Random thoughts on the passing scene:
Many people may have voted for Barack Obama in 2008 because of his charisma. But anyone familiar with the disastrous track record of charismatic political leaders around the world in the 20th century should have run for the hills when they encountered a politician with charisma.
What is scarier than any particular political policy or issue is the widespread tendency to treat political issues as personal contests in talking points -- competitive skill in fencing with words -- rather than as serious attempts to find out what the facts are and what the options are.
People who are wondering what to get as a graduation present this year should consider "The Passage of Power" by Robert Caro, the recently published 4th volume in his monumental biography of Lyndon Johnson. Its revelations of the cynical, fraudulent and vicious politics in Washington should counter the pious graduation speeches that young people hear about the nobility of "public service.
The new French president, a socialist, says frankly that he does not like rich people, that "my real enemy is the world of finance," and apparently he has plans for much higher tax rates on high incomes. Has he not noticed how easy it is for the rich to move to some other country where the tax rates are lower -- or to send their money there? "CONTINUE READING