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  • Archive for September, 2013

    History Friday – The Tireless Mr. Colt

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 13th September 2013 (All posts by )

    Born in Hartford, Connecticut in 1814, Samuel “Sam” Colt was an innovator and inventor, single-minded, energetic to the point of hyperactivity, and the very epitome of a self-made man – of which there were a great many in 19th century America. At the age of seven years, his mother died. She was the daughter of a fairly well-to-do family; his father was a farmer turned minor industrialist, having gone into the business of manufacturing textiles with the aid of his in-laws. When Sam was eleven, his father went bankrupt. While the senior Colt attempted to regain his economic footing, Sam and his five brothers and sisters were farmed out to relatives and neighbors. Sam was apprenticed to a farmer, with the understanding that he attended school regularly. Which Sam Colt did, but likely did not learn anything beyond what he was really interested in – his handwriting was lamentable and his spelling a matter best left unmentioned. But he read widely and voraciously; his favorite was a then-popular scientific encyclopedia called the Compendium of Knowledge, and sometime in his early teens he resolved to be an inventor. At fifteen, he left school and went to work in his father’s mill, a splendid venue for tinkering – and indulging in a taste for showing off. On July 4th, 1829, he gained a degree of local notoriety by blowing up a raft in a local shallow pond, detonating a large quantity of gunpowder with a galvanic cell which he had built himself. He had advertised the event beforehand, by having handbills printed and distributed – so there was a substantial crowd gathered for the show. But the raft with the battery and gunpowder on it had drifted from position – and the resulting mighty blast showered the crowd with mud.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Americas, Business, History, RKBA | 4 Comments »

    Jacksonian America Remembers 9/11

    Posted by Lexington Green on 11th September 2013 (All posts by )

    The roar of motorcycles, a din, a torrent of noise, American flags whipping past, hundreds, thousands of bikes. Jacksonian America on the move is a thing of great beauty.

    Hello, DC? AMERICA dropped by to get in your face, make a lot of noise, disrupt your fashionable luncheon schedule, make it clear it is not your friend, and remind you that you are doing a rotten job, and your attempted “fundamental transformation” needs to be scrapped.

    Have a nice day.

    Posted in America 3.0, USA | 4 Comments »

    Try To Remember, That Time in September

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 11th September 2013 (All posts by )

    (An archive post for today; originally posted on this day in 2004.)

    Around the time of the first anniversary of 9/11, I saw a drawing commemorating, and making a bittersweet comment about anniversaries, memory and the passage of time. Quick pen sketches of the WTC towers, each with a sequential date underneath; 9/11/02, 9/11/03, 9/11/04, but with each repetition, the outline of the towers became mistier, more diffuse. The first anniversary to me was almost unbearable, as much of a psychic battering as the event itself. The second was a sad and thoughtful occasion, and now we are facing the third year, and the day falls on a Saturday; not a work day for most of us. Curiously, that seems to set the event a little aside, this year. I will not be walking into the glass and granite lobby of the office building where I work — a lobby that looks eerily like the lobby of the WTC buildings, owing to the fact they were built at about the same time, following many of the same architectural precepts, and which houses many of the same sort of businesses, although on a much smaller scale — on a glorious September day, not knowing that the towers had already been hit, they were burning, and thousands of people doing the same job they did every day would be dust and ashes in the next few moments.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Deep Thoughts, History | Comments Off on Try To Remember, That Time in September

    9/11 Plus Twelve Years

    Posted by David Foster on 11th September 2013 (All posts by )

    (Rerun, with an important update at the end)

    Simply evil: Christopher Hitchens suggests that sometimes the simple and obvious explanation for an event is more accurate than an explanation which relies on an elaborate structure of “nuance”

    A time bomb from the Middle Ages. Roger Simon explains how 9/11 altered his worldview and many of his relationships

    An attack, not a disaster or a tragedy. George Savage explains why the persistent use of terms like “tragedy” by the media acts to obfuscate the true nature of the 9/11 attacks. Much more on this from Mark Steyn

    Claire Berlinski was in Paris on 9/11. Shortly thereafter she wrote this piece for City Journal

    Marc Sasseville and Heather Penney were F-16 pilots with an Air National Guard squadron. Their order was to bring down Flight 93 before the terrorists in control of it could create another disaster on the scale of the World Trade Center…but their aircraft were configured for training, with no live ammunition and no missiles. A video interview with Major Penney here

    Joseph Fouché writes about how the Taliban’s destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas in March 2001, and the murder of Ahmed Shah Masood on September 9 of that year, prefigured the 9/11 attacks.

    On September 11, 2005, Rare Kate didn’t go to church. Follow the link to find out why. In my original post linking this, I said “What if American and British religious leaders had responded the depradations of Naziism in the spirit of this liturgy? Actually, some of them did. The impact on preparedness was certainly malign, and the people who took such positions certainly bear a share of moral resposibility for the deaths and devastation that took place. Ditto for those who are behaving in a similar way today.”

    Dietrich Bonhoeffer, an important leader of the anti-Nazi resistance in Germany (executed in 1945), wrote the following:

    Today there are once more saints and villains. Instead of the uniform grayness of the rainy day, we have the black storm cloud and the brilliant lightning flash. Outlines stand out with exaggerated sharpness. Shakespeare’s characters walk among us. The villain and the saint emerge from primeval depths and by their appearannce they tear open the infernal or the divine abyss from which they come and enable us to see for a moment into mysteries of which we had never dreamed.

    I was reminded of the above passage by something Cara Ellison said in a 2009 post about 9/11:

    I guess I thought they were all gone, those types of monsters, stranded on reels of black and white film.

    The refusal on the part of many individuals to face the seriousness of the radical Islamist threat to out civilization stems in significant part, I feel certain, from a desire to avoid the uncomfortable and even dangerous kind of clarity that Bonhoeffer was talking about.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Anti-Americanism, History, Islam, Middle East, Obama, Terrorism, USA, War and Peace | 5 Comments »

    James Kent on the American Founding

    Posted by Lexington Green on 9th September 2013 (All posts by )

    Happily for this country, we received our jurisprudence from England in its highest vigour, and in its most cultivated state. The leading statesmen in the colonies, and especially the members of the bar, had the sagacity to perceive, and the courage and patriotism to assert, the indefeasible title of their countrymen to all the securities and blessings of the English common law. They had inherited its free and liberal spirit, and in almost every colony there were individual lawyers, equal in character, learning, and eloquence, to their brethren in the courts of the parent state. They were lawyers of the old school, who actually led on the American revolution. They were the daring patriots and intelligent statesmen who roused their countrymen to the duty of insisting on the exclusive right of self-taxation, and to all the other liberties and privileges of English subjects, resting on the basis of the common law, and the sacred stipulations of chartered contracts. It was the lawyers that guided the deliberations of the congress of 1774, and penned its admirable addresses, and stimulated their associates to unite with them in pouring forth their grievances and their exhausted patience, and their determined purpose, in the monumental act of independence.

    An Address Delivered Before the Law Association of the City of New York, October 1, 1836, by The Hon. James Kent.

    We had this to say about James Kent in America 3.0:

    We ended up with a common American legal culture for reasons beyond the Constitution. In the early years of the country there was popular animosity toward anything English and some resistance to relying on the Common Law and English precedent. American lawyers and judges rejected this notion and created an American style of law that was continuous with England’s, though not the same. They managed to keep this system roughly consistent across the entire country by relying on legal treatises that were considered authoritative. The most important example was James Kent’s Commentaries on American Law, which went through many editions.

    Chancellor Kent was one of the most important lawyers and legal thinkers in the history of the Anglosphere. America is an enormous free trade area where business can be transacted efficiently over 3.7 million square miles among 310 million, or more, Americans. We have a common legal culture which makes this possible in significant part due to the work of Chancellor Kent.

    The lawyers never get any credit, though Ronald Coase appreciated what they contribute. The quote above shows that James Kent not only made a quiet, almost invisible contribution to founding our nation. He also understood and appreciated what the lawyers of the Founding generation gave us, precisely because they were thinking as lawyers and made a legal case for our independence, and preserved the legal culture we had inherited from Britain, the common law — though of course with American characteristics.

    Posted in America 3.0, Anglosphere, Arts & Letters, Biography, Book Notes, Law, Politics, Uncategorized, USA | 7 Comments »

    Georgene Rice Interviews Lex about America 3.0

    Posted by Lexington Green on 9th September 2013 (All posts by )

    A big THANK YOU to Georgene Rice, who interviewed me today about America 3.0 Georgene’s show is on KPDQ in Portland, Oregon.

    Georgene was glad to hear an optimistic message about America’s future. I am glad I could provide one! Our current mess is temporary. The transition may be very unpleasant, but it will happen. The more engaged and involved we all are, the better it will go. While our book is not about day-to-day politics, we do not deny the necessity of political action. But for political action to be effective, it must be motivated by hope, by goals and by a vision of where all the effort is going to lead.

    Our vision of America 3.0 won’t be exactly how things will end up, of course. The world of 2040 will be full of more surprises than we can dream of today. But it is our best estimate of where things can and should go. The history we have uncovered, and the technology we are aware of, and the failure of the current political arrangements, which is increasingly obvious, all point toward a free and prosperous future. But it is up to us to make that happen. It will be hard, so stay cheerful!

    Posted in America 3.0, Book Notes | 6 Comments »

    Why the “Israel Lobby” Backed Obama on Syria

    Posted by Jonathan on 9th September 2013 (All posts by )

    Martin Kramer:

    Stephen J. Rosen has written a smart piece on how Obama forced AIPAC to back his planned military action against the Syrian regime. It’s titled “Pushed on the Bandwagon,” and he makes a strong case. Of course, AIPAC views action on Syria as a kind of proxy for action against Iran, and assumes that the former will make the latter more likely when push comes to shove. In fact, bopping Assad may well be a substitute for action against Iran: Obama hopes that by a relatively cheap shot at Syria, he’ll restore enough credibility to restrain Israel vis-à-vis Iran. Alas, a cheap shot won’t restrain Iran, and may even impel it to push its nuke plans forward. Israel has to face reality: it may or may not be a post-American world, but it’s a post-American Middle East. (And if the military operation goes badly it could be post-AIPAC, too.)

    The Rosen piece is here. It’s worth reading, particularly for the reminder of how Obama operates politically (there are no appeals to principle; it’s all about arm twisting, threats and domestic political considerations).

    Kramer’s interpretation is persuasive. Obama probably wants to use a weak attack on Syria, or preferably mere talk about Syria if he can get away with it, as a substitute for rather than a prelude to doing anything about Iran’s nuclear program. Syria is Iran’s puppet and if Obama were serious he’d be going after the mullahs. Instead he appears to be running out the clock until they have nukes, while also doing his best to degrade our military in order to lock in our impotence for the foreseeable future. (J. E. Dyer discusses our current weakness in detail: here, here and here.)

    Whatever the course of Obama’s political career going forward, we are probably going to pay dearly for his ineptitude and anti-American malice.

    Posted in Current Events, International Affairs, Iran, Israel, Jewish Leftism, Middle East, Military Affairs, National Security, Obama, Quotations, Terrorism, War and Peace | 7 Comments »

    Quote of the Day

    Posted by Jonathan on 9th September 2013 (All posts by )

    Commenter CR on “slutwalks” and leftist/feminist moral reasoning:

    Their position on rape has a lot of parallels to the Trayvon Martin case… They continuously believe that people should face absolutely no consequence for any decisions they make and are shocked when people who do potentially risky things (like bashing someone’s head into the ground) end up having something bad happen that could have been avoided if they hadn’t been told that they had no responsibility for what happened to them at all and were free to act in any way they wished.

    (Via Instapundit.)

    Posted in Human Behavior, Leftism, Quotations | 3 Comments »

    Obama, US Military Victory, and the Real “Red Line” in Syria

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 9th September 2013 (All posts by )

    The thing that really bothers me in all the back and forth surrounding the American strike on the Assad Regime debate, and the Democratic Party aligned media spin of what the meaning of words “Red Line” mean, is how off-point from the interests of the American people it all is. The Assad regime’s use of Nerve Gas isn’t the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Deploying those Clinton era spin techniques over the definition of “Red Line” is the political equivalent of pointing and yelling “_Squirrel_!”

    The bottom line is that if the Assad regime of Syria survives on the strength of chemical weapons of mass destruction, an incredibly dangerous to American national security situation will come to pass. The Chemical Weapons Convention will be dead, publicly murdered and discredited similar to the way the Kellogg-Briant Pact against war was in the face of Nazi rearmament. There will be an arms race for chemical weapons of mass destruction in the Mid-East & elsewhere. That will require the US military to rearm with either lethal chemicals or with tactical nukes — with all the costs that requires both financial and moral — in order to maintain a credible deterrent for future conventional military operations.

    The issue with the Assad Regime’s use of chemical weapons of mass destruction is the Assad regime . The only fit punishment, one that will prevent catalytic proliferation of chemical and other weapons of mass destruction around the world, is the Assad Regime’s over throw. That overthrow is readily obtainable by American military forces and can be achieved without a single boot on the ground, nor a single foreign ally.

    The fact that the Obama Administration is unwilling use grasp those means, and to politically justify their use with the same sort of weapons of mass destruction argument that Pres. George W. Bush deployed to justify regime change in Iraq, is the real strategic “Red Line” for Syria. It is a Red Line that the American people chose in electing a Democratic Senate in 2006 and in both electing and reelecting Pres. Obama (and a Democratic Senate) in 2008 and 2012.

    It is a “Red Line” that has to be erased by competent and principled Presidential leadership that forthrightly explains the threat, continually over time, if Americans are to continue enjoying — its admittedly rapidly declining — freedom from police state surveillance at home.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in International Affairs, Iran, Iraq, Islam, Israel, Middle East, Military Affairs, National Security, Terrorism, Uncategorized, USA, Xenophon Roundtable | 24 Comments »

    Ambrose Bierce, ‘Fantastic Fables’

    Posted by Ralf Goergens on 8th September 2013 (All posts by )

    From the ‘Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce’, Volume 6 some ‘Fantastic Fables’:

    THE LASSOED BEAR
     
    A Hunter who had lassoed a Bear was trying to disengage himself from the rope, but the slip-knot about his wrist would not yield, for the Bear was all the time pulling in the slack with his paws. In the midst of his trouble the Hunter saw a Showman passing by and managed to attract his attention.
     
    “What will you give me,” he said, “for my Bear?”
     
    “It will be some five or ten minutes,” said the Showman, “before I shall want a bear, and it looks to me as if prices would fall during that time. I think I’ll wait and watch the market.”
     
    “The price of this animal,” the Hunter replied, “is down to bed-rock; you can have him for a cent a pound, spot cash, and I’ll throw in the next one that I lasso. But the purchaser must remove the goods from the premises forthwith, to make room for three man-eating tigers, a cat-headed gorilla and an armful of rattlesnakes.”
     
    But the Showman passed on in maiden meditation, fancy free, and being joined soon afterward by the Bear, who was absently picking his teeth, it was inferred that they were not unacquainted.
     
     
    FATHER AND SON
     
    “My boy,” said an aged Father to his fiery and disobedient Son, “a hot temper is the soil of remorse. Promise me that when next you are angry you will count one hundred before you move or speak.”
     
    No sooner had the Son promised than he received a stinging blow from the paternal walking-stick, and by the time he had counted to seventy-five had the unhappiness to see the old man jump into a waiting cab and whirl away.
     
     
    MORAL PRINCIPLE AND MATERIAL INTEREST
     
    A Moral Principle met a Material Interest on a bridge wide enough for but one.
     
    “Down, you base thing!” thundered the Moral Principle, “and let me pass over you!”
     
    The Material Interest merely looked in the other’s eyes without saying anything.
     
    “Ah,” said the Moral Principle, hesitatingly, “let us draw lots to see which one of us shall retire till the other has crossed.”
     
    The Material Interest maintained an unbroken silence and an unwavering stare.
     
    “In order to avoid a conflict,” the Moral Principle resumed, somewhat uneasily, “I shall myself lie down and let you walk over me.”
     
    Then the Material Interest found his tongue. “I don’t think you are very good walking,” he said. “I am a little particular about what I have underfoot. Suppose you get off into the water.”
     
    It occurred that way.

    Bierce’s contemporaries weren’t used to this kind of cynicism and sarcasm, so they gave him the moniker ‘The bitter Bierce‘.

    Posted in Anglosphere, Arts & Letters, Book Notes, Deep Thoughts, Diversions, History, Human Behavior, Humor, USA | 2 Comments »

    The Anti-War Movement Takes to the Street

    Posted by Lexington Green on 7th September 2013 (All posts by )

    In the Loop.

    Chanting outside my office: “hands off Syria”!

    Mr. Obama being the President has not prevented the lefties from protesting. It took a lot of provocation to get them out in force, but Mr. Obama has reached the tipping point with the full time protest community.

    Glad they have principles.

    It is weird to be in agreement with them.

    I don’t like their style, but they are right about this one.

    UPDATE:

    I just signed the MoveOn Antiwar Petition! This may be my only chance to ever agree with them on something.

    Posted in Leftism, Obama, USA, War and Peace | 32 Comments »

    A Day of Prayer and Fasting

    Posted by Lexington Green on 7th September 2013 (All posts by )

    Pope Francis has called for a day of prayer and fasting for peace. I’m doing it. I hope you will, too. J

    John Paul II opposed the invasion of Iraq. At the time I thought he was wrong. He proved to be right. I am paying more attention to His Holiness this time.

    Posted in Announcements, Middle East, Religion | Comments Off on A Day of Prayer and Fasting

    Colorado Meadow

    Posted by Jonathan on 7th September 2013 (All posts by )

    A beautiful Colorado sunset as seen from the William F. Hayden Park on Green Mountain in Lakewood. (Jonathan Gewirtz   jonathan@gewirtz.net)

    Posted in Photos | 4 Comments »

    History Friday: MacArthur, JANAC, and the Politics of Military Historical Narrative

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 6th September 2013 (All posts by )

    When I started writing my “History Friday” columns, one of my objectives was to explore the “military historical narratives” around General Douglas MacArthur, so I could write with a better understanding about the “cancelled by atomic bomb” November 1945 invasion of Japan. One of the themes that has developed, and that I intend to explore in this and future columns, is that the “military historical narrative” of World War 2 (WW2) has roughly the same relationship with historical truth that “Gerrymandering” of political district boundaries has to do with US Constitution driven 10-year census redistricting. The objective of both is incumbent protection of the most powerful poltical factions with safe districts, at the expense of accountability to voters, with a secondary objective being the punishment of those who do not stick to the party line. Where I have found this most blatantly is with the 1943-1947 Joint Army-Navy Assessment Committee or (JANAC), which you can find at this link:

    Cover from Joint Army-Navy Assessment Committee Report -- NAVEXOS P 468

    Cover from Joint Army-Navy Assessment Committee Report — NAVEXOS P 468

    http://www.history.navy.mil/library/online/japaneseshiploss.htm

    Where JANAC drew it’s “gerrymander line” after WW2 was at ships and craft of below 500 tons of displacement. This had a huge effect on on the historical record of WW2 and particularly on MacArthur’s South West Pacific Area and the Southern Pacific theater prior to the start of the Central Pacific Campaign at Tarawa. In other words, the entire Operation Cartwheel offensive of 1943-1944.

    Operation Cartwheel Encirclement 1943-1944

    Operation Cartwheel Encirclement 1943-1944

    Here is a simple logistical thumbnail of why that is the case:

    1) One large Japanese powered barge below 500 tons could supply a 6,300 man Imperial Japanese Army independent regiment for a day.

    2) Three large Japanese powered barges below 500 tons could supply a triangular Imperial Japanese Army infantry division for a day.

    3) Fifty large Japanese powered barges below 500 tons could supply a triangular Imperial Japanese Army infantry division at a distance of 300 miles.

    4) There were 250 such barges shuttling between Rabaul and northern New Guinea in late August 1943.

    5) During the month of September 1943 MacArthur’s Fifth Air Force destroyed 90 of those barges.

    Because those barges were all 499 tons or less displacement, JANAC stripped that data from the US Military historical narrative as if they did not exist.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in History, Military Affairs, Miscellaneous, USA, War and Peace | 5 Comments »

    “Did Vladimir Putin Bait a Trap for the United States in Damascus?”

    Posted by Jonathan on 6th September 2013 (All posts by )

    Interesting thoughts:

    By showing that Obama’s America is unable and unwilling to keep its promises, Putin has widened the leadership void in the Middle East—as a prelude to filling it himself. By helping to clear Iran’s path to a bomb, Putin positions himself as Iran’s most powerful ally—while paradoxically gaining greater leverage with Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf States, who would much rather negotiate with Russia than with Iran, their sworn enemy. While the Americans were heading out of the Middle East, and the Chinese were too busy with their own internal debates about the future of their economy and society, Putin saw that something valuable had been abandoned on the world stage, and he took it. For the price of 1,000 dead civilians in Damascus, he has gained great power status in the oil-rich Middle East. Iran, for its part, gets the bomb, which isn’t great news for anyone, but was probably going to happen anyway.
     
    [. . .]
     
    Only time will tell whose evil is worse—Putin’s or Obama’s. While Putin delights in using the old-school KGB playbook to consolidate his one-man rule, and to expose the empty moral posturing of the West, Obama believes that he can talk his way into a workable accommodation between his own sense of morality and global reality. But the lesson of Obama’s fig leaf is that it is better to be honest about what we are doing in the world and why. If Putin baited a trap for the United States in Damascus, it was Obama who walked right into it. If Obama had stood up and declared that the United States had no vital interest in Syria but would stop Iran from getting nukes—and would prosecute the authors of the nerve-gas attack at The Hague—then Putin would have been trapped. The same would have been true if Obama had said nothing and blown up two or three of Assad’s palaces. But he did neither. Sometimes, well-meaning lies and political spin can be just as deadly, in the end, as nerve gas.

    (Via Tom Smith.)

    Posted in International Affairs, Iran, National Security, Obama, Russia, Terrorism, War and Peace | 5 Comments »

    Coase on Lawyers, Transaction Costs and Society

    Posted by Jonathan on 6th September 2013 (All posts by )

    From a 1997 interview with the late Ronald Coase in Reason:

    Reason: Some people would say that it’s just paper transactions, that all the efforts of the lawyers are a waste, a mess, a scourge on society. You have a slightly different view.
     
    Coase: Lawyers do a lot of harm, but they also do an immense amount of good. And the good is that they are expert negotiators, and they know what is necessary in the law to enable deals to be made. Their activities are designed, in fact, to lower transaction costs. Some of them, we know, raise transaction costs. But by and large, they are engaged in lowering transaction costs. People talk about the information age and how large numbers of people are engaged in information activities. Well, gathering information is one of the difficulties when you’re in a market. What is being produced, what are the prices of what is being offered? You’ve got to learn all these things. You can learn them now a good deal more easily than you could have done before; you don’t have to search. If you’ve ever tried to buy anything, you know how much time goes into finding out what’s available and all the alternatives.

    Worthwhile reading.

    Posted in Economics & Finance, Law, Quotations | 3 Comments »

    Shana Tova / שנה טובה

    Posted by Jonathan on 5th September 2013 (All posts by )

    5774. A bit late to this, and recycling 5773’s photo. Best wishes to all for a sweet and healthy year.

    Shana Tova

    Posted in Holidays, Judaism | 4 Comments »

    Review of America 3.0 by Arnold Kling

    Posted by Lexington Green on 4th September 2013 (All posts by )

    We are very pleased that America 3.0 received a thoughtful and positive review from Arnold Kling. The review, entitled “America’s Past and America’s Future”is here.

    Mr. Kling is one of the smartest and most civil commenters we have on current affairs from an economics perspective. (This group of articles is a good sample.)

    Mr. Kling’s philosophy of blogging is the gold standard: “I will try to keep the posts here free of put-downs, snark, cheap shots, straw-man arguments, and taking the least charitable interpretation of what others say.” Let us examine ourselves against this and see if we are found wanting!

    Mr. Kling’s review provides a very good summary of the book. He concludes by noting:

    The vision that Bennett and Lotus put forth is not the technocratically-run national system that most contemporary politicians and pundits presume is ideal. Nor is it the philosophically-driven rights-based society that libertarians might prefer. However, if the authors are correct in their cultural anthropology, then their idea of America 3.0 is what fits best with our culture.

    Our antipathy toward a “technocratically-run national system” is common to most American Conservatives and Libertarians, whether capitalized or not. Mr. Kling is astute to note our vision is not one of a “philosophically-driven rights-based society” which many libertarians hope for. We do believe in a rights-based society, but we believe such a society will work, and that certain rights will be understood and respected, not due to any universally derivable philosophy, but due to a historically grounded set of cultural attitudes, orientations and practices. Our assessment of America, its history and its future, is indeed based on cultural anthropology, with economics, law and politics as superstructure on that foundation. While the society we hope for can be and should be compatible with a libertarian philosophy, it will not be caused by or derived from any such philosophy. Libertarian values and America’s historically derived culture are compatible with each other empirically. On the other hand, America cannot be forced into any philosophically-derived form that is contrary to its historically-derived culture, at least not easily, and not without considerable resistance. Hence the current “doubling down” on state-centric policies will fail. We propose reforms that go “with the grain” of our culture, though these reforms will need to overcome the resisted of incumbent rent seekers. We predict a free and prosperous future once these obstacles are overcome which will be continuous and consistent with our past, even our distant past.

    UPDATE from Jim Bennett:

    A libertarian, rights-based political system can only exist within the framework of an individualist culture. It requires it as much as fish require water to swim, but many libertarians are as oblivious to this basic fact as fish are to the existence of the water in which they swim. We do believe that if the American system evolves in the direction we suggest and advocate, that at least some of the autonomous units within it can support libertarian systems that are much closer to what they would like than is possible today.

    Posted in America 3.0, Book Notes, Libertarianism, USA | 3 Comments »

    Are We More or Less Free Than We Were in 1975?

    Posted by Lexington Green on 4th September 2013 (All posts by )

    I recently sent this link to some friends, which lists “10 Things You Could Do in 1975 That You Can’t Do Now.” The list included:

    2. You could buy cough syrup without showing an ID

    4. You could buy a gun without showing an ID
     
    5. You could pull as much cash out of your bank account without the bank filing a report with the government
     
    6. You could get a job without having to prove you were an American

    9. You could open a stock brokerage account without having to explain where the money came from

    10. You could open a Swiss bank account with ease. All Swiss banks were willing and happy to open accounts for Americans

    I opined: “We are FAR less free than we used to be. The “War on Drugs” is a major cause, but general government encroachment for its own sake is behind most of it.”

    My friend Singapore Pundit responded:

    [Lex], I have to challenge your theory that we are “FAR less” than free we use to be. Here is a short list of things from the 70’s which we are free from today: The military draft; 70% marginal tax rates on income; airline price regulation by the federal government; forced busing of school children; gas rationing by the federal government (Nixon); legalized monopoly of telecommunications; US gov. restricted travel to China, Vietnam, Russia and east Europe; banned importation of books based on ideology; tariffs on goods from Canada and Mexico; federal government price controls (Nixon); 25% of workers in unions (now it’s 7%). Here are somethings we have today versus the 70’s which I would argue make us freer: charter schools; home schooling; the internet and access by it to free information; 401K; more right-to-work states; right to vote for citizens over 18.

    I had to concede these were all good things.

    So, on net, are we freer or less free?

    Posted in Civil Liberties, History, Taxes, USA | 39 Comments »

    Picture from the Czech General Mobilization, 1938

    Posted by Lexington Green on 4th September 2013 (All posts by )

    I wonder if any of the people in this picture survived the war, or if this family managed to make it through the war intact.

    Thank God for two oceans between us and our enemies.

    (From this page.)

    Posted in Europe, History, Photos, War and Peace | 8 Comments »

    September 3rd – A Quiet Sunday Morning

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 4th September 2013 (All posts by )

    (This is a post from long ago in the NCOBrief archives, which I have pulled out and reworked several times on this particular anniversary, but still relevant, especially with the Syrian situation hanging over us like a nightmare come to daylight.)

    A Sunday September morning, on one of those mild and gorgeous fall days, when the leaves are just starting to turn, but the last of the summer flowers still linger, and the days are warm, yet everyone grabs hold of those last few golden days, knowing how short they are of duration under the coming Doom of winter.

    And there is another Doom besides the changing of the seasons on this morning, a Doom that has been building inescapable by treaty obligation for the last two days, clear to the politically savvy for the last two weeks— since the two old political opposites-and-enemies inexplicably signed an alliance— deferred by a humiliating stand-down and betrayal of the trusting two years since, a doom apparent to the far-sighted for nearly a decade. The armies are marching, the jackals bidden to follow after the conqueror, a country betrayed and dismembered, the crack cavalry troops of an army rated as superior to the American Army as it existed then charging against tanks, their ancient and historic cities reduced to rubble – and by obligation and treaty, the Allies are brought to face a brutal reality. That after two decades of peace, after four years of war that countenanced the slaughter of a significant portion of a generation, that left small towns across Europe and Great Britain decimated and plastered with sad memorials carved with endless lists of names, acres of crosses and desolation, sacrifice and grief, for which no one could afterwards give a really good reason, a decade of pledging Never Again – war is come upon them, however much they would wish and hope and pray otherwise. Reservists had been called to active duty, children had been evacuated en mass from the crowded city center, and Neville Chamberlain, who had been given a choice between war and dishonor, chosen dishonor and now had to go before the nation on radio and announce the coming of war:
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    Posted in Anglosphere, Germany, History, War and Peace | 29 Comments »

    Ronald Coase, 1910-2013

    Posted by Lexington Green on 3rd September 2013 (All posts by )

    This blog is, after all, called “Chicago Boyz.” One of the greatest and most influential economists of all time, Prof. Coase was for many years a Chicago Boy. A career spanning eight decades has now come to an end.

    The official University of Chicago obituary is here.

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    Posted in America 3.0, Biography, Book Notes, Chicagoania, Economics & Finance, Obits, Quotations | 5 Comments »

    On Credibility

    Posted by T. Greer on 3rd September 2013 (All posts by )

     Image Source.

    On year ago President Obama declared “We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized.” Chemical weapons have been used. Some suggest that America will lose “credibility” if she does not honor the president’s promise and respond with military force.

    One wonders what kind of ‘credibility’ they are thinking of. 

    You know,” he says,  “I think Americans are liars.”

    She replied with a chortle. “How many have you met? I think I am honest enough.”

    “You know I did not mean you. I was actually thinking about your government.”

    If it makes you feel any better, I think most important people in the U.S. government are liars too. It comes with the job description. But if you don’t mind me asking, what brought you to the same conclusion?”

    His was a hollow laugh. “That is just it. You all think your politicians are liars but then America turns around and lectures the rest of the world on how great America’s government is and how we should all be like you. I am no fan of my government, but at least I acknowledge what kind of government my people have.”

    You are thinking about it the wrong way. If the American people want liars in charge, then liars there will be. The beauty of democracy is that if those liars don’t do what the people want then they get kicked out and new liars are put in.”

    “Liars either way.”

    Oh I don’t care what a politician says. I care about what a politician does. All politicians will say this thing or that thing to justify their actions. What matters is if those actions are for his people or against them. This is why I love the U.S. Constitution. By design it keeps power out of one man’s hands. It forces politicians to take normal citizens seriously. It makes it very hard for one clique or class to impose its rule on the rest.”

    “That is it. That is the lie. This idea that the United States government is “of the people” and “by the people” – that is the lie every American repeats. I am tired of it.” Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Politics, War and Peace | 37 Comments »