January 31, 2014

'Why Central Planning Sucks' For Dummies

While composing a Facebook comment reply I ran across this excellent, apparently original, essay by one Rollo McFloogle, written last February. Here's a morsel:

This is what happens when there's a lack of competition of putting ideas into action. When one and only one solution is allowed to be enacted, you can never tell how well it actually works because there's nothing to compare it to. This helps to perpetuate the idea that the central planners have the right solutions, but there are things outside of their control that prevent them from accomplishing their goals.

Government can then never relinquish control of the things they take over. Once they allow the free market to work, people will be able to make their own choices for their own lives and will begin to see that it works better than the government. The realization by people that they don't need the government is the beginning of the death sentence for the state.

Read it. Share it. Live it.

But Keith Arnold thinks:

Central Planning explained:

A commissar in the Soviet Union went out to one of those state collective farms, spoke to the director of the farm, and said, "Comrade Director, how is the potato crop?"

"Oh," he said, "Comrade Commissar, if we could put the potatoes in one pile, they would reach to the very foot of God."

And the commissar said, "Comrade Director, you forget. This is the Soviet Union. There is no God."

And the director answered, "Comrade Commissar, YOU forget. This is the Soviet Union. There are no potatoes."

Posted by: Keith Arnold at January 31, 2014 4:35 PM
But jk thinks:

Very well done. It feeds well into my tiresome yet true appeal for incremental, marginal improvement: if there are zip lock enclosures on government cheese, they came late. A seller improves the product to increase sales.

On the other hand, we have an accidental segue to my environmental argument. Yeah, the five of us can decide how to deal with a squirrel (though I am guessing he does not attend a lot of HOA Board meetings...)

But there are actual externalities. What if the pest is one owner's pet squirrel? A factory wants to pollute the river, cause acid rain, overfish the community pond, or punch a hole in the Ozone with its CheezWiz propellant. Don't know how I drew the environmentalist short straw today. But there are no natural property rights based solutions to these. Purist libertarians like to pretend that there are.

Posted by: jk at January 31, 2014 5:57 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"Tragedy of the commons" is to the environmental regulatory movement what "Interstate Commerce Clause" is to economic regulation and redistribution - a fig leaf of legality.

Multiple attempts have been made to establish a universal environmental protectorate which, in the name of, every manner of rights violation may be justified. Anthropogenic Global Climate Change is by far the most successful effort to date.

A contradictory position is difficult to justify in the face of "you are poisoning every living creature" even when said "poison" is nothing but mammal breath.

The only rational answer I can come up with is that "protection" of the commons from anything and everything is nothing more than another claimed "common good" which Rand dismissed thusly:

It is accepted precisely for its elastic, undefinable, mystical character which serves, not as a moral guide, but as an escape from morality. Since the good is not applicable to the disembodied, it becomes a moral blank check for those who attempt to embody it.

At its core 'the good of the commons' is a code whereby "the good of some men takes precedence over the good of others." It is intended to benefit, not the earth or the animals or the air, but the men who invoke it. The only way to fight it is to ask how a rule can be good for "all men" without being good for "every man?" If some are harmed in the name of helping all - or, at least, the majority - that is what's known as an animal sacrifice. Ritualistic chanting is optional.

I am man. I have a right to breathe. I have a right to burn wood and oil and other fuels. I surrender that right to no other man or group of men.

Posted by: johngalt at February 3, 2014 12:33 PM

Not Using My Tune in a Beer Commercial! (See Update)

It was pretty popular in my day to freak out when a popular artist's music appeared in a commercial. I don't know if times are more enlightened now or not. But I offer a pragmatic consideration:

The music in the Bud commercial I love is from Passenger. "All the Little Lights." The particular track seems to be pretty popular [see UPDATE for an important contradiction]:


The whole album on MP3 is $5 and I am diggin' it.

UPDATE: I've been the last guy to the party before. Passenger is Michael David Rosenberg who adopted the name after the band broke up. And, mea maxim culpa, he had some success with the tune before the King of Beers came along:

I do not retract my props for the All the Little Lights" album. It's quite good.

Rant Posted by John Kranz at 1:49 PM | What do you think? [4]
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Submitted for your consideration: giant, big-business, capitalist-oppressor-of-the-masses telecom company Nortel, in 2000, used "Come Together" by noted anti-capitalist John Lennon. Someday, I'm going to find out what John thinks of that.

To coin a phrase from the cool kids, "your argument is invalid."

Say, now that marijuana can be sold legally in your state, how long you think it will be before someone airs a commercial for it and licenses Bob Dylan's famous tune for the soundtrack?

Posted by: Keith Arnold at January 31, 2014 4:45 PM
But jk thinks:

Working from memory: Michael Jackson owned the publishing for the Lennon/McCartney songbook and it was a pretty frequent topic of conversation between Sir Paul and the King of Pop that he please resist the temptation. I don't know if the spot you describe was during his stewardship.

It was a pretty big deal either way. I recall that.

Posted by: jk at January 31, 2014 5:16 PM
But jk thinks:

... and it was a cover: Watch on YouTube

Posted by: jk at January 31, 2014 5:19 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Still, the choice of song as well as songwriter gives me pause. It's not such a big deal to most people anymore, I suppose, but I may one of few left who still reacts to the practice.

The notion that, for example, an investment bank that specifically states in their commercial that they're targeting my generation, and chooses to play Credence in an attempt to win me over. Really? You think that picking Credence for your music is going to convey to me that you can be trusted to decide which hedge fund to sink my money into?

And yet, they wouldn't be doing it if it didn't work. Television commercials cost money, and they focus-group and test-market these things before plunking down their money. No one has ever gone broke underestimating the intelligence of the average mass-media consumer.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at January 31, 2014 5:50 PM

Quote of the Day

With the careers of two popular Republican governors--who might have been destined for national office--hanging in the balance, such suspicions of federal prosecutorial partisanship have become inevitable. But given that such federal prosecutions for state political activities abound, one must not be too quick to conclude that the department's motives are purely partisan. There may be some nonpartisan recklessness too. -- Harvey Silverglate.
Well, okay then. And don't miss his excellent "Three Felonies a Day" [Review Corner].

All Hail Geraghty

I enjoy Jim Geraghty's "Morning Jolt" newsletter and quote little bits of it frequently. He's not unlike a Jonah Goldberg or Mark Steyn in his capacity to get a point across entertainingly [subscribe].

Today he documents a huge victory of the environmentalist movement, linking to and quoting a piece by William Dietrich. Worth a read in full but the upshot is that the bulk of the Pacific Northwest lumber industry was shut down over the spotted owl -- a species almost nobody had heard of until it graced TIME magazine's cover in 1990.

Well, lumbering was shut down and the spotted owl population continues to decline. It seems barred owls are killing them. So in our best werefromthegovernmnetandwereheretohelp mode, the Feds are removing the barred owls. Talk about picking winners and losers, eh? Geraghty:

That terminology is a bit Orwellian, isn't it? We "removed" the owls by tracking them, attracting them, and then blasting them full of birdshot until they were dead. Remember that next time the Fish and Wildlife Service ask you to "remove" your trash.

So the environmentalists' plan to save the owls . . . is to shoot other owls.

Now, come on. We're conservatives. We know that this isn't a real solution. Put aside the concerns that this constitutes big government meddling in Charles Darwin's biological free market.

This is a territorial dispute between two species, and one is aggressive and invasive. The only thing that stops a barred owl . . . with a gun . . . is a spotted owl with a gun. It's time to arm the spotted owls and enact a "stand your ground" law that guarantees the spotted owl's right to use deadly force to defend themselves without any requirement to evade or retreat from a dangerous situation.

You will get the spotted owls' guns when you take them . . . from their cold, dead talons.

Environment Posted by John Kranz at 10:33 AM | What do you think? [8]
But Keith Arnold thinks:

"... or even just sat at home and watched cartoons?"

That would be more than a removal of their negative economic impact; it would be a positive. Think no further than the increased sales of Mountain Dew and Pop-Tarts it would engender, and the stimulus that would have on the economy.

JK: I'll take the "Against" of your resolution. The possible benefit in terms of acid rain and the ozone layer are more than offset by the added costs of developing and producing unleaded fuel, the profits of which, being made available for improvement in gasoline technology, might have been reaped today. One might as well say that the scarcity and high prices caused by the Arab Oil Embargo and Carter's disastrous policies were a good, because they forced us to develop more efficient engines. Break a window to stimulate the economy?

We could also introduce ethanol and the replacement of R-12 with R-134a to this discussion, if you'd like...

Posted by: Keith Arnold at January 31, 2014 2:05 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Correct me if I'm misinformed, but "acid rain" was a consequence of high-sulfur coal. Tetra-ethyl-lead in gasoline was targeted as a purported source of environmental lead poisoning - a claim which may also have been dubious. (I'm certain that the removal of lead from electronics for the same reason was dubious.) BUT...

I bear no ill will toward those who strive to reduce pollution. The environmentalism industry however has several faults: Zeaolous extremism that prevents any sense of balance or judgement in cost benefit analysis, a shortage of enough legitimate causes to support full-time employment, and a fertile environment for co-option by anti-modernity and anti-progress elements, being just a few that come to mind.

Posted by: johngalt at January 31, 2014 2:53 PM
But jk thinks:

I'm just a software guy. It could all be caused by bovine flatulence...

I think the question is hugely important from a freedom perspective. I agree with both of you about the abuses of the green lobby (excepting the sea-foam green guitar industrial complex). And I agree that the net is negative.

But the foundation of the pro side is that there are negative externalities whose only mitigation is through regulation. The camel's nose has been invited into the tent. One foot down the slippery slope.

Posted by: jk at January 31, 2014 3:10 PM
But johngalt thinks:

The foundation of the pro side is that those negative externalities outweigh the combination of all of the positives. And since in a capitalistic system they contend that all of the positives accrue only to the person engaged in industry, any negative consequence whatsoever is sufficient, in their estimation, to compel the industrialist to cease and decist.

Further, environmentalists always assume that the negatives are greater than they really are.

Posted by: johngalt at January 31, 2014 6:42 PM
But jk thinks:

Don't worry. At midnight I turn back into jk...

Wit' all due respect, no. The pro side is "see, we need some regulation, we need some governmental environmental oversight. Now that we've established what you are, we may quibble about price."

The pro side establishes that there is a line to be set and a role for the EPA's existence. The against side would document how property rights and laissez faire policies could manage these. I'd love that to be true, but I have not seen it.

Posted by: jk at January 31, 2014 8:01 PM
But johngalt thinks:
"But who would protect the air? Even if your free-market capitalist pipe dream really worked, nobody can own the air."

I was trying to answer that rebuttal before anyone made it. Now I've the pleasure of lobbing it at your reasonable point of view.

Posted by: johngalt at February 3, 2014 11:50 AM

January 30, 2014

Mystery Movieset Theater

This seems to be the day for posting videos. Try this one. See if you can recognize the fictional setting.

Video streaming by Ustream

Yes, friends, AS3 is filming.


Seen it? When Brother Keith posted it on Facebook yesterday, it was a little over a million views. I just watched again (okay a few times...) and it is 13,183,691.

I ranted a bit on FB but I need a little room and a safe place to stretch. This is awesome. There's the Mona Lisa, Van Gogh's Houses at Auvers has always been a fave, Beethoven's Fifth, John Coltrane's Giant Steps . . . and this year's Budweiser Super Bowl commercial.

The left may whine about corporations and capitalism and consumerism and materialism and irritable bowel syndrome and FOX News and that goofy trapezoid behind the goalie out of which he cannot play the puck. But this masterpiece validates all I hold dear.

First let us apply some Adam Smith and Leonard Read. How many people were required to make this? And to bring in a little Yaron Brook, how many were creative and artistic? Art Directors, writers, sound engineers, costume, makeup, lighting and cinematography, The music on its own is masterful, and that paid the bills of several players, composers, and engineers.

I love art jobs, but let's salute the agents, accountants, advertising execs, project managers and those who made and brought coffee. A little Hayekian spontaneous order makes all those goods and services available on demand.

All funded by the good folks at Anhueser Busch to sell more beer. It's an "institutional ad" to promote the company without product mention. Nobody can be certain if it works. But the camera guys and singers and lighting techs will get paid to do something they love instead of sustenance faming.

Thanks Capitalism! And GO BRONCOS!

UPDATE: Corporate stooges slogging through another day at work:

Rant Posted by John Kranz at 11:32 AM | What do you think? [2]
But dagny thinks:

You forgot all the animal trainers doing something they love as well.

Posted by: dagny at January 31, 2014 1:17 PM
But jk thinks:

Thought of it but did not type it (suuure....)

Posted by: jk at January 31, 2014 1:57 PM

January 29, 2014

Now, I believe in Reincarnation

The Japanese researchers who won a 2012 Nobel Prize for their 2006 discovery of a process for converting adult stem cells to embryonic stem cells has now made an even greater discovery: a simple way to convert those adult cells to a pre-embryonic state. This could prove as important a step in healthcare as was the discovery of penicillin. NewScientist.com

The team call their new cells "stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency", or STAP cells.


"I don't think for one moment people thought this might be possible in humans," says Chris Mason, professor of regenerative medicine at University College London. "Who would have thought that to reprogram adult cells to a pluripotent state just required a small amount of acid for less than half an hour - it's an incredible discovery."

Reincarnation, or cloning of an identical copy, is not yet proven but regeneration of any organ by injection of STAP cells, is. The implications for treatment of disease and organ failure are truly staggering.

Science Posted by JohnGalt at 4:20 PM | What do you think? [3]
But jk thinks:

I sure hope the FDA will make sure it is safe before they endanger any lives with this risky procedure.

Posted by: jk at January 29, 2014 5:41 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Man. What a buzz kill.

Personally, my first dystopic thought was, "Jeburz, the Malthusians are gonna go completely ape shit crazy over this one."

Suppose there a symbiotic relationship between Maltusians and the FDA?

Posted by: johngalt at January 29, 2014 6:05 PM
But jk thinks:

I don't mean to be negative. I just recommend a ten-year, double blind study where half the patients who need a new liver are given one made from STAP cells, and the control group participants are given a liver made of Play-Doh® Then, their application can proceed.

Posted by: jk at January 29, 2014 6:22 PM

Dinesh D'Souza v. Bill Ayers

Tomorrow at 7:30 EST, 5:30 MST, Dinesh D'Souza will debate Bill Ayers - "What's So Great About America?"

Watch it live at http://live.dineshdsouza.com/

But johngalt thinks:

Ayers claims that America is still a white-supremecist nation. Agree or disagree? Why?

Posted by: johngalt at January 30, 2014 8:37 PM

Otequay of the Ayday

"Almost two months married.... A better wife I never hoped to have.... She bears with my "innocent peculiarities" so kindly, so lovingly.... Let me strive to be as true to her as she is to me. Let me too be loving, kind, and thoughtful. Especially let me not permit the passion I have to see constant improvement in those I love, to be so blind in its eagerness as to wound a nature so tenderly sensitive as I know I sometimes have done. This is indeed life. The love of wedded wife! Can anything enjoyed on earth be a source of truer, purer happiness—happiness more unalloyed than this? Blessings on his head who first invented marriage!"

-Rutherford Birchard Hayes

From a dictionary.com definition for unalloyed.

But jk thinks:

The first president with "a phone and a pen."

Beautiful. Thanks for posting.

Posted by: jk at January 29, 2014 1:22 PM

January 28, 2014

What's your sexual orientation?

Gee whiz, this woman gives smug, self-righteous, potty-mouthed Prius owners a bad name.

But jk thinks:

"I'm just asking you to be pleasant and courteous" (~0:40) Oh! It's Mother F-ing Theresa!

Posted by: jk at January 29, 2014 1:25 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yeah... "Do as I say, not as I do."

I should explain my choice of headline: Since she asked the irrelevant personal question "What do you do for a living" I think I would have replied by asking the above.

And by the way, madam, I don't "need" to drive this truck, I "want" to drive this truck. Not least of all because you and your ilk want to make doing so, and a crap load of other stuff I want, illegal. Shove off, busybody!

Posted by: johngalt at January 29, 2014 1:37 PM
But jk thinks:

She's just trying to make the world a nicer place...

Posted by: jk at January 29, 2014 1:45 PM

De Mortuis nil nisi Bonum and all...

The Pete Seeger worship on Facebook is getting thick.

He wrote some very good songs but he was guided by very bad ideas.

Thanks for listening! The Pope, the Dalai Lama and Pete Seeger walk into a bar...


Posted by John Kranz at 3:45 PM | What do you think? [1]
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Don't be so hard on the guy! I think great songs like "Night Moves" and "Hollywood Nights" more than make up for whatever aberrant political leanings he may have had. After all, such a vast majority of the entertainment crowd is immersed in...

What, what? PETE Seeger? To quote Emily Litella, "Never mind." Do carry on.

(Yes, I know they're spelled differently. Just go with it.)

Posted by: Keith Arnold at January 28, 2014 8:11 PM


Sports Posted by John Kranz at 11:51 AM | What do you think? [0]

January 27, 2014

All Hail Taranto

Liza Mundy says, of Wendy Davis "Truth is, the lives of single mothers are multifaceted and hard to categorize." James replies:

It's not that hard to categorize Wendy Davis: She was among the category of "single mothers" who are married to rich dudes.

Heck, if you don't have to be single to be a single mother, it stands to reason, or whatever Mundy is substituting for it, that you don't have to be a mother either. That would make your humble columnist a single mother. So don't judge us.

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 5:54 PM | What do you think? [0]

Meanwhile, in Buffy News...

Danny Strong looks more like the superhero Jonathan and less like the nerd -- he has his own TV show.

The network has picked up Empire, a drama pilot from The Butler's Daniels and Strong, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

The family drama is set in the world of a hip-hop empire -- think the Jay Z story. The drama will feature both original and current music. Strong, who penned the script for The Butler, which was produced and directed by Daniels, is attached to write, while Daniels will direct. From 20th Century Fox Television and Imagine, Brian Grazer will exec produce alongside Daniels, Strong and Francie Calfo. Grazer, who is passionate about hip-hop music and culture, has been wanting to do a character-driven series that gives the audience a behind-the-scenes look

Hat-tip: Whedonesque Blog

Television Posted by John Kranz at 5:08 PM | What do you think? [0]

Progress toward Xenophobia

Before I learned why, I wondered how an entire national population could support a government that murdered millions of its own citizens. Among other places, it happened in Nazi Germany when the populist regime whipped up anger and resentment against the small and distinct set of individuals who were identified by their Jewish heritage. On Saturday Tom Perkins, a co-founder of a successful investment firm, opined, "I perceive a rising tide of hatred of the successful one percent." His short letter to WSJ ended thusly:

This is a very dangerous drift in our American thinking. Kristallnacht was unthinkable in 1930; is its descendent "progressive" radicalism unthinkable now?

Given attitudes like this being spoken out loud, in public, by prominent members of society, is there any wonder why President Obama and Congressional Democrats are sparing no effort to demonize the TEA Party, and anyone who says that everyone has a right to his own liberty and his own opinions, even the "obscenely" rich?

Yet every single commenter to this Fox Denver article on the subject is disapprobative of the "delusional" billionaire. Notably, however, none of them posits that there is not a "rising tide of hatred for the successful one percent." Instead, they just call him names. But apparently that's all it takes to win a philosophical battle in today's world, since even the firm Perkins founded threw him under the bus.

Liberty on the Rocks

I know at least one friend of this blog who is a big fan of Dr. Steven Hayward. He is the speaker tonight at LOTR-F!

Join us on Monday, January 27th, where your special guest speaker will be Dr. Steven Hayward, who is the inaugural visiting scholar in conservative thought and policy at the University of Colorado at Boulder. The title of Dr. Hayward's talk will be "Boulder or Rolling Stone? Reflections on Being a Conservative in a Liberal University."

After Dr. Hayward's presentation there will be short Q&A, followed by the opportunity to network with other local liberty supporters. Come for the event, stay for the food and networking - you're guaranteed a great evening no matter what!

I am a big fan as well and have been looking forward to tonight. The weather looks "iffy" as the meteorologists say. P() = 0.35 right about now.

Miller's Grille in Lafayette for those braver than me (a large set).

Colorado Posted by John Kranz at 2:11 PM | What do you think? [5]
But johngalt thinks:

I have a strong LOTR impediment in four young children. If I had just one or two, or if I followed the advice of blogger Amy Glass, who wrote: "You will never have the time, energy, freedom or mobility to be exceptional if you have a husband and kids."

WARNING: Post highjacking in progress.

Posted by: johngalt at January 27, 2014 3:53 PM
But jk thinks:

All's fair in love, war and blogging -- hijack away.

Shame we both miss a good one, drop N darlings off at Uncle JK and Auntie Riza's on the way...

Posted by: jk at January 27, 2014 4:15 PM
But johngalt thinks:

The anti-procreation Ms. Glass referred to a husband as being the "so simple anyone can do it" life choice but of course in my case it would be a wife. "I wonder if she ever considered the point of view of her opposite gender," he asks knowingly? Spoiler alert: Nope.

Posted by: johngalt at January 27, 2014 5:43 PM
But dagny thinks:

Uncle JK and Auntie Riza, should be careful what they suggest. The third one currently wants to grow up to be a, "Rock Star." We could drop them off and tell them that Uncle JK can teach them how to play the guitar within the 15 minute attention span of a 4 year old. "What?? I have no idea where they saw a video of Uncle JK and GREEN electric guitar..."

Posted by: dagny at January 27, 2014 7:12 PM
But jk thinks:

Rock Star is a superb vocational choice. Lucrative, challenging and lots of opportunities for creativity. Take that fire fighters!

Posted by: jk at January 27, 2014 7:42 PM

Mickey Kaus vs. The Irish Model

Mickey Kaus is a bright guy. He was one of the first bloggers I regularly read. I sent him a few bucks in his quixotic primary campaign against Sen. Barbara Boxer (Satanic Minions - CA). Insty still links to his populist immigration rants; both the articles and the approbational linking sadden me. But I am learning to live with it.

He has a guest editorial in the WSJ today that exposes a populism which extends beyond immigration policy. He seeks an equality more of stature than of income. He seems -- mostly -- ready to ignore big CEO salaries and larger Gini coefficients as long as we do not truly become a two--tiered society.

The parts I'm accusing of populism include a resignation to diminished opportunity for much of the population. The smartypantses will be Google billionaires, but the hoi polloi will not find meaningful work. What many propagate as the New Normal becomes New Dickensian in Kaus's capable prose. I call shenanigans, but we're both predicting the future -- aside from a Seahawks victory in #SBLXVIII I offer wide latitude in the art of prognosticating.

He ends with a striking comment, suggesting that ObamaCare "fixes" will usher in a new disparity.

The draft isn't coming back anytime soon. But the great social egalitarian hope--mine, anyway--was that Mr. Obama's health plan might perform a similar function, offering the poor and middle class the same care, in the same hospitals, with the same doctors--and the same respect--that the affluent get (much as Medicare already does).

The tragedy is that the Democrats readily abandoned this goal. In order to save money and extend maximum coverage and subsidy to the maximum number of the uninsured, Democrats signed off on a system in which affluent Americans sign up for totally different medical networks than people who have less to spend, while the poorest get shunted to Medicaid and the richest bail completely into a private world of concierge medicine.

In this, Kaus and I agree on the outcome; we will have a two-tiered health care system. While it is not what I would have chosen, it is the least worst option. If I can audition for a spot in Tarantro's column today: "now that Pandora has got the toothpaste out of the tube, the Irish model represents our best hope for a soft landing."

Ireland has a full-blown social medicine system. Nobody is denied care. But the care sucks, so Eiyërses (or whatever they call themselves) purchase private insurance to escape. This happens in the UK as well, but private care is considered a luxury. My understanding of Ireland is that it is a middle-class good.

Left-of-center blog friend Silence Dogood, whom we seem to have chased away, told me early on that the sky-boxes subsidize ticket prices for the nosebleed seats and that HOT lanes absorb traffic from the non payers -- why would we not let rich folks buy a better health care experience and siphon some of that money off to treat others?

This discussion transpired long before the PPACAo2010. But I think it has much to offer. Let's provide universal coverage (Larry Kudlow and I would prefer a voucher to ObamaCare). The newfound creation of concierge medicine might be a great free market model. (Thanks, Mister President! Your signature achievement was so awful, it sprouted a creative workaround that might improve the world. Yay team!)

Medicare-plus for everybody. Concierge medicine, which is market priced and transparent for the rest. Let a million surgical centers bloom!

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 11:07 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

We used to have "concierge medicine" in this country too. Doctors provided the services they judged appropriate and billed patients directly. They even made house calls! It worked great until govenment decided it was necessary to make care more "equal."

Might O-care fail severely enough to go back to the future? Sure! But it's a cryin' shame so many have needlessly suffered and died while we labored through the torturous "progress" of this failed social experiment.

Posted by: johngalt at January 27, 2014 2:20 PM

January 26, 2014

Review Corner Tease...

The engine check light is on and the HOA newsletter which I edit is past due. Quick, somebody call a Waaaahmbulance!

I'm fine, but you're going to have to wait a week to find out how totally awesome Brian Wesbury's It's Not As Bad As You Think Why Capitalism Trumps Fear and the Economy Will Thrive is. Unless you do the right thing and order it right now.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 11:44 AM | What do you think? [0]

January 24, 2014

Shameless Promotion of Others

I hope I am not sharing too much, but I'm going to risk it.

Blog friend Sugarchuck is in Memphis competing at the 30th International Blues Challenge with Annie Mack. (If you have not purchased the new CD, you are a bad person, have no taste, and are probably a statist or a Charger fan or something worse). But that's not important.

From Facebook, I learn both that they have advanced to the semifinals and that sc is eating quite a bit of fried chicken and waffles on Beale Street. Plus, this cool picture form the "Women's Blues Showcase""


Break a leg, man!

Music Posted by John Kranz at 6:09 PM | What do you think? [0]

On Richard Sherman

Blog contrarian here (although the precise identity of "ThreeSources Convention Wisdom Guy" is a little vague...)

I saw the last quarter of the NFC Championship at a friend's house with the sound off. I had a distinct Kissingeresque "why can't they both lose?" attitude, so life, and some home-made jalapeño poppers were good. I looked up to see "oh, we're playing the 'Hawks."

Then I saw the infamous Richard Sherman interview with no audio. I said "man, I'd hate to see that guy if he lost." And I went back to the snack table.

Later I saw on Twitter that Sherman had offended God, King. and Country with his "meltdown." Meltdown, huh, I gotta see this. YouTube complied and -- while I am not handing out Sportsmanship of the Year awards -- I think it's close to if not within the bounds of reasonable behavior if you have just won the NFC Championship.

I was also a bit contrarian in liking Bronco Tim Tebow. I even have a Tebow 15 Jets shirt in the giveaway pile if anybody wants it. But, I gotta admit, his "there's stuff more important than football" schtick wore thin. Yes it is true, but we pay you many millions of dollars each Sunday for your specific ability -- not in uplifting the community's children. I accepted his religion but never completely accepted his professed priorities. I suspect Peyton Manning would put the playbook down for a minute to save a drowning child, too. But I hope he'd deny it.

I made a waggish, comment-bait remark that I posit Richard Sherman as a Randian hero. He even has a name that would fit in Atlas Shrugged. "Ehrimigawd, Miss Taggart. We'll never win the Championship without Richard Sherman. And we just found this note on his locker....by the way, do you smell smoke?"

I'm going to double down with a Facebook Meme. I don't care a whole lot about Mister Bieber either (actually, the Bill Clinton story is endearing...) I hope he finds a way to enjoy life and all but is there not some verisimilitude in this?


Hat-tip: Derek Minor (Pro) Facebook


Sports Posted by John Kranz at 2:08 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

If the meme were fair it would say that Sherman threatened to "shut your mouth for you real quick" which does have at least overtones of physical violence against others. But anyone who called him a thug is a moron. Beebs has done things worthy of praise and I refuse to hold anyone except myself to a perfect standard. Misguided kid is apt.

Posted by: johngalt at January 27, 2014 12:36 PM

This is not news, how?

Larry Kudlow mentioned this last night and I had not heard about. I expected to read a lot about it today. Here's Tom Howell, Jr. in the Washington Times, excerpted on foxnews.com:

Moody's Investor Service has changed its outlook for the U.S. health care insurance sector from stable to negative, citing Obamacare's rollout and the uncertainty it brings.

The private credit rating agency said potential fallout from the Affordable Care Act's implementation -- including changes to the individual market and the impact of the law's "employer mandate" on commercial group plans in January 2015 -- presents the greatest challenge to health insurers’ credit profile. Lower reimbursement rates among Medicare Advantage plans also are creating financial pressure, it said.

"While all of these issues had been on our radar screen as we approached 2014, a new development and a key factor for the change in outlook is the unstable and evolving regulatory environment under which the sector is operating," Moody's said. "Notably, new regulations and presidential announcements over the last several months with respect to the ACA have imposed operational changes well after product and pricing decisions had been finalized."

A trusted, non-partisan, not political third party has pointed out that the PPACAo2010 will destroy the private health care sector. I still did not see anything, so I thought I'd search. Bing's autocomplete for "Moody's downgrades ..." has a long list. But "health care sector" does not show even when you provide a few letters.

So, I'm the only guy looking for it. Okay, Bing®, whatchya got?


All "Conservative" news outlets. It is well known that I am not a big FOX News fan. But this is an actual fact. This is timely, germane and important. And nooooooooooooooobody but FOX, WaTimes, CNS (oh, and Kudlow!) cares at all.

But johngalt thinks:

Even if they did care, do you think they want their phone tapped (and likely worse) like James Rosen's was?

News editors are learning that lying, by omission or otherwise, to get a politician elected always requires you to continue the lie, lest your own fecklessness be exposed.

Posted by: johngalt at January 27, 2014 12:32 PM
But jk thinks:

Pretty dour even for ThreeSources.

I'd love to be incredibly argumentative but I am increasingly concerned with the Bananarepublicization of our politics. Watergate was enough of a big deal that it is forever enshrined in suffix history and Woodstein and Bernward are lionized well beyond their actual contributions.

Yet, more egregious things are clearly going down. Rep. Darrel Issa is holding hearings. Crickets. (Are Issa's hearings political? Yup. Were Sam Ervin and Frank Church saints? I. Think. Not.)

I think the bulk of media folk are just generally on-board and not cowed. I don't present that as a defense.

Posted by: jk at January 27, 2014 2:09 PM
But johngalt thinks:

This is the revelation I had in mind when I made the "keep lying or expose your fecklessness" comment about news editors. It doesn't support the "we're afraid of the administration" claim, but that was pure speculation bordering on sarcasm. It also doesn't admit "we lied to get Obama elected" but that is common knowledge, is it not?

Thank you for keeping me precise.

UPDATE: Added missing hyperlink

Posted by: johngalt at January 27, 2014 3:59 PM

Now She Tells Us

Our Miss Margaret. Thanks to "What I Saw at the Revolution," her stirring post-9/11 columns, and her deft touch with language I'll forever retain a soft spot for Peggy Noonan.

And yet. Because she fell for a slick snake-oil salesman of a politician, I'll never completely trust her.

Her Lithium dose is good today, or the Moon is rising in Mercury. I don't know what it takes, but the keenly insightful Noonan has a great piece on the expected banality of impending SOTU speech:

No one's really listening to the president now. He has been for five years a nonstop wind-up talk machine. Most of it has been facile, bland, the same rounded words and rounded sentiments, the same soft accusations and excuses. I see him enjoying the sound of his voice as the network newsman leans forward eagerly, intently, nodding at the pearls, enacting interest, for this is the president and he is the anchorman and surely something important is being said with two such important men engaged.

But nothing interesting was being said! Looking back on this presidency, it has from the beginning been a 17,000 word New Yorker piece in which, calmly, sonorously, with his lovely intelligent voice, the president says nothing, or little that is helpful, insightful or believable. "I'm not a particularly ideological person." "It's hard to anticipate events over the next three years." "I don't really even need George Kennan right now." "I am comfortable with complexity." "Our capacity to do some good . . . is unsurpassed, even if nobody is paying attention."

Nobody is!

She ends with some factual line-blurring that all the recent SOTUs have not really lived up to Daniel Webster. But this particular President was always all bluster and autobiography. Ms. Noonan, with all due respect, he didn't have anything to say in 2008 -- when you fell for his "facile, bland, same rounded words and rounded sentiments." Ten points for those of us who noticed back then.

January 23, 2014

Yet Another Keen Insight on the NSA

Edward Snowden is a uniter not a divider! Surely Sens. Bernie Sanders and Rand Paul are headed to a great Kumbaya moment where the left and the right will join forces to fight Big Brother.

Not. So. Fast. Jason Kuznicki @ libertarianism.org posts a public response to ex-libertarian Will Wilkinson. I think he makes an original and important point.

But I think that for many modern liberals the reality is much simpler. They like the surveillance state because modern liberalism sooner or later requires it.

If it wants to succeed, or if it even wants to be taken seriously in many of the claims that it makes, modern, paternalistic liberalism requires watching people. A lot. The state must watch so that we the people don't violate any the tens of thousands of rules in the Federal Register. The state must watch so that we exercise and eat properly. The state must watch so that no one makes a racist joke or fails to serve a wedding cake to a same-sex couple. The state must watch so that we don't seek alternate medical care or put any otherwise wrong substances in our bodies. The state must watch so that we all comply minutely with every one of the state's vast array of commands.

Terrorism is an excuse for the surveillance state, but it's only one of many such excuses. What we're ultimately headed for might well be called the paternalism of things.

Hat-tip: blog friend tgreer on Facebook. I replied that "A libertarian model survives quite well without surveillance. But if our calorie counts require scrutiny..."

But johngalt thinks:

Hear hear.

Posted by: johngalt at January 23, 2014 6:56 PM

Quote of the Day

Charlie Crist does have a passionate, uncompromising belief and a deep-rooted principle. The problem is that his passionate, uncompromising belief is the deep-rooted principle that he should be governor. Everything else is negotiable. -- Jim Geraghty [subscribe]
Politics Posted by John Kranz at 5:21 PM | What do you think? [0]

January 22, 2014

Superbowl 48 - Denver Broncos vs. Evil Incarnate

Did somebody mention [sixth and eighth comment] football?

Here's a fun article by Bill Plaschke in the LA Times:
Super Bowl roles have been cast for the good guys and the bad guys

For the record:

- Even though I live in Denver and am a Broncos fan, I love Seattle and root for the Seahawks.
- I am also a fan of the South Central LA success story and Stanford grad, Richard Sherman (although I don't revere him quite as much as I do the Broncos' Knowshon Moreno.)
- And despite a conscious belief in the existence of good and evil, applying either term to either team is specious.

Nonetheless, "good" will defeat "evil". The Broncos will beat the Seahawks by more than a touchdown and the officiating will have nothing to do with the outcome. But the Seahawks will be even better next year for the experience.

Sports Posted by JohnGalt at 2:54 PM | What do you think? [7]
But jk thinks:

C'mon guys. I know we're having a jocular moment with a lighter topic, but we discuss a lot of serious things on this blog and I don't think it is right to describe the Seahawks or Coach Belichik as "evil." Misuse the word and it loses currency quicker than a Fed chaired by Janet Yellen.

Phil Rivers and the San Diego Chargers are evil.

Posted by: jk at January 23, 2014 9:48 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Heh. Even when we talk football it still manages to turn philosophical.

I realized as soon as I saved the original post that the linked article used the term "bad" rather than "evil." So why did I use it in my headline? I'm throwin' RealClearSports under the bus. [yesterday's Evening Edition]

Posted by: johngalt at January 23, 2014 2:41 PM
But johngalt thinks:

But KA's still got a point: With Al Davis gone the "most evil" title is up for grabs in the NFL. Belichick is my frontrunner too.

20 points to JK for the losing currency analogy. That one is a gem.

Posted by: johngalt at January 23, 2014 2:44 PM
But dagny thinks:

Jerry Jones?? Daniel Snyder??

Posted by: dagny at January 23, 2014 5:09 PM
But dagny thinks:

While we're at it, we could make a whole, "most Evil," team, sort of like a Pro Bowl team:

Owner: Jones
Head Coach: Belicheat
Starting QB: Rivers
Back up QB: Michael Vick (everyone loves dogs)
CB: Sherman
Nstompikin Suhpid (Can't remember what position he plays) etc. etc.

Posted by: dagny at January 23, 2014 7:08 PM
But jk thinks:

[Put this on the wrong post last night, my apologies!]

I was going to seriously posit Mister Sherman as something of a Randian hero. He's good, he knows it, he says it. Would Twitter trend well for John Galt's speech?

I even have rare warm feeling for Darth Hoodie. He and Kraft come out well in Tedi Bruschi's book.

& you left out a certain pedophile QB that plays for the Steelers...

Posted by: jk at January 24, 2014 10:13 AM

jk delenda est?

I am forever "not libertarian enough" to please Facebook friends, Liberty on the Rocks -- Flatirons folk, and -- on occasion -- ThreeSourcers.

But I am starting to feel like an anarchist in the Snowden/NSA contretemps. The WSJ Ed Page, Larry Kudlow, the usual suspects have allowed their antipathy toward Edward Snowden to assert a reflexive defense of the NSA and domestic surveillance.

I am still content to answer "Snowden: Hero or Traitor?" with an assertive "whatever..." I'm all for pursuing foreign intelligence, even if it includes allies. (Gambling, at Rick's?)

But my Conservative buddies have accepted internal, domestic collection of metadata. "They're not listening to our calls." No, but I imagine an enemy of this administration (a large dataset) who made frequent calls to a cancer clinic, bordello, reported paramour, &c. Team that up with search requests and an aggressive prosecutor and it does not describe our expectations of privacy.

Randy Barnett, now in the WaPo-sponsored Volokh Conspiracy, presents a superb case against its legality, desirability and constitutionality -- likening it to gun registration.

The power to search all our communications -- or all our third-party records -- is a power too great to repose in the government's hands. Unlike private business like Verizon or Google, those in government have a strong incentive and desire to suppress dissent -- along with their political rivals -- and need only the means to do so. Unlike private companies, they have the power to incarcerate anyone on their enemies targeting list should their searches turn up anything incriminating. Yahoo and Sprint have neither the motive nor the means to restrict our liberties.

Paul Gigot talks about "the Rand Paul wing" of the GOP like one's crazy but likable ne'er do well uncle. I don't want to handicap or endanger, as Snowden likely did, those who protect us by collecting foreign intelligence. But I am not so sanguine about giving up domestic protections of privacy.

But Terri thinks:

Hear, Hear it is!
(tough crowd!)
(tuff crowd?)

Posted by: Terri at January 23, 2014 4:35 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Tuff! That was our word for cool, back in the day.

Nice try jk, but I ain't gonna bite on irregardless. I'm a pedant, but not an insufferable one.

Posted by: johngalt at January 23, 2014 4:49 PM
But jk thinks:

Irregardless is kryptonite for pedants...

Posted by: jk at January 23, 2014 5:04 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

Second amendment is the right analogy to make. Truth be told, I am not so much concerned with people's "rights" -- as I have said before, the concept often hurts the cause of liberty more than it helps it. (And spawns whiny ALCU types I'd rather do without).

For me, this (and the 2nd amendment) is about the balance of power between society and state. Giving the state this kind of surveillance power changes this relationship. Or in older terms, it fundamentally changes the 'social contract' between the two. This is insufferable.

When confronting issues like this I sometimes ask this question: would this program/policy make it impossible for an armed revolution of the type that founded this nation (God will such never be necessary!)? If the answer is 'yes' then it should be part of our government. The trade off is too great.

Posted by: T. Greer at January 23, 2014 6:30 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Point of clarification: Don't you mean, "should NOT be part of our government?"

Posted by: johngalt at January 23, 2014 6:53 PM
But T. Greer thinks:


Posted by: T. Greer at January 23, 2014 9:12 PM

Quote of the Day

Last Wednesday, Scott Gottlieb and I debated Jonathan Chait and Douglas Kamerow on this proposition: "Resolved: Obamacare Is Now Beyond Rescue." I was feeling a little trepid, for three reasons: First, I've never done any formal debate; second, the resolution gave the "for" side a built-in handicap, as the "against" side just had to prove that Obamacare might not be completely beyond rescue; and third, we were debating on the Upper West Side. Now, I grew up on the Upper West Side and love it dearly. But for this particular resolution, it's about the unfriendliest territory this side of Pyongyang. -- Megan McArdle
Spoiler alert -- Dr. Gottlieb & McArdle won.

Hat-tip: Insty

January 21, 2014

I Could be Missing Something...

But are there really big tears being shed on the Upper West Side because Sean Hannity's moving out?

Posted by John Kranz at 7:13 PM | What do you think? [0]

A Lawyer Would Not Make This Mistake


But johngalt thinks:

"Of those of you who are not ThreeSourcers who voted for Barack Obama, how many of you think that you have a terrible President?"

Posted by: johngalt at January 21, 2014 6:33 PM
But jk thinks:

"Bad. Bad move on my part..."

Posted by: jk at January 21, 2014 7:20 PM



Kind Hearted Woman

Robert Johnson ©1948

Live at the Coffeehouse dot Com

We've had requests before, but this was the first request with a delicate guitar paring. Our sommelier wanted to hear "Kind Hearted Woman" on "the surf green guitar."

Voila! Ooh-eh the surf-verte guitare...


January 20, 2014


Happy Martin Luther King Day, ThreeSourcers. I assume we all have the day off and will be shopping for mattresses -- based not on their color but on the content of their support.

My problem with the holiday and the hype is that the wrong elements of Dr. King's achievements are celebrated. We see the crowds at the Lincoln Memorial listening to the superb "I Have a Dream" speech. That is a great moment and a great speech. But I draw a line from it to the election of President Obama. No doubt many supporters of King and the President would be happy with the suggestion.

But -- as you've probably guessed -- my intentions are a bit more nefarious. The heroic King is shown as the speechmaker. He got up and gave a great speech to a huge crowd, and the country was better for it. All true.

But I was deep into my 40s before I understood the heroic leadership of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. And I got it not from a gauzy PBS special but from Robert A Caro's Master of the Senate. LBJ is in the Senate and in confederacy with the other Southern, white, Democratic senators successfully kills ever civil rights bill that shows up on the floor. To show the change a nation would demand, Caro provides one of his many lucid expositions on the boycott.

In his depiction we see a different MLK. There were speeches and sermons, yes. But the heroic King was not a politician. He was a field general and a pastor. He held the boycott together, managed violence both by effectively protecting the boycotters and preventing retaliation that would have damaged the cause. The end result was a moral victory upon which the nation could build. Even ol' LBJ realized that his presidential ambitions required that he bring "a Nigra Bill" up for a vote. Thus is one of our great civil rights leaders born.

Some on the right, reflexively reacting to media hegemony and hagiography, point out MLK's failings. Against the politician MLK model, that is fair game if not necessarily effective. But the MLK of 1956 was the real deal. I love David Mamet's line of his protagonist who fought in the Civil War "to broaden the definition of those who were created equal." Dr. King fought to reify those gains.

I just wish we would celebrate heroic leadership and not political oratory.

Rant Posted by John Kranz at 10:46 AM | What do you think? [9]
But jk thinks:

Nooooo! 3/5 is in the Constitution, created equal is in the Declaration. The difference is the majority of our nation's history: approaching the perfection of the Declaration with the realities of the Constitution. Three-fifths hell, it protected slavery until 1820 and countenanced it until the Thirteenth Amendment.

Created equal is perfection and fits perfectly with yesterday's Ayn Rand Facebook Bot quote:

Racism is the lowest, most crudely primitive form of collectivism. It is the notion of ascribing moral, social or political significance to a man's genetic lineage—the notion that a man’s intellectual and characterological traits are produced and transmitted by his internal body chemistry. - Ayn Rand, The Virtue of Selfishness

Created equal. Born with inalienable rights.

Posted by: jk at January 21, 2014 12:47 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Arguing from nothing but your conclusion:

"Created equal. Born with inalienable rights."

I do not see the logical connection from A to B. But even if we accept it prima facie, contravening A undermines B. And there is no shortage of evidence that men are born unequal in every way. So the one thing that should be regarded as equal - inalienable rights - is undercut by every other inequality.

Refer back to the Craig Biddle piece you linked here:

As Rawls explains, on this standard, "it is incorrect that individuals with greater natural endowments and the superior character that has made their development possible have a right to a cooperative scheme [i.e., a legal system] that enables them to obtain even further benefits in ways that do not contribute to the advantages of others."

The very people you might expect to advocate that all men are equal at birth - those who seek to keep men equal always - are the first to claim that some are "superior" at birth while others are "disadvantaged." Standing on the principle of equality at any stage of man's life plays directly into their hands. Even when quoting great men like Dr. King and Thos. Jefferson, "created equal" gives rise to the clarion call of the egalitarian - forced redistribution.

Equal is not fair. Equality is not liberty. Equality is anti-freedom.

Posted by: johngalt at January 21, 2014 3:09 PM
But jk thinks:

I have a Dream. Someday jk and jg will go out for a beer and talk about football... (Hey Centennial Staters, IBRC is tapping a new Cream Ale Tuesday night)

I'm finding it difficult that you do not recognize -- or that I fail to describe -- equality qua equality. Not "-of opportunity" or "-of outcome" but an intransitive equality. If forced to define it, I would move a few words to the right in the Declaration and say that we are each born with equal rights to life, liberty and pursuit or Lockean "property."

To demonstrate equality qua equality, I would cite Chief Justice Taney in Dred Scot v. Sandford In what may or may not be dicta, he says that Scot has absolutely zero rights because he was born a slave. It took three amendments to fix that.

I do not see that as a guarantee or redistribution. You have the right, while we're on the 14th, "nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

That is not a divisible hyphenated equality, nor a guarantee of Socialism. Just that Mister Scot, like Mister Taney enjoy birthright liberty.

Posted by: jk at January 21, 2014 5:00 PM
But johngalt thinks:

What have I said that contradicts anything in your response? My goal is to erect a moral, philosophical foundation that would have helped the 14th Amendment proscribe the 16th: Said "equal protection of the laws" having been eviscerated by "without regard to any census or enumeration."

Whenceforth, the state may now take unequally from her "subjects."

Posted by: johngalt at January 21, 2014 6:42 PM
But jk thinks:

I'm not totally clear where exactly we differ, but there are still 12 days until the Super Bowl and they are not tapping the keg until Thursday...

One of those blog posts where I am expecting "Here here!" or "Keen insight, jk!" (Actually I was expecting recriminations for a too-kind portrayal of MLK. Just as I am Chief of the Dalai Lama police, I know the good Reverend Doctor's sanctity irks some folks 'round these parts.)

I just don't get the trimming and the qualification. I get your tale that it has been abused, but the Progs abused language, philosophy and the infield fly rule to achieve their ends. If "all men are created equal" did not stop 3/5 representation or Dred Scot, I don't see how your asterisk is going to stop indirect taxation.

Posted by: jk at January 21, 2014 7:34 PM
But johngalt thinks:

There is a passage in Atlas Shrugged where John Galt curses the man who created the fictional character called "Robin Hood."

A similar dynamic is at work here. What is remembered of Jefferson's and King's "all men are created equal" is that equality of men is an ideal, to be pursued by any means. My venom is meant for those who re-purpose a natural and rational basis for liberty to the goal of liberty's polar opposite: equality. Jefferson and King (and you) are innocent, but accomplices as well.

Posted by: johngalt at January 22, 2014 1:50 PM

January 19, 2014

Review Corner

As a history "newbie," I don't claim the rich depth of knowledge I find in those who read it all their lives and paid attention in Mister King's 3rd Period class. I've tried to catch up, but have a serious lacuna: WWI.

I know the grisly depictions. I even have my great uncle's scrapbook. Uncle Willis was a decorated hero and had PTSD before PTSD was cool. I've watched "Blackadder Goes Forth" for insights, but still do not grasp the "why?" or the "what was it all about?"

I spilled upon Paul Ham's 1913: The Eve of War, on Kindle and when I went to buy, I had the option of borrowing it thanks to Amazon Prime. (It's a short "Single" and available for a whopping $0.99 to non-Prime members.)

I enjoyed the book. It is both well researched and well written. Ham attempts to reject hindsight and really look at the mood of the future antagonists, both the leaders and citizenry. The pre-war distribution of power and borders sound archaic today; it was the end of the Peace of Westphalia regimes (not known for a lot of peace). The modern super states known today came out of the postwar carving.

I highlighted several great passages to share with ThreeSourcers, but I see that my frugality cost me the feature of having those available on my other devices. So all you get is a spoiler alert: Ham's work underscores a needlessness and futility. A few crazies in mid-level government draw up war plans, others catch wind and plan preemptive engagements. Soon war in "inevitable."

Enough think it will be short and beneficial (wrong and wrong). Young Eton lads will prove their mettle and come home as heroes -- you think I've fallen back to Hugh Laurie's character in Blackadder, but that is in the book as well. Though Britain did not lose the complete generation like many on the Continent, her casualties were disproportionately from the officer corps and she lost a generation of leaders.

I'd recommend this highly, though more for a "buff" that wants to see other viewpoints and try on some other ideas. I need a more comprehensive piece to catch up. But I'll not hold Ham responsible for my lack of depth and happily award four stars.

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

January 18, 2014

Constitutional Law Professor




Which is good because Article I, Section 1, of the Constitution of the United States provides that: "All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States."

January 17, 2014

B'bye, California!

How did I miss this? Coyote Blog closes his business in The Golden State and drinks a New Year's Toast. "Ventura County combines a difficult government environment with a difficult employee base with a difficult customer base."

Other than that... Why am I posting this here and not on Facebook? ThreeSourcers don't need to see what business owners face.

A local attorney held regular evening meetings with my employees to brainstorm new ways the could sue our company under arcane California law. For example, we went through three iterations of rules and procedures trying to comply with California break law and changing "safe" harbors supposedly provided by California court decisions. We only successfully stopped the suits by implementing a fingerprint timekeeping system and making it an automatic termination offense to work through lunch. This operation has about 25 employees vs. 400 for the rest of the company. 100% of our lawsuits from employees over our entire 10-year history came from this one site. At first we thought it was a manager issue, so we kept sending in our best managers from around the country to run the place, but the suits just continued.

Closing the site should work. There's much more at the link; the except was truly random as I cannot rank the events in egregiousness. Read the whole thing! Share liberally!

Hat-tip: Terri @ Ruminants

California Posted by John Kranz at 1:40 PM | What do you think? [0]

Hey hey, FDA, How Many kids you kill today?

It was sickening to watch the FDA deny an obviously effective and important therapy to those afflicted with a terrible disease [Multiple Sclerosis]. For as long as the decision stands, much needless suffering will result (and much needless foreign travel). The agency's action is also a vivid example of the serious problems besetting U.S. drug regulation.
My beloved Facebook friends love to post how GMO Corn or some such thing is banned in 20 countries -- why not here? I'll take the liberty side of that one any day, and frequently annoy a couple of conservative, GOP-votin' folks who consider me something of a fellow traveler but have bought into the GMO and vaccine junk science.

I did plop this on FB. Maybe some of those will join me on the liberty side of this -- why cannot an MS patient and his/her physician choose to try this treatment?

The WSJ Editorial is very good -- let me know if you don't subscribe and would like a copy emailed. The trials it describes are similar to those in which I have participated. And this treatment actually sounds similar to what I am on. I've little doubt it is a related compound.

The primary reason FDA reviewers gave for rejecting Lemtrada was that the studies demonstrating the drug's efficacy did not conform to the agency's standard requirement of double-blind, placebo-controlled drug trials--where some patients, unbeknownst to themselves and their doctors, receive placebo treatments. There are excellent reasons for the standard approach, but only up to a point. Lemtrada and many established MS treatments have immediate side effects, such as nausea and headaches, that are well known to doctors and patients. A double-blind trial would not really be blind. Patients on a placebo would promptly discover that they were the "controls," and many would decline to participate further--scrambling the statistical comparison with patients receiving real treatments.

The Lemtrada investigators therefore designed "active control" trials that matched it against a leading MS therapy (a branded version of beta interferon) that would be its primary clinical alternative. The trials found that Lemtrada patients relapsed into active MS symptoms at rates 50% lower than patients taking the alternative. These results were buttressed by MRI and other objective measures that found, for example, highly significant reductions in brain atrophy and new brain lesions

I've been in the former (of course, the FDA accepts no other) and it is laughable. The first trial I took two treatments and knew that at least one was valid. I could tell in a week that one was placebo as I had no effects and that one was the real deal because I got sick as a dog. For three years, I gave myself a daily shot that I knew with 99% certainty was saline. (Can't you guys give me a gummy bear to chew or something instead?)

As I said on FB, the standard is "compared to leeches" so we have to compare every drug to leeches. I would not participate in -- and find it cruel to demand -- a trial where one could be on no treatment for two or three years. MS is a progressive and debilitating disease. Let the patient get worse and lose good years of life so that some bureaucrat in DC can check a box on a form.

And, if they don't mistreat patients, they cannot sell their wares in the USA.

Pharmaceuticals Posted by John Kranz at 12:41 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

"We're from the government. We're here to help. It's true, because we said so."

Not to mention that there's never any blame to place when "nothing" happens.

Posted by: johngalt at January 20, 2014 2:40 PM

January 16, 2014

Headline of the Day


It turns out that for some workers in company-sponsored health insurance plans, you really can keep your plan if you like it. As long as companies include an expensive ObamaCare-compliant plan as an option, they can also offer a less expensive alternative, although consumers may still have to pay a penalty. Meanwhile, another legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act suffered a setback, as a federal judge said the federal government can provide subsidies through an exchange not run by states.

UPDATE: All Hail Taranto, though he does work there...


But Keith Arnold thinks:

It's not that they're not defrauded; merely that they're being saved for later.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at January 16, 2014 3:30 PM

January 15, 2014


Many interesting news items have been drowned by that George Washington Bridge "scandal" in New Jersey last week, including this one.

Mayor Bill de Blasio's promise to ban New York City's iconic horse-drawn carriages could backfire, exposing what the newly-elected mayor's critics suggest is a corruption scandal masquerading as an animal-rights crusade. Defenders of the carriage industry point to a real-estate executive who is one of de Blasio's major campaign donors as the driving force behind the effort to abolish the carriages.

And, it turns out, I'm not the only one to apply the "comrade" sobriquet to the new New York (york) mayor. But the rib tickling portion of the story is how the mayor proposes to replace the soon-to-be-outlawed mode of transportation: 'lectric cars!

De Blasio's plan (promoted by Nislick's NYCLASS, of course) is to replace the horse-drawn carriages with electric replicas of antique cars. After learning of this plan via a pro-carriage Twitter campaign, I remarked last night: "Electric cars. That’s going to be a real romantic treat for honeymooners, isn’t it? 'Oh, we went to New York and rode the electric cars!'”

Of course, none of them recognize the irony in modeling the electric cars after antique automobiles.

Politics Posted by JohnGalt at 5:31 PM | What do you think? [0]

Further Softening on l'Affaire Christie

Perhaps blog brother jg is right and I am wrong. Just this one time. In this one instance.

My outrage over the GWB lane closures (think of the chillllldren!!!) I confess, is borne of naiveté. Fancy me of all people underestimating the frequency and severity of government's purposefully punishing the citizenry.

I accept misfeasance but rarely malfeasance. That makes me a hopeless naif.

President Obama seeks to take federally funded food out of the mouths of poor rural youth. Insty notes the reflections of Bridgeghazi and links to this Bridget Johnson piece.

The program dates back to a 2000 bill, which was extended in July 2012 for that fiscal year. The $323 million in funds were doled out to 41 states by the USDA in January 2013. But two months later, after sequestration went into effect, the Obama administration announced it wanted $17.9 million back -- prompting bipartisan backlash from governors and congressional representatives of the affected states.

"The Obama administration appeared intent on making this sequester as painful and visible as possible, and this was another example. Instead of working with Congress to make responsible cuts and reforms, the administration took the political opportunity to go after funds used to pay teachers and police salaries," [Chairman Doc] Hastings said at a hearing on the report today.

Rule #1 in software development is "nothing is easy." Rule #1 in libertarianism is "the State is not your friend." Fancy my forgetting that.

2016 Posted by John Kranz at 12:39 PM | What do you think? [0]

Quote of the Day

California's project is one of several lingering on drawing boards since being promoted by President Obama's first-term stimulus bacchanal. To call these projects "high-speed rail" is to stretch a concept. They involve dollops of federal money dangled in return for states agreeing to talk about high-speed rail, draw up plans for high-speed rail, conduct studies of high-speed rail, pour concrete and move earth around in ways vaguely suggestive of high-speed rail at some point in the future. -- Holman Jenkins, Jr.
But johngalt thinks:

Heck, they may as well post a sign.

"Whistle, Piss and Argue." Learn somethin' new ev'ry day.

Posted by: johngalt at January 15, 2014 2:52 PM

January 14, 2014


I love progress: the integral of marginal improvements. I bore my lovely bride with disquisitions on cheese and tortilla containers with a Zip-Loc™ closure device built in. The only reason to provide this is to sell more -- it's a huge pain in the ass to convert your factories and equipment and purchasing. Yet, to sell more, somebody does it and pretty soon everybody else has to. Laugh at #firstworldproblems all you wish, but life gets a little better on a million different frontiers.

Between our engineers and musicians -- and folks who are just plain weird -- I think this will be of interest. The part of an electric guitar or bass that actually makes the noise is the pickup: a magnet wrapped in wire.

A bit of pickup history: In the early 1930s, George Beauchamp applied for a patent on an odd looking guitar-like instrument that included a "pickup." (The patent uses the variations "pickup," "pick–up" and "pick up" interchangeably.) His invention was the now-famous Rickenbacker “Frying Pan,” which hosted the first guitar pickup. (To acquire the patent, Adolph Rickenbacker had to send Hawaiian guitarist Sol Hoopii to Washington to demonstrate Beauchamp's invention, proving to U.S. Patent Office examiners that it worked.)

The winding and materials are a black art. Like "good" amplifier design, what guitar players dig has nothing to do with engineering best practices -- a perfect reproduction amplifier doesn't sound good.

On a recent custom purchase, I paid almost as much for boutique pickups as for the rest of the guitar. Just a guy in Oregon (Jason Lollar) who is a savant with this primitive technology. As hard as writing the check, the decisions among his many offerings were worse. Do I want a vintage or a crisper sound &c.?

Fishman is well known for making piezo pickups for acoustic guitars. I'm sure they posess their own voodoo but they represent the more classical engineering problem of reproducing tone faithfully. They admit in this article they have steered clear of the other market, where you are creating the tone for fear of not having something new to offer.

Ahem. They've found something. Instead of expensive and temperamental hand-winding, they are printing the coils on PC boards and positioning them precisely on the magnets. This technique has a bunch of advantages. The precision allows a hum free single coil (put one "virtual coil" out of phase with the other to cancel any external RF), the manufacturing tolerances are reduced by magnitudes, and the costs can certainly be lowered.

The other advantage is a real tabula rasa to reproduce tones and change them on the fly. Digital Signal Processing has brought this exact benefit to amplifiers -- you can "model" a 1960's Vox amplifier, or a Marshall Stack. I stole an effects pedal from blog friend sc that spoofs a 1965 Fender Super Reverb (shh, he thinks he lost it ...)

The DSP models are not perfect and I am sure this is not either. But they are progressing to make it so that a player can choose a vintage '54 strat pickup with a Fender twin amp and a Celestion speaker all on the spur of the moment, without buying a 1%ers batch of vintage gear.

Cool world.

UPDATE: Greg Koch takes the new system out for a spin...

Technology Posted by John Kranz at 3:21 PM | What do you think? [7]
But jk thinks:

I wish you'd share a video of your Eagles medley. Srsly.

Right after I posted this I happened to visit that better blogger. He had a post about "Printed Eye Cells Could Help Treat Blindness." It is really all the same on some level.

Big fan of Tyler Cowen, but I have to call shenanigans on "the new normal." If the blind can see and a $200 guitar can have a vintage strat '54 that by the way doesn't hum we are talking brave new worlds.

Posted by: jk at January 14, 2014 8:01 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Brave new worlds, indeed! Add to that a robot that replaces burger-flipping fast-food jockeys, and we've suddenly null-and-voided the federal minimum wage law: http://bit.ly/1clBc8m

Let me ask you a loaded question: where does this all lead? When you have technology that can inexpensively make the blind see, give everyone a Les Paul on the cheap, and obsolete the entry-level labor sector, what does the future realistically look like? The cashless, statist Star Trek of Gene Roddenberry, or the dark and ominous Blade Runner? The crony corporatist world of Robocop? I ask you: realistically, starting from where we are now (technologically, socially, governmentally), where do you realistically and foreseeably think it's all going?

Posted by: Keith Arnold at January 14, 2014 10:14 PM
But Jk thinks:

Wildly optimistic. As mopey as I get about freedom and government, the innovation economy recharges me a'la David Deutch. The burger machine needs a salesperson, delivery, maintenance --and it opens untold opportunities for new restaraunts which need accountants and graphic artists.

The 3D printer opens opportunities for design and increased wealth will support more custom and artesianal work. Roses , rises, everywhere!

Posted by: Jk at January 14, 2014 10:51 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Allow me to applaud your enthusiasm and propose, perhaps, a credible alternative.

Let's presume, ab arguendo, that the innovation that excites you becomes subdued over the course of the next ten to fifteen years - perhaps, say, as a result of a gigantic tax levied on innovative medical devices like your printed eye cell therapy. Government and its appetite, ever increasing (like the temperature of the frog's pot), slowly increases its economic demand over private citizens. A vocal minority continues to long for individual liberty and economic freedom, but the complacent majority continues to grow further and further addicted to panem et circenses, gradually surrendering liberties in return for the care of the nanny state and its safety nets. There is never a crisis point - just gradual worsening.

The major nations grow ever deepen in debt, spending money they don't have, until they are more awash in red ink that we could possibly imagine today. Eventually, the cold, hard bitch we call math comes to her final result: that which can't continue, doesn't. Bankrupt of resources, national governments begin to collapse under their own weight. The dependent classes demand to be fed, clothed, and housed; the gulf between them and the producers, the individualists, and those like them has grown wide.

Worldwide economic stagnation. Not just in America, but in China, Japan, and throughout Europe.

Sure, computers have grown faster, and some consumer goods have improved in keeping with limited demand. But too many people have discovered that they had the power to vote themselves the government's wallet, and those who govern enjoy being the ruling elite class more than they should.

Some say we're already a good ways down that road.

There are no more national space programs; the private and corporate space program we see today have long since become the only resource left for venturing across the black. Sixteen million people live on the Moon, in habitats where mining and metal manufacturing go on. Thirty million people live on a terraformed Mars. This is not a vast population compared to the four and a half billion still living on Earth, but it represents a significant number of the producers, many of them economic refugees willing to work and invent.

Not suprisingly, a disproportionate segment of the Earth's wealth has relocated off-world. Not a whole lot of people have noticed this, but those holding it have decided it's not a bad idea to move it outside of the reach of the power of nations to tax and regulate. You may be right about the roses, but not everywhere. Think of it as free-market economics on an interplanetary scale, and put it about a hundred and sixty years into our future, following the path we're on right now.

Is that a realistic possibility? Would you find that a credible possible future, perhaps in the realm of speculative fiction?

Posted by: Keith Arnold at January 15, 2014 1:48 AM
But jk thinks:

The 40th Anniversary of Reason Magazine a few years ago (I know, libertario delenda est) documented the huge encroachment of government and yet, in broad strokes, the great advancement of liberty with the Internet, fall of the USSR, advancing ideals on race and gender.

You can call them all anecdotal and note that none are irreversible, but I posit an increase in personal liberty pari passu with an increase in global wealth and innovation. As billions emerge from poverty and access technology, I think true Mugabe or North Korea style despotism becomes more difficult to manage.

I'll agree that there is a concomitant risk-aversion that makes a California or France style mini-bread-and-circuses despotism more likely.

But in broad strokes, I hold that wealth good, innovation good. Ultimately the ideas underpinning liberty are so strong that they will find purchase somewhere. I was sorely tempted to respond with a Libertarian Detroit Utopian Counterfactual.

As the US tumbles ass-first down the rankings in the Heritage-WSJ Liberty Index, the torch lights in Eastern Europe. My dreams are far from guaranteed, but I don't underestimate the power of wealth and innovation.

Posted by: jk at January 15, 2014 11:44 AM
But johngalt thinks:
When you have technology that can inexpensively make the blind see, give everyone a Les Paul on the cheap, and obsolete the entry-level labor sector, what does the future realistically look like?

It leads to more prosperity with less work. But what is done with that prosperity is the wild card in the prediction formula.

We've seen the two competing approaches on display since the dawn of the industrial age. One is self-sustaining, the other is cannibalistic. And thus it is inhumanly ironic that they who advocate for the cannibalistic approach, do so with rhetoric that claims it is "sustainable."

Posted by: johngalt at January 15, 2014 12:04 PM

Quote of the Day

A bit apocalyptic but, if the whitewash of the IRS stands, Bryon Preston is right.

We had a good run as a republic, but if this stands and no one responsible is punished, then the Internal Revenue Service will be a tool of partisan politics for the foreseeable future. No one who criticizes a sitting president will be safe from harassment and abuse from a federal agency that can absolutely destroy lives.



If I Were a Bell

So, jk, what does that new, green geetar sound like?

Frank Loesser ©1950

Live at the Coffeehouse dot Com


But jk thinks:

Heh. Got this up on Facebook, here, coffeehouse, and sent an email blast. Usually people remark on the song, sometimes the performance.

Every comment to date has been on the guitar. It's an Eastwood Delta-6. It is indeed green.

Posted by: jk at January 14, 2014 12:53 PM

January 13, 2014

All Hail Taranto

If you're reading this, you can be thankful at least that you don't have to rely on ObamaCare's Spanish-language website. It's called CuidadoDeSalud.gov, which, as the Associated Press notes, literally translates as "For the Caution of Health." It sounds as if Señora Sebelius relied on Google Translate--or maybe on the guys who translated the Japanese videogame Zero Wing into English, creating such comedy classics as "All your base are belong to us." -- James Taranto

Cement Shoes

Props indeed, but I don't think you wanna be on this list.

During her 2008 presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton's aides kept a meticulous "political hit list" containing the names of members of Congress who had "burned her" by endorsing Barack Obama, an upcoming book on Clinton's political "rebirth" reveals.

"We wanted to have a record of who endorsed us and who didn't and of those who endorsed us, who went the extra mile and who was just kind of there," a member of Clinton's 2008 campaign team told Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes, the authors of "HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton," in an excerpt published by Politico. "And of those who didn’t endorse us, those who understandably didn't endorse us because they are [Congressional Black Caucus] members or Illinois members. And then, of course, those who endorsed him but really should have been with her."

On the other, how much harm could this sweet old lady do?

2016 Posted by John Kranz at 4:49 PM | What do you think? [0]

All Hail Objectivism!

I ranted admitted in June 2012 that, of all the nonsense out there, Morgan Spurlock's "Supersize Me!" is among the most offensive.

David Mirman makes similar arguments to mine, if much more eloquently, today in The Objective Standard.

Some writers claim that [high school science teacher John] Cisna's all-McDonald's diet is unhealthy. Although Cisna and his students made an effort to make his diet nutritionally sound, that wasn't his primary purpose. As Cisna explains, the point of the experiment was not to recommend eating only McDonald's; "The point . . . is: Hey, it's a choice. We all have choices. It's our choices that make us fat. Not McDonald's."

Cisna has provided a dramatic demonstration of the fact that we guide our own fates by the choices we make. This is a truth that more Americans desperately need to grasp.


Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 2:50 PM | What do you think? [1]
But Joe KomaGawa thinks:

Before the person makes an intelligent choice, he or she has to a) ask the intelligent question, and b) get reliable, relatively objective, useful information from those questions.
Otherwise you might as well rely on listening to the advertising jingle to choose.In too many cases people don't have the right kind of education to ask the right questions, and secondly they may rely on biased answering sources for that information. And they don't know they are getting biased information.
Free, reliable unbiased information is not free, if you are not paying money for it, you are paying for the time and effort it takes to find it and education yourself to recognize honest, reliable information. Too many times we simply don't have time to pay that cost. I do this as much as anyone.
My dad used to quote some old conservative on the radio, I think he was a govenor of the Left Coast, and said, "There's no such thing as a free lunch", or something similar in meaning. that Left Coast govenor was right.

But in being right he was intent on selling something, he was setting up his own reelection, so you might say he wasn't giving us a free lunch, he was getting paid at the ballot box. Otherwise he wasn't going to waste his time giving out "free" advice.

Posted by: Joe KomaGawa at January 30, 2014 6:07 AM

Raich Looms Large

Well, deary me. Senator Rubio is a Chargers fan. Governor Christie is a serial trafficant. At this rate, it looks like I'll have to vote for Sec, Clinton! Oh, well, there's always that HOSS from the Lone Star State, Senator Ted Cruz. Oh, wait...

Here is Senator Ted Cruz, an avowed constitutionalist and federalist, demanding that Obama impose marijuana prohibition on states that have opted out of it, based on an absurdly broad reading of the power to regulate interstate commerce. -- Reason Magazine

I am a general supporter of Sen. Cruz, though -- like existentialist bounty hunter Jubal Early -- I do not think it is his time yet. The question is valid and one we have wrestled with a bit on these pages: the difference between an imperial presidency and prosecutorial discretion. I can imagine little worse than the heavy hand of the DoJ's stopping the Washington and Colorado experiment in its tracks. But I will admit the existence of a fine line.

Cruz is correct that it fits a pattern of executive overreach. Dave Kopel in the, did I mention awesome, "The Conspirancy Against ObamaCare" bifurcates between one's ideal reading of the Constitution and the Constitution as it exists with the current Supreme Court and precedent. Under the former, he admits the New Deal agenda is Unconstitutional in his view, but he silences would-be provocateurs with the latter interpretation; under the current reading, Social Security is clearly Constitutional.

By that sagacious standard, Wickard and Raich hold sway and AG Holder's tanks should be rolling down Colfax Avenue in Denver raiding every shop with hints of Rasta colors or iconography. Yet, Senator, I am quite pleased they are not. And I fear this is a distinct ploy to position himself against Sen. Rand Paul (HOSS - KY) for the "law and order" vote against that hippie named after that Russian Novelist.

SCOTUS Posted by John Kranz at 1:48 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Libertario delenda est, dammit.

Do I oppose marijuana prohibition? Yes. Am I willing to smear the most liberty loving Republican since the gipper because he takes the status quo position? Hell no.

Can we cut off the purity test at the first ten issues please?

Posted by: johngalt at January 13, 2014 3:16 PM

I Can Forgive Bridgeghazi, but . . .

This Shall Not Stand.

2016 Posted by John Kranz at 11:03 AM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

Blog diplomat here... McCoy is a great coach and the Spanos family are (is a?) great owner(s). But it takes more than luck to beat Manning's Broncos in the playoffs. Sometimes.

Posted by: johngalt at January 13, 2014 3:10 PM
But jk thinks:

Well, yes, I see. Your point is noted, but on the other hand SHUT UP!! IT'S THE GORRAM CHARGERS!!! PHIL CRY-ME-A-RIVERS!!!

And, now he would have to win without Colorado's nine electoral votes. Always tough for a Republican.

Posted by: jk at January 13, 2014 3:26 PM

January 12, 2014

Review Corner

The incident as abstracted in The Raven is much prettified. Were I to begin it today, I would write it as a report rather than a romance; for though I have spent most of my life reading and much of my life writing fiction, I do not know whether the costs of such entertainments may not be too dear.

Perhaps these fictions are, as the more stringently religious suggest, the tool of the Devil. For they do, indeed, cloud the senses, which is, after all, their purpose; and we may understand the phrase to mean "inducing a euphoria in the enjoyment of unreality." We speak of novels as a "distraction"-- that is, as a salutary lack of occupation. Perhaps the cost of this euphoria is an enervation of the power to discriminate.

Penn Jillette relates the story that he hated magic as a kid.

He abhorred the idea of deception as lying. A mentor told him that the artistry was to use the lie to tell a deeper truth. Umm, jk, where were you going with this? It seems that Mister Nonfiction guy has been touched by a work of fiction.

David Mamet got a glowing review for his nonfiction, The Secret Knowledge. When I saw this superb interview, about his "conversion" to conservatism documented in Secret Knowledge, I purchased the e-book-only Three War Stories that he mentioned as his latest work. It sat on my Kindle for several weeks as I enjoyed recent review corner selections.

The prose from the famed, award-winning writer -- you'll not be surprised to hear -- is excellent. He has a perfect pitch for not only dialogue but narrative. Each of the three novellas is from a different war and from a different perspective. But the stories are well told and the language lush. (My new Kindle Paperwhite has a feature I have long desired -- each word you look up in the dictionary is added to your word list that you can go back and review. My list quintupled reading Mamet.)

For years I had fantasized a return to the Islands. The constellations of the Southern Heavens, to one raised in the North, are a lesson in reversion. In the observation of this new sky, one may become anew like the child, or the Primitive-- touched with gratitude and awe. "Yes, that is the Cross; and Musca and Centaurus will always hold their positions relative to it, and one may steer by them."

These new Stars are a second language, which, when mastered, gives one, if not "a second soul," then some insight, perhaps, into the nature of the first. In a natural state we live to learn.

I rediscovered Mamet through politics. His newfound philosophy is on display as he takes a whack at politicians, or underscores man's right to live and defend his life. Yet I cannot say, even for me, that this is the draw of this work. It is about the stories. Nice that the grace notes please my ear for a change, contra , say , Stephen King. But I am fascinated that the great "steak knives" speech from "Glengarry Glen Ross" seems to be quoted as approbationally from the right and the left. This was written by Mamet in his "liberal days." Does it matter?

The second story is recounted by one who fought both in the Civil War "to broaden the definition of those who were created equal" and then in the Plains War "to narrow it." The short novella contains many ideas that I'd be unlikely to encounter in a history book. "The late Rebellion, in fact, may be understood, inter alia, as a continuation of the strife between those lands settled by the English, the American North, and by the Celts, our South."

The question of slavery becomes here, secondary. Few in the South owned slaves, and fewer among its warriors. For the Celts, who were the greatest portion of the Rebel Army, were of the Mountains, where slavery was impracticable. And their parents or grandparents had in many cases themselves been slaves, or virtual slaves, to the English rule.[ 4] I believe the war may not only be seen, but be primarily seen-- from the battlefield-- as a conflict between Briton and Celt, here played out as part of the endless strife between the Mountains and the Plain, between the country and the town, the sown and the wild[...]

How could it be otherwise? The British North-- the Protestant North, if I may-- was dedicated to thrift, which thrift produced that surplus of capital sufficient for invention, experimentation, and mechanization; thus, for Victory.

I have a dozen more highlights -- have you the time? This is a beautiful and thoughtful work that any ThreeSourcer would enjoy. Five stars.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 11:08 AM | What do you think? [0]

January 10, 2014

Class War -- all where you draw the lines

If, for some reason, you do not have a low enough opinion of east coast yuppie scum, I refer you to Russ Douthat's perceptive yet disturbing NYTimes column. Douthat has found this mysterious new überprogressive voting block that launches candidates like Sen Elizabeth Warren (Wahoo McDaniels - MA) and Mayor Bill DeBlasio (Politburo - NYC) to victory. It's the poor, downtrodden, $400K earners who want to stick it to those who make five:

But is this constituency actually "a powerful voting bloc against inequality," or is it just a powerful voting bloc in favor of raising taxes on the super-rich? Because these aren't quite the same thing, and it seems to me that in New York and nationally, the class interests of the so-called HENRYs ("high earners, not rich yet") still basically align with some form of late-1990s Clintonism rather than the more sweeping post-Obama populism than liberals are getting excited about today. That is, the allegedly "radicalized" professional class would say yes, yes, to a higher top rate on the people currently outbidding them for schools and property (and making them feel the angst of status-income disequilibrium), and yes as well to the existing welfare state and entitlements that higher rate helps sustain. But the same feeling of precariousness that makes these radicalized professionals thrill to populist rhetoric also means they’re more likely to say no to anything that might require them to sacrifice their income (or, in case of a left-libertarian housing agenda, their brownstone property values) on behalf of their working class coalition partners.

Self-rule cannot prevail.

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 12:23 PM | What do you think? [0]

This Guy is Good...

Chris Christie's apology was awesome on stilts. Republicans keep waiting for "another Reagan." I do not think I have seen as clear an advocate for either party since #40.

He was forthright. The Obamas and Clintons of the world open a speech with "I take full responsibility" and then speak for 40 minutes about how it really wasn't their fault. The big man took his medicine.

One cannot help but gag at the coverage. I quoted a @willcollier tweet: "I'm not much of a Christie fan, but you'd think by the press coverage today that the city of Chicago had never existed." It led the local prettyboy-perkygirl teevee news last night and this morning. The governor of New Jersey! What am I to Hecuba? They asked political experts for comment. I bet they gave zero coverage to THE PRESIDENT'S scandals.

I know that is what my blog brother was trying to tell me below. I am still fine with being a whole lot better than they are. But the reason I wanted Governor Christie was his skill at pushing back and not necessarily accepting the narrative. A lot of folks cheered at Speaker Gingrich when he would snark back at a debate questioner. Christie gives you the same with more skill and a better philosophical underpinning.

Color me very impressed at the response.

UPDATE: Reading this it sounds like I am more forgiving than I may be. I'd say he saved his right to compete yesterday and reminded me what I liked. OTOH, Jim Geraghty nails it:

But . . . we're left with a guy who had not one bad apple, but several, doing terrible things -- that they must have believed served Christie's purposes, or else they're psychotic saboteurs -- and Christie being oblivious to it all. Christie may not be the villain here, but he's not the hero -- and every once in a while on Thursday, he seemed a little too focused upon his victimization by his staff. No, the real victims are those Fort Lee commuters and the kids stuck on school buses.

2016 Posted by John Kranz at 11:23 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Sigh. Geraghty is a pinhead. Or at least a scarecrow technician.

Either Christie's top minions think doing "terrible" things [Really? So they made the trains stop running on time for, what, a few days? Hardly in the category of "terrible" as historical abuses of power go.] would serve Christie's purposes OR they're just out to wreck him.

Another more plausible explanation remains unsaid: Fresh off electoral victory, these people let what power they had go to their heads. They acted without thinking through the consequences. They, perhaps unconsciously, followed the fine examples given them by their contemporaries, mostly in the other party. And, did what, tried to give a pol from the other party "a dose of his own medicine."

Christie can still be the hero by explaining how seductive government power can be to those who hold it, that it can tempt even the best of people. "My mission is to manage an administration that has zero tolerance for such an attitude, at any level of government." Well said Mister President. (Damn, it pains me to think of him in that office instead of Paul or Cruz or even Walker. But all of them could learn some lessons from Christie, if he handles this properly.)

Posted by: johngalt at January 10, 2014 1:51 PM

January 9, 2014

Turn Detroit into Hong Kong!

All Hail PJ O'Rourke!

Real-estate developer Rod Lockwood wants investors to buy Detroit's derelict 982-acre Belle Isle Park and persuade the U.S. to allow Belle Isle a territorial status like Guam and all the tax benefits of Hong Kong--with easier access to Red Wings games.

Posted by John Kranz at 5:33 PM | What do you think? [4]
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Mr. O'Rourke has a pretty good idea: it's sort of an autonomous free-trade zone. Here are the problems as I see it, though:

(1) Your local sports franchises would be the Red Wings, the Lions, the Tigers, and the Pistons. Definitely a sub-optimal selection.

(2) Location, location, location. As in, you're still adjacent to Detroit.

(3) With that kind of money, you really ought to buy a place with better weather.

If we're talking about a novel real-estate deal for profit that might be more appealing to the entrepreneurial among us, or to Mr. Lockwood, permit me to make the following counterproposal. All Hail Ron White!


Posted by: Keith Arnold at January 10, 2014 1:01 AM
But jk thinks:

President Jefferson had ideas quite sympathetic to Mister White.

Liberty lovers used to be able to sail away to find some new ground out of reach of their current tyrants. Perhaps in the future, browncoats will do the same. In between, we are stuck with ideas like seasteading. And the challenges there seem as technical as political. There are still folks yearning for freedom. I s'pect they'd enjoy driving to the Joe to catch a Wings game.

As the wealth accelerates, the areas around it should improve and perhaps adopt the more successful policies they see.

So I am Pollyannaish? No. I see the flaw as a big mitt shaped thing called "The State of Michigan." It includes Ann Arbor and has elected luminaries like Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Sen. Carl Levin. "New Detroit" would need the cloaking device from Galt's Gulch to accrue wealth without the rest of the Great Lakes State's looting it.

Fix that, though, and I think free people would flock there.

Posted by: jk at January 10, 2014 10:45 AM
But jk thinks:

If my seasteading example does not persuade, I'd compare the mortal fears of early American colonists. A mediocre NFL team seems somehow manageable. And they have improved quite a bit.

Posted by: jk at January 10, 2014 11:59 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Tony Dungee even said the Lions are the franchise he'd most like to coach. At least that's what I remember from a headline somewhere.

Posted by: johngalt at January 10, 2014 1:56 PM

Real Book Software: Awful, Awful, Awful!

I bought a product so startlingly bad I need to post a review, both for catharsis and to perhaps prevent another from buying it. I did find a forum where people have been complaining about this for a few years. Spread the word.

I saw a banner ad for Real Book Software. The Real Book is a popular and famous book of charts for Jazz songs. It is a play on the term "Fake Books" which provide rudimentary enough chords to let you "fake it." The Real Book had meatier arrangements and actual transcriptions of solos. It is pretty interesting story [Wikipedia].

The Real Book Software was a good idea: put the book on tour computer, allow search and sort of the charts by genre, composer, title, performer, yadda yadda. They even package mp3s of the tunes so you can listen, and -- big draw for me -- versions of each in Band-in-the-box, a popular software I use to print charts but it also plays the songs for you to play along.

The ads and docs looked funky; that should have been a warning. But it fit into a new educational direction of mine and I was intrigued enough to PayPal $127 (Oww!) Wish I had searched online before paying. If you find this, I strongly advise you to steer clear.

The worst thing about Real Book Software:
The piracy protection -- moving beyond the ironic for somebody selling a compilation of likely pirated material -- is so unforgiving that it will not run on my computer without freshly installing it each time. I got a key from their support that allows me to reinstall beyond the 14 day period.

Second worst thing about Real Book Software:
Support is not very sympathetic. I was good natured and asked them to swap it for one of their products without the protection mechanism. "No, buddy, we have your money and you don't. That is how software works. Maybe you should buy a new computer that it will run on." I do software for a living and that is not really how it works.

A very bad thing about Real Book Software:
When it is installed and licensed, it works. But the GUI is very cheesy and the workflow is uninviting. You can sort, listen and view/print the charts (well, I can until I turn my computer off) but it doesn't feel like much value is added.

They were denigrated in the Band-in-a-Box forum, but I enjoy the band-in-the-box files. Those are just sitting in a directory. They don't connect or index to the program at all -- of course, this is good for me because the program does not work. Saved me some typing -- I'm not pleased that I paid $127 for it but it's keeping me from finding and burning down the dingy studio apartment where this business is surely headquartered.

Please feel free to link and share. I see from the forum that they have been defrauding naive players like me for a few years. Knowledge might be power.

But johedoe thinks:

Yep, me too, I got ripped by this dude... worked a little bit and his overcomplicated protection mechanism made it unusable in no time. Scum software.

Posted by: johedoe at February 1, 2016 5:05 PM
But Dennis thinks:

I agree that installing and the anti-piracy stuff is way too complicated. I also think the software seems quite amateuristic. Everytime you want to install a plugin it first gives you an error of somekind, then you click OK and then you can direct (manually) the program to the needed path. Very annoying. The idea is great, the execution is very poor.

That being said I do like the amount of songs in there. It's like you have a huge collection of jazzmuziek at one mouseclick. I do think it's a great resource. However, some of the audio doesn't work either...


Posted by: Dennis at April 29, 2016 7:01 PM
But Ed Greany thinks:

Unfortunately I bought this software (the 4.01 version) long ago. Never got it working. When I sought help I had to purchase their 5.01 version as they don't give help with the old version anymore. That was one year ago. I tried again to install the software without success. Then my Keyfile apparently expired. I thought I would give it another go this week but after over 20 messages with their "help desk" I give up again. They don't have a help on the phone service. Sending emails is ridiculous!

Posted by: Ed Greany at February 27, 2019 4:08 PM


The greatest scandal name of all time. I howled when I heard Kennedy say it on FBN's The Independents. When I looked on twitter to see if was catching on, I saw this bit of truth:

"@danielradosh: #bridgeghazi may be the coinage to finally get us past the -gate suffix. It's been 40 years people! Evolve the lingo!"

As ThreeSources's chief Christie cheerleader, I better issue some mea culpas. Insty finds this stirring defense in a comment thread:
"For pettiness, I believe this bridge fiasco is more on a par with the shutdown of federal parks during the government shutdown than the IRS abuses. The IRS abuses appear to be intimidation for election purposes. The park blockades appeared to be pettiness to prove a point. The bridge fiasco also appears to be pettiness to prove a point."

Like Reagan's proverbial child on Christmas morn, I am looking for the pony in this manure pile. But "Obama did the same thing with a bigger body count" strikes me as a low bar. As I like to complain about the President: he either knew about it which makes him a corrupt liar, or he did not which makes him an incompetent boob. I'm not going to spend a lot of time arguing which is worse.

I did not abandon the big Garden State Guv when he sucked up to the President to ensure disaster funding after Sandy. I rolled my eyes at his eastern, elitist acceptance of restrictions on gun rights. I winced but did not shut the door when he attacked Senator Rand Paul.

"We'll have a campaign in 2016," said jk. "We'll see who has the best ideas and best chance to propagate them." I was in the Rand Camp but ready to listen.

But this is a very big deal and I am abandoning -- with heartfelt sadness -- a politician I have long admired.

UPDATE: Or, as Reason says:

Which do you prefer? The kind of ruthless, Nixonian maniac who's willing to screw enormous numbers of people to get revenge on someone he perceives as disloyal? Or the kind of ruthless, Nixonian maniac who builds a machine that can do that without getting him personally involved?

2016 Posted by John Kranz at 10:56 AM | What do you think? [8]
But Keith Arnold thinks:

BTW, specifically for Brother JK: saw your slate and cabinet appointments on Twitter, but I have a question: since at least three of the departments on the bottom row are slated for dissolution (at least, when I become President they will be), do you think Dr. Carson, Sheriff Joe, and Ms. Noem are going to relish being hired as temps?

I mean: "Job Description: provide your plan for eliminating your entire department within ninety days of hire."

Posted by: Keith Arnold at January 9, 2014 1:25 PM
But jk thinks:

I thought I saw a flicker of a pony tail reading jg's awesome comment. But the other end of the animal still seems elusive.

To be clear: I meant to mock the defending commenter. Does it suck that we are held to a higher standard in the media than our opponents? [3...2...1...] yup! But I want to have a higher standard. Not on binders full of women -- but this is actual abuse of power.

Of course you delegate, but you hire those whom you can trust to not purposefully endanger lives. Christie was at his top form in his original denial "Yeah, if you look at the video you can see me there in overalls personally placing the yellow cones." Merciful Zeus! I love that -- a denial with panache! He would not sit still for a "binders full of women" attack and I think we need a little Jersey pushback next time Candy Crawley hosts a debate.

That is why I refused to abandon him over all the things my Facebook libertarians have. There is a b'bye Chris post each month. But I looked forward to the primary process. And it's a free country, he still can.

Whatever happens, his voluminousness will have done the party the greatest of service if "Bridgeghazi" sticks. Replacing "-gate" with "-ghazi," implicitly replacing Nixon with Obama as the scandal archetype -- that is great stuff!

@Keith: the cabinet appointments were not mine and I would do the whole page differently -- possibly but not limited to including bikini models. I RT-ed the picture so as to get my joke of "Chris Christie for Secretary of Transportation" out into the aether. It needed a vehicle and that one was convenient.

Posted by: jk at January 9, 2014 2:38 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Any vehicle, convenient or not, carrying Chris Christie better have off-road shocks installed. Jus' sayin'.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at January 9, 2014 2:42 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"Actual abuse of power" yes, but by a subordinate. A subordinate who has been fired. And who doubtless viewed it, to the extent she gave it any thought at all, as an inconvenience but never as a threat to life or safety.

Has Kathleen Sebelius been fired? Was Secretary Clinton fired? Head of the IRS? ATF? DOJ? The only people thrown under the bus by SCOAMF are military officers who tell him he is a ClusterF*$! as a military commander. And that is just so he can replace them with sycophants.

Posted by: johngalt at January 9, 2014 3:01 PM
But jk thinks:

All true. Again "Not as petty, vindictive, dangerous, and corrupt as President Obama!" will look great on the campaign posters.

Posted by: jk at January 9, 2014 5:17 PM
But jk thinks:

WSJ Ed Page:

Mr. Christie is a skilled politician with a gift for answering hard questions, and that gift was again on display at Thursday's press conference. The important question now is whether he understands the bridge story isn't a test of his staff but of his own credibility. America doesn't need--after a year of revelations that the IRS was turned against President Obama's opponents--another chief executive willing to condone government attacks on his political adversaries. And Republicans don't need a presidential nominee who fulfills the liberal stereotype that he's a political bully.

Posted by: jk at January 9, 2014 5:46 PM

Pretty Good...

Hat-tip: Jim Geraghty

January 8, 2014

One For Our Midwestern Friends...


Hat-tip: 92 KQRS (Facebook)

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 3:35 PM | What do you think? [0]

Minimum coffee standards

But johngalt thinks:

Peremptory Purchase of Awful Coffee Act.

Posted by: johngalt at January 8, 2014 4:06 PM
But jk thinks:


Posted by: jk at January 8, 2014 4:49 PM

January 7, 2014

After four great seasons, Raylan Givens still "Justified"

Season five premieres tonight on FX. Jake Tapper interviews creator Graham Yost and the actor who portrays the sesquipedalian outlaw Boyd Crowder about the passing of author Elmore Leonard, who created the characters for his novel Fire in the Hole.

"Justified" is based on a short story "Fire in the Hole" by Elmore Leonard, and he was involved in the show. Leonard passed away in August, and the show will pay tribute to him at the beginning of tonight's show. But will "Justified" be different without him?
Television Posted by JohnGalt at 6:42 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

A fresh crop of new characters was introduced last night. The old bunch of lowlifes, having made serially bad choices in their lives, mostly all got killed off in the seedy underworld in which they plied their best immitations of "commerce."

Posted by: johngalt at January 8, 2014 2:42 PM

Quote of the Day

All Hail Taranto! I agreed to abandon my 2.4% attraction to guaranteed minimum income on brother jg's evidence that it would not sate the insatiable.

Soon after, James Taranto adds this to the gun-rights debate:

Further, this column generally agrees with Venola's give-no-ground position, though on pragmatic grounds rather than principled ones. If we thought the antigun side of the debate were interested in good-faith compromise, we'd be all for it. The dishonesty of their debating tactics, their ghoulish and opportunistic use of horrific crimes like the Newtown massacre to advance their agenda, and the onerous (and likely unconstitutional) regulations that exist in places where they hold political sway--such as New York City, where we live--persuade us otherwise.

Gun Rights Posted by John Kranz at 4:09 PM | What do you think? [0]

Guaranteed Basic Income 'Blows'

My flirtation with the idea of a "mincome" or "Uncle Sam's Allowance" is well chronicled here but, in that same post, fellow Objectivist Craig Biddle explains how, despite my unbeknownst Platonic impulse to smooth over social divisions, the path to respecting individual rights is not embarked upon merely by violating those rights with more efficiency, transparency and less waste.

JK pragmatically concluded, "If the mincome were popular, I'd enjoy its strengths and accept its weaknesses as the pragmatic price of reform." Unfortunately, in pursuing popularity of a mincome, Republicans and Democrats would most surely find a "balance" more in line with the conditions enumerated by one entitled little twerp called Jesse A. Myerson. I won't link to his Rolling Stone piece - Jonah Goldberg did it so that I wouldn't have to - but to Jonah's deconstruction of it, which commences thusly:

"In America," Oscar Wilde quipped, "the young are always ready to give to those who are older than themselves the full benefits of their inexperience." And they often do it in the pages of Rolling Stone.

While I sought to establish a safe level of capitalist subsistence for every man such that he could pursue pleasurable and profitable pursuits, the young Myerson wants everyone to be paid for nothing because "jobs blow." Other things "blow" in Myerson's estimation, including "hoarding" or what my parents used to call "saving for a rainy day." Millenial Myerson's Rolling Stone Rant is essentially the Grasshopper's Manifesto Against the Ant. Tsk... winter is here, silly insect. To bad you failed to "hoard."

But jk thinks:

Thanks for the link to Jonah's column. My Twitter feed erupted on the Rolling Stone nonsense, the major thesis being that this says a whole lot more about Rolling Stone's faux hipster chic than anything else.

Fair to discard the mincome (which at least sounds smaller than BIG) on slippery slope grounds. Demands are pretty much insatiable as Yaron Brook said. Those demanding $15/hour for a kid filling burgers are probably not going to be happy with a five-figure mincome.

Posted by: jk at January 7, 2014 4:09 PM
But dagny thinks:

In response to Mr. Myerson, Megan Kelly found this bright millennial advocating a moral defense of capitalism as antidote to today's problems.


He says, "This is how the Occupy Wall Street movement thinks. This is a group of people who graduated with degrees in lesbian dance theory and then were surprised when they didn’t get a six-figure paycheck out of college.”

and “You have to be productive in a capitalist society in order to earn anything.”

Guess he doesn't consider Lesbian Dance Theory productive. I recommend the whole interview.

Posted by: dagny at January 7, 2014 4:12 PM
But jk thinks:

Heh. Kelly reading from the RS Piece: "Imagine a world, where people could contribute the skills that inspire them, like painting murals, rather than whatever stupid tasks that bosses need done." (~2:05)

Posted by: jk at January 7, 2014 4:23 PM
But dagny thinks:

Not sure I have ever put 2 comments in a row before. So much for lunchtime. Also of interest (to local Objectivists at least) in Mr. Shapiro's comments are his use of the terms selfish and altruistic.

Posted by: dagny at January 7, 2014 4:27 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

Rolling Stone basically advocated communism.

I don't know if that has enough support to say that it would be part of the 'balancing' equation.

The slippery slope point is well taken. I can understand it, though after thinking about it I think I still disagree. As long as we have democracy the slippery slope is there. The only difference is that by collapsing all of our federal programs into one payment movements along the slope are unmistakable, apparent and seen by all.

I think I would prefer that to the behind the scenes creep of our current government.

Posted by: T. Greer at January 9, 2014 3:33 AM
But jk thinks:

I think we all agree that it is an improvement in transparency and efficiency.

To enact it would be a huge hurdle and would engender the full panoply of "you hate the poor" and "throwing granny off the cliff" responses expected of any reform effort.

I won't presume to speak for brother jg (but yes, he will have another vanilla porter...) but who wants to start a difficult fight for something they really do not believe in? It is indeed better, but it is actually less worse.

The same effort toward privatizing social security or rescuing the bleeding nation from the ravages of the PPACAo2010 would be more fruitful.

Larry Kudlow points out that eliminating the Corporate Tax would do more for the poor than most social programs. That's a tougher sell. Yet I can make a principled case for it that is consistent with my beliefs and the general advancement of liberty.

Posted by: jk at January 9, 2014 11:13 AM

Polar Vortex!

Sorry Midwest/eastern folks, we are coming out of it today...

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 9:59 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Just imagine, how much worse the Polar Vortex might have been in the absence of a century of CO2 "pollution" that presumably raised the global temperature. It might have been, rather than -52 F wind chill in IceButtFalls, MN, -52.7 F instead!

Posted by: johngalt at January 7, 2014 2:37 PM

January 6, 2014

Presidential Bait-and-Switch, the Sequel

Long-time blog readers will recall the historical corrections here and here explaining that FDR did not end the Great Depression, he extended it. But not previously told is the story about how he was elected, following a Republican incumbent with a spending problem. Here is the short version. Holler if any of this seems familiar.

It was socialist Norman Thomas, not Franklin Roosevelt, who proposed massive increases in federal spending and deficits and sweeping interventions into the private economy - and he barely mustered 2 percent of the vote. When the dust settled, Warburg shows, we got what Thomas promised, more of what Hoover had been lambasted for, and almost nothing that FDR himself had pledged. FDR employed more "master minds" [a term FDR had used derisively while campaigning] to plan the economy than perhaps all previous presidents combined.

After detailing the promises and the duplicity, Warburg offered this assessment of the man who betrayed him and the country:

Much as I dislike to say so, it is my honest conviction that Mr. Roosevelt has utterly lost his sense of proportion. He sees himself as the one man who can save the country, as the one man who can "save capitalism from itself," as the one man who knows what is good for us and what is not. He sees himself as indispensable. And when a man thinks of himself as being indispensable . . . that man is headed for trouble.

Was FDR an economic wizard? Warburg reveals nothing of the sort, observing that FDR was "undeniably and shockingly superficial about anything that relates to finance." He was driven not by logic, facts, or humility but by "his emotional desires, predilections, and prejudices."

"Mr. Roosevelt," wrote Warburg, "gives me the impression that he can really believe what he wants to believe, really think what he wants to think, and really remember what he wants to remember, to a greater extent than anyone I have ever known." Less charitable observers might diagnose the problem as "delusions of grandeur."

H/T: The blog page of KHOW's Mandy Connell

UPDATE: Speaking of White House accounts, here is one of the first - by SecDef Robert Gates. WaPo My summary: Gates loved the military and its troops, detested the "truly ugly" culture in Congress, and thorougly mistrusted and disliked the President and his staff.

But jk thinks:

Amity Shlaes relates this story in her book "The Forgotten Man:"

As Henry Morgenthau [Secretary of the Treasury under FDR] reports in his diaries, prices were set by the president personally. FDR took the U.S. off the gold standard in April 1933 and by summer he was setting the gold price every morning from his bed. Morgenthau reports that at one point the president ordered the gold price up 21 cents. Why 21, Morganthau asked. Roosevelt replied, because it's 3Ă—7 and three is a lucky number. "If anyone knew how we set the gold price," wrote Morganthau in his diary, "they would be frightened."

Wizard of a different sort...

Posted by: jk at January 6, 2014 6:51 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I can't say I'm looking forward to future accounts of "wizardry" in the BHO White House, but there is no doubt the same sort of genius at work.

Posted by: johngalt at January 7, 2014 11:59 AM
But jk thinks:

Kindle version on sale for $2.99 today!

Posted by: jk at January 7, 2014 4:29 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Bought and delivered to both kids' Kindles. Now mister and missuz johngalt can read it together. Thanks for the tip!

Posted by: johngalt at January 7, 2014 7:18 PM
But jk thinks:

Wow. Nobody's ever listened to me before. :)

I think you'll both dig it.

Posted by: jk at January 8, 2014 10:13 AM

January 5, 2014

Review Corner

Heh. A blogger known for his brevity produces a substantive view of both K-12 and higher education -- in 103 pages.

I had read [and] [reviewed] both of his Broadside books. Between that and reading Instapundit, many of the ideas in The New School are familiar. But I would still highly recommend buying a copy for yourself and one to pass around to parents you know and any open minded teachers.

Reynolds is an expert on the topic as he is Beauchamp Brogan Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Tennessee, married to PhD Psychologist Dr. Helen Smith. Yet the perspective of New School is much more about his role as a consumer of education for their daughter and for the bloggers' desire to assemble elements into social and political patterns. The joy of the book is its academic cred without the academics' diffidence (or turgid prose...)

I don't think I need post a spoiler alert that there are problems in education. But it is a huge, complicated, interconnected system with the distortions of more than a hundred years of government involvement. It is easy to choose one failed facet (for me it is Teachers' Unions) to hang all the deficiencies upon. New School broadens the concerns and adds significant new concepts.

Reynolds's Instapundit writings cherish modernity, and the "New" part of the "The New School" is to rescue 21st Century students from a 19th Century Prussian model which was imported to train good 20th Century factory workers.

On his return, [Horace] Mann extolled the Prussian model in his seventh annual report. This met with some resistance, as "critics accused him of wanting to establish a 'Prussian-style tyranny' in the schools, arguing that the Prussian model was based on a presumption that the government was wiser than the citizenry, while in America the presumption was the reverse. There was considerable basis for this complaint. Prussian theorists regarded public education, and higher education as well, as an institution of 'police' and a way of making students 'useful as future tools,'" — but Mann's idea ultimately caught on for the most part. Mann wanted to remake society, and he wanted to start with children. In his turn of phrase, "men are cast-iron, but children are wax." Just as the Prussian model had as much to do with political and social ordering as with teaching and learning, so it was with Mann's Americanized Prussian model.

Reynolds helpfully points out the Mann's children were homeschooled. But sitting still, forming orderly lines, and moving with bells prepared students for factory work. How much of that transfers to your job?

Another key insight is the comparison to a financial bubble. Consumers are so certain of a return that they use easy credit to pay ever escalating prices without carefully assessing the future value of the asset. Sound like anything? A story you heard? Bueller?

The escalating prices are never spent on instruction. Climbing walls, fancy dining halls take a bite, but the real culprit is administration which is more likely to impede instruction with paperwork and regulation. As the crown jewel California University system faces severe cuts, it seems "diversity" is untouchable:

University of California system slashes programs and raises tuition, it has created a new systemwide "vice chancellor for equity, diversity, and inclusion." This is on top of the already enormous University of California diversity machine, which, as Heather Mac Donald notes, "includes the Chancellor's Diversity Office, the associate vice chancellor for faculty equity, the assistant vice chancellor for diversity, the faculty equity advisors, the graduate diversity coordinators, the staff diversity liaison, the undergraduate student diversity liaison, the graduate student diversity liaison, the chief diversity officer, the director of development for diversity initiatives, the Office of Academic Diversity and Equal Opportunity, the Committee on Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Issues, the Committee on the Status of Women, the Campus Council on Climate, Culture and Inclusion, the Diversity Council, and the directors of the Cross-Cultural Center, the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Resource Center, and the Women's Center."

Not that my personal bête-noir comes out well:
For a long time, the providers of education at all levels have enjoyed a sort of guildlike monopoly. And as economist John Hicks notes, as quoted earlier, "The best of all monopoly profits is a quiet life." Alas, the lives of education providers are likely to be less quiet and comfortable than they have been. When education was in the hands of guilds made up of educators, as it has largely been for over a century, educators unsurprisingly took advantage of their control to arrange things to their liking. That will change significantly in the years to come.

Neither higher education nor K-12 schooling will remain in the hands of the guilds in the future, though we can expect a significant rear-guard action on their part. But the vulnerability they face is that it will become easier and easier for people to avoid the guilds entirely thanks to the new alternatives that technology (and other changes -- but mostly technology) has made possible.

Here's hoping! The New School is full of hope without discarding a serious look at difficult issues. Five Stars.

UPDATE: Good interview of Reynolds by Ed Driscoll.

January 4, 2014

Problems with ObamaCare?

If a new study, published in the Journal Science, spoke to the certainty of climate change or related accidental gun deaths to liberalized firearm ownership, that would be capital-S Science. I am curious to see how it is greeted when it undermines the "Central Rationale For Obamacare."

Avik Roy used extensive data from the Oregon study to question the health outcomes of Medicare in his "How Medicaid Fails the Poor [Review Corner]. He has an post today in Forbes that shows it also undermines the economic sales pitch. Medicaid increases the use of emergency room services.

The 'free rider' argument was always bunk

Just like the "if you like your plan, you can keep your plan" promise, the promise that Obamacare would make health care less expensive by expanding coverage was always a crock. Nationally, it's estimated that we spend about $50 billion a year on uncompensated care for the uninsured. But Obamacare spends $250 billion a year of taxpayer money on covering the uninsured. Only in Washington is spending $250 billion to address a $50 billion problem considered "savings."

And only in Washington would spending $250B to address a 50B problem make it worse.

An Objectivist Objection to "Mincome"

"Why do we see an article at the leading libertarian think tank (Cato) advocating legalized plunder on the basis of a philosophy that denies the possibility of rights? Because other libertarians characteristically ignore or deny the need to focus on philosophy at all--and, because, in philosophy, as in physics, nature abhors a vacuum." --Craig Biddle
The legalized plunder being the Basic Guaranteed Income (BIG), discussed on these pages by brother jg. You can put Mr. Biddle down as a "no." I am not compelled to abandon the idea based on his TOS article. His points are likely all true, but I think he is making the perfect the enemy of the good. Yet I have to give him points for the term "Bleeding Heart Libertarians." That's good.
Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 11:02 AM | What do you think? [9]
But johngalt thinks:

As do I but only under the conditions I specified, most importantly a flat tax with no low-income phase out. But how likely does anyone find that to pass Congress?

I assure you that I have no interest in egalitarianism. I am, after all, an Objectivist. I also have little to no confidence that a BIG would prevent, any more than the Constitution has failed to do so, any future redistribution programs. My proposal was offered at arms length, as an academic exercise. To their credit, none of my Republican friends or family took the bait. I suspect Zwolinski's proposal will go nowhere unless voters decide they haven't gotten liberalism "good and hard" enough yet and repeat the Democrat control era of 2009.

In conclusion I will explain how Biddle's prescription is more practical than it seems. First I must excerpt the paragraph that follows jk's excerpt:

When people fail to undergird political policy with morality and deeper philosophy, other people fill in the void with some philosophy or another. And if the basic premise of that fill-in philosophy is widely accepted or goes intellectually unchallenged—as egalitarianism is and does today—then the policies that follow from that philosophy will seem viscerally reasonable and, over time, will affect political policy.

Biddle's (and my) objective is to expose the immorality of the supporting philosophies of anti-liberty policies. Rather than explain to others how they will not "work" (as was attempted with the Obamacare debacle) we explain to others that they are inherently, morally and objectively "wrong." Why? Because man can choose whether or not to act in furtherance of his own life. Most who choose government aid over self-reliance would not do so if they recognized such behavior as "wrong." It has taken world socialists over fifty years to dismantle the Christian beliefs of "right and wrong." We have secular prescriptions for right and wrong at our fingertips, in the philosophy of Objectivism. Ultimately, those are the only antidote to the dominant philosophies of the left. Their adoption will herald a new renaissance. And yes, it may take another fifty years. In the meantime the legislative prescription is, to the greatest extent possible, gridlock.

Posted by: johngalt at January 5, 2014 11:45 AM
But Jk thinks:

I didn't feel a groundswell of support either. I reckon it's not philosophically interesting enough for the work.

If a presidential candidate were to take it up, like The Herman Cain and 9-9-9, it might have legs.

Contra Biddle (and you?), Larry Kudlow calls for a Kemp-ian, safety net that is pro growth but can be sold to moderates as compassionate. It might not account for a recognition of the source of rights, but it might be a good sell.

Posted by: Jk at January 5, 2014 1:55 PM
But johngalt thinks:

The problem with moderates is the same as the problem with Libertarians - both are rudderless. It seems the best pro-liberty solution is "no new programs."

Posted by: johngalt at January 5, 2014 9:19 PM
But jk thinks:

Forgive me if I've plowed this fecund ground before, but . . .

I think the best pro-liberty solution is to win. Let a thousand lesser-evil memes bloom on Facebook, but the nation got ObamaCare® when our courageous Democratic compatriots controlled both houses of the legislature and the executive. Curiously, the same experiment in Colorado ended badly as well.

Moderates are worse than rudderless but are required to win. And the objectivist and libertarian positions both need some amelioration to succeed at the polls.

Posted by: jk at January 6, 2014 10:31 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I'm looking for places to agree. Winning is good, but is winning without principle likely to deliver pro-liberty results? That hasn't been the case in the post-Reagan era.

Sometimes an idea wins when its unadulterated opposite gains sway for a time. This is the reason why George Will recently wished Comrade Mayor Bill DeBlasio every success in his pursuit of egalitarian socialism in New York City. "I give him three years before voters are ready for another real mayor."

Posted by: johngalt at January 6, 2014 3:23 PM
But jk thinks:

If Rep. Tandredo (Populist Lunatic - CO) is the GOP nominee for gov, you'll get a chance to test my pragmatism live and up close. I have no prediction.

On "no principles," I guess we agree. But aside from a handful, I see many shades of grey (50?) in GOP principle. Ron Johnson's lawsuit against the Congressional ObamaCare waiver brings tears to my eyes. But, offered a Mulligan, I would nominate Lt. Gov. Jane Norton for the Senate race in 2010. I voted for Ken Buck and will do it again in a few months. But she likely would have won -- and she could and would have stopped ObamaCare. She shares fewer of my principles than AG Buck, but many more than Sen. Bennett.

I concede that it took courage on the part of Badger State GOPers to nominate Johnson. We've erred on both sides and need to find principles and packaging that win. I just do not trust Mister Biddle to be useful in finding that balance.

If the mincome were popular, I'd enjoy its strengths and accept its weaknesses as the pragmatic price or reform.

Posted by: jk at January 6, 2014 5:18 PM

Detroit Crime Decline

Detroit has a new police chief. James Craig, according to the AP, is "a former chief of police in Cincinnati and Portland, Maine, has made sweeping changes to the way crime is tackled in Detroit." To wit:

- Stop closing some neighborhood police stations at night.
- Use crime stats to identify trouble spots.
- Move detectives back into precincts.
- Clean house in the command structure.

Good ideas all, and no surprise that crime might decline after such measures. But there's more. The news piece seemed complete when I read this tacked on the end:

"A recently rolled out tactical response unit confiscated about 17 guns in its first two days of operation."


"We know definitively - when you look at the level of violence in Detroit - when we stop someone who has illegal possession of a gun we've probably stopped a robbery," Craig said. "We've probably stopped a shooting, and more likely a homicide."

Ho hum, another big city police chief blaming guns for crime. Well, not exactly. According to The Detroit News, he also said this:

"Coming from California (Craig was on the Los Angeles police force for 28 years), where it takes an act of Congress to get a concealed weapon permit, I got to Maine, where they give out lots of CCWs (carrying concealed weapon permits), and I had a stack of CCW permits I was denying; that was my orientation."

"I changed my orientation real quick. Maine is one of the safest places in America. Clearly, suspects knew that good Americans were armed."

Craig's statements Thursday echoed those he made Dec. 19 on "The Paul W. Smith Show" on WJR (760 AM), when he said: "There's a number of CPL (concealed pistol license) holders running around the city of Detroit. I think it acts as a deterrent. Good Americans with CPLs translates into crime reduction. I learned that real quick in the state of Maine."

Shazam! Maybe things really can get bad enough that authorities are forced to do things that really work, instead of things that merely sound like they might. Same article:

"It's a huge, radical departure for the police chief to say good people should have access to firearms," said [Detroit gun safety instructor Rick] Ector. "I'm not ready to say he's pro-gun just yet, but it's vastly different from what police chiefs have said in the past."

Yes, absolutely. Unfortunately, the way AP reported his Thursday press conference is not at all different from how they have done so in the past.

H/T: My sis via, Fox News.

But jk thinks:

Chief Craig was on "The Independents" on FOX Business last night (a VERY GOOD show, by the way!) and he is the real deal.

Posted by: jk at January 7, 2014 12:23 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Glad to hear it. Maybe he has a future in politics! My brother-in-law knew him as a lieutenant at LAPD. He said he liked him at the time. Probably likes him even better now that his views have "evolved very quickly."

Posted by: johngalt at January 7, 2014 3:58 PM

January 3, 2014

Otequay of the Ayday

It should have been a banner year for the re-elected Barack Obama. In January he promised us the rollout of new health care and climate change legislation, immigration reform, more gun control and new federal spending initiatives. Instead, his approval ratings dived to the lowest level at this point in a president's second term since Richard Nixon's.

Why the sudden unpopularity of the mellifluous and charismatic Obama? He forgot the old rule that a president can mislead, misstate and misquote only so many times.

-- Victor Davis Hanson on Investors' editorial page.

Another "dirty little secret" of renewable energy

I wonder if readers will be as surprised as I to learn that the energy required to produce a 1,000 watt solar panel is on the order of 20,000,000 watt hours? That is the gist of this 1997 Australian whitepaper - Can Solar Cells Ever Recapture the Energy Invested in their Manufacture?

It depends on the particular type of panel of course, and efficiencies may have improved but still, I wonder how many solar PV evangelists know that the energy produced in the first 2-10 years of their system's operation all goes to pay back the energy consumed to create the things in the first place? "Woo hoo, halfway through my solar PV warranty period I'm finally net energy positive! Feel the clean power baby!"

I heard this topic discussed on a local liberty-oriented radio show last night, where the claim was that the energy of manufacture exceeds the energy produced over a lifetime. While that may be true at extreme latitudes it's a credibility-destroying exaggeration.

But jk thinks:

And the batteries in that plug-in Prius already have 40,000 miles of equivalent impact on them.

Talking with a friendly on FB (yeah, there's one -- I met him at LOTR-Flatirons), I'm concerned about something else photovoltaic: From Dr. Gray's Global Warming speech, the solar energy hitting earth is ~4W/m2 -- is that not a maximum? 5 x 5 m to light a 100W bulb? Good thing they're illegal.

Me missing something?

Posted by: jk at January 3, 2014 5:43 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yeah, 4 watts is way low. Click the Atlantis Farm Weather widget on the sidebar any time to find a graph of real-time solar radiation in watts per square meter. In winter the peak is about 500 and in summer about 1000. Even averaged over a 24-hour period it is about 80 watts in winter and 160 in summer.

Which means, now that I think about it, a 1kW peak power panel can't produce that much year-round, which means the years to break even is higher than advertised.

Posted by: johngalt at January 3, 2014 6:04 PM
But jk thinks:

Very cool, thanks. Me need to read Dr. Gray again.

Posted by: jk at January 3, 2014 6:13 PM



Too strong, perhaps, but I did wonder if Hillary knew the young woman who escorted Bill to the Mayor Comrade Citizen DeBlasio inauguration Wednesday. Is this really her? Wow, that President HRC thingy may have taken a small step in the wrong direction.

2016 Posted by JohnGalt at 4:57 PM | What do you think? [0]

January 2, 2014

World Ends -- Sandra Fluke Hardest Hit

A "Hitch" in ObamaCare? Mai Non!


WaPo: Supreme Court temporarily allows religious groups not to cover birth control By Sandhya Somashekhar, Robert Barnes and Michelle Boorstein The Obama administration faced a fresh challenge to its health-care law just as many of its key provisions took effect Wednesday, after an eleventh-hour Supreme Court ruling temporarily allowed some Catholic groups not to cover birth control in their employee health plans.
Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 4:01 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

My headline: "Nuns' Win Latest Battle in Their War on Women"

Posted by: johngalt at January 2, 2014 5:12 PM
But jk thinks:

...with help of Justice Sotomayor. You can't write this stuff!

Posted by: jk at January 2, 2014 6:14 PM

Headline of the Year

Yeah, I know it's Jan 2. But (WSJ Ed Page):


But johngalt thinks:

What? No electric powered icebreakers?

Posted by: johngalt at January 2, 2014 6:08 PM

Obamacare Tax Liens. Rilly?

There I sat, fat dumb and happy that I could avoid O-care's non-compliance penalty simply by making sure I never have a refund due on my federal income tax deductions. Then KOA Denver's Mike Rosen reads a letter claiming, among other things, "if you go 24 consecutive months with 'Non-Payment' and you happen to be a home owner, you will have a federal tax lien placed on your home."

Rosen must be nuts to read a crazy internet rumor. Right?

Americans for Tax Reform's Ryan Ellis, September 14, 2012 - Obamacare Will Lead to Federal IRS Liens

Indeed, that's supported by the Obamacare statute. Sec. 1501(g)(2) makes it clear that the IRS cannot impose criminal penalties, levies, or liens. To be clear, the tax liability this refers to is the penalty for not complying with the individual mandate. For most families, the penalty will equal or exceed 2.5 percent of their adjusted gross income. But at least the IRS won't pursue taxpayers, right?

This is neither credible nor comforting for several reasons.

Read the article for the reasons, set up by government, for government, above the people.

But jk thinks:

I would never counsel somebody to just run up a huge tax bill because the IRS lacked specific powers for collection. I have heard that but it never really sounded like a winning strategy to me.

Let us thank Saint Chief John Roberts, however [see Review Corner], that the discussion is between liens and fines and overdue taxes. Had the law survived on the Wickard/Raich precedents of the Commerce Clause, we would be looking at imprisonment.

Posted by: jk at January 2, 2014 2:49 PM
But johngalt thinks:

There's a Hobson's choice: "Give us your house or go to jail." Hard to see either as a reason to be "thankful" to the SCOTUS.

Stare decisis notwithstanding, it seems like there was something in the Constitution about both of those individual rights. John Roberts, call your office, again.

Posted by: johngalt at January 2, 2014 5:15 PM
But jk thinks:

Mr. Hobson could not be reached for comment.

But I'd caution against downplaying the difference. Referencing a different Review Corner, the difference between fines and prison reifies the closer one gets to prison.

The key is that the ObamaCare offender can pay the tax and be legal. Kopel (I think) presents the alternative of drug incarceration. Were that changed to the taxing power, we'd all but empty our prisons. But the Controlled Substances Act is allowed under the Commerce Clause.

Posted by: jk at January 2, 2014 6:23 PM

6 Crazy Ways jk thinks he's Martin Luther...

I'm not sure -- is this Upworthy thing working out?

But I want to politely reintroduce a topic that might be annoying a reader or two. This morning on Facebook, I trip across this from a wife of an old musician buddy. She is interesting in that she went in for both the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street.

Our true populist has seen through the lies and veneer of ObamaCare to become a fulsome opponent of the law and the administration's attempts to promote it. This has led to a string of fun posts.

Today, the streak breaks with: "Pope Francis Hurts The Tender Feelings Of A Billionaire Republican." Larry Kudlow had a segment on this (from a slightly different perspective). It seems Ken Langone is helping St. Patrick's Church raise funds:

Home Depot founder and investor Ken Langone, who is currently leading the $180 million fundraising efforts to complete the renovations on St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City, recently told CNBC that a potential million dollar donor has voiced apprehension about donating to the project after Pope Francis critiqued trickle-down economics in November as "naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power."

"Give me a million to help me spread the word that you're wicked" is perhaps flawed as a fundraising theme. Although it would work pretty well on Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, I don't think either are Catholic.

I've read that this is just because he is from Argentina or that the Media has distorted his words and cherry-picked small economic statements from a larger work. All well and good, but he has to know his audience and the power of his pulpit. And this is where it leads.

Why doesn't Pope Francis support the GOP?

That's a tricky question. Maybe it's because in the richest country in the world the rich have invested enormous amounts of money in order to bribe pay off buy persuade politicians. Their goal? To cut food stamps to hungry children, deny healthcare to the sick and otherwise slash the social safety net all while giving more tax breaks to the already mega-wealthy. Whatever could Pope Francis find objectionable about that?

But poor Ken isn't buying it (an unusual experience for him, no doubt):

The snarky lefty populist post is moderately entertaining if you know the backstory, but it caught at least one who did not. She said "looks like somebody is irritating the right people!"


Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 2:04 PM | What do you think? [0]

You Won't Believe the 9 Crazy Ways George Will thinks he's jk!

Nah, I'm just going for provocative, Upworthyesque headlines.

But Mister Will pens a superb review of Ilya Somin's book which was featured in our humble Review Corner last November.

It was naughty of Winston Churchill to say, if he really did, that "the best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter." Nevertheless, many voters' paucity of information about politics and government, although arguably rational, raises awkward questions about concepts central to democratic theory, including consent, representation, public opinion, electoral mandates and officials' accountability.

In "Democracy and Political Ignorance: Why Smaller Government is Smarter" (Stanford University Press), Ilya Somin of George Mason University law school argues that an individual's ignorance of public affairs is rational because the likelihood of his or her vote being decisive in an election is vanishingly small. The small incentives to become informed include reducing one's susceptibility to deceptions, misinformation and propaganda. And if remaining ignorant is rational individual behavior, it has likely destructive collective outcomes.

This Will kid shows promise!

January 1, 2014

"Get in line" my a$$

I appreciated the props from jk for recognizing early on that the Duck Dynasty kerfuffle was a seminal moment in American politics. American Spectator's Jeffrey Lord has a very good article that explains why. Here is but one insightful passage:

The key to GLAAD’s millions [of tax-exempt profits] — and the power all these "fascist bands" have exercised over the last several decades — is guilting Americans into believing that if they don't go along with the latest "non-negotiable" left-wing demand they are somehow…well….pick one. Racist, homophobic, pro-war, greedy, sexist and on and on and on…yada yada yada. In fact, one is doubtless more than safe in suspecting that in those millions of Phil Robertson fans are people with gay family or friends who decidedly could not be considered "anti-gay" -- but refuse to sit by silently and watch an obviously good person be lynched in the name of some left-wing conception of gay rights.

What's happened here with this Phil Robertson episode is more than about Mr. Robertson himself. Much more.

The backlash against A&E and GLAAD says in plain language that Americans are fed up with being routinely confronted by Reagan's "cowardly little fascist bands."

Read it.

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