Saturday, October 28, 2006

Cheating in Graduate School

This is shocking. From an article at MarketWatch:

Students seeking their masters of business administration degree admit cheating more than any other type of student, from law to liberal arts.

"We have found that graduate students in general are cheating at an alarming rate and business-school students are cheating even more than others," concludes a study by the Academy of Management Learning and Education of 5,300 students in the U.S. and Canada.

Many of these students reportedly believe cheating is an accepted practice in business. More than half (56%) of M.B.A. candidates say they cheated in the past year. For the study, cheating was defined as plagiarizing, copying other students' work and bringing prohibited materials into exams.

"To us that means that business-school faculty and administrators must do something, because doing nothing simply reinforces the belief that high levels of cheating are commonplace and acceptable," say the authors of the academy report, Donald McCabe of Rutgers University, Kenneth Butterfield of Washington State University and Linda Klebe Trevino at Penn State University.

Yes, it seems to have come to that. With 54% of graduate engineering students, 50% of students in the physical sciences, 49% of medical and other health-care students, 45% of law students, 43% of graduate students in the arts and 39% of graduate students in the social sciences and humanities readily admitting to cheating, something must be done to correct course.

McCabe notes that many more students probably cheat than admit in the study. He and the others recommend a series of efforts based upon notions of ethical community-building be put into practice at the graduate-school level. The essence of an ethical community is that by doing wrong -- cheating in this case -- all of the stakeholders in the community are harmed, not just the wrongdoer.

Posted by Peter

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

On a Fascist President

The really dangerous American fascists are not those who are hooked up directly or indirectly with the Axis. The FBI has its finger on those. The dangerous American fascist is the man who wants to do in the United States in an American way what Hitler did in Germany in a Prussian way. The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information. With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power.
-Vice President Henry Wallace, 1944.

Chalabi at Cambridge

(Dr.) Ahmed Chalabi spoke at the Cambridge Union Society tonight. He's a good speaker, even if his views are often contradictory, idealistic and obfuscatory.

Here are some of his key quotes:

"The U.S. and Britain chose the wrong reason to justify military action [WMD] ... there were plenty of other good reasons, such as genocide against [sic] people of Iraq."

When asked, based on this statement, whether he supported military intervention in other authoritarian regimes, Chalabi responded, "I never support foreign military intervention." Well you could have fooled me!

"[Iraq] troops are below standard."
"To fight terrorism [in Iraq] we need the US and UK forces to leave us alone."
"So long as foreign troops are in Iraq things cannot get better; if the foreign troops leave, things will get much worse."

When asked, based on these statements, whether he believed foreign troops should leave, he replied, "NO." He never explained why he felt this way, considering that "so long as foreign troops are in Iraq things cannot get better."

One of my personal favorites:
"The occuption powers appointed the first government ... a dream team for intelligence agencies." (my italics)

"The Iraqi police cannot move one battalion of police without the permission of General Casey."

"We wanted to draft a democratic constitution. It is not perfect ... it has many gaps."

"After September 11th, the US government approached us and asked if we knew anyone involved in Iraq's weapons programs ... we found three people ... at no point did we vouch for any information [they] provided."

"We did not want military action [by the US and the UK]"

Does this even need analysis?

Posted by Peter

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

On Wisconsin!

Sure is a great time to be a Badger sports fan, no? The football team continues to climb up the national rankings while the defending national champion men's hockey team has gotten off to a fine start despite some key injuries. They're currently ranked #2 in the nation with a huge series against Boston College looming this weekend. And last but not least, the men's basketball team returns all but one of last year's key contributors and is generating a lot buzz as a trendy final four pick (see here, here, and here). All of which can only mean one thing: LETS GO BADGERS!!

Posted by Kingston

Talking with Iran and Syria

If you get your news from the likes of NRO, Power Line, or the Weekly Standard, this is tantamount to appeasement/legitimizing evil regimes/etc. But according to Iraqi President Jalal Talabani (pictured with President Bush at right), engagement with Iran and Syria is the only way to get Iraq back on track:
BBC: Coming back to the Americans, do you get the impression America is preparing for action against Iran and they want to get Iraq finished first?

Talabani: No, no. On the contrary, my impression is that America is believing in dialogue and in a political solution for issues with Iran, not for war.

We think this is best way, to have a dialogue between the Americans and the Iranians about Iraq, with the participation of the Iraqi side, because both sides back the government here, there is no differences between the US and Iran in theory about Iraq, but there are in practice.

BBC: If Iran and Syria were involved in helping a solution would it make a difference?

Talabani: If Iran and Syria were involved in helping the Iraqi people it will be the beginning of the end of terrorism and securing Iraq within months.
Posted by Kingston

Monday, October 23, 2006

"Israeli Adds Far-Right Party to Coalition"

This can't be good.

Posted by Kingston

God Help Us

As I see it (and some may disagree), the unprecedented level of violence in Iraq has injected a much needed dose of realism into the current political debate about the utility of an open-ended U.S. military presence in that troubled country. Even many conservatives are beginning to question the nature of our involvement in the Middle East. But not NRO's Jed Babbin. For him, the problem isn't that there may be limits to what our amazing military can accomplish in Iraq, but rather that we haven't been sufficiently aggressive in confronting additional enemies in the region:
To win this war means removing the regimes in Iran and Syria and telling the rest of the world that they will be next if they sponsor Islamic fascist terrorism.
I get it. The solution isn't to extricate ourselves from what can only be described as a monumental failure but to embark on additional misguided military campaigns that are also likely to be monumental failures.

P.S. Babbin's drivel is even too much for the boys over at Power Line to stomach: "Babbin thinks the answer lies in forcing regime change in Iran and Syria. But that, I'm afraid, is not in the cards."

Posted by Kingston

Kevin Tillman, Hero

Kevin Tillman, a U.S. Army Ranger and the brother of deceased Army Ranger and former Arizona Cardinal Pat Tillman, has had it with the Bush administration and Iraq:
Somehow we were sent to invade a nation because it was a direct threat to the American people, or to the world, or harbored terrorists, or was involved in the September 11 attacks, or received weapons-grade uranium from Niger, or had mobile weapons labs, or WMD, or had a need to be liberated, or we needed to establish a democracy, or stop an insurgency, or stop a civil war we created that can’t be called a civil war even though it is. Something like that.

Somehow our elected leaders were subverting international law and humanity by setting up secret prisons around the world, secretly kidnapping people, secretly holding them indefinitely, secretly not charging them with anything, secretly torturing them. Somehow that overt policy of torture became the fault of a few “bad apples” in the military.
I look forward to the RNC's attempt to label Kevin a traitor.

Hat Tip: Spencer

Posted by Kingston

On a Fascist President

The really dangerous American fascists are not those who are hooked up directly or indirectly with the Axis. The FBI has its finger on those. The dangerous American fascist is the man who wants to do in the United States in an American way what Hitler did in Germany in a Prussian way. The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information. With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power.

-Vice President Henry Wallace, 1944.

Timeless Quote

If "con" is the opposite of "pro," then is Congress the opposite of progress?
-Jon Stewart

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Real Momentum

Democrats hold solid leads for four of the six Republican seats they need to capture the Senate and about 10 of 15 required to win the House, according to officials in both parties. Numerous additional races remain highly competitive.

Associated Press

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Rice, Overconfident Again

Anne Gearan reports on Condoleezza Rice's optimistic assessment of sanctioning Iran:
The swift move to penalize North Korea for its nuclear test could clear the way for punishing Iran over its disputed nuclear program, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Saturday: "It really does help to create a momentum."

Condi never did understand international politics.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Divide and Conquer

According to the AP:
North Korean leader Kim Jong Il expressed regret about his country's nuclear test to a Chinese delegation and said Pyongyang would return to international nuclear talks if Washington backs off a campaign to financially isolate the country, a South Korean newspaper reported Friday.

What a bunch of HorseSh*t.

Kim Jong Il knew full well that the US would push for economic sanctions (at the least) if it conducted a nuclear test. This is nothing more than Kim Jong's attempt to place oneous on the United States to change its position. If North Korea can successfully convince China that the US is the cause of the current situation, it will make a united front more difficult.

Unfortunately, it will probably work.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Afghan Fishing

This is Amazing!

Hat Tip: Jonah

Posted by Kingston

It's the Weapons, Stupid!

In today's LA Times, CAP senior vice-president Joesph Cirincione picks apart Bush's disastrous policy toward nuclear proliferation. Money part:
At the heart of the problem is the strategy George W. Bush chose, which rejects international treaties as the solution to proliferation. He and his advisors saw these agreements as limiting U.S. flexibility and viewed the United Nations and other global gatherings as arenas where the world's Lilliputians could tie down the American Gulliver.

Bush scuttled the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, walked away from the nuclear test ban treaty secured by President Clinton, opposed efforts to enforce the treaty banning biological weapons, mocked the U.N. inspectors before the Iraq war and sent low-level officials to critical negotiations, including last year's NPT conference. The world now believes that the chief architect of the global nonproliferation system has abandoned its creation.

Instead, the administration preferred to rely on U.S. military might and technology, such as anti-missile systems, to protect the United States. Rather than negotiate treaties to eliminate weapons, it forged a strategy to eliminate the regimes that might use them against us. The Bush team felt they knew who the bad guys were, and they aimed to get them — one by one.

But the strategy has backfired. Both Iran and North Korea accelerated their programs, making more progress in the last five years than they had made in the previous 10. Now North Korea's test threatens to trigger an Asian nuclear-reaction chain that could prompt South Korea, Taiwan and even Japan to reconsider their nuclear options. [emphasis mine]
Posted by Kingston

Friday, October 13, 2006

Unfortunate Turn for Dems

Family considerations will apparently keep Mark Warner from running for President in 2008. The former Virginia Governor was my walk away favorite to beat John McCain, or any likely Republican challenger.

Senator Evan Bayh from Indiana has the next best hope of winning the Presidency. He is a former Governor of Indiana and this executive experience will help. Importantly, he cut taxes during his time as Governor and the Wall Street Journal gave him some rousing support in 1992. He'll have an easy time winning moderate republicans back from the increasingly Religious Right. He also comes from a political family, which has helped certain politicians in the past.

His record of voting against a long list of Bush nominees should give him enough Democratic support in the primaries. But he is still vulnerable from the left: he will have to defend his decision to vote for Iraq Resolution and the Patriot Act in 2004.

With Warner out of the race, we'll be hearing a lot more about Bayh in the near future.

Posted by Peter

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Assissinate Kim Jong Il?

I was curious what sort of whackos might suggest this option, so I googled the question. Old R.J. Rummel (who has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in the Past!) has this to say on his blog:

I can’t imagine any objections to such a sensible policy, but maybe these might be thought up by the imaginative:

1. Assassinating a foreign leader is immoral. Kim is not a leader, but a bloody, tyrannical thug who rules through abject fear. As to the immorality, consider this. If there were a serial murder holding hostages, and the police had good reason to believe he would kill some, then certainly they would position snipers to take him out. Why is that moral and it is immoral to assassinate a foreign thug who we know will kill more of his hostages (the North Korean people), possibly by the hundreds of thousands. Moreover, with his nukes, he is now a national security danger to the U.S. and neighboring countries.

2. It is illegal in American Law. There is no criminal law against assassinating foreign thugs. There is the presidential Executive Order 12333 that prohibits state sponsored assassination, but there are ways around it, including secretly contracting it out.

3. It is against international law. Not that I know of. But, lets say it is. Then we have a conflict of laws. For, certainly, Kim has committed vast crimes against humanity that are punishable by the International Criminal Court, and he has denied his slaves fundamental human rights, which is itself against international law.

4. It is not prudent. Assassination Kim would set a precedent, and other thug regimes then might consider assassinating our president. Saddam Hussein did try to assassinate the elder Bush in 1993 when he visited Kuwait. Anyway, to believe that these murderous thugs would only hold back from assassinating an American president if we did not go after them is quite a stretch.

5. The instability thereby created in North Korea would endanger us, and even possibly lead to war. Better the thug we know than the one we don’t. Excuse me. Isn’t the present one already murdering his people galore, starving them to death, and imprisoning them in a border to border concentration camp; isn’t he developing nukes that already threaten us, and will do so more and more as time goes by with him in power. It’s as though we advise the police against shooting the killer holding hostages, some of which we are sure he will kill, because . . . you know, we don’t know what he will do then.

6. It’s not as easy as you think. Try!

Please let me know if I need to explain why assassinating Kim Jong Il is stupid and I'll be happy to do it in another post. In the meantime, we need to find some better nominees for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Posted by Peter


From the AP:
Along the razor-wired no-man's-land separating the divided Koreas, communist troops were more boldly trying to provoke their southern counterparts: spitting across the demarcation line, making throat-slashing hand gestures, flashing their middle finger and trying to talk to the troops, said U.S. Army Maj. Jose DeVarona of Fayetteville, N.C.

What do the communist troops think would happen if South Korea or the US actually decided to attack? Are they cognizant that such a war would likely lead to most of their deaths, not to mention the civilian fatalities in Seoul?

There are a few rational explanations for the soldiers' increased hostilities. One, they are brainwashed into believing that South Korea and the US actually mean them harm. Two, they are not concerned with whether South Korea or the US mean them harm and are simply trained to kill. Or Three, living under a medieval economic system is so miserable that they would prefer the near certainty of death in war to the likelihood of a reunited Korea afterwards.

My guess is that it is somewhere between the first two scenarios. I would be surprised if most soldiers realized the precariousness of their situation.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Talking with the Enemy

Via Kevin Drum, here's Donald Gregg, National Security Advisor to Vice President George H.W. Bush and U.S. ambassador to South Korea from 1989 to 1993, on why talking to our enemies doesn't always equal appeasement:
Why won't the Bush administration talk bilaterally and substantively with NK, as the Brits (and eventually the US) did with Libya? Because the Bush administration sees diplomacy as something to be engaged in with another country as a reward for that country's good behavior. They seem not to see diplomacy as a tool to be used with antagonistic countries or parties, that might bring about an improvement in the behaviour of such entities, and a resolution to the issues that trouble us. Thus we do not talk to Iran, Syria, Hizballah or North Korea. We only talk to our friends -- a huge mistake.
Is anyone in the Bush administration listening?

Posted by Kingston

Monday, October 09, 2006

Can we Bully Iran?

North Korea's latest launch has a lot of people (such as John Hood) talking tough about Iran. The argument, as King laid out in the previous post, is often based on some hollywood counterfactual about how Clinton could have stopped North Korea's nuclear program by getting tough in the early 90s.

Well, this picture makes me believe John Hood might be right. Because if pigs can fly, maybe we can bully Iran into giving up their nuclear ambitions after all:

Posted by Peter

Powerline's at it Again

The spin-masters over at Powerline are doing their best to the lay the blame for our current North Korea predicament at the feet of anyone but Bush:
If we had a shot, it was back in the mid-1990s when North Korea was just getting started. Our failure to take meaningful action and to hide instead behind the "agreed framework" is another piece of President Clinton's legacy and another item in President Carter's disgraceful resume.
Not surprisingly, however, the reality of the situation does not comport altogether comfortably with Powerline's version of events. As Slate's Fred Kaplan carefully explained back in May 2004, Bush screwed this one up in pretty much the same manner he's screwed everything else up:
The pattern of decision making that led to this debacle--as described to me in recent interviews with key former administration officials who participated in the events--will sound familiar to anyone who has watched Bush and his cabinet in action. It is a pattern of wishful thinking, blinding moral outrage, willful ignorance of foreign cultures, a naive faith in American triumphalism, a contempt for the messy compromises of diplomacy, and a knee-jerk refusal to do anything the way the Clinton administration did it.
Posted by Kingston

Foreign Policy, NRO style

Instered in hearing what NRO's John Hood has to say about North Korea's nuke test? I didn't think so but his senseless drivel is worth a look nonetheless:
Is America serious about confronting [the North Korean] threat? Are we willing to do what it takes to rally our allies and destroy our enemies? Will we take whatever action is necessary, including military action, to prevent Iran from following North Korea’s lead? Do we have the fortitude and the wisdom to confront the Taliban and al Qaeda without tipping Pakistan, another nuclear state, into a dangerous civil war? Will we leave Iraq precipitously and embolden our adversaries to take their war into Europe and closer to our shores?
So there you have it: not only should we ramp up our efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq, but we also need to cut a bloody swath through Iran and North Korea as well. Anyone else think such a strategy is doomed to failure?

Posted by Kingston

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Republicans Take More Heat

This time it's our good friend Senator George Allen. From the AP:
For the past five years, Sen. George Allen (news, bio, voting record), has failed to tell Congress about stock options he got for his work as a director of a high-tech company. The Virginia Republican also asked the Army to help another business that gave him similar options.

When Allen left for the Senate, Commonwealth (one of the companies in question) waived their standard policy which states that departing directors must exercise stock options in just 90 days. Commonwealth extended Allen's options until May 2009. Could this have anything to do with Commonwealth's bids for Federal contracts?

But don't worry, Allen swears that there was no conflict of interest. He didn't think the options were worth mentioning.

Posted By Peter

Quote of the Day

And finally, I am tired of the neoconservative obsession with the 1930s. Of course it was a dramatic decade. But foreign policy hawks have been drawing mistaken “lessons” from the 1930s for the last 60 years. These days any foreign policy that is deemed not be macho enough is automatically labelled as “appeasement”. So, by extension, any foreign leader who finds himself in the crosshairs of American foreign policy is liable to be labelled a fascist. This kind of over-simplification seems to me obviously dangerous, leading to such foreign policy triumphs as the invasion of Iraq.
The FT's Gideon Rachman, venting against the appeasement canard.

Posted by Kingston

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Bold Decisions?

From the International Herald Tribune:

Returning from a trip to the region, Senator John Warner of Virginia said the military had done what it could, and if after three months the Iraqis had made no progress to calm ethnic violence and hasten reconstruction, then Congress would have to make some "bold decisions." Warner did not say what he thought Congress should do. "There is progress being made in certain areas," he said, but "you just find that so many communities don't even have drinking water. It seems to me that the situation is simply drifting sideways."

We are long overdue for some bold decisions. Warner can talk about it all he wants, but it's time Congress fulfilled its constitutional duty of checking the Boy George's errant military adventures.

More Bush(in)formation

The spin machine was on full throttle yesterday as Bush tried to sell his mediocre economy to an unknowing public. Here's the Bushformation:
We got more good news. The national unemployment rate is down to 4.6 percent. We added 6.6 million new jobs since August of 2003. The wages are going up, energy prices are falling, which means people are going to have more money in their pocket to save, invest, or spend. And the fundamental question is, how do we make sure we sustain the economic growth? And one way to do so is to make the tax cuts we passed permanent. One sure way to hurt this economy is to take money out of the pockets of consumers, or small business owners, and send it to Washington, D.C.

That sounds nice. Here's the problem, nonfarm payrolls only went up by 51,000. 51,000 new jobs and the unemployment rate drops from 4.7 to 4.6! What's going on?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics gives us more useful information from the household survey: employment to population rose inched up from 63.09% to 63.14%, while the labor force participation rate inched down from 66.20% to 66.17% (Hat Tip: AngryBear)

And Bush keeps spinning this Tax Cut BS, even after Lazear admitted they don't pay for themselves last week! Incredible.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Progress, According to the Bush Administration

Wearing a helmet and a flak jacket and flanked by machine-gun-toting bodyguards to defend against insurgents, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice came here Thursday, insisting that there were new signs of progress in Iraq and that the Bush administration had never sugarcoated its news about the American occupation...

Yet signs of progress were not much in evidence in the first hours of her visit.

It began inauspiciously when the military transport plane that brought her to Baghdad was forced to circle the city for about 40 minutes because of what a State Department spokesman later said was either mortar fire or rockets at the airport.

On Thursday evening, during her meeting with President Jalal Talabani, the lights went out, forcing Ms. Rice to continue the discussion in the dark. It was a reminder of the city’s erratic — and sometimes nonexistent — electrical service.

She arrived in the midst of an especially bloody few days for American troops. At least 21 American soldiers have been killed in Iraq since Saturday, most in Baghdad. Two car bombings in the city on Thursday left at least four Iraqi civilians dead.

The extraordinary security precautions for Ms. Rice’s trip here — her first to Iraq in six months, her fifth as secretary of state — were evidence of continuing turmoil in Iraq three years after the American ouster of Saddam Hussein.

Traveling from Israel on Thursday morning, Ms. Rice had to abandon her comfortable official jet at an American air base in Turkey and to board a C-17A cargo plane equipped with antimissile technology for the final, 90-minute leg into Baghdad; that procedure has become routine for all high-ranking Bush administration officials visiting Iraq.

From the airport in Baghdad, Ms. Rice flew by military helicopter to the heavily fortified American-controlled Green Zone, bypassing the dangerous, explosives-strewn airport highway into the city. [emphasis mine]
No big deal though. For as President Bush recently reminded us, all of this will look like just a comma one day.

Posted by Kingston

Thursday, October 05, 2006

US Drives Health Care Innovation

From Tyler Cowen at the NYT:
In the last 10 years, for instance, 12 Nobel Prizes in medicine have gone to American-born scientists working in the United States, 3 have gone to foreign-born scientists working in the United States, and just 7 have gone to researchers outside the country.

Here's to the home team.

Hat Tip: Mankiw

Posted by Peter

Quote of the Day

"Admittedly, [the Iraqi election last December] seems like a decade ago," Bush went on. "I like to tell people when the final history is written on Iraq, [the violence] will look like just a comma because there is -- my point is, there's a strong will for democracy." [emphasis min]
I'm simply at a loss for words.

Hat Tip: Matt

Posted by Kingston

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


Here's the Wall Street Journal's take on the lesson of the Foley scandal:
But in today's politically correct culture, it's easy to understand how senior Republicans might well have decided they had no grounds to doubt Mr. Foley merely because he was gay and a little too friendly in emails. Some of those liberals now shouting the loudest for Mr. Hastert's head are the same voices who tell us that the larger society must be tolerant of private lifestyle choices, and certainly must never leap to conclusions about gay men and young boys. Are these Democratic critics of Mr. Hastert saying that they now have more sympathy for the Boy Scouts' decision to ban gay scoutmasters? Where's Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on that one?...Yes, Mr. Hastert and his staff should have done more to quarantine Mr. Foley from male pages after the first email came to light. But if that's the standard, we should all admit we are returning to a rule of conduct that our cultural elite long ago abandoned as intolerant.
Translation: None of this would have happened had we as a society never come to see homosexuals as actual people. And to think that this passes for respectable journalism in many circles...

Hat Tip: Andrew

Posted by Kingston

More Iraq Carnage

Lost amidst news of the Foley scandal: The deaths of 13 U.S. troops in Iraq in the first two days of October. Couple that with the 74 that were killed in September and the past 30 or so days have been the bloodiest for American troops in nearly a year.

Posted by Kingston

Quote of the Day

We never--none of us ever believed that [Iraq] had nuclear weapons. The only real worry that we had was chemical.
Donald Rumsfeld, "quoted" on Page 102 of Bob Woodward's third book on the Bush administration entitled State of Denial. Funny how this wasn't exaclty the message Rummy was conveying back in 2002/early 2003...

Hat Tip: Spencer Ackerman

Posted by Kingston

Libertarian Democrats?

Markos Moulitsas expands on his vision of the libertarian democrat at CATO unbound; he first introduced the idea on the Daily Kos.

Here are some choice pieces:

The modern libertarian (and conservative) view has been that government is an evil, perhaps necessary, but still a grave threat to personal liberties requiring the utmost vigilance against its instincts for perpetual expansion.

The fundamental reason that "libertarian" has become "libertarian democrat" is that corporations are becoming more powerful than governments. This fundamental fact has created a union between those with libertarian tendencies and those with those who believed all along that government can be a force for good ...
Oil and oil services companies can even dictate when and how the most powerful nation on earth decides to go to war. A cabal of major corporate industry is, in fact, more powerful than the government of the most powerful nation on earth–and government is the only thing that can stop them from recklessly exploiting the people and destroying their freedom. (quoted from hekebolos on Daily Kos)

That, in essence, is why I am a Democrat, and why my original blog post on libertarian Democrats struck a chord with so many. We cherish freedom, and will embrace any who would protect it. But that necessarily includes, in this day and age, the government.

I like that people are talking about these issues, but the idea of a libertarian democrat is incompatible with the fundamental principles of the modern liberal perspective.

At the center of this logic rests the assumption that corporations are more powerful than governments (and that these special interests are more powerful today than they were 100 years ago). Furthermore, it presumes that corporations and governments can be compared on the same plane Academics peddle this nonsense all the time, but they ignore the crucial (and very important difference) that governments have a monopoly over the use of force. The subjugation to an economic lifestyle looks nothing like subjugation by military means.

Old democrats believed that the government could protect the poor from the whims of the market, but they did not need to call this libertarianism.

This might be semantics, but I think it weakens the political force of the democratic party to attach itself to libertarianism.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Lazear on Debt, Taxes and the Economy

Ed Lazear pissed-off a lot of people on friday, with his testimony before the Senate Budget Committee. Although he admitted that, "we do not think tax cuts pay for themselves," most of his testimony seemed to mask this simple fact. He argues that the tax cuts were good for the economy and did not burden the country with debt.

The big, fat, white elephant in the middle of his testimony is his implicit claim that the tax cuts are temporary, with only short-term effects. Lazear told the senate to control spending (he failed to mention that Iraq would be a good place to start) but did not mention that the tax cuts exacerbate the situation.

It's not that Lazear is wrong in everything he said; he was just obscuring some of the more important facts. For example, It is true that nominal tax revenues were 9.4% higher in 2005 than in 2000, but PRICES WERE 12.7% HIGHER. (Hat tip: Angry Bear)

For more information on how the Bush administration fudges its debt numbers, see CalculatedRisk.

Posted by Peter.