Maybe the world is ThreeSources -- add a #3src hashtag to post your tweets
April 20, 2015
Word of the Day
All Hail Taranto. Speaking of Will Saletan, he says:
His edentate logic has come back to gnaw him.
If anybody else needs to look it up: here ya go.
The Real Problem in Iran.
I disappointed blog siblings last week.
Apologies all around, but I cannot see meaningful progress in foreign policy while President Obama is in office. It is not that he is some Kenyan, anti-Colonialist, Socialist plant. He is a bit of an Arabist in the mold of President Carter, a pacifist/appeaser in the mold of the Harvard Faculty Lounge, and he refuses to let foreign expenditures affect his domestic agenda: we'll have no less butter because of guns.
Blog patron-saint Natan Sharansky has a column in the WaPo today which cleaves to the real issue. "When did America forget that it's America?" Sharansky compares the moral certitude of our objection to Soviet totalitarianism to moral ambivalence against Iran:
I am afraid that the real reason for the U.S. stance is not its assessment, however incorrect, of the two sides' respective interests but rather a tragic loss of moral self-confidence. While negotiating with the Soviet Union, U.S. administrations of all stripes felt certain of the moral superiority of their political system over the Soviet one. They felt they were speaking in the name of their people and the free world as a whole, while the leaders of the Soviet regime could speak for no one but themselves and the declining number of true believers still loyal to their ideology.
But in today's postmodern world, when asserting the superiority of liberal democracy over other regimes seems like the quaint relic of a colonialist past, even the United States appears to have lost the courage of its convictions.
You cannot fix this with Corker-Menendez, or a letter to the Ayatollah.
"When did America forget that it's America?"
I don't believe she did, per se. A majority of the minority of her voting-eligible citizens who actually went to the polls, chose younger/cooler... twice. [Was GWB younger OR cooler than Algore? Hmmm.] It wasn't a conscious decision to elect one of "the declining number of true believers still loyal to their [Soviet leaders] ideology." It just sorta happened. But now, after a hard and sustained tack to port, I am more confident than ever that America's keel is intact, and her moral certitude will return.
On topic: I don't think Sharansky believes America has forgotten, the piece at directed at our leadership which has.
Side topic: Merciful Zeus, yes. Governor Bush was two years older than the Vice President, but still a young 54 in 2000. Yet the VP suffered from an inability to project a vibrant personal image. My two favorite recollections from the debates are:
1. His (VP Gore's) weird alpha male attempt to intimidate Bush by standing beside him (I recently saw an interview with a debate coach -- they were actually expecting that).
2. In the middle of an answer by the Governor, the VP interrupted by shouting out "WHAT ABOUT DINGELL-NORWOOD???" in a voice that would have sealed the audition for "Revenge of the Nerds."
The less defensible examples of my theory are probably 1988 (Though Gov. Dukakis had zero coolness in the tank helmet) and 1984 (Mondale was neither young nor cool, but he did give several years to President Reagan.)
Quote of the Day
Tim Tebow to Sign with Eagles after Wandering in Desert for 40 Days -- Jim Geraghty
I told blog brother AlexC on Facebook that the upside was that he'd get to see me in an Iggles T-Shirt.
I still believe he is better than at least one of the 32 starting QBs in the league. It's hard to see him being competitive in Philly though. He might be in camp just to put competitive pressure on the rest of the corps. (That's pronounced "cohr" Mr. President.)
April 19, 2015
Drawing inferences about the movement of animals from their tracks-- as hunter-gatherer trackers do-- has obvious survival advantages, and we have been able to apply those inferential skills to everything from driving to the store to flying rockets to the moon. Historian of science and professional animal tracker Louis Liebenberg has, in fact, argued that our ability to reason scientifically is a by-product of fundamental skills for tracking game animals that our ancestors developed.
There is much to like about Michael Shermer's The Moral Arc: How Science and Reason Lead Humanity toward Truth, Justice, and Freedom
. Hell, the title alone ensared
two of my blog brothers. It is worth almost the entire $16.99 on Kindle just for the suggestion to evaluate "free," "democratic," or "rule of law" nations not on a binary scale but a contiguous one.
In general, the data show that liberal democracies with market economies are more prosperous, more peaceful, and fairer than any other form of governance and economic system. In particular, they found that democratic peace happens only when both members of a pair are democratic, but that trade works when either member of the pair has a market economy. 60 In other words, trade was even more important than democracy (although the latter is important for other reasons as well).
It is a great exegesis on the progress of society and science, it contains ThreeSources-friendly sections on law, trade, technology, and economics.
Jefferson, Franklin, Paine, and the others thought of social governance as a problem to be solved rather than as power to be grabbed. They thought of democracy in the same way that they thought of science-- as a method, not an ideology. They argued, in essence, that no one knows how to govern a nation, so we have to set up a system that allows for experimentation. Try this. Try that. Check the results. Repeat. That is the very heart of science. As Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1804, "No experiment can be more interesting than that we are now trying, and which we trust will end in establishing the fact, that man may be governed by reason and truth."
I come to praise Shermer, not pan him, but I am going to have to compare it unfavorably to two recent Review Corner targets.
The first is Alex Epstein's The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels [Review Corner] and not only because they are alphabetically adjacent when I sort my Kindle library by title. I withheld fractional stars from Epstein for being "too Objectivist" and I stand by that, because I think his book presents a compelling case without the philosophical underpinning specifically of "the standard of value as being human life."
Shermer is Editor of Skeptic Magazine and I was thinking this might be something of a big-O work, both from the recommendations I received and the relentless attacks on organized religion in the middle Part II: "The Moral Arc Applied." It is pretty rare that I skip material in a book, but each chapter in this section was "religion is responsible for everything bad, and you are mistaken about any good you feel it ever provided. Okay, got it, Champ, can we move on? I am nothing if not fair, I subscribe totally to the following example in concept and prose. But the extension to blaming slavery on the bible and discounting Christians' contributions to abolition wears thin. Quickly.
Why did they deserve an eternity of misery and submission? It was all for that one terrible sin, the first crime ever recorded in the history of humanity-- a thought crime, no less-- when that audacious autodidact Eve dared to educate herself by partaking of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Worse, she inveigled the first man-- the unsuspecting Adam-- to join her in choosing knowledge over ignorance. For the appalling crime of hearkening unto the voice of his wife, Yahweh condemned Adam to toil in thorn- and thistle-infested fields, and further condemned him to death, to return to the dust whence he came.
And yet, proceeding on to nuclear disarmament, animal rights, and a few snotty comments about CEOs, Shermer is no Objectivist. Perhaps if we sent Shermer and Epstein off on a lengthy camping trip, we'd get two superior thinkers.
The second, and more obvious comparison is Steven Pinker's The Better Angels of Our Nature [Review Corner]. Shermer quotes Pinker extensively and made no secret that his book is built on the idea of moral and scientific progress documented so well in Pinker's book. For me, that left the comparison always open and while I liked Shermer, I would tell anybody choosing one to read Pinker's (and save $7!)
The full Dawkins (never go Full Dawkins!) assault on religion is tolerable, especially to this atheist, but Mister Skeptic applies a far less critical gaze at social science. Part III relies on many "Psychological Studies:" oldies but goodies where people zap others with electricity, and many new ones, many based on fMRI technology -- of which I am a skeptic. The dog's brain lights up here when he sees a bone, the man's brain lights up here when you read him poetry -- this proves X. Interesting, but pacé climate models, I think they have come to be too trusting in their machines.
Tyler Cowan fans could read the first four chapters, then go watch the Stanley Cup playoffs and have a fantastic experience. It is a serious and noble effort and some of my negatives might be related to passages I found difficult, like animal rights and violent psychoses. But, occasionally the Review Corner hammer must be dropped. Two-point-seven-five stars.
April 17, 2015
Mea Maxima Culpa
I have long accused Reason magazine of holding GOP candidates to far higher standards than Democrats. I felt they had to show their independence, so they would bash every word of a Republican that wasn't doctrinaire libertarian, yet borderline socialists like Senator Barack Obama seemed to get a pass.
I may have been right then, but Matt Welch has been busting Senator Clinton's chops fairly regularly, and has given breathing room to GOP announcements as the mixed bag that they are.
Today, Welch delivers a crushing -- and well deserved -- blow to the entire Democratic field as tired, old, and bereft of ideas. The maraschino cherry on top is the most unflattering picture of Sec. Clinton you will see..
If there was to be a Tea Party-style wave of contested Democratic primaries (and there won't be any time soon), it would likely not be on the issues of drug policy or surveillance (alas!), but rather income inequality, Robin Hood taxes, and jacking up the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Progressives who think those are winning national issues may want to reflect that the only likely 2016 candidate to fully embrace them will be a geriatric socialist from Vermont.
So the base is trying desperately to foist the Blue State model onto recalcitrant Red State America; the party establishment is coughing up deeply unlovable dynastic schemers like Hillary Clinton and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and meanwhile the Clinton machine is neutralizing potential challengers by God knows what means. I know it's fashionable among some to bemoan the "clown show" of the 2016 Republican presidential field, but at least there's an actual contest there, and a detectable pulse.
Ow. That's gotta sting.
Hillary is this cycle's Bob Dole, but without the distinguished military career in her background. She'll probably lighten up and be more likeable after her likely electoral defeat. Nah, probably not.
Distinguished military career did not provide us a President Dole or McCain. The jk younger/cooler theory will be tested, but the "historic" gender is an untested variable.
Embracing the "Old Hotness"
Kim Strassel likes Sen. Marco Rubio just fine. Yet she prefers the Rubio who campaigned against incumbent Charlie Crist (Crist - FL) on the third-rail issue of entitlement reform.
That Marco Rubio--Rubio the Reformer--has been somewhat on show in recent months. He talks convincingly about the need for limited government, for a 21st-century economy, for a revamped and stronger foreign policy. Unlike Hillary Clinton, he isn't afraid to say how he'd do it. He's assembled an impressive campaign team; he has policy expertise. Moreover, he's young, an optimist, and has an inspiring history, as well as talent for connecting all this to his call for a renewal of American opportunity.
Yet the central question of a Rubio campaign--and the reason many in the GOP donor and activist community remain uncertain of what to make of it--is just how bold a reformer remains after five tough years in Washington. Mr. Rubio was hit in 2013 with a big conservative blowback to his Senate immigration reform bill, and it clearly made an impression. The Rubio who emerged from that experience has become a bit hypersensitive to politics in ways that undercut his reform credentials.
In other Rubio news, Ari Armstrong gives
a fair Objectivist overview of the "Good and Bad:"
Rubio's speech was short on policy details, but he did offer a broad outline of some of his main goals: He wants to "reform our tax code, reduce regulations, control spending, modernize our immigration laws and repeal and replace ObamaCare."
Refreshingly, Rubio does not toe the anti-immigrant line so common among conservatives. Instead, he favors legislation that, while flawed, would move in the direction of a rights-respecting immigration policy.
Regarding taxes, as James Pethokoukis points out, Rubio would modestly cut the "top tax rate on labor income . . . to 35 percent from 40 percent" and expand tax credits; however, I've seen no indication that he’d get serious about cutting federal spending.
Looking at all the elections since I was born "younger, cooler" seems to always win when there is a real disparity.
April 16, 2015
It might be a low blow. One could scour the Internet for flattering and unflattering clips of two candidates....
But frozen, fickken' NED on a stick -- tell me this is not descriptive: Chicks on the Right juxtapose a Sour-faced, dour Republican with a Woman of the People! through two TMZ clips.
I am guilty as the next guy of putting Mr. New Hotness in the second tier, but I keep an open mind.
Colorado Minimum Wage
A: Thank all that is sacred that we have a Republican State Senate.
B: Enjoy an archetype of progressive / libertarian argument: All Hail Caldara!
I had to just let that out first.
Okay, so the minimum wage that was indexed to inflation "has not kept up with inflation." Well, that all depends on the definition of what inflation is, doesn't it Mr. Clinton?
I will step over the opportunity to argue stealthflation again and instead, pursue a point Br'er jk will agree with - it is not inflation that the isn't keeping up with, it is prosperity. The minimum wage "isn't enough" anymore because a dynamic free-market economy has increased wages (and other compensation) for some, and government force is required to increase compensation for "all."
You left out a few A's. This is a great example of completely and trenchantly winning an argument but nobody cares. Your prosperity comment is well placed, but so is Caldara's response of "you just want more.
For Minorities, Rubio is "New Hotness"
On Monday the Inquisitr posted, "Marco Rubio May Have Just Stolen the Minority Vote From Hillary Clinton."
A look at Marco Rubio's platform as a Florida senator shows that he is very active in immigration reform, health reform, education, and government reform. Rubio's [sic] has also claimed to not be against state acceptance of gay marriage and state-funded abortions for women. Rubio does not agree with federal funding of most programs, which may cause hesitation to some. Overall, there are many areas on his platform that could make Marco Rubio a minority vote competitor for Hillary Clinton.
And those priorities also appeal well to young voters, along with unaffiliateds. I can see the general election ads now: "It's your choice, America: Old and busted, or new hotness?"
All Hail Taranto!
James Taranto picks up something I had missed. When Sec. Clinton joins her Democratic compatriots in blasting Citizens United v. FEC, there's a hidden gem -- an easter egg in software parlance -- the trial was about financing a movie critical of her!
Now, in a bitter foretaste of life in "a President Hillary Clinton world," Mrs. Clinton is urging an amendment to the Constitution to do away with the right to criticize her.
April 15, 2015
Regressive Colorado: Murder of Unborn Still Not a Crime
Works for me:
The fetal homicide bill introduced Tuesday by Senate President Bill Cadman includes an unborn child, at every stage of gestation from conception to live birth, as a "person" for the purposes of homicide and assault offenses.
However, it specifically says it does not apply to an act committed by the mother of her unborn child or a medical procedure performed by a physician or other licensed medical professional at the request of a mother of
her unborn child or the mother's legal guardian.
But not for Democrats:
Cadman told The Denver Post the bill protect's [sic] a woman's right to choose abortion, but Democrats decried it as an attempt to put "personhood" into law.
I decry the Democrats utter refusal to consider the humanity of unborn people. After all, the feds crossed this reasonable and obvious rubicon eleven years ago.
I called my position on this "reasonable and obvious." The Denver Post agrees.
A 2013 law made it a felony to unlawfully terminate a pregnancy, but it is a Class 3 felony with a sentencing range of 10 to 32 years unless the mother dies - when it becomes a Class 2 felony. The Class 3 felony is utterly inadequate.
Those rightwing nutjobs over at the NYTimes are just not going to let this private email server story go.
But Mrs. Clinton did not reply to the letter. And when the State Department answered in March 2013, nearly two months after she left office, it ignored the question and provided no response.
The query was posed to Mrs. Clinton in a Dec. 13, 2012, letter from Representative Darrell Issa, the Republican chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Mr. Issa was leading an investigation into how the Obama administration handled its officials' use of personal email.
"Have you or any senior agency official ever used a personal email account to conduct official business?" Mr. Issa wrote to Mrs. Clinton. "If so, please identify the account used."
Mr. Issa also asked Mrs. Clinton, "Does the agency require employees to certify on a periodic basis or at the end of their employment with the agency they have turned over any communications involving official business that they have sent or received using nonofficial accounts?"
Well yes, but...
Some pigs are more equal than others in Hillary's village.
Dear dagny is reserving her emotional investment until at least June but I will go on public record that I am on the Rocktober bandwagon already.
Arenado nearly doubled up the guy at third, too, which is even more incredible.
That said, part of my prescription for a successful season is to keep the starters healthy. Rest them regularly and coach them to hustle, but not take dangerous risks that could end their season. Nolan got away with it this time but even he said after the game he probably wouldn't do it if he had a do-over.
A most unexpectedly auspicious beginning.
A former bandmate loves to post lengthy diatribes on the Rockies as being the worst team in the history of sport and the Montfords as the worst owners. I mean, holy cow, it has been seven years since we were in the World Series -- you think fans in Chicago or Boston would put up with that?
I have enjoyed the season so far, but needling my strangely silent friend is the best part.
"Worst team in the history of sport"? I saw this headline this morning:
AARON HERNANDEZ CONVICTED OF MURDER; SENTENCED TO THE NEW YORK JETS
And I haven't even mentioned the Raiders. Not once.
And I'm no Patriots fan by any measure, but Brady had a good season, especially considering that all his best receivers were either out with injuries for half the season, on trial for murder, or catching passes from Peyton Manning.
I think these themes are pretty popular in Denver Sports Talk Radio. There are a few 24 x 7 and they gotta talk about something.
The Montford brothers do themselves no favors; they combine Sec. Clinton's deft ear for politics, Rep. Maxine Waters's charm, and The President's humility.
Are you kidding? Dick and Charlie Monfort are white male meat-packers. They profit from murder!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! They could be as suave, charming and humble as the day is long and would still never catch a break.
Heh: The comment password du jour is "hotdog." Heh.
Quote of the Day
I'm off the next two weeks finishing a book, and I can already tell you this is a terrible time to be away from the scene. Hillary Clinton's announcement followed by her dark-windowed SUV journey into deepest darkest America was the most inept, phony, shallow, slickily-slick and meaningless launch of a presidential candidacy I have ever seen. We have come to quite a pass when the Clintons can't even do the show business of politics well. -- Peggy Noonan
Those Bleedin' Greedy CEOs!!!
Sec. Clinton, at $300,000 per speech, makes half the average CEO's annual income in an hour. And the WSJ Ed Page reckons "more than 13,000 times the earnings of the typical worker."
Still, somebody has got to fight for the folks.
Mrs. Clinton said in her Sunday campaign video that the "deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top," and she would know based on her taste for amenities and expenses along with her speaking fees. "She insists on staying in the ‘presidential suite" of luxury hotels that she chooses anywhere in the world, including Las Vegas," the Las Vegas Review-Journal wrote last August. "She usually requires those who pay her six-figure fees for speeches to also provide a private jet for transportation--only a $39 million, 16-passenger Gulfstream G450 or larger will do."
There's one more way she and husband Bill have stacked the deck in their favor. The average worker--if she could even dream of pulling down $200,000 for an hour of work--would pay taxes on this income; Mrs. Clinton often doesn't.
By routing speaking fees through their family’s foundation, the Clintons ensure that the money won't be taxed before it is directed to support foundation travel, meals and promotional events, among other things. The highly compensated political influence peddlers at the top of the untaxed sector of the U.S. economy have found their champion.
Nice work if you can get it.
Hillary Diane has some nerve claiming to champion the middle class while she accepts cash gifts from foreign dictators valued in millions of dollars.
Cotton don't cotton
Tom Cotton holds forth with Jeffery Goldberg and does exceptionally well. Goldberg clearly does not agree with almost anything said, but gives Cotton fair questions (some hammered in) and a free range to reply.
Tom Cotton strikes me as the most interesting Senate freshman for any number of reasons
he is quite obviously positioned to lead the most hawkish wing of the Republican Party. He is exceedingly bright, and blessed with a wonk's mind—I will readily admit that his knowledge of Middle East minutiae is impressive, even if I disagree with much of his analysis. And he is a superior standard-bearer for the confront-Iran-before-it's-too-late faction in the Senate because, as an Iraq combat veteran, he cannot be labeled a chickenhawk.
The whole thing is worth reading.
The best quote from the newly-minted Senator probably is: It’s unfair to Neville Chamberlain to compare him to Barack Obama
I think that Americans—and this is not true just now, but over the years—are not fundamentally opposed to war. They're fundamentally opposed to losing wars
but perhaps most piercingly:
I think Obama believes that if America was less of a leader in the world, the world would probably be a better and more stable place.
He does not shrink from any confrontation, like any good leader:
Q; would you not be engaged in this negotiation at all? Would you issue an ultimatum?
A: I thought that Yuval Steinitz had a good list of proposed changes to the president's proposal, and I don't think you can argue those changes are unrealistic, because all he did was take all the statements that President Obama and John Kerry and Wendy Sherman made at the very outset of these negotiations about stockpiles of enriched uranium, about the past military dimensions of this program, about inspections and so forth. The positions he lists are positions that our government previously held.
and, most interestingly (and at odd with some TS'ers, I believe?)
Q; The idea that you are telling a foreign adversary, ‘Don't trust in our president—the man who's making our foreign policy?’ Did that cause you to ask yourself, 'Maybe I am undermining the executive branch?'
A:No, in part because the letter didn't say that. The letter simply stated indisputable facts of constitutional law, and Iran's leaders needed to hear that message, and they needed to hear it from us. What we did was certainly more measured than what past senators had done, in conciliating with people like Manuel Noriega, Bashar al-Assad, or Leonid Brezhnev. The difference is we openly stood up to a dictator, and in a lot of those past precedents, Senate Democrats privately conciliated and coddled dictators.
Goldberg is also refreshingly honest about the workaday Liberal obsession that he clearly adheres to:
back in 2006. When you were there, did it ever cross your mind, ‘We're in over our heads. What are we doing here?
The experience of Iraq taught me that once the kinetic piece starts, you just don’t know for sure what’s going to happen. And I don't know that you can predict the response of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps
[me, eyes rolling] Oh me oh my, sure; let's not make them MAD!! Sen Cotton, like the pro he is, swats these down indifferently.
More Cotton, faster please!
A very good interview -- and a good example of a Republican not getting rolled by an interviewer without appearing bellicose.
Sen. Cotton is perhaps a bit more bellicose against Iran than me. I think you keep your bad options always on the table, but I prefer the rhetoric of peace through strength. Tomato, tomahto.
But my real issue is that we have another year and a half with the Nobel Laureate in the Executive Mansion, and any talk of toughness is just talk. He's an historic guy on account of his complexion and he wants to sign historic things, whatever they say inside.
All for Congress asserting its prerogatives and all, but all one can really do is duck and cover until January 2017.
One may also call attention to the fecklessness of the Nobel Laureate, and all those who enable him. This voter awareness could be of value in November of 2016.
There is also political value in articulating dangers before the caca hits the ventilador, lest one be conflated with the enablers.
@JK - Cotton is perhaps a bit more bellicose against Iran than me
And likely a great deal more realistic. Frankly, the REAL option is regime change... but that's not for discussion in open forums. I'm glad he also mentioned BHO's blowing the opportunity to support the Green Revolters....
There is something that can be done: ensure loud & clear, that no back room deal will be lifting US sanctions (and with that, I don't think the EU block will go with any sub rosa deal BHO tries to float thru the UN).
Recall that Libs needs to talk vague and act even with even more subterfuge than a typical pol: they can't be honest w/ themselves, thereby with voters either.
Sunshine: the ultimate disinfectant!
April 14, 2015
I am slapping my forehead and shouting, “Doh!” How could I be so obtuse and fail to grasp the deep meaning of the symbols on offer from Democrats over the past several years. -- Thomas Lifson
All Hail Taranto!
"Hillary Clinton, who has embarked on a roughly 1,000 mile road trip after formally announcing her presidential bid on Sunday, was spotted at a Chipotle in Maumee, Ohio [Monday] afternoon," according to a Democratic Party press release prepared by employees of ABC News. -- James Taranto