Total Recall

I’ve been trying to figure out why I’m happy about the Schwarzenegger victory in California. I guess one reason is that I know that he has some familiarity with libertarian ideas. Another is that it will add something entertaining to politics.

But, I think the main reason is that I like the fact that this makes it a bit harder for politicians to pretend that they are in office because they are brilliant statesmen and respected thinkers. It makes it clear that people don’t get elected for being Platonic philosopher king material. They get elected because they have the ability to make people comfortable giving them money (to campaign with) and power to wield (or less uncomfortable than giving it to their most likely alternative) in the hopes that they’ll get something worthwhile in return. In other words, they have name recognition, and skills at evoking hope, schmoozing, cutting deals, and lying. None of these things make them likely to perform well for the people who trust them (and aren’t likely to help finance their next election).

If Arnold tries to cut spending and regulations, then I wish him luck with the heavily Democratic legislature. Perhaps his mandate will make it easier to influence them. If he tries to add new taxes and programs, then I wish him all of the disappointments that the office promises to deliver.

So, I’m cautiously optimistic and looking forward to the fireworks.

UPDATE: Colby Cosh makes some related points about politicians (but, he’s focusing on why there are so few women in politics; not on Arnold)

The UN

While I happen to agree with the UN about the corporal punishment of children, I loved this observation by James Taranto today:

“The UN has told the Canadian government to ban all forms of corporal punishment of youngsters–including even a light slap,” reports the CanWest News Service. The Committee on Rights of the Child said Canada, as a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, is obliged to make spanking illegal. So if you’re a Canadian parent and you want to discipline your children without running afoul of the U.N., you may soon have to hire a Palestinian to blow him up.

The American Two-Party System

Sasha Volokh relates the following joke in a post today:

“See, in our country, we have a two-party system; my party is the Stupid Party, and the other party is the Evil Party. Sometimes my guys are in power and we get a lot of stupid legislation; sometimes the other guys are in power and we get a lot of evil legislation. Sometimes both parties are in power and we get what’s called ‘gridlock,’ where nothing particularly stupid or evil gets done. But occasionally the parties get together in what we call ‘bipartisanship,’ where we pass something that’s both stupid and evil . . . .”