Rove On Way Out?

First there was the GOP Congress. Then Rumsfeld. Rove might be the next to go according to this report in The White House Bulletin:

The rumors that chief White House political architect Karl Rove will leave sometime next year are being bolstered with new insider reports that his partisan style is a hurdle to President Bush’s new push for bipartisanship. “Karl represents the old style and he’s got to go if the Democrats are going to believe Bush’s talk of getting along,” said a key Bush advisor.

Other elements are also at play: The election yesterday of Sen. Trent Lott to the number two GOP leadership position in the Senate is also a threat to the White House and Rove, who worked against him when he battled to save his majority leader’s job after his insensitive remarks about Sen. Strom Thurmond.

And insiders report that Bush counsel Harriet Miers isn’t a fan, believing that Rove didn’t do enough to help her failed Supreme Court nomination among conservatives. In fact, one top West Wing advisor said that the unexpected ouster of Rove aide Susan Ralston over ethics questions was orchestrated by Miers as a signal to Rove to leave. The advisor said that Rove is aware of the situation and that a departure might come in “weeks, not months.” A Rove ally, however, noted that he has a record of out-witting his critics.

(Hat tip to Think Progress).

Milton Friedman: A Man Who Hated Government

This has been a week in which the world lost two giants, even if their fields were so different–Milton Friedman and Bo Schembechler. As I continue to honor these two legends here, tonight I am featuring a portion of an article by Brad DeLong from Salon:

His worldview began with a bedrock belief in people and their ability to make judgments for themselves, and thus an imperative to maximize individual freedom. On top of that was layered a trust in free markets as almost always the best and most magical way of coordinating every conceivable task. On top of that was layered a powerful conviction that a look at the empirical facts — a comparison, or a “marking to market,” of one’s beliefs with reality — would generate the right conclusions. And crowning that was a fear and suspicion of government as an easily captured tool for the enrichment of cynical and selfish interests. Suffusing all was a faith in the power of argument and the primacy of reason. Friedman was an optimist. He was convinced people could be taught the truths of economics, and if people were properly taught, then institutions could be built to protect society as a whole against the corruption and overreach of the government.

And he did fear the government. He was a conservative of the old, libertarian school, from the days before the scolds had captured the levers of power in the conservative movement. He hated any government intrusion into people’s private business. And he interpreted “people’s private business” extremely widely. He detested the war on drugs, which he saw as a cruel and destructive breeder of crime and violence. He scorned government licensing of professionals — especially doctors, who heard over and over again about how their incomes were boosted by restrictions on the number of doctors that made Americans sicker. He abhorred deficit spending — again, he was a conservative from another era. He feared that cynical politicians could pretend that the costs of government were less than they were by pushing the raising of taxes to pay for spending off into the future. He sought to inoculate citizens against such political games of three-card monte. “Remember,” he would say, “to spend is to tax.”

This did not mean that government had no role to play. He endorsed the enforcement of property rights, adjudication of contract disputes — the standard and powerful rule-of-law underpinnings of the market — plus a host of other government interventions when empirical circumstances made them appropriate. Sometime empirical circumstances could win Friedman some unexpected allies. Left-wing Mayor Ken Livingstone’s congestion tax on cars in central London is an idea straight out of Milton Friedman. Friedman’s negative income tax is one of the parents of what is now America’s largest anti-poverty program: the earned-income tax credit, which was greatly expanded by Bill Clinton. And, most important, government had a very powerful and necessary role to play in keeping the monetary system working smoothly through proper control of the money stock. If there was always sufficient liquidity in the economy — enough but not too much — then you could trust the market system to do its job. If not, you got the Great Depression, or hyperinflation…


Sci Fi Friday: May The Force Be With You

The Sci Fi Friday posts have previously dealt with religion in Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica. There have been many religions invented in science fiction literature from Starnger in a Strange Land to Discordians in the Illuminatus Trilogy which some have adopted. Some would even say that the entire Scientology cult stems from science fiction if L. Ron Hubbard if hadn’t tried to pass this off as a serious religion. It turns out that there is another religion which stems from science fiction which is enjoying success in the real world. The Jedi Knights are Britain’s fourth largest religion. The Daily Mail reports:

With their vast intergalactic knowledge and ability to harness the Force, the task of convincing UN officials to recognise their cause should be a walkover for a pair of Jedi Knights.

But self-proclaimed Jedis Umada and Yunyun, better known as John Wilkinson and Charlotte Law, have adopted a more conventional approach in their pursuit of recognition – delivering a protest letter.

The unconventional pair are calling for the UN to acknowlegde what has become Britain’s fourth largest ‘religion’ with 390,000 followers…

Umada and Yunyun said: ‘For the last ten years the United Nations has marked the International Day of Tolerance. While we support this important work, we feel the UN needs to move with the times.

‘Like the UN, the Jedi Knights are peacekeepers and we feel we have the basic right to express our religion through wearing our robes, and to be recognised by the national and international community.

‘We therefore are calling upon the United Nations Association to change November 16 to the UN Interstellar Day of Tolerance, to reflect the religious make-up of our twenty-first century civilisation.

‘Tolerance is about respecting difference where ever it lies, including other galaxies. Please don’t exclude us from your important work. May the Force be with you.’

In the 2001 UK Census 390,000 people listed their religion as Jedi Knight making it the fourth biggest belief in the country.

There are also an estimated 70,000 Jedi knights in Australia, 53,000 in New Zealand and 20,000 in Canada.

If they aren’t successful with the United Nations, there’s always the Federation Council and Star Fleet Command.

May the Force Be With You. Live Long and Prosper. Hail Eris! All Hail Discordia!

Bo Schembechler Dies at 77


The excitement of this week as number two ranked Michigan is preparing to face arch rival and top ranked Ohio State has turned into a day of sadness as legendary Michigan coach Bo Schembechler collapsed and died today during the taping of his television show.

Schembechler became head football coach at the University of Michigan in 1969. That year he faced Ohio State when they were also ranked number one and billed as the team of the century. Bo upset his old mentor Woody Hayes 24-12, ushering in the greatest era of the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry.

Schembechler had his first heart attack on the eve of the 1970 Rose Bowl, and another in 1987. Schembechler was also hospitalized in October of this year when he collapsed during the taping of his show.

Schembechler had a 194-48-5 record at Michigan from 1969-89. His lifetime record was 234-64-8.

The New Republic Deeply Regrets Its Early Support For This War

The New Republic admits they were wrong for supporting the war in an editorial ending with:

At this point, it seems almost beside the point to say this: The New Republic deeply regrets its early support for this war. The past three years have complicated our idealism and reminded us of the limits of American power and our own wisdom. But, as we pore over the lessons of this misadventure, we do not conclude that our past misjudgments warrant a rush into the cold arms of “realism.” Realism, yes; but not “realism.” American power may not be capable of transforming ancient cultures or deep hatreds, but that fact does not absolve us of the duty to conduct a foreign policy that takes its moral obligations seriously. As we attempt to undo the damage from a war that we never should have started, our moral obligations will not vanish, and neither will our strategic needs.

Rob Lowe Returns to Television Politics

Rob Lowe, whose character Sam Seaborn worked behind the scenes, now gets a chance to play the candidate himself (beyond his brief run for Congress before leaving The West Wing.) Lowe is joining the cast of Brothers and Sisters “as Sen. Robert McCallister, a California Republican with one eye focused on the White House and the other on Kitty Walker (Calista Flockhart).” Coincidentally, Bobby McCallister was also the name of the boy fated to become Republican President in 2041 on the 2004 WB show Jack & Bobby.

Contemporary politics was significant in Sunday’s episode of Brothers and Sisters as one of Kitty Walker’s brothers received a notice that he was to be sent back to Iraq. The episode included flash backs to September 11, 2001 to show why he initially enlisted.

Milton Friedman’s Letter to Bill Bennett

Thursday I noted the sad news of the death of Milton Friedman. The best way to honor him would be to remember his works. While Friedman, recipient of the 1976 Nobel Prize for Economic Science, is best known for his works in economics, here is one example of how he was not a typical conservative Republican as he fought for liberty without compromise:

An Open Letter to Bill Bennett
Milton Friedman, April 1990

In Oliver Cromwell’s eloquent words, “I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken” about the course you and President Bush urge us to adopt to fight drugs. The path you propose of more police, more jails, use of the military in foreign countries, harsh penalties for drug users, and a whole panoply of repressive measures can only make a bad situation worse. The drug war cannot be won by those tactics without undermining the human liberty and individual freedom that you and I cherish.

You are not mistaken in believing that drugs are a scourge that is devastating our society. You are not mistaken in believing that drugs are tearing asunder our social fabric, ruining the lives of many young people, and imposing heavy costs on some of the most disadvantaged among us. You are not mistaken in believing that the majority of the public share your concerns. In short, you are not mistaken in the end you seek to achieve.

Your mistake is failing to recognize that the very measures you favor are a major source of the evils you deplore. Of course the problem is demand, but it is not only demand, it is demand that must operate through repressed and illegal channels. Illegality creates obscene profits that finance the murderous tactics of the drug lords; illegality leads to the corruption of law enforcement officials; illegality monopolizes the efforts of honest law forces so that they are starved for resources to fight the simpler crimes of robbery, theft and assault.

Drugs are a tragedy for addicts. But criminalizing their use converts that tragedy into a disaster for society, for users and non-users alike. Our experience with the prohibition of drugs is a replay of our experience with the prohibition of alcoholic beverages.

I append excerpts from a column that I wrote in 1972 on “Prohibition and Drugs.” The major problem then was heroin from Marseilles; today, it is cocaine from Latin America. Today, also, the problem is far more serious than it was 17 years ago: more addicts, more innocent victims; more drug pushers, more law enforcement officials; more money spent to enforce prohibition, more money spent to circumvent prohibition.

Had drugs been decriminalized 17 years ago, “crack” would never have been invented (it was invented because the high cost of illegal drugs made it profitable to provide a cheaper version) and there would today be far fewer addicts. The lives of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of innocent victims would have been saved, and not only in the U.S. The ghettos of our major cities would not be drug-and-crime-infested no-man’s lands. Fewer people would be in jails, and fewer jails would have been built. (more…)