Comments on politics, the culture, economics, and sports by Paul Tuns. I am editor-in-chief of "The Interim," Canada's life and family newspaper, and author of "Jean Chretien: A Legacy of Scandal" (2004) and "The Dauphin: The Truth about Justin Trudeau" (2015). I am some combination of conservative/libertarian, standing athwart history yelling "bullshit!" You can follow me on Twitter (@ptuns).
Sunday, June 30, 2013
Paul Ryan kisses a fish
A picture is worth a thousand words.
Two from Kevin D. Williamson
1. Government spending in context: Kevin D. Williamson tweets: "For comparison: Assuming a standard work week, government spends the equivalent of all 2012 Broadway ticket sales every 8 minutes."
2. Working at the speed and cost of government: Williamson in his interview with the Dallas Morning News: "The Empire State Building was built in 410 days; if all goes according to plan, it will have taken the city 87 years to open the Second Avenue subway line. The Empire State Building cost about $368 million in today’s money to complete; New York has transit projects currently underway that cost more than $1 million per foot." I highly recommend reading the full interview, especially the full final answer from which this quote is taken.
Due to popular demand -- JS and MT have demanded, at least -- weekend stuff returns.
1. What a week to chose to bring back Stuff. Sports Illustrated has the 50 best swimsuit models. Has it really been nearly three decades since Kathy Ireland's first graced an edition of the swimsuit issue (1984).
2. Sean Hojnacki of The Classical reports from the Super Bowl of the Skee-Ball.
3. This Ask Reddit wasted a lot of my time: "What's the most intellectual joke you know?" Quality varies, but don't bother if you don't like math, science, or engineer jokes. The comments in Tyler Cowen's link to this also have a lot of good jokes, although there is a dearth of good economist jokes.
4. Mental Floss has"11 Things We No Longer See on Airplanes," from beds to meat-carving to flower arrangements.
5. The Daily Beast interviews music producer Rick Rubin. Rubin is the founder of Def Jam records and produced Johnny Cash's American Recordings; his two most recent albums are Kanye West's and Black Sabbath's. So even if you haven't heard of Rubin, you've heard his music.
6. From Business Week: "Why Americans are Eating Fewer Hotdogs."
7. Wired.com's Dot Physics' blog: "Could Superman Punch Someone Into Space?"
8. Danger where you wouldn't expect it. From OMG Facts: "The White-footed Deermouse is one of the most dangerous animals in the world." And from The Verge: "Brain-eating amoebas thrive in US lakes."
9. A mom loves watching her sons surf but can't really go in the water because she is a paraplegic. A friend of her sons has an idea: duct tape the mom to him and go surfing. Kottke has the video and other links for Duct Tape Surfing. And Jason Kottke is right: "Man, that smile is incredible."
10. Video of The Bad Piper playing "Thunderstruck" on bagpipes that shoot flames. (HT: Boing Boing)
Gerry Nicholls on the pre-emptive looting by the RCMP
Gerry Nicholls has a humour column on the RCMP stealing guns from homeowners affected by the flooding in High River, Alberta. Nicholls concludes: "Admittedly, all this might seem like a little bit of an infringement on our Charter guaranteed rights and freedoms, but let’s face it, if the government and the police won’t infringe on our rights to protect us from ourselves, who will?"
Three and out
3. The sausage races at Milwaukee Brewers games are 20 years old and Jay Jaffe writes about it at SI.com.
2. David Pinto of Baseball Musings says that even though Baltimore Orioles 3B Manny Machado has 37 doubles before July 1, it will be difficult to break the single-season record of 67 (set in 1931 by Earl Webb). Machado is on pace to break the record but as Pinto explains, the regression monster means his has just a 2.5% chance to break the record or if he continues his career doubles pace, a 38% chance. Pinto also produces a chart of players who have hit at least 50 doubles since 1957 and few players who have hot halves sustain them.
1. According to the Wall Street Journal seagulls are San Francisco Giants fans, although the problem of gull infestations is not unique to San Fran: "This season, seagulls are showing up in unusually big numbers at waterfront parks all over the country, according to an informal survey of field managers."
Ontario's Premier/Agriculture Minister
This is a few week's old but I got a good laugh from it: Ontario PC MPP Michael Harris noted Premier Kathleen Wynne's ignorance when it comes to life on the farm; a real Ag Minister would know the difference between hay and straw.
RCMP changes story on High River, Alberta gun seizures
The National Post's Matt Gurney describes how the RCMP has changed its story and why taking guns from law-abiding citizens should be a concern -- although Gurney says it matters to law-abiding gun owners and I'd say it should matter to all Canadians who value their privacy and liberty.
Higher education bubble
Investor's Business Daily editorializes:
Why does higher-ed inflation never seem to end? There are many answers to that question, but a key one is the student-loan program itself. It is structured as a free ride for the colleges, who get their money whether or not they successfully educate students.If a graduate fails to gain the skills needed for a job that's sufficient to pay off student loans, that's a problem only for the graduate and the lender (which these days is usually the taxpayer). The college has no skin in the game.So, along with tweaking the student loan program, Congress needs to take a broader view of the issue. It needs to treat the colleges as part of the problem and part of the solution. Ending academia's free ride would be a good start.One promising idea, from law professor and author Glenn Reynolds, is to make schools pay back a portion of tax-subsidized loans when students default. This is one way — there are others — to tie colleges' pay to their performance.
SCOTUS justice agreement infographic
The Washington Post has an incredible infographic of how often each Supreme Court of the United States justice agreed with each other justice. Click on a judge to see precise percentages. You'll find out that Chief Justice John Roberts never agreed (in full or in part) with Justice Sonia Sotomayor but joined Justice Samuel Alito 86% of the time. The only other justices to never agree: Alito and Elena Kagan and Alito and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. It surprised me that Justice Antonin Scalia agreed with Ginsburg, Kagan, and Sotomayer about one-quarter of the time (but Stephen Breyer just 4% of the time). Justice Anthony Kennedy was the only justice to agree with every other justice at least 30% of the time and only justice to not agree with another at least 70% of the time, and he agreed with the "conservative" wing of the Court 10 times and sided with the "liberal wing" six times. Ginsburg and Kagan agree more often than any other tandem (96%).
Altruism is not better than capitalism
Ralph Gomory, a research professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business and a recipient of the National Medal of Science, writes about altruism in the Washington Post, juxtaposing giving to others and business activity:
On some level people understand that it is human nature to try to help, even if doing so involves risk or sacrifice.This part of human nature is largely absent in business, a world that believes almost entirely in motivation through self-interest and even in the social good of self-interest. This viewpoint was famously summarized by Adam Smith: “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.”
Two points: 1) entrepreneurialism often involves risk and sacrifice so throwing those words around to make those who supposedly selflessly help seem more noble is a bit dishonest, and 2) Adam Smith was right; the self-interest of Walmart and other stores feed more people than all the charities in America.
The laws of evolution and the experiences of daily life suggest that humans have an inherent desire to contribute to others. Organizations that take this side of human nature into account may well function better than those whose single goal is profit. And the people in those corporations, using both sides of their natures, will also lead more fulfilling lives.
My problem with this line of thinking is that it assumes the "single goal of profit" is incompatible with contributing to others, when in fact voluntary exchange is a wonderful and efficient way for strangers to help one another; indeed, markets is another word for cooperation. There is definitely room for volunteerism and charity, but setting altruism against entrepreneurialism as opposing ideas and mechanism is not only incorrect, it is wrong; it is wrong to suggest that entrepreneurs are less noble than volunteers and donors.
Saturday, June 29, 2013
Kenneth Minogue, RIP
Powerline's Steven Hayward notes that London School of Economics professor emeritus Kenneth Minogue has passed away. Couldn't find any obits yet online. Minogue's 1963 The Liberal Mind was his first and probably best book. His 1995 slim volume, Politics: A Very Short Introduction is probably the best short book on the topic. He edited a volume on conservatism at about the same time, Conservative Realism: New Essays in Conservatism, that I find myself going back to often enough to make it my most read book by Minogue. I found The Servile Mind: How Democracy Erodes the Moral Life (2010) too difficult to read and didn't finish it. Minogue was an occasionally great essayist; for example last month, Minogue wrote in Standpoint about UKIP and its resistance to the international oligarchy. He also wrote frequently for The New Criterion. There was not much original thought and there is no Minogue school of thought or big idea attached to his name in the same way as there is for his long time colleague at LSE, Michael Oakeshott. There are quite a number of his interviews and lectures on YouTube including his time on Firing Line discussing "Is there a conservative ideology?"
Bert & Ernie exploited by The New Yorker
Slate has the New Yorker cover and the story why is wrong for the magazine to use Bert and Ernie to celebrate the Supreme Court's scuttling of DOMA.
India's snoopy state is worse than America's snoopy state
India doesn’t seem to worry that the surveillance scandal recently rocking the US might perturb its own citizens. The country is going ahead with an ambitious program that will let it monitor any one of its 900 million telecom subscribers and 120 million internet users.The Centralised Monitoring System (CMS) will be operational in 10 of the country’s 22 telecom “circles” (i.e., regions) by the end of the year, according to the Press Trust of India. The far-reaching surveillance program rivals the worst in the world, and makes the US National Security Agency (NSA) look like a model of restraint.The NSA, as revealed in media reports earlier this month, has been monitoring phone-call metadata (such as phone numbers and call durations) on a widespread basis for years, but has to get the approval of a (albeit secret) court to spy on the calls themselves or the content of emails. The CMS, by contrast, will give nine Indian government agencies—including the tax department—the power to access, in real-time, phone conversations, video conferences, text messages, emails, and even internet search data and social media activity, and will work without any independent oversight, Reuters reports; the agencies can start monitoring targets without the approval of the courts or the parliament.
Gay marriage for the children, or something like that
The Wall Street Journal has a story (behind the subscriber wall) entitled, "In a Twist, Children Help Propel Gay-Marriage Ruling: Court, Citing Harm to Families, Turns Rationale for Invalid Laws on Its Head." Conservatives need to understand that the Left usurped "family values."
You mean Sudbury has visitors?
The state broadcaster reports: "Sudbury shutters Hwy 69 visitor centre." The move saves about $6000 in operating costs and more in upgrades and maintenance. Knowing how expensive even local government costs can be, if the northern Ontario city is saving six grand to not operate it, it wasn't serving many visitors. Despite the cheekiness of the header on this post, let's be serious: who goes on vacation without doing a little research on the internet? Visitors centers are a 20th century phenomenon and I would guess many states and cities will find savings in the future by shuttering these buildings.
The Tories love government
Despite Conservative rhetoric that they want to make government leaner, since they have come to power, precisely the opposite is occurring in Ottawa. The Canadian Press reports:
New data published by the Parliamentary Budget Office has tracked annual civil service payroll numbers by job classification and by federal department, and both are illuminating.The PBO spread sheets reveal the number of individuals on the federal payroll rose 14 per cent between the end of the 2005-06 fiscal year, when Harper's Conservatives came to office, and 2012.Information services employees were up 15.3 per cent, administrative services rose 20 per cent, financial management staff jumped 35 per cent and welfare program employees were up 43 per cent, according to the PBO ...
Much has been made of spending cuts in the Conservative government's 2012 budget, which proposed slashing 19,000 positions from the federal public service over five years.According the PBO data, more than 34,000 individuals were added to the public payroll between 2006 and 2012.
Not surprisingly, most of the increase comes in the areas of policing, justice, security and surveillance (military, RCMP, border control, corrections, and intelligence bureaucracies).
Wind power is an expensive waste. And the waste is less defensible than the expense
Michel Kelly-Gagnon, president of the Montreal Economic Institute, in Sun News:
Ontario has invested more than any other province in wind power, with just over 2,000 MW of installed capacity, according to the Canadian Wind Energy Association. (Quebec is second with some 1,700 MW, followed by Alberta with 1,100 MW.) But Ontario, like Quebec, also has more energy than it needs.According to a recent Fraser Institute report, since 2006, around 80% of the wind power generated in the province has occurred "at times when it was unneeded, in other words when at least as much power production was being dumped on the export market."
And as Kelly-Gagnon notes, in Quebec wind is 2.5 times more expensive to produce than hydroelectricity.
The state vs. citizens
From the Washington Post: "Number of federal wiretaps rose 71 percent in 2012." The paper reports:
The number of wiretaps secured in federal criminal investigations jumped 71 percent in 2012 over the previous year, according to newly released figures.The office collects the figures from federal and local jurisdictions at the request of Congress, but does not interpret the statistics. There is no explanation of why the federal figures increased so much, and it is generally out of line with the number of wiretaps between 1997 and 2009, which averaged about 550 annually. There was also a large number of wiretaps in 2010, when 1,207 were secured.Federal courts authorized 1,354 interception orders for wire, oral and electronic communications, up from 792 the previous year, according to the figures, released Friday by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts. There was a 5 percent increase in state and local use of wiretaps in the same period.“This is just one more piece of evidence demonstrating the need for a full, informed public debate about the scope, breadth, and pervasiveness of government surveillance in this country,” Mark Rumold, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said in an e-mail. “We have a secret surveillance program churning in the background, sweeping in everyone’s communications, and, at the same time, in the shadows (and frequently under seal), law enforcement is constantly expanding its use and reliance on surveillance in traditional criminal investigations.”
Three and out
3. I can watch this gif of Delmon Young of the Philadelphia Phillies getting picked off all day. What was he doing?
2. Happy Dominion Day weekend, Richard Barbieri of Hardball Times picks the all-Canada team, although the middle of the infield may not qualify as "Canadian" because they were born before Confederation.
1. David Pinto of Baseball Musings explains why Detroit Tigers Miguel Cabrera 3B was probably happy to miss hitting for cycle last night.
Friday, June 28, 2013
The Roberts Court: moving rightward
You could take this as a bit of brilliant insight or fear-mongering from the paper of record:
Chief Justice Roberts has proved adept at persuading the court’s more liberal justices to join compromise opinions, allowing him to cite their concessions years later as the basis for closely divided and deeply polarizing conservative victories.
I hope and suspect this is true.
About that cops stealing guns from homeowners in Alberta story that I highlighted this morning
Gerry Nicholls tweets: "To forestall looters, cops decide to do the looting themselves. http://shar.es/xMbE2."
The student loan guarantee is immoral: Reynolds
Glenn Reynolds in the Wall Street Journal:
Now here's where the real immorality kicks in. The skyrocketing cost of a college education is a classic unintended consequence of government intervention. Colleges have responded to the availability of easy federal money by doing what subsidized industries generally do: Raising prices to capture the subsidy. Sold as a tool to help students cope with rising college costs, student loans have instead been a major contributor to the problem.In truth, America's student loan problem won't be solved by low interest rates—for many students, the debt would be crippling even if the interest rate were zero.If we want to solve the very real problem of excessive student-loan debt, college costs need to be brought under control. A 2010 study by the Goldwater Institute identified "administrative bloat" as a leading reason for higher costs. The study found that many American universities now have more salaried administrators than teaching faculty.
Two good questions from Tyler Cowen
1. "What is the political equilibrium when insect-sized drone assassins are available?" Cowen has several observations and concludes we end up wishing for the Great Stagnation.
2. "Who is the most influential public intellectual of the last twenty-five years?" I'm not thrilled with Cowen's answer that Andrew Sullivan seems to have topped Milton Friedman, but he's probably correct. Pope John Paul II needs serious consideration.
The state vs. citizens
The Calgary Herald reports that RCMP went through the evacuated homes in High River, Alberta, and confiscated the guns:
He did confirm that officer relied on forced entry to get into numerous houses during the early stages of the flood because of an “urgent need”, said [police spokesman Sgt.] Topham.Police are no longer forcing themselves into homes and the residences that were forced open will be secured, he said.Topham said the confiscated firearms have been inventoried and are secured at an RCMP detachment. He was not at liberty to say how many firearms had been confiscated.“We have seized a large quantity of firearms simply because they were left by residents in their places,” said Topham.
Confirming what we all knew anyway
The Washington Times reports:
The IRS inspector general said this week that while some liberal groups were given extra scrutiny by the tax agency, they were not subjected to the same invasive queries as tea party groups — a finding that seems to confirm a political bias was at play.In a letter sent late Wednesday and released Thursday, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration J. Russell George said that just 30 percent of groups with the word “progressive” in their name were put through special scrutiny for tax-exempt applications, but 100 percent of groups with “tea party,” “patriot” or “9/12” in their name were subjected to invasive questioning.
Liberal MPPs see writing on the wall?
Another Liberal MPP is not waiting until the next Ontario election to leave politics. This time it's former cabinet minister Margaret Best. That's five former cabinet members leaving politics in the past six months.
Thursday, June 27, 2013
The market has spoken
The Daily Caller: "Forbes: Glenn Beck earned more than Oprah over last year." It's $90 million vs. $77 million.
Speaking of Glenn Beck ... via Five Feet of Fury you have too watch/listen to the two videos of Beck reading tweets from Trayvon Martin's "classy friend.". President Barack Obama said if he had a son he'd look like Trayvon; do you think that Obama's kids have friends who brag on social media they like to get high and announce on Twitter they're going to drink and drive?
'The Inside Story of Russia's Fight to Keep the U.N. Corrupt'
Colum Lynch has an excellent and long report at ForeignPolicy.com on how Russia is preventing reform at the United Nations:
For much of the past decade, Russia has been engaged in a systematic effort to stymie attempts to root out corruption in U.N. spending. The Russians have pushed out U.N. reformers. They've defanged watchdogs. And they've blocked internal budget reforms aimed at saving costs.
It starts with leasing Soviet-era planes for the UN's $1 billion-a-year fleet and goes on from there. Very good report, although the UN's dysfunction and general cover for tyrants makes Russia far from the only regime that has little interest in reforming the institution.
Three and out
3. At Fangraphs Dave Cameron makes a compelling case for the Oakland A's trading for Philadelphia Phillies 2B Chase Utley: "Chase Utley is still very good at baseball. Chase Utley is the prototypical Oakland A’s kind of player, and he would be a massive upgrade over Eric Sogard." It isn't going to happen because the Phillies are delusional and won't rebuild or even retool by moving players who are going to be free agents after this season. But it fits an A's need and Philly should be moving him.
2. The New York Yankees fell to the Texas Rangers in a 2-0 loss at home this afternoon. The "Bronx Bombers" had two hits and two walks. Four baserunners. Repeat: four baserunners. This against Derek Holland, who is 0-5 with an 8.85 ERA against the Yankees in regular-season play. The Yanks have not scored in the first inning in a game now for 19 straight contests. But you construct a lineup like this, no wonder: leading off is Ichiro Suzuki and his 314 OBP (not BA, but OBP), followed by Jason Nix and his 306 OBP. Robinson Cano was in the three spot (which is fine) and hitting cleanup was Vernon Wells who sports a 264 OBP and 369 SLG and even that exaggerates how good he is considering that he had a monster April followed by an ice cold May and June. Injuries have hurt the Yankees a lot, but there is no reason to have your most unproductive players at the top of the lineup.
1. Bill Parker of SB Nation wonders if David Ortiz is the best DH ever? Not quite. Says Parker: "There's just not a meaningful comparison to be made here; Ortiz has been great for quite a while, but [Edgar] Martinez was greater for longer, and he's your all-time greatest DH." To me Ortiz is the second-best DH of all-time, and that's because Paul Molitor and Frank Thomas played most of their career, or a significant portion of it, at other positions.
Victory for free speech/defeat for credentialism (both are good things)
Americans have reason to celebrate because the Institute for Justice has won a legal victory for one of its clients:
This morning, in a big win for free speech, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held that diabetic blogger Steve Cooksey’s First Amendment lawsuit against the North Carolina Board of Dietetics/Nutrition may go forward.Cooksey ran a Dear Abby-style advice column on his blog in which he gave one-on-one advice about how to follow the low carbohydrate “paleo” diet. The Board deemed Cooksey’s advice the unlicensed practice of nutritional counseling, sent him a 19-page print-up of his website indicating in red pen what he was and was not allowed to say, and threatened him with legal action if he did not comply.The decision reverses a previous ruling by a federal district judge that had dismissed Cooksey’s case, reasoning that advice is not protected speech and hence Cooksey had suffered no injury to his First Amendment rights.
This didn't take long
After the Supreme Court's gay marriage rulings, the Salt Lake City Tribune reports:
Polygamists and their supporters celebrated Wednesday, saying they see implications for their cause in the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act.Just hours after the court ruled that DOMA was unconstitutional, Joe Darger said he and his family were pleased. Darger, who with his three wives detailed their life in the book "Love Times Three: Our True Story of a Polygamous Marriage," said the ruling should help remedy polygamists’ treatment as "second-class citizens."
In a provincial poll by Probe Research, the Manitoba Progressive Conservatives lead the governing NDP 46-28. The big shift is growing Tory support in Winnipeg, where the party usually performs poorly in provincial elections. The state broadcaster reports that NDP Premier Greg Selinger was recently rated one of the country's top three premiers by a different poll, but that he had also increased the provincial sales tax. This might not mean much considering that the next provincial election won't be held until 2015, but it is nice to see that Manitoba voters could even consider turfing the NDPers.
Good news from Ottawa
Sun News reports: "Hate speech provision in Human Rights Act struck down." Back in 2008 I urged that human rights commissions be closed or curbed because the hate speech provision (Section 13) was being used to punish politically incorrect speech. The Senate passing Brian Storseth's bill C-304 helps curb them. Here's what the Sun's David Akin said about the effect of C-304:
Section 13 ostensibly banned hate speech on the Internet and left it up to the quasi-judicial human rights commission to determine what qualified as "hate speech." But, unlike a court, there was no presumption of innocence of those accused of hate speech by the commission. Instead, those accused had to prove their innocence.With elimination of Section 13, producing and disseminating hate speech continues to be a Criminal Code violation but police and the courts will adjudicate rather than human rights tribunals.
Now the provinces should do the same with respect to their own human rights legislation.
The Washington Times reports: "President Obama’s approval rating sits at 43 percent, with 51 percent of registered voters and 61 percent of independent voters disapproving of his job performance, according to a new poll from Fox News." This is wonderful: "Sixty-one percent disapprove of how Mr. Obama is handling the government’s surveillance program that collects phone and Internet records of U.S. citizens."
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Three and out
3. David Pinto at Baseball Musings notes that R.A Dickey has owned the Tampa Bay Rays the last two seasons, first as a New York Met and this season as a Toronto Blue Jay: 12 hits allowed in 32 innings in 2012 and 2013, including one-hit and two-hit shutouts.
2. Should teams trade for Miami Marlins "ace" Ricky Nolasco? Nolasco is the only Marlin making more than $3 million this season, and it's significantly more at $11.5 million in his walk year. I expect the Marlins to trade Nolasco well before the July 31 trading deadline 1) to save a little extra money and 2) to move him before anything can happen to him. There is no way Nolasco will be in Marlins uniform in 2014 so there is absolutely no reason to keep him around for the rest of the season. With the certain exception of the Detroit Tigers and probable exception of the St. Louis Cardinals there is no team in contention for a playoff position for whom Nolasco would not represent a major improvement on a current fourth or fifth starter. Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs has a very in-depth look at Nolasco season and career and concludes that as long as a team isn't looking for a top of the rotation type starter, Nolasco would be a good pick up for most teams. This, of course, assumes a price that is not exorbitantly high in prospects and with the Marlins desperate to move him, the price won't be high -- at least to start the bidding. However, with the price starting low and virtually every team (to use Sullivan's actual phrase) being interested, the price will probably rise. I expect that every team in the NL West, the Cleveland Indians, Baltimore Orioles, and Texas Rangers, and possibly the Washington Nationals and New York Yankees to be seriously interested. I will be surprised if he doesn't end up in the NL West unless the Orioles make a play for him (two of their current starters have ERAs over 5.00 although rookie Kevin Gausman will be given a chance to prove himself).
1. Hardball Talk's Matthew Pouliot notes that Seattle Mariners DH Raul Ibanez is on pace to become the first player 41 or older to hit 30 or more HRs in a season. Today he hit his 18th round-tripper of the season. He has played in just 58 of Seattle's 79 games and already ranks tied for seventh for most homeruns in a season by a player over 40. Only four players have hit 20 HRs in a season after turning 41, with Barry Bonds doing it twice.
Apocalypse not now
We often hear how the world as we know it will end, usually through ecological collapse. Indeed, more than 40 years after the Club of Rome released the mother of all apocalyptic forecasts, The Limits to Growth, its basic ideas are still with us. But time has not been kind.The Limits to Growth warned humanity in 1972 that devastating collapse was just around the corner. But, while we have seen financial panics since then, there have been no real shortages or productive breakdowns. Instead, the resources generated by human ingenuity remain far ahead of human consumption.But the report’s fundamental legacy remains: We have inherited a tendency to obsess over misguided remedies for largely trivial problems, while often ignoring big problems and sensible remedies.
The sensible solutions Lomborg calls for (economic growth) is precisely that which the Left fears (because they think economic dynamism is bad for the environment):
The obsession with doom-and-gloom scenarios distracts us from the real global threats. Poverty is one of the greatest killers of all, while easily curable diseases still claim 15 million lives every year–25 percent of all deaths.The solution is economic growth. When lifted out of poverty, most people can afford to avoid infectious diseases. China has pulled more than 680 million people out of poverty in the last three decades, leading a worldwide poverty decline of almost 1 billion people. This has created massive improvements in health, longevity, and quality of life.The four decades since The Limits of Growth have shown that we need more of it, not less. An expansion of trade, with estimated benefits exceeding $100 trillion annually toward the end of the century, would do thousands of times more good than timid feel-good policies that result from fear-mongering. But that requires abandoning an anti-growth mentality and using our enormous potential to create a brighter future.
Obama's failed African trip
At ForeignPolicy.com, Mwangi S. Kimenyi writes: "Why President Obama's tour of Africa is already a disappointment." Kimenyi makes some good points about how little time Obama has spent in Africa, how few countries he has visited, and which regionally important countries he has ignored, and some less good points about which kinds of programs need to be supported (charging the President with focusing on investment in individual countries rather than pushing for regional integration). But Kimenyi's conclusion is important:
Obama will almost certainly return home empty-handed. So, what will he accomplish beyond symbolism? Probably not much. The president's advisors will spin the trip as proof that Obama hasn't ignored Africa and that the region is an important U.S. partner. And while the latter bit might be true, most Africans don't see it that way.
'Arab Idol' and Hamas
The New York Times reports:
The winner of “Arab Idol,” a one-time wedding singer who made it big, returned home here on Tuesday to both excitement and unease.The popular pan-Arab talent contest put Hamas, the Islamic militant group that rules in Gaza, in a bind because the group’s strictly religious followers considered the show inherently un-Islamic. Hamas has been stepping up its public virtues campaign recently, trying to bar women from smoking water pipes and unwed couples from walking along the beach. “Arab Idol” was deemed inappropriate because of its romantic songs and unveiled female singers and presenters in ornate, Western-style dresses.Despite all of this, the show was a runaway success.
The Times also reported:
Hamas authorities prevented fans from installing a screen in Gaza’s main square to show the broadcast live from Beirut. Instead, Gazans watched the finals in their homes or at cafes. Al-Aqsa TV, the Hamas television station in Gaza, ignored the entire competition.At the same time, Hamas has been careful not to push too strongly against the popular tide.One Hamas lawmaker from Khan Yunis, Yehia Moussa, wished Mr. Assaf success on Facebook, prompting a wave of criticism online from other Hamas supporters.“For ideological reasons, Hamas considers this kind of art as being against Islam and religious culture,” said Mkhaimar Abusada, a professor of political science at Gaza’s Al-Azhar University. But, he said, “the low-ranking delegation sent to receive Assaf was meant to avoid reproach by possible critics.”
At some level I'm conflicted but I guess if it comes down to Idol vs. Hamas, the choice should be easy.
The Left fiddles while Sweden literally burns (men sitting to pee edition)
Remember about a month ago when Sweden was dealing with riots? Apparently that isn't the only thing occupying the time of Swedish politicians. Someone sent along a story about a city councilor in Sormland, Sweden is trying to get sit-down only toilets in city facilities to ensure men cannot stand while urinating. I double checked to make sure there were other sources for the story and indeed there are (Huffington Post and The Local). The Left Party's Viggo Hansen, a substitute member of the county council and the force behind the sit-while-urinating agenda, says there are two primary reasons for doing this: hygiene and health. The first is obvious: men are more likely to get their pee in the toilet when they don't have to aim (although it astonishes me that adult males miss urinals and toilets after years of practice). The second reason is the alleged health benefits of emptying the bladder while sitting. Hansen denies he is dictating people's bathroom habits, but there appears to be another agenda, which the councilor admits to: genderless washrooms. I'm not usually of the mind that X shouldn't be an issue for politicians because Y needs to be addressed, but you can't help but wonder about the priorities of Swedish politicians considering what their country has just gone through.
Ontario's green energy boondoggle
The Waterloo Region Record editorializes about the Ontario government's green energy scheme:
The Ontario Liberals are striving mightily to portray their disastrous green energy program as a rousing success. Do not believe them. It is an abject failure that inflated electricity costs, alienated rural communities and never lived up to its billing as the engine not just of more jobs but an entirely new manufacturing sector ...
For months, Ontarians have been justifiably outraged by the same government's cavalier cancellation of two gas-fired electricity plants, arguably for political reasons and at a cost to the public of at least $585 million. The green energy program is as big a fiasco — and will cost more in the long-run.
'Motives Aside, the NSA Should Not Spy on Us'
Sheldon Richman at Reason.com on snoopy government:
“Government is not reason, it is not eloquence — it is force. Like fire it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master; never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action.” Although often attributed to George Washington, that famous quotation was probably was not uttered by him. Nevertheless, its value lies in what it says, not in who said it.At best, government represents a risk to the people it rules. Even under a tightly written constitution and popular vigilance — both of which are easier to imagine than to achieve — government officials will always have the incentive and opportunity to push the limits and loosen the constraints.
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Three and out
3. The 2013 New York Yankees have rediscovered their 2012 Bronx Bomber ways: they beat the Texas Rangers 4-3 tonight off of not only Ichiro Suzuki's bottom-of-the-ninth homer, but four one-run HRs. ESPN Stats & Info with a great stat: "Ichiro Suzuki: 2nd career walk-off HR. His other came in 2009 off Mariano Rivera, who got the win for the Yankees tonight."
2. I agree with Will Leitch of Sports on Earth: Mariano Rivera should not start the All Star game; he must play but to close the game, or if the American League is not ahead at the bottom of the eighth, in the eighth inning.
1. I also agree with Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports that Los Angeles Dodgers rookie outfield sensation Yasiel Puig deserves to be in the All Star Game. I don't agree with all of Rosenthal's reasons, including this too specific, cherry-picked argument: "According to Inside Edge, Puig is one of four right-handed hitters to hit at least five opposite-field homers this season. Miguel Cabrera has hit eight such homers in 292 at-bats; Nelson Cruz, six in 273 at-bats; Evan Longoria, five in 296 at-bats. Puig has five in 77 at-bats." So? Here's a better reason that Rosenthal offers: "The All-Star Game is a showcase event, occurring at the one time of year when baseball alone commands center stage on the North American sporting landscape. Maximum entertainment should be the goal. And right now, in this sport, Yasiel Puig is maximum entertainment." Puig has only played 20 games and has only 77 at-bats, but he's hit a remarkable 442/476/753 with 7 HRs. MLB needs to showcase its young, exciting talent whenever it can, and Puig definitely qualifies.
The Washington Times: "Democratic lawmaker hits justice as ‘Uncle Thomas’." That lawmaker would be Minnesota state representative Ryan Winkler.
It is difficult to tell which one is the bigger whore
Real Clear Politics reports that Donald Trump will address the Iowa Family Leader’s meeting in August.
Keeping the plantation secure
The Daily Caller reports that Democrats are
Within hours of the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Voting Rights Act the Democratic National Committee posted a petition and began fundraising off the decision.Tuesday, the court struck down a portion of the Voting Rights Act and called on Congress to enact a new manner of determining which states and localities’ voting laws require permission from the federal government.In an email to supporters, Donna Brazile — the vice-chair for Voter Registration and Participation for the Democratic National Committee — called the decision an “injustice” and warned that the voting access “threats are real.”
Higher education bubble
Walter Russell Mead has a very good post on how the "the unconscionable upward drift of college tuition and fees are stressing the most vulnerable." But I think he isn't explicit enough in his point. Mead points to a Washington Post story on how families that send their children to disproportionately black colleges are not getting approved for student loans (overall student loan qualification is down, too). Mead notes the Post has found the reason: a technical adjustment in Department of Education lending requirements two years ago. Predictably there are calls for a relaxation of the rules for those (in the words of the Post) "unjustly deprived of loans." I don't know if this so-called deprivation is unjust, but perhaps those advocating reversing the 2011 policy should remember the housing bubble created by a relaxation of mortgage rules in the 1990s which pushed people into houses they couldn't really afford. Education, like home ownership, isn't always a wise investment and it isn't for everyone.
Odd pro-abortion pandering: I wish my loved ones didn't exist
LauraLoo at JillStanek.com notes:
Along with other Democrats recently voicing their approval on abortion-related topics, Chelsea Clinton recently lamented that her great-grandparents, who conceived her grandmother in an unplanned, unwed pregnancy, did not have access to “crucial” Planned Parenthood services.So what is Chelsea saying? Is she in one sense wishing away her beloved grandmother, thereby wishing away her mother and herself? Is she, like some PP supporters including President Obama, using family members in an extremely awkward fashion to pander to pro-choicers and Planned Parenthood?
Or is Chelsea Clinton too dumb to understand that if her grandmother didn't exist, she wouldn't exist?
Price gouging does not exist -- and what you think it is is a good thing
Robert Huck explains why market pricing during natural disasters such as a flood in Calgary is the best for everyone, not just sellers. In short: people hoard under-priced goods and other people are stuck without. How is that just, fair or compassionate? To put it in terms that the Left (indeed most people) would understand: how is it fair to not let the people who most want something to pay for it and ostensibly screw everyone else, but it is fair to let the first people who arrive at a store buy everything and definitely screw everyone else?
(HT: Five Feet of Fury)
NSA and Snowden in a nutshell
From Kids Prefer Cheese:
Apparently ...(1) what YOU don’t know can’t hurt YOU,(2) what THEY don’t know can hurt YOU,(3) THEY need to know what YOU know,(4) but YOU need not know that THEY need to know,(5) And YOU certainly do not need to know what THEY know,(6) moreover, if YOU know THEY need to know, then the big WE can get hurt, so THEY can hide that, out of concern for YOU.(7) And mostly, we should all care more about the big WE than anything else. Especially, the big WE is more important than YOU, or YOU, or...Or so THEY say...
Monday, June 24, 2013
Not a Seinfeld episode
George Zimmerman's lawyer opens his defense with a knock-knock joke.
'Forgotten scandals still are scandals'
Mandy Nagy at Legal Insurrection:
While the public shifts its attention to more recent scandals, such as that of the flap regarding the NSA, the scandals of days gone by like the IRS and Benghazi still haven’t been resolved ...USA Today reports this afternoon that an IRS official says the agency has discovered that other ‘inappropriate’ screening of tax-exempt groups was being done through ‘be on the lookout’ lists ...And turning to Benghazi, FOX News reported over the weekend that records show the trail of Benghazi security lapses leads to State Department senior leadership.
If schools want better teachers, avoid teachers' colleges & university programs
The Wall Street Journal reports that a study by the National Council on Teacher Quality finds that the United States is not producing good teachers:
As evidence mounts that teacher quality is one of the biggest determinants of student achievement, critics have complained that teacher-training programs have lax admission standards, scattered curriculum, and fail to give aspiring teachers real-life classroom training. The report echoes the complaints, saying many graduates lack the necessary classroom-management skills and subject knowledge needed. The report contends that it is too easy to get into teacher-preparation programs, with only about a quarter of them restricting admissions to applicants in the top half of their class. The typical grade-point-average to get into undergraduate programs is about 2.5, it said.
The NCTQ wants a better way to evaluate the country's teacher's colleges and tomorrow it will release a four-star grade for 1,200 programs at 608 institutions that account for 72% of teacher graduates.
This part of the story is cause for both optimism and caution:
Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who has criticized education colleges, praised the ratings. "Teachers deserve better support and better training than teachers' colleges today provide, and school districts should be able to make well-informed hiring choices," he said.
It is good that the Education Secretary knows that teacher training is in an abysmal state, but the problem might invite a federal program to address it.
Multiculturalism in the United Kingdom
The Lancashire Telegraph reports: "Blackburn community cohesion chief looking at ways to prevent forced marriage." As Blazing Cat Fur says, "First off your need to appoint a 'community cohesion chief' says you've already failed."
Here's the problem with multiculturalism: cultures are different and some are disgusted by forced marriage and some practice it because they are backward. Some say female circumcision is barbaric, others practice it -- even in England on seven-year-olds. Some are horrified by terrorism while others have large populations sympathetic to using terrorist means. Either society and its institutions respect other cultures completely or they admit that multiculturalism doesn't work and that immigrant cultures only get to keep some of the innocuous trappings of their old ways (food, language, their names) and their religious beliefs to the extent that they don't physically harm others or advocate doing so.
Multiculturalism isn't summer camp where relatively similar people from different towns and cities go to the country for a week or a month and sing campfire songs; it invites people from all over the globe with radically different ways of viewing the world to live among each other in the hope it will all work out in the end. Sometimes you apparently need a "community cohesion chief" to make it work (or not).
Miracle of miracles, phony farm bill was defeated
I've been away for the weekend and am still catching up to the news. This editorial from Investor's Business Daily reports some good news:
Congress on Friday rejected the nearly $1 trillion farm bill by a vote of 234 to 195. So what? you ask. For one, it had never happened. For another, it shows rank-and-file politicians are getting nervous.That the measure went down in flames is a good thing, even if the reasons each party had for opposing it were radically different.Even calling it a "farm" bill was a misnomer. It was really a bloated welfare bill that would have kept subsidies in place for wealthy farmers while supersizing spending on food stamps.The bill's $940 billion price tag over 10 years was shocking enough. That amounted to a 50% increase over the last farm bill, passed in 2008 during the depths of a recession and vetoed by President Bush as too big.Equally stunning was the fact that nearly 80% of the money was to be spent for food stamps, not farming.
There are two down-sides to this story. The first is that many Democrats voted against the bill because it didn't spend enough on food stamps. The second problem, as IBD notes, "Eventually, a new farm bill will be passed, probably with many of the same flaws, only tweaked a bit." If that is so, let us hope 1) it takes a while, and 2) Congress takes IBD's advice and be honest enough in the future to take food stamps out of bill and vote on them as welfare measures rather than the dishonest banner of helping farmers. But for now we can celebrate the defeat of a bill that cost too much, was fundamentally dishonest and would have expanded the pool of food stamp recipients.
NYC bills Hurricane Sandy victims for unused water
"Staten Island residents whose homes were devastated by Sandy say the city is charging them hundreds of dollars for water they haven’t used since the storm ... The Department of Environmental Protection sent a letter to residents saying they were subject to a minimum charge of $1.19 a day even if they weren’t using water in their homes."
Some inhabitants have had their houses declared unlivable by the DEP and have had the charges waived, but others haven't and apparently the charge is levied whether one continues to live in the home or not.(Via Instanpundit)
Twinkies are back
Hostess returns with their line of cakes July 15. They promise (threaten?) same classic taste, but with new packaging.
Mayor outs the shifty ways of the gun controllers
The Daily Caller reports:
An independent Illinois mayor is leaving New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s anti-gun coalition because he said the group strayed from its original mission and became too focused on pushing for an assault-weapons ban.“I’ve dropped out of a group called Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG),” Rockford, Illinois mayor Larry Morrissey said at a Rockford Tea Party town hall Saturday as the crowd burst into applause. “The reason why I joined the group in the first place is because I took the name for what it said. Against ‘Illegal’ guns.”“The challenge that we see day in and day out in the city of Rockford is not dealing primarily with assault weapons or machine guns, automatic weapons. It’s dealing with a typical handgun. All of those typical weapons are usually in the hands of people who are prohibited from having them,” Morrissey said.
Prostitution legalization fail
Time magazine reports:
One of the classic arguments for legalizing prostitution is that recognizing and regulating the world’s oldest profession would improve the conditions of sex workers. Instead, recent reports paint legalized prostitution in Germany largely as a failure.In May, Der Spiegel published a series of stories highlighting the atrocious conditions endured by prostitutes in Germany, some of whom say they arrived in the country against their will. Typically, the stories involve young women from Romania and Bulgaria who were unwittingly duped into coming to Germany, where they were forced to service dozens of men daily in flat-rate deals where customers can have all the sex they want for an allotted time period, starting at just €49 (around $65). The women say customers are known to take drugs to improve their sexual performance in order to get their money’s worth. Some women report getting paid a pittance and never being allowed to leave their brothels. During rare breaks from work, they share a room with other prostitutes, where there is a single bed and no other furniture.
Very good description of politics, very bad description of marriage
In the June 24 edition of The New Yorker ("Getting to Maybe: Inside the Gang of Eight’s immigration deal," by Ryan Lizza), Republican Senator Lindsey Graham describes his relationship with President Barack Obama: "I’m not married, but I think marriages work this way. That’s the way life is. You kick their ass one day and you’ll work with them the next. If you can’t do two things at once, don’t get into politics."
Sunday, June 23, 2013
American politics in a nutshell
At Powerline, Steven Hayward retells the (likely apocryphal) story told by M. Stanton Evans:
It’s true, we have a two-party system in America: The Evil Party, and the Stupid Party. And every once and a while the Evil Party and the Stupid Party get together to pass something really evil and stupid. That’s called “bipartisanship.”
Hayward: "Please save us from bipartisan gangs."
I should be against Tesla (silly electric cars)
But according to John K. Ross of Reason.com, Tesla is helping fight crony capitalism in New York state by opposing rules that require cars be sold through dealerships and not directly to consumers.
Jay Carney evades
Hot Air's Green Room points out that Yahoo! has compiled the "The top 9,486 ways Jay Carney won’t answer your question."
Woodward criticizes Gang of 8 immigration bill
Breitbart reports on Bob Woodward's comments on the rush for immigration reform:
Woodward added that “when you pass complicated legislation and no one has really read the bill” then “the outcome is absurd.”
Saturday, June 22, 2013
Will on Obama
I love this George Will column which comes down to this point, which Will is too polite to express in such terms: President Barack Obama's second term will be silly because Obama is lame. Not a lame duck. Just lame.
Friday, June 21, 2013
Is the pro-life view racist?
At Soconvinvium Taylor Hyatt looks at the ridiculous argument that opposition to abortion is based on white fear of becoming a minority. The fact is black women have disproportionately more abortions so without abortion the black population would be expected to increase as a percentage of the total population. Salamisha Tillet's suggestion that pro-lifers are motivated by racism is pure nonsense when you do some research about abortion numbers and where abortion facilities do most of their business.
Expanding the plantation
Betsy McCaughey in Investor's Business Daily: "Using ObamaCare To Create A Permanent Democratic Majority."
Men got problems and then society gets problems
Michael Snyder at The Economic Collapse blog has a list of "32 Facts That Show How Men Are Being Systematically Emasculated In America Today." I'm not sure these are examples of emasculation, but many of the facts and figures present challenges and expose serious problems in the United States today. The fact that a growing number of men don't have meaningful employment and fewer children are growing up with their fathers around cannot be a recipe for good things over time.
Do you trust the state to use surveillance only to battle terrorism?
The state can use terrorism as a might wide net to go trawling. The Tennessean reports: "A Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation deputy director warned a group of Maury County residents that unfounded complaints about water quality could be considered an 'act of terrorism'."
Three cheers for British Environment Minister
Well, strike that sentence off my list of things I thought I'd never say, but I echo Paul Goodman's comments on British Environment Minister Owen Patterson's support for genetically modified foods. Goodman says:
[T]he heart of the Environment Secretary's speech isn't technical so much as moral: that in a world in which population growth is soaring, GM is but the latest means of ensuring that there's enough food to feed a hungry world. His is an optimistic vision that sees capitalism as the great feeder of humankind - and socialism, by implication, as the great producer of the mass famine of the Great Leap Forward.
The Independent takes the view of hungry people be damned, if there is the tiniest, slightest chance GMO is unsafe, the technology must never be used.
At least free vibrators for all isn't yet an NDP policy
Via Eye on a Crazy Planet we discover that NDP MP and deputy leader Megan Leslie "is promoting a sex party where free vibrators are on offer." Really, what is Leslie thinking promoting a sex party?
Thursday, June 20, 2013
I'm skeptical but if true this is cause for concern -- CBS reports, "Researchers find that nearly 70 percent of Americans are on at least one prescription drug, and more than half receive at least two prescriptions." CBS notes: "Mayo Clinic researchers report that antibiotics, antidepressants and painkiller opioids are the most common prescriptions given to Americans. Twenty percent of U.S. patients were also found to be on five or more prescription medications." More numbers: at any given time 13% of people are on antidepressants, 13% are on painkillers, and 17% are on antibiotics. This will certainly have implications for taxpayers and those who pay insurance premiums.
At The American Spectator Online, Wayne Woodman wonders: "Charter Schooling? Why Not Charter Housing?"
Woodman has a great line about so much of social policy (health, education, housing): "Progressive leaders grew up chanting, 'Power to the People!' Yet they have spent their entire careers systematically reducing the People’s power."
Such cynicism is often warranted
Glenn Reynolds on the George Zimmerman-Trayvon Martin case: "It was all about boosting black turnout for 2012."
I get that jury selection has become a science with high-paid consultants advising both the prosecutors and defense, but does it really take nine days (so far) to find a dozen of George Zimmerman's peers? Legal Insurrection has a run-down of the 40 finalists for the job of judging Zimmerman's guilt or innocence.
Predictable: Greeks don't honour their EU deal
ANSAmed reports: "Privatizations: Greece; sell-off target will not be met." Also predictably, the European Union doesn't do anything about it.
(HT: Gates of Vienna)
Farm subsidies for everyone despite record agriculture profits
Tucked deep in the 629-page U.S. House agriculture policy legislation is an initiative to guarantee prices for sushi rice. So too is insurance for alfalfa and a marketing plan for Christmas trees.Catfish farmers also get a morsel in the proposal being taken up this week: profit-margin insurance. The products represent a tiny fraction of the $440 billion U.S. farm economy. Yet each is slated to receive special treatment—either through subsidized insurance, promotional programs or protections against imports—in the bill that carries an estimated 10-year price tag of $939 billion ...
The farm bill, which benefits crop-buyers such as Archer-Daniels-Midland Co. (ADM), grocers including Supervalu Inc. (SVU) and insurers including Wells Fargo & Co. and Ace Ltd (ACE), has been working through Congress for almost two years.
These subsidies persist despite what Vince Smith, an agriculture economist at Montana State University says will be a year of record producer profits: "We’re in a golden age of agriculture." After Washington's handouts, indeed.
I'm off the fence re: Edward Snowden
I was pretty close to declaring unconditional support for Edward Snowden when I saw Big Government blowhard Dick Cheney's bullshit rant last weekend. But that would be reactive. After reading Jim Quinn at The Burning Platform I am off the fence regarding Snowden:
There are weeks that change the course of human history. There are weeks when people must choose sides. There are weeks that expose the real American traitors. There is no middle ground in this debate. You are either on the side of freedom, liberty, truth, transparency and the U.S. Constitution or you are on the side of mindless obedience, oppression, deception, corruption and tyranny.
It is a long but worthwhile post.
Map of state dependence on federal funds
The Cato Institute's Ted DeHaven reproduces a Tax Foundation map showing federal aid as a percentage of state general revenue. Interestingly, 11 of the 14 states most dependent on federal aid voted for Mitt Romney in 2012 (including the six most dependent states). With the exception of New York, the most dependent tend to be southern states, border states, or small western states.
The tip of iceberg
Tyler Cowen says, noting the passing of James Gandolfini that the actor "was not very well known when he was cast as Tony Soprano, and of course this raises the broader question of how much talent is actually out there." Stephen Jay Gould once wrote, "I am, somehow, less interested in the weight and convolutions of Einstein’s brain than in the near certainty that people of equal talent have lived and died in cotton fields and sweatshops." We like to think that all the brilliant people rise to the top, but it also takes the right circumstances.
Enlarge the screen and watch Kenichi Ebina "dance" the Matrix in 90 seconds, while seemingly defying gravity.
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
National Martini Day
I'm not a fan of martinis, but I enjoyed this NPR history of the martini, including Mencken's claim that the drink was "the only American invention as perfect as the sonnet."
Shaken, not stirred. Sure, but why did Dr. No say "of course" when James Bond ordered a martini made of Vodka -- proper martinis are made with gin.
This has to be a first
Justin Trudeau thinks the CBC is Sun News after reporter from the state broadcaster asks the Liberal leader a real question.
Accentuate the positive, the pro-Obama media always says. CNN reports that their own poll finds an increasing number of respondents say that the economic conditions in the U.S. are somewhat (34%) or very (1%) good. Those numbers have steadily climbed over the past four or five polls, but it is still a minority position. Nearly two-thirds consider conditions somewhat poor (40%) and very poor (25%). Also, 50% of respondents said they thought economic conditions would be good one year from now, while 49% said conditions would still be poor. Asked about their own economic condition, 36% said they are better off than they were a year ago, while 44% said they are worse off (and one in five said things are unchanged).
'Public health research'
Bloomberg News calls for more "public health" research into guns. Glenn Reynolds says: "my suggestion to the 'public health' community is to focus on actual diseases, rather than politically-disapproved behaviors."
Maybe the Republican symbol shouldn't be an elephant
Elephants never forget. A Michael Ramirez cartoon is worth a 1000 good columns.
Abortion and career
Penelope Trunk has a thought-provoking post on having two abortions and having a career:
I bought into the idea that kids undermine your ability to build an amazing career.And here I am, with the amazing career.But also, here I am with two kids. So I know a bit about having kids and a career. And I want to tell you something: You don't need to get an abortion to have a big career. Women who want big careers want them because something deep inside you drives you to change the world, lead a revolution, break new barriers.It doesn't matter whether you have kids now or later, because they will always make your career more difficult. There is no time in your life when you are so stable in your work that kids won't create an earthquake underneath that confidence ...I am not sure that my life would have turned out worse if I had had kids early. I am not sure it would have turned out better. I'm not even sure it would have been that different.You never know, not really. There is little certainty. But there are some certain truths: It's very hard to have an abortion. And, there is not a perfect time to have kids.
Video of a guy laughing therapeutically. Some people are weird. (HT: Kids Prefer Cheese)
Government regulation has replaced associational life in America
Niall Ferguson in the Wall Street Journal:
Tocqueville would not recognize America today. Indeed, so completely has associational life collapsed, and so enormously has the state grown, that he would be forced to conclude that, at some point between 1833 and 2013, France must have conquered the United States.
As the Competitive Enterprise Institute's Clyde Wayne Crews shows in his invaluable annual survey of the federal regulatory state, we have become the regulation nation almost imperceptibly. Excluding blank pages, the 2012 Federal Register—the official directory of regulation—today runs to 78,961 pages. Back in 1986 it was 44,812 pages. In 1936 it was just 2,620.True, our economy today is much larger than it was in 1936—around 12 times larger, allowing for inflation. But the Federal Register has grown by a factor of 30 in the same period.
And as Ferguson says, Tocqueville saw the Regulatory State coming:
Tocqueville also foresaw exactly how this regulatory state would suffocate the spirit of free enterprise: "It rarely forces one to act, but it constantly opposes itself to one's acting; it does not destroy, it prevents things from being born; it does not tyrannize, it hinders, compromises, enervates, extinguishes, dazes, and finally reduces [the] nation to being nothing more than a herd of timid and industrious animals of which the government is the shepherd."
Tim Worstall explains why pornography depicting rape scenes should be protected but that necrophilia and bestiality should not be: the alive women consent but the dead and animals do not. I'm not convinced as much as it makes sense from a legal point of view. To the extent that the law reflects morality, there should be more to determining right and wrong than whether or not individuals consent to an activity. And here we have with my internal battle between conservatism and libertarianism, which was mostly being won by the latter.
Entitled to break the law
MPs are above the law, or at least that is what some MPs think. The Hill Times reports that Conservative MP Eve Adams was ticketed for using a cell phone while driving on Parliament Hill. The Times reports: "The source said she impatiently pointed out to an RCMP security officer that she was an MP after she was first stopped, and that she attempted to pull rank on the officer by declaring she was an MP and pointing to the official collar badge all MPs wear for security reasons and a sign of their office." Adams disputes that version of events.
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Pro-life feel-good story won't end happily
The House of Representatives has passed a bill that would restrict all abortions nationwide to the first 20 weeks of pregnancy.The “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” (H.R. 1797), introduced by Arizona Republica Trent Franks, would end abortion after the point when scientists agree unborn children can feel pain.In a nearly party-line vote, the measure passed 228-196.
However, there is no way the Senate can pass this -- it would need 60 votes in the filibuster-proof Senate -- and even if it did, President Barack Obama would veto it. I think the GOP could use this bill for political advantage, as defending a broad abortion license after 20 weeks looks extreme. Then again, the Democrats are the Abortion Party. But this will not end with a policy victory for pro-lifers.
Opposing the surveillance state
Reason's Emily Ekins: "Public More Wary of NSA Surveillance Than Pundits Claim." The director of polling at the Reason Foundation says that the specific wording of the poll matters a lot and that while there is general support of monitoring telephone activity Americans seem to be wary of watching the consumption of online content.
I call bullshit (violence against Toronto transit workers edition)
Small Dead Animals highlights a Karen Stintz press release regarding the Toronto Transit Commission:
On average, one TTC employee is assaulted every day, ranging from punching, slapping and spitting, to threats of physical harm or death. The TTC’s Court Advocates work with Crown Attorneys to secure the stiffest penalties possible for those convicted of assaulting TTC employees, and continue to seek limits on the use of public transit in Toronto for those convicted of these crimes.
I assume that if there is actually an assault a day, most are of the spitting variety. If one employee was the victim of real violence every day, there would be so many security measures that the TTC would be even less efficient and reliable than it already is. Government agencies, including the police, have a vested interest in exaggerating the risks they face and convincing politicians for special treatment.
Why pandering doesn't work
Breitbart's Mike Flynn on the Amnesty Immigration Bill, GOP Massachusetts senate hopeful Gabriel Gomez, and reaching out to voters:
The DC GOP believes that its problem with Hispanic voters is that it hasn't endorsed an amnesty bill. Immigration reform is long overdue, but the DC GOP is convinced that only one particular kind of reform is politically feasible or advantageous to them. The party's real problem, however, is that it doesn't actually talk to Hispanic voters. Worse, when a compelling Hispanic candidate is in a close race, the party is nowhere to be seen.Politics is not a check-list of issues. Voters don't simply total up where they agree or disagree with candidates and make a choice. They vote for candidates they can relate to.
Stupid and amateur
The Prime Minister's Office leaks details of a Justin Trudeau speech to a Barrie college to the local newspaper and wants to be described as "a source." The Barrie Advance identifies the PMO as source of the leak.
G8 -- or as Stephen Harper calls it, the G7+1
From The Onion: "Italy, Japan Advance To G8 Finals."
Kanye being Kanye
LifeSiteNews.com reports: "Rapper Kanye West praises abortion on CD likening himself to Jesus."
Three and out
3. Will Manny Ramirez save pro baseball in Taiwan? Right now it looks like a yes.
2. I often argue that baseball managers seldom help teams win but can do a lot to put them in a position to lose. Such an observation doesn't even take into account what San Francisco Giants Bruce Bochy did last night.
1. Pro ball players like hotel mini bars, especially the M&Ms.
Journalism = faking it
Instapundit: "IS THAT MS. MAGAZINE My Month With A Gun column a hoax?" The facts don't quite add up.
Liberalism in the city caused the suburbs
Steven Greenhut in The American Spectator: "Urban elitists don’t recognize that their policies helped create the 'sprawl' that they disdain." Greenhut says: "growth controls and other regulations that make it tough to build new houses in the Bay Area have so inflated the prices of the existing housing stock that people head into the hinterlands to afford a place of their own to raise their kids."
Politics is not a zero-sum game
Dan Gardner tweets:
Time for my monthly reminder to partisaniacs: Criticism of X party does not equal support for Y party. Outside your imagination, that is.
Cannibal human trafficker
Blazing Cat Fur notes an odd story about Gazali Akewadola, a Muslim in Nigeria who sold human parts and live people. He used body parts for "charms and concoctions" but he also discovered he enjoyed the taste of human flesh -- "It tastes so good and better than animal meat especially when taken with hot drink" -- although he found it difficult to make money to "feed my family." Well, if they shared his taste for exotic meat ...
The abortion license is not a libertarian issue
Michael Barone says that on a number of issues from gun rights to gay rights, America is becoming more libertarian because young voters are more libertarian. Countering the narrative according to conventional wisdom is that young voters are more pro-life but as Barone explains:
Young Americans, contrary to their libertarian leaning on same-sex marriage, are slightly less pro-abortion rights than their elders. They've seen sonograms and all of them by definition owe their existence to a decision not to abort.And from the point of view of the unborn child, abortion is the opposite of liberating.
Maybe dolphins aren't rapists
Dolphin Science Guy says "Head over to Google Scholar, however, and you will find exactly zero references to 'dolphin rape' in the scientific peer-reviewed literature." But that is because, as even DSG admits, scientists stopped using the term rape to describe behaviour within the animal kingdom in the 1980s. His post reads like The Onion as DSG begins by making the point that that rape has "moral and legal implications" that are irrelevant in the animal world yet even among "forced copulation aficionados" within the animal kingdom, dolphins don't qualify. DSG makes a distinction between "aggressive coercion" and "forced copulation" because the observed "coercion being described ... is indirect in that these tactics ultimately result in males persuading females to mate with them, but not directly forcing themselves on the females." I don't get how one draws too fine a distinction -- or how one ascertains the difference -- between coercion and forced copulation among animals.