May 22, 2013
A good [L|l]ibertarian is offended at receiving good service from the DMV. It invalidates all he or she believes.
I submit this as great example of government "service." Simply pick the range of the first letters of all the cities around you.
Headline of the Day
Father who set up video to capture 'paranormal' activity accidentally films his girlfriend having sex with his teenage son instead -- Daily Mail
It's, like, she thought he'd believe anything...
I must thank blog brother jg for dredging up my old post "On Prosperitarianism." And saying some kind words about it. I think it holds up pretty well from 2008 -- far better than Senator McCain's liberty bona-fides from the same year. (Now, that was just plain mean!)
A quick Bing® search shows the unwieldy neologism has not caught on. Three of the four links returned are ThreeSources (or nascarretards.com). The other is a deeply hidden joke. But a preference for solutions which optimize Prosperity and Liberty seems worthy of a few more hits.
I offer it not as special philosophy but as a branch in the complex ontology of Libertarian thought. Some revel in privacy, absolute property rights -- any one of the ideals of a free society. I certainly like them all -- but I most like the ones which will promote innovation and prosperity. And more controversially, I am more willing than some to trade some absolute and abstract liberty for prosperity. A real Prosperitarian (of which it seems I am still -- like Tigger -- the only one) must concede this point. That's the dark side and we all must be willing to be honest.
I bring this up in the context of an exciting innovation which intrigues me to no end: the self-driving car.
I was only slightly surprised to hear that Greg Beato of Reason is less than enthused allowing Google to track our motion as well as our thoughts. Randall O'Toole denies it, much as I appreciate O'Toole, not totally convincingly.
Timothy B. Lee links to both arguments today and makes a Prosperitarian summary:
Beato is right: Self-driving cars will make it easier for the authorities to track you everywhere you go. But the benefits of self-driving cars are likely to be so enormous that American consumers will sign up in droves, regardless of the privacy implications.
I fear the tort bar will not allow driverless cars. The technology would save tens of thousands of lives every year. But it would completely extirpate the responsibility case law. We can somehow handle 40,000 deaths caused by culpable actors with insurance and sleazy lawyers who advertise on daytime TV. But will Google or Microsoft be sufficiently indemnified if somebody dies for the lack of a closing brace in version 2.04.22? We'll have laws named after victims and coders in prison before we go back to the numerous but litigable fatalities.
If Wally "The Killer Harp Seal" Ventricle, Esq. can be contained, however, I am -- like Lee -- ready to trade privacy for lives saved, fuel saved -- and a sudden billion man-hours of new productivity as commuters can truly focus on their texting and emails.
If the trade "liberty for prosperity" that you acquiesce to is real, and I'm not prepared to agree that it is so, at least not universally, then let it be a trade made by each of us, individually, with a marketplace of choices.
Both descriptions of driverless car technology are correct. There are networked versions and self-contained versions, or evil Googlecars and modern mechanical "Silvers" to carry the road going Lone Rangers. I'll just call them Blue Cars and Red Cars. So as long as America remains the land of the free and the home of the brave, free men and sheep can coexist on the same motorways.
Who knows, maybe Subaru will finally get some competition from "Blue Car."
(And if ours ceases to be "the land of the free" then the roads will again roar with the sound of "V8 Interceptors."
We've serious overlap. I am far less circumspect trading "privacy" away to Google than giving it to government. One can say that's a distinction without difference and they'll certainly fold like a house of cards under the slightest pressure. Yet I hold that it is a choice.
The meaningful comparison here was the cell phone -- it is a huge-to-potentially-devastating infringement on privacy, but we have negotiated acceptable limits.
That is a trade. One can be Mr. or Ms. Pure Privacy and forego the benefits of wireless. I will not join.
jk Sticks it to The Man!
"The Man" being, curiously, a very nice guy named Rob Taylor. Mister Taylor started a guitar factory with a genius-level blend of ancient craftsmanship and modern design and production. If you find yourself in San Diego and are tired of Filipino food in National City, be sure to tour the factory in El Cajon.
I have bought me a bucketload of Taylors over the years, including another great innovation of theirs: nylon string guitars with regular, narrow, radiused necks instead of the flat, wide classical guitar necks. That got sold or traded or given away to some brother-in-law, and I found myself reconnecting with blog friend Sugarchuck's. Time to buy. Birthday's coming up! Johnny's been a very good boy this year...
BUT WAIT! Taylor Guitars not only failed to stand up for Gibson in their contretemps with the US Fish & Game SWAT Team -- they actually released a statement leaning heavily towards gub'mint. I'm not a boycottin' man, but Taylor Guitars are not cheap and it chaps me to send a lot of money to an opponent of liberty.
This little jewel from Cordoba Guitars (nah, I never heard of them either) showed up yesterday:
It's a fine piece: made of Indian Rosewood -- unusual for a top, a lighter wood would be louder, but it has a pickup and a mic built in. I got amps, she'll be plenty loud. It's less bright but very well defined. All in all, very pleasing for half of what I would have spent on the brand that shall not be named any more.
Feeling even better when sc sends this link: Ed Markey cheered gov’t witch hunt against Gibson Guitar. It includes a nice summary of the still unbelievable actions against Gibson, details of the final settlement, and some crowing by Rep (soon to be Senator, Oh boy!) Ed Markey.
Ed Markey was the leading politician pushing to punish Gibson Guitar for what at worst was a paperwork error. Markey didn’t appear to understand that this was about protecting jobs overseas, not at home. Markey was all on board with the demonization of a U.S. company for no good reason other than that the government could.
In this time of IRS overreach, there is a lesson here.
SC assures me that I have bought an "entrapment guitar:" Indian Rosewood and an Ebony fretboard. Heh – wait a minute, there’s somebody at the door…
May 21, 2013
For alls of y'alls that missed it at Liberty on the Rocks -- looks like there's another chance. Stealing this from LOTR-F doyenne, Allison:
Have you heard conflicting stories about fracking? Have you heard rumors about how devastating it can be and are worried about the impact it will have on the earth? It can be super confusing, and knowing even the most basic facts can seem cumbersome. It can't just be me that feels this way.
Will you come with me to a free event tomorrow night at 6:30pm, at the Boulder Marriott (2660 Canyon Blvd, Boulder)? The creator of "Fracknation" will be screening his 1 hour documentary and answering questions about fracking. Did I mention it's free?
CO Guv Race - Early Edition
ThreeSourcers, may I introduce you to Steve Laffey, the anti-Tancredo.
And here's an interview with Jon Caldera.
Colorado's GOP chairman expects at least four others to test the waters and while I like and admire three of them, Laffey looks like a potentially transformational candidate.
UPDATE: Here's the audio of Laffey's official announcement as a candidate for CO Governor, this morning on KFKA's Amy Oliver Show. Best part is the second half of the segment. (Pull slider to the middle or so.)
Saw and enjoyed the interview on TV -- skipped right over my head the intro that Laffey has "been in Colorado for a few years."
He better learn how to pronounce "Ameriker."
Top Three Issues:
Veto Democrat legislature (mentions gun bills)
Political Leadership (marijuana, energy, jobs)
I almost said "he sounds like John F. Kennedy" then heard him mention the former president in his KFKA interview (when he said the CO legislature is NOT JFK Democrats.)
Otequay of the Ayday
The central fact is that after three quarters of a century of extraordinarily mild conditions, the earth's climate seems to be cooling down. Meteorologists [like economists] disagree about the cause and extent of the cooling trend, as well as over its specific impact on local weather conditions. But they are almost unanimous [Consensus?] in the view that the trend will reduce agricultural productivity for the rest of the century. -- Newsweek, April 28, 1975
Related: "Last April, in the most devastating outbreak of tornadoes ever recorded, 148 twisters killed more than 300 people and caused half a billion dollars' worth of damage in thirteen U.S. states." (Same article)
I know ThreeSourcers to be a generous lot; if there's any way: OK Humane Society
OMG! Thanks for sharing! That dog was timed out so well, if this were the Middle East I wouldn't have believed it!
Heh. It is CBS, maybe I should not be so ingenuous.
"CUT!!! No, not surprised enough! Put the dog back under there and try again..."
Quote of the Day
In notable contrast, liberal and "progressive" organizations got approvals with remarkable speed. The most conspicuous example involves the Barack H. Obama Foundation, which was approved as tax exempt within a month by the then-head of the IRS tax-exempt branch, Lois Lerner. -- David Rivkin and Lee Casey
UPDATE: Thanks to blog friend AndyN for due diligence about the Barack H. Obama Foundation. Contrast that with the Kafkaesque treatment of King Street Patriots and True the Vote.
But wait! There's more! Apparently the addresses the foundation gave the IRS are a drug rehab center where nobody has ever heard of them and a UPS store.
Hahahahahahahaha! That is funny! Tea Party groups have to submit a blood sample and every Facebook post and dry cleaning receipt.
You really cannot make this stuff up...
May 20, 2013
Meanwhile, In Buffy News...
Huffington Post (who says there's nothing good there?) enumerates Ten things we like about Buffy (on the Tenth Anniversary of the final episode). Number nine is fun:
Willow And Tara's Relationship
Sure, Willow had a relationship with Oz for a few seasons, but with Tara, the character really came into her own. The two witches brought new life to the series and portrayed a lesbian relationship in a relatively normal and positive light ... until Tara was murdered and Willow turned evil.
Saw (and reposted) this on Facebook thanks to John Pizzarelli's Radio Deluxe. Jimmy Stewart was born 105 years ago today.
Quote of the Day
Gripping entertainment. Can I bear the excitement? As I sip my coffee and stare at the ice my thoughts turn to what the polar ice might do this year. Might it also be late breaking up? That would set the cat among the pigeons. -- Commenter Ian H.
Mister H is watching -- live -- what may be the latest ice break up in the Nenana Ice Classic. "The latest the ice has ever gone out was May 20th, 1964 at 11:41 AM Alaska Standard Time. As of this writing there is about 28 hours to go to break that record."
May 19, 2013
Housekeeping task: First, here is your definition of friendship:
The book I made blog friend sc read atop the book he made me read. I got a kick out of that on a recent visit.
Last week's Review Corner was G.K. Chesterton's "What's Wrong with the World," a bit of indulgent but intelligent retrospective from a 70-year-old academic. This week's is curiously similar: Deepak Lal's Poverty and Progress: Realities and Myths about Global Poverty
At the start of my seventh decade, as I look back over the past 50 years, during which I have studied, engaged in various debates, and traveled in the Third World, I am amazed at the transformations that have lifted billions out of poverty. One of the saddening experiences in writing this book, and of reading what younger scholars have written during the last 20 years, is the realization that many of them have little sense of this amazing achievement or its causes.
This ancient history is relevant to this book, as it reveals the dyspeptic response (only strengthened over the years) of the foreign-aid industry to anything that smacks of the classical-liberal viewpoint from which the book was written and which if adopted would lead to the euthanasia of these Lords of Poverty.
Despite some sadness in that excerpt, Lal's book could be called "What's Right with the World." Professor Lal is quite pleased with economic liberalism's record of lifting people out of poverty. He did his early work in India, which has expanded its economy by judicious application of freedom and property rights (though still too bureaucratic for its true potential). China opened up and hundreds of millions of people escaped $1/day poverty. Now, Lal is optimistic about Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).
As in Asia, the answer to Africa's economic problems must lie in beginning to set its citizens free of the shackles of the state. Africa has for too long been used by western ideologues as a laboratory for their latest dirigiste ideas. They have made Africa’s problems worse. The best thing the world can do for Africa is to keep its goods and capital markets open and let the continent’s entrepreneurial multitudes make their own future, beginning by learning how to hold their predatory rulers to account and ensuring that the state becomes a civil, not an enterprise, association.
So...what is Lal's "magic bullet" that propelled us from privation? For Deirdre McClosky, it is "Bourgeois Dignity," for my progressive friends it is good vibes and labor unions. To what does Professor Lal attribute this miracle?
I hope brother jg is seated securely. Lal talks about "Promethean Growth" as cultures discover the limitless energy of fossil fuels as opposed to wood, peat and dung. He is an economic historian and suggests England superseded the Dutch because the lowlands ran out of Peat and Britain had plentiful coal.
The biggest lacuna in this theory of the transition from an agrarian to an industrial economy is its failure to account for the ending of the energy constraint posed by fixed land, with the increasing substitution of land-based organic energy by the unlimited mineral energy provided by fossil fuels (Wrigley 1988).
But the stagnant per capita income worldwide before the Industrial Revolution, for which Clark's stylized Malthusian model is broadly applicable, is best explained by the land constraint on the energy needs for generating Promethean intensive growth. Clark’s correct assumption of diminishing returns to land captures this. But he ignores the central feature of the story in mankind's escape from structural poverty-- for, it was the substitution of fossil fuels, which provided an unending supply of mineral energy, for the limited products from land in the preindustrial organic agrarian economies that was the hallmark of the Industrial Revolution. It was this that allowed, first the West and now the Rest, to escape from the age-old structural poverty of the "Malthusian economy."
Chapter Ten punctures the research on global warming and expresses concern that, just as we are poised to bring the last groups out of poverty, promethean growth is threatened.
This use of an unbounded energy source, accompanying the slowly rolling Industrial Revolution, allowed the ascent from structural poverty, which had scarred humankind for millennia. To put a limit on the use of fossil fuels without adequate economically viable alternatives is to condemn the Third World to perpetual structural poverty.
Not to say that Lal does not appreciate bourgeois dignity nor the individualism and freedom that animates ThreeSourcers.
By contrast, the alternative technocratic approach to poverty alleviation is necessarily infected with egalitarianism because of its lineage. At its most elaborate, it is based on some Bergson-Samuelson-type social welfare function, laid down by Platonic Guardians. 8 Given the underlying assumption of diminishing marginal utility, any normative utility weighting of the incomes of different persons or households leads naturally to some form of egalitarianism. But this smuggling in of an ethical norm, which is by no means universally accepted, leads to a form of “mathematical politics.” Poverty alleviation becomes just one component of the general problem of maximizing social welfare,
Why did England have an Industrial Revolution and China did not? All ThreeSourcers had better sit for this. It's a McClosky-esque turn from individualism and science
This cultural divergence, as I argued in Unintended Consequences and which was summarized in Part 1, was due in part to the family revolution of Gregory the Great in the sixth century in the West. This gave rise to the individualism that led to the Renaissance and the scientific revolution, but also to the rise of nuclear families and the creation of statist safety nets for the poor, replacing the communal ones provided in the past and which continued in the other Eurasian civilizations-- including China. It was not the welfare states, which were a necessary consequence of its newfound individualism, that led to the rise of the West, but the sheer escape from tradition in art and science that individualism promoted.
I put my Kindle down and shook in this section because of my decades working in Boulder, Colorado where most people just assume the superiority of Eastern philosophy, medicine, science, thought, religeon, art, and cuisine. I am totally down appreciating Thai, Himalayan, Chinese, and Vietnamese food.
But -- and I am clearly putting words in Lal's mouth here -- the codswallop of eastern spirituality over science denied this great, wealthy and brilliant culture their renaissance. Lal mentions that they did not have a Shakespeare -- I suggest they needed a Martin Luther.
I have picked a few items of interest to folks 'round these parts more than I have covered this magisterial work. It is five stars and highly recommended.
He is exactly right. I would go much further - fossil fuels are what make modern capitalism possible. I alluded to this (but did not explicitly say it - that was for part II, which I have not written yet) in my post "Notes on the Dynamics of Human Civilization." Even if you don't have time to read that whole big thing, take a look at the graphs at the beginning of the essay. Notice how closely humanity's energy expenditure and economic growth is. They cannot be separated. As I said in another post:
The answer: in many respects Gross Domestic Product is energy consumption. Every service and good in an economy is produced by using energy. "Wealth" is really just the word we use to name the goods created and services rendered through our energy use. Inasmuch as GDP purports to measure "The monetary value of all the finished goods and services produced within a country's borders"  it will inevitably reflect the amount of energy consumed to produce those goods and services.
The great thing about capitalism is that you can compete without coercion and you can gain vast wealth without stealing it from others. Before fossil fuels came around this was not true. Economic growth was just too small to gain wealth by honorable means - thus the great number of wars (the best way to make money back in the day) before the growth revolution, and the lack of wars after words. Fossil fuels have done more for the cause of world peace than almost anything else humanity has devised.
Enjoyed your post (I always do -- did I ever respond to your "far right and far left?" I remembered doing so but did not see it on your blog.)
To channel Ms. McClosky (ever read her?) though, correlation is not causation. Coal was around, fire was around. Both were well distributed in time and geography. And yet, it happens in Western Europe and it happens in the 17th (ish) Century.
Nah, no worries mate. I have took much greater beatings before - heck, I have took greater beatings before here. (Remember those long conversations with Perry, anyone?)
1. Correlation/Causation. Sure. But the correlation is really, really tight - so tight that a few people have made an equation for it. See also the two graphs at the end of this post. Energy consumption goes down in depressions, up when the economy grows. They are tagged together closely. The reasons for this are pretty clear - wealth is the product of applied energy.
2. Why did Britain have an industrial revolution and China did not? I think this is probably one of the biggest (if not the biggest) debate found among world historians. There are those (Pomeratz, The Great Diversion that suggest that the big difference between Britain and the Yangtze river basin (China's most productive area, c. 1800) is that Britain had coal stores nearby, and the Yangtze had none.
I find this less convincing.
But I also do not think on can wave away the question by attributing stunted growth to 'Eastern mysticism.' The Chinese tradition is pretty diverse; it has just as many hard bitten realists who disdained all things cosmological or mysterious as it did Buddhist-mystic types. (Many of their manuals make Machiavelli look tame!) And China was the scene of both fairly impressive (for a premodern society) economic growth, technological innovation (among other things, they invented the cross bow, compasses, gunpower, paper, and printing), and were a center for international trade (think silk road - but they also had extensive maritime networks). They once were very open to outside technologies; they learned to sail on the ocean blue from Arab traders, and then supplanted them as the primary traders in the South Chin and Indian oceans. They also were pretty institutionally advanced when it came to economics - during the Song Dynasty (c. 1000-1200 AD) they had paper money, savings banks, and joint-stock companies. (Unfortunately the Mongols took over the place and that experiment ended).
So why did all of that change?
My personal inclination is to blame the Ming and Qing dynasties. They were isolationist to an extreme - shut down the trading routes, worked their hardest to fight "foreign" influence and whatnot. What is notable is that both dynasties had very few competitors - in contrast to the Song, who controlled only half of China, the Ming controlled all of it, and the Qing added Manchuria, Tibet, and Mongolia to their possessions. The world was controlled from one center. This hurts innovation. The renaissance flourished because there was no centralized authority to stop it from doing so; the same was true in China's most intellectually diverse periods. Wrote I in a post comparing the two:
Both premodern Europe and ancient China were host to vicious polities divided in a desperate bid for survival. There was no world spanning empire; all roads did not lead to Rome. (Or Luoyang, for that matter). There was no universal center of learning or prestige that all intellectuals passed through before their voices could be heard, nor was there a single governing authority with power to clamp down on thinking it disapproved of. The decentralized political system of both eras allowed intellectual movements to flower without serious interruption. The competitive nature of this system piled fuel on the fire, for dueling states that refused innovation - be it scientific or strategic - faced annihilation
A similar thing happened in Japan. Before the Tokugawa shogunate was foisted upon the Japanese people, Japan was divided into 8 or so dueling kingdoms. During the height of their wars (late 1500s) there were more guns in Japan than in all of Europe. But when the Tokugawa shogunate united them all and took over, they set up a system that was very stable. They de-armed the populace, made the nobles rotate between the capital and their homes so they could not concentrate power, and forbade contact with outsiders. The system worked - Japan had peace for 400 years and the ruling Shogunate stayed in power. But when Commodore Perry came around with his cannons off of Edo, forcing the Japanese to open up to the world at gun point, there was no guns in the harbor to oppose him.
I can't help it if you are a statist!
But I do think you provide a host-worthy petard in noting that energy use decreases during recession. I don't think you're suggesting that paucity causes it (70's America, maybe...). Likewise I don't think coal fell out of the sky in 1820 and landed in Northern England.
They learned to use it to enhance productivity outside diminishing returns. The Chinese were using gunpowder way back before color TV. I believe it is Niall Ferguson who talks about the machines they invented but used as toys and demonstrations of the greatness of the ruler. But never applying them to production or wealth creation.
The last thing I'd do is call energy unimportant, or quibble with Deepak Lal that environmentalists' restrictions threaten the continued lifting of people out of poverty.
But there's more to it.
May 18, 2013
Our Precious Bodily Fluids at Stake!
I'm choosing a side. I think I might do it American Idol style and become a passionate advocate based on your votes.
I have a good friend on Facebook who is a lover of liberty and a world class musician. A few months ago, he surprised me with an impassioned post against Fluoridated Water. I thought only nuts rallied against that.
Insty links today to a Slate piece, commenting "STUPID JOHN-BIRCH-SOCIETY WINGNUTS: Portland Continues To Fight Fluoridated Water."
That matches my perception. And yet. This is -- ahem -- government. Putting something in the water. Because it is good for us. There is no opt out. Let's look at the players:
On paper, the fight over fluoridating Portland's water supply looks absurdly uneven. The pro-fluoridation group Healthy Kids, Healthy Portland, as of May 13, had received $689,376 in cash and $65,093.64 in the form of donated supplies and labor. The anti-fluoridation Clean Water Portland received $194,333 and $59,137. Healthy Kids enjoys the backing of a diverse coalition that ranges from major health care and dental providers, such as Kaiser Permanente and the Oregon Dental Association (both have donated tens of thousands of dollars), to organized labor and almost all of the region’s major groups representing and organizing with people of color and low-income communities. Oregon’s Wild West campaign spending laws (they basically don’t have any) allow huge contributions: The Northwest Health Foundation alone has donated well over $200,000. The Urban League is the premiere advocacy group for Portland’s African-American community and it has an organizer devoted full-time to the cause.
Arguably most importantly, Healthy Kids and fluoridation have the endorsement of the massed forces of rationality and medical authority. Almost every credible national, state, and local health and science organization--private and public--gives its blessing to optimal levels of water fluoridation: The American Medical Association, the American Dental Association, the Environmental Protection Agency, the World Health Organization, American Academy of Family Physicians, and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, which named the measure one of the 10 greatest public health achievements of the 20th century. They all agree that fluoridated water is perfectly safe and extremely effective at preventing tooth decay.
I dunno, my heart kinda goes with the Wingnuts against the ADA, EPA, WHO and Big Doctors Lobby.
My friend's post was full of nonsense about how the fertilizer corporations' greed causes it because there is no other way to get rid of by-products than to sell it to cities to put in Junior's water...oh, dearie me... I called shenanigans (or some similar term) and the advocates agreed it was over the top but many of his friends insisted it is bad.
Any passion for Fl in ThreeSourcesLand? For "Against," Text WINGNUT to 800-3SOURCE...
"ahem -- government. Putting something in the water. Because it is good for us. There is no opt out. "
Drives me crazy!
Ummm, Yeah-but: we've done it for more than half a century, and all the opposition literature seems weak. The most compelling case was that we now get all we need from other sources and that slow-moving governments will never realize this.
Here's the recommendation if you don't want the fluoride: "People who do not wish to drink fluoridated water can obtain other water satisfactory to them or can treat city water to their own personal standards. People who feel they need to severely limit fluoride intake will need to take further measures to limit their fluoride intake if they wish."
Why not do the opposite Mr. Bloomberg? Give away the fluoride to anyone who wants it.
Perhaps because people don't do what's good for them? In which case, let's look at causes of cavities. Hmmmm. Sugar. Why not make that illegal? Three birds (obesity, diabetes, cavities), one stone (sugar).
May 17, 2013
Like B.B. King Knew Something...
Hat-tip James Taranto. But how he avoided his own "what would we do wothout experts?" riff is hard to fathom:
May 14, 2013 -- Consumers experiencing relationship problems are more likely to prefer aesthetic experiences that reflect their negative mood, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research. -- Science News
I open with a QOTD, from Ben Domenech (h/t Jim Geraghty):
When this period of scandal draws to a close, if the idea still survives that a more competent and ethical president would be able to effectively govern a $4 trillion bureaucracy, it will be a sign Republicans have failed. They can succeed by ignoring the tempting bait of making this about the president they despise, and focusing instead on the false philosophy of expansive government which represents the true danger to the American experiment. Doing so will require them to go against their own short-term viewpoint, so prevalent in recent years, and look instead to the long game.
Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Using these to bring down President Obama might be quite satisfying in a "vengeance is mine sayeth the RNC" kind of way. But it leaves us with: a) President Joe Biden, the scrappy kid from Scranton Pee-Ayy; and, b) a $4T bureaucracy full of tenured bureaucrats (it is a bureaucracy after all) who will seek to expand the size and scope of government whether Rand Paul or Hillary Clinton sits in the Oval Office.
It's Friday and I have not linked to Kim Strassel in what seems like weeks. Read her coast-to-coast today in spite of my lengthy excerpt:
In April 2012, an Obama campaign website named and slurred eight Romney donors. It tarred Mr. VanderSloot as a "wealthy individual" with a "less-than-reputable record." Other donors were described as having been "on the wrong side of the law."
This was the Obama version of the phone call--put out to every government investigator (and liberal activist) in the land.
Twelve days later, a man working for a political opposition-research firm called an Idaho courthouse for Mr. VanderSloot's divorce records. In June, the IRS informed Mr. VanderSloot and his wife of an audit of two years of their taxes. In July, the Department of Labor informed him of an audit of the guest workers on his Idaho cattle ranch. In September, the IRS informed him of a second audit, of one of his businesses. Mr. VanderSloot, who had never been audited before, was subject to three in the four months after Mr. Obama teed him up for such scrutiny.
The last of these audits was only concluded in recent weeks. Not one resulted in a fine or penalty. But Mr. VanderSloot has been waiting more than 20 months for a sizable refund and estimates his legal bills are $80,000. That figure doesn't account for what the president's vilification has done to his business and reputation.
The Obama call for scrutiny wasn't a mistake; it was the president's strategy--one pursued throughout 2012. The way to limit Romney money was to intimidate donors from giving. Donate, and the president would at best tie you to Big Oil or Wall Street, at worst put your name in bold, and flag you as 'less than reputable' to everyone who worked for him: the IRS, the SEC, the Justice Department. The president didn't need a telephone; he had a megaphone.
Another light-haired woman who writes for the WSJ Ed Page on Friday has a good piece as well. But I liked Professor Reynolds's take
on Ms. Noonan:
Peggy's right, but I was saying the same thing -- right there in the Wall Street Journal -- way back in 2009, when she was still going on about Obama’s transformational energy. So welcome to the party. Wish you’d gotten here before the re-election.
May 16, 2013
Atlas Shrugged as Owners' Manual
We're here. James Pethokoukis links to a study that shows that "Public companies that did the most lobbying easily beat the S&P 500 from 2007-2012"
My take: Two ways to make money in 2013 America: add value or have government put a thumb on the scale for you. Clearly, the second may be more important than the first.
Come on, it's only a work of FICTION!
Meanwhile, In Buffy News...
Can't wait. Can't wait:
Hat-tip: Whedonesque blog
The lady in the middle (no idea what Buffy character she played) is now a kind of fun character named, "Root," on a show called, "Person of Interest." jg and I like Person of Interest if there is anyone looking for more TV to watch.
Did not know that, I will have to take a peek.
For the record, Amy Acker played Fred (Winifred Burkle), the Texas Physics prodigy on Angel.
From IMDB Quotes:
"Angel: Fredless (#3.5)" (2001)
Fred: [talking obliquely about Buffy] So, now that she's alive again, are they gonna get back together? Angel and that girl with the goofy name?
Wesley: Well, *Fred*, that's a difficult question. I think it's fair to say... , no. Not a chance, never, no way, not in a million years, and also... nuh-uh.
Fred: But you said he loved her. And of course she's gonna love him back, 'cause he's so strong and handsome and he really listens when you talk. I-I mean, if you go for that sorta thing, why wouldn't it work?
Cordelia: Let me break it down for you, Fred.
Cordelia: Oh, Angel! I know that I am a Slayer, and you're a vampire and it would be impossible for us to be together, but...
Wesley: [imitating Angel] But... my gypsy curse, sometimes prevent me from seeing the truth. Oh, Buffy...
Cordelia: Yes, Angel?
Wesley: Oh, I love you so much I almost forgot to brood!
Cordelia: And just because I sent you to Hell that one time doesn't mean that we can't just be friends.
Wesley: Or possibly more?
Cordelia: Gasp! No! We mustn't!
Wesley: Kiss me!
Cordelia: Bite me!
Angel: [entering, surprising everyone] How about you both bite me?
Fred: You're back!
Charles Gunn: How'd it go?
Angel: I think those two pretty much summed it up. To be honest I really don't want to talk about it.
We have not taken potshots at a popular religious figure since, well let's see it's 2:06 Mountain...
Pope blasts "cult of money" that tyrannizes poor
VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Pope Francis has denounced the global financial system, blasting the "cult of money" that he says is tyrannizing the poor and turning humans into expendable consumer goods.
In his first major speech on the subject, Francis demanded Thursday that financial and political leaders reform the global financial system to make it more ethical and concerned for the common good. He said: "Money has to serve, not to rule!"
It's a message Francis delivered on many occasions when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires, and it's one that was frequently stressed by retired Pope Benedict XVI.
Francis, who has made clear the poor are his priority, made the comments as he greeted his first group of new ambassadors accredited to the Holy See.
No doubt a good Jesuit has read more Michael Novak
than I. Does he need a refresher? I would also suggest some Deirdre McClosky [Review Corner]
. I take him at his word for his compassion for the poor. Yet they'd be better served by some papal recognition of bourgeois dignity.
Actually, Sir, it is tyranny that tyrannizes the poor. The "cult of money" lifts them up.
Twin Tunnel Widening
This is cool. Colorado skiiers and mountain travelers are no doubt familiar with the Twin Tunnels on I-70 between Floyd Hill and Idaho Springs. They are a minor pinch point which cause major traffic delays. After many decades of inconvenience the Colorado Department of Transportation has finally managed to wrestle some funds away from riderless light rail train projects to improve infrastructure for - cars.
Sarcastic sniping aside, here is the project website. And below is the animation they made to show how the detour works. This was of particular interest to me because since the days of my youth I've always wanted to drive that abandoned road around the corner of the mountain. It looks like they've made a newer wider road instead, along with a new bridge, but I still want to get up there and check it out.
View the detour animation.
Or: All Hail IBD! A good friend of this blog emails a link, with the suggestion "Nothing in here you haven't seen but it's nice to have it put so concisely."
Tyranny: Perhaps the most sinister aspect of the president's parade of scandals is that just days before they broke, he mocked as paranoid those concerned about government excesses.
On May 5, while giving the commencement address at Ohio State University, President Obama advised graduates to put all their trust in government and reject those shrill "voices" that say it's the source of our problems.
Ignore these limited-government types, he told the class of 2013, who warn "tyranny lurks just around the corner."
Only, Obama himself has proved our fears are well-founded. Government, particularly governance by this rogue regime, needs more checks, not fewer; more skepticism, not less. Tyranny isn't lurking around the corner. It's now upon us, manifest in the pattern of misuse and abuse of government power by this presidency[...]
Followed by a handy enumeration of abuses current as of this morning (it's early yet...)
President strawman strikes again.
Tyranny correctly applies to the unrestrained, oppresive rule of a single ruler. President Obama's election caused the Progressivism accelerator to be floorboarded but he is certainly not the only person wielding unrestrained power in the federal government. But it benefits him to perpetuate the meme that he, personally, is a "tyrant" because the strength of his personality is so strong as to be an absolute rebuttal with so many people.
Yes, the TEA Party "voices" created the meme, and did so in analog to the nation's founding, where colonials told the central government, in that case a monarchy, "Don't Tread on Me." This sentiment lives on today but its cause is better served by precisely labeling the Obama government an ochlocracy, and President Obama himself and ochlocrat.
So, just what is ochlocracy? An ancient Greek term for a democracy spoiled by demagoguery, "tyranny of the majority" and the rule of passion over reason.
(Yes, I did repost that comment on the IBD article page.)