June 30, 2012
Innovation 2, Malthusian Environmentalism 0
In any case, the United States of America is living proof that there are more ways to address environmental concerns than the green movement as a whole is willing to admit.
I did post the last one to Facebook -- about how Fracking was saving the world and all the cute fuzzy critters which inhabit it. Not a peep in reply. I'd like to think I won them over with reason, but I fear they've just completely given up on me. (NO PORKY! BREATHE FROM THE DIAPHRAGM!)
Hat-tip: Instapundit, who nails it with "The problem is, the way we did it provided insufficient opportuinites for graft."
June 29, 2012
How can I possibly put a new idea into your heads, if I do not first remove your delusions?
Dave Kopel and Ilya Somin
An interesting take on the Necessary & Proper Clause. From Dave Kopel
Interesting. Kopel is the scheduled speaker for the next Liberty on the Rocks -- Flatirons (July 9)
As part of the "get to know you" process here, I will post five of the songs I believe are the "greatest" ever. Of course, this is a highly personal thing; even Ayn Rand concluded that what music one loved could not be determined objectively. And I haven't heard every song ever written, either. Those caveats aside, on with the show. (Note: I am nominating the song, not a performance. But I'll always go with the writer as performer where applicable).
At Number 5 on the Greatest Song Charts:
"Sunday Morning Coming Down" by Kris Kristofferson
As the FNG at this superb site, I'm still learning the ropes and wanted to see if I could post images.
We learn from the Toronto Sun that Shera Bechard, citizen of the Dominion of Canada and former "girlfriend" of Hugh Hefner, has been admitted to the United States on an O-1 visa. The O-1 visa allows individuals of "extraordinary ability" to come to the United States for up to three years. It is often referred to as the "genius visa."
Among her other extraordinary accomplishments, Miss Bechard was "Miss November" in 2010 and started an online photo sharing craze called "Frisky Friday" through which women were encouraged to post photos of themselves in their underthings. On Fridays. Aside from the alliteration, we fail to understand the extraordinary nature of her abilities in this area, but back to our quest to successfully post a (tasteful) image on this site. We found ourselves unable to accomplish this, and resort to a link for your perusal to evaluate Miss Bechard's extraordinary qualifications for her visa:
We suppose that is genius, of a sort, but given the doctrine of stare decisis we are now wondering if most of the O-1 grants for the year are going to go to attractive women who are willing to disrobe for all the world to see.
UPDATE: (jk -- let me help with that embed, code, EW...)
Explaining why tax rates matter
Leftist politicians often argue that tax rates don't matter or at least ignore the implications. Here's a parable that might, perhaps, help some to grasp the concept.
Suppose there is a remote island with just two inhabitants, Joe and Bob. The government of our island offers Joe and Bob a choice: they can either work and earn $40,000 per year creating goods for export or the goverment will assure them of a "sustainable income" of $20,000 per year. Joe, being a go-getter, opts to create goods and live more comfortably on the higher income. Bob would prefer to stay home and play video games knowing that he can "get by" on $20k. The government has to balance its books (in our parable, there is no China from whom to borrow funds). In order to do so, it imposes a 50% income tax. Seeing this, if you were Joe, how long would you continue to work hard (or work at all)?
Now, try the same thought experiment start with a 10% tax and going up to 80% in increments.
One might think of this as the elasticity of labor, but that concept would leave our Lefist friends in the dust.
A Thought Experiment
The Refugee has been quiet on Three Sources of late, largely because he's rarely in a place where he can blog in a timely manner. That has not, however, limited his enjoyment thereof.
While killing time in an airport somewhere (they're all alike), he was reading the latest news about Greece and its protesters who continue to unashamedly demand the unearned. It made him think: If you offered someone either a job for $40,000 per year or $20,000 per year without working, which would most people choose?
The Refugee is going to posit this question to his kids - and they'd better not answer wrong.
Classic of the Year
In an opinion piece in today's WSJ, The Journal describe the ACA ruling as "a 1-4-4 decision." Classic. What a brilliant snippet of writing.
The Refugee would link, but then Rupert would have to kill him (or at least bug his cell phone).
Can Somebody Please 'Splain Me?
The Refugee. having been successfully talked off the roof following the Roberts decision, ruminated over a number of the implications while trying to answer how the Chief UnJustice could have arrived at such a conclusion. When interpreting the the Constitution, there is always the challenge of divining original intent based on the nuances of language. One can look to other writings of the Founders, but even then it is subject to language interpretation.
Not so in contemporary cases. In contemporary cases, not only are the people who wrote the laws alive, many are still in office. Want to know what they meant? Just ask 'em. Of course, the Supreme Court does not call witnesses, though that would be interesting. Nevertheless, the Solicitor General is the voice of the government. Presumably, he asked the president and congressional leaders what they meant. In all case, they said the ACA mandate was not meant to be a tax. (Queue montage of POTUS tax denials.) How, then, could Roberts have possibily concluded that it really is a tax? A judge is supposed to evaluate what is presented to him, not base decisions on some thought experiment. This may go down as the worst SCOTUS decision since Dred Scott.
In related ruminations, The Refugee cannot go along with those who say that Roberts cleverly undercut the Commerce Clause precidents. This line of reasoning is like someone dropping their sandwich in the river and thinking it a clever way to wash off the mold.
If this is clever rebuke of Wickard, does anyone think it was overturned? Nope.
“Anybody can become angry — that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way — that is not within everybody's power and is not easy.”
The Nicomachean Ethics
The essence of successful coaching, and parenting.
Happy Birthday, Frederic!
The great French economist, Frèdèric Bastiat, was born on June 29, 1801, 211 years ago today. He spent his advocating free markets, particularly free trade, and fighting the socialist policies of his native country. What makes him my hero is that he fought the good fight with great humor, wit and satire. His writings were so clear that they read like the good contemporary writing in The Economist or the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal. -- Bob McTeer (HOSS!)
Quote of the Day
For those of us who oppose the Affordable Care Act as a policy matter, this is a bad day. For those of us in this fight to preserve the limits of constitutional government, this is not a bad day. -- Randy BarnettThe quote is pulled out of an Ezra Klein piece of all things. The juicebox mafiosi has the unfortunate task of explaining to the left that Chief Roberts is an evil genius and that they have all been had.
I'd give it more credence if he did not make two errors in the lead paragraph. It's Charles EvanS Hughes -- and I don't know that being called a politician would be such an affront to the 1916 Republican Presidential Nominee.
Hat-tip: Paul Rahe who brings an interesting point I heard in passing on Kudlow last night.
There, let me add, is one other possibility. The version of Obamacare that became law originated in the Senate. The Constitution stipulates that all tax bills must originate in the House. Were I Randy Barnett, I would file another suit arguing that the mandate is unconstitutional because the Senate cannot originate tax bills.
The Non-Ideological Roberts Court
In 'Don't Squat With Yer Spurs On' Texas Bix Bender wrote, "When your work speaks for itself, don't interrupt." But I'm gonna interrupt.
This morning I wrote, "So my conclusion is that Roberts just didn't want to be villified as an "unelected emperor" who "took away America's free [unearned] health care."
This afternoon Charles Krauthammer wrote,
Whatever one thinks of the substance of Bush v. Gore, it did affect the reputation of the court. Roberts seems determined that there be no recurrence with ObamaCare. Hence his straining in his ObamaCare ruling to avoid a similar result — a 5-4 decision split along ideological lines that might be perceived as partisan and political.
I left the detailed explanation to the professional.
June 28, 2012
"Change absolutely starts with each of us, as individuals, taking responsibility for ourselves and our families because we know that our kids won't grow up healthy until our families start eating right and exercising more. That's on us," she said. "We know that we won't close that education gap until we turn off the TV, and supervise homework, attend those parent-teacher conferences, and serve as good role models for our own children."
Taken entirely as a stand-alone, without ad hominem: I agree.
Now let's apply this standard to everyone, all the time. I think if you're on government assistance, they should shut your television down.
Take responsibility. Bitches.
Ellis Wyatt, New at Three Sources
"Ellis Wyatt" is the nom-de-blog of a man who has spent the last 14 years in politics and government. A great admirer of the works of Ayn Rand and Robert A. Heinlein, his approach to life is perhaps best represented by the Neo-Victorian phyle in Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age.
He believes that his country, the United States of America, has been weakend spiritually, philosophically and educationally by Marxism and its branches: feminism, postmodernism and the quest for radical equality of outcome.
Ellis is not nearly as much of an ultra-uptight, upright a****** as you might expect from the above blah-blah, and his activities and pursuits include firearms and hunting, archery, chess, history and biography, and the moderate but hearty consumption of martinis, good scotch and Sam Admas lager. He has a liberal arts degree from a modest but high-quality university, and truly loves producing oil and gas but believes that if things don't change, at some time in the futre he may set his wells on fire and move to Colorado.
Another Sunny View
Our Marbury v Madison? Daniel Epps finds parallels. In Health Care Ruling, Roberts Steals a Move From John Marshall's Playbook
So the president was ready for the Court to break right or break left. But instead, Chief Justice Roberts juked. He agreed with the challengers that the mandate couldn't be justified under the Commerce Clause or even the Necessary and Proper Clause -- thereby reinforcing the narrative that the Democratic Congress overreached in passing the bill. His opinion -- though not the result -- may provide much help in the future to judicial conservatives, as it suggests that, with the dissent, five justices are in favor of a more aggressive role for the Court in policing the bounds of the Commerce Clause (and the Spending Clause, which was at issue in the Medicaid legislation). And while Roberts ultimately voted to uphold the Act, he did so on a ground that, for Obama, plays terribly: that it's a tax.
UPDATE: Taranto: We Blame George W. Bush:
His decision was a disappointment to those, including this columnist, who are anxious to be rid of this monstrous law. That will require legislative action. But on the most important question of constitutional doctrine, Roberts handed a big defeat to the legal left.
UPDATE II: Yet William Jacobson @ Legal Insurrection is not feelin' the love!
To paraphrase Joe Biden, I have just four words for you:
Quote of the Day
It will be hard to pick one today, but I am going with the guys at CNN who watched their own division report a prewritten story that the mandate had been struck down.
"Fucking humiliating," said one CNN veteran. "We had a chance to cover it right. And some people in here don't get what a big deal getting it wrong is. Morons."
Yup. I think I'll stick with this one. HT Insty
On occasion of today's historic Supreme Court "Obamacare" ruling...
Be wary of strong drink. It can make you shoot at tax collectors -- and miss.
Maybe the World IS ThreeSources
A good friend of this blog sends a link, suggesting "You asked for this type of debate. Here it is:"
This presidential election is "a choice," Romney said. "You can choose whether you want to have a larger and larger government, more and more intrusive in your life -- separating you and your doctor -- whether you're comfortable with more deficits, higher debt that we pass onto the coming generations. Whether you're willing to have the government put in place a plan that potentially causes you to lose the insurance that you like or whether instead you want to return to a time when the American people will have their own choice in healthcare. Where consumers will be able to make their choices as to what kind of health insurance they want."
More Silver Lining...
Before mine. ThreeSourcers now have $650 to fight over.
Constitution 1 - Taxpayers 0
Fellow freedom advocates, do not panic. Step back from the ledge. By a single vote the Supreme Court has avoided a catastrophic expansion of the Commerce Clause. The rest, as they say, is politics. Including Chief Justice Roberts' ruling:
"If an individual does not maintain health insurance, the only consequence is that he must make an additional payment to the IRS when he pays his taxes," Roberts writes. He adds that this means "the mandate is not a legal command to buy insurance. Rather, it makes going without insurance just another thing the Government taxes, like buying gasoline or earning an income."
Hmmm, that's pretty thin Jim. The minority counters:
Justice Anthony Kennedy, usually the court's swing vote, dissented, reading from the bench that he and three conservative justices believe "the entire Act before us is invalid in its entirety." In a 65-page dissent, he and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito dismissed Roberts' arguments, writing that there is a "mountain of evidence" that the mandate is not a tax. "To say that the Individual Mandate merely imposes a tax is not to interpret the statute but to rewrite it," they write.
Very persuasive. So my conclusion is that Roberts just didn't want to be villified as an "unelected emperor" who "took away America's free [unearned] health care." I agree with Yahoo News' Oliver Knox who writes-
But while Obama initially kept quiet, the early response from the law's main supporters and detractors showed that the court's ruling had essentially offered the Affordable Care Act only a reprieve, and that the law's fate was entwined with the results of the presidential election.
Finally, does anyone suppose that news outlets are falling all over themselves to get the "Obamacare Constitutional" message out as quickly as possible?
No mention of the name of that tenth justice.
UPDATE: As of 11:57 am EDT that headline has been changed to: Individual mandate survives a 5-4 vote with Roberts voting to keep it
Tweet of the Day
From the DNC -- so good it had to be retracted! Politico:
June 27, 2012
Other than that, the WaPo "Outsourcing" story was accurate.
Gov. Hickenlooper and the Bark Beetle Epidemic
A few stories found with the search terms "Hickenlooper" and "bark beetle" - arranged in chronological order.
Summit County: Forest health pow-wow at Keystone - November 14, 2010
Forest health, fire risks and wood utilization will be on the agenda at the Keystone Conference Center Nov. 15 as top state and federal officials hold a forest health summit meeting. This image by Derek Weidensee shows an area in Montana where a fire burned through stands of mature lodgepole pines, while an area cut previously for regeneration apparently withstood the blaze relatively unscathed.
“Scott’s success in selling paper will help Colorado effectively and efficiently move the large amount of bark beetle lumber from the forest and into the marketplace, creating tons of jobs and making lots of money,” Hickenlooper said. “This is a unique opportunity to resolve Colorado’s forest health and budget issues.” (...) “Scott will be a wonderful addition to our paper team, focusing particularly on the use of beetle kill in paper production,” Hickenlooper said. “We hired him based on his skills, personal drive and love for ‘That’s what she said’ jokes.”112 homes hit by northern Colo. fire - June 15, 2012
Firefighters have been in a see-saw battle with the northern Colorado blaze, extending their lines along the eastern flank but losing ground on the west and north sides as flames burn through a dry forest thick with trees killed by bark beetles. (...) Investigators said lightning triggered the fire, which is about 15 miles west of Fort Collins and 60 miles northwest of Denver. (...) The fire is burning on land owned by private parties and the U.S. Forest Service. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who oversees the Forest Service, is scheduled to meet with fire managers on Saturday.
Headline of the Day
Economists Without Calculators
Never Fear! The President is on his way!
I was worried about the wildfires, but it's going to be fine. The President will be here Friday.
I'm going to lift Insty's whole post:
PRESIDENT DISASTER: Obama finally remembers Colorado exists, will head there Friday; Update: What about aerial firefighting fleet he shrunk? "They didn’t want to talk about it."
Click through for some great President Obama bashing, of which I ne'er tire. A few points to ponder:
@VioletTiger2: Remember when the MSM got on Obama's case for not going to Colorado, like they did when Bush didn't go to NOLA? Yeah, neither do I.
And a good piece on The Administration's shrinking the firefighting aerial fleet. Fans of Brother Johngalt will recall hearing about this before.
Had some ideas for news related quotes today but was instead captivated by this one. It relates, in my mind at least, to the brief Yukon/Alaskan frontier banter in this comment thread, for in many ways, at least in the 19th century, there was much in common between Alaska and Luna City.
Women are scarce; aren't enough to go around – that makes them most valuable thing in Luna, more precious than ice or air, as men without women don't care whether they stay alive or not.
Tweet of the Day
I see the appeal of government. There ain't nothing better than spending somebody else's money. I love the vicarious thrill of guitar shopping with others. My bank balance remains, yet the endorphins are released.
I promised my productive, taxpaying ThreeSourcers that I would spend half the first year savings on my subsidized ReFi electing those who would not support such nonsense.
Without too fine a point, I feel I have committed to $1250. I've been through about $350 in the primaries and local races. I won't commit to doing the will of ThreeSourcers, but I'd love ideas and may well accept crowdsourced decision: where do you spend $900 to promote liberty?
I have met several local candidates through Liberty on the Rocks. And one might mike a life changing donation to a disciple of Bastiat and Karl Popper for an amount that drops in the ocean of a national campaign. The Senate is important and my pal John Cornyn (R$ - TX) makes a good case. Helping Gov. Romney out-raise the President (Money Panic?) seems worthy. I concluded in 2010 that Club for Growth or AFP, or another issue PAC was the way to go. The NRA is preparing to go after AG Holder in a big way.
Nine hundred bucks -- divide it up for me.
A Little Appreciation, Please!
Sen. Claire McCaskill (TV - MO), throws President Obama under the Bus!
From my biological brother via email:
June 26, 2012
All Hail Taranto!
It's all about the kids!
For the children! Idaho's Superintendent of Education, Tom Luna, had his truck vandalized.
Curiously and likely completely unrelated to the story, Luna is leading school reform in The Gem State.
Come November, Idahoans will vote on three referenda aimed at repealing what may be the nation's most sweeping education reform, including new limits on collective bargaining for teachers. Think of it as the sequel to Wisconsin, where similar reforms led to a similar effort--the attempted recall of Gov. Scott Walker.
Luna doesn't even have an education degree. I'm guessing the people who trashed his truck do.
That makes Mr. Luna an outlier within the education blob that runs our public school systems. It may also explain the boldness of the reforms he helped push through the state legislature in spring 2011. Called "Students Come First," it was a package of legislation that limits collective bargaining, introduces merit pay, and takes advantage of new technology to help give more Idaho students the education they need for college.
Weather is not climate!
'Bout ready to sign up with VP Gore. . . This is our fourth or fifth day of 100+ which is very rare. It hasn't rained since last Thanksgiving or so, and the entire state is on fire. But -- as I am always reminded when I comment on cool weather -- "weather is not climate." Except, of course when it works for the other guys -- then it is a "dangerous portent of climate change."
So let's all cool down. It seems the Antarctic shelf is not melting (as predicted) and the temperatures around it are cooler than predicted. Huh? #COMPUTERMODELFAIL ?
It turns out that past studies, which were based on computer models without any direct data for comparison or guidance, overestimate the water temperatures and extent of melting beneath the Fimbul Ice Shelf. This has led to the misconception, Hattermann said, that the ice shelf is losing mass at a faster rate than it is gaining mass, leading to an overall loss of mass.
Aaaah, Antarctic ice. . . I feel better. The quote is from the American Geophysical Union via The (UK) Register, via Lord Glenn of Knoxville.
UPDATE: 88° at 8:51 AM!
June 25, 2012
Half Empty? Half Full?
Or "That other Supreme Court decision." I just enjoyed the dueling headlines:
Liz Goodwin, Yahoo: Supreme Court upholds key part of Arizona immigration law
Mark Sherman, Yahoo/AP: High court rejects part of Arizona immigration law
Look for the Union Label
Great guest editorial in the WSJ today by Deborah Kenny on why charter schools work. My favorite bit:
Talented teachers don't want to be told exactly what to do and how to do it. So our schools get clear on objectives and get out of the way, allowing teachers to come up with their own ideas and to select whichever practices they think are best.
I remain astonished that the teachers in my family, most of whom I assume are awesome, remain convinced by the Union propaganda that they would not prosper in a merit environment.
June 24, 2012
The Official Softdrink of the Obama Campaign
Innovation vs. Government Direction
Tempted to start a Facebook fight with this. It's been a while, and this speaks well to my point. Yet this is our third day of triple digit heat, I fear there are two new fires (le Condo d'Amour is covered in dense smoke), and it is unlikely that anybody is in the mood. Of course, that has not slowed down my reason-deficient interlocutors.
But Walter Russell Meade points out -- and Insty links -- that free market innovation is doing more for the environment than (don't laugh) the UN and top-down controls:
As activists in Rio and around the world mourned the failure of yet another useless summit to do anything about climate change, good news on the CO2 front was coming from the country greens love to hate: the US.
[SPOILER ALERT!] IT'S FRACKING!
Right now, fracking is doing more to control carbon emissions than all the efforts of all the greens in the world. And by promoting American (and Chinese!) domestic energy production, it is doing more to lay the foundations of world peace than all the peace activists and disarmament campaigners in the world. And by creating more well paid blue collar jobs both in gas and oil extraction and in the manufacturing industries that will grow to exploit the new cheap energy sources, fracking strengthens the American economy and the tax base, providing revenues for both federal and state governments.
UPDATE: Well, I did put it on Facebook. Hang on...
I still have one chapter remaining of Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter. But Sunday Morning Review Corners are becoming habit.
It is an enjoyable yarn, well written, and there are several nice grace notes for somebody who follows the antebellum period closely. I guess it is a big deal now with a movie from the author's screenplay.
And that is my concern. It is to history what Jon Stewart is to current events. It -- and he -- are sort of right and basically well informed. Yet both are forced to trade the nuance of the facts for the yarn, the laugh, the story.
The War Between the States presents a rich depth of study in economics and liberty. Seth Grahame-Smith, like most high-school history teachers and Apu's Citizenship Test is forced to enforce the The-Civil-War-was-all-about-slavery meme. A new generation will use this book as a springboard to learn history (Yaay!). But they will start on a too prevalent misconception (Booo!)
DISCLAIMER: I am not ready to join the sympathizers. The existence of slavery was abhorrent enough to override -- and spoil for centuries if not all of time -- the high ideals of liberty and local governance embodied in the Confederacy. I'm not lining up with Lord Acton, but feel we must take a more nuanced view of this defining period of history.
That said, the book is fun. Four stars.
June 22, 2012
TJ Rodgers on Immigration
I all but wept. One of the great Hosses of all time hit it out of the park on Kudlow last night (Joe Kernen guest hosting).
Rodgers's bit starts at 4:50 if you don't have 10:46. I agree with every word and don't think I have heard it said better.
The whole concept that somehow people are dragging the economy is wrong, People are the economy. The intelligence and wealth they create is what creates the jobs.
UPDATE: And Reason reprises their superb What part of legal immigration don't you understand?
Abe vs. Angelus
I just started reading the Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter book. I promise a Review Corner. It is funny because my friend recommended it and right after I bought it, I have heard 1,000,000 people talking about it (Joe Kernen on Kudlow mentioned it).
Dan Seitz wonders how our 16th would fare against Angel.
Hat-tip: Whedonesque Blog. Love this comment from WhatsAStevedore:
Twelve score and 19 years ago, in Galway, Ireland, a drunken womanizing layabout by the name of Liam was sired into an immortal child of night.
Quote of the Day
Perhaps even worse, however, was that I got stood up by Iowahawk who had promised on Twitter that he would attend my talk. I was much chagrined by his absence. I was even more dismayed to learn that the cornhusking jingoist doesn't even live in Iowa. He lives in Chicago! As I explained to the audience, this is a scandal of enormous proportions. I haven't been this dismayed since I learned that Elizabeth Warren isn't an Indian and that the Cherokee don't eat crab. (I think it'd be awesome if they made like a Quest for Fire-type movie where the Cherokee of the 15th century made the roughly 700 mile trek to the ocean to find some crab and proactively verify Elizabeth Warren's cherished Indian recipes.) -- Jonah Goldberg [subscribe]
June 21, 2012
Liberty on the Rocks
Nice write up on Brother Bryan's stunning achievement from Ari Armstrong from the last meeting.
Quote of the Day
With MS, media bias and Hippotherapy in one story, we can drag it along another day!
Wow, O'Donnell is just inept. Bob Schieffer calls Ann Romney an Olympic athlete, and Mitt Romney corrects him on it ("In this case, it's not her personally"). Then, literally seconds later, O'Donnell pops up with his big canned-ham face and sneers, "Romney just claimed his wife is an Olympic athlete!" And then he says horses haven't really helped her with her MS because of Romney's tax returns or something. All for the purpose of claiming Romney is "rewriting" history.
Too Much Benefit of Doubt
Poor Bjorn Lombourg. He's gay, european, environmentalist, and a fulsome believer in Deleterious Anthropogenic Warming of the Globe. He respects NGOs and clearly sees a significant role for the United Nations in environmental and economic.
And yet, because he is capable of reason, all his friends are right-wingers -- like me. He is persona non-grata in the rest of the environmentalist community.
But his unfortunate habit of truth telling concerns cost vs. benefit -- where is the best place to put scarce resources? His guest editorial in the WSJ today concerns that, but he takes a sharper than usual look at why people still pursue climate change more than other projects that would be more cost effective.
Why then, do U.N. elites focus all their efforts on a feeble attempt to assist one person before successfully preventing 210 deaths? Because global warming feels more important--more hip. The majority of people in wealthy countries have lived their entire lives with clean air, clean water and electricity supplied through a grid. Air and water pollution is just old hat.
Almost as if the UN was more interested in control and power than people and the environment...
June 20, 2012
Human genome sequencing is cool. I think we all agree on that. Well, I think this is just as cool:
After five years of toil, a consortium of several hundred U.S. researchers has released a detailed census of the myriad bacteria, yeasts, viruses and amoebas that live, eat, excrete, reproduce and die in or on us.
It does sound quite disgusting but it could be as important in understanding human disease mechanisms as anything else previously discovered by modern medicine.
Each of us is home to about 100 trillion microscopic life forms — a figure that's about 10 times higher than the number of cells in the human body. In a 200-pound adult, these organisms can weigh a combined 2 to 6 pounds.
Think about this the next time you wash your hands with antibacterial soap. These bacteria are on you, in you, part of you.
The team had set out to identify a "core microbiome," a base-line set of flora that would always be found in the mouth, say, or the large intestine. They didn't really find this, but their analysis revealed that each place in the body seems to have a distinct set of metabolic abilities, be it digestion of sugars in the mouth or of complex carbohydrates in the large intestine. In different people, different microbes appear to be performing the same tasks.
The first hurdle is to understand that these bacteria are not all harmful. Some, in fact, are essential to our survival.
For many scientists, the chief hope is that the data will help them understand how subtle disturbances in the microbiome could be linked to medical disorders. From the first days of life when our guts become populated, these bugs help us get the nutrition we need, stop harmful bacteria from colonizing us and play a key role in shaping our immune system.
The article concludes with the obligatory cautions about overuse of antibiotics but these discoveries stir different ideas in my imagination. Ideas like, maybe this is an explanation for clinical efficacy of naturopathic medicines wherin the active ingredients are diluted almost to the point of oblivion. If they are acting on microbes these amounts may be materially significant. And then there's the observation that people who live together become more and more alike in some ways - if the microbiome helps define us then sharing microbiomes is a mechanism for each of us to help define another. And beyond my feeble generalizations, just think what human engineering Robert A. Heinlein might have imagined with this knowledge!
The progressive left incorrectly claims that the TEA Party Movement is dead. Now, to be fair, they're claiming the Occupy Movement is dead.
[Van] Jones, in his speech to the conferees, pleaded with the activists to be as "courageous and determined" as the Occupy movement was, but he needled the left for being soft, comparing today's activists unfavorably with those of the civil rights era.
Today's RAHQOTD is in honor of, guess who.
A "critic" is a man who creates nothing and thereby feels qualified to judge the work of creative men. There is logic in this; he is unbiased — he hates all creative people equally.
Quote of the Day
Executive privilege is a vestige of Richard Nixon's desperate effort to conceal criminality in the Watergate scandal. The last thing Obama wanted to do, with the November election looming, was resort to the Nixon strategy (which, we should recall, failed in the end). And, again, if the Obama administration's story was true, they would want to release the documents that support it. -- Andrew McCarthy
Two Minute Hate
Now this is not in any way to make light of Laurence O'Donnell's difficulties with being a total bastard -- it's obviously a very difficult thing to bear. But that NBC gets a tax deduction for putting this derision on the air...
Hat-tip: Brother Keith, who linked to this in a comment below.
Wow. Just wow.
UPDATE: IBD: Which End Of The Horse Is Lawrence O’Donnell?
It is bad enough that MSNBC's Lawrence O’Donnell mocks Ann Romney for riding horses to treat her multiple sclerosis. But then shows what an ignoramus he is by saying that "dressage (competitive horse riding) does not appear in any of the more traditional courses of treatment" for MS.
UPDATE II: Here's dagny's last video promoted to embed:
Nope, no therapy, no athleticism.
UPDATE III: Neil Cavuto piles on quite humorously and forthrightly:
Ann Romney doesn't need my defense.
UPDATE III.V: (Oooh, there's video of Cavuto on the intertube thingy...):
Getting to like this guy...
June 19, 2012
Tweet of the Day
And we have a winner. . .
Tip of the hat to dagny for today's entry as answer to jk's post about how, and I paraphrase, "Everything is so unfairly rigged in favor of the conservative morality against the progressive morality:"
A rational anarchist believes that concepts, such as "state" and "society" and "government" have no existence save as physically exemplified in the acts of self-responsible individuals. He believes that it is impossible to shift blame, share blame, distribute blame ... as blame, guilt, responsibility are matters taking place inside human beings singly and nowhere else.
Dagny concludes, "The Public" as a term falls into the same category noted above as state, society, and government. This is the mistaken premise that makes that huff po article b******t as jk so eloquently states.
Quote of the Day
[Neil] Munro sickened the nation's politeness police by choosing his own moment to blurt out a question at a presidential press conference.Hat-tip: Instapundit
Almost as if they were Biased...
This has been making the rounds. But a great friend of this blog (no, the other one) sends a link to the perfect package. Even if you've read about it and know the story, watch MSNBC Selectively Edits Romney Speech For Laughs
Beyond its example for media perfidy, I have to say I am deeply impressed with Governor Romney's speech and delivery. Maybe the primary picked the best candidate? Heresy?
UPDATE: WOW! Mrs. Greenspan sets the record straight... sortof...well, really not.
UPDATE II: WaWa Wizards Worthy of Wonderment!
The thing is, their touchscreen ordering system is a great example innovative tech in daily use. It’s a brilliant, relatively recent application of touch screen technology for custom food orders. Other stores may have something similar, but I’ve never seen one in common use anywhere other than WaWas. (My Shop Rite has something similar for ordering cold cuts.) I doubt very much Mitchell has either.
Hat-tip: new blog friend @robert_pearson
Jonathan Haidt, Call your office!
I applauded last night's superb "Liberty on the Rocks -- Flatirons" gathering. Bradley Beck, spoke on "the importance of effective communication within the liberty movement." A recurring theme -- if not his directly -- was the other folks' competence at distilling ideas and appealing to the heart. I have certainly complained several times that I need to trot out 100 year old economics books while my Facebook friends can just show a picture of a poor child.
I will not let go of this smug superiority lightly, bit I must confess one absolute truth. Videlicet, that all of my leftist friends feel exactly the same. Oh those clever right wingers use all their Koch money and hire evil geniuses and package child molestation as a public good! Why oh why can't we have some brilliant people on our side?
Case in point is a link sent by a great friend of this blog. I noticed that Ann Althouse referred to the same article, but sugarch -- I mean our anonymous friend -- was first. It is painful, but I suggest you read it coast to coast.
In conservative politics, democracy is seen as providing the maximal liberty to seek one's self-interest without being responsible for the interests of others. The best people are those who are disciplined enough to be successful. Lack of success implies lack of discipline and character, which means you deserve your poverty. From this perspective, The Public is immoral, taking away incentives for greater discipline and personal success, and even standing in the way of maximizing private success. The truth that The Private depends upon The Public is hidden from this perspective. The Public is to be minimized or eliminated. To conservatives, it's a moral issue.
-- And there are far less appealing sections.
But the topic is how to appeal to these people or those they have influenced, and just saying "that is complete and total b******t!" is not going to work. George Lakoff is the West Coast' s answer to Noam Chomsky and I confess I don't know Elisabeth Wehling. They and their passionate followers are clearly beyond reach. But this is on HuffPo and will be passed around (no doubt I'll see on Facebook any minute now).
June 18, 2012
Keeping us Safe
Protection from enemies foreign and domestic, American League and National League
Not guilty on all counts. That's the return on millions of tax dollars, dozens of witnesses, ludicrous Congressional hearings and nine hours of deliberation. Today, a jury acquitted pitching great Roger Clemens on all counts of lying to Congress about steroids and human growth hormone.
Thankfully, there is nothing seriously wrong with the country of government that requires attention.
One might be tempted to suspect a sinister motive in the Air Tanker Deficit story posted below. But first one should read today's Robert A. Heinlein quote of the day:
You have attributed conditions to villainy that simply result from stupidity. -- RAH 'Logic of Empire' (1941); [this is one of the earliest known variants of an idea which has become known as Hanlon's razor.]
Obama cuts Fire Fighting Aircraft
According to blogger Sean Paige at the Monkey Wrenching America blog, a contract with Aero Union, a fire fighting company with seven 4-engine slurry bombers, was canceled during renewal negotiations in August, 2011. No reason was given, just "We don’t want the airplanes, have a nice life." This brought the US Forest Service air tanker fleet down to 11 heavy aircraft, and today it's only 9. The report cites Rep. Dan Lundgren(R-CA) saying the fleet was 40 planes a decade ago.
This reminds me of that old lefty bumper sticker, "Wouldn't it be great if the Air Force had to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber?" Apparently, now they do.
Liberty on the Rocks -- Tonight!
Join us on Monday, June 18th, where your featured speaker will be Distinguished Toastmaster, Bradley Beck, who will be discussing the importance of effective communication within the liberty movement, including an interactive group challenge! After Mr. Beck's presentation there will be a short Q&A session, followed by the opportunity to network with other local liberty supporters. Come for the event, stay for the food and networking -- you're guaranteed a great evening no matter what! This event is open to the public, you're welcome to bring friends!
Ralphie's Sports Tavern 585 E. SOUTH BOULDER RD., Louisville, CO 80027
June 17, 2012
Have a John Prine Fathers' Day
@JazzShaw says this is "so nice on Father's Day." Not sure I see the connection, but I don't need an excuse. One of the most haunting and real songs of all time.
Apples, Trees, Falling, Proximity...
Happy Fathers Day Mister Vice President!
On Saturday evening, Vice President Joe Biden's son and Delaware attorney general Beau Biden tried to attack presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, but the punch ended up hitting North Carolina's Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue instead.
Chip off the old block!
Close on the heels of Arthur Brooks's "The Road to Freedom" [Review Corner] comes another book on the morality of capitalism: Tom G. Palmer's The Morality of Capitalism: What Your Professors Won't Tell You.
This is a collection of essays, reprints and even an interview. The book is a verdant pasture for excerpting; I highlighted many quotes. But I'll share one from Jane Arunga, a Kenyan (see if she'll ever be President!) filmmaker. She argues for free market capitalism instead of foreign aid. The aid distorts the market as it always has concomitant regulation.
All of these regulations restrict our markets and our freedom. We are left purchasing goods and services that may not be of the highest quality or the best price, because we don’t have freedom of choice. That lack of freedom keeps us down and perpetuates poverty.
This is the second in a series to present "the other side" to college students. The first [Review Corner] was a collection of Bastiat essays. Either can be purchased for $0.99 on Kindle and both are worth quite a bit more. Four and a half stars because it could have been longer.
June 16, 2012
Freeman Dyson on Climate Change
And how did I miss this? Freeman Dyson from 2007 on the need for heretics in Science.
My first heresy says that all the fuss about global warming is grossly exaggerated. Here I am opposing the holy brotherhood of climate model experts and the crowd of deluded citizens who believe the numbers predicted by the computer models. Of course, they say, I have no degree in meteorology and I am therefore not qualified to speak. But I have studied the climate models and I know what they can do. The models solve the equations of fluid dynamics, and they do a very good job of describing the fluid motions of the atmosphere and the oceans. They do a very poor job of describing the clouds, the dust, the chemistry and the biology of fields and farms and forests. They do not begin to describe the real world that we live in. The real world is muddy and messy and full of things that we do not yet understand. It is much easier for a scientist to sit in an air-conditioned building and run computer models, than to put on winter clothes and measure what is really happening outside in the swamps and the clouds. That is why the climate model experts end up believing their own models.
Perfect weekend reading length. Hat-tip: Ed Kreyewski in Reason.
Article II, Section 3
I rarely imagine that I owe the world a post. Maybe if Governor Chris Christie released an album of Hayek quotes and Buffy lines set to jazz music, some readers might wonder what jk thought on the topic... but as a general rule I consider silence an option.
Yet President Obama's
In a speech last year to La Raza, a Hispanic civil rights organization that has criticized the White House for the lack of progress on immigration reform, President Obama mused that he'd like "to bypass Congress and change the laws on my own." He added, "Believe me, the idea of doing things on my own is very tempting. I promise you."
Looking at the demographics of swing states, President Constitutional Law Professor succumbed to temptation. Like his equally opportunistic stand on gay rights, I don't understand why even when I agree with the President, he cannot lead or craft bipartisan legislation. He has to demagogue the things I like.
John Yoo, the left's beta-noir for his envelope-pushing of Executive power, has an interesting article in NRO today.
There is a world of difference in refusing to enforce laws that violate the Constitution (Bush) and refusing to enforce laws because of disagreements over policy (Obama).
Among the exceptions, Yoo lists "prosecutorial discretion" which I defended on these pages as a legitimate tool for the DOJ to de-emphasize drug prosecutions. In both instances, I would prefer a clear and comprehensive legislative solution. And in both I would welcome a soft-pedal on enforcement while issues are resolved.
But the naked politics of this combined with the President's casual willingness to overstep executive authority is a step too far. It is also a reminder that he did NOTHING on gay rights or immigration with a Democratic Congress or with GOP Senators who have supported comprehensive reform. He'd rather demagogue than legislate.
UPDATE: Jim Mantle catches it in sub-140: @jimantle President Obama invokes the all-powerful Right Thing to Do clause in the Constitution.
UPDATE II: Blog friend Terri asks "Right thing for whom?"
He keeps setting up all of these new rules but they hardly ever seem fair to me.
Good points, all. This is, of course, one topic on which our blog friend and I do not see eye-too-eye. I agree that the rules are capricious and will even up the ante -- these laws are still on the books and will be enforced whenever it is politically expedient for this or any president or Secretary of Homeland Security.
June 15, 2012
Headline of the Day
3. Mitt Romney: Rigid Flip-Flopping Ideologue -- Robert Tracinski [subscribe]
President Obama's Personal, Private, "Super Legislature"
President Roosevelt famously threatened to stack the Supreme Court to obtain the rulings he wished. It now appears that President Obama may have outdone his New Deal predecessor with his "Obamacare" law. Obamacare's "Independent Payments Advisory Board" [IPAB] turns out to be more "independent" than it is "advisory."
In other words, to override IPAB's proposal completely, opponents must assemble a simple majority in the House and a three-fifths majority in the Senate and the president's signature.
Dagny thought this one should naturally follow yesterday's.
There is no worse tyranny than to force a man to pay for what he does not want merely because you think it would be good for him.
And the winning illustratory news story is (no surprise) Obamacare, as speculated on by Robert Reich
Most high-court observers think it will strike down the individual mandate in the Act that requires almost everyone to buy health insurance, as violating the Commerce Clause of the Constitution -- but will leave the rest of the new health care law intact.
Quote of the Day
Facing a 19 mile, 4,000 foot climb up Mt. Hamilton near San Jose, as I did on Memorial Day, plodders like me will think of Lance. An image of Lance in full grimace will come into our heads. Because Lance suffered to become the greatest Tour de France rider in history, and suffered before that to defeat a cancer that had gone into his brain and lungs, and suffered still more as a youth in a single-mom home, well, maybe we can suffer some, too.
"Professor Reynolds would caution against cockiness"
A very good friend of this blog sends a link to Dr. Krauthammer today:
What remains is a solid, stolid, gaffe-prone challenger for whom conservatism is a second language versus an incumbent with a record he cannot run on and signature policies -- Obamacare, the stimulus, cap-and-trade -- he hardly dare mention.
"Excited yet?" Asks our friend.
I'll accept the Romney critique, though I have been very pleased with the campaign so far. But the raps against the President and the excitement on the right are premature.
I will be cautious until the concession. The President has a winner today in stealing Sen. Rubio's DREAM-ACT-LITE. The Tancredo wing will overreact and we'll be the Old Straight White Boys club again.
When You've Lost Dana Milbank...
WOAH! Dana Milbank, WaPo: Skip the falsehoods, Mr. President, and give us a plan
I had high hopes for President Obama's speech on the economy. But instead of going to Ohio on Thursday with a compelling plan for the future, the president gave Americans a falsehood wrapped in a fallacy.
Milbank does not go on to endorse Gov. Romney or the Ryan Plan or 9-9-9 or anything. Republicans get some harsh words. Yet, none worse than these:
Of more concern is Obama's nonsensical claim that he has a deficit plan that would strengthen Medicare for the long haul. He has called for doubling Medicare spending over the next 10 years, to nearly $1 trillion in 2022. His cuts in the rate of growth amount to just a few percentage points. As The Post's Lori Montgomery has reported, the president's 2013 budget marked "the second year in a row Obama has ignored calls to restructure Social Security and Medicare entitlement programs."
Ow! That's gotta sting!
Hat-tip: Insty, in a collection of bad reviews.
Businessman Defends Capitalism!
It happens now and then. Andrew Puzder of CKE is a Hoss and Carl's Jr. probably offers the finest low carb burger in the hemisphere. If you get a chance, find Penn & Teller's B***S*** on fast food. He has also appeared on Stossel. They're not all Jeff Immelts, yet too many of them are ready to sell out the system that launched them.
Last night, however, Home Depot's Bernie Marcus was on Kudlow & Company with Governor Howard Dean. Jason Mattera tweeted from the green room: "Home Depot founder is destroying Howard Dean right now on @larry_kudlow's show It's a beautiful thing."
And it is. I cannot find embed code, but I recommend you follow the link to read some of it and vote on the online poll "who won?" There is video there and while I don't like to tell people what to do, find some time to watch it. A beautiful thing indeed.
UPDATE: When I posted this morning, the online poll was running 50/50. I figured liberty was finished if half of CNBC's viewers thought the Gov got the better licks in. In an email with a good friend of this blog, I looked up the link and see it is now 79-19 for capitalism.
June 14, 2012
When You've Lost Jonathan Alter
Tough room over there at MSNBC
Hat-tip: Weasel Zippers
I'd suggest pronouncing the title as three syllables, but it is of course up to the individual.
What is not up to the individual is accepting a falsehood just because it is repeated. Case in point is "the auto bailout was necessary and successful because there was no private capital available." Ergo, the government bailouts were a huge success. Administration flacks mean "there was no private capital stupid enough to overpay and preserve overpriced UAW labor rates and work rules." Now we get closer to the truth.
When people ask for a specific example of the President acting outside the Constitution, I go first to the auto bailout. The preferred debt holders were deprived of their Fifth Amendment right to property without due process as their value was transferred to a preferred political constituency that would not have enjoyed a preference in court.
James Sherk and Todd Zywicki have a superb guest editorial in the Wall Street Journal today: Obama's United Auto Workers Bailout. It details many things that went wrong: unequal treatment for debt holders, preservation of unsustainable labor costs -- but also the cost to the treasury. The entire piece is awesome on stilts, but this comparison at the end really hit home:
Instead, President Obama gave over $26 billion to the UAW--more money than the U.S spent on foreign aid last year and 50% more than NASA's budget. None of that money kept factories running. Instead it sustained the above-average compensation of members of an influential union, sparing them from most of the sacrifices typically made in bankruptcy. Such spending does not serve the common good. President Obama did not bail out the auto industry. He bailed out the United Auto Workers.
I am NOT a Geek!
It comes as quite a shock. I work as a software developer. I watch Buffy. My eyesight is bad.
But a Facebook friend is at some computer conference in Orlando and posts this:
No. That's just too far. I posted that I'd use the cupholder to hold USB drives and a laser pointer.
Must be a yearning deep in human heart to stop other people from doing as they please. Rules, laws — always for other fellow. A murky part of us, something we had before we came down out of trees, and failed to shuck when we stood up. Because not one of those people said: Please pass this so that I won't be able to do something I know I should stop. Nyet, tovarishchee, was always something they hated to see neighbors doing. Stop them for their own good.
Allman explained that Wallace had been pulled over. He also called the D.C. cell phone ban “ridiculous,” saying D.C. likes to take your guns away so why not your cell phone? “I hope he flees then winds up on a cell phone tower saying he won’t be taken alive,” Allman said, joking that maybe Wallace just robbed a bank or held up a 7Eleven, which is of course hilarious.
Quote of the Day
Once unassailable politically, the environmental community is fracturing between those thoroughly allied to rent-seeking capitalists and the Democratic Party and those still primarily concerned with preserving nature. The Sierra Club, for example, objects to Brown’s attempt to exempt the high-speed line from environmental review. Some Greens also object to Brown-supported projects like the massive tortoise-roasting solar farm planned for the Mojave Desert. -- Joel KotkinHat-tip: Brother Keith via Facebook (Whole piece is great!)
June 13, 2012
I Like "Crying Man!"
Yes, I posted it. But let the record show I said:
Now, I get just as emotional during elections and don't mean to belittle this disappointed Wisconsinite. Just to enjoy it. Three times at most. Maybe four.
He went me one better. He called in to a Conservative talk radio show, introduced himself "the crying man" and attempted to engage the host. The host (man I just don't get talk radio) treated him very poorly.
Today he is again trying to reach Conservative talk radio listeners. And he is again facing ridicule.
I am passionate about the things I believe and I seek opportunities to engage with those who don't see things my way. Crying Man, I disagree with about everything I have heard you say, but if you want to talk on ThreeSources we will give you a fair hearing.
An armed society is a polite society.
The teens had just stolen the man’s 27-year-old female friend’s iPhone 4S. She had dropped the phone, and a teen had picked it up and taken it for himself.
Et tu ABC?
I don't know Devin Dwer at ABC News, but I am not feeling the love for the President here.
BALTIMORE -- As some high-profile Democrats question the focus of his pitch for a second term, President Obama today stuck closely to his well-worn script, telling a group of 500 donors here that the economy is moving in the right direction and that his policies will accelerate the recovery.
Hat-tip; Jim Geraghty [subscribe]
None Dare Call it Bias
Insty links to a The Hill story on a nutjob Democrat:
BROOKLYN, N.Y. -- Charles Barron calls Robert Mugabe and Moammar Gadhafi his "heroes." He compared Israel's government to the Nazis, says he won't salute the American flag, and once offered that he wanted to "slap" the nearest white person.
<ford_truck_guy_voice>It's free speech 101 baby, and I welcome the nutjob to the race.</ford_truck_guy_voice>
Yet it occurs that a similarly out-of-mainstream GOP candidate would be a big deal. Governor Romney would be forced to disavow him. And all my Facebook friends would post a NY Times story about him. But a crazy Democrat? Nothing to see here.
June 12, 2012
In honor of our new commenter Robert I'm going to attempt a daily quote by Robert A. Heinlein that relates to an issue of the day. This will surely test the limits of my Heinlein reading but I've no doubt dagny will have my back. We'll see how long I can keep it up.
Today, in homage to the WSJs pugilism of one Billy Tauzin (PULL PEDDLER - LA)
Reason is poor propaganda when opposed by the yammering, unceasing lies of shrewd and evil and self-serving men.
I'll admit right up front: I haven't read it, merely pulled it from Wikiquote.
Did I mention "Go to Hell!"?
I've been a shill and a stooge for Big Pharma since I started blogging. Sad to see that I was also a rube.
I did a smaller post on this a couple weeks back, but the WSJ Ed Page has exposed the cronyism to a larger extent than I feared.
On Friday House Republicans released more documents that expose the collusion between the health-care industry and the White House that produced ObamaCare, and what a story of crony capitalism it is. If the trove of emails proves anything, it's that the Tea Party isn't angry enough.
After that, the gloves come off and they get a bit angry. It is a lengthy column that will anger a sentient reader several times but it should be read. In full.
Quote of the Day
Technically President Reagan, but from a smart piece for Anne Sorock rebutting Gov. Jeb Bush's claim that Reagan's capacity for working with Democrats would have made him an outcast among Tea Partiers:
As Reagan said in his 1981 inaugural address, "From time to time we've been tempted to believe that society has become too complex to be managed by self-rule, that government by an elite group is superior to government for, by and of the people. Well, if no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else?"
Ahh Happy Days...
Recycling a half cubic yard of political mailers yesterday, I saw one from Jon Huntsman and was curious to see what that was about. Glad I was curious as it contained a $55 check.
The Governor says "Hi" to ThreeSources (well, mostly hb and me...)
June 11, 2012
I dug Brooks's book, and I think my favorite may have been his equating happiness with earned success. I fear some folks 'round these parts might object to his pejorative use of the G-Word, but I invite them to enjoy earned success.
Quote of the Day
Sen. Rand Paul's (HOSS - KY) pragmatic endorsement of Gov. Mitt Romney is not going down too well in certain quarters.
The Atlantic's John Hudson dubbed it the libertarian equivalent of the folk purists' reaction to Bob Dylan going electric. Some of these modern-day Pete Seegers directed their ire toward Ron Paul himself: "We will never vote for Romney or your flimsy son." -- W James Antle III
Libertario Delenda Est!
No Reasonable Democrats?
The problem is that many voters (myself included) don't think government jobs are just another sector. We want the number of housing and manufacturing jobs to keep growing--the more the merrier, all things being equal. We don't want the number government jobs to keep growing, in part because we pay for them without the assurances, offered in a competitive private economy, that we're getting our moneys worth or that the jobs are necessary at all. It's one thing to boost government jobs as a temporary stimulus measure. It's another thing to never let federal, state and local governments shrink to a more sustainable size. -- Mickey Kaus
June 10, 2012
How is anybody going to learn any history if it is written by historians? That's not a quip attempt, I am serious.
First a whole mess of stars to Kevin Costner for the History Channel's miniseries on the Hatfields & McCoys. It was well done. Costner brought money and star power and some big ticket crew to a cable special. If you missed it, I strongly recommend your trying to catch it.
I knew nothing of the story except that they feuded. While I enjoyed the miniseries, I wanted to read a bit more and see what they got right and what they missed. A little Kindle® shopping led me to Blood Feud by Lisa Alther: The Hatfields and the McCoys: The Epic Story of Murder and Vengeance
And for 11 chapters, murder & vengeance is what you get. Seriously, the descriptions of people and events throughout the feud are superb. While Costner's folks did a good job, a book is better suited to expressing ambiguity. Nobody knows what happened, and a researcher like Alther is faced with a McCoy book, a Hatfield book, oral histories and salacious journalism. Alther is humble but succeeds in a fair portrayal seeking outside references and corroboration.
I enjoyed the first 11 chapters and was ready to start dishing out the stars. The feud was complete and the loose ends were tied. Were this a miniseries the theme music would be swelling right about now -- and yet
And yet four full chapters and an epilogue remain. In this final third, Alther puts on her full professor hat and offers page after page of conventional academic nonsense.
I'm a big boy. I love history. And I am used to writers not sharing my liberty philosophy. I can roll my eyes at snarky asides and conventional wisdom. But it was as if the author went out for a cigarette and some evil grad student snuck in a hundred pages and sent the manuscript.
I highlighted a few lines from the last section. Why did they fight? She has a few interesting suggestions: genetic, economic, political, philosophical -- but the bulk is devoted to her theory of "daddy issues"
On the McCoy side, Perry Cline lost his father at age nine, leaving him vulnerable to the machinations of Devil Anse Hatfield. Frank Phillips never met his father, who was killed in the Civil War, and he spent much of his time trying to live up to his father's reputation for bravery. Harmon McCoy's sons lost him to murder when they were very young. Ranel and Harmon McCoy's father, Daniel, failed in his traditional responsibilities by giving them no land when they started families of their own. Ranel McCoy failed his own sons similarly. Daniel left a legacy of shiftlessness, and Ranel of litigiousness.
Mmmkay. Then again, it could have been. No, you tell them:
If only the feudists had spent as much money and effort on acquiring contraception (which was, in fact, available in other regions of the United States at this time) as they did on acquiring guns, ammunition, and moonshine, a different scenario might have evolved. With fewer children, their farms could have remained intact instead of being constantly subdivided into ever-smaller plots. Those angry young hillbullies would have had secure livelihoods and perhaps wouldn't have felt such a compulsion to charge around the countryside on horseback, expressing their fury by creating such terror and misery for others.
But the real feud was the Appalachians against the wicked Corporations
Once again, while audiences gasped in horror at the outrageous behavior of the fictional feudists, they admired their ruthless aggression. As one writer puts it, "Those forces, which were shaping a new American business and political elite -- and hence American mass culture . . . found the idea of man's 'wolf-law' nature a useful indulgence, a justification for annihilating one's rivals
I left out the section on how great President Wilson was. I can email that if you'd like.
A sad and sour ending to an otherwise great book. Four-and-a-half stars for Introduction - Chapter 11; minus 2.5 for Chapter 12 - Epilogue. Two stars. But if you have Tyler Cowen's discipline and can put it down when she goes off, I'd recommend it highly!
Denver Post Scolds Sierra Club
Last week I noted that Sierra Club is preparing a "Beyond Natural Gas" advocacy effort as part of its "none of the above" energy strategy. Today the reactionary big-oil shills at the Denver Post editorial board joined my disapprobation.
The executive director of the influential environmental group recently wrote: "It's time to stop thinking of natural gas as a 'kinder, gentler' energy source."
Disapprobation of environmental extremism deserves approbation. I don't say this every day but ... bravo, Denver Post, bravo.
Quote of the Day
This is all he does now. But hey, unlike those inbred monarchies with their dukes and marquesses and whatnot, at least he gets out among the masses. Why, in a typical week, you’ll find him at a fundraiser at George Clooney's home in Los Angeles with Barbra Streisand and Salma Hayek. These are people who are in touch with the needs of ordinary Americans because they have played ordinary Americans in several of their movies. And then only four days later the president was in New York for a fundraiser hosted by Ricky Martin, the only man on the planet whose evolution on gayness took longer than Obama's. It's true that moneyed celebrities in, say, Pocatello or Tuscaloosa have not been able to tempt the president to hold a lavish fundraiser in Idaho or Alabama, but he does fly over them once in a while. Why, only a week ago, he was on Air Force One accompanied by Jon Bon Jovi en route to a fundraiser called Barack on Broadway. -- Mark SteynThe whole piece is hilarious. HT: Insty
June 9, 2012
Aspiring Tax Slave
Yes, I know that Three Sources is an intellectual blog.
Yes, I know that all children have feelings.
Yes, I know that everyone in this photograph is caucasian.
No, I couldn't resist.
"Can't stop the signal, Mal."
Our Miss Margaret
A clever developer could attach to this blog's database of entries and graph my appreciation for Peggy Noonan. It would look a lot like a chart of FB on NASDAQ. I went all in an Noonan stock when I read her "What I Saw at the Revolution," a book I bought for a dozen people trying to explain who I had become during the Reagan Administration.
Her 9/11 book was moving; she was perhaps born to write it. Crosses, Hearts and Flags are her domain and her capacity to provide emotion without treacle is unmatched.
Then, if I may try hand at her style, the little elitist grace notes developed into dissident chords (okay, she does it better). And by the time she went-all-Obama-on-us I had stopped listening. I read her only occasionally now, but will give her a quote of the day for this:
President Obama's problem now isn't what Wisconsin did, it's how he looks each day--careening around, always in flight, a superfluous figure. No one even looks to him for leadership now. He doesn't go to Wisconsin, where the fight is. He goes to Sarah Jessica Parker's place, where the money is.
Nailed it Peggy. Nailed it.
June 8, 2012
I should probably not compare this former Coke® executive to a weasel. I'm certain weasels have some positive benefit to the ecosystem. Todd Putnam not so much.
Putman, 51, shares that view. But he is also driven by another motive: From 1997 to mid-2000, he was a top marketing executive at Coca-Cola.
Thank all that is holy and decent that this brave whistleblower came forward to accept the accolades and approbation of the Washington Post and New York's mayor. What courage!
I read 100 tweets on this and just assumed it was a gotcha moment. James Pethokoukis brings the embed and it is cut so abruptly I assumed some Koch-Brothers-funded hack had removed the entire context.
Indeed he or she did. The whole quote is 1000 times worse!
The truth of the matter is that, as I said, we created 4.3 million jobs over the last 27 months, over 800,000 just this year alone. The private sector is doing fine. Where we're seeing weaknesses in our economy have to do with state and local government. Often times cuts initiated by, you know, Governors or mayors who are not getting the kind of help that they have in the past from the federal government and who don't have the same kind of flexibility as the federal government in dealing with fewer revenues coming in.
That is not out of context -- the private sector is "fine" thanks to the Administration's bold and thoughtful policies! It's GOVERNMENT that is being starved!
It's a Woman
"I'm a big believer in stuff. It can be very comforting. You can't have too much stuff. You have too little storage space. (...) As you get older, you hang on to pieces of detritus that keeps you connected with the past. It breaks my heart when I see people selling comics collections they've spent a lifetime collecting.
Two Polls on Gay Marriage
The GOP seems pretty certain that opposition to gay marriage is a political winner. Minnesotans are confident that a marriage amendment will bring out the conservatives, who will then pull levers for Republicans. The Colorado State House used parliamentary tactics to avoid a vote on civil unions, running out the clock and adjourning early -- Lyndon Johnson would have been proud.
It has been suggested on this blog that any immediate gains might be shortsighted, and I confer completely. Yet I am not at all convinced it is a winner this year: "Tie now, and Lose the Future! We attack at Dawn!"
The first poll is from Denver Post on Facebook
More Coloradans support allowing gays to marry than allowing them to form civil unions, a sort of marriage lite, although the Colorado constitution stipulates marriage can only be between a man and a woman. The poll was conducted May 21 through 24, just days after the Republican-controlled House of Representatives killed two civil union bills in high-profile maneuvers that garnered national attention.
Click through for some quibbles and potential biases on the poll, but targeting that 22% strikes me as short of being short sighted.
A good friend of the blog from that state with all the lakes sends a link to a new poll identifying a shift away from the Minnesota amendment.
ST. PAUL (WCCO) -- A new poll suggests Minnesota voters may reject a proposed constitutional amendment that would define marriage as only being between one man and one woman.
I'm biased as my idea of lasseiz faire leaves the government little power over defining marriage, but suggest that those who like this for pragmatic political reasons look over the numbers.
Quote of the Day
A reader submission, courtesy of a great friend of this blog from the Empire State:
A society of sheep must in time beget a government of wolves -- Bertrand de Jouvenel
June 7, 2012
Beyond Magical Unicorn Farts
That is where the American environmental extremist group Sierra Club must intend to take American energy consumers.
On Monday I wrote about the use of natural gas as a political alternative to more prevalent and less costly coal as a source of electric power. That effort is supported by Sierra Club in their "Beyond Coal" campaign. But they aren't waiting for Phase I of Operation Nineteenth Century to be completed before launching Phase II: "Beyond Natural Gas." (Not "natural" enough?) Sierra's strategic coordination leaves much room for improvement.
Natural gas drillers exploit government loopholes, ignore decades-old environmental protections, and disregard the health of entire communities. "Fracking," a violent process that dislodges gas deposits from shale rock formations is known to contaminate drinking water, pollute the air, and cause earthquakes. If drillers can’t extract natural gas without destroying landscapes and endangering the health of families, then we should not drill for natural gas. [Emphasis mine.]
After the requisite "what do you mean 'we' Kemosabe" the next thing I notice is how this message is designed to appeal to the feeler-perceiver contingent of the public but offers no evidence for the thinker-judgers among us. Fear, uncertainty and doubt anyone? Showing a glass of drinking water doctored with contaminants so expertly as to make Don Draper proud, the campaign against the hydraulic fracturing process seems to revolve mostly around the shorthand name for the method containing letters "F" and "K".
Blogger Jay F. Marks explains that Sierra Club took millions in donations from natural gas corporations for the purpose of bashing coal, but new Sierra Club director Michael Brune opened a new chapter in the war on reliable and affordable energy.
The Sierra Club once had a cozy relationship with the natural gas industry, taking more than $25 million in contributions from Chesapeake Energy Corp. and its subsidiaries to fund the fight against coal.
Let's fast forward, shall we?
Incoming Sierra Club executive director Barnaby Owleton said today that building and maintaining thousands of acres of monstrously large industrial machines to convert wind to electricity is a thorougly discredited process and a clear danger to migratory birds across the nation. "Extinction of multiple species is not just a possibility, but a certainty, if we don't act immediately to move Beyond Wind."One or two election cycles later...
Woody Weederstein, in his first official statement as new Sierra Club director, slammed the solar electric energy industry for the consequences imposed upon the areas of our planet that are permanently and unavoidably shaded by solar power conversion panels. "In the name of all that is green" he said, "we as Americans have no moral choice but to move Beyond Solar."
And after they succeed in eliminating energy produced by magical unicorn farts the only remaining strategy to "save the planet" will be energy efficiency, which is just another name for rationing. I have a better idea: Hey Sierra Club - Frack off.
Okay, even cooler...
The Venus transit as seen in the 171 wavelength. This channel is especially good at showing coronal loops -- the arcs extending off of the Sun where plasma moves along magnetic field lines. The brightest spots seen here are locations where the magnetic field near the surface is exceptionally strong
Hat-tip: Blog Brother AlexC on Facebook.
Smartest Piece Yet on Wisconsin Implications
I like a good gloat as much as the next guy. And I am satisfied beyond measure at the results of the failed recall in the Badger State. And I have considered Wisconsin as part of my GOP electoral map even before Tuesday. BUT!
Suggestions that the +13% Obama margin now constitutes a gimme are a bit overblown. Wisconsin will be in play, forcing the Obama campaign to spend resources there, and it might be turned red. Yet it is not presaged by Walker's survival and I hear some of my favorite right wing pundits being overly effusive.
Russ Douthat, however, places it in a proper perspective -- and one that will not offend ThreeSourcers.
Yesterday's recall vote is not necessarily a bellwether for the general election, not necessarily a sign that Mitt Romney can win a slew of purple states, not necessarily proof that the country is ready to throw in with Walker's fellow Wisconsinite Paul Ryan on issues of spending and taxation.
Douthat sees (and credits Jay Cost) an end to the moderate go-along-to-get-along politics that gave us a profligate George W. Bush and tax cutting William J. Clinton. The new era will be more philosophical but far more contentious because the easy, bipartisan stuff is no longer on the menu.
I'm paraphrasing poorly and strongly recommend he whole piece.
Quote of the Day
You didn't see it in the mainstream financial media Wednesday morning. But stocks loved Governor Scott Walker's spanking of public-sector unions and Democrats in Wisconsin. The Dow jumped about 165 points right at the opening on Wednesday, and was up over 200 points later in the day. There really was no other news. There was some speculation about central bank stimulus in Europe and the United States. Blah, blah, blah. But there was nothing specific or concrete. -- Larry Kudlow
June 6, 2012
Seen at lunch
The Weld County equivalent of Boulder's Subarus:
Otequay of the Ayday
But there are a lot of good people in that [Romney's Bain Capital] business doing good things. That's the point I was making.
If he keeps this up I predict a 50-state sweep for Romney. 1980 all over again. Well, okay, 44 states.
High Octane Gloating
Jim Geraghty celebrates Badger State elections with a quote:
"What is best in life? To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women."-- Conan the Barbarian.
And some video:
Now, I get just as emotional during elections and don't mean to belittle this disappointed Wisconsinite. Just to enjoy it. Three times at most. Maybe four.
UPDATE: And a new word: #Wisconsinfreude (via @CuffyMeh)
Best Venus Transit photo yet!
As advertised. NASA/SDO,AIA (Venus approaches the Sun's rim)
Quote of the Day
Thanking Scott Walker is exactly what the people of Wisconsin showed they wanted to do, both at the ballot box and last night. For all the countless hours volunteers put into to ensuring Walker and the others stayed in office, the people of Wisconsin are overwhelmed with gratitude for what his strength and courage has meant for their state. -- Anne Sorock @ Legal Insurrection.Or:
On the other hand, a journalist-reader who asks anonymity writes: "Over at memeorandum.com the AP, NYT and WaPo heds all say 'Walker survives' ... I dunno, 53-46 sounds more like 'Walker spanks.'" -- Insty
June 5, 2012
Fox projects the recall fails.
Million Dollar Idea
And I will let you all in on the ground floor.
Insty links to this Popular Mechanics post
Where has all the darkness gone? Appliances, toys, and gadgets fill our nighttime hours with an ever-present glow. In this edition of "Don't Ask Glenn," PM Tech Editor Glenn Derene says it's time to turn off the extraneous illumination.
The chances that designers will listen to either Glenn is low. I think constant LEDs are here to stay.
I was thinking of buying LetraSet® ScreenTone to tone down LEDs in le condo d'Amour. That would allow you to see if it were on but not light the world like the 1000W Ellipsoidal Green LED on front of my TiVo.
Would people buy this? No. I want to sell it as an advertising specialty. Give away a sheet at a trade show with 20 little 3/4" self adhesive dots and room to print the company's logo and URL. You could provide different screen percentages or just expect people to use two on a harsh one.
Girls and Guns
Certain things from the other side disturb me. Some make me roll my eyes. Some things opponents of liberty and prosperity do annoy me.
But there is a special place in my heart for Morgan Spurlock's "Supersize Me!" That pisses me off to no end. I get mad thinking about it. I get angry typing it.
I was actually on the Atkins diet with great success when it came out. Ergo, the movie bothered me nutritionally as McDonalds fare sans bun and ketchup is quick and easy "diet food" on the run.
And it bothered me economically. Spurlock finds an easy target in McDonalds as snobbery plus vegetarianism plus anti-Corporate bias leave the firm with few vocal defenders. My entire development team saw it and thought it was the greatest. These are some of the smartest guys I have ever worked with -- albeit in a PhD kind of way -- and I could not get them to see my side. I asked "what if you ate at The Mediterranean (a superb restaurant across the street from our office) every day? Have dessert if they offered? You'd gain 300 pounds."
Leading to the interstice between annoyance and visceral anger: the movie is mostly an affront to reason. It is NOT McDonalds which makes him fat. What makes him fat is turning off his decision process. Pussy 165 lb filmmakers should not eat 5,000 calories to prepare for a day of evaluating lighting choices. I don't think it matters whether it comes with a toy surprise.
Naughton ate nothing but fast food for 30 days, but with two important caveats:
Man, I feel better. Thanks for listening.
Liberty on the Rocks
Huzzahs to Blog Brother Bryan for a successful Liberty on the Rocks -- Flatirons meeting last night (that's a Facebook link).
Speaker Christopher Doss was most entertaining, provocative and educational; I also was able to meet several candidates, bore the house with two questions for the speaker -- and the food was good.
The group meets in the heart of Boulder County (Doss made some hilarious comments about Boulder from a national strategic perspective) every first and third Monday's at Ralphie's, 585 East South Boulder Road in Louisville. As a side note: anybody remember the name of the Italian restaurant in that space? I used to go all the time and hear Fred Shelton play.
Irrespective of the speaker, it is energizing to be in a room full of liberty lovers. I highly recommend attending. Of course, Blog Friend Terri and I cannot attend on the same evening. Were we to meet in person the space-time continuum would likely collapse...
June 4, 2012
Otequay of the Ayday
The Keynesian government-spending model has proved to be a complete failure. It's the Obama model. And it has produced such an anemic recovery that frankly, at 2% growth, we're back on the front end of a potential recession.
President Obama's War on Heat and Light
Last week I wrote about the Denver Post's utter bewilderment that presidential candidate Mitt Romney would give a stump speech in rural Craig, Colorado (after all, there haven't been any layoffs there ... yet) and countered with the news coverage of the event by Routt County's Steamboat Today.
Today that much more objective publication runs an editorial by Rob Douglas that delves deeper into the contrast that Governor Romney is offering.
Agree or disagree with Obama’s goal, one fact is undeniable. When Obama’s intent became public, every man and woman working in coal-related jobs realized that Obama had placed a bulls-eye on their livelihood. Many of those men and women call the Yampa Valley home.
But Douglas articulates a much more important message - one I have recognized but as yet not really written about: Coal is not the target. Pragmatic politicians cannot merely "sacrifice" the coal industry conifident in the fact that lost jobs will be replaced by growth in the natural gas industry. If coal is ever defeated the next environmental villain will be natural gas.
Coincidentally, on the same day Romney was speaking to the crowd gathered at Alice Pleasant Park in Craig, the Wall Street Journal reported that, according to the International Energy Agency, “global exploitation of shale gas reserves could transform the world’s energy supply by lowering prices, improving security and curbing carbon dioxide emissions, but the industry might be stopped in its tracks if it doesn’t work harder to resolve environmental concerns.”
And hydraulic fracturing is only the first battlefront in the coming War on Natural Gas. That little "feature" of natural gas called "curbing carbon dioxide emissions" will be its undoing for natural gas is not without CO2 emissions, and once its use has been predicated on reducing that "pollutant" it can hardly remain a viable energy source since it can also be shown to be a "dirty" fuel.
"First they came for the coal, and I said nothing."
Not me. I *heart* coal.
Libertario Delenda Est
Which post do you prefer?
1) Is this the stupidest thing ever?
Roemer, 68, received $285,479 from U.S. taxpayers. "We assumed no debt and we end this campaign with money in the bank," he said in a statement. "We ran like we intended to serve."
If I had checked a "Yes, I'd like to give $3 to a candidate I don't give a crap for" box on my 1040, I'd suggest that was "our money" in Roemers's bank.
2) Did you say Governor Gary Johnson?
Johnson recently received a $100,000 installment after applying for $146,603 in matching funds, according to the Federal Election Commission.
HOSS ALERT II!
(And perhaps III if you care to include Ms. Loesch.)
Proud of my Party Today
If you want less of something, tax it. So who ordered fewer innovative medical devices?
So though it is destined to die in the Democratic-run Senate, GOP leaders plan to push legislation through the House this week to repeal an excise tax on the makers of medical devices sold in the U.S. sales.
Yo! Crony capitalist Democrats! It was not innovators and creators of tomorrow's life saving devices that "agreed to pay in exchange for the tens of millions of new customers they will get." That was the existing manufacturers who like the status quo.
T.J. Rodgers on "The Buffett Rule:"
June 2, 2012
Our Tough-guy President
Blog friend Terri is reading the NYTimes so you don't have to.
I remember being concerned in 2008 that President-elect Obama would not be suitably tough with our nation's enemies. Like Terri, I don't now know what to make of our droneslayer emperor.
On the plus side, it does help to know that when a President becomes a president he/she will (usually) make the decisions that are needed to be made to keep us safe.
Was that one of them rhetorical questions?
I have another data point, if not a direct answer to Brother jg's superb post on "Underdogma."
[Author Michael] Prell's premise is that our country's electoral preference for collectivist policies stems not from ignorance, but from a healthy American proclivity to root for the underdog.
On my brother-in-law's recommendation, I just read Winston Groom's Patriotic Fire which details Andrew Jackson and Jean Laffite and the battle of New Orleans. Underdogs indeed.
I'll reach back to a pre-blog Review Corner. One of my favorites and a book that launched my interest in history is What If? A collection of counterfactual essays well, I'll let the subtitle say it: "The World's Foremost Military Historians Imagine What Might Have Been." This 12 year old book is cheaper in paperback than Kindle but it moved me because the continuation of our American Experiment is so improbable. It starts (working from memory) with Washington and the Battle of Brooklyn. Without an unusual fog to hide the General's audacious retreat, American Independence would have been a footnote in British textbooks.
Thirty years in, we find ourselves back at war with the world's foremost military and, much as I dig James Madison, things ain't going well. Then a curmudgeonly Anglophobe General leads a small band of untrained and ill-equipped militia and a band of pirates to defend a near-undefendable city. [Spoiler alert -- the US wins!]
Staggeringly improbable! A great read. Four stars.
June 1, 2012
In January, the Spanish government ended absurdly lavish subsidies for its renewable-energy industry, and the renewable-energy industry all but imploded. You could say it was never a renewable-energy industry at all. It was a government-subsidy industry where in exchange for creating conscience-soothing but otherwise inefficient windmills and solar panels, the government gave the makers piles of cash consumers never would have. -- Jonah GoldbergBloody spaniards! I'm glad we are so much more sophisticated over here.
What Crony Capitalism Looks Like
I have spent a lot of typing defending Big Pharma from those who do not understand innovation nor property rights.
But they can pretty much go to hell!
Newly released emails give an inside look at how the White House struck a deal with the pharmaceutical industry in 2009 to get support for the health bill that ultimately passed the next year.
Adam Smith nailed it in 1776.
[Interest] in any particular branch of trade or manufactures, is always in some respects different from, and even opposite to, that of the public...The proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order, ought always to be listened to with great precaution, and ought never be adopted till after having been long and carefully examined, not only with the most scrupulous, but with the most suspicious attention.
And Milton Friedman -- centuries later -- reminds that the interest of the corporation is to increase its asset value. And yet, this deal with the devil seems rather short-sighted. Even wicked guitar skills last a lifetime once bestowed. Government regulation will pull this "industry benefit" away the first chance it gets.