The Roberts Nomination

I don’t have very much to say about John Roberts because, like everyone else, I don’t know very much about what kind of a justice he’ll be.

I’m tentatively optimistic because “Juan Non-Volokh” and Orin Kerr from the Volokh Conspiracy seem pleased with the nomination. On the other hand, I’m somewhat disturbed that he represented the states in their anti-Microsoft suit. I’d hope he wouldn’t have represented them if he thought they were engaging in an injustice, but I’m not sure what he thought or how he chose his clients.

What seems really odd, though, is that nobody seems to know what he thinks about major politically-charged legal issues; even people who really know him well. It’s as though he decided long ago that he wanted to be on the Supreme Court and avoided saying anything to anybody that might hurt his chances.

As Gene Healy expressed it:

Great grades, stellar resume, nice posture, nice smile, no doubt a firm handshake. But where he stands on anything is anyone’s guess. What we’ve got here is a guy who, apparently, was genetically engineered and grown in a vat for the sole purpose of getting past the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Nadagate

I like the way John Tierney’s recent OP-ED summarizes the current state of the Rove/Plame “scandal”:

For now, though, it looks as if this scandal is about a spy who was not endangered, a whistle-blower who did not blow the whistle and was not smeared, and a White House official who has not been fired for a felony that he did not commit. And so far the only victim is a reporter who did not write a story about it.

And you have to respect any column that references the “She’s a witch!” Monty Python and the Holy Grail scene.

I haven’t been following this as closely as some have, but it does seem to me to be a case of many people grasping for an excuse to punish the Bush administration in general, and Karl Rove in particular, for something-or-other.

UPDATE: I like Mark Steyn’s take on it too:

The Valerie Plame game is a pseudo-crisis. If you want to talk about Niger or CIA reform, fine. But if you seriously think the only important aspect of a politically motivated narcissist kook’s drive-thru intelligence mission to a critical part of the world is the precise sequence of events by which some White House guy came to mention the kook’s wife to some reporter, then you’ve departed the real world and you’re frolicking on the wilder shores of Planet Zongo.

Near Hit

I almost got into a traffic accident on the way to work yesterday.

It was raining, and I was almost there, and cars ahead of me came to a stop for some reason (not at the intersection). It took me a while to realize that the car in front me was completely stopped and I wouldn’t be able to stop in time if I tried to do it gradually, so I pressed harder on the brake and went into a skid.

I really really really didn’t want to hit the other car, but at that point it was out of my hands and up to physics. I was just a passenger. What probably took 1 second seemed much longer.

Fortunately, my car stopped just inches short of contact, and (fortunately as well) the car behind me was able to stop without hitting mine. No damage was done, except to my nerves. My heart was racing for a while.

I’m not sure why I’m blogging this, other than perhaps to remind people to maintain safe distances and speeds based on the conditions. I know I’m going to be more conscious of it for a while, at least, and perhaps others can benefit from my event, rather than have worse ones of their own.

Collective Wisdom

Terrorists have claimed to be trying to disrupt economic activity in the west, through fear. While there was quite a bit of disruption following the 9/11 attacks, and a short-lived disruption in London transportation following the 7/7 attacks, it seems that the collective wisdom of the markets is that the attacks are not going to do lasting damage and that the prospects of targeted countries are good.

Lawrence Kudlow notes all of this and concludes:

All these markets are showing a lot of confidence in the future. I have long believed that stock indexes reflect the health, wealth and security of individual nations. Despite the radical Islamist assault and its attempted fear tactics, rising equity bourses surely suggest that the U.S.-British allied coalition of the willing is slowly but surely making enormous gains to defeat the totalitarians and to spread democracy and freedom worldwide.

This seems right to me.

Market Cooperation

I somehow missed this last week, but Will Wilkinson wrote a great piece for the Cato Institute taking to task recent criticisms of Bush’s “ownership society” proposals.

Senator Barack Obama characterized letting people keep some more of their money as “Social Darwinism”, and Benjamin Barber argued that Bush “is trying to seduce us back into the state of nature, where the strong dominate the weak and anarchy ultimately dominates the strong and the weak, undermining security for both.”

Both of these men seem to think that community and cooperation consist entirely of government programs that coercively transfer funds from some people to others.

But, they forget (or don’t understand) that markets are highly cooperative, and genuine community exists largely outside of government programs. Here are some of Wilkinson’s words:

Seriously, Obama’s equation of the American ideals of ownership, independence, and autonomy with “Social Darwinism,” Barber’s charge that Social Security personal accounts are a ploy to reinstate Hobbesian chaos, these are signs of the sickness at the heart of contemporary liberalism: the inability or unwillingness to recognize the cooperative market order — our system of mutual benefit based on ownership and exchange — as the primary source of American prosperity, security, and solidarity.

WHAT IS OBAMA’S ALTERNATIVE to ownership? Taxing one citizen to pay another. Contemporary liberals have a bad habit of confusing social cohesion with the volume of government transfers, as if the coercive pattern of taking and giving was the measure of order and the test of our hearts. This is what leads Obama and Barber to so easily confuse ownership with anarchy, autonomy with chaos.

But here on Earth, where the United States is located, advanced market economies like ours function through immensely complex voluntary networks of interdependence and cooperation. To provide citizens with a bigger stake in the market through ownership is to integrate them more fully into a web of mutual support that is vastly more intricate and organic than the pattern of government transfers could ever be. People in societies like ours, who grow none of our own food, make none of our own clothes, and would not know how to build shelter if our lives depended on it, are truly “in this together.”

Modern market societies — ownership societies — are the paradigm of interdependent, mutually advantageous cooperation, and are as far as can be imagined from the society of atomistic predators Obama invokes to stir the disdain of the fresh-faced graduates of Knox. Market societies — ownership societies — are wealthy because they rely on and reinforce a high level of social trust and norms of cooperation.

Quite right.