Toward a Conservative Foreign Policy of Non-Interventionism

During the presidency of George W. Bush, those of us who criticized U.S. foreign policy as overly hawkish tended to be considered “liberal,” a tendency neoconservatives had little reason to resist.  I personally found this very frustrating, for reasons that probably mystify some readers.  Does it really matter whether any given position is suitably “conservative”?  It does to a conservative, because conservatives are supposed to obsess about continuity with the past.  Conservatives are, by definition, strongly committed to the proposition that our received political traditions represent centuries of political wisdom which, at least in the ordinary case, should trump all but the most extraordinarily well-founded private judgments.  Read the rest of this entry »

A New Gold Standard?

This occurred to me last year, but I didn’t write anything about it because it’s the sort of thing about which I don’t know enough to have an intelligent opinion.  The question is this:  If people around the world buy and sell gold and quote its price in paper currency, how different is this from a de facto gold standard?  Now along comes Dr. Marc Faber and says,

“I think we already have now a gold standard . . . created by the market place.”

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Where Are We Going? And What Are We Doing in this Handbasket?

On the theory that a picture is worth a thousand words, I thought perhaps I could use my latest bumper sticker purchases to substitute for commentary I haven’t been writing. Here’s a pretty good summary:

Nothing-changed

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A Low-Key Response to a Terrible Problem: Real Property Law and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

The most recent upsurge of violence in Israel and Gaza has called to mind a book I read last summer, “The Lemon Tree: An Arab, a Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East,” by Sandy Tolan. It’s the chronicle of the unusual relationship between a Palestinian who as a boy had fled with his family from their home during the 1948 war concurrent with the creation of the state of Israel, and an Israeli woman who thereafter grew up in the house with her family after the newly-formed Israeli government assigned the property to them. I’m not a fan of lawyers stretching the law and the judicial process to address issues more appropriately dealt with through legislation or international relations, but this situation suggests a straightforward issue of an individual’s legal rights, and a straightforward remedy: why not sue to get your property back?

More about the book: It’s an account by an American reporter about a house in the town of Ramle a/k/a al-Ramla, Israel and the two families that had occupied it over the past several decades. Read the rest of this entry »

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Five Things About the Economy on Which We Should All Be Able to Agree

So, another day, another plunge in stock prices, another wave of aspiring moochers descending on Washington, and another God-knows-how-many billions set to be doled out under the Treasury’s “TARP” program.  (“TARP” is an acronym, of course, which stands for “Totally Arbitrary Rewards and Penalties.”  The goal of the program is to render unreliable the economic signals that have guided business activity for centuries, like interest rates, or profits or the lack thereof.  By replacing these traditional signals with totally arbitrary rewards and penalties, policy makers can simultaneously pretend to “rescue” one group after another while vastly expanding their power over the livelihoods of private citizens.)

Treasury Secretary Paulson, who in September told us that buying troubled assets from investment banks was the only way to avoid a total financial meltdown, now says that buying troubled assets was not the only way; in fact it wasn’t really a very good way after all so it’s time to try something different.  Read the rest of this entry »

Don’t Waste Your Vote! (Third Parties Turn the Tables)

Anyone who has ever considered voting for an independent or minor-party candidate has probably been vigorously admonished by his Republican or Democratic friends not to “waste” his or her vote.  Yesterday, the Libertarian ticket turned the tables by sending out an e-mail arguing, in effect, that a vote for John McCain would be wasteful in precisely the same sense.  The e-mail, which came from Bob Barr’s Campaign Manager Russ Verney (former Campaign Manager for Ross Perot), carried this subject heading:  “McCain is guaranteed to lose . . . so what does that mean for America?”  Here’s the rest of the e-mail: Read the rest of this entry »

The VP Debate, the Expectations Game, and Eight Questions for the Candidates

Everyone is playing the expectations game in advance of tomorrow night’s Biden-Palin debate.  Most of it is just self-serving blather, but Jed Lewison’s piece on the Huffington Post stood out to me as an exception because Lewison included video of Palin’s prior debates.  Anyone who is expecting a complete face-plant by Gov. Palin may be disappointed.  See for yourself.

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