that the Fed will have a technical problem if it wants to start sopping up all the liquidity it has created. In a 2008 paper in International Finance, Schwartz and Todd wrote that “it is fair to ask what the Fed intends to do if it decided that it would tighten monetary policy by raising interest rates.” Without a sufficient supply of highly liquid assets to sell in the markets, the Fed would need to dispose of its illiquid assets at losses. That would possibly drive up interest rates more than desired.

More South Park Economics

Thursday, March 26, 2009

I Think the Term Is Paultard

The right-wing blogosphere has gone ga-ga over MEP Danial Hannan because of this video:

But wait until all those respectable defenders of the U.S. empire get a load of this clip:

South Park on the Economy

HT: Steve Horwitz.

Chris Jericho on Obama's Tax Plans

The WWE performer speaks speaks his mind.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Reflating the Housing Bubble

Economic Mario Rizzo writes

The Fed is not simply not addressing a problem but actively making the re-allocation of resources out of the housing sector less likely and thus retarding the general process of recovery.

America's Immigration Problem

The brighest and most entrepreneurial are leaving, and Washington seems determined to speed their exodus.

This would be genuinely unfortunate since people who have willingly uprooted themselves from their homes to travel across oceans and establish themselves on foreign soil are natural risk takers. They are precisely the kind of folks America needs to help jumpstart its sputtering economic engine and create new jobs by starting businesses. It is not a coincidence that one in two companies in Silicon Valley has been founded by immigrants. If America is unable to replenish its crop of immigrants, the next Silicon Valley won't be in California—it'll be in Beijing or Bangalore.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Pat Buchanan Writes About Economics and Makes Sense

He's usually as bad on economics as he is good on foreign policy and defense issues. But this is very good.

The Mexican-American War of 2009

An editorial from The Washington Times looks at the trade war Washington has kicked off.

Is Tsutomu Yamaguchi the Luckiest Man in the World?

Or the unluckiest?

Counterinsurgency Guru: Please, No More Iraqs

Here's an interview with Col. David Kilcullen, one of Gen. David Petraeus's top advisers.

Monday, March 23, 2009

He Doesn't Know How to Pronounce Orion?

Seriously, if George W. Bush had done this it would have led the 6:30 news.

Sumo Champion vs. Eight-Year-Old Kid

Well, how did you think it would turn out?

All Those Frenchmen Look Alike to Barack Obama

Seriously, wouldn't this have been bigger news in the United States if George W. Bush had done it?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Never Forget Who Your Real Enemy Is

The federal government nationalized a big chunk of the financial sector. Barack Obama wants to regulate executive pay veen in industries the government hasn't bought into yet. Congress wants to run up at least $9.3 trillion in red ink over the next five years.

But the deep thinkers over at National Review are concerened that so many people think Ayn Rand might have anything to say about this. Don't you know she's just not respectable? So go back to listening to real conservatives like Joe the Plumber.

First They Came for The AIG Bonuses

Barack Oabam believes that he, not the owners of a company, is best suited to decide what its managers should be paid.

Ric Flair vs. Bear

Timmy, You Are Doing a Heckuva Job

Tim Geithner is toast.

Obama's NCAA Basketball Picks

Steve Sailer sais we can learn something about Barack Obama from his picks in the NCAA tournament.

Obama's guesses are straight out of Chicago Politics 101: Don't make no waves, don't back no losers. Obama's picks for the Final Four consist of three #1 seeds and one #2 seed. For the Final Eight, he has four #1 seeds, three #2 seeds, and one #3 seed. Not a lot of hope and change on display.

There's more food for thought at his blog.

Don Rickles Roasts Ronald Reagan

From the Dean Martin roast series of the 1970s.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

I get my best travel ideas from the State Department’s travel warning list.

A bunch of old people take a tour of Iraq.

HT: Tyler Cowen

The Obama Administration: Who Is in Charge?

Bloomberg says that Barack Obama has created a multitude of "czars" responsible for various areas of policy. That has not only created confusion about where the chain of command lies, but, as that noted right-winger Robert Byrd has noted it may well be unconstitutional.

Will China Survive? Will the United States?

Andrew Sullivan points to this article on China, which I think is much too sanguine. But he also points to this follow up and this disturbingly accurate assessment

There are plenty of examples of American companies that are making creative use of the crisis. The New York Times had an excellent article on talent scouts on Sunday. But there are equally depressing examples of America bailing out old companies and allocating talent to make-work jobs in the public sector. America's comparative advantage has always lain in its superior ability to make creative use of disruption; if the Chinese are mastering that art, while the Americans are losing their taste for it, then the country really is in trouble.

I read this just after reading about how Barack Obama now wants to bail out automobile parts suppliers as well as the big auto companies and how Congress has funded the big expansion in goverment "volunteer" programs that Obama called for.

Economic Arson: The Political Class Runs Amok

Lots of bloggers are linking to this article in The New York Times by Joseph Nocera, who is far from a rabid rightwinger. Here's an excerpt:

By week’s end, I was more depressed about the financial crisis than I’ve been since last September. Back then, the issue was the disintegration of the financial system, as the Lehman bankruptcy set off a terrible chain reaction. Now I’m worried that the political response is making the crisis worse. The Obama administration appears to have lost its grip on Congress, while the Treasury Department always seems caught off guard by bad news.

And Congress, with its howls of rage, its chaotic, episodic reaction to the crisis, and its shameless playing to the crowds, is out of control. This week, the body politic ran off the rails.

There are times when anger is cathartic. There are other times when anger makes a bad situation worse. “We need to stop committing economic arson,” Bert Ely, a banking consultant, said to me this week. That is what Congress committed: economic arson.

How is the political reaction to the crisis making it worse? Let us count the ways.

IT IS DESTROYING VALUE During his testimony on Wednesday, Mr. Liddy pointed out that much of the money the government turned over to A.I.G. was a loan, not a gift. The company’s goal, he kept saying, was to pay that money back. But how? Mr. Liddy’s plan is to sell off the healthy insurance units — or, failing that, give them to the government to sell when they can muster a good price.

In other words, it is in the taxpayers’ best interest to position A.I.G. as a company with many profitable units, worth potentially billions, and one bad unit that needs to be unwound. Which, by the way, is the truth. But as Mr. Ely puts it, “the indiscriminate pounding that A.I.G. is taking is destroying the value of the company.” Potential buyers are wary. Customers are going elsewhere. Employees are looking to leave. Treating all of A.I.G. like Public Enemy No. 1 is a pretty dumb way for a majority shareholder to act when he hopes to sell the company for top dollar.

The Dollar Is Down. Gold Is Up. Thank You, Ben Bernanke

Economist Scott Beaulier says the Federal Reserve may be creating even bigger problems down the road in its attempts to battle the current recession.

Kane vs. Chuck Norris

WWE wrestler Glen Jacobs has some advice for Chuck.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Battlestar Galactica Finale

Oh, my. That was painful. It was even worse than I thought it would be. I was thinking maybe it would be Ewoks bad, but it was Jar Jar Binks bad.

Christopher Walken Is Twittering

Please, if this isn't really him, don't ruin my day by letting me know.

Someone commended me for being "approachable." Okay. The truth is that I'm easily distracted and don't notice people touching me right away.

Mexico Bites Back

Investor's Business Daily has a good editorial on the decision to bar Mexican trucks from the United States, a decision in direct violation of a major treaty Congress approved long ago. One of President Obama's first actions as president is to show one of America's largest trading partners that its word is no good.

One thing the editorial left out is that the program just cancelled allowed just 98 Mexican trucks into the United States. That's right. Congress and the president kicked off a trade war that could cost some 40,000 Americans their jobs over 98 trucks.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Paperless Newspaper

Jack Shafer, Jesse Walker, and Alan Mutter offer advice to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, which has just become a Web-only publication.

South African Leader Calls for Vigilante Justice

Jacob Zuma, leader of the African National Congress, urged people to take "the law into their own hands" if they get hold of suspected criminals. This should end well.

What China Fears

Economist Mario Rizzo tells us. We should fear it, too.

The Immigrant Paradox

Joanne Jacobs notes that scholars are trying to understand the "immigrant paradox," the fact that the grandchildren of many immigrants seem to be doing worse than their grandparents, despite having better English skills.


"They are starting to buy in to the notion of minorities here [in the United States], that even if you work hard and play hard, discrimination is going to get at you," said one researcher.

It seems that the groups who have the least problems are those that in some ways assimiliate the least and who shelter their children from American culture, the Chinese and Koreans.

Brad DeLong Is a Pretentious, Ethics-Free Partisan Hack (Part of a Series)

Journolist is a, until recently, secret e-mail list where reporters, left-wing academics and think tankers and Democratic activists conspire to slant the news discuss the day's events.

Of course, the revelation that they are doing this has caused a little controversy. Most of the list members have been pretty mum. But Brad DeLong wrote Mickey Kaus to deny that the list is an "echo chamber."

Really? DeLong's behavior on his own blog shows he doesn't seem to be the type to go for unfettered acadmeic debate or to engage honestly with truly opposing viewpoints, ones that question his fundamental assumptions. SO what other sort of e-mail list would he be participating in?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Indians: The New Model Immigrants?

Jason Richwine writes in Forbes

Despite constituting less than 1% of the U.S. population, Indian-Americans are 3% of the nation's engineers, 7% of its IT workers and 8% of its physicians and surgeons.
In 2007, the median income of households headed by an Indian American was approximately $83,000, compared with $61,000 for East Asians and $55,000 for whites.

About 69% of Indian Americans age 25 and over have four-year college degrees, which dwarfs the rates of 51% and 30% achieved by East Asians and whites, respectively. Indian Americans are also less likely to be poor or in prison, compared with whites.

HT: Steve Sailer

Monday, March 16, 2009

Brad DeLong Is An Ethics-Free Partisan Hack (Part of a Series)

DeLong has a long history of editing or deleting comments on his blog that point out his factual errors. Now, he has started reportedly deleting comments from undergrads who ask uncomfortable questions.

What Killed the Newspapers

Clay Shirky writes

Print media does much of society’s heavy journalistic lifting, from flooding the zone — covering every angle of a huge story — to the daily grind of attending the City Council meeting, just in case. This coverage creates benefits even for people who aren’t newspaper readers, because the work of print journalists is used by everyone from politicians to District Attorneys to talk radio hosts to bloggers. The newspaper people often note that newspapers benefit society as a whole. This is true, but irrelevant to the problem at hand; “You’re gonna miss us when we’re gone!” has never been much of a business model.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Gang Rape Is Apparently a Cure for Lesbianism in South Africa

Human rights groups say the police routinely ignore victims of rape, especially if they are lesbian.

Why Are Female Right-Wing Pundits So Catty?

Michelle Malkin doesn't seem to be able to talk about an attractive woman without getting bitchy.

Now, Laura Ingraham thows in a gratuitous dig at Meghan McCain's weight in the midst of attacking her for criticizing Ann Coulter.

Ingraham says the only reasons anyone cares what Meghan McCain has to say are that she is "kind of cute" and John McCain's daughter. That's true enough. (Though McCain is more than kind of cute.)

Well, the only reasons anyone cared about Laura Ingraham when she first came along was that she was blonde, kind of cute and given to wearing leopard-print miniskirts.

America's Drug War Tears Mexico Apart

Interesting article from Rolling Stone.

HT: LewRockwell.com

Reluctant Warriors

The Economist reviews books on the Iraq War by Washington Post military reporter Thomas Ricks and by Col. David Kilcullen, who was one of Gen. David Petraeus's top advisers.

Mr Kilcullen is a reluctant warrior. Many of those fighting the West, he argues, are “accidental guerrillas”, driven to making common cause with violent extremists by the perceived need to defend themselves against American intervention. The invasion of Iraq, he says, was a grievous self-inflicted wound. Having learnt, impressively but painfully, how to do a better job of fighting insurgencies, America should not rush into more such wars. The watchword, he says, should be “never again”.

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

Economist Steve Horwitz catches DeLong in another error. This time misstating F.A. Hayek's views on how government's should have responded to the Great Depression. you'll have to read about it on Steve's blog because, as usual, DeLong modified abd deleted his comments (and other critical ones) from his own blog.

All This Science, They Don't Understand

American adults don't know some of the most basic science facts.

According to the national survey commissioned by the California Academy of Sciences:

Only 53% of adults know how long it takes for the Earth to revolve around the Sun.
Only 59% of adults know that the earliest humans and dinosaurs did not live at the same time.
Only 47% of adults can roughly approximate the percent of the Earth's surface that is covered with water.*
Only 21% of adults answered all three questions correctly.

Gordy and Hayes: Before They Were Freebirds

Here's a clip of Michael Hayes and Terry Gordy when they were working for Nick Gulas and before they adopted the Fabulous Freebirds gimmick. Gordy was 17, and Hayes was 19.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

In Defense of Earmarks

Earmarks, mandates by Congress that money be spent on specific projects, have become the great target of some fiscal conservtives. Ron Paul argues in favor of them.

Libertarian journalist Jonathan Rauch writes

Their budgetary impact is trivial in comparison with entitlements and other large programs. Obsessing about earmarks, indeed, has the perverse, if convenient, effect of distracting the country from its real spending problems, thus substituting indignation for discipline.

And Jesse Walker, another libertarian journalist, writes

Earmarks' critics are right to be vigilant for pork, and -- more important -- for the logrolling that often accompanies it. But they might want to spare a little more ire for military and entitlement spending.

Grass-Mud Horses

The New York Times reports on how Chinese dissidents have made the mythical grass-mud horse a symbol of rebelion? Grass-mud horse? Well, as the Times explains, when written, the Chinese symbols for those words are pretty innocuous. But when spoken they sound an awful lot like "an espeically vile obscenity."

Jacob Sullum has more, including just exactly what that obscenity is.

Mark Sanford: The Next Ron Paul?

From an article on the latest issue of The American Conservative on the South Carolina governor:

Sanford’s conservative credentials compare favorably to anyone else mentioned as a 2012 presidential contender. He calls the public-education system “a Soviet-style monopoly.” He promoted school choice through tax rebates to avoid the appearance of government control. He passed a “Castle doctrine” bill that was supported by the NRA. He favors a law-and-order approach to immigration, but opposed REAL ID on civil liberties grounds. Though he avoids showy displays of piety, he is reliably pro-life.

But the governor edges closer to pure libertarianism at times. He rolls his eyes at the Columbia sheriff’s department’s zeal in investigating Michael Phelps’s recreational pot use. And he criticizes Alan Greenspan’s management of the “opaque” Federal Reserve. “If you take human nature out of a Fed, it might work,” he explains. “But you can’t. You can have these wise men. But who wants to turn off the spigot at a party that’s rolling?“

He also deviates from the Republican line on foreign policy. In Congress, he opposed Clinton’s intervention in Kosovo. And he was one of only two Republicans to vote against the 1998 resolution to make regime change in Iraq the official policy of the United States. He says that it was a “protest vote” in which he tried to reassert the legislature’s war-declaring powers. When asked about the invasion of Iraq, he extends his critique beyond the constitutional niceties. “I don’t believe in preemptive war,” he says flatly. “For us to hold the moral high ground in the world, our default position must be defensive.”

Reihan Salam wonders if Sanford's noninterventionist foreign policy ideas would prove a problem in a Republican primary, but he writes:

In a sense, a Sanford campaign would represent a bet that the Ron Paul movement is a real and enduring phenomenon, one that will have lasting consequences in Republican primary politics. As a governor and former congressman with a long track record of pressing for limited government, Sanford is a far more conventional choice. At the same time, Sanford seems to share many of Paul's radical instincts. Many of Paul's fans saw him as a Goldwater figure, a candidate who would lose but who would go on to revitalize a distinctive Old Right tradition that has mostly faded in American politics. Sanford could thus be the heir who broadens the appeal of that message, not unlike Ronald Reagan. Right now, this seems rather unlikely. But a lot can change over the next few years.

Town Joker Died A Hero in Alabama Shootings

Bruce Maloy chased down and rammed the car of the man who shot all those people in Alabama last week. It cost him his life, but it may have saved others.

Some people didn't like being around Maloy because he was such a big talker, Harrison said. He could be a little obnoxious with his joking and boasting.

But Samson now knows him as someone much different.

"He needs some recognition for what he did," said Harrison. "It was something he always wanted, and now the old boy won't see it."

Friday, March 13, 2009

Bailouts and Bull@#%^: John Stossel

He has a new special on government waste tonight at 10 p.m. on ABC. Here's a preview:


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Georgia Schools: Spending More, Getting Less

The facts are on Benjamin Scafidi's side in this debate.

HT: Joanne Jacobs.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

No Wonder the Cylons Attacked These People

I finally watched the latest episode of Battlestar Galactica.

OK, Edward James Olmos directed the episode, and they finally let him get his wish to film somebody sitting on a toilet. (No, really, he's said in a couple of interviews he has wanted to do that.)

Did anyone notice that Starbuck just stands up, pulls her pants up, gives her dog tags to Baltar and walks out of the bathroom? No wiping. No handwashing. Dirk Benedict would have washed his hands.

It's a Gas, Gas, Gas

Why can't all City Council meetings be like this.

Paul Krugman Has No Cojones

Economist Greg Mankiw criticzed the Obama administration's economic forecasts, which call for only a 1.2 percent drop in GDP this year and an average annual growth of 4 percent over the following four years, for being overly optimistic. (The better to justify his claims he will shrink the deficit).
Paul Krugman, who is an ethics-free partisan hack, blasted him for being deliberately obtuse in a blog post called "Roots of Evil."
Mankiw responded by challenging Krugam to put his money where his mouth is and bet money on Obama's prediction coming true.
Krugman has, as you would expect, not followed through.

The Curse of Col. Sanders Is Over

Good news, Ron.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

U.S. Interracial Marriages Up, Except Among Hispanics and Asians

The rate among those groups is actually dropping. Steve Sailer blames immigration.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Memo to Conservatives

When Andrew Sullivan says you are all nuts, and he's right, it may be time to calm down.

Are Obamacons Having Buyers' Remorse?

Some may be, but not Bruce Bartlett.

And Daniel Larison writes:

It seems to me that implicit in a lot of conservative criticism of the stimulus bill, the mortgage plan, and Obama’s cap-and-trade scheme, among other things, must be the odd notion that things would have been very different had McCain won the election. While we can be sure that McCain the crazed earmark-hunter would still be with us (no doubt keeping us safe from volcano monitoring and gang tatoo removal), let us recall that McCain supported cap-and-trade (even if he didn’t necessarily understand what he was talking about when he said so), proposed an insane mortgage bailout plan that pretty much everyone hated, backed TARP and differed from Obama on taxes largely in that he refused to raise any rates. In the end, the main difference turns out to be a disagreement about whether to return the top rate to its Clinton-era level or not. I guess that is a bit more than a dime’s worth of difference, but it isn’t much. Of course, this is why so many Republicans were relieved that McCain lost, because had he won they would have ended up backing a whole host of policies that they are currently denouncing as disastrous. At the same time, we would have had an old, irritable President prone to fits of bellicosity in international affairs and moral grandstanding about any issue he doesn’t understand, and behind him would have been an unqualified VP. However bad things are, remember that they could have been far, far worse.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Overopinionated and Undereducated

David Frum on Rush Limbaugh, talk radio and modern American conservatism:

In the days since I stumbled into this controversy, I've received a great deal of e-mail. (Most of it on days when Levin or Hannity or Hugh Hewitt or Limbaugh himself has had something especially disobliging to say about me.) Most of these e-mails say some version of the same thing: if you don't agree with Rush, quit calling yourself a conservative and get out of the Republican Party. There's the perfect culmination of the outlook Rush Limbaugh has taught his fans and followers: we want to transform the party of Lincoln, Eisenhower and Reagan into a party of unanimous dittoheads—and we don't care how much the party has to shrink to do it. That's not the language of politics. It's the language of a cult.

I'm a pretty conservative guy. On most issues, I doubt Limbaugh and I even disagree very much. But the issues on which we do disagree are maybe the most important to the future of the conservative movement and the Republican Party: Should conservatives be trying to provoke or persuade? To narrow our coalition or enlarge it? To enflame or govern? And finally (and above all): to profit—or to serve?

HT: Andrew Sullivan, who cites this passage, which I can't find on the online version of the article:
What attracted me to conservatism as a young person in the early 1980s was its challenge to engage and understand some real thinkers -- Hayek, von Mises, Kirk, Buckley, Friedman, Chambers. You didn't have to be an intellectual, but you needed to understand them. Reagan did. Now, instead of intellectuals, we have clowns like Joe the Plumber and Limbaugh getting all the attention. Conservatism is overopinionated and undereducated, proudly intolerant and insular -- populated by the type of Americans who (this happened) would spit on Darwin's tomb in Westminster Abbey.

The First 100 Days

As with most of The Onion's stuff these days, this is a bit hit or miss. But erheare several funny bits in here.

Even the Communists Are Appalled

Steven Greenhut writes

You know things are bad when Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin lectures U.S. officials on the values of the free market. Speaking at the Davos world economic conference in Switzerland last month, Putin warned the U.S. against “excessive intervention in economic activity and blind faith in the state’s omnipotence.” He noted that “In the 20th century, the Soviet Union made the state’s role absolute. In the long run, this made the Soviet economy totally uncompetitive. This lesson cost us dearly. I am sure nobody wants to see it repeated.”

Even the Communists Are Appalled

If at First you Don't Succeed...

The economy is getting worse. Ethics-free partisan hacks Brad DeLong and Paul Krugram say it's because the government hasn't interfered enough in the market. Economist Mario Rizzo sys it is because the government has interfered too much.

Brad DeLong Is a Goober

As well as being an ethics-free partisan hack. To recap, DeLong has a long history of deleting comments that point out factual errors on his blog. Now, economist Steve Horwitz has caught him editing his own posts to removing embarrassing material, without any notification he has done so.

I'm really not surprised that DeLong's behavior has apparently earned him no censure in academia. I am disappointed that so-called libertarians contineu to invite the man to speak at events or to sit on panels with him. Intellectual debate is one thing. But why would you have anything to do with a man who consistently mischaracterizes his opponents' positions, makes ad hominem attacks on them, plays fast and loose with facts and is just downright rude? Are libertarians that starved for intellectual respect?

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Why Did Asians Congregate in California's San Gabriel Valley?

And not, say, the San Fernando Valley? Steve Sailer has some thoughts.

Brad DeLong Is Still an Ethics-Free Partisan Hack

DeLong has long had a habit of removing posts from his blog that point out factual errors in his posts.

Economists Steve Horwitz, and seveal others, note that now DeLong is simply editing out those parts of comments that show his errors. He's also posting replies to those truncated comments trying to rebut "the commentor's" arguments.

Are any of DeLong's colleagues embarrassed by his behavior? I haven't heard any speak out. I guess this is how intellectual discourse is conducted in the nation's economics departments.

Ignored and Alone

Dick Yarbrough's latest column talks about how angry the people of Dalton are right now. One update, on the day the column appeared, the uen ployment numbers were updated and Dalton's jobless rate now stands at 12 percent, the highest of any metro area in the state.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Critic and Supporter Agree on Bush's Strategic Blunders

Col. David Kilcullen, one of the architects of Gen. David Petraeus's strategy in Iraq, responds to Gen. David Bacevich's review of his new book. He finds they have more agreements than disagreements:

Some examples. Mr Bacevich writes “the consummate counterinsurgency professional understands that the application of technique, however skillful, will not suffice to salvage the Long War. Yet as someone deeply invested in that conflict, [Kilcullen] cannot bring himself to acknowledge the conclusion to which his own analysis points: the very concept of waging a Long War as the antidote to Islamism is fundamentally and irrevocably flawed.”

I agree completely. I said so in the book, actually, in chapter 5. At the top of page 268, I write "counterinsurgency in general is a game we need to avoid wherever possible. If we we are forced to intervene, we now (through much hard experience) have a reasonably sound idea of how to do so. But we should avoid such interventions wherever possible, simply because the costs are so high and the benefits so doubtful."

He also writes, in one of the best parts of his review: “If counterinsurgency is useful chiefly for digging ourselves out of holes we shouldn’t be in, then why not simply avoid the holes? Why play al-Qaeda’s game? Why persist in waging the Long War when that war makes no sense?”

Again, I couldn’t agree more. That’s what I said in the book -- on the middle of page 269: “we should avoid any future large-scale, unilateral military intervention in the Islamic world, for all the reasons already discussed." A few pages earlier, in the middle of page 264, I write: “Our too-willing and heavy-handed interventions in the so-called “war on terrorism” to date have largely played into the hands of this AQ exhaustion strategy, while creating tens of thousands of accidental guerrillas and tying us down in a costly (and potentially unsustainable) series of interventions.”


At the risk of treating SWJ readers like poorly-read undergraduates, I would suggest that people Google “countering global insurgency”, my first major published work on this topic, which heavily criticized the Bush administration’s strategy back in 2004, or read George Packer’s article “Knowing the Enemy” in the New Yorker of 18th December 2006, in which Mr Packer publicly described my position as a “thoroughgoing critique” of Bush administration policy. Or people may like to look at my post in this journal from July 2008, in which I publicly reiterated my strong and long-standing public disagreement on the decision to invade Iraq.

Wasn't Barack Obama Supposed to be Competent?

That was one of his big selling points, wasn't it? After eight years of George Bush - and the snafus in Iraq and Louisiana - we'd have someone in there who knew what he was doing.

Well, so far, we've seen appointee after appointee quit or be forced to resign before even taking office. Even Paul Kurgman has blasted Team Obama for dithering on the economy. The administration has tried to defend itself by noting the Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is working pretty much alone, since the they haven't filled many of the other appointments in the department. Well, whose fault is that?

Meanwhile, Obama ticked off the Brits by giving Gordon Brown a bunch of DVDs as a present after their first meeting, while Brown gave the president some well-thought out and expensive gifts. (Apart from the chintziness of the American gift, who gives movies to a guy who is blind in one eye and has limited site in the other?)

Now, there's this. Seriously, they couldn't find one Russian speaker in Washington?

Morton Downey Jr., Thunderbolt Patterson and Lou Albano

One thing I noticed after watching this again after 20 years is that David Schulz was money. This was supposed to be Downey ripping the covers off pro wrestling, with Jim Wilson as his key wtiness, and in just a couple of minutes, Schulz turned the crows, and Downey on Wilson.

Lou Albano? Never got him. Still don't.

Here's a Preview of "The Watchmen"

I'm looking forward to the movie.

Was Elvis Presley Really a Black Belt?

Karate pioneer Al Tracy answers the question.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

When I Was 14, I Read Comics

When Jim Shooter was 14, he wrote them, professionally.

Driving While Mexican

I thought that was a ZZ Topp song, but the House of Representatives has passed a measure to ban it.

Update: The ZZ Topp song I was thinking of was "Arrested for Driving While Blind."

The Coming War with Japan

Leon Hadar has a post at The American Conservative blog noting the difficulties of predicting the future and how it doesn't interfere with some people's efforts to make a living off it.

What Does $1 Trillion Look Like

Here's a graphic depiction.

Obamanomics: Taxing Innovation and Killing Entrepreneurship

Jim Manzi looks at Barack Obama's budget.

How Much Is a Trilllion Dollars

James Hamilton puts Barack Obama's spending into perspective.

America's Brain Drain

The sad thing is that a lot of people welcome seeing well-educated, entrepreneurial people leaving the country.

More here.

I Just Can't Imagine Michelle Obama Behind a Plow

Economist Scott Beaultier finds plans to plant a vegetable garden at the White House.

A Little Good News

More evidence that as bad as things are right now economcially, they are still a whole lot better than they were in the not-so-distant past.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

We Are Number 17

Georgia Mason University's Mercatus Center has ranked states based on their total levels of freedom. Georgia ranked 17th in the study.

The study concludes

Georgia is a quintessential Deep South state, com-
ing in at #42 on personal freedom but #6 on economic
freedom. The state and local debt ratio is one of the
lowest in the country. Taxes and spending are lower
than average (once federal grants are corrected for),
and the state is relatively fiscally decentralized.
Georgia has less gun control than all of its neighbor-
ing states except Tennessee. Marijuana laws are bad
but not as punitive as those of Alabama or Missouri.
Georgia has fairly restrictive laws on road users,
with primary seat-belt enforcement, motorcycle and
bicycle helmet laws, an open-container law, sobriety
checkpoints, and auto liability insurance require-
ments. Georgia barely regulates private schools, but
its home school regulations are quite strict, including
teacher qualification requirements. Asset forfeiture
rules require significant improvements (burden of
proof is on the claimant, who has to prove that he
“could not reasonably have known” about crimi-
nal activity to get his property back). Arrests for
victimless crimes are very high, about a fifth of all
arrests. On the economic regulation side, labor laws
are good, and the state has gone far in reforming
eminent domain. It also enjoys one of the best court
systems in the South. Smoking bans have arrived, but
bars are exempt.

They Come Here and Won't Learn Our Language or Customs

They say the foreigners refuses to learn the language. They won't adopt local customs. They say they are a drain on healthcare, and their numbers are growing too rapidly.

The people complaining are Mexicans. The people they are complaining about are Americans residing in Mexico.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Isn't Madness Already Part of the Curriculum?

I got a chuckle out of this.

Obama Continues to Spook Investors

This time by appointing a regulator who vows to go after "speculators," or, in other words, those who make too much money.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Inside the Surge

Andrew Bacevich reviews the latest book by David Kilcullen, who was one of Gen. David Petraeus's top advisors.

In his new book The Accidental Guerrilla, we actually encounter three Kilcullens. First there is Kilcullen the practitioner, who draws on considerable firsthand experience to offer his own take on the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. In this regard, Accidental Guerrilla resembles dozens of other Washington books, blending memoir with policy analysis, generously laced with spin. Then there is Kilcullen the scholar, presenting his own grand theory of insurgency and prescribing a set of “best practices” to which counterinsurgents should adhere. In this regard, the book falls somewhere between academic treatise and military field manual: it is dry, repetitive and laced with statements of the obvious. Last, however, there is Kilcullen the apostate. With the administration whose policies he sought to implement now gone from office, Kilcullen uses Accidental Guerrilla to skewer those he served for gross strategic ineptitude. His chief finding—that through its actions the Bush administration has managed to exacerbate the Islamist threat while wasting resources on a prodigious scale—is not exactly novel. Yet given Kilcullen’s status as both witness and participant, his indictment carries considerable weight. Here lies the real value of his book.

The Rush to Oblivion?

Daniel Larison writes

Despite his best efforts to toe the line, and usually saying absurd things in the process, Steele is succumbing to the structural pressures that have brought the GOP and movement conservatism to their present states. Incredibly, the man who was floating the idea of withholding RNC funds from moderate Republicans who voted for the stimulus is now regarded as some sort of Obama collaborator! Meanwhile, Obama is not just having a good laugh at the expense of his imploding enemies, but he has to be feeling very pleased with himself. It seems as if all he had to do was say, “Don’t listen to Rush Limbaugh,” and in classic knee-jerk fashion activists and pols have gone running into Limbaugh’s embrace, which is probably exactly what Obama wanted them to do. Now, thanks to the bizarre Limbaugh litmus test that everyone on the right is supposed to pass, conservative blogs are agog with their newfound contempt for the RNC chairman, which helps ensure that cooperation between the national party and online activists will continue to be poor. You might call this a triple bank-shot by Obama, except that all of it is self-inflicted by the Republicans.

Bizkit the Sleepwaking Dog

Sunday, March 1, 2009

I'm Really Old or This Is Really Awful

Yeah, I guess it could be both.

More Radio Wrecking the Right

"One thing we can all do is stop assuming that the way to beat them is with better policy ideas." Rush Limbaugh.

Don't Know Much History

Or political science.

The Death of Copyright

At The Volokh Conspiracy, David Post has an interesting post on yet another example of new technology undermining copyright and copyright standing in the way of creativity adn innovation.