March 31, 2017

ACHA Deja Vu

Early last week I was ready to join the Big Tent, RINOs and all, and start along the Yellow Brick Road of Paul Ryan's AHCA. I did so because I love freedom and free markets, and " I trust Speaker Ryan when he insists that he and President Trump will achieve a healthcare free-market in a three-step process." And a big part of the reason for that trust is the absolutely awesome actions being taken in Washington under the leadership of those two men. Is it possible that Republicans have been changed by the events of the past four months? Is it possible that they've become inspired to do things that were previously considered "impossible" at least without being drummed out of town in the next election by the omnipotent "centrist voter" bloc? Yes, I think so.

This week, my Freedom Caucus Congressman *ahem* followed my lead and joined the bandwagon. He's in a safe district that might expect him to hold out for every last concession, but he credits Trump and Ryan for good acts deserving his good faith, and is ready to compromise in the name of accomplishment:

Republicans need to remember that pragmatism and principle are not opposed. Instead, pragmatism is an instrument used in pursuit of principle. By shooting down step one in the repeal and replacement of ObamaCare, we failed to achieve the principle: saving the American people from the hell that is ObamaCare.

In fact, our entire agenda of principled conservative policy relies heavily on healthcare action. Without a successful repeal of ObamaCare, tax reform will be that much harder to achieve.

Transitioning from an opposition party to the governing party can come with growing pains. But if we want to achieve our principled outcomes, like the end of ObamaCare and its replacement with a free-market system, then we have to learn how to come together as a party and govern. And governing means supporting the AHCA. I supported it, will continue to support it, and encourage my colleagues to support it as well.

But johngalt thinks:

No. I'm still on board. Did I give the impression that I'm not?

Posted by: johngalt at April 2, 2017 10:52 AM
But nanobrewer thinks:

has a distinctive lack of finality to it. All moot by now, of course...

Posted by: nanobrewer at April 3, 2017 12:43 AM
But jk thinks:

I'm not so sure. Certainly not moot as a pattern. I'd say internecine GOP strife is going to be a massive story for at least the next two years.

Boy howdy, I am torn. I am a pragmatist who would have happily accepted the positive elements of the ACHA. On the other hand . . . I look forward to principled opposition on the most destructive elements of President Trump's agenda.

Buckle up, it might be a rough ride.

Posted by: jk at April 3, 2017 10:10 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Hmmm, I'm puzzled how you see Freedom Caucus members working with the Speaker and the President to make the ACHA less disruptive of capitalistic market forces as a harbinger that they will not provide principled opposition on every future element of POTUS' agenda.

Isn't that precisely what we're witnessing with health care?

Posted by: johngalt at April 3, 2017 2:24 PM
But jk thinks:

My comment was predicated on the President's belief that Freedom Caucus members (whose names do not rhyme with "truck") are responsible for shooting the ACHA down.

I wish that more, like our Congressman had been willing to go support an imperfect ACHA. I'm calling that pragmatic. Much as I loves me some Senator Rand Paul, I find him disingenuous to claim that they could/should/would pass the "clean repeal" bill that they knew would be vetoed, now that it might be signed.

I want them to play on Health Care. Yet I would be fine with their opposing "the wall." Fair?

Posted by: jk at April 3, 2017 2:55 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yeah, that's fair, if you replace "the wall" with "protecting American jobs" by restricting competition. We have a wall already on parts of the border. Is that a bad thing? Want it torn down? Why not more then? I don't want 100% coverage, just 99% effectiveness.

Posted by: johngalt at April 3, 2017 10:39 PM

Movie Review Corner

I may post this on Facebook. But I wanted to let my freak flag fly a bit.

I saw "Beauty and the Beast" today. In a theater, just like other people do sometimes. I've been to theatres to see "Serenity" and the "Atlas Shrugged" -- oh, and Joss Whedon's "Much Ado About Nothing" but I rarely, rarely go. I saw the trailer for BATB and thought I wanted to see that on the big screen. I snuck off to a 10:30 am showing on my day off.

I bet all you parents have seen it seven times already, but holy freaking cow! That is such a masterpiece I an just starting to come down.

I'll rant a little bit for art: the film is lush and verdant. The acting, sound, music, effects, and cinematography are beyond parallel. But I come hear to praise Ricardo and Smith, and all modernity.

What a gift to live in a time of such wealth that $160 Million can be frittered away on middlebrow entertainment. I loved the Whedon "Much Ado.." It remains a work of great genius. And I believe they spent around $749.50 on it. Well, plus catering.

BATB is a $160,000,000 movie. Roaming through the woods, they'll look down an untaken pathway. It will be five seconds of film and you can guess they spent a million.

All the writers and musicians and costume designers and computer animators get to do what they love and still eat (Sister dagny once reminded me to never forget the animal trainers -- so I shan't!)

At the end of the day, they have an enthralling masterpiece which I suspect will make magnitudes more for Disney and her shareholders.

How can we not be gobsmacked with awe?

Art Posted by John Kranz at 6:29 PM | What do you think? [2]
But nanobrewer thinks:

I'd give it 3 stars; very respectable, but I just don't like big-hollywood production with big names who can't necessarily sing. None of the songs were botched or unpleasant mind you, but were not of Disney quality. I did enjoy watching Hermione jump into a new roll, but can't say the story really pushed any new boundaries.

An example of one where everyone really, really, could sing (thereby I _loved_ it) was "Pitch Perfect." Other examples of what irked me here are "Evita" and "Chicago."

Posted by: nanobrewer at April 3, 2017 1:09 AM
But jk thinks:

Huh. De Gustibus non est Disputandum I guess.

Of your list, I have only seen Chicago -- which I liked well enough. What is funny is that both the lovely bride and I thought Disney had captured the classic musical vibe and integrated it into modern CGI filmmaking and animation.

Posted by: jk at April 3, 2017 10:18 AM

March 30, 2017

The Official ThreeSources Tee

Bwa ha ha:

I_x_unicode.png

But johngalt thinks:

Nerd.
Dweeb.
Dork.
Poindexter.
Neckbeard.

Notice I'm not calling you a geek, 'cuz I'm one and I don't know what that shirt means.

Posted by: johngalt at March 31, 2017 4:20 PM
But jk thinks:

Sheesh -- hardware guys!

ASCII defines all the letters and enough groovy symbols to convey Latinate text, all in eight bits (seven actually, the top 128 are control characters. When you add a comment on this noble blog, the page reformats using ASCII.

Unicode uses 16 bits, providing 256 times more grooviness! You get £ and € and ¡ and ¿. Most notably, you get proper typesetters' Quotes and apostrophes. When you post or rebuild, this noble blog formats in Unicode.

So you post a story and it looks fine. When the first commenter says "You're an ass, that isn't true at all!" (or something), the smart quotes and umlauts and Pound symbols don't have ACSII matches. So you get -- depending on your browser - a box or the symbol on the shirt.

In Unicode, the shirt probably says "I ♥ Unicode" Get it? Hahahahahahahaha!

If I spent 1/100th o the time fixing the blog as I do touching up these things individually...

Posted by: jk at March 31, 2017 6:29 PM

Pollution "Costs"

Still on the theme of government getting everything wrong in energy policy, Investors Ed Page shares how President Obama's EPA fudged the spreadsheet in creating health cost savings to offset energy cost hikes.

In pushing the Clean Power Plan, the EPA claimed it would cost industry $9 billion a year, but produce up to $54 billion in annual health benefits, including "avoiding 2,700 to 6,600 premature deaths and 140,000 to 150,000 asthma attacks in children."

Who could complain about that?

Turns out, the benefits of the Clean Power Plan will be closer to $0, while the costs would be far higher than the EPA claims.

Yes, fellow Americans, we've been played.

But nanobrewer thinks:

I read an energy newsletter in work downtime (decreasing soon, now that I've seen my 2017 goals), that has real baseball-insider level detail on the actions of FERC and the lawyers/lobbyists who quibble, sue and defend the edicts (technically, NOPR's) that drive the grid. Some authors are outing themselves as on the activist side (aka, citing "97% of scientists" as tacit truism). I'm collecting a string of stories on the cost of Renewables ("RE"), and found this bit interesting not the least b/c the "source" wished to stay hidden:

Another source, who asked not to be identified, attributed the {RE} growth to reasons other than tax credits — at least in those areas with vertically integrated utilities.
"Utilities figured out a few years ago that they can put in high cost renewables and pass along price increases to customers because the commissions and enviros won't push back," the source said in an email Tuesday. "The more they spend, the more they make. If they put in lower cost traditional generation, they'll be fought tooth and nail. If they keep existing coal generation, they can’t raise rates. Shut down coal, add renewables and raise rates. ... Electric utility rates have gone up on average about 50% over the past decade ... and they'll continue to rise if renewables keep going in."
"Prices will rise as more and more renewables are installed," the source said. "Renewables impose additional costs that are not normally included in their 'cost.'

Posted by: nanobrewer at April 1, 2017 9:47 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Excellent point, and from an inside source that gives it more credibility than my personal observations, reading the news reports of ratepayer hikes approved by Colorado's highly politicized Public Utilities Commission. There is literally no limit to the places and ways that special interest mischief can be promulgated upon the public in our "advanced" society.

Posted by: johngalt at April 2, 2017 3:54 PM

Coffeehousin'

Coffeehouse

Got You on My Mind

Howard Biggs and Joe Thomas ©1951

Live at the Coffeehouse dot Com


Permalink

March 29, 2017

All Hail Freeman

freeman170329.gif

And:

freeman170329b.gif

But johngalt thinks:

One would certainly hope that the DNC Chair's dismissal of all DNC staffers was not as "abrubt" and "surprising" as the President's dismissal of U.S. Attorneys seated by the previous administration. All of them being Democrats though, the dismisser and the dismissees, I'm sure everyone will be happy to comply without any hard feelings.

Posted by: johngalt at March 29, 2017 5:55 PM

Energy Costs

I was going to add this to a comment thread, below. But I'm going to exercise bloggers' prerogative and give it its own post.

Amy Oliver-Cooke brought a few handouts to the LOTR-F meeting I mentioned. One of the best was this bylined WaPo story, How Not to Shut Down Coal Plants [jg's PDF]

PUEBLO, Colo -- Sharon Garcia is stumbling around her dining room in the dark, trying to find Post-It notes.

As she has for years, Garcia wants to affix the notes, marked with dollar signs, to light switches all around her house. The message to her five kids: Light is expensive.

"Why do you need to turn the lights off?" she asks her son, Mariano.

"Because otherwise there's no money," he answers, dutifully.

"And when there's no money?"

"You can't feed us or take us anywhere."

Bingo, again.


Bingo, indeed. You're gonna wanna read the whole thing.

Oil and Energy Posted by John Kranz at 10:16 AM | What do you think? [6]
But johngalt thinks:

Paywall blues. Found this PDF though.

Posted by: johngalt at March 29, 2017 2:54 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Wow. Just, wow. Bills for reconnect charges in the hundreds of dollars to low income Coloradoans because electricity costs have risen 26% in seven years, while consumption has held steady and the fracking boom has massively increased supplies of natural gas. A better title for the article would be, not "How not" to shut down coal plants, but "Why not" to do so.

And for what? President Obama's misguided "Clean Power Plan" would, by their rosiest attempt at predicting the future, "prevent" 0.019 degrees (C) of warming EIGHTY THREE YEARS from now. Reason:

That's the amount of temperature change a person will experience in about every second of life. It is simply impossible to detect this change in any global temperature history.

I'm sure all of the homeless, energy-poor folks in Colorado will be really glad that their betters in Washington took this decision.

Posted by: johngalt at March 29, 2017 4:36 PM
But jk thinks:

Paywall? I am not a WaPo subscriber and it likes me...

Now, if not for SB 252 driving up my electricity rates, perhaps I could afford to subscribe...

Property rights and freedom folk get on the "perceived as mean" side of issues so frequently. This is an excellent chance to whack all your progressive friends for their cruelty to the poor. #kiddingnotkidding

Posted by: jk at March 29, 2017 4:50 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I think there's a 5 page view limit - per month or per year or per lifetime, I'm not sure. Apparently I'm more well-read than y'all.

Posted by: johngalt at March 29, 2017 6:00 PM
But jk thinks:

I'm just halfway through my third.

Posted by: jk at March 29, 2017 6:27 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

Good news is the Trumpster is doing all the right things: killing the CPP and 'Waters of the US' rule, and his nominee slate for FERC look good. Still, even a full retract of the CPP won't save king coal, natural gas prices are driving nearly everything currently, which has an interesting dual effect of killing coal and boosting RE, b/c modern NG plants can ramp faster thereby lessening the strain on baseload generation which have to ramp up & down quickly due to the intermittent nature of RE plants. The fancy newsletter from Platts had this to say about the XO retracting the CPP:

the order had no noticeable impact on coal, natural gas or crude oil prices Tuesday; … and appears to roll back regulations already being unwound in courts.

For those not versed in history, the CPP has been "promulgated" (aka, approved as admin. law) but stayed by the courts, so is not actually in effect.

Posted by: nanobrewer at April 1, 2017 10:31 AM

March 28, 2017

Trump Revolution, Indeed

Yes, I have endured occasional "Agonistes" since President Trump was inaugurated. Some promises I wish were not kept, some I wish were. Bla, bla, bla.

One place he is 100%, all the way live is on energy policy. Last night Amy Oliver-Cooke spoke at Liberty on the Rocks - Flatirons. She was on his transition team for energy and the EPA and regaled us with stories. She never actually met then-candidate Trump, but was pulled in by a mutual friend.

Shortly after she agreed, the Billy Bush tape came out and her expectation of actually serving went from slim to none. Good stuff. She is funny and has encyclopedic knowledge of Colorado's legislative process, the players, and energy issues.

I post to ensure that you all regret not being there: neener-neener. More importantly, this Egg McMuffin voter must admit that we dodged a bullet last November. The EPA is a serious threat to all our liberty. A President Hillary Clinton would have allowed their usurpations to continue unchecked. The State of Colorado is a complicit partner through the CDPHE (Cooke notes that other states seem to do fine with three-letter environmental agencies...)

Remember when Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) chief Dr. Larry Wolk told the Denver Post's Vincent Carroll that his agency was "the conduit for the EPA?"
[...]
But that was President Obama's EPA. In 2017 the EPA will be very different under a President Trump administration. During the campaign, Mr. Trump said the Clean Power Plan is DOA.

But johngalt thinks:

I am jealous.

Seque machine: Trump signs order sweeping away Obama-era climate policies ... like the rubbish they are.

Pinch me. I must be dreaming.

Posted by: johngalt at March 28, 2017 5:14 PM
But jk thinks:

We can pile on the points, liberty does not come around all that frequently. Ronald Bailey at Reason says Trump's Climate Change Executive Order Will Make Energy Cheaper.

Posted by: jk at March 28, 2017 6:04 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Lowering energy costs is an EXCELLENT POINT, one which I criticize the Trump Administration for not trumpeting (really, no pun intended.)

"Energy costs in our country are going up, at a time when production of all forms of energy is getting cheaper. This is a government-caused problem because certain kinds of energy were prohibited by my predecessor. I am removing the bans on unpopular fuels and letting the market decide which ones to use.

The "hard choices" that low income families were forced to make because of the dubious environmental goals of President Obama will start to become easier under President Trump."

However, I will challenge Mr. Bailey's assertion that the demand for coal is lower because of the fracking boom. That is a factor, but I submit a larger factor is the distortive effect of the Clean Power Plan itself. Many utilities undertook fuel switches because of it, and that is why the demand for coal is lower. In a free market those coal plants could have been modernized without switching fuels, at lower cost and with greater fuel diversity.

So it will take a while for the lower cost of coal to win back some utilities. Probably only through new or recommissioned plants, as a switch from gas back to coal is unlikely. Some plants, such as Boulder's Valmont Station, can burn either fuel, however.

Posted by: johngalt at March 28, 2017 7:50 PM

March 26, 2017

Quote of the Day

My only comment on the Republican health care reform debacle comes from British writer G.K. Chesterton, (1874-1936): "When a politician is in opposition he is an expert on the means to some end; and when he is in office he is an expert on the obstacles to it."

Remarkably prescient don't you think, coming as it did 99 years before Republicans' effort to repeal and replace Obamacare.-- LOTR-F friend Dave.


Headline of the Day

TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 1417: Satan, Tea Parties, and the IRS.

Tea Party Posted by John Kranz at 5:19 PM | What do you think? [0]

March 24, 2017

Would YOU choose to live forever?

Awesome.

The headline's not mine, by the way, it's UK Daily Mail's.

'The cells of the old mice were indistinguishable from the young mice after just one week of treatment,' said lead author Professor David Sinclair.

Human trials of the pill will begin within six months.

'This is the closest we are to a safe and effective anti-ageing drug that's perhaps only three to five years away from being on the market if the trials go well,' said Professor Sinclair.

Call me Pollyanna but this doesn't sound like cold-fusion style clap trap.

But johngalt thinks:

Personally I don't need to live forever. Five hundred years or so, like RAH's Lazarus Long - that'll do.

Posted by: johngalt at March 28, 2017 5:15 PM

Quote of the Day

To be clear, your humble correspondent would be happy if the House Freedom Caucus were in charge of writing the repeal-and-replace bill. But its members have now been handed a final offer from a president who can believably present himself as uninterested in the details of health care policy. Even his most angry critics in the media would likely concede that he has credibility when he says he doesn't feel like spending any more time discussing mandated health benefits. -- James Freeman

March 23, 2017

Tour de Force!

I have been too silent (but that is so like me...)

Judge Gorsuch is a HOSS of the highest degree. Thanks to Facebook Live®, I have had the CSPAN hearings on quite a bit this week. And he has performed admirably -- no, this calls for additional adverbs -- astonishingly admirably.

He handles the hostile and stupid questions from the Democrats with cheer and seriousness. He handles the fawning GOP attempts with equanimity. I love his jurisprudence. I love his style.

And I love that Colorado's Democratic back-bencher, Senator Michael Bennet, will face the excruciating choice to either buck his party or oppose an überqualified native son of the Centennial State.

The WSJ Ed Page is pretty pleased as well:

Mr. Whitehouse complained that Judge Gorsuch wouldn't recognize his "simple" point that money in politics is corruption. "I don't think this is simple stuff at all. I think this is hard stuff," the judge replied. Justice Thomas may soon have a new ally on the bench.

Hoss SCOTUS Posted by John Kranz at 11:29 AM | What do you think? [0]

Trump Revolution, Indeed

One of my favorite governmental hobby-horses is included in the President's budget: private air-traffic control. WSJ Ed Page (headline of the day nominee): Major Trump to Ground Control

Mr. Trump's budget proposes converting the FAA's air-traffic outfit into "an independent, non-governmental organization," as Canada has done, and dozens of other countries have similar models. House Transportation Chairman Bill Shuster last year introduced a bill to turn air-traffic control over to a nonprofit corporation run by a board with seats for airlines, the pilots union, hobbyist aviators and more, but it stalled without presidential support.

Pilots currently bounce from one radio point to the next, which can result in roundabout routes and wasted fuel. The Transportation Departments Inspector General airdrops the occasional damning report on FAA's NextGen modernization program, whose total costs and timelines remain unclear, according to the November installment. FAA may finish the project a decade after the 2025 deadline--or 20 years after its technology is obsolete.


Speaker Newt Gingrich used to wave a vacuum tube on TV saying that the government was the largest purchaser, using them in the air-traffic control system in the late 90's.

Now, there ain't nobody loves vacuum tubes like a guitar player. But that spoke to governments acumen in rolling out new tech.


March 22, 2017

Otequay of the Ayday

The Free Speech Movement, led by a fiery Italian-American, Mario Savio, erupted at the University of California at Berkeley in 1964, the year I entered college. It was a cardinal moment for my generation. The anti-establishment stance of the Free Speech Movement represented the authentic populist revolution of the 1960s, which resisted encroachments of authority by a repressive elite. How is it possible that today's academic Left has supported rather than protested campus speech codes as well as the grotesque surveillance and over-regulation of student life? American colleges have abandoned their educational mission and become government colonies, ruled by officious bureaucrats enforcing federal dictates. This despotic imperialism has no place in a modern democracy. An enlightened feminism, animated by a courageous code of personal responsibility, can only be built upon a wary alliance of strong women and strong men.

-Camile Paglia in 'Women Aren't Free Until Speech Is'

But jk thinks:

Loves me some Camille Paglia

Posted by: jk at March 22, 2017 3:43 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Me too. I'll check out the Tyler Cowen interview soon. Meanwhile, if you click through my link and read her short piece on free speech you'll find this other notable quote:

"We are plunged once again into an ethical chaos where intolerance masquerades as tolerance and where individual liberty is crushed by the tyranny of the group.

The premier principles of my new book, Free Women, Free Men, are free thought and free speech—open, mobile, and unconstrained by either liberal or conservative ideology."

My mental working title for the post was "Camile Paglia - Objectivist." An obvious overgeneralization, but the parallel to Rand's two "mystics" are inescapable: Conservative ideology being the Mystics of Spirit and liberal ideology being the Mystics of Muscle.

Posted by: johngalt at March 22, 2017 4:55 PM
But jk thinks:

An Objectivist Theology Professor. I can sell that.

Posted by: jk at March 22, 2017 6:51 PM
But jk thinks:

Heh™: Insty links to the same piece with the comment "I mean, if women were free, who would listen to feminists?"

Posted by: jk at March 23, 2017 10:31 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Theology professor? Paglia? non! Art and literature.

Posted by: johngalt at March 24, 2017 4:32 PM
But jk thinks:

Corrected I stand. I misremembered that false factoid from her dust-up with the Dawkins-Hitchens wing.

Posted by: jk at March 27, 2017 9:54 AM

March 21, 2017

Dad Says

Sorry to double dip -- I posted this on Facebook as well.

Julian Simon called people the "ultimate resource." Julian Simon put up $10,000 of his own money against that stupid, Malthusian git Paul Erlich -- and won. David Simon thinks he knows what Julian Simon would say today, were he alive.

I miss Julian Simon more than most. He was my father. I often think about what he would say about the economic issues we face today. On the subject of immigration, I know what he would say: The economic evidence is clear that America needs more immigrants.

Great article.

But nanobrewer thinks:

Good stuff, brother JG, mostly agreed with one nit:

Having any kids, not to mention more than two, has come to be considered "selfish" and "wasteful."
Another breeder says "not quite." Only the hardcore Progs are trying to throw babies out with the recycled bath water, and even they are non-foolish enough to keep it covert. (Read a Sierra Club brochure to familiarize y'sef with da' code...)
Generally, now that offspring are (much)less needed to work the farm, churn the butter, chew the fat and all that, and (somewhat) less needed to care for the elderly - as in "me" - the drive to have multiple children has lessened significantly. Having fewer children also leaves more time and money for "Me." Now that last sentence sounds selfish (as it is), so the enlightened, would-be elists crowd has learned to finesse it into altruistic gaia-servitude.
All in all, agreed. As far as us multiple-generation American borns keeping the breed going, review "The Roe Effect"!

Posted by: nanobrewer at March 21, 2017 11:32 PM
But jk thinks:

RE: the Four Rules: I appreciate that you're trying to craft the Constitution while I got the cushy job of writing the Declaration of Independence. Yes, to reify lofty, ambitious goals will require some compromises.

If I've truly convinced you and you just need a practical framework, my work here is done. However...

My objection to your eminently reasonable "designated point of entry" is that today's Paul Erlichs, like one Rep. Steve King (White Guy - IA), have placed insuperable barriers on legal entry. I wish to get rid of illegal immigration by making legal immigration easy. That should satisfy both of us but I can't see its happening.

I think all Americans should oughtta follow your other rules. Your specifying immigrants makes me think my work is not done. We don't put conditions on the new births at St. Joseph's today; some will disregard the constitution. Our new arrivals, like native born, are a resource.

Posted by: jk at March 22, 2017 10:53 AM
But jk thinks:

RE: Congressman King: I could not disagree more fulsomely.

What fundamentally separates America from other nations is that we are bound by ideas and not race and not tenure. That place is called France. It's lovely. They have stunning vistas and delicious cheeses. But their nation is built on a geographical and racial identity.

You can't become French but you can become American, like my lovely immigrant bride has. I'm the ThreeSources slacker in the reproduction department, but her sisters' kids are very very very very much American.

Rep. King's contradict that which truly makes America exceptional.

Posted by: jk at March 22, 2017 11:03 AM
But jk thinks:

RE: Reproduction rate: not only are five kids not needed to work the farm (JG makes do with f-o-u-r), but thankfully, half are not going to die before they're five. Looking at Steven Pinker's "Better Angels" as a society gets wealthy, the fertility rate goes down.

(To bring the discussion home, it's a huge reason Erlich was wrong.)

I'm deeply concerned about America's. The green guilt crowd is one reason. I also see sense in Glenn Reynolds's concern that we've made it less fun. There is always some scold checking your car seat, lecturing about nutrition, or ensuring that your ten year old was not home alone in a locked house for two hours. While the marginal benefit of "fun" has decreased, the marginal cost of dollars has gone up.

Whatever -- and I suspect it's an amalgam -- it's worrying.

Posted by: jk at March 22, 2017 11:14 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I'm worried too, brothers. But the antidote to my fears resides in a dogged defense of the Constitution and its essential limits upon government. Hence, my "rules" above.

Yes, I wrote them for immigrants, as that was the topic du jour, but they are equally applicable to citizens. Agreed.

As for the controversial Congressman King, some are inclined to assume he is a racist and wishes only the worst for muslims, blacks and Catholics. Not me. Personally, I think he is, simply, "deeply concerned about America's" future. And what better way to extend the exceptional history of America and Americans, than for Americans to procreate greater numbers of offspring? There is no racial test here. The only qualifier I used was "western" citizens. By which, I mean, fully committed to the primacy of individual rights.

And I'll push back on nb's claim that "only the hardcore Progs" are anti-baby. They are certainly the number one cheerleader for choosing abortion over parenthood, but the message has been well received by far too many of our ideologically-neutral brothers and sisters (mostly sisters.) President Obama (bad example, I know, since he's a hardcore Prog) famously said he didn't want one of his daughters to be "punished" with a baby. In the best possible light he meant legally prohibited from self-determination, but the idea that nature's greatest miracle is some sort of criminal sentence is off-putting, to say the least. And then there is the birthrate. I'm fine with it being lower than it was a century ago, but for our economy to grow in real terms our population must grow as well. Replacement rate of human capital plus a moderate safety margin is a concept I'm sure my Bernankean blog brother can appreciate and support. (Unless we're all resigned to a Bill Gates future where we're all replaced by well-taxed robots.) And in that case, screw it all because, really, what's the point?

Posted by: johngalt at March 22, 2017 3:20 PM
But jk thinks:

Yeah, more people, yay! More 'Muricans, more immigrants! I think Rep. King agrees with half of that.

Posted by: jk at March 22, 2017 3:49 PM

Making Health Care Great Again

Count me as a supporter of the ACHA Bill scheduled for a vote on Thursday. Not because it's a good bill, but because I'm an optimist and because I trust Speaker Ryan when he insists that he and President Trump will achieve a healthcare free-market in a three-step process. If they really do pull that off, we can have something like this:

So what explains the vastly different trends in prices over the past two decades?

As Perry notes, the chief difference between the two is who pays.

Cosmetic surgery is, for the most part, paid out of pocket. But only about 11% of hospital, doctor and pharmaceutical bills are paid out of pocket. The rest is picked up by insurance companies or the government. Back in 1960, almost half of the nation's health care bill was paid out of pocket, according to the Centers for Medicaid Services.

What happened in between was the steady growth in the scope and generosity of health benefits at work, and the creation of Medicare and Medicaid in the public sector. These developments are always treated as big victories for consumers, but as Perry notes, there's a huge price to be paid.

"Consumers of health care," Perry writes, "have significantly reduced incentives to monitor prices and be cost-conscious buyers of medial and hospital services when they pay only about 10% themselves."

What's more, "the incentives of medical care providers to hold down costs are greatly reduced knowing that their customers aren't paying out of pocket and aren't price sensitive."

So, voilá, you get the high costs and the bizarrely complicated bills that everyone gripes about.

But the first step along the road to price competition, according to Ryan, is to pass the inadequate house bill first. Okay, I'm game. What's the alternative, an "empathy-ectomy" for Senate Democrats that allows them to support a comprehensive bill that, while lowering costs for everyone, gives away centralized power and lets Republicans have a victory the Dems dreamed was theirs and theirs alone? Ain't. Gonna. Happen.

But jk thinks:

Hear, hear.

You know I'd put Sen. Rand Paul (Hoss - KY) in charge of the government, the FDA, and Major League Baseball if I could. But his opposition to the legislative process comes off as grandstanding and frequently plays into the plans of liberty's enemies. Yes, Senator, we get it.

Posted by: jk at March 21, 2017 7:16 PM
But johngalt thinks:

OTOH, senate Hoss Mike Lee makes a compelling case that "the President's agenda is being highjacked by this bill" and legislators should join him in holding out for a bill that "repeals Obamacare, root and branch" as they promised the American voters.

Closer to home, I can't justify a call to my own congressman urging him to either hold to his no position or switch to a yes. Ultimately, it seems, Congress never achieved better outcomes in a hurry than by extended deliberation.

Posted by: johngalt at March 21, 2017 10:45 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Fortunately, it turns out that I won't need to call my Freedom Caucus congressman to lobby for his vote. The President of the United States has done so.

Posted by: johngalt at March 23, 2017 12:05 AM

March 20, 2017

Coffeehousin'

Coffeehouse

You Never Can Tell
Requiescat in pace, Chuck!

Chuck Berry ©1964

Live at the Coffeehouse dot Com


Permalink

March 19, 2017

Review Corner

I used to believe this as well. But now I don't. Empathy has its merits. It can be a great source of pleasure, involved in art and fiction and sports, and it can be a valuable aspect of intimate relationships. And it can sometimes spark us to do good. But on the whole, it's a poor moral guide. It grounds foolish judgments and often motivates indifference and cruelty. It can lead to irrational and unfair political decisions, it can corrode certain important relationships, such as between a doctor and a patient, and make us worse at being friends , parents, husbands, and wives. I am against empathy, and one of the goals of this book is to persuade you to be against empathy too.
Paul Bloom is not a fan of empathy. I hear ThreeSourcers across this great nation asking "What kind of right-wing, fascist, wing-nut claptrap is this?" Hahahaha, just kidding. The sound I hear is a thousand mouseclicks ordering Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion. You will not be disappointed; it's a great book. But those expecting a hard edged, libertarian or Randian polemic will be surprised.

Before we get there, though, let's bask in the thesis. Empathy has her charms, but she's a poor guide to action.

Some scholars will go on to reassure us that the emotional nature of morality is a good thing. Morality is the sort of thing that one shouldn't think through. Many of our moral heroes, real and fictional, are not rational maximizers or ethical eggheads; they are people of heart. From Huckleberry Finn to Pip to Jack Bauer, from Jesus to Gandhi to Martin Luther King Jr., they are individuals of great feeling. Rationality gets you Hannibal Lecter and Lex Luther .
[...]
But I wrote the book you are holding because I believe our emotional nature has been oversold. We have gut feelings, but we also have the capacity to override them, to think through issues, including moral issues, and to come to conclusions that can surprise us. I think this is where the real action is. It's what makes us distinctively human, and it gives us the potential to be better to one another, to create a world with less suffering and more flourishing and happiness.

I think every conservative, every libertarian, and every objectivist will set the book down on occasion to burst into load cheering. Reason's ascendancy makes us -- not only pareto-equivalent wealthier but also better friends, parents, and philanthropists.
I've been focusing here on empathy in the Adam Smith sense, of feeling what others feel and, in particular, feeling their pain. Ive argued -- and I'll expand on this throughout the rest of the book with more examples and a lot more data -- that this sort of empathy is biased and parochial; it focuses you on certain people at the expense of others; and it is innumerate, so it distorts our moral and policy decisions in ways that cause suffering instead of relieving it.

He gets ten points from both me and Russ Roberts (I heard about the book on an EconTalk podcast) for serial allusion to Adam Smith. Smith remarked 250 years ago that a close friend's difficulties or a minor medical procedure on ourselves outweigh major catastrophes across the world. Sorry, hippies, that's empathy at work. Because it is harder to "feel the pain" of a Chinese earthquake victim than a co-worker's sick child, is that a good vector to direct our compassion?
These are all serious cases. But why these and not others? It's surely not their significance in any objective sense. Paul Slovic discusses the immense focus on Natalee Holloway, an eighteen-year-old American student who went missing on vacation in Aruba and was believed to have been abducted and murdered. He points out that when Holloway went missing, the story of her plight took up far more television time than the concurrent genocide in Darfur.

One of the antecedents of "these cases" is the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. How many bad gun laws were passed in that tragedy's wake because moms and dads could "feel" the horror of that at their child's school. Reason did not get a seat in the boat.

I left breadcrumbs of doubt along this review. He does not take the road of reason to the same destinations some of us would. I can't let my Randian friends down easily. He is hostile to one whom I'd see as a philosophical ally.

For every Uncle Tom's Cabin there is a Birth of a Nation. For every Bleak House there is an Atlas Shrugged. For every Color Purple there is a Turner Diaries, that white supremacist novel Timothy McVeigh left in his truck on the way to bombing the Oklahoma building. Every single one of these fictions plays on its readers' empathy: not just high- minded writers like Dickens, who invite us to sympathize with Little Dorrit, but also writers of Westerns, who present poor helpless colonizers attacked by awful violent Native Americans ; Ayn Rand, whose resplendent "job-creators" are constantly being bothered by the pesky spongers who merely do the real work; and so on and so on.

If it's any consolation to the Randians 'round these parts, I don't think he gets Bleak House either. Little Dorrit, perhaps, but his earlier reference to Bleak House truly puzzled me.

Still, these are nits. He missed the point of Atlas Shrugged but managed to work it out on his own. It is an important work and its lack of right-wing-ism (a pointy-headed Yale Psychology Professor fer cryin' out loud!) might attract others. I sense that the Angus Deaton [Review Corner], James Tooley [Review Corner], William Easterly [Review Corner],and Poverty Inc. [Official Site] rethinking of the efficacy of charity is in the works. This could supplement it substantively.

Five Stars.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 11:38 AM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

How different really is "rational compassion" from "compassionate conservatism?" I don't have an answer to that, I'm hoping the Review Corner author does.

The idea that empathy or compassion could ever leave our legislation or jurisprudence is impossible to envision. Given that, I'll take compassion over empathy any day.

Posted by: johngalt at March 21, 2017 2:53 PM
But jk thinks:

Well, I'll defend "rational compassion." So that's a start.

Pointy-headed Yale man (with all due respect to Thurston J. Howell, III) does an important job here. "Empathy" has pretty well morphed into a synonym for "good" these days. He both corrals it into its specific meaning of experiencing another's feelings -- and documents why this may not really be good.

I ran out of space / reader attention for more examples, but one I should not have omitted was the psychopath. If you're really good at getting into others' heads, you might be a sweet angel, but you are just as likely to be a manipulator or con man.

Another great example is the doctor delivering a bad diagnosis or friend comforting one in a state of panic. In both cases, one of the participants should be calm and measured to provide stability.

He is writing to an audience for whom this is a brand new idea: "Huh? Empathy can be bad?" Reason, he is saying, provides ultimately greater compassion than empathy. I think that's defensible. "Compassionate Conservatism," sigh, is difficult to defend. I'm sure some high-powered focus group rated it highly once, but it never calmed anybody biased against conservatism nor failed to offend one biased towards it.

Posted by: jk at March 21, 2017 3:37 PM

March 18, 2017

A better match to the Friedman paraphrase

This video is even better: tracking private success in parallel with gov't failure!


March 16, 2017

Trump Revolution, Indeed

Wow. Chris Edwards at CATO -- not exactly Trump-sycophant-headquarters enumerates "a thoughtful array of cuts" in the proposed new budget.

I won't excerpt -- the whole list is saliva inducing.


All Hail Freeman

No question mark? No question mark. I'm on record having posted to the FOBOTW Facebook group to give props to James Freeman for filling some big shoes. He has a bit of wit about him:



Quote of the Day

Americans' voluntary contributions to arts organizations ("arts/culture/humanities" institutions reaped $17 billion in 2015) dwarf the NEA's subventions, which would be replaced if those who actually use the organizations -- many of them supported by state- and local-government arts councils -- are as enthusiastic about them as they claim to be. The idea that the arts will wither away if the NEA goes away is risible. Distilled to its essence, the argument for the NEA is: Art is a Good Thing, therefore a government subsidy for it is a Good Deed. To appreciate the non sequitur, substitute "macaroni and cheese" for "art."-- George Will
But jk thinks:

You mean, a fundamental human right, like Big Bird?

Posted by: jk at March 16, 2017 4:23 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Something like that.

And "Democracy NOW!"

Posted by: johngalt at March 16, 2017 6:48 PM
But dagny thinks:

Hey if art is a fundamental human right, I'm pretty sure my vaulting is an art. And there's a beautiful Oldenburg yearling colt up in Canada and hes only 11K. Pretty sure we NEED that colt. :-)

Posted by: dagny at March 17, 2017 3:47 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Heh, and four or five more like him no doubt.

Need.

"Need" is much different in the eye of the holder than the eye of the want-er.

Posted by: johngalt at March 17, 2017 3:50 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

I found an article that found the salaries of the NPR folks we're so used to hearing (even me, who stopped listening to NPR ages ago).
Steve Inskeep: $355k base
Michelle Norris: $265k
Robert Siegel: $322 in 2010-2011.

Cry me a river over budget cuts, just don't get the shoes wet! I'll post that to FB when their "number" hits the news which will be no-doubt faithfully parroted by my liberal friends.

Posted by: nanobrewer at March 17, 2017 4:39 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Seriously? Those are like POTUS level salaries. (Or mayors of small California towns.) What gives?

Posted by: johngalt at March 18, 2017 5:22 PM

March 15, 2017

Friedman speaks from the grave.

via KHOW's AM "Hoss Boss" Ross Kaminsky, who paraphrases.

1. A person spending their own money on themselves:
is concerned about cost and quality.
2. A person spending their own money on others:
is concerned about cost, not quality.
3. A person spending others' money on themselves:
is concerned about quality, not cost.
4. A person spending others' money on others:
is not concerned about quality or cost.

Guess which curtain the gov't hides behind? {They only care about volume}
I know, trick question, but a lead in to this terrific video from the geniuses at PragerU: It's hosted by one of economics' leading stars, Arthur Brooks, brilliantly and quotes Hayek, but the image below is the best takeaway. It also supports what my BFF says "government declared war on poverty: poverty won!"

Food%20Stamp%20Failure.PNG

But johngalt thinks:

Great image but I had to watch the video to learn something about the Progressives that I didn't know. They see rising food stamp recipients as a success because that shows government "helping" more people.

I have always attributed to the desire to have more people kept in dependency. I was too cynical. They are not evil just wrong.

Posted by: johngalt at March 17, 2017 1:54 PM
But jk thinks:

Mean ol' Republicans are going to take 14 million off of Medicaid/Medicare in ten years.

They should be handing pout friggin' medals!

Posted by: jk at March 17, 2017 2:42 PM

We're from the Government...

Speaking of Reason*... I got into an interesting discussion on FB yesterday. I was, of course, defending pedophilia and child pornography -- libertarianism can be such a good time, someday.

I won't re-litigate, but I had commented on the current cover story "Safe Sex, Dangerous State" with a flippant "Is there anything government cannot ruin?" a friend and two strangers engaged more seriously. Surely protecting minors from exploitation and harm is a valid role of government. Huh, pederast?

Well, of course. But I had just read this issue this weekend. And the point is that it is done badly and capriciously because the crimes are so objectionable. If free speech protects Illinois Nazis, the Westburo Baptists, and flag-burners, surely rights of due process extend to the most distasteful crimes.

That was a long intro for a short post. The answer to my flippant question comes from another article in the same issue. Jacob Sullum inadvertently points out something the government excels at. They took over a child-pornography website to great effect! Why couldn't they get these guys to handle the ObamaCare Exchanges?

That argument did not deter the FBI from continuing to distribute child pornography. In 2015, after arresting the operator of The Playpen, a "dark web" source of child pornography, the bureau took over the site and operated it for two weeks. During that time, about 100,000 people visited the site, accessing at least 48,000 photos, 200 videos, and 13,000 links. The FBI not only allowed continued access to The Playpen; it seems to have made the site more popular by making it faster and more accessible. The FBI's version attracted some 50,000 visitors per week, up from 11,000 before the government takeover.

You think you can make this stuff up. You're wrong.


Conversing with Tyler

Katherine Mangu-Ward turns the tables on Tyler Cowen, interviewing the interviewer in his own venue.

It is an interesting follow up to Sunday's Review Corner

Posted by John Kranz at 12:02 PM | What do you think? [0]

March 14, 2017

CBO Predictions

BREAKING . . . The Congressional Budget Office predicts that if Obamacare is repealed 300 million will lose health insurance, the magnetic poles of the Earth will shift, the Internet will stop, Microsoft will reissue XP®, and Nickelback will release a boxed set.

But johngalt thinks:

Doesn't sound so bad. Now, if Microsoft revived Vista...

Posted by: johngalt at March 14, 2017 2:57 PM

March 13, 2017

Trump Revolution, Indeed

I'll be your "Trump Chaos Umpire." I sits. And I call balls & strikes, fairly.

The President painted the corner with his nomination of Dr. Scott Gottlieb to head the FDA.

DrGottlieb.jpg
HOSS ALERT!

Gottlieb has been on the side of the angels as long as I have been following the FDA. A cancer survivor himself, he knows the human toll to bureaucracy and officiousness.

Scott Gottlieb may have landed the toughest job in Washington: President Trump has selected the physician and policy expert to run the Food and Drug Administration, where a culture of control strangles innovation. An iron triangle of interest groups, the bureaucracy and the press will resist change, but Dr. Gottlieb could save lives by renovating FDAs drug-approval processes.

Mr. Trump deserves credit for picking a pragmatist who understands the agency: Dr. Gottlieb served as a deputy commissioner at FDA during the George W. Bush Administration, and he has also worked at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. He is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and his many contributions to The Wall Street Journal include insights on doctor autonomy, drug prices, antibiotic development and more.


The opposition who bellowed at Sec. DeVos's "inexperience" will now direct their wind at Dr. Gottlieb for his connections to Big Pharma. Fight back, Republicans!

Well done, Mr. President!


Coffeehousin'

Coffeehouse

I'm an old Cowhand from the Rio Grande

Johnny Mercer ©1932

Live at the Coffeehouse dot Com


Permalink

March 12, 2017

Review Corner

Overall, as a nation, Americans are sufficiently happy that they don't even notice their starring role in the stultification of what has been and still remains the world's greatest nation.
I may have mentioned, once or twice, that I am a big fan of Tyler Cowen. His "Conversations with Tyler video podcasts are windows into a rational intellectualism with few equals. He is a prolific and prodigious blogger, covering the economic side of larger ideas at Marginal Revolution. I may have to call myself his #2 fan, now that I have read Ryan Holiday's "29 Lessons I learned from Tyler Cowen." (I agree with 28; I have not moved to Texas yet.)

That stated, I had serious reservations about his latest: The Complacent Class: The Self-Defeating Quest for the American Dream. Cowen lets the data and reason lead to him to the truth. And some of those truths are difficult to accept and challenge our base beliefs. That is where I am with the great stagnation economists, among whom I would number Cowen.

I sometimes say that I am a happiness optimist but a revenue pessimist.

I'm an optimist in both, but some would say Professor Cowen was a bit smaterer than me.

We'll explore some differences, but I accept the central thesis 100% and bet all ThreeSourcers are in as well. Tyler, can you give us that thesis in a short excerpt?

The Reagan recovery seemed especially dramatic to those who had lived through the earlier periods, because all of a sudden, everything seemed to be coming together again. Economic recovery resumed, American power again seemed to dominate the world, it was "morning again in America," traditional patriotism returned to fashion, and global communism was to fall shortly thereafter. Collectively, as a nation, we used this newfound wealth and prestige to dig in, to protect ourselves against risk, and to build and cement a much safer and more static culture. So many features of the country became nicer, safer, and more peaceful, but as an unintended side effect, a lot of the barriers to advancement and innovation were raised.

Just as an individual shops for insurance when his or her income exceeds sustenance, Americans chose to use their affluence to featherbed. Zoning laws will keep the riff-raff out of our lovely Boulder neighborhood. Licensing and certification laws will impede pushy upstarts who threaten our profits. We can secure our security -- but it is at the cost of dynamism.
The clearest physical manifestation of these ongoing processes of segregation is NIMBY-- Not In My Backyard. Building new construction gets harder and harder in many of our most important cities, and the ratio of rents to median income in those locales has been rising steadily. American life is more segregated by income than ever before, and the new innovations we are creating are cementing rather than overturning this trend, which is backed most of all by city and county laws but also by our own desires for suitably nice living quarters and experiences.
[...]
One upshot of this current Zeitgeist of community-enforced social stasis is that our physical infrastructure won't get much better anytime soon. Every time a community turns down a new apartment complex or retail development, it limits America's economic dynamism by thwarting opportunities for those lower on the socioeconomic ladder.

Cowen's stagnation -- in this book -- is chosen complacency, and overregulation to maintain it. It is not that we have run out of productive ideas or picked all the low hanging fruit. We're not reaching, we're not moving, we're not staring up new enterprises in the numbers we used to. What's the cost? Substantitve:
Muddy Waters is one significant creator who made the move from the Delta up to Chicago, and it is from that geographic transition that electric blues, and eventually rock and roll, was born. The story of African American popular music in the twentieth century is above all a story of migration and creative adaptation to new environments. It was in the large, noisier nightclubs of Chicago that Muddy Waters plugged in his guitar and made it electric, so that his music could be heard above the drinking, arguing, and overall hubbub of the audience.
[...]
As late as the 1980s, when I was living in Germany, I recall bragging to my German friends that about a fifth of American households picked up and moved in a given year. At that time, America was living through an economic boom that saw high GDP growth and rapid job creation, while much of Europe was mired in persistent double-digit unemployment. Although my German friends already had the sense of America as a highly mobile country, they nonetheless found that statistic almost impossible to believe.

I don't quote pop country too frequently; I'm more comfortable with Muddy Waters. But Jo Dee Messina released "Heads Carolina, Tails California" in 1996. I don't know when I found it, but I have loved it for decades -- insisting it to be the most American Song there is. Its Wikipedia entry notes:
Deborah Evans Price, of Billboard magazine reviewed the song favorably, calling it a "rollicking country ode to flipping a coin and hitting the road in search of a better life "somewhere greener, somewhere warmer.'" She goes on to say that "passion and energy permeate Messina's strong vocal attacks on this infectious tune."

It is now 2017, Cowen doesn't mention this song, but it is clear from his data that this no longer describes America. The strong vocal attacks and infectious melody may still be "us." But we are no longer a mobile society, either in economics or geography. To Cowen, it's the same thing.
They noticed that within the United States, the dispersion of worker productivity across different cities has gone up. For instance, New York, San Francisco, and San Jose have become especially high-productivity cities, compared to, say, Brownsville, Texas; the size of these gaps has been growing over time. Those large gaps mean that the American economy could become much richer if more workers could be moved from the low-productivity cities to the high-productivity cities; that would increase income mobility too. The researchers estimate that "[ l] owering regulatory constraints in these [high-productivity] cities to the level of the median city would expand their work force and increase U.S. GDP by 9.5%." In a $ 17 trillion economy, that is indeed a huge effect-- you can think of it as an extra $ 1.7 trillion in upward income mobility.

Yes, we have residual wealth from the Reagan Revolution -- but Cowen suggests we still have residual ennui from the oil shocks of 1973 and President Carter's sweaters a few years later.
In that year the era of cheap energy ended and the American economy slowed, and more generally the culture moved away from the idea of immediate and rapid transportation. Mentally, Americans moved from a world of moon shots to waiting in line to buy gasoline.
[...]
Jimmy Carter put on a sweater and urged Americans to turn down the thermostat, representing a new era of lowered aspirations. In other words, the American response to economic adversity was to seek to restore comfort more than dynamism, and Americans pushed their culture in this direction all the more in the 1980s. President Reagan resurrected the rhetoric of dynamism, and Americans started to feel better again, but that was a time when dynamic economic growth was available only to a minority of Americans; in other words, it was the beginning of the age of income inequality.

Obama-era 1.8% percent growth may be a thing of the past (Cowen is not optimistic) but if this "New Normal" continues, it will take, by rule of 72, 40 years to double GDP. Cowen reminds that a doubling of GDP is a reinvention.

I have visited China many times over the past five years, for a different book project, and what I've observed there has made America's social stagnation increasingly clear to me. That was one reason why I came to write this book. Even with its recent economic troubles, China has a culture of ambition and dynamism and a pace of change that hearken back to a much earlier America. China, even though it is in the midst of some rather serious economic troubles, makes today's America seem staid and static. For all of its flaws, China is a country where every time you return, you find a different and mostly better version of what you had left the time before.

He returns to the same America. New fortunes are made, but to whom?

American rags-to-riches stories are much harder to find these days. You can certainly find riches-- look at someone like Mark Zuckerberg. But he hardly grew up in rags. Simply put, these days not many, if any, Americans are starting out their lives in the kind of poverty that [Alibaba founder] Jack Ma experienced as a kid. That sounds good, and indeed it is good, but it also means that wealthy, comfortable societies have less dynamism and churn,

I think that progressives are the kings and queens of this featherbedding complacency. Protecting union jobs over educating children, rent control, open-space, &c. Cowen doesn't call them out as I would. But their world cements inequality, not the libertarians'.

I'm running out pf space and user attention, so I will stop with this wonderful book under-described. I'll toss two quotes out of interest to ongoing internecine debate 'round these parts. One, increased immigration offers an infusion of dynamism:

What is the broader lesson here? It is not, I think, that migrants are stealing all of the upward movement away from Americans. If you look at America's earlier period of very high immigration, early in the twentieth century, domestic intergenerational mobility was probably high too, from what we can tell. Quick question: If your family has been in America for a few generations, and you are ambitious, are you really considering moving to a region of the country with very few immigrants? How about West Virginia or eastern Kentucky? Probably not.

My hope for escape remains increased future productivity and lower loss of life from autonomous vehicles. I fairness, I share a quote which speaks to both sides;
America's future is likely to bring a much greater use of driverless cars, which will be a major gain in terms of safety and convenience. But just think of the reorientation in terms of cultural and emotional significance: It will be the cars controlling us rather than vice versa. The driver of the American car used to drive an entire economy, but now the driver will be passive, and what will the culture become?

Heads Carolina -- oh it doesn't matter, we'll go where Google says...

Many disagreements, but it is for me to work them out. This is a superb book -- five stars, easy.

Whatever his fears for the future, Tocqueville's basic portrait of the United States was of a land perpetually in motion. Democracy in America details a nation in ferment, in the process of becoming, and full of energy and ambition. Tocqueville noted that Americans were far more restless than the English, and furthermore this restlessness came from a great awareness of what they always were lacking. In his view, "[Americans] never stop thinking of the good things they have not got. It is odd to watch with what feverish ardor the Americans pursue prosperity and how they are ever tormented by the shadowy suspicion that they may not have chosen the shortest route to get it."

Tails California. Somewhere greener, somewhere warmer...

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 3:52 PM | What do you think? [0]

March 11, 2017

Sweden on Lake Superior?

PowerLine keeps tabs on the Somali wave so boldly brought to the land of 10,000 lakes. they also remind us:

in October 2015 Governor Mark Dayton instructed white, B-plus, Minnesota-born citizens to suppress their qualms about immigrant resettlement in Minnesota. If they cant, they should find another state, he advised.
just like the elites and media in Sweden. That defensiveness and opacity is all I need to know about the supposed success of the immigration they've initiated.

Image drawn from inferred data in this article file by the Center for the American Experiment. Ms. Crockett notes:

DHS has been crunching the numbers for the last three months for the Strib, why was DHS playing hide-the-ball with the Center? And why isnt this report available on the DHS website to the public?

Immigrant%20Employment.PNG

We see the Somali's have bought not into the hard-working culture, but into the welfare culture... this by the way is an exacerbating problem in Sweden (and France): their immigrants have been ghetto-ized by perhaps well-meaning state employees, but it's lead to their segregation, and thereby dependency.

Now, to be sure, we're not seeing a crime wave from the Somalis like is reportedly on the move in Sweden, but this does address in part JK's assertion that immigration's net costs are positive. This article backs up what I've been trying to assert - perhaps w/o a great deal of clarity - that old fashioned immigration does show positive societal benefits (see all the Asians working), it's the new fangled 'pack'em in and pay them to stay' pushed by Progressives that needs to be exposed and expunged.

If a Trump-Session overreaction is what it takes, I say have at it! I'll paraphrase a meme I saw citing Albert Nock: I'm interested in what is right, not who is right.

This article from 2015 notes this trend has history, none of it good.

the effort is having the unintended consequence of creating an enclave of immigrants with high unemployment that is both stressing the states safety net and creating a rich pool of potential recruiting targets for Islamist terror groups.

Posted by nanobrewer at 12:10 AM | What do you think? [2]
But jk thinks:

I think the numbers are biased because Somali refugees are new. The linked report says "And the Hmong are clearly still struggling after decades in Minnesota." The Somalis have not had decades to assimilate and establish networks and human capital infrastructure. (Though there some awesome restaurants on Riverside!)

An additional bias is that they landed in Minnesota with its very generous assistance programs. Texas received the "largest number of arrivals in 2014." I'm going out on a limb and suggesting that the Lone Star State did a better job putting them to work.

The 2014 report claims 8000 Somali refugees in 2014 for a total of 23,000 for the listed program between 2009-2014. If 36% are not in the labor force, we have imported 12,240 unemployed over six years.

You've made yourself quite clear. Old immigrants, good; new immigrants bad. Quite similar to the media and Republican Presidents: "If only Trump was as swell and kind and smart as that George W. Bush fellow...") Allow me to repeat:

Black teens born right here in the good old USA have similar, if not worse, labor force participation numbers. Should we prohibit reproduction from certain groups based on their statistical employment?

Refugees will struggle to achieve prosperity. I'll accede that some groups will do better than others. But -- as you point out -- Minneapolis is not a Sharia hell hole. I think our nation of 330,000,000 can accept a few thousand refugees. And, on the whole, they will eventually prosper in similar proportion to the native born.

Posted by: jk at March 11, 2017 12:40 PM
But johngalt thinks:

My first impression of this post was, "What is so dramatically different about Somali immigrants from Mexican, Hmong or Vietnamese?" Allow me to explain.

First, I didn't read the article. Just nb's excellent post and the data in the table. If one observes the total percentage "not in labor force" without accounting for sex, all groups are comparable with percentages varying between 19 and 36. The real story is found in the percentage of unemployed males. Here, Indians are singularly completely industrious, with zero percent of unemployed males. Mexicans and Vietnamese are in the 10 percent range, which does not impress me as alarming. Hmong and Somali are 24 and 30 percent unemployed, respectively. Still not really alarming so much as evidence of an opportunity for outreach to those communities. Where Somali males are uniquely lacking, as shown by this data, is in finding work. Somali men seeking work represent 29% of that community, and only 11, 7, 6 and 3 percent of the other ethnic identifications. But they are looking. That doesn't sound like a welfare culture to me.

Let me also explain why I dismiss unemployed females. Because the two-income family is a much more western phenomenon than a universal condition around the world. Some see this as good and others as bad. Personally, I think it's best when it can be decided by each individual woman, and not become an economic necessity because individual income taxes and health care costs are so high - which, again, is more of a western phenomenon. I'm looking at YOU, Progressives.

Posted by: johngalt at March 11, 2017 1:27 PM

March 9, 2017

European Disunion

Widely regarded as a socialist nanny-state by mainstream America (certainly by we "TEA-Party wackos") the European Union has become displeasing enough to a plurality of Brits that they voted to leave the union. And there's a growing sense, back in the old country, that other nation states may "follow Britain's leader."

IBD has an editorial on it this month which predicts "A European single market" as the most likely of five proposed paths in a white paper prepared by the European Commission President.

The truth is, none of the 500 million people in 27 European countries that belong to the massively-indebted EU like being ruled by an unaccountable bureaucracy. It has become not merely oppressive, but actively dangerous, advising countries to do economically foolish things and letting masses of "refugees" from the Mideast and Northern Africa migrate to Europe - destroying communities, disrupting law and order, and creating a massive welfare state that requires ever-higher taxes to support.

This should sound familiar to frustrated Americans living in the red states and counties which dominate the map of the USA. Change the names and numbers slightly and it describes the situation that contributed to the election of a reality-TV billionaire as our president.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the EUs first centennial celebration - a growing number of EU member states are witnessing a rapid growth in the popularity of nationalism. (When I was a kid we called it "national pride" but I suppose that too was some sort of sin.)

There is a warning here for America:

Even so, the stagnant, dysfunctional EU is the same vision American progressives have for the U.S. - bureaucratized, undemocratic, heavy-handed and inefficient, soul-less socialism-lite.

The lesson is, Europe would be wise to dismantle the EU while it still has the chance, and the U.S. would be wise not to repeat the EU's failures.


Government Posted by JohnGalt at 7:35 PM | What do you think? [0]

We've Always Been at War with Eurasia!

Andrew McCarthy at National Review has busted the New York Times in an act of airbrushing. I think George Orwell would be impressed.

Without notification, the folks at the Times have quietly changed a headline to better fit the narrative.

But now that the media have been called on this, now that the Obama administration has been called on investigating the Trump campaign, what happens? Have you checked the Times's January 20 story lately? Turns out the story has suddenly, quietly been given a new headline. No longer is it "Wiretapped Data Used in Inquiry of Trump Aides." Instead, readers are now told, "Intercepted Russian Communications Part of Inquiry into Trump Associates."

Indeed Mr. Smith, we've always been at war with Eastasia.

But johngalt thinks:

Not to worry, I'm sure the NSA has an archived copy with the original headline. And, thanks to POTUS 44's revision of Executive Order 12333, so does FBI, CIA, MI5...

Posted by: johngalt at March 9, 2017 4:05 PM
But jk thinks:

Like.

Posted by: jk at March 9, 2017 4:24 PM
But AndyN thinks:

I like the story even better now than when it was first posted.

The original just told us that the NYT lies. In other news, water is wet.

The current version is a shining example of how a media outlet should conduct itself when it's made a mistake. "CORRECTED:" in all caps and bold before the original headline. Prominent, clear and concise editors note explaining and apologizing for the publication's error between the original sub-head and story, with a link to a detailed apology and explanation by the original author. And the author's apology offers no weasel words. He isn't sorry that someone may have been offended, he's sorry that he made a mistake and apologizes forthrightly and directly to the wronged party.

There are a number of things I don't approve of that National Review has done in the past few years, but this is exactly how I want to see prominent advocates of political positions that I support conduct themselves.

Posted by: AndyN at March 11, 2017 1:19 PM
But johngalt thinks:

You're right, Andy. That is an industrial strength mea culpa. Even to someone who readily admits mistakes and errors, this impresses. Thanks for calling attention to it.

Posted by: johngalt at March 12, 2017 5:47 PM

March 8, 2017

We Lost.

Haven't had a post in ACA Horror Story of the Day since March 2016. And that one chided the administration for declaring victory.

taranto160324.gif

Fast forward 349 days, however. The GOP has control of the House and Senate. A Republican won the White House, campaigning on repeal. And yet, it's time to declare defeat.

Don't get me too wrong too quickly: the House plan is indeed a huge improvement over the PPACAof2010. And there is opportunity for substantive improvement in the legislative process. But Speaker Pelosi and President Obama have not only moved the goal posts -- they have dug deeply and cemented them in place. (Bet you didn't see that metaphor coming.)

It was a particular piece of genius to give away the goodies on the first day and phase in the less popular parts in ensuing years (and administrations...) Republicans can build anything they like -- as long as it confirms to the field defined by those well planted posts.

  • No pre-existing conditions (read "insurance is out.")
  • No reversal of Medicare expansion (read "no reversal of Medicare expansion")
  • Free health care for children until 26 (read "No cheap catastrophic care")

Dissevering it from employers? No way in hell. That would be messy and there is zero appetite for messy. They are tinkering and not thinking boldly. My own GOP Senator is ready to bolt on the first thing which inconveniences anybody. And without thinking boldly, it will truly be ObamaCare Lite™, and Republicans will own all the bad parts, while President Obama will be celebrated as the man who brought transformational improvements -- against fierce GOP opposition.

Other than that, have a nice day.

But johngalt thinks:

Agreed. President Trump famously repeats, "We will not be bound by the failed policies of the past." We will see.

Personally I have hitched my wagon to the Rand Paul led coalition that calls for complete repeal first, argue about the replacement later. Utah's Mike Lee is another voice of reason in this legislative effort.

The AHCA is ninety percent of the way to establishing a free market in health care but the remaining ten percent is poison, as you've explained.

(And why did they have to choose a moniker that is so freakin' close to ACA? I thought they were supposed to be professionals.)

Let me make a final observation: The "GOP" does indeed control the White House and both houses of Congress. But that doesn't mean control rests with republicans. The RINO caucus is well represented, and could well prevent a successful replacement for O care. The best possible fall back outcome I can foresee is to repeal O care and not replace it with anything.

Posted by: johngalt at March 8, 2017 5:57 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I just listened to Paul Ryan defend the AHCA bill. He said that the bill as written is not the one that will ultimately be passed. Changes will be made, in reconciliation and otherwise, and the way it is written now is partially because of "senate rules." I'm willing to give them some more rope based on this.

Posted by: johngalt at March 8, 2017 10:48 PM
But jk thinks:

Very informative overview in the WSJ today. I don't know how paywalled but understand Googling the exact title sometimes works. That would be "What Are the GOP's Health-Care Alternatives?"

It makes a lot of sense and supports Speaker Ryan's description. Reconciliation is the big play. It doesn't need 60 votes but they only get one shot. If you do something ThreeSourcers and Senator Paul (HOSS -- but cranky HOSS, KY) like, the follow ups will have to survive cloture votes.

Posted by: jk at March 9, 2017 11:51 AM
But nanobrewer thinks:

I am with Sen. Paul, too. Full repeal, full stop. Let the Dems blow their wad fillibustering, and let premiums keep rising while the GOP leaks selective (even selectively edited!) parts of the plan that would reduce premiums and let Dems keep taking the heat. Don't cave yet!!

Repeal. That's what Ryan ran on. Do it, have it blocked, refine the "real plan." Takes guts! I might just eMail our CO Senators again.

Posted by: nanobrewer at March 11, 2017 12:09 AM

March 7, 2017

"Republicans hate poor people"

I was tempted to title this post "America is Doomed" because of what I read in this HuffPo piece on Jason Chaffetz' suggestion that consumers not spend more money than they earn. I took his comparison between health insurance and an iPhone (along with the monthly service cost) to be directed toward young people. But naturally, the left is going to paint this as a "class struggle."

"Americans have choices, and they've got to make a choice," Chaffetz said Tuesday on CNN. "So rather than getting that new iPhone that they just love and want to go spend hundreds of dollars on that, maybe they should invest in their own health care. They've got to make those decisions themselves."

Having to choose between a smartphone and health care coverage is a scenario Chaffetz likely can't relate to. With a net worth of at least $320,000 in 2014, he makes less than many of his colleagues in Congress and was only the 301st wealthiest lawmaker ... blah, blah, blah.

I can't put my finger on the ThreeSources post about millennials being the first generation who had a more favorable view of socialism than capitalism. But not all millennials are lost. Take one of my nephews, for example, who wrote this:

"Look I can't tell people my age to not get an iPhone and instead save money for a possible health problem in the future because none of them will understand that.

My generation was raised being told they could do anything they ever wanted without consequence because their parents who worked their butts off to get where they are wanted to give them a better life than they had. We were raised being given anything that we wanted immediately without having to earn it or wait for it. When we failed in sports we were given participation trophies so getting the winning trophy meant less and all that mattered was just being there.

We are all spoiled and we never had to experience risk, and mitigating risk so we never learned how to deal with failure, and we never learned to be prepared for the worst.

Our only recourse when something bad does happen is to then blame it on whoever is in charge. When we were in school the teachers were blamed for our poor performance. When we played sports the coaches were blamed for our lack of talent. When we get out of education and into the real world you see this pattern continuing and any failure (being fired/not being hired/etc.) is blamed on the government. When the liberals start to get blamed they push it off on the conservatives and the conservative realize it is all stupid and they keep quiet and try and think about a solution to the problem while keeping all the blame on themselves because they realize nothing good comes from pushing around blame."

To say my mind was blown is an understatement.

So, nephew, have you considered a career in journalism?

Health Care Posted by JohnGalt at 11:30 PM | What do you think? [3]
But jk thinks:

I don't want to drag out personal details, but has said nephew been graduated from college? He writes with vision, clarity, and independent thought I frequently see before attending secondary education.

If he has survived it and still writes like that, huzzah! He is from good stock indeed.

Posted by: jk at March 8, 2017 9:51 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Not graduated the academy yet, but he's an upperclassman.

Posted by: johngalt at March 8, 2017 5:50 PM
But jk thinks:

Academy has a safe ring to it. I thought he would perhaps soon be taking a course where this is taught.

Posted by: jk at March 8, 2017 5:56 PM

Coffeehousin'

Coffeehouse

The Song is You

Jerome Kern - Oscar Hammerstein II ©1932

Live at the Coffeehouse dot Com


Permalink

March 6, 2017

Sweden cannot go on

Another entry from the Daily Mail; key quotes:

A stranger came up to me in a coffee shop to say much the same thing. She had read my first report. She implored me to shout louder. She said Sweden cannot go on pretending it is some kind of utopia. That it is on a path to fail, that her friends fear Sweden is being overwhelmed.
and
This is the state of liberalism today. So determined to prove I am wrong, my observations erroneous, the stories I have on tape inaccurate, that it has lost all sight of the raped migrant child crumpled in the corner. Similarly, the 'we know better brigade' are so puffed up with smug self-importance as they point out Trump got his dates confused over the troubles in Sweden, they cant see past their own chest to the riots in Rinkeby.
She confirms (without specifics) grenade attacks and no-go zones.

Immigration Posted by nanobrewer at 12:26 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Thanks for keeping this alive nb. I've been pointing out to FB friends that Political Correctness is precisely what made possible the election of Donald Trump as the "leader of the free world." Here is another prime example, in the making. By ignoring, nay, hiding and apologizing for a very real threat to the dominant social fabric, the political left makes every alternative look better by comparison. And when one of those alternatives is saying, "we will protect the dominant social order" it is just that much more appealing to people like those quoted in this story.

The author summarizes the situation: "They share a single message; Sweden cannot begin to solve its problems until it starts talking about them."

By electing Donald Trump, Americans finally heard the words "radical Islamic terrorism" from the well of Congress.

And it is increasingly clear that the western European democracies will have to take equally extreme measures before it can even think about talking about its problems, at least in public. Even if it means electing a "racist" a term with almost no meaning any longer, for the same reason I mentioned at the outset, like Marine Le Pen in France.

If it happens, Progressives, social democrats, leftists, you'll have none to blame but yourselves.

I really must include this insightful quote from nb's linked piece:

He explained that to accept there is a problem would mean accepting nearly 80 years of liberal thinking was wrong. That multiculturalism doesn't work, that mass immigration does not lead to integration, that Sweden has made a big mistake.

The quote is from Mattias Karlsson, leader of the Swedish Democrats - currently leading in the polls.

Posted by: johngalt at March 6, 2017 3:24 PM

March 5, 2017

Review Corner

To be sure, a solitary human is an impressive problem-solver and engineer . But a race of Robinson Crusoes would not give an extraterrestrial observer all that much to remark on. What is truly arresting about our kind is better captured in the story of the Tower of Babel, in which humanity, speaking a single language, came so close to reaching heaven that God himself felt threatened.
I've become a huge fan of Steven Pinker. Yes, that's as controversial as thinking Derek Jeter is not too bad a ballplayer. But you know my disaffinity for pointy head professors; it took me a while. He got a glowing Review Corner for his The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined. He is brilliant and charming in his episode of Conversations with Tyler. Smarterest guy on the planet? I'll offer no counterexample.

Becoming a fanboy, I had to dig into the Professor's magnum opus: The Language Instinct: How The Mind Creates Language (P.S.). It is an incredible piece of work.


The second trick behind the language instinct is captured in a phrase from Wilhelm Von Humboldt that presaged Chomsky: language "makes infinite use of finite media . " We know the difference between the forgettable Dog bites man and the newsworthy Man bites dog because of the order in which dog, man, and bites are combined.

This is a book of psychology, genetics and structure. Not only is it not about Who vs. Whom, Professor Pinker suggests dispensing with the distinction. He is more interested in universal grammar -- and suggests it comes to us via evolution and not through PlaySchool® "Babies first non-split-infinitive CDs."
In contemporary middle-class American culture, parenting is seen as an awesome responsibility, an unforgiving vigil to keep the helpless infant from falling behind in the great race of life. The belief that Motherese is essential to language development is part of the same mentality that sends yuppies to "learning centers" to buy little mittens with bull's-eyes to help their babies find their hands sooner.

The three-year old English speaker, Pinker points out, has an astonishing grasp of language and grammar. Show him an animal and tell him it is a "Wug." Then show him two, and he'll construct "two Wugs." Not that he is a huge fan of three-year-olds "(if children are general imitators, why dont they imitate their parents habit of sitting quietly in airplanes?)" The same child will think that a glass of milk poured into a narrower glass suddenly has more because of the vertical level.

We are clearly given some innate language skills. Pinker extends them far beyond plurals. and shows them universal among different languages.

Grammar is a protocol that has to interconnect the ear, the mouth, and the mind, three very different kinds of machine. It cannot be tailored to any of them but must have an abstract logic of its own.

It's a scholarly work and contains some technical sections, but nothing inaccessible (contra another popular brilliant linguist whose name rhymes with Foam Mom's Ski). It's challenging for its depth, but Pinker is a clear, accessible -- and frequently amusing -- writer.
In the 1964 hit song "The Name Game " ("Noam Noam Bo - Boam , Bonana Fana Fo - Foam , Fee Fi Mo Moam , Noam"), Shirley Ellis could have saved several lines in the stanza explaining the rules if she had simply referred to onsets and rimes .

The publication date is 1994 and it is difficult to rate his prognostication skills concerning computers and language. He is rightfully pessimistic (remember your computer in 1995?) because the idea of teaching language and grammar to computers is perhaps insuperable. I participated in a start-up in the early 'oughts which tried to commercialize the then-best Natural Language Processing as part of a rudimentary AI suite. Twelve years after Pinker's book, it was far from solved.

Of course, our computers talk to us all the time. But they use big data and statistical analysis. Siri doesn't understand grammar, but she knows how three million people constructed a phrase. Pinker might lose a friendly wager to a time-traveler over Siri, but the method confirms his hypothesis rather than contradicting it.

Pedants will wince in places. He does claim that those (cough, cough) inclined to separate Who and Whom are hypocrites for not continuing the equivalent Ye and You. Grammatical rules emanating from schoolmarms and disapproving uncles instead of evolution tend not to convey additional information. The erudite syntax of a William F. Buckley, Jr. question on Firing Line claims no superiority over street slang.

The best definition comes from the linguist Max Weinreich: a language is a dialect with an army and a navy.

I'm not sure to whom he is referring, but I'll move on, having barely scratched the surface of a 572 page book by a polymath, intersecting language, genetics, psychology, art, physics and technology. I'll close with an anecdote that pleased me greatly.

He pretty effectively calls "Bullshit" (without being reduced to barnyard vulgarity) on the people who teach sign language to gorillas or "Don't believe everything you see on The Tonight Show." The studies are suspect, the data is not made available -- the better part of a chapter discredits these circus tricks. The students cataloging "speech" have every incentive to call scratching an itch speech. Actual deaf students brought in noted only ten percent as many words as the other students. But guess which results were published?

Recall that typical sentences from a two-year-old child are:
Look at that train Ursula brought and We going turn light on so you cant see.

Typical sentences from a language - trained chimp are:
Nim eat Nim eat . Drink eat me Nim . Me gum me gum . Tickle me Nim play . Me eat me eat . Me banana you banana me you give . You me banana me banana you . Banana me me me eat . Give orange me give eat orange me eat orange give me eat orange give me you .

I used the barnyard vulgarity because the section reminded me of an episode of Penn & Teller's show by the same name. They played an audio tape of a woman teaching a dolphin to speak. To help their viewers, when the woman said "One, two, three, four, five, six" they circled her name, Margaret Howe, on-screen. When the dolphin said "Ki, ki, ki ki, ack ack kikikikikikik eeey!" they circled "dolphin."

Pinker doesn't hate gorillas any more than he loves two year olds. It reinforces his point that we have an evolutionary, instinctive capacity for language. We don't rate people on their ability to pull trees out of the ground with their elephantine trunks; it makes no more sense to rate gorillas on grammar skills.

A great and serious book, well worth your time Five stars.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 11:57 AM | What do you think? [0]

March 2, 2017

Tweet of the Day

UPDATE: Okay, I'll be fair.(From an FB group, sorry I cannot provide attribution):

RussiaRussiaRussia.jpg

Trump Agonistes Posted by John Kranz at 11:35 AM | What do you think? [5]
But johngalt thinks:

Seriously? You giving credence to this manufactured controversy?

Posted by: johngalt at March 2, 2017 2:52 PM
But jk thinks:

No, I just found it amusing.

I'm going with Reason on this one (no great friend of AG Sessions):

But meetings between U.S. officials and foreign ambassadors, even of countries many insist are "hostile," are par for the course. The U.S. should engage with any country willing to engage, on any issue where there might be convergence. The U.S. and Russia, recent anti-Russia hysteria aside, have complex relations. In the last year, the Russian ambassador to the U.S. met with, among others, the administrator of NASA and the governor of Tennessee (though neither of these appeared to be unforthcoming about their meetings). Last month he was scheduled to attend a physics conference also attended by Los Alamos scientists.

Posted by: jk at March 2, 2017 3:07 PM
But johngalt thinks:

The prior administration can conduct secret negotiations and establish Executive Agreements with Iran, the world's leading state-sponsor of terrorism, but anyone in this administration who ever spoke with a Russian official is denounced and called on to resign for national security reasons.

Or, it's just subterfuge.

Meanwhile, sources for the Times story said the campaign was not directed by Obama himself. Maybe not.

But did he know of it and, therefore, tacitly approve of it? If so, using a public office for a political purpose is a violation of the law, and this is highly questionable if not illegal behavior by a former president.

Will Schumer now call for an investigation of Obama and his aides for possible illegal interference with the operations of an incoming president?

Oh, and one more thing:

By the way, the Times report once again noted there was no evidence that Trump campaign officials coordinated in any way with Russians.

But who believes the "failing" New York Times? Even Schumer doesn't.

Posted by: johngalt at March 2, 2017 6:14 PM
But jk thinks:

I have not reached a decision. But the "crux of the biscuit" is perjury more than influence. "The 1990s called, they want their scandal language back!"

I'll confess getting rid of my least favorite cabinet member seems almost a fair trade for empowering the completely hypocritical opposition you cite.

The IBD editorial addresses, but your pull quotes do not, the AG's defense "He did in fact meet twice with the ambassador, but he says it was as a part of his job as a member of the Armed Services Committee — not as a Trump campaign adjunct. There's a very big difference."

I guess I can buy that -- I'd love to watch the tape -- but it seems like some hair-splitting, does it not?

Posted by: jk at March 2, 2017 6:42 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

again... Democrats:

Kennedy would lend Andropov a hand in dealing with President Reagan. In return, the Soviet leader would lend the Democratic Party a hand in challenging Reagan in the 1984 presidential election.

https://pjmedia.com/jchristianadams/2017/03/02/us-senator-colludes-with-russians-to-influence-presidential-election/

Posted by: nanobrewer at March 4, 2017 1:06 AM

March 1, 2017

Moving the Presidential Needle

I would like to burst forth with effusive praise of the President's speech to Congress last night, but dagny judged that I am a, what was the term, "partisan cheerleader" or something to that effect. Yes, it's a tough living room in our household.

So I'll let the 857 viewers whom CBS polled before and after the speech give the verdict:

The president moved opinion among viewers on his plans for a number of policy issues, comparing their views before and after the speech. The percent favoring his plans for fighting terrorism, addressing crime, improving the economy, handling illegal immigration, and dealing with Obamacare all jumped.

Republicans and Democrats did see the president's description of the country quite differently. Most Republicans think Mr. Trump's depiction of the state of America is accurate, while six in 10 Democrats think the President's description is worse than the country really is.

There is agreement across party lines that Mr. Trump is trying to do what he said he'd do during the campaign.

An uncharacteristic lack of negativity from this establishment media source, to be sure. To offset it they were sure to include a disclaimer that "As is typical for a presidential speech, viewers tended to come more from the president's own party; in this case more Republicans tuned in." And they repeated it THREE TIMES. Still, Democrat viewers were not unaffected:

Forty percent of Democrats at least somewhat approved; 18 percent strongly approved.

And if you've lost 40 percent of your party, Messr's Schumer, Obama, Pelosi and Perez, nearly half of them strongly, don't bother looking at the unaffiliateds.


Good Speech! A Few Quibbles...

After watching my Colorado Avalanche go down 0-4 to the Philadelphia Flyers (congrats, Keystone Staters!), President Trump's SOTU joint address to congress was a welcome change. It was a well-crafted and better delivered speech, superb in tone. And I suspect it highly effective for collecting any remaining true moderates (both of them liked it).

He won. But my wishes -- and those of the WSJ Ed Page for a softening on protectionist, economic isolationism were not realized. In a generally positive review, the lads and lassies from Dow point out:

Also striking are the President's contradictions on the wellsprings of economic growth. He understands that tax cuts and deregulation are essential to unleashing investment at home, but his capitalist instincts stop at the border. His invocation of the hoary old Lincoln quote about the virtues of "protective policy" couldnt be less appropriate for the modern U.S. economy that needs global markets and world-class talent to succeed.

This is the "economic nationalism" promoted by his chief strategist Steve Bannon, and it is intended to show voters that Mr. Trump is on their side. But if it is ever put into practice it will undermine the rest of his growth agenda.


Not one to just whine, I bring multimedia reinforcements. This is the freedom-enhancing, global wealth producing trade he seeks to impede:

[More of these videos...]

But but but. Several high notes and a totality of tone and substance that was worthy of admiration. Well done, Mr. President. The same WSJ editorial closes:

Our guess is the speech won't do much to move Democrats in a polarized Washington. But perhaps it will reassure nervous Republicans who have wondered when he would focus on the hard task of governing. The speech puts him on firmer ground for that challenge.

UPDATE: And a quick All Hail Freeman.
He caught them off guard by delivering a big-hearted, moving and gracious address, but they seemed unable to react in real time. The pantsuit caucus and their equally grumpy male Democratic colleagues continued to sit, frown and offer tepid applause or none at all even for lines that would be objectionable to no one outside of ISIS.

But johngalt thinks:

I chuckled at the way Ross Kaminsky put it this morning. He said that last night, "Donald Trump truly became the president of the United States, notwithstanding the amusingly petulant refusal of Democrats to applaud throughout most of the evening."

Read more: http://khow.iheart.com/onair/ross-kaminsky-57121/the-rundown-march-1-2017-trump-15603804/#ixzz4a5qulHFi

Posted by: johngalt at March 1, 2017 11:44 AM

Don't click this. Comments (2)