May 31, 2015

Review Corner

The conventional wisdom had no answer to such problems--except to promise more of the same. President Carter and other spokesmen for the status quo said, resignedly, that this was just the way it was. We had, it seemed, reached the era of "limits," running out of energy supplies and suffering "stagflation," with no alternative but to hunker down and bear it.

The outlook of Ronald Reagan and his team was dramatically different. In the President's view, the ills we suffered were the result of faulty policies by the federal government: runaway spending and taxation, excessive expansion of the money supply that fueled inflation, and intensive regulation of the economy which stifled investment and production.

America's blessing, it has been said, is that the right man always appears at the right time. This phrase gives too much credit to providence, predestination, and the importance of politics for my taste. On the other hand, Damn.

Ed Meese's With Reagan The Inside Story (thanks, nb!) was a pleasant reminder of "Morning in America." and Reagan's impressive accomplishments -- "transformative" in the words of our current Chief Executive.

Meese is hard core in his defense of President Reagan, and the book suffers slightly from the "inside staffer's view" that present a certain faction of the cabinet and staff as heroic and the others as slime mold. But it is not overdone. I chuckled a bit that there are two sections of photos. Reagan with world leaders, Reagan with congress, Reagan with celebrities ... Curiously, one Edwin Meese III happens to be in about every picture. Hey, I'd do the same; it's his book.

It is important as a palliative for false stories of "The Amiable Dunce," "the puppet of his staffers," &c. Meese conveys the importance of leadership built on foundational principles.

The secret of Reagan's success was not that he was a skillful speaker and performer on television. If that were the case, hundreds of actors and public speakers might do equally well in politics, but other than he, none has so far been elected president. No, the key to Reagan's success was that he communicated timeless truths about America--home truths about freedom, limited government, hard work, and opportunity--and that these truths guided him while he was in office.

Meese also puts his AG's view of Iran-Contra into print. While mistakes were made, he considers them more political than criminal. It reflects badly on the president, but was not explicitly proscribed.
The result, as the Tower Commission drily observed, "was a highly ambiguous legal environment." Contrary to the image of a single sweeping Boland amendment that once and forever barred all aid to the anticommunist resistance, what developed was a series of changing enactments that allowed some things, barred others, allowed some things that had been barred, barred something else that hadn't been, and so on. The administration, rather than flagrantly ignoring the law, was highly sensitive to the ambiguities and nuances of the situation and constructed its policy as best it could to fit them.

Meese is not the storyteller his boss was, but he got a chuckle out of me with "Officer, arrest that man! He's violating the Boland Amendment!" I still think it a black mark because of separation of powers arguments. But compared to what we have seen since, this is a cookie-theft.

Where I must part with Reagan and Meese is Law and Order. He accepts a lot of credit for a downturn in crime that I suspect was part of a long-term trend. I'm good with an orderly society but Meese claims some victories in the War on Drugs that I didn't see (I stopped using drugs during the Reagan years -- I call it "growing up.") This paragraph earned a red flag:

One of our most effective weapons against drug traffickers was to confiscate the assets of their criminal activity, such as expensive autos, yachts, businesses, and homes and convert the proceeds to the anti-drug effort. To make this technique even more effective, we shared the proceeds with cooperating local law enforcement agencies to enhance their drug-fighting activities. We also improved the cooperation of federal law enforcement agencies with their state and local counterparts.

Reason Magazine, line one! This book was released in 1992. I don't suspect he'd second guess the efficacy of asset forfeiture, but one has to ask where that fits in with a champion of limited government.

Still, it left one hoping that the escape from Obama's policies might be half as effective as the escape from Carter's. One thing on which I will never, ever part company with our fortieth was his opposition to Communism:

In addition to stressing the evils of communism, Reagan stressed its inherent weakness. In his view, the two were related, since in denying freedom the communists not only engaged in tyranny, they also crippled the creative potential of the human spirit. Reagan firmly believed that freedom was both morally and materially superior to communism, and constantly linked these themes in his speeches.

Great book, somehow more germane today than in 1992. Four stars!

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 9:55 AM | What do you think? [0]

Proving Anyone Can Make it!

Even wealthy film stars with supermodel looks can make it big in America. Jessica Alba's Honest Corporation now has a $1 Billion market cap. She appeared on what I am guessing might be one of the better selling issue of Forbes:


The article does not contain much info on the actual company. It appears they aggregate safe and family-friendly products and market them mostly online. I fear there may be a bit of "woo" involved, but you have to complement her for Always Being Closing:

When people compliment her for her nice complexion, she tells them she gets her skin glowing by using the vegan, hypoallergenic Face and Body Lotion included in her company's wide inventory of affordably priced products costing under $10.
"I was like, 'How can this be safe for babies if I’m having this type of reaction?'" she told Forbes.

"I was like..." Oh deary me. But the firm employs 200 and as far as I know, receives no special subsidies. Nor is anyone mandated to purchase vegan, hypoallergenic Face and Body Lotion. Good for her.

Posted by John Kranz at 9:26 AM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

Sort of an "Angie's List" for consumer goods?

Posted by: johngalt at May 31, 2015 11:56 AM
But Jk thinks: Looks like you buy from them. More Amazon than Angie's.

Posted by: Jk at May 31, 2015 3:46 PM

May 30, 2015


I don't know about you guys, but I am starting to think Sen. Bernie Sanders (Iwannabuyamericancrap - VT) may not get the coveted Reason Magazine endorsement:

2016 Posted by John Kranz at 10:44 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:
"I hope, in fact, all across the board, we begin to focus on rebuilding our manufacturing sector so that we create millions of jobs in products made in the United States."

And listening to the charming Ms. James' foreign accent, I hope we can begin to focus on employing more Americans in our free-market think tanks! No I don't.

"... a museum owned by the people of America, a museum that talks about our own history, cannot even have products manufactured in the United States by American workers, we have some very, very serious problems."

I agree, Senator. And all of those very, very serious problems originated in the buildings you occupy.

Want American goods to cost less? Eliminate a few of the burdensome taxes and regulations that price American workers out of the market for many, many jobs. According to BLS, the "hourly compensation costs in manufacturing" for the USA is $35.53 and for China and India is $1.36 and $1.17, respectively.*

It is unclear whether this includes overhead components like unemployment "insurance" or income taxes, but it certainly doesn't include the extra costs of regulatory compliance by employers.

* BLS explanation for putting China and India on a completely separate chart, several pages away from the rest of the world: "Due to various data gaps and methodological issues, compensation costs for China and India are not directly comparable to each other or with the data for other countries found in this release, and therefore are presented separately." Or maybe it's just because it would barely register on the same chart.

Posted by: johngalt at May 31, 2015 11:04 AM

A head for a head

Hammurabi lives - Christian beheads jihadist in Syria revenge killing.

According to the monitor, the Christian fighter, a member of the minority Assyrian community, found the jihadist in the local village of Tal Shamiram.

"He took him prisoner and when he found out he was a member of IS, the Assyrian fighter beheaded him in revenge for abuses committed by the group in the region," Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said.

I find myself in support of the Administration's stance that "we will not be responsible for securing their [Iraqi's] country, but we will support them in doing so." American presidents have fought so many proxy wars since WWII that citizens (and governments) of many nations have forgotten how to defend themselves. Some are now beginning to figure it out, although I doubt that is Barack Obama's intention.

Middle East Posted by JohnGalt at 10:15 AM | What do you think? [0]

Square Beatle

Now that weed is legal in Colorado, Washington, and probably more states very soon, prominent former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney says "he doesn't want to set a bad example for his children and grandchildren by using marijuana." Instead he prefers wine or "a nice margarita."

Hasn't he gotten the memo that marijuana is safer and better for you than booze? I would have expected a more enlightened decision from a long-time vegetarian advocate. Next he'll be saying he's Taxed Enough Already, or something stupid and white like that.

But jk thinks:

It takes a great blogger to admit he was wrong. And, as Mal would say "I'm alright."

In Paul's defense, a nice margarita provides a lot less impairment than typical marijuana use. One of the hopes of the legalization movement was that some weed equivalent of light beer would arise and rise in popularity. During prohibition, we said, drinkers wanted maximum potency for the difficulty of acquisition.

The Colorado experiment has been pretty thorough and I have seen none of that. To the contrary, incredibly strong edibles have captured the market. Maureen Dowd earned some ridicule, but I have heard several stories One-eighth of a cookie or one lick of a lollipop is a "hit." Huh? I am physically incapable of eating 1/8th of a cookie.

Still a big fan of JS Mill liberty. And many of the worse consequences I feared did not transpire. But I think Paul is right.

Posted by: jk at May 30, 2015 11:05 AM

May 29, 2015

Really, Aren't we All to Blame?

Jim Geraghty [subscribe] suggests no, it is not "the system."

Over at the New York Times, Nicholas Kristof rushes to blame the country as a whole for the Clintons' actions: "The problem is not precisely the Clintons. It's our entire disgraceful money-based political system . . . Most politicians are good people. Then they discover that money is the only fuel that makes the system work and sometimes step into the bog themselves."

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Bill and Hillary weren't hitting the $700,000-per-speech-in-Nigeria circuit because they want to self-finance her campaign -- at least, as far as we know. Bill and Hillary don't want that money as "fuel to make the system work." (Jeff Jacoby calculates that the Clintons' average speaking fee is nearly five times what the median U.S. household earns per year.) They want their $30 million per year for themselves -- although we know they don't spend it on private jets, because the Clinton Foundation already pays for all of their travel expenses.

A major change from the America of a generation ago is that people who run official nonprofits like charities expect to be compensated on a scale comparable to corporate CEOs.

If you suggest vastly reducing the financial power of government so that fewer dollars find their best use on K Street -- sign me up for your team. But the hand wringing of the Kristof set is tiresome. They push relentlessly to give government more and more control -- then they decry the "corporate interest in politics!"

This, however, is at least a new twist: not blaming the Clintons because the system is so corrupt. That is rich.

2016 Posted by John Kranz at 10:19 AM | What do you think? [6]
But johngalt thinks:


What is the secular equivalent of "The Devil made me do it?" I've never thought about that before but if one doesn't believe in God he can hardly believe in the Devil, right? Hmmm...

The lust for power to subjugate others and appropriate their wealth to myself made me do it?
Posted by: johngalt at May 29, 2015 11:44 AM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

"Human nature."

Bill and the Hildebeast were just ordinary folks like you and me, but when exposed to all that darn power, money, and corruption, well, human nature kicked in, and they were just weak and corruptible, just like all of us.

There's your secular equivalent right there - fallible human nature.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at May 29, 2015 2:48 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

You know what? Just to be a little contrary and be the Devil's Advocate (see what I did there?), I'm going to agree with Kristof.

(Wait, wut?)

Go with me on this for a minute or three. "It's our entire disgraceful money-based political system..." That's the money quote, and I'm going to agree with it - not from the issue of money in the campaign and election process, but from the aspect of the existence of lobbyists. We all decry the lobbyists - on both sides of the aisle. Everyone agrees that lobbyists pledging contributions in return for favors is a baaaaaaad thing. Anyone want to argue that? Didn't think so.

Here's a thought question for you: why do lobbyists exist? Why is there a cadre of suits in DC dispensing all this money to politicos in the first place? ANSWER: because they get more out of it than they put into it. The government has billions to dispense. The lobbyist, whether he's writing a check for a million to get a government contract on uranium that will profit him a billion, or delivering $200,000 in return for a guarantee of a a hundred million to be made on an exclusive Haitian mining deal, or $500,000 is return for ten million in subsidies for your solar wind farm or your electric car, you're getting a huge return on investment. If you stand to lose a billion dollars because of the Keystone Pipeline, then a million-dollar bribe is a very good investment.

Policitians can be bribed because they have something worth selling. A Senator will accept a million-dollar "contribution" in his own checking account, in exchange for a hundred million dollars in taxpayer money.

I submit that there is merit in getting money out of the political system - but what I'm talking about is money controlled by the officeholder. If the congressman, the secretary of state, or the President being discussed has nothing to sell, he'll have no buyers.

The Founders gave us a system with a small central government with limited powers for a reason. When all the federal government does is protect the borders, guarantee a few basic rights to the citizenry, and act as the spokesman of the collected States to foreign governments, they don't have a lot to sell. No industries to subsidize or bail out, no anti-dog-eat-dog regulations to pass on behalf of their chums, no sweet government cheese to hand out.

It sounds like a good system. Maybe we should try it.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at May 29, 2015 3:29 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Well yes, sure, we would all follow "human nature..." if we were animals. If that were true, every other president in history would have had his own shell corporation too.

No, the Clintons are anything but usual humans. I'm good with "animals."

Posted by: johngalt at May 29, 2015 3:29 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Actually, it's government's fault that Bill and Hillary Clinton raped it. Repeatedly. And continually. Government shouldn't have worn such a short blue dress!

Posted by: johngalt at May 29, 2015 3:31 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

The taxpayers were asking for it...

Hey, I just got a phone call from a guy named Albert Bacon Fall. He says somebody in the Arkansas Mafia owes him an apology.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at May 29, 2015 3:37 PM

May 28, 2015

Quote of the Day

"The collegiate idealists who fill the ranks of the environmental movement seem willing to do absolutely anything to save the biosphere, except take science courses and learn something about it."

"Everybody wants to save the earth; nobody wants to help Mom do the dishes." -- P.J. O'Rourke

c/o Lawrence Reed

But johngalt thinks:

On a related tangent, this came to mind last evening:

"Don't hate on Republicans so much - You'll probably be one when you grow up."

Posted by: johngalt at May 28, 2015 4:48 PM

All Hail Remy!

The last word on Sen. Sanders and the food/deodorant paradox:

2016 Posted by John Kranz at 9:34 AM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:
"Bring us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to have a crusty old white guy from Vermont tell them what they 'need.'"

At the end of the day, I don't need 14 different political parties to choose from in every election. Two is enough for me. See ya, Bernie.

Posted by: johngalt at May 28, 2015 3:52 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I'm not done with you yet, Bernie. I may need to come back every day for a week with more slaps to your primitive face.

We don't really need a thousand different models of smart phones. Really, the Obamaphone is good enough for everyone, isn't it? Or so many competing service providers. All they do is waste money on stupid commercials that could be spent feeding children instead. So get your pasty white a$$ over to Commerce and tell them to quit with the anti-trust actions already. We don't need more than one company doing any one thing.

Posted by: johngalt at May 29, 2015 11:51 AM

May 27, 2015

One Article to Bind Them All

Kevin Williamson of NR takes byte to pixel to answer Sen. Bernie Sanders's (I* - VT) foolish rant. I had some fun on Facebook with his pronouncement:

You can't just continue growth for the sake of growth in a world in which we are struggling with climate change and all kinds of environmental problems. All right? You don't necessarily need a choice of 23 underarm spray deodorants or of 18 different pairs of sneakers when children are hungry in this country. I don't think the media appreciates the kind of stress that ordinary Americans are working on.

Williamson takes this on in good form.
This is a very old and thoroughly discredited idea, one that dates back to Karl Marx and to the anti-capitalists who preceded him. It is a facet of the belief that free markets are irrational, and that if reason could be imposed on markets -- which is to say, if reason could be imposed on free human beings -- then enlightened planners could ensure that resources are directed toward their best use. This line of thinking historically has led to concentration camps, gulags, firing squads, purges, and the like, for a few reasons: The first is that free markets are not irrational; they are a reflection of what people actually value at a particular time relative to the other things that they might also value. Real people simply want things that are different from what the planners want them to want, a predicament that can be solved only through violence and the threat of violence. That is the first reason that this sort of planning leads to gulags. The second is that there are no enlightened planners; men such as Senator Sanders imagine themselves to be candidates for enlightened leadership, but put a whip in his hand and the gentleman from Vermont will turn out to be another thug in the long line of thugs who have cleaved to his faith. The third reason that this sort of planning always works out poorly is that nobody knows what the best use of resources actually is; all that the would-be masters know is that they do not approve of the current deployment of resources.

Along the way, he puts the boot in to minimum wage, explains the subjective value of prices, and even documents Cthulhu's monetary policy. All in all a good, single source exegesis of my foundational beliefs.

*(as in "I can't even make up a good joke about Bernie Sanders")

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 6:14 PM | What do you think? [3]
But johngalt thinks:

Firstly, it's not growth for the sake of growth but growth for the sake of prosperity.

Secondly, Sen. Bernie Sanders (Indistinguishable from Marx - VT)

Posted by: johngalt at May 28, 2015 3:56 PM
But jk thinks:


Posted by: jk at May 28, 2015 3:58 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

This is probably the only thing I was able to remember from _Road to Serfdom_ was Hayek's simple and elegant rejection of this canard (which KW summarizes quite well):

First; information submitted to "the planners" isn't perfect.
Second; even if it could be made perfect, it would be imperfect by the time the plan was close to implementation.

IMO, markets are only irrational when taken in microscopic bytes; no one could forsee all the elements that came together to make the first iPhone. If one could, I'd imagine he/she'd go insane before being able to cogently present what had been glimpsed.

Oh, and if I ever had time for FB, I'd go to BS's page and post this:

"here's a solution for all this drivel:

with my apologies to all the lost sales of Prozac..."

Posted by: nanobrewer at May 29, 2015 1:06 AM


Usually, a Conservative news outlet might use an unflattering photo of an ideological opponent. I have seen a bucketload of bad pictures of Sec. Clinton.

But. This. Is. Devastating. They are missing only the monocles, else the new Monopoly® box would be complete:


2016 Posted by John Kranz at 5:19 PM | What do you think? [3]
But johngalt thinks:

You're right... I can clearly see that she "cares about people like [me.]"

"But the deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top. Everyday Americans need a champion, and I wanna be that champion."
Posted by: johngalt at May 27, 2015 5:41 PM
But jk thinks:

Pahdon me, do you have any Grey Poupon®?

Posted by: jk at May 27, 2015 5:53 PM
But jk thinks:

So interesting that this comes up this week. Because I was thinking about starting JK LLC -- that would serve as a "pass through" entity designed to "channel payments to me."

Any of you guys have experience with this?

Posted by: jk at May 27, 2015 6:37 PM

Tejas Levantamiento! (or, "American history as reimagined by the Tea Party")

I lived in Texas once - for a year. The year was 1986, which happened to be the Sesquicentennial of the Republic of Texas. I didn't really know what that was all about, except that Texas became a state fifty years before Colorado.

As a product of Colorado, educationally and culturally, my opinion of the Lone Star State was mediocre at best, being the source of a great influx of temporary and permanent visitation to my home state and preceding "Californicans" as the great scourge upon the Colorado countryside. Yet with age came wisdom and a new appreciation for the fiercely independent western nature of the people of Texas.

During my short residence there I did journey to the Alamo, and toured the old fort inside and out. But that's as far as my curiosity took me at the time. And so I was captivated by the early promos for History's 'Texas Rising' which said, "the Alamo wasn't the end, it was the beginning." I've now watched the first two of five episodes in this "epic series event" that aims to bring the fight for Texas independence to life.

It didn't take long for me to recognize that the portrayal of events would be unpopular in some circles. After all, the Mexicans and the Commanches "were there first." How could white men defeating those indiginous groups ever be considered "winning independence?" It's European colonialism, pure and simple, right?

"This movie isn't just bad -- the politics are dubious too," the liberal newspaper the Guardian wrote in a piece called "Texas Rising: American history as reimagined by the Tea Party." "Texas Rising is a movie that glorifies the campaigns of white settlers in land that technically belongs to Mexico and was initially settled by Native Americans. There is not an inkling of post-colonial reflection about what that means in the great scope of history. The line between good guys and bad guys is drawn as simply and thoughtlessly as it is in a backyard game of Cowboys and Indians."

But the charge of white-colonial bias fell flat during last night's segment. Portilla, one of Santa Anna's lieutenants [spoiler alert] was addressing Texian Colonel James Fannin. "You are a filthy wetback. You swam across the Sequin River, illegally. You are in my country now." Then Portilla murdered Fannin with a gunshot to the front of his head. One can almost imagine the NRA and Tea Party patches on Portillas sleeves as he parrots this modern nativist sentiment, in reverse.

Still, I am captivated. The story is compelling and the history captivating, whatever liberties may or may not be taken. It is a good background for future learning of the true history which, being from a time and place prior to internet and cloud storage, remains quite murky to this day.

And besides, not all the reviews are bad.

Quote of the Day

"It has everything one would want for a wedding," al-Homsi said of Raqqa--a riverside provincial capital that in the 18 months since IS took control has seen militants beheading opponents and stoning alleged adulteresses in public. Gunmen at checkpoints scrutinize passers-by for signs of anything they see as a violation of Shariah, or Islamic law, as slight as a hint of hair gel. In the homes of some of the IS commanders in the city are women and girls from the Yazidi religious sect, abducted in Iraq and now kept as sex slaves. -- AP
Hat-tip: James Taranto
But johngalt thinks:

Here we go again - a patriarchal system dictating who may and may not marry... and who may and may not be legally enslaved for sex.

Posted by: johngalt at May 27, 2015 3:54 PM

May 26, 2015



Scotch and Soda

Dave Guard of the Kingston Trio gets the writing credit, but its provenance is a bit more complicated.

Live at the Coffeehouse dot Com


May 25, 2015

From Cicero to Ayn Rand

I'm not certain Jim Powell answers the question "Why Has Liberty Flourished in the West?" But he provides an interesting enumeration of important thinkers. And in these times, a rather courageous assertion of dangerous hemispherism:

Despite the claims of those who say one culture is as good as another, the West is clearly superior in at least one crucial respect: it brought liberty into the modern world, and liberty has made possible many other good things.

In this politically correct era, some intellectuals have been surprised to discover that the West is unique in this. For example, Harvard historical sociologist Orlando Patterson had started out to write a book explaining the origins of slavery, but he quickly realized that slavery was universal throughout the ancient world. The question to ask was why liberty emerged in the West and nowhere else, which became the subject of his National Book Award-winning Freedom in the Making of Western Culture (1991).

I have a running argument with ThreeSources friend tg that it goes back to "Eastern Thought," an indefinite bin into which I lump Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism. My young friend the Asian scholar doesn't buy it, but I suggest there were plenty of Eastern Platos but that they lacked an Aristotle.

Powell is not venturing there either, but he does make an interesting point I had not considered:

Geography probably played a role in the development of liberty. Greece has many harbors that could shelter ships and many islands whose people were most likely to advance themselves through overseas commerce. Europe's irregular coastline, with thousands of harbors, some opening to major rivers, likewise encouraged commerce. Since commerce means contact with all kinds of people, ideas, and goods, merchants must be tolerant and rational if they are to be successful. "Coastal peoples," Thomas Sowell observed in Migrations and Cultures (1996), "have tended to be culturally distinctive. In touch with the outside world, they have usually been more knowledgeable and more technologically and socially advanced than interior peoples."

Geography not being my best subject, there does not seem to be a shortage of coastline from Korea to India, although the Eurasian steppe civilizations are certainly affected.

Even without all the answers, it's a great longer-than-a-blog-post article about the dominance of the West in the advancement of liberty, and a great look at some of its most important thinkers.

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 10:19 AM | What do you think? [3]
But johngalt thinks:

A great nugget is found in the close, posted here for the benefit of all who don't click through at least for a skimming, as I did:

History shows that when liberty isn’t adequately defended, it tends to slip away as intellectuals promote statist ideas, special interests lobby for favors, and politicians gain more power. All of us can play an important role by keeping ourselves informed, educating our children, speaking up at school meetings, telling our friends, using our professional influence, contributing time and money to help keep this uniquely glorious civilization alive.


Posted by: johngalt at May 27, 2015 11:11 AM
But Steve D thinks:

'quickly realized that slavery was universal throughout the ancient world'

Stop right there! How can someone possibly get anywhere close to being an historical sociologist (whatever that means) without knowing this. I'm pretty sure I knew slavery was universal throughout the ancient world by high school.

Posted by: Steve D at May 28, 2015 2:37 PM
But jk thinks:

Not familiar with your date of birth, SteveD, but I think you're overestimating the clarity of education provided kids today.

No doubt they're knowledgeable on all things recycling, the primacy of the Iroquois Constitution in our nation's founding, and the metaphysical certitude of climate change [WSJ].

Not sure you can expect much else. Gotta go now -- there are a bunch on my lawn...

Posted by: jk at May 28, 2015 4:03 PM

I Started a Joke...

...that started the whole world flaming!


Man, my jokes sometimes fall flat around here. But I went for sarcasm on Facebook. Americans for Prosperity (hey, where's my check?)* posted a link to a NYPost article on the imploding State Obamacare exchanges. We may have mentioned that around here...

I said "If only someone could have predicted this before the law was passed..." Six hours later, there were 40 replies -- and most wanted my head on a platter!

* Umm, that's a joke -- I get no money from the Koch Brothers. I just wanted to be clear.

But johngalt thinks:

Where subtlety is lost in email or wasted in text messages, it is thoroughly punishable on FB.

Posted by: johngalt at May 27, 2015 11:17 AM

May 24, 2015

Review Corner

In essence, the rap on Churchill is that he was a 19th-century man parachuted into the 20th.

But is that not precisely to the point? It took a 19th-century man--traditional in habit, rational in thought, conservative in temper--to save the zoth century from itself. The story of the zoth century is a story of revolution wrought by thoroughly modern men: Hitler, Stalin, Mao and above all Lenin, who invented totalitarianism out of Marx's cryptic and inchoate communism (and thus earns his place as runner-up to Churchill for Person of the Century).

And it is the story of the modern intellectual, from Ezra Pound to Jean-Paul Sartre, seduced by these modern men of politics and, grotesquely, serving them.

I think I can say that Charles Krauthammer is my favorite conservative. I do enjoy my libertarian thinkers and -- as we will discuss -- tend to find their philosophy more compatible with mine. But to read Krauthammer's Things That Matter (thanks, nb!) is to enjoy a goodly bit of Chesterton, Burke, and Churchill today. His prose is magnificent, his erudition astounds, and his intellect ranges deeply into science, medicine, history and politics.

He can capture the poetry of baseball and even make a chess match interesting:

It was like watching the World Series with five Hall of Famers parsing every pitch and Cy Young correcting them. On Karpov's 23rd move the parsing got slightly crazy: If Kasparov does A, then Karpov must do B. If Kasparov then tries C and Karpov answers with D, look out: E, F and G follow. But if Kasparov does Z, then . . .

Some of these lines were harmony, variations on the main theme of the game. Some were jazz riffs, freestyle and whimsical. Some were just fanciful trills, exotic and occasionally atonal. They all went up on the board fast and furious, as patzers--plodding amateurs--like me struggled to follow the logic.

Then Karpov did the unexpected: He advanced a pawn, unbalancing the position and not a few grandmasters.

I have most recently moved explicitly out of being a self-identified conservative. The Libertarian jurisprudence of Damon Root [Review Corner] and Clark Neily [Review Corner] have captured my heart and given newfound appreciation for the Ninth Amendment. I think it fair to say Mr. Krauthammer does not join me there:
It is a temptation to be resisted. Issues of this magnitude should never be decided by nine robes. Affirmative action needs to be dealt with by the people in the legislatures and in referendums. I believe that the current dispensation is a travesty. But a very substantial portion of the population reads the Constitution--and the nation's needs--quite differently. Under these circumstances, the issue should not be settled by judicial fiat.

And, perhaps more tooth-grinding to the ThreeSourcer:
I have no problem in principle with gun control. Congress enacted (and I supported) an assault weapons ban in 1994. The problem was: It didn't work. (So concluded a University of Pennsylvania study com-missioned by the Justice Department.) The reason is simple. Unless you are prepared to confiscate all existing firearms, disarm the citizenry and repeal the Second Amendment, it's almost impossible to craft a law that will be effective.

Wrong answer, Charles! You can say that that is not a "Conservative" position so much as a "pointy-head-east-coast-elitist" one. But I retort that conservatism allows for utilitarian control of the individual and that a rights-based libertarianism would stop that second paragraph on nearly every clause.

All in all, however, it is a superb book and makes me far less apologetic for my former conservatism and the strains of its foreign policy that remain. I think any ThreeSourcer would dig it and -- as Brother nb did not relay excitement about its return -- it is up for grabs.

And it will do so not just by what it says and how well it says it but where it says it. The Hall of Remembrance has at each of its six corners a narrow vertical window. Through one you can see the Washington Monument, through another the Jefferson Memorial. The juxtaposition is not just redemptive. It is reassuring. The angels of democracy stand watch on this temple of evil. It is as if only in the heart of the world's most tolerant and most powerful democracy can.

Five stars for stuff like that.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 10:19 AM | What do you think? [1]
But nanobrewer thinks:

So glad to have others enjoy a book I so mightily did, and to have JK eloquently gush about Dr. K's brilliance.

Also, while happy to have livened JK's reading, I do want Things that Matter back! As a bonus to our TS brethren, I can announce the book is now out in paperback!

I also have to agree with JK, that on occasion Dr. Krauthammer's (I don't think I can ever again not use that honorific, after reading this) practicality does grate against the bulk of his work - and it's most apparent in his essays on gun control laws.

As a further endorsement, I'll add for TS'ers benefit that I usually do not care for the "collection of columns" books - I've tried and left unfinished several, usually wanting to find something else to read right in the middle (aka, where it's supposed to be getting good). I anticipate the same with any book by Jonah, but this one I just could not put down!

Posted by: nanobrewer at May 26, 2015 8:37 AM

May 22, 2015

Obama's Coast Guard Audience

When President Obama named human caused Climate Change as the cause of "an immediate risk to our national security" in his address to the graduating class of the Coast Guard Academy this week, something tells me his intended audience was folks like CNN's Juliette Kayyem.

Skeptics of these global seismic shifts are not simply denying science, they are denying safety and security. Until we recognize -- with the immediacy we would if a nation launched missiles against our cities -- that climate change isn't something that can be debated, but must be mitigated or, failing that, adapted to, we will not expend the effort or resources to prepare ourselves to the one phenomenon that we know is coming: simply, the waters are rising and this is a war.

Got that? The risk of climate change demands the same immediacy as a missile launch against our cities.

But the Arabic speaking world* has a much different perspective on the President's priorities.

*The owner of the video admits "Folks.......this a spoof. It was never intended to be taken as a legitimate news report. Obviously two things are at play here. One, I did the job too well. Two, we have come to the stage in the Obama presidency where quite literally..........anything is possible"

h/t: KHOW's Mandy Connell

But AndyN thinks:

My dad used to say that you had to be at least 6' tall to join the Coast Guard so you can wade ashore if your ship sinks. It seems the President chose his audience well. If he can't stop the rise of the oceans, the USCG will start having to recruit taller sailors.

Posted by: AndyN at May 24, 2015 3:54 PM
But Jk thinks:

Heh. Because #nationalsecurity

Posted by: Jk at May 24, 2015 10:18 PM

May 21, 2015

Quote of the Day

At a 2013 gun-rights rally [Glendale Mayor and Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Mike] Dunafon referred to his small (0.6 square miles, 4,200 residents) enclave inside Denver as "the Vatican of liberty." But it’s looking more like the Vatican and less like liberty now. -- Peter Blake, Complete Colorado
Dunafon spoke to Liberty On The Rocks -- Flatirons (LOTR-F). I missed it but enjoyed the video. He is entertaining and has a Penn-Jillettish mixing of the libertarian with the libertine. Out-of-towners may not know Glendale; it is a small enclave surrounded by Denver (not a suburb) and it has been known for bars, nightlife, and a younger demographic resident. Dunafon owns (via marriage) a popular strip club called "Shotgun Willies." (Our band had a rehearsal space down the street before it converted from Country to [well, fill in your own joke here...]

He's likeable, but got on the wrong side of this humble blogger for a) Running as a Libertarian (delenda est!) and b) I kid you not, bowing out of an LOTR-F debate because he had the chance to "smoke weed with Snoop Dogg."

He has lost his remaining friends in the libertarian community with this crazy eminent domain deal. Everybody on FB is saying "Even Mike Dunafon?"


Tweet of the Day

Hat-tip, Insty, who says "Heh" and has a couple more.

2016 Posted by John Kranz at 1:06 PM | What do you think? [2]
But nanobrewer thinks:

Is it just this older machine of mine (a Win7 system is finally on order) or is Insty everybit as bad as PowerLine for aggressive shockwave/plug-ins?

Posted by: nanobrewer at May 22, 2015 2:37 PM
But Jk thinks:

No, sad to say you are correct. I think I have some malware as well, Insty is impossible to view in IE. I have an instance Chrome that I use for that. I may need to rebuild the whole machine.

Posted by: Jk at May 23, 2015 6:21 PM

May 20, 2015

Armchair General

I found this disturbing:

The Syrian government's antiquities chief Mamoun Abdulkarim said he had no doubt that if Palmyra fell to the jihadists, it would suffer a similar fate to ancient Nimrud, which they blew up earlier this year.

'If ISIS enters Palmyra, it will spell its destruction... it will be a repetition of the barbarism and savagery which we saw in Nimrud, Hatra and Mosul.'

But I shall not just complain without suggesting a solution.

These heavily armed aircraft incorporate side-firing weapons integrated with sophisticated sensor, navigation and fire control systems to provide surgical firepower or area saturation during extended loiter periods, at night and in adverse weather. The sensor suite consists of a television sensor, infrared sensor and radar. These sensors allow the gunship to visually or electronically identify friendly ground forces and targets anytime, anywhere.


But Keith Arnold thinks:

That 130 is a beautiful sight -- unless you're the target. If we only had a Commander-in-Chief who was serious about defeating ISIS...

I do have give a shout-out to another Close Air Support vehicle that I love, though, the A-10. As much as I respect the 130, I can buy seven Warthogs for the same price, and that BRRRRRT sound of her primary weapon is nothing short of iconic. Only a complete traitor would be pushing to decommission the A-10.

My apologies for my scanty participation, by the way -- the day job has really been insistent on having my undivided attention. I've barely had the time to make a nuisance of myself on Facebook, and only during non-paying hours...

Posted by: Keith Arnold at May 21, 2015 12:19 PM
But johngalt thinks:

The A-10 is a great aircraft. Her forte is obliterating armored vehicles, however. "Spooky" and "Spectre" and "Ghostrider" (planned deployment in FY2017) are well suited to anti-personnel duty, in bad weather and at night, in addition to obliterating armored vehicles.

Posted by: johngalt at May 21, 2015 2:53 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Did you click through for the video? It's the best I've ever seen. Not only can they visually differentiate between armed men vs. women and children, they can see weapons being carried. Collateral damage = lower.

But I'd already taken up so much column inch with the still shot I linked it rather than imbed. Never let it be said that I lack humility.

Posted by: johngalt at May 21, 2015 2:57 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

The other thing the C130-based designs have over the A-10 is "linger" time and long-range fire. It can wait anyone out, and I believe with some of it's heavier ordnance (like a 105mm cannon) it can shoot from out of earshot.... giving a whole new meaning of the old term "whispering death."

Posted by: nanobrewer at May 26, 2015 11:58 PM

"Ridin' with Biden"

The Democrats who want to win the White House are not, it seems, Ready for Hillary. Not seven years ago, and not today.

Once a self-described "vociferous" Clinton supporter--he went door-to-door in New Hampshire with Bill in '92--he chose Obama in early '07 despite his historical ties with the Clintons. "It's more than charisma; it's more than the ability to emote; it's the ability to speak to 25,000 people and have every one of them feel you're speaking to them. Clinton had it, Bush had it, Obama had it, Reagan had it. Joe Biden has it--he can bring people to tears. She ain't got it."

Reading stories like this makes me feel a bit sorry for her - until I see her picture or hear her laugh. Then I return to my usual perspective.

2016 Posted by JohnGalt at 3:24 PM | What do you think? [0]

Quote of the Day

Back in the day, [Sid] Blumenthal was a respected (read: well-connected and establishment) journalist attached to outlets such as The New Republic, where he got his start. Despite a twee exterior and generally prissy demeanor that made Tony Randall seem like the Brawny Paper Towel pitchman in comparison, Blumenthal's nastiness and willingness to fling shit like a howler monkey in heat earned him the sobriquet "Sid Vicious," because, well, you know there's really not much difference between a New Republic and New Yorker kind of guy and the junk-addicted, homicidal bassist for the Sex Pistols, amirite. -- Nick Gillespie
Honorable mention (same piece):
As The New York Times reports, Blumenthal remained a trusted adviser to Clinton when she was secretary of state, despite not really knowing what the hell he was talking about.

May 19, 2015

Doing for Healthcare What they did for Iraq!

I have seen an awful lot of stories of failure in state-run health exchanges.

I thought some intrepid and public spirited blogger, with exceptional typing skills and personal hygiene should take on the project of assembling them.

Whew! Thankfully, Sally Pipes nailed it.

Given all the headaches, a number of states are considering offloading responsibility for their exchanges to the federal government. But that exit path may not be as appealing if the Supreme Court rules this summer that subsidies for the purchase of insurance are only available through state-operated exchanges in King v. Burwell.

States could have to choose between absorbing millions of dollars in losses running their own exchanges -- or depriving their residents of subsidies by sending them into the federal exchange.

They can't afford the former -- and the latter may prompt open public revolt. Perhaps that will be enough to convince Congress to repeal Obamacare altogether and replace it with market-based reforms that empower patients. Those would actually make sense.


I stared at this headline, linked on Instapundit: "Backlash Against Facebook's Free Internet Service Grows."

Backlash? Free? Internet? Huh? What?

You bright kids in front have perhaps figured it out -- I had to click.

On Monday, 65 advocacy organizations in 31 countries released an open letter to Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg protesting effort to bring free internet service to the developing world--saying the project "violates the principles of net neutrality, threatening freedom of expression, equality of opportunity, security, privacy, and innovation."

Reminding me of a Lowell George song:
Some people tell me that Rock'n'Roll
Is bad for the body, bad for the soul,
Bad for the heart, bad for the mind.
Bad for the deaf and bad for the blind....

It seems Mister Z. will not be allowed to give things away unless he gives away full-featured things.
With, Facebook is partnering with various wireless carriers and other organizations to provide an app that offers free access to certain internet services, including Facebook, on mobile phones in developing countries. But this spring, a group of publishers in India pulled out of the program, saying it violated the principles of net neutrality--the notion that internet providers should treat all online services equally.
Access Now is calling on Facebook to offer complete internet with very low data caps. But unlike the current model, this may not provide direct benefit to Facebook, because it would not funnel people directly to Facebook over other services. The question becomes: would Facebook still be willing to fund such an operation?

And ice cream! With sprinkles goddammit!

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 4:17 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:


Take that, social equality do-gooders! Your free crap isn't good enough - make it better! Too late to back out now, suckers.

Or as my electrician recently quipped, "No good deed goes unpunished."

Posted by: johngalt at May 19, 2015 5:36 PM

Tweet of the Day

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 1:24 PM | What do you think? [6]
But johngalt thinks:

Huh, I get "Girls = 2*SQRT(Evil)"

One of us must be wrong.

Posted by: johngalt at May 19, 2015 3:43 PM
But jk thinks:

Reminding me of my favorite Dire Straights song, Industrial Disease: "Two men say they're Jesus, one of 'em must be wrong. We got a protest singer, singin' a protest song..."

Myself, I'm throwing in my lot with Mister Sterne.

Posted by: jk at May 19, 2015 3:54 PM
But patq thinks:

I am with johngalt. The first line should be Time + Money which then yields 2 * SQRT(evil).

Posted by: patq at May 19, 2015 7:41 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Correct! As with most erroneous conclusions, the mistake can be found at the start.

That is a memorable lyric, jk, and it ambled through my thoughts as I typed. Bonus points to whomever can name the Aristotelian premise that it, probably unwittingly on the part of Mr. Knopfler, represents: "Two men say they're Jesus, one of 'em must be wrong."

Posted by: johngalt at May 20, 2015 6:24 PM
But jk thinks:

Aristotle, Aristotle... What label was he on?

Posted by: jk at May 20, 2015 7:56 PM
But jk thinks:

Not sure a mere sum captures the resources I have invested over the years, but the phrase "time and money" does seem to support your correction.

Posted by: jk at May 20, 2015 8:04 PM

May 17, 2015

Review Corner

The proper scope of government is of course a topic that has engaged political theorists for centuries. Political science and philosophy professors commonly ask their students to write papers pitting the views of Thomas Hobbes against those of John Locke, Alexander Hamilton against Thomas Jefferson, John Rawls against Robert Nozick. For economists' views it is natural to begin with Adam Smith.
Blog Brother Bryan is a great believer in subjective value and the importance of pricing in a free market. All the same, I fear he might hurl an alabaster bust of Adam Smith at me if I mention -- one more time -- that Lawrence H. White's The Clash of Economic Ideas set me back $28.00 on Kindle. I've paid close to 40 for a couple others, but White's earns a spot in the price pantheon.

It compares pretty favorably not only to other economics books, but to an actual economics course. In that light, it represents good value.

White is a GMU Economics professor, CATO senior fellow, and a prolific free banking advocate. Clash of Economics ideas is a more wide ranging comparison of economic ideas and their consequences.

Most notable is the format which the author compares to Quentin Tarantino -- it is not chronological but rather grouped by ideas. White will stop to give a half page bio and brief introduction to economists and ideas as they become important to the topic at hand. The result is a very readable, accessible and entertaining overview of the most important economic arguments, told with anecdotes, personalities, and theory combined. FA Hayek escapes to America, but is at first disappointed with the lack of theoretical foundation in economics at Columbia.

It was the year in which The Trend of Economics, intended to provide a program for the institutionalist school, had been brought out by Rexford Guy Tugwell. And one of the first things the visiting economist was urged to do was to go to the New School for Social Research to hear Thorstein Veblen mumble sarcastically and largely inaudibly to a group of admiring old ladies -- a curiously unsatisfying experience.

In one book, one can collect a seriously comprehensive collect of important ideas and historical economic discussions. ThreeSourcers would also enjoy the presentation as "clash." Not that you're an overly argumentative lot (cough, cough) but seeing the schools and thinkers categorized with political movements and practical application is clarifying.
The grounding of Bentham's doctrine stood in stark contrast to that of Locke's.63 In his book Anarchical Fallacies (1795), written in response to rights declarations issued during the French Revolution, Bentham famously declared that "Natural Rights is simple nonsense; natural and imprescriptible rights, rhetorical nonsense-- nonsense on stilts."64 Bentham endeavored to put the case for classical liberalism and laissez-faire on a more scientific foundation. But in his endeavor he provided the foundation on which later utilitarians like Mill, Marshall, Pigou, and the Fabians would build wider cases for government intervention.65 Utility-maximizing policies for Bentham included universal suffrage, free markets, and economy in government. Utility-maximizing policies for the Fabians included universal suffrage, socialism, and larger government.

The New Deal gets a lengthy look as our nation's embrace of top-down centralized planning. Growing up to witness the failed end of that and the cronies who perpetuate,it is easy to forget the idealism.
John Kenneth Galbraith reminisced that, returning to Harvard after studying under Keynes in England, "There was this breath of hope and optimism, and I came back from Cambridge to find a whole group of people here who had also read The General Theory."61 Hayek's and Robbins's contrasting policy recommendation, to let output and employment recover on their own as bankruptcies and layoffs released workers and machines to find more sustainable employments, was regarded by many as a counsel of despair.

Wrong and dangerous idealism. But idealism. This book is worth your time, and actually worth $28 on Kindle (there is some mechanism to lend certain books, holler if you'd like to pursue that.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 10:58 AM | What do you think? [4]
But nanobrewer thinks:

I'm stunned in a delightful way by the concept embodied in the phrase "subjective value."

It's what I learned early on while doing technical marketing for semiconductor companies: how ossified was the idea that price = (cost of goods)+(mfr time/materials)x(resonabable profit margin).

That's a catchy phrase, which sadly seems all so necessary these days...

The book sounds fascinating, but I don't know that I'm up for many, if any, new concepts at the present.

Posted by: nanobrewer at May 18, 2015 11:39 AM
But jk thinks:

I think the Subjective Theory of Value is the soul of free economics. Marx thought the value of an item to be the sum of its labor, concomitantly making your last operand replaceable by the State. Indeed the whole idea of a computable value makes markets superfluous.

Actually, the price of something is what somebody will pay. I <cartman_voice>"rack diciprine"</cartman_voice> to write a book, but I've always though all basic economic concepts could be taught using guitars. The normally docile "Friends of the Archtop Guitar" group on facebook has conflagrated into schismatic conflict that makes Iraq and the Levant look peaceful.

At issue: Gibson's introduction of a new pressed wood for its most expensive big body jazz guitars. This exacerbates a conflict between the "You're a complete moron if you pay Gibson's insane premium that its nameplate demands" and "You have a tin ear if you cannot appreciate their subtleties" camps. It's not pretty this week.

But I can find no better example than an $11,000 guitar when you can get a pretty nice Chinese one for 1/10 its price or an gorgeous artisanal luthier's for half.

The Adam Smith group (to which all ThreeSourcers are welcome -- we meet ever Friday afternoon over Coffee|Beer at The Brewing Market [on Dagny Way in Atlas Valley]) remarks how close our dear Professor gets to subjective theory of value without quite hitting it. That's okay, he "discovered" a dozen other important concepts.

Posted by: jk at May 18, 2015 12:26 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Proof that "the price of something is what somebody will pay" can be found in the "call before midnight tonight" tactic used by telemarketers. They understand that the pitched product's perceived value to customers will never be higher than it is during, and immediately after, the pitch. After sleeping on it the "price" or amount most customers are willing to pay for the item, has magically and mysteriously declined.

But the big picture historical overview you allude to is what interests me.

I'm a fan of integration of ideas and am very tempted by your offer. Perhaps when our gorram new house is finished.

Posted by: johngalt at May 18, 2015 2:50 PM
But jk thinks:

You would dig this.

Posted by: jk at May 18, 2015 3:01 PM

May 15, 2015

Requiescant In Pace

My Facebook feed is about 100% BB King this morning. See? My friends ain;t so bad.


Music Posted by John Kranz at 10:14 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

"Blues Boy." A giant in every sense that I know.

Posted by: johngalt at May 15, 2015 1:19 PM

No Way to Run a Railroad

The WSJ Ed Page appears unconvinced that the trouble with Amtrak is "insufficient infrastructure spending."

In a 2014 audit, the Amtrak IG observed that management thought "so many legislatively mandated tasks and responsibilities had accumulated over time that it was unclear what to focus on. That view was evident in the company's 2011 strategic plan, which had five strategic themes, seven strategies, numerous initiatives and dozens of performance measures."

Who thought it was a good idea to have gub'mint run the choo-choo? Oh, yes, President Nixon. Of course.

But johngalt thinks:

One of my FB friends passed along a tweet:

"I read a book once where the solution to every railroad problem was another dumb government intervention."

Who is John Galt?

Posted by: johngalt at May 15, 2015 1:23 PM

May 14, 2015


Never, in the history of dudedom, has a dude ever been so angry upon receipt of a windfall $20. But I have been grouchy for a week:


Can you read that? That's a check from the "Toyota Motor Corp. Unintended Acceleration Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products liability Litigation c/o Gilardi & Co LLC." I'll give them props for the oxford comma, but the rest is bulls**t.

My biological brother posted an interesting article from Malcolm Gladwell in the New Yorker. Like anything else Gladwell, I find much to critique. As I'm clearly in rant territory, I'll say that he couldn't find liberty in a dark room with both hands.

But he is bright and thoughtful, and he makes a point about the engineer mentality. On the Gladwell scale, I surely possess it. He looks at the Toyota acceleration case and the Cobalt ignition swith and a quick peek at Honda air bags on his way to the Ford Pinto's famed "exploding gas tank." The topic is a hotshot engineer who was tasked with interpreting crash data and deciding whether to pursue recalls.

I spent my teenage years washing Pintos at a rental car company. I know them pretty well. But they became the archetype of both unsafe vehicles and uncaring corporate decisions. Thanks, 60 Minutes. Gladwell -- I think -- climbs on the side of those who deny any exceptional flaw in the Pinto. The statistics are all in line with other small domestic cars of the era: Vegas, Gremlins, &c. (You kids missed the 70s lemme tell ya...)

I don't have an opinion on Honda air bags, I suspect that the Cobalt ignition switch was real and recall-worthy, I don't know, but most of them fall apart with any type of statistical look: miles travelled, vehicles on road, even against other fatalities it's a statistical wash.

My biggest gripe with Gladwell, and what I shared with my brother, is that this recall anything that might bug anybody ever mentality adds to the price of new vehicles -- and that keeps many people in older vehicles with far fewer safety features. Gladwell wants the engineers to see the photos of three dead teenage girls, as though they cannot infer from a burned and twisted Pinto carcass.

I suggest they're better with cold, numerical calculation. Else they will prioritize the victims in the picture over the unseen young people driving or sharing the road with less safe, older vehicles.

It's a long article with maddening bits to liberty lovers, but I recommend it if you can squirrel away the time.

Rant Posted by John Kranz at 5:23 PM | What do you think? [6]
But johngalt thinks:

Didn't one of the original Charlie's Angels drive a Pinto? The one played by Kate Jackson, if memory serves. Never has a Pinto looked soooo good.

There's the "Engineer mentality" and then there's the "John Galt Engineer mentality." The latter says, "I made this machine that can do things. If you like what it does you may buy it, and do as you wish with it, AS IS. No warranty is expressed or implied. If it blows up because of some confluence of unlikely events, tough shit. But then, you could walk if you prefer.

I had one or both of these sentiments when I heard a Fox News legal expert, who I usually admire and agree with, ask the questions: "Why aren't there seatbelts on passenger trains?" "Why do we have 20th century technology in 21st century transportation?" "Why are our passenger trains no more advanced than the 'Chattanooga Choo Choo?"

I dunno, maybe because THE SEATS RIPPED OUT OF THE FLOOR IN THE CRASH? Look at it this way, Mister Unappreciative Ingrate: Some thirty-something store clerk, promoted to "engineer" from conductor (with how much training or proficiency testing?) just ran the "Choo Choo" into a siding at 100-plus miles per hour with 200-odd souls on board... with but 8 fatalities. Do you think you could design something better? Something safer? Go ahead then - I quit.

Posted by: johngalt at May 14, 2015 6:17 PM
But dagny thinks:

I seem to remember a movie called The Verdict with Paul Newman addressed this issue.

Posted by: dagny at May 14, 2015 7:58 PM
But dagny thinks:

OK wrong movie. Someone help me out??? What is the movie where the car company engineer knows that the car is going to explode on impact but they build it that way anyway.

Posted by: dagny at May 14, 2015 8:07 PM
But Jk thinks:

The Verdict was about medical malpractice. But if you think of the other, let me know and I'll rent it. I got $20.46.

Posted by: Jk at May 14, 2015 9:27 PM
But jk thinks:

The other facet I cannot ignore is that the Yoonited States owned a huge position in GM during this period, thanks to the bailout. The Toyota acceleration and GM ignition switches were covered as equally as were Watergate and Benghazi.

Posted by: jk at May 15, 2015 9:36 AM
But dagny thinks:

Class Action - Whew that was killing me!

Gene Hackman
Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio

Posted by: dagny at May 15, 2015 12:29 PM

'Nother Day in Pardise

I put these on FB -- sorry for the duplication, but here you can click for high-rez.

Even my overpriced Lumina 1020 could not capture the splendor (due to operator limitations, surely). I have never seen a rainbow like that ever. Should I be building an ark and looking for a male Havanese?

Colorado Posted by John Kranz at 1:23 PM | What do you think? [0]

More on Elon Musk's Amazing Batt'ry

Peter Van Doren is not convinced it is a good idea even if viable:

Oil and Energy Posted by John Kranz at 10:37 AM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

"...other means of production are actually very low cost, much lower than solar, even if we had some sort of carbon tax that allegedly charged for the externalities created by traditional fossil fuel boilers."

Van Doren assumes a status quo ante that I think Musk simply ignores. He wants to REPLACE the grid. How very individualist of him! Except - since mass produced and distributed energy is cheaper than any form of source generation, anyone making an objective decision will choose the local power company. Unless, of course, government takes that option away, by one mean or another. And since "everyone knows" that mass produced energy is "destroying the earth," putting them out of business is something we "must do" according to Musk. His battery is the way he now suggests, "we can" do it.

Posted by: johngalt at May 14, 2015 2:26 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

He speaks clumsily - sounds young, as well - but his point is spot on. Musk has created a straw man that I think he hopes more like a Trojan Horse.

Mr. Van Doren is spot on: PV is lovely, but expensive - he cites, properly from what I can tell (and he's actually paid to know this) 17c/kWhr, vs. Nat. Gas which is close to 3 cents.

Note that the price of NG is at "the box" of the generator, which takes a while and more than a bit of infrastructure to get to OUR meters.

Techhie speak aside, the general idea is that Musk is making making a rutting scent with which he hopes to gather sympathy and more subsidies. The Gridwall will be as useful as EV's were in the 60's.

Posted by: nanobrewer at May 20, 2015 12:45 AM

May 13, 2015

First Daughter-Lady?

Apparently a woman can be president, but a man cannot be first lady. Or is it just that the "diplomacy of social functions" is "women's work?" Either way, it's pretty sexist dontcha think?

Chelsea Clinton could take on role of first lady if Hillary wins, White House expert says

2016 Posted by JohnGalt at 3:52 PM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

President Jackson used a niece when his opponents quite literally drove Rachel mad with cruel campaigning (when somebody says X is shaping to be the meanest year in politics, walk away quietly...)

I'd call FLOTUS-Chelsea good strategy. Hell, even I miss Bill cutting the Cap Gains Tax and signing Nafta & GATT, and facilitating China's inclusion in the WTO. But ain't nobody misses him hanging around the White House and dealing with the staff. Smart move on her part to diffuse that.

Posted by: jk at May 13, 2015 4:22 PM

... Rubio!

The title is what dagny and I reply when the other calls out, "Marco!" It's also the name of the US Senator and GOP presidential candidate who now has the backing of another billionaire. Yes, I said an other. Miami billionaire Norman Braman was already on board for a cool $10 million and now Silicon Valley billionaire Larry Ellison wades into the GOP primary fray, promoting the young Cuban-American.

Ellison will host a fundraiser for the Florida Republican's White House bid at his mansion in Woodside, Calif., on June 9, according to an invitation obtained by POLITICO.

A VIP reception and photo opportunity with Rubio will cost attendees $2,700 per person. The fundraiser will also include a host committee dinner for couples who have raised $27,000.

Ellison is likely to back this up with big bucks of his own, having contributed $3 million to a pro-Romney PAC in 2012, and having an estimated net worth of $54,000 million.

I think the latest position I've taken on the Marco... Rubio candidacy was to put him in the role of Ringo - the "fourth Beatle" on my list of favorites. But if I take general electability into account I find myself believing he is not last in that group - a group that includes (in chronological order) Walker, Paul and Cruz - but first. And like Ringo, Rubio is proving to be much more talented than the conventional wisdom assumes.

But jk thinks:

In a shameless pitch to segue from your post to mine, what lifted Ringo up the charts for me were adoring references to his legislative chops. He was a supremely effective Speaker of the House in the Florida legislature. Florida is a big, populous, and diverse state with a purple balance to rival Colorado. Enacting laws in the Sunshine State requires chops and the young man's apparently got 'em.

Ellison is an odd guy. Full disclosure: they are the largest competitors of the company which employs me and my aviation-aficionado CEO is likely more jealous of Larry's jet collection than his market share. Good news to see a Si Valley guy back a Republican; bad news that I'd be fired for donating to the same candidate as he.

Ringo was my favorite Beatle when I was young; George had much to attract a young adolescent musician. Like much, I have probably reverted to my youthful position. Ringo's got a wide libertarian streak. #peaceandlove!

As for the 2016 GOP Beatles, put me down for May 2015 as Paul, then Fiorina (she's no Yoko!), then Rubio, with Walker and Cruz fighting for the 4th slot (Walker is losing me on immigration.

Posted by: jk at May 13, 2015 4:17 PM

We've forgotten what a speech is

The good folks at the Wall Street Journal put this gem on their video page. I linked below as an asymmetric comparison to our current President, who is seriously called "The World's Greatest Orator."

It deserves an embed, and I don't know if the WSJ version is pay-walled. Here it is on YouTube:

May 5, 1985.

Sorry to see him lose one.

One of the great things about President Obama (a phrase I use so frequently, I have it stored as a macro) now where was I?

One of the great things about President Obama is his ineptness a legislator. I am reminded of Robert A Caro's "Passage of Power." (Have I mentioned those Caro books as being pretty good?) President Kennedy was twice the legislator President Obama is, but few of his initiatives made it through Congress. Sen. Richard Russell's (Rule 52 - GA) Senate successfully bottled everything. LBJ assumed the reins and thought it his duty to complete his slain boss's legislative agenda. The "Master of the Senate" twisted arms, cajoled, threatened, horse-traded, &c. Pretty soon the JFK package was completed by LBJ.

Our current president has zero faculty for this. He never passed anything the Senate. He is bright enough that I am certain he understands the basics of how it works. But he has not one whiff of LBJ's knowledge of how it really works. As one who opposes most of his agenda, we're generally fortunate in this lacuna.

But this week I wanted him to win on Asian trade. And he muffed it. The WSJ Ed Page blames its failure completely on his bad governing style; I find myself in no mood to rush to his defense.

The 52-45 liberal blockade doesn't mean trade-promotion authority is dead. But preventing a setback from becoming a rout will require a Republican salvage operation to rescue Mr. Obama from the consequences of his governing methods.

The politics of trade require Presidents to cultivate coalitions from the center out, building a majority between statist progressives and the protectionist right. But that is not Mr. Obama's thing. His instincts are to govern from the left, treat Members of Congress as peasants who must bow before his superior wisdom, and then assail the motives and character of his opponents.

Mr. Obama's attack-and-polarize approach worked while he had overwhelming liberal majorities, despite private unrest among Democrats about the White House's ex-cathedra habits. They didn't mind when he attacked Republicans as moral cretins and dissemblers. The difference is that on trade Mr. Obama has turned his contempt on Democrats.

At the Nike campus in Oregon over the weekend, Mr. Obama berated "my fellow-travellers on minimum wage and on job training and on clean energy. . . . And then on this one, they're like whooping on me." He added that these critics are "just wrong" and "they're making this stuff up."

Again, a bit of blue-on-blue usually calls for popcorn. And after watching President Reagan's Bergen-Belsen Speech on YouTube this weekend, hearing the world's greatest gorram orator saying "they're like whooping on me" is peculiar fun. But this is enabling the worst factions of both parties -- and damaging the economy.
Then again, maybe liberals got greedy as a result of Mr. Obama's own economics of resentment. He has spent six years demeaning the benefits of free markets--on taxes, entitlements, labor markets and much else--only to do a 180-reversal on trade. His liberal fellow-travellers have a point when they ask if this is the same Obama who denigrated free trade in 2008.

The problem now is that failing to pass trade-promotion authority would be far more than a defeat for Mr. Obama. It would do great harm to U.S. national interests and the world economy. The Pacific deal is the best opportunity in decades to liberalize trade. A country that cannot overcome narrow geographic or business or labor interests, and that shrinks from global competition, is choosing national decline.

Dude can't even make me happy when he loses. Guess I am a hater.

UPDATE: Somebody say "Internecine?"

The White House is pushing back at the suggestion that President Barack Obama‘s pointed disagreements with Sen. Elizabeth Warren on trade were related to her gender -- publicly telling another prominent Democrat that he should apologize for the suggestion.

Sen. Sherrod Brown on Tuesday told reporters that Mr. Obama's criticism of Ms. Warren was "disrespectful" and suggested that her gender may be driving some of the animosity in the increasingly heated dispute between Capitol Hill progressives and the White House.

But n thinks:

And, to continue the "once upon a time" theme, savvy Republicans would use this occasion to get something they wanted...

Anyone care to guess how McFumble and Baller will blow the opportunity?

Posted by: n at May 13, 2015 11:09 PM
But jk thinks:

Perhaps there's an opportunity to leverage the Executive Branch, it only got one D vote so I'm not sure about the Legislative.

So funny the disagreements over leadership. I am immensely pleased with "Leader" McFumble and "Speaker" Baller (let's be respectful and use their titles...) The Senate passes a budget for the first time in many years -- and the first balanced one since 2001! Leader McConnell has restored regular order and amendments. I'm rather proud.

I would have loved to have seen them not confirm Loretta Lynch as AG, but that is difficult politically.

Posted by: jk at May 14, 2015 9:52 AM
But johngalt thinks:

It's a bit of a trap the Democrats have set for Republicans. Ignore the rules and traditions of the Legislature to achieve the most blatantly partisan objectives possible and dare the Republicans to do the same thing if and when they ever regain the majority. Many of us in flyover country are ready for that bloodbath, or at least think we are. But what happens when the media which aided and abetted the Democrats creates brand new 24-hour programming to highlight the "madness" and "extremism" of the new Republican majority? Brand new Democrat majorities, that's what.

Returning the Leviathan government to something resembling "of the people and for the people" rather than "to each according to his need" will take more than two, four, or six years. It will not be accomplished in a single term of any elected office. Tact and skill and delicacy are required, along with a following of the rules, or at least most of them. (Republicans could probably get away with deflating the air pressure in the tax code, for example.)

Egalitarian statism had the bases loaded when Barack Obama took office and swung for the fences. When American voters made a leaping catch at the top of the wall in the 2010 and 2014 elections, Roosevelt, Johnson and Carter had already cleared the bases and touched home plate. Now they need to return to their original base, but not directly. They must touch every base again in reverse order. That's sort of how I see the way Republican and libertarian voters need to think for the next several decades. And if they manage to return safely to base it is up to the next Ronald Reagan (and all of his coaches and trainers in the TEA Party) to strike out Hillary. Or Warren. Or DiBlasio. Or whatever welfare statist redistributors the Dems send to the plate next.

Posted by: johngalt at May 14, 2015 2:48 PM

May 12, 2015

The Revolting Masses

Is what the ilk of BHO, and Hillary think, methinks, when they're not thinking of how pathetic we all are... except those who accept the greatness and inevitability of "them."

Happily, there are others more grounded, lucid and intelligent.

Case 1: The Revolt against the Masses, 2015, by Fred Siegel.
(subtitle: How Liberalism Has Undermined the Middle Class)

Case 2: The Revolt Against Masses and Other Essays, 2002 by Dr. Aaron Wildavsky

contains this juicy quote:

The revolutionaries of contemporary America do not seek to redistribute privilege from those who have it to those who do not. These radicals wish to arrange a transfer of power from those elites who now exercise it to another elite, namely, themselves, who do not.

Hat tip, Dr. Stephen Hayward, who had this great quote about Dr. Wildavsky
he had a knack for rendering with great clarity the essence of a problem that leftists aim to obscure with jargon.

(yes, PowerLine, which I've taken to reading on my kindle to keep it from jiggering my browsers).

But johngalt thinks:

The beauty of a two-party system is that even if it wins a majority, a party which promises to "redistribute privilege from those who have it to [you, dear voter]" can always blame their failure to do so on "obstruction" by the minority party. I say "beauty" only in the sense that a greedy, good for nothing, self-dealing statist might view it.

Meanwhile, dear voter keeps pissing up the same rope and wondering why it never stops raining.

Posted by: johngalt at May 13, 2015 11:30 AM

"Keep me from the real world"

Who says all the good artists are on the liberal-progressive side of the philosophical divide? Well, maybe these are too, but at least they aren't afraid to enter a place "where other people have a say."

Barack Obama's foreign policy strategy is suddenly coming into focus.

Back story here.

Quote of the Day

Penn Jillette watches the candidates' announcement videos so you don't have to:

Mike Huckabee: He has the best name. It's abbreviated "Huck" and that brings to mind one of my favorite books and it rhymes with my favorite word. He plays bass, he's pretty funny and he lost a lot of weight -- what's not to like? Everything else. Also not one word about ideas of government.

Not like his words for the others' are kind. Hat-tip: Matt Welch @ Reason

2016 Posted by John Kranz at 10:16 AM | What do you think? [0]

May 11, 2015


I've harped on illiberalism for some time now, and the irony that liberals still call themselves that at the same time as they endorse mandatory lifestyle choices from energy to toilets to running one's own business establishment. A respected liberal has now come out of the closet on the issue and criticized her own with How Liberals Ruined College:

Speech codes create a chilling environment where all it takes is one accusation, true or not, to ruin someone's academic career. The intent or reputation or integrity of the accused is of little import. If someone "perceives" you have said or acted in a racist way, then the bar for guilt has been met. If a person claims you caused them "harm" by saying something that offended them, case closed.

It is the Salem Witch Trials, 320-odd years later.

But who decides what's "offensive"? The illiberal left, of course.


Not just "degraded" or "tarnished" but "ruined."

This Orwellian climate of intimidation and fear chills free speech and thought. On college campuses it is particularly insidious. Higher education should provide an environment to test new ideas, debate theories, encounter challenging information, and figure out what one believes. Campuses should be places where students are able to make mistakes without fear of retribution. If there is no margin for error, it is impossible to receive a meaningful education.

May 10, 2015

Review Corner

Well, if they each used a computer to take [the SAT] a million times each day, and continued this every day for five billion years-- until the Sun expanded to a red giant and the Earth was charred to a cinder-- the chance of any of them ever getting a perfect score on just the math section would be about 0.0001 percent.

This means that the odds of acing the SAT by guessing are worse than the odds of every living ex-President and every member of the main cast of Firefly all being independently struck by lightning . . . on the same day.

Firstly a shout out to my Facebook friends of all stripes who get so abused in this forum. Lacking an exciting new book to read, I put the call out and got some superb suggestions. My niece the librarian suggested What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions. I took a peek and they had me at "From the creator of the wildly popular webcomic xkcd."

That would be Randall Munroe And -- like the comic strip -- he mixes science, snark, puerile humor and Firefly references. What's not to like for the median ThreeSourcer?

People ask unusual questions on his website and he answers them in this book. "What if you you started moving up at one foot per second, would you freeze or asphyxiate first?" "What if you tried to build a model of the Periodic chart out of the actual elements?" Things like that. I can't give you all the answers, but here's a taste:

The scholarly authorities on freezing to death seem to be, unsurprisingly, Canadians. The most widely used model for human survival in cold air was developed by Peter Tikuisis and John Frim for the Defence and Civil Institute of Environmental Medicine in Ontario.

You could stack the top two rows without much trouble.
The third row would burn you with fire.
The fourth row would kill you with toxic smoke.
The fifth row would do all that stuff PLUS give you a mild dose of radiation.
The sixth row would explode violently, destroying the building in a cloud of radioactive, poisonous fire and dust.
Do not build the seventh row.
There's no material safety data sheet for astatine. If there were, it would just be the word "NO" scrawled over and over in charred blood.

Munroe has the research and science chops to do a credible job across many disciplines. There were a couple of times I'd've liked to ask a question, but I never felt he was "winging it."

Duke Ellington famously said "music is the space between the notes." And much of the joy (sorry, but I must use the N-word here) to nerds are the small asides Roughly estimating volume, which is something of a sport around here, Munroe points out that that a cubic kilometer and a sphere one mile across are similar. Next time we do oil or K-Cup refuse, that could come in handy.

Many of those gems litter this marvelous book, and quite a few of the solutions are interesting. But the humor holds it together and makes it worthwhile:

But I've never seen the Icarus story as a lesson about the limitations of humans. I see it as a lesson about the limitations of wax as an adhesive. The cold of Titan is just an engineering problem. With the right refitting, and the right heat sources, a Cessna 172 could fly on Titan-- and so could we.
They say lightning never strikes in the same place twice. "They" are wrong. From an evolutionary perspective, it's a little surprising that this saying has survived; you'd think that people who believed it would have been gradually filtered out of the living population.

Major fun. Five stars.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 9:50 AM | What do you think? [0]

May 8, 2015

California Regulators: Falling Down on the Job of "managing private profit"

Can any ThreeSourcer believe that California regulators have been passing up opportunities to control a for-profit industry in California since around 1987? I was truly amazed to learn this. Perhaps the old codger who used to do it died before training his successor. But California environmentalists are on the case:

According to Adam Scow, California director of Food and Water Watch, the governor and state agencies could in theory disregard the legislature and act on the California constitution which bars "waste or unreasonable use" of the state's water supply.

"We need to start managing and protecting groundwater as a public resource," Scow said. "In a drought, bottling public water for private profit qualifies as wasteful and unreasonable."

Because... DROUGHT! "Endless drought" in fact.

Nestlé itself insists its water use is efficient and has minimal impact on the environment - something the activists reject out of hand.

"While California is facing record drought conditions, it is unconscionable that Nestlé would continue to bottle the state's precious water, export it and sell it for profit," says the petition, which is sponsored by the political activist organisation the Courage Campaign.

But surely not as unconscionable as drawing a Mohammad cartoon. Right?

Please people. A little perspective is in order. Bottled water is measured in ounces and gallons. Irrigation and municipal water is measured in cubic feet per second and acre feet!

Nestlé and its competitors point out that bottled water accounts for a tiny fraction of California's overall use, particularly when compared with the state's vast agricultural infrastructure. Almond farming alone sucks down 10% of the state's water, at a rate of roughly one gallon per almond.


One key question will be how much water Nestlé is taking to create what one industry group delightfully calls "the quintessential hydrating beverage". The company claims 700m gallons a year, or about what it takes to keep two golf courses green.


But jk thinks:

And my Facebook friends have posted (as Dave Berry would say, I'm not making this up) "Ban Almonds!"

One hates to see suffering, but the Hayekian in me welcomes this as a graphic illustration of Fatal Conceit -- let the pointy heads price a commodity instead of the market, and expect shortages or gluts.

Everybody's water price is subsidized in California. The created huge water subsidies for agriculture because Adam Smith, then they had to subsdies municipal usage because the discrepancy was alarming.

"Why didn't they just lower the..." Son, you've never faced an Ag lobby.

Searching for the great piece I read on this topic, I encountered this guy who started growing almonds because he saw that subsidized cotton in the valley wasn't a long term plan.

As for the gallon-per-almond metric?

Boy, that sounds wasteful. It's a figure designed to outrage, and it does the trick.

But looking at the societal value of producing food only by gallons of water used is silly, if not absurd. My fellow growers of other crops calculate that it takes about 168 gallons of water to produce a single watermelon. And 50 gallons for a cantaloupe. That head of broccoli that you feel good about serving to your child? Thirty-five gallons. A single ear of corn requires roughly 40 gallons.

If only there were some way to let all the users of a commodity find its most valuable use among competing demands. If only somebody could come up with such a scheme.

Posted by: jk at May 9, 2015 3:24 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Thus explaining why ag water is measured in acre feet instead of gallons. For example:

1 almond = .000003 acre feet of water
1 watermelon = .0005 acre feet

Everything else listed is between those two figures. Units matter. It's like saying a typical diet soda has just 4 Calories, when in scientific terms (thermal calories) it is actually a whopping 4,000 calories. (And a Carls Jr. 1/2 pound guacamole bacon thickburger is 1.21 million calories.)

Posted by: johngalt at May 11, 2015 12:26 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Reading the comment-linked article, CA farmers are paying $1000 per acre foot for federally supplied water. Since there are 325,853 gallons in an acre foot that is 0.3 cents per gallon. Talk about "producer subsidy!" The hipsters' have to pay 650 times that for their Ethos Water!

I'm not sure which is "worse" - the government giveaway to "Big H2O" or the rapacious profit-gouging by private corporation Starbucks!

Posted by: johngalt at May 11, 2015 12:43 PM

May 7, 2015

Trollin', Trollin', Trollin', Keep Those Doggies Trollin'...

One of the last bills to die an ignominious death on the last day of our State Legislature is a repeal of the Rain Barrel Ban; repeal would allow Centennial Staters to capture and store 110 Gallons of water from their roof.

DENVER -- Colorado's only-in-the-nation ban on backyard rain barrels is sticking around for another year.

The state Senate moved Tuesday to reject a bill to allow homeowners to use up to two 55-gallon rain barrels. The maneuver was a late-evening vote to delay the bill, meaning it won't make it to the governor's desk before lawmakers conclude work for the year.

A Facebook friend is displeased.

I put my contrarian's hat on, thanks to a talk with Brother jg's State Senator last month:


It was a purposeful appeal to authority, and the bad typing simply highlighted my passion. As Sheriff, Cooke led the charge against the bad gun bills. He is nobody's statist. This is, though, a "common sense" issue. I am definitely not making the sale in a crowd that is quite friendly to liberty.


Am I *gasp* wrong? Dozens of comments not shown are all against.

Colorado Posted by John Kranz at 3:16 PM | What do you think? [9]
But Terri thinks:

Isn't this the same Facebook crowd that thinks banning fracking (mineral rights) without just compensation is perfectly fair?

Not sure why you would expect anything different with water.

But I'll back you!

Posted by: Terri at May 8, 2015 9:51 AM
But jk thinks:

I should have been clearer, Terri. No, these are the good Facebook Friends. Maybe Zuckerberg will allow me to put green and red stars on them. I don't expect the red stars to get property rights.

But these folks are liberty lovers and most position this as us-against-government. I'm suggesting that government is actually protecting property rights and am disappointed that they cannot see (or that I cannot explain).

Blog Brother jg pointed me toward another thread, this one by former State Rep. Shawn Mitchell. [Those who do not follow him on Facebook should; he's a Townhall writer and politician -- he'll friend anybody.]

Mitchell is disappointed too, but it has drawn several others offering the property argument. Ari Armstrong did a superb summation -- I requested that he post it on the TOS blog so that I could share it more widely. Plus there are a few knowledgeable water folks. And our own farmer blog sibling is doing pretty well.

Posted by: jk at May 8, 2015 10:09 AM
But johngalt thinks:

One of the most unfortunate casualties of an oppressive, overbearing government, is the public trust - the rights-respecting things government continues to do (because the statists haven't completely ruined the government yet) are put under greater scrutiny, and done so from a prejudicial point of view.

Posted by: johngalt at May 8, 2015 11:21 AM
But AndyN thinks:

What's Big H2O's position on mulching? I mean, one of the primary reasons to spread mulch around plants is to trap moisture. Not only is my mulch preventing some of Big H2O's rainwater from seeping directly into the water table, but it's also robbing them of the revenue I owe them for water I should have to buy from them to water my landscaping more frequently.

Posted by: AndyN at May 8, 2015 2:20 PM
But johngalt thinks:

One fellow on the Shawn Mitchell thread proclaimed, "Water that falls on my roof is mine." That is a form of a property right too, is it not? That is the way it would be without government.

I told him I agreed with him at first, before I learned better.

Posted by: johngalt at May 8, 2015 5:02 PM
But Jk thinks:

The irony of this Facebook water war is that our HOA is spending plural millions of dollars to better return water to senior holders. We're ripping out plants, burying pipes and widening gutters and downspouts. Y'all can bring some barrels up here.

On a more serious note, I wonder who Big H2O is. The commenters are saying it is municipal water departments wanting your $$$, but I suspect agricultural interests were louder in killing rain barrel dreams.

Posted by: Jk at May 8, 2015 11:47 PM

Did Somebody Say Boom?

If Ms. Fiorina is not at least the VP Candidate, I may leave the party. Like Insty says:"I like her. She fights."

MRC finds her scrapping with Katie Couric, the archetypical doyenne of establishment media:

Couric complained about Fiorina's criticism of Clinton: "You've had some unkind words for Hillary Clinton. You said that she was not trustworthy and she hasn't accomplished very much. I think people might think, 'Well, she was the senator from New York and she was the Secretary of State.'"

Couric then took some jabs at Fiorina's tenure at HP.
FIORINA: Well, you see, Katie, in the world I come from, a title is just a title. I mean, you went through a whole bunch of things about me as CEO. You weren't impressed with my title. Why are we so impressed with political titles? Senator is a title. Secretary of State is a title. It's a completely legitimate question to say, "What has anyone accomplished with their title?" And the truth is, there are many in the political class who haven't accomplished a whole lot, despite their titles.

But johngalt thinks:

Mushroom boom!

VP Fiorina would be awesome. Awesome!

Posted by: johngalt at May 7, 2015 5:33 PM

Quote of the Day

All Hail

The Atlantic's Peter Beinart had a piece yesterday titled "Don't Underestimate Bernie Sanders," in which he argues that Sanders could be the next Jerry Brown, Pat Buchanan, Howard Dean or Ron Paul. (The analogies, respectively, are to 1992, 1996, 2004 and 2012.) In other words, he could be another flash-in-the-pan loser, as opposed to one with no flash (cf, for instance, Tom Harkin, Dick Lugar, Joe Lieberman or Rick Perry). -- James Taranto

But nanobrewer thinks:

I'd be most pleased if he was the next Ralph Nader (ref. 2000).

Posted by: nanobrewer at May 8, 2015 10:50 AM

May 6, 2015

Friends of Free Speech

I've had the odd bad word for FOX, but:

But johngalt thinks:

And I'm sure your FB friends have many more bad words than do you, but here's what impresses me most about Fox News and you should try to get your lefty friends to at least acknowledge: They don't have a company line on the issue. The more religious voices on FNC are anti-cartoon, while the libertarians like Gutfeld and Kelly are tenaciously pro-free speech. They report - you decide.

Or would your FB friends prefer that the corporate heads at CNN and MSNBC and NYT and NBC and CBS and WaPo and ... decide for them? Are they curious enough about all sides of every issue to actually listen to more than one side?

Posted by: johngalt at May 7, 2015 11:34 AM
But jk thinks:

I can get to about 2.89 cheers for FOXNews. What you say is true, plus I think they offer waaaay better lefties on their panels than CNN/xBC's lame tokens of the right. Kirsten Powers, Juan Williams, Sen. Evan Bayh, Ron Fournier are all articulate and thoughtful proponents of the center-left. Even Rep. Dennis Kucinich gets a shot. What, David Brooks and Joe Scarborough are other viewers' idea of a conservative?

ABC fired George Will and John Stossel. Geraldo and Bob Beckel still have regular gigs.

I thank all that is righteous for their existence -- nobody would know what a Benghazi was without them. But. O'Reilly, Hannity, the fixation on celebrity trials and missing white women... Wm F Buckley cleaned out the stables a little bit. Sometimes I'd like to see Ailes try it.

Posted by: jk at May 7, 2015 3:04 PM
But johngalt thinks:

2.89 cheers doesn't leave much room for differentiation with me, but I'm somewhere between your opinion and 3 full cheers.

I take O'Reilly with a large handful of Irish Catholic salt. His ratings are HUGE. The biggest in cable news. He speaks to the sensibilities of what I think old timers used to call "The Moral Majority." He is predictably populist. Okay, I can live with that. But mostly because there's now this Megyn Kelly woman who occasionally takes him on, toe to toe.

Hannity is much the same but I've seen him evolve toward a more libertarian outlook before my very eyes. If he can do it, so can his viewers.

When was the last celebrity trial or missing "moonju wali" story? I can't remember one in quite a while. Perhaps because the primary competition for viewers has declined? Although still finding a demand:

Sloane means, correctly, that daytime soaps are not just loved; they are unique. From seeming like the cheap option for so many years, daytime soaps are now the last defense against hours of continuous white noise and shrieking voices sitting around tables recycling views about the Kardashians, Real Housewives, and Justin Bieber. For that brave function alone, daytime soaps should not just be treasured—they should be fought for.
Posted by: johngalt at May 7, 2015 5:52 PM
But jk thinks:

You enjoy -- frequent -- corrections to my engineering arguments, I'm goingto be mathpedant and point out that there are as many real rational numbers between 2.89 and 3 as there are between 0 and 3 (though I would have to search for the proof).

I must admit to playing on my Facebook friends' field. I am overly generous with FOX criticism because I am already a Republican and a gun owner. If I like FOX, I become one of those FOX-viewin' gun-totin' Republicans. I lack the self-confidence.

2.895: they do let Ms. Kelly and John Stossel pound on their franchise property; that's good for at least .00500000000000000000000000.

Posted by: jk at May 7, 2015 6:05 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Alas, 'tis true - I have callouses on my knuckles.

Posted by: johngalt at May 7, 2015 8:26 PM

Rumor Mill

Start a rumor that Tom Brady emailed Secretary Clinton about deflate-gate. Suddenly, we'll have media interest in that disk drive....

2016 Posted by John Kranz at 6:48 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Good point. Excellent point in fact. After all, if "more than probably" is the bar...

Posted by: johngalt at May 7, 2015 8:58 AM

"Toto, I don't think we're in Denver anymore!"

Colorado Peak Politics - SHOCK: Qualified Newcomer Defeats Unqualified Political Crony for Denver Auditor

While Nevitt relied on fundraisers, establishment support, and the public backing of high-profile elected officials, O'Brien simply ran a bootstrapped campaign where he explained his qualifications and differences between he and Nevitt to any voter who would listen.

And it is was refreshing to see a well-qualified candidate defeat a well-connected but unqualified candidate.

Just when you thought the advance of world socialism and the self-serving crony government Leviathan is invincible, something like this comes along and ruins your whole dystopian future worldview. What's a tinfoil hat wearer to do?

But nanobrewer thinks:

Yes, THAT was a satisfying crunch.... and, no it is NOT appropriate for a sitting mayor to endorse an auditor....

Posted by: nanobrewer at May 6, 2015 11:08 PM

"I'm concerned about the America you would have us live in."

This requires no explanation or embellishment. Megyn is correct, without exception.

But jk thinks:

Snyder v. Phelps! Well played, Ms. Kelly!

First Amendment absolutism makes me proudest of my country. Snyder. Skokie. Larry Flynt. Bong Hits for Jesus. Flag burning. SCOTUS has been reliable (give them a Mulligan on McConnell v. FEC) in protecting speech from the "common sense" restrictions offered by Mister O'Reilly and Mister "we'll fight Jihad with Love."

I know I'm a broken record but I still don't hear the anarchist answer for this. The bill of rights (our last rights defended after Carolene) are really remarkable in their escape of democratic "common sense." You're simply not likely to get anything like that from private agency.

Posted by: jk at May 6, 2015 4:45 PM
But jk thinks:

And, All Hail Taranto:

Today, however, that post-9/11 cliché has real meaning. Some intellectuals are arguing for curtailments of civil liberties that would both fulfill terrorist objectives and damage one of our most cherished values, namely the freedom of speech.

Exhibit A is this Washington Post headline: "Event Organizer Offers No Apology After Thwarted Attack in Texas." The event is the "Texas cartoon contest attacked by two gunmen late Sunday," featuring images of Muhammad, the Muslim prophet; and the organizer is Pamela Geller, a truculent critic of Islam.

Posted by: jk at May 6, 2015 5:26 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I just heard Geller interviewed on the radio. She corrected this media characterization, stating she is a truculent critic of "jihad and murder in the name of Islam" not of Islam.

Posted by: johngalt at May 6, 2015 5:48 PM
But Terri thinks:
But johngalt thinks:

Me too, Terri, and thanks for linking it here. It goes right to the heart of the questions, "Why do you provoke them" and "Why do you insult an entire religion?"

If a subset of members of a group that adheres to a specific religion claims a moral right to murder people for violating any one of several tenets of that religion, it is incumbent on everyone else to speak and act in contravention to that claim. Some are brave enough to do that and some are not. (And some oppose doing so for other self-serving reasons.)

Furthermore, the amount of bravery required varies with the particular religion in question. If the folks of a specific religion are intent only on using law to impose their beliefs, rather than the most barbaric forms of highly publicized murder, it is much safer to mock elements of that faith. c.f. "Piss Christ" and the like.

Posted by: johngalt at May 7, 2015 11:49 AM
But nanobrewer thinks:

I've long been madly in love with Ms. Kelly, now I must accept that I'm simply not worthy.... ahkthpth, who wanted to move to NYC anyway?

Posted by: nanobrewer at May 8, 2015 10:51 AM


Interesting, ThreeSources-ish argument in today's Morning Jolt [subscribe]. Jim Geraghty asks "How Much Can a President Shape America's Culture?"

Stephen Miller contended that Barack Obama is indeed the most powerful figure in American culture right now, and that if you don't like where our culture is going, it is impossible to change direction without a dramatically different figure in the Oval Office.

I wouldn't dispute that presidencies influence culture . . . but are they decisive? In other words, is Obama the catalyst, or just a symptom?

I tipped my hat in the headline. As Dr. Ben Carson and ThreeSources-fave Gov. Mike Huckabee (Bass - AR) enter the 2016 GOP field, I think the party faces the George W Bush question: do we want government to butt out or to promote the things we like.

It's easy to give a reflexive libertarian answer -- especially after Gov. Huckabee's name is invoked -- but in the wake of the cultural devastation of two terms of President Obama, I can see the appeal.

But johngalt thinks:

Yeahbut - you are from the "other America" compared to Barack Obama.

Further, I expect the current POTUS to continue to influence American culture even after he is overthrown. Err, term limited out of office. You think President Carter was a meddling nincompoop? Just you wait.

Posted by: johngalt at May 6, 2015 12:19 PM
But jk thinks:

Ah yes, the Obama post-presidency: Al Sharpton without the genial self-deprecation. One can hardly wait.

Where I was headed, though, is similar to the Senate filibuster argument: do you use Harry Reid's supra-constitutional tactics to undue what he did? I recall most of us agreeing "no;" we have a good crowd around here.

Here's one:

The 2014 results show that 27 percent of eighth-grade students performed at or above Proficient in geography, 23 percent scored at or above Proficient in civics and only 18 percent did so in U.S. history. Among those students, a small percentage -3 percent or less - scored at the Advanced level in any subject.

I wonder how you're going to keep Dr. Franklin's Republic if only 18% of the 2020 voters understand how the Constitution works. Do I want my next President to offer a big initiative?

Posted by: jk at May 6, 2015 1:11 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I honestly don't remember where I came down on the "nuclear option works for Republicans too" debate but lately I would say I'm in the "hell yeah" camp. Every available tool to keep the Republic.

Posted by: johngalt at May 6, 2015 4:02 PM

May 5, 2015

Loan with a lease option of as much as 99 years, to a good 3src home.


Okay, I'll surely want Sowell back, and perhaps Buckley!

Posted by nanobrewer at 11:50 PM | What do you think? [2]
But jk thinks:

Huh. I'd try my luck with Krauthammer and Ed Meese.

I had to look up the Instanity book -- izzit good?

Likewise, I'd have to ask your opinion on O'Reilly's Lincoln. The guy (O'Reilly, that is) drives me batty, it would be like reading Hitler's biography of Beethoven. If you tell me it's worth it, I'll swallow my pride, cover it with brown paper and give it a try.

Posted by: jk at May 6, 2015 10:04 AM
But nanobrewer thinks:

Dr. K I can heartily recommend. High praise as I've tried and not liked several "collection" titles comprised of an author's published columns. For several reasons, Charles delivers: he's reedited some of the columns (correcting problems created by newspapers' enforced brevity), and inserted some very interesting essays. Also, seeing all his opinions on sports (with a healthy sprinkling of philosophy and a touch of politics) gathered in one place is a pleasure. Many of his writings rise to the rating of "pleasure!" I'd never before gotten a feel for his marvelous sense of humor before, as I've not seen a lengthy interview... bring him on "Uncommon Knowledge!"

Meese looked good, but I haven't read it yet (I really don't have too much time to read: _Unbroken_ sits unread since Xmas, and what time I have lately is in finishing book IV of Churchill's WW2 anthology), I picked thru "Instanity" and it frankly looks like too much a regurg of other well done critiques of the wacky political system that handed us BHO.

Yes, O'Reilly drives me nutso about 90% of the time he's inflicted upon me, but figured this is the one of his that I'd consider reading. I have not yet read it yet, but I'll hand over Krauthammer and Meese. I'll post you offline.

Posted by: nanobrewer at May 8, 2015 11:07 AM

Swallow Your Coffee

This is so frickken' hilarious, I fear you'll violate your keyboard's electrical integrity.


I think that's the laziest shortcut to ad hominem humor of all time.

UPDATE: I perhaps should have not responded...


2016 Posted by John Kranz at 6:07 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:


Posted by: johngalt at May 5, 2015 7:46 PM

No, Not From 'The Onion'

Do not read the article linked below. It comes as close as I will ever find to something that is guaranteed to make your head explode. I read it, but I have trained myself how to remain completely objective. I am able to control the violent outbursts that such articles typically provoke from free men. I will select a few items to excerpt but DON'T CLICK THROUGH. You have been warned.

Although it’s controversial, it seems that Swift and Brighouse are philosophically inching their way to a novel accommodation for a weathered institution ever more in need of a rationale for existing. The bathwater might be going out, but they’re keen to hold on to the baby.

The "weathered institution" with, apparently, no further purpose in human life? The family.

'Politicians love to talk about family values, but meanwhile the family is in flux and so we wanted to go back to philosophical basics to work out what are families for and what's so great about them and then we can start to figure out whether it matters whether you have two parents or three or one, or whether they're heterosexual etcetera.'

They don't want to eliminate families, you see, they merely want to plan them for us. It's for the social good. When left to their own devices, too many parents have this distasteful and anti-social tendency to aid their children. And since parents are unequal, children will develop unequally.

'What we realised we needed was a way of thinking about what it was we wanted to allow parents to do for their children, and what it was that we didn't need to allow parents to do for their children, if allowing those activities would create unfairnesses for other people's children'.

"We" certainly can't continue to "allow" that! At least not according to the British philosophers Adam Swift and Harry Brighouse who are quoted here. No word yet whether the rest of the animal kingdom will follow suit and intentionally retard its own evolutionary progress.

But AndyN thinks:

I'm taking your advice and not reading the rest of the article. Without reading it, I can only assume that they're recommending bans on birth control and abortion, since parents who have fewer children will be able to devote more resources to each of them.

Posted by: AndyN at May 5, 2015 4:18 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Air tight logic AndyN, but ignoring reason is one of the things that makes them ant farmers [My brand new name for egalitarian socialists. Has a nice ring, I think.]

To them, the only thing better than all children being equal (even if it is equally bad) would be if there were no children at all. "Stop breeding!"

Posted by: johngalt at May 6, 2015 12:24 PM

Quote of the Day

Jim Geraghty looks at the events in Garland, TX and wonders whether "we have invented jihadist flypaper?"

Think about it. These guys had to know the event would be guarded. These guys had to know that the event is going on in Texas, meaning that a lot of attendees and passers-by would be armed. Heck it's Texas. Everybody's armed. The former governor, Rick Perry, shot a coyote while jogging. -- Jim Geraghty

May 4, 2015

Going from annoyance to extreme dislike

Of this preening, cronyist asshole:

UPDATE: I lashed out. I wish I had not posted a personal attack. If what he presents is true. it sounds great. Color me skeptical of his claims, and all too prepared for a Gazillion dollar subsidy required to launch his plan. Most worrisome is the closing line "We Can. We Must. We Will." I'd like to ask something about "should."

But johngalt thinks:

I want this to work. Really I do. Forget about the #*&#ing CO2 for a moment - the idea of distributed standalone generation and storage is the holy grail for survivalist TEA Party redneck knuckledraggers more than anyone. And it's so, so... "not ugly." But. [I really don't know how this is going to turn out but let's figure it out together.]

The 10kW power wall is $3500. He doesn't put a price tag on the 100kW power pack but I'm gonna go out on a limb and say it costs $35,000.

To power Boulder takes a "gigawatt hour class pack." 1,000,000,000 / 100,000 = 10,000 power packs. At $35,000 each that's a cool $350 million.

According to the Colorado Energy Fact Sheet, annual electricity use per capita is 10,200 kWh (10,200,000 Wh) and another source lists the Boulder service area population at 111,000. Using a calculator that's 1.1322 TWh (terawatt hours).

At 9.15 cents per kWh that's, with a calculator, $103.6 million. So the utility savings will pay for the gigabattery in about 3 and a third years. That's not as bad as I expected! But it doesn't include the cost of solar panels.

Going from the last rule of thumb I can remember, $1 per watt, and generously figuring 10 charging hours per day, the panels will cost 1.132 TWh/10h= 113.2 GW x $1/W =113.2 gigabucks.

If that's correct, and I admit to working fast and loose here just after midnight, the total cost of 113.55 billion dollars will be recouped in utility savings in 1096 years.

Unless they can bring down the cost of the panels (or unless I screwed up somewhere, and my glass of Tincup American Whiskey is nearly quaffed) it looks like only Elon Musk could afford this.

Posted by: johngalt at May 5, 2015 2:37 AM
But jk thinks:

Thanks for your work. What I don't get on either side is time. The enthusiast could claim that you are using annual usage and -- as the sun famously shines 300 days in Colorado -- your figures could be divided by 300. Go Elon!

By the same token, how many days did he have to charge the wall packs for his little soiree? Was that a hotel -- the whole event powered by batteries charged by roof panels. That was impressive but hard to believe (it looked like they was using a bit of juice).

I share your distaste at skepticism. I'm an unabashed advocate for modernity and many things I champion are more far-fetched than solar power. I go back to "we must." He closes his speech with, and I have heard it before in an interview: "Can we get off fossil fuels?" he is asked. "We Must."

That's a religious argument, not economic or physics-based "Can we convert the whole world to Jihad?" "We Must!"

I'll close with a little Bastiat. It is tempting to say it is worthwhile to go his direction, but what is the opportunity cost? What better use of that capital? One 10kW for le condo d'Amour that does not seem so bad and I am protected from outage. But I could have bought a $600 generator to accomplish the same goal -- and had $2900 left over for guitars. If we spend petabucks over a cheaper alternative, we will forgo wealth elsewhere.

Posted by: jk at May 5, 2015 8:05 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Good catch mon frer, I left out the term for days per year. So 113.2 GW / 365 = 310 MW of charging capacity... $310 million.

$310 million for panels and $350 million for batteries is $660 million, which breaks even in 6.4 years - or about the lifespan of the laptop batteries these things are made with. So it might be on par with grid power (inflated grid power I should add here - it should cost less than 5 cents per kWh. And would, without government meddling.) But it has better optics and we all know what counts most these days.

Posted by: johngalt at May 5, 2015 12:08 PM
But jk thinks:

Before you sign that check, is 1/365 too kind? We have a rare-but-not-unprecedented cloudy, overcast week ahead. We're going to need a few days' batteries or double the panels are we not? It looks like a 50% at best day out there today.

Glenn Reynolds fretted that, while we were wasting stimulus money anyhow, we should have got something out of it. He suggested a "Smart Grid" that would allow distributed generation, enable selling back surplus power, and price by demand hour.

Had they done that instead of shoveling it at unions to dig holes and fill them up, Mister Musk's attractive batteries would have an immediate market and value proposition.

Posted by: jk at May 5, 2015 1:05 PM
But johngalt thinks:

You caught me. Putting my finger on the scale for renewables again! ;)

My math didn't account for Colorado's 55 cloudy days per year. And 10 hours of peak generation per day is also too kind. When one factors in the loss from low-angle sunlight and off-axis incidence on the panels it would easily be reduced by half. So double the cost of the panels - the breakeven time is now 9-1/3 years for this 0.97 billion dollar "investment."

Are you happy now, you hater?

That does equate to an awful lot of guitars though, I must admit.

(And you forgot to include "turn off folks lights and air conditioning for them when they aren't looking" as one of your SmartGrid TM features. Hell, that's the most important one! Our betters call this "load shedding." I think it was one an element of society as depicted in the classic flick "Soylent Green." Or was it "Logan's Run?")

Posted by: johngalt at May 5, 2015 2:30 PM
But jk thinks:

I saw both on a triple feature; the third flick was "Silent Running." Now there's a piece of ThreeSources cinema... My massive crush on Jenny Agutter affected me more than the eco-agitprop.

Discounted non-peak power does not require infrastructure changes. The user could change the meter. I wonder if that sells enough of Mister Musk's widgets to keep him in ever younger film stars. It would add a lot of resilience to the grid and reduce peak capacity requirements.

Posted by: jk at May 5, 2015 6:39 PM

Ridin' the Blinds

Who doesn't love a train song? Here's Robert Johnson's (heavily borrowed from Son House's) Walking Blues:

Well, leave this mornin' if I have to, whoa, ride the blinds
I feel mistreated, and I don't mind dyin'
Leavin' this mornin', if I have to ride the blind
Babe, I've been mistreated, baby and I don't mind dyin'

When I hear the phrase "don't mind dyin'" I always think of Joe Biden's being our nation's Vice President. But he is also associated with Amtrak for his regular ridership.

Kevin Williamson at NR gets on a train which is expecting the Scrappy Veep from Scranton PA. Hilarity ensues:

A lumbering agent of vice-presidential security seated himself next to me and fiddled with his BlackBerry, because apparently they still make BlackBerrys and the Secret Service uses them, God help us all.

And then came Herr Gropenführer himself. Biden's biography alleges that he is six feet tall, and maybe he is, but he scurried into the train in a thoroughly rodential fashion, looking tiny and terrified, like a very old man who has wandered out of a dementia ward.

You'll kinda wanna read the whole thing.

VP Biden Posted by John Kranz at 4:43 PM | What do you think? [0]

Bill Whittle on Progressivism

Bill Whittle can be too heavy-handed. But I enjoyed a bit of digital mass today:

Too partisan? Sue me.

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 3:23 PM | What do you think? [0]

Quote of the Day

Heartening too has been the press reaction to Chipotle. Mother Jones pointed out that "GMOs are totally safe," while pronounced the company's position "some anti-Science pandering bull-expletive." An L.A. Times op-ed by two scientists stated, "More than two decades of research indicate that GMOs are not only safe for humans and the environment, but also contribute to global sustainability and poverty alleviation."

If anyone of note congratulated Chipotle for its stance, we haven't heard it--and that’s a revelation in itself. Chipotle is not really on a crusade for healthier eating but trying to sell more burritos. Expect the company to shut up for a while. -- Holman Jenkins

May 3, 2015

Review Corner

However, the life of hunters and gatherers faced a fundamental and ultimately unanswerable challenge. Hunter-gatherer societies led essentially parasitic lives. That is, they did not add anything to the nature-given supply of goods. They only depleted the supply of goods. They did not produce (apart from a few tools) but only consumed. They did not grow and breed but had to wait for nature to regenerate and replenish. At best, what they accomplished was that they did not overhunt or overgather so that the natural regeneration process was not disturbed or even brought to an entire standstill. In any case, what this form of parasitism obviously involved, then, was the inescapable problem of population growth.
I have a Hans Hermann-Hoppe T-Shirt. Very cool. Silhouetted top-hat guy with the phrase "Privatize Everything" in all caps. That's the best bumper-sticker version of anarchy I can imagine. And my respect for Hoppe is nearly boundless; he is an original thinker and clear writer.

His A Short History of Man: Progress and Decline is a good book. The resource-constrained will appreciate its being available on Kindle for $3.99 and that you can read it in one sitting. Beyond that, it has some interesting things to say.

In the first part, Hoppe takes Deirdre McCloskey's "The Fact" straight on. What allowed a species -- after hundreds of thousands of years -- to move from a purely animal existence to mastery of its environment. I do love the term parasitic -- what a divine dysphemism for the crunchy-granola primitivism my Boulder friends think they want.

I collect suggestions on what enabled that and Hoppe comes through. As the species was pushed into less hospitable climes, survival required understanding patterns and seasons. Evolution kicked in, and at last homo sapiens smart enough to build and staff a DMV hit the planet.

In the northernmost regions, with long and deadly winters, provisions of food, clothing, shelter, and heating had to be made that would last through most of a year or beyond. Planning had to be in terms of years, instead of days or months. As well, in pursuit of seasonally and widely migrating animals, extensive territories had to be traversed, requiring exceptional skills of orientation and navigation. Only groups intelligent enough on average to generate exceptional leaders who possessed such superior intellectual skills and abilities were rewarded with success-- survival and procreation.
A certain threshold of average and exceptional intelligence had to be reached first for this to become possible, and it took time (until about 1800) to "breed" such a level of intelligence.

Interesting. I wonder that earlier false-start enlightenments in Italy and China contradict this. Evolution is messy business, perhaps not.

The next step is more difficult for me. Escaping Malthusian limits enables a State. For the Rothbardian Hoppe, that is not welcome news.

All this changes with the Industrial Revolution. For if productivity gains continuously outstrip population increases and allow for a steady increase in per capita incomes, then an exploitative institution such as the State can continuously grow without lowering per capita income and reducing the population number. The State then becomes a permanent drag on the economy and per capita incomes.

Yes, the present world is richer than people were in the Middle Ages and the following monarchical age. But that does not show that it is richer because of this development. As a matter of fact, as I will demonstrate indirectly in the following, the increase in social wealth and general standards of living that mankind has experienced during this time occurred in spite of this development, and the increase of wealth and living standards would have been far greater if the development in question had not taken place.

Three-fourths through, and I am still essentially bought in. Evolutionary intelligence underpinning the Enlightenment and Industrial Revolution seems possible; certainly bad governments since have impeded development. But then, as all anarchists must, Hoppe takes the leap into utopianism -- starting with a fact I suggest to be demonstrably false:
Moreover, a new level and quality of violence was introduced into society. To be sure, violence had characterized the relationship between men from the beginning of history. But violence, aggression, is costly, and until the development of the institution of a State, an aggressor had to bear the full cost associated with aggression himself. Now, however, with a state-king in place, the costs of aggression could be externalized onto third parties (tax-payers and draftees) and accordingly aggression, or more specifically imperialism, i.e., attempts of aggressively, through war and conquest, enlarging one's territory and one's subject population, increased correspondingly.

Thucydides much?

I had to swallow hard at Steven Pinker's assertion [Review Corner] of the opposite: all this non-violence we enjoy is a gift of Leviathan. Where I wanted to push back, Pinker made substantive cases backed up with data. In the end, I remain a "minarchist" (Go Nozick!) and, as I question Hoppe on the Peloponnese, I'll ask Pinker to explain Communism.

No. Not sold on anarchy. But it's a very good book and at four stars for $3.99 represents an exceptional value.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 9:14 AM | What do you think? [0]

May 2, 2015

#PoorLivesMatter... MORE

After praising the prosperitarian actions of Baltimore street gangs "uniting for peace" I was enlightened to the whole story by none less than the New York Times:

Then he described how he and some Bloods had stood in front of black-owned stores to protect them from looting or vandalism. He said they had made sure no black children, or reporters, were hit by rioters. They pointed them toward Chinese- and Arab-owned stores.

So it isn't peace qua peace they were after, it was an end to black on black violence. That's fine of course, even laudable, but not when it is replaced with violence against others.

This got me thinking about the #BlackLivesMatter meme. It is ambiguous, and I think intentionally so, as to whether black lives matter too or black lives matter more. According to, it seems to be the latter.

The call for Black lives to matter is a rallying cry for ALL Black lives striving for liberation.

Where have we heard of black liberation? From Reverend Jeremiah Wright, from James Cone, the founder of Black Liberation Theology, and from Cornell West, who integrated it with Marxism in his 1979 essay, "Black Theology and Marxist Thought."

In his book Prophesy Deliverance, West believes that by working together, Marxists and black theologians can spearhead much-needed social change for those who are victims of oppression. He appreciates Marxism for its "notions of class struggle, social contradictions, historical specificity, and dialectical developments in history" that explain the role of power and wealth in bourgeois capitalist societies. A common perspective among Marxist thinkers is that bourgeois capitalism creates and perpetuates ruling-class domination -- which, for black theologians in America, means the domination and victimization of blacks by whites. America has been over run by "White racism within mainstream establishment churches and religious agencies," writes West.

The actions and policies of President Obama that appear to harm whites, and rich whites in particular, are suddenly much more understandable. But to what end? Truly helping black people? Genuinely leading them to a lasting prosperity? Hardly.

Black Liberation Theology, originally intended to help the black community, may have actually hurt many blacks by promoting racial tension, victimology, and Marxism which ultimately leads to more oppression. As the failed "War on Poverty" has exposed, the best way to keep the blacks perpetually enslaved to government as "daddy" is to preach victimology, Marxism, and to seduce blacks into thinking that upward mobility is someone else's responsibility in a free society.

In the interest of thoroughness it must also be mentioned that the equally vocal demands of the "LBGT Movement" are a part of the exact same drive for "much needed social change." But it isn't the rights of blacks or gays that is the end goal - it is an egalitarian socialist society where there are no rich people, unless they are either non-white or in positions of government power, or both.

So whenever you see #BlackLivesMatter you should read #FromEachAccordingToHisAbility-ToEachAccordingToHisNeed.

And if you truly want to help advance the interests of black people and gay people, keep reminding them that they have individual rights despite government, not from or because of government.

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