Sunday, December 14, 2003

Is there any reason for an economic conservative to vote for Bush, besides the specter of the alternative? The obvious one is the tax cuts, but those are in past; at some point you have to raise taxes, decrease spending, or just wait for economic growth to increase revenues enough. So is there anything Bush offers in a second term? Maybe one thing.

Saturday, December 13, 2003

Steve Antler has some interesting simulations of the U. S. Economy under alternate histories of fiscal policy for the Bush administration. He even has one showing that the policy near and dear to my heart, using spending cuts to balance the budget, would be economically painful.

So what? Are we "all Keynesians now?" Well, I'm sure Bush is, even if he doesn't know it. I remember back in the 2000 primary Bush criticizing the Republican congress for trying to "balance the budget on the backs of the poor." Likewise, Bush has talked a lot about stimulating the economy during his presidency, adopting policies like tax rebate checks that originated with the Democrats, not the supply-siders. Anyhow, I'm willing to concede cutting spending too fast would be unwise, while still remaining outraged at the surging spending that is occurring. I'd have been happy if just non-military discretionary spending was frozen. But no, Congress and Bush have had little discretion here, and now they've created a whole new category of non-discretionary spending, a prescription drug entitlement.

Friday, December 12, 2003

North Korea really needs to work on customer satisfaction.

The Yemenese were not happy:
One example cited repeatedly by U.S. officials to foreign governments is that the much-publicized SCUD missiles sent to Yemen from North Korea last December actually don’t work.
Nor was Saddam:
Instead, the goal was to obtain a full production line to manufacture, under an Iraqi flag, the North Korean missile system, which would be capable of hitting American allies and bases around the region, according to the Bush administration officials.

As war with the United States approached, though, the Iraqi files show that Mr. Hussein discovered what American officials say they have known for nearly a decade now: that Kim Jong Il, the North Korean leader, is less than a fully reliable negotiating partner.

In return for a $10 million down payment, Mr. Hussein appears to have gotten nothing."
This all reminds me of Back to the Future.
Marty: Doc, you don't just walk into a store and buy plutonium. Did you rip that off?

Doc: Of course. From a group of Libyan nationalists. They wanted me build them a bomb. So I built them a shiny bomb casing filled with used pinball machine parts!
Read Eugene Volokh's post on the dangerous slippery slope on which we now tread thanks to the Supreme Court's decision on the Bipartisan Campaign Censorship Finance Reform Act.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

"Sovereignty and Democracy" - nice overview.
Interesting debate on nanotech. I think Smalley is right, but I'm no chemist.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

More Chinese military threats against Taiwan. They are primarily a message to us, not to Taiwan. The Chinese premier is coming to visit the White House next week, and the Chinese want us to tell Taiwan not make China angry by holding a referendum on official independence. I half wish we'd respond to the Chicoms in kind, with some of our military officers putting out statements containing something like "We're ready to lay the smackdown if China wants to take the Taiwan thing to next level." Warmongering words can deter war you know. And it would deflate the warmongerers over there, as they know they can't win. What can they do? Bluff about how many millions of Chinese they're willing to sacrifice in a nuclear exchange? Please.

I only half wish this because, believe it or not, I actually do care a little about diplomacy. It sounds much better to make high-minded pronouncements about the need to resolve the Taiwan issue peacefully and to make threats more implicitly than explicitly. More importantly, being diplomatic gives bellicose foes (at least the sane ones) the option of backing off without losing as much face.

While I'm on the topic of military confrontation, let me posit the following prediction. An huge conventional war fought directly by two nuclear powers' militaries is not only a possibility but an eventuality. Nuclear weapons rule out either side being totally defeated and conquered, but they don't rule out a huge fight over something nonessential, like a disputed border region. There are many disputed borders around the world and the nuclear club is getting ever more inclusive. Moreover, in such a war, victory is not total victory but rather reducing one's opponents options to suing for peace and nuclear escalation, the latter being unlikely due to the usual MAD deterrent. (Tom Clancy's Red Storm Rising envisioned such a scenario in Cold War Europe.)
Multiculturalism isn't so great when the other culture is crap. This is a case in point: Muslims in Europe paralegally implementing sharia amongst themselves, with all the associated barbarity.

Fighting dirty to betray their principles

Medicare round-up: David Gratzer summarizes the problems with the bill. David Brooks fleshes out the context of how power has corrupted the Republicans. (Lord Action shown right once again.) Deroy Murdock lists the Republican congressmen and senators who defied the establishment and voted against this mess.

If there's a moral to this story it's that in 2008 Republicans need to nominate a more anti-government candidate. Only Nixon could go to China and only Republicans can create new entitlements nowadays. Better to lose the general election in 2008 than to enact the Democrat's agenda for them.
CIA veteran Stuart Cohen defends the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.
I precisely agree with this constitutional interpretation.