Category Archives: Politics

Reader’s Exercise

So, Mr Obama is going to offer his “executive order” on immigration tonight. Constitutional scholars are going to offer their opinions. But I’m going to give you a homework assignment, in two parts no less.

Part 1. Imagine a Democrat held Senate/House and a GOP conservative President. Craft what you might see as an abortion executive order that would elicit the same <em>Constitutional</em> objections regarding balance of powers between Congress and Executive as are debated by, say, the Volokh lawyers in the wake of Obama’s immigration order.

Part 2. If you honestly did the homework of part one, explain why (if GOP) you support the part 1 proposal but object to Mr Obama’s proposal or, if a Democrat why you support Mr Obama but reject the GOP proposal.

(note: if you are “consistent” and oppose/support both, this is probably a sign you didn’t honestly complete part 1).

And They Pretend Ms Palin is Stupid

Ms Clinton trumps everyone on the stupid-meter.

If there is any justice, listen to Ms Clinton. This has to be one of the top 10 stupidest things said by a politician, “business doesn’t create jobs”. Honey, the only thing creating jobs are businesses.

And she doubles down with “trickle down doesn’t work”. Uhm, “trickle down” is Democrat slang for growth. And if you think growth doesn’t help, then why aren’t we all stone age subsistence farmers? Oh, we’re doing quite a bit better. Why? Hmm, that would be that growth thing.

If anyone votes for her now, they’re deluded.

Simple Consistency

So, if as noted last night, consistency in political stance was seen as valuable is this even possible. Consistency, or the lack thereof, is used often as a rhetorical weapon for example, “how can you support/oppose abortion saying life is valuable if you oppose/support the death penalty?” is an example. Here lack of consistency is seen as a failing. Yet every political plank is wrought through and through with inconsistencies. Is a global consistent stance on issues possible?

Looking the maths as a template, often in group theory a trivial example which satisfies your criteria serves as both a useful model and an existence proof. It so happens that with respect to consistency. So is there a (or set of) trivial consistent ideological stances one might take? Indeed. It seems apparent that the single issue (if simple enough) individual can take an internally consistent stance, if “oppose abortion”, “love pets”, or “taxes suck”  is your only public position then you can consistently offer a position on all relevant issues and abstain on the rest consistently.

This is of course, not something anyone does. People have have a varied number (in which that number is greater than one) of positions they’d like to hold. Many times these issues are in conflict. How a particular resolves a conflict differ, but it also demonstrates the relative importance of those same issues. A Democrat driving/owning an SUV indicates that status symbol ownership is more important than climate.

So inconsistency is not exactly an indication of actual inconsistency, but one of the evaluation of multiple criteria and their weightings. Thus a SUV owning Democrat who claims global warming is an urgent priority is signaling that the “urgency” part of this statement is at best empty rhetoric (more likely an untruth). This ownership doesn’t signal an inconsistent belief, just that it signals the priority of which this particular belief holds in their panoply of positions.

A Confusion of Party

In the US, Democrats (liberals) and the GOP (conservatives) are confused. Liberals fear jingoism, patriotism and enthusiasm for the country, yet prefer and support big government. Studies show Conservatives want to belong, are patriotic, and demonstrate enthusiasm for their country yet they are the anti-government party. The Democrats affirm support for the “little guy” against corporate and government abuse (not unrelated … this weekend Mr Obama held a 50k per plate dinner in which he spoke (apparently not ironically) against income inequality. Those conservatives that doubt Mr Obama’s oratorical skills should note that somehow that was delivered and received without a pause or for laughter (or an expectation of same)). Idiots of course abound on both sides of the aisle, partisan flacks somehow manage to only remark on those on their side. Mr Schraub, old time blog neighbor, for example manages to notice dumb statements regarding Ebola from the GOP, apparently missing almost identical stupidity from members of his party. Democrats claim to support those without defense, yet a party de facto requirement is that to be a Democrat one must support abortion. A fetus is without question one of the most vulnerable points of the human existence. Conservatives on the other hand, struggle to reconcile their “don’t tread on me” with desiring crack downs (by government) on illegal aliens and enforcing restrictions on marriage. Liberals drive their big SUVs to “green” global warming affairs and lay claim to be the “party of science” (on global warming) while at the same time speaking out against the “dangers” of vaccinations.

The point is that the neither side of the aisle is the least bit consistent in either their choice of ideals or their application of same. So, this consistency thing, is it of any value at all? Is expediency and power for its own sake the only priority? Sides have to be taken so the party leaders divvy up positions on a first come first served historical basis? Must the non players be always forced to choose party and pol by principles of which is the “least worst”. Is consistency of principles possible?

So what next? Well, the task (for tonight) seems to be as follows, first is an y consistent policy/ideological stance possible? This might follow several steps, first can one make a “toy” internally consistent stance (the analogous Maths thing would be a trivial solution or an existence proof). If not, then perhaps the only solution is to follow Eastern church’s solution to doctrine in contrast to the Western (western tends to go by Catechisms and statements of faith, the East in place of statements patterned after law points to a large body of poetry as to define their beliefs). If a toy solution is possible, then the next step would be to search for a realistic one.  Then finally if realistic solutions are possible, we might try to find some realistic consistent ideals to which one might desire to hold for oneself.

One of the fundamental problems with “being consistent” and not contravening known features of governance is that there are tensions. Government is, currently, by definition “top down”, the government dictates to the governed. Yet, as Hayek pointed out asymmetry of information points to an essential flaw of the top down approach. In some sense, having any government at all runs against the informational asymmetry. But of course, having no government (as Hobbes pointedly assures us) leads to nasty, brutish, and short lives, which is not at all conducive to life, liberty, and the pursuit of eudaimonia (happiness).

(to be continued)

Our Stupid Crocodilian Leaders

Reflect a moment on the Olympics, the US and many Western leaders have decided “not to attend”, Google followed suit with a rainbow Olympic rings display, and publicly gay (privately … who knows) stuffed shirts were sent as part of the US delegation and many others. This was supposedly in response to how Russia is perceived to deal with public homosexuality.

Consider the following. Make an honest list of the top 10 economic, liberty, social, legal, and cultural issues facing the Russian people and the Russian Federation today. Order these by which have the highest priority and will do the greatest good. If you are honest (and I will charitably assume that is the case), gay rights did not appear on the list. Extend it to 20. Gosh. Still not there. In fact, I’d be willing to bet, if you put the time and effort it that gay rights might not even (if you are honest) make the top 100.

So …. why is that a putative issue for our leaders? Could it be because all politics is local and this is a safe way of pretending to do something about gay issues in their country without having to actually, you know, do anything about those issues? Crocodile tears all around.

In Which I Am Confused

Obamacare, much in the news lately, has noted that it depends on millions of young healthy individuals who are not currently insured to sign up for insurance, in a large part to pay for the coverage that they will extend other uninsured people who are not-so-healthy. This strikes me as an actuarial accounting error.  Or a dishonest tax using crooked actuary tables.

Actuarial methods assign costs and risk based on statistical advantage of your place in a pool of subscribers. An honest actuary prices your insurance premium at the same level as your cost. Given a large enough subscriber pool, your premium averaged over the large number of people is exactly matched by the insurance payouts for your pool.

Thus adding a new group, young uninsured healthy 20 y/olds should have zero impact on the larger picture. Their premiums should be the same as the payouts for those in the same pool. But .. this is apparently not the case.

Why? Because the designers of Obamacare are crooks. Is there another explanation? ’cause it seems the only explanation I can see from here.

Of Henry and Barack

Henry II had a stalwart friend and assistant in Thomas Beckett his chancellor. When there was a chance to elevate Thomas to a position of arch-Bishop of Canterbury Henry did so, thinking he’d have a close ally in the Church. What he didn’t realize was that Beckett was loyal not to him as his chancellor but the office … and when he was head cleric … he was likewise loyal to his office and no longer a close friend and ally of the King. In a frustrated rage (and Henry had a temper) Henry famously hollered  “will someone not rid me of this meddlesome priest” … and two knights took him at his word, rode forth in the night to Canterbury and slew the Bishop in cold blood at the altar, an act which shocked and horrified both England and their King who never actually intended this act to be carried out.

The left in general and the left elite in particular see themselves as the faithful guardians and representatives of the people. A popular movement arising naturally belongs within their party, not the opposition. When this occurs it is an affront to their long held assumptions that the ordinary folk are their constituents and this movement is a betrayal (just talk to a gay conservative as to how liberals treat with them … for a party that thinks that harsh words against oppressed groups are harmful, they are mighty quick to use them themselves).

Mr Obama has joked about using the IRS as a political tool, he’s remarked how Tea Party members were nefarious, he’s publicly called out persons and groups to be targeted by liberal pressure. Low and behold a few knights ride out to do his bidding. Actually more than a few, but who’s counting. Apparently we are to believe there was no connection between his attitude, the atmosphere he encouraged in his administration and its behavior. History if I remember, finds Henry culpable for the consequences of his remarks. History likewise, will likely find Mr Obama culpable for the spate of government overreach and partisanship it demonstrates …

On the other hand, it seems calls for “impeach the bum” keep coming from the right. Uhm, a few points to this remark:

  • Biden? Geesh
  • The President is tried in the Senate, by Senators not a few of whom have Presidential aspirations and for which a majority share the same political party as the President.
  • Which means, the only actual good that would come of impeachment is … that it would shut down the federal government for a month or so.
  • and finally, Biden? If that doesn’t frighten you, nothing will.

Oh, wait. Point #3 might be the actual point. Impeachment even without conviction would be likely to hamstring the President during and afterwards … and he’s not going to be convicted so the Biden threat isn’t very real.

Category Errors Considered

Note: I started writing this with the notion that the category error alluded to below was a mistake and a sidelight hiding behind the issues being argued. As I continued in writing I have come to believe that the category error is both the primary reason for the arguments and further is a fundamental problem which is well known.

Much wroth, fury, words, and accusations of ignorance, bigotry, and perversion have crossed from both sides in the recent decades long struggle by various factions in the debates about marriage and who might be married rightly. A few observations

  1. Defenders of SSM remark that this sort of marriage is private and affects none outside of the marriage. Yet, if this were so, then why would not civil unions suffice? The logical answers is because this reply is a lie. It does in fact affect others and in this lies a category error to which I alluded in this essay’s title.
  2. To read the papers and hear the debates this is an important issue. Yet, why is that? Why is that more important than other issues. As that famous statistician Bjorn Lomberg  pointed out that getting vitamin supplements to the third world would saves tens if not hundreds of millions of lives (and would be cheaper and more effective than most of the aid we send to the third world), world-wide millions are affected by human trafficking indeed the numbers trafficked within the states is comparable to those affected by SSM … and those affected are mostly well educated affluent couples. Yet what debates are heard? 

How are these issues a sidelight issue and the other a hot button issue? I suspect my  I offer it is because those entrenched against SSM are also committing that same category error. What is the error of category to which I allude? Simply the following, laws and lawmakers are not our spiritual guides. Note, the use of the term “spiritual” is not the normal one, but one which I will continue in this essay and perhaps in further essays. 

So let me digress for a moment. Spiritual? What is that? In the introduction to Dimitru Staniloae’s book (Orthodox Spirituality), it is pointed out that in the EasternChristian doctrine, your spiritual life and its tending is perhaps better translated as your ethical life and its care. Spiritual health and ethical well being are synonyms. 

What is legal or not and what is righteous (in good spirit or a good moral/ethical decision) are independent. This is a founding principle of American jurisprudence. (Or is it?) It certainly is the assumption now. Mr Daschle defended a Senatorial philandering colleague by pointing while he while he was dishonest he didn’t break any laws. The correct reaction to this is that the colleague got his priorities exactly backwards, i.e., it is more important to be ethical than stay on the right side of the law.

Laws are not ethics. Laws and what lawmakers conspire to create has very little to do with ethics and instead its primary purpose is to provide a framework. This framework provides so that peoples may live harmoniously alongside each other in an ordered way.  So that, when conflicts between people arise, there is an orderly way of handling those same conflicts. Personal ethics overrides and sits over the law. For the most part, there is no conflict, most of our choices, our ethical decisions do not lead us toward choices which are illegal. Where they do, it is right, it is correct to choose the ethical over the legal. On the other hand, there are things you may do legally which however are not ethical. Even where there is no conflict, normally ethics binds our actions tighter than the law.

Solzhenitsyn warns that this separation that is part of modern Western democracies (and was part of the former Soviet state) is an error. That itself is an interesting counter point. So it seems likely that this why this debate is important is not what it is about, but sort of the issue is the ground on which it is being made. What is at stake is perhaps not about the particulars of whether certain young dinks (dual income no kids) can have their relationship legalized or not but really what is being debated here and in other forums is whether law should be neutral or be admitted to have spiritual (ethical) content or should it not. Kant (and our founders) explored law devoid of ethics, can a safe lawful republic of demons (not angels) be constructed or not. Perhaps it can. Perhaps it can’t. The question at hand is should it? Recall the Ratzinger/Habermas debate, debating whether a democratic society can be constructed and sustain itself independent of religion, i.e., “does it need things outside itself to sustain itself.” Ratzinger and Solzhenitsyn think not. Bertrand de Jouvenal pointed out in his meta-political science musings about what he termed Babylon (the large multicultural state) envies the unity of the small state. My reading of Solzhenitsyn (and Jouvenal) is that a solution exists. If the larger federal state limit itself to promoting commerce and unity between smaller entities within itself, while foster their ability to form strong local identity, laws and praxis then you could have the best of both worlds. You can find local loyalties and ties and bonds within the framework a larger multicultural state.

Both sides of the cultural debate miss this point. Both sides wish to apply the same laws and sensibilities in artists boroughs of San Francisco, in Amish villages in Ohio, in rural Lutheran Wisconsin, and so on. Why? Why try? It seems wrong to insist that behavioral norms universal.

Locally laws can be tied to spirit. Federally, the are not, but there they run to the Habermas separation of Spirit and law. It seems to me laws about birth, death, marriage are those which the federal level should keep its hands away, to set aside for local regions to coin their own practices, to tie their own view of ethics and spirit what is allowed, to what is righteous in their region.

Instead of insisting that laws be spiritual or devoid of spiritual considerations is wrong. Federal laws laws which bind us all, might be best be light and aim only to promote commerce, unity, and ease frictions. Local laws … let them tangle and wind the ways the local choose. That is, after all, nothing more than freedom.

Cars, Guns, and Civil Society

Lots of silliness has ensued in the weeks following the shooting in Newton, CT. Gun advocates suggest putting TSA-like agents in every school (as if schools aren’t expensive enough), gun control advocates suggest restricting “assault weapons” (a fictional category for semi-automatic rifles) and “high capacity magazines” (as if the 1-2 seconds to swap magazines would really make a difference) and basically making it far harder to obtain guns (against for example, peer reviewed academic studies showing that the elasticity to gun availability is .1 to .3 out of the 50-60 gun related deaths per 10k people per year.  As much posturing as we have on this matter, if the time the President and his Renfieldian co-conspirator Biden have wasted giving speeches on gun control more children have died in auto accidents than did in the incident they pretend is motivating their interest in gun control. But do they go after drivers and car safety? Nope.

Frequent commenter Boonton has suggested stopping gun violence by tying the liability (financial) for any gun violence to the gun owner …. the economic study above suggests the actuarial costs of such a tie would be about $10/year if you own a gun for his suggested $100k payout. The higher cost to that suggestion is figuring out how to actually reliably track the ownership trail for the millions of guns out there not to speak of those purchased in the future. That will change … what? Offer a public notion that were-guild is legal notion whose time has come?

There are those who would suggest that gun ownership is part of a former age and that modern man doesn’t have any call for guns. There are two problems with that suggestion. It suggests that the person who says that has never ever ever lived in rural America. Get out out of your current aviary and take notice that the majority males and many females living outside of cities are avid hunters. The second problem is akin to the Sudan vs Congo problem alluded to above. In the Sudan 10’s to a few hundreds of thousands of people were killed in a genocidal spasm of violence. In the Congo over the last decades millions  have died. Which got the angst and notice in the press … the Sudan not the Congo. What kills Americans (besides lack of exercise)? Cars. Automobile deaths dwarf those by gun violence by orders of magnitude. But do we have hue and cry for limiting automobile speeds to under 30 mph? Do they cry for immediately restricting cars to be only driven by state licensed professional drivers in state owned and operated vehicles? Nope. So those who decry “more gun control” need to explain why “more car control” is not a higher priority, many orders of magnitude more die that way …. so you’d think that would be were the legal and social action would be driven. But no, this is just like you’d think that the violence in the Congo would get more notice than the Sudan and Darfur was noticed. So … if you think you don’t have any call for guns in the modern age, well some people disagree and exactly the same argument you’d pretend to use to explain why you can buy a car that you prefer and drive it at more than 25-30 mph the argument exactly paralleled that you have to turn around and (hypocritically) argue applies to your desire for driving fast but not to someone else who wants to do something that you do not.

But … that begs the question. Lots of people (if not most of the people) suggest stupid things on both sides of the argument (although to be truthful, post Newton, more of the errant stupidity comes from the control/restrict side of the aisle …. however suggesting putting TSA-like guards in cash strapped schools is pretty dumb in itself). Can some intelligent suggestions be made?

Where do we see gun violence of the unwanted kind? We find gun violence in sporadic random mass shootings (like Colorado, Ms Giffords, and the recent Newtown shooting), armed robberies and muggings, some assaults and rapes, in home invasions, gang violence, suicides, and in some crimes of passion.  If there were no legal access to guns, it is likely that gun usage in the suicides and crimes of passions would fall slowly over the years as gun ownership slowly dropped. Gangs and drug traffickers aren’t obtaining their guns legally and for that matter lots of them aren’t using guns (such as fully automatic guns) which are available anywhere legally now.regions in which gun ownership is close to 100% of the population don’t have much higher gun violence (and in many places it is lower). Clearly possession isn’t the problem. Like cars (and say impaired by drugs or inattention) …. the bigger problem is intentional misuse by a very very small minority. As an aside the liberal (urban) plea for gun control and less guns in general sounds a lot like the liberal insistence that government tax us to provide charitable services (which only makes more sense if you are a standard liberal who does not (willingly) give to charity in any real measure) … that is the urban liberal is against guns because he isn’t safe with them … and figures everyone else is just like him.

So we have a variety of issues to solve. How are might these individually be addressed? Let’s quickly run this list of problems and suggest ways to ameliorate them:

  • Random mass shootings and many assaults, muggings and rapes might be solved (as suggested elsewhere) by more, not less people who carry and are trained in the use of firearms. Specifically, if the President and his cadre of liberal intelligentsia instead of moving against the presence of guns in our society tried to push that more and more of our women carried and had training … it would be a lot harder for mass shooters to get much traction. Much like the Darwin award contestant who tried to use a pistol to hold up a gun store (and got shot by a number of customers) if those schoolteachers were armed, it is quite likely that either the shooter wouldn’t have even tried or that he wouldn’t have been able to continue his rampage for so long. One of the TPM anti-gun crusaders pointed out that if you pull a gun in the presence of an active shooter that you become a target. Yes. But if 10% of the movie theater audience does so … there is no longer one target … and the odds of the shooter surviving long become themselves long. Arming our girls is the solution to both the danger of unstable mentally ill white boys and to the alleged rape epidemic and violence against women in general. 
  • Legal-to-purchase (non-automatic) Guns and fully automatic weapons in the presence of gangs are, in my view, a lot like trying to solve the “problem” of corporate money in politics. Those with the money want to spend it. It is impossible (as we see) to stop them with regulations. Just so with guns and gangs. How then to proceed? You have two choices … to fight it with greater force (police) or to move to take the profits out of the activities they perform to make their money.
  • It might also be useful to note that magazine limits and caliber limits are not good federal laws. You may want to pretend that no person in Chicago has any need for a .50 caliber Desert Eagle pistol. But … against grizzly bears in the Montana and Alaskan backwoods may still be that same pistol. And “need” is a fuzzy word. Remember, you don’t actually ever “need” to drive more than 25 mph. You just want to. And so too does the Chicago shooter. He might want to fire that .50 cal. So … remember that as you whiz along on the freeway at 70 mph.

Media Bias: A Litmus Test

The almost-here “fiscal cliff” (where the heck did that uniformly used label originate I wonder) provides a wonderful litmus test for your perusal the press and other commentary sources.

The expiration that looms involves the addition of a set of tax increases and spending cuts. Both occur. If the source talks about the “cliff” as about tax increases and not about looming cuts in spending, that’s a Democrat biased source. If the source talks not about taxes but about spending cuts which will occur that’s a GOP biased one.

The only possibly non-biased sources are the ones that talk about both. That they talk about both doesn’t mean they are unbiased.

Is Stupid?

Rome, in late antiquity, got too large for one ruler and split East/West. If one might suggest that the US Presidency has gotten too large for one guy … how to split? Grant that you’ve gone to the point of thinking splitting is a necessity. So, do you split by region or Foreign/Domestic? What do you think? And why/why not consider such a thing (besides that changing the Constitution is enormously difficult)?

Up, Down, Left, Right, and All That Nonsense

People speaking of other politically continually speak about left and right, yet these terms are basically meaningless. In the US, Mr Groseclose unlike so many others, bothers to define what he means, which by the time he gets down ends up arrives at a meaning only perhaps might only coincidentally mean the same thing that you think of when these terms are used. His method of determining right/left is political, being derived purely by analysing mathematically voting patterns of the right and left party members in Congress. The proto-typical examples of right and left come from the WWII era, whereas the Hitler-led Nazi party (National Socialists) were called “far right” and the Stalin-led Marxist USSR is identified as “far left”. What distinguishes these groups? Both were autocracies dominated by the personality of one man. Both explicitly used government powers to dominate all sectors of society. Both established massive campaigns of intimidation and slaughter in prison camps immediately on gaining power. The only difference possibly noted is that the Marxist doctrine was “post-national” intending via global domination to eliminate all national identities and Nazi fascism was rooted in German identity and nationalism. Is that the putative metric to measure right/left in common parlance? That the further left one goes the less national and more international in scope is one’s thinking? If so, why is socialism regarded as left leaning and capitalism right? Neither of these notions have much weight on the national/international scales. So. Right/left. What do you think it means? In Chemistry and Physics when you have measurables or metrics that don’t make much sense then your theory, your model is flawed. Right/left seems very flawed as a term of any descriptive value. Does anyone reading this know of any terms which actually are of any valuable use, be it descriptive or otherwise? I would venture that mostly these terms are useless and only used to categorize those with whom your are dealing as “on-my-team” or “horrible other” depending on the particularhandedness you profess to follow.

Debate Question #4

Drones. In the past years we’ve been using Predator drones and the like more and more to effect our will in unsafe territories. Dones have the advantage of not endangering US life and are very effective, but on the other side of the coin are very bad press for the US in those regions they are used and often cause civilian casualties. Drones have been used attacking targets in countries with which we are not at war.

Question: What principle decides when and were to use drones in neutral countries and how does that principle apply when considering other countries using the same rational to fly drones against targets in the US?

Debate Questions #3

Continuing the debates:

Arguably the very first big decision a President must make is select his running mate. Can you indicate three most important criteria you see in your selection of a running mate.

Debate Question #2

Continuing (for a while … if this keeps getting ignored I’ll probably stop) the debate … a question for our candidates:

 

Strategy amounts to setting long term goals and objectives, tactics is the means of getting from here to there. Arguably we’ve been without a coherent Middle East strategy for decades, and we’ve replacing any strategy with a disconnected set of of short term tactical responses to developing situations. What would you identify as the key elements of a US Middle East strategy, Could you briefly describe what you envision as our strategic goals and objectives for the region?

Follow up: What do you see as the first tactical step moving in that direction?

Question A Day

A blog post out there on the Interwebs asked what question you might ask in one of the Presidential debates. I’m going to try to post, uhm, one every day or so.

Question: One of the oft spoken assumptions about the current election is the major issue for the voters is the economy and employment. Can you identify the most important policy changes we need to push in order to put the US on the right track. Please identify just two, the most important item on which you believe you and your opponent are in agreement and the most important one on which you do not agree.

 

(edited for clarity slightly)

He Bought 6000 Rounds

OK. Seriously. So have I and I’m not a serious gun guy. 6000 rounds isn’t that exceptional a quantity. I did buy .22 LR which isn’t going to be the first choice of for your garden variety killing spree. When I go to the range, I typically shoot 200-300 rounds. If you go shooting once or twice a week, buying in quantity is what you do. If you fire larger calibers than .22 LR … you collect brass and do you own reloads (9mm for example costs about 40 cents a round if you don’t do reloads). It takes repetition to teach your spine to shoot.

Question for the gun controls must be higher and higher? If 50 of the people in the theater were armed via concealed carry … Might the outcome have been different?

The quoted link above clearly thinks that tighter gun laws are necessary, yet the recent shooter had a large cache of illegal explosives. Clearly gun laws weren’t what stopped him. The shooter had no history of mental illness, crime records, or anything to prevent him from buying guns and moderate stores of ammo in any state. His emphatic “make it tougher for criminals and nuts to buy guns” would have done nothing. So, then why bring it up now?

Recently, “America is no longer ‘top nation'” inspired by insipid political advertisements in the guise of Allen Sorkin TV-News drama arose in conversation. This was a big lie cementing a reasonable argument (that we have problems that need addressing). Basing an argument on a lie, however good the argument is, weakens your rhetoric and destroys your credibility.

Look people, both right and left, but it seems lately the left of the aisle turns to this more and more (see the above and AGW) … stop it!! Stop using clearly stupid/false things to persuade. If you think tighter gun laws will help bring down gun crime. Prove it with actual data. If you think on the other side, that armed homeowners and women with concealed carry are safer on the streets at night against predators) use actual data not specious easily disprovable remarks. Against both sides of the gun control argument, data I’ve seen has shown that looser gun laws and concealed carry is uncorrelated with increased gun violence. One study demonstrated that legalized “open carry in bars” had no impact on gun violence in a city (or was it cities). Seems to me if restricting or not restricting personal liberties has no impact either way on our society … then “more personal freedom” should be the default choice.

Howzzat Work Anyhow?

Protest movements as evidenced most recently by the Occupy movement basically amount to soft terrorism. That is to say soft in the sense that it is terrorism with muted, understated violence. Instead of blowing up bus stops, eateries, and commuter throughways, they clog them up, pollute them, and fill them with the smell of human effluence unwashed bodies and worse. An even milder yet more understated violence is approaching inexorably toward us in the US … that being the soft nuisance that pretends to be an election season, in which our information channels instead of our commuter ways and shops will be filled with the annoyance of politicians grabbing for our attention.

What puzzles me in this matter is the mystery of why anybody thinks this works. It beggars my imagination how somebody thinks that annoying people will generate sympathy for their cause. This goes for all three of these types of terrorism, from the hard terror of bombs and the homicidal mania that constitutes the al-Qaeda and Palestinian flavors of terror to push polling, TV ads, and blind phone calls.

Is it all just a gamble? Is the gamble that their actions have two parts … that they will innervate and garner support amongst those that are sympathetic more than they will annoy and turn away those that are either uncommitted or against their cause. Because, from where I sit all these movements certainly do the latter. For myself, I’ll admit I have no dog in the Middle East Israel/Palestine disagreements but the Palestinian violence certainly is a convincing argument against the justice and rationality of the Palestinian cause. Likewise, I’m would be sympathetic to the notion that jobs and employment and getting ahead is going to be harder for my children than it was for me. But the OWS movement has certainly soured any sympathy for supporting any of those knuckleheads in any material fashion. Is there any evidence that these methods work? That they don’t do the obvious, that is turn more people against you than not?

There are a species of novels celebrating the anti-hero. Are people so used to this sort of thing that they figure we’ll root for, support, vote for, and otherwise follow you if you anti-advertise?

A Modest Proposal: Campaign Finance Reform

The regrettable Mr Edwards, whom the Democrats just recently discovered, is something of a slime-weasel, is in the news as he is accused of campaign finance “irregularities.” Additionally, the left is up and arms over the high court’s rejection of restrictions on corporate contributions to campaigns. Additionally, we have a problem with our deficit. I have a solution for all three.

Let’s get rid of all campaign finance restrictions. Campaign contributions will be considered, in my proposal, as a contribution directly to the person who is running. He can use those funds however he might see fit, for vacations in the South Pacific, an extension on his house, or for campaign ads, campaign gewgaws and literature, or other campaign related activities. This will have several benefits.

  1. No silly court related cases like the above.
  2. People will think twice about contributing to people of low character.
  3. Contributions will be taxed as income (likely as aggressively as lottery income), and as a result, will have a positive impact on our deficit far greater than the “tax-the-rich” proposals on the table.

So, there you go. Campaign finance irregularities. Solved. Everybody can go home happy now.

 

Or not.

A Quick Question

Recently jobs numbers came out … two data points are of interest and can be used, perhaps, to judge the bias of the sources. One set, points out that January job numbers are up and by one metric unemployment has dropped to 8.3%, getting firmly below 9. The other set, which is new as well, points out the divergence between two proxies which normally track but recently have diverged. Unemployment, as tracked by those applying for unemployment benefits and jobs, normally tracks well with the number of unemployed. Yet in the last 18 months this tracking has diverged. More and more people have (according to the second unemployment proxy) have given up seeking work. By that second metric, unemployment is above 10.5%.

Honest reporting would, I offer, report both points. There are many, who for political reasons, decide on or the other figure is more significant. Are there good reasons besides the nominally “bad” political partisanship ones for not noting both?

Oh, by the by, I’ve got to run early to get to a job site about an hours drive north. My links post will go out tonight.

Question for dem Dems

Apparently in Florida Democrat PACS and large contributors are posting their own pro-Gingrich anti-Romney ads. Two questions. First, do you think that is because the feel Mr Gingrich is a weaker opponent against Mr Obama or is it because they actually prefer him as a possible President. If you thought it was the former, and not the latter, why do you think that supporting a person who you think is less fit for office is your patriotic duty? If you think that it is likely that the answer was the former how do you then explain the lack of objections to this tactics on left leaning blogs?

Public/Private/Home … School, Healthcare, and Beyond

Recently the Paul interview sparked a conversation about the limits of government to take our choices putatively for the public weal. This is, for the nonce, the status quo regarding education. How that impacts us in society is of some relevance as the progressive/liberals in our midst have the notion that this would be a good thing if moved to other spheres, like healthcare. What they fail to do is point out the downside for the ordinary person. Continue reading

The Modern Democratic Party, Adults Need Not Apply — Apparently

The left-wing blob and Democratic pundits and spokesmen have jumped on two recent issues which are closely related. Mr Paul in an interview according to the Democrat POV “wants” a hypothetical 40 y/old uninsured person needing long term medical care to die. Likewise Mr Bachmann is criticized for using unsubstantiated anecdotal claims in a discussion on goverment mandated immunizations.

One of the primary features of adulthood is that you make decisions and own the consequences, the fairy godmother (or your parents) is not going to be there to save your butt if you’re decision turns  out to be a bad mistake. The decision (in the case of the not getting insurance) might even be rational. You’re 40. You might be trying a new business venture and the decision to purchase for 8-12k/year medical insurance might be important for your cash flow. You reckon, from an actuarial standpoint, that there is a 1:100,000 chance of you needing that insurance per year. So you roll the dice figuring in 4 years or so you’ll either give up and be working for someone and getting insurance that way, or you’d strike success and be able to afford it. So you roll the dice and got snake eyes.

The Paul interviewer is offering a false choice. It isn’t “do you care or don’t you?” But instead, are you allowed to be an adult or aren’t you? He’s saying can you or can you not make that choice? Can you be an adult? Should an adult individual be allowed to make a choice which results in death? Can you ride a bike (with or without motor) without a helmet? Can you fly a plane you built and maintain yourself? Should hang gliding be allowed? Cliff diving? Scuba? Or (to borrow from the Bachmann example) can you decide for yourself or your children to not get vaccinated (ignore the irony that the a big bloc of vaccination avoiders are Southern Californian Democrats.

What I fail to grok is why Democrats are so firmly against adulthood. The cynical take is that the party in a large part is dependent for votes on a large somewhat non-adult dependent population. Keeping them in their non-adult dependency is required to keep those votes captive. That may be the motivation of the intelligentsia, but my intuition is that is not the motivation of those not entrenched in government. What I don’t understand is the motivation of the rest? Is it a TANSTAAFL fallacy? That the freedom to be an adult doesn’t restrict (for them) an choices that they would be likely to make so it doesn’t matter, so the rejection of adulthood is a free lunch in their view (ignoring that there is no free lunch). Is that it?  

Stupid Political Question

Would a serious Democrat primary challenge for President help or harm the incumbent?

Remember it would be a platform and forum in which the general election (non-primary) would be framed and the lack of that will mean now till late spring will be dominated by the GOP primary race for which there is no corresponding activity on the Democrat side.

On the other hand, he could lose.

Of Bachmann and Obama

From Best of the Web:

Both are “diversity” pioneers. Obama was the first serious black candidate for president. Bachmann, assuming she does not fade before the nominating contests begin, will be the first serious female candidate (putting aside the nepotist Hillary Clinton). That brings both of them a certain amount of deference from guilty white males. Yesterday Chris Wallace of “Fox News Sunday” opened an interview with Bachmann by offering a groveling apology for having asked her an unchivalrous question weeks ago.

Where the parallels get interesting, though, is in considering why her detractors regard Bachmann as “crazy.” Much of it comes down to religion. “Bachmann belongs to a generation of Christian conservatives whose views have been shaped by institutions, tracts, and leaders not commonly known to secular Americans, or even to most Christians,” writes Ryan Lizza in The New Yorker. Lizza attributes to Bachmann “a set of beliefs more extreme than those of any American politician of her stature.”

He does not mention that the man she seeks to challenge had a “spiritual mentor” who described AIDS as a racist U.S. government plot, said of 9/11 that “America’s chickens are coming home to roost,” published Hamas propaganda in the church newsletter, and thundered from the pulpit: “God damn America!” Obama’s mentor’s beliefs might have seemed normal in the faculty lounge or the offices of The New Yorker, but they were not commonly known to Christians, or even most secular Americans.

Comparisons between Bachmann and Obama while there are several, e.g., both were inexperienced on seeking office and both opposed raising the debt limit, are an odd comparison. This comparison is one that will likely be made primarily by Bachmann oponents, especially in the light of the poor showing by Mr Obama. It is however, a criticism limited to being made on the right as Obama supporters will be less likely to be enthusiastic in drawing parallels between Obama and Bachmann.

The 4th and Books

Well, for those of you can’t help but keep reading and reading and reading … some reading for the 4th.

  1. I haven’t but perused this, but Kass&Kass have a wonderful anthology on Marriage (Wing to Wing) and now they have a new one on what it means to be American. The same thing occurs with the marriage book, liberals are (often? typically?) allergic to reading books or anthologies collected by a someone who is thought conservative. And clearly this is a conservative tome, after all that’s why you have a Veteran’s day speech included by that arch-conservative John Kerry.
  2. One of my favorite US historians to read is David Hackett Fisher, two book by him should be on everyone’s shelf, Washington’s Crossing and Albion’s Seed.
  3. Mr Olson (no relation to my knowledge) points to Chesterton on Patriotism.
  4. A repeated theme over the years on patriotism on this blog is that for myself, I think the patriotic feelings we have for country are best described by the first chapters of the book of Ruth chapter 1.

A Question Regarding Ms Bachmann

I didn’t really follow the career and recent campaign of Ms Bachmann closely, it was not local and didn’t run across my radar. What I did garner was that the left, lumps her with Ms Palin, as a female unequipped and/or completely unsuited for public office. For a mild example, see this post. The left will claim that their outrage is not based on the fact that both are female, in the public eye, and do not (!) support abortion on demand. 

Both of these women had somewhat similar trajectories into politics. Both were mothers who got involved in their school board to right things they found wrong. In Ms Palin’s case, she found corruption and chasing the same (often against her own party) led to a seat in the governors mansion. Ms Bachmann, saw one of her children doing “coloring circles” in high school algebra and was outraged. More on her trajectory here, please read this and this … we’ll wait here. OK. You’re back? For both of these women, if they happened to be not against abortion, and were firmly on the left, then their narrative that brought them to the political stage would be championed as prime examples of how the best of mixing motherhood and public service. But … instead they are targets of outrage and venom from that same source. So ….

Here’s my question to the left, what’s your beef in particular with Ms Bachmann? Why is she seen by you as “completely unsuited” for office? 

Mr Wiener and Immaturity in High Offices

Those on the left, in the dozen or so instances which I came across, almost universally qualify their discussions of Mr Wiener’s recent passing out (exchanges of) PG-13 (and worse) photo’s of himself with a number of women. The qualification includes some sort of admission that “well, there’s nothing wrong with *that*). This is sort of a generic meme on the left. Whatever might be your fetish, it’s OK so long as its between consenting adults. How you know that the person with which you correspond over the Internet is anyone’s guess. However the premise itself is suspect.

Mr Wiener has been engaging in a electronic version of the guy in rubber galoshes in a raincoat whose fetish consists of exposing himself to women. If the public exposer used a defense that “he got consent” and “they women to whom he exposed himself told him they were of age” that doesn’t change the fact that this is nebishy behavior. And that is going to be the electoral poison that kills his career. Not there is a sexually tainted skeleton in his closet, but that his particular skeleton paints his character as one worthy of contempt.

Mr Clinton was a serial sexual offender, but his offense didn’t (apparently) paint him in the same corner as the raincoat wearing creep but as a powerful man with an out of control libido, both qualities that have tacit approval in some quarters. Commenter Boonton suggests that sexual hijinks in the future coming to light will have less and less impact. That may be, but those foibles and fetishes which come to light which paint you as immature at best or as weak or weird will not become more and more accepted.

It is not American puritan influence public sexual ethics that most obviously end Mr Wiener’s public career. It is the particulars and what picture they they, rightfully or not, paint of his character.

Obama and the “Is Really Smart Meme”

The discussion of whether or not Mr Obama is “smart” came up again in a conversation. I thought I’d lay out a few thoughts on that. Before I begin I want to emphasize that I don’t know whether or not he is smart or not. People say he is … and I think they have no real good way of knowing that. The reason I say I don’t know is that I don’t have the background or experience to judge whether or not largely because I really have no instincts or experience of lawyers who are or are not considered, in their field, smart. 

First of, let’s set some groundwork. When people are talking about Mr Obama being smart, what they are not talking about is that he is in the upper 50 percentile of intelligence in the US. Or at the very least that’s certainly not what I understand the term to mean. Some people who offer that Mr Obama is smart, point to academic credentials … attending Columbia, Harvard law, Harvard Law review chair and so on. Yet they also contend without torquing their brains with dissonance that Mr Bush (Yale, Harvard MBA, F-104 fighter pilot) is not. Now, I’ve attended the “Harvard of the Mid-West” (U of Chicago) and in my field there were fellow students who I felt at the time were not, well, very sharp. So mere attendance at a good school does not qualify one automatically as either smart or dumb. Regarding the Law review, I have no idea how one serves on that editorial board or chairs it … but it seems more akin to winning an election to class President than anything writing a brilliant paper or giving a talk like that noted in the next chapter. 

20+ years ago, when I was in graduate school I attended a lecture at the U of Chicago Maths department by Edward Witten. Mr Witten is considered, almost universally, in the Physics (and mathematical Physics community) to be if not the very brightest then on the very short list of the brightest theoretical Physicists alive today. Now, I as a grad student was blown away by his talk … but the interesting thing was that my reading of the reaction by the math department reaction was that they had just witnessed a historic lecture, of the category of Riemann’s famous habilitation (Doctoral defense) lecture in which geometry was completely re-written as a theory of manifolds. This is what I mean by “recognizing” smart. Now Mr Witten is a special (easy) case, for he is on the upper/outer boundary. But the point of this little recollection is to offer that in Maths, Physics, and (as I noted in our conversation) in computer programming I feel qualified to judge “smart.” Now a person who does not know any higher mathematics, when they see a paper or talk by Mr Witten really has no way of judging whether he is smart or just confidently talking nonsensical jargon. In the same manner, I feel no expertise to judge whether a lawyer “doing his thing” is smart or just confidently spouting jargon. But the point is, in the Physics or Maths community there is a sense of who the “smart” people are and people within the field can judge that from their scholarly work. I would expect that much the same is true in the Constitutional law. 

So, when someone opines that Mr Obama is “smart” what that means for me is not that he is in the 60th IQ percentile in the US or some such twaddle (for then the Mr Bush/Ms Palin is dumb argument fails as well),  but that he, who was trained as a Constitutional lawyer, is or was regarded as one of the best and brightest in that field. Was he. I don’t think  that’s the case. Do I think he is smart. I don’t know, but I suspect …. that he is not or that he is now and has always been contending in a field (Politics) where such assessments are really quite meaningless.

Freedom and Right vs Left

It is apparently a self-conceit of progressives/liberals that they are friendlier to notions of liberty than are conservatives. While Libertarians (who are concerned with matters of liberty) disagree with that, today in a comment this was offered:

Name a liberty or freedom other than “the freedom to not be taxed” or “the freedom to screw over others” and progressives support it. (Guns is the only possible exception, but I’d argue that progressives who oppose gun rights generally throw it into the “freedom to screw over others” category.)

Just this week, I was inquiring at my daughter’s middle school whether I could get her excused (for the year) from gym class. She spends 20+ hours a week outside of school training at gymnastics and doesn’t lack one bit for physical exercise. What she does lack is time for homework. I had a nice chat with the school principle who informed me that he would love to do that, but state laws prevent that. It seems that somebody decided that there is a problem with childhood obesity and to help with that they’ve put a stop-gap to anyway of getting dismissed from gym class. He told me that another parent of a gymnast has been trying for 2 years to find a loophole unsuccessfully. Just another example of progressive nanny-state legislation snip snip snipping your freedom away. 

From the wiki article on “nanny state”:

For example, politically conservative or libertarian groups in the United States (especially those that support the free market and capitalism) object to excessive state action to protect people from the consequences of their actions by restricting citizen options.

Liberals on the other hand have used the term to describe the state as being excessive in its protections of businesses and the business class —protections ostensibly made against the public good, and the good of consumers. This usage applies to the international context as well, where the “public good” is used to refer to people in general, and where the state is viewed as being excessive in its protection of native business over foreign (rival) businesses

[Emphasis mine]

I’d point out I have not ever seen the liberal usage noted above, however the point in question in the above is that liberals in fact (as viewed by non-liberals) continually push state actions which prevent people from the consequences of their own (voluntary) actions. This is a restriction of freedom which does not fit into the “not to be taxed” or “screw others” category. The sorts of actions which this includes are countless and continually pushed and have been pushed more and more over the years. Apparently progressives (like JA who offered the above comment orginally) are not even aware that these sorts of regulations and laws are a restriction on our freedom. 

If you ask a Libertarian about the differences between the right and left regarding liberty they (and bloggers Shannon Love at Chicago Boyz and Timothy Sandefur at Freespace) who are both self-professed libertarians assert that while conservatives fall short of liberals regarding freedom in two categories of liberty (sexual and procreative) in all the other matters the left either falls short  or is the same (e.g., religion) and in both of their estimation when these were weighed together all in all the right was either more favorable for liberty than the left. 

Taxes and Wealth Inequalities

I ran across an interesting observation in Fault Lines by Raghuram Rajan (a U of Chicago economist who has the distinction of being on of the economists who clearly and unequivocally warned of and predicted the recession well in advance of its occurance). Anyhow, I thought this quote fragment was insightful when viewing the distinct difference between left and right regarding income inequality, from the beginning of Chapter Nine:

Not all forms of income inequality are economically harmful. Higher wages serve to reward the very talented and the hardworking, identify the jobs in the economy that need the most skills, and signal to the young the benefits of investing in their own human capital. A forced equalization of wages that disregards the marginal contributions of different workers will deaden incentives and lead to a misallocation of resources and effort. 

However, when the only pathways to high wages are seen to be birth, influence, luck, or cheating, wage differentials may not act as a spur to effort. Why bother when effort is not the route to rewards? Ineed, as the political economists Alberto Alesina and George-Marios Angeletos argue, perception in a democracy as to how high wages or wealth are obtained can create self-reinforcing patterns. If society believes people earn high wages as a result of their training and hard work, it is less willing to tax high earners, thereby ensuring they have strong incentives to acquire skills and exert effort. If society believes people earn high wages because of connectedness, chance, or crookedness, then it will tax incomes more heavily, and since few of the honest will then bother to work hard, only those with influence, the lucky, or the cheats will flourish. 

The left and right in the US are distinguished in part by their willingness (or lack thereof) to tax high earners. The left like to pretend that the middle class right is “duped” into wanting to lower taxes on the wealthy because they are just stupid when in reality what is going on is that the middle class believes that the wealthy got that way in the main part due to their training and hard work. One might also observe that the left’s willingness to punish the wealthy will have its own negative social repercussions as noted above as well. 

Mr Rajan also points out that the willingness to tax high earners is higher than it was in the past and the above observation might be a clue to why that might be, that is our perception of who the wealthy consist as well as how they got that way is moving. This is unfortunate. 

 

Two Perceptions of Matters from the Other Side

The first ‘perception’ is an observation of the Democrat elites allergic response to the Tea Party populism. The Tea Party gatherings, according to cricket racers accounts (polls), are as much as 40% . Even If you believe that the cricket racer might be shifting the numbers due to partisan bias in method or reporting … consider that even if the numbers of 2/5ths for you are not credible, to report as such, they are likely greater than a quarter. So, what reason is it that the elite on the left both deny the presence of Democrats in this movement and at the same time show considerable hostility towards it and their primary message? It seems likely that a primary reason is about intellectual turf. The Democrat elite self identify as being the party representing the interests of the common man against the big corporate and wealthy business interests in government. Thus when the common man, which is ontologically that which a populous rising contains, arrays itself against the Democrat elite that is a betrayal. In their naive view, populism should be primarily within their ranks, it should be an internal driving constituent driving force within their party. Them commoners are getting uppity. And inasmuch as they align themselves with the “other” party (which they identify as representing those big corporate and the wealthy) then that’s just plain wrong. This is then a likely cause of the Democrat elite’s allergy to the Tea Party, for populism should be within and supportive of them and, of course, should never primarily seek common ground with the other side.

Which brings me to the other consideration, Mr Obama in a recent speech noted that regarding tax increases for the wealthy that this “wasn’t in his (personal) best interest.” This is only half-true and the part that is true is uncharitable in its implicit assumptions. And the only reason for pointing that out, is that in my view, it is a notion shared by many if not most Democrats. First, let’s get the accuracy of this assertion out of the way. It is indeed against Mr Obama’s interest with respect to taxes to raise the taxes on the wealthy as he is one of those. But as a professional politician, inasmuch as he believes raising taxes on the wealthy raises tax income, more money for the government kitty is in Mr Obama’s direct interest. His “business” is government and more tax income directly aids his professional interest.

As for the uncharitable aspect of this observation this is more important. Because it is shared by those who share that opinion. Mr Obama is willing to support a measure which is against his personal best interest because he feels that measure is in the countries best interest, but … (and here’s the sting in the tail) he is unwilling to grant that motivation to those who oppose him, e.g., the Tea Party. The Tea Party gatherings are a populous movement and as such have dozens (or more) motivations for bringing people aboard, but the overriding motivation is cutting government size and spending. There is a direct parallel between those Mr Obama’s  “I support tax increases for the wealthy which is against my personal (short term) interest because it is in the countries best interest” and the Tea Party person who says “I support cutting government spending which is against my personal (short term) interest because it is in the countries best interest.” Democrats ascribe the first magnanimous statement to themselves but are too uncharitable to consider the same magnanimity to the other side. Consider for yourself how often you’ve heard the argument used by Democrats that these folks are “voting against their own interests.” Yep, that’s right. For exactly the same reason y’all do it if you’d have the graciousness to ascribe the same good motives to the other side. 

Words and Mind: Tax Cuts as Costs for Government

Tax cuts are often discussed in terms of budget impact with phrases like “paying for a tax cut” or as “costing money.” 

In a book I read years ago by a Microsoft engineer about projects development the phrase “idiot bit” was used. The context for that is that when a persons “flips your idiot bit” and you realize they’ve done or said something idiotic the conclusion that that person is not too sharp is a “sticky” conclusion. They may do half-a-dozen things that are insightful and highly innovative … but once you’ve internally labeled that person as “stupid” it takes a lot to reverse that conclusion. Now, anthropologically speaking, this might be in part due to the peculiarities of how perceptions of intelligence is socially valued within the Microsoft (and software) sub-culture … and perhaps as well that this sort of “sticky conclusion” might be generalizable to other sub-cultures and “sticky” conclusions centering around the things they value. 

Usage of the terminology like “paying for tax cuts” and “tax cuts costing money” is a red-flag which, for myself at least, flips a similar “sticky bit.” From a somewhat abstract accounting point of view there is a sort of peculiar logic to that sort of terminology. But usage of that term betrays a level of abstraction and a point of view about taxation and government spending which forgets that taxation is inherently a violence against person or family. Taxation is a necessary evil of government. But to think of less taxes as a “cost” on government is a reversal of what should be the normative point of view, that government and its spending itself is a cost which is paid for by taxes. 

For small government proponents, statements about tax cut as cost “flips” a sticky bit. This means that it is hard to escape categorizing the speaker as a person willfully riding down the road to serfdom and at best a socialist or fascist. 

Some Semi-Random Thoughts

  • It occurred to me a while ago that having noticed that Afghanistan has large reserves of untapped natural resources … that one solution to the social problem there is to let loose the dogs of greed instead of the dogs of war. That is, instead of trying namby-pamby nation building we try some old fashioned colonial exploitation. That is to say, don’t nation build and plan to leave, hire them to help us tap them resources. And make a pretty penny in the process as well.
  • The Administration and the Democrats seems determined to ignore the jobs thing. They offer another “big” financial fix package (well in advance of the return of the commission enacted to figure out the causes returns). Then when they have trouble passing the bill, decide at the 11th hour to “ask business leaders” what impact they think the bill will have. Hmm, clearly the effect on business was not very firm in their vision when they were fussing in their basements putting the bill together. They’re putting together a cap/trade bill to battle the putative effects of carbon emissions. Have they considered the impact on jobs? They’ve decided to fight to stop deep water drilling. Jobs? Nah. From the ’90s recessions started taking longer and longer to recover employment rates. In the 2001 recession it took 23 months to recover after a relatively quick recover on other fronts. If that trend continues … the job thing? Well, it’s likely to be sticking in the 10s for some time.
  • In Fault Lines, Mr Rajan points out that there is a connection between the more impersonal crueler business environment in the US compared the EU where business fail not infrequently, but that innovation is far more prevalent. This he links to the comparative safety nets in the states vs the EU as well. The Democrats would prefer big fat soft safety nets … forgetting there is a price. You lose the pace of  innovation that has enabled so much of the modern world. TANSTAAFL. You think those safety nets are nice and cool? There’s a price. A price many would rather not pay. 
  • In the WSJ yesterday there was a short piece which as an aside highlighted Mr Obama’s part in the 2007 McCain bi-partisan immigration bill. Mr Obama publicly supported the bill, but was instrumental in inserting pieces into the bill which killed it. It may be argued that this is good politics. It is however, fundamentally dishonest. That core dishonesty is a repeating theme with him. 

 

The New Testament and Dialectical Methods

This last weekend our N.T. class delivered homilies based on New Testament passages. I’m drawing on parts of one of the other student’s homilies for what follows.
And when he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” Jesus answered them, “I also will ask you one question, and if you tell me the answer, then I also will tell you by what authority I do these things.The baptism of John, from where did it come? From heaven or from man?” And they discussed it among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From man,’ we are afraid of the crowd, for they all hold that John was a prophet.” So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things. (Matthew 21:23-17)

and take quick read of of the story of Jesus encounter with St. Photina Equal to the Apostles (who is known to the Western traditions as the Samaritan woman at the well) The passage is from John 8,  ESV here

Here’s the point. Look at the structure of the conversation between Jesus and the priests and elders. The elders when asked a question by Jesus when and discussed this among themselves and considered what answer is right or true but instead what would be the implications of their possible answers. Truth was not the consideration, but instead the rhetorical imperatives of trying to win the debate. Contrast with the conversation from John 8. St. Photina does not consider the ramifactions of her conclusions regarding the outcome of the encounter but instead looks only to the correctness of the statements being made.
Consider that comparison in the light of dialectic in the public square and for that matter in your own life, e.g., yourself.