The Rundown

August 14, 2007
  • Matthew Yglesias asks an important question — Would Rudy Giuliani Bomb Iran? (I’ll give you a hint: the answer is “yes.”)
  • In other scary war news, there have been murmurs about the draft again in recent weeks. Steve Levitt of Freakonomics fame makes a pretty persuasive argument against. Fortunately, the Pentagon’s official line is still that the draft is off the table.
  • Via Brad DeLong, Abu Aardvark points out that a Petraeus/Crocker report might, due to the nature of their respective positions, be somewhat schizophrenic.
  • Jesus Christ, why does Chuck Schumer want anything to do with copyrighting fashion designs?
  • The Democratic Strategist thinks election reform is a good idea. So do I. I’d like something even more radically than what the author would like, but anything is better than what we have now.

The Rundown

August 9, 2007
  • More good writing on the Minnesota Bridge Disaster by Michael O’Hare.
  • Via Crooked Timber, a good Boston Review article on the sociology of American prisons.
  • Cal Thomas, with whom I rarely agree, makes a pretty good case that we should vote for competence over ideology next year.
  • Bruce Bartlett, not exactly a tree-hugger, writes a guest entry over at Andrew Sullivan’s blog criticizing a less-than-accurate Drudge headline on global warming. A Drudge headline, shrill and wrong? Shocking, I know.
  • In other poorly written news news, Matthew Yglesias is outraged at a NYT article which doesn’t bother rebut the Administration’s charges of Democratic tax shenanigans.
  • Finally, Freakonomics hosts a high-profile discussion of street charity. Still hate the term “quorum” for these posts, though.

The Rundown

August 3, 2007
  • The best piece I’ve seen on the I-35 Bridge Collapse. It’s just very well done.
  • New poll shows a three-way split in Iowa between the big three Dems. Oh how I love a horserace.
  • Mark Kleiman has a great anecdote about the ongoing problems in the credit market.
  • Matthew Yglesias points to a good critique of the O’Hanlon/Pollack editorial. He also conveys some interesting Romney news.
  • And finally, hell froze over as President Bush announced international climate change talks today.

The Hollow Horn

July 30, 2007
  • One pretty solid positive for Fred Thompson: he has spoken out against the growing federalization of criminal law.
  • Is Barack Obama, as this Slate article suggests, “all sizzle and no steak”? Meanwhile, Matthew Yglesias weighs in on the Clinton-Obama foreign policy spat here, and I agree.
  • I am not the only one who thinks Edwards’ advocation of capital gains tax hikes may not be the best way to go about raising the funds our government needs to pay its debts. Tyler Cowen weighs in here.
  • Good news, travelers: David Kopel makes a fairly compelling case that sometimes flying really is better than driving.
  • Foreign Policy asks, “What’s wrong with this foreign policy?”

Really, John?

July 29, 2007

John Edwards has an economic plan. This sort of populism always seems to resonate with people when the general mood is pessimistic, but ultimately, it’s a terrible idea. A few of his points certainly seem like good ideas:

  • Repealing the Bush tax cuts for the most fortunate families, who make more than $200,000 a year.
  • Ending the abuse of foreign tax havens.
  • Closing the hedge fund and private equity loopholes.

I think a substantial number of both liberals and conservatives would agree with those three points. Likewise, many economists think the economy would function much better if people saved more, so encouraging more savings wouldn’t be a bad idea, either.

The rest of the plan is not so impressive. The keystone of the plan involves doubling the rate of taxation on capital gains. If Edwards doesn’t think that would have far reaching negative implications for the economy, he doesn’t understand even the most basic principles of economics. Lower returns to investment yield less investment, resulting in less entrepreneurship and a weaker, slower economy. Likewise, caps for executive pensions would be likely to reduce tax revenue, and would also do exactly zero good for the working class. Yes, brilliant plan, Mr. Edwards. Let’s hope the other Democrats come up with something better.

Clinton, Obama, and the Problem with Primaries

July 29, 2007

I have long suspected the primary system in this country leads to suboptimal candidates making it into the general election. As with any nominating system, the nomination goes to whoever does the best job of pandering to the base. That would not be as much of a problem, save for the fact that we have a two party system. So, in all likelihood, no more than 15-20 percent of each party is the most critical in selecting everyone else’s options to lead the country for 4-8 years.

The current Democratic primary race is a great example. Granted, it still could go to anyone, but let’s face it, it sure is looking like it’s going to be Hillary. This, despite the fact that recent polls show her trailing any of the likely Republican nominees, while Obama leads all of them. This is absurd.

Andrew Sullivan also noticed this poll and wrote about it, asking why anyone would vote for Hillary. One of his readers provided some pretty good insight. Money quote:

The Democratic Convention will ignore the moderates in their own party, and the independents anxiously awaiting Bush’s ride off into the sunset.  The Democrats will nominate Hilary, when Obama has shown in poll after poll that he is electable due to his broad appeal among moderates and independents.

I’m depressed.

The Democratic Debate

July 24, 2007

I admit, I didn’t watch the whole thing live. I went to the bar in the middle of it. Bad punditry, I know. I have been following the clips and analysis pretty closely though.

The jackpot of analysis is Marc Ambinder’s blog. Relevant posts here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

The Democratic Strategist wonders if the medium was more important than the message.

Jay Cost argues that the debates present a classic collective action problem, and that far fewer debates would be both sufficient and efficient.

I am still waiting for Richardson to distinguish himself, but I am starting to think I might be waiting for a long time. Most people seem to think Hillary won, which is a damned shame, in my opinion. I really am not a big fan, although she still has my vote over anyone in the Republican field.