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    The state of state surveillance technology

    Posted by Mrs. Davis on 25th March 2017 (All posts by )

    All the discussion of the Trump “wiretapping” seems to assume that there are targets of surveillance. I thought that had passed away years ago and that NSA was simply capturing all transmissions in the ether, converting them from voice to text and storing both in a searchable data base. While additional land lines may be intercepted, the vast majority of signals are now airborne at some point so the NSA has access to virtually all electronic communication, foreign and domestic. Likewise, they do not, except in extraordinary circumstances, have acres of analysts sitting in cubes listening to conversations in real time. Instead, software constantly crawls the text database for terms of interest or manually input searches, such as the names of everyone on the Trump transition team. This is how team 0bama got the dirt that has been leaked to the press.

    Politics is now under the influence of those at NSA with search authorization much more than the Kremlin, except to the extent they have comparable capabilities. I suspect the Kremlin has comparable intellectual capabilities but less access to transmissions and even less processing bandwidth. Given the acceptance of the loss of privacy by the facebook generation, this can only expand. And to think that only 80 years ago a Secretary of State could opine that “Gentlemen do not read each others mail.” Things have changed, and once again, not for the better.

    Got that off my chest. Now if only the tin foil would stop irritating my scalp.

    Posted in America 3.0, Big Government, Current Events, Human Behavior, Just Unbelievable, Politics, Privacy | 10 Comments »

    Why does Germany do such monumentally stupid things?

    Posted by Mrs. Davis on 25th February 2017 (All posts by )

    I was reading Arthur Herman’s column in the WSJ Decoding the Zimmerman Telegram, 100 Years Later and I began to think about all the really, really dumb things Germany has done. And it’s not as if the Germans are dumb. A look at the Nobel prize list makes it clear that there are many brilliant Germans. But if we go back in history and look at the political decisions Germany has made, it is a cavalcade of catastrophe. In the 19th century, Germany was the cradle of socialism, not all the ideas, but certainly the movement. Then it decided to unite Germany, not a bad idea in and of itself; but it then led to the idea that it should conquer Europe. In the process, it threatened the US with invasion by Mexico, bringing the US into the war and onto the world stage. And to top it, they put Lenin in a rail car and sent him to St. Petersburg launching the Soviet Union. Hitler then rekindled the idea of conquering Europe, including the incredible decision to invade Russia and then declaring war on the United States directly, creating an enemy that might have sat out the European war.

    After suffering a defeat as devastating to Germany’s people as the Thirty Years War, Nato was created to keep the Americans in, the Russians out and the Germans down. And for 70 years it was a success. Germany started well by establishing an economic powerhouse. It succeeded in reuniting Germany after the cold war was won by the US in spite of German handicapping. But since then it has made decisions with terrible consequences, not only for Germany, but for much of Europe. It has used the EU and the Euro to peacefully achieve, with American connivance, what it twice failed to do by violence. And the consequences have become deleterious at best for the rest of Europe. The Energiewende has been a catastrophe, leading to more pollution by increasing the coal and biomass burned to create energy and the highest electricity costs in Europe. Germany’s refugee policy has invited invasion by unassimilabe masses inimical to European culture and values. And a policy of minimal defense expenditures has led the Americans to consider getting out and the Russians getting back in. And now China has become Germany’s largest trading partner.

    I have long felt that the EUropeans were more than capable of defending themselves and we should pull out of Nato to force them to do so and to save money. Why should we allow them to freeload? But now with the Americans leaving, the Russians returning, and the Germans rising, I am having second thoughts as I consider the possible consequences.

    Posted in China, Europe, Germany, Miscellaneous, Russia, Tradeoffs, USA | 21 Comments »

    Steven Den Beste, RIP

    Posted by Mrs. Davis on 24th October 2016 (All posts by )

    Steven Den Beste has died. RIP and thanks for the many thoughts. Thinkers like him come all too infrequently.

    Posted in Obits | 9 Comments »

    The founders got it right.

    Posted by Mrs. Davis on 15th October 2016 (All posts by )

    There has been much gnashing of teeth over the past several weeks over what pathetic choices we have for president. And there has been much creative writing about what can be done to ameliorate the situation. One writer in the WSJ went so far as to propose that after his victory Trump voluntarily resign so that Pence could become President.

    Yet the solution is right before our eyes in a document almost 230 years old. The Constitution does not give the power to elect the President to the People. Because the founders were not democrats and did not create a democracy. They believed a mixed form of government to operate as a republic would provide the best rule. As stated in the Federalist #68 regarding the selection of the President:

    It was desirable that the sense of the people should operate in the choice of the person to whom so important a trust was to be confided. This end will be answered by committing the right of making it, not to any preestablished body, but to men chosen by the people for the special purpose, and at the particular conjuncture.

    It was equally desirable, that the immediate election should be made by men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station, and acting under circumstances favorable to deliberation, and to a judicious combination of all the reasons and inducements which were proper to govern their choice. A small number of persons, selected by their fellow-citizens from the general mass, will be most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations.

    It was also peculiarly desirable to afford as little opportunity as possible to tumult and disorder. This evil was not least to be dreaded in the election of a magistrate, who was to have so important an agency in the administration of the government as the President of the United States. But the precautions which have been so happily concerted in the system under consideration, promise an effectual security against this mischief. The choice of SEVERAL, to form an intermediate body of electors, will be much less apt to convulse the community with any extraordinary or violent movements, than the choice of ONE who was himself to be the final object of the public wishes. And as the electors, chosen in each State, are to assemble and vote in the State in which they are chosen, this detached and divided situation will expose them much less to heats and ferments, which might be communicated from them to the people, than if they were all to be convened at one time, in one place.

    Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity, may alone suffice to elevate a man to the first honors in a single State; but it will require other talents, and a different kind of merit, to establish him in the esteem and confidence of the whole Union, or of so considerable a portion of it as would be necessary to make him a successful candidate for the distinguished office of President of the United States.

    Alexander Hamilton didn’t get everything right.

    The People are not about to elect a president. They are about to elect 538 electors who shall meet in their respective states, and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves. The person having the greatest number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President.

    So the question becomes, are there enough patriots among the 538 electors to vote for someone other than the two deplorable and irredeemable candidates put forth by the non-constitutional political parties so that neither of them has a majority of the votes cast? And if so, who should receive the third highest number of votes?

    Posted in Miscellaneous | 15 Comments »

    Russia’s Long Road to the Middle East

    Posted by Mrs. Davis on 29th May 2016 (All posts by )

    An interesting article in the Wall Street Journal (not behind paywall).

    What caught my eye was this:

    While the U.S. backed Arab monarchies and Israel, the Soviets sided with leftist regimes in Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Libya and South Yemen, which became the Arab world’s only Marxist state.

    Hmm…. what else do these places have in common? Is what is going on over there as much the death throes of communism as the birth of radical islamism? We can see what is happening in Venezuela. Cuba may be able to minimize the effects if it can find a way to generate the tourism and other industries Puerto Rico has not. North Korea will be worst. But the entire Soviet Bloc has not fallen, only the European part.

    Further,

    Russia was too busy trying to prevent the breakup of its own rump post-Soviet state, bloodied by separatist uprisings in Chechnya and other Muslim regions. Mr. Putin successfully pacified those borderlands

    Well, if Russia created the problem, and Russia has demonstrated that it can fix the problem, what is the matter with allowing Russia to do so?

    Posted in Miscellaneous | 15 Comments »

    Is Trump the Alinskyite Radical in this election?

    Posted by Mrs. Davis on 13th March 2016 (All posts by )

    Allowing a stupid person to demonstrate their stupidity by asking them a hard question does not confer responsibility for their stupidity upon the questioner.

    By choosing to hold a rally at UIC, Trump knew that he could get his enemy to demonstrate who they are and what tactics they prefer. It does not make him responsible for what they chose to do. And what he ultimately chose to do was prevent violence, not promote it.

    Trump was pushing a negative so hard it became a positive and allowed him to ridicule his opposition. BLM, OWS and SJWs are being turned into the Bull Connor of the 21st century by their own actions. Trump is just giving them the opportunity to reveal themselves. Then he makes them live by their own rules. On Hardball:

    MATTHEWS: When you set up rally in Chicago where it’s mostly Hispanic and blacks, you knew there would be a lot of people that have the time to come out and protest your situation. It was no surprise here, was there in what happened? Given the venue of your event,

    TRUMP: It shouldn’t matter. You’re the first one to say it. It shouldn’t matter whether it was whoever lives in the city. It shouldn’t make a difference. Whether it’s white, black, Hispanic, it shouldn’t matter.

    MATTHEWS: They don’t like what you’re saying. They don’t like what you’re saying.

    TRUMP: We shouldn’t be restricted from having rally here because of ethnic make up or anything like that. I’m somebody that feels strongly it shouldn’t make any difference. You usually feel that too. I’m surprised you’re bringing this up because it shouldn’t matter,

    Do you believe those were spontaneous responses? You can almost see Trump restraining him self from saying, “Alinsky…You magnificent bastard. I read your book.”

    Look at Alinsky’s rules and recall how many of them have been observed by Trump thus far. Trump stopped the War on Women by applying Rules 2, 4, 5, 6, 9 and 12 to Hillary through Bill Clinton, with a big assist from Bill Cosby. He froze his 16 Republican competitors to the point where none of them could effectively respond to him.

    Cruz is still my preference, but should Trump win the nomination he will give a master class to whom ever the Establishment grants the Democrat nomination in the tactics they have used to dominate the national debate for the last 30 years. And should Cruz prevail, he would do well to learn from Trump’s demonstration of Alinskyite tactics.

    * RULE 1: “Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have.”
    * RULE 2: “Never go outside the expertise of your people.”
    * RULE 3: “Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy.”
    * RULE 4: “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules
    * RULE 5: “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.”
    * RULE 6: “A good tactic is one your people enjoy.”
    * RULE 7: “A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.”
    * RULE 8: “Keep the pressure on. Never let up.”
    * RULE 9: “The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.”
    * RULE 10: “If you push a negative hard enough, it will push through and become a positive.”
    * RULE 11: “The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.”
    * RULE 12: “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.”

    Posted in Politics, Trump | 68 Comments »

    Where’d I leave my sunglasses?

    Posted by Mrs. Davis on 6th March 2016 (All posts by )

    We let the Saturday/Sunday WSJ opinion pages remain unopened as we have errands to do and our local paper has dispensed with its Sunday edition to deliver its scant weekend advertising edition on Saturday. So this morning I ate my eggs accompanied by a whimpering Peggy Noonan.

    She sounds like an out of phase boomer crying “Has anybody here seen my old friend Jeb?” because her Republican party is shattering in her mind. So long has she lived in the comfort of her subservient cocoon that she cannot imagine that the shattering of the chrysalis will allow the emergence of the beautiful and powerful butterfly instead of the inert pupa to which she had become accustomed. Instead the agent of that shattering, Donald Trump, is seen to be destroying the comfort to which she had looked forward in her old age.

    I also saw the returns for yesterday’s contests where Cruz won two and narrowed The Donald’s margins in two others while leaving Rubio and Kasich far behind, clutching for straws. We now have the two man race. Bad news for the Donald because he now faces the candidate most likely to reveal the true emptiness of the man behind the curtain. And the candidate most likely to present a clear choice for voters in November.

    And on the other side, the Bern won 2 of 3 which will force Hillary to rededicate herself to leftism past which she will, if still free, be forced to defend in the autumn against Cruz painting the future in bold colors.

    Who ever became president in 2008 was doomed to preside over 8 terrible economic years. The withdrawal of the boomers from economic productivity into dependent consumerism was inevitably about to begin, our financial institutions were in disarray, and a vibrant China was eating our lunch as had the Japanese in the 1970s and 1980s.

    The next president, whoever it is, will face far less difficult prospects. Boomers will continue their decline into consumption, but they will begin to abandon the jobs to which they have so bitterly clung to the X’ers and Millenials who so desperately need them. Our financial institutions, while still unreformed, are stronger than any others in the world. China faces interesting times, and our adversaries in Russia, Arabia and Persia will struggle with the onslaught created by one of the 20th century’s greatest unsung heroes, George P. Mitchell, father of fracking. Who knows, there may be enough wealth to cover Social Security, if not Medicare.

    What remains unstated in all of Noonan’s and others’ commentary is that this election has the opportunity to be a revolutionary generational transfer of power. The Donald, having done the prophetic work of Jeremiah, has paved the way for Cruz, the new Josiah, to rediscover the law of old and restore it to guide a new age. An age in which Republicans have an embarrassment of talents and the Democrats none. Should Cruz gain power there is greater than normal reason to expect his redirection of the nation could be sustained simply because of the lack of opposition talent and the gift of fracking. After the last 30 years, we can at least pray for it.

    No one can know the future, and there are some reasons why this may not be it, but for this afternoon, I can at least try to remember where I left those sunglasses.

    Posted in America 3.0, Conservatism, Elections, Politics | 27 Comments »

    Who is giving Apple legal advice?

    Posted by Mrs. Davis on 27th February 2016 (All posts by )

    The government is asking Apple to give it the password to Syed Rizwan Farook’s iPhone and iCloud account. Apple is refusing to do so based on its First Amendment rights. This seems to me to be a very weak argument. Just ask Judith Miller. And there really is very little difference. Apple will have to spend $100,000 to comply and all Judith Miller needed to do was name a source. But Apple’s case involves a national security threat to each and every American whereas Judith Miller’s involved only an implausible threat to Valerie Plame who chose to garner all kinds of media attention thereafter. If there were a safe deposit box the government wanted opened, it would go to a court and get an order for the bank to drill the locks out so that the box could be removed. The bank would comply. Apple will lose.

    And if Apple does not lose, the matter will go, as its pleading requests and as it may, even if it loses, now that Apple has made such a ruckus, from the fairly rational precincts of the judiciary to the fully irrational floor of the Congress. Let’s suppose that before legislation is completed there is another domestic terror incident in the US and the terrorist used an Apple iPhone. What kind of legislation would Apple get after that? While not yet widely known, Apple has likely put a back door into every Chinese iPhone via a Chinese designed chip added to the iPhone at China’s insistence for phones sold in the PRC. If this is confirmed, Congress would go even more non-linear.

    And what other things might the government do if Apple were to prevail? Well, in the extreme it could ask GCHQ or some other foreign service to crack the iPhone in general. No device is uncrackable. It could also signal the Chinese that it would not be aggressive in pursuing IP violations by China in the case of Apple products. Apple is refusing to cooperate with its government in the first responsibility of that government, to protect its citizens. There would be consequences. Is it really good legal advice to let your client take such risks?

    Apple should have quietly cut a deal with the government that would offer its customers the maximum security and quietly complied with court orders until a truly offensive order was received. Barring that, Apple would have a far better argument saying that ordering it to break its phones would lower their value to customers, lowering Apple’s revenues, and lowering Apple’s market cap. This would constitute an uncompensated taking by the Federal government of enormous monetary value from every Apple shareholder for which Apple should be compensated.

    With existing technology, you have no privacy. Products are in development that will allow retailers to know how long you look at an item on a shelf, if you pick it up, if you return it to the shelf, how long you look at it and if you buy it. And if you wear an iWatch or other wearable, it will know how much your pulse and bp increased at each step of engagement. If you use gmail, as almost everyone seems to, Google knows the content of every email you send and receive. Who is more likely to release or resell your email, Google or the FBI? The Silicon Valley forces lining up against the government are the most probable threat to what you think is your privacy. It’s been almost 20 years since Scott McNealy said “You’ve got no privacy. Get over it.”

    Apple will be made out to be protecting the ability of terrorists to communicate in secret. We are at war with these terrorists. They will kill any of us where ever they can. Article III, section 3 of the Constitution states,”Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.” That sounds a lot like what Apple is seeking to do under protection of the first amendment’s emanations and penumbras.

    Tim Cook is engaging in the same kind of magical thinking that has dominated the boomer elite and led to so many tragedies for the last 24 years. Losing wars has consequences.

    Posted in Advertising, China, Civil Liberties, Current Events, Miscellaneous, Politics, Privacy, Tech | 60 Comments »

    Trump and Reagan

    Posted by Mrs. Davis on 2nd January 2016 (All posts by )

    Happy New Year to all. And it promises to be at least an interesting one.

    I found this fascinating post from a series of links starting at Instapundit and it made me want to gel some thoughts that have been swimming in my head about our clown-genius, Donald Trump.

    Trump is no dummy, appearances to the contrary notwithstanding. He appears the way he does because that’s the way he wants to appear. He groomed that appearance for 14 years on the Apprentice show. Sort of the way Reagan groomed his appearance in 8 years of speaking to factory and community audiences about the virtues of the free enterprise system on behalf of General Electric. A lot of people like Trump. The show lasted 14 seasons even though I never watched a second. But a lot of people did. As a result, people see Trump as the reality candidate as opposed to all the other inside the beltway political candidates. Even the outside the beltway governors are seen as inside politicians. People want a genuine leader and not an artificial politician fabricated by political consultants. Warts are part of reality.

    Starting in 2011 Trump began appearing on Fox and Friends every Monday morning, practicing his pitch and getting feedback, just as Reagan did on his daily radio broadcasts from 1975 to 1979. This routine communication with the people gave them greater insight into the concerns of regular people. You can’t get that by spending all your time talking to other politicians about the political minutiae of the moment. On air you have to talk about what people care about or they won’t listen. Both started early on their soft campaigns to reach the people directly. Each was dismissed as an airhead actor (Bedtime for Bonzo?) or a billionaire buffoon. Neither was.

    The difference between them is that Reagan was an ideological communicator whereas Trump is a pragmatic entertainer. Each was appropriate to his time. The vast majority of the electorate was literate in 1980. Not so much any more. Little of our information is gathered from print. Reading is rational, viewing is emotional. Clinton and especially Obama have governed as entertainer in chief as opposed to commander because of their desire to dispense goodies to the people so they will be loved as they weren’t by the fathers who abandoned them, their unrealistic view of our enemies and disdain for the military, and their desire to distract the populace from the serious matters they ignore. Heck, No Drama Obama ran as a blank slate. Or was it an empty chair? So the people are prepared for an entertainer in chief. And Trump would be entertaining. But I am beginning to believe there is much more to him than “You’re fired!” We’ll know much more about that when he selects his running mate.

    Posted in Politics | 18 Comments »

    The other state without a budget

    Posted by Mrs. Davis on 24th October 2015 (All posts by )

    The Wall Street Journal has an excellent article (behind paywall) by Andrew Staub on the budget stalemate in Pennsylvania. While the overall fiscal situation is less dire than Illinois (lottery winners are still being paid), the personalities less dramatic and the politics more genteel, the problems both states are confronting are ones the Federal government is ignoring courtesy of the Federal Reserve and central bankers world wide who tolerate the expansion of American debt.

    One interesting aspect of the situation Staub passes over is the split in the Republican party. While the Republicans hold a majority in both houses, they are really composed of two factions, liberal leaning Rockefeller Republicans from the eastern side of the state and more conservative members from the west. They are not so far apart that they could be described as RINOs and Tea Partiers, but their inability to consistently act in concert has weakened their numerical majority in the past. However, they recently united to pass a sure to be vetoed paycheck protection bill that had foundered under the previous Republican governor because of resistance from the easterners. This is an indication that, at least in opposition to a Democrat governor the Westerners are starting to prevail.

    On the other hand, Governor Wolf sent a tax increase bill to the House, forcing Democrat members to vote on it and the Republicans were happy to accommodate him. 73 Democrats walked the plank for their leader and 9 refused, creating division in the usually solid Democrat ranks. It will be interesting to see the electoral consequences for them.

    But there is insufficient power on either side to prevail in the budget impasse. Until the schools start closing, probably after Christmas, there is little pressure on either side to move.

    In addition to all this, Kathleen Kane, the Commonwealth’s attorney general has lost her law license as a result of her actions in disclosing sealed information from an investigation into pornographic emails circulating among, allegedly, PA Supreme Court staff and personnel in the AG’s department. She then accused a member of the court of sending and receiving racial, misogynistic pornography. She is under investigation for releasing the materials and the Supreme Court has suspended her license to practice law. The post of AG is frequently a stepping stone to the governorship in PA and the Democrats have lost an attractive potential candidate and leader.

    Pennsylvania has been a solid Democrat state in presidential elections. But with the party torn apart, the deceased in Philadelphia may not be able to turn out in sufficient numbers next November to assure the result, if the Republicans can provide an acceptable alternative to HRM. But then PA always finds a way to leave the Republican candidate standing alone at the altar.

    Posted in Humor, Illinois Politics, Miscellaneous, Politics, Predictions | 2 Comments »

    One step closer to war

    Posted by Mrs. Davis on 30th September 2015 (All posts by )

    Tonight Obama must be contemplating how much he feels like Stalin on June 22, 1941. One wishes it won’t take him 10 days to reappear. Until one considers how craven he will be when he does reappear. He’s no Uncle Joe, that’s for sure.

    Posted in History, Miscellaneous, Obama, Russia, War and Peace | 20 Comments »

    Carly’s a movie fan

    Posted by Mrs. Davis on 21st September 2015 (All posts by )

    Tonight I got an e-mail from Carly, subject:

    Not just another face in the crowd!

    I wonder if she saw it at the Stanford Theater. David would not be amused.

    Posted in Elections, Politics | 6 Comments »

    UBS Hits Ratings Peaks

    Posted by Mrs. Davis on 19th September 2015 (All posts by )

    As a self confessed conservative curmudgeon I prefer not to watch movies made after 1962. But one exception is the 1976 classic Network. Not because it is so pre-1962; in fact it is replete with all the things that I find offensive and unentertaining in post-1962 movies. But they are not shown gratuitously to build box office by appealing to prurient interests, but to reinforce the story line. If you have never watched the movie, spoilers may follow and you should consider streaming it before proceeding.

    Howard Beall Donald Trump has brought UBS to the people or perhaps the the people are so ready for UBS that they drafted Donald Trump. Peggy Noonan has accredited this reality for the establishment in her column (behind paywall) this week.

    The cost of Trump is that he turns it all into “Survivor.” That trivializes serious candidates…Journalists are now acclimating themselves to this new reality. A few months ago they thought Mr. Trump and reality TV were climbing over the wall trying to get into the real world of politics. Now they realize it’s journalists trying to climb over the wall into the new world of reality TV. That is now the real world of politics.

    I sit in awe of how Paddy Chayefsky could have seen the future so clearly 40 years ago. How he bridged the Golden Age of television to the tarnished age of Hollywood is a testament to his genius.

    But it need not be so if one of the qualified candidates could bring her(him)self to slap the moderator and say:

    You’re television incarnate, Jake: Indifferent to suffering; insensitive to joy. All of life is reduced to the common rubble of banality. War, murder, death are all the same to you as bottles of beer. And the daily business of life is a corrupt comedy. You even shatter the sensations of time and space into split seconds and instant replays. You’re madness, Jake. Virulent madness. And everything you touch dies with you. But not me. I’m here to discuss the issues that will determine whether this nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure.

    There are a lot of candidates on that stage who could rise to the occasion and break out of the death spiral our national debate has entered. It’s time for a grown up to tell the people that reality TV is not reality. Shark Tank is not how investing really works. We need not accept a Hobbesian island as a metaphor for life. But none have.

    I’m not madder than Hell. I despair.

    Posted in Elections, Politics, Trump | 22 Comments »

    Germany’s Aims

    Posted by Mrs. Davis on 13th September 2015 (All posts by )

    Nato has failed. Lord Ismay, first Secretary General for Nato famously said that its purpose was to keep the Germans down, the Americans in and the Russians out. The Russians, in typically boorish fashion, are on their way in. The Americans have pivoted away though they make regular ineffective gestures to appear to be in. And the Germans are on top of Europe.

    The Germans, twice having tried to conquer Europe unsuccessfully in the last century understand that to do so again would be folly. Are they now seeking to pursue their goal through other means, however unconsciously? Consider their response to the “migrant” crisis.

    Every country in the EU must take their fair share of the incoming based on the maximum number the Germans are willing to take, regardless of the impact on the others. They must all accept the migrating Muslims who had such close relations with the Germans in their efforts last century to dominate Europe.

    Contrast that vision of Europe acting as one to address a crisis with the German approach to the Greek debt crisis; each boat on its own bottom with the Germans as the creditor of last resort. A great way to gain economic control over the smaller powers of unstable Eastern Europe, while increasing their instability by the importation of a fifth column.

    Policies of design? No. But it is convenient.

    Update:

    I see now that Germany has stopped all trains from Austria and implemented passport checks at the borders. How convenient. Having primed the pump and led all to believe they would happily receive the “migrants” the Germans now shut the spigot when the pipeline is full. Maybe because Neo-Nazis have firebombed a transit house for “migrants” in Thuringia.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 62 Comments »

    What is to be done?

    Posted by Mrs. Davis on 26th August 2015 (All posts by )

    Just got done listening to the talking heads arguing whether gun control or more mental health treatment is a better way to prevent the next wacko shooter. I’ve got another idea.

    Accept that there are evil people in the world who will find a way to do bad things to others no matter how many laws we write. Even in China. Then figure out how to minimize the number of them who become cult figures to inspire other evil people.

    How about denying these nuts their 24 hours of fame. Don’t broadcast their picture or name their name on air. Let them die in the anonymity they so richly deserve without the opportunity to inspire the next nut. By all means name the victims and describe the beginning of the destruction and greif brought to their families and communities. But don’t give these shooters any publicity at all.

    It also seems like time to mandate that all live broadcasts are on 7 second delay.

    Posted in Civil Society, Law, The Press | 14 Comments »

    Healthy Lifestyle 24/7

    Posted by Mrs. Davis on 18th August 2015 (All posts by )

    The Wall Street Journal had a fascinating, to me, article on A Simple Fix for Drunken Driving called Sobriety 24/7 now implemented in North and South Dakota, and Montana.

    (DUI) Offenders in 24/7 Sobriety can drive all they want to, but they are under a court order not to drink. Every morning and evening, for an average of five months, they visit a police facility to take a breathalyzer test. Unlike most consequences imposed by the criminal justice system, the penalties for noncompliance are swift, certain and modest. Drinking results in mandatory arrest, with a night or two in jail as the typical penalty.
     
    The benefits of the program aren’t just confined to road safety; counties using 24/7 Sobriety experienced not only a 12% drop in repeat drunken-driving arrests but also a 9% drop in domestic-violence arrests. Unlike interventions that only constrain drinking while driving, the removal of alcohol from an offender’s life also reduces the incidence of other alcohol-related crimes.
     
    Why do repeat offenders change their behavior in response to relatively modest incentives? Patients continue using cocaine in the face of great harm to their families, livelihoods and physical health, yet they could still be induced to refrain from it when promised a small reward, like $10 for a negative urine test. The reward was relatively trivial, but it was unlike other potential consequences because it was both certain and immediate.
     
    It turns out that people with drug and alcohol problems are just like the rest of us. Their behavior is affected much more by what is definitely going to happen today than by what might or might not happen far in the future, even if the potential future consequences are more serious.

    Today we were talking to a big data company that can extract enormous amounts of information from your cell phone and make even more incredible inferences about your life style. How long will it be before your wearable will have a bluetooth connection to your phone to transmit all kinds of information on your biologic state? Certainly within two decades, possibly less. It will be able to monitor your body function and relate it to the unhealthy lifestyle choices you made in the last 24 hours.

    At least half of our medical costs are the result of behavior that will not happen today and might or might not happen far in the future. Let’s assume that insurance costs $5,000 per person, probably not far off. Would you sign up for a policy that cost only $2,500 but required you to wear the monitor system and took $10 from your checking account and told you what you did the day before to warrant it any time you engaged in sufficiently unhealthy life style? It’s coming within years to auto insurance. I can’t imagine living in that world. That’s why it’s good we are mortal. One can only take a limited amount of change. And progress requires change.

    Somewhere Mary Baker Eddy and BF Skinner are smiling.

    Posted in Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Current Events, Human Behavior, Law Enforcement, Leftism, Political Philosophy | 27 Comments »

    Was Ethan Allen a wing nut?

    Posted by Mrs. Davis on 8th August 2015 (All posts by )

    First Bernie Sanders, now this:

    Now that Vermont has a mandate to get 75 percent of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2032, residents will have to ditch automobiles and embrace a whole new way of life, the state’s top renewable energy CEO says.
     
    “We’re probably going to have to abandon the car,” David Blittersdorf, president of All Earth Renewables, told Addison County Democrats in a recent presentation titled “Vermont’s Renewable Energy Future.
     
    “The idea that we’re going to be flying around in airplanes — it’s one of the worst consumers of energy and emitting carbon. … I tell my kids … if you’re going to travel, travel now. Don’t wait 50 years. It’s going to cost you 10 times as much for every one of those flights.”

    It’s as though Julian Stanley never lived.

    Posted in Economics & Finance, Energy & Power Generation, Environment, Just Unbelievable, Leftism | 12 Comments »

    Astounding if correct

    Posted by Mrs. Davis on 19th July 2015 (All posts by )

    This article, if correct, should send shivers down the spine of any American. It is as though the government learned nothing from the Edward Snowden debacle.

    A key part of President Obama’s legacy will be the fed’s unprecedented collection of sensitive data on Americans by race. The government is prying into our most personal information at the most local levels, all for the purpose of “racial and economic justice

    Unbeknown to most Americans, Obama’s racial bean counters are furiously mining data on their health, home loans, credit cards, places of work, neighborhoods, even how their kids are disciplined in school — all to document “inequalities” between minorities and whites.

    The goal is not laudable and the means are excretory. Barack Obama has set back progress in race relations by 50 years through his constant efforts to divide us into warring factions instead of uniting us as individuals from around the world united by our founding ideas. He wants to turn us into a version of Europe instead of improving on it. If the American people accept this, then being American no longer means what I was brought up to believe it did. I certainly hope SCOTUS overturns Affirmative Action next term. Otherwise it’s back to tribal competition.

    Posted in Leftism, Libertarianism, Obama, Politics | 13 Comments »

    I’m thankful for Franklin Roosevelt

    Posted by Mrs. Davis on 27th June 2015 (All posts by )

    It’s hard for me to believe but I’ve finally found a reason to be thankful for FDR. Were it not for him there would not be a 22nd Amendment. And were there no 22nd Amendment, Obama would be running again and would win for the same reasons he won the last two times. Every cloud has a silver lining.

    Thanks Frank.

    On the other hand, we are probably looking forward to the most interfering and disruptive ex-Presidency since…

    Posted in History, Politics, Predictions, Uncategorized | 8 Comments »

    Baltimore’s Lose-Lose choice

    Posted by Mrs. Davis on 2nd May 2015 (All posts by )

    Now that charges have been brought against the 6 officers involved Baltimore’s streets will return to their state of a month ago. But there will be a trial and that trial will have a significant impact on the direction of Baltimore’s future. The trial has three possible outcomes:

    First, the trial can be seen by most to have been fair and just.

    Second, the trial results in acquittals seen to be unjust by the city black community.

    Third, the trial can result in convictions seen outside Baltimore as unjust.

    The first seems least likely based on Ms Mosby’s performance announcing the charges on May Day. But in the event the prosecution and trial are depoliticized Baltimore could resume its leisurely contraction into a bedroom community for Washington D. C.

    But if either the second or third options eventuate they could turn Baltimore into a much different place. Acquittals would reignite rioting on the scale of 1968. A kangaroo court would indicate that the rule of law had degenerated into tribal justice. In either event, the abandonment of Baltimore by private employers and what’s left of its middle class would accelerate.

    Headquarters are important to a community. They provide the leaders who are committed to the health of the community. When the head of every organization has eyes on promotion to a bigger job closer to headquarters there is not the continuity or commitment necessary to make the long term investments to support the young and less fortunate in the community. Today of the 25 largest employers headquartered in Baltimore only three are not education, government or healthcare related; T. Rowe Price, the mutual fund company, and Broadway Services and Abacus, security guard and janitorial contracting firms. Johns Hopkins won’t be able to do it alone.

    This lack of headquarters also indicates that there is little economic reason for Baltimore to exist. The primary force in Baltimore is inertia leading to ever greater entropy. All solutions are temporary and Baltimore no longer solves a problem.

    So, if Baltimore’s judicial environment begins to look more and more like Dodge City circa 1880 and it has little economic opportunity, who will stay? Disinvestment and declining tax base will result in inadequate funds to provide even minimal services to an increasingly needy and unassimilated population. Financial support will increasingly come from sources other than the city itself, primarily the Federal government. Sounds like an Indian reservation to me. And Baltimore will not be alone in this transition, only first.

    When I lived there the local brew, Natty Boh, advertised to its market as the Land of Pleasant Living. Now it ain’t even got charm, hon.

    Posted in Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Law | 18 Comments »

    flation, de or in?

    Posted by Mrs. Davis on 5th April 2015 (All posts by )

    Conversable Economist Timothy Taylor discusses the effects of various types of deflation on economic growth. Deflations were frequent until the Great Depression. Since then we have fought deflation through continual monetary expansion thinking that would ensure growth at the acceptable cost of inflation. Evidence is mounting that this assumption is not grounded in fact and that there can be real economic growth during a period of price deflation as was true during the end of the 19th century.

    There is a moral dimension in addition to the economic. Policy choices invariably create winners and losers. Choosing an inflationary monetary policy rewards debtors and penalizes savers. By pursuing a constantly inflationary monetary policy we have become a nation of debtors and a debtor nation. Is this really the appropriate choice for the richest nation in the world? What are the implications of pushing individuals toward borrowing instead of saving? Does a debtor look forward to the future with the same confidence as a saver? Or is the debtor’s attention focused on current consumption, with the future being another day?

    We need a return to hard money not more easy money.

    Posted in Economics & Finance | 16 Comments »

    What will happen to privacy

    Posted by Mrs. Davis on 2nd December 2014 (All posts by )

    The earliest use of privacy in the OED appears in the 17th century. According to Google books Ngram Viewer it constituted 0.000432% (which I will hereafter show as 4.32/10K) of words in books around 1600. By 1605 it no longer appears in Ngram until 1641 when it reappears at 0.14/10K rising to 7.37/10K in 1664. It then fell to 3.16/10K in 1700 and 2.33/10K in 1720 where it bumped around 2.5/10K for the next two centuries with a high of 3.28 in 1824.

    In 1890 Brandeis and Warren published “The Right to Privacy” in the Harvard Law Review. In 1928 Brandeis wrote a dissent in the case of Olmstead v. U.S. in which he argued that the warrantless wiretapping of a bootlegger constituted a violation of his right to privacy:

    Whenever a telephone line is tapped, the privacy of the persons at both ends of the line is invaded and all conversations between them upon any subject, and, although proper, confidential and privileged, may be overheard. Moreover, the tapping of one man’s telephone line involves the tapping of the telephone of every other person whom he may call or who may call him. As a means of espionage, writs of assistance and general warrants are but puny instruments of tyranny and oppression when compared with wire-tapping…

    (The makers of our Constitution) conferred, as against the Government, the right to be let alone—the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men. To protect that right, every unjustifiable intrusion by the Government upon the privacy of the individual, whatever the means employed, must be deemed a violation of the Fourth Amendment. And the use, as evidence in a criminal proceeding, of facts ascertained by such intrusion must be deemed a violation of the Fifth.

    But it was not until Griswold v. Connecticut in 1965 that the Supreme Court recognized “that specific guarantees in the Bill of Rights have penumbras, formed by emanations from those guarantees that help give them life and substance” to overrule a Connecticut law prohibiting the prescription and sale of birth control devices violating the right of marital privacy. Soon after in 1967 Olmstead was overruled in Katz v. U. S.

    What brought about that change of opinion? In 1920 the use of the word privacy began an exponential increase from 2.68/10K in 1920 to 4.14/10K in 1950 to 7.55/10K in 1970 to 14.19/10K in 1990 cresting at 21.01/10K in 2003 before declining to 18.9/10K in 2008 (the latest year available). This tracks to the number of automobiles per person which grew from 86/1,000 people in 1920 to 286/K in 1950 to 478/K in 1970 to 717/K in 1990 cresting at 823/K in 2007 and declining to 801/K in 2012. Not a coincidence as the automobile brought greater freedom of movement to almost every American than had ever existed for any person before. With that freedom of movement came the ability to quickly go to strange communities with greater anonymity. And the ability to commute from the suburbs, where people no longer lived cheek by jowl in multi-family dwellings with attached walls or as part of an integrated rural community.

    So what is happening to our concept of privacy with word frequency 10% in five years from 2003 to 2008? Perhaps it has something to do with the decline in popularity of driving among the young. The percentage of 25-29 year olds holding drivers licenses declined from 94% in 1994 to 90% in 2002 to 86% in 2012. Or the growth of American Facebook users from 1 million at the end of 2004 to 169 million in 2013. And the willingness of those users to make public virtually anything about themselves for the world to see and even more about their friends.

    Considering that it took only 39 years for wire tapping to go from being morally questionable but not illegal to being unconstitutional, it will be interesting to see how our concept of a right to privacy evolves.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments »

    China Syndrome comes home to roost.

    Posted by Mrs. Davis on 19th October 2014 (All posts by )

    Two viruses are making the news these days. One, Ebola hemorrhagic fever has infected two in the United States with no deaths yet. It has created wide spread concern bordering on panic. The other, Non-Polio Enterovirus D 68, appears to have infected 825 this year and been directly responsible for at least one death and indirectly responsible for many others, primarily among children. It has generated comparatively little media attention and very little panic. Why the difference?

    First the victims of D 68 are primarily children, Ebola also strikes adults. As a culture we no longer value children as much as we once did. Children are an option, almost a luxury. They have become more expensive than most luxuries we consume. Perhaps it is because the high cost to rear a child is reflective of the damage we humans are doing to the planet Or because so few of them die at an early age as compared to the past. And I suspect that childlessness is far more prevalent among our media elite opinion makers. In any case, few children vote and so they don’t really matter to policy makers.

    Second, D 68 generally kills indirectly by weakening the child so that pneumonia or some other respiratory illness can be the cause of death. Ebola eats you alive! I’ve seen it on TV! And it is a terrible new way to die unlike ways we’ve died before.

    Finally, WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE. D 68 is poorly understood and we have no idea how prevalent it is in the population or how many childhood deaths it has contributed to. And it’s non-Polio. But we know Ebola has a 50-70% fatality rate among those who contract it in African third world countries. After all it’s hemorrhagic fever. We’re going to bleed to death. So, if it gets loose here we could have millions of deaths like that! But we actually have all the tools we need in our public health system to prevent it from spreading widely, once we get the Bozos out of power. So it’s highly unlikely that this outbreak will spread among the general population.

    It’s a very small probability of a terribly frightening event. And some folks have used the propensity of people to exaggerate the possibility of catastrophic outcomes to further their political goals. I’m thinking of nuclear power, an energy source that has killed no one in the US. Compared to the coal industry, which routinely contributes to the death of both its producers and consumers, nuclear power is harmless. However, some used Three Mile Island to shut down the development of power plants that could have cushioned us from the effects of the OPEC cartel. Or how about the Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) fraud? Or the reaction to a terrible but unrepeated terror bombing? The public has been taught to fear by leaders who want to harness public opinion to support their political goals.

    Now comes Ebola. True, a threat. But a highly improbable one. Except when the incompetence of our elite leaders is made abundantly clear for all to see. And then those leaders have the audacity to be surprised when a formerly courageous people are reduced to trembling? The chickens are coming home to roost.

    Posted in Current Events, Deep Thoughts, Ebola, Health Care, Human Behavior, Science, Statistics, Terrorism, Tradeoffs | 23 Comments »

    Generational Challenges

    Posted by Mrs. Davis on 16th October 2014 (All posts by )

    We know how to combat Ebola effectively as the Firestone Plantation demonstrates. But, in its drive to multiply Ebola has an ally in our decaying culture and its abandonment of personal responsibility and imposition of penalties for violating cultural norms. Not all such actions result in the spread of the disease but the spread depends on a sufficient number of such actions. The question we should be asking is where we will find the will to properly combat this disease.

    Let’s start with Patient Zero. He knew he had been exposed to Ebola and I strongly suspect he came to America to obtain the best care he could. Can’t blame him for that at all. I’d spend $3,400 to survive. However, he does not appear to be one of the Liberian 1 percenters, so the question arises, where did he get the sum, which must be an enormous expenditure to one of the 99 percent in a country whose average annual income is $450? Somebody else probably paid to bring him into the country illegally to gain access to our medical system. Who was it? Is anybody investigating to find out? Would any action be taken if we knew whom it was? We all know how unlikely that is. So the person or persons who have paid to import Ebola into the US will not be held accountable.

    And Patient Zero was not held accountable by society for his action in deceitfully spreading the disease. He was wanted in Liberia for lying on his exit papers. We could have put him in a Hazmat suit and flown him back to Liberia to face charges. Instead we gave him an entire floor of a major metropolitan hospital. And I doubt he had insurance.

    Then there’s Dr. (and I use the title advisedly) Nancy Snyderman. She goes to Liberia with her news crew and returns when one of them is infected with the disease. She agrees to a voluntary quarantine that she soon violates to go get takeout from her local restaurant. If I were in her shoes, the last place I would be is in a confined car with friends in public. I’d find a place to stay, away from my family, alone for three weeks, and eat take out delivered to my door step. But Nancy doesn’t need to do that. She can take the chance that she is exposing the nation to this virus to satisfy her culinary cravings. And what sanctions does she face? A State order of mandatory quarantine and a public apology. No doubt she’ll be back on the air at the end of the 21 days pontificating on the disease she might have spread.

    Nurse 2 finds she has a fever. She calls the CDC to get permission to do what she suspects she shouldn’t. And she gets it! Just so she can go home on an airplane potentially exposing hundreds to the disease. Do you want someone who exercises this kind of judgment making literal life and death decisions for you? And who gave her permission to fly? Why is that person still employed at the CDC? Do they not take this outbreak seriously?

    Finally there is Dr. Frieden. Clearly his agency failed to prepare the nation’s health care system to deal with this crisis. And now his risible statements about the situation are making him the Baghdad Bob of Ebola. He has become ineffective as a public leader and his continued presence serves to increase panic, not inspire confidence. But he continues in office.

    These are all individuals making decisions that they think are in their best interest. And because they anticipate no penalty for violating societal norms.

    This prevalence of irresponsibility did not happen overnight. For 80 years we have been creating a culture where the few do not have to bear the burden for their actions or chance events. Instead the burden is spread lightly on the many so that the few can have security. This can work as long as the few are few and the security is provided mainly for chance events. But as more of the few are protected from their actions and more become members of the few, the system creates moral hazard and a resulting decline of personal responsibility. As we have become rich and secure we have become more compassionate, a luxury we can afford as we can do so with other people’s money.

    Strauss & Howe posit that each Civic generation must overcome a challenge that threatens the very existence of the nation. Having overcome the challenge, the generation is revered for its courage. However, the Civics are led to success by a Prophetic generation that makes the decisions upon which success depends. Though the Greatest Generation did the fighting and dying in World War II, it was the Missionary Generation that made the decisions to defeat Germany first, demand unconditional surrender, and totally mobilize the economy in support of the war effort. These were not easy decisions and different decisions could have been made with much different costs and consequences.

    I have often wondered what challenge my Millennial children, a Civic generation, would face. War in the Middle East is nasty, but ultimately a nuisance, not an existential threat. War with China seems unlikely and would be accidental and tragic like World War I, not existential like World War II. Ebola may be their challenge. And I fear for the leadership they will receive from their Boomer elders. Having lived as a compassionate culture that increasingly prefers not to hold individuals accountable for the actions Boomers may not have the strength to make the unpleasant decisions necessary to defeat Ebola. That seems to be the case so far. Both at the bottom, where individuals make decisions without consideration for their wider effects and at the top where the leaders a majority of us elect behave similarly. Ebola will not be defeated by compassion and selfishness. Perhaps Ebola will be the existential threat the Millenials must overcome. Will the Boomers provide the leadership?

    Posted in Big Government, Civil Society, Current Events, Ebola | 14 Comments »