March 30, 2018


Sorry JG, but you didn't quote anything.... if you did, I think I can trump it:

"Germany, as far as energy policy is concerned, is the biggest fraud globally," said an EU official.

The article, enticingly titled "More fizzle than sizzle" starts off with a bang:

Germany's enormously expensive Energiewende green energy transformation is sputtering. The numbers tell the story. Despite spending about €150 billion and years of political effort to scrap nuclear and fossil fuels and switch to renewables like wind and solar, Germany is expected to fall short on pretty much all its national and EU emission reduction and clean energy targets for 2020.

Hat tip to the never-resting Dr. Hayward at PowerLine, who ends his article with a graph showing coal consumption up!

Posted by nanobrewer at 12:44 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Nicely done nb. You caught me red handed calling three full paragraphs a "quote." (At least my intentions were honorable.)

Now, the EU calling Germany an energy an environmental fraud, that's heady stuff. Deutschland was to be the leader in humanity's renewable future. Of course we predicted as early as 2011 that their ambitious plan would lead to more coal consumption.

A German industrial trade group worried at the time, "How will the international competitiveness of German industry be guaranteed?" I think we all know now that it won't be.

Posted by: johngalt at April 2, 2018 2:54 PM

March 28, 2018

Otequay of the Ayday

Yes, there were a fair number of funny lines. But forget writing, acting, directing, and the rest, it was positively thrilling to see something fictional transpiring on the television screen that reflected the half of America that has been so consistently and deliberately hidden from view or reviled by Hollywood. You almost couldn't believe your eyes. Was this actually happening? When were Matt Damon or George Clooney going to walk in to set these people to rights? It had to be coming after the commercial. But it didn't.

The show reminded me of how much I liked the real "Deplorables" while covering the presidential campaign. They were the furthest thing from the caricature promulgated by Obama, Hillary, and other elites, but kind and decent people with normal struggles as portrayed in this new Roseanne series. Not that the producer-star doesn't give the other side their innings. Her sister Jackie, who comes back as a life coach in a "Nasty Woman" sweatshirt, has her moments and is usually shown sympathetically, if a little goofily, in the show.

Everyone's a bit goofy -- and that's the point. You're struck by how long it's been since people in our society have been able to talk to each other in something resembling a civil manner -- and maybe even poke fun at their own foibles and opinions. If only they could be like they are on the Roseanne show, quirks and all.

Roger Simon on the premiere of the resurrected "Rosanne" show.

Now I'm sorry I missed it!


From a Q&A with the show's producer:

How did it develop that Roseanne was a Trump supporter?
When one of my agents called me to bring up me going back on the show, the way he pitched it was "Roseanne in the time of Trump." Originally I thought, like everybody else, that she would not be a supporter of Trump. But the moment we got in the writers' room with Roseanne, she really wanted to be a supporter of Trump, not because she is one herself, but there are a lot of people in the Midwest who voted for him. We had debates and discussions. [Writer] Dave Kaplan and I were two of the people who had least understood that there are people who voted for him who aren't misogynists or racists and who felt betrayed by other administrations. They really believed Trump was going to do something for them. It made sense when we really talked about it.

March 27, 2018

Mr. Uber loses his license

"I think my favorite model is an Uber with manual and automated controls. When possible, it uses automated control but in bad weather or a very complex environment it behaves just like today's vehicle." -jk, December 21, 2016.

I didn't remember that quote. I only went searching for our debates about autonomous automobiles (auto-squared?) where I predicted the problem with self-driving cars is the limitations of software. Never, however, did I imagine it would rise to this level of incompetence.

Thoma Hall's comments have been about clarifying a lidar array's role in the driving task; namely, that even when the lasers detect an object, "it is up to the rest of the system to interpret and use the data to make decisions. We do not know how the Uber system of decision-making works." If Uber's software doesn't process the data properly, then it doesn't matter what the lasers register.

When Arizona citizen Elaine Herzberg was caught jaywalking across a wide thoroughfare last week, the Uber behaved just like an ordinary vehicle when its operator is more interested in something below the windshield than in front of it. Uber struck the woman at cruising speed (44 in a 40 zone if I remember correctly the initial report) killing her.

Now the involved parties rush to deflect their own liability. And this is just the problem, isn't it? A sentient being can be held accountable. Problem is, all of the involved sentient beings have an excuse:

The software ignored our sensor.
The software I designed was controlling the car, not me.
The car was in automatic mode, so whatever happened was its fault.
As a pedestrian, I have the right-of-way and cars must yield to me.

Who will be satisfied when accidents are explained with the phrase, "The vehicle in question had not yet downloaded the latest firmware update that corrected that bug?"

Ah yes, Ms. Herzberg is statistically irrelevant. Maybe to the Governor of Arizona, but not to her two children. Consequently said governor has revoked Mr. Uber's license.

"He calls fatal crash 'an unquestionable failure' of the technology." (I think he meant unquestioned but you get the drift.)

The letter strikes a dramatically different tone from late 2016, when Ducey invited Uber to his state with celebration, saying "Arizona welcomes Uber self-driving cars with open arms and wide open roads."

But jk thinks:

I've been expecting this. And suppose it is deserved. It's a rare event had it waited tem more months, the cars would look good, had it happened six months sooner, vicious killers.

You know who else died that same day in car crashes? Statistically about 100 people! Statistically, I bet some of them had children as well.

You can do a little more searching and see where I said these vehicles would be flawless. But I don't think you'll find it. Over time, they will be better, en toto, than human drivers. And they will improve and be further refined.

A tragic and sad setback. Engineers will point fingers but lawyers will effectively find those to blame. But for now, you get your wish: the hundred who die every day will die at the hands of human incompetence -- huzzah!

Posted by: jk at March 28, 2018 10:10 AM
But johngalt thinks:

My intent was to be humorously ironic more than harsh. But I think we agree that the rush to market inspired by the race to be first does real harm to the movement. It has the effect not of replacing human accidents with fewer (or even far fewer) AI ones, but adding them to each other. As stated in this tech journal, "self-driving technology costs real lives while saving statistical lives."

I won't say that government should regulate this more than it already does, but I do believe the liability judgments against the makers and operators of killer robocars should be in the billions. There needs to be a real disincentive for them to use all of us as their unwitting crash test dummies.

Posted by: johngalt at March 28, 2018 2:29 PM
But jk thinks:

No doubt I deserved worse.

But the "she's not a statistic! She has children!" cri de Coeur puts me in mind of the currently ascendant wrong side of the gun debate. "Not one more Mom or Child must die!" I am told, so you must accept whatever overreaching policy prescription I'm peddling.

The other 90 (Reason corrects my math but not my philosophy) people dying without a rewrite of Arizona's traffic laws are no less real and no less loved by their families.

Ninety a day, every day. It seems short-sighted to not consider 35,000 against one whose name we know.

Posted by: jk at March 28, 2018 4:00 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Fair cop. That was an easy argument, but a specious one. Allow me to reframe:

I would like to see each robocar company CEO stand in front of every one of her cars - literally.

Posted by: johngalt at March 28, 2018 4:55 PM

March 22, 2018

Insider-Trading Ninjas

Readers may recall the for-profit college shakedown during the last years of the Obama Administration. Blog patriarch jk presented one view of the matter on the occassion of "the historical Inauguration and swearing in ceremony for the 45th President of the United States!"

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

Several large for-profit institutions closed down. But, had they practiced honest accounting:

If the regulation were applied evenly, a large number of nonprofit and public institutions would fail to meet the standard. But then the justification for the department's selective regulation of for-profits would vanish.

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

But this week we learned of another reason why Obama Administration officials discovered and fixed the error that lead to massive devaluations of for-profit colleges. As revealed in Peter Schweizer's new book "Secret Empires: How Our Politicians Hide Corruption and Enrich Their Families and Friends" wealthy pals of President Barack Obama had bought up many of these institutions at fire-sale prices.

In the case of the University of Phoenix, its parent Apollo Education Group was suspended after a Federal Trade Commission investigation in 2015. The following year, three companies, including Vistria, swooped in to buy what remained of Apollo at a price 90% below its share price before the investigation.

As Vistria's education investment portfolio bulged, a number of Obama Education Department officials, including Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, ended up taking high-level jobs with Vistria.

That's just one example. There are others.

So when you hear media reports of this or that flavor of corruption or skulduggery in the Trump campaign or his administration, just remember that "all the news that's fit to print" apparently doesn't include banana republic tactics being employed with impunity in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.

Blog Friend makes good

Again: Shameless "Fraternal" Promotion. But a good friend of this blog has an excellent piece in "The Weekly Standard."

But is it so surprising that young men have found inspiration in [Jordan] Peterson's musings? They are heirs to a faith tradition they no longer believe in. They are citizens of communities who have lost their cohesion. They are members of a generation trained to be cynical but exhorted since birth to somehow find a life full of "meaning." Peterson has compassion for these dispossessed and recognizes that bad things happen to societies full of brooding, listless, and hollow men.

It's totally awesome. (Partial, moi?) Read the whole thing.

But johngalt thinks:

Love it! Bravo TG.

Posted by: johngalt at March 22, 2018 3:27 PM

March 21, 2018

Online Poll

Okay -- hands up -- who here thought that ALL CAPS was going to stop the President?


But johngalt thinks:

Well, the briefing paper (if the story is accurate) did fail to say "please."

Personally, I'm still waiting for this President to whisper in a Russian leader's ear, "I will have more flexibility after my re-election." Like the last President did.

Posted by: johngalt at March 21, 2018 3:09 PM

March 15, 2018

Pointy Headed Elites! Right Here!

Shameless Fraternal Promotion!

Brother Bryan has written an interesting paper: Seigniorage in the Civil War South


Sad to see that he has not yet brought the Threesources style guide yet to George Mason. He could have used a few NAKED NATALEE HOLLOWAY pictures. Perhaps he is saving that for his dissertation.



Birth of the Blues

Ray Henderson, lyrics Buddy G. DeSylva & Lew Brown ©1926

Live at the Coffeehouse dot Com


March 14, 2018

It's Official!


But johngalt thinks:

Steve Forbes:

Kudlow is no fan of tariffs, which are taxes, plain and simple. He will struggle hard to prevent a trade war with our trading partners. But he is also a fierce foe of trade abuses and here he will work to give the president options on how to best to fight this kind of lawlessness.
Posted by: johngalt at March 15, 2018 3:35 PM

March 13, 2018

All Hail Freeman

" Mr. Trump often entertains the crowds at his events by insulting powerful people in media and politics. At Hillary Clinton's events, the former secretary of State tends to insult people who can't afford to attend. " -- James Freeman

March 12, 2018

Because I'm Mean That's Why

This snarky-ass commentary will just make folks angry and won't convince anybody. What do I think this is, Facebook?


Trump Agonistes Posted by John Kranz at 10:15 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

I have a strange feeling, having read this. I get it a lot these days. I think the woke gang has a term for it. Triggered, or something?

Now, if'n y'all will 'scuse me, I gotta git back to work on the farm, like my pappy did, and his pappy before him!

Posted by: johngalt at March 19, 2018 3:20 PM

March 11, 2018



(I Love You for) Sentimental Reasons

Ivory "Deek" Watson & William "Pat" Best ©1945

Live at the Coffeehouse dot Com


March 9, 2018

C'est si Bon

Larry is usually wiser, and always more gracious than me. I would not be willing to join on immigration. But the rest, yeah:


But johngalt thinks:

Maybe it's a normal consequence of aging, but I remember liking ol' Larry a lot less than I have come to in recent years. Maybe he's mellowed too.

The problem with debating government trade policy is that economists want to treat it as a purely economic matter. But it's not. It's mostly a government, political, matter. There is no "correct" answer when one government seeks advantage over the people represented by another government.

Posted by: johngalt at March 11, 2018 8:41 PM

March 2, 2018

So, Here We Are

I don't intend to pile on. Not when it's been done so much better by the WSJ Ed Page:

Donald Trump made the biggest policy blunder of his Presidency Thursday by announcing that next week he'll impose tariffs of 25% on imported steel and 10% on aluminum. This tax increase will punish American workers, invite retaliation that will harm U.S. exports, divide his political coalition at home, anger allies abroad, and undermine his tax and regulatory reforms. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1.7% on the news, as investors absorbed the self-inflicted folly.

Mr. Trump has spent a year trying to lift the economy from its Obama doldrums, with considerable success. Annual GDP growth has averaged 3% in the past nine months if you adjust for temporary factors, and on Tuesday the ISM manufacturing index for February came in at a gaudy 60.8. American factories are humming, and consumer and business confidence are soaring.

Apparently Mr. Trump can't stand all this winning

More broadly, it has been a bad 48 hours for those who love liberty and were trying to come to terms with our quixotic cheif executive.

I know that neither Mr. Shapiro nor the WSJ Ed Page are natural allies of President Trump. Yet I cannot help but feel we are reaping what populism has sown. Ideology is abased, but it does provide one with a rudder.

UPDATE: If you're not convinced by liberty, or Adam Smith, or David Ricardo:

Molson-Coors warned in a statement, "Like most brewers, we are selling an increasing amount of our beers in aluminum cans and this action will cause aluminum prices to rise and is likely to lead to job losses across the beer industry." The company contends that domestically, "there simply isn't enough supply to satisfy the demands of American beverage makers."

Hat-tip: Jim Geraghty

But jk thinks:

I truly hope you're right that this is tactical and we end up in a very different place. I just said the same on a Facebook thread without having read this. So, yeah, it is possible.

(The TV news this morning did a long segment on "President for Life." I concede that his enemies go too far. BUT.)

But he campaigned as a protectionist. And he has wide latitude under this "Section 232." And he has Peter Nevarro hanging around.

I do not find the "predatory competitors" argument at all persuasive. The bulk of our Steel imports come from friendly nations and the numbers fro domestic production have been strong. To blunderbuss domestic auto and appliance production and risk retaliation over Chinese steel that is 2% and change if imports is indefensible.

A dime a beer case, $175 a car, $1 million on a plane -- it is all contrary to the spirit of liberty and very well established economics.

Posted by: jk at March 5, 2018 11:26 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Disclaimer: I don't aim to argue or persuade, merely to share "alternative" points of view.

I found authoritative data on this subject here. [PDF]

I'll begin with a Trump counterfactual. He has called America's steel industry "dead" due to unfair competition, but American steel production and consumption have been in the neighborhood of 80 MMT (million metric tons) and 100 MMT, respectively, since 2010. So we're importing 20% of our steel. A recent theory that this is a NAFTA renegotiation ante suddenly makes more sense than "saving American steel."

And while Canadia is indeed our number one import source, Mexico is number four. Note that these are our two NAFTA partners.

Further, Russia is number five. Wasn't the failed Democratic candidate for president just saying that POTUS needed to get tough with the Russians? (Okay, I'm being flippant.)

The rest of the top ten import sources are Brazil, South Korea, Turkey, Japan, Taiwan, Germany and India. These guys should cross their fingers that Canadia and Mehico play ball on NAFTA as fast as possible.


As for Trump's off-the-record joke with the press (did I mention he was kidding?) we may as well go ahead and describe it the way media members heard it with their ears and felt it with their hearts: "Fuhrer Trump." I'm sympathetic because I would have freaked out if Obama said it, even in jest. But in the end I must conclude that the compliant, complicit, double-standard news media in this country thoroughly deserves to have it pointed out to them that, as bad as they think he is, other world leaders (like China's) are much worse. Not that they even recognize the fact but, news flash, Xi Jinping is NOT kidding.

And finally, I don't have numbers for the tariff hikes on a car but I do for a Boeing jetliner - $33,000. That's .013% of the cost of a 787. (And just 3.3% of your own estimate.) Taking the $175 auto estimate on faith though, a driver could recoup that by recycling a case of beer cans per day for a year!

Gotta go - Professor Cutsinger is on line 1.

Posted by: johngalt at March 5, 2018 3:57 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I almost forgot...

You cited "very well established economics." My Bud drinkin' buddies call this by various names:

Status quo
Hedge Fund Corporatist B.S.
Swamp Business
NeverTrump mutual "back-scratching" rules.

In November 2016 a plurality of American voters decided it was time to change the established rules. I, for one, can't blame them.

Posted by: johngalt at March 5, 2018 4:03 PM
But jk thinks:

Speaking of that fellow who used to be President, how would you have felt had he presented a ruse of a phony national security scare so that he could enact a favored policy? Because that's the best-case scenario of the President's tactics.

Would you agree there is (subtract five, carry the one...) exactly zero national security risk of our proud nation's importing steel from our great allies? If we lose China and Russia, that's a blip.

So, Section 232 is a ruse -- there is no compelling national security interest. But it is a very convenient loophole for bypassing Congress so that he can have a bargaining chip in his high-stakes renegotiation of nafta. That's bad, right? Had President Obama pulled a similar stunt to fund SCHIP we'd've been pissed, right?

My numbers came from Peter Nevarro's appearance on FOX News Sunday through the imperfect medium of my memory -- exacerbated by the physical pain I was in hearing his explanations.

I guess the American consumer can always afford to pay more taxes. You're right -- it's really just "crumbs" when I think of it.

Posted by: jk at March 5, 2018 7:01 PM
But jk thinks:

Were Adam Smith, David Ricardo, Larry Kudlow, Art Laffer, Walter Williams, Don Boudreaux, Fredrich Hayek, Milton Friedman, Henry Hazlitt and Frederic Bastiat wrong? And an electoral-representation-of-a-plurality of American voters right?


I'm in a reflective mood. I read all but a few pages of Steven Pinker's "Enlightenment Now" over the weekend and just finished Nassim Taleb's ninth appearance on EconTalk. Two of the most esteemed intellects on the planet, and two that challenge my core beliefs very deeply. And I got a more brutal thrashing last week than even you did.

The common thread is holding core truths even as ancillary beliefs are shaken. From Pinker: do I love Enlightenment values and modernity more than I fear government? From Taleb: how can I dismiss "the God of risk assessment" when he spurns GMOs?

I cannot, however say "some Things were bad before Donald Trump was President, ergo, everything he disagrees with is right." Some things I believed in before he was president are still right.

Posted by: jk at March 5, 2018 7:10 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Well said all the way 'round. We're of a mostly like mind. Perhaps the biggest reason for my Trumpism sanguinity is that this president and the swamp are at loggerheads, not lockstep. The latter is what really scares the crap out of me. c.f. Obama. Bush.

Posted by: johngalt at March 6, 2018 3:03 PM

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