September 30, 2014

All Hail Insty!

insty140930.gif


Tweet of the Day

Hat-tip: Insty


September 29, 2014

What causes cancer?

"Everything, gives you cancer, There's no cure, there's no answer."

- Joe Jackson

Well yeah, because of all the chemicals and pollution and corporations and stuff, right?

Wrong:

The point is that life expectancy and the percentage of Americans reaching old age are both increasing. That explains why, as a paper in The New England Journal of Medicine showed, cancer was the #8 cause of death in 1900 but the #2 cause of death in 2010.* We aren't dying of cancer because of Monsanto's pesticides and GMOs, as one lady recently said to me in an e-mail. We are dying of cancer because we are running out of things to die from.

Cool article. Very short. Alex B. Berezow explains that we are, slowly, winning the war on cancer.

Science Posted by JohnGalt at 3:10 PM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

A mind blowing (to me) insight from Matt Ridley's "Genome" was that Cancer strikes after reproductive years (probabilities/tendencies). Ergo, there is no evolutionary selection for immunity. Elephants and tortoises live long, low-predator lives and bear young throughout. So the things that kill old tortoises are less present in the gene pool.

This adds to and does not refute any of the points you made. But there is some real poetry in Ridley's and Hawkins's deeper looks at genetics.

Posted by: jk at September 29, 2014 7:18 PM

September 28, 2014

Review Corner

My great-grandfather was born in 1900 in a village called Qiu, which is located in Shandong Province on the east coast of China. Shandong Province is renowned for two seemingly contradictory things: philosophy and banditry.
Not to us, Ms. Raleigh, not to us. I always felt for Ayn Rand (because that's the kind of selfless guy I am). Collectivism destroyed her productive family in Russia. She immigrates to America, then has to watch Rex Tugwell and the New Dealers bring the same economics here.

In Confucius Never Said, Helen Raleigh stays in China until college, witnessing liberalization but experiencing the unconscionable and barely imaginable limitations of Communism. Her family was prosperous until Mao brought that special brand of fairness.

My grandfather was eager to help because he was tired of decades of war, violence, and uncertainty. He craved a peaceful life. Like most people in China, he didn't know what communism stood for, but he figured that he would give his support if the communists delivered the peace and prosperity they promised. He didn't realize that would be the last time he saw his boat.

Raleigh's father and grandfather have a front row seat for the redistribution she is witnessing today. Their close-knit community is ripped apart when her family, though popular, is cast as villainous oppressors.
Initially, some poor farmers were hesitant to identify their neighbors as rich. However, the work team brainwashed the poor farmers into believing that disproportionate property ownership was the main cause of social injustice and that landowners were evil class enemies and exploiters of the poor. With a certain amount of coercion, some poor farmers turned their old grievances or frustrations into hatred for their well -to-do neighbors . Since my great-grandfather owned land, he was classified as a landlord even though he wasn't the richest man in the village.

Once identified as "rich," life becomes unbearably hard for the family, and Raleigh chronicles the difficulties. We know the horrors of the famine (though many Chinese do not), but one is struck by the small things. There are a few train trips to seek education, better opportunities, and finally the author's chance to study in America. We complain about travel, but there is a "papers, please" mentality that makes every stop suspenseful. Communism will starve you if you stay put and administer the death of a thousand cuts if you seek life elsewhere.

The book is outstanding as a close up look at Communism and intriguing biography of the woman who escapes it. The best of Raleigh's book, however, is Raleigh's interest in philosophy and the power of ideas. The title refers to "All men are created equal." Confucius never said that. Confucianism accepts the caste system and a hierarchical society that was overturned in The Enlightenment.

A good friend of mine, Bryan, likes to say "Ideas matter ." Knowing what makes America great also helps explain why civilizations like China, despite their thousands of years' of history, fell so behind in the last two hundred years.

The ideas a society is built upon matter a great deal . For 2000 years, Chinese people followed the moral principles and social orders established by Confucian teaching. Confucius believed that people live their lives within parameters preset by fate. Men should be compassionate towards one another, but there is very little a man can do to change his fate. Peace and harmony in society can only be achieved when every man performs his own social responsibility within the preset social orders. Confucius believed people should obey and respect their rulers just as they obey and respect their fathers, while a ruler should love and care for his subjects as if they were his children. Confucius said many good things, but he never said "All men are created equal," because he believed some men were born to be rulers and some men were born to be subjects.


And yes, that happens to be Brother Bryan quoted. Also quoted are Hayek, Milton Friedman, and William Easterly. In a couple decades here, she has absorbed the philosophical foundations of liberty and prosperity. In "Confucius Never Said" she shares those with us.

Five stars.

UPDATE: Helen Raleigh's talk at LOTR-F"


Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 10:13 AM | What do you think? [7]
But jk thinks:

Umm, yeah, we went through this a little.

I am aware of your discomfort with that phrase. While I will not admit to using it just to make you angry, I do not share you aversion.

I am plodding, turbo-Porsche in the mud speed through Rev Samuel Rutherford's "Lex Rex." It scored a spot in Brother Keith's Top Ten and he called The Rev, a precursor ad foundation to John Locke.

Tough sledding for me (and it's biblical foundation might do you physical harm), but Locke, Rutherford and Jefferson all address "is one man born to be the slave of another." I don't hear Harrison Bergeron in the phrase, I hear birthright liberty. "Qua Liberty" if you will allow.

Posted by: jk at September 29, 2014 7:34 PM
But jk thinks:

Raleigh is a friend of some friends, and a fan of Ms. Rand. We could quite possibly get further clarification from the author.

Posted by: jk at September 29, 2014 7:43 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

Nah, Confucius is fine with the idea that everybody is created equal. Both Confucius and the eventual Confucian tradition that developed around his purported teachings were completely comfortable with the idea that a no one could become a someone---indeed, they hated hereditary nobility. They were meritocrats from the start, believing that gentlemen were defined by their virtue, righteousness,filial piety and ritual propriety, not their birth or station. The Confucian examination system--which hypothetically allowed a peasant to reach the heights of power if he was virtuous and smart enough--is a good example of this.


On the other hand, China had no conception of 'inalienable rights' until Western ideas and works entered the country in the 1800s.

Posted by: T. Greer at September 30, 2014 1:38 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Would TG agree that "all men are created equal" was the ideological weapon to fight the aristocratic caste system and, once that dragon was slain, individual unalienable rights heralded the true renaissance? I see them as distinct, but complementary, stages of liberty.

This is not criticism of Raleigh's message as much as sharpening it to a finer point.

Posted by: johngalt at September 30, 2014 11:26 AM
But jk thinks:

I don't know that the author's thesis is under scrutiny (though it does not align with tg's assertion). The thing at risk is my expansion. And, to be fair, if you scroll toward the end of the video (47:35), I ask a direct question and she demurs.

Posted by: jk at September 30, 2014 1:14 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Demurred on the Confucius connection perhaps, but not on the idea that "all men are created equal" is the foundational principle of the United States. She later explains that it guides the relationship between the people and their government, which got me thinking about another local activist, Laura Carno, and her "I Am Created Equal" advocacy. She joins Raleigh in saying, "that free people doing what they want with their own property is the foundation of our country and our culture."

So I will cop to philosophic pedantry, as the "created equal" message is more visceral to more folks than "individual unalienable rights." (Wait, wait... in, duh, video, what was that again?)

Posted by: johngalt at October 1, 2014 2:54 PM

September 26, 2014

Quote of the Day

What I am saying is that the constant crisis-mongering outstrips the scope of the problem by orders of magnitude. And, more to the point, it's deliberate. This is the great irony. When I say:

"The U.S. has made enormous environmental progress."
Or:
"Sexism and racism are smaller problems than at any time in American history."
Or:
"Capitalism helps poor people more than socialism does."
Or:
"The best way to feed a bear a marshmallow isn’t by putting your hands behind your back and holding the marshmallow between your lips."

. . . the response from the left is that I am merely trying to protect the vested interests of The Man and His League of Extraordinary Meat-Eating Oligarchs. But, when alarmists insist the Earth will burn like an ant under a magnifying glass if we don't ban the internal-combustion engine by this Thursday at noon, it's merely "speaking truth to power." I mean it's not like anybody is making any money off of global warming. It's not like there’s any privilege that comes with being a climate activist. It's not like big corporations would ever think to take advantage of the issue. Nor would government bureaucrats ever use climate hysteria as an excuse to expand their own power. -- Jonah Goldberg [subscribe]

But johngalt thinks:

LMAO @ LEMEO!

Posted by: johngalt at September 26, 2014 7:02 PM

Today in Pragmatic GOP Politics

Did'ja see this?

Milton Wolf, the tea party candidate who battled Sen. Pat Roberts in a bitter Republican primary fight, is considering some political payback: Endorsing Kansas independent Greg Orman, sources said Thursday night.

But there's a big catch: To win Wolf's endorsement, Orman must first agree to caucus with the Senate GOP if he were to defeat Roberts in the general election.


Interesting. My default reaction is celebrating the team player -- compete in the primary, cooperate in the general. I know nothing about Mr. Orman but Senator Roberts leaves much room for disaffection.

Hat-tip: Insty who says "Oh, please don't"

UPDATE: Dr. Wolf calls "Shenanigans:"


Not Even Watermelons Any More

Blog friend sc shares a link and an observation: "It seems that it's only been in the last few months that progressives are stepping out with this rather than trying to mask it."

It is one thing to see the goofy socialists all come out for the climate change march with their anti-capitalist literature and banners, it's another to see grownups, and I'll kindly include Ms. Naomi Klein and some of the writers at Slate. (Generous R Us, I know.)

The solution to climate change is not just some CFLs and wealth transfer to poor nations in the UN and Neil deGrasse Tyson hectoring us on the Internet. The green skin of the watermelon is peeled away (a very curious way to eat watermelon) and the "red" of the movement is suddenly exposed for all to see.

According to social activist and perennial agitator Naomi Klein, the really inconvenient truth about climate change is that it's not about carbon--it's about capitalism.

Three years ago, Klein wrote a powerful essay for the Nation that tackled this idea. Now, she's turned her argument into a hefty book, which was released last week--just days before hundreds of thousands took to the streets in New York City, many of whom carried banners strikingly similar to the messages Klein supports. (Klein sits on the board of directors at 350.org, an organization at the heart of the growing grass-roots uprising against climate inaction, and which helped organize Sunday's march.)

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate is focused on exposing how the relentless pursuit of growth has locked us in to a system that's incompatible with a stable climate. The bottom line is, the reality of global warming has forced civilization into a hard choice: Either continue on as usual, committing the planet to growing inequality as the effects of climate change escalate and disproportionately affect the poor, or try a radically different path.


Umm, yeah, that terrible status quo that has lifted billions out of poverty and privation. That McCloskleyesque growth curve -- we have to put a stop to that. I don't know if you watched any of Reason's excellent videos where they interviewed the protesters, but Ms. Klein has nailed it They really have moved on from light bulbs.
The divestment movement is a start at challenging the excesses of capitalism. It's working to delegitimize fossil fuels, and showing that they're just as unethical as profits from the tobacco industry. Even the heirs to the Rockefeller fortune are now recognizing this.

The next step is, how do we harness these profits and use them to help us get off fossil fuels?

Well, that's going to have to be legislated. Fossil fuel executives aren't going to just give away their billions.

Exactly. Exxon needs to pay--it's the most profitable company on the planet. It's also the descendent of Standard Oil.

In the book, I talk a lot about Richard Branson's pledge to donate all the profits from his airline to fight climate change. When he made that announcement, it was extraordinary. The problem is, no one held him accountable--well, besides me and my underpaid researcher. But at least Branson's heart was in the right place. These profits are not legitimate in an era of climate change. We can't leave this problem to benevolent billionaires.

What happened at the U.N. Tuesday was the same thing. Instead of a science-based treaty, with carbon targets divided equitably among nations, what you had was governments and corporations randomly making voluntary pledges and hoping it added up to something.


But, hectoring our friends to change their light bulbs is still really really important, isn't it?
You said you've been working on this book for five years. What changes have you made in your own life in that time to change your own footprint? What can readers of your book do?

That's a complicated question. I think the environmental movement has overstressed the consumer side of it. When you start talking about sacrifices, pretty soon people start feeling like chumps. In my town, we have centralized composting, a new system of better bike lanes, and plastic bags are charged for. But Canada's still missing our carbon targets.


Centralized composting. Still missing targets. It gives one pause. You really have to read the whole thing.

UPDATE: The first bad review...

But johngalt thinks:

I'm glad to read that we've moved beyond "obscene" profits to merely "illegitimate" profits. And that enviros no longer want to eliminate them, but to steal them. Some small measure of progress there.

And how far do you suppose she'd get with this argument if it were framed as "Free-Enterprise vs. the Climate" or "The divestment movement is a start at challenging the excesses of free-enterprise?"

Yeah, the scourge of billions of people doing things freely is, simply, unsustainable. "Incompatible with a stable climate." Hey you, over there, butterfly. STOP FLAPPING YOUR WINGS!!

Posted by: johngalt at September 26, 2014 11:48 AM
But jk thinks:

I do appreciate the honesty. Too often, my lefty buddies say "we don't want to eliminate profits..." But "Yes, we must institute world socialism today to prevent a rise in sea level" has a bold candor about it.

I may have the One Blog Comment to Bind Them here -- take this for a spin:

I listened to Craig Biddle's video Why use the word "Selfishness?" Biddle suggests that a clever interlocutor would quickly guess that your new synonym actually means "selfish" and that it would be as easy to rehabilitate the original. I'll grant that you have a better foundation to bifurcate between "Free Enterprise" and "Capitalism," but I am less convinced that a fresh term would stay unsullied for long.

Posted by: jk at September 26, 2014 1:36 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Is that a reason not to try?

And it's taken roughly a hundred years to sully capitalism this badly. Would you settle for the same lifespan for "free enterprise?"

Posted by: johngalt at September 26, 2014 7:14 PM

September 25, 2014

Tweet of the Day

We are all and each entitled to complex opinions on this president's foreign policy and war leadership.

But -- anybody not like this a whole lot?

But johngalt thinks:

I'm no expert on Islam but it does seem that a jet pilot helmet should count as a "head covering." Who could complain?

Posted by: johngalt at September 25, 2014 6:37 PM
But jk thinks:

Praise be his holy name.

Posted by: jk at September 25, 2014 6:48 PM

Gallup: Free Enterprise, Small Business, Viewed Positively by 90% of Americans

Ayn Rand summarized her system of morality this way:

"I am not primarily an advocate of capitalism, but of egoism; and I am not primarily an advocate of egoism, but of reason. If one recognizes the supremacy of reason and applies it consistently, all the rest follows."

And I have learned this week that, were she alive today, she would be required to replace the word "capitalism" with "free enterprise." At least until our misguided electorate learns what actual capitalism is.

Perhaps I missed the 2012 Reason Magazine article, that I outlined here and we discussed later here, when it first appeared. But I distinctly remember reading the 2010 Gallup poll that blog brother jk reprised yesterday. And yet the real lesson of its findings eluded me just as it eluded Gallup at the time, as they concluded:

It is apparent that "free enterprise" evokes more positive responses than "capitalism," despite the apparent similarity between the two terms.

Thus concluded their curiosity on the subject. I suppose then that I may be excused for taking so long to see it.

Gallup again:

"Americans were asked to indicate whether their top-of-mind reactions to each were positive or negative. Respondents were not given explanations or descriptions of the terms."

Gallup%20capitalism-socialism%20bar%20graph.png

"Capitalism," the word typically used to describe the United States' prevailing economic system, generates positive ratings from a majority of Americans, with a third saying their reaction is negative."

Egads, if the over-taxed, over-regulated, dysfunctionally central-managed economy we now labor under is what most Americans think is "capitalism," it's a minor miracle it scored as positively as it did! But my grandmother's capitalism - defined by Rand as "a full, pure, uncontrolled, unregulated laissez-faire capitalism -- with a separation of state and economics, in the same way and for the same reasons as the separation of state and church" - has not only an "apparent similarity" with free enterprise, it is exactly free enterprise. Or did nobody notice the word "free?"

My wise blog brother observes that libertarians are wrong to insist on pure principles and instead, we liberty and freedom lovers had better, "in our Madisonian system -- form coalitions and use our strengths wisely."

So if Libertarians are the party of liberty uber alles, Republicans the party of big business corporatism and Democrats the party of federal government corporatism where and how do we organize the party of free-market, free-enterprise, small business entrepreneurs? It would seem an easy thing to do inasmuch as it's membership includes over four-fifths of the entire electorate. And yet, we are brought to heel by the established, entrenched, neo-mercantilist statists. Where is the friggin' light switch?

I have advocated a takeover of the GOP. A replacement of all things "establishment" by either "Tea Party Darlings" or "Liberty Activists." We seem to be losing battles in that war at least as often as we win them, perhaps because the battle lines are so convoluted. So this may be a plan for the next primary season rather than any general election but the question for every voter needs to be: Are you with the backroom dealers in both parties who have brought us crisis after crisis, and riches to the well-connected, or are you with we entrepreneurs - the advocates of free enterprise, and the renewal of the American Dream we promise to bring to you?

But jk thinks:

Intriguing, to be sure. On the negative, I wonder to what extent the term "Capitalism" has been polluted and the advantage of "Free Enterprise" is that they have not bother to smite it -- yet.

By the time we change our machines to use it, will the other guys just run it down? I'm thinking of a mutual friend who blogged here in bygone days as "Silence Dogood." He liked Capitalism just fine -- but not "unfettered capitalism." If we swap a term, they will just attach their modifiers and decry "unfettered free markets," Non?

Mister Kudlow had both covered. Every night, the Kudlow Creed: "I believe free market capitalism is the best path to prosperity."

Posted by: jk at September 25, 2014 5:04 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Regarding "unfettered free markets" - unfettered basically means "free"... right?

Posted by: johngalt at April 2, 2015 3:01 PM

Quote of the Day

Happy Birthday, Bill of Rights!

It's difficult to imagine today's Congress thinking up--nevermind passing--anything so profound as what Madison wrote in those ten amendments. But then, the experience of the Founding Fathers was far different from that of today's legislators. By most accounts, Madison, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and other colonists had grown up as happy British subjects. Yet the Founding Fathers would later cast off colonial rule by planning and then engaging in open revolt against Britain. They formed an entirely new country, and established a new form of government. -- Baylen Linnekin


Prepare the Shocked Face...

Germany's, top down, dirigiste, energy policies actually hurt the environment. I know! I was surprised as well!

Berlin's "energy revolution" is going great--if you own a coal mine. The German shift to renewable power sources that started in 2000 has brought the green share of German electricity up to around 25%. But the rest of the energy mix has become more heavily concentrated on coal, which now accounts for some 45% of power generation and growing. Embarrassingly for such an eco-conscious country, Germany is on track to miss its carbon emissions reduction goal by 2020.

Greens profess horror at this result, but no one who knows anything about economics will be surprised. It's the result of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Energiewende, or energy revolution, a drive to thwart market forces and especially price signals, that might otherwise allocate energy resources. Now the market is striking back.


On the other hand, it did drive up energy costs, so it is not a total failure.
Ordinary Germans foot the bill for these market distortions, having ponied up an estimated €100 billion ($129 billion) extra on their electricity bills since 2000 to fund the renewable drive. The government estimates this revolution could cost a total of €1 trillion by 2040.

Berlin is scaling back some taxpayer subsidies for green power. But Germans still also pay for the energy revolution when job-creating investment goes to countries with lower power costs, as happened earlier this year when chemical company BASF said it would cut its investments in Germany to one-quarter of its global total from one-third, and when bad incentives skew generation toward dirtier coal instead of cleaner natural gas.


No fracking, decommissioning nukes... I feel much better about being American today -- ausgetzeichnet!

Oil and Energy Posted by John Kranz at 11:08 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Begun in 2000, yes, but the real damage started in 2011 when Chancellor Merkel outlawed nuke plants.

None of this is what environmentalists promise voters when they plug the virtues of a low-carbon future. Germany's coal renaissance is a cautionary tale in what happens when you try to substitute green dreams for economic realities.

But remember, you heard it here first.

Posted by: johngalt at September 25, 2014 2:05 PM

September 24, 2014

Nudge Youself!

Awesome on stilts column today on Cass Sustrein's Nudging.

I have been deeply skeptical over the years, even banging heads with the überrespected Professor Mankiw. Nudging -- and its promiscuous little sister, Pigouvian Taxation -- is all about friendly authority. "We're not going to tell you you can't smoke! We're just going to tax tobacco," "We're not going to make you exercise, we're just going to reduce you license plate fees if you can prove a health club membership." In Mankiw-land, "we suspect greenhouse gases are bad so let's tax carbon instead of income and earnings."

I reject setting government up as arbiter of good and bad. Are we going to tax fat, salt, sugar, BPA water bottles, GMOs? It's a huge expansion of government power, even if applied in small amounts. (Read Thomas Hall's Aftermath [Review Corner] to see the unintended consequences of punitive tobacco taxes.)

Stephen Poole suggests that the growth in the movement is based on underestimations of human rationality. Anecdotal examples abound on our Facebook feeds, but if we're not going to have our energy choices dictated by Bernie Sanders or our diet by the First Lady, we need to take a stand that humans are fit to care for themselves.

This is a scientised version of original sin. And its eager adoption by today's governments threatens social consequences that many might find troubling. A culture that believes its citizens are not reliably competent thinkers will treat those citizens differently to one that respects their reflective autonomy. Which kind of culture do we want to be? And we do have a choice. Because it turns out that the modern vision of compromised rationality is more open to challenge than many of its followers accept.

It's a rich and fascinating column. At 3500 words you'll want to set some time aside. But it is well worth it.

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 5:09 PM | What do you think? [0]

Quote of the Day

Neil deGrasse Tyson is Carl Sagan 2.0, down to the fact that he's been cast as the host in a reboot of Sagan's "Cosmos" miniseries. As usual, though, the copy loses some quality from the original. It’s as if they took Sagan and decided to decrease the earnest thoughtfulness while increasing the preening vanity and smug condescension. -- Robert Tracinski

Objectivist-Pragmatist Smackdown

A favorite on these pages, well after Buffy, is the importance of the source of rights. Ayn Rand and those who subscribe to Objectivism make a compelling case. Here is Craig Biddle:

People should be free because people have a moral right to live their lives as they see fit (life), to act in accordance with their own judgment (liberty), to keep and use the product of their effort (property), and to pursue the goals and values of their choice (pursuit of happiness). This is the principle of individual rights.

Where does this principle come from? Why do individuals have rights? We have rights because rights are requirements of human life in a social context. Man's basic means of living is his reasoning mind. We live by using reason, observing reality, identifying the nature of things, making causal connections, integrating these into concepts and principles, and acting in accordance with our consequent knowledge. To the extent that we are forced to act against our judgment, we cannot live fully as human beings; we are relegated to "living" as puppets, serfs, or slaves.


Others, myself included, find the above not incorrect, but unwieldy as a persuasion tool and not required to understand liberty. Here is Max Borders, responding to Biddle.
Now, there are a number of alternative moral considerations that will be competing with rational egoism, and these moral systems will be wired deep within people. Altruism competes among them. Should defending liberty leave these off the table?

What fun -- it's the same argument we have around here every now and then. Both essays are presented side-by-side and you can vote at the end -- it's pretty close now...

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 2:02 PM | What do you think? [4]
But johngalt thinks:

So glad you posted this! I read it yesterday (and the voting was about 65-35 for Biddle when I cast my ballot) and thought it was tailor made for us.

I can, and will if you'd like, poke multiple holes in Max Borders arguments. But first I want to say, why not both? Why not an "all of the above" defense of liberty? Why is Borders in favor of a number of moral considerations and yet, not "a number" plus one? Why must they be alternative and competing with rational egoism? What in the name of man's true nature is he afraid of?

Getting unfriended?

Posted by: johngalt at September 25, 2014 1:55 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Uh oh, 72-28 Biddle at the moment.

Posted by: johngalt at September 25, 2014 2:07 PM
But jk thinks:

The powerhouse Objective Standard is pushing Biddle fans into vote. I don't see this ending well for me.

It is indeed prefect for us and I'm in for a more extended look. Unless I misunderstood an IM, blog bro Bryan watched these two debate this topic live. He gave it to Biddle but admitted to bias.

Huh. I thought that the Borders's (/jk's) argument was "all of the above" and that -- if I may dysphemise -- the Biddle argument is that if you do not choose the one true foundation on which to build your defense of liberty, it will not work.

Posted by: jk at September 25, 2014 3:47 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Aha, another "capitalism vs. free markets" type miscommunication, perhaps. Well, I did take the words "alternative" and "competing" from Mr. Borders own statement, as quoted above.

"Should defending liberty leave these off the table," he asks? I dunno, should it leave rational egoism off the table instead?

Posted by: johngalt at September 25, 2014 3:53 PM

Coffeehousin'

Coffeehouse

Lullaby of Birdland

George Shearing ©1952

Live at the Coffeehouse dot Com


Permalink
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

I really do enjoy these pieces. Are my ears just unusually clean today or does that guitar have an exceptional tone?

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at September 26, 2014 12:40 PM
But jk thinks:

And I really do enjoy the kind words! I recorded "Lullaby of Broadway" at the same session, that'll be out in a few days.

There are only two truly difficult things in life:
1) Make a guitar sound good.
2) Record a good sounding guitar.
Chasing these keeps a few percent of GDP in motion. While the new SG does indeed have a lovely tone, I also think I have made some improvements in item two over the years. I must endeavor to get the big archtops out again and try to better share how nice they sound in the Coffeehouse Studios.

Posted by: jk at September 26, 2014 1:45 PM

Marginalized Again, Naturally.

My pragmatic politics are based on a Pew poll from way back when which showed libertarians' comprising 9-19% of the electorate. Without diving into the exact accuracy of the poll, I always ask my Judean Peoples Front pals if they think that number wrong. My Facebook feed suggests it to be fair (perhaps closer to nine).

Therefore we must -- in our Madisonian system -- form coalitions and use our strengths wisely.

You guys have heard it a thousand times. I post today because of another poll. The good folks at Gallup point out that "Socialism" is viewed favorably by 36%. The worst news is not even that twice as many people like socialism as liberty -- the really bad news is that 20% of conservatives have a positive view of socialism.

So, your bad news for the day is that libertarianism in the general population polls below socialism's number among self-identified conservatives. Have a nice day!

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 10:10 AM | What do you think? [6]
But Keith Arnold thinks:

I expected the body of your post to start with:

(Apologies to Gilbert O'Sullivan.)

This is going to look like I'm critiquing your post, so I'm going to apologize in advance and aver that I'm critiquing society - specifically, American political society. Your post has three points as givens:

- Libertarians comprise 9-19% of the electorate.
- "Socialism" is viewed favorably by 36%.
- 20% of conservatives have a positive view of socialism.

I submit for your consideration that the third given is false, and the first is most likely to be true, but all three premises are questionable for the same reason: they depend on labels which are not clearly defined. My perception is that most people have fuzzy understandings at best of all three of those terms, whether those terms apply to themselves or others.

The third given is impossible, if we have any reasonable understanding of the words "conservatism" and "socialism." The problem is, we don't, as evidenced by the number of please I receive for votes, dollars, and support for Republican candidates, all identifying their candidate as the one legitimate conservative in their prospective race. All the denizens of this blog would probably agree that Calvin Coolidge and Ronald Reagan were sound conservatives. Is Mitch McConnell? Is John Boehner? Is Newt Gingrich? Is Haley Barbour? Is Karl Rove? Is anyone named Bush a conservative? We could have some lively debates, and each of us would have to whip out his personal purity test to apply them to each subject.

I can think of no flavor of "conservative" who can have a favorable opinion of "socialism," so long as we all agree on a definition of socialism as a political and economic system in which the State or the collective has primary ownership of all wealth and property, the individual has no innate rights of ownership, and all power devolves to the central government. The problem is that we have people self-identifying as conservatives who don't understand what that word means, and saying they like socialism when they don't know what that means either.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at September 24, 2014 1:17 PM
But jk thinks:

I'll never apologize to Gilbert -- he got all the hair.

My post deserves a logical critique: I have conflated some real data and some "boy some people are really really stupid aren't they?" The 9-19% was based on response to "the worlds smallest political quiz" which I think is a good proxy. The other two are self-identification and prove, conclusively, that somewhere between 20 and 36 percent haven't a clue.

On the main point, though, I cling to proof by verisimilitude. 81-91% of people are pretty quick to say "there oughtta be a law."

Posted by: jk at September 24, 2014 1:51 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

I think your 20 to 36 percent figure is, pardon the pun, a conservative estimate. Heh.

Now I'm going to play a little with your first premise, the one I said was probably the most likely to be true: "Libertarians comprise 9-19% of the electorate." You use a lower-case "l" which makes it easier to agree, of course. Anecdotally, I'm finding increasing numbers of people who not only believe in individual responsibility and limited government, but are willing to speak out about it.

I would be willing to venture a theory. It seems to me that the numbers for both the individual liberty camp and the statist camp are on the increase, and what's shrinking is the people in the middle with no opinion, leaving an uncrossable chasm - sort of a reverse Bell curve, with the low part in the middle and peaks on both sides. Would that match with your observations?

Posted by: Keith Arnold at September 24, 2014 5:00 PM
But jk thinks:

I'm not sure. I am a great believer in rising polarization. Yet, when I look out my window, I see the great unwashed teeming of low-information voters more than I see a left that mirrors the TEA Party or ThreeSourcers. Your premise posits that's existence like particle physics posits a tachyon. Not saying either does not exist -- but I ain't seen it.

Are the Stewart/Colbert/Oliver watchers (and yes, there are now three) harder left? I'd suspect more they are general moderates who have been prejudiced against conservatives and libertarians.

I had to go hunting for sourcing on the 9%. I quote it all the time and found a few links. None with a better title than: Hot Tub Libertarians

The 9 percent figure comes by way of a recent analysis done by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. Last month, Pew released an analysis, based on a survey of 2,000 people, which was aimed at finding the ideologues among the American voting public -- those voters who held consistent ideological views on a sampling of subjects, such as health care, gay marriage and Social Security reform.

Libertarians were the smallest group, as defined by Pew, followed by conservatives (15 percent), populists (16 percent) and liberals (18 percent). A full 42 percent of voters held no identifiable ideology (these are presumably the people who vote for whomever's tallest).
Posted by: jk at September 24, 2014 6:51 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"...somewhere between 20 and 36 percent haven't a clue."

"...when I look out my window, I see the great unwashed teeming of low information voters more than I see a left that mirrors the TEA Party..."

"A full 42 percent of voters held no identifiable ideology."

Just one question - Are you the same jk who thinks "But I have het to meet an "uncommitted?" Maybe you should get out more.

According to the linked Gallup poll, "Respondents were not given explanations or descriptions of the terms." So my premise is intact, wherein said 20-36 percent believe that "socialism" means "the opposite of capitalism" which means "the opposite of the current, neo-mercantilist system."

And I bolster my position with the next paragraph from the poll article:

Americans are almost uniformly positive in their reactions to three terms: small business, free enterprise, and entrepreneurs. They are divided on big business and the federal government, with roughly as many Americans saying their view is positive as say it is negative.

The conventional wisdom, for most of my life, has been that Republicans are the party of "big business" and Democrats the party of "the federal government." And those two classes are as evenly divided as is our politics. Is the yellow brick road to freedom and prosperity not staring us in the face? Is it political malpractice for the GOP not to embrace messaging around "free-enterprise" and "small business" and "entrepreneurs?"

Buehler?

Posted by: johngalt at September 25, 2014 1:48 PM
But johngalt thinks:

JEEZUS! Reading further in the Gallup poll breakdown:

"Capitalism," the word typically used to describe the United States' prevailing economic system...
Posted by: johngalt at September 25, 2014 2:10 PM

September 23, 2014

"Hello... Is there anybody OUT there?"

(Apologies to Pink Floyd.)

Perhaps I was too tepid in the introduction for 'Listening Across the Aisle.' Allow me to start again.

I have discovered the secret to abolishing political partisanship once and for all. Simply read the linked articles by Sheldon Richman and Roderick Long and everything will be revealed!

Okay, perhaps instead I just didn't give a compelling enough summary.

America's contemporary political economy is a system of neo-mercantilism, replete with corporate excesses and government favoritism that enables and promotes them, which thus benefits a well-connected few at the expense of almost everyone else.

Champions of capitalism are heard by others to be defending and celebrating the contemporary system. Meanwhile, champions of socialism are really advocating nothing more than the opposite of this false-capitalism, the contemporary neo-mercantilist system.

So when I say, "free markets are the best solution" others hear, "I believe WalMart should pay slave wages and sell cheap crap at the lowest price so that they and their buddies can grow even richer." And when others say, "everyone should be paid a living wage" I hear "government should make every company hire people for more than they are worth" when instead we should both recognize that, "If government didn't meddle in the economy, thus making it "free", there would be more jobs and more choices and higher wages."

This still needs work but, see where I'm going?

But jk thinks:

That would be interesting but my burning desire is not what they think but what they know. I'd far rather hear them define Brother jg's seven-words-you-can't-say-in-a-blog-post than react to them. I want to know if the idea of Tenth Amendment rings a bell -- not "What's the 10th say" but have they ever encountered the idea that the Constitution exists to limit government? Have they ever encountered The Federalist Papers? Do they know who John Locke, and David Hume are? What is the Enlightenment? What label signed Muddy Waters?

Posted by: jk at September 25, 2014 5:19 PM
But johngalt thinks:

John Locke? They can't even name Obama's veep, can they?

Seriously, those topics are for your 3rd or 4th conversation. If you get that far. Before you start asking what they know, try to find a place where you agree. That is the secret sauce. With that you're an okay guy; without it you're a Martian. Or worse.

Then you take small enough steps that they agree or disagree, backtracking when necessary for agreement, and proceed until their head explodes with cognitive dissonance and they a) leave the building or b) unfriend you. Then you have to wait for them to put themselves back together and see where they are at that point.

But I'm seriously interested in the family poll. To be fair, I'll poll mine too.

Posted by: johngalt at September 25, 2014 6:47 PM
But dagny thinks:

Does this sound to anyone like what we tried to do on FB to the tune of nearly 190 comments? And the person on FB was interested and persistent. Did we get anywhere? Maybe in the area of wealth creation.

Posted by: dagny at September 26, 2014 11:58 AM
But jk thinks:

Not sure the antecedent of "this," dagny. Yes, our recent thread shows the difficulty (I say futility but my blog brothers think me melodramatic) of really reaching another human being.

Perhaps your interlocutor entered the arena with too many hardened positions, but I suspect that's the rule and not the exception.

The niece and nephew daydream is really more about education. I do not expect nor would I try in this context to bring them over to the dark side of liberty (There is much poweh, Luke...) The group I'm thinking (not my old nieces with college kids of they own) were B+ to A public school students, are very bright (and attractive!)

I wish to know what liberty theory points they have ever encountered -- I suspect few to none. And what their knowledge of history and Constitutional theory is. I expected zero politics per se, just an oral exam.

Posted by: jk at September 26, 2014 12:48 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Well, I just invited immediate, extended and adopted family members to take my poll, in return for getting a copy of the family and the commercial poll results in return. Data to follow, such as it may be.

As for our 190 comment thread, that's a big part of what informs this subject. We argued to tears and boredom about "capitalism" and "socialism" when we probably agreed all along about free enterprise, small business and entrepreneurs!

Posted by: johngalt at September 26, 2014 6:56 PM
But jk thinks:

I was thinking of an open, Facebook, comment-if-you-want-to thread. If you'd kindly send me yours, I will make it match.

RE: 190 comment thread: wow. I could not disagree more. There were a few brave attempts to collect that which we both believed and shade that Venn diagram of common ground no matter how small, but I never saw them as really establishing ground. A guy who does not accept ex nihilo wealth creation is not going to get behind Free Enterprise unless you describe it in a way t cannot be understood. I accuse my blog brother of wishcasting common ground that was not there.

Posted by: jk at September 26, 2014 7:17 PM

Quote of the Day

It would be interesting and fun -- but somewhat in the realm of metaphysics -- to ask why the U.N. Climate Summit 2014 is denying the science as reported by IPCC -- Benjamin Zycher
But nanobrewer thinks:

Excellent article; I've been wanting documentation on the (constant) changes in the IPCC's forecast of 'just how bad IS it (gonna be)?'

I guess that will still go down as an exercise to the budding blogger. All I could find here was:

"IPCC predictions of temperature increases per decade relative to the 1980-1999 and 1986-2005 periods, respectively. In the fourth assessment report, the range of predicted temperature increases is 0.11 to 0.64 degrees Celsius per decade; in the fifth assessment report (2013, p. 11-52), the range is 0.10 to 0.23 degrees C per decade."

Posted by: nanobrewer at September 24, 2014 12:18 AM
But jk thinks:

I look forward to reading your report, nb. (Or should I call you "Bud?")

One guy who could feed that project pretty well is Chip Knappenberger who covers the climate change beat for Cato.

He does a good job with both the changing IPCC reports and the discrepancies between the actual predictions in the body of the report, supported by data and research as compared to the "Executive Summary" which journalists and politicians quote.

Posted by: jk at September 24, 2014 10:00 AM

Ell Oh Ell

Windows Phone 8.1 suggested I can link the home screen to Facebook and use random pics from my feed for screen saver / lock screen. I clicked yes.

Now it is Neil deGrasse Tyson all the time. I think they are messing with me.

UPDATE: Today's NdGT news.

Wikipedia, you see, is run by editors who love facts, reason, evidence, and science. Boy do they love science. And facts. And also evidence. They LOVE those things. But they don't adore anything as much as they adore Neil Tyson, their high priest, and unsavory facts about their shaman of science will not be tolerated.

Posted by John Kranz at 2:02 PM | What do you think? [0]

Squandered

My Facebook buds at Being Classically Liberal mean this with a different velocity of scorn than I. But what's a little nuance between allies?

ended.gif

War on Terror Posted by John Kranz at 12:32 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Too bad Islamism didn't make the same promise.

Can we now finally dispense with the meme that the rest of the world only hates us when our President is a Republican?

Posted by: johngalt at September 23, 2014 2:11 PM

September 22, 2014

Not For Long

"If the NFL doesn't police themselves," [Kirsten Gillibrand (Crusader for Justice -- NY)] said, "we will be looking more into it."

Oh deary me. Like they fixed steroids in baseball and college football's BCS. President Madison, how are your finger-laying skills today?

No doubt university psychologists, Ph.D.s aloft, will be happy to appear at the congressional hearings, proposing that the solution to the problem is that standard panacea, more education. Programs will be proposed. Journalists will suggest that domestic violence in the NFL has been useful in highlighting the larger problem of domestic violence throughout the culture. "Everybody," as Jimmy Durante used to say, "wants to get into the act," and many politicians, social scientists and social workers will.

I have kept silent, but will get into the act a little. I am concerned that the NFL is being asked to police its players. I appreciate their interest in protecting their brand, but I have yet to hear anybody ask "where the hell are prosecutors in the Ray Rice case?" And yet everybody needs to know when Roger Goodall
saw the video and in what resolution.

My employer's brand is admittedly less public, but I cannot project that they would be asked to handle my committing a criminal offense. "If Mister Kranz is going to continue driving 40MPH down C.R.7 -- where it is clearly posted 35 -- he will no longer craft code to manage our inventory and returns."

Now you know the cause of my silence -- I cannot avoid flippancy. But I see this demand as a part of double jeopardy and one that conveniently avoids due process. The good people of Baltimore and Maryland have a grand jurisprudential tradition that includes Chief Justice Taney and his brother-in-law, Francis Scott Key. I don't care if they lock up Mister Rice for 100 years. But I think it too much to ask Mr. Goodall to adjudicate.

"But, this is obvious, jk, and it would be wrong to allow him to continue playing while his trial proceeds." To which I would replay that hard cases make bad law. Once we have set up the league as a legal forum, they'll have to handle all claims, with or without video. If you were to elect me as commish, I'd say "we will cooperate with all law enforcement authorities and disburse punishment when the process is complete."

I think Joseph Epstien agrees.

Now, of course, more of it is being found. An Arizona Cardinals running back named Jonathan Dwyer is accused of aggravated assault in separate incidents with his wife. The Chicago Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall has been dragged into the current mess by a former girlfriend, and her father, for violence allegedly done to her in 2006; they've turned the case over to Gloria Allred, who specializes in protecting women's rights, or at least those of women who are well-known or likely to become so. The sharks, one senses, smell blood.

Courts are the best reason for government I can come up with (well, that and free birth control). Let's use them.

(I'll start cleaning out my locker before the hate mail arrives...)

Sports Posted by John Kranz at 3:57 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

You are exactly and eloquently right. Our government has the time and resources to do anything it's little black heart desires and yet, media wants the NFL to become its court of public opinion? I'd like to know, when did the sports media become so racist? Oh, I get it - it's okay when they do so in "defense" of women and children. There must be a Politically Correct Totem Pole out there somewhere, with self-reliant white guys at the bottom.

Now if you'd like to discuss the domestic violence part of the story I would start the conversation by asking, why is there so much research on abuse of women and so little on abuse of men? This 2001 paper suggests that rates of physical violence against men were once comparable to violence against women at around 12 percent of the study subjects (although violence against women has declined while male victimization rates have remained constant.)

But the more interesting abuse against men is the emotional variety, as this is more frequent - on the order of 90% of men studied - and has more potential to cause lasting damage to the victim - psychologically. Yes, men do it too. That is a constant theme in this paper, that abusers and victims are roughly equal irrespective of gender. But despite the widespread social messaging that "we must teach our boys that it is NEVER okay to hit a woman" there is no companion message: We must teach our girls that it is NEVER okay to emotionally abuse a man. Is this not unilateral disarmament in the War of the Roses?

Take a look at that elevator video again. Did Ray Rice chase the passive female victim into a corner and hit her, or did he take his swing after she was aggressive toward him? This is not blaming the victim. This is understanding the entire picture.

And before you judge me for writing any of this, my defense to the charge of insensitivity or political incorrectness is: Science.

Posted by: johngalt at September 23, 2014 2:20 AM

Quote of the Day

"When the people speak up and when the people march, the politicians will follow," shouted Danny Kennedy, activist and founder of the solar company Sungevity in a pep talk before the March. -- Ronald Bailey
Honorable mention:
An overflowing garbage bin on Central Park West indicated that some marchers were not so averse to commerce as to forego quaffing designer coffees before setting off to march against capitalism. -- Ronald Bailey (same article)

Thomas E. Hall, call your office

Mr. Hall is the author of Aftermath: The Unintended Consequences of Public Policies. Yesterday's Review Corner left out that little tidbit of the author's name, since corrected. Bad reviewer! No biscuit!

I gave the book props for covering four items in depth as opposed to a laundry list of goobered-up policies. Yet, I wish to throw some laundry in the hamper: cash-for-clunkers and subsidies for 'lectriccars. Someone on Facebook posted a good article on California's zero-emission credits.

Remarkably -- and prepare your shocked face -- the program takes money from the poor to subsidize play-toys for the wealthy (wait, no shocked face yet...) It further seems that the poor live in areas with higher pollution (not yet...) and that there'd be far more benefit were they to replace old rattlers with cleaner new cars -- if only they could have kept the tax money to buy the Google exec's Tesla. (Okay, shocked face now).

First there's 94582: San Ramon, California. Since 2010 the roughly 38,000 citizens and businesses of this prosperous Bay Area suburb, where the median household income is $140,444, have purchased 463 zero-emissions vehicles. Such vehicles receive major state subsidies; nearly $1 million of these subsidies went to vehicle purchasers in San Ramon. But San Ramon doesn't need the anti-pollution help. Despite being home to a large highway complex and a business park, the city scores in the cleanest 10 percent of California's ZIP codes, according to the California EPA's EnviroScreen index.

The second ZIP code is 93640, the Central Valley town of Mendota, population 11,800, with a median annual household income of $28,660, which is less than the $36,625 sticker price of a Honda Fit EV. Mendota is in the top 10 percent of California ZIP codes for pollution and vulnerabilities such as childhood asthma, according to the CalEnviroScreen. And how many vehicles were purchased there under state subsidies? Exactly one, a lone car whose owner received $2,500.


This being Slate, author Lisa Margonelli calls for replacing the 'lectriccar subsidies for San Ramon with new car subsidies for Mendota. But her stopped 24-hour clock is right once a day -- they plunder of the poor for the rich is bad policy.


Hate the Name. Love the Video

Americans For Shared Prosperity (umm, okay...) releases a funny ad:

Hat-tip: Jim Geraghty/

2014 Posted by John Kranz at 11:24 AM | What do you think? [0]

September 21, 2014

Review Corner

In addition, public consumption took place in illegal taverns knows as "speakeasies," and frequenting these places of businesses became a trendy activity during Prohibition , even for women, who formerly were less likely to frequent saloons. In this way, the law had the truly perverse effect of helping cause a rise in alcohol consumption by women, the very group that had been a major driving force in getting the Eighteenth Amendment ratified in the first place.
It will not come as a stunning shock to ThreeSourcers that government programs create unintended consequences. Or, in the vernacular, "I'll wait while you put your shocked face on."

Yet I'll still recommend Aftermath: The Unintended Consequences of Public Policies by Thomas E. Hall. Its factual underpinnings are valuable when one encounters a voter less enlightened than ThreeSourcers and its depth and clarity will entertain those who already accept its premise.

Instead of a laundry list of bad policy, Hall takes four issues in depth: Income tax /16th Amendment, cigarette taxes, alcohol prohibition, and the minimum wage. Each gets a historical legislative perspective -- who was for it, who against, how and by what margins it passed. Beyond the "Baptists and Bootleggers" coalitions, there are frequently unexpected advocates.

The data in Table 4.2 also help explain why increases in the minimum wage were supported by many northern politicians and business organizations, but generally opposed by southerners. Companies operating in high-wage cities compete with firms located in low-wage cities. For example, suppose that in 1955, a company operating in the South paid unskilled workers $ 0.75 per hour, while a company in the North that produced the same product paid its unskilled workers $ 1.00 per hour. The northern company could pay its workers more because they were more productive because of a higher level of mechanization. An increase in the federal minimum wage from $ 0.75 to $ 1.00 would have no impact on the wage paid to unskilled workers employed by the northern company, but it would cause a $ 0.25 increase in the wage paid by the firm operating in the South.
[...]
During the 1950s, labor unions became strong advocates of federal price-support programs that maintain farm prices above equilibrium levels. U.S. labor leaders believed that keeping food prices artificially high would provide an incentive for farmers to continue farming instead of moving to cities where they would compete with existing workers and push down wages.

Many of the unintended consequences of course are desirable for government. Hall paints a picture of a government that was truly surprised at how much revenue could be raised from progressive taxation. A gift that never stopped taking.
The personal income tax instituted in 1913 was originally designed to shift the burden from the working class to the upper class by taxing the top U.S. income earners and using those funds to make the federal government less dependent on customs duties and excise taxes on alcohol and tobacco. The income tax accomplished its goal, but it also created the major unintended consequence of allowing the creation of our modern big-government welfare state by generating a flood of revenue for vote-seeking politicians to spend.

I did not know that prohibition featured a medicinal exemption (I know, I should get out more). Just as many states allowed "medicinal marijuana" and Colorado still waives the 20% excise tax to prescription holders, the government kept huge warehouses of top notch spirits throughout prohibition, with a complex schedule of rates for various uses. Some saw an opportunity.
When Prohibition went into effect, Remus was earning his living as a criminal defense lawyer in Chicago, and he soon found himself defending bootleggers being prosecuted for violating the Volstead Act. Remus realized that the profits in the illegal alcohol business were larger than what he was earning as a lawyer, so he began to consider changing to a more lucrative career.
[..]
His business employed 3,000 people, operated in eight states, handled about 3 million gallons of booze, and grossed somewhere between $ 60 million and $ 75 million, from which he paid around $ 20 million in bribes to a large number of police and U.S. Treasury agents (Lindsay 1974). These activities earned him the title King of the Bootleggers.

All this product was from government warehouse -- not bathtubs or private stills.
One of his better-known transactions (because it resulted in a criminal trial) involved spending $ 125,000 to purchase 891 barrels of whiskey at the Jack Daniel's distillery in Missouri, which works out to about $ 3.30 per gallon. He sold the whiskey for $ 25-$ 30 per gallon (Asbury 1950, 221). Over the course of his criminal career, Remus is estimated to have amassed a personal fortune of $ 20 million.

Prohibition, of course, lives on though alcohol is exempted. The other segments are alive and well in their original form: government that spends $1.17 for each new dollar raised in taxes, huge disparities in cigarette taxes as nannies attempt prohibition through excessive taxation fund smuggling operations (the 9/11 hijackers had fake New York cigarette stamps). And, the minimum wage debate rages on in the 2014 midterms and on my Facebook feed. Many could learn from this book.

Five stars.

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

September 20, 2014

Pragmatism with a Side of Hash Browns

I attended the Southern Weld County GOP Breakfast today in the shadow of Blog Brother Johngalt's Barony of Ft. Lupton. I have made the crack that this is the opposite wing of the party than our pals at Liberty on the Rocks -- Flatirons. The attendees are rural-to-bucolic, and the meeting starts with a prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance. I don't think we're in Boulder County anymore, Toto...

Yet my friends, these people are devoted to limited government. My State House Representative was speaking on water rights and said "as Christians and Republicans, we recognize this regulation as plunder -- as theft." Shades of Bastiat with the assumption that we're all saved. Fusionism at its apogee!

Politics is about winning and building coalitions. I have great respect for both groups, though I lean toward my libertoid buddies. The tent-shrinking effort to chase these people out that I see concerns me. Can't we all get along?

And the food is good. Every third Saturday.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 12:19 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

You have met the best of my salt of the earth neighbors. There are some others, probably less involved, who continue to "cling" tightly and reject anything they haven't been taught on a Sunday morning. But as you can now attest, those are not the norm. I haven't witnessed it but it seems there has been a - pardon the expression - evolution of political thought in the religious wing of the party. I tend to attribute it to electoral defeat, which has sown a healthy libertarian component in the hearts and minds of the righteous.

And yet many in libertarian circles still hold that, as a FB friend wrote, "If you don't believe in complete government management of saving souls, [then, in the eyes of Republicans] your [sic] a satanist and an anarchist!"

An interesting question: Having now visited both gatherings, which do you think more would be more open to visiting the other? Or stated differently, which would have less apprehension?

Posted by: johngalt at September 21, 2014 11:24 AM
But jk thinks:

I almost said that in my post. It is pure conjecture, but I think the libertarians would be better welcomed by the conservatives. Their apostasies would be met with an eye roll. "Now, now, dear, you really believe that do you..."

The previous speaker at LOTR-F, by contrast, received some rather harsh questioning on some less-libertarian portions of the Ryan roadmap. In one sense the venue is more open to discovery and dissent, but I felt leaving the Weld breakfast that they would be more welcoming.

Posted by: jk at September 21, 2014 11:36 AM

September 19, 2014

A whiff of leadership?

While many of you like to explore the bounds of policy (mostly how it binds liberty), I am stuck with a practical mindset and current events.

My complaints towards current GOP leadership as represented in DC have been noted here; my vehemence stems from the lack of direction from the erstwhile leaders McConnell and Boehner. They seem to have adopted one of WFB"S more visceral moments: (citing from memory) "I stand athwart history, shouting STOP!" In today's give-away culture, especially what the 24/7 media has degraded to, it is not enough to sit in a chair – even a speaker's dias – and shout “we're not with him/them!” Direction towards a positive goal is needed.

This may only advance liberty by retarding a massive statist power-grab but I'll take it!

It cites many long-held conservative beliefs, and will need to be forcefully, publicly and vocally defended (which will give the current "leadership" yet another chance to show their lack of HOSS-ness).

House Republican leaders are adopting an agreed-upon conservative approach to fixing the nation’s health-care system, in part to draw an election-year contrast with President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. The [health care] plan includes an expansion of high-risk insurance pools, promotion of health savings accounts and inducements for small businesses to purchase coverage together.

The tenets of the plan — which could expand to include the ability to buy insurance across state lines, guaranteed renewability of policies and changes to medical-malpractice regulations

I'm sure the denizens here will provide glimpses into the gaps, but I have hope... the first in a long time:

But this is the first time this year that House leaders will put their full force behind a single set of principles from those bills and present it as their vision. This month, House leaders will begin to share a memo with lawmakers outlining the plan, called “A Stronger Health Care System: The GOP Plan for Freedom, Flexibility, & Peace of Mind”
Emphasis mine.

This year? When did they provide leadership last year? All I ever heard was "STOP!" I am glad to see McCarthey name as leading the charge, and I like the title which I bolded; appears to be absent any populist preening, celebrity caucusing, or giveaway inducements.

{Republicans} prefer to see a shift away from the federal government and to the states, with an emphasis on getting more consumers on private plans

About time, I say!

Health Care Posted by nanobrewer at 5:38 PM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

I like that Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (HOSS WA) is involved. I sometimes worry that GOP Health plans tend to be tepid, but I agree that presenting a plan is a great move. Kudlow has been yelling at the m for years that "you can't beat something with nothing."

Even though most of us would prefer nothing...

Posted by: jk at September 20, 2014 1:06 PM

Stossel on Immigration

Here's a clip from Stossel's immigration show last night. I mentioned in a coment a better section on Sen. Sessions and Mark Zuckerburg. The show will be replayed on FOX News Sunday at 10 Eastern / 8 Mountain.

Around 4:10 there is a good Hayekian argument about central-planning, government and democracy.


If You Like Your Healthcare Plan...

Not very nice, Minnesota.

PreferredOne was the least expensive insurer in the Minnesota's state-run Obamacare exchange last year. It was also the most successful at signing up customers, capturing 59 percent of the state's market for private plans, according to CBS Minnesota.

And now it's leaving the exchange, and the 30,000 people who had enrolled in its coverage.


Something about "not sustainable." If only there had been some way to look ahead.


September 18, 2014

If You Didn't Love Him Before...

Wow, is everybody following this? I had seen a couple of other posts, but this is a pretty decent place to start.

My infamous, lefty Facebook throng are diverse in color, creed, age, geography, and gender. But one absolute is a fanatical reverence for Pop-TV Scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson. You cannot be a lefty without an implicit offer to scratch your own eyeballs out if you ever see him doing anything untoward. Like, say, fabricating quotes.

Now the anecdotes about his embellishments are piling up. And some NdGT apostates had the temerity to update his Gloriousness's Wikipedia page -- thus waking the sects devoted to his defense.

All in all, it was exactly what I expected from a group of hopelessly misguided religious zealots who will not tolerate the slander of their savior. There’s a word for people who fantasize about using sexual violence to force their will upon dissenters, but it's not "scientist."

Glenn Reynolds used the word "blowhard" which is a little kinder than mine (rhymes with brick-lead). Aside from his indefatigable defense of climate science, I thought him harmless.

Yet, knowing his modus operandi of "Claim X said Y and deliver diatribe how I enlightened X" when X never really said Y, watch the embedded video at the link. It is intolerable.

Science Posted by John Kranz at 4:42 PM | What do you think? [0]

Quote of the Day

Linked with general approbation by my biological brother:

What is upsetting is that while many in the media and many of us are ready to crucify Adrian Peterson for his actions we give others a pass. Adrian Peterson will not ever put a ‘whipping’ on his kid like that again. The millions of Americans that have had no ill-effects from corporal punishment are just fine.

Politicians that vote against Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) are child abusers. Politicians that vote against a livable wage, a minimum wage are child abusers. Politicians that vote against healthcare for the caretaker of children are child abusers.


And the people who support, vote for, and blog favorably about those abusers...

But jk thinks:

UPDATE: asked directly about this quote, I was told "You're right, John Kranz, the term "child abusers" is out of line"

Hold those self-disownment papers, Jeeves. I'm going to think about this awhile...

Posted by: jk at September 18, 2014 3:31 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"Abuse." Not used just for beating and berating anymore!

Let me know when the next edition of the Prog-Democrat dictionary is available on Kindle.

Posted by: johngalt at September 18, 2014 3:54 PM

Telecaster Thursday!

That could be a thing! Telecaster Thursday! (Hat-tip Sugarchuck)

(Only trouble is, Jim Campilongo looks like Sen. Mark Udall. I may watch this again after November.)

Music Posted by John Kranz at 12:19 PM | What do you think? [0]

September 17, 2014

Money Back if Not Completely Satisfied

That's the sort of guarantee we're all accustomed to when doing business with a private concern. Can we ask for, maybe, half our money back from government?

MTWspending-v-poverty.png

Over 100 million people, about one third of the U.S. population, received aid from at least one welfare program at an average cost of $9,000 per recipient in 2013. If converted into cash, current means-tested spending is five times the amount needed to eliminate all poverty in the U.S.

After all, 80 percent of the almost one triiiiilion dollars spent on Means Tested Welfare Spending each year is wasted.


Taranto Weighs In...

L'Affaire Grimes was too juicy for James to keep out of.


taranto140917.gif

Internecine Posted by John Kranz at 5:25 PM | What do you think? [0]

Listening Across the Aisle

I must caution myself against regarding this the key to a prosperous future of joyous non-partisanship, but it does seem to have that potential.

Somehow we seem to have missed this February, 2012 Reason article: Corporatism is Not the Free Market by Sheldon Richman. It's value is not so much embodied in the title subject, although that is necessary background. It's novelty is the way it explains the rise of hyper-partisanship in the 21st century. He quotes heavily from this article by the Libertarian theorist Roderick Long:

Long sees capitalism in its common usage as similar.
By "capitalism" most people mean neither the free market simpliciter nor the prevailing neomercantilist system simpliciter. Rather, what most people mean by "capitalism" is this free-market system that currently prevails in the western world. In short, the term "capitalism" as generally used conceals an assumption that the prevailing system is a free market. And since the prevailing system is in fact one of government favoritism toward business, the ordinary use of the term carries with it the assumption that the free market is government favoritism toward business.

Similarly for socialism, Long writes. He thinks most people mean nothing more specific than "the opposite of capitalism."

Then if "capitalism" is a package-deal term, so is "socialism" -- it conveys opposition to the free market, and opposition to neomercantilism, as though these were one and the same.

And that, I suggest, is the function of these terms: to blur the distinction between the free market and neomercantilism. Such confusion prevails because it works to the advantage of the statist establishment: those who want to defend the free market can more easily be seduced into defending neomercantilism, and those who want to combat neomercantilism can more easily be seduced into combating the free market. Either way, the state remains secure.


Other than to say the present neomercantilist system favors politically connected business, not business as a whole, I will leave further discussion to the comments. And for reference, I will include both a dictionary definition of capitalism and a more precise definition by Rand.

And I will plead guilty to having fallen into the trap of defending neomercantilism, unwittingly. If nothing else, by not explicitly stating up front that this is NOT what I am defending.


My Work Here is not Done

Senator Sessions, we are told in an article linked from these very pages, "began waging his lonely battle on behalf of American workers..." and "Sessions's campaign on behalf of American workers..."

I'm thinking the American Workers are better off with the vibrancy of immigration and the products and economic activity they bring. But don't take my word for it, take John Stossel's


People say that immigrants steal "our" jobs. And yes, they do take some. But they create new jobs, too, lots. When people move to another country and encounter a different culture, they see things in new ways. Some pick the best from each culture and create useful things.

Imagine your life without Google searches, cheap Ikea furniture, YouTube, bicycles, blenders, ATM's. All came from immigrants. New Americans also gave us blow dryers, basketball, football, the first shopping mall, comfortable jeans, even the American hot dog (that came from Germany's frankfurter).


How many jobs did Google "steal?" Librarians?


Immigration Posted by John Kranz at 12:20 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

I can live without Ikea.

Let's not talk about Google though.

Posted by: johngalt at September 17, 2014 2:16 PM
But jk thinks:

I am strangely immune to IKEA's charms as well, but I like its contributions to jobs and GDP.

Posted by: jk at September 17, 2014 2:20 PM

September 16, 2014

Immigration "Reform" defeated by ?

I never heard of Hoss Sessions' effort, campaign or whathaveyou.

I will try to embed the video from this excellent PowerLine article. I didn't realize how far along this effort was, which it must have been for the way Boehner was fighting, and nastily taunting the GOP for blocking last year (as I noted in the comments below). I had thought the umpteen thousand unaccompanied children caused it's deathknell, but article states that Sessions' managed to undermine the effort long ago.

Along the way, a funny thing happened. Sessions’s campaign on behalf of American workers went from quixotic to plausible to victorious. Due largely to his efforts, and those of his growing ranks of allies, there is little chance that Congress will pass an immigration package that sells out American citizens in the near future.
Posted by nanobrewer at 6:27 PM | What do you think? [8]
But nanobrewer thinks:


... I also like the descriptor "chiseled" if anyone's curious. ;-)

@JG notes: On expanded immigration I'm a "YES" but what else is in Speaker Boehner's "package?"

That is the issue. These days, immigration reform means nothing more than glorified amnesty for currently squatting illegals, ridiculously open borders, and not even a nod to things deeply useful, like H1B expansion, for one example.

Secondly, even if Mr. Boehner (sniveling, backstabbing crybaby, OH) could get a "reform" package with even a scintilla of usefulness in it (like more border fence), the chance of the current regime enforcing any part of the USEfullness is ridiculous.

I do not like Sen. Session's populist preening, and am generally in favor of expanding sensible, useful immigration ONCE the border has been secured, not at all the xenophobic position that the media paints the GOP with (which I believe is restricted to the Buchanan wing, with regular caucusing by the survivalists).

Lastly, yes, I am a fan of most of Hugh Hewitt's views, and currently favor his "Measured, Strategic Inactivity" on immigration until the golfing, populist, perfidious, venture-socialist and 100% corrupt set of DC-insiders (most of which are Dem's) has been thoroughly crushed by the 2014 election.

Generally, like most small-L libertarians, I like the idea of expanded immigration, but that cannot exist with the current direction of the country, which is towards an ever-expanding welfare state. The welfare state must be rolled back, again. You can't have open borders with a large welfare state.

Our immigration system is currently broken, and it's sole usefulness at this point, IMO, is another arrow to be shot at the Obamacare-craving, Sheik-bowing, Koch-bashing election-stealers.

Posted by: nanobrewer at September 18, 2014 12:43 AM
But jk thinks:

Heh. Chiseled is good...

I guess we are closer than I feared from your post. The railing at Zuckerburg and Microsoft is <understatement mode>off-putting</understatement mode>. Great American companies are asphyxiating for lack of talent and are told they cannot hire the genius college grads that want to stay here.

I don't think the problem has much to do with fence. Let me try out a brand new analogy:

I see it as identical to marijuana legalization in Colorado. The fence is 100 new drug cops, an MRAP for their no-knock raids and expanded legislation to allow search of citizens' cars and data. "We can't legalize until we've eliminated the black market trade" is the rallying cry of one side. It's all about law and order. Once we establish respect for the law, we can experiment with reduced sentences.

The other option is to provide a legal mechanism to allow the contract. There was concern that high taxes would drive a black market trade, but I think it is safe to say that in Colorado people have overwhelmingly chosen the legal methods.

Posted by: jk at September 18, 2014 10:34 AM
But nanobrewer thinks:


It's all about law and order. [snip] The other option is to provide a legal mechanism to allow the contract.

You lost me a bit here. Which mechanism do you want to ... legalize? Strengthen? What contract?

I might have overspoke about the entire immigration system being broken; what's broken is enforcement. It's a problem on the southern border, and what's broken is bipartisan and widespread. Canada's border is just fine.

The careerist, graftist, "DC-insider" syndrome is at the root of the problem, IMO. A southern fence would take many "rot" problems (e.g., too much/little ICE, $$ to fight crime, too powerful SWAT, etc.) off the table that are offshoots of the root problem.

A fence is really a solid proposition, no pun intended. It's a rallying cry, which the GOP and "small L's" so desperately need, and would solve a ton of "rot" problems with crime & immigration that are all over fly-over country.

A fence is a grass-roots solution, IMO. We need less DC-style "portfolio" solutions, for now.

This lack of leadership/message lends fuel to the anti-Boehner / McConnell chorus (which is aiding the enemy, IMO). So, immigration is one of a long list of problems that has lead to the rise of the tea party. Tea Party "crushing" is again a major problem with McConnell, and the sort of thing that could give us more Alison's.

Back away from my rant back to our topic; would increased H1B's help the Google's of the world? Certainly a fence would not hurt them; they do not want or need wetbacks.

Posted by: nanobrewer at September 18, 2014 1:28 PM
But jk thinks:

I think you provide a legal mechanism to allow immigrants to find work and employers to find workers -- then those "jumping the fence" can truly be considered criminals.

For all intents and purposes there is NO LEGAL WAY TO IMMIGRATE AT ALL. There are way too few H1Bs and the legal channels available to an agricultural worker without close family ties, good luck and a good lawyer are non-extant. So they pay coyotes and risk their life in the desert.

All to get over the fence. The one that we don't need in North Dakota because supply and demand are fairly well-matched (though they'd probably like a few burly Saskatchewanian welders). Match supply and demand with Mexico and provide a legal pathway and you won't really need much of a fence.

Google needs Chinese PhDs -- but also lettuce in the cafeteria which requires agricultural workers. Clean, accommodative hotel rooms maintained by low-skilled immigrants facilitate business.

Posted by: jk at September 18, 2014 2:18 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:


So, increasing the number of H1B visa's would help Zuckerberg et al... got it.

Posted by: nanobrewer at September 19, 2014 12:52 AM
But jk thinks:

I'd hoped to convey a bit more but my typing skills leave much to be desired.

Stossel did a whole show on immigration last night and a segment specifically on the Sessions - Zuckerburg contretemps. I might look for an embed but if there's any way you can catch a repeat airing over the weekend. I'd recommend it highly.

Posted by: jk at September 19, 2014 9:55 AM

LINOS!

There are two guys who make me really angry. One is my former Congressman, Jared Polis. He voted sigma-5 with Speaker Pelosi and financed much pro-government mischief in the Centennial State. But, because he wrote one clever OpEd and accepts campaign contributions in BitCoin, he is feted as "a Democratic Libertarian."

The other is Elon Musk. He, too, is feted as a "libertarian" and has energized liberty lovers to aid his righteous cause in bypassing state dealer requirements. On this, and on private space travel, he is dead on.

But his business is based on the most base crony corporatism imaginable. You pay people to buy his product, you pay his suppliers to develop parts, and you give the company massive loans. The TED-talk, silicon valley glitterati celebrate that he has paid the loans back -- but they were there in the early days and there is no talk of reimbursing Treasury for all the $7500 giveaways they made to wealthy Tesla customers.

This guy has a business that would not employ more than three were it not for subsidies and mandates, yet I am supposed to celebrate him as some kind if Hank Reardon.

Have I established my basic premise here? Today, the WSJ Ed Page details his sweetheart deal from the Silver State on a new battery factory.

Earlier this month Mr. Musk declared Nevada the winner. "It wasn't all about the incentives," he noted. Nevada is "a get-things-done state." Gov. Sandoval surely appreciated that in-kind contribution to his re-election campaign. Mr. Musk also intimated that Nevada made the most logistical sense. Reno is easily accessible by rail and highway to Fremont, and Nevada hosts the only active lithium mines in the U.S.

But if those were the attractions, then why should Nevada have to pay such a steep subsidy price? Tesla will be exempt from property taxes for 10 years and sales taxes for 20 years at a cost of $1.1 billion to taxpayers. Tesla will also get $195 million in transferable tax credits that it can sell to other businesses. Since Nevada has no personal or corporate income tax, Tesla will effectively operate tax-free in the state.

Tesla will also receive a 10% to 30% electricity discount over eight years. The NV Energy public utility will pay for this discount by charging other customers $1.84 more on average per year. Mr. Musk claims the factory will generate all the renewable energy it needs, but the utility discount will pay for back-up power from the grid because renewables provide intermittent energy.

By being connected to the grid, Tesla will also be able to exploit Nevada's "net-metering" regulations to sell its excess renewable power back to the utility at the retail price, which can be up to 50% higher than wholesale. So Tesla can buy electricity at a discount, and then sell it for a premium.


They are different from GE, how?

But Keith Arnold thinks:

Ironic: the maker of electric cars needs a 30% discount on electricity?

All that being said, I do hope Jeff Keith and Dave Rude's new automobile company gets around to that flying car I keep hearing about...

Posted by: Keith Arnold at September 16, 2014 2:50 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

Amen, JK. Tesla is GM with a fancy logo, nothing more. I expect their taxpayer-funded phaeton will be as much a flop as the Volt.

Not, for the very-connected Mr. Musk, of course, which again is a root problem. I wish McConnell would keep pounding away at the Venture Socialist crowd.

Posted by: nanobrewer at September 18, 2014 1:57 PM

It only knock's once!

Education Posted by John Kranz at 11:07 AM | What do you think? [3]
But johngalt thinks:

LOL. What are they over there in England now, 'mericans?

Posted by: johngalt at September 16, 2014 11:53 AM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Worse - Californians. Californians who text.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at September 16, 2014 2:59 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Nah, KA. That would have been "educayshunal oppertunatees."

Her Majesty's realm has slipped, but not THAT much!

Posted by: johngalt at September 16, 2014 3:11 PM

September 15, 2014

Kentucky Woman

"She gets to know you."

And when Kentucky voters get to know her, they may make Kentucky Republicans wish they had nominated "TEA Party favorite" Matt Bevin instead of... ol' Mitch.

Doggone, I really hope the GOP swings enough seats to control the senate without McConnell because, like this CNN commentator says, I'm one of those who sees him as part of the problem.

I'm watching this race real closely because to me it could be the biggest indictment of politics as usual. If Republicans win the senate because Barack Obama hasn't led, but McConnell doesn't return to the senate to lead it because he's part of, a big part of the dysfunction in Washington, this could be a race that really shows how the public is just tired of the way both parties are running this place.

"She goin' to own you."

But nanobrewer thinks:

McConnel has been generally unphelpful and most un-leaderlike, IIRC. Boehner doubles down by repeatedly going out of his way to be nasty, and do things (specifically, to try to force an Immigration Reform bill) that really hurt conservatism and the Party. Hurting the GOP may not terribly important 'round here perhaps, but think about the title he ran for just 3 years ago.

He's given the media way too many weapons with which to continue the rhetorical beating (as if they need the help!) of GOP and the Tea Party. This to me says he's more than just a politician, but a rank and low-down DC Insider. Of the 2-3 times I'm aware of these low-down maneuvers, the only explanation I can see -- and I follow the inside-baseball aspect of politics to a certain degree -- is to ingratiate himself to media and the liberal cognoscente.

With friends like this.... McConnel I can stomach, Boehner needs to be crushed. IMHO

Here's what Morning Joe had to say:
http://www.truthrevolt.org/news/joe-scarborough-hugh-hewitt-show-boehners-got-go

Boehner and the leadership don’t talk to their members. A lot of times, I’ll call my buddies and I’ll say hey, what’s going on? What are guys doing? And they go, ‘we wish we knew.’ I say well, when’s the last time Boehner told you what the strategy was, because Newt sometimes talked, as you know, too much. They say well, Boehner doesn’t talk to us. Well, what do you mean he doesn’t talk to you? They say he never tells us what’s coming next. We’re guessing half the time.

Sounds like Obama's style of "leadership", if y'ask me....

Posted by: nanobrewer at September 16, 2014 4:46 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Wow - strong letter to follow, eh? Leave the conversation for an hour and look what happens.

I'm surprised at the visceral reaction to Boehner/McConnell. These guys must continually thread the needle and have done as good a job as anyone could, IMHO. No really egregious legislation has passed since Boehner became speaker. When we only control one half of Congress, the best we can hope for is to block the bad stuff. Asking them to get anything worthwhile past Reid or Obama is unrealistic.

Look - someone is going to hold the Senate seat from Kentucky. Can you name one Kentucky Democrat that you'd prefer over McConnell?

"Better to let Democrats take the blame..." - really? We've been trying that strategy since 2008 and now we have Obamacare, $17 trillion in debt, snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in Iraq/Afghanistan, lost all credibility as a world leader, our enemies are stronger and our allies weaker, Sotamayor/Kagen are in SCOTUS and the DC Circuit has been packed with libs (total of 53 Circuit Court appointments overall) and it may take a generation to rebuild our military - not to mention the abuses of imPOTUS power and scandals. Yet, I see no sign of the presumed popular uprising of which y'all speak. Newsflash - the general electorate ain't all that engaged or astute. If the Republican's win the Senate, (and that's a big "if"), it will be a squeaker not a landslide. If we lose Kentucky, we basically have no shot at a majority. Then, Obama will be free to pick whichever Supreme Court nominees he likes in the final two years, as some may retire, because Senate Majority Leader Reid will extend the nuclear option to Supreme Court nominees.

If y'all aren't ready to pull on every oar (and lever) to take back the Senate, then why expect the average citizen to care? And God help our Republic.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at September 16, 2014 6:08 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

BR: And now we have Obamacare (McConnell voted for funding Obamacare), $17 trillion in debt (McConnell voted for the debt hike)... Continually thread the needle?

Here are some of the most egregious McConnell votes: http://bit.ly/1t9h59N

The lack of new bad laws owes more to the House than to McConnell, I think. McConnell's voting history sort of demonstrates he's rowing those oars against us as often as not. This isn't a case of the perfect being the enemy of the good; this is a case of a man who disdains people like us and is bold about proving it, with his votes and his mouth, because he believes that no matter how much he betrays us, we'll keep sending him back to Washington to screw us some more.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at September 16, 2014 6:35 PM
But jk thinks:

I think a couple of my blog brothers might be confusing the constant blogger/Tea Party opposition to GOP leadership as actual misfeasance on McConnel's part.

There were a couple disappointments in your evil ten list, but if you are in the US Senate any amount of time, you will have some bad votes for things you have traded, or taken procedural votes, or made a mistake.

Part D and TARP I were Republican initiatives. Like 'em or not, they were President Bush's deals and he was at best taking one for the team.

Debt limit, funding &c. Yup, he did not do a government shutdown which could have hurt the party. I know there is not 100% agreement, but to present that as proof of prodigality is unfair.

I've come to accept that the "wave" is not on the menu this year, and it is become sadly clear that Colorado will not help with the +6: the Scion will keep his seat with #waronwomen ads.

I'm foursquare with The Refugee -- you guys are willing to give up a GOP seat, enjoy two more years of "Majority Leader Reid."

Posted by: jk at September 16, 2014 6:52 PM
But jk thinks:

Brother jg inks to CNN (egads!) and "but McConnell doesn't return to the senate to lead it because he's part of, a big part of the dysfunction in Washington..."

I love that part of dysfunction in Washington! I'm ready to give him a medal for that dysfunction in Washington -- he is stopping a lot of Democrat nonsense.

Posted by: jk at September 16, 2014 6:55 PM
But johngalt thinks:

But not the important nonsense, as that might be bad for the party.

Posted by: johngalt at September 17, 2014 12:20 AM

Quote of the Day

All Hail.

He's a better speechwriter than his speechwriters, a better political director than his political director, and to hear President Obama tell it--or, to be precise, to hear the New York Times retell others' retelling of Obama's telling it--he's a better terrorist than the terrorists: -- James Taranto

But johngalt thinks:

He's always the smartest man in the room. Don't believe me? Just ask him.

Posted by: johngalt at September 15, 2014 3:48 PM

Cap!

Some Deepak Lal Libertarianism, with a good pedigree -- and associated with Senator Rand Paul (HOSS KY);

Senator Paul has been a longtime proponent of the "Weinberger Doctrine," articulated by Reagan-era defense secretary Caspar Weinberger. It has six main elements:

1. No overseas commitment of U.S. forces to combat should be made unless a vital interest of the United States or a U.S. ally is threatened.

2. If U.S. forces are committed, there should be total support -- that is, sufficient resources and manpower to complete the mission.

3. If committed, U.S. forces must be given clearly defined political and military objectives. The forces must be large enough to be able to achieve these objectives.

4. There must be a continual assessment between the commitment and capability of U.S. forces and the objectives. These must be adjusted if necessary.

5. Before U.S. forces are committed, there must be reasonable assurances that the American people and their elected representatives support such a commitment.

6. Commitment of U.S. forces to combat must be the last resort.


Count me in

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 2:58 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Huzzah!

I vaguely remember when this obvious policy was reinstated. I assumed it was never changed. Clearly it is not in place now.

Posted by: johngalt at September 15, 2014 3:46 PM

Self-driving Cars: Bringing Liberty!

We've some skeptics (I like to call them "deniers") around here to the proposition that self-driving cars will add liberty to our lives. I imagine my ThreeSources siblings probably fought the washing machine, ATM, and all medicine that did not involve leeches...

But let's not rehash that argument. I saw an interesting and pro-liberty application: expanding educational choice.

With commutes shorter and more productive, the distance that parents will consider logistically feasible will significantly increase. That could exponentially expand the number of educational options that parents consider within driving distance. Using Private School Review's search feature, I found 12 private schools within three miles of my Arizona home, 34 schools within five miles, 69 schools within ten miles, 234 schools within 25 miles, and 304 schools within 50 miles. Now that's choice!

Technology Posted by John Kranz at 1:17 PM | What do you think? [3]
But dagny thinks:

Please do not tell my nine-year-old that the automatic car is going to take her to school without Mom or Dad. Guaranteed she will find a way to re-program it (Captain Kirk style) to take her to the mall.

Posted by: dagny at September 15, 2014 1:39 PM
But jk thinks:

That hacking skill will serve her better than anything she'll miss at school. <wink />

Posted by: jk at September 15, 2014 1:51 PM
But johngalt thinks:

LOL! That would indeed be an innovation.

I know you jest but to clarify: I'm for self-driving cars, just not the Google variety, which conspicuously lack manual override controls. I want the people version, not the sheeple model.

Posted by: johngalt at September 15, 2014 3:44 PM

I'll be 92 in 2052...

Bomb_92yearold.gif

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 12:07 PM | What do you think? [0]

September 14, 2014

Review Corner

The sanctuary had looked good two hours ago, from the other end of Denver. It had looked like sweet respite wrapped up in what the doctor ordered. Here, up close and personal, from the corner of Colfax and oblivion, it didn't seem like such a sure bet.
That one hits home. Our band had a house gig on Colfax and Oblivion and my apartment was nearby. Sarah Hoyt is a Coloradan, but even more familiarly, she is a fixture in the liberty movement, blogging community, and social media. I believe our own blog brother Keith is her Facebook friend.

And yet, Mr. nonfiction guy had not read any of her work. A couple months ago, Instapundit highlighted a chance to get Wings for 99 cents on Kindle (I paid full price -- now her mother can get that operation...) I finally got to it a few weeks ago and I was enthralled.

The short story is underrated to begin with, but Hoyt's imagination takes it to new heights. You never know if you'll be in ancient Carthage (Carthago Delenda Est), or on another planet, or if characters will end up being robots or gods or humans or vampires or one of her fans' favorites Nnnnnuuuuuunnnnnnns in Ssspaaaaacccceee! The unifying theme is that they are damn good stories and the prose is brilliant.

What if Marlowe weren't the one who wrote Marlowe's plays? What if they were the work of some noblewoman, some female scholar that Marlowe kept in his room, writing plays for Marlowe's credit and profit?

The other great opportunity for a book of short stories is that one of them might touch you very deeply. And so it is with the title cut as it were, Wings. MS had reduced my faculties to play guitar and completely taken my ability to climb onstage with one. My lovely bride lost much art and music with her stroke. Yet I play on the world's smallest stage and she has adapted some crafts and learned new ones. Wings speaks to the indomitable inner spirit of art.
In the darkness it was hard to tell, nor did I care. I, Kimon, was in no state to help the dying or bury the dead. I, Kimon, was but a man walking in the land of the living by mistake, an animated corpse that moved still, that moved, invariably, towards his certain end.

I suspect all the Heinlein fans 'round these parts would enjoy her work. I enjoyed Wings greatly -- five stars.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 10:17 AM | What do you think? [0]

September 13, 2014

Atlas Shrugged Part III - From the other side

And then there is the predictable movie critic review, included in fairness and objectivity, and to illustrate that, yes, the movie has flaws. But then, not every movie has the production values of 'Gone With the Wind' or "Titanic.'

From two scenes about the ultimate destiny of Dagny's sister-in-law, which seem to have been awkwardly shoehorned into the movie after the fact, to a love scene in L.A.'s Union Station destined to enter the Bad Movie Sex Scene Hall of Fame, “ASIII” feels like the most scattershot entry in the trilogy, despite a relative rally toward competence with the second movie.

Ayn Rand's books remain in print and, for better or worse, continue to shape minds and win converts. For all the lasting impact of her literature, it's difficult to imagine anyone not already on board with her ideas being swayed by these singularly awful screen adaptations.

Not just awful. SINGULARLY awful. As in, "The worst movies of all time" awful. This gratuitous ending, to me, betrays a feeling that as much as the reviewer tried to besmirch the creative product of other's efforts with the smug "anyone could have done better than this" attitude of one who has never attempted to do anything himself, he still needed to take one last parting shot.

Thus ends my review of his review.


The face without pain or fear or guilt

Dagny and I saw it last night. In every scene, actually, but particularly, when Leader Thompson attempted to negotiate a "name your price" deal with Galt.

The movie was superb. Like the book, it was too short, but you'd expect me to say that. No, I realize that every nuance that I know and love from the book could not be included. And Dagny regretted that Hank Rearden was almost completely left on the cutting room floor. But we are "steeped in the lore." I fear that so much was included and happened so quickly that the neophyte will miss many points. But he won't miss the big point. And if he gets that one he will be back for viewing after viewing. I think the most important message is loud and clear:

"I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine."

"The world you desire can be won. It exists... It is real... It is possible... It is yours."

The title of this post is my answer to the question: Who is John Galt? For fun I did a global search on that phrase and found a very interesting blog by one jg lenhart. (Et tu, jg?)


This blog presents the non-contradictory explanation for God's Nature and Grace...which is the key to resisting Universalism.

But the first thing I saw of it was this page which, among other impressive insights in Part II, Chapter 9, included this about the title phrase:

Eddie – Dagny is Eddie's sound moral code. Not only does he think this moral code is flawed, he found this out at the same moment he discovered what this moral code was. Eddie is reeling. And since he is in the middle of the scale, he can go to the negative side very easily. He ends up going to his only other "friend". Eddie's confessional is no longer set apart from the story. With this visit, the worker enters the narrative. "You know, I never thought you cared whether you saw me or not, me or anybody, you seemed so complete in yourself, and that's why I liked to talk to you, because I felt that you always understood, but nothing could hurt you." The worker is not Eddie's sound moral code because the relationship is one sided; he doesn't know what this worker stands for. Eddie does the overwhelming majority of talking (praying?). "Do you know what's strange about your face? You look as if you've never known pain or fear or guilt…" Isn't that the kind of face God would have?
But Jk thinks:

The lovely bride and I liked a lot. I'd say the third is the best, and that most people could get a lot just watching Part III.

No, not cinematic masterpieces, and yes, I spent the rest of the evening thinking of grace notes I wish they'd snuck in. But the truth to the book is important and under appreciated by some fans.

Posted by: Jk at September 13, 2014 5:24 PM

September 12, 2014

All Hail Jonah!

Imagine, just for the sake of argument that, say, the State Department's Jen Psaki sat down to interview an Islamic State fighter over coffee.
Psaki: "Hi. What's your name?"
Mohammad: "Mohammed."
Psaki: "Were you named after your father?"
Mohammed: "No. I am named after the One True Prophet Mohammed."
Psaki: "Interesting. So what's the name of your organization?"
Mohammed: "The Islamic State."
Psaki: "Oh, that's exotic. What does that do?"
Mohammed: "We have sworn to Allah that we will bring about a global caliphate as he commands us through Mohammed and the Koran. Inshallah, we will kill the pagans, Jews, and infidels and convert the Christians to the one true faith.
Psaki: "Oh my, that sounds like quite a project. So, let me ask you, what religion should I put down here, Mohammed."
Mohammed: "I am Muslim. I will give my life for Islam. It's right there in the name: Islamic State."
Psaki: "Well, I can see that this will just remain one of those mysteries. I'll just put down agnostic."
-- Jonah Goldberg [subscribe]

Scots, Wha Hae?

David Boaz offers a balanced view of the Scottish Independence debate -- unsurprisingly, from a liberty perspective "There's some evidence that small countries enjoy more freedom and prosperity than larger countries."

Critics of independence often say that Scotland is subsidized by wealthier England. The analysis is controversial, but it does appear that the United Kingdom spends about £1,500 ($2,500) more per person in Scotland than it does nationally. If it is true, as many British conservatives say, that Scots are whiny subsidy-suckers, then take them off the dole. It's easy for a country with 52 members in the British parliament to demand more money from the British central government. An independent Scotland would have to create its own prosperity, and surely the people who produced the Enlightenment are smart enough to discover the failures of socialism pretty quickly if they become free, independent, and responsible for their own future.

What attracted me was the suggestion that the Scots provide the left's votes and that the rest of parliament would move right (imagine spinning off Vermont and Oregon). That seems like it would have some value to the world. And as a vocal supporter of Colorado's rural counties' "51st State" movement, I do like the idea of smaller organizational units.

The WSJ Ed Page (London) is a lot more skeptical, calling it Folly and Farce in Glasgow

Part of the problem may be that London, and the leaders of the No campaign, have mostly eschewed questions of national identity and culture. Visit the website of the Better Together campaign, and you'll find little discussion of what it means to be a Scot within Great Britain.

That avoidance strategy was on display at a recent No rally in Glasgow. Ken Macintosh, a Labour member of the Scottish Parliament, listed all of the material things that Scots would lose should they choose independence. Unfortunately, he picked the wrong item to start off with. "Do you want to lose the BBC?" Mr. Macintosh asked a crowd of mostly supportive Scots. "Yes!" a few people replied, and laughter erupted.


Somebody tweeted an article that predicted collapse of world stock markets -- I'm not sure I see the correlation there.

But Texas has more cause than our Scottish brothers. If I were they, I'd secede and join the UK. Get Duck Dynasty of the Beyah Beyah See.

Posted by John Kranz at 3:35 PM | What do you think? [2]
But Keith Arnold thinks:

"... imagine spinning off Vermont and Oregon..."

Don't tease...

I'm not sure about the fact of whether Scotland is a net tax revenue gainer or loser. You cite that critics says Scotland is subsidized by England, but I've also read the reverse, that Scotland pays more in taxes than it receives in benefits. For the moment, I'm assuming that the latter is true, but a significant part of that supports the British bureaucracy, and is therefore spent in London.

I've been trying to follow the arguments. Essentially, it seems that the No voters are highlighting the costs they'll bear financially, while the Yes voters are highlighting "Freedom!" As a disinterested party, I think I fall into the Yes Scotland group, primarily because liberty and self-governance should trump money.

Will independence cost them more? It depends on what they do with what we call "entitlements" over here. I'm sure there are a lot of real-world considerations that would come into the discussion. National security, socialized medicine, and infrastructure all cost serious money, and they'll have to decide what they'll do about those issues. Are they a liberty-minded people, or will they make their decision based on finances and the physical world.

I like freedom, but I canna change the laws of physics.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at September 12, 2014 5:44 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Conversely to br'er Keith, I'm inclined to believe that Scotland is indeed subsidized by England. Having such a large bloc of left-wing votes gives them tremendous bargaining power within the left caucus. They've had decades in which to play the special favor game to the hilt.

The NO movement is opposed precisely for the same reason liberty lovers should be in favor - it will reduce the power of the collectivists, in both nations. Here's hoping that Scotland's nationalist pride is strong enough to overcome their 'taste for the teat.'

Posted by: johngalt at September 13, 2014 1:24 PM

Otequay of the Ayday

Historically speaking, though, would it have been better for humanity to avoid an "Age of Pollution" and wallow in a miserable pre-Industrial Age, where poverty, death, disease and violence, were far more prevalent in our short miserable lives? Or would we have chosen global warming? I think the latter. And I think we'd do it again.

All-hail Harsanyi - 'Global Warming was Worth it'

Plus a bonus - Harsanyi's reductive graph of the history of the world:

Harsanyi%20Industrial%20Revolution%20graph-6.jpg

But jk thinks:

Hail! (Aand if you get in an impish mood, share that with dagny's FB-interlocutor on inequality. This McCloskeyesque graph makes my point better than the S&P500 charts I posted.)

Posted by: jk at September 12, 2014 3:32 PM

l'Affaire Mann

Don't know who is following the fun of Dr. Michael Mann's denying his responsibility for the famed "hockey stick" diagram -- yet bloggers found it cited in his CV.

The always-quote-worthy other litigant, Mark Steyn, does not disappoint:

One is inclined to be generous. My old friend Irving Caesar, lyricist of "Tea For Two" and "Just A Gigolo", had a legendary Broadway flop with a show called My Dear Public. The reviews were scathing, and singled Caesar out particularly, as he was the show's producer, and lyricist, and co-author and co-composer. The following morning he bumped into Oscar Hammerstein and said, "So they didn't like it. But why pick on me?" That's Mann's attitude to the 1999 hockey stick he co-authored: So it's misleading and over-simplified. But why pick on me?


September 11, 2014

Happy Patriot's Day

Took this myself on 9/11/2004

Posted by John Kranz at 6:54 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

"And, one day, this flag will fly over your "White House! I promise you, we are coming!"

-Capitalism, Egoism, Reason

Posted by: johngalt at September 12, 2014 2:58 PM

All Hail Taranto!

It was a hit yesterday!

taranto140911.gif

But Keith Arnold thinks:

As far as I'm concerned, Carney's new job is a win for us. His primary duty is still to lie, cover, and shill for the SCOAMF, but now, instead of being paid to do the job by us taxpayers, he's now being paid by a private sector employer. I'm not paying for it anymore.

Truth be told, this Administration and the fourth estate are so in bed with each other that this isn't a career change so much as it is a lateral from the Home Office to a wholly-owned subsidiary.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at September 12, 2014 1:47 AM
But jk thinks:

Agreed. I don't think anybody is surprised -- but is that not part of the problem?

My unserious proposal to resurrect the fabled Rocky Mountain News was a reference to this. Leafing through the Denver Post or watching the local teevee news, it is rather easy to figure out where the Low Information Voter gets what little information he or she has.

To most of the world outside ThreeSources, CNN is a "reliable," "moderate," "unbiased" news source -- not like eeevil FOXNews.

There are many challenges I accept, but the media field-tilt drives me mad.

Posted by: jk at September 12, 2014 10:29 AM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

"To most of the world outside ThreeSources, CNN is a "reliable," "moderate," "unbiased" news source..."

Then why is it that the only place I ever see CNN is in airport lounges and dentists' waiting rooms? Seems like no one who has a say in the matter chooses CNN. Close the airports, and CNN's ratings would make a sonic boom as they penetrated the MSNBC barrier.

"Fox=Evil!" seems to be one of those oft-repeated lies that gather the panache of truth through repetition. The Hollywood left, the paid pundits, and the tinfoil-hat brigade that spends all its allowance on bumper stickers all keep telling me that, but Fox' popularity and ratings would seem to say that Average Joe knows better.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at September 12, 2014 1:02 PM

War on Terror = War on Collectivism

On this 13th Anniversary of 9/11 I will post a 9 year old article by Atlas Society Founder David Kelley (who is also a Consulting Producer on the Atlas Shrugged films, the third of which premieres nation wide tomorrow.) The Ideas That Promote Terrorism. Hint: It is not, primarily, religious faith. I will excerpt rather liberally:

The war on jihadist terrorism is a battle of ideas, a battle against the ideology of Islamism from which the terrorists emerged.

Though Osama bin Laden and other terrorists constantly invoke the Islamic past, their ideology is actually a modern one. It has more in common with fundamentalist movements in other religions, and with secular totalitarian ideologies like Marxism, than with any historic school of Islamic thought. What all of these movements have in common is a hatred for the values of modern liberal society, values that we in America tend to take for granted because they are so much a part of our culture.

The Islamists, like the communist and fascist totalitarians, hate individualism. There is no room in their worldview for individual freedom of thought, or for the pursuit of individual happiness. Mawlana Mawdudi, founder of Jama`at-i Islami in India and Pakistan and one of the most important and influential theorists of Islamism, advocated a theocratic state in which, as he said, "no one can regard any field of his affairs as personal and private. Considered from this aspect the Islamic state bears a kind of resemblance to the Fascist and Communist states." The Islamists want a society of rigid orthodoxy and censorship, just as communists sought to enforce Marxist dogmas and punish deviants.

(...)

Ultimately, Islamism is not a positive vision of a good society. Beyond the slogans of imposing sharia and the fantasy of restoring the caliphate, Islamists have no real political philosophy or program, and in the few places like Afghanistan where their ideas have been put into practice, the result has been chaos, poverty, and oppression. Islamism is essentially a negative movement, a movement of hostile opposition to the modern world. And, at the extreme, it descends into sheer nihilistic destruction and cult of death, the glorification of killing themselves as well as others, the reveling in gruesome bloody spectacle that is more decadent and degraded than the worst filth coming out of Hollywood.

Those are the ideas that spawned the terrorists: the hatred of individualism, of reason, of progress, of capitalism, of freedom and secular government. Those are the very sources of modern civilization, the sources of all the benefits that we enjoy in America, the benefits we would like to see enjoyed by people everywhere. This is not a conflict between Islam and the West. It is a conflict within the Islamic world, and within the West, between those who accept the values of modern civilization and the nihilists who reject them.

In return for my bald-faced theft of so many paragraphs for their unauthorized reprinting here, I have left a comment on the linked article. The subject: Islamists' claim that they "love death for Allah, like our enemies love life."

UPDATE:

In this 2-week old article from Fox News, contributor Walid Phares gets the problem correct, but the solution all wrong.

"The problem in Western liberal societies... is that we don't act against ideology, we don't have legislation against ideology as the Germans or French have against Nazism, for example," Phares said. "And because we haven't had this possibility, we are waiting - law enforcement are waiting for [Choudary] to make a mistake, to make a mistake with the law."

The correct response to bad ideological speech is good ideological speech, not censorship.


Libertario Delenda Est!

Why libertarians lose at the polls 101:

This is funny but it's not as an astute and relatively handsome commenter points out. The Being Classically Liberal page considered changing its Milton Friedman profile pic, and asked for suggestions. The primary was in some smoke filled room in the back of the convention center, but we were presented with three choices:

vote_hayek.gif

Got it? Three choices, three comments. "Like" your choice and the moderator can quickly see the totals.

Umm, but there are 88 comments include the general People's Front of Judea "OMG, Friedman was a Statist!" plus outside selections, the occasional video link or meme or just a separate comment with a vote (like writing in the name the nominee). Jumpin' Jehoshaphat people this is not an Article V convention.

This is how libertarians vote; this is why we can't have nice things.

But johngalt thinks:

Somebody say Libertarians can't win at the polls? Libertarian Tyler Bagley has withdrawn from his race and endorsed one of the "Oligarchy Party" candidates. (You'll have to click through to see which one. Here's a hint:

"After analyzing Don's agenda and meeting with him, it became apparent that we agree on most matters of importance to the people of Adams and Jefferson counties," Bagley said. "I'm confident Don Ytterberg will improve things for District Seven."
Posted by: johngalt at September 11, 2014 4:02 PM

Otequay of the Ayday

"But the sad thing about this is, even if both Roberts and Perdue lose, expect the establishment to learn nothing from the experience. Despite a lengthy history of long-term incumbent Republicans getting tossed out on their ears in red state general elections due to corruption and disconnection from their home state, they will still insist loudly and publicly that the safest path to more Republican seats is to continue electing the seasoned guy and the incumbent. It's up to voters and donors to stop buying this obviously false argument."

From They Told Me If I Voted for the Establishment, This Would Not Happen by Leon H. Wolf.


The President's Speech

I yelled this at the TV -- but Brett LoGiurato did something about it!

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 10:30 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

That passage is absolutely post-worthy. I gave it a nod in a comment last night, the pertinent part of which I'll repeat here:

But they have declared for themselves, in this territory, a new Islamic State. The people it subjugates recognize its authority, or flee, or have been murdered. And what other government recognized the newly declared independent nation of thirteen colonies in 1776?

But most egregious of all, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is not Islamic? What color is the sky in your reality, Mr. President?

It seems obvious to me that he was attempting, in his feeble and clueless way, to discredit the ideological movement behind IS and at the same time draw a line between that ideology and the Islamic faith. But he botched it. Badly. Dangerously so.

Posted by: johngalt at September 11, 2014 11:07 AM

But, I'm a Udall -- We Don't Have To!


For the first time in CBS4 history, an incumbent US Senator has declined to debate his opponent live on our air.

But johngalt thinks:

Udall is actually doing Gardner a favor because a televised debate would allow voters to see that the horns on top of Gardner's head in Udall's political ads are, in fact, real.

And when Udall, err, Gardner talked about abortion and birth control every time he opened his mouth, even when asked about other issues that actually matter to voters, that would just look really bad for Udall, err, Gardner. Sorry, Freudian slip.

And beyond that, Udall's positions and rhetorical skill are just so far superior to those of REPUBLICAN Cory Gardner that he would just crush the woman-hating, misogynistic, anti-woman, abortion felonizing, male chauvinist Republican.

Posted by: johngalt at September 11, 2014 11:18 AM

September 10, 2014

All Hail Taranto!

Meanwhile Barack Obama, who has been given to fatuous pronouncements like "The tide of war is receding" and "I was elected to end wars, not start them," is about to give a speech making the case for renewing the war on terror. If it lives up to its billing, it will amount to a repudiation of what we hawks used to deride as "the Sept. 10 mentality." And on Sept. 10, no less. -- James Taranto
War on Terror Posted by John Kranz at 4:22 PM | What do you think? [5]
But johngalt thinks:

I don't expect this speech to call for renewing the war on terror, precisely because that would amount to a repudiation of his entire foreign policy. I expect it to call for more of what many view as the least effective part of the preceding counter terrorism strategy in Iraq - essentially, nation building. Rather than swiftly and certainly "breaking things and killing people" in the pirate camps that fly the Islamic State flag, the president instead seems intent on a long, vague and expensive program of training and equipping "moderate" Syrian militias. The emphasis here, is on the expensive.

Posted by: johngalt at September 10, 2014 5:13 PM
But Terri thinks:

I thought for certain you would be detailing this quote today which I thought was brilliant.

"A rejoinder to this evaluation is that the fateful decision was made not by Bush but by Obama--that it was he who transformed hard-won victory into disaster by precipitously withdrawing all troops in 2011. We think that's true, but it's not a counterargument. Instead it is further evidence that the intervention was strategically flawed in overestimating the durability of public support for the war effort. By 2008 opinion had turned decisively against the war. Had it not, it's unlikely Obama would have been a serious presidential candidate."

Posted by: Terri at September 10, 2014 6:12 PM
But jk thinks:

Yours is true, trenchant, and important, Terri. But mine was funny.

Thanks. I've shared my confliction but Taranto -- and your exact quote -- describes where I find myself exactly. No one has 20/20 foresight, but had President Bush and VP Cheney tried to sell a pair of 11 year nation-building exercises with flakey and corrupt partners, some of those votes would have been more narrow.

Posted by: jk at September 10, 2014 7:18 PM
But Terri thinks:

Spot on there. And yes, yours had me laughing. All Hail Taranto!

Posted by: Terri at September 11, 2014 8:25 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Taranto is ironical here, and "on Sept. 10, no less" had me chuckling. But if you want funny, look no further back than "Beware foreign glazing entanglements" on His Refugeeness' latest post.

Yes, it is true. I kill me.

Posted by: johngalt at September 11, 2014 12:40 PM

Filthy Profiteers!

The humanity. Sign the petition! (You can click the link to read it without signing it...)

Free weed, man!

After the passage of Proposition 215 on November 5, 1996 in California, medical cannabis dispensaries in San Francisco were handing out "compassion"--free medical cannabis--to patients in need. Getting medicine when you were low income and out of money was no problem--just ask, and they would give, even if it was only a joint. The dispensaries gladly provided it. Disabled patients could get access to their medicine reliably in the absence of insurance. This went on for years, but has now fallen apart.

Most dispensaries no longer give compassion--as many enjoy windfall profits. Disabled and low-income patients can no longer sustain rising prices for their cannabis medicine. They are suffering and driving up healthcare costs. The City of Berkeley, CA recently enacted laws that require cannabis dispensaries to provide at no cost at least 2% of their top shelf medicine to very low income patients. San Francisco patients need this, too.

This petition is to the City and County of San Francisco to enact similar laws to require cannabis dispensaries and delivery services to give a minimum of one gram per day per patient of any strain of the patient's choice of their top shelf medicine at no charge to qualified disabled and low income patients who present documented financial need and residency.


And Doritos!

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

"Whooooa, but we're taxed enough already, duuude!"

Posted by: johngalt at September 10, 2014 3:50 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

I hear rumor that the drive to require free pot or the poor was spearheaded by 7-Eleven. Market forces predict the prices of Fritos and Twinkies to go through the roof.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at September 10, 2014 5:51 PM
But jk thinks:

You're going to ask poor, disabled people to buy their own munchies? Heartless. Why when Prop 215 passed, the occasional Mallo Bar or Doritos was considered "compassion" and beyond the profit-seekers.

Posted by: jk at September 10, 2014 7:23 PM


September 9, 2014

Planning your Friday evening yet?

Visit the Official Atlas Shrugged Movie Web Site!

--

But johngalt thinks:

Alas, show times are not yet posted for any of the theatres near me. It's a communist plot!

Posted by: johngalt at September 9, 2014 4:50 PM
But jk thinks:

Ellsworth Toohey's column has a complete listing.

Posted by: jk at September 9, 2014 5:02 PM

All Hail Taranto!

taranto140909.gif

But nanobrewer thinks:

It's so bad that I've heard his backswing is having hiccups!

Speech tonight? Yawn; I'm going to put on Facebook my new moniker for him - please help spread it. Ready?

imPOTUS.

Posted by: nanobrewer at September 10, 2014 8:37 AM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Here are your drinking rules, Brer Keith: do a shot every time imPOTUS (love it) says, "Let me be clear." The Refugee would not suggest doing a shot every time he stammers as we would all die of alcohol poisoning.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at September 10, 2014 10:34 AM
But dagny thinks:

every time he says, "unprecedented?"

Posted by: dagny at September 10, 2014 11:20 AM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Friends! What did my liver ever do to you?

imPOTUS is a winner. I'm still alternating between SCOAMF and Boy King Narcissus I, but imPOTUS has a nice zing to it.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at September 10, 2014 12:24 PM
But jk thinks:

Facebook to the rescue!

Posted by: jk at September 10, 2014 6:01 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"Now let's make two things clear. ISIL is not Islamic. No religion condones the killing of innocents. And the vast majority of ISIL's victims have been Muslim. And ISIL is certainly not a state. It was formerly al Qaeda's affiliate in Iraq, and it's taken advantage of sectarian strife and serious civil war to gain territory on both sides of the Iraq-Syrian border. It is recognized by no government, nor by the people it subjugates. ISIL is a terrorist organization."

Okay, terrorist organization, fine. But they have declared for themselves, in this territory, a new Islamic State. The people it subjugates recognize its authority, or flees, or have been murdered. And what other government recognized the newly declared independent nation of thirteen colonies in 1776?

But most egregious of all, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is not Islamic? What color is the sky in your reality, Mr. President?

Posted by: johngalt at September 11, 2014 12:22 AM

Quote of the Day

Daniel Akst at the WSJ thinks he's Review Corner -- talking on Richard Branson's "The Virgin Way: Everything I Know About Leadership."

Still, leadership can be learned to some extent, and Mr. Branson's breezy volume touches on some important topics, even if it does at one point quote Willie Horton --rather than Willie Sutton --on the reason for robbing banks: "because thatss where the money is." (Fans of the Detroit Tigers and Michael Dukakis will each remember a different Willie Horton, but neither man should be confused with the famous bank robber.)


If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

I like Sally Kohn. We're polar opposites, but at least she is principled. And in today's column she compliments... the TEA Party.

This is, of course, what the Tea Party has been impressively adept at doing - choosing uncompromising candidates to run in primaries, deeply threatening the mainstream Republican establishment by not being afraid of losing, and thereby pulling the Republican Party's stance and leadership on issues decisively to the right. This is an even more impressive accomplishment given that, on most every issue, the Tea Party is out of step with mainstream American voters. Meanwhile, the opposite is true for progressives - from protecting reproductive freedom to passing sensible gun safety laws to raising taxes on the rich to strengthening public education, the progressive left represents a majority, and sometimes a strong majority, of the American people. And yet we can’t seem to convert those beliefs into concrete and uncompromising political power.

"These aren't the mainstream American voters you are looking for."


Barack Obama, Rand Paul and Broken Windows

Richard Cohen, in today's WaPo, draws an excellent parallel between the law enforcement concept of addressing broken windows and Obama's treatment of the rising chaos in the world.

The term "broken windows" comes from a 1982 article in the then-Boston-based Atlantic Monthly. Its title was in fact "Broken Windows," and the authors were two academics, James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling. Here is an example: "Consider a building with a few broken windows. If the windows are not repaired, the tendency is for vandals to break a few more windows. Eventually, they may even break into the building, and if it's unoccupied, perhaps become squatters or light fires inside."

The crux of Cohen's argument is that Obama's lack of response to the action of petty dictators and nascent terror groups has allowed them critical mass and emboldened them to escalate to bigger ploys. The Refugee will not provide further pulled quotes; the column is short and worth the read.

Cohen did not link Rand Paul to his point about dealing with the world's criminals, but The Refugee is going to. Like President Obama, Sen. Paul seems willing to overlook a little broken glass here and there until the danger is so clear and large that it becomes difficult and costly to address.

Certainly, in the first 200 years or so of our republic, oceans slowed the spread of warfare sufficiently to give the US adequate margin for error in judging what is and what is not a real danger to the country. Now, with relatively cheap and rapid methods of delivering carnage, the margin for error is small. We need national leaders who are vigilant to danger, discerning of risk and courageous in action. The Refugee contends that neither the liberal Left nor the Rand Paul Right carry the right mix of these attributes to govern during times of national risk.

Hat tip: realclearpolics.com

Current Events Posted by Boulder Refugee at 2:07 PM | What do you think? [3]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Note the phrase "discerning of risk" is critical. The Refugee is not pining for someone ready to deploy the 101st Airborne for every indigenous uprising any more than someone who will deploy it only upon national invasion. We need a leader to can tell the difference and is willing to act when necessary.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at September 9, 2014 2:46 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"Beware foreign glazing entanglements!"

I supported the invasion of Iraq but in retrospect, the greatest casualty was the damage it did to both America's reputation as a force for fairness and justice, and to America's appetite for continuing to do as you suggest.

3/4 of Americans polled support airstrikes against Islamic Statists in Iraq, and 2/3 support same in Syria. Is Rand Paul opposed to this highly popular position? That seems a better litmus test.

Posted by: johngalt at September 9, 2014 2:53 PM
But jk thinks:

Saw a great article the other (sorry, forgot who/where) that the real problem is that President Obama has completely shown his cards. There's no chance of bluffing or tough talk now that his has advertised his distaste for involvement.

I don't think anybody on this blog thirsts for entanglement. But Reagan kept Communism at bay with a few harsh glares, some speeches and a four hour war in Grenada. That train has left the station in this administration and all the remaining choices are bad.

Posted by: jk at September 9, 2014 4:42 PM

But, the Science is Settled...

While I enjoyed Matt Ridley's WSJ Editorial on Climate Change, it seems not everybody did.

Post-script. After the article was published, an astonishing tweet was sent by the prominent economist Jeffrey Sachs saying

"Ridley climate ignorance in WSJ today is part of compulsive lying of Murdoch media gang. Ridley totally misrepresents the science."

Curious to know how I had lied or "totally misrepresented" the science, I asked Sachs to explain. There was a deafening silence.


So it begins... You can follow this link to Ridley's blog and read the original editorial outside of Murdoch media gang's lying paywall as well as a lengthy postscript about a HuffPo piece under Sachs's byline (which Ridley does not believe was written by Sachs). Good, clean, nasty fun. The aspersions are so thick you can cut them with a knife!

Frank @ Being Classically Liberal on Facebook asked the other day why libertarians don't just accept climate change: 97% yadda yadda, we don't want to be the anti-science yadda yadda makes us look stupid yadda yadda. I can dig where he is coming from. With all the heterodoxy we have to convince progs and low-information voters, it does seem a side rail at best to wave the 3% deniers flag.

Yet the pushback was pretty strong and I'd say about 97% opposed to his olive branch. All the reasons employed here were brought up (and I linked to the Ridley piece). Denying Climate Change is a popular trope in Democrat campaign ads this season -- and I agree that is probably effective -- but the lack of rigor in climate science needs to be exposed.

But johngalt thinks:

"Ridley totally misrepresents the science" of man-caused climate change, says prominent economist.

So one must really wonder, is the "orthodoxy" we are being so fanatically attacked for doubting, or even questioning, an existential issue for climate scientists or for Keynsian political economists?

This particular one, in 2005, penned a book calling for the annual redistribution of 0.7% of the combined GNP of first-world countries into "carefully planned development aid" to "eliminate" extreme poverty "globally by the year 2025."

"He presents the problem as an inability of very poor countries to reach the "bottom rung" of the ladder of economic development; once the bottom rung is reached, a country can pull itself up into the global market economy, and the need for outside aid will be greatly diminished or eliminated."

Sure. Sure it will. First-world countries experience in helping their own very poor citizens reach the bottom rung, from whence they can pull themselves up into the national market economy, has proven how that will work out, has it not? Calls for ever greater outside aid are to be expected, and long before 2025.

Posted by: johngalt at September 9, 2014 2:28 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

@JK: but the lack of rigor in climate science needs to be exposed

Yes, and surely another sign was how the prominent economist, Jeffery Sachs, allows his twitter account to be used by a rank polemic. On Ridley's blog, he notes that Bob Ward must have been the author, in an interesting twist:

First, Ridley appears to glean stylistic and tonal differences between the tweet and Sachs' usual work.

Then notes the offender tacitly fessed up to it by posting a bunch more angry nonsense and pointing it out to Ridley.

It should surprise no-one by whom the offender is employed, who Ridley describes as one who writes to newspapers furiously denouncing the author of any article on climate change that he does not like

The thing I noted about Ward's comments, is
1. Cowardly, to hide behind someone else
2. full of uncited "predictions" like
Earth is warming in line with standard climate science, and that the Earth's warming is unabated in recent years

Which frigging predictions/science, if you please? Make enough predictions (and quibbly disclaimers that occasionally ring with a hint of humility) and one will surely be right...

3. An angry, one-way polemic, like the woman I was dating last year. Once she's done shouting nonsense, there's not much left but an embarrassed and immature silence (which I rarely let stand).

I'm beginning to think all liberals have some sort of "daddy issues" and mistake Gummint as a benevolent Big Brother.

I'm sure this that 100% of the AGW posturing I see is selfish, egotistic back-patting by people who really don't deserve it.

Posted by: nanobrewer at September 11, 2014 11:29 AM
But jk thinks:

And yet. They have been pretty successful at painting the deniers (and the lukewarmers) as anti-Science or scientifically illiterate. I read quite a bit of intelligent commentary in opposition and tire that I cannot share it except in the safe confines of ThreeSources.

Posted by: jk at September 11, 2014 12:24 PM

And a Headline of the Day

It's not even nine:

Planned Parenthood Wants to Limit Women's Access to Birth Control to Save Obamacare

Case-in-point. Colorado Republican Congressman and U.S. Senate Candidate Cory Gardner has suggested birth control pills should be over-the-counter as part of his campaign platform and stance on women's health. Instead of applauding Gardner's approach, which would greatly expand women's access to birth control, Planned Parenthood has come out against him. The justification? Obamacare and government dependence for women is better.


All Hail Geraghty

Caption of the Day: [Subscribe]

kneel_before_clod.jpg

Colorado Posted by John Kranz at 10:42 AM | What do you think? [0]

September 8, 2014

Liberty on the Rocks

Tonight!

We apologize for the delay in sending this email invite, but TONIGHT our special guest speaker is Dr. Barry Poulson, Emeritus Professor of Economics at CU Boulder. He'll be talking about the reasons for the fiscal crisis in the U.S. and how to fix it. You can RSVP here and bring some friends, but there will be plenty there already!

The Congressional Budget Office projects that fiscal policies in the U.S. are not sustainable. Under current law, spending is projected to increase more rapidly than revenue, increasing deficits and debt to unsustainable levels. As debt approaches 100% of GDP, these fiscal policies will be accompanied by retardation and stagnation in economic growth. Restoring our long term economic requires constraints on spending to put our fiscal policies on a sustainable path.

Dr. Poulson says best solution to our fiscal crisis in the long term is The Ryan Roadmap, proposed by Representative Paul Ryan (you can find this publication at his website). It calls for constraints on spending to balance the budget over the next decade, and surplus in the budget beyond that. Prudent fiscal policies will require fundamental reforms in all government programs, but especially in the major drivers of increased spending: Medicare, Medicaid, and Obamacare.

Come find out more about our crippled economy and why these reforms will work tonight, Monday, September 8th at Miller's Bar & Grille in Lafayette!


See ya

Posted by John Kranz at 2:38 PM | What do you think? [0]

September 7, 2014

Review Corner

For a long while Madison's perspective seemed to prevail. In 1796, for example, a relief bill for victims of a Savannah fire was soundly defeated. Virginia's William B. Giles stated bluntly that members of Congress "should not attend to what... generosity and humanity required, but what the Constitution and their duty required."6
[...]
In Helvering, the Court rejected James Madison's advice. He had argued that the General Welfare Clause was not a grant of added power to Congress but simply a convenient shorthand for all the powers enumerated in Article I, section 8, of the Constitution--which were designed, individually and collectively, to "provide for the common Defence and general Welfare."
In a perfect world, Robert Levy and William Mellor would not need to write The Dirty Dozen: How Twelve Supreme Court Cases Radically Expanded Government and Eroded Freedom. In a just world, the publishers at Cato would have them revise the 2009 work every five years. Perhaps like the S&P 500 moving new cases in. Not that I would replace any they've chosen, but it would be great to hear their take on the Roberts Court. I am such a target audience for this, I was rather surprised to find that it was not dedicated personally to me.

David Kopel has a great riff. When he is "pinned down" by an interviewer asking "is Social Security constitutional?" or such, the DU Law Professor and all around HOSS says that there are two constitutions: one as he would read it were it just ratified in which it would not be constitutional, but one accounting for 200+ years of stare decisis and our current acceptance of government power. By the second, Social Security is clearly constitutional.

As one who regrets the bifurcation, this book does a superb job of documenting how we got from Madison's "I cannot lay my finger on that part of the Constitution..." to NFIB v Sibelius. The authors take twelve cases, the dirty dozen, and for each lay out the story behind it, the legal and constitutional principles involved, the Justices on either side, key points of majority opinions, concurrences, and dissents -- and the ramifications of precedent. In the cases I knew, I learned additional details, and there several I did not know.

One also gets a better feel for many Justices. Chief Charles Evans Hughes was something of a hero of mine because he resigned his Associate seat on the court to run against President Wilson's reelection in 1916. A few thousand votes' changing in California could have saved our country one of the worst terms and some of the greatest stretches of the Constitution. Yet as a Justice, he consistently appears on the wrong side. In Home Building & Loan Association v. Blaisdell, the right of contract was under assault by the Minnesota Mortgage Moratorium Law in 1933. Debt forgiveness was growing in popularity in a New Deal world.

The resultant moral and legal dilemma had been crystallized pithily by Marcus Tullius Cicero nearly two thousand years earlier. What is the meaning, Cicero had asked, of an "abolition of debts, except that you buy a farm with my money; that you have the farm, and I have not my money?"

Hughes (so hard to watch a hero fall) thought it okay to have state legislatures rewrite contracts, because there was an emergency -- and besides, they were just corporations.
The Court had little sympathy for Home Building. As chief justice Hughes explained: "Official reports" showed that lenders "are predominantly corporations, such as insurance companies, banks, and investment and mortgage companies. [They] are not seeking homes or the opportunity to engage in farming. Their chief concern is the reasonable protection of their investment security."21 There you have it, a new hierarchy of rights based on class and found nowhere in the Constitution: Corporate shareholders and employees are second-class citizens whose rights can be sacrificed to protect homeowners and farmers.

Chrysler bondholders, anybody? We can take their preferred position in liquidation -- which they have paid a premium for -- and instead give the Unions first redemption. It is, after all, an emergency.
"Emergency does not create power," Hughes conceded, but "emergency may furnish the occasion for the exercise of power. Although an emergency may not call into life a power which has never lived, nevertheless emergency may afford a reason for the exertion of a living power already enjoyed."

[Justice George] Sutherland dismissed that notion as mumbo-jumbo: I can only interpret what is said on that subject as meaning that, while an emergency does not diminish a restriction upon [government] power, it furnishes an occasion for diminishing it, and this, it seems to me, is merely to say the same thing by the use of another set of words, with the effect of affirming that which has just been denied.


Way back then, of course, it was totally different than today. Why, Congress delegated authority on complex and technical issues to bureaucrats in the Executive Branch (I know, you're shocked!)
Of course, even if our senators and representatives are unqualified or too busy to handle the job assigned to them by the Constitution, the answer cannot be to pretend that parts of the Constitution do not exist.

Yet in Whitman v. American Trucking Associations, Inc., that is basically what the Supreme Court did.6 For all practical purposes the Court removed the nondelegation doctrine from the Constitution. That doctrine, which holds that Congress may not freely delegate its legislative powers, traces its roots to John Locke, the distinguished political philosopher whose writings were influential in crafting both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. In 1690, Locke stated that "[t]he legislative cannot transfer the power of making laws to any other hands; for it being but a delegated power from the people, they who have it cannot pass it over to others"; the legislative power is "to make laws, and not to make legislators."


Each of these cases is germane today -- most more so after President Obama and his signature legislation.

We look for the ideal structure of government at ThreeSources. Randy Barnett makes compelling case that interest and power will erode any structural protection of individual rights. Jefferson's "The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground" holds true. And yet, but not for these 12 decisions, the Judicial Branch could have preserved Constitutional liberty. In spite of bozos in Congress and rapacious presidents, and progressive nannyism and fiat currency. We could have survived all that with Justices who understood and subscribed to the Constitution's protections.

After reading [a modern Commerce Clause decision], you wonder why anyone would make the mistake of calling it the Commerce Clause instead of the "Hey, you-can-do-whatever-you-feel-like Clause?" --Alex Kozinski, "Introduction to Volume Nineteen," Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy 19 (1995):

Awesome! Five stars.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 10:05 AM | What do you think? [0]

September 6, 2014

The Terrorists Have Won

You'll remember the Bush-era joke "...then the terrorists will have won." If Britney Spears cannot do a lewd dance at the VH1 Music Awards... It was useful and entertaining. Yet a perusal of the Cato blog today (I subscribe on Kindle and enjoy a whole week on Saturdays) has me down. One more time -- who won?

How is that rebuilding project going, umm, 13 years after the destruction? Chris Edwards cites it as an example of "Edwards' Law: Large government projects often double in cost between when they are first considered and when they are finally completed."

The most expensive train station in the U.S. is taking shape at the site of the former World Trade Center, a majestic marble-and-steel commuter hub that was seen by project boosters as a landmark to American hope and resilience.

Instead, the terminal connecting New Jersey with downtown Manhattan has turned into a public-works embarrassment. Overtaking the project's emotional resonance is a practical question: How could such a high-profile project fall eight years behind schedule and at least $2 billion over budget?

An analysis of federal oversight reports viewed by The Wall Street Journal and interviews with current and former officials show a project sunk in a morass of politics and government.


I think I can hear OBL and Satan chuckling over that. And TSA screenings.... How's that Department of Homeland Security shaping up? Some folks worried it would be sclerotic and bureaucratic. Nicole Kaeding examines an audit of its vehicle fleet:
The federal government owned or leased 650,000 motor vehicles in fiscal year 2012. DHS's fleet was the government’s second largest, consisting of 56,000 vehicles. This armada of cars and trucks cost taxpayers $534 million in 2012. Given the large expense, the IG reviewed a portion of the DHS fleet, 753 vehicles, "to determine whether, for FY2012, the Department met requirements to right size the composition of its motor vehicle fleet, [and] eliminate underused vehicles."

The IG found that DHS vehicle management is poor. Vehicle identification numbers were not listed correctly for 39 percent of vehicles. Fifty-four percent of acquisition dates did not match other department records. The most damning finding was that 59 percent of vehicles were underused, meaning they were driven less than 12,000 miles, the governmental standard, in one year. Apparently, DHS has far too many cars and trucks, even assuming that the vehicles are used for efficient purposes.

The IG found that DHS does not purge unnecessary vehicles. Eighty-six percent of the underused vehicles were still owned by the department a year later. DHS was unable to provide documentation justifying vehicle retention and the additional expense.


Somebody else gotta be blog optimist today. I just am not feeling the love.

War on Terror Posted by John Kranz at 2:51 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

There's a challenge to making a pithy comment on this post as it is two, two, two stories in one post.

The WTC paean to modern urbanism? We didn't build that - government did. How could it happen? See: "The Big Dig." Can't we just go back to private ownership of these things and let "Robber Barons" make "obscene profits" instead? Oh wait, that would entail "theft from the public." Riiiiight.

And the federal government motor pool - 650,000 vehicles nationwide or an average of 13,000 in every state of the union - could, I guess, be much worse. Imagine if there weren't commuter trains.

Posted by: johngalt at September 7, 2014 11:40 AM

September 5, 2014

If You Won't do it for the Gay Muslim Whales...

I follow Phys.org on Facebook and enjoy their posts. They highlight little research-y tidbits and interesting studies on nanotech, particle physics and lots of good clean nerdy fun.

Yet I suspect they have some inverse Koch (Dark David Matter?) funding stream that dictates they must do at least two Climate Change Rah Rah stories each week. Whatever, it's their feed. But I about spit out my bacon jerky when I saw this::

dietaryrecom.jpg

If Americans altered their menus to conform to federal dietary recommendations, emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases tied to agricultural production could increase significantly, according to a new study by University of Michigan researchers.

Um yeah, because, let's see, how can I put this delicately... BECAUSE GOVERNMENT DIETARY ADVICE HAS BEEN SO MAGNIFICENTLY ACCURATE! LET'S SEE IF WE CAN HITCH CLIMATOLOGY TO THAT RISING STAR!

They've been wrong about everything for decades -- and wrong to the point where they have contribute to hundreds of thousands of deaths. And yet, without any trace of irony, we're told if we follow the Feds' bad dietary advice, it will align with their climate change guidelines.

Rant Posted by John Kranz at 4:16 PM | What do you think? [2]
But Keith Arnold thinks:

So it says that if we were eating what the government was telling us to eat, we'd be... ummm... producing four-tenths of a kilogram of additional carbon dioxide each, per day.

Is that talking about exhaling, or... something else? "greenhouse gas emissions associated with..." confused me, because the first time I read it, I assumed...

Okay, enough with trying to be civilized. I thought they were trying to say WE WOULD FART AN ADDITIONAL POUND OF GAS A DAY EACH, but that would be methane. Methane, right?

Wasn't this on the midterm in freshman Biochem?

Posted by: Keith Arnold at September 5, 2014 4:54 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Unless I'm mistaken, methane is another of the ubiquitous "greenhouse" gasses. You know, bovine flatulence? All the better to cudgel McDonald's with, doncha know.

Posted by: johngalt at September 8, 2014 11:34 AM

Whither Climate Change?

Matt Ridley has been treated well by Review Corner -- twice.

He has a guest editorial in the WSJ today that will warm a ThreeSourcer's heart somewhere between 0.3°C and 0.5°C.

First the climate-research establishment denied that a pause existed, noting that if there was a pause, it would invalidate their theories. Now they say there is a pause (or "hiatus"), but that it doesn't after all invalidate their theories.

Alas, their explanations have made their predicament worse by implying that man-made climate change is so slow and tentative that it can be easily overwhelmed by natural variation in temperature--a possibility that they had previously all but ruled out.

When the climate scientist and geologist Bob Carter of James Cook University in Australia wrote an article in 2006 saying that there had been no global warming since 1998 according to the most widely used measure of average global air temperatures, there was an outcry. A year later, when David Whitehouse of the Global Warming Policy Foundation in London made the same point, the environmentalist and journalist Mark Lynas said in the New Statesman that Mr. Whitehouse was "wrong, completely wrong," and was "deliberately, or otherwise, misleading the public."

We know now that it was Mr. Lynas who was wrong.


Ridley is a self-identified "lukewarmer" (I came out as such recently) but is thinking that the temperature sensitivity may well be less than the non-catastrophic levels he expected.
The warming in the last three decades of the 20th century, to quote the news release that accompanied their paper, "was roughly half due to global warming and half to the natural Atlantic Ocean cycle." In other words, even the modest warming in the 1980s and 1990s--which never achieved the 0.3 degrees Celsius per decade necessary to satisfy the feedback-enhanced models that predict about three degrees of warming by the end of the century--had been exaggerated by natural causes. The man-made warming of the past 20 years has been so feeble that a shifting current in one ocean was enough to wipe it out altogether.

Putting the icing on the cake of good news, Xianyao Chen and Ka-Kit Tung think the Atlantic Ocean may continue to prevent any warming for the next two decades. So in their quest to explain the pause, scientists have made the future sound even less alarming than before.


I'll save you the email -- I have a link that should be good for seven days to moochers and looters non-subscribers.

But jk thinks:

Pour l'encouragement des autres -- Voltaire

Posted by: jk at September 5, 2014 6:26 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

A longer answer: it's a mistake to see Islam as a homogeneous whole. That goes in both directions, and this is part of the problem: many of them see us as a homogeneous whole in return: they equate "American" and "Christian." We know that's not true. By the same token, it's not effective to paint them with a broad brush either.

For example, in Jordan, which is a largely westernized nation, the vast majority of the people are Muslim -- be they also like karaoke, discos, Levis, and KFC. In a significant plurality there, Islam is a cultural religion rather than a deeply-held belief system. Azmi was born to a Muslim family, so she's a Muslim. Like many Christians here in America, her "religion" is a label that's just one of many facets of her life, no more or less important to her than her collection of System Of A Down CDs. Most people in Jordan are like her, and are comfortable with the Western World, and get along just fine with Israel. Her religion isn't pervasive and all-encompassing to her day-to-day life.

In any Muslim nation, you're going to find a mix of devoted adherents and casual followers. You're also going to find a significant group in the middle that don't really think about it, but for the sake of conforming (and in some cases, for the sake of self-preservation), will go along with whoever's the de facto leader. The percentages in the mix vary from nation to nation, but you get my meaning. Let's take a look at Iran, for example.

If you go pull up pictures of Iran prior to the departure fo the Shah, you'll see men and women of all ages in western attire. The women wear swimsuits at the beach, and the men drive Chevys, and they all like dating and clubbing, and -- well, they're like us. Just a couple of years later, they're suddenly ultra-Islamic. Do you think the collected attitudes of the whole nation suddenly did a 180 in the space fo five years? Not a chance. What happened is you've got a takeover by the Ayatollah Khomeini and his henchmen - a percent or two of the population. Surrounding them are the groupies, who really aren't all that different from Hitler's brownshirts: they are the kind of people who like power, like being part of the "in" crowd, and like being over other people. That's maybe five percent of the population.

The problem is, there's one key difference between the Islamic world and us. They have centuries of culturally obeying their kings. The bossman says it, so I must do. That's not how Americans think. Also, that six percent or so (1) has all the AKs and all the sword, and (2) are batshit crazy enough to use them. So, suddenly the general population suddenly gets in line with Shari'a law. The boss tells me to, and he'll behead me if I don't so I obey.

In Afghanistan, the Taliban is only a small part of the population, but they're now the ruling part. And the masses fall in line - some out of the urge to follow the leaders, and some of out of fear.

You know who has the worst situation? The House of Saud. The Saudi leadership is pro-Western, and understands the simple principle of (a) pump the oil, (b) sell the oil to the West, (c) get rich and stay rich, and (d) live well. The problem is that the greatest part of their population is poor and uneducated, and in order to stay in power, the House of Saud spends a great deal of money and influence on providing for the nation. Some of this means supporting the jihadist madrassas, for example. They literally are in a constant state of placating their own internal opponents.

That's all background. Your question is, if we destroy ISIS, do we risk making our situation worse as a result of polarizing the Islamic world and causing new jihadists to be recruited? My answer is a firm no -- but there are qualifications, and some of this will be ugly.

We're not talking about a campaign to beat them into a surrender and forcing them to cease aggressions. ISIS falling into the "devoted adherents" group; they will eventually rearm and start making trouble again. We are seriously talking about killing them. First, Islam - as written, and as practiced by those devoted adherents - is a religion of domination and conquest. What they understand it force and violence. They are like Klingons in this regard: letting your defeated opponent live is weakness to them. They would kill us if the roles are reversed. They're doing it now: everyone who surrenders to them is executed. Sun Tzu said this is a mistake, because if your opponent knows he will die if he is beaten, he has nothing to lose, and will fight for dear life. This is galvanizing the Kurds and especially the Peshmergas. If they are not killed, they will take up arms again when they can.

Destroying ISIS and their enablers, the imams and mullahs who call us The Great Satan, will not lead to more jihadists, for the simple reason that the dead can't recruit new members from the undecided. Kill off the anti-Western leaders and forces, and that big follower class we were talking about will be following a more civilized leader.

Want to know who was an interesting example of someone who understood this? Douglas MacArthur. His attitude when he dealt with Japan after the war was "We won. We're a better nation that you. Your emperor isn't a god. You should be more like us." The Japanese looked at him, looked and each other, and the whole nation suddenly emulated America because we beat them fair and square - and then they started selling us Toyotas and Seikos, and we've been friends ever since. Sean Connery and Wesley Snipes in "Rising Sun" notwithstanding.

Bear in mind: in much of the poor and uneducated Middle East, the whole "Great Satan" routine is populism. The masses look to their leaders asking why they're poor, and those leaders rattle their sabers and blame America, because the way to stay leader is to deflect. Nothing unites like a common enemy, and we get painted as their Emmanuel Goldstein. Obliterate that source, and you're looking at a very different Middle East.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at September 5, 2014 7:03 PM
But jk thinks:

Iran? 1956? You're welcome!

Posted by: jk at September 5, 2014 7:24 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

I told you, man - would I lie to you? Would you trade that for a burqa?

And if I'm not too terribly mistaken, that's a Triumph Herald 1200 in the background. Are you sure it was shot in 1956?

Posted by: Keith Arnold at September 5, 2014 7:39 PM
But Jk thinks:

The Persians were a very advanced civilization...

That was from memory. I'm prepared to accept correction.

Posted by: Jk at September 5, 2014 8:33 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Thank you for the thorough explanation, KA. It validates my strategy which is, treat the Islamic State movement as a tumor on a healthy body. Destroy it, and take as much of the diseased tissue as possible in the operation, then care for the patient and monitor for any new tumor sites. What I'm saying is that Islam can be "cured" of its affliction with Islamism.

What is the difference between Islam and Islamism? Islam says, "These are my beliefs." Islamism says, "These are your beliefs too, or you die."

Posted by: johngalt at September 8, 2014 11:46 AM

Is Monetary Policy Stagnating Hourly Wages?

The "Inequality Sucks" crowd harps on the low wages paid to unskilled workers almost as much as they envy the wealth of the 1%ers (the only group to see it's overall wealth rise under President Obama). I've been defending the property rights of the evil rich bastards by claiming that less government overhead holding back private industry will, all things being equal, create new jobs (i.e. labor demand) and move labor wages up the demand-supply curve. It's basic economics - everything except the "all things being equal" part.

The trader's tool site Econoday is explaining the relationship between unemployment rate and annual earnings growth thusly:

When the economy is operating at full throttle, a falling unemployment rate worries policymakers as they anticipate that rapidly rising wages will turn into runaway inflation. In fact, wage growth did accelerate in 2005 and over most of 2006 as the jobless rate headed lower. But the reverse has been true during the past recession and early recovery. A rising jobless rate often alleviates wage pressures but is typically associated with economic recession. Federal Reserve policymakers aim for balanced growth with very low inflation.

fedpol_clip_image005.png

(Note that under Bush, wage growth was generally above 2.5% yearly, while under Obama it has generally been less than 2.5%.)

I had believed that economic growth was accidentally retarded by confiscatory taxation and abusive industrial regulation but it appears there is more to it than that - economic growth is "balanced" because the fiat bankers at the FED want it that way, as a check on inflation. Somebody smart is gonna have to explain to me why this is good. I'm not about to defend it.

But jk thinks:

The relation of unemployment to inflation is called The Phillips Curve and it has a rejuvenation capacity that Freddy Krueger would envy. It should have been discredited by the Volker Fed's slaying the stagflation beast with a strong dollar.

But but but but -- is my blog brother campaigning for looser money or accusing the Fed of driving up unemployment by tightening too quickly? Is gravity still 9.8 m/sec2?

Posted by: jk at September 5, 2014 9:53 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I'm not advocating anything yet, since I don't really understand what's going on. But in principle, if the FED has to rig the money supply such that the economy can't grow as much as it would otherwise do, that is objectionable. If their fiat currency "inflates" because too many goods are being produced too fast then find some other way to regulate the stupid currency. You're smart guys, right? You think your smart enough to manage the whole freakin' economy.

What I'm after is so much job growth that workers can pick and choose from more good options, with higher wages. Sort of a "We're all North Dakota now" strategy, without the funny accent and nine months of winter. So many jobs that nobody will object to more immigration. What's wrong with this idea? Who wants to keep it the way things are? Unions? Simpleton central bankers? Politicians who want to keep the country polarized?

Posted by: johngalt at September 5, 2014 12:29 PM
But Alan Reynolds thinks:

Changes in hourly wages have to be adjusted for inflation. Real wages fell 1% in 2011 because inflation was still 3%, but the same hourly change in nominal wages became a 0.7% rise in real wages in 2013 and 2014.

Posted by: Alan Reynolds at March 16, 2015 8:00 AM

September 4, 2014

On Inequality

Things are looking a little rocky in the Facebook discussion. I'm distant enough to take it in stride, but I may or may not get in trouble for sharing a little bit of All Hail Taranto. It seems healthcare is not being distributed "fairly." The sick people are using more than their fair share!

If the objective were to equalize the distribution of health-care spending, one could do it by subjecting healthy people to needless treatments. Or one could economize by rationing the expensive treatments so that the sick would get less care. Many Western countries follow the latter approach in a system known as "universal health care."

As the French would say: Egalitee, Fraternitee, Colonoscopee!

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 6:01 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

"To each according to his need."

Posted by: johngalt at September 4, 2014 7:00 PM

QOTD

Well, actually yesterday.

Biden says we'll follow ISIS to the gates of hell? We won't even follow them across the Syrian border!
- Col. Ralph Peters on Fox News' Kelly File
Quote of the Day Posted by Boulder Refugee at 11:59 AM | What do you think? [2]
But Keith Arnold thinks:

One of my friends has already commented that "follow to the gates of Hell" is a statement of allegiance and devotion -- as in, "I'd follow my sergeant to the gates of Hell in battle."

"Pursue to the gates of Hell," or "bomb them to Hell" might have been what he meant to say. Or, perhaps Slow Joe Biden has accidentally let slip his true feelings.

Either way, another Bidenism.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at September 4, 2014 3:59 PM
But johngalt thinks:

One is also left to wonder if Biden knows that his boss might consider this "a strategy" i.e. "Sorry Joe, we don't have one of those yet."

Posted by: johngalt at September 4, 2014 6:57 PM

Lovin' the Internet

Brother Bryan posted this on Facebook yesterday:


I was a Joan Baez Trotskyist if you can feature that. I was a folkie and then I started studying economics and I said Oh wait! The way to help the poor is to make the pie bigger and that got clearer and clearer to me.

Yes, it is an hour lecture with a half hour of Q&A. I prefer reading and find it almost impossible to slate out blocks of time on that size. One good friend is always sending me TED talks of 40+ minutes and I get exasperated -- don't you have something I can read in five minutes? I'm supposed to be working here!

So feel free to ignore, but the "rockstar economist" (Bryan's words) limns out the basic theme of her "Bourgeois Dignity" [Review Corner] and the Q&A is brilliant.

On the right, where the timewasters at YouTube tempt you with other offerings, I saw yet another lecture on a formative book: Matt Ridley's The Rational Optimist" [Review Corner]

One hour here includes the Q&A (It's at GMU and I believe the first questioner is Don Boudreaux) and I'll warn you the audio is less-than perfect. But Ridley is funny and wide-ranging.

The Ming Emperors shut down their economy pretty effectively, but they could only shut down a third of humanity, they could not shut down the whole thing.

Now, you know, Kyoto was a damn good stab.

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 10:29 AM | What do you think? [0]

Those Wascally Wepubwicans!

I don't know that I would elevate this to "a smoking gun."

dp_udallgardner.gif

The then-congressman, who was running for an open seat in the U.S. Senate, echoed arguments made by conservatives.

"I'm not for a government-sponsored solution," Udall said. "I'm for enhancing and improving the employer-based system that we have."

In a debate overshadowed by other issues -- rising energy prices and the war on terror -- Udall's answer that July barely created a ripple. But in the context of Sen. Udall's vote for the Affordable Care Act in 2010 and his tough re-election bid against Republican Congressman Cory Gardner in November, the statement takes on new meaning.

Udall's vote for the health care law has provided fodder for a number of campaign attack ads.


All the same, you have to love the headline and lead: instead of "Udall Lied!" the Denver Post has to say "Mean Old Republicans make issue out of Udall untruths!"


September 3, 2014

Wrong time for Rand

[I posted roughly 60,000 words yesterday on the Facebook version of the inequality post. Good clean fun, but my typing fingers are sore. Ergo, a quick thought post]

My man, Senator Rand Paul will be undone by events in 2016. We should have eschewed Senator Obama's naiveté in 2008. I remember fright around a dinner table when I visited blog friend sc that year. "You may not be interested in War Mister Trotsky..."

After six years of American disinterest in world leadership, polls show interest in it reviving. Senator Paul is tacking to catch favorable winds, but that makes him look phony to doves and distrustful to hawks. We need his Constitutionalism, but his foreign policy will not fly in a messy 2016. C'est le guerre.

William Galston writes in the WSJ:

Events overseas present Mr. Obama not only with policy challenges, but also with an opportunity to re-energize his depleted presidency. They also have implications for Republicans. As recently as last November, 52% of Republicans said that the U.S. does too much abroad; only 18% thought we do too little. But their sentiments have shifted dramatically. Now, the share of Republicans who think we do too little abroad has surged by 28 points, to 46%, while the share of those who think we do too much has fallen by 15 points, to 37%.

2016 Posted by John Kranz at 10:04 AM | What do you think? [3]
But johngalt thinks:

If I were on Rand's policy strategy team I would suggest he formulate his foreign policy Doctrine. Like the Bush Doctrine, but with moral, philosophical specifics. (Bush never said what it meant to be with "us" in contrast to the "terrorists.")

'Paul Doctrine' [first draft] - "You respect individual rights, or you are an enemy of mankind."
Posted by: johngalt at September 3, 2014 1:48 PM
But jk thinks:
America does not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own. -- John Quincy Adams
I think it requires more of a self-interest focus. Posted by: jk at September 4, 2014 2:43 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Was JQA critical of France for aiding the Colonials?

Whether to intervene abroad is a case by case decision but whether America is a "well-wisher" a destroyer of tyrants or anywhere along that continuum, it is in the name of individual rights and it is against those who infringe them.

It is the bedrock principle. Sort of a Declaration of Foreign Policy Moral Authority.

Posted by: johngalt at September 4, 2014 5:40 PM

The End is Near?

Here is an interesting article that was linked by Real Clear Politics - What ISIS's Leader Really Wants

The last four paragraphs are of particular interest, as they suggest that the Islamist movement or, at least, the Caliphate reenactment re-sequels, may have a finite duration as foretold by the prophet:

ISIS almost certainly has a successor in mind. But the supply of caliphs is not infinite, according to some Baghdadi-aligned Islamic scholars studied by Bunzel. One of those scholars, the Bahraini cleric Turki al-Bin'ali, cites a saying attributed to Muhammad that predicts a total of twelve caliphs before the end of the world. Bin'ali considers only seven of the caliphs of history legitimate. That makes Baghdadi the eighth out of twelve--and in some Sunni traditions, the name of the twelfth and final caliph, Muhammad ibn Abdullah, has already been foretold.

I did not know that.

Islam Jihad Posted by JohnGalt at 12:21 AM | What do you think? [4]
But Keith Arnold thinks:

"... the supply of caliphs is not infinite..."

I wonder how we should test that hypothesis. There are good arguments for either a bolt-action .308 or a mushroom cloud.

Either way, just sitting back and seeing how history plays out while watching from the back nine is not a worthwhile option.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at September 3, 2014 1:41 PM
But johngalt thinks:

The linked article closes with the words "The end of the [Islamist?] world may be coming, one Hellfire missile at a time." I advocate for using whatever weapon(s) will dispatch as many of the youthful Jihadi idealists who surround the Caliph, and no more. The idea is to bring to justice violators of individual rights. Not Muslims, not terrorists, but plain old murderers. And then to tell all the governments and faiths of the world, "You have the same freedoms as anyone else on earth which is to say, you may not initiate force against another."

Posted by: johngalt at September 3, 2014 1:54 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Just curious: why the clear distinction between terrorist and murderers? From The Refugee's perspective, one has killed innocent people and the other is making every attempt to do so. Must we wait until they succeed before taking action?

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at September 4, 2014 12:18 PM
But johngalt thinks:

What I was getting at was not *because* they are terrorists. Terrorist is a politically charged word, imparting moral ambiguity, e.g. "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter" but there is no moral ambiguity regarding murderers.

Posted by: johngalt at September 4, 2014 5:45 PM

September 2, 2014

Inside Baseball on Scottish Independence

In a move that, from this side of the pond, is reminiscent of secession-like movements in several US states, Scots are set to vote on national independence from the United Kingdom later this month. Today I read why the independence of Scotland, whose representation in UK's parliament is heavily leftist, would probably send ripples of de-unification and hence, in my opinion at least, increased individual liberty and national competition, through western Europe.

The disappearance of a clutch of Labour lawmakers would empower the Conservative Party. That in turn is likely to increase the clout of the anti-EU faction in parliament, with Tories typically more hostile to what they regard as ceding sovereignty to Brussels. Scottish voters, by contrast, tend to be more pro-European, so their absence from the referendum on EU-membership that Prime Minister David Cameron has promised for the U.K. by 2017 would also make an exit more likely.

Sons of Scotland, it's all for nothing if you don't have FREEDOM!

Government Posted by JohnGalt at 2:12 PM | What do you think? [0]

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