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

    Posted by Jonathan on 21st September 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 20th September 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 »

    Seth Barrett Tillman: Ireland and World War II

    Posted by Jonathan on 20th September 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 »

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

    Posted by Jonathan on 18th September 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 »

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

    Posted by Jonathan on 15th September 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 »

    Seth Barrett Tillman: Law of the Clinton Candidacy

    Posted by Jonathan on 13th September 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 12th September 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 »

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

    Posted by Jonathan on 6th September 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 »

    Out and About

    Posted by Jonathan on 5th September 2016 (All posts by )


     
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Photos | No Comments »

    What Chicago Boyz Readers Are Reading (July and August 2016)

    Posted by Jonathan on 3rd September 2016 (All posts by )

    Below is a list of the books, ebooks, music and videos that Chicago Boyz readers viewed and/or ordered in July and August 2016 via Amazon links on this blog. (A cumulative list of Chicago Boyz readers’ Amazon purchases is here.)

    Your book and non-book Amazon purchases help to support this blog via the Amazon Associates program. Chicago Boyz earns a percentage on all of your Amazon purchases as long as you get to the Amazon site by clicking on Amazon links on this blog (including the Amazon banner in the blog header, the link under the Amazon banner, and even Amazon links on Chicago Boyz for products other than the ones that you want to buy).

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Book Notes | No Comments »

    Hillary Clinton’s Alinskyite Attacks on Pharma Companies

    Posted by Jonathan on 25th August 2016 (All posts by )

    “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” (Saul Alinsky)

    Hillary is clever to go after individual companies. If she attacked the pharma industry as a whole, it could unite politically in response and perhaps gain political support from other industries that would reasonably see themselves as similarly vulnerable. But individual companies have no defenses against this kind of attack. By singling out one victim she discourages other industry players from doing anything in response, because any company or industry group that responds risks being targeted in the future.

    She has done this kind of thing before. She will probably keep doing it because it’s politically effective. Her attack on Mylan destroyed a large amount of wealth, and probably not just for Mylan’s shareholders. Today Mylan’s CEO is groveling in the media. As with past political attacks by Hillary and others on vaccine manufacturers, yesterday’s attack on Mylan will discourage pharma companies from introducing valuable new products and will reduce the availability of current products. We will probably see more of this kind of extortionate behavior by the federal govt if she is elected, because that’s how the Clintons operate and because a Hillary administration would appoint more lefty judges and DOJ and regulatory officials who would go along with it.

    Posted in Big Government, Crony Capitalism, Economics & Finance, Health Care, Leftism, Markets and Trading, Politics | 42 Comments »

    Seth Barrett Tillman: Trump, Academia, and Hyperbole

    Posted by Jonathan on 19th August 2016 (All posts by )

    Excerpt:

    As to the Article XII argument …. In a peer reviewed journal article, Professor Somin wrote: “[T]he Privileges and Immunities Clause requires states to treat migrants from other states on par with their own citizens, thereby facilitating interstate mobility.” Somin cites U.S. Const. Art. IV, § 4. See Ilya Somin, Book Review, 28 Const. Comment. 303, 305 & n.5 (2012) (reviewing Michael Greve, The Upside-Down Constitution (2012)). But that’s not right: Article IV, Section 4 is the Guarantee Clause, not the Privileges and Immunities Clause. Now just to be clear: my point isn’t that both Trump and Somin are equally dopes. Rather my point is that anyone can miscite the Constitution, and we should be loathe to call someone “profoundly ignorant” just because they cite to the wrong article or the wrong clause. Anyone can make a mistake.

    Read the whole thing.

    Jonathan adds: It’s not just academia. The media, and in my (and probably your) experience Trump opponents in private conversation, apply different and much harsher standards to Trump than they do to Hillary. One of the current memes is that Trump isn’t stable enough to have his finger on the nuclear button. Yet Hillary, whose gross negligence made her and our secrets available to hostile foreign powers, and who appears literally to have sold out her country in exchange for donations to the Clinton Foundation, gets a pass.

    Posted in Academia, Law, Politics, Rhetoric, Trump | 20 Comments »

    “A new governing aristocracy made public deception acceptable”

    Posted by Jonathan on 13th August 2016 (All posts by )

    Thoughts on the nexus between the growth of government and of an elite governing class, and the rise of flagrant, unaccountable, public lying by politicians and other officials who are members of that class:

    …This statistical fact is, however, also a good example how radically this new American “aristocracy” has changed America in recent decades. Even President Obama in his first election campaign, only eight years ago, still categorically rejected the label of being a “socialist” for fear of becoming unelectable. Only eight years later, Bernie Sanders, a declared Socialist would, likely, have become the elected Democratic presidential candidate, had the party leadership not undemocratically conspired against his election.
     
    [. . .]
     
    Many, maybe even most presidents before Clinton, of course, also have on occasion been less than truthful; but nobody, except of course Nixon (“I am not a crook”), has in recent history so blatantly lied to the American people as Bill Clinton and, yet, gotten away with it, in the process changing American politics for ever by demonstrating that the modern multimedia world practically always offers the opportunity to relativize the truth of the message (to quote Bill Clinton, “it depends what the meaning of ‘is’ is.”).
     
    The political “aristocracy” learned this lesson very quickly and, of course, nobody better than Hillary Clinton. She would never have dared to follow through with the absolute insane idea of establishing her own Internet server while serving as Secretary of State, had she not been convinced that she could manipulate the truth, should it be discovered. Piercing her words, as her husband had done so well during the Lewinsky Affair, she, indeed, has successfully avoided indictment by the Justice Department, even though a majority of Americans, likely, believe that she escaped because of special considerations by Obama’s Justice Department. Completely exposed in her deception by the FBI investigation, she, remarkably, still continues to lie in her statements to the public.

    Read the whole thing.

    Posted in Big Government, Civil Society, Culture, Current Events, Deep Thoughts, Media, Obama, Political Philosophy, Politics, Society, USA | 21 Comments »

    He Saw It Coming

    Posted by Jonathan on 12th August 2016 (All posts by )

    Seth Barrett Tillman on Global Elites, the current crisis and someone who foresaw it many years ago.

    Posted in Europe, Immigration, Trump | 1 Comment »

    Out and About

    Posted by Jonathan on 10th August 2016 (All posts by )

    yum

    Chicagoboyz enjoy a famous three-pupusa lunch at Mi Ranchito Salvadoreño on scenic Flagler Street in beautiful downtown Little Havana.

    Posted in Photos | 10 Comments »

    Seth Barrett Tillman: My Next Paper: Counting Framers & Counting Originalists

    Posted by Jonathan on 10th August 2016 (All posts by )

    In 1995, the Amars (as have others before and since) argued that James Madison opposed legislative officer succession on constitutional grounds. This is a legal and historical meme or myth. Madison never stated that he thought that legislative officer succession was unconstitutional, at least as far as our historical records show. The original source involved indicates only that Congressman Madison was relaying news from the capital to Pendleton in Virginia—in private correspondence. Madison merely transmitted to Pendleton several arguments touching upon the constitutionality of the 1792 Act which had been made by others on the House floor during debate on the 1792 Act. There is no reason to believe that Madison agreed with any one or more of the particular arguments he transmitted to Pendleton.
     
    There are those today who wish to impugn the constitutional bona fidés of the modern 1947 Act, which like its 1792 predecessor, provides for legislative officer succession. There are some policy grounds for objecting to the 1947 Act—I do not suggest that all the policy arguments go in one direction. But I do state that rooting a modern constitutional objection in Madison’s voice or that of the Framers as a group is entirely ahistorical. In these circumstances, one cannot appeal the judgement of the Second Congress (as a whole) to the Framers (as a group), and if that appeal—for whatever reason—has, in the past, convinced some unwary authors and consumers of prior legal scholarship, it is only because some originalists cannot count.

    Read the rest.

    Posted in History, Law, USA | 1 Comment »

    The AR-15 of Espresso Makers

    Posted by Jonathan on 9th August 2016 (All posts by )

    The DeLonghi EC155 15 BAR Pump Espresso and Cappuccino Maker is the official espresso maker of the Chicago Boyz Blog.

     
     
     
     
    I started drinking coffee heavily, for my health. The occasional espresso shot from local coffee shops was no longer enough. Could I make my own? Experiments with a borrowed steam-powered espresso maker yielded mediocre results, nothing like coffee-shop quality. However, most of the better machines available on Amazon seem to have mixed reviews, with buyers complaining about all kinds of problems. Perhaps, as with many types of complex equipment, user error is an issue. I decided to test the rich coffee-colored waters for myself by buying the least expensive machine with decent reviews that I could find, the DeLonghi EC 155. It turned out to be much better than I expected, with a few caveats:

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Product Reviews/Endorsements | 14 Comments »

    Seth Barrett Tillman: My Personal Brexit: Courthouse Security Checks

    Posted by Jonathan on 8th August 2016 (All posts by )

    The story is now an old one.
     
    In Western societies, there is now a tremendous disconnect between the traditional political and business elites and the citizenry. The populations of the West now find themselves ruled by a transnational elite who see tradition, loyalty, and patriotism as primitive, and whose promoters within academia, nonprofits, government bodies, labour unions, NGOs, and the media teach that nations, citizenship, borders, and law defined by elected parliaments are irksome problems to be overcome.
     
    I cannot say exactly when I saw these symptoms first arise in the United States. But more than a decade ago, I was clerking in a federal courthouse. It was a good gig. I was glad to have it. The public—litigants, lawyers, jurors, witnesses,** and visitors—went through the front entrance with a security check. Court officials and employees (including judicial law clerks) went through a back entrance, also, with a security check. One day, early in my tenure, I was going through the security check, and an older man went around me and bypassed screening. The security officer waved him through. After I went through security, I asked the security officer:

    Read the whole thing.

    Posted in Current Events, Deep Thoughts, Law, Personal Narrative, Political Philosophy | 2 Comments »

    Middle of the Road

    Posted by Jonathan on 6th August 2016 (All posts by )

    split indecision

    Chicagoboyz are on the fence, trying to bridge differences, but not necessarily interested in going both ways.

    Posted in Photos | 2 Comments »

    Seth Barrett Tillman: Souvenir from a recent summer vacation–Brexit Poster: Vote To Leave

    Posted by Jonathan on 5th August 2016 (All posts by )

    Golden memories.

    Posted in Britain, Elections, Europe, Photos | 1 Comment »

    Supermarket Parable

    Posted by Jonathan on 5th August 2016 (All posts by )

    At the store they offer plain, vanilla and chocolate soy milk. Chocolate is the only flavor that’s any good IMO. Other customers seem to agree as chocolate is always in short supply and sometimes sold out by the time I get to the store. It seems obvious they should stock more chocolate but they never do.

    I complained a couple of times to guys in the dairy department and once to a manager. They didn’t understand what the problem was so I stopped complaining. When they have chocolate on the shelf I load up.

    Today I took two cartons of chocolate and couldn’t reach a third. One of the stock guys climbed up on the shelf and got it for me. He good-naturedly said that it’s great stuff, it flies off the shelves. I thanked him and mildly suggested the store should stock more chocolate because it’s the most popular flavor. He said that, on the contrary, people who like chocolate should be more considerate and leave some for the other customers. He added that there is a God upstairs and He is watching. I believe this man missed his calling. He could have been a successful bioethicist.

    Posted in Bioethics, Business, Customer Service, Deep Thoughts, Economics & Finance, Medicine, Personal Narrative | 31 Comments »

    Seth Barrett Tillman: Letter to the Editor: Responding to Robert Fisk’s “To understand the Islamist beheading of a French priest ….”

    Posted by Jonathan on 1st August 2016 (All posts by )

    It is not “inevitable” in any civil war—no matter how brutal—that one side murder foreigners. Certainly, the GIA’s murdering foreigners—even during the brutal Algerian civil war—was not “inevitable”. It was a choice; it was the wrong choice…

    Read the whole thing.

    Posted in Europe, France, History, Islam, Media, Middle East, Morality and Philosphy, Terrorism, War and Peace | 1 Comment »

    Despite Drop in Home Ownership, an Increase in Renters*

    Posted by Jonathan on 28th July 2016 (All posts by )

    Millennials cause homeownership rate to drop to lowest level since 1965:

    The drop in homeownership is largely due to a delay in homebuying by the millennials, who have the lowest ownership rate of their age group in history. Millennials are not only burdened by student loan debt, but they have also delayed life choices like marriage and parenthood, which are the primary drivers of homeownership.

    Why have today’s young people, as compared to young people in the recent past, delayed buying property, marrying and having children?

    “While the millennial homeownership rate continues to decline, it’s important to note that the decrease could be just as likely due to new renter household formation as it is their ability to buy homes,” wrote Ralph McLaughlin, chief economist at Trulia. “Certainly low inventory and affordability isn’t helping their efforts to own, but moving out of their parents’ basement and into a rental unit is also a good sign for the housing market.”

    Why are many of today’s young families choosing to rent rather than buy their homes?

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Economics & Finance, Real Estate, Society, Systems Analysis, Urban Issues | 8 Comments »

    Seth Barrett Tillman: As A Legal Matter, MacArthur Was Right And Truman Was Wrong

    Posted by Jonathan on 21st July 2016 (All posts by )

    An interesting post.

    Posted in History, International Affairs, Korea, Law, United Nations, War and Peace | 26 Comments »

    Seth Barrett Tillman: The Libertarian/Popperian Case for Brexit: A Response to Professors Somin, Levy, Norberg et al.

    Posted by Jonathan on 19th July 2016 (All posts by )

    The so-called libertarian case against Brexit works like this. Nations do bad things. E.g., tariffs. And the European Union (“EU”) blocks some (perhaps many of) those bad things. Indeed, the EU has set up a tariff-free free trade zone. That’s a good thing. Therefore EU-good & Brexit-bad. This position is not entirely wrong, but it is only half the story.
     
    First, the EU (and EFTA) free trade zone extends to EU (and EFTA) member states and their dependencies, and also to a few nearby non-member political entities (e.g., San Marino, Andorra, etc). This tariff-free free trade zone does not extend to the world. So when foreign goods are imported into the “tariff-free free trade zone” across the EU’s external borders, EU law mandates a “Common Customs Tariff”. In other words, hand-in-hand with the absence of tariffs among member states is an EU-imposed tariff against non-members’ exports. Whether this situation is a net gain for the people of Europe is a complex empirical question. That question is not answered merely by parroting the EU’s line: we promote tariff-free free trade. No, that question is not so easily answered because although the EU promotes some free trade, it positively discriminates against non-members’ exports.

    Read the rest.

    This is a long and well reasoned post that is worth reading in full. The gist of Seth’s argument is that the political phenomena lumped together as “Brexit” should be evaluated empirically rather than according to someone’s interpretation of libertarian doctrine; there are good reasons for supporters of freedom and open societies to favor Britain’s exit from the EU.

    UPDATE: Ilya Somin responds. The reader is invited to evaluate Somin’s full response for himself, but I was struck by this line: “Tillman’s discussion of immigration is notable for its implicit assumption that we can assess immigration policy while completely ignoring the freedom and interests of potential immigrants themselves.” Has there ever been a country that framed its immigration policy in any terms other than its own self-interest?

    Posted in Britain, Current Events, Europe, Libertarianism, Political Philosophy, Politics | 3 Comments »