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  • Are We Going to Be Lucky Enough ?

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on October 1st, 2016 (All posts by )

    Another good insight from Richard Fernandez.

    Otto von Bismarck said, There is a Providence that protects idiots, drunkards, children and the United States of America.

    Is it true? I think we may find out, especially if Hillary Clinton, in spite of all her crimes and corruption, is elected President.

    Shimon Peres said, I said, “America will win no matter what you do.”

    “Why?” he asked.

    “Because they are lucky, and you are not.”

    Is that true ? I wonder.

    The last eight years have been one unending liberal search for the Great Man of history, the belief that “history can be largely explained by the impact of ‘great men’, or heroes … who, due to either their personal charisma, intelligence, wisdom, or political skill utilized their power in a way that had a decisive historical impact.”

    Liberals thought they had it in Obama 2008. They think they have it in the historic First Woman, Hillary in 2016. They may even think they have it in Kerry. Steve Clemons of the Atlantic asked America’s top diplomat in the context of his diplomatic record: what exactly is the “John Kerry secret sauce?” And Kerry patiently explained that it was coming to an agreement with rival negotiators. “You have to figure out whether you can find in the adversaries a meeting of the minds on any of the interests and/or values.”

    This, I assume, is why they think negotiation can solve all differences.

    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Elections, Politics, Trump | No Comments »

    Resistance in Flyoverlandia

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on September 30th, 2016 (All posts by )

    I followed a link from one of my usual daily reads to Angelo Codevilla’s of-linked most recent essay, After the Republic and read it with the usual sense of renewed depression which usually attends me on reading a disquisition on our current political/social conditions. (Wretchard at Belmont Club and Victor Davis Hansen also produce pretty much the same results – what oft was thought, but ne’er so well expressed.)
    Especially this paragraph:

    Who, a generation ago, could have guessed that careers and social standing could be ruined by stating the fact that the paramount influence on the earth’s climate is the sun, that its output of energy varies and with it the climate? Who, a decade ago, could have predicted that stating that marriage is the union of a man and a woman would be treated as a culpable sociopathy, or just yesterday that refusing to let certifiably biological men into women’s bathrooms would disqualify you from mainstream society? Or that saying that the lives of white people “matter” as much as those of blacks is evidence of racism? These strictures came about quite simply because some sectors of the ruling class felt like inflicting them on the rest of America. Insulting presumed inferiors proved to be even more important to the ruling class than the inflictions’ substance.

    Repeating the last sentence for emphasis: “Insulting presumed inferiors proved to be even more important to the ruling class than the inflictions’ substance.” Especially since the tidal-spew of insult from that we think of as the bi-coastal ruling class, the gatekeepers, the fortunate 1%, the intellectual class and the media darlings towards ordinary, working-class and middle-class residents of what I have begun thinking of as Flyoverlandia has achieved tsunami-depth in the last few years … indeed, the last few months. Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Americas, Civil Society, Conservatism, Current Events | 20 Comments »

    “Scientists Say”

    Posted by David Foster on September 28th, 2016 (All posts by )

    Almost every day, I see a headline that starts with the words “scientists say”…everything from “Scientists say pizza is better than money for motivating employees” to “scientists say men who are good listeners are better at sex.”  Sometimes the headlines go even further and assert that “science says.”

    If you try to track down the actual headlines behinds these assertions, you will often find a study done on 40 or so undergraduates, sometimes using questionable methodologies, on which the journalists base their imprimatur of ‘science says.’  And very often, you can’t ever read the study unless you’re willing to pay $30 or more for the privilege, because it’s in an access-controlled journal.  This doesn’t stop the university PR departments from issuing breathless press releases about the study conclusions, though.

    It’s sort of sad–scientific publishing was once a way of disseminating information; now it functions largely as a means for limiting access to information.  I have a hard time understanding why publicly-funded research shouldn’t be required to be publicly available on the Internet at no or minimal cost.

    I think the ‘scientists say’ and ‘science says’ memes would not work in a society where most of the population had some degree of scientific education.  Science is not shamanism, and scientists are not oracles.

     

    Posted in Academia, Media, Science, USA | 23 Comments »

    Remembering Neptunus Lex

    Posted by David Foster on September 26th, 2016 (All posts by )

    Bill Brandt has assembled and posted some comments by readers about what Lex meant to them.  Very much worth reading.

     

    Posted in Aviation, Blogging, Internet, Military Affairs, Personal Narrative, War and Peace | 8 Comments »

    A Really Big Short Still Awaits

    Posted by Kevin Villani on September 24th, 2016 (All posts by )

    When testifying in 2010 before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission into the financial crash, then Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke recommended only one reference, Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World (2009), presumably for the narrative that insufficient money printing in the aftermath of the Great War lead to the next one. Right idea, wrong narrative!

    The US homeownership rate peaked at a rate well above the current level almost a half century ago mostly funded by a system of private mutual savings banks and savings and loans. The historical justification for federal “secondary market” agencies was political expediency – exemption from now obsolete federal, state and local laws and regulations inhibiting a national banking and mortgage market. Now government-run enterprises account for about 90% of all mortgages, with the Fed their primary funding mechanism, what the Economist recently labeled a de facto nationalization.

    The Historical Evolution

    How did the private US housing finance system repeatedly go bankrupt? To quote Hemingway: Gradually, then suddenly. The two competing political narratives of the cause of financial market crises remain at the extremes – either a private market or public political failure – with diametrically opposite policy prescriptions. The politician-exonerating market failure narrative has not surprisingly dominated policy, with past compromises contributing to the systemic financial system failure, the global recession of 2008 and subsequent nationalization.

    The Great Depression stressed the S&L system, but the industry’s vigorous opposition to both federal deposit insurance and the Fannie Mae secondary market proved prescient as the federally chartered savings and loan industry eventually succumbed by 1980 to the federal deposit insurer’s perverse politically imposed mandate of funding fixed rate mortgages with short term deposits and competition from the government sponsored enterprises.

    The S&Ls were largely replaced by the commercial banks. To make banks competitive with Fannie and Freddie, politicians and regulators allowed virtually the same extreme leverage, in return for a comparable low-income lending mandate – CRA requirements leading to a market dominating $4 trillion in commitments to community groups to whom the Clinton Administration had granted virtual veto power over new branch and merger authority.

    The Financial Crisis of 2008 and the aftermath

    The Big Short by Michael Lewis and more recent movie portrayed not just banker greed but the extreme frustration of those shorting the US mortgage market stymied by a housing price bubble many times greater than any in recorded US history that refused to burst. The reasons: 1. the Fed kept rates low and money plentiful, and 2. whereas banks would have run out of funding capacity, the ability of Fannie and Freddie to continuously borrow at the Treasury’s cost of funds regardless of risk and their HUD Mission Regulator requirement to maintain a 50% market share kept the bubble inflating to systemic proportions.

    The Obama Administration fully embraced the alternative private market failure narrative in Fed policy, regulation and legislation:

    • To partially ameliorate the effects on the real economy of disruption to the global payments mechanism the Fed had to bail out the banking system. QE1/2/3/4 and ZIRP (zero rates), now NIRP, did this by re-inflating the house price bubble, postponing defaults while allowing banks risk-free profits. The Fed – and taxpayers – would lose more than the entire S&L industry did should rates rise by a comparable amount if it marked its balance sheet to market.
    • Regulators had to appear to punish the banks. In response to paying hundreds of billions of dollars in what the Economist labeled “extortion” – some of which ironically went to populist political action groups – and the subsequent oppressive regulatory regime, U.S. commercial banks are exiting the US mortgage market in spite of ongoing profits enabled by extreme leverage.
    • One legislative centerpiece, the Dodd Frank Act passed in July 2010 in direct response to the financial crisis, doubled down on political control of financial markets without addressing the future of Fannie and Freddie. The other, Obamacare, enacted four months earlier, was similarly premised on regulating private health insurers to make health insurance simultaneously cheaper and more widely available.

    The Long Term Consequences

    Bernanke’s focus on choosing the narrative was useful, but the political choice of the market failure narrative appears to reflect convenience rather than conviction. The direct taxpayer costs of implicit or explicit public insurance and guarantees come with both a whimper – tax savings amounting to tens of billions annually due to the deductibility of interest costs – and a bang – future taxpayer bailouts generally delivered off-budget.

    Fannie and Freddie conservatorship deftly avoided debt consolidation while dividends reduced reported federal deficits. The student loan market has also been de facto nationalized, with potential unbudgeted losses totaling hundreds of billions. Obamacare was similarly premised on regulating private health insurers to make health insurance simultaneously cheaper and more widely available, but under-budgeted health insurance subsidies predictable caused massive losses and health insurers are now withdrawing from the market.

    Monetary policies caused household savings to stagnate as returns to retirement savings evaporated. Defined obligation public pension funds were all rendered technically insolvent when funding is valued at current market returns rather than the assumed rate as much as ten times that. The failure of the economy to grow per capita was explained as the “new normal”. But politicians made no attempt to reflect the implied technically insolvency of public pensions or Social Security and Medicare.

    Private firms fail, but private markets rarely do. Public protection and regulation makes firms “too big to fail” until markets fail systemically. The current and projected future public debt bubble is unsustainable, and financial markets will eventually ignore the accounting deceptions and pop it. The relative weakness of other sovereign debt is delaying the inevitably, making The Really Big Short a good title for a Michael Lewis’s sequel. Politicians and central bankers will again say “nobody saw this coming”. What then?

    ====
    Kevin Villani, chief economist at Freddie Mac from 1982 to 1985, is a principal of University Financial Associates. He has held senior government positions, been affiliated with nine universities, and served as CFO and director of several companies. He recently published Occupy Pennsylvania Avenue on the political origins of the sub-prime lending bubble and aftermath. This article was originally published at FFE.org

     

    Posted in Big Government, Economics & Finance, Markets and Trading, Predictions, Public Finance, Real Estate, Systems Analysis | 20 Comments »

    Friday Diversion: The Launch of Luna City 3.1

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on September 23rd, 2016 (All posts by )

    Yes – just this week, we have launched the third of the Luna City Chronicles – there will be at least two more, and possibly beyond, as it is a fun series to write and readers seem to enjoy them immensely.
    Behold the cover –

    9780989782272-Perfect.indd

    Luna City 3.1 is available on Amazon for Kindle and in print (although the cover image doesn’t show, yet) and on Barnes & Noble.

    As a bonus – a short snippet of a chapter –
    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Americas, Arts & Letters, Book Notes | 5 Comments »

    Calumny

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on September 21st, 2016 (All posts by )

    So a writer who hangs out in a blog that I follow had a very cogent point in a recent post – about calumny – and the moral crime of falsely accusing an innocent person of a crime, ranging from the mild social offense to the deeply hideous crime against God and humanity at large. He felt, if I read the post aright, that calumny is one of those deeply awful things – as it damages an innocent person ….
    Calumny has kind of fallen out of fashion as a dastardly deed, and you may well understand why by the time I’ve finished. To my mind it can be a worse deed than any of the above sins … I think it worse than the crime or sin. Calumny is false witness – where the person committing calumny knowingly and maliciously lies in testifying that an innocent person did something that they did not do. … And when you think about this, you can see why this is somewhat worse than the evil deed itself. Firstly, the person who will be punished is innocent. Secondly, the victim has to live with that. Their reputation, even if innocence is eventually established, is tarnished forever …

    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Civil Society, Conservatism, Current Events, Miscellaneous | 21 Comments »

    Seth Barrett Tillman: “Weighing” Good & Evil, and What We “Forgive” in History

    Posted by Jonathan on September 21st, 2016 (All posts by )

    Seth follows up his post on Ireland and World War II.

    Seth’s central point:

    I do not suggest that Sakharov, Longstreet, or Rommel were evil men, but they did serve bad causes. I do not say that the good they did (or attempted to do) during their lives is made void by the bad. But I do say it is wrong to suggest that the bad is outweighed by the good. Cf. Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790) (“I do not say [God forbid], I do not say that the virtues of such men were to be taken as a balance to their crimes; but they were some corrective to their effects.” (language in square brackets is Burke’s)). Such a moral quantification of right and wrong is not possible by mere mortals, and those who attempt such a calculus only callous our consciences.

    The notion of weighing, as Seth cites it, is a metaphor that deserves more scrutiny than it gets from many of the people who casually use it. It begs the question of who has standing to do the weighing. I don’t think it’s human beings, certainly not the humans alive today who didn’t themselves pay much of the price of, in this case, Ireland’s WW2 neutrality. The people who paid aren’t around to speak for themselves. It’s hubris for us to make moral calculations, to weigh, to forgive, in their names. Better to say, so-and-so did these good things and these bad things, and leave it at that.

    (See the previous Chicago Boyz post here.)

     

    Posted in Anglosphere, Deep Thoughts, History, Ireland, Morality and Philosphy, National Security, War and Peace | 13 Comments »

    Out and About

    Posted by Jonathan on September 20th, 2016 (All posts by )

    Food truck night at a local dog track / casino.
     
    20160917-imgp0037-2
     
    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Photos | 3 Comments »

    Life in the Fully Politicized Society (rerun)

    Posted by David Foster on September 20th, 2016 (All posts by )

    (The politicization of American society has increased markedly since I wrote this post in May of 2014.  Sports, for example, is now politicized–see what happens when a culture loses its last neutral ground?–along with everything from shopping to education. The sway of ‘progressive’ orthodoxy continues to extend its sway over all aspect of American life.)

    Many will remember Michelle Obama’s 2008 speech, in which she said:

    Barack Obama will require you to work. He is going to demand that you shed your cynicism. That you put down your divisions. That you come out of your isolation, that you move out of your comfort zones. That you push yourselves to be better. And that you engage. Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual, uninvolved, uninformed….You have to stay at the seat at the table of democracy with a man like Barack Obama not just on Tuesday but in a year from now, in four years from now, in eight years from now, you will have to be engaged.

    Victor Davis Hanson notes that she also said:

    We are going to have to change our conversation; we’re going to have to change our traditions, our history; we’re going to have to move into a different place as a nation.

    …which is, of course, entirely consistent with the assertion made by Barack Obama himself, shortly before his first inauguration:  “We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.”

    It should be clear by now that all aspects of American life and society are rapidly becoming politicized. Obama has greatly accelerated this movement, but he didn’t initiate it.  The “progressive” political movement, which now controls the Democratic Party, has for a long time been driving the politicization of anything and everything.  The assertion “the personal is political” originated in the late 1960s…and, if the personal is political, then everything is political.

    Some people, of course, like the politicization of everything–for some individuals, indeed, their lives would be meaningless without it. In his important memoir of growing up in Germany between the wars, Sebastian Haffnernoted divergent reactions from people when the political and economic situation stabilized (temporarily, as we now know) during the Stresemann chancellorship:

    The last ten years were forgotten like a bad dream. The Day of Judgment was remote again, and there was no demand for saviors or revolutionaries…There was an ample measure of freedom, peace, and order, everywhere the most well-meaning liberal-mindedness, good wages, good food and a little political boredom. everyone was cordially invited to concentrate on their personal lives, to arrange their affairs according to their own taste and to find their own paths to happiness.

    But this return to private life was not to everyone’s taste:

    A generation of young Germans had become accustomed to having the entire content of their lives delivered gratis, so to speak, by the public sphere, all the raw material for their deeper emotions…Now that these deliveries suddently ceased, people were left helpless, impoverished, robbed, and disappointed. They had never learned how to live from within themselves, how to make an ordinary private life great, beautiful and worth while, how to enjoy it and make it interesting. So they regarded the end of political tension and the return of private liberty not as a gift, but as a deprivation. They were bored, their minds strayed to silly thoughts, and they began to sulk.

    and

    To be precise (the occasion demands precision, because in my opinion it provides the key to the contemporary period of history): it was not the entire generation of young Germans. Not every single individual reacted in this fashion. There were some who learned during this period, belatedly and a little clumsily, as it were, how to live. they began to enjoy their own lives, weaned themselves from the cheap intoxication of the sports of war and revolution, and started to develop their own personalities. It was at this time that, invisibly and unnoticed, the Germans divided into those who later became Nazis and those who would remain non-Nazis.

    I’m afraid we have quite a few people in America today who like having “the entire content of their lives delivered gratis, so to speak, by the public sphere, all the raw material for their deeper emotions.”  But for most people, especially for creative and emotionally-healthy people, the politicization of everything leads to a dreary and airless existence.

    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Academia, Book Notes, Germany, Human Behavior, Leftism, Politics, Russia, USA | 21 Comments »

    Seth Barrett Tillman: Ireland and World War II

    Posted by Jonathan on September 20th, 2016 (All posts by )

    I am an American. I currently live and work in Ireland. But, I carry no special brief for Ireland and its people. When you wrote: “Ireland, like Sweden, has gotten a pass for behavior during World War II that doesn’t deserve a pass.” That’s true. But it is not the whole story either.

    Read the rest.

     

    Posted in Anglosphere, History, Ireland, War and Peace | 17 Comments »

    Is it ok to have a purposeless military?

    Posted by TM Lutas on September 19th, 2016 (All posts by )

    I believe this is a common sense proposition. You should never define a military force without it having a purpose.

    You would think that there would be nobody on the other side of this question. Who would do such a crazy thing as to define a military force, but just have them milling around without a purpose or a mission? It’s ridiculous. Or is it?

    10USC311

    (a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.
    (b) The classes of the militia are—
    (1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and
    (2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.

    What is the purpose of the military force called the unorganized militia? What is their mission? What is its proper scope of activity? I think that even people who generally support the 2nd amendment do not have a consensus and certainly have not thought much about it.

    As an aside, it’s straight up sexism for female citizens to be included in only one of these two forces. A smart Republican would introduce legislation to fix that.

     

    Posted in Law, Military Affairs, USA | 15 Comments »

    On Investing

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on September 18th, 2016 (All posts by )

    Investing has changed significantly during the 25 or so years that I have been following both the market and also the tools available for an investor to participate within the market.  The following trends are key:

    • The cost of trading and investing has declined significantly.  Trades used to cost more than $25 and now are essentially free in many cases.  Mutual funds used to have “loads” of 5% or more standard when you made an investment, meaning that $100 invested only went to work for you as $95.  These sorts of up-front costs have almost totally been eliminated
    • ETFs have (mostly) replaced mutual funds.  ETFs “trade like stocks”, meaning that you can buy and sell anytime (mutual funds traded once a day, after being priced with that day’s activity) and they don’t have income tax gains and losses unless you actually make a trade (mutual funds often had gains due to changes in the portfolio that you had to pay taxes on even if you were just holding the fund)
    • CDs and Government Debt are all electronic.  You used to have to go to a bank for various governmental bond products or to buy a CD.  Now you not only can buy all of this online, you can choose from myriad banks instantly rather than settle for whatever your main bank (Chase, Wells Fargo, etc…) offers up to you
    • Interest Rates are Near Zero.  One of the key concepts in investing is “compound interest”, where interest is re-invested and even small, continuous investments held for a long time can end up amounting to large sums (in nominal terms, because inflation often eats away at “real” returns).  However, with interest rates basically near zero, you need to earn dividend income or take on more risk (i.e. “junk bonds”) in order to receive any sort of interest income.  There is no “safe” way to earn income any more
    • Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Economics & Finance, Investment Journal, Personal Finance | 4 Comments »

    Seth Barrett Tillman: The European Parliament’s 2016 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought

    Posted by Jonathan on September 18th, 2016 (All posts by )

    Excerpt:

    I suspect there is no General James Longstreet Prize, and if someone asked me if such a prize should be created, I would say “no”.
     
    There is no Rommel Prize, and if someone asked if such a prize should be created, I would say “no”. (And—just to be clear—I am not comparing Longstreet and the Confederacy to Rommel and Nazi Germany.)
     
    There is a Sakharov Prize, and if someone had asked me prior to its creation whether it should be created, I hope I would have had the moral clarity to say “no”. There were and there are other people in Europe and elsewhere who this prize could have been named for: persons who were not quite so morally ambiguous. E.g., Average people—people who were not heroic or even particularly bright. Perhaps it could have been called the Ivan Denisovich Prize. It speaks volumes about the modern European zeitgeist that a major prize is named for Sakharov, but the founders of NATO—which protected Europe from Sakharov’s warheads—remain largely unknown. It goes without saying that the American taxpayer who paid for Europe’s defence (and who continues to do so) is entirely lost from sight. Europe’s cosmopolitan transnational elites much prefer believing that the years of peace and plenty were their creation, as opposed to their being the beneficiary of American good will beyond their control.

    Seth’s argument is well worth reading in full.

     

    Posted in Deep Thoughts, Europe, History, International Affairs, Military Affairs, Morality and Philosphy, National Security, Philosophy, Political Philosophy, Politics, Russia, USA, War and Peace | 1 Comment »

    Updating Apple Products

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on September 18th, 2016 (All posts by )

    I started out as a Windows user and was actually a Windows programmer (using MS Access) for quite a long time. I resisted the siren call of Apple products and stuck with Windows for years and years, for work and for personal use.

    Finally, I gave in and bought a MacBook Pro in 2011 which turned out to be a great purchase (and got rid of my Windows Desktop PC). I always had an iPhone for my personal cell phone and when I turned in my work Blackberry (a sad day at the time) for an iPhone, that meant that I had two iPhones. For a while I also used a Mac at work, although I ended up switching back to a Windows laptop because password resets, system upgrades and a lack of compatibility for applications built for Windows made it too much of a pain in the rear. Mac laptops still struggle in the corporate world.

    Then over the years I of course bought an iPad and then upgraded that iPad, and an Apple Watch, which I really like (although the jury is mixed on that one). Here is an Apple Watch article and review that I wrote.

    Thus I now have five (5) Apple products – a MacBook Pro, an iPad, an Apple Watch, and two iPhones. And now it is time for all the updates… iOS 10 is out now which means I need to update my iPad and both iPhones. Apple Watch OS 3 is also out and I am downloading that right now (downloading the operating system into the watch, from the iPhone, seems to take a long time). My MacBook Pro will get updated to the new Sierra OS when it comes out on Tuesday, September 20th.

    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Tech | 3 Comments »

    Does Hillary Clinton Have Parkinson’s Disease?

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on September 18th, 2016 (All posts by )

    The Hillary collpase last Sunday has prompted a lot of speculation on her condition. Early on I was inclined to blame her neurological condition on her history of concussion and cerebral vein thrombosis.

    That seemed logical, given her history. However, it does not explain her quick recovery. It also has nothing to do with pneumonia.

    This video has now convinced me that she has Parkinson’s Disease, and it is fairly advanced. In the video, the physician mentions Apomorphine, which is not morphine but an alpha adrenergic drug used in Parkinson’s Disease.

    Currently, apomorphine is used in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease.

    What use does it have in Parkinson’s? It is used for “Non-motor symptoms.”

    What does that mean ? Parkinson’s Disease is characterized by a serious of motor disabilities.

    The cardinal symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are resting tremor, slowness of movement (bradykinesia) and rigidity. Many people also experience balance problems (postural instability). These symptoms, which often appear gradually and with increasing severity over time, are usually what first bring patients to a neurologist for help. Typically, symptoms begin on one side of the body and migrate over time to the other side.

    These symptoms are typically controlled with Dopamine like drugs, such as L-Dopa. There are other symptoms less easily controlled.

    For example, in advanced cases, difficulty swallowing can cause Parkinson’s patients to aspirate food into the lungs, leading to pneumonia or other pulmonary conditions. Loss of balance can cause falls that result in serious injuries or death. The seriousness of these incidents depends greatly on the patient’s age, overall health and disease stage.

    Hmmmm.

    There are also side effects of L Dopa.

    L-DOPA therapy is further complicated by the development of movement disorders called dyskinesias after 5 – 10 years of use in most cases.

    Dyskinesias are movement disorders in which neurological discoordination results in uncontrollable, involuntary movements. This discoordination can also affect the autonomic nervous system, resulting in, for example, respiratory irregularities (Rice 2002). Dyskinesia is the result of L-DOPA-induced synaptic dysfunction and inappropriate signaling between areas of the brain that normally coordinate movement, namely the motor cortex and the striatum (Jenner 2008).

    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Elections, Medicine | 18 Comments »

    Up A Lazy River

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on September 18th, 2016 (All posts by )

    sunrise-on-the-river-smaller

    A nice bit of riverine scenery, just to pass a lazy Sunday

     

    Posted in Photos | 3 Comments »

    Seth Barrett Tillman: An American Brexit Referendum: Should the United States continue to participate in NATO?

    Posted by Jonathan on September 15th, 2016 (All posts by )

    Let’s not kid ourselves, NATO, in its current structure, destabilizes the peace of Europe vis-a-vis Russia. Europe’s states will not pay for their own defense as long as those states can enjoy a free ride courtesy of the American tax payer and the American elite’s visions of Pax Americana. Those visions are long past their sell-by-date. If American participation in NATO ends, there is a good chance (albeit, not a sure thing) that the Europeans will cooperate and defend themselves. That’s a win-win. Good for America, and good for Europe.
     
    I propose a national referendum—an American Brexit—to settle the question. Let’s put the question to all of our people. Should the United States continue to participate in NATO?

    Read the whole thing.

     

    Posted in America 3.0, Europe, International Affairs, Military Affairs, National Security, Russia, Tradeoffs | 21 Comments »

    Hillary Clinton and Cerebral Venous Sinus Thrombosis.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on September 13th, 2016 (All posts by )

    The episode of Hillary Clinton’s collapse at the 9/11 Memorial Sunday has raised some interesting questions. Several years ago, she had a series of neurological events.

    Getting a true picture of the events requires that we go to British newspaper sites, as the US media has shielded her for ten years.

    1998 Blood Clot
    Clinton’s first known blood clot occurred in 1998, while she was still first lady.
    Clinton experienced symptoms while attending a fundraiser for Sen. Charles Schumer of New York, who would soon become her Senate home-state colleague. Her right foot swelled up to the point where she couldn’t put on her shoe.
    Clinton got quietly taken to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda for treatment at the time. She was found to have ‘a big clot’ blood clot behind her knee, Clinton wrote in her memoir, ‘Living History.’
    She called it ‘the most significant health scare I’ve ever had,’ the Washington Post noted.
    According to her physician, Mt. Kisco physician, Lisa Bardack, Clinton was advised at the time to take Lovenox, described as a short-acting blood thinner, when she took flights. The meds were discontinued when she went on Coumadin.

    That history has not been discussed, to my knowledge in light of her recent problems.

    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Current Events, Elections, Medicine | 49 Comments »

    Seth Barrett Tillman: Law of the Clinton Candidacy

    Posted by Jonathan on September 13th, 2016 (All posts by )

    Seems like a good idea:

    Don’t you think the Democratic National Committee, Vice President Biden, and Senator Tim Kaine, the Democratic Party’s candidate for VP, each already have on file a full-length memorandum on these questions? Maybe the mainstream media could “obtain” copies for the rest of us?
     
    Would not this make a suitable—if not outstanding—law journal mini-symposium issue: “The Hillary Clinton Candidacy: The Legal Issues”? Any takers? An impromptu mini-symposium could be organized, held, and published on line prior to the November election, particularly where all articles are kept to a maximum of 7 pages (footnotes included).
     
    The “natural born citizen” issue generated several timely full-length articles. Surely there is time and means to do this too. The on line supplements to the primary student-edited print journals are particularly well suited for this task. Any takers?

     

    Posted in Elections, Law, Politics | 1 Comment »

    Espresso Update

    Posted by Jonathan on September 12th, 2016 (All posts by )

    I’ve updated my review of the DeLonghi EC155 espresso maker. I still like the machine because it makes great coffee and there’s nothing comparable for the price, but mine just conked out after five months (DeLonghi will replace it under warranty).

     

    Posted in Customer Service, Product Reviews/Endorsements | 6 Comments »

    The General, the Devil, and the Election

    Posted by David Foster on September 10th, 2016 (All posts by )

    Heinz Guderian was a German general who played an important role in the development of Blitzkrieg tactics.  He was also a highly effective field commander, known to his men by the nickname “Hurrying Heinz.”

    Also not a bad writer–here’s his description of the character of Adolph Hitler:

    He had no real friend. His oldest Party comrades were, it is true, disciples, but they could hardly be described as friends. So far as I can see there was nobody who was really close to him. There was nobody in whom he would confide his deepest feelings. There was nobody with whom he could talk freely and openly. As he never found a true friend, so he was denied the ability to deeply love a woman. He remained unmarried. He had no children. Everything that on this earth that casts a glow of warmth over our life as mortals, friendship with fine men, the pure love for a wife, affection for one’s own children, all this was and remained for ever unknown to him. His path thru the world was a solitary one and he followed it alone, with only his gigantic plans for company.

    There is an interesting parallel between the above excerpt and a passage in Thomas Carlyle’s review of Faust, published in 1822:

    Mephistopheles is not the common devil of poetry, but one much more adapted to his functions.  It is evident that he was a devil from the first and can be nothing else.  He is emphatically ‘the Denyer’, he fears nothing, complains of nothing, hopes for nothing.  Magnanimity, devotion, affection, all that can sweeten or embellish existence, he looks upon as childish mummery.

    (No, I’m not accusing Guderian of plagiarism…there are things a lot worse than plagiarism of which he could be justly accused!  But it is very likely that he read Faust in school, and I wonder if he might have also been exposed to early commentary on the play, including the Carlyle piece.)

    While searching for the Guderian quote (in conjunction with my recent Faust post), I ran across this blog post, which attempts to draw parallels between Guderian’s description of Hitler’s character, and…the character of Donald Trump.  The blogger does this by interspersing passages from the Guderian quote with comments about Trump made by Mark Shields and David Brooks in a PBS Newshour appearance.

    (Now, personally, I don’t see why anyone would consider a man who evaluates presidential candidates by the quality of the crease of their trousers as a particularly good source for analysis and insight, but whatever…)

    Something is missing from the linked blog post, as it is from many similar Trump denunciations….and that is the name Hillary Clinton.  Because Trump isn’t running in a vacuum, he isn’t running against, say, JFK or Harry Truman or even Jimmy Carter; he is running against Hillary Clinton, and barring some unlikely event or events, one of the other of them is going to be President.

    And I would assert that whatever degree of match there might be between Trump’s character and the character outlined in the Guderian piece, the match is considerably stronger in the case of Hillary Clinton.

    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Elections, Germany, History, Leftism, Media, Trump, USA | 35 Comments »

    Reading the Tea Leaves.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on September 10th, 2016 (All posts by )

    Once again, Richard Fernandez finds the essential point.

    Russia isn’t governed well. But people don’t rise to power in Russia according to their skill at solving public policy issues. They climb a ladder by how well they can grip the rungs of guns, bribery and deceit. Putin’s “political socialization took place as vice mayor of St. Petersburg in the 1990s, where … one of his key roles was acting as a liaison between the political and criminal authorities. It was the Wild Wild East, a world where duplicity was the norm, rules are for sissies, and only might makes right. It was a world where informal networks ruled and you controlled people by corrupting them.”

    Such jungles tend to evolve very capable predators.

    Putin, in my opinion, has done a fairly good job with Russia given the serious problems they have as a nation.

    Madison tried to warn us about the risk of corruption, or as he called it, “Faction.”

    Complaints are everywhere heard from our most considerate and virtuous citizens, equally the friends of public and private faith, and of public and personal liberty, that our governments are too unstable, that the public good is disregarded in the conflicts of rival parties, and that measures are too often decided, not according to the rules of justice and the rights of the minor party, but by the superior force of an interested and overbearing majority.

    We now are at serious risk of electing the corrupt member of a cabal of self interested manipulators of the public interest for private gain.

    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Anti-Americanism, Crony Capitalism, Elections, Leftism, Obama | 9 Comments »

    A Lament for These Times

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on September 8th, 2016 (All posts by )

    No – upon reconsideration, not a lament – more of a bitchy rant, pounded out between finalizing one book, the last chapters of another – both intended for the fall/holiday market season, wherein most of my direct sales are made.

    Yes, politics and the social scene appear to be getting stupider, reactionary and more risible in every passing day. Unfortunately, I do not possess a reservoir of spleen the size of Lake Michigan, the hours in a working day, or the energy in which to give certain topics the thorough and at-length venting which they so richly deserve, so a series of brief drive-by crankiness will have to do.

    1. Hillary Clinton is not a well woman, as ought to be obvious from her infrequent public appearances, horrific coughing fits, and the hovering solicitude of a guy who may be her medical handler/personal physician. Infrequent appearances, small, sparsely-attended rallies – while Donald Trump – who is in the same age bracket, mind you – keeps going and going like the Energizer Bunny, packing them in by the thousands every other day or two. It could be that she and her people are so convinced that the election is already in the bag, that she need only make the slightest pretense at a campaign. But just looking at her gives me the impression that she is being held together with duct tape, bailing wire and prescription medication.
    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Blogging, Civil Society, Current Events, Politics | 38 Comments »

    Seth Barrett Tillman: Trump, Confirmation Bias, and the Rule of Law

    Posted by Jonathan on September 6th, 2016 (All posts by )

    Trump is the first presidential candidate of my lifetime who has been regularly criticized for making public statements conforming to rule of law principles. Part of the confusion in the minds of his many critics arises from simple confirmation bias. But another part comes from an inability of his critics to plainly discuss what they mean by the rule of law. No doubt much of it is simply disagreement with the man’s over-the-top style and his political orientation—but normal disagreement about political principles, absent clear on point evidence, ought not lead to claims that one’s opponent is a threat to the rule of law.
     
    So what is the “rule of law”? Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to that query. I well remember my graduation from law school. A thoughtful fellow behind me said, as we waited on line to receive our degrees: “Seth, after three years of law school, as far as I can tell, the rule of law is what a prosecutor says is at risk if he loses a criminal case heard by a jury.” That answer of convenience will not do. Other people fill in the rule of law with all good and noble principles: the rule of law is human rights, separation of powers, democracy, etc. This approach is not helpful either, for even if the virtues of these other principles were contestable, their content and optimal scope remains deeply contested.
     
    Without attempting to fully define the rule of law, I will put forward some minimal necessary (but not sufficient) conditions associated with the “rule of law”. A person’s conduct is inconsistent with the rule of law, if he knowingly disobeys established law without seeking a change in the law from the legislature (including referenda where permitted by law) or validation of his specific conduct from the courts. On the other hand, a person’s conduct is consistent with the rule of law, if he obeys the judicial orders of lawfully constituted courts, and if he obeys the rules associated with the conduct of litigation in those courts.*

    Read the rest.

     

    Posted in Law, Political Philosophy, Politics, Trump | 5 Comments »