Thursday, June 22, 2017

Is Paris spurning?

"Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam."

Shifting his focus to the Paris Climate Accord, he calls for California Governor Jerry Brown to be prosecuted on a charge of treason.

Mr. Greenfield needs to take a calming breath while hugging a warm puppy in his safe space.

Also, since he’s calling for prosecution, (and not withstanding Gov. Moonbeam’s 1st Amendment protected, silly rhetoric) Greenfield should look up the legal definition of "treason.” With whom are we at war? Which enemy is aided and comforted?

To those questions you might reply, “With talking heads, the MSM, Antifa thugs and Hollywood airheads,” and "the Democrat Party base,” but that translates nascent civil disobedience into a capital crime. And it's redundant.

Furthermore, the Paris Accord is not an “illegal treaty,” since it’s a) not a treaty and, b) it’s not illegal for a state to have an environmental policy independent of the General Government, however stupid the policy. Might as well call California emissions standards treasonous.

Leave this sort of frantic fantasy to the NYT.

H/T HG

Friday, May 26, 2017

Lesser Angels of Death

Conversations with Mengele's heirs.
Godwin's Law is suspended when the behavior being compared is sufficiently congruent.
  • Medical "professionals"? Check.
  • Subsidized by the State? Check.
  • Human vivisection? Check.
  • Laughing about the dismemberment procedure? Check.
  • Awareness of the moral implications?
Dr. Lisa Harris, the medical director of Planned Parenthood of Michigan:
"Given that we actually see the fetus the same way, and given that we might actually both agree that there’s violence in here. . . . Let’s just give them all the violence, it’s a person, it’s killing, let’s just give them all that."
Check.

One difference: Mengele wasn't doing it for profit.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Chaos is not 4D Chess

We will probably never know the truth of any given MSM story about the President, but one thing is clear: There is a continuing pattern of insider leaks followed by deep confusion and contradiction at the White House.

Two very recent examples:

1- President Trump summarily dismisses FBI Director Comey.

POTUS says he did so based on a recommendation from the new Assistant AG. The Veep repeats this claim. The Assistant AG says he made no such recommendation. The President acknowledges the Assistant AG is correct, and he was going to fire Comey anyway. The President then tweets about "taping" his dinner with Comey.

2- The WaPo claims the President told the Russians something he maybe shouldn't have.

The U.S. National Security Advisor says it didn't happen, though he denied things the Post didn't report on and not things they did report on. The President then tweets that he did tell the Russians something, and that he has every right to do that.

Sean Spicer is on both sides of both issues.

Both of these contretemps play out in less than 24 hours.

Is anyone in charge of communications in this White House? Anyone?

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Rocky and Bullsh*t

Teresa Lloro-Bidart is an Assistant Professor in the Liberal Studies Department at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona: “As a feminist political ecologist and multispecies ethnographer, I work in the fields of environmental education, animal studies, and food studies.”

So, naturally, she published When 'Angelino' Squirrels Don't Eat Nuts: A Feminist Posthumanist Politics of Consumption Across Southern California. No, it's not advice to Californians that they needn't worry about squirrels gnawing their brains.

The abstract:
Eastern fox squirrels (Sciurus niger), reddish-brown tree squirrels native to the eastern and southeastern United States, were introduced to and now thrive in suburban/urban California. As a result, many residents in the greater Los Angeles region are grappling with living amongst tree squirrels, particularly because the state’s native western gray squirrel (Sciurus griseus) is less tolerant of human beings and, as a result, has historically been absent from most sections of the greater Los Angeles area. ‘Easties,’ as they are colloquially referred to in the popular press, are willing to feed on trash and have an ‘appetite for everything.’ Given that the shift in tree squirrel demographics is a relatively recent phenomenon, this case presents a unique opportunity to question and re-theorize the ontological given of ‘otherness’ that manifests, in part, through a politics whereby animal food choices ‘[come] to stand in for both compliance and resistance to the dominant forces in [human] culture’. I, therefore, juxtapose feminist posthumanist theories and feminist food studies scholarship to demonstrate how eastern fox squirrels are subjected to gendered, racialized, and speciesist thinking in the popular news media as a result of their feeding/eating practices, their unique and unfixed spatial arrangements in the greater Los Angeles region, and the western, modernist human frame through which humans interpret these actions. I conclude by drawing out the implications of this research for the fields of animal geography and feminist geography.
Who knew animal geography and feminist geography were different? Isn’t that either speciesist or an insult to squirrel geography? Or both?

Who knew feminist food studies were a thing? I mean, you could probably guess it was, but it sounds like studying whether or not you're ingesting enough estrogen.

You could probably wrap the words “feminist,” and “studies” around any noun, or a random bit of Marxist jargon, and some SJW coddling University has a course in it.

Feminist Rodent Gormandization Studies:
This course is an intersectional investigation of nutritional consumption patterning of the single largest order of Mammalia. Because of the order Rodentia’s size we know quantitative instances of sexual harassment, rape and transmission of Yersinia pestis far exceed other mammalian orders. Anyone who has observed squirrels chasing each other has witnessed this behavior. Utilizing Martin Heidegger’s original post-modernist contributions to the Third Reich, we will re-theorize the ontological givens of the later ideas of Derrida and Foucault. The course includes lessons in field preparation and recipes for a wide variety of male rodents.

I don’t have any problem with vilification of tree rats, and I don’t even care what color they are, but it would be far kinder just to shoot the buck-toothed vermin than to appropriate them into a new feminist victim cadre.

My problem is that red, gray or black, all of them eat my birdseed - when not scrabbling on the skylights seeking entry to my attic where they plot to chew on my electrical wiring. I have gone to considerable, and non-lethal, time and expense to dissuade them from these activities, but for those who persist, the western, "modernist human frame through which I interpret these actions" is a 3x9 Tasco. If they insist on suicide by bird feeder, it’s within their reach.

And don’t get me started on chipmunks.

It takes an extremely wealthy and decadent society to provide gainful employment for such persons as Ms. Lloro-Bidart. There are many other things you could say about such a society based on her example. None of them good.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Rehash and Retain

Well, the House passed a bill related to Obamacare. Now it goes to the Senate.

I look forward to the Senate's interminable, agonizing pomposity while Senators express their angst over doing something they've been promising for 7 years. The doing of which doesn't even fulfill the promise.

Added to this will be the sublime pleasure of President Trump's feckless tweeting about legislation he doesn't understand, while mismanaging a process of which he is ignorant.

My joy about the inevitable House/Senate conferences to reconcile what's been passed by the House with the dog's breakfast the Senate will produce is inexpressible.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Dystopian Sweepstakes

George Orwell's 1984 and Aldous Huxley's Brave New World have recently experienced a surge of interest. It's not clear if they're being read as cautionary tales or as procedure manuals, but there are certainly some current-event parallels to be found - Antifa thugs violently suppress speech and Facebook serves as Soma - but these dystopian visions are yet a long way from reality.

There is another tale that is an unambiguous representation of Progressivism: Kurt Vonnegut's 1961 short story Harrison Bergeron (full text).

Bergeron is a short story about equality, where equality means that if everyone can’t have something, no one will be allowed to. The opening paragraph:
THE YEAR WAS 2081, and everybody was finally equal. They weren't only equal before God and the law. They were equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else. All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution, and to the unceasing vigilance of agents of the United States Handicapper General.
Two recent headlines could have come straight from the story:
UK Student Group: Ban Cheering, Clapping So Deaf Are Not Excluded

Berkeley Removes 20,000* Free Online Videos to Comply with Insane Department of Justice Ruling

I am empathetic to people who are deaf, blind, lame or otherwise disabled, but the logical extension of these idiocies is that we're all forced into sensory deprivation tanks to float quietly without giving offense, until we starve to death.

Monday, May 01, 2017

A fake news retrospective

It's May Day in the latest era of fake news. The confluence of a peak in the MSM prevarication cycle and the annual celebration of Communism makes it appropriate to celebrate the most accomplished journalistic liar of modern times - and his employer.

No, not Walter Cronkite, Jayson Blair, Stephen Glass, or even Dan Rather; it's Walter Duranty.

Working for the New York Times, Duranty won a 1932 Pulitzer prize for his coverup of the mass murder of ten million Ukrainians by Iosif Dzhugashvili, known to his friends (like Duranty) as Joseph Stalin.

Duranty set the tone for the long march of Communism apologists. True to the tradition, the Times is at it again.

A cynical nod toward pseudo-federalism

It's not the Freedom Caucus preventing repeal, it's GOP "moderates" and the President.

The New GOP Health Care Bill Shows Republicans Have Given Up on Fully Repealing Obamacare
Republicans in Congress have given up on fully repealing Obamacare.

Instead, they have decided they want to leave pieces of it in place, along with a system of tweaks and opt-outs that require federal permission and may never be used. And even that may be too much for some GOP moderates.
"GOP moderates" = Democrats Light.

The Freedom Caucus has been blamed for blocking repeal of Obamacare. President Trump said they would "hurt the entire Republican agenda." They were pilloried as "extreme right wing" by the press.

It turns out they're the only ones who want to keep the promise of Obamacare repeal.

It turns out Trump is the cuckservative.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Who owns your identity?

Digital Identity Today is Broken — But We Can Fix It
In the cases where we do have relatively secure, integrated identities to which we attach lots of personal information, these identities are in reality owned by massive companies, like Google or Facebook, who can revoke our access at any time.
The information you give to Google or Facebook has value to them. How much value does it have to you? Probably substantially more; directly proportional to your usage of and dependence upon them. The trade is irrational on its face, and grows worse with every interaction. You may see an irony in the fact that this blog uses a Google platform. Let's just say I still find this specific trade to be slightly in my favor. I supply free content, Google supplies a channel for ideas I want to share in any case.

I wonder what it would take for people to analyze whether Google and Facebook represent a good trade in exchange for public revelation of their foibles and habits of daily living.

I used to give LinkedIn a partial pass because it had some utility to me and was easy to ignore. Then LinkedIn reminded me of my account by letting me know they were updating their terms of service. I'm retired: Reading the new terms was more effort than it would have been worth. I deleted my account. Not that that means they don’t still have my information. The value of that information will fade with time.

There are some startups who think a market will develop in retaking ownership of personal information. I wonder if most people can develop sufficient common sense and expertise to use these solutions. The signs are not encouraging.

While I would certainly consider the “solutions” mentioned in this article, there is the problem that protecting myself doesn’t free me from the systemic risks. Like vaccination, a significant majority have to participate for there to be herd immunity.

There is still the question of how secure your data would be in the hands of the companies mentioned at the link, of course, but the blockchain approach has promise.

That Averon has "done integrations with all the mobile phone networks in the US” and that the "whole verification process can be done automatically and instantly in the background, without any action required from the user” is not comforting, at least without much, much more information. I’d really prefer to have direct control and notification. While integrations with mobile phone networks may be convenient as a form of identity protection, they would appear to suck bigly.

I sure don’t trust Verizon - the company that secretly invented its own form of stealth cookies to track every users’ every interaction.

The number of counter parties involved in these schemes is frightening, and perhaps unknowable. Whether these startups have a real solution, whether they can be trusted with what could amount to handing over the keys to your identity, we can anticipate that some form(s) of better identity authentication are coming. Whether we can actually “fix it” remains to be seen. One test I would provisionally apply is whether the solution is open source. How proprietary code could satisfy the requirements is something I can’t figure out.

See also.

While it it addresses broader topics, I'd recommend Vernor Vinge's Rainbows End as a very interesting read on future possibilities involving identity authentication.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Milk Duds Up a Tree

American dairy farmers are complaining about steep cuts in the price of Canadian ultra-filtered milk (mostly used in cheese production). UFM isn’t defined as milk under NAFTA, so while Canada keeps the cost of drinking milk very high, they’ve slashed the cost of ultra-filtered milk. Lowering this price umbrella to world market levels has hurt American dairymen.

If Canada can drastically reduce the cost of an industrial milk product it could also cut the cost of drinking milk for Canadians. I wouldn’t hold my breath, though, because it’s Canadian government that keeps that cost high. In effect, Canada subsidizes UFM by heavily overpricing drinking milk, which it protects with high tariffs.

Canada is a country that doesn’t even have internal free trade. The Canadian Constitution Act of 1867 prohibits internal trade barriers, but Provinces have nonetheless spent nearly 150 years erecting trade barriers against each other and preserving picayune local regulatory prerogatives.

Nowhere is this better illustrated than in provincial “supply management boards” dealing with milk, cheese, eggs and poultry. Canadian milk is subject to the precision wisdom of centralized planners - a maze of quotas, price floors, subsidies and entry barriers intended to protect incumbent Canadian dairy farmers from competition at the expense of consumers.

It should come as no surprise, then, that Canada’s barriers to international trade in those markets are even worse. This has attracted the attention of our President, who - visiting the dairy state of Wisconsin - complained about it in almost the same breath as he emphasized his “Buy American-Hire American” policy.

We’ll skip over the question of why Canadians aren’t allowed to have a “Buy Canadian - Hire Canadian” policy for the moment, because many Canadians agree with President Trump about Canadian milk policy; or at least resent the high prices they have to pay for milk.

It’s not as if the American treatment of milk is free of mercantilist shenanigans, but when President Trump says Canada’s milk policy is unfair, he has a point, even though he’s not thinking about how unfair it is to Canadians:

Canada’s dairy quota system has been Canada’s shame since it was introduced in 1970. The quota system makes milk prohibitively expensive for poor families, it denies Canadian consumers the right to purchase diverse cheeses from around the world and it destroyed Canada’s once-great cheese industry, whose many small producers capitalized on milk surpluses to make world-famous cheddars — Ontario alone once supplied England with half of its cheddar cheese imports…

Canada remains one of the West’s great bastions of protectionism, barring foreign ownership of banking and other major sectors and unable to achieve even internal free trade among our provinces, despite 150 years of trying. The provinces themselves don’t accept the provisions of NAFTA, cannot be bound by them and haven’t honoured them.
And he is certainly not bemoaning the restrictions on Canadian diary farmers:
The fact that each individual Canadian dairy producer is told exactly how much milk he may produce, and exactly to whom he may sell it (Hint: There’s only one legal customer and it happens to be a provincial marketing board) is evidence of just how transparently anti-free trade we are in this realm. And a recent agreement struck by Canadian dairy farmers and producers which effectively slapped a new import tariff on ultra-filtered milk (a product used to make cheese and yogurt, among other things), has drawn the ire of Australians, Mexicans, New Zealanders and members of the European Union.

Meanwhile, Canadian consumers pay the price. The Montreal Economic Institute estimates that the country’s supply management system costs each of us [Canadians] $258 a year. Which is not especially surprising, when you think about it. We have official, explicit collusion and price-fixing going, after all. It’s how we’ve chosen to conduct business.
Or, the barriers to entry in the Canadian market:
That governments have been so unwilling to set aside a policy that is responsible for Canadian families paying two and three times the world price for basic food items, all to benefit a dwindling number of wealthy and aging, farmers (young farmers face a formidable barrier to entry, in the form of the cost of quota: more than $25,000 per cow) is one of the great dilemmas of public policy. If we have to enlist Trump to save us from ourselves, so be it.
So, just as our tariffs on Brazilian sugar, Chinese steel and Canadian softwood lumber hurt American consumers and eliminate jobs with manufacturers using those products, milk quotas and tariffs hurt Canadian consumers and Canadian cheese and yogurt making employment.

Not to be outdone by Canada, President Trump has decided to impose higher costs on American consumers by placing an additional 20% tariff on Canadian softwood lumber. The average new house built in the United States will increase in price by around $1,000 and eliminate many thousands of American jobs in the construction, furniture and paper industries.

This is the fifth time since 1982 that softwood lumber has precipitated a dispute with Canada.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Art of the Steal

Worth a read: The Art of the (Trade) Deal, according to the Trump administration

A nice exploration of the practical effects of TrumpTrade. The concluding paragraph:
In sum, the art of the trade deal according to the Trump administration teaches us that Americans win when the dollars in our pockets buy less in global markets; when we pay higher prices for the goods and services we use every day; when U.S. producers face higher costs of production than their foreign competitors; and when the taxes we pay buy less infrastructure and national defense.
The author neglected to add to the summary, “…when there are fewer American jobs; and when regulatory capture, financed by political contributions, becomes a standard method of excluding small competitors from markets."

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Privacy

I've noticed a recurring theme, prompted by the GOP's recent decision to let your ISP sell your browsing history without your permission, that Google/Facebook/Twitter already sell your information so letting your Internet Service Provider do the same is no big deal.

First of all, if you have a Facebook account, you probably don't care about privacy and can skip the rest of this post. There is a difference, however, between Google/Facebook et. al. selling your info and letting your ISP do it. More here.

The difference is that you can choose not to use Google or Bing. You can use Duck-Duck-Go for search. You can choose not to be on Facebook or Twitter. If you want to trade information for “free” stuff you can decide to do that, though most people still have no clue what that means.

With your ISP you are captive, and you are paying them. If they want to use your info they should have to get permission. And then they should pay you.

Nice thing about a Virtual Private Network (VPN), it can encrypt the data your ISP sees – making it unsaleable – while obscuring your IP address from the likes of Google. If you go this route make sure the VPN supplier doesn't sell your data.

Possibly useful analogy (using islands and bridges/boats) about how VPNs work here.

See also:
The Best Browser Extensions that Protect Your Privacy

Slightly dated, but informative.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Experiments in suppressing the volatility of crypto currencies

I have to read this again, but I found it interesting. I’m not sure volatility is something crypto-currency advocates should be overly concerned about at this stage in crypto-currency evolution. Most of the volatility in Bitcoin, for example, has to be attributed to novelty and skepticism.

It's true that one part of a definition of money is "a store of value." High volatility does run counter to that requirement. But, isn't Bitcoin a symptom of skepticism about the long term value (erosion through inflation and potential for catastrophic volatility) of fiat currencies? Suppressing volatility by tying a crypto-currency to fiat currency seems counter-intuitive.

These experiments are attempts to smooth out the value of crypto-currency “X” compared to US$. The right question for a successful crypto-currency would be what’s a US$ worth in crypto-currency “X”. Pegging a crypto-currency to a fiat currency means accepting the risk a crypto-currency is designed to avoid.

As the author points out, these experiments can be seen as a market-based attempt to answer the question, “How should a mechanism for pegging a crypto-currency to a fiat currency work?" Whether we should care is subject to debate about what a crypto-currency is and is expected to accomplish, and in what time-frame.

Everything You Need to Know about Dollar-Denominated Cryptocurrencies

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Obamacare as a pre-existing condition
AKA - a now intractable entitlement

A large part of Donald Trump's successful campaign for the Presidency derived from a promise to repeal Obamacare.

Unfortunately, he also promised universal health care under the most wonderful health insurance plan we'd ever seen. He promised to keep, and even expand, the popular parts of Obamacare while repealing the unpopular parts - and at lower cost.

Consistent with those inconsistent promises, the post-election policy proposal was to keep the most costly popular parts of Obamacare. For example, coverage for pre-existing conditions, coverage for 26 year olds under their parents' family plan, and federally decreed coverages many insured neither want nor need.

The bill that Paul Ryan delivered was an attempt to satisfy Trump's promises.

"Moderate" Republicans wouldn't vote for a bill that removed pre-existing condition protection, etc.. The Freedom Caucus stood firm for repeal, and wouldn't vote for a bill with Obamacare holdovers. Trump said, "Take it or leave it."

So, is it Trump who's at fault for the bill's failure? Ryan? The Freedom Caucus?

I think it's the "moderate" Republicans in the House, but give Trump an assist. The core sin of Obamacare was to further insert government control into the health insurance market. By accepting Obamacare's core principle, Mr. Trump encouraged GOP House "moderates" to insure "repeal" would degenerate into tinkering about the edges.

Tax reform next?

Friday, March 24, 2017

American Health Care Hacked

Instead of mandates and fines for not buying health insurance the American Health Care Act provides a 30% increase in premiums. Instead of means based subsidies there are age based tax credits.

Left in place are mandated coverage for pre-existing conditions and extension of coverage to 26 year old 'children'. Because these are popular. So are unicorns. The cosmetologists behind the GOP health insurance plan can't be bothered to point out any connection between these policies and insurance premiums. Because insurance premiums are not popular.

The President promised health insurance would be made available across "the [state] lines." Trump’s website said he would “ask Congress to immediately deliver a full repeal of ObamaCare” on day one. So much for those promises on day sixty three.

A few of the Obamacare decreed coverages, like maternity insurance for males, are removed, but only after strong objection from the Freedom Caucus; people who know how to spell 'repeal.'

This bill, in all its superficial wordplay, is capitulation to the core principles of Obamacare. It puts the GOP stamp of approval on policies the GOP derided as socialist as recently as six months ago.

Now, the Great Negotiator, who insists this is a "wonderful" health care bill, has said "take it or leave it" - after threatening those who are trying to get him to keep his promises.

If anything good is to arise from this debacle it will only come from the courage of a handful of people who still believe in a free market. Better to take the President up on his offer to do nothing than to accept this travesty.


Monday, March 13, 2017

Trumpcare Phase III, Title XX/XY

The FDA does not allow 23andMe to offer medical interpretations of its $199 human genetic mapping service. Oh, you can get ancestry information, but no information about your own genetic tendencies or disease markers unless you yourself decode the raw data. Because you, or 23andMe, might misinterpret it.

Meanwhile, a Republican Member of the US House of Representatives (Virginia Foxx [R-NC-5]) has introduced H.R. 1313, a bill which would allow your employer sponsored health plan access to your genetic profile under the pretense heading of "employee workplace wellness programs, including programs that utilize a health risk assessment, biometric screening, or other resources".

This started under ObamaCare, where employers are allowed to add up to 30%, or more, to your health insurance premium if you don't "volunteer" for their "workplace wellness program." These programs typically look for, and monitor, health conditions such as weight, smoking and blood glucose.

H.R. 1313 takes the pre-existing condition question to the next level - pre-existing tendencies - and with the added heredity information, one can also imagine employer diversity programs based on your DNA inheritance. The good news is Elizabeth Warren might not have been counted as a minority on the Harvard faculty, no matter which boxes she checked. Every other application I can think of is bad news.

Outrageous.

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated..."


Cosponsors:
Rep. Walberg, Tim [R-MI-7]
Rep. Stefanik, Elise M. [R-NY-21]
Rep. Mitchell, Paul [R-MI-10]

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Leave Obamacare alone

Just let it crash and burn on its own. That is at least preferable to the GOP proposal to place it under new ownership being pushed by Paul Ryan and Donald Trump.

The Trump supporters who railed against the 'GOPe' should be angrier than the rest of us, since the Art of the Trumpcare Deal strongly suggests the GOPe is still in charge.

Actually, following the script of redefining subsidies into tax credits and claiming there's a real difference, maybe we should rename GOPe. Call it GOPino. Actually, it's arguable that there is nothing significant left of the GOP, anyway.

Here's a partial list from Jeffrey Tucker of things health care reform should accomplish. Not one of them is in the GOPino proposal.
  1. Government should not be determining what is or must be insured. That should be up to the consumers to decide.
  2. Government should not interfere in contractual relationships between providers and purchasers of insurance, whether individuals or businesses.
  3. Prices for medical services need to be completely decontrolled, and the convoluted market-rigging by a conspiracy of providers, insurers, and government welfare bureaucracies must be ended.
  4. Government should not mandate coverage by employers or privilege employer-provided coverage over individually purchased coverage. Third-party payment should be an option.
  5. Government should not mandate that insurers accept all comers at the same price; that system makes a mockery of the whole idea of insurance itself.
  6. Discrimination for “pre-existing conditions” should not be a criminal act but rather a rational consideration for determining premiums.
  7. Government should not restrict who gets to try their hand at providing insurance; entry and exit need to be competitive too.
  8. Government should never force anyone to pay for a service that he or she does not want. You say coverage is a human right? It’s a human right for a person to refuse coverage.
  9. If you want to get serious about fixing the system, the byzantine pharmaceutical system has to go. Again, let the consumers decide, and, while we are at it, there should be complete free trade in medicine.
  10. The 100-year old medical credential monopoly that has so severely restricted entry into the profession should be dismantled. The market is fully capable of assuring quality, and remember too that there is not one definition of quality.
Those are all fixes to problems big government created. Rather than address that, Trump and Ryan are saying if we don't pass Trumpcare it will hurt Republicans. Ryan:
“I do believe that [2018 will be a "bloodbath" for Republicans] if we don't keep our word to the people who sent us here, yeah,” Ryan told CBS News’s “Face the Nation,” when asked if he agreed with Trump’s reported comments about the 2018 midterm elections.
Who cares?

I do believe he's right, but not in the way he thinks. This only makes sense in a Clintonian world where the definitions of "keep" and "word" depend on the meaning of the word "is."

Trump's Voters Have Been Betrayed on Healthcare, Bigly.

So has everyone else.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Saccharine of the masses

I used to think steel was the poster child for the evils of protective tariffs, perhaps because of my disgust with Dubya when he used steel tariffs to solicit votes in Pennsylvania.

I flirted with the ethanol tariff example as an alternative, because the $0.54 a gallon tariff on Brazilian cane ethanol was so outrageously high - and so thoroughly hypocritical when our elected representatives were simultaneously subsidizing corn ethanol as a partial solution to the energy crisis and 'global warming'.

Then again, because of the availability of precision, in-depth analysis of Reagan’s motorcycle protectionism on behalf of a single company, and the fact that even the Gipper could betray his stated principles, those tariffs were a brief contender as quintessential.

Lately, perhaps because of the long history of sugar tariffs and that they've been in the news, I’m leaning toward sugar as the best example of protectionist perfidy.

These four examples cover agriculture, heavy industry, and manufacturing, so there’s not much room to argue in favor of protectionism on any sectoral basis.

IAC, I think this article on sugar wonderfully illustrates the corrupt crony-capitalist nature of protectionism - from protecting slave owners to why Nabisco would move Oreo manufacturing to Mexico to farmland prices in Minnesota to causus belli for the Spanish-American war - all while screwing over American consumers and enriching lobbyists in order for politicians to buy votes.

Protectionism is accepted because the Yuge economic damage is unseen, the insidious moral erosion is smothered in populist platitude, and the proponents are organized while the victims are not.

Without economic freedom there is NO freedom, and whatever example of protectionist venality is used to reveal its pillages, protectionism itself is the poster child for the armed robbery of economic freedom.

Update 5:25PM.
A friend writes:
"If I want to sell widgets to buyers in Canada, and Canada puts a tariff on my widgets, is there free trade?," as if the point were that without fully free trade we shouldn't remove our tariffs.

I haven't been clear enough.

My clarifying response:
"No, because Canada is interfering with the trade.

My point is that just because Canada indulges stupid policies doesn’t mean we have to. We should not ‘retaliate’ because that hurts our economy, our people, our morals, and our jobs.

When I said, “Aw, come on, all the other kids are doing it!” to my mother she said (as your mother probably said to you) some variation of, “If all the other kids were hitting themselves in the head with a hammer, should you?”"

Friday, March 03, 2017

Sweet reason?

Nope.

You probably shake your head in wonder at the stupidity of the Philadelphia politicians who imposed this tax on the soft drink industry: Pepsi is laying off up to 100 workers in Philadelphia and blaming a 2-month-old soda tax.

Distributors and grocery stores are likely to follow: Philadelphia’s Soda Sellers Say Tax Has Reduced Sales by as Much as 50%.

If you understand the Philadelphia political folly, but still support protectionist tariffs in the name of preserving U.S. jobs, intellectual consistency demands that you explain federal import duties on sugar in the same terms: U.S. Trade Policy Gouges American Sugar Consumers.

According to a 2006 study by our own Commerce Department, “For each one sugar growing and harvesting job saved through high U.S. sugar prices, nearly three confectionery manufacturing jobs are lost.

One-fifth of one percent of U.S. farms are the beneficiaries of this protectionism, and consumers pay around $1.3 billion annually to support them - not including the cost of federally mandated, corn-based ethanol in our gasoline. Which brings us to another sugar related protectionist tariff: Brazilian (cane-sugar) ethanol attracted a 54 cent a gallon tariff until 2012, while we simultaneously subsidized corn "food as fuel", raising prices on everything from tortillas to steak.

Claims by the sugar industry that Mexico is selling sugar below cost are ludicrous, Mexico is selling it above average world cost. That, and the Brazilian tariff, is what “fair trade” means to U.S. farm lobbyists and the Trump administration.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

'Create facts' wasn't a slip of the tongue here:
The morning after the [2016] election, President Obama said to Rolling Stone editor Jann Wenner, “The most important thing that I’m focused on is how we create a common set of facts.” That was the problem of his whole presidency. Political rhetoric doesn’t create facts.

-Christopher Caldwell, Sanctimony Cities in The Claremont Review of Books, Winter 2016/17, page 27
That's our job.
During a lively discussion centered on fears that President Trump is "trying to undermine the media," MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski let slip the awesome unspoken truth that the media's "job" is to "actually control exactly what people think."
SCARBOROUGH: "Exactly. That is exactly what I hear. What Yamiche said is what I hear from all the Trump supporters that I talk to who were Trump voters and are still Trump supporters. They go, 'Yeah you guys are going crazy. He's doing -- what are you so surprised about? He is doing exactly what he said he is going to do.'"

BRZEZINSKI: "Well, I think that the dangerous, you know, edges here are that he is trying to undermine the media and trying to make up his own facts. And it could be that while unemployment and the economy worsens, he could have undermined the messaging so much that he can actually control exactly what people think. And that, that is our job."
...[T]he comment failed to raise any eyebrows from her co-panelists. Instead, her co-host, Joe Scarborough, said that Trump's media antagonism puts him on par with Mussolini and Lenin...
Trump is trying to undermine the media? They don't need any help.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Codependency

Senator John McCain tells NBC’s Chuck Todd we need:
[A] free and sometimes adversarial press. Without it, I'm afraid that we would lose so much of our individual liberties over time. That's how dictators get started… They get started by suppressing the free press… I'm not saying President Trump is trying to be a dictator, I'm just saying we need to learn the lessons of history.
Classic. “I’m not saying this thing I just said.”

Well, sometimes dictators get started by co-opting the press. Sometimes the press sycophants enlist themselves. The press is free to print what it wants; but if it becomes immune to criticism that's when it becomes the enemy, and when it acts like a hive mind, that's when the possibility of dictatorship emerges.

We all remember the fiery outrage Senator McCain expressed when former President Obama wiretapped the Associated Press in 2013. We can never forget his impassioned speech when Fox News’ James Rosen was on Obama’s DOJ enemies list.

Well… No. We can’t remember outrage that was never expressed, nor can we forget something that never happened. Donald Trump called the press "the enemy of the American people" in a tweet - that got Mr. Straight Talk Express to sit up and take notice.

Given Senator McCain’s estranged relationship with GOP Presidents, we shouldn’t be surprised he’s bashing Trump. You may remember some of Senator McCain’s collusion with Democrats against President George W. Bush. It’s worth a review to recall the full picture.

At best that was about policies. At worst, it was McCain building his own ego. It’s quite another thing to glibly toss about the word “dictator” in response to a question about POTUS criticizing the MSM. The answer to Todd’s question is, “Yes, the press is the enemy of the American people who elected this President, and anyone else who doesn't agree with their Progressive agenda. Get a clue.”

Given Senator McCain’s estranged relationship with the First Amendment, we shouldn’t be surprised he’s selective in citing it. He is, after all, the co-author of the anti-First Amendment Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, eponymously known as McCain-Feingold. Don’t take my word for its unconstitutionality - the Supreme Court has overturned major portions of McCain-Feingold in FEC v. Wisconsin Right to Life, Inc., Davis v. Federal Election Commission, and Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

If John McCain understood that the First Amendment protects free speech (especially political speech) for all of us he would be too embarrassed to be currying MSM favor by implying Trump is suppressing the free press.

Powerline’s John Hinderaker sums it up nicely,
John, John, get a grip! Who is “suppressing” the press? Do you seriously not understand the difference between criticizing the press and suppressing it? The press is not above criticism. On the contrary, it deserves to be called out constantly for bias and inaccuracy. President Trump has taken a good step in that direction, but a great deal more press criticism is in order.

Also: not calling on CNN in a White House press conference does not constitute “suppressing” CNN.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Presser

I have criticized Donald Trump for his Twitter obsession; an ongoing "flurry of 140 character mind farts."

On reflection, I've changed my mind. I prefer that over 75 minute press conferences consisting of self interruptions every 140 characters.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Please, Mr. President, help us out

A thoughtful defense of the raid on Al-Qaeda in Yemen, in which Navy SEAL Ryan Owens and a number of Yemeni civilians were killed. It notes that the planning took place under the previous President and castigates the "journalism" practiced. RTWT

It also illustrates what is already so wearying about Trump's Presidency. A slice:
Rather than respond with reason and logic, however, Trump did what Trump does — tweeted personal insults.
There's every sign that this will go on for Four. More. Years. I get the argument that the MSM is so corrupt that such behavior may be necessary, but Reagan was equally vilified and didn't stoop to such tactics.

As usual in these cases, the administration's response was needlessly strident, full of insults premised on slipshod exaggeration, distracting and petty. It is a) exactly opposite of what one expects in a leader, b) behavior calculated to enrage a peer, and c) cause for dismissal of a subordinate. There's no place for it. None.

For those not on the train, but who would nevertheless like to see Trump do well, it's exhausting. It's alienating. It's embarrassing. How many times can one drag oneself to the barricades to defend the boorish, simplistic flurry of 140 character mind farts? Mike Pence must be wondering.

Even the hard core of true believers must eventually get tired of all the whining.

It's not going well. All the more so when Trump is actually right.

Sad.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Trump trade

Protectionism is simply a method of redistributing wealth from consumers to favored groups, like the UAW. By definition, it reduces our freedom, strengthens the regulatory State, encourages rent-seekers and wastes resources.

People favor it because, per Bastiat, the negative effects are unseen.

Monday, January 30, 2017

That could have gone better

Predictably, Trump supporters are praising the President's executive order on immigration despite its flaws. Even more predictably, his detractors are invoking their Hitler analogies and ignoring the fact that the countries targeted come from a list developed by the Obama administration, who actually did use it to discriminate - against Christians.

If the Left wants ever more of this sort of thing, they should keep ramping up their hysterical whining.

Yes, the EO was not very well thought out since it stopped green card holders from entering the United States. They've already been subjected to sufficiently extreme vetting that holding them overnight isn't going to help fight terrorism. They spent months or years waiting to become legal immigrants. The Administration belatedly recognized this and reversed itself. An unforced error.

It's merely the most recent example of Trump's idea that he knows more about everything than anybody. I.e., he's not Hitler, he's simply impulsive and ignorant in the manner of big government authoritarians like Barack Obama and every Democrat in Congress, if more crude.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Thank God that's over

It's an immense relief that Barack Obama no longer occupies the White House, nor can be referred to as "President."

Hail to the Chief.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Mr. Thompson* speaks

“I have a Twitter account," is the populist version of “I have a pen and phone.”

You might say these are just negotiating positions, but if the negotiating positions are immoral, where do the negotiations end up?

On health care
“We’re going to have insurance for everybody,” Trump said. “There was a philosophy in some circles that if you can’t pay for it, you don’t get it. That’s not going to happen with us."
No, I get it. If you can’t pay for it we’ll steal it from others.

“In some circles,” is worthy of an Obama speech.

"It’ll be another plan. But they’ll be beautifully covered. I don’t want single-payer. What I do want is to be able to take care of people,”
Depends on your definition of “plan” and “single-payer,” I suppose: Direct from the Feds, or from insurance companies run by the Feds. A distinction without a difference. The former is socialist, the latter fascist. Both are statist.
“The question of whether the government should start negotiating how much it pays drugmakers for older Americans on Medicare has long been a partisan dispute, ever since the 2003 law that created Medicare drug benefits prohibited such negotiations.”
There's a reason for that: It wouldn't have passed if it put the Feds in control of pricing drugs. It was a partisan (a question of principle) issue when one party promoted fascism and the other paid lip service to free markets. Even that small distinction is being dissolved. The question that’s been forgotten is whether the government should be doing this at all. Just like “repeal and replace” is surrender because it assumes Obamacare should be replaced.

On tariffs

“Trump then attacked another carmarker, previosuly [sic] unnoticed by the president-elect, when he warned the United States will impose a border tax of 35 percent on cars that German carmaker BMW plans to build at a new plant in Mexico and export to the U.S. market.”
Now foreign companies are to be punished for operating in Mexico? Actually, it’s Mexico and American consumers being punished.

Ask yourself what Hank Reardon would have said.


*Mr. Thompson was US "Head of State" in Atlas Shrugged.
"He is not particularly intelligent and has a very undistinguished look. He knows politics, however, and is a master of public relations and back-room deals. Rand's notes indicate that she modeled him on President Harry S. Truman, and that she deliberately decided not to call him "President of the United States" as this title has "honorable connotations" which the character does not deserve."

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Econ 001

If you read the brief articles below, you'll have a better understanding of the obstacles the President elect faces in implementing his economic agenda, and you'll understand the damage much of that agenda will do.

Reason Magazine:
A Stronger Economy Will Also Destroy Jobs, but It’s Necessary
Luddites need not apply.

The Brookings Institution:
Global economic forces conspire to stymie U.S. manufacturing
Stopping productivity increases will preserve jobs for some and destroy jobs for many others. All of them will be poorer.

The Foundation for Economic Education:
Taxing Global Trade Is Not Deregulation
The Regulatory State is where you find it.

I heard some guy named Sexton (guest hosting for Rush) making excuses for cronyism and protectionism on Tuesday. Hannity, too (while flipping stations).

The corruption of conservatism is well underway. These guys only ever paid lip service to the idea of small government. They’re just fine with Statism if the “right people” are in charge.

Cafe Hayek:
Trump’s Ignorance Is Matched Only by His Thuggishness
Remember when Obama screwed GM bondholders and fired the CEO? Donald Trump probably liked that. Conservatives didn't.

Now, apparently, we're supposed to cheer the big bully in the pulpit.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

"Offshoring" meets automation

These jobs aren't coming back no matter how much the President-elect threatens Apple:
After announcing its 40,000 robot workforce in October, Foxconn (OTC:FXCOF) is automating production at its factories in China in three phases, aiming to fully automate entire factories eventually.
If the average Foxconn employee making Apple products gets $3.00 an hour (it's probably closer to $3.00 a day), and those jobs are being eliminated by automation, we don't want them back.

Robots cost the same to operate everywhere.