Sunday, January 26, 2014

Wendy Davis, Classic Texas Four-Flusher | RealClearPolitics

Some Futile Filibusters are
Approved by the Media

Classic and Classy take down of Wendy Davis by Carl Cannon, a writer that I had not heard of before but whom I will be following from now on. I frankly didn't care much about the discrepancies in the Texas candidate for governor but after reading this you get a real sense of her ambition and unscrupulousness.

Perhaps what is most powerful in Cannon's understated account of the controversy around Ms. Davis' account of her life is the vicious self-righteousness with which she has answered the most reasonable observations about the inaccuracies in her campaign biography. Like really good writers he lets the actions of the subject speak for themselves as much as possible, limiting himself to some wry comments in passing. My favorite is this at the end.

As a chaser to such deceit, the campaign added a gaffe in the form of a Wendy Davis statement that Abbott never “walked a day in my shoes.” One doesn’t have to wonder how liberals would respond if George W. Bush had said that about a paraplegic opponent. And then, a surreptitious videotape began circulating in conservative circles purportedly showing Davis backers laughing about Abbott being in a wheelchair.
That’s not as surprising as it first seems. Wendy Davis came to prominence when she filibustered legislation that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, require abortion mills to meet the health and safety standards of hospitals, and ensure that the physicians in charge of abortion clinics have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.
The impetus for this legislation came about in the wake of the murder conviction of Kermit Gosnell, the Pennsylvania doctor who routinely performed late-term abortions, and killed babies who managed to survive the procedure. Many of his patients were grievously injured, too, and at least one died. All of them were women. 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Who cares what religious conservatives think?

There is something that strikes me as strange in the arguments we have about gay people. On the one hand it is argued that society's disapproval of gays is the source of many of the problems that gays have, such as, for instance, their higher rates of tobacco use as is argued in this article

But on the other hand, the sort of people who are the chief source of that disapproval such as religious conservatives are themselves the object of ridicule. How can the opinions of people for whom such open contempt is a part of our culture--and I think it is fair to say that religious conservatives serve as little more than the butt of jokes in our mainstream culture--have such an impact on people? 

Moreover, the same cause seems to be maintained to have different effects in similar cases. The same contempt from religious conservatives that is supposed to be the cause of self-loathing and substance abuse among young gays is at the same time, and by many of the same people, sought after and viewed as a sign of being transgressive and meaningful in the realm of art. I think it is even fair to say that the contempt of religious conservatives is advertised and seen as a selling point in the art world. Indeed, the contempt it inspirers from religious conservatives seems in some cases to be the only thing that qualifies certain efforts as art at all, such as the notorious 'Piss Christ'. 

How can something so nourishing to the self-esteem of artists be so damaging to the self-esteem of gays? 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Someone we should all remember

Rick Rescorla: Hero of Vietnam War who was last seen going back up the stairs, in defiance of orders from the Port Authority, to rescue more of the people from the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Jon Stewart discusses inequality and moral hazard

This is the first segment which automatically moves on to the second segment.
Here is a CNN news story on the same subject which appears to differ with one of Stewart's facts. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Dragon Bones?

Jon Stewart did a very funny routine denouncing Republican efforts to prevent vote fraud by arguing that in person vote fraud was as rare as "dragon bones." Now evidence comes from New York that if it is it is not because it is hard to do.
DOI undercover agents showed up at 63 polling places last fall and pretended to be voters who should have been turned away by election officials; the agents assumed the names of individuals who had died or moved out of town, or who were sitting in jail. In 61 instances, or 97 percent of the time, the testers were allowed to vote. Those who did vote cast only a write-in vote for a “John Test” so as to not affect the outcome of any contest. DOI published its findings two weeks ago in a searing 70-page report accusing the city’s Board of Elections of incompetence, waste, nepotism, and lax procedures.

Here is John Fund discussing the case. Voter Fraud: We’ve Got Proof It’s Easy | National Review Online.

So how does NYC's Board of Elections react when the city's Department of Investigations shows that 97% of the attempts of their investigators to vote illegally were successful? Try to put the investigators in jail, of course! The most dangerous interest group in our society is the government itself.

Somebody tell Jon Stewart.

The English Speaking People's and Statism

Roger’s Rules » Meanwhile, Back in the Fatherland: Here is a great illustration of the difference of the Anglo-Saxon political tradition and Continental Europe and most of the rest of the world: Who owns your children?

In Europe they are the property of the state. In the English Speaking world they are their parents (though we are moving closer to the continental model everyday).

Here is why is matters. A German judge just sent in a swat team to raid a private
German household and take their children into state custody for the simple reason that the parent's are homeschooling their children and the judge is worried that they might escape to the France to continue homeschooling in defiance of the Courts' wishes. Here is part of the judge's decision:

Even though there are no suspicions of any parental care right abuses, besides the prevention of public school attendance, the further withdrawal of the part of parental care rights is considered necessary to help and support the education of the children, to ensure the children’s attendance of a regular school....The children would grow up in a parallel society without having learned to be integrated or to have a dialogue with those who think differently and facing them in the sense of practicing tolerance.
So we can't tolerate homeschooling because it would prevent us from teaching them tolerance. That is the difference between a government that has a people and a people that have a government.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Honest Wonkerry for Ezra

A health industry expert on ‘the fundamental problem with Obamacare’: Kline's interview with Bob Laszewski paints a grim picture for Obamacare, in spite of Kline's support for the president and his signature initiative. Here is Laszewski's assessment of the all important problem of avoiding adverse selection:
It’s not positive. I don’t want to say people have given up on the notion they’ll get a good mix. They know the administration will make a big push. The insurance companies will spend big on advertising and outreach. So no one has given up. But it doesn’t look good right now.
There’s a big misconception that this is about young people. That’s baloney. It’s about healthy people. A healthy 20-year-old might only pay a $100 premium. You want healthy 40 and 50-year-olds. The big problem right now is really total enrollment. We only have about 10 percent of the uninsured in here. Insurers think you need more like 70 percent of a pool of people to sign up.
Laszewski ends with an analysis of the fundamental short coming that could have come from Adam Smith:

If an entrepreneur had crafted Obamacare he would’ve gone to a middle class family. A family of four make $54,000 a year has to pay $400 in premiums net of subsidy and for that the standard silver plan has an average deductible around $2,500 and a narrow network. They’re going to pay almost $5,000 for that?

So the entrepreneur would say I’ve got $5,000 in premium and all this deductible, what do they want for that? And they probably would’ve said we want office visits and lab tests because the kids need to go in occasionally and then we want catastrophic care. The problem with Obamacare is it’s product driven and not market driven. They didn’t ask the customer what they wanted. And I think that’s the fundamental problem with Obamacare. It meets the needs of very poor people because you’re giving them health insurance for free. But it doesn’t really meet the needs of healthy people and middle-class people.
Too bad more of those greedy, evil businessmen who are only out for a profit had not been involved in putting this thing together. 

The real contribution of government to economic growth: get out of the way

For Small Businesses, Small Matters - Bloomberg: McArdle chronicles the impediments to business put up by the statist alliance of officials, lawmakers and lawyers.

The Power of Press Bias

Nets give 'Bridgegate' 17 times more coverage in 1 day than IRS scandal in 6 months | Within 24 hours there is a special prosecutor and wall to wall media coverage while the systematic use of the IRS to persecute the administration's political enemies in the run up to the presidential election and it is no story. Christy has a press conference that goes hours while Obama gets a couple of questions and is later allowed to get away with passing the whole thing off as a trumped up scandal. And it is not a story.
NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpi
The press is always indignantly denying that it is biased by pointing to its fact checking procedures, but the real power of the press is not to outright lie but to ignore.

Here is an excellent analysis of the difference in coverage the two issues have received from the press by Andrew Stiles. 

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Government Fail: Obamacare vs. Evil Capitalist Walmart

Surprise! Walmart health plan is cheaper, offers more coverage than Obamacare | The company has been the target of criticism and been made the exemplar of an exploitative corporate employer, but it turns out that Obamacare costs between 5 and 9 times as much as the programs that all Walmart employees are eligible for and less restrictive networks.

Reducing the Size of State Government

Ten freshman governors who have shrunk their states’ bureaucracies | Conservative Intelligence Briefing: Mississippi is not on the list, but New York and California--both with Democratic governors considered liberals--are. Something to ponder.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Minimum Wage

Conservative case that increasing the minimum wage does not reduce poverty. The Liberal case that it does.

A libertarian critique of the arguments from both sides by Megan McArdle.

Raising the Minimum Wage Isn't Just Good Politics; It's Good Economics | New Republic: This is the most convincing argument I have run across for why the minimum wage does not seem to result in more unemployment in the short run.

An argument that it might even create jobs.

Conservative economist Greg Mankiw's argument against raising the minimum wage and for increasing the Earned Income Tax Credit (here is an EITC calculator for those of you who are not familiar with the anti-poverty tax credit; see if you benefit from the credit).

Wonky survey of the conservative case against the minimum wage hike.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Lawyers and Double Standards

Another reason to hate lawyers?
Rampant Prosecutorial Misconduct - "The defendant, Kenneth Olsen, was convicted of producing ricin, a toxic poison, for use as a weapon. Federal prosecutors knew — but did not tell his lawyers or the court — that an investigation of the government’s forensic scientist, whose lab tests were critical to the case, had revealed multiple instances of sloppy work that had led to wrongful convictions in earlier cases. A state court found the scientist was “incompetent and committed gross misconduct.” 
Yet the majority of the federal appeals court panel ruled that the overall evidence of Mr. Olsen’s guilt — including websites he visited and books he bought — was so overwhelming that the failure to disclose the scientist’s firing would not have changed the outcome."
The first requirement of a legitimate authority is that it live under the same laws and meet the same standards that it applies to those under its authority. If a police officer made the same mistake there would be no mercy or no exceptions for him. The standard that lawyers apply to other lawyers is that whether they violated the rule or not is irrelevant as long as the outcome would have been the same. But when a police officer breaks a rule about gathering evidence it doesn't matter whether the evidence was true or even whether the mistake is made in good faith, the evidence and all evidence that was gathered subsequently that came to light in any degree because of the wrongly gathered evidence is thrown out as well. Regular citizens are expected to know an incomprehensible and ever changing mass of laws while prosecutors are allowed to plead innocent error.

We have traded the rule of law for the rule of lawyers.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

The coming meltdown

IMF Says: By the Way, There’s a Debt Crisis | Power Line: I see it as being a situation like the 1930s in Great Britain. There is a catastrophe looming on the horizon and the only people talking about are ostracized by polite society. The good news is that then the disaster comes the people that were warning about it and discounted as extremists will have a new credibility. The more one is castigated as a fiscal extremist today the more one will have credibility when the whole monstrous edifice of debt comes crashing down.

The Real Story of Unemployment in the US

Here’s what the GOP should propose for ending America’s jobs crisis: a number fo proposals for helping the long term unemployed with pro-market solutions are outlined. But the chart says it all: the Obama administration has made hiring workers more costly and so fewer of them are being hired, even though the unemployment rate is going down as workers become discouraged and stop looking for work altogether or find their way into disability programs.

Interview with Obama's brother

News Distribution Network - Shared Video: The brother that Obama denied ever having met talks to Laura Ingram. The problem with Obama is not that he is a socialist but that he is kind of a creep.

Liberal War on Science: Head Start Edition

Impervious to Evidence, Liberals Ride Again: Mona Charen discusses the evidence for the effectiveness of Head Start and points out that the large-scale, randomized experiments show no significant effects surviving beyond the time the students are in the program itself and precious little effect even then. Randomized, longitudinal studies are the gold-standard for determining science--except when their results don't meet with liberal expectations. As with Genetically modified foods, opposition to nuclear power and vaccinations, liberals are the ones waging a war on science in this case.

Here is a review of the evidence on gun control in Applied Economics Letters showing that the case against gun ownership has virtually no scientific support.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

What happens when you let lawyers re-write your constitution

Chaneya Kelly on Falsely Accusing Her Father of Rape -- New York Magazine: the accuser was not allowed to withdraw her charges and the legal system, protecting its own, went on with the prosecution of an innocent man. Particularly rich: the Judges' contention that the accused was a liar when the incriminating statements that were relied on by the prosecution to convict him were elicited by wall of deliberate lies. 

Bringing Hitler back in

‘Looks Like Weimar Germany’: The Viral Photo Out of Connecticut That’s Giving Some Gun Owners Chills: On of the unfortunate side effects of the widely observed prohibition on making any analogies to Hitler and the Nazi movement is that we miss similarities to their policies and some of ours. Case in point: gun registration. Viral Photo Shows Long Line of Connecticut Residents Lining Up to Register Guns, Ammo

Big Business and Big Governments are Bosom Buddies

Industry, not environmentalists, killed traditional bulbs: When will people get it? Big government is big business's best friend. Regulations are easily implemented by big businesses but ruinous for small businesses and big businesses are always able to influence the writing of these regulations to put their competitors out of business.

The culturally insensitive Chinese

China may face a revolution of rising expectations |

"In 1793 the envoy Lord Macartney appeared before the Qianlong emperor in Beijing and asked for British trading rights in China. “Our ways have no resemblance to yours, and even were your envoy competent to acquire some rudiments of them, he could not transport them to your barbarous land,” the long-reigning (1736-96) emperor replied in a letter to King George III.

 “We possess all things,” he went on. “I set no value on strange objects and have no use for your country’s manufactures.”

Well, ethnocentrism was not a Western invention. Many of the standards used to condemn the West would, if applied to the East, yield even more damning verdicts.

This is worth keeping in mind in the coming years as the Chinese become more aggressive and confrontational. In many quarters the first reaction to Chinese provocations will be to point out the crimes and failings of the West in the colonial era. But this ignores that the Chinese were every bit as much an imperial power as were the nations of the West, and that the immediate victims of contemporary Chinese revanchism are themselves non-Western countries.

Nanny State Honor Roll

The Complete List of Everything Banned by Mayor Michael Bloomberg: at least Scotch was not on the list.

Are there such things as criminal faces? And, more importantly, do chicks dig them?

Manly Faces and Aggressive Men - Hayden Higgins - The Atlantic: It is actually a new look at an old finding: men with facial features associated with higher testosterone levels (prominent chins, wider faces) are both more attractive to women and more likely to be found in men that commit crimes. Nice guys still finish last but now they can blame their genes. [IMAGE DESCRIPTION]

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Thank God for our Do Nothing Congress

Decisions, decisions! 
California 2014 Laws Affect Transgenders, Smokers, Drunk Drivers: Drudge headline proclaims the new right of transgendered kindergarteners to choose the bathroom they feel most closely matches their identity (tendentiousness in the pursuit of humor is no vice!).

Kind of makes you grateful that our national legislature is so 'unproductive' (productivity in the pursuit of inanity is no virtue!).
Note that for all the laughter and derision that conservatives (like me) will be heaping upon these laws you will not hear any of them propose that the California does not have the right to make these laws. You will not hear them agitate for the Federal government to overturn their laws or bring suits before the Federal judiciary to strike them down. Conservatives may not agree with your laws but they will defend to the death (or at least to the level of minor inconvenience) your right to make them. Federalism is neither conservative or liberal and is one of the truest and most robust guarantees of diversity. Conservative means to Liberal Goals.