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May 21, 2018



Stormy Weather

Harold Arlen - Ted Koehler ©1933

Live at the Coffeehouse dot Com


May 15, 2018

True North Strong & Free

I don't usually do the throwbacks here, but Facebook gave me this as a memory today.


May 10, 2018

Was He Tired of Winning?

Politicians always let you down. But if I've a favorite real-live, corporeal politician it would Sen. Phil Gramm (HOSS - TX). He has a guest editorial in the WSJ today: "Trump's Trade Threats Are Hurting Growth"

I know, we've been down this road before. But I wish to appeal to you Machiavellian side. Tax cuts and deregulation (Yaaay President Trump!) set the economy on fire. One should be cautions using the DJIA as a proxy for the economy -- but it roared up thousands of points after the tax cuts (to 26,616), stalled at the trade talk, and remains moribund at 24,772 as I type.

I'm a dollar averager and far from retirement, so I am not complaining, but I think in this instance it is a good proxy. The market and economy loves the corporate tax cut and deregulation. The consumer loves the personal tax cuts (though they're not as pro-growth).

The trade uncertainty contravenes the message and success. Senator?

The University of Michiganís April consumer-sentiment survey noted that respondents who mentioned the tax cuts expressed high confidence in the economy, while those who mentioned tariffs expressed low confidence. The Institute for Supply Management recorded the largest drop in its manufacturing index since 2015, with more than a third of respondents citing tariffs as a source of their worries.

But nanobrewer thinks:

My vote for HOSS (after the imitable, but never matched Ronaldus Magnus) is Mike Pompeo, with Ben Sasse as Miss Congeniality and Tom Cotton as the stern, and steady elder brother.

Posted by: nanobrewer at May 22, 2018 12:11 AM

May 9, 2018

Overreact, Moi?

I'll borrow my mea maxima culpa from Jim Geraghty:

Whew! Was all of that worry about Don Blankenship much ado about nothing? Blankenship finished with just under 20 percent.

The Blankenship panic probably reflects what occurs when there's a dearth of reliable polling in a state primary, coupled with a hangover from the GOP's Roy Moore debacle in Alabama. (The fact that West Virginia Republicans rejected Blankenship pretty thoroughly makes the Alabama Republican primary voters look even worse. This isn't a national madness, driving Republicans to support the wildest, most controversial and outrageous nominee available.)

Me and #CocaineMitch are feeling pretty good today! [Snifffffff!]

I should admit to have overreacted. The rot in the GOP is not as deep as I feared. I've shared a party with religious wackos for many years (and many responsible, sensible, and devout liberty-loving patriots). Surely, I can sit next to the odd protectionist, populist. I'll just wash really good when I get home.

And President Trump will only be in office for, what, 15-20 years after dismantling the Constitution -- then things will get back to normal...

But Terri Goon thinks:

Just curious....why do you think he'll dismantle the constitution?
And I'll grant you he doesn't understand the constitution, but I'm not at all sure how he could dismantle it in this clime or what it is he wants to dismantle.

Posted by: Terri Goon at May 9, 2018 12:26 PM
But johngalt thinks:

First let me just apply a bit of salve - it's quite possible that the deep and wide denunciations of Blankenship, including by Trump himself, changed voters minds. Sometimes overreaction has a positive effect. And if the result had been different, it wouldn't have been overreaction. [Werner Heisenberg had something important to say on this point.]

Terri's question is apropos, but I sense that you're venting more than predicting. If not then I would also ask, what do you consider "get back to normal" to look like?

Finally, did you see the meme that Cocaine Mitch Tweeted after Blankenship hit the blankenberg? (Of course you did, you retweeted it.) Mitch looks like he's standing and smiling in an airborne cloud of white powder! OMG.

Posted by: johngalt at May 9, 2018 2:31 PM
But jk thinks:

I thought you both were more used to me by now. I was totally, 100% kidding about President Trump's usurping the electoral process and staying in office. Tongue firmly in cheek -- promise.

And the Ohio primary results were favorable too. If my Town of residence had not belly-flopped into the deep end of Boulderism last night, I'd be politically quite content.

Posted by: jk at May 9, 2018 2:53 PM
But jk thinks:

James Freeman has a funny angle: you win a primary and every headline features the name of the guy you beat.

Posted by: jk at May 9, 2018 4:21 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

Religious wacko? Hey! I resemble that remark! (you should see some of my friends when I try to describe fasting...)

Posted by: nanobrewer at May 22, 2018 12:04 AM

May 7, 2018



The Look of Love

Burt Bacharach and Hal David ©1967

Live at the Coffeehouse dot Com


But johngalt thinks:

What has happened to me? After hearing Burt Bacharach's name and his many popular songs on my dad's "Hi-Fi" as a lad, I have at last begun to appreciate them.

Nice variation here. I admire your talents.

Posted by: johngalt at May 8, 2018 4:30 PM
But jk thinks:

Many thanks!

Posted by: jk at May 8, 2018 4:38 PM

Wait a Minute, I've Seen This Before

Let us inaugurate the 117th Congress category and briefly toast this humble blog's longevity.

And we open with -- WHOOOBOY! -- Don Blankenship, running for the GOP Senatorial nomination in West Virginia:

Jim Geraghty says:

(Separately from being a bad person, but in the category of being a bad candidate, his onscreen persona is . . . challenging. I've seen more natural and comfortable statements in hostage tapes.)

But, less amusingly:
If Republican primary voters in West Virginia select the worst possible candidate, right after Republican primary voters in Alabama chose the worst possible candidate . . . it starts to become really difficult to get emotionally invested in the fate of the Republican party. What's the point of pulling for this party if its voters keep nominating the worst possible choice over and over again?

To the President's credit, he has come out early and strongly against Blankenship. The worst part of the Roy Moore fiasco in Alabama was RNSC and Administration complacency.

But Terri Goon thinks:

In Alabama, neither Trump nor the RNC were rooting for Moore in the primary.
It was only after the voters had chosen their guy.
If Blankenship it will be curious to see their choice for round 2.

Posted by: Terri Goon at May 7, 2018 2:12 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Hmmm. Not a senate candidate from "central casting" but he's doing one thing I'll stand up and applaud - speaking out about government regulatory and judicial corruption. Whether running for senate or not is a good idea, opening the dome to let the sun shine in most certainly IS. Let's agree that his claims of unfair and even illegal prosecution deserve to be investigated, even though he was the CEO of an eevil coal company.

Posted by: johngalt at May 8, 2018 2:59 PM
But jk thinks:

1 . . .2 . . . 3 . . . 4 . . . 5 . . . 6 . . . 7 . . . 8 . . . 9 . . . 10


So, if a candidate does "one thing you'll applaud" it is fine for him to make outrageous, baseless accusations ("Cocaine Mitch?" Really? Out of any disagreements with the Majority Leader, the one thing I never leaped to was "Dude looks hopped up on Coke.") and FILTHY, real-live racist slurs against Secretary Chao.

No, no, no, no, no. He doesn't have a point. It's not worth looking into. If this is where the Republican party is -- and I fear it may be -- I cannot run from it quickly enough.

Posted by: jk at May 8, 2018 4:18 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"Cocaine Mitch" undoubtedly alludes to this: https://freedomoutpost.com/90-pounds-cocaine-seized-aboard-ship-owned-mitch-mcconnells-family/

Posted by: johngalt at May 8, 2018 4:38 PM
But jk thinks:

1 . . . 2 . . . 3 . . . oh, hell...

Thanks, I was not aware of the charges against his Father-in-laws' boat. It answers a question (I suspect Leader McConnell would be all the better for a few snorts).

It does not improve my impression of Mister Blankenship.

For the record, I defended Christine O'Donnell and Ken Buck. I wish they had not defeated more electable candidates but politics ain't beanbag.

I cannot and will not defend Todd Akin, Roy More, or -- now -- Don Blankenship. We are allowed to say "you may be of my party, but you do not speak for me."

Posted by: jk at May 8, 2018 4:54 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Turns out he only speaks for 1 in 5 WV Republicans. He finished in third place.

Posted by: johngalt at May 8, 2018 11:01 PM
But jk thinks:

Yessir. Mea culpas above.

Posted by: jk at May 9, 2018 11:38 AM

May 4, 2018

13-Dimensional Chess?

In his freewheeling interview on Fox & Friends, Trump told his hosts: "I would rather have a popular election, but it's a totally different campaign. If you're a runner, you're practicing for the hundred-yard dash as opposed to the mile. . . . To me, it's much easier to win the popular vote." -- Josiah Peterson
On what planet is that Republicanism?
But johngalt thinks:

If he thinks it's easier for him to win the popular vote than the electoral college - presumably by running a different campaign than the one Hillary bested him in the popular vote - then he really isn't a Republican. Only once since 1992 has a Republican won the popular vote.

Maybe in the 2020 election though, someone will run as a capitalist.

Posted by: johngalt at May 6, 2018 9:48 PM
But jk thinks:

Yeah, that was not really where I was going. Though your point is well taken.

I was hoping -- and I apologize in advance for the hyperbole -- for the briefest tether to governing or political philosophy over self-interest.

Of all the punditry in which I immerse myself, perhaps my favorite quip of all time is my blog brother's suggestion that the Republican Party might choose Republicanism as its governing philosophy. Bloody Brilliant, that is!

The Electoral College is the live beating heart of republicanism in the United States to me -- the last vestige of Madison.

Posted by: jk at May 7, 2018 11:09 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Little-r republicanism as a guiding principle for the big-R Republican party. Yessir, it's so simple it's brilliant. And many thanks for noticing! But why does it have to be said by a lonely blogger in a flyover state?

Do I wish that the president were a principled, fact-based statesman who could lead the nation and re-educate it at the same time? That candidate was Ted Cruz. I've been forced to support a president who leads and fights entrenched self-dealers instead. I've come to terms with that. You can't always get what you want, but if you're lucky, you can get what you need.

I'll push back on your claim that Trump chooses his own self-interest over principle. I find that he chooses against the interests of cronies, and in support of the individualistic American ideal, more than anything else.

The electoral college is Constitutional bedrock, 'tis true. I don't want to see it dismantled, or even dismissed or disrespected. But I'm not completely convinced that is what Trump did. I read his statement as saying he would rather campaign for a popular election, not that as a thoughtful citizen he believes it would in any way benefit the nation to move in that direction.

Posted by: johngalt at May 8, 2018 3:14 PM
But jk thinks:

Perhaps it was idle speculation. But one can be forgiven for wishing he had used it as a teachable moment.

Posted by: jk at May 8, 2018 4:23 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I think it was Gail Wynand, newspaper mogul, who went insane over the fact that the public didn't want to read what he thought they should read. That character comes to my mind quite often in the Trump era.


Posted by: johngalt at May 9, 2018 11:39 AM

May 3, 2018

Walk Down Memory Lane

Jeh Johnson.
Arne Duncan.
Tim Geithner.
Loretta Lynch.
Regina McCarthy.
Samantha Power.
Susan Rice.
Eric Holder.

I really miss seeing all of these names in the news, and knowing that they make decisions every day that effect the lives of American citizens in one way or another.


I'm actually quite pleased to be rid of them, and that a quite charitable accounting of the legacy of President Barack Obama is not really that charitable at all.

But jk thinks:

Fair. All of whom would have just beep promoted to a higher level of incompetence and mendacity in a Clinton Administration. I get it.

And, yet, the victories reinforce the party's move to populism (tribalism from enlightenment values after reading Jonah Goldberg's fantastic "Suicide of the West.")

Posted by: jk at May 4, 2018 1:19 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Tribalism is, in essence, socialism. Populism is something different, is it not? The idea that we can have individual rights and share certain values (c.f. individual rights, i.e. liberty) does not lead to de facto tribalism.

What specifically about a muscular resistance to and rollback of anti-American European style socialism (or worse) constitutes the literal "suicide" of the West?

Posted by: johngalt at May 4, 2018 3:04 PM
But jk thinks:

The book's point is that the two are similar and similarly destructive to enlightenment values.

Socialism, nationalism, communism, fascism, and authoritarianisms of every stripe are forms of tribalism. The tribal mind despises division. It despises the division of labor and the inequality it inevitably fosters. It despises the division between the religious and the secular, between the individual and the group, between civil society and the state. Whether it takes the form of religious orthodoxy, communist dogma, the divine right of kings, or some variant of "social justice" theory, the same underlying impulse rules: We must all be in it together.

I don't think he's objecting to reducing regulation. (Heh, I have his podcast on as I type, and he just celebrated three administration achievements.) But the #MAGA, wall, protectionist rhetoric is as tribal as anything Marx said. The President actually used the phrase "America First" approvingly. VP Pence celebrated Joe Arpaio's commitment to "rule of law" the other day. There are not conducive to enlightenment values.
And while my use of the term "pluralism" includes all of this, it also includes something even larger. Modernity both requires and creates a plurality of meaning and identity, not simply among the population, but within each and every person. This is in stark contrast to primitive society, where identity and meaning were bound up and inseparable from the tribe.

Goldberg, Jonah. Suicide of the West: How the Rebirth of Tribalism, Populism, Nationalism, and Identity Politics is Destroying American Democracy (Kindle Locations 1149-1151). The Crown Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Posted by: jk at May 4, 2018 4:00 PM

May 2, 2018

All Hail Freeman


April 30, 2018



Just Squeeze Me

Duke Ellington, lyrics Lee Gaines ©1941

Live at the Coffeehouse dot Com


April 26, 2018

Headline of the Day

"Yes We Kanye." -- Jim Geraghty

April 25, 2018

Released Today!

Looking forward to Jonah's book:

(Also, the EconTalk appearance is awesome!)

But johngalt thinks:
"Democracy is about disagreement. It's about having arguments."

"The whole point of the enlightenment was this idea that you could persuade people."

But just before those sentences Jonah said,

"A bunch of friggin' Nazis" (...) "say that they want to get rid of people like me and people like you."

Is Jonah truly concerned that such a sentiment holds any persuasive power over a free people? Has he no better ideas to counter with, that he suggests such voices must be silenced, or at the very least denounced? That it the tactic of the tribal, socialist, left.

Jonah decries "winning" and "strength" without acknowledging the enforced socio-political and socio-economic changes that Trumpism [strong, forceful, Americanism] rose up in resistance to.

Posted by: johngalt at May 4, 2018 3:22 PM
But jk thinks:

I had to go back and listen. Two points:

Uno: I enjoy this because of its cross-philosophical comity. The EconTalk podcast provides a richer view of teh book's thesis.

Dos: I think you're jettisoning context. Winning must be about ideas (~10:05), not just winning. The friggin' Nazis (~8:20) are actual self-proclaimed Nazis.

His employer's founder famously kicked the John Birchers out of the Conservative movement so that it could develop from teh fringe party that lost in '64 to win in a landslide twenty years later. If we elevate the Roy Moores, Joe Arpaios, and Steve Bannons, we lose not only the party but risk losing the Enlightenment.

Posted by: jk at May 4, 2018 4:34 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Actual self-proclaimed Nazis are the best kind, if not the only kind. They're also one of the most rightly-vilified groups on Earth. So why do so many find it so necessary to silence them? Let them speak, and instantly disqualify themselves from any serious consideration. No?

Posted by: johngalt at May 8, 2018 3:17 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"If there is any principle of the Constitution that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other, it is the principle of free thought ‚ÄĒ not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought we hate." Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., (United States v. Schwimmer, 1929).

"I have always been among those who believed that the greatest freedom of speech was the greatest safety, because if a man is a fool, the best thing to do is to encourage him to advertise the fact by speaking. It cannot be so easily discovered if you allow him to remain silent and look wise, but if you let him speak, the secret is out and the world knows that he is a fool. So it is by the exposure of folly that it is defeated; not by the seclusion of folly, and in this free air of free speech men get into that sort of communication with one another which constitutes the basis of all common achievement." Woodrow Wilson, "That Quick Comradeship of Letters," address at the Institute of France, Paris (May 10, 1919); in Ray Stannard Baker and William E. Dodd, eds., The Public Papers of Woodrow Wilson (1927), vol. 5, p. 484.

Posted by: johngalt at May 8, 2018 3:23 PM

April 24, 2018

Still Glad I'm not on the Left

Tyler Cowen appreciates free markets, but is quite far from being anyone's idea of "a right winger."

Prepare to feast on his "Holding Up a Mirror to the Intellectuals of the Left" to see the other guys get some serious -- and well deserved -- medicine.

I find that left-wing intellectuals complain more about the right wing than right-wing intellectuals complain about the left. This negative focus isnít healthy for the viability of left-wing intellectual creativity.

Probably the two best "market failure" books this year were written by colleagues of mine, coming out of libertarian traditions: Bryan Caplan and Robin Hanson (with Kevin Simler, whose background I'm not as familiar with). In Hanson's case, the book was intermingled with influences from science fiction. The left continues to produce plenty of content on market failure, but rarely am I surprised by the material.

I see social media as leading to more left-wing than right-wing intellectual conformity. If only because many more intellectuals are on the left, it is a more significant phenomenon where leaders on the left announce talking points, or the villain of the day, and their followers pick up the charge.

Still pretty disappointed with much on the right, but there is "a remannt" keeping the flame alive.

April 21, 2018

A Trainful of Libertarians

First, some props to Duke's Michael Munger. His "unicorns" riff is the best answer to dirigisme I know.

1. Go ahead, make your argument for what you want the State to do, and what you want the State to be in charge of.

2. Then, go back and look at your statement. Everywhere you said "the State," delete that phrase and replace it with "politicians I actually know, running in electoral systems with voters and interest groups that actually exist."

3. If you still believe your statement, then we have something to talk about.

Coloradans have two spectacular examples. The first is "the train to the plane." It's technical name is "the A-Line" and its official name is "The University of Colorado A Line." As in:


CU paid FIVE MILLION DOLLARS for the naming rights. prompting concerns that "that sure seems like a humongous waste of money" and "won't that confuse travellers as it does not go to the University?" Both pale to "wouldn't it be better to associate the University with Nazism or chlamydia than a train that is millions over budget, years late, and breaks down all the damn time?"

(Nobody calls it that anymore. They kept the money, but seemed to have graciously let them off the hook for aiding and abetting.)

It has been presented to the good people of Colorado that the project has turned a corner and is near complete. Because the gates don't work, they pay as much as $55/hour to have human flagpersons control the intersections. Some arrangement was made to drop them, but the trains blow loud horns near residential areas all day and all night.

While it stopped breaking down every day (Channel 9's Kyle Clarke had a daily feature on his news program "Is teh A-Line working today?") we may notg be out of the woods. Passengers were stuck on an overpass for almost three hours, with no bathrooms, water, food, or plight updates. Several Chicago Cubs fans missed the game they had flown in to see.


Not to put too fine a point on it, but this is 100-year-old technology. They had time and money. Unlike many transit projects, they had potential ridership. They had CU's $5 million Simoleans. And -- here's where Munger's unicorns come in -- they could not pull it off.

I'm running out of ones and zeroes, but the second Denver Metro example is teh VA Hospital in Aurora. This project -- run by the Feds -- makes the choo-choo look good. In the years that this project has been overdue, I've watched several large hospitals go from plain earth to open for surgery.

Yet people still line up to have The State unicorns take over.

But johngalt thinks:

Where is Benito Mussolini when transit boosters need him?

His "success" such as it was, is not hard to achieve. Simply place tight controls upon journalists and prioritize operations on all rail lines that carry tourists. Oh, wait.

Posted by: johngalt at April 23, 2018 2:23 PM

April 20, 2018

Be Very Careful What you Wish for

Colorado has gone to open primaries. Many people -- notably Jon Caldera -- have worried about the opportunity for shenanigans. Together with mail-in ballots and same day registration, a clever strategist could interfere with the other party's primary, especially if his or her preferred party was not competitive in the current cycle.

My general response is: "yeah, they could saddle us with Dan Maes for Governor and Ken Buck (HOSS - CD4) for Senate!" Those of you with a life or a location out of the Centennial State should know that refers to two uncompetitive candidates who were propelled by Tea Party enthusiasm to victory over more electable candidates.

Jim Geraghty ends his Morning Jolt newsletter with the 2016 version: the Clinton Camp's desire to run against the unelectable Donald J. Trump

ADDENDA: Who wanted Donald Trump to win the Republican presidential primary in 2016? Hillary Clinton's campaign.

From early on, the Clinton camp saw Trump as an enemy to encourage, Chozick writes. During the campaign, as had been previously reported, there was an effort to elevate Trump into a so-called Pied Piper in order to tie him to the mainstream of the Republican Party.

"An agenda for an upcoming campaign meeting sent by [Campaign Manager] Robby Mook's office asked, "How do we maximize Trump?" Chozick writes, describing a time when the GOP primary was still crowded.

I think we can consider Trump maximized now.

Be careful what you wish for!

I recall the sentiment in 2008. "If only the Democrats will elect that greenhorn, no-account Community Organizer, our principled statesman ***cough, cough, Senator McCain*** will sail to victory!'

I don't doubt some chicanery, but the idea that 13-dimensional string chess will work in electoral politics is flawed.

But johngalt thinks:

You forgot Darryl Glenn.

But don't be so quick to pile on ol' Ken. Finishing within 30,000 votes (out of 1.77 million) or 1.7 percentage points was very respectable given that the Maes debacle happened the same year, obliterating any coattails from the top of the ticket. And then there was the three-to-one spending advantage.

The "cowboy boots vs. high heels" and "homosexuality is a mental disorder" comments are memorable, but probably not decisive.

I'm optimistic about Colorado's new open primary. It allows unaffiliateds to play a significant role in choosing party nominees, so I expect a moderating effect.

Posted by: johngalt at April 20, 2018 6:28 PM
But jk thinks:

I was bein' nice.

Ha. Actually, I am less certain that Glenn knocked out a winnable opponent. An incumbent Senator is a challenge to knock off, even Senator Bennet (Backbencher - CO).

Rep. Buck is now my congressperson and I am a fan. But I think Jane Norton would have outperformed by at least 1.7%.

Posted by: jk at April 21, 2018 11:45 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Speaking of Darryl Glenn, he's running for U.S. Congress now and might have a decent chance now that the incumbent Republican Congressman Doug Lamborn is likely going to have to find honest work for a change. Glenn shares the primary ballot with state Senator Owen Hill and two political newcomers.

Posted by: johngalt at April 24, 2018 5:41 PM

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