Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. is on his way out the door, and the New York Times Editorial Board has a lengthy farewell. Please read it in its entirety, because you will need to work through ten paragraphs before you arrive at this: Under Mr. Holder, the Justice Department approved the targeted killing of civilians, … Continue reading A Fond Farewell
Glenn Greenwald notes that the bombing targets in Syria marks something of a new record: Syria becomes the 7th predominantly Muslim country bombed by the 2009 Nobel Peace Laureate – after Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya and Iraq. The utter lack of interest in what possible legal authority Obama has to bomb Syria is telling … Continue reading Number 7
Marc earlier noted the depressing state of political literacy in the US. However, I was pleasantly surprised to see a remarkable statement of economic literacy in the news today - and by someone who isn't a trade economist. In this case, the example came from entrepreneur Elon Musk (who was seconded by fellow businessman Lyndon Rive). … Continue reading Elon Musk Wins the Economic Literacy Award
This week we celebrated Constitution Day, by among other things, watching Congress authorize funding for a war that is not a war, and allowing it to be waged on the basis of a 2001 use-of-force resolution that authorized military actions against parties involved with the 9/11 attacks (conveniently, it did not have an expiration date). … Continue reading Vox Populi
A few takeaways from the 55-45% victory for No in the Scottish independence referendum: The polls overestimated support for independence, just as in the 1995 Quebec referendum. Secession from a well-established democracy is extremely difficult due to voters' risk-aversion and status quo bias. Scotland's right to decide elicited salutary promises of decentralization from the British … Continue reading Aftermath of the Scottish Referendum
To favor creating a new state somewhere is to be a dirty nationalist. To favor keeping all existing national states precisely as they are is very progressive and enlightened and not nationalist at all. How do these people believe this stuff? Even though independence would be bad for Scotland in the short to medium run, … Continue reading The Inanity of the Anti-Secessionists
Unless the polls are systematically biased or there is a late-breaking surge in support for "Yes," the "No" campaign looks set to squeak by with a narrow victory in the Scottish independence referendum. On the betting markets, a "Yes" vote has plunged below an implied probability of 20%. What has this decline in the prospects … Continue reading On Eve of Scottish Vote, Another Look at Capital Markets
Bad guys (and gals) beware: Dustin Volz (National Journal) reports that the “FBI’s Facial-Recognition Technology Has Achieved ‘Full Operational Capability’” The agency announced two new services Monday that complete the database's "operational capability." The first, called Rap Back, allows officials to receive "ongoing status notifications" regarding the reported criminal history of people "in positions of trust, … Continue reading I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face
The Oxford Review of Economic Policy has a brand-new special issue on the economics of independence. The entire issue seems to be open-access right now, so check it out. (HT: Doug Irwin) In Scottish news, polls have turned a bit against independence, and betting markets now price a "Yes" at around 22-24%. I will take … Continue reading More on Economics of Secession
Barack Obama announced his new strategy for ISIL on 9/10: “So tonight, with a new Iraqi government in place, and following consultation with allies abroad and Congress at home, I can announce that America will lead a broad coalition to roll back this terrorist threat.” -- The coalition partners are important because our efforts “will … Continue reading The Coalition of the Kind of Willing?
Airpower is the simple but wrong/naive answer to complex problems. It just doesn't work as advertised by the airpower enthusiasts. If you will the ends, you will the means. So those who want to wade back into Iraq or jump into wherever to "degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL" should be honest and note that ground forces … Continue reading Airpower Will Solve This. Santa Claus Exists.
Michael Salla, Robert O’Harrow Jr, and Steven Rich (The Washington Post) have written an interesting series on asset forfeiture (see the teaser “Civil asset forfeitures more than double under Obama,” by Christopher Ingraham on Wonkblog). The basic presumption of asset forfeiture is simple: you are guilty until proven innocent. If you are the target of … Continue reading The Presumption of Guilt and the Glories of “Stop and Seize”
What can we learn from capital markets about the likely consequences of Scottish independence? A trio of recent polls has shown the "Yes" side to have pulled roughly even with "No." With momentum on their side, it's not unthinkable at all that "Yes" will pull it out, resulting in the first secession from a Western … Continue reading Scottish Independence and the Markets
President Obama’s comments at a press conference in Estonia has attracted quite a bit of heat. The President stated: "we know that if we are joined by the international community, we can continue to shrink ISIL’s sphere of influence, its effectiveness, its financing, its military capabilities to the point where it is a manageable problem." … Continue reading Evil as a Manageable Problem
University of Colorado philosopher Michael Huemer's book The Problem of Political Authority deservedly made a large splash when it was released last year. The book consists of two parts, the first making the case that states enjoy no moral right to rule and that subjects have no moral duty to obey them, and the second … Continue reading Michael Huemer, *The Problem of Political Authority*
The NYT editorial board is concerned about the shortage of kidneys for transplants. As one might expect, the most obvious solution to the problem is automatically dismissed: While some argue that the way to reduce the growing shortage is to pay living donors for kidneys, either in cash or government benefits, there are many ways … Continue reading Organ Markets