February 28, 2014
Otequay of the Ayday
The Tea Party rightly concluded from the battles over Obamacare that what we are seeing in our politics these days is not two clashing interpretations of the same Constitution, but increasingly two different Constitutions in conflict: the old Constitution of 1787 and a “living” Constitution that is not just a different approach to the original, but an alternative to it. The extraordinary fight the Tea Party was willing to put up arose from this fact—that Obamacare amounted to a colossal battle between two different ways of government. And it was the Tea Party and President Obama who shared a clear understanding of the stakes; mainstream Republican leaders understood them with much less clarity and intensity.
Government CEO: "What's in it [Keystone XL] for us?"
That's my new favorite term for 'politician' - Government CEO - because each and every decision seems to be based on how much the government, and consequently he, can profit by it. Take FL9 Representative Alan Grayson who wrote,
Well, the Chinese have figured it out. They're going to get their energy from Canada, a stable country, and pass it through the United States, another stable country. They will pay the Canadians the world price for oil. They will pay us nothing, or next to nothing. So Uncle Sam is Uncle Sucker.
And there at last is the real issue. Since the oil originates outside the country, state and federal governments can't charge confiscatory excise taxes. And whatever is sold outside the country escapes any consumer fuel taxes. Grayson offers a possible solution, however:
All of the oil that passes through the Trans-Alaska Pipeline has to be sold in the United States. Why not the same rule for the Keystone XL Pipeline? But instead, we allow a tax-free zone, to facilitate Chinese energy independence at the expense of our own. Why does Uncle Sam have to be Uncle Sucker?
Because increasing supply will drive down costs, Uncle Douchebag. No, you won't get any revenue to buy votes with but American consumers, whose transportation costs represent 17% of the average household budget, will get some pocketbook relief. Then again, you wouldn't want any of your constituents thinking they could be happy and prosperous without your beneficience, would you?
AP columnist and financial planner Richard Larsen writes in this week's column, 'America's Beleaguered Middle Class:'
Domestic energy prices have likewise increased dramatically. Over the past 10 years, energy prices have more than doubled as government energy policy has become increasingly ideological and counterintuitive. Increasing energy costs adversely affect the middle class disproportionately.
And this informative chart from the "17 percent" link above.
Quote of the Day
Our Miss Margaret can still turn a phrase:
In the dark screwball comedy that is ObamaCare, the Congressional Budget Office revealed last month the law will provide disincentives to work. Don't worry, said Nancy Pelosi, people can take that time and go become poets and painters. At first you think: Huh, I can do that, I've got a beret. Then you think: No, I have to earn a living. Then you think, poor hardworking rube that you are: Wait a second, I'm subsidizing all this. I've been cast in the role of Catherine de Medici, patroness of the arts. She at least had a castle, I just get a bill! -- Peggy Noonan
February 27, 2014
Colorado in the News
A very good mix-up today for pragmatic, Centennial State Republicans. Cory Gardner (R - CO4) will run for the Senate against Mark Udall (Scion - CO). Ken Buck will run for his vacated congressional seat, and Amy Stephens will end her primary campaign and endorse Gardner.
Jason Riley at the WSJ notes this is a strong play for the GOP and puts the Senate seat in play. An acrimonious primary is obviated and a top-tier candidate is recruited. I like Buck and will be happy to have him as my Congressman -- he would have to work to lose this district.
Some of my libertoid and Tea Party friends are not sure about Gardner's bona fides, but this pragmatist is pretty happy.
To sum it up, All Hail Taranto:
More on GDP and the great stagnation...
I think that we'd agree that what matters is the value that we’re creating, not whether a particular metric moves -- especially a metric like GDP, which often literally goes in the opposite direction of welfare. When things become free, that can often lead to a decrease in measured GDP, even though it leads to a big increase in welfare. Wikipedia is a perfect example of that. Or take the fact that most people now have, you know, a device that gives them turn-by-turn driving directions. It's pretty much free with most smart phones. But a few years ago, people were paying hundreds of dollars for a GPS machine. So I think we have to be careful about overreliance on a metric that was never understood to be or shouldn't be understood to be a welfare metric.-- "The Second Machine Age" co-author Erik BrynjolfssonFrom a superb interview with the authors by James Pethokoukis at AEI.
Surf Dude Meme
February 26, 2014
The world needs working folks too
Not just Entitlement Surfers.
Fair and Balanced
Dispassionate. Objectively. That is how the following interview is conducted, and how the reader should view it. It is the first non-libelous thing I can remember ever hearing or reading about Margaret Sanger. Perhaps it's the circles I travel in. More likely, it's her association with Planned Parenthood which, like so many well intended organizations, seems to have been taken over by extremist zealots with a single-minded agenda.
From the Reason article: Margaret Sanger was Anti-Abortion?!?!
I just responded to an Upworthy Post with a TED talk!
Me. I feel dirty. You know the kind of person who responds to an Upworthy.com post with a TED talk? Don't tell the folks at ThreeSources, they'll revoke your login . . .
But a not-overwhelmingly-political young person I know posted this:
I did not want to start a Facebook war with this person. But "Upworthy Lad" (kindof "Pajama Boy" with no hot chocolate) claims this has been around for years and nobody has refuted it. And, that grates on me.
Watch if you want, but it is the precautionary principle wrapped up for Facebook crowd. Obviously, the action to prevent something is less damaging: we trade a flu shot for flu, we do not amputate our arms to reduce hangnails. So, we don't know about global warming but it could be really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really bad. So we should "prevent it."
I responded: "You're not driving into work today, are you? The worst that could happen if you stay home is your boss yells at you -- but you could be in a horrific car accident and lose your head! All because you were afraid of getting yelled at..."
But I responded because (Internet Segue Alert) the TED talk linked in my Arnold Kling Post makes a better point. Upworthy Lad no doubt thinks we'll fix it by buying LED light bulbs and driving Priuses. When really "His top left square is not some beta risk of Depression, but 2-4 billion people doing their own washing and burning dung to keep warm."
When somebody says that he doesn't consider Gross Domestic Product a good measure . . . I usualy start looking for the exits. Clearly we'll soon be hearing a State of Oregon or Bhupal index of well being that supersedes mere finances. And Voila! The dirt poor socialist country will outscore the US. I've heard it a thousand times, kid.
But, when it is economics HOSS Arnold Kling speaking, I'll listen more politely.
From the standpoint of measuring social welfare, the most important omission in the GDP statistics may be what economists call consumer surplus. Consumer surplus is defined as the additional value of a good beyond what can be measured in its cost. A flight to Miami from Boston or Philadelphia costs much less than the value that travelers get from it -- especially in a winter like the one we have experienced this year!
The Deidre McCloskey-ite in me would not dismiss per capita GDP or consumption equivalent as important for large scale differences between North Korea and Finland or Cave men and ThreeSourcers. But the $20,000 vs. $30,000 seems less useful.
My favorite retort to the income inequality crowd is how much my life is like Bill Gates's. I fly coach and he gets a lift on a corporate jet, but we still fly. I drive a ten year old Toyota but I drive. Poor Americans tend to have air-conditioning and cell phones and cable tv (my prog friends become incensed when I say that -- like I don't want them to have things!)
It is difficult to quantify. I think Kling is on track with the value of "consumer surplus."
Score one for Facebook:
UPDATE: I may live to regret sharing this link.
Don't Let the Door Hit yer Ass on the Way Out, Congressman!
There will be no shortage of treacle-on-newsprint when John Dingell (Satrap - MI) steps down from his 24,000 year tenure in Congress.
Thank all that is good in the world for the Wall Street Journal Editorial Page. They offer a more realistic assessment in The House that John Built. Dingell is taking his parting shots at everyone who refuses to bow to him. "I find serving in the House to be obnoxious," the 87-year-old told the Detroit News. "It's become very hard because of the acrimony and bitterness, both in Congress and in the streets."
The WSJ editorial staff he might accept some of the blame for that acrimony.
Mr. Dingell may have intended his "obnoxious" barb at the tea party and Americans angry with Washington, but most of those people don't know how to maneuver through the corridors of power. They can't afford to hire someone from "the Dingell bar," the name adopted with an almost civic pride by the Washington lawyers who were well paid for representing businesses caught in the Dingell investigative cross-hairs. Many were his former staffers.
February 25, 2014
Movie Quote of the Day
Requiescat in pace, Harold Ramis. All hail the libertarian masterpiece.
But the WSJ chooses a ThreeSources-worthy exchange from "Caddyshack:"
Carl Spackler: So I jump ship in Hong Kong and I make my way over to Tibet, and I get on as a looper at a course over there in the Himalayas.
Quote of the Day
Bottom line -- We "played nice" in Ad Age because the people involved are all, well....nice. I'm just at a point in my career where I want to associate myself with messages that speak directly to the issues that are important to me. That's why the Walmart ad was so appealing. A $250 billion investment in US manufacturing is worth talking about, and very much in keeping with the goals of my own foundation. If any other "Oppressors" are looking to make a similar investment in America, drop me a line. I'm happy to "shill" for any company that get this country back to work. -- "Shill for the Oppressors," Mike RoweI've mentioned that I struggle with a full three cheers for a "Buy American" message, but I like the cut of this guy's gib. Joe the Plumber lacked the chops for a political career, but this young man? He could go as far as he wished.
February 24, 2014
CU Geography Question
Visiting scholar and LOTR-F speaker Steven Hayward mentioned he was bringing in Jonah Goldberg. Jonah included pleas in his last G-File for some friendly seeds behind the lines in Boulder.
Well, that's tomorrow:
Syndicated columnist and author Jonah Goldberg argues that liberalism's attempt to be simultaneously rebellious and pragmatic gets both the past and the present wrong, and he is scheduled to make that case in an appearance on the University of Colorado Boulder campus Feb. 25.
Eaton Humanities -- where could a fellow who doesn't really care for long walks park? Blog friend Terri has also expressed interest.
February 23, 2014
Thucydides? Virgil? What great masterful work have you mastered, jk? Well.... I still plan to read capital-G Great books, but a friend recommended something that sounded little-g great. And it was.
M. Night Shyamalan, enjoying considerable box office success, tries his hand at philanthropy, directing his wealth at education in his hometown of Philadelphia. He's a Hollywood guy so he writes some checks and schedules some fancy dinners. Y'know, philanthropy.
As they shook our hands politely and left, Bhavna looked at me and saw I was shaken. I was looking to be inspired. These children needed saving, but our money wasn't going to do the trick. The system had beaten them badly enough that no amount of money could undo the scars.
I applaud his noticing that outcomes are important. Too many celebrities, and most all legislators, total up the checks and take a victory lap. Shyamalan saw on the first outing that more was needed, and resolved to try and fix the problem, not just finance it. He starts a foundation and hires a researcher to "follow the data" and take a cold hard look at what works and what does not.
I Got Schooled: The Unlikely Story of How a Moonlighting Movie Maker Learned the Five Keys to Closing America’s Education Gap is the story of his considerable involvement with experts of all backgrounds and ideologies, plus time visiting schools that are performing. Shyamalan is a storyteller, and the book is crafted like one of his screenplays. The "five keys" are withheld to where I won't provide them as a spoiler "I see the five keys, Mister Willis . . ."
The book is no less serious than The New School [Review Corner] or The Beautiful Tree [Review Corner], but it is told with a screenwriter's deft touch. He travels to Palo Alto, meets the great education professor Eric Hanushek, the Paul and Jean Hanna Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. The professor's thoughts are recorded, but so is the author's menu choice. He asks the waiter whether he should have the cheeseburger or the Stanford Club:
I do this to every waiter or waitress. I make them complicit in my bad choices. My wife finds this habit completely annoying. The professor was amused by my culinary vacillations. I settled on the club and said no to the fries reluctantly. I had told the professor about the health tenet model on the walk over, so he gave me the fist of solidarity for not choosing the fries. I dove right in with the questions. I asked him about classroom size.
Shyamalan has a doctor friend who suggests that there are five keys to good health: get enough sleep, eat well, exercise, avoid stress, drink coffee (I may have forgotten #5...) But that if one is out of whack, the others do not do that much good. He takes this insight for himself and finds five keys to education reform. When one of these is missing in a middle or upper class student, the lifestyle ameliorates. But at risk or disadvantaged students stuck with a bad teacher suffer.
Children from affluent, educated families get just as many ineffective teachers as everyone else. They just don't pay for it. Kids from poor families do.
One of the keys is more time in school, and their research suggests that the bulk of the achievement gap between races and classes happens over summer vacations. In school they remain close, but Missy and Brad summer with library and museum visits while their peers lose ground. (Curiously, both lose math, he suggests that home algebra sessions are not big in most any culture).
I applaud his objective, data-driven solutions. He quickly rejects canards like class size in opposition to "everybody knows" solutions. He is bone-crunchingly non-ideological. He mentions that he is of Hollywood and has imbued progressive politics but is not driven by them. So, ten points.
But I have to remove one and a half (points, he'll still do well in stars) because he does not follow through. He correctly shows that charter schools, statistically compared en masse to conventional schooling, show small effect. Fair cop, guv, but the same statistical ambiguity for pre-K maddeningly gets a hall pass. Well, the effect is not pronounced but we should anyway... Huh? What about the rest of the book?
And, while he turns off his ideology, I cannot (Ahem, I call mine principles). While he adds a lot to the debate, in the end he trusts the same outfit that got us where we are to implement his five keys. Four out of five are clearly at odds with the teachers' unions objectives. Charter schools are soft pedaled, but I suggest that no other structure would enable any of them.
Then -- and I am not selling the book to ThreeSourcers, am I? -- he closes with a call for more federal control of curricula and spending. Yeah, these same guys who created the planet's most dysfunctional institution will fix it when I give them the plan.
So, M Night Shayalaman provides a shocking ending. Unlike "The Sixth Sense," I didn't dig it.
February 21, 2014
"Once Everyone Understands Capitalism, We'll Replace it"
Capitalism is as misunderstood as it is maligned. Mostly, I think, because of all the government "smoothing of rough edges." Dictionary.com defines capitalism as,
an economic system in which investment in and ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange of wealth is made and maintained chiefly by private individuals or corporations, especially as contrasted to cooperatively or state-owned means of wealth.
But this must be some kind of brainwashing or something, cuz the internets give the real definition:
The system in which some people own businesses and stock and others have no choice but to work for them and generate surplus value is called capitalism.
I guess the people who do have a choice are born with a dollar sign on their bellies or some such.
This comes from a largely anonymous website that has as its homepage a 7-point bullet list explaining what capitalism is and why it is inferior to "many noncapitalist systems." Applying a new skill that JK taught me, bullet 1 misdefines capitalism and throws in a false criticism for good measure; bullet 7 baldly asserts that capitalism is obviously an inferior system; and bullets 2-6 attempt to establish the connection between the false premise and the premeditated "conclusion."
May I indulge the reader to consider my take on a few points?
1) "Capitalism increases wealth stratification" because capitalism increases wealth. Good, no?
2) "Wealth is power" but government is absolute power. Shall we talk about increased government?
3) I like to keep what I create or earn, and feel justified in doing so and supporting laws that protect my right to keep what's mine. No apology or defense is required. After all, it didn't exist before I made it.
4) There are no "classes" of people. There are individuals who choose in varying degrees to be productive, thrifty and ambitious - or not.
5) In order to end misery one must recognize that he is as capable of spending less than he earns as is anyone else. Since wealth is power, earn some and save some, then use it wisely.
6) What was wrong with wealth "stratification" in the first place? Can't you be happy enough with a home and some savings and a loving family that thinks the world of you because you can comfortably support them, despite what anyone else has?
"Unfair" is a word invented by social organizers to keep you feeling "poor, hopeless, desperate, distracted, overbusy, deluded, oppressed and generally miserable." Why not just be happy instead?
A Musical PPACAo2010HSOTD!
February 20, 2014
UPDATE: Blog friend sc sends a link to an update. I suspect His Holiness whispered "Eppur si Mouve" when the thumbscrews came off -- but here's hoping.
Century-old Injustice Made Right
At least, that's how Van Jones and Ward Churchill would describe it.
In 1905, Congress acted to reduce the size of Wind River by opening it up to homesteading by non-Indians, a decision affirmed in subsequent court rulings. It was determined that towns settled by homesteaders such as Riverton were not part of the reservation. To the EPA, both history and law are irrelevant.
Wyoming isn't sitting still for this.
"My deep concern," [Wyoming Governor Matt] Mead wrote in a statement issued last month, "is about an administrative agency of the federal government altering a state's boundary and going against over 100 years of history and law.
Churchill can almost be heard, "Take that, bitches."
February 19, 2014
And damage impressionable youth . . .
Hat-tip: Yes, a Facebook friend, how did you guess?
Speaking of Anti-Poverty Policy...
That is one of the two "biggest challenges facing the world in the 21st century" according to Patrick McCulley at international rivers dot org, who posted [in 2004] Twelve Reasons to Exclude Large Hydro From Renewables Initiatives. Spoiler alert: None of the 12 reasons is "Large hydro is non-renewable." To the contrary, reason #12 admits that it is, precisely, renewable:
12 - Large hydro reservoirs are often rendered non-renewable by sedimentation
No word on the required maintenance or "useful lives" of wind, solar or small hydro.
Minimum Wage QOTD
So we lose maybe 500,000 jobs (the first rung for many on the upward mobility ladder) for an anti-poverty policy where half the benefits go to families whose income is three times the poverty threshold or more (see above chart). This does not sound like optimal anti-poverty policy to me, especially as compared to expanding the EITC and adding a wage subsidy. -- James Pethokoukis
Life Imitates ThreeSources
If you think your job is tough, try hawking the Affordable Care Act on the streets of Florida. The New York Times reports on an effort by Planned Parenthood and other liberal political organizations to find the law;s intended beneficiaries: "The hunt for the uninsured in Broward County got underway one recent afternoon when 41 canvassers, armed with electronic maps on Samsung tablets, set off through working-class neighborhoods to peddle the Affordable Care Act door to door. Four hours later, they had made contact with 2,623 residents and signed up exactly 25 people.
Look for the Union Label . . .
. . . and my guess is that is says "XXXL!"
Thanks to Jim Geraghty for this photo of the day of National AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka and Wisconsin State AFL-CIO President Phil Neuenfeldt. The puffy fellow in the middle would be the Green Bay Packers' mascot.
So has ThreeSourcers thrown out the rational arguments and begun to publishing unflattering photos of those with whom it disagrees? Well, your use of the inchoative flatters...
But it is germane because Geraghty's point is that many union contracts are indexed to the minimum wage. So the fixation on the minimum wage, which will kill ~500,000 jobs and affect only 0.3% of the population suddenly makes some sense: it will sate union leaders' hunger for higher dues and wages and feed their appetite for worker fulfillment.
February 17, 2014
Probably some Koch Brothers plant, spreading this scurrilous lie that extreme weather cannot be tied to climate change:
"There continues to be a lack of evidence and thus low confidence regarding the sign of trend in the magnitude and/or frequency of floods on a global scale."
Oh, wait, that's the IPCC report. Pretty much the gold standard for climate science... And
Here’s what a paper published by 17 senior IPCC scientists from five different countries said last month:
Thanks to Rational Optimist Matt Ridley for Floods and gales in the UK are not evidence of climate change. And to blog friend tg for a Facebook post of Ridley's (also excellent) Science discovers new ignorance about the past
News You Can Use
According to research, "evening-types tend to be less reliable, less emotionally stable and more apt to suffer from depression, addictions and eating disorders" but at least we're [correlationally] smarter than morning-types.
According to Kanazawa, ancestral humans were typically diurnal, and that a shift towards more nocturnal activities is an "evolutionarily novel preference" of the type normally found in more intelligent individuals, demonstrating "a higher level of cognitive complexity" in the practitioners.
Don't tell my kids. It's hard enough already getting them to go to bed.
Good news just keeps on coming!
The decision by workers at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee to reject the United Auto Workers is the best news so far this year for the American economy. Even with Volkswagen management on its side, the union that combined with CEOs to nearly ruin U.S. car makers couldn't persuade a majority voting in a secret ballot to let it become their agent to bargain with the foreign-owned company.
February 16, 2014
Why I dumped a liberal
Clearly I need to work on my schtick: where as Carrie Sheffield can take 8 column-inches to say Why I Can't Date a Liberal, my experience was quite simple.
While she sounded nice - intelligent even - and said all the right words, when you burrowed down to why, you'd find out she was clueless or a lying POS! Example: "Fracking is ruining drinking water all over the country" [me] Really, where? "We don't talk politics!" I was talking about science, chemical by products and toxicity and the like. "We don't talk about it!"
If paid by the inch, I'll be a pauper, but at least I didn't (because I wouldn't; and hey, I'm worth it, too!) subject my kids to that hysteria, willful ignorance, misguided trust, and downright mendaciousness.
Too often, there are things we have to read that are not really worth spending a lot of time reading; if we cannot read them quickly, it will be a terrible waste of time. It is true enough that many people read some things too slowly, and that they ought to read them faster. But many people also read some things too fast, and they ought to read those things more slowly.Serious words from Mortimer J. Adler. Blog brother Bryan recommended How to Read a Book. While I had ne'er heard of it, it was a big deal both in 1940, and in 1970 when it was extensively revised and re-released. I recall that "speedreading" was a big deal. The opening quote is directed at that craze, but hit me a bit where I live
In Black Swan, Nicholas Nassim Taleb redirected my reading from magazines and blogs toward books. After several years, I appreciate that. Adler comes along and calls me to read some better and more challenging books -- and to take the time to completely digest them.
The title is a bit provocative: have I been doing it wrong? Do I need to start with Dick & Jane and read everything correctly? I would self-confidently assert that I probably have picked up 80-90% of what he says on my own, learning to read in the mean streets and dark alleys of literature and exposition as it were. But there are a few good easy tips, and a few very difficult suggestions. Easy stuff first.
When I read a novel, I like to know as little as possible. I don't read the blurbs or reviews unless I am on the fence whether I want to buy or read it. A book I know I want I will start, tabula rasa, at page one. But for an expository work, or perhaps a more serious novel, Adler suggests a comprehensive look at the table of contents. "It is astonishing how many people never even glance at a book’s table of contents unless they wish to look something up in it. In fact, many authors spend a considerable amount of time in creating the table of contents, and it is sad to think their efforts are often wasted." Ergo, rule three of analytical reading:
SET FORTH THE MAJOR PARTS OF THE BOOK, AND SHOW HOW THESE ARE ORGANIZED INTO A WHOLE, BY BEING ORDERED TO ONE ANOTHER AND TO THE UNITY OF THE WHOLE.
Again I've chosen this particular rule because it is something I never do. Many of his suggestions codify tasks I intrinsically perform, but could be more structured: "coming to terms" with an author, discerning the questions he asks, and finding whether he answers them adequately. Yeah, I do that. Right?
Curiously, Review Corners -- though terse for a distracted readership and a lazy writer -- have forced me to adopt some of the methods of categorizing, coming to terms, analyzing and criticizing. Who knew? I thank a kind readership for its part.
The highest level of reading, "syntopical reading" is what I'd call by the less glamorous name "research," viz., aligning the terms, structures, and information from multiple sources on the same topic. I do wish I had read this before I did my chronological tour of presidential biographies. My goals matched his, but his methods would have been more effective. I might have read more books but not all the way through. And a written, structured relationship of the different viewpoints I encountered, with additional research for clarification would have left me with a deeper understanding.
But the real takeaway for me is to seek more challenge. I have long enjoyed complex books; I like complexity in general. And yet, my recent lists have not reflected this. I plan to return to the more challenging works and try out Adler's techniques. One more slog through Gravity's Rainbow is in order, and a second run at Shin Tung Yau's Inner Space [Pre-Review Corner]. Plus I vow to trade in some current events and polemical works in exchange for more great works.
Good books are over your head; they would not be good for you if they were not. And books that are over your head weary you unless you can reach up to them and pull yourself up to their level.
Wish me luck. I've started the Aenid (John Dryden's 1917 Translation) and Thucydides's The History of the Peloponnesian War." I would not advise readers to hold their breath for Review Corners next week. But:
The body is limited in ways that the mind is not. One sign of this is that the body does not continue indefinitely to grow in strength and develop in skill and grace. By the time most people are thirty years old, their bodies are as good as they will ever be; in fact, many persons' bodies have begun to deteriorate by that time. But there is no limit to the amount of growth and development that the mind can sustain. The mind does not stop growing at any particular age; only when the brain itself loses its vigor, in senescence, does the mind lose its power to increase in skill and understanding.
Both of my selections are from Appendix A, subtitled, "books you should feel very stupid because you have not read."
I'll give the book five stars. Adler is such a hoss. I remember as a lad that he was all over TV: a true "public intellectual." Another sad sign of what have we lost going from Johnny Carson to Jon Stewart and as Brother Keith has mentioned from Rod Serling to whatever. I still hold that there has been a lot of quality programming. But I cannot think of a modern equivalent to Mortimer Adler.
February 14, 2014
And When They Came For the Journalists...
Those of you who think the press has a leftist bias will be as surprised as I was to read that, under the President Barack H. Obama Adminstration, the Federal Communications Commission is moving forward with plans to install a "wet nurse" in "radio, television, and even newspaper newsrooms" purportedly to find out if minority viewpoints are suppressed.
Pai warned that under the rationale of increasing minority representation in newsrooms, the FCC, which has the power to issue or not issue broadcasting licenses, would dispatch its "researchers" to newsrooms across America to seek their "voluntary" compliance about how news stories are decided, as well as "wade into office politics" looking for angry reporters whose story ideas were rejected as evidence of a shutout of minority views.
The surprising part of this story is not the government's, but the press industry's action. Or ... inaction.
It's an idea so fraught with potential for abuse it ought to have news agencies screaming bloody murder. The very idea of Obama hipsters showing up in newsrooms, asking questions and judging if newspapers (over which they have no jurisdiction), radio and TV are sufficiently diverse is nothing short of thought control.
Perhaps the powers that be in the news industry don't yet realize that by "minority views" the Administration intends to empower those who might defend personal liberty and voluntary trade in a free market?
UPDATE: Added the link to the wet nurse clip, as I had originally intended.
All Hail Insty!
Professor Reynolds, bringin' it as per usual...
February 13, 2014
David Kopel on San Diego Gun Rights
Whining is a good time, but we need to celebrate when the NINTH CIRCUIT FER CRYIN' OUT LOUD affirms 2nd Amendment rights.
The Ninth Circuit's decision in Peruta v. San Diego, released minutes ago, affirms the right of law-abiding citizens to carry handguns for lawful protection in public.
Defining Opression Down
Quick. Name the most oppressive place on the Earth. Now, hands up all who chose "the makeup aisle of our local Target store." Two, three . . . a couple guys in the back . . .
And, of course, Dr. Kelly Flanagan's friend. Flanagan is a licensed clinical psychologist and happy father of three. He writes inspirational letters to his young girls and posts them on his blog.
I actually find that endearing. Please don't construe this missive as objecting to positive self image for young girls. Buuuuuuuut, I wonder is the Doctor is not a bit over the top:
Dear Little One,
You know the rest. The models on the magazine covers are pretty and well below the median BMI of Target shoppers. The same magazines offer advice on flat abs and . . . The accompanying photo shows a bunch of them together to engender maximum outrage.
I am all for good self-image. But anybody who is "oppressed" looking at a magazine cover needs a psychologist -- even if he is one. Or, perhaps the advice of a software developer and guitar player.
Dear Big One,
February 12, 2014
On Science and Faith in Politics
Think carefully for a moment about the phrase, "The science is settled." That would make the issue in question an "absolute" would it not? And absolutism is what Democrats of all flavors most often criticize Republicans for believing.
This is the topic of an entertaining column by Andrew Quinn at The Federalist. The fun begins with his headline: "The Party of Science Has Absolutely No Clue What It's Talking About."
To an intellectually honest observer, these findings compel more questions. What are reasonable expectations for health insurance? Should we be satisfied if Medicaid helps people sleep easier but makes them no healthier? Even if so, is health insurance the most effective way to convert taxpayer dollars into peace of mind for the poor?
Because, like most people, progressives are more comfortable with facts that agree with how their mind is already made up. But there is a difference between progressives and the rest of us: They have so convinced themselves that theirs is an ideology rooted in objective science, and any contradictory ideology is rooted in Revealed Truth, that they don't even recognize when their ideology becomes exactly that - an article of faith.
So the next time a Facebook friend tells you his ideas are scientific be sure to ask him for his Hypothesis, Evidence and Analysis that support his Conclusion. If you are sufficiently skeptical he will eventually balk. Then you can ask him to who's authority he is subservient. After all, "consensus" is just another way of saying "I don't want to know any more than I already know." And isn't that why they like to laugh at the Religious Right?
Lebowski on The Debt Limit
Now, I don't think they had any choice (parting with at least one blog brother on Facebook). But I still appreciate Stan Veuger at AEI distilling a complex topic for us:
Meanwhile, in Buffy News...
Merging Buffy and the Allman Brothers! Is this a great country or what????
[ThreeSources fave Eliza Dusku] has joined the cast of "Midnight Rider," a biopic about Allman Brothers singer-organist Gregg Allman, in which Allman will be played by William Hurt. According to the trade publication, Dushku will play the woman who inspired the song "Whipping Post," which Allman first recorded when he was 21.
"Oh Lord, I feel like I'm dyyyyyyyin'..."
February 11, 2014
Anti-gay, Anti-Choice Obama Administration!
ObamaCare! It's obviously some crazed, rightwing, nut-job conspiracy:
1, Sure Looks Like Discrimination
2. Family Planning Squeezed in California by Healthcare law.
I might remind some about single issue voting.
While President Obama has been a lightning rod for controversial governance in the United States I have long believed that his policies, which are largely antithetical to Constitutional Americanism, were in service to the goals of some entity outside of his own ego and imagination. Whether or not any smoking gun linkage can be found or even exists, I now believe the entity best served by the Obama Administration's efforts toward "transformation" of America is the United Nations.
Your not-so-humble and proudly irreligious blogger takes umbrage at said body of corrupt global power-lusting kleptocrats' latest assault on liberty in the form of issuing it's own version of an encyclical, which deigns to compel the Pope to bend to the will, not of God, but the UN:
One need not share the church’s views on homosexuality, contraception, or abortion to understand that when governments or world bodies such as the United Nations venture into the realm of what faiths may or may not practice or preach, it constitutes a mortal threat to religious liberty. Here in the United States we have seen a conflict over the Obama administration’s efforts to impose a mandate forcing religious institutions and their adherents to pay for services that offend their faith. If upheld by the courts, that ObamaCare mandate would constitute an intolerable infringement on the First Amendment rights of religious freedom from government intrusion.
One also need not be religious to see the inherent danger of a government infringement on religious liberty, being a subset of general individual liberty. Jonathan Tobin concludes:
The church should unequivocally reject the UN Committee’s pronouncements about faith. So, too, should everyone who values and wishes to preserve freedom of religion for all people.
And everyone who values and wishes to preserve freedom of any kind for all people.
You Think Your Job Sucks!
Ron Fournier: Why I'm Getting Sick of Defending Obamacare
It's getting difficult and slinking toward impossible to defend the Affordable Care Act. The latest blow to Democratic candidates, liberal activists, and naďve columnists like me came Monday from the White House, which announced yet another delay in the Obamacare implementation.
Poor journalists. Comforting the comfortable is hard work.
February 10, 2014
Obama Makes Mid-Sized Company Employees "Job Slaves"
In an article about the adminstration unilaterally revising the PPACA - again - those right-wing hacks at CNN embed a video bashing the President's signature legislation.
"Joe Biden said this is a big fucking deal. This is a big fucking disaster."
Next thing you know they'll be reporting that an American diplomat was murdered by terrorists in the middle east on the anniversary of 9/11.
February 9, 2014
I WIll Start the Motor of the World.
Minus two points for anti-Ricardian economics, but plus 20 for celebrating the dignity and creativity of work.
Hat-tip: The Blaze
February 8, 2014
Liberty advocate, gun rights scholar, law professor, and general HOSS David Kopel takes an Internet quiz: What President are you most like?
You cannot make this stuff up...
February 7, 2014
'Why Government Healthcare Sucks' For Dummies
From ObamaCare Disaster May Deliver Mortal Blow To Liberalism by Scott S. Powell in IBD.
What the Democratic Party's effort to remake one-sixth of the economy in restructuring health care delivery has totally ignored is the vital role of entrepreneurial input, individual choice and the free flow of information, which are at the heart of delivering quality and low cost in every industry.
What motivates medical professionals to deliver better care?
A - More income derived from more satisfied patients
Conventional Wisdom states that the Obama Administration has increased sales of firearms and that the rest of the economy suffers. I'm happy to share a story that contradicts that.
The good people at Gibson Guitars have created a special edition Les Paul with the woods returned from confiscation in the famous Fish & Game SWAT team raid. They did the same with wood damaged in the 2010 flood. One of those found its way into my closet.
I do not really need another Les Paul. But I had to have one of these.
Government Series II Les Paul
I emailed my awesome local guitar shop of my interest at 11:00 last night when I saw this on Reason.
Sadly for me, but happily for the cause of liberty, I received this first thing this morning:
I think that ThreeSourcers might dig this.
That's the question being posed in the latest issue of an Australian literary journal, Quadrant, by Garth Paltridge, one of the world's most respected atmospheric scientists. [Paltridge:]
Another serious scientist joins the good guys. Nice. But what I really enjoyed is his portrayal of climate scientists: Paltridge, again:
A new and rewarding research lifestyle emerged which involved the giving of advice to all types and levels of government, the broadcasting of unchallengeable opinion to the general public, and easy justification for attendance at international conferences--this last in some luxury by normal scientific experience, and at a frequency previously unheard of.
Anybody who has ever had his lunch bought by a Koch Brother or received a paycheck from Exxon is not to be included in the conversation. But flying first class to Davos to meet the Vice President and stay in a five star hotel is somehow just part of living for an academic.
I have always tried to point out that either way, the oil company scientists are going to have a job. But if climate change is anything less than boiling oil catastrophe on a stick: the researchers are going to have to get real jobs.
Quote of the Day
Look, Obama administration, if you don't want to build the Keystone Pipeline, just come out and say so. Take the political lumps and get it over with. Enough of this perpetual "well, we just need to review it a few more months" limbo. To put the length of time of this review in perspective, when they first sought approval to build the pipeline, the fossils that make up the fossil fuel of the oil were still walking around. -- Jim Geraghty(Pointing out even my-former-Senator-your-former-SecInterior Ken Salazar is for it.)
February 6, 2014
Drill Baby Drill, Drill
I really need to visit Minnesotans for Global Warming more often. This is from 2011 but still as relevant as ever.
Ouch. That stings a bit...
Still love you, Broncos!
Immigration, English, and Coca Cola
We've heard many opinions on the multi-lingual Coca Cola Superbowl ad "America the Beautiful" including here, here and here. I'd like to share one more viewpoint. This from a son of Chinese immigrants who also happens to be a Republican candidate for congress in the Colorado district that encompasses Boulder (CO-2).
If you like it, or him, be sure to "Like" his Facebook Page. I did.
February 5, 2014
The Lads at Trifecta Split as Well
Topic One: the Coke ad. Three different interpretations.
Quote of the Day
If you have not read Dylan Farrow's NYTimes accusations against Woody Allen, I envy you; it is deeply disturbing. But I suggest it is necessary to know the extent of depravity that can be forgiven in a wave of a hand by the glitterati of this nation. Jim Geraghty points out that this un-American acceptance of caste is limited to entertainment.
The problem with this set of cultural rules and expectations is that's not us. We never chose to set up our society by those rules; the movers and shakers of Hollywood did. (There aren't many other communities and professions that operate by those rules. Maybe professional and high-level college athletics, although you can argue that's just a sub-set of the entertainment industry.) You don't see accountants saying, "You've got to look the other way on that guy's incestuous pedophilia, because he's really good at adding up those numbers." The other sectors of society seem to grasp the inherent danger of establishing an accountability-free class of super-wealthy hedonistic narcissists. -- Jim Geraghty
I counter -- and intend to contact Mr. Geraghty -- with one other: Democratic politics. Mimi Alford, anybody?
Because they so kick ass at package delivery
Language. I got a little upset at some community organizers this morning and called them a bad and extremely coarse name. Now, I said "ass" in a headline. But I think the second transgression may be forgivable.
Senator Elizabeth Warren (Paleface Wampum Woman - MA) suggests that Post Offices could provide payday loans and credit cards to underserved minority communities. ThinkProgress is right on it, and my own biological brother "Like"s it on Facebook.
"USPS could partner with banks to make a critical difference for millions of Americans who don’t have basic banking services because there are almost no banks or bank branches in their neighborhoods," Warren wrote in a Huffington Post op-ed on Saturday. The op-ed picked up on a report from the USPS's Inspector General that proposed using the agency's extensive physical infrastructure to extend basics like debit cards and small-dollar loans to the same communities that the banking industry has generally ignored.
Yes, by all means let us examine areas of private enterprise that could be updated with the peerless efficiency of the Post Office. What could possibly go wrong?
Goin' back to bed. It's below zero. And then this happens.
Don't Blame Me if the NYT Didn't Tell Ya
"Aww, c'mon now, you can't say it's my fault all you brutha's thought I was gonna create jobs. You'da known all along if you'd been watching Fox News."
Makes One Question the Whole Community Organizing Profession
I have good friends drooling with excitement that Trader Joe's is opening stores in Boulder and Denver. I'm happy for commerce but lack the experience to elicit ecstasy. But, you gotta like a company that "goes Galt" before kowtowing to a lot of demands.
I'll stick with admiration for the company, but the story is as sad a one as you're gonna read today. Expanding into Portland, the company deliberately chooses a location in the less affluent Northeast section of town. Here come jobs, fresh food, property values, rich hipsters to patronize other area stores. This is going to be great. Oh, wait...
The company selected two acres along Martin Luther King Blvd. that had been vacant for decades. It seemed like the perfect place to create jobs, improve customer options and beautify the neighborhood. City officials, the business community, and residents all seemed thrilled with the plan. Then some community organizers caught wind of it.
Score a big win for the PAALF! Yaay team.
Hat-tip: Insty, who points out "Trader Joe's isn't cool anymore because it is successful."
February 4, 2014
And Another Cute Animal Video...
Government, government -- they can't even make a cute animal ad.
Prepare for 120 seconds of absolute torture:
The commenters love it, though! (I don't think the Administration would stack the deck in any way would they? There are all real people just giving their opinion, right?)
And that's a GOOD Thing?
CNBC's John Harwood explains that the latest report from the CBO has "ammunition for both critics and supporters of ObamaCare."
For ObamaCare supporters, CBO says the decline in workers will stem almost entirely from decisions by Americans to work less, not because employers choose to hire less. Those decisions, CBO says, will result from the fact that ObamaCare subsidies phase out as the workers make more money, giving them less incentive to keep working.
Sure wouldn't want dedication and hard work to pay off or anything like that. Take that, bitches!
Oh, by the way. There's also "no compelling evidence that ObamaCare has increased part-time work." They must be so proud. No new jobs, full-time or part-time.
Look ma, we're Europe!
February 3, 2014
CATO's Walter Olsen on Football.
I was among the many who misted up at the gentle, lyrical "America Is Beautiful" Coca-Cola commercial last night, but it turns out to be controversial in some circles. Former U.S. Representative Allen West called it "truly disturbing" and thinks it indicates the nation is on the "road to perdition" because it shows various participants singing portions of the song in languages other than English. He goes on to quote Theodore Roosevelt -- a President closely associated with the Progressive movement, and no hero to me -- that "we have room for but one language here" in America.
I certainly retract my "suck eggs" comment. I don't presume to judge anyone harshly around here. But it is interesting as a Rorschach test, is it not?
Love is in the air!
This Dodge Ram guy's favorite Super Bowl commercial? Chevy trucks.
I called it the PETA favorite.
One More Commercial...
Who knew the opening safety was going to be the highlight for Broncos' Fans? Ah, well, I still bleed orange & blue. I just did not know there would be so much of it to clean up...
One controversy remains. There was a slight tweet-storm over the poly-lingual Coke commercial. I liked the commercial a lot and was surprised and disappointed at negative response
February 2, 2014
Next to the second coming of Christ and the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series, the end of capitalism may be the most predicted and expected event of humankind.If the Prospertarians have their own economist, I nominate Brian Wesbury. He's a smart guy, frequent Kudlow guest, and author of many insightful editorials.
In a recent Kudlow appearance, they mentioned he was the author of It's Not as Bad as You Think. Why Capitalism will Trump Fear and the Economy Will Thrive. I dutifully ordered it on Kindle; it sounded right up my street.
While I enjoyed it right out if the shoot, it soon became obvious that he had written it a few years ago. I thought perhaps it had taken some time to be released, but now I see Amazon lists a publication date of November 3, 2009. Caveat Emptor.
All the same, it was well worth a read. Wesbury predicts economic growth and a triumph of Capitalism in 2K9 and I daresay if you had followed his lead and loaded up on equities, life would be pretty good today. His predictions have, en masse, come true. More importantly, his optimism and his point about the durability of Capitalism hold. I did not look up the date until I had finished. There were some tells. The Healthcare law was a discussion and uncertainty and not a fact.
Yet it is still an uncertainty, non? And, while the "permabears" have a warm spot on CNBC every time the DJIA goes down, Wesbury's point -- a Prospertarian point is that trade will find a way through most nonsense we can use to impede it.
In a July 9, 2009, column, Nouriel Roubini wrote, ". . . the outlook for the U.S. and global economy remains extremely weak ahead. The recent rally in global equities, commodities and credit may soon fizzle out. . . ." For reference, Roubini had predicted a recession would follow Hurricane Katrina, too. He has been bearish for a very long time.
This is half bug and half feature. It is not completely millenarian to wish that the signals from bad policy were more obvious.
Nonetheless, capitalism has brought so much good over such a long period of time that people have begun to take it for granted. They have forgotten that capitalism is the end and the means. The fruits of capitalism are so overwhelmingly delicious that we forget that the best part of the system is that it provides personal dignity. It allows men and women to find their most productive place in the world, while it lifts living standards to new heights. Nonetheless, many "conservative" columnists have joined with many politicians to make an argument that this crisis is so severe that the government must intervene. Even if we don't like what government is doing, it must be done.
Which brings me to a third reason to enjoy a topical current events book from when Kyle Orton and Chris Simms were fighting for the Broncos' starting QB position. I've read a bucketful of "post-mortem" books on the Panic of '08, with many different policy prescriptions. Wesbury's adds insight with some immediacy because he is not looking that far back. Wesbury lays the blame at Mark-to-Mark accounting and considers all the government badinage that followed as, not only unnecessary, but also as failed attempts to compensate for the bad accounting rules.
Private capital did not trust banks that owned significant amounts of toxic assets, not because actual losses from those securities would lead to bankruptcy, but because accounting rules threatened to destroy capital, and possibly the banks themselves, as long as the markets were illiquid. Private capital went on strike. And when that happened, the money dried up. No one will ever know what would have happened if the government had changed mark-to-market accounting earlier, but it is not out of the realm of possibility that Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, Washington Mutual, and Wachovia may not have failed.
We discussed that on these pages in 2008. And Wesbury says "I will go to my grave believing that if the government had just done the right thing--suspend mark-to-market accounting and avoid interfering in the system--the United States could have avoided a recession in 2008. But because the government did not do this, and decided that it must interfere in the financial system, the recession became inevitable."
After many false starts, the FASB was finally forced to alter fair value accounting rules in 2009. The congressional hearing that changed everything took place on March 12, 2009, but was announced about a week before. This, as it turns out, coincides perfectly with the bottom of the stock market decline. On March 9, 2009 with the Dow at 6,547 and the S&P 500 trading at 667, the rally started.
Another Wesbury nugget is not to fight the Fed and I'm certain he would credit hyperliquidity with a piece of the move from 6,547 to 17,000. But you could have bought your Dow ETF based on 10,000 the day Wesbury's book was released. Had you followed Noriel Roubini's advice?
The book contains timeless truths about capitalism and supply-side economics, plus some valuable insights to the Panic of '08. All and all, a good Prosperitarian Primer. Five stars (and those are five 2009 stars, before the ravages of review corner inflation...)