Archive for the 'Left of Left' Category

Smokin’ dope

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

Wow. Watch the first few minutes of this interview of the Secretary of State. It features this:

It’s really 19th century behavior in the twenty-first century…You just don’t invade another country on phony pretexts in order to assert your interests

Why not? And what’s with this 19th century business? Have human nature, national interests, and the will to power all disappeared recently? WRM comments on the strange views of the academy, media and policy elites.

The thirties and so forth

Sunday, March 2nd, 2014

We see that the Russian troops in the Ukraine and related developments have caused the words Anschluss and Sudetenland to reappear all of a sudden. And on our team we have the Stanley Baldwin of this era. Russia, Iran, Syria and everyone else on the planet have old Stanley figured out. (Well, maybe not the WaPo editorial board.) It’s likely to get much worse in the next couple of years, as all of America’s adversaries know they can now act without any fear of reprisal.

How’s this for a US response: “Russia’s continued violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity would negatively impact Russia’s standing in the international community.” Can’t get much more pathetic than that.

Oh yes you can: check out the photo at the bottom of this piece. Question: why go out of your way to make yourself look like a fool?

Common sense and logic, MIA

Saturday, March 1st, 2014

A study via MJ:

Global warming isn’t just going to melt the Arctic and flood our cities—it’s also going to make Americans more likely to kill each other…hotter weather leads to more murders, more rapes, more robberies, more assaults, and more property crimes…Just how much more crime can we expect? Using the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s warming projections, Ranson calculated that from 2010 to 2099, climate change will “cause” an additional “22,000 murders, 180,000 cases of rape, 1.2 million aggravated assaults, 2.3 million simple assaults, 260,000 robberies, 1.3 million burglaries, 2.2 million cases of larceny, and 580,000 cases of vehicle theft” in the United States.

This is not the only venue where common sense and logic have gone MIA.

Cognitive dissonance?

Friday, February 28th, 2014

It has been said that humans are not a rational animal, but a rationalizing one. So when we see a comment like this — “there’s plenty of horror stories being told. All are untrue” — we wonder why the stridency? Of course, these are politicians, not the brain trust, but we also see such stridency in certain parts of the academy. Why the rigidity and over-reaction on the part of some? Just a case of nasty personalities? Or maybe that, as true believers in the religious doctrines, they are more than a little discombobulated when reality veers from their desired, indeed predicted, outcomes. Time will tell.

It is better to light one kindle than to curse the darkness

Thursday, February 27th, 2014

So said the Christophers many years ago, or something like that. Now Krauthammer is getting his own version of the Steyn treatment. We think there should be a rumble to settle all scores. Lets the 9800 oxygen and nitrogen guys join with the 900 argon guys and beat the tar out of those 4 carbon oxygen creeps. That’ll show ‘em. (The shouting to ban heresy from the public discourse shows you can start a religion out of just about anything.)

Glory Days

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

The army is going down to pre-WWII levels and the navy to pre-WWI levels. The FCC was about to monitor both TV and newspapers (page 7) to ensure their political correctness (here’s the group that designed the study). The utopians (see VDH) from the faculty lounge and the media are firmly in charge of the narrative and the current cultural rot. This can’t end well, but as Wretchard said the other day, end it will.

Drip, Drip, Drip, Drop

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

NYT:

The administration’s proposal would remove the protected status from three classes of drugs that has been in place since the program’s inception in 2006: immunosuppressant drugs used in transplant patients, antidepressants and antipsychotic medicines. They include many well-known drugs, such as Wellbutrin, Paxil and Prozac to treat depression, and Abilify and Seroquel to treat schizophrenia.

Here’s what’s behind these antics. And here’s an ideologically diverse list of 200 organizations, charities, companies and others opposed to this squirrelly program. Normally compliant media sources are even noticing. Hmmmmm.

Mother Goose, etc.

Monday, February 24th, 2014

Fairy tale economics. Fairy tale legislation with an unhappy ending. On the other hand, there’s a potential happy ending far away, but it’s way too early to tell. And a wish or maybe just a dream from Roger Simon. That’s it for the day as the culture slips away quickly.

Reality versus fantasy again

Sunday, February 23rd, 2014

Wretchard:

Ladies and Gentleman, I bring you Professor Arithmetic and Engineer Murphy. Screw up and stuff happens. America has been screwing up and therefore Q.E.D. Of course none of these turnabouts should surprise us. The Soviet Union (remember them?) were going to take over the world all the way up to the moment it collapsed. How could they have collapsed when they had the KGB, the Red Army and half the papers in their pocket? Well they were overmatched. Dr. Evil, however powerful he imagines himself to be, always loses to God, Reality, Professor Arithmetic, Engineer Murphy — whatever you want to call them, because that’s the way things work. But before anyone breaks out the champagne, remember this doesn’t mean that “we” will always win. We are not always on the side of reality. The disaster visited on Chavez might just as soon overtake anyone who thinks he can print and inflate his way out of economic destruction. We will share their fate should we imitate their corruption, because reality doesn’t understand “too big to fail”. The world is partial to competence; as mathematics is partial to correctness; as natural selection favors the survival of the fittest. People knew that once.

At some time in the fairly recent past, truth stopped being a virtue. It was replaced by daft utopianism. The US can go further away from reality than most countries, courtesy of the reserve status of the dollar. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be a day of reckoning.

“Hello. Fantasy, is that you? Reality is calling.”

Saturday, February 22nd, 2014

Recent quote: “climate change can now be considered the world’s largest weapon of mass destruction, perhaps even, the world’s most fearsome weapon of mass destruction.” Meanwhile, there are Iran and Syria. Oh yes, there’s Venezuela too. Did we mention Ukraine? Wazzup with these things? Isn’t the planet supposed to be healing by now? (Final point: there are “indispensable men” and indispensable men.)

Betrayal oozes out of him at every pore

Friday, February 21st, 2014

We agree that if the chart above is accurate (a very big IF indeed), some anomalous warming has been taking place on earth recently. Certainly the hockey stick is alarming. But perhaps what should have been more alarming is the disappearance of the Medieval Warm Period from roughly 900-1300, when temperatures were several degrees warmer than they are today. For example, it was warm enough and the seas were sufficiently ice-free in about 1000 AD that Leif Eriksson was able to sail to Newfoundland, which later became impossible again.

We certainly hope that the Michael Mann versus Mark Steyn lawsuit goes to trial. We’d very much like an explanation for the mysterious disappearance of the MWP. We’d also like to hear all about hiding the decline as well.

Update: Steyn has lots more of course.

Two papers in one

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

NYT:

The Right Minimum Wage: $0.00…An increase in the minimum wage…would restore the purchasing power of bottom-tier wages. It would also permit a minimum-wage breadwinner to earn almost enough to keep a family of three above the official poverty line. There are catches, however. It would increase employers’ incentives to evade the law, expanding the underground economy. More important, it would increase unemployment: Raise the legal minimum price of labor above the productivity of the least skilled workers and fewer will be hired. If a higher minimum means fewer jobs, why does it remain on the agenda of some liberals?

NYT:

The minimum wage is specifically intended to take aim at the inherent imbalance in power between employers and low-wage workers that can push wages down to poverty levels. An appropriate wage floor set by Congress effectively substitutes for the bargaining power that low-wage workers lack. When low-end wages rise, poverty and inequality are reduced. But that doesn’t mean the minimum wage is a government program to provide welfare, as critics sometimes imply in an attempt to link it to unpopular policies. An hourly minimum of $10.10, for example, as Democrats have proposed, would reduce the number of people living in poverty by 4.6 million, according to widely accepted research, without requiring the government to tax, borrow or spend. IS THERE AN ALTERNATIVE? No.

We observe that over the last 30 years, the government-university-media complex has become virtually disconnected from many of the facts that harsh human history teaches. Our guess is that there’s all manners of reckoning coming pretty soon. HT: PL

Two for two

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

Reuters:

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the man who has the final say on all matters of state in the Islamic Republic, declared again on Monday that talks between Tehran and six world powers “will not lead anywhere. Hours later a senior U.S. administration official also played down expectations, telling reporters in the Austrian capital that it will be a “complicated, difficult and lengthy process” and “probably as likely that we won’t get an agreement as it is that we will.

Meanwhile, in Syria “all of the most dangerous chemicals should have been shipped out of the country by December 31 last year. In fact, barely 11 per cent” have been. No surprise. HT: PL

Living in fantasy

Monday, February 17th, 2014

AP reports on the Secretary of State in Indonesia:

China and the United States are the biggest sources of emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases that cause the atmosphere to trap solar heat and alter the climate. Scientists say such changes are leading to drought, wildfires, rising sea levels, melting polar ice, plant and animal extinctions and other extreme conditions.

We should not allow a tiny minority of shoddy scientists and science and extreme ideologues to compete with scientific facts,” Kerry told the audience at a U.S. Embassy-run American Center in a shopping mall. “Nor should we allow any room for those who think that the costs associated with doing the right thing outweigh the benefits.

The science is unequivocal, and those who refuse to believe it are simply burying their heads in the sand,” Kerry said. “We don’t have time for a meeting anywhere of the Flat Earth Society…This city, this country, this region, is really on the front lines of climate change,” Kerry said. “It’s not an exaggeration to say that your entire way of life here is at risk.”

He added: “In a sense, climate change can now be considered the world’s largest weapon of mass destruction, perhaps even, the world’s most fearsome weapon of mass destruction.”

No doubt about it, the guy likes the sound of his own voice. Note also that the AP reporter repeats the CW of the self-anointed cognoscenti of today. Sigh. They may actually all believe the same rubbish, or (we hope) it’s a cynical plan to make some money.

Breaking news from a century ago

Sunday, February 16th, 2014

From 1919:

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Good news! Almost 3/4ths of Americans know that the earth revolves around the sun. Cowabunga dude. In related news, top government officials are warning that we are reaching a tipping point of no return on AGW. Gosh that’s scary. Steyn has some comments. Meanwhile, Thomas Sowell has an excellent but depressing piece as we slouch toward Gomorrah. Finally, a US president said: “I so much despise a man who blows his own horn, that I go to the other extreme.” Any guesses?

Well worth reading

Saturday, February 15th, 2014

Todd Zywicki:

Hayek’s concern was that comprehensive economic planning of the economy by the state was incompatible with individual liberty and the rule of law over the long run…Hayek’s argument in The Road to Serfdom is straightforward. There is a reality of existence that can be called the “economic problem” (my term, not his). And anyone who has taken Economics 101 knows what it is–the reality of scarce resources in the world and unlimited wants. “Scarce” in the economic sense–that everything has an opportunity cost attached to it. Right now I can either be writing this blog post or shoveling my walkway, but I can’t be doing both. Unlimited wants in the sense that people generally prefer more to less of most goods.

So why does that matter? Hayek’s point is that given this reality–scarce resources and unlimited wants–there are fundamentally only two ways to allocate scarce resources among unlimited wants. The first is through impersonal processes such as the market process, or more accurately, the market process consists of billions of individuals making billions of decisions every single day on how to spend their time and other resources. In the market process, the guiding principle is the price system–prices are fundamentally amoral in the sense that they simply provide information about what these billions of people believe is the most important allocation of scarce resources. It may be that this means it is children’s vaccines or it may mean Honey Boo Boo marathons.

In this sense, the price system is completely bottom-up–it is the aggregation of all these marginal and constantly-changing expressions of preferences of people deciding how to allocate their resources and a signal of how resources are valued by other people. Which individual ends are satisfied and at what cost is thus fundamentally driven by billions of individual decisions. You may wish for a career as a Knight of the Roundtable, but in the modern economy it will be prohibitively expensive to pursue that career. In this world, then, Hayek says the role of the government is provide the rules of the road, i.e., should be organized around the rule of law, which is a set of purpose-independent rules that tell people how to go about pursuing their own freely-chosen ends, but doesn’t tell them what ends they must choose. To put it another way, the rule of law provides traffic rules, but doesn’t tell you which exit you have to get off when you are on the highway.

So why is central planning not only unwise, but dangerous to liberty?…Hayek’s great insight was that moving economic decision-making from individual decision-making through the market to collective decision-making through the state does not eliminate the economic problem. The reality of economics is still present: scarce resources and unlimited wants. The only question is “Who decides?” Do you decide for yourself (through markets) or does someone else decide for you (through politics)?

Hayek observes that the socialists of the time essentially thought that they could have it both ways: that they could simply control the means of production (such as by nationalization of large industry or central planning of prices and wages) but that they could leave unaffected the ends of production. In other words, socialists thought that we could simply respect consumer preferences–i.e., we could continue to respect the preference for Honey Boo Boo instead of children’s vaccines–and then just come up with more efficient ways of meeting those needs by planning the economy, without messy business cycles and the discoordinations of the market process.

What Hayek pointed out though is that this is impossible–you cannot control the means of production without also controlling the ends. In the end, someone has to decide between Honey Boo Boo and children’s vaccines, or more realistically, manufacturing Priuses or Ram trucks. You can’t just say we will manufacture “cars” (well I guess you could, but most people didn’t like that system). So this means that in the end the central planner has to decide who will have their ends met and who will have their ends disappointed. Once you throw out the price system (which basically says that individuals decide according to impersonal market processes) then you have to decide who gets what

At this point Hayek says there are only two choices. The first is to essentially try to reeducate everyone in society to be truly selfless and to weigh the preferences of others as heavily as themselves–i.e., for me to say even though I really want a new Prius I recognize that you have a greater need for a new Ram truck and so I voluntarily allow the importance of my ends to yield to your preferences. In short, we create a uniform system of value for all of society where we all agree to an overall ranking of the importance of all the ways in which social ends could be met. (This leaves aside, of course, the economic calculation problem which is an entirely different, and unsolvable problem, and focuses only on the ethical/social point). This world essentially is more or less the dream of Mao’s cultural revolution or 1984–to basically subordinate every individual to the collective and have us all live in one great comradeship.

This is the central problem with the ACA and other hare-brained schemes (it’s also a significant problem with insurance itself). Notice that such government schemes always end up relying on coercion and much worse. We’ll see how it plays out in the USA.

Sunday funnies, early edition

Friday, February 14th, 2014

Separation of powers, a laugh riot. The naughty right-wing media says things no one should be allowed to say. So do Steyn and VDH. And more from those right-wingers: “The dead birds included a peregrine falcon, a grebe, two hawks, four nighthawks and a variety of warblers and sparrows.” But enjoy yourselves comrades; all will be well as long as we have a free press. Ha ha, what fun.

But the fire is so delightful

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

USA Today:

Snow is on the ground in 49 out of the 50 states; only the Sunshine State of Florida is completely snow-free, according to a map produced Thursday morning by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

CA, NM and AZ on the other hand, are unseasonably dry and warm. Must be the darned CO2. Is there anything it can’t do? Time to spend big!

Then and now

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

The now: Peter Beinart has a rather dreary piece cataloguing decline. The education system has done a fine job for the last generation or two, hasn’t it? But it’s not all dreary; apparently Romney is going to be impeached. He appointed those awful bundlers to be diplomats to countries they know nothing about. Even the then is corrupted by the now. A local radio station says it plays 60′s-80′s biggest hits, but 10% of the playlist are covers or simply unknown to us, and the song selection seems quite peculiar compared to the Billboard Top 100 lists. What’s up with that? We did see one the other day (#81) by someone we never heard of. Well, that’s been corrected.

Nice work if you can get it?

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

WaPo:

with the health-care law soon to take effect, she simply resigned — and hasn’t looked back. “It was wonderful. It was very freeing,” said Lower, 56, of Bourbon, Ind., who is now babysitting her 5-year-old granddaughter full time. With the help of federal subsidies that kicked in Jan. 1, she is paying less than $500 a month for health coverage for herself and her husband…The equivalent of about 2.5 million Americans will quit their jobs, cut their hours or stop looking for work during the next decade because of new benefits available under the health-care law…Like Social Security, which provides a safety net so people can retire, the health law may have the effect of leading some Americans to stop working…they called the impact positive, arguing that people have for too long been stuck in jobs that are a poor fit or that they dislike, simply for the benefits. While some people may make the calculation to just work less to keep more generous benefits, many will use their time to do something more productive, such as start their own business or take care of family members

As the man said, a bit Orwellian. And that other fellow, the one who talked about Two Americas, it turned out he was right. Final word: shush!