Rally to Restore Sanity – November 2

I'm enjoying a fine Saturday day on campus working in my university's library and in my office.  I feel delightfully out of touch with the political goings-on, including the Rally to Restore Sanity which seems like theatre/political art designed to promote a particular political vision that is by no means non-ideological or even non-partisan.   Given what … Continue reading Rally to Restore Sanity – November 2

Defending the absurd

I've written before about children's right to be protected, but the issue of protection from lawsuits had never crossed my mind before.  This changed when I saw that a judge has ruled that a 4-year-old who struck an old woman with her bike can, indeed, be sued.  If she had been 3, she couldn't be … Continue reading Defending the absurd

Placing bets on the “Little Arts of Popularity”: the Midterm Projections

I am a policy guy, so my expertise in electoral politics (i.e., “the talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity,"  to quote Publius) is quite limited. But I will put my Sharon Angle "man pants on” and challenge my fellow Pilieus bloggers to do the same. Here are my predictions: The Senate: the … Continue reading Placing bets on the “Little Arts of Popularity”: the Midterm Projections

More hunger

If you have young readers in your house, there is a good chance you've already seen Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games trilogy.  These books are about a 16-year-old girl's struggle to survive and protect her loved one's against a savage totalitarian state.  The prose is easily accessible to youth, though I wouldn't encourage most pre-teens to … Continue reading More hunger

Save NPR!

I know.  I know.  NPR is a bastion of welfare-state liberalism.  True enough.  I hate the politics of most NPR contributors, staff, and editors as much as anyone. Still, I love NPR.  What's more I think conservatives and libertarians should fight to save NPR.   If you made a list of the dumbest things done by … Continue reading Save NPR!

Sven’s Expectations Game—Extended Edition

Sven has done an excellent job of predicting the generally accepted wisdom as it will be expressed in the next weeks/months. Let me extend the “narrative” (I hate using the term, but tenure carries certain responsibilities). Yes, there are the crazy GOP candidates (and yes, even accounting for the media’s selection bias, you got to … Continue reading Sven’s Expectations Game—Extended Edition

The expectations game

Most media stories in recent weeks have been about the upcoming gains Republicans are supposed to make in Congress next week.  One might conclude from these stories that Republicans are winning in the expectations game.  I think they are losing it. The expectations game is important, it seems to me, for two reasons.  First expectations … Continue reading The expectations game

Who “Absorbs” Carl Schmitt?

So, I thought it was conservatives and Republicans who internalized German philosopher Carl Schmitt and his concept of the political?* President Obama: "And if Latinos sit out the election instead of saying, we're gonna punish our enemies and we're gonna reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us, if they don't see that … Continue reading Who “Absorbs” Carl Schmitt?

Rants About the Local Public School

My oldest child started kindergarten this year, and my wife and I have already had numerous occasions to question the sanity of our decision to use a public school.  I think my issues with the local public school are worthy of comment because they are probably commonly faced by fellow Americans rather than particular to my case.  Here are some recent developments that have been a source of much consternation … Continue reading Rants About the Local Public School

American Exceptionalism Reconsidered, Pt. 2: The Size of the State

In this second part of a series of posts on American exceptionalism, I consider the common claim by the American right that the American state is particularly small relative to those of other advanced democracies, and that this fact helps to constitute a desirable "American exceptionalism," featuring higher economic growth and more respect for individual … Continue reading American Exceptionalism Reconsidered, Pt. 2: The Size of the State

109 Year Old Lightbulb

This is cool.  There is a lightbulb in Livermore, California that is 109 years old and has been in use for almost the entire time (only off when it has been moved between buildings).  I wish most of the things I bought today had a life span 1/10th of that of this bulb (assuming it would not raise the cost … Continue reading 109 Year Old Lightbulb

Weekend Reading Suggestions

1.  Doug Bandow of the Cato Institute has a new policy paper that makes the case for the pending Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with South Korea.  Bottom line up front: "Although the accord is not perfect, it would substantially increase access to the South Korean market. Both the Republic of Korea and the United States would … Continue reading Weekend Reading Suggestions

TGIF. The Week in Review (Video Edition)

After a tough week of work, many of us wonder: “What did I miss?” Here are few videos to review the week’s events and allow a mindless transition into the weekend. Anything I missed? On the Social Front Todd Seavey proves (much to Helen Rittelmeyer’s dismay) that old love dies hard during a C-Span panel … Continue reading TGIF. The Week in Review (Video Edition)

Should We Go to the Moon Again?

The Moon may have more water on it than we thought, according to several new studies based on analysis of a recent NASA experiment.  This leads the Wall Street Journal to speculate that the finding "may bolster the case for a manned base on the lunar surface." So, should we boldly go where some men have already gone? No, no, no. … Continue reading Should We Go to the Moon Again?

Jimmy Carter: the Gift that Keeps on Giving

In these days of youthful experimentation with witchcraft (thank you Ms. O’Donnell),  “homosexual brainwashing” (thank you Mr. Paladino), and flirtations with  the pagan god named “Aqua Buddha” (thank you Mr. Paul), it is refreshing to know that, once again, Jimmy Carter was ahead of the curve.  As Patrick Gavin notes in a piece entitled “Carter’s … Continue reading Jimmy Carter: the Gift that Keeps on Giving

The Flummoxing Tea Partiers

David Boaz at Cato discusses the fact that the Tea Party phenomenon---and it is a phenomenon---continues to "freak out" commentators on the Left. He writes (preserving his links and italics): With a few rare exceptions like [Jonathan] Rauch and John Judis, non-conservative intellectuals are just freaked out by a mass movement against big government. Jill … Continue reading The Flummoxing Tea Partiers

Buying Votes

To channel Captain Renault in Casablanca, I'm shocked, shocked that politicians would behave like this: Democrats are making a pre-election pitch to give Social Security recipients a one-time payment of $250, part of a larger effort to convince senior voters that their party, and not Republicans, will best look out for the 58 million people who get … Continue reading Buying Votes

If California Legalizes…

What will happen if California legalizes marijuana, if Proposition 19 passes as expected? The Economist runs the numbers on legalization's effects on Mexican drug cartels' bottom lines. Regardless of how the proposition turns out, Americans' changing views on the appropriate legal status of the drug are to be welcomed. Let us hope that politicians are … Continue reading If California Legalizes…

On target for once?

Paul Krugman is so seldom on target that he deserves a special shout out when he is.  I liked his column today bashing the Chinese government.  But then I always like bashing the Chinese government. Frankly, I hadn't heard of the issue with "rare earths."  Given that Paul doesn't always tell both sides of the … Continue reading On target for once?

Clear thinking

A lot of people are writing and blogging about the President's recent analysis of the electorate.  Reminiscent of his "clinging to guns and religion" comments, he now says people can't "think clearly" (meaning they can't think like him), because the are "scared."  At least he didn't say that fear is causing people to be racist, … Continue reading Clear thinking

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and Presidential Management of Complex Issues

There is an interesting piece by Josh Gerstein (on Politico) regarding the Obama administration’s difficulties with DADT. According to Gerstein: Obama’s current predicament is a result of a collision between a go-slow White House strategy that deferred to Pentagon and military leaders on the pace of repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell” and the progress of … Continue reading Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and Presidential Management of Complex Issues

The hidden inequality of opportunity

The United States is often criticized for its supposedly high level of inequality.  But a recent story this past week on the massive number of job barriers (licenses and other regulations) that protect professionals in Greece from any meaningful competition caused me to reflect on a different kind of inequality.  The Greek government is trying … Continue reading The hidden inequality of opportunity

A democratic victory

I've been ridiculing for a few months now the notion that there is an "anti-incumbent" mood among the electorate.  An anti-incumbent movement would entail a lot of Democrats and Republicans going down in flames.  Consider these data from the good folks at Real Clear Politics.  There are 3 Republicans in the House who are in … Continue reading A democratic victory

Typo of the year award

James Taranto at WSJ.com has a link today to what is certainly one of the funniest typo's you will ever see: "This blog post originally stated that one in three black men who have sex with me is HIV positive. In fact, the statistic applies to black men who have sex with men."--correction, TBD.com, Oct. 8 … Continue reading Typo of the year award

The Learning Curve

There is an excellent piece by Peter Baker on President Obama for this Sunday’s NYT Magazine (advance copy here).   This tasty excerpt should be enough to whet your appetite: While proud of his record, Obama has already begun thinking about what went wrong — and what he needs to do to change course for the … Continue reading The Learning Curve

How Big Should Government Be? New Survey Data

A new USA Today/Gallup poll asks people about their views on the size of government today and the ideal size of government. They categorize respondents into five, roughly equal groups: "keep it small" (favors small government in economic and moral matters), "morality first" (favors small government in economic matters but big government on moral questions), … Continue reading How Big Should Government Be? New Survey Data

Making Sense of the Strategy

The past few days have brought several expressions of the Dem’s new strategy: focus on the GOP as a party that takes special interest money (including funds from foreigners) and moves to the right as puppet masters Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie pull on the strings. David Axelrod’s case is a subtle one and the logic … Continue reading Making Sense of the Strategy

Sudan on the Brink of an Abyss

Tensions are rising in Sudan ahead of January's scheduled vote in South Sudan over independence. Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has accused members of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement, the primary political party in the South, of violating the terms of the peace deal, and Sudan's government is dragging its feet on referendum preparations. Moreover, al-Bashir … Continue reading Sudan on the Brink of an Abyss

Quick Hitters

1.  Sven was remiss in not mentioning another sound Nobel decision this year: selecting Mario Vargas Llosa for the prize in literature.  According to Michael Moses of Duke University, Llosa "is one of the greatest novelist of the last half-century and a leading champion of liberty."  I'm hoping to find time over Christmas break to remedy a serious deficiency in my education … Continue reading Quick Hitters

The Norwegians redeem themselves

Kudos to the Nobel committee for giving the Peace Prize to jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo.  Frankly, I'd never heard of this guy until this week, but it seems like a worthy choice.  The biggest testament to the virtue of this prize is that very few people in China will hear about it, given that … Continue reading The Norwegians redeem themselves

Quotation of the Day – The Destructive Power of Kindness

Franklin D. Roosevelt:  "The lessons of history ... show conclusively that continued dependence upon relief induces a spiritual and moral disintegration fundamentally destructive to the national fiber. To dole out relief in this way is to administer a narcotic, a subtle destroyer of the human spirit." It isn't often that I cite "That Man in … Continue reading Quotation of the Day – The Destructive Power of Kindness

Repulsive picture of the day

Our internet host (WordPress.com) had this image on the login page that caught my eye.  It is from Venezuala, and the accompanying blog entry describes (how accurately, I don't know), the Venezuelan obsession with beauty pageant culture. What I see is the hyper-sexualization of children, something that gets under my skin like little else.   … Continue reading Repulsive picture of the day

Are we all Keynesians now?

Robert Kuttner has an interesting piece today reviewing the results of a Tuesday conference in Washington DC on fiscal policy featuring Martin Feldstein,  Paul Krugman and Jan Hatzius, (chief economist, Goldman Sachs). For those who have followed Krugman, his comments were predictable. He has long been making the argument for a large stimulus and was quite … Continue reading Are we all Keynesians now?

When success is seen as failure

Out of every political and economic crisis comes a new conventional wisdom that proves to be damaging for years or decades to come.  From the Great Depression people wrongly learned the lesson that the New Deal programs were necessary to bring back the economy, for instance. Possibly the most dangerous CW coming out of the … Continue reading When success is seen as failure

American Exceptionalisms, Right and Left

For the American right, the United States is exceptional for its political commitment to freedom. For the American left, the U.S. is exceptional as an outlier of injustice and inequality relative to other advanced democracies. In a four-part series, I will investigate these claims of American exceptionalism and argue that both have some element of … Continue reading American Exceptionalisms, Right and Left

High School Band – A Most Dangerous Game?

Like fellow bloggers Sven Wilson and Jason Sorens, I too am concerned about the issue of whether/when the state should intervene to protect children in cases where parents can not or will not do so themselves.  Liberal theory is not all that clear as a guide to how to handle persons who cannot give full consent - … Continue reading High School Band – A Most Dangerous Game?