Saturday, March 09, 2002

MIDGET LUNATIC AND GUBERNATORIAL candidate is apparently pretending to have invented the term "corporate welfare."

What an ass.

Via Don't Be A Shamed.

Friday, March 08, 2002

RYAN LIZZA'S HANDICAPPING OF DEMOCRATIC Presidential hopefulls' fundraising prospects weirdly ignores the most successful hard money man the Democratic Party's ever seen -- California governor and scourge of the LA Bloggers Gray Davis.
ANDREW HOFER SAYS HE'S WAITING for a pro-tariff pundit that he can bash. Well, there's Mickey Kantor in the Times op-ed page for one. It's not just a bad argument, it also comes as a real surprise to me since the Clinton administration racked up a very good record on trade overall.
I'VE GOTTA AGREE WITH Nick Denton that Ken Layne and others are wrong to be ignoring the steel issue. It's not just that it's an important issue -- which it is -- it's that the reason governments all around the world pull crap like this (though usually not quite so bad) is that they're convinced that no one cares except the advocates of protectionism. What is blogging for if not sharing your personal outrage at a massive tax hike being imposed on you under the theory that you just won't notice?
ANDREW SULLIVAN, GEORGE WILL, AND OTHER conservatives have had the honesty to come out (a bit belatedly, I think) and note that the administration has taken a real turn for the bad lately. At the same time, the estimable Matt Welch has rightly deplored the increasingly partisan atmosphere in the blogosphere, so I'll point out that the Democrats have been shamefully AWOL on a number of issues.

One would hope that a loyal opposition would take advantage of Presidential missteps to come up with coherent and plausible policy alternatives that could move the country forward. Instead the Daschle strategy seems to be to just lay low and try and kill the Pickering nomination while Bush takes some bad press from his own team. A democracy's great strength should be its ability for critical self-examination, but I don't think we're getting it from the Congress or the administration.

THANK GOD -- BLOGGER IS BACK! I haven't known what to do with myself all morning -- Schoolwork, face-to-face interactions, a haircut, breakfast -- it's been a harrowing experience.

Thursday, March 07, 2002

I THOUGHT FOR A MOMENT THAT ALL MY ranting had somehow made me the number four google search result for "steel tariffs," and I expected my traffic to skyrocket.

Upon further analysis, however, I proved to be the number four result for "steel tarrifs." Disappointing. I'll just hope there's a lot of bad spellers out there. Anyways, if the the Ottawa Business Journal did it, it can't be that bad.

GOOD MAC THOMASON POST ON THE wussiness of penalties for corporate criminals
For example, let's take a guy, we'll call him something neutral like "Michael Milken". And he violates all the securities laws and lies and acts like he's the embodiment of the invisible hand, and, I dunno, holds up a bank or something. So he gets caught, and is punished. But all he gets is 18 months in a minimum-security federal prison and a fine that comes to ten percent of his net worth. I mean, that's not a walk in the park, but "Michael" still winds up filthy rich and can buy or sell several congressional candidates from his pocket change.
IT'S FUNNY THAT CONSERVATIVES don't seem to mention Christopher Hitchens much when he's doing something other than liberal-bashing.

If you read his work consistently, you'll see that he's basically a pompous ass who takes contrarian views just to be contrarian and happened to be right about the absurdness of Noam Chomsky.

TED BARLOW COMPARES DUBYA'S "let's destroy the world" steal policy to Bill Clinton'smonstrously immoral decision to sign the Defense of Marriage Act.

I hate DOMA, but this steel thing is worse. At least with DOMA Clinton was legitimately bowing to the (bizarre) policy-preferences of the (sadly homophobic) American majority. Part of what made DOMA so disgusting, of course, was that it was so unnecessary -- no state was anywhere near legalizing gay marriages and still no state is. On the other hand, that means that DOMA, cruel slap in the face though it was, hasn't had any actual effect.

These steel tarrifs, on the other hand, work against the interests of virtually every single person in the world. I'm talking 99.999% of the global population. The only people helped are a handfull of steel company executives, steel company employees, al Qaeda operatives, and Japanese auto workers. If you don't fall into one of those categories -- congratulations! You've just been screwed.

A lot of conservatives have been congratulating each other for having the guts to denounce this crap, but where were they during the whole past week when this issue was under consideration? Who was mobilizing people against this? Where were the rent-a-riots? Nowhere.

JONATHAN CHAIT'S LENGTHY AND convincing analysis of the now-infamous Bias should be read by one and all. The key point:
The media's aversion to the cultural right is more pronounced than its aversion to the economic left, and, since reporters tend to label politicians according to their social views, they're more apt to consider Democrats moderate. This is the kernel of truth underlying Goldberg's hyperbolic screed.
The media's conventions in labeling people is really something that could use some more scrutiny. It's not that it's biased toward the left per se, it's just totally nonsensical. I'm not really enthusiastic about the efforts of Virginia Postrel to reformulate things in terms of a dynamist/stasisist spectrum either.
GEORGE WILL'S COLUMN on the catastrophe of steel protectionism is vital reading. The shame is that no matter how many principled conservatives speak up now and denounce this action, there's really nothing that can be done about it. If Will had been joined by other prominent conservatives in attacking protectionism before Bush made his decision, he might have decided that it wasn't politically necessary to pander like this.

Of course, it's probably not pundits who'll wind up losing their jobs over this. On the other hand, many, many, many auto workers probably will. Does this mean Dubya's writing off Michigan? Why would he do that?

I'M NOT SURE THAT I AGREE with Andrew Hofer's conclusions in his piece on social security as a ponzi scheme, but it's very instructive and points to the fact that all of us, whatever our beliefs about the proper role of government or whatever, have a very serious problem on our hands regarding social security -- there's pretty much no way the government can keep it's promises to everyone, the only question is who gets screwed and how badly.
THE RC3.ORG SUMMARY of the Bush administration's job so far isn't quite fair (he has done some good bombing in Central Asia), but it's pretty damn good:
He's not even halfway through his first (and, God willing, only) term as President, and he's already plunged us headlong into deficit spending, proposed a Reaganesque defense budget, and imposed tariffs to protect decaying American industries. We also have an Attorney General more comfortable with the moral climate of the Victorian period, and Cold War dinosaurs running the Defense Department. Honestly, things are much worse than I had feared when Bush was "elected."

CHARLES DODGSON RIGHTLY notes that Bush's plan to destroy the US and world economies through preposterous steel tarrifs is far from the first time that Dubya's playes fast-and-loose with the principles of free markets with catastrophic results.

I understand, of course, why a practical politician would deviate from his principles for the sake of political advantage, but what puzzles me is the way that seemingly-sincere pro-market commentators persist in viewing the Republicans and better than the Democrats on these issues when I think the reverse is clearly the case.

Isn't distorting the market to try and protect the poor and the defenseless a lot more admirable than distorting the market to reward major campaign contributors?

EXCITING NEW ISSUE OF The Harvard Independent is now online, featuring an article by me on why Harvard doesn't need an ethnic studies major.

A staffer whom I've magnanimously permitted to disagree with me also has a piece, and there's a news article on the controversy.

Wednesday, March 06, 2002

I'M JUST GOING TO QUOTE this Mac Thomason gem outright:
If there were any doubt that the Saud-Friedman Plan was unworkable, this should do it. The Syrians like it!
JON COLE WRITES IN TO CORRECTLY NOTE that he spoke up to denounce George W.'s incredibly bad steel decision. He also complains about my font size. I'll take it under advisement.
WHERE'S THE OUTRAGE? the Times reports that Dubya's blatant sell-out to the steel industry and the steelworkers' union will increase steel prices over 10%.

Consider for a moment that though you probably don't buy much steel, you do buy a lot of things that contain steel. How are you going to like it when you need to pay 10% more for your next car, refrigerator, dishwasher, or house? Or even better, when you lose your job in manufacturing or construction because of price hikes? Or when the laid-off construction workers don't shop in your store anymore?

As if the massive economic devastation wrought isn't bad enough, consider how this is going to fuck up our foreign policy. Wouldn't you be pissed if someone decided to wreck a major American export industry in a ham-fisted attempt to gain domestic political advantage? Now think about how the Russians are going to look at this.

And yet, where's the outrage from conservative free marketers? Not on InstaPundit or Andrew Sullivan or The Weekly Standard or NRO. Come on guys! What's up?

IT WOULD APPEAR THAT CALIFORNIA Republicans just love to lose as they've adopted the New Jersey GOP-patented Bret Schundler strategy of letting a rabid conservative run against a moderate democrat in a left-leaning state.

More interesting than the orgy of self-destruction, however, is this sentence from the Times

Mr. Russo said that Mr. Simon also benefited from former Mayor Rudolf W. Giuliani's visit here last week to stump with Mr. Simon.
Why was Giuliani backing Simon? Riordan was a socially-moderate former big city mayor (LA instead of NYC) backed by the national party leadership as a "new Republican" who could give the party what it needs to break out of its hillbilly and mountain man base.

It would seem to me like a lot of Giuliani's future prospects for success within the GOP were hanging on the proposition that Riordan could make this work -- why would Rudy be spending time sending the message that what the Republican Party needs is a hard-right conservative?

I DIDN'T REALIZE HE WAS from Massachusetts, but Charles Dodgson has a nice intro to the governor's race currently underway here in the Commonwealth.
FRENCH DAILY LE MONDE discusses les blogeurs, but comes up with Tom Tomorrow, Andrew Sullivan, and Jim Romanesko as examples -- not quite representative if you ask me.

Tuesday, March 05, 2002

KEN GOLDSTEIN'S "THE WARBLOG OF J. ALFRED PRUFROCK" is the best thing ever. Go read it.
In the blogs the pundits squawk and squall

Bleating at Chomsky and Ted Rall

MICHAEL CROWLEY SETS THE RECORD straight on Judge Pickering (though he uses the unfortunately obvious headline "Judgment Day" to do it) in The New Republic.
THERE ARE MANY BAD THINGS that can be fairly said about Gray Davis, but this is not one of them:
Gray Davis is gloating about hijacking the Republican Party and it's just like Mussolini bragging about killing a lot of his enemies
GOP moderate and author of said absurd accusation Richard Riordan is obviously getting desperate in a sign that bodes not well for California Republicans.

Monday, March 04, 2002

THERE'S AN INTERESTING CHATTERBOX about the many board memberships of plagiarist and Harvard board member Doris Kearns Goodwin. As I noted in a post so old I don't have the energy to find it, we at Harvard have a very harsh plagiarism policy.
INTRIGUING PHOTO OF THE NYC blogfest is currently available at Andrew Hofer's site. I'm currently located in Cambridge, MA -- but my heart (and my summers) will always belong to my hometown of Manhattan...wish I'd been there.
IT'S UNFORTUNATE THAT MY TRAFFIC is skyrocketing (due, one presumes, to the great Croat Controversy) on just the two days I've been super-busy trying to save my long-term relationship, and hence not posting much, so I'll just say that anyone stopping by here in reference to that dispute should check out the Josh Marshall post that inspired it all.

The Samizdata crew had a number of complaints, but their biggest beef was Marshall's reference to "some quite ugly consequences" of the Croatian recapture of the Krajina.

Also -- if you'd like to help me out, you should encourage Josh to reward me for defending him by linking to my site. Yeah.

THE ADMINISTRATION KEEPS SEARCHING for a way to square the circle on steel tarrifs. All honest people everywhere -- but especially honest conservatives who might actually make a difference -- should be loudly pointing out to the president that raising steel tarrifs, even only a little or even only on some countried, is just about the worst policy idea imaginable.

How would you like to pay more for everything you own that's made of metal and everything that's made by machines that are made of metal.

I realize that this is largely not a partisan issue, but it's a Republican who needs to do the right-but-unpopular thing now and I would point out that Bill Clinton "didn't do enough" for the US steel lobby.

Sunday, March 03, 2002

NATALIJA RADIC'S NEW STORY: the Croation invasion of the Krajina wasn't a genocide, it was only ethnic cleansing and mass murder. I'll concede the point if she really wants.
What I don't understand is Reynolds' simultaneous insistence that (a) the Democrats, especially Hollings, are acting against the public interest because of campaign contributions from the entertainment industry, and (b) this isn't evidence that we need campaign finance reform. Why not?
I think that what we're seeing here is the perils of the hypocrisy game. Reynolds thinks he's pointing out the hypocrisy of the Dems about campaign finance reform, and Barlow thinks he's pointing out Reynolds' hypocrisy on the same issue.

My take. Holligns is advocating bad policy. Most likely because of contributions from the entertainment industry. This is an example of why it would be good if our campaign finance system wasn't as given to promoting the interests of contributors. McCain-Feingold, nevertheless, would not address the problem adequately. Restricting campaign contributions, moreover, raising troubling but unrelated issues.

HERE'S MORE ON THE TAKING of the Krajina, from the August 12 Times:
One week after the Croatian Army launched its offensive against secessionist Serbs, its enemy has been vanquished and the region depopulated, and the army has found new ways to occupy itself -- looting and burning.
Look, I'm very glad Natalija got to go home but her treatment of Marshall on this issue is totally unfair. Frankly, I'm surprised that everyone out there in blog-land is letting her get away with this viciousness. If Robert Fisk was saying something like this, the web would be filled with denunciations.
MORE ON NATALIJA RADIC's overly-rosy view of the Croatian re-conquest of the Krajina. The New York Times reported (via nexus, no link) on November 16 that
Many are among the 200,000 or so Serbs who were driven from their homes in swift Croatian offensives in the spring and summer that returned the Serbian enclaves in Krajina and Western Slavonia to Croatian rule.
In the last few weeks, the Croats have burned numerous Serbian villages in these enclaves and shot dozens of Serbs, many of them elderly, who had remained behind, according to the United Nations.
I would say that that qualifies as unpleasant. This is not to say that Natalija isn't right to call the arms embargo "criminal" or that the Croats weren't, all things considered, the better horse in this fight (they were), but just that Marshall's not wrong to question their conduct of the war at times.
IT SEEMS THAT NATALIJA RADIC, despite all her tits and other libertarian cred, enjoys the genocide as long as its perpetrated by her beloved Croatian people rather than against them.