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March 29, 2015

Hobbesian America

I had been considering an essay on the Hatfields and McCoys as underscoring the importance of property rights. And I intended to build it into an argument against anarchy. Before I could put fingers to keyboard, I saw that Robert Nozick had already done the heavy lifting:

In a state of nature, the understood natural law may not provide for every contingency in a proper fashion (see sections 159 and 160 where Locke makes this point about legal systems, but contrast section 124), and men who judge in their own case will always give themselves the benefit of the doubt and assume that they are in the right. They will overestimate the amount of harm or damage they have suffered, and passions will lead them to attempt to punish others more than proportionately and to exact excessive compensation (sects. 13, 124, 125). Thus private and personal enforcement of one’s rights (including those rights that are violated when one is excessively punished) leads to feuds, to an endless series of acts of retaliation and exactions of compensation. -- Nozick, Robert (2013-11-12). Anarchy, State, and Utopia (p. 11). Basic Books. Kindle Edition.

You can look forward to a full Review Corner next week (or, perhaps, make other plans...)

Lisa Alther, in her book Blood Feud [Review Corner], makes the suggestion that the whole contretemps could have been short circuited. Had the (Hatfield) Judge, instead of ruling against the (McCoy) plaintiff in a dispute over ownership of a small pig, said "I cannot tell who owns it. let's roast it outside the courthouse next Saturday," perhaps America's most famous feud would have been avoided.

Blaming Anarcho-Capitalism leaves me exposed. Didn't you just mention an established government court? Did not the disputed extradition across state lines make it al the way to the US Supreme Court in Hatfied v. McCoy? Whose idea of anarchy is that, jk?

I state that post-War Appalachia was Hobbesian, even with the trappings of an inchoate state. The Judge is presented both in Altehr's book and the Kevin Costner miniseries as a man of probity and fairness. But both families were what Nozick calls a dominant protective association. The questionable disposition of pork products did not occasion an appeal or a civil suit, but violence.

Then, when property rights in one's own person were compromised, the escalation, pacé Nozick, happened outside legal channels with each family bringing in "hired guns" with a very loose affiliation with state sanctioned law enforcement. Three McCoys are held captive and executed by Hatfield family members. One suspects there was not a lot of due process.

It was a more orderly time than Hobbes's Civil War which inspired "Leviathan," but there was a failure of government to protect property rights. Private and quasi-private "protective associations" filled the void -- but the result was not an anarchist utopia. Rather, life was nasty, brutish, and short.

March 27, 2015

Boulder DA - Life Begins at Inhalation

District Attorney Stan Garnett (D-People's Republic of Boulder) will not pursue murder charges against a woman who forcibly removed a 7 month fetus from her mother, killing the child.

"Colorado law defines homicide as the killing of a person by another," Garnett said.

Fine so far, except that this terse definition doesn't make any allowance for self-defense.

"A person does not include a fetus, even if the child is born following the injury that ultimately leads to its death. It's on this point of law that Colorado is absolutely unambiguous." [emphasis mine]

Garnett continued:

"A prosecutor cannot file murder charges when a baby that is killed has not lived outside the womb," he said. "District attorneys do not decide the law. They enforce it as it is written."

As much as I disagree with the law as written, I can't disagree here. But a decision was made in this case:

"At this time, neither the autopsy or the investigation have provided any evidence that the baby exhibited any signs of life outside of the womb, therefore the circumstance is not being considered a live birth," [County Coroner Emma] Hall [D-People's Republic of Boulder] wrote. [emphasis mine]

I'm left wondering what Ms. Hall might consider "evidence that the baby exhibited any signs of life outside the womb." Her first report card, perhaps?

Garnett said it had been widely reported that witness David Ridley told Longmont police immediately after the incident that he had seen the baby, named Aurora, take a gasping breath.

"Upon a more thorough examination of this witness by the Longmont Police Department, the witness clarified that Aurora was still and her mouth was open, but she was not breathing," Garnett said.

The ol' "didn't inhale" defense. Well, with every measure of respect Mr. District Attorney, bullshit. This juror believes the witness' initial statement, not the one obtained by police officers in your county "upon a more thorough examination" and after he realized or was informed that a breathing baby is a murder victim. And the witness did not even see the baby until the suspect had transported her across town. If she was still taking a "gasping breath" at that time, she was clearly breathing in some manner or other before then.

So the child/baby/fetus that was ripped from her mother will receive only as much justice as a charge of "first-degree attempted murder" and some assault charges. And the suspect will walk on that charge because she didn't injure any of the mother's vital organs, so couldn't have been attempting her murder and, as the DA so has so speciously explained, "a person does not include a fetus."

If a child takes a breath in a bathtub and there is no medical examiner there to hear it, does it really make a sound?

How can these people sleep at night?

UPDATE: [8:38 am MDT 3/28] I gave more thought to the legal fig leaf Garnett is standing behind in this case. Namely, "District attorneys do not decide the law. They enforce it as it is written."

I thought he may have weighed in on last year's gay marriage controversy, where several counties including Boulder began issuing same-sex marriage licenses in contravention of federal law within days of a 10th Circuit Court ruling the federal law unconstitutional, despite the ruling having been stayed. Apparently he did not. However, he did have something to say on the matter in 2010 during his campaign against incumbent Colorado Attorney General John Suthers, when a Massachusetts judge made a similar ruling:

"This decision is an appropriate endorsement of states' rights and local control, respecting the right of individual states to resolve important and controversial issues for themselves. As Attorney General, I will work to uphold the will of Colorado voters." [emphasis mine]

Despite this pledge to essentially "decide the law" for Coloradoans, Garnett lost the campaign for Attorney General - but should Colorado voters not expect him to live up to his own pledge as the Boulder District Attorney?

This isn't directly comparable, as the "will of Colorado voters" in the present case is expressed by the large number of individuals who made their opinion known to the DA rather than by ballot initiative. But the principle remains - in some cases the law "as written" is unjust.

But jk thinks:

I have some very unpopular and contrarian views on this. I thought if anyone I knew might be in my camp, it might be my blog brother jg. As the great philosopher Peter Green of Fleetwood Mac said: "Oh, well."

This is a horrific crime and excruciating tragedy. I rarely quote Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (who -- as far as I know never played for Fleetwood Mac), but his famous dictum applies here:

Great cases like hard cases make bad law. For great cases are called great, not by reason of their importance... but because of some accident of immediate overwhelming interest which appeals to the feelings and distorts the judgment.

DA Garnett is applying the law as written -- a value for which I stand fulsomely. Our Republican legislators will again make a quest to pass "personhood." This has failed badly at the polls, twice, and in the State Legislature. It shall be revived now as "So-and-so's Law" to provide justice.

The alleged perpetrator is deeply disturbed and subject to many serious charges. That one of them is not named "murder" may not seem right, but appreciation for rule of law is right.

Posted by: jk at March 29, 2015 10:17 AM
But johngalt thinks:

We discussed this briefly at family potluck last night and I concluded it is a conflict between two important principles: "Innocent until proven guilty" and "alive until proven dead." Which may prevail in a court of law is anyone's guess. But it should not matter. The Unborn Victims of Violence Act, codified in 2004 at the federal level and adopted in some form by 38 states not including Colorado, impresses me as good law. My less than thorough understanding is that Colorado's "Personhood" initiatives overreached and thus sealed their fate. An initiative seeking to "adopt in Colorado law the federal law criminalizing the murder of unborn children with a clear and specific exception for abortion" would, it seems to me, pass with a large majority. The laboratories of democracy seem to agree with your and my conclusion that failing to try this assailant for murder (and instead try her for attempted murder of, whom, the mother?) does "not seem right."

More than jailing this monster for as long as is deserved, I seek to change Colorado law so that it reflects "the will of the people" in protecting individual liberty. And I seek to shame Boulder's Coroner and DA who, it is my firm belief, could have found the needed evidence if they had looked for it. And further shaming the DA for his convenient conversion to "law as written" absolving him from any duty of professional judgment.

Posted by: johngalt at March 29, 2015 11:43 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I will yield on the charge of "murder" as the suspect did not appear to intend the child's death. To the contrary, she claimed her as her own newborn child. So the proper charges seem to be kidnapping and manslaughter.

But the point of the discussion is whether or not the newborn is a human life in the eyes of the law. That this even requires debate is a ludicrous byproduct of a misguided debate over abortion rights.

Posted by: johngalt at March 29, 2015 12:43 PM

Media Study

With apologies to Kübler and Ross, I went through five stages of grief over Instapundit's "Teach Women not to Rape" series.

  • Denial: Is he really doing this?
  • Anger: will he stop?
  • Bargaining: I'll buy some gear on Amazon if he'll stop
  • Depression: he's not going to stop.

But now, I have not only reached Acceptance, I accept that he is correct.

One of the great tools in the media toolkit is the steady drip. Shark bites is the textbook case: "Man, another shark bite? This happens ALL THE TIME." But Insty's constant reports of sexual malfeasance are amazing.

I am reminded of the Catholic church's problems. One can point to some differences, but I'll point out similarities: people in a trusted position misused that position to take advantage of young people for whom they were acting in loco parentis. The priests got the drip treatment: "Another? This happens all the time." For those who do not read Insty every day, he has one almost every day. Generally a public school teacher having various degrees of inappropriate (and don't mean holding hands) behavior with minor students, male or female.

The perps, however, are all female. And Reynolds's point is that a male teacher would never get the light treatment -- mutatis mutandis. He's got a point, though I am unenlightened troglodyte enough to accept a punishment differential.

But the silence speaks volumes [ED: cliché, replace!] If the Today Show covered these with Reynolds's regularity, I can't help but feel the nation would rise up in arms, as they did to the Catholic Church.

And, if they covered Benghazi or the IRS Scandal like Watergate . . . oh, never mind.

But johngalt thinks:

So this teacher is a "person in a position of trust" huh? She's 24! The "kid" is 15! Whose idea was it to teach adolescent boys using COEDS! What is this, entrapment?

Posted by: johngalt at March 27, 2015 4:09 PM
But jk thinks:

Okay. Swap the genders -- does it still engender jocularity?

Posted by: jk at March 27, 2015 4:38 PM
But johngalt thinks:

No, in that case it has me looking for my shotgun.

Posted by: johngalt at March 27, 2015 5:35 PM
But AndyN thinks:

jg - Is the selective outrage because of the sex of the assailant or the victim? At least a few that Insty has linked recently have been female victims of female assailants.

Posted by: AndyN at March 27, 2015 11:32 PM
But johngalt thinks:

The assailant - definitely the assailant.

The dictionary definition of "rape" is sexual penetration of one person by another (of any orifice by any object) without the consent of the victim.

And apparently "statutory rape" is an American invention circa 1930. I can't tell when the definition was changed from "a girl" to "a person" but the British Dictionary still has what I consider to be the correct definition: "the criminal offence of having sexual intercourse with a girl who has not reached the age of consent." [emphasis mine]

Posted by: johngalt at March 28, 2015 10:25 AM
But jk thinks:

The United States of America has invented many wonderful things. If I can add "statutory rape" to the list, I will do so with pride.

I do not appreciate its being used to prosecute a 19 year old with a 17 year old girlfriend, but I think my blog brother is ignoring the difference in authority and power: a teacher, supervisor, or President of the United States has a power differential with a student, employee, or intern. Any sexual relationship in such a circumstance needs to be carefully considered.

I do not accept that a minor of any gender is legally empowered to make that subtle determination, so I support prosecuting the adult of any gender who can.

Posted by: jk at March 29, 2015 10:29 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Agreed in principle - but do we need a look-up table of acceptable/unacceptable age pairings? And would they differ by gender? One wonders if this is why other nations try to keep law out of personal relations.

Posted by: johngalt at March 29, 2015 11:29 AM

Tweet of the Day


But johngalt thinks:

"We're very much, the three of us, as a package" is followed by the question, "What about a possible replacement for Jeremy? Who would you be prepared to work with? Who would you like to work with?"

Excuse me, what? Jeremy's not the only "knob."

I'm looking forward to the new show: 'Three Idiots Gear' broadcast on HBO, Netflix, somewhere like that.

Posted by: johngalt at March 27, 2015 1:05 PM
But jk thinks:

They were clearly pushing him a lot further than he wanted to go. I'll go on record as giving props to May and Hammond for their solidarity to date. They're walking away from the BBC's biggest show.

If Paul Gigot calls me for a cushy WSJ gig -- sorry lads, I don't have the same rectitude.

Posted by: jk at March 27, 2015 1:36 PM

March 26, 2015

All Hail Taranto!


Posted by John Kranz at 4:34 PM | What do you think? [0 comments]

Press Conferences We'd Like to See

Real question from Jonathan Karl, ABC News's White House correspondent :

Karl: Josh, just a quick one first on Yemen. I know you're asked this every time something terrible happens in Yemen. But now that we have essentially complete chaos in Yemen, does the White House still believe that Yemen is the model for a counterterrorism strategy?

jk's imagined answer:
Earnest: Hell Jon, the White House continues to believe that ObamaCare® is a success!

James Taranto offers the real answer -- and it's worse.

But nanobrewer thinks:

*Sigh* I miss Taranto... the guys at PowerLine are powerful writers, well informed and incisive, but I just felt better after chuckling so much over the news....

If I ever get settled job-wise, I'll have to pay the WSJ for access... have wanted to forever.

Posted by: nanobrewer at March 26, 2015 11:20 PM

March 25, 2015


I've seen what Andy N complained about routinely: write / preview / then "kaboom" Intertnal syste-server-error and the post is all gone. I've just learned to copy to clipboard after I've done a Preview in the Comment Pane, and go back into the Comments and *Paste*

Sorry I didn't think to post this to SysAdmin before. It happens nearly every time, and this is a newer computer than the previous model with the same problem. I can blame FireFox, but I've not verified that Chrome or IE is immune to this.... still, fun to blame FF after what they did to their CEO.

But jk thinks:

I get that if I mistype the password (but in IE you can right-click and choose "Back.")

I implemented this homegrown CAPTCHA-kinda-thing and never got the error handling right. I was ready to give up blogging at the time because the spam-bots were so bad that I spent all my time cleaning up after them. Our little password system is unsophisticated and arcane and sadly scares off some new commenters. But it has restored my life.

I could replace it with real CAPTCHA, but I've come to enjoy the progression of Buffy names, Guitar products, and jazz musicians.

Huh. I never knew CAPTCHA was an acronym.

Posted by: jk at March 26, 2015 9:30 AM
But jk thinks:

ALSO: you can get this error if you have too many links in your comment (belt-and-suspenders approach to SPAM-bots).

In that instance, email me jk [at] threesources [dot] com and I can release your message from "comment timeout."

If you get the first though, "she's dead, Jim."

Posted by: jk at March 26, 2015 9:38 AM
But jk thinks:

Use case: I never "Preview" (but it worked this time).

Posted by: jk at March 26, 2015 9:41 AM
But AndyN thinks:

It does happen with Chrome as well. I've had it happen before and knew that copying my comment beforehand is an easy workaround, but I use preview so infrequently that I forgot.

I think the problem with the password system is that, to me at least, it wasn't completely clear what it was for. The first time I tried to comment and got an error, I wasn't using the password because it's proximity to the "Remember personal info?" line led me to infer that the password was needed if you were saving your info.

Posted by: AndyN at March 26, 2015 11:27 AM
But johngalt thinks:

IE is largely immune to this problem, but it happens sometimes. If you know you're going to write a lengthy comment, try composing it in a local text editor and then cut/paste into the comment widget.

I see that "post" is now the default button (bold text.) Sometimes I hit enter after typing the password and I get a preview. Then I think the comment was posted and leave without posting. Did you change this recently admin? [Actually, preview is still the default. I just tried it.]

Posted by: johngalt at March 26, 2015 1:39 PM
But jk thinks:

I played a bit with the design to put the password image nearer the textbox. Kinda ugly, but if I crop in tight on the words, that might be nice.

Posted by: jk at March 26, 2015 3:17 PM
But jk thinks:


Posted by: jk at March 26, 2015 3:56 PM
But AndyN thinks:

I think you should have left it the way it was. I'm not particularly bright, and I figured out how the old way worked after one failure. I'm not entirely sure you really want to read what people even less bright than I am have to write.

Posted by: AndyN at March 26, 2015 7:11 PM
But jk thinks:

We might get some knuckle-draggin', science-denyin', global warming opponents dropping by -- I sure want to make it easy for them.

Posted by: jk at March 26, 2015 7:29 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"Global warming opponent?" Oh, you mean rube shamer. [first comment]

Posted by: johngalt at March 27, 2015 1:17 PM

Snowball's chance in hell

My Facebook feed exploded when Senator James Inhofe (Denier - OK) threw a snowball on the Senate to further his claim that "Global Warming is a Hoax." Inhofe's stunt was easy to mock and I'm not sure I agree. But the response surprised even me. Ozzy bit the head off a live bat and elicited a similar response.

Somehow, I'm not expecting the same old sturm und drang over this:

Virginia Democratic Rep. Don Beyer repeated the claim that more than 7,000 Americans were killed by "climate change-fueled" natural disasters last year in an attempt to tie burning fossil fuels with extreme weather.

The claim, however, is patently false, according to Politifact. It's also a horribly misleading based on the data.

It was the whole world, not the US. And it included earthquakes which are not climate related.

I contend the correct number is zero. Every death from a storm is tragic, but to say that it would not have happened without 1°C warming is specious on a grand scale.

But johngalt thinks:

Think about it this way - Skeptical independent thinkers, branded "deniers" by their detractors, ask for more and better evidence of something before completely reorganizing and reprioritizing their life around it. Conversely, the detractors lap up every drop of the revealed Truth of self-avowed "experts" (as long as they have the proper scientific letters after their name) and are willing to follow said experts over any cliff, no matter how high. And the skeptics are the ones who are supposedly "anti-science?"

This is like saying that King Arthur was "pro-science" in sparing the life of "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court" when he predicted an eclipse of which he had prior knowledge. Another way to look at it is that King Arthur was a rube.

Posted by: johngalt at March 25, 2015 5:50 PM

Peaceful Islam?

'Heretic' a new book by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, makes a philosophical case for the reforms needed to make Islam a modern faith, compatible with the rest of the modern world. Writing in the WSJ she listed five critical reforms:

1. Muhammad’s semi-divine status, along with the literalist reading of the Quran. (...) The Quran’s eternal spiritual values must be separated from the cultural accidents of the place and time of its birth.

2. The supremacy of life after death.
The appeal of martyrdom will fade only when Muslims assign a greater value to the rewards of this life than to those promised in the hereafter.

3. Shariah, the vast body of religious legislation.
Muslims should learn to put the dynamic, evolving laws made by human beings above those aspects of Shariah that are violent, intolerant or anachronistic.

4. The right of individual Muslims to enforce Islamic law.
There is no room in the modern world for religious police, vigilantes and politically empowered clerics.

5. The imperative to wage jihad, or holy war.
Islam must become a true religion of peace, which means rejecting the imposition of religion by the sword.

A story in The West Australian quotes AHA from her book:

"It simply will not do for Muslims to claim that their religion has been 'hijacked' by extremists," she said.

A reformation, similar to that in Judaism and Christianity over the centuries, was necessary, Ali wrote.

"We need to hold Islam accountable for the acts of its most violent adherents and to demand that it reform or disavow the key beliefs that are used to justify those acts."[emphasis mine]

I heard a statement in a news report yesterday that sounded possibly like this, and went searching for it today. It was made by the current President of the Islamic Republic... of Afghanistan, Mohammad Ashraf Ghani.

President Ghani stressed, “We have the capacity to speak truth to terror. Terrorists do not speak for Islam -- we do. And it's the genuine Islam that is interested in dialogue between civilizations and cooperation and endeavor forward.”

He added, “These [terrorists] are not classic national liberation movements; these are destructive, nihilistic movements. And it's essential that we confront them with vigor and determination.”

Perhaps not a direct call for "reform" of Islam, but dialog and cooperation, and trade mentioned elsewhere, are some of the end results of such reform.

His true intentions are further revealed in his remarks on an incident in front of a Mosque in Kabul last week:

No individual is allowed to make oneself a judge and use violence to punish others in degrading manners. Launching personal trials and choosing who to punish stands in clear contradiction to Sharia and Islamic justice.

The government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan condemns yesterday's act of extreme violence and makes it clear that ensuring justice is only the duty of courts and whoever engages in violent acts outside law will be dealt with strongly.

The government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan also condemns in strong terms any action that causes disrespect to the Holy Quran and Islamic values.

We Muslims are all obliged to protect the sanctity of the Holy Quran but only within the instructions and principles of Islam.

Hopeful, perhaps.


While my blog brother takes to ThreeSources to point out the dangerous racism of Tesla motor vehicles, Holman Jenkins lays down some obvious on the WSJ Ed Page. Tesla's whole business plan is to get bought out by an automaker to balance its efficiency portfolio for Federal regulation. Until then, it can limp along (at a high market cap, all admit) by treading water on the flood of subsidies and mandates.

And all the while, Libertarians will cheer Elon Musk. But this is not a rant. Put the caps lock key away, son... Besides, Jenkins takes some whacks on my behest:

In what way, then, is Tesla disruptive, the fanboy description of companies that come along and render obsolete what went before?

Good question. When a user leaves his driveway in a Tesla, he still wastes time staring out a windshield and gripping a wheel. He still sits in traffic. As with any other car, Tesla's electronics are long out of date before the car's useful life has expired. As with any other car, a Tesla owner ties up thousands of dollars in a piece of equipment that sits idle 95% of the time. Uber is disruptive. Tesla isn't. Tesla is disruptive mostly of a driver's confidence that he's going to reach his destination without needing a tow.

Tesla solves no problem of the automobile. It only creates a new problem.

But johngalt thinks:

Ummm, more than one new problem.

In Alberta, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia, electric cars generate more carbon pollution over their lifetimes than gas-powered cars, according to Chris Kennedy, a professor of civil engineering at the University of Toronto...
Posted by: johngalt at March 25, 2015 12:44 PM
But jk thinks:

Gotta break some eggs to make an omelet!

The Jenkins piece is a cry to short Tesla. One good Saskatchewanian report or -- NED freakin' forfend -- the election of a Ted Cruz or Rand Paul and their value could plumment.

Posted by: jk at March 25, 2015 1:42 PM
But AndyN thinks:

I know it's off topic, but I'm too cheap to pay for a subscription and read the whole thing to find out for myself. Does the column explain how, exactly, Uber is disruptive?

My understanding is that Uber just provides a minimal amount of screening of drivers and cars who can be hired directly by people in need of a ride. While conceptually it's a nice step away from the over-reaching regulatory state, functionally it looks to me like a modest compromise with the status quo ante cab system. The consumer can usually get a ride for a better price than by calling a cab, but in exchange puts his safety in the hands of someone whose only qualification was owning a relatively new car and being able to pass a test that every teenage boy in the country can pass.

Don't get me wrong, I don't think anybody should be stopping Uber from doing their thing, I think they should live or die on the strength of what the market thinks of them. I just doubt that they'll ever be anything close to disruptive of that market.

Posted by: AndyN at March 25, 2015 2:03 PM
But jk thinks:

@AndyN: I can send the article if you'd like, but it's really about Tesla's market cap being overly contingent on Federal subsidies and regulations.

Uber is just thrown out as a comparison, but I'll play.

Uber is not disruptive to cabs (well it is, but...) Uber is disruptive to car ownership. I even thought about it as I posted the excerpt. My love for my little MR2 is well known 'round these parts. But do I need a car?

I work from home. I have <60,000 miles on an eleven-year-old vehicle. I could scrap insurance and maintenance and just call Uber or Lyft when I want to go to Starbucks -- and probably come out spending less.

If that's not appealing -- and I confess it isn't to me, Uber replaces the second car of the exurban couple and the first car of the urban single millennial. As it becomes more popular or more automated, ride-sharing becomes a better substitute to car ownership. That disrupts parking, maintenance and all the cottage industries around private vehicle ownership.

You would not be the only doubter around ThreeSources (I may be the only believer) but you must admit that a move from ownership to sharing changes everything. Jenkins's point is that a move to EVs changes gas stations (and they probably just trade a row of pumps for chargers).

On the safety issue I will push back. I think that has been overblown, if not by big-Taxi, by luddites in general. There are some pretty horrific tales of very bad things from taxi drivers. The protection is not from Uber's comprehensive check -- it is from the rating. You only select a driver with a high and frequent ratings if you're a young woman coming home late from a bar. The safety is crowdsourced.

Every bad incident gets a lot of press -- I don't think that is a fair proxy for the relative safety.

Posted by: jk at March 25, 2015 2:35 PM
But AndyN thinks:

jk - I just spent too much time typing out a thorough response, previewed it, hit post and had it blow up. I'm taking that as a sign that I need to be less verbose and prolix, so I'll just summarize.

The only reason Uber jumped out at me here is because I just read a cabbie's take on it last night - http://taxicabdepressions.com/?p=1759. I think the most important point he raised is that even if a cabbie isn't inherently safer, an Uber driver who screws up doesn't have commercial insurance to make you whole.

I think Uber is even less of a threat to private car ownership than it is to traditional cab companies. Too few of us base our transportation budgets on strict cost/benefit analyses. This is still a nation where full-size pickups are consistently among the top selling vehicles. Before people embrace the (possible) practicality of ride sharing, I'd expect them to at least take the baby step of not buying a fuel-guzzling cargo vehicle to use as a passenger car.

Posted by: AndyN at March 25, 2015 4:43 PM
But johngalt thinks:

And they do AndyN, many of them, just not me or you. I think Holman's point of including Uber in this discussion was to illustrate just what it is to be "disruptive." It means a fundamental change in things, not just fueling your self-driven conveyance at a different "pump."

What you seem to be hung up on is the magnitude of Uber's disruption. I think we'd all agree that, for now, it is relatively small. But so was the horseless carriage in its infancy.

Posted by: johngalt at March 25, 2015 5:29 PM
But jk thinks:

AndyN -- as ThreeSources' sysadmin, accept my sincerest apologies for technical failure.

Okay, let's put time scales on it and see if we cannot all get along. Short term, yes, Uber is much more of a threat to BigYellowTaxi; that is why they are fighting it tooth and nail. Long term, however -- and the reason for Mister Jenkins to call it disruptive -- is its potential to affect car ownership (disagree or not, there is potential).

Yes, they'll have to pry the steering wheel of brother jg's awesome 70 'Cuda from his cold dead fingers. I look at Lyft as Uber as transition to driverless cars. Yeah, we all like to read Kerouac, but commuting everyday, why not get driven and recapture the time you'd have spent. No parking, no insurance, no maintenance, no tipping the valet -- you get door to door service everywhere you go.

That is an appealing vision, and just the changes in parking qualify as disruptive. We can build bars on all those parking lots.

I get Uber and Lyft confused but at least one adds substantive insurance on top of what drivers are required to carry. There was a big contretemps over whether it is in effect on the way to pick up a client, but once the rider is onboard, he or she has that. I'm pretty skeptical of the cabdriver's word.

Lots of reasons for a truck, but I might turn your argument around. One buys for one's largest need. Maybe if truck-sharing becomes popular, you buy the Camry and call LyftGate when you need to go to Home Depot.

Oh, and 20,000 - 30,000 fewer people die every year. There's that. DUI, handicapped, 73-year old 60's icons...

Posted by: jk at March 25, 2015 5:35 PM

March 24, 2015

Immigration Man

Is that what David Crosby (age 73) thought he was when he clipped a jogger named Jose Jimenez with his Tesla at 50 miles per hour?

According to the CHP, Crosby was going the speed limit--55 mph--and he didn't see Jimenez off to his right because he was driving into the sun.

"I'm sorry officer, I didn't see the red light because I was driving west near sunset." Are you kidding me? What if George W. Bush had hit a jogger with a Spanish surname while driving his SUV? [My dollar is in the mail.]

A CHP spokesperson says that Jimenez was the one who was on the wrong side of the road, because California law requires pedestrians to be walking/running against traffic when they're outside of a residential or business zone (this was a rural road) and he should have been on the left; while the incident is still being investigated, they do not expect to be filing any charges against Crosby.

However, the office noted, a pedestrian's action doesn't excuse drivers from exercising due caution while behind the wheel.

Ya think?

But jk thinks:

If I recall, Mister Crosby is pretty well known to the law enforcement community out there.

Posted by: jk at March 25, 2015 9:57 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Oh screw it, I'm gonna take a whack at the Tesla after all:

How much blame is due the vehicle itself, for its near noiseless operation, in "sneaking up" on the unsuspecting "lawless" jogger and his son?

And I might as well whack the absurdity of immigration (and most other) law:

Anyone willing to bet me that despite the victim potentially being cited for walking on a roadway illegally, nobody will inquire of his legal residency status? "Immigrate here however you please, but don't you dare walk on the wrong side of the road!"

Posted by: johngalt at March 25, 2015 11:26 AM
But jk thinks:

I take some Tesla whacks one post up. But, in all fairness and a rare bit of magnanimity to Musk: David Crosby has proven to be dangerous with any implement in his posession: "OMG!!! Lookout! It's David Crosby . . . and he has SALAD TONGS!!!"

My blog brother assumes every Jose Jimenez in the Golden State is likely in violation of immigration law?

Posted by: jk at March 25, 2015 11:41 AM
But jk thinks:

Props for the headline, BTW. Awesome.

Posted by: jk at March 25, 2015 11:53 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I admit the weakness of my example in the implication that every swarthy gent be asked for his "papers please" but I meant it as illustration of the inverted hierarchy of law enforcement. However much (or little) importance one places on enforcement of immigration law, jaywalking can scarcely be more important.

How about a compromise then, with the Administrative State. We'll let them outlaw "jaywalking on westward proceeding avenues at sunset." Lest they dent some innocent passerby's expensive fender.

Posted by: johngalt at March 25, 2015 12:42 PM
But johngalt thinks:

And... it was the central element of the awesome headline.

Posted by: johngalt at March 25, 2015 12:46 PM
But jk thinks:

I'm thinking some government funded Public Service Announcements. Maybe the First Lady can get involved: #letswalksafe or #lookthefuckoutitsdavidcrosby

Posted by: jk at March 25, 2015 1:46 PM
But johngalt thinks:

HAHAHAHAHAHA! Going to get towels now, for wiping coffee from screen.

Posted by: johngalt at March 25, 2015 2:26 PM

Damned Improper if you ask me.

The WSJ Ed Page reports $124.7 billion in last week's GAO report classified as "improper payments" and defines it as "Washington circumlocution for money that flows to someone who is not eligible, or to the right beneficiary in the wrong amount, or vanishes to fraud or federal accounting incompetence. "

The Government Accountability Office reported the new 2014 figure last week, which is a $19 billion or 17.9% year-over-year increase. The overall error rate ticked up to 4.5% of outlays from 4% in 2013. Improper payments are spread across 124 programs among 22 agencies, but some 65% are concentrated in three areas.

One is the earned-income tax credit, the transfer program meant for the working poor with its error rate of 27.2%. That means nearly three of 10 dollars were in some way undeserved--and the Treasury Inspector General thinks the real share is closer to four or even five of 10. The GAO says the causes are "inability to authenticate requirements, improper income reporting, and inability to verify income before processing returns." Is that all?

Naturally, the White House has proposed a major expansion of this credit, and there's bipartisan support in Congress.

Jay Cost [Review Corner] call your office! They may not know where the $124,700,000,000.53 went, but you can bet the body part of your choice that it went to constituencies.

But johngalt thinks:

It's alright, Obama's "stash" is big enough to cover it.

Posted by: johngalt at March 24, 2015 3:55 PM

March 23, 2015

Reason Does Review Corner

Follow-up on [Review Corner]:

But johngalt thinks:

"The American character flits to and fro on the question of its role in the world." Fair cop. Why keep bloodying our knuckles on the chin of the world's bullies when all the other kids on the playground insist on judging US the "bad guy?" Suffer the whims of bullies for a while, kids.

Posted by: johngalt at March 23, 2015 6:56 PM

Jesus Wept.


And, seeing my biological brother "liked" this, I did too....

But johngalt thinks:

"Of all the oceans on all the planets in countless galaxies, you had to cry into mine."

That Jesus - what a heartless warmonger. Isn't that what everyone says?

Posted by: johngalt at March 23, 2015 6:59 PM
But jk thinks:

Complaints about my relatives may be tedious, but this guy is off-the charts smart and -- if you pin him down -- can be quite rational and empathetic. To find this puerile nonsense amusing just breaks my heart.

With apologies to Churchill, it's a strawman, inside a non-sequitor, wrapped in a false accusation.

Posted by: jk at March 23, 2015 7:15 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"Likes" are just so cheap these days, as to be thrown about so carelessly.

Posted by: johngalt at March 23, 2015 8:13 PM


In the worst kept secret ever department, Senator Ted Cruz (R - TX) has announced that he is running for President. Game on. I have hereby added the GOP 2016 Primary category.

Am I in Camp Cruz? I think not. I'll give him a respectful listen, but he starts a couple of rows down. I am far more philosophically inclined to Sen. Rand Paul, and I have great respect for the Executive experience and fortitude of Gov. Scott Walker. But I'll listen to Cruz, and proudly support him if he comes away with the nomination.

Peter Suderman takes a rarely-for-Reason fair look at a GOP contender with "5 Things to Know About Ted Cruz's Run for President."

Suderman handicaps the plusses/minuses of entering first, speculates on his support among different party wings, points out that he's running on a flat tax, and delivers props for opposing Ethanol in The C2H5OH State The Hawkeye State.

UPDATE: Another Reason post is less kind...

Ted Cruz announced his presidential campaign at Liberty University this morning in front of a captive audience of nearly 1,400 students--none of whom had any choice in whether to attend.

That's because all Liberty students are obligated to show up for convocations on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Absenteeism results in "four reprimands and a $10 fine," according to student Eli McGowan, who is president of the campus's Young Americans for Liberty chapter.


UPDATE II: Ann Althouse loves it! She undergoes conversion while liveblogging the speech.

The Speech (Should be watched in full):

But johngalt thinks:

It seems to me you buried the lede. 'Cruz Confronts King Coal' is a big deal, and speaks well of his commitment to consistent principles. Even my early darling Scott Walker went wobbly when he stared down that special interest dragon.

Posted by: johngalt at March 23, 2015 2:31 PM
But johngalt thinks:
5. Cruz is adamantly against ethanol cronyism -- even in Iowa.

"But people are pretty fed up with politicians that run around and tell one group one thing and tell another group another thing. Then they go to Washington and don't do anything they said they would do."

Posted by: johngalt at March 23, 2015 2:40 PM
But jk thinks:

Agreed that props are well deserved for the Ethanol stance -- and confess to disappointment with Gov. "I can kick ISIS ass because I fought the Unions, but an Iowa primary voter wearing an ADM® t-shirt, offering sausage on a stick makes me wet my pants" Walker.

I wonder if my blog brother will be equally supportive of his brave stances for faith and family in Iowa.

At the end of the day, my biggest problems are style (he has been running for President since he was five and comes across as pretty slick) and concern for experience (he is our Obama -- we forgive him because we agree, but he is the same wet-behind-the-ears freshman Senator we elected in 2008.

Posted by: jk at March 23, 2015 3:18 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Insofar as the separation of church and state does NOT infer an abolition of individual faith and family beliefs by members of government, I am supportive of anyone who, bravely or otherwise, asserts his personal beliefs in the public square. I call that "the free market of ideas."

Call me when he wants to legislate faith or family. Then I might have a problem.

As for the "wet-behind-the-ears" complaint, let it not be said that Republicans are incapable of learning and adopting new ideas from Democrats.

Posted by: johngalt at March 23, 2015 5:45 PM
But johngalt thinks:

And I'm also a little disappointed that our bi-coastal blog brothers are so late to comment on this. Everything is always so dry and wry until they show up!

Posted by: johngalt at March 23, 2015 5:47 PM
But jk thinks:

I was a little late getting the paychecks out this month; no doubt they're being passive-aggressive.

I just posted video. And it is a good speech. But I am not wildly comfortable with many of the populist elements. I dunno.

Posted by: jk at March 24, 2015 12:50 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Isn't some populism necessary to win an election? I'm intrigued by his potential to build a coalition that includes Tea Party and so-cons and so-called Reagan democrats.

That, and Rove and Krauthammer don't like him.

Posted by: johngalt at March 24, 2015 3:07 PM

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