June 30, 2014
Socialism And Soccer
Hey, I was shocked too - but this is in the New York Times!
When billionaires acquire clubs like Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester City or Chelsea, their fortunes change. When a very rich country like Qatar wants to host the World Cup, it gets its way even if entirely unsuited to the undertaking.
Ann Coulter, call your office!
UPDATE: I'll promote our commenter's link: looks like the complete book on PDF here.
Lacking Access to Guitar Strings
My boss told me I could "buy my own damn guitar strings." Really, people, how long are we going to let them keep us down like this?
Hat-tip: Daily Caller
June 29, 2014
The new Eco-Incandescent light bulbs are here!
Just when you thought you'd never again see a good-old light bulb because that mean nasty government made them illegal, geniuses at GE and Philips have found a way to make them all over again. [Thomas Edison - call your office.] They're called "eco-incandescent."
This is news, because they just hit the market, but it isn't a surprise as I explained it in a January 2011 blog post comment after carefully reading the 2007 federal law that "banned the light bulb." Bulbs could only be sold if they were more efficient than standard bulbs by, if I remember correctly, at least 20 percent. The new eco-incandescents are (magically) 28% more efficient.
They are also (less magically) several hundred percent more expensive. Thanks mean, nasty government!
Back in 2011 I accused lamp makers of manipulating the market via regulation, so that "Competitors can no longer undercut each other's cheapest products and saturate the market with them." But Hank Rearden, or is it the Chinese, is not deterred. "Eco-Smart" brand bulbs undercut more expensive models by GE and Philips. Depending on wattage, they are one to two bucks each.
What a country!
Bill and Hillary Clinton - White, Southern, RACISTS!
Anyone who criticizes President Obama, we are told by those who refuse to criticize President Obama, does so because he is black. By disagreeing with "a smidgeon" of the first black president's agenda, performance or statements one exposes oneself, supposedly, as a "racist." Today I read that, according to the new Ed Klein book 'Blood Feud' that category of despicable human being, as early as last May, included the Clintons.
Clinton ranted, "The thing with Obama is that he cant be bothered, and there is no hand on the tiller half the time. That's the story of the Obama presidency. No hand on the fking tiller," according to the book, which was excerpted exclusively in Sunday's Post.
Bill was also quoted:
"I hate that man Obama more than any man I've ever met, more than any man who ever lived," Bill told pals, according to the book.
Whoa, not just a racist but a hater. But like, you know, it's not rally true, it's just like some stuff that some guy wrote to sell his stupid book.
A generation of students has gone to school on the banal truth that all literature is "constructed," and learned to scoff at the notion that words on the page might express something essentially authentic about the writer. The usefulness of this insight runs up against its limits when you pick up Orwell's essays. Open these books anywhere and you encounter the same voice. Orwell always sounds like Orwell: readier to fight than most writers, toughened but also deepened by hard, largely self -inflicted experience, able to zero in on what's essential about a poem or a politician or a memory, unsurprised without being cynical, principled without being priggish, direct and yet slightly reserved.Yup. That is Keith Gessen introducing a superb collection of Orwell essays in All Art Is Propaganda. The essays are literary criticism from the 1940s and, while each is striking in depth and style, the collection shows Orwell developing his philosophy and his voice.
The book is the essays. Gessen gives the world a gift in their collection, and provides a well crafted introduction. He snuck in one biographical detail I did not know:
It's interesting that Orwell didnt go to college. He went to Eton, the most prestigious of the English boarding schools, but he loafed around there and, afterward, went off to Burma as a police officer. College is where you sometimes get loaded up with fancy terms whose meaning youre not quite sure of. Orwell was an intellectual and a highbrow who thought Joyce, Eliot, and Lawrence were the greatest writers of his age, but he never uses fancy terms.
He does not use "fancy terms," but he has an intellect that is deep and broad. He sounds just as professorial to me as Eliot. When he discusses Dickens, Tolstoy, and Shakespeare he wraps his understandings around a deep familiarity. He has directed me to back to each (although, for the moment I find myself on Tolstoy's side that "King Lear" is wanting). For a dropout, ex-Burmese policeman, and Spanish Civil War vet, let's say he was pretty well read.
The first essay is on Charles Dickens. ThreeSourcers, if you do not want to commit to reading the entire thing, please accept my assurance that ponying up the $9.99 on Kindle and reading just the Dickens essay is worthwhile.
Dickens is one of those writers who are well worth stealing. Even the burial of his body in Westminster Abbey was a species of theft, if you come to think of it.
If we've a modern Orwell, I suggest it might be Penn Jillette. Both are driven by foundational honesty which supersedes their beliefs in a way I cannot muster. I can explain away President Bush's push for Faith Based Initiatives or Speaker Hastert's hardball tactics passing Medicare Part D. Orwell takes sides but questions them better than most. Perhaps Hemmingway in "For Whom the Bell Tolls" also questions the purity of the cause -- but Hemmingway comes off cynical and Orwell comes off completely honest.
Technically, by the standards of the time when it was made, Chapaiev is a first-rate film, but mentally, in spite of the unfamiliar Russian background, it is not so very remote from Hollywood.
As literary critic, Orwell could be devastating; my extensive excerpts from the Dickens essay make him sound like a fanboy compared to the entire piece. But, what many lack -- even my hero, Eliot, sometimes -- is a joyful appreciation.
Unfortunately I cannot quote; unprintable words occur almost everywhere. But get hold of [Henry Miller's] Tropic of Cancer, get hold of Black Spring and read especially the first hundred pages. They give you an idea of what can still be done, even at this late date, with English prose. In them, English is treated as a spoken language, but spoken without fear, i.e., without fear of rhetoric or of the unusual or poetical word. The adjective has come back, after its ten years' exile. It is a flowing, swelling prose, a prose with rhythms in it, something quite different from the flat cautious statements and snackbar dialects that are now in fashion.
The man who says "all art Is propaganda" does not shy away from political observations. Over the writings, one sees his transformation from socialist to social democrat (half a step, right?)
But there is something rather curious in being Whitman in the nineteen-thirties. It is not certain that if Whitman himself were alive at this moment he would write anything in the least degree resembling Leaves of Grass. For what he is saying , after all , is "I accept," and there is a radical difference between acceptance now and acceptance then. Whitman was writing in a time of unexampled prosperity, but more than that , he was writing in a country where freedom was something more than a word. The democracy, equality and comradeship that he is always talking about are not remote ideals, but something that existed in front of his eyes. In mid-nineteenth-century America men felt themselves free and equal, were free and equal, so far as that is possible outside a society of pure communism.
I have acres more highlighted quotes, but as the late, great trombonist Alan Frederickson used to yell from the bandstand "You're not here to enjoy yourself! You're here to get well!"
This completes three review corners about great intellects of the 20th Century. Chesterton, Popper, and Orwell each exist to have their powerful ideas coopted, just as Orwell complained about Dickens's. Orwell saw truth, Popper saw reason, Chesterton saw beauty. Each is a part of me.
But none were of my philosophy. Reading Hayek, or Mises, or Bastiat, or even Ayn Rand, I think that person was one "of us." I must come to terms with Chesterton/Popper/Orwell. Orwell was a socialist, Chesterton a Catholic who would clearly side with Pope Francis before Michael Novak, and the Popper page shared this two days after my review.
The sight of hopeless men, women, and children on the city streets, suffering hunger and cold, touched him deeply and left indelible impressions on his memory. Eliminating poverty would be the major goal of his future proposed reforms, and he would see disappearance of poverty from much of the Western Hemisphere as one of humanity's greatest achievements. The libertarian's lesser concern for poverty, and their willingness to trust the market to relieve it, he would regard as mistaken, if not callous. -- Malachi Haim Hacohen, "Karl Popper The Formative Years 1902-1945"
All these men wrote under the shadow of Nazism, Depression, and the Spanish Civil War. Freedom was in retreat. I posit that they could not envision liberty's triumph, forcing each to seek compromises to preserve liberty's ember. But that is of course unbridled arrogance on the order of "If alive today, surely Jesus would be a Bronco Fan." Ludwig von Mises saw all the horror up close and personal yet still predicted liberty's triumph. We're told Willie Nelson's heroes have always been cowboys, perhaps all mine are Democratic Socialists.
Reviewing the reviewer, this is as good as it gets. Buy this book and open it to a random page. Five Stars.
When you return to these essays, the mystery evaporates. You would probably not be able to write this way now, even if you learned the craft: The voice would seem put -on, after Orwell; it would seem deliberately "hard-boiled." But there is nothing put-on about it here, and it seems to speak, despite the specificity of the issues discussed, directly to the present. In Orwells clear, strong voice we hear a warning. Because we, too, live in a time when truth is disappearing from the world, and doing so in just the way Orwell worried it would: through language.
June 28, 2014
And So it Begins, Beauprez and Hickenlooper on... Gay Marriage!
At this benefit gala for musicians Denver's Fox31 had its first opportunity to talk with both gubernatorial candidates at the same time and place since Beauprez won the GOP primary, less than a week ago. So what pressing statewide issue did they find most important for the voters to know about without delay? Why, gay marriage of course.
Stay tuned next week when they'll find out where the candidates stand on abortion, birth control, premarital sex, and teens dating without chaperones.
Entered a Facebook fight today. A workmate "likes" this:
There are those on the right afflicted as well, but I posit that the quotidian consumption of "The Daily Show" and "Colbert Report" feed the left. Laugh lines work better with politicians than principles.
June 27, 2014
The Columbia Record Club of Health Services
It was sooooo good this year, they're gonna sign you up again. Nope, none of that pesky shopping and comparison required! They've got you! CNBC:
That autopilot the government is putting your Obamacare enrollment on? You need to take back the controls.
Dear Mister President
Forgot when I signed up for White House SPAM. It is sometimes interesting:
Quote of the Day II
So let me ask: Which of the following statements comes closest to your view?The idiots at The New Republic are too stupid to read and understand the results of the Pew study.-- Ann Althouse
Gene Healy, Call Your Office
There is no denying that Executive Power has crept up through the years to the point that I would call it a Constitutional Crisis. But Kim Strassel brings forth fond remembrances of past Congresses who protected their purviews -- even from an Executive of their own party.
But should that president step on Congress's size 12 toes, all partisan bets were off.
Brother jg asked when our generation's Mark Felt would show up. I'd sooner see our Sen. Howard Baker.
UPDATE: Or Johnny Walters.
Quote of the Day
Our Margaret reviews Sec. Clinton's book tour:
Now she's Mom--mature, settled, with a throaty laugh and a thickening middle. Or grandma. After six years of presidential leadership from a lithe, supple, snotty older brother, Mom will seem an improvement. -- Peggy Noonan
I'm quite pleased that there is intellectual and philosophical competition in the GOP. I of course choose to leverage that in the primaries and then hope for a certain amount of nose-holding-loyalty in the general. We were discussing below whether CO Gubernatorial nominee, Rep. Bob Beauprez, was irredeemably establishment -- jg and I say no.
But that's not important now. For those who do not attend Liberty on the Rocks -- Flatirons, you are missing great speakers, very good food, spotty but friendly service . . . and questions from my friend, Dave Walden. His questions generally feature an opinion or two, a story, and a perceptive inquiry.
A mutual friend pointed out this video and Dave graciously allowed my to post. I have been trying to recruit him to blog here, but here is a taste of his genial wit and charm -- with a message at the end.
June 26, 2014
Please do not be disappointed by the Metric Football results today. My understanding of the rules is that the umpires can call for extra time and wake the players in the middle of the night to continue.
We could still pull out a tie! U-S-A! U-S-A!
Quote of the Day
All Hail Stossel:
[Reporters] are much less fond of complex stories in which problems are solved subtly by the dynamism of the free market. The invisible hand, after all, is invisible. It works its magic in a million places and makes adjustments every minute. That's hard for reporters to see--especially when they're not looking for it.
Phys.org -- Physicist James Franson of the University of Maryland has captured the attention of the physics community by posting an article to the peer-reviewed New Journal of Physics in which he claims to have found evidence that suggests the speed of light as described by the theory of general relativity, is actually slower than has been thought.
Clearly, it was the Weather
First quarter revised GDP growth is -.2.9%. Edward Prescott and Lee Ohanian on the WSJ Ed Page point out that productivity fell at 3.5%. Not good.
Lagging productivity growth is an enormous problem because virtually all of the increase in Americans' standard of living is made possible by rising worker productivity. In our view, an important factor contributing to declining productivity growth is the large decline in the creation of new businesses. The creation rate of new businesses, as well as new plants built by existing firms, was about 30% lower in 2011 (the most recent year of data) compared with the annual average rate for the 1980s. (The data is the Census Bureau's Business Dynamic Statistics.) The decline affected nearly all business sectors.
I've been hearing much about "The Polar Vortex" to explain this away. You have to give points for trying, don't you? Not only is it not ObamaCare's fault -- but we can blame it on Global Warming!
Prescott and Ohanian see more systemic problems and urge tax and immigration reform plus fixes to Dodd-Frank. I can hardly argue against that, but find it interesting that they do not mention the PPACAo2010 as impeding startups and new business formation. My opposition to the PolarVortexers' explanation is that we have winter in some form every year and Obamacare is a brand new exogenous factor. Taxes and immigration policy certainly suck rags (pardon the econ jargon) and certainly contribute to tepid growth, but this sudden contraction correlates pretty closely to the more egregious aspects' of the ACA kicking in.
UPDATE: This is a guest editorial -- The Ed Page is ready to finger ObamaCare®
January saw the formal launch of the Affordable Care Act, and its attempt to transform U.S. health insurance and medical practice. So it's notable that a major cause of the sharp downward revision in first-quarter GDP was a decline in consumer spending on health care. Lower exports and investment also played a role, but the overall decline in health spending from the previous quarter was a startling 6.4%.
UPDATE II: Obama Voter, Megan McArdle says "Big Losers in GDP Report: Democrats"
The most worrisome potential explanation is that health expenditures fell because, well, health expenditures fall when the economy is contracting. I'm not exactly ready to call recession yet -- consumption was still basically healthy, and the weather was awfully bad. But I'll be crossing my fingers until the next report comes out.
June 25, 2014
An algrorithm to choose lesser crazies...
I'll happily segue off confusion over my previous post's title.
Ari Armstrong posits a solution to the underlying game theory in a four-way primary: approval voting.
He suggests you vote for all candidates you "approve of." Most votes wins.
In other words, fewer than a third of Colorado Republican primary voters, or a little over 111,000 people (in a state with a population of around 5.3 million people), cast a vote for Beauprez--hardly a popular uprising.
Gessler may well have been everybody's second. I note that I would split differently than Armstrong. I'd've voted for Gessler, whom I wanted, and Beauprez to block Rep. Tancredo.
Can we go with the least crazy guys?
I had been thinking about "The Kurds." As the US tries to choose between the Sunni and Shia to find the lesser-crazy partner in Iraq -- I thought, is there not another? Did not the Kurds establish pluralistic zones of modernity in the North and pump oil even during wartime?
Brother Keith brought it up on Facebook. He has some personal experience and travel as I understand and thinks very highly of them. I just thought in the loony-bin that is Iraq, they were most capable of answering the phones when the Doctor was in conference. (Sorry to be ThreeSources's own Rudyard Kipling, but few in the region have behaved with distinction.)
William Galston calls for Kurdish Independence on the WSJ Ed Page today.
The lines British and French diplomats drew on a map in 1916 never corresponded with ethnic and sectarian realities on the ground, and now the lines of the Sykes-Picot agreement are unsustainable. "Iraq" and "Syria" are names, not nations.
I'm all in.
June 24, 2014
There's an Unholy Trinity!
Pope Francis, Senator Elizabeth Warren, and Senator Bernie Sanders walk into a bar...
Vindication of the day
Nixon said in a May 1974 interview with a supporter that if he had followed the liberal policies that he thought the media preferred, "Watergate would have been a blip."
From the Watergate Scandal Wikipedia page.
Your ThreeSources Word of the Day
"Exfoliation" of evidence.
UPDATE: Rep. Trey Gowdy tells a joke.
Yeah, What Penn Says
One for our friends in the Storage Industry
Mild-mannered Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, pressed the IRS commissioner with pointed questions about why the agency didn't rescue Lerner's emails by using its existing backup system.
Quote of the Day
Even better, Justice Scalia's [majority opinion in Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA] explicitly defends the structure of the Constitution. Blessing the EPA's tailoring rule would be "a severe blow to the Constitution's separation of powers" where Congress enacts laws and the President enforces them, he writes. This remedial civics lesson ought to be unnecessary but with the Obama crowd it's essential. "We are not willing to stand on the dock and wave goodbye as EPA embarks on this multiyear voyage of discovery" that ignores the will of Congress, Justice Scalia writes. -- WSJ Ed Page
June 23, 2014
Quote of the Day
The thing about dogs eating homework is, it could actually happen. This can't. -- Kyle Smith, NYPostPart of a great column: imagine if Goldman Sachs had tried this defense... Hat-tip: Insty.
Review Review Corner
A friend (and a friend of this blog) posted a link to this on Facebook a few weeks back. I read it and missed the byline. It was written by David Harsanyi, and last night I read it again because he tweeted "most important thing i've ever written"
ThreeSourcers know my appreciation for Harsanyi; and, damn if about every word in his most important piece isn't accurate; but I will confess that I enjoyed "Frozen" more than "Tangled."
Sunday's Review Corner will tackle Orwell's literary criticism and I don't think I need a spoiler alert that George will pick up some stars. Orwell and TS Eliot's deep and intellectual criticism remain a joy on their own and a key to deeper appreciation of the art they reference. But I am a blues guy still. And there is an element of art that some may call spiritual and some will call left-brain, but it is one step beyond our ken.
I have no children, but I am a fan of Disney's animated films. When I saw Tangled, I said "yeah, that's pretty good" and went on with my life. Frozen was more immersive, and it might be the social media buzz around "Let it Go." I've now heard it sung by firefighters and Marines -- the best is Jimmy Fallon, Idina Menzel & The Roots. When I finally saw Frozen, I had heard the song and had a hook.
I'll confess to Harsanyi that at the end of Frozen, I thought "what was that all about?" Then I saw that it was adapted from Grimm's "The Snow Queen." Okay, then -- for Grimm that is straight up. It is an usual story to say the least. But repressed internal powers and fear of hurting those we love are extant human emotions.
Fair cop about the depth of the male character as well. Yet if may channel Dr. Helen Smith for a second, the Disney princess procession is leaving increasing little room for male characters at all. I imagine the next will be set in a seraglio with no males whatsoever.
At the end of the day, Harsanyi is right. But I've seen Frozen four or five times (I suspect that's what's known as "morning" in houses with youngsters) and enjoyed it every time. I watched Tangled once, and then again after reading Harsanyi's article. I may watch it again now that I know it was Harsanyi -- talk about appeal to authority. It is good but it is not nearly as captivating.
There's a chord change in the Neville Brothers' "Tell it Like it Is" that makes me cry. It is more than resolution, it is transcendent. The Frozen plotline does not hold up to intense scrutiny and several characters are weak. But many of its sequences are captivating: Olaf dreaming of summer, Elsa's Ice palace, returning to the trolls.
All Hail Harsanyi -- but I'm still going with Frozen.
UPDATE: I muffed the Twitter conversation by "quoting" but the thread is rather enjoyable, even if my side is not well represented.
June 22, 2014
A Flanking Attack in the "War on Women"
ThreeSourcers understand that any "warfare" in the so-called "War on Women" (TM) is actually waged between Democrat and Republican politicians, with lost progress on women's issues as collateral damage. It is a valuable electoral tool for Democrats, and arguably the only one left for embattled Colorado Senator Mark Udall. As his likely opponent, Republican Cory Gardner, wrote in an op-ed last week:
In Colorado's Senate race, Sen. Mark Udall began his campaign for re-election with nasty, deceptive ads attacking my record on this subject rather than say anything about his own accomplishments over his long career in politics. Between Sen. Udall's campaign and Sen. Harry Reid's. super-PAC, the Washington establishment has already spent $1.5 million on attack ads trying to use contraception as a wedge to divide our state. They argue that I, and others, would ban contraception when they know that charge is completely untrue.
But Gardner has a far better strategy than mere defensive denials. He has counter-attacked and pledges to work toward OTC status for "the pill."
When treatments go over-the-counter, two things happen: they get dramatically cheaper and consumers save time and hassle by avoiding unnecessary doctors' appointments just to get the pharmaceuticals they already know they need.
Who now calls him misogynist?
What Popper aims to do, and at his best does do, is to seek out and attack an opponent's case at its strongest. Indeed, before attacking it he tries to strengthen it still further. He sees if any of its weaknesses can be removed and any of its formulations improved on, gives it the benefit of every doubt, passes over any obvious loopholes; and then, having got it into the best-argued form he can, attacks it at its most powerful and appealing. This method, the most intellectually serious possible, is thrillingI mentioned Popper once in front of an Oxford-edumacated economics friend of mine. He said that Dr. P was spoken of in hushed tones because "his was the only intellect that John Maynard Keynes feared in debate."
To place my intellect on this particular scale, well I subscribe to the Karl Popper Facebook Page and recommend it highly. Popper is eminently readable, but his prose is the antithesis of Twitter. Single paragraphs span multiple pages. Not turgid, but could you give us mortals a chance to come up for air now and then? For this reason, I'll admit that I enjoy reading about Popper more than I enjoy reading Popper.
I had seen him and read some quotes, but I "discovered" Popper as Popperian epistemology was one of the four threads in David Deutsch's Fabric of Reality. Deutsch explains Popper better than Popper and explains Richard Dawkins way better than Richard Dawkins. But Deutsch takes only a slice of the man's work and there is quite a bit more to be had.
The Popper FB Page recommended Philosophy and the Real World: An Introduction to Karl Popper by Bryan Magee as the definitive introduction. First released in 1973 and last updated in 1985, the short book is not available on Kindle. And, why do I need an Introduction? I've read both volumes of Open Society and its Enemies. And the footnotes. And the footnotes of the footnotes.
The friend who turned me onto Deutsch and I have traded Popper books. They are not easy to find and he had a leg up living in the UK for a few years. We have a running disagreement that he likes "the science stuff" and I like "the philosophy stuff." The best thing about Philosophy and the Real World is that it unifies these concepts better than the Dude's rug. It was not just science that was advanced by reason and intellectual criticism. To Popper it was thought. And, being a good Aristotelian, science and philosophy were not distinct. Popper codifies the scientific method -- then applies it to Philosophy.
Related to this is another, much slighter obstacle between Popper and possible readers. He believes that philosophy is a necessary activity because we, all of us, take a great number of things for granted, and many of these assumptions are of a philosophical character; we act on them in private life, in politics, in our work, and in every other sphere of our lives--but while some of these assumptions are no doubt true, it is likely that more are false and some are harmful. So the critical examination of our presuppositions--which is a philosophical activity--is morally as well as intellectually important. This view is of philosophy as something lived and important for all of us, not an academic activity or a specialism, and certainly not as consisting primarily in the study of the writings of professional philosophers. Nevertheless it does mean that most of Popper's work consists of the critical examination of theories, and in consequence there is a great deal of discussion of 'isms', and a great many allusions to thinkers of the past, especially in the first works he wrote in English when he was still under the influence of the German academic tradition.
Popper codifies the scientific method, then builds a philosophy on it . . . all in a days work. But then he applies intellectual rigor to Marx, Engels, and the political descendants of Kant and Hegel and puts a political philosophy on top.
Popper's paradoxes, which he calls 'the paradox of sovereignty'. If, say, power is put in the hands of the wisest man, he may from the depths of his wisdom adjudge: 'Not I but the morally good should be the ruler'. If the morally good has power he may say, being saintly: 'It is wrong for me to impose my will on others. Not I but the majority should rule'. The majority, having power, may say: 'We want a strong man to impose order and tell us what to do'. A second objection is that the question: 'Where should sovereignty lie?' rests on the assumption that ultimate power must be somewhere, which is not the case. In most societies there are different and to some extent conflicting power centres, not one of which can get everything its own way. In some societies power is quite widely diffused. The question 'Yes, but where does it ultimately lie?' eliminates before it is raised the possibility of control over rulers, when this is the most important of all things to establish. The vital question is not 'Who should rule?' but 'How can we minimize misrule--both the likelihood of its occurring and, when it does occur, its consequences?'
After presenting two well reasoned volumes on the individual empowerment, freedom from totalitarianism and the most vicious debunking of Marxism you will ever encounter, Popper suggests -- in a less wealthy period than today -- that it is unconscionable to allow poverty in a wealthy society. He joins Chesterton (last week) and Orwell (next week) in championing the kind of Social Democrat, mixed economy that ThreeSourcers exist to oppose.
It remains a frustrating obstacle to my desire to coopt all there of these preternatural intelligences to service of my beliefs. But we have a hundred years of history on them and America's ascension to superpowerdom on classic liberal concepts. I'd think all of them could be moved at least into the Reagan camp of freedom with a safety net for the truly needy.
Philosophy in the Real World is a great introduction to Popper, whether an introduction is required or not. Five Stars.
June 21, 2014
I don't think that word means what you think it means
Let's talk about politics and race.
The Junk Science Hall of Shame
Picking "the worst Junk Science agitprop" is impossible. No matter how bad one seems, you can always come up with another that is worse: a proof-by-induction of infinite suckage.
But, dearest ThreeSourcers, I have a special place in my heart for BPA bottles. Jane Goodall lived with lower primates: I worked with guys who had PhDs who would not drink water out of a BPA bottle (I think that is one point for Jane).
Insty links to a story in that noted scientific organ, The Stir, which is quite sympathetic to the concerned.
For several years now, moms have been making the choice they thought was best for their little ones: Steering clear of bisphenol-A (BPA), the toxic substance in plastic that may mess with the endocrine system, disrupting hormones, and causing a variety of short- and long-term health concerns for our children including asthma, cancer, infertility, low sperm count, heart disease, liver problems, and ADHD. But apparently, even if you've been incredibly conscious and checked every sippy cup and water bottle to ensure it's marked "BPA-free," it may not be enough!
May not be enough (really? An exclamation mark? A period would have been fine!) Enough of what, exactly? Bisphenol-A, like most things hated by The Stir readers, has saved hundreds of thousands of lives. Moms today may worry about sippy cups, but my Mom worried about botulism. BPA "may mess with"
While BPA liners are a huge advance, Modernity Guy should contemplate that leached BPA is a call for another innovation. Yet, what the poor Stir Moms are discovering [Shocking Spoiler Alert] is that there is some danger in everything. It seems the Non-BPA bottles leach other and likely worse stuff into baby's organic, alar-free applesauce.
Not to mention incredibly frustrating, considering that we think we're doing everything we can to protect our children by doing the research before going shopping for sippy cups, only registering for the BPA-free baby bottles, keeping certain plastics our kids use out of the dishwasher or microwave, etc. But news like this it makes it seem like even our best efforts are all for naught. It makes it seem like even our best efforts aren't enough to protect our kids, and that's nothing short of extremely aggravating.
Rub a little dirt in it, Mom; he'll be fine.
I am reminded of a favorite Emily Dickenson couplet
The surgeon must be very careful when to use the knife.
UPDATE: A friend (no, not a PhD) sends a link to Mother Jones which contradicts my claim of "no proof ever." I should update it to "scant proof."
June 20, 2014
They Won't Last Long at these prices!
I think we may all be in the wrong business:
So, do you think I am okay with the new one for $563.10, or should I pony up for the vintage used at $883.95? I just bought a very cool vintage tenor guitar for $400 -- had no idea it'd be twice that to buy a book!
Rather than grandstanding about terrorist atrocities in Iraq or even a flood of undocumented alien children across our southern border, every single Republican congressman or senator should be jointly focused like a period-full-stop laser beam on the most deadly serious threat to US civil society today: The likely use of federal government power to influence the outcome of an election, and the obvious cover up that attempts to obstruct investigation of the original crime. Harry Reid's hometown newspaper says it well:
This is not a partisan witchhunt. It is an inquiry to determine whether a federal agency conspired with elected members of a political party to influence the outcome of an election. And it already screams of a cover-up.
The full editorial is loaded with winks and eye rolling over the "accidents" which befell the evidence requested by congress. On any objective scale, Watergate was a misdemeanor compared to Obamagate. The only thing about the more recent of these two is the news media's curiosity.
This time Obama is right
I've been in unfamiliar territory this week as I find myself approving of President Obama's decision to NOT start shooting and bombing "ISIS terrorists" in Iraq. The novelty here is the agreement with the president, and disagreement with most hosts and callers on talk radio. One notable exception is Jason Lewis, who says we have no business risking blood or treasure in the latest Iraq violence.
"Because Iran will if we don't" is no reason to insert ourselves in Iraq's civil war. Nor is "because Russia will if we don't" a reason to use force in Syria or Turkey. (We can have a conversation about Ukraine.)
Perhaps I'm following a recent trend of taking contrarian views without sufficient reflection and if so, I welcome those who may correct me. But first I want to warn you that my side includes Wednesday's "From the Right" editorialist on IBD's Ed page, Doug Bandow.
It is time for Washington to stop trying to micromanage other nations' affairs and to practice humility. This wouldn't be isolationism. America, and especially Americans, should be engaged in the world. But our government's expectations should be realistic, its ambitions bounded. American officials should abandon their persistent fantasy of reordering the world.
Yes, that was from the right, a place not occupied by Neocons like McCain, Graham and Cheney.
A Question for Anarchists
I gave a glowing review to Randy Barnett's "The Structure of Liberty: Justice and the Rule of Law" last month. It got five stars and the Editor's Choice Award. My admiration for Barnett is without bound and I think this is a very important book.
My blog brother
It is difficult to imagine a better start than the US Constitution. The depth of thought shown in The Federalist Papers and the ratification process is shocking to the modern eye and ear. We cannot have a Colorado Senator's race without gross distortions and exaggeration of picayune issues. The balance, the seriousness, and the intellectual depth of the founders -- and the public -- continues to stagger.
Yet it is parchment and has been evaded for hundreds of years by those with or seeking interest and power. And its protections are ineffective.
Barnett solves this with "a polycentric legal order in which consumer choice and competition would provide a better check on the abuse of the powers of law enforcement." Under this, more property is private and subject to the owner's jurisdiction. You can wear your gym shorts at Walmart* but not a Saks. Without the vast public areas we have today, law enforcement and justice remains more in private hands. Again, I weaken his arguments by paraphrasing, but I was for the first time truly compelled to accept a more anarchist view.
But I believe I have found the flaw. What if there were a place like Barnett suggests where this theory could be tested? No, not Somalia -- you guys shut up in the back!!!
Worse than Somalia -- America's University Campuses. On Campus, you are subject to the Constitution and Local laws, but to an extent you have traded them away. Your legal order is polycentric as you manage outside laws with inside laws. On the first read through The Structure of Liberty, it is easy to image an America of Disneylands where you are comfortable in a private purview whose owners interest is tied closely to your safety. But you aren't guaranteed Bill-of-Rights rights in Disneyland -- and that has been my hang-up in accepting private law enforcement and justice.
The new University guidelines for sexual assault cement my case. If the Utopian vision is an America of Disneylands, I posit the dystopia is a nation under the aegis of "The Dean of Diversity and Equality."
I accept that the Constitution did not have the protections to save itself, though we've had a great run and still enjoy many protections. Do not take me too pessimistically, but everybody who has read this far understands my concerns. The preponderance of private bodies -- identical to the Universities -- could collectively go to Nanny Defcon 5 in a short time. And we would be looking for our monocentric Constitutional protection.
I think we'll get the gun laws and the panic-of-the-day "protections" currently seen on Campuses. Everywhere.
Here's George Will having his column dropped by the St. Louis Dispatch for the temerity of questioning Campuses' capacity to adjudicate sexual assaults.
Of course, if you don't like a college that has such rules, you can go to
Popper on Climate Change
I've promised a Review Corner on Bryan Magee's Philosophy and the Real World: An Introduction to Karl Popper. By sheer accident, I read, in series, three books about/by three great early/mid 20th Century thinkers: Chesterton, Popper and Orwell. I've light-bending respect for each but feel they have made errors that were particular to their time.
My original objections to Global Warming were based on Popperian epistemology. Reading Magee's superb introduction I am reminded how germane his arguments are against DAWG.
To prevent Review Corner's becoming about Climate Change, I want to do a separate post. Popper codified what we call scientific method. Fascinating that he developed a full blown philosophy on top, but if nothing else he provides a description of how scientific knowledge advances.
As I said earlier, Popper recommends that we formulate our theories in as clearcut a way as possible, so as to expose them most unambiguously to refutation. And at the methodological level we should not, he says, (see page 19) systematically evade refutation by continually reformulating either our theory or our evidence in order to keep the two in accord. This is what many Marxists do, and many psychoanalysts. Thus they are substituting dogmatism for science while claiming to be scientific. A scientific theory is not one which explains everything that can possibly happen: on the contrary, it rules out most of what could possibly happen, and is therefore itself ruled out if what it rules out happens. So a genuinely scientific theory places itself permanently at risk. And here we come to Popper's answer to the question raised at the beginning of this chapter. Falsifiability is the criterion of demarcation between science and non-science.
Popper has a front row seat to the 30 years that shook Physics and the brainpower to understand advances in relativity and quantum theory. What I read from a textbook happened in real-time to Popper. Newtonian mechanics, which described the world for hundreds of years (I'd suggest it had better than a 97% consensus) was superseded by Relativity. At the same time, Marx, Engels and Freud claim the scientific mantle for their theories. As Popper sang, "one of these things is not like the other one:"
On 29th May the observations were made. And they corroborated Einstein's theory. Other theories which claimed to be scientific and were at the height of intellectual fashion in the Vienna of Popper's youth, such as those of Freud and Adler, did not, and could not be made to, put their lives at stake in this way. No conceivable observations could contradict them. They would explain whatever occurred (though differently). And Popper saw that their ability to explain everything, which so convinced and excited their adherents, was precisely what was most wrong with them.
Climate Science explains everything and no theory since Freud's Id, Ego and Superego has ever been less falsifiable. It is cold, Climate Change; it is hot Climate Change; floods, fires, hurricanes, more ice, less ice...
There is no May 29 for Climate. Every year it seems we read another experiment on a phenomenon suggested by Relativity. New clocks and lasers and rockets have provided a century of May 29ths -- and Albert's predictions have always come up on top.
UPDATE: It is frequently May 29 in Cosmology: Big Bang breakthrough team allows they may be wrong
June 19, 2014
All Hail the Evil Koch Brothers!
Hat-tip: The Hill
We're agnostic in the Indian symbol debate, though we've never understood why the critics think fans and athletes want their team names to represent something other than strength, courage or pride. If names were meant to convey dislike--of, say, Vikings, Yankees or the Irish--then Redskins owner Dan Snyder would have converted to the Washington Harry Reids years ago. -- WSJ Ed Page
IRS Scandal: Now, officially, "Worse than Watergate"
We've seen lies. We've seen violations of the Constitution. We've seen every sort of despicable behavior on the part of government officials in President Obama's "most transparent administration in history" up to and including cover ups of despicable behavior. But now, in the IRS scandal, we have evidence of a cover up - in the form of "missing" evidence.
Paul Bedard summarizes, links to a Daniel Henninger WSJ editorial making the "official" judgment, and throws in this hilarious MSNBC segment where the morning hosts joke about the story that "I've never told a lie" Jay Carney parroted out to all of us.
MSNBC Morning Joe [may need to use fullscreen mode to see video.]
I'll excerpt: "I'm an idiot... Even I know that if you have a hard drive and you can't find an email you can get a little nerd to come in and they can find them for you." (...) "Instead of 'We trashed the evidence and tore it up and buried it... no, we were earth friendly." [On the claim that the hard drive was "recycled."]
Daniel Henninger opens his "worse than Watergate" editorial by saying, "With 2 and a half years left in the Obama presidency, it is at least an open question what will be left of it by December 2016. Or us." Indeed.
Quote of the Day II
It's a Two-Quote Kinda day. Jonah has some fun with the President's penchant for straw man arguments:
Scour the Internet until your fingers bleed, and you wont find a single person who has denied that Bowe Bergdahl is someone's child. -- Jonah Goldberg
Hickenlooper Gun Ban Denial Goes Horribly Wrong!
I like the old-fashioned ways of politics better, where they actually got creative in their prevarication. The lies we're told today are so phony, so obviously transparent, it takes all the fun out of exposing them. But I will say we rarely get to see the unvarnished gut reaction when a politician is caught red handed in an outright lie. Full stop period. Like this:
"How many apologies do you want? What the f***!"
Only one for each lie, governor.
HT: Westword Blog post.
Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat...
Barack Obama created Darrell Issa. -- Dan Henninger
ACLU: Right more often than a broken clock!
I recant. Yesterday, I suggested that the decision to pull trademark protection for the Washington Indigenous People's Epidermises Football Club was . . . okay, I might have used the word "genius." I am willing to change that to "too clever by half."
I accept -- and somehow expected -- good pushback from ThreeSourcers on this. All commentariat points were valid. But I had actually softened earlier when I saw this tweet from Kevin Glass at the ACLU. As jg remonstrated: If the Illinois Nazis™ (Man, I hate Illionois Nazis...) deserve protection, so too do the 'skins. And:
At first blush, it might seem obvious that the USPTO should have the ability to deny registration to racist or vulgar trademarks. But, as with all things free speech, who gets to decide what's racist or vulgar? That's right, the government, which is just ill-equipped to make these kinds of determinations. The motorcycle group above is a good example of the potential unintended consequences.
You were right and I was wrong: full capitulation.
June 18, 2014
Rare Government Genius
The Washington Redskins football team is a private enterprise and should be allowed to choose its name. Inviolately true.
But the government is charged with trademark protection. And if they are displeased with just cause, they can yank that protection.
The DC Football team can keep the name, forbearing some revenue from piracy. Or they can change the name and protect their brand.
I have supported the Indigenous-people's-epidermises in this contretemps until today. This is a new emotion and might be subject to persuasion. But my first thought is that this is pretty bright. I'll concede that it empowers government somewhat and that this might get out of hand -- but this is an enumerated federal power and I'll grant them broad interpretations of those.
David Harsanyi, Call Your Office
And Ben Franklin, and everybody who has even pointed out the evils of Democracy.
It seems their property rights can be stolen from under their feet by ballots while they are abroad defending ours by bullets. The Colorado Observer: Military Voters Won't Get Ballots in Loveland Fracking Fight
"Political parties are private organizations; they may adjust their rules however they wish."
I've heard that and likely have said it. But my primary ballot is identical in every way to the mechanisms used n the General (except it does not have all those smelly Democrat names on it). Do they pay? Can we start a ThreeSources party and force the County machinery to process our ballots?
June 17, 2014
Otequay of the Ayday
The man who makes everything that leads to happiness depends upon himself, and not upon other men, has adopted the very best plan for living happily. This is the man of moderation, the man of manly character and of wisdom. -Plato
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/p/plato_2.html#8puyA1pRkPdO2XYP.99
Told You So?
Remember when Susan Rice said "we will catch the Benghazi attackers!" And Darrel Issa said "No, you will not catch the Benghazi attackers!" And Ms. Rice said "Will too!!" And Rep. Issa said "So's your old man!" And...
No. I don't remember it much like that, either. But Scott Wilson at the WaPo does.
The weekend capture of Ahmed Abu Khattala, one of the suspected ringleaders of the Sept. 11, 2012, assault on a U.S. diplomatic compound and CIA-run annex, gives Obama another told-you-so moment in Washington's score-keeping culture.
Let me get this straight. The Administration:
And now, the WaPo thinks this is all magically expunged because an arrest was made? Told-you-so?
Two Tweets of the Day?
Two hundred eighty characters -- suck it up!
Think you can buy these people off?
After which it will be "water that has ever been microwaved," "customers who have been vaccinated..."
Bringing their organizational skill to environmentalism!
After they have solved that, I think the VA might move onto childhood obesity and a definitive proof of the Reimann Hypothesis. (Hat-tip: Jim Geraghty)
June 16, 2014
I think we're at an inflection point in our great republic.
Are we going to allow this?
The announcement came late Friday, a too-cute-by-half cliché of a PR strategy to mitigate backlash. "The IRS told Congress it cannot locate many of Lois Lerner's emails prior to 2011 because her computer crashed during the summer of that year."
I rushed to Facebook with a Rosemary Woods joke when it happened. I thought I'd show off my unique wit, but it seems I share my uniqueness with about a million of my closest friends on Facebook and Twitter.
But when Ms. Woods lost the infamous 18 minutes of White House recordings, the entire universe said "come on, really?" Nobody believed it and I recall some forensic study that showed it was not done in a contiguous streak matching Woods's accidental foot pedal explanation. It rather showed stops and starts which suggested "nope, I didn't get that bit, better try again."
I posit that the same minute percentage accept Lois Lerners's fanciful tale. The question Ron Fournier asks is whether we shall see the same scrutiny. Which brings me back to my inflection point: The DOJ will not act. As Insty says, "Eric Holder's job is scandal-goalie." Will the press accept this -- may I call it total bullshit? -- and carry on?
They have shown every willingness to cover up so far. I ask because the mood seems to be shifting as the prevarications pile up, and because this one is so simple and outlandish. The Benghazi video story struck me as beyond credulity but I am a partisan hack. There is some fog of war and you cannot ascertain others' rationality from afar.
But this. You don't really need to bring in "an IT expert" tough Powerline did. These are government servers in the branch most noted for document retention. A Rosemary Woods day or two would be extremely suspicious -- two years is laughable.
If. If they get away with this bald-face lie, than the Bananarepublicization of America is complete and self rule is truly over.
Strong words but not overwrought -- if we can be lied to this directly it is over. Three cheers to Fournier but I hope he is not alone.
UPDATE: Jeff Dobbs via Jim Geraghty:
UPDATE II (QOTD nominee):
After all, there isn't a "smidgen" of e-mail evidence to suggest otherwise. -- John Fund
UPDATE III: Hell, I'd settle for answers toSharyl Attkisson's Nine Questions
June 15, 2014
Someday, you'll win a trivia contest with "What is G.K. Chesterton's full name?" If you are on Jeopardy, be sure to phrase the answer as a question.
I reviewed Gilbert Keith's What's Wrong with the World last May. He is difficult to read on Kindle because one wants to underline every other line of his magnificent prose.
Some time ago I wrote a little book of this type and shape on St. Francis of Assisi; and some time after (I know not when or how, as the song says, and certainly not why) I promised to write a book of the same size, or the same smallness on St. Thomas Aquinas. The promise was Franciscan only in its rashness ; and the parallel was very far from being Thomistic in its logic. You can make a sketch of St. Francis: you could only make a plan of St. Thomas, like the plan of a labyrinthine city.
I'm not a man of envy. Payton Manning's new little bungalow in Cherry Hills is a fine structure; his rival Tom Brady's wife is extremely attractive, blog friend sugarchuck has some cool guitars. I'm fine with that. Mazel tov! But two good friends took some of their Catholic education at the firm hand of the Jesuits: one in high school, one in grad school. And I am green that the entire, substantive, intellectual aspect of Catholicism was never shared with me. Eleven years of parochial school theology got me a succession of deconstructionist, feel good hooey.
The Charles Murray book reviewed last April suggested that its young reader cough, cough engage in serious religious thought and study. Randy Barnett's masterful Structure of Liberty [Review Corner] used natural law and St. Thomas Aquinas as a foundation. So, I ponied up $1.99 for a Kindle version of Chesterton's St. Thomas Aquinas (illustrated and annotated).
He opens with a lengthy (well, not too lengthy -- it is a very short book) comparison of St. Francis because, again, he had written a similar book on St. Francis. But as an introduction, it is helpful to compare something new to something known.
Perhaps it would sound too paradoxical to say that these two saints saved us from Spirituality; a dreadful doom. Perhaps it may be misunderstood if I say that St. Francis, for all his love of animals, saved us from being Buddhists; and that St. Thomas, for all his love of Greek philosophy , saved us from being Platonists.
It would be rich of your review corner author to compare himself to any saint, but I was certainly drawn to Aquinas. Chesterton says that he "baptized Aristotle," bringing him into a church completely in the clutches of Platonic spirituality and mysticism. I have blasted the current pontiff, once or twice, for his irrational economics. I hope nobody missed Kevin Williamson's superb essay pushing back against an Honduran Cardinal's anti-Capitalism. Dare I mention Michael Novak?
Aquinas stands for reason and in the middle ages says that there is no conflict between religion and science. Both seek the same truth.
He practically said that if they could really prove their practical discoveries, the traditional interpretation of Scripture must give way before those discoveries. He could hardly, as the common phrase goes, say fairer than that. If the matter had been left to him, and men like him, there never would have been any quarrel between Science and Religion.
Aquinas takes on the Platonists of his own church as well as the encroachment of Islam, and "The Manichees." But his crusades are fought with reason and philosophy.
For the Augustinians derived only from Augustine, and Augustine derived partly from Plato, and Plato was right, but not quite right. It is a mathematical fact that if a line be not perfectly directed towards a point , it will actually go further away from it as it comes nearer to it. After a thousand years of extension, the miscalculation of Platonism had come very near to Manicheanism.
Aquinas was high-borne and chose the life of a friar. He was accepted into society, lectured at Colleges but was not subsumed by anything but thought and philosophy. Chesterton says "But he had all the unconscious contempt which the really intelligent have for an intelligentsia."
There may be many who do not understand the nature even of this sort of abstraction. But then, unfortunately, there are many who do not understand the nature of any sort of argument. Indeed, I think there are fewer people now alive who understand argument than there were twenty or thirty years ago; and St . Thomas might have preferred the society of the atheists of the early nineteenth century to that of the blank sceptics of the early twentieth.
But, to a 13th century friar, "A is A."
Against all this the philosophy of St. Thomas stands founded on the universal common conviction that eggs are eggs. The Hegelian may say that an egg is really a hen, because it is a part of an endless process of Becoming; the Berkeleian may hold that poached eggs only exist as a dream exists; since it is quite as easy to call the dream the cause of the eggs as the eggs the cause of the dream; the Pragmatist may believe that we get the best out of scrambled eggs by forgetting that they ever were eggs, and only remembering the scramble. But no pupil of St. Thomas needs to addle his brains in order adequately to addle his eggs; to put his head at any peculiar angle in looking at eggs, or squinting at eggs, or winking the other eye in order to see a new simplification of eggs.
And yet, the book ends a little sourly. This long-review-of-a-short-book is the first of three: today GK Chesterton, next week Karl Popper, then George Orwell. I posit that each of these three brilliant sons of liberty made economic and political errors because of the dark times in which they lived. Liberalism was in its death throes to each and each tried to posit a world with liberty in a post-Liberal universe. My man Mises saw the eventual victory of Liberalism, but Chesterton, Popper, and Orwell saw the need to make the best of a crueler world post Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin.
I can forgive the Middle Ages Friar for not cheering on free market economics. He predated Menger, Bastiat, Adam Smith, and Ludwig von Mises -- and his cable package did not include CNBC, so he never saw Kudlow. But Chesterton, sadly, piles on:
He foresaw from the first the peril of that mere reliance on trade and exchange, which was beginning about his time; and which has culminated in a universal commercial collapse in our time. He did not merely assert that Usury is unnatural, though in saying that he only followed Aristotle and obvious common sense, which was never contradicted by anybody until the time of the commercialists, who have involved us in the collapse. The modern world began by Bentham writing the Defence of Usury, and it has ended after a hundred years in even the vulgar newspaper opinion finding Finance indefensible. But St. Thomas struck much deeper than that. He even mentioned the truth, ignored during the long idolatry of trade, that things which men produce only to sell are likely to be worse in quality than the things they produce in order to consume.
Usury -- and "less than handsome" goods for trade. I weep. But at the end of my triumvirate review, I intend to bring Chesterton, Popper, Orwell, and maybe Aquinas to 2014. I will ask them to use their preternatural intellects to update the economic side of their philosophies.
Chesterton's book? Five starts, of course!
June 12, 2014
Spirit of Capitalism
You cannot redistribute what you dont have -- and that holds true not only for countries but, finally, for the planet and the species, which of course is what globalization is all about. That men of the cloth, of all people, should be blind to what is really happening right now on the global economic scale is remarkable, ironic, and sad. Cure one or two people of blindness and you're a saint; prevent blindness in millions and youre Monsanto
Otequay of the Ayday
And if the 11 million illegals who live here obey the law, pay taxes, learn English, and understand the Constitution, they deserve legal status. Citizenship is an issue way down the road. And yes, we must include border security, where unfortunately Obama's lax policies have contributed to the calamitous surge in illegal-immigrant children. But temporary visas or work permits should be part of a sensible reform package. The E-Verify system can work.
Larry Kudlow, 'David Brat, Right on Free-Market Economics'
(Quoting Kudlow on CIR, so's jk don't have toooooooo.)
About more than immigration...
Feeling better... James Freeman of the WSJ Ed Page "takes a closer look:" (Wait, is that what Blog Brother jg asked me to do?)
As a Journal editorial notes, Mr. Brat "ran against Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac which is the Lord's work, as well as the farm and flood insurance bills that Mr. Cantor guided through the House this year. To the extent his victory warns the GOP to disavow crony capitalism, Mr. Brat has done a public service." Mr. Brat also attacked the Majority Leader for his support of the TARP bank bailouts, Medicare expansion and various spending bills.
Quote of the Day
First, I apparently wasn't perceived by some people as a "serious" candidate. Given the fact that I was the only candidate in the race with an entire platform based on child poverty, mass incarceration, income disparity, diminishing civil liberties, domestic surveillance, student loan debt, corporatization and rule by oligarchy, passing a Green New Deal, and a Constitutional Amendment to rid corporations of the rights of personhood, I'm a little stymied as to what makes a person "serious" enough to pass muster with the so-called "serious" people who make such judgments. Indeed, mine was the only top tier candidacy that actually did make a serious critique of the political status quo.-- Marianne WilliamsonHat-tip: A Facebook friend who says "Imagine a world where the politicians thought like this.... Maybe one day."
June 11, 2014
Libertario Delenda Est!
I may have something of a fellow traveler over at Reason. Brian Doherty pens a Libertarian-focused look at the Brat/Cantor race. What's the L-cred of this soi disant Randian Econ Professor?
Brat seems really solid on some things, like surveillance (against it), the Second Amendment (for it), spending (for balancing budget), and Obamacare (against). He's bad on immigration and ambiguous, which generally means bad, on a sane foreign policy. And if Virginians want an actual capital-L Libertarian Party candidate to vote for in Cantor's old House seat, they have James Carr, part of the team assembled in that state where Robert Sarvis did amazingly well in his governor's race last year and is trying to repeat history in his federal Senate race this year.
Good story, good story. . . Then, The "Radicals for Capitalism" author describes the "Structure of Liberty" [Review Corner] author:
For example, Randy Barnett is a true blue, Lysander Spooner-loving anarchist, the product of the libertarian movement machine of the Center for Libertarian Studies and the Institute for Humane Studies in the 1970s and '80s. He has also, unusually for such a radical libertarian, become an important public intellectual--recognized by The New York Times as one of the most influential legal thinkers and activists of his time due to his work fighting in the Supreme Court for getting the feds out of state-level medical marijuana and for undercutting the legal argument for Obamacare. Barnett managed to both write the best modern defense of an anarchist legal order and be the darling of the conservative legal group the Federalist Society for his explication of the libertarian roots of the Constitution.
Indeed. Libertario Delenda Est.
First: Wow. Didn't see that coming.
Second: I have read some pretty good (and some bad) commentary. Peter Suderman at Reason provides a balanced look at four reasons VA-7 may have given its favored son the heave-ho.
But it is hard to contradict Jim Geraghty's terse summary:
Take a victory lap, Mickey Kaus, Mark Levin, Laura Ingraham.
Kaus, at least, is tuirnung donuts it the parking lot. Insty has linked to him about 147 times since the exit polls trickled out last night.
Perhaps I am too pragmatic to be a 'bagger. I read that Professor Brat is a sharp, eloquent, and principled defender of small government. So. Yay.
But the advertisements linked Rep. Cantor to President Obama and "Amnesty." If there is one word I'd love to never hear again, it is of course "Obama." (See what I did there?) But if I get two, the second is certainly "Amnesty." Amnesty is the "bloody shirt" of the immigration debate. I can take immigration opponents seriously until they use that word. Then, they've lost me.
Meanwhile, Sen. Lindsey Graham (TeeVeeStar - SC) cruises to victory in the Palmetto State. I would love to see a principled lover of liberty prevail there. Against Cantor? Not so much.
A sports metaphor, scarecrow? We've just traded a really good Left Tackle because he couldn't throw 60 yard spirals. But try and throw one with JJ Watt standing on your head.
Tea Partiers are happy, I guess I am not one after all.
UPDATE II: Corrected District number: was VA-11 should be VA-7
June 10, 2014
Quote of the Day
Put down your Kleenexes, Sec, Clinton did not have it perhaps quite so bad as she averred...
Leaving aside for a brief moment how utterly farcical it is to use "struggle" and "houses" in the same sentence, the notion that the Clintons were presented in their post-presidency with anything other than a license to print money is unyielding in its abject hilarity. By 2001, Bill Clinton had made $200,000 per annum for eight years while paying nothing toward his housing or upkeep, and, in addition to the extraordinarily lucrative speaking gigs that American ex-presidents are now to expect, he had a lifetime of pensions and benefits to look forward to. (David Graham points out that, in the last 14 years, he has received nearly $16 million from the government.) By the end of the year in which he left office, the couple had made $16 million and enjoyed between $5 and $30 million in assets. By 2004, they had $50 million to their names. And by 2014, Clinton had become the highest-earning former president in America's history, with net assets of nearly $200 million. Being smart sorts, the couple knew full well that this was coming, which is why in 1999, with their apparently destructive legal bills still racking up, they bought a $6 million house in Chappaqua, N.Y., so that Hillary could legally run for the Senate. One suspects that if the Clintons had been genuinely worried that their legal fights might bankrupt them, they would not have done this, nor would friend Terry McAuliffe have agreed to loan them $1.3 million toward its purchase. -- Charlie Cooke
Hat-tip Jim Geraghty
UPDATE: In spite of the lengthy excerpt, whole thing the please read -- it is an impressive takedown of the Clintons which might come in handy over the next couple of years.
UPDATE II: Thanks, Facebook!
June 9, 2014
Otequay of the Ayday
"Recoveries make a CHOICE...
Tweet of the Day
GOP Policy on Energy and Climate
"We will address our energy needs and any externalities with science and innovation; they will use politics."Maybe it is too late, or the media narrative too established, but I think Republicans could expose the lefties' anti-science predilection and possibly turn the tables.
I know Solyndra was about 11 scandals ago. But the Democrats (read The Mark Udall for Senate Campaign) have designs on playing up "denialism." How can you consider voting for a troglodyte, flat-earther who doesn't even believe in Climate Change?
To combat this, I offer, free of charge (excepting my normal Koch Brothers stipend), a GOP Energy and Climate Plan for 2014 & 2016:
Addressing Energy Needs and Climate Concerns with Science
The non-distortionary nature of a prize makes it harmless. The cost for any of these producing significant advancements would be good value. And you're supporting research institutions and American can-do-ism.
2. Defined metrics for regulation.
3. Funding for Climate Science
We're not denying anything -- except that our opponents schemes have been more about science than rewarding political constituencies.
UPDATE: So, if I include a link, it is not "a Rant?"
The proposed EPA rules would cost approximately $51 billion a year and destroy 224,000 jobs each year through 2030. The poor and people on fixed incomes will be hurt the most. And all this pain will be for absolutely no gain: It will have no impact at all on the global climate, according to reports published by the libertarian Heartland Institute--based on peer-reviewed climate science.
June 8, 2014
We call our species homo sapiens--wise man--but we are, in fact, homo faber, man the creator. We have changed the face of this planet with our tools and structures, and we will continue doing so. Assuring future prosperity requires that we continue exploring the atom and exploring deep space.This describes Karl Popper's "World 3" (coming soon to a Review Corner near you) but it captures Robert Bryce's anti-Malthusian Smaller Faster Lighter Denser Cheaper: How Innovation Keeps Proving the Catastrophists Wrong.
Moore's Law applies to and is well-accepted in the microprocessor sector. A newer faster smaller cheaper computer is almost as predictable as a user's story of the older, bigger, slower, and more expensive equipment he or she began using. (Having a brother who worked on mainframes, I have learned not to get into one-upsmanship in that area...)
But Bryce expands it to all fields of human endeavor: Smaller Faster Lighter Denser Cheaper energy, agriculture, transportation, music -- everything where innovation is allowed, and sometimes, even where it isn't.
The trend toward Smaller Faster is not dependent on a single country, company , or technology. Nor is it dependent on ideology. Smaller Faster Lighter Denser Cheaper has flourished despite Marxism, Communism, Socialism, Confucianism, and authoritarian dictatorships. It might even survive the Republicans and the Democrats.
Leo Fender gets a shout out for empowering the individual in music with the tools to be heard in the theatre, and then the same technology's allowing The Beatles to be heard around the world on the Ed Sullivan Show.
The vacuum tube allowed musicians to be heard as individuals, and in doing so liberated millions of people. Lee De Forest, the Alabama-born inventor who perfected the vacuum tube, would eventually win more than three hundred patents. But none of his other inventions would ever be as important as the vacuum tube.
The book is great for a modernist like me. I'd put it beside Matt Ridley's The Rational Optimist [Review Corner] or David Deutsch's The Beginning of Infinity [Review Corner]. Those are sacred texts to a technocrat like me, but what Bryce may do better is to directly take on and negate the neo-Malthusians, who -- if I may borrow from Popper again -- would "take us back to the caves."
Collapse anxiety pervades the rhetoric of many of the world's most prominent environmentalists as well as some of the biggest environmental groups. They abhor modern energy sources as despoilers of earth's beauty and natural order and cling to the idea that we humans have inappropriately sought to subdue nature for our own shortsighted, materialistic, and short-term benefit. In their view, we humans have sinned so much against Mother Earth that even the weather has turned against us.
ThreeSourcers will also enjoy the quantitative nature of the book advances are measured and compared to what they replaced and back to what was used in antiquity.
The original Model T was equipped with a 2.9 liter engine that produced 22 horsepower (about 16,400 watts) and weighed about 300 pounds (136 kg). The result: gravimetric power density of nearly 121 watts per kilogram. That power density was 73 times that of a horse, 12 times that of the Boulton & Watt design and about six times that of the engine Corliss had introduced in Philadelphia three decades earlier.
The energy section will warm the hearts of ThreeSourcers, if read on Kindle, at 0.44°C/µW -- energy density, near and dear to all.
That Obama and Kennedy, both of whom went to Harvard, claim that a super-high-energy density substance that can be deployed for innumerable purposes, from pumping well water in Kenya to emergency generation of electricity in Lower Manhattan, is somehow bad or even yet, tyrannical, is nonsense on stilts. Rather than talk about the tyranny of oil, the two Harvard grads might as well complain about the tyranny of physics-- or better yet, the tyranny of density.
Detailed Appendices describe the units used and data sources for the quantitative sections. For all its factual content, the book is an easy and enjoyable read. Five Stars, easy.
June 7, 2014
Negotiating with Satan
I call this a rant because it comes straight from my thoughts, without any supporting hyperlinks.
I hear many commentators discuss the implications of America's recent decision to negotiate with terrorists in the trading of five Islamist war criminals for the feckless Bowe Bergdahl. "This will only endanger our troops as it encourages the enemy to attempt taking more of our soldiers as hostages."
What I don't hear is anyone contemplating what this exchange has done to the Jihadis. Here are some observations:
- Dealing with their enemy with dialog instead of bullets weakens the "purity" of the "all infidels must be killed" ideology. UBL seemed to be more ruthless in this ideology than the Taliban, and their leader Mullah Omar, now seem to be.
- Trading value for value is capitalism. This is the path to peaceful coexistence. Capturing more Americans to trade for other things they want is, while distressing, an improvement on the strategy of "kill enough of them that they lose their political will and flee."
Our soldiers' presence in their primitive lands seems to have effected a sort of "Peace Corps" effect as they learn that, individually, Americans are not devils.
June 6, 2014
Three Cheers for Boulder!
Okay -- I know his account was hacked now...
Nope. The lovely bride and I had a very nice evening last night. A good friend was playing at the St. Julien Hotel. It is across the street from my old office and I believe our band was the first one to play there.
We saw the ensemble Laughing Hands: a hyper-eclectic acoustic ensemble. I've seen them several times and cannot recommend them highly enough. Superb musicianship, unusual instruments, diverse repertoire -- they're great.
The great conundrum is that, somehow, without Boulder, that doesn't really happen. I was beating up Austin last week, but it is the same deal. To say it coarsely: without the lefties we'd have Dunkin' Donuts and no Starbucks.
Mind you, we need some Federalism so that they cannot run the whole country, but there has to be a Boulder.
Quote of the Day
Jonah Goldberg points out [subscribe] that the White House's Hacks can't even do Hackery right:
In the old days, there was an unwritten rule of politics: Don't put the president next to a guy who looks like he just emerged out of spider-hole with Mullah Omar. But these are more relaxed and tolerant times. Still, in the Washington of yore, the president's advance team would at least go over with the president's guests what they might say when standing alongside the leader of the free world. You know just to make sure everyone is on the same page. But that's hard to do when the page is written in ... Pashto!
June 5, 2014
-- And Bailing Out Students
Other people's money. That will, sadly, be popular in Colorado.
Quote of the Day
"We have to quit putting out fires," said one Democratic senator, who asked not to be named in talking candidly about internal party views of the White House. -- NYTimes (via Taranto)
Democratic solutions to inequality - an analogy
If the Democratic meme of "income inequality" were applied to medicine, this is how it would work:
Supposed you break your arm and take it to a doctor for fixing. Using "inequality" logic, the doctor would first provide aspirin for "immediate relief." Then the doctor would go to the next patient and break his arm. Nothing would be fixed, but everyone would be equal.
Using free market logic, the arm would be set and immobilized until it healed. This solution would be neither pain-free nor immediate, but would eventually result in having two good arms.
Three Cheers for the ACLU!
They do get it right now and then: Skokie in 1978, and "Campaign Finance Reform" today.
Democrats pushing for a constitutional amendment that would give government the authority to regulate political spending by outside groups will do so without one traditional ally at their side.
My buddy and Senator, Mark Udall (Daddy's - CO) looks to be betting the farm on three issues that are hard sells in Colorado:
Democrat incumbent Sen. Mark Udall (Colo.) will receive support from an out-of-state gun control group in his reelection campaign, after backing stricter gun laws in the past.
Energy once again is dominating Colorado's U.S. Senate race with the announcement that climate change guru Tom Steyer is tapping his fortune to make sure Democrat Mark Udall wins another term.
Very important on Facebook that people sign Sen. Udall's petition demanding that Cory Gardner accept climate change. Umm, Yeah!!! Sure. I guess...
Looking for issues to push in this year's congressional elections, Senate Democrats are proposing a constitutional amendment that would enable government at the federal and state levels alike to heavily regulate campaign contributions and expenditures. The effort is driven by the Democrats' intense disagreement with Supreme Court decisions on campaign finance. The amendment likely will fail, as it certainly should. As in so many areas of governance these days, liberty--here the freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment--is at stake.
The third peg was his Amendment overturning
All of these have some traction in "Purple" Colorado. But Democrats get elected as "moderates" and, while Udall's new allies have deep pockets, they will be easy targets for attacks as -- excuse me, but I must -- "Too Extreme for Colorado!". The ALCU's demurring now removes any legitimacy the Amendment may have had.
I guess he'll have to ruin on his support for ObamaCare®!
June 4, 2014
Whose side is he on anyway?
The inestimable Colonel Ralph Peters (US Army-Retired) describes how President Obama and the man-children in his administration could be so myopic as to believe the general public, not to mention active and retired military members, would greet their "prisoner swap" with glee.
This is a fundamental culture clash. Team Obama and its base cannot comprehend the values still cherished by those young Americans "so dumb" they joined the Army instead of going to prep school and then to Harvard. Values such as duty, honor, country, physical courage, and loyalty to your brothers and sisters in arms have no place in Obama World. (Military people don't necessarily all like each other, but they know they can depend on each other in battle -- the sacred trust Bergdahl violated.)
UPDATE: Col. Peters refers to inevitable book and movie deals for Bergdahl, "quite possibly the most-hated individual soldier in the history of our military" but a movie that tells his story has already been made. His is the part of Ephialtes.
Mugged by Reality
Austin: The Boulder of Texas!
"I'm at the breaking point," said Gretchen Gardner, an Austin artist who bought a 1930s bungalow in the Bouldin neighborhood just south of downtown in 1991 and has watched her property tax bill soar to $8,500 this year.
Family Guy Does Colorato Politics
Can't say I'm a fan of "Family Guy," but that may have to change:
Shh -- or I'll release more terrorists!
If ThreeSources does not discontinue its ACA Horror Story of the Day, feature, I'll have no alternative to releasing Khalid Sheik Mohammad!
Susan Rice Lied on a Sunday Show?
That would be news! But Matt Vierkant, a team leader of another squad in Bergdahl's platoon, is more charitable:
Asked about the statement Sunday by National Security Adviser Susan Rice that Bergdahl served "with honor and distinction," he said: "That statement couldn't be further from the truth. I don't know if she was misinformed or doesn't know about the investigations and everything else, or what."
Quote of the Day
I'm sure conservatives can find [CIA Director Leon] Panetta decisions they disagree with, but let's face it: In a national security team that included or includes the likes of Susan Rice, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, and Tommy Vietor, he looks like George S. Patton. -- Jim Geraghty [subscribe]
I See What You Did There
Crazy Like a Fox?
We'll keep on releasing terrorists until you start telling pollsters you love me!!
June 3, 2014
Quote of the Day
Obama's move was an ultimate victory for those at the White House and the State Department who had previously argued the military should "suck it up and salute," says the official familiar with the debate. -- Massimo Calabresi , TIME
It was the third of June
...another sleepy, dusty, delta day...
Happy Billie Joe Day!
Brave, Brave, Sir Robin.
Sec. Clinton, in the shadow of le Condo d'Amour, takes a bold stand on the deserters-for-terrorists swap: "Well, we'll see."
Gotta click, MSNBC wants me to buy an embed code. That's gonna happen.
June 2, 2014
Happiness is Not Zero Sum
David Azerrod has an interesting piece at Heritage's The Foundry Blog. He suggests that conservatives fall into a trap when they accept the Left's analogy of a race.
What Quinn's avowedly discomfiting conclusion reveals is that it is time to drop the flawed race of life analogy once and for all. Life is not race. Life is a journey whose goal is happiness. And happiness is not a finite national resource--there is plenty of it to go around. My happiness need not come at the expense of others.
Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly, jk has to make tortured segues. Here's John Lawlor, a guy who likes to play the tenor guitar. He's an iconoclast, not a hipster. If you can find 52 minutes, I don't think you'll be disappointed. If you cannot, scroll to 45:00 and listen to "Take me Out to the Ball Game."
If you listen to all 52, you'll know that happiness really is not finite.
UPDATE: Yes, you have to turn the audio waaay up.
All Hail Taranto!
"For a president who came to office hoping to restore public faith in government as a force for good in society, the mess at the Department of Veterans Affairs threatens to undercut his reputation for effectiveness," writes New York Times reporter Peter Baker in a "news analysis."
UPDATE: The same column contains a link to an Onion piece I had never seen:
Bruce Springsteen Accidentally Plays 'Big Government's Stealin' Our Livelihood' At Obama Rally
Glad I am a Hockey Fan
...where both black players are treated exceptionally well!
June 1, 2014
John Considine is an economist . You might remember him from articles such as "The Simpsons: Public Choice in the Tradition of Swift and Orwell" and "Yes Minister : Invaluable Material for Teaching the Public Choice for Bureaucracy" or from teaching economics to students at University College Cork, Ireland.Even the endnotes are fun in Homer Economicus: The Simpsons and Economics.
Joshua Hall, Associate Professor of Economics at West Virginia University, likes to use Simpsons and Springfield references in his lectures. He mentioned the title to Professor and HOSSess Deirdre McClosky who said "that should be a book." I don't know if Hall has a low utility for work or a keen sense of Comparative Advantage, but he elected to solicit essays from other instructors rather than write the book himself.
He collected 16, covering "The Economic Way of Thinking," "Money, Markets, and Government," and "Applied Microeconomics." Each appreciates The Simpsons and the result is a very enjoyable read.
The invisible hand, as well as the four-fingered invisible "yellow" hands of the Simpsons, applies to more than what people usually consider to be the narrow scope of economic activity.
Economics is one area where one is not too surprised to find 16 academics who are sympathetic to liberty and distrustful of government and central planning. Where the discussion wends its way into politics. most ThreeSourcers would be sympathetic to the arguments.
If we start with the assumption that government is run by socially benevolent and well-informed central planners, then we would be rather indifferent between Pigouvian taxation , regulation, and the assignment of property rights as policy alternatives to correcting externalities. In reality, politicians and bureaucrats are every bit as self- interested as the rest of us human beings, and our judicial system might handle certain industries even more poorly than regulators. This requires us to consider the case-specific practical difficulties of implementing policies. On The Simpsons, "Mr. Spitz Goes to Washington" provides one such case study of the difficulties involved.
I am pretty familiar with this genre, as I read similar compendia of literary criticism or philosophy discussions around Buffy and Angel; I read those by the schooner. Like this, some submissions are better than others. Andrew T. Young of West Virginia University has one of the longer and better articles on money. Building on the line in the "Trilogy of Error," where Milhouse pleades, "I cant go to juvey! They use guys like me as currency!" Young asks "Could Milhouse actually become money in the juvenile hall?" with a serious discussion of the functions of money and whether our bespeckled friend meets those requirements.
I've enjoyed The Simpsons over the years. I would not call myself a die hard fan, but when I come across it, I always laugh -- and I appreciate Groening's ability to scratch pretty deep with an animated comedy.
In general, the fascinating part about the members of the Springfield community is that, despite being fictional characters created for entertainment purposes, their biases correspond quite well to those observed by behavioral economists in real people. Lisa even notes in the first episode of the show that Homer has the same frailties as all human beings, and this theme is certainly exemplified throughout the show, perhaps even to a larger degree than the writers realized.
Informative and enjoyable -- four stars easy.