The Audacity of Political Calculation, Part III

And also, free trade.

From CNN Fortune:

“Sometimes during campaigns the rhetoric gets overheated and amplified,” he conceded, after I reminded him that he had called NAFTA “devastating” and “a big mistake,” despite nonpartisan studies concluding that the trade zone has had a mild, positive effect on the U.S. economy.

Props to Eddie of Hidden Unities, who first warned me that I shouldn’t listen to Obama’s words, but rather expect him to do what he needed to do to win.

I get less worried about Barack “Bush III” Obama by the minute!

The Audacity of Political Calculation, Part II

For all those who support a strong executive when it comes to national defense, Obama’s flip-flop in support of Bush’s FISA bill is good news. As “Bush IIII” begins embracing the issues that made us support “Bush II,” many of our fears of an Obama presidency as anything more than a return of the left-of-center Clinton Establishment are being calmed:

The Weekly Standard
Over the weekend, bloggers were buzzing about yet another flip flop from Barack Obama: He now will support the House FISA compromise bill, even though he didn’t back in February.

Obama said he will support the FISA compromise, which Politico’s Ben Smith explains “offers retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies who helped the government listen in on American citizens–which Obama says he’ll fight to remove from the legislation–and expands legal wiretapping powers. Obama praises it for restoring a legal framework and judicial oversight to the process.” He claims that he will “try” to strip telecom immunity from the bill.

The Washington Post’s Paul Kane notes that “Obama sought to walk the fine political line between GOP accusations that he is weak on foreign policy–Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) called passing the legislation a ‘vital national security matter’–and alienating his base.” But bloggers on both sides of the aisle just think that Obama is a typical opportunist politician.

If this holds up, it makes FISA (essentially, allowing warrentless wiretaps) the second great betrayal by Obama of his liberal base in recent days, following up on his move to break the campaign finance system. What both FISA reform and abandoning his pledge to have a public-financed campaign have in common, of course, is that Obama faced a choice between his power and his vow, and chose his power.

If Obama is elected President, perhaps his “third Bush term” won’t be so bad after all!

The Rise and Decline of Great Powers

Tom Barnett and Jennifer Chou have a pair of great posts on the expanding influence of the great powers of the Core: the United States, the European Union, and China. While the posts and the articles they link to don’t address the reasons directly, an important one are the three factors of production: capital, land, and labor. While the US, the EU, and China are all well run economically, each has a special advantage: large-scale immigration increases the US pool of labor, the incorporation of new states increases the EU pool of land, and the continuing market reforms increases the Chinese pool of capital.

One formerly great power that doesn’t enjoy legitimate growth in these factors of production is Russia. While Russia has been trading land for cash for generations (losing influence in more and more countries in order to keep revenues up, most recently seen in Moscow’s squeezing of Belarus), she has been unable to create a productive economy. Even these days of high energy prices only further addict Russia to energy-export, a dead end for nearly every country that tries it.

The increase in land, in capital, and labor is vital for America to be not just a great power, but also a Super Power. Part of this is keeping a liberal economy. Part of this is comprehensive immigration reform which will increase the arrival of both high- and low- skilled labor. Part of this is adding new states.

A Few Brief Words on Michelle Obama

Would “Anti-science.  Anti-life.” be two words, or four?  Regardless, they fit Michelle Obama

Steve Sailer’s iSteve Blog: NYT tonguebath of Mrs. O.
She also altered the hospital’s research agenda. When the human papillomavirus vaccine, which can prevent cervical cancer, became available, researchers proposed approaching local school principals about enlisting black teenage girls as research subjects.

Mrs. Obama stopped that. The prospect of white doctors performing a trial with black teenage girls summoned the specter of the Tuskegee syphilis experiment of the mid-20th century, when white doctors let hundreds of black men go untreated to study the disease.

I was going to write “sickening” to conclude this post, but I realized Michele Obama’s behavior probably already has a death-toll.

Inbreeding becomes politically correct

While this blog suggests clearing the ghettos and using bio-chemistry to instill better behaviors, Noah Feldman seems to want to go in the opposite direction:

The Way We Live Now – The New Pariahs? – The Rise of Anti-Islamic Bias in Western Europe –
Even Britain, which has afforded Muslims a more welcoming environment, has had some worrying moments. A few years back, a Labor M.P. called for an end to “the tradition of first-cousin marriages” among Pakistanis and other South Asians in Britain. The basis for her suggestion was the claim that Pakistanis in Britain were more likely than the general population to suffer from recessive autosomal genetic disorders. Of course, so are Ashkenazi Jews, but you can hardly imagine an M.P. proposing to limit Jews’ marriage choices for this reason, especially given the historic Nazi allegation of Jewish genetic inferiority.

Matrimonial incest is a pretty good definition of the Gap. It’s also bad for the health of a people. Children of first-cousins are not as healthy as children in the general population. This is true, no matter how many times you cry “Nazi!”

An X-Prize for Battery Life?

This is a very cool idea from Senator John McCain:

My Way News – McCain offers $300 million for new auto battery
PHOENIX (AP) – Sen. John McCain hopes to solve the country’s energy crisis with cold hard cash.

The Republican presidential nominee-in-waiting thinks the government should offer a $300 million prize to the person who can develop an automobile battery that leapfrogs existing technology.

The prize would equate to $1 for every man, woman and child in the country.

In a speech being delivered Monday at Fresno State University in California, McCain is also proposing stiffer fines for automakers who skirt existing fuel-efficiency standards and incentives to increase use of domestic and foreign ethanol.

The $300 million bounty on a new feat echoes the Ansari X-Prize, a financial award given to the first successful commercial spaceflight. Indeed, McCain’s plan is similar to the official Automotive X-Prize, which would give a far smaller amount to the creator of an environmentally-friendly car. I don’t know whether the Ansari X-Prize’s success would translate into better car battery life, but it seems that the downside is small and the upside is great.

Still, an “X-Prize for Electric Cars” should be only part of a broader push to get us better technologies. Other approaches include granting permanent residency to foreigners to graduate with PhDs at U.S. R-1 research institutions, as well as abolishing affirmative action. (So far neither candidate has pledged to do these things.)