Stories by Kenneth Silber

Kenneth Silber is a senior editor at Research, a magazine for financial advisors, and has written on various topics in science, technology and economics for publications including the New York PostNational ReviewScientific American and the Wall Street Journal.  He blogs at Quicksilber.

Best of FF: Have Libertarians Lost Their Way?

December 28th, 2011 at 12:59 pm 47 Comments

As 2011 comes to a close, FrumForum plans to re-run some of our best featured pieces from the year. Kenneth Silber’s piece on the libertarian movement is especially important in light of Ron Paul’s recent surge in the polls

Last fall, I wrote for FrumForum about “How I Joined the Vast RINO Conspiracy,” tracing how I, a longtime self-described “libertarian conservative,” got out of step with the right as the right moved further right and as I moved toward the center. Some readers applauded my independent thinking and others invited me to drag my backside out of the Republican Party (something I’ve declined to do).

A new book The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What’s Wrong with America, by Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch, respectively the editors of Reason.tv and Reason magazine, has given me much to contemplate, on how libertarianism fits into American politics, how Reason fits into libertarianism, and why I, a onetime fairly regular contributor to that magazine, eventually failed to fit in at Reason.

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Talking With the Left About Climate Change

December 21st, 2011 at 9:22 pm 126 Comments

Two FrumForum posts I wrote recently about climate politics — “How the GOP Should Explain Climate Change” and “Newt, Your Ad With Pelosi Wasn’t Dumb” — netted me an appearance on “The Green Front,” a program of the Progressive Radio Network. This was thanks to fellow FF contributor D.R. Tucker, erstwhile guest on the show, who sent my posts to the host, Betsy Rosenberg.

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How the GOP Should Explain Climate Change

December 7th, 2011 at 2:00 pm 89 Comments

The GOP nomination race has proven to be a hostile environment for concerns about, or even an acceptance of the reality of, anthropogenic global warming.

Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney have made statements that they don’t know what’s causing climate change, in contradiction of earlier statements indicating that they did know. Jon Huntsman now has expressed doubts about the validity and clarity of the science involved. The other candidates have been broadly dismissive of the issue.

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Newt, Your Ad With Pelosi Wasn’t Dumb

December 5th, 2011 at 11:59 pm 31 Comments

Newt Gingrich recently described his 2008 appearance in a 30-second ad with then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi as “the dumbest single thing I’ve done.” Many conservatives share a negative view of it. Ron Paul, for instance, cites the ad as an example of Newt’s “serial hypocrisy.”

Curious, I took a look at the ad, eager to assess its dumbness. Here’s the full transcript:

Pelosi: Hi, I’m Nancy Pelosi, lifelong Democrat and speaker of the House.

Gingrich: And I’m Newt Gingrich, lifelong Republican and I used to be speaker.

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James Clinton, Revolutionary War Hero

November 11th, 2011 at 12:04 am 2 Comments

Previously at FrumForum, I wrote about two early American political leaders: DeWitt Clinton, New York governor and mayor and key figure in the nation-building achievement of getting the Erie Canal built; and George Clinton, governor turned vice president, whose efforts to limit federal power culminated in an independent (and erroneous, in my view) decision to terminate America’s first central bank.

Now, I take quill to parchment again, this time regarding James Clinton (1736-1812), a Revolutionary War general who was DeWitt’s father and George’s brother.

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Ron Paul’s Spaced Out Plan

October 19th, 2011 at 11:42 am 59 Comments


Ron Paul has unveiled a fiscal plan that would eliminate the Commerce Department, among other departments. The Commerce Department includes the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and one of NOAA’s functions is operating the nation’s weather satellites.

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Why We Should Still be Sweating Global Warming

October 6th, 2011 at 12:30 pm 136 Comments

Robert Bryce, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and writer about energy, has an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal stating “Five Truths About Climate Change.” Some of his assertions are to the effect that there’s not that much that can be done to restrain carbon emissions. That’s a debatable stance, and I will address it. Then I will go on to his fifth “truth,” which has to do with the science of climate change.

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‘Occupy Wall Street’ Is Obsessed with Corporations

October 4th, 2011 at 10:45 am 75 Comments

The “Occupy Wall Street” protestors’ “NYC General Assembly” has issued a manifesto of indictments of corporate America, on matters including war, pollution, cruelty to animals, housing foreclosures and much more. Fundamentally, the protestors display an antipathy to the very idea of corporations.

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Beck Didn’t Warn Me Gold Can Fall!

September 27th, 2011 at 12:13 am 76 Comments

The gold market meltdown — with prices plunging in recent weeks from over $1,900 an ounce to under $1,600 — is a reminder that the precious metal is a volatile, speculative commodity. It also signals a bear market in credibility for the many right-leaning cable-news and talk-radio hosts who have touted gold relentlessly in recent years as a hedge against economic calamity.

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Still Sound as a Dollar

September 23rd, 2011 at 2:32 pm 22 Comments

Conservatives nowadays routinely worry about the dollar’s strength and stability. The dollar, however, refuses to cooperate. Instead, it lately has been rising in foreign-exchange markets, as it typically does in times of international economic and financial stress.

The dollar serves as a safe haven. Investors tend to transfer funds into dollar-denominated assets, such as U.S. Treasuries, at moments when financial markets around the world are being buffeted. This occurs even if the U.S. economy is not in good shape. As long as the dollar and dollar-denominated assets are seen as relatively safe, the dollar will tend to strengthen in times of trouble.

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