Sunday, April 26, 2009

Richard Nixon was a smart man

Former speechwriter, the very estimable William Safire reveals conversations with his former boss. Here's a gem that captures Nixonian genius.
On the domestic Clinton: "I told him [ a year ago ] I gave him credit for a bold program. A leader tells people not where they want to go, but where they ought to go. That's from Burke. Clinton reminded me that with wage and price controls, I did something bold. Yeah, but it was a mistake." Nixon reminded me: "You wrote that speech, don't forget.
To paraphrase Archie Bunker, "We could use a little Nixon again!"

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Get rich before you get green!

Economic growth provides the means for a cleaner and greener environment. That means capitalism which isn't what the Gaia crowd likes to hear.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Commentary "I.F. Stone, Soviet Agent—Case Closed"

Who knew? I.F. Stone a commie symp. Izzy was always a bit over-rated. But his book on the Trial of Socrates is still a worthwhile read despite what Sidney Hook wrote about it.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Scenes from today's Boston Tea Party protest

From the Boston Common, in the neo-socialist heartland of Boston, ventured a small but serviceable anti-big-government crowd. Here are some pictures.


















Via Reason: Are You a Terrorist? Take the quiz!

REASON MAG:Are You a Terrorist?. Don't peel that 2nd amendment bumper sticker off just yet.

Will MA lose a congressional seat?

I'll go out on a limb. I'll say that Massachusetts will be able to keep its 10-member delegation and avoid losing a Congressional seat. Or put it another way: MA will not lose two seats. Color me cynical but the powers-that-be will find people "here and there" perhaps with a little help from ACORN. Nonetheless this worry remains a major concern for the Massachusetts elite.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

St. Augustine's pirate may have a point!

Pot meet kettle by way of the great St. Augustine:
In the "City of God," St. Augustine tells the story of a pirate captured by Alexander the Great. The Emperor angrily demanded of him, "How dare you molest the seas?" To which the pirate replied, "How dare you molest the whole world? Because I do it with a small boat, I am called a pirate and a thief. You, with a great navy, molest the world and are called an emperor." St. Augustine thought the pirate's answer was "elegant and excellent."
Hat tip: Marginal Revolution who, in turn, hat-tipped a succession of bloggers.

Monday, April 13, 2009

A different take on the tax revolt ignited by Proposition 13

OF INTEREST: A fascinating book review about the tax revolt spurred by the passage of Proposition 13 in California in 1978 challenges the established view that the movement was strictly conservative.
These tax revolters were not driven by a belief in small government or a rejection of the welfare state. Indeed, they mobilized to defend their stake in that state.

Eventually, the California tax revolt took on a different cast, taking its leadership from conservative activists who saw the movement as a challenge to big government. Howard Jarvis and the champions of Proposition 13 did not simply seek the preservation of an informal tax preference, but the hobbling of state government. And when the initiative passed, conservatives across the nation used it to reshape tax revolts in their own communities.

Martin's book reminds us, however, that California's tax revolt was not some sort of conservative cri de coeur, at least at the start. Much of the support for antitax ballot measures arose from less-than-conservative inclinations among the electorate. To underscore this point, Martin describes the policy alternatives -- tax rate graduation, for instance, or property classification -- that might have protected homeowners from rising tax bills without hobbling state and local government.
The book reviewed is Isaac William Martin's The Permanent Tax Revolt.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Currently Reading


John Updike's 2001 collection of poems Americana. Updike is a master of economy, the watchman with a pulsing eye be it a dry overlay at a Midwestern airport or the occasion "Upon Becoming A Senior Citizen" dated March 18, 1997. From him we learn how to describe today's very cold Easter Day bluster. "The day another grudging chill installment/ of slow spring in New England...." The slow spring is testing our patience which is as good a time to thumb through this delightful collection of poems.

Pirates learn: Don't mess with Obama


The President makes the right call. The Navy Seals perform flawlessly. A hard lesson for the Somalia pirates to learn. What's next?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The absolutely sweet Stevie Nicks and FM

Steve Nicks is telling the techonologically-driven world to stop. Computers are taking over our kids. She has a point.

Meanwhile here's a clip from the age of cassettes and vinyl, a time devoid of IPod consumption!


Hat tip: Hit&Run

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Wisdom

In the age of Obama it's always useful to look to the past and to Cicero in particular.
"The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt. People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance."
Yes the above applies to CEOs too! Nonetheless, the people never learn.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Readings in Economics

Mario Rizzo: A Microeconomist’s Protest.

The late Murray Rothbard on Karl Polanyi: Down With Primitivism: A Thorough Critique of Polanyi

Professor Scott Sumner on The Great Danes.

Peter Leeson on Why Failure is Valuable.

Was he an "enemy of the people?"

Reuters AlertNet: Scientists dismiss prediction of Italy earthquake

The voice in the wilderness narrative isn't holding up.
ROME, April 7 (Reuters) - Earthquakes like the one that killed more than 200 people in Italy this week are still impossible to predict, and a local scientist's claims to have done so should be treated with caution, geophysicists say.

Gioacchino Giuliani is at the centre of a debate about the limits of seismology after Italian officials shrugged off his warnings last month that a devastating earthquake in the central Abruzzo region was imminent.

In fact Giuliani, who works at the National Institute of Physics, was even reported to police for spreading panic. While many Italians are now more than ready to listen to whatever Giuliani has to say, geophysicists in Europe and the United States remain sceptical of his claims to have discovered an effective early-warning system.

Although scientists say it's easy to say where big quakes are likely to happen, pinning down the timing can't be done, at least not yet. "It's a very humbling field to be in ... We cannot predict earthquakes," said Ross Stein, a geophysicist at the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, California. "To predict an earthquake, whatever it is that we're using would have to be a reliable indicator ... And no one has gotten close to that."

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Recently Read


A small but vital treatise on reducing the technological-driven clutter, highlighting the meaningful and generating the rhythm of simplicity among the complexity that is inevitable in life.

The Ten Laws are as follows:

  • Law 1: Reduce – The simplest way to achieve simplicity is through thoughtful reduction.
  • Law 2: Organize – Organization makes a system of many appear fewer.
  • Law 3: Time – Savings in time feel like simplicity.
  • Law 4: Learn – Knowledge makes everything simpler.
  • Law 5: Differences – Simplicity and complexity need each other.
  • Law 6: Context – What lies in the periphery of simplicity is definitely not peripheral.
  • Law 7: Emotion – More emotions are better than less.
  • Law 8: Trust – In simplicity we trust.
  • Law 9: Failure – Some things can never be made simple.
  • Law 10: The one – Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious, and adding the meaningful.
Highly recommended.

Obama comes up empty

On the good war, Obama's charm and magic has limited appeal.

NY Times: Europeans Offer Few New Troops for Afghanistan
The Afghan war, too, remained a dividing line for alliance leaders. Despite a glowing reception and widespread praise for Mr. Obama’s style and aims, his calls for a more lasting European troop increase for Afghanistan were politely brushed aside, as they had been in negotiations leading up to the meeting.

As expected, European allies agreed to provide up to 5,000 new troops for Afghanistan, the White House said Saturday. But 3,000 of them are to be deployed only temporarily to provide security for the August elections in Afghanistan.

A further 1,400 to 2,000 soldiers will be sent to form embedded training teams for the Afghan Army and the police.

Mr. Obama is raising the number of American troops this year to about 68,000 from the current 38,000, which will significantly Americanize the war. The new strategy, which the Europeans have pressed for, is aimed at creating larger and better-trained Afghan security forces that can defend the country and allow the West to leave.

Much of Mr. Obama’s Afghanistan strategy review, which he formally presented to NATO leaders this weekend, reflects the view of a number of administration officials, particularly Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., that the United States should set limited, achievable goals in Afghanistan.

“No one will say this publicly, but the true fact is that we are all talking about our exit strategy from Afghanistan,” a senior European diplomat said Saturday. “We are getting out. It may take a couple of years, but we are all looking to get out.” He spoke on the condition of anonymity under diplomatic rules.

For Mr. Obama, in many ways, the two months since he took office have been a reality check on the difference between Europe’s vocal support and action.

In January, Obama administration officials expressed optimism that they would receive strong backing from European allies on a large number of additional troops for Afghanistan.
Remember this about Europe -- They're always there when they need us.