January 31, 2013

The right stuff

During Senate confirmation hearings, Chuck Hagel demonstrated that he is both clueless and incompetent. Unfortunately, those are probably the two most important qualifications that President Obama seeks In someone to run the U.S. military.

Obama Administration Posted by Boulder Refugee at 10:08 PM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

Headline of the Year: Fluster Chuck

Posted by: jk at February 1, 2013 10:29 AM

Quote of the Day

I want to begin by saying something that needs to be said: I am not going to tell you that we have the luxury of feeling good about where we are as a movement, or that we don't have lessons to learn. But this is the movement and the cause that rescued this country 30 years ago, when serious people thought we were too complex to be governed anymore. This is the movement and the cause that refused to believe freedom was exhausted, only that it was tired of not being defended. And you held up freedom and made it so vibrant that prisoners in Prague and shipbuilders in Gdansk and freedom fighters in Managua and dissidents in gulags in Russia saw it and were moved by it. And not only have you been right about these large, cosmic things, you have been right about more basic things: We can't grow an economy by making audacity cost too much, we can’t strengthen people by penalizing them for work, we can’t own our future by living on the credit of countries who want to dominate us. Those values are as right today as they were yesterday, and may they always define us. I have not always been with you, but I am with you now, and I am proud to stand with you to wage this fight. -- Newly-minted Republican Artur Davis (X - AL)

Charges that he is a deadbeat and welcher, however...

WASHINGTON (WaPo) -- Sen. Robert Menendez's office says he reimbursed a prominent Florida political donor $58,500 on Jan. 4 of this year for the full cost of two of three trips Menendez took on the donor's plane to the Dominican Republic in 2010.

More details about the New Jersey senator's trips emerged as his office said unsubstantiated allegations that the senator engaged in sex with prostitutes in the Dominican Republic are false.


And who wouldn't accept the word of a man who pays his debts in three years?


Goin' Back to Bed

You folks keep the lamp of liberty lit. I just don't think I can take it anymore. Pursuant to the "anti-dog-eat-dog act:"

The Justice Department filed suit Thursday to block Anheuser-Busch InBev NV's $20.1 billion deal to buy Grupo Modelo SAB, saying U.S. consumers would suffer harm if the makers of Bud Light and Corona Extra merged.
[...]
The Justice Department said it filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia seeking to prevent the companies from merging. The deal "would result in less competition and higher beer prices for American consumers," said the department's antitrust chief, Bill Baer.

I should be glad they are doing their mischief out of the technology sector for a change; I assume that will be less harmful. But the beer cooler at DaveCo offers at least four or five different selections if my memory serves. I don't recall that market's being underserved.

But johngalt thinks:
"Every coercive monopoly that exists or has ever existed was created and made possible by an act of government: by special franchises, licenses, subsidies, by legislative actions which granted special privileges (not obtainable in a free market)" -[Nathaniel?] Branden, as cited in The Myth of Monopoly: Antitru$t on Trial, author unknown.

First I must ask, how does something which heavily cites Ayn Rand become published at a duke-dot-edu domain? Then I wonder what is up with the strange font size creep as one reads the page. But the sections I read are EXCELLENT.

"Under the antitrust laws, a man becomes a criminal from the moment he goes into business, no matter what he does. If he complies with one of these laws, he faces criminal prosecution under several others. For instance, if he charges prices which some bureaucrats judge as too high, he can be prosecuted for monopoly, or rather, for a successful "intent to monopolize"; if he charges prices lower than those of his competitors, he can be prosecuted for "unfair competition" or "restraint of trade"; and if he charges the same prices as his competitors, he can be prosecuted for "collusion" or "conspiracy."

Recall the government regulator's line from last year's film, 'Atlas Shrugged Part II:' "Laws are useless unless the right people break them."

Posted by: johngalt at January 31, 2013 3:31 PM
But jk thinks:

Thanks for warning on font creep -- I was woried my dosage was off or someting...

Posted by: jk at January 31, 2013 3:48 PM

January 30, 2013

Quote of the Day

I certainly will not claim the United Kingdom has more than twice the rape rate because American women are allowed to own guns while British women for practical purposes are not, but it does make you wonder, doesn't it? -- Clayton Cramer
Gun Rights Posted by John Kranz at 5:04 PM | What do you think? [0]

Meanwhile, in Buffy News...

I'm looking forward to this film. Herald Scotland:

It was confirmed last night that Whedon, creator of the long running TV hit Buffy The Vampire Slayer, as well as 2012's Marvel blockbuster Avengers Assemble, will walk the red carpet outside the Glasgow Film Theatre.

Whedon will be in Scotland on February 24 to attend the GFF closing gala film, which is the UK premiere of his version of William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing.

Whedon, 48, will introduce the film and also take part in a short question and answer session about the film, which is in black and white, afterwards.


I also like that they led with Buffy -- then added "as well as ... Avengers." Wha hae, Scots!

Art Posted by John Kranz at 1:32 PM | What do you think? [0]

January 29, 2013

ThreeSources Book Club

The object of last week's Review Corner was not available on Kindle. So I have an actual, corporeal paperback edition to give away. I know I only gave it three stars but the price is right -- holler if you'd like it.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 5:36 PM | What do you think? [0]

Challenging Republican Orthodoxy

On the heels of today's Pragmatic Republican Politics post I'll excerpt from the latest challenge to GOP orthodoxy, this time from Clifford Asness in The American: The GOP Must Lead (Again) on Civil Rights Clifford makes a well reasoned argument in support of three reform initiatives for the GOP - immigration, education and the failed war on drugs, then concludes:

And then, again, there’s the politics. Political stances should always follow truth not expediency. I do not recommend these things for political advantage. But, when embracing liberty and helping the disadvantaged and the economy happens to be great politics, I say make the most of it! Individually these policies make sense, but together they are more than the sum of their parts. Together they show our party’s avowed belief in equality of opportunity, not outcome, to be part of our true quest for justice and prosperity, not a rhetorical device attempting to preserve unearned privilege.
Politics Posted by JohnGalt at 2:46 PM | What do you think? [4]
But johngalt thinks:

The whole piece is a good read, including a Les Miserables reference in his immigration reform argument.

Posted by: johngalt at January 29, 2013 5:09 PM
But jk thinks:

Thank you. I was going to post, but as he takes a very jk-ish stance on all our internecine debates, I was bashful. This is awesome on stilts, actually!

Posted by: jk at January 29, 2013 5:42 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Well then, we'll see if any of the other Three Sources troglodytes are still unconvinced. As for me, I've seen the light.

Only the paternalistic soft bigotry of the Left's nanny state, claiming that the downtrodden in particular would make poor choices in a freer world, would argue otherwise.

The paternalistic hard bigotry of the Right's morality state has long argued otherwise also, but for a number of reasons, it is time for that to end.

Posted by: johngalt at January 30, 2013 11:59 AM
But jk thinks:

Can't talk now, I got some email from Ann Coulter. Let me see..."Rubio's amnesty a path to oblivion for GOP"

Posted by: jk at January 30, 2013 6:07 PM

Position Paper from Colorado Sheriffs

The County Sheriffs of Colorado released a position paper [PDF] on possible gun regulation.

It is a thoughtful and serious look at many provisions being discussed to limit bulk ammunition purchases, magazine size, &c. They take each suggestion and quickly suggest real world examples in which it would impede law-abiding people.

Hat-tip: NRA-ILA spam.

Gun Rights Posted by John Kranz at 1:38 PM | What do you think? [0]

QOTD II

Except six years later, little has changed. The cellulosic ethanol industry produced zero gallons in 2011 and zero in 2012. But the EPA still required oil companies and refiners to buy 6.6 million gallons in 2011 and 8.7 million in 2012--and then to purchase millions of dollars of "waiver credits" for failing to comply with a mandate to buy a product that did not exist. This is the sort of thing that led to the Protestant Reformation. -- WSJ Ed Board

Quote of the Day

Gitmo Closes! Wait, No, It's Just the Office for Closing Gitmo That's Closing

It's the end of an era of ending the preceding era: -- Jim Geraghty



Pragmatic Republican Politics

Took Libertario Delenda Est out for a spin last night at Liberty on the Rocks.

I enjoyed a spirited conversation with Matthew Hess, who is running for Governor and made a passionate case that "guys like me" need to support the LP. I gave him the elevator-talk version of libertario delenda est and he parried politely and rationally.

The speaker was Mark Baisley, who is running for Republican State Party Chairman. He outlined his vision for the infrastructure he believes to be required for the GOP to win in this state. It was a more Republican and a more partisan talk than normal, and he fielded questions from some of the more Libertarian attendees.

But he opened his talk with victories. In Douglas County, the red-blue split is the inverse of Boulder County, and they have chased out the Teachers' Union and instituted a full voucher program that is wending its way through the courts.

So, while yes, the LP is right to cry foul at Republicans with errant principles or lacking strength to follow their better ones, it strikes me that the LP has no victory list (well, except for spoiling the Montana Senate election and sending Jon Tester to be the 60th vote for ObamaCare).

Baisley told the libs to keep their passion but to be delegates in the GOP to keep the party honest.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 9:55 AM | What do you think? [0]

January 28, 2013

Here's Your Gun Hypocrisy

Okay, not all the goofballs on Facebook are lefties. A popular picture makes fun of the President by quoting an anti-gun line, and pointing out all the armed secret service near him. Bwa haw ha and all, but the other guys are very very -- okay too -- comfortable with government sanctioned professionals having guns. Who is going to defend us from the right wing militia kooks if the government doesn't have guns?

But fear not -- I bring you gun hypocrisy of great joy! Anti-gun activist Media Matters bought illegal guns out of state to protect founder David Brock:

Brock, whose struggles with mental health have seen him hospitalized in the past, became increasingly concerned by late 2010 that he was being targeted by right-wing assassins.

TheDC has learned that by that time, Brock had armed his assistant -- who had no permit to carry a concealed firearm -- with a Glock handgun.

According to an internal email exchange obtained by TheDC, the gun was purchased with cash in Maryland, likely to diminish the chances such a purchase would appear on the tax-exempt group's books.

Well, right wing assassins after him and all, it seems all right to me...

Hat-tip: Insty

Gun Rights Posted by John Kranz at 12:59 PM | What do you think? [0]

That's "Secretary One Percenter" to you, boy!

We share a large percent of our genetic structure with dogs. Therefore, don't be surprised if you look at the monitor with your head cocked and a slightly puzzled look when reading this.

The greatest irony is that given Mr. Lew's crisis-era resumé, he bears a remarkable resemblance to the bankers who President Obama says created the financial crisis and deserve federal investigation. But apparently there's an exception as long as your liberal intentions are noble and you're a loyal Democrat. Then you can get rich at one of Wall Street's biggest failures and end up running the entire financial system.

That's the elite WSJ decorum at work. They manage to describe Treasury Secretary Jack Lew's brief and magnanimously unsuccessful Wall Street career without appending -ass to any of the words. I couldn't do it.

Lew's a gub'mint guy through and through, but he takes a brief tenure at Citi that best represents a Matt Damon caricature of a Wall Street guy in the panic: bad guy comes in, total devastation ensues, gets a Federal bailout, leaves with a seven figure bonus. I just don't think Damon's screenwriters have the balls (see, I did not say ass) to have the villain nominated to be SecTreas.

Maybe Joss Whedon could pull it off..


January 27, 2013

Stealthflation?

Disturbing news from the GPI Deflator:

pix_pic.jpg

I have been dismissive of inflation projections from some of my blog brothers. Yet I must report today's potential "wake up call."

I have been playing finger style guitar for the last ten years or so. Before that time, I had a large supply of picks. I figure it has been 14 years since I bought them. Some new material I am working on requires them, and I took a nice convertible ride on a lovely day to stock up and try some new styles.

Where I recall their being about a quarter before, they are a dollar now. Using the rule of 70, I compute the GPI (Guitar Pick Index) deflator to be 70/(14/2). That's a seven percent annual increase in the price of picks! That Bernanke fellow has quite a bit to answer for.

But johngalt thinks:

"Math Ranger" here. Idn't that ten percent?

You can blame a lot of that increase on the price of oil, the rise of which is factored out in many indices.

Posted by: johngalt at January 29, 2013 9:05 AM
But jk thinks:

Damn you, Math Ranger! Foiled again!

Heh, I started with 20 years and backed it off at the last minute without recomputing. Math is hard.

Posted by: jk at January 29, 2013 10:22 AM

Review Corner

In last week's Review Corner, I confessed that my lack of knowledge about the events, places, and people in Ancient Rome reduced my ability to appreciate Gibbon's work.

From Rome, I set the WayBack Machine™ to antebellum America. Blog friend TGreer surfaced on Facebook and recommended Harry L. Watson's Liberty and Power. Contra Rome, I know the stories in here chapter and verse -- enough that I found the exposition sections a little dry. Interesting that Watson accepts "The Corrupt Bargain" between John Quincy Adams and Henry Clay as factual. The biographers of Adams, Clay and Jackson that I've read tend to think it more of a tin ear for politics well exploited.

If we're to travel well worn roads, what new insights can the author bring? There is one Watson does extremely well and one he does poorly.

The assembly and rise of the Democrat and Whig parties -- indeed the acceptance of a two-party system of governance is covered very well. I will recommend this book to a lot of big-L Libertarian and "No Labels" types. I'm frequently told that a new third party is going to come along and fix everything. "It happens all the time" I am told. Well, it happened three times, in a smaller nation under extreme exigencies.

I always credited Van Buren's vision and wizardry with the creation of a national Democratic Party. Watson shows the importance of Jackson's cult of personality. He perhaps soft pedals the Little Magician's use of spoils and patronage, but an accurate assessment surely requires both.

The foundation of the Whigs and the integration and recruitment of multiple small factions is especially interesting: probably my favorite part of the book. Not having voluminous exit-polling data from the 1836 and 1840 elections, he looks at the counties of Western New York that were growing after completion of the Erie Canal (damned, Whiggish internal improvements!), the factions they attracted and their voting patterns in different years.

Into what crucible can we throw this heterogeneous mass of old national republicans, and revolting Jackson men; Masons and anti-Masons; Abolitionists and pro-Slavery men; Bank men and anti-Bank men with all the lesser fragments that have been, from time to time, thrown off from the great political wheel in its violent revolutions, so as to melt them down into one mass of pure Whigs of undoubted good metal -- Millard Fillmore

Less well done was the book's premise. The title and colophon address the balance of liberty and power. It is often and well discussed but Watson is a history professor at the University of North Carolina. If one loves history one must read academics or chose from a very small pool of material. But the good professor cannot grasp liberty were it to bite him in his professorial ass.

There is a great discussion of the bank war and the nullification crisis. Watson tries to present all sides. No doubt he has forgotten more about the historical than I have known. But he cannot accept that the BUS might be (nay, is sir!) philosophically wrong. The viewpoint of capitalists, agrarians, craftsmen, workers and politicians from both sides are meticulously examined. But in a book that looks to examine liberty and power, the little-l libertarian side of monetary policy is not even considered. The same can be said for internal improvements, arrogation of power to the executive, and to some extent federalism.

A very good book, but I would give it three stars and suggest that most would prefer John Meacham's American Lion or David Heidler's Henry Clay: the Essential American.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 9:58 AM | What do you think? [4]
But johngalt thinks:

Ah, the perspective from the Ivory Tower, where "fairness" and "objectivity" have come to dictate philosophical relativism.

You write that the author meticulously examines "both sides." (Not "all sides?") You mentioned Libertarians and No Labels. Third parties and Millard Fillmore's "one mass of pure" X "of undoubted good metal." All of this points to a natural dichotomy: good - bad.

I don't mean to suggest that there is or will ever be a "good" party and a "bad" party. Political parties are a means to organization and administration. I mean to explain that in both political parties, as in all human activity, there exist demonstrably good and bad ideas. The trick is to reliably and consistently identify which is which, made harder by the skill with which the proponents of bad ideas can and do cloak them with the sanction of "goodness."

But the first step is to acknowledge the dichotomy. All things are not equal, nor relatively so. One side is right, the other side is wrong, and the middle is evil.

The basic and crucial political issue of our age is: capitalism versus socialism, or freedom versus statism. For decades, this issue has been silenced, suppressed, evaded, and hidden under the foggy, undefined rubber-terms of "conservatism"ť and "liberalism" which had lost their original meaning and could be stretched to mean all things to all men.

-Ayn Rand in "'Extremism,' or the Art of Smearing," in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal

Posted by: johngalt at January 27, 2013 12:53 PM
But T. Greer thinks:


Good review!

The section on the rise of the Democratic Party was my favorite; it taught me a lot I did not know. Before reading it I did not realize just how much the creation of the party (and the party system that sprang from it) was dependent on the efforts of just two men (Mr. Jackson and Van Buren), or how the very existence of mass party politics was one of the central issues during those early elections. I also learned from Watson's description of the two leading characters. Historians tend to typify President Jackson as either an Indian-killing authoritarian or the blessed expression of true democracy; Martin Van Buren, however, is almost universally condemned as a slimy, wily, Machiavellian politico. It was refreshing to see him cast in something of a good light.

Says JK:

"But in a book that looks to examine liberty and power, the little-l libertarian side of monetary policy is not even considered."

But was small-l monetary policy really much in consideration back then? Today's libertarianism finds its roots in the classical liberalism of the 18th and 19th centuries, and I used to think that this classical liberalism was the main mode of thought back in those days. However, it had a competitor in classical republicanism (which, I am afraid, is even less persuasive today than classical liberalism, for it really does not have any modern political descendents). I thought Watson's chapter on the subject captured republican thought brilliantly. My amazon review summarizes:

The drama came about, Watson contends, because of the lens Jacksonian statesmen used to understand political realities of their world: republicanism. As with their revolutionary fathers, men of the antebellum looked upon liberty as the highest aim of state, and understood it to be "the power of self control in self governing communities" (44). The purpose of the statesmen, therefore, was to facilitate those conditions in which liberty could thrive and tyrannical power could not take root. They saw the issue in (for the average 21st century American) a very moral way. Only a 'virtuous' and 'moral' people would appreciate freedom, and only they would have the strength and independence to ward off corruption and tyranny. Thus anything that sapped the independence or reduced the virtue of the citizenry should be opposed, and anything that strengthened the citizenry's free exercise of their rights was to be championed.


Now in practice early Americans tended to synthesize the individual-rights classical liberal view of liberty with the "self control in self governing communities" type of liberty championed by republican thought, but it seems that the second type was the more dominant of the two.* In that age both parties were united in this view.

If what republicanism was the main filter through which antebellum politicians of all political stripes saw their world, I can understand why Watson may gloss over little-l views on the Bank. If it was not central to the days' debate, why spend time writing about it?

I am open to shattering my accord with Watson, however. His case makes sense, but it would make less so if contemporary arguments/politicians/thinkers were advancing little-l liberalism instead of little-r republicanism on these economic questions. Do you know of any books, articles, ect. that might so inform me?

JK said:

"I suggest that most would prefer John Meacham's American Lion or David Heidler's Henry Clay: the Essential American."

Agreed. Watson's work is a historical monograph. He does not write with a popular audience in mind, so almost any biography will be more readable. But it is a good example of its genre and I recommend it to those who want to understand what motivated politicians of our early Republic.

*I have been on something of an antebellum binge recently, and have only had this idea confirmed. I was surprised to learn, for example, that the month before James Madison vetoed internal improvements he gave a speech in favor of national improvement projects. He did not protest against improvements on principle; he actually thought a vigorous program of federally funded improvement was vital part of protecting the Union against external foes. Thus his speech was a call to amend the constitution and make internal improvement legal! What scared him was not the eclipse of free enterprise by the federal government, but the erosion of the constitution itself. He worried more about civic virtue than authoritarian economics. (Daniel Walker Howe, What God Hath Wrought: A History of America, 1815-1845, pp. 88-89)

Posted by: T. Greer at January 28, 2013 1:14 PM
But jk thinks:

I could be guilty of projection, but I have always seen Taney's and Jackson's opposition to Biddle and the BUS as being pretty compatible with today's Ron Paul supporter's view of Chairman Bernanke an the Federal Reserve.

Lord Acton and John C. Calhoun promoted a libertarian mindset that is pretty recognizable today and championed by folks like Tom Woods. Woods and Co. are a little too ready to say "things were really swell except for that slavery thing" for my taste. But every libertarian I know has had to confront the discomfort of realizing that Calhoun, Davis, and Alexander Stephens perhaps had a truer understanding of the Constitution than the victors.

Things change but the expression of liberty from John Locke to Rand Paul seems to have a large common cord. None of which is likely to be addressed by a book from an academic press.

On this topic, academic guy whom I've just insulted, can you tell me how to get my hands on Taney's Bank War manuscript? It's in the Library of Congress and I almost made a special trip to DC to see it a few years ago but that was scuttled -- is that the only way to read it?

Posted by: jk at January 28, 2013 1:38 PM
But jk thinks:

...and I always admired Madison more for accepting Constitutional restrictions on something he supported.

Posted by: jk at January 28, 2013 1:46 PM

January 26, 2013

Internet Knights Templar?

From ZDNet article Anonymous hacks US Sentencing Commission, distributes files:

However, in order for there to be a peaceful resolution to this crisis, certain things need to happen. There must be reform of outdated and poorly-envisioned legislation, written to be so broadly applied as to make a felony crime out of violation of terms of service, creating in effect vast swathes of crimes, and allowing for selective punishment. There must be reform of mandatory minimum sentencing. There must be a return to proportionality of punishment with respect to actual harm caused, and consideration of motive and mens rea. The inalienable right to a presumption of innocence and the recourse to trial and possibility of exoneration must be returned to its sacred status, and not gambled away by pre-trial bargaining in the face of overwhelming sentences, unaffordable justice and disfavourable odds. Laws must be upheld unselectively, and not used as a weapon of government to make examples of those it deems threatening to its power.

For good reason the statue of lady justice is blindfolded. No more should her innocence be besmirked, her scales tipped, nor her swordhand guided. Furthermore there must be a solemn commitment to freedom of the internet, this last great common space of humanity, and to the common ownership of information to further the common good.

We make this statement do not expect to be negotiated with; we do not desire to be negotiated with. We understand that due to the actions we take we exclude ourselves from the system within which solutions are found. There are others who serve that purpose, people far more respectable than us, people whose voices emerge from the light, and not the shadows. These voices are already making clear the reforms that have been necessary for some time, and are outright required now.

It is these people that the justice system, the government, and law enforcement must engage with. Their voices are already ringing strong with a chorus of determined resolution. We demand only that this chorus is not ignored. We demand the government does not make the mistake of hoping that time will dampen its ringing, that they can ride out this wave of determination, that business as usual can continue after a sufficient period of lip-service and back-patting.

Not this time. This time there will be change, or there will be chaos…

In the vernacular of the posting, my voice emerges from the light. I ask those who would denounce hacking as a tactic to explain how else these alleged abuses of official justice could be effectively challenged?

Hat tip: Drudge

But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

Brother Ellis is alive, okay and in HI...more info soon.

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at January 26, 2013 7:25 PM
But jk thinks:

I'm pretty sympathetic as we have a common enemy. justice qua justice and Justice as the DOJ are major league broken.

Tactics...

My Internet cocoon world was 100% in favor of Aaron Swartz and 100% opposed to the prosecutorial overreach that tipped him toward suicide. My hero, Kim Strassel, interrupted the party to remind me -- and the rest of the WSJ Editorial Board -- that he stole private property (the intellectual property in the JSTOR database) to distribute it as he saw fit and not how its owners chose to dispose.

So a DoS attack on the DoJ has symmetry, but I am going to have to come out as anti-revolutionary. Sorry Comrades, I think we have an "Occupy Wall Street" phenomenon where we can appreciate their passion, and agree that their targets deserve a bit of unpleasantness.

But real people in pursuit of real justice were inconvenienced by the website's being down. And if we're to throw a tradition of law that extends from the Magna Carta to Aaron Swartz away, I want to know a little more about the new regime.

Posted by: jk at January 27, 2013 10:09 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Your concern was the one that required a "?" at the end of my headline. Examine this particular demand:

"...and to the common ownership of information to further the common good."

This was where I became... squeamish? Perhaps more like disheartened. I do believe the goals are mostly noble, but eliminating private property crosses an unacceptable boundary. I reconciled by interpreting it as "free access to public knowledge." A tenet of free speech, and a catalyst to prosperity and peace.

If there is one thing Anonymous may be lacking it is a moral, philosophical base to fully justify its efforts. Seek Objectivism lads: Force only in self-defense; full individual liberty within the personal sphere, for every man is an end in himself; consistency with physical reality. Private ownership of property is consistent with the second of these. However, government secrecy is not.

Posted by: johngalt at January 27, 2013 12:01 PM

January 25, 2013

Quote of the Day

So, should one man control the fate of the Star Trek and Star Wars franchises? Is it too much geek power in one director? -- Jim Geraghty [subscribe]

Read it, fat ass!

Lest you think Facebook is just a great wasteland of irrational people I know, I also "Like" the Ludwig von Mises Institute. They have a superb (somewhat lengthy) book excerpt: "Cartman Shrugged: The Invisible Gnomes and the Invisible Hand in South Park "

Author Paul A. Cantor takes a good look at the humor, political tilt and some autobiography of Stone and Parker. Then, a long investigation of the Gnomes episode. Which is of course, not really about about Gnomes as Tweek's Coffee's anti-competitive tactics against the giant Harbucks.

But what about the gnomes, who, after all, give the episode its title? Where do they fit in? I never could understand how the subplot in "Gnomes" relates to the main plot until I was lecturing on the episode at a summer institute, and my colleague Michael Valdez Moses made a breakthrough that allowed us to put together the episode as a whole. In the subplot, Tweek complains to anybody who will listen that every night at 3:30 a.m. gnomes sneak into his bedroom and steal his underpants. Nobody else can see this remarkable phenomenon happening, not even when the other boys stay up late with Tweek to observe it, not even when the emboldened gnomes start robbing underpants in broad daylight in the mayor's office. We know two things about these strange beings: (1) they are gnomes; (2) they are normally invisible. Both facts point in the direction of capitalism. As in the phrase "gnomes of Zurich," which refers to bankers, gnomes are often associated with the world of finance. In the first opera of Wagner’s Ring Cycle, Das Rheingold, the gnome Alberich serves as a symbol of the capitalist exploiter--and he forges the Tarnhelm, a cap of invisibility. The idea of invisibility calls to mind Adam Smith's famous notion of the "invisible hand" that guides the free market.

It's awesome.


jk Stands Up to The Man

In this case, The Man is named Ariella:

Hi John,

Thank you for taking the time to reach out to us.

We understand that this is a sensitive topic, and that some of our customers may not agree with our choice to pause the promotion of firearm-related deals. Groupon has always aimed to offer a diverse range of products and services to meet the various tastes and interests of our subscribers. However, at this time, enough customers and merchants have voiced their opinions that we believe a hiatus is warranted.

Please note that we have never sold guns, and this hiatus only applies to firearm-related deals including shooting ranges, clay pigeon shooting, and concealed weapons training classes. We have not made a final determination regarding this category -- we are simply taking a break and may reevaluate in the future.

Per your request, I've unsubscribed this email address. You will stop receiving Groupon promotional emails within 48 hours. I can also close your account, but I want to be sure you're aware that once it is closed, you will no longer be able to access previously purchased vouchers on Groupon.com, and any existing Groupon Bucks will be voided. Please let me know if you would like to proceed.

We genuinely appreciate your opinion and the feedback you've given us. I'll be sure to share your comments with the appropriate people.

Regards,
Ariella M
Groupon Customer Support

Gun Rights Posted by John Kranz at 9:37 AM | What do you think? [0]

Blame the Movies!

On the one hand, it is great to see any solution to our so called grisly national gun violence epidemic that does not involve contravention of our Second Amendment rights. But, sadly, it is often at the expense of our First. Here's Melissa Henson in Politico, linked by Insty:

Entertainment industry has blood on its hands.
[...]
But in Hollywood, talk is cheap and there is a fortune to be made by producing and distributing ever-more graphic, ever-more gruesome and ever-more grotesque violence. As the nation's focus shifted beyond Columbine, Hollywood got back to business and the violence came creeping back -- this time in greater quantity and degree than ever before. "Not our fault" was its response. "Blame the parents."

"Mental Health" is play #3 and there are certainly opportunities for improvement. But it will not be improved by hastily-penned, post-Sandy Hook responses to do something. I love Megan McArdle: "This is something. We must do something. Therefore, we must do this!"

I don't want Senator Feinstein writing our movies or designing our firearms.

Gun Rights Posted by John Kranz at 9:12 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

... or deciding who is "too mentally handicapped." (Anyone who disagrees with her, no doubt.)

Posted by: johngalt at January 26, 2013 1:12 AM

January 24, 2013

Two Important Pieces on Climate Change

Quite a week from two non-deniers.

Walter Russell Mead points out that The Economist magazine has given up on global climate treaties: "Once a believer in the global approach, it appears to have given up"

The good folks at The Economist suggest "[V]oters appear more willing to accept domestic environmental laws than international ones. If true, that is an indictment of years of green activism that has pushed for a global treaty first."

Just tactics, so far, although one appreciates the nod to reason -- especially remembering President Bush's being blamed for every weather incident for not signing Kyoto (after the Senate opposed it 0 - 95, but whatever...)

More important were a couple of, dare I say, scientific concessions:

The Economist also brings us big news on the "settled science" of climate change. A new study has found soot to be twice as bad for climate as was previously thought, making it the second most damaging greenhouse agent after CO2. This is actually good news for two reasons.

To oppose CO2 is to oppose modernity. The dedicated warmie settles for nothing less than "back to the caves." Keystone Pipeline? Fracking? Mai Non! We've a planet to protect! I think even some grouchy old ThreeSourcers could get behind reasonable action on soot. I might be wrong, perhaps there is a pro-soot faction. But reducing soot seems a natural by-product of efficiency. Cleaner fuels, complete combustion should move toward CO2 + H2O as exhaust. Plants' two best friends. As more change is attributable to soot, this reduces the impact of CO2.

If that doesn't melt your cold, cold heart mosey on over to the WSJ Ed Page. "Skeptical Environmentalist" Bjorn Lomborg has a guest editorial. True to his designs, Lomborg -- like Professor Mead and the editorial staff at The Economist -- believes completely in Deleterious Anthropogenic Warming of the Globe. But he wants it addressed scientifically and economically.

This makes his criticism of the hype credible:

Unfortunately, when the president described the urgent nature of the threat--the "devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms"--the scary examples suggested that he is contemplating poor policies that don't point to any real, let alone smart, solutions. Global warming is a problem that needs fixing, but exaggeration doesn't help, and it often distracts us from simple, cheaper and smarter solutions.

Lomborg knows the plural of anecdote isn't data. Wildfires have been reduced, droughts are holdin' steady and the damage from hurricanes is set to halve as a % of GDP by 2100.
This does not mean that climate change isn't an issue. It means that exaggerating the threat concentrates resources in the wrong areas. Consider hurricanes (though similar points hold for wildfire and drought). If the aim is to reduce storm damage, then first focus on resilience--better building codes and better enforcement of those codes. Ending subsidies for hurricane insurance to discourage building in vulnerable zones would also help, as would investing in better infrastructure (from stronger levees to higher-capacity sewers).

That's the news on the science front. Now, from Facebook:

natural_cartoon.jpg

Pretty much captures the important discussion points, does it not?

UPDATE: Insty provides this link to the Lomborg piece, might be free.

But johngalt thinks:

So, we're supposed to conclude that "experts" are full of crap? Isn't that mostly who is cited to "prove" the climate change threat: experts?

Beside that, this handy chart of four different natural disasters includes three that have killed millions of people (and remain capable of doing so again) and one, climate change, that has killed no one. Sort of reminds me of that old Sesame Street bit - "One of these things is not like the other, three of these things are kind of the same."

And still further, I might choose a far different collection of "experts" to compare to those discussing "the whole climate change thing." Jim Jones... Marshall Applewhite... Chicken Little.

Posted by: johngalt at January 25, 2013 1:44 AM
But jk thinks:

Lies, damned lies and statistics: my warmie friends throw out numbers in the 20,000-30,000 range for "people killed by global warming." I forget if that is annual or not -- not sure they know or care but there is a UN document they quote. To segue to the hated cartoon, it basically represents every death by nature.

Posted by: jk at January 25, 2013 9:03 AM

Our 68th Secretary of State

Reporting for duty!

reporting-for-duty-be-afraid.jpg

Photo credit: Reason

But johngalt thinks:

"Hello, I am the international face of the greatest nation in the history of the world."

Posted by: johngalt at January 25, 2013 1:26 AM

January 23, 2013

Quote of the Day

Too bad Lefty [California golfer Phil "Lefty" Mickelson ] will no longer help educate the lefties on the incentive effects of marginal tax rates. But he can still vote with his Gulfstream and take his tour winnings and his endorsement income to a more friendly locale, such as Florida, Nevada or Texas. All three still have no state income tax, which may be one reason Tiger Woods and so many other golfers (including many Europeans) also live in Florida. Expect a continued migration. -- WSJ Ed Page
But johngalt thinks:

I just gotta ask, was California's prior tax burden not already disincentive enough for him to live there?

Posted by: johngalt at January 23, 2013 5:34 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

The new increase - passed as a ballot measure by the voters, no less - was apparently the camel that broke his straw back.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at January 23, 2013 6:24 PM

BOYCOTT!

Under pressure from gun-control advocates, Groupon abruptly canceled all gun-related deals in North America on Friday. -- HuffPo
I inquired as to how to cancel my subscription.
Hi John,

Thanks for your submission! Although we typically respond to most emails in less than 24 hours, we're running a little behind right now. You should hear from us in about 48 hours. Sorry in advance for the delay!
Alfred! Another bitter clinger...
Gun Rights Posted by John Kranz at 2:46 PM | What do you think? [0]

RAHQOTD

How long has it been? Too long. Today's 'I Am Not Making This Up' entry prompts another quote from Heinlein's excellent 'Life-Line' short story, excerpted three times already on these pages.

There has grown up in the minds of certain groups in this country the notion that because a man or corporation has made a profit out of the public for a number of years, the government and the courts are charged with the duty of guaranteeing such profit in the future, even in the face of changing circumstances and contrary to public interest. This strange doctrine is not supported by statute or common law. Neither individuals nor corporations have any right to come into court and ask that the clock of history be stopped, or turned back.

--RAH 'Life-Line' (1939)


"I Am Not Making This Up!"

Were it a Dave Barry column, no doubt this WSJ guest editorial would be so captioned. But as close as Burleigh C.W. Leonard can get is "You read that right."

When the farm bill (why do we have farm bills again?) expires, the rules reset to the New Deal's "permanent law." These are so awful as to present a fiscal cliff style food bomb.

Permanent law is embodied in the Agriculture Adjustment Act of 1938 and the Agricultural Act of 1949. It directs the federal government to provide financial help to farmers by artificially inflating the prices of the commodities they produce.

Price supports for eligible commodities are set according to a formula known as "parity," which is based on a price index from the period 1910-14. You read that right--permanent law's subsidies are calculated based on farming conditions a hundred years ago.

This formula does not take into account the technological advancements and productivity gains that have dramatically altered our agricultural system over time. Consequently, parity prices bear no resemblance to today's market prices.

Parity for corn is $12 per bushel versus an actual market price of $7.01; for wheat $18.30 versus $8.33; for rice $42.20 per hundred weight versus $14.80 and for milk $52 versus $21.10. The disparity between parity and market prices is even starker when one considers that current commodity prices are at historically high levels.


For all their faults, I think my bright but misguided Facebook Friends can understand this. I have most of them converted against ethanol subsidies. Here's the same deal and I suspect they'd say in their best Mr. Mackey voice: "That's bad, mmkay."

And yet -- how do you get them to make the leap to view whatever thing they're grinding for today: more education subsidies, free abortifacients, wind farms, &c. Mohair and ethanol subsidies are "bad," as are billion dollar checks to Ted Turner from the US Taxpayer. But their thing is good.

But johngalt thinks:

I take this opportunity to ask Brother Keith to remind us of the early American story he recounted here once before, of a Senator on the stump encountering a constituent who lectured him on the immorality of aid to veterans' widows from the public treasury.

Posted by: johngalt at January 23, 2013 2:48 PM
But johngalt thinks:

You have probably tried asking BBMFF, "If oil company subsidies are bad, why?" And they probably answered, "Because they're rich." All the while, the concept of 'subsidy' goes unexamined.

Posted by: johngalt at January 23, 2013 2:52 PM
But jk thinks:

Correct, brother jg. Sadly, correct.

& I actually know this one: it was Davy Crockett and Horatio Bunce.

Posted by: jk at January 23, 2013 2:53 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Yes, the famous Horatio Bunce story. If I could send every legislator in both houses of Congress to the re-education camps and hammer just one lesson into them with aversion therapy, it would be this one - and when their subconscious memories of the electric shocks and the pliers prevent them from ever voting the wrong way on a similar bill again, the Republic and fiscal sanity will have been restored.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at January 23, 2013 3:05 PM
But jk thinks:

Amen. The other angel in American History was President Cleveland. The Republican Congress would send up bills to give $25 to a Civil War widow just to embarrass him. But he did it again and again. I am pretty sure he still holds the veto record. HOSS!

Posted by: jk at January 23, 2013 3:20 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Cleveland holds the two-term record at 584. FDR had 635, but had to go into overtime to get there.

Of course, Cleveland's were in defense of limited government, where Roosevelt's were about monkeying with the economy. There are good vetoes, and bad ones.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at January 23, 2013 6:52 PM

January 22, 2013

Quote of the Day

Then, as you point out, there's the horrible strawman argument about "no single person." This is a rhetorical constant of Obama's presidency. The choice is always between the atomized individual or the loving embrace of federal government in Washington. Either Julia's all alone, or the government has got her back. Any acknowledgment that civil society, families, the free market, etc. are collective enterprises is always omitted from the equation. Either you're the sort of reactionary fool who champions individual freedoms -- indistinguishable from the sort of idiot who'd fight the Wehrmacht with muskets -- or you understand that now is the time for collective action. The problem is that devotion to our individual freedoms isn't merely a "constant of our character" (and would that that were still as true as it once was) it's also a bedrock principle of our constitutional order. That principle is not like a musket or a whale oil lantern or an 8-track tape. And comparing it to one is a horrible category error. -- Jonah Goldberg

Hat-tip: Terri

But johngalt thinks:

The difference between Jonah's "collective enterprises" and the President's promise of a pervasive protection from risk is that the former is voluntary and reversible, while Barack Obama's "commitments we make to each other" are mandatory and irrevocable.

If I make a commitment to help my neighbor through tough times I can break that commitment if I discover some fecklessness on his part. When such help comes from government it is, so as to be "fair" and "non-discriminatory" entirely based on some metric of need and regardless of any judgement about the virtue of the recipient. A natural result of this is to promote greater "need" among the virtueless.

Posted by: johngalt at January 22, 2013 3:00 PM
But johngalt thinks:

It is well understood that the straw man version of the red herring fallacy is a staple of President Obama's speeches. Another less recognized but more destructive techniques is "package dealing."

One of the examples given at the link is the one the President used below to justify redistributive taxation, saying that social programs "free us." This is an attempt to equate economic power with political power.

Most people accept these equivocations--and yet they know that the poorest laborer in America is freer and more secure than the richest commissar in Soviet Russia. What is the basic, the essential, the crucial principle that differentiates freedom from slavery? It is the principle of voluntary action versus physical coercion or compulsion.

The difference between political power and any other kind of social "power" between a government and any private organization, is the fact that a government holds a legal monopoly on the use of physical force.

Posted by: johngalt at January 22, 2013 3:13 PM

January 21, 2013

Quote of the Day

We recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, any one of us, at any time, may face a job loss, or a sudden illness, or a home swept away in a terrible storm. The commitments we make to each other -- through Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security -- these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us. They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great. -- President Barack Obama
UPDATE: Thw WSJ Ed Page highlights this same line.
The "takers" line was a clear shot at Mitt Romney's most famous campaign gaffe. This should have been beneath a Presidential inaugural, but then again it fits Mr. Obama's post- re-election pattern of continuing to demean and stigmatize those who disagree with him as if the election campaign is still on.
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Taking does not make us takers; weakness is strength; ignorance is knowledge; and we have always been at war with Eastasia.

MiniTrue thanks you for your attention to Mr. Obama's speech.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at January 21, 2013 8:13 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

And just because I'm feeling particularly snarky today: the First Klingon's new hairstyle makes me expect to hear her shout "I'm Rick James, B***!"

Posted by: Keith Arnold at January 21, 2013 8:33 PM
But jk thinks:

Huh, I kind of like the First Bangs Of The United States -- not that that precludes your Rick James reference.

Funny that this line was selected for AEI disapprobation but was also selected by the TeeVee news last night for a representative clip.

Posted by: jk at January 22, 2013 10:26 AM
But johngalt thinks:

A prescient observation, JK, for there is still a campaign going on: The campaign to convince Americans that European style social safety net systems are desirable, are moral, are right. His goal is to split the GOP House members along the line between individualist versus collectivist. House Republicans who hold to altruism as part of their moral code are susceptible, and must be turned away from the bright light.

Posted by: johngalt at January 22, 2013 2:44 PM

Happy Inauguration Day

Some serious words from Juan Williams, in a serious piece: The Clouds Over Obama's Second Term."

But when it comes to judging his place in American history, it is impossible not to address his minority status. The first blacks in any field, much like the first women, are always held to strict standards.

Major League Baseball could not allow just any Negro ballplayer to break the color line in 1947. It had to be Jackie Robinson, who was both an exceptionally dignified man and a great baseball player.

President Lyndon Johnson could not appoint just any great lawyer to be the first African-American on the Supreme Court. Before becoming a Supreme Court justice, Thurgood Marshall held the record for winning cases before the high court, including Brown v. Board of Education (1954), which struck down segregation in public schools. He served with distinction as solicitor general and as a federal judge.

When President George H.W. Bush selected the first African-American chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he selected Colin Powell: a four-star general and decorated American war hero whose qualifications were unquestionable.

As president, Mr. Obama is dealing with scrutiny of his performance on the level of Robinson, Marshall and Mr. Powell--a scrutiny that is magnified by political passion. One theme of GOP campaign ads in the recent election was to appeal to voters who supported Mr. Obama in 2008 by essentially telling them not to feel bad about firing the first black president--he was just in over his head.

But Keith Arnold thinks:

"The first blacks in any field... are always held to strict standards..."

And precisely what standards does he believe the SCOAMF has met? Certainly not the "dignified" and "great" adjectives he used to describe Cooper, the "great lawyer" or the "served with distinction" he used for Marshall, or the "four-star general and decorated American war hero whose qualifications were unquestionable" he used to describe Powell.

We're talking about a man who excelled at voting present as a legislator, one who barely served one term in the Federal legislature, who was a failure as lawyer and turned in his bar card under questionable circumstances, who coasted through school, who failed to publish a single article as editor of his law review. What are the "strict standards" this assclown refers to?

"... scrutiny of his performance on the level of Robinson, Marshall and Mr. Powell..." With a mainstream media flacking for him at every turn and failing to rise to the level of yellow journalism in its obvious bias, I consider that the SCOAMF escapes scrutiny on a wholesale basis.

Juan Williams proves himself to be nothing more than a knobgobbling lapdog who ought to be receiving a paycheck for the transparent PR service he renders to King Putt.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at January 21, 2013 4:17 PM
But jk thinks:

I read it that he found the President's standards wanting and felt President Obama needs to accomplish more in a second term to keep up. Watching Williams punditize on the evil FOX, he never seems that tough.

If the knives are out, Marshall was indeed a distinguished attorney in front of the bench, but he is rarely considered a top jurist.

Posted by: jk at January 21, 2013 4:29 PM

Hyperinflation in Hell!

The Stand-up Economist,Yoram Bauman.

But johngalt thinks:

I really didn't want to laugh. But I did. A little.

Posted by: johngalt at January 21, 2013 2:42 PM

Understatement of the Day

The district [IL - 2] represents a steep challenge for Republicans; the district gave 90 percent of its vote to Barack Obama in 2008 and was until recently represented by Democrat Jesse Jackson Jr., who managed to easily win reelection in 2012 even though he was under criminal investigation and on medical leave. The district scores a D+32 in the Cook Partisan Voting Index, but it does have some less heavily Democratic sections, stretching from 53rd Street on the city's South Side through the south suburbs of Chicago, all the way to Kankakee County. -- Jim Geraghty
113th Congress Posted by John Kranz at 10:56 AM | What do you think? [0]

January 20, 2013

Linquo (I quit)

The victory over the senate was easy and inglorious. Every eye and every passion were directed to the supreme magistrate, who possessed the arms and treasure of the state; whilst the senate, neither elected by the people, nor guarded by military force, nor animated by public spirit, rested its declining authority on the frail and crumbling basis of ancient opinion. The fine theory of a republic insensibly vanished, and made way for the more natural and substantial feelings of monarchy.
It's easy to draw parallels between the United States and the Roman Empire. Easier still to be concerned with that which brought down the last great world hegemon. Without discounting them entirely, I fear they are overblown. But I am getting ahead of the review corner.

I finished Volume I of Edward Gibbon's (2011-10-14). History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, It is very interesting, but I think I will find my inner Tyler Cowan and move on to some other material before tackling Vol. II.

I was concerned that it would be too dry. You know those 18th Century guys can go on sometimes. Rather, any difficulty is that he is too conversational and assumes too much background knowledge of the reader. Gibbon's 18th Century readers knew the emperors and key historical events. This allowed the author to comment and draw broad themes. Imagine somebody in 2325 figuring out the Clinton Impeachment from Hitchens's "No One Left to Lie To;" one could...

I enjoy old history books for the meta layer of how people at the time of authorship viewed the events. Carl Swisher's 1935 biography of Chief Justice Taney is pretty short of opprobrium for the Dred Scott v. Sandford decision. To read a contemporary of the Founders exegete on millennia old events is a great mental exercise. Kind of like playing video games at a Rave on Ecstasy.

The takeaway after one-sixth, however, is the Hobbesian cheapness of life. Tens of thousands are slain in battles. The whole Senate is poisoned (or was that a dream I had?). The Imperial purple is pretty much a death sentence. I wonder if a lot of the didn't go to battle for personal safety. There is the occasional 40 years of relative peace and safety if the dice come up two benevolent and sturdy monarchs in a row. But these patches seem awfully rare -- and include absolute slavery, a pervasive but not absolute caste system, foreign adventurism. Most every history book elicits an "I'm glad I didn't live then" out of me. But Ancient Rome: especially no thanks.

I chose to infer parallels between the Roman Empire and the USA more as universal truths than comparison of democracies. The franchise was so limited and temporal that I find it difficult to assess Rome as self-rule. Capricious monarchies controlled lives and fortunes more like the EPA than any system we would call "democratic." The near provinces enjoyed the services of government without paying their fair share. They financed services the old fashioned way: plundering neighboring lands.

The conquest of Macedonia, as we have already observed, had delivered the Roman people from the weight of personal taxes. Though they had experienced every form of despotism, they had now enjoyed that exemption near five hundred years;

Still, there are eternal truths. The first example of supply-side economics?
Constantine visited the city of Autun, and generously remitted the arrears of tribute, reducing at the same time the proportion of their assessment from twenty-five to eighteen thousand heads, subject to the real and personal capitation.40 Yet even this indulgence affords the most unquestionable proof of the public misery. This tax was so extremely oppressive, either in itself or in the mode of collecting it, that whilst the revenue was increased by extortion, it was diminished by despair: a considerable part of the territory of Autun was left uncultivated; and great numbers of the provincials rather chose to live as exiles and outlaws, than to support the weight of civil society.

Roots of the IRS?
About that time the avarice of Galerius, or perhaps the exigencies of the state, had induced him to make a very strict and rigorous inquisition into the property of his subjects, for the purpose of a general taxation, both on their lands and on their persons. A very minute survey appears to have been taken of their real estates; and wherever there was the slightest suspicion of concealment, torture was very freely employed to obtain a sincere declaration of their personal wealth.

Interesting and good clean fun. I think my time would be better served with a more modern, chronological, structured history of the period. Between Gibbon's loose style, and my ignorance about the people and places mentioned, this reads like a science fiction novel Illyricum/Alderon? Some place.

But I spent 2.99 and have five volumes left! Three-point-five stars.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 11:50 AM | What do you think? [2]
But Steve D thinks:

Gibbon's writing is itself history and for that reason alone is worth reading.

Posted by: Steve D at January 22, 2013 3:21 PM
But jk thinks:

Indeed, SteveD. I would like to have a better handle on historical events, as I think his contemporary readers did. That would allow me to better appreciate Gibbon.

Posted by: jk at January 22, 2013 3:36 PM

Boulder's Respect for Differing Opinions

Weld County MILF (umm, that's Mothers In Love with Fracking) Amy Oliver talks to Jon Caldera. I embed because I have referenced this clip a couple times. The whole thing is worth a watch, but be sure to see how the sweet peaceful hippies of Boulder behave (7:00 - 10:00) when encountering a discussion of science.


But johngalt thinks:

Thank you for posting. This story can't be over exposed. I spent my college days in Boulder and it was similar to this when the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center organized traffic-blocking street demonstrations against nuclear weapons, nuclear power, pesticides, or any number of other things that have never produced the "child poisoning" these, ahem, 'science awareness advocates' then foretold. But this is worse. Perhaps they are emboldened by the growing acceptance of the tactics of al Qaeda, or the Weather Underground.

Posted by: johngalt at January 21, 2013 3:11 PM
But jk thinks:

Yes, I was wondering when Caldera's fond remembrance of Kumbaya peaceful discussion days occurred. I did not show up until 1988 -- the civility was long gone by then.

Posted by: jk at January 22, 2013 10:36 AM

January 18, 2013

He's Dead Tonight

We had some chortles on these pages at the expense of the kooky denizens of Boulder, Colorado, who were holding candlelight vigils for "Big Boy" the elk who was slain at 9th & Mapleton.

I had chance to discuss the incident with a good friend of this blog. She (and that is the absolute last hint you can expect) suggested that it was rather un-ThreeSources-ish of us to assume that the good and brave representatives of Boulder Government were on the up and up -- and that the people were wrong.

That stings a bit, but I rubbed some dirt in it and had to confess that there were some disquieting elements of the story. Clearly, an officer discharging a weapon in the city limits should file a report. And clearly there was a lot of activity outside of official sanction.

It is hard to choose between what is correct, consistent, and honest -- and what can be construed as agreement with Boulderites. It's hard and our friend admitted such.

The perps are going down, and I have to admit that -- candlelight vigils notwithstanding -- the police operate under scrutiny to be entrusted with force, and they should be held accountable.

District Attorney Stan Garnett today announced that Boulder police officers Sam Carter and Brent Curnow were arrested this morning in connection with the Jan. 1 shooting of a towering bull elk on Mapleton Hall, saying investigators determined the two men conspired to kill the elk as a trophy and for its meat.

Colorado Posted by John Kranz at 7:59 PM | What do you think? [6]
But Terri thinks:

:-)
Sadly they make it far too easy to take whatever side is the other side of a typical boulderite position just by being so obnoxious.

Posted by: Terri at January 19, 2013 8:34 AM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Dear Abby, Earl Weaver, Stan Musial, and Conrad Bain all shuffled off the mortal coil this week, and Boulder is having a candlelight vigil for venison.

I'm clearly missing something, or perhaps Boulder is.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at January 20, 2013 1:05 AM
But jk thinks:

I think we are all in fulsome agreement about the kookery one encounters at 9th & Mapleton. On the date of the original post I was further animated by the behavior of the fair citizens (embedded above).

BUT. We all hold that government's being uniquely empowered with the use of violence, that it must operate within the boundaries we set. That holds for the FDA, USDA, EPA, US Fish SWAT team ... and the Boulder Police Department.

Laugh at the candlelight vigil. Hate the thugs who chase these young women to their car after a council meeting. Fine. But we must ask the BPD to follow their own procedures and not lie to the public.

Posted by: jk at January 20, 2013 11:47 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Unless the text messages say, "I'm conspiring to fabricate a justification and kill a trophy animal out of season" the claim that "texts between the officers revealed they planned the trophy kill almost a day in advance" does not appear founded in evidence. A later reference to the texts says one of the officers "can be seen referring to the elk." What kind of reference? Nice rack? Shoot him? Or, he's been acting strange?

Officers of the law must obey it to the letter. If the animal was acting suspiciously it should have been reported to superiors and dealt with by CDW. However, we are talking about a wildlife regulation violation here, not the tyranny of jack-booted government thugs. At worst I see them guilty of illegal hunting, failure to file a report, and being good ol' boys. I expect their union provided legal counsel will get them acquitted, but also that the image conscious Boulder PD will find a way to hand them pink slips.

Posted by: johngalt at January 20, 2013 12:54 PM
But jk thinks:

Ummm, yeah, I think not filing a report after discharging a weapon in city limits is a big deal. Me rong?

A deeper point is that the actions and motives of any government agency are immediately suspect at ThreeSources. Off with their heads if its the FOMC or the USDA or the Arapahoe County Anti-Doping Agency. Yet police enjoy a liberal benefit of the doubt. Armed government agents who belong to a public sector union are strangely above criticism.

I'm a law and order guy and a big fan of our brave first responders. And I would even support their being allowed to use a firearm without filing a report if no humans were hit. But I share the concern of our interlocutor when I have encountered it on no-knock drug raids. "Well, yeah, they busted into the wrong house at three in the morning and shot the family Yorkie and terrorized the kids. But hey, people make mistakes."

Chairman Bernanke, however...

Posted by: jk at January 20, 2013 1:30 PM
But Terri thinks:

"However, we are talking about a wildlife regulation violation here, not the tyranny of jack-booted government thugs."

We're also talking about a known animal here, not some random elk that happened to wander through.

As we all know each animal has it's own personality and just as "my" horse is far more interesting than that one out in the field and my family/neighbor/friends are more worthy than those people over there, this elk for 2 years had been a part of the neighborhood. Without real threat, and without complaint.

He was killed and he's missed and as much as we (me included) dislike the boulderiteishness of life there, the wildlife regulation that was ignored, the shooting within city limits on the sly, the good ol'boy network of the unionized police is the problem in this instance.
Candlelight vigils we may think are silly is not the problem.

Posted by: Terri at January 21, 2013 10:15 AM

Article V State Amendments

I wanted to post video (thanks Ari Armstrong!) before discussing this. Find 35 minues sometime this weekend, it is pretty good:

UPDATE: Q & A: [Man, who is that long-winded bore asking the first quetsion?]


January 17, 2013

Uncle Milton Crushes the Hanging Curve

If the world is sufficiently dangerous that the police require semi-automatic rifles with large-capacity magazines, then do not the free citizens who are sovereign over the police and who also live in the same dangerous world deserve to similarly protect themselves from it? In fact, are not the citizens -- not the police -- always the first ones who are forced to face those dangers? -- Milton Wolf MD
Gun Rights Posted by John Kranz at 12:22 PM | What do you think? [0]

January 16, 2013

Quote of the Day

[Instapundit] READER DENNIS MULCARE WRITES: "Perhaps, if you can encourage your readers to have their young children write Obama about their angst regarding the national debt, he will publish 23 ways to address federal spending." -- his Glennness

Stealthflation "Race to the Bottom" *

Politicians generally make noise or law, but rarely both at once. That's why I'm not too concerned about the gun-grabbing hysteria in the news these days. The noise achieves multiple goals: It makes the loudest politicians look like they care the most and are "doing" the most; It also distracts from real issues like debt, spending, Benghazi, and the "Global 'Currency War.'"

The massive Fed balance sheet expansion has resulted in the U.S. dollar declining about 11 percent against a basket of world currencies since QE began in 2009. In the meantime, stock prices have doubled since their March 2009 lows and the Morgan Stanley Commodity Related Index has gained about 80 percent.

With the U.S. as its guide, competitive devaluation is expected to accelerate.

Strategas investment strategist Jason Trennert included the "race to the bottom" as one of his five principle investment themes of the year.

And yet, fuel prices continue to fall as domestic production soars (and world demand shrinks.) Think how inexpensive energy would be if you could buy it with a sound dollar.

* You thought "race to the bottom" was my characterization, didn't you? Actually it was, even before reading the article in full.

But Keith Arnold thinks:

"... Think how inexpensive energy would be if you could buy it with a sound dollar..."

And also if the Central Planning apparatchiks would allow drilling so supply could rise along with demand. See the graph at http://is.gd/C9bEFj - and yes, thanks, Dick Nixon, for the EPA.

Hey, speaking of central planners, ruining the economy, and general recalcitrant idiocy, are you all doing something special to welcome Ken Salazar back to Colorado come March?

Posted by: Keith Arnold at January 16, 2013 5:02 PM
But jk thinks:

Again, I complement inflation on just how stealthy it is.

The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) was unchanged in December on a seasonally adjusted basis, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Over the last 12 months, the all items index increased 1.7 percent before seasonal adjustment.
[...]
The index for all items less food and energy increased 0.1 percent in December, the same increase as in November. Besides shelter, the indexes for airline fares, tobacco, and medical care also increased.

The indexes for recreation, household furnishings and operations, and used cars and trucks all declined in December.

The all items index increased 1.7 percent over the last 12 months, compared to a 1.8 percent figure in November. The index for all items less food and energy rose 1.9 percent over the last 12 months, the same figure as last month. The food index has risen 1.8 percent over the last 12 months, and the energy index has risen 0.5 percent.

Posted by: jk at January 17, 2013 1:15 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Respectfully, that is one reason I call it stealth-flation... because it is a low enough rate to escape serious notice. What is the over/under rate where you would expect people to consider a given year "inflationary?" I would put it at 3 percent. More than that and people raise an eyebrow but less? We've been conditioned to consider that "normal."

"The U.S. dollar declining about 11 percent" over a roughly 4-year period is 2.75% annually. May I be forgiven for wondering, if the central bankers can manipulate the money supply so precisely as to remain slightly below 3 percent, why don't they alternately target it slightly above zero?

Posted by: johngalt at January 17, 2013 7:11 PM
But jk thinks:

Bernanke's Textbook suggests a 2% inflation target. The problem with 0.0137% is that the tools are inexact, and the shock of deflation is considered perverse enough to accept 2% inflation. Better to miss at 2.5 than -0.5.

At the risk of opening another front in this war, 2% core CPI is acceptable to me because technology and trade are disinflationary.

Defending the Chairman is not my favorite job (not when there are toilets that require disinfecting or some old COBOL code that requires documenting), but the man wrote a textbook, he was hired to do what he said. He has done what he said pretty perfectly.

I look forward to his replacement (though it might be Maya Angelou with this Administration) and have come to accept from my economic betters that there are better plays than inflation targeting. Yet I cannot grasp the Strum and Drang. Nobody in government since President Polk or Guy Fawkes has ever done more closely what he or she professed.

Posted by: jk at January 17, 2013 7:32 PM
But johngalt thinks:

You make a good case that he did what he said he would do. That makes the fault not his, but ours for letting him have the job. I'm still not convinced that disinflation - saved money buying MORE in the future than it would now - does harm to anyone beside those who income derives from operating the currency system. Market forces are swift, certain and fair, inversely to the extent which government "manages" them.

Finally I should also say that 11 percent inflation over four years is over and above the average currency inflation in the "basket of world currencies" who are, no doubt, targeting non-negative inflation rates themselves. (Neener neener, we inflated our currency more that you pikers. We're winning the Currency War!)

Posted by: johngalt at January 18, 2013 2:33 PM
But jk thinks:

NATALEE HOLLOWAY PICTURES!!!!

Posted by: jk at January 18, 2013 6:28 PM

January 15, 2013


Quote of the Day

So let's get this straight. Mr. Powell holds it "disgraceful" to allege anti-Semitism of politicians who invidiously use the phrase "the Jewish lobby." But he has no qualms about accusing Mr. Sununu--along whose side he worked during the George H.W. Bush administration--of all-but whispering the infamous N-word when he called Mr. Obama's first debate performance "lazy." -- Bret Stephens

January 14, 2013

Don't Attack Humor

I'm a big fan of Dr. Helen (once known as "the InstaWife.")

She has exposed some serious issues in "the War on Men" and has skillfully shown that many unwanted social phenomena are perhaps unintended consequences of devaluing male contributions to society.

But -- I'm too lazy to search but I have commented before -- when she veers off and attacks humor in commercials, I fear it makes her substantive points easy to dismiss. A broad brush stroke against "the continual debasement of Fathers in media" would probably suffice. Pizza Hut's joking about Daddy buying pizza for his cooking night probably is an invidious stereotype. And there are certainly several equivalent jokes one could make about gender-reverse that would invite boycotts and marches. But I want to stop the scolds -- not join them.

She is on the case for one of my favorites today. The VW Passat spot where Dad teaches his son to throw "like a girl" (to put it kindly). I admit to wondering whether the commercial would be criticized by women's or LGBT groups for its deep hidden subtext. Nope, Dr. Helen is on it from the other side. At least "a concerned reader" is very concerned:

I wonder what your reaction was to the latest salvo in the War on Men and Boys. I refer to the Volkswagen Passat commercial which shows a heartwarming scene of a father bonding with his son by playing catch with him. The problem is that he is teaching his son to throw like a girl, except that girls who play softball don't throw that badly. It was painful to watch. I have no idea how this will sell cars, or to whom.

Umm, people with a sense of humor? The tag is "pass him down something he will be grateful for." I take it as Pops's not being a star athlete but he is a good provider of time, attention, and material comforts including a safe and robust vehicle.

If you have not followed her writings, she makes poignant comments about the lack of due process in academia and its effect on matriculation ratios, and the effect of alimony and custody biases as marginal costs on marriage for young men: smart and serious stuff. Critiquing culture in commercial humor undercuts the substance of the message.

UPDATE Fellow convertible driver @donsurber agrees:

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Examine your Conscience?

Really?

obama_guns_ap.gif

I suggest the President examine the Constitution -- and perhaps peruse Federalist #10 on executive power while he is at it.


Quote of the Day

Health-insurance premiums have been rising--and consumers will experience another series of price shocks later this year when some see their premiums skyrocket thanks to the Affordable Care Act, aka ObamaCare.

The reason: The congressional Democrats who crafted the legislation ignored virtually every actuarial principle governing rational insurance pricing. Premiums will soon reflect that disregard--indeed, premiums are already reflecting it. -- Merrill Matthews and Mark E Litow

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 10:52 AM | What do you think? [3]
But johngalt thinks:

Gosh, who could've seen this coming?

Posted by: johngalt at January 14, 2013 2:43 PM
But johngalt thinks:

No, really, it is not as though there were demonstrations in the streets or anything.

Posted by: johngalt at January 14, 2013 2:45 PM
But johngalt thinks:

If we'll just wait to see what's in the bill, after it's passed, we'll learn that health insurance costs will go down for most Americans because the cost burden will be shifted to the rich.

Posted by: johngalt at January 14, 2013 2:47 PM

Registration for Ammunition?

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (Satan's Minions - CT) was on FOX News Sunday yesterday to display how he earned his 'F' rating from the NRA. He called for registration of ammunition. This put me in mind of an email my (biological) brother forwarded from a friend of his:

There was a bit of confusion yesterday when I went to the sporting goods store to pick up some items for a hunting trip I was planning. When I was ready to pay for my purchase of ammunition, the cashier said, "Strip down, facing me."

I was more than a little surprised! I quickly made a mental note to complain to my congressmen about the gun registry people running amok. But, I did just as she had instructed.

When the hysterical shrieking and alarms finally subsided I discovered that she was referring to my credit card.

Gun Rights Posted by John Kranz at 10:36 AM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

Oh, but we should take his opinions seriously because his "background is in law enforcement too." I can see it now: Man Stops Murder Spree, Saves Dozens, Cited for Unregistered Ammo.

Pantywaist.

Posted by: johngalt at January 14, 2013 2:22 PM
But jk thinks:

His "career in law enforcement" was his tenure as a trial-by-media AG in the Nutmeg State, alleging wild Spitzeresque investigations that had no hope in court, then pushing for a settlement from a company eager to avoid embarrassment and protracted snooping.

That's not even fair to NYAG Spitzer -- he had the Martin Act that made some of his irresponsible accusations indictable.

Posted by: jk at January 14, 2013 3:01 PM

January 13, 2013

Value

Train your child for an NFL career -- I'm thinking any athletic child could be trained to place kick with a lot of work. I further suggest that the roster and 11 count render that specialty expensive.

Watching several big returns in the playoffs, imagine how valuable a great kicker who is a good special teams cover would be. A big, athletic tight-end sized guy who could kick could write his own ticket. Let the 135 lb. guys play soccer.

Sports Posted by John Kranz at 4:56 PM | What do you think? [0]

Review Corner

I love Penn Jillette. He is funny, appreciative of liberty, and celebrates the rational.

I have mentioned that his evangelism gets on my nerves. He can be the Governor Huckabee for Atheism, but I try to respect others' beliefs. Like Hitchens, I buy all but his most devout writings. Every Day is an Atheist Holiday!: More Magical Tales from the Author of God, No! was on the edge, but I was due a Penn book so I picked it up.

The book is a collection of short essays and stories. It starts with "the title cut" including a very funny riff on the severity of Christmas Carols. I had family over for Christmas right after finishing this book, and there were quite a few choruses everyone was laughing at. So here is the thesis to the book:

The word "holiday" comes from "holy day" and holy means "exalted and worthy of complete devotion.” By that definition, all days are holy. Life is holy. Atheists have joy every day of the year, every holy day. We have the wonder and glory of life. We have joy in the world before the lord is come. We're not going for the promise of life after death; we're celebrating life before death.

That's the thesis, but it quickly devolves into autobiographical sketches, philosophical musings, and general libertine madness. One of the items Jonathan Haidt uses to test psychological reaction to unexpected depravity appears in this book as a humorous anecdote. I'll not share that particular tale here. But there is much good fun to be had:
My girlfriend could now convince me to put on jeans and a shirt, so we decided to have a Thanksgiving celebration at our house. We invited a creepy elderly sideshow sword swallower, a lighting designer, Teller, a guy who had just quit dealing angel dust in Fresno and was hanging out with us to help him stay clean, and a geologist. It's always important to have a geologist around so that if you end up in space, there's someone to die first. At least that's what happens on Star Trek.

He explores what art is and his belief in Magic as "using lies to tell the truth."
I couldn't have put myself in the same category. I aimed for poet and hit Vegas headliner. Billy West, the greatest voice guy in the world (he's Futurama, Ren & Stimpy and the best M&M-- red), once said there was just one showbiz and we were all in it. Teller says art is anything we do after the chores are done.
[...]
I use Teller’s broad definition of art: “Whatever we do after the chores are done.” There’s one show business and Bach, Dylan, Ron Jeremy, and the guy at the mall in the Santa suit are all in it. By that definition The Celebrity Apprentice is art, and for my sins, I was on it.

A wee bit of politics sneaks in:
The real corporate EPCOT follows the libertarian ideal of making money. Goddamn, they are good at that. Losing on Dancing with the Stars got me VIP treatment at all the Disney properties "forever," which turned out to be about a year. We took our children over to California and down to Florida and we were treated great. I did worry a little that my children would be spoiled by not waiting in lines, but then ObamaCare was passed and I know they'll get to wait in lines when they're sick and that'll build some real character.

If you're getting the idea of a grab bag, you've got it. But they are unified by the Jillette's humor, and incredible underlying honesty. They're great stories, they're funny stories -- from a true believer.

Five stars.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 12:00 PM | What do you think? [0]

No Joy in Mudville

The mighty and righteous Broncos has ten chances to win yesterday and left each ticket on the floor. The thuggish Ravens had one chance and took it. The officials were bona fide suck-ass but nobody can credibly blame them for the loss.

So well done, birdies, hope the Pats smash you next week. If you want me, I'll be crying into my coffee.

This being ThreeSources, there is a public policy angle: I'm expecting a push for a subsidized domed stadium in Denver now that we have a brilliant but weather-challenged QB.

Sports Posted by John Kranz at 11:43 AM | What do you think? [5]
But johngalt thinks:

No new stadium initiative until after we install a head coach who is:

Willing to let the greatest hurry-up passing QB in league history at least try to get in position for a game-winning field goal;

Exhorts his QB and OC to "throw the damn ball" from time to time in the second half;

Smart enough to know not to get conservative on offense until there is at least a two-score lead;

Intimidating enough to the on-field officials that they don't dare call phantom penalties against his bunch lest they endure a profanity laced spittle shower for at least half a minute;

Absolutely, positively, beyond any doubt SURE that his secondary knows how to play prevent defense.

The humanity. The Ravens may well beat the Gronk-less Patriots. I care nothing about either team but will likely root for a Ravens win. But it will be harder against the Pats than the Broncos because, like the Ravens, New England understands how to play team football in the playoffs.

And yes, I'm now more intimidated by the Chiefs new head coaching hire.

Posted by: johngalt at January 14, 2013 2:18 PM
But jk thinks:

It's almost as if you haven't gotten over the game... (Yes, kidding!)

I share a few of your concerns with Coach Fox. Champions do not sit on a lead.

But I disagree orthogonally with one. Too many years watching Coach Shanahan, perhaps, but I think Coach Fox is too demonstrative not too cool. Undisciplined teams win regular season games with talent but discipline wins championships (cf. San Diego Chargers). The Coach who is popping blood vessels on the sideline over every PI call always seems to watch an opposing drive extended with a 15-yard personal foul. Every time.

Posted by: jk at January 14, 2013 5:35 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Perhaps I was projecting. But the 3rd and 1 holding call against the Broncos offense, the 3rd down defensive holding against (don't remember) and pass interference call against Champ were replacement ref garbage. It's the biggest stage of the NFL season. Let them play without calling petty imagined offenses. How else does a head coach alter officiating behavior?

Posted by: johngalt at January 14, 2013 7:37 PM
But jk thinks:

Brutally bad officiating. I think the "all-star" refs have to go and the teams that work together all year should do the playoffs. That might help.

Coaches' saliva? I'm not sure that changes hearts & minds. And I do worry that it makes the team feel that the reasons for their loss are exogenous when they're not.

Posted by: jk at January 15, 2013 10:25 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I won't say you're wrong but you can't say I am either. Bad calls are a gray area, and some are more innocuous than others. A PI call on 2nd and 2 is different than on 3rd and 7, for example. I'm not suggesting a coach try to get the ref to make calls in his favor, but to make them think twice before throwing the laundry AGAINST his team, i.e. no borderline stuff.

But if losing in the playoffs this year is what it takes to unload Mike McCoy on the Super Chargers it may be worth it after all. :)

Posted by: johngalt at January 15, 2013 2:48 PM

January 11, 2013

Damning Evidence

People With Low Self-Esteem Defend Brands Even After Scandals

NO! NO! Lance is innocent!

Posted by John Kranz at 3:42 PM | What do you think? [0]

QOTD II

I only have one peeve about this story and it has to do with the following question: Since when is it outrageous to suspect that a Clinton is being less than wholly forthcoming or honest? If doubting the veracity of a Clinton is outrageous, is it also outrageous to question why dogs attend to their nethers? Is it beyond the pale to ask why men slow down when walking by the Victoria's Secret display at the mall? Is it irresponsible to shout "Allahu Akbar! That's good coffee!" on a plane? Okay, maybe so on the last one, but you get my point. -- Jonah Goldberg [subscribe]
Honorable mention from same G-File:
You have to admit it would have been cool if Boehner had shouted that at Obama during the negotiations with Eric Cantor -- saying in that monotone voice of his: "Who run Bartertown? Master Boehner run Bartertown."

How About a Little Music, Scarecrow?

I know I am riding at the back of this train, but in case somebody on the internet is even less trendy than I am...

I tripped across a couple "The Civil Wars" YouTube videos six months ago and liked what I saw and heard. Amazon had their "Barton Hollow" Album on MP3 for $5 (Still today) and I picked it up right before Christmas and got distracted.

I dusted off the ones and zeros yesterday and am pretty enthralled. I am a sucker for "purity" in music, and their sparse, acoustic instrumentation jumps out against the hyper-production. At the same time, their dramatic harmonies and extreme vocal range belie the simplicity.

On their web page, one can view VH-1 Unplugged clips if you don't want to pony up half a sawbuck. It almost seems unfair to have them "unplugged" though. They should be forced to use distorted electric guitars, synthesizers and autotune. Only fair.

[Embed removed for not playing nice!]

Music Posted by John Kranz at 12:34 PM | What do you think? [0]

Quote of the Day

Given the coin's purpose, it would be far wiser to fashion it out of the same junk now used to make pennies, or for that matter out of plastic, or out of cardboard made from recycled copies of the Congressional Record.

Indeed, if the thing is never to leave the Federal Reserve's vault, it might as well consist of nothing more than a cover from one of those little ice-cream tubs--you know, the ones with the wooden spoon underneath--on which Congressman Walden has scribbled the words "$1 Trillion" along with some appropriate legend. In case the good Congressman is reading this, perhaps he will consider my proposal for such. It is: "In Idiots We Trust." -- George Selgin: My Own Two Cents Concerning Trillion Dollar Coins

Monetary Policy Posted by John Kranz at 11:42 AM | What do you think? [0]

A New National Debate About Guns.

Finally. A national debate. Okay, </sarcasm>

I think my betters in punditry and journalism, and my Facebook friends are all missing the battlefield topology. Yes it will be Democrats who lead on gun control. Yes Republicans will oppose.

But legislative pluralities happen or fail at the margins, and that battle looks far different than ObamaCare® or The Fiscal Cliff™. Pointy-Headed East Coast Elite Kim Strassel is mostly on it (thanks to her Oregon roots, no doubt):

Montana's Jon Tester and Max Baucus, Alaska's Mark Begich, Arkansas's Mark Pryor, South Dakota's Tim Johnson, Louisiana's Mary Landrieu--all are quiet on that red-state Democratic front. North Dakota's brand new senator, Heidi Heitkamp, declared proposals mulled by the Biden task force as "way in the extreme" and "not gonna pass." Unlike Mr. Obama, all of these members still face elections.

Before you pop the champagne corks, these red-state defections are offset on some level by the wobbliest bunch of blue-state Republicans you've seen since "West Wing" was on Tuesday nights.

It's unbearable to watch my pal, Larry Kudlow. Love the man but he does not get it. He lives in a Park Avenue apartment with a doorman and the Second Amendment is most notably about duck hunting to him:


Now, look, I have said i am totally against the jack lew nomination for treasury secretary. but regarding these gun issues, jen, so far, i haven't heard anything that's so bad. in fact, from what i gather, they're going to reinstitute the ban on assault weapons that was law for ten years. what's wrong with that? (~3:23)

Talk show host Lars Larson is the first guest since Sandy Hook who pushes back at all, and I am not sure he is effective. Überpartisan Jennifer Rubin of the WaPo points out inefficacy but -- like every pointy-headed East Coast guest -- concedes the philosophical foundation:
i don't have any problem, larry like you, with either one of these provisions. i'm a second amendment supporter and i don't think these go to that level.

You hear the same concessions on the FOX News Sunday panel and probably on MSNBC: a Republican PHECE (Pointy-Headed-East-Coast-Elite) arguing vociferously with a Democrat PHECE about some fringe piece of legislation.

But nobody says what I read on blogs all day (cocoon much?): that we have an inalienable right to self-defense, that the good guys should have as many rounds in a magazine (umm, they're not really "clips"), and that more guns in the good guys' hands means less crime and less violence. That view is not to be found on cable news.

Gun Rights Posted by John Kranz at 9:26 AM | What do you think? [0]

And a new ThreeSources Debate about Guns...

NRA Gains 100,000 new paid members in 180 Days

Make that 100,002. We've traded barbs about the NRA's support for Harry Reid and lack of philosophical footing. I'll confess that armed guards in schools is the gorramnest stupidest idea I ever heard. (If it's needed, let a local district do it, but the real solution is letting the shop teacher who served in the National Guard and has a carry permit not leave hers at home.)

I'm happy to renew and add to that statistic, but they are an imperfect vessel at best. Discuss?

Gun Rights Posted by John Kranz at 9:12 AM | What do you think? [4]
But johngalt thinks:

Is it not inevitable that the NRA will follow the same devolutionary course as the AARP and the AMA? More individualistic alternatives to the later have recently appeared. More individualistic alternatives to the former have existed for years. Not done yet, but it is my intention to join forces with one of the alternatives.

Posted by: johngalt at January 11, 2013 3:51 PM
But johngalt thinks:

In their defense, NRA-ILA director Chris Cox told the press that VP Biden had no interest in what the group had to say. They merely "checked the box" for having "met with the NRA."

Posted by: johngalt at January 11, 2013 4:03 PM
But jk thinks:

I think we're on the same page. I thought $35 x 2 to be a good investment as we head into the soup.

Posted by: jk at January 11, 2013 4:11 PM
But jk thinks:

O'Sullivan's First Law:

All organizations that are not actually right-wing will over time become left-wing. I cite as supporting evidence the ACLU, the Ford Foundation, and the Episcopal Church. The reason is, of course, that people who staff such bodies tend to be the sort who don't like private profit, business, making money, the current organization of society, and, by extension, the Western world. At which point Michels's Iron Law of Oligarchy takes over -- and the rest follows.

Posted by: jk at January 11, 2013 4:15 PM

January 10, 2013

Everything I believe.

Here it is:

I swear the guy has been cribbing off my notes!

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 5:50 PM | What do you think? [2]
But jk thinks:

My introductory rate expired and I had to cancel Stossel (or pony up $18/mo). I know only what I hear on the street.

Posted by: jk at January 10, 2013 5:57 PM
But johngalt thinks:

It is well past time to alert blog readers to a debate on the fairness of taxation I have engaged with several FB friends for some days now. (122 comments and counting.) It has led to something of a breakthrough as far as I'm concerned regarding a new combination of a flat (amount, not rate) tax on individuals plus a flat (rate) consumption tax. This is both efficacious and fair because, as I wrote:

The compulsory part is equal and therefore fair; the unequal part is elective and therefore also fair. The only losers are those in government who want to control or punish others.
Posted by: johngalt at January 11, 2013 4:01 PM

Lance and Oprah

Two people with superfluous last names are set to meet, according to Jason Gay in the WSJ.

Blog friend Sugarchuck has a great riff. Whenever a politician is in the soup for a deep scandal, sc will say "wait eleven months, he'll cry on 'Oprah' and will be back in business." He is usually correct.

As the ESPN writer Don Van Natta Jr. posted on Twitter, "You don't go on Oprah to confess. You go on Oprah to be forgiven."

I think the count of Lance defenders now stands at about three. But it includes me and the lovely bride. To be fair, I am not certain of his innocence, but I remain a big fan of due process and proportionality in punishment.
If you care about pro cycling you get used to being swept aside in the cultural mainstream. You're accustomed to cycling being a low priority. When you watch pro cycling on TV, it's always on the funny channels at the end of the dial, next to stations that sell abdominal flexors and pantyhose that also make waffles. You get used to the fact that bike racing in the U.S. is mostly an unglamorous place.

I remain an ex-cycling fan and have distilled a reason I can explain.

Concerns of performance enhancements have caused MLB to induct zero baseball greats into the Hall of Fame this year. Kudlow points out that this will devastate Cooperstown businesses. But a statement is being made, and the astonishing careers of Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa and an impressive list of potential inductees will likely not get so honored. And I am cool with that.

I am fine with fines.

Even making them answer questions from Rep. Henry Waxman (Vampire - CA) seems almost humane.

But they did not ask players to return their rings. They did not rewrite the books. Even in the Black Sox Scandal and the replacement refs' Green Bay game, the scores went down in the books. This idea of stripping titles is an insult to the fans and deleterious to the already small seriousness the sport enjoys. You stand on the podium, you wear the Maillot jaune, you won the Tour. You don't get a FedEx package of yellow jerseys and a certificate that says you won in 1997. That's crazy.

UPDATE: All Hail Taranto!

taranto130110.gif


Sports Posted by John Kranz at 11:25 AM | What do you think? [9]
But johngalt thinks:

I know only slightly more than nothing but here goes...

In Lance's case we're not talking about steroids. It's something that causes your body to produce more red blood cells and give your body more oxygen consumption capacity. And my undestanding, or at least my impression, is that yes, EVERYBODY used it. The bureaucrats go after Lance because nobody cares if the 2nd through last place finishers are disqualified.

MLB? Yes, some steroid use, but otherwise largely the same story. So individual players face this choice: Break the rules like everyone else is or be unable to compete and lose your job. The choice is a simple one.

As for the college precedent, I heard recently that the state of Pennsylvania, independent of any university involvement, is challenging the NCAA's Penn State sanctions in court.

Posted by: johngalt at January 10, 2013 2:57 PM
But jk thinks:

Not included is the consideration of what the bar is for "dirty." Armstrong provided 500 blood samples out of which (let's see, divide by four, carry the one...) zero tested positive. If the USADA or the ICF cannot provide a dispositive test for the compounds they deem illegal, I think the bar might be set too low.

In defense of the sport I used to enjoy: it is a poetic, strategic, athletic event of unrivaled splendor. They have a problem because the marginal benefits of PEDs are huge -- they spend thousands shaving a gram off a bike.

I suggest that the tough stance does not make the sport look clean, but rather makes the actual contests unimportant. Read "Cycling News" in 2025 to see who won this year -- any predictions before then are speculative.

Posted by: jk at January 10, 2013 3:05 PM
But dagny thinks:

On a related subject, I recommend a science fiction novel called Achilles Choice by Larry Niven and Steven Barnes.

Posted by: dagny at January 10, 2013 3:26 PM
But jk thinks:

This is even better than data storage...

And, after pondering the tale of Rosie Ruiz (which everybody but me seems to know) I have to contest the comparison. I watched Lance win a couple tours and I watched him get his ass kicked by Alberto Contador on Alpe d'Huez. Neither time was he riding the bus. He was managing his team, composing strategy on the fly, and riding hundred-eighty mile days over several steep mountains.

Misters Bonds and McGwire were not using electric bats either.

Posted by: jk at January 10, 2013 4:11 PM
But Sugarchuck thinks:

Lance Armstrong's competitor's did the same things he did, rode the same race and followed the same course. He did it with assistance, a chemical bus ride, if you will. True Barry Bonds didn't have an electric bat but then neither did anybody else. He took a needle and rode the bus too. Cheating is cheating. Obviously I don't know what Arnstrong did or didn't do and I don't much care, but if he did cheat I'd strip his win.

Posted by: Sugarchuck at January 10, 2013 4:36 PM
But jk thinks:

I object to the comparison of the metaphoric and corporal bus ride. Ms. Ruiz displayed a level of cheating above McGwire, whom I think cheated more than Armstrong. There's a scale of Mens Rea is there not?

Posted by: jk at January 10, 2013 5:36 PM

The Greatest Day of All Time!

Chuck Berry was right about many things, including "you never can tell."

You wake up in the morning, thinking it's just another day to serve corporate interests and enjoy some coffee. Then boom! If you're me, you see it on Facebook -- Facebook!

Forbes:

Heading the list of the unhappiest U.S. cities to work in is Boulder, Colo., with an index score of 3.45. Boulder workers expressed the most pessimism in the Growth Opportunities and Compensation categories, which scored 2.81 and 3.29, respectively.

Boulder, Colorado -- the unhappiest city in the US to work in! I am so happy I might cry.

Colorado Posted by John Kranz at 11:03 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

If this were FB I would be clicking "Like."

(Obviously someone forgot to word the questions properly.)

Posted by: johngalt at January 10, 2013 3:01 PM

January 9, 2013

On consensus in science

A Facebook friend (not one of the Facebook friends) links to a nice piece on scientific consensus. He says all the things I try to say, but the author, Jonathan DuHammel does not quote Karl Popper or use the word "epistemology." Probably the better for both points!

[Dr. Judith Curry, Chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology] goes on the write: "With genuinely well-established scientific theories, 'consensus' is not discussed and the concept of consensus is arguably irrelevant... While a consensus may arise surrounding a specific scientific hypothesis or theory, the existence of a consensus is not itself the evidence." And she notes: "If the objective of scientific research is to obtain truth and avoid error, how might a consensus seeking process introduce bias into the science and increase the chances for error? 'Confirmation bias' is a well-known psychological principle that connotes the seeking or interpreting of evidence in ways that are partial to existing beliefs, expectations, or an existing hypothesis. Confirmation bias usually refers to unwitting selectivity in the acquisition and interpretation of evidence."

There are some famous failures of consensus in history. The pre-eminent one was the belief that the Earth was the center of the universe. That was the prevailing consensus 500 years ago. That consensus was shown to be in error, first by Nicolaus Copernicus and later by Galileo, Kepler, and Newton.

But AndyN thinks:

"...I by and by found out that a consensus examines a new thing with its feelings rather oftener than with its mind. You know, yourself, that this is so. Do those people examine with feelings that are friendly to evidence? You know they don't. It is the other way about. They do the examining by the light of their prejudices - now isn't that true?

"With curious results, yes. So curious that you wonder the consensuses do not go out of the business. Do you know of a case where a consensus won a game? You can go back as far as you want to and you will find history furnishing you this (until now) unwritten maxim for your guidance and profit: Whatever new thing a consensus coppers (colloquial for "bets against"), bet your money on that very card and do not be afraid."

Mark Twain from Dr. Loeb's Incredible Discovery first published in Europe and Elsewhere in 1923, reprinted in On the Damned Human Race. Of course, every good leftist knows he's a racist, so they can safely ignore what he had to say. Anybody seriously interested in social commentary should own a copy of the book though.

Posted by: AndyN at January 10, 2013 9:42 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Cool quote and literary tip Andy.

"Whatever new thing a consensus [bets against] bet your money on that very card and do not be afraid."

Oil
Nuclear
Coal

Posted by: johngalt at January 10, 2013 3:04 PM

Rob Natelson

Warm up for next Monday's Liberty on the Rocks:

Natelson's book in Review Corner

113th Congress Posted by John Kranz at 11:12 AM | What do you think? [0]

QOTD II

When I was reporting on Wall Street, I used to be told with some regularity that government was needed to counteract the short-term thinking of the business sector, who never thought much beyond the next quarterly earnings report. This now seems as quaintly adorable as picture hats and daily milk deliveries. An ADHD day trader with a cocaine habit and six months to live has considerably more long-term planning skills than our current congress. -- Megan McArdle

Quote of the Day

I too have come to respect Obama's tenacity, even as I deplore his illiberality, but I think [Marc] Thiessen's recommendation makes a deadly miscalculation: He forgets that Obama's single-minded pursuits are fully backed and protected by the mainstream press.

Whether in print or broadcast, our increasingly lofty and elitist media are a little like the FDIC to Obama's commercial bank; they provide insurance and coverage. They differ from the FDIC only in conditions and limits, because where this president is concerned, the media have none. Although he displays little respect for their assistance, Obama’s deposits are always accepted; his withdrawals are penalty-free and he is never asked to fill out a form, repay with interest or show two forms of ID -- Elizabeth Scalia


But Terri thinks:

I think I'd make this the QOTD from the same column:

"My Will, Squared, times Digging-in-Heels, divided by [Executive Order] only equals 'Glorious Victory' when it contains a cosine 'D' and is calculated with a vector + MSM." ROFL

Posted by: Terri at January 9, 2013 3:16 PM

January 8, 2013

The Worst Senator Ever?

Not counting the president, that would be impolite.

Bret Stephens demolishes Senator Chuck Hagel (Jew-Hatin' Homophobe NE) on the WSJ Ed Page. You have to read every word (holler for an email version), but here is the summation:

In each case, Mr. Hagel was articulating a view that was exactly in keeping with received Beltway wisdom. In each case, he was subsequently disproved by events. In no case was Mr. Hagel ever held to any kind of account for being wrong. In no case did he hold himself to account for being wrong.

Oh, by the way, in 1995 Mr. Hagel told the Omaha World Herald that his opposition to abortion was total and made no exception for cases of rape or incest--a view that helped get him elected to the Senate the following year. He later voted repeatedly against allowing servicewomen to pay for abortions out of their own pocket, according to the left-wing magazine Mother Jones. Now that Congress has authorized the Defense Department to pay for abortions in cases of rape, it would be worth asking Mr. Hagel if he has evolved on this one, too.


The rest of the column chronicles decades of saying whatever is popular at the time and changing positions when they fall out of disfavor. It makes one appreciate a Rep. Xavier Becerra (D CA) or Senator Bernie Sanders (I VT). My respect for their consistency precludes my providing a silly party - state identifier.


January 7, 2013

Quote of the Day

Take, for instance, Kevin Drum of Mother Jones, who flatly titles a post on the subject "No, a $1 Trillion Platinum Coin Is Not Legal." Drum, doubting there is enough of the requisite straitjacket brand of strict constructionism in the U.S. court system to uphold such a tortured reading of the statute, dismisses the ploy as "the kind of thing that Herman Cain would come up with" (the dread reductio ad Hermanum, a conversation-stopper in progressive circles). -- Daniel Foster NRO

How Do You Deal With?

What stunned House Speaker John Boehner more than anything else during his prolonged closed-door budget negotiations with Barack Obama was this revelation: "At one point several weeks ago," Mr. Boehner says, "the president said to me, 'We don't have a spending problem.'"
This is from a Stephen Moore interview with Speaker Boehner. Also well excerpted outside the paywall by Matt Welch. The President thinks we have a health care problem and that once that is fixed (by the addition of large quantities of government, natch) all of our other priorities will be seen to be very affordable.

I don't know where I got the job "President of the Speaker Boehner Fan Club" (my card just arrived in the mail). But how do you negotiate with a man who a) believes that; b) is not a compromise politician; c) has a Senate majority; and, d)can expect sympathetic press? "I need this job like a hole in my head" is the other takeaway quote.

One can find fault with the Speaker but I think it requires context. All in all, another grim reminder of IowaHawk's wisdom:

tweet130107.gif

But johngalt thinks:

The attitude of President Obama is reminiscent of another dismissive attitude: Drinking problem? I do not have a drinking problem. I drink, I fall down, no problem.

Posted by: johngalt at January 9, 2013 3:24 PM

Happy New Year

When all else fails, go with storage. Here's a 5MB disk drive being loaded onto a plane, circa 1956.

5MB_HDD.jpg


Eagerly awaiting the trail of "I had one of those" comments. (But mine was 512K -- and it was twice that size!) Hat-tip: VA Viper

Technology Posted by John Kranz at 9:56 AM | What do you think? [1]
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Okay, I'll byte. ("Oh gawd, not that joke...")

5 meg. I've got a nine-year-old PDA with a 4 GIG SD memory card. That's on the order of a thousand times the capacity of that behemoth. The difference? The 1956 IBM storage device could be taken on a plane (obviously, from the picture) without earning you a body-cavity search from the TSA.

("You just had to go there, Arnold, dincha?")

I remember my first computer, with its ginormous 40-Meg hard drive, and I wondered how I'd ever fill it. Now that 40-Meg is a third of the Windows operating system's footprint.

Think of this: the capacity of an audio CD is about 700 Meg. It would take over a hundred of those IBM storage units to hold the first disk of the "Berkeley Square's Greatest Hits" compilation. That's a sobering thought.

Here's another: the capacity of a DVD is about 4.5 Gig - a thousand times the capacity of that unit. If you stop at the video rental store on the way home from work, spend five minutes picking out a movie, and ten minutes driving the rest of the way home, your effective "download speed" is 300 Meg/minute (4.5 Gig/15 minutes) or 5 Meg/second. Until the advent of fast Internet connections, your computer couldn't compete with the video store.

And the times, they are a-changin'.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at January 7, 2013 4:45 PM

January 6, 2013

Review Corner

Oops.

When I went to purchase Justice Scalia's "Reading Law" [Review Corner] I accidentally purchased another book by the same authors: Scalia and Garner's Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges. It might have been wishful thinking, as "Making Your Case" was $15 and "Reading Law" was $40. In the end, Nino got $55. Damned one percenters.

Making Your Case is targeted at lawyers -- and I do not even play one on TV. But I do like to argue (Do Not! Yes I do!) and I would like to communicate my positions more clearly. And a bit of time in a mind so expansive as Justice Scalia's is not time wasted.

You need to give the court a reason you should win that the judge could explain in a sentence or two to a nonlawyer friend.
[...]
If the academic brief seems particularly damaging, you might take the trouble to check the scholarly writings of the signatories; some professors have been known (O tempora, O mores!) to join a brief that flatly contradicts their own writings. By noting this, you’ll help both the court and the academy.

I love internecine debate, and the authors split over a few items. Bryan Garner (O tempora, O mores!) suggests that you can even use contractions in you brief:
In some sentences, are not contractions all but obligatory? Do you not think?

Scalia disagrees:
Formality bespeaks dignity. I guarantee that if you use contractions in your written submissions, some judges--including many who are not offended by the use of contractions in the New Yorker, Time, Vogue, the Rolling Stone, Field and Stream, and other publications not addressed to black-robed judges engaged in the exercise of their august governmental powers--will take it as an affront to the dignity of the court.

An interesting look at a career I never considered. From what I gather between the virtual covers of this book, that was pretty wise on my part. Yet, I admit it has fascinated me later in life. This book gives a good glimpse and much advice that is valuable outside of law. Five accidental stars.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 11:24 AM | What do you think? [2]
But Keith Arnold thinks:

You had me at "targeting lawyers."

Posted by: Keith Arnold at January 7, 2013 4:48 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"You need to give the court a reason you should win that the judge could explain in a sentence or two to a nonlawyer friend."

Did not Chief Justice Roberts fail this test in reverse in the matter of his Americans v. Affordable Care Act ruling? As I recall it, his justification was tortured in the extreme.

Posted by: johngalt at January 9, 2013 3:19 PM

January 5, 2013

Fair & Balanced

AP: BOSTON (AP) -- The Republican Party seems as divided and angry as ever.
GODDAM IT!!! How can they print LIES like that!!! Republicans ARE NOT %^*@^&ING ANGRY!!! WE ARE JUST TRYING TO PRESERVE LIBERTY! WHEN WILL THOSE THICK-HEADED NUMBSKULLS GET IT!!

On a more serious note, one waits patiently for the Yahoo/AP Headline: Democrats as Monodimensional and pandering as ever.


January 4, 2013

Liberty on the Rocks

Now that you know where it is Ellis...

Join us on Monday, January 14th, where your special guest speaker will be Mr. Rob Natelson from the Independence Institute, who will be discussing Article V of the Constitution, the article that allows a convention to amend the Constitution. After Mr. Natelson'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!
Brother jg mentioned this in a comment and I went looking for video of Natelson on Jon Caldera's TV Show. Guess it'll have to wait until the 14th.
Colorado Posted by John Kranz at 12:20 PM | What do you think? [2]
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

How I wish I could be there, friends! I will be there in spirit. Having seen the room the imagination can fill in the rest...

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at January 4, 2013 5:43 PM
But johngalt thinks:

You (and we) can also check out the guest speaker on the same topic from Grassroots Radio Colorado's January 2nd show. Link to hour 1. If'n you like it then look for hour 2.

Posted by: johngalt at January 4, 2013 7:21 PM

January 3, 2013

Mom & Dad

Insty links to some very cool pictures of a 1940s dance in Oklahoma.

okla_dance.jpg

My Dad met my Mom in Oklahoma in the 1940s. I grew up on stories about "rolling up the rugs." After the USO closed, a large crowd would show up at Grandmother & Grandfather's house, where they would roll up the rugs and dance for several hours.

Though these Farm Security Administration photos look a million years old, and the UK Daily Mail presents them as what people from outer space might look like, I suspect these scenes would have been pretty commonplace to my folks.

Yes, I am still a spring chicken, but I was the youngest child of late bloomers (Dad at least). The generations quickly disappear into ancient history in my family.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:37 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

And those kids sleeping on the bed (click through) are my father's generation.

Posted by: johngalt at January 3, 2013 2:55 PM

Bambicide!

Nobody owned up to being a "Return of the Secaucus Seven" fan, but this one is out of the script:

Mystery solved: Boulder police admit officer shot elk, but failed to tell anyone

After initially denying neighbor reports that Boulder police shot a large bull elk at Ninth Street and Mapleton Avenue late Tuesday night, police officials today revealed that an on-duty officer did kill the animal, but failed to file a report with his supervisors or notify dispatchers.


Boulder?

Colorado Posted by John Kranz at 12:18 PM | What do you think? [7]
But jk thinks:

Nah, you've pretty much nailed it. I expect this will be a big deal. These are a serious panties-in-a-wad people. Investigations loom and I would not bet a month's tofu ration on the officer's keeping his job.

Nor is 9th and Mapleton real far from what we call "The Mountains;" it's a pretty short elk lope.

Posted by: jk at January 3, 2013 1:21 PM
But jk thinks:

My blog brother proceeds from the position that a human child's life is more valuable than an elk's. That would not poll well in the precinct bounding 9th & Mapleton.

Posted by: jk at January 3, 2013 1:24 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Maybe not a child, jk, but that mailman was a union member and a reliable vote! My gosh, man, he's one of their own!

Posted by: Keith Arnold at January 3, 2013 2:19 PM
But johngalt thinks:

So many good jokes could be made, but I'll abstain. To understand the perspective of those bothered by this story, read the comments emailed about the animals "memorial" sevice, held "Thursday morning for the animal and placed pine boughs along the street" by one James Riemersma. "His only disturbance or damage being nipped off various plants and fauna, pawing up some sod here and there and bending a few fences." One wonders what adjectives might be used by the owners of the plants, sod and fences, and those who were trapped in their homes in fear of sharp antlers. More from Riemersma:

"If the shooter was not an officer of the law, whose life was endangered, the killing is a felony and the individual responsible shall be apprehended, prosecuted and held accountable."

First I'll ask this probable relativist, "Are you sure? Is anything knowable?" Then, "Are officers of the law above the law?" Also, "What laws must an ordinary citizen abide by when his 'life was endangered?" Next, possibly finally, "Do you expect every of your neighbors to be as cavalier about the unpredictability of this wild "majestic" animal in or near their homes as you so obviously are? Hypothetically, if he killed someone after you interfered with the police and prevented him killing the animal, shall you be apprehended, prosecuted and held accountable for murder?"

Posted by: johngalt at January 3, 2013 2:53 PM
But jk thinks:

We joke about Boulder, but Boulderite Jon Caldera showed some film (not on i2i.org yet) of fracking opponents who followed two young women to their car and yelled threats after the two represented their energy firm employers in a hearing.

Caldera was ashamed; I was incensed. These people are not harmless goofballs, they are totalitarians.

Posted by: jk at January 3, 2013 3:46 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I happened to see clips of that last night, at the end of a DVRed program that we finally got around to from CBS 4 Denver. Couldn't find the original story but here is the follow-up.

Posted by: johngalt at January 3, 2013 5:20 PM

Ell Oh Ell

Very much NSFW, very much funny:

NFL QBs On Facebook: Crappy New Year!

HT: Brother Keith on Facebook

But dagny thinks:

I am reminded of a section from the Heinlein novel, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. The newly self-aware computer (Mike for those who haven't read it) is trying to understand humor. He prints out reams of jokes from his ginormous reference banks (no Kindles available) and the humans tell him which are funny and not funny. Turns out women and men think different things are funny. From this the women conclude the computer is a girl and start calling it Michelle.

Not sure if this applies in this case but I mostly don't think this is very funny, just crude. And I am actually a football fan so I get most of it. Call me a prude if necessary.

Posted by: dagny at January 4, 2013 6:43 PM

Quote of the Day

I really don't like the idea of an extremist propaganda outlet that seeks the destruction of America airing on U.S. cable. Fortunately, sounds like Al Jazeera's about to get rid of it. -- Allahpundit
Hat-tip: Jim Geraghty's Morning Jolt

January 2, 2013

Selection Bias

I tease about Facebook, but there are some jewels:

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 6:23 PM | What do you think? [2]
But dagny thinks:

This, on the other hand, and in comparison to what I wrote above is HILARIOUS! Funny all the time Mike.

Posted by: dagny at January 4, 2013 7:14 PM
But Jk thinks:

I thought this was biting social commentary...

Posted by: Jk at January 4, 2013 8:57 PM

Anti-Millenarian

Politics lovers viewed the fiscal cliff negotiations in strategic and tactical terms.

Some time around 9PM Mountain on New Year's Eve, I confess I lost interest. I knew they would do what they would, that I wouldn't likely like it, and that it would not really solve anything. I didn't dream that we would get a full $0.02439024390243902439024390243902 in spending cuts for every dollar of tax increases, but there you have it.

And yet, I close the day in good cheer. The S&P 500 is up 36.23 (The Nazz almost a hundred!). American business will put up with all kinds of bad $%&*. When given the opportunity, there are more Dagny Taggarts than John Galts.

And, hey, there are now going to be more Famous Dave's!

"I've had four calls today from existing franchisees wanting to expand," said Dan DiZio, chief executive of Philly Pretzel Factory, a chain of 125 pretzel shops. "Uncertainty is a killer in any business and the pretzel business is not exempt."

John Gilbert, chief executive of Famous Dave's of America DAVE +6.20%, a chain of 185 barbecue restaurants, said consumers were holding back from dining out as they waited to see whether and how much their taxes would increase. "People have to eat but not at restaurants," he said. "We live and die by same-store sales and guest counts and when customers don't know what to plan for, it has a huge impact on businesses like ours."


I see very little likelihood that a cataclysm would have -- in this political environment -- lead to better policy and more liberty. I toast the 112th for putting just enough oil in the engine to make it to Jan 20.

Pretzels and Brisket for everyone!


Republicans: WINNING!

I supported John Boehner's Plan B. I did so because it had so many income tax fixes and made them permanently.* I didn't follow the holiday-lawmaking closely but what I did hear and read was depressing. The "millionaire's tax rate hike" was lowered from $1M to $400,000 ($450,000 for couples [marriage penalty anyone?]) and the ratio of tax revenue increases to spending cuts was forty-three to one. But dagny emails an article that looks at the full portion of the glass.

Yesterday, the government voted to extend almost all of the Bush Tax Cuts permanently.

Not temporarily, as a stimulus measure.

Permanently.

Ever since the Bush Tax Cuts were first enacted in 2001, one goal of the Republican party has been to "make the Bush Tax Cuts permanent."

For most of the last decade, this goal has seemed like an extremist view: Making the Bush Tax Cuts permanent would drastically reduce the federal government's revenue. It would also increase inequality and balloon the national debt and deficit--so how could we possibly justify doing that?

And yet now, suddenly, almost all of the Bush Tax Cuts are permanent.

(...)

The Republicans also got another good deal for America's investor and owner class, making the Bush dividend tax cut permanent. This saves a lot of money in tax bills for America's wealthier investors.

(...)

It's true that the Republicans have not yet won much ground on the other front that the party claims to be fighting on--namely spending cuts on programs that primarily benefit low-income and middle-income Americans (food stamps, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, unemployment insurance, and so forth).

But the key word there is "yet."

This is not to say our market economy is in the clear but as far as the legislative action taken yesterday, it could have been much worse.

* "Permanently" only means without an expiration date, but it is still important because significant political capital must be expended before it changes again.


But it does focus the mind...

Still, death is not everything. Even if "being overweight doesn't increase your risk of dying," Dr. Klein said, it "does increase your risk of having diabetes" or other conditions.
That's the NYTimes walking back a study which suggests a lower mortality rate for overweight people.

"But don’t scrap those New Year’s weight-loss resolutions and start gorging on fried Belgian waffles or triple cheeseburgers." says Pam Belluck.

Okay, I'll pass on the waffle, but the cheeseburger sounds pretty good. What I'd rilly rilly like to pass on is the nanny state laws from Mayor Bloomberg and the First Lady, and the new school lunch guidelines that are starving some students.

Maybe -- if it's not killing us -- y'all could let us decide for ourselves? Like a free citizenry?

Hat-tip: Insty who adds "But remember, most of the anti-obesity crusading isn't really about health, it's about not wanting to look at fat people. So this won't change much."

Nanny State Posted by John Kranz at 1:36 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Trying to understand: Being gay makes someone a member of an oppressed, protected class but being overweight makes him a legitimate target of unsolicited government protection from himself? I suppose in the minds of myopic nannyists the distinction is "innate" versus "behavioral." Yet is there conclusive evidence that no one is "born" to be fat? Do they not deserve the same benefit of the doubt, or is it fair that gay people also be lectured and regulated at the margins for whatever behavioral choices supposedly "make them" gay?

Posted by: johngalt at January 2, 2013 3:07 PM

Quote of the Day

Fume at Speaker Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell all you want, but here's the problem: The chance to gain leverage in these negotiations was on Election Day, and the GOP came up with bubkes that day. Sequestration and the expiration of all of the Bush tax cuts presented an awful status quo to begin with, and there was really no better alternative that would get A) passed in a Senate controlled by Harry Reid and B) signed by President Obama. They don't want what we want, and we don't want what they want. And time was on their side in several ways, not least of which was that as of noon Thursday, a new Congress, with even more Democrats, is sworn into office. -- Jim Geraghty
112th Congress Posted by John Kranz at 12:17 PM | What do you think? [2]
But jk thinks:

My first Facebook fight of 2013? With blog brother Keith.

He rips a snappy Les Mis allusion that goes over my head. I retorted sarcastically that I wish all the people unhappy with the leadership had done more last November to strengthen their hand.

Let's see, whom can I antagonize next...?

Posted by: jk at January 2, 2013 2:33 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

'Twas not a Facebook fight, mon ami! (Hey, it's French, in deference to Les Mis.) I thought we both did a fairly good job of taking a swing at the feckless GOP - both the House leadership (such as it is...) and the voters who no-showed in November. So, I chose to see it not so much a fight as a two-pronged attack at the state of politics. In fact, I think Brother JG's contribution made it a fairly neat trifecta.

So - will Boehnert's political career mirror Javert's last act? Will the hoi polloi finally step away from their big-screen TVs and their Xboxes and take their place on the barricades at last with us? Or will America, like Valjean, have to go through the sewers before we see a light at the end of the tunnel?

Dang, this metaphor practically writes itself...

Posted by: Keith Arnold at January 2, 2013 7:17 PM

January 1, 2013

Best Year Ever

Yay Capitalism!

Posted by John Kranz at 4:16 PM | What do you think? [0]

California Gun Safe

Because guns are DANGEROUS!


Don't click this. Comments (2)