Monday, December 27, 2010

Time for an old idea?

Jerry Pournelle has an interesting discussion (if not quite an endorsement) of Distributism:

Spreading the Wealth

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Luke 2:8-14

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Have to admit it: Paul Krugman has a point

When Zombies Win

When historians look back at 2008-10, what will puzzle them most, I believe, is the strange triumph of failed ideas. Free-market fundamentalists have been wrong about everything yet they now dominate the political scene more thoroughly than ever.

How did that happen? How, after runaway banks brought the economy to its knees, did we end up with Ron Paul, who says “I don’t think we need regulators,” about to take over a key House panel overseeing the Fed

He’s right about nearly every thing he said about “free-market fundamentalists”. (In fact, I think he could go farther in his indictment.) On the other hand, Krugman lets the Obama administration off too easy. Nor does he address those zombie ideas that enjoy bi-partisan support.

Krugman argues that President Obama was too cautious on policy, too quick to compromise with his political opponents, and too passive in defense of his principles.

There is some truth in this assessment. I would also argue that the administration stumbled because it was too cynical, too insular, too high-handed, and too partisan.

If ever there was a president with the opportunity to become a second FDR, it was Barack Obama in January, 2009.

Yet the administration rejected Roosevelt’s focus of his first 100 days: relief, recovery, reform. Nor did it follow his example and rally broad national support for his programs. Instead, the tone and direction were set by the hyper-partisan Rahm Emmanuel: “never let a crisis go to waste.”

The administration was almost eager to move the economic crisis to the back burner while they and the liberal Congress pushed forward with long-standing items on their wish list (cap and trade, health care reform, immigration reform, etc.). Inside Washington, it might seem smart to see a crisis as an opportunity to pass progressive legislation. To the people who are bearing the brunt of the recession, it seems like an abdication of leadership or a heartless betrayal of trust.

No surprise, then, that the stubborn economic weakness has been a drag on Obama’s approval numbers. It is not just that the public is impatient; many voters rightly sense that the White House felt little urgency to fix what was obviously broken.

If I am right about this, then what Krugman sees as inexplicable passivity, is really the result of a cynical calculation to play down the economic debate. In effect, the White House surrendered the field to the “zombie ideas” of the GOP so that it could concentrate its efforts on pushing through its other agenda items.

Even when the White House tackled critical economic problems, we see the same interplay of passivity, cynicism, and partisanship.

As Krugman notes, the US is still paying a grievous price for the excesses and mistakes of Wall Street and the big banks. Yet, the Obama administration was happy to outsource the crafting of the financial services reform bill to the Democrats in Congress. Instead of a vigorous public debate and quick passage of a law that brings about positive reform, we got Dodd-Frank: a bill that passed quietly two years after the financial meltdown. (See here for the maneuvering behind this “reform”.)

Dodd-Frank is a perverse caricature of reform. How could it be otherwise when its two authors are hopelessly entangled in the policy missteps and legal corruption that produced the economic catastrophe?

It is almost shameful that the Obama administration acquiesced to this betrayal of real and necessary reform. “Hope and change” proved to be less important than partisan solidarity and Congressional politics.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Trouble in the charmed circle

A criminal probe complicates realtions among Democrats at the intersection of Wall Street and politics

A story in which the mistress of disaster makes an appearance.

Great article in the New York Times on Andrew Cuomo's investigation into car czar Steven Rattner.

Cuomo Pension Inquiry on Financier Grows Nasty

This doesn't build confidence in the FBI's Anthrax investigation

FBI interferes with release of NAS report on the scientific aspects of the Amerithrax case

For the sake of history

Cliff May recounts the inconvenient facts that "Fair Game" ignores.

Vanity Fair Game

I'm not surprised that Hollywood fictionalized the story. They are more interested in drama than truth.

It is much more troubling that the Washington Post and other news outlets keep pushing an outdated and largely discredited narrative.

When Irish bankers went Galt

It sounds like a recipe for a new Dark Ages. Instead, the Irish survived quite nicely.

The Irish Banking Crisis: A Parable


Chesterton 1
Ayn Rand 0

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Times is still proving Irving Kristol's point

Black and White and Red All Over

The ‘New York Times’ can’t handle the truth.

The New York Times may be the paper of record, but its record leaves much to be desired when the issue is Soviet espionage in the United States. Where the Times is not obscuring the historical record, it is willfully obtuse.

Irving Kristol:
For there is one thing that the American people know about Senator McCarthy: he, like them, is unequivocally anti-Communist. About the spokesmen for American liberalism, they feel they know no such thing. And with some justification.

"Civil Liberties 1952—A Study in Confusion"

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Like a bad case of athlete's foot

We just can't get rid of David Frum.

Like his old buddy Excitable Andy, he is often wrong but Rarely in doubt. And he never doubts that the public needs the brilliance of David Frum.

Now he wants to be the arbiter of acceptable political rhetoric.

Apparently, calling some one a socialist is out of bounds, but it is just fine to label people "unpatriotic" if they disagree with the foreign adventures promoted by David Frum.

Stanley Kurtz treats Frum with more respect than he deserves.

David Frum, Speech Policeman

Frum desperately wants to be seen as a serious conservative leader. Yet his stock-in-trade are strident attacks on other conservatives. His treatment of Kurtz's book is bizarre even by Frum's standards.

The announcement made it clear that my book was the result of more than two years of empirical and historical research into Barack Obama’s political past, and would marshal “a wide array of never-before-seen evidence to establish that the president of the United States is indeed a socialist.” Frum, however, didn’t wait to consider my evidence or argument, or even bother to read my book. Instead, he invited a self-described Democratic activist who writes under the pseudonym “Eugene Victor Debs” to attack the very idea of my book — before either had read it.

Frum's actions stand as stellar examples of the hypocrisy and feline thuggishness of the Obamacons.

Is there a better example of "epistemic closure" than attacking a book before you read it?

UPDATE: Kurtz and Jonah Goldberg continue the discussion:

David Frum’s Wrong Direction

Politics Without Labels? What a Silly Concept

Thursday, December 02, 2010