October 30, 2015

union money ... in Lafayette?!?

I read an article about the Lafayette city elections from an Erie resident Kerry Bensman, who claimed to have served on city councils for over a decade. It noted how last year, the city council voted down the unionization of our fire department, 6-1. Now the big four (including the mayor) or so the letter claims are receiving union money for their reelection.

I'm a bit stung by union money (typ. out of state, one assumes) flooding local elections, especially keen as the JeffCo school board recall vote is clearly an attempt (Complete Colorado has been covering that quite well) at a power grab away from local families by national unions.

I've dug around a bit and not found any supporting information; anybody here hear anything... Bueller?

Government Posted by nanobrewer at 10:24 PM | What do you think? [5]
But nanobrewer thinks:

Heh; it took a while, but I found all the union-endorsed school boarders (first time I think I've ever done that!). Crikey, but nearly all the Lafayette CC members are Dems... I though I'd moved far enough east!

Posted by: nanobrewer at October 31, 2015 12:54 AM
But jk thinks:

Well. I'm not certain Brother JG is "far enough East" or how long such a concept will hold.

Democrat -- hell! They are all certifiable card carrying red Communists! My final election before moving out of your fair town, I decided it was my civic duty to meet each candidate (al politics being local, as Tip O'Neill would say).

With my reputation for overstatement, I do not know how to establish a good baseline, but there was not one running in 2008 who did not want to shut down Public Road to make a "Pearl Street East," bring in diversity consultants -- I thought it was a clever "candid camera" jape and that my blog brothers would appear from behind a screen and we'd all share a great laugh.

No. But they're filling Erie now -- our days are numbered.

Posted by: jk at October 31, 2015 1:48 PM
But johngalt thinks:

It's not that bad in Erie. I know one of the current trustees.

And I've a county commissioner living between me and the Boulder county border. I feel I'm a safe distance behind County Lines.

Posted by: johngalt at November 2, 2015 3:20 PM
But jk thinks:

I thought I was safe in Lafayette in 2000. I did GOTV, and there were a bucket-full of "red" precincts in "East County." They're a different shade of red in 2015...

Hey, I should do a proper post, but di'j'y'all see this?

Colorado rurality an urban legend
Eight in 10 Colorado jobs are located in a band of just nine counties stretching from El Paso to Larimer

Posted by: jk at November 2, 2015 4:12 PM
But johngalt thinks:

It's not as though rural America can't develop economically without the government "aid" of our city mouse brethren.

One can make a strong case that we'd develop even more if we had less of that "help."

Posted by: johngalt at November 3, 2015 12:53 PM

Jihad is so much fun it kills me!

German rapper "Deso (Devil's Son) Dogg" Cuspert turns to Islam, joins ISIL, dies in U.S. airstrike against men who "want your [German] blood" in Raqqa, Syria.

The evolution of "Deso Dogg," the hip-hop star with a chip on his shoulder, into "Abu Talha Al-Almani," a militant with blood on his hands and an airstrike's terrorist target is less unlikely than it sounds. Like so many of Islamic State's western recruits, Cuspert was simultaneously disaffected and indignant, the survivor of a troubled upbringing and a tumultuous adulthood who saw something in jihad -- faith, fulfillment, the promise of redemption -- he lacked at home.

Perhaps it had something to do with some structural inconsistency in his upbringing.

October 29, 2015

Quote of the Day

The night went better for the professional politicians than for the "outsiders." Carly Fiorina did her now-familiar riff that she’d be the best opponent for Hillary Clinton, but her lack of specificity is becoming notable--and a liability. Donald Trump seemed more subdued but also far too general. We love Larry Kudlow as much as anyone, but Mr. Trump will need better arguments for his tax cut than that appeal to CNBC authority. Mr. Trump keeps giving the impression that he's not doing much homework, though we were glad to see he is walking back his previous hostility to legal immigration. -- WSJ Ed Page
But johngalt thinks:

They are professionals, after all. They didn't get where they are now without an ability to adapt.

The ultimate effect of the front-running "outsider" candidates may well be to improve the performance and outcome for one or more of the pros. But adaptation has its limits. It can't turn a leopard into a lion, or a cronyist tool into a statesman.

Posted by: johngalt at October 29, 2015 3:16 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

Well said, JG. I do like Trump's willingness to be brutally "frank" with the MSM, and little else about him. Here's hoping this hutpah keeps catching on (candidates were UnTrumply focused, polished and professional with their pushback, from what I could see). I give high marks for Cruz and Fiorina for playing their few cards shrewdly, and keeping their good side turned toward the limelight (Cruz apparently is quite abrasive in person, and we've noted many of his high-profile actions as suspiciously self-serving).

A question for all that came up last night with a friend: are Kudlow's financial predictions any good? I can't recall many that were, and have lots of proof of bad ones...

Posted by: nanobrewer at October 29, 2015 3:28 PM

And now for a bit of fun

First, a QOTD from an unlikely source, who said of HRC

But Libya was the country where she was the midwife to chaos
I would add a small qualification that "Libya" is not necessary. An old WSJ article I can't find anymore referred to them as the "Clinton whirlwind" which sucks up oxygen and money and spits out broken people... published perhaps right after Chris Stevens' untimely death.

This article from Fox very well highlights and summarizes the WHY? question about Libya (she, BHO and some congressfolks broke the law with U.S. arms in violation of the embargo to arm rebels whom she hoped would run the new government). Ah-hah, THAT's what the consulate, ambassador's mission & CIA annex were doing in Benghazi... That is the truth Gowdy needs to pursue, even if it embarrasses some GOPers.

Now for the fun. HILLARITY is fun!! We know, because she says so.

Perhaps it would be helpful for me to provide an example of a fun thing I do. I take part in levity. I enjoy jokes, which are fun. When the occasion presents itself, I have been known to make jokes of my own, thereby creating fun for those around me.

The gist of this post is not pure levity, since the topic so dire, but I had to laugh out loud at Dowd's still sharp snark-sense (poor grammar actually helps!) cutting with an Occam swipe... Midwife to Chaos.... if only she hated HRC more than she hates Republicans... Hat tip to Judge Napolitano's very strong Fox News column.

But johngalt thinks:

Finally, at long last, I learn the explanation for Hillary Clinton's role in the public sphere. She's an entertainer!

Posted by: johngalt at October 29, 2015 1:17 PM



Till There Was You

Meredith Wilson ©1957

Live at the Coffeehouse dot Com

But johngalt thinks:

The Music Man! 76 Trombones, et. al.

Thank you for continuing my musical (re)education.

This is a very nice cover, by the way. I like it more than any of the professional versions I listened to.

Posted by: johngalt at November 4, 2015 5:06 PM
But jk thinks:

Thanks for the kind words. Music Man is among America's greatest contributions to art.

Posted by: jk at November 4, 2015 6:46 PM

October 27, 2015

Budget deal? Not a Sesh moment [Updated]

He steps up again to attack yet-another backroom deal between Reid, McConnel, Boehner and .. well, who effing cares?

Once again, a massive deal, crafted in secret, unveiled at the 11th hour, is being rushed through Congress under threat of panic. Once again, we have waited until an artificial deadline to force through that which our voters oppose.
Just what Mulvaney claims the HFC has been railing against for years...
This deal shatters [sequester] commitment by spending $80 billion more than we promised over the next 2 years. The deal also uses a common gimmick where alleged savings in an entitlement program are used to boost unrelated spending in the federal bureaucracy.

[Update: comments are rampant - what I'm trying to ferret out is the widely published "only $80B increase" versus what Bret Stephens noted as "already expected increase of $200B" for 2016. Expected in which scenario? With the sequester's restrictions in place (aka, no deal), were these increases still 'expected' or is that the ugly-sauce that needs to be hidden, and if so, why didn't Sessions do so succinctly? By all the gods ever declared or suspected of being sacred, CLEAR THE SMOKE AND BREAK THE MIRRORS ]

Many quotes and more details from Politico
Majority Whip John Cornyn (squish, TX) "I don’t think you’ll hear anybody popping any champagne corks"

Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.): "We're really tired of the top-down, micromanagement where you have just a few people, or in this case just the speaker and his team, determining the outcome"

Tim Scott (rising star, SC) "It’s just hard to justify that we’re not figuring out how to clamp down on spending"
Paul Ryan (earning new stripes - WI) "I think this process stinks."

Oh, I'm sorry; I forgot to include the good news, that increased funding will be paid for by selling oil from the SPR (while oil is near $40; brilliant! I'll bet we refill when it hits $100), John McCain "can work with it" and the increased spending will be offset by spending reductions in ... wait for it... 2025!

A PowerLine article has more, including the nearly unnecessary closing quote from Sessions:

Based on what I know now, it appears the president got whatever he wanted.

But johngalt thinks:

"...with fewer entitlement reforms..."

What entitlement reform is in the current budget deal? My impression is that there aren't any. Is that erroneous?

Posted by: johngalt at October 28, 2015 7:17 PM
But Jk thinks:

"But Republicans did secure modest entitlement reforms. The deal repeals an ObamaCare mandate for businesses to automatically enroll workers in health benefits, regardless of the cost. It also equalizes the Medicare payment rates for hospital and outpatient care to mitigate losses from providers that game the formula to get paid more for the same services.

"Most important, Social Security will get its first upgrade since the 1980s to fix disability insurance. A slack economy and policy expansions under George W. Bush and Mr. Obama have transformed disability from a safety net into a middle-age retirement program and the rolls have exploded. Benefits were scheduled to fall by 20% next year because the program’s “trust fund” is nearly bankrupt."

Posted by: Jk at October 28, 2015 10:25 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

Can't read the WSJ editorial yet... I do see this part, which bears the mark of realism... distressing realism perhaps, but powerfully aware of the current environment:

perhaps the only thing worse than passing it would be not passing it
which is a problem with today's GOP, who could not find their Gingrich-foil to the Obamanation.

The most distressing thing is runaway spending and the bureaucracy it's creating, IMO.

What I'd like feedback on is the Stephens article:

... federal spending in 2016 was already expected to climb by more than $200 billion... the budget deal to end the caps spending rises by an extra $80 billion over two years plus another $35 billion for the military. So now we are going to see a $300 billion hike in spending in 2016 which is close to an 8 percent spending orgy

What is the deal with federal "budget"? I thought the sequester had stopped all this... and the current deal only allowed $80B (over two years)... what's with the $200B?? I guess even the sequester (BHO's idea, after all) only temporarily suspended all the rampant spending that Reid had pushed through (HOW exactly? I heard the pundits say he never actually passed a budget).

If, as I expect, that even the smart folks in reach of this blog can't explain in a short paragraph, then I declare that, like immigration, this system appears broken (unless you're on K-street)....

Posted by: nanobrewer at October 29, 2015 11:18 AM
But jk thinks:

One paragraph?


Examining the grisly logic underpinning the sequester is a start: Republicans will be so intent on more military spending, they will trade in their opposition to Democrats' social spending. Some smart guys around here might make a good case for enumerated powers and proper role of government. But I b'lieve that's called logrolling, and I believe it dooms specnding cuts in representative democracy without some structural limits (say Colorado's TABOR or he Tenth Amendment...)

Posted by: jk at October 29, 2015 11:48 AM
But johngalt thinks:

What is this "fix" for SSDI? Is it real, or is it another Washington gimmick?

Benefits were scheduled to fall by 20% next year because the program's "trust fund" is nearly bankrupt.

What? So the budget deal will prevent that "austerity" windfall... how, exactly? According to Investor's Business Daily, the capitalist version (as opposed to the corporatist version) of the Wall St. Journal, with smoke and mirrors:

Pension "smoothing" — a Bernie Madoff-type accounting fraud that lets companies delay pension contributions, reducing their tax write-offs and raising their tax payments. Revenues go up in the short term, but fall in the long term because the pension payments eventually have to be made.
Posted by: johngalt at October 29, 2015 11:56 AM
But nanobrewer thinks:

Again, I write poorly while urging others to be concise... physician, heal thyself...
In one paragraph explain how the US Gov't budget is _supposed_ to be done; is it a Congressional act? An appropriation? A Bill? All three?

Heck, I'll put that into my list of columns for when I can get paid by the word.... should be a rainmaker ... explain ("no, eez too much, lemme summarize...") the current imbroglio caused by Harry Reid's cynical manipulation of a tottering colossus that's lead to most of the last decade being run on Continuing Resolutions, which appears to have been gleefully embraced (occasionally leg-humped) by McConnel & Boehner.

more military spending, they will trade in their opposition to Democrats' social spending
Reagan did so; convinced I still be it was the right thing for that time....

Yes, to answer your question: ALL of the "revenue/savings" ideas - save for pumping oil out of the Strat Reserve (while prices are rock-bottom!) - are made of things that would get any citizen thrown in jail.

Posted by: nanobrewer at October 29, 2015 12:29 PM

"In reality, very little of this is true"

Self-driving cars, in the snow? Nope.

Parking lots also pose a problem.

It also has trouble spotting some people.

Nor can the car detect most road damage.

In summary, the MIT publication concludes that the car is barely able to do many of the things the public believes it can:

But jk thinks:

Huh? The technology is imperfect?

Curious if my blog brother remembers tape library demos where the robotic arm convulsed on stage in a company meeting? WHAM! WHAM! WHAM!

I'm not going to shelve the whole project or my enthusiasm. I'll admit a likely disconnect between perception of progress and reality. I was rather stunned to hear that they have completed 100,000 miles in traffic. I have seen some very bad demos on TV (almost whamwhamwham) where the car is told to go park itself.

I'm not betting on dates so much as anticipating the safety, creative destruction and productivity increases it portends.

A post was going around Facebook about the ethics of software's choosing the least worst outcome in a crash: do you hit the baby, the dog, the Raiders fan, or plow into a crowd? I am going to put this in with the Policeman example. Police will need different tools to stop these cars than arm waving.

The ethical crash is pretty rich to me. Sheer stupidity kills tens of thousands every year. Now we are assuming that all these drivers are quick thinkers and beneficent philosophers with superb reflexes.

Many things to figure out and I am rather astonished that they have progressed as far as they have.

Posted by: jk at October 28, 2015 10:05 AM
But johngalt thinks:

You are a software engineer and I, a hardware engineer. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that you think the software is perfectable and I think it's a fool's errand to try.

It's not the technology I'm worried about, it's the imperfect world in which the technology must coexist. It seems you're willing to accept a few dead pedestrians "for the greater good" of fewer drunk drivers. Well I can assure you the ambulance chasing lawyers are not. Those guys have even stopped tire stores from repairing tire tread punctures unless they're in the center of the tread. Perfectly good tires go in the waste bucket because one person had a blowout and was killed in the crash, and lawyers convinced a jury that a tire repair somewhere in the tire's history was to blame.

And you're going to put Siri behind the wheel? Not just policemen will need a tool to stop these cars. This may just be the justification for private ownership of bazookas. If the lawyers ever let it get that far.

Posted by: johngalt at October 28, 2015 2:18 PM
But jk thinks:

I have always thought that the tort bar threatened this dream far more than technical challenge. But we are not the only ones looking at that, and I've read a few articles written by people confident that it is superable. On a tangent, I wonder about the first death or serious injury when one of the auto-breaking Mercedes stops and creates a worse outcome -- that happened yet?

This software guy would suggest a phased release: keep them limited in geography, application and weather until they have proven safety, then gradually increase their domain.

Barring an incredible breakthrough, I see a transition first to Uber/Lyft, then autonomous cars taking over the easier routes. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Not certain I approve of the interpretation of my comment as "accepting a few dead passengers." Tens of thousands of completely innocent Americans are killed every year. This leads me to suggest that maybe these "tonomous" pilots are not really doing such a swell job. They can't handle their radio, cell phone, Starbucks and a cute member of their preferred gender on a nearby sidewalk without destruction. I rejected accepting that these same folks would make the right choice in a morally ambiguous situation and possess the skill to achieve the selected outcome ("I figured if I sped up, I could jump over the crowd of schoolchildren at the bus stop and miss the squirrel -- sorry!")

While we're pointlessly arguing .. . the tire outcome might be good. Thanks to global trade and comparative advantage, tires are becoming cheaper and cheaper while the monetary value of human life increases.

Like the mandatory left-turn-only-at-a-green-arrow lights across Boulder County. Ridiculous, but my 45 second delay to Starbucks versus a 1/10,000,000 chance of saving a life is unconvincing.

Now, if we had autonomous cars. . .

Posted by: jk at October 28, 2015 2:52 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Pedestrians. "...a few dead pedestrians."

Unless I missed something, no company has any liability for the stupidity of its product's users. But when the product itself does something stupid...

Posted by: johngalt at October 28, 2015 3:20 PM
But jk thinks:

Mea maxima culpa! I saw "pedestrians;" I mistyped.

I'd say in the "Runaway Toyota" contretemps, they were sued for owners' stupidity. All the warning labels "do not ride bike at night without light" imply stupidity is really not off-limits to the torts.

Posted by: jk at October 28, 2015 6:13 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

Fascinating discussion! I agree with JK:

Many things to figure out and I am rather astonished that they have progressed as far as they have.
As far as the "ethical crash" scenario (as only a bunch of softies could conceive!), I think there are compromises that will be worked out - partly in court, partly by committees, and partly by drivers making choices - such that this CAN happen (the technology, not the crash) at some point.

First one is probably: these cars go 5-10 mph under the speed limit and feature a flashing amber light: "under computer control! Cross at your hazard!" Police might need to have a veto, but probably not... if it follows proper rules (stay on street, under limit, fixed destination)

Does system/software design require the study of the Hippocratic oath?

Posted by: nanobrewer at October 29, 2015 1:16 PM

Can we cogitate together?

I've been watching very carefully the news surrounding the 40-member House Freedom Caucus (HFC). Knocking a sitting speaker out is certainly a dramatic move that speaks of a certain power, clearly orchestrated by HFC members, and they one-upped themselves by helping knock off Boehner's best-chosen replacement.

I'm fully aware (and thereby will provide TS'ers with the information necessary to edify themselves) that the HFC certainly strikes a very Buckely-esque pose with its famous "STOP!" motif. But there was something fundamental going on in the people's house that cuts to a deeper theme.

1. HFC's pimples
I was very moved by Tom McClintock's letter describing how HFC was apparently cutting the GOP's nose to spite... an unclear someone's face. Today on the Hugh Hewitt show, John Campell (reasonable and retired -CA) related how the GOP's vision - allowing the Em-Im Bank to persevere but with drastic and far-reaching changes to its structure - was blocked by the HFC members, so the establishment GOP cooperated with Dem's to get an utterly un-reformed bank back on the slate. Letting the perfect be the enemy of the good in a way Reagan would surely have shunned.

I was also rather unnerved during the Benghazi committee's session with HRC by Jim Jordan's (Head of HFC - OH, and laudably willing to go to the matt on the now-fading IRS scandal) pugilistically pontificating and postulating at an un-responsive former Secretary of State.

2. My point.
I don't think the HFC ousted the speaker so they could slam shut the door on immigration, nor to put the gavel in Duncan Hunter's (smart, principled if dull - CA) hand. As relayed very well by Nick "Mick" Mulvaney on the Hugh Hewitt show on Oct. 1st and 14th (and by others at other times), the HFC was really railing against the top-down power structure that was foisted on the House by Speaker Pelosi, and seemingly happily inherited by John (headed for the showers - OH) Boehner.

3. What does the HFC really want?
mostly - to use an interesting phrase that meant a lot to both Campbell and Mulvaney a return to regular order. As near as a direct quote as I could get (the wily Hewitt jealously protects his podcasts) also notes

We always thought the conservatives were underrepresented, for example, on committees. We’ve been retaliated against [by] sitting members [who] have raised money in primaries against conservatives. That kind of stuff has got to change. That was part of that poisonous atmosphere that Boehner allowed to sort of fester

And lastly, how "Members must have the ability to bring amendments into committee and on the floor" to which I said huh? what the _____ has been happening up there?

Certainly there's been some good with the Tea Party (any enemy of Boehner...) inspired members helping the new congress classes of 2010 and 2012 greatly stymie the latter parts of Obama's agenda: (1) sequester, (2) immigration "reform" which appeared to be glorified amnesty with very little fundamental reform (tho' the last being stopped was just as much due to a massive grassroots primal scream).

But now, the "STOP!" movement is losing steam to the inevitable and understandable impulse to legislate, make deals and DO things (criminal sentencing reform, budget "deals"). Here is the deeper theme, which possibly played out in small part during our discussion on immigration last week, whereby I poorly expressed the belief we are poised at a delicate, if not quite desperate point in our nation's history. A constitutional crisis, even.

I agree with Mirengoff (Get off my lawn! - PL) where

the left is bent on radically transforming American values, institutions, and ways of living, and will use almost any tactic, regardless of its legality, to accomplish the transformation.

Certainly Boehner and likely Paul Ryan (good speaker - WI) are of the "other" mindset in viewing:

the current moment as a normal clash of opposing parties and opinions — serious, but not exceptional.

Thus we can explain the difference between my "It's a Crisis!" approach to today's immigration scenario:
- crucial that immigration and spending need to be fully and firmly brought back under control.
vs. JK's which is more in line with the "others"
- the nation of historically recordable immigration should press heartily on
to quote Mirengoff:

Ryan probably yearns to strike a grand budget deal with the Democrats. For him, such work is far more fulfilling that saying “no” to Democrats.
Understandable, as the instinct of officials elected with other ideas than filling their pockets is up the instinct to legislate and to deal.

4. Bad press can kill an otherwise mighty offensive
HFC members should well note this instinct, and all the bad press that is likely coming their way and find a way to work circumstances that require dealing with the Dems (and "other" GOP types) is necessary as a tactical matter. In these cases, the bargains should be minimal, not sweeping or far reaching.

GOP voters seem to be thinking “outside the box.” Another way of looking at it, though, is that they perceive our politics as having moved into a new box in the Age of Obama.

Who was aware there is a house LIBERTY CAUCUS? I wasn't.

Were TS'ers aware of the “Pledge to America” – saying in part In a self governing society, the only bulwark against the power of the state is the consent of the governed, and regarding the policies of the current government, the governed do not consent An unchecked executive, a compliant legislature, and an overreaching* judiciary have combined to thwart the will of the people and overturn their votes and their values.

* - [I argue massively overreaching in NFIB v. Sebelius yet underreaching, in King v. Burwell]

I'll have to get this:

author - and con law prof mugged by working for in DC for a Dem Congressman - Elizabeth Price Foley, put it best: limited government, Constitutionalism, control the borders.

But jk thinks:

Heh. I went searching for a Review Corner of Ms. Foley's book. I guess I did not review it, but I did find this comment: "I enjoyed Elizabeth Price Foley's book on the TEA Party but feel she erred in including immigration." JG's "I am the Lorax" comment is much more deserving of a click.

Of course there are substantive, liberty minded folks in House Freedom Caucus. What gave me hope for the last five years was the feeling that thy were ascendant in the Republican Party. My present ennui is based on accepting that they have hit their ceiling and that many hold views on immigration that are orthogonal to liberty.

Trump is now second in the polls, which augurs well for eventual demise. But Dr. Carson, whom I respect and admire deeply, is N-O-T an agent for freedom. Conservatism, perhaps, "common sense" if you hope for that in Government. But he is not a deeply philosophical thinker. He will shut down decriminalization in marijuana because "it's bad for you. He's a Doctor." Maybe bacon is next.

When I do agree with the TEA Partiers and HFC, I question their tactics. Jim Geraghty catalogs the excesses today Ann Coulter calls Jim DeMint leader of "the surrender caucus," Rush . . . well, let me let Jim tell you:

Late last week, Rush Limbaugh called Ryan "the new Cantor" and seemed to suggest the Freedom Caucus was acquiescing to the "donor class" agenda.
Then again, maybe nobody is ever good enough. Dave Bossie is now making the argument that Trey Gowdy wasn't the right man for the job of heading up the Benghazi Select Committee.

Throw all our bums out every two years and allow the other side to accumulate Reps. and seniority in the likes of Elijah Cummings and Nancy Pelosi.

I don't feel I have a place in this party anymore. Maybe I can become a Colin Poweel/David Frum media darling type... There's good money in that.

Posted by: jk at October 27, 2015 12:50 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I only recently learned of the House Liberty Caucus, separate, apart, and quite different from the House Freedom Caucus. The latter votes as a bloc (not very "free" that) and the former does not.

I'll jump past the subject of last week's sparring and go straight for "agent for freedom." I've been pondering this question: If the "donor" or ("political" "establishment" "chamber of commerce" "Council on Foreign Relations" or "other") class in Washington, comprising the federal Leviathan bureaucracy, really calls the shots, what individual man or woman can be an "agent for freedom" that could slay that dragon?

Short answer - none of them.
Longer answer - we have to find a way to take our money back away from them.

Posted by: johngalt at October 27, 2015 2:54 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Being less fatalistic, I think the ones with the best intestinal fortitude are, in alphabetical order, Cruz, Fiorina, and Trump.

Cruz and Trump, I imagine, might begin to take the windmill tilting personally and revert to the "king of the hill" masculine form that can distract a chief executive from her true goal - shrinking the power and intrusiveness of government.

Posted by: johngalt at October 27, 2015 3:08 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

JK's comment "don't feel I have a place in this party anymore" recalls to me RedState Eric's comment that I quoted here,

The overarching goal [of The Left] will be to convince you that no one agrees with you and there are no voices echoing you

Since I can't offer you my CLiP T-shirt... perhaps I can help focus on similarities? Starting small, I'll say {cough}Sequester! Given the option of being unhappy with "tactics" vs. considering Freedom's future under an HRC administration, I think the clear choice is to make tough choices, that will continue to forward the cause of freedom, inch by stinking inch.

Agreed that the TP and HFC should go sotto voce on immigration (again, focusing on the above). I kind of hope the HFC will disband after helping get a conservative elected to the Leadership post... the committed ones should then join the HLC, and the pugnacious ones can count their scalps and dry their powder...

Posted by: nanobrewer at October 27, 2015 6:50 PM

October 26, 2015

Bill Gates: Only Socialism can save the planet!

Not sure how accurate this quote from US Uncut is. But it, sadly, has verisimilitude.

In a recent interview with The Atlantic, billionaire tech magnate Bill Gates announced his game plan to spend $2 billion of his own wealth on green energy investments, and called on his fellow private sector billionaires to help make the U.S. fossil-free by 2050. But in doing so, Gates admitted that the private sector is too selfish and inefficient to do the work on its own, and that mitigating climate change would be impossible without the help of government research and development.

I'm thinking about a Mac... To be fair, the headline is US Uncut's and "help of government R&D" is not really "Socialism." But my Facebook friends are elated.

But johngalt thinks:

Back that truck up - Gates will spend $2Bn of his own wealth, on green investments, and call on his fellow private sector billionaires to (do the same?) and make the U.S. fossil-[fuel] free by 2050...

Next sentence:

"Gates admitted that the private sector (i.e. himself and his fellow PRIVATE SECTOR billionaires) is too selfish and inefficient to do the work on its own..."

Maybe they're just too smart to pour good money down that sunny, windy hole?

Maybe Bill is saying, "If you don't give your money to my pet project I'll get the government to take it from you."

Naah... Rainbows! Lollipops!

Posted by: johngalt at October 27, 2015 2:38 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

He's been a reliably lefty, in the most visibly public way possible, ever since the Clinton administration blew millions out of MS's legal fund with that set of harrassment suits (test the theory: what changed?).

This of course the point of the actions of the Clinton's IMO; much more so than anything to do with monopolies!

He's keeping the voices behind the pitchforks pointed at others....

Posted by: nanobrewer at November 2, 2015 12:53 PM

October 25, 2015

Review Corner

The IPCC has never had a hit like its Third Assessment Report. Their first two did the boring scientific thing and considered all the uncertainties, and the fourth and fifth were comparatively sotto voce after the headline-grabbing hockey stick. But the TAR is the IPCC's pop smash, the one that broke through to become the Big Climate boy-band's "Livin' La Vida Loca", a veritable "Candle In The Wind Turbine". Mann's temperature graph accomplished even more than the IPCC were looking for.
I mentioned in a Review Corner teaser that I had not intended to read Mark Steyn's A Disgrace to the Profession. I enjoy his wit and style, but a whole book beating up on a single climate scientist sounded a bit much. I grabbed the (generous) Kindle sample to kill some time and found it it to be quite "not put downable." Each of the 110 Chapters is only a couple of pages; the temptation to read just one more can last an entire afternoon.

Each of these brief chapters introduces a highly credentialed source -- Steyn admits he felt besieged by typing so many letters after people's names. Most are in the field of climate science, and most, if not quite 97%, accept and are quite concerned about anthropogenic climate change. There's a small smattering of "deniers," but the bulk are peers of Dr. Mann who feel that his work hampers the cause. Steyn simply collects these, sets up the story, and quotes them.

The total effect is totally damning -- I hope to never cheese Mr. Steyn off enough that he writes a book attacking me.

THE INTERGOVERNMENTAL Panel on Climate Change was born in 1988. It enjoyed the unlikely support of Mrs Thatcher, in defiance of her usual rule that, if you set up a bureaucracy to fix a problem, then you'll never be rid of the problem. And so the IPCC is not a general science body or a general climate-science body, but a bureaucracy whose only business is "climate change". The thing about saving the planet is that the planet's a complicated thing.

I suspect Steyn is down deep a denier, but the book was not written to dispute climate change completely. It was written to discredit Dr. Michael Mann's iconic "hockey stick graph" and his questionable behavior when his work was questioned.
Phil, I have just read the M& M stuff critcizing MBH. A lot of it seems valid to me. At the very least MBH is a very sloppy piece of work -- an opinion I have held for some time. Presumably what you have done with Keith is better? Or is it? I get asked about this a lot. Can you give me a brief heads up? Mike is too deep into this to be helpful. [Prof.] Tom [Wigley Former Director of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, and Senior Scientist at the US National Center for Atmospheric Research. IPCC contributing author.]

"Mike" is a newcomer to the field ("the ink still wet on his PhD") and attempts to turn over long held beliefs about the medieval warm period and little ice age. Both disappear in his graph to give the hockey stick its level shaft. Generally the onus is on the newcomer to discredit accepted theory, but Dr. Mann rides his celebrity and political support to a place where questioners are deniers.
Irving Caesar, lyricist of "Tea For Two" and "Swanee", had a legendary Broadway flop with a show called My Dear Public. The reviews were scathing, and singled Caesar out particularly, as he was the show's producer, lyricist, co-author and co-composer. The following morning he bumped into Oscar Hammerstein and said, "So they didn't like it. But why pick on me?" That's Mann's attitude to the 1999 hockey stick he co-authored: So it's misleading and over-simplified. But why pick on me?

It is refreshing to see 100 or so scientists care enough about integrity and science to push back. But it is an open question how much the concern goes away if the hockey stick graph received the public discrediting it deserves. Most of the sources remain all in (as am I), but the public was brought on board with the hockey stick: the IPCC (3rd), VP Gore's movie, and some credulous young people accept that as truth. Without it, much uncertainty is restored.

It occurs to me that anarchy books, like Randy Barnett';s Structure of Liberty [Review Corner] and Michael Huemer's The Problem of Political Authority [Review Corner] are the most powerful explanations of minarchist liberty. Even though I reject anarchy, their arguments against suffocating government are the most solid. I suggest that denier literature is also closer to my beliefs as a "lukewarmer." The bad science, the politicized science, has got to go before we can take serious appraisal of the risks and cost benefits.

Professor [Philip] Stott argues that ideologically-settled climate science is a form of "neo-colonialism" that will keep 1.6 billion people in the less developed world in lifelong poverty. Given what Big Climate is asking of us, there is a lot at stake.

Indeed there is. Five stars for Mr. Steyn. If you have a Kindle, at least get the sample.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 11:07 AM | What do you think? [0]

October 23, 2015

All Hail Taranto!

One of my favorite of James Taranto's regular features are his quadrennial "Bye-kus" fer each candidate dropping out:




La Vie en Rose Blues

I hope Mme. Piaf would pardon the liberties taken with her classic. Edith Piaf ©1945

Live at the Coffeehouse dot Com


October 22, 2015

Enemy of the State


Still, in an interview on French TV, Will Smith said he strongly supported income redistribution.

"I have no issue with paying taxes and whatever needs to be done for my country to grow," he said. "I'm a black man who didn't go to college, yet I get to travel around the world and sell my movies, and I believe very firmly that America is the only place on earth that I could exist. So I will pay anything that I need to pay to keep my country growing."

Then he was told that France's top tax rate was, at the time, 75%. His response: "Seventy-five! That's different. Well, God bless America."

Indeed, sir. Indeed.

All Hail Taranto!

And it's not even funny. James be tired of the panegyrics for VP Biden on his incredibly super statesmanlike decision not to run.

[National Journal's Ron] Fournier's column includes a tweet iterating the theme his column reiterates: "@VP correct when he said his time had passed. But not in the tactical way he meant it: The time for a pol of his values has passed. Sadly." Oh, give us a break. Would those be the "values" of civility and compromise that Biden displayed as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee when his party savaged Robert Bork in 1987 and Clarence Thomas in 1991?

Better than a drinking game: every time somebody praises VP Biden's ethics or statesmanship, refer them to Justice Thomas's autobiography.

Madame Secretary is Killin' it

I have listened to what seems like an hour of the Benghazi hearing, and all of y'all who were expecting Sec. Clinton to break down in tears will be sadly disappointed. She is very good in this is forum and her inquisitors are not. The Republicans seem to be overreaching.

I'm the last to say this is not important; it clearly is and there are many questions to be answered. But the politics ain't there. They are throwing the kitchen sink at her and she comes off as measured and professional.

Thanks to our pal, Rep. McCarthy (WTF - CA), the entire thing is badly besmirched. And the Republican questioners are playing to form.

2016 Posted by John Kranz at 12:16 PM | What do you think? [9]
But Jk thinks:

Hope so.

Posted by: Jk at October 22, 2015 8:35 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

I think the GOP did Ok - Gowdy, good; Jordan not as much -- too much droning and presupposing, too little hard questions that caused HERSELF to fumble and get irritated. I did like that Blumenthal was put out there, both for his corrupt scheming and his direct access to HRC when "her friend" Stevens got an unanswered phone.

HRC did OK of giving her hardcore supporters enough sound bytes to keep their egos afloat. Question is, how much will it affect those on the fence?

Hearing gave plenty fodder for GOP Oppo's should she choose to run. Sadly, gross negligence and many, many lies will not qualify her for a special bracelet for her cankles... one can hope for some extra heavy migraines?

Posted by: nanobrewer at October 23, 2015 12:11 AM
But jk thinks:

S'pose. I think she gets the "I demanded to appear and clear my name and after eleventy bazillion dollars, those mean ol' Republicans could not find anything wrong." Plus it exonerates her email troubles for the low-info voter. "I appeared before Congress on that -- they said it was fine."

I think she had very satisfactory answers on the security and the tragic deaths of the diplomatic team. The testimony I have seen was blathering Congressmen pounding on that. She has a pretty good answer: it is dangerous work, it is tragic, we laud their courage, I can't approve every lock, are you going to eat the rest of that pie?

The lies about the video and denial of help got a lot less play. Some tried on general Libya policy, but it's a bad forum for that -- are we investigating malfeasance or questioning policy? It also elevated the stature of Rep. Elijah Cummings (Partisan Hack - MD) for his upcoming Senate Bid.

Perhaps not the unmitigated disaster I see, but a net negative and a missed opportunity.

Posted by: jk at October 23, 2015 11:26 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Agreed. Congressmen didn't give her enough rope to hang herself. Mostly in the interest of preventing a filibuster, I do understand.

But the point is not to influence voters. This is not a political stunt. The FBI will review every word of this testimony under oath. Electronic communications that belong to the US government went missing, until found elsewhere. That they are damning of her veracity is icing on the cake.

Clinton said publicly, "Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted to the Internet."

And in the hearing,

"And if you look at what I said, I referred to the video that night in a very specific way. I said, some have sought to justify the attack because of the video. I used those words deliberately, not to ascribe a motive to every attacker but as a warning to those across the region that there was no justification for further attacks."

Not for either of those reasons, but to cleverly mislead public opinion and reserve a technical escape hatch should the truth ever come to light. It's like parsing multiple meanings of the word "is."

Posted by: johngalt at October 23, 2015 11:43 AM
But jk thinks:

Our buddy, Kim Strassel ain't buying it: "She knew all along"

Posted by: jk at October 23, 2015 12:12 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

Yes, she's an accomplished liar, and provided replies. Probably the fiercest opponent the extremely competent and accomplished Trey Gowdy could ever face.

It's worth repeating "While all answers are replies; not all replies are answers." She did not answer the important questions, and managed to deflect, distort and dissemble (with help from members on both side):
- what was the mission in Benghazi?
- what sort of security should that sort of mission have?

This really leads to scope creep, and would probably be resolved by good answers to 1 and 2: how do we stop the next attack?

Yes, the panel did not properly plant the holly stake, but that was certainly out it's scope. The DOJ needs to do it's job (which we also can't expect), the voters need to do theirs (which we can).

Posted by: nanobrewer at October 23, 2015 1:01 PM

Quote of the Day

In the run-up to the 2015 U.N. Climate Change Conference in Paris from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11, rich countries and development organizations are scrambling to join the fashionable ranks of "climate aid" donors. This effectively means telling the world's worst-off people, suffering from tuberculosis, malaria or malnutrition, that what they really need isn’t medicine, mosquito nets or micronutrients, but a solar panel. It is terrible news. -- HOSS Bjorn Lomborg, WSJ Guest Editorial

October 20, 2015

Maybe y'all will dig it.

Here's the piece that got me into trouble today. I'm not a Rothbard fan in toto, but I thought that this piece exhibited a great balance of rights-based and consequentialist libertarianism.

If, as libertarians believe, every individual has the right to own his person and property, it then follows that he has the right to employ violence to defend himself against the violence of criminal aggressors.
In a notable article attacking control of handguns (the type of gun liberals most want to restrict), St. Louis University law professor Don B. Kates, Jr., chides his fellow liberals for not applying the same logic to guns that they use for marijuana laws. Thus, he points out that there are over fifty million handgun owners in America today, and that, based on polls and past experience, from two-thirds to over eighty percent of Americans would fail to comply with a ban on handguns.

Professor Kates gets a bit harsher:
Gun prohibition is the brainchild of white middle-class liberals who are oblivious to the situation of poor and minority people living in areas where the police have given up on crime control. Such liberals weren't upset about marijuana laws, either, in the fifties when the busts were confined to the ghettos. Secure in well-policed suburbs or high-security apartments guarded by Pinkertons (whom no one proposes to disarm), the oblivious liberal derides gun ownership as "an anachronism from the Old West."

Okay, so I knew my friend would not say "Oh boy, a Murray Rothbard piece on Gun rights!" But I have endured a tsunami of lefty sites and memes and suggested that this piece summed up my feelings pretty well. I posted it on his timeline to ensure that he saw and to write a special message. Oops. That was -- I am emphatically told -- a social media faux pas.

I don't have a parochial attitude about my FB page, but I guess I can see it. Being "all about property rights," I swore to never do it again. He swore some too.

See if it plays better to the home crowd.

Gun Rights Posted by John Kranz at 2:53 PM | What do you think? [7]
But nanobrewer thinks:

I only paste replies on others' timelines. The real frothing-o'keyboard types will spot anything close to inflammatory and jump all over it anyway...

But, yes, their *ahem* marking instinct (with all that implies) will be extra vigorous on their own page!

Posted by: nanobrewer at October 20, 2015 6:18 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

What a silly thing to get upset about. You can control what shows up on your feed after all.

P.S. You have permission to put anything you want on my wall.

Posted by: T. Greer at October 21, 2015 4:04 AM
But jk thinks:

Likewise. He is a good guy and one of the former token lefties this site has tried to recruit (retention, not recruitment, has been the issue). He has become quite emotional on this. My writing was ambiguous, but I meant that the tsunami of anti-gun material has been predominantly from him.

I don't mean to beat up, but I think much of this can be blamed on Jon Stewart. I have an increasingly large cohort that wishes to be the Internet Jon Stewart. Post something, comment on the total intellectual troglodytism of anyone who disagrees, and let a few friends comment "Atta boy!"

Sorry to litigate in this friendly venue, and wish to beat up on Stewartism and not my one practitioner. But this a good example. I sit through five or ten links of varying quality. Maybe an interesting NYTimes editorial, three nutjob sites, and a handful of "memes." I answer ten with one (isn't that a biblical thing?) and am guilty of escalation. I suggest these folks have picked up their style from the COmedy Channel. Just as they thought that was news for many years, they forever think that is how punditry works.

Posted by: jk at October 21, 2015 10:52 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes, the reaction you describe is quite perplexing. It's the kind of response one might expect from a gun control zealot if you were to do something truly egregious - like draw a cartoon of a gun.

Posted by: johngalt at October 21, 2015 12:32 PM
But jk thinks:

I was going to send someone else a link to our immigration discussion as an example of high minded and serious debate. Then I remembered that some loser said something about "Senator Sessions would not know freedom if it bit him in his pointy ass." Oh, well. Maybe not.

Posted by: jk at October 21, 2015 4:03 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

I see the problem: you have proposed a logical, practical solution (to violence/crime) to an emotional problem. This emotional problem has - in this example - 3 parts that well describes (if not completely) the modern Prog mindset:

1. Guns scare me... only in the hands of a guy in uniform (aka, respected authority figure) are they OK
2. daddy make me safe! Oh well, government will do for now...
3. People scare/bother me... I need them to be more like "me" or controlled under scenario #1
4. Stewart-ism... the search for the dispositive "me so smart" hmmm.... certainly the internet encourages this sort of snarky, inbred behavior.

My quick reading (a good read!) may be wrong, but I think Rothbard only covered #2. I'm encouraging an underemployed friend to write a post on "guns saving lives" (he can rip them out right good over beers!). I pledged to post it here.. if he ever makes good.

before New YorkState outlawed handguns, Good Samaritan instances were far more widespread than now. And, in a recent survey of Good Samaritan cases, no less than 81% of the Samaritans were owners of guns.
Wow. Posted by: nanobrewer at October 23, 2015 2:46 PM

October 19, 2015

This is not immigration reform

Thus speaks Senator Jeff Sessions (Awake, AL) and Dave Brat (Giant Killer, VA), in a powerful letter published in Roll Call, titled:
Memo to GOP: Curb Immigration or Quit

America is about to break every known immigration record. And yet you are unlikely to hear a word about it. This is not immigration reform. This is the dissolution of the nation state, of the principle that a government exists to serve its own people.

This is the tide that started with Kennedy's bill in 1965, and wildly supported by today's progressives (esp. FB and Google billionaires), who never much cared for the idea of a nation state (at least, ours).

According to the Congressional Research Service, from 1945 to 1970 — as the foreign-born population fell — the bottom 90 percent of wage earners saw an 82.5 percent increase in their wages. During this time, millions of prior immigrants were able to climb out of the tenements and into the middle class. ... Congressional Research Service reports that during the 43 years between 1970 and 2013 — when the foreign-born population grew 325 percent — incomes for the bottom 90 percent of earners fell nearly 8 percent.

I have been seeing these stories, but only in the conservative press.

What is missing from this conversation is a sense of moderation, of limits and of compassion for struggling [citizen] families. It is not caring, but callous, to bring in so many workers that there are not enough jobs for them or those already living here. It is not mainstream, but extreme, to continue surging immigration beyond all historical precedent. And it is not rational, but radical, to refuse to recognize limits.

The fundamental choice is to have a generous welfare state OR open borders. The status quo of "compassion" is that there are no limits, cue Sen. Sanders (FUBAR, VT). I'm less leery of the large numbers of non-english speakers and other non-assimilation statistics, and more worried, that the rush for compassion or cheap labor tramples those who built this country:

After nearly half a century of massive immigration it is time to turn our attention to our own residents.

What say you, fellow freedom lovers?

2016 Immigration Posted by nanobrewer at 11:54 PM | What do you think? [20]
But jk thinks:

No. I thought I had devastated that line of argumentation with my fiendishly clever "And let's put a moratorium on fracking and new energy production. And ban GMO crops."

Something is too small and is growing too slowly and does not really deserve to be controlled directly by government at all -- and you suggest a temporary ban? Let's put a pause on interdictions and give open borders a try -- just for a few years and see how it goes.

We'll compromise and do things my way.

Posted by: jk at October 21, 2015 5:47 PM
But jk thinks:

And I do not find a relaxed immigration any more theoretical than a government without income taxes. We had both for well over a hundred years, and see unrestricted migration between states and EU nations.

Posted by: jk at October 21, 2015 5:51 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

relaxed immigration ...government without income taxes policies and actions from a very, very different time and place; when it took more than a plane ticket to get here and an anchor-baby to stay. It may come again, even without forming The Independent Rocky Mountain States, but it is not this day, or year.

Open Borders? I have to agree with brother JG that the current environment IS the Welfare State Magnet. Evidence?
1. see the EU putting up razor wire;
2. Those 10-15,000 children brought in (from where?? how did they even get to MX's northern border?!?). WT says

[Obama admin] acknowledged that human traffickers were marketing the journey by pointing out a loophole in U.S. immigration system that requires non-Mexican children to be released into the U.S. while they await final immigration decisions.
then their parents claim the DNA wagon... Wa Times reports there's already another wave on its way.

This is the facts right now; Sessions is working in the here and now, with a lawless president that encourages "takers" and victimhood at every turn, DOJ wielding an ethnic ax that's juicing a crime wave, a medical system being (seemingly by design) torn asunder, "proper" immigration about as realistic as "Common Sense" gun laws, a complicit media and a gutless congress.

Borders being a thing of the past is really a quaint idea and worthy of discussion, but certainly not a policy choice for this day... it hasn't worked much in Europe that I can see...

Yes, restrictions: so we can keep the criminals and terrorists out, so we can track those here and remove the ones who become criminals or like Denmark's infamous "Carina."

I don't mind those that stay and speak more Hmong (or whatever) than English: as long as they adopt JG's desired behaviors, their kids will assimilate. BUT if they do the Parisian-ghetto thing, which POTUS, Sanders and the victim-seeking media apparently crave.... which the current immigration wave is encouraging... then I fear our shining City on the Hill will become just another crowded, oppressed barrio.

Posted by: nanobrewer at October 22, 2015 2:15 AM
But jk thinks:

I was responding to the suggestion that unrestricted immigration was theoretical. I lob the same accusation at my anarcho-capitalist friends. But this nation became a continental power without immigration controls or income tax. Possibly difficult to reinstate, but in no way theoretical.

And my modern examples hold. We allow interstate migration, the EU does not control migration between EU countries, all my cousins seem to be employed in Singapore, I don't think it was difficult. So a huge part of the world can today migrate to a large part of the world with no-to-minimal paperwork.

Would ThreeSourcers be troubled if Albertans were allowed to set up shop in Montana or North Dakota? (I will again start offering statehood now that a Trudeau is again PM. Thankfully, not the cartoonist.)

Again, just like drugs, I encounter artifacts of bad law as argument that laws are required. "...a loophole in U.S. immigration system...' " their parents claim the DNA wagon" These are unintended consequences of bad government regulation. If it was the EPA, you'd be calling for them to stand down and heads to roll. But, as it's ICE/INS, I hear calls to double down. A system that does not require so much gaming will not be gamed so much.

Planes? Okay, we'll allow everybody who can endure a month in a rat-infested, tempest tossed ship. Sorry, but I file that with those who think the Second Amendment only applies to muskets. People are free or they ain't. And we either welcome the economic and humanitarian benefits of a growing economy . . . or we support Sen. Sessions.

Posted by: jk at October 22, 2015 11:11 AM
But jk thinks:

"Shining city on a hill" calls to mind both John Winthrop (an immigrant) and President Reagan (a strongly pro-immigrant/free trade Republican US President). I find it strange to hear it employed in the cause of Nativism.

Posted by: jk at October 22, 2015 11:17 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I asked if a "proper" immigration stream is theoretical. I didn't realize your definition of proper is "relaxed" or "unrestricted."

Your case for unrestricted immigration is convincing but, I contend, still theoretical. Returning to it is defeated by the combination of the welfare state and democracy. Until we can have a proper government, i.e. a republic, we can't have a proper immigration either.

So yes, bad government requires more bad government, temporarily. The alternative is a duly elected government that willfully discriminates against producers and entrepreneurs. We will see an entrepreneurial spirit among natives and immigrants alike that rivals the old Soviet Union. Don't sign me up.

Posted by: johngalt at October 23, 2015 12:22 PM

"If the NFL playoffs started today..."

The Patriots would be a Wild Card team!

This is fun.

Sports Posted by JohnGalt at 7:21 PM | What do you think? [0]

Revive the Fourth Estate!

That's what Luigi Zingales [not a made up name, at least by me] advocates in this Financial Times article. He concludes:

When the media outlets in any country fail to challenge power, not only are they not part of the solution, they become part of the problem.

YES! But everything that comes before this is thoroughly misguided. To wit:

While nowadays almost all the world professes itself to be capitalist, not everybody experiences the same type of capitalism. In fact, the form of capitalism prevailing in most of the world is very distant from the ideal competitive and meritocratic system we economists theorise in our analyses and most of us aspire to. It is a corrupt form, in which incumbents and special-interest groups shape the rules of the game to their advantage, at the expense of everybody else: it is crony capitalism.

So far, so good.

The reason why a competitive capitalism is so difficult to achieve is that it requires an impartial arbiter to set the rules and enforce them. Markets work well only when the rules of the game are specified beforehand and are designed to level the playing field. But who has the incentives to design the rules in such an impartial way?

Rules? You mean, don't steal and don't commit fraud? No, he means "level the playing field."

While everybody benefits from a competitive market system, [everyone except the uncompetitive, that is] nobody benefits enough to spend resources to lobby for it. Business has very powerful lobbies; competitive markets do not. The diffused constituency that is in favour of competitive markets has few incentives to mobilise in its defence.

This is where the media can play a crucial role. By gathering information on the nature and cost of cronyism and distributing it among the public at large, media outlets can reduce the power of vested interests. By exposing the distortions created by powerful incumbents, they can create the political demand for a competitive capitalism.

This is well and good, until media outlets become a vested interest, or ally themselves with such. Then they are perfectly happy with "powerful incumbents." Then they choose what stories to cover - and not - to benefit those interests. Things like Benghazi and the myriad holes and inconsistencies in the "accepted, settled, science" behind the Global Climate Change movement.

"But who has the incentives to design the rules in such an impartial way?"

The founders of the United States, and the authors of the United States Constitution. That's who.

And in the name of "a competitive capitalism" the author advocates for ever more corporatism, the only difference being that media outlets will have a greater say.

High quality global journalism requires investment. Please share this article with others using the link below, do not cut & paste the article. See our Ts&Cs and Copyright Policy for more detail. Email ftsales.support@ft.com to buy additional rights. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/8843ca9e-70f5-11e5-9b9e-690fdae72044.html#ixzz3p2T5fA57

In the past decade economists have shown a growing interest in the media. Most of their attention has focused on the role the media play in limiting government corruption or in shaping electoral outcomes. Little attention has been dedicated to its influence on the type of capitalism prevailing in a country.

While nowadays almost all the world professes itself to be capitalist, not everybody experiences the same type of capitalism. In fact, the form of capitalism prevailing in most of the world is very distant from the ideal competitive and meritocratic system we economists theorise in our analyses and most of us aspire to. It is a corrupt form, in which incumbents and special-interest groups shape the rules of the game to their advantage, at the expense of everybody else: it is crony capitalism.

The reason why a competitive capitalism is so difficult to achieve is that it requires an impartial arbiter to set the rules and enforce them. Markets work well only when the rules of the game are specified beforehand and are designed to level the playing field. But who has the incentives to design the rules in such an impartial way?

While everybody benefits from a competitive market system, nobody benefits enough to spend resources to lobby for it. Business has very powerful lobbies; competitive markets do not. The diffused constituency that is in favour of competitive markets has few incentives to mobilise in its defence.

This is where the media can play a crucial role. By gathering information on the nature and cost of cronyism and distributing it among the public at large, media outlets can reduce the power of vested interests. By exposing the distortions created by powerful incumbents, they can create the political demand for a competitive capitalism.

This is the role that “muckraking” publications such as McClure’s magazine played in the US in the early 20th century, where the investigative reporting of Ida Tarbell created the political environment to break up Rockefeller’s Standard Oil monopoly. And it is the role that the business newspaper The Marker has played in Israel in exposing the effect on the national economy of the concentration of power and wealth in the hands of a few billionaires.

Unfortunately, this is not the most profitable sort of media activity. It can be very expensive, not so much from the costs of the resources dedicated to investigative journalists, but because of the economic repercussions from annoyed advertisers that these investigations can generate.

The value of the advertising that is withheld from muckraking media will generally exceed the additional revenues generated from new subscriptions.

Even if they do not lose money, muckraking newspapers at best break even. As a result, the important social role they play becomes the preserve of profitable media companies, which can afford investigative journalism as a sideline rather than a business model that can make profits.

Before the internet revolution, newspapers were very profitable and some of them were willing to fund costly investigative reporting and weather any possible retaliation by advertisers. Not any more. Plummeting advertising revenues, disappearing classified ads and dwindling subscriptions have all but hollowed out newsrooms and their investigative reporting teams.

So how can one restore this essential role of the media? Most countries have a group of readers who are interested in investigative journalism and are willing to pay for it. In France, for example, Mediapart, an online newspaper dedicated to investigative journalism, has 110,000 paid subscribers.

For most readers, however, it is difficult to ascertain whether investigative journalism is professional, independent and unbiased; or whether it only preys on easy targets, sparing the powerful players in the economy. Without any quality certification, the risk is that competition will drive the price of all news to zero, destroying any incentives to invest in quality.

If we want the media to play a key role in capitalist societies, we need to find a way to certify the quality of its investigative work. At stake here is not just good journalism, but capitalism itself and, eventually, even democracy.

Inquisitive, daring and influential media outlets willing to take a strong stand against economic power are essential in a competitive capitalist society. They are our defence against crony capitalism. When the media outlets in any country fail to challenge power, not only are they not part of the solution, they become part of the problem.

The writer, a professor at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, will deliver the Wincott Foundation lecture on October 29 on crony capitalism and the media

Related Topics
United States of America

But Keith Arnold thinks:

The Fourth Estate continues to be a Fifth Column.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at October 19, 2015 3:10 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Aye, and one that by and large doesn't understand what "competitive capitalism" really is. Let me give them a hint: There will be billionaires. And homeless folks.

Posted by: johngalt at October 19, 2015 4:22 PM

October 18, 2015

Review Corner

Today there is an implicit belief among technologists that big data traces its lineage to the silicon revolution. That simply is not so. Modern IT systems certainly make big data possible, but at its core the move to big data is a continuation of humankind's ancient quest to measure, record, and analyze the world.
Life is all about balance. I instituted a Review Corner hiatus to pursue a big project at work, yet here's a book I read for my project. I am truly livin' the dream.

Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, and Kenneth Cukier's Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think is a worthy read for entertainment and general elucidation. it fits into my project and I believe I will open a chapter with one of its quotes.

It's actually more germane to my other work. If I may ruin by summarization -- and isn't that what "Review Corner" is about? -- it's about the switch from structured data and algorithms of understanding to purely statistical manipulation of this newly extant ocean of data. I worked for a startup for five years that looked to commercialize AI research. We were going to do Siri in limited domains, a dozen years ago.

The technologies we chose were real world modeling and natural language processing, and we partnered with leading implementers both in academia and the private sector. We ran out of Euros before we could be proven wrong, but we were wrong. To pick NLP, our partners -- and these were some bright folks -- were teaching grammar, syntax, and vocabulary to computers. I mean, how else are you going to do it?

Well, this little outfit named Google® came along. Google doesn't know its ass from an adverb, but with access to a billion sentences and millions of instances each day of users' use and preferences, it can guess the right word in any language. Likewise, real world modeling teaches the computer what a glass is: it has mass, it takes up space, it holds liquid when right side up, &c. Along comes Watson from IBM (another little start up...) and it does medicine and beats humans at Jeopardy without structure or understanding of anything.

Target stores discovered it could spot a pregnant customer by subtle changes in buying habits (unscented lotion -- I'll never buy it again or I'll pay cash). Dayton Corp even got into hot water by sending coupons to a teenager and angering Dad. Turns out, they were right if inappropriate. And could even the Walmart whizzes think of this one without looking?

In 2004 Walmart peered into its mammoth databases of past transactions: what item each customer bought and the total cost, what else was in the shopping basket, the time of day, even the weather. By doing so, the company noticed that prior to a hurricane, not only did sales of flashlights increase, but so did sales of Pop-Tarts, a sugary American breakfast snack. So as storms approached, Walmart stocked boxes of Pop-Tarts at the front of stores next to the hurricane supplies, to make life easier for customers dashing in and out-- and boosted its sales.

At the end the authors delve into privacy concerns and offer suggestions; this is the weakest part of the book (hint: rhymes with shore-shove-her--tent). But that's a small criticism against a book which is entertaining and applies directly to my work and industry.
The initial era of the computer revolution was computational, as the etymology of the word suggests. We used machines to do calculations that had taken a long time to do by previous methods: such as missile trajectory tables, censuses, and the weather. Only later came taking analog content and digitizing it. Hence when Nicholas Negroponte of the MIT Media Lab published his landmark book in 1995 called Being Digital, one of his big themes was the shift from atoms to bits. We largely digitized text in the 1990s. More recently, as storage capacity, processing power, and bandwidth have increased, we’ve done it with other forms of content too, like images, video, and music.

Four stars.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 11:30 AM | What do you think? [3]
But johngalt thinks:

"The initial era of the computer revolution was computational..."

The present era is, then, observational? And Analytical?

This is good news, by the way. Your gang tried to create a sentient AI, but the AI that works today is the one that peeks over human shoulders and cheats to get the answers. At least, that's the conclusion I draw from this Review Corner.

Posted by: johngalt at October 19, 2015 11:37 AM
But nanobrewer thinks:

Let me hazard a guess: the current computer era is "relational"

@JK: what is NLP?

Posted by: nanobrewer at October 19, 2015 6:47 PM
But Jk thinks:

Natural Language Processing (NLP) -- edited for clarity, thanks.

Posted by: Jk at October 19, 2015 11:26 PM

October 17, 2015

All Hail Jonah!

Jonah Goldberg suggests that Sec. CLinton's debate opponents were not "Rocky III Killers."

I mean good gawd, Lincoln Chafee? He's less a presidential candidate and more a cautionary tale of what happens to WASP genes when you drench them in scotch, ink residue from old issues of Mother Jones, and bong resin.

But johngalt thinks:

Ooh, ooh, can I play?

Lincoln Chafee's principal accomplishment in politics is to make President Obama resemble Dirty Harry by comparison. Chafee literally puts the "empty" in "empty chair."

Posted by: johngalt at October 19, 2015 11:39 AM

October 16, 2015

Classified Information

.... is a political term, that even HRC is trying to avoid using. Her current slant is that she never sent/received eMails "marked as classified." This - like all other things Clinton - begs an important question: How does one mark an eMail, Madame Schtickery?

The legal term is drawn from 18 U.S. Code § 793, is information respecting the national defense or as Cornell's LII (or it in the title of the statute?) terms it; "defense information." To be in compliance with section 793, one must assure that all such information given or provided to or by you does not leave, it's "proper place of custody."

Here's the rub:

(f) Whoever, being entrusted with or having lawful possession or control of any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, note, or information, relating to the national defense, (1) through gross negligence permits the same to be removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of his trust, or to be lost, stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, or (2) having knowledge that the same has been illegally removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of its trust, or lost, or stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, and fails to make prompt report of such loss, theft, abstraction, or destruction to his superior officer— Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.

Also an important definition is intent or reason to believe that the information is to be used to the injury of the United States, or to the advantage of any foreign nation

It's pretty easy to see that HRC's use of a private, unsecured server and that an eMail containing the identity of a CIA agent (heh, revealed in an eMail from chairman Gowdy) would constitute "defense information" and sending it through an unsecured network to Syd Blumenthal (who, sans security clearances was trying to set up a security services scheme in Libya) constitutes, bad judgement, incompetence, and gross negligence. It will be interesting to see how much of Ramirez's vision is validated in due course of events (long live Trey Gowdy!).

Accolades to a blog that does not have a "Clinton" category, and apologies to those in the BERN world who are sick and tired of hearing about "emails," but there's a warehouse of smoking ordinance in that Fox story about Gowdy's revelations.


Dem2016 Primary Posted by nanobrewer at 12:43 PM | What do you think? [4]
But jk thinks:

Taranto pointed out that Sen. Sanders (Free Ice Cream - VT) was well served by his chivalry. ("Tired of hearing about her damn emails, too? Vote Bernie!")

I don't know how one can avoid the comparison with Gen. Petraeus. He's lost his career for a lesser infraction. The discussion should be "5 to 10" or "20 to life," not President or not.

Posted by: jk at October 16, 2015 2:53 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

"[Gen. Petraeus] lost his career for a lesser infraction."

So did Scooter Libby. And Tom Delay. Hell, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg... Okay, that last one may have been a little over the top. But I'm going to disagree with you about whether the discussion should be between "5 and 10" or "20 to life."

Traitors get either the gallows or the firing squad.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at October 16, 2015 3:07 PM
But jk thinks:

As the great legal scholar Bob Dylan said:

"'What time is it,' said the Judge to Joey when they met?
'Five to Ten,' said Joey. The Judge said 'that's exactly what you get.'"

Posted by: jk at October 16, 2015 3:54 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

Yes, I'm still bitter about Libby. Additionally, John Deutch resigned, and Gen. James Cartwright is under investigation.

Delay was convicted for campaign finance problems, which didn't surprise me a bit. He was not exactly a spendthrift, and had a reputation for ... lucrative deals. Still, chump change compared to what the Clintons and other FoB's have already done.

Posted by: nanobrewer at October 16, 2015 6:40 PM

October 15, 2015

Lincoln Preserved the Union... for This?

Let's talk about the 10th Amendment. Does it give states the power to ignore federal immigration law? Victor Davis Hanson writes:

Apparently, sanctuary cities do not understand the illiberal pedigree of federal nullification, which was at the heart of the Confederate secessionist movement of 1861. In the 1960s, segregationists declared that Supreme Court decisions and integration laws did not apply to their states. In some states, local law enforcement refused to cooperate with federal authorities to integrate schools.

What would San Franciscans do if conservative counties and towns followed their lead? Perhaps a rural Wyoming sheriff can now look the other way when he spots a cattleman shooting a federally protected grizzly bear or predatory timber wolf -- or at least shield the cattleman from federal officials. Should public schools in Provo, Utah, start the day with school-wide prayers?

The mayor and sheriff of sanctuary-city San Francisco are kindred spirits with Kentucky county clerks who want to opt out of licensing gay marriages.

Who'da thunk it - urban liberal constituencies leading the way to a modern resurgence of the states rights movement.

October 14, 2015

Home Sweet Home

Mess not with Weld County.

WELD COUNTY, Colo. -- Two burglary suspects in Weld County were arrested late Friday morning after hitting several spots in a couple of towns in the area, and it was all thanks to two locals who used their pistols to scae them into surrendering.

As Bill Whittle says (~4:40) about Plano, TX: "They have a virtual arsenal of AR-15 assault rifles, semi-automatic shotguns, 30.06 hunting rifles, they've got .45s, they have .357s, they have .38s, they have 9mms, they have an assortment of .22s for the kids to practice with . . . they have pointy rocks and sharp sticks!" This can be applied to most of Weld County, though I fear for my little corner, which features the ever green problem of people fleeing Boulder and bringing it all with them.

Gun Rights Posted by John Kranz at 5:17 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

You are in the most important part of the county: The front line with BOCO. Stock up!

Posted by: johngalt at October 15, 2015 1:29 PM
But jk thinks:

Heh. Front lines. Vista Pointe has fallen but I might be able to hold Vista Ridge.

Posted by: jk at October 16, 2015 2:48 PM

All Hail Taranto


But nanobrewer thinks:

Thanks to Google, I read this article and was struck by Taranto's digging out an article by the wily Ryan Lizza an Obama team strategy memo from 2007, which noted:
- She’s driven by political calculation not conviction,
- She embodies trench warfare vs. Republicans,
- She prides herself on working the system, not changing it

Mrs. Clinton’s weaknesses haven’t changed, yet the Lizza report points to the reason why she may yet prove unbeatable for the nomination this time around.

Posted by: nanobrewer at October 17, 2015 12:18 AM

Geraghty on the Debate

Sure, this batch of candidates sounded like a bunch of loons. They contended socialism is mostly about standing up to the richest one percent and promoting entrepreneurialism and small business; climate change is the biggest national-security threat facing the nation; college education should be free for everyone; all lives don’t matter, black lives do; and Obama is simultaneously an enormously successful president in managing the economy and the middle class is collapsing and there’s a need for a "New New Deal" which is in fact an Old Old Idea, considering how FDR called for a Second New Deal in 1935.

Eco Ruh Roh

An "unfortunate truth" happened on the way to proving anthropogenic global warming "believers" are more likely to take actions to mitigate wildfire in the UFI (urban-forest interface) - scientists proved the opposite.

Respondents in the study were placed on a continuum from 'believer' to 'skeptic' based on their attitudes about the degree to which climate change affects wildfire risk in Colorado. Although over half of the study respondents agreed that climate change has increased wildfire risk in the state, those respondents were not necessarily more likely to take action on their private property to mitigate potential damage from future blazes.

The researchers did, however, find a correlation between climate change denial and risk mitigation actions.

"A small but distinct portion of respondents who reject climate science as a 'hoax' are also the ones who reported doing significantly more risk mitigation activities than other respondents," said Hannah Brenkert-Smith, a research associate in the Institute of Behavioral Sciences at CU-Boulder and lead author of the study.

The findings suggest that attitudes and actions related to climate change and risk mitigation are more nuanced than they are often portrayed in the media, and that focusing on locally relevant hazards may be a more useful tool for educating and galvanizing residents in fire-prone areas of Colorado.

"The conventional wisdom that a belief about climate change is a pre-requisite for mitigating local climate change impacts was not found in this analysis," said study co-author Patricia Champ of the U.S. Forest Service's Rocky Mountain Research Station. "This was a bit of a surprise."

Raise your hand if you're surprised.

I'm proud of my alma mater for publishing this study report, showing that their "conventional wisdom" is anything but.

But jk thinks:

Sacre bleu!

Posted by: jk at October 14, 2015 5:11 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

I also caught the story about the French weatherman. Proof positive that Dylan was right: you don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.

Or to quote a famous fictional French character who understood the connection between weather and political expediency: "I blow with the wind, and the prevailing wind happens to be from Vichy."

Posted by: Keith Arnold at October 14, 2015 5:55 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Did anyone else catch the other curiosity from the CU paper?

Respondents in the study were placed on a continuum from 'believer' to 'skeptic' ...

We've been media-conditioned to react to the 'skeptic' negatively. But as we learned from UC Berkeley yesterday, science relies on a balance between skepticism and openness to new ideas." And do the supposedly scientific-minded warmists, who disparage religionists, really want to be known as 'believers?'

Posted by: johngalt at October 14, 2015 6:28 PM

Give George Soros your email address!

Sign it:

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

Uhhh, I thought Soros was anti-GMO?

Here's what the other side has to say:

The appeal to emotions and sickly children diverts from the real threat Golden Rice poses to the very people it claims to be helping. People who grow rice, grow it to sell to markets. These markets are well-developed, based on indigenous agricultural technology and tradition, and linked to export markets with stringent requirements (many of which restrict or outright ban GMO). The introduction of GM rice for any reason, would threaten or potentially destroy the livelihood of hundreds of millions of people.

But, why? The author can't just say it out loud, but I can: Because the anti-GMO lobby has been so successful in cajoling export markets into restricting or banning GMOs. If the majority of the world's rice crops become GMO, the markets will have no choice but to drop their prohibition of GMO rice (and on every other GMO crop thereafter, once the light has been switched onto the bogeyman.)

I have to chuckle at the author invoking capitalism as the reason why Golden Rice is the "scourge of Asia." And to his reactionary stance:

The author, in their [sic] attempt to defend Golden Rice, reveals the true agenda behind the otherwise useless crop. Governments, international organizations and the private sector (i.e. Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer) will flood Asia with Golden Rice, where it will intermingle and contaminate rice species that have been in use for centuries and form the foundation of Asia's historical and modern agricultural industry.

The multinational "private sector" bashing, however, is par for the course.

Posted by: johngalt at October 14, 2015 2:50 PM

Quote of the Day

From a decent article on the Middle East meltdown in the American Interest, which gently pontificates with MSM's best lambent lighting, on how bad things are always Unexpected when a Democrat is found to be at the teller.

President Obama may be the high school principal and Putin nothing more than a juvenile delinquent, but the school walls are covered with graffiti, the principal is being mocked as a loser by both teachers and students, his car has been egged, and he’s got a “Kick Me” sign taped to his back.

The forces of chaos are on the move, Obama is mugging (and prevaricating, like he was on 60 Minutes) and the media are casting about to equivocate (tactically, making smoke so smoking guns can't be found until after the election). In related news, establishment media are citing HRC as the winner of the first Democrat debate, though Byron York isn't so sure.

On top of the MSM's attempt to inflate Obama's increasingly pathetic narrative that he terms leadership (and with credit, some pushback from a normally pushover 60 Minutes)

that [Russia and Iran] had to [send troops to Syria] is not an indication of strength, it’s an indication that their strategy did not work
from "leading from behind" to it's latest iteration "deconflicting." Left unsaid is how Obama wouldn't recognize a strategy if someone put the Marshall Plan in his golf cart seat.

Academia has already begun airing out theories to help the Anti-Americaness of Obama seem normal, cool and even, well, intelligent

What neither the Iranians and especially the Russians seem to be taking sufficiently into account is that a commitment to prop up the Assad regime can easily become costly, futile, and counterproductively dangerous

I don't want to mix topics, but York's article on the Bern crowd made me worried about the Millennial buy-in on DAWG ... so let me propose a runner up for QotD:

a weekend from Hell for President Obama’s Middle East policy. Yet the President seems undismayed; he has resolved to stay the course. This is the most unsettling news of all.

But johngalt thinks:

"Obama wouldn't recognize a strategy if someone put the Marshall Plan in his golf cart seat."


In fairness to POTUS though, he would probably recognize it if it also appeared in a Cloward and Piven book.

Posted by: johngalt at October 14, 2015 3:02 PM

October 13, 2015

Quote of the Day

Then this past August, a Platte River Networks employee wrote to a coworker that he was, "Starting to think this whole thing really is covering up some shaddy (sic) s**t." -- CNN
It's fairly incestuous around here and I know a guy who knows the Platte River CEO really well. No doubt he's faced tougher journalists than this humble blogger, but who knows, maybe a few beers, he might spill...
But Terri thinks:

You go for it and I'll cover those beers!

Posted by: Terri at October 14, 2015 10:43 AM

Tweet of the Day

Hat-tip: Taranto

But nanobrewer thinks:

It ran unsecured MS Desktop, but it was wiped clean with green-friendly wipes every day....

AP has a report that says:

a hacker using a computer in Serbia “scanned Clinton’s basement server in Chappaqua at least twice, in August and December 2012.″ The server identified itself as providing email services for clintonemail.com.


Cue the Ramirez Cartoon "Who can name a single accomplishment of Hillary Clinton?" {China, Russia and ISIS are all raising their hands}

Posted by: nanobrewer at October 14, 2015 12:08 AM

October 12, 2015

Quote of the Day

From the comments section of a City Journal article by Scott Johnson on the new movie "Truth."

Why the blather of Rather? Where's the contrite to Cronkite? Another medium tedium.

with an entry for Miss Congeniality, noting Mr. Rather's comments in a NYT panel that convened to shill for the movie :

If Rathergate's mistakes were "within the normal range of journalistic bungle" then they've just agreed that virtually all of journalism is bunk. Is that what they mean to say?

Saudi Oil Manipulation in the Texas Briar Patch

Remember when Saudi Arabia announced that they were going to keep oil production high to depress prices and, by their calculation, undercut the U.S. oil boom?

What the Saudis and the naysayers closer to home seem to have forgotten is that the free market is the greatest incubator of technological innovation. Energy producers in this country have gauged the challenges of lower prices, are working to tackle them, and it’s paying off. …

OPEC’s gamble to kill American innovation was a short-term strategy without an endgame, and no appreciation of how the strategy would spur greater efficiencies and innovation in the U.S. Call this a gentle reminder: It is never wise to bet against capitalism, especially in Texas.

Unfortunately for the Saudis, they don't understand the power of innovation and free markets. Perhaps that's because President Eisenhower gave them the innovation of American and British countries in the 1950's, and they haven't had to innovate for themselves since... ever.

The linked piece is another fine article brought to us by Opportunity Lives.

'Climate Wars' destroying Science

I know I'm preaching to the choir here, but cannot ever enough praise or repeat Matt Ridley (5th Viscount Ridley, DL, FRSL, FMedSci).

insist that there are only two ways of thinking about climate change—that it’s real, man-made and dangerous (the right way), or that it’s not happening (the wrong way). But this is a false dichotomy. There is a third possibility: that it’s real, partly man-made and not dangerous. This is the “lukewarmer” school, and I am happy to put myself in this category.

Here is a long article, but worth reading, and is probably more manifesto than primer for the lukewarmer school of thought. He relates broadly and deeply the worst ravages on the scientific of the warmatista's:
the 97 % canard (a card relentlessly played in front Sen. Cruz not long ago), noting

A more recent poll of 1854 members of the American Meteorological Society found the true number is 52 per cent.
the many adjustments to raw temperature data (always in one direction), and the awful witch hunts for the truthtellers being trammeled by the bought-out and big NGO moneyed interests.

I like his breezy run through of Lysenkoism and the low-fat fiasco, and the pitching of reasonable books like Climate Change: The Facts.

He cites old slimies, like Lewandowsky, Pachauri and Phil Jones:

“Bottom line: the ‘no upward trend’ has to continue for a total of 15 years before we get worried.”
and new friends and scholars like Jennifer Marohasy, fellow zoologist Susan Crockford who exposed the polar bear alarmism,and Garth Paltridge:
We have at least to consider the possibility that the scientific establishment behind the global warming issue has been drawn into the trap of seriously overstating the climate problem—or, what is much the same thing, of seriously understating the uncertainties associated with the climate problem—in its effort to promote the cause.

All in all, an excellent and even witty read.

But johngalt thinks:

At least he didn't try to use "codpieced" in a sentence.

Posted by: johngalt at October 12, 2015 6:31 PM
But jk thinks:

Bob's Your Uncle, old chap!

Very very good article and a perfect dovetail for Mark Steyn's A Disgrace to the Profession.

Posted by: jk at October 12, 2015 7:08 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

In fact when Ridley mentioned _The Facts_ I mistakenly thought he was referring to Steyn's book.

Posted by: nanobrewer at October 13, 2015 11:03 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I think I mused about the harm that the Warmistmongering is doing to the scientific profession some years ago on these pages, although an evidentiary link eludes me at the moment.

Let's compare "today's climate science" according to Ridley with several of the 7 "aspects of the nature of science" according to the Understanding Science team at Cal Berkeley:

Today's climate science, as Ian Plimer points out in his chapter in The Facts, is based on a "pre-ordained conclusion, huge bodies of evidence are ignored and analytical procedures are treated as evidence". Funds are not available to investigate alternative theories. Those who express even the mildest doubts about dangerous climate change are ostracised, accused of being in the pay of fossil-fuel interests or starved of funds; those who take money from green pressure groups and make wildly exaggerated statements are showered with rewards and treated by the media as neutral. [emphasis mine]

But the academically correct nature of science requires that:

•Scientists actively seek evidence to test their ideas — even if the test is difficult. They strive to describe and perform the tests that would prove their ideas wrong and/or allow others to do so.

•Scientists take into account all the available evidence when deciding whether to accept an idea or not — even if that means giving up a favorite hypothesis.

•Science relies on a balance between skepticism and openness to new ideas.

Does the Berkeley 'Understanding Science Team' really mean to suggest that a truly scientific person exhibits *gasp* skepticism?

Yes. Yes, I think they do. That is the science I was taught, anyway.

And "today's climate science" sure seems to have more in common with the so-called "cold fusion" junk science than the time honored tradition of objective science.

Posted by: johngalt at October 13, 2015 2:50 PM
But jk thinks:

Koch Brothers shills, all of you! (Hey, do you like the new envelopes the checks come in? I thought it looked pretty cool but the lovely bride said that hers was difficult to open.)

Posted by: jk at October 13, 2015 6:53 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Luddites. Mine is direct deposit.

Posted by: johngalt at October 13, 2015 6:56 PM

October 11, 2015

Review Corner

Pythagoras also discovered, in the laws of stringed instruments, simple and surprising relationships between numbers and musical harmony. That discovery completes a trinity, Mind-Matter-Beauty, with Number as the linking thread. Heady stuff! It led Pythagoras to surmise that All Things Are Number. With these discoveries and speculations, our Question comes to life.
I can see a lot of ThreeSourcers' enjoying Frank Wilczek's A Beautiful Question: Finding Nature's Deep Design. If we start a book club, it would be a good assignment as everybody would enjoy it, but everyone would be offended by different parts.

Wilczek carefully avoids serious speculation on whether a supra-worldy intelligence underlies the cosmic design, but he ponders -- in depth -- whether the design is cohesive and possesses underlying beauty. He starts with Pythagoras and Platonic Solids and continues beyond Quantum Theory.

The Core Theory embodies beautiful ideas. The equations for atoms and light are, almost literally, the same equations that govern musical instruments and sound. A handful of elegant designs support Nature's exuberant construction, from simple building blocks, of the material world.

I think everyone should buy and begin this book, but warn that not everybody will finish it. There's no prerequisite knowledge, but as you get into the later chapters, you'll need either a basic background in Physics and Cosmology or immense patience layering unfamiliar concepts. Aficionados will find both new concepts and interesting connections to philosophy. The book also includes a "Terms of Art" section -- almost as long as the main book --with additional explanations and deeper considerations.

I'm less qualified to grade the philosophy, but the Nobel Laureate seems to have some serious chops there as well. Some people I know might object to his soft spot for the Platonic. He spends more time tethering beauty to Platonic mysticism than he does bringing quantum discontinuity into Aristotelian reality.

Why did Plato, in seeking ultimate truth, turn inward, away from the physical world? Part of the reason, no doubt, was that he loved his theories too much, and could not bring himself to contemplate their possible failure. That all-too-human attitude is still with us-- it is standard in politics, common in social sciences, and not unknown even in physics.

Yet he is an objective referee.
Mathematical astronomers responded to that challenge by putting the (hypothetical) circular paths of the planets into circular motion. That still didn't quite work, so they put the circles of motion of the circular paths of the planets into circular motion. . . . With enough of these cycles upon cycles, artfully arranged, it is possible to reproduce appearances. But in those complicated, manifestly artificial systems, the initial promise of purity and beauty was lost. One could have either beauty or truth, but not both at once.

Wilczek seeks both and has produced beautiful book. Nobody loves the Kindle more than Review Corner. But the friend who recommended this book recommended that I but the hardcover, both to access teh graphical content and to enjoy the large section of beautiful "Plates" where the author entwines classical art and modern physics. I, of course, ignored this directive but pass it along and underscore it.
Heinrich Hertz died in 1894, at the age of thirty-six. But before he died, he wrote this beautiful tribute to the Maxwell equations that gets to the heart of our Question
One cannot escape the feeling that these mathematical formulae have an independent existence and an intelligence of their own, that they are wiser than we are, wiser even than their discoverers, that we get more out of them than was originally put into them.

Five stars without question.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 10:15 AM | What do you think? [0]

October 9, 2015

The birth of other-loathing

Perhaps it's a re-birth, I'm not sure. Has there been another period in history when an anti-humanity movement was so large and so popular? The Dark Ages perhaps.

Yesterday I was asked by a colleague, "Why don't we use more nuclear power?"

"Honestly" said I, "I think it is because there is such a powerful movement to limit the available resources in order to limit the growth and prosperity of the human race."

That movement is called "global environmentalism" and, according to its Amazon summary, the book that launched the movement is called 'Limits to Growth' - Donella H. Meadows, October 1, 1972.

The headline-making report on the imminent global disaster facing humanity - and what we can do about it before time runs out. The book that launched the environmental movement globally.

First on the list of prescriptions, as explained in an editorial review of "The 30-Year Update" version, is fewer people, doing less.

The authors demonstrate that the most critical areas needing immediate attention are: population; wasteful, inefficient growth; and pollution. They show how attention to all three simultaneously can result in returning the human footprint on the environment to manageable, sustainable size, while sharply reducing the disparity between human well-being and fostering a generous quality-of-life worldwide. Absent this, the prospects are grim indeed.

How grim? RCP's William Tucker explains in 'Dealing With Abundance.'

In fact we're doing quite well as far as resources are concerned. Nobody talks about "running out of anything" anymore. The one place where doomsayers would argue that we have overshot is in the creation of carbon dioxide byproducts in the atmosphere that are going to lead to global warming.


While this is a matter of concern, once again it is not out of the reach of our technology. Glenn Seaborg, one of the pioneers of nuclear energy, used to say that "nuclear power has come along at exactly the right time because we were beginning to reach the limits of fossil fuels." He was talking both about the problem of supplies and the pollution effects of these technologies but he could have been talking about global warming as well.

So the choice is apparent: Is the path to "a generous quality of life worldwide" in the direction of science, technology, and safe, non-polluting and nearly limitless nuclear power, or through "disfiguring the entire face of the earth with low-density energy collectors such as windmills and solar panels?"

The answer depends on your bias. Do you want to limit the population, or make it prosperous? Do you love and respect yourself, and therefore others, or do you loathe successful people because, deep inside, your self-image is that of a dirty little beast?

Are you a man, or a mediocrity?

But Jk thinks:

I was just a pup in '72, but I really remember Fitzpatrick Sale's Human Scale. Everybody I knew bought into that. Most still do.

Posted by: Jk at October 9, 2015 4:18 PM
But Jk thinks:

Solutions are extant. (Ht insty)

Posted by: Jk at October 9, 2015 4:22 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

I wasn't alive back before the roaring 20's, but I'll nominate the eugenics movement that peaked (in America) with the bankrolling (by Carnegie, Rockefeller and Harriman) of Sanger's American Birth Control League in 1921 which was supported by AG Bell, POTUS/28 (Wilson), and by a supreme court justice I can't find (Holmes?).

Three acts are cited by Wiki:
1. Sterilization in Indiana (1907)
2. "AN ACT to authorize and provide for the sterilization of feeble-minded (including idiots, imbeciles and morons), epileptics, rapists, certain criminals and other defectives" (NJ, 1911; signed by Gov. W. Wilson and overturned in 1913)
3. Racial Integrity Act of 1924 (VA)

Fitter Family and Better Baby contests were held by the Red Cross. By the mid-30's Nazi Germany were sterilizing 5000/month. California led the US in forced sterilization....

A 1937 Fortune magazine poll found that 2/3 of respondents supported eugenic sterilization of "mental defectives", 63% supported sterilization of criminals, and only 15% opposed both.

Posted by: nanobrewer at October 10, 2015 2:28 AM
But jk thinks:

Justice Holmes famously said "Three generations of imbeciles are enough" in Buck v Bell.

Yet, Buck v Bell never seems to find its way into teh infamous list as frequently as Dred Scott, Plessy, or Korematsu.

Posted by: jk at October 10, 2015 7:25 PM

October 8, 2015

Driverless Cars - Oh the Inhumanity

James Lileks takes to NRO to vent about idiot millennials who "want to ban human drivers ASAP." It is a steak and potato dinner dripping with awesome sauce that you should read start to end, but I'll give you an appetizer.

It is not enough to welcome the possibilities and opportunities of self-driving cars. The old order must be swept away, because go f*** a tailpipe. The pleasures of driving must be dumped in the dustbin with other pleasures of life that have fallen out of favor, like pie or a cigar, because go f*** a tailpipe. We need a BAN and we need Laws enforced by officers of the state with guns, and by the way, f*** the police and guns are bad, but we'll be fine with cops pulling black people over 24/7 because driving your own car is now probable cause, because go f*** a tailpipe.

And then tell me if you're still good with your car having a "Controls-that-I-can-use-ectomy."

But Keith Arnold thinks:

I'm with Lileks. Besides, I'm addicted as it is to the awe and wonder on the faces of people who see that my car has a clutch pedal and a manual shifter; if I'm not surrendering those controls, I'm sure as heck not surrendering my steering wheel.

And I can parallel park in one pass. There are only two other Californians I know who can say that.

Cold, dead hands, my friends. Cold, dead hands.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at October 8, 2015 5:19 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Joey Chitwood and ...?

Posted by: johngalt at October 9, 2015 11:41 AM
But Jk thinks:

Well, my friends on the left love to discredit Liberty by quoting some goofball White supremacist.

This goofball anti-humanist can be as wrong as pants on a trout -- and is -- but I remain a huge fan of autonomous vehicles. We've been through it before, but this is a productivity boost on the order of women entering the workforce.

Keep the 'Cuda, practice your parking, I'm ready. One downside: without the 35,000 needless deaths, gun rights advocates will lose a convenient talking point.

Posted by: Jk at October 9, 2015 4:13 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I agree that a self-driving feature is good, but it is just that - a feature. Not a replacement for the sentient being in the driver's seat. We've been through this part before too... this is the first evidence I've seen of any intent to BAN human drivers.

I'm also pretty sure your overstating the productivity benefit. Likely that extra time will be used for leisure more often than "workin' for the man." And women in the workplace nearly doubled the workforce. That's a big productivity boost. But this is a tangent. The salient point is - "Wham! Down comes another tranche of glorious laws to forbid people from manipulating their own possessions in a manner that suits them."

Posted by: johngalt at October 9, 2015 5:55 PM
But jk thinks:

I of course object to "ban drivers;" it's the first I've heard it as well. Here's to keeping the choices to own and drive or not.

Brother jg, neo-Calvinist! Fearing the plebes will devote newly acquired productive time to leisure and not toil. I'd suggest that leisure can be economic activity and that anything is likely better than sitting in traffic, searching for parking.

The comparison to women is perhaps extended but not overwrought. Some were working already, some did not, and teh transition was gradual. I don't see a 50% overnight boost either in the rear-view mirror, or out teh windshield of my futuristic but emasculated Google-bug.

Posted by: jk at October 11, 2015 12:02 PM

Makeup of the HFC

The HFC or "House Freedom Caucus" of about 40 Republican U.S. Congressmen has been called "The Shutdown Caucus" by detractors.

They say their policy positions -- drastic reductions in the size of government and lower taxes -- are repeatedly undercut by the unwillingness of Republican leaders to contemplate using their ultimate weapon, the power of the purse, to force a government shutdown. Rather than trying to get past the paralysis, Mr. Stutzman and his allies want to use it to maximum effect.

But just who are these "hard-line" people? Who do they represent? Where do they come from? Must be from the deep south, right? Wrong. Or the wild, wild west, right? Wrong. Yes, there seems to be a high density in Arizona - California refugees, no doubt - but the density of known HFC members (there is no official membership list for this "shadowy" group) is much lower west of the Mississippi than to the east, and roughly equal between north and south.

Keep this in mind the next time someone calls them cowboys or hillbillies.

"It's easy to dismiss us as the knuckle-dragging, Cro-Magnon, Tea Party group," Mr. Mulvaney said. "Nothing could be further from the truth."

Several have Ivy League credentials, law degrees or were successful in business before winning elections.

Politics Posted by JohnGalt at 4:32 PM | What do you think? [3]
But nanobrewer thinks:

Anybody labeled "Hard Line" by the NYT is a friend of mine! Worth repeating: Ken Buck (CO-4) is our contribution.

Interestingly, P. Mirgenoff of PowerLine does not see Paul Ryan [58%] as being a good candidate for speaker (not even mentioning Boehner's rumored urging):

he appeared at a pro-amnesty rally alongside liberal Democrat Luis Gutierrez, the most strident amnesty monger in the House. In addition, he pitched the alleged economic benefits of amnesty to his House colleagues.

Posted by: nanobrewer at October 9, 2015 12:25 AM
But johngalt thinks:

2 questions for nb:

What is your definition of "amnesty?"

What is your problem with it?

Posted by: johngalt at October 9, 2015 11:43 AM
But nanobrewer thinks:

1. the immediate cessation of any prosecution of the transgressions of illegal immigrants.

2. mainly, that since we don't yet have control on our southern border, that it's a major greasing the skids on the process of wrecking the US of A.

Posted by: nanobrewer at October 10, 2015 2:36 AM

The stumble party bumbles

I don't like calling the GOP the stupid party, especially while Biden, Boxer, DeGette, McDermott and Waters live, bloviate & regulate (alphabetically, not by IQ). Even if we consent to agree the Democrats be labeled the corrupt party, especially with their vaunted leader: Her Royal Corruptness.

Still, this week nearly made me give that up. So, I researched the news on McCarthy's gaffe on Hannity; which upon analysis appears to more a tool for Sturm und Drang agitators like Steinberg and Morris than a complete meltdown that requires the services of a "political strategist and analyst" like Steinberg to find a new speaker (nudge, nudge). Here's what the presumptive Speaker said:

... a conservative speaker, that takes a conservative Congress, that puts a strategy to fight and win. And let me give you one example. Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she’s un-trustable. But no one would have known any of that had happened, had we not fought and made that happen.

Geraghty for once goes for understatement; "heck of a start." Even Gowdy stayed with "Just wrong, Kevin" while Politico tried to fan the flames with a splashy, "Gowdy Slams McCarthy" headline.

So, handing ammunition to the opposition is still going to be part of the Speaker's schtick... lovely. At least this unforced error took place during a time when the collateral effect was minimal; let's hope he learns and this leads impetus to the HFC's efforts to get a solid conservative [note: McCarthy's Heritage rating is 60%... pretty decent for a pretty-boy] into the leader's position.

That apparently is the thrust of the vote for Duncan Hunter [83%] for Speaker: to show the GOP caucus how many votes HFC commands, in order to build support for their choice for Majority Leader.

Let's hope... I still like McClintock [90%]

But Keith Arnold thinks:

Not to fuel the fires of gossip or anything, but McCarthy backed up very quickly after Rep. Jones announced that whoever runs for the speakership needs to be untainted by scandal, which rules out McCarthy. Speculation is that his ongoing relationship with a certain Congresswoman from NC might run afoul of that, and he's concerned that it may get revealed publicly.

I think there are maybe six people in the world who know McCarthy but don't know about his alleged intramural relationship, but apparently he was concerned about one of those six finding out.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at October 8, 2015 2:55 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I think the McCarthy withdrawal is simpler than that, KA. The royal guards told him to step aside when it became clear his gaffe was all of the ammunition the HFC needed to block his ascendency. And Boehner abruptly halted the proceedings until they can line up a new fair-haired boy to foist upon the House rabble.

It may not be a successful strategy, but it was better than their alternative.

Posted by: johngalt at October 8, 2015 4:29 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

As this was the first I'd heard of it, I went looking and good god, but the rumors are already flying fast, furious and ugly:

Internet address originating from the Department of Homeland Security was tied to entries made on the Wikipedia pages of North Carolina Rep. Renee Ellmers and California Rep. Kevin McCarthy, alleging that the two Republicans were having an affair.

Daily Caller is no Enquirer and this is spooky stuff... which can "come around" if you get my drift. Either way this is ugly: the presumptive speaker was having an extra-marital affair about which "everybody knew" or he was sneaking around a la John Edwards. I suppose the good is that this (and he) is now "out."

Posted by: nanobrewer at October 8, 2015 11:45 PM
But johngalt thinks:

And that he wasn't having an affair with a Democrat.

Posted by: johngalt at October 9, 2015 11:44 AM
But Jk thinks:

Just watched the Hillary! commercial Rep. McCarthy starred in. I wish he would have spent more time fooling around.


Posted by: Jk at October 9, 2015 4:36 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

Here is a good article about one thing that he powerfully supported, and effectively enacted:

The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program helped 6,252 low-income District students attend parochial or other private or voucher schools.

When President Obama took office, he wanted to end the voucher program, a bugaboo of the teachers’ unions. However, Boehner was able to get it reauthorized and expanded to $20 million in 2011 as part of a budget deal with the White House.

Posted by: nanobrewer at October 10, 2015 2:43 AM

October 7, 2015


Boulder, Bernie: together at last!

Democratic presidential primary candidate Bernie Sanders is holding a rally in Boulder on Saturday, his campaign announced.

The Vermont senator, an Independent who has attracted large crowds in Colorado and other states and who is popular among progressives, plans to hold the rally at Potts Field at the University of Colorado at 2 p.m.

All Hail Taranto!

You can tell me when I've posted too many.


UPDATE: If you have not read Reason's Plastic Bags are Good for You, do yourself a favor.

California Posted by John Kranz at 5:45 PM | What do you think? [1]
But nanobrewer thinks:

You can never over-quote Taranto in my book.

Posted by: nanobrewer at October 7, 2015 11:16 PM

Imagine a Day Without Government

Seeds would not grow, food would not have nutrition, wood would be somehow radioactive or deadly, carpet would rip up our feet!

Hat-tip: Legal Insurrection, The Sierra Club vs. Ted Cruz (worth watching as well)

But johngalt thinks:

No, no, not "rip up our feet." It would have to be "ripped up as soon as it's put down." I'm glad that government is there to guarantee high quality carpeting!! Good carpet is a basic human right.

Posted by: johngalt at October 8, 2015 4:50 PM

O'Reilly's Killing Them

I will not use the phrase "killing it" because that has a powerfully positive connotation, and, as you'll see, this review isn't that positive.

I read Killing Lincoln after it arrived from my Mom's house. It's OK, it really is, but it suffers from two structural problems, neither of which are related to the bombastic persona for which the author is known. Full disclosure is that I don't much care for O'Reilly and never would have spent my own lucre on any of his books, but I figure this is worth noting for the abundance of his titles, and how there is some good, for some readers.

First, the good.
It does an excellent job of setting the historical atmosphere, much of which is probably unknown to the vast majority of our populace who nevertheless responds, when queried, that Lincoln is one of our finest presidents. The book describes without dwelling on the awful devastation and slowly churning demise of the attempt of the southern states to secede from the union; it fairly notes successful military and political leaders (and those who weren't). I also enjoyed the stories of generals, captains and majors leading the final campaign of the American Civil War (aka, the running down and finishing off of Lee's Army of Northern Virginia following their defeat at Petersburg) were friends, colleagues and/or family prior to the war. I loved the detail expended on Grant and Lee, their one meeting prior to Appomattox, and Grant's magnanimity towards Lee and his men.

The book also does an excellent job of relating how this president was not universally liked, even in the North, yet continued to walk about - even in just-conquered Richmond, VA - mostly without escort and how the White House was, as well-filmed in Spielberg's movie, a bit of a mad house with ordinary folks often wandering about.

So, the background is well set, and the detail on the conspiracy and actual killing of POTUS/16 is terrific. Booth gets, as befitting the story, top billing and thorough description for all his positive (charming, resourceful, strong leadership) and negative (tempestuousness, incontinence, massive hatred of Lincoln) attributes. It enjoyably switches - like modern movies - between Grant's large, and narrowly-won campaign to finish off the ANV (with marvelous detail), the minute movements and mood of Lincoln (with few odd extrapolations), and the feverish maneuvers of Booth and those whom he could draw upon, right down to where they went to quaff a few and which choices he had and would make for his final "exit, stage left."

The chase of Booth was well done, even noting the good and bad of "Lafayette C. Baker, a smart but shifty New York detective" (from the Amazon summary) who orchestrated the final capture. He relates without vectoring into the-conspiracy-within territory the curious actions and activities of the one high-cabinet member not targeted (odd, that) in the plot, War Secretary Stanton; and details in gruesome detail the assault on the elderly Secretary of State Seward.

Now, the bad.

1. It's clearly written for a "modern" audience, for which the assumption (sadly, probably quite accurate) is a short attention span and a thirst for salacious details. Chapters are short, sometimes only 2-3 pages, which I found off-putting, and the writing style quite simplistic. As such, it's solid reading for high school, but would hit somewhere between the belt and shins for TS'ers, IMO. Booth's affairs and conquests aren't deeply dwelt upon, and as his fiancee's contacts factor into the conspiracy, they were not merely thrown in for sex appeal.

2. The authors note in the forward that every historical fact was "meticulously researched and verified." So, while this is interesting and does add quite a bit of flavor (ex: only a few DC streets were even paved back then), it suffers a bit from what I call the overly-detailed syndrome, whereby deep details and the wide cast of characters begin to detract from the main narrative. The best example I have for this is the movie "The Tuskagee Airmen" which took an incredibly powerful story of grit, perseverance and bravery, as well as the admirable skills of a range of actors, and managed to mangle it all up into a disappointing damp kleenex-wad of new-age, touchy-feely dreck. Even the flying sequences sucked.... how can you mess up Mustangs vs. Messerschmidts? Still, for many the book's deep-detail and wide scope is probably a plus.

So, while it is billed as 'reading like a spy novel' I found it a fairly tepid, and slow-starting read which admittedly did have several moments that bordered on "thrilling." It is a solid historical effort which taught me more than a few things (who knew how many Booth had targeted? I didn't), and didn't waste a single word on new-age PC themes.

That all being said, a rating:

4 stars ... for high school students (tho' my daughters could handle it by middle school);
3.5 stars .... for family/friends of the low-information ilk who could use a dose of decent, gritty and non-PC history;
2.5 stars ... for me, my friends and other well-read freedom lovers.

Review Corner Posted by nanobrewer at 12:13 PM | What do you think? [0]

October 6, 2015

Barack Obama was right

Islamic State really IS "the JV!"

"Headquarters of terrorist group and an arms depot were destroyed in the region of Ildib, as well as a militant three-level fortified command point in the region of Hama," Moscow's ministry of defense said.

It also said Su-24Ms and Su-25s, aircraft first put in service by the Soviet Union in the 1970s, made eight sorties against the IS targets, and succeeded in avoiding civilian casualties.

Meantime, the U.S. in over a year and three months can't make meaningful gains against IS.

It looks like Vladimir Putin has finally found a use for Secretary of State Clinton's "reset" button. That was easy!

None of this was imaginable before Barack Obama came on the scene. Russia, while clearly ambitious for more global power under Putin, had apparently permanently lost its standing as a global superpower.

It took a U.S. president committed to revolutionary change in America's role in the world to reawaken the Russian bear and provide an opening for Putin's aggression.

When the U.S. fulfills its role as leader in the world, we are criticized, even ridiculed. But we are respected. Putin's Russia is not about to be loved, but it may begin to be greatly respected if it starts doing things that the U.S. is supposed to do but won't.

But jk thinks:

My buddies at Reason and Cato are all onboard the Putin train: let them anger terrorists and disturb ISIS and it is unlikely that they will do a much worse job of picking winners and losers than will President Obama.

My conservative buddies are of course appalled at the lack of US leadership. To their point, I can certainly se this ending badly. But to the libertarians' point, things have occasionally not gone so well in the Middle East with US at the helm.

I'm willing to let them have the run of the place for 16 months. Once President Keith is inaugurated and throws 100% of US support to the Kurds, they'll have to move out or display good intentions.

Posted by: jk at October 7, 2015 10:46 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I agree with you. No matter how many of Putin's Risk(TM) pieces he moves to Syria, he is still hamstrung by his moribund economy. I'm not terribly concerned about Russian global domination.

My point was more about how easy it is to defeat ISIS. Russia claims to have destroyed a "fortified command point" after a grand total of 8 sorties. Meanwhile, our 7000 sorties (per the linked editorial) have produced what, exactly?

It's almost as if the commander in chief has never intended to ultimately defeat, or even degrade, the bright shiny part of the Shiite Islamist adventurism. Meanwhile, the real activity continues apace in Iran - where POTUS makes concessions and subsidizes the Iranian nuke program with $150bn US of our tax dollars.

Posted by: johngalt at October 7, 2015 11:14 AM
But nanobrewer thinks:

Yes, this is an awful muddle that Obama's 'not leading' created (aside: leading from behind is yet another bastardization of our language by the Progs that I refuse to even acknowledge), and now that it's so incredibly FUBAR'd I am _probably_ OK with Russia taking it's swing at things....

I am certainly willing and able to do the 'neener-neener' dance around BHO and hope that this new massively-amplified powerlessness continues to drag the Dem's down (and R's learn to avoid the "ahhh, if only Bush hadn't....").

The worry I have is that Putin succeeds, wildly boosting his sway in the gulf thereby boosting arms sales and gaining some control over oil prices, which would rescue Russian and Iranian economies, of which the immediate affect would be to further drive the Ukraine under his thumb.

Posted by: nanobrewer at October 7, 2015 12:13 PM

October 5, 2015

Money Quotes

While trolling around, looking for nothing in particular, I found Koch brothers, other 2016 mega donors warm to Carly Fiorina. Here are a few quotes from some of the "mega donors."

"We think she's pretty viable." -Broadcasting billionaire Stanley Hubbard, a member of the Koch brothers' network of conservative advocacy groups who donates heavily to political candidates.

"She's good in the room," said one participant at the event, who declined to be named.

"I think she's unflappable," said [Dallas philanthropist Elloine] Clark. "And she doesn't react like an adolescent."

"Can you imagine that face, the president of the United States?" Yes. Yes I can.

But nanobrewer thinks:

Charles and David Koch are also excellent public figures, and welcome the apparently nascent strategy to once-again attempt to make them the boogeyman, in true alinskyite fashion. Note that I don't prefer or encourage such a bogus and blatant attack, just if they gotta play that rule from the radical playbook, I'm glad they've chosen such a staunch and stout target.

Btw, CarlyforAmerica is now out...

Posted by: nanobrewer at October 5, 2015 3:56 PM

October 2, 2015

92% is the new 97%

Fantastic article from the ever-reliable Watts Up With That website (THE go-to place for Climate realism).

An analysis of the U.S. Historical Climatological Network (USHCN) shows that only about 8%-1% (depending on the stage of processing) of the data survives in the climate record as unaltered/estimated data.
is the subtitle.
Author John Goetz carefully navigates a complex web of acronyms USHCN, GHCN, GISS, TOB, NOAA/NCDC (now NCEI) .... and thoroughly examines the ways that data has been adjusted, backfilled, estimated, extrapolated and how
that the U.S. Climate Reference Network, designed from the start to be free of the need for ANY adjustment of data, does not show any trend
NOAA/NCDC (now NCEI) never let this USCRN data see the light of day in a public press release or a State of the Climate report for media consumption, it is relegated to a backroom of their website mission and never mentioned.

I've got a long list of sites (each study is nearly as complex as this one) in a separate folder called "hide the data." Australia, Maine, New Zealand, Paraguy.... to polar bears and ice caps.

This image is the best summary I've found: all the warming is from "models" and now we see that all the past warming is from fudging...


But nanobrewer thinks:

This article as revisits the famous bet between Julian Simon (HOSS-Statistics) and Paul Ehrlich (Phoney - Stanford).

The comments from both this and the WUWT articles are very interesting. The "warmers" who show up are mostly respectful, but robustly doctrinaire and studiously distanced from real data or analysis.

Posted by: nanobrewer at October 2, 2015 2:11 PM
But jk thinks:

Pre-review corner: I ended up reading Mark Steyn's A Disgrace to the Profession this weekend. Steyn collects 100 quotes from prestigious scientists -- most of who are climate change true believers -- discrediting Dr. Michael Mann and his "hockey stick" graph.

Strangely compelling. I got the Kindle sample to kill some time thinking I would just read a few. But, it's pretty difficult to put down. As noted by many of the quoted scientists, the chicanery and heavy-handed politics have badly discredited the branch.

Posted by: jk at October 5, 2015 9:35 AM

Cue the Australia Success Stories

The antidote to your Facebook feed:

No, Australia is not an example of the effectiveness of gun control.

Gun Rights Posted by John Kranz at 11:07 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Did you hear about the concealed handgun carrier who was killed in the Roseburg shooting? That's because there wasn't one.

Posted by: johngalt at October 2, 2015 1:05 PM

Renewable Energy vs. Real Energy

Courtesy of the "Boulder Valley & Northern Colorado Economic Profile & Market Facts" glossy mailer just arrived from BizWest.

On the Energy page, we find that Oil & Gas provided more than 110,000 jobs (5 year averaged trend 6.7% growth) to northern Colorado, whereas the Renewable industry (aka, Vestas) provided 3000 (4.1% growth). One wonders why they didn't include all the various, crunchy solar installation companies... couldn't have hurt the numbers...

Real Energy for real shiny people....

October 1, 2015

All Hail Taranto!

The first All Hail Taranto of October 2015. And you were here:


At least she doesn't get all prickly about it..

Madame Leader, the ice queen. CSPAN

You Say You Want a Revolucion?

I'll talk Socialism all day and all night, you bet. Between Pope Francis and Sen. Sanders (90% tax - VT), it seems to have caché cachet.

Here's my rebuttal. You don't have to read Mises (although you should). Michael Smith does not seem to be a great friend of capitalism, nor is the editor who selects his pull quotes at Bloomberg Business, He describes the cronyism whereby all foreign investment goes through Raul Castro's son-in-law as -- brace yourselves -- " It’s a decidedly capitalist element deeply embedded within socialist Cuba."

I'd suggest the exact opposite, but we have bigger mojitos to encounter.

The article (and this is a most definite read-the-whole-thinger) describes the extreme privation on the island. If your name is not Castro or you're not married to one, you get $24 a month in ration books. Four pounds of chicken and a bag of rice. Little capitalist running dogs try to supplement this by roasting peanuts, stealing cigars, and mending clothes.

With the additional Foreign Direct Investment, even though more than half goes though son-in-law, General Luis Alberto Rodriguez, there is activity and jobs. I remain hopeful that, pacé China, we will see some prosperity to the people in spite of their oppressive government.

As for the fast-arriving future, there are Afro-Cuban jazz clubs, swank private restaurants, and boutique hotels. More tellingly, on street corners within the few, closely controlled, government-sponsored Wi-Fi zones, Cubans by the hundreds sit and stand all day in the tropical sun, clutching phones, tablets, and laptops, eager to take advantage of the first chance many have ever been given to connect.
A small paragraph near the end caught my attention. If I might paraphrase Bill & Ted & PM Thatcher: It sucks to keep running out of other people's money. Soviet Sugar Daddy falls and . . .
By the late 1990s, the Castros had found their savior in Hugo Chávez, the charismatic ex-paratrooper who was elected president of Venezuela on promises to emulate Cuban-style socialism. He quickly flooded Cuba with free oil--up to 115,000 barrels a day. Cuba also cut creative and lucrative deals with other leftist leaders, including Brazil's Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, to send tens of thousands of medical doctors to work abroad. Under the terms of those deals, many of which are still in place, the Cuban government kept up to 90 percent of the doctors' wages.

That "free" oil is stolen, and if the renowned Cuban Physician surplus is anything more than absolute slavery, I'd like to hear it. We send you abroad and keep 90% of your wages. That didn't make into Michael Moore's film, did it?

Anyway, a great article. Hat-tip to blog friend tgreer on Facebook. I commented:

"Adam Smith said were perfect liberty required for a country to be prosperous, no country would ever prosper. I think it's amazing and hopeful to see that a bit of freedom and trade will lift people up, even though they suffer under the yoke of brutal oppression.

Plus you get a rare "way to go, President Obama" out of your wingnut friend."

But nanobrewer thinks:

I lost track of what you were trying to "rebut." The sub-rosa fellating of socialism, I suppose?

I find Smith's article thorough and very well-written. IMO his "stance" on capital and free-markets is agnostic, but completely out-to-lunch on personal freedom, and seemingly bereft of any outrage towards the autocrats; a very bloomberg-y approach.

I do agree the splashy 'pull quotes' are like an Obama speech (rambling, obfuscating the narrative), heh, like a Castro speech? Here would be my pull quotes:

Costs are sky-high for most people
little, 22-page food-rationing booklet, which lists the staples every Cuban can get for next to nothing at government food depots. “No one can live off this”
Casas built GAESA around wringing revenue from the military’s properties and assets.
Cuban justice ministry seized Tri-Star Caribbean’s assets, valued at $20 million.
With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 ... the country was plunged into a crushing four-year contraction known as the Special Period
Vast areas of Havana are little changed from 1959, when Fidel Castro’s bearded guerrilla fighters marched into town
Castro’s government represses dissent, routinely harasses independent journalists and activists, and restricts access to the Internet for the vast majority of Cubans

Two thoughts occurred to me:
1. this editorial 'approach' is probably required to maintain access in Raul's Cuba;
2. (and this covers a range of issues) you'd never see an article like this - lacking in any reference to individual rights - from Investor's Business Daily!

Posted by: nanobrewer at October 1, 2015 12:34 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

Here is what we see on the topic from IBD: "Homer Simpson Could School Obama On Castro"

Obama held a handful of strong cards — including the plunging price of oil and the weakening of potential Cuban patrons from China to Russia to Iran — but instead played the deuce, offering concessions to Castro without getting so much as a pledge of democracy.
Posted by: nanobrewer at October 1, 2015 12:52 PM
But johngalt thinks:

What you call "absolute slavery" imposed on Cuban physicians, our president calls "Brazil's natural human right to free healthcare." Rand Paul, call your office.

Raul Castro demanded this week that America stop broadcasting subversive radio programming into Cuba. I'm happy to replace that with free, island-wide, American Wi-Fi. Then all the happy little Cuban paupers can subscribe to World Workers Party and Marxists.org. That's what they naturally want, right?

And finally, I think you meant 'cachet.'

Posted by: johngalt at October 1, 2015 2:33 PM
But jk thinks:

@nb: add a pull quote about physician slavery and we're in! Plus: $24/month? The extreme poverty interstice in Africa was raised from $1 to $1.50. Middle class Cubans are now poorer that poor Zimbabweans.

I attacked my biological brother with this piece. I'll give him one thing, the dude's a true believer. On some Pope post on FB, he said that "Socialism works quite well for some people in Cuba and Venezuela." Perhaps the presence of the Holy Father kept my tongue at bay, but I did not yell "Yeah, If your name is 'Castro' or 'Chavez!'"

So I looped back with this and got a "We have problems in the US too." (Who is this guy and was I adopted?) But past my Trotskyite sibling, I see Sens. Elizabeth Warren & Bernie Sanders, and the Pope acting as if Socialism was never discredited.

@jg: I did think first of Doctor-Senator Rand Paul: slavery!

And of course you are right. Cachet. As in "the cachet of having a cache of ammunition in your Chevrolet." ThreeSources regrets the error.

Posted by: jk at October 1, 2015 4:04 PM

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