lukegilman.com : High on the Hog Blog
Purveyor of Idle Observation

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Please note: I'm no longer updating this particular blog, but keep it around for archival purposes. Visit me at the current blog at www.lukegilman.com

Video of Inaugural Addresses, Past and Present

President-Elect Barack Obama will be sworn in as President tomorrow. Here’s a breakdown of where to watch the inaugural festivities and address and past inaugural addresses.

Where to Watch the Inaugural Ceremonies Online


Past Inaugural Addresses

George W. Bush, 2005

George W. Bush, 2001

Bill Clinton, 1997

Bill Clinton, 1993

George H.W. Bush, 1989

Ronald Reagan, 1985

Ronald Reagan, 1981

Jimmy Carter, 1977

Gerald Ford

Lyndon B. Johnson, 1965

John F. Kennedy, 1961

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Cope: Ruminations on the New Year

My ruminations on the New Year lead to this take-off of the iconic Shepard Fairey image of Obama, which in turn inspired the image on the home page. This is not a statement on my part. If it is, I’m not sure what it’s saying.

It seems, I think, more cynical than intended. Cycles are inevitable and to be desired. While to some degree the current economic downturn was the result of stupidity, greed and unfounded optimism, I believe these things to be a symptom rather than a cause. We are entering a period of winnowing where the excesses of our exuberance are corrected, our outlook is sobered.

My fear is that the agenda of the new year will be driven by fear – that the same hyperbole that drove the inflation of our housing and investment markets will be employed to ‘correct’ the economic downturn, that drastic measures will be called for, that our excesses will now be ones of regulation and intervention and yes… bailouts. Many have spoken of the Obama presidency with ‘messianic’ overtones – they will be disappointed. I know of only one Messiah. I suspect President-elect Obama would readily admit that it’s not him.

By placing myself in the image I take responsibility for my future, not with any particular talent, but because only I can.

Cope

Cope [kohp]: to face and deal with responsibilities, problems, or difficulties, esp. successfully or in a calm or adequate manner.

My mantra for the new year: let us cope.

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Al Gore is on Twitter

No really, that Al Gore… on twitter. I find this vaguely unsettling.

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How I Lost the Election (or ‘The Cleverest Political Web 2.0 Play I’ve Ever Seen’)

I received a link to the following video from a friend of mine this morning. I thought it was pretty funny. It’s also the cleverest (or devious depending on your POV) use of internet technology I think I’ve ever seen in a campaign. Election-day canvassing meets the internet meets the Daily Show.

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McCain Thinks He Might Learn to Use the Internets

Wired caught this little gem in the New York Times’ interview with John McCain, McCain’s Conservative Model? Roosevelt (Theodore, That Is) -

He said, ruefully, that he had not mastered how to use the Internet and relied on his wife and aides like Mark Salter, a senior adviser, and Brooke Buchanan, his press secretary, to get him online to read newspapers (though he prefers reading those the old-fashioned way) and political Web sites and blogs.

“They go on for me,” he said. “I am learning to get online myself, and I will have that down fairly soon, getting on myself. I don’t expect to be a great communicator, I don’t expect to set up my own blog, but I am becoming computer literate to the point where I can get the information that I need.”

Asked which blogs he read, he said: “Brooke and Mark show me Drudge, obviously. Everybody watches, for better or for worse, Drudge. Sometimes I look at Politico. Sometimes RealPolitics.”

If we’re going to be talking experience this campaign, I would like to have a President who may be called to weigh in on some kind crazy net neutrality bill at least know how to ‘get online’ by himself.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

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Big Bad John, Cornyn That Is

Jumpin jehosaphats, Cornyn, don’t you have focus groups to kill things like this?

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Professor Richard Murray blogging at Prof13

Dr. Richard Murray, the University of Houston’s éminence grise of Texas politics, is blogging at Prof13, doing everything from taking readers questions to teasing out the trends from the voting data. It’s worth keeping an eye on through the campaign season.

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David Mamet – Why I am No Longer a Brain-Dead Liberal

If you live long enough you will see interesting things.

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Presidential Change-lings, the David Bowie mix

Ah…. internet will you never cease to entertain?

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Bryan Caplan Asks Why Anyone Should Bother to Vote

He goes a bit further, in fact, and wonders why you bother to vote, and hopes you won’t actually. Caplan is an economist at George Mason University and co-author of Marginal Revolution, by far my favorite economics blog. In his new book The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies (amazon), he makes himself a hamburger of our sacred cow, democracy. You are, dear reader, not smart enough to vote, and by “rocking” said vote, you harm not only yourself but your country. Please stop. Leave voting to the professionals; economists that is. As Louis Menand notes in a review in the New Yorker:

The average person, he says, has four biases about economics—four main areas in which he or she differs from the economic expert. The typical noneconomist does not understand or appreciate the way markets work (and thus favors regulation and is suspicious of the profit motive), dislikes foreigners (and thus tends to be protectionist), equates prosperity with employment rather than with production (and thus overvalues the preservation of existing jobs), and usually thinks that economic conditions are getting worse (and thus favors government intervention in the economy).

Louis Menand, New Yorker: Fractured Franchise. (Go buy Menand’s Metaphysical Club (amazon) while you’re at it)

The argument of his book, though, is that economists and political scientists have misunderstood the problem. They think that most voters are ignorant about political issues; Caplan thinks that most voters are wrong about the issues, which is a different matter, and that their wrong ideas lead to policies that make society as a whole worse off. We tend to assume that if the government enacts bad policies, it’s because the system isn’t working properly—and it isn’t working properly because voters are poorly informed, or they’re subject to demagoguery, or special interests thwart the public’s interest. Caplan thinks that these conditions are endemic to democracy. They are not distortions of the process; they are what you would expect to find in a system designed to serve the wishes of the people. “Democracy fails,” he says, “because it does what voters want.”

If you’re a bit shocked and appalled right now, well, that’s partly the point. Economics is the enfant terrible of academic thought and provocation is part of what a good economist does well. What goes mostly unanswered in Caplan’s analysis is what an irrational society is to do about this irrationality. In economics it’s customary to assume the rationality of our fellow man (despite ample evidence to the contrary) because the alternative is, well, not very useful. While I recognize that democracy’s flaws are nearly exactly what Caplan says they are, I’m not ready to write off democracy. I don’t think Caplan is either. Economic thought has made amazing leaps in permeating the public consciousness. I remain optimistic about the potential of society and the public debate to grow beyond the four economic biases Caplan points out. Economists have and will continue to have greater influence than we think. As Keynes noted, “Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist.”

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