November 29, 2016
The Dark Side of Populism
We do not consecrate the flag by punishing its desecration, for in doing so we dilute the freedom that this cherished emblem represents.Justice Scalia -- not a reflexive libertarian by anyone's measure -- got it right in Texas v. Johnson. And I am sad to say that President-Elect Trump has it very, very wrong.
I said that I would support Trump where he was right and oppose him where he is wrong. And I will admit to being wildly impressed with many of his personnel selections and his general demeanor in the transition. Brother jg started the Trump Revolution category, to which I have contributed.
But, this day, this November, I start Trump Agonistes to document where he struggles with liberty versus populism.
He is on the wrong side here and Scalia is right.
November 28, 2016
November 27, 2016
Thucydides, Book Six: Projecting Power
The same winter the Athenians resolved to sail again to Sicily, with a greater armament than that under Laches and Eurymedon, and, if possible, to conquer the island; most of them being ignorant of its size and of the number of its inhabitants, Hellenic and barbarian, and of the fact that they were undertaking a war not much inferior to that against the Peloponnesians. [6.1]"Do not think of elephants," goes an old saw. I see from a search it has spawned a couple of self-help, career guidance books. I thought it was just some form of toddler torture, but it seems the franchise has expanded. Likewise, the modern American reader is challenged to read the final few books of Thucydides' Peloponnesian War without thinking of Iraq.
Book Six presents the democratic arguments for and against War in Sicily. Those who have read ahead know it is a military disaster that ends the Athenian Empire.
I do not want to digress too much on my personal, unfinished journey of American involvement in the Middle East, but the short version for new readers is that I supported the actions fulsomely, through good times and bad. Yet William Easterly's "Tyranny of Experts" [Review Corner] provided a Hayekian objection which I cannot refute, and subsequent developments have not proven Easterly wrong.
This not a Freshman paper suggesting the end of America -- I'd have to proofread it better if it were -- but the parallels are difficult to ignore. It is difficult to project power. Our technological advancement has reduced half the world to the difficulty Nicias and Alcibiades faced waging war across the Ionian Sea. Yet the same difficulties of supply and logistics remain. More importantly, the Easterly-esque difficulties of understanding the region's scope, politics and culture are nearly insuperable.
Per the introductory quote, most of the Demos who would be voting for or against war did not know the location of Syracuse, the area of Sicily, or the disposition of cities on the island and southern coast of the Tyrrhenian mainland. Nicias, whom Thucydides admires, speaks first -- advising caution:
And yet the latter, if brought under might be kept under; while the Sicilians, even if conquered, are too far off and too numerous to be ruled without difficulty. Now it is folly to go against men who could not be kept under even if conquered, while failure would leave us in a very different position from that which we occupied before the enterprise. [6.11]
You're thinking of elephants, aren't you?
The Hellenes in Sicily would fear us most if we never went there at all, and next to this, if after displaying our power we went away again as soon as possible. [6.11]
Nicias closes with a swipe at the youthful who seek riches and glory without fully comprehending the potential downside.
The youthful, vainglorious Alcibiades takes umbrage at this attack on youth and vainglory. He addresses the crowd, warning of Syracuse's growing power (c.f. The Thucydides Trap) and dangers of a potential alliance with the Peloponnese. But his closing argument is "We will be greeted as liberators!"
The states in Sicily, therefore, from all that I can hear, will be found as I say, and I have not pointed out all our advantages, for we shall have the help of many barbarians, who from their hatred of the Syracusans will join us in attacking them; nor will the powers at home prove any hindrance, if you judge rightly.
Sensing that things are not going his way, Nicias elects to agree, but attempts to subliminally frighten the populace by enumerating the requirements. We'll need to bring grain and our own bakers and more ships that have ever been arrayed, and carpenters and machinists because we will be too far for repairs. But, rather than being subdued, Nicias's ruse backfires. Clearly, think the Athenians, this is going to be the greatest enterprise ever -- less a war and more of a moonshot. Carthage will fall next and we will rule the world.
The Athenians, however, far from having their enthusiasm for the voyage destroyed by the burdensomeness of the preparations, became more eager for it than ever; and just the contrary took place of what Nicias had thought, as it was held that he had given good advice, and that the expedition would be the safest in the world.  Everyone fell in love with the enterprise. The older men thought that they would either subdue the places against which they were to sail, or at all events, with so large a force, meet with no disaster; those in the prime of life felt a longing for foreign sights and spectacles, and had no doubt that they should come safe home again; while the idea of the common people and the soldiery was to earn wages at the moment, and make conquests that would supply a never-ending fund of pay for the future.
Was that an elephant?
The great fleet sails. Cities along the route come out just to see the historic array. "Alcibiades sailed to Syracuse -- and all I got was this lousy T-Shirt!" The Syracusans are brave and numerous but fall initially to Athens' superior technical skill and modern naval techniques. In a short time Athens holds commanding heights; Syracuse is defeated and demoralized and discussing terms of surrender. This Athenian adventure will be quick and successful.
Stop me if you've heard this, but things deteriorate from there.
November 26, 2016
The Dakota Pipeline protests pit everyone who has read Ludwig von Mises against those who have seen "Dances with Wolves."
We are so completely, totally screwed.
UPDATE: A ray of hope! This post was shared from an unexpected source, tagging his son! Maybe the truth is pulling its pants up after all.
Before traveling, [St. Charles Parish Sheriff Greg] Champagne admitted he had the wrong impression about the pipeline based on what he called sensational news reports that the pipeline was to run directly through the Standing Rock Reservation and disturb ancient burial grounds.
wither going, GOP?
I found RStreet during some perusing of articles on the inside baseball angle of energy markets (Josiah Neeley is quite a find), but THIS guy knocks it out: Business Not-As-Usual you beltway boys! He helps remind us of what Speaker Ryan said over a year ago:
[If] there were ever a time for us to step up, this would be that time. America does not feel strong anymore because the working people of America do not feel strong anymore. I’m talking about the people who mind the store and grow the food and walk the beat and pay the taxes and raise the family. They do not sit in this House. They do not have fancy titles. But they are the people who make this country work, and this House should work for them
November 25, 2016
Really people, the science is settled.
The assumption that the speed of light is constant, and always has been, underpins many theories in physics, such as Einstein's theory of general relativity. In particular, it plays a role in models of what happened in the very early universe, seconds after the Big Bang.
Clearly, some Koch Brothers funded outfit trying to bring down Big Relativity.
November 23, 2016
Allison for SecTreas
The next kiss to build a dream on comes from Reason
Bloomberg reports that John Allison, a former president and CEO of the Cato Institute, is on Trump's short-list for Treasury Secretary. Allison ran the Washington, D.C., based libertarian think tank from October 2012 until April 2015 and continues to sit on the organization's board today. He is also the former CEO of BB&T, a North Carolina-based investment bank, which he ran from 1989 until 2008.
Allison is well thought of 'round these parts [Review Corner]. Plus he was John Galt in Don Luskin's "I Am John Galt," [Why in this video]
Trump "softening" on climate change?
In case you were worried that President Elect Trump is already sinking in the swamp muck, don't.
JAMES BENNET, [NY Times] editorial page editor: When you say an open mind, you mean you’re just not sure whether human activity causes climate change? Do you think human activity is or isn’t connected?
As for the big enchilada, the Paris Accord (the world's most expensive treaty, estimated to cost $1 trillion - $2 trillion per year) Trump remains cool.
SHEAR: Just one quick clarification on the climate change, do you intend to, as you said, pull out of the Paris Climate …
November 22, 2016
Otequay of the Ayday
While I do not think we should legitimize the remarkable fear those on the Left profess, I do suppose I can understand why they are afraid. In a way, it is even rational. The Left expects the Right to do to them what the Left's political philosophy would demand the Left do to the Right: hunt down any dissenting voices and silence or hurt them.
David Danford in The Federalist - Here's Why Progressives Lose Their Minds When They Lose Elections
They do not understand the Right's view of government and what the founders of America had in mind. The founders understood that government could only provide limited justice. This could then be used to enable the individual pursuit of happiness in a free country. As Washington put it, the object of our politics is "the benign influence of the good laws of a free government."
War on Science
John Tierney -- as in New York Times's John Tierney -- has an incredible column in City Journal: "The Real War on Science." Spoiler Alert: it ain't the eeevil Republicans.
My liberal friends sometimes ask me why I don't devote more of my science journalism to the sins of the Right. It's fine to expose pseudoscience on the left, they say, but why aren't you an equal-opportunity debunker? Why not write about conservatives' threat to science?
Conversely, the left's retrograde antics destroy careers, terminate funding, and -- oh yeah -- kill people.
Mooney's brief acknowledgment that leftists "here and there" have been guilty of "science abuse." First, there's the Left's opposition to genetically modified foods, which stifled research into what could have been a second Green Revolution to feed Africa. Second, there's the campaign by animal-rights activists against medical researchers, whose work has already been hampered and would be devastated if the activists succeeded in banning animal experimentation. Third, there's the resistance in academia to studying the genetic underpinnings of human behavior, which has cut off many social scientists from the recent revolutions in genetics and neuroscience. Each of these abuses is far more significant than anything done by conservatives, and there are plenty of others. The only successful war on science is the one waged by the Left.
This is a City Journal piece, so clear a bit of time and get some coffee, but do please read the whole thing.
If you want a taste, read my Hat-Tip: Ronald Bailey: Liberals Don't Really F***ing Love Science
November 21, 2016
The subjectivity of "free trade"
The election season back-and-forth over protectionism, free-trade, and what constitutes each of them, is underscored by "analysts" responding to the just ended APEC meeting.
APEC's 21 members from either side of the Pacific offered their own staunch defense of free trade as the annual summit ended, pledging to "fight against all forms of protectionism."
Helps explain the internecine 3Sources debates.
Say Something Nice
Jim Geraghty -- and I confer:
Trump is already proving he's capable of surprises. His willingness to meet, and perhaps hire, formerly critical voices like Mitt Romney, Nikki Haley, and Rick Perry suggests a magnanimous spirit and mission-focused philosophy that was almost entirely missing from his persona on the campaign trail. If you had said to me months ago, that a Trump presidency would have Romney, Haley, and Perry in top positions, perhaps Ted Cruz on the Supreme Court, Bobby Jindal in the mix for Health and Human Services, Michelle Rhee as Secretary of Education, David Petraeus coming back into government service, perhaps John Bolton as Secretary of State, James N. Mattis as Secretary of Defense... and Reince Preibus keeping the plates spinning and running the daily schedule... man, that's a lot more appealing than just the man himself.
I don't want to get my hopes up, but Michelle Rhee as Secretary of Education would make the whole Trump enterprise worthwhile. And, yes, I would be forced to admit that none of the candidates I supported could or would have pulled that off.
My blog brother started and named the category "Trump Revolution." I'm skeptical but will give it a chance.
November 20, 2016
Thucydides, Book Five: Halftime
Indeed it so happened that directly after the battle of Amphipolis and the retreat of Ramphias from Thessaly, both sides ceased to prosecute the war and turned their attention to peace. Athens had suffered severely at Delium, and again shortly afterwards at Amphipolis, and had no longer that confidence in her strength which had made her before refuse to accept the offer of peace, in the belief of ultimate victory which her success at the moment had inspired; [5.14]The "Ten Years War" is complete. J. E. Lendon's Song of Wrath [Review Corner] covers only this period. And Thucydides himself spends a small section defending his decision to consider the entire "three times nine years" period a single conflict, getting a dig in at the superstitious of his time:
So that the first ten years' war, the treacherous armistice that followed it, and the subsequent war will, calculating by the seasons, be found to make up the number of years which I have mentioned, with the difference of a few days, and to provide an instance of faith in oracles being for once justified by the event. [5.26]But if the play-by-play, battle-by-battle coverage takes a small break in Book Five, there's some time for extended commentary (and highlights from other conflicts).
I lived through the whole of it, being of an age to comprehend events, and giving my attention to them in order to know the exact truth about them. It was also my fate to be an exile from my country for twenty years after my command at Amphipolis; and being present with both parties, and more especially with the Peloponnesians by reason of my exile, I had leisure to observe affairs more closely.  I will accordingly now relate the differences that arose after the ten years' war, the breach of the treaty, and the hostilities that followed. [5.26]Sparta and Athens indeed complete a truce, essentially establishing a "status quo ante" distribution of territory with a few small exceptions. But Hellas does not become Hundred Acre Wood, and they do not spend these years in idyllic pastoral repose. Both combatants drag their heels at completing requirements of the treaty. "Oh, we'll give them the hostages from Pylos someday..."
The peace is uneasy to begin with, and not all the allies are on board with the idea of armistice or with its terms. This gives Argos an opportunity to restore her empire by picking up affected city-states for a side alliance. The Argives can rival wounded Athens and Sparta with a few key allies.
The persons with whom they had communicated reported the proposal to their government and people, and the Argives passed the decree and chose twelve men to negotiate an alliance for any Hellenic state that wished it, except Athens and Sparta, neither of which should be able to join without referring the issue to the Argive people. [5.28]
Though this "peace" lasts seven years, it's more of a repositioning. One expects they're analyzing film, taping up ankles and listening to coaches' speechmaking. Commentator Thucydides gets to elaborate on "Fear, Honor and Interest," which is shorthand for his strategic realism.
In a dialog with Melians, the Athenians eschew the eloquent speeches and peans to liberty common in the other books, and a small delegation sits down to hear the stronger power dictate alliance terms to the weaker.
Athenians: "For ourselves, we shall not trouble you with specious pretenses-- either of how we have a right to our empire because we overthrew the Mede, or are now attacking you because of wrong that you have done us-- and make a long speech which would not be believed; and in return we hope that you, instead of thinking to influence us by saying that you did not join the Spartans, although their colonists, or that you have done us no wrong, will aim at what is feasible, holding in view the real sentiments of us both; since you know as well as we do that right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must." [5.94]
The Melians trust in "the gods" and possible Spartan protection and turn the Athenians away. Spoiler Alert: they "suffer what they must."
November 19, 2016
On Crying Wolf
Why am I harping on this?
Nice defense of nonsense charges from a guy with many other critiques.
A Bone for the Protesters
Call your attention to a great Thucydides quote: Athens and Sparta are in an uneasy truce, but many key provisions have not been honored. A separate truce is being negotiated with other cites (itself a breach), when the "gods and heroes clause" is invoked.
"[...] it had been explicitly agreed that the decision of the majority of the allies should be binding upon all, unless the gods or heroes stood in the way."
Lest you think "gods and heroes clause" is another example of my flippancy, it actually occurs in Robert B. Strassler's footnote, directing readers to an Appendix where it is discussed in detail.
Those guys blocking I-5 should latch on to this.
November 18, 2016
All Hail Jonah
A Clinton Sendoff:
Among Hillary's greatest problems wasn't that she was a liar, but that she was so bad at it. When Bill lied, it was like watching a jazz impresario scat. You could pull him off an intern, slap him in the face with a half-frozen flounder, and he could, without missing a beat, plausibly explain that he was just a gentleman trying to help push the young lady over a fence.
OK, it's been fun, but now I'm inspired to help a GOP-led country flex some, flaunt a little and get down to the gritty business of governing for the people. I'd like to collect some strategy tips, and some ideas about what's to be done early/first. I like the idea of doing something popular, while more quietly doing something important. Love to hear TS'ers ideas on what's popular, and what's important.
My draft list of popular: build the wall (sorry JK, the welfare state is not going away - but VDH's idea below in bold is better), refloat the military, gut the ACA (smiling all the way), reform the VA.
The eminent Dr. Hanson has some ideas: foremost an "optics" approach or strategy described as in mediis rebus that's Trump's style, and could be used for powerful effect.
If in the first 100 days Trump can push through tax reform, deregulation, Keystone, clean coal, new leases for fracking and horizontal drilling on federal lands, an end to the crony-capitalist Solyndra-like subsidies, a cut-off of federal aid to sanctuary cities, support for school vouchers, the wall, deportations of those illegal aliens who committed crimes or have no work history, plans to rebuild the military, a freeze on federal hiring, trade renegotiations — then surprising things will follow.VDH, PhD, further states that Social Security should be left alone - did Trump promise that?
November 17, 2016
21st Century Democrats
Dan Henninger, on fire, in the WSJ Ed Page:
This generation of Democrats doesn't even know what the economy is anymore.
Trigger Warning: the column carries a very unflattering photo of Sen. Elizabeth Warren ("Wampum out of Politics!" - MA) which will be disturbing to most viewers.
November 16, 2016
If Elon Musk were in 'Atlas Shrugged'...
... he would be Oren Boyle.
It has been widely reported that among SolarCity, Tesla, and the rocket company SpaceX, Elon Musk's confederacy of interests has gotten at least $4.9 billion in taxpayer support over the past 10 years.
But one of the good things about changing regimes in Washington D.C. is that cronies often get uprooted.
The Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee have launched a probe into tax incentives paid to solar companies, according to The Wall Street Journal. The committee probes, led by their respective Republican chairmen, Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas and Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, have found an appropriate and disturbing target to begin this work.
A Reagan-era "do over"
From an important article in Townhall by Brion McClanahan - The Beginning of the Trump Revolution:
If you don't like the establishment, pay attention.
Whole thing. Now. Read it. It's important. (And it's brief.)
November 15, 2016
It's a Mean Old World
It's the title of a great blues song, but it is also true: It's a Mean Old World.
I'm a (rational) optimist but no Mr. Buckley, we have not "immanentized the eschaton;" man remains imperfect.
I cannot and will not defend a single hate crime. They are tragic for the victim, the perpetrator, and society at large. But I will point out statistics and beg my fellow men, women, and other genders to practice sound risk analysis.
An AP story in the Denver Post leads with a startling statistic:
Hate crimes against Muslims up by 67 percent in 2015, according to FBI
Tragic. But can we look over the rest of the story? Yes, what we want will be near the bottom:
In 2015, there were 257 incidents of anti-Muslim bias compared to 154 incidents the prior year, an increase of 67 percent. The total is second only to the surge in hate crimes following the 9/11 terror attacks, when 481 incidents against Muslims were reported in 2001.
I want to tread lightly here. I am making a mathematical comparison and not a moral one. If 1000 people a day die with bee stings or drown in the bathtub, a single hate crime is still a tragedy, But the CDC says ten drown in non-boating accidents every day. So, you are far more than ten times likely to drown in the bathtub and die than have some ignorant buffoon call you a name.
And, because the numbers are so thankfully small, a 67% rise is pretty meaningless. Some reports are false, many are not reported. These stats are not accurate enough to draw trends from.
But I would draw one trend:
Huh? What was that? Fifty-three percent of religious based are against Jews? The "epidemic" of Islamophobia that warrants a breathless Denver Post headline is 4.3% of the reported hate crimes?
It does not seem like we are focused on the correct problems.
"I will stop the unstoppable"
In what is reminiscent (to me, at least) of John Galt's "I will stop the motor of the world" President Elect Trump is not backing away from his campaign pledge to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change.
Trump's advisers are considering ways to bypass a theoretical four-year procedure for leaving the accord, according to the source, who works on Trump's transition team for international energy and climate policy.
"So where's the John Galt reference, johngalt?"
I'm projecting just a bit, in response to French President Hollande, who said the agreement is "irreversible." And to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon who said,
"What was once unthinkable has become unstoppable," Ban said at a news conference of the landmark Paris deal, agreed by almost 200 governments last year after two decades of tortuous negotiations. The accord formally entered into force on Nov. 4 after a record swift ratification.
A "record swift ratification."
The Trump source said the president-elect's transition team is aware of the likely international backlash but said Republicans in the U.S. Congress have given ample warning that a Republican administration would take action to reverse course.
(What was the mood in Washington on November 4 that had the Administration so anxious to rush this through prior to Hillary's coronation? Hmmm.)
But former French President Nicholas Sarkozy has a warning for Trump if he doesn't stand by his predecessors promises.
Speaking to French broadcaster TF1, Sarkozy said late Sunday: "Donald Trump has said - we'll see if he keeps this promise -- that he won't respect the conclusions of the Paris climate agreement. Well, I will demand that Europe put in place a carbon tax at its border, a tax of 1-3 percent, for all products coming from the United States, if the United States doesn't apply environmental rules that we are imposing on our companies."
Whoa! Who's the trade warrior now?
Would Bernie Have Won?
Here's what happened. Do we have racists and sexists in this country? We do. On the other hand, I think what happened is Trump touched a nerve on the part of millions of people that media doesn't often talk about. And that is, you’ve got a middle class for the last 40 years that has been shrinking. You've got people working two or three jobs. You've got a single mom who can't afford $12,000 a year for child care. You've got a worker who's seen his job go to China. You've got a parent who’s wondering how in God's name when I make $40,000 a year am I going to be able to send my kid to college. -- Sen. Bernie Sanders (I - VT)Hypothetical much? It's crazy to ask, but I suspect that there is a great chance Sen. Sanders would have beaten Donald Trump. Wargaming the states, he would have ruined Trump's audacious flipping of the Democratic Rust-Belt States ("Umm, jk, we like to call ourselves 'Oxidized-Americans'"). If one thing is certain it's that I'm a pointy-headed elite who does not understand the working class Pennsylvania voter. But I cannot see Trump's taking Michigan and Wisconsin and I see Pennsylvania and Iowa in great jeopardy.
Perhaps some of the purple states ("Indigo-Americans, jk") would be turned off. Virginia, Nevada, and Colorado might come out of the blue column. Certainly, I think he's have made it much closer race.
Dodging Six Bullets
Dodging six bullets is what I call a pretty good game of Russian roulette.
T. J. Brown at FEE points out six bullets the nation dodged by not electing Sec. Clinton.
Anyway, while Trump's impending reign isn’t anything to be ecstatic over, a relief of what America avoided in a Clinton presidency is definitely warranted. So let's take a moment to examine some avoided disasters that likely would've happened had Hillary Clinton won.
Brown captured my sentiments well. I get very nervous when I see stories that China might ban iPhone sales, I am not sure about Steve Bannon's role. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt that detractors will not, but Breitbart did not comport itself well through the election cycle.
Yet I must share the overwhelming joy I felt on election night as I felt the momentum going his way. Brown is right for six out of six.
UPDATE: Thomas Sowell "We Dodged a Bullet"
UPDATE II: I meant it; I will give Steve Bannon benefit of doubt. Those who have attacked him are untrustworthy. In that spirit, though, I clicked on a link defending him:
All we have learned from the sewage-storm directed at Bannon is that the Establishment plays dirty and that the formerly Republican #NeverTrumpers aren't just misguided ideologues, but also yellow-bellied, gutter-crawling, backstabbing, bushwacking liars. Hell hath no fury like a self-designated elite scorned. All the existential rage of the defeated and humiliated elite is now focused against the architect of Trump's victory, the media genius who won the battle with less than a fifth of the financial resources at Hillary Clinton's disposal.
Okay then, your local elite signing out! Glad the healing has begun.
November 14, 2016
November 13, 2016
Thucydides, Book Four: Declare Victory and Move On
The Spartans accordingly invite you to make a treaty and to end the war, and offer peace and alliance and the most friendly and intimate relations in every way and on every occasion between us; and in return ask for the men on the island, thinking it better for both parties not to hold out to the end, hoping that some favorable accident will enable the men to force their way out, or of their being compelled to succumb under the pressure of blockade.
Okay Athens, you win!
It is the ninth year (out of 27) of the war of which Thucydides was the historian. We could tie this baby up at the top of Book Four. jk could devote more time to studying Nick Lucas's Guitar Method. Ain't gonna study war no more -- it is not healthy for children and other living things and...
The Athenians dramatic victory at Pylos stuns the Spartans. A bit of pluck and a bit of luck gives Cleon command of an island right in Sparta's backyard and many of her most prominent citizens are captured. All the things Lacedaemonians truly fear are held against them; this defeat could be the domino that starts a helot (slave) uprising.
and now took the unusual step of raising four hundred horse and a force of archers, and became more timid than ever in military matters, finding themselves involved in a maritime struggle, which their organization had never contemplated, and that against Athenians, with whom an enterprise unattempted was always looked upon as a success sacrificed.
Sparta sends Herold -- excuse me a herald1 -- with generous terms for peace, essentially Sparta offers Athens equality in rank. In J.E. Lendon's "Song of Wrath" [Review Corner], this is held to be the reason for war.
The existence of books five through eight is a spoiler alert. There is much speechmaking, but, having the upper hand, Athens decides to press for more generous terms. Hence books five, six, seven and eight. Just as Pylos breaks Spartan ambitions, Athens goes on to be routed at Delium2 and exposed weakness of her less-than-solid alliances in the Chalcidice.
The modern line is "Take 'Yes' for an answer" and I frequently complain about political groups' failures in this area. Most recently, I see the gay rights movement in America enact a national right to marry after Obergefell. Eight years ago, neither Senators Clinton nor Obama would dare suggest it in a Democratic primary. The groups that existed to lobby, however, were staffed by their own Cleons and kept the movement alive to found the National Cake Police. They should have put up a trophy and let the Christian Right recover their dead under truce.
Indeed, there seemed to be no danger in so doing; their mistake in their estimate of the Athenian power was as great as that power afterwards turned out to be, and their judgment was based more upon blind wishing than upon any sound prediction; for it is a habit of mankind to entrust to careless hope what they long for, and to use sovereign reason to thrust aside what they do not desire.
1 -- jokes like these and I still wonder why they won't approve any of my comments at the Roundtable.
2 -- I already was able to use this in a stunning piece of pedantry. Somebody asked if such-and-such was "the worst idea ever?" I replied "oh, I don't know. The Athenian attack on Delium was rather ill advised..."
And He's Baaaaack
Blog friend tg, on fire:
The problem is not that Clinton lost this battle. The problem is that no one had any idea that the loss was coming. Or that the loss was possible. Or even where the battle would be fought. Clinton, her team, the vast media apparatus that had grown up around it--all were soaking in the same cesspool of self-deceit. The election has shown them all for what they are: an insular network of operators and opinion-makers charmed by their own cleverness and enthralled with their own moral certitude, more comfortable exchanging clever quips and flattering platitudes than confronting the world outside of their carefully constructed echo-chamber.
November 11, 2016
Blog Friends Like These...
Drop everything and read blog friend tg's take on the election.
I hate to excerpt because I cannot decide where to begin or end, but give this a little taste:
Amid all this walks in a woman who embodies it all, Davos Man in the flesh, avatar of establishment orthodoxy. She is the author of one war, supporter of two others; devoted to the poor of other nations but aloof to the poor of her own; friend of the banks, paid by Wall Street when not in government service, and financed by it when on the campaign trail; undeserving darling of a slavish media, uncrowned queen of a slavish party, beloved by all the institutions Americans have grown to distrust and hate; unable to keep rules she demands of her subordinates, and excused for failings that would crush the careers of the less connected. Onto this stage walks this ghoul, and you expected America to be excited about voting for her.
November 10, 2016
What does it all mean?
Matt Purple - Do You Hear the Deplorables Sing?
The Orange Revolution is now victorious, and everything will have to change. The reality is stark: many of our fellow countrymen were so desperate to force political change that they detonated a neutron bomb. It’s a Jacobin impulse - burn it all down and start anew - and it will compel a response from our leaders. Our foreign policy, shipping soldiers overseas to fight in futile wars, is no longer tenable. The protectionist volumes of yesteryear have been reopened in a puff of dust. The Wall Street Journal's flavor of conservatism, with its loosey-goosey borders and free flow of capital - whatever its merits - has been repudiated. Perhaps we won't see that change reflected in policy, but our politics will be transformed - they'll have to be.
November 9, 2016
I'll take a victory lap
I must take my schadenfreude while I can, B4 POdtUS kills the ride by hectoring republicans for not bringing the steel industry "back," all the sanctuary cities to heel, and creating a new Trump-Caid medical entitlement.
Here's a hint:
Krugman's column provides a textbook case of a once-brilliant mind destroyed by bromides and kindness that can kill. My god, but becoming Liberal is so destructive!
I find it hard to care much, even though this is my specialty. The disaster for America and the world has so many aspects that the economic ramifications are way down my list of things to fear. Still, I guess people want an answer: If the question is when markets will recover, a first-pass answer is never.Right, who cares about professionalism, objectivity, faith, and what this election meant; go whinging back to your snug mansion that can't fit your ginormous smugness because I didn't get my way!
Slate is nearly melting off my browser screen: Victory Proves that American Hates Women.
I Am a Gay Jew in Trump’s America. And I Am Afraid for My Life.and “Trump Won the Election By Promising a Resurgent White Supremacy.”
PowerLine (back to having those awful pop-ups)'s Paul wonderfully sums up the group-freak at WaPo
A glance at the home page of Real Clear Politics shows where I think and hope journalism is headed.
Hayward publishes a PL article that read my mind....
The head of the Joint Center for Political Studies, which the Washington Post describes as a “respected liberal think tank,” reacted to the landslide thus: “When you consider that in the climate we’re in—rising violence, the Ku Klux Klan—it is exceedingly frightening.” Castro, said right before the election: “We sometimes have the feeling that we are living in the time preceding the election of Adolf Hitler as Chancellor of Germany.” Claremont College professor John Roth wrote: “I could not help remembering how economic turmoil had conspired with Nazi nationalism and militarism—all intensified by Germany’s defeat in World War I—to send the world reeling into catastrophe… It is not entirely mistaken to contemplate our post-election state with fear and trembling.” Esquire writer Harry Stein says that the voters who supported the Republican were like the “good Germans” in “Hitler’s Germany.” Sociologist Alan Wolfe is up in the New Left Review: “The worst nightmares of the American left appear to have come true.” And he doubles down in The Nation: “[T]he United States has embarked on a course so deeply reactionary, so negative and mean-spirited, so chauvinistic and self-deceptive that our times may soon rival the McCarthy era.” The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, keeper of the “Doomsday Clock” that purported to judge the risk of nuclear annihilation, has moved the hands on the clock from seven to four minutes before midnight.
... all of which was said (per professor Hayward) not about Trump, but about Ronald [Honorius Magnus] Wilson Reagan!
Lastly, on an even better note, Michelle Malkin quotes Peter Thiel at the National Press Club last week:
The lie behind the buzzword of diversity could not be made more clear," Thiel noted. "If you don't conform, then you don't count as diverse, no matter what your personal background. "No matter what happens in this election, what Trump represents isn't crazy and it's not going away.
The Best News
"She's not only merely dead, she's really most sincerely dead."
I have been wrong for 16 months now.
He won't last a few weeks, he won't win the nomination, he doesn't have a chance, I hope to be proven wrong about his skills and policy.
Props to the believers! Watching the results come in, I found myself strongly hoping he would win. Clinton tears and befuddled journalists are only a part of it.
November 8, 2016
Libertario Delenda Est
How shall we repair relations after the election? Perhaps there are things on which we can all agree. I'll let Jim Geraghty introduce my idea:
Can we just put away any talk of a "Libertarian Future" for a while? I'd love to live in it, but there's no sign it's coming, in either a capital-L Libertarian Party way or a small-L philosophical way. This was the year that the Democrats nominated a corrupt, longtime-insider, big-government, scandal-ridden statist, and the Republicans nominated a guy who wants government to get bigger -- more infrastructure spending, mandated maternity leave, opposes entitlement reform, cheers eminent domain, and a new 35 percent tax on companies that fire workers. Trump's focus was never freedom or liberty. It was about empowering government, run by him, to address grievances of working-class whites and return America to a golden past, undoing decades of changes to the country and the world.
I'm not giving up on the little-l stuff. But boy-howdy Geraghty is right about the Big-Ls. The worst nominees evah, and they're fighting to hit 5%?
Jeeberz, will the last one out please turn off the lights?
Leviathan be thy name
'Government Workers Now Outnumber Manufacturing Workers by 9,977,000'
The BLS has published seasonally-adjusted month-by-month employment data for both government and manufacturing going back to January 1939. According to this data, manufacturing employees in the United States of America outnumbered government employees every month for more than half a century. Then, in August 1989, government employees slipped ahead of manufacturing employees for the first time—taking a slim lead of 17,989,000 to 17,964,000.
November 7, 2016
One last attempt at electioneering
Hey, have you thought about what might happen to your federal tax bill depending on who wins the election? Tax Foundation has.
Happy Election Eve!
Polls open in Colorado in less than 15 hours and, perhaps more importantly, close in less than 27 hours. "Our long national nightmare is almost over" someone once said, and it feels like it applies again in this event. It's almost over except for the lawsuits and recounts and more lawsuits.
I predicted last week that Trump will win with over 300 electoral votes. I can't prove it of course, and I'm a partisan, but there's my marker.
For those who are convinced the Colorado is in the bank for Hillary due to the lateness of the Comey letter versus the start of early voting, here is some counter factual.
As of this morning, November 7, 645,020 registered Democrats have voted in Colorado.
This is a net 7,360 advantage for Mr. Trump, if one assumes that D's and R's vote in equal proportion for their party nominee. That is consistent with the IBD national poll, but Colorado voters are, as they say, "weird."
The big wildcard is the unaffiliateds. a whopping half a million, 527,706, have voted early.
In every poll I've seen Trump leads Clinton with the uncommitted crowd.
And then there is election day. We shall see.
November 6, 2016
Thucydidies Book Three: The Price of Human Life
"People who read Thucydides and Caesar on war, and Seneca and Ovid on love, are less inclined to construe passing fads as durable outlooks, to fall into the maelstrom of celebrity culture, to presume that the circumstances of their own life are worth a Web page." -- Mark Bauerlein quoted by Walter WilliamsWhy read Thucydides? The search results looking for the above quote are instructive. There is much on military strategy and "The Thucydides Trap" which is the subject of blog friend tg's superb Book II essay. I am riveted by what is timeless and what is modern. Pace Bauerlein, the good Athenian General/Historian will frequently lay down a riff that speaks clearly to today's events.
Indeed it is generally the case that men are readier to call rogues clever than simpletons honest, and are as ashamed of being the second as they are proud of being the first.Then in the next section, he will describe an impoverished and pre-Hobbesian world which I cannot recognize. Form 3.67:
The number of Plataeans thus massacred was not less than two hundred, with twenty-five Athenians who had shared in the siege. The women were taken as slaves.  The city the Thebans gave for about a year to some political emigrants from Megara, and to the surviving Plataeans of their own party to inhabit, and afterwards razed it to the ground from the very foundations, and built on to the precinct of Hera an inn two hundred feet square, with rooms all round above and below, making use for this purpose of the roofs and doors of the Plataeans : of the rest of the materials in the wall, the brass and the iron, they made couches which they dedicated to Hera, for whom they also built a stone chapel of a hundred feet square. The land they confiscated and let out on a ten-years' lease to Theban occupiers.  The adverse attitude of the Spartans in the whole Plataean affair was mainly adopted to please the Thebans, who were thought to be useful in the war at that moment raging. Such was the end of Plataea in the ninety-third year after she became the ally of Athens."Bloody Spartans!" This massacre is not attributable to the heat of battle or fog of war; it is preceded by speeches both for mercy and for retribution (well chronicled in Pauline Kaurin's Book III essay. In the end, the Spartans decide to ask each resident what they have done to help Sparta. Without a good answer, it is death. The Plateans' speech points out that this is not actually a fair question for residents of an Athenian controlled and long blockaded city. But justice is swift, harsh, and generally not very just in the Peloponnesian War.
The politics and military strategy are still of interest today. One must search for recognizable economic ideas, such as Pericles (2.37) some 2100 years before Adam Smith:
while the magnitude of our city draws the produce of the world into our harbor, so that to the Athenian the fruits of other countries are as familiar a luxury as those of his own.
The lack of enlightenment economics and values differentiate the tale from modern times. Hemmingway reminds that "Que puta es la Guerra" and there is no paucity of butchery today. But in a Steven Pinker, Better Angels world it is an aberration. "And the women were sold as slaves." closes many a section. The victors set up a trophy, the losers recover their dead under truce, and, oh yeah, the women were sold as slaves.
Much is timeless. The lack of value for life is not. This value does not come from our being so much nobler or better than those of Fifth Century BCE Hellas, but without productivity gains, people are truly interchangeable. And interchangeable is expendable. A great leader like Pericles has leverage and cannot be easily replaced. The same for a great General like the Spartan Brasidas. But the rower, the hoplite, the olive farmer were each just another warm body.
The nobility of the Enlightenment proceeds from the economic value of productive people under specialization and comparative advantage. Seeing its absence underscores the connection.
SIDE NOTE: Some interesting 2450-tear-old crowdsourcing: Plateans, planning escape, average multiple counts to assess the height of the wall to scale (3.19).
Ladders were made to match the height of the enemy's wall, which they measured by the layers of bricks, the side turned toward them not being thoroughly whitewashed. These were counted by many persons at once; and though some might miss the right calculation, most would hit upon it, particularly as they counted over and over again, and were no great way from the wall, but could see it easily enough for their purpose.  The length required for the ladders was thus obtained, being calculated from the breadth of the brick.
November 4, 2016
O.J. Rides Again
The news of last Friday's FBI decision, and the coverage of it over the weekend, struck me as the same kind of bombshell real-time news phenomenon as O.J. Simpson fleeing police in a white Ford Bronco. So naturally I wanted to read the Wayne Allen Root article by the same name - Hillary and the White Ford Bronco.
At any minute I expect to hear that every national TV news network is hosting live coverage of a police car chase. It will feature Hillary riding in the back seat of a white Ford Bronco, driven by Huma, headed for the Mexican border, with hundreds of FBI vans and police cars chasing behind. And of course Democrats lining the streets to catch the last glimpse of their former presidential nominee.
But the real legacy of the Clintons, Hillary and William Jefferson, is far grander than a mere flouting of federal law regarding classified information.
What this new FBI investigation is not about is taking bribes (disguised as donations) at the Clinton Foundation from countries that fund ISIS. Wikileaks proves Hillary knew that Qatar and Saudi Arabia were funding ISIS, but took their money anyway.
Unless she is pardoned by Barack Obama on January 19th, 2017.
Actually, I think Boulder SHOULD be accepting all manor and flavor of ME refugees: speak with your backyard, not your ballot!
Seriously, though, here is a thoughtful piece from Dr. Erler (from KaliFORnia!) who postulates:
a world without borders is a world without citizens, and a world without citizens is a world without the rights and privileges that attach exclusively to citizenship. Rights and liberties exist only in separate and independent nations; they are the exclusive preserve of the nation-state. Constitutional government only succeeds in the nation-state, where the just powers of government are derived from the consent of the governed. By contrast, to see the globalist principle in practice, look at the European Union. The EU is not a constitutional government; it is an administrative state ruled by unelected bureaucrats. It attempts to do away with both borders and citizens, and it replaces rights and liberty with welfare and regulation as the objects of its administrative rule.and my favorite idea that makes me weirdo in nearly every political discussion:
The idea that every right has a corresponding duty or obligation was essential to the social compact understanding of the American founding.
He states "tolerance" has displaced morality in the modern Prog's world, and claims that they must also throw reason out the door.
Over the past century and more, this morality grounded in the American founding has been successfully eroded by Progressivism. This erosion is manifested today in the morality of value-free relativism. According to this new morality, all value judgments are equal. Reason cannot prove that one value is superior to or more beneficial than another, because values are not capable of rational analysis; they are merely idiosyncratic preferences. In this value-free universe, the only value that is “objectively” of higher rank is tolerance. Equal toleration of all values—what is called today a commitment to diversity—is the only “reasonable” position. And note that it is always called a commitment to diversity. It is a commitment because it cannot be rational in any strict sense—it exists in a value-free world from which reason has been expelled.and he answers one that has riddled me for a while:
Note that these leaders [Obama, Merkel] show no such enthusiasm for admitting Christian refugees from Middle Eastern violence, or even Yazidis, who have suffered horribly from the ravages of Islamic terror. These refugees, of course, represent no danger to America. Only by admitting those who do represent a danger can we display to the world “who we are as a people”—a people willing to sacrifice ourselves to vouchsafe our commitment to tolerance.
Lastly, he proposes a simple and effective rule to replace the vetting, which all agree is nigh impossible:
One condition for claiming refugee status in the Refugee Act of 1980 is religious persecution. This necessarily means that any applicant for religious asylum would have to submit to questioning about his religious beliefs and (presumably) the sincerity of those beliefs. Should asylum be extended to the adherents of religions that do not recognize the free exercise rights of other religions?
Good down to earth read, for such a heady start!
November 1, 2016