May 31, 2016

Libertario Delenda Est

But Keith Arnold thinks:

Yeah, I saw this when I was catching up on the news this morning before work. There are some interesting pie-in-the-sky utopian ideas that some big-L Libertarian acquaintances of mine have, but this Johnson has now had his four hours:

Second look at Darrell Castle?

Posted by: Keith Arnold at June 1, 2016 12:20 PM
But jk thinks:

I was quite surprised to find a libertario non delenda est editorial in the WSJ. A real live, "Review & Outlook" editorial not a guest by some gadfly.

Mr. Johnson isn't likely to win a state, but he can still play a useful role by reminding the major party candidates that they aren’t the only choices. Mr. Trump seems to think he can say whatever he wants because millions of voters are repelled by Mrs. Clinton. The Libertarians give these voters an honorable alternative if Mr. Trump makes himself unacceptable.

Honorable, it may be, and on a good day even indicative of the liberty vote. But the LP's cause is so mathematically hopeless, it leads to fundamental unseriousness. If my YMCA hockey team were in the Stanley Cup, we could yuck it up, too. No danger of winning.

Posted by: jk at June 1, 2016 1:22 PM
But jk thinks:

I'll be writing in or looking for a Darrell Castle type. Should he find his way onto the ballot in Colorado, I'm in.

Posted by: jk at June 1, 2016 1:25 PM

Start the Popcorn Now!

You're going to want snacks for this. Ten minutes and change of a roomful of lefty MSNBC pundits (Chuck Todd has the token right-wing position as nearly as i can tell...) in absolute sorrow that they cannot find a grain of probity on the beach of Clinton statements.

Hat-tip: Western Free Press

UPDATE (as chaser): USA Today Editorial

But a new report by State's inspector general makes clear that within two years, Clinton's bad decision had turned into something far worse: a threat to national security, one that she repeatedly ignored despite multiple warnings.

Warning No. 1: The report, released last week, reveals that in January 2011, hackers were attacking her private server. Twice, the Hillary and Bill Clinton staffer responsible for maintaining the server had to shut it off to protect data held by America's top diplomat and the former president. The staffer notified State Department officials of the attempted hack, and Clinton’s top aides there emailed each other to say that "sensitive" matters should not be discussed with Clinton over email.

I heard this defense elsewhere: "they turned it off." So no data breach happened. Yeah, I'm sure they recognized the problem and shut down the server before anything bad happened. The IT guy's nickname is "Nanosecond-Ned" for his aplomb with a power switch. Harrumph.

But the USA Today Ed is devastating.

But jk thinks:

If you cannot do ten minutes, at least catch the initial eye roll at 1:20.

Posted by: jk at May 31, 2016 1:56 PM
But jk thinks:

And Andrea Mitchel (known Trump surrogate . . . right) at 3:30 completely trashes the insane "Sec. Colin Powell did it" defense.

Posted by: jk at May 31, 2016 1:58 PM
But jk thinks:

No. Popcorn. Watch it twice.

Posted by: jk at May 31, 2016 2:02 PM

May 30, 2016

Happy Memorial Day

I used to make fun of these people, until l'Affaire Kochiyama.

image.jpg< /a>

May 27, 2016

"This America's for you"

"If political candidates were beer brands" I wrote when Donald still had primary opponents, Donald Trump would be Budweiser.

Unsurprisingly, I'm not the only one who thinks those two brash personalities are a match made in marketing heaven.

From May 23 through the presidential election, Budweiser beer will bear a different name. Eager to do its bit to make America great again, the brewer will replace the name "Budweiser" with "America" on its twelve-ounce bottles and cans.

George Will is quick to note the irony-

Nothing says "It's morning in an America that is back and standing tall" quite like beer cans festooned with Americana by Anheuser-Busch InBev, a firm based in Leuven, Belgium, and run by a Brazilian. The beer brands most familiar to Americans - Budweiser, Miller, Coors - are foreign-owned.

To which I reply, HUZZAH! From Levi's jeans to Air Jordan shoes, the world's consumers have long flocked to American goods. It's only natural that the world's industrialists also flock to ownership of American corporations. (I wonder if the Belgian Donald Trump lectures that Belgian companies should not have large portions of their workforce in exotic overseas lands like U.S.A.?) And it's also fully American, in the truest free-market capitalist, err, trade tested betterment sense of what Americanism really is, that the Busch family would grow the value of a brand and then sell it for an obscene amount of money to whomever in the world valued it the highest.

Will sneers, "Not cheerful" at Bud's brash marketing image. He misses the point. Being an American is about success. There are many words to describe events like the industrial revolution, D-Day, the moon landing and reconstruction of the World Trade Center. "Cheerful" is way down the list.


"America - King of Beers." King of industry. King of you-name-it.

But jk thinks:

F Yeah! A very important aspect of globalism, well stated.

I confess that I did take the liberty of trimming the picture down to the ThreeSources' Style Guide's recommend

Posted by: jk at May 28, 2016 1:29 PM
But jk thinks:

Will also diminishes the institutional advertising beloved by the big brewers. This may be fair, but ten minutes prior to reading his column, I heard my lovely bride listing to the two Bud Super Bowl commercials for the 867,413th time. There has to be some value in that.

Posted by: jk at May 28, 2016 1:36 PM
But johngalt thinks:

That institutional advertising, as maligned as it is by some, concentrates private commercial wealth in a way that facilitates many things that most take for granted - like watching live sports on television without the hassle or expense of buying a ticket. Last I knew, there was no "Dave's Pale Ale Field" or "Sam Adams Stadium" either.

For what it's worth, I consumed three beers yesterday - One imported German Pils, one Bud and a delicious coffee stout from our neighboring state of New Mexico. Diversity! It's the spice of life.

Posted by: johngalt at May 30, 2016 1:15 PM

May 26, 2016

All Hail Taranto!

Shirley, you will permit me an All Hail Taranto on my birthday...


Or maybe it's the FDA...

WSJ Ed Page:

Boys with lethal Duchenne muscular dystrophy have waited years for the Food and Drug Administration to approve a safe and innovative treatment, and they'll have to hold out longer. On Wednesday the FDA delayed a decision on eteplirsen by Sarepta Therapeutics, but the agency can still choose the correct scientific and legal outcome.

Sarepta said FDA had notified the company that a decision would not be issued on Thursday as scheduled. The agency offered no clues beyond promising to finish "internal discussions" and the broader review "in as timely a manner as possible." An FDA advisory panel voted against approval in April, though agency bosses can accept or disregard the input.

It ain't Disney World.

Dumberest Damn Thing Ever.

I was wrong giving the title to the Ivanpah Power plant. Though someday some planet-of-the-apes civilization will find it as mumble "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot."

No, the dumberest thing is the Libertarian Party. Don't take my word for it -- how about the esteemed Aaron Ross Powell? Don't dilute Libertarianism Just to Defeat Donald Trump.

That's the risk for libertarians if Republicans turned off by Trump migrate toward the Libertarian Party and change our ideological center of gravity. In March, the Federalist's Ben Domenech sketched out a scenario where, "If the #NeverTrump people want a protest vote, their best path is a Libertarian takeover, with someone who is Libertarianish on some issues -- pot, prostitution, marriage -- and yet pro-life and pro-religion enough to win over the votes of the holdouts to the Trump machine." Last week, former two-term governor William Weld (R-Ma.) announced that he is teaming up with former two-term governor Gary Johnson (R-N.M.) to contend for the Libertarian nomination when the party convenes in Orlando this weekend. Johnson, of course, was the LP’s nominee in 2012. And Weld's brand of fiscal conservatism, combined with tolerance on social issues, offers, as my Cato Institute colleague David Boaz writes, "a clear alternative to Trump and Clinton." But Weld's record is really that of a moderate Republican.

'Xactly. There are not enough true believers to elect a dog catcher in an off year. To win, you dilute or you lose -- if you're a party. If you're an advocacy organization along the lines of the NRA however, you can keep your soul and move policy.

And you escape the insuperable fundraising needs. Gov. Johnson says we're going to need more money next time.


I saw several pretty strong headlines yesterday about the IG report for Sec. Clinton's email server. Even CNN used strong words. Reading through them, I was not at all certain that there was anything "devastating."

Then I read the WSJ Ed Page's description. Mercy!

The IG--who had better hire a food-taster--also found that Mrs. Clinton neither sought nor received permission for her private communications. The former Secretary also understood the security risks this posed because she was warned several times.

In March 2011 the Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security sent Mrs. Clinton a memorandum that warned of a "dramatic increase" in attempts by "cyber actors to compromise the private home e-mail accounts of senior Department officials," with an eye toward "technical surveillance and possible blackmail."

Following that memo, security staff twice briefed Mrs. Clinton's immediate staff on this threat. A June 2011 cable, sent over Mrs. Clinton's name to all diplomatic and consular posts, warned of this new threat to home accounts, as well as the news that Google had reported cyber attacks on the Gmail accounts of U.S. government employees. Mrs. Clinton and her staff ignored her own warnings.

One official suggested State set up a stand-alone computer for Mrs. Clinton in her office to check the Internet and private email. That never happened. A different official suggested she have two mobile devices--one for personal use and one with a "State Department email account" that would "be subject to [Freedom of Information Act] requests." Her team said no.

As for Mrs. Clinton's claim that her private account was secure, the report cites several instances of techies shutting down her server due to hacking concerns. "Notification is required when a user suspects compromise of, among other things, a personally owned device containing personally identifiable information," says the report. But the IG says it found "no evidence" that Mrs. Clinton or her staff filed such reports.

After that, they stop being so nice.

UPDATE: Right wing nutjobs at the NYTimes pile on: "Voters just don’t trust her."

UPDATE II: (QOTD candidate): "It can charitably be termed scathing, and it leaves no doubt that Team Clinton has lied flagrantly to the public about EmailGate for more than a year." -- John R. Schindler @ Observer

2016 Posted by John Kranz at 11:37 AM | What do you think? [0]

May 25, 2016

Nailed it!

This. A Barton Hinkle makes an important point by marrying conservative distrust of disorder with libertarian distrust for the state monopoly on force.

[Sen. Bernie Sanders:] "Our campaign of course believes in nonviolent change and it goes without saying that I condemn any and all forms of violence, including the personal harassment of individuals."

Which, to be blunt about it, is a crock. Sanders' entire campaign is premised on the idea of violent change--lots of it. His supporters just want someone else to do the dirty work.

Sanders proposes hiking the minimum wage to $15 an hour, which is another way of saying he wants to make it illegal for employers to pay workers less than $15 an hour--even when there are workers who are willing to take less. He also proposes to make employers provide 12 weeks paid family and medical leave, two weeks of paid vacation, and seven paid sick days.

How is he going to achieve all that? By changing the law and then enforcing it. Note the root of the word "enforce." If a company chooses not to comply the consequences will, eventually, entail the use of armed officers of the law.

Internet Segue Machine

ONE: Colorado folk should please, please, please watch Poverty, Inc. on Channel 12 tonight at 7PM. Outside folks, buy or rent it on Amazon and I will pay you back.

TWO: I remain suspicious of the medium. It is powerful, but there is a Leni Riefenstahl edge. I growl when I watch Michael Moore, or the bozos on 60 Minutes. Am I certain that the ones I like -- like Poverty, Ivc. and Mine Your Own Business -- are totally above such tricks?

Katoe Couric, you'll be unsurprised to hear is not.

THREE: Post-viewing question. I have become a big fan of Raising Men Lawn Care. A couple of college students in my Daddy's home town of Huntsville, Alabama started mowing lawns of the elderly and disabled at no charge.

They recruited young men to help and pass out T-Shirts modeled on the belt system of martial arts: mow a lawn, get a white T-shirt, ten for a yellow, 25 for a blue, &c. Hence, they are "Raising Men" and helping the community. No government jack, Briggs & Stratton donated several mowers and now they are starting outside chapters and many organizations are donating mowers. It's really taking off and I've watched it grow following them on Facebook.

But. At a certain level, pace Poverty, Inc., are they shutting down the dreams of a young person who might wish to start mowing for money?

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 6:03 PM | What do you think? [5]
But Keith Arnold thinks:

I don't know about young people mowing lawns for hire, but then, I'm in California, and that's simply not done. I think it's been twenty years since the last time I saw a minor with his hands on a mower. I mow my own (but with our drought, it's not like it's a lot of work; what's left of my St. Augustine looks a lot like Bruce Willis' head, and has only needed a date with the mower twice so far this year), and everyone else I know pays Someone Doing The Jobs Americans Won't Do.

I've been following your posts on Raising Men, and I like what they're doing so much that if they were in my neighborhood, I'd contribute money to their cause.

In return for mowing, of course.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at May 25, 2016 6:46 PM
But jk thinks:

Probably living in the past again.

Shovelling. The customer plans for lawn care, but the teenager with a shovel enjoys near-monopsony pricing power. Perhaps Governor Brown will start a pilot government program in LA. Or around Ivanpah.

Posted by: jk at May 25, 2016 6:53 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Perhaps an apprenticeship, shoveling coal on the Train to Nowhere.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at May 25, 2016 7:24 PM
But Jk thinks:


Posted by: Jk at May 25, 2016 9:10 PM
But jk thinks:

That was really funny in a horrible, i hope nothing like that ever happens again sort of way.

I got a few people to tune in between here and Facebook. EVen though I own the movie, I thought I'd experience it simultaneously with my friends -- kind of like "Sharknado."

Sharknado I wish. The film shown was named Poverty, Inc. but it was NOT Poverty, Inc. The film I was expecting (and the one in the link) takes a serious look at unintended consequences of big deal, NGO, and institutionalized charity. Poor farmers and aspiring entrepreneurs are frequently squashed by well meaning AID programs. And the culture of dependence and implied inferiority is underappreciated by the do-gooders. It is really, really good and you should buy or rent it on Amazon. No, it is not free on Netflix. Get over it.

The movie with the same title was so intensely horrid, it will be difficult to describe. "Oh you know how jk exaggerates..." No it was bad. Occasionally, Sec. Robert Reich came on to give his opinion about the conspiracy theory on the minute . . . and those were the sensical moments of the film.

I promised a beer or cappuccino to anyone of my Facebook friends who viewed it on my responsibility. It's not enough, but atonement is a process.

Posted by: jk at May 26, 2016 12:16 PM

Dumbest Damn Thing Ever

Well, there's California's Train to Whenever, and Denver's very important train to the plane which has some issues. But I nominate the Ivanpah Power Plant as Dumbest Damn Thing Ever.

Not just because it is on fire. Not just because it has missed all expectations. Because -- like the gorram trains -- it has no flexibility:

Ivanpah's biggest problem, though, is hard economics. When the plant was just a proposal in 2007, the cost of electricity made using Ivanpah's concentrated solar power was roughly the same as that from photovoltaic solar panels. Since then, the cost of electricity from photovoltaic solar panels has plummeted to 6 cents per kilowatt-hour (compared to 15 to 20 cents for concentrated solar power) as materials have gotten cheaper. "You're not going to see the same thing with concentrated solar power plants because it's mostly just a big steel and glass project," says Schultz. It can only get so much cheaper.

Photovoltaic solar systems also have the advantage of scaling up or down easily. You can have one panel on your roof or the airport can have 100, and electricity can be made where it's used. But for concentrated solar power plants, you need a huge tract of empty land. Ivanpah has 173,500 garage door-sized sets of mirrors spread over 3,500 acres. Each mirror has a motor controlled by a computer, which angles the reflective surface to track the location of the sun.

Isn't Ivanpah the name of one of Donald Trump's smoking hot daughters?

Oil and Energy Posted by John Kranz at 12:01 PM | What do you think? [3]
But jk thinks:

Hayek vs. Keynes in a nutshell. Do you build the giant, expensive, and immovable object because you know what the world will look like in ten years, or do you put faith in spontaneous order and distributed knowledge organization?

Posted by: jk at May 25, 2016 5:21 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Emphasis on "smoking hot." I've driven past the Ivanpah plant many, many times, and it is a spectacle, a veritable sight to behold. I've never had the privilege of seeing a "streamer" -- a passing bird suddenly erupting into flames on the fly, leaving a smoke trail of burning feathers worthy of Michael Jackson's ill-fated soda commercial or Richard Pryor's infamous 1980 experiment with cognac and freebasing, and serving itself up medium-well on one of the mirrors -- but I'm told from those who have that it's a jaw-dropping sight.

Much more exciting to watch than your average wind-farm bird blender.

And at just $2.2 billion, it's a steal at half the price. I understand it's currently operating at just one-third capacity, due to a combination of the present conflagration, bad planning, and something called "scheduled maintenance."

Posted by: Keith Arnold at May 25, 2016 6:36 PM
But jk thinks:

As the man said: "Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius."

Posted by: jk at May 25, 2016 6:42 PM

Quote of the Day

Pick your metaphor: The Iran-Iraq War, the South Park school mascot contest, Hobson's choice, a Cowboys-Patriots game. In a scenario with no good choices, how fair is it to denounce somebody for making a different calculation for what's less bad? -- Jim Geraghty [subscribe]
2016 Posted by John Kranz at 11:31 AM | What do you think? [1]
But Keith Arnold thinks:

"Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius."

At least, that was the reaction I had when I saw the news from Albuquerque, with rioters hurling fire and breaking glass doors at a Trump rally.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at May 25, 2016 12:17 PM

May 24, 2016

NYTimes's Token Conservative

Gotta love David Brooks. The NYTimes's idea of a conservative. One of my favorite memes begins with "Even the NYTimes conservative columnist David Brooks says...

Neither Jonah Goldberg nor James Taranto could lay off his recent column. Gosh, darn it, Mister Conservative just cannot see why people do not like Sec. Hillary Clinton. "She works too hard, perhaps. She doesn't have enough hobbies." Gosh I just can't figure it...

Jonah gets first blood:

With all due respect to Brooks, this is some mighty weak sauce. Frankly, the idea that someone as smart as Brooks could think Clinton's unpopularity is a deep and impenetrable mystery is the real mystery here. And the suggestion that if she had more hobbies, people would like her more is pretty hilarious. Break out the Hummel collection! Brooks even notes that we know Obama's hobbies -- has that helped his popularity? Do his poll numbers go up after every golf outing?

James's publishing schedule postpones his response, but he is on point:
To summarize, she's unpopular because she doesn't have any hobbies. It follows that if she hadn't deleted those yoga emails, she would be all but universally beloved.

That's gotta sting a bit.

But johngalt thinks:

Hillary Clinton is the very embodiment of every man's worst fear for a mother-in-law. Can you imagine that cackle in your castle? There would never be a happy Thanksgiving again!

Posted by: johngalt at May 24, 2016 5:32 PM
But jk thinks:

I'll have to post a Vine or something. Your blog brother does a great imitation of the Dowager Empress of Chappaqua's Mirthless Cackle™

The secret is completely closing the larynx to achieve the percussiveness required: Khngyeh! Khngyeh! Khngyeh!

Posted by: jk at May 25, 2016 12:51 PM

Government denies existence of problems

First, allow me to quote American Thinker's Rick Moran:

"Oh. My. God."

Does Disneyland measure wait times? Does Disneyland measure wait times!! You clueless bureaucrat, Disneyland knows the wait time for every major attraction in every park to the minute - in real-time. And, much more importantly, Disneyland, like every private-sector business, does everything in their power to reduce their wait times. Even going so far as to accept appointments for the highest demand attractions, as is done with great efficiency in industries such as, for instance, with no specific reason for mentioning it, MEDICINE! Unless government is in charge. You clowns can screw up anything. Perhaps because, since your job doesn't depend on it, you really don't care about your "customers."

Market Forces Repair Problem?

My illustrious Senator, Michael Bennet (BackBencher - CO), is on TV every night with a message he has approved about student debt. "Everyone deserves an education, no one should have to have a lifetime of debt, bla bla bla..." Very gauzy lines with no proposals or policy, but I don't think I am wrong to infer a promise to millennials of more subsidies and debt forgiveness. As much as I dislike it, I imagine forgiveness will be a successful Democratic theme this year.

The Wall Street Journal news pages (not those right wing wackos on the Ed Page) dares to mention that maybe things ain't so bad...

Many Americans are struggling under huge monthly student-debt bills. But they are a sizeable minority, not the norm.

That's the conclusion of research from the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. The typical borrower between ages 20 and 30 pays $203 a month toward student debt. Three-quarters of borrowers pay no more than $400 a month, the study shows.

Crisis! Crisis! Chrisis! Needs us some more government right away please! Oh, wait...
Many activists and elected leaders say huge bills are preventing Americans from saving for retirement and buying a home.

Yet for most, monthly bills are still quite manageable, roughly in line with what people pay on a car loan. Several factors are tamping down monthly student-debt bills, not all of them benign.

More borrowers, longer terms (that's the not-benign bit) but I posit a trend of wisening up. I am sorry that so many millennials were sold a predatory package of worthless goods from left-wing academia, but you still read and signed a contract. My youthful fiscal indiscretion was a wholesale buyers' club. I grumbled for two years to pay it off, but was fortunate to escape without an advanced degree.

I'm think some of Glenn Reynolds's wisdom [Review Corner] has filtered down and hope some 17-year olds are looking at five and six digit debt with more skepticism.

But Keith Arnold thinks:

In addition to Glenn Reynolds' take of the education bubble (with which I heartily agree):

I'm not opposed to student loans, per se -- but there are a number of anomalies when compared to the rest of the finance industry that just make me wonder.

First, anywhere other than student loans, the lender examines the prospective borrower's ability to repay. A home-loan broker, for example, looks at the borrower's income, before lending the money to buy the house.

Second, the lender looks at what the loan is going to be used for. That same home-loan broker is going to do an appraisal of the house you're planning to buy, if for no other reason than to make sure that, if they have to foreclose, the resale of the property is likely to recoup the loss they take on the loan.

The student loan business ignores the ideas of creditworthiness and collateral, if you follow my metaphor.

If I were a student-loan broker and a prospect came to me with a 3.92 GPA, and had a raft of honors and advance-placement classes under his belt, asking for a $100,000 loan at 3% for college, that might be a smart investment. If the next student walked in with a 2.41 GPA and barely squeaked by in woodshop and remedial English, I'd probably take a pass. That's sort of an analogue to creditworthiness.

You're planning on getting your degree in Computer Science, or Engineering, or Architecture? That's good collateral, especially if you've got the academic background that points to success. Gender Studies? Maybe not as good in the ol' collateral department.

It would be interesting to see what would happen if government weren't pouring buckets of dollars into every kid that wanted to stay out of the job market for four (or more) years and party at Santa Cruz, and let banks and lenders make lending decisions on good moneylending criteria. Do I foresee a lot of unqualified kids going to Vinnie Down At The Wharf? No; fortunately, borrowing a hundred bucks for a good tip on a horse in the sixth is one thing, but seeing Vinnie collecting the vig for four years and waiting for the long-term payoff is quite another.

Somehow, I don't see a lot of baristas getting their legs broken for welching on their tuition loans anytime soon.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at May 24, 2016 12:42 PM
But jk thinks:

Hear, Hear! And in totally, completely, unrelated news: Oberlin Students Want Below-Average Grades Abolished, Midterms Replaced with Conversations

'I literally am so tired of learning about Marx, when he did not include race in his discussion of the market!'

Posted by: jk at May 24, 2016 2:35 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Government has distorted education.
Government has distorted retail credit.
And in case that wasn't enough, government created targeted distortions of retail credit for education.

In this case, rather than "what could go wrong" the question is - how could anything go right?

Posted by: johngalt at May 24, 2016 2:40 PM

Jonah has a bone to pick with McCloskey

Jonah Goldberg opens his column with high praise, but suggests Professor McCloskey [Review Corner] may have missed one.

She always endeavors to distribute her whacks evenly, like every libertarian should. But Goldberg catches her attributing eugenics to "the right," when two of his books [Review] [Corner] have documented progressives' complicity:

The sainted liberal jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. wrote the infamous Buck v. Bell decision which made forced sterilizations of "imbeciles" constitutional (Buck was not an imbecile for the record). The liberals on the court voted with him, while the sole dissenter was a conservative, Pierce Butler. In Britain, The Catholic conservative G.K. Chesterton fought eugenics with every fiber of his being, while progressives and socialists like H.G. Wells, the Webbs and George Bernard Shaw believed it was the heart of socialist or progressive reform.

I don't think any of this undermines any of McCloskey's larger argument. But it's frustrating to see someone so committed to the cause of liberty repeat a slander popularized by liberty's enemies.

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 9:49 AM | What do you think? [0]

May 23, 2016

Life Imitates ThreeSources

Brother JohnGalt called it right out of the chute: Paris Conference over -- climate change fixed! Next topic?

Seems even the Aussie Labour Party is in.

Aussie academic David Holmes, of the University of Melbourne, suggests that Politicians are using the Paris Agreement to defuse climate concerns, by claiming Paris "solved" the climate crisis -- and he's not happy about it.

Sorry, mate! Obama fixed that already. Now we can focus 100% on who pees where.

Who Says There's No Good News?

AG drops climate change subpoena against libertarian think tank

The Virgin Islands attorney general has withdrawn a controversial subpoena against a prominent libertarian D.C. think tank, after being accused of bullying the group as part of a broader probe into whether ExxonMobil misled the public about global warming.

Attorney General Claude Walker had issued the subpoena, demanding the Competitive Enterprise Institute hand over 10 years' worth of its communications related to climate change, in April.

CEI fired back with a lawsuit of its own, seeking to fine Walker for what the group called a breach of their First Amendment rights.

Walker's office dropped the subpoena Friday, according to court documents. The office did not respond to a request for comment from

CEI said it would still seek sanctions against Walker -- noting that while this subpoena has been dropped, a more expansive subpoena against ExxonMobil still stands.

May 22, 2016

Review Corner

In an almost vacant coffee shop in Moscow in 2013 a customer asked politely that the loud rock music, pleasant to the young staff but irritating to old folk, be turned down. The waitress was shocked that a customer would have an opinion. She indignantly refused. Thus was made evident the seventy years of changing the nature of man under socialism.
Ideas and style are highly regarded at Review Corner. Reading Deirdre N. McCloskey's Bourgeois Equality: How Ideas, Not Capital or Institutions, Enriched the World forced me to note that I undervalue scholarship. Professor McCloskey has finished her "Bourgeois" trilogy. (The second book alone scored two [Review] [Corners].)

She had originally planned for more books.

Over twenty years of imagining and ten years of writing, the projected scale of the series has varied from one to six volumes. In a bad moment I thought of calling a six-volume version a "sexology," achieving thereby large sales through fraud and a tasteless mix of Latin and Greek. The thought did not meet the test of bourgeois virtue. I settle here for a trilogy, and modest sales, and say at its end, laus Deo.

To squish it all in, the third book is "robust" to choose an adjective beloved of software developers and coffee drinkers. It is neither univiting nor turgid; McCloskey exhibits great wit and clear prose. But I am a goal-oriented reader. I'll fly by most footnotes with a perfunctory "I'll take your word for it." McCloskey, like Popper, puts important information (and great verve) into them. Beyond the length, you have to stop and read every footnote. I even highlighted a few.
20. David Landes 1969, 1965. This is a good place to acknowledge that I spent the first half of my historical career disagreeing with David on the role of the entrepreneur. I seem to be doomed to spend the second half agreeing with him. En partie seulement.

I have been sharing some of my favorite quotes with the Kindle Twitter feature and hope that some ThreeSourcers may have enjoyed one or two. There is no way to cover this book in a Review Corner. I'll share some personal and philisophical thoughts, and direct people to several better resources for encapsulation:

McCloskey looks to language, literature, art, anthropology, psychology, and economics to trace the change in attitudes toward the bourgeoisie and the idea of birthright equality. In Shakespeare's time and reflected in his work, the words "honor" and "honest" referred to a person of high birth, not his or her character.
In other words, the new liberty and dignity for commoners was a sociological event, not a psychological one, and originated in a changing conversation in the society, not at first in psychological self-monitoring by the individual. People in Holland and then England didn't suddenly start alertly attending to profit. They suddenly started admiring such alertness, and stopped calling it sinful greed. 17

ThreeSourcers know too well my appreciation for McCloskey, and it is only enhanced by this book. One can enjoy it as a cudgel (the 750-page hardcopy better than the Kindle version) for bashing the Left and the Luddite Right: Thomas Piketty is singled out for disapprobation several times. Go Deirdre! But - as mentioned in previous reviews she has opprobrium left over for some of my favorites. Several writers who have been given Five Stars on these pages have their theories questioned.

Niall Ferguson scored 4.75 stars and a direct comparison to McCloskey in a previous [Review Corner]. His "Killer Apps" and attention to institutions are immensely compelling. "Balderdash!" claims McCloskey (well, she doesn't use the B-word...) history is replete with societies with superb institutions, no Industrial Revolution, no Great Enrichment, no 9900% increase in consumption.

She has some kind words for Matt Ridley, but at the end of the day, his "ideas having sex" which won him five stars and the coveted Editor's Choice award in [Review Corner] she finds lacking. Great idea, Lord R, but why not in Song China or Timbuktu? You want property rights, it was said that a young girl could walk the breadth of Genghis Khan's kingdom with a handful of gold and not fear for her safety. Where is the Mongol Enlightenment?

Science? Private Property? Freedom?

The trilogy, in other words, argues against the prudence-only obsessions of the economists and of their enemies. Within economics it argues against the factually dubious assertion from the political right that technological betterment comes automatically from private property. 25 And it argues against the logically dubious assertion from the political left that the betterment comes automatically from artificially high wages. 26 Both are what the economists Friedrich Hayek and Vernon Smith, among others practicing a humanomics, call "constructivist," as against "ecological." 27

She calls herself a libertarian in the interviews linked above, and her ideas are friendly to liberty in many ways. But she has some inconvenient truths. She doesn't see much difference between the US, UK, Norway and Sweden. On her scale there isn't much difference, and the per-capita consumption is close. She recognizes the danger to prosperity in a USSR or Venezuelan attack on liberty, but like Adam Smith, she accepts a differential from "perfect liberty."
New Zealand, for example, is well governed. Italy is not. New Zealand has honest and efficient governmental institutions. Italy, strikingly, does not. In ease of doing business-- which is low when the government vigorously obstructs private dealings or when its officials demand bribes-- New Zealand ranked in 2010 and 2012 (among 183 or 185 countries) third from the top. Italy in 2010 ranked eightieth, slightly below Vietnam, and in 2012 seventy-third, slightly below the Kyrgyz Republic. In 2012, according to the Corruption Perceptions Index of Transparency International, New Zealand was tied for first, the most honestly governed among 173 ranked countries. Italy was seventy-second. 8
Yet in real GDP per person New Zealand and Italy, in 2010, were nearly identical, at $ 88.20 and $ 86.80 a day, a little above Hans Rosling's Washing Line. One could argue that there is anyway an international correlation between income and governance. But the causation is in part the other way around-- rich people demand better governance, which is certainly the story of more honest governance in American cities, 1900 to the present.

Some of your favorite theories will be besmirched in this great book. The data and scholarship which support her premises are so significant, it is difficult to push back.

One thing I do appreciate is her belief in modernity and her fulsome opposition to any who would push us back. That, great scholarship, literary allusions to TS Eliot, Ghostbusters, and Monty Python. I'm in! There is much to appreciate in post-1800 development:

the fine quality of the inexpensive book you now hold, the ease of access to the Kindle edition if you were too cheap to buy the book, the contact lenses that allow you to read it, the computer on which you take admiring notes about it, the college sheepskin on the wall, the acquiring of which allows you to grasp the book's profundity, and even the better aluminum studs behind the wall, preventing the better wallboard painted with better paint and affixed with better cordless screwdrivers from caving in when you punch it out of sadly misled vexation at some of the more irritating factual claims in the book.

Five Stars and an Editor's Choice Award.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 11:44 AM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

...aluminum studs?

Kidding! That isn't the most important thing I take from this review. The power of ideas, is. They come in good and bad, of course, but the ultimate good idea according to McCloskey seems to be - rather than private property ownership - private self ownership. Free individuals, free to choose as it were, in a free world. That's a great idea.

And yet it is famously understood, that "Freedom is never more than a generation away from extinction." I take comfort in the greater population and faster communication of our time relative to the dark ages, that such extinction might be local and temporary. But fear of tyranny does still exist, even in the good ol' US of A.

To me, that is the real measure of "progress" - not the amount of wealth or the percentage of people enjoying it worldwide, but the amount of confidence in personal liberty and the percentage of people enjoying that worldwide.

Posted by: johngalt at May 23, 2016 3:48 PM
But jk thinks:

On Ideas good and bad: missing from my review is her preference for the term "trade tested betterment" to capitalism. You try to serve your fellow man with an idea or service -- and if that service is found to be of value you prosper, if not you try something else. The opportunity for failure eliminates the sclerosis in communism and answers "why wasn't there a Great Enrichment sooner?" People were smart in 1500 or 5000 BCE but only the chief's or emperor's ideas were good.

She enumerates the threats from the right and left and concedes the power of "the clerisy" to muck things up. On the plus side, she points out that every success creates its own interest group. All the people that make money driving Uber are incentivized to fight the taxi cartels' regulatory attempts.

So she's in optimist, a'la Matt Ridley. She mentions in one of the linked interviews "Of course I'm an optimist. You have to be an optimist to change genders."

Also missing is an idea it came up in a slightly different form on Econtalk today: the benfits of Capit -- I mean "trade tested betterment" have a long latency. We had DIckensian factories and the Triangle Shirtwaist fire before we saw most of the gains. That gave the Dickenses, Shaws, and Roosevelts a great foundation to oppose it.

Posted by: jk at May 23, 2016 4:16 PM

May 20, 2016

Sen. Smoot and Rep. Hawley could not be reached for comment

Oh, deary me.

Trump touted his proposal for a 35 percent tariff on imports into the United States from the American companies that have outsourced to Mexico.

"At least the United States is going to make a hell of a lot of money," Trump said at a fundraiser for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. "And these dummies say, 'Oh well that's a trade war.'"

"Trade war? We're losing $500 billion in trade with China. Who the hell cares if there's a trade war?" Trump continued. "$500 billion and they're telling me about a trade war."

Trump quickly added, "You're not going to have a trade war," predicting "China will behave" and "respect our country again" after slamming the country's currency manipulation.

2016 Posted by John Kranz at 10:13 AM | What do you think? [3]
But johngalt thinks:

There seems a substantial, if not exculpatory, difference between the Trump Tariff (TM) and Smoot Hawley. Trump proposes, in this quote at least, to levy only imports from "American Companies that have outsourced." So it wouldn't prompt a trade war with foreign governments as much as it would slash the advantages of moving factories to lower tax, lower regulation, lower wage locales outside of the U.S.

Posted by: johngalt at May 20, 2016 3:06 PM
But jk thinks:

Just an extension of "The Wall," then. Companies with factories will will not be allowed to expand abroad and workers abroad will not pursue opportunities here.

A bit less awful than his 45% tariff on China, I suppose. But the part I highlight is the insane locution of "We are 'losing' $______ to ________." Now coupled with "who the hell cares if there's a trade war?" This man does not understand trade, liberty, or the source of global prosperity -- I am hesitant to entrust him with any of them.

Posted by: jk at May 22, 2016 11:48 AM
But johngalt thinks:

You and me both, brother, but democracy means we only get two choices and they both suck. We must all choose whom to vote against carefully.

Posted by: johngalt at May 23, 2016 3:19 PM

May 19, 2016

All Hail Taranto!

Rather than admit to some effective anti-#nevertrump punditry from my buddy James Taranto, I'll share some wit:


On the web Posted by John Kranz at 1:51 PM | What do you think? [0]

Grouchy, and quite possibly racist


I have told my Conservative buddies to chillax before about Google Doodles. Insty gets into a lather when they fail to recognize American holidays. Bing® is guaranteed to do a nice photo on Veterans' Day or Memorial Day. Google: not. so. much. "But really, lads," sez I, "aren't there bigger fish to fry?" Well, today I have developed a taste for small fried fish.

I generally have Bing/IE on one computer and Google/Chrome on another for testing. Today I switched both to Bing because I became tired of Yoko Ono Yuri Kochiyama glowering at me (told you it might be racist). My biggest objection is the celebration of activism. The way to fix things in these people's minds is to get a microphone and fulminate. There's a place for that, but more frequently, those seeking change in a moderately free society with mechanisms for self rule should do a little work crafting and promoting a solution.

The glorification of Community Organizing is tiresome.Bing has a pretty picture.

UPDATE: The Yoko Comparison was perhaps too kind.

Kochiyama then appeared to endorse "freedom fighters" who "revere" bin Laden and "join him in battle."

"I do not care what the U.S. government or Americans feel--I think it's shameful what this government has done from the beginning of its racist, loathsome history," she stated later.

"When I think what the U.S. military is doing, brazenly bombing country after country, to take oil resources, bringing about coups, assassinating leaders of other countries, and pitting neighbor nations against each other, and demonizing anyone who disagrees with U.S. policy, and detaining and deporting countless immigrants from all over the world, I thank Islam for bin Laden," she said. "America's greed, aggressiveness, and self-righteous arrogance must be stopped. War and weaponry must be abolished."

UPDATE II: The Internet is frequently its own antidote:


Rant Posted by John Kranz at 1:31 PM | What do you think? [0]

Guitaronomics is an eBay for musical instruments. They sell some inexpensive commodity items in their own brand and have a great social media presence with pictures of cool guitars, jokes, and some independant journalism on the company blog.

Peter Schu posts an exceptional piece on guitar pricing. He takes four popular models and tracks their cost in inflation-adjusted dollars. It's quite a smart piece of research.

His conclusions mirror mine (toldja he was smart) but he backs his assertions with data. I inflation-adjusted my new Epiphone Gold Top. He goes broader and further;

In 1960, one of the most popular and affordable entry-level, two-pickup solid-body electric guitars was the Silvertone Stratotone, aka the Harmony H-46. At the time, it cost $54.95 brand new without a case. In 2016 buying power, determined using the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' online inflation calculator, that would be $442.07, more than double what some entry-level electric guitars cost today.

Granted, it was made in the United States. At the time, China was in the midst of Mao's so-called Great Leap Forward. It would be decades before modern Plek machines would help Chinese workers crank out low-cost guitar bodies and necks.

The trends of constant dollar pricing for the Gibson Les Paul and ES-355, Fender Telecaster and Stratocaster and reasons for their diversion are worth the click.

John Who???

Hardcopies of my book project are in. We got paperbacks first, there is a hardcover and a Kindle version soon to follow. There was a signing last week. I'll be able to hook ThreeSourcers up as needed.

In deference to Marketing and PR, I will not use the name, please do not. I cannot have Google searches pointing to this site, especially before whatever official release activities they plan. But, among friends, here's the cover (click on either to enlarge):

And a website in progress

But johngalt thinks:

Did Hick actually read it?

Posted by: johngalt at May 19, 2016 1:02 PM
But jk thinks:

There were a few levels of indirection between me and the Governor; I cannot be certain. He received an early copy and we addressed an additional topic based on a suggestion. Someone in his office read it.

I can only infer charitably from his generous blurb.

However, the hippie, guitar-player, Sci-Fi author blurber is my friend and I can assure you that he read it.

Posted by: jk at May 19, 2016 1:19 PM
But johngalt thinks:


Posted by: johngalt at May 19, 2016 1:46 PM

May 18, 2016

A Bunt

I was looking for a grand slam: "I'm going to nominate Randy Barnett to the Supreme Court!" says a defiant Donald Trump, wearing a Lysander Spooner T-shirt and a "Make Trade Free Again" ball cap!

Instead, the presumptive is showing bunt.

I don't know these guys and hope a Eugene Volukh or Ilya Somin (picks two and three in a Kranz Administration) will help me out. But my first glance sees authoritarianism.

The list is notable, Vladeck said, in part because there are no surprises. "I would not have been surprised to see this exact list from almost any of the other Republican candidates," he said. "These people tend to be more into strict interpretation of the Constitution who are more skeptical of unenumerated rights like privacy and who are more likely to side with conservative social movements

At the risk of cherry-picking, the WSJ posts the list, and I looked first for our illustrious Centennial Stater. I feel this is representative:

In 2012, Judge [Allison] Eid wrote the majority opinion ruling that the University of Colorado's policy to ban students from carrying handguns on campus was unlawful. She also wrote a decision last year that said companies in Colorado, which has decriminalized most marijuana use, can fire employees for using marijuana outside of work because the activity still violates federal law.

Now, a bunt can bring home a run, and all my critiques could be leveled against Justice Scalia, peace be ever upon his holy name. Trump is looking for Scalias and not Thomases, he asked Heritage and not Cato for guidance. Got it, but of course Sec. Clinton is beating the gender studies department for a list of Sotomayors.

These are dark days. But my hope for the grand slam has passed.

Blog brothers are advised to attempt Second Amendment arguments to persuade.

2016 SCOTUS Posted by John Kranz at 7:04 PM | What do you think? [3]
But johngalt thinks:

Argument number one: Donald Trump is not an ideologue. Hillary Clinton is the ideologue's ideologue.

Posted by: johngalt at May 19, 2016 11:53 AM
But jk thinks:

Huh. (And I realize I'm sounding argumentative just for sport, But:)

My largest gripe is that he is not ideological. He is truly the Bill O'Reilly of politics. He doesn't know what he believes in, but at this very instant he believes it FERVENTLY!

Posted by: jk at May 19, 2016 12:18 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I think you're a bit unfair. He clearly believes in American Exceptionalism. He wants America to be great - again - a thinly-veiled shot at the current president and his policies. He believes in the American Dream.

We may mostly agree that he doesn't consciously know the ideological reason why America was once greater than it is today, but he does seem to know it subconsciously, and expresses it in his latest slogan: "America First." That means, collectively at least, if not individually, that Americans should act in their rational self-interest. That's a good first step. And, it's a principle.

But the reason his ideological void is a feature and not a bug is that it makes him a blank screen onto which voters can project their own vision of a great America. Ask Ted Cruz how successful a liberty ideologue can be in politics.

Posted by: johngalt at May 19, 2016 1:00 PM

Crackdown on Dogs at Brewpubs!

War is Peace, Meat is Murder, and Beer is Food.


Denver breweries may have to turn away some of their friendliest customers now that city inspectors have begun to crack down on allowing dogs in breweries throughout the metro area.

An incident this week at Prost Brewing Company sparked confusion for Denver brewers when city inspectors said the brewery was in violation of a city law stating dogs cannot be in an establishment that serves food.

And, in blues news: "Grits ain't groceries, eggs ain't poultry, and Mona Lisa was a Man."

Colorado Posted by John Kranz at 4:47 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

What would we do without municipal governments to protect us from ourselves? Another Denver-area municipal zero-tolerance policy is equally asinine: 5-year old suspended for bubble "gun" at school.

Posted by: johngalt at May 19, 2016 1:08 PM

Squaring the Clinton Circle

I so wish that I wanted the Republican to win this year. What great fun it is to watch Sec. Clinton step in it, again and again. "Oh, my Husband is going to run the economy! I'm just going to do Women's empowerment and let the men handle all the important stuff" is a good measure of her campaigning chops. But the WSJ Ed Page recognizes a deeper contradiction: 21st Century Democrats do not want 42's trade, tax, regualtion and labor policies.

The Clinton contradiction is that she claims she'll produce economic results like her husband did with economic policies like Mr. Obama's. For the record, let's lay out the differences between the agenda that helped drive the prosperity of 1993-2001, when the U.S. economy expanded by 3.8% annually on average, and what Mrs. Clinton is proposing to close out the 2010s, when GDP growth has failed to exceed 2.5% in a single year.

Well, at least she has that charisma thing going for her...

Dem2016 Primary Posted by John Kranz at 10:20 AM | What do you think? [0]

May 17, 2016

Quote of the Day

Two comments on the notorious Breitbart article calling Bill Kristol a "renegade Jew" for his opposition to Trump list me among the anti-Trump Jews in the media. I'm not in fact Jewish, at least for the past few generations that I can trace, but I have no objection to being so identified. But did they have to call me a conservative? -- David Boaz
Propsworthy Posted by John Kranz at 3:31 PM | What do you think? [0]

D'ja See This? Did'ja?

Justice Thomas's Commencement Address to Hillsdale:


I've seen some horrible photos from the Socialist Paradise that is Venezuela. But a slide show in the Atlantic pairs a family's photos with a picture of all the food in their house.

As reported last week here in the Atlantic, Venezuela is falling apart. Over the past two years, triple-digit inflation, massive shortages, rising crime rates, and failing public services have left many in desperate situations. Reuters photographer Carlos Garcia Rawlins visited hard-hit families in Caracas, to listen to their stories and see how little food they had on hand. From Rawlins: "The combination of Venezuela's sky-rocketing prices and chronic product shortages have left many struggling to put regular food on their tables and maintain a balanced diet ... poorer families say they are sometimes skipping meals and relying more on starch foods. According to one recent study, 87 percent of Venezuelans say their income is now insufficient to purchase their food needs."

UPDATE: In other news: in the US there is a cheese glut.
America has built up a glut of cheese so big that every person in the country would need to eat an extra 3 pounds this year to work it off.

And it isn't just cheese. The growing stacks of cheddar, which can be kept frozen for years, and other cheeses such as feta, which can be stored for only a couple of months, are just the tip of a surplus of U.S. agricultural products that is swamping markets for grains, meat and milk.

Supplies of cheese, meat and poultry started building as farmers decided to expand their herds and flocks two years ago when prices were high and export markets were hot. Abundant stockpiles of grain made it less risky by pushing down feed costs. But the steady climb in the dollar has deterred major foreign buyers, causing supplies to back up in the U.S. just as production is surging to records. That is sending prices for many goods to their lowest levels in years.

This patriotic American stands ready to do his part.

Venezuela Posted by John Kranz at 10:44 AM | What do you think? [5]
But Keith Arnold thinks:

It's enheartening to know that despite what our elected overlords have attempted to do, our nation's food-producing industry has managed to be so successful at producing food that even the poor can eat, and there is still leftover food in storage.

I'm grateful there's not enough time left in the SCOAMF's final term for him to pen an executive order creating ObamaFondue, with a mandate (it's a tax!) that every person must have fondue at least three times a month.

File this under #feelthenachos...

Posted by: Keith Arnold at May 17, 2016 12:49 PM
But johngalt thinks:

That idiot Donald Trump and his global depression! He's really mucked things up hasn't he?

That "steady climb in the dollar" is another way of saying "widespread international inflation" is it not? It's not really so much how the dollar is doing, but how much worse the rest of the world is. It would seem that John Galt is at work.

Posted by: johngalt at May 17, 2016 4:59 PM
But jk thinks:

We need to suspend the 13th Amendment and force Brother Bryan to comment on this thread. He was speculating on some technical reasons and academic justifications for this on Facebook today.

I'll take "Hayekian price discovery for $200, Alex." Prices wuz goin' up. People thought "I should buy me some more cows and build a cheese factory." Too many people did that and prices iz now goin' down.

Compared to Socialist Venezuelan Paradisio....

Posted by: jk at May 17, 2016 6:20 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Good point. If it were an international monetary phenomenon then we'd have gluts of every domestic product, and not just cheese (and coal).

Speaking of coal, are you sure there's no government distortion of the cheese market? It is made from milk, after all.

Posted by: johngalt at May 18, 2016 3:59 PM
But jk thinks:

Government distortion in dairy markets? Next thing, you'll be telling me there is gambling at Rick's. I'm always stunned how many Supreme Court cases involve the dairy industry: Corelene, Hillsdale, West Lynne, Wrightwood...

And yet, I am still comfortable with the comparison. Adam Smith and Deirdre McCloskey remind us we won't see perfect liberty. But in Wisconsin, a person can project an opportunity and direct resources toward it based on price. In Caracas, not so much.

Posted by: jk at May 18, 2016 4:37 PM

Meanwhile, in Buffy News...

ADDENDA: From Morning Jolt reader Ken, how last night's series finale of Castle should have ended: "Malcolm Reynolds wakes up in his quarters onboard Serenity and tells Inara about the crazy dream he had about being a writer on Earth in the 21st century." -- Jim Geraghty [subscribe]
Television Posted by John Kranz at 10:22 AM | What do you think? [2]
But Keith Arnold thinks:

I've seen three different posts on my Facebook feed about the Castle cancellation, and each time, the poster's comment was something along the lines of "Hey, guess who's now free for a Firefly reunion!" It seems there's a lot of people out there with the thought.

I've also received a comment thread whose title is "What's the best TV series that got cancelled after its first season, other than Firefly?"

Posted by: Keith Arnold at May 17, 2016 12:26 PM
But jk thinks:

Anybody watch Castle to the bloody end? I used to like it quite a lot, but I fell out of the habit a few years ago and have not seen it in forever.

The truly divine old used to have a special category for when The Guy and The Girl finally get together. I hate to be mean, but I think that might apply.

I'll have to seek out the series finale.

Posted by: jk at May 17, 2016 12:47 PM

May 16, 2016

Quote of the Day

This talk examines the relation between Islamophobia as the dominant form of racism today and the ecological crisis. It looks at the three common ways in which the two phenomena are seen to be linked: as an entanglement of two crises, metaphorically related with one being a source of imagery for the other and both originating in colonial forms of capitalist accumulation. The talk proposes a fourth way of linking the two: an argument that they are both emanating from a similar mode of being, or enmeshment, in the world, what is referred to as "generalised domestication." -- Is Islamophobia Accelerating Global Warming?
In my day, we had "Nuke the Gay Whales." But we at least laughed.
Education Posted by John Kranz at 5:31 PM | What do you think? [2]
But Keith Arnold thinks:

So now, it's "Nuke the Gay Whales for Allah!"

Posted by: Keith Arnold at May 16, 2016 6:03 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I have a serious comment that, if it causes any blowback, I will claim was merely a joke:

Not all Muslims are terrorists, so to differentiate many use the term "Islamist" which is short for Islamist terrorist. This is so clinical and easily misunderstood that I propose a more populist description. One can say that an Islamic person who wants to murder infidels for no reason other than being infidels is a "mad Muslim." Trump's temporary travel ban on Muslim folks can then easily pivot to a screening procedure for travelers with "Mad Muslim Disease."

The alliteration with Mad Cow Disease is intentional. Both are brain pathologies affecting land mammals.

Posted by: johngalt at May 16, 2016 6:12 PM

One man's imminent danger is another man's savior

I wrote last week about optimism and silver linings and today, reading Charles Blow tell it in the NYT, I'm positively giddy about nominee Trump.

It is hard to know where the hard bottom is beneath this morass of lies and bile. He has changed the very definition of acceptability as well as the expectations of the honor of one's words. He has exalted the art of deceit to a new political normalcy.

This has made him nearly impervious to even the cleverest takedowns, and trust me, many have tried, comparing him to everyone from P. T. Barnum to Hitler.

But none of these comparisons are likely to shift public opinion. Some people will continue to see him, rightly, as an imminent danger to this nation and the world, and others will continue to see him as a salvation from it.

So you see, dear friends, the Republicans have found their Bill Clinton! Read the rest and you'll see what I mean. Blow sounds just like the right-wing pundits did during the Clinton Administration... and beyond, up until today.

Supporting Trump is a Hail Mary pass of a hail-the-demagogue assemblage. Trump's triumph as the presumptive Republican Party nominee is not necessarily a sign of his strategic genius as much as it's a sign of some people's mental, psychological and spiritual deficiencies.

It's hard to use the truth as an instrument of enlightenment on people who prefer to luxuriate in a lie.

Again, he wasn't my choice. But I will support him. Republicans were convinced that an Obama presidency would destroy the republic. He's done great harm, but the world still seems to realize that America is owned and operated by - Americans. The anti-Americanism of our president and his administrative branch notwithstanding. President Trump could certainly do no worse. (But President Clinton 45 could.) Trump wants to "make America great again." He may fail, but it's an admirable goal, especially in contrast to "make the Clintons rich and powerful again."

2016 Posted by JohnGalt at 2:51 PM | What do you think? [3]
But jk thinks:

It seems I am frequently told Trump is great because of the number of people he cheeses off. I am quite confident that Charles Blow would see the end of the world in any GOP nominee from St. Paul to Rex Tugwell. Every four years is a new low for the Republicans -- it's actually written into his contract with the Times.

I had family over yesterday who are voting Trump for their dislike of Sec. Clinton. I admitted that, yes, electing Clinton means extinguishing the light of liberty from America, but that that is better than multi-decadal global depression.

Deirdre McCloskey is forcing me to confront many deeply held beliefs ("unicorns" in Mugerian parlance). If she is correct -- and it is bloody difficult to make a strong case in opposition -- the absolute liberty as measured on the Heritage Freedom Index, or the amount of corruption, of the efficiency of government matter much less than people of my stripe assume. New Zealand with perfect government, no measurable corruption, and great freedom has the same per capita consumption as Italy -- one of the PIIIGS and a total basket case.

Her (Clinton, not McCloskey) deeply rooted corruption will keep her from upsetting the applecart of international trade.

Vote for the crook -- it's important!

Posted by: jk at May 16, 2016 5:21 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I think you meant to say, "Vote for the lying crook..."

"Multi-decadal global depression?" You're not usually prone to hyperbole. Are presidents and trade policies now lifetime appointments? You see no market correction if President Trump somehow accomplished trade tariffs?

You see no capitulation on the part of trading partners with presently advantaged positions?

None of this matters anyway though, if "conservatives" mount a third party campaign. So why worry? Just smile and get used to ending every greeting with "comrade."

Posted by: johngalt at May 16, 2016 6:53 PM
But jk thinks:

"... not usually prone to hyperbole. On the one hand, that's the nicest thing anybody has ever said about me. On the other, it means I clearly have to try harder.

I put Smoot-Hawley as one of the top three causes of the previous Multi-Decadal Global Depression (MDGD). And more importantly, one of the top impediments to recovery.

One of my interlocutors made a similar defense: the smart businessman will quickly see error and correct. But the reason these are multi-decadal is the moment of inertia in the cycle. We tariff, they retaliate, others pile on. Lather; rinse; repeat. These are all humongous 700-page-ish treaties worked out with lobbyists and legislators and diplomats and NGOs. Even if a party wises to, there's no easy way to roll back the damage or even stop its spread.

Accuse of hyperbole if you must, comrade, but it happened in the 1930s when global prosperity was far less dependant on trade.

Posted by: jk at May 16, 2016 7:19 PM

Russ Roberts

Nobody more worthy of props.

When I run that line by Russ Roberts, he replies with a joke: "How do you know macroeconomists have a sense of humor? They use decimal points."

Roberts is the beloved host of EconTalk and the author of three excellent books which use fiction to communicate economic prociples [Review Corner: The Invisible Heart] and on Adam Smith [Review Corner: How Adam Smith can Change you Life].

Condor Cuisinarts

A popular joke of my youth:

"What do you call a bird that's been run over by a lawnmower?"
"Shredded Tweet!"

Forgive us Sister, we grew up without PETA.

But, in completely unrelated news, the wind industry just picked up a license for 4200 Eagles.

Two weeks ago the agency opened public comment on "proposed improvements" to its eagle conservation program. It wants to extend the length of permits for accidental eagle kills from the current five years to 30 years. The changes would allow wind-energy producers to kill or injure as many as 4,200 bald eagles every year. That's a lot. The agency estimates there are now about 72,434 bald eagles in the continental U.S.

This from a great guest editorial by Robert Bryce [Review Corner]. Bryce mentions one double standard:
The double standard is stunning. In 2011 the Fish and Wildlife Service convinced the Justice Department to file criminal indictments against three oil companies working in North Dakota's Bakken field for inadvertently killing six ducks and one phoebe.

I'll see his and raise the stock footage of oil-drenched birds both after the Exxon-Valdez spill in Alaska and Horizon Deepwater in the Gulf. It's heart-wrenching to watch the poor creatures plucked from the sea doused with oil. It rips you in two -- I know because I have seen it about a thousand times.

But the greasy birds are the result of what we call in my country "a disaster:" a very bad and unusual discontinuity from the way things are supposed to work. Ships are not supposed to crash, Oil platforms are not supposed to explode. But there is some risk. Yet the bird shredding -- far more commonplace -- is business as usual. Some grisly footage exists on YouTube but we don't see it unless we're looking. The oil-spill birds are trotted out every Earth Day or any time legislation is pending which affect the Oil industry.

But johngalt thinks:

You have to slaughter a few national icons to salve your own self-hatred.

Posted by: johngalt at May 16, 2016 3:18 PM

What Game of Thrones Teaches us about TGreer.

I have missed the GoT phenomenon, though I know many who have not been so fortunate.

Blog friend tg has written a superb piece which he advertised on Facebook as "easily the harshest, least charitable, and most judgmental thing I have ever written on the internet." And, as I say in my lesser charitable, harsher and more judgemental posts: "we'll just put him down as a 'no' then."

Readers who interact with me on other forums, comment threads, or e-mail groups where discussion of American pop culture are par for course are aware of how much I despise Game of Thrones, the books that inspired it, and the adulatory sub-culture that has sprouted up around it. It should not be surprising to find that I agree wholeheartedly with the tenor of all of Mr. Elkus's arguments, and the substance of most of them. Elkus's piece is long and far-ranging, and I recommend you read all of it. His thoughts on Game of Throne's invasion of American political rhetoric and culture--especially our inability to discuss atrocities that are occurring in the real world without dumbing them down to a series of Game of Thrones memes--is particularly on point.

I live in a glass house plastered in Buffy, Angel, and Firefly posters, so I am tempted to withhold judgement; I have not seen any GoT and confess to a certain coolness to the whole genre of modern edgy dramas including even superbly crafted ones like Breaking Bad and the US version of House of Cards. You know where to send the hate mail.

The whole post is excellent, but the great hook here from our well-read blog buddy was this challenge to contextualize these stories with reality.

This is a blog about history, politics, and strategy. My field of expertise is East Asian history--but more specifically, the role that war and empire has played in its history. Examining the atrocities and tragedies of the past is what I do. In this line of research it is easy to forget the real cost of wars and turmoil, to reduce suffering to statistics, battle diagrams, and theoretical abstractions. I fight this temptation by reading memoirs. My rule is that I read one at least once every other month. I find a personal account of someone who lived through the worst of what human beings have done to each other so that I do not forget what abstractions in the mind of strategists become in the world of flesh and smoke. I've read dozens of them. They are accounts of soldiers, diplomats, refugees, and survivors. They do not read anything like Game of Thrones. There are powerful--even beautiful--novels like Vaddey Ratner's In the Shadow of the Banyan that depict events far more horrifying than anything that has happened in Westeros, yet somehow muster an emotional range that exceeds what Game of Thrones can offer. There is a realness to these books that Game of Thrones cannot hold a candle to--and when you meet those who write these kind of books you realize how insulting such a comparison is.

Art Posted by John Kranz at 10:21 AM | What do you think? [0]

May 15, 2016

Review Corner

Within a few years after the drug war was declared, however, many legal scholars noted a sharp turn in the Supreme Court's Fourth Amendment jurisprudence. By the close of the Supreme Court's 1990- 91 term, it had become clear that a major shift in the relationship between the citizens of this country and the police was under way. Justice Stevens noted the trend in a powerful dissent issued in California v. Acevedo, a case upholding the warrantless search of a bag locked in a motorist's trunk.
Review Corner stars have been devalued through inflation. Because I am too generous, yes, but also a severe case of selection bias -- I review the books I choose to buy and read. While I try to stay diverse and self-challenge, I don't fill my weekends with things I dislike. The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander was selected for me. A friend of my brother agreed to read Randy Barnett's The Republican Constitution [Review Corner] in return for which I would suffer a book of his choosing. I have done this in the past. While I won't link to the results, previous thrust-selections have been weak. I struggled to be nice and found points of agreement with a magnifying glass.

Not so with The New Jim Crow -- this is an excellent book. I fundamentally agree with its premise, that the War on Drugs is disproportionately waged on and is devastating to minorities. I prepared myself, however, for turgid, pompous, quasi-academic prose, but this is superbly crafted and an interesting read.

As expressed by one Alabama planter: "We have the power to pass stringent police laws to govern the Negroes-- this is a blessing-- for they must be controlled in some way or white people cannot live among them." 12 While some of these codes were intended to establish systems of peonage resembling slavery, others foreshadowed Jim Crow laws by prohibiting, among other things, interracial seating in the first-class sections of railroad cars and by segregating schools.

The first five (of six) chapters reads just like Reason magazine. I wish the left better understood the overlap with libertarianism. The author decries that nobody is discussing the drug war and no-knock SWAT raids, asset forfeiture, the federal role in police militarization,and usurpation of Fourth Amendment rights. I wish she read Radley Balko's books and articles -- or ThreeSources. The eeevil Koch brothers pay for countless stories, books and exposés (sadly not on ThreeSources). Let's play "Which quote is Reason and which is Professor Alexander?"
Approximately a half-million people are in prison or jail for a drug offense today, compared to an estimated 41,100 in 1980-- an increase of 1,100 percent. 2 Drug arrests have tripled since 1980. As a result, more than 31 million people have been arrested for drug offenses since the drug war began.

With only a few exceptions, the Supreme Court has seized every opportunity to facilitate the drug war, primarily by eviscerating Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures by the police. The rollback has been so pronounced that some commentators charge that a virtual "drug exception" now exists to the Bill of Rights. Shortly before his death, Justice Thurgood Marshall felt compelled to remind his colleagues that there is, in fact, "no drug exception" written into the text of the Constitution.

Those were Professor Alexander, but you wouldn't have bet money She highlights small stories in major media outlets but never mentions extensive coverage in Reason, John Stossel's show, the old "The Independents" on Fox Business. Granted her point of widespread general knowledge is not disproven by a Reason cover (or 20), but I wonder if it did not fit or is not known.

Also at home in Reason is the abuse of prosecutorial authority, the lack of due process in a system that threatens large minimum sentencing terms to get pleas, and then the destruction of liberty of these newly minted felons.

The term mass incarceration refers not only to the criminal justice system but also to the larger web of laws, rules, policies, and customs that control those labeled criminals both in and out of prison.

Alexander is clear that she is discussing something far larger than the drug war -- and when we get to Chapter Six, there are important and substantive differences. Yet almost all of her examples are taken from the Drug War. She clearly sees a continuation of oppression consistent with her title, yet I read an indictment of the War on Drugs. Police powers were expanded, Constitutional protections reduced, and budgets exploded to wage domestic war.

I am less comfortable than Alexander to assert a racist mens rea. I see a clear "Bootleggers & Baptists" confederacy similar to the first prohibition, There are some bad players: drug cartels, private correctional facilities' seeing an opportunity to expand top-line revenue, and yes, some nonzero number of racists have a seat at the table perpetuating these policies. Alexandria mentions but underplays "The Baptists." There are extremely legitimate reasons to oppose drugs, though I find prohibition misguided. But both sides exist across racial boundaries.

As Vanessa Barker describes in The Politics of Imprisonment, black activists in Harlem, alarmed by rising crime rates, actively campaigned for what would become the notorious Rockefeller drug laws as well as other harsh sentencing measures. Wittingly or unwittingly, they found themselves complicit in the emergence of a penal system unprecedented in world history.

I will address, in a separate post, the important relationship between this book and Randy Barnett's. I cannot put words in his mouth, but suspect that he -- like me -- would read chapters 1-5 and nod approvingly as she describes the history, and problems. The additional burden of being labeled a felon after a plea is an important addition to the corpora. A young and innocent Mom is bullied into a plea with threats of prison time and removal of her child. When she takes it, she has lost, in most states, her right to vote, serve on a jury, or own a gun. She then faces severe employment hurdles and loss of government benefits. Have a nice day --- the prosecutor is running for higher office.

Alexander's most compelling case for racism is the disparity in punishment for drunk-driving and crack: two media frenzies of the 1980s. Both saw stepped up enforcement and media hype. But drunk driving with a higher body count did not see 10 year minimum sentences. A DUI will ruin a middle class person's month but he or she will not likely lose a job, be disenfranchised, or see more than a few hours behind bars. Crack: yes, yes, and yes.

At the close of the decade, drunk drivers were responsible for approximately 22,000 deaths annually, while overall alcohol-related deaths were close to 100,000 a year. By contrast, during the same time period, there were no prevalence statistics at all on crack, much less crack-related deaths. In fact, the number of deaths related to all illegal drugs combined was tiny compared to the number of deaths caused by drunk drivers.

In Chapter Six, we do part ways. Like many anarchist and conservative books, I can agree with a description of the problem more readily than the solution. Professor Alexander would like "more government, please." These racist, ill-accounted for and unstoppable cretins who are destroying our communities and ruining our lives should be helping with housing and job training, and assistance, and watching our toddlers.
To begin with, the argument implies that African Americans prefer harsh criminal justice policies to other forms of governmental intervention, such as job creation, economic development, educational reform, and restorative justice programs, as the long-term solution to problems associated with crime.

Freedom and a basic protection of rights to life, liberty and property are not a solution to Professor Alexander, and the Chapter Six I keep invoking is a direct refutation of all my suggestions in the previous five. She does not want a "colorblind" solution, but one that specifically recognizes the existence of racism and aims specifically at remedy. She interestingly rejects affirmative action and chides civil rights leaders who have fixated on preserving it over what she feels are more important issues.
For conservatives, the ideal of colorblindness is linked to a commitment to individualism. In their view, society should be concerned with individuals, not groups. Gross racial disparities in health, wealth, education, and opportunity should be of no interest to our government, and racial identity should be a private matter, something best kept to ourselves. For liberals, the ideal of colorblindness is linked to the dream of racial equality. The hope is that one day we will no longer see race because race will lose all of its significance. In this fantasy, eventually race will no longer be a factor in mortality rates, the spread of disease, educational or economic opportunity, or the distribution of wealth.

I plead guilty to the Conservative critique. Rights and freedom fix this, beginning with what Randy Barnett calls "the inalienable right to property in our own person." Recognizing this means no Drug War; recognizing a requirement for mens rea stops the incarceration of non-violent offenders and capricious enforcement; and respect for the Fourth and Fifth Amendments ends stop-and-frisk and reestablishes a right "to security in one's person."

Freedom, professor. Freedom fixes what you see to be broken.

I will do another long post on how Branett's "Republican Constitution" addresses this, but this book is worthy of its own review. Four stars and a solid recommendation

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

May 13, 2016

This lawyer seems to lose in court a lot

When the Obama Administration actually goes to court, they seem to have a rough go:

Judge Collyer takes 38 pages to eviscerate the Administration's claim that it can infer an appropriation if Congress has merely authorized a program. Congress authorizes all sorts of programs without spending money on them in one year or another. Presidents before Mr. Obama have understood that no money can be spent without an express appropriation.

The ruling is a vindication of the separation of powers under the Constitution, which in Article I gives Congress sole power over spending. This is a crucial check on tyranny. If a President can combine the legislative power to spend with the power to execute the laws, he can ignore Congress and govern by whim.

This is what Mr. Obama has attempted to do in his second term, famously claiming "I've got a pen and I’ve got a phone." He taunted Congress by saying, "so sue me," and then he called the suit a "stunt."

And then lost.

But johngalt thinks:

If I were to hazard a guess as to President Obama's greatest regret in office, it would be that he so timidly waited some six-odd years to start behaving imperiously.

Posted by: johngalt at May 13, 2016 12:14 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Seriously, if there was an opposition party and Obama got sued to block his illegal actions more frequently, by now he'd have lost more court cases than Hamilton Berger.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at May 13, 2016 12:28 PM
But johngalt thinks:

You mean, like this?

Posted by: johngalt at May 13, 2016 3:51 PM

All Hail Jonah!

Still, it boggles the mind that anyone can see the folly of having the government take over Amazon or Facebook but be blind to the problems of having the government run health care. -- Jonah Goldberg

May 12, 2016

Make Washington D.C. Work Again

Since the Indiana primary, I have been squinting my eyes in search of silver linings in the dark cloud of Trump. I think I see faint outlines, and have attempted to sow optimism both on these pages [3rd and 4th comments] and privately.

One of those faint outlines is fairly well drawn out by Washington Times' Charles Hurt. It is not fair to cherry pick but I think his close is most enticing:

Donald Trump may terrify Democrats and horrify Republicans in Washington. He may be a vulgarian to the professional Beltway punditry that has blithely ignored the devolution of the American dream.

But, looking down from the clouds painted inside the dome of the U.S. Capitol, the founders are smiling and see the first hope in decades for returning power to the people.

[emphasis mine]

By Charles Hurt - - Wednesday, May 11, 2016


Unruly voters have elected an opportunistic showman as their presidential nominee. They were aided by infiltrators in the primary who were not even Republicans.

The nominee, Donald Trump, is a reality star billionaire real estate developer who has a history of vacillating political allegiances. He even made campaign donations to the most evil countess of the Democratic Party, Hillary Clinton, who is designed to be her party’s nominee against Mr. Trump.

Into the breach steps Speaker of the House Paul D. Ryan, the highest elected Republican in the land. He declares he is not ready — in good conscience — to support his own party’s nominee for president because Mr. Trump has not demonstrated he is a good and principled conservative.

And, once again, the Washington political punditry begins another wildly premature funeral dirge for Mr. Trump’s campaign, the Republican Party’s hold on power in Washington.

Meanwhile, loyal and thoughtful conservative voters who do not care for Mr. Trump’s bombast and harbor justifiable concerns about his devotion to Republican “principles” are despondent.

There goes the White House, they say, the Senate, the House and the Supreme Court. And, with socialist Democrats running amok, there goes the republic and the world’s greatest beacon of hope and freedom.

Or, perhaps we are seeing something entirely different. Maybe this is a rekindling of the finest dreams envisioned by our founders.

In a time of great economic distress with high unemployment and a sluggish economy, a non-ideological businessman is pitted for the presidency against an insufferable and strictly partisan hack who has been an integral cog in the broken political system for three decades.

The businessman will win. And the party hag will be sent off to a long-needed retirement of bitterness and scorn.

On Capitol Hill, Republicans will keep the House and — if they don’t screw it up — keep the Senate.

Yet, with the Supreme Court in the balance, these Republicans in Congress will maintain a skeptical eye down Pennsylvania Avenue at their new leader. They will question his motives and pick apart his proposals.

When his proposals wobble too far from the conservatism they are now vowing to protect, lawmakers can reign him in. If he nominates someone to the Supreme Court who is not worthy to replace the late, great Justice Antonin Scalia, they can reject the nominee.

And the voters will reward them for it! The democratic republic our founders envisioned will be restored!

For too long, both parties have fallen into the deep rut of partisan blindness. On both sides of the aisle, party politics comes before American interests at every turn.

Story Continues →

Continued from page 1

Both Democrats and Republicans in Congress have unilaterally surrendered vast amounts of power to the presidency. Congress — the first branch of government closest to the will of the people — as been neutered.

Former President George W. Bush had his Republicans in Congress and President Obama has his Democrats. As a result, Americans have been saddled with a vast expansion of the federal government into every aspect of our personal lives. The debt burden is, literally, unfathomable.

Donald Trump may terrify Democrats and horrify Republicans in Washington. He may be a vulgarian to the professional Beltway punditry that has blithely ignored the devolution of the American dream.

But, looking down from the clouds painted inside the dome of the U.S. Capitol, the founders are smiling and see the first hope in decades for returning power to the people.

• Charles Hurt can be reached at Follow him on Twitter via @charleshurt.

But jk thinks:

I cannot open that page. One of the ads assaults my browser both on iPad and two different browsers on Windows. I'll take your word, but if I may generalize...

I read many items that suggest a GOP voter should overcome bad personality traits: "Vote for the boorish lout, It's important?" My vote is currently unclaimed because I find his professed policies actually worse than Sec. Clinton's.

Should Sen. Sanders prevail -- and I still find that probability nonzero -- I will vigorously support Trump. Because they are equally bad on trade and Mister Trump is clearly better on domestic policy. Vulgarianism and all.

Posted by: jk at May 13, 2016 9:45 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I meant to warn about the heavy scripting. I'll try to lift the text and paste into the "continue reading."

Yesterday my sister, with the help of Scott Adams, helped me see why Donald appeals to so many, so much more powerfully, than he does to Three Sourcers. It's because he addresses them on an intentionally irrational level. Those of us who look for consistency in principles are listening to a man who speaks a foreign language. (It's not just Donald who does this, by the way, but many, or even most, successful politicians.)

It goes like this.

Posted by: johngalt at May 13, 2016 12:04 PM

Otequay of the Ayday

If anything, the hypocritical boycotting of Trump by the Ryans, Bushes, and Roves enhances Trump's crossover appeal with independents and working-class Dems. The more that he is hated down at the GOP yacht club, the more he appears as a regular guy in the eyes of voters. Meanwhile, the Tea Party Republicans interpret the boycotting as a sign that Trump is too politically incorrect for the effete GOP elite and cleave to him even more tightly.

In the end, such resistance may prove a political boon to Trump and complicate Hillary's customary anti-Republican demagoguery.

- George Neumayr, 'The Narrow Door to the GOP's Big Tent'

Vote for the Crook, It's Important!


Donald Trump's plan to get tough with China, Japan and Mexico could cost the average U.S. household more than $6,000 a year if carried to its logical extreme, with the burden falling hardest on households with the lowest income, according to a new report from the National Foundation for American Policy, which describes itself as a nonpartisan research group.

"We find that a Trump tariff proposal against all countries would cost U.S. consumers $459 billion annually and $2.29 trillion over five years," David Tuerck and Paul Bachman, a pair of economists at Suffolk University in Boston, write in the report. "Our analysis finds that the Trump tariffs would manifest themselves as a 30.5 percent increase in the price of competing domestic producer goods and therefore, as a cut in real wages."

That, and the worldwide global depression.

2016 Posted by John Kranz at 1:05 PM | What do you think? [2]
But nanobrewer thinks:

I imagine if one digs down into their "analysis" one finds distinct possibilities of gopher-on-cat bestiality, fracking causing baldness, and any number of bad things generally assigned to 'climate change.'

Seriously, enough of this projection-analysis propo!

Posted by: nanobrewer at May 13, 2016 12:41 AM
But jk thinks:

You say "gopher-on-cat bestiality" like it's a bad thing...

I don't know that this model is perfect, but I reject that this stretches credulity. Prices are going up, it's going to cost people more seems to be a reasonable projection.

Posted by: jk at May 13, 2016 10:04 AM

Random Daylight Savings Time

Okay, at least our "Gub'mint Time" is predictable. In Chile, not so much.They have tinkered to the point which different networks and different devices display different local times.

That leads a wife's phone to say one time, but her husband's another, ruining lunch plans. The owner of an antique clock store arrives late for work because the time on his cellphone moved back an hour when it shouldn't have. And an engineer has to improvise a presentation to a client when a younger colleague shows up an hour late, convinced he was on time.

"People were just confused for days," said entrepreneur Sean Park, who missed meetings recently after his electronic clocks changed when they shouldn't have.

Chilean technology expert Cristian Ocaña compares the country's self-inflicted dilemma with the Y2K bug that showed incorrect dates on some computers: "This affects our resources and it upsets a lot of people."

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 10:58 AM | What do you think? [0]

May 11, 2016


It's almost as if the stock prices were held artificially high by subsidies. Naah, that couldn't happen! IBD says the rally is on (thanks to Amazon!) But the solar sector is gtetting massacred.

On the downside, SolarEdge Technologies (SEDG) fell 18% to 18.53 in huge volume despite a spectacular Q1 report that included a 164% jump in earnings of 58 cents a share, trouncing Wall Street's consensus view by 45%. The solar panel inverter expert's net margin sharpened to 18.6%, a quarterly high. Yet sales growth of 45% to $125.2 million represented a slowdown from revenue gains of 183%, 121%, 72% and 70% in the prior four quarters, respectively.

SolarCity (SCTY) also got rocked, sinking 24% to 17, nearly taking out its Feb. 11 all-time low of 16.31. Volume was running more than five times its 50-day average. The solar systems installer suffered a wider net loss in Q1 at 25 cents a share and cut full-year guidance. The company is also feeling the chilling effect of a decision by the state of Nevada to cut solar-energy-related subsidies to homeowners and businesses.

The Energy-Solar subgroup ranks in the bottom quartile of IBD's 197 group rankings and is down 43% year to date.

Watt's Up With That? wonders if Elon Musk is overrated. They may say that, I couldn't possibly comment...

NR Says #Never

I must confess to joining Jonah Goldberg in pride at National Review's staunch refusal to pull a Jindal and support Trump. Jim Geraghty [subscribe]:

Sure, a Trump victory would leave Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and the entire Democratic party in utter despair -- and if you're a conservative, that thought probably makes you smile!

The problem is that I don't want a less leftist version of Obama's executive-order-prone, Congress-ignoring, government-expanding, tax-hiking, IRS-abusing presidency. I want limited government, smaller and less expensive government, more individual liberty, and a strict adherence to the limits on government power enshrined in the Constitution. I want Rick Perry's vision of a Washington D.C. that is less and less relevant to the lives of average Americans. Ultimately, I want politics to reverse the intense entanglement with pop culture that started with MTV's "Rock the Vote" in 1992 and go back to being the land of the nerds and policy wonks -- leaving governing to the people who actually care about the issues at hand. Make Politics Boring Again!

2016 Posted by John Kranz at 4:42 PM | What do you think? [5]
But johngalt thinks:

A wise blogger said: Reasonable World™ was three stops back; you should have have disembarked. Perhaps if you get off at the next stop and take the 223 crosstown to the Red Line...

Posted by: johngalt at May 11, 2016 4:54 PM
But jk thinks:

...and probably babbled something about "Rick Perry's vision not being on the menu..."

A lot can happen and I must admit to being out of the never camp. Were a CLinton-Trump election held tomorrow I would write in or undervote. We shall see.

Posted by: jk at May 11, 2016 5:06 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Like anything else, politics has a certain inertia. This pre-convention period is the appropriate time for hand-wringing and grief-espousing. The candidacy will evolve, and soon be about more than just Trump. There will be a veep, some cabinet secretaries, maybe even a SCOTUS short-list. Or, if some of my crazier FakeBook friends are prescient, Trump may be assassinated by the Bilderberg group before he can de-throne their cabal.

For now... deep breaths.

Posted by: johngalt at May 11, 2016 5:39 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Is it out of line to hope that he makes a really solid VP choice, and then strokes out sometime between Election Day and Inauguration Day?

Asking for a friend.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at May 11, 2016 5:50 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

KHOW's Ross Kaminsky had Jed Babbin on this morn who said quite sagely: we know how bad Hillary will be (USSC, Foreign Policy, free speech...), but we can hope that Trump won't be so bad, b/c he's a blank slate.

I loathe The Donald, but I'm willing to listen to entreaties b/w now and November, and will certainly be pulling for down-ticket GOPers (heaven help our US Senator wannabees!), as a dutiful PCP and really will be focused on "listening."

Posted by: nanobrewer at May 12, 2016 12:27 AM

Whites Only

Jason Riley has some injustice for you today.

Ms. White said. "I couldn't believe it. I said to myself, maybe I'm reading this wrong. Then I called the principal and said, 'You do realize this says Edmond can't come to the school because he's black, right?' "

Edmund White is a St. Louis Third Grader whose family moved to the 'burbs to escape crime. He would be welcome to stay at the charter school where he is thriving. Except the planners need African-American students to make their quota spreadsheets balance.

Sorry, Mr. Plessey, but we need you in the "Coloreds" car. You understand, don't you?

Education Posted by John Kranz at 9:41 AM | What do you think? [0]

May 10, 2016

Those Who Wish Me Dead...

I think I'll let sleeping dogs lie on Facebook, but I am tempted to share Ronald Bailey's post "One-Fifth of Earth's Plants Threatened with Extinction: Recent trends on population, farmland, deforestation, and urbanization are cause for optimism."

The new data on the vulnerability of plants to extinction from the Kew researchers is sobering, but there are lots of positive trends that suggest that the 21st century will be a century of environmental renewal, rather than one of ecological ruin.

Bailey uses excerpts from his supurb "End of Doom" [Review Corner] to show positive trends in ecological stewardship.


Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 6:00 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

What is the cause of species extinction?? Evolution, mostly.

"Through evolution, species arise through the process of speciation—where new varieties of organisms arise and thrive when they are able to find and exploit an ecological niche—and species become extinct when they are no longer able to survive in changing conditions or against superior competition. The relationship between animals and their ecological niches has been firmly established."

Because: science.

Posted by: johngalt at May 10, 2016 7:37 PM


Listening to EconTalk today. I don't know that I am compelled by gust Pedro Domingo's theories on machine learning, but I enjoyed this quote Russ Roberts pulled out and the ensuing discussion:

"The problem is not that computers will get too smart and take over the world. The problem is that computers are too stupid and they have already taken over the world." (~37:00)

Technology Posted by John Kranz at 4:10 PM | What do you think? [1]
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at May 10, 2016 5:28 PM

Libertario Delenda Est

Ari Armstrong nails it.

But, paradoxically, the fact that the Republican Party is in such a sorry state is a reason for liberty advocates to stick with the Republican Party (or join or rejoin it), not abandon it.

Please note that I am calling on liberty activists to officially join the Republican Party and become active in it, not necessarily to always vote for Republican candidates. (Certainly I will not vote for Trump.)

Sometimes, the most effective way to participate in a party is to refuse to support its unworthy candidates, so as to encourage the selection of more-worthy candidates down the road.

But johngalt thinks:

That is one pundits opinion, and I agree with ninety nine percent of it. Here are 18 others, most of them brief, from Legal Insurrection contributors.

Special mention for Casey Breznick and A.F. Branco.

Posted by: johngalt at May 10, 2016 5:59 PM
But jk thinks:

And my special mention for William Jacobson.

Posted by: jk at May 10, 2016 6:15 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Good choice. I really don't get the folks rushing to insist that they'll never vote Trump. What are they afraid of, guilt by association? Some kind of "moral stain" from not denouncing him and everything he stands for with the greatest of zeal?

"Trump proves Republicans are racists!" Maybe. But maybe, mostly, they're just tired of being called racist... and sexist and homophobic, no matter what. Maybe they, the ones eager to vote for Trump, just want to say they have a right to think what they want and live like they want, whether or not the PC Police approve. I can dig that. It is a free country and all.

Posted by: johngalt at May 10, 2016 7:29 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Continuing the theme, here is Colorado's own John Andrews, "Reagan-Goldwater-Buckley conservative" who preferred Scott Walker or Ted Cruz, giving Ten Reasons I switched to Trump from never Trump.

And from the other side, Brad Thor who writes, near the end of a long explanation I completely agree with, the following:

"But between a big government progressive and a potential despot - every American must ask themselves [sic] where liberty has the greatest chance to survive over the next four years.

As a Constitutional conservative, I take solace in, and guidance from the words of Alexander Hamilton, who in the election of 1800 said, "If we must have an enemy at the head of government, let it be one whom we can oppose, and for whom we are not responsible."

Two points. First, our three-branch system of government was literally designed to protect the Republic from despots. Its ability to protect against big government progressives, however, has been proven lacking. Second, we (Republicans) can oppose either of these two potential presidents. Where is it written that a party never opposes its own president? Furthermore, who believes Congress' testicular fortitude will be larger in opposition to Hillary than to Donald? Third (yes I said two, but this is perhaps most important) "we" are not responsible for either of them. We, as individuals, may merely support, lobby, and ultimately vote. Democracy is responsible for our predicament. Let the blame rest where it belongs, and abandon misguided thoughts of aiding and abetting another Democratic presidential term as some sort of principled "message" to the democratic process. It doesn't care. What it's done and what it's doing are in its nature.

Posted by: johngalt at May 11, 2016 2:30 PM
But jk thinks:

Big big big time respect for Andrews -- that' an appeal to authority with weight for me.

That said, I'm uncompelled.

Andrews begins in agreement with Trump's "America First" and immigration, so he is making excuses for bad behavior. I start with fundamental and deep-seated (I may have mentioned it once) disagreement.

Two out of ten on down-ticket races. Hate to disagree on tactics with a former Speaker, but I don't see sticking together's helping -- especially in Colorado where he will be uniquely unpopular. I suggest [principled and respectful opposition to the party's nominee might be seen as candor. It will suck for the downticket, but I don't see "let's all pull together" as a way out.

Supreme Court Yes, here's where my #neversaynever comes out to play. But throw me a bone, Donald! I saw a rumor he would let Heritage make picks. I'd prefer Reason, but I am in if he provides convincing evidence that his are worth fighting for. Examples of how bad Sec. Clinton's is not good enough. Far more principled Republicans have "screwed the pooch" on this (If I may dip into legal jargon) and "they'll be t'r'ffic" will not suffice.

Posted by: jk at May 11, 2016 3:27 PM

All Hail Taranto!

It's been days...


Unintended Consequences

I love this.

Penn & Teller point out that a hybrid car, by carrying an extra motor and drive train "is liking having a couple extra lesbians in your trunk!" (You maybe have to see the whole show...) Well, it turns out that that extra weight, considering the brakes to stop it and the tyres tires to turn it, ends up eclipsing the economic benefits from the cleaner energy source.

Electric, hybrid and other eco-friendly cars fill the air with as many toxins as dirty diesel vehicles, scientists have found.

The greener alternative produce more tiny particles from tyre and brake wear because batteries and other parts needed to propel them make them heavier.

It happens because when eco-cars accelerate or slow down the tyres and brakes wear faster, in turn producing more particulates. More particles are also whipped up from the road surface because of the extra weight.These extra emissions are almost equal to the toxic particulates saved by reduced engine use, according to Jonathan Leake at The Sunday Times

UPDATE: In completely unrelated news, Elon Musk is a Crony Capitalist:
Tesla does not make money by selling cars, either. It makes money by selling "carbon credits" to real car companies that make functionally and economically viable vehicles that can and do sell on the merits -- but which are not "zero emissions" vehicles, as the electric Tesla is claimed to be.

But johngalt thinks:

Not so fast! (with the love)

Professor Sokhi said the findings highlighted the significance of non-exhaust emissions and a need for legislation.

And this:

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Department of Transport said eco-vehicles still had huge benefits in cutting CO2 emissions.

Neener neener! Bitumen, rubber and brake dust aren't "pollution" - CO2 is!

Posted by: johngalt at May 10, 2016 2:11 PM

Peace and Love, Peace and Love!

One of the famous lefty Facebook Friends posts a PBS/NOVA story.

The World's Largest Primate Could Be Extinct Within a Decade
After years of uncertainty, an international team of conservationists has finally been able to confirm the number of Grauer's gorillas left in the world.

Formerly known as the eastern lowland gorilla, this massive mammal is the largest primate on Earth. Despite its enormous size, years of civil unrest in the Democratic Republic of Congo have decimated this subspecies' populations.

Tragic. If memory serves, some people were affected as well. There was that Rwandan Genocide, multi-decadal war. But, yes the devastation of habitat is tragic.

Here are the comments. I know they're all Saganists, but I was staggered at this discourse:


UPDATE: As the great political philosopher Johnny Mercer told us "fools rush in, where Angels fear to tread." I suggested that I had stumbled onto the peace and love hippie page. And, well:


Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 10:27 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Update again when one of the little snowflakes finally gets around to, "Hitler had the right idea, it just should have been Christians instead of Jews."

Posted by: johngalt at May 10, 2016 12:00 PM

May 9, 2016

A Good Day

When Neil deGrasse Tyson gets whacked, it is a good day!

Conflating Smug with Science

Indeed, Neil deGrasse Tyson is a walking, talking reminder that having a Ph.D. doesn't make you a good scientist, let alone morally superior. If even Wired thinks Tyson's shtick is tired, maybe he'll decide to zip it for a while and spare us his offensively trite lectures about "Science."

Science Posted by John Kranz at 5:51 PM | What do you think? [1]
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Someone once said that sometimes, a BS is BS, an MS is More of the Same, and a PHD is the same, Piled Higher and Deeper.

I do believe that this applies in the case on NdGT.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at May 9, 2016 6:19 PM

Gotta Laugh Sometimes


On the web Posted by John Kranz at 4:33 PM | What do you think? [7]
But johngalt thinks:

So Trump is like Hitler... because Trump wants to "get that damn Rapture thing to actually fucking happen, then the rest of us left behind could have the chance to right the ship!"

Got it.

Posted by: johngalt at May 10, 2016 12:03 PM
But jk thinks:

Just laughing, not comparing. The guy who posted this to "Friends of Best of the Web" on Facebook had to backtrack. For absolute clarity, let me state that I in no way compare Trump to Hitler or to my friend's misanthropic friends.

Posted by: jk at May 10, 2016 12:19 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Good clarification. Comparisons to Hitler always backfire - as this one apparently did.

But being side-by-side with clueless little Earth worshipping societal remoras wishing for the mass extinction of humans, specifically those who believe in Rapture, was too hypocritical to let pass without mention.

Posted by: johngalt at May 10, 2016 1:21 PM
But jk thinks:

ThreeSources apologizes for all misunderstandings, but I still find it amusing. I'm perhaps a very bad person and should "go be with Jeebus..."

Posted by: jk at May 10, 2016 3:06 PM
But AndyN thinks:

I think this perfectly explains why not everybody understood where you were going with this...

Posted by: AndyN at May 10, 2016 4:59 PM
But jk thinks:


Posted by: jk at May 10, 2016 5:05 PM

Humorous Video of the once in a while

While searching for the "You got an F" video I commented with on jk's Libertarian-tard post, I found this one that also deserves sharing:

Passing? OMG.

Humor Posted by JohnGalt at 2:18 PM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:


Posted by: jk at May 9, 2016 3:53 PM

Public Ownership of the Means of Time

Now the regime has shifted the country's time zone forward 30 minutes to try and reduce electricity usage in the evenings. This comes nine years after Maduro's predecessor, Hugo Chavez, moved clocks back 30 minutes in a misguided attempt to allow children to walk to school in daylight. -- WND
Those foolish Venezuelan Socialists! I'm glad we'd never try such foolish manipulations here in 'Murcuh!
Venezuela Posted by John Kranz at 12:27 PM | What do you think? [2]
But Keith Arnold thinks:

I suppose German Mavare is currently enjoying the good fortune of not having to adjust his wristwatch again. Ever.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at May 9, 2016 1:01 PM
But jk thinks:

Can't make omelet without breaking egg, Comrade.

Posted by: jk at May 9, 2016 3:54 PM

Libertario Delenda Est

If you won't listen to me (a reasonable reaction), listen to Glenn Reynolds. He's, like, a Law Professor:


But Keith Arnold thinks:

I'll see yours, and raise:

Anyone care to weigh in on this? In a reasonable world, this would torpedo the #feelthejohnson movement among liberty-minded individuals. I wonder if I can find a reasonable world, where I can test that hypothesis.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at May 9, 2016 12:33 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Awesome link, ka. Read the whole thing everyone. Do not pass Go and do not collect $200 until you do! Until then, an appetizer:

For the life of me, I can’t explain why a libertarian would be upset about this. It certainly puts the lie to the rest of his supposed libertarian beliefs.

And apparently none of the other Libertarian-tard candidates for Prez are pure on the issue either.

So there you go, purity-testers - all your guys FAILED! Please play again. Insert coin here.

Posted by: johngalt at May 9, 2016 1:56 PM
But jk thinks:

Reasonable World™ was three stops back; you should have have disembarked. Perhaps if you get off at the next stop and take the 223 crosstown to the Red Line...

But my argument is tactical and procedural. Assume Gov. Gary Johnson is perfect. Further assume that the Democrats nominate a shiftless, uncharismatic crook (it's a thought experiment -- work with me here...) and the Republicans an unmoored authoritarian.

What states would he win? Are there enough liberty votes to provide any electoral votes?

These candidates get their fractional percentages with zero headwinds. The negative ads against Libertarians write themselves. At least the oppo research would not have to lie: "Legal Heroin???!!!"

Posted by: jk at May 9, 2016 2:28 PM

Quote of the Day

When asked to explain that how businesses could get a tax increase and reduction, he said that businesses "might have to pay a little bit more than my proposal, not more than they pay now." His campaign didn't respond to a request for further clarification. -- WSJ (News Page)
2016 Posted by John Kranz at 10:09 AM | What do you think? [3]
But Keith Arnold thinks:

"Today, Mr. Trump announced that our chocolate ration would be raised to twenty grams per week..."

Posted by: Keith Arnold at May 9, 2016 12:57 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Hillary's proposal is clearer and more taxpayer friendly?

Hey WSJ, the primary is over.

Posted by: johngalt at May 9, 2016 1:46 PM
But jk thinks:

I mentioned, perhaps on Facebook, the Tea Party clickbait article my lovely bride found. It had three demands of Mr. Trump to get teh Tea Party vote:

1. A Conservative VP
2. A Growth-oriented tax plan
(And here I chimed in "He's got one! Larry Kudlow and Steven Moore say it is great!" Oops, he is revising and extending his remarks this week.)

3. For those still tuned in, was to provide his SUpreme Court picks.
I had to admit that this might draw me out of #nevertrump. Were he to suggest three super SCOTUS picks, I'd have to look at his being better than Sec. Clinton.

Posted by: jk at May 9, 2016 4:00 PM

May 8, 2016

Quote of the Day

Or consider it a partial Review Corner. Deirdre McCloskey has closed her trilogy with an (750 page) exclamation point. It is too good to read quickly and far too important and comprehensive to summarize. I'll share some quotes along the way and some effusive, fatuous praise at the end. This section compares Adam Smith, Jane Austen, and Benjamin Franklin.

In Smith's time, and now again in the regulatory state, few believed that a masterless society would be possible. The haunting fear by governing elites supported by worried citizens stirred up by an antitrade clerisy was then, as it still is, that ordinary people will do bad things if left alone. Unless overawed by the threat of state violence in police or planning or regulation, ordinary people, especially the lower classes, will spurn priests, stop paying their rents and taxes, not save enough for old age, kill each other, not buy enough insurance, speak against the government, appear with hair uncovered, refuse military service, drink to excess, commit unnatural acts, use naughty words, chew gum, smoke marihuana--committing in sum, as Bill Murray put it in Ghost Busters, "human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria." -- Deirdre McCloskey

May 7, 2016

I'm still not interested

But the tireless ones at PowerLine turned up a 1990 Playboy interview with YKW, which isn't too bad:

The good:
PB: Sometimes you sound like a Presidential candidate stirring up the voters.
Well, if I ever ran for office, I’d do better as a Democrat than as a Republican–and that’s not because I’d be more liberal, because I’m conservative. But the working guy would elect me. He likes me. When I walk down the street, those cabbies start yelling out their windows.

Yes, it would be nice - and necessary! - to have the working class look favorably on the GOP and not as the 8-martini lunch crowd (talking about you, Boehner, Cantor...) that wants to cut back on giveaways to the lower classes.

PB: Would you rescue our remaining hostages in Lebanon?
Number one, in almost all cases, the hostages were told by our Government not to be there... You feel very bad for him, but you cannot base foreign policy on his capture.

PB: Do you think George Bush is soft?
I like George Bush very much and support him and always will. But I disagree with him when he talks of a kinder, gentler America. I think if this country gets any kinder or gentler, it’s literally going to cease to exist.

I'm a happy conduit for the bad, so I'll briefly echo what else I saw

PB: What’s the first thing President Trump would do upon entering the Oval Office?
Many things. A toughness of attitude would prevail. I’d throw a tax on every Mercedes-Benz rolling into this country and on all Japanese products, and we’d have wonderful allies again.

Leaving it at that ...

May 6, 2016

Quote of the Day

Trigger warning: Watching an ’85 K-Car screeching through slalom cones and looking like it could tip at any moment is not for the faint of heart.-- Ed Driscoll

Quote of the Day

Maybe it should be a verb: To be Guccifered. Though maybe, in Hillary Clinton's case, it would be better phrased as a crime. As in: "They got her on a Guccifer." -- Kim Strasel
But Keith Arnold thinks:

I'm wondering if Guccifer would be found in my Roget's, as a synonym for "petard."

Posted by: Keith Arnold at May 6, 2016 12:33 PM

May 5, 2016

Despondent? I'm not Despondent!

Brother jg -- sagaciously -- implores patience. I am actually in a calm state on the jk scale, perhaps reaching "acceptance" in the five stages of grief.

David French at National Review is rebuilding from the ashes. No, the fire has not yet arrived, but proactive planning is all the rage:

Fourth, reject the cult of celebrity in favor of building enduring, meaningful conservative cultural institutions. If the current election cycle has revealed anything, it’s demonstrated that large chunks of the celebrity Right -- you know, the people who spent most of the last ten years or so calling out "RINOs" and proclaiming themselves the true arbiters of American conservatism -- have proven that they're little more than populist audience-whores, following where the lowest common denominator leads.

But nanobrewer thinks:

Coward; he doesn't name names in the 'celebrity right.'

Posted by: nanobrewer at May 5, 2016 11:41 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I will then: Sean Hannity.

Posted by: johngalt at May 6, 2016 1:20 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

Good thing I gave up on listening to him ages ago... Personally, I like JG's assertion that we adopt 'Republicanism' for now, and shuck conservatism so we can sweep the SIC issues under the rug and begin to reassert the importance of limited gov't, personal freedom & responsibility. I'll propose it when I get to meet my other local leaders.

Posted by: nanobrewer at May 7, 2016 9:18 AM

May 4, 2016

Otequay of the Ayday

Trump proved that many of the party's moderates and establishmentarians hate the thought of a True Conservative nominee even more than they fear handing the nomination to a proto-fascist grotesque with zero political experience and poor impulse control. That goes for the prominent politicians who refused to endorse Cruz, the prominent donors who sat on their hands once the field narrowed and all the moderate-Republican voters in blue states who turned out to be #NeverCruz first and #NeverTrump less so or even not at all. -Ross Douthat

Quote of the Day

This year, small government conservatives discovered they are much more of a minority than they ever thought they were. They learned that their old dream of nominating and electing someone who could clearly articulate the conservative cause is more of a pipe dream fantasy. They discovered that a lot of people who call themselves "conservative" on those surveys have their own idiosyncratic definitions of the word. And they may wish they were back in the Big Tent of yesterday, the one that got blown down and ripped apart and can no longer give them the shelter and nourish the illusion that they are very strong in number and influence. -- Neo-Neocon
Nailed it for me. The whole piece is purdy good.
Politics Posted by John Kranz at 12:54 PM | What do you think? [7]
But Jk thinks:

But, Comrade Trotsky, U.S. National Politics still interested in you.

Posted by: Jk at May 5, 2016 6:42 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Honestly, I'd much prefer to see the Republican party dominated by a different ideology than conservatism. Something more like, maybe, republicanism.

Posted by: johngalt at May 5, 2016 4:35 PM
But jk thinks:

Quote of the Day! Do you want attribution if I Facebook it or (some guy I know?)

Posted by: jk at May 5, 2016 4:53 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Sure, but it may also benefit from a definition of what is "republicanism." I updated the comment with a link to the Wikipedia entry that does a fine job, near as I can tell.

Posted by: johngalt at May 5, 2016 5:21 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

Yes, conservatism has not recovered from Bush-43's erm "version."

This bears quoting:

It stresses liberty and unalienable rights as central values, making people sovereign as a whole, rejects aristocracy and inherited political power, expects citizens to be independent in their performance of civic duties, and vilifies corruption.[2] American republicanism was founded and first practiced by the Founding Fathers in the 18th century. For them, according to one team of historians, "republicanism represented more than a particular form of government. It was a way of life, a core ideology, an uncompromising commitment to liberty, and a total rejection of aristocracy."
What we can say is the 'party' of Cantor, McConnel, Boehner and DeLay is dead!

Long live Cotton, Gowdy, Ernst, Scott, Walker, Pence, Jindal, Fiorina, Martinez....

Posted by: nanobrewer at May 5, 2016 11:17 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Seriously nano, as Republicans, why are we concerned with "conservatism?" When did that become our guiding principle? Is it, like the word "liberal" simply repeated often enough that it has become accepted as the gold-standard of Constitutional fidelity?

Why do (did) we consider ourselves "small-government conservatives" or "Constitutional conservatives" instead of small-government or Constitutional republicans? Or simply, Republicans?

The reality is that the terms republican and Republican are distinctive only in print, and the term Republican has been quite thoroughly smeared by the left - much the same as the term liberal has been smeared by the right.

Posted by: johngalt at May 7, 2016 9:03 AM



But Keith Arnold thinks:

With Cruz out of the contest, Kasich's patrons have decided that his usefulness has come to an end.

They got what they wanted. I hope they get it good and hard.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at May 4, 2016 1:27 PM
But jk thinks:

Perhaps. The thesis of Did They Manage to Burn it Down?, from whence our QOTD hails, is that there was too much anger in the GOP to avoid Trump.

Believe me, I've been -- software style -- replaying the convention season to find a different outcome. And I am forced to agree. There is a plurality of GOP primary voters who want a wall more than they want anything else. Like say, liberty.

Posted by: jk at May 4, 2016 1:36 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Good point, Keith. His purpose was not to defeat Trump but to defeat Cruz. At least, that is, if you believe The Establishment (TM) has co-opted Trump to keep the D.C. cartel alive.

Posted by: johngalt at May 4, 2016 2:34 PM
But johngalt thinks:

In fairness, jk, the arsonists want more than just "a wall." When it comes to a contest against left-wing progressive political correctness, and the politicians who force us to drink it, they want someone whose heart is in it. Someone who will "fight." Even use brass knuckles, if necessary. If a few feathers get ruffled or interest groups get insulted along the way, so be it.

And to them, the word "liberty" - while a high ideal to (comfortable?) folks like us - is like that old Janis Joplin song: "just another word for nothin' left to lose."

Posted by: johngalt at May 4, 2016 2:49 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Hmmm. Second look at Austin Petersen?

Posted by: Keith Arnold at May 4, 2016 3:48 PM
But jk thinks:

Second look at "Ass Cancer" perhaps; Libertario Delenda Est.

There simply are not enough for a valid party -- hell there aren't enough to make a candidate viable in the Republican primary. To remove themselves "from the arena" (TR was at least good for a phrase) is to let the baser motives take over the major parties.

As long as there is math, I'm not voting LP. If some interesting goofball shows up on the ballot for an even more obscure party, I might tick the bok. But voting LP is like feeding the bears.

Posted by: jk at May 4, 2016 4:00 PM

Libertario Delenda Est

As the Kurt Weill & Maxwell Anderson song goes, "It's a long, long way from May to November." I don't know for whom I'll vote at the top of the ticket. Right now, writing in "Ass Cancer" truly seems the best option.

But I will NOT be voting for Gov. Gary Johnson. If the Republic and the Republican Party is ever to recover from this travesty, it will not do so with the liberty lovers hiding in the basements with the "pure" 9% of their fellow travellers. Libertarians are 9-19% of the electorate, depending on how weaselly it is described. That is not a majority, as I tried to remind Reason folks in an attempted bon mot:


But johngalt thinks:

May 4, 2016, the Libertarian candidate for president reaches his high-water mark. Ever.

I heard a Democrat caller on talk radio this morning say he is seriously considering a vote for Trump over Hillary. He said, and I paraphrase: "The Democratic and Republican parties both have a battle between a populist and an establishment candidate. In the Republican party the populist won, and the establishment seems destined to win the Democratic nomination. In that case I can take the long view on social issues and vote to take power away from the New York banks and their partners in government."

Interesting times we have here. Patience is warranted.

Posted by: johngalt at May 4, 2016 12:12 PM

May 2, 2016

Put You Down as a No, Then.

David Bernstein [Review Corner] pens the finest #nevertrump ever.

The man is a crude charlatan, an ignoramus, a fraud, conducting a modern medicine show that combines the worst of politics with the worst of professional wrestling. He is a disaster for the Republican Party, limited government, (what remains of) decency in politics, the Constitution, and the country.

I'd rather Hillary Clinton win. I'd rather (and I never thought I'd say this) Barack Obama serve a third term. I'd even rather Bernie Sanders win, though if it came down to Sanders vs. Trump it might be time to form a breakaway republic. If Trump wins the nomination, I will actively seek to prevent him from becoming president.

Well, he said it out loud first. But I was thinking that a third Obama term really is the best case scenario right now. He'd like it. He'd win. And he would, sadly, be the best choice.

But johngalt thinks:

Your assessments evoke thoughts of the end of western civilization, until one considers that there were sixteen other better alternatives a scant six months ago.

Posted by: johngalt at May 2, 2016 8:42 PM
But jk thinks:

As in "Ghostbusters" and "The Meaning of Life," Western Civ is allowed to choose its method of destruction.

Posted by: jk at May 3, 2016 9:40 AM
But johngalt thinks:

And at the same time, is prevented from choosing NOT to be destroyed. I blame democracy.

Posted by: johngalt at May 3, 2016 2:54 PM
But jk thinks:

You and one Randy E. Barnett. My reading club seems to have taken a dark turn.

Posted by: jk at May 3, 2016 3:36 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I think your interlocutor is dismissing many of Barnett's points because they contradict his worldview. On the plus side, this displays a personal need for consistency and integration of knowledge. On the down side, there isn't any room for different ideas in his brain:

"The hardest part about gaining any new idea is sweeping out the false idea occupying that niche. As long as that niche is occupied, evidence and proof and logical demonstration get nowhere. But once the niche is emptied of the wrong idea that has been filling it — once you can honestly say, "I don't know", then it becomes possible to get at the truth. - RAH's Gwen Novak in 'The Cat Who Walks Through Walls' (1985)

He isn't reading with an open mind. He has a partisan's perspective, not an academic's. He even projects that onto Barnett, saying "A feature of any Constitution, but he claims it only for his side." There are not "his" and "my" sides, but democratic or republican "sides." One must be able to separate one's self from the debate in order to find the truth in it.

Posted by: johngalt at May 4, 2016 12:04 PM

All Hail Taranto!


Rethinking Liberty

I have always believed this:


Jefferson. National Review. Liberty. Small Government. Great Taste. Less Filling.

Yet I find myself rather tortured by the Randy Barnett book [Review Corner], though less than his compelling advocacy of anarchy. Just as the new libertarian jurisprudence comes at the expense of "avoiding judicial activism," Barnett champions the centralization and federalization of power in the Civil War Amendments. I've always considered it a necessary evil to extinguish slavery. Barnett celebrates it.

Yet, if government exists "to secure these rights" it must be powerful enough so to do. Likewise, the mantra of cutting government hides the fact that we should probably spend quite a bit more on courts. The plea-deals, long delays, and push for outside arbitration are symptoms of a government failing at its key job (this is not from Barnett, though I doubt he's object -- more Harvey Silverglate).

Rethinking some heroes.

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 12:29 PM | What do you think? [0]

All Hail Jonah!

Trump loves to cite how he "won" with Hispanics in Nevada, leaving out that he was talking about a statistical handful of self-identified Republican Hispanics in a caucus. Among Hispanics generally, Trump polls only slightly better than ass cancer. His numbers are somewhat better with women, but still within sight of ass-cancer margins. Yes, Trump does well with white men, but he'd have to do roughly ten points better than Reagan in his 1984 landslide (the high water mark for white-male turnout) to even be competitive. -- Jonah Goldberg [subscribe]
Watching FOX News Sunday yesterday, I am painfully resigned to Trump vs. Clinton. Perhaps I'll write in "ass cancer."

May 1, 2016

Review Corner

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men . . . Another overlooked line, but for our purposes, possibly the most important.
Randy E. Barnett has been treated pretty well in Review Corner. His "Structure of Liberty" [Review Corner] got five stars and an Editor's Choice Award. His "Conspiracy against Obamacare" [Review Corner] also garnered five stars.Our Republican Constitution: Securing the Liberty and Sovereignty of We the People shall not harm his average.

The Constitutional scholar delves into the Declaration for a foundation of rights, then examines the Constitutional structures intended to secure them. And because he is Barnett, he follows through with a book of SCOTUS case law documenting which cases and which justices upheld the "Republican" Constitution, and which enabled the "Democratic" or majoritarian vision.

In my Pre-Review Corner, I referenced PM Thatcher's throwing down a copy of Hayek's "Constitution of Liberty" and telling her staffers that "this is what we believe." (please oh please do not be apocryphal -- that's a good story.) I think ThreeSourcers would join me in saying "this is what we believe." Or perhaps, "Duh." What is notable about this work is his foundational construction of our Lockean rights, their position in the Declaration, imperfect protection in the original constitution, and their more complete protection after the Civil War Amendments.

"Consent of the governed" gets all the press -- especially from my anarcho-capitalist friends, but Barnett highlights a word I had missed: "Deriving their just powers."

Because those in government are merely a small subset of the people who serve as their servants or agents, the "just powers" of these servants must be limited to the purpose for which they are delegated. That purpose is not to reflect the people's will or desire-- which in practice means the will or desires of the majority-- but to secure the preexisting rights of We the People, each and every one of us.

I also met a couple of new historical heroes (and villains). Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase was a firebrand abolitionist lawyer who follows Taney and replaces his raw Jacksonian concept of liberty with Barnett's "Republican" vision. Associate Justice Samuel Chase brought the principles of the Declaration -- which he signed -- to the first Court.
Indeed the assumption that first come rights and then comes government was considered so obviously true as to be, in the words of the Declaration, "self-evident." As Justice Samuel Chase famously wrote in the 1798 case of Calder v. Bull, [t]here are certain vital principles in our free republican governments, which will determine and overrule an apparent and flagrant abuse of legislative power. . . . An act of the legislature (for I cannot call it a law), contrary to the great first principles of the social compact, cannot be considered a rightful exercise of legislative authority.
Justice Chase began by providing examples of legislative acts that violate these "great first principles," such as a law "that punished a citizen for an innocent action," or "a law that destroys, or impairs, the lawful private contracts of citizens," or "a law that makes a man a Judge in his own cause; or a law that takes property from A. and gives it to B." Such an "act of the legislature (for I cannot call it a law)" was beyond the legislative power, he said, because "[i]t is against all reason and justice, for a people to entrust a Legislature with SUCH powers; and, therefore, it cannot be presumed that they have done it."

On the villain side, we get bete noir President Wilson, Justice Holmes, and Harvard law professor James Bradley Thayer. I knew Wilson preferred a Parliamentary system, but Barnett provides an additional amusing anecdote:
Wilson was not much enamored with the U.S. Constitution. From his teens he acquired a bizarre compulsion to rewrite the constitutions of whatever group or organization in which he became active. Whether the Eumeneans at Davidson College, the Princeton baseball club, or the Johns Hopkins Literary Society, he "would dig up and then rewrite its constitution, usually seizing on some neglected provision which, in an emergency, could be wielded to make the system more efficient, hierarchical, and subject to his own wishes. 71

Thayer introduces judicial deference in 1893, and Thayerism reaches its apogee in 1896 in Plessy v. Ferguson. Why must Coloreds and Whites be separated? Because a majoroty wants it!
It is plain that Plessy v. Ferguson, decided three years after Thayer's article appeared in the Harvard Law Review, was the embodiment of this deferential approach. As Justice Brown wrote, "We cannot say that a law which authorizes or even requires the separation of the two races in public conveyances is unreasonable." 43

I expected Barnett -- certainly no Republican partisan -- to go to greater lengths to disavow his use of the term "Republican" with the party. He is clear that it is protection of rights versus majoritariansim.
At its core, this debate is about the meaning of the first three words of the Constitution: "We the People." Those who favor the Democratic Constitution view We the People as a group, as a body, as a collective entity. Those who favor the Republican Constitution view We the People as individuals. This choice of visions has enormous real-world consequences.

He also states plainly that most modern Republicans do not measure up or honor these principles. He closes with a call that one party should take up the cause of defending "The Republican Constitution" and that Republicans are an obvious choice. But he chooses teams differently than is common. Jefferson and Madison are Republicans against the Adams/Hamilton/Marshall Federalists. Van Buren, Calhoun, and Jackson are Democrats. My libertarian friends are sympathetic to the decentralization of the original Constitution (the United States as plural, as Ken Burns would say) and consider the centralization of the 14th Amendment as usurpation (Lord Acton called it the end of Liberty on Earth). I have a book of Chief Justice Taney's Constitutional enforcements against President Lincoln. I'm not a man for whom "That Tyrant Lincoln" rolls off the tongue, but Taney is the hero of that book.

Barnett holds no truck with any of that. Federal enforcement of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments are required to protect the Lockean rights of freed slaves. Thayerism eviscerated these protections in The Slaughterhouse Cases and Plessy, But -- for a guy whose last book was anarchist -- this is a story of a strong central government exerting powers when required to protect individuals' Lockean rights.

Indeed, the Declaration of Independence tells us, it is "to secure these rights" that "Governments are instituted among Men." What are the implications of adopting an individual rather than a collective conception of popular sovereignty?

Five Stars. I have talked my lefty biological brother and one of his friends into reading this. My brother is waiting for his Socialist library to procure the book; his friend is not quite as enamoured as I...

UPDATE: An earlier version conflated Justices Samuel Chase and Salmon P Chase. ThreeSources regrets the error. (And I have no idea if they are related...)

UPDATE II: No Not related, according to

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 9:35 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Corporations may not be "people" and governments are certainly not "people" but for the love of the green, green hills of Earth, can't we agree that people are people?

An example that Justice Chase might not have envisioned for "a law that destroys, or impairs, the lawful private contracts of citizens" is that collection of "legislative acts" which mandate what medical conditions must be covered by the health insurance contracts written in the several states.

And while I'm sympathetic that the Civil War amendments may have marked "the end of Liberty on Earth" I will abide by the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments if we can somehow manage to repeal the thirty words of the illegitimate 16th, which violate the first principles of the social compact to their very core.

"...or a law that takes property from A. and gives it to B." Such an "act of the legislature (for I cannot call it a law)" was beyond the legislative power, he said, because "[i]t is against all reason and justice, for a people to entrust a Legislature with SUCH powers; and, therefore, it cannot be presumed that they have done it."

In [disputed] historical fact, the people have NOT done it, and yet our government, instituted among men, to secure basic rights, using JUST powers, continues on as though the people had done it.

A good book for keeping liberty lovers eyes on the prize - above reducing government and shifting power back to the states, we should first and foremost insist that "we the people" are individuals. We are not a singular "we."

Me. You. I.

Posted by: johngalt at May 2, 2016 2:50 PM

Don't click this. Comments (2)