The Bald Cajun Sings

While Hillary Clinton pretends that the race is not over, and even that West Virginia means something, one top Clintonista realizes it is over:

James Carville has been one of Hillary Clinton’s most energetic defenders, but on Monday he all but declared Barack Obama will become the Democratic nominee for president.

Speaking to students at Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina, Carville argued Clinton should stay in through the final nominating contest in early June, but said the Democratic tide appears to be moving in Obama’s direction.

“I still hear some dogs barking,” Carville said, according to The State newspaper. “I’m for Senator Clinton, but I think the great likelihood is that Obama will be the nominee.”

“As soon as I determine when that is, I’ll send him a check,” he added.

Clinton has reason to stick it out. She has burned so many bridges she might not have much beyond her Senate seat after this battle, and Bill’s legacy has been tarnished by her campaign even more than by the stain on the blue dress. She might as well hang on and hope for a miracle, or use her withdrawsl from the race as a bargaining chip. Carville, on the other hand, still has his day job. He wants to maintain some credibility as a pundit or Democratic strategist.

Carville also had some ideas as to a possible running mate for the presumptive nominee:

Asked about who might share a ticket with Obama, Carville floated Clinton’s name, as well as that of Clinton ally Gen. Wesley Clark. Carville also mentioned Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg as possible running mates, according the Greenville News.

It certainly makes sense to consider Clinton supporters such as Clark as Hillary might be too radioactive to be anywhere on a national ticket. After all, she’s been rejected by over half of the Democratic Party, and non-Democrats dislike her even more. However many Clinton supporters would remain acceptable. I don’t see Michael Bloomberg as running mate, but I could be wrong. I think its more likely he’d wind up in the cabinet if he’s interested.

Think Tanks, Clinton Spin, and the Minimum Wage

The previous post referred to one libertarian writer worth reading, David Friedman. Another worth reading is Megan McArdle. She certainly caught my attention as an honest thinker as opposed to ideologue with her comments on the Laffer Curve and the reaction from the right to criticism. Along a similar vein she writes this about think tanks:

You are not allowed to argue in favor of school choice if the only evidence you can come up with is two links from Cato. You are not allowed to argue against global warming if you are relying entirely on a report from CEI. You are not allowed to talk about the recording industry based only upon press releases from the Progress and Freedom Foundation. And you are definitely, definitely not allowed to talk to me about the minimum wage if the best evidence for your position comes from EPI. We can argue back and forth about whether think tanks buy scholars who agree with them, or pay scholars to agree with them; I’d argue for the former.

This certainly caught my attention considering the number of conservative and libertarian arguments I receive which are based entirely upon articles from Cato. I’m a tremendous supporter of the free market–far more than the Republicans who support corporate welfare and deficit spending. I also appreciate much of the work done by Cato. The problem is that libertarians and ideological conservatives have a view which they push and will ignore or deny any evidence which does not fit into their ideology, as Megan noted when a conservative publication once refused to publish a book review which criticized the Laffer Curve as “it violated their editorial line on taxation.” As essential the free market is to our prosperity, it does not always work perfectly.

An even worse variation of citing biased sources comes from supporters of a candidate who endlessly send the same talking points. I’ve probably heard every claim made at Hillary Clinton’s Orwellian named “Fact Hub.” No amount of links from there will disprove what we’ve all witnessed. The Clintons have resorted to race-baiting and have run a Rove-style dishonest campaign regardless of what the Clinton supporters link to. I’m no more impressed by their sets of links claiming that Obama is running a negative campaign. Often they are isolated comments from a supporter and not part of an overall trend as we’ve seen with the Clinton campaign. More often they are examples of Obama criticizing Clinton over policy differences, such as her support for the war or mandates in her health care plan. This is fair game, and is not at all comparable to the type of dishonest tactic from the Clinton campaign which I’ve discussed many times, and which Lawrence Lessig describes here.

The principle of considering the bias of ones sources applies to political campaigns and often to think tanks. While I used this for a mini-rant on the nonsense being spread by the Clinton supporters, Megan used this to lead into comments on the minimum wage. Liberal readers might not agree with her views but, unlike partisans on both sides of the issue, I think Megan essentially gets it right when she concludes:

The main thing to remember about the minimum wage is that it is trivial. If the minimum wage actually made a substantial improvement in worker’s conditions at the expense of employers, it would also almost certainly cause substantial disemployment. But it doesn’t, so it won’t. Anyone who tells you anything different, on either side of the debate, is trying to sell you something.

David Friedman on Barack Obama

I’ve already had a number of posts on both the libertarian aspects of Barack Obama’s views and on libertarians who are supporting Obama. By libertarians here I don’t mean the Republicans who have adopted the libertarian label because it sounds cooler, and especially not the more fanatic and unhinged Paul supporters who haven’t a clue as to what libertarianism is really about. I mean libertarians who think and are aware of the great heritage of pro-freedom philosophers and writers who were libertarians before the label included everyone from supporters of social conservatism to even some supporters of the Iraq war.

With this criteria in mind, I should not have been at all surprised to see that David Friedman prefers Obama over both Hillary Clinton and John McCain. Besides, if anyone understands the significance of the influence of economists from the University of Chicago on Obama it would be the son of Milton Friedman. David wrote:

A number of commenters asked why I preferred Obama to McCain; nobody seemed surprised that I prefer Obama to Clinton.

McCain strikes me as a nationalist, likely to be comfortable with retaining and even expanding on the increases in executive authority claimed by Bush. He is also the one pro-war candidate. War, as observed long ago, is the health of the state. While there may be circumstances where all other alternatives are worse, I do not think this qualifies.

Perhaps I am too optimistic about Obama, but I do not think he is going to turn out to be an orthodox liberal. There is a group of intellectuals connected with the University of Chicago who have accepted a good deal of the Chicago school analysis but still want to think of themselves as leftists. They are, as I see it, trying to construct a new version of what “left” means. Examples would be Cass Sunstein and Austan Goolsby, both at Chicago, and Larry Lessig, who used to be there.

Sunstein describes himself as a libertarian paternalist, meaning that he wants to take advantage of elements of irrationality in individual decision making to nudge people into making what he considers the right decisions, while leaving them free not to if they so wish. Goolsby, judging by webbed pieces of his I’ve read, is a pro-market economist who happens to be a Democrat, rather like Alfred Kahn, who gave us airline dereguation under Carter. He is also Obama’s economic advisor. I do not agree with all his views—for details of one disagreement see an earlier post—but I like them better than the views usually supported by Democratic politicians and their advisors.

Obama himself, while obviously constrained by the fact that he is trying to get nominated, has occasionally let things slip that suggest a more libertarian view than typical of liberal senators. At one point he said something mildly favorable about school vouchers, retreating rapidly under pressure from the teachers’ unions, and similarly with marijuana decriminalization. His most visible disagreement with Clinton is over her plan to force everyone to buy health insurance. He appears uncomfortable with that degree of coercion, even though he is willing to use the less direct version—taxation to subsidize the insurance that he thinks people ought to have.

Bush was elected on a pro-market, small government, platform and proceeded to greatly expand the size of government—and not only in the form of military spending. His view of the legitimate power of the executive branch, including the authority to deliberately violate federal law, I find frightening. Perhaps, if we are lucky, Obama will turn out to be the anti-Bush.

Does Hillary Realize “He” Will Be The Next President?

First there was the question of whether John Edwards had said he voted for him. Some took that as a slip meaning that an endorsement for Obama was inevitable. Now has Hillary Clinton made a slip suggesting that she realizes she has lost:

Speaking to voters in the Appalachian state, she said: “All the kitchen table issues that everybody talks to me about are ones that the next president can actually do something about, if he actually cares about it.” Realising her faux pas, she added: “More likely if she cares about it!”