July 18, 2012 [LINK / comment]
Campaign 2012: getting nasty
President Obama made several campaign stops in Virginia over the weekend, marking a sharp escalation in the rhetorical war against Mitt Romney and the Republicans. Meanwhile, his TV ads have turned more aggressive and more negative, contradicting one of his main campaign themes. The ads have been blasting Romney over his leadership of Bain Capital and calling on Romney to release more of his tax returns. See the Washington Post. Why the switch by Obama from "hope and change"? Well, it's pretty obvious he doesn't have much if anything of accomplishment to boast, so he doesn't have much choice but to go negative. It's a shame.
Frankly, I don't understand why Romney doesn't release more of his financial records. If he acts like he has something to hide, he will let Obama take the initiative in defining the narrative of this campaign. People who make a profit while abiding by the laws should have nothing to be ashamed of.
Likewise, conservatives have been reacting sharply to a comment made by Obama, that businessmen are wrong to claim that "they did it on their own." It was a clear sign of disrespect for the private entrepreneurs (such as the Wright Brothers, Henry Ford, Steve Jobs, et al.) that made this country great and prosperous. In Obama's world view, which has been amply articulated by Massachusetts candidate for U.S. Senate Elizabeth Warrn, all economic progress stems from concerted government action, not from creative individuals. I have reservations about the often-exaggerated myth of "rugged individualism," but maybe they should read Atlas Shrugged.
Austrian economic policy
I response to recent critique (by David Frum and others) of Austrian economic theorists and their take on the Great Depression, Thomas Woods had a brief lecture on at libertyclassroom.com. My comment on Facebook:
No technical problems for me. As for the substance, the lecture was very helpful and informative. I remember from my undergrad days learning about Friedman's critique of Fed policy in the 1930s, and often wondered about that. There's no doubt that Von Mises had it right as far as accommodative monetary policy in the 1920s, but the proper policy prescription for getting out of the Depression remains in question. Perhaps, like now, there simply are no good answers back then to problems that were caused by years of economic folly. In many ways, I agree with David Frum's point of view, but economics is clearly not his strong point. I would also take issue with calling him a Neocon just because he wrote speeches for Dubya. He is a pragmatic moderate conservative, not a global-imperialist ideologue.
Jeb Bush on "RINOs"
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush commented last month that Ronald Reagan and his own father, George H. W. Bush, would have had a hard time getting nominated by today's Republican Party. Sad but true. The self-styled "conservatives" are obsessed with excluding anyone who doesn't share their exact point of view, calling the free-thinkers "RINOs." See buzzfeed.com, via Talking Points Memo, via conservativehq.com (Richard Viguerie).
Saxman on "RINOs"
In a similar vein, former Delegate Chris Saxman had a piece at augustafreepress.com, criticizing the epithet "RINO," which serves no purpose other than to divide the Party of Lincoln.