URLs du Jour

2018-01-22

week #9/52: fallacy

Proverbs 16:13 continues the absurd sycophancy toward monarchs:

13 Kings take pleasure in honest lips;
    they value the one who speaks what is right.

But what about modern-day pols? That question leads to the next item…


■ Freed up from dead-trees Reason, a Glenn Garvin review of six books purporting to analyze the 2016 election: What the Heck Happened? It's full of interesting anecdotes culled from the books, and relevant to the above verse:

On the day of the convention [Hillary Clinton's] staff had to bring in a coach, because, despite three decades of giving campaign speeches for Bill as well as herself, Clinton still didn't understand how to deliver an applause line.

At least she accepted the speaking advice, noted [Jonathen Allen's and Ami Parnes' book] Shattered; often, her response to criticism was to fly into a rage. When an aide, during a prep session for a debate with Sanders, said one of her responses was "not very good," she furiously replied, "Really? Why don't you do it?" For half an hour, the aide was forced to play Clinton in a mock debate, and no matter what he said, she childishly interrupted him to snarl, "That isn't very good, you can do better."

In her own book, Clinton describes this episode as a lot of chortling good fun; Shattered calls it a "browbeating" and quotes an employee saying: "She was visibly, unflinchingly pissed off at us as a group." Her staff began moving tough questions to the end of debate practice because she so often stormed away and refused to continue.

Hillary was not the kind of person who took "pleasure in honest lips."

One more tidbit, that I hadn't seen before, in discussing Hillary's memoir What Happened?:

There's not a word about the most profoundly damaging misanalysis of the whole election: the Clinton campaign's insanely ironic fear, during the last days, that Trump might win the popular vote but lose in the Electoral College.

This peculiar belief, Politico would report a month after the election, prompted the Clinton braintrust to pour several million dollars into places like Illinois (where Clinton would win 56–39 percent) and Louisiana (where she would lose 58–39) to maximize turnout in Clinton strongholds like Chicago and New Orleans, running up the score in the popular vote. Had that money gone instead to battleground states like Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, which Clinton would lose by a combined total of just 80,000, it might have turned the election.

All I can say is: thank heaven for insanely ironic fears among the Clinton braintrust.


■ Say what you will about the NYT, but at least there's someone there with a few brain cells, paying Peter Suderman to write there insightfully: The Shutdown Shows the Twisted Rules of a Broken Congress.

This week’s government shutdown is a bipartisan failure, with bad faith all around, and both parties trying to blame the other for the consequences, in hopes of winning one for the team.

But it is also a systemic failure, in which an outdated budget process — the complex set of procedures that keeps the government open — has become an empty ritual, twisted in the service of narrow partisan gain.

The source of today’s dysfunctions goes back more than 40 years, to the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974. That law was passed as a result of a perception within Congress — which under the Constitution holds the power of the purse — that the White House had too much influence over the budget.

Suderman wishes for reform to undo the breakage of 1974. But a Congress mature enough to do that would also be a Congress that wouldn't have put us where we are now.


■ Jay Nordlinger has a pretty fascinating history of the Browder family, which is indeed A Family in History. It starts with him meeting Bill Browder, "a truth-telling foe of the Putin regime".

“Any relation?” I asked him. He said, “To Earl Browder?”

I thought this was puzzling, because who else could I have meant? Anyway, it transpired that Browder was indeed related — he is the grandson of Earl Browder. “My grandfather was the biggest Communist in America,” Bill remarked, “and I became the biggest capitalist in Russia.”

Earl Browder was head of the CPUSA — the American Communist party — in the 1930s and ’40s. Bill Browder created his hedge fund, Hermitage, in 1996. The Kremlin turned on him hard in 2005, declaring him persona non grata. He had been a thorn in the side of Putin’s oligarchs. In 2008, the authorities arrested Browder’s fearless and whistleblowing lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky. They tortured him to death. Real slow, over the course of a year.

Also running in the family: math brilliance. RTWT.


■ Writing in City Journal, Amity Shlaes tells us our policy aims should be Growth, Not Equality.

Free marketeers may sometimes win elections, but they are not winning U.S. history. In recent years, the consensus regarding the American past has slipped leftward, and then leftward again. No longer is American history a story of opportunity, or of military or domestic triumph. Ours has become, rather, a story of wrongs, racial and social. Today, any historical figure who failed at any time to support abolition, or, worse, took the Confederate side in the Civil War, must be expunged from history. Wrongs must be righted, and equality of result enforced.

The equality campaign spills over into a less obvious field, one that might otherwise provide a useful check upon the nonempirical claims of the humanities: economics. In a discipline that once showcased the power of markets, an axiom is taking hold: equal incomes lead to general prosperity and point toward utopia. Teachers, book review editors, and especially professors withhold any evidence to the contrary. Universities lead the shift, and the population follows. Today, millennials, those born between 1981 and 2000, outnumber baby boomers by the millions, and polls suggest that they support redistribution specifically, and government action generally, more than their predecessors do. A 2014 Reason/Rupe poll found 48 percent of millennials agreeing that government should “do more” to solve problems, whereas 37 percent said that government was doing “too many things.” A full 58 percent of the youngest of millennials, those 18–24 when surveyed, held a “positive” view of socialism, in dramatic contrast with their parents: only 23 percent of those aged 55 to 64 viewed socialism positively.

That's not encouraging. Neither is the possible corollary: it might take (yet) another huge economic crisis for millennials to gain a decent appreciation for free markets.


■ Did I say something nice about the NYT above? Sorry, I take that back. Katharine Q. Seelye reports from Manchester on How a ‘Perfect Storm’ in New Hampshire Has Fueled an Opioid Crisis. What can we blame? Seelye reports on a federally-funded study by Dartmouth researchers that fingers (among other things)…

Live Free or Die.” The researchers said the New Hampshire ethos of “self-sufficiency and individualism” could inhibit some residents from seeking help. And for some, they said, the state’s “Live Free or Die” motto might justify risky behaviors. The state does not require drivers to wear seatbelts. It allows motorcyclists to ride without helmets. And state liquor stores are right on the major highways.

Yes, blame our motto.

And I can only gape at the "logic" that that says state-owned-and-operated liquor stores (on the Interstates or elsewhere) are indicators of our LFOD individualism.


■ But at least we don't have the woes of the Ocean State. The online news source What'sUpNewp [i.e., Newport, Rhode Island] reports on Rhode Island’s Tourism Marketing Initiative. It's not working as well as the state's tourism fat-cats want it to. And so what's the problem?

Rhode Island, [Lara Salamano, Chief Marketing Officer of the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation] says, is a state without a slogan.

“You can tell a lot about a place from the slogan it brands with,” said Greig Lamont in a blog on HuffPost in 2013. “That self-professed badge of honour [sic] it fixes to its chest, the indelible stamp it sears into its flesh for all to see: the standard by which it thinks it ought to be judged.

“Tourism slogans are the peacocks’ feathers of places. The mating call of a chunk of land enticing into its clutches passers-by and peregrinators alike, bidding them in for a spot of geographical dalliance, possibly even a cultural roll in the hay.”

So, Massachusetts has used “It’s all here in Massachusetts”; Connecticut is “Still Revolutionary”; we should “Think Vermont”; “Live Free or Die” in New Hampshire; “The Maine Thing”, “Vacationland”, “It Must Be Maine; the Way Life Should Be.”

Hey, how about "Discount Fentanyl!" That would attract folks from New Hampshire!

URLs du Jour

2018-01-21

Proverbs 16:12 is another apology for monarchy:

12 Kings detest wrongdoing,
    for a throne is established through righteousness.

Said several millennia of history: "Yeah, right."

And yet, the notion is deeply inscribed in world culture, and echoes today even around 21st century US Presidents.


■ David Harsanyi tells us What The Shutdown Tells Us About Modern Democrats. For people of a cynical bent, it is unsurprising:

Democrats, it seems, may [and did] precipitate a government shutdown this week. They’re able to do this because, despite their own best efforts, in the United States, the minority party has a genuine ability to participate in governing the nation. It’s one of our system’s authentic strengths.

Then again, this episode — and many others over the past nine years — reveal something else about the modern Democratic Party: Minority or majority, it doesn’t really matter to them. Process and norms? Largely irrelevant. Not only do they believe it’s undemocratic for elected Republicans to vote against a Democrat president’s agenda when in the minority they believe it’s undemocratic for Republicans to vote for a tax bill even after winning both houses of Congress and the presidency.

The rules get rewritten to fit the situation. I'm sure equally lurid (and probably accurate) takes on GOP hypocrisy are out there, too.

But that's the thing about democracy. We get the governing style we demand.

And when I say "we", I mean "stupid voters".


■ Joel Kotkin has an interesting take on "democracy" at the Daily Beast: Trump Damaged Democracy, Silicon Valley Will Finish It Off. (There's not that much about Trump "damaging" democracy.)

The Silicon Valley and its Puget Sound annex dominated by Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft increasingly resemble the pre-gas crisis Detroit of the Big Three. Tech’s Big Five all enjoy overwhelming market shares—for example Google controls upwards of 80 percent of global search—and the capital to either acquire or crush any newcomers. They are bringing us a hardly gilded age of prosperity but depressed competition, economic stagnation, and, increasingly, a chilling desire to control the national conversation.

Jeff Bezos harrumphs through his chosen megaphone, The Washington Post, about how “democracy dies in the dark.” But if Bezos—the world’s third richest man, who used the Post first to undermine Bernie Sanders and then to wage ceaseless war on the admittedly heinous Donald Trump—really wants to identify the biggest long-term threat to individual and community autonomy, he should turn on the lights and look in the mirror.

I'm not quite the alarmist that Kotkin is, but I'd advise people who scream about the Koch menace should especially check out the article.


■ Deirdre Nansen McCloskey has a [PDF] article written for a recent meeting of the Allied Social Sciences Association. Economic History as Humanomics, The Scientific Branch of Economics.

Sessions in any field of the intellect about “whither the future of X” have a deep intellectual problem of an economic character. The problem is that if you or I were so smart, then you or I would be rich. If anyone could predict the future of, say, mathematics, she could arbitrage between the present and the future. As Tom Lehrer sang long ago, she would “publish first.” She would achieve riches in a coin relevant to her preferences, namely immortal fame. She would be the Euler of the 21st century.

The principle is identical to the more obviously economic one that predictions of the stock market or housing prices or hem lines of skirts are useless. As they say in Hollywood, nobody knows anything. That Rocky was a hit doesn’t mean that Rocky 2 or 3 will be. We have to make predictions, of course, and necessarily we place bets on them. The future is coming, whether we like it or not, and our bets as producers of movies or of mathematics will determine how we personally do. But if good predictions—better than what the average punter makes with his bookie or in the forward markets—were achievable by studying econometrics or by following Warren Buffett, we would all be above average, as in Lake Wobegon. It ain’t happenin’.

It's an interesting take on what "science" means when you're talking about economic matters. Milton Friedman comes in for some criticism, but that's OK.


■ And, getting back to the shutdown, let's see what Michael P. Ramirez has to say:

Government shutdown

Fortunately, the government shutdown will not affect the title games today. Or will it?

URLs du Jour

2018-01-20

Proverbs 16:11 brings us to the humdrum world of weights and measures, a Godly duty now relegated to the National Bureau of Standards:

11 Honest scales and balances belong to the Lord;
    all the weights in the bag are of his making.

Very much in the spirit of "In God We Trust", I think.

Historical research: IGWT has appeared on coins since the Civil War; it has appeared on paper currency since 1955.

Possibly related fact: a 1955 dollar would buy stuff it takes about $9.13 to buy today. So just because it says "In God We Trust" doesn't mean you can trust it to hold value. Maybe God should sue for the unauthorized endorsement devaluing His brand?


■ I assume you are reading this while cowering under your bed. Because, as Matt Welch and Eric Boehm note at Reason, it's time to extend a: Welcome to the 2018 Government Shutdown!

After spending years blasting congressional Republicans as obstructionists who would rather shut down the government over their pet issue than work with the president on broad legislation, Democrats decided to use what little congressional power they currently have to...shut down the government over their pet issue rather than work with the president on broad legislation.

Well, turnabout is fair play I suppose.


■ My state's senators, both reliable partisan hacks, issued a joint statement:

I could not resist an off-the-cuff snarky reply:

I have no idea whether any low-level flunky is classifying and counting up replies to Senatorial Tweets. My guess is that Twitter is a write-only medium for them.


■ Jonah Goldberg's G-File for the week is shooting fish in the barrel that is politicians' hypocrisy.

There’s an enormous amount of talk about the erosion of democratic norms these days, and I subscribe to much of it. (Heck, I have a book coming out called “The Suicide of the West.”) But what is more dangerous to democratic norms: a president who all but his most besotted worshippers recognize as an irresponsible loudmouth or the quiet-spoken alleged institutionalists who routinely claim that virtually anything Republicans want to do will lay waste to humanity, kill poor people, usher in a paranoid feminist’s dystopia, or “rape and pillage” American citizens? If your answer is that Donald Trump is still more of a threat, fine. I wouldn’t expect otherwise from liberals. But maybe you should at least contemplate that this relentless wolf-crying is one of the reasons you got Donald Trump in the first place.

Jonah's book comes out in April, I might get it as a birthday gift to myself.


@kevinNR writes on The Great Leap Forward. In China, yes. But are we about to make one ourselves, thanks to tax reform? There's reason to be skeptical.

The Trump administration is congratulating itself with great energy on Apple’s recently announced plans to repatriate some of its overseas cash, paying $38 billion in corporate taxes to the U.S. Treasury and investing billions in the United States, creating perhaps tens of thousands of jobs in the process. That is all welcome news. But it is news that is easy to understand, too. Apple did not make any decision to repatriate those overseas funds. The U.S. government in effect seized them. The tax bill simply “deemed” those funds repatriated and imposed a 15.5 percent tax on them. There wasn’t any persuasion involved, and Apple was not responding to economic incentives. That was pure fiat. As for the future investments in U.S.-based facilities and workers, Apple CEO Tim Cook has said forthrightly that a big part of that is related to the tax reform and that a big part of it isn’t. The most arresting observation in the Reuters report on Apple’s $38 billion tax bill is this: “The payment would not represent a major impact on its cash flow this quarter.” Apple had long ago earmarked money for the eventual payment of some U.S. tax on its overseas earnings.

The big news is not how tax reform affects an established company like Apple, but whether it can spur (unpredictable) innovation and prosperity here in the US.


■ Andrew Klavan claims, with some justification, that Democrats Play Women for Fools.

Women — those women who allow feeling states to supersede reality — are driving Trump's unpopularity. The Democrats know this. And they know, if they are going to win back the House in 2018, they've got to convince women that they are #MeToo victims and Trump is somehow to blame — even though their actual lives and their actual country and their actual economic state are all getting better!

The Democrats are assuming women are fools who want to be lied to. Are they right?

Or women could simply find the Trump's loutish behavior trumps all that. Which would be understandable.


■ A new American Consequences is online, and P. J. O'Rourke opines on Pareto and His Principle.

[…] what made Pareto famous is something he simply noticed, early in his career, while working as a civil engineer for the Italian railroad. Going over maps and deeds of right-of-way, Pareto realized that about 80% of land in Italy was owned by about 20% of Italian families.

He did historical and international research and discovered that this 80/20 pattern of land ownership was prevalent around the world and through the ages.

PJ notes the prevalence of the 80/20 rule pattern outside of land ownership. He doesn't mention computers, but he could have:

  • 80% of bugs are found in 20% of the code

  • 80% of time spent fixing bugs is on 20% of the bugs

  • The first 80% of code is done in 20% of time.

And I've heard said that 80% of execution time is spent in 20% of the code.


■ The Daily Signal (rightfully) gloats: Google Removes Fact-Check Feature Targeting Conservative Media.

Google says it is discontinuing its fact-check feature because it proved to be too faulty for public use, directly attributing the decision to an investigation by The Daily Caller News Foundation. The company has no date set for when it will return, if ever.

Gee, just maybe do you think Google was too eager to release faulty features because of their left-leaning bias? Fortunately, that algorithm sloppiness won't show up in self-driving cars, right?


Last Modified 2018-01-20 8:55 AM EST

URLs du Jour

2018-01-19

■ Back in the day, everyone was a lot more respectful towards monarchs. Proverbs 16:10 provides an obsequious example:

10 The lips of a king speak as an oracle,
    and his mouth does not betray justice.

It's not as if the Bible isn't full of counterexamples. And advice to the contrary, for example, 1 Samuel 8:10-18:

10 Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. 11 He said, “This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. 12 Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. 15 He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. 16 Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. 17 He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. 18 When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”

Could Murray Rothbard have made things any plainer?

But did the Israelites listen to Sammy? Heck, no.


■ In a preview of an upcoming dead-trees Reason article, a number of thoughtful pundits offer the good news and bad news: Trump Turns One. Katherine Mangu-Ward provides an example of the bad news:

Attorney General Sessions is less a criminal justice reformer than a criminal justice reactionary. During his confirmation hearing, he spoke approvingly of civil asset forfeiture, a practice in which money and other property are taken from people who have not been charged, let alone convicted, of any underlying crime.

A fair-weather federalist, Sessions supports states' rights right up until the moment that states legalize recreational or medicinal marijuana, at which point he thinks Washington should take precedence. He has had a similar response to the rise of sanctuary cities (and states), or jurisdictions that aren't always willing to cooperate with immigration authorities. He also supports strengthening and lengthening sentences for violent and nonviolent offenders alike, and he is skeptical of the idea that increased police oversight is needed.

But at least it was a politically savvy move to pick a guy out of a safe GOP Senate seat… Oh, wait.


■ In the [possibly paywalled] WSJ Best of the Web column, James Freeman describes The Reagan Test

When did President Ronald Reagan realize that his policy mixture of deregulation and tax cuts was increasing American prosperity in the 1980s? “I could tell our economic program was working when they stopped calling it Reaganomics,” he used to say with a chuckle. By this standard our current President is off to a promising start.

Freeman relates the extreme lengths to which pundits and "straight news" outlets are going to credit the current economic good news to Obama policies. (Also doing that: President Obama.)


■ David Harsanyi writes in NRO: Donald Trump’s Greatest Gift Is His Enemies. [He means, specifically, a gift to Trump, not from him.]

Every morning, it seems, President Donald Trump’s most determined opponents awake to find out what sort of obnoxious, fact-challenged, puerile, norm-breaking thing he has offered that day and say to themselves: “Oh, that’s nothing. We can do something dumber than that!”

So the nation wades from one bizarre and nonsensical controversy to another. As I write this, I can’t even recall what topic we were debating last week, but I’m certain it was idiotic. Part of the problem is that those who drive coverage of Trump are obsessed with the president in unhealthy ways, ways that have absolutely nothing to do with policy or governance.

These days, I only watch local TV news (painful enough) and bounce up to the national outlets when I'm feeling particularly masochistic.


■ The Babylon Bee passes along some good news: Paula White Confirms President Trump In Excellent Spiritual Health.

After several serious concerns regarding President Trump’s spiritual health were brought to light in recent weeks, prosperity gospel preacher Paula White examined him and reported that he is in “excellent” spiritual health.

White performed a barrage of examinations on the president’s spiritual health to test his orthodoxy, and confirmed he’s “in perfect spiritual condition.”

“He understands that Christianity is all about the power, money, and prestige it can bring to him, so he’s doing just fine spiritually,” White said. “Any concerns people have about the president’s spiritual health are completely unfounded, and I say this as an expert in using Christianity for personal gain.”

I confess, I didn't know who Paula White was before reading this. But she's chair of President Trump's "Evangelical Advisory Board" (which, yes, is an actual thing). Like Trump, she's on her third spouse. And you can enter into a "partnership" with Paula for a mere $25/$50/$100 per month "recurring committment [sic]". So you'll want to check that out.

The $100/month payment gets you "Paula's Exclusive KJV Bible".


■ Bad news, New Hampshire does not appear on Amazon's short list of 20 candidates to receive Amazon's second headquarters. But (good news) Iowahawk's Tweet du Jour is a chain that handicaps the remaining cities on the list. An appetite-whetting sample:

URLs du Jour

2018-01-18

STOP!

Proverbs 16:9 establishes a divison of labor:

9 In their hearts humans plan their course,
    but the Lord establishes their steps.

You're in charge of strategy, but Someone Else is doing tactics.


■ You might have heard about NJ Senator Cory Booker's rant at DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. But do you know what it exposed? According to David French at National Review Cory Booker’s Rant Exposed the Left’s Gender Hypocrisy.

It’s incidents like this that convince so many Americans that identity politics are disingenuous and that lamentations about “norms,” “values,” and “civility” are grotesquely insincere. Talk to any conservative woman and she’ll tell you that all too often the Left’s “respect for women” stops the instant a female pundit, politician, or activist slides just to the right of moderate.

Yup.


■ And @kevinNR is (at least in spirit) Marching for Life.

Anyone who describes himself as a libertarian has been subjected to at least one game of “Would You Legalize . . . ?”

For me, the answer is mostly “Yes.”

Weed? Yes. Cocaine? Yes. Heroin? Yes. I’d legalize all the drugs. Not because I am indifferent to drug use — I have seen addiction up close and personal, closer and more personally than I ever wanted to, and I know what it does to people. I’m in favor of drug legalization for reasons deontological (I believe that people have the right to do what they will with their own bodies) and consequentialist (I believe heroin users would be better off if heroin were still made by Bayer, with modern pharmaceutical quality controls).

You mustn’t kill your children.

Mr. Williamson is a cogent and serious thinker, and his argument deserves your attention.


■ OK, I don't link to Ann Coulter much, she's kind of a bomb-thrower, but she throws one at a richly deserving target here: The Left’s Dirty Little Secret – Cleaned By Rosa!

The Democrats treat black people like the wife who will iron your shirt for a date with your mistress. They know they don’t have to do anything to keep winning 90 percent of the black vote, so they’ve dedicated themselves to bringing in millions of Latin Americans who will vote for them — and also do their gardening.

Ouch. Hurtful. But true.


■ Sometimes, I swear, the Babylon Bee seems like a straight news site: Sense Of Relief Washes Over Nation As Government Shutdown Grows Increasingly Likely/

As the federal government faces a shutdown at the end of the week with the president and Congress failing to pass a new spending bill and a Friday-night deadline looming, millions of Americans reported Wednesday a sense of relief washing over them like a wave of peace and serenity at the possibility of a powering-down of our volatile governing bodies.

“Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if the federal government would just close up shop and go away for a little while,” one smiling man told reporters. “They’re such a source of strife and frustration in our daily lives—we need a little peace of mind. I really hope they’ll go ahead and take a little break.”

“Don’t worry about us, politicians—we’ll be fine. Just go ahead, shut her down and take as much time as you need,” he added.

Hey, or even longer.


■ And finally, Mr. Ramirez riffs on Presidential doctors' appointments and loose-cannon talk.

URLs du Jour

2018-01-17

■ After numerous Proverbial assurances that Divine Justice would guarantee good behavior payoffs in the real world, Proverbs 16:8 seems to back off on that a bit. If your life plans don't bring you vast riches…

8 Better a little with righteousness
    than much gain with injustice.

[Sigh] I suppose.


■ We have a lot of LFOD business to transact today. Let's start with a recent LTE to Seacoast Online from Maria Sillari of Portsmouth. She thinks New Hampshire desperately needs more housing options. She makes a number of totally correct points: the Seacoast (and NH generally) do need more housing options; housing shortages mean increased housing prices, which is very bad news for (especially) young people starting out; this (in turn) means people will, on the margin, move to more hospitable states, and this will negatively impact the state's workforce, our demographics, and our economy.

But Maria errs in making it all about the homeless, and "affordable housing" (by which she apparently means state-subsidized housing). And she goes off the rails here:

If we continue to take a Live Free or Die approach to affordable housing, our state motto may soon more appropriately become the Live Free AND Die state.

You see what she did there?

Pun Salad Fact Check: although by many measures, New Hampshire is one of the most economically-free of the states, that emphatically does not apply in areas relevant to housing: land use and zoning restrictions.

See (for example): the Cato site, Freedom in the 50 States. Their New Hampshire page is straightforward: we are number one in overall freedom.

But skip to one of the components, Land-Use Freedom. New Hampshire is not just a little worse on that score; it ranks near the bottom at 45th place.

In summary, Maria has her eye on the problem, but misdiagnoses in attributing it to LFOD. We could use more of it.


Pravda on the Merrimack reports on the nefarious activity of (sigh) my very own state senator, David Watters: Bill would raise age to buy tobacco to 21 in New Hampshire

Mirroring a growing trend across the country, a new bill in the New Hampshire Legislature would raise to 21 the legal age to buy cigarettes and other tobacco products.

Democratic state Sen. David Watters of Dover said the measure he co-sponsored with Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, a Republican, comes down to public health and saving the lives of young people.

I'm very tired of the "logic" that treats 18-to-20 year-olds as "adults but not really". Yes, we trust you to vote, get married, kill your unborn baby, or serve the country in the military. But God forbid (but actually State forbid) that you have a beer or cigarette.

Of course there were naysayers:

But state Sen. Andy Sanborn, a Republican, doesn’t appear to be a fan.

The conservative from Bedford, who’s running for the open congressional seat in New Hampshire’s 1st District, said he had not seen the bill before, but after taking a quick look at it, told the Monitor the legislation “doesn’t seem like the New Hampshire ‘Live Free or Die’ philosophy.”

No foolin'. Although Andy makes it less of a freedom issue when he goes on to bemoan the loss in cigarette tax revenue.

I wish Watters would propose raising the tobacco-buying age to something that would really save lives: maybe 45 or 50? Hey, why not?


■ The Conway Daily Sun editorializes that our state should be Preparing for cannabis. Reacting to the recent NH General Court vote to legalize pot:

Several elected officials, including Sen. Jeb Bradley (R-Wolfeboro) and state Reps Frank McCarthy (R-Conway) and Gene Chandler (R-Bartlett), were against it, opining that, given the state’s opioid crisis, now is not the time to legalize another drug.

It is cynical if not laughable that these same politicians don’t trust their constituents with a little weed yet proudly stand behind the ethos of our “live free or die” state, which shamelessly promotes the sale of alcohol at state rest areas and allows everyday people to walk around with concealed, loaded handguns, no permit required.

Well, yeah. Shamelessly. Except a real LFOD state wouldn't have state-owned booze shops.


■ And I believe this may be the most remote LFOD item we've ever blogged. From The Whistler, a Nigerian website, comes news out of Africa: Cameroon’s Separatist Group Warns Buhari, Release Our President Or…

Here is the lede:

Ambazonia’s Interim Government (former British Southern Cameroons) has warned of dire consequences should the Nigerian Government fail to immediately and unconditionally release its President, Julius Ayuk Tabe.

Looking up "Ambazonia" in Google Maps fails, and the Wikipedia article explains why that is. The region is nestled between Nigeria and Cameroun. It has been part of Cameroun since 1961, and the residents have been steamed about that ever since. And …

Southern Cameroons declared its independence on the 1st of October 2017, and officially called its territory made up of the two English speaking regions of current Republic of Cameroon; The Federal Republic of Ambazonia. It has since then formed its Interim Government and the Interim President, Sisiku Ayuk Tabe Julius, has appointed his first cabinet in exile.

This move (apparently) made neither Nigeria nor Cameroun happy. But…

“We have battled the injustice forced upon us by the British Government for Fifty Six years. If the International Community thinks we are now ready to let go at this juncture, it is mistaken. If the UN, EU, Commonwealth, the AU, the US and British governments want to stop a bloodbath in Cameroon, THE TIME IS NOW, not tomorrow. “Every one of us, 8million Ambazonians will be killed before our territory will be made part of Cameroun again. WE WILL “LIVE FREE OR DIE.”

So, we'll see what happens. It would be nice to have an African country with the same motto as New Hampshire, especially with that cool name: "Ambazonia".

And, no, I don't know whether the correct spelling is Cameroun or Cameroon.

And a final geographic note: Southern Cameroon is not south of Cameroun.


■ But that's enough LFOD for today. The BBC asks Has pop music lost its fun? Obviously, yes. [Insert "young people today" rant here.] But I liked this computer-sciencey bit:

Repetition in pop is a key part of its appeal, as essential in Little Richard's Tutti Frutti as it is in Big Shaq's Man's Not Hot. That said, a sterling 2017 report by Daniel Morris on repetition in pop lyrics suggests that hit songs are getting closer and closer to a one-word lyric sheet.

The Lempel-Ziv algorithm is a lossless way to compress data, by taking out repetitions, and Morris used it as a tool to examine 15,000 songs from the Billboard Hot 100 from 1958 to 2014, reducing their lyrics down to their smallest size without losing any data, and comparing their relative sizes. He found two very interesting things. The first was that in every year of study, the songs that reached the Top 10 were more repetitive than their competition. The second is that pop has become more repetitive over time, as Morris points out: "2014 is the most repetitive year on record. An average song from this year compresses 22% more efficiently than one from 1960."

There you go: the science is settled, music today sucks.

URLs du Jour

2018-01-16

Hands Off Social Security!

■ So far, Proverbs 16 has had a lot of advertising for how neatly the Lord arranges His divine justice. Proverbs 16:7 continues that:

7 When the Lord takes pleasure in anyone’s way,
    he causes their enemies to make peace with them.

The contrapositive is: if your enemies are not making peace with you, the Lord is not taking pleasure in your way. So shape the hell up, President Trump!


■ At Reason, Veronique de Rugy has good advice for any American likely to be alive in 2034 (est.): Start Saving Now, Because Social Security Is Screwed. This is not news to anyone paying attention:

The Social Security trustees have calculated that the cash-flow deficit over the next 80 years will amount to a staggering $44.2 trillion, and that's after adjusting for inflation. Under current projections, the make-believe assets in the [so-called Old Age Trust Fund] will only be enough to pay full benefits until 2034. At that point, the system will have to revert to paying out only the amount taken in through annual taxes. And that means benefit cuts across the board of 25 percent.

Today's picture is from an allegedly pro Social Security rally. Apparently it's an article of faith among Democrats that they can intone "Hands Off Social Security" until it comes crashing down. Then they will blame Republicans for the disaster.

And I also liked how the photographer lined up the speaker's head with the hand on the poster behind her.


■ Like me, Patterico is no fan of the President, but he'll object when he sees him getting a bad shake in the NYT: The New York Times List of Donald Trump’s “Racist” Quotes Is Garbage.

For example, one of the "racist" claims: "Trump frequently claimed that Obama did not work hard as president."

I’ll grant you that Trump’s criticism of Obama as someone who spent too much time playing golf seems comical today, as the Linksman in Chief never misses a chance to whack the little white ball around the course. But calling Trump’s criticism of Obama’s schedule “racism” reminds us that, according to Big Media, every criticism of Obama by everyone under the sun was racism. Give me a break. Every single president in modern history has been criticized by the opposition for the length and expense of their vacations, for the amount of time they spend golfing (if they golf), and so forth. Calling it “racism” when this completely normal criticism is applied to Obama is absurd.

Trump is not a racist. He's an asshole.


■ At Minding the Campus, Peter Wood takes on Princeton prof Joan Scott, who has been getting some notice for her claims that the the "Right has weaponized free speech." True?

Professor Scott believes that academic freedom is under assault from an anti-intellectual right that hates academics because it fears “excellence, difference, and culture.” Conservatives have some sharp criticisms of the way universities are handling themselves these days, but none that I know of have expressed disapproval of “excellence,” hold “difference” in disapprobation, or quake on encountering “culture.” Indeed, conservatives are more often accused of elitism, precisely because they consider the pursuit of excellence the sine qua non of higher education. They uphold distinctions (“difference”) that the left prefers to flatten. And they are the standard bearers of traditional culture.

Universities that have institutionalized Bias Response Teams and then worry about the threat to academic freedom from conservatives do not exhibit a strong level of intellectual consistency.


■ At Cow Hampshire, Janice Webster Brown reminds us how it was 100 years ago, when Your Federal Government mandated Heatless Mondays. And this was in January.

Janice discourages copying even "fair use" excerpts from her blog (she's been burned by plagiarizers in the past), so I won't do that. But it's a literally chilling story, and yet another example of how the US flirted with Progressive Fascism in that era.


■ James Lileks brings the good news: Diet Coke's new flavors are fully contemporized, bro.

Diet Coke has announced its new flavors. They are:

Frog Sweat

Zesty Plasma

Virginia Ham

Perverted Guava

Well, no. The actual names are Ginger Lime, Feisty Cherry, Zesty Blood Orange and Twisted Mango. Yes, “Zesty Blood,” as though they’ve discovered some athletic vampire portion of the market previously unserved.

The cans also sport a sleek new design. This reminds me of those far off days of 2006, when I "reviewed" Coca-Cola BlăK. Yes, that's how they spelled it. It was ignominiously discontinued in 2008.


■ And finally, your Babylon Bee Tweet du Jour taking on social injustice:

It's an outrage, I tells ya!

MLK@UNH 2018: Another Try

The Dream of Martin Luther King,
Jr.

Last month, I blogged about the apparent lack of a "celebration" of Martin Luther King's birthday at the University Near Here.

Apologies, I blogged too soon; although the secretive application-only MLK Summit 2018 is still scheduled for February 23-25, UNH's Department of "Community, Equity, and Diversity" has posted this year's MLK Programs & Events. Lets take a look!

First up, on February 8, is Rev. Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou, or just call him "Rev. Sekou". Let us judge him by the content of his character. We learn that the Rev "is a nationally renowned activist, theologian, documentary filmmaker, musician and author who draws his audiences into thinking about racial, social change." But more important, he pushes all the left-wing buttons; for example, in this 2016 interview with Ebony, he's pretty hardcore:

EBONY: You say that neither Sanders nor Clinton are adequate to respond to the needs of the movement. So is voting for the lesser of two evils our only option?

OS: I think we continue to lay out a broader program that looks at the possibilities of a reimagined democracy. Right-wing populism is ultimately dangerous, but they’re not the most dangerous. It’s the anemic liberalism that refuses to take hard positions, including a spineless democratic party.

Note: from the Rev's point of view, Bernie and Hillary are both anemic, spineless liberals.

EBONY: If the democratic party is the most dangerous, how can allies work within the party to root out what you call the spinelessness?

OS: I’m not much for the discourse around allies. Ruby Sales, the SNCC activist, said, “we don’t need allies, we need freedom fighters.” Until White folks realize that racism, sexism, transphobia, classism—the way in which capitalism limits not only the life chances of Black people and brown people and Native American folks, but that they’re spiritually in danger of ceasing to be human because of White supremacy—we won’t get any real traction in this country.

But as we learned over the past few days, Nigerian immigrants to the US seem to be doing fine with their "life chances" under capitalism. A tweet from Mark J. Perry:

It's a mystery, but perhaps maybe they have, as the Rev explains, ceased to be human.

The Rev is also a backer of the anti-Israel Boycott/Divest/Sanctions movement; back in 2014, the Washington Free Beacon was set into a small tizzy when…

The keynote speaker [Rev Sekou] at the Students for Justice in Palestine’s (SJP) national conference, hosted this year at Tufts University, delivered a bizarre, racially charged tirade that drew applause from anti-Israel activists in the audience.

The n-word was deployed, but it's OK to do that when you're the right color.

Maybe I'll go just for the music. His website says it is "an unique combination of North Mississippi Hill Country Music, Arkansas Delta Blues, Memphis Soul and Pentecostal steel guitar." That does not sound bad at all, so…

What else is going on? Well, there's "The Truth Telling Project"!

Telling your story can be a radical act.

At UNH, it means opening our community as a listening space for stories that change the way we see things.

In February, The Truth Telling Collective activists-in residence (Kristine Hendrix and Asia Dorsey) will live on campus as educators & organizers to deepen understandings of current issues impacting communities and campuses across the U.S.

Highlight your voice to help create the UNH story on race and social change. Find the link in the personal story as methodology toward campus-wide social change. Hear what journey lies ahead as we all work together for our collective liberation.

In other words, the usual meaningless (but tedious) Progressive victimology bafflegab; afterwards, they will wonder why they can't get anyone to take them seriously.

The "Truth Telling Collective" has a website where you can read more, if you can stand it. The abovementioned Asia Dorsey has a bio:

Asia Dorsey is a serene, green, radical being. She teaches the art of spreading the seeds of creativity, community, justice and just desserts to anyone brave enough to be themselves. She trades fertilizer with seed activists and stories of future through brown belly-button solidarity. Currently, this whole foods entrepreneur, educator and leader of the Five Points Fermentation Cooperative enjoys her time working with communities around ancestral culinary technology, folk science and dreamwork as a radical framework for the future. Her work is ever cultivating the partnerships needed to create bioregional food economies and medicines rooted in the ethics of people care, land care and fair share.  Formally a graduate of New York University, this Colorado wise woman, wakes up every day newly nourished by the power of everyday people, doing extraordinary things. Asia’s organizing experience includes Occupy, Movement for Black Lives and Ecological Justice.

OK, fine.

Finally, on February 21, we have Ron Stallworth in the house. He is now retired, but back in 1978 he was a Colorado Springs cop who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan chapter in that city. And according to his website: "The irony of this investigation was that Stallworth is… A Black man." Gutsy move!

URLs du Jour

2018-01-14

Autokennzeichen: USA (Wyoming -
Trucks)

■ A basic lesson from Proverbs 16:6:

6 Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for;
    through the fear of the Lord evil is avoided.

That's the way it's supposed to work, anyhow.


■ George F. Will observes the culture that is Oregon: Progressives rejoice at a stunning gift: The right to pump their own gas. A point I've not seen adequately made elsewhere:

To be fair, when Oregonians flinch from a rendezvous with an unattended gas pump, progressive government has done its duty, as it understands this. It wants the governed to become used to having things done for them, as by “trained and certified” gas pumpers. Progressives are proud believers in providing experts — usually themselves — to help the rest of us cope with life. The only downside is that, as Alexis de Tocqueville anticipated, such government, by being the “shepherd” of the governed, can “take away from them entirely the trouble of thinking” and keep them “fixed irrevocably in childhood.”

It doesn't take much insight to observe that policies that treat adults like irresponsible children will encourage them to behave like irresponsible children. But Will is saying: yes, that's the intention.

Which makes sense: irresponsible children will always want (and reliably vote for) Mommy Government to protect them.


@kevinNR also has an on-target observation. Donald Trump is The Porn President.

President Trump is a master of changing the subject. Stung by Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury, Trump held an open negotiation on immigration with congressional leaders in order to showcase his executive mettle — and then went on to provide a slow day’s worth of headlines when he voiced his contempt for tropical “s**tholes” and their would-be emigrants. Scatapalooza was a fun news cycle, but it immediately was surpassed by pornapalooza.

That yellow redoubt of anti-Trump tabloid muckraking known as the Wall Street Journal reports that Donald Trump paid Stephanie Gregory Clifford, better known by her stage name, Stormy Daniels, $130,000 in hush money to keep quiet about a sexual encounter with Trump while he was married to his third and current wife, Melania. The White House denies the adultery but not the payment.

Guess: we'll see an exodus of decent people from the Trump Administration this year. They will say it's because they want to spend more time with their families. And, for once, that reason will actually be true.


■ In the Casper Tribune, Jill Ottman muses on Wyoming plates. License plates, that is.

Let us also be thankful we don’t have a motto on our license plates, although I admit I’ve always been partial to New Hampshire’s “Live Free or Die” and our neighbor’s “Famous Potatoes.” Pennsylvania, not content with years of “the Keystone State,” recently went through a disgraceful time with “You’ve got a friend in” plastered on the top of its license plates. Quaker heritage notwithstanding, most Pennsylvanians are not F/friends, and, in fact, the only people of my acquaintance there are certain of my ex-husband’s relatives, whom I fondly hope will not leave. It might be even worse for us: we could have a URL. I am deeply sorry for the hapless citizens of about six states, stuck with URLs on them. My aforementioned mother now lives in the state of “myFLORIDA.com.” That just makes me wince. I’m perfectly happy to live with license plates that identify my vehicle and indicate whether I have or have not paid my registration in a timely fashion that year. Just let me also have my bucking horse and the ability to determine at a glance whether or not I should call out another person’s bad driving.

Wyoming's license plates are (indeed) pretty; see the embedded pic du jour. And if you can't have LFOD on your plates, why bother?

Not that I have anything against Wyoming's Offical State Motto: "Equal Rights".


■ John Pudner writes in Pravda-on-the-Merrimack [aka the Concord Monitor] on that old chestnut of "campaign finance reform": Fix it, America. A paragraph:

A series of Supreme Court decisions, beginning with Buckley v Valeo and continuing through McCutcheon, created this problem. It’s time for American citizens to unite and fix it. We need to clarify that the original intent of the Founders when they wrote the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was to protect free speech – not to forbid any state from determining if they wanted to place any requirements on the practice of giving politicians and lobbyists campaign donations in exchange for your tax dollars. To say otherwise would be to completely undermine the “Live Free or Die” state by practically inviting taxation to fund political donors.

Actually, John, it's the Constitution that "created this problem".

Pudner continues the fine tradition of (a) pretending to respect the First Amendment while (b) advocating that we go ahead and outlaw certain types of political speech.

His solution is the Fix It America Constitutional Amendment. Which (read it yourself) is vague and feelgood, and imagines "Congress and State Legislatures" will legislate restrictions on campaign communications that will not be designed to protect their incumbency. And those restrictions will automatically be deemed constitutional, due to the proposed amendment's language.

Dope.


■ And finally, Michael P. Ramirez on the candidacy of you-know-who:

Still, this is a country that elected Trump...

URLs du Jour

2018-01-13

■ Anybody want to bet whether Proverbs 16:5 will have something insightful to say about modern-day events? Let's see:

5 The Lord detests all the proud of heart.
    Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.

To quote the last words of a book I've never read: "Isn't it pretty to think so?"

But I'm sure the Lord does not detest the proud-of-heart girl in today's Getty pic.


@JonahNRO's G-File is on Trump's "shithole" comments: Authentic Asininity. He disdains (of course) the arguments of both the Resistance and the Trumpkins. Here's the real issue:

The long-term threat to conservatism and, by extension, the GOP is profound. Young people — the largest voting bloc now — are utterly turned off to the Republican party. That doesn’t make them right, but that’s irrelevant. Their opinions are hardening every single day, even as old white people shuttle off this mortal coil.

I don't care much what happens to the Republican Party any more, except that in that it's supposed to be the go-to party where principled devotion to the Constitution, individual liberty, and free markets matter. Instead, it's now identified with Trumpism and casual bigotry.


■ At Reason, Christian Britschgi finds another know-nothing GOP state rep: Arizona Legislator Wants to Yank State Support From Groups That Don't Like 'Free Markets'.

This week, Arizona Rep. Bob Thorpe (R – Flagstaff) introduced a bill that would designate "American free-market capitalism" the state's official "political-economic system", and declares the legislature's intent "that taxpayer dollars not be used to promote or to provide material support for any political-economic system that opposes the principles of free-market capitalism."

Among other criticisms, Britschgi makes the pointed query: "What free market group worth its salt would be accepting government support in the first place?"

But the more substantial criticism is: Why is Rep Thorpe doing this when he could be introducing legislation that would actually support principles of free-market capitalism?


■ Matt Labash, writing in the Weekly Standard reviews The Book That Ate Washington. The whole thing is good, but I thought this was very good:

Personally, I’ve enjoyed reading Wolff over the years. You can call him many things […], but never dull. I do not know Wolff nor can I vouch for his credibility. Though I should add that a mutual acquaintance of ours, after spotting an anecdote he’d casually tossed off to Wolff turn up in Fire and Fury, reported this to me of Wolff’s seemingly slack methodology: “[He got it] from me, which I got from a woman on the beach in Florida, who heard it in a carpool line. Literally. I had no idea he was including it. That guy is a serious bullshit artist. Wow.”

I.e., an historian uniquely qualified to report on the Trump Administration.


■ Megan McArdle comments on the ideological skirmishes out west: Silicon Valley Will Pay the Price for Its Lefty Leanings. Can you spell b-o-y-c-o-t-t?

To be sure, boycotts are rarely all that effective. But most boycotts involve minor matters of policy. This is about tribal identity. Google fired a conservative for writing a rather anodyne memo. If it turns out that the company was at the same time tolerating truly vicious conservative bashing in its internal systems—well, no one wants to give their hard-earned money to people or companies that are violently bigoted against them.

Perhaps even more importantly, conservatives vote. They elect legislators and public officials whose actions can deeply affect Google’s business. In general, Google has gotten much friendlier treatment from American regulators than from the EU or China. But American government is currently heavily dominated by Republicans who are unlikely to want to be nice to a powerful corporation whose internal communications suggest that it views advancing a progressive agenda, and bashing conservatives, as part of its corporate mission.

And of course, there's this other bit of evidence that Google does see conservative-bashing as part of its corporate mission…


■ The Daily Caller is rightfully steamed about Google's new "Reviewed Claims" feature, deployed sloppily and asymmetrically against conservative sites. They report: Washington Post: We Didn’t Attack The Daily Caller, and Don’t Know Why Google Is.

Google’s relatively new “fact check” feature proves there’s something fundamentally wrong with at least some of its highly influential algorithms, after an investigation by The Daily Caller News Foundation found that the widget is both blatantly biased and tremendously faulty.

For example, "reviewed claims" that the reviewed source never made. And, to support that judgment, quoting "fact-checkers" that never mention the reviewed source.

I can't wait to ride in a car that's driven by Google-designed "algorithms". Just let me put on my crash helmet first, and arm the ejection seat.


■ Something called the "Science Channel" has a show called "How the Universe Works", narrated by Mike Rowe. One Rebecca Bright, noting some non-Progressive things Mike Rowe has uttered in other venues, demanded: "Cancel this fools [sic] contract and get any of your scientists so often on the show to narrate it."

And Mike Rowe responded to Ms. Bright. And it is a thing of beauty. Just one paragraph:

Anyway, Rebecca, my beef with your post comes down to this - if you go to my boss and ask her to fire me because you can’t stand the sound of my voice, I get it. Narrators with unpleasant voices should probably look for other work anyway, and if enough people share your view, no hard feelings - I’ll make room for Morgan. But if you’re trying to get me fired simply because you don’t like my worldview, well then, I’m going to fight back. Partly because I like my job, and partly because you’re wrong about your assumptions, but mostly because your tactics typify a toxic blend of laziness and group-think that are all too common today – a hot mess of hashtags and intolerance that deepen the chasm currently dividing our country.

Let me make explicit what I usually only imply in these posts: Read The Whole Thing.


■ I've been linking to the Babylon Bee a lot. Because they're funny. And, in good fun: Republican Party Publishes New, Improved Edition Of Jesus’s Beatitudes. Which beginneth:

Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down, placing his AR-15 rifle on a rock nearby. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.

He said:

Blessed are the corporations, for they shall receive corporate welfare at the expense of the taxpayers.

Blessed are those who are triggered over the slightest criticism of President Trump, for they shall be comforted by Fox News.

And more. I'm pretty sure even Paul Ryan would laugh.