August 31, 2013

Steven Hayward

We've got an AEI scholar in temporary residence up at CU. Can the LotR organizer ask him to speak?

Posted by nanobrewer at 10:34 PM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

Good point. I think those guys are getting tired of my many suggestions. But as well as he's been treated in Review Corner...

Posted by: jk at September 1, 2013 11:22 AM

Tweet of the Day


Meta-Quote of the Day

And Lose the Name of Action
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er, with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pitch and moment,
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.
So speaks Hamlet, describing the curse of his own paralyzing indecisiveness, at the conclusion of Shakespeare's most famous soliloquy. These are the lines that have been going through my head over the past week as I have watched President Obama agonize over the big question about Syria: to bomb or not to bomb? -- Robert Tracinski
Nails it, I think.

August 30, 2013

Restoring America's Standing in the World

We can thank President Obama for showing the peoples of other nations that Americans are "sophisticated" and not mere reckless "cowboys."


Hollywood Muffs History

It's not just "Inherit the Wind..."

As historians of the 40th president, having written more than a dozen biographies between us, we are troubled by [The Butler]'s portrayal of Reagan's attitudes toward race. We are especially concerned because many Americans readily accept Hollywood depictions of history as factual.

Steven F. Hayward, Paul Kengor, Craig Shirley and Kiron K. Skinner pen a defense of "Dutch" in the WaPo.


August 29, 2013

A Cheer for USAG Eric Holder

Where credit is due. The Denver Post:

The federal government, at least initially, will not stand in the way of marijuana legalization in Colorado or Washington.

In a memo sent out Thursday to federal prosecutors, the Department of Justice said it will not make it a priority to block marijuana-legalization laws in Colorado or Washington or close down recreational marijuana stores, so long as the stores abide by state regulations.


It pains me to say nice things about the Attorney General. But compare this to AG John Ashcroft persecuting (sic) Angel Raich. Woohoo, Eric Holder!

But johngalt thinks:

Maybe the TEA Party would be more popular if we renamed it WEED Party...

Posted by: johngalt at August 30, 2013 11:17 AM

An Article V Convention

There have been several awesome speakers at Brother Bryan's Liberty on the Rocks -- Flatirons and it is a fool's errand to pick a favorite. But fools we may be.

Rob Natleson would clearly be in the running. He spoke about the Article V process to amend the Constitution by the States' calling for a convention. It was a superb talk and the depth of his Q&A answers still astound.

Amendments are cool again with Mark Levin's book on the bestseller list (anybody read it? Correctly or not, I dismiss him as a "talk show host." But the book does sound interesting). Natleson addresses concerns -- as he did in his LOTR-F talk -- about a "runaway convention." This time, raised by Phyllis Schlafly.

As was true of earlier interstate gatherings, the convention for proposing amendments is called to propose solutions to discrete, pre-assigned problems. There is no record of any federal convention significantly exceeding its pre-assigned mandate -- not even the Constitutional Convention, despite erroneous claims to the contrary.

The state legislatures' applications fix the subject-matter for a convention for proposing amendments. When two-thirds of the states apply on a given subject, Congress must call the convention. However, the congressional call is limited to the time and place of meeting, and to reciting the state-determined subject.

In the unlikely event that the convention strays from its prescribed agenda (and the commissioners escape recall), any "proposal" they issue is ultra vires ("beyond powers") and void. Congress may not choose a "mode of ratification," and the necessary three-quarters of the states would not ratify it in any event.

Contrary to Mrs. Schlafly's claim that "Article V doesn't give any power to the courts to correct what does or does not happen," the courts can and do adjudicate Article V cases. There has been a long line of those cases from 1798 into the 21st century.

Government Posted by John Kranz at 12:09 PM | What do you think? [4]
But Keith Arnold thinks:

No, no, for the love of God, Montresor, NO.

The Constitution was already have - minus a number of double-digit amendments, of course - is fine, FINE. The solution is not to change the Constitution, it's to practice the Constitution we already have, AS IT'S GORRAM WRITTEN. Which hasn't happened since, I dunno, about 1933, but that's another story.

I'd fret a mite about the mischief that could be done by people with an ax to grind, volunteering as delegates to an Article V. Who do you want to see begging for a seat - Rick Santorum? Cindy She-hag? Who controls who gets to have a say? Precisely how much say in the process do you want to allow California have?

Here's a modest proposal: let Texas write it, and I'll stop complaining. Or Northern Colorado. Or me.

Nota bene to my favorite Coloradans: miss you all, and good luck. When you secede, Cecile and I might be booking a U-Haul. Sorry 'bout my long absence...

Posted by: Keith Arnold at August 29, 2013 8:33 PM
But Jk thinks:

I was not completely clear, Keith. Was that a "no?"

Natelson described the process, and there is a pretty tight procedure around it. Delegates are limited in scope. Certainly a point on what new amendments are worthwhile.

I'm going to suggest that of 27 amendments, 18 and 21 cancel, 16 and 17 are evil, 23 is iffy,14 and 11 have been misinterpreted. Not so bad to end slavery, get the bill of rights, and expand the franchise.

Posted by: Jk at August 29, 2013 10:17 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I'd sooner consent to KA (welcome back!) writing a Constitution than the North Colorado bunch. I back their, secession?, effort but not just to see them replace leftist statism with Christian moralist statism.

Posted by: johngalt at August 30, 2013 11:33 AM
But nanobrewer thinks:


When is Steven Hayward going to speak to LotR? He's local this year! I'll book long in advance for that!

Posted by: nanobrewer at August 31, 2013 9:07 PM

Quote of the Day

Attention, Democrats: our president is considering unilateral strikes against a Baathist dictator in the Middle East with a small coaltion and no U.N. authorization over WMDs, starting a war . . . that Donald Rumsfeld opposes.

The Washington Post's liberal columnist, Eugene Robinson, supports it.

It's like everyone in U.S. politics from 2003 just decided to trade uniforms and play for the opposing team simultaneously. Have Cindy Sheehan, the Dixie Chicks, and Janeane Garofalo called for air strikes yet? When does Michael Moore unveil his pro-war film? When do AEI, Halliburton, and Toby Keith attend an anti-war rally? -- Jim Geraghty

But johngalt thinks:

And it's one, two, three what are we fightin' for! As for me I don't give a damn. I ain't goin' to ... Aleppo?

Posted by: johngalt at August 30, 2013 11:26 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Damn-ass-cuss! ;)

Posted by: johngalt at August 30, 2013 11:30 AM

Not a Big "Atlas Shrugged" Fan I'm Guessing

Blog friend sc emails a link to this jewel. I hope he won't mind my quoting: 'This is, next to Gloria Steinem's "First Grope's Free" editorial in the NYT, the greatest essay on earth. Liberal horse shit at its most unapologetic finest and no charge. Is this a great country or what?"

Definitely a great country, man. A great country.

If You Send Your Kid to Private School, You Are a Bad Person. A manifesto.

You are a bad person if you send your children to private school. Not bad like murderer badóbut bad like ruining-one-of-our-nationís-most-essential-institutions-in-order-to-get-whatís-best-for-your-kid bad. So, pretty bad.

I am not an education policy wonk: Iím just judgmental. But it seems to me that if every single parent sent every single child to public school, public schools would improve. This would not happen immediately. It could take generations. Your children and grandchildren might get mediocre educations in the meantime, but it will be worth it, for the eventual common good. (Yes, rich people might cluster. But rich people will always find a way to game the system: That shouldn't be an argument against an all-in approach to public education any more than it is a case against single-payer health care.)


Ruin your child's life -- it's for the common good!

UPDATE: James Pethokoukis responds and tweets:


UPDATE II:

Allison Benedikt is a bad person. Not bad like murderer bad ó but bad like asking-actual-families-to-ignore-their-love-of-their-children-in-pursuit-of-her-ideology bad. So, pretty bad. Iím just judgmental.
[...]
It has been proposed that this is all actually a brilliant Swiftian satire. I doubt it, though, since Benedikt is the managing editor of Slate's DoubleX, which is to humorless leftism what rural Australia is to bauxite. -- Walter Olsen (The thing read whole.)

But T. Greer thinks:
"There are a lot of reasons why bad people send their kids to private school. Yes, some do it for prestige or out of loyalty to a long-standing family tradition or because they want their children to eventually work at Slate. But many others go private for religious reasons, or because their kids have behavioral or learning issues, or simply because the public school in their district is not so hot. None of these are compelling reasons. Or, rather, the compelling ones (behavioral or learning issues, wanting a not-subpar school for your child) are exactly why we should all opt in, not out."

I had to read this twice to make sure I read it correctly. The only compelling reasons someone should want to send their kid to a different school is because of behavioral issues? Religious traditions count for nothing? Maybe your kid getting bullied counts for nothing? That other schools - or home schools - might not just help your child's education, but developing their moral character counts for nothing?

I cannot understand this. I am trying. Really hard. But it is beyond me.

And she even admits that this will only help the common good, like when your grand children start going to school.

What? Anybody want to try and predict the structure of our education in system in 60 years? Anybody imagine someone in the 1860s giving advice to their friends about how they should school their children for the sake of the schooling system in 1920?

Hubris.

Posted by: T. Greer at August 29, 2013 5:47 PM
But AndyN thinks:

Sounds like she's taking a single issue approach to the let it burn philosophy. Personally, I'm about a hair's breadth away from voting straight ticket democrat because if the country's going to go to hell in a handbasket anyway we might as well get it over with so we can get on with the rebuilding. It's interesting that of all the things going wrong in this country, education seems to be the only thing this dullard thinks we should all fail at together so it will eventually get better.

Or maybe it isn't. Maybe this is just the first in a series, and next week she'll be explaining how we all need to move into subsidized housing so that eventually the government will be pressured into making subsidized housing livable. And the week after she'll be explaining how we all need to drive Volts so that Government Motors will be encouraged to build a car that most of us don't think sucks.

Posted by: AndyN at August 29, 2013 10:25 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

Taranto nailed it, I think, when he notes that she conflates a common good with the common good but after noting we grant her rather huge presumption that the public schools can be made better by the roughly 5% of students who currently go elsewhere.

More generally, it's another excuse for the lousiness that socialism offers and how we should be thankful.

Posted by: nanobrewer at August 30, 2013 12:09 AM

August 28, 2013

Quote + Picture of the Day

A couple of retired Marines (Semper Fi!) discuss making the perfect cup of coffee.

coffee_and_guns.gif

Hat-tip: Insty


August 27, 2013

Now That's Hope and Change!

Yahoo/AP:

After just one year, some schools around the country are dropping out of the healthier new federal lunch program, complaining that so many students turned up their noses at meals packed with whole grains, fruits and vegetables that the cafeterias were losing money.

But...but....but...really smart highly educated people in Washington developed those menus! Why, if we can't centralize school lunches, how will we ever centralize health care?

Posted by John Kranz at 5:55 PM | What do you think? [5]
But AndyN thinks:

I had a conversation with a client last week who's a recent retiree from a big city east coast school district about this very subject. I was actually surprised because she's a fairly reliable Democrat and she just out of the blue started hammering Michelle Obama about her part in this debacle. According to her, the problem isn't that there are too many whole grains and veggies, or that kids just aren't used to eating this kind of food, the problem is that it's unappetizing swill.

And as the article mentions, the students who are going to be stuck with it are the same ones who are stuck with every other crappy leftist nanny state innovation - the ones who are too poor to have other choices.

Posted by: AndyN at August 27, 2013 11:15 PM
But jk thinks:

Well said, sir.

Public housing, public schools, public sector unions, public toilets, public lunches. Yet somehow, I am the hater.

Posted by: jk at August 28, 2013 10:39 AM
But johngalt thinks:

An anecdote: I may have told this story before, about a cattle branding I was invited to attend in western South Dakota. Having objective knowledge that Sam Adams Lager is a good tasting, quality beer and Bud Light is fusel oil, I recommended the former over the latter for refreshing the well-worked cowpokes. They sat, silent and forlorn, at the foot of a fence until the Bud Light keg was tapped. "I sure like this better than that 'dark beer," said one of them. "You can lead a horse to good beer," thought I.

But in this case it seems the "healthier food" really was crap.

Posted by: johngalt at August 28, 2013 2:27 PM
But jk thinks:

If only William Jennings Bryan's forces had prevailed. We'd have local control of the schools. But no, you godless Darwinians...

Posted by: jk at August 28, 2013 7:35 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

Cold gruel for lunch, cold economy (per Prof. Gordon), cold uncaring doctors-cum postal workers, it's what we proles deserve, don't ya know!

Seriously, I've been hearing lefties tell me forever that we can't sustain that horrible growth of ... whatever it was when Republicans were in office. Don't know much about history...

Just wait for Genetic Control's directive on restricting humanoid height (so they can cram us twice as deep into the buildings they just bought) - anybody remember Foxtrot ("Get em out by Friday")?

Posted by: nanobrewer at August 29, 2013 1:34 AM

Juan Williams says some things that need to be said

"[March leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.] is not one who would simply cry, as you were saying, over the awful lyrics and the bad schools," he said. "He would act. He would stand up. That's the tradition of Dr. King -- stand up and act against bad schools that are condemning these kids to useless lives because they never have an opportunity to climb that ladder of upward mobility. And the civil rights challenge of this generation is education, and Dr. King would never allow anybody to buy his silence, to buy him off, to sell out the kids and that's what's happening right now."

"I look today at some of the reports on union spending -- it's unbelievable," Williams continued. "[The American Federation of Teachers] -- you know, AFT and their affiliates in New York, tens of thousands of dollars going to Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and NAACP. Same thing with the National Education Association -- NEA. Why? Because they know that they don't want those civil rights leaders to ever stand up and say yes to charter schools, yes to vouchers, yes to school reform. Yes to Rahm Emanuel in Chicago saying that we need the black community. Poor people need better schools, and you can't make excuses at the cost of our children and our children's future." -- Juan Williams


Video at the link -- it's pretty powerful. (4:48 !!!)

UPDATE: Williams is on the WSJ Ed Page as well, comparing the music that fueled the civil rights marches with today's misogynist rap lyrics.

And so they sang in Washington: "Yes, how many years can some people exist before they're allowed to be free? Yes, how many times can a man turn his head, pretending that he just doesn't see? The answer my friend is blowin' in the wind, the answer is blowin' in the wind."

Sam Cooke, the black gospel and rhythm-and-blues singer began performing the Dylan song immediately after the march. He had been working on a song about the hurt he felt as a black man living with racism yet also with hope for better times. In December 1963, Cooke recorded "A Change Is Gonna Come." The song became a hit on black radio, another anthem of yearning for a nation without racial rancor.

"I go to the movie and I go downtown, somebody keep telling me don't hang around," Cooke wrote. "It's been a long time coming but I know a change is gonna come, oh yes it will."

But johngalt thinks:

I hear more and more of this sentiment. It is one of the consequences of so many big government black politicians in the administration that is healthy and evolutionary, and yet those politicians can take no credit for the progress as it happens in spite of them, not because of them.

Posted by: johngalt at August 28, 2013 2:19 PM

The Conversion is complete

Gotta-Sting Headline from the AP:

obama_bush_playbook.gif

Updated now to "On Syria, is Obama treading in Bush's Iraq footsteps?" Jim Geraghty said "it's like the teams switched uniforms at halftime."

I do not trust this administration to locate and support the correct contingent of thugs. Readers have watched me reassess my neocon views, but at least I trusted that President Bush was pursuing a Sharanskyite, liberty agenda. Watching President Obama in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Egypt does not give me warm fuzzies that he will do the right thing in Syria. If there is a right thing in Syria, which I find unproven.

But schadenfreude is like Jello®; even in dark situations, it can be enjoyed in large quantities.

But johngalt thinks:

I was asked yesterday for my opinion on Syrian intervention. A hearty "hell no" spilled forth. Later in the evening, upon thoughtful reflection, I modified it to "let them fight each other and then kill the winner."

Posted by: johngalt at August 28, 2013 2:15 PM

August 26, 2013

Pethokoukis-McCloskey in 2016!

(We can fake either a Hawaiian Birth Certificate if needed; I think there's a website now.)

James Pethokoukis takes on "a gloomy 2012 research paper from Northwestern University economist Robert Gordon, 'Is U.S. Economic Growth Over?' In the paper, Gordon makes two unsettling claims. First, technological innovation is unlikely to be as fast in the future as it has been over the past 250 years. And even if it does somehow keep pace, a range of headwinds -- demography, education, inequality, globalization, climate change, and the overhang of consumer and government debt -- means economic growth overall will slow. And almost all the gains will go to the top 1% of the income distribution."

Curse those one-percenters! No, actually, Pethokoukis, answers with a Deirdre McCloskey style argument, backed up by Prof. McCloskey, with a little Schumpeter thrown in:

Wallace-Wells has it completely backwards, however. Two hundred and fifty years ago, something amazing happened in Western culture, something that never happened, say, in Ancient Rome or dynastic China. The Dutch and British and then Americans began talking about and thinking about and treating the commerce class, the middle class, differently. The West became a business-admiring civilization that began treating innovators -- and the creative destruction they unleashed -- with respect and dignity.

Not a "blip." And no reason it could not continue:
My take on Gordon's theory is this: US economic policy -- and that of many advanced economies -- is so horrifically suboptimal right now that there is tremendous upside to Washington getting its act together to create a better economic ecosystem for the private sector and American workers.

I don't know that we'll get Washington's act together. My optimism waxes and wanes. But we cannot allow Washington's enablers to deny the McCloskey Fact: that this growth happened and why.

Posted by John Kranz at 6:19 PM | What do you think? [0]

Harriet

Non-Facebook friends may have missed the really important news. The lovely bride and I adopted a Havanese:

Sweet Harriet was rescued from a hoarding/neglect situation at the breeder. Over one hundred dogs were removed. She is four years old but has had very little socialization. She's a might skittish but very sweet and affectionate when you win her trust.

I had never heard of the breed. As the National Dog of Cuba, we're focusing on proud people with a rich heritage and a brilliant musical legacy and less on the island's recent politics. She is the size of a housecat, but without the hyper, small-dog personality.

Posted by John Kranz at 6:01 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

I'm not a big fan of "yapper dogs" but that'n is pretty cute. A welcome addition to le condo d'amour, to be sure.

Posted by: johngalt at August 28, 2013 2:13 PM
But jk thinks:

Yet another point of agreement.

Her temperament is very unyapperish. It could possibly develop and present as she settles in better, but by then I will be besotted and won't notice.

Posted by: jk at August 28, 2013 3:19 PM

All Hail Taranto!

It reminds us of this dude whose girlfriend dumped him: "I've met somebody else."

"Who?" he demanded.

"His name is Jerry, and he works for the NSA."

"Why?" he pleaded. "What's he got that I don't have?"

"He listens to me." -- BOTW

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 5:09 PM | What do you think? [2]
But evden eve nakliyat thinks:

parmaklarńĪnńĪza sańülńĪk tebrikler

Posted by: evden eve nakliyat at August 26, 2013 8:01 PM
But jk thinks:

"Congratulations on your fingers health" according to Google.

Posted by: jk at August 26, 2013 8:26 PM

Don't Want to Hear it!

My Twitter feed was abuzz with high dudgeon (in 140 character increments) with people who were upset at the raunchiness of last night's MTV Video Music Awards.

With all due respect, world, what were you expecting? I get offended less easily than you and I wasn't watching. Why were you?

Rant Posted by John Kranz at 4:19 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

I have two words for Miley Cyrus: Cheryl Brooks.

Posted by: johngalt at August 28, 2013 2:11 PM

Quote of the Day

The Quote Maestro:

All third-party systems are crappy and inefficient. But socialized health care has at least the great clarifying simplicity of equality of crappiness: liberté, égalité, merde. It requires a perverse genius to construct a "health" "care" "reform" that destroys everything from religious liberty to full-time employment, while requiring multitudes of new tax collectors and other bureaucrats and ever fewer doctors and nurses. The parallel public/private systems of Continental Europe cost about 10 percent of GDP. The Obamacare monstrosity blends all the worst aspects of a private system (bureaucracy, restricted access, co-pays) with all the worst aspects of a government system (bureaucracy, restricted access, IRS agents) and sucks up twice as much GDP, ever less of which is spent on "health care" and ever more on the intervening layers of third, fourth, fifth, and sixth parties. -- Mark Steyn

But johngalt thinks:

And who is surprised, as the third, fourth, fifth and sixth parties WROTE it.

There's a great T-shirt idea:

Obamacare: Liberte Egalite Merde
Posted by: johngalt at August 26, 2013 2:54 PM
But jk thinks:

I'll take a red one in LT if you have it.

Posted by: jk at August 26, 2013 3:49 PM

I Laughed

Jim Geraghty's Morning Jolt newsletter:

john_kerry_save_the_day.gif

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 10:49 AM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

Mightn't be a bad T-Shirt either!

Posted by: jk at August 26, 2013 5:19 PM

Objectivist Food Fight!

At The Objective Standard Blog, Robert Begley takes up a ThreeSources-esque argument. He rightfully dishes approbation for T. J. Rodgers's Wall Street Editorial "Targeting the Wealthy Kills Jobs." But...

But he also shares disappointment that the argument is not rights-based.

Such an answer implies that the reason Rodgers should be free to use his wealth as he sees fit is so that he can provide more jobs for others. But the reason a producer should be free to keep and use his wealth is not that this will enable him to create jobs for others. Of course, it will--but that's not the justification. The justification for a producer's freedom to keep and use his wealth is that he has a moral right to keep and use it, a right grounded in the fact that he produced the wealth through his own thinking and effort--and the fact that he, like all individuals, is morally an end in himself, not a means to the ends of others.

It is easier to follow the argument when you're not in it and I take Begley's point. At the same time it strikes me as an argument not worth having. One of the greatest Capitalists of our generation shares a true defense of freedom -- not the rent-seeking "business" pep talk we get from so many of his peers. If T.J. Rodgers thought his right to earn was beamed down from a satellite circling a Jovian moon by sentient badgers, I'd be tempted to say "cool."

We can choose to argue or not, but I wanted to share a story. I ran into blog brother Bryan at our place of employment (the Capitalist running dogs who supervise us allow a slight bit of conversation....) The lovely bride and I shared our enthusiasm for the 51st State Initiative. Bryan was sympathetic but dismissive. I hope I paraphrase fairly when I say "good idea, but they have no chance in hell; not sure I care to devote too much energy toward such a quixotic task."

The talk then turned toward Objectivism and the need to step outside politics and train everyone in ethics. Y'know, an easy and attainable goal...

Chains yanked.

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 10:19 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Ironically, I think TJ is a Randian (now an accepted term?) and would agree with Begley's analysis. Yet he still makes the case on altruistic grounds. Why? Because he wants to win the day, not transform civilization. I want to do both, so I endorse making both cases. As often as possible.

Posted by: johngalt at August 26, 2013 4:21 PM

August 25, 2013

Review Corner

If you want to sell a book to jk, there is no better line than "Everything you know about x is wrong." I'm a sucker for that if x is of any interest. In this case, x = the Scopes trial. Click "purchase."

Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America's Continuing Debate Over Science and Religion by Edward J. Larson was written for people (like me) who know about the Scopes trial from watching Spencer Tracy in "Inherit the Wind." The mishandling of the trial's legacy gets an entire chapter at the end, but the play was written by Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee to combat McCartyism. Mister Brady is a caricature of William Jennings Bryan, and the origins of the trial are completely rewritten to portray the nefarious backwards forces that so frightened the authors. ("Tailgunner Joe" has spawned a lot of Hollywood agitprop, that's a big subject for another day.)

Not that "Summer" or Mr. Larson debunk the central point: Clarence Darrow, the nation's premier litigator and William Jennings Bryan, its premier orator, descend on a small town in Tennessee.

Darrow had gone to tiny Dayton, Tennessee, for precisely this purpose, with Bryan as his target. Bryan had come to defend the power of local majorities to enact a law--his law--to ban teaching about human evolution in public schools. Two hundred reporters had followed to record the epic encounter. They billed it as "the trial of the century" before it even began. No one cared about the defendant, John Scopes, who had volunteered to test the nation's first antievolution statute. The aged warriors had sparred at a distance for over a week without delivering any decisive blows. Now they went head to head, when Bryan vainly accepted Darrow's challenge to testify to his faith on the witness stand as a Bible expert.

The movie shows the youthful Scopes wrestled from his classroom. Actually, it was an ACLU test case and they actively recruited a defendant. He was treated fairly well except in the appeal when they started the trial not noticing that the defendant was not present. Bryan had worked with the legislature on the law but suggested there be no penalty. He even offered to pay Scopes's $100 fine.

It was about ideas to Bryan and Darrow. For that I will always respect the Nebraska populist. His politics was left wing, his social policy was authoritarian, his monetary policy was inflationary. My philosophy is completely orthogonal to the man Larson calls "The Commoner." But his lifelong friendship with VP Charles Dawes put him in high esteem. In this book, I completely disagree with Bryan but cannot escape his honesty and integrity.

I have a bad habit of liking my intellectual opponents in history. Researching a project, I came to like Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney and thought that Justice Curtis, who dissented in Dred Scott, and bravely resigned, was something of a prig. Likewise, Clarence Darrow is the white knight of reason and enlightenment in this tale, but I'd rather quaff a lemonade with Bryan that a cold beer with Darrow.

Choose sides however you wish, but the brain trust in this trial is impressive. Two of Wilson's Secretaries of State participate on different sides, Bryan won the Democratic nomination three times (nit: Larson says "subsequent;" it was not: 1896, 1900 and 1908). Charles Evans Hughes, 1916 GOP nominee and future Secretary of State, was consulted and was in line to take over for Darrow if it went to the US Supreme Court.

It was a show to some. The city fathers of Dayton thought it would put their small berg on the map while urbane Tennesseans deplored the association fundamentalism. But to many -- certainly Bryan, Darrow, and the ALCU -- it was a war of ideas.

By 1925, the warfare model of science and religion had become ingrained into the received wisdom of many secular Americans. Clarence Darrow imbibed it as a child in Kinsman, Ohio, where his fiercely anticlerical father eagerly read Draper, Huxley, and Darwin, and made sure that his son did too. As a Chicago lawyer and politician in the 1890s, Darrow quoted Draper and White in his public addresses and denounced Christianity as a "slave religion" that "sought to strangle heresy by building fires around heretics."

Bryan resigned his position as SecState in opposition to WWI. Popular books at the time drew a line to evolution as a keystone of German/Prussian philosophy. I'm a close descendant of Charles Darwin and quite convinced that his theory holds up well. But one can see Bryan taking this crusade up in the wake of the war.

And that's why this book gets five stars. It provides a factual narrative of events (contra Inherit the Wind) and it provides a nuanced look at the dramatis personae.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 9:56 AM | What do you think? [3]
But dagny thinks:

@ JK,

I'm a little confused, what is the factual narrative that differs from the movie? Just that Scopes volunteered to be a test case? That is one of my favorite movies BTW.

Posted by: dagny at August 26, 2013 12:03 PM
But jk thinks:

Mine too. I have not seen it in forever, but it made quite an impression on me as a young man.

Much of it might be a matter of degree, though the playwrights open instructions by asserting that the record is not factual in time, setting, or facts. It is a trial and facts matter. I doubt you'd enjoy Gov. Huckabee and Sen. Santorum making an "edutainment" film about Roe v. Wade.

I don't know that you're going to applaud the cleaned-up, actual William Jennings Bryan, but he was portrayed cartoonishly. Bryan was at heart always a populist and he was fighting for the majority of a community that was paying the bills for the school and Mister Scopes's salary to exercise control over the curricula.

This all precedes (perhaps paves) the incorporation of the 14th Amendment in the Warren Court which has been a mixed bag for the liberty lover. While Darrow perhaps saw it in the "Inherit the Wind" Science and reason versus religion terms, Bryan fought for majority rule and local control of schools.

Again, I don't see you or me switching sides, but the Bryan who implored the legislators not to enact a penalty and offered to pay Scopes's fine presents a different picture than the brownshirts' ripping the guy out of the classroom so that "Mr. Brady" could heap some hell-fire preachin' on him.

(Do you also like Paul Newman in "The Verdict?")

Posted by: jk at August 26, 2013 12:35 PM
But jk thinks:

And: Bryan's failure to handle Darrow was accentuated. He did allow for a non-literal interpretation of creation days, which enflamed many of his supporters.

Bryan (really the Orator Ezra Klein thinks Obama is) had closing arguments prepared. He agreed to take the stand believing that Darrow would have his way in cross-examination, but that Bryan would make his point in closing arguments. Darrow suggested a guilty plea after destroying Bryan on the stand, precluding his arguments. They were later published, but the world lost a chance at a second Cross of Gold speech.

Posted by: jk at August 26, 2013 12:49 PM

August 23, 2013

Coolidge

Peter Robinson interviews Amity Shlaes about her magisterial "Coolidge" [Review Corner].

coolidge_shlaes.jpg

It's 45 minutes, but I highly recommend it.

Posted by John Kranz at 2:23 PM | What do you think? [0]

Tweet of the Day

There have been three epic Twitter events: The Green Revolution in Iran, #Sharknado, and Ben Affleck cast as Batman.


Should've Supported Him

When Thaddeus McCotter bowed out of the 2012 Republican Presidential race, everything I read made me wish I had taken his candidacy more seriously. I guess you should have a certain resumé, but his ideas and style are right up ThreeSources Avenue.

Another reminder of what we missed: He served in Congress and ran for president of the United States. His Twitter profile, @ThadMcCotter reads "Guitar Player."

Come back, Thadd -- we need you!

RNC2012 Posted by John Kranz at 11:13 AM | What do you think? [1]
But Ron thinks:

I second that!

Posted by: Ron at August 25, 2013 6:44 PM

August 22, 2013

Meanwhile, in Buffy News...

Joss Whedon on "The Empire Strikes Back:"

To which your EW interviewer blurted: "You think Empire had a bad ending?"

"Well, it's not an ending," Whedon explained about the 1980 film, which had a cliffhanger leading into the next entry of the series, Return of the Jedi. "It's a Come Back Next Week, or in three years. And that upsets me. I go to movies expecting to have a whole experience. If I want a movie that doesn't end I'll go to a French movie. That's a betrayal of trust to me. A movie has to be complete within itself, it can't just build off the first one or play variations."


And a whack at Twilight.

Art Posted by John Kranz at 7:00 PM | What do you think? [0]

An Objectivist Review of Firefly

You're welcome.

Each of them has a defined self-interest. Usually, those coincide, thus the crew can function. Often, however, their values are in conflict as their different goals require independent choices in each situation.

The ship's hired gun, Jayne Cobb, was bought out from the men who hired him to kill Malcolm Reynolds. Cobb says, and Reynolds understands, that if the deal is ever good enough, he will turn Reynolds over to the Alliance. Yet, Jayne Cobb is there, at the ready, when he is needed because it is in his self-interest to do so.

"... value is objective (not intrinsic or subjective); value is based on and derives from the facts of reality ... Every proper value-judgment is the identification of a fact: a given object or action advances man's life (it is good): or it threatens man's life (it is bad or an evil). ... since every fact bears on the choice to live, every truth necessarily entails a value-judgment, and every value-judgment necessarily presupposes a truth. "Fact and Value" by Leonard Peikoff, Ph.D. here.


Television Posted by John Kranz at 6:11 PM | What do you think? [0]

Not Being There

Joseph Epstein is a wee bit curmudgeonly in his column by the same name. Epstein -- like me -- enjoys watching sports at home. He's grouchier than me, but we share one peeve:

Pro basketball games, I note, no longer allow any time for repose. Once a time-out is called, out come the dancing girls, miniature blimps, acrobats, jugglers, magicians -- everything but human sacrifices. Sports promoters seem to believe that, as on radio, there should be no dead time during a game: something must be happening every second. Silence is prohibited. The eye must have something to engage it at all times.

Hockey is my favorite sport. I grew up watching minor league play. If my advertising-exec father could not get free passes, one could cut tickets from a package of Bar-S Hot Dogs. When the Quebec Nordiques became the Colorado Avalanche, the speed, quality of play, and ticket prices went up significantly.

But I tired of attending games before my health made it difficult. The bad 70s music at every whistle becomes tiresome. They're selling all the tickets they can print and I don't expect they miss me. But I continually wonder how many fans actually like hockey. I think those who do are watching at home.

No bag is more mixed for the couch potato than technology and sports. Technology can make viewing sports events on the scene at ball parks, stadiums, and tennis courts more irritating, as in the instance of the Jumbotron, while making viewing them at home more pleasing. Owing to DVRs, replays, slow-motion cameras, and the rest, watching sports on television makes the couch potato feel in better control of the game experience. I haven't been to more than five or six hockey games in my life, but at none of them have I ever actually seen a goal get scored; I only saw people around me jump to their feet and begin to scream. Only through television replay, usually entailing a slow-motioning of the action, have I seen goals scored. Reliance on replays applies to so many other fast-action moments in sports.

I understand bad music is coming to the NFL this year. Load up the 'fridge...

Sports Posted by John Kranz at 2:08 PM | What do you think? [4]
But Steve D thinks:

'The bad 70s music at every whistle becomes tiresome.'

If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. That music, only the toughest fans can endure; bad 70s music (like fighting) is a hockey (Canadian) tradition Americans always want to suppress, going back at least to the 1950s. Ha!

Posted by: Steve D at August 22, 2013 2:54 PM
But jk thinks:

Heh. I always enjoy watching the 1956 Wings-Habs Stanley Cup Final. Having the TiVo, I can fast forward through the Zeppelin tunes...

Posted by: jk at August 22, 2013 3:03 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I've never been overstimulated at an Avs game. The Nuggets dancing girls are a win/lose proposition if you ask me. Cheesy, yes, but fun to look at.

Also, some might be impressed that I just corresponded with Jeff Beck via email.

Posted by: johngalt at August 22, 2013 4:13 PM
But jk thinks:

!!!! Very impressed !!! Ask him how he got that sustain on "'Cause we've ended as lovers."

Cheerleaders/dancers get a pass because you can look at them or not (at least theoretically... Well....)

Duke Ellington taught us that music is the space in between the notes. So, too, is a critical part of sports the tension and uncertainty between plays/pitches/face-offs. TiVo rocks, but power-watching the game to escape the breaks decreases the excitement.

I would chat with a companion about "wasn't that a great save" or "are you going to eat the rest of that hot dog" or "how could that blind runt of a pig referee have missed that hooking?" But - the second the whistle blows "AAAAAAAAAAH-EEEE-YAHHHH AHHH!"

Posted by: jk at August 22, 2013 4:42 PM

Malware Alert!

Searching Bing® for "Kardashian site:threesources.com" (Oh my, some interesting things come up when you type "Kard" into an AJAX search engine...) I see that our humble home is quarantined off for malware.

The world's worst SysAdmin has created a Bing webmaster account to better diagnose our syphilitic server and someday repair our besmirched reputation. (And, when done, we can do some analytics which would be interesting).

I'll keep you informed, but wash your hands thoroughly after reading ThreeSources.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:47 AM | What do you think? [2]
But jk thinks:

ThreeSources gets an all-clear from the hosting company. The collectivists can't bring us down!

I need to pursue redemption with Microsoft which is something of a complicated process.

Posted by: jk at August 22, 2013 6:18 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Well done, Kemosabe!

Posted by: johngalt at August 23, 2013 2:46 AM

Ayn Rand & Kim Kardashian II

I still don't know what a Kardashian is. I'm told to look down on them. When I inquire "what is wrong with the Kardashians?" my rational and eloquent friends stutter and babble. I guess it's like Emmanuel Goldstein, but their TV show is longer than two minutes.

I've never seen the show. I have seen Kim on magazine covers; she is an attractive young lady. She married a rapper and gave their baby a funny name. Okay, did she gas the Jews, enslave Europe, kill all the educated people in Cambodia? Low bars, yes, but my friends' reactions are on that scale.

ThreeSourcers not convinced by previous entreaties should consider this: President Obama finds their lifestyle "too opulent." Pontificating either on Martha's Vineyard, or the White House, or his private 747, our Chief executive suggested "Kim and Kanye have been influencing the younger generation to be obsessed with wealth and money."

Mom is not pleased:

'But, I wasn't aware that you could only set the bar so high and that we could only dream so big,' Kris told the sympathetic studio audience.

Kris chided the Columbia University and Harvard Law School graduate for pointing out that Kim and Kanye live in a 10,000-square-foot house.

'I bet the President has some friends with 10,000 square foot houses and he probably wouldnít mind going over there when asking them to have a party for campaigning for dollars to run for president,' Kris said.


Again, celebrity is capricious. I don't think I'll tune in to the show (I should see some), but if her worst crime is making young people want more . . . I think I can live with it.

And, Mr. President? You're something of an ingrate:

kardashian_obama.jpg

Posted by John Kranz at 9:15 AM | What do you think? [3]
But AndyN thinks:

I suppose it's better to influence the younger generation to be obsessed with power, because if you accumulate enough power you don't need wealth of your own?

Sarcasm aside, he has a valid political point. If you can stop an entire generation from dreaming big, you have a better chance of getting them to accept that just getting by is good enough. If just getting by is good enough, you're more likely to be content to be a client of the welfare state, which makes you a compliant voter for the President's party.

Posted by: AndyN at August 22, 2013 10:55 AM
But jk thinks:

Absolutely. It's her wealth that is bad. Not her child-naming skills or dedication to self-improvement.

Mom calls her the "hardest working young lady in the world." Biasing the sample for matriarchal pride, she has a TV show and -- I think -- several fashion lines.

Fashion "work" may look pretty easy to ditch-diggers, but so does Software Development. Nobody but mean FOX News viewers will ever say a bad word about Sushi Food Stamp Dude but at least Kim and Kanye are spending their own money.

Posted by: jk at August 22, 2013 12:06 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Fulsome agreement all 'round, but I would like to ask Miss Kim, "How's that 'Obama change for peace' working out in Egypt?"

Posted by: johngalt at August 22, 2013 4:06 PM

August 21, 2013

Quote of the Day

Any thoughts about 2016, Camille Paglia?

As a registered Democrat, I am praying for a credible presidential candidate to emerge from the younger tier of politicians in their late 40s. A governor with executive experience would be ideal. It's time to put my baby-boom generation out to pasture! We've had our day and managed to muck up a hell of a lot. It remains baffling how anyone would think that Hillary Clinton (born the same year as me) is our partyís best chance. She has more sooty baggage than a 90-car freight train. And what exactly has she ever accomplished -- beyond bullishly covering for her philandering husband? Sheís certainly busy, busy and ever on the move -- with the tunnel-vision workaholism of someone trying to blot out uncomfortable private thoughts.

I for one think it was a very big deal that our ambassador was murdered in Benghazi. In saying "I take responsibility" for it as secretary of state, Hillary should have resigned immediately. The weak response by the Obama administration to that tragedy has given a huge opening to Republicans in the next presidential election. The impression has been amply given that Benghazi was treated as a public relations matter to massage rather than as the major and outrageous attack on the U.S. that it was.

Throughout history, ambassadors have always been symbolic incarnations of the sovereignty of their nations and the dignity of their leaders. Itís even a key motif in "King Lear." As far as Iím concerned, Hillary disqualified herself for the presidency in that fist-pounding moment at a congressional hearing when she said, "What difference does it make what we knew and when we knew it, Senator?" Democrats have got to shake off the Clinton albatross and find new blood. The escalating instability not just in Egypt but throughout the Mideast is very ominous. There is a clash of cultures brewing in the world that may take a century or more to resolve -- and there is no guarantee that the secular West will win.

2016 Posted by John Kranz at 4:23 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

Thank everlovin' NED for this. I was completely convinced that not a single solitary Democrat was paying any attention at all. At least now I know that, among at least some of those who are, their anti-Americanism is mere partisanship. Maybe next time they'll be more careful about nominating an Islamist as their presidential candidate, preordaining such distasteful bedfellows for themselves.

Posted by: johngalt at August 22, 2013 4:00 PM
But jk thinks:

One honest Democrat libertarian (not sure she lives her,, but still...)

Posted by: jk at August 22, 2013 5:34 PM

August 20, 2013

Is there a derivative play?

One suspects that Buzz Aldrin and John Barnes modeled Sig Jarlsbourg after Richard Branson. In Encounter with Tiber [Review Corner], Sig rejuvenates Earth's moribund space program as an extension of his wildly successful adventure tourism properties. And marries one character's Mom after his astronaut father. . . never mind, that's not important right now.

But Sig's and Branson's early trips are pricey and somewhat unambitious: space and back. Sig provides an interesting lottery system to open seats to non-millionaires. But Branson has pricing power -- the first seats are now $250K, up from 200.

A milestone was reached in April when for the first time in flight, Virgin Galactic lit the rocket motor on SpaceShipTwo, sending the craft supersonic.

Capitalizing quickly, Branson raised the price of a suborbital space ticket by $50,000 to $250,000 (we early purchasers still get the original price).


I forgot to mention in Review Corner that the book would make a screaming good movie. If Disney does it, I'm sure Sig will be converted to villainous. He is a businessman.

Posted by John Kranz at 6:25 PM | What do you think? [0]

Otequay of the Ayday

Aside from these personal fixes, there is a solution to put the country (including any wayward stragglers or stunted post-adolescents) back on the path of prosperity. Americans could stop supporting anti-growth politicians pushing agendas that strangle the economy, weaken the dollar, and surreptitiously erode civil liberties, but letís be serious. 60% of those ages 18-29 reelected President Obama. So, whatís left? Keep checking feeds, going on pointless dates, and buying more gadgets? Frankl would tell the lost ones to find a will to meaning in this world, but finding purpose can be put off, even if the abyss persists and they pester the rest of the world as impotently self-involved non-starters, for lack of ever finding a self or a start.

From an excellent awesome Forbes article Millions Of Millenials Live At Home And Support The Policies That Keep Them There by millenial Maura Pennington (BA Russian, Dartmouth, 2009.)

HT: Rush Limbaugh

But Terri thinks:

Oh brother.
They are certainly lost, those who have no will to be on their own.
Were they coddled too much? Are there so many rules that the paradigm becomes, "I can't"? I wanted to live on own so badly as an 18 year old I shared a studio with 4 other people in order to do so. It was well worth it, and I had a great child hood home.

Posted by: Terri at August 20, 2013 6:21 PM
But Terri thinks:

Of course I also walked 5 miles up hill both ways to get to school in the mornings. :-)

Posted by: Terri at August 20, 2013 6:25 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Limbaugh riffed on this some more yesterday. He said millenials are taught they're "special" even without accomplishing anything, and that the pathway to happiness (or to be "free from want?") is to, simply, want less. Forget a car, use a bike and the bus. Forget an apartment, just hang in the 'rents basement. Wardrobe? How much do blue jeans and Che T-shirts cost, anyway?

Posted by: johngalt at August 22, 2013 3:05 PM
But jk thinks:

Does that include Kim Kardashian in an Obama Shirt?

Posted by: jk at August 22, 2013 3:43 PM

Friends like U.S.

As the pro-western Egyptian military declares, through its actions, that it is with George W. Bush and not the terrorists, America's government treats them like pariahs. If I didn't know better I'd think our President was with the terrorists. But there is scant evidence to the contrary. IBD editorial:

In 2009, his grandiose speech in Cairo apologized for America's historical role in the Middle East and snubbed Mubarak, setting the stage for the Egyptian president's overthrow by the mob.

When the worst-case scenario happened and an operative for the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, Mohamed Morsi, was elected president, Obama's secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, went to Cairo and personally coddled him.

President Obama's foreign policy is reminiscent of his domestic economic policy, where he uses the power of government to punish winners and reward losers. With friends like him, Egypt (and American business) don't need enemies.

But jk thinks:

I certainly agree it was bungled. And I'm not above blaming the President's ego. (Too bad Egypt had to try and get by for 5,000 years without his awesomeness).

But now that we're in the soup, I'm not sure fulsome support of the Military is a slam dunk. Bret Stephens presents it as the least-worst option, which I might buy. But al-Sisi as sort of a Dick Cheney with better aim . . . I'm not sure I'm buying that.

Posted by: jk at August 20, 2013 5:25 PM
But jk thinks:

OTOH: Ambassador Marc Ginsberg was on Kudlow last night and made a solid case for this.

Posted by: jk at August 21, 2013 2:54 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"McCain and Graham, the little Bobsey twins..." LOL! He walked it back, but still.

I'm not sure, but it sounded like Ambassador Ginsberg said the Egyptian army is racist. Isn't that what "displeasure with the Obama Administration" means?

Posted by: johngalt at August 22, 2013 3:14 PM
But jk thinks:

Damned Egyptian Army Racist Teabaggers!!!

Posted by: jk at August 22, 2013 3:48 PM

America 3.0

We had brisk discussion around a Review Corner for America 3.0. Blog friend tg was overwhelmingly positive. I found much to like but expressed reservations.

The authors have a substantive summary on AEI. Folks who were interested might enjoy the authors' view.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:11 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

While possibly still a sore point, recently rekindled, I wonder what my blog brother thought when reading the authors' close:

The institutions of America 2.0 can survive a while longer by borrowing irresponsibly, defaulting silently on creditors through inflation, squeezing taxpayers with more thorough intrusion and coercion, confiscating the private savings of Americans in the guise of ‚Äúrescuing‚ÄĚ them, eating our seed corn by confiscating medical facilities and running them down without proper reinvestment, and in general stripping and looting the country.

But the political and economic model we now live under cannot go on forever.

This is an accurate description of what I see in current federal policy. (Monetary/fiscal, potato/potahto.)

Posted by: johngalt at August 20, 2013 4:38 PM
But jk thinks:

Deflating the currency certainly remains in the arsenal and is to be feared. I differ with thee in that I don't think that is actively happening now nor in recent history. If Janet Yellen heads the FOMC, my fear triples.

Your broader excerpt reminds me why I am not as all over this book as some. The fact is that the stalling tactics you pulled in your quote could be used for decades. We're Detroit with a really good credit rating. Three-dot-Oh is not inevitable.

Posted by: jk at August 20, 2013 6:13 PM

Subsidies: Useless or Harmful?

So a report from the National Academies, commissioned by Congress bifurcates green energy subsidies. The WSJ Ed Page:

Take ethanol and other biofuel subsidies, which the committee calls a "most striking" example. The 45-cents-a-gallon ethanol tax credit expired in 2012, but before it died it was increasing carbon emissions by five million tons every year, at a cost of $5.26 billion. As they say, it's not easy being green.

But fear not, Boulder denizens. Most of them do not harm the environment -- they just waste a ton of money and impede innovation.
Other tax provisions are more useless than harmful by the green lobby's anticarbon standards. The renewable electricity tax credit for wind and solar will reduce emissions by roughly all of 0.3% by 2035, which is still minuscule globally.

The panel also tried to study tax credits for home energy efficiency improvements, but these programs "resisted analysis" because they are so complicated, which is a running theme in the report. One of the committee's main conclusions is that "the best existing analytical tools are unable to determine in a reliable fashion the impact of some important subsidies."

Ponder that one: The roughly $24 billion that the U.S. spends annually on energy subsidies is so complex that its impact can't be understood by America's top scientists and economists.


Of course, at the end of the day, the report concludes that a carbon tax would be better than multiple, ill-conceived subsidies. Freedom never seems to be on the menu with these people.

Environment Posted by John Kranz at 10:11 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

U.S. government energy subsidy impacts are too complex for America's "top scientists and economists" to understand, yet they have reached some "consensus" on the impacts of prosperity on the global climate. How's that again?

Posted by: johngalt at August 20, 2013 12:36 PM

August 19, 2013

Afflicting the Comfortable, WaPo Style

I'm thieving this item, en toto, from James Taranto. If anybody is left in this great nation who does not feel that the press is completely in the bag for this President. I offer:

taranto130819.gif

But johngalt thinks:

Not to mention that #^(&ing nuclear "football." If only someone had told Mr. Wonderful that "being president is hard."

Posted by: johngalt at August 20, 2013 12:45 PM

Tweet of the Day


August 18, 2013

Quote of the Day

"What Difference Does it Make" Version:

If I do happen to die in service to my country, I'd think that my country would not deny me the honor of having died in service in the war on terror, versus service in defense of a YouTube video. -- Rep. (and US ANG Veteran) Adam Kinzinger

Hat-tip: Insty

But johngalt thinks:

Or a "workplace shooting."

Remember Ft. Hood.

Posted by: johngalt at August 19, 2013 1:19 PM

Review Corner

Father gestured agreement. "It's a bitter joke, but you're right," he said. "I suppose a species that all got along perfectly with each other would never make it to the stars, because they'd never argue enough to make their ideas work. And a species that thought everything through first wouldn't get there because they'd never get around to it. So the galaxy will eventually be ruled by impetuous bickerers."
It's Fiction Day at Review Corner. A book by Buzz Aldrin was too tempting. While Encounter with Tiber by Aldrin and John Barnes was not as thrilling as a 100-year-old Economics book, I enjoyed it and would recommend.

I'll spoil the first great laugh: the protagonist is known as "the second person born on Mars" as if Aldrin has some connection somehow. The first part of the novel is set on the Moon, and it is wondrous to read the descriptions of the light, the dust, and the gravity and realize that the author is not making this up or relating the story of somebody he interviewed.

Another recurring theme is the galactic and interspecies existence of politicians and bureaucrats. One senses Aldrin might have met one or two of these in his career. The following happens -- if you'll pardon my saying -- a long time ago and far, far away:

The image of Fereg on the screen smiled and said, "I have examined budgets and plans exhaustively for the last half-year, and what I have found is that we have considerable room for the improvement of life here on Nisu, for this generation. I call this the Planetary Improvement Program, and what I propose is Ö" It was a long list. Public parks, beaches free to everyone, two extra eightdays of paid vacation each year, retirement two years early for most people, a complete reequipping of the Imperial Guard with more modern aircraft and ships, two new legions of Imperial Guard to be raised in Shulath ...

"Something for everybody," Osepok muttered. "Right. Now just what do you suppose he plans to use to pay for it?"


The money was to come out of the space program, of course. Allegorically to Aldrin and literally to the characters hearing that speech, it is a biological imperative to spread the species to other planets.

The story is interesting and the book is well structured. I am not familiar with John Barnes, but suspect that his experience might have brought much of this plotline integrity. Whatever its provenance, it is a good yarn, with much to say and I'm happy to bestow 4.5 stars.

End review begin rant -- er political discussion. I find myself fixated on "the inter-generational compact" and it figures heavily in this book. I read of the hundreds of workers giving their lives to build the Panama Canal or the Brooklyn Bridge (OMG if he recommends David McCullough's "Brave Companions" one more time, I swear I'll scream...) Or I think of "The Boys of Point Du Hoc" or the Marines at Iwo Jima. They all gave more than they should have or needed to, so things would be better for future generations.

If I can be forgiven a Rachel Maddow moment, the Hoover Dam might be an environmental Armageddon, but it was a foundation of generations of prosperity and innovation. Now we can't frack, we can't force a retired teacher to buy the store brand ice-cream. And we cannot allow capitalism's "animal spirits" to fuel the innovation that will make our grandchildren wealthy.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 10:01 AM | What do you think? [3]
But johngalt thinks:

RAH, also from HS-WT: "Die trying' is the proudest human thing."

I'm a fan of space travel but also a fan of private enterprise. I can't say that scaling back the government space program is a terrible decision. I only wish it had been done prior to the rise and reign of Dr. James Hansen.

Posted by: johngalt at August 19, 2013 3:23 PM
But jk thinks:

You and me, brah. In the book, Earth's space program is driven by private enterprise's leveraging of NASA artifacts.

Posted by: jk at August 19, 2013 4:51 PM
But jk thinks:

And, great RAH quote. He has a bucket of superb ones out there ("...bad luck"), but "'Die trying' is the proudest human thing." is all that.

Posted by: jk at August 19, 2013 7:36 PM

August 17, 2013

South Weld County GOP Breakfast

Breakfast with Brother jg's neighbors this morning in Ft. Lupton. The South Weld County GOP meets there once a month and brings in speakers. Today's was Jeffrey Hare for the 51st State Initiative.

I am firmly behind the movement: in Colorado, southern Illinois, upstate New York, and anywhere else people wish to capture the benefits of Federalism. Everybody recognizes that it is a long tough road. Hare pointed out that Colorado first sought statehood in 1860, so it took 16 years the first time. With Facebook, I imagine we could cut that in half, but I am as guilty as anybody for looking for it too soon. This is long and slow.

All the same, it must begin with some groundswell and I am not certain there is enough attention paid to messaging and education. Hare could hit ThreeSourcers where they live: we're fighting tyranny. We're creating a state that will fight federal usurpation and reinvigorate the Tenth Amendment.

Swell. Put me down as a "no" for tyranny and a "yes" for the enumerated powers.

But we need to get counties to put a referendum on the ballot, voters to approve it and, someday, other counties to let us leave. The Declaration of Independence may be a good model, but there is already a great danger of conflating our plan with secession. Hare enumerated usurpations (a few I disagreed with -- the repeal of Glass-Stiegel? The requisite GOP bashing of "Amnesty!" Hmmm...)

The details are to be sorted out by committee: there's a tax committee, a water committee, a committee committee all meeting in January. My pulse races.

I would suggest they portray a vision even if it changes, and that they build it on Federalism: hey Boulder and Aspen, you're going to be able to do what you want without all of us stoopid farmers dragging you down!

It was a great group, breakfast was good, and the motives were pure. I would start selling, however. That's a big job.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:46 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

"...there is already a great danger of conflating our plan with secession." Yes, particularly when news radio 850 KOA reports it as "the secession movement." [Just now.]

Posted by: johngalt at August 19, 2013 3:05 PM
But johngalt thinks:

On the bright side, RAH wrote in 'Have Spacesuit - Will Travel' "The best things in history are accomplished by people who get 'tired of being shoved around."

Posted by: johngalt at August 19, 2013 3:08 PM

August 16, 2013

Headline of the Day

Pretty lazy-ass blogging to fill Friday's feed with ________ of the Day posts. But Adam Garfinkle shoots and scores:

Al-Sisi's Hammer, Obama's Nine-Iron?

Hat-tip: Insty, who provides a long excerpt and serious commentary, while I just link. It's a mixed up muddled and shook-up world 'cept for Lola.

Posted by John Kranz at 2:14 PM | What do you think? [0]

Merle Hazard -- the Great Unwind

Hat-tip: Prof Mankiw


Facebook Post of the Day

woods130816.gif

& -- hey, who left the Internet Segue Machine® on? Heritage:

"Heavens, I have staff who don't make much money. This would be a really big bite for them."

That could be any employer talking about the costs of Obamacare. But it's a Member of Congress--who's happy the President will soften the blow for him and his employees.

But johngalt thinks:

After this example, anyone who still denies that government is our economy's adversary, not its ally, is a liar or a fool. (Paging Austin Goolsbee. Line 1.)

Posted by: johngalt at August 19, 2013 3:29 PM

Quote of the Day

ADDENDUM: Egypt's pro-Morsi protesters announce today will be a 'Day of Rage' . . . raising the question of just what the heck we call Wednesday. -- Jim Geraghty

August 14, 2013

The trouble with single-issue focus

If you're on Facebook and do not follow George Takei, you're missing something. He posts prolific amounts of amusing and interesting material. Sci-Fi nerd jokes, goofy memes, what have you. He's your new best friend who gets in early on the good email jokes.

You are also guaranteed a steady stream of gay rights information. Some complain, but it's his feed and he can do what he wants. Readers know I'm generally sympathetic.

But it is exclusive of nuance and any other issues. I get it George and wish you success. But I don't think a baker should be coerced into catering a wedding he doesn't want to. There are other considerations.

Today's is special:

putin_stache.jpg

If the worst thing you can say about Vladimir Putin is that is insufficiently respectful of Gay Rights, you're really not paying much attention.

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 12:49 PM | What do you think? [2]
But AndyN thinks:

If the worst thing you can say about Vladimir Putin is that is insufficiently respectful of Gay Rights, you're really not paying much attention.

Along a similar vein, if you think the winter games in Sochi should be be boycotted but didn't say a peep about Beijing hosting the 2008 summer Olympics, I refuse to take your concern for human rights seriously.

Posted by: AndyN at August 15, 2013 3:12 PM
But johngalt thinks:

The real trouble with single-issue focus, when practiced by Democrats and the egalitarian socialist special interests who largely comprise them, is that the "focus" gets blurry sometimes. It is applied selectively.

Or maybe I just don't understand the pecking order of anti-discrimination ideology? I suppose that Sulu can't criticize a "clean, articulate black man" who campaigns on the idea that marriage is a relationship for "one man and one woman" without being a garden variety racist. And NOTHING could be worse than this, even gay bashing.

Posted by: johngalt at August 20, 2013 12:54 PM

August 13, 2013

On Religion in Government

The infamous Internet Segue Machine brought this page to my screen today, offering a hand of friendship to Ralph Benko, who asks the GOPs libertarians to "bend a bit." I read it as the author counseling the faithful to keep Truth and law in their separate and proper stations.

Throughout his work, Lewis infused an interconnected worldview that championed objective truth, moral ethics, natural law, literary excellence, reason, science, individual liberty, personal responsibility and virtue, and Christian theism. In so doing, he critiqued naturalism, reductionism, nihilism, positivism, scientism, historicism, collectivism, atheism, statism, coercive egalitarianism, militarism, welfarism, and dehumanization and tyranny of all forms. Unlike ďprogressiveĒ crusaders for predatory government power over the peaceful pursuits of innocent people, Lewis noted that "I do not like the pretensions of Government - the grounds on which it demands my obedience - to be pitched too high. I donít like the medicine-manís magical pretensions nor the Bourbonís Divine Right. This is not solely because I disbelieve in magic and in Bossuetís Politique. I believe in God, but I detest theocracy. For every Government consists of mere men and is, strictly viewed, a makeshift; if it adds to its commands 'Thus saith the Lord,' it lies, and lies dangerously."

Yes, "Lewis" is indeed C.S. Lewis, a thinker and author I had previously dismissed as an overt religionist. It appears the waters of his writing run deeper that that, and I am eager to go for a swim. I have made glacial progress in the winning of hearts and minds with the teachings of Rand. Perhaps I can have more success, in a practical endeavor, quoting Lewis and others who admire him. A good starting place may well be the founder and president of the C.S. Lewis Society of California, David J. Theroux.



And Things Turned Out So Well in Saudi Arabia

Great news from the AEI!

U.S. agencies estimate Afghanistan's mineral deposits to be worth upwards of $1 trillion. In fact, a classified Pentagon memo called Afghanistan the "Saudi Arabia of lithium." (Although lithium is technically not a rare earth element, it serves some of the same purposes.)

The article does discuss "The Resource Curse," but it is at the end and they chose the example of Mexico rather than Saudi Arabia. And, they suggest that a resource curse is a pretty good curse to have.

All the same, I'd have the same portentous feeling if I read that a drug addict friend had won the lottery: Yeah, he might start a small business with the money and become a pillar of the community... Yeah, could happen. Or --

Or we could give a Trillion dollars to the Taliban and the most corrupt if superbly dressed leader in modern history. And it's okay, US troops are leaving. Yaay -- what great news!


Quote of the Day

American progressives keep promising Denmark, a true socialist workers paradise and the happiest country in the world, and delivering Detroit: now entering the Ninth Circle of Hell. -- Ralph Benko
The pull quote made me laugh but the whole column is well worth a read. Benko calls for a new Fusionism (without using the term) based on the Constitution. He asks the libertarians in the GOP to bend a bit, remember that the Constitution guarantees religious freedom, and get along better with Conservatives who deliver a lot of votes.
Politics Posted by John Kranz at 9:30 AM | What do you think? [6]
But johngalt thinks:

You've already read it and I haven't - does he also ask Conservatives to bend a bit and stop taxing, spending and regulating like Democrats?

And, while they're at it, stop trying to regulate who and how people love each other through statute?

[I won't mention the "a" word this cycle, since libertarian hero Rand Paul has already bent the Conservatives' way on that. Apparently still a bridge too far in this Objectivist's crusade to modernize the GOP.]

Posted by: johngalt at August 13, 2013 10:58 AM
But jk thinks:

No. He's not out to be fair and balanced. But he is respectful in tone and I think it is implied that "can't we all get along?"

I make this argument to conservatives a lot and felt I should sit still and listen to my mirror image (albeit superior writer) delivereth the lesson.

The heart -- and difficult for me -- is to accept some populist positions that seem declassé. The part I really liked was that we were uniting around the Constitution. Your conservative friends have not only a First Amendment right to worship but also a right to petition government.

Posted by: jk at August 13, 2013 12:00 PM
But jk thinks:

Besides, Benko won my trust with the superb headline: If Paul Krugman Didn't Exist, Republicans Would Have To Invent Him

Posted by: jk at August 13, 2013 12:43 PM
But johngalt thinks:

All that is said in the article is indeed laudable and inspiring. My concern comes from the unsaid - Does the Bill of Rights guarantee the "right to life" of an unborn baby, or the "right to liberty" of his mother? It is for good reason that when the chips are down, Democrats always resort to this issue if all else fails. And, thusfar, only Democrats are allowed to campaign one way in a primary and the opposite way in a general.

Posted by: johngalt at August 13, 2013 3:44 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

It is also worth remembering that this article was written for Forbes. I supspect their readership is sig. more urban, libertarian, and wealthy than average social conservative in the hinterlands. Perhaps if he were on Fox News his focus would be different.


(For what it is worth, I have found myself very, very impressed with Forbes in recent weeks. They are one of the few publications that is serious about having a real, intellectually rigorous debate about the future of the GOP. Very impressed with many of their columns. I can't find it now - stupid Chinese internet - but there was a neat piece on "reform conservatism" with some pretty specific policy proposals the Three Sources readership might find interesting. I meant to forward it to JK and solicit opinions, but I forgot. Never too late, aye?)

Posted by: T. Greer at August 16, 2013 12:03 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Aye!

Posted by: johngalt at August 19, 2013 3:32 PM

August 12, 2013

Quote of the Day

The Obama administration has embraced Cass Sunstein's theories about a supposed "libertarian paternalism" -- "libertarian," you see, because it doesn't rely on heavy handed dictates but instead uses indirect incentives and small manipulations to "nudge" people into doing what their intellectual superiors in Washington, DC, think is good for them.

But as a general rule, if the government is doing something, it's not "libertarian." -- Robert Tracinski


I almost posted a link about the article he references. All my Pigou-club arguments come back as a "nudge" can quickly become a "shove."


President McKinley, Call your Office!

My blog brother inquires about a suitable name for higher prices that are non-monetary in nature. The CPI and PPI will both be updated this week and they will seem to many to be far below what their household budgets show.

In lieu of an actual answer, I offer the only-partially-flippant response of "Government!" Heritage examines the import tariff induced costs in your back-to-school basket:

import_taxes.jpg

Shortly before, I had read Professor Mark J Perry's examination of corn's effect on food prices. Before you add "Duhhh" to your Word dictionary, he is debunking a suggested correlation between food and oil.

To complete the tortuous segue, Kim Strassel pointed out last Friday that 142 of 143 refineries did not give enough campaign contributions to avoid onerous ethanol (R - Chuck Grassley) mandates.

The big news was that the EPA issued--finally--its infamous annual quota for renewable fuels. That mandate tells the nation's refineries how much renewable fuel (ethanol) must be blended annually into gasoline, a quota that is becoming a pernicious driver of gas prices. The EPA was supposed to release the 2013 quota last November but decided to leave the industry in panicked uncertainty until now.

The 89-page rule is dull reading, until you get to page 11. Tucked on that page is one short sentence, which reads: "EPA has approved a single small refinery/small refiner exemption for 2013, so an adjustment has been made to the standards to account for this exemption." In English: Of the nation's 143 refineries, one (and only one) lucky player somehow had the pull to win itself a free pass from this government burden. Not only that, the rest of the industry gets to pick up its slack.


So why is ^&%* so expensive? It might be more about Congress than the Federal Reserve.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:53 PM | What do you think? [3]
But johngalt thinks:

To those who think Americans are not really Taxed Enough Already, refer to the diagram.

I don't think I was ever given a preferred term for "the resulting rise in prices from government (mis)management, (over)regulation and (over)taxation" but according to the World English Dictionary:

inflation -n 2. economics Compare {deflation} a progressive increase in the general level of prices brought about by an expansion in demand or the money supply (demand-pull inflation) or by autonomous increases in costs (cost-push inflation)

So I submit we are picking nits as I cite the latter and you steadfastly insist it is not the former.

But truthfully, as a non-economist, when I say stealthflation I merely mean to say

3. informal the rate of increase of prices
Posted by: johngalt at August 12, 2013 4:26 PM
But johngalt thinks:

A similar dispute rages on sports radio at present: He's a kicker. No, he's a punter. But doesn't a punter kick the ball? No, he punts the ball.

Posted by: johngalt at August 12, 2013 5:13 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Heh. Krieger read my tweet on air. Slide ahead to 23:45 [Shameless self-promotion.]

Posted by: johngalt at August 13, 2013 1:09 PM

Mayor Willie Brown Explains ObamaCare®

Notable & Quotable, the WSJ's pale imitation of our beloved "Quote of the Day," today has a humdinger in the annals of political honesty. Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown tells it like it is:

News that the Transbay Terminal is something like $300 million over budget should not come as a shock to anyone.

We always knew the initial estimate was way under the real cost. Just like we never had a real cost for the Central Subway or the Bay Bridge or any other massive construction project. So get off it.

In the world of civic projects, the first budget is really just a down payment. If people knew the real cost from the start, nothing would ever be approved.

The idea is to get going. Start digging a hole and make it so big, there's no alternative to coming up with the money to fill it in.


In other news, the GOP now finds that its ObamaCare alternative will certainly have to cover "Pre-existing Conditions." Or: actual insurance is out.
The Louisiana Republican [Steve Scalise] said the plan would include protections for people with pre-existing conditions -- one of the main benefits of Obamacare.

"We address that to make sure that people with pre-existing conditions cannot be discriminated against," he said. But, he promised the bill would not "put in place mandates that increase the costs of health care and push people out of the insurance that they like," Scalise said.


I sympathize with the poor Republicans (you see, there's this giant gorram hole). But I wince at their language. Failure to offer cut rate insurance to a man whose house is on fire is "discrimination?" When you've lost the language that badly, you've lost.

Congrats to President Obama and the 112th Congress on their superb excavationary endeavors.


August 11, 2013

Review Corner on Film

The Monorail song is probably the best and most poignant sketch from The Simpsons, but I'd suggest as a close second Apu's oral history exam when he is seeking US citizenship. He is asked "What caused the Civil War?" He starts a long disquisition on the differential effects of tariffs on the agrarian southern economy versus the industrialized North, and -- he is interrupted by the examiner who says "Just say 'Slavery.'"

I'm not going to relitigate. I'm sympathetic to Thomas Woods-Lord Acton concerns that the decentralized power of the Confederacy was more conducive to liberty -- but I have no trouble choosing abolition of slavery. All the same, I think it good to be challenged with a little more subtlety. And the best places I have seen to see other viewpoints are in Ron Maxwells's movies.

I discussed "Gods and Generals" and "Gettysburg" on these pages way back when. (Bonus aside: Br'er jg's admiration for Peggy Noonan).

Maxwell has done it again. Copperhead is a thoughtful look at the politics of the war far away from the lines in upstate New York. The "Copperhead" protagonist holds slavery as evil, but suggests the butchery of war to be "a cure worse than the disease." He is ostracized by his patriotic, abolitionist neighbors in their martial fervor. But he holds the Constitution as his guide.

Like his other moves: beautiful, well done, and thoughtful. Five stars

Posted by John Kranz at 11:19 AM | What do you think? [0]

Review Corner

An unusual book for today's Review Corner: Carrol D. Kilgore's Restoring the Constitution: Why? Is it possible? How?

The title and topic will appeal to all ThreeSourcers. And I have no doubt that all would enjoy the book. Amazon Prime® members can borrow it free on Kindle. The Kindle edition lacks polish: no table of contents and it shows as being written by "Louis Brandeis." I'm guessing that Brandeis was not the author's favorite Justice.

Kilgore presents several interesting Supreme Court cases in which he feels the majority failed to correctly interpret the Constitution. His writing is clear but its opinionated nature, combined with odd formatting made me curious about the author and the book's provenance. A brief Internet search shows an obituary for Kilgore in March, 2013. Amazon tells:

Carrol D. Kilgore was 86 years at the time of publication of this book, which was written early in his retirement after 59 years' law practice. This included 5 years as Assistant U. S. Attorney (2 years as First Assistant U. S. Attorney) in Nashville during the Kennedy Administration. Received a number of commendations from official sources for prosecutions during that time, then went into private law practice as a member of a respected law firm in Nashville. Graduated from Vanderbilt Law School in 1950. In 1977, Kilgore published "Judicial Tyranny, An Inquiry into the Integrity of the Federal Judiciary" (Thomas Nelson Publishing), of which the U. S. Supreme Court Historical Society opined that the book was accurate, but the author biased. To this, the author always replies that his bias is his insistence that every judge should honor his oath to support the Constitution in all his decisions

Whether it's its "library book" status or the unusual ebook aspects, I cannot bring in pull quotes.

I was not surprised to read of Kilgore's experience and legal chops; it was obvious that he knew what he was talking about. His explanations were clear to the "interested layman" that was his target, but deep enough to demonstrate his knowledge and provide substantive examples of the problems he saw.

It is easy to become exasperated after a decision like NFIB v Sibelius or Kelo v New London, but I still see SCOTUS as the best defender of our rights. No, that is not the way it is supposed to be. No, it is not reliable enough. BUT: we could never have seen a legislative or executive equivalent of Heller, McDonald or even Citizens' United. I hate to have all my freedom eggs in a basket watched over by Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, Kagen, Kennedy, and Ginsberg but it is the best we have got.

The book could have used a bit more polish, but I will give a gentleman's de mortuis nil nisi bonum four stars. Especially if you have Prime® and a Kindle, I'd heartily recommend it.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 10:40 AM | What do you think? [0]

August 10, 2013

Tweet of the Day

Hat-tip: Insty

2016 Posted by John Kranz at 10:43 AM | What do you think? [0]

August 9, 2013

Quote of the Day

Offhand comment from Jay Nordlinger, responding to Hannan, paraphrase: This is the Golden Age for environmentalists, at least in the United States: Carbon emissions are down, economic production is down, commuting is down, we're less materialistic because we can afford less . . . Hey, they're getting what they've been demanding all these years. - Jim Geraghty, back from the NRO Cruise

August 8, 2013

"Liberal" vs. "Conservative" is worthless

It's actually worse that worthless, it's misleading: Conservative isn't always good and liberal always bad.

The National Journal ranks Todd Akin the "most conservative" representative but as br'er JK notes, "he has much to answer for." Far more than just canceling Firefly.

And then we have "most liberal" which, amongst Republicans, is hung by the old guard [thought of something besides "establishment" to use there] around the necks of the so-called libertarians like Justin Amash, Rand Paul, and probably even Ted Cruz. From where I sit being "liberal," as in preferring liberty of individuals from coercion, is a compliment. That's why it irked me when Louisiana's Elbert Guillory said that "liberalism has nearly destroyed the black community, and it's time for the black community to return the favor."

In this otherwise excellent announcement of the Free at Last PAC, which observes that,

"Our communities are just as poor as they have always been. Our schools continue to fail children. Our prisons are filled with young black men who should be at home being fathers."

Guillory also said that "Democrat leadership has failed the black community." This is closer to the mark. I understand that "liberalism" is a modern euphemism for socialist, redistributionist, egalitarian policies but while those labels are, to some, too judgmental or extreme, liberalism is too vague and nebulous. I will suggest to Guillory, and to Free at Last PAC, that instead they name the precise cause - Progressivism. And yes, Democrats.

But jk thinks:

Those two words are completely worthless unless you know your audience. I'll never call anybody but myself a liberal: leftists do not deserve the appellation.

As we've discussed frequently, there is no scalar quantity, though everybody wants it reduced to one. Me, I still love The Nolan Chart.

Posted by: jk at August 9, 2013 10:11 AM

August 7, 2013

Glad that Dumb Cowboy is Gone!

I'm filing this under "Media & Blogging." I do not really think that the President is stupid. I think he overestimates his intelligence, yet some have said very similar things about me...

But I remember the "Bushism" series-that-was-turned-into-books, full of juicy malapropisms from our 43rd President. W enjoyed his reputation and passed it along with strategically self-effacing humor. He would cop to "Is Our Children Learning?" Many Bushisms were like that -- a better transcription would be "Is -- Are children learning." When you do not live and die by the TelePrompTer, you rephrase in your head and change tense and voice midstream. Listening, it is very natural. But reading a transcription -- especially a purposefully ill-tempered one -- makes it appear moronic.

Enter the World's Greatest Orator. He of the 57 States. His excellency of the abstract geographical concept:

Tuesday night, President Obama made headlines during his appearance on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno," one of his numerous appearances over the years (back in 2009, he was the first sitting president to appear on the show). The President talked with Jay about a myriad of topics such as the NSA (he says that we don't have a domestic spying program), the threat from Al Qaeda, and Trayvon Martin. However, it was when the discussion turned to infrastructure that the president failed on some fairly basic American geography -- and it's not getting much attention.
[You know], the Panama [Canal] is being widened so that these big supertankers can come in. Now, that will be finished in 2015. If we don't deepen our ports all along the Gulf -- places like Charleston, South Carolina, or Savannah, Georgia, or Jacksonville, Florida -- if we don't do that, those ships are going to go someplace else. And we'll lose jobs. Businesses won't locate here.

The president was talking about deepening our ports along the Gulf, and yet he only referenced cities along the Atlantic Ocean coastline.

This ranks well below Benghazi and the IRS targeting of Tea Party groups for a scandal. But [insert dollar in jar] if Bush woulda said this...

Hat-tip Insty. He said "INSERT "57 STATES" JOKE HERE:" And I did.

But johngalt thinks:

Are you the first ThreeSourcer to link to The Blaze?

Posted by: johngalt at August 8, 2013 2:03 PM

"Most Liberal" Republican in Congress?

Laura Ingraham interviewed Congressman Justin Amash (R-MI) this morning, who opined that Americans should have a presumption of privacy under the 4th Amendment. Then Amash was followed on the show by a regular guest of her show, David Rivkin, who said Amash doesn't understand the limits of the 4th Amendment. No transcript yet so I'll have to paraphrase: If you have something private and you don't take personal precautions to keep it secret it is no longer private. If you take some private documents and put them in a bank vault then you have relinquished control and the government no longer needs a warrant to look at them.

What?

The example may be tortured. The context was phone records which, even if they did "belong" to you (which they don't, because the phone company created them) you didn't personally keep them secret so the government can copy them freely.

So my question is, what happened to the right to contract? At least in the bank example, if I only bank at the "we guarantee privacy" bank, in Switzerland maybe, do I not have a Constitutional right to keep stuff there under my personally arranged precaution against public disclosure?

And for agreeing with me, Congressman Amash is the "most liberal?" Well, in the classical sense I suppose he is. And Peggy Noonan is the "most liberal" columnist in Washington.

UPDATE: I went looking for National Journal's "most liberal Republican" rankings and the closest I could come was the raw data for the House of Representatives linked from this page. Amash is ranked 185th liberal and 237th conservative. Number 1 liberal was a 14-way tie. Most conservative? Todd Akin (caveman-MO). He's one of the guys who canceled Firefly.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:40 PM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

He has much to answer for.

Posted by: jk at August 7, 2013 6:18 PM

Tweet of the Day

Context may help or may spoil it: you decide.
On the web Posted by John Kranz at 10:04 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Help. Definitely. If this doesn't prove that irrational people will say ANYTHING in order to maintain an appearance of consistency in thought, nothing ever will.

Absolute laugh riot!

"before we went out to bars me and my buddies would meet up at Babies R Us to remind us of our mission"

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Posted by: johngalt at August 7, 2013 2:37 PM

Need an Iconic T-Shirt Design

Miami, Fla. -- Felix Rodriguez seems fated to be linked to Che Guevara. This is not entirely just. Rodriguez loves freedom, and has worked tirelessly for it; Guevara loved tyranny, and worked tirelessly for it. "Two sides of the same coin," some people say. Maybe -- but only in the way that light and dark are two sides of the same coin.
Great story of a true Cuban freedom fighter: The Anti-Che
Cuba Posted by John Kranz at 9:37 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Wow. Where was his chapter in my high school history texts? I guess it's because in his lifelong anti-communist war, he never won. Save, maybe, the Dominican.

Posted by: johngalt at August 7, 2013 6:14 PM

August 6, 2013

Not Nancy Grace

Nancy Mace. According to Hot Air Lindsey Graham is a prime target to be Primaried:

Her opening speech also seemed a bit canned, as if somebody told her to check a few of the basic conservative boxes and get it over with. (ďMake sure to say Reaganís name a few times, mention the constitution and get the heck out of there!Ē) But I also found a few previous comments she released on immigration, gun control and other important current topics, so itís probably too soon to tell, and she may well be prepping a barrage of good, serious policy speeches to use against Graham in the inevitable debates. In any event, it looks like it will be an interesting primary season in South Carolina, and we definitely need to be recruiting more energetic, young candidates everywhere, so welcome to the race, Ms. Mace.

EV Price War

Following Nissan's lead, manufacturers of electric or hybrid electric vehicles are slashing prices by the thousands as they all chase a wafer-thin 0.5% share of the new car and truck market. And one of them, Honda, has added a new sweetener - unlimited mileage leases! Which sounds good until you think about how far an EV can go on a charge, and how many hours it takes to recharge, and how many hours there are in a day.

But jk thinks:

"Double your IQ or NO money back!" "I dunno, it sounds pretty good to me...." -- Gary Larson

Posted by: jk at August 6, 2013 3:20 PM

Our Margaret

Peggy Noonan weighs in on the Rand Paul - Chris Christie contretemps and wins back a couple of her erstwhile best fans. THE WSJ Ed Page has jumped rather solidly on Christie's side. There are exceptions, but they both had a front row seat for 9/11 and have long favored muscular policy abroad and order at home.

Noonan provides her trademark thoughtfulness in Why Christie is Wrong.

So Christie is wrong that concerns and reservations about surveillance are the province of intellectuals and theorists--they're not. He's wrong that their concerns are merely abstract--they're concrete. Americans don't want to be listened in to, and they don't want their emails read by strangers, especially the government. His stand isn't even politically shrewd--it needlessly offends sincere skeptics and isn't the position of the majority of his party, I suppose with the exception of big ticket donors in Aspen.

And Christie's argument wasnít even... an argument. It was a manipulation. If you don't see it his way you donít know what 9/11 was--you weren't there, you don't know how people suffered. If you don't see it his way you don't care about the feelings of the widows and orphans.

It seems to me telling that he either doesn't have a logical argument or doesn't think he has to make it.


Stinging by its truthfulness. (H/T: one of the other "erstwhilers:" blog friend sc by email.)

2016 Posted by John Kranz at 9:21 AM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

Make that three.

Peter King was talking about Senator Paul this morning and claimed that Rand "doesn't want America to be a world power." My sense is that Rand wants no such thing, he just doesn't want American presidents throwing that power around as much as has been done since mid last century. If I'm right, this could explain the Christie/Paul divide in the minds of those who see things the way King does.

Posted by: johngalt at August 6, 2013 11:41 AM
But jk thinks:

I will violate Reagan's 11th for Rep. King any day any hour and any topic. I understand that we must appeal to his voting constituency, but that man would not know liberty were it to bite him in his Congressional Ass.

Posted by: jk at August 6, 2013 3:17 PM

Wherefore art thou, Twitter widget!

I just noticed the Tweet Box at the top of the page is no longer there. Probably disabled without fanfare months ago, and now I finally notice since I hashtagged a Tweet:

But jk thinks:

This blog has the world's worst IT guy.

It is still there -- as in I did not remove it, but it dies not show. I suspect either Twitter has stopped supporting that particular API or perhaps our hosting company blocks it somehow for security.

I miss it but not enough, yet, to fix it. I will look at it this weekend.

Posted by: jk at August 6, 2013 9:18 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I wanted to include "Any Obama voters ready to scrape off the bumper sticker now?" but that was too long to be a "tweet."

Posted by: johngalt at August 6, 2013 11:43 AM
But jk thinks:

Lookit! Lookit! It's there at the top of the page!!! For those who care, the good people at Twitter deprecated some methods in the old one.

I'll give a SHOUT-OUT to the good folks at lunarpages.com who host this site. Their tech support folks are top notch. While this wasn't their problem, they ran it down for me and advised without any of the "can't you read, Moron?" opprobrium I would have used on me were I they. I happily recommend them for your hosting needs.

Posted by: jk at August 7, 2013 6:24 PM

August 5, 2013

Human Ichneumonidae

I'm quite sure blog brother jk linked the George Will piece on Detroit already, but I just got around to reading it today via a still prominent position on the IBD Ed page. It contains an analogy just as apt as Starnesville.

The ichneumon insect inserts an egg in a caterpillar, and the larva hatched from the egg, he said, "gnaws the inside of the caterpillar, and though at last it has devoured almost every part of it except the skin and intestines, carefully all this time avoids injuring the vital organs, as if aware that its own existence depends on that of the insect on which it preys!"

Detroit's union bosses and "auto industry executives, who often were invertebrate mediocrities" were not, however, quite as intelligent as the lowly ichneumonidae. They knawed right through the alimentary canal. Why did the executives go along? Did they not know the lavish compensations were unsustainable? This matters little, for government followed the private-sector lead:

Then city officials gave their employees - who have 47 unions, including one for crossing guards - pay scales comparable to those of autoworkers.

Thus did private-sector decadence drive public-sector dysfunction - government negotiating with government-employees' unions that are government organized as an interest group to lobby itself to do what it wants to do: Grow.

And grow it did, in Detroit and in cities and states as far and wide as union influence stretched.

Detroit, which boomed during World War II when industrial America was "the arsenal of democracy," died of democracy.

Yet democracy lives on, an unnoticed and unindicted threat to the life of all American cities, states, and nation.

But jk thinks:

The Ichneumonidae Appreciation Society is suing Will for this scurrilous comparison...

Posted by: jk at August 5, 2013 5:06 PM

They Found Out What's in It!

So I was overly sanguine in thinking that Congress exempting itself would be significant. But it doesn't mean we can't have fun (and occasionally remind the bill's supporters).

The WSJ Ed Page leads with it today, detailing the history of Sen. Grassley's eat-our-own-dog-food" amendment. It was thought that Sen. Reid had obfuscated it enough that they could avoid their own bad legislation. But you know how it is when you're ramming a 2000 bill through on Christmas Eve: I mean which one of us hasn't left out some important language?

But the statute means that about 11,000 Members and Congressional staff will lose the generous coverage they now have as part of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP). Instead they will get the lower-quality, low-choice "Medicaid Plus" of the exchanges. The Members--annual salary: $174,000--and their better paid aides also wouldn't qualify for ObamaCare subsidies. That means they could be exposed to thousands of dollars a year in out-of-pocket insurance costs.

Ruh Roh!
How OPM will pull this off is worth watching. Is OPM simply going to cut checks, akin to "cashing out" fringe benefits and increasing wages? Or will OPM cover 75% of the cost of the ObamaCare plan the worker chooses--which could well be costlier than what the feds now contribute via current FEHBP plans? In any case the carve-out for Congress creates a two-tier exchange system, one for the great unwashed and another for the politically connected.

This latest White House night at the improv is also illegal. OPM has no authority to pay for insurance plans that lack FEHBP contracts, nor does the Affordable Care Act permit either exchange contributions or a unilateral bump in congressional pay in return for less overall compensation. Those things require appropriations bills passed by Congress and signed by the President.

But the White House rejected a legislative fix because Republicans might insist on other changes, and Mr. Obama feared that Democrats would go along because they're looking out for number one. So the White House is once again rewriting the law unilaterally, much as it did by suspending ObamaCare's employer mandate for a year. For this White House, the law it wrote is a mere suggestion.

The lesson for Americans is that Democrats who passed ObamaCare didn't even understand what they were doing to themselves, much less to everyone else. But you can bet Democrats will never extend to ordinary Americans the same fixes that they are now claiming for themselves. The real class divide in President Obama's America is between the political class and everyone else.

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 9:42 AM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

"Some animals are more equal than others." But if that doesn't include public sector unions this time, maybe you weren't too sanguine after all.

I find it completely appropriate that the acronym for the government's Office of Personnel Managment, OPM, also represents "other people's money."

(The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of Office of Personnel Management.)

Posted by: johngalt at August 5, 2013 2:24 PM
But jk thinks:

*Like*

Posted by: jk at August 5, 2013 5:02 PM

August 4, 2013

Review Corner

Congress passed an act granting 10 million acres of public land to be used on behalf of the mentally ill. President Franklin Pierce vetoed the act, noting that while he sympathized with the cause of aiding the mentally ill, I can not find any authority in the Constitution for making the Federal Government the great almoner of public charity throughout the United States. To do so would, in my judgment, be contrary to the letter and spirit of the Constitution and subversive of the whole theory upon which the Union of these States is founded.
Number fourteen had a good grasp of the Constitution and his job defending it. Sadly -- and of zero surprise to ThreeSourcers -- most of the participants in Steven Hayward's The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Presidents: From Wilson to Obama: not so much.

A few weeks ago, I deducted a star from Charles Johnson's excellent "Why Coolidge Matters: Leadership Lessons from America's Most Underrated President" for partisanship and inclusion of material that spoke too much of the year it was released instead of the years covered. That Review Corner foreordained possible hypocrisy as I am kinder to Hayward.

Johnson was adding to the Scholarship of President Coolidge and I found barbs about the current President or Congress out of bounds. The "Politically Incorrect Guide..." with the "p I g" graphic over every chapter head advertises itself as what it is: a brief vignette of each Chief Executive and the author's rating.

I enjoy Presidential Biographies but tire quickly of the "Schlesinger Industrial Complex." Every academic historian thinks the exact same things. One cannot avoid or ignore the corpora; the scholarship is important. At the same time, one must recalibrate from time to time against the community's belief in executive power and activist government. There are a bunch of anti-Schlesingers, but Hayward's book is a great place to start.

Hayward ranks the Presidents on their following their Constitutional roles. Overstepping and arrogating gains you stars in Schlesingerworld, but Hayward likes a Chief Magistrate (Gene Healy, call your office!). He delivers an important point early: modern Presdents talk too much!

The Strong, Silent Type "Madison took the country into war, the British burned down his house, and he still didnít give a speech." --George Will
[...]
At one appearance on tour in New York, President Benjamin Harrison begged off commenting on current issues before Congress, saying, "You ask for a speech. It is not very easy to know what one can talk about on such an occasion as this. Those topics which are most familiar to me, because I am brought in daily contact with them, namely public affairs, are in some measure forbidden to me. . ."

President Obama, and to be fair all of his predecessors that anybody alive remembers, will opine at length about local crime stories, policy, legislation, the infield fly rule...

It is a quick read and a very fun book full of great quotes and illustrative anecdotes, with each section ending with the author's Constitutional grade. It contains a great mix of amusing and more serious illustrations.

Wilson wrote, "Leadership does not always wear the harness of compromise. . . . Resistance is left to the minority, and such as will not be convinced are crushed." This sounds awfully close to what liberals today, such as Paul Krugman, decry as "eliminationist rhetoric." (It turns out that this passage in Wilsonís essay is taken almost verbatim from Hegel's Philosophy of History, where Hegel celebrates the leader "so mighty in form" that he will "crush to pieces many an object in his path.") Throughout "Leaders of Men" and other writings, Wilson envisions the modern president as a leader who not only sees the future, but sees it as his duty to force the pace toward that future. The president should use his "persuasion and conviction--the control of other minds by a strange personal influence and power."

I'll quibble with a few of his grades -- but it is his book. Harding and Coolidge get a great and welcome rehabilitation from the Schlesinger school, for their upholding Constitutional separation of powers and behavior in office.
Harding's good constitutional judgment can be seen in his four appointments to the Supreme Court: William Howard Taft (the former president), George Sutherland, Pierce Butler, and Edward T. Sanford. John Dean says, "By any historical criteria, Harding's selections to the U.S. Supreme Court were quite strong." While Taft is the best known of Harding's appointments, Sutherland was arguably the best, as he was a stalwart champion of the Founders' constitutional philosophy and defender of individual economic rights against arbitrary government regulation.

[...]
Liberal historians have reviled and belittled Calvin Coolidge even more than Warren Harding and Herbert Hoover, chiefly because Coolidge is a more formidable figure who presents the most serious challenge to the pretentions of Progressivism. Coolidge was the anti-Wilson in every way--except that he was just as interested as Wilson in theoretical questions about the applicability of the Constitution to modern America. To Harding's reverence for our Founding documents and restrained conduct in the presidential office, Coolidge added a principled and intellectually sophisticated defense of constitutional government against the Progressives' attack on it.

Eisenhower gets points for his view on executive power -- keeping a Congressional majority of his own party in check. But the General is rightly savaged for his Supreme Court picks.
FDR and LBJ get about the treatment you'd expect.
Between FDR's radical Progressive views about the principles of the American founding, his court packing scheme, and his left-leaning Supreme Court appointments, it is a shame that he canít be awarded a constitutional grade lower than F. His counterproductive economic policies and hyper-partisanship are just extra credit.
[...]
"He couldnít pour piss out of a boot if the instructions were printed on the heel." a mild (actually printable) example of the kind of language LBJ was known for

I'd have been mirabile dictu! a bit kinder to President Clinton and a bit harsher on President Bush #43. But it is his book. Good clean fun. Laugh a lot, learn a bunch. Four and a quarter stars.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 12:46 PM | What do you think? [0]

August 2, 2013

Otequay of the Ayday


We don't question McCain's patriotism or minimize his military service. But his service as a lawmaker has left a lot to be desired, at least for those in his own party. -Investors Ed Page: "Why Does John McCain Keep Running As a Republican?"


Trust in Government

Charles Murray writes about the Eisenhower and Kennedy Administrations, when three-quarters of the governed "trusted the federal government to do the right thing most or all of the time."

Among the nations of the earth, the ties that bind Americans to their national government have been uniquely idealistic. We have been in love with the idea of being American citizens, free and independent, equal before the law with every other American, living our lives as we see fit. The national government validated that celebratory view of ourselves, and we loved the government for doing it. We and our government maintained this happy state of affairs by observing three tacit compacts.

First, from the founding through the early 1960s, citizens did not expect much from the federal government. Running the daily life of society was the job of "we the people." It is one of the pleasant side effects of limited government: the government doesnít get blamed for failing to solve problems that are none of its business. And more: when we did solve our own problems, we gave credit to the political system that left us free to do so, the system embodied in the federal government.

Second, the federal government tried hard to avoid taking sides in specific moral disputes that divided Americans. The moral battles that arose -- slavery, suffrage for women, and prohibition, for example -- were resolved via constitutional amendment. The whole nation had to take a stand, and the federal government didnít get too far out in front.

Third, the national government made it easy for us to pride ourselves in being good citizens. If the ordinary Joe did nothing more than make an honest living and take care of his family, he was as good an American as the highest in the land. Presidents, senators, and congressmen constantly said so. And in practice as well, the federal government didnít ask much more than that -- through the 1950s, remarkably few federal laws affected individuals or businesses.

Government Posted by John Kranz at 1:59 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Well worth noting that this was written in December, 1997. Before the TEA Party. Before 9/11 and the PATRIOT Act. Before Presidents Obama and Bush the younger. (But not, coincidentally, before President "I did not have sexual relations with that woman.")

Posted by: johngalt at August 2, 2013 5:20 PM

This Might be the End

I frequently counsel caution on these pages. No matter how discredited a bad idea or faulty premise, they always come back like a good horror movie monster.

But this could actually kill ObamaCare®:

Congress passed the Obamacare law but won't have to live under it. My thoughts at this turn of events are unprintable.
Lawmakers and staff can breathe easy -- their health care tab is not going to soar next year.

The Office of Personnel Management, under heavy pressure from Capitol Hill, will issue regulations saying that the government can continue to make the employer contribution to the health plans of members and aides, according to several Hill sources.


The Republicans could still muff it, mind you (I think that is Caldera's First Law) but this could be parlayed into even more substantial opposition.

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 10:46 AM | What do you think? [4]
But AndyN thinks:

The problem with hoping for inciting even more substantial opposition is that aside from the first House election after PPACA passed, none of the opposition seems to turn into votes. Opinion polls have pretty consistently shown substantial opposition from the get go, but in the only poll that matters, voters routinely demonstrate that the law doesn't bother them all that much.

Add to that the fact that all informed people know that congress members regularly exempts themselves from the laws they pass for the rest of us, and I think most voters will just shrug this off as business as usual.

Posted by: AndyN at August 2, 2013 11:40 AM
But jk thinks:

Way to harsh my mellow, man... :)

I fear you're likely right, but would say that 2010 saw substantive opposition to ACA as that was a rather large bee in the Tea Partyiers' bonnets.

What happened to the Tea Party in 2012? Lois Lerner is good for some non-zero percent. Low info voters come out quadrennially, thinking it is their patriotic duty (thanks, guys!) The next midterms could be another 2010.

And just because it is expected doesn't mean that Leno & his ilk (maybe Jon Stewart if his Lithium does is right) cannot remind viewers that Congress has constructed something so crappy for all of us that they needed special exemption to avoid it.

Posted by: jk at August 2, 2013 12:37 PM
But AndyN thinks:

I've barely gotten started harshing your mellow. :-p

Let's say 2014 is another 2010, on steroids even. Let's say the GOP keeps the House, adds seats, and even takes a clear majority in the Senate. Do you think there's any chance at all they'll command 2/3 of the seats? If not, even if they can pass something that would roll back their preferential treatment under PPACA (and it's an open question whether establishment Republicans are any more interested in removing their hands from my pockets than the Democrats are) is there any reason to believe Obama wouldn't veto a bill taking a bite out of his signature legislative accomplishment? And even if they do come up with a veto-proof majority, is there any reason to believe that Obama will feel himself any more constrained by restrictions in whatever law they pass than he has by laws that have been passed in the past? He won't even follow the letter of the law when it's passed with nothing but Democrat votes, there's no way he'll follow a law he doesn't like that's forced through by the GOP.

Posted by: AndyN at August 2, 2013 5:53 PM
But jk thinks:

Where did I put those rose colored glasses?

No, I have no expectation of great electoral success. I'd hope to extend a majority in the House and trim theirs in the Senate. And you're quite right that an ObamaCare extirpation is unlikely.

I thought that this could be an inflection point. Perhaps the law becomes so unpopular that moderate Democrats run against it in 2014. Or enough lose in 2014 that they won't risk their seat on a lame duck's signature unpopular legislation.

Yet I admit it has attracted less attention than I expected (a couple memes from Facebook). Maybe it's a dud. But I will mention it now and then...

Posted by: jk at August 2, 2013 6:24 PM

August 1, 2013

Liberty on Film!!!

The video from the previous Liberty on the Rocks -- Flatirons is posted:

It was superb and I highly recommend it.

Part 2 | Part 3 | Dr. Gray's website


Quote of the Day

Rand Paul offers to "kiss and make up" with Chris Christie. Now that's a mental image I really didn't need. -- Robert Tracinski

Detroit: Death by Democracy

I've a few disagreements with George Will. But when he is on, it's a thing of magnificent beauty. (Even when I disagree, it's pretty.) Will calls it like it is today.

This bedraggled city's decay poses no theological conundrum of the sort that troubled Darwin, but it does pose worrisome questions about the viability of democracy in jurisdictions where big government and its unionized employees collaborate in pillaging taxpayers. Self-government has failed in what once was America's fourth-largest city and now is smaller than Charlotte.

Hat-tip: Insty

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 3:41 PM | What do you think? [0]

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