November 30, 2012

Costco Dividend

I was very proud to not be a Costco member, when CEO Jim Sinegal took the stage at the Democratic Convention to do his part to elect the guy who was going to raise his taxes. It's a free country, and I certainly do not boycott Costco. It just doesn't appeal to the two of us in our humble condo. But I was glad to be off the list that night.

The WSJ Ed Page has a bit of sport as his expense today.

When President Obama needed a business executive to come to his campaign defense, Jim Sinegal was there. The Costco co-founder, director and former CEO even made a prime-time speech at the Democratic Party convention in Charlotte. So what a surprise this week to see that Mr. Sinegal and the rest of the Costco board voted to give themselves a special dividend to avoid Mr. Obama's looming tax increase. Is this what the President means by "tax fairness"?

Costco is one of more than 130 companies who are -- smartly -- increasing dividends or rolling them into 2012 to avoid President Obama's new rates. But I don't recall many of the other 129 being on stage primetime at the DNC. And, something else makes this special dividend all the more special:
More striking is that Costco also announced that it will borrow $3.5 billion to finance the special payout. Dividends are typically paid out of earnings, either current or accumulated. But so eager are the Costco executives to get out ahead of the tax man that they're taking on debt to do so.

I guess they're Democrats after all!
We think companies can do what they want with their cash, but it's certainly rare to see a public corporation weaken its balance sheet not for investment in the future but to make a one-time equity payout. It's a good illustration of the way that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's near-zero interest rates are combining with federal tax policy to distort business decisions.

One of the biggest dividend winners will be none other than Mr. Sinegal, who owns about two million shares, while his wife owns another 84,669. At $7 a share, the former CEO will take home roughly $14 million. At a 15% tax rate he'll get to keep nearly $12 million of that windfall, while at next year's rate of 43.4% he'd take home only about $8 million. That's a lot of extra cannoli.

But, next year will be so much more fair!

UPDATE: Larry Kudlow updates my number to 170 -- and throws in Major League Baseball's, notorious for deferring revenue, finishing free agent contracts with front loaded 2012 bonuses.

But johngalt thinks:

Yet still won't avert the painful cuts Romney was talking about. But what's national economic collapse in the face of "fairness?"

Posted by: johngalt at November 30, 2012 3:54 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Also notice what this does to the status notion that tax receipts versus tax rates can be statically calculated - blows it right off the page of the New York Times! (Well, an objective newspaper at any rate.) The idea that tax rate increases won't result in avoidance behavior, even by tax fairness "patriots" like Costco's CEO, must henceforth be null and void.

Posted by: johngalt at November 30, 2012 5:57 PM

Quote of the Day

Obama was permitted by the media to claim, or at least strongly imply, that the painful cuts Romney was talking about (and Obama, the Great Leader, was not talking about) could be averted simply by levying a small tax on the "richest 1%." It was a lie. It was further a lie the media assisted in. All those Fact Checks and not a single column noting that the central pillar of Barack Obama's Re-Election Strategy was a baldfaced lie that only the uninformed or innumerate could possibly believe.

The media is strongly complicit in this lie. -- Ace (Hat-tip Jim Geraghty

November 29, 2012

Just Wrong!

Do we require a new category for all our antipathy toward the great spiritual leaders of the world? I gotta be me. A drummer I've known for forever posts this on Facebook. It's from LoveMeditationCenter.

I will aggravate one blog friend by bashing a man he admires and I will annoy one blog brother by doing it on a weekend he is moving and cannot join in. But this is simply wrong and untrue.

It sounds great -- I can see the appeal. But it is at best a false dichotomy: "successful people" and "peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers and lovers of all kinds" are two different groups? Stephen King? JK Rowling? Joss Whedon? Dr. Phil? And if they were -- is it prima facie obvious that the latter is better? Another Bill Gates or another Mother Theresa?

This is perhaps harmless twaddle (although a guy in the middle of Atlas is not full of treacle forgiveness and twaddle tolerance). I would not put it with his embrace of Marxism. But twaddle is a known gateway drug to irrationality, is it not? Saying something that sounds good but is not is a special brand of perfidy.

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 6:53 PM | What do you think? [4]
But johngalt thinks:

And here we thought President Obama was king of the strawman argument. There's still a lot he could learn from the master.

Posted by: johngalt at November 30, 2012 3:51 AM
But jk thinks:

"Destruction is the only end that the mystics' creed has ever achieved, as it is the only end that you see them achieving today, and if the ravages wrought by their acts have not made them question their doctrines, if they profess to be moved by love, yet are not deterred by piles of human corpses, it is because the truth about their souls is worse than the obscene excuse you have allowed them, the excuse that the end justifies the means and that the horrors they practice are means to nobler ends. The truth is that those horrors are their ends."

Rand, Ayn (2005-04-21). Atlas Shrugged: (Centennial Edition) (p. 1046). Penguin Group. Kindle Edition.

Posted by: jk at December 2, 2012 12:49 PM
But Jk thinks:

QOTD.Read 'em and weep:

Posted by: Jk at December 2, 2012 10:35 PM
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

Moved, but still not too, too late to join in! :) I'll just add: What the planet really, really doesn't need is more guys who jet around the world in red robes, with every thread and plane ticket provided out of the subsistence income of poor schmucks who think he's some kind of GodMan. THAT'S what the planet doesn't need more of.

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at December 3, 2012 5:11 PM

Quote of the Day

The fact that both parties have at various times desperately wanted to get rid of the filibuster IS THE CHIEF THING RECOMMENDING IT. -- Daniel Foster
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

I am beginning the moving process to the fabulous new Wyatt family residence in about one probably won't hear from me for a few days, but back Monday on form!

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at November 29, 2012 3:36 PM
But jk thinks:

Best of luck, bro!

Posted by: jk at November 29, 2012 3:38 PM

Pop the Champagne corks! 2.7% GDP growth!

Or, as I suggested to a FB friend (our own LatteSipper) maybe the sound is 2Liter bottles of BigK® Store brand soda.

Tyler Durden has a dim assessment of the data. And James Pethokoukis suggests "Well, I think we have a final verdict on the Obama stimulus"

OK, I think we've seen enough here. It looks like 2012 will end on a weak note with most economists viewing 2013 as probably more of the same -- and that assumes we don't plunge over the fiscal cliff and suffer another recession. For comparison purposes, let's first review Obama White House economic forecasts since 2009:

1. In August of 2009, Team Obama predicted GDP would rise 4.3% in 2011, followed by 4.3% growth in 2012 (and 4.3% in 2013, too).

2. In its 2010 forecast, Team Obama predicted GDP would rise 3.5% in 2012, followed by 4.4% growth in 2013, 4.3% in 2014.

3. In its 2011 forecast, Team Obama predicted GDP would rise 3.1% in 2011, 4.0% in 2012, 4.5% in 2013, and 4.2% in 2014.

4. In its most recent forecast, Team Obama predicted GDP would rise 3.0% this year and next, and then 4.0% after that.

Instead, GDP grew 2.4% in 2010, and 1.8% last year. So far this year, quarterly growth has been 2.0%, 1.3%, and 2.7% -- with maybe 1.5% in the current quarter. Instead of quarter after quarter of 4% growth, we've had just two: The final quarters of 2009 and 2011. Other than those, weve haven't had a single quarter with growth higher than this quarter's 2.7%. It's why we still have massive employment and output gaps.

We lost to this guy...

But johngalt thinks:

... because, like capitalism, Chicago politics works every time it's tried.

Posted by: johngalt at November 29, 2012 3:17 PM



It Could Happen to You

Sadly, the last of the Sugarchuck Sessions: music by Jimmy Van Heusen and lyrics by Johnny Burke ©1944

Live at the Coffeehouse dot Com

November 28, 2012

Quote of the Day

Where wealth and livelihood are entailed, where teams act together and have time and incentive to think carefully, a good assumption is that people--management, labor--act rationally. Unfortunately, journalists who might be prepared to brave bullets in a war zone nonetheless lack simple courage to see what's in front of their eyes in a matter like the Twinkies bankruptcy. The reason is endemic: Not enough is at stake for the media itself to cause the media to prefer an uncomfortable truth when a comfortable fallacy is at hand. -- Holman Jenkins
Posted by John Kranz at 12:13 PM | What do you think? [3]
But dagny thinks:

"...a good assumption is that people--management, labor--act rationally."

Due to an odd twist of fate my birthday is on the same day of the year as famous philosopher Karl Marx. So I did some reading and studying about Marx many years ago. I reached the conclusion that the man was definitely a genius and the concept of from each according to his ability and to each according to his need was a beautiful idea, if you are an ant. It just doesn't work for human beings. Sort of like my beloved horses have the natural reactions of prey animals and no amount of training teaches them the reactions of predators.

In contrast to Mr. Marx, MY life philosophy is based on the idea that man is Rational. I thought Rationality was required to survive and pull us out of the caves and build cities. Lately, however, I have been wondering whether that premise deserves to be checked. Is it a good assumption that people, “act rationally?”

I predicted on these pages the day before the election that we would lose due to the trained irrationality of the electorate. Now I wonder if the irrationality is innate and I’m the aberration?

Posted by: dagny at November 29, 2012 6:08 PM
But jk thinks:

It does not help that the media do not "prefer an uncomfortable truth when a comfortable fallacy is at hand."

Yours is the concern that left me so despondent on November 7 -- are there really enough rational voters left and is there a way to reach them with factual information? My basic cheerfulness has kicked back in but I have not answered that question yet.

My überleftist, Bezerkley-grad niece shares your Birthday and is quite proud of the connection to Karl. I told her I loved Marx because I hold that ideas matter and people matter. That 100 million people died because of one person's bad ideas is proof.

Posted by: jk at November 29, 2012 6:47 PM
But dagny thinks:

Proof it may be. But those who are irrational cannot or will not connect the piles of bodies to the ideas that caused them.

Posted by: dagny at November 29, 2012 7:24 PM

A little shopping for myself on "75 Watt Wednesday"

Next-year's verboten lighting device:

"SYLVANIA 12510 75-Watt 130-Volt A19 Household Bulb, 24 Pack 75A CVP 24PK"
Tools & Home Improvement; $15.27
In Stock
Sold by: LLC

Contraband warm light and a possible currency in Second Term President Obama America.

Buy it through Insty.

Oil and Energy Posted by John Kranz at 11:58 AM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

Whoa, they're down to $11.19 per 24 pack now! (from "Life and Home")

Posted by: johngalt at November 28, 2012 3:27 PM
But jk thinks:

Yeahr but -- no Prime® It's a racket I tell you.

Posted by: jk at November 28, 2012 3:46 PM

GM is alive and Bin Laden is Dead!

Mickey Kaus:

We're Number 11!: Remember all the press hype about how Detroit made cars had for all practical purposes caught up with the Japanese in terms of reliabilty? Well, that was then. If you just got your December Consumer Reports you may have noticed that in the magazine's seemingly authoritative reliability survey Japanese nameplates took the top seven spots--Toyota is #1, followed by Mazda, Subaru and Honda. There isn't an American name in the top 10. You have to go to #11 before you hit a Detroit brand--Cadillac. ... P.S.: It seems almost like Japanese manufacturers are able to rebound more quickly when faced with challenges--as if they don't have some institutional impediment that prevents them from making rapid adjustements. ... How is that UAW organizing campaign going, anyway?

Almost like we propped up a failing system with government subsidies somehow...

The Union Label Posted by John Kranz at 11:04 AM | What do you think? [0]

Grover "Darth" Norquist

It would be funny, if we had not just had an election and an embassy attack, how the media portrays Grover Norquist as the villain.

This link takes you to a video with a pretty nuanced interview with Darth, but the portentous half photo well-represents the obsession. Republicans are not avoiding tax increases because they disagree -- mean old Grover got 'em drunk and made 'em sign a pledge!

113th Congress Posted by John Kranz at 10:33 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

I like FNC's "The Five" and DVR it daily. Earlier this week Bob Beckel, who I actually like even though he's a Democrat, was uncharacteristically harsh in his ad hominem against Grover: "He's an idiot." Said it at least 3 times.

Posted by: johngalt at November 29, 2012 12:57 PM

November 27, 2012

Mankiw on The "Master of Tax Avoidance "

The good professor offers four dents to Warren Buffett's armor as the noble wealthy knight of high taxation:

1. His company Berkshire Hathaway never pays a dividend but instead retains all earnings. So the return on this investment is entirely in the form of capital gains. By not paying dividends, he saves his investors (including himself) from having to immediately pay income tax on this income.

2. Mr Buffett is a long-term investor, so he rarely sells and realizes a capital gain. His unrealized capital gains are untaxed.

3. He is giving away much of his wealth to charity. He gets a deduction at the full market value of the stock he donates, most of which is unrealized (and therefore untaxed) capital gains.

4. When he dies, his heirs will get a stepped-up basis. The income tax will never collect any revenue from the substantial unrealized capital gains he has been accumulating.

I'd add that he sells financial instruments to aid customers with tax avoidance, and that Berkshire-Hathaway profits on the buy side when families sell out because they cannot afford estate taxes.

Y'know, Warren Buffett starts to make that Dalai Lama fellow look less bad...

But Bad Science thinks:

This talk about tax rates drives me to drink. Talk about the gross amount paid in taxes and the argument gets very different very rapidly.

Posted by: Bad Science at November 27, 2012 7:28 PM
But jk thinks:

@BadScience: cheers!

Posted by: jk at November 27, 2012 7:48 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Well at least he doesn't have bank accounts in the Cayman Islands like that 1%er LOOOZER Mitt Romney!

Sorry, couldn't resist a little Occupy snark.

Seriously, there is nothing wrong with Buffett avoiding as much tax as possible. What is wrong is his hypocrisy as he denounces others for doing the same thing.

Posted by: johngalt at November 28, 2012 12:30 AM
But jk thinks:

I find it one click past hypocrisy on the bad scale. These policies drive revenue to his businesses at the expense of others' property rights.

Posted by: jk at November 28, 2012 9:54 AM

Yearly 'dis the Consumer Week'

Blog friend Terri sums up my discontent -- with her usual panache.

Boo-freaking-hoo that somebody might shop on Black Friday or buy something on Cyber Monday or not -- and I confess this was new to me -- "give back" on Giving Tuesday:

I refuse to play anymore.

I went out on Black Friday (ooooh) in search of 40% off items not only for others, but for myself! I hate to shop and barely do it all year long so when the shopping season hits, I generally need something. Others (Hi Mom!) love to shop. I don't know if they went out on Black Friday or Saturday or whenever but this economy is run by consumers. We all ought to get a medal for spending a bit this last weekend so the retail stores can get a feel for how the season is going to be on them.

Clearly, Ayn Rand is up in Heaven, smiling down Christmas wishes for this! Thing whole the read.

Okay, that is kinda funny.

Slate link

2012 Election Posted by John Kranz at 5:38 PM | What do you think? [0]

Elections Have Consequences

I'm going to say it, chaps (and chapelles): we lost. Et tu, jk? Scoot over Saxby, make some room Billy.

While I think it is morally, philosophically, economically, and aesthetically wrong to raise tax rates on producers and remain 100% against it, that winning message did not take back the Senate nor change the occupants at 1600 Pennsylvania. No, it was not that clear and not half that rational, but underlying the nonsense, limited government did not win.

Many important fights lay ahead on ObamaCare, implementation of Dodd-Frank, SCOTUS picks &c. Obstruction will be important for four years. Let's not die on this hill. Let the Bush rates expire for the top 2%.

The economic harm of another temporary solution or a default will be much worse than a bump in tax rates. Clever folk will quickly find their way around them. And the regime will own the economy as it were.

UPDATE: Bill Wilson emails: Stop the Republican sellout on taxes. Guess I have not convinced everybody yet...

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 1:40 PM | What do you think? [8]
But Steve D thinks:

I thought the Republicans won the house (parliament) and therefore the election and so therefore they have a mandate to legislate. That's the way a democracy usually works. The president's job is to enforce the laws the Congress decides upon.

Posted by: Steve D at November 27, 2012 4:46 PM
But jk thinks:

I'd surely love to see a reduced role for the Executive, SteveD. And the GOP is within rights to claim victory in the House.

But with the Democrats holding the Senate and White House, we're in for at least two years of brutally divided government. The only thing in the whole wide world that Democrats care about is raising taxes on rich people. Though I hate it, I'd give it to them. Ideally zero Republican votes, but no filibuster.

When the deficit is still a freaking trillion dollars, it won't be because of the eevil Bush tax cuts but rather the eevil Obama spending. Then the GOP would have dry powder for a fight on the Keystone Pipeline.

Posted by: jk at November 27, 2012 5:14 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I don't personally know our friend Steve but I suspect he was being sarcastic. For all the wailing about the Virtue of democracy, Democrats don't control the chamber affectionately called "The People's House." But since that majority disagrees with Democrats, never mind.

Point of order: Since there are 47 Republicans in the Senate, and since rules require 60 votes to bring measures to a vote, zero Republican votes is effectively a filibuster (unless the Democrats use the "reconciliation" procedure.)

Posted by: johngalt at November 27, 2012 6:38 PM
But jk thinks:

Rilly? It takes 60 to invoke cloture. If the majority is not delaying, I'm not certain that the votes would be required. If it is, let Susan Collins and a few cohorts vote to have a vote if needed.

I was more worried about the parliamentary tactics in the House and wondered about reconciliation. I'd like to keep GOP fingerprints off of it as much as possible. Of course, they are scheduled to expire, so it is not really a vote to raise them.

Posted by: jk at November 27, 2012 7:04 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Not totally sure since I'm not a parlimentarian but my sense has been that the Senate can't order lunch without 60 votes. It's not worth researching though because if Harry Reid doesn't like the rules he'll change or ignore them.

(Cynical much? Yup.)

Posted by: johngalt at November 28, 2012 3:18 PM
But jk thinks:

I'm extremely concerned; it can happen at any time and will push us one giant step closer to pure democracy. They'll probably trade "the nuclear option" for concessions on appointments just as the GOP did.

Not a parliamentarian myself, but the 60 (was 66 until LBJ) is required for cloture to shut down a filibuster. Knowing this, the leader just assumes he or she needs them. But if the minority caucus telegraphed that they had no intention of delaying a vote, I think it could happen with 51.

Posted by: jk at November 28, 2012 3:51 PM

Just in Time!

The Jon Huntsman campaign sent me a refund for the T-Shirts I had purchased before they folded (the campaign folded, not the shirts...) I wished they had honored the order so I could parade around "don't blame me, I voted for..."

Yet I don't know whether I have the same enthusiasm for today's delivery:

Oh well, I can use them, plus Christmas is coming for some lefty relatives...

2012 Election Posted by John Kranz at 1:13 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Just imagine the defacement those relatives would be compelled to do prior to using these cups.

Where we might editorialize, "Not able to morally defend his own liftime of achievement" they'd probably resort to "1%er LOOOOZER" or "Take that bitches!"

Posted by: johngalt at November 27, 2012 2:46 PM

November 26, 2012

Democracy Perfected

When a candidate for public office faces the voters he does not face men of sense; he faces a mob of men whose chief distinguishing mark is the fact that they are quite incapable of weighing ideas, or even of comprehending any save the most elemental -- men whose whole thinking is done in terms of emotion, and whose dominant emotion is dread of what they cannot understand. So confronted, the candidate must either bark with the pack or be lost... All the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre -- the man who can most adeptly disperse the notion that his mind is a virtual vacuum. The Presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron. - H.L. Mencken, Baltimore Sun, 26 July 1920

Investor's Editorial cartoonist Michael Ramirez puts this in historical perspective, thusly.

But jk thinks:

Good and hard.

Posted by: jk at November 26, 2012 3:39 PM

Liberty on the Rocks

** Due to an unexpected illness, tonight's guest speaker has been changed. **

Join us on Monday, November 26th, where your special guest speaker will be Mr. Harris Kenny, Policy Analyst for the Reason Foundation, who will be discussing the economic implications of Amendment 64. After Mr. Kenny's presentation there will be short Q&A, 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 w

This event is open to the public, bring your friends!

Miller's Grill Lafayette 6:00 - 9:00

But jk thinks:

What izzit with ThreeSourcers and insanely adorable daughters? Blog brother nanobrewer made a cameo appearance with two super charmers. If we ever have a cute-off, things could get ugly.

Great talk. December 8 is the last of the year and will feature Colorado liberty-icon Jon Caldera. The owner is threatening to put us upstairs in the big room if we have a big crowd.

Posted by: jk at November 27, 2012 6:24 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

Thanks JK, but don't tell Demetra she's cute! She's already a handfull...

The talk was interesting, that which I heard (one girl was not feeling well), but was really not a healthy topic for a family man who is educating his children on the danger of drugs (yes, the speaker noted "illicit" and I am attempting to differentiate drugs like alcohol), and how they helped the children's mother disintegrate.

It reminds me how some (most?) of the Libertarian's credo is not well aligned to a society in need of good men to do good deeds... and surely now is not the time for good men to do nothing!

Posted by: nanobrewer at November 28, 2012 1:24 AM
But jk thinks:

I feared the last-minute topic change did not serve your interests. Too bad and we'll hope to see you again. I want full legality for adults but would have left too were I in your position.

(And I'm going to tell both how cute they are and you'll just have to live with it.)

We've rumbled a bit on these pages. Few if any share my JS Mill - Ron Paul - legalize everything mentality. I was surprised by the general support of 64 in the generally conservative group. They took a raise-your-hands poll at my suggestion near the end and there was 70-30 support for Amendment 64 and near half for "legalize everything." For a soi disant libertarian group, as jg saw, there are a bunch of conservative republicans who have nowhere else to turn in Boulder.

The star moment of the evening was provided by Sean -- a regular and garrulous former CO State House member. He spoke of his brother, who is addicted to crystal meth. The tragedy is compounded if one imagines him having half the intelligence, wit, and grace of his brother.

But he said that with all his brother's problems and his challenges to move ahead, he cannot see any value in further encumbering him with a felony conviction. This will make it harder to get a job and rehabilitate.

Your closing paragraph about the libertarian credo inspires a longer response. I disagree, but will expand on that in a post.

Posted by: jk at November 28, 2012 10:17 AM

'Lectric Cars! The Wave of the Future!

...for over 100 years now!

A pessimistic assessment by Vaclav Smil in the American is full of schadenfruedeny-goodness. But I was struck by the news that Toyota has elected not to dive into the briny deep:

Perhaps most tellingly, in September, just a few days before Toyota's mini-electric eQ city car was to make its debut at the Paris Motor Show, the company announced that it was cancelling its plans to mass produce the vehicle. According to Takeshi Uchiyamada, the company's vice-chairman, "The current capabilities of electric vehicles do not meet society's needs, whether it may be the distance the cars can run, or the costs, or how it takes a long time to charge." If a company that has been in the forefront of innovative design, high-quality production, and consumer satisfaction and that in 2012 reclaimed its title as the world's largest carmaker (lost in the wake of the March 2011 Tohoku earthquake) comes to such a conclusion, I do not see how other major competitors can succeed where Toyota refuses to even tread.

Surely there are some subsidies we could offer...

But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

Obama dogma make bad Karma.

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at November 26, 2012 8:42 PM

What the GOP Needs to Do, Part CMLXVIII

Ralph Reed sez we must embrace the Pro-life cause which will gain minority adherents.

There seems continued movement toward more liberal immigration (Amnesty!)

Rep Ron Paul's followers know we'd win landslides with a Gold Standard.

The truth is that we need to withdraw the concession to "Damonomics" which states that greedy bankers, enabled by the famous Bush deregulation (stop laughing!!! this cost us the election!!) looted the system. And there was predatory lending! And the Republicans want to resuscitate those policies that the Brave Sir Obama and Wise Sir Biden hath smote. Or something like that.

Those assertions are ludicrous. Yet they went un-rebutted and allowed a president with a rotten economic record to win reelection against fear of something worse. Two stories down from Reed's guest ed, the WSJ Editorial Board reports that for all the suspected criminality, there are no successful prosecutions in the panic of '08

A persistent media-liberal lament--make that a cliché--is that too few financiers have been prosecuted for the financial crisis. But maybe that's because when the Obama Administration tries to prosecute a specific individual for a specific crime, it turns out there was no crime.

The government's latest embarrassments came this month, as one high-profile case collapsed and another was downsized by a federal judge.

Like Client #9 NYAG Eliot Spitzer, the charges get a lot of press, the settlements appear to be big news. But no due-process, right to trial, presumption-of-innocence cases ever end up in the prosecutor's W column. Where was all this crime?
The Federal Reserve created negative real interest rates and a net subsidy for credit expansion. Washington programs to encourage every American to own a home ensured that the bubble would be concentrated in residential real estate. Government-approved credit-raters, convinced that the U.S. housing market would never suffer a sharp decline, slapped triple-A ratings on bundles of risky mortgages. Federal rules encouraged banks, money-market funds, stock brokerages and other institutions to buy this junk.

The zeal to prosecute bankers is part of the politically convenient narrative that the financial crisis was all created on Wall Street. Bankers were greedy as ever and their risk management was faulty. But the fact that Washington can't find a real criminal should focus public attention back on the real crime. That was Beltway policy.

President Bush tried to rein in Fannie & Freddie, Chairman Frank went all in to defend them. Yet, by their concessions, Republican policies "own" the crisis.

By all means, we can debate abortion and immigration (though brother Keith points out the infield fly rule to be sacrosanct). But without standing up for economic freedom, I don't think it will make a great difference.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 10:53 AM | What do you think? [0]

Reminder: Obamacare is Bad

Dr. Peter Weiss has a superb column on the "free annual exam" we all get thanks to ObamaCare®.

Obama won, Obamacare is the law, and, as my wife says, I will just have to learn to dance to a new song.

Now, don't get me wrong, Obamacare is awful. Forget all the "free stuff" it provides. Children covered on their parents' plan until 26 years of age? A scam, making young adults -- excuse me, children -- pay for complete, comprehensive health insurance when all they need and should pay for is major catastrophe insurance. Then there is the "annual " or "preventative" exam, which according to Obamacare is "free."

You gotta love this stuff. I wish I had the chutzpah of the people who wrote Obamacare. What they did not tell you, and I am, is that it covers absolutely nothing more than the bare minimum.

(Some) Folks thought Doctor/Senator Rand Paul over the top when he pointed out that "if you have a right to health care, you have the right to enter my home and force me to care for you." Are we very far from that, when the government gets to give away "free" stuff that others have to produce?

I'll save you the search, ThreeSourcers, I read it an hour before I read Weiss's column. Here is the quote you are looking for:

"I quit when medicine was placed under State control, some years ago," said Dr. Hendricks. "Do you know what it takes to perform a brain operation? Do you know the kind of skill it demands, and the years of passionate, merciless, excruciating devotion that go to acquire that skill? That was what I would not place at the disposal of men whose sole qualification to rule me was their capacity to spout the fraudulent generalities that got them elected to the privilege of enforcing their wishes at the point of a gun. I would not let them dictate the purpose for which my years of study had been spent, or the conditions of my work, or my choice of patients, or the amount of my reward. I observed that in all the discussions that preceded the enslavement of medicine, men discussed everything-- except the desires of the doctors. Men considered only the 'welfare' of the patients, with no thought for those who were to provide it." -- Rand, Ayn (2005-04-21). Atlas Shrugged: (Centennial Edition) (p. 744). Penguin Group. Kindle Edition.

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 9:48 AM | What do you think? [4]
But dagny thinks:

I figure I am preaching to the choir at 3srces but I have more than 300 Facebook friends. Probably the majority are too young to vote as I mostly discuss horses on Facebook. But I decided after we lost the election to see if I could spread a free market message a little wider. So here is my first attempt, posted on Facebook on just this subject:

I have seen here on Facebook a number of individual stories of individuals benefiting from Obamacare. I am very glad these few individuals have gotten what they need. However, I just need to ask a few questions about the bigger picture. If these individuals have gotten what they need at the expense of many others, is that a good thing?
I am the accounting manager and HR director for a small manufacturing company. We just finished our annual insurance renewal process. Surprise! Our insurance premiums are going up AGAIN! The premiums are partially paid by the employees so employee costs are going up AGAIN.
Also, I attended a meeting about the changes to our business due to the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare.) This meeting was run by the Colorado State Health Care Exchange Coordinator (or some such title) and her small army of assistants. So I wondered, who is paying for this meeting, this lady (and her assistants), and the infrastructure (buildings, computers, pencils) to support her brand new government department? This lady (and her assistants) produce no actual health care. However, she must be supported out of the dollars we all spend on health care. Presumably similar meetings are occurring in every state and at every level.
So how can the ACA possibly make Health Care cheaper for all if a whole bunch more people who are not producing care need to be supported with the same health care dollars?
Now, the increases in premiums were not a huge deal for me. But for those here at the company like the receptionist and the janitor, those increases are more problematic. We had several employees elect not to renew coverage due to the increase in premiums. How can the ACA help those who need it most if cost increases affect them the most?
Suppose instead of this lady from the government negotiating for the Exchange, I were allowed to negotiate what my employees need directly with the Insurance companies?? Suppose, if I were not happy with the 3 (count them 3) choices I have in Colorado, I could get my Health Insurance from any company anywhere in the country. Suppose my employees were not required to pay for coverages that WE DON’T WANT? I bet that I could lower costs for myself and my employees and get better coverage for more people with no, “help,” from the government at all.
A very good friend of mine noted on a post a while back, that while the ACA may not be ideal, the issue needs to be, “WORKED ON.” I agree completely! However, the ACA is worse than, “not ideal” It is COUNTERPRODUCTIVE. It makes care more expensive and less available despite the title.
I would love to chat with someone who disagrees with me on this out in the Facebook world.

Posted by: dagny at November 27, 2012 9:27 PM
But dagny thinks:

Hopefully I don't get unfriended by everyone I know and my vaulting business doesn't collapse due to un-PC ideas.

Posted by: dagny at November 27, 2012 9:30 PM
But jk thinks:

I saw that on FB and figured that mine was not the opinion you were soliciting...

Good luck, and I'll happily lend you some FB friends who would respond. But the responses would tend toward the thin on rationality and facts. It's interesting to reach out but, as I may have mentioned, it can be unsatisfying to deal with a low information crowd.

I wish I could find the left's ThreeSources -- I'd even let them call me names.

Posted by: jk at November 28, 2012 10:32 AM
But johngalt thinks:

"Jazz, guitars and right-wing politics?"

"Reason and consistency in defense of capitalism and individual rights?"

By what definition can a leftist version of ThreeSources even exist?

Posted by: johngalt at November 29, 2012 4:56 PM

The Most Disingenuous Beghazi Story Yet

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The White House could finally have its chance to close the books on its Benghazi public relations disaster, as key Republicans signal they might not stand in the way of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice to become the next secretary of state.
Public relations disaster? Yeah, that's the trouble with four murdered Americans in a terrorist attack on 9/11 and weeks of subsequent lying: bad PR.

And, is it "over" (was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?) if they can cobble 60 votes from pusillanimous Senate Republicans? The story goes away?

I'm game to join Bill Kristol that Ambassador Rice is no worse than anybody else he might nominate and likely better than some. But this story sadly shows that the mendacity of the press continues post-election.

UPDATE: Taranto Chimes in (scroll to "Hacks and Flacks.")

But johngalt thinks:

One can be forgiven for thinking a mendacious press might also make the 22nd Amendment go away between now and 2016.

Posted by: johngalt at November 26, 2012 3:12 PM

November 25, 2012

In Lieu of Review Corner

Waiting for my pal JC before I publish my review of "The Dynamics of Change" by Don Fabun. Next week I hope to do a second-time-through on Atlas Shrugged. But today? I got nuthin'. Ergo, bonus Atlas QOTDs.

My sagacious interlocutor of last weekend expresses discomfort with material success as a measure. Less sagacious friends on Facebook are at paties-in-a-wad-defcon-3 because of the rampant consumerism of Black Friday. But I want my nieces and nephews to have the wealth and innovation of 2012 and not 1970. Those who think it's okay to steal 1% of GDP growth a year to feather our nests fail to realize that it will probably be two. And a 2% cut in growth means that my kin will be half as wealthy in 35 years. That is generational theft.

Just material wealth? Dagny sees the power source in Atlantis:

She thought of this structure, half the size of a boxcar, replacing the power plants of the country, the enormous conglomerations of steel, fuel and effort-- she thought of the current flowing from this structure, lifting ounces, pounds, tons of strain from the shoulders of those who would make it or use it, adding hours, days and years of liberated time to their lives, be it an extra moment to lift one's head from one's task and glance at the sunlight, or an extra pack of cigarettes bought with the money saved from one's electric bill, or an hour cut from the work-day of every factory using power, or a month's journey through the whole, open width of the world, on a ticket paid for by one day of one's labor, on a train pulled by the power of this motor-- with all the energy of that weight, that strain, that time replaced and paid for by the energy of a single mind who had known how to make connections of wire follow the connections of his thought.

And the townspeople:
"Alone?" " Used to. But we've grown so much in the past year that I've had to hire three men to help me." "What men? From where?" "Well, one of them is a professor of economics who couldn't get a job outside, because he taught that you can't consume more than you have produced-- one is a professor of history who couldn't get a job because he taught that the inhabitants of slums were not the men who made this country-- and one is a professor of psychology who couldn't get a job because he taught that men are capable of thinking."

"They work for you as plumbers and linesmen?" "You'd be surprised how good they are at it."

But johngalt thinks:

Celebrated a belated Thanksgiving holiday yesterday at my in-laws new place even further into the rural Colorado plains than is my Atlantis. Spent over an hour disassembling, diagnosing and repairing a fifteen dollar toilet tank fill valve. Never regretted a moment of it because, perhaps mostly of many reasons, I was determined to figure out why it had stopped working and whether my diagnosis based on observed symptoms was correct. It was.

This explains the "You'd be surprised how good they are at it" quote. As for material success, theft of individual production, comparative prosperity, a few excerpts from the post-meal conversation with, I'll just say, a prospective family member.

He: "I don't agree with the point of view that someone's money is more important than someone's actual life. If 5 people need help to prevent their death and 5 other people have the means to help them, are you okay with not all of those five helping and some of the other five dying?"

Me: "Yes. Are you okay with government forcing those five to help or else go to jail?"

He: No answer.

More to the point of the original post, I also explained this cause for the oft lamented "growing gap between rich and poor" and asked if he'd rather be a king in the middle ages than a middle class citizen today?

Answer: "The king, because he was so much better off than other people of his era."

So despite his knowing that everyone is objectively happier and more prosperous today, he still would choose to live a shorter and more brutish life because it was better than all of the king's contemporaries.

This kind of irrationality is breathtaking. I'm still pondering what sense of life would permit such a selfish yet anti-self preference.

Posted by: johngalt at November 25, 2012 3:20 PM
But jk thinks:

I see many interesting Thanksgivings ahead...

I'll commiserate/share: a niece who is majoring in business posts on FB:

I can't decide what is worse. Negative political ad campaigns or Black Friday commercials that endorse camping out for sales and greed when there are people affected by sandy still without power living in tents and makeshift homes.

Posted by: jk at November 26, 2012 9:21 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Wait- Do the people camping out for Black Friday have power in their tents? Make them share!

Posted by: johngalt at November 26, 2012 11:57 AM

November 24, 2012

Emissions Retrospective

It has been almost ten years since I whined about the Colorado emissions test. Then again, it has been ten since I did it. My new car gave me four years off, then I moved to Weld County, which used to be too smart for such looters.

But some intrigue has brought us into the fold and I was coerced into assessing the State's progress today. To be fair, there are a few more locations. They accepted credit card payment. And the staff, in tiny Dacono, was friendly and the wait was short.

But the DMV bleakness still pervades. I made a 20 mile special trip -- did that save the air? I was offended to give my time to this charade. Glad our State has money to spend enforcing this.

Note to self: next time move farther.

Colorado Posted by John Kranz at 8:50 PM | What do you think? [0]

November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanks for the little oasis of rationality on the Internets -- y'all are the best!

What? No Link? Okay: Prof Perry giving thanks for the invisible hand.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:16 AM | What do you think? [1]
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

A day late, but greetings and Thanksgiving for friends like y'all Three Sourcers!

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at November 23, 2012 3:16 PM

November 21, 2012

Nixon to China, Obama to Moynihania

I don't know that President Obama reads Jonah Goldberg's column regularly, but we all know he loves ThreeSources, so I'll put this forward.

Goldberg thinks that the President might be in a unique position to address the racial imbalance in marriage and illegitimacy.

But there is one area where Obama could be transformative and bipartisan while helping both the middle class and the poor. He could show some leadership on the state of the black family, and the American family in general.

The thought came to me when a friend pointed me to a column by the Washington Post's Courtland Milloy about how blacks are fleeing baseball at an alarming rate. Today, only 8 percent of the baseball players are black. In 1959, black participation was more than twice as high at 17 percent. In 1975, the high-water mark, the rate was 27 percent.

The reasons for the decline are many and controversial, but one cited by Milloy is that baseball is a game taught by fathers, while basketball and football are more often taught by peers in pickup games.

Interesting article.

What the GOP Must Do...

Okay, it's my favorite topic and even I am getting sick of the "what Republicans need to do now" articles.

But I'll make an exception for this one: Republicans must learn to speak 'Jack Kemp' again by John Nolte. He suggests that Democrats learned how to rhetorically address their political soft spots of "Patriotism, support for the troops, and antagonizing the Christian faith. To solve this problem, Democrats not only learned how to stop marginalizing themselves on these issues, they completely changed their language in a way that embraced all three."

It's not about abdicating or abandoning beliefs, but choosing the presentation and preparing for delivery.

As far as religion and Marco Rubio's struggle with being asked the age of Earth, I've been a devout Christian for almost thirty years and have never found my faith in conflict with science or history. If anything, the more I learn about science and history only deepens my faith. This is why it's so frustrating to hear a bright guy like Rubio blow such an easy one. The problem isn't talent or smarts, it's training.

Before every baseball game, a good shortstop is the first one out on the field warming up and practicing. This is why he's a good shortstop; he never falls for his own press or forgets that hard work, drills, training, and the basics are what got him to where he is. And that's our problem. Our side forgets to drill, doesn't train, and suddenly we're losing games because we drop pop ups.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 11:12 AM | What do you think? [3]
But nanobrewer thinks:

This is really about packaging, and is long overdue. Nolte notes:
Questions about our faith, abortion, poverty, gay rights, etc. should all be drilled and drilled and drilled until we're able to turn them into what they really are: Opportunities to spread the gospel of success, compassion, liberty, and opportunity that is conservatism.

For years Dems were caught in a cycle where they could not speak openly about their beliefs (think: Hillary), and they have indeed found out the way to "package" their stands, mostly by using Orwellian language twists (aka, that suggesting women could not meet their basic needs and required gov't assistance was somehow "pro-woman" was dodged by asserting the opposite was "anti-woman").

The big challenge will be using these tactics while being honest!

Posted by: nanobrewer at November 24, 2012 1:03 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I'm going to throw the BS flag on this one.

The problem, of course, is not our faith or our core beliefs; the problem is that too many on our side are rhetorically unprepared and regularly caught off guard when these media moments arrive.

Actually, in too many instances the problem is both of these. Todd Akin and the other troglodytic GOP candidate (NH?) last cycle really believe what they said. Couching them in practiced rhetoric won't advance liberty. That would require advocating, liberty.

Many on the right want government to protect women (among others) from their own bad choices. Sorry boys and girls, that way lies tyranny. The left has made a living by using government to protect voters from certain risks, but the right can't succeed by trying to protect them from certain other risks - particularly since the left has already co-opted all of the fun freedoms and the scariest risks. Ever fewer are interested in leaving Democrat-Disneyland to visit Republican-Responsibilityville instead. As long as DemoDisney's rides keep running, free riders will keep riding. Especially if birth control and abortions are universally "accessible."

Posted by: johngalt at November 27, 2012 3:09 PM
But jk thinks:

Rolling off the page, but two things...

#1: The other one you are looking for is Richard Murdoch of Indiana. And it is as unfair as it is easy to throw him in with "Clodd Achin'" Akin proffered an absurd biological untruth; Murdoch voiced -- badly -- a deeply held and popular belief. Akin can't be fixed; Murdoch can.

Were I a pro-life candidate, I'd have staff ask me 10 abortion questions a day and give a crisp $5 bill to anyone that stumped me or forced a bad answer.

#2: I was surprised no ThreeSourcer commented on the "easy out" in the linked piece. Democrats did abandon gun control, not just practice rhetoric.

Posted by: jk at November 27, 2012 3:46 PM

November 20, 2012

Compassion yes, Altruism no

I have discovered a research institute at Stanford University that was established "to support and conduct rigorous scientific studies of compassion and altruistic behavior." Naturally my interest was piqued (and my antennae were raised.)

The Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education or CCARE states its vision thusly:

Create a multi-disciplinary environment whereby compassion and altruism studies are supported and legitimized within the broader scientific community. To use research advances to create tools that allow humans to become more compassionate and to engage more readily in altruistic behaviors toward themselves and others.

First I note that I have yet to see the term "altruism" appear without the companion term "compassion." I assert that it cannot stand on its own. Altruism requires the aid of compassion to gain "support" and "legitimacy."

Secondly, the institute appears to not fully comprehend the full meaning of the concept of altruism:

1. the principle or practice of unselfish concern for or devotion to the welfare of others ( opposed to egoism).

By the stated intent to promote within humans "altruistic behaviors toward themselves" they have revealed a fundamental misunderstanding of the notion of altruism. Their vision can be interpreted as promoting selfishness or egoism as self-altruism, though I wholly doubt that is their intent. I would be tempted to adopt that more "socially acceptable" description into a defense of rational self-interest, but it is a meaningless term: Unselfish concern for or devotion to the welfare of, yourself. (Harcourt Fenton Mudd, call your office.)

So here, at a scientific institute devoted to the study and advancement of altruism, at one of the nation's most prestigious research universities, the principals are unable to assert that their motive is to "allow humans to become more compassionate and to engage more readily in altruistic behaviors toward others." Even with the support of the term compassion, selflessness is a non-starter.

But Jk thinks:

Q: Is the accepted general use of altruism fundamentally different from your precise use? I thought this the case, but a brief perusal of Comte on Wikipedia seems fair.

Q2: if yes, should we play a political game and assign a neologism that can be refuted without being "the army against nice!?"

Posted by: Jk at November 20, 2012 4:34 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I believe the accepted general use is altruism = compassion. I contend the two must be cleaved.

How to do that is, as you suggest, the rub. I think a good start is to always say compassion is good before trying to discredit altruism: Compassion yes, altruism no. Shall we call it the "CYAN hypothesis?"

Posted by: johngalt at November 20, 2012 4:48 PM
But johngalt thinks:

CYAN Project? Nifty colored bracelets!

Posted by: johngalt at November 20, 2012 5:04 PM
But jk thinks:

Oooh bracelets -- please tell me you saw the South Park "Scauses."

Kind of like "liberal," though, I think the word is ruined. I think you come out against "self-slavery" or "communitarian shackles" or something which you can define. Instead of "I'm a liberal against altruism. Only I am not a 'liberal' as you define it nor do I oppose 'altruism' as you understand it." Not really fitting on a bracelet I could wear...

Posted by: jk at November 20, 2012 6:33 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

In an honest, non-Orwellian world, they'd just call themselves the Anti Rand Institute.


That part is self-denying; I really don't want anyone else "tapping" that at all.

"Disseminate research findings on an international scale using a number of media forums."

I see red flags all over this....

Posted by: nanobrewer at November 24, 2012 12:19 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Yeah, NB. Me too. But they can't be stopped, only countered. That has been the Liberty movement's problem all along - that there wasn't any movement!

Posted by: johngalt at November 25, 2012 12:15 PM

November 19, 2012

For the record.

"[...] they have never called a male unqualified, not bright, not trustworthy," -- a dozen Democratic female House members.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is unqualified. Interior Secretary Ken Salazaar in not bright. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is not trustworthy.
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Joe Biden gets a hat-trick.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at November 20, 2012 11:57 AM
But AndyN thinks:

Odd, I seem to recall any number of Republicans being called racist for labeling the President with various combinations of those traits.

Posted by: AndyN at November 20, 2012 12:35 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Andy: Obama, unqualified, unbright, untrustworthy? But we've been categorically told he's "... articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy..."

On the other hand, my moniker-of-choice for the current occupier of 1600 Pennsylvania, "SCOAMF," contains at least two of those three descriptors...

Posted by: Keith Arnold at November 20, 2012 1:16 PM
But AndyN thinks:

On second thought, maybe those dozen Democratic female House members just don't think of President Mom Jeans as male.

Posted by: AndyN at November 20, 2012 2:40 PM
But Jk thinks:

Thank you ThreeSourcers! A long day at the doc's for my drug trial was cheered up considerably by your bonhomie.

Posted by: Jk at November 20, 2012 4:53 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Always and often, best of wishes to you Subject No. 0073CO!

Posted by: johngalt at November 20, 2012 6:21 PM

Marco, NWA and Me

I'm pretty sure that my post "Straight Outta Rand" was not quite in line with the Three Sources style book; I am not even sure how many of the brethern and sistern had any idea of the parody's original reference.

However, check it:

GQ: Your three favorite rap songs?
Marco Rubio: "Straight Outta Compton" by N.W.A. "Killuminati" by Tupac. Eminem's "Lose Yourself."

Well, well.

But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

jk - yes, I noted that too; that's the answer of someone who knows his every word is being scrutinized from now 'til the Iowa Caucus 2016...see the nice thing is that Paul Ryan can just say that as a Catholic he accepts that there is no conflict; the Church hasn't insisted on a literal interpretation of Genesis since sometime before Darwin boarded the Beagle.

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at November 19, 2012 8:51 PM
But Jk thinks:

Not to deny the dirty trick: link

Posted by: Jk at November 20, 2012 10:31 AM
But johngalt thinks:

The more interesting version than what you excerpted was the one with scare quotes:

He said that he is “not sure” we will ever be able to fully answer the question of how old our planet is.

Heh heh. Heh heh. He like, "doesn't know."

The correct answer to the question, Mr. Rubio, is "Older than you and I are. Next question?"

"I'm not a scientist" was both a good and bad answer. It can be construed as anti-science. Like PJ's Bryan Preston who said, "Too many of us believe that science is the enemy, too, which can lead to incuriousity" such positions are ossifying.

Republicans must never consider science the "enemy." Modern science has been co-opted by actual enemies: Subjectivism, egalitarianism, and yes, altruism. All are misusing the authority of science in the name of statism.

Posted by: johngalt at November 20, 2012 10:54 AM
But Jk thinks:

Very frustrating that he was asked. Dems never. All the same I'm displeased with the answer. It seems neither religious enough nor scientific enough. The freedom opening is good, but your answer is better.

Posted by: Jk at November 20, 2012 11:29 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I'm also reluctant to place so much hope upon a single possible candidate for a race that is 4 years away. There are other good choices.

Posted by: johngalt at November 20, 2012 1:01 PM
But Jk thinks:

I like him, but he is in no way on the top of my list.

Posted by: Jk at November 20, 2012 1:52 PM

The Origin (and Limits) of Man's Inalienable Human Rights

I referred to this talk in a comment on the Dalai Lama post. ("our case")

It is also the talk that precipitated an inspired discussion after the latest Liberty on the Rocks.

It most certainly deserves an embed.

Viewer's assignment: Distill the objective origin of man's rights into a single-floor elevator speech and recite it in the comments.

Philosophy Posted by JohnGalt at 3:09 PM | What do you think? [4]
But jk thinks:

I did enjoy it from your link (thanks Ari!) It is a good talk and the preternaturally handsome family behind him is only the tiniest of distractions.

If my irrational Facebook friends cannot be reached by the historical records of Capitalism, however, I cannot accept that they will be convinced by the ironclad proof of rights that Biddle proposes.

After a long weekend's typing, I think ThreeSourcers need accept the existence of a Platonic-Aristotelian split on the right. The Rand-Popper-Aristotle wing seems genuinely amazed at the existence of a Platonic, mystical, religious group of people who value liberty and accept Democratic Capitalism as the best means of organization (Michael Novak, line one...)

This crowd is a superb example. I love the ethereal intellectual exercise and wish I had traversed the icy tundra to make it. I applaud both speaker and listener for participating. But moving forward, could the time spent converting right wing Platonics to right wing Aristotelians be more fruitfully spent on the left?

The source of my birthright liberty? I learned from Thomas Jefferson that I was endowed by my creator with inalienable rights. And I learned from my blog brother that a synonym for my creator is "Mom and Dad."

Posted by: jk at November 19, 2012 4:12 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I think the disconnect between the Platonic and the Aristotelian is the presence or absence of the word some between "value" and "liberty." The Platonists want to reserve what they consider their God-given right to pick and choose, not just for themselves but for others. If we could only disabuse that notion...

Posted by: johngalt at November 19, 2012 6:06 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

So, where does a very busy NB find the LotR schedule? I'm especially intrigued by JG's comment of a kid friendly event at Miller's grill (which had a past reputation for doing that all the time).

I can only find a LotR/Denver FB page. Please advise.

Posted by: nanobrewer at November 20, 2012 1:14 AM
But jk thinks:

Our newest blog brother, Bryan, is co-founder. Their FB page is here and I could forward your email to get on the mailing list with your permission.

Posted by: jk at November 20, 2012 9:01 AM

In continuation of a trend...

Please add "The Hamas-run Heath Ministry" to the list of people and orginatizations of which I am skeptical.

GAZA (Reuters) -- The number of Palestinians killed in Gaza during Israel's on-going offensive reached 100 on Monday, the Hamas-run Health Ministry said.

And Reuters.



In winning re-election, President Obama carried nearly all the same demographic groups as in 2008, but by smaller margins. The major exception: Hispanics, America's fastest-growing bloc. Having given Mr. Obama 67% of their votes in 2008, they gave him 71% this time.

This has alarmed Republicans. Mr. Obama had offered Hispanics little more than a broken promise to reform immigration in his first term, yet he scored the largest victory among them since Gerald Ford visited Texas in 1976 and tried to eat a tamale without removing its husk. -- Leslie Sanchez

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 1:08 PM | What do you think? [0]

Quote of the Day

Our contemporary hunger for equality can border on the comical. When my six-year-old son came home from first grade with a fancy winner's ribbon, I was filled with pride to discover that he had won a footrace. While I was heaping praise on him, he interrupted to correct me. "No, it wasn't just me," he explained. "We all won the race!" He impatiently educated me. He wasn't first or second or third--he couldn't even remember what place he took. Everyone who ran the race was told that they had won, and they were all given the same ribbon. "Well, you can't all win a race," I explained to him, ever-supportive father that I am. That doesn't even make sense. He simply held up his purple ribbon and raised his eyebrows at me, as if to say, "You are thus refuted." . . . -- Prof. Stephen T. Asma in his new book "Against Fairness" (University of Chicago Press)
But Sugarchuck thinks:

Twinkies? You guys don't hate Twinkies.

Posted by: Sugarchuck at November 19, 2012 12:10 PM
But jk thinks:

I wrote derisively of Twinkies. H8r!

Posted by: jk at November 19, 2012 12:16 PM
But johngalt thinks:

And I thought MLK had been defended.

As for fair or fairness, the objective version is a virtue; the subjective or redistributive version a vice. For it necessarily contradicts objective fairness in the way it treats the redistribution victim, i.e. redistributant (as opposed to redistributee at the hands of a redistributor.) Too much? Okay. Redistribution Victim.

Posted by: johngalt at November 19, 2012 2:47 PM
But jk thinks:

Umm, brother jg, on other sites, you'll find that MLK does not need defending.

Posted by: jk at November 19, 2012 3:48 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Fair enough but in defense of any partial or temporary criticisms appearing here I'll suggest that celebrity or popularity doesn't confer exemption from critical inquiry. On other sites, Che Guevera does not need defending.

Posted by: johngalt at November 19, 2012 6:13 PM
But jk thinks:

No, I'm proud to be among the iconoclasts. Just reminded of the uphill battles we face.

Posted by: jk at November 19, 2012 7:29 PM

We Already Have a Flat Tax

Pretty interesting summation from Professor Mankiw. He looks at a CBO study which "looks at the effects of income taxes, payroll taxes, and SNAP (the program formerly known as Food Stamps). The bottom line is that the average household now faces an effective marginal tax rate of 30 percent." Soon to be 35%, sadly, but the most interesting bit was his close:

What struck me is how close these marginal tax rates are to the marginal tax rates at the top of the income distribution. This means that we could repeal all these taxes and transfer programs, replace them with a flat tax along with a universal lump-sum grant, and achieve approximately the same overall degree of progressivity.

This is the same as tax rates vs. tax as a % of GDP. For all the government meddling, these things have a stubborn consistency.

We might as well face up to it, like Mankiw says and simplify the code and -- LOLZ!! I just crack myself up sometimez...

But johngalt thinks:

Marginal rates. MARGINAL. Even I, versed in such things and reading past three mentions of the term, interpreted the conclusion as a flat tax. (Well, maybe since that's what you and Greg called it, but it ain't. A flat tax is the same rate for every dollar taxed, no? Thus the name "flat?"

Here's the fudge factor: "...along with a universal lump-sum grant..."

There's why your simplified tax code is such a high hurdle. Imagine if a single dollar figure could be attached to the amount of tax dollars (other people's money) redistributed by government to "the average household." How many fewer votes would this earn? Better yet, how many fewer would accept the largesse?

No, far better for the political class to keep those figures in the shadows.

Posted by: johngalt at November 19, 2012 2:54 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Indeed, consider one of the contributors to the mythical low-income marginal tax rate from the CBO report:

Reduction of SNAP Benefits. For recipients, the reduction in benefits that occur as income rises adds an average of 25 percentage points to their marginal tax rates.

While true in the aggregate, calling the reduction in welfare payments as earnings increase a "tax" is a practice that further obliterates the meaning of the concept of "earned wealth."

Posted by: johngalt at November 19, 2012 3:08 PM
But jk thinks:

Marginal rates are the most interesting. If you believe that incentives count, the tax on the next dollar of income is what matters. (Dr. Yoram Bauman, the Stand Up Economist says "You might be an economist if you add 'at the margins' to the end of every fortune cookie.")

Mankiw suggests that a flat tax could replace the current system with a simple rebate/negative credit. Methinks you and he are arguing about the size or existence of the "universal lump-sum grant" but that we might all agree on the flat tax component.

Posted by: jk at November 19, 2012 5:01 PM
But EE thinks:

In general I am a proponent of lower marginal tax rates, even if that implies higher average tax rates. Nonetheless I feel obliged to urge caution in advocating a more efficient tax system. As Gary Becker, James Buchanan, Casey Mulligan, and others have emphasized, a more efficient tax system can lead to bigger government.

Posted by: EE at November 20, 2012 9:56 PM
But jk thinks:

I seek transparency. Even if I have to give them efficiency, I will trade it for the hidden social engineering they can currently do with the tax code.

Posted by: jk at November 21, 2012 11:12 AM

November 18, 2012

Figured out Joss Whedon

How can I have missed it all along? The great genius, Joss Whedon, clearly just sucks.

I mean, he cannot get across the simplest of ideas he believes in. Waaaay off.

A general statist, big-government progressive kinda guy writes "Firefly" which empowers an army of libertarian Browncoats to oppose him. I mean, that wasn't very smart, was it? For a genius?

Secondly, I just watched the Buffy Episode "Amends." Another swing-and-a-miss. An avowed atheist, Whedon writes and directs what my Buffy sire, Jonathan V. Last called "the most religious hour ever on television." Oops.

I mean, Vonnegut can be forgiven Harrison Bergeron, as he also wrote "God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater" and a series of socialist essays in a long and illustrious career. But Joss Whedon? The guy cannot seem to get a simple point across. What a loser.

Television Posted by John Kranz at 12:40 PM | What do you think? [6]
But nanobrewer thinks:

So, "Amends" was ... bad?

Posted by: nanobrewer at November 19, 2012 1:23 AM
But jk thinks:

No, nb, "amends" is awesome on stilts. I tease the great man because he is an avowed atheist and you could run Amends on the Hallmark Channel between Dolly Parton as an Angel and Richard Thomas as the flying-reindeer-studying zoologist. It would fit perfectly (and I'd watch all three).

Posted by: jk at November 19, 2012 10:26 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I've wondered about Vonnegut too. I think what we've (me too) overlooked is that it's rare for a person to have a consistent worldview. Most can hold that an idea and its antithesis are good and true, at the same time. These examples are darned good evidence of that fact.

Posted by: johngalt at November 19, 2012 11:28 AM
But nanobrewer thinks:

So the man has his characters say what he has not the fortitude to do. Talented, but gutless... or swayed by the party-scene in tinsel town, but I repeat myself.

Some day, I'll catch up on those other 4 seasons of Buffy (I stopped watching for various reasons after S3).... some day.

Posted by: nanobrewer at November 20, 2012 1:04 AM
But jk thinks:

While there are many episodes I dig in the first three, I consider them the work required to enjoy the really great seasons ahead (Five and Six espescially). All are available free on Amazon Prime or Netflix streaming. For a guy who gets stuck in hotels a lot.

Posted by: jk at November 20, 2012 9:07 AM
But jk thinks:

And, if you have not seen "Cabin in the Woods..."

Not for the kiddies, mind you, but a great and Whedony film.

Posted by: jk at November 20, 2012 6:50 PM

Review Corner

I enjoyed Gene Healy's "Cult of the Presidency." No doubt my references to it have become tedious over these last four years. But in all the right-left, conservative-libertarian, platonic-aristotelian discussion, I think it underappreciated how many of our freedom issues stem from the removal of Constitutional balance-of-power. If we did not think our presidents the leader of the free world and our dad, they would be far more limited in the rumpus they could cause.

Healy nails this in "Cult." It is an important look at the arrogation of power to the executive and is bipartisan in his disapprobation. The book details a litany of transgressors as we lost the idea of a constitutional magistrate a long time ago, but the book spends most pages thumping one President George W. Bush. I read it after Obama had been elected and laughed under my breath: "Oh. Gene, Gene...buddy you have no idea how much worse things are going to get."

Wishes do come true and the author has released an e-book update to cover the first Obama Administration. False Idol: Barack Obama and the Continuing Cult of the Presidency

Over the last few years, when people asked me if I planned to write another book, I'd demur, joking that I could just update The Cult of the Presidency every four to eight years with details on whatever fresh hell the next president visits on the country. The joke was on me, it seems. When it comes to presidential cults, Barack Obama turned out to be the gift that keeps on giving-- an irresistible opportunity to put Cult's themes in front of a new set of readers.

It remains celebrity and Congressional pusillanimity that gives our President such power -- not parchment.
"In a republican government, the legislative authority necessarily predominates," Madison wrote in Federalist 51, and he actually worried about whether the president would have sufficient power to resist congressional encroachment.
Their powers are anything but equal: Congress can remove executive officers, up to and including the president. Congress decides on the structure of the executive branch; it can create or destroy agencies and departments and regulate them through Article I, Section 8' s "sweeping clause." The president has no comparable powers over Congress. There's a reason the Capitol Dome dominates the D.C. landscape, towering over the comparatively modest presidential residence down the street. The capital's design mirrors the constitutional architecture, in which Congress, not the executive, was supposed to be the prime mover in setting national policy.
"My classes think I am trying to be funny," [Constitutional Professor Charles] Black continued, "when I say that, by simple majorities," Congress could shrink the White House staff to one secretary and that with a two-thirds vote, "Congress could put the White House up at auction." But Professor Black wasn't kidding: Congress has the power to do all that if it so decides. And if Congress can sell the White House, surely it can defund illegal wars and rein in a runaway bureaucracy.

I had hoped that waving the specter of the eeevil George Bush, that I might be able to bring some of my lefty friends into the fold on this. In 2017, maybe I can.

Four stars (just 'cause much of the meat is all in first book) but it is great -- and a deal at $3.49.

November 16, 2012

Pragmatism, the big fight, and the Dalai Lama

Sadly for ThreeSourcers, a great mind and good friend of this blog is more comfortable engaging me personally on some issues. Y'all are the poorer for this person's reticence. I will summarize, badly, the key points of the thread. And then of course crash down to prove I am right!

Summary point number one is a pragmatic response to our little party bashing the Dalai Lama, Dr. Martin Luther King, and Mahatmas Gandhi. There's a great old saying about "picking one's battles" and I think I was close to my interlocutor's side when I asked blog brother jg whether we really had to open multiple fronts on belief in a Supreme Being and the plotline of every successful piece of fiction save seven since the dawn of time.

It seems a far steeper climb than liberty. I am comfortable making economic arguments and I can see that every now and then, somebody actually listens and considers them. My interlocutor suggests that atheism and anti-altruism are nonstarters and that few will ever hear the message of liberty that underpins it.

I made a valiant effort. "Philosophy should seek truth and not an electoral plurality," says I. "And besides, you misspelled 'pillock.'"

But I confess I lack the heart for the quixotic quest. I'd rather play at the margins. So I pick one fight, one unbeatable foe. And that is, of course, His Holiness the Dalai Lama. And in this post, I will run where the brave dare not go. I will use the only tool at my disposal: the Internet segue.

Segue intro: Great Chinese Famine starves 36 million people to death. (Link tries to sign you up for but you can tough it out and read if you scroll down.)

The Great Leap Forward that Mao began in 1958 set ambitious goals without the means to meet them. A vicious cycle ensued; exaggerated production reports from below emboldened the higher-ups to set even loftier targets. Newspaper headlines boasted of rice farms yielding 800,000 pounds per acre. When the reported abundance could not actually be delivered, the government accused peasants of hoarding grain. House-to-house searches followed, and any resistance was put down with violence.

Meanwhile, since the Great Leap Forward mandated rapid industrialization, even peasants' cooking implements were melted down in the hope of making steel in backyard furnaces, and families were forced into large communal kitchens. They were told that they could eat their fill. But when food ran short, no aid came from the state. Local party cadres held the rice ladles, a power they often abused, saving themselves and their families at the expense of others. Famished peasants had nowhere to turn.

In the first half of 1959, the suffering was so great that the central government permitted remedial measures, like allowing peasant families to till small private plots of land for themselves part time. Had these accommodations persisted, they might have lessened the famine's impact. But when Peng Dehuai, then China's defense minister, wrote Mao a candid letter to say that things weren't working, Mao felt that both his ideological stance and his personal power were being challenged. He purged Peng and started a campaign to root out "rightist deviation." Remedial measures like the private plots were rolled back, and millions of officials were disciplined for failing to toe the radical line.

The result was starvation on an epic scale. By the end of 1960, China's total population was 10 million less than in the previous year. Astonishingly, many state granaries held ample grain that was mostly reserved for hard currency-earning exports or donated as foreign aid; these granaries remained locked to the hungry peasants. "Our masses are so good," one party official said at the time. "They would rather die by the roadside than break into the granary."

Segue conclusion: And, yet, the Dalai Lama prefers this "let these swell masses die by the roadside" philosophy to that which brought them out of privation and provided a taste of freedom and natural rights. (I linked before, with actual, all caps profanity).
"Still I am a Marxist," the exiled Tibetan Buddhist leader said in New York, where he arrived today with an entourage of robed monks and a heavy security detail to give a series of paid public lectures.

"(Marxism has) moral ethics, whereas capitalism is only how to make profits," the Dalai Lama, 74, said.

However, he credited China's embrace of market economics for breaking communism's grip over the world's most populous country and forcing the ruling Communist Party to "represent all sorts of classes".

"(Capitalism) brought a lot of positive to China. Millions of people's living standards improved," he said.

Yeah, that is swell and all. But I think I like the system that starves 36 million. Just personal preference, y'know, tomato-tomahto...

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 12:40 PM | What do you think? [9]
But johngalt thinks:

Where does Dalai Lamas authority come from again? A spiritual monarchy I believe. Not a king, not a priest, but both. And in future, a communist puppet.

The 14th Dalai Lama remained the head of state for the Central Tibetan Administration ("Tibetan government in exile") until his retirement on March 14, 2011. He has indicated that the institution of the Dalai Lama may be abolished in the future, and also that the next Dalai Lama may be found outside Tibet and may be female.[2] The Chinese government was very quick to reject this and claimed that only it has the authority to select the next Dalai Lama.

"Select?" Yet his appeal remains strong - his mysticism all the more mysterious. So one must acknowledge that there are barriers in the human mind which reason may not cross. This led Rand to advise us: "Reason is not automatic. Those who deny its existence cannot be persuaded by it." She told us to leave these people alone. Unfortunately for us, these people may still vote. Pragmatically, that means we no longer have the luxury of leaving them alone.

The original premise was that altruistic theists would dismiss appeals to liberty that challenged their beliefs. It seems a mind that, like the Dalai Lama's can acknowledge capitalism's success yet still prefer its antithesis, will be difficult to reach with any argument.

So the first basis of Dalai Lama's "miserableness" is not his pronouncements of collectivist beliefs but the miserable thought process that leads him to them.

Posted by: johngalt at November 17, 2012 11:20 AM
But johngalt thinks:

@jk, your comment that passed mine in the ether is segue to the second thought I wanted to make but reserved for later so as not to dilute the first. Namely, the steadfast refusal to grant the sanction of silence.

All are free to hold their chosen ideas. And of course the freedom of speech remains as well. I'm reminded of the scene from The Life of Brian where multiples of self-professed Jesuses seek to persuade and convert adherents simultaneously. Let the Marxists make their case in a free marketplace of ideas. Likewise the champions of other supernatural faiths. We are now obligated, more than ever, to make our case for the individual liberty that man's nature demands. [Don't be alarmed at the 90-minute length. The talk is 37 and remainder is Q&A.]

But this is a long-term proposition and the previously mentioned agreement to coexist must be honored immediately, for the consequence of initiating force is force in return. (This warning is meant for those who, having seen their standard-bearer's re-election, may be tempted to tighten government's grip around producer's necks.)

Posted by: johngalt at November 17, 2012 2:33 PM
But Sugarchuck thinks:

So who decides who is reasonable? And once this is ironed out and the reasonable are forced to confront the unreasonable, what exactly does that confrontation look like? It must, necessarily for their own good and ours, mean revoking their right to vote and their right to self determination. And once they are no longer allowed to participate in our democracy they shouldn't need the same constitutional protections the rest of us enjoy. That only seems reasonable.

Posted by: Sugarchuck at November 17, 2012 2:40 PM
But Sugarchuck thinks:

Am I following this thread correctly? We are looking to promote individual liberty, but only for the reasonable? Hmm...

Posted by: Sugarchuck at November 17, 2012 2:45 PM
But jk thinks:

No. Methinks you are not reading this thread correctly. I'm looking for the exact line that suggested disenfranchisement.

I think I can speak for most that the irrational may be allowed to vote, drink, eat, bid on the last box of Twinkies® on eBay, and post political humor on Facebook. None want to take that away (a day off might be nice but...)

The suggestion is that they who cannot be reached by reason are ignored. And it is the shame of our overweening government that they this is so difficult.

Posted by: jk at November 17, 2012 5:27 PM
But johngalt thinks:

What I'd really like to see is that nobody decides anything for anyone else, reasonable or not. But our democratic institutions prevent this at the present time. The outcome of elections overrules, more and more, our own self-determination.

What I am advocating is a concerted effort to promote a theory of individual liberty that doesn't rely upon God, Creator, or even the Constitution. This is necessary because those arguments are no longer sufficient to prevent a plurality from voting against liberty. We can debate the reasons but the conclusion was just proven: Six million more Americans thought it moral to force the "wealthy" to sacrifice even more in the name of helping, no longer just the poor, but the middle class.

Right now the traditional arguments of self-reliance are not preventing the advancement of the welfare state and its own faith dogma. A new argument is needed to confront the statists. For many reasons, that argument must be a secular one.

In my lifetime I have witnessed an evolution of faith. I suggest that the faithful must now accept liberty as a prerequisite to their faith, not as a replacement for it. Until they do I fear we will keep losing elections.

Posted by: johngalt at November 18, 2012 12:42 PM

"Nut up or shut up"

"Someday very soon, life's little Twinkie gauge is gonna go ... empty."


Is it too late to get Twinkies added to the endangered species list? Where's the EPA when we really NEED it!

But jk thinks:

Mondo heh!

However, this being ThreeSources, I am going to warn good people not to allow non-union animus to cloud their economic thinking.

Greedy Bakers (Lochner v New York anybody?) may have hastened the demise of the yellow alleged food. But -- as Governor Romney tried to explain -- plants and brands of value will survive bankruptcy. If somebody wants to invest in Chrysler or Hostess, they can; else the assets will be put to greater use.

And if they are not wanted, it is the loud voice of the free market saying "we are wealthier now and have access to better tasting snacks."

Posted by: jk at November 16, 2012 12:23 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

New hashtag trending on Twitter, to the certain delight of readers and authors here:


Posted by: Keith Arnold at November 16, 2012 12:57 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Cloud? The movie clip tie-in is two-fold: First as evidence that the Zombie Apocalypse is surely nigh. Second, not to lament the demise of the Twinkie, but to celebrate the fungibility of capital, recipes and trademark rights. I fully expect, in due time, the Twinkie to be reborn. Perhaps even with the original brand name but under new ownership and not a whiff of union labor.

Posted by: johngalt at November 16, 2012 1:50 PM
But jk thinks:

Apologies if I misconstrued. We're into that C-word "Conservatism" again. I see some, if not y'all, waxing poetic about a snack of their youth at the expense of realizing that demand might be a bigger issue than bakers' benefits.

Posted by: jk at November 17, 2012 11:03 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Waning demand may have soon sent Twinkies the way of buggy whips but free men willingly risked their capital on the bet that it would not. By refusing to make bakers' pension payments no longer the most expensive ingredient, the labor union's "consistently poor management" has decided the bet before it was placed.

And why does the union refuse to accomodate? Because doing so is an admission that everything free-market advocates have been saying is sustainably true - and everything the redistributionists say only works for as long as the faith holds out. In the case of Hostess the music has stopped and it's time to scramble for a seat. I look forward to seeing how the public reacts when the workers are left standing, despite the "protection" offered by their unionization.

Posted by: johngalt at November 17, 2012 2:44 PM

They did un-build that

The Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union refused to end its strike yesterday.

"Hostess Brands will move promptly to lay off most of its 18,500-member workforce and focus on selling its assets to the highest bidders." Hostess Brands Inc. had earlier warned employees that it would file to unwind its business and sell off assets if plant operations didn't return to normal levels by 5 p.m. Thursday. In announcing its decision, Hostess said its wind down would mean the closure of 33 bakeries, 565 distribution centers, approximately 5,500 delivery routes and 570 bakery outlet stores in the United States.

But fear not labor leaders...

"Most employees who lose their jobs should be eligible for government-provided unemployment benefits," Hostess said.
But AlexC thinks:

It's a shame that marijuana legalization in Washington state could not save them.

Time to get bullish on Doritos?

Posted by: AlexC at November 16, 2012 11:31 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Pot's legal in Colorado too. Didn't help Colorado's Twinkie bakery.

Posted by: johngalt at November 16, 2012 11:42 AM

November 15, 2012

Thousands of needless deaths...

I got two new toys from Amazon Santa yesterday. Have you seen these timers? To set a 5 minute timer, you set it so the 5 faces up; 0 to turn it off. Brilliant.

John Stossel has this one guy on every year who awards $1000 to the stupidest warning label or instruction. I saw the metronome directions and wondered what manner of dire warnings would be in it. I expected: "Do Not Bring Metronome into the bathtub!" "Do not use for brain surgery!"

Surprisingly, there was nothing outrageous. Take the batteries out if you're putting it away for a long time. Do not store in sunlight. Fair.

Then I picked up the docs for the kitchen timer and got my reward:

No doubt they'd get sued -- but, really?

Posted by John Kranz at 10:20 AM | What do you think? [9]
But Keith Arnold thinks:

And heeeeeeeeeeeeere's why:

No matter how much these warnings and instructions insult our intelligence, there's somebody out there for whom it's still not sufficiently spelled out. Or, to put it more prosaically: build an idiot-proof safety device, and devolution will develop an idiot who can defeat it.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at November 15, 2012 6:28 PM
But jk thinks:

Yeah -- I'd love the backstory for "do not throw the kitchen timer into the fire." That has to be good.

I'm sorry I got off topic. I really am amazed -- and pleased -- with the interface to the timer. That is just cool. I plan to buy another for the office to keep meetings moving along.

Posted by: jk at November 15, 2012 6:54 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

I appreciate the design of the kitchen timer, but just not enough options. I mean, I see five minutes, and I see thirty minutes. We know there's a zero on one of the three other faces. That leaves, I'm guessing a ten and a twenty. Not helpful for three-minute eggs, a forty-five minute cake, or a four-hour turkey a week from today. ("Nice segue on the Thanksgiving theme, Arnold!")

So, a D6 works as a snooze alarm, but not as a kitchen timer. That D6 needs to be a D20 if it's for the kitchen.

Say, guess what game I spent a lot of time playing in college.

Oh, and, pink?

Posted by: Keith Arnold at November 15, 2012 7:11 PM
But Jk thinks:

No, it's purple.

Posted by: Jk at November 15, 2012 11:34 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"Hey dear, have you seen where the kids left my three-minutes-twenty timer?"

Posted by: johngalt at November 16, 2012 11:04 AM
But jk thinks:

No, you fatheads. Listen up! We can agree to disagree on immigration policy, drug decriminalization, the possessive singular, and the DH. But you must see the elegance of the Datexx timer.

Set the timer by simply resting the cube with the desired time facing up - 5, 15, 30 or 60 minutes

A loud alarm will ring when the time is up - simply set it back to zero at the top to silence it

Great for meetings, homework, napping exercise or cooking

More to life than eggs, lads. The purple one does 5, 10, 20 and 30 minutes. Just do not throw it into the fire.

Posted by: jk at November 16, 2012 12:14 PM

November 14, 2012

The Men Who Built America

Me and little Ellis, Jr. have very much enjoyed The History Channel's The Men Who Built America. One gets gets a real sense of where Rand was coming from in her "hero worship" of American industrialists. If the Three Sourcers have time for television, I highly recommend we all watch it as inspiration and for discussion at future meetings.

I do have a concern that perhaps certain events are given the Hollywood treatment. The assassination attempt on Henry Frick portrayed in the movie bears little resemblance to real life. Still, the fact that these men are shown as giants, without too much emphasis on how they were all racist, sexist, xenophobic homeophobes is reason enough in today's media landscape to celebrate!

But johngalt thinks:

Biodiesel? Funky rock? No.

I'm a big fan and I didn't get the reference, but I don't feel too bad since it's only mentioned in the DVD commentary? Tough class! Hope you grade on a curve.

Posted by: johngalt at November 14, 2012 4:03 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Try this:

Note that River flips out at the sight of the Blue Sun logo - whether on the T-shirt of Jayne's that she slashed, or the labels she rips off of canned food. Blue Sun is the ubiquitous corporate half of the government-corporate complex in the Firefly 'verse. The relationship between them and the Alliance government is a mite too cozy. Know how lefties think of Bush/Cheney/Halliburton? Same thing. Dong le ma?

Posted by: Keith Arnold at November 14, 2012 4:31 PM
But johngalt thinks:
Blue Sun didn't get into business out of love for their fellow man. They started the company to make a profit, and no one begrudged them that. But then, as the company grew bigger and bigger, and became more and more powerful, greed and corruption took over. Profit was the only thing those running Blue Sun could think about. They set out to make more and more money by extending their power as far as they could manage.

It's an open secret that Blue Sun engages in deadly corporate espionage and then calls in favors from powerful government officials to help cover their tracks.

Well, at least nobody begrudged them making a profit - at first.

Posted by: johngalt at November 14, 2012 5:39 PM
But jk thinks:

The silver lining in Firefly's premature demise was that I always feared that Blue Sun Corporation was slated to be the bad guy and not government.

Serenity answered that, but Dollhouse showed the Whedon Dark Side.

Posted by: jk at November 14, 2012 7:44 PM
But johngalt thinks:

So what you're saying is that Wheedon baited liberty lovers just to prove to us what happens when business is allowed to expand and prosper unimpeded? What an A.H!

Posted by: johngalt at November 16, 2012 11:59 AM
But jk thinks:

We will never know, but I was pretty uncomfortable with where the nefarious Blue Sun Corp was going to fit in. I could be wrong, but will again suggest that the Rossum Corporation in Dollhouse provides a template.

Firefly lives, gents, and we've known about Whedon for some time. I just consider it a gift from an unexpected source, like Vonnegut's Harrison Bergeron.

Posted by: jk at November 16, 2012 1:52 PM

Ellis Wyatt, Call Your Office!

If I read this right, did the world's "proven oil reserves" just double?

Drillers in Utah and Colorado are poking into a massive shale deposit trying to find a way to unlock oil reserves that are so vast they would swamp OPEC.

A recent report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office estimated that if half of the oil bound up in the rock of the Green River Formation could be recovered it would be "equal to the entire world's proven oil reserves."

Both the GAO and private industry estimate the amount of oil recoverable to be 3 trillion barrels.

How are we going to stop this?

But Keith Arnold thinks:

"The amount of oil recoverable is estimated to be 3 trillion barrels -- three times more that the whole world has consumed in the past 100 years."

Drill, baby, drill.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at November 14, 2012 2:56 PM
But johngalt thinks:
"The technology for assessing oil reserves is pretty good," Rusco said. "I don't say there isn't a wide margin of error, but you can have great confidence that there is a very, very large amount of oil trapped down there that could be recovered. It's just that, so far, it can't be recovered at a profit."

That's not a problem. In this country the "new energy economy" is based on using taxpayer dollars to "stimulate" not-yet profitable technologies so they can then grow large enough to support themselves. Paging Dr. Steven Chu.

Posted by: johngalt at November 14, 2012 3:40 PM
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

"You have reached the voice mail of Ellis Wyatt. I'm sorry I can't take your call right now, but after the results of November 6, 2012 I will be vacationing in an undisclosed location until approximately the time your power goes off...for a couple of years. Feel free to leave a message. And if you think the Obama Administration will allow enough oil production to get you inexpensive gas, good luck."

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at November 14, 2012 4:10 PM

The Anti-Rand

The dangerous ideas of the Dalai Lama. Loved by all. The high priest of Facebook philosophy.

When asked about the tens of millions of Chinese who dug themselves out of privation and poverty after being gifted a small portion of their natural rights to property and self-ownership. Robespierre in robes thought it nice but that Marxism has "moral ethics, whereas capitalism is only how to make profits." What's the death of 100 million at the hands of the state and billions kept in hunger and squalor? As long as his delicate sensibilities are preserved.

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 11:45 AM | What do you think? [7]
But jk thinks:

And Mom! And Apple Pie! And we hate baseball!

I'll go with you 66%, brother. Gandhi and this guy are evil and overrated. But, while MLK gets perhaps more credit for his later career than is deserved, the Montgomery bus boycott of 1956 is a legend in liberty. Any later economic and personal transgressions pale in comparison.

The rendition of Montgomery in Robert A. Caro's "Master of the Senate" is stunning. MLK was the Fleetwood Mac of freedom fighters: all the attention paid to his later work with the great genius all but forgotten.

Posted by: jk at November 14, 2012 1:03 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"Capitalism is only how to make profits."

Partially true, but only profit is truly moral. Just consider the alternative.

Posted by: johngalt at November 14, 2012 4:13 PM
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

Okay, I'll go along with MLK doing a lot of good in certain circumstances. Credit where credit is due.

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at November 14, 2012 4:31 PM
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

ADDED: I am sorry to say I haven't read Caro's book(s) yet, either. Will get on that!

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at November 14, 2012 4:32 PM
But jk thinks:

I do go on about them. But they are true and absolute masterpieces.

Posted by: jk at November 14, 2012 7:45 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Another entry in the nascent "What if?" series:

What if Dalai Lama only wore and used objects invented in Marxist economic states?

Would that preclude:

Jet aircraft?

Posted by: johngalt at November 15, 2012 5:04 PM

November 13, 2012

Eating Cake and Having It

Yahoo Finance: The Daily Ticker's Aaron Task and Henry Blodget discuss America's standing in the world.

Here are two quotes from the same analyst:

First, in order to address the "increasing inequality" that is causing us to "lose" our middle class:

"We should balance the bottom line with employment and employee salaries and benefit to the community. Reduce profit margins and reinvest in the country - that's what we need to do."

Then, in response to the growing cost of starting a small business and the very low levels of startups:

"What I assume they're looking at is the cost of the red tape and everything else and legislation and so forth; the regulations that go with and if that's the case we've gotta work on paring that down, there's no question."

So what is his plan for diverting more business profit to employees and communities that doesn't rely upon red tape, legislation or regulation?

But jk thinks:

You just want to "give" more money to the wealthy!

Posted by: jk at November 14, 2012 9:51 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I completely missed that one. Good catch!

Posted by: johngalt at November 14, 2012 12:47 PM

Tweet of the Day (or Day minus six...)

2012 Election Posted by John Kranz at 1:46 PM | What do you think? [0]

Total Solar Eclipse!

In Australia. Watch it live below! [Peak occurs at 1:35 pm MST today (Tues) and lasts just 4 minutes!]

Sky and Telescope:

At 3:35 EST (or 6:35 AEST on November 14 if you're in Australia), the Moon will cover the Sun for a maximum of 4 minutes and 2 seconds.

Live video by Ustream

Science Posted by JohnGalt at 1:33 PM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

Bing® photo is major league cool.

Posted by: jk at November 13, 2012 1:48 PM

ThreeSources Fashion News

Clearence sale on Austrian Economics T-Shirts at

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 1:05 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

Harumph. "Dead white guys." Where are the ones of black, hispanic, female, or LGBT economists?

Posted by: johngalt at November 13, 2012 1:46 PM
But jk thinks:

Soooo busted! That's Rose Wilder Lane ("Discover Freedom") and one of hers is headed our way.

Posted by: jk at November 13, 2012 2:44 PM

Chins Back Down!

I needed this more than I needed cheering up. No, things are most definitely not copacetic -- but wound-licking time is over:

Downright Churchillian in spots -- with a bonus LOTR reference at the end!

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 11:46 AM | What do you think? [3]
But Terri thinks:

Here here!
A life well lived.

Posted by: Terri at November 13, 2012 12:05 PM
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

"The lesser sons of greater fathers." My God, my God, how devastatingly appropriate. Barack Obama, Harry Reid, and yes, a lot of Republican leaders too; can you imagine their roles in 1776? They would have been sweeping out the stables where Washington, Madison and Jefferson kept their horses.

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at November 14, 2012 1:04 PM
But jk thinks:

...and a bunch of 'em woulda been fired for shoddy performance!

The cannibal subcurrent is one I have long thought (without the awesome name). The heroics not just of 1776 but the hundreds who gave their lives to build the Brooklyn Bridge and Panama Canal (have I ever mentioned David McCullough's "Brave Companions?" I didn't think so...) These people lead heroic lives and we can't risk killing a turtle or paying our own goddam doctor bills.

Posted by: jk at November 14, 2012 1:22 PM

Chins up!

George Will, of all people, has an uplifting après le deluge column.

His crack research staff fails to credit Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields on "Swing Time," but it's a good look at the path forward in a post Citizen's United world.

With much work -- the most painful sort: thinking -- to be done, conservatives should squander no energy on recriminations. Romney ran a gallant campaign. Imitation is the sincerest form of politics, and Republicans should emulate Democrats' tactics for locating and energizing their voters.

Liberals have an inherent but not insuperable advantage: As enthusiasts of government, to which many of them are related as employees or clients, they are more motivated for political activity than are conservatives, who prefer private spaces. Never mind. Conservatives have a commensurate advantage: Americans still find congenial conservatism's vocabulary of skepticism about statism. And events -- ongoing economic anemia; the regulatory state's metabolic urge to bully -- will deepen this vocabulary's resonance.

Hat-tip: my biological brother via email.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 9:53 AM | What do you think? [0]

Quote of the Day

Blog Brother AlexC on Facebook:

Holy crap, this is an actual love pentagon.

But jk thinks:

Look at the bright side, ThreeSourcers. By all early indications, we have a sex scandal where there may have been actual sex. Very rare these days...

Posted by: jk at November 13, 2012 12:52 PM
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

I hadn't thought of it that way, but let's see--Clinton, well, depends on the definition but he wasn't enough of a MAN to have my definition, Craig (no), Chris Lee (no), The Weiner (no), Eric Massa (no), Herman Cain (no), Mark Souder (yes). So that's something.

In the good old days they actually had real sex. Way too many email and picture scandals now. How utterly weak.

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at November 14, 2012 8:13 PM

Meanwhile, in Buffy News

Buffy writer Jane Espenson has written a Pride and Prejudice themed short story, Georgiana. You can read it online or buy a pdf for 0.99.

Reader exercise: draw a Venn diagram of ThreeSourcers who would be interested...

Television Posted by John Kranz at 9:28 AM | What do you think? [0]

November 12, 2012


In honor of General David Petraeus and his "shameful" behavior.

Geniuses and supergeniuses always make their own rules on sex as on everything else; they do not accept the monkey customs of their lessers. -RAH 'Friday' (1983)
But jk thinks:

Forcing my hand on Wednesday's:

she never wondered whether he was true to her or not; she knew he was. She knew, even though she was too young to know the reason, that indiscriminate desire and unselective indulgence were possible only to those who regarded sex and themselves as evil.

Rand, Ayn (2005-04-21). Atlas Shrugged: (Centennial Edition) (p. 109). Penguin Group. Kindle Edition.

Posted by: jk at November 12, 2012 7:28 PM
But jk thinks:

Left to the reader: are the Heinlein and Rand quotes contradictory?

Posted by: jk at November 12, 2012 8:17 PM
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

In short: No.

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at November 14, 2012 1:32 PM
But jk thinks:

Agreed. Thanks for playing.

Posted by: jk at November 14, 2012 2:42 PM

What if?

1. Wal-Mart's owners (and financiers) went on strike?



But jk thinks:

It seems like there might be an Atlas Shrugged quote that might work here. But for the life of me, I cannot think of any...

Posted by: jk at November 12, 2012 8:16 PM

If only...

Hey, you people are smart. I'm thinking there must be some way to try to allocate very important goods like disaster preparedness supplies?

Predictably, emergency supplies like flashlights, lanterns, batteries and sump pumps sold out quickly, even when they were replenished. The one sought-after item that surprised him the most? Holiday candles. "If anyone is looking for holiday candles, they are sold out," he says. "People bought every holiday candle we have during the storm."

If the hurricane was a windfall for Lowe's, its customers didn't seem to mind. Rather, most appeared exceedingly grateful when Mr. Rinker, working at a store in Paterson, N.J., pointed them toward a space heater, or a gasoline can, that could lessen the misery of another day without power.

Maybe a lottery or something...I just think there has to be some way.

But johngalt thinks:

Ok, fine, you may SELL them, but no adjusting prices based upon demand! Got it? @#$)ing gouger.

Posted by: johngalt at November 12, 2012 6:35 PM
But jk thinks:

Even the NYTimes has to admit customers "appeared exceedingly grateful" to find supplies from those rapacious mercantilists.

Posted by: jk at November 12, 2012 6:40 PM

Liberty on the Rocks

Looks like another superb presentation:

Join us on Monday, November 12th, where your special guest speaker will be Mr. Craig Biddle, editor of the Objectivist Standard, who will be discussing the philosophy of Objectivism. After Mr. Biddle's presentation there will be short Q&A, 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, bring your friends!

At Millers' Grille in Lafayette. 6:00 - 9:00. Alas and alack, the lovely bride and I are snowed in. (No, you needn't send FEMA to Erie, but a small snowstorm has left an inch of ice in the shady path out of le condo d'Amour.)

Posted by John Kranz at 3:55 PM | What do you think? [11]
But Terri thinks:

Me thinks that you and Mr. Biddle have demoted God into a caricature, similar to how Mr. Romney became the caricature of the evil greedy rich white bastard of a Republican.

At the same while that he is suggesting that God the creator doesn't exist and yet everything existed forever and we must just live with that because that's all we know, somehow we are to retrain the masses into accepting Rand's objectivism as the better route of governance without first descending into utter destruction.

The objective reality is - we will not be going there. There will not be a time with this population, in this world, that will allow total deregulation or even now the freedom to live without health care services.

His talk was interesting and I hope that Dagny managed to pick out some helpful hints from him on how to talk to the everyday folk, but we are not going to be living in a country where we voluntarily pay for borders. To be fair, Mr. Biddle did say it would take a lot of re-training. For that what you will need is an unstoppable force of objectivist people who's burning desire is to be a teacher.

I suggest we keep it real.
JK's discussion on the Kardashians make a lot more sense on 'how to get the right votes' than did this talk. NOT because he insulted anyone's faith. He didn't.
Rights coming from being human vs from God is a fine concept, but I believe people are voting not on these rights which are being taken at every turn, but on expediency and the all to human concept that change is bad.

Posted by: Terri at November 13, 2012 10:09 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Bravo Terri! I appreciate your engagement and the chance to be more specific in certain areas. I'll wait for my lunch hour but until then I want to lay a foundation that reality is whatever it is, despite what any majority or minority human opinion says it is.

Nobody can predict the future. However, it took less than two thousand years to train humanity to believe in something without evidence so I'm confident in predicting that can be unlearned in less time when the alternative does have evidence.

Maybe I'm wrong. It's possible. Let's discuss it.

Posted by: johngalt at November 13, 2012 11:50 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Blog sister Terri has compelled me to recall an important point that Craig Biddle made last night, at least partially: The question is not the existence or non-existence of God, rather the existence of a moral basis for individual rights that is independent of God. A theological basis for individual rights can be undermined by denying the existence of the omniscient deity - to undermine a rational basis for individual rights requires, instead, denying the existence of reason. Which is easier to defend, and which is likely to have more widespread acceptance both now and in the future?

Previously I suggested that a religious worldview could be "unlearned" by humanity. While that may be true, Terri's observation that the masses will not soon be retrained is an accurate one. Especially not in the three to four election cycles that Craig suggested is necessary for reform. What is needed is a "box lunch" version of Objectivism that presents the moral (based on survival and self-direction) case for individual rights in a way that is compatible with the major religious traditions. I think this is what Craig is working toward. The beauty of it is that no re-education is required - simply further education.

Does this "all of the above" approach seem more workable to everyone?

Posted by: johngalt at November 13, 2012 3:23 PM
But jk thinks:

I was going to just watch this one. That lasted...hours!

I really like "the existence of a moral basis for individual rights that is independent of God." That is perfect and powerful.

As some recent exposure has driven me toward an acceptance of a "purer" objectivism, I am overwhelmed at the task of propagation. You and I have had this talk a hundred times, but you have never had me so solidly accepting the importance of the "further education" you describe.

I laugh at the left's statist beliefs that we can reprogram people to work "for the community" (each according to his need). Yet if saving freedom requires converting the populace to atheism -- and then replacing their entire social cannon of altruism, and then replacing the love of intuition with pure reason, then we are -- not to put too fine a point on it -- completely hosed. Are we not?

Posted by: jk at November 13, 2012 4:02 PM
But johngalt thinks:

In a word: YES. Therein lies the evil of democracy.

Posted by: johngalt at November 13, 2012 4:27 PM
But Terri thinks:

Why, yes yes you would be hosed if that were the quest. I understood John to be suggesting NOT that we convert the populist to atheism, but instead that you make the argument for liberty because we as reasonable beings can only act reasonably when free. Keep God out of it.

That's all well and good if a) you can do that and b) it spreads to the masses and then c)everyone votes their philosophy.

I don't believe that's how people vote. And I don't believe that it will work in a half/half country.

This election included a lot of "eh - things aren't too bad, I am not going to switch horses now as there is enough uncertainty and I don't really relate to Romney".

We need the narrative, we need the (to bring religion back into it) savior who can bring the enthusiasm and the plain unapologetic talk back. AND frankly the GOP needs a minority. Yes Rubio would be awesome and Martinez, the combo player. Though of course neither have been around long enough for true vetting, but hopefully they are getting the right pushes from the party gang.

But even as a religious person I do not object to a better definition of individual rights than that God gave them. It fits well for anyone of faith as God would be the, as Biddle would say, scaffolding of our reason.

Use it, teach it, spread it and set aside the abortion question for a bit because that's a whole subject that can go either way whether you're religious or not and frankly the GOP needs the religious right or it will become just another Libertarian non event of a party.

Posted by: Terri at November 13, 2012 4:36 PM

"Living like animals"

That is presumably a quote from one of the victims of Hurricane Sandy, a storm more powerful than Katrina, and was taken from the headline of this UK Daily Mail story.

The rest of the headline: Sandy victims hit out after being forced to spend 12 days without power


Another quote, this time from former New York City police officer Diane Uhlfelder at the protest of Long Island Power Authority:

The kids have been out of school for more than a week,' Uhlfelder said. 'All the food is totally ruined, it's expensive eating out every day, so most of the time it's McDonald's, but the cold is the worst. It's been hell.

Does it occur to anyone else that if this storm had passed over Haiti instead of America the number without power would become the number of dead?

If you click through to the second link, the 'Living like animals' story, you can find a 1:30 video [near the bottom] of Governor Andrew Cuomo doing a photo-op aid hand-out (featuring loads of WalMart bags full of stuff) where he took time out to tell a news crew that "all of the utility companies have failed in many ways." Seems they "didn't prepare well enough." Pot, meet kettle. Kettle, pot.

How well was the state prepared? Or the city? Or private individuals?? Who "forced" them to live in a coastal metropolis, or to eschew their own electric generator, or gasoline storage, or freakin' flood insurance? "There is a lot that needs to be fixed here" I heard a middle-aged, apparently able-bodied man tell a Fox News Channel reporter this morning. "Who's gonna take care of it? I still don't know." Dear sir, is there yet a functioning mirror in your privately owned home?

As for Diane, the ex-cop: "Burn your passport and move to the rainforest. And bring your mother there!" [2:30]

"And if it weren't for you, most of those who are here would be left helpless at the mercy of that wind in the middle of some such plain."

UPDATE: jk busting in, so I can add a graphic to my comment. A beloved relative on Facebook posts this:

The poster neither enjoys engagement nor is particularly predelicted to reason, but I was astonished to hear that on the entire eastern seaboard, there were no people who prepared or evacuated. I don't really care their party affiliation.

But this is what we are up against. Everything comes from government. Everything.

But Keith Arnold thinks:

True story: about a year ago, we had some pretty fierce windstorms here in scenic Southern California that knocked out power in a patchwork pattern. Some areas went without power for twelve hours, some as much as six days. My neighborhood, made up of everything within about a three-quarter-mile radius, went almost four days.

Though there was significant wind damage (my damage was limited to the loss of a section of fence), this was NOT apocalyptic. And I hasten to point out the patchwork pattern because, though my home was without power, my office a mere twelve miles away had electricity after just a day, and many others were only down for a few hours.

I make an issue of how mild a "crisis" this was because of the number of my neighbors who were devastated - not in terms of physical damage, but in terms of the dependency. Dozens of my neighbors who were wont to cocoon in their homes most of the time suddenly found themselves walking outdoors, sporting the famous thousand-yard stare. "We have no computers! No Internet! No HBO and no microwaves! The end is nigh!" they wailed. "Who will help us? Who will save us?"

Cecile and I enjoyed candlelight dinners, basking in the warm glow of the fireplace, listening to news on my little hand-crank radio from my bug-out bag, cooking meals over the Weber (and for the love of all that is holy, I know that my neighborhood has plenty of backyard grills...). My gosh, the Golden Arches were fully available just eight blocks away; it's not like civilization had collapsed and the Visigoths and the Vandals had come pouring in. Perhaps it was the withdrawal symptoms, I don't know.

I'm surrounded by people who, had they been on Long Island instead of here, would have no clue how to survive. "FEMA isn't here yet! It's dark at night! There's no basketball game to watch! I'm going to have to eat my cat to survive!"

When the zombie apocalypse comes, these people are going to be doomed.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at November 12, 2012 6:38 PM
But jk thinks:

No doubt every action of government contributed to a more reliable infrastructure and every regulation facilitated repair. It would probably still be dark today without the brain trust in Sacramento.

Posted by: jk at November 12, 2012 6:49 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Don't knock cat meat until you try it. Certain national leaders say it tastes a lot like dog.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at November 12, 2012 9:37 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Good point KA. Southern Californians no doubt make Long Islanders look like a hybrid of Bear Gryllis and MacGyver. After all, they've experienced temperatures below 40F in their lifetimes.

But I do have to ask about your zombie apocalypse reference. My dear brother, do you not know where the zombies come from??

Posted by: johngalt at November 12, 2012 11:50 PM

Traffic Cameras

I caught a fun tweet thread by a great friend of this blog from way back: @pillageidiot

A quick email conversation finds our friend as well as any of us post 11/6.

But johngalt thinks:

Heh. Remember the Jonah Tweet I RTed before the vote?

And now the worst part: trusting the wisdom & good judgment of citizens of United States.

New poignance in light of the outcome.

Posted by: johngalt at November 12, 2012 2:35 PM

Ayn Rand and Kim Kardashian

If that title does not drive blog traffic, then I'm just gonna quit!

I started Atlas Shrugged again yesterday. It has been 25 years or so, people are talking about it, the movie's out -- and the lovely bride bought it on Kindle®.

I had internalized/accepted the idea that her prose was -- if not bad -- not quite up to snuff. My first reaction was how very good it is. It does not appeal to today's Balph Eubanks because of its moral clarity, but to suggest that it lacks subtlety suggests you missed it. Bonus Balph quote:

"Lillian, my angel," Balph Eubank drawled, "did I tell you that I'm dedicating my new novel to you?" "Why, thank you, darling." "What is the name of your new novel?" asked the wealthy woman." "The Heart Is a Milkman."

The early years with Francisco and Dagny are sweet and powerful. I know they cannot squeeze 1080 pages into even three films, but I was stuck at their omission and their importance in the plot line. I'm hoping for at least some flashbacks in Part III. Among the things I missed: Francisco's ancestor Sebastian "shrugging" from Spain and rebuilding in the new world. What an excellent rhythm from the past and foreshadowing.

I highlighted a dozen quotes in the first seven chapters. I'll share a few as I progress. But today's comes with a bonus Kim Kardashian segue:

Francisco smiled; it was a smile of radiant mockery. Watching them, Dagny thought suddenly of the difference between Francisco and her brother Jim. Both of them smiled derisively. But Francisco seemed to laugh at things because he saw something much greater. Jim laughed as if he wanted to let nothing remain great.

People are struck by economic and political arguments from AS, yet I contend that the preceding quote may be its beating heart.

I snobbishly and rationally avoid celebrity news. I care little for what these people do or think or how they live. I may or may not enjoy their art (cf. Joss Whedon). I hear about the Kardashians all the time but I really don't know for what they are famous. Nor has anyone ever explained it to me.

So I clicked an Insty link today: Reasons Why You Shouldn't Like Kim Kardashian. At last! The answer to my questions. I expected at least some nonsensical celebrity-limousine-progressive nonsense.

No. There are -- in this collection -- zero reasons not to like Ms. Kardashian. Nada, nothing, zip. I don't know that that is an exhaustive list and there might be quite a few very good reasons. But I clicked through six or eight and saw nothing (well, not nothing -- I saw quite a bit of Ms. K and she is not without her charms). But "this Halloween costume doesn't look cute on her" (it does, BTW) and "she's too into fashion" (umm, she is in the fashion business) and "she's even on credit cards" (okay) and "she only cares about herself!" (Ms. Rand, caller on line one -- she said it's an emergency...)

So, disabuse me, but is Kim Kardashian our generation's Randian hero? Like Hank Rearden, she seems to have multiple business ventures. She seems successful and dedicated. She's neither on welfare nor on my TV every night saying that others should be. Like Rearden, she takes care of her family:

"Shall I tell you the rest of the words?"

"Go ahead."

"You stood here and watched the storm with the greatest pride one can ever feel -- because you are able to have summer flowers and half-naked women in your house on a night like this, in demonstration of your victory over that storm. And if it weren't for you, most of those who are here would be left helpless at the mercy of that wind in the middle of some such plain."

"How did you know that?" In time with his question, Rearden realized that it was not his thoughts this man had named, but his most hidden, most personal emotion; and that he, who would never confess his emotions to anyone, had confessed it in his question. He saw the faintest flicker in Francisco's eyes, as of a smile or a check mark.

Rand, Ayn (2005-04-21). Atlas Shrugged: (Centennial Edition) (pp. 146-147). Penguin Group. Kindle Edition.

But Terri thinks:

Good for you JK! If this post nets you traffic, we'll call it the gateway post to our more libertarian future.
"They" want to know how to appeal to today's youts, start here boys, start here.

Posted by: Terri at November 12, 2012 11:11 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I can't tell you how pleased I am! I look forward to your more literary interpretations juxtaposed with my mostly philosophical ones.

Your last excerpt was a favorite of mine, and I thought I had quoted it but my earliest quotes come from Chapter 6 and this was not among them.

And that quote serves as segue to a story from the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy that I hope to post later.

Posted by: johngalt at November 12, 2012 11:38 AM
But johngalt thinks:

And your analogy is apt. My default stance toward the Kardashians had been disinterest tinged with contempt. The contempt came from what, at a glance, seemed like unearned fame. Your 10 reasons to dislike her link is changing my opinion. I especially like her for reason 7: she's "selfish." And their #1 reason? She didn't build that!

Posted by: johngalt at November 12, 2012 11:48 AM
But jk thinks:

You forced me to cough up tomorrow's. I think you or brother EY did post this. I don't intend to check that my quotes are unique on this site. If I steal one of yours, consider it homage:

"Society is suffering for lack of business opportunities at the moment, so we've got the right to seize such opportunities as exist. Right is whatever's good for society."

"He didn't dig that ore single-handed, did he?" cried Philip suddenly, his voice shrill. "He had to employ hundreds of workers. They did it. Why does he think he's so good?"

Rand, Ayn (2005-04-21). Atlas Shrugged: (Centennial Edition) (pp. 135-136). Penguin Group. Kindle Edition.

Posted by: jk at November 12, 2012 12:03 PM
But jk thinks:

Mondo heh! I did not make it all the way to #1 before posting; you can deduct blogging points if you wish.

But #1 is indeed straight out of Atlas:

Correct us if we're wrong but having a clothing line, clothing store, and being a spokesperson for an array of products doesn't really seem like it takes much talent to perfect; specially when you have a team of individuals to assist you.

Specially if you had an editor (now that's just mean...)

No, it's tremendously easy to [have] a clothing line, clothing store, and [be] a spokesperson for an array of products. I know that's why I do it!

Posted by: jk at November 12, 2012 1:23 PM

November 11, 2012

Review Corner

The Cato Institute is in good hands.

I read John Allison's The Financial Crisis and the Free Market Cure: Why Pure Capitalism is the World Economy's Only Hope shortly after finishing Yaron Brook's "Free Market Revolution: How Ayn Rand's Ideas Can End Big Government." They are, curiously, the same book.

Allison saw the drama unfold from his point of view as head of BB&T Bank. Allison's take is a lot more detailed and technical than Brook's (while far less technical than Edward Conard's Unintended Consequences), but the two Rand acolytes are in synch philosophically and economically.

Allison was John Galt in Don Luskin's "I Am John Galt," and he describes how her principles guided the management team of BB&T, keeping them out of trouble even though real estate was a huge portion of their business and their geographic areas were among the worst hit. Of course, no good deed goes unpunished in government. BB&T was forced to take TARP funds it did not need, and Allison "went Galt" shortly after:

Unfortunately, BB& T's highly decentralized decision structure has largely been destroyed by the recent regulatory attack. This is true irony in that while BB& T's structure radically outperformed the industry, we have been forced to replicate the credit decision structure of Citigroup, Wachovia, Bank of America, and others, which fundamentally failed. However, a centralized structure gives the regulators a greater sense of control.

Both Brook and Allison use the Bernie Madoff example to separate self-destruction from rational self-interest.

In my role as CEO of a large public company, I have had the opportunity to meet many financially successful people. I have never met anyone who was both financially successful and happy who achieved this result primarily by taking advantage of other people. I have met a few people who were financially successful who, I believe, achieved this result based on some level of deceit. These are the unhappiest people I have ever met.

Unlike Conard (and like Brook), Allison sees little or no role for government regulators. Bad banks gotta fail and people have to select good banks and allow reputation and yield to manage the risk.
Many independents and moderates who are skeptical of big government believe that we do need many regulations. They fail to recognize the incredible march of the regulatory state. They also do not understand that, as public choice theory has proven, government bureaucrats are often motivated by destructive incentives. In my career, since 1971, I cannot think of a single additional regulation placed on the financial services industry that did not reduce the efficiency of the industry and lower the country's overall standard of living. The only success stories have been deregulations (such as interstate branching).

Lots of excerpts in this review, and trust me, there were a criminal number of great ones that did not make the cut. I'll give this book five stars and the heartiest of recommendations. I'll close with this bone to the Randians, from footnote #3:
I also thought about titling the book How the Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant (1783) Caused the Financial Crisis, but that was too obscure for most people, although it was more accurate, since Kant was the major philosophical opponent of reason who put an end to the Enlightenment century (1700s) that indelibly shaped the founding of the United States.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 9:01 AM | What do you think? [0]

Quote of the Day

I'm beginning to think, though, that in real life Joss Whedon would have been on the side of the Alliance. -- Glenn Reynolds
Amen, Professor R.

I hope the Firefly fans around here watch "Castle" with Nathan Fillion; it's quite good. They drop little easter-egg Firefly references frequently, which is fun, but last Monday's -- hidden behind all the election nonsense -- was an outright homage. If you don't watch it, you should try and catch this episode, "The Final Frontier," on Hulu or something.

But Terri thinks:

You're right on both counts. The Alliance and Castle.
Last week's episode was very fun.

Posted by: Terri at November 11, 2012 8:13 PM
But Jk thinks:

Captain Max and Chloe... Castle saying "that Joss Whedon show..." Great stuff!

Posted by: Jk at November 11, 2012 8:21 PM

November 10, 2012

Make the nation's top earners "pay their fair share."

In light of last week's election, and the President's promise to do the above, I'm compelled to reprint the October 19, 2010 ASQOTD.

And when you saw it, you saw the real motive of any person who's ever preached the slogan: 'From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.'

"This was the whole secret of it. At first, I kept wondering how it could be possible that the educated, the cultured, the famous men of the world could make a mistake of this size and preach, as righteousness, this sort of abomination - when five minutes of that should have told them what would happen if somebody tried to practice what they preached. Now I know that they didn't do it by any kind of mistake. Mistakes of this size are never made innocently. If men fall for some vicious piece of insanity, when they have no way to make it work and no possible reason to explain their choice - it's because they have a reason that they do not wish to tell. And we weren't so innocent either, when we voted for the plan at the first meeting. We didn't do it just because we believed that the drippy old guff they spewed was good. We had another reason, but the guff helped us to hide it from our neighbors and from ourselves. The guff gave us a chance to pass off as virtue something that we'd be ashamed to admit otherwise. There wasn't a man voting for it who didn't think that under a setup of this kind he'd muscle in on the profits of the men abler than himself. There wasn't a man rich and smart enough but that he didn't think that somebody was richer and smarter, and this plan would give him a share of his better's wealth and brain. But while he was thinking that he'd get unearned benefits from the men above, he forgot about the men below who'd get unearned benefits, too. He forgot about all his inferiors who'd rush to drain him just as he hoped to drain his superiors. The worker who liked the idea that his need entitled him to a limousine like his boss's, forgot that every bum and beggar on earth would come howling that their need entitled them to an icebox like his own. That was our real motive when we voted - that was the truth of it - but we didn't like to think it, so the less we liked it, the louder we yelled about our love for the common good.

Well Across the Rubicon

Yesterday I promised evidence that America has crossed "a rubicon of takers versus makers." Prior analysis I'd seen placed that number at 48 percent but yesterday, on the excellent website of the Tax Foundation, a non-partisan tax research group based in Washington, D.C since 1937, I discovered an article summarizing the findings of their Fiscal Incidence analysis of U.S. Federal taxes and spending. It was published September 21, 2009.

New analysis from the Tax Foundation's Fiscal Incidence project fills this void and puts hard numbers on the current amount of redistribution and how much the Obama administration's policies will affect that. Currently, the majority of American families receive more in government spending than they pay in taxes, with roughly $826 billion being redistributed from the top 40 percent of families to the bottom 60 percent.

Sixty percent takers (net) - forty percent makers (net)

That was before Obama's policies took effect. The effect of those policies, two years later, is higher tax collections from the top 5 percent only. The other 95 get, at least in the aggregate, more transfer payment than tax increase.

In 2012, after all of Obama's policies are in place, the amount redistributed from the top 5 percent of families will grow in real terms to $770 billion, a 34 percent increase over current levels. Every other income group will benefit from the increased amount taken from the top 5 percent of families and the group of families who, on average, get more back in spending than they pay in taxes will jump to 70 percent of all families.

Seventy percent takers (net) - thirty percent makers (net)

Redistribution is ultimately at the heart of all tax and spending debates in Washington. But lawmakers are doing the public a great disservice if they fail to talk in honest terms about who currently pays for government programs and services, who benefits, and how new policies will change that balance.

But jk thinks:

Hence a discouragement that exceeds the sadness of an election lost. By the next presidential election, 50 - 100 million Americans will be dependent on the government for health care and susceptible to demagoguery and scare tactics.

I will provide some anecdotal sunshine. At a departmental dinner last evening, I was seated next to a co-worker I assumed to be an Obamabot. She let slip that she voted for Gary Johnson and was thinking about joining the big Ls.

I gave her the "Libertario Delenda Est" speech -- I'm nothing if not fair. But I was heartened that this "lifelong Democrat" sees the injury of redistribution (husband owns a small business and voted Romney).


Posted by: jk at November 10, 2012 11:06 AM

November 9, 2012

Quote of the Day

Imagine if this set an example for everyone, and every adulterer resigned from his/her job. Civilization would collapse, no? It would be worse than "going Galt" if everyone goes Petraeus. -- Ann Althouse
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

I dunno. This is not a garden variety affair. Anyone in our intelligence services committing such an act is open to blackmail.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at November 10, 2012 12:08 AM
But AndyN thinks:

I think I have to disagree with both you and Ann.

On the one hand, if every adulterer felt too much shame to remain in high-profile positions of authority, I think civilization would be stronger. Accepting personal responsibilities for your shortcomings and thereby setting a higher moral standard for others is never a bad thing.

On the other hand, you only leave yourself open to blackmail if you try to keep it a secret. We all make mistakes, some much bigger than others, the key is to acknowledge them and try to overcome them. It might have ended his marriage, but if he'd told his wife what he'd done he would have eliminated any leverage his mistress had on him.

Posted by: AndyN at November 10, 2012 7:48 AM

All Hail Ricardo!

I am beginning a new project of stunningly shameless self-promotion. Even by my standards, boy... I'm assembling a compilation of recordings from the past 30 years or so, some released and some not, creating The JK Boxed Set (not much happenin' now, click if you want).

I moved a huge tub of old tapes and discs of peculiar formats and the machines to play them. I have hours of ADAT (8 tracks on digital S-VHS), both 4 and 2-track Sony Minidiscs, my first album was released on vinyl, bla, bla, bla.

What I did NOT have was a plain old vanilla cassette deck. (No, there's no me on 8-Track that I am aware of...) I went to Amazon, thinking I'd need to spend $100 and have some bulky old piece of stereo hardware that I'd give away when my project was done.

I, instead, found this:

It showed up today, and yes you may say it lacks style. But for $15 it does just what I want, outputs to USB (and powers itself off the USB bus) and I can toss it in a drawer for the next cave-man emergency.

Technology Posted by John Kranz at 3:06 PM | What do you think? [0]

November 8, 2012

Non-linear events

The Refugee promised to help bring Blog Brother JK out of his post-election funk. Never let it be said that he isn't there for a friend. Especially if it involves coffee.

Many on the right, perhaps including our illustrious blog leader, postulate that we have crossed a rubicon of takers versus makers, never to return. They are ready to Go Galt. However, The Refugee can recall his grandfather having a similar view in the '70s. Of course, Ronald Reagan was later elected to the great benefit of the American ideal.

The problem with making long-range forecasts is that they assume linear events. An unforeseen event of sufficient magnitude can completely alter the tragectory of a society's direction. The depression certainly did so by making conditions ripe for the era of big government. It could be argued that the Iran hostage crisis make Reagan's ascension possible. Such events, in this case, might include the financial meltdown of Europe or major war in the Middle East. The Refugee sees these events as virtual certainties (although he will not make predictions of timing, having been wrong about Israel attacking Iran before the election). Either of these events would change this country's trajectory, although the revised course is unpredictable. Nevertheless, such events are opportunities to reassert ideas at a time when people are listening.

The fundamental human yearning to be free is unquenchable. Good ideas will always come back into fashion, often when least expected. Keep blogging, my friend.

Philosophy Posted by Boulder Refugee at 9:35 PM | What do you think? [7]
But jk thinks:

Martin Van Buren is elected in 1836. He has nationalized the Tammany Hall/New York political machine, the demography of those way out west states like Kentucky and Ohio favor the Democrats. After a landslide victory to succeed Jackson, clearly it's all over nobody will ever beat the Democrats.

Then, the Panic of 1837 and Van Buren loses in the 1840 rematch to William Henry Harrison.

Excellent point. I'm cheering up.

Posted by: jk at November 9, 2012 9:58 AM
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

Right now the only question in my mind is whether it will be the Panic of 2013 or 2014.

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at November 9, 2012 3:14 PM
But jk thinks:

You're that confident about December, eh?

Posted by: jk at November 9, 2012 3:34 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Non-linear event:- Petreuas esigning - Benghazigate? Yes, he says he had an affair, but could it open the gate to other revelations? Probably The Refugee just hoping against hope.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at November 9, 2012 3:56 PM
But jk thinks:

You mean when those mean old Republicans force a decorated war hero to resign because of their indefatigable pursuit of a ginned-up scandal to tarnish our great President?

That one?

Posted by: jk at November 9, 2012 4:05 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I'm not content to wait for some random event to reassert ideas. In fact, unless the public's preference for security over liberty is reversed in advance there's an equally likely chance that some unforseen event will precipitate a totalitarian state as it will a free one.

I don't necessarily agree that our society will never return, but I absolutely agree that it has crossed a rubicon - and longer ago than this week. I'll post evidence of this soon.

Posted by: johngalt at November 9, 2012 4:44 PM

Why demographics favor Republicans

If that isn't a provocative headline, then The Refugee will never craft one...

Liberal pundits are quick to bury the Republican party as "too old and too white." (As an old white guy, The Refugee is suitably offended...) Here are some rough stats that lead to Obama's victory: 72% of Latinos, 74% of Asians, 65% of single women and 90+% of blacks. Despite these overwhelming numbers, Obama's victory was just 2.4% of the popular vote. Now, imagine if these margins were reduced to 60% of Latinos, 50% of Asians, 55% of single woman and 75% of blacks. With this shift, it would be very difficult for Democrats to win a national election.

So, the task for Democrats is figuring out how to hold impossibly large margins of minority voters. Of course, Republicans need to figure out how to eat into these margins. Given the math, The Refugee would rather be a Republican strategist.

Dee Dee Myers, on Fox News this evening, said that GOP must become the "Grand Opportunity Party." The Refugee couldn't have said it better. We need to stand for fiscal conservatism, school choice, right-to-work, opportunity for immigrants and financial empowerment of ALL Americans. The math can work.

2012 Election Posted by Boulder Refugee at 9:01 PM | What do you think? [0]

Oh yeah!

I lifted this off of the Mises Facebook Page. I would get killed for sharing it there:

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 7:16 PM | What do you think? [0]

Quote of the Day II

From a comment to Kyle Smith's Finita La Commedia (RTWT). I pretty much agree with Kyle; as I noted in the comments below I am doing what I hereby acronym as GLG (Going Limited Galt). I will concentrate on family, local and state. As far as FedGov, haters gonna hate.

Anyway, to the witty and doubleplus good QOTD II:

What could be more important to two people who love each other and want to spend their lives together than to have Americas federal government, through official bureaucratic processes and hence in some vague, attenuated, abstract, disembodied, impersonal and unintentional sense verify or certify their love, governmentally? Whats $16 trillion dollars of debt when compared to that?

Quote of the Day

First a little paperwork: blog friend Sugarchuck requests and is hereby granted QOTD honors for his pithy and poignant election summary of eight letters and an ellipsis.

Today's comes from Dan Henninger:

There's that famous saying: Is this a great country or what? With the way Barack Obama achieved his re-election, that's a good question: Or what?

But johngalt thinks:

Mine was going to be just four letters, and an ellipsis. But well said!

Posted by: johngalt at November 8, 2012 1:25 PM

Thoughts on the Election and the Future

In the wake of the presidential election, conservatives, right-leaning libertarians, and Republicans more generally are in a state of discontent and disbelief. For many in these groups Barack Obama represents the antithesis of everything they believe. As such, the 2012 election was supposed to be a sort of vindication for the right. It was supposed to be the de-throwning of an overhyped progressive politician.

In the aftermath of the results, the story seems to be that Republicans have lost touch with the American electorate. Right-leaning pundits are already pontificating on how Republicans might bring in Hispanics. Left-leaning pundits argue that Republicans have lost young voters, single women voters, and minority voters because they have mischaracterized these voters as dependents of the government. Some have even suggested that Republicans have lost the war of ideas.

Don't believe the hype. The narrative is misplaced.

After every election, there is significant over-reaction with respect to the losing side. In 2004, Democrats were in a state of disbelief that they could not defeat George W. Bush. There were some on the left that openly questioned the future of the Democratic Party if they could not defeat Bush. In addition, when exit polls following that election showed that Bush was bolstered by voters who thought "social issues" were important, members of the Democratic Party began to openly pander to voters in this regard, emphasizing that they too shared the values of the majority of American voters.

Yet 2004 wasnt the end of the Democratic Party. Following the overreach of President Bush in the aftermath of his re-election on issues such as Social Security reform and the ongoing conflict in Iraq, the Democrats took control of the legislative branch.

According to many pundits, President Obama's landslide in 2008 swung the pendulum in the opposite direction. It was now Republicans that were out of touch and incapable of winning elections. But this narrative was wrong as well. The Republicans failed to win the White House in 2008 because George W. Bush was incredibly unpopular, President Obama proved to have an excellent campaign operation, John McCain was not a good candidate for president, and McCain's vice presidential choice was even worse than the candidate himself. Oh, and the economy collapsed just a few short months before the election.

In 2010, Republicans made historic gains in the House of Representatives, a stinging rebuke to President Obama and the first two years of his presidency. But somehow two years later the Republicans are incapable of winning national elections and competing for the presidency?

The most fictitious narrative that emerged in the aftermath of the election is that the Republicans lost the war of ideas. This could not be further from the truth.

When Mitt Romney chose Paul Ryan as his running mate, the move generated a significant amount of conversation about new dynamics of the race. The choice of Ryan was nearly universally seen as turning the election from a referendum on President Obama into an election about ideas. But while that prediction was prevalent, the debate never came. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan campaigned on reforming Medicare, Medicaid, and the tax code. Romney often campaigned with a debt clock and talked about ensuring that the government did not spend more than in took in. And, much to my own dismay, he similarly wanted to engage the president in a debate about trade with China.

Meanwhile, the president's campaign consisted of a large-scale character assassination of Mitt Romney. The Obama campaign made Romney out to be a heartless, rich, corporate takeover artist who did not care about anything (including American voters), except for the bottom line. In addition, the campaign claimed that Romney was waging a war on women; a war so harsh that Romney wanted to deny free contraceptives to co-eds! Obama never discussed plans for entitlement reform or tax policy other than the obligatory claim that he would raise taxes on the rich. Toward the end of the campaign he began to claim that he would be willing to make a grand bargain -- something he had failed to do for four years, including two of which that would have required very little bargaining with the opposite party at all.

So how did President Obama win? He won because he successfully defined Romney as out-of-touch to the average voter. He won because his campaign team proved to be extremely effective four years after hype surrounding the mythical hope and change wore off. His campaign ground game produced the turnout that liberals expected, pollsters picked up on, and Republicans were reluctant, or unwilling, to see. But make no mistake; President Obama did not win on ideas.

Finally, the discussion of demographics is particularly ignorant. Demographics can have an important impact on elections, but they do not do so exogenously. In 1980, many thought that President Reagan would lose Texas in the presidential election. Today, Texas is a Republican stronghold. Some argue that it wont be for long and that the Republican Party is going to lose the presidential elections of the near future because of growing Hispanic populations in Texas and growing populations of young, college age professionals in places like Virginia and North Carolina. But this assumes that these voters are guaranteed to vote for Democrats. Those are the current voting patterns, but they needn't be the case and the Republicans dont necessarily have to radically alter their message to appeal to these voters.

I know this because I am a highly educated young voter who holds many of the same views of fellow highly educated young voters on social issues. I support same sex marriage. While I am personally opposed to abortion, I do not favor government intervention to impose those preferences. I support immigration reform that would make the path to citizenship easier, not harder, especially for high-skilled immigrants.

Despite these characteristics, I still predominantly vote Republican. I do so because (a) I believe in economic freedom, and (b) I believe government intervention is antithetical to both social and economic freedom. For example, I recognize that social liberties do not require that the government force insurers to provide contraceptives at zero out-of-pocket cost. I recognize that even though I am opposed to a ban on abortion, this does not imply that I should support government funding of abortion. I recognize that lower taxation and more economic freedom is the best path to economic growth and prosperity. I recognize that discussions about whether we need more or less regulation are asinine and that the metric for assessing regulation requires an analysis of the incentive structure it creates. I recognize that equality of opportunity, rather than outcome, is paramount to a free society. And along these lines, I recognize that perhaps more important than any other issue concerning both economic and social freedom, equality of opportunity with regards to education is the civil rights issue of our day and that such equality can only exist when there is competition among schools and parents have the freedom of choice.

Republicans have not lost the battle of ideas because there has been no such battle -- at least not in recent political discourse. But the Republicans need not wait for the debate to come to them. They should lead the charge. They should promote tax reform and explain the role of such reform in generating economic growth. They should lead on school choice. And they should emphasize that greater social freedom implies less government intervention.

I believe in free markets and free people. Articulating the ideas behind that belief is the key to success. If you dont believe me, look at other countries. Canada and Sweden are two notable examples that have moved toward, not away, from freer markets in recent decades. Sweden even has school choice. Countries throughout the world are lowering corporate income taxes. The financial crisis has merely masked part of this trend.

Freedom, both economic and social, is a powerful message and one the Republicans need to more fully embrace and certainly better articulate. But one cannot win on message alone. Republicans need to become better organized and run more efficient campaigns to turn out voters who believe in these ideas. In the meantime, do not despair about the future of the party or of the country.

Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 11:20 AM | What do you think? [6]
But johngalt thinks:

Great rant. It seems that you, like I, don't vote for Republicans so much as againstDemocrats - as a counterweight to their greater tendency toward the welfare state. And now we see where that got us.

I disagree with your characterization of Governor Palin, but this is inconsequential. McCain and the financial bubble were bigger problems. Combined with the same dynamic we saw Tuesday, they were bound to lose.

And one caution: Beware of promoting "equality of opportunity" as alternative to equal outcome. Equality of human beings is an unnatural state, requiring state intervention to achieve. Equal treatment under law is the moral principle we must promote.

I'm feeling better after reading this. Y'all?

Posted by: johngalt at November 8, 2012 1:21 PM
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

Second that, brother jg!

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at November 8, 2012 2:30 PM
But jk thinks:

A stock line in this house when somebody says Feeling better:

Waiter (John Cleese): Ah, good afternoon Sir, and 'ow are we today?

Mr. Creosote (Terry Jones): Better...

Waiter: Better?

Mr. Creosote: Better get a bucket. I'm going to throw up!

I guess I am coming around, but you might wanna keep that bucket handy...

Posted by: jk at November 8, 2012 3:46 PM
But jk thinks:

And I'll second jg on Governor Griz. An admittedly imperfect candidate, she added spark to a dull ticket and a philosophical center to one that was rudderless. I don't yearn for her return to the electoral stage, but she was not the worst candidate on that particular ticket.

Powerline (++NaCl) suggests that ticket might have won in 2012.

Posted by: jk at November 8, 2012 4:00 PM
But Terri thinks:

This IS a great rant. I'm going to excerpt part of it for my blog because it's perfect. Am I cheerful yet? No, not when JK is still down, but the words have been coming.
A right wing friend has completely disavowed a left wing (actually - apolitical yet Obama supporter) friend. Both want me in the middle and rather than step aside, I have stepped in.

Yes - I understand completely why she no longer wants to be friends with clearly do not believe in freedom, in low taxes, in less govt intervention, or in anything she, as a small business owner needs to survive. Yes, I can understand why she would stop investing with you. How could she when you don't believe in free markets? Oh you say you do believe? You don't show it when you vote for people like Obama.

Posted by: Terri at November 8, 2012 5:56 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Outstanding rant. To quote John Paul Jones, "I have not yet begun to fight." By all means, let's have the fight.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at November 8, 2012 10:08 PM



At Last

By Mack Gordon and Harry Warren ©1941

Live at the Coffeehouse dot Com

But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Glad to hear you back actively strumming the strings!

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at November 8, 2012 10:21 PM

November 7, 2012

Cake Song for the Day!

Was struck strongly by the applicablility of these lyrics. Ah, does music have the power to heal!
Sorry, no embed

I'm not feeling alright today
I'm not feeling that great
I'm not catching on fire today
Love has started to fade
I'm not going to smile today
I'm not gonna laugh
You're out living it up today
I''ve got dues to pay

And the grave-digger puts on the forceps
The stone mason does all the work
The barber can give you a haircut
The carpenter can take you out to lunch

I just want to play on my pan-pipes
I just want to drink me some wine
As soon as you're born you start dying
So you might as well have a good time

Sheep go to heaven
Goats go to hell

I dont wanna go to sunset strip
I dont wanna feel the emptiness
Bold marquees with stupid band names
I dont wanna go to sunset strip

And the grave-digger puts on the forceps
The stone mason does all the work
The barber can give you a haircut
The carpenter can take you out to lunch

I just want to play on my pan-pipes
I just want to drink me some wine
As soon as your born you start dying
So you might as well have a good time

Sheep go to heaven
Goats go to hell

Music Posted by Ellis Wyatt at 8:21 PM | What do you think? [0]

GOP Winners and Losers

The time for soul-searching, second-guessing and recriminations among Republicans has begun. In taking stock of the party for the future, picking winners and losers helps understand what to toss overboard and what to build upon. Despite the election results, The Refugee refuses to put Gov. Romney in the loser category; he proved himself to be a man of honor, integrity and unimpeachable character. "Loser" and "Romney" should never be used in the same sentence.


Paul Ryan - Rep. Ryan proved himself to be articulate, a good campaigner and a champion of responsible government. He proved that he is presidential material and a standard-bearer for the party.

Marco Rubio - Sen. Rubio gave a block-buster speech at the convention, banked a lot of IOUs with tireless campaigning and proved that he can build a bridge between the GOP and the Hispanic community. He, too, is presidential material.

Susana Martinez - Gov. Martinez entered the national stage with grace, power and brilliance. While perhaps not yet a recognized national player, she could be awesome as #2 on a ticket with either Rubio or Ryan.

Entitlement Reform - Given that a major new entitlement has now been enshrined, this winner would seem counter-intuitive. Nevertheless, entitlement reform no longer seems to be the third rail of politics. Romney/Ryan introduced it as an adult conversation, which will likely give it a seat at any budget negotiations table. Whether or not it will be served is questionable, but at least it's got a menu.

House GOP members - Although the Left likes to say that the House must now compromise, GOP members were re-elected just as surely as the president. Their power is enhanced as the only counterweight to Eurosocialism.


Chris Christie (GOAT - NJ) - After one of the worst keynote convention speeches in memory, self-serving campaigning and the undeserved bear-hug of Obama post-Sandy, the Christie national brand is permanently damaged among Republicans. He refused to step up when his party and his country needed him most. He had best not expect us to step up if he decides that he needs us in 2016.

Social conservatives - Social-issues conservatives have proved that they cannot win anything larger than a House seat. The national attitude toward gay rights, abortion and immigration have changed permanently. As The Refugee's father used to say, "You can't legislate morality." Social-issues conservatives must come to the realization that social change comes through persuasion, not legislation. The fact is, if people became convinced that abortion is wrong, it wouldn't matter what the Supreme Court said; abortion would halt. By all means, preach, advertise and prosthyletize - but get personal religious values out of the party platform.

GOP SuperPACs - GOP SuperPACs had an enormous amount of material to pound Obama with. Not only did they fail to do so, they failed to defend Romney from the relentless attacks from Democrat SuperPACs. They squandered hundreds of millions of dollars in ill-conceived and totally ineffective messaging.

Readers will note that The Refugee did not put the Tea Party into either category. The Tea Party fundamentally stands for fiscal conservatism and must continue to do so. The Refugee is convinced that fiscal conservatism can still be a big political winner, but no longer overrides social issues for the majority of voters. Social conservatives have sailed under the Tea Party flag, but we must begin to separate the two.

2012 Election Posted by Boulder Refugee at 8:20 PM | What do you think? [6]
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

Spot. ON. I am a "social conservative" but agree that moral suasion is the approach to get results.

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at November 7, 2012 10:55 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

I do not wholly agree that SIC's lost the election. Equally viable theories are:

- unwillingness to go negative;
- the Free Stuff argument beat the Freedom argument.

Look at Greece; they have been firmly and repeatedly told their stuff aint free, and I've seen no budging of the demand to get it anyway.

I do have to agree with JG and Coulter: if the GOP can't win against THIS crowd, record, etc., then it needs torn down. It could take a lot of burning.

My positive hope is the house will develop serious backbone, and play it's cards carefully (and be really ready to "go negative") even to the point of forcing a constitutional crisis over "No Budget" Reid.

Posted by: nanobrewer at November 8, 2012 12:46 AM
But Jk thinks:

I agree on your winners and do not hold Gov. Romney culpable for the loss.

But when social conservatives are removed from the party, we lack the numbers to win. When they are included, they scare off others. I no longer see a path to achieve the ends of liberty through the means of politics. It's 749 and they just called Wisconsin Blue and North Carolina is too close. One sees this is not going to work.

If we are going to continue playing, I must add Immigration to your loser column. Tell the fastest growing segment of the electorate that we need a wall to keep them out. Wonder why you lose the 30 - 70. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Next election, add 100000000 voters now reliant on government for health care. Game over. Two hundred thirty three years was a great run.

Posted by: Jk at November 8, 2012 3:06 AM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

JK! Buddy! Come off the roof! Don't jump! It'll be OK!! Your friend, The Refugee, will address this in a post later today.

NB, SICs didn't lose the presidential election, but have a miserable record running for the Senate. More later.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at November 8, 2012 8:15 AM
But jk thinks:

I look forward to The Refugee's follow up because I value his opinion. But I am not despondent. You can leave the sharp objects and my belt around le condo d'Amour; I'm fine.

But I spend an inordinate amount of time on politics and liberty theory. I enjoy it and it has become something that defines me. The shock you feel through my terrible typing is that I no longer believe that it is going to work.

I questioned whether to put the Debbie Downer comment under your excellent post, but you're suggesting that this old GOP car needs a tune up and I suggest it is totaled.

Pragmatism, fusionism, Libertario Delenda Est -- none of these is going to work. Yaron Brook and my brother say we have to reeducate people and change their priorities and beliefs: trading Ayn Rand's wisdom for the Ooompa Loompah's. How's that going to work?

My Facebook friends will gloat for another day or two and forget politics for four years. But they'll be back in 2016 with no more appreciation for liberty or limited government. (Today's meme: a picture of Senators-elect Tammy Baldwin and Elizabeth Warren and Sen. McCaskill with the headline "We Brought Binders Full of Women to the US Senate!) It's so precious I could just barf.

I don't care for quitters, but I need a reasonable vision or target of success. We have broken the safeguards that restrain government and I don't see that they can be restored through the political process.

Posted by: jk at November 8, 2012 10:33 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Rand saw this coming 60-plus years ago. Her "cautionary tale" may yet become a blueprint. But just as we don't have a magical static elecricity engine, we don't all have to physically move to a hidden Shangri-la, or even break the law. 51% only applies to democracy, but thanks to progressive taxation it only takes 25% to wipe out 86% of government's revenue. And this is approximately the same share of the population who self-identify as Taxed Enough Already.

Think of an 'Operation Chaos' type of popular movement where net tax payers make a united effort to cut their incomes... live off their savings for a while... start in January 2015 and defer income until, say, January 2017. (Two years might not be enough. Might need to start earlier. '14? '13??)

Posted by: johngalt at November 8, 2012 12:28 PM

An Alternative

This is an hour and a half (ouch!) but Whittle limns a path between revolution and submission that might appeal to ThreeSourcers...

Posted by John Kranz at 7:44 PM | What do you think? [4]
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

Partway through...yay!

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at November 7, 2012 8:38 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Finally viewing this and 5 or 6 minutes in I recognize a few thoughts that dovetail with what I wrote in comment 6 on the post above: Decentralization, law abiding, global vs. national in scope, and shifting reform efforts away from the electoral process.

I wince at his use of the word "selfish" to describe moochers and their political agents.

Not 50 years... 80-odd years.

Some bookmarks:

18- "Virtue has to be taught."
20- Virtue is a threat to the unvirtuous. It makes them feel small.
25- Government is so big it is unsteerable.
26- "Build parallel structures"
28- NASA is metaphor for the rest of government.
29- Always obey the law. Never even talk about not doing so.
34- Friends with Burt Rutan!
37- "Society of Soft Desires"
38- "The way you beat these people..." Private, parallel, fee-for-service public structures.
43- Organic public schools, information age content with retiree teachers.

Paused at 45. Very good stuff BUT, so far, no discussion how to resist the new goverment regulation, coercion and taxation that will be implemented to fulfill the need discussed at 20-.

Posted by: johngalt at November 8, 2012 3:55 PM
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

Okay, heard the whole thing, and the answer, jg, is that the "commonsense resistance" is no resistance at all. We're gonna ignore them and set up a "parallel structure," abide the law, pay our taxes and...ignore them--media, FedGov and various other ass*****. It is what I was talking about before. Waste no another second, breath or dollar trying to win the Presidency or Congress. They don't really work anymore. Ignore, and spend all our time and resources being effective. I admit, I am buying in.

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at November 8, 2012 7:35 PM
But jk thinks:

Super interesting. The flaw might be the intractable regulatory state. If you're selling Big Gulps or Raw Milk or braiding hair without a cosmetology license or crazy stuff like that.

I'll pile on w/jg's bookmarks -- I meant to include this in the post: "I only came to this place through a great deal of philosophy and a great deal of pain. (~17:30)"

Posted by: jk at November 8, 2012 7:43 PM

RAHQOTD - Statist President Re-Election Edition

Help us Robert! Give us something to cheer us up!

[Originally posted on July 5, with a link to a nice culture war post.]

Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded -- here and there, now and then -- are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty. This is known as "bad luck."

-- RAH "Time Enough for Love" (1973)

Tweet of the Day

2012 Election Posted by John Kranz at 12:41 PM | What do you think? [0]

Hope you didn't come to ThreeSources for cheering up

I've been magnanimous in victory and gracious in defeat before. My health issues are not such that I do not expect to win or lose more elections.

But I cannot lie. The 2012 results shred everything in which I believe. My philosophy is, of course, the same: free people and free markets rule. But my electoral strategy is in tatters.

-- November the sixth marks the death of Frank Meyers's Fusionism which I have celebrated on these pages and bolstered at every opportunity. It is the foundation of ThreeSources that the economic libertarian and the religious conservative can find common ground in limited government and assemble an electoral majority. It's an uneasy friendship but it had successfully delayed the adoption of European social policy for decades. That broke down last night and I suspect that all the king's horses will be unable to repair it (though why one would expect horses to be adept at such things...)

-- The Tea Party, bless their pea picking little hearts, cannot replace it. I expected last night to be the Tea Party's coming out party. The group that graduated from rallies and silly hats and and funny signs to staff party offices would flex its muscles and show itself as a mature and effective political movement. We/they could not even get Mia Love elected in UT-1. Yeah, Ted Cruz won in Texas, but Allen West is out and the stench of Coleridge albatross will deservedly hang over the Missouri and Indiana Senate races for six years.

-- Libertario Delenda Est? The new David Boaz book boasts -- boasts! -- that 15% of the electorate is libertarian. Hey! Our team is 22nd in defense in the NFL! Wooohooo!

Sorry, lads and lasses, but I am selling a product that nobody wants. Some of this is post-loss-funk, but only fools and Rep. Nancy Pelosi refuse to reevaluate after a thumping.

The refrain on CNBC last night was "we spent $2 Billion and still have the status quo ante: GOP House - Dem Senate - Dem White House." Today's right-wing line is that the president has no mandate. Balderdash. The forces of liberty were rend in twain last night.

Or as a good friend of this blog puts it succinctly in an email: "Well fuck...."

UPDATE: Prof, Jacobsen is more upbeat. And I confess the House retention contradicts my pessimism.

So what is the path now?

Stand with House members, they will need all the support they can get. Don't compromise on principles, and push the eventual legislative compromises to the right as much as possible.

View Tuesday as a substantial setback but not the end.

UPDATE II: And the WSJ Editorial Board:
Some of our conservative friends will argue that Mr. Obama's victory thus represents a decline in national virtue and a tipping point in favor of the "takers" over the makers. They will say the middle class chose Mr. Obama's government blandishments over Mr. Romney's opportunity society. We don't think such a narrow victory of an incumbent President who continues to be personally admired justifies such a conclusion.

Perhaps this fear will be realized over time, but such a fate continues to be in our hands. There are few permanent victories or defeats in American politics, and Tuesday wasn't one of them. The battle for liberty begins anew this morning.

But Mrs. Keith Arnold thinks:

Echoing the hubby, I float the thought that of "Atlas Shrugging." I picked the hubby's brain as to how the book ended and you know, it's a long, hard road but if all goes as planned, it's a reset. Right now we're looking at the makings of the blue screen of death.

And not to add to the hubby's passionate diatribe about the wrongs in last night's election but Alan Grayson?? Really??

Posted by: Mrs. Keith Arnold at November 7, 2012 3:26 PM
But johngalt thinks:

UPDATE: And pushing social liberty on my Republican friends:

One of the resolutions at this year's Colorado Republican Assembly was "Abortion and birth control are personal private matters and not the business of government." It was approved with 58 percent or so of delegate votes. When I explained this to a woman circulating a right-to-life petition at a Romney campaign appearance a man near us yelled at me, "Well they're WRONG!" No sir, YOU are wrong.

It's more depressing that elected leaders believe conservatives should abandon fighting for the life of the unborn.

Nobody should ever stop fighting for the life of the unborn, just stop trying to use government power to do it. A government powerful enough to prevent personal medical procedures is not what the Founders intended.

a govt unable & unwilling to protect the most sacred private property of all is not what the founders intended.

People are not property - born or unborn.

My life is my property. You have no right to infringe upon my god given property.

Really? Even if you were a pregnant woman and intended to murder your unborn baby?

Ya. Point?

Then you must believe that government has that right even if I do not.

You've lost me. We are all entitled to the God given right of life. But I've stated my case & I realize this is going nowhere.

To the contrary, I have just demonstrated how giving government the power to regulate pregnancy - in the name of the high "good" of life of the unborn - also gives government the power to impose economic fascism - in the name of the high "good" of altruism. If you don't see this obvious connection then please, give it some thought. THINK about what the principles you hold so dear really imply.
Posted by: johngalt at November 7, 2012 3:28 PM
But jk thinks:

@Mrs. Keith -- I'll see your Alan Grayson and raise you: Senator Elizabeth Warren on the Senate Banking Committee!

@Brother jg: subtract all the pro-life votes from the Red column last night and try to replace them with consistent leave-me-alone types. Edward Conard credits Roe v. Wade (and fusionism by reflection) with keeping the US out of European social policy.

As I said, I think the model is breaking down. But it is a very difficult one to replace.

Posted by: jk at November 7, 2012 3:45 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I agree with KA's analysis, and will concede that the desire for "statism, socialism and the dole" is a bigger factor than the right to party. I won't go as far though as to say America is a majority moocher/looter nation. We still oppose (barely) tax hikes on the rich.

But people see through hypocrisy. Demanding economic liberty while denying social liberty is such with a capital H.

The turning point we've reached is that without the pro-life votes or even with them, economic liberty loses. If we're going to rebuild the team for the long run the first step is to cut all of the players who, philosophically at least, carry water for the other team.

Posted by: johngalt at November 7, 2012 3:58 PM
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

It is bracing and encouraging to read the above comments. I am not going to give up fighting for liberty, not in the least. But I'm giving up on trying to change FedGov. Let us TAKE liberty for ourselves and our friends and loved ones. It was never GIVEN by any government, anyway. As Harry Browne (bless his heart) once wrote, "We accept that there can be free nations in an unfree world; why not free states in unfree nations, free towns in unfree states, free individuals in unfree towns?"

Or something like that. I haven't read the book in 15 years. I got the gist, though.

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at November 7, 2012 6:42 PM
But jk thinks:

Not too far from Bill Whittle's suggestion (embedded a few posts above)

Posted by: jk at November 7, 2012 7:50 PM

Economic Collapse Planning Guide

Well that was certainly less than satisfying. And quite honestly unexpected. Kudos to dagny for seeing it coming. At this late hour with minimal effort having been expended in the analysis, I can only place the blame, once again, on modern America's refusal to be lectured on social mores.

While a majority of the bouncing, exuberant hoards of Obama supporters do look like drunken sailors itching for another 4-year spending binge I don't believe they could achieve electoral success without the single female vote (and the single males who wish to impress them) and their single-issue determination to punish the GOP for "allowing" Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock - a poor excuse for a TEA Party candidate if ever there was one - to represent the party. And the anti-gay marriage albatross isn't doing the party any favors either. If the GOP can't be successful without evangelicals, and if evangelicals can't learn to live and let live, then I say it's time to Burn This MF'er Down and rebuild the party from scratch. Kindred spirits: the Philadelphia Eagles and the GOP.

As for that economic collapse, the good news is that it approaches slowly. While America has willfully ignored another opportunity to change course, there will be time for more chances. External events may force a change. Staying Obama's course will reveal its folly. Tomorrow is another day. Don't just take my word for it, take Yaron Brook's.

November 6, 2012

Keep the Change

We speculated on tracks for tonight -- here is one for today: sweet, funky acoustic groove with guaranteed ThreeSources-friendly lyrics:

Keep the Change!

Music Posted by John Kranz at 6:38 PM | What do you think? [0]

Kim Strassel's Prediction

Kim Strassel feels bound by the sacred covenant as well:

Predicting an election is risky business, but political journalists ought to be expected to take some risks. So I'm calling it for Mitt Romney.

She gives the Governor 289. That's mine, plus the Granite State, which I had saved for a way out if other picks went bad.

2012 Election Posted by John Kranz at 3:32 PM | What do you think? [0]

News Polls: Not worth the paper they're printed on

Revising political poll results to achieve a specific outcome by adjusting the sample is now so commonplace and so "oh, you mean that's not ok?" that newspapers are writing stories about it!

I predict this will be the post mortem lesson of this election - how the RCP average of political polls has exacerbated this practice. They had to go even further so that the bad polls can drag the good ones far enough to make the RCP average what the press wants it to be.

Quote of the Day

A two-fer from Kurt Schuler @

"The people have spoken, the bastards." -- Dick Tuck, in his concession speech in a race for the California State Senate in 1966

"Imagine if all of life were determined by majority rule. Every meal would be a pizza. Every pair of pants, even those in a Brooks Brothers suit, would be stone-washed denim. Celebrity diet and exercise books would be the only thing on the shelves at the library. And -- since women are a majority of the population -- we'd all be married to Mel Gibson." -- P. J. O'Rourke, 1991

Libertario Delenda Est

I am on to something.

Xxxxxx wrote: "JK, that's [Christopher DeMuth's ObamaCare editorial] the most chilling summary I've heard that sways me toward a Romney vote. If we lose the free market completely, there is no going back, regardless of how much better the NEXT candidate could be."

Plus I am in good really awesome company. Randy Barnett (HOSS) has a guest editorial in the WSJ today:
As a young libertarian, I was very enthusiastic about the formation of the Libertarian Party. I proudly cast my vote for Roger MacBride for president. I attended the 1975 national convention in New York that nominated him. But, while I am as libertarian today as I was then, I have come to believe that the Libertarian Party was a mistake.

The reason is simple. Unlike a parliamentary system in which governments are formed by coalitions of large and small parties, our electoral system is a first-past-the-post, winner-take-all one in which a winning presidential candidate just needs to get more than 50% of the vote. This means each contending "major" party is itself a coalition that needs to assemble enough diverse voting groups within it to get to 51%. Hence the need to appeal to the so-called moderates and independents rather than the more "extreme" elements within.

Libertario Delenda Est. Like sister dagny, I will continue my quest win or lose. I intend to keep my focus on making the GOP more libertarian and libertarians more Republican. There will be much work either way.

2012 Election Posted by John Kranz at 1:31 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

Awesome! Let me know if I will be needing to dip into my beer money.

Posted by: johngalt at November 6, 2012 2:14 PM
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

With you all down the line, brother!

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at November 6, 2012 6:54 PM

November 5, 2012

Final Prediction

Blogger gotta stick neck out. It's in a contract somewhere. Sacred pundit covenant and all.

James Pethokoukis got me going -- dude is an optimist!

But I am too. I take Jimi P's and give Minnesota and Iowa to the President. That's still 285 -243, and Gov. Romney can afford to lose one more state, provided it isn't one that's round on the ends and high in the middle.


2012 Election Posted by John Kranz at 7:16 PM | What do you think? [9]
But jk thinks:

AlexC gets 278 without Ohio. Not implausible...

Posted by: jk at November 5, 2012 8:10 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

278? 285?

If 285 is your over/under, put me down for a round of beers on Over. And I don't plan on losing this.

Some optimism for you over at Ace:

Posted by: Keith Arnold at November 6, 2012 12:35 AM
But jk thinks:

I'll buy anybody a drink anywhere if it is over 285!

Posted by: jk at November 6, 2012 2:47 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I'll buy anybody a drink if it is over 269!!

Posted by: johngalt at November 6, 2012 4:34 PM
But jk thinks:

Heh -- then again, at 269, it gets thrown to the House, where we look pretty good. We could end up with Romney-Biden, in which case we'd all be drinking...

Posted by: jk at November 6, 2012 5:20 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yeah, if it's 269 Biden buys the drinks. If it's less, free drinks for everyone - on the White House!

Posted by: johngalt at November 6, 2012 5:25 PM

Even the Children Learn

I respect the sobreity of brother Ellis' prior post but I do believe caution is in order. There's another equally possible outcome. After all, none of the republics which failed throughout history had the internet... or YouTube.

This episode has been on my mind since the summer of 2008. Now, on the eve of the referendum vote, it finally seems fully appropriate.

But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

Thanks for that. Amazing how a little Star Trek can brighten up our notions of the future!

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at November 5, 2012 7:34 PM

Kudlow: Optimists Win!

Putting aside all the voter models, there's one overlooked point worth making with Election Day at hand. Most times in American politics, optimists win, and pessimists lose. I know thats not always the case. And sometimes it's hard to distinguish between the two. But in this election, I believe Mitt Romney is the optimist, and Barack Obama is the pessimist. It's Romney's election to win. -- Larry Kudlow
2012 Election Posted by John Kranz at 5:51 PM | What do you think? [0]

Albert Jay Nock: The Masses and the Remnant

Have you read the Book of Isiah lately? As we head into tomorrow and the Most Important Election of Our Lifetimes, I recall what the great Albert Jay Nock had to say in The Atlantic Monthly back in 1936:

It was one of those prosperous reigns, however like the reign of Marcus Aurelius at Rome, or the administration of Eubulus at Athens, or of Mr. Coolidge at Washington where at the end the prosperity suddenly peters out and things go by the board with a resounding crash. (...)

"Tell them what is wrong, and why and what is going to happen unless they have a change of heart and straighten up. Don't mince matters. Make it clear that they are positively down to their last chance. Give it to them good and strong and keep on giving it to them. I suppose perhaps I ought to tell you," He added, "that it won't do any good. The official class and their intelligentsia will turn up their noses at you and the masses will not even listen. They will all keep on in their own ways until they carry everything down to destruction, and you will probably be lucky if you get out with your life." (...)

Why, if all that were so if the enterprise were to be a failure from the start was there any sense in starting it? "Ah," the Lord said, "you do not get the point. There is a Remnant there that you know nothing about. They are obscure, unorganized, inarticulate, each one rubbing along as best he can. They need to be encouraged and braced up because when everything has gone completely to the dogs, they are the ones who will come back and build up a new society; and meanwhile, your preaching will reassure them and keep them hanging on. Your job is to take care of the Remnant, so be off now and set about it." (...)

As the word masses is commonly used, it suggests agglomerations of poor and underprivileged people, laboring people, proletarians, and it means nothing like that; it means simply the majority. The mass man is one who has neither the force of intellect to apprehend the principles issuing in what we know as the humane life, nor the force of character to adhere to those principles steadily and strictly as laws of conduct; and because such people make up the great and overwhelming majority of mankind, they are called collectively the masses. The line of differentiation between the masses and the Remnant is set invariably by quality, not by circumstance. The Remnant are those who by force of intellect are able to apprehend these principles, and by force of character are able, at least measurably, to cleave to them. The masses are those who are unable to do either.

One may, if one has actually had a semblance of an education, recall that the Founders made sure the masses would not have a real voice in how the United States was to be run. As in every Republic in history, this gradually broke down. 1913, 1933, 1965...each step in the process seemed right at the time. There were good reasons; all the best professors at America's finest universities taught them.

And so we have come to this pass. Tomorrow, I expect that the masses will reelect the President and accelerate the time whent he Remant must again rebuild a failing society. Take a deep breath, Three Sourcers. We are a piece of the Remnant and better put on our armor and sharpen our swords, for truly the Scheiss is coming.

But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

I realize that this is serving as a sort of election prediction. I would be delighted to be proven wrong tomorrow. If so, I will happily go right out of the Prophecy business!

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at November 5, 2012 3:47 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Might I add, when the Scheiss hits the rotary impeller, it will not be distributed evenly.

Isaiah had an unenviable job laid out before him. I disagree with you about tomorrow's expectations, but even with the SCOAMF departing 1600 Pennsylvania, it only slows down the process. Eventually, all Republics follow the course of the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

That being said, it will be the place of the Remnant to rebuild in the aftermath of the economic carnage, and I'd recall these words to your mind for that situation:

"The road is cleared," said Galt. "We are going back to the world."

Posted by: Keith Arnold at November 5, 2012 4:16 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"SURVIVOR: US Economic Collapse Edition"

Posted by: johngalt at November 5, 2012 5:16 PM
But dagny thinks:

Seems like there are several places I could put this reply but I am going to put it here because, I think I must be counted among the pessimists at this time. I don’t wish to be remnant. Such re-building will require guns, and hunger. I might survive such but as one of the few parents on this blog, I realize that it would be very hard on my little kids. It will cost them a childhood if not more.

I remember on election eve 4 years ago thinking that we would probably win because there was no way that 50% of our electorate was stupid enough to vote for such a thinly-veiled, failed socialist ideology. Boy was I wrong! I clearly misjudged our electorate. I still don’t think they are mostly stupid, naïve, uneducated, or lazy. I think they are mostly irrational. I don’t think they are intentionally or maliciously irrational. I think they are unknowingly trained to be irrational.

For example, many say that, “health care is a right, everyone should have healthcare.” But they also agree that Doctors, Nurses, and Janitors in hospitals deserve to be paid. So how can I have a, “right,” to someone else’s efforts? But the vast majority of Americans are capable of holding these and many other inherently contradictory ideas.

So I think they will re-elect Barack Obama because they are incapable of recognizing which policies have resulted in our current economic woes, and which policies might correct them based on rational analysis. I sure hope I am wrong again!

Win or lose, I will continue my efforts to fight the destruction of this country as we know it.

As my jg says, “Atlas Shrugged was a cautionary tale, not a blueprint.”

Posted by: dagny at November 5, 2012 8:45 PM


I am cautiously optimistic, thanks in part to videos like this:

Hat-tip: Terri, who's predicting Romney 53%

2012 Election Posted by John Kranz at 2:52 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

R-R: Real Recovery.

Posted by: johngalt at November 5, 2012 5:00 PM

Quote of the Day

At times, it seems almost as if President Obama wants to impose the failed Illinois model on the whole country. Each year of his presidency has produced unsustainable deficits, and he takes no responsibility for his spending. Worse still, unemployment has become chronic, and many Americans have given up on looking for work. -- Sheldon Adelson
A stunning piece ("I Didn't Leave the Democrats. They Left Me"), holler if you want it emailed.

Oh, is there an election tomorrow?

Listening to political hacks argue about polling data seemed foolish yesterday. We are hours away and I am content to bring on the one poll that counts. I was a bit disheartened to see Dr. Larry Sabato predict the President's reelection, but I carry on.

I made one last "Libertario Delenda Est" to a wavering libertarian musician buddy. He still is undecided between the evil Governor Romney and four more years. I thought about offering him jg's beer, but flipped a coin and instead shared Chris Demuth's A Referendum on ObamaCare and Liberty. Tuesday's choice on health care is pretty much irrevocable.

America is a large, wealthy, dynamic and heterogeneous nation. It is also the only major country that continues to maintain a health-care system with substantial elements of competitive supply, pricing freedom, patient choice, and diversity in approaching complex and uncertain medical problems.

Moving from a world with one such system to a world with none--a world with no major market where new medical drugs and devices can be priced to return large investments in research and development, for example--will fundamentally change the prospects for future medical progress.

The most important result of ObamaCare will go beyond health care, though, to the dynamics of American politics. Today, the details of federal government policy are important primarily to those in heavily regulated sectors such as finance, energy and communications; to professionals such as lawyers and tax accountants; and to those who for one reason or another are dependent on public assistance. Between elections, most members of the American middle class can go about their lives with little distraction from Washington.
Every middle-class American of every age and circumstance will be constantly in the government's sights. The tendency--already evident at the state level--will be to require generous, subsidized coverage of routine health and "wellness" services involving lifestyle, cosmetics, amenity and child development; of "preventive medicine" such as weight-reduction programs; and of "alternative medicine" such as massage and herbal therapies. At the same time (as already evident under Medicare) the treatment of infrequent but costly catastrophic diseases and conditions will be limited in the name of cost control, and the case-by-case discretion of doctors and other providers will be closely monitored and restricted.

That, and brother jg's beer...

2012 Election Posted by John Kranz at 10:39 AM | What do you think? [6]
But johngalt thinks:

Sabato Rabbito. You can't believe anything he says - his predictions come from a Crystal Ball! We clearly need a dose of Michael Barone who predicts, based on fundamentals, Romney in a landslide. (That's my word. Barone's is "handily.")

Posted by: johngalt at November 5, 2012 1:40 PM
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

I was quite surprised by Barone's predictions. I have successfully predicted every presidential election since 1980 and I HAVE NO IDEA what's going to happen. I am quite disconcerted right this minute. "Too close to call" is not in my usual vocabulary, but...

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at November 5, 2012 2:25 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I see that my work here is not yet done!

It's commonly known that the 2008 election had 8% more Democrat turnout than Republican. A Rasmussen poll predicted this. In 2010 Rasmussen predicted the Dems would still have an advantage, but only 3 points. In actuality it was +0 or "even." In 2012 Rasmussen predicts, with an even larger sample size, GOP +6.

Add to this that every poll shows unaffiliateds breaking for Romney by double digits and the only way Obama can win is through election fraud that would make Hugo Chavez jealous. It's possible though - the media and their polls are already singing from the [Dem] party songbook.

Posted by: johngalt at November 5, 2012 2:35 PM
But johngalt thinks:

As for the article that is the subject of this post, it makes a point that in retrospect has been mostly absent from the campaign:

On Tuesday, Americans will go to the polls to choose whether or not to nationalize their health-care system.

And the fine article is available free in its entireity. It seems that WSJ wants to make sure as many voters as possible read it.

Posted by: johngalt at November 5, 2012 3:21 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

The Barone prediction is based on Romney winning by a tiny sliver in a lot of places. The winner-take-all Electoral College magnifies hair-breadth popular vote victories.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at November 5, 2012 3:58 PM
But johngalt thinks:

True, which makes elections more strategic than in a pure popular vote. Some call this "disenfrancisement" (of east coast Republicans or southern or mountain-west Democrats.) I call it laboratories of Democracy.

If those hair-breadth differences fall for Obama then he could win the electoral college with a minority of the popular vote total.

Posted by: johngalt at November 5, 2012 5:08 PM

November 4, 2012

Grandpa Voted Democrat

A little more "low-information" than the mean Three Sources demographic but we'll take humor wherever we find it.

democracy Posted by JohnGalt at 10:42 AM | What do you think? [0]

Review Corner

Man, am I ever behind in writing Review Corners. I finished the selection for the Jc-Jk Book Club. but want to give my interlocutor seem time to catch up. The selection foisted upon me was short and he delivered a copy (what service!) Much to say later, but it was actually enjoyable.

I have a few finished books to review, but think it is time to address Yaron Brooks's Free Market Revolution: How Ayn Rand's Ideas Can End Big Government.

I'll start, and we can attempt virtual book club in the comments. But I will start at the end:

Stop letting the enemies of capitalism claim the moral high ground. There is nothing noble about altruism, nothing inspiring about the initiation of force, nothing moral about Big Government, nothing compassionate about sacrificing the individual to the collective. Don't be afraid to dismiss those ideas as vicious, unjust attacks on the pursuit of happiness, and self-confidently assert that there is no value higher than the individual's pursuit of his own well-being.

That remains the most difficult of Rand's ideas to accept. I do not disagree with a word of it. But I am drawn to the economic arguments and the pragmatic political possibilities. Brook in person (really, watch the video if you were not there) and in this book is affable and forthright. And I confess that I am finally seeing the wisdom of attacking the problem at a deeper level even if it is difficult.

Brook's clarity and humor bring principles to life.

It's crucial, here, that the use of force be physical. There is no such thing as forcing someone via emotional or intellectual means. If your loser brother-in-law guilts you into paying his bills, he didn't make you pay his bills. If Amazon runs a really great commercial for the Kindle Fire, Jeff Bezos didn't make you buy one -- he persuaded you. If peer pressure leads you to jump off a bridge, you still had the power to heed your mother's advice.
The worst victims of this injustice are the ambitious poor. By sapping immense amounts of capital from productive individuals, the entitlement state cuts down on the number of businesses that get launched, the number of jobs that get created, the amount of economic progress that takes place, the amount of economic opportunity that is available. Although the wealthy can get by in an entitlement state, at least for a while, those wishing to climb out of poverty often cannot.

I attempted to make an argument, a week before seeing Dr. Brook, against the altruism that celebrates Bill Gates and Warren Buffett's giving money away more than the massive good done by their earning it. I failed and perhaps could not do much better after the book to separate benevolence -- which is good -- from altruism. Modern people use the terms interchangeably, not thinking of Comte but of kind neighbors. Being against kind neighbors is a tough sell.

At the same time, ceding the moral ground cannot continue.

Individual liberty means that if you develop a scientific theory that holds that the earth revolves around the sun, no pope can silence you. If you want to follow your dream of becoming an electrician, no bureaucrat can demand that you first get a government license. If you and your doctor judge that an experimental new drug is the best shot you have at saving your life, you don't have to consult some FDA official. If you want to revolutionize transportation, you don't have to explain yourself to Rex Tugwell.

I am coming around...

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 10:34 AM | What do you think? [0]

November 2, 2012

"American Conservative" Delenda Est!

You. Have. Got. To. Be. Frickin'. KIDDING ME. Check out the writers at the "American Conservative" and who they're voting for for President. Some for a "Virgil Goode," whomever that worthy gentleman might be. Some for Gary Johnson. A handful for Mitt Romney and if I count correctly, more than that number for...waiting for you to prepare your mind for the horror...Barack Hussein Obama.

But I do prophesy the election lights
On Fortinbras: he has my dying voice;
So tell him, with the occurrents, more and less,
Which have solicited. The rest is silence.

2012 Election Posted by Ellis Wyatt at 2:44 PM | What do you think? [5]
But Keith Arnold thinks:

My gut reaction is to propound that "American Conservative," as used at that site, is two lies for the price of one.

Then I did a more thoughtful read.

I certainly appreciate the respect for ideological diversity among the opinions; unlike, say, HuffingPaint or PMSNBC, which is uniformly far leftist. The fact is that our opponents are monolithically in such lockstep that any black who dares leave the plantation, think for himself, and vote Republican is a traitorous Uncle Tom (something that is NOT an insult to anyone who has actually read Ms. Stowe's excellent book, by the way). Put another way, we are tolerant of an individual's right to be wrong, where they are intolerant of a serf's right to be free of the hivemind.

A number of the writers object to Romney's history of being other than lifelong, doctrinaire conservative; I'm gullible enough, perhaps, to have been persuaded Romney is more conservative himself than governing deep-blue Massachusetts allowed him to be. Even if I'm not right, he's better and more conservative that Obama, and that's inarguable.

I'd propose asking these writers to define "conservative" and tell what attributes demonstrate it, then explain how their candidate measures up against that standard. That could tell us more about the writers than the candidates...

Posted by: Keith Arnold at November 2, 2012 4:23 PM
But jk thinks:

I can do no better than quote me hero, FA Hayek: "Why I am Not a Conservative."

Posted by: jk at November 2, 2012 4:57 PM
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

KA - Yes, and yes. There are several writers there who I respect quite a lot, and several make a good anti-Neocon case; but that a "conservative" could vote for Obama is not comprehensible, at least to me.

For example, Leon Hadar: That is why I will vote for Obama, hoping also that a defeat for the Republican presidential ticket will ignite a serious debate on the future of the GOP and bring about changes in the leadership and direction of a party that seems to be currently dominated by the strange triumvirate of Dick Cheney, Rick Santorum, and John Galt.

(???). I suppose it could simply be that some writers for the "American Conservative" are actually not conservative, but that's a different problem.

ADDED: The idea of the nation led by the "triumvirate" of Cheney, Santorum and Galt is strangely appealing.

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at November 2, 2012 5:02 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Well, "yes, no and yes." I both laugh and cry when a fellow anti-statist makes one or more of the following claims:

-"A defeat for the Republican presidential ticket will ignite a serious debate on the future of the GOP and bring about changes in the leadership and direction of [the] party." Yeah, like the defeat of McCain-Palin did. The TEA Party took its seat at the table and you're STILL pissin' and moanin'.

-"The American system must be allowed to implode before it can be rebuilt properly." Dude, Atlas Shrugged was a cautionary tale, not a blueprint!

The most powerful way to reform the Republican party is through competition, and the only serious competition will ever come from the other major party. The way to get "serious" reform of the GOP is to burn down and rebuild (or just peacefully reinvent) the Democrat party. Toward that end, see the article I Tweeted earlier today.

Posted by: johngalt at November 2, 2012 5:34 PM
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

Brother jg - thank you sir, your tweet did bring me to the article, which was a remarkable island of sanity for the PuffHo.

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at November 2, 2012 6:17 PM

Quote of the Day

Responding to a tweet from Sec. Robert Reich "Will we comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable under President Obama, or do the exact opposite under President Romney?"

But let's get back to the economic part. Is there a clearer example of how envy lurks just under the surface of liberalism? According to this axiom comfort is a kind of sin that must be punished. Those who posses must be afflicted. This is the logic of Jacobinism, Bolshevism, and the forces of Bane in the last Batman movie. Our progressives may not carry it out to the same extreme, and that's an important distinction. But the very idea that these people think they are the arbiters of who is comfortable and that the job falls to them to afflict those who possess it is disgusting. H. L. Mencken defined puritanism as "the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy." Well, is there any more perfect distillation of the puritanical spirit than in the secular divinization of envy we call leftism? -- Jonah Goldberg [subscribe]

I hope you do subscribe; the whole piece is a superb, philosophical, ThreeSources-friendly exegesis on the politics of envy. And, as it is Jonah, it has Star Wars references and a urinal joke.

Great Fundraising Idea!

If we can raise $10,000,000 for victims of hurricane tropical depression event Sandy, Hollywood has agreed to NOT do a star-studded fundraiser or tribute album.

C'mon people, dig deep!

Posted by John Kranz at 1:24 PM | What do you think? [1]
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

So have you ever heard Tenacious D's song Tribute? That's more like it!

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at November 2, 2012 7:55 PM

November 1, 2012

Some Serious Libertario Delenda Est

Bill Whittle is sometimes -- well, usually -- over the top for my tastes, but I love his style and language. He has discovered the same thing I have here: I will not sway my lefty friends, but my libertarian friends can be reached with reason.

Pretty good, huh?

But johngalt thinks:

Yup, purdy good. Two thumbs up from me.

But I'll bet you a free beer for each of them that none of your Libertarian friends can be reached with reason. (Little-l libertarians don't count.)

Posted by: johngalt at November 1, 2012 6:46 PM
But dagny thinks:

How do I email this link to someone?

Posted by: dagny at November 1, 2012 6:49 PM
But jk thinks:

@dagny: or click "share" in the title bar to send it from YouTube.

Posted by: jk at November 1, 2012 6:52 PM
But jk thinks:

@jg "It's my dream, let me live it!" :)

You might be right, but through a mutual friend, I have discovered quite a vein of people of mixed case Ls. They have listened respectfully and I am not alone in my pragmatism.

I have moved exactly zero votes in the previous two Presidential elections, so I am potentially stepping up.

Posted by: jk at November 1, 2012 6:59 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Don't think of my wager as discouragement, but a challenge. Not a barrier but a pot-sweetener for your interlocutors.

"...and if this video persuades you to actually pull the lever (in Colorado) for Romney/Ryan instead of [insert favorite wasted vote here] my Objectivist friend will meet us at our favorite watering hole and buy you a beer!"

I'll trust your judgement of each convert's honesty.

Posted by: johngalt at November 1, 2012 7:46 PM

Somebody Stop Me!

Brother Keith and I are a bad influence on each other, non?

But the graphics could be fun:

But Keith Arnold thinks:



Posted by: Keith Arnold at November 1, 2012 5:17 PM
But jk thinks:


Posted by: jk at November 1, 2012 5:20 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

We are SO gonna get a fatwa declared on us.

I hope I manage to do as well as the cow did when they come for me. It would be pretty embarrassing if I didn't.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at November 1, 2012 5:29 PM
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

Do any of y'all remember AllahPundit years ago pre-HotAir? This could be your career breakthrough, go for it!

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at November 1, 2012 8:12 PM

Better to Burn Out Than to Fade Away...

I suppose that all the cars that were submerged in sea water will be treated as a "total loss" by their insurer anyway, right?

More Than A Dozen Fisker Karma Hybrids Caught Fire And Exploded In New Jersey Port After Sandy

UPDATE: Fisker released the following statement:

It was reported today that several Fisker Karmas were damaged by fire at the Port of Newark after being submerged in sea water during Superstorm Sandy. We can report that there were no injuries and none of the cars were being charged at the time.

Hmmm. I wonder why they made sure to mention that none of them were "being charged at the time?"

See below to form your own opinion: "Damaged by fire" or "caught fire and burned to the ground?"


I snark, but in my professional experience as a product development engineer I know that there are always glitches with new technology. Problems such as this are to be expected in complex systems. But then, that's why it is prudent to engage in lengthy laboratory and road tests of prototypes before lobbying politicians for venture capital and rushing products to a clueless customer base.

But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Yeah, even prototype robotic tape libraries have been known to impersonate a Bic...

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at November 1, 2012 5:40 PM
But jk thinks:

I accuse my engineer brothers of excessive kindness. These were not prototypes in a test lab. These were staged for delivery to wealthy, productive Americans.

And subsidized by the taxpayer.

Posted by: jk at November 1, 2012 6:49 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Not that I remember, but I do recall some fancy light dimmer switches that, due to a novel yet unreliable line-connected power supply, had a 66% mortality rate after 3 or 4 years. (Nothing as spectacular as a Flaming Fisker Flambe though.)

Posted by: johngalt at November 1, 2012 6:50 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

Very nice; snap poll in the Denver Compost gives the "Sandy not caused by AGW" the edge 54 - 41% over those who would dump science for politics.

No. Bad weather has been around for ages, and there's no way to prove this storm was man's fault.

Yes. This is another in a series of increasingly extreme weather events that mankind is at least partly to blame for.

Posted by: nanobrewer at November 2, 2012 12:48 AM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Only three rules of owning a Fisker Karma:

(1) Don't get it wet.
(2) Don't expose it to bright light.
(3) Never feed it after midnight.

We've now seen what happens when you get it wet.

I know AMC used the name first, but shouldn't these be marketed as the Fisker Gremlin?

Posted by: Keith Arnold at November 2, 2012 11:39 AM
But johngalt thinks:

The other conclusion I draw from all of the official Fisker statements is that the only time their car can be counted on to NOT burst into flames is when it is being charged. I don't think I'd ever be comfortable unplugging it.

Posted by: johngalt at November 2, 2012 4:27 PM

Otequay of the Ayday

"When I had the gun, I didn't think I was actually going to have to shoot somebody," the 6th grader recalled. "I think it's going to change me a whole lot, knowing that I can hold my head up high and nothing can hurt me anymore."

Twelve year-old Kendra St. Clair after shooting an intruder with her mother's .40 cal Glock during a burglary of her Oklahoma home.

UPDATE: A local TV news report at embedded here ends with the additional information that the suspect was arrested last year in connection with the kidnapping of a 17 year-old girl with "diminished mental capacity." This was quite possibly more than a burglary attempt.

But jk thinks:

I'm Okie on my Mom's side. Damn straight, Kendra!

Posted by: jk at November 1, 2012 4:51 PM

Mini iPad Promo

We've been so busy with politics, we haven't done any religion in a while:

Hat-tip: Jonathan V. Last

Meanwhile, In Buffy News...

I am not an Amazon affiliate and get no remuneration for this.

But Amazon has a Gold Box Sale on Whedon DVDs and BluRay.

No hard feelings? Meh...

Television Posted by John Kranz at 1:17 PM | What do you think? [0]

Crazy Barry's Car Lot!

Hat-tip: Mark Tapscott @ Insty

2012 Election Posted by John Kranz at 11:03 AM | What do you think? [0]

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