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  • Affirmatively Furthering Food Deserts?

    Posted by Stephen Karlson on October 28th, 2020 (All posts by )

    In his attempts to close the sale, Our President has tossed in an appeal to “suburban women,” something along the lines of “I’m protecting your suburbs” with references either to “projects” or “Section 8.”
    On [August 16] The Wall Street Journal published a joint op-ed by [housing secretary Ben] Carson and President Donald Trump in which the two warned that eliminating single-family zoning would import urban dysfunction into thriving suburban communities.
    Not surprisingly, he’s getting called out for that sort of language.  “Inclusive and equitable suburbs build more affordable housing, advance fairness in education, and centers environmental justice.”  Read the rest of this entry »
     

    Posted in Civil Society, Current Events, Environment, Tradeoffs, Urban Issues | No Comments »

    Political violence

    Posted by Assistant Village Idiot on October 26th, 2020 (All posts by )

    I am caught up with my reposts with this one.

     I observed decades ago, and reported in the first years of my own blog, that there is a fundamental difference between conservative violence and liberal political violence.  This is more apparent when one gets to look at the psychiatric cases, where the usual filters are off. The left goes on offense. The paranoid leftist fantasizes about going out and assassinating someone, or going and destroying some stronghold of what they think is oppressing the people. I have heard them say “I think about skinning George Bush alive,” or being caught in a plan to blow up a federal courthouse.  As things progress, they may have developed a grudge against Ted Kennedy, who they used to work for but the campaign fired them, or against Hillary Clinton, who they just don’t believe is responding properly to the 100 letters they have written her appealing for help. The press uses such dodges to pretend the person who showed up with a bomb-vest at Clinton headquarters was actually some sort of conservative, but this is just a dodge. Yet even those are exceptions.  Most stay true to form and want to set a housing development on fire because it harms the environment or break windows at a drive-by of Republican headquarters or a military recruitment center.

    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Miscellaneous | 10 Comments »

    The Princess Who Went Her Own Way (Finale)

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on October 26th, 2020 (All posts by )

    (Continued from History Friday: as Paul Harvey used to say, This is the rest of the story!)

    The Dowager Tsarina Marie, Olga Kulikovsky, her sister Xenia and her husband and family all traveled to the Crimea, where they lived for a time at the estate near Yalta owned by Xenia’s husband with other members of the Imperial family. While there in the Crimea, Olga gave birth to her first child, a son named Tihon. They all were under house arrest and eventually tried by a revolutionary court and sentenced to death. Quarrels between rival groups of local Bolsheviks and developments in the war – the war with Germany and the internal war between Red and White Russian factions prevented enactment of that sentence and allowed for the escape of the surviving Romanovs from Russia. Olga’s mother and the remainder of the Imperial family, their friends and loyal retainers were evacuated on a British warship. Olga and Colonel Kulikovsky and their baby son did not want to leave Russia, and with the help of a Cossack former Imperial bodyguard, sought safety in the that bodyguard’s home village in the Crimea. They were safe there for a time, as the area was held by the White Russian faction. There, she gave birth to a second son, Guri, but the White faction was already losing control of the territory they held, and at the end of 1919, the Kulikovskys had to leave Russia for good. With the assistance of the Danish consul in Novorossiysk on the Black Sea. Olga’s family traveled to Denmark, by way of a refugee camp in Turkey, and Belgrade in Yugoslavia, where they rejoined the Dowager Tsarina Marie. Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Diversions, History, Russia | 12 Comments »

    Fundamental Fairness, and Voting For Trump

    Posted by Assistant Village Idiot on October 25th, 2020 (All posts by )

    There is a joke which is actually semi-serious advice among lawyers: 

    “If the facts are against you, argue the law. If the law is against you, argue the facts. If the law and the facts are against you, pound the table and yell like hell”

    It is first attributed in this form to the poet Carl Sandburg, but likely long predates him.

    I have heard something similar argued about “fundamental fairness,” that it is a doctrine that is argued by an attorney when she has nothing better to put forward for her client; a pleading that “Your honor, don’t you think that this just seems more just?” That is an exaggeration, certainly.  Such appeals, in aggregate more than individually, are persuasive as culture changes, and have likely improved justice in the long run.  Just because it is often abused does not mean that there is nothing to it.  Wolves don’t hide in wolves’ clothing, I used to say.  What would be the point of that?  They hide in sheep’s clothing because there is actual innocence in the world.

    So it is a suspect approach, but not wholly without merit.  I have at least four attorneys who are regular readers, and they are free to correct me on the point. I will leapfrog in this discussion a bit, so if I seem to be suddenly veering off course, please understand. 

    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Miscellaneous | 12 Comments »

    Is Free Speech Too Exhausting?

    Posted by David Foster on October 25th, 2020 (All posts by )

    A group of Duke Law students, demanding the disinvitation of visiting speaker, used the phrase ‘we are tired.’  Jonathan Turley remarks:

    Those three words sum up a great deal of the anti-free speech movement growing on our campuses. Students and faculty have grown tired of free speech. Opposing views are now treated as threats and intolerable for students.

    It does seem that a lot of people these days–especially, perhaps, people of college age–find it incredibly wearying and even threatening to be presented with any views that contradict their own.  Reading the above, I was immediately reminded of a remark that a young woman made (to writer Ida Wylie) during the Nazi era:

    We Germans are so happy.  We are free from freedom”

    There definitely seems to be a reaction against free expression going on in America today…how strong it is and how deep it goes remains to be seen.  But as one indicator, a survey by YouGov shows that 43% of those who identify as Liberals favor firing an executive who *privately* donated money to Trump, and 22% of those who identify as Conservatives favor firing an executive who privately donated to Biden…the numbers are 50% and 36% for *strong* liberals and conservatives respectively.

    What are the causes for the apparently-growing hostility toward free speech in the US?  Part of it, perhaps, is a hankering for security.  David Brooks suggests that:

    The values of the Millennial and Gen Z generations that will dominate in the years ahead are the opposite of Boomer values: not liberation, but security; not freedom, but equality; not individualism, but the safety of the collective; not sink-or-swim meritocracy, but promotion on the basis of social justice…Distrustful people try to make themselves invulnerable, armour themselves up in a sour attempt to feel safe… start to see threats that aren’t there.

    I’m not generally much of a fan of Brooks’ analyses and conclusion, but even a stopped (analog) clock is right twice a day.  Perhaps he has a valid point here?

    Another factor, I suspect, is changes in family structure.  Kids who are put in a day-care situation at a very early age may develop a lifelong or at least long-term tendency to identify with the group…whatever that group might be…more than those who are raised in a traditional family situation, and especially so if there is only one parent in the home.  As one data point, here’s an interesting article by someone who was raised in a collective situation in an early Israeli kibbutz.

    And perhaps the threats and realities of Islamic terrorism have also had an influence…for 20 years now, there has been a constant (if low-level) sense that ‘if you say anything that the radical Islamists don’t like, they may kill you.’  Has this led to a habit of speech-guarding that has been generalized into many aspects of life?

     

     

    Posted in Civil Liberties, Deep Thoughts, Human Behavior, Israel, USA | 37 Comments »

    Random Pic

    Posted by Jonathan on October 24th, 2020 (All posts by )

    Miami night fishing

     

    Posted in Photos | 2 Comments »

    Transition to Farming in Europe

    Posted by Assistant Village Idiot on October 24th, 2020 (All posts by )

    Just a conceptual framework here. 

    Just so you know going in, whenever reading up on the topic.  There are ritual incantations by all the sources that depend entirely on PC money – National Geographic, Smithsonian – that must be made whenever discussing European genetics.  They must recite that there are no pure European races dating back endlessly with continuous presence until the present day.  Nay, nay.  Nazis, thought that, and you don’t want to be like them.  Lots of other people thought so, too, and they were also racist.  All of your recent European ancestors were likely racist, and good people don’t even come close to thinking like that anymore. Once you understand that this is part of their common religion and they have to say this at the opening of every academic exercise (sort of like everyone saying the Pledge of Allegiance at town meeting, or singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” at sporting events) it becomes more endurable.  It is comforting to them, making the appropriate obeisance before proceeding.  Because it’s a new religion, they are still working things out. They see heretics everywhere.

    Then they go on to explain to you that until very recently, the major sources for European genetics do come from three waves which stabilised thousands of years ago.  But don’t get any idea that this means anything.  Those were really, really different groups, you know, and there were groups within groups, like Celtic and Slavic tribes both being Indo-European, and groups within those groups. So no one is pure. Got that, you potentially fascist reader?

    The first group in were hunter-gatherers 45,000 years ago. Unsurprising, as there was nothing but h-g’s at that point, no farmers anywhere. They outcompeted but did interbreed some with Neandertals, possibly because they were meaner, or maybe smarter. Glaciers came and went and areas were depopulated and repopulated. Who they were has been murky, but we are starting to get some initial narrative. It’s complicated, but a group we call European Hunter-Gatherers, especially West Hunter Gatherers (WHG) became the temporary Indigenous Peoples of their day. Europeans still have lots of that ancestry, as you can note from the Distribution maps of European Admixture I linked to a couple of days ago. 

    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Miscellaneous | 5 Comments »

    Sadd Colors

    Posted by Assistant Village Idiot on October 23rd, 2020 (All posts by )

    History Friday- yes, bring it back! I had forgotten. I only have a side dish for this potluck, but here it is.

    *****

    The orangey-brown you see on the leaves now is a puritan color.  We call it russet. It was then called “Philly Mort,” a corruption of the French feuille morte.* They preferred the restrained, subdued hues called sadd colors, which those who have read Albion’s Seed may remember. Puritan hats were black. Black was otherwise considered a bit pretentious, or at least over-formal.  Clerics adopted it as time went on, reflecting their increased self-regard. But for everyday, the colors which occurred in nature were considered acceptable, though even a few of those were suspect.

    Consider, for example, the dull magenta which Harvard calls “crimson,” and the dull blue and gray of Yale, or the dark Dartmouth green.  And of course Brown has the color…brown. The colleges and universities in other parts of the country have more exciting colors. Here, it is rust, puce, tawny, forest green, and other somber shades.

    Those are the old New England colors you could still find until after WWII.  Immediately afterwards, all those gaudy golf/Bar Harbor/LL Bean colors suddenly became the mark of the moneyed, salt-water elite. I don’t know why, but I suspect that the universality of the dull colors even among the poor here created a counter-reaction of adoption of shades that had heretofore been favored by the gaudy urban and ethnic poor.  Just a guess on my part.  But you will remember the preppy look of the 70s and 80s which tended toward pink and bright green. Or lemony yellows, Nantucket Red, and all the rest. 

    *There is a minority opinion that philly mort was an even duller, gray-brown color, but I am following the decisions of Plimoth Plantation on this.

     

    Posted in Miscellaneous | 3 Comments »

    History Friday: The Princess Who Went Her Own Way

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on October 23rd, 2020 (All posts by )

    (History Friday is back – this is part one, of two.)

    She wasn’t actually a princess, through it is the usual understanding that the sons and daughters of a ruling monarch are princes and princesses. But they did things differently in Russia; up until the Russian Revolution, the legitimate offspring of the Tsar were grand dukes or grand duchesses, born to the purple and far outranking mere princes and princesses, who seem to have been, in the Russian scheme of things, merely mid-ranked nobility.

    This grand duchess was named Olga; the youngest of five children of Tsar Alexander III and his wife, the Tsarina Maria Feodorovna, originally Princess Dagmar, daughter of King Christian IX of Denmark. (Her older sister Alix was married to Albert, Prince of Wales.) Born in June, 1882, the infant Olga was not in the most robust of health. Her father as the Tsar of all Russians, and her mother being a veritable whirlwind when it came to duties social and administrative, Olga and her next-oldest brother Michael were raised day to day by governesses and tutors, as was customary for the upper classes. They had a comfortable, but rather Spartan lifestyle at Gatchina, the country palace of the Romanovs. She and her brother slept on plain cots, ate porridge for breakfast, bathed in cold water, rarely saw other children and had daily lessons – and private time for walks in the nearby woods with their formidable father. Olga excelled at painting and sketching – and in fact, for the remainder of her life, most always had a paintbrush in her hand, and as an adult earned a modest living from her watercolors. (a selection of her watercolors is here) Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Arts & Letters, Deep Thoughts, Diversions, Europe, History | 22 Comments »

    Where Your Treasure Goes – Obverse

    Posted by Assistant Village Idiot on October 22nd, 2020 (All posts by )

    I have not done much cross-posting here in the last month. I will do a bunch over the next week, of things I should have put in here. But not more than one per day. That seems excessive.

     Matthew 6:21 “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  Even those of us who know the verse still respond as if only the inverse were true, that we give our treasure to where our heart inclines.  That latter is certainly true, but Jesus is teaching the interesting principle that if we give something, or commit something, our heart is much more likely to follow.  This is why salespeople or charities or organisations try to get you to commit any small thing – even a smile or a nod can be a down payment. 

    Churches want to make sure that all is grace and no one is left out for inability to pay – but teachers of adult Sunday School notice that people are more likely to do the homework and participate if they have paid for the book than if you give it for free.  We grow more attached to something if we have bought it rather than received it. There are all sorts of applications – if college students male and female are set across a table from each other and included in their chitchat, are required to confess one secret or slight embarrassment, the find they like each other and have a higher probability for going on a date after than if that requirement is left out.

    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Miscellaneous | 5 Comments »

    MERV 13 Filters and Unrealistic Expectations

    Posted by Dan from Madison on October 22nd, 2020 (All posts by )

    So here we are around nine months into this covid deal, and things are getting more unrealistic by the day.

    We are hearing, but don’t have proof, that municipalities and other governmental orgs are requiring MERV 13 filters for buildings. Which brings us to a couple of problems.

    I run an HVAC distributor and we are getting lots of calls for MERV 13 filters. We represent four filter companies. Two aren’t taking orders for MERV 13 product and of the other two, our best lead time is 4-6 months. For those who want to wait, we are encouraging them to buy a years supply and just store them.

    We are even having trouble getting our standard pleated MERV 10 product due to factory production slowdowns because of covid. So we are getting some of the shooting of the messenger by our customers, but we can handle that OK.

    Why the long lead times? Besides the crushing demand, the same companies that make media for masks, make media for MERV 13 filters. You can guess where priority is right now. Also, nobody has told me if the filters, presumably loaded with covid, will be someday declared a hazardous waste by OSHA, making their changeout completely ridiculous. Not to mention that MERV 13 filters create enormous amounts of static pressure, which will be terrible for a lot of systems, especially older ones. There are already rumblings of certain equipment manufacturers engineering departments getting ready to go to war with the authorities mandating these filters, and declaring “no warranty” on equipment failure due to lack of return air and MERV 13 filters putting their equipment out of engineering spec. This is super fun.

    We have been recommending for a long time that people use standard pleats in combination with a bipolar ionizer or UV product, both of which in the past few months have received covid killing certification. We are hoping this MERV 13 train isn’t fully out of the station just yet and that everyone will start to get a bit more realistic. But since it is 2020 we aren’t expecting much.

     

    Posted in Business, COVID-19 | 16 Comments »

    The October Surprise

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on October 21st, 2020 (All posts by )

    So the concept of an “October Surprise” in an election year is so hoary a notion that pundits have evolved that name for it; a planned last-minute revelation before an election (usually of the presidential-variety) of something so scandalous and disreputable that it upends the expected campaign win of the candidate the ‘Surprise” is aimed at. The Rathergate – Texas Air National Guard memo, which Dan Rather and 60 Minutes unleashed on George W. Bush just before the 2004 election is the example which springs first to mind, and never mind that it was launched in September. It was still a desperate partisan attempt to upturn an election. Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Big Government, Civil Society, Conservatism, Crony Capitalism, Current Events, Predictions, The Press, Trump, USA | 29 Comments »

    Dancing

    Posted by Jonathan on October 18th, 2020 (All posts by )

    Chicagoboyz enjoy the occasional turn around the dance floor, but can only dream of cutting the rug with the panache of this young couple.
     

     

    Posted in Diversions, Video | 6 Comments »

    A Very Revealing Bidenism

    Posted by David Foster on October 16th, 2020 (All posts by )

    In an interview which has received surprisingly little attention, Joe Biden talked about the Democratic Party’s political strategy:

    Well, look what’s happened. Look what started to seep in, beginning and probably even with candidates during our administration. We stopped showing up at the Polish American club. We stopped showing up, and we all went to you, the really smart people. We had a new kind of coalition we were putting together. College-educated women and college men and boom, boom, boom and so on.

    One could conclude from this that Biden doesn’t see people of Polish descent as being among the ‘really smart people’.  I guess he probably never heard of Frederick Chopin, Marie Curie, Nicolaus Copernicus, Stanislaus Ulam, or the Polish cryptologists who made the first breakthroughs in deciphering the Enigma code. And Biden’s remark is another example at the way he jumps at the categorization of people…furthermore, he wants to ensure that people stay within expected roles of the categories into which he assigns them.  (“If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t Black.”) And this kind of categorization-obsession is characteristic of today’s entire Democratic Party.

    Back in 2011, I quoted AJP Taylor on the combination of the ethnic divisions and excessive centralization in the Austro-Hungarian Empire:

    The Austrian state suffered from its strength: it had never had its range of activity cut down during a successful period of laissez-faire, and therefore the openings for a national conflict were far greater. There were no private schools or hospitals, no independent universities; and the state, in its infinite paternalism, performed a variety of services from veterinary surgery to the inspecting of buildings. The appointment of every school teacher, of every railway porter, of every hospital doctor, of every tax-collector, was a signal for national struggle. Besides, private industry looked to the state for aid from tariffs and subsidies; these, in every country, produce ‘log-rolling,’ and nationalism offered an added lever with which to shift the logs. German industries demanded state aid to preserve their privileged position; Czech industries demanded state aid to redress the inequalities of the past. The first generation of national rivals had been the products of universities and fought for appointment at the highest professional level: their disputes concerned only a few hundred state jobs. The generation which followed them was the result of universal elementary education and fought for the trivial state employment which existed in every village; hence the more popular national conflicts at the turn of the century.

    The combination of the Dems’ categorization and their drive for government control would likely push the United States in the same direction–and already has, to some extent–although with even more fragmentation and resulting harm than with the case in Austria-Hungary.

    Not content with insulting Poles, Biden also said:

    All white guys are just basically, they don’t give a damn about women.

    …not clear why he restricted it to only white guys, but he also says “The people that don’t like equal pay are the people at the top of the heap,” so maybe he conflates “white guys” with “people at the top of the heap,” in a way paralleling his famos assertion that ““poor kids are just as bright and just as talented as white kids.”  The pattern is that Biden has a very strong need to put people into demographic slots as their primary identities…and to keep them there…and in that, he mirrors his party.

    Biden’s remarks also demonstrate how focused the Dems have become on people who think they are really smart, and whose self-perceived smartness is a core part of their personal identities.  In his rambling and rather confused statement, he seems to also be saying that this has gone too far, that this focus is costing them votes and that there actually are some smart people out there among the great unwashed.  But the reality is, the Dems have indeed focused their brand on college-educated and upwardly mobile individuals, and people are going to be rightly suspicious of any sharp turns in this brand identity.  Especially given Biden’s refusal to grasp (or at least to admit) the seriousness of the economic competition from China, which a lot of people identify as having cost themselves, or at least their friends, their jobs.

    Writing in the WSJ, William Galston draws an analogy between the present political conflicts and the 1896 election between William McKinley and Williams Jenning Bryan:

      (Bryan) championed the interests of debtors against creditors, and of agriculture and small towns against industrial capitalism and big cities.  In his famous ‘Cross of Gold speech to the 1896 Democratic convention, he intoned: ‘Burn down your cities and leave our farms, and your cities will spring up again; but destroy our farms, and the grass will grow in the streets of every city in the country.’  This Jeffersoniasm on steroids was a last stand against industrial production as the core of the US economy–and against the rise of cities as the center of American life.

    Galston continues: “Bryan’s defense of the countryside against the cities was focused and coherent, but it backfired.  He drove swing voters into the arms of the Republican Party.”  He argues that Donald Trump may turn out to be the William Jennings Bryan of our time, that “his relentless focus on his white working class base may short up Democratic support among minorities and drive suburban swing voters and college-educated women into the Democratic coalition…Over time, Americans with college degrees will increase their share of the electorate…When McKinley defeated Bryan, more than 40% of Americans worked on farms.  Today, even though farm production and exports have soared, only 1.5% of the workforce is in agriculture.  Manufacturing employment, which constituted more than 30% of the US workforce, in the 1950s, has declined to 8.8%, even as rising productivity allows industry to produce more with fewer workers…A new economy more focused on information and services is coming for reasons largely unrelated to public policy.”

    It’s an interesting analysis, but there are some problems with it.  For starters, it is quite inaccurate to assert that Trump has had a relentless focus on the white working class; he has focused on jobs and improved incomes for people of whatever ethnicity.  And I’d assert that the great increase in the share of Americans who have college degrees is not a future thing, but has already happened, and indeed has probably gone too far–there is beginning to be a reactions against the you-will-be-a-failure-without-college thinking, and a larger number of people are beginning to see that there are other respectable and reasonably lucrative career paths.  Similarly, the transition to an economy more focused on ‘information’ and ‘services’ has already happened to a considerable degree, and has resulted in too little emphasis on the manufacturing and resource segments of the economy…with dangerous implications, as indicated by a Chinese newspaper’s warning that China can  ‘plunge America into the mighty sea of coronavirus,’ by denying us pharmaceuticals and ingredients thereof.  And, as I pointed out in this post, we are also seeing offshoring in those information and services segments of the economy, and will undoubtedly be seeing more…with obvious impact on US employment in those segments. Galston also fails to note that the increasingly-obvious failure of Democratic approaches to governance and education, as seen major cities throughout the country, will surely have a long-term effect on political behavior of many people.

    Key points:

    –“Progressive” Democrats generally focus on putting people in demographic buckets as their core identities and keeping them there, and Biden reflects this view totally.

    –Democrats have long self-defined as the party for highly intelligent people, where ‘intelligent’ is defined largely in terms of educational connections, and this brand identity does set some limits on their appeal.  But Republicans, too, have a related issue which is limiting their appeal; there has to be more communication on why there are indeed highly intelligent people who choose to vote Republican and indeed for Trump.

     

     

     

     

     

    Posted in Leftism, Trump, USA | 42 Comments »

    When Big Tech Came for the NY POST – “Our 2020 Abbotabad Moment”

    Posted by Trent Telenko on October 16th, 2020 (All posts by )

    I’m writing this Chicagoboyz piece to clarify the moment we are living in with regards to the Techlords oppression of America’s 1st Amendment constitutional right to free speech on their social media platforms.

    I’m calling it “Our 2020 Abbotabad Moment” (see photo) because, like the SEAL Team 6 killing of Osama bin Laden in Abbotabad Pakistan, it was a Moment of Strategic Clarity about the nature of an oppressive & corrupt regime that cannot be unseen.

    In Pakistan’s case, it revealed a nationalist, separatist, tribal, and above all a terrorist-supporting regime rent by murderous religious and ethnic hatreds. One where the one thing all the leadership factions there can agree on is fear of India. Think of a nuclear-armed Somalia in the mountains, but one good enough at faking a government to get military & economic aid from stupid foreigners.

    By way of contrast,  Big Tech’s censorship of  the NY Post, the Trump campaign, Trump’s press spokeswomen, the GOP House Judiciary Committee and others, followed by the open endorsement of the “Free Press” on Twitter of these actions have showed we don’t have a “Free Press.”

    We don’t have a “Press” at all.

    We have OPRESSORS.

    They are the propaganda arm of an unelected & unaccountable elite that hates the American Republic.

    I’d call these people’s disregard for free speech “Unamerican Activities” but, point in fact, they are as American as the Ku Klux Klan.  Or more on-point, the Pinkerton men putting down the United Mine Workers.  Complete with Denver Channel Nine’s hiring of a Leftist activist as a security guard who subsequently murdered a Trump supporter at a protest they covered.

    If this were the movie “The Empire Strikes Back,” we would be at the point of the film where Lando Calrissian picks up the mike and says “Attention. This is Lando Calrissian. The Empire has taken control of the city; I advise everyone to leave before more Imperial troops arrive.

    Unfortunately, there is nowhere to run. The moment of strategic clarity the NY POST’s censorship has brought shows is this is no longer just a “9/11/2001 election.”

    We are on Sun Tzu’s “Desperate Ground” with a choice of acquiescence to enslavement by inches, or a fight for freedom where absolutely nothing is guaranteed, even if you “win.”

    And Sun Tzu advises that, on Desperate Ground…FIGHT.

     

    Posted in Anti-Americanism, Big Government, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Culture, Current Events, History, Miscellaneous, Morality and Philosphy, Politics | 25 Comments »

    Why I Like Ike

    Posted by Kevin Villani on October 15th, 2020 (All posts by )

    Why I Like Ike. The Greatest of the Greatest Generation followed by the Worst of the Worst.
    —-

    Dwight D. Eisenhower served during the Great War, lived through the Great Depression, and led the Allies to Victory in WW II. But perhaps Ike’s greatest contribution was his leadership as President of the United States, ensuring the peace and building America’s infrastructure while imposing additional sacrifices on his generation to eliminate the WWII debt burden, the failure to do so after the Great War being the primary cause of the next. His hard won legacy of freedom and democracy has been completely squandered over the last half century by fiscally irresponsible Baby Boom politicians.

    The Clinton Administration cut the deficit every year, averaging only .8% of GDP, the lowest since the Eisenhower Administration, leaving the budget in what was predicted by many at the time to be a permanent surplus. But the deficit during the Obama/Biden Administration averaged 5.9% of GDP, the largest since WW II, increasing the outstanding debt accumulated over the centuries by 70% and now exceeds 100%, the level at the end of WW II. The CBO projects that under existing law, including repeal of the 2017 tax cuts in 2025, that will double again to 200% of GDP over the next generation as the $200 trillion in unfunded liabilities continue coming due. State and local governments face similar unfunded liabilities that they are prevented from borrowing to fulfill, so subsequent federal bailouts as currently demanded will add to these federal totals. This CBO forecast implies declining middle class/middle age after-tax incomes even as debt and deficits balloon.

    The Biden Plan

    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Big Government, Economics & Finance, History, Politics, Public Finance, Tradeoffs, USA | 23 Comments »

    The Politicization of Yelp

    Posted by Ginny on October 14th, 2020 (All posts by )

    I noted recently the steps of twentieth century nations toward the abyss of totalitarianism; these were summed up in a Firing Line conversation with Richard Pipes.

    First, clear the stage for a one party state, then give omnipotent power within the state to the political police, and finally enforce that power with deadly terror and “re-education” camps.

    The last decades revealed the United States is not immune to the use of “political police” when the swamp – bureaucracy, media – is aligned with the executive, breeding a “one party state” (whether of city, state or country): governmental oppression of Tea Party and religious groups – using the great power of the IRS as well as EPA, OSHA, etc. – or arresting a hapless filmmaker after Benghazi, etc. Power changed, and the Russia hoax demonstrated swamp power alone could baffle and thwart executive and legislative power, leaving them at the mercy of institutions they theoretically led and funded.

    Then, in the petri dish of covid isolation and a presidential election summer, “woke” power grew. A friend e-mailed Yelp’s classification punishment for establishments bucking Portland’s politics. The service seemed useful if easily weighted, but some anarchists perceptively saw its potential as a map to bring the unwoke into line through violence. Clearly Rioters Trash Portland. . . But Black Owner Just Got the Last Word was the logical consequence. Of course, Yelp, as many grander and prouder institutions before it, lost credibility – but that was intended. Only the party, eventually, remains. Still, real men, real Americans, lead:

    But Jackson will have the last word. Not only are people of good will planning to eat at his restaurant as never before, but he told Fox News that the attack “solidified my Trump vote. I’m done with this weakness and we need some real strong leadership.”

    However the next paragraph is also telling; men like Jackson are fewer as the models and narratives that give us courage are destroyed as well:

    Day of Ragers also targeted the Oregon Historical Society, bashing windows and ripping out several historical items, leaving them trashed on the street.

    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Civil Liberties, Education, Elections, Human Behavior, Libertarianism, Political Philosophy, Politics, USA | 4 Comments »

    Worthwhile Watching

    Posted by David Foster on October 14th, 2020 (All posts by )

    A thoughtful video in which a young woman (who first worked as a teacher and later as a nurse) explains her reasons for walking away from the Democratic Party. Long, but interesting.

    1.4 million views and 32,000 subscribers so far.

     

    Posted in Conservatism, Education, Elections, Health Care, Human Behavior, Leftism, Video | 4 Comments »

    The Garden of Lies

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on October 14th, 2020 (All posts by )

    Last week I mused on how so many sports and entertainment figures were walking away from being entertaining to at least half the audience. All the money and most of the viewership in China must be just so much more enticing to the suits who produce movies and the front offices for guys who play sports professionally. The bed is made, let them now sleep in it seemed to be the reaction of commenters to that post. Now we’ll watch old movies, foreign movies, or even take up a fascinating new hobby – model railroading, gardening, building replicas of medieval weapons, raising chickens, remodeling the house from stem to stern. That kind of thing.

    Our establishment news media is going down the same road to irrelevancy; probably farther along down that road since they first got that head start. When was that? The first step from being impartial, to at least being seen as impartial; Was it in publicly yielding the victory in the Tet Offensive during the Vietnam War to the NVA, against the actual facts on the ground? Or when Woodward and Bernstein took down a president with the behind-the-scenes assistance of a disgruntled and resentful FBI administrator, giving inspiration to a whole generation of college-trained journos who lusted after being in the news spotlight themselves even more than actually relaying ‘just the facts.’ (And perhaps inspiring other resentful bureaucrats in more recent times on how best to slip the knife in, without ever leaving fingerprints; just leak to the nearest sympathetic journo-List.) Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Blogging, Current Events, History, Leftism, Obama, USA | 16 Comments »

    Signs and Portents

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on October 8th, 2020 (All posts by )

    In noting a pair of interesting and sort-of-related developments this last week, I am wondering if they are an indication of just how deeply angry ordinary Americans of a deplorably conservative bent are with the panjandrums who provide our entertainment, of the pro-sports and movie varieties. The first is the fact that ratings for the NBA finals are cratering, and other pro sports aren’t very far behind. The Commie Crud probably is discouraging physical attendance at games, for sure, and ostentatious displays of partisanship for Black Lives Matter on the part of players have definitely ruined any pleasure in watching games for viewers who just want to forget about politics and protest for a while. It’s also a very bad look for well-compensated and privileged Black players – a good few of whom are not precisely paragons of gentlemanly and law-abiding behavior themselves – to go on national television openly expressing solidarity with an assortment of Black thugs, addicts and criminals who have had fatal encounters with various police forces in the last couple of years.

    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Business, Civil Society, Conservatism, Culture, Current Events, Film, Leftism, Media, USA | 38 Comments »

    Random Pic

    Posted by Jonathan on October 6th, 2020 (All posts by )

     

    Posted in Photos | 4 Comments »

    Millions of 2020 Votes Will Be Stolen – How To Tell If Yours Is One

    Posted by Trent Telenko on October 5th, 2020 (All posts by )

    The Democratic Party’s vote-by-mail scheme (which is NOT the same as absentee ballots) and, worse, its previous and expanded “vote-harvesting” scheme, will steal millions of votes to re-elect Trump, and for Republican candidates, in the 2020 election. This is NOT counting fraudulent votes. This is stealing Republican votes by changing them to Democratic votes. Here is how they do it, and how you can determine if your vote is stolen. If this clear signal that your vote has been stolen appears, do not walk away quietly. FIGHT BACK! How to do that is also explained.

    Absentee ballots and vote-by-mail differ in that individual voters request absentee ballots for their current address, while mail-in-ballots (or “applications” for them) are automatically sent by state voting officials to every possible voter at their last-known address, even if they are dead or have moved away. And absentee ballots must be received by Election Day, while mail-in ballots in most states allowing them can be received days or even a week after the election and, depending on the state, do not require post-marks or other evidence that they were posted by election day. Every state allows absentee ballots, while there is a wide variation on mail-in votes. Some states don’t allow them at all, some states do only for 2020 due to COVID-19, some states send “applications” for them which voters purportedly fill out and return, and some states send every possible voter a ballot to be filled out and returned.

    Vote-harvesting lets people other than the US Postal Service deliver ballots purportedly filled out by voters to polling places, even hundreds of ballots at once. Vote-harvesting as allowed in California in 2018, and now in other states such as North Carolina, has no controls whatever against fraud by the people delivering the harvested ballots. Vote-harvesting is voter fraud pure and simple. No state allowing it is a democracy any more.

    Mail-in ballots are so vulnerable to fraud that the United States seems to be the only country in the world which allows them. The most common way the Democrats commit fraud with mail-in votes is made possible by a rule or practice that the “first ballot processed” by election officials from a particular voter is deemed the only official one.

    So if a fraudulent mail-in ballot, purportedly from a registered voter, is processed by election officials before the real voter votes in person, only the fraudulent mail-in ballot is counted.

    Sometimes the real voter finds out about this in the polling place – “You’ve already voted so we won’t give you a ballot” – and, if the voter complains, is given a provisional ballot to fill out, only the provisional ballot is mostly ignored when the robbed voter leaves. Sometimes provisional ballots are counted too, but so is the fraudulent mail-in one, so the real voter’s ballot is at best cancelled out. Here is an example of how that works in progress from the email of a Colorado friend who alerted one of my e-mail lists to this practice.

    Hey, I know this. I watched polls. Let me tell you, by the way, that year – 2012 – 1/3 of the people in my precinct in Colorado Springs ran into that. Our counterparts in Denver said 2/3 did.
     
    Which means that I guess dementia is rampant in Colorado. Coff. Because there’s no voter fraud, right.  That was, btw, the election in which the left eeked enough of a majority to then go full time vote by fraud. I mean mail.
     
    What happened – I’ve had people tell me no, that’s not what happens, but hell I was there, and I know how it was explained – is that these people got to fill a “provisional vote”. Later, the records would be examined, and if it was shown they really hadn’t voted before those votes would be counted.
     
    In other words, people are fobbed off. Even should their votes be counted – as some people insist they are – then they would count for ½ because there’s no way to retrieve votes already cast.
     
    This is why I say the left has been winning by fraud for several cycles already and the only reason Trump won is that they were so sure it would be a Hillary landslide they failed to manufacture enough votes.”

    Mail-in vote fraud occurs when the perpetrators obtain mail-in ballots, before they are sent to voters, from election officials who are part of the fraudulent vote conspiracy, or when for the same election officials simply give the perpetrators all the information needed to print their own fraudulent mail-in ballots and return envelopes, fill those out and mail them to the election postal box numbers/addresses. It is also possible for fraudsters to obtain the necessary information about voters online, but that requires far, far more work than if election officials give it to them.

    However fraud with mail-in votes is done, it is so easy to do that no other nation seems to allow mail-in votes at all, let alone the way it is being done in America.

    Note also that it is easier, and therefore more likely, for mail-in vote fraud to be targeted at all voters than just Republicans and independent voters. A lot of Democratic voters who choose to vote in person on Election Day may have polling place workers refuse to give them ballots because they have allegedly already voted by mail.

    The simplest and best way to keep your vote from being stolen in this way is to have your vote be designated the first received from you. This requires that you vote as early as possible, preferably in person so there is no question about your identity, and so the US Postal Service doesn’t delay or lose your mailed ballot (which was a major problem earlier this year, and seems to be happening now). Don’t wait for Election Day – vote as early as possible. As an example, October 5 (Monday) is the earliest people can vote in person in California. Do so in your state.

    If you do wait until election day to vote in person, a sure tip-off that your vote has been stolen will be a polling place worker refusing to give you a ballot because you allegedly have already voted. Don’t just walk away. Insist that you haven’t voted and demand that you be given a ballot. Don’t let them fob you off with a “Provisional” ballot. Insist on a real one. Make a screaming stink about it, and insist on speaking to a Republican poll watcher who will hopefully follow up on your problem, and add you to a list of names of people who have been denied ballots.

    But it would be better if you also volunteer as a Republican poll watcher at a polling place on election day so you can protect other voters from having their votes stolen. They’ll be easy to spot – a polling place worker will refuse to give a ballot to a prospective voter. Your county Republican Party will love to have more volunteer poll watchers, and they’ll give you a little training on, including on what to do when voters are denied ballots. The Trump re-election campaign and Republican Party are prepared for massive nationwide Democratic voter fraud, and need help documenting it as it happens.

    Do something about it yourself. Vote Early! Become a poll watcher!

    But the problem will remain. This is the first national election involving massive nation-wide vote fraud by a major party. That means a nation-wide political conspiracy, and my Colorado friend’s experience indicates it has been building for years. How can America remain a democracy when a large portion of the country rejects the core American, and democratic, value of free and fair elections?

     

    Posted in America 3.0, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Crime and Punishment, Culture, Current Events, Elections, Politics | 69 Comments »

    A Point About Amy Coney Barrett

    Posted by David Foster on October 2nd, 2020 (All posts by )

    …which I haven’t seen much discussed:  Her education was an undergraduate degree at Rhodes College (English literature, French), followed by a law degree (Juris Doctor) from Notre Dame.

    What’s so unusual about that, you ask?  Just this:  every single current Justice has a law degree from Harvard or Yale.  Ginsburg started at Harvard Law, but transferred to Columbia.  Scallia also went to HLS.   So, if ACB is confirmed, she will become the first recent Justice who did not graduate from, or even attend, the apparently-sacred duo of Harvard and Yale.

    Does it matter that the Supreme Court has been so completely dominated by graduates of two universities?  Here’s something Peter Drucker (himself of European origins) wrote back in 1969:

    It is almost impossible to explain to a European that the strength of American higher education lies in this absence of schools for leaders and schools for followers. It is almost impossible to explain to a European that the engineer with a degree from North Idaho A and M is an engineer and not a draftsman. Yet this is the flexibility that Europe needs in order to overcome the brain drain and to close the technology gap…the European who knows himself competent because he is not accepted as such–because he is not an “Oxbridge” man or because he did not graduate from one of the Grandes Ecoles and become an Inspecteur de Finance in the government service–will continue to emigrate where he will be used according to what he can do rather than according to what he has not done.

    and

    The Harvard Law School might like to be a Grande Ecole and to claim for its graduates a preferential position. But American society has never been willing to accept this claim.

    The US has come a lot closer to accepting such a claim on the part of HLS than it had when Drucker wrote the above.  Admissions officers at Ivy League schools have been allowed by our society to effectively claim way too much discretionary power over the filling of key roles throughout government and elsewhere.  The way in which this discretionary power has been too often exercised can be glimpsed in the analysis showing that Harvard consistently rated Asian-American applicants lower than others on traits like “positive personality,” likability, courage, kindness and being “widely respected.  (Academic bureaucrats rating people on courage?)

    Questions might also be asked about the internal academic cultures within universities to which so much power has been given: for example, a recent FIRE survey of free speech on campus found that 37% of Ivy League students say that shouting down a speaker is “always” or “sometimes” acceptable, compared to 26% of students not enrolled at Ivy League colleges.  And almost 1 in 5 Ivy League students find it “always” or “sometimes” acceptable to block other students from entering a campus event, compared to roughly 1 in 10 of non-Ivy students.  Way too much repressive thinking on American campuses these days; even worse at the Ivy League, evidently, than elsewhere.

    I haven’t heard any publicly-stated objections to ACB’s non-Ivy background, and I certainly don’t think it’s a primary factor in the objections to her nomination, but I do wonder if it is influencing some individuals behind the scenes.

    More importantly, though, this possible exception to what would otherwise be the Harvard-and-Yale-only rule for Justices points out just how much power these universities have garnered to themselves and to their selected graduates.

     

     

     

     

     

    Posted in Academia, Education, Law, USA | 17 Comments »

    Random Pic

    Posted by Jonathan on October 1st, 2020 (All posts by )

    bathtub lizard

     

    Posted in Photos | 6 Comments »

    Obamacare – The COVID-19 Virus of U.S. Healthcare Insurance

    Posted by Kevin Villani on September 30th, 2020 (All posts by )

    It tricks its way in and infects the vital organs.

    Obamacare promised to reduce the cost and improve the availability of health care services in the U.S. without reducing the quality, generally considered the world’s best. By traditional metrics, e.g., the health of the American public, the cost, and the share of national resources devoted to healthcare, Obamacare is a total bust. As with any government program targeted to a single metric, a higher percentage of the population has insurance, whatever the cost or coverage, but even that has been declining since the enforcement mechanism, a grossly excessive individual mandate, was eliminated.

    Obamacare made some households feel more financially secure, others less so. But it’s an illusion from a broader perspective as federal, state, and local finances are virtually all unsustainable. The federal government spent about $1.5 trillion on health care in 2019 and states about $300 billion. Handing out stacks of newly printed $100 bills to assist households with medical bills would have been a much cheaper and simpler solution.

    The current Rube Goldberg monstrosity reflects the attempt to achieve the universal coverage and uniform quality of national health systems while maintaining private medical services and private health insurers under the misleading banner of “insuring the uninsured.” Many analysts believed Obamacare was purposely designed as a Rube Goldberg contraption intended to end with a “bang,” paving the way for “single payer” or “Medicare for all” – the current progressive goal. But like virtually all failed government programs, Obamacare whimpers on.

    To repeal and replace would admit the obvious. But the “single payer” and “Medicare for all” proposals aren’t an actuarial insurance fix, merely a progressive federal tax. Their perceived merit is eliminating insurance company administrative costs (and administration), profits and actuarial premiums with political premiums – payroll taxes that contribute to total Treasury tax revenue. Politicizing the premiums will further politicize provider payments, two steps toward nationalized healthcare, the likely goal of many proponents.

    Socialized national healthcare may be preferable to it. But politicians deny and mis-represent the European national healthcare systems’ inferior medical performance and deny the totalitarian necessity even while issuing multiple mandates and threats under Obamacare. The original separation of the private and public healthcare systems in the U.S. – the original “public option” – is another, arguably better option.

    The Winding Road to the Obamacare Dead End

    In a competitive market economy health expenses would largely be paid from personal precautionary savings or medical insurance, the premiums sufficient to cover actuarial claims according to the “law of large numbers” for unpredictable claims, with insurance reserves for worse than predicted experience, e.g., due to a pandemic. All insurance requires a degree of “assurance” to mitigate avoidable claims, a “moral hazard that the insured will take greater risks.

    The U.S. health insurance industry in the early twentieth century followed the path of the savings bank industry of the prior century. Individual not for profit (mutual) firms (Blue Cross and Blue Shield) started appearing during the Great Depression for employees (initially teachers). The big expansion came when during WW II, FDR, no stranger to fascist business methods, capped wages but not benefits creating a loophole for un-taxed employer health insurance benefits that persists today, an advantage over individual plans paid mostly with after tax income.

    Health care needs of the poor were addressed by a variety of public, civic and religious institutions. During the first half of the 20th century, driven largely by public health concerns, municipal hospitals provided health services but with independent fee for service doctors, whereas housing policies followed the fascist Wehrmacht model, paying private developers and builders to construct public rental housing.

    Public healthcare, like public housing, was definitely below average. But the World Health Organization (WHO) Constitution of 1946 declared “enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health”—defined as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”—“is one of the fundamental rights of every human being,” reaffirmed in the 2020 Democratic Party Platform.

    Similarly, in market economies housing structures are considered a capital investment financed with debt or equity, owned or rented. But the United Nations identifies adequate affordable housing and secure tenure as a “fundamental human right.”These assertions followed the destruction of WW II and rise of European “democratic socialism,” but were foreshadowed by FDR’s New Deal policies during the Great Depression and his Second Bill of Rights in 1944.

    European national Healthcare systems reflected this uniformity, with one standard for all under Britain’s system, whereas the French system allowed about 10% of the population to opt for higher quality care with private insurance.

    The U.S. went in the opposite direction in the 1950s and 1960s. Federal expenditures for housing and health services were increasingly directly subsidized with federal progressive taxation, less intrusive to the private sector than prior methods or European systems, albeit more so than subsidizing income directly. The advent of federal Medicaid and Medicare subsidized insurance led to the decline of public hospitals (as did the movie “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” ) But the Budget Act of 1974 making expenditures more transparent shifted lobbying efforts to less transparent tax subsidies and to regulation by the Administrative State.

    So progressives targeted finance and insurance, where the subsidies are often opaque. The objective became achieving a socialist incidence of both cost and delivery of health services by subsidizing and manipulating the private insurance market. The problem with FDR’s freely granting of multiple “rights” including healthcare and housing during this “fireside chat” was that they were not his to dispense. Progressive “rights” are nothing more than meretricious socialist promises implemented with a totalitarian stick that violate the unalienable rights in America’s Declaration of Independence that are the cornerstone of a market system, the reason for multiple conflicting and confused Supreme Court decisions regarding Obamacare.

    The Clinton Administration first proposed Hillarycare, the precursor to Obamacare, in 1993. When that failed, it turned to housing, where it was too successful. These latent New Deal viruses later turned deadly. Some three and a half years ago I argued that the two legislative centerpieces of the Obama Administration, the “Dodd-Frank Act” (the Wall Street Bank Bailout) and the “Affordable Care Act” (Obamacare) had the same fatal flaw. Politicians basically intervened in finance and insurance markets to provide equality of home ownership and medical care across all incomes without transparently paying the price. The effects spread like a deadly virus, distorting all the incentives, checks and balances that kept the private system afloat, replaced by universal one-size-fits-all mandates. The sub-prime lending debacle, like the Wehrmacht, lasted a decade, the current age of Obamacare (see Appendix).

    The Building of a Rube Goldberg Contraption: Doubling Down on “Pre-Existing Distortions”

    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Big Government, Economics & Finance, Health Care, Medicine, Obama | 17 Comments »