Monday, November 27, 2006

Longer than WW II

This weekend the Iraq war passed a significant is now longer than the time that passed between Pearl Harbor and VE day....In addition MSNBC is calling it a civil war. The administration is saying it is not....hmmm....a weak central govt, uncontrollable factions who are extremely violent, a corrupt police force, loyalties to tribal and religious leaders over the stae....sounds like a civil war to me and a pretty bad one. I think its time to cut and run. This is no longer a US problem. Its out of control.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Milton Friedman - A great light is extinguished

Milton Friedman, probably one of the most towering intellectuals of the 20th century died this week at the age of 94. Friedman's laissez-faire policies of economics helped influence the Reagan and Thatcherian revolutions and significantly altered and dimisnishedthe role of the state in economic policy. His ideas were revolutionary and he bravely pushed them long before they were popular. I did not agree completely with his "market is the panacea to all of society's ills" approach but he was more often right rather than wrong.

He visited India in the mid to late 50's at the invitation of Prime Minister Jawharlal Nehru. He was the lone voice that advised Nehru to go with a less interventionist approach to economic policy. Nehru dismissed his ideas and India embarked upon the Soviet style planned economic approach. The results were terrible and resulted in India becoming a laggard amongst most Asian nations until the Manmohan Singh reforms in 1991 pulled it out of its economic tail spin. Who knows where India would be today if Friedman's ideas had been adopted in the 60s? I would think it could have been at least as big as Japan if not bigger.

Friedman's influence in the United States was huge. The New Deal and Great Society programs were direct results of the Keynesian school of economics (the great competitor to Friedman's Monetary School). Keynsians were largely ascendant till the late 70s when Friedman's ideas greatly reduced their prestige. In addition China from roughly 1977 started applying Friedman's ideas and that has greatly contributed to the current economic miracle.

As an Economics student in the early 90s I was fascinated by Friedman. I remembered watching him on a PBS documentary where he used a pencil as an example of how the invisible hand of the market guided and set prices that caused the pencil to come into being. Rubber from Malaysia, Aluminum from Chile, Lead from Africa and Balsa wood from South America all combined to make the pencil. None of the producers knew each other or had direct relationships. However the end result was a useful product sold at a competitive price free of government control. If each individual producer was satisfied then the end consumer was satisfied. It was a simplistic example but a powerful one.

I did not agree with his opinions on minimum wage. I have always believed the market to be efficient but not fair. As a liberal I believe government has some role in the economy and needs to address the inherent injustice that markets sometimes bring. Friedman would have disagreed vehemently with that sentiment.

He was a great man, a shining light and one of the truly great minds of the 20th century. He will be missed but his ideas never forgotten as long as there are individuals who seek liberty and a better life free of undue and unnecessary government influence.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Celebrating Macaca

Who would have thought that an Indian person would be so instrumental in helping the rebel Dems blow up the GOP death ship last week. Shekar Ramanuja Siddarth aka "Macaca" had the ignominy of being called a monkey and then being welcomed to his birth country by a man who until maybe 2 months ago was probably going to be the GOP Presidential nominee in 2008.

That little slip up has cost Sen. George Allen big time. He is now the former Senator from Virginia and with the loss of his seat the GOP has lost control of the Senate and thereby the United States Congress.
Read this article from the WaPo and draw your own conclusions about George Allen. At best he is an insensitive clod at worst he is an out of touch bigot.

Siddarth was born in the US, in Fairfax County, Nothern Virginia, a son of a wealthy South Indian immigrant family (his father is a mortgage banker). He is an honor student, a very good chess player and also reasonably athletic (at 6 ft 4 inches he played tight end on his high school football team). His great grandfather accompanied Mahatama Gandhi to the Round Table conference in England in the 1920s and his grandfather was the Indian head of the World Health Organization. In short, Siddarth is the epitome of a successful all American kid from a successful over achieving immigrant family.

Only a person like the ham handed Senator, a man who proudly displayed the Confederate flag in his office window and a noose in his Washington office (presumably to harken back to the days when good ol southern white boys like him lynched uppity blacks) could be so woefully ignorant and dismissive of such achievement; perhaps because it was cloaked in dark skin.

What did Sen Allen mean when he welcomed "macaca" to the "real Virginia" - Did he mean that the town of Bear, Va was more real than the rest of the country because it was 99% white and overwhelmingly Christian? We will never know. Like Trent Lotts endorsement of the Dixiecrats this GOP SNAFU has had overwhelming and lasting consequnces.

Ultimately the hypocrisy of Bush's brand of compassionate conservatism contributed to the downfall of the GOP in Congress. President Bush must know that the Bible says that "Your Sin will find you". The GOP's sins of treating Cindy Sheehan like a leper, making fun of a Parkinsons patient (Rush Limbaugh on Michael J Fox) and treating black people in New Orleans during Katrina like second class citizens has all conspired to find the GOP and send them packing.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Sometimes there is proof of a God...

Sometimes Christmas, your birthday and your favorite team winning the World Series can all happen on the same day....and today feels like that....The Dems won the House, the Senate and the Prince of Darkness, Donald H. Rumsfeld himself has resigned.......Im so giddy, Im high

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

A Time to Rejoice - Its Morning Again in America.

As the good book says "to every thing there is a season" and it finally seems like it is spring time for the Democrats and for this country. I am not sure how elated the greatest generation felt on VE day but I definitely feel something approaching that. Elation tinged with relief and joy. The darkness is finally dissipating and to quote a great Ronald Reagan line from 1980......"Its morning again in America".

The Dems with this victory have opened the windows and let in some much needed fresh air. The dank odor of a stupid, risky, expensive and badly executed war predicated on mis truths and half truths needs to be purged. Add to that the rampant hypocrisy and corruption that has been foisted up on us and you can understand the deep sense of anger behind this verdict. To put it simply the American people have had enough with this Administration and have had enough of being conned by the neo cons.

So much of Bush's legacy has been repudiated today. Sorry Mr. Bush but staying the course is no longer an option. You need to change your plan, admit your mistakes and move on. Thats what great Presidents like Abraham Lincoln and Harry Truman (men you supposedly admire) have done.

Despite the best efforts of the most partisan and mean spirited GOP (remember Tom Delay's redistricting efforts) the Democrats have prevailed. The Blue has washed some of the Red away and the only Red left is on the face of the President, his glowering Vice President, Karl Rove and Ken Mehlman. Full credit must go to Rep. Rahm Emmanuel (IL) and Sen Chuck Schumer (NY), the architects of this great victory.

The American people in their own way have restored the balance. It took a long time but it happened. The wisdom of the Founders when they designed this great country once again comes shining through. The American experiment and Constitution still prevails despite the best laid plans and assaults from mediocre Southern men.

While we savor this victory we should remain humble and moderate. Speaker Nancy Pelosi must choose carefully the chairmen of the committees and these chairmen should NOT over reach. This means no impeachment proceedings against Bush or Rumsfeld for within this Democratic victory could also lie the seeds of their destruction in two years shoudl they do so.

If we stay the course, if we do not recklessly ignite the culture wars (ie keep Kerry, Pelosi, Dean, Ted Kennedy and the Massachusetts Supreme Court out of the front pages) then perhaps in 2008 the true prize will once again be the Democrats