May 31, 2013

Honey Badger for Guv!

Colorado Posted by John Kranz at 6:15 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

I have the utmost respect and affinity for Secretary Gessler and believe his ideas are better for Colorado than those of potential primary opponent Tom "Bomb Mecca" Tank-redo. But I recently learned the person who "wins" an argument, judged by convincing others to agree with him, is the one who shouts louder than everyone else. Advantage: TT.

Posted by: johngalt at May 31, 2013 7:00 PM
But jk thinks:

Gessler says there's no place for name calling in a Republican primary. Bummer.

Posted by: jk at May 31, 2013 7:29 PM

Quote of the Day

Those who know how I feel about Albert Jay Nock, the author of Our Enemy the State, should recognize that this is no small compliment.

But I can also imagine partisans of, say, Hayek or von Mises reading this and becoming riled up (for some reason, and with no disrespect intended, the moment I wrote that line that scene when the old school orcs and the new-fangled orcs get into a brawl in The Return of the King came to mind).

First, I should say that Hayek did not consider the State to be his -- or our -- enemy. He just considered planning folly, socialism immoral, and, oddly, Dick Sargent to be the superior Darrin on Bewitched. Second, both his and von Mises's work was vastly more influential than Nock's. -- Jonah Goldberg



Deflation

A hero of mine offers a contrary point which is hard for me to wrap my head around.

I've always accepted his "good deflation" as "disinflation" and an excuse to follow a Brenanke-ish line to avoid actual deflation.

But johngalt thinks:

How to discern one kind of disinflation from another is indeed a conundrum. In a just economy it would be discerned by individuals in a free marketplace, not by central bankers who are always subject to temptation of using anything as an excuse to follow a Bernankish line to avoid ANY deflation. Then the discernment difficulty becomes, are they merely striving to avoid deflation or are they "in the habit of helping themselves to the property of others?"

Posted by: johngalt at May 31, 2013 5:14 PM

These are the End Times, Baby!

CNBC's John Harwood @JohnJHarwood tweets of "nice piece by @jonward11 on GWB post-presidency."

It is. Like FOX News Sunday's affectionate portrayal of Sen. Bob Dole on Memorial Day Weekend, one can appreciate the man even if one has come to doubt some of his policies.

Is this, however, a sign of how far President Obama has fallen? There are flattering stories in HuffPo? And John Harwood tweets about them? Anything else I missed -- water still flows downhill?

But johngalt thinks:

All previous attempts to distract from IRSgate have failed, including one headline I saw that read, "Lipstick on Obama's Collar." But you're right, it must have required some seriously hard swallowing for them to write anything except vitreol about GWB.

Posted by: johngalt at May 31, 2013 5:00 PM

May 30, 2013

There Is Hope!

Colorado SecState Scott Gessler is making an announcement at 5PM Mountain (three minutes from now):

Dear John,

I know there’s been a lot of talk about what our team will be doing in 2014. As I shared with the Denver Post, I’m frustrated with our state’s current leadership. I’m frustrated with the sharp left wing turn our Governor and legislature have made.

I began my service almost twenty years ago when I joined the Army, and I hope I’ve served you well as your Secretary of State and for the past few weeks I’ve considered if the best way I can continue my service is possibly a bid for Governor of Colorado. Today I’ll be on television to discuss those intentions.

Please tune in today to Channel 9 News at 5pm as I will be discussing my future and the future of our state.

I hope you will allow me to continue to serve you. In anticipation of today’s announcement will you consider a small contribution of $10 or $20 now? Click here.

Yours in Service,


Honey Badger Don't Care!!!!

Colorado Posted by John Kranz at 6:57 PM | What do you think? [0]

Tancredo legitimacy "startling"

That from National Journal's Josh Kraushaar:

Less noticed, but equally as damaging, is the party's persistent inability to contest statewide races in Colorado, which is rapidly becoming a Democratic-leaning state—in large part because of GOP mismanagement. The party's brightest recruit, Rep. Cory Gardner, just opted to pass up a Senate campaign against Mark Udall, leaving the GOP empty-handed. Even more startling is the reemergence of immigration hardliner Tom Tancredo as a legitimate gubernatorial candidate, jumping in the race this month against Gov. John Hickenlooper.

On the bright side, Josh observes that there is a path to a 2014 GOP senate majority by winning exclusively Red states, but adds that this "could easily blind Republicans to the long-term vulnerabilities it faces."

But jk thinks:

He should read The Blueprint.

I'm glad he is appalled at Tancredo's legitimacy -- who says there's no good news? OTOH, I don't think John Elway or Jesus would have a chance against Udall or Hick. Not surprising that people are not lining up. I'm thinking of Henry Clay who had great candidacies against unbeatable opponents, yet never got the nod when he could win.

I think the solution is to run an ideological opponent (just not Nativist ideology!) We need a Barry Goldwater to educate the people and lose. Tancredo will just embarrass the GOP further.

Posted by: jk at May 30, 2013 3:34 PM

The New York Times?

That right wing rag is beating up on your President again. Michael D. Shear and Peter Baker:

On Wednesday, President Obama left the White House for two Chicago fund-raisers in the hope of helping Democrats retake the House in next year’s elections. The cost of flying aboard Air Force One to his hometown: $180,000 per hour.

The same day, Michelle Obama traveled to Massachusetts to lunch with rich donors who had paid up to $37,600 per ticket at the Taj Boston Hotel. The meal included roasted Chilean sea bass with a fricassee of asparagus. Meanwhile, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his wife, Jill, were in Rio de Janeiro, part of a six-day swing through Latin America to discuss trade and investment, including a stop in Trinidad and Tobago.

"We’ve got kind of an Obama cabal in this room," the president joked Wednesday night during a $32,400-per-couple fund-raiser with about 70 of his friends at the home of Bettylu and Paul Saltzman, longtime supporters. He said returning to Chicago for the day was like "Old Home Week."

But johngalt thinks:

Racists!

Posted by: johngalt at May 30, 2013 1:38 PM

Viva la Gibson!

Rep Marsha Blackburn (R - TN) wants some answers

"The recent scandals surrounding this administration raise a number of questions about who they choose to target and why," Blackburn said. "The arrogance and lack of transparency displayed by this President and his cabinet officials in events such as the raids on Gibson Guitar and the IRS targeting of conservative groups show a complete disregard for the rule of law....

"President Obama owes the American people a full explanation as to why these decisions were made, and anyone responsible for plotting these politically motivated attacks should be punished to the fullest extent of the law," she added.

(Best read in Rep. Blackburn's adorable Tennessee drawl...) I hope she and the IBD Ed Page can rekindle the controversy around this. It was always a great example of overreach; a credible foundation of political retribution raises its seriousness.

Hat-tip Brother Keith on FB


May 29, 2013

Headline of the -- ever!

Taranto misclassifies this as "We Blame George W. Bush."

I will misclassify it as Headline of the Day:

DUI sex blamed for crash that ejected naked woman

I say misclassify, because the farther into the story you read the bettrer it gets. In fear it will be edited, I offer the 05/29/2013 08:33:54 AM PDT update in its entirety:
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- A New Mexico man faces multiple charges after police say he was having sex with a woman while driving drunk and crashed, ejecting the woman from the vehicle.

The Albuquerque Journal reports (http://bit.ly/111Kb8Y) 25-year-old Luis Briones was found with one shoe on and his shorts on inside-out Monday night after he wrecked his Ford Explorer in Albuquerque.

Police say Briones' female passenger was found naked outside the SUV after being ejected. She had deep cuts to her face and head.

Authorities allege Briones tried to drive away after the crash and leave his passenger behind, but a witness grabbed his keys from the ignition. He also allegedly tried to hide from responding officers behind a cactus.

Briones is charged with aggravated DWI, reckless driving and evading police.

No attorney was listed for him.


I went to school in Socorro, and that is an Albuqurque story!

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 4:54 PM | What do you think? [3]
But jk thinks:

Hid behind a cactus! Make it stop!!!

Posted by: jk at May 29, 2013 5:11 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

That is an Albuquerque story. Lived there for 4 years, and have so many drunk driver/police chase stories to tell from it.. but nothing this funny.

Posted by: T. Greer at May 29, 2013 8:18 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Accomplice to indecent exposure?
Leaving the scene of a quickie?
Lewd and laschivious collision?

Surely some of these are on the books in ABQ.

Posted by: johngalt at May 30, 2013 12:42 PM

Snark much?

I will miss the Minnesoootan's flat vowels, but little else about the retiring "Tea Party Favorite" Michelle Bachman (R - MN). Her bombast and quick appeals to religion are not my particular cup of Tea Party, but she is who she is.

The joy from my Facebook friends is in bounds. "The death of the Tea Party!" assured a workmate. Fine and dandy.

But His Most Probitous, Glenn Kessler, The Arbiter of Truth at the WaPo tips his hand.

The announcement that Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) is not seeking reelection will leave the Capitol a much less interesting place to fact check. As one of our colleagues put it, "The entire fact checking industry may have to hold a national day of mourning."

Proof to these eyes that "The entire fact checking industry" should not exist as such.


Take this guy to the track next time

All right you knuckle-draggin', science-ignoring, global warming denialists! Here's your morning read. If you have a progressive friend on Facebook who watches Jon Stewart all the time, she'll be able to help you with the big words.

The Parliamentary Question that started this was put by Lord Donoughue on 8 November 2012. The Question is as follows.
To ask Her Majesty’s Government … whether they consider a rise in global temperature of 0.8 degrees Celsius since 1880 to be significant. [HL3050]

Doug Keenan, guest-posting at the very interesting looking Bishop Hill blog, takes on that question from the standpoint of selecting the correct statistical model to evaluate the rise.

If that sounded interesting, click away. If not, you're not going to like the post any better than the description. Just turn FOX News back on and see if there are any more Cheetos® in the sofa cushions.

Hat-tip: Robert Tracinski [subscribe]

But johngalt thinks:

No Cheetos in here, but plenty of Fruit Loops and Apple Jacks and ... waitaminute. Did you say Parliament is debating "statistical significance?" How do we get Congress to do that?

The long and interesting linked blog post ends thusly:

To conclude, the primary basis for global-warming alarmism is unfounded. The Met Office has been making false claims about the significance of climatic changes to Parliament—as well as to the government, the media, and others — claims which have seriously affected both policies and opinions. When questioned about those claims in Parliament, the Met Office did everything feasible to avoid telling the truth.

The UK government essentially admitted, very reluctantly, that "the primary basis for global-warming alarmism is unfounded."

[Dramatic pause.]

Posted by: johngalt at May 29, 2013 2:40 PM

Sand shortage!

In a global recovery, Venezuela cannot produce enough wine and communion wafers for the Catholic Church (and take it from this altar boy, we ain't talking a 1949 Chateau le Fete) and Argentinians travel to trade currency at market rates. Professor Mead suggests it's "More Glittering Success for Latin American Socialism"

This is only one of the bizarre economic policies wreaking havoc on Argentina. The quack economists now running the country into the ground will continue to try one eccentric experiment after another until the money eventually runs out.

Amazingly, Venezuela and Argentina have every abundant natural resource needed to make them two of the most prosperous places on earth. It's almost as if socialism tends to end in poverty and misery, no matter how rich the soil at its disposal.

Hat-tip: Insty, who adds "Socialism never works as a policy, but thanks to human traits of envy and gullibility, it's often successful as a con."

But johngalt thinks:
"When men get in the habit of helping themselves to the property of others, they cannot easily be cured of it."

There are more than those two human traits in play here: Laziness plays a role, and fear of change. But none of these is as indispensable to the practice as one trait that is unique to the human race: self-sacrifice.

Posted by: johngalt at May 29, 2013 2:51 PM

May 28, 2013

Truth

I found Truth on Facebook:

christie_obama.jpg

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 4:40 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

It occurred to me today that President Obama's two terms as President may yet be a success, after all. No, not for Obamacare, but for precipitating the dissolution of the IRS - may it go the way of the Stasi.

Posted by: johngalt at May 30, 2013 3:47 PM

Letting these Dairy Terrorists off Easy, are we?

Raw Milk? And he could be in jail less than a year?

Raw-milk proponents celebrated a Wisconsin farmer's acquittal on three of four counts related to selling unpasteurized milk and cheese, bolstering their hopes of legalizing the products in America's Dairyland.

Jurors found Vernon Hershberger, a 41-year-old Loganville, Wis., farmer, innocent of producing milk without a license, selling milk and cheese products without a license, and operating a retail establishment without a license. He was found guilty of one count of breaking a holding order issued by the state in June 2010, which barred him from moving any of the food he produced without a license.

The verdict means Mr. Hershberger can continue to sell his farm's products to members of the buying club he started, said one of his attorneys, Elizabeth Rich. He faces as long as a year in jail and $10,000 in fines for the one guilty count; a sentencing date has yet to be announced.


Will no one step up to protect the children! Milk is a gateway drug to goat cheese.


May 27, 2013

Libertario Delenda Est

Reason comes out for the DH! That's it, it's over between us. I think we should start seeing other think tanks and foundations.

But I gotta admit, Steve Chapman has some style:

I once regarded the designated hitter as a hideous and cancerous blight that would inevitably lead to the collapse of civilization. I still do, but I can live with that. What I can no longer endure is the sight of gifted athletes victimized by a conspiracy to make them look like clowns.

Requiring pitchers to bat is like telling Bob Dylan to smile. It misuses their talent, lowers the quality of play, subjects them to pointless risk and probably causes irreparable loss of self-esteem.

Sports Posted by John Kranz at 10:05 AM | What do you think? [2]
But AndyN thinks:

I recall from his autobiography that Cal Ripken, Jr played pitcher in high school. By his account, he chose to switch to shortstop when he started playing in the minors because he wanted to be on the field every game rather than risk having a major league scout in the stands on a day he had off as a pitcher. Maybe he wouldn't have been a stand-out if he'd stayed a pitcher, and maybe he wouldn't even have made the majors, but if he had I don't think he'd have needed someone else to bat for him.

I also vaguely recall a game where the Yankees sent Wade Boggs to the mound and he pitched a no hit inning, mostly with knuckle balls, which I'm sure the catcher was just as happy about as the batters were. I think it was an extra innings game and they were running low on relievers, but I'm not sure.

I'm more of a football fan than baseball fan, and it seems there's a parallel with players like Hines Ward and Brian Mitchell who excelled at quarterback at other levels of the sport before becoming standouts at other positions in the pros.

I guess that point I'm shooting for is that people who are exceptionally athletic - as even the worst major league ballplayers are - can do a lot of things at least kind of well. I don't expect pitchers to be competing for the batting title, but it shouldn't be too much to ask that they put a little effort into contributing offensively.

Posted by: AndyN at May 27, 2013 2:12 PM
But Jk thinks:

I guess my inner economist likes the Ricardian specialization, but the strategy of managing around that pitcher spot strikes me as a big source of excitement.

This weekend against the Giants, I was staggered when they batted Nicasio in the sixth. Two outs, runner on second. A pinch hitter may have scored the runner. As it happened, the young pitcher put runners on and the mighty Rox fall.

I rarely question a manager, far simpler strategic concerns elude me. But.........

Posted by: Jk at May 27, 2013 4:13 PM

Not Feeling the Love

A. Barton Hinkle is not feeling the love for President Obama.

A physician’s expertise makes him capable of inflicting great harm, noted Plato a couple thousand years ago, and no one is better positioned to steal than a guard. So perhaps we should not be surprised that the most conspicuous foe of liberty and the Bill of Rights turns out to be a former professor of constitutional law.

As a general rule, politicians tend to whipsaw between two poles. Conservatives try to increase economic liberty but show less regard for civil liberties. Liberals care deeply about civil liberties while trying to restrict the economic kind.

But the Obama administration is remarkable for its degree of disdain for both.


II was going to do a quote of the day for the closing sentence, which David Boaz (inline, implicit hat-tip) pulled out in his Facebook link: "When he retires from public life, perhaps he will return to teaching the Constitution. That should be much easier work -- given how little of it there will be left."

But the whole thing is pretty good...


May 26, 2013

Review Corner

This book's procurement comes with a funny story. And a funny story must always be told.

I have enjoyed meeting many new liberty lovers at Brother Bryan's Liberty On The Rocks -- Flatirons (LOTR-F), but none more than Russ. A garrulous and impassioned liberty lover, Russ would distribute copies of Bastiat's The Law before the meetings. I'm embarrassed to say my own lovely bride had not read it until she got one of those. (Learning about Bastiat on the street!)

The night Jon Caldera spoke, he interrupted. "Don't give away 'The Law!'" thundered my favorite speaker at my favorite listener. "People need to read "The Blueprint', or Alinsky's 'Rules for Radicals!'" It was brutal but effective. Russ has now added both to his travelling library. I bought one of each at the last meeting and will review them on successive Sundays.

The Blueprint: How the Democrats Won Colorado (and Why Republicans Everywhere Should Care) makes much sense after hearing Caldera speak at LOTR-F. The Blueprint describes how "the other guys" built infrastructure. While the GOP runs a campaign and then retreats to the Country Club after they lose, a powerful and wealthy group of Democratic donors fund continuing enterprises. And these groups have very successfully flipped Red Colorado to deep blue.

I think we all remember 2004 as "what the hell just happened?" The GOP did very nationally but crumbled in Colorado. This book describes exactly what happened.

Governor Owens, who now had to spend his final two years in office dealing with a hostile legislature, saw it differently. "They bought the state. We ought to treat this the way we treat naming rights to football stadiums--let's just put Pat Stryker's and Tim Gill's names on the gold dome of the Colorado state Capitol, because that's what happened." While many factors played a part, Owens pointed to one in particular. "Before campaign finance reform was passed, people tried to use money to influence an individual legislator here or there. Nowadays, big donors just buy them by the dozen."

However one chose to interpret 2004, it was immediately clear that the game had changed. Forever.


Is Colorado sui generis? Caldera himself is quoted in the book saying that the state is big enough to be important, yet small enough to be bought (my words not his*). The same players are expanding this to other states. They will not have surprise on their side, and some other media markets will be more costly to saturate. But they are very smart and very well-funded. And Republicans are ... well ... hang on a minute ... I had something....

The ThreeSources staple of tactics vs. philosophy is subject to examination. In short, do you hand out "The Law" or "Rules for Radicals?"

Discussion of issues that might divide the group was strictly verboten. "All the participants checked their political agendas at the door," said Polis later. "There was never any policy discussed. There were never any issues discussed. This was simply a group of people who believed that all of our issues, and regardless of what they were, what our differences were, would be better represented in a Democratic majority.

NARAL's Ganz agreed. "The basic concept was simple," she said. "A group of people and organizations that didn't like the direction the state was moving in came together to try to win elections so that policies that were being promoted by the state legislature and the governor actually shifted. The execution of that was the challenge. Although, it didn't seem challenging because the goal of those who came together--winning elections--was the same."


At the same time, what drove these people together? A very backward GOP dominated statehouse that was determined to push its social agenda. NARAL and Tim Gill and Jared Polis had a common enemy. A more libertarian GOP would not have been nearly as successful in uniting them.
Trimpa knew that equality for gays and lesbians would begin at the state legislature. "Ted understood that there needed to be changes in the legislature to move a more progressive agenda," said Lynne Mason of the Colorado Education Association. That meant electing Democrats and defeating Republicans.

Trimpa was ready to fight the Colorado Republican Party. He was hoping that after today's hearing on House Bill 1375, Gill would be ready too.


The GOP -- I dearly hope -- will always fight public sector unions. Perhaps if they read more philosophy, they might not facilitate such a phalanx against them.

It's well worth the read -- I'll go 3.5 stars. I am quite convinced its ideas are valuable but not convinced they are a blueprint for the forces of goodness and light.

*UPDATE: The full Caldera quote:

The beauty of Colorado is that it's big enough to be important but small enough that just a few people can radically change the political landscape. It's the best bang for the buck in American politics.


May 24, 2013

Quote of the Day

And since I'm already in rant mode, let me add that it really pisses me off. I resent utterly and totally the politicization of everything. I hate it to my core. It is arguably the single most right-wing thing about me. The idea that people can refer to a left-wing clothing line or a right-wing pizza company strikes me as grotesquely ludicrous and ludicrously grotesque. It's like referring to a "Presbyterian fastball" or a "Fabian cloud."

The Catholic Church in America is becoming more "right wing" not because it has changed its dogma, but because under Obamacare the imperium of domestic liberalism is expanding once again. An army of Lois Lerners are spilling over the defensive walls of the Church and demanding yet more compliance.

And, yet, when the Church or a craft store or a fast-food chicken joint resists, they are labeled the aggressors in the culture war. It's like when the Roman legions would invade Germania. The barbarians would fight back and the Romans would respond "we cannot let this assault on Rome stand!" -- Jonah Goldberg [subscribe]

But johngalt thinks:

____ing Romans.

Posted by: johngalt at May 24, 2013 5:49 PM
But jk thinks:

Hahahahahahahahahahahaha!

Posted by: jk at May 24, 2013 6:11 PM

TANK-redo

I am very sad to report that JK will probably get to make good on his threat to start the "Weld County Republicans for Hickenlooper."

From Steve Laffey's FB page:

From the desk of Steve Laffey

Press Release, May 24th, 2013

After Tom’s entrance into the Governor’s race yesterday, I consulted with my wife and close friends. After discussion and prayer I have decided to withdraw from the 2014 Governor’s race in Colorado.

I have been in two contentious primaries, against people with whom I disagreed immensely and were leading us in the wrong direction. When I entered this race there was no one else who had the capability to bring the case for Limited Government, Freedom and Jobs to the people of Colorado. In this case, Tom and I agree on much, plus he is a good and honorable man, has a great background for the job, and will work towards producing more freedom for the people of Colorado.

That would leave us with a divisive primary, arguing over mostly non-issues, splitting the fundraising in Colorado so that little is left for the general election (given Colorado’s restrictive campaign laws), and dividing the Republican Party--- ending with, for different reasons, the same disastrous results in 2014. Tom stepped in in 2010 on strong principled reasons; this will give a Republican the best chance to win in November.

This decision is best for Colorado.

Yours in Freedom,

Steve Laffey

But jk thinks:

Rats ass! Guess I'll order some "Weld County Republicans for Hickenlooper" T-Shirts. Get your size and color prefernce to me...

Posted by: jk at May 24, 2013 3:55 PM
But johngalt thinks:

None for me, thanks. As you'll recall, I held my nose and voted for Tom last time. In this case he'll be the Republican nominee (unless someone else stands up to his intimidation and primary's his back-stabbing ass) and it will be time for a "Party Over Person" vote. I would not vote for Hickenlooper in any circumstance.

Posted by: johngalt at May 24, 2013 5:47 PM
But jk thinks:

We will have some fun. I will not under any circumstance vote for Tancredo. I met an affable big-L Libertarian candidate at Liberty on the Rocks - Flatirons. Delenda est, indeed...

Posted by: jk at May 24, 2013 6:14 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Ha ha - you said "never." Made you do it. ;)

Posted by: johngalt at May 29, 2013 4:32 PM

Good Essay/Review!

Arnold Kling was the subject of a recent Review Corner, as well as a post before there was a Review Corner (we call those the Dark Ages...). Today, commenter tg directs me to Kling's review of Mark S. Weiner's The Rule of the Clan which "makes a libertarian case for a strong central state. In it, he directly challenges what many libertarians currently believe."

Societies of Contract enable citizens to forge their own professional lives and personal identities, but societies of Status provide their members with deep social and psychological security. Societies of Contract foster the economic growth that comes from individual competition, but societies of Status advance the principle of social justice. Societies of Contract liberate citizens from the dead hand of tradition, while societies of Status initiate kinsmen into a profound communion across generations. At bottom, liberal societies offer citizens personal freedom, whereas the rule of the clan provides its members with a powerful feeling of community and solidarity.

From a legal perspective, societies of Status are not a distant Other. Instead, they are what liberal societies would quickly become, in a process of evolutionary reversion, if we lost our political will to maintain an effective state dedicated to public purposes.


It is an excellent review. It underscores what I describe as "Deepak Lal libertarianism" and the tradeoff I suggested of abstract rights for prosperity. Per Weiner -- and I suspect Lal -- the trade is not giving away rights but accepting civilization and rule of law. I give away my right to drive 100 mph down County Road 7 in exchange for safety -- I don't think Ben Franklin would object.

It also ties together, per Kling's "Three Languages," the natural fusionism between conservatives who value civilization over barbarism and libertarians who value liberty over coercion. I want to be free to shoot heroin and marry my three hottest neighbors. That might disturb some conservatives. But my anarcho-capitalist friends are unconvincing that 65,000 private local constabularies can provide regular protection of rights consistent with the US Constitution.

This also segues nicely to a link going around "Are Savages Noble?" [SPOILER ALERT: No.]

Mister Jefferson nailed it:

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Barbarism is incompatible with Liberty.

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 12:00 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Organizing as a clan, or Society of Status leads to such barbarism as beheading your daughter, or your neighbor's daughter, because she "dishonored the family." Perhaps it will require creation of a strong centrally-governed Islamic state to precipitate the evolution to individual rights.

I welcome the opportunity to consider the idea of a powerful central state separately from that of a confiscatory and prohibitive one. Yes, I agree that objecting to "big government" misses the target. A strong government may still protect liberty, such as it does when it proscribes clans (state governments) from infringing individual rights. Laboratories of democracy should be as free as possible to conduct local affairs, except when such conduct becomes authoritarian on the local level.

Posted by: johngalt at May 24, 2013 3:37 PM

Wish I Could be at the Hayek Auditorium

Deirdre McCloskey at the Hayek Auditorium! Man, that rivals The Allman Brothers Live at Fillmore East.

Alas and alack (what is an alack?) I fear I will be watching the live feed on cato.org. But still:

Featuring Deirdre N. McCloskey, Distinguished Professor of Economics, History, English, and Communication, University of Illinois at Chicago, Author, The Bourgeois Virtues and Bourgeois Dignity; with comments by Donald J. Boudreaux, Professor of Economics, George Mason University; moderated by Dalibor Rohac, Policy Analyst, Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity, Cato Institute.

The rise of the West can be understood only as a result of an ideological change that occurred in England in the 17th century and of the emergence of a "bourgeois deal" through which entrepreneurs were let free to engage in innovation and creative destruction, so argues Deirdre McCloskey in her forthcoming book, The Treasured Bourgeoisie: How Markets and Innovation Became Ethical, 1600-1848, and Then Suspect. Please join us for a discussion that will link culture, ethics and rhetoric with entrepreneurship and economic development.

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 9:03 AM | What do you think? [0]

May 23, 2013

All Hail Taranto

Demonstrating his ignorance of both architecture and dancing, he alleges that "conservatives have laid the groundwork for a cynical two-step. First, squeeze funding for government programs, making it harder for civil servants to do their jobs. Then, when the inevitable screw-up comes, use it as further justification for cuts." -- James Taranto

Driverless Cars

Fun discussing the privacy considerations of self-driving automobiles yesterday, but the tech side is better:

When self-driving cars reach the masses, thanks may be due to a 19-year-old high-school student from Romania who developed an artificial intelligence that slashes the cost of the technology. He took top prize -- a $75,000 scholarship -- Friday at an international science and engineering fair.

Self-driving cars are nothing new. Tech giant Google, for example, has been working on one since 2010. But Google's uses technology that was developed without thinking about cost, prize winner Ionut Budisteanu explained.

"The most expensive thing from the Google self-driving car is the high resolution 3-D radar, so I was thinking how I could remove it," he told NBC News.

His solution relies on processing webcam imagery with artificial intelligence technology to pick out the curbs, lane markers, and even soccer balls that roll onto the road. This is coupled with data from a low-resolution 3-D radar that recognizes "big" objects such as other cars, houses, and trees.


Now, I'm just a software guy, but would not optical solutions be less tolerant of weather conditions than radar? All the same, assessing my technical/engineering achievements when I was 19 and -- I think I'll give it to Ionut Budisteanu.

Hat-tip: @tylercowen

Technology Posted by John Kranz at 10:16 AM | What do you think? [0]

Meanwhile, in Buffy News...

Emma Caulfield (Anya) takes an online "Which Buffy Character are You" quiz:


Television Posted by John Kranz at 9:36 AM | What do you think? [0]

May 22, 2013

The DMV

A good [L|l]ibertarian is offended at receiving good service from the DMV. It invalidates all he or she believes.

I submit this as great example of government "service." Simply pick the range of the first letters of all the cities around you.

dmv.gif

Colorado Posted by John Kranz at 6:15 PM | What do you think? [0]

Headline of the Day

Father who set up video to capture 'paranormal' activity accidentally films his girlfriend having sex with his teenage son instead -- Daily Mail
It's, like, she thought he'd believe anything...
On the web Posted by John Kranz at 5:55 PM | What do you think? [0]

On Prosperitarianism

I must thank blog brother jg for dredging up my old post "On Prosperitarianism." And saying some kind words about it. I think it holds up pretty well from 2008 -- far better than Senator McCain's liberty bona-fides from the same year. (Now, that was just plain mean!)

A quick Bing® search shows the unwieldy neologism has not caught on. Three of the four links returned are ThreeSources (or nascarretards.com). The other is a deeply hidden joke. But a preference for solutions which optimize Prosperity and Liberty seems worthy of a few more hits.

I offer it not as special philosophy but as a branch in the complex ontology of Libertarian thought. Some revel in privacy, absolute property rights -- any one of the ideals of a free society. I certainly like them all -- but I most like the ones which will promote innovation and prosperity. And more controversially, I am more willing than some to trade some absolute and abstract liberty for prosperity. A real Prosperitarian (of which it seems I am still -- like Tigger -- the only one) must concede this point. That's the dark side and we all must be willing to be honest.

I bring this up in the context of an exciting innovation which intrigues me to no end: the self-driving car.

I was only slightly surprised to hear that Greg Beato of Reason is less than enthused allowing Google to track our motion as well as our thoughts. Randall O'Toole denies it, much as I appreciate O'Toole, not totally convincingly.

Timothy B. Lee links to both arguments today and makes a Prosperitarian summary:

Beato is right: Self-driving cars will make it easier for the authorities to track you everywhere you go. But the benefits of self-driving cars are likely to be so enormous that American consumers will sign up in droves, regardless of the privacy implications.

I fear the tort bar will not allow driverless cars. The technology would save tens of thousands of lives every year. But it would completely extirpate the responsibility case law. We can somehow handle 40,000 deaths caused by culpable actors with insurance and sleazy lawyers who advertise on daytime TV. But will Google or Microsoft be sufficiently indemnified if somebody dies for the lack of a closing brace in version 2.04.22? We'll have laws named after victims and coders in prison before we go back to the numerous but litigable fatalities.

If Wally "The Killer Harp Seal" Ventricle, Esq. can be contained, however, I am -- like Lee -- ready to trade privacy for lives saved, fuel saved -- and a sudden billion man-hours of new productivity as commuters can truly focus on their texting and emails.

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 1:28 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

If the trade "liberty for prosperity" that you acquiesce to is real, and I'm not prepared to agree that it is so, at least not universally, then let it be a trade made by each of us, individually, with a marketplace of choices.

Both descriptions of driverless car technology are correct. There are networked versions and self-contained versions, or evil Googlecars and modern mechanical "Silvers" to carry the road going Lone Rangers. I'll just call them Blue Cars and Red Cars. So as long as America remains the land of the free and the home of the brave, free men and sheep can coexist on the same motorways.

Who knows, maybe Subaru will finally get some competition from "Blue Car."

(And if ours ceases to be "the land of the free" then the roads will again roar with the sound of "V8 Interceptors."

Posted by: johngalt at May 22, 2013 2:57 PM
But jk thinks:

We've serious overlap. I am far less circumspect trading "privacy" away to Google than giving it to government. One can say that's a distinction without difference and they'll certainly fold like a house of cards under the slightest pressure. Yet I hold that it is a choice.

The meaningful comparison here was the cell phone -- it is a huge-to-potentially-devastating infringement on privacy, but we have negotiated acceptable limits.

That is a trade. One can be Mr. or Ms. Pure Privacy and forego the benefits of wireless. I will not join.

Posted by: jk at May 22, 2013 3:35 PM

jk Sticks it to The Man!

"The Man" being, curiously, a very nice guy named Rob Taylor. Mister Taylor started a guitar factory with a genius-level blend of ancient craftsmanship and modern design and production. If you find yourself in San Diego and are tired of Filipino food in National City, be sure to tour the factory in El Cajon.

I have bought me a bucketload of Taylors over the years, including another great innovation of theirs: nylon string guitars with regular, narrow, radiused necks instead of the flat, wide classical guitar necks. That got sold or traded or given away to some brother-in-law, and I found myself reconnecting with blog friend Sugarchuck's. Time to buy. Birthday's coming up! Johnny's been a very good boy this year...

BUT WAIT! Taylor Guitars not only failed to stand up for Gibson in their contretemps with the US Fish & Game SWAT Team -- they actually released a statement leaning heavily towards gub'mint. I'm not a boycottin' man, but Taylor Guitars are not cheap and it chaps me to send a lot of money to an opponent of liberty.

This little jewel from Cordoba Guitars (nah, I never heard of them either) showed up yesterday:

It's a fine piece: made of Indian Rosewood -- unusual for a top, a lighter wood would be louder, but it has a pickup and a mic built in. I got amps, she'll be plenty loud. It's less bright but very well defined. All in all, very pleasing for half of what I would have spent on the brand that shall not be named any more.

Feeling even better when sc sends this link: Ed Markey cheered gov’t witch hunt against Gibson Guitar. It includes a nice summary of the still unbelievable actions against Gibson, details of the final settlement, and some crowing by Rep (soon to be Senator, Oh boy!) Ed Markey.

Ed Markey was the leading politician pushing to punish Gibson Guitar for what at worst was a paperwork error. Markey didn’t appear to understand that this was about protecting jobs overseas, not at home. Markey was all on board with the demonization of a U.S. company for no good reason other than that the government could.

In this time of IRS overreach, there is a lesson here.

SC assures me that I have bought an "entrapment guitar:" Indian Rosewood and an Ebony fretboard. Heh – wait a minute, there’s somebody at the door…


May 21, 2013

FrackNation

For alls of y'alls that missed it at Liberty on the Rocks -- looks like there's another chance. Stealing this from LOTR-F doyenne, Allison:

Have you heard conflicting stories about fracking? Have you heard rumors about how devastating it can be and are worried about the impact it will have on the earth? It can be super confusing, and knowing even the most basic facts can seem cumbersome. It can't just be me that feels this way.

Will you come with me to a free event tomorrow night at 6:30pm, at the Boulder Marriott (2660 Canyon Blvd, Boulder)? The creator of "Fracknation" will be screening his 1 hour documentary and answering questions about fracking. Did I mention it's free?


CO Guv Race - Early Edition

ThreeSourcers, may I introduce you to Steve Laffey, the anti-Tancredo.

And here's an interview with Jon Caldera.

Colorado's GOP chairman expects at least four others to test the waters and while I like and admire three of them, Laffey looks like a potentially transformational candidate.

UPDATE: Here's the audio of Laffey's official announcement as a candidate for CO Governor, this morning on KFKA's Amy Oliver Show. Best part is the second half of the segment. (Pull slider to the middle or so.)

But jk thinks:

Saw and enjoyed the interview on TV -- skipped right over my head the intro that Laffey has "been in Colorado for a few years."

He better learn how to pronounce "Ameriker."

Posted by: jk at May 21, 2013 4:35 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Top Three Issues:

Veto Democrat legislature (mentions gun bills)
PERA reform
Political Leadership (marijuana, energy, jobs)

I almost said "he sounds like John F. Kennedy" then heard him mention the former president in his KFKA interview (when he said the CO legislature is NOT JFK Democrats.)

Posted by: johngalt at May 21, 2013 5:25 PM

Otequay of the Ayday

The central fact is that after three quarters of a century of extraordinarily mild conditions, the earth's climate seems to be cooling down. Meteorologists [like economists] disagree about the cause and extent of the cooling trend, as well as over its specific impact on local weather conditions. But they are almost unanimous [Consensus?] in the view that the trend will reduce agricultural productivity for the rest of the century. -- Newsweek, April 28, 1975

Related: "Last April, in the most devastating outbreak of tornadoes ever recorded, 148 twisters killed more than 300 people and caused half a billion dollars' worth of damage in thirteen U.S. states." (Same article)


!!!!!!!!

I know ThreeSourcers to be a generous lot; if there's any way: OK Humane Society

Current Events Posted by John Kranz at 12:01 PM | What do you think? [2]
But Terri thinks:

OMG! Thanks for sharing! That dog was timed out so well, if this were the Middle East I wouldn't have believed it!

Posted by: Terri at May 21, 2013 12:16 PM
But jk thinks:

Heh. It is CBS, maybe I should not be so ingenuous.

"CUT!!! No, not surprised enough! Put the dog back under there and try again..."

Posted by: jk at May 21, 2013 12:30 PM

Quote of the Day

In notable contrast, liberal and "progressive" organizations got approvals with remarkable speed. The most conspicuous example involves the Barack H. Obama Foundation, which was approved as tax exempt within a month by the then-head of the IRS tax-exempt branch, Lois Lerner. -- David Rivkin and Lee Casey

UPDATE: Thanks to blog friend AndyN for due diligence about the Barack H. Obama Foundation. Contrast that with the Kafkaesque treatment of King Street Patriots and True the Vote.

But AndyN thinks:

But wait! There's more! Apparently the addresses the foundation gave the IRS are a drug rehab center where nobody has ever heard of them and a UPS store.

Politico.com

Posted by: AndyN at May 21, 2013 10:21 AM
But jk thinks:

Hahahahahahahaha! That is funny! Tea Party groups have to submit a blood sample and every Facebook post and dry cleaning receipt.

You really cannot make this stuff up...

Posted by: jk at May 21, 2013 11:13 AM

May 20, 2013

Meanwhile, In Buffy News...

Huffington Post (who says there's nothing good there?) enumerates Ten things we like about Buffy (on the Tenth Anniversary of the final episode). Number nine is fun:

Willow And Tara's Relationship

Sure, Willow had a relationship with Oz for a few seasons, but with Tara, the character really came into her own. The two witches brought new life to the series and portrayed a lesbian relationship in a relatively normal and positive light ... until Tara was murdered and Willow turned evil.


Television Posted by John Kranz at 6:20 PM | What do you think? [0]

You're Welcome

Saw (and reposted) this on Facebook thanks to John Pizzarelli's Radio Deluxe. Jimmy Stewart was born 105 years ago today.

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

Quote of the Day

Gripping entertainment. Can I bear the excitement? As I sip my coffee and stare at the ice my thoughts turn to what the polar ice might do this year. Might it also be late breaking up? That would set the cat among the pigeons. -- Commenter Ian H.
Mister H is watching -- live -- what may be the latest ice break up in the Nenana Ice Classic. "The latest the ice has ever gone out was May 20th, 1964 at 11:41 AM Alaska Standard Time. As of this writing there is about 28 hours to go to break that record."

May 19, 2013

Review Corner

Housekeeping task: First, here is your definition of friendship:

books.jpg

The book I made blog friend sc read atop the book he made me read. I got a kick out of that on a recent visit.

Last week's Review Corner was G.K. Chesterton's "What's Wrong with the World," a bit of indulgent but intelligent retrospective from a 70-year-old academic. This week's is curiously similar: Deepak Lal's Poverty and Progress: Realities and Myths about Global Poverty

At the start of my seventh decade, as I look back over the past 50 years, during which I have studied, engaged in various debates, and traveled in the Third World, I am amazed at the transformations that have lifted billions out of poverty. One of the saddening experiences in writing this book, and of reading what younger scholars have written during the last 20 years, is the realization that many of them have little sense of this amazing achievement or its causes.
[...]
This ancient history is relevant to this book, as it reveals the dyspeptic response (only strengthened over the years) of the foreign-aid industry to anything that smacks of the classical-liberal viewpoint from which the book was written and which if adopted would lead to the euthanasia of these Lords of Poverty.

Despite some sadness in that excerpt, Lal's book could be called "What's Right with the World." Professor Lal is quite pleased with economic liberalism's record of lifting people out of poverty. He did his early work in India, which has expanded its economy by judicious application of freedom and property rights (though still too bureaucratic for its true potential). China opened up and hundreds of millions of people escaped $1/day poverty. Now, Lal is optimistic about Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).
As in Asia, the answer to Africa's economic problems must lie in beginning to set its citizens free of the shackles of the state. Africa has for too long been used by western ideologues as a laboratory for their latest dirigiste ideas. They have made Africa’s problems worse. The best thing the world can do for Africa is to keep its goods and capital markets open and let the continent’s entrepreneurial multitudes make their own future, beginning by learning how to hold their predatory rulers to account and ensuring that the state becomes a civil, not an enterprise, association.

So...what is Lal's "magic bullet" that propelled us from privation? For Deirdre McClosky, it is "Bourgeois Dignity," for my progressive friends it is good vibes and labor unions. To what does Professor Lal attribute this miracle?

I hope brother jg is seated securely. Lal talks about "Promethean Growth" as cultures discover the limitless energy of fossil fuels as opposed to wood, peat and dung. He is an economic historian and suggests England superseded the Dutch because the lowlands ran out of Peat and Britain had plentiful coal.

The biggest lacuna in this theory of the transition from an agrarian to an industrial economy is its failure to account for the ending of the energy constraint posed by fixed land, with the increasing substitution of land-based organic energy by the unlimited mineral energy provided by fossil fuels (Wrigley 1988).
[...]
But the stagnant per capita income worldwide before the Industrial Revolution, for which Clark's stylized Malthusian model is broadly applicable, is best explained by the land constraint on the energy needs for generating Promethean intensive growth. Clark’s correct assumption of diminishing returns to land captures this. But he ignores the central feature of the story in mankind's escape from structural poverty-- for, it was the substitution of fossil fuels, which provided an unending supply of mineral energy, for the limited products from land in the preindustrial organic agrarian economies that was the hallmark of the Industrial Revolution. It was this that allowed, first the West and now the Rest, to escape from the age-old structural poverty of the "Malthusian economy."

Chapter Ten punctures the research on global warming and expresses concern that, just as we are poised to bring the last groups out of poverty, promethean growth is threatened.
This use of an unbounded energy source, accompanying the slowly rolling Industrial Revolution, allowed the ascent from structural poverty, which had scarred humankind for millennia. To put a limit on the use of fossil fuels without adequate economically viable alternatives is to condemn the Third World to perpetual structural poverty.

Not to say that Lal does not appreciate bourgeois dignity nor the individualism and freedom that animates ThreeSourcers.
By contrast, the alternative technocratic approach to poverty alleviation is necessarily infected with egalitarianism because of its lineage. At its most elaborate, it is based on some Bergson-Samuelson-type social welfare function, laid down by Platonic Guardians. 8 Given the underlying assumption of diminishing marginal utility, any normative utility weighting of the incomes of different persons or households leads naturally to some form of egalitarianism. But this smuggling in of an ethical norm, which is by no means universally accepted, leads to a form of “mathematical politics.” Poverty alleviation becomes just one component of the general problem of maximizing social welfare,

Why did England have an Industrial Revolution and China did not? All ThreeSourcers had better sit for this. It's a McClosky-esque turn from individualism and science
This cultural divergence, as I argued in Unintended Consequences and which was summarized in Part 1, was due in part to the family revolution of Gregory the Great in the sixth century in the West. This gave rise to the individualism that led to the Renaissance and the scientific revolution, but also to the rise of nuclear families and the creation of statist safety nets for the poor, replacing the communal ones provided in the past and which continued in the other Eurasian civilizations-- including China. It was not the welfare states, which were a necessary consequence of its newfound individualism, that led to the rise of the West, but the sheer escape from tradition in art and science that individualism promoted.

I put my Kindle down and shook in this section because of my decades working in Boulder, Colorado where most people just assume the superiority of Eastern philosophy, medicine, science, thought, religeon, art, and cuisine. I am totally down appreciating Thai, Himalayan, Chinese, and Vietnamese food.

But -- and I am clearly putting words in Lal's mouth here -- the codswallop of eastern spirituality over science denied this great, wealthy and brilliant culture their renaissance. Lal mentions that they did not have a Shakespeare -- I suggest they needed a Martin Luther.

I have picked a few items of interest to folks 'round these parts more than I have covered this magisterial work. It is five stars and highly recommended.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 9:40 AM | What do you think? [6]
But T. Greer thinks:

He is exactly right. I would go much further - fossil fuels are what make modern capitalism possible. I alluded to this (but did not explicitly say it - that was for part II, which I have not written yet) in my post "Notes on the Dynamics of Human Civilization." Even if you don't have time to read that whole big thing, take a look at the graphs at the beginning of the essay. Notice how closely humanity's energy expenditure and economic growth is. They cannot be separated. As I said in another post:

The answer: in many respects Gross Domestic Product is energy consumption. Every service and good in an economy is produced by using energy. "Wealth" is really just the word we use to name the goods created and services rendered through our energy use. Inasmuch as GDP purports to measure "The monetary value of all the finished goods and services produced within a country's borders" [2] it will inevitably reflect the amount of energy consumed to produce those goods and services.

The great thing about capitalism is that you can compete without coercion and you can gain vast wealth without stealing it from others. Before fossil fuels came around this was not true. Economic growth was just too small to gain wealth by honorable means - thus the great number of wars (the best way to make money back in the day) before the growth revolution, and the lack of wars after words. Fossil fuels have done more for the cause of world peace than almost anything else humanity has devised.

Posted by: T. Greer at May 19, 2013 2:48 PM
But Jk thinks:

Enjoyed your post (I always do -- did I ever respond to your "far right and far left?" I remembered doing so but did not see it on your blog.)

To channel Ms. McClosky (ever read her?) though, correlation is not causation. Coal was around, fire was around. Both were well distributed in time and geography. And yet, it happens in Western Europe and it happens in the 17th (ish) Century.

Posted by: Jk at May 19, 2013 9:33 PM
But jk thinks:

@tg: we do argue 'round these parts. Please accept that as a small quibble with an excellent essay. This exact why has become my favorite topic of late. My favorite explanations being Niall Ferguson's Civilization (six killer apps), David Deutsch's Beginning of Infinity: Explanations that Transform the World and Deirdre McClosky's Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics Can't Explain the Modern World. (I'll be tacking Lal on that list.)

If you figure out why we arose from primordial economic soup, it seems you have a substantive case for how we should proceed.

Posted by: jk at May 20, 2013 10:08 AM
But T. Greer thinks:

Nah, no worries mate. I have took much greater beatings before - heck, I have took greater beatings before here. (Remember those long conversations with Perry, anyone?)

1. Correlation/Causation. Sure. But the correlation is really, really tight - so tight that a few people have made an equation for it. See also the two graphs at the end of this post. Energy consumption goes down in depressions, up when the economy grows. They are tagged together closely. The reasons for this are pretty clear - wealth is the product of applied energy.

2. Why did Britain have an industrial revolution and China did not? I think this is probably one of the biggest (if not the biggest) debate found among world historians. There are those (Pomeratz, The Great Diversion that suggest that the big difference between Britain and the Yangtze river basin (China's most productive area, c. 1800) is that Britain had coal stores nearby, and the Yangtze had none.

I find this less convincing.

But I also do not think on can wave away the question by attributing stunted growth to 'Eastern mysticism.' The Chinese tradition is pretty diverse; it has just as many hard bitten realists who disdained all things cosmological or mysterious as it did Buddhist-mystic types. (Many of their manuals make Machiavelli look tame!) And China was the scene of both fairly impressive (for a premodern society) economic growth, technological innovation (among other things, they invented the cross bow, compasses, gunpower, paper, and printing), and were a center for international trade (think silk road - but they also had extensive maritime networks). They once were very open to outside technologies; they learned to sail on the ocean blue from Arab traders, and then supplanted them as the primary traders in the South Chin and Indian oceans. They also were pretty institutionally advanced when it came to economics - during the Song Dynasty (c. 1000-1200 AD) they had paper money, savings banks, and joint-stock companies. (Unfortunately the Mongols took over the place and that experiment ended).

So why did all of that change?

My personal inclination is to blame the Ming and Qing dynasties. They were isolationist to an extreme - shut down the trading routes, worked their hardest to fight "foreign" influence and whatnot. What is notable is that both dynasties had very few competitors - in contrast to the Song, who controlled only half of China, the Ming controlled all of it, and the Qing added Manchuria, Tibet, and Mongolia to their possessions. The world was controlled from one center. This hurts innovation. The renaissance flourished because there was no centralized authority to stop it from doing so; the same was true in China's most intellectually diverse periods. Wrote I in a post comparing the two:

Both premodern Europe and ancient China were host to vicious polities divided in a desperate bid for survival. There was no world spanning empire; all roads did not lead to Rome. (Or Luoyang, for that matter). There was no universal center of learning or prestige that all intellectuals passed through before their voices could be heard, nor was there a single governing authority with power to clamp down on thinking it disapproved of. The decentralized political system of both eras allowed intellectual movements to flower without serious interruption. The competitive nature of this system piled fuel on the fire, for dueling states that refused innovation - be it scientific or strategic - faced annihilation

A similar thing happened in Japan. Before the Tokugawa shogunate was foisted upon the Japanese people, Japan was divided into 8 or so dueling kingdoms. During the height of their wars (late 1500s) there were more guns in Japan than in all of Europe. But when the Tokugawa shogunate united them all and took over, they set up a system that was very stable. They de-armed the populace, made the nobles rotate between the capital and their homes so they could not concentrate power, and forbade contact with outsiders. The system worked - Japan had peace for 400 years and the ruling Shogunate stayed in power. But when Commodore Perry came around with his cannons off of Edo, forcing the Japanese to open up to the world at gun point, there was no guns in the harbor to oppose him.

Posted by: T. Greer at May 20, 2013 12:57 PM
But jk thinks:

I can't help it if you are a statist!

But I do think you provide a host-worthy petard in noting that energy use decreases during recession. I don't think you're suggesting that paucity causes it (70's America, maybe...). Likewise I don't think coal fell out of the sky in 1820 and landed in Northern England.

They learned to use it to enhance productivity outside diminishing returns. The Chinese were using gunpowder way back before color TV. I believe it is Niall Ferguson who talks about the machines they invented but used as toys and demonstrations of the greatness of the ruler. But never applying them to production or wealth creation.

The last thing I'd do is call energy unimportant, or quibble with Deepak Lal that environmentalists' restrictions threaten the continued lifting of people out of poverty.

But there's more to it.

Posted by: jk at May 20, 2013 5:48 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

I don't think we really disagree. Modern economic growth could not have happened without energy. But man would never have had the chance to harness it without the science of the enlightenment or the property rights ensure by Great Britain.

The Chinese failed, I think, not because they were particularly anti-science, but because they were headed by a government that had no interest in innovation and a vested interest in slowing it. The fact that all literati had to go through Beijing to become anything was part of this problem.


P.S. Chinese gunpowder - part of the reason the Chinese used gunpowder more for fireworks than fire-arms was the nature of the enemy they faced: nomadic horse empires to the north. In Europe gun powder first makes it mark as canon, to be used in sieges (which the nomads did not have), and as slow to load arabesques designed to fire haphazard into massed infantry (again, something the nomads lacked). Asian polities that faced infantry armies and castle fortifications (such as japan, whose many guns are noted above) were quick to use gunpowder for military purposes.

Posted by: T. Greer at May 23, 2013 10:51 PM

May 18, 2013

Our Precious Bodily Fluids at Stake!

I'm choosing a side. I think I might do it American Idol style and become a passionate advocate based on your votes.

I have a good friend on Facebook who is a lover of liberty and a world class musician. A few months ago, he surprised me with an impassioned post against Fluoridated Water. I thought only nuts rallied against that.

Insty links today to a Slate piece, commenting "STUPID JOHN-BIRCH-SOCIETY WINGNUTS: Portland Continues To Fight Fluoridated Water."

That matches my perception. And yet. This is -- ahem -- government. Putting something in the water. Because it is good for us. There is no opt out. Let's look at the players:

On paper, the fight over fluoridating Portland's water supply looks absurdly uneven. The pro-fluoridation group Healthy Kids, Healthy Portland, as of May 13, had received $689,376 in cash and $65,093.64 in the form of donated supplies and labor. The anti-fluoridation Clean Water Portland received $194,333 and $59,137. Healthy Kids enjoys the backing of a diverse coalition that ranges from major health care and dental providers, such as Kaiser Permanente and the Oregon Dental Association (both have donated tens of thousands of dollars), to organized labor and almost all of the region’s major groups representing and organizing with people of color and low-income communities. Oregon’s Wild West campaign spending laws (they basically don’t have any) allow huge contributions: The Northwest Health Foundation alone has donated well over $200,000. The Urban League is the premiere advocacy group for Portland’s African-American community and it has an organizer devoted full-time to the cause.

Arguably most importantly, Healthy Kids and fluoridation have the endorsement of the massed forces of rationality and medical authority. Almost every credible national, state, and local health and science organization--private and public--gives its blessing to optimal levels of water fluoridation: The American Medical Association, the American Dental Association, the Environmental Protection Agency, the World Health Organization, American Academy of Family Physicians, and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, which named the measure one of the 10 greatest public health achievements of the 20th century. They all agree that fluoridated water is perfectly safe and extremely effective at preventing tooth decay.


I dunno, my heart kinda goes with the Wingnuts against the ADA, EPA, WHO and Big Doctors Lobby.

My friend's post was full of nonsense about how the fertilizer corporations' greed causes it because there is no other way to get rid of by-products than to sell it to cities to put in Junior's water...oh, dearie me... I called shenanigans (or some similar term) and the advocates agreed it was over the top but many of his friends insisted it is bad.

Any passion for Fl in ThreeSourcesLand? For "Against," Text WINGNUT to 800-3SOURCE...

Posted by John Kranz at 9:07 AM | What do you think? [3]
But Terri thinks:

"ahem -- government. Putting something in the water. Because it is good for us. There is no opt out. "

Drives me crazy!

Posted by: Terri at May 19, 2013 12:39 AM
But jk thinks:

Ummm, Yeah-but: we've done it for more than half a century, and all the opposition literature seems weak. The most compelling case was that we now get all we need from other sources and that slow-moving governments will never realize this.

Posted by: jk at May 19, 2013 10:36 AM
But Terri thinks:

Here's the recommendation if you don't want the fluoride: "People who do not wish to drink fluoridated water can obtain other water satisfactory to them or can treat city water to their own personal standards. People who feel they need to severely limit fluoride intake will need to take further measures to limit their fluoride intake if they wish."
http://www.fluorideinfo.org

Why not do the opposite Mr. Bloomberg? Give away the fluoride to anyone who wants it.

Perhaps because people don't do what's good for them? In which case, let's look at causes of cavities. Hmmmm. Sugar. Why not make that illegal? Three birds (obesity, diabetes, cavities), one stone (sugar).

Posted by: Terri at May 20, 2013 10:16 AM

May 17, 2013

Like B.B. King Knew Something...

Hat-tip James Taranto. But how he avoided his own "what would we do wothout experts?" riff is hard to fathom:

May 14, 2013 -- Consumers experiencing relationship problems are more likely to prefer aesthetic experiences that reflect their negative mood, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research. -- Science News

Music Posted by John Kranz at 5:21 PM | What do you think? [0]

Scandalpaloozagate!

I open with a QOTD, from Ben Domenech (h/t Jim Geraghty):

When this period of scandal draws to a close, if the idea still survives that a more competent and ethical president would be able to effectively govern a $4 trillion bureaucracy, it will be a sign Republicans have failed. They can succeed by ignoring the tempting bait of making this about the president they despise, and focusing instead on the false philosophy of expansive government which represents the true danger to the American experiment. Doing so will require them to go against their own short-term viewpoint, so prevalent in recent years, and look instead to the long game.

Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Using these to bring down President Obama might be quite satisfying in a "vengeance is mine sayeth the RNC" kind of way. But it leaves us with: a) President Joe Biden, the scrappy kid from Scranton Pee-Ayy; and, b) a $4T bureaucracy full of tenured bureaucrats (it is a bureaucracy after all) who will seek to expand the size and scope of government whether Rand Paul or Hillary Clinton sits in the Oval Office.

It's Friday and I have not linked to Kim Strassel in what seems like weeks. Read her coast-to-coast today in spite of my lengthy excerpt:

In April 2012, an Obama campaign website named and slurred eight Romney donors. It tarred Mr. VanderSloot as a "wealthy individual" with a "less-than-reputable record." Other donors were described as having been "on the wrong side of the law."

This was the Obama version of the phone call--put out to every government investigator (and liberal activist) in the land.

Twelve days later, a man working for a political opposition-research firm called an Idaho courthouse for Mr. VanderSloot's divorce records. In June, the IRS informed Mr. VanderSloot and his wife of an audit of two years of their taxes. In July, the Department of Labor informed him of an audit of the guest workers on his Idaho cattle ranch. In September, the IRS informed him of a second audit, of one of his businesses. Mr. VanderSloot, who had never been audited before, was subject to three in the four months after Mr. Obama teed him up for such scrutiny.

The last of these audits was only concluded in recent weeks. Not one resulted in a fine or penalty. But Mr. VanderSloot has been waiting more than 20 months for a sizable refund and estimates his legal bills are $80,000. That figure doesn't account for what the president's vilification has done to his business and reputation.

The Obama call for scrutiny wasn't a mistake; it was the president's strategy--one pursued throughout 2012. The way to limit Romney money was to intimidate donors from giving. Donate, and the president would at best tie you to Big Oil or Wall Street, at worst put your name in bold, and flag you as 'less than reputable' to everyone who worked for him: the IRS, the SEC, the Justice Department. The president didn't need a telephone; he had a megaphone.


Another light-haired woman who writes for the WSJ Ed Page on Friday has a good piece as well. But I liked Professor Reynolds's take on Ms. Noonan:
Peggy's right, but I was saying the same thing -- right there in the Wall Street Journal -- way back in 2009, when she was still going on about Obama’s transformational energy. So welcome to the party. Wish you’d gotten here before the re-election.


May 16, 2013

Atlas Shrugged as Owners' Manual

We're here. James Pethokoukis links to a study that shows that "Public companies that did the most lobbying easily beat the S&P 500 from 2007-2012"

My take: Two ways to make money in 2013 America: add value or have government put a thumb on the scale for you. Clearly, the second may be more important than the first.

Unsustainable much?

But johngalt thinks:

Come on, it's only a work of FICTION!

Posted by: johngalt at May 17, 2013 5:15 PM

Meanwhile, In Buffy News...

Can't wait. Can't wait:

Hat-tip: Whedonesque blog

Art Posted by John Kranz at 5:44 PM | What do you think? [3]
But dagny thinks:

The lady in the middle (no idea what Buffy character she played) is now a kind of fun character named, "Root," on a show called, "Person of Interest." jg and I like Person of Interest if there is anyone looking for more TV to watch.

Posted by: dagny at May 17, 2013 12:14 PM
But jk thinks:

Did not know that, I will have to take a peek.

For the record, Amy Acker played Fred (Winifred Burkle), the Texas Physics prodigy on Angel.

Posted by: jk at May 17, 2013 12:46 PM
But jk thinks:

From IMDB Quotes:

"Angel: Fredless (#3.5)" (2001)

Fred: [talking obliquely about Buffy] So, now that she's alive again, are they gonna get back together? Angel and that girl with the goofy name?
Wesley: Well, *Fred*, that's a difficult question. I think it's fair to say... , no. Not a chance, never, no way, not in a million years, and also... nuh-uh.
Fred: But you said he loved her. And of course she's gonna love him back, 'cause he's so strong and handsome and he really listens when you talk. I-I mean, if you go for that sorta thing, why wouldn't it work?
Cordelia: Let me break it down for you, Fred.
[imitating Buffy]
Cordelia: Oh, Angel! I know that I am a Slayer, and you're a vampire and it would be impossible for us to be together, but...
Wesley: [imitating Angel] But... my gypsy curse, sometimes prevent me from seeing the truth. Oh, Buffy...
Cordelia: Yes, Angel?
Wesley: Oh, I love you so much I almost forgot to brood!
Cordelia: And just because I sent you to Hell that one time doesn't mean that we can't just be friends.
Wesley: Or possibly more?
Cordelia: Gasp! No! We mustn't!
Wesley: Kiss me!
Cordelia: Bite me!
Angel: [entering, surprising everyone] How about you both bite me?
Fred: You're back!
Charles Gunn: How'd it go?
Angel: I think those two pretty much summed it up. To be honest I really don't want to talk about it.

Posted by: jk at May 17, 2013 12:49 PM

Boo Pope!

We have not taken potshots at a popular religious figure since, well let's see it's 2:06 Mountain...

Pope blasts "cult of money" that tyrannizes poor

VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Pope Francis has denounced the global financial system, blasting the "cult of money" that he says is tyrannizing the poor and turning humans into expendable consumer goods.

In his first major speech on the subject, Francis demanded Thursday that financial and political leaders reform the global financial system to make it more ethical and concerned for the common good. He said: "Money has to serve, not to rule!"

It's a message Francis delivered on many occasions when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires, and it's one that was frequently stressed by retired Pope Benedict XVI.

Francis, who has made clear the poor are his priority, made the comments as he greeted his first group of new ambassadors accredited to the Holy See.


No doubt a good Jesuit has read more Michael Novak than I. Does he need a refresher? I would also suggest some Deirdre McClosky [Review Corner]. I take him at his word for his compassion for the poor. Yet they'd be better served by some papal recognition of bourgeois dignity.

Actually, Sir, it is tyranny that tyrannizes the poor. The "cult of money" lifts them up.

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 4:00 PM | What do you think? [0]

Twin Tunnel Widening

This is cool. Colorado skiiers and mountain travelers are no doubt familiar with the Twin Tunnels on I-70 between Floyd Hill and Idaho Springs. They are a minor pinch point which cause major traffic delays. After many decades of inconvenience the Colorado Department of Transportation has finally managed to wrestle some funds away from riderless light rail train projects to improve infrastructure for - cars.

Sarcastic sniping aside, here is the project website. And below is the animation they made to show how the detour works. This was of particular interest to me because since the days of my youth I've always wanted to drive that abandoned road around the corner of the mountain. It looks like they've made a newer wider road instead, along with a new bridge, but I still want to get up there and check it out.

View the detour animation.

Colorado Posted by JohnGalt at 3:08 PM | What do you think? [0]

Tyranny

Or: All Hail IBD! A good friend of this blog emails a link, with the suggestion "Nothing in here you haven't seen but it's nice to have it put so concisely."

Amen:

Tyranny: Perhaps the most sinister aspect of the president's parade of scandals is that just days before they broke, he mocked as paranoid those concerned about government excesses.

On May 5, while giving the commencement address at Ohio State University, President Obama advised graduates to put all their trust in government and reject those shrill "voices" that say it's the source of our problems.

Ignore these limited-government types, he told the class of 2013, who warn "tyranny lurks just around the corner."

Only, Obama himself has proved our fears are well-founded. Government, particularly governance by this rogue regime, needs more checks, not fewer; more skepticism, not less. Tyranny isn't lurking around the corner. It's now upon us, manifest in the pattern of misuse and abuse of government power by this presidency[...]


Followed by a handy enumeration of abuses current as of this morning (it's early yet...)

But johngalt thinks:

President strawman strikes again.

Tyranny correctly applies to the unrestrained, oppresive rule of a single ruler. President Obama's election caused the Progressivism accelerator to be floorboarded but he is certainly not the only person wielding unrestrained power in the federal government. But it benefits him to perpetuate the meme that he, personally, is a "tyrant" because the strength of his personality is so strong as to be an absolute rebuttal with so many people.

Yes, the TEA Party "voices" created the meme, and did so in analog to the nation's founding, where colonials told the central government, in that case a monarchy, "Don't Tread on Me." This sentiment lives on today but its cause is better served by precisely labeling the Obama government an ochlocracy, and President Obama himself and ochlocrat.

So, just what is ochlocracy? An ancient Greek term for a democracy spoiled by demagoguery, "tyranny of the majority" and the rule of passion over reason.

Posted by: johngalt at May 16, 2013 2:38 PM
But johngalt thinks:

(Yes, I did repost that comment on the IBD article page.)

Posted by: johngalt at May 16, 2013 2:42 PM

May 15, 2013

Greed?

I need hardly mention -- in this crowd -- that I am nobody's idea of a full-throated Objectivist.

But I do fear for the Republic when I see a headline like this:

gosnell.jpg

Jury foreman David Misko explained today outside t courthouse what made the jury decide on first degree murder.

"The premeditation of it," he said. "It was just business as usual with him, he snipped the necks no matter what happened, so it seems that was what it was the premeditation of the babies."

Juror Joseph Carroll emerged from the courthouse to explain the jury's deliberations.

"Most of us felt it came down to a greed factor. The services ... it was like a machine. They came in, he gave them a service, and bam, the women were gone," Carroll said.

Juror Sarah Glinski said today that the hardest part of the trial was viewing the images of the lifeless new borns [sic].


This monster committed infanticide for hire, torturing and abusing his own patients in the grisly process.

His crime is greed? Did he not floss or did he frequently jaywalk into his murderous palace of horrors? I wish to make allowance for jurors who endured a difficult ordeal in performing their civic duty. At the same time, that "greed" was mentioned among such atrocity signifies a deep philosophical rot.

I hope I am being too harsh and that I regret posting this. But it grabbed an ABC news editor's attention to get elevated to the headline. Really -- greed is what disturbs you here...

Posted by John Kranz at 5:22 PM | What do you think? [5]
But AndyN thinks:

When the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 passed, about 1/3 of each house of congress voted against it. So 1/3 of the country sent Representatives and Senators to Washington who think that a doctor should be able to turn a late term fetus to deliver it breech, induce labor, deliver most of the fetus, kill the fetus (usually by puncturing the base of the skull and destroying the brain), then complete delivery. As long as Gosnell's patients went to him with the intent to abort their pregnancy, the functional difference between what he did to those babies and what passes for acceptable in abortion clinics all over the country is maybe 8".

It may be an outrage, but is it even a little bit of a surprise that in a city as far left as Philly it's not possible to find 12 jurors who care more about what Gosnell did than why he did it?

Furthermore, I was once gently rebuked in these comments for mentioning it, but it's the belief of some prominent politicians that a doctor inducing labor with the intent of delivering a dead fetus should be able to leave the baby to die if it happens to be born alive. I'm not entirely sure how what Gosnell did is any more barbaric than leaving a newborn in a closet to die of neglect.

Posted by: AndyN at May 15, 2013 8:01 PM
But jk thinks:

I'm thinking that may have been somebody else.................

For the record, I would indeed ban D&X and most anything late term. I consider myself "pro-choice" but think Roe and Casey left the States too little room to accommodate.

If the lawr is the lawr, however, the eight inches you discuss is arbitrary yet important. Gosnell was willing to push the line because he did not even believe that the line existed.

Posted by: jk at May 15, 2013 8:42 PM
But AndyN thinks:

"...the eight inches you discuss is arbitrary yet important."

Yes, you're exactly right. I guess I was speaking more to why it's hard to find jurors who care rather than legalities. If they can agree that one's acceptable, it's hard to be surprised that they don't think a guy should get life without parole for the other even if the state draws a distinction. And I should have said "what passed" rather than "what passes" since I believe the procedure is no longer legal.

And it wasn't you. I think it was johngalt, in a post about how out of the mainstream the GOP position on abortion is.

Posted by: AndyN at May 15, 2013 9:34 PM
But johngalt thinks:

And now, thanks to this landmark verdict, how many abortionists will get anywhere near that line, much less push it? A "bright red line" if ever there was one, thanks to 12 of our peers, will do more to discourage late-term abortion than 51 legislatures and 9 robed justices could ever dream.

Inside the mother it's a fetus, whose fate relies on the humanity of the mother, but once it leaves the birth canal the Hippocratic Oath applies, at the very least. It may only be 8 inches, but it's as unambiguous as there will ever be hope of finding in this contentious personal/public issue.

Posted by: johngalt at May 16, 2013 1:42 AM
But johngalt thinks:

As for the "greed" headline, I sense that the juror was merely grasping for words to describe Gosnell's inhuman detachment. It's only a sign of our postmodern age that "greed" is in that bin. But the reporter had opportunity to reflect and deliberate. Shame be upon him.

Posted by: johngalt at May 16, 2013 12:06 PM

He's Baaaaaaaaaack!

Noooo! Nooooooo! Noooooo!

2014 Tom Tancredo considering a run for governor in 2014

I will chair the "Weld County Republicans for Hickenlooper" if this turncoat gets the nod.

Colorado Posted by John Kranz at 4:31 PM | What do you think? [9]
But jk thinks:

Gessler, Yes!!! Honey Badger don't care....

Posted by: jk at May 16, 2013 12:25 PM
But jk thinks:

Some better-connected-than-I don't think Gessler is in ("will have a tough time holding his SecState job where he is really needed." Especially after the same-day-registration-voter-fraud act is signed today.)

Nobody in the stable is there? Beauprez? I also suspect that most guys smart enough to win are smart enough not to run - Gov. Hickenlooper will be formidable.

Posted by: jk at May 16, 2013 4:30 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Wayne LaPierre?

Seriously though, I want to know, who is Colorado's Ted Cruz?

Posted by: johngalt at May 16, 2013 6:28 PM
But jk thinks:

I'm always haunted by Peter Robinson’s "It's My Party:" The ideal GOP candidate probably has a job that pays ten times as much with one-tenth the nonsense. Every Unitarian Preacher, on the other hand, fancies himself a Democratic Senator.

To be fair, Hickenlooper is pretty qualified. But candidate recruitment is a hurdle.

Posted by: jk at May 16, 2013 6:40 PM
But jk thinks:

I thought John Mackey had more of a Colorado connection. I'd overlook carpetbagging -- Texas already has a Ted Cruz.

Posted by: jk at May 16, 2013 6:44 PM
But Jk thinks:

Sheriff John Cooke?

Posted by: Jk at May 18, 2013 8:14 PM

Otequay of the Ayday

"But it doesn't make any sense for us to use the coercive powers of the state to avoid the creation of future Teen Mom Porn Stars -- what are we going to do, imprison every knocked up moron teenager? What does make sense is to use the coercive powers of society. And society has few tools more powerful than shame. Pretending that an action is value-neutral to spare the feelings of a miscreant will only create more miscreants. I, for one, would prefer a society with fewer miscreants." -- Free Beacon Blogger Sonny Bunch, on model Christine Teigen's Tweet: I believe in shame and having shame and being shamed.

UPDATE: I rushed this to press and relied on readers to click through for the rest of the tweets. The one I cited was her conclusion, but she began by telling a young woman known as "Teen Mom Porn Star" that "you're a whore and everyone hates you..."

And if that's not tittilating enough to elicit commentary... Christine Christie Chrissy Teigen Pics Pictures Photos. (Check the traffic stats!)


Tweet of the Day

tweet130515.gif

And a pretty good open letter to the MSM to go with it.


May 14, 2013

QOTD II

On Friday, May 10, President Obama ventured into Ohio to give a Mother's Day defense of the sagging fortunes of his signal achievement, the misnamed Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The law, the President assures us, "is here to stay"--a comment that is best regarded as a threat and not a promise. His conclusion was not coincidental; support for the ACA has dropped from 42 percent to 35 percent between November 2012 and April 2013. -- Richard Epstein

UPDATE: QOTD2 -- that is some lazy-ass blogging!

This is an exceptional and important article. Epstein clearly, concisely -- and fairly -- demolishes ObamaCare's implementation. It would be easy to ignore this during the administration's multi-scandal defensive. But don't -- this one is a keeper.

Hat-tip: Insty.

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 12:18 PM | What do you think? [4]
But johngalt thinks:

The piece includes further analysis of the "free-riding on others" guilt play floated by Ezekiel Emanuel, which we discussed earlier.

Emanuel's expansive view of civic duty plays the game both ways when he accuses individuals who don't purchase health insurance of "freeriding"ť on the public. But their purchase of insurance will allow the preferred plan recipients to free ride on them. Let young people buy their own coverage at market rates, and both forms of freeriding will vanish without the public relations campaign.

But, of course, the president has no intention or desire to eradicate "free-riding" as long as it entails his voters free-riding on his opponents'.

Posted by: johngalt at May 14, 2013 2:48 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"A whopping 26 states have defaulted on their option" to create health insurance exchanges.

Unfortunately, Colorado isn't one of them.

www.connectforhealthco.com "the entity that will run the exchange, and cost taxpayers more than $180 million to set up, is slated to start with 39 full time employees collecting an average salary of $85,505. This does not even count the consultants who are lining up to collect more than $11 million (as budgeted now) during the development phase of the exchange." From: Boondoggle: CO Healthcare Exchange Triples Start-up Costs to More Than $180 Million"

Posted by: johngalt at May 14, 2013 5:46 PM
But jk thinks:

That could have bought miles of light rail that nobody uses.

Posted by: jk at May 14, 2013 5:51 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Maybe only a fraction of a mile.

Posted by: johngalt at May 15, 2013 12:58 PM

Quote of the Day

The motivations and fundraising of those who disagree with you are irrelevant to whether or not you're telling the truth, Mr. President. -- Jim Geraghty
Benghazi Posted by John Kranz at 10:02 AM | What do you think? [0]

May 13, 2013

The Moral Foundation of a Free Society

“The picture was made for the apple--not the apple for the picture.” - Abraham Lincoln

The Declaration of Independence is a document for all people, for all time, and from all walks of life. It recognizes the moral principle of individual rights, and by implication, the facts of reality that give rise to it. In doing so, it sets the ethical standard by which all systems of government can be judged, and forms the moral foundation of a free society. Lincoln correctly understood this relationship when he described the apple and the frame; governments must have a moral foundation to claim legitimacy.

Moral principles, such as individual rights, are not created by whim or impulse. They are derived from an objective moral code based on the fact that an individual’s life is an end unto itself. This fact forms the system of teleological measurement an individual uses to make choices. That which sustains, improves, or enriches the life of the individual is the good; that which does not is the evil. The primary method by which man distinguishes between the two is his mind.

The requirements of rational human existence are not tied to race, ethnicity, creed, nationality, or any other means of demographic categorization; to live, man must hold his own existence as the standard of moral value, and he must use his mind to provide for the material and spiritual necessities of his life. From the creation of tools to the composition of symphonies, the source of every life-affirming value is man’s reason.

To exist in a social setting, man requires one thing: Freedom. He must be free to think, to act upon the conclusions of his own judgment, and be the beneficiary of his actions. It is therefore essential that he be free from the initiation of force, fraud, or coercion. It is this fact that undergirds the only moral purpose of government: the protection of individual rights; it is on this premise that the Declaration of Independence is based.

By identifying these facts, the Declaration of Independence recognizes the requirements of human existence and creates the standard by which social systems are to be judged.

A moral government protects the individual rights of its citizens and derives its “just powers from the consent of the governed”. The word just in this context means, “Acting or being in conformity with what is morally upright or good.” This distinction is vital, as it qualifies to what end government power will be used, thus forming the principle of limited government.

If one holds man’s life as the standard, reason as his means of gaining knowledge, and the pursuit and achievement of values as the requirement of his life, it is unreasonable to judge any form of collectivist government as moral. Those social systems hold that the group is the standard of moral and political value, that the individual’s reason is impotent, and that one’s values should be sacrificed for the good of society. The foundation upon which collectivist societies are built is anathema to the requirements of human life and as such cannot claim legitimacy.

The practical results from these two governing philosophies are easy to distinguish. In those societies founded on individualism, there is eudemonia; in those where the collective is the standard, there is decay. However, despite this fact, advocates of collectivist ideologies continue to allure new acolytes. Through the siren song of altruism, they deceive would be followers by claiming egalitarianism as the ethical standard upon which the United States was built.

Like Lincoln, the Founders understood the relationship between morality and politics. They understood that man would not be willing to pledge his life, fortune, and sacred honor for political revolution without first knowing that he was morally right in doing so. The enemies of individualism have exploited this fact to erode the moral foundation upon which the Constitution is based.

Those who champion these principles must learn to defend them on moral grounds. They must understand that not only is it practical for man to be free, it is moral for him to be free. It is only on this foundation that a society can flourish, and it is because of this foundation that government may exercise legitimate power. If the political system created by the Constitution is to survive, the foundation created by the Declaration of Independence must be defended on the grounds that it is morally right.

But johngalt thinks:

"They must understand that not only is it practical for man to be free, it is moral for him to be free."

This, I would say, is the essence of our long-running Elevator Talk dispute. Yes, capitalism is practical, but it is also moral, because it is the only system under which free men may deal with one another "without pain, or fear, or guilt."

This essay looks familiar Bryan. What is the source? The post is somewhat lacking in context. (By the way, welcome back! Good to see you blogging again. Hoping for more.)

Posted by: johngalt at May 14, 2013 2:59 PM
But Bryan thinks:

JG -

This was my essay for the Defenders of the Declaration competition for the Leadership Program of the Rockies.

I apologize for not providing context. I wanted to publish it so that you guys and my classmates could review it.

Thanks for your feedback!

Posted by: Bryan at May 14, 2013 3:19 PM

Happy Libertyversary!

Liberty on the Rocks -- Flatirons:

Join us on Monday, May 13th, when we will be celebrating the first anniversary of the Flatirons chapter with a showing of "FrackNation" -- a documentary that follows journalist Phelim McAleer as he seeks out the science behind, and truth about, fracking. After the movie there will be short Q&A with Americans for Prosperity, followed by the opportunity to network with other local liberty supporters. Come for the event, stay for the food and networking -- you’re guaranteed a great evening no matter what!

Six to Nine PM at Miller's Grille

Hat-tip: Terri See you there!

But johngalt thinks:

A year old, and still waiting for that Tax Exempt status to come through from #IRS? ;)

Posted by: johngalt at May 13, 2013 2:16 PM
But johngalt thinks:

This is right in my wheelhouse but I don't think I can make it. Bummer.

Posted by: johngalt at May 13, 2013 4:14 PM

May 12, 2013

Review Corner

I'm going to infer from 11 substantive comments to last week's Review Corner that the topic of political language is still of interest and that Arnold Kling's division of American polity into Conservatives, Progressives, and Libertarians has been accepted on some level. Because I wish to marry this to another tenured ThreeSources discussion: canons. (One n -- looking up the plural I see I have been discussing aircraft armament. Oops. my bad).

Homonyms aside, I have frequently complained that the Progressives have a substandard canon. I hold that, but in the spirit of fairness must admit that my beloved Libertarian canon is inferior to the Conservatives. Mises, Hayek, Bastiat, Wollstonecraft, Locke and Rand excite me and I hold their ideas in great esteem.

But I spent last week with GK Chesterton's What's Wrong with the World. And I have to admit that Chesterton and Edmund Burke lay a timeless foundation for Conservatism (blog friend Sugarchuck would throw in C.S. Lewis; probably JRR Tolkien and Jonah Goldberg deserve slots in the pantheon).

Chesterton gets five stars for clarity and five for sparkling prose. I highlight quotes for reader's corners and it is difficult to stop and leave any lines un-highlighted. Sugarchuck compares his humor to Monty Python:

Compromise used to mean that half a loaf was better than no bread. Among modern statesmen it really seems to mean that half a loaf is better than a whole loaf.
[...]
It is not merely true that a creed unites men. Nay, a difference of creed unites men--so long as it is a clear difference. A boundary unites. Many a magnanimous Moslem and chivalrous Crusader must have been nearer to each other, because they were both dogmatists, than any two homeless agnostics in a pew of Mr. Campbell's chapel.
[...]
I am told that the Japanese method of wrestling consists not of suddenly pressing, but of suddenly giving way. This is one of my many reasons for disliking the Japanese civilization. To use surrender as a weapon is the very worst spirit of the East.

Gilbert Keith uses his gifts in support of conservatism. Jonah Goldberg loves to quote his line "Tradition is the Democracy of the dead." I'm a modernist and a libertarian, but the argument that we discard the proven is compelling.
Our modern prophetic idealism is narrow because it has undergone a persistent process of elimination. We must ask for new things because we are not allowed to ask for old things. The whole position is based on this idea that we have got all the good that can be got out of the ideas of the past.

I think the natural affinity between Kling's L's and C's is a common belief in property rights. GK is eloquent, as usual:
The average man cannot cut clay into the shape of a man; but he can cut earth into the shape of a garden; and though he arranges it with red geraniums and blue potatoes in alternate straight lines, he is still an artist; because he has chosen. The average man cannot paint the sunset whose colors be admires; but he can paint his own house with what color he chooses, and though he paints it pea green with pink spots, he is still an artist; because that is his choice. Property is merely the art of the democracy. It means that every man should have something that he can shape in his own image, as he is shaped in the image of heaven.

TGreer's comment on last week' Review Corner segues into this week's. I, too, came to little-l libertarianism through conservatism. For me it was Bill Buckley and National Review (and I still subscribe to Frank Meyers's Fusionism). Buckley subscribed to Milton Friedman's libertarian ideas on economics, school choice and drug legalization.

But Buckley and Chesterton "stand athwart history, yelling 'Stop!'" For Chesterton, that includes a large portion of the book devoted to Women's suffrage which a modern finds difficult to read. Chesterton is agin it, not because women are not good enough to vote. But because they are too good

Many voteless women regard a vote as unwomanly. Nobody says that most voteless men regarded a vote as unmanly. Nobody says that any voteless men regarded it as unmanly. Not in the stillest hamlet or the most stagnant fen could you find a yokel or a tramp who thought he lost his sexual dignity by being part of a political mob. If he did not care about a vote it was solely because he did not know about a vote; he did not understand the word any better than Bimetallism. His opposition, if it existed, was merely negative. His indifference to a vote was really indifference. But the female sentiment against the franchise, whatever its size, is positive. It is not negative; it is by no means indifferent.

Some things, sir, are not worth conserving.

But it is an awesome read and it is available on Kindle for $0.00. At five stars, that is an undefined value.

Click "Continue Reading" for more quotes.

Men have votes, so women must soon have votes; poor children are taught by force, so they must soon be fed by force; the police shut public houses by twelve o'clock, so soon they must shut them by eleven o'clock; children stop at school till they are fourteen, so soon they will stop till they are forty. No gleam of reason, no momentary return to first principles, no abstract asking of any obvious question, can interrupt this mad and monotonous gallop of mere progress by precedent. It is a good way to prevent real revolution. By this logic of events, the Radical gets as much into a rut as the Conservative. We meet one hoary old lunatic who says his grandfather told him to stand by one stile. We meet another hoary old lunatic who says his grandfather told him only to walk along one lane.

Chesterton, G. K. (Gilbert Keith) (2012-05-12). What's Wrong with the World (pp. 241-242). . Kindle Edition.


The mob can never rebel unless it is conservative, at least enough to have conserved some reasons for rebelling. It is the most awful thought in all our anarchy, that most of the ancient blows struck for freedom would not be struck at all to-day, because of the obscuration of the clean, popular customs from which they came. The insult that brought down the hammer of Wat Tyler might now be called a medical examination. That which Virginius loathed and avenged as foul slavery might now be praised as free love. The cruel taunt of Foulon, "Let them eat grass," might now be represented as the dying cry of an idealistic vegetarian.

Chesterton, G. K. (Gilbert Keith) (2012-05-12). What's Wrong with the World (pp. 281-282). . Kindle Edition.


What I say is that the communal ideal is not conscious of their existence, and therefore goes wrong from the very start, mixing a wholly public thing with a highly individual one. Perhaps we ought to accept communal kitchens in the social crisis, just as we should accept communal cat's-meat in a siege. But the cultured Socialist, quite at his ease, by no means in a siege, talks about communal kitchens as if they were the same kind of thing as communal laundries. This shows at the start that he misunderstands human nature. It is as different as three men singing the same chorus from three men playing three tunes on the same piano.

Chesterton, G. K. (Gilbert Keith) (2012-05-12). What's Wrong with the World (p. 271). . Kindle Edition.


The things philanthropists barely excuse (or do not excuse) in the life of the laboring classes are simply the things we have to excuse in all the greatest monuments of man. It may be that the laborer is as gross as Shakespeare or as garrulous as Homer; that if he is religious he talks nearly as much about hell as Dante; that if he is worldly he talks nearly as much about drink as Dickens. Nor is the poor man without historic support if he thinks less of that ceremonial washing which Christ dismissed, and rather more of that ceremonial drinking which Christ specially sanctified.

Chesterton, G. K. (Gilbert Keith) (2012-05-12). What's Wrong with the World (pp. 246-247). . Kindle Edition.


I quite understand why Mr. Carnegie has a hatred of Greek. It is obscurely founded on the firm and sound impression that in any self-governing Greek city he would have been killed. But I cannot comprehend why any chance democrat, say Mr. Quelch, or Mr. Will Crooks, I or Mr. John M. Robertson, should be opposed to people learning the Greek alphabet, which was the alphabet of liberty. Why should Radicals dislike Greek?

Chesterton, G. K. (Gilbert Keith) (2012-05-12). What's Wrong with the World (p. 228). . Kindle Edition.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 10:18 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

The trick has always been to adopt the new where it is an improvement and retain the past where it is best. The failures of human progress rarely come from incorrect judgment in each case, but from on person or group of people making those judgements on behalf of the rest.

My prescription for remedy is two-fold: Liberty, and an unfettered marketplace - of both goods and ideas. In terms that Facebook Progs can (perhaps) understand, call it "crowd-sourced progress." It may not happen as fast as advocates of "perfect shopping cart wheels for everyone, always, immediately" may prefer but it makes up for that failing with an oft overlooked feature: The ability to change direction before tens of millions of people die, rather than afterward.

And if only a single ten million lives would be saved, isn't that worth it?

Posted by: johngalt at May 12, 2013 12:38 PM

May 11, 2013

Political Language?

A beloved relative posted this today. I cannot embed, but you'll want to go read the headline on Upworthy.com. "The Earth-Shatteringly Amazing Speech That'll Change The Way You Think About Adulthood."

For those who do not have progressive friends on Facebook: a) what in the hell do you do for aggravation?, and, b) know that Upworthy.com belches out a constant stream of stuff like this which is fawned over by Facebook Progs in search of something really deep. I'm being mean and petty -- but you have not yet watched the video. Watch it coast to coast and tell me I am being harsh.

It's humorous in a David Sedaris -NPR kind of way; you can hear the chattering classes tittering in the audience. Talk about first world problems -- the wheel on his shopping cart sticks! Can't Harry Reid do something about that? Children ride in these carts ferchrissakes!

Yes, life sucks so bad. Your sweet car gets stuck in traffic, and the supermarket is so full of plenty that you have to walk through clean and "over-lit" aisles full of inexpensive varieties of goods to get what you want. The f***ing humanity!

But the solution, kindly provided (that's what makes it soooo amazing!) is to realize everybody else's life sucks too! Maybe worse! Damn, I feel better.

How about you appreciate the affluence that a bad shopping cart wheel is the worst part of your food acquisition experience (vis-a-vis hunting down a mammoth with a spear...)? Or hows and aboutin' you plan ahead to shop at a less congested time. Or order online? Or start a company that delivers groceries to the others who find this unpleasant?

I came here to rant, but I left a comment for my dear cousin:

"I hope this guy does not work the 'suicide hotline.'"

Philosophy Rant Posted by John Kranz at 11:31 AM | What do you think? [2]
But Terri thinks:

Yes my friends you've just spent tons of money and time to get this great education which you really needed to have because only the educated know that big secret found in the lines of a Jimmy Buffet song.

"Life is mostly attitude and timing"

Unbelievable.

Posted by: Terri at May 11, 2013 10:12 PM
But johngalt thinks:

And our parents thought the kids of their generation were worthless, stupid lazy-asses. We were pikers! Today's crop wouldn't know "adulthood" if their Depends undergarment slipped.

Posted by: johngalt at May 12, 2013 12:06 PM

May 10, 2013

We're from the California EPA, and we're here to help

They gave us be-bop. "Soap doesn't work. Toilets don't flush. Clothes washers don't clean. Light bulbs don't illuminate. Refrigerators break too soon. Paint discolors. Lawnmowers have to be hacked. It's all caused by idiotic government regulations that are wrecking our lives one consumer product at a time, all in ways we hardly notice."

Surely, the gas can is protected. It's just a can, for goodness sake. Yet he was right. This one doesn't have a vent. Who would make a can without a vent unless it was done under duress? After all, everyone knows to vent anything that pours. Otherwise, it doesn't pour right and is likely to spill.

It took one quick search. The whole trend began in (wait for it) California. Regulations began in 2000, with the idea of preventing spillage. The notion spread and was picked up by the EPA, which is always looking for new and innovative ways to spread as much human misery as possible. -- Jeffrey Tucker

Hat-tip: Insty


May 9, 2013

Otequay of the Ayday

The common denominator of most of these examples is that they are failures of diplomacy, which is precisely what this administration had promised to be better at.

Barack Obama came into office partly on the basis of criticism of George W. Bush's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. One of the claims he and his supporters made was that diplomacy and "smart power" would be more effective than military force. But having championed diplomacy over war, Obama doesn't really seem to be all that interested in diplomacy, either.

That is the big picture that the Benghazi scandal reveals. -- Robert Tracinski in The Daily Debate



May 8, 2013

Washington. Coolidge. Cruz.

Articulator of principle:

"I think he is the most talented and fearless Republican politician I've seen in the last 30 years."

Carville accurately described the conservative view: "'If we only got someone who was articulate and was for what we were for, we would win elections. And we get these John McCains and these Mitt Romneys and these squishy guys that can't do anything.'" Carville added: "Well, there's one thing this guy is not -- he ain't squishy, not in the least."

Fearless:

"If defending Americans' constitutional liberties and fighting for policies that will spur job growth and economic recovery is [the] Democrats' definition of 'extreme,' it confirms that their convoluted, misguided priorities do not represent the best interests of New Yorkers," a spokeswoman for Cruz, a Princeton and Harvard Law honors graduate and one of just three Hispanics in the Senate, told The Post.

"They [New York Democrats] clearly have bigger problems to deal with than lobbing useless criticisms at a Republican senator coming to town to speak at an event for Republicans," the spokeswoman, Catherine Frazier, continued.

President?

UPDATE (05/09 13:25) Dallas Morning News columnist Wayne Slater

As for Perry, he’s old news. Public Policy Polling announced this week it’s dropping the GOP governor, who barely registers following his bungled White House bid last year, and replacing him with Cruz in future surveys of potential presidential candidates.
But jk thinks:

I certainly like him.

Now don't anybody get me wrong, but . . . I hope to see Senators Cruz and Paul being intemperate in the US Senate for many years. That is an important job. As each gets closer to hearing "Hail to the Chief" when they walk into a room, each will get a little more "handled." I submit that this has happened to Senator Marco Rubio.

Posted by: jk at May 8, 2013 6:45 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yeahbut... I never detected the same quality of philosophical self-confidence from Rubio than I do from Paul or, perhaps surprisingly, from Cruz. Perhaps Paul was the trailblazer, having arrived earlier, but Cruz' penchant for speaking his mind can't be underestimated. (Carville didn't say Rubio or Paul were fearless and talented.) I see Cruz being "handled" about as effectively as was our 40th President, i.e. not much.

Posted by: johngalt at May 8, 2013 6:52 PM
But johngalt thinks:

As for Rubio, I think he's trapped in the gravity field of one Senator McCain. Did you see Cruz' proposed amendment to the immigration bill?

Posted by: johngalt at May 8, 2013 6:54 PM
But jk thinks:

I'm actually concerned about Senator Rand Paul (HOSS - KY). I hoep I am wrong.

Posted by: jk at May 8, 2013 7:37 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Carville's reference was too subtle for my liking. What he meant was, "I think he is the most talented and fearless Republican politician since Ronald Reagan."

Personally, I have reason to believe he could be an even greater president than 40, and hope that it comes to pass so that we may find out.

Posted by: johngalt at May 9, 2013 12:38 PM
But jk thinks:

Now that's an endorsement! I'm in!

Posted by: jk at May 9, 2013 1:01 PM

Benghazi in 5:30

About all you need to need to know.

Benghazi Posted by John Kranz at 4:57 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

LOL - Rep. Jordan (R-Ohio) "Other than the degrees from Michigan it's [your resume] impressive."

Posted by: johngalt at May 9, 2013 2:58 PM
But johngalt thinks:

The most perplexing part of the ongoing Benghazi episode is how Hillary Clinton can sit silently by as the establishment press, in its dutiful effort to portray the Congressional investigation as nothing but an attempt to damage the former Secretary of State politically, repeatedly calls it a "witch hunt."

Posted by: johngalt at May 9, 2013 3:08 PM

President Obama's Commencement Speech

Roger Pilon is less than impressed. In a WSJ Editorial (here free on Cato), Pilon dissects the President's misreading of the Constitution

Civic education in America took a hit on Sunday when President Obama, giving the commencement address at The Ohio State University, chose citizenship as his theme. The country's Founders trusted citizens with "awesome authority," he told the assembled graduates. Really?

Actually, the Founders distrusted us, at least in our collective capacity. That's why they wrote a Constitution that set clear limits on what we, as citizens, could do through government.

Mr. Obama seems never to appreciate that essential point about the American political order. As with his countless speeches that lead ultimately to an expression of the president's belief in the unbounded power of government to do good, he began in Columbus[...]


ThreeSourcers -- you know who you are -- will dig the whole thing.

But johngalt thinks:

Colorado is the Centennial State; Florida, the Sunshine State; I propose history could benefit from one word descriptions of American presidents. President Obama - the Strawman President.

"...as Americans, we are blessed with God-given and inalienable rights, but with those rights come responsibilities - to ourselves, to one another, and to future generations."

No Barry, you are incorrect. Notwithstanding your attempt to "package deal" responsibilities with our rights, the only responsibilities we have vis-a-vis our individual rights is to not infringe on the rights of others.

Posted by: johngalt at May 8, 2013 2:43 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Other than that I love the whole article. But as usual, the biggest error usually comes in the beginning, of a speech or book or theory. This is why Rand repeatedly admonished us to "check your premises."

Posted by: johngalt at May 8, 2013 3:02 PM

Oh-oh.

I'm a natural optimist. Almost nothing can scare me out of my belief in the great American economic engine.

Except:
s_and_p_1875.gif

Posted by John Kranz at 8:21 AM | What do you think? [0]

Review Corner (Bumped to propagate comments)

I gave away the premise of Arnold Kling's The Three Languages of Politics in a Pre-review corner. Kling takes on one of my favorite philosophical questions, videlicet, "How can my Facebook friends be such incredible Gooberheads?"

Perhaps they are and perhaps they are not. Kling suggests that each polity speaks its own language; that Conservatives, Progressives, and Libertarians not only judge policy on different axes as Jonathan Haidt suggests, but that each communicates in a different political language.

Progressives believe in human betterment. They see nearly unlimited potential for humans to improve materially and, more important, morally.

Conservatives believe in human weakness. In Biblical terms, man is "fallen." The dark side of human nature will never be eradicated. It can only be tamed by social institutions, including the family, religion, and government. Take away those institutions, and what emerges is Lord of the Flies.

Libertarians believe in human rationality. People pursue ends, and they act as they do for good reason.


To bring it home, I am always surprised how frequently people just do not recognize liberty and coercion. Good old Republican-voting family members support smoking bans and are receptive to helmet laws, nannyist food directives and the like. When I describe the issue as property rights, they look at me blankly, as if -- wait for it -- I am speaking a different language. Touché, Kling.

Kling and I fit quite well into the L's:

Libertarians also look at government as the ultimate source of the problem. Libertarian economics is closely aligned with the Austrian tradition, and Austrian economists view central banks as the Dennis the Menace of capital markets, distorting interest rates and causing bubbles.

It is impossible not to compare it to Haidt's superb The Righteous Mind. Kling references it and includes an appendix describing it. Where Haidt starts with data and infers some interesting political observations, Kling takes the "why can't we all get along" question head on, using Haidt and other behavioral books to assemble his thesis. I cannot imagine anybody not reading both.

Kling's is brief and direct -- I give it five stars.

Addendum: Blog friend TGreer, commenting on the pre-review corner, applies the scale to politicians (Specifically ones which he knows will torque me...) Kling applies his to journalists and pundits, which is certainly cleaner. Taking FDR's entire 17 terms as New Dealer, War President, and party leader, I would find it hard to shoehorn him into one of Kling's boxes, even though the two Presidents Roosevelt are the archetype of Progressivism. I don't know whether that is a failing of Kling's micro-taxonomy or the lack of purity in actual legislative politics.

UPDATE: John Stossel (High Prince of the "L's") posts this quote to Facebook today:

Liberty is not a means to a political end. It is itself the highest political end. -- Lord Acton

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 12:37 AM | What do you think? [11]
But T. Greer thinks:

Well, I don't think you have to like TR's exchange with JPM to see that Roosevelt wasn't framing things in term of oppressed and oppressor. He was framing things in term of law, right and wrong.


IMHO, one of the admirable things about TR was his belief in the Strenuous Life. He believed that individuals should not accept laziness or ease; that they should try the hard thing, that heroism is always available to those worthy of it. One of his statements on this effect has so inspired me that I put it to memory:

Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.


Where TR gets problematic is that he applied this philosophy of living to national affairs. As he says two sentences above the one just quoted, "As it is with the individual, so it is with the nation." He really believed that governments should act like people; he believed that governments should act like him.

TR's weakness was that he conflated the government with himself. And I don't mean that in the King George, arbitrary gov. type of way (though I suppose you might make that case), but in how he behaved as captain of the executive and how he believed governments ought to behave in general. TR was an energetic guy, always on the look out for adventure, great deeds, and the chance to stand for the ultimate good. He could never just sit by and do nothing. Trust busting was just these heroics on a national scale. It was a fight against barbarity and corruption. Far from seeing himself as champion of the weak or the defenseless, TR saw his role as the guiding hand of the greatest power on Earth - the American people. The government vs. the banks was Lancelot against those evil medieval lords.

Now I think we can agree that this is the wrong way to do things. But it certainly was his of doing them.


And in the end that is what makes this idea of the three languages so interesting. As the Hitler example shows, you can be talking any of three languages and ultimately reach the same conclusions (in this case, that Nazis are plenty bad). TR promoted statism with a civilizational frame of thought; today it is mostly the progressives who argue for larger government powers. They found the same solution from different ends. (Although I will point again that TR would be probably a Republican today... nanny state was not his thing.)

The libertarian movement will succeed, I'd wager, not by convincing everybody to think on the liberty axis, but by convincing people concerned with civilization and/or injustice that increasing the scale of government will only make these problems worse. We've go to be reverse TRs.

Posted by: T. Greer at May 8, 2013 11:45 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Before I assume something that is incorrect, what do you mean by "reverse TR's?"

Posted by: johngalt at May 8, 2013 7:55 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

TR argued for an energetic executive (something we associate with progressives) with the "conservative civilization language." We should reverse the process: that is, use "civilization-conservative" (and "injustice-oppression") language to argue for smaller government.

If people don't understand the liberty/statist line of thought it will be easier to use their language for the right cause than it will be to get them to change their language altogether.

Posted by: T. Greer at May 9, 2013 12:14 AM
But johngalt thinks:

It's difficult to imagine using the language of statism, whether the "civilization-conservative" or "injustice-oppression" variety, to make the case for its opposite - liberty.

I believe everyone understands the liberty/statism dichotomy. The division is between those who fear their own individual failure and those who do not. Or if not "failure" then the class-envy that is continually manufactured by each new crop of statists. In either case the fear or the envy/hatred is unfounded, more so today than ever in history. Statists must be exposed and discredited. All of them.

My thoughts keep returning to jk's terminology, which I believe fuses your proposition with mine. He called it Prosperitarianism. Methinks that we, or at least I, didn't give him enough credit for it at the time.

Posted by: johngalt at May 10, 2013 2:49 PM
But jk thinks:

Perhaps you're right (you're certainly right about my being under-appreciated) that it is hard to use another's language to express your view. What I picked up from Haidt and reinforced by Kling, is that that is their belief/language.

Kling's Oppressed/oppressor is in line with Haidt's harm/care. Your interlocutor does not give a rat's ass about liberty qua liberty. People in his estimation are or would be beholden to McDonalds and Walmart if not government. And if people are lacking food, shelter, health care or free contraception under freedom, what good is it?

I'm not sure it gives you tools to convince. My uberprogressive (let's say Communist) biological brother read the Haidt book and we agreed that neither of us had ever really reached anybody or changed any minds. But it does give a perspective of why or from what perspective they're coming.

Posted by: jk at May 10, 2013 5:31 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

Oh, I think it is possible, though some issues are easy to do it with than others. Take government bail outs for example. Bail outs "destroy the moral hazard of risk" (civilization language), "prop up an entrenched rentier elite" (progressive language), and drastically increase government intervention is an otherwise free market ("libertarian language").

I guess I am living evidence of all this. If we were to take a referendum vote on the issues of the day, I would vote with the libertarians 9 times out of 10. But I am not really a libertarian. On matters of foreign affairs, drug policy, bail outs, and more I vote with the libertarians - but often for different reasons than they do. I utterly reject the "libertarian" idea that humans have limitless potential. I suppose my disposition is too conservative for that. Deep down my abiding concern is staving off barbarity and saving civilization; I just happen to think the concentrated power of unaccountable governments cannot do this. This was the starting point. I came to appreciate libertarian arguments because conservative civilizational types made their case first. (I shudder to think where I'd be if my introduction to libertarian thought had been The Fountainhead or something of that type - would have lost me at the start.)

P.S. On a related note - anybody notice how similar the "radical" right and "radical" left really are? (see this post: Far Left and Far Right: Two Peas in a Pod? ) It might be easier to work with them than we think.

Posted by: T. Greer at May 11, 2013 11:26 PM

May 7, 2013

Headline of the Day

Reters/Yahoo: South Carolina voters decide fate of unqualified celebrity sibling.

Just kidding! It's: "South Carolina voters decide fate of disgraced ex-governor"

But Jk thinks:

Yes! Sanford wins!

Posted by: Jk at May 7, 2013 9:38 PM

Otequay of the Ayday

"[United States Attorney General Eric] Holder's understanding of the United States Constitution is incorrect." -- Kansas Secretary of state Kris W. Kobach

But jk thinks:

If you don't mind it in an intemperate wrapper, ChicksOnTheRight.com has both letters in their post: Kansas To Eric Holder: "Jump Up And Bite Us, And Then Try Reading The Constitution, Whydontcha?"

Posted by: jk at May 7, 2013 3:36 PM
But jk thinks:

....and, um, that would be the same link my blog brother provided... carry on, itchy typing fingers...

Posted by: jk at May 7, 2013 3:51 PM

Not buyin' it

I am all for due process. Rule of law dictates attention to procedure and documentation. The State Constitution need recognize that.

BUT -- fercryinoutloud. The Denver Post reports on Lisa Kay Brumfiel, who has persuaded a Federal Judge to block the upcoming sale of her four-bedroom home "until the judge can decide whether parts of state law are unfair to homeowners facing the loss of their house."

Repeat boilerplate about rule of law here. It seems she is being foreclosed on by a different entity than that from which she procured her mortgage. She contests their standing to collect. Uncontested is that she has lived in her home since 2011 without making any payments.

Brumfiel bought her tri-level home in 2006 for $169,350. It was an interest-only loan with an adjustable rate.

"I thought I could make it work," Brumfiel said.

She soon fell behind in her payments when personal issues forced her to leave her sales job in 2011. She has not paid since.


I think rule of law and due process also dictate that the current mortgage holder can kick the current mortgagee's ass out (bumpkis evictus) after what must be at least 18 months non-payment.

The angle of the story is that she got a Federal Judge involved and that she did it without an attorney. Swell. But I read it as U.S. District Judge William Martinez's willingness to impede lawful if distasteful exercise of property rights's superseding precedent and reason.

Posted by John Kranz at 2:42 PM | What do you think? [3]
But johngalt thinks:

But the federal courts must be able to find some way to weave together the traditions of the law and the newfangled "right to a tri-level home for every American." Where's your HUMANITY brother?

Posted by: johngalt at May 7, 2013 3:15 PM
But AndyN thinks:

By the same (for lack of a better word) reasoning - I can't afford a mortgage on a $170k house, I'd like to live in a $170k house, if I can find a vacant bank-owned $170k house I should just be able to move in and live there.

I wonder if there's a legal term for refusing to relinquish control of someone else's property. It even seems like there ought to be a law against that sort of thing, but if a federal judge says there's not, I'd like a piece of that pie.

Posted by: AndyN at May 7, 2013 3:46 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Surely you understand Andy, that you don't get to stay there just because you want to. You must also "think you can make it work."

Posted by: johngalt at May 8, 2013 2:29 PM

Quote of the Day

The best gateway episode of Buffy. Slate makes the case for "Earshot", saying that "[it] offers the best of Buffy: human themes explored by way of superhuman phenomena and a skillful latticing of playful comedy with suspenseful misdirection, and moments of heart and vulnerability". -- Whedonesque Blog
Television Posted by John Kranz at 1:53 PM | What do you think? [0]

Insurance Salesman-in-Chief

The President can still stop the train wreck that is his signature piece of legislation and legacy. All he has to do is -- make a speech! He's awesome at that!

Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, "senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, is vice provost for global initiatives at the University of Pennsylvania and a former health-care adviser to President Obama." And today's guest editorialist at the WSJ. Emmanuel concedes that enrolling "young invincibles" is required to keep this monstrous ship afloat. A less charitable blogger than me would point out that the plan's fiducial framework is built on those who will pay for services they do not use. But Dr. Emmanuel is undaunted:

Fortunately, there are solutions. First, young people believe in President Obama. They overwhelmingly voted for him. He won by a 23% margin among voters 18-29--just the people who need to enroll. The president connects with young people, too, so he needs to use that bond and get out there to convince them to sign up for health insurance to help this central part of his legacy. Every commencement address by an administration official should encourage young graduates to get health insurance.

Second, we need to make clear as a society that buying insurance is part of individual responsibility. If you don't have insurance and you need to go to the emergency room or unexpectedly get diagnosed with cancer, you are free- riding on others. Insured Americans will have to pay more to hospitals and doctors to make up for your nonpayment. The social norm of individual responsibility must be equated with purchasing health insurance.


I sure feel better -- you? No doubt this addresses all of Cato's concerns.

UPDATE: Heh.
taranto130507.gif

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 1:20 PM | What do you think? [4]
But AndyN thinks:

You know, I keep hearing variations on the "young people believe in President Obama" theme, based on the percentage of the vote he got from probably the lowest of the low information voters. I always wonder, has there been a single example other than their presidential votes that that demographic will do anything that's obviously and immediately counter to their own self-interest just because of Obama's personal appeal?

Posted by: AndyN at May 7, 2013 2:34 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"Convince" them to sign up? It's the law! Doesn't making something "the law" make it magically happen?

And they're supposed to participate in Obamacare (R) to avoid the stigma of "free-riding on others?" Bwaa ha ha haaaa!

Enrolling more "young invincibles" eh? Too bad so many are aborted each year.

Posted by: johngalt at May 7, 2013 3:20 PM
But jk thinks:

@AndyN: well said, man -- I'm going to go out on a limb and answer "no."

@jg: "He won by a 23% margin among voters 18-29 --just the people who need to enroll" And they now get to free ride on their parents' health care until they're 26. They only need to avoid the stigma for three years. C'mon -- for President Obama?

Posted by: jk at May 7, 2013 3:47 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I think you're missing the "directive" to the hipsters, jk. They're supposed to avoid the stigma by NOT free-riding.

Posted by: johngalt at May 8, 2013 12:30 PM

May 6, 2013

Don't Worry -- they take care of YOUR money!

Financial Planning Magazine is agape at the First Family's Poor financial stewardship:

Digging deeper into their finances, the Obamas seem to have an immense amount of what advisors often call low-hanging fruit -- the ability to earn much more with less risk.

Take their mortgage: The Obamas paid $45,046 in mortgage interest in 2012, which appears from the disclosure statement to be at a 5.625% interest rate with Northern Trust. That suggests an outstanding principal balance of about $800,000.

On the other hand, the bulk of their investments are in Treasury notes. Based on the disclosures, I estimate they hold about $3 million in Treasury notes (also held by Northern Trust), yielding 0.71% if averaging a five-year maturity.

By selling some of those Treasuries and paying off the mortgage, they would effectively be getting five more percentage points on the amount; they would also be about $40,000 better off each year before taxes, not to mention being less exposed to notes that could take a hit from possible rising rates.


Whatever, they're swell people. Hat-tip: Prof. Mankiw.

But johngalt thinks:

Paying down or paying off the mortgage would make sense, if they had any intention to ever live there.

Posted by: johngalt at May 7, 2013 11:39 AM

Not Very Neighborly

Hmm:

"The FBI believed there was a terror attack in its planning stages, and we believe there would have been a localized terror attack, and that's why law enforcement moved quickly to execute the search warrant on Friday to arrest Mr. Rogers," FBI spokesman Kyle Loven said Monday.

These PBS guys...

War on Terror Posted by John Kranz at 5:12 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

Numerous calls to Mr. Greenjeans for comment went unanswered.

Posted by: johngalt at May 7, 2013 11:23 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Doh! Make that Mr. McFeeley. I'm a failure.

Posted by: johngalt at May 7, 2013 11:24 AM

Quote of the Day

Which brings me to another belief I should update. Three years ago, after Obamacare passed, I predicted that Obamacare would not result in significant reductions in mortality. I now think that this is more likely to be right than I did before. A number of people have been out there saying that the study vindicates their belief in the health benefits of insurance. I would like to hear them say, in clear and simple language, "After seeing the results from Oregon, I now believe that the US mortality rate will fall even farther than I expected, to . . . " with a number, not a hedge about statistically significant studies, attached. -- Megan McArdle
UPDATE: Same topic, from Robert Tracinski:
Jonathan Chait responds by dismissing the significance of the Oregon study--based not on facts but on an emotional appeal which leads off with a bizarre and unintelligible comparison about "throwing puppies out of skyscraper windows."
If a study found that puppies survive steep falls at a higher rate than expected, then you could say the case for throwing puppies out of skyscraper windows has marginally weakened, but would remain extremely strong. Indeed, data notwithstanding, either throwing puppies out of skyscrapers or throwing people off Medicaid are both acts of sadism.
Take that, Republicans, you puppy-killing sadists!
Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 1:38 PM | What do you think? [0]

May 3, 2013

Campaigning for US Gun Control - Foreign Edition

Do guns in "the hands of criminals and dangerous people" in the United States lead to gun violence in Mexico? President Obama seems to think so:

"Most of the guns used to commit violence here in Mexico come from the United States," President Obama said during a speech at Mexico's Anthropology Museum. "I think many of you know that in America, our Constitution guarantees our individual right to bear arms. And as president, I swore an oath to uphold that right, and I always will."

"But at the same time, as I’ve said in the United States, I will continue to do everything in my power to pass common-sense reforms that keep guns out of the hands of criminals and dangerous people. That can save lives here in Mexico and back home in the United States. It’s the right thing to do," Obama added.

But the single greatest source of American guns in Mexico appears to be the U.S. Government. No, not via Fast and Furious, but via legal "direct commercial sales" authorized by the State Department.

Here's how it works: A foreign government fills out an application to buy weapons from private gun manufacturers in the U.S. Then the State Department decides whether to approve.

And it did approve 2,476 guns to be sold to Mexico in 2006. In 2009, that number was up nearly 10 times, to 18,709. The State Department has since stopped disclosing numbers of guns it approves, and wouldn't give CBS News figures for 2010 or 2011.

But the real outrage is Obama suggesting that the US Constitution has anything to do with Mexican gun "incompetence and corruption." The reason for this strawman is patently obvious.


May 2, 2013

Why now?

News today that the FBI has placed Joanne Chesimard on its Most Wanted Terrorists list. The closest the FBI comes to an explanation why this fugitive, who was broken out of prison by armed confidantes 34 years ago and was put on the US government terrorism watch list in 2005, is now a "most wanted terrorist" is ... the 40th anniversary of her crime.

"Joanne Chesimard is a domestic terrorist who murdered a law enforcement officer execution-style," said Aaron Ford, special agent in charge of our Newark Division. "Today, on the anniversary of Trooper Werner Foerster's death, we want the public to know that we will not rest until this fugitive is brought to justice."

Well, they've known she's been under sanctuary in Cuba for almost 30 years. Why not do this on a prior anniversary? Not knowing any better, I'll speculate it is related to her movement to the terrorism watch list 8 years ago. No other information is given by the FBI, except that Chesimard, aka Assata Shakur (Tupac's aunt) "is only the second domestic terrorist to be added to the list." The first appears to be Daniel Andreas San Diego, a vegan eco-terrorist accused of bombing a San Francisco biotech company in 2003, for whom the "information leading to arrest" reward is $250,000. Chesimard's reward - $2,000,000.

And why did I include this in the Obama Administration category? For this, from the ABC News story: The rapper Common told her story in "A Song for Assata," which caused a stir after Michelle Obama invited him to a White House poetry slam two years ago. Rashid "Lonnie" Lynn a.k.a. 'Common', who traveled to Cuba to meet with Shakur prior to recording the song, has been associated with Progressive Hip-Hop as early as 2000.


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