Friday, February 02, 2007

IATF RFC Response

On Tech Central Station yesterday, Arnold Kling began the process of laying out principals that guide "contemporary libertarian conservatives." Since I consider myself a "small l" libertarian, I am taking this opportunity to respond to his RFC and hopefully help refine the IATF principal list:

Economic Principals
I'm surprised not to see some mention of the invisible hand of the market and a more explicit acknowledgement that people acting in their own self-interests can simultaneously be working toward the common good. I would also advocate a principal of limiting government's economic involvement to solving externalities and one of using market-driven policies or a respect for market forces to achieve public interest goals.

Ethical Principals
I am struggling with item #5. I am not sure I am comfortable with the government providing incentives for a particular form of life-style or family structure. I understand Professor Kling is only saying that the government should not incentivise people against family, but I worry that's a slippery slope. Government should be enacting policies that allow people to live as they see fit. [Update: Or, even better, the government should be repealing existing policies that limit or constrain how people live.] I would rather see this principal advocate protection for children who are not yet mature enough or capable of caring for themselves. I might mention them importance of strong education but I would limit any attempts to governmentally influence how parents' raise their children.

In item #6, I would broaden "Ten Commandments and Biblical scripture" to include something along the lines of "the moral teachings of the world's great religions."

I would add this principal: "We believe that morality and ethics should primarily be built upon the simple foundational premise that 'my right to swing my fist stops at the tip of your nose.'"

I like item #7.

International Principals
I think the international principals are fairly strong as they are. I would consider adding "We view diplomacy not as a goal, but as a tool to further other goals, including national security and the free exchange of goods, services, and ideas." I might also add (but I'm less concerned with this one), "We are unwilling to relinquish our individual liberties and freedoms to the will of foreign leaders who we have not elected to represent us. We do not feel embarassed or ashamed when citizens and leaders of other nations criticize our beliefs, ideas, or way of life. Instead we recognize their desire to live differently and request that they respect ours."

All in all, I think this is an interesting set of principals, and I am looking forward to seeing it develop and strengthen as Professor Kling leverages the internet's marketplace of ideas to refine the list.

Sure, but now what?

Charles Krauthammer has a fairly insightful column in the Washington Post assessing the current situation in Iraq:

America comes and liberates them from the tyrant who kept everyone living in fear, and the ancient animosities and more recent resentments begin to play themselves out to deadly effect. Tens of thousands of Iraqis have died, the overwhelming majority of them killed by Sunni insurgents, Baathist dead-enders and their al-Qaeda allies who carry on the Saddamist pogroms.
He's right that it's not our fault that they want to kill each other, but he doesn't comment on whether he felt this was predictable, and unfortunately he doesn't make any suggestions for what to do next.

F'ed Up Fridays - X

"IPCC report: By 2100 the sea level will rise anywhere between 5 and 23 inches," says this article. "If you were a roofer and you built a roof and it was two feet off, you'd still be doing time," says Lewis Black. Okay, okay, that's a rough paraphrasing of what he said—but really, it seems to me like five inches isn't going to do that much damage, but 23 would. So which is it? Oh, that's right, you have no freaking clue. So why are we freaking out about it?

"Oh my God, they killed Barbaro."
"You bastards!"
Seriously, though, doesn't all that effort to fix his leg seem like a bit of a waste now?

Maybe I shouldn't be so afraid of killer robots. After all, if this is any indication, they'll go blind regularly.

So can we blame Purell for the Kevin Federlines of the world?

Want to be a spaceman? Better overthrow the government, first.

I haven't yet seen An Inconvenient Truth, so that last fact was news to me. Still, it provides yet another reason for me to avoid Macs.

Sounds appropriate.

I'm sorry, but there is absolutely no way that a marijuana derivative will suppress hunger. Haven't these scientists ever heard of the munchies?

Ray guns make sense, but now we're going to take people out by causing them to slip and fall?

This is just disgusting. Talk about conspicuous consumption.

Can you really fault the guy for mistaking Charles for Frankenstein?

If they're going to stop selling them when current stock runs out, then it won't happen for a while. I mean, seriously, is anyone still buying them?

Robert is creative, Michelle is an idiot.

Or, you know, you could hire an extra gym teacher. Maybe there's a reason West Virginia ranks 37th out of 50?

Hilarious.

Lesson learned: don't try to host a Superbowl party if you have a really big TV—particularly if you a non-profit organization.

I don't even like reading text messages that people send to me, why would I want to read this?

And when the internet wakes up, it can play you like a fiddle.

This is strangely beautiful and yet utterly, utterly twisted at the same time.

Special thanks to those who submitted this week. As always, feel free to email me your F'ed Up news items.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Respectfully, Senator Specter, shut the hell up...

...if you don't know what you're talking about. From CNN.com:

A Senate Republican on Tuesday directly challenged President Bush's declaration that "I am the decision-maker" on issues of war.

"I would suggest respectfully to the president that he is not the sole decider," Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pennsylvania, said during a hearing on Congress' war powers amid an increasingly harsh debate over Iraq war policy. "The decider is a shared and joint responsibility," Specter said.
Unfortunately, it appears that the Senator has never read the Constitution of the United States.

Well, let's give him a refresher. Article I, Section 8:
The Congress shall have power [...]

To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water;
Article II, Section 2:
The President shall be commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states, when called into the actual service of the United States;
In case you didn't follow that, Congress has the right to declare war and the President has command of the troops. In other words, the President determines the strategy.

Now, obviously presidential war power is not cut-and-dry, and Congress has long tried to secure more power than was initially granted by the Constitution (The War Powers Act comes to mind, and while I believe it to be unconstitutional it is the law of the land). Not since the Revolutionary War, however, has Congress tried to exert power over the way a war is conducted. They can choose to authorize it or not and they can choose to fund it or not—but trying to weigh in on military strategy is quite clearly beyond their power.

Perhaps Senator Specter should read the book listed above, as it might clear some thigns up for him—I'd be happy to send him my copy.

Monday, January 29, 2007

The Always Helpful Blue Shirts

Sadly, I was right and Mr. Lileks' efforts to exchange his purchase for the correct XM device turned into a debacle.

Weekend Religious Festival or Insurgent Rout?

Sounds like it was both.

War opponents will obviously try to paint this as more of the same sectarian violence. While I think it will be very dangerous for us to stay caught in a tribal war, I find this encouraging for a couple of reasons.

First, according to this report, the Iraqi security forces did most of the actual fighting. Guess that means that they're starting to be ready to stand up and secure the country.

Second, it sounds like there were only 6 or so Iraqi Security forces members killed (mostly in the opening skirmish) and 2 US troops (in a downed helicopter). If that's truly the case, and the insurgents lost 250-300 men out of a force of 400-600... one would have to think that's a pretty demoralizing victory.

Too bad you have to read down so far in the article to fish out those details. It would be nice if just once the headlines read "Insurgent Force Decimated" or "Iraqi Government Forces Repel Terrorist Attack".

All Jacked Up

Or should that be "All Kim-ed Up"?

I'll be liveblogging 24 for the first time this season, tonight, at 9PM Eastern.

So make sure to check it out at Blogs4Bauer.

Sound Familiar?

Instapundit links to this post about DRM.

Remember, folks, you heard it here first.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Sunday Night Thoughts

I spent a bulk of this afternoon updating the template here at RFTR (let me know if you have any recommendations by emailing me). Then I decided that, since I had little time to keep up with—and especially to comment on—the news this week, I should spend some time blog-surfing. In turn, this gave me the desire to comment on various things I found interesting. Below is a collection of those comments.

Instapundit comments on the growing civil war between the Fatah and Hamas factions in Palestine. It's likely that this may provide an answer to Tanstaafl's questions, posed the other day, by rendering 3a and 3b moot. If, in fact, the Shia/Sunni strife is breaking out in Palestine, then it matters little what we do in Iraq. Even if we manage to put down the rivalry, it will only be a temporary peace if the two sects are engaging one another on another front.

The entire thesis of this article—that the Geico caveman has jumped the shark—rests on this line:

While the latter is the more in-your-face defiant and barely suppressed angry response, it is the former—"I’ll have the roast duck with mango salsa" that has somehow become iconic.
Do you agree with that premise? I'm not sure I do. I think the angry "I don't have much of an appetite" is much more memorable. That Rosenbaum would rest his entire argument on a questionable assumption seems silly to me. And even if he is right, do we really care if the Geico caveman has become irrelevant? Seems like an awful lot of analysis, building from a flawed base, for naught.

In an otherwise fascinating article—which you should definitely read—Arnold Kling points out that "Greg Mankiw does better than Brad DeLong on scholarly recognition but not on Internet recognition." I think that, thanks to his blog the latter should start to shift in Mankiw's favor as time progresses. We can certainly hope that, at the very least, his common sense economics gain in popularity.

Finally, be sure to read Michael Yon's latest dispatch from Iraq. Instapundit reports that Yon emailed him to say:
There are two types of media sources covering this war: the ones who are here, and those who are not. The media is Missing In Action, and reporting from afar. Yesterday, for instance, major media reported on an attack in a small village north of Mosul. None of those sources actually visited the village. I did.
Keep that in mind as you read what he has to say.