Wednesday, September 30, 2015

SyFy Guy

Robert P. George and Patrick Lee offer a much needed facts of life tutorial to Bill Nye, the self proclaimed, "Science Guy"; Nye's ignorance of what constitutes human life and when it begins having been embarrassingly revealed in a You Tube video.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Back To Basics

For the benefit of those unfamiliar with basic economics, a trio of videos.

John Mackey, Whole Foods CEO, in a Reason TV interview, advocates his brand of conscious capitalism. He's especially good discussing nefarious government regulations such as the minimum wage and Obamacare.

And a couple of basic Prager University tutorials -  One from Greg Gutman on why the Right is right and the other from economist Walter Williams on the morality of capitalism.

Gutman --

Williams --

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Schooling Francis

George Will isn't impressed with the current media / leftist / environmentalist / anti-capitalist fed adoration of Pope Francis.

Supporters of Francis have bought newspaper and broadcast advertisements to disseminate some of his woolly sentiments that have the intellectual tone of fortune cookies. One example: “People occasionally forgive, but nature never does.” The Vatican’s majesty does not disguise the vacuity of this. Is Francis intimating that environmental damage is irreversible? He neglects what technology has accomplished regarding London’s air (see Page 1 of Dickens’s Bleak House) and other matters.

And the Earth is becoming “an immense pile of filth”? Hyperbole is a predictable precursor of yet another U.N. climate-change conference — the 21st since 1995. Fortunately, rhetorical exhibitionism increases as its effectiveness diminishes. In his June encyclical and elsewhere, Francis lectures about our responsibilities, but neglects the duty to be as intelligent as one can be. This man who says “the Church does not presume to settle scientific questions” proceeds as though everything about which he declaims is settled, from imperiled plankton to air conditioning being among humanity’s “harmful habits.” The church that thought it was settled science that Galileo was heretical should be attentive to all evidence.

Francis deplores “compulsive consumption,” a sin to which the 1.3 billion persons without even electricity can only aspire. He leaves the Vatican to jet around praising subsistence farming, a romance best enjoyed from 30,000 feet above the realities that such farmers yearn to escape.

...Poverty has probably decreased more in the last two centuries than it has in the preceding three millennia because of industrialization powered by fossil fuels. Only economic growth has ever produced broad amelioration of poverty, and since growth began in the late 18th century, it has depended on such fuels.
...The capitalist commerce that Francis disdains is the reason the portion of the planet’s population living in “absolute poverty” ($1.25 a day) declined from 53 percent to 17 percent in three decades after 1981. Even in low-income countries, writes economist Indur Goklany, life expectancy increased from between 25 to 30 years in 1900 to 62 years today.

...(Francis) stands against modernity, rationality, science and, ultimately, the spontaneous creativity of open societies in which people and their desires are not problems but precious resources. Americans cannot simultaneously honor him and celebrate their nation’s premises.

Added 9/25 - Along the same lines, Mona Charen also makes some good points.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Waste Mismanagement

In their unending quest to feel good about themselves, the idiots running Seattle have introduced yet another counterproductive program (see also minimum wage increase) mandating that all trash  contain no more than 10% recyclable / compostable material.

This is red meat to Kevin Williamson and he enjoys the feast. He especially has fun explaining the methodology (hint - there is none) used to determine the magic 10%.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Obama's Legacy

This is it.

Russian dissident and former world chess champion Garry Kasparov laments the chaos, death and destruction resulting from Barack Obama's aiding our enemies, shunning our allies, and withdrawing American influence approach to world affairs.

Over the past year, especially in the past few months, Mr. Obama’s belief that American force in the world should be constrained and reduced has reached its ultimate manifestation in U.S. relations with Iran, Russia and Cuba. Each of these American adversaries has been on the receiving end of the president’s helping hand: normalization with Cuba, releasing Iran from sanctions, treating the Putin Ukraine-invasion force as a partner for peace in the futile Minsk cease-fire agreements.

In exchange for giving up precisely nothing, these countries have been rewarded with the international legitimacy and domestic credibility dictatorships crave—along with more-concrete economic benefits.

When dealing with a regime that won’t negotiate in good faith, the best approach is to use a position of strength to pry concessions from the other side. But instead the White House keeps offering concessions—while helping its enemies off the mat. That such naïveté will result in positive behavior from the likes of Ayatollah Khamenei, Vladimir Putin and the Castro brothers should be beyond even Mr. Obama’s belief in hope and change.

...Power abhors a vacuum, and as the U.S. retreats the space is being filled. After years of the White House leading from behind, Secretary of State John Kerry’s timid warning to the Kremlin this week to stay out of Syria will be as effective as Mr. Obama’s “red line.” Soon Iran—flush with billions of dollars liberated by the nuclear deal—will add even more heft to its support for Mr. Assad.

Dead refugee children are on the shores of Europe, bringing home the Syrian crisis that has been in full bloom for years. There could be no more tragic symbol that it is time to stop being paralyzed by the Obama-era mantra that things could be worse—and to start acting instead to make things better.

And, as he often does, Victor Davis Hanson lists Obama's myriad failures, at home and abroad.

The policy of “leading from behind” and the crudity of “We came, we saw, he [Qaddafi] died” have left a human tragedy in Libya. Backing the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt was an inexplicable choice, and it almost ruined the country. The United States did not need to hound and jail an innocent video maker in order to concoct a myth to cover up the culpable lax security in Benghazi. Yemen was strangely declared a model of our anti-terrorism efforts — just weeks before it ignited into another Somalia or Congo. ISIS was airily written off as a jayvee bunch as it spread beyond Syria and Iraq. There is little need to do a detailed comparison of Iraq now and Iraq in February 2009 (when it was soon to be the administration’s “greatest achievement,” a “stable” and “self-reliant” nation); the mess in between is attributable to Obama’s use of the aftermath of the Iraq War for pre-election positioning. Ordering Assad to flee while ignoring the violence in Syria and proclaiming a faux red line has now tragically led to a million refugees in Europe (and another 4 million in the neighborhood) and more than 200,000 dead. Israel is now considered not an ally, not even a neutral, but apparently a hostile state worthy of more presidential invective than is Iran. We have few if any reliable friends any more in the Gulf. Iran will become a nuclear power. The only mystery over how that will happen is whether Obama was inept or whether he deliberately sought to make the theocracy some sort of a strategic power and U.S. ally. The Middle East over the next decade may see three or four additional new nuclear powers. The Russia of kleptocrat Vladimir Putin is seen in the region as a better friend than is the U.S. — and certainly a far more dangerous enemy to provoke.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Worthwhile Reading

The case builds for sending Hillary Clinton to the Big House. (And not the one on Pennsylvania Ave in D.C. either).

Jonah Goldberg on Clinton's arsenal of smoking guns.

Charles Krauthammer laments that "Unless she’s indicted, Hillary Clinton will win the Democratic nomination." (Says a lot about Democrats, doesn't it?).

(More) evidence that Clinton is as dumb as a post.

In a recently released e-mail from January 3, 2010, (Clinton) personally messaged an assistant, wishing her a Happy New Year, and then offered a demand list to start the year off:

I’d like to work w you to prepare a menu for Jason. Also does he give me a monthly bill for the food he buys and prepares for me? Could you or he buy skim milk for me to have for my tea? Also, pls remind me to bring more tea cups from home . . . Can you give me times for two TV shows: Parks and Recreation and The Good Wife?

Yes, this is the delightful paradox that is Hillary: a woman who claims she will fight for the shrinking middle class but who also happens to employ a personal chef (or Visiting Angel) that she’s not even sure she pays. A candidate who Understands People Like You but apparently isn’t familiar enough with the strange Google machine to look up television listings (I found it in one click after searching “The Good Wife times” and going to the official CBS homepage). A person who was actually in the habit of e-mailing her drink orders to aides at the State Department: “Pls call Sarah and ask her if she can get me some iced tea.”

Ponder that one again for a moment: She e-mailed one person to call yet another person with an order to bring her a beverage. A normal person, incapacitated and laid out in a hospital bed, can usually get beverage service in fewer steps than what Hillary was requesting.

This is reminiscent of Kurt Schlister's recent comment about HRC --

Keep in mind that this is a woman who flunked the District of Columbia bar exam. To do that, you literally have to answer the question, “What is a tort?” by drawing a picture of small cake.

Changing topics -- Goldberg tries again with another forceful attack on Donald Trump and his supporters. Jonah's stuff is almost always fun to read. Today's effort is no exception.

...if it’s true that politicians can disappoint, I think one has to say that the people can, too. And when I say “the people” I don’t mean “those people.” I mean my people. I mean many of you, Dear Readers. Normally, when conservatives talk about how the public can be wrong, we mean that public. You know the one. The “low-information voters” Rush Limbaugh is always talking about. The folks we laughed at when Jay Leno interviewed them on the street. But we don’t just mean the unwashed and the ill-informed. We sometimes mean Jews, blacks, college kids, Lena Dunham fans, and countless other partisan slices of the electorate who reflexively vote on strict party lines for emotional or irrational reasons. We laugh at liberals who let know-nothing celebrities do their thinking for them.
Well, many of the same people we laughed at are now laughing at us because we are going ga-ga over our own celebrity.

...If I sound dismayed, it’s only because I am. Conservatives have spent more than 60 years arguing that ideas and character matter. That is the conservative movement I joined and dedicated my professional life to. And now, in a moment of passion, many of my comrades-in-arms are throwing it all away in a fit of pique. Because “Trump fights!”

...Ann Coulter wrote of Newt in 2011: “If all you want is to lob rhetorical bombs at Obama and then lose, Newt Gingrich — like recent favorite Donald Trump — is your candidate. But if you want to save the country, Newt’s not your guy.” Now Ann leads a chorus of people claiming that Trump is our only savior. Has Trump changed, or have Ann and her followers? Is there a serious argument behind the new thinking, or is it “because he fights!”?

It is entirely possible that conservatives sweat the details of tax policy too much. Once in office, a president must deal with political realities that render the fine print of a campaign pamphlet as useful as a battle plan after the enemy is met. But in the last month, Trump has contemplated a flat tax, the fair tax, maintaining the current progressive tax system, a carried-interest tax, a wealth tax, and doing nothing. His fans respond, “That shows he’s a pragmatist!”

No. It shows that he has absolutely no ideological guardrails whatsoever. Ronald Reagan once said, “Government is like a baby. An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other.” Trump is close to the reverse. He’s a mouth at the wrong end of an alimentary canal spewing crap with no sense of responsibility.

In his embarrassing interview with Hugh Hewitt Thursday night, Trump revealed he knows less than most halfway-decent D.C. interns about foreign policy. Twitter lit up with responses about how it doesn’t matter and how it was a gotcha interview. They think that Trump’s claim that he’ll just go find a Douglas MacArthur to fix the problem is brilliant. Well, I’m all in favor of finding a Douglas MacArthur, but if you don’t know anything about foreign policy, the interview process will be a complete disaster. Yes, Reagan delegated. But he knew enough to know to whom to delegate.

If you want a really good sense of the damage Donald Trump is doing to conservatism, consider the fact that for the last five years no issue has united the Right more than opposition to Obamacare. Opposition to socialized medicine in general has been a core tenet of American conservatism from Day One. Yet, when Republicans were told that Donald Trump favors single-payer health care, support for single-payer health care jumped from 16 percent to 44 percent.

In today's Wall Street Journal --

A typically insightful column from Holman Jenkins suggesting appropriate avenues for expressing frustration with government and its bureaucrats. (And they don't involve supporting Trump or Sanders. And certainly not Clinton).

A member of the elite, surely, is the richest man in the world, Bill Gates, who let the cat out of the bag recently, saying subsidies to today’s green energy technology are a waste of money and capable of influencing climate only at a cost that is “beyond astronomical.”

Marketing by definition is selling us ideas that agree with our intuition. The opposite of marketing is making us think. Green energy is marketing. People like Elon Musk are not selling solutions to global warming, they are selling $100,000 T-shirts that say “I’m doing something about global warming.” Even then, he requires involuntary exactions from taxpayers to make his T-shirt business viable.

An interview with the estimable Thomas Sowell. Sowell notes that even though he grew up poor his rise was never hindered by debilitating minimum wage laws.

When looking back over my life, I think of the lucky things that happened to me. And one of the luckiest ones, I just realized recently, is that when I left home as a 17-year-old high-school dropout, the unemployment rate among black 17-year-old males was in single digits,” Mr. Sowell says. “In 1948, the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 was 10 years old and it hadn’t been changed. And there was huge inflation, and so it was as if there was no minimum wage.” He got a series of jobs—delivering Western Union telegrams, working in a machine shop—that put him on the right path.

And a lengthy essay explaining the Racial Reality Of Policing by a former NYPD cop. Excellent analysis.

In 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention counted 129 instances of black men killed by “legal intervention”—that is to say, by cops. The figure is incomplete because of a lack of national reporting requirements, and it says nothing about the circumstances of the killings or the race of the officers involved. But it gives a sense of the scope of the problem.

By contrast, in that same year, 6,739 black men were murdered, overwhelmingly by young men like themselves. Since 2001, even as rates of violent crime have dropped dramatically, more than 90,000 black men in the U.S. have been killed by other black men. With fatalities on this scale, the term epidemic is not a metaphor. Every year, the casualty count of black-on-black crime is twice that of the death toll of 9/11.

To talk about this vast slaughter isn’t changing the subject from police misconduct. It’s the only way a conversation about reforming police practices can begin.

Friday, September 4, 2015

The "Greenest" Substance

One of the more blatant dishonesties of the global warming crowd's misinformation campaign is its use of the term "carbon" as in "carbon emissions". Carbon is associated with materials like coal and oil (actually hydrogenated carbon) and the hysterics use the word to spread the impression of dark, dirty pollutants befouling the earth. Of course the alleged culprit in global warming is carbon dioxide, (CO2), a colorless, odorless gas vital for life on the planet. Present at an atmospheric concentration of less than a half percent, CO2 is remarkably efficient in its life giving properties.

This week, Barack Obama visited Alaska to push for more government aid to his party's "green" benefactors. He did this by distorting the historical record of receding glaciers. In today's WSJ, Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore sets the record straight. He also comments on the essential nature of CO2.

Politicians want us to believe they are saving us from ruin; religious leaders want to reinforce original sin and the need for repentance; some business leaders want us to subsidize their expensive “green” technologies; and the climate activists want their money-machine to keep on giving.

This powerful convergence of interests ignores the fact that carbon dioxide is essential for all life on Earth, that plants could use a lot more of it, and that the real threat is a cooling of the climate, not the slight warming that has occurred over the past 300 years.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015


David Feith writing for today's Wall Street Journal --

"One of the best lines of the U.S. presidential race so far comes from Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. “It’s sad to think right now,” he joked in the first round of Republican presidential debates, “but probably the Russian and Chinese governments know more about Hillary Clinton’s email server than do the members of the United States Congress.”

...To most people, the digital world is an esoteric abstraction. So we generally have a hard time recognizing the severity of misdeeds committed in cyberspace. Consider the upstanding citizens who would never shoplift yet download pirated music and movies. Among other effects, such permissiveness gives an asymmetric advantage to anyone who wants to exploit it, from individuals like Mrs. Clinton to the hacker armies of China and Russia.

Tech lingo often makes things worse. Yes, Mrs. Clinton used a private server to handle her emails as secretary of state. But that description is anodyne compared with the less technical reality: Before assuming one of the most sensitive jobs in government, she devised a unique personal system to hide tens of thousands of public documents. Later, facing a congressional investigation, she deleted whatever she wanted, in effect tossing stolen goods into a backyard bonfire.

The destruction of evidence recalls the 18-and-a-half minutes of conversation excised from Richard Nixon’s Oval Office recordings, but the Clinton camp wants voters to think her email affair is much more complicated, and far less outrageous, than Nixon’s tape-tampering. Clinton aide Jennifer Palmieri recently deflected questions by saying: “Now everybody’s an expert on wiping servers. I don’t know how all that works.” In other words: Nothing to see here but tech mumbo-jumbo."

(My emphasis)

Also, Kevin Williamson explains the difference between intentions and results. Leftists, pay heed.

"News item: There is a new cholesterol-control drug on the market, Repatha, which is enormously beneficial to people who suffer serious side effects from the statins commonly used to control cholesterol or who derive no benefit from statins. Some 17 million Britons are potential beneficiaries of the drug, but they will not be able to use it, because the United Kingdom’s version of Sarah Palin’s death panel — which bears the pleasingly Orwellian name NICE, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence — says it is too expensive. The United Kingdom’s single-payer health-care system is effectively a monopoly, and not an especially effective one: Cardiovascular-disease mortality rates in the United Kingdom are nearly 40 percent higher than in the United States. That’s not nice. And it isn’t what was supposed to happen.

...Politicians tell us what a policy is supposed to do, what it is intended to do, and they ask to be judged by their intentions. The so-called Affordable Care Act, we were assured, was intended to make health insurance a better value and to make health-care institutions give their customers better service at better prices. Never mind the unspoken premise that is the law’s foundation — “We can radically increase demand for health-care services while reducing costs and improving quality because politicians are magic!” — and its inescapable contradictions. “We meant well,” they say, and that is supposed to be enough.

It isn’t.

It falls largely to persnickety, unpleasant eat-your-spinach types, and to certain happy souls blessedly liberated from the romance of politics by events and experience, to document that what is supposed to happen and what happens are not the same thing. Britons and Canadians and Americans can go on all they like about their “right” to health care, but calling something a right does not make it any less scarce (indeed, it is absolutely meaningless to proclaim a “right” to any scarce good), and whether you choose an anything-goes free market or an Anglo-Soviet single-payer monopoly model, there is going to be rationing, normally through the instrument of price. The only question is whether you get to make that decision for yourself or whether an Orwellian NICE guy makes it for you."

Read it all and get treated to numerous Williamsonian gems like this metaphor :

"Every schemer fancies himself a chess grandmaster, and if you are wondering which of the chessmen you are in his grand conception of the universe, count on it being one of the little round-headed ones in the front row."

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Demos Problem

Bret Stephens goes to the root of the problem with the Donald Trump phenomenon (much like that of the twice!! elected Barack Obama) - the people who support him.

If by now you don’t find Donald Trump appalling, you’re appalling.

If you have reached physical maturity and still chuckle at Mr. Trump’s pubescent jokes about Rosie O’Donnell or Heidi Klum, you will never reach mental maturity. If you watched Mr. Trump mock fellow candidate Lindsey Graham’s low poll numbers and didn’t cringe at the lack of class, you are incapable of class. If you think we need to build new airports in Queens the way they build them in Qatar, you should be sent to join the millions of forced laborers who do construction in the Persian Gulf. It would serve you right.

Victor Davis Hanson analyzes the sensibility of those fueling Trumps's surge.

After nearly seven years of Obama, the public is worn out by sanctimoniousness — by all the Professor Gates/Trayvon Martin/Ferguson lectures on race by an abject racialist, by all the sermons on climate change by a global jet-setter, by all the community-organizing banality by one who always has preferred the private school and the tony neighborhood, by all the us-versus-the-1-percent warfare by one who feels at home on the golf course only with celebrities and stock hounds.

Stephens isn't buying it.

Since Mr. Trump joined the GOP presidential field and leaped to the top of the polls, several views have been offered to explain his popularity. He conveys a can-do image. He is the bluntest of the candidates in addressing public fears of cultural and economic dislocation. He toes no line, serves no PAC, abides no ideology, is beholden to no man. He addresses the broad disgust of everyday Americans with their failed political establishment.

And so forth and so on—a parade of semi-sophisticated theories that act as bathroom deodorizer to mask the stench of this candidacy. Mr. Trump is a loudmouth vulgarian appealing to quieter vulgarians. These vulgarians comprise a significant percentage of the GOP base. The leader isn’t the problem. The people are. It takes the demos to make the demagogue.