House Republicans Drop the Ball

I understand the case for the bailout, I really do.  Tim Peach and Dave Fitzgerald have done a very good job explaining it here, and John Mauldin explains it in much greater detail (and argues that it’s not really a bailout at all because the taxpayers will profit) here.  (Note:  The Mauldin piece is free, but you need to give him an e-mail address before it shows up on your screen.)  Because of all the bad things that would happen to the economy as a whole in the absence of the bailout, it’s no surprise that a deal has been reached.  Apparently there is no official text yet, but the Washington Post has a pretty concise rundown of the major points, and the stories in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal seem to be in accord.  What caught my eye, though, was what the House Republicans managed to get in return for ending their holdout.  Read the rest of this entry »

The Latest from Ron Paul on the Bailout

I received this via e-mail a few minutes ago:

Dear Friends:

The financial meltdown the economists of the Austrian School predicted has arrived.

We are in this crisis because of an excess of artificially created credit at the hands of the Federal Reserve System. The solution being proposed? More artificial credit by the Federal Reserve. No liquidation of bad debt and malinvestment is to be allowed. By doing more of the same, we will only continue and intensify the distortions in our economy – all the capital misallocation, all the malinvestment – and prevent the market’s attempt to re-establish rational pricing of houses and other assets.

Last night the president addressed the nation about the financial crisis. There is no point in going through his remarks line by line, since I’d only be repeating what I’ve been saying over and over – not just for the past several days, but for years and even decades.

Still, at least a few observations are necessary. Read the rest of this entry »

Ron Paul, “The Revolution: A Manifesto”

Last winter, when I donated to Ron Paul’s presidential campaign, I made the mistake of buying a Ron Paul sweatshirt but no Ron Paul T-shirt. I do not remember whether that was simple inadvertence on my part or whether it reflected a conscious prediction that Dr. Paul would likely be irrelevant by the time it was too warm for the sweatshirt. Either way, it was a mistake, because Ron Paul’s role in the presidential election is today very much the same as it was back in January. He is a man who will not be president, but who will not stop asking some of the most important questions about the course our nation is on. It is perhaps no coincidence that he also provides the most philosophically coherent package of answers. Read the rest of this entry »

James Dobson, making Obama’s point

Dr. James Dobson’s attack on a two-year-old speech by Barack Obama seems to me to be a very good example of the way incivility in discourse can be self-defeating. Dobson took issue with an Obama speech on the role of faith in political life — certainly a topic well worth discussing, and one on which Obama and Dobson both have something to say. But Dobson’s tirade largely avoided the issues actually presented, and instead leveled charges that are difficult to reconcile either with each other or with what Obama actually said.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Charity Gap: What Does It Mean?

When it comes to translating political positions to moral ones, I’m as transparent as they come.  I have some qualms with the standard righty portfolio of views, but general I find plain vanilla lefties distasteful.  They almost always strike me either as straightforwardly selfish, hypocritical (views vs. actual life practices), or borderline “character deformed” to use Scott Peck’s terminology.  (The extremes on either side, by the way, are horrifying, and I’m not talking about “Minister” Farrakan or David Duke here.)

And since I’m lazy, I really want to take George Will’s article and conclude that the charity gap is clear evidence that, in general, righties are better people than lefties.  And the explanation that lefties believe it’s the job of government to be charitable, taking them off the hook, is hollow — the guy who takes the biggest pieces of pizza without hesitation is not exhonorated by explaining that he has to look after himself first because he can’t count on anyone else to do it.  That’s what being a selfish asshole is.

I’m the first to admit that as a huge fan of simplicity I often miss the subtleties, and what better place than Reasonableminds.org to go to for instruction on the complex nature of being a cheap bastard.

Have a read, and tell the crowd what your take is!

What’s a Catholic Voter to Do? (Part I)

A few weeks ago, a friend asked me, “When are you going to write something on the blog about how Catholics are supposed to vote?” We had a brief but thoughtful discussion about it, noting that the question is hard to answer because it is partly about objective morality and partly about practical considerations that depend on the options actually available. And when one looks at those “options actually available,” the question seems almost moot: Exactly which candidate are we supposed to vote for if we are not permitted to vote for anyone whose views are at odds with Catholic teaching? But it is a fascinating topic, and a well-crafted blog post about it might count as “views you can use.” For now, though, I’m still thinking.

In the meantime, another friend calls my attention to a recent piece by Douglas Kmiec, first published I-don’t-know-where and later posted on the Mirror of Justice blog by Michael Perry. It’s not a systematic analysis of the extent to which our votes should be influenced by our religious beliefs; it’s not even a systematic analysis of Catholic teaching on that score. Read the rest of this entry »

Bush on McCain

The Washington Post‘s online headline really grabbed my attention this time:

Bush: McCain a ‘Conservative’

My immediate, involuntary reaction was, “How would he know?”

To be fair to the President, there is currently no consensus on what conservatism is all about. I’ve tried to suggest a few important elements of authentic conservatism on this blog from time to time, including

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