Forfatter: Redaktionen (side 1 af 5)

Liberale som gjorde en forskel i 2015

Det er efterhånden blevet en tradition her på Punditokraterne, at vi hvert år ved denne tid hædrer personer, som vi mener har gjort en særlig indsats for at fremme en borgerlig-liberal dagsorden i det forgangne år. I år skal selvfølgelig ikke være nogen overraskelse.

Denne gang har vi valgt at fremhæve 3 personer – og ja, den ene bidrager selv til løjerne her på Punditokraterne.

Otto Brøns-Petersen

otto

Otto Brøns-Petersen har siden han tiltrådte stillingen som analysechef hos Cepos, fået en fremtrædende rolle i den danske debat.

I det forgangne år var det da også Otto, som skrev vores mest læste indslag, nemlig “The Danish Model – Don’t try his at home”, som reaktion på at Danmark pludseligt blev en del af den amerikanske valgkamp. Posten er indtil nu blevet læst over 7.000 gange og cirkulerer i den amerikanske online-debat.

Alene eller sammen med Karl Iver Dahl-Madsen stod Otto også for en række væsentlige indlæg i den fortsatte energi- og klimadebat, hvor han på fornemmeste vis repræsenterede en pragmatisk og rationel tilgang til klimadagsorden. Hør f. eks. Otto i to debatter med videnschef Torben Chrintz fra Concito hos Cordua & Steno på Radio24syv den 5. marts og 17. december. Otto bidrog også i december på Cepos Vækstkonference til den politiske debat ved at vise – omhyggeligt dokumenteret – hvor store forskellene på omkostningerne ved at sænke udledningerne gennem forskellige typer afgifter og tiltag.
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fYnF6nnZIzg[/youtube]

Læg hertil en lang række artikler, analyser og kronikker i årets løb.

Henriette Kinnunen

henrietteEt af de første initiativer efter regeringsskiftet var en retssikkerhedspakke på skatteområdet. Æren tilfalder ikke mindst den utrættelige indsats af CEPOS’ chefjurist Henriette Kinnunen, der i årevis – både i medierne og bag kulisserne – har sat skarpt fokus på netop dette område. Og skatteministeren har annonceret, at der kommer en pakke mere i løbet af 2016.

Henrette Kinnunen overtog for godt et år siden jobbet som chefjurist efter ex-punditokraten Jacob Mahangama, som har stiftet tænketanken Justitia. Med en så massiv statsmagt som den danske er der god brug for liberale jurister til at kæmpe retssikkerheden og grundlæggende frihedsrettigheder. Der kan f.eks. vanskeligt opkræves så mange penge i skat, uden at retssikkerheden kommer under tryk. I 2015 besluttede regeringen således at “løse” en af talrige skandaler i SKAT – denne her den kaosramte inddrivelse – ved simpelt hen at forlænge forældelsesfristen, når staten er kreditor. Samme regering besluttede sig for at gennemføre hastelovgivning alene af praktiske hensyn til politikernes finanslovsforhandlinger, og i den forbindelse blev de sædvanlige frister for Folketingsbehandlingen tilsidesat. Heldigvis fik begge dele hård, berettiget kritik med på vejen fra chefjuristen, som demonstrerede, at fingrene ikke bliver lagt imellem, når retssikkerheden kompromitteres – uanset regeringens farve.”

Lars Christensen

lars-christensen-danske-71304241Lars Christensen har i flere år været den uden sammenligning mest indflydelsesrige danske blogger. Hans blog the Market Monetarist læses over det meste af verden.

Lars er i dag fast leverandør til hjemlige aviser som Børsen og Berlingske Tidende, bruges og citeres ofte i Financial Times, The Telegraph, Bloomberg, Reuters, Dow Jones Newswire med flere og er en højt skattet international rådgiver og foredragsholder.

Lars bl.a. kan ses udfolde sig her i et arrangement i midt-oktober på Columbia University om euro-krisen. Han er heller ikke bange for at udtale sig om kontroversielle emner, inklusive hvorfor Kina ikke bliver et af verdens rigeste land; hele hans liste over arrangementer i første kvartal 2016 kan ses her.

I den hjemlige andedam har Lars markeret sig med klare analyser af det græske problem, peget på helt fundamentale problemer med den euro, som de fleste danske politikere er gejle for at komme med i, understreget problemerne med at kalde BRIKS-gruppen for vækstøkonomier, og endda rykket ved den hellige gral i dansk udviklingspolitik: Bistanden. Det hele gøres på meget solidt, men også fornemt formidlet, analytisk grund.

Lars er også på rekordfart blevet en væsentlig stemme i den hjemlige debat om reformering af den førte narkotikapolitik. Et emne som faste læsere af denne blog ved ligger os meget på sinde.

Lars indsats efter han “sprang ud” som uafhængig international rådgiver er på alle måder imponerende og det bliver spændende fortsat at følge hans virke fremover.

Spørg hellere Brian og Basim: Gæsteindlæg af Peter Nedergaard

Punditokraterne har modtaget et gæsteindlæg, tidligere bragt i JP, som vi er glade for at kunne bringe her. Indlægget er skrevet af Peter Nedergaard, som vi i samme ombæring kan ønske tillykke med det nye professorat på Statskundskab ved Københavns Universitet.

af Peter Nedergaard, professor

Stadigt færre unge i Danmark tager en uddannelse, mens udviklingen i andre lande går den modsatte vej. I perioden 2000 til 2006 er andelen af unge, som får en ungdomsuddannelse, ifølge en ny undersøgelse af Arbejderbevægelsens Erhvervsråd faldet fra 83 til 80 pct. Med hensyn til de unge danskere, som tager en uddannelse i udlandet, er det også netop kommet frem, at kun halvdelen vender hjem for at bruge uddannelsen her i landet. I medierne har politikerne udtrykt undren over udviklingen, som i den grad underminerer de politiske ønsker om at gøre Danmark til et moderne, velstående videnssamfund. De kunne imidlertid have sparet sig deres undren, for de unges manglende brug af uddannelsessystemet i Danmark er egentlig ganske rationel. Spørg blot dem, som Arbejderbevægelsens Erhvervsråd udpeger til de største fravælgere af uddannelse: unge fra provinsen og de unge indvandrere. Lad os for forenklingens skyld kalde dem Brian og Basim.

Det betaler sig ikke
Brian og Basim kan da udmærket se, at uddannelse i Danmark ikke rigtig er noget, som betaler sig. Der er lavet mange akademiske analyser af, hvor stort et afkast uddannelser giver for den enkelte i de lande omkring os, som vi normalt sammenligner os med. De er ikke altid entydige, for det er et metodisk svært emne at håndtere.

Analyserne peger alligevel forholdsvis massivt i retning af, at det i Danmark medfører et mindre afkast at give sig i lag med en uddannelse, end det gør i de andre lande. Det hænger sammen med den ekstremt sammenpressede lønstruktur i Danmark, hvor den ikkeuddannede og højtuddannede ikke har særligt forskellige livslønninger.

Læg hertil, at skattesystemet i Danmark påligner en særlig høj marginalskat på stort set alle, som har taget en uddannelse med blot et vist vidensfyld. Topskatten er dermed en anden måde, hvorpå vi straffer dem, som tager en uddannelse, og skatten burde derfor snarere omdøbes til en fordummelsesskat, fordi den så forholdsvis målrettet går efter at give et incitament til et så lavt vidensniveau som muligt hos de danske indvånere.
Den slags kan Brian og Basim da sagtens gennemskue. Det er mangel på respekt for dem at tro, at man sådan kan narre dem ind på uddannelsesområdet, når der ingen penge er i det.

Lykkeligt ubelemrede
De er lykkeligt ubelemrede af veluddannede middelklasseforældre, som partout mener, at deres yndlinge skal højtuddannes, uanset at det ikke kan betale sig. Fri for den slags intellektuel omklamring kan de se tingene, som de er, og de incitamenter, de ser, peger ikke i retning af uddannelse. Samme klarsyn har de unge tilsyneladende fået, som har været uden for rigets andedams-konsensus i nogle år.
Man kan undre sig over, hvorfor de højtuddannedes organisationer har sovet så mange år i stedet for at kæmpe for deres medlemmers interesser. Men måske er man tilfreds med blot at eksistere som organisationer uden mål og med en politisk fastholdt fradragsret for de indbetalte kontingenter.

Verdens højeste skattetryk
Den fradragsret får de da også gladeligt stillet til rådighed af politikerne, som i det hele taget virker helt ligeglade med Brian og Basims problemer.
Alle ved, at det ikke er hensigtsmæssigt med verdens højeste skattetryk, som er indrettet, så det hindrer enhver tilegnelse af viden. De skattereformer og sænkningen af marginalskatten, som kunne bringe de unge på bedre tanker, er imidlertid noget, man mest snakker om. Der er næppe noget politisk område, som har affødt så megen snak og så lidt handling som netop skattepolitikken.
I stedet gemmer politikerne sig bag kommissioner og deres kommende lange rapporter, selv om det, der skulle gøres, kunne nedfældes på den ene side af en serviet.
Spørg blot Brian og Basim.

Gæsteindlæg: Valgtømmermænd politianmeldt

Poul Højlund, en af Punditokraternes trofaste og aktive læsere, har sendt dette indlæg til redaktionen. Vi bringer det her, og håber at det kan starte lidt debat.

En punditokrat emeritus, Mikael Jalving, har netop i DR Debat været i clinch med en af de unge fusentaster, der i et akut anfald af valgtømmermænd har oprettet netsiden http://flytetmandat.dk Som nok alle ved, handler det om en folkeindsamling med det ene formål at købe en blå politiker til at skifte over til den røde side af salen. Jalving gjorde det glimrende, og den unge med det underlige forslag magtede selvfølgelig ikke at svare ordentligt for sig. Men jeg savnede dog alligevel et meget vigtigt aspekt, nemlig en diskussion af lovligheden af bestikkelsesforsøget.

Efter min mening er der tale om en overtrædelse af straffeloven, og jeg anmeldte følgelig sagen til politiet allerede i lørdags. Om min anmeldelse overhovedet er modtaget af det reformramte politi er lidt usikkert, hvorfor jeg i skrivende stund har bedt dem bekræfte modtagelsen.Anmeldelsen lyder i al sin gribende enkelthed således:

”Vedlagte website, http://flytetmandat.dk/, der har været omtalt i en del medier siden fredag den 16. november
2007, krænker efter min opfattelse straffelovens § 122 Den, som uberettiget yder, lover eller tilbyder nogen,
der virker i dansk, udenlandsk eller international offentlig tjeneste eller hverv, gave eller anden fordel for at
formå den pågældende til at gøre eller undlade noget i tjenesten, straffes med bøde eller fængsel indtil 3 år.

Jeg skal derfor opfordre politiet til at standse ulovlighederne og foranstalte, at der rejses tiltale efter § 122.”

Undertegnede er på ingen måde jurist eller på anden måde spoleret af grum bagtanke; politianmeldelsen er det spontane resultat af en småsur jydes ”Nu kan det dæl’me være nok!” Men hvis jeg har ret i min antagelse – og det håber jeg sandt for dyden er tilfældet – er det muligvis tilsvarende ulovligt at optræde som donor på listen. Det burde være en smal sag for myndighederne at opspore samtlige netadresser, og derfra koble til de relevante personer.

Udover det der bedst kan betegnes som ’tudefjæsmentaliteten’ vidner sagen om en ganske horribel demokratiopfattelse, hvor et valgresultat ikke respekteres. Den glidning bør stoppes for enhver pris, fordi den fuldstændigt underminerer vores demokratiske system.

Og selvklart: anmeldelse var også sket i den omvendte situation, selvom jeg ikke har fantasi til at forestille mig den.

Poul Højlund

Ugens citat: WSJ om den nye "franske revolution"

Her er lidt klip fra Wall Street Journals leder dd. om præsident Sarkozys “nye samfundspagt”:

“Unveiling his domestic reform agenda in Paris Tuesday, Nicolas Sarkozy called for “a new social contract” for France. His proposed revision of French socialist tradition going back to Jean-Jacques Rousseau is nothing short of revolutionary. His ability to deliver will make or break his presidency.

True to character, Mr. Sarkozy came out swinging. The new President declared that France’s generous welfare state is “unjust” and “financially untenable,” “discourages work and job creation,” and “fails to bring equal opportunity.” The result: France’s jobless rate is the euro zone’s highest.

The President wants “a new social contract founded on work, merit and equal opportunity.” He promised to loosen restrictions on working hours and toughen up requirements for jobless benefits, to ease hiring and firing rules and reduce incentives to retire early.

Cautious optimism is in order. Over the summer, his new government moved gingerly. An autonomy plan for universities was watered down. A law assuring minimum transport services during strikes, intended to weaken the unions, was as well. On the plus side, wealth and income taxes were cut and the inheritance tax abolished. Fine. But considering his strong mandate and dominance of parliament, Mr. Sarkozy didn’t overachieve.

The details of this week’s proposals are sketchy but provide a foundation to build on. Echoing a frequent promise, the President said the law mandating a maximum 35-hour work week ought to be further relaxed to let the French–perish the thought–“choose work over leisure.” Inexplicably, however, Mr. Sarkozy refrained from pulling the plug on a law that’s come to symbolize France’s slothful ways.

He showed more political courage in calling for an end to state-guaranteed job security at private firms. Such legal protections discourage companies from hiring new employees and spur outsourcing. He also took on the most coddled insiders of all, public-sector workers. State employees retire earlier with full and often better benefits than the rest of the population, which picks up the tab. Train conductors legally stop work at age 50 thanks to a rule dating from when they still shoveled coal into engines.

… One of the biggest threats to Mr. Sarkozy’s revolution may yet be from Mr. Sarkozy himself. In his first four months in office, the President has revealed a populist streak. He browbeats the European Central Bank to lower interest rates and sticks his nose into big business. Such interventionism harks back to old-style French economic management and is out of tune with the approach outlined yesterday.”

Ugens citat: Guevara & Stalin

 Hermed et afslørende citat fra ca. 1954 af alle venstre-ekstremisters idol, Che Guevara:

“[I have sworn] before a picture of our, old much lamented comrade Stalin that I will not rest until I see these capitalist octopuses annihilated.”

Ved samme tid underskrev Guevara sig som “Stalin II”. I 1960–fire år efter Krustjevs afsløring af Stalins forbrydelser–nedlagde Guevara en blomsterkrans ved Stalins grav.

(Kilde: Samuel Farber, “The Resurrection of Che Guevara”, med hat-tip til Uriaspostens Kim Møller)

Ugens citat: Adam Holm om vold

Den gode Adam Holm fortsætter i gårsdagens Jyllands-Posten sin debat med Kristian Hvidt om dennes lovprisning af Lenin (jf. også Bent Jensens indlæg).  Fra den fortrinlige kronik blot dette citat:

“Vi har desværre vænnet os til, at venstreorienteret vold ikke gør helt så ondt som højreorienteret vold.”

EB's Jeppesen om Punditokraterne

Punditokraterne har fra tid til anden givet vores mening om både Ekstra Bladet og dets medarbejder Jeppesen til kende.  Så meget desto mere “beærede” var vi, da manden forleden fik os blandet ind i en “reportage”, der vist mestendels gik ud på at få sagt grimme ting om jøder, og gerne på en ikke specielt morsom måde.  Her er et klip fra “Jeppesen: Benedikte på plejehjem” (Ekstra Bladet, 20. juni):

Jeppesen har festet med gamle jøder

I begyndelsen sagde den store jødefar, at alle skulle bære hat. Desværre var hårvæksten det eneste, de fik med gennem evolutionen uden varige men, så man indgik et kompromis med Vorherre og opfandt kalotten.

Hvor paranoiaen kommer fra, har jeg ingen anelse om, eller jo det har jeg faktisk, men den første sætning er vist allerede rigeligt til at få punditokraterne til at gå i selvsving, og inden jeg fortsætter, må jeg hellere lige fortælle, hvor jeg er.

… Jeg er til åbningen af et plejehjem på Østerbro i København. Her er nok 100 gamle jøder. Og intet mindre end tre sikkerhedsvagter. … Alle beboerne skal i mødesalen. Prinsesse Benedikte er kommet. Hun har kun taget en lille taske med. Men hun regner måske ikke med at skulle blive her i særlig mange år.

Vi synger en sang på tysk. Og en fin mand med en prægtig hårvækst over hele hovedet holder en tale.

– Det vigtigste i et demokrati er, at det er rummeligt.

Ideologiske taler til åbninger af plejehjem er nok en jødisk ting, men uanset hvad er det rigtigt med rummeligheden. Og her er kongehuset jo et usædvanligt godt eksempel. De har plads til både drukkenbolte, falske grever, ejendomsmæglere og alskens indavl. Og de har aldrig været mere populære.

– At bygge betyder, at vi er levende, at vi ønsker at blive her. Det er meldingen fra det jødiske samfund.

Så skulle du nok have bygget noget andet end et gravmonument, Bernstein. Et plejehjem er en halvdød gravsten med toiletter. Det er ikke bare en fase i vores liv. Vi sætter ikke vores værelse i stand og prøver at sælge det dyrere. Det er endestationen, prisen for at vores børn kan få et ekstra værelse til symaskinen og billardbordet.

Og helt ærligt, et jødisk plejehjem. Hvordan hænger det sammen i et folkefærd, hvor de ligner oldinge, når de er fyldt 13?

…Værløsegarden spiller Abba-potpourri i haven. Benedikte tager en snack med laks og ost og hengiver sig til et glas hvidvin og en Melchior. Herrer med hæklede kalotter i brun og lyseblå og silke mingler med damer i …

Nu ved jeg, hvorfor de går med kalot! Det er for at kunne kende forskel på mænd og damer, når de evigt groende ører og næser til sidst får kønnene til at flyde sammen. Hvor er det smart! De er bare lidt kvikkere end os andre.”

Her på stedet er vi glade for at have så fornemme læsere.

Ugens citat: WSJ om GOP og indvandring

Fra dagens Wall Street Journal leder lidt om den igangværende kongres-behandling af Bushs forslag om en ny indvandringspolitik.  Den har den sigende titel: “Immigration and the GOP: How to make Republicans a minority party once again”:

“We’ve written often about the merits of immigration reform, and we have our own problems with parts of the Senate bill. But it’s worth spending some time on the larger politics of the issue, especially for Republicans. They’re caught between a passionate minority of their party–who oppose any reform that allows illegals a path to citizenship–and the larger electorate, which is more moderate and wants to solve the problem. Like Democrats on national security, this is a classic case in which pandering to the base will harm the GOP overall.

… No doubt this gets applause in some Republican precincts. But in the near term, meaning through 2008, Republicans would be far better off helping President Bush and John McCain pass something that takes immigration off the table. If the issue remains central to the 2008 debate, it will divide the GOP and the media will play up the split. Given the passions that immigration evokes on the right in particular, the issue could easily drown out other domestic policy messages the candidates would prefer to run on.

The longer term danger is that the GOP is sending a message to Latinos that it doesn’t want them in the party. And if that message sticks, Republicans could put themselves back in minority party status for a generation or more. Hispanics are the largest ethnic minority in the country, and their voting numbers continue to grow. Hispanics were estimated to be 8% of the electorate in 2006, compared with 6% in 2004 and 5.5% in 2000. Census data show that the number of Latino voters could rise to 10% or more by 2008. The demographic reality is that the GOP can’t be a majority party with Anglo-Saxon votes alone.

Like most voters, Hispanics care about more issues than immigration. But also like most voters, they take pride in their cultural identity and will reject candidates who send a message of hostility to their very presence in America. They know that when Tom Tancredo calls for an immigration “time out,” he’s not talking about the Irish. He means no more Mexicans, Hondurans or other Hispanics. If the GOP wants to be deserted by Hispanics for the next few election cycles, that sort of talk should do the trick. 

A recent WSJ/NBC News poll showed that Hispanics now self-identify as Democrats rather than Republicans by 51% to 21%.

 … In 2004, exit polls showed Republicans winning 44% of the Hispanic vote, up from 35% in 2000 and 38% in 2002. As Democratic strategist Simon Rosenberg noted after last year’s elections, “the Latino vote had swung more heavily into the Republican camp than any other vote in America. They went from 21% in 1996 to 44% in 2004. This was a doubling of the Republican market share, one of the most significant political achievements of the Bush era.”

But in the run-up to last year’s midterm elections, Republicans chose to make immigration their lead issue. The GOP leadership in Congress encouraged talk radio and cable news shows to inflate the illegal alien problem, and Republican candidates took a hard-line anti-immigration stance in hopes of turning out GOP voters. It didn’t work. Not only did the strategy fail to help Republicans hang on to their majorities in Congress, but support from Hispanic voters fell to 29%, the lowest level this decade. If running against illegal immigration were a winner, Arizona’s J.D. Hayworth would still be in Congress.

By the way, the growth in the Hispanic population will continue regardless of what happens with immigration from now on. The number of Hispanics who already hold green cards guarantees that their share of the electorate will increase over time even if Congress could seal the Southern border tomorrow. The GOP should be competing for these voters rather than driving them away with a barely concealed message of “Mexicans, go home.”

Notwithstanding the small but loud segment of the GOP base preoccupied with the issue, hostility to immigration has never been a political winner. Like trade protection, people protectionism always polls better in telephone surveys than on Election Day. For a Presidential candidate especially, it sends a negative message rather than one of optimistic leadership.”

Ugens citat: VU om samtykke, frihed & polygami

Hele Danmarks borgerlige netavis 180Grader.dk har et dagsaktuelt, omend to år gammelt, citat fra de unge liberales politiske program:

”Staten skal ikke bestemme hvorvidt man må have mere end en ægtefælle, dette må være op til de enkelte par at afgøre. Eneste krav for at få flere ægtefæller skal være den/de nuværende ægtefæller(s) samtykke.”

VU’s Thomas Banke uddyber til 180Grader:

Polygami?

”Hvis kvinder vitterligt ønsker at lade sig gifte ind i et harem, så mener jeg faktisk ikke at det en politisk opgave at blande sig i. Det må være folks frie valg. … Hvis ikke der er tale om tvang eller misbrug, så er det svært, synes jeg, at finde nogen grund til at lovgive imod det. Også selvom jeg ikke selv bryder mig om den form for ægteskab.”

VU’s formand, Karsten Lauritzen, kan derimod ikke helt finde ud af, hvad han mener.

Billedet viser et typisk dansk bunkebryllup.

Nye blog-skribenter

Kort tid efter at vi har budt velkommen til Jonny Trapp Steffensen, kan vi nu byde velkommen til yderligere tre nye skribenter på denne blog.

Den ene er økonomen Niels Westy Munch-Holbek , der i række år har markeret sig som en af de mest klare pro-frihandelsfortalere i den danske globaliseringsdebat.  Vi regner med, at Niels–der også er vicepræsident for Akademiet for Fremtidsforskning –vil fortsætte med at holde dén fane højt her på bloggen.

De to andre, nye skribenter er henholdsvis Papillon & Altmann.  De har begge rødderne plantet i det borgerligt-liberale bagland, og de vil fra tid til anden slippe lidt god sladder og andet, der ellers gerne skulle være forblevet i det gedulgte, løs her på stedet.

Dagens citat: Regeringen som socialdemokratiske administratorer

Fra en ideologisk taler i dag:

"Sidder de slet og ret i deres ministerbiler og ved, at de kan være forvaltere af det socialdemokratiske velfærdssamfund og ikke en tøddel mere? …  Ideologi er ikke noget man skal skamme sig over eller erklære stendød," sagde han med henvisning til tidligere statsminister Poul Schlüters bemærkning om at ideologi er noget bras. "Schlüter erklærede ideologien for stendød – det lader til at de borgerlige har taget det til efterretning".

Hvem mon sagde det?  Søren Pind? Jacob Axel Nielsen? Martin Ågerup?  Christopher Arzrouni?  Læs svaret her hos 180grader.

Ugens citat: Dave Barry om frihed

På det amerikanske Marquette University har institutlederen for Dept. of Philosophy, James South, beordret en ph.d. studerende, Stuart Ditsler, til at fjerne et “patently offensive” citat, som den studerende havde placeret på sin kontordør på instituttet.  Citatet var af den meget vittige amerikanske humorist (og libertarianer) Dave Barry, som er forfatter til bl.a. bestsellerne Dave Barry Hits Below the Beltway: A Vicious and Unprovoked Attack on Our Most Cherished Political Institutions (2002), Dave Barry Slept Here og utallige morsomme klummer.  Citatet lød sådan:

“As Americans we must always remember that we all have a common enemy, an enemy that is dangerous, powerful, and relentless.  I refer, of course, to the federal government.”

Så meget for “academic free speech”.  Mere her fra Cato Institute.

Ugens citat: Peggy Noonan om Bush & State-of-the-Union

Den tidligere præsidentielle taleskriver Peggy Noonan fabulerer i sin ugentlige WSJ-klumme over, hvordan det mon i disse dage går med skrivningen af Bushs State-of-the-Union tale til kongressen onsdag, og hun nærmer sig et eksistentialistisk øjeblik:

"The small things are overthought. The big things are underthought. This is the way of government."

Resten af klummen er her.

Ugens citat: Schlüter (den gamle ideolog) om AFR

Fhv. statsminister Poul Schlüter har de sidste fem-seks år arbejdet beundringsværdigt på at få nogle af os til at glemme, at det var ham, der i sin tid sagde, at “ideologi er noget bras”.  (Faktisk brugte han i originalformuleringen et andet fire-bogstavsord, men det kom ikke med i det kendte interview i Berlingske.)

Og det gør han godt.  Her er den forgangne uges sammenkædning af den halvvidenskabelige meningsmåling fra A4/Epinion med spørgsmålet om regeringens ophørsudsalgs-linie (inkl. det reelt slet skjulte spark til Bendt Bendtsen og den nuværende konservative partiledelse):

“Hvis man opgiver sine tidligere synspunkter, som man er kendt for, og som man har stået for i en generation eller to, så skaber det forvirring hos vælgerne. De tænker, “når de borgerlige politikere ikke vil have deres holdninger længere, så skal jeg vel heller ikke have dem”.

PS. Schlüter foreslog iøvrigt ca. 1980 en fusion af V og K under navnet “Det Liberale Folkeparti”.  Se dét kunne have været interessant – eller det modsatte …

Guest comment: Politics rather than policy

We are happy to bring a guest comment on the US Mid-Term elections. Today’s  guest commentator is David Pontoppidan, who studies sociology and is research assistant at CEPOS.

Politics rather than policy
By David Pontoppidan

There has been much debate on the result and outcome of the US midterm elections since the Democrats took back Congress last week. What effect will their sweeping victory have on the upcoming presidential election in 2008? And with Nancy ‘Perilous’ Pelosi as speaker of the House, what impact will the election result have on US policy? According to John Fortier, scholar at the American Enterprise Institute who visited Denmark last week, the impact on US policy will be minimal, but the result on US politics overwhelming. This was his main point at the meeting held last Monday by the Danish free-market think tank CEPOS.

It’s important here to distinguish between the difference in meaning of policy and politics. Policy consists of setting forth actual bill proposals and engaging in bipartisan settlements. In other words what politics should be all about. Politics in reality, however, is all the rest: investigative committees with unfavourable witnesses, filibusters and philandering, accusations and double standards. According to John Fortier, this will be the primary effect of the Democratic victory. With the 2008 elections being so open, Nancy Pelosi’s promises of bipartisan cooperation will soon drown in the presidential campaign from both camps, regardless of what she may say or think. The result of which will be more politics, and less policy. Donald Rumsfeld and UN Ambassador John Bolton may be the first casualties of the midterm elections, but Pelosi could be the first in 2008.

I took the liberty during John Fortier’s lecture to mention some historical events that may prove this thesis wrong. E.g., after the midterm elections in 1986, during Reagan’s second presidential term, the democrats had majority in both House and Senate, and through various committees investigated the Iran-contra scandal, tried to push own issues through and worked against Reagan’s agenda. The result, two years later, was Walter Mondale running against George Bush Sr., an election the Democrats will be highly unlikely to try and repeat in ‘08. And after Nancy Pelosi having to promise on live television that the democrats won’t impeach President Bush, as if this was something fairly common, the danger of a “showdown” is definitely present. The question is if the Democrats will wait until 2008 before they draw arms.

“I would think that every Democrat has been reading up on how Newt Gingrich took back Congress in ’94 with his ‘Contract with America'”, says John Fortier. Pelosi has been compared to Gingrich, in spite of their difference in opinion but because of similar style. Yet opinion polls taken immediately before the midterm elections in ’94, show that only 16% of the American public had a negative view of Newt Gingrich. The following April, it was almost 40%! As former top aide to President Clinton, Paul Begala put it in the International Herald Tribune, Whitehouse spokesperson under Clinton put it, “We pushed it, but Newt did most of it to himself”. Nancy Pelosi may prove more perilous to herself than the Republican Party if she decides to continue down this path.

These are all good indicators that the Democrats should favour of a more bipartisan Congress the next two years, John Fortier agrees. But they won’t. Mainly because there is one major difference. In 1988 you had a former Vice President who was running for office. In 1994 you had President Clinton preparing for re-election, and the Republicans wanting to hold on to power. The presidential race in 2008 will be very different, because it’s so open. Dick Cheney isn’t running for office, and since the midterm elections were decided on the question of Iraq, it’s very unlikely that Condoleezza Rice will be running as well, as a colleague of John Fortier, Joshua Muravchik, recently put it. The Republicans have been looking for the Ken-doll of conservative politics, a good middle-of-the-road conservative, ever since this became apparent. One such Republican, former Senator George Allen from Virginia, who has previously been mentioned on this blog as a possible candidate, struck out in the midterm elections, and thereby lost his presidential chances according to Fortier. The same goes for the former senator of Montana. There is no obvious heir to the throne in the GOP, and the same can partly be said of the Democrats.

Whether this is a good thing or not remains open to debate. For those hoping for a Democratic revolution similar to the Republican revolution in ’94, prospects may be dim. For those hoping for actual policy-change, the same can be said. Instead, Fortier predicts, the debate will be heated, while the actual policy will be on hold until 2008, even though this may harm Democratic chances in ’08. As the Daily Telegraph reported the day after John Fortier’s meeting, George McGovern, the Democrat 1972 presidential anti-war candidate who lost a landslide victory to Richard Nixon, will be addressing more than 60 senate- and house-representatives next week on the issue of Iraq, not to mention John Myrtha, an outspoken anti-war senator whom Pelosi is backing as future Senate Majority Whip. A clear example that gives credence to Fortier’s theory of a heated political debate that won’t result in actual policy.

As William Kristol of the Weekly Standard put it, the election was won on dissatisfaction with the strategy for victory in Iraq, not for withdrawal. “Staying the course” is obviously no longer an option for President Bush. But while the debate in Congress may heat up and the filibusters increase, withdrawal is unrealistic.

The most important factor in American politics at the moment is the X-factor. Who will be the candidates in 2008? And can an incumbent senator really win the Presidential election for the first time since John F. Kennedy? First of all, the challenges for a senator-would-be-president, who suddenly has to balance a budget, rather than increase it, seem clear. Furthermore, a Clinton or a Bush has been on the presidential ticket for the last 25 years. Will the Americans continue this trend?

If both Senators John McCain and Hillary Clinton are left out as obvious candidates, we may be witness to one of the most exciting and unpredictable presidential races in US history – but for now it’s politics, rather than policy.

Ugens citat: Bistrup om smagsneutralitet

Annelise Bistrup har denne fornøjelige passage i sin søndags-klumme i Jyllands-Posten:

"[På Venstres landsmøde] skal man vedtage en ny trosbekendelse, der er spiselig for det flertal af vælgere, der skal holde regeringen ved magten.

Efter at have studeret røgen fra konciliet og uden at foregribe begivenhederne i kongrescentret i Odense kunne søndagens tekst for rettroende medlemmer af Ny-Venstre lyde sådan her:

»Vi tror på den hellige, almindelige velfærdsstat. Vi tror på den offentlige sektor og al dens væsen. Vi tror på skattestoppet og 24-års-reglen. Og vi forsager brugerbetaling, ulighed, Cepos-økonomer og Søren Pind.«

»Ideologi er noget bras,« som en forhenværende statsminister en gang sagde.

Venstres statsminister har endnu ikke sagt det, men det kommer nok: Liberalisme er noget bras. Og de, der stadig tror på de gamle guder, skal have skyllet munden.

For eksempel yngre Venstre-løver som Søren Pind, Peter Christensen og Edith Thingstrup, der har foreslået, at væksten i den offentlige sektor til enhver tid skal være lavere end i den private sektor.

Gammelt liberalt tankegods? »Nej ikke mere,« bjæffede indpiskeren i liberalisme-light, Claus Hjort Frederiksen. »I er ude af trit med virkeligheden og ude af trit med Venstre.«

Fremtidens politik er smagsneutral."

Ugens citat: Dennis Miller om narkotika-forbud

Her på stedet har vi tidligere citeret en af USA’s morsomste komikere, den krypto-libertære skuespiller Dennis Miller.  Det kan man næsten ikke gøre for tit, for hans kombination af metaforer, politik og politisk ukorrekte grovheder er som regel ret morsom.  Så her er en af hans kendte, såkaldte “rants”, denne gang om “the war on drugs”:

“Maybe he [the drug user] deserves a second chance, I mean who did he really hurt besides himself? Maybe it’s time that we as a nation start staying out of people’s personal problems and vices. What are we doing spending billions of dollars trying to keep people’s private lives in order?

And I’m talking about legal age consenting adults here, not kids, we
obviously have to take special precautions to protect kids. But what is this Orwellian hang-up of ours of sticking our nose into other
grown-up’s affairs? What concern is it of ours if some mindless stoner wants to spend his his life hooked up to a Turkish skull bong?

Now, I’m not pro-drug, they obviously cause a lot of damage, but I am pro-logic and you’re never going to stop the human need for release through altered consciousness. The government can take away all the drugs in the world and people will just spin around on their lawn until they fell down and saw God.

Now I don’t want to get off on a rant here, but it seems to really enrage the vast cheese dog and beer quaffing nation out there when someone decides to waste his own life chasing down chemical euphoria and I’m not sure why. Our displeasure with someone hell-bent on self-ruination through drug use seems really disproportionate to its direct impact on us. And as a matter of fact, I believe we amplify that impact when we attempt to enforce unenforceable laws. It not only costs us billions of dollars, but it puts us in harms way as addicts are driven to crime as a means to an end. Why do we chase druggies down like villagers after Karlov? Let them legally have what they already have and defuse the bomb. You know, I think the hysteria about drugs is often times baseless.

And this comes from me, a man who has never done cocaine in his life, although I did smoke dope upon occasion during my stint as a student at Oxford in the late 60s. And you know, the war on drugs is more often than not fruitless and patently hypocritical, be honest with yourselves now.

What drugs are the most dangerous to the most Americans? Its a no brainer: cigarettes and alcohol. Those are the statistical champions by hundreds of thousands of deaths. And wouldn’t you rather shoot a game of pool with a guy smoking a joint than a guy drinking whisky and beer? Someone smoking a joint doesn’t all of the sudden rear back and stab his partner in the eye socket with a cue stick, ok? He’s too busy laughing at the balls.

And you know as far as harder drugs go, if somebody wants to shoot up and die right in front of you, more power to him, you know? It’s his call. And you know the herd always has a way of thinning itself out. We aren’t stupid people here in America, no more than anyone else in the world, so why are we obsessing on habits that harm no one but the habitual, while we let real problems slip ever further out of reach. We seem to be willfully turning away from reality, and from logic might I add, to punish people, who in many instances are doing an extremely fine job of punishing themselves, thank you. And in some cases they’re not even punishing themselves, but rather just following age old spawning instincts that are as woven as deeply into their brain as their need to watch Home Improvement.”

To Kill a Journalist: Guest comment by Samuel Rachlin

For the benefit of both our Danish and our foreign readers, we are proud to bring a guest commentary on the death of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya. Our guest commentator today is one of the most distinguished and respected Danish journalists, Samuel Rachlin.

By Samuel Rachlin

COPENHAGEN Anna, Anna, I did not get to call you last time I was in Moscow, and now no cell phone can reach you. I am looking at your phone numbers and e-mail address in my PDA and think of all the occasions in the past when I called you to ask for your advice or ask you to let me interview you on camera. I am not deleting your name or numbers and will keep you alive digitally like, I assume, hundreds of your other colleagues and friends around the world, to stay connected with you and preserve the illusion about you as an active contact, source or colleague – beyond our reach.

You were always busy with your next story or your family and you could come across as absentminded and stressed when you guided us through the piles of papers and books piled everywhere in the usual chaos of your typical Moscow apartment. But you always were ready to share your time and knowledge and advice with a smile and a mixture of amazement and patience when you were confronted with a foreign correspondent’s naiveté or lack of understanding for the realities of your country.

I have to confess that where we practice our professional duties it is difficult to relate to a reality where you kill a journalist, gun her down like a snitch because you don’t like her work or perhaps fear what her revelations can lead to. There is a long distance between the reality of one of our popular TV shows, “Crazy with Dance”, and the reality of a Russian journalist who can pay with her life for her word.

I don’t know if you were crazy with dance, I don’t even know if you knew this entertainment program at all. But I know that you were crazy with truth. You wanted to get to the very core of it without any compromise and at any price – even the highest. You got to pay that price last Saturday when you met your fate in that elevator and your killer finished your most important story – your life. Probably, you did not see him because he shot you in the back with three shots and one to your head, the control shot as they say in Russian, to make sure that you would die.

That’s how your narrative ended, Anna, and I think it’s fair to say that you were not surprised. You had often told your friends that you had received death threats, that you felt you were in danger and that somebody was trying to get you killed. The best known case was the attempt at your life when you were poisoned on board the plane en route to Beslan to cover the hostage drama. You never made it to Beslan and doctors had to do their utmost to save your life.

That did not make you change you workings habits or style. You did not give it a thought that you could move to another country and take advantage of the fact that you were so famous now that there would be no lack of job offers. But you wanted to pursue what you had set out to do – to tell the world about the state’s crimes in Chechnya, the violation of human rights all over Russia, abuse of power in the Kremlin and the rampant corruption in all layers and corners of the society,. You were not driven by any death wish. You loved life and admitted readily that you were afraid. But there was no alternative for you. You knew better than most what Putin’s Russia has to offer journalists who do not follow directions and keep challenging the system and the authorities.

Freedom of expression has been constrained all over Russia in the past six years and the media are, like in Soviet times, increasingly being used as an instrument or a weapon in the service of government. Like in Orwell’s “1984” prison is freedom, darkness is light, lying is truth. Your life is at stake when you choose reporter as your profession in Russia.

A Russian poet, Osip Mandelstam, said in the 30’ies that nowhere are poets as important as in Russia. Only in Russia poets are being killed. And yes, Mandelstam was killed. Today you can say that nowhere are journalists as important as in Russia. Only in Russia, journalists are being killed. 12 journalists have been killed in Russia under Putin. You became the 13th.

Anna, you knew, of course, which powers you were challenging when you said that Chechny’a young prime minister, Ramzan Kadyrov is “a state level bandit” and that his appointment was one of  President Putin’s most tragic mistakes. When you met your killer last Saturday you were working on a story about how Kadyrov and his men use torture, abductions and killings against unwanted people in Chechnya. You said you had pictures to document your charges. Your article was to be published last Monday. Instead, your paper published your obituary.

Moscow is awash with rumors and speculation about who took out a contract on you. There is the Chechen trace, assumptions about the Kremlin’s interest in getting rid of you, suspicion of some Neo-Nazi connection and all kinds of other theories. The fact of the matter is that, like in all the preceding killings of this kind, it will never be established who killed you.

The journalist who would be the best to investigate and establish who, what and why would, of course, have been you. Your paper has started its own investigation, but I am sure that it all will be in vain. Even if a Russian court some day will sentence someone as the killer the truth will never surface. You can catch and jail someone, but how do you catch and sentence a system that has made it possible to hire a killer to eliminate a journalist.

Today’s Russia is basking in its oil money and the sense that its great power dreams are within reach again. For the Kremlin, the killing of a journalist is a deplorable even tragic act. But it does not call for a quick reaction. It took President Putin three days to condemn your killing, Anna. But he added that your influence on the political life was insignificant and that your killing was far more damaging to the Kremlin than any of your articles.

More interestingly, Putin said that he knew there were forces that want to exploit your killing to damage Russia’s interests in the world. I can hear how you laugh at this suggestion and how you will cut to the bone withy this analysis: “Putin never could use me for anything when I was alive, but now he will use my death to tighten the screws even more and do away with what is left of freedom of expression in Russia. Just wait and see.”

Anna, the problem for us and all your Russian colleagues now is who is going to tell the Kremlin that Putin and his men with all their financial prowess and power must understand that there is one loss which the new Russia cannot afford: you and your courage, tall, slim, upright Anna.

Ugens citat: Tierney om pager

New York Times’ fortrinlige, klassisk-liberale klumme-skribent John Tierney (som vi omtalte allerede tidligt i denne blogs første levetid) har denne spidse kommentar til den dagsaktuelle sex-skandalen i USA’s kongres:

“Suppose Nike’s founder, Phil Knight, asked taxpayers to subsidize a program for 16-year-olds to leave their homes to become “squires” running errands at Nike headquarters. Or suppose, before his death, Sam Walton had asked Congress to build a dormitory in Arkansas to house teenage “serfs” spending a semester away from their schools to work on a Wal-Mart loading dock.

These executives would become national jokes. They’d be denounced for trying to revive 19th-century child-labor practices and 12th-century feudalism. There would be no public money appropriated for Knight’s Squires or Sam’s Serfs.

Yet Congress sees nothing strange about dragging teenagers from their families and schools to become pages, one step below a squire in the feudal food chain. They’re not being forced to wear Prince Valiant haircuts, but they have to do scut work that’s probably even less useful than what they could learn at Nike or Wal-Mart.

Congressional pages spend much of their time hand-delivering documents, a job that’s done electronically in most 21st-century institutions. When educators talk about preparing youth for jobs in the Information Age, they’re not talking about training messengers.

The justification for the page program is that it gives teenagers an insider’s glimpse of how Congress works. But why disillusion them at such a tender age? If they stayed in school, they could maintain their innocence by reading the old step-by-step textbook version of how a bill becomes law. By going to Capitol Hill, they see how the process has changed:

1. A bill is introduced to build highways.

2. A congressman receives a donation from a constituent who wants to open a go-kart track.

3. The congressman persuades his committee chairman to slip in a $350 million “earmark” for an “alternative sustainable transportation research facility” in his district.

4. The chairman quietly adds similar earmarks for all members of the committee.

5. The bill is passed unanimously.

6. The president complains about the “wasteful spending” but signs it into law anyway.

7. The congressman attends a fund-raiser at the new go-kart track.

What lesson has the page learned? That Congress is the closest thing in modern America to a medieval court: an enclave governed by arcane ancient rules of seniority, a gathering of nobles who spend their days accepting praise and dispensing favors to supplicants.

They’re so secure in their jobs, and so used to being surrounded by groveling minions, that they assume the privileges of feudal lords when dealing with pages and other lieges. Which is why, on occasion, they try to exercise the droit du seigneur.”

Ugens citat: Geertsen om Venstre, skat og midten

Søren Pinds efterfølger som den politiske leder af Venstre i København, kulturborgmester Martin Geertsen, har i mange år været at finde på, hvad der vel bedst kan kaldes den liberale fløj indenfor Venstre.  Det må så være slut fra dd., hvor Geertsen i Berlingske Tidende tager den neo-Foghske logik til kommunalpolitik:

"Vi skal være et midterparti, og vi skal søge indflydelsen - også selv om det kommer til at gøre ondt – af den simple grund, at vores vælgere vil se konkrete politiske resultater. … Hvis du vil, kan du sikkert finde en eller to, som til hver en tid vil foretrække ideologien frem for resultaterne. … Kvaliteten af de offentlige tilbud skal være i orden, inden vi begynder at snakke om skattelettelser. …  Det kommer selvfølgelig til at tage tid, og derfor er det ikke aktuelt at snakke om lavere skat".

Så er dét da sat på plads.

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