April 30, 2013

Pre Review Corner

Don't wait for Sunday! Snap up: Kling, Arnold The Three Languages of Politics Kindle Edition. It's $1.99 on Kindle. It's short (short enough you could read it on a tablet or desktop with the Kindle app), and it will get five stars this weekend if I get Wi-Fi at my undisclosed location.

Kling distills Jonathan Haidt's "The Righteous Mind" and some other behavioral psychology texts to provide three languages as practiced by three sections of the American polity:

The first dominant heuristic is the one I associate with progressives (henceforth Ps). Ps, who are likely to respond X to the basic question, are most comfortable with language that frames political issues in terms of oppressors and oppressed.

The second dominant heuristic is one I associate with conservatives (henceforth Cs). Cs, who are likely to respond Y to the basic question, are most comfortable with language that frames political issues in terms of civilization and barbarism.

The third dominant heuristic is one I associate with libertarians (henceforth Ls). Ls, who are likely to respond Z to the basic question, are most comfortable with language that frames political


That sets it up, but it's a better read than "the third dominant heuristic" implies.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 3:40 PM | What do you think? [1]
But T. Greer thinks:

Interesting. According to this rubric, TR, FDR, and Truman would all be conservatives... probably on the same boat as GWB.

Posted by: T. Greer at April 30, 2013 6:07 PM

Quote of the Day

ADDENDUM: I saw on Twitter someone declare that Tim Tebow is an example of how "God loves us, but that doesn't mean he won't test us." Indeed, and I find that the instrument of his testing is quite often the New York Jets. -- Jets' fan Jim Geraghty
Sports Posted by John Kranz at 9:27 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Related: "Is it too late for Tim Tebow to come out and declare that he's gay? Then the NFL would have to find a team for him to play for." -- Rush Limbaugh today

Posted by: johngalt at April 30, 2013 2:51 PM

April 29, 2013

John LeCarre Meets Ron Paul

We have oft, on these very pages, jested about the turgidness of monetary policy. It truly is fundamental to Liberty but boy howdy...

In Battle of Bretton Woods, Benn Steil tells the remarkable story of the 44-nation postwar economic conference known for its location in the remote New Hampshire town.

I have always used "Bretton Woods" as synonymous with a gold standard, as in "Nixon took us out of Bretton Woods." In truth -- as gold bugs have screamed at me for years -- it was a managed convertibility, what Larry Kudlow would call a gold peg, but with rates dictated by fiat. Steil relates a story I had also heard from Amity Shlaes

From his bed each morning, Roosevelt would, after briefly conferring with his advisers, set a daily target for bumping up the gold price, not always through scientific methods. One day, November 3, the president suggested that gold should go up twenty-one cents. "It's a lucky number," he explained, chuckling, "because its three times seven." "If anybody ever knew how we really set the gold price through a combination of lucky numbers, etc.," observed Morgenthau, "I think they would be frightened."

Before we get into that snoozefest discussion, the remarkable parts are the participants, and the purposeful move to use the conference output to make the US and the US Dollar the global hegemon. Britain was financially ruined by the war -- she had zero hope without Lend-Lease. Heavily indebted to the US from Lend-Lease, Britain had no power at Bretton Woods to push its agenda; no one did, the US held all the good cards.

All Britain had was a formidable representative in John Maynard Keynes: the economics wunderkind who was rewriting the science, the first and last economic celebrity, and a formidable debate partner. Keynes learned his craft sparring with the likes of Karl Popper, American bureaucrats were intellectual cannon fodder.

But in the United States corner was one of the oddest characters you will encounter in history: Henry Dexter White. White had no title at all until late in his tenure, but he had the vision of the dollar replacing gold as the world currency and he had a plan to make it happen. Oh, and he was a Soviet Spy.

Keynes, not yet Lord K, was not too impressed with his interlocutor:

"He has not the faintest conception how to behave or observe the rules of civilised intercourse," Keynes groused. Arrogant and bullying, White was also nerve-ridden and insecure. Being wholly dependent on his ability to keep his boss, Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau, an FDR confidant with limited smarts, continually rearmed with actionable policies, he was always acutely conscious of his tenuous status in Washington.

Keynes was Keynes:
Like another great mind of his time, Albert Einstein, Keynes had a preternatural ability to see relationships between complex phenomena entirely differently than generations of experts before him. Though mathematics was the primary analytical tool for both physics and economics, neither Einstein nor Keynes was exceptionally gifted in, nor fascinated by, higher mathematics. They had an utterly rare gift of intellectual intuition; both thought through problems which obsessed them using the vehicle of analogy, like riding on a light beam (which sparked Einstein's theory of special relativity) or living in an economy that produces and consumes only bananas (through which Keynes "proved" that thrift was deadly).

Excuse me, jk, did you say White was a soviet spy? Why yes, he worked with Whittaker Chambers before Chambers was traded for two third-round draft picks. And Chambers claims that he was second only to Alger Hiss in the damage done over his tenure. Yet -- at the conference -- he pursued US interests unfailingly. Though he thought that Communism was the wave of the future and that the US and USSR were destined to be the great postwar allies, there is no suggestion that he weakened the US position. White was out to best Keynes and Britain -- and did so.

Monetary policy types will dig the importance given by this book. WWII is attributed to bad policy, and the whole point of Bretton Woods -- planned long before Allied victory was certain, opening weeks after D-Day -- was to prevent currency nationalism that would precipitate additional conflict. That was how it was sold to Congress and the American people.

Most surprising to me was the enmity between the US and Britain. PM Churchill and FDR may have had a special relationship, but it was not passed to Misters Atlee nor Truman, nor Congress, nor Americans wary of Monarchy and Imperialism. We had them "where short hairs grow" and there were few people that wanted to let them off easy. If they were destroyed by the terms concluding Lend-Lease, who cares?

What was that spy thing again, jk? That sounded interesting.

White performed superbly at his HUAC hearing, He waved the flag and stated his love of Apple Pie and Motherhood, and turned the tables on unprepared examiners to draw applause. A young Senator from California thought that he could get him on perjury, for disavowing Whittaker Chambers. But each time While would answer that "he could not recall" his contact. The publication of the Verona papers in the late 1990s corroborate all of Chambers's charges.

And that young Senator Nixon went on to become President -- and pull our nation out of the Bretton Woods agreement...

A great and interesting story. Alas, it reads more like Ron Paul than the Spy Story at times, but it's a good yarn all the same. Four stars.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 6:42 PM | What do you think? [4]
But johngalt thinks:

So, you're saying that Barack Obama is a Soviet spy?

The Amazon book description says that White "also, very privately, admired Soviet economic planning and engaged in clandestine communications with Soviet intelligence officials and agents over many years."

And your review says he was a "Soviet spy." Which leads me to wonder, which description is more damning?

Oh yes, that Obama is a spy quip... Would you rather I say that he "admires Soviet economic planning and engage[s] in clandestine communications with Soviet intelligence officials and agents?"

[Awesome review, by the way, of an apparently awesome book.]

Posted by: johngalt at April 30, 2013 2:49 PM
But jk thinks:

Thanks for the kind words! I'm comfortable with the spy declaration because of the Verona papers. And while I agree that admiration of economic planning is wrong, misrepresentation of your intentions is far worse. It would be as if President Obama had said "I will not raise taxes on those making less than $250,000" or "if you like your health care plan, you can keep it." You know -- willful misrepresentation.

Okay, a little more seriously: this is FDR's administration, Rex Tugwell and Henry Wallace openly favored Soviet planning "I have seen the future and it works."

Posted by: jk at April 30, 2013 3:27 PM
But jk thinks:

"'I have seen the future,' wrote radical journalist Lincoln Steffens after a trip to Petrograd in 1919, 'and it works.' By the time of Bretton Woods a quarter century later, White believed that Soviet socialist economics had proven itself a success. 'Russia is the first instance of a socialist economy in action,' White writes. 'And it works!' Much of the animus toward the Soviet Union within the American political establishment was, he argued, political hypocrisy born of an ideological inability to acknowledge the success of socialist economics."

Steil, Benn (2013-02-11). The Battle of Bretton Woods (Council on Foreign Relations Books (Princeton University Press)) (p. 6). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition. "

Posted by: jk at April 30, 2013 3:32 PM
But johngalt thinks:

The Bolshevik Revolution was in 1914, if memory serves, so Mr. Steffens was comfortable proclaiming Soviet socialism a success after a mere 5 years. A striking parallel with today's champions of "Obamanomics."

Posted by: johngalt at May 1, 2013 2:05 AM

April 28, 2013

Downer of the Day

I'm an optimist. Larry Kudlow took on his old boss, David Stockman, last Friday. Go Larry! Even Jon Caldera and Governor Richard Lamm's bipartisan admission that the national debt is too huge to ever be paid just took me down a couple pegs.

But when the subject nears academia... I emailed this to a good friend of this blog. It should be good for seven days irrespective of subscriber status.

"Democracy May Have Had Its Day" Donald Kagan, Yale's great classicist gives his final lecture, fighting as ever for Western civilization.

Donald Kagan is engaging in one last argument. For his "farewell lecture" here at Yale on Thursday afternoon, the 80-year-old scholar of ancient Greece--whose four-volume history of the Peloponnesian War inspired comparisons to Edward Gibbon's Roman history--uncorked a biting critique of American higher education.

Universities, he proposed, are failing students and hurting American democracy. Curricula are "individualized, unfocused and scattered." On campus, he said, "I find a kind of cultural void, an ignorance of the past, a sense of rootlessness and aimlessness." Rare are "faculty with atypical views," he charged. "Still rarer is an informed understanding of the traditions and institutions of our Western civilization and of our country and an appreciation of their special qualities and values." He counseled schools to adopt "a common core of studies" in the history, literature and philosophy "of our culture." By "our" he means Western.


It's more than a retelling of "Closing of the American Mind," though Bloom gets a cameo and is certainly not refuted. One certainly fears for the Republic...

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 9:37 AM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

I watched the Lamm apparance on Devil's Advocate eagerly. I wanted to watch Caldera ask him about his "coming out" with 'Confessions of a Former Keynsian.' I saw a brief summary instead of the deep discussion and furtherance of the topic I'd hoped for. And the big "regret" Mr. Lamm lives with from his career as Colorado's Governor? Signing the bill that revoked the helmet law for motorcyclists. A nannyist to the core.

Posted by: johngalt at April 29, 2013 2:36 PM
But jk thinks:

I winced at that as well. But I dug everything before it. Call it pessimism, but it compares positively to the current White House and Senate line that everything's fine -- the debt can be fixed with stimulus, green jobs and the Buffett rule.

Gov. Lamm's philosophy is no doubt nanny all the way down, but his economic realism -- because of his progressive ideas -- is a welcome breath. I plan to share it with a lot of friends of all persuasions.

Posted by: jk at April 29, 2013 6:30 PM

All Hail Harsanyi!

I am remiss in not linking his superb post on Nanny Mayor Bloomberg. Seems Hizzonner thinks "our laws and our interpretation of the Constitution, I think, have to change." Harsanyi points out that "All said, he's exactly the type of person who makes the Constitution a necessity."

Anyone who believes your caloric intake is government's prime concern should be watched carefully, of course; but no matter what crusade the man's on, his rationalization for limiting personal freedom is a dangerous one. Some of his proposals are popular (smoking bans), and others are less so (limiting portion sizes and banning ingredients), but all of them set precedents that distort the relationship between government and citizens. The jump from minor infringements on personal liberty to giant ones is a shorter one than you think. Allow a politician to tell you what your portion sizes should be and the next thing you know you're letting Washington force you to buy insurance you don't want.

The whole short post is excellent. The great hook for ThreeSourcers, however, is this one:
When Justice Milton Tingling struck down Bloomberg's pathetic soda ban as "arbitrary and capricious" last year, he might as well have been talking about the mayor's overall disposition. Bloomberg likes to act as if he's a man free of the unpleasantness of political ideology or party. He's the driving force behind the inane No Labels group -- which, in addition to having no labels, has no ideas and no support. But pretending to be without a guiding philosophy doesn't by default make you a moderate. It can just as easily mean you support using arbitrary and capricious power to get your way.

Thus endeth the lesson.

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 9:16 AM | What do you think? [3]
But johngalt thinks:

Key phrase: "pretending to be without a guiding philosophy." Because whether they know it or not, and whether they admit it or not, every human being has a guiding philosophy.

Posted by: johngalt at April 30, 2013 2:29 PM
But jk thinks:

No. Every human being except Bill O'Reilly has a guiding philosophy.

Posted by: jk at April 30, 2013 3:34 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Pshaw, sure he does! And it's no more self-contradictory than that of at least three-fourths of the human population. He's not the worst living example of cognitive dissonance, by a wide margin.

Posted by: johngalt at May 1, 2013 7:27 PM

April 27, 2013

Quote of the Day

Doctor Biden has joined Twitter as @DrBiden. The account is "run by Dr. Jill Biden's Office," and it tells us absorbing things about Dr. Biden -- things such as "Yesterday, Dr. Biden hosted an education roundtable" and "Yesterday, Dr. Biden honored the nation's top teachers." It retweets praise, too: "Thank you Dr. Biden for your work as an educator and as a voice for all educators in our nation," reads one tribute. If a tweet is signed "Jill," the doctoral bio informs us, this indicates that it is a "tweet from Dr. Biden." "Jill," if you're wondering, is Dr. Biden's nickname. Her formal name is "Dr." -- Charles C. W. Cooke
Hat-tip: Insty
VP Biden Posted by John Kranz at 11:22 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Jill, Julia... potato, potahto.

Posted by: johngalt at April 29, 2013 2:14 PM

April 26, 2013

Yes, But.

Walter Russell Mead:

And according to the NYT story, Max Baucus, who helped write the ACA but foresaw "a train wreck coming down," now says he's encouraged by how implementation is going.

Yahoo:
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Democratic Sen. Max Baucus, the powerful Senate Finance chairman who steered President Barack Obama's health care overhaul into law but broke with his party on gun control, has decided to retire, Democratic officials said Tuesday.

But johngalt thinks:

Whatever happened to captains going down with their ships? He was gonna go down anyway, next time he had to face MT voters.

Posted by: johngalt at April 26, 2013 8:13 PM

QOTD II

Jonah Goldberg Edition:

Last night's speech went pretty well. It was billed as being on the "future of conservatism," even though my speaker's bureau had told me it would be on Liberal Fascism. So I had to call a bit of an audible and go with my old standby of erotic interpretive dance. I shouldn't have to say it, but I left no one disappointed. -- Jonah


Callin' this a win!

Smaller Government Republicans 1, Obama Administration 0! The Hill:

On Wednesday, the White House said it was "open" to a legislative fix for air traffic controllers, even though President Obama had previously rejected greater flexibility as a fix for the sequester. In February, he argued that there would be "no smart way" to carry out the cuts.

"You don't want to have to choose between, let's see, do I close funding for the disabled kid, or the poor kid? Do I close this Navy shipyard or some other one? When you're doing things in a way that's not smart, you can't gloss over the pain and the impact it's going to have on the economy," Obama said Feb. 26.


This is still subject to the full media spin. John Harwood was on CNBC weeping to Larry that this wouldn't fix anything else in the sequester. Harwood is a good newsman as it goes, but his idea of "fix" is raise taxes and throw money at.

But we are reinstating staff just in time for my great Midwestern adventure -- with no additional revenue. This one goes in the W column.


Giants Walked the Earth

Requiescat in pace, Hoss.

Hoss Music Posted by John Kranz at 12:09 PM | What do you think? [0]

Boston in Perspective

Difficult to argue with TGreer

Had someone told me two weeks ago that a terrorist attack on a major U.S. city would wreak such devastation that its citizens would be unable to walk outside and convoys of military vehicles would be rolling down its streets I would have dismissed the story without second thought. Only a truly catastrophic attack could possibly produce such ruin and terror.

We suffered no attack of this sort. Our terror is entirely of our own making.


I'm happy to dish out atta-boys-and-girls to the first responders, but the lockdown/manhunt was over the top.

Read the whole piece. This blog's friend did missionary service in the area. He has a personal connection but is still able to put reason in its proper place.

Current Events Posted by John Kranz at 11:18 AM | What do you think? [10]
But jk thinks:

Clearly I'm right: Backpack Bans.

Posted by: jk at April 26, 2013 7:13 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

My views have evolved a little bit since I wrote that post, both from reviewing the post and talking to people I know who were around for the lockdown.

The term 'lockdown' is a bit misleading. It was not really a lock down. It was voluntary, ect. ect. and everywhere except Watertown people still drove around, visited friends, and went about their normal lives - if they were not dependent on public transport, which is 50% or mor eof the folks I know.

Watertown was different. Again, it was voluntary, but not really. Who is going to go outside when the street is filled with 9,000 soldiers going door to door? The city was under de facto house arrest. With that said, for the most part the 9,000 behaved admirably - not a shot was fired. Far from government thugs some are describing them to be.

But was all of that necessary? That was the main point I tried to communicate in my article and I still hold to it. JG actually gets to the crux of the issue:

Perhaps most relevant is the fact that American LEOs don't do this kind of stuff every day, or year, or decade. If they go off the deep end, especially for fear of hurting innocents or not getting the suspect as fast as possible, I give them a pass. Let us hope that our police never become as expert as these things as, say, Israeli police.

Had an attack like this happened in Israel, England, or India - three democracies with a long history of terrorist attacks of comparable scale to this - no cities would have been shut down, 9,000 men who not have been called up, and paramilitary vehicles (that I did not even realize the police have) would not been rolling down civilian streets. They are experienced with these attacks. They know that such a response was not proportional to the threats these men could possibly pose. When we shut down our entire lives - as well as give 24 hour 7 day news coverage to a situation no one knows anything about - aren't we playing into terrorists hands? And if this is what happens when three people die, what will happen if a more spectacular attack than this succeeds? It is not a good precedent.


P.S. Bruce Schnier wrote a piece for the Atlantic called "Keep Calm and Carry On." It is a good summary of how we should respond to these things.

Posted by: T. Greer at April 26, 2013 9:15 PM
But jk thinks:

Well said. Proportionality. I've given up on the media "Jim, you're an expert, could you engage in about ten minutes of mindless and groundless speculation while we wait for facts?" But we should expect it from what the Bostonians call Lawr Enforcement.

The Schneier piece is good. If X then the terrorists win has become clichéd -- but only because it contains much truth.

How well this attack succeeds depends much less on what happened in Boston than by our reactions in the coming weeks and months. Terrorism isn't primarily a crime against people or property. It's a crime against our minds, using the deaths of innocents and destruction of property as accomplices. When we react from fear, when we change our laws and policies to make our country less open, the terrorists succeed, even if their attacks fail. But when we refuse to be terrorized, when we're indomitable in the face of terror, the terrorists fail, even if their attacks succeed.

Posted by: jk at April 27, 2013 11:19 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Coming back around for, mostly, a kumbaya. The most frightening aspect of the manhunt seems to be the militarism of it. Humvees with gun turrets on the roof? In Boston? For who? For what? I'll cut to the chase and declare it's Bush's fault. He should have vetoed the "Department of Homeland Security" and its new multi-billion dollar budget that has to be spent on something to "make Americans safe." Armored vehicles were necessary because you can only stockpile so much ammunition before there's none left on the market (as we're now experiencing) and they were almost forced to buy vehicles they don't need. What else, not spend it all? That's crazy talk in bureaucratic circles.

For Boston and every American city it should be police, yes - DHS, no. Send DHS to the borders if you must. Carry on.

Posted by: johngalt at April 29, 2013 2:31 PM
But jk thinks:

Kumbaya.

Posted by: jk at April 29, 2013 6:43 PM
But johngalt thinks:

An update on the "it's Bush's fault" angle:

Other questionable spending targeted in the report includes the small town of Keene, N.H. — population 23,000 — buying an armored vehicle to patrol its pumpkin festival.

I also learned how many "multi-billion dollars" are in the DHS Budget (35) and in the grants to local governments for "security initiatives" (7.1.) THAT'S A LOTTA AMMUNITION! (And armored vehicles, and sno-cone machines...)

Note: I didn't go looking for this info, I just stumbled upon it while clicking through for official federal government sanction of private efforts to prepare for the "Zombie Apocalypse." You see, "DHS Spent Money on Zombie Simulation."

Posted by: johngalt at April 29, 2013 7:29 PM

Got Your 90% Here

The big Anti-NRA march is mobilized! The groundswell -- demanding government solutions to gun violence -- is , well...

Participating organizations include Public Campaign, Occupy the NRA, CREDO, Every Child Matters, Moveon, United For Change, USA, New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, The Other 98%, and We Act Radio.

As Buzzfeed's Evan McMorris-Santoro noted earlier this morning, the event featured the debut of a new anti-NRA poster created by Shepard Fairey -- the designer of the famous Obama 'Hope' poster.

A generous estimation of the crowd size would have been about 100 people, including members of the media.

One of the five "sad" pictures:

anti-nra.jpg

Gun Rights Posted by John Kranz at 10:38 AM | What do you think? [0]

Quote of the Day

This week something changed. George W. Bush is back, for the unveiling of his presidential library. His numbers are dramatically up. You know why? Because he's the farthest thing from Barack Obama. -- "Our Margaret"
Hat-tip: blog friend Terri
President Bush Posted by John Kranz at 10:10 AM | What do you think? [0]

April 25, 2013

Quote of the Day

In fact, CNN's Candy Crowley confronted LaHood two months ago on this very point. "Budgets go up and down," was LaHood's weak response, but he's only half right. In Washington, they only go up. -- Edward Morrissey LaHood and Obama to America: Go Fly A Kite

"Assault Rifle" Intimidation

Br'er JK mentioned "a new Martial State." This was the Boston P.D. searching for the "little brother bomber" suspect. Some are suggesting a 4th Amendment infringement. I'm still looking.


Ten Seconds or All Night?

I'm a big fan of Judge Napolitano and his civil libertarian principles, especially since reading his book 'Constitutional Chaos: What Happens When the Government Breaks its Own Laws.' But I occasionally disagree with things he says. Like this:

Napolitano explained that the public safety exception was only supposed to be 10 seconds, according to the Supreme Court, but was expanded to 48 hours by Attorney General Eric Holder "on his own."

Ten seconds? The ten second interrogation is the one where Jack Bauer tells the suspect, "Tell me where the dirty bomb is planted or I'll break your fingers, one each second, until you do." How long can a citizen be arrested and detained without charges being filed? Isn't it 48 hours? So if the FBI doesn't want a judge involved after just 19 hours, don't file the charges! On this part I agree with the judge. As for the "public safety exception" however, I'm with Attorney General Eric "Richard" Holder.

But jk thinks:

I think the Miranda warnings are rendered moot by the real question of "are civilian court proceedings appropriate?"

The only real problem is admissibility of evidence discovered outside of Miranda warnings, and that was not significant here.

I am remarkably squishy on this for an opinionated guy. I'm leaning towards agreeing with AG Holder (a ThreeSources favorite, it seems!) that these are American Citizens and entitled to full protections of civil courts.

Had they declared him an enemy combatant, however, I would not have joined my buddies at Reason in declaring a new Martial State.

Other ThreeSourcers feel more strongly?

Posted by: jk at April 25, 2013 3:48 PM
But Terri thinks:

I'm with you. He's a citizen. Treat him like one.

Posted by: Terri at April 26, 2013 8:10 AM

April 24, 2013

Tooltip of the Day

Insty links to a poll: Less than half of Americans upset about Senate gun vote

But a new Washington Post/Pew Research Center poll suggests that post-vote attitudes stray from the wide support for the background check measure before the debate, which hovered around 85 percent in multiple polls.

A plurality of Americans -- 47 percent -- say they are either "angry" or "disappointed" with the Senate's action on gun legislation, far different from the amount of people who strongly approved the proposal before the vote. Meanwhile, 39 percent say they are "relieved" or "happy" about the vote.


Interesting, but I was captivated by the accompanying photo: a big bucket of guns. No doubt it disturbs those who are unnerved by seeing guns, but it probably disturbs gun lovers more by their maltreatment.

But what instituted a new category was the img title tag: if you hold your mouse over the photo of 100 guns, it says "Guns." I dig understatement in media.

Gun Rights Posted by John Kranz at 11:32 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

The "everyone wants more gun control" poll language seems to have tested the favorability of legislation to "expand background checks" which is a lot like "make life fairer." Who wouldn't support that? The 10% of responses in the "NO" category had either read the actual bill being discussed or are insufferable curmudgeons. A poll showing 47% (there's that number again) being "angry or disappointed" that the Senate didn't vote to "make life fairer" is more damning of that 47% than of congress.

Posted by: johngalt at April 24, 2013 3:21 PM

Quote of the Day

*(I use phrases like "the Tucson shooter" or "Little Brother Bomber" because I suspect some who commit massacres do so to ensure the world will remember their name. Thus, I try to avoid using their names. Someone said shortly after the marathon bombing, "the perpetrators' names should be forgotten by history." And my brother noted, "The spelling will pretty much take care of that.") -- Jim Geraghty
Current Events Posted by John Kranz at 11:19 AM | What do you think? [0]

April 23, 2013

Quote of the Day

GOOD ADVICE, from Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon:"Arguing with anonymous strangers on the Internet is a sucker's game because they almost always turn out to be -- or to be indistinguishable from -- self-righteous sixteen-year-olds possessing infinite amounts of free time." -- Glenn Reynolds
But what about the people I work with?
Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 6:37 PM | What do you think? [0]

Meanwhile in Buffy News

I am in physical pain waiting to see this. The UK Trailer is out and this doesn't help:

UPDATE: Warning! This embed will not shut up after showing the trailer, you have to hit pause/stop. See how long we can stand it...

Art Posted by John Kranz at 10:53 AM | What do you think? [5]
But Terri thinks:

Did you see this? Amazing.

"The film was shot in 12 days at locations in and around Whedon's Santa Monica home."

Posted by: Terri at April 23, 2013 12:20 PM
But johngalt thinks:

On your first tease I said nothing, as I fully embrace my knuckle-draggedness and find nothing appealing in 'Dollhouse comes to the Shakespeare Festival.' But I do find something redeeming in the provided clip: The "RIPD" trailer that follows it! (Yup, I do like both kinds uh music...) To be fair though, RIPD seems to be 'Tombstone does MIB.' Is anything original anymore?

Posted by: johngalt at April 24, 2013 5:42 PM
But jk thinks:

De Gustibus... RIPD looks fun but I can wait for video on that. I'm toying with the idea of flying to Seattle for a screening of Much Ado.

I really have a soft spot for Shakespeare done in modern settings. They did that Scottish Play in 2006 set as Melbourne drug lords. I recommend that highly.

To see Joss do it with Fred & Wesley as Beatrice and Bendick...

Posted by: jk at April 24, 2013 6:04 PM
But dagny thinks:

Note to knuckle-draggers regarding Shakespeare: You might prefer it in movie format to what you were forced to read in High School. Iambic pentameter is hard to read because you want to read each line separately rather than read each sentence. When an actor does it well, it's terrific stuff. I am particularly fond of Kenneth Branagh's interpretations, Much Ado about Nothing, Henry V, and I prefer his Hamlet to Mel Gibson's. Then there is always West Side Story.

Posted by: dagny at April 25, 2013 5:30 PM
But jk thinks:

Knuckledraggers plural? (Now that was just plain mean...)

If you have not seen the 2006 Macbeth I highly recommend it -- one of my favorite movies evah. I know you're not into gore but it is spectacular imagery.

There's also a decent 90's vintage Much Ado with Emma Thompson, Denzel Washington and a very very young Robert Sean Leonard (Wilson on House, MD). We watch that as a warm up.

Posted by: jk at April 25, 2013 5:59 PM

April 22, 2013

Defiance

Don't know how many enjoyed "Defiance" on SyFy last week. I will be watching again tonight.

If nothing else, the opening scene of the Pilot resurrected this song. Well done!

Dang, no embed! Johnny Cash & June Carter Jackson.

Television Posted by John Kranz at 7:06 PM | What do you think? [1]
But Alexc thinks:

I watch the pilot last night, based on your recommendation. It was great. Looking forward to catching up on last night's episode on the DVR.

Posted by: Alexc at April 23, 2013 12:06 PM

Maher: "That's liberal bullshit right there"

Yes, that Maher. Bill. Just when you thought it was safe to dismiss him as a completely nonsensical political thespian he calls out a defender of Islam for ignoring the facts of the world we all now live in.

Click through for video and excerpt.


Quote of the Day

Happy Earth Day!

Which brings us to the Book of Modern Environmentalism, Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, a deeply disingenuous propaganda exercise that nonetheless transformed pesticides -- DDT in particular -- and economic growth into political poison. How many mere humans, most of whom existed in grinding third-world poverty, have died because of it? The typical estimate is one of Stalin's statistics: at least 50 million.

Well, omelets require broken eggs. As that great philosopher Dogbert has noted: "You can't save the Earth unless youre willing to make other people sacrifice." -- Benjamin Zycher

Environment Posted by John Kranz at 1:04 PM | What do you think? [0]

Happy Kill-and-compost-your-girlfriend-day!

How did I not know this? Is this for real?

But the charismatic spokesman [Ira Einhorn] who helped bring awareness to environmental issues and preached against the Vietnam War -- and any violence- had a secret dark side.

That is dark side as in "Seven years later, police raided his closet and found the 'composted' body of his ex-girlfriend inside a trunk." Not a penchant for heavy metal music or something.

Environment Posted by John Kranz at 11:40 AM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

Wouldn't we all have expected the NYT to carry this on page 1? But I never read it either. Strange.

Posted by: johngalt at April 22, 2013 1:59 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Tweetstorm of the day.

Ophthalmologists from across the country walked out of a session on Obamacare Sunday during a national conference being held in San Francisco. Twitchy reported ophthalmologist Dr. Kris Held sent live-tweets from the "Government relations" session on "implementing and complying with Obamacare," saying virtually all the physicians walked out of the speech in disgust.
Click, scroll, repeat. Follow @Kris Held,MD
Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 10:37 AM | What do you think? [0]

April 21, 2013

Back to Mah Roots

A Music Review Corner.

I mentioned picking up the newest Eric Clapton album, Old Sock. I have dug it for a week. I doubt it will become a favorite, but it's pretty good. Looking at musicians I have followed for 40 years, all those who did not die in a plane crash, motorcycle, or asphyxiate of their own vomit, have kept a certain style even as they explored different idioms.

The reason I tripped on the Clapton release was that Amazon emailed me about a new Willie Nelson disc: Let's Face the Music and Dance. Willie was also a huge influence on me as a singer and songwriter (thankfully, less as pharmacist or tax accountant).

I never thought too much of his super-simple guitar playing except that he had a distinctive, recognizable, and melodic style. Players are always drawn to flashier instrumentalists. But I am taking it all back.

Willie has put out about 90,471 albums. "Red Headed Stranger" captivated me as a young man with three chord country tunes and sparse arrangements. Learning he wrote more sophisticated tunes like "Crazy" initially surprised me but it should not. The last few decades have included schooners full of benefit, duet, special project and recollection works.

On "Let's Face..." he gets into the American Songbook that I love. But he also seems to say "Screw it, I'm Willie Nelson, and I want to do a guitar record." His playing is still distinctive, recognizable, and melodic. You'd have to been breathing in the studio after he and Snoop Dogg recorded their duet (on the "Heroes" album) to call it flashy.

But you cannot dismiss it as unsophisticated. I'm looking closely at it and am enthralled. He's a troubadour who happens to be a pretty damn good guitar player. I think I have a new old hero.


Music Posted by John Kranz at 10:48 AM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

I'm not an expert on the music of Phish, but would you imagine if popularity were based on musical talent that Willie would have the nomad following instead of them? (I chose Phish as an example based on the "Dead-like" devotion of their fans, not any perceived similarity in smoking materials.)

Posted by: johngalt at April 22, 2013 1:43 PM
But jk thinks:

Willie's done pretty well for a dope-smokin', tax-evadin' longhair with an old beat up gut string guitar.

But pop music is certainly capricious. I think jazz is far more defensible as a meritocracy.

Posted by: jk at April 22, 2013 5:45 PM

April 19, 2013

All Hail Taranto!

Not even for a joke this time. Hail James for a serious look at the 90% [Heart] Background-checks versus the failure of the Manchin-Toomey Amendment:

Take the "1%." This refers not to an identifiable group of people but to a statistical artifact: the 99th percentile of income distribution in any given year. Some people, like George Soros (long may he live), can assume they have a permanent place in the 1%. Others fall in briefly because of a sudden windfall or the one-time sale of an asset. Simple probability dictates that most people will be in the 98th percentile or below their whole lives, but that isn't part of their identity. Not everyone resents great wealth; many admire or aspire to it. And even those who identify as "the 99%" have an ideological kinship with superrich lefties like Soros.

"The 90%" who supposedly support gun background checks is an even more evanescent construct--the result of a poll, which presumably questioned a few hundred randomly called people, few of whom likely had thought deeply about the subject. And while there are certainly Americans who define their identity in part by their aversion to guns, many others define it by their affinity for them. We'd guess that overall the latter outnumber the former, and we're fairly certain the latter tend to be more intense with respect to this aspect of their identity.

The senators who voted down the gun-control measures did so on the basis of a deeper understanding of the constituents they represent than can be conveyed by a single number from an opinion poll. They're professional politicians, and they managed to get elected, in most cases from states Barack Obama never managed to carry. If they misjudged popular opinion, they can be voted out of office. It's an example of representative democracy at its best.

Gun Rights Posted by John Kranz at 5:55 PM | What do you think? [0]

Open for Business!

"This is the new New York State."

Welcome to a place with a whole new approach to business development. Home to the fastest-growing tech sector in the U.S., one of the best-educated workforces in America, over $1 billion in incentives and tax breaks, and the lowest middle-class tax rate in over half a century. This is an economy that launched over 50,000 new businesses last year alone. This is New York State.

http://thenewny.com/Stories/BusinessSuccesses.aspx
[No embed available]

Because "everybody knows" that higher tax rates don't discourage business development and job flight.

The linked commercial isn't the one I was looking for, which I saw on live TV last night. That one claimed not one, but two billion dollars of "incentives and tax breaks" plus "tax-free zones" and "the lowest taxes in over 60 years."

Here's an idea. I dunno, maybe I'm crazy. How about making the whole state an "economic development zone?" How about all of America? You know, to end the recession. Create jobs. Stuff like that.

Art Laffer, please call your office.

Laffer Curve Posted by JohnGalt at 12:16 PM | What do you think? [0]

Meanwhile in Buffy News...

The Firefly 10th Anniversary Panel:

HT: Blog friend SugarChuck via email.

Television Posted by John Kranz at 9:49 AM | What do you think? [1]
But Terri thinks:

Shiny! Thanks for sharing, I hadn't seen this.

Posted by: Terri at April 19, 2013 3:48 PM

April 18, 2013

Tweet of the Day

tweet130418.gif

Gun Rights Posted by John Kranz at 10:46 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Shameful!

Posted by: johngalt at April 18, 2013 11:52 AM

Democrats Against ObamaCare

First the Unions jump ship. Now, "a key architect" dares to caution against the impending "train wreck."

[Sen. Max] Baucus, the chairman of the chamber's powerful Finance Committee and a key architect of the healthcare reform law, said he fears people do not understand how the law will work.

"I just see a huge train wreck coming down," he told Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius at a Wednesday hearing. "You and I have discussed this many times, and I don't see any results yet."

Baucus pressed Sebelius for details about how the Health Department will explain the law and raise awareness of its provisions, which are supposed to take effect in just a matter of months.

"I'm very concerned that not enough is being done so far -- very concerned," Baucus said.


This underreported story is a key element of Michal Cannon's "50 Vetoes" [Review Corner]: the law is buckling under its own bureaucratic weight, and implementing the less popular and more difficult portions affords many opportunities to trim it back or clamor for its repeal.

UPDATE: Karl "Darth" Rove is on the case in today's WSJ Ed Page:

In congressional testimony last week, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius blamed Republican governors for her department's failure to create a "model exchange" where consumers could shop for health-insurance coverage in states that don't set up their own exchange.

Nice try, but GOP governors aren't the problem. Team Obama's tendency to blame someone else for its shortcomings is tiresome. The Affordable Care Act requires HHS to operate exchanges in states that won't operate their own. Since the act became law in March 2010, it has been abundantly clear that the agency would have to deploy a model exchange. It is Ms. Sebelius's fault there isn't one.

There is more to this failure. Even exchanges organized by Democratic and Republican governors may not be functioning by the health-law's Oct. 1 deadline, because HHS has been slow with guidance and approvals.


Almost as if the whole thing was not completely thought through...

UPDATE: Jim Geraghty's Morning Jolt includes this pic:

obamacare_tommy.jpg

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 9:45 AM | What do you think? [0]

April 17, 2013

Help out an Elite White Male!

Professor Mankiw's eldest son has an online survey for his science project -- and gets Dad to bleg for help.

It is kind of long but very interesting -- personal, sometimes almost random questions about what you like and value -- many will torture the Randians.

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 7:42 PM | What do you think? [0]

Quarter Soldiers in Your Dorm Room?

It strikes, reading Judith Grossman's Kafkaesque A Mother, a Feminist, Aghast, that to attend college is to completely suborn one's birth rights as protected in the Constitution. First Amendment rights to free speech and religion evaporated years ago -- I don't think many schools even pretend. Your concealed-carry permit is likely not valid on campus.

Due process? Trial by Jury? Not so much:

Until a month ago, I would have expressed unqualified support for Title IX and for the Violence Against Women Act.

But that was before my son, a senior at a small liberal-arts college in New England, was charged--by an ex-girlfriend--with alleged acts of "nonconsensual sex" that supposedly occurred during the course of their relationship a few years earlier.
[...]
My son was given written notice of the charges against him, in the form of a letter from the campus Title IX officer. But instead of affording him the right to be fully informed, the separately listed allegations were a barrage of vague statements, rendering any defense virtually impossible. The letter lacked even the most basic information about the acts alleged to have happened years before. Nor were the allegations supported by any evidence other than the word of the ex-girlfriend.

The hearing itself was a two-hour ordeal of unabated grilling by the school's committee, during which, my son later reported, he was expressly denied his request to be represented by counsel or even to have an attorney outside the door of the room. The questioning, he said, ran far afield even from the vaguely stated allegations contained in the so-called notice. Questions from the distant past, even about unrelated matters, were flung at him with no opportunity for him to give thoughtful answers.


I've read several such stories. Though they are horrible, one hopes they are somewhat rare -- that avoiding traditional college makes no more sense than avoiding plane travel for fear of terrorism.

But I am less sanguine. Not by Ms. Grossman's story, but by the total and complete loss of liberty on campus for four years. Why would I advise a young nephew to sign up for that? I would not stand in somebody's way if he seeks to fulfill a dream of studying French Literature in an irenic setting. But grown-ups are expected to push the value of matriculation. And this sour-grapes drop out is ready to tell young men that his example is not anomalous.

Education Posted by John Kranz at 5:51 PM | What do you think? [0]

Bipartisan Defeat

Didn't they listen to the President?

The Senate delivered a devastating blow to President Obama's agenda to regulate guns Wednesday by defeating a bipartisan proposal to expand background checks.

It failed by a vote of 54 to 46, with five Democrats voting against it. Only 4 Republicans supported it.

Democratic Sens. Mark Pryor (Ark.), Max Baucus (Mont.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Mark Begich (Alaska) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) voted against it. Reid supported the measure but voted against it to preserve his ability to bring the measure up again.

GOP Sens. John McCain (Ariz.), Susan Collins (Maine), Pat Toomey (Pa.) and Mark Kirk (Ill.) voted yes.


Pardon the flippancy, but this is a win.

UPDATE: Changed inappropriate headline

Gun Rights Posted by John Kranz at 5:17 PM | What do you think? [0]

Otequay of the Ayday

First Colorado's first truly Progressive governor, now this:

"I am therefore calling for repeal or complete reform of the Affordable Care Act to protect our employers, our industry, and our most important asset: our members and their families."

- United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers International President Kinsey M. Robinson

It's almost as if things that can't go on forever, won't.


Quote of the Day

yankees_redsox.jpg

If the Yankees and Red Sox can stand together as one, perhaps someday there will be peace in the Middle East. Yankee Stadium Tuesday: -- Jim Geraghty


April 16, 2013

A Threat

Good news -- looks like the Manchin-Toomey bill does not have the votes. David Lawder and John Whitesides

"We haven't voted on it because supporters don't have the votes to pass it," said Republican Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa, an opponent of the proposal, who argued that it would not have stopped the massacre of 20 school children and six adults in Newtown, Connecticut, in December, or other mass shootings.

a) Can I give a rare ThreeSources "Yaay Chuck Grassley!"

b) I enjoyed this paragraph, presented un-ironically in the Reuters-Yahoo piece:

The NRA has warned lawmakers it will include their vote in the ratings it compiles on them and sends to its 4 million members. Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a gun-control group backed by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, has also said it will rate members of Congress based on their votes.

We've agonized at the NRA's endorsement of Leader Reid and other Democrats. But the NRA retains a powerful tool in rating Red-State Democrats. It's a big deal for an incumbent in Arkansas or North Dakota to get or not get a favorable NRA rating.

I'm amused because I cannot believe that is true for anyone anywhere with "Mayors Against Illegal Guns." Senator Feinstein is not going to not get that endorsement, nor would she be imperiled without. Mutatis Mutandis for Sen. Barrasso in Wyoming.


Gun Rights Posted by John Kranz at 4:06 PM | What do you think? [7]
But johngalt thinks:

Does the title apply to MAIG?

Posted by: johngalt at April 16, 2013 5:23 PM
But jk thinks:

I am hoping that that is the reason the filibuster fizzled -- to force the Ds into a tough vote instead of railing against intransigent Rs. Are we that smart? Hard to believe, but it was laid out on the WSJ Ed Page (they could have staff read it to them slowly...)

Posted by: jk at April 16, 2013 7:26 PM
But johngalt thinks:

UPDATE "If this happens, they'll blame the NRA, but the truth will be they coudn't sell the bill to roughly 10% of their own membership.
"

Posted by: johngalt at April 17, 2013 11:49 AM
But AndyN thinks:

Does anybody know enough about the NRAs scoring to know whether they just look at the vote? If Reid voted against this crap sandwich, is that an unqualified plus with the NRA, or do they look at his reason for voting against it (so that he can bring the bill back up in the future) and lower his grade for reserving the right to try to hose us in the future?

Posted by: AndyN at April 17, 2013 7:36 PM
But jk thinks:

Awesome question, AndyN. There are so many parlimentary concerns and competing issues, it seems you'd need a PhD in Game Theory and a few Crays to get it right -- one suspects it's an Excel spreadsheet on a 386.

Posted by: jk at April 17, 2013 7:56 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Just as interesting is the fact that there were 59 'yes' votes when the whips were at work but when it was clear the bill would fail, four others joined Reid in switching their votes. Gotta love those who stand, unwaveringly, for their principles!

Posted by: johngalt at April 18, 2013 11:58 AM

CO Governor Lamm's Mea Culpa

Two weeks ago a former establishment Republican said:

When the latest bubble pops, there will be nothing to stop the collapse.

The reward for his candor was a furious effort to discredit him.

This week a former establishment Democrat - a self-described "former Keynesian" said:

My generation of politicians has relentlessly and quietly encumbered the nation's future and pre-spent our children's earnings. We have also, tragically, locked in an economic crisis in our future.

Boy is he gonna get pounded.


I'd love to see this

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 2:15 PM | What do you think? [0]

Curious George Approves!

Locavorism is big in my neck of the woods. I cannot imagine anything more stoopid. Locavores (Loco-vores?) have a religious fervor that engenders extreme caution, but were I not afraid for my health and safety, I would loudly proclaim that I am a Ricardovore! We use the miracle of free trade to enjoy a diverse, safe, and copious selection of foods from appreciative vendors all around the world.

Professor Mark J. Perry shares the astonishment we all should feel at buying "tropical fruit from a faraway place at my local grocery for a price (24 cents) that is almost free. At the average hourly wage today of $20.03 (33 cents per minute), the average American earns enough income in about 45 seconds to purchase a banana that has traveled more than 2,000 miles to their local grocery store."

He and Jeff Jacoby even pen a small homage to Leonard Read:

I, Banana, am a complex combination of miracles: First, I'm a plant that is a miracle of nature -- I'm actually the world's largest herb. And then I'm part of a human miracle -- the kaleidoscopic energy and productivity of the free market. That human miracle is the complex, coordinated efforts of thousands of people involved who cooperate to bring millions of bananas from places like the Andes Mountains in Colombia to local grocery stores all over America and Europe -- areas with climates that are completely hostile to growing the world's most popular fruit. That human miracle is the configuration of the creative energies of thousands of people who speak different languages and have diverse ancestries -- but collaborate spontaneously on my behalf to deliver fresh, tropical fruit like bananas (and also mangoes and pineapples) to my local grocery store, which happens miraculously in the absence of any human master-minding or any banana or fruit czar! Man can no more direct these millions of know-hows to bring bananas to the local grocery stores in America and Europe than he can put molecules together to create a banana plant.

Awesome on stilts!


April 15, 2013

Uncle!

In "The President's Latest Bad Idea," Professor Mankiw correctly understands and describes the retirement savings grab in the President's new budget. Between the sheer numbers of my heroes in the opposition phalanx, and N-Greg (that's his hip-hop name) N-Greg's wise words, I must change sides.

A sizable body of work in public finance suggests that consumption taxes are preferable to income taxes. Completely replacing our tax system with a better one is, however, hard. Retirement accounts, such as IRAs and 401k plans, are one way our tax code has gradually evolved from an income tax toward a consumption tax. The use of these accounts should be encouraged, not discouraged.

As for my previous ambivalence: I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now...

But johngalt thinks:

In that case, we are Teaching our children well.

Posted by: johngalt at April 15, 2013 7:25 PM

QOTD II

Just make sure you're moving in the right direction. Interest-free loans are for children, siblings, and the occasional down-on-his-luck drifter who just needs someone to believe in him again, not for the U.S. government. There are crazy Asian central banks that are willing to lend to our government at negative real interest rates. You should let them be the ones to give Uncle Sam free money. Keep your own money in the bank, where it belongs.
Happy Tax Day advice from Megan McArdle suggesting that I adjust my withholding to stop giving Uncle Sugar a large loan. I am quite aware of the problem -- and no, Megan, I don't just do it so I have a big check to blow on a new TV. I get a huge refund every year of late. But am I supposed to make up kids I do not have to increase exemptions?

UPDATE: My blog brother laughs at deflation, and yet: gold_apr2013.gif

But dagny thinks:

Errr actually nope. You are supposed to make up income and deduction amounts instead.

If you review line H of the current W-4 form, in the parentheses it says, "If you plan to itemize or claim adjustments to income and want to reduce your withholding, see the Deductions and Adjustments Worksheet on page 2."

Then the worksheet tells you how to make up income and deduction numbers to come up with however many exemptions you want (or they recommend) based on your income and not how many people are in your household.

What this means in reality is that the number of exemptions you claim has no real relationship to the number of human beings in your household. Feel free to claim as many as required to prevent interest free loans to the government.

And this isn't even a stretch of the rules. Call me jk and I can help with this if you want.

Posted by: dagny at April 16, 2013 12:39 PM
But johngalt thinks:

The short and the long of it.

Posted by: johngalt at April 16, 2013 1:16 PM
But jk thinks:

I was hoping you'd answer that -- kind of an implicit "bleg." Thanks, I will see when I can change and grab a form. I will holler if it does not make sense.

Then again, those of us who worry about "Stealth Deflation" profit from avoiding real negative interest rates...

Posted by: jk at April 16, 2013 1:18 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Talk about paper-thin metallic headwear! Deflation? BWAAA-hahahahaha!

Posted by: johngalt at April 16, 2013 3:05 PM
But jk thinks:

See update to post for graphic.

Posted by: jk at April 16, 2013 3:25 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Methinks you're reading the wrong cause for this move out of gold. It only means that ammunition supplies have rebounded from a deep bottom.

Posted by: johngalt at April 16, 2013 5:19 PM

Meanwhile, in Buffy News...

My favorite Buffy trivia q: "Who is the first vampire seen in Buffy?"

Didn't get a one of you did I? It's Darla, in an indirection that sets up the next seven seasons.

The lovely and talented Julie Benz, who played Darla, is in a new show on SyFy, debuting tonight:

Can't we all just get along?

That question is raised by Syfy's Defiance, premiering Monday at 9/8c and presenting a 2046 Earth that has received an extreme makeover via terraforming and the colonization by seven alien races (collectively dubbed Votans).
[...]
Julie Benz (Dexter, Angel) plays Amanda Rosewater, the newly inducted mayor of Defiance who strives to keep order in the wake of an interspecies murder and the arrival of a dashing stranger, Joshua Nolan (True Blood's Grant Bowler), and his wild-child ward Irisa (Whitechapel's Stephanie Leonidas) -- all while managing a clash of classes between mining magnate Rafe McCawley (Dances With Wolves' Graham Greene) and the powerful Datak.

Set DVRs to stun...

Television Posted by John Kranz at 12:41 PM | What do you think? [6]
But johngalt thinks:

Sounds like it might be groovy to us but, "true Blood's Grant Bowler?" "True Blood?" Who is John Galt?

Posted by: johngalt at April 15, 2013 12:52 PM
But jk thinks:

Hahahahahahahahahahahaha! Totally missed that!

Posted by: jk at April 15, 2013 12:56 PM
But jk thinks:

I thought ol' Hank did pretty well. They clearly envision him as a Captain Mal kind of semi-hero. I don't know that I am hooked, but it had its moments -- I will certainly watch a few.

Posted by: jk at April 16, 2013 9:22 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Got it recorded and watched until they arrived in St. Louie. Looking forward to watching more. I'm interested to see where they take the father/daughter relationship. She's a spitfire, eh?

Posted by: johngalt at April 16, 2013 1:18 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Enjoyed watching the rest of the show. The plot themes are predictable and time-tested but I didn't mind that I could predict what would come next, because it was fun to find out how. The characters are likeable and there are some good lines.

"I forgot where they put the off switch on the 2037 models."

and,

"And you let them have weapons?"

Also got a kick out of the brothel name - "NeedWant"

For those who missed it you c'n stream it live on the net here. (Prob'ly willing to give the show away free if they can sell you the video game. That and the commercials.)

Enjoyed the "Shooting the Shtako" behind the scenes clip. To be fair though, I think Firefly deserves a lot of credit for breaking the ground they discuss.

Posted by: johngalt at April 20, 2013 11:02 AM
But jk thinks:

I didn't want to potentially start the thread in a negative direction. I'd say it's pretty much stolen from Firefly. I love hearing Joss Whedon commentary on the Buffy Episodes and he is upfront how much he lifts from movies and shows., so it seems fair.

The SyFy network deserves some props for keeping the flame of fiction alive in teh dark ages of crappy television. Has my blog brother seen "Eureka?" Fantastic show.

Posted by: jk at April 21, 2013 10:54 AM

Quote of the Day

This illustrates the left's problem on guns. It can only succeed in advancing their agenda on guns so long as the bloody shirt of Newtown is being waved. When the tears subside and we catch our collective breath, allowing us to look clearly at what the president has proposed, what more and more Americans are seeing is that proposals about so-called assault weapons and ammunition magazines would do little or nothing to lower the volume of gun violence, let alone avoid another Newtown.

The point about the exploitation of the families of the victims in the gun debate is not that there is anything wrong about their statements, even if they were to inject themselves in an even more direct manner in the controversy. Rather, it is that ours is a system of laws not individuals or sentiment. The checks and balances inherent in the system serve to slow down the pace of legislation, which is something that, as Dowd writes, frustrates the Newtown families. But the genius of our constitutional system is that it is designed specifically to mute the voice of the crowd, especially when it is driven by by emotion such as that which liberals and the Newtown families are seeking to harness. -- Jonathan Tobin (HT: Jim Geraghty)

Gun Rights Posted by John Kranz at 10:50 AM | What do you think? [4]
But johngalt thinks:

If yet more laws infringing private arms ownership and use could bring tragedy victims back to life there would be a reason to consider their enactment. Alas, they cannot do that, nor even protect new tragedy victims in the future. What can do so, however, is armed good guys - and advertising that fact to the cowards who perpetrate these horrors. [A few words from the "obvious truths of life" department.]

Posted by: johngalt at April 15, 2013 12:43 PM
But jk thinks:

My Facebook thread that failed so miserably last week was on this topic. After a handful of rational and even-tempered volleys establishing that at least one NRA member does not enjoy dead children, my suggestion that "good guys with guns" is the answer to "bad guys with guns" was considered so outside the bounds of thought as to terminate the conversation.

Posted by: jk at April 15, 2013 12:51 PM
But jk thinks:

Jacob Sullum's post on the same topic uses less reasoned tones and vied for QOTD honors.

Contrary to Obama's implication, the question is not whether preventing the murder of children is desirable but whether the policies he supports would do that. Instead of explaining, for example, how background checks can thwart mass killers, who typically do not have disqualifying criminal or psychiatric records and who in any event can use guns purchased by someone else (as Lanza did), Obama simply assumes his plan will work and insinuates that anyone who opposes it does not care about children as much as he does.

Even as he claims to be troubled by a lack of empathy in the gun control debate, Obama refuses to entertain the possibility that his opponents, like him, are doing what they believe to be right. On Monday he described them as "powerful interests that are very good at confusing the subject, that are good at amplifying conflict and extremes, that are good at drowning out rational debate, good at ginning up irrational fears."

Posted by: jk at April 15, 2013 12:55 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I read that last quote somewhere too. Rich! I wonder if the president practiced that line while looking in a mirror.

We should also consider whether your FB friends are right, and we are wrong. Perhaps it's the blue shirt and shiny badge that disarms criminals? But then, if those are so powerful they'll want background checks for them too.

Posted by: johngalt at April 15, 2013 2:57 PM

April 14, 2013

Review Corner

I'm slacking on you yet again. This week's "book" is a white paper. You can download "50 Vetoes: How States Can Stop the Obama Health Care Law" from Cato, or you can get it all pretty and packaged up for Kindle® from Amazon for $3.49. Spendthrift that I am, I dropped the $3,49 like it was nothin' and enjoyed it on the couch.

A few pages in and one asks "I wonder if this ObamaCare® was really a good idea?" Cannon enumerates the flaws and consequences -- intended and unintended -- of what he dutifully calls PPACA. Because the law diverted some control to the states to get the famous 60 votes, and because the Feds are woefully behind and outclassed in its implementation, Cannon says that the States have a real opportunity to upend the law -- and that they should.

Collectively, states have the power to block that spending and to reduce federal deficits by $ 1.7 trillion by refusing to implement Exchanges and the Medicaid expansion. So far, 34 states, accounting for roughly two-thirds of the U.S. population, have refused to establish an Exchange, while 16 have refused to implement the Medicaid expansion. Those states have reduced federal deficits by hundreds of billions of dollars.

Cannon destroys the concept that the state exchanges are actually autonomous examples of Federalism:
The Act thus empowers the secretary to require state-funded Exchanges to operate exactly as she would operate a federal Exchange. One example is the Act's "navigator" program, in which groups that help consumers select an insurance plan-- a role traditionally performed by insurance agents and brokers-- receive funding from Exchanges. Some states have enacted laws requiring navigators to obtain a license. Yet the secretary has prohibited states from requiring navigators to be licensed agents or brokers, or to carry insurance typically carried by agents and brokers. She has also prohibited navigators from receiving any compensation from health plans either inside or outside an Exchange. If the secretary later decides to prohibit insurance agents and brokers from serving as navigators, or likewise to require state-funded Exchanges to exclude certain health plans, state-funded Exchanges will have to obey. What the secretary declares bound in Washington shall be bound in the states; what she declares loosed in Washington shall be loosed in the states.

Even states expecting to proceed with creating exchanges find that the Feds have no plan, no documentation -- not even a Web site.
"We have gotten little bits of information here and there about how the federal exchange might operate," said Linda J. Sheppard, a senior official at the Kansas Insurance Department. "I was on a panel at Rockhurst University here, and I was asked, 'Where is the Web site for the federal exchange?' I chuckled. There really isnt any federal exchange Web site."
[...]
Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of HHS, has repeatedly emphasized that "states have to meet a standard of transparency and accountability." A state exchange must have "a clearly defined governing board, and the board must hold regular public meetings. . . . By contrast, federal officials have disclosed little about their plans, are vague about the financing of the federal exchanges and have refused even to divulge the "request for proposals" circulated to advertising agencies.

I know. The ThreeSources community is shocked at government opacity, arrogance, and incompetence. Most of the arguments will be familiar to ThreeSourcers: "The Act's 'community rating' price controls force insurers to sell coverage to the sick far below cost, and to the healthy far above cost. In that environment, an insurer that provides the highest-quality care to the sick will attract all the sickest patients, and will quickly go bankrupt, as healthy people avoid that carrier's higher premiums. In this way, the Act's community-rating price controls literally punish health plans that provide the most attractive coverage to the sick."

But the enumeration, collection, and strict documentation of the arguments is well worth your three-fifty. I do not suppose there is much chance in the newly Communist People's Republic of Colorado -- but there are real opportunities to avoid and perhaps repeal this wicked law.

A critical mass of states could force Congress to repeal the law. To some, it is unimaginable that Congress and President Obama would do so-- just as it was once unimaginable that 34 states would refuse to establish Exchanges, or that 16 states would refuse to expand Medicaid, or that congressional Republicans and President Obama would join together to repeal the CLASS Act. The PPACA is weaker, and the path to repeal is clearer, than it has ever been.

Four stars. Dry but informative and short.

But johngalt thinks:

If the ideologues behind Obamacare and other efforts to promote "equality" such as capping the size of private retirement accounts were to actually go "all in" on that principle they would have to infect every one of us with every disease and sickness known to man. Otherwise, "some animals are more well than others."

Assignment to reader: Look up and post (or just post) your favorite quote on the evils of "equality." My first search will be H.L. Mencken. (Or maybe Eric Hoffer.)

Posted by: johngalt at April 15, 2013 7:24 PM

April 12, 2013

Some Guys C'n Tell a Story...

Hat-tip: Jonah Goldberg

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 3:34 PM | What do you think? [0]

Get your regulations off my wallet!

As the Colorado legislature considers SB 252, a Progressive's wet-dream of wind and solar energy company subsidies and payola - a bill that even the windmill lovin', Pigouvian tax endorsin', make people buy things they don't want advocatin' Denver Post says is "unnecessary and very likely unwise" - I've been over at the Keep Electricity Affordable FB page, picking fights.

I had plenty to say on plenty of threads but I just couldn't resist sharing this little gem here. A joke, that I made up all by myself.

Q: What did the windmill and the solar panel say to the hydroelectric dam? A: Nothing. It was a calm night.

Get Elected First!

Jim Geraghty brings word of the husband of a Rhode Island lawmaker who just doesn't get it.

[T]he 55-year-old was a passenger in a parked car in Cranston when he was arrested. He was charged last month with stealing a credit card to rack up $720 in charges.

"Hey, hey, buddy, what do you think you're doing? Only an elected official gets to spend money she doesn't have like that!"

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 11:27 AM | What do you think? [0]

April 11, 2013

Thanks, ThreeSourcers

I've had a tough day on Facebook. Several work projects are on hold, giving me the opportunity to engage with the infamous Facebook friends.

True to form, it went quite well for a while (these are bright people as I have acknowledged). But serious thought has a half-life of about eleven minutes on that platform and I was soon dismissed with a joke and an "I'm not going to listen any more." Very discouraging.

You good folks are the awesomest ever.

But johngalt thinks:

Heh. "I'm not going to listen any more" means "Damn, you're right. (And that really pisses me off.)"

Be careful with the gratutious compliments around here though. It might go to all of our heads.

Posted by: johngalt at April 11, 2013 7:45 PM

Music Review Corner

So, jk , what did you think of that first-Clapton-album-you've-bought-in-twenty-five-years?

I dug it. I don't think it will displace any of my beloved jazz faves, but it is enjoyable. Jim Fusilli writes at the WSJ that my adolescent guitar hero may be planning his last tour. The article includes a review of the new album:

Last month, Mr. Clapton released "Old Sock" (Bushbranch), an album of light reggae, mellow blues and easygoing standards like "All of Me" (featuring Paul McCartney on upright bass and vocal), Lead Belly's "Goodnight Irene" and the Gershwins' "Love Is Here to Stay." Steve Winwood plays organ and Mr. Clapton nylon string guitar on Gary Moore's "Still Got the Blues (for You)," and Taj Mahal sits in on a reggae version of "Further On Down the Road," written by Mr. Mahal and Jesse Ed Davis. Clapton fans who want his blistering guitar work will have to revisit his back catalog, but his playing on "Old Sock," rich with tasty little asides, is impeccable.

This link should be good for seven days, irrespective of subscription status.

Music Posted by John Kranz at 3:23 PM | What do you think? [0]

"Racism, Jim Crow" ... "It was all Democrats"

A decent article about an important story:

Rand Paul's tells majority black Howard University that it was the Democrats, not the Republicans behind 'racism and Jim Crow'

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2307094/Protestor-white-supremecy-sets-tone-Rand-Pauls-gutsy-speech-majority-black-audience-Howard-University.html
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Politics Posted by JohnGalt at 3:18 PM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

WOW! I have an assignment. Watch as much of the Rand Paul (HOSS KY) speech as you can possibly find time for. You can scroll down at the link for an embed of the entire speech (52:25)

Then (less fun), read the Talking Points Memo description of the speech.

Yes, the reaction from a probably 95% opposition crowd was tepid. And, yes, the questioners were borderline hostile. Did they watch the same speech?

Posted by: jk at April 11, 2013 4:14 PM

News you can use

Counsel & Heal Magazine:

The study found that women who took off their bras for good experienced a 7mm lift in their nipples each year they didn't wear a bra. Researchers also found that bra-less women developed firmer breasts and saw their stretch marks fade.

For the metrically-challenged, that's over a quarter inch.


Woke Up This Mornin'.....

Awesome:

ramirez130411.gif

Hat-tip: Insty

Posted by John Kranz at 2:00 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

"Don't impeach me bro!"

Posted by: johngalt at April 11, 2013 2:33 PM
But johngalt thinks:

To extend my prior remark, I can't imagine this president being impeached ever, for anything, but I do find it comforting that he displayed some level of personal shame. That is a quite welcome bit of news.

Posted by: johngalt at April 11, 2013 2:42 PM

Quote of the Day

And the award for best Physics reference in a political editorial goes to.........

President Obama is said to be trying to lure Republicans into another grand bargain by including a proposal in his 2014 budget that would slightly slow the growth of Social Security and other federal benefits. But he's also telling the Democrats going bonkers about slashing Social Security not to worry, the cuts aren't drastic and barely noticeable.

It's the Schrödinger's cat of entitlement reform. Both his political postures can't be true at once, and no points awarded for guessing what the details reveal. -- WSJ Ed Page

But johngalt thinks:

How do they know? Nothing is certain!

According to one account of the details, $110,000,000,000 in cuts over ten years. Seem like a lot? Total budget: $54,000,000,000,000.

54 000 000 000 000
00 110 000 000 000

0.2%.

Posted by: johngalt at April 11, 2013 12:26 PM
But jk thinks:

Dang! We'll never be able to afford White House tours...

Posted by: jk at April 11, 2013 1:05 PM
But dagny thinks:

One of my favorite analogies that I have seen in various places is to compare this to a household budget by removing 9 zeros.

In that case the new numbers save $110.00 on a 54k annual budget.

Posted by: dagny at April 11, 2013 1:22 PM
But johngalt thinks:

An even better perspective. Well said dear.

"And to show the American people I am serious about getting our national goverment's spending problem under control, my budget will reduce spending by $110 per household."

Wow, I'm trembling in the shadow of his Greatness.

Posted by: johngalt at April 12, 2013 11:37 AM

Coffeehousin'

Coffeehouse

St. Louis Blues

W. C. Handy ©1914

Live at the Coffeehouse dot Com

One more from the Quantum Theory project.

April 10, 2013

Too Much Fun!

Rob Natelson, enjoys himself a little too much, making a point:

Gun Rights Posted by John Kranz at 6:23 PM | What do you think? [5]
But johngalt thinks:

Point well made. Now let's try to poke holes in it: "But nobody can effortlessly kill dozens of people, in the time it takes for police to arrive, with a sex act, or a knife, or a hammer." The ease with which murderous infamy can be had makes high capacity firarms an all too vulnerable target for statist demagogues.

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

Methinks you impute too much reason upon your intellectual adversaries.

Like Jon Caldera, I came into the fold late in life. I had never fired a gun before I was 40-something. My first visits to the gun department of the local sporting goods store are still vivid; it took me quite a while to be comfortable around firearms.

This might be one of my few relevant personal anecdotes. I don't know completely how the other side feels about GMO crops, or the DH, or fluoridated water -- after my joke yesterday, I saw a serious-as-a-heart-attack anti fluoridated water post of Facebook.

But I think I do know the "how can anybody want these around anywhere?" crowd. I was astonished every time I went to the store or range that the other patrons were not extras for "The Wonderful Whites of West Virginia."

It's cultural -- for which Natelson's allegory is all the more valid.

But my favorite part is how the serious Constitutional scholar (he did a SUPERB LOTR-F talk on Sibelius v NFIB) stumbles over the gag lines. I think Jon Stewart's position is safe; though if Natelson had a show, I'd watch every night.

Posted by: jk at April 11, 2013 12:30 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Three Sources Poll: To whom should the following Tweet be sent-

Men, not women, commit mass shootings. So why not "men control?"

Posted by: johngalt at April 11, 2013 3:43 PM
But AndyN thinks:

Men, not women, commit mass shootings. So why not "men control?"

I'd argue that the explosive growth in diagnoses of ADD and ADHD are an attempt at exactly that.

Posted by: AndyN at April 11, 2013 7:38 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Ex-actly right.

Posted by: johngalt at April 11, 2013 7:51 PM

Soylendra Worldwide Airways, Inc.

Awesome article by Lee Habeeb and Mike Leven in National Review on the race to build the first aircraft. In that corner, a couple of greasy bicycle mechanics who eschewed even private capital. In this corner, the US Government!

Who better to win the race for us, thought our leaders, than the best and brightest minds the government could buy? They chose Samuel Langley. You don't know him, but in his day, Langley was a big deal. He had a big brain and lots of credentials. A renowned scientist and a professor of astronomy, he wrote books about aviation and was the head of the Smithsonian.

This is a very entertaining article. The Smithsonian actually displayed Langley's work for decades as "the first aircraft." It might even convince some of the green energy crowd (the portion predisposed to reason: over/under?) If you want something to truly work, maybe the government idea -- in this instance a catapult-fired capsule -- might not be the best.

Highly recommended.

But johngalt thinks:

Yes, awesome. On many levels. And to extend the analogy to modern efforts at "alternative" energy, "The only power that government-funded companies succeed in generating is political in nature."

Posted by: johngalt at April 10, 2013 2:55 PM
But jk thinks:

Of course, his slingshot-capsule idea would have worked great if he had just had more time and more government money! [Late SPOILER ALERT! That is actually the ending]

Posted by: jk at April 10, 2013 5:33 PM

Quote of the Day

In June of 2012, Calpers lowered the expected rate of return on its portfolio to 7.5% from 7.75%. Mr. Milligan suggested 7.25%. Calpers had last dropped the rate in 2004, from 8.25%. But even the 7.5% return is fiction. Wall Street would laugh if the matter weren't so serious. -- Andy Kessler
Nonsense, I bet Cypriot bonds are paying 7.5. There would be a certain poetry in California's choosing them as an investment vehicle.

UPDATE: Persuant to the comment thread, Helicopter Ben got the job done today!

SP500_130410.gif

But johngalt thinks:

Nonsense. The Bernanke bubble will make 8% returns the norm, at least until the music stops.

Posted by: johngalt at April 10, 2013 11:21 AM
But jk thinks:

Harrumph. Is that before or after the black UN helicopters invade and impose Communism, or we all die for fluoridated water or mandatory vaccinations?

I'll happily critique the absence of competing currencies, the Fed's dual mandate, and imperfections of monetary policy -- well into the night if there is enough beer.

Yet I cannot join the "New Ron Paul Monetary Malthusians" who are the only ones bright enough to see what is going on.

Could a lot of things end badly? Yes. Is the entire worldwide economy a Potemkin village with no realistic endemic underlying value? No. Are bond traders unable to comprehend risk? No. As I suggested to our dour Monday speaker, there remain many opportunities for soft landings.

A sax player friend lived with me in the early '90s. Three times in the year he rented my basement, he got up early to remove all of his money from the bank. Each time he was in wonder that there was no line. You may call me a Pollyanna. So did he.

Posted by: jk at April 10, 2013 1:52 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I can't tell which part of my comment got your hackles up... 8% returns? Bubble? That it might pop? All three?

Let me simplify and just say, I see 7.5% returns as child's play for as long as the Fed continues its current policies. Anything controversial about just this?

Posted by: johngalt at April 10, 2013 2:38 PM
But jk thinks:

Heh. Some hackle inducement is residual from Monday's Liberty on the Rocks. Rampant belief that assets valued today will not be after the <your favorite apocalyptic term here>. Predicting gloom & doom is a long & noble enterprise which probably existed prior to prostitution. But the real Mad-Max, no possible soft landing scenarios infer no fundamental underlying value underpinning financial assets. I cannot join the bomb shelter crowd there.

QEn liquidity is certainly inflating stock prices, and it will be unimaginably difficult to unwind the expanded Fed balance sheet. Yet my Deutch-ian optimism suggests that human reason will find a way out.

Each clause of your comment is defensible. I take some exception to the 8% bit. I do not believe Chairman Bernanke is targeting, ever expected, or has achieved eight percent nominal investment growth. And I read "music stops" as the hard landing which so many of my fellow liberty lovers and Austrians are too certain will transpire.

Posted by: jk at April 10, 2013 5:25 PM
But jk thinks:

Could not say it better than blog friend Terri:

Jk over at Three Sources sees humanity as capable of finding better ways out of bad situations. Especially Americans. I prefer to agree with him rather than with Mr. Wright who is “optimistic” that in the end after the fires and ravages of the BIG ONE, conservatism will win.

Posted by: jk at April 10, 2013 5:35 PM
But johngalt thinks:

1) Didn't intend to imply that 8% was Big Ben's target, but did mean to imply that since his "inflation targeting" does such a piss-poor job of measuring real inflation, said real inflation will be all or more of that 8% "growth."

2) I agree that "human reason" can solve this problem, now or in the future, but human reason has heretofore not been at the helm. Government has.

3) I heard only the Brushfire Radio interview and not the LOTR talk, but what I took from Mr. Wright was not that America will collapse, or even our financial system, but the Federal government is almost sure to do so, and may or may not take its dollar with it. Now that's a dystopia I can wish for!

So yes, I do see a hard landing of a sort. I think Jeff called it the mother of all bubbles or something like that. The "Grand Correction." Yeah, that was it. But things with real, intrinsic value will not become valuless. And even the dollar is fairly safe, for in this age of Global Currency War it is still the particular flavor of Monopoly (TM) money that more people believe in than any other.

Posted by: johngalt at April 10, 2013 6:19 PM

April 9, 2013

Brushfire Radio

Awesome! Blog brother Bryan is a big part of another great new venture, Brushfire Radio at libertycast dot net.

Brushfire Radio takes its name [6:40] from the Sam Adams quote, "It does not take a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen on setting brushfires of liberty in the minds of men."

I am very impressed with this young man. His knowledge and eloquence about liberty concepts is superb.

Bonus: Joss Whedon reference at 28:40.

UPDATE: Interview with LOTR-F speaker Jeff Wright is up.

But jk thinks:

Any chance of hearing last night's interview they did before LOTR-F?

Posted by: jk at April 9, 2013 4:27 PM
But johngalt thinks:

They told me that last night's interview was to be the first for their fledgling media behemoth. I expect it will be posted soon.

Posted by: johngalt at April 9, 2013 4:33 PM

Tweet of Yesterday

"Okay, what did the #ironlady do to advance Great Britain and the world?" wrote Ms. [Donna] Brazile. "Did she leave lasting footprints for women in politics?"
Jason Riley answers.

Police Poll on Gun Laws

WOW! The President loves to get officers to serve as blue serge wallpaper for his expensive photo-ops gun control conferences. And I confess that I have encountered (in print) many municipal officers who favor firearms laws which I do not.

But PoliceOne.com did a study, and [Spoiler Alert!] I think the results would make a similar study of NRA members look moderate and casual.

In March, PoliceOne conducted the most comprehensive survey ever of American law enforcement officers opinions on the topic gripping the nation's attention in recent weeks: gun control.

More than 15,000 verified law enforcement professionals took part in the survey, which aimed to bring together the thoughts and opinions of the only professional group devoted to limiting and defeating gun violence as part of their sworn responsibility.

Gotta click through this one. Hat-tip: Insty

Gun Rights Posted by John Kranz at 12:37 PM | What do you think? [3]
But johngalt thinks:

Aw shucks, I thought you were going to HT my FB post!

Posted by: johngalt at April 9, 2013 1:33 PM
But jk thinks:

Let the record show that brother jg beat me by 20 hours:

Coloradoans were told by their legislature that police chiefs support new laws that make it harder for private citizens to own and carry guns. The survey below shows that rank-and-file officers, overwhelmingly, oppose them.

I saw your energy posts but missed this. My feed fills up awfully quickly with cute kittens and puns.

Posted by: jk at April 9, 2013 2:17 PM
But jk thinks:

But we both beat Reason! (Damn hippie Libertarians...)

Posted by: jk at April 9, 2013 2:19 PM

Obama IRA Proposal Redux

I am nothing if not fair. Were I to withhold this inculpatory evidence, I could no longer claim that mantle.

My hero, Larry Kudlow, and his entire brilliant panel -- save for a weasely Democrat apparatchik take Brother jg's side on the IRA contretemps. I have not seen Mister K this animated in some time:

I'll rethink things, but still think weasely apparatchik guy (just at the end) and I have a point.

But johngalt thinks:

It sounded like Kudlow rebutted weasely apparatchik guy (WAG) quite effectively by pointing out that there's nothing tax-free about an IRA. It is merely tax deferred.

It is more and more clear that the goal is to eliminate the inheritance of wealth from one's ancestors. It is the ultimate in class warfare - the nuclear class-bomb, as it were.

Posted by: johngalt at April 9, 2013 4:29 PM

April 8, 2013

Quote of the Day

Thatcher died in London Monday, at age 87, having earned her place among the greats. This is not simply because she revived Britain's economy, though that was no mean achievement. Nor is it because she held office longer than any of her predecessors, though this also testifies to her political skill. She achieved greatness because she articulated a set of vital ideas about economic freedom, national self-respect and personal virtue, sold them to a skeptical public and then demonstrated their efficacy. -- WSJ Ed Page

NRA

ThreeSources poll: is the NRA completely batshit crazy?

I made sure my membership was up to date recently. Our rights are under assault and I wanted to support the most effective lobbying organization to protect them. Unsolicitedly, I even got a hat:

NRA_hat.JPG UPDATE III: Clearly, if I ever do anything anti-social, this photo will be worth a lot of money. Best to download a copy just in case -- The Weekly World News will pay big $$$. Just right-click and choose "Save as..."

All well and good. But this idea of armed guards in every school, expounded ably on FOX News Sunday by male Clinton Impeacher Asa Hutchison (Prude - AK) is bad on every level I've observed, and I have missed a few.

@jbarro: NRA not coming under nearly enough criticism on right for proposing huge untested new federal program for school safety.

It is outside of the NRA's purview to "protect our children;" they exist to protect our children's rights. As Josh Barro points out it is a massive expansion of government. And, as Chris Wallace poked holes in 14 seconds, does nothing for gun violence anywhere else.

I'd add that it damages the NRA position: the only way we can protect ourselves from wacko mass-murderers is to put paid professional, armed guards everywhere people gather????

Um, how about we allow law abiding citizens to defend themselves and their families -- thereby raising the opportunity costs for said whackos? I understand that -- aside for the shooting where Rep. Gabby Giffords (D AZ) was wounded -- every shooting of three or more has occurred where firearms are banned. This is the heart, mind, and soul of the NRA position and it is disturbing to see them abandon it for an ill-conceived and anti-liberty gimmick.

I ain't wearing the hat until this is cleared up.

UPDATE: That stat I quoted:

woods_lott_stat.gif

UPDATE II: The NRA School Sheild Task Force

Gun Rights Posted by John Kranz at 1:07 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

I hadn't read the details but understood it to generally advocate for concealed carry in schools. If it's as you say then I blame Harry Reid, or whatever influence in the NRA compelled them to endorse that Alpha-Hotel. Other than LaPierre's quote, "The thing that can stop a bad man with a gun is a good man with a gun" I haven't seen much to like from the NRA.

Back to that Reid endorsement. How much good has it done for defense of 2nd Amendment rights that the NRA single handedly re-elected him? This very day he stood on the bodies of murdered children to advocate taking away privately owned guns. What would Sharron Angle be saying?

Posted by: johngalt at April 8, 2013 3:43 PM
But jk thinks:

Guns in schools? You some kind of crazy person? There are children in there!!!

Were they pushing concealed carry I would send them a big check. I added a link to the site in UPDATE II: watch as much as you can bear. One of the recommendations includes carry providing they have a school resource officer and have completed additional training programs. All after badges and fences and proper sign in procedures.

Together, the eight recommendations are a dog's dinner of bureaucracy and gobbledygook: mental health, bullying, innovation grants, Federal training, I believe that children are our future...

Posted by: jk at April 8, 2013 4:37 PM

April 7, 2013

Review Corner

TIME Magazine's Executive Editor Nancy Gibbs and Washington Bureau Chief Michael Duffy trace the surprising, complicated story of "the world's most exclusive fraternity."
That's from the Amazon "Book of the Month (April 2012)" review of The President's Club. And that's all the Review Corner you probably need. It's a very conventional, TIME Magazine look at an interesting topic: the interplay between ex-presidents with each other and current occupants of the office.

It's full of fun facts and juicy tidbits:

He had reason to be especially grateful: thanks to Truman's personal intervention, the IRS judged Eisenhower to be a nonprofessional writer and so taxed his income from his war memoir Crusade in Europe at the 25 percent capital gains rate rather than the 75 percent income tax rate, which among other things meant that Mamie Eisenhower got her first mink coat. Eisenhower sent Truman a signed copy, the first volume he gave anyone outside the family.
[...]
Finally, there was something personal; whatever reverence Ike deserved as a general, Kennedy did not extend to the man himself; he called him "that old asshole."
[..]
Julie and David had met only a few times as children. "But each," observed the Washington Post, "had a mother who was forever saying 'I want my child to have a normal life'-- while normal mothers were talking about their children growing up to be president."

My recently deceased brother-in-law recommended this book last year; I read the Kindle sample and elected not to pull the trigger. I saw it on sale a couple weeks ago and gave it another chance.

I wouldn't tell anybody not to read it, but I will be unusually miserly with the stars. Among the juicy tidbits is a paucity of serious thought or anything outside conventional, Schlesingerian-academic-journalistic thought. It's like, well, reading TIME Magazine. On Bush Peré:

The first two years of the first Bush's presidency had delivered solid bipartisan achievements at home: a new clean air measure, a historic civil rights act for disabled Americans, and a landmark deficit reduction deal. But each was anathema to the party's right wing. Which meant the younger Bush would need to take a harder line on economic and social issues while signaling to uncertain independent voters that he wasn't a hopeless ideologue. Hence the mantle of the "compassionate conservative."

Historic civil rights act for the trial bar, maybe... Clinton's Impeachment:
But Ford's proposal seemed almost Edwardian in its quaintness. The notion that the House Republican leadership, a mostly male group led by Newt Gingrich that had developed a seething dislike of Clinton, would somehow limit its yearlong probe was unimaginable.

Yup, conventional wisdom about the modern presidents. Nothing about anybody before Hoover. I suppose those bewhiskered (and predominantly male) guys were not very interesting. Worth one trip through, but I doubt it will excite any ThreeSourcer: two stars.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 5:43 PM | What do you think? [0]

Competing Currencies and Immigration

WOW! Two great ThreeSources issues in one post! Had Bradley Jansen snuck in some NATALEE HOLOWAY PICTURES, we'd be handing out awards.

While most Americans and others might not immediately understand the concept of "currency competition," there is one segment of the population that already gets it: immigrants. Since most countries use their own national currency, those individuals who have moved, lived and worked in other countries understand the concept and mechanics of competing currencies. Yes, in this example, the competing currencies are only nationalized currencies with a central bank which is not what we are promoting, but having people understand the concepts is a great first step.

There was a ruckus-bordering-on-a-kerfuffle a few years back, where a pizza place very near to my first house in Aurora, Colorado publicly accepted Mexican Pesos. The nativists lost their mind. Sovereignty was clearly threatened. But I saw this as a possible -- albeit probably illegal -- experiment in competing currencies.

I don't know what ever happened with Pizza-gate -- perhaps President Obama just droned the place. But Jansen makes an interesting and easily forgotten point about the scale of remittances :

[N]ot only do immigrants understand the concept of competitive currencies, but remittances (people sending money back to their home country) are, I believe, the best opportunity for competitive currencies to develop. I would put Bitcoin, broadly speaking, into this category too. Remittances--which globally dwarf not only official foreign aid and foreign direct investment but both of those combined!--offer a huge market especially in conjunction with mobile apps.

In many developing countries, especially in Africa, people are leapfrogging over bricks and mortar banking for mobile banking. That environment, coupled with the remittances factor, offers fertile ground for free banking.

Immigration Posted by John Kranz at 9:38 AM | What do you think? [0]

April 6, 2013

Obama Administration: 15 years of life after retirement "reasonable"

From Bernie Becker in "On the Money" THE HILL'S Finance and Economy Blog:

President Obama's budget, to be released next week, will limit how much wealthy individuals - like Mitt Romney - can keep in IRAs and other retirement accounts.

[For those of us who don't know what a "wealthy individual" is, Becker gives us a helpful example.]

The proposal would save around $9 billion over a decade, a senior administration official said, while also bringing more fairness to the tax code.

["Fairness" is the most offensive F-word I've ever heard.]

The senior administration official said that wealthy taxpayers can currently "accumulate many millions of dollars in these accounts, substantially more than is needed to fund reasonable levels of retirement saving."

Under the plan, a taxpayer's tax-preferred retirement account, like an IRA, could not finance more than $205,000 per year of retirement - or right around $3 million this year.

There's the American dream, boys and girls: Work hard (or get a plum "Obamacare Navigator" position) and invest wisely (or get a public defined-benefit pension) so that you can have a "reasonable" retirement of NO MORE than $205,000 per year for "right around" 14.63 years. THIS year.

But Terri thinks:

And don't forget boys and girls that should you want better care than you might buy with your medicare checks, you will nicely be SOL after that 3 mil is spent.

Posted by: Terri at April 6, 2013 3:56 PM
But jk thinks:

People are going to think I take contrary positions just because I love to argue (NO I DON'T!) but...

I think this is a good "loophole" to give away as part of a move to a fairer, flatter, more transparent tax system.

If I may correct the record, you can save as much as you want. You can plan a lengthy and extravagant retirement full of caviar, expensive wines and fast women. What you cannot do is use your 401K to defer income in amounts outside the range of a typical taxpayer.

Friends still?

Posted by: jk at April 7, 2013 10:02 AM
But Terri thinks:

Ok, by me. But I disagree with you on other things too. :-)

Posted by: Terri at April 7, 2013 12:00 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I don't object to the change in policy as much as the rhetoric that justifies it. A "reasonable" retirement is $200k per year, for 15 years. The unvarnished way to say it would be "the government will forego taxation on a modest retirement." Instead, they used "reasonable" to give the impression that anyone who keeps more of his earnings than this is UN-reasonable.

And before you accuse me of being pedantic, do you for one second believe that this administration has any intention of agreeing to a "fairer, flatter more transparent tax system?" Or even any ONE of those three? No, this is one more layer of unfair tax treatment of "Mitt Romney and his pals." You know, those bastards who Dr. Carson reminded us "don't need to be punished?"

Posted by: johngalt at April 8, 2013 11:28 AM
But jk thinks:

It happens I know the exact odds for a "fairer, flatter more transparent tax system" from this administration: six per cent.

That number is in my head because it is also the odds of surviving small cell lung cancer or getting a good job with a literature PhD. This is in that realm.

No, Pedant-O-man, I don't object to your objection of their rhetoric. You are dead-on. I am exploring relaxing the reflexive impulse you and I share to protect tax breaks. Yes, it lowers the net amount applied to Fed largesse -- and, no, it should not be discarded merely to grab revenue from those who produce.

But those intransigent 'baggers' needs would be well served to always offer loophole closure for reduced rates -- that is always a pro-liberty move. Retirement and home ownership may be "good" loopholes, but they are loopholes and should be on the table.

Posted by: jk at April 8, 2013 12:52 PM

April 5, 2013

Friday Otequay of the Ayday

"There is nothing [Stockman says] that others haven't," says Peter Schiff, chief executive of the broker Euro Pacific Capital, with a similar outlook. "But when someone from the establishment criticises the establishment then everyone has to jump on him and discredit him."

From Stockman Feels Force of Washington Fury, by Robin Harding, Financial Times


A Handy List of Felony Gun Charges

Should Sen. Chuck Schumer (Evil Incarnate - NY)'s "Fix Gun Checks Act," bill become law, there is a long list of normal and ethical behavior that will become felonious (not to be confused with "Thelonous")

[C]onsider a woman who buys a rifle when she is 25 years old. She keeps the rifle her entire life. Yet over her lifetime, she -- like most gun owners -- engages in dozens of firearms "transfers." She brings the unloaded rifle to a friend's house, for instance, because the friend is thinking of buying a gun and wants to learn more about guns. The friend handles the rifle for a few minutes before handing it back. Another time, the woman lends the gun to her niece, who takes it on a camping trip for the weekend.

While the woman is out of town on a business trip for two weeks, she gives the gun to her husband or her sister. If the woman lives on a farm, she allows all her relatives to take the rifle into the fields for pest and predator control -- and sometimes, when friends are visiting, she takes them to a safe place on the farm where they spend an hour or two target shooting, passing her gun back and forth. At other times, she and her friends go target shooting in open spaces of land owned by the National Forest Service or the Bureau of Land Management.

Or perhaps the woman is in a same-sex civil union, and she allows her partner to take her gun to a target range one afternoon. Another time, she allows her cousin to borrow the gun for an afternoon of target shooting. If the woman is in the Army Reserve and she is called up for an overseas deployment, she gives the gun to her sister for temporary safekeeping.

One time, she learns that her neighbor is being threatened by an abusive ex-boyfriend, and she lets this woman borrow a gun for several days until she can buy her own gun. And if the woman becomes a firearms-safety instructor, she regularly teaches classes at office parks, in school buildings at nights and on weekends, at gun stores, and so on.


Not sure any of these consequences are unintended or not. It strikes me reading this list that most all of those items are completely outside the experience of the non-gun crowd. Shooting on a farm? Lending somebody a rifle? Camping? Join the National Guard? Firearms safety course?

Other than camping, that is put on all your L.L. Bean clothes on and drive the Subaru to the campground with a $30 bottle of Pinot, I don't think those activities are in the aegis of the average voter. Yet it does exacerbate a rural-urban split in the Democrat party.

UPDATE: I linked but failed to attribute: this is from "Turning Gun Owners into Felons" by Dave Kopel

Gun Rights Posted by John Kranz at 1:47 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

This sounds like essentially identical language to the Colorado "background check" bill recently rammed into state law. Detractors were given a total of 90 minutes to speak out against it during legislative hearings. Not for each bill - for ALL SEVEN bills, combined, at the same time. But in that 90 minutes the bill was blasted so full of holes that an ingenuous sponsor would have withdrawn it. Now an identical bill appears in the US Senate. Sponsors There must also be disingenuous.

Posted by: johngalt at April 5, 2013 3:45 PM

April 4, 2013

Paid to accept media.

I'm a cloud guy. But I am a cheapskate first. I just bought Eric Clapton's Old Sock on Amazon. I disturbed the nuns at school by intoning "Clapton is God!" when I was a young man, but recently I have become so full of my snooty jazz that I have turned my back on my hero. As he has seen fit to include a bit of snooty jazz, I felt rapprochement in order.

I buy most of my music on the Amazon Cloud Player these days, and could have here for $10.99. But for $9.99, they will send me a CD -- and AutoRip™ it so that it is included in my digital collection. Yup -- they're giving me a dollar to take a CD off them.

UPDATE: Amazon is the coolest company in the whole world. They have retroactively added every CD I ever bought from them -- for which they have licensing -- to my "Cloud Player."

Music Posted by John Kranz at 7:43 PM | What do you think? [0]

The Pope and Capitalism

A good column for ThreeSourcers on the WSJ Ed Page today (I know -- what are the odds?)

Dan Henninger has a smart piece suggesting that anti-Capitalism should really be anti-Corruption -- and that that is a value worthy of a position from the new Pontiff.

I'm going to guess that Pope Francis and Messrs. Obama and Hollande aren't singing from the same hymnal here. The pope couldn't care less about Barack Obama's and François Hollande's running battle with the income-distribution tables in countries that measure their gross domestic product in the trillions.

But make no mistake: This pope, with every waking hour, cares about the shafting of the world's poor, and soon is likely to talk about it at length. It would be a breath of fresh air (another papal concern) in the social-justice debates if a pope set aside the capitalist straw man. The mere presence of men making money is an insufficient explanation for the persistence of poverty. You have to look elsewhere.


I will confess I was saddened to hear some boilerplate blasting of "globalization" when the new guy got the big hat. I wondered: should I send him a copy of Michal Novak's "The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism?"

I was not certain if I had heard a direct quote, or the summation of a journalist. And I always extend everyone the benefit of the doubt in a new leadership position.

Henninger's advice might be suitable for non-popes as well.

Global poverty persists because corruption kills capitalism. History's most recent exhibit is the Arab Spring, a product of economic exasperation, especially in Egypt. In time, corruption accelerates political instability, erodes democratic order if it exists, and someone from the outside has to clean up the mess. Think Syria or Mali.

One may ask, what is a pope supposed to do? One might ask in reply, what will be gained spending another century railing against the shapeless clouds of capitalism? Appeals to justice can be shrugged off because the idea is undefinable and endlessly arguable. By contrast, if a pope, or even an American president, were to visit a country and talk bluntly about ruinous effects of bribery, collusion and cronyism, he would be talking about real people. The corrupt know who they are, and their impoverished victims know who they are.


Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 4:18 PM | What do you think? [0]

Quote of the Day

ADDENDUM: I'm guessing the same groundhogs that predicted spring back in February spent their previous years calculating the rate of job creation under the 2009 stimulus. -- Jim Geraghty [subscribe]

Practical Philosophy

Philosophy Posted by JohnGalt at 1:46 AM | What do you think? [0]

April 3, 2013

Hooray for Governor Hickenlooper!

Defender of our rights and freedom!

At least where fracking is concerned... Co Springs Gazette:

Thank you, Gov. John Hickenlooper, for standing up to the bullies who aim to control oil and gas deposits they do not own. By standing his ground, and defending private property rights, the governor protects the interests of a majority from a small community of extreme activists who use the environment as their cause.

Just don't frack with a 11-round magazine!

But johngalt thinks:

Yay. Colorado's governor is not COMPLETELY feckless. I really did give him serious credit for this. Then he signed the gun restriction bills, and tried to convince voters they are "reasonable." I will never forgive him.

Posted by: johngalt at April 4, 2013 1:30 AM
But jk thinks:

Agreed. The problem is that party matters -- and his party has Evie Hudak and Joe Salazar. I suspect Jon Caldera is right and that he was a happier Guv with a GOP legislature that wouldn't send him crazy crap like this one will.

If the geologist truly holds on fracking, that will be a win. That is hated worse than guns by his left flank, I will be interested to see if he holds up.

Posted by: jk at April 4, 2013 9:40 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Mukesh Ambani, India's richest man, predicts [about a minute in] that America will be energy independent "in the next five to seven years." Why? "Nonconventional energy in shale oil and gas" that is produced by ... fracking.

Oh, by the way, this energy independence will precipitate economic recovery, "particularly in the U.S."

Posted by: johngalt at April 4, 2013 11:31 AM
But jk thinks:

Not if my Facebook friends have a say.

This is Mommy against Big Oil. Mommy versus guns has the benefit of the 2nd Amendment and a hugely successful lobby. I'm actually quite concerned that this will not be developed.

Posted by: jk at April 4, 2013 11:55 AM
But jk thinks:

Thanks for the video. Though I am pessimistic that we will take advantage of energy technology, India makes me bullish for long term economic prospects and human innovation and progress. See the growth and prosperity that China facilitated last decade and imagine it repeating in a country with a strong foundation of British Rule of Law.

This guy will save us from the Stockman Scenario. His message is very tailored to the Indian palette. I don't think you'll sell many copies of Ayn Rand books on the sub-continent, but you might move a lot of Hayek and Milton Friedman.

Posted by: jk at April 4, 2013 12:11 PM

That's not a bubble... THIS is a bubble!

Aw hell, I'm gonna blockquote it anyway, because the widely quoted passages are the wrong ones. The right ones are here:

These policies have brought America to an end-stage metastasis. The way out would be so radical it cant happen. It would necessitate a sweeping divorce of the state and the market economy. It would require a renunciation of crony capitalism and its first cousin: Keynesian economics in all its forms. The state would need to get out of the business of imperial hubris, economic uplift and social insurance and shift its focus to managing and financing an effective, affordable, means-tested safety net.

And here:

It would require, finally, benching the Feds central planners, and restoring the central banks original mission: to provide liquidity in times of crisis but never to buy government debt or try to micromanage the economy. Getting the Fed out of the financial markets is the only way to put free markets and genuine wealth creation back into capitalism.

That, of course, will never happen because there are trillions of dollars of assets, from Shanghai skyscrapers to Fortune 1000 stocks to the latest housing market recovery, artificially propped up by the Feds interest-rate repression. The United States is broke - fiscally, morally, intellectually - and the Fed has incited a global currency war (Japan just signed up, the Brazilians and Chinese are angry, and the German-dominated euro zone is crumbling) that will soon overwhelm it. When the latest bubble pops, there will be nothing to stop the collapse. If this sounds like advice to get out of the markets and hide out in cash, it is.

From David Stockman's Sundown in America. New York Times Sunday Review, March 30, 2013.

And I didn't even quote the part about feckless calculations of inflation! That's gotta be worth something.


Atlas Shrugged as Owners' Manual

I'd like to sponsor the "Do Not Use Names That Sound Like They're From Atlas Shrugged For Legislation Act." Any co-sponsors?

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Oleaginous Weasel - MD) has put together a bill to finally strip Big Oil of all those tax breaks and subsidies that [my Facebook friends assure me] they get. Merrill Matthews suggests on the WSJ Ed Page that the bill shows just how ephemeral these lavish subsidies are. Van Hollen seems intent to replace Rep. Barney Franks as our modern day Wesley Mouch:

Mr. Van Hollen's '"Stop the Sequester Job Loss Now Act" would raise taxes on individuals--what he calls the "Fair Share on High-Income Taxpayers"--and effectively hike taxes on the oil and gas industry by changing the way their taxes are calculated. The problem with the bill is that the so-called tax breaks the industry would lose are not specific to oil and gas at all. They are widely available to lots of industries.

But whatever the percentage allowed, this isn't a special deduction for oil and gas. Many other manufacturing industries--including farm equipment, appliances and pharmaceuticals--take the deduction. Mr. Van Hollen's bill refers to the disqualification of two industries from these benefits as a "Special Rule for Certain Oil and Gas Companies." In terms of fairness, it's like telling oil company workers that they can't take the home-mortgage deduction anymore because they work for politically targeted companies.


Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, sitting in for Kudlow, did a feature on the rush of manufacturing firms to relocate in the United States to take advantage of inexpensive natural gas. We are seeing a new American manufacturing boom creating good, high-paying, potentially union manufacturing jobs.

Will the desire to punish Big Oil be allowed to derail it?

UPDATE: Prof Mead on the manufacturing migration.

American government got out of the way of innovative drilling companies and allowed the shale boom to take off. Europe took the opposite tack, choosing to stick to its green policies and snub shale. As a result, natural gas prices in the US are a quarter of what they are in Europe. And as industry departs, unemployment in the Euro zone is hitting a record high. That's yet another failure that can be laid at the feet of Europe's greens.

Good thing that could never happen here...

UPDATE II: I am prepared to make an exception for the "Don't Shoot My Dog Bill."

113th Congress Posted by John Kranz at 11:57 AM | What do you think? [0]

April 2, 2013

However, Got yer Schadenfruede right here

This is good clean fun (grabbed from Facebook, sorry no attribution).

A very interesting blend of my FB friends is upset about the President bowing to science and reason:

monsanto_bama.jpg

Junk Science Posted by John Kranz at 7:29 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Racists! Why can't they leave the President alone? They just hate him because he's BLACK!

Posted by: johngalt at April 3, 2013 3:02 PM

The Nation versus Paul Krugman

And you thought it was going to be a bad day!

The Nation: Why Was Paul Krugman So Wrong?

Promising start, no? At long last, an article in The Nation that ThreeSourcers will really appreciate? No.

The Nation's William Greider is mad at Krugman for supporting free trade. And allowing Americans to think they're better than they are. Click through, but be warned that the Schadenfruede ain't gonna last long. I'll walk you through. Pursuant to the Nation Style Guide, page one, paragraph one section one rule one: "Get a whack at George Bush into the first one or two paragraphs:

"What we should have learned from the Iraq debacle was that you should always be skeptical and that you should never rely on supposed authority," Krugman wrote in his New York Times column. "If you hear that 'everyone' supports a policy, whether it's a war of choice or fiscal austerity, you should ask whether 'everyone' has been defined to exclude anyone expressing a different opinion."

Good advice and good for Krugman. But there's a peculiar snag in his declaration: Paul Krugman was himself a "supposed authority" who gravely misled the American public on how to think about free-trade globalization. As threatening losses and dislocations accumulated for the US, the celebrated economist was like Voltaire's Dr. Pangloss, assuring everyone not to worry. Pay no attention to those critics dwelling on the dark side of globalization, he said. Economic theory confirms that free trade is the best of all possible policies in this best of all possible worlds.

"Scare" quotes at the Nation are "used" to "indicate" that readers "understand" a higher concept of the terms than their "definitions..."

For those who do not wish to click through seven pop ups to "not let the Republicans steal the next election!" and "support our Journalism: digital subscriptions from $9.50/year," the problem is that Krugman continued to support free trade, contrary to the proclamations of American labor unions. Pangloss -- er Krugman, assured us that we'd be fine because we are Americans and we are so swell.

But as a Nation reader "knows" -- we aren't special or smart or nuthin' This was the angle that caused my left leaning friend to post on Facebook. One hates to apply reason or consistency to The Nation, but if free trade allows the brightest to rise to leadership positions against US Hegemony (seemingly their concern) why does a good progressive want to use union economics to "keep the wogs down" as it were?

I'm happy to accept that free trade threatens American economic dominance, though I am confident we'll do okay. Yet the whole world will be wealthier and every child of every color and sexual orientation will have greater opportunities. This is a problem?

Alas, The Nation attacks Paul Krugman for one thing he is right about.

But T Greer thinks:

Were this a facebook status, I would "like" it. With scare quotes.

Posted by: T Greer at April 2, 2013 10:35 PM

Quote of the Day

For me, the most helpful policy lens to judge Americas future economic prospects is that created by economist Deirdre McCloskey, what she calls the "Bourgeois Deal": "You let me engage in innovation and creative destruction, and I will make you rich." As long as that bargain remains intact, as it has for more two centuries, then Americas prospects are far from bleak. -- James Pethokoukis, rebutting David Stockman's gloom-and-doom editorial.
But johngalt thinks:

Ah, a pre-emptive rebuttal to my posting of the Stockman piece as more evidence of stealthflation. It has been so ubiquitous I didn't even need to blockquote it here myself.

The key criticism seems to be whether America's sun has set or is merely on its way down. Either way, JimiP advocates for, what, keeping it at 7 pm? That's his happy vision for America's future? I engage in innovation and creation while someone else gets rich? Whatever happened to the American dream?

He's probably done a poor job articulating McCloskey's "deal" but that's on him. I can only critique what he says, not what he wanted to say.

Posted by: johngalt at April 2, 2013 3:37 PM
But jk thinks:

I'm suggesting (and think I could get Pethokoukis and Kudlow to back me up) "Don't fight the tape!"

JimiP has an illustrious history of championing free market principles, and works tirelessly to preserve the dream of free markets. As he and I share an appreciation for Ms. McCloskey, let me attempt to paraphrase (taking on Harvard Professors, besting a Jeopardy! champ will be easy).

McCloskey answers the economists' question of why France is not in worse shape than it is. Not to say it leads the world, but from a policy-based, economic standpoint, it should be waaaaay worse. McCloskey's point is that as long as the bourgeois have a chance, they will create and the rest will enjoy the benefits.

That does not make it right. And I am very comfortable suggesting that more-free nations have done better. But Canada and Sweden lumped through their überprogressive periods, and France hangs on because the markets are far more resilient than folks like you and I will admit.

More Dagny Taggarts than John Galts.

We could have certainly done better without eighty years of progressivism. We could have done a lot goddam better without Mister Stockman's tax hikes (not that I hold a grudge!!!!!) But while saying that today is the day it all ends sells books and pleases conservative bloggers, I accept Pethokousis's larger premise that if we survived FDR and LBJ and Fed Chair Arthur Burns, we'll likely get past Misters Obama and Bernanke.

Posted by: jk at April 2, 2013 4:47 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Fair defense, but let me attempt an alternate view of the big picture:

The drag of statism on the world economy has, over the past eighty to a hundred years, been carefully balanced by market forces in both economics and politics such that productivity and prosperity generally trended upwards.

Over the same period, most nations tended to be more statist and less free than did the good ol' USA, but since the USA was so big and so prosperous (and so #@$(*ing generous) the world managed to avoid slipping into a modern dark age of "equality."

Propelled by the "success" of statism in Europe a surging Progressive movement has gained traction in the world headquarters of capitalism - America. Defended only by the idea that "I'll make you rich too if you let me make myself rich" capitalism is under existential threat by the idea "nobody needs to be rich."

I submit that JimiP and Ms. McCloskey have no answer for the day when the statists decide that two centuries of prosperity are enough - time for us all to be "equal" wherever that may lead."

Stockman's answer, despite his many past sins and even some in his prescription, is "getting the Fed out of the financial markets" because it "is the only way to put free markets and genuine wealth creation back into capitalism."

He doesn't want to END the Fed, but to restore its original mission: "To provide liquidity in times of crisis."

With what part of this would Uncle Milton disagree?

Posted by: johngalt at April 3, 2013 2:59 PM

April 1, 2013

Reading for the Pigou Club

It has been a long time since I locked Harvard Professor N. Gregory Mankiw in a battle of wits. But I can be easy on him no more.

To recap: Mankiw, whom I admire greatly, is a big fan of "Pigouvian Taxation" named for Arthur Pigou. Tax something you wish to reduce, that's a pigouvian tax. Perhaps if the Producers of "Les Miserable" had to relinquish 0.5% of net for each minute over 240 -- well, you get the idea. Mankiw considers the threat of global warming climate change a good excuse for a pigouvian carbon tax.

Even without accepting apocalyptic predictions, he has formed "The Pigou Club" with whom he shares readings of supporting articles. Even if the models are wrong, the club believes, burning less fossil fuel is a good. And we have to generate revenue somehow...

I find it economically appealing, but philosophically infuriating. This puts government in charge of deciding what is good and what is bad. Ergo, I offer a reading for The Club: Michael Marlow's The Skinny on Anti-Obesity Soda Laws.

As an economist, I have two big gripes with such paternalistic public-health initiatives: The proposals aren't grounded in data or compelling economic models, and soda taxes might catalyze a dismal chain reaction, with escalating government intrusions on personal freedom.

I recently reviewed the data on the impact of soda taxes for an article in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons. I also examined how these "pro-tax" studies were received in the press. The body of evidence is small, in contrast with the debate's decibel level. One 2012 study, published in Health Affairs, spawned many news stories along the lines of this one in the Los Angeles Times: "Soda tax could prevent 26,000 premature deaths, study finds."

The authors acknowledged encountering "uncertainties and methodological challenges" and conceded that any links between soda taxes and prevalence of obesity were "weak." The projected 26,000 premature deaths averted were over a decade. From the headlines, I wouldn't have guessed any of this.


You're mine now, Mankiw! Every little anti-liberty fad can provide an excuse for extra nannying and market distortion. The Atkins lobby will need to defend us from fat taxes. Skateboards will start at $600. High heels?

Taxes exist to raise revenue. There are already sufficient exceptions.

But johngalt thinks:

Sic 'im, brother! While you're at it, ask what his favorite "vice" is so you can lobby for a punitive tax on THAT. Ask why he thinks there is a limit to such madness.

Posted by: johngalt at April 2, 2013 3:15 PM

Don't click this. Comments (2)