David Kirkpatrick

July 5, 2010

Karl Rove, fiscal hypocrite

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:27 pm

Of course that should surprise absolutely no one who paid any fiscal attention from 2001 to January 2009.

Daniel Mitchell blogging at Cato@Liberty rips Rove a new one for essentially doing what he always does — pretending the unfathomable fiscal recklessness of the Bush 43 years never happened.

From the link:

Rove has zero credibility on these issues. In the excerpt below, Rove attacks Obama for earmarks, but this corrupt form of pork-barrel spending skyrocketed during the Bush years. Rove rips Obama for government-run healthcare, but Rove helped push through Congress a reckless new entitlement for prescription drugs. He attacks Obama for misusing TARP, but the Bush administration created that no-strings-attached bailout program.

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July 2, 2009

How is Obama doing on civil liberties?

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:16 pm

Civil liberties are a major rock in the foundation of the United States and Obama ran on a group of issues that leaned heavily on civil liberties. Heading into this Fourth of July weekend, and given he’s been in office for over five months now, I think it’s a fair time to take a look at where the Obama administration is vis-a-vis civil liberties.

Not so great. This administration has been more about lip service than action on the civil liberty front. To be fair change in D.C. won’t happen overnight on any set of policies, but to date there doesn’t seem any urgency to many of the civil liberty concerns Obama ran on in the race for the Oval Office.

Here’s Cato’s Doug Bandow on Obama’s dissappointing performance:

It’s fair to say that civil liberties and limited government were not high on President George W. Bush’s priorities list.  Indeed, they probably weren’t even on the list.  Candidate Barack Obama promised “change” when he took office, and change we have gotten.  The name of the president is different.

Alas, the policies are much the same.  While it is true that President Obama has not made the same claims of unreviewable monarchical power for the chief executive–an important distinction–he has continued to sacrifice civil liberties for dubious security gains.

Reports the New York Times:

Civil libertarians recently accused President Obama of acting like former President George W. Bush, citing reports about Mr. Obama’s plans to detain terrorism suspects without trials on domestic soil after he closes the Guantánamo prison.

It was only the latest instance in which critics have argued that Mr. Obama has failed to live up to his campaign pledge “to restore our Constitution and the rule of law” and raised a pointed question: Has he, on issues related to fighting terrorism, turned out to be little different from his predecessor?

March 13, 2009

End the “war” on drugs …

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:43 pm

and save $77 billion.

February 26, 2009

Free markets=crazy?

Filed under: Business, Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:03 pm

I’m thinking Harvard Law is the one full of the crazy here.

From the  link:

I don’t know whether this belongs in the comic-relief category or the future-threats category, but the Harvard Law School is having a conference to analyze the “free market mindset.” The basic premise of the conference seems to be that people who believe in limited government are psychologically troubled.

The conference schedule features presentations such as “How Thinking Like an Economist Undermines Community” and “Addicted to Incentives: How the Ideology of Self Interest Can Be Self-Fulfilling.” The most absurd presentation, though, may be the one entitled, “Colossal Failure: The Output Bias of Market Economies.” According to the description, the author argues that the market “delivers excessive levels of consumption.” Damn those entrepreneurs for creating so much wealth!

January 30, 2009

Terrorists are criminals, not soldiers

That very point is one of Bush’s failures in the poorly named “war on terror.” These fools are criminals. Sometimes common, sometimes uncommon, but criminals none the less. They aren’t soldiers. Just barbaric thugs wielding dark ages theology in defense  of cowardly acts.

Bush played perfectly into the hands of these idiots by declaring war on the very concept of terror, labeling them “enemy combatants” and giving them special — if unpleasant — status. Better to have utilized our law enforcement and military to capture and legally try each and every one. Being called a common international law-breaking loser is much less sexy than being martyred as a combatant captured in a global war.

Here’s a great bit from Cato-at-Liberty. It’s part of a much longer post on Ali Saleh Mohamed Kahlah al-Marri that deserves reading, but this perfectly illustrates where the Bush response to terrorism utterly failed.

From the link:

German also points out that terrorists rely on their claim to be something more akin to soldiers than criminals to maintain political legitimacy. IRA terrorists held by British authorities staged a hunger strike to retain treatment as “prisoners of war” rather than “criminals.” Ten of them willingly starved to death rather than be lumped in with murderers and rapists, the goal of the British “criminalization” strategy. As German writes:

The reasons for the hunger strike reveal much about the IRA and about terrorists in general. They didn’t strike over the anti-Catholic discrimination that led to the civil rights movement. They didn’t strike over the RUC’s police abuse or the stationing of British troops in Northern Ireland. They didn’t strike over being arrested without charges, interned, and tortured. They didn’t strike over indefinite detentions or even over Bloody Sunday. They knew all those things helped their cause. They went on hunger strike because the British government was going to make them look like criminals.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, architect of the 9/11 attacks, sees the writing on the wall — the Obama administration intends to close down the Military Commissions and try him and his co-conspirators in a traditional court of law. This is why he tried to plead guiltyand become a martyr for his cause. If we convict al-Marri and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in federal court and not a Military Commission or one of the proposed national security courts, the Al Qaeda boogey-man is revealed as a thug, not a noble Muslim soldier. 

GOP (finally) finds small government roots?

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 11:55 am

I’m Cato’s David Boaz here — how convenient House Republicans suddenly realized they are for small government after acting as anything but for Bush 43. 

Hypocrisy doesn’t look all that great, and it probably won’t play all that great. Trust in this gang is very, very low among small government GOPers and libertarians alike.

From the link:

“Small Government Returns as [Republican] Maxim,” headlines the Washington Post.

The unanimous vote by House Republicans against President Obama’s stimulus plan provided an early indication that the GOP hopes to regain power by becoming the champion of small government, a reputation many felt slipped away during the high-spending Bush years.

But small-government voters may not be persuaded that the GOP has returned to its principles on the basis of one vote against a bill proposed by the other party, which happens to be, in the words of Republican whip Eric Cantor, likely “the largest spending bill in history.”

January 22, 2009

The fiscal GOP under Bush 43

Not the least bit fiscally conservative. As a matter of fact, quite the opposite. That’s going to be a tough mantle to bear when the next election cycle rolls around and Republican candidates start in on the empty rhetoric of big-spending Democrats and prudent Republicans.

Yes, the current administration and Congress will be big spenders. It’s not going to be surprising. Disappointing maybe, but no surprise. The surprise will be it’s almost impossible that a Democratic White House, Senate and House will outspend the most recent GOP-controlled White House, Senate and House.

Any new-found GOP fiscal conservatism is going to ring hollow for probably a couple of more election cycles, and very maybe much longer.

From the Cato-at-Liberty link:

House Minority Leader John Boehner tells NPR, “I and most Republicans believe that a smaller, less costly government gives us a healthier economy and a healthier society.”

Reality check: How the federal budget grew during the years of President Bush and a Republican Congress:

Obama moves to shut down Gitmo

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:16 pm

In one of his first acts as president, Obama issued a directive to close the Guantanamo prison camp. The move restores the rule of law to our current military operations and makes the successful prosecution of international criminals in the “war on terror” much more likely.

From the link:

Saying that “our ideals give us the strength and moral high ground” to combat terrorism, President Obama signed executive orders Thursday effectively ending the Central Intelligence Agency’s secret interrogation program, directing the closing of the Guantánamo Bay detention camp within a year and setting up a sweeping, high-level review of the best way to hold and question terrorist suspects in the future.

“We intend to win this fight,” Mr. Obama said, “We are going to win it on our own terms.”

As he signed three orders, 16 retired generals and admirals who have fought for months for a ban on coercive interrogations stood behind him and applauded. The group, organized to lobby the Obama transition team by the group Human Rights First, did not include any career C.I.A. officers or retirees, participants said.

One of Mr. Obama’s orders requires the C.I.A. to use only the 19 interrogation methods outlined in the Army Field Manual, ending President Bush’s policy of permitting the agency to use some secret methods that went beyond those allowed to the military.

The Cato Institute applauds this move:

Within a day of Barack Obama’s inauguration, he has asked the military commissions judges to halt all trials in Guantanamo.  All indications point toward detainees being tried in federal courts.  This is a good decision for a couple of reasons.

First, the military commissions play into the propaganda game that terrorists thrive on.  It confirms their message that normal courts can’t address the threat that they pose.  In fact, the opposite is true.  When you convict a terrorist and lock him up with murderers and rapists, you take away his freedom fighter mystique.

January 7, 2009

Kagan to be next solicitor general

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:17 am

This from Cato-at-Liberty:

The selection of Harvard Law School Dean Elana Kagan to be the next solicitor general (and the first woman nominated for a position known as the “Tenth Justice”) is not at all surprising. 

One reason I supported Obama this past election was his stance on civil liberties. Presidencies can get derailed by any number of things — 9/11 anyone? — but I hold out very high hopes for civil liberties under an Obama administration.

There’s going to be a lot that I’ll be holding my nose over, but I see a tremendous upside if he can maintain the momentum. So far in the transition period, I’ve been pleased with his actions and appointments.

Also from the Cato link:

Two things we know about Kagan is that she is very smart – even before the Supreme Court clerkship and record of scholarship, she won a Sachs Scholarship, sometimes called a “Princeton Rhodes” – and has done a fabulous job as dean (including poaching star professors from law schools across the country).  While the White House and Attorney General will, of course, be setting the administration’s legal policy, we can expect Kagan to defend those policy positions ferociously and expertly.  Whether those efforts will coincide with a defense of the individual liberty and limited government encapsulated in the Constitution remains to be seen.

December 9, 2008

Cato praises Obama’s transparency

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:14 pm

Cato-at-Liberty, the blog of the libertarian Cato Institute, had this to say about Obama’s transition to date.

From the link:

The President-elect’s Change.gov Web site announced a new feature on Friday, called Your Seat at the Table: “The Obama-Biden Transition Team will be hearing from many groups over the next several weeks. On this page, you can track these meetings, view documents provided to the Transition, and leave comments for the team.”

Says a memo from transition head John Podesta, itself posted online, “[A]ny documents from official meetings with outside organizations will be posted on our website for people to review and comment on.”

This is a very good start at transparency. John Wonderlich at the Sunlight Foundation wonders what this might look like across the entire executive branch. If the default rule were online disclosure of documents submitted to government agencies, that would make a big change in the conduct of the public’s business.

December 5, 2008

It’s Repeal Day (of prohibition) …

Filed under: et.al., Media, Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 7:05 pm

… so have an adult beverage tonight!

I touched on the subject here with a post on the war on drugs, but this a milestone — the 75th anniversary of the repeal of the ban on alcohol. An ill-advised and ill-fated excerise in social puritanism out of control. Somewhat like the ongoing war on drugs.

Cato-at-Liberty was so excited about today there were posts!

The first from Tim Lynch:

Today is the 75th anniversary of the repeal of alcohol prohibition. We are, alas, living in a time when way too many people think that the way to solve problems and improve the human condition is to enact more laws. Let’s remember that repealing certain laws can actually help to create a more free and prosperous society! 

Cato is celebrating today’s anniversary with an event this afternoon entitled “Free to Booze.” 

More thoughts on Repeal Day from Radley Balko and our friends at MPP. For Cato scholarship, go here, here, and here.

The second just minutes later from Brandon Arnold:

Today is a great day in American history. Exactly 75 years ago, the 21st Amendment was ratified, thus repealing Prohibition. But Prohibition isn’t a subject that should be studied by historians alone, as this failed experiment continues to have a significant impact on our nation. 

Groups like the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, a key force in the passage of Prohibition, survive to this day and continue to insist that Prohibition was a success and advocate for dry laws

Prohibition-era state laws, many of which are still on the books today, created government-protected monopolies for alcohol distributors. These laws have survived for three-quarters of a century because of powerful, rent-seeking interest groups, despite the fact that they significantly raise costs and limit consumer options. And because of these distribution laws, it is illegal for millions of Americans to have wine shipped directly to their door.

To learn more about the history and legacy of Prohibition, check out my podcast and watch the live webcast of Cato’s policy forum, “Free to Booze: the 75th Anniversary of the Repeal of Prohibition,” starting at 3:30 today.

November 28, 2008

Will the bailout steal Xmas?

Filed under: Business, Politics — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 11:14 pm

Maybe in a grinchlike fashion.

Here’s one opinion from Cato-at-Liberty:

What do people do when they’re scared about the state of the economy? They stop spending. With each new government “investment” announced by our new overlord Hank Paulson, Americans are going to clutch ever more fiercely at their wallets. They will eat out even less than they’ve been doing. They will rediscover the true spirit of Christmas and give each other hugs instead of Blue-Ray disc players. They will forgo that new coat or pair of winter boots. And they will bring the U.S. economy to a halt.

I do have to say this is a little more chicken-little than I prefer, even though I’ve been pretty gloomy about all this corporate socialism myself. The point is well-taken. The media deserves some blame on the coverage, bloggers (including me) deserve a little blame for continuing to harp on the subject, but at the same time some very wise money managers I know have basically all taken their winter nuts and buried them deeply underground for the duration.

To expect anyone else to do otherwise is not fair and more than a bit foolish.

August 12, 2008

Georgia and Russia

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:01 pm

I’ve avoided blogging on the subject to now, but I’ve found a very pragmatic and sensible list on this issue at Cato-at-Liberty.

Here’s a solid center-right/libertarian take on the issue by Ben Friedman.

From the link:

  • That neocons like Kristol are attacking the Bush’s administration’s reaction to this crisis shows how far the administration has evolved towards pragmatism. John McCain, on the other hand, continues to reveal a preference for military confrontation over safety.
  • July 11, 2008

    Once again, our aviation policies keeping the US safe …

    Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:45 pm

    … from freed Columbian hostages.

    Jim Harper at Cato@Liberty points out the problems getting back into to the US for Keith Stansell, a hostage who was recently rescued from Columbia.

    From the link:

    And to Governor Crist of the great state of Florida, sir, I don’t have a driver’s license. How am I going to get home?

    Without a government-issued ID to show at the airport, it appears that Stansell will have to undergo a deep background check, which may include his political party. (Having been “off the grid” the last three years, he may not have much background to check.) The Department of Homeland Security welcomes you home, Mr. Stansell.

    June 25, 2008

    IDs, airports and “security”

    Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 11:47 am

    Jim Harper at Cato-at-Liberty has a great post pointing out the essential truth behind the policy preventing anyone from flying unless an ID is presented.

    The first graf:

    We’re now learning the meaning of a new policy that Americans can’t “willfully” refuse to show ID at airports. The Consumerist has a write-upof one man’s experience with IDless travel. It turns out they do a background check on you using, among other things, your political affiliation.

    He goes on to point out the TSA’s “system” is easily subverted by anyone with no history of breaking the law. It does provide a burden on the overwhelming majority of travelers who just want to get from point A to point B. Oh, and it has another effect as well. This time on the civil liberties and right to privacy of the traveler. Two US Constitution granted ideals held near and dear by most Americans.

    Harper’s conclusion:

    Identity checks at airports require law-abiding American citizens to give up their privacy, including their political affiliations, with essentially no security benefit.

    June 11, 2008

    More on libertarian seasteading

    Filed under: et.al., Politics, Science — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 10:35 pm

    I’ve blogged about this subject before, and here’s a take from Cato-at-Liberty by Timothy B. Lee on libertarian seasteading. I think the concept of post-, extra-national libertarian communities is very interesting. My above linked blog post covers Peter Thiels’ investment in the Seasteading Institute. Looks like Tim also thinks this monetary input is a strong factor in this idea’s potential for success.

    From the second link:

    Over at Ars Technica, I have an in-depth discussion of seasteading, an effort by a group of Silicon Valley libertarians to develop technology for living on the open oceans in a cost-effective manner. They argue that government is an industry with excessive barriers to entry, and they aim to change that by creating a turnkey solution for starting your own community.

    History is littered with utopian projects, libertarian and otherwise, that fell far short of their lofty goals. At first glance, the Seasteading Institute looks like just another utopian scheme. But there are at least two reasons to think this one might accomplish more than its predecessors. First, recognizing that it would take many decades to develop a self-sufficient ocean metropolis, Friedman and his partners have chosen to focus largely on short-term engineering challenges. They want to build cheap, durable sea platforms that anyone can purchase. Second, they’ve raised half a million dollars from Peter Thiel, the libertarian entrepreneur who co-founded PayPal and is now a major investor in Facebook. Thiel’s backing will allow them to move beyond the extensive background work they’ve already done and begin the expensive task of actually designing and building their first prototype, which they hope to splash down in San Francisco Bay in the next few years.

    March 8, 2008

    A milestone for expanding the nanny state

    Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:40 am

    Here’s a complete post by Ben Friedman from the Cato Institute’s blog, Cato@Liberty:

    Happy Birthday, Homeland Security!
    I doubt that anyone outside Joe Lieberman’s office is happy with the performance of the Department of Homeland Security, which observed its five-year anniversary this week. To mark the occasion, CQ Homeland Security (part of Congressional Quarterly) asked me and a bunch of more important people to comment on whether creating the department was wise.The competition for most negative response turned out to be fierce (even Michael Chertoff sounds ambivalent) but I think my entry is a contender. Here’s the first part of what I wrote:

    Congress made a large but typical mistake with the creation of the Department of Homeland Security five years ago. James Q. Wilson wrote in 1995 that government reorganizations are usually driven by a perception of crisis that produces a political need to do something quick and extensive. He notes that these circumstances make thoughtful planning for the change unlikely. Reorganizations, he says, are usually victims of a facile urge to clarify lines of authority and end duplication without understanding the incentives of the organizations involved. Congress and the Bush administration followed this model in creating DHS.

    The collection of comments is here.