May 31, 2016
Libertario Delenda Est
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.
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.
May 30, 2016
Happy Memorial Day
I used to make fun of these people, until l'Affaire Kochiyama.
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.
May 26, 2016
All Hail Taranto!
Shirley, you will permit me an All Hail Taranto on my birthday...
Or maybe it's the FDA...
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.
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.
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
May 25, 2016
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."
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?
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.
Isn't Ivanpah the name of one of Donald Trump's smoking hot daughters?
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]
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.
Government denies existence of problems
First, allow me to quote American Thinker's Rick Moran:
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.
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.
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.
Jonah has a bone to pick with McCloskey
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.
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?
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.
May 22, 2016
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
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.
May 20, 2016
Sen. Smoot and Rep. Hawley could not be reached for comment
Trump touted his proposal for a 35 percent tariff on imports into the United States from the American companies that have outsourced to Mexico.
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:
Grouchy, and quite possibly racist
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
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."
UPDATE II: The Internet is frequently its own antidote:
Reverb.com 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.
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.
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
May 18, 2016
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:
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.
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.
And, in blues news: "Grits ain't groceries, eggs ain't poultry, and Mona Lisa was a Man."
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...
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
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.
This patriotic American stands ready to do his part.
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]
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.
One man's imminent danger is another man's savior
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.
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.
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."
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].
A popular joke of my youth:
"What do you call a bird that's been run over by a lawnmower?"
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.
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.
May 15, 2016
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.
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
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.
And then lost.
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.
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 →
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 email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter via @charleshurt.
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.
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.
That, and the worldwide global depression.
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.
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.
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!
Jason Riley has some injustice for you today.
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?
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.
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)
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.
All Hail Taranto!
It's been days...
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
Electric, hybrid and other eco-friendly cars fill the air with as many toxins as dirty diesel vehicles, scientists have found.
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.
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
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:
May 9, 2016
A Good Day
When Neil deGrasse Tyson gets whacked, it is a good day!
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."
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:
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. -- WNDThose foolish Venezuelan Socialists! I'm glad we'd never try such foolish manipulations here in 'Murcuh!
Libertario Delenda Est
If you won't listen to me (a reasonable reaction), listen to Glenn Reynolds. He's, like, a Law Professor:
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)
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:
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?
PB: Do you think George Bush is soft?
PB: What’s the first thing President Trump would do upon entering the Oval Office?
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
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.
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-NeoconNailed it for me. The whole piece is purdy good.
KASICH SUSPENDS CAMPAIGN!!
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:
May 2, 2016
Put You Down as a No, Then.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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 answers.com.