December 31, 2014

But But But...

... isn't the agreement between theory and observation a bedrock principle of "science?" Isn't good science a prerequisite of any ersatz "scientific consensus?"

He [NASA JPL researcher Dr. David Schimel] said: "What we've had up till this paper was a theory of carbon dioxide fertilisation based on phenomena at the microscopic scale and observations at the global scale that appeared to contradict those phenomena.

"Here, at least, is a hypothesis that provides a consistent explanation that includes both how we know photosynthesis works and what's happening at the planetary scale."

So what does this paper say that makes the puzzle pieces fit together, finally?

As emissions add more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, forests worldwide are using it to grow faster.

However, the rate at which they absorb this has been hard to estimate with many studies producing contradictory results.

As many rainforests consist of mature trees that are often hundreds of years old, they were not thought to absorb much carbon dioxide.

Young fast growing trees tend to absorb more carbon dioxide as they use the carbon as they grow.

Global air flows and data on deforestation also suggested tropical forests were releasing more carbon dioxide than they absorb.

But this new study suggests the tropical forests are using far more of the carbon, and so growing far faster than previously believed.

How terrible! Higher levels of the "pollutant" CO2 cause the earth to be ... GREENER.

But be careful what conclusions you may be tempted to leap toward, Fracknation:

He [NASA JPL researcher Dr. David Schimel] said: "The future tropical balance of deforestation and climate sources and regrowth and carbon dioxide sinks will only remain a robust feature of the global carbon cycle if the vast tropical forests are protected from destruction."

But but but...

... one man's harvesting is another man's "destruction" and didn't you [NASA JPL researcher Dr. David Schimel] say, "Young fast growing trees tend to absorb more carbon dioxide as they use the carbon as they grow?" If I didn't know better I might suspect that he [you know who I'm talking about] just endorsed modern forest husbandry and harvesting. But we all know better than to believe that, don't we?

But Jk thinks:

Surely there is some way to slow climate change by clubbing baby harp seals...

Posted by: Jk at December 31, 2014 8:23 PM
But johngalt thinks:

If it saved even a single tenth of a degree of normalized worldwide average global temperature change, wouldn't it be worth it?

Even if it required clubbing every baby harp seal, to the point of specie extinction?

(Just as long as there's also a wealth transfer component. Naturally.)

Posted by: johngalt at January 1, 2015 6:37 PM

New Years' Coffeehousin'

Coffeehouse

Auld Lang Syne

Trad, lyrics by Robert Burns

Live at the Coffeehouse dot Com

Permalink


December 30, 2014

Yes, it is the Onion

But you had to look!

New, Improved Obamacare Program Released On 35 Floppy Disks

ACA_floppies.jpg

WASHINGTON--Responding to widespread criticism regarding its health care website, the federal government today unveiled its new, improved Obamacare program, which allows Americans to purchase health insurance after installing a software bundle contained on 35 floppy disks. "I have heard the complaints about the existing website, and I can assure you that with this revised system, finding the right health care option for you and your family is as easy as loading 35 floppy disks sequentially into your disk drive and following the onscreen prompts," President Obama told reporters this morning, explaining that the nearly three dozen 3.5-inch diskettes contain all the data needed for individuals to enroll in the Health Insurance Marketplace, while noting that the updated Obamacare software is mouse-compatible and requires a 386 Pentium processor with at least 8 MB of system RAM to function properly. "Just fire up MS-DOS, enter ‘A:\>dir *.exe" into the command line, and then follow the instructions to install the Obamacare batch files--it should only take four or five hours at the most. You can press F1 for help if you run into any problems.
But johngalt thinks:

Heh. "After installation, upload your completed application to healthcare.gov for processing. (Minimum modem speed of 2400 baud is recommended, but 300 baud will also work. Eventually.)"

Posted by: johngalt at December 30, 2014 6:12 PM

myRA

Any financial professional who advised a young investor to avoid stocks and corporate bonds--and everything else except Treasury bonds--would be sued for malpractice. But asset allocation is merely one of the problems with the new "Myra" fund rolling out from the Treasury this month.
The POTUS with the phone and pen has limned out a new gub'mint offered investment vehicle -- and called Comerica and Fidelity to manage them. Congress? Do they get a call? Does he even send a card? The WSJ Ed Page says "no."
Congressional staff were as puzzled as anyone and wondered how the White House would justify the creation of this new savings vehicle. Or perhaps Team Obama would seek new authority from Congress? Well, Treasury is now offering these accounts and has hired Texas-based Comerica to manage them with a partner, Fidelity National Information Services . But the executive branch received no new authority from Congress this year to launch the program.
One doesn't know how much to complain about the non-Constitutionality and how much about the bad investment advice. "[T]he new myRA offers a single investment option. It's a private version of the G Fund that is available to federal workers and has lately been delivering annual returns of about 2% on its portfolio of Treasury securities."

The managers are precluded from paying fees or facing a minimum investment, so Uncle Sugar will have to buy off some campaign contributors fund the administrative costs out of general revenue.

The more I see of him working, the more I like paying for his extravagant vacations.

But johngalt thinks:

At least nobody can call it a "Risky Scheme" (TM). There is absolutely NO RISK of anyone growing his wealth in this investment.

Posted by: johngalt at December 30, 2014 6:15 PM

December 29, 2014

Quote of the Day

[Sen. Elizabeth] Warren's accusation of the "system" being "rigged" against the average person is repeated with a staccato and cadence worthy of Dustin Hoffman's character in the movie "Rain Man." -- William Jacobson

FORE!

I'm gonna go ahead and put a dollar in the jar. If President Bush had done this...

For birdie or for worse.

President Obama's golf game Sunday forced Army Captains Natalie Heimel and her fiancé, Edward Mallue Jr. to relocate their wedding ceremony.

The lovebirds were set to wed Sunday at the Kaneohe Klipper Golf Course, located on the Marine Corps Base Hawaii, until they learned Obama had his eye on the same course and they would need to find a new spot for their nuptials.

"In less than 24 hours they had to change everything they had planned," the groom's sister told Bloomberg News.

Instead, they held the ceremony on green lawn on the base that offered views of the Pacific coastline.


How sweet. Right on base.

But Keith Arnold thinks:

Everyone involved ought to be grateful that the Boy King Narcissus I didn't insist on the privilege of prima noctis.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at December 29, 2014 5:13 PM
But johngalt thinks:

And today, news that the President apologized to the inconvenienced couple, and said he didn't know beforehand. I can accept that.

I can also accept more of this kind of questioning by lamestream interviewers, challenging more of the President's infamous strawmen:

Steve Inskeep-

I think that if a Republican lawmaker was sitting here, he might say, "Wait a minute. I'm not captive to nativist elements. I have actual concerns, and you're not addressing them."

Of course he responded with yet another strawman, but it's a start.

Posted by: johngalt at December 30, 2014 11:55 AM
But jk thinks:

I'll accept the apology as well. If anybody in his staff were half as bright as they picture themselves, they would have gone overboard. What a great PR move to have the Marine One helicopter pick up the newlyweds and fly them to dinner with the President and First Lady. Publicity gold.

No strawmen? With all respect to Albert King: "If it wasn't for strawmen, he wouldn't have no men at all."

Posted by: jk at December 30, 2014 2:41 PM

Why it Matters

Oh boy:

Following a visit in March to Tacloban, the Philippine city devastated in 2012 by typhoon Haiyan, the pope will publish a rare encyclical on climate change and human ecology. Urging all Catholics to take action on moral and scientific grounds, the document will be sent to the world's 5,000 Catholic bishops and 400,000 priests, who will distribute it to parishioners.

The Guardian's embrace of papal infallibility is interesting -- I dare say unprecedented. The "superman pope" (that is an actual quote, though the quotation marks are in the original) is going to finally bring the moral authority to the UN to fix things. Francis I is kickin' denier ass and taking fracking names!

Were his holiness more into "render unto Caesar," I would be more forgiving of his bad, Marx-sympathizer economics. I've heard a lot of apologies based on his personal background (Argentinian crony capitalism) and doctrine. But at the end of the day, the best defense has been that "it doesn't matter." He doesn't have a seat on the FOMC or a cardinal on the Ways & Means Committee.

But ideas matter. Economic ideas matter. Here, he will build on his bad ideas to promote worse ideas that will harm millions of people. If you'll pardon flippancy, it's a good thing he loves the poor -- he's going to create a whole lot more of them.

I just started Alex Epstein's "The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels." Every ThreeSourcer will want to read this (though curiously, it will get stars subtracted for "too much Objectivism.")

Epstein points out the misery, death, and suffering we avoided by not listening to the catastrophists of the 1970s and 1980s, how humans have flourished and risen from poverty pari-passu with their energy consumption, and how vital energy is to life itself. A heartbreaking story of two specific babies lives' lost in a clinic in Nambia because the generator cannot be run all day.

Pope Francis is going to have a part in preserving and possibly expanding that poverty which is defined by lack of access to reliable energy. It matters.

Hat-tip: @novapbs

Philosophy Rant Posted by John Kranz at 11:28 AM | What do you think? [4]
But johngalt thinks:
Francis will also be opposed by the powerful US evangelical movement, said Calvin Beisner, spokesman for the conservative Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, which has declared the US environmental movement to be "un-biblical" and a false religion.

"The pope should back off," he said. "The Catholic church is correct on the ethical principles but has been misled on the science. It follows that the policies the Vatican is promoting are incorrect."

Posted by: johngalt at December 29, 2014 3:14 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

"Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason - I do not accept the authority of the popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other - my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen." Today won't be the first time those words have been leveled at that institution.

Nor these: "Eppur si mouve."

Posted by: Keith Arnold at December 29, 2014 5:21 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Either my fingers are dyslexic, or my Latin is slipping. That should be "muove," that there was no intention to badmouth dusky lavender hues.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at December 29, 2014 5:23 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

Most TS'ers know that I am active in an old-time religion... and yet, "Render unto Caesar" is one of my all time favorite sayings.

Lighten up, Francis, God won't have any of us changing his masterpiece...

Posted by: nanobrewer at December 30, 2014 11:44 PM

Watermelon

Who are the H8Rs again? I seem to have lost my program. The LCV makes it to #2.

markey_island.jpg

But johngalt thinks:

There is already an island that is reserved for "climate deniers." It is called the Constitutional Republic of the United States of America.

Posted by: johngalt at December 29, 2014 7:06 PM

December 26, 2014

From the Other Side...

Okay Occupy Democrats, this is wrong on 100 levels -- but pretty funny:

boehner_grinch.jpg

But johngalt thinks:

But it's just so hard to laugh at something that disrespects persons with green skin or orange skin.

Posted by: johngalt at December 26, 2014 4:29 PM

December 24, 2014

Truthers

My new favorite Internet star, Myles Power, came to my attention with his anti-anti-GMO work. But I was captivated and watched several of his anti-AIDS-denialism videos (I did not even know that was "a thing.")

And today, it's on to 9-11 truthers -- because it's the spirit of Christmas. (I do know some truthers, BTW, I don't know if we have any 'round these parts).

But but but but. I think at 12:50 into this one, he indelicately destroys every government conspiracy theory ever proposed.

I'll wait.

Merry Christmas!

Junk Science Posted by John Kranz at 1:49 PM | What do you think? [2]
But dagny thinks:

You know the moon landing was faked too. right?

Posted by: dagny at December 24, 2014 2:09 PM
But johngalt thinks:

The moon itself is fake.

Posted by: johngalt at December 24, 2014 3:34 PM

Scrooge Here.

Picture this: Kevin, a college student from a solidly middle-class family in Washington State, is at a food bank with a friend who sometimes picks up donations there. A woman with a clipboard approaches them. "Are you college students?" she asks. When they say "Yes," she asks a second question: "Did you know you're entitled to food stamps?" And then she says, "Let's get you signed up. We can get you $200 today."

Kevin interrupted, he told us. "I get money from my parents for food, and I'm not poor."

"But you're a college student, and if you work part-time or do work study on campus or get federal student loans I can sign you up," the woman said.

That woman, a recruiter, is part of a widespread effort to enroll every American who qualifies for benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, regardless of whether or not they need them or want them.


We can debate the safety net. But I suspect we all might agree that paying SNAP recruiters on commission is evil.

Merry Christmas. Hat-tip David Boaz

Agriculture Posted by John Kranz at 12:56 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Like drug dealers trying to get kids to try cigarettes, joints, cocaine, meth, heroin at a young age. "Customers for life" I think they call it.

Yes. Evil.

Posted by: johngalt at December 24, 2014 3:20 PM

December 23, 2014

"Stop gun violence - take guns to school!"

Or is that not the "logic" behind this nonsensical PSA?

First doctors are instructed to ask kids if their parents have guns. Then someone can believe this is a good idea. If the madness continues apace we'll soon need a signed permission slip from our kids to buy a gun. Or a non-electric car. Or a cigarette.

Gun Rights Posted by JohnGalt at 6:09 PM | What do you think? [2]
But jk thinks:

What could possibly go wrong?

Posted by: jk at December 23, 2014 6:34 PM
But Jk thinks:

Eugene Volokh is not impressed.

Posted by: Jk at December 23, 2014 8:51 PM

Quote of the Day

Fracking has now upended energy markets, pummeled petrodictators, confounded OPEC, forged deeper North American economic ties, slashed U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions to their lowest level since 1995, and sunk a nail into the coffin of most renewable-energy schemes (though there will be no slaying that zombie, as our future historian would also know).

Fracking is one industry. In time, the advantages it has given the U.S. will fade as the technology is more widely disseminated. Then it will be on to the next thing. Which, it is safe to say, will also be of American origin and design.

Here, then, is the larger lesson our future historian will draw for her students: Innovation depends less on developing specific ideas than it does on creating broad spaces. Autocracies can always cultivate their chess champions, piano prodigies and nuclear engineers; they can always mobilize their top 1% to accomplish some task. The autocrats' quandary is what to do with the remaining 99%. They have no real answer, other than to administer, dictate and repress. -- Bret Stephens, WSJ Ed Page


Science is Settled

My new favorite YouTube guy:

And:

Hat-tip: The awesome Sluts for Monsanto Facebook page

UPDATE: No, I haven't had enough: Bad science in the paper 'Hematotoxicity of Bacillus thuringiensis as Spore-crystal Blah Blah Blah'

Junk Science Posted by John Kranz at 1:43 PM | What do you think? [4]
But johngalt thinks:

I'm gonna try this again, even though I got schooled the last time I did it.

"Interpretated?"

Still though, jolly good!

Posted by: johngalt at December 23, 2014 6:58 PM
But johngalt thinks:

You buried the lede, bro! In the "Hematoxicity of Bacillus..." video he scoops that the "Omics Publishing Group" founded in India circa 2007 is where papers that can't pass peer review go to get published. And it has hundreds of Journals to its name, many of which may be pushed by your friendly neighborhood conspiratist as "scientific proof" of this or that reason to tell you what to do or where to send your money.

So what this amounts to is, scientific proof that you can't automatically trust peer reviewed science.

Omics Group - Accelerating Scientific Discovery

Yeah, the accelerating part is true enough.

"OMICS Group is a scientific organization that drives the progress of research through open access journals and organizes international conferences."

Heh. "Progress."

Posted by: johngalt at December 23, 2014 7:17 PM
But Jk thinks:

I guess I am on holiday workload but I watched about six of his this afternoon. The sum of them gives you a great feel for both the chicanery around science and the means of exploiting it.

Interpretated, huh? Is that me or my new buddy?

Posted by: Jk at December 23, 2014 8:35 PM
But jk thinks:

You may be on to something: at 1:58 of this one he says "orientated."

Posted by: jk at December 24, 2014 1:17 PM

Deleterious Anthropogenic Warming of the Globe

I used to consider this a snarky response to climate change fears, but I am warming to it. (Don't forget to tip your bartenders and waitresses...)

If it is so deleterious, why do so many vote with their feet?

By adding an average of 803 new residents each day between July 1, 2013 and July 1, 2014, Florida passed New York to become the nation’s third most populous state, according to U.S. Census Bureau state population estimates released today. Florida’s population grew by 293,000 over this period, reaching 19.9 million. The population of New York increased by 51,000 to 19.7 million.

California remained the nation’s most populous state in 2014, with 38.8 million residents, followed by Texas, at 27.0 million. Although the list of the 10 most populous states overall was unchanged, two other states did change positions, as North Carolina moved past Michigan to take the ninth spot.


California, Texas, Florida, North Carolina vs. New York, Michigan. It could be tax policy...


December 22, 2014

Lie with government and you may get fleas

"Conservation." The word has come to make my skin crawl.

Crow and thousands of others like him preserved millions of acres of land in return for state income-tax credits they could either sell for cash or use to pay their own income tax bill.

Now, the state is forcing a handful of those landowners -- and hundreds of people who bought those credits -- to pay as much as $220 million in back taxes because the state says the land isn't worth what the landowners claimed.

"It's like a bait-and-switch scam," Crow said. "Now my land is worth nothing, and I'm broke because of it. The only one making out is the state."

Aren't we fortunate to have government intervening in the economy and smoothing over capitalism's "rough edges?" Imagine if people were left to buy and sell their property without "incentives" and "conservation easements" and such. People would only have to worry about one other party being a shyster.

But jk thinks:

Gotta break some eggs to make an omelet.

Posted by: jk at December 23, 2014 10:01 AM

Uncle Vlad Knows.

Some of the superb content one can see on GMO Free USA's Facebook page.

Putin_GMOs.jpg

Shared by a new friend. A guitar player with MS. He also shares his "fused" diet. You can look it up but it is about 90% kale. No red meat, no fun. He has been on it a year -- hates it -- but sees a physician who "cured" his own MS by being on this diet three years.

Junk science and chronic diseases make such sad , but unfortunately frequent, companions.


Junk Science Posted by John Kranz at 1:50 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

I hear nobody in Russia has MS either... prob'ly because of the GMO thing. Medical vaycay for your new friend?

Posted by: johngalt at December 22, 2014 2:58 PM
But johngalt thinks:
The capacity of the human mind for swallowing nonsense and spewing it forth in violent and repressive action has never yet been plumbed.

-RAH

Posted by: johngalt at December 22, 2014 3:00 PM

Quote of the Day

Our first big stimulus fell flat, leaving Keynesians to argue that the recession would have been worse otherwise. George Washington's doctors probably argued that if they hadn't bled him, he would have died faster. -- John H. Cochrane, WSJ Ed Page
UPDATE: Honorable mention (same column):
By Keynesian logic, fraud is good; thieves have notoriously high marginal propensities to consume.

December 20, 2014

Advent Reading Complete

All the flags have to be scanned and OCR-ed. Looks like work:

books_w_flags.jpg

It was very interesting, and if I complete the scanning will do some sort of review corner. But it is pretty good to get back on my regular beat. Reason sent me a hardcopy of Damon Root's new one. "Overruled: The Long War for Control of the U.S. Supreme Court" I love the TOC:

overruled.jpg

Posted by John Kranz at 6:56 PM | What do you think? [1]
But Jk thinks:

Overruled is a 5star piece of awesome. The hardcover is up for grabs.

Posted by: Jk at December 21, 2014 5:07 PM

jk Solves the GOP Immigration Dilemna

Who better to wed pragmatic politics to smart policy? Wait -- don't answer that. But do give this a spin:

I applaud my blog brother for a well thought out outline of a plan to move forward. Curiously, I would be all in but do not think it will be accepted by my opponents. There is not a great amount of good faith between both sides. Any path to citizenship generally gets called "amnesty;" and the first time I hear "amnesty" I shut down respectful engagement.

But I have a suggestion. I recommended this month's Reason magazine for the Ted Cruz cover story. I also just finished Shikha Dalmia's excellent story on immigration. Dalmia -- and indeed most everybody at Reason and me -- decries the limited number of legal opportunities for immigration. "Get in line!" say opponents of illegal immigration. They skipped the line, make the ones currently here get back in line &c. I -- and Reason -- counter that there is no line.

There is not. There is a lottery and a lottery is not a line. If there are 50 spots and you are #51 -- you are not first next year. Any place there is a semblance of an orderly queue, it is like the Boulder Gun Club which has a 310 year waiting list. Yes Mr. Kranz, sign right there -- we'll call you or use whatever form of communication is common in 2315.

THE NEW GOP IMMIGRATION PLAN: create and enforce orderly queues for H1-B, Farm workers, family reunification, hardship cases, and I'd hope to add a guest worker queue. This will allow Congress to raise or lower quotas as needed. If they are too small as they are now, there is a risk that illegal crossings will continue. But I am willing to think those on the other side of the disagreement are better. Some Union guys and some protectionists will want to shut it down, but most people who see respect for law and sovereignty would not object. And the powerful Chamber of Commerce wing of the party would push the quotas up.

With a legal path, my team would loosen up on allowing enforcement. If a line is indeed extant, you can punish those who jump it.

Still 11 million unresolved issues, but the legislature would need to devise a method to get the current undocumented in line. Make them return to their home country to apply if you must. I disagree strongly but won't have this shot down with the A-word. You would think many would do what it takes to get legal status. Worst case it leaves them hear but at least moves us to an orderly system going forward.

But johngalt thinks:

It seems so simple!

Posted by: johngalt at December 21, 2014 3:38 AM

December 19, 2014

Quote of the Day II

We can argue about such things. But such arguments are a privilege -- and an obligation -- of free people. We get to decide where the public good takes precedence over the private. We get to debate the trade-offs between order and liberty, virtue and freedom. Us. Not them.

This is particularly true when the "them" in question is a crapulent pajama-wearing psychopathic dictator who starves his own people while cramming caviar down his gullet. When the Pillsbury Doughboy from Hell tries to tell us what kind of movies we can make or see, the only honorable response is "Go f**k yourself." -- Jonah Golberg [subscribe]


I can go "all-in" defending our rights to watch a terrible movie, but I do not want to look foolish when this is all exposed as a product of the SONY Pictures' PR Department.

But Keith Arnold thinks:

I saw this morning that a patriot group is planning on airdropping thousands of DVDs of "The Interview" into North Korea as a counteraction. I don't know if they realize their plan won't work; viewing a DVD requires electricity.

It seems to me North Korean paranoia has just raised the bar. Your national defense is pretty shaky if you feel threatened by a Seth Rogen movie.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at December 20, 2014 12:09 PM
But Jk thinks:

I fear they'll try to eat them, Keith.

Posted by: Jk at December 20, 2014 10:54 PM

Timely Cover

Who's on the cover of Reason? Why it is Senator Ted Cruz. Inside is a measured and generally complimentary article. My Google ninja skills were unable to find an online picture or the author's name.

I read it on Kindle® -- I also get a paper copy because Reason Foundation enjoys a little piece of my gargantuan philanthropy empire. If somebody would like the hardcopy, give a holler.


Quote of the Day

"Ce qu'il y a de redoubtable dans la realite de la vie, ce n'est pas la juxtaposition du bien et du mal: c'est leur interpenetration, c'est leur mutuelle incorporation, leur nourriture mutuelle, et parfois leur étrange, leur mysterieuse parente." (What is formidable in the reality of life is not the juxtaposition of good and evil; rather it is their interpenetration, their mutual incorporation, their mutual sustenance, and sometimes their strange and mysterious kinship.) -- Charles Pégue quoted in Charles Taylor A Secular Age ©2007 p750

December 18, 2014

Gene Simmons for President

This one hasn't filtered through to the #3src widget yet, despite preceding the one that did (with the misspelled "Deuche" critique.) But I was very impressed by the insights of the KISS bassist on FNC's 'Outnumbered' show today. The tweet was about his views on normalizing relations with Cuba but he was great on everything.

But jk thinks:

Going to watch it now. First, point of order -- DMs do not show on the widget. a .@genesimmons would have got you there.

Posted by: jk at December 19, 2014 6:11 PM
But jk thinks:

Ummm, I got "Study: Men tune out their partners when discussing feelings." His tongueness was interesting, but I don't think that was the clip you were recommending.

Posted by: jk at December 19, 2014 6:21 PM
But johngalt thinks:

They only chose a few bits to post video of and the segment on Cuba was outrageously not one of them. Nincompoops.

Posted by: johngalt at December 21, 2014 3:38 AM

"The Terrorists Have Won"

In the wake of Sony Pictures decision to mothball their movie "The Interview" in the wake of terror-like threats against movie theaters, even so far as invoking the images of 9/11 (what, are they going to fly jetliners into the Cineplex?) the punditry today has turned to criticism of Sony for "backing down" or "caving in" to terrorists.

Let's think about that for a moment...

Has this happened before?

And did it work then too?

Um hmm.

So those who lecture Sony that their decision will have a chilling effect on the movie industry should look in the mirror and ask themselves, "Did I feel the same way about Muhammad cartoons?"

Weakness in the face of those terror threats was arguably the foundation for the Sony hacking, and for the strategy the state-worshipping North Koreans chose for spiking the film about their "Dear Leader."

But Keith Arnold thinks:

They may have won, but the terrorists have at least given the incomparable David Burge some choice material for tweeting:

http://bit.ly/1z21ok1

Posted by: Keith Arnold at December 18, 2014 7:24 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Ouch!

Posted by: johngalt at December 18, 2014 9:16 PM

Leadership

I guess I opened the season around ThreeSources with remarks highly critical of Sen. Ted Cruz (All Around Good Guy - TX). But as my father used to say "hell, we can't dance."

Cruz stoked the fire of populist rage with parliamentary tricks to document just how opposed he is to "amnesty." Senator Rand Paul (jk crush - KY), conversely, leads by explaining how a less popular position is better.

Paul criticized the trade and travel embargo on Cuba as ineffective, separating himself from former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who have criticized Obama and backed the embargo.

All four men are considered likely contenders for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination.

"In the end, I think opening up Cuba is probably a good idea," Paul told Tom Roten of WVHU radio in West Virginia, The Associated Press reports.


Nice.

2016 Posted by John Kranz at 2:53 PM | What do you think? [4]
But johngalt thinks:

Rubio answered this last night on the Kelly File. He basically said that the so-called embargo is not the issue. Legitimizing the Dictatorial regime is the issue.

My problem with POTUS is not the normalization of relations, but that the dictators gave up virtually nothing to get it. Despite an existential threat to their regime in the form of oil price normalization.

Posted by: johngalt at December 19, 2014 1:47 PM
But jk thinks:

I cannot be completely pleased that the President has found application for his phone and his pen. (Somebody on the Internet remarked the other day that "they used to say Bush was the cowboy going it alone?") Think of how great were a real leader to choose this as a priority and work with Congress to relax or rescind Helms-Burton while his State Department negotiated for normalized relationships and -- oh ha ha ha who am I kidding?

But, I will give the President broken clock props on this. This is a great thing. I credit Sen. Paul with magnanimity in recognizing it. I do not chide Sen. Rubio -- that is deeply wired into the Cuban ex-Pat community and don't expect him to hop on board. (The first HuffPo article looked like Sen. Rubio was on board, and I thought President Obama [perhaps really was a genius after all.)

The President is a poor negotiator and the US will always have to give too much in prisoner exchanges. I do not dispute your objection. Yet I am a free trader and an advocate of bottom up liberty. On a trade deal, there is always focus on what concessions one gets, but the win is the trade; it is always and everywhere a good deal to import more, export more.

So I am in that head space. Is it a suck ass deal? Yeah, prob'ly. But there is no deal worse than what we have.

Posted by: jk at December 19, 2014 5:59 PM
But johngalt thinks:

It is a complicated situation, made even more so by the fact that the president of the greatest force for freedom and capitalism on earth - the U.S.A. - is currently administrated by an egalitarian socialist.

Here are some points of view from persons closer to Cuba than myself. http://washington.cbslocal.com/2014/12/22/cuban-catholics-betrayed-pope/

Posted by: johngalt at December 22, 2014 5:45 PM
But jk thinks:

After my appeal-to-authority of the WSJ in l'Affaire Cruz, I should admit that they are foursquare against this. Though they have called for an end to the embargo for 20 years, they do not approve of "the deal or the timing.

I am so opposed to the embargo it is hard for me to not celebrate its demise -- even if the Pope likes it!

Posted by: jk at December 22, 2014 6:38 PM

December 17, 2014

All Hail Taranto!

taranto141217.gif

Amazing!

Gun Rights Posted by John Kranz at 5:23 PM | What do you think? [0]

In his own words

My last comment on the Ted Cruz "hate-fest" entry featured an excerpt suggesting that the negativity surrounding the Senator is a result of the media filter. Here he is without that filter, talking about the vote in question.

But johngalt thinks:

The people are wrong to distrust Washington? That was my chief assertion on the people's behalf, though I realize it may not have filtered through my tortured prose. They want immigration changes to be done slowly, in the light of day, so we see what happens and can make changes as needed. Instead, Washington does everything with thousand-page bills passed the day after first reading. C'mon, man!

Posted by: johngalt at December 18, 2014 3:07 PM
But jk thinks:

I'm neither making friends nor believing that we are really communicating. We're obviously not that different on restraining Washington.

I remain disappointed with Sen. Cruz. Out of all the abuses, he latches onto immigration which gives him a cheap win with a large part of the base. Many are true believers and perhaps they have Cruz to be their advocate. And I should smile and choose another. Let me highlight ways I am affected.

1. Sen. Cruz does not say "I have this position and others have theirs;" Sen. Cruz says "I represent the people and the others have been swallowed by the Establishment." His positions are far holier than thou's.

2. I have been a thin reed against the tsunami of CRomnibus complaints. It is both a "libertario delenda est" issue and it a :don't jump off the ledge, Republicans!" issue. He profits from that anger (he's the only one listening to you) and he stokes it. You'll concede verisimilitude in the accusation that "he doesn't know politics is a team sport?"

3. He is becoming the face of the party and further associating the GOP with a hardline position.

Posted by: jk at December 18, 2014 6:34 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:


> I remain disappointed with Sen. Cruz.

Put me down as shocked... SHOCKED! ;-)

> he latches onto immigration

That, and spending are the two biggies, IMO. That he chose the one that could catch fire is a positive sign in my book. Oh, and we should note that spending does not break any law....

Sen. Cruz says "I represent the people and the others have been swallowed by the Establishment."

Well, you gotta admit he's got polling data and the letter of the law on his side.

"he doesn't know politics is a team sport?"
This is where the venerable Mr. Will has lost his way in the DC swamps: he missed the qualifier BAD POLITICS is ...

Good politics is nearly always a lonely bluff (think of a geological feature, not poker). Ask RR's ghost, who was vastly unpopular for a long time. Shoot, so was Honest Abe....

He is becoming the face of the party and further associating the GOP with a hardline position. Mainly by the liberal media and RINO's who are desperately trying to hide their lack of principle, knowledge and backbone. I don't know that the TP are flocking to his banner, but I'm pretty disconnected.

Posted by: nanobrewer at December 19, 2014 12:43 AM
But Jk thinks:

My gripe about immigration is not priority, my gripe is that I think him wrong -- and he prioritized it. He hinges on the "unconstitutional amnesty" and I appreciate the unconstitutional part. The A-word is a dog whistle to the populist right. I'll listen to any point on immigration, but when I hear the word amnesty, you've lost my serious consideration.

Ronald Reagan was a pretty good party man. Even through disappointing primary losses, he was there from Goldwater to his own nomination. I can't recall his undercutting party leadership in the manner of Cruz.

Posted by: Jk at December 19, 2014 10:57 PM
But Jk thinks:

... And check out thus month's Reason. You'll like their take on Sen. Cruz.

Posted by: Jk at December 19, 2014 11:13 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Reagan was a good man. So was Mister Smith.

Posted by: johngalt at December 22, 2014 12:07 PM

The Segue Master™

Kids, don't try this at home, this is a 12-year blogger.

Social media is rightly abuzz with the first lady's brave tale of pico-aggression. She was in Target (like Jane Goodall seeking understanding of lower primates) and was asked by another shopper to help get some detergent from a high shelf.

"The Humanity" was, of course, my comment but that works anywhere. Many thought it did not happen at all. Some pointed out that the same tale was shared on David Letterman as hilarious relief of non-recognition. Tom Maguire chimes in:

A different explanation is that somebody mistook Michelle for someone who was tall, athletic, and happy to help. And hey, two out of three ain't bad. I throw out that theory, bizarre as it may seem to some, because from time to time women ask me to help them get something down from a tall shelf in a store. Hmm, maybe I look Irish and they think there is a railroad track I ought to be putting down somewhere?

But I have come up with the worst thing about this and the one which puts FLOTUS in the worst possible light. The real comparison is with President George HW Bush (#41 for those playing the home version). He went to a grocery store -- likely on just as political a stunt mission -- and famously remarked in the late 20th Century how amazing the scanner technology was. This was translated by the leftist media as wonder. He's so out of touch -- he's never even seen a scanner! Patrician slob has never been in a store before.

Well, I am going to be so bold as to suggest that the first lady does not shop at Target a lot. If she had, the experience would be more familiar and less demeaning.

The same of course happens to me all the time. "Enschuldigung, mien Herr! Gross Weiss Mann!" Would you grab the detergent off that "hoch" shelf, Bitte?

But do I get upset?


Hasanyi Hailed. Cruz & Warren, Stewed

FOXNews panel on l'Affaire Cruz -- with a bonus David Hanyi reference!

Hat-tip: Umm, David Harsanyi. (Shameless.)

But johngalt thinks:

My comment to this is posted above.

Posted by: johngalt at December 17, 2014 3:48 PM

Is This For Real?

If this is true. maybe I am a Senator Marco Rubio guy after all.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The United States and Cuba will start talks on normalizing full diplomatic relations, marking the most significant shift in U.S. policy toward the communist island in decades, American officials said Wednesday. The announcement comes amid a series of new confidence-building measures between the longtime foes, including the release of American Alan Gross and the freeing of three Cubans jailed in the U.S.

Talk about a failed policy: the Cuban embargo is anti-trade, anti-human-rights, and a multi-decadal failure. I am highly supportive of the ex-pat community in S. Florida and know they have supported it, but you gotta know when to fold 'em, amigos.

Anybody seen this in a non-HuffPo source?

Cuba Posted by John Kranz at 11:47 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Yeah man, it's all over FNC. The President gave a speech about it this morning. It seems that much of the barriers are legislative, so Congress will have to act before those come down. Mostly he traded a few Cuban spies for one of ours and Cuba released some political prisoners, including one Jewish American.

I don't get the Marco Rubio reference. He and Robert Menendez are savaging the move.

"Know when to fold 'em" is convenient advice for the Castro brothers, who are both in their golden years or beyond. Word is this was prompted by a letter from the socialist Pope. Kumbaya, and pass the grits comrade.

Posted by: johngalt at December 17, 2014 3:37 PM

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like CRomnibus!

Another nugget unearthed from the 1600 page CRomnibus "a provision that effectively ends the federal government's prohibition on medical marijuana and signals a major shift in drug policy."

More important, from the standpoint of activists, Congress' action marked the emergence of a new alliance in marijuana politics: Republicans are taking a prominent role in backing states' right to allow use of a drug the federal government still officially classifies as more dangerous than cocaine.

"This is a victory for so many," said the measure's coauthor, Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of Costa Mesa. The measure's approval, he said, represents "the first time in decades that the federal government has curtailed its oppressive prohibition of marijuana."


I realize this is not uncontroversial around ThreeSources. For the record, I think the medical benefits of Marijuana are wildly overstated. I like "medical" marijuana as a stepping stone to decriminalization. And I like it as recognition of what Randy Barnett calls our "inalienable right to property in one's person." A sick person (or even a well person on planet jk) should be able to try what they want.

But I'll ask those who do not approve to see this as a step toward 10th Amendment Federalism.

113th Congress Posted by John Kranz at 10:25 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Today, Kim Strassel brings word of even more GOP policy wins in the Cromnibus:

The omnibus as a result contained more conservative policy progress—from blocking a sage grouse listing, to trucking rules, to EPA authority—than Republicans had gained in the previous four years.

This will be the model for most GOP policy victories. Every spending bill it creates will contain dozens of policy riders, and Mr. Obama will have to choose the ones over which he’ll threaten a veto. The rest, presumably, will pass. Mr. Boehner recently said that he may attach GOP border-security priorities to the Homeland Security funding bill that is due in February. Republicans may not be able to force the president to rescind his immigration executive order, but they might end up with a start to immigration reform.

That sage grouse listing is a big deal in the Rocky Mountain west, as it had the potential to derail oil production in multiple states.

Posted by: johngalt at December 19, 2014 5:11 PM

December 16, 2014

RINO Sighting

Jeb - "I have decided to actively explore the possibility of running for President of the United States."

He would enter the 2016 race as a top-tier GOP candidate with a perhaps unparalleled fundraising apparatus -- but also with views in support of comprehensive immigration reform and the Common Core educational standards that are deeply out of step with much of the party base.

Instead of modifying his positions, however, Bush has indicated that he will work to persuade fellow Republicans to come around on these hot-button issues.

I'm home today with a case of the mutant flu so I got to watch extended coverage of this on Fox News Channel. Nicole Petalides described the morning DOW rally as a "Bush Bounce" on the news that the Wall Street favorite was announcing for President. "Rilly" thought I? Not the rebound in oil prices? Okay, you're the expert. By the closing bell, however, all of the markets closed down slightly despite a 350 point DOW swing. So much for the "bounce." Now, what about the Bush?

I found myself eerily taken with the news. Here is a temperate man with good hair and fluency in the Spanish tongue. His electability is almost unquestioned (except by dagny who said America won't elect another Bush) but The Independents' Kennedy, for one, offered [on #Outnumbered] an easy solution to that minor handicap: "I believe he is going to change his last name to Reagan. Then he won't have to convince people he is the next Reagan, he can just say, 'I'm Jeb Reagan." As the linked article says, "Jeb Bush served two terms in Tallahassee between 1999 and 2007, during which he developed a deeply conservative record on a wide range of issues." And I've always regarded him higher than his little brother George. I believe he could be a far different President than his brother or father were. So I asked dagny, "Other than perceptions of electability, what issues hurt Jeb with the conservative, or TEA Party, or Liberty wing of the GOP? The pull quote names two of them - immigration and Common Core. I think I could live with his position on immigration. Common Core, however, belies a willingness to concentrate more power in Washington. NOOOOOOO! Has the establishment learned nothing? Maybe, and maybe not. The good thing is, we're about to find out.

2016 Posted by JohnGalt at 4:00 PM | What do you think? [10]
But jk thinks:

Let me be the first: AMNESTY!!!

Sorry, man, I love it -- every line -- but these hollowed pages are the last place it can be discussed.

Posted by: jk at December 16, 2014 6:28 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Do you mean, the only place it can be discussed?

Calling what I've outlined "amnesty" is like saying bootleggers should be kept in jail after the repeal of prohibition.

Posted by: johngalt at December 17, 2014 11:52 AM
But jk thinks:

My comment was not well written. Yes, the only place.

And III am not calling it "Amnesty," but all the people at all the places I used to be able to discuss immigration will call anything amnesty if it does not start with border security first and offer any path to residency or citizenship that does not include return to home country. There is no room for negotiation with a large part of the conservative base.

Posted by: jk at December 17, 2014 12:27 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes, that's how I took it - that others would reflexively call it amnesty. And that was why I broke it down: To show that opposing immigration of workers is bald labor protectionism, and is the agenda of labor unions, first and foremost. I believe Laura Ingraham is the worst example of this and I pull my hair out every time I hear her harping about "American workers quality of life." Shall we raise the minimum wage too, Laura?

My premise is that voting and government cheese for non-citizens are the chief concerns of most conservatives, so my plan addressed those concerns.

Posted by: johngalt at December 17, 2014 12:39 PM
But jk thinks:

Let me put me cheerful face on. I have been accused of bad faith in immigration discussions -- and I'll accept some culpability.

But, boy howdy, the Tancredo wing does not follow the rational tack you adumbrate. Let me share a favorite phrase: "What part of illegal don't you understand?" They want these people punished for a crime. They want the border militarized to prevent its ever happening again.

You'll wince by my alluding to Jonathan Haidt / Arnold Kling again, but Conservatives per Kling operate on the order-barbarianism access; the rule of law means more than an economic cost/effect.

Posted by: jk at December 17, 2014 12:59 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I meant to tell you that I talked to Tancredo about this subject on live radio. His resistance to any change in the status quo comes from a steadfast belief that the political pressure to allow immigrants to vote will be so overwhelming that eventually they'll get the franchise.

Posted by: johngalt at December 17, 2014 3:31 PM

December 15, 2014

Otequay of the Ayday

"An understanding that altruism can produce great evil as well as good is crucial to the defense of human freedom and dignity."

-James Taranto, in last year's essay on Pathological Altruism


All Hail Taranto!

taranto141215.gif

Colorado Posted by John Kranz at 5:54 PM | What do you think? [3]
But johngalt thinks:

The first story at the Eunice the Uterus link above is about the role that "Pathological Altruism" played in yesterday's Sydney hostage taking. That was also the subject or my post on saving people or saving the so-called "safety net" 2 weeks ago. I just read, and "Otequayed" an excellent Taranto article on the topic.

Posted by: johngalt at December 15, 2014 6:23 PM
But jk thinks:

Point of Order: the post is an image and clicking anywhere takes you to James's column. You can scroll to find the individual links to find the items that look like links.

I had hoped you would see the lead story and recommend it to others. (I did not remember last year's posted above). The "benefit of the doubt" afforded the Sydney Terrorist (or misguided Raider Fan) is pretty stunning.

Posted by: jk at December 15, 2014 7:08 PM
But johngalt thinks:

The BOTW article is behind the filthy capitalist pay wall so I wasn't able to read about the Raiders fan and other terrorists. But I did find this video of Taranto talking about the issue. And at the very end he links pathological altruism to the Senate Democrats and their so-called "torture" report.

Posted by: johngalt at December 16, 2014 2:36 PM

Match. Fuse. jk.

I'm off the Ted Cruz (Presidential Candidate - TX) bandwagon.

To be fair, I was never 100% comfortably seated. He has a compelling biography and I enjoyed his speech at the 2012 GOP convention. But, while he can be a principled voice for liberty, I have always found it mixed in equal parts with self-aggrandizement.

I accept that not a lot of humble people run for President. I laugh that -- when I really pinned them down-- what really bothered my progressive friends about President George W. Bush was "arrogance." And I'll concede there was some frat-boy bravado behind the legendary "smirk." I laugh because the new occupant of 1600 Penn is a messianic megalomaniac, but the same crowd is not so much disturbed.

I relate the partisan nature because I must also admit that my preferred candidate, Rand Paul (Presidential Candidate - KY), shares some of the same faults. Yet I assert that Sen. Paul is "doing what it takes to be elected as a 'pragmatic' libertarian."

We'll have plenty of time to sort it out before 2016, but Sen. Cruz's unfortunate stunt cost the cause of liberty dearly.

But Cruz's last-minute procedural maneuver to demand a vote on immigration scuttled that deal and forced senators to stay in Washington for the weekend. Not only did the immigration vote fail by a wide margin, 74-22, but the maneuver allowed Democrats to advance a slate of two dozen Obama nominees to executive branch positions faster than they otherwise would have proceeded.

The nominations include Tony Blinken as deputy secretary of state, Dr. Vivek Murthy as surgeon general, Sarah Saldana as head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Carolyn Colvin to lead the Social Security Administration. These, in addition to several judicial appointments, are expected to begin processing on Monday.

"It will have the end result of causing nominees who I think are not well qualified to be confirmed, so I don't understand the approach that he is taking," Republican Susan Collins of Maine told The New York Times. "And I think it's very unfortunate and counterproductive."


Bluto: "This calls for a pointless gesture!" Exactly that for which my Facebook Feed cries. Had he done it over overspending, I might have a bit more sympathy. No, it is over the red-meat, base-firing-up issue of "amnesty!"

So screw it -- he can't even be Vice President now.

UPDATE: "fart-boy corrected to "frat-boy;" ThreeSources apologizes...

Internecine Posted by John Kranz at 11:36 AM | What do you think? [16]
But Keith Arnold thinks:

"... Are we to trust Candy Crowley and George Stephanopoulos..."

Hell, no.

"Well, I did try to start a fight..."

Didn't take it as such; like the favored candidates I named, I think all of us here agree on a lot more than not. What distinguishes us doesn't divide us. Huh; maybe a lot of people in politics could learn something from us. We may have significant differences on guns, religion, drugs, or immigration that make us all interesting. I know I've changed since I first started participated here, and I'm the better for it.

"But I am still choosing."

If history is any teacher, I will likely have to change my choices somewhere along the way as mine fall by the wayside. We've had some interesting conversations on these pages about the relative ranking of past presidents, and I wouldn't be averse to doing the same to the field of candidates. Besides the ones already named in the comments up to this point, are there any I've missed that we might want to include at this point?

Posted by: Keith Arnold at December 15, 2014 7:53 PM
But Jk thinks:

Condoleeza Rice.

Posted by: Jk at December 15, 2014 8:46 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

So this story from a lefty journal (as did one in WaPo that PowerLine cited) notes the following as confirmed:

a deputy Sec. of State, Surgeon Gen'l (disliked by the NRA for some social media posts), the head of SSC, the lead of ICE... what, maybe 2-3 weeks earlier than they would have otherwise been?

Talk about a tempest in a teapot. And why hold fire on Sen. Lee? B/c he's not targeted by the liberal media, is all I can see.

Mostly importantly, is there any doubt dingy Harry would have gotten these appt's confirmed before the GOP wave washed in? The media avoided that little detail, as apparently everyone here did. Lastly, I'll say these stories are working on GOP fratricide the way Sharpton worked the crowds in Ferguson. Put down the matches, my fellow walkers.

Cruz is not likely to get very far in GOP primary land b/c he is so principled, well-spoken and would rather "Fight, than switch" (to cite an old death-stick schtick from the ole' days)...oh, and such a target for liberal bile.

If we're going to pile on one of our best and brightest, can it be over something real, and not just "annoying Republicans" or giving the liberal media an inviting target?

Posted by: nanobrewer at December 15, 2014 11:34 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Doubling down on Nanobrewer's: Twitchy weighs in on whether this is Cruz' fault: http://bit.ly/1A0WN5B

Money quote: "Thanks to Ted Cruz, Mike Lee & the other conservatives who are being smeared for doing what the whole GOP should be doing."

Posted by: Keith Arnold at December 16, 2014 12:04 AM
But jk thinks:

I wondered if I would get a full throated defense of Sen. Cruz. Well played!

Senate rules and procedures are such witchery that it is hard to say who is right. My understanding was that Cruz's tactic forced the session to last over the weekend and that this gave Sen. Reid an extra few days' tenure as Majority Leader. Without Cruz, he would have had to convince his caucus to stay an extra weekend -- and we are not talking about men and women with Peyton Manning's work ethic.

I consider another three days of the 113th Senate an unalloyed bad. I don't agree with Sen. Lindsey Graham (FOXNews - SC) everyday, but I join him in desire to close the book on 113 and -- as the great political philosopher Bob Segar said -- turn the page.

Posted by: jk at December 16, 2014 10:26 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Here's an interesting article on Cruz' strategy, suggesting that "it seems all but a given that [he] will mount a bid for the White House."

The assumption from one Cruz adviser is that it is the filter of the media that has generated the negativity surrounding Cruz and fueled the misperceptions about him. If he runs for president, the idea is that voters will see him unfiltered, and that he will succeed in persuading them. He will first have to win a primary, and another senior adviser tells me that there, he expects most of the contenders to offer poor imitations of Cruz's anti-Washington shtick. "Do you think anybody's going to out-anti-Washington Ted Cruz?" he asks. "Good luck."
Posted by: johngalt at December 16, 2014 3:59 PM

Quote of the Day

Jim Geraghty [subscribe], helping the media discover underlying motivation:

Guys. Guys. If an armed perpetrator brings a black flag with Islamic writing to a hostage situation, and makes the hostages hold it up in the windows so the media can see it . . . it isn't to protest against the Islamic State or Islamic extremism. He's not a confused Oakland Raider fan who really likes cursive writing.

Maybe the guy couldn't stop by the Islamic State Merchandising Shop on his way to the hostage site. Maybe he's not detail-oriented. But Occam's Razor would suggest that a guy who makes hostages hold up an Islamic flag so the media can see it is acting in the name of an Islamist agenda.


Extra points, as always, for an AFC West reference

War on Terror Posted by John Kranz at 9:54 AM | What do you think? [0]

December 14, 2014

Remember at the Tea Party Rallies?

When we printed rules for how African American participants were supposed to behave?

Yeah, me neither.

Just. Wow.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:23 PM | What do you think? [1]
But Keith Arnold thinks:

I think the last time we had printed rules for African-American participants, it was called the Dred Scott Decision.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at December 15, 2014 1:05 PM

December 12, 2014

Can we Keep CRomnibus in our hearts all year long?

...or "Let's put the CR back in CRomnibus!"

Seriously, I have solidified my whole political philosophy around this unfortunate piece of legislative sausage. It's the best the current cooks can do, and I am ready to wait for the 114th.

The epiphany is a Prosperitarian one. Nobody hated government shutdowns worse that Prosperitarian Patron Saint Larry Kudlow. It interfered with business! The market might go down! You libertarian kids -- it's all fun and games to cut spending until the S&P dips below 1600!! I -- sadly -- have realized that the GOP was NOT sent to Washington to cut government. They were sent because the Democrats overreached. They broke health care!

My libertoid and my Tea Party friends are pretty sure there was a mandate for praying to Hayek in the public schools. Would I 'twere twue, but they sent us in because the last folks stunk up the joint. The non-partisans might want lower taxes or more privacy on some level, but the folks who rush to pick up Junior at soccer practice really want tomorrow to look like today. They figured out today, mostly. Health care was broken for 50 years, but people learned ways to make it work. The Byzantine tax code sucks -- but if you have enough to worry, you hire dagny.

I got very excited on Facebook last week over a citizen initiative to establish year-round Daylight Savings Time in Colorado. This topic was near and dear to my heart -- where do I sign? A string of comments from people of all stripes convinced me that change was madness. It is the stupidest gorram thing there is and everybody hates it twice a year. But Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt will stop any chance of extirpation. Will it be all year Standard (Like Arizona?) Oh, no, it will be too dark for little Marchem at the bus stop. Year round Daylight? Will computers be able to handle that? Put us in Central without adjusting is my favorite suggestion A good friend asked if I was some kind of flat-earther that did not realize it gets darker earlier in Illinois than Colorado.

So, no. We'll never ever fix that. Everyone has learned to deal with it. And I have become the Jonathan Gruber of the wristwatch. The pointy head reformer looks back in the mirror!

Nossir -- from now on, incremental change.

But nanobrewer thinks:

the GOP was NOT sent to Washington to cut government . I sure hope you are wrong, but I wholeheartedly agree (and have used many words here in support) the GOP is stocked full of what I call "DC Insiders" who are only there to play the Plenem game. Witness their horror and near scorched-earth reaction to the TP.

Still, the new crop, specifically those like Ernst, Gardner, Cotton, and Col. McSally are good heads onto which to hope the new Defender of Liberty hat may perch. They must have the fortitude to challenge the current leadership, and I do not like the odds facing McConnel and Boehner!

McSally alone could take on the entire leadership, I think. A10 pilot, Cmdr. of FS 354 climbed KJ...

Posted by: nanobrewer at December 13, 2014 12:23 AM
But jk thinks:

I am a big fan of the new crop -- and would add Rep. Mia Love of Utah. I look forward to the 114th. I'm just counseling an incremental approach: do not overreach.

And by overreach, I mean do what ThreeSourcers and their friends would like done in a time scale they'd enjoy.

I'm being very serious here; please tell me where I am wrong. We seek a certain philosophy but we also look for ways to accomplish it in the current electoral framework. I suggest that a calm, incremental, go slow pace of reform would go over well with the fabled moderates and low information voters.

Therefore, the CRomnibus is a hit (As Rosemary Clooney sang: It's not the things you do at CRomnibus time, but the CRomnibus things you do all year). Imagine, Ebenezer, this scene from CRomnibus past:

Had there been turbulence and drama of government shutdown three weeks after an historic GOP win, had the DJIA dropped 400 points or more, it would establish a narrative of "there they go again."

Instead the 113th ends with a whimper (sorry to mix Dickens and Eliot) and the new crop that excites both of us can pick their battles and enact structural reforms instead of a budget battle on their first week.

Posted by: jk at December 13, 2014 10:20 AM

Cromnibus Silver Lining

I am on record as opposing Cromnibus but despite my no-holds-barred effort at lobbying against it, passage was achieved with 7 votes to spare. Drudge is in mass-mutiny mode with the headlines:

Republicans accuses leadership of breaking promise to kill bill... Even First Lady's Lunch Program Funded! PALIN: 'Stinks to high heaven'... BoehnerObama Deals Have Increased Debt $3.8 TRILLION...

MERRY CHRISTMAS: GOVT GOODIES FOR ALL!

But dear dagny finds something to like in the #TooBigToRead measure - 'Congress moves one step closer toward allowing pension cuts.' CNN Money

The Congressional proposal would allow plans that are projected to run out of money in the next 10 to 20 years to cut the benefits they pay to both current and future retirees. Benefits would not be cut for disabled pensioners or those 80 years and older, while cuts would be lessened for those between 75 and 80.

The PBGC projects that more than 10% of the roughly 1,400 multiemployer pension plans, which cover more than 1 million workers and retirees, currently meet this criteria.

Under current law, cutting the benefits of those who are already retired is off-limits. Instead, troubled multiemployer plans can take other actions, like reducing the benefits employees earn going forward and raising employee and employer contributions to the plan.

If the Congressional plan passes, cuts would require participant and government approval first, although the largest troubled plans could slash benefits even if retirees vote against it.

Paying employees who are no longer employed has got to be the biggest miscalculation ever made during the heyday of the postwar era. It is well past time for the unsustainable and morally hazardous practice to end. This would be a good start. Your turn, Senators.

But Jk thinks:

All hail dagny!

Posted by: Jk at December 12, 2014 4:04 PM
But Jk thinks:

Or . . . "How I stopped worrying and learned to love the CRomnibus."

Posted by: Jk at December 12, 2014 4:11 PM
But Jk thinks:

Cher does not approve.

Posted by: Jk at December 12, 2014 4:59 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I'm with Cher. (Did I just say that?) But Gardner, Coffman, Tipton? They approve.

Posted by: johngalt at December 12, 2014 6:52 PM
But Jk thinks:

You're with Cher, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and Leader Pelosi. I'm with the President and Speaker Boehner. Cray cray.

Doesn't matter. Reading Facebook, all life is over, we've been betrayed.

Posted by: Jk at December 12, 2014 8:46 PM

December 11, 2014

Real consequences of "Cli-Fi"

Consequence Number 1: The decline of humanity

From the Friday Funnies linked in today's Cli-Fi post,

David Brower, a founder of the Sierra Club: "Childbearing should be a punishable crime against society, unless the parents hold a government license. All potential parents should be required to use contraceptive chemicals, the government issuing antidotes to citizens chosen for childbearing."

Now, this hasn't actually happened, but for statements like this to go unchallenged in the public square, along with similar sentiments by Paul Ehrlich, Ted Turner and David Foreman, creates a palpable sense that having a large family is somehow "evil." Au contraire.

I know a lot of us have been brainwashed into thinking that our natural and manufactured resources are shrinking. We're often told that we have a choice of either radically reducing our consumption or our population or we'll eventually run out of water, energy, and food. Excuse me, but this is hogwash. That's because we heard the same thing in 1714, or 1814, and probably the year 10,000 B.C. And they were wrong then too.

What's the biggest reason that the doomsayers about the end of the world's resources have always been wrong? The answer is that some members of those growing populations decided not to give up and came up with new ideas, technologies and resources to replace and improve living conditions. I'm talking about the people who have come up with the technologies to desalinate water, terrace mountainsides, drain swamps and fight disease with vaccinations and sewage treatment. I'm talking about the people who came up with kerosene to replace whale blubber, petroleum to replace kerosene, natural gas to replace petroleum, and so on and so on. All of the above came courtesy of humans. Reduce their number, and you also reduce your chances for the great innovations that make life better for the humans already on the planet and make life more comfortable and possible for billions more to join us.

In short, people are our greatest resource. Economic growth cannot occur without human growth. And this is not a problem that can simply be solved by increasing immigration. That's because there's a societal price we're paying in this country for having fewer children later in life. Just about every parent I know will tell you that the moment their first child was born was the moment they truly accepted the responsibility of their own adulthood to the fullest. That's a moment I'm willing to delay for teenagers - we generally don't want them becoming parents that young. But when we start seeing more 25- to 45-year-olds who clearly haven't yet grown up yet, I get concerned.

But jk thinks:

Parson Malthuis, call your office!

This is the most pernicious lie of all radical environmentalism and a common thread through all of it -- if climate science goes away, misanthropy will be tied to whatever comes after it.

Posted by: jk at December 11, 2014 4:53 PM
But jk thinks:

Everybody see what Bill Nutz The Science Putz said?

Bill Nye "The Science Guy" has gone as far as issuing a statement that those questioning the accuracy global warming claims shouldn't be referred to as "climate skeptics" but rather "climate deniers."

Posted by: jk at December 11, 2014 4:56 PM
But johngalt thinks:

But Bill, I self-identify as a skeptic. If anyone calls me a denier it will do irreparable damage to my self-image. #EndTheHate!

Posted by: johngalt at December 11, 2014 6:20 PM
But jk thinks:

I try to ignore folks' worst features. And Mr. Nye does come on The Independents to get yelled at now and then.

But it says a lot that they want their intellectual opponents to be called names. #EndTheHate!

Posted by: jk at December 11, 2014 6:53 PM

Getting closer to what "acting white" really means

Daily Caller: MSNBC Guest: Capitalism Is An 'Oppressive Force' Against Blacks

[Can't figure out how to stop the stoopid autoplay.]

DYSON: The problem extends beyond police departments. What is the next institution that needs to be isolated and challenged?

"HIP HOP ACTIVIST" ROSA CLEMENTE: The economy. Capitalism! I think that's the institution all over this country, it is really what is the oppressive force. And the police are actually in my opinion-- and we have a lot of theory that proves this-- are that force that are keeping us as particularly working class people from achieving this idea of, you know, economic justice. Economic justice is not devoid from racial justice, just like it's not devoid of gender justice.

Dear Ms. Clemente, "Justice" does not equal "make people give you things."

But jk thinks:

Hardware guys . . . You just set the WidgetId to 2 instead of one in the embed code.

Posted by: jk at December 11, 2014 3:54 PM
But jk thinks:

She teaches at the California State University, Los Angeles. You don't suppose those taking her courses in the Pan-African Studies Department are given an incomplete appreciation for the benefits of free markets?

Nah. it's probably just me.

Posted by: jk at December 11, 2014 3:57 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I was looking for autoplay=true, so I could change it to false. Unlike you, I can't understand "condenser language." [paraphrased Star Wars reference]

I am quite certain she is a collectivist of one or more stripe. But this is an important connection between "racial justice" and "economic justice." And Dyson cued her perfectly, almost as though he knew what her answer would be.

Posted by: johngalt at December 11, 2014 4:16 PM
But jk thinks:

In a real discussion of police power, I suggest over-legislation is the #1 problem. If cops are not hassling folks for untaxed cigarettes, driving without a seat belt, possessing a joint, or -- my new cause celebre: "puffing*" I think people of all stripes would start to see the thin blue line's protecting their rights rather than taking them.

On race, the #1 (maybe not but a huge) problem is in your headline: "acting white." Jason Riley just breaks my heart in Please Stop Helping Us [Review Corner]. His friends and family can be quick to denigrate his incredible success as "acting white."

* Note to Californians: "puffing" is the CRIME of leaving your running car unattended to warm it up or defrost the windows. You can get a ticket for that in Colorado, as the State is spending gobs of dough to advertise.

Posted by: jk at December 11, 2014 4:22 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Perhaps there's some more low-hanging fruit here for depopulating our prisons and reducing the size of our police forces?

Posted by: johngalt at December 11, 2014 7:26 PM
But Jk thinks:

Yes, but you're fighting baptists & bootleggers -- we need $10/pack cigarette taxes to protect the children!!!

Maybe folks will listen; there is a window.

Posted by: Jk at December 11, 2014 9:27 PM

Ehrmigawd Someone Sneaked Freedom in the Cromnibus!

Folks have derided the government funding bill lovably named "Cromnibus."

"See!!!???" intone my LP friends with spittle marks on the monitor, "Your lousy GOP clowns have folded already!!" And it is a hard bill to love, spending $1.1T, shutting down DC's voter approved marijuana decriminalization attempts, and keeping the nanny state firmly in place.

My response was that the new Congress has yet to be seated, this is a lame duck 113th, better to wait for larger majorities in the House and GOP control of the Senate . . . okay -- so I'm stalling. Schucking. Jiving. BUT I have seem a few jewels:

Party fundraising provision, crafted in secret, could shift money flow in politics.

Secret deals! More money in politics! How awesome is that? They're really loosening the execrable McCain-Feingold repeal of the First Amendment.

Under the language in the bill, a couple could give as much as $3.1 million to a party's various national committees in one election cycle -- more than triple the current limit.

The move was heralded by party supporters, who said it would replenish the official Democratic and Republican organizations, which were left weakened by a 2002 ban on soft money and the subsequent rise of super PACs and other outside groups.


Senator McCain "told The Washington Post, 'No, nobody came to talk to me about anything. I don't even know who originated it.'"

But that is just one little piece of freedom smuggled in to a pork smoothie, jk, surely you can't find . . . Well, yes, I can

The [ACA] is still funded, but there's no new money for it. There's also no new ACA-related funding for the Internal Revenue Service and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the two agencies most responsible for implementing the law. The bill also would cut the budget of the Independent Payment Advisory Board -- what Republicans have called "the death panel" -- by $10 million.
[...]
In a win for Republicans, the spending bill blocks the Environmental Protection Agency from applying the {Clean Water Act] to certain farm ponds and irrigation ditches -- a move that GOP aides said would benefit farmers.
[...]
The [EPA] gets $8.1 billion, down $60 million from the last fiscal year. The agency's budget has been slashed by $2.2 billion, or 21 percent, since fiscal 2010, according to GOP aides. The cuts mean that EPA will have to reduce its staffing to the lowest levels since 1989.

Cromnibnus -- hell - they should call it "Christmas!" Ho, ho, ho!

But johngalt thinks:

If the Cromnibus does any substantial damage to Leviathan it won't pass the Senate anyway, so there.

Purely coincidentally (well, after reading this article) I sent this email to my congressman.

Dear Cory, I encourage you to vote "NO" on the Omnibus Spending Bill currently under consideration on the principle of equal treatment under law. While I endorse tax rate cuts, special tax breaks for favored industries or companies amount to a de-facto Corporate Welfare. I suggest you offer an amendment that replaces the total dollar amount of the combined tax breaks with an equal reduction in across-the-board tax rates, or even a simple tax rebate for every individual taxpayer (persons, not businesses.) "Those of us who advocate for a fairer system of taxation must take a stand on every opportunity to end, in whole or in part, the preferential treatment of some taxpayers at the ultimate expense of others. That is why I am voting no on this omnibus bill and will support a clean continuing resolution instead."
Posted by: johngalt at December 11, 2014 1:58 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"Sneaked?"

Posted by: johngalt at December 11, 2014 7:27 PM
But Jk thinks:

Yeah. You some kind of closet Canadian?

Posted by: Jk at December 11, 2014 10:29 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Jolly well right old chap.

Awesome. Thanks!

Posted by: johngalt at December 12, 2014 3:32 PM

Introducing the NLA

ThreeSourcers have heard this in pieces. As I take my "Libertario Delenda Est" roadshow to the mean streets of Facebook, I need to assemble and clarify my pitch. Comments are most welcome, starting with "Maybe don't tell them right off the top that your primary goal is their destruction."

The news hook is some pretty impressive new polling data from Pew.

For the first time in more than two decades of Pew Research Center surveys, there is more support for gun rights than gun control. Currently, 52% say it is more important to protect the right of Americans to own guns, while 46% say it is more important to control gun ownership.

Hat-tip Jim Geraghty who uses the Hillaryesque locution "Don't let anyone tell you that America is destined to sink into progressive decline, and that conservatives and libertarians cannot win public debates:"

Jim, buddy, how much of this victory goes to the NRA? Decades of TV appearances, mobilization on gun rights legislation, and hall-of-fame candidate support. The NRA's quality as a friend or foe is legend -- just ask MSNBC.

Single issue advocacy -- even to the point of angering us by supporting Sen. Harry Reid (Charisma - NV); consistent mobilization of an active voting block -- hey, I have an idea! Why not try this with Libertarians? I mean, an NRA party, nominating fringe candidates would not have made much progress, but... let me think...

Introducing the National Liberty Association -- or as everyone will soon know it: the N.L.A. Introduce some dumb windmill legislation -- you're going to hear from the NLA and all its borderline crazy members. A great liberty candidate like George Leing in the difficult Second Colorado Congressional District could get some serious financial support from liberty lovers all across the country. We'd print bumper stickers that say "David Boaz is my President!" Or, whomever leads this illustrious organization.

And in twenty years, we'd have a Pew Poll that shows unprecedented support for liberty.

Elevator Talk Posted by John Kranz at 11:44 AM | What do you think? [5]
But Keith Arnold thinks:

I don't know how tongue-in-cheek your post is intended, but I think you're on to something. It makes more sense, and would meet with more success, if the Libertarians could morph from an electoral party (which more often than not splits the vote and risks the election of the worst candidate) into an advocacy group, identifying and supporting liberty-leaning candidates.

The NRA serves the public - imperfectly, as with the case of their endorsement of Harry Reid - by sticking to one issue and identifying which candidates most closely support their side of that issue.

Now, the hard part for you is going to be to get the Libertarians to agree on a reliable, measurable way to evaluate and endorse candidates. Imagine, for example, asking thirty randomly-selected Libertarians to evaluate whether Mike Huckabee is more liberty-minded than Rick Santorum, and then justify their answer...

Posted by: Keith Arnold at December 11, 2014 12:38 PM
But jk thinks:

Thanks for playing, Keith. No I am serious as a heart attack. If I have two "things" one is remaking the FDA using Underwriter's Laboratories as an example, and the other is remaking the LP in the mold of the NRA.

As I told the LP candidate for Colorado Attorney General "9% can swing an election but 9% never wins an election."

Posted by: jk at December 11, 2014 12:45 PM
But jk thinks:

As to the direct question: I'd expect the NLA to sit out an election that offered Gov. Huckabee vs. Sen. Santorum. My hope is that they'd have helped get a better candidate into the race.

Yeah, there will be some bellyaching with this dyspeptic group. But we all grouse about the NRA and enough send in $35 that they've won.

Posted by: jk at December 11, 2014 12:48 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Since you're serious, I'm with you. Your NLA wouldn't be a kingmaker, so much as one member of a small Electoral College of Cardinals (how's that for a mash-up?).

I'd seriously consider sending them $35 a year in return for their level-headed, well-reasoned evaluation of the field of likely Republican presidential candidates, and suspect that Mr. Romney and Jeb Bush wouldn't fare all that well. Heck, I'd read their evaluation of the Democrats as well--- since that would be a shorter read.

As an impartial third-party, I also highly endorse your plans for the FDA. It is second only to one plank in my campaign platform: to eliminate the FDA entirely, and let Underwriter's Laboratories, major universities, and Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman take over that enterprise.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at December 11, 2014 1:01 PM
But johngalt thinks:

On the concept, you may count me as an inaugural Life Member of the NLA. The next step is actualization. A shortcut to a rapid bootstrap might be to co-opt an existing "Tea Party" group. Or, if you're really ambitious, buy them all out and consolidate into one NLA!

And in the process, get the "Tea Party" out of the immigration or abortion debates.

Posted by: johngalt at December 11, 2014 1:35 PM

December 10, 2014

Mai Non! Foucault et Hayek?

Sequestered in the usual sectarianism of the academic world, no stimulating reading had existed that took into consideration the arguments of Friedrich Hayek, Gary Becker, or Milton Friedman....

The intellectual left...has often remained trapped in a "school" attitude, refusing a priori to consider or debate ideas and traditions that start from different premises than its own. It's a very damaging attitude. One finds oneself dealing with people who've practically never read the intellectual founding fathers of the political ideology they're supposedly attacking! Their knowledge is often limited to a few reductive commonplaces.


This is from "Excerpts from an interview with Daniel Zamora, a writer on Foucault who 'exposed' that their hero might have had a soft spot for the liberating powers of free market:" Further exposed by Brian Dougherty at Reason.

The article is good and would be enjoyed by ThreeSourcers. I post it because I am nearing the end of my Advent Reading Assignment. This -- and the Karl Popper quote the other day -- are part of a response. I don't know that a Review Corner of these is justified as they are so far out of my normal purview, but the two academic books "Exclusion and Embrace" by Miroslav Volf and "The Secular Age" by Charles Taylor are guilty of this.

Both books are loaded with quotes from, well, Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Kant, Hagel, Nietzsche, John Rawls, Karl Marx and the like. Basically, the bibliography lines up well with Karl Popper's "Open Society and its Enemies." The enemies, that is.

The Enlightenment is discussed in detail in Taylor's book, and he quotes Adam Smith and John Locke as well. So it's a start. But the choice seems to be between a lefty secularism and spiritualism (I still have a few hundred pages of that one. For those keeping score, two are completely finished, one close and yes a big hunk of Dr. Taylor's remain).

The two I am discussing are very interesting, thoughtful and blindingly well written. But I wish to interrupt the author and ask "What about Hayek?" If you are going to extensively and seriously quote Karl Marx -- let's be fair, he made a few economic errors -- I think you should understand some of those who disagreed with him. Ludwig von Mises's predictions from the early 20th Century are stunningly prescient and Marx's are almost all wrong.

It's a serious quibble against both the books mentioned but not a death blow. Both are important and have much to say -- but the academic context, the cocoon, is a serious flaw.

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 6:05 PM | What do you think? [0]

Word of the Day: Cli-Fi

Watts Up With That has a great collection of Friday Funnies (Okay, I'm a few days late..) Over a Century's Worth of Failed Eco-Climate Quotes and Disinformation.

The whole thing is full of gems and is best experienced all at once. But Patrick Michaels and Chip Knappenberger at Cato link to the piece and share a great bon mot: Cli-Fi for Climate Fiction. How awesome is that?


The Democrat Torture Report

I guess there is a little neocon left in the old boy after all. I'm displeased but not distressed by the Senate torture report. My libertarian buddies on FBN's The Independents were in full strum and drang mode last night (on their one-year anniversary show -- congrats!) I suspect that they are the target demographic.

Much was made of the poor fellow who died of hypothermia chained up in a cell. That is tragic. That is a horrible picture. Procedures should be revisited. Personnel should be punished. It should never happen again.

But, extrapolating from CDC figures for 2005-2009, from 9/11 to today 11,923 Americans died of accidental drowning. Without in any way condoning the killing of a prisoner, I think some perspective is in order. The nation was at war. Hundreds of thousands were deployed with guns and tanks and grenades. The President blithely (in my opinion) drones people in great numbers. Police -- we are reminded this week -- kill more than 1000 citizens every year.

On this scale, the atrocities documented in the report seem well contained. You may call me callous. Every death is tragic and each overreach is a stain on our identity. But in 13 years of war, this list of CIA overreach, played up for maximum political effect, strikes me as tame.

Two editorials in the WSJ point out the politicization of the report and the post-9/11 environment when these programs were launched.

War on Terror Posted by John Kranz at 11:48 AM | What do you think? [14]
But johngalt thinks:

Lest my blog brother (or any other erudite readers) mistake me for a knuckle-dragging tobacco chewer there is one assertion against the CIA that I find troubling: Indefinite Secret Detention. I am loathe to endorse such practices by any administration of any government. I am fine with indefinite detention, so long as it is done in the full light of day. And even with secret detention for short periods of time, with either release or disclosure being required at some point. But is that really what this report is about? It seems not.

Posted by: johngalt at December 11, 2014 2:05 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

Let me take a moment to play village idiot and ask how can one NOT condemn such an egregious political stunt?

1. the report was written by a staffer with zero interviews - it therefore brings up zero new information.
2. It's a classic maneuver whereby those engage in poly-ticks to throw the professionals under the bus (for doing things that were completely lawful, and disclosed).
3. in fact, the motive appears to be to ad to the - incorrect, IMO - impression that the techniques employed were ineffective. A quick summary of the talk shows shows this to be having exactly this effect, and even the ever-wobbly McCain is pulled in this direction.
4. It precludes any mention of techniques done during the Clinton years.

I would baldly assert that NOT condemning this plays right into the hands of the Dick Durbin/John Kerry/HRC crowd (and all those who compare the CIA to the Khmer Rouge).

Leaving that aside, please tell JK, what analysis of the tree bark can you provide that the release of this report had any positive effect? I'll take even one...

Posted by: nanobrewer at December 11, 2014 2:31 PM
But jk thinks:

And lest nb think me NOT a knuckle-dragging-tobaccy-chewer -- I, too, am aghast at the bad motives behind the report's release. I was trying to say that the fiery contents exposed do not disturb me as much as they should.

As you say there is not much new info in there -- I think anybody truly surprised lacks imagination. Nope, it was a cheap trick and I'll fulsomely condemn its release.

Posted by: jk at December 11, 2014 4:07 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Looks like it's my turn to lob the kumbaya grenade.

Kumbaya, we've solved another one!

Posted by: johngalt at December 11, 2014 5:42 PM
But jk thinks:

Damn, we're good.

Posted by: jk at December 11, 2014 6:06 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

Not disturbing b/c there was nothing new: we knew all of this. It's simply Feinstein playing CYA and playing to her sympathetic crowd; a room full of moral cowards who like to kick the giant they know will not kick back.

The "new" part was debated 8-10 years ago, during which I established a full definition for what constitutes torture.

Let's just hope the idea posed on PowerLine takes root: the motives and mores presented by this release will not be lost on the professionals in the CIA.

Posted by: nanobrewer at December 13, 2014 12:01 AM

I Do Love Facebook

My überprogressive, rabid atheist buddy is appalled that an anthem of disbelief is sullied in pursuit of lingerie sales!

VictoriasSecret.gif

I do love this planet.

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 10:24 AM | What do you think? [5]
But johngalt thinks:

Do you want to break the news to him that Leftover Crack has signed to headline the halftime show during this year's Lingerie Bowl?

Posted by: johngalt at December 10, 2014 11:08 AM
But jk thinks:

Some ensuing persiflage makes me almost feel bad about saying something. (She, BTW) is attached to this song as I have been attached to many. She posted the official video (no Victoria's Secret models) and while it does not do much for me, it is deeply meaningful for her. She's not a prude but art and commerce are tenuous pals.

Side note: do any straight guys watch "Victoria's Secret Fashion Show?" I'm not judging, just interested in demographics.

Posted by: jk at December 10, 2014 11:28 AM
But jk thinks:

I've such a reputation for being opinionated (you can take off your "shocked faces" now...) I am always happy to find a major topic where I am a squish. I suppose this is one.

War is Heck and I am not so naïve to expect Marquis of Queensbury rules. We killed <insert large number here> on the battlefield, some are going to die in custody. Some will go too far in extracting information.

That said, I'm good with affording Geneva Convention treatment. You are correct that they don't deserve it; but we really are that good. I also suspect the whiny libertoids have a good point about the quality of information you get.

So, no, I will not be grabbing the pliers. But nor will I lie down to block traffic on US36 in protest. The Orwell quote, "People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." may be apocryphal but it is true.

Posted by: jk at December 10, 2014 1:31 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Whoa, wrong post for that comment brother. We're talking "vapid hotties" over here!

Posted by: johngalt at December 10, 2014 2:27 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

I dunno, JG - the idea of showing a prisoner ten minutes of the VS Fashion Show, and ten minutes of the LFL, and then telling him that his seventy-two virgins aren't going to look like that as I reach for what John Malkovich called "nipples... nuts... potty trainer" could be an effective form of torture. Though it might still be a violation of the Geneva Suggestions.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at December 10, 2014 2:38 PM

December 9, 2014

Karl Popper Quote of the Day

I get these on Facebook. Amid my news feed stream of memes and two, five word sentence jokes, the Karl Popper quote stands out as a dense, impermeable paragraph. Most are pretty good, but yesterday's summed up a lot of my thoughts:

"We can never return to the alleged innocence and beauty of the closed society. Our dream of heaven cannot be realized on earth. Once we begin to rely upon our reason, and to use our powers of criticism, once we feel the call of personal responsibilities, and with it, the responsibility of helping to advance knowledge, we cannot return to a state of implicit submission to tribal magic. For those who have eaten of the tree of knowledge, paradise is lost. The more we try to return to the heroic age of tribalism, the more surely do we arrive at the Inquisition, at the Secret Police, and at a romanticized gangsterism. Beginning with the suppression of reason and truth, we must end with the most brutal and violent destruction of all that is human. There is no return to a harmonious state of nature. If we turn back, then we must go the whole way -- we must return to the beasts.

It is an issue which we must face squarely, hard though it may be for us to do so. If we dream of a return to our childhood, if we are tempted to rely on others and so be happy, if we shrink from the task of carrying our cross, the cross of humaneness, of reason, of responsibility, if we lose courage and flinch from the strain, then we must try to fortify ourselves with a clear understanding of the simple decision before us. We can return to the beasts. But if we wish to remain human, then there is only one way, the way into the open society. We must go on into the unknown, the uncertain and insecure, using what reason we may have to plan as well as we can for both security and freedom." -- Karl Popper, "The Open Society and Its Enemies".


Okay, you can breathe out now.


Libertario Delenda Est!

It's hard to find another vote in modern history that has laid waste to so many political careers. Sixty Democrats cast the deciding 60th vote for the Affordable Care Act in 2009 and 2010, but come January only 30 will be left in the Senate. That’s an extraordinary political turnover in merely three elections, the largest in the post-Watergate era. As it happens, the law has been nearly as politically catastrophic for Democrats as Watergate was for Republicans. -- WSJ
I have inherited a new and borderline-nasty group of Libertarian Facebook friends. Before the confetti was swept up at the GOP victory parties, this crowd was looking for flaws. Boehner says this, McConnell says that, so and so will not be in leadership, the trapezoid between the goalie will be enforced through 2016 -- you get the idea.

I'm not expecting a lot with a narrow majority and his Profaneness in the White House. And I am not naïve enough to think a GOP win in 2016 will be a new dawn of liberty. I expect to be disappointed. But. Jeeburz.

I have been trying to remind them that democracy is a blunt instrument. It's best power is retributive. Don't think the remaining thirty didn't notice (c.f. Sen. Chuck Schumer). That alone is a great victory.

UPDATE: Ontheotherhand: House votes to extend handouts for wind energy industry They do not make it easy on me.

But Keith Arnold thinks:

Yes, it did get the attention of some of those remaining in the Senate.

"Pour encourager les autres."

Posted by: Keith Arnold at December 9, 2014 1:02 PM
But jk thinks:

Oui.

Posted by: jk at December 9, 2014 2:55 PM

December 8, 2014

"A Lifestyle Choice"

That's the way "a leader of Boulder's Ferguson Movement" described the actions of "hundreds" of protesters who marched and staged die-ins over the past two Saturdays. Word is, they're going to try to close down the major highway leading in and out of Boulder this evening. Curiously, although perhaps not so much to anyone who ever visited Boulder, Colorado, they are almost exclusively white folks.

Ferguson%2520March293-M.jpg

Ever the intrepid blogger, I may have found the explanation for this:

Today race is industrialized -- a spectator sport driven by divisional politics, entitlement, false prophets, social media and white pundits with intellectually superior opinions who rarely have had a meaningful relationship with a person outside of their white inner circle.

Zito continues:

We all impact each other's lives, usually most profoundly when no one is looking; we do it not for profit, for attention or a pat on the back, but because it is the right thing to do.

These days, both blacks and whites feel abandoned by Washington. So the solution to our nation's racial discourse should be handled by us individually, one person at a time -- and not by exploiting bad deeds done by both sides that only further the hatred.

Yep. We are all the TEA Party now, except the race industry is working overtime to keep us pitted against our neighbors so we don't have a spare moment to consider "What's Washington done for you lately?" Either that or maybe being ignorant of "Federal Privilege" really is just a lifestyle choice.

UPDATE: [Dec. 9, 2:55 pm EST] - An estimated 150-225 protesters blocked traffic on CO Highway 36 for 4.5 minutes Monday night, signifying the 4.5 hours that Michael Brown's body laid in the street while the investigation was completed.

The goal of the major highway disruption, as outlined in a flyer distributed by protesters, was to hammer home that "institutional racism and police brutality are no longer acceptable."

You know what? That is fine with me. "Institutional racism" and "police brutality" are not acceptable to me either, and I've felt that way my entire adult life. But I'm a practical guy. I can only suggest fixes to actual problems. If the two highly publicized "examples" of those supposedly ongoing injustices are the best examples to be had then, well, I'm not outraged. I'm certainly not going to adopt a new anti-police "lifestyle choice."

But jk thinks:

The solidarity is so thick, you could cut it with a knife.

Posted by: jk at December 8, 2014 7:08 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Personally, I'd use a chipper-shredder instead of a knife, but that's just a lifestyle choice too.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at December 8, 2014 9:40 PM

All Hail Insty!

insty141208.gif


December 6, 2014

Important Bleg

Watts Up With That has engendered much mirth and edification 'round these parts.

Now, Andrew Watts is trying to raise money to attend and report on the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall meeting.

While many attendees get the taxpayers (via their Universities) or their NGO's via donors to pay for such things, WUWT has no such resources, and despite the claims common from detractors, we are still waiting for that 'big oil check' to arrive. I'll drive down to save money rather than take a plane.

So, like I did last year, I thought I'd ask the readership if they can help out so that there will be somebody at AGU to report on climate science that can do so from the skeptic side. It is very important that at least one climate skeptic reporter attend. Otherwise, the media coverage will be completely one-sided. AGU approved my media pass, so now I'm set to attend.


A good cause if you can scratch a few nickels together.

But nanobrewer thinks:

I would in a heartbeat if were still employed. I have the utmost respect for AW and the WUWT website has long been my go-to place for sane discourse on the topic.

Here is just a taste of the comments in reply the article that notes a paper from of the now-exhumed Dr. Phil Jones who is still trying to flog the rotting corpse that the AGW cart has become ("Bring out yer dead" comes to mind):

There is not much change in the SH [nb: Southern Hemisphere - brilliantly simple point!] since it is disproportionately dominated (controlled) by ocean that dampens response. If global warming is now going into the oceans there will be no significant still less serious global warming this century.

As regards the NH, the night time lows are not quite as low as they have been and Winter comes later and lasts less long with Spring coming sooner. What is there not to like about that (especially with extended growing periods)?

The fact is that daytimes highs are not getting significantly higher. The tropical regions of the planet are not becoming unhabitable.

The Summer of 2003 which is oftened [sic] claimed to be the warmest summer in Europe with tens of thousands of deaths was only hot in southern/mid France; it was below average in Spain, Italy, Scandinavia, former Yugoslavia and Greece.

when one analyses what is truly happening to temperatures, it is not a scary story. There can only be two scares to global warming. First sea level rise, but this will not be rapid so plenty of time to adapt. Second, it somehow causes more extreme weather, but there is no evidence that extreme weather is increasing; in fact it appears to be decreasing as one might expect if the poles warm so that the rtemperature differential between the equator and the poles is less.

Erudite, informative, analytical and calm even when discussing the egregious behavior of some of the scummier denizens of that swamp (talkin' to you Lewandowski!).

If someone needs a laugh, follow the #AskDrMann thread: but finish your coffee first!

Posted by: nanobrewer at December 9, 2014 1:14 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

Shoot sorry the server is not giving me a second shot at editing my comment; the link for the discussion is here,
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/12/09/claim-from-phil-jones-and-company-extreme-temperature-anomalies-are-warming-faster-than-earths-average/

and the 4 paragraphs above "Erudite" should all be highlighted and accredited to the commenter, Mr. Verney.

Posted by: nanobrewer at December 9, 2014 1:21 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

The story prompted me to dig into my little-used PayPal account, where a few shekels remain. I dare not ask for them back (to few $$ to risk them getting any account info), so I'll give a Lincoln to the cause.

Posted by: nanobrewer at December 9, 2014 1:33 PM
But jk thinks:

Freedom lovers salute thee.

But am I gonna have drive over to your house and make you apply at Spectra Logic?

Posted by: jk at December 9, 2014 2:59 PM

December 5, 2014

The essence of government

If you break a government law, "public officers" with guns are empowered to commit justifiable homicide: "When necessarily committed in overcoming actual resistance to the execution of some legal process, or in the discharge of any other legal duty..."

I do not suggest that it be otherwise, but merely that we think long and hard every time we create a new government law. For example, do we really want to subject either the citizenry or the police officers we hire to "serve and protect" to life and death disputes over the taxes that may or may not be paid on individual cigarettes?

All Hail:

New York has by far the highest cigarette taxes – over 5 bucks a pack. As it always does, this kind of policy has triggered black market trade. In March, Governor Cuomo announced the formation of the "Cigarette Strike Force" to crack down on illegal tobacco trafficking. A strike force. Sounds pretty violent. As Robert Tracinski has pointed out, the Garner case should remind us that government is force and more government has predictable returns. And if you believe cops are racist and unduly violent in general, every time you pass some silly law all you do is give them more opportunity.

And so begins the 'War on Loosies.' "It's okay, ma'am. We're justified."

Hat tip: Blog friend Terri, for alerting me that Harsanyi had written about the "Revenuer" angle of the Eric Garner case.

But Keith Arnold thinks:

Justified? That sure explains why the boys in blue are going all Raylan Givens on the citizenry. Life suddenly imitates art.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at December 5, 2014 7:42 PM
But Jk thinks:

Thomas Hall 's Aftermath [Review Corner] chose cigarette taxes as one of his four laws to trace unintended consequences around. Garner is a tragic addition.

Posted by: Jk at December 5, 2014 9:04 PM

Coffeehousin'

Coffeehouse

Pretty Paper

Willie Nelson ©1963

Live at the Coffeehouse dot Com

Permalink

To Quote George Takei: Oh Myyyyyyy

And so it begins...

Hat-tip blog friend Sugarchuck on Facebook, who adds "What really cracked me up was the guy putting on his boots and swinging his hammer to bust that darned ol' glass ceiling. Guess the little lady just needed some menfolk around to help her out. "

2016 Posted by John Kranz at 11:32 AM | What do you think? [3]
But johngalt thinks:

"And through it all, she's a loving wife."

Uhh, all what?

On the bright side, I think we finally have a song to listen to when we need to get any kind of memorable song out of our heads. It's like a palate cleanser for catchy tunes.

Posted by: johngalt at December 5, 2014 7:06 PM
But Jk thinks:

Hindsight is 20/20, eh? Did somebody make a mistake?

Posted by: Jk at December 5, 2014 9:07 PM
But jk thinks:

Jonah Goldberg is not wildly impressed:

It's so desperate, so discordant, so forced it's like watching Mitch Daniels in a Gangsta Rap video ("Earn your riches! Entitlement reform, bitches! I’m gonna make it rain work incentives!") or Henry Kissinger in a codpiece with a bunch of babes twerking in the background. Funny? Sure. But it's also weird. It makes me feel vaguely unsafe, like I would if I was sitting next to a really flirty, inebriated, and profane Madeleine Albright on a long flight. "Madame Secretary! The sign says 'Occupado!'"

Posted by: jk at December 6, 2014 1:19 PM

December 3, 2014

Quote of the Day

[Thomas Piketty's Capital in the 21st Century] is an honest and massively researched book. Nothing I shall say -- and I shall say some hard things, because they are true and important -- is meant to impugn Piketty's integrity or his scientific effort. The book is the fruit of a big collaborative effort of the Paris School of Economics, which he founded, associated with some of the brightest lights in the techno-left of French economics. H&eacite;las, I will show that Piketty is gravely mistaken in his science and in his social ethics. But so are many economists and calculators, some of them my dearest friends.

Cast the first stone, ye who are wholly without a sin of mis-measuring your central concept or misunderstanding a key piece of economics or missing entirely the ethical point. -- HOSS Deirdre McCloskey introducing in a lengthy response [pdf] to Piketty

But johngalt thinks:

The Paris School of Economics.

Is that like the Liverpool Institute for Cuisine?

Posted by: johngalt at December 4, 2014 2:58 PM
But jk thinks:

UPDATE: Easy for me to say, I'm soaking up a bunch of use-it-or-lose-it vacation time, but dudes and dudettes, really read this. It is 55 pages of double spaced academic paper format, but don't let the format fool you, it is completely accessible and entertaining reading.

Masterpiece.

Posted by: jk at December 4, 2014 3:23 PM
But johngalt thinks:
The Kindle company from Amazon keeps track of the last page of your highlighting in a downloaded book (you didn’t know that, did you?). Using the fact, the mathematician Jordan Ellenberg reckons that the average reader of the 655 pages of text and footnotes of Capital in the Twenty-First Century stops somewhere a little past page 26, where the highlighting stops, about the end of the Introduction.
Posted by: johngalt at December 4, 2014 6:04 PM
But jk thinks:

One special for brother jg:

They are obsessed with first-act changes that cannot much help the poor, and often can be shown to damage them, and are obsessed with angry envy at the consumption of the uncharitable rich, of whom they personally are often examples (what will you do with your royalties, Professor Piketty?), and the ending of which would do very little to improve the position of the poor. They are very willing to stifle through taxing the rich the trade-tested betterments which in the long run have gigantically helped the poor, who were the ancestors of most of the rest of us.

Posted by: jk at December 8, 2014 12:43 PM

Sen. Sanders's 11 Point Plan

Actually posted by my biological brother, dampening some hope on our re-engineered corporate welfare plans:

sanders_11_point_plan.png

Or:
1. Government.
2 Government.
3 Government.
4 Government.
5 Government.
6 Government.
7 Government.
8 Government.
9 Government.
10 Government.
11 Government.

But johngalt thinks:

The problem with American socialists has always been that they never go far enough. Then, when their crappy ideas fail, they just claim they were too timid. So let's reconsider this list in its "all the way" version:

1) Reinstitute the federal Work Projects Administration
2) Outlaw coal, oil and gas as energy sources (plus nuclear and hydro while we're at it, since we aren't allowed call those carbon neutral or "renewable.")
3) Mandatory unionization.
4) $50 per hour for every job everywhere by everybody.
5) See above
6) Outlaw imported foreign goods
7) Free college for everyone who wants to go
8) Not sure on this one. Either nationalize all the banks or restrict all banks to less than $1B in deposits?
9) Free healthcare for everyone. (Duh)
10) Outlaw old age
11) Flat tax on revenue, not income. Loss or profit, businesses still gotta pay.

You're headed here anyway, let's just get on with it, you bunch of candyasses.

Posted by: johngalt at December 4, 2014 2:40 PM

Corporate Welfare

The President threatened a veto of a "$450 billion package of special-interest tax provisions that the GOP leadership had negotiated with Harry Reid." The WSJ Ed Page suggests that could be a gift, but...

Alas, we're probably hoping for too much. The GOP-Reid package would have made many of the provisions permanent, but that has happily died with Mr. Obama's veto threat. But rather than let the tax favors die, the House GOP is moving this week to vote on another one-year extension of about 50 "temporary" tax subsidies.

Washington has been reauthorizing these temporary tax breaks since the 1980s, pausing to occasionally stuff more special-interest payoffs into the broader package. This latest House vote would cost taxpayers $44.7 billion over 10 years, and it includes tax perks for, among other national priorities, Hollywood films, wind turbines, Nascar owners and race horses.


I have been complaining on a couple comment threads that these tax expenditures are in many more pernicious than giveaways to the poor. My blog brothers have a gooberload of philosophical and efficacy objections to poverty expenditures, but I want to offer an olive branch and proposal.

Let's tackle corporate welfare first. Say nothing as billions are fraudulently shoveled to SNAP, EBT, and TANF users. Obamaphones? Well, we worry about the program but we want to do further investigation before offering specific proposals...

Meanwhile, let's cut special gifts to NASCAR (a great customer of my employer -- if this post mysteriously gets airbrushed...) Most of the race horse owners I see on TV look like they're eating pretty well. Hollywood, Wind Turbines -- well you get my drift.

Phase II is to tighten the thresholds. Still not cutting benefits to the poor, just ensuring that the most needy are getting served by more rigorous means testing.

Phase III -- after demonstrating success -- is to reform these programs to something more transparent to the funding taxpayers and more empowering to the recipients. This will need to be signed into law by a Republican President. But that is made more likely by blunting the portrayal of the GOP as attacking the poor. We're just protecting the taxes of the middle class.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 2:02 PM | What do you think? [9]
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Now, see what happens? I tried to be a grown-up about this and not make reference to the limp economy or our dickless legislators (the politically-correct term, of course, is "testicularly challenged"), and someone has to go and write that (and the Federalist, no less).

My original question remains. And for that matter, how much do each of these cost, and how many did we buy? $444 million? How many Medicare recipients are there who need this? Who's prescribing them?

Posted by: Keith Arnold at December 3, 2014 5:05 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

In re: means and asset testing, I'm going to have to join in your objection. Are we talking about length or girth here? How do they evaluate if you're needy enough in this regard to qualify?

Or do you mean that sentence more generally?

Anyhoo, there's a Bob Dole joke in there just waiting to be told, and now a Jose Canseco joke to go along with it.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at December 3, 2014 5:09 PM
But jk thinks:

I was really proud of both of us.

It's an actual medical benefit. The suppliers profit from the subsidies no doubt. But I'll throw this into the bucket of "I'm not cutting benefits until we cut corporate welfare."

I'll take a f-f-f- principled stand. (Damn, almost!)

Posted by: jk at December 3, 2014 5:13 PM
But jk thinks:

The new circumcision guidelines have been released.

Just sayin'...

Posted by: jk at December 3, 2014 5:37 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Wow. I am SO glad I was replacing brakes on the truck last night instead of watching this thread play out. I'll just sum up by asking, Is this the best way to save $444M in Medicare spending that Republican congressmen can come up with? Over, what, 10 years or something? Peanuts!

The payments were "grossly excessive," the deputy inspector general, Gloria Jarmon, said at the time, because Medicare paid more than twice retail prices for the pumps.

Thank you Ms. Deputy Inspector General, now please prepare a list of ALL the things for which Medicare paid more than twice retail prices. Gotta be one or two others.

Posted by: johngalt at December 4, 2014 2:53 PM
But johngalt thinks:

("Reach around the aisle" is pretty funny though.)

Posted by: johngalt at December 4, 2014 2:55 PM

All Hail Insty!

Education Posted by John Kranz at 10:51 AM | What do you think? [0]

Once Burned, Twice Shy

I know the Entertainment Division of ThreeSources is thinly staffed, but one cannot help being intrigued by the meteoric fall of Bill Cosby. The Huxtables came along in an avowed anti-TV period of my life, so I missed all that. But I enjoyed his old show with its Quincy Jones theme ("Hoo Lawd!"), his standup comedy, and his indefatigable support of the Jazz medium.

I am a fan of due process and sense some bullying and career destruction based on circumstantial evidence. I have not followed it closely, but Matt Welch pointed out the complete lack of dispositive suggestions: nobody has come out and said "oh no, I worked on the show and Bill was an angel!" Evidence may be circumstantial and improvable, but I understand it to be overwhelming and common over multiple sources.

So I demur on defense. But it might be driven by my to-the-bone-marrow defense of Lance Armstrong. That did not work out so well for me (or Stan on South Park).

Rant Posted by John Kranz at 10:42 AM | What do you think? [3]
But Keith Arnold thinks:

I confess a certain ambivalence about the whole affaire Cosby.

The piling-on of all these women coming forward suddenly, discussing events that may or may not have happened twenty, thirty, or more years ago is troubling. Perhaps its some misguided sense of Fair Play, but how do you defend yourself against an accusation of a rape from the 1970s?

I read this morning of a woman who has just filed a lawsuit, seeking monetary damages, for an alleged molestation in a bedroom of the Playboy Mansion in 1974, when she was 15. The woman claims that she suffered extreme emotional distress, but did not discover the effects of that distress until just recently (conveniently making possible the lawsuit at this late date).

There's just something in me that says the accusation has to be made within a reasonable time in proximity to the alleged event.

Do I believe Cosby did the dirty deeds? Maybe, maybe not. Celebrity is a heady and seductive thing, and he wouldn't be the first famous person to act like the rules are for little people. Should he be punished? My feeling is that it's awfully late for that. The words "statute of limitation" come to my mind.

But would I let him take my fifteen-year-old daughter to the Playboy Mansion? Hell, no.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at December 3, 2014 12:32 PM
But johngalt thinks:

A local radio caller, last week, claimed that a bus would collect eager fifteen-year-olds in town and drive them to the mansion to "party." Drugs and booze were provided on the trip. Cosby, and others, would be there waiting for them. So if that's true, and it does stand up to scrutiny, it would have been your daughter you would have had the quarrel with, not "Cos."

Posted by: johngalt at December 8, 2014 11:13 AM
But jk thinks:

Fifteen? I think I would have found some antipathy for and adults involved.

Posted by: jk at December 8, 2014 11:22 AM

December 2, 2014

99.99% That's Almost a Consensus!

[Anne Glover, the European Commission's Chief Scientific Adviser] had dared to draw on her expertise to conclude that there isn't "a single piece of scientific evidence" to validate anti-GMO hysteria, as she told a scientific conference in Aberdeen, U.K., last year. "I am 99.99% certain from the scientific evidence that there are no health issues with food produced from GM crops." Opposition to GMOs, she said, is "a form of madness." -- WSJ Ed Page
The EU has responded by "[allowing] her mandate to expire, effectively abolishing the Chief Scientific Adviser role."
Junk Science Posted by John Kranz at 5:28 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

Because: Science!

Posted by: johngalt at December 3, 2014 10:52 AM
But jk thinks:

There's been much erudite and intellectual commentary on the structural, incentive, and personal flaws of the United Nations. But the voice of Larry the Cable Guy goes through my mind. He asked "has there ever been a bigger collection of more worthless sumbitches?"

Posted by: jk at December 3, 2014 11:11 AM

What's more important - the safety net, or saving people?

In a comment thread my blog brother invokes The Ronald (Reagan) in defense of a modest social safety net for the "truly needy." So when I read in the October 2014 Imprimus that in the 16 years comprising the terms of Carter, Reagan 1 and 2, and Bush Sr., federal "welfare state" spending increased by 58% (adjusted for both inflation and population growth) it ocurred to me that perhaps even Republican presidents have a liberal definition of "truly needy." Indeed, after 8 years of Clinton and 8 more of Bush Jr., federal welfare state spending increased another 59%. (And this doesn't even include the $728B spent at the state and local levels.) "But it's all worth it because of the tremendous reduction in poverty," some might say. But they would be wrong. From William Voegli's 'The Case Against Liberal Compassion' in the aforementioned issue of Imprimis:

In fact, however, liberals do not seem all that concerned about whether the machine they've built, and want to keep expanding, is running well. For inflation-adjusted, per capita federal welfare state spending to increase by 254 percent from 1977 to 2013, without a correspondingly dramatic reduction in poverty, and for liberals to react to this phenomenon by taking the position that our welfare state's only real defect is that it is insufficiently generous, rather than insufficiently effective, suggests a basic problem.

(...)

That defect, I came to think, can be explained as follows: The problem with liberalism may be that no one knows how to get the government to do the benevolent things liberals want it to do.

I'll leave the ending for those who click through to read the whole thing, but will give readers a hint, though: "Selflessness" is often, in the end, selfish.

As Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote in Emile, "When the strength of an expansive soul makes me identify myself with my fellow, and I feel that I am, so to speak, in him, it is in order not to suffer that I do not want him to suffer. I am interested in him for love of myself."
But johngalt thinks:

Worse than "the welfare state doesn't benefit the poor and needy" is that those who created it and insist on enlarging it are benighted with the mantle, "protector of the poor and needy." They are nothing of the sort! They are Altruists in Name Only.

They selfishly demand the creation of programs, and the spending of money, which serve to salve their wont to reduce human suffering without reducing any actual suffering. It is analogous to saying, "I will hold this football so that you can kick it, Charlie Brown" and assuming that the offer to hold the ball is of primary importance to young Mr. Brown, not whether or not he is actually enabled to achieve his goal of kicking it. And then as he gets up off of his duff, telling him, "You will never have a better friend than you do in me."

Voegeli writes, "Small-d democratic politics is Darwinian: Arguments and rhetoric that work—that impress voters and intimidate opponents—are used again and again."

So converting this revealed truth into "arguments and rhetoric that work" is the order of the day for "The Party of NO." How about rebranding as the "More for your money" party? "Democrats have been telling you for eighty years that their policies would make you better off, yet the poverty rate has been flat the entire time. We have a better plan: Instead of paying a huge government to make you beg for crappy services, we'd rather just give you money."

Wouldn't that buy some votes?

Stop paying the union bosses, pay the union workers.

Stop paying the race hustlers, pay the unemployed youth.

Stop paying the corporations, pay the workers.

Stop paying the bureaucrats, pay the poor folks.

Whew. Had to check myself for a fever there. Am I insane? No. Every single one of these conversions is calculated for a 50% spending reduction, and capped at % of GDP going forward. And they all treat means-tested recipients as individuals, whether they live with their baby daddy or not.

Posted by: johngalt at December 3, 2014 11:41 AM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

I'm with Black Hat here, delivering the death-blow to altruism:

http://xkcd.com/1455/

Government should never have been allowed into the charity business in the first place. It doesn't work - never has, never will.

The goal of the left may at some point have been helping those in need, but it has long since become the drive to grow statist power and to make more and more people into its clients. To anyone who feels the burden of the unfortunate and longs to relieve them, write a check. If Bill sees a need that he is moved to support - be it a home for the elderly, a community rec center, an AIDS hospice, or housing for the poor, he should write a check. What is immoral is for him to demand that the state take money from him, and also from Ted, Carole, and Alice, against their will, to fund Bill's chosen charity.

What is worse is Bill giving himself a tax loophole that exempts him but makes everyone else do the paying, regardless of their desires.

Remove the government from the role of middleman. In my experience, Americans continue to be the most charitable people on this planet, and those things that should be supported, will be, and the will of the people will be done. People who agree that the AIDS hospice should be funded will fund it. If insufficient people think that a Reform Center for Habitual Pedophiles deserve their dollars, the Center won't get funded. Charities will compete in the free marketplace of ideas for dollars and volunteers. One or two of them may recruit Sally Struthers to be their frontman.

And when everybody's taxes go down to reflect the money no longer being coerced from them - and to support the bloated bureaucracies that "manage" the programs - they'll find they now have more money to give to those charities. Everyone wins, except the politicos and the bureaucrats.

Imagine if our military had all the money it needed to fight terrorists, and failing public schools had to have a bake sale to pay their public employee pension obligations.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at December 3, 2014 12:16 PM
But jk thinks:

MORE COWBELL!

I think we may be close -- what is your vehicle for shoveling our hard earned dollars to the soi-disant poor? (Okay, I'll be serious...)

But I think that was my point. Step up the EITC which is by definition means tested at the expense of SNAP, EBT, ADF, and that trapezoid behind the goalie (serious...) That is more empowering to the recipient except the marginal rates are worrisome. And it is transparent to the voters.

My hesitation at embracing the rhetorical efficiency of "this hasn't worked" is based on years of watching Sec. Robert Reich on Kudlow. The stimulus didn't work "Of course not, it was too small. Quantitative Easing hasn't worked! "Of course not, it was too hesitant!" Everybody on the left is pretty convinced that doubling inputs will change the sign of outputs.

Rhetorical concern #2 is the left's best argument: JG is cutting aid to the poor by 50% -- but he won't cut subsidies to Big Oil by a thin dime. Bringing me back to the anvil I was hitting.

Posted by: jk at December 3, 2014 12:23 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Here is a list of all the things that prevent KA's plan from working:

1) Elections.

And no, jk, I cut ALL corporate welfare. That was the "stop paying the corporations" line item. "Cutting aid to the poor by 50%?" Okay, yes, let's have that argument. I'm actually increasing aid to the poor. The only cuts are to the government fat cats who, when told to establish and operate programs to aid the poor, respond with "we've spent all the money you gave us on our offices and salaries and perks and some computers with expensive software, now where's the money you want us to give to the poor?" We're simply telling those misguided individuals, "You're fired."

Posted by: johngalt at December 3, 2014 2:44 PM
But jk thinks:

Very good. To make it more clear -- any objection to doing it first?

Apologies for adding a third post to the same comment thread.

Posted by: jk at December 3, 2014 2:51 PM
But johngalt thinks:

No objection at all. I'm completely on board with your Phase I. Where do I sign?

Your Phase II is a good idea but is no more immune to your "Rhetorical concern #2" than my plan.

And Phase III, if we can possibly keep congress on task that long, likely surpasses even "Comprehensive Immigration Reform" in its size and number of moving parts.

Posted by: johngalt at December 4, 2014 3:06 PM

Quote of the Day

Y'know, I try to feel sorry for Bayou State Senator Mary Landrieu (de mortuis - LA), but I just can't.

Senate Democrats like Barbra Boxer of California and Ben Cardin of Maryland helped torpedo her Keystone legislation, then offered Ms. Landrieu token pecuniary support in the run-off--the political equivalent of giving flowers at a funeral. On Monday, President Obama sang her praises on a conference call with his liberal supporters that rang like a eulogy.


December 1, 2014

Democracy!

20141031__daylight-saving-time~p1_200.jpg Big Time is going down!
DENVER (AP) -- Tired of the twice-a-year clock change, a Lakewood couple is making a jump into politics with a ballot question asking voters to permanently put Colorado on Mountain Daylight Time.

While some ballot initiatives are big operations with paid signature gatherers, this one so far includes only 35-year-old Sean Johnson and his wife, Teri.


And a good portion of my Facebook feed...,

Colorado Posted by John Kranz at 5:16 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Yeah, and you would have been up an hour ago by now.

Posted by: johngalt at December 2, 2014 8:35 AM

How to get Keystone XL Approved

Tell the Democrats it's light rail!!
Okay, so I think I'm witty . . . but this was inspired by the piece on T. Boone Pickens that Brother jg shared. Mister Pickens' (he's wealthy enough to get a singular possessive like Jesus' and Moses') last big plan was to cover 1/4 of Texas with windmills and have the gub'mint build transmission lines across the country to all his potential customers.

The Golden State actually did impede light rail with environmental concerns, but generally, it seems like incredibly dubious proposals like the Ivanpeh tower, Pickens' transmission lines, and the eyesore windmills in Rocky Flats, South of Boulder get a quick pass. The pipeline however, needs to conform to the fragile Niobria water table and sacred concerns of tribal lands.

Rant Posted by John Kranz at 4:46 PM | What do you think? [0]

Re-contacting the Contact Discussion

The first commenter in 4 days who wasn't either jk or myself was here, and the post in question is off the page. Sheesh!

Click here to revisit the commentary on 'Cry Havoc and Let Loose the "Contact" Spoilers.'

Art Posted by JohnGalt at 3:58 PM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

Holiday rules are in force -- I bumped it to today. Click or just scroll down a couple...

Posted by: jk at December 1, 2014 4:17 PM

That Supply and Demand Thingy Seems Promising

Two editorials in the WSJ page beg for treatment in the Internet Segue Machine™.

Tim Phillips of Americans For Prosperity ("Koch, cough, cough...") is not too keen on extending subsidies for wind power:

Thirty years and billions of dollars later, the wind industry is still saying it needs taxpayer support. Congress is currently hearing this argument as it debates whether to extend the 22-year-old "production tax credit" in the lame-duck session. The PTC, which gives wind producers a 2.3-cent tax credit for each kilowatt-hour of electricity produced over 10 years, expired at the end of 2013. Now wind-industry lobbyists are roaming the halls of Congress, asking legislators to renew it as part of a tax-extenders package before adjourning on Dec. 15.
[...]
Over the past seven years, the PTC has cost taxpayers $7.3 billion, and it is expected to pay out $2.4 billion more in 2015. Combined with other subsidies and programs, wind generators received $56.29 in government subsidies per megawatt-hour in 2010, according to a 2012 report from the Institute for Energy Research. That's compared with 64 cents in subsidies for natural gas and $3.14 for nuclear power.

On the other hand, it kills birds.

Right there, on the same page, in juxtaposy-fervor, Dan Yergin (Kudlow's go-to expert on Oil prices) says it's supply that is driving oil process down.

Since 2008--when fear of "peak oil," after which global output would supposedly decline, was the dominant motif--U.S. oil production has risen 80%, to nine million barrels daily. The U.S. increase alone is greater than the output of every OPEC country except Saudi Arabia.

The world has experienced sudden supply gushers before. In the early 1930s, a flood of oil from East Texas drove prices down to 10 cents a barrel--and desperate gas station owners offered chickens as premiums to bring in customers. In the late 1950s, the rapidly swelling flow of Mideast oil led to price cuts that triggered the formation of OPEC.

And in the first half of the 1980s, a surge in oil from the North Sea, Alaska's North Slope and Mexico caused prices to plunge to $10 a barrel. That posed a much greater crisis for OPEC than today: Over those same years, global demand fell by more than two million barrels a day owing to a deep recession, greater conservation and the switch to coal from oil for electricity generation. This time world oil demand is still growing, but weakly.

For the past three years, oil prices hovered around $100 a barrel as disruptions in Libya, South Sudan and elsewhere, and sanctions on Iranian exports, eerily balanced out the production increases from the U.S. and Canada. But the slower global economic growth that became apparent a few months ago was accompanied by weaker demand for oil, just when Libya suddenly quadrupled output to almost a million barrels a day. The result: Prices weakened in September and then tumbled.


Yergin calculates the effect on oil producing states and concludes that those with capital reserves like Russia and Saudi Arabia will get through it okay, but marginal states like Venezuela, and new production scheduled for Africa will be in danger. The Keystone pipeline, specifically endangers Venezuela's workers' paradise as the heavier oil would replace theirs in the gulf refineries.

I read of a real, world market producing real energy at lower and lower process, and a graft machine propped up by subsidies.

But johngalt thinks:

Love it or loathe it, the mortgage interest deduction is still, in government speak, a subsidy - but - it can only "give back" a portion of what is taken from that same taxpayer in the first place.

So there's the distinction: Is the "subsidy" comprised of the receiver's own money, being rebated, or did it belong to someone else first? On the first hand it isn't fair to call it a subsidy. On the second it is redistribution, pure and simple.

Posted by: johngalt at December 2, 2014 8:44 AM
But jk thinks:

I'm going to really offend you right now. I hope you're sitting down.

I like the EITC better than the mortgage deduction. For better or worse (probably worse) we have adopted a stance to help the poor and that is not going away. The EITC is transparent, only minimally-distortionary, and as a %-of-GDP, fairly affordable. The interest deduction meets none of those criteria.

Me and President Reagan and Rep. Paul Ryan believe that if we did not redistribute income to the wealthy and the middle class, we could afford a safety net for the poor.

I see your distinction. And I would join you in voting to return to private charity. But I don't think that is on the menu, whereas cutting subsidies for Ted Turner's ranch and Google's solar toys, and perhaps the economy-ruining distortions of the mortgage interest deduction . . . maybe . . . someday . . .

Posted by: jk at December 2, 2014 10:05 AM
But johngalt thinks:

You did offend me, but not for the reason you might think. Because you said, maybe "we could afford a safety net for the poor." That safety net cost $2,279,000,000,000 in 2013, or $7200 per American. Two-thirds of total government spending and 14% of GDP.

I don't think we're gonna overcome a spending leak that big by eliminating the mortgage deduction.

Posted by: johngalt at December 2, 2014 1:19 PM
But jk thinks:

No, that's pretty much the reason I expected to offend you. It's philosophically dubious to accept wealth transfers as a function of government. I can hear Yaron Brook, chiding me in his mellifluous Israeli accent as I type. But I can accept that that ship has sailed.

You elbow back too hard to compare the complete cost of current poverty programs with the mortgage deduction. On the poverty side, I would like to reduce that figure. President Reagan talked about the "truly needy;" covering health insurance through 400% of poverty for SCHIP does not meet my definition of "truly needy." I bet I could find a few such programs to cut -- right in time from Christmas!

On the other side, indulge me in bucketing corporate welfare, middle class entitlements, Tesla credits for Hollywood stars, maybe property taxes for churches, all energy subsidies -- and the mortgage interest deduction. We gettin' closer?

The class of non-poverty transfers appeals to you more. Yes, we are actually manipulating and perhaps returning actual income. I am risking my neck by saying that if government is going to move income around, I'd prefer it be to help the poor and leave the productive economy to market forces.

Beyond altru -- umm, benevolence, public choice theory suggests that these programs would be under more scrutiny if they served only the poor. The interest deduction is untouchable because everybody gets it. The Democratic dream is that ObamaCare® subsidies quickly attain the same status.

Posted by: jk at December 2, 2014 1:49 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I presupposed that you thought I would bristle at your endorsement of any social safety net. I do not. I agree that ship has sailed, but there is no defense for it costing $2.7T per year and growing.

Your basket of tax breaks is all fine with me, including the mortgage deduction. I also reject paying former workers a majority of their highest career wage just to sit on their ass in retirement - defined benefit pensions must GO. But where you suggest spending this new found "revenue" on the SoshSafetyNet I want it to be NOT TAKEN from earners in the first place. Then fewer workers need a SoshSafetyNet. Capisce? Moral hazard, and all that. But yes, still a small non-hammockey safety net for the truly needy.

Posted by: johngalt at December 2, 2014 2:36 PM
But jk thinks:

Kumbaya -- looks like we've fixed another one!

Posted by: jk at December 2, 2014 2:41 PM

Cry Havoc -- and Let Loose the "Contact" Spoilers!

[Bumped for comment activity -- originally posted Nov 21,2014]

Party like it is 1999! JK has become the last person on the planet to see "Contact," discussed in post and comments this week.

I liked it plenty but do not plan to rank it up there with Serenity. Some of it may be the terminal 1990s-ish of it. At least it wasn't the 70s; the 90s were berry berry good to me. But the computers and President Clinton cameos jar one out of plotline immersion.

It gets three and a half stars right off the bat for location footage of the VLA -- I went to school for a year right down the road from the VLA in Socorro. Dialogue gives the location as Socorro, but I think the actual location is Magdalena.

Bonus points [seriously, we're ignoring potential spoilers in a 17-year old movie now, are we not?] for the ambiguity given to her experience. It reminded me of "Normal Again," one of my five favorite Buffy episodes. Buffy spends half the episode in a mental hospital with a kindly doctor telling her (living, happy and married) parents that she has constructed this fantastic world where she is a superhero. She spends the other half in Sunnydale fighting monsters.

I'd like to watch Contact again, but I only got a 24 hr. rental. But on first, I think they did the same admirable job of not taking sides.

There are many interesting questions asked. I think I see why it is loved and perhaps why in one case it is not. The production is good (I bet mind blowing in '97). I am on record as an anti-Sagan grouch but was not bugged by Saganism. The lovely bride thought it lacked for sympathetic characters. I think I could find twenty minutes to trim. But these are small beer in a ThreeSources review.

What did I miss?

Art Posted by John Kranz at 7:09 AM | What do you think? [4]
But nanobrewer thinks:

I'll take this:

1. An excellent story of a scientist struggling mightily against various nefarious sources (competing scientists, doubtful colleagues, speedbump bureaucrats...) that attempt to sway, thwart, divert, etc... many times over the frustrating banality of ignorance, with a sprinkling of greed and envy.

I found Ellie's character heroic, perhaps sympathetic... I could relate. I also found Foster appealing back then, which surely helped. It was a mystery and an adventure rolled into one, with a great script. No real villain to wrap your bile around: brilliant! The premature death of her father wasn't played up for sympathy but became integral to the story.

2. I also found the deist sub-theme probing and intelligent, with Joss posing some worthwhile questions to both Ellie's atheism and the storefront, instant-conversion of the others'. It also fed the story (well, a dramatic and fun diversion really), by allowing Joss to play spoiler and Drumlin (T.Skerrit) to show a conniving side - and the mass of agnostics to find a way to hang their risk-aversion hats on (and perhaps position themselves for payoff?).

3. The science sure seemed solid (which helped me relate to Ellie), and the hoopla - bad and good - around the discovery of ET intelligence felt just right.

4. The inclusion of historical figures: digitized Clinton, Leno, King, etc... touched me. Sorry if it seemed Passe to others after Forrest Gump.

5. I found the denouement terrific: I LOVE IT when aliens are portrayed in this fashion. As far from Star Trek as could be (and I like Trek). Bablyon 5 did this a time or two (looks like very similar time lines too: B5/S4 was in '97 and featured a similarly filmed confrontation with humans v. "first one" aliens in the conclusion to the Great Shadow War), and I've always preferred enigmatic aliens in books.

It really hit on all levels for me. It was at that time, my favorite all time SF movie. Clearly still in the top 5.

My favorite line: "so beautiful.... they should have sent a poet."

Posted by: nanobrewer at November 23, 2014 12:08 AM
But jk thinks:

No arguments. (Well, I might classify Dr. Drumlin as villain -- he did not tie up Jodie Foster on the train tracks and twirl his mustache, but he shut down two of her projects and then claimed credit.)

Other than that, all your points are valid -- and I did like the movie. To show good faith, I'll add another plus: the scientists listening to the data streams as audio over trusting a scanner. Then the blind guy hearing the harmonic that inspired them to look at interleaved data. Cool.

Posted by: jk at November 24, 2014 11:34 AM
But dagny thinks:

OK, I apologize for the delayed response. This got all the way off the front page before I got back it. "No time to say Hello, Goodbye, I'm late, I'm late, I'm late!"

It's been quite a few years since I saw the movie and read the book, but this is how I remember it:

My serious problem with Contact (Book and Movie) was a fatal flaw that clearly others saw as a feature. JK gives bonus points for, "ambiguity," whereas I went looking to figure out who had ripped the last chapter out of my book. The movie was fairly true to the book and therefore suffered the same problem.

Were there really Aliens? We're not sure. Did she really go anywhere? We don't know. Didn't someone teach these people in second grade that stories have a beginning, a middle, and an end? This one is missing the end. A few loose ends I can deal with, but leaving off the conclusion??? I found it very frustrating as an audience. So any stars, I might have given it along the way got subtracted at the end due to frustration. Guess I've never been much into watching movies for the cinematography. 1 star left.

Posted by: dagny at December 1, 2014 3:44 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

Hi Dagny,

wow, that must have been some let down for you, but now I'm intrigued at how the non-alien aliens were written.

That Dr. Arroway did travel through some sort of wormhole to meet an altered version of a Vegan is the accepted theory. James' Woods character and the lady bureaucrat alluded this near the end when they noted if she had been traveling at the speed of light for only some # of seconds (which was how long their external tracking had lost her capsule), then that could have represented Y# of minutes which was the amount of time that her recording device noted (yet, conveniently, all static). It seemed plausible, but I did not check the math; I got through one course in "Modern" quantum physics but I don't remember how and do NOT want to remember why.

Still, with the fate of the Hokkaido based wormhole maker not mentioned, it did leave more than a few open holes.

Posted by: nanobrewer at December 1, 2014 11:14 PM

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