January 31, 2017

"Anti-Muslim" Policy Supported by Muslims

An opinion piece by Shireen Qudosi says that pro-reform Muslims support the new executive order on immigration from seven "red-flag states" and hope that he goes farther:

The big picture is that refugee plight is a vehicle for radical Islamic terrorists who easily infiltrate the stream of hard-to-vet victims of war.

Immigration, until President Trump's executive order, was arguably the largest security blind spot for America to date.

President Trump’s security-driven agenda in the first week is a move welcomed by Muslims both domestically and abroad, many of whom have the same security concerns against growing Islamic extremism as Americans.

The whole piece is worth a read, particularly to see what additional steps are recommended by moderate Muslims to defeat Islamic Jihad.

UPDATED to include the link.

But nanobrewer thinks:

Now, that I'm done HARRUMPing on JK's latest reboot on liberty, let me say this:
[Trump's temporary ban] was also IMO about a 'reset' on an incontrovertibly broken immigration system. The non-temporary ban on Syrians is completely in line with his campaign promise/idea of creating a safe zone over there, instead of uprooting and shipping them across the ocean to a foreign culture. It's an idea with a great deal of merit.

Do I get a prize if we net an ISIS operative in the crop of 109 inconvenienced travelers?

Posted by: nanobrewer at January 31, 2017 11:53 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

From the comments page at PL:

"This ban is your ban, this ban is my ban
From Somalia, to the Sudan
From the Yemen desert, to the Persian Gulf waters
This ban protects you and me."

David French has the practical view:

Obama’s expansion was a departure from recent norms, not Trump’s contraction.

Posted by: nanobrewer at February 1, 2017 1:11 AM
But johngalt thinks:

One thousand pardons, sahib, for omitting the link. I have added it in an update.

Posted by: johngalt at February 1, 2017 10:54 AM
But johngalt thinks:

And thanks for chiming in, nb. I was starting to look around for my trusty white steed. At home, dagny is calling me "horrible" for my rationalizing. I do think she's happier with Gorsuch than Garland, however, though she hasn't actually said as much.

Posted by: johngalt at February 1, 2017 10:58 AM
But jk thinks:

I don't think the full text of the linked article constitutes a robust defense of last weekend's dumpster fire.

Yes, Muslims plural, as in more than one, agree with extreme vetting. But I read much concern about perceived overreach and the possibility of counter-productive antagonism of two billion people.

Pace Harsanyi (Wow, memories run short around these parts), I think there are good items and bad items from this administration -- and they are coming at 100 miles an hour.

I'm happy saying that Judge Gorsuch is a great pick, as is Betsy DeVos, Andy Puzder, Riok Perry, and Tom Price. Love "the Stossel Rule" on regulation. The country is better off for the next four years with the mercurial Trump heading the Executive Branch than the dour, collectivist Clinton.

But, not everything is great. There is a huge potential to damage the Conservative and Republican brands. I still fret for the future of the GOP. The bad things will be bad and I am equally disturbed at those who will not admit any flaws as I am with those who cannot see successes.

Posted by: jk at February 1, 2017 12:56 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I think our points of view may be passing in the night, without recognizing one another. You ask that supporters admit flaws, and I hear you making common cause with another friend of mine who, in the wake of "last weekend's dumpster fire" said, "Trump needs to resign" as his first thought on the subject. Maybe it is your characterization of bureaucratic bungling and unwittingly rolling up green-card holders with other immigrant visas as a "dumpster fire" that has me convinced that you personally expect perfection from Trump 1.0 at every turn. Unfair?

Yes, I "admit flaws."

"Flaws" does not equal "dumpster fire."

Posted by: johngalt at February 1, 2017 3:18 PM

Media "Deprogramming" Underway?

Or from the perspective of the typical MSNBC anchor, "What, we're going over to the Dark Side?"

NBC wants to be 'the next Fox News,' insiders say.

Media insiders are buzzing that Andy Lack wants NBC to become "the next Fox News" after he poached cable stars Greta Van Susteren and Megyn Kelly from the network.

"He believes he's building MSNBC and NBC into the next Fox. It seems the network wants to take a more conservative tone," a source said.

I'm not so sure about that "more conservative tone" part, but emulating Fox News is clearly a smart move for any media outlet seeking market success, since FNC has been mopping the floor with all of the other cable news outlets. Let's see if Maddow, Matthews, Mitchell, et. al. find walking papers. I rather doubt it.

But jk thinks:

It seems there is a market. They will have to compete with the existing FOX.

You guys want to make a bundle? There are four TV new organizations in Denver, plus two have sister stations fed with news programming. Six stations, multiple newscasts -- and they are all exactly the same!

I think you could buy one out, or get a program director high. Then do a "FOX-esque" local news that is moderate or gasp! leans to the right a little. If you did it on FOX31 or sister Channel2, you could probably get FOX News Programming.

It's like a Rep. Tom Tancredo primary! Five guys all the same, you're different. I'd think you could garner substantial market share. And the News is the Cash Cow of a local station.

Stunning to me that nobody has tried this. Many choose ideology over profit -- but all of them?

Posted by: jk at February 1, 2017 4:39 PM

Otequay of the Ayday

But lately I get the feeling that Trump's critics have evolved from expecting Trump to be Hitler to preferring it. Obviously they don't prefer it in a conscious way. But the alternative to Trump becoming Hitler is that they have to live out the rest of their lives as confirmed morons. No one wants to be a confirmed moron. And certainly not after announcing their Trump opinions in public and demonstrating in the streets. It would be a total embarrassment for the anti-Trumpers to learn that Trump is just trying to do a good job for America. It's a threat to their egos. A big one.

Scott Adams - Be Careful What You Wish For (especially if it is Hitler)

All Hail Harsanyi

No, seriously. I think David Harsanyi has words of wisdom for both the distraught and indefatigable among us.

The election phase of the debate is over. Traditionally, presidents offer a menu of policies that more or less comport with the worldview of their party. This is different. So while I don't contend to speak for all conservatives, I do imagine many are horrified/excited/sad/happy/content/embarrassed by what's going on -- often on the same day.

Hasanyi suggests "Conservatives" take it issue by issue, which I have tried. He lays out his good-Trump / bad-Trump dichotomies which comport fairly closely with mine.

I'd suggest a read in full and look forward to any potential areas of agreement.

But johngalt thinks:

Harsanyi writes,

"From my perspective, Trump is neither presidential, competent, nor ideologically (or otherwise) coherent most of the time."

Let's consider the most important of this - "coherent most of the time." Is there anything about which any of the Trump Administration's "agonistes" is consistent? A list:

- Telling the media to "keep its mouth shut"
- Failed to mention Jews specifically in its Holocaust Rememberance statement
- Erroneously including green-card holders in the temporary travel ban from Congressionally identified terror threat countries
- Seating a "pseudo-intellectual chauvinist" on the NSC
- Stating that waterboarding isn't torture
- "Blatantly lying" about crowd sizes

Harsanyi contrasted each of these with some other unalloyed good, at least from a Republican perspective, to illustrate his purported incoherence. But when considered as a group, without Harsanyi's chosen counterpoint, I can see a coherent theme. Namely, a fierce assault on an overly sensitized media that suffers from Political Correctness Stockholm Syndrome, which goes beyond mere manipulation and into the realm of psychological assault. Perhaps he intends to "deprogram" the media but, more likely, he's just keeping them off balance and focused on what they consider "extreme" rhetoric while he "does his job" as he explained it to the voters who put him in office.

One problem with this strategy is that members of the general public, to a degree that is proportional to their sensitivities about various social issues, can view the president as erratic and "incoherent."

Posted by: johngalt at January 31, 2017 3:10 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

Ok, I can agree with:

offensive, amateurish, and historically illiterate
the only question is who's worse: Trump or Harsanyi? {now, I'm recalling that Harsanyi is often offensive; he tries to disappoint...}

Telling the media to “keep its mouth shut,”
Sigh; he - as did the rest of the LameStream Media obviously only using half of what's left of their right brain - cut out the most important, THE FOCUS OF THE EFFING STATEMENT (DUH!!) and listen!! (pssst: listen to the American people). Sheesh. This is a bad a misquote as citing Palin as saying "God is on our side." Offensive (Harsanyi, that is) or shrill amateur?

I can agree with:

James Mattis, Mike Pompeo, and other competent cabinet picks that align well with prevailing Republican worldviews. Most cabinet members have nothing to do with Trumpism, yet Democrats act as if every selection is a fanatic.

Trump says waterboarding isn’t torture.
So do I, as does Mike Rosen, amongst others who think head-strong and safety-first (Cotton, Cruz...). I can make a solid argument, but it might make him up his Lithium dosage!

Trump will blatantly lie about crowd sizes
Sigh, and I was just warming up to Spectator. Idiot: there is no way to measure a crowd size like that. Harsanyi left off the slash-regulations EO, but made a half-hearted swipe at the USSC. Um, did JK actually use the word "wisdom" in reference to this post? I can agree with this as practical but not wise:
One day Trump’s negatives might make him completely unpalatable for most conservatives. Today, what reason do they give to make common cause with morally preening liberals who overreact to every executive order and utterance? In this environment, it’s perfectly acceptable, even preferable, to take politics issue by issue.
Posted by: nanobrewer at February 1, 2017 12:29 AM

January 30, 2017

Trump Monday

Or I might say, Day ten of President Trump's first hundred.

The next "deplorable policy" has been signed:

President Donald Trump signed an order on Monday that will seek to dramatically pare back federal regulations by requiring agencies to cut two existing regulations for every new rule introduced.


For the rest of fiscal 2017, the cap will require that the cost of any additional regulations be completely offset by undoing existing rules, the official said on customary condition of anonymity.

Trump, a businessman turned politician, campaigned on a promise to reduce federal regulations that he said burdened American businesses.

Major regulations are typically reviewed by the White House's Office of Management and Budget (OMB) before they are issued. That review will continue under this new measure, but agencies will also have to identify what two regulations will be repealed to offset the costs of any new rule.

Who does he think he is, holding the federal government's Executive Branch accountable for the consequences of its actions like that!

But nanobrewer thinks:

Now we're talking! So, this is an EO, too? Now, I'm fumbling with my separation of powers ken... this doesn't require legislation?

Posted by: nanobrewer at January 30, 2017 11:45 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Nossir, I wouldn't think so. As the Chief Executive he has ultimate control over the bureaucracies and agencies that comprise the Administrative State. It may require firing nearly half of all agency employees, but it is possible for him to reign in Leviathan.

(Hey, a guy can dream.)

Posted by: johngalt at January 31, 2017 12:23 PM

Weekly Media Apocalypse

Investor's Editorial Page sounds like yours truly, commenting on the post below:

This isn't to say that the implementation of Trump's order was without fault, or that he should have been better prepared for what he had to know would be an intense reaction. As National Review's Andrew McCarthy explained, Trump "would've been wise to give government agencies and foreigners time to prepare." Trump also had to modify his order to exempt green card holders.

But let's be clear - implementation hassles are just that, hassles that will be dealt with in due time. And in any case the number of people unfairly hassled was apparently small. These problems have nothing to do with the substance of Trump's order or its merits, about which there is certainly room for reasoned debate.

Indeed, much of the "chaos and confusion" that Schumer complained about was the result not of Trump's order, but the false, misleading and inflammatory claims spread by Democrats, protesters who instantly swarmed into various airports, and the mainstream press that vigorously fanned the flames.

This has, unfortunately, been the pattern since Trump took the oath of office. All the actions Trump has taken so far are ones he promised months ago to tackle immediately, yet they are all treated as shocking developments.

It is hard to see how Trumps' critics are helping their cause when they react to everything Trump does as if it were a world-ending catastrophe.

But nanobrewer thinks:

This was nothing... a temporary stay on 0.03% of overseas travelers, those from areas clearly proven to have problems with terrorism and major problems with documentation traceability.

So ASI has drunk the cool-aid, too? Good grief:

malevolence of President Trump's Executive Order
This is the most ridiculous thing I've read since Trump declared his candidacy.

Malevolent = "showing a wish to do evil"
Evil is done by keeping my kids safe?!? Evil is done by a TEMPORARY stay on 0.03% of overseas travelers? Evil is done by staging a wake up call: "HELLO!! What's your problem with terrorism?! Ah, you don't have any system of documentation? Well, this isn't Tampico, you need documents, stinking or not."

Trample the rule of law? Ok, Yusupoff has firmly established himself as a constitutional illiterate... I think I shall not visit ASI for the foreseeable future.

Posted by: nanobrewer at January 30, 2017 11:43 PM
But jk thinks:

Toldja not to click.

But now that we are here, I agree it was malevolent. I would accept a lawyerly walk back to criminally negligent, but I think you are underestimating the severity of this and the fundamental disconnect with liberty.

The small percentage does nit include people who were told not to board planes in their native country or told by their employer not to leave the country. But it's far more than numbers. This is an unusual constraint on our freedom to travel.

Posted by: jk at January 31, 2017 10:02 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I followed your advice, and didn't click. Yet somehow I know that his own commenters are running 3-2 against his point of view.

The chief "offense" of the order seems to be the inclusion of immigrant along with non-immigrant visas. Apparently this is how it affects green-card holders. It wasn't even 24 hours before the Administration was insisting that green card holders should not be affected.

Mister Smith has gone to Washington and been elected POTUS. He's filled his administration with businessmen more than bureaucrats. Again, can we judge the act in its revised form instead of the initial, untested version that was implemented without warning for a valid reason? Pull-EEEEZE. I mean seriously.... "high crime?" "misdemeanor?" One might well think so, viewing only the reactions.

Posted by: johngalt at January 31, 2017 12:31 PM
But jk thinks:

It was over the top. Good for you for staying away.

But there is a valid question underlying. I posted David Harsanyi's upbeat suggestion that Conservatives should take the good parts of a Trump Administration and decry the bad. I think that applies equally to libertarians and is generally good advice.

But at some level, you have to ask what you can and cannot accept.

From a tactical perspective, I look at the people he is chasing away. I've watched a few Republican-leaners "lost to the GOP forever" and a serious Republican completely distraught. Moderates? All gone. When the "good parts," the Charter Schools and labor rules some out, will there be any political capital to sustain them?

I'm not talking impeachment. But I'm not your worry.

Posted by: jk at January 31, 2017 1:31 PM
But johngalt thinks:

The "impeachment" barb was not directed toward you, brother, but to the blizzards of snowflakes that struck airports around the country over the weekend.

I think I explained Trump's strategy in a comment on the Hirsanyi post. The well-intentioned souls you describe are unfortunate victims of what I will dub, Trump's Media Deprogramming Blitzkrieg. (Maybe not a good choice of terms in a climate where he's being called the modern Hitler, but I'm in no mood for mealy-mouthing it either.)

Yes, it is unfortunate to "drive people away" but I dispute the contention that people who voted for him two months ago are "gone forever" over the green-card fiasco. And he is in the first ten of his first hundred days. Must he consider electoral concerns for 2020 already, before actually saving America from the globalist one-world government dystopia we had been rushing into, headlong, until January 20th, 2017?

There will be risks to Trump's aggressive strategy to defeat that Borg-like future, to be sure. But they pale in my view, in both severity and likelihood - compared to the seat of American government being moved to Brussels or Turtle Bay.

Posted by: johngalt at January 31, 2017 3:44 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

@JK: "fundamental disconnect with liberty"
OK, I'll bite; first, show where the constitution specifies the right of an average Fatima or Muhammad to get a visa, or where POTUS does not have the authority to pose restrictions. Now, explain how a 90-day suspension on 0.03% of travelers disconnects from any commonly-held or consistent definition of "liberty." Please save time and remember to refute or modernize Mr. Adam's quote:

America is a friend of freedom everywhere, but only a custodian only of our own.

Also recall what is enshrined in the Constitution: " insure [ensure] Domestic Tranquility" or in other words; keep Americans safe.

While you're rebooting the concept of liberty to bootstrap onto an open borders concept consider this question: what is it about Islam that creates, in the words of political scientist Samuel Huntington, “bloody borders”?

Posted by: nanobrewer at January 31, 2017 11:47 PM


One interesting game is developing in the early portion of '17: will my buddies be able to defend the latest action of President Trump? Will they last four years? Or will issue X be the thing to break them?

I'm seated and in a listening mood. I'll open with the suggestion that the EO in immigration was cruel, uneconomic, very poor politics -- and executed completely bone-headedly badly.

Green Card Holders? People with homes, family and dogs in the United States; people who were allowed to enter the country last Thursday cannot enter on Saturday? Charles Cooke of NR is a green card holder -- tell 'em about the un-vetted pathway to the US the program presents for terrorists Charlie:

Unlike, say, H1B-carriers, permanent residents are expected to live in America by default, and are in fact penalized if they don't. By law and by expectation, this country is their home; their base; the ground in which their roots are planted. Because of this, permanent residents are able to purchase, own, and carry firearms; they are required to register with the selective service; and they are treated for tax and welfare purposes as are U.S. citizens. They can’t vote or serve on a jury, but, other than, they effectively enjoy all the liberties that natural born Americans enjoy. When they re-enter the country, the agent says "Welcome Home," which is a big change from their visa days. They are not Americans, and they mustn't pretend to be. But they are as close as one can get without being one.

Another game of '17 has been to shoot down the insane anti-Trumpers who post outrageous fabrications on Facebook to make the President look bad. I started to do this Saturday night. "OMG, he isn't keeping out people who belong here," sez me. "He's keeping out new people. I disagree profusely but he campaigned on it and yadda yadda..."

Oh? What's that? He is detaining green card holders? Women in Seatlle are told by their employer not to visit their parents in Canada for fear of being denied re-entry?

Kellyanne Conway points out that 300,000 people were not detained at the airport! Why look at all the black people who were not lynched in the Jim Crow Era!

I understand they are backing off the green-card bit. Good for them. But can any of our indefatigable defenders contradict Jonathan Adler?

Whatever one thinks of the underlying policy, the degree of administrative incompetence in its execution is jaw-dropping. Like Orin below, I think it's worth quoting this Benjamin Wittes post from the Lawfare blog:
The malevolence of President Trump's Executive Order on visas and refugees is mitigated chiefly--and perhaps only--by the astonishing incompetence of its drafting and construction.

Even the righties at Instapundit who welcome the restrictions are not pleased. The Professor links:
JOHN HINDERAKER: Is Trump's Immigration Order the Worst of Both Worlds? "President Trump is taking a lot of political heat, and therefore expending a considerable amount of political capital, for an immigration order that doesn’t go far enough to be meaningful."

I don't think I want to know what the Powerline lads think is "far enough to be meaningful." But the President spent a lot of political capital this weekend (and why the hell was it on a weekend?) Did he get good value?

UPDATE: Never mind. I guess it is going well.

Trump Agonistes Posted by John Kranz at 10:18 AM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

I'll go first-

Has anyone actually READ the ACTUAL executive order, or is everyone reacting to all of the fallout? I sought it out this morning, on white house dot gov, but didn't find it. Instead, I found a link to it in an NRO piece defending Trump, indefatigably, by Andrew C. McCarthy. The order is reprinted by the (NY) Times. Some highlights:

Firstly, did anyone know that there has been a waiver program on the "requirement" that all visa applicants be interviewed face-to-face? I didn't.

"Sec. 8. Visa Interview Security. (a) The Secretary of State shall immediately suspend the Visa Interview Waiver Program and ensure compliance with section 222 of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1222, which requires that all individuals seeking a nonimmigrant visa undergo an in-person interview, subject to specific statutory exceptions."

And then there's the "ban" language, "indefinitely" prohibiting the entry of all muslims. Err, all muslims from seven countries (seven countries named by congress AND the Obama Administration as dangerous.) But there are these exclusions from the "ban:"

(excluding those foreign nationals traveling on diplomatic visas, North Atlantic Treaty Organization visas, C-2 visas for travel to the United Nations, and G-1, G-2, G-3, and G-4 visas).

And this blanket exception:

(g) Notwithstanding a suspension pursuant to subsection (c) of this section or pursuant to a Presidential proclamation described in subsection (e) of this section, the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security may, on a case-by-case basis, and when in the national interest, issue visas or other immigration benefits to nationals of countries for which visas and benefits are otherwise blocked.

And the "ban" is temporary: 90 days for regular visas and 120 days for the refugee program. More of a "specific suspension" than an "indefinite ban" if you asked me.

Might there be things they could have fine tuned, done differently, or implemented better? Sure. It's been one day! Can we give them a few more hours, at least, before drawing up articles of impeachment?

Posted by: johngalt at January 30, 2017 1:10 PM
But johngalt thinks:

That was yesterday. Today, McCarthy is defatigable. Or at the very least, Monday-morning quarterbacking.

I am sympathetic to the new Administration's motive to implement policy without timetables, which the enemy may exploit. Yes, they probably went too far in this case. So fix it and move on. Then implement the next "deplorable" policy quickly, so that this one fades from the headlines.

Posted by: johngalt at January 30, 2017 1:35 PM



Blame it on my Youth

Wishing y'all a prosperous and generally awesome 2017!

Oscar Levant and Edward Heyman ©1934

Live at the Coffeehouse dot Com


January 29, 2017

reins act

I found a new free market blog last week when following some inside-baseball information on FERC regulations on the power industry.

This short article, from the heretofore unknown Ashley Baker, brilliantly sums up the case for passing and enforcing the REINS act, and takes a paragraph or two to expose HuffPo's rather unsavory Carl Pope as either mendacious or stupid. Enjoy!

Pope’s assessment could not be less accurate. In fact, the REINS Act would remove the bureaucrat-driven rulemaking process from behind closed doors and hold elected officials accountable for new regulations.

Under the current process, Congress escapes scrutiny when regulatory agencies issue new rules that affect the lives of Americans. Unlike executive bureaucrats, elected officials can be held accountable by their constituents. Regulators, lacking this type of accountability, are free to promulgate rules without much regard for the costs they will impose.

Review Corner

Since John Law and his Mississippi Bubble, individuals have been continually appearing with the same scheme in new disguise. The principle is very simple. You have only to find a way to multiply your creditors by the cube and pay them by the square, out of their own money. Then for a while you are Nabob. One fish cut up for bait brings three. Two of these cut up for bait bring eight, the cube of two. Four of these cut up for bait bring sixty-four, the cube of four. Sixteen of these for bait bring 4,096, and 256 of these, which is the square of sixteen, will bring 16,777,216, which is the cube of 256.

The fatal weakness of the scheme is that you cannot stop. When new creditors fail to present themselves faster than the old creditors demand to be paid off, the bubble bursts. Then you go to jail, like Ponzi, or commit suicide, like Ivar Kreuger.

One of my most respected and intellectually esteemed friends recommended Garet Garrett's The Bubble that Broke the World (LvMI). Published by the Mises Institute and Kindle priced at $2.99, I dropped everything.

The book is copyright 1931, 1932. And if I may practice criminal understatement, the author is not very keen on debt and leverage. And in the years before 1932, average Americans, not only governments and institutions were chasing yield. That yield-chase led them to take on riskier and riskier investments. Stop me if you've heard this.

The committee was hearing bankers on the question of establishing a national economic council and it was asking him what the bankers had done to restrain a wild use of American credit before the collapse. He said: "Speculation was in the air, and the speculators wanted to buy, buy, buy, and the bankers and brokers dealing in securities supplied that demand. . . . In other words, I do not think you would be justified in holding the bankers responsible for the wide speculative craze that worked through the country. I think they were trying to supply what the customers wanted. . . . I think the banker is like the grocer. He supplies what his customer wants."

The more perceptive of you are figuring out that I had some difficulties with this book. It, indeed, features brilliant prose and brilliant insights: I will get to the discussion of the Gold Standard.

But I am a huge fan of financial innovation and Garrett is a Luddite. His 1922 novel, The Driver has been called a precursor Atlas Shrugged and a likely source of the last name Galt. They used Gold in the Gulch and I suspect Objectivists (and the Austrians at the LvMI) are wary of money that is less "Aristotelian."

As they deposit your checks the sums are charged to your account, deducted from your credit on the books. No actual money is involved. If these last few passages have been difficult, take the fact lightly and without blame. Of all the discoveries and inventions by which we live and die this totally improbable helix of credit is the most cunning, the most liable, the least comprehended and, next to high explosives, the most dangerous.

I'll come out of the closet. I took out a mortgage to purchase a home. When I wished to pursue a startup opportunity which lacked cash flow, I refinanced that mortgage with a no-doc loan, chose an interest-only vehicle and fed my family on (egads!) debt! Like high explosives, debt can be quite useful.

Interesting in 2017, under the shadow of massive US debt to China to read such disgust at our being a creditor nation. Even if we build useless public works here in the good old USA, we shall have the tenements. (#MAGA?) A fair point that foreign loans are difficult to collateralize:

Lending of this character, to local people, the bank knowing all of them personally, is not only the safest kind of lending for the bank; it is the ideal use of credit. Unfortunately, the local demand for credit is not enough to absorb the bank’s whole lending power. From the savings of the community, always accumulating in the safe as cash deposits, the bank acquires a surplus lending power. Having satisfied its own customers with credit at the window marked "Discounts and Collections", what will the bank do with the surplus credit?

One would think that extra yield in foreign loans would compensate for the reduced safety.

Garrett's real concern is not a Fort Wayne plumber's getting burned in defaulted Chilean bonds. It is the postwar (WWI) international debt structure. All the European nations are rebuilding on American dollars. Britain has propped up the Pound, and Germany is clearly cracking under its Versailles obligations. Haircuts are coming and it seems likely that America will get shaved most deeply.

You could fill a library shelf with my lack of understanding of WWI. I truly don't get it. But my hero, Charles Gates Dawes is indirectly dissed as author of The Dawes Plan. This was the WWI version of the Marshall Plan, and it both saved many millions of lives and returned Europe to normalcy. Being a banker, Dawes structured aid as loans. Belgium was saved; did Germany default because of debt or onerous conditions of Versailles? (C.f. my general ignorance of WWI).

This is available free on the LvMI site. If you're too cheap to pony up $2.99 in inflated fiat currency, you may go here. In all seriousness, the four page section on the Gold Standard is well worth a read in full.

The value of gold is arbitrary; so is the length of a yardstick. But just as it is necessary to sell cloth by the yard or coal by the ton, so it is necessary to have some arbitrary unit of value in which to price the yard of cloth and the ton of coal. It would be ideal to have something of absolutely invariable value in which to price them. But there is no absolutely invariable thing in the world.
For this now is the modern function of gold-- to limit the amount of money and credit that may be wilfully, irresponsibly created and set free.

Great prose and keen insights. But I hold opposition to his central thesis, videlicet:
Third, the argument that prosperity is a product of credit, whereas from the beginning of economic thought it had been supposed that prosperity was from the increase and exchange of wealth, and credit was its product.

Prosperity rests heavily on financial innovation, part of which is credit. Get capital to its best uses and risk in the best hands to deal with it.

It grieves me to pan a recommendation from such a person. But the integrity of Review Corner is sacrosanct. Three Stars.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 2:48 PM | What do you think? [0]

January 27, 2017

The One Absolute of Postmodern Relativism

There is so much to say about this fascinating article, and so much of it requires even more thought than I've given it already. So for now, I'll just make this a de-facto Quote of the Day and suggest that everyone read the full article and its detailed explanation of how candidate Trump turned the criticisms of him back upon his accusers, and even seemed to willingly and repeatedly step into politically-incorrect messes, only to emerge from the other side stronger and more resolute.

Donald Trump is the First President to Turn Postmodernism Against Itself

Democrats gleefully welcomed Trump's victory in the Republican primaries with the expectation that they'd bury him in a pile of condescension for being a buffoon and scorn for being the next Hitler. Better yet, they figured that his astounding rise confirmed everything they had long assumed about half the country and were now free to say out loud: they are indeed a basket of irredeemable racist, sexist, homophobic deplorables. Mainstream Republicans would surely hop on board the progressive train rather than be associated with these creeps.

None of this happened, of course. But why? Because what Trump's enemies failed to grasp was that he wasn't winning because of the crazy things he was saying, but because of the phony outrage and affected condescension it provoked. Many people empathized with Trump for enduring the contempt that he deliberately brought against himself. Trump kept playing the role of the antihero, and Clinton kept playing the role of the pearl-clutching fraud.

But johngalt thinks:

And yet, the relativists still. don't. get it.

Tom Brady’s Politics Are More Un-American Than Colin Kaepernick’s Have Ever Been

Posted by: johngalt at January 27, 2017 4:50 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

Their bubble is sooo thick, and coated with so much patchouli oil and rainbow flags that they are having trouble finding their way out.

The article (what I had time to read) time & time again brought up Nazi Germany themed items but never said what and how Brady embraced any of them. Guilt by association, pure and simple. One commenter even pointed this out: it was a friendship, started before politics and presumably above politics, with the comment citing some public statements about how he didn't agree with everything. He didn't get far....

Posted by: nanobrewer at January 28, 2017 9:39 AM
But jk thinks:

Doesn't the ThreeSources Style Guide suggest a warning when linking to HuffPo?

Brady's obliviousness reeks of white privilege and dismissiveness; a #MAGA trait if there ever was one. But what's most troubling is the way Brady’s Trump endorsement has been treated compared to Kaepernick's political statements.

Kaepernick, Kaepernick . . . wasn't that the second string quarterback of some 1-11 team? The name rings a bell.

Posted by: jk at January 28, 2017 12:36 PM

Quote of the Day

Doesn't the "art of the deal" include giving your negotiating partner room to compromise? Mr. Trump made it impossible for Mr. Peña Nieto even to negotiate, all the more so after Mr. Peña Nieto went out of his way in August to invite Mr. Trump for a visit. That campaign stop helped Mr. Trump show he could stand on stage as an equal with a foreign leader, but Mr. Peña Nieto took a beating at home when Mr. Trump returned to Mexico-bashing. -- WSJ Ed Page
Trump Agonistes Posted by John Kranz at 10:40 AM | What do you think? [4]
But johngalt thinks:

I clicked through to find WSJ claiming that "The President is treating our neighbor like Obama treated Israel."


The President of Mexico seems to think he has the upper hand, much like Reagan did prior to meeting Gorbachev at Reykjavik. In accepting Nieto's cancellation of the meeting, Trump has merely called his bluff. He certainly didn't arrange for Mexico to be skewered in a UN vote.

The WSJ Ed Page seems ever more hyperbolic by the week.

Posted by: johngalt at January 27, 2017 4:56 PM
But jk thinks:

I call it "holding his feet to the fire." This is the very dark side of the Trump agenda. The WSJ has been Free People - Free Markets for a very long time and I am happy to see their keeping it up.

Posted by: jk at January 27, 2017 7:43 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

In public, agreed with JK that Trump has taken a hard stance. I heard on the radio this week that one cabinet member (Pence?) suggested that Mexico would "pay" by taking it out of their foreign aid budget. This is doable, and has some merit on several fronts.... it could inspire the discussion about Mexican immigrants, legal, illegal and in-between (aka, work in Douglas, AZ) and the cost/benefit ratio. Sadly, in today's Mainly Hysterical media market, I don't see that happening.

We have a right to build a fence, no one questions that. So, while we may debate its merits and debits, it's more than a bit beyond the pale to say that Mexico will pay for it.

Posted by: nanobrewer at January 28, 2017 9:58 AM
But jk thinks:

One should be more circumspect about using the phrase "no one questions that..." 'round these parts.

Whatever one's thoughts on immigration, the wall will require a gooberload of eminent domain, it will be very injurious to private property, and it could be suggested as injurious to American's rights to emigrate. (Not a South Park joke -- do we not have a right to leave?)

Posted by: jk at January 28, 2017 12:48 PM

January 26, 2017

Quote of the Day

The United States has the best public schools in the world. The top public high schools send nearly all their graduates on to college, and many to the most selective colleges. Faculty and parents are dedicated to the educational task, and most students graduate with college credit already in hand. The quality of these schools supports high housing prices within the district, generating property-tax revenues to fund the schools. Even a whiff of weak school performance will draw the ire not only of parents but of every homeowner with something to lose. It's a positive feedback loop.

We also have the worst public schools in the developed world. In 1,200 American high schools, a third or more of the students don't graduate. In 2013, 66 percent of U.S. fourth graders and 64 percent of eighth graders could not read at their grade level, according to the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) reading test. In 2013 the United States spent more per student than all OECD countries except Austria, Luxembourg, Norway, and Switzerland -- yet our educational outcomes have hovered around 20th place among OECD's 34 (now 35) nations. Our worst high schools are essentially prisons with poor security and lots of overhead. -- Dan Currell National Review

But johngalt thinks:

I haven't read the linked article yet but I wonder if we can see a Venn diagram of the best/worst schools overlaying Republican/Democrat mayors and city councils?

Usually these things are correlated with median income levels, but I see that as another symptom of the same cause - bad government.

Posted by: johngalt at January 26, 2017 4:21 PM
But jk thinks:

No doubt you're correct. The affluent in the areas dominated by bad schools can buy their way into tony private schools.

What fries my rice is that this is the root cause of inequality. All the same people who wish to "fix" inequality with hyper-progressive taxation represent a good Venn-match with the people protesting Sec.-nominee Betsy DeVos's rescuing the poor kids in the second paragraph.

Posted by: jk at January 26, 2017 5:03 PM

Maybe a "businessman"

A "stellar businessman."

The referenced line starts around the 7-minute mark, but I found this entire 2012 RNC Convention speech to be quite interesting and foreshadowing of this election just passed. Try the whole eleven minutes and see if you agree.

Making "Bully" Great Again

Not even a week into his Presidency, Donald Trump seems to rack up accomplishments by the day rather than by the month or even year, by his predecessor. But there's more to the comparison than mere ambition or scope of vision. There's a palpable difference of style, and it clearly favors the man portrayed as "vulgar" and "misogynist" over the one lauded as "clean and articulate."

As the meeting got started, the president, whom House Speaker Paul D. Ryan says wants to push "an ambitious agenda," employed chivalry and humor.

As his high-powered breakfast guests took their seats, Trump played the role of gentleman, holding General Motors CEO Mary Barra's chair.

"Let me help you with that," said the victorious presidential candidate, whose campaign trail comments and a leaked "Access Hollywood" video caused millions of women around the globe to protest last Saturday.

Then came more humor that got a big laugh from the car executives, when the president suggested they go around the table for introductions: "I'll start. I'm Donald Trump."

Imagine the 44th president, often (and aptly) referred to as the Narcissist in Chief, being so self-effacing. In contrast:

Over the last eight years, Obama and his aides hosted private-sector officials and stakeholders from the nonprofit world regularly. But the 44th president was often criticized for not socializing more with lawmakers, though his top aides near the end essentially argued a president should not have to - and expressed their belief that Republicans poisoned the relationship from the start.

Now who's guilty of excessive rationalizations? [Fourth comment] The most powerful man in the free world gives up because, dog gonnit, "they don't like me?" Almost in revenge, President Obama declared I will use my pen and phone to take on Congress. This is the tactic of a modern-day bully.

President Trump was thought to be exactly that during the presidential primary campaign, calling his opponents "low energy," "little," and "lyin'." But in his first days as President, Donald John Trump is reverting to an earlier meaning of the term. The meaning implied when President Theodore Roosevelt Jr. coined the term "bully pulpit" as a reference to the White House. In those days, "bully" was more apt to mean "superb" or "wonderful" and not the ruthless and insensitive lout it conjures today.

But the meetings with lawmakers and the titans of industry haven’t been merely social occasions. During the Monday evening session, the president "made it clear" to congressional leaders that "he expects no delays in getting his agenda through Congress and out of Washington," Spicer said Tuesday.

President Trump seems determined to make many things Great Again - the more, and the faster, the better.

January 25, 2017

the dutch have a modest request

Who says Canadians are the nicest people ?!? This is hilarious....

Humor Posted by nanobrewer at 11:56 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

You're right, nb. Quite funny. I love the ending!

Posted by: johngalt at January 26, 2017 2:15 AM

Dodo Bird; Baiji River Dolphin; Sanctuary Cities

The Dodo is well known as a long extinct specie of bird. The Baiji River Dolphin, far less famous, became extinct more recently. And astute readers have already detected the implied pattern in this post's headline.

While the fledgling administration of President Trump may have been the necessary catalyst, the real driving force behind the predicted demise of sanctuary cities in, first California, then the nation, is good ol' democracy:

"An IGS-UC Berkeley poll shows that 74 percent of Californians want sanctuary cities ended; 65 percent of Hispanics, 70 percent of independents, 73 percent of Democrats and 82 percent of Republicans."

Seventy-four percent! Hell, even same-sex marriage doesn't get that much popular support in the Golden State, with just 60 percent support. Or any state, for that matter (except Massachusetts, which boasts 76% support for same-sex marriage.) In fact, a greater majority of California Hispanics support ending sanctuary cities than the percentage of all Californians who approve of gay marriage.

Eventually, some enterprising politicians will take advantage of these facts and defeat the sanctuary city "bitter clingers" at the polls.

One last point: As a group, California Democrats are only 12 percent less "racist" than California Republicans.

Go Home, Hippies!

FORT YATES -- The Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Council unanimously voted to support the district of Cannon Ball in asking all Dakota Access Pipeline protesters to leave the area and canceling plans for a nearby winter camp.

"All the individuals at all the camps in and around Cannon Ball need to leave the district," residents wrote in a 10-point resolution passed during an executive session of a district meeting Wednesday night. "The building of an alternative site for the camp(s) within the Cannon Ball District is not needed or wanted. If there is to be any kind of a 'site' for the commemoration of this historic event that took place with all the tribes, the people of Standing Rock need to vote on where, what and cost before any 'shanty town is built."

But johngalt thinks:

Ha! If it were only that easy.

Posted by: johngalt at January 25, 2017 7:44 PM

I know 12 year old girls with fewer...

Reporting President Trump's moratorium on EPA social media communications, the always judicious Denver Post said "We're watching the dark cloud of Mordor extend over the federal service."

"One does not simply walk into the Denver Post and suggest objectivity . . . " But I digress.

The inestimable Amy Oliver-Cooke did a little digging:


Make no mistake, the EPA is allied headquarters for the Climate-Industrial Complex and their anti-energy allies on the left. According to a report from the Republican majority of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works:
EPA officials routinely corresponded via email with NRDC leaders with whom they also held meetings away from government property, thereby evading transparency requirements, since the start of the rule making process for the power plant regulations in March 2011.

I'm not sure Humphrey's Executor was well decided. In fact, I'm pretty certain it sucks. Regardless, I want to ask the hyoervetalists "Can you get on your company's Twitter account and send things out with which your CEO disagrees?"

UPDATE: Oh, and if you do not follow Laurie Bratten on Facebook, you are missing out. She posts daily updates from the Colorado Statehouse from a liberty / small-government perspective.

You Have a Lot of Rice to Eat

The title is a wonderful Filipino phrase for when a young person says something betraying a lack of maturity. As I have some completely vegan "red meat" for the denier and lukewarmer community, I felt I might borrow it.

This is from 2012, and Australia (land of Caaaaaahbon Dioxode) -- but I think you can update it mentally:

But johngalt thinks:

The previous president had Climate Change second only to Civil Rights as a priority issue. The new president has made an adjustment. Now it's somewhere lower than number 6.

Posted by: johngalt at January 25, 2017 7:59 PM


To paraphrase an old WSJ cartoon: "Thanks God I lived long enough to see Dow 20000!"

UPDATE: Insty would add. . . PAUL KRUGMAN ON ELECTION NIGHT: "If the question is when markets will recover, a first-pass answer is never."

Two Steps Forward, One Back

Bully for the President! Approving Keystone XL and Dakota Pipelines. Way to go.

The WSJ Ed Page -- like me -- is quite enthusiastic. The rule of law was truly subverted on both of these to appease the environmentalist left.

Such carve outs for progressive constituencies are one reason voters rejected Democrats in November, and the pipelines promise broader prosperity. Keystone is predicted to spin off 20,000 construction and manufacturing jobs, many of them to be filled by union workers, and add $3 billion to GDP. The pipeline could move 830,000 barrels a day along the route from Alberta to Nebraska; up to 100,000 would come from North Dakota, where a glut of crude has to travel by rail to reach refineries built to process it. The efficiencies will ripple across the oil and gas industry.

Pretty awesome huh? Boy, we sure like the cut of that Trump fellow's jib. Oh. Wait...
One danger here is President Trump's campaign promise to "renegotiate some of the terms" that included bromides about how "we'll build our own pipes, like we used to in the old days." He floated royalty payments during the campaign, and a separate order on Tuesday directed the Commerce Department to develop a plan to use U.S. steel and iron in all new pipelines. TransCanada has said in past months that it's "fully committed" to Keystone XL, but the company may not be eager for another politician to direct its investment decisions.

Ah yes, the good old days when we built our own pipes. Wow -- America was really great back then. I'm going back to bed -- call me on my mobile if you need anything...

But jk thinks:

Perhaps. The WSJ Editorial Board has suggested that President Trump offers business a bargain: I'm going to lower your taxes and keep government regulators off your back; you're going to let me browbeat you and bias your investments toward domestic production.

As a great blue-eyed economist once said "That ain't love. But it will have to do until the real thing comes along." Much as I love trade, that's likely a better bargain than they saw over the previous eight years,

Posted by: jk at January 25, 2017 4:49 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I'm actually hopeful that Trump is more saavy than all of the principled free-market advocates realize. Yes, he is distorting markets with his browbeating. But perhaps he is doing it as a countermeasure against foreign currency manipulation. There is a direct way to counter such manipulation, which is "by far, the world’s most protectionist international economic policy in the 21st century" and there are indirect ways. Perhaps President Trump is engaging in one of these. Among other things, the browbeating has the advantages that it can be done quickly, by executive action, and it is not an obvious countermeasure to something else. It just looks like unbridled populism. It is that, of course, but a principled executive knows how far to take it before backing off.

We have admitted that Trump is smarter than most critics assume, haven't we?

Posted by: johngalt at January 25, 2017 7:13 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Dagny told me I'm a hopeless, rationalizing, optimist.


Posted by: johngalt at January 26, 2017 1:40 PM
But dagny thinks:

And he thinks the Rockies are going to be good this year.

Posted by: dagny at January 26, 2017 1:57 PM
But jk thinks:

I was going to comment on your optimism, but I would never have gone so far as Sister Dagny (though the brave black and purple are not without talent...)

On a serious note, optimism is good and I must admit that -- so far -- more of your rosy scenarios have materialized than my dark dystopian visions. But it is Day Four; I hope you'll be willing to hold him accountable.

And yes, he is well served by the compete insanity of his critics. Holy Cow, those people have left the rational plane. But they can be bonkers and he can still be wrong.

And the bullpen. Some steps up, but enough?

Posted by: jk at January 26, 2017 3:28 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes, I'll hold him accountable. I probably won't march on the capitol or cut off any parts of my anatomy, but I'll always be willing to condemn bad acts.

I haven't been following the Rox off-season moves but I did hear about the once great Royals reliever who's coming off some surgery or another. But a sports radio jock I know is predicting Rocktober already!

Hope springs eternal - if not this year, then next. Or the year after that. ;)

Posted by: johngalt at January 26, 2017 4:17 PM

January 24, 2017

That Responsible Media We DIscussed



But johngalt thinks:

"The World According to DP"

Posted by: johngalt at January 24, 2017 4:19 PM

But Betsy DeVos Capitalized "Inauguration."

She is obviously unfit to take the helm of such a well-oiled machine as the United States Department of Education.

The $7 billion school improvement grant program: Greatest failure in the history of the US Department of Education?

The final IES report on the School Improvement Grant program is devastating to Arne Duncan's and the Obama administration's education legacy. A major evaluation commissioned by the U.S. Department of Education and conducted by two highly respected research institutions delivered a crushing verdict: The program failed and failed badly. (The Washington Post's article by Emma Brown does an exceptional job recounting the administration's $7 billion folly.)

But johngalt thinks:

$7 billion spread amongst "5000 failing schools" only amounts to $1.4 million each. The obvious explanation is that, like the Stimulus, it wasn't big enough.

Posted by: johngalt at January 24, 2017 1:40 PM

January 23, 2017

Sekurterry of Edukashun

It was a tough weekend to be on Facebook. I guess I should salute my friends with their signs and knitted hats. I don't get it, but they dug it. And one must admit it was impressive both for turnout and paucity of complete destruction. Yes, I've seen pictures of trash. But we have a #patriarchy to clean up for them.

Then, this jewel from Defend NJ Education's Facebook page:


I'll leave it to the even more pedantic to comment on grammar if they so choose. I don't see a fatal error in the original and wonder if they wish every tweet of theirs to be held to a similar standard.

But -- and brace yourself for a vigorous Trump defense -- what these people miss is the comparison to the status quo ante. I want to answer almost every criticism of President Trump's appointments with "And the guys before were doing such a bang-up job..." That, to try and tie this post together, is my rejoinder to the marchers. So, last Thursday, everything was fine? Last month? Last year?

It seems the no doubt highly educated, experienced, and undoubted grammar wiz whom DeVos seeks to replace shut down a large segment of educational facilities with false data. There is undisputed misfeasance and several signs of malfeasance. I'm going to extensively excerpt (SPLIT INFINITIVE -- should be "to excerpt extensively" says the New Defense of Jersey Educational Alliance) to circumvent Rupert's paywall. "Hear the People Sing!"

In early January the department disclosed that it had discovered a "coding error" that incorrectly computed College Scorecard repayment rates--that is, the percentage of borrowers who haven't defaulted and have repaid at least one dollar of their loan principal. The department says the error "led to the undercounting of some borrowers who had not reduced their loan balances by at least one dollar."

The department played down the mistake, but the new average three-year repayment rate has declined by 20 percentage points to 46%. This is huge. It means that fewer than half of undergraduate borrowers at the average college are paying down their debt.

Yeah, jk, it's government accounting. Whaddya expect?

Well, they introduced a new rule that institutions below the magic 50% number were predatory fraudsters.

The other scandal is that the Obama Administration used the inflated Scorecard repayment data as a pretext to single out for-profit colleges for punitive regulation. The punishment was tucked into a rule finalized in October allowing borrowers who claim their college defrauded them to discharge their debt. It requires for-profits in which 50% or fewer borrowers are paying down their principal to post the equivalent of a surgeon general's warning in all promotional materials

Several large for-profit institutions closed down. But, had they practiced honest accounting:
If the regulation were applied evenly, a large number of nonprofit and public institutions would fail to meet the standard. But then the justification for the department's selective regulation of for-profits would vanish.

The department finalized the regulation in October anyway, perhaps anticipating a Hillary Clinton victory that would allow the repayment inflation game to keep going. Yet now it's taking credit for discovering and fixing the Scorecard error that likely would have been uncovered by the new Trump Administration.

But Sec.-nominee DeVos capitalized "Inauguration."

UPDATE (Chaser): Why We Need School Choice: "Obama Administration Spent Billions To Fix Failing Schools, And It Didn't Work"

Education Posted by John Kranz at 10:42 AM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

Stunning. I had not read this. Thanks for promoting the story about the cronyist attack on for-profit colleges, to the benefit and protection of the "large number of nonprofit and public institutions" that were covered up for.

Yes, I ended a sentence with a preposition. Suck it!

Posted by: johngalt at January 23, 2017 1:02 PM
But jk thinks:

You'll never be Secretary of Education if you don't learn English good.

Posted by: jk at January 23, 2017 1:37 PM

January 22, 2017

Speaking of Bastiat

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 7:03 PM | What do you think? [0]

Review Corner

Let the English be as powerful and skilful as they are represented, let them be possessed of as large an amount of capital, and have as great a command of the two great agents of production, iron and fuel, as they are supposed to have; all this simply means cheapness. And who gains by the cheapness of products? The man who buys them.
It was sheer coincidence (unless one believes in an economic Holy Spirit) that I was in the middle of Frédéric Bastiat's Economic Sophisms for Inauguration week. But the timeless timeliness is arresting.

Several Sophisms are discussed, but the main thesis of the book is protectionism and distortionary economic regulation.

If we should find in France a gold mine, it does not follow that it would be for our interest to work it. Nay, it is certain that the enterprise would be neglected if each ounce of gold absorbed more of our labour than an ounce of gold purchased abroad with cloth. In this case we should do better to find our mines in our workshops. And what is true of gold is true of iron.

I blather on about "The Law" but I confess I did not know this book existed until a couple of weeks ago. The site which recommended it included a comment claiming that Bastiat is overrated as an Economic Theorist. True, he did not substantially advance theory; most of his ideas can be traced to earlier thinkers.

But the ideas were obscure. And, as many of them can be counter-intuitive, it was important that they be dispersed and explained. Exposition is M. Bastiat's gift, and it gives his writings value today (well, metaphorically: Kendle versions are available for $0.99 and 1.99, and the text is on the EconLib site for free). His greatest stylistic device was the reductio ad absurdum. Suggesting that The Candlemakers' Guild propose to ban the Sun, or that trains require a discontinuous stop at every town to promote employment shows the flaws in more reasonable but similar restrictions.

"Sophisms" adds to this with the labor-supporting suggestion that all labor in France is to be done with only left hand. He details a fictional battle 20 years hence, when "Dexterities" suggest repeal:

We think that already we hear the free Dexterities, assembled in the Salle Montesquieu, holding this language:-- "Good people, you think yourselves richer because the use of one of your hands has been denied you; you take account only of the additional employment which that brings you. But consider also the high prices which result from it, and the forced diminution of consumption. That measure has not made capital more abundant, and capital is the fund from which wages are paid"
The streams which flow from that great reservoir are directed towards other channels; but their volume is not enlarged; and the ultimate effect, as far as the nation at large is concerned, is the loss of all that wealth which millions of right hands could produce, compared with what is now produced by an equal number of left hands."

Fortunately, Sire, an association has been formed in defence of left-hand labour, and the Sinistristes will have no difficulty in demolishing all these generalities, suppositions, abstractions, reveries, and utopias.

While the bulk of the book could be laid at the feet of President Trump for his penchant for protectionism, the Right vs. Left Hand debate reminds me of repealing Obamacare. Yes, some segment will be harmed by reintroducing some liberty,
It will be understood that I am speaking here of general effects, not of the temporary inconvenience which is always caused by the transition from a bad system to a good one. A momentary derangement accompanies necessarily all progress. This may be a reason for making the transition gently and gradually. It is no reason for putting a stop systematically to all progress, still less for misunderstanding it.

Shades of Russ Roberts, from whom I am learning to appreciate legitimate hardships for those truly displaced by trade.

Like "The Law," it is a joy from cover to cover. One is tempted to highlight every paragraph. Where to stop?

Is there a state apart from the people? is there a human foresight apart from humanity? Archimedes might repeat every day of his life, "With a fulcrum and lever I can move the world;" but he never did move it, for want of a fulcrum and lever. The lever of the state is the nation; and nothing can be more foolish than to found so many hopes upon the state, which is simply to take for granted the existence of collective science and foresight, after having set out with the assumption of individual imbecility and improvidence.

Cinq stars. Magnifique!

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 12:08 PM | What do you think? [0]

Music input

One of the things I like at the PowerLine blog is their side interests. Scott regularly posts on English football (Everton, I think), John Hinderocker covers the beauty pageant cycle with an artists' eye, and of course Dr. Hawyard's personal accounts of his tours through the fever-crazed swamps of academia and collection of memes never disappoint.

His latest entry is a fascinating take on Suzy Bogguss. She sounds like a true American treasure. Don't know if this is JK's taste, but thought I would share.

PL's a great site, but the WordPress plug-ins are amongst the worst in the industry (they've recently taken to pinging my kindle with a fake virus attack warning)... any advice on how do I quiet those down?

Music Posted by nanobrewer at 10:16 AM | What do you think? [4]
But jk thinks:

I wonder if people complain enough to sites like that. I read them A LOT less for their aggressive scripting.

I once installed Firefox (I use Chrome and IE) just to visit Creepy sites. I set it on high security and never accessed an important password protected site. That helped some. Now, with Win10 and a new Edge installation it does not see too bad.

The other one, which surprises me more, is National Review. They are collecting money fro a ground-up rewrite and I am hoping it includes different funding or rules on ads.

Greedy capitalists! Just looking at the bottom-line and not the suffering of their user community.

Posted by: jk at January 22, 2017 1:09 PM
But jk thinks:

As to Ms. Bogguss, you cannot go wrong doing an album of Merle Haggard tunes. Loved what I heard.

Posted by: jk at January 22, 2017 1:33 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

Yes, NRO is bad, as is Weekly Standard - ah well, I need more RAM for a game I'd like to play :-) Glad you liked what you heard!

Posted by: nanobrewer at January 22, 2017 11:08 PM
But jk thinks:

Damned Conservatives!

Posted by: jk at January 23, 2017 12:17 PM



I’m a libertarian. I’ve been surrounded by people who don’t agree with me for as long as I can remember and it has never occurred to me to isolate myself from everyone because of our political differences. Certainly not to assault them. Nor am I filled with anxiety by the thought that people who work in my home might have different political views than mine. To me, you’re all a bunch of fascists. But I’ve somehow learned to live with you.
watching people unravel over this election has been instructive. The - yes, I’m going to say it - bigotry of many on the left, in their caricaturing of Trump supporters, has never before been so blatant. Nor has the jaw-dropping, mass-hypnosis level of selective partisan-driven outrage. I understand that a lot of people are worried, upset, even frightened over the prospect of a Trump presidency. Good. They should be. But they should have been worried eight years ago, or at the very least, four years ago.

He goes on to mark the low points of the last 8 years, especially the end of the 4th Ammendment

Did I mention he - and all future presidents - now has the legal right to kill anyone on the planet, including American citizens, with no conviction, no charges, no semblance of due process at all. Did I mention that?
- Bretigne Shaffer

But jk thinks:

I tripped over that somewhere as well -- cannot remember where. Thanks for posting.

I have vowed not to question my pussy-hatted friends about their big march yesterday. It brought them much joy. But, high on the list of "**** I don't understand" is "...and everything was just fine for you until 1/20/2017?"

Posted by: jk at January 22, 2017 1:12 PM

January 21, 2017

The Inaugural Address

I enjoyed the quote jg posted yesterday. And the reviews were generally good except from sources expectedly unsympathetic. People laughed at Kellyanne Conway's dress; I found it rather cute.

But. We have to talk. I watched it on YouTube last night (I was busy at work, not boycotting) and I cannot think of a nice thing to say. I lost all the goodwill and optimism I had accrued from some of his pleasing cabinet picks.

It was bad in tone, style and substance. There was that (one) great line about taking power from Washington to give to the people. But the rest of his speech was how he was going to use his power to run the economy and the world.

And, I know his pugilism is held in high regard by his devotees, but it was uncalled for. The inauguration has been called our national quadrennial religious service. I watch it every four years and usually weep with pride. He sullied it by ripping into his political opponents, many of whom showed grace and courage by attending.

The boycotters look prescient. It will be a very long four years.

But nanobrewer thinks:

I don't have much regard for Trump's speeches, nor him in general. I loved the money quote of returning power to the great unwashed, and there was another about America as a symbol. I was unnerved by the whole 'America 1st' bit. Yes, one should strive and believe in it, but should one really have to say it so?

This will be an interminable 4 years if you take him literally. I'm most interested in how Pompeo handles CIA and the general bog remediation.

Posted by: nanobrewer at January 22, 2017 1:52 AM
But nanobrewer thinks:

His latest tweet (I'm considering a collection nof the good ones, since I know my FB feed will regularly feature the bad ones) shows that he should not be taken literally, and that he - unlike those on the Left (or in the media) - genuinely cares about the great unwashed:

"Great to meet one of my earliest and most dedicated supporters! I am deeply humbled by the faith that millions of Americans have placed in me and our movement - and to those who did not support me, I ask for the chance to be your President too as we make America great again together."
The supporter in question is Shawn Bouvet, who reportedly got a $10,000 check from ... Trump, I guess, for his father's chemo. More than BHO ever gave his brother....

Posted by: nanobrewer at January 22, 2017 10:33 AM
But johngalt thinks:

As I watched the address live on C-Span I found it inspiring. I had one regret - that while he said "America First" he didn't also say "when America prospers, the entire free world benefits."

Then I read the transcript, linked in my Inauguration Day "Otequay" and found that he did say as much, and almost in as many words:

We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world – but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first.

We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example for everyone to follow.

Quite the libertarian campaign plank, no? At least the second paragraph. But the first paragraph is pure Rand - rational self-interest. Only an altruist should object.

Posted by: johngalt at January 23, 2017 4:30 PM
But johngalt thinks:

You said we have to talk. I love to talk! You also said you cannot think of a nice thing to say, but then you called the line about taking power from Washington to give it to the people "great."

But that is trifling. The Big Picture theme of your critique was the tone. It's interesting that you painted the inauguration as a "national religious service" because Don Surber, who called the speech "magnificent" cited a Matt Drudge report that "this inauguration featured more prayer than any past one." Then added his own observation that "We need God more than ever before, because we are in danger of losing our republic."

I never thought a new president could top JFK in 1961. Reagan came the closest in his two tries.

The Donald just did.

God blessed America when He gave President Trump that final nudge to run.

And now he is trampling out the vintage, where the grapes of wrath are stored.

We like to think we are bigger than the religious stuff. We like to think we have evolved. But as I look at the damage inside Americans - drugs, abortion, and hate - I realize we devolved.

This thrice married, nearly bankrupted, loud, and occasionally crude man is a gift from God. President Trump is far from perfect.

But we crucified the one perfect man on Earth God sent.

Let us stand behind President Trump not to blindly obey but rather to cheer him when he is right, help him see the light when he isn't, and get back to making America great again.

I don't think you oppose the idea of religiosity as much as I might. What I think sours you is that notion of "wrath." That seems to me where the debate should be centered.

Posted by: johngalt at January 23, 2017 4:55 PM

they haven't lost it, but found it

Their mission, that is.

@JK lamented: In the end we will not get a healthy adversarial press.
I think, grasshopper, we will indeed. It shall merely bare scant resemblance to the BBCBS, and ABCNN's of the day.

See here, where Ms. Mackenzie notes

the media finds itself: [like a headless chicken] half-brained, blind, but still flailing around. It’s not quite alive and certainly not useful, but it’s not dead either.
She then quotes at length from an article that is probably more harbinger than outlier, from Politico's Jack Shafer.

In his own way, Trump has set us free. Reporters must treat Inauguration Day as a kind of Liberation Day to explore news outside the usual Washington circles.
Hmm, Mr. Shafer, whom has kept you captive?

So, forget about the White House press room. It’s time to circle behind enemy lines.
If he's the enemy; who are your friends?

Washington reporting has long depended on a transactional relationship between sources and journalists. Journalists groom sources, but sources also groom journalists. There’s nothing inherently unethical about the back-scratching.
Why, yes, there is in any normal situation. Sources merely should want the truth out. Lastly, the slightly scary bit:

As Trump shuts down White House access to reporters, they will infest the departments and agencies around town that the president has peeved. The intelligence establishment, which Trump has deprecated over the issue of Russian hacking, owes him no favors and less respect. It will be in their institutional interest to leak damaging material on Trump. The same applies to other bureaucracies.
Luckily for all of us, they already overplayed a band hand or two. I can think of a juicy target now the EPA was recently tagged as scofflaw:

EPA was in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 7621, § 321(a) of the Clean Air Act, which requires the agency to “conduct continuing evaluations of potential loss or shifts of employment which may result from the administration or enforcement of the provision of [the Clean Air Act]

The key, I think, will be decisive action: Mackenzie simply opines

Donald Trump will hopefully keep on keeping on.
but the comments section has some more blunt and effective suggestions.

So, while it's near impossible to fire far too many Federal employees; it's not any where required that they keep the position in swanky digs just off Dupont Circle. Relocate their 'position' (or whole departments) to E. St. Louis, for instance!

But johngalt thinks:

Trump has indeed declared war on the Administrative State. Let us hope (and encourage) that he has a blood-lust to win the fight he has picked.

Nice post nb.

Posted by: johngalt at January 21, 2017 12:03 PM

January 20, 2017

Otequay of the Ayday - Presidential Inaugural Edition

We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world, but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first. We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example. We will shine for everyone to follow. We will reinforce old alliances and form new ones, and unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the Earth. At the bedrock of our politics will be a total allegiance to the United States of America, and through our loyalty to our country, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other. When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice. - President Trump's Inaugural Address
But nanobrewer thinks:

Here's my money quote:

Today's ceremony, however, has very special meaning. Because today we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another, or from one party to another -- but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the American People.

Posted by: nanobrewer at January 21, 2017 12:11 AM
But nanobrewer thinks:

Anybody know how long it was? I'd like to compare it to Obam-UH's inaugural. I did verify this: he said "I" only thrice.


Posted by: nanobrewer at January 21, 2017 12:14 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I heard it timed at twenty minutes, then later someone said it was only sixteen.

You're right to point out that he said "I" only three times. He said "we" however, 45 times.

I find this particularly significant because commentator Mara Liasson, on NPR before the speech, suggested that we listen for this detail because Trump was all about "I" during the campaign. She probably heard me yelling at her through the radio, "Did you ever notice how much the sitting president talks about himself? The Narcissist in Chief?"

Posted by: johngalt at January 21, 2017 12:07 PM

Bizarro World

First: a sincere congrats to the brave persons who supported Trump through victory. I am awfully glad that we are not inaugurating Sec. Clinton today.

The title refers to differing press accounts of the transition. The TeeVee news this this morning informed me around seven times in three minutes that President Trump* will be inaugurated "without any of his cabinet picks confirmed." They offered no statistics of other Januaries Twentieth, but the tone indicated it was on the order of "the first to be inaugurated wearing only underwear."

National Review meanwhile, [I will look for link] was aflutter that he had made all of his picks. Again, no comparisons were provided, but it sounded unusual.

Whom to believe? Well, Kimberly Strassel of course! The ThreeSources fave spikes the football that Sen. Chuck Schumer (Eats Detergent - NY) was going 0-8 on blocking them.

Perhaps the warning sign was that actual sign--the poster board that stood beside Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi Jan. 4. "Make America Sick Again," it blared. Democrats had intended to mock Donald Trump. Instead, some neglectful aide had made the incriminating text about Republicans on the sign too small for the cameras. Twitter had a field day, circulating a photo of the nation's top two Democrats trumpeting their wish of ill health on the nation.

And she does compare:
It's a modern Washington principle that opposition parties get to claim at least one nomination scalp. George H.W. Bush lost defense nominee John Tower Bill Clinton lost his first two choices for attorney general, Zoe Baird and Kimba Wood George W. Bush lost Linda Chavez as Labor Secretary. Barack Obama lost Bill Richardson, Judd Gregg and Tom Daschle.

I lived through "Bush Derangement Syndrome." Mutatis mutandis trumpus, I don't think it will be any healthier.

* first typing

But johngalt thinks:

I enjoyed "liking" numerous Tweets from world leaders congratulating President Trump.

Posted by: johngalt at January 20, 2017 5:11 PM

January 19, 2017

The Government Dime

Amanda Macias at Business Insider implies that eight-odd million dollars is too much to pay for two bomber sorties to North Africa to wipe out 80 ISIS murderers. She called the cost "colossal."

But it got me to thinking - what else can government get for eight to sixteen million dollars? Without much effort, I found something comparable. Obama vacation to Hawaii, Africa cost taxpayers nearly $16 million.

And besides, Ms. Macias, it is President Obama's last full day in office. Don't you think the media has beat him up enough over the past eight years? Can't you cut him a little slack? Or even give him credit for working hard the entire time he's on the clock? For shame.

Just Wow.

Soviet Iconography Much?


High-rez -- to print your own!

But jk thinks:

Back and forth on whether to post this on Facebook. I do have a lot of friends participating, and they are not responsible for every goofy-ass SJW artist.

But . . .

Posted by: jk at January 19, 2017 3:46 PM
But johngalt thinks:

No se hicimos.

Posted by: johngalt at January 19, 2017 4:54 PM

January 18, 2017

top 10 list

I want help from clever TS'ers. I want to post a top 10 list about the Trump presidency on FB. I want to keep the tone I've maintained to date: conservative, practical and with a dose of humor, wit when I can manage (but my wit usually doesn't scale). In that vein, I humbly submit, for your approbation or critique.

{cue: drumroll}

The Top 10 Best Things about a Trump Presidency

10. Dissent will become patriotic suddenly
9. Best looking 1st lady since... well, Michelle Obama
7. Deficit spending and government debt will be reported as bad, finally
8. James O'Keefe can start a family*
6. Best looking 1st family, ever
5. Media will surprisingly discover U6 or "real" unemployment!
4. Stories will once again become widespread about the homeless, shockingly! some are vets.
3. We can all blow raspberries at anyone claiming "but the polls say...."
2. The media will again discover its mission to cover the government, instead of cover for the government.

Sarcasm is encouraged; snark discouraged.... did I miss anything glaring or good? Italicized items are to accentuate how these ongoing problems are only newsworthy when a Republican sits at 1600 Penn Ave.

* A friend suggested that "O'Keefe's untimely suicide has been rescheduled" would be more effective.

Posted by nanobrewer at 11:52 PM | What do you think? [5]
But johngalt thinks:


Here's the first topic I've thought of:

#. An actual federal budget.
#. Budget cuts that actually shrink spending, not just reduce growth.
#. Media lamentations over Trumpian "austerity."

Inspiration: Trump looking to cut budget by 10%, slash 20% from federal workforce

Posted by: johngalt at January 19, 2017 11:57 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I would put the adverbs ahead of their verbs, i.e., "Dissent will suddenly become patriotic."

A spin off from your thing number 7-

Tax cuts will be reported as "deficit spending."

It also looks like you forgot to mention the newfound focus on racial tensions that is sure to emerge from hibernation.

Posted by: johngalt at January 19, 2017 3:00 PM
But jk thinks:

I had high hopes for #2: The media will again discover its mission to cover the government, instead of cover for the government." Professor Consort Reynolds of Knoxville highlighted this early on.

But those hopes are being dashed at no real fault of the President-Elect. The media is going so incredibly, amazingly, irrationally insane (adverbs first!) we are not going to see the benefit. They're going to print mad nonsense like "The Dossier" and the Administration will expel them. In the end we will not get a healthy adversarial press.

Which is too bad.

Posted by: jk at January 19, 2017 3:53 PM
But johngalt thinks:

It's early. They're still in shock and denial. Give them time to put on their pajamas and sip cocoa. Something better might eventually come from their keyboards.

Posted by: johngalt at January 19, 2017 4:58 PM
But jk thinks:

Perhaps. But an inauspicious start:

New York Times Publishes Fake News About Rick Perry & DOE

Posted by: jk at January 19, 2017 6:01 PM


For any non-software geeks that read these pages ( a small set), the title means "not equal."

Oxfam has released a new report which is generating much buzz. Sit down and have a drink of water before reading the intro:

New estimates show that just eight men own the same wealth as the poorest half of the world. As growth benefits the richest, the rest of society -- especially the poorest -- suffers. The very design of our economies and the principles of our economics have taken us to this extreme, unsustainable and unjust point. Our economy must stop excessively rewarding those at the top and start working for all people. Accountable and visionary governments, businesses that work in the interests of workers and producers, a valued environment, women's rights and a strong system of fair taxation, are central to this more human economy.

Or, as it is being reported: "EIGHT PEOPLE AS RICH AS HALF THE WORLD! "

The Internet taketh away, but ith giveth thoo. There are two superb rebuttals today. First is ThreeSources fave Bjorn Lomborg's USA Editorial: Oxfam's Upside Down Inequality Study.

Oxfam measures net wealth, not income. Crucially, it includes 'negative' wealth, meaning the 5% of Americans with student loans or negative equity in their houses are considered among the world's poorest -- poorer than three-quarters of all Africans. This means that even the most impoverished soul you could imagine -- a day laborer from Zimbabwe with nothing but a comb to his name -- in Oxfam's eyes is richer than the poorest 45% of the world's population. Oxfam's data also leaves out any entitlements to pensions and entirely ignores the huge assets owned by the state.

The real story on inequality is a much more optimistic one than Oxfam's narrative.

"Real stories," however always are far less supportive of grand solutions like Oxfam's "let's divide up all the wealth equally and everybody will have $8,000." Take that, Warren Buffet! Take that, Bill Gates!

That is how Tim Worstall sees it in his piece in FEE (well, not the "Take that" parts -- those are mine).

As it's Davos time, Oxfam has issued its traditional demand for a handout. Their wealth report this year informs us that a mere eight people have more wealth than the bottom 50 per cent of the world's population. This is entirely true of course. But Oxfam's solution is that we should take it from the rich and give it to the poor. Which is entirely wrong.

Our essential economic problem is that there are not enough rich people. Nor is their extreme wealth a problem. Our problem is poverty, not inequality.

Again, not supporting Oxfam's designs...

But johngalt thinks:

Okay scarecrow, let's suppose we give everyone their $8000 right now. Set aside for the moment what this does to job growth and economic investment - what about those student loans? Those jokers are still broke.

Wipe that out first, you say? Make the "everyone is equally wealthy [poor]" calculation from a clean slate? Sorry, that debt is what is in the plus column of all those you aim to loot.

Posted by: johngalt at January 18, 2017 1:55 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Forbes' Tim Worstall explains the situation thusly:

Fully 30% of the world's poorest people when measured by wealth are actually in the rich countries of Europe and North America. This is because these are the parts of the world where it is possible for people with no assets to borrow money.

In other words, they have leveraged their own future wealth. Maybe the answer is to just, stop allowing that. No more student loans. No more cars on credit. No more "nothing down" mortgages. Problem solved!

Posted by: johngalt at January 18, 2017 2:08 PM
But jk thinks:

I dunno sounds like the kind of thinking which does not represent "Accountable and visionary governments, businesses that work in the interests of workers and producers, a valued environment, women's rights and a strong system of fair taxation."

You'll never get a job at Oxfam thing like that.

Posted by: jk at January 18, 2017 3:18 PM

January 17, 2017

So much sagacity, so little time

This election has been difficult at times.

If I haven't said it recently, I fiercely appreciate the blog authors and commentariat. I spend too little time reading old threads. In our near-14 year run it would detract from work and life to relive old posts.

But when the occasion arises, I am always delighted at what I find.

I got an email asking if I would update a link on a post from Jan 11, 2012. The link target has moved onto a new domain and kindly asked if I would repair the link. I was certain it was spam, then a hoax, then a phishing attack, then a virus . . . I carefully typed in some urls and BOOM, their story checks out. Link fixed!

But I cannot lie, I enjoyed OUR FRIEND, THE VULTURE

Thanks for being you, ThreeSourcers!

Trump Revolution, Indeed

I mentioned my skepticism with the category title Trump Revolution. My first comparison was to "Reagan Revolution" and Peggy Noonan's still-awesome-after-all-these-years book What I Saw at the Revolution. While cautiously hopeful, I am not fond of the comparison between 40 - 45. Reading Reagan's GE speeches and early columns, he had a deep devotion to political philosophy and policy. I think it fair to say I find that wanting in the President-Elect.

But there was also the French Revolution: great upheaval with mixed changes both positive and negative. So, I am onboard and hoping the guillotines stay locked in the cellar of the Bastille.

I say this to actually introduce two overwhelmingly positive stories in the continuing wonder of some of his superb personnel picks. But my optimism will always be cautious. Now to the nice part:

-- Betsy DeVos! Every day I like that pick more. By her enemies and friends shall ye know her, and Sen. Bob Casey's enmity is an asset in my world. Harvey Silverglate [Review Corner] takes him to task for attacking her contributions to FIRE.

Civil-liberties advocates have long defended free speech and fair procedures. Often that means standing up for the rights of people who hold odious views or have committed grave crimes, including sexual assault. Those whose views are merely unpopular, and the innocent who are wrongly accused, depend on the same protections.

If confirmed, Mrs. DeVos will have the opportunity to improve the climate for fairness and accuracy in campus judiciaries at universities that have obliterated due process for fear of losing millions in federal aid--to make American higher education free and fair again.

-- And Mitch's wife might kill the train to nowhere.

The Obama Administration gave California $3.2 billion to build the 500-mile bullet train from San Francisco to Anaheim, which seven years later still isn't shovel ready. The $10 billion in state bonds that voters approved in 2008 for the $64 billion (and counting) train have been tied up in litigation. Meanwhile, Democratic legislators have been loath to appropriate funds beyond a fraction of the revenues generated by California’s cap-and-trade program, which is also under legal challenge.

So the Obama Administration has repeatedly eased the spending and construction deadlines in federal grant agreements. Last year the White House provided a cash advance rather than require the railroad authority to match federal funds dollar for dollar.

Yet according to the FRA document, the rail authority still won’t meet its June deadline for spending stimulus funds.

Liberté, Egalité, Non Choo-choo.

UPDATE: I knew there was a third great Trump Cabinet pick, but I just couldn't remember...


Cheap shot -- Perry is an awesome pick.

But johngalt thinks:

I was indeed thinking more "Do You Hear The People Sing" revolution than trying to compare the former Democrat, reality television star Trump with the former Democrat, B-movie actor Reagan. Sorry if I rankled inadvertently. In my defense, while Reagan was certainly more schooled in the principles of liberty, Trump may prove to be more successful in implementing them.

As for the California Train to Nowhere, Randall O'Toole penned articles on the three reasons why people don't ride transit. Enjoy at your leisure.

Posted by: johngalt at January 17, 2017 2:45 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

I will never compare the Apprentice-Boss to The Great Communicator, but I did find this this article hopeful. Key quote being:

“Tariffs do have a useful role in correcting inappropriate practices,” Ross testified. But he also said he’s “keenly aware” of the damage caused by the Smoot-Hawley tariffs in the 1930s, which were meant to stimulate US production but ended up making the Great Depression worse. “That kind of approach didn’t work very well, and it very likely wouldn’t work very well now,” Ross said. That view will be a relief to many economists and business leaders worried that Trump will ignite trade wars and do more harm than good to the US economy.

Posted by: nanobrewer at January 18, 2017 10:04 PM

Quote of the Day

ADDENDA: You might think the Clintons would keep the Clinton Global Initiative going for another year, just to dispel the perception that it was a backdoor way for wealthy foreign citizens and foreign governments to buy access and goodwill. You would be wrong. -- Jim Geraghty
But johngalt thinks:

My dad made another observation: Closing the foundation allows any and all records to be destroyed - something that the New York State Attorney General has loudly and publicly prevented in the case of the Trump Foundation.

Posted by: johngalt at January 17, 2017 2:25 PM
But jk thinks:

Suddenly, nobody cares about AIDS, or children's education, or Haiti, or earthquake relief. What was it James Carville shouted "People are going to die!"

Shame the Clintons will allow all this heartache and misery to proceed unabated because she lost a silly election.

Posted by: jk at January 17, 2017 4:04 PM

January 16, 2017

Otequay of the Ayday

Look, I don't care if the Trump fan-bots rail against me, Trump is an unreliable chap, to put it mildly. He doesn't know what he doesn't know and he throws away his promises too easily and a lot of his instincts are leftist in the worst way. Everything he's done so far could be scuttled on the rock of his personality.

But that hasn't happened yet and every day is another day. And today, after eight years of a dishonest, undemocratic, anti-American scold in the White House, I am feeling gleeful. Almost pretty. Okay, gleeful.

Andrew Klavan - 'My Strange Trumpian Glee'

Quote of the Day

Meanwhile, in a nine-page questionnaire to Ben Carson, who is being sent to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Elizabeth Warren wanted to learn what the doctor thought about "C0 2 and other greenhouse gas emissions," because extreme weather like flooding poses "a significant risk to public housing."

"What other actions will you take to adapt to or prevent climate change while you are HUD Secretary?" Ms. Warren wondered. Maybe Dr. Carson's tenure will be the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and the planet began to heal. -- WSJ Ed Page

But johngalt thinks:

I thought that moment had already, famously, occurred - in 1998.

Posted by: johngalt at January 16, 2017 4:04 PM
But johngalt thinks:

And as President Obama leaves office, the crises of extreme weather and sea level rise are also well under control.

Posted by: johngalt at January 16, 2017 4:06 PM

January 15, 2017

Review Corner

Now, I don't have a view either way on where the price of gold is going next, but it's pretty clear that this tweet is absurd, and thinking about how money needs to be a good unit of account tells us why. If Rickards wants to buy a hamburger, or a suit, or a car, he'll find that the dollar hasn't been volatile at all: the prices of these things have changed slowly when measured in dollars. They have gyrated wildly when measured in ounces of gold-- which is why gold is not money, at least not at the moment. It may be a good investment or a bad investment, but that's a different question.
Tim Harford's Messy [Review Corner] continues to intrigue me. I've bored a dozen people with the Keith Jarret story, and recommended it to a few who actually bought and read it. I think of it pretty constantly and retroactively bestow an Editor's Choice Award. [Insert VP Biden Presidential Medal of Freedom joke here if so inclined - ed]

I clicked on a Kindle recommendation button to purchase his The Undercover Economist Strikes Back: How to Run--or Ruin--an Economy and enjoyed it if not quite as much as Messy.

In Strikes Back, Harford makes you, the reader, king of economic and fiscal policy, right in the first chapter. He then answers your questions and gives you guidance -- but it is always advice, your decisions are in the end your own.

If the introductory quote rubbed your Ron-Paul, gold-bug beliefs roughly, you're going to be challenged in the first section. He provides a gasp! defense of Keynesian Monetary Policy which sounds quite like all the arguments I have made on the topic, except cogently stated and perfectly spelled.

It is a splendidly succinct view of money and monetary policy. That alone makes the book truly worth the price and time. He provides the three functions of Money. Now, I happen to know the three functions of money from John Considine's Homer Economicus: The Simpsons and Economics. [Review Corner], where the author answers the question "Could Milhous actually become money in the juvenile hall?"

One of these is a "unit of account." I recall Milhous faired pretty poorly on this. Bitcoin, and gold to Harford's thinking, do not fare better.

In a more recent example, Nico Colchester, a journalist at the Financial Times, pointed out that the Mars Bar was a fantastically stable unit of account-- a veritable ingot of milk, sugar and cocoa. Colchester showed that all sorts of prices had stayed stable over the decades, provided that the Mars Bar was used as the unit of account.

The style of advice/Q&A allows Harford to humorously use the economist's vice of always presenting "...on the other hand.." (President Truman quipped that he was looking for a one-handed economist.)
Let me recap, then. In Chapter 2, you told me it's sometimes a good idea to print money. In Chapter 3, you’ve told me it's never a good idea to print too much money. I’m sure you can guess my next question: How much money should I print?

We'll answer that in Chapter 4. But I’ll spoil the surprise now, if you like: the amount of money you should print is just enough.

Harford shares my fear of deflationary shocks. We both would prefer NGDP targeting, but can live under a Bernanke-esque, inflation targeting regime. (He'd up the target from 2 to 4%!) He presents a Classical Economics position that is more Austrian, but not with as much conviction.

The fun parts are his examples from mini-economies. A Washington D.C. group prints script for babysitting services. I watch your little monster and you give me two tokens; Henrietta watches my angels and I pass the script along to her. At first, it was a disaster, because all the participants hoarded script. This was fixed by literally frickken' printing money, making it a favorite story of NYTimes columnist Paul Krugman. But it worked.

Likewise, the cigarette-denominated affairs of a POW Camp in Germany are investigated. The prisoners actually exported some of their Red Cross rations to local restaurants and imported items from guards. (I think Adam Smith was on to something about our desire to trade..) But these microcosms provide real data on the effects of monetary policy.

The question we have to answer is whether more recessions are like babysitting co-op recessions or like POW camp recessions. When we try to understand the economy, should we start with the assumption that it functions smoothly, like the prison camp, but is buffeted by external shocks and hamstrung by policy errors? Or should our starting point be that the economy itself is, like the babysitting co-op, prone to malfunction -- and needs Bill Phillips-style tinkerers to keep it running nicely?

SIDE NOTE: In an adjacent browser window, I am arguing with a great lefty buddy who shared a hagiographic post on Henry Ford's high wages and working hours. That got me in a sharing mood:
let me tell you a story about Henry Ford-- the man who invented unemployment.

Invented unemployment? Don’t you mean factory production lines, or the Model T?

Those, too-- and OK, it's an exaggeration. But it has a kernel of truth. Here's the story. At the start of 1914, Henry Ford, the founder and majority owner of the Ford Motor Company, introduced a new minimum wage of five dollars a day-- more than twice the previous wage-- while reducing the day from nine hours to eight.

Swell. But missing from my friend's was that they rioted to get those jobs and got the fire hoses turned on them in the freezing Detroit winter. Sociologists deemed whether workers were wholesome enough. It's not really a fairy tale. But it was profitable, and we are probably all beneficiaries.

I'll give it 4.75 stars. It's a very good book and a fun, accessible way to grasp some sophisticated economic concepts.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 11:43 AM | What do you think? [0]

January 13, 2017


The obfuscation surrounding Trump's promise to "repeal and replace" Obamacare is thick, and it has only just begun. I read principled friends criticizing the "replace" part of the promise as just another version of government interference in the health care market. I hear left-leaning pundits brag that Obamacare "insured 30 million Americans" who weren't previously covered, and keeping them covered can't be done without all of Obamacare's spending. President Obama has even waded in to the spin game, saying he has no objection to "Obamacare being transformed into Trumpcare."

But according to Hudson Institute Fellow Jeffrey Anderson, the good Republican alternatives to Obamacare are fairly straightforward. The fourth paragraph of the linked article is heavily hyperlinked to references on such alternatives. But I emphasized the adjective "good" above for a reason:

To be sure, there are some Republicans who want to pass an alternative that spends nearly as much (or every bit as much) as Obamacare; that provides direct subsidies to insurance companies instead of tax credits to individuals and families; and that even lets the government "auto-enroll" Americans in insurance they didn't choose, sending taxpayers' money to insurers to cover the bills for these unrequested plans. But a good - and conservative - alternative to Obamacare would cut federal spending by more than $1 trillion, and it would cut taxes even versus the pre-Obamacare status quo.

For example:

1. Repealing Obamacare's direct outlays to insurance companies ($900 billion) and its Medicaid expansion ($1.1 trillion) would save $2 trillion in federal spending over a decade.

2. Repealing Obamacare's "coverage and revenue provisions"—basically its spending and taxes—would reduce deficits by $950 billion on a dynamic basis over a decade ($750 on a static basis).

3. Repealing Obamacare would increase deficits only if its Medicare raid ($1.1 billion) were repealed—whereas even if, say, half of the Medicare raid were stopped, the result would be a $400 billion budgetary surplus ($950 billion from repealing Obamacare's spending and taxes, minus $550 billion from stopping half of Obamacare's Medicare raid).

Anderson's conclusion is quite emphatic:

In sum, repealing and replacing Obamacare with a good conservative alternative would save 13 digits' worth of federal spending. It would also restore liberty and revive a health insurance market that the federal government has ruined.

Making Western Water Great Again

President Trump is not even President yet and he's already inspiring positive change to the drought conditions in the western United States. Almost all of the average precipitation measurements on this map of the west shows readings between 100 percent and 200 percent of normal for the last three months.

Colorado is doing nearly as well as California, as evidenced by the map below. (Source)


Sources found at The Water Report's snowpack research page.

January 12, 2017

Living and Dying at the InstaHome

It would save the trouble of having Helen shoot them. As our daughter told one of her cousins years ago, "If someone broke in, Daddy would shoot them because that's the thing to do. But Mommy would shoot them because she wanted to." -- Insty
Posted by John Kranz at 11:27 PM | What do you think? [0]

dilbert back on track

Scott Adams' has rediscovered his humor bone (he'd had me worried, where humor was missing from his 1st debate review); describing with good humor how our President-of-the-better-deal outflanked his erstwhile critics and "scrambles the frame.

Denying the Hitler branding won't work either. That would just make people debate the details and harden the association by reputation. In the 3rd dimension, where persuasion matters and facts do not, brains recognize "Bob is totally NOT like Hitler" as "Somehow Bob and Hitler are connected." So denying doesn't work. Not even a little. ... there's no solution if you operate in the 2nd dimension. That dimension is out of ammo. But the 3rd dimension is not. A Master Persuader neither ignores nor denies.

He plays offense and scrambles their frame.

But the best humor is - in a heartening twist showing how the Vox Populi are replacing the MSM as arbiters of reality - in the comments section, in brevity I post only the best (apologies in advance for pun panners: it's toxic!!)

ConeJacket -- 13 hours ago
I did nazi that coming

patrickkell ConeJacket -- 10 hours ago
Don't worry, everything will be all reich

Reef Blastbody patrickkell -- 10 hours ago
The press seem to be goebbeling it up.

Timmah Reef Blastbody -- 10 hours ago
And goering up for a response.

MortyTheDestroyer Reef Blastbody -- 10 hours ago
These puns need a final solution.

Clean4Gene MortyTheDestroyer -- 10 hours ago
If these puns are bad, Mein Kampf get any worse.

and the best for last:

Red Bubba Gothwalker -- 9 hours ago
It's a concentration of camp

Posted by nanobrewer at 12:57 AM | What do you think? [2]
But jk thinks:

Heh. In fairness to Adams as well, I think he was one of the first to seriously (well, for him) predict a Trump victory.

I surely did not see it coming.

Posted by: jk at January 12, 2017 10:05 AM
But johngalt thinks:

LOL at comments.

I know Adams lobbied for a Trump victory, at least. And if he was one of the brave and crazy ones who predicted his victory, did he also predict it would be with more than 300 electoral votes? That was me, since I've probably let you forget since November 9th. My bad.

Posted by: johngalt at January 12, 2017 2:12 PM

January 11, 2017

Quote of the Day

Well, yes, celebrities are stupid about policy, often breathtakingly so. On the other hand, so is everyone else. You want to hear some really stupid ideas about policy? Grab a group of whip-smart financial wizards, or neurosurgeons, or nuclear physicists, and sit them down for a nice dinner to debate some policy outside their profession. You will find that they are pretty much just as stupid as anyone else, because policy is not about smart. I mean, smart helps. But policy is fundamentally about domain knowledge, and that knowledge is acquired only by spending a great deal of time thinking about a pretty small set of problems. Funnily enough, this is also how one gets good at finance, or neurosurgery, or nuclear physics. -- Megan McArdle

January 10, 2017

Ominous Foreshadowing of the Devastations of Climate Change

Three prestigious Colorado ski resorts are closed today.

As snow keeps falling along the Continental Divide and in Colorado's mountains... several ski resorts have had to close.

Seems strange, right?

But, it's true. Too much snow has actually made skiing and traveling conditions too dangerous

Save the sermons, I know this proves nothing. And, as a lukewarmer, I have little to prove.

But if they were closed for having no snow, I think the "Ominous Foreshadowing..." stories would be rolling


I'm biting my tongue on the pick of Sen Jeff Sessions for USAG. We disagree on trade, immigration, and self-ownership -- but he is what Candidate Trump promised. Despite the cray-cray from the left, I think him to be fundamentally a good man.

And, I knew going in that a Trump Administration would have some nasty surprises. But. Just. No. Tell me this is not happening.

WASHINGTON--Outspoken vaccine critic Robert Kennedy Jr. has accepted a position within Donald Trump's administration as chair of a panel on vaccine safety and scientific integrity--the clearest sign yet of the president-elect's suspicions about vaccines.

The offer, which came in a Wednesday meeting between Trump and the scion of America's most prominent Democratic family, is likely to concern scientists and public health experts who fear the incoming administration could give legitimacy to skeptics of childhood immunizations, despite a huge body of scientific research demonstrating that vaccines are safe.

Outspoken, Junk Science Loon they meant to say...

But johngalt thinks:

On the other hand."

Saying that he is in favor of vaccines in principle, he [Trump] also explained, "But I want smaller doses over a longer period of time."


But while professing his overall faith in vaccines, [Dr. Ben] Carson did say this: "We are probably giving way too many in too short a period of time…"

Fair and balanced, we are.

Posted by: johngalt at January 10, 2017 5:42 PM
But jk thinks:

A guy who really understood Thucydides would be more careful about dividing his forces, My blog brother and I are tussling over this issue on Facebook.

We should perhaps schedule an argument over the general efficacy and safety of vaccines. In full spoiler alert, I am pretty close to 100% onboard the pointy-head, capital-S Science belief that the dangers are many times outweighed by the benefits.

But that was not really what this post was about. This post is about a green-loony's being given a platform to expound on wacked out conspiracy theories.

If you hold with the esteemed editors of VaccineNews.com (c'mon, you'd make sport of me...) that more research is needed on the total amount of vaccines given and the safety of all vehicles used to preserve and deliver them, okay. Let's look at that.

Buuuuuut, if you think that nuanced thinking and pragmatism is going to come from a panel headed by this guy, then I think you had too much Thimerosal as a child.

Posted by: jk at January 11, 2017 3:09 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Fair, of course. But what if you think that guy gives political cover? Is that a bad thing?

Besides, President Donald has to do a few stupid things or else we'd think his level of perfection to be inhuman. Instead of "NOOOOOOOO!" can we just say, "Swing and a miss for Swamp Drainer in Chief?"

Posted by: johngalt at January 12, 2017 2:37 PM

Hey, You Got Cronyism in my Subprime!

No, you got subprime in my cronyism!

In the what could possibly go wrong files, the WSJ (news pages) reports "America's Fastest-Growing Loan Category Has Eerie Echoes of Subprime Crisis"

Deanna White told a contractor she couldn't afford the $42,200 loan he recommended for improvements to her house in Inglewood, Calif. The contractor, she recalled, said she wouldn’t be on the hook because the loan was part of a "government program." She applied and was approved.

Two years later, Ms. White is struggling to make payments on the loan, which was packaged with more than 10,000 similar loans into bonds and sold to investors. Under its terms, Ms. White's five-bedroom house could be foreclosed on if she defaults.

Her loan is part of a booming corner of the lending industry called Property Assessed Clean Energy, or PACE. Such loans, set up by local governments across the U.S., are designed to encourage homeowners to buy energy-efficient solar panels, window insulation and air-conditioning units.

What could possibly go wrong? Oh wait, I said that.

My Real Problem with Meryl Streep's Speech

Bill McGurn at the WSJ Ed Page nails it:

Say this about her contribution that night: Would anyone even be talking about the Golden Globes today if she hadn’t used the occasion to go after Mr. Trump?

I usually find I can completely ignore award shows. I can scroll past stories and friends' posts on Facebook and go about my business. No, l'Affaire Streep is all-consuming.

I broke down and watched her speech. It's generic, low-level Hollywood pabulum. Because she is the grand Doyenne, it sounds wiser. And most of the people in the room really wanted to hear it. So I will grudgingly accept the left's reaction.

I think "the Right" and most definitely P-E Trump would have done much better to engage in a good eye-roll and then move on. But at least McGurn's "translation" is amusing.

The problem for Mr. Obama is that Ms. Streep managed to step on many of the themes the president might be expected to hit in his last big presidential speech Tuesday, right down to a snarky reference to foreign birth certificates. Here are some of the lines Ms. Streep delivered, followed by a short interpretation of what she really means:

January 8, 2017


Were I Cuban, I suppose I'd be targeted as a counterrevolutionary for having asked Che Guevara -- the only time I met him at the Cuban Mission to the United Nations -- whether he could possibly envision eventual free elections in Cuba. Although he professed not to understand English, Che -- still lionized on T-shirts in this country -- didn't wait for the translator and burst into laughter. It was then I learned that laughter can be chilling. -- Nat Hentoff

Hat-tip (well, stolen from) Ed Driscoll

January 7, 2017

Who Says There's no Good News?

Feel good story of the month!

2017 is Shaping up to be Jon Stewart's Worst Year Ever

More Hacks than Hackers

I've read 3-4 reports now about the phishing and the (supposed) hacking of Hillary's [sic] erection. Lots of huffing, puffing, assuming and assessing. No proof of Russians, GRU or Putin, or even of any actual hacking! FYI, the latest CIA/FBI/NSA report released by DNI is here, 7 pages of which are an Annex that came from a 2012 report of the Open Source Center.

This all stinks to high heaven of politicking.... PL's Hinderocker dryly opines

So the CIA, FBI and NSA are so lacking in relevant, probative intelligence that the largest portion of today’s report is a recycling of four-year-old, public domain information on Russia Today.
There is zero evidence in the report tying the Russian government (or anyone else) to the crude spearfishing effort or to the generic, out-of-date malware that invaded the DNC’s and Podesta’s email systems. Zero. Nada. Zilch.

The comments section echoes my thoughts:
1. What was done, actually? {ok, release of some eMails that weren't even hacked, what else?}
2. How does exposure of a private organization's eMail represent any sort of national security threat?

Even a very geeky looking report from Crowdstrike draws no operative links to the Russian gov't, nor even to actual Russian hackers.

The DNI's much touted (or soon2B) report says:

The US Intelligence Community is charged with monitoring and assessing the intentions, capabilities, and actions of foreign actors; it does not analyze US political processes or US public opinion.
yet goes on to say several times {an assessment based apparently on a selection of publicly issued quotations from public officials that looked ambiguous at best to me},
Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump.

My theory is still that Putin and RT expected HRC to win, and they were offering rewards for dirt digging that would discredit and denigrate. Here's quotes from DNI's report that will certainly only be seen here:

DHS assesses that the types of systems Russian actors targeted or compromised were not involved in vote tallying.... Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process

I'll note two more things (both from Power Line)
1. pseudonymous Ishmael Jones: “CIA bureaucrats are a big blue voting machine with a long record of creating information harmful to Republican presidents. “

2. This report from Wordfence

We showed that the PHP malware in the report is old, freely available from a Ukrainian hacker group and is an administrative tool for hackers. We also performed an analysis on the IP addresses included in the report and showed that they originate from 61 countries and 389 different organizations with no clear attribution to Russia.

January 6, 2017

FLOTUS Farewell

The First Lady makes a great Rorschach test.

I know some people who become quite agitated -- well no, I'm not going to euphemize, I know people who hate her. Maybe not "hate" if you probed, but she really upsets them

It's a partisan thing, of course, but I know as many who adore her. The classiest, most beautiful, most intelligent, most poised, best Mom, and finest at picking up a 7-10 split spare that has even graced the Executive Mansion. Or so I am told on Facebook.

I'll try to play the moderate. She's attractive, obviously intelligent, pretty good at politics, and a good mother. But the mother part becomes a liability when she spreads her maternalism from Sasha and Maliah to jk and his buddies.

Julie Gunlock has the same problem in a post at NR: "Mrs. Obama, we are not your children."

Like many parents who are suddenly shocked at their child's teenage rebellion, Michelle Obama appears surprised to learn that her kids (the American public) have interests and ideas very different from her own. For instance, some of her "kids" genuinely disliked being told how to eat and live. Some bristled at having their choices limited and being forcefully nudged to eat this way or that. Many balked when government bureaucrats told them how to parent their own kids; they slammed the door on all the unsolicited advice about their personal choices. In fact, most Americans don't like the federal government treating them like children at all.

This is what I have felt for eight years. In fairness, I'd be fine with FLOTAE of both parties relegated toward silent supporters. Pick out the China, trim the tree if you want, but "causes" have to go in a Constitutional Republic.

I'll wish her a long happy life -- and many awesome vacations. But I'll go back to my cheeseburger now.

Offshore From the Urban Heat Island

The next time someone questions the validity of the "urban heat island" effect, show them this post. The two graphs are last night's overnight temperature, at rural Atlantis Farm, and about 5 miles away in Brighton, CO.


Urban (KCOBRIGH41)

A roughly 14 degree F difference in low temperature. Bring on the urban sprawl!

January 5, 2017

Reality Tee Vee Latest Gambit

Shared without comment.

Well, now that the video has been censored it seems that commentary is the only thing left. I'll gyp that too:

The show was written by directors Heydon Prowse and Jolyon Rubinstein, who defended their satire and said it was targeting online grooming that had enticed thousands to join ISIS.

"It is important not to pull your punches in satire," Prowse said in a statement. "You have to be fearless or it undermines your credibility. You can't go after [former Prime Minister] David Cameron for five years like we did and not go after ISIS."

The BBC did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Hat Trick Productions, which produced the show, sent Prowse's statement.

"I support and defend the right to criticise and satirize events like this," Oz Katerji, a journalist, told the BBC. "To be honest, I think this is about two years late."

Art Humor Jihad Posted by JohnGalt at 6:07 PM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

Disturbing to see this pulled. The hacklers' veto stands.

Posted by: jk at January 6, 2017 6:04 PM

Blog Friend makes good!

A long time friend of ThreeSources landed a contract to write for Foreign Policy Magazine and his debut column launches today. I don't have to tell you it is superb.

Without the intervention of the French in the 1860s, which transformed Cambodia into a French protectorate and southern Vietnam into a French colony, Cambodia would have been totally swallowed by the Vietnamese maw. French imperialism brought peace, but not harmony: Relations between the two groups only worsened under colonial control, as the French gave the Vietnamese a privileged status, and imperial policy supported Vietnamese migration to the Cambodian heartland. The subsequent governments that came to power in post-colonial times -- the Sisowath, Lol Non, and Khmer Rouge regimes -- relied on anti-Vietnamese rhetoric to legitimize their rule to the Cambodian people.

But nanobrewer thinks:

Looks like you only get to read one article per visit. Good stuff, but long.

Posted by: nanobrewer at January 7, 2017 1:21 AM

Quote of the Day

Part of a superb explanation of the WSJ Editor's comments on Trump which launched a thousand memes...

Immediately, my remarks were followed by another fit of Trump-induced pearl-clutching among the journalistic elite. Dan Rather, a former television newsman of some renown, weighed in to call the remarks "deeply disturbing." I will confess to feeling a little burst of pride at being instructed in reporting ethics by Mr. Rather. It feels a little like being lectured on the virtues of abstinence by Keith Richards. -- Gerard Baker

Oh Please, Oh Please

John Galt Allison, my hope for SecTreas, might not be selling pencils on Wall Street after all:

American banks likely will have a new chief regulator soon, with one of the most likely candidates a welcome name to Wall Street.

John Allison is a name frequently mentioned when it comes to potential candidates President-elect Donald Trump is considering to run the nation's financial system, though a handful of other names also have been bandied around.

If the chatter about him is true, Allison would be named for a Federal Reserve Board of Governors vacancy that would make him vice chairman and head of banking regulation, a position left technically unfilled since it was mandated by the Dodd-Frank banking reforms.

But johngalt thinks:


This "flagrant, toxic narcissist" who appeals to bigotry, racism, intolerance" along with his questionable "pure competence" really is growing on me, day by day.

Posted by: johngalt at January 5, 2017 6:05 PM

The King is Dead -- Long Live the King!

Diggin' this:


January 4, 2017

I'll be here all week

Just 'cause y'all are tired of my humor:


But jk thinks:

535 today, roughly the equivalent of seven trenchant political observations plus five good Coffeehouse videos.

Know thy strengths.

Posted by: jk at January 5, 2017 11:49 AM

"None of this is good news."

As openly admitted, I have been very impressed with many of President-Elect Trump's personnel picks and his style in general since the election. I gave President Obama a chance, and I certainly have more in common with P-E Trump.

But we will soon face the damages from my initial reservations. I've accepted Sen. Jeff Sessions as AG, not because I am a fan, but because he represents what Trump campaigned on -- an AG Sessions fulfills a campaign promise, albeit one I did not want.

A couple of negative stories today from two sources I highly esteem:

  • Tyler Cowen looks at his picks for Commerce and US Trade. I stole his summary for this post's headline;

  • Don Boudreaux links to Cowen and piles on, most notably blasting USTR nominee Robert Lighthizer’s incorrect views of the trade deficit.

Can't win 'em all, I guess.

Trump Agonistes Posted by John Kranz at 12:51 PM | What do you think? [0]

Quote of the Day

It is growth from exchange-tested betterment, not compelled or voluntary charity, that solves the problem of poverty. ...Which do we want, a small one-time (though envy-and-anger-satisfying) extraction from the rich, or a free society of betterment, one that lifts up the poor by gigantic amounts? We had better focus directly on the equality that we actually want and can achieve, which is equality of social dignity and equality before the law. Liberal equality, as against the socialist equality of enforced redistribution, eliminates the worst of poverty. ...To borrow from the heroes of my youth, Marx and Engels: Working people of all countries unite! You have nothing to lose but stagnation! Demand exchange-tested betterment in a liberal society. Some dare call it capitalism. -- Deirdre McCloskey
Via an excellent FEE post from Dan Mitchell
But johngalt thinks:

And some dare say that extraction from the rich is more fair.

Posted by: johngalt at January 4, 2017 12:18 PM

January 3, 2017

Review Corner 2016

Crow's Gambit, Michael Glaviano [Review Corner]

Foolproof: Why Safety Can Be Dangerous and How Danger Makes Us Safe, Greg Ip [Review Corner]

Hive Mind: How Your Nation's IQ Matters So Much More Than Your Own, Garett Jones [Review Corner]

One Summer: America, 1927, Bill Bryson [Review Corner]

The Perfect Bet: How Science and Math Are Taking the Luck Out of Gambling, Adam Kucharski [Review Corner]

Unnaturally Delicious: How Science and Technology are Serving Up Super Foods to Save the World, Jayson Lusk [Review Corner]

Our Republican Constitution: Securing the Liberty and Sovereignty of We the People, Randy Barnett [Review Corner]

The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander [Review Corner]

Bourgeois Equality: How Ideas, Not Capital or Institutions, Enriched the World, Deirdre N. McCloskey [Review Corner]

The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution by Walter Isaacson [Review Corner]

The Broken Welcome Mat: America's UnAmerican Immigration Policy and How We Should Fix It, Helen Raleigh [Review Corner]

How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking, Jordan Ellenberg [Review Corner]

The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future, Kevin Kelly [Review Corner]

Predictably Irrational, Revised and Expanded Edition: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions, Dan Ariely [Review Corner]

Possession, A. S. Byatt [Review Corner]

Hayek On Mill: The Mill-Taylor Friendship and Related Writings, FA Hayek [Review Corner]

But What If We're Wrong?: Thinking About the Present As If It Were the Past, Chuck Klosterman [Review Corner]

Song of Wrath: The Peloponnesian War Begins, J. E. Lendon [Review Corner]

Lukewarming: The New Climate Science that Changes Everything [Review Corner]

Messy: The Power of Disorder to Transform Our Lives, Tim Harford [Review Corner]

Thucydides Peloponnesian War, the Landmark Edition [Review Corner]

The Odyssey, Robert Fagles translation [Review Corner]

Mortimer Adler smiles, This is far off my 2015 pace. But Adler tells us to "learn how to read slow" when needed. The last two each received several week's attention, not my usual blast through.

UPDATE: And again I come up far short of Blog Friend tg's list.

UPDATE II: Can't believe I forget Tim Harford's Messy: The Power of Disorder to Transform Our Lives, that was a favorite. Speaking of, I borrowed TG's practice of highlighting mine. I tried to do a Top Five, but lacked the courage to make a final cut -- my top six are in bold face.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 4:30 PM | What do you think? [0]

All Hail -- and Farewell -- Taranto!

My favorite Internet dude (ThreeSourcers excepted) pens his final column today (sniff):

When you think about journalism in this way, its failure in 2016 becomes very simple to understand. Whether you see Trump as a hero or a goat--or something in between, which is our still-tentative view--his unlikely ascension to the presidency was a hell of a story. Most journalists missed the story because they were too caught up in the defense a system of cultural authority of which they had foolishly allowed themselves to become an integral part. -- James Taranto


A good review of Society's Genome -- including a Buffy reference!

New Years Eve, 1999: I'm sitting on the roof of my boyfriend's apartment building with a group of other teenagers, gazing out over the Dallas skyline and waiting for the world to go black when we hit Y2K. We'd all heard ad nauseum what would happen if all electronic communications suffered a catastrophic breakdown, but I'd only considered it on a theoretical level. I'm still not sure why, but right about the time we were chanting out "5-4-3" I got truly terrified about what it would mean on a practical level. Game over. For everyone. Everywhere. No law enforcement, healthcare, government oversight, food production or new episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Happy new year!

January 1, 2017

Review Corner

Many friends have come to my side, some by reading, some by listening to me read, the work-in-progress, and responding with criticism or encouragement or a healthy blend of both. Most encouraging of all, none has asked me, "Why another Odyssey?" Each has understood, it seems, that if Homer was a performer, his translator might aim to be one as well; and no two performances of the same work--surely not of musical composition, so probably not of a work of language either--will ever be the same. The timbre and tempo of each will be distinct, let alone its deeper resonance, build and thrust. -- Robert Fagles
I end the year with a curious -- for me -- celebration: hooray for pointy head academics!

I had read both the Odyssey and Thucydides' Peloponnesian War before. As part bravado and part personal habit, I did not seek annotated editions or load up on commentary and criticism. I wanted to experience it cold. And, while there is some value to that, I must admit to my guided journeys' being far more fulfilling.

Russ Roberts mentioned the Robert Fagles translation of the Odyssey in an EconTalk Podcast, and complimented its richness. I purchased a hardcopy on Amazon over inexpensive Kindle versions. (If Russ Roberts told you to jump off a cliff, jk...) And I am quite glad I did.

The translation is superb. Fagles has a poetic and dramatic gift for the material, but also an advantage over earlier translators in that he can include the many earthier bits without reliance on euphemism. It's not that he uses Penn & Teller language, but he tells many sections as they are.

  But lustrous Calypso shuddered at those words
and burst into a flight of indignation. "Hard-hearted
you are, you gods! You unrivaled lords of jealousy--
scandalized when goddesses sleep with mortals,
openly, even when one has made the man her husband.
So when Dawn with her rose-red fingers took Orion,
you gods in your everlasting ease were horrified
till chaste Artemis throned in gold attacked him,
out on Delos, shot him to death with gentle shafts.
And so when Demeter the graceful one with lovely braids
gave way to her passion and made love with lasion,
bedding down in a furrow plowed three times--
Zeus got wind of it soon enough, I'd say,
and blasted the man to death with flashing bolts."

I do not suspect that Pope would have had to clean that section too much, but seeking the maids who have and have not been whoring with Penelope's suitors gets a little more graphic.

In addition to the translation, the introduction by pointy-head Harvard Classics Professor Bernard Knox was truly enlightening, including several insights that would have escaped me. Everyone knows most of the stories in The Odyssey: most certainly the sirens. Odysseus puts wax in the ears of his comrades and lashes himself to the mast. (This tale makes an appearance in next week's Review Corner for Tim Harford's "The Undercover Economist Strikes Back: How to Run--or Ruin--an Economy.)"

I had always assumed the pull of the sirens was the quality of their voices or just general lasciviousness. Men have not been that difficult to bewitch in the last 3100 years. But Knox points out what they thruly promise:

We know all the pains that Greeks and Trojans once endured
on the spreading field of Troy when the Gods willed it so--
all that comes to pass on the fertile earth, we know it all!

He sailed from "seagirt Ithaca" twenty years ago, and the people will be used to peace. The siren song is understanding war and warriors. The Achaeans can stay on the island and tell war stories forever to people who will get it.
  So they sent their ravishing voices out across the air,
and the heart inside me throbbed to listen longer.
I signaled the crew with frowns to set me free--
they flung themselves at the oars and rowed on harder,
Perimedes and Eurylochus springing up at once
to bind me faster with rope on chafing rope.

Homer, if he existed, and if he wrote, can rest easy knowing he has scored the coveted five star Review Corner. If you have managed to escape reading it, or plowed through it in high school, I highly recommend that you get the Fagles translation and rip through it again
Odysseus, the great teller of tales, launched out on his story:
"Alcinous, majesty, shining among your island people,
what a fine thing it is to listen to such a bard
as we have here--the man sings like a god.
The crown of life, I'd say. There's nothing better
than when deep joy holds sway throughout the realm
and banqueted up and down the palace sit in ranks,
enthralled to hear the bard, and before them atl, the tables
heaped with bread and meats, and drawing wine from a mixing bowl
the steward makes his rounds and keeps the winecups flowing.
This, to my mind, is the best that We can offer."

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