Recent Posts From Jeremy Kolassa
And good lessons at that. No, seriously. Sweden—the country that is usually held up as an example on the left—actually shows that cutting spending is the way to go. From Investors’ Business Daily:
Sweden has a reputation as the prototypical cradle-to-grave socialist European nation, and the political left has long yearned for America to be more like the Scandinavian nation.
But it’s looking through a smudged window. With little notice, Sweden has changed.
The turnaround has been driven in no small part by the election of Fredrik Reinfeldt as prime minister in 2006. He took office in October of that year and by January of 2007, tax-cutting had begun. The Reinfeldt government also cut welfare spending — a form of austerity — and began to deregulate the economy.
That doesn’t sound like the Sweden that American Democrats hold up as the standard.
But as Finance Minister Anders Borg told the Spectator, the Reinfeldt government was simply continuing the last 20 years of reform.
Far from hurting Sweden’s economy, the changes have improved it. And they’ll likely help to protect it from the 0.3% economic decline now forecast for the euro zone in 2012.
That’s right—Sweden, of all places, is cutting spending and shrinking government, and has so far kept itself out of the economic downturn (or day I say disaster?) that has befallen Europe.
Or, Why Your Worries About Double-Dipping or A “Second” Recession Are Utterly Preposterous And Make You Seem Completely Out Of Touch With Reality
While doing some reading over the weekend, I came across this blog entry by Brad Plumer over at the Washington Post’s Wonkblog (the one headed by Ezra Klein) about the Bush tax cuts expiring and how that will affect the economy:
To put this in perspective, the Federal Reserve expects the economy to grow at a roughly 2.9 percent pace in 2013. If Congress does nothing at the end of this year, much of that growth could be wiped out, and there’s a strong possibility that the United States could lurch back into recession. (Granted, a lot could depend on how the Fed reacts in this situation.)
That bolding is my own emphasis. And it really irritates me.
I know that the National Bureau of Economic Research, the official decider of recessions and other economic forecasts, declared the Great Recession to be officially over in 2009. I know there is an official, academic definition of recession: two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth (otherwise known, in normal person English, as “GDP shrinking.”) I know this is what Brad is talking about when he says “lurch back into recession.”
You always hear about how the left is so tolerant, so open-minded, so embracing, so encouraging of individual people to be themselves and live their own lives.
The introduction of Senators Schumer and Casey’s new tax collection law—and some of the commentary on it—shows how much of that is just totally bupkiss.
As many of you are no doubt aware, Eduardo Saverin, co-founder of Facebook, gave up his US citizenship in 2011 and became a permanent resident of Singapore. Many believe this is because of his stake in the Facebook IPO—he could pay upwards of $100 million on that if he’s still a citizen due to capital gains taxes. (Although I’m pretty sure you still have to pay taxes for some odd number of years after you renounce your citizenship, though I may need to check that out.)
Doug Mataconis blogged about this last week over at Outside the Beltway, where he notes that it’s probably an unconstitutional law and is going nowhere. But it was in his comments that I found something much more illuminating: how the left truly sees this.
We immediately start off, right at the beginning, with this, from a guy named “Norm”:
This guy is a scumbag.
Well, isn’t that nice and compassionate and caring. Doug challenges him, to which Norm responds with:
He came to America and benefited from the safety and education and business opportunities that taxes help fund. Only now he doesn’t want to pay the taxes that fund those things he benefited from.
Ipso facto…scum bag.
I’m told there was a NATO summit in Chicago over the weekend (as well as a historic G8 summit at Camp David at about the same time.) I’m also told that there were a lot of protests which got violent.
The main reason that people seem to be protesting the NATO summit is that it’s somehow a tool of the 1% to continue to oppress the 99%. While I agree with the dislike of NATO, that’s a bad argument to be using. NATO is not economic; it is military and foreign policy oriented.
As much as it puts a bad taste in my mouth, though, I will agree with these anti-NATO types on one thing: at a minimum, the United States should not be in NATO; and at the far end, NATO itself should be dismantled.
The explicit reason for NATO’s existence was to combat the Soviets, after Stalin and his minions drew the Iron Curtain around Eastern Europe and began the Cold War. It’s right there in its name: the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. It’s original mission, as defined by its first General Secretary, was to “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.”
That was in 1949. It’s 2012 right now. The entire geopolitical structure has changed. There’s no need to keep the Germans down; there’s no Americans to keep in; and while Russia is still run by a bunch of jerks, they’re hardly the Communist country they used to be. Indeed, it is telling that the first action that NATO engaged in had nothing to do with its original purpose, and did not even take place in Europe, or the North Atlantic, but rather in Afghanistan.
Well, at least a part of it. From the Associated Press (via Newsday):
A judge on Wednesday struck down a portion of a law giving the government wide powers to regulate the detention, interrogation and prosecution of suspected terrorists, saying it left journalists, scholars and political activists facing the prospect of indefinite detention for exercising First Amendment rights.
U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest in Manhattan said in a written ruling that a single page of the law has a “chilling impact on First Amendment rights.” She cited testimony by journalists that they feared their association with certain individuals overseas could result in their arrest because a provision of the law subjects to indefinite detention anyone who “substantially” or “directly” provides “support” to forces such as al-Qaida or the Taliban. She said the wording was too vague and encouraged Congress to change it.
“An individual could run the risk of substantially supporting or directly supporting an associated force without even being aware that he or she was doing so,” the judge said.
She said the law also gave the government authority to move against individuals who engage in political speech with views that “may be extreme and unpopular as measured against views of an average individual.
“That, however, is precisely what the First Amendment protects,” Forrest wrote.
In the words of our forefathers, Hallelujah.
Visual media is a powerful way to spread a message. In the modern era of the Internet, we’ve learned this quite well—there are entire websites devoted to silly images that absorb you entirely. In the spirit of the 21st century, then, I want to offer some images that I feel sum up our modern age. Let me know if you agree, and add your own suggestions in the comments.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is your world in pictures. And this is why those of us out here who can see this decide to fight.
How can you not see the madness?
With the conservative sphere beginning to finally coalesce around Mitt Romney, like a soap opera that has just gone on way too long, the conservatives are now going into full defense mode of the Mitt and his hairdo. He may not be the best choice, but as far as they’re concerned, he’s the only choice.
Which leads to idiotic tweets like this:
If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. That means if you’re not for Mitt Romney, you’re for Barack Obama.
— Kevin Eder (@keder) May 7, 2012
At this point, not voting for Romney is like being in a plane w/ no working engines but not jumping bc you don’t trust parachutes. cc @keder
— Will Antonin (@Will_Antonin) May 12, 2012
Or maybe even this:
Hardcore libertarians should vote for Romney because he’ll at least give you something and Obama would take everything @kesgardner
— Adam D Seidel (@AdamDSeidel) May 13, 2012
No doubt these tweets are emerging because of fear that disgruntled Republicans may vote for Ron Paul or, heaven forbid, Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party, instead for the GOP’s presumptive nominee.
No, I’m not suggesting a name change for the blog. What I’m talking about is the concept called “ordered liberty,” which is frequently used by conservatives as an attempt to appeal to libertarians. “Why, yes,” they say, “We believe in liberty, but we think it should be ordered.” It came up during a debate at Cato last year between Cato interns and Heritage Foundation interns (unless my memory is horrifically mistaken) and I’ve seen it be deployed in arguments across social networks. It was recently used on one blog, regarding the Amendment One vote in North Carolina, noting that incestrous relationships and polygamy were “detrimental to ordered liberty.”
But what exactly is ordered liberty? I’ve never really figured out just what, if anything, people using the term are really trying to say.
The two people that the term appears to have come from are giants in the field of conservatism: Edmund Burke and Russell Kirk. These two are probably the intellectual giants of modern American conservatism*, along with William F. Buckley. It was they who came up with this phrase, which, for what I can deduce, is essentially that liberty is not allowed to run completely amok, and that there must be some limits.
Now in the political beliefs of what we call “Christian civilization” or “Western civilization”—of which American civilization is a part—there are three cardinal ideas: the idea of justice, the idea of order, and the idea of freedom. These three great concepts are the cement of American society.
Andrew Sullivan posted this fascinating memo over the weekend from a top Republican pollster to Republican party officials and candidates about same-sex marriage. In short, here are its conclusions:
Recommendation: A statement reflecting recent developments on this issue along the following lines:
“People who believe in equality under the law as a fundamental principle, as I do, will agree that this principle extends to gay and lesbian couples; gay and lesbian couples should not face discrimination and their relationship should be protected under the law. People who disagree on the fundamental nature of marriage can agree, at the same time, that gays and lesbians should receive essential rights and protections such as hospital visitation, adoption rights, and health and death benefits.”
That’s right, folks: the GOP should embrace same-sex marriage.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: the GOP needs to drop the social conservatism angle if it intends to survive as a viable party.
By all means, if it wants to become the Constitution Party, it may continue to demonize gays and lesbians and agitate against people who desire abortions. But the longer it does that, the less and less support it will get from the general public.
Gradually, Americans have realized that gays and lesbians are people too, and deserve to be treated equally under the law. While I still don’t like having the government stick its hand into marriages, as long as it does, homosexuals and bisexuals should receive equal treatment as heterosexuals do.
Much hash has been made lately of Gary Johnson taking the Libertarian Party nomination. He is probably the highest-profile candidate to run for the party in the past twenty years, thanks to his eight years of executive experience in New Mexico as a Republican, his hard-hitting libertarian principles, and the fact that, well, let’s face it: the guy is just cool.
I mean, scaling Mt. Everest? Vetoing over 750 bills? Saying weed, gay rights, and gun rights are all a-ok? That’s just not something that comes around every four years. And he’s also (relatively) young, which is always a plus. (Sorry, Ron.)
Naturally, though, a lot of people are exhibiting signs of a disease calling “Spoileritis.” A perfect example comes from a comment on Bob Barr’s Daily Caller column about Gary Johnson. Our erudite fan writes
A vote for this party is a vote for Obama. Period. Consider yourselves responsible for the destruction of this country for good!
Except there is zero evidence that this is the case.
Gary Johnson’s calls to slash 43% of military spending, end the Drug War, and most importantly, unabashedly legalize same-sex marriage, none of which are positions held by most Republicans. Instead, those positions are decidedly liberal, more on the side of Obama’s supporters. So when people go to the polls this November, it is likely that he will draw more supporters from Obama’s camp than Romney’s.
Chris Barron, chair of GOProud, the GOP’s gay and lesbian group, said the same thing in an interview with the Daily Caller’s Matt Lewis: