Friday, May 15, 2009

No Sanction from This Hedge Fund Manager

Cliff Asness is a bona fide hedge fund manager -- 20 billion dollars worth.  But unlike most other hedge fund managers, he is not cowering in the shadows with his head low, hoping to go unnoticed by the bullies in Washington.  Here is a man with solid principles who is not about to be dragged down the road to serfdom without protest.  Last fall the New York Times published his views on the short selling ban in "Cliff Asness is Mad as Hell." His latest is an essay posted on his blog entitled "Unafraid in Greenwich Connecticut in which he refuses to accept President Obama's attack on hedge funds for "endangering Chrysler's future by refusing to sacrifice like everyone else." ( has the complete story, "Chrysler Bankruptcy Exposes Dirty Politics.)

Obama's call for for the hedge funds to sacrifice, Asness points out,  means simply that hedge fund managers are being called upon to steal from their investors, who did not invest their funds to be sacrificed to President Obama's political ends.  

The ethic of sacrifice is carried to its logical conclusion in Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, a novel that describes today's economic predicament in philosophical terms.  Not only doesn't sacrifice work, it is downright evil and it will unravel the American Revolution.  Asness is a trustee of The Atlas Society and has read the book.  No wonder he is willing to stand up and speak out passionately and with moral certainty.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

They Lied about Waterboarding

Nancy Pelosi says that the CIA lied to her about the use of waterboarding. See and

The acid test is this: Will Pelosi file a criminal complaint against these people for lying to Congress? Or is her assertion a PR ploy without substance -- i.e., is Pelosi the liar or is she willing to go to the mat?

It is easy to lie to the press. There are no significant consequences. Lying under oath before a Congressional committee is a different matter altogether. You could go to jail. So one should not expect an employee of a government agency to place his employment, retirement, financial well-being and liberty in jeopardy by lying to Congress. On the other hand, politicians readily lie to the press because there are no consequences other than the occasional lapse in credibility -- if the politician values credibility in the first place.

Thus, the logic of the situation favors the government employee. Accordingly, the burden of proof is on Pelosi.

Shame, shame, shame, that she should go to the press to defend herself. Any respectable Congressperson who was lied to by a civil servant under oath should vigorously pursue an indictment -- crunch those who would lie to the people. So let's see -- will Pelosi seek an indictment, or is she posturing (lying) to deflect the truth: that she was aware of waterboarding and, in the context of the times, like everyone else in Washington, overlooked the ethical issues. These clowns are so stupid that they can't see that ethical issues are always contextual. You have principles and you have the contexts in which those principles are applied. Their stupidity will kill us all.

How far a government ought to go in defending its citizens against attack is another question which we shall explore later in this blog. It is not easy to parse morality, legality, defense obligation and necessity. Those who think that bright lines can be drawn are deluding themselves.

Let's not make light of these issues or politicize them. The Pelosis of the world are clueless and without a foundation in principles that would enable them to make judgments when faced with with real world situations. And judgments, applying principles in factual contexts are what counts.

I am getting very tired of Harry Reid's and Nancy Pelosi's laughable attempts to justify their irrational positions. What's the point? No one believes them anyway. Both are "trivial politicians" (thanks for the apt description, Newt).