Liberty & Power: Group Blog
The most ridiculous quote in the piece is from David Murray, a policy analyst with the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. Quoting directly from the piece:
But Murray said it is up to the Food and Drug Administration to decide when a drug has"accepted" medical use. To leave that up to doctors and patients, he said, is like"leaving it to fans in the Redskins' end zone to call a touchdown, instead of the referees."
God forbid if doctors and patients starting making their own choices - he'd be out of work. But his comparison is pretty much on target because Americans probably love one group of people less than football officials, mindless bureaucrats.
Chris Matthew Sciabarra
I have to agree with William Safire in his NY Times essay today,"Kerry, Newest Neocon" (and, by implication, with Jason Pappas as well). Safire tells us that Kerry's statements during last week's foreign policy debate with President Bush were the essence of"hawkish" neoconservatism. This isn't just about wiping out"terrorist strongholds" in Falluja, or changing"the dynamics on the ground," or endorsing the concept of preemptive strikes against perceived threats. It's about"embracing Wilsonian idealism," which would enable Commander-in-Chief Kerry to spread"humanitarian" wars of"liberation" from the Middle East to Africa."His abandoned antiwar supporters celebrate the Kerry personality makeover," writes Safire."They shut their eyes to Kerry's hard-line, right-wing, unilateral, pre-election policy epiphany."
Alas, it is sometimes the case that people long identified with certain political propensities will embrace their opposite upon achieving political power. It has long been said that only a life-long anticommunist like Richard Nixon could travel to Russia and China. If Kerry bests my six-month old prediction of a Bush re-election, I think we should all be prepared for a similar transformation in the new JFK. Whatever Kerry's most recent criticisms of Bush's Iraqi adventure (criticisms with which I am in large agreement), I stand by my observations in that article:
A President Kerry would further institutionalize the Iraq War. He might be positively Nixonian in his approach: Before Nixon committed to the"Vietnamization" of the war in southeast Asia, to troop reductions and the elimination of conscription, his quest for"Peace with Honor" actually entailed a widening of the war. Likewise, Kerry himself might actually increase the number of troops in Iraq. He will do everything in his power not to go down as the President who"lost Iraq."
In the end, I don't see any fundamental change in the direction of American foreign, or domestic, policy.
Check out the refurbished"Not a Blog."
Aeon J. Skoble
Roderick T. Long
In South Korea, protestors are taking to the streets and clashing with cops. (See here and here.) What's the reason for all this anti-state activity? The protestors want to stop the government from repealing a law banning ... anti-state activity. (Y'see, the protestors were engaging in right-wing anti-state activity in order to force the government to keep prohibiting left-wing anti-state activity, so it all makes sense. Sort of. Oh yeah, and apparently left-wing anti-state activity includes propaganda on behalf of South Korea's friendly totalitarian neighbour North Korea. Which surely strains the concept of"anti-state," but whatever.)
Meanwhile, in a saner universe: Congratulations to SpaceShipOne for completing two private space flights in succession, thereby winning the X Prize and, more importantly, laying the groundwork (spacework?) for a future of peaceful commerce, rational minds, and venturing spirits. (Check out this delightful parable on the insanity of governmental space research.) Earth is going to be a much nicer place to live once it has to face actual competition.
Roderick T. Long
I'm pleased to announce that I've received permission from Reason magazine to post Roy Childs' classic 1971 essay Big Business and the Rise of American Statism on the Molinari Institute website. This is, to the best of my knowledge, the first time this excellent specimen of radical libertarian social analysis has been made available online. Drawing on Austro-Randian methodology and New Left historiography, Childs develops a libertarian interpretation of the Progressive Era, showing that government regulations supposedly designed to curb the power of the big corporations were actually introduced at the instigation and for the benefit of those corporations. I find this essay quite useful for libertarian outreach to the left (as well as for left-libertarian outreach to recovering-Republican libertarians). Read it here.
Charles Lewis' Center for Public Integrity continues to expose the billions of fraud, as detailed in a recent report: http://www.publicintegrity.org
Since 1998, 40% of the Pentagon's contracts have been awarded without bidding, over $362 billion, with only one contractor in the top ten winning more than half its dollars in competitive bidding.
Halliburton and Boeing remain under investigation in this regard, but does anyone seriously believe that someone in Government or within any of these Corporations will see as much by way of fines or jail time as has Martha Stewart?
She was, of course a"Scape Goat for Empire," to borrow the title of the book on which the Australian movie of several decades ago,"Breaker Morant," was based.
Today's New York Times reports that the Army is already planning to lower standards in order to try to fill its existing quotas of 20-30,000 troops, in the face of complaints from soldiers about pressure being used to try to keep them in the armed forces: http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/01/politics/01recruit.html?hp
For those who are curious about an evaluation of the debate from a less partisan source, the German Spiegel Online (article in Englsh) offers a fair overview. It is interesting that Spiegel zeroes in on how uncomfortable, angry etc. Bush appeared on occasion. The broadcaster clearly decided to scrap the pre-negotiated"rule" that the camera would focus on the party who was speaking and never go to the other party to register his response to what was being said. Bush lost *a lot* of points due to his peevish reactions, including an audible sigh of exasperation which was reminiscent of Gore's collossal mistake in that first 2000 debate during which he reacted with visible/audible disbelief at some of Bush's statements. It will be interesting to see if the camera work in the second debate goes according to the negotiated agreement. I'm sure the Bushies are furious and will be throwing temper tantrums aimed at the media...but they will do it behind the scenes, of course, because they will not publicly admit that Bush looks bad when he is caught being candid.
It is interesting to speculate on the role bloggers will play in the after debate spin. An email from the Democratic National Committee declared,"We all know what happened in 2000. Al Gore won the first debate on the issues, but Republicans stole the post-debate spin. We are not going to let that happen again, and you [bloggers] will play a big role." Meanwhile the Bushies set up"a network of Web sites to carry instant analysis of tonight's debate. The 'Debate Feed' will provide the GOP spin in real time to as many as 5,000 conservative Web outlets, according to Wired News." The stated goal:"Our rapid response effort is based on the premise that no attack or no misstatement will go unchallenged," Meanwhile an offshoot of the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg Public Policy Center has provided Fact Checker that critiques the accuracy of both debaters. For a sample of bloggers' responses, click here.
For more commentary, please see McBlog.
Aeon J. Skoble
But I watched the debate. And Kerry not only won on points, he won the personality contest. Bush started out shockingly coherent. But as Kerry began to score in the later rounds, the president grew increasingly indignant and petulant, and it showed in his body language: slumping over the podium, and grimacing at his opponent in a West-Texas version of Al Gore's eyerolling. When called upon to defend his record and his war, he looked as resentful as a guy getting written up for a parking ticket, and deciding whether it was worth the risk to get into it with the cop.
But there's one small problem here - we've seen this from Bush before. We've seen the short, direct answers. We've heard the folksy tales about praying with people and rolled our eyes. We've heard him call people"Vladimir" with a kind of personal twang that drives folks of an intellectual bent nuts. We grab our hair and yell and want him to see how complicated the world really is. After all we've backpacked through it smoking grass and getting to really know people in our self-righteous elite way.
But when faced with the cold light of day I believe that a lot of people who live in small towns, go to church (because they want to), have"real" jobs, and shop at Walmart (not Pottery Barn, my God what a bad choice of stores by Kerry) like the fact that Bush bugs all of us know-it-alls. I think they like the way he boils things down for people. And I think they trust him for reasons of faith that a lot of us pompously try not to understand.
Everytime we've seen this performance that drives intellectuals nuts he's won. He beat Ann Richards with it, and he beat Al Gore with it. He crushed the Democrats in '02 on security, certainty, and simplicity. And last night he hammered Kerry, again and again, on the same lines of consistency and flip-flopping. In my mind, Kerry never effectively answered why he did what he did. If you're willing to listen long enough, and think about the world as gray, you might buy Kerry's response. But for most folks, the world doesn't work that way. Bush is no Clinton, but he's a bulldog when it comes to staying on message. I'll be bold (or stupid) enough to say it - I think Bush won last night with the folks that mattered most, and that group doesn't include people like me.
On substance, I flunk them both. Bush was pitiful at defending his record in Iraq. He could hardly attempt it with a straight face. All he could say is that it's hard work and good people are working hard. Yawn.
All Kerry really promised is that he would try to arrange it so that foreign kids were shot and blown up so that fewer American kids would have to suffer. Now there's a policy I can get enthusiastic about. Didn't he promise to send more troops to Iraq?
I don't know what difference it will make in the end, but Kerry did what he had to do.