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  • Archive for December, 2013

    History Friday: The Rule of Law

    Posted by Lexington Green on 20th December 2013 (All posts by )

    [The Rule of Law] means in the first place, the absolute supremacy or predominance of regular law as opposed to the influence of arbitrary power, and excludes the existence of arbitrariness, of prerogative, or even of wide discretionary authority on the part of the government …. It means, again, equality before the law, or the equal subjection of all classes to the ordinary law of the land administered by the ordinary courts … [and], lastly,… that, in short, the principles of private law have with us been by the action of the courts and Parliament so extended as to determine the position of the Crown and of its servants; thus the constitution is the result of the ordinary law of the land.

    Albert Venn Dicey, Introduction to the Study of the Law of the Constitution (1885)

    Restated, Dicey says the Rule of Law consists of: (1) disallowing arbitrary power, restricting the use of power to what is permitted by law, (2) treating all person to the exact same law, in the same courts, without regard to their status, and (3) treating the officers of the government to exactly the same law as everybody else.

    Nota bene: Each of these elements is crumbling before our eyes in America in 2013. In particular, Mr. Obama’s arbitrary use of executive power, unmoored from legal foundation, is literally frightening.

    The Rule of Law is a standard we must demand and enforce as citizens. To the extent it has decayed, it must be restored. Any reform platform must include provisions to restore each of these features.

    Posted in History, Law, Quotations | 17 Comments »

    Calling For A Million Mutineers (With Some Backstory, A Plug for America 3.0 And A Really Cool Map)

    Posted by Lexington Green on 19th December 2013 (All posts by )

    Robert Lucas

    I recently ran across this quote:

    For income growth to occur in a society, a large fraction of people must experience changes in the possible lives they imagine for themselves and their children, and these new visions of possible futures must have enough force to lead them to change the way they behave … and the hopes they invest in these children: the way they allocate their time. In the words of [V.S. Naipaul] economic development requires “a million mutinies.”

    A Million Mutinies: The key to economic development, An excerpt from “Lectures on Economic Growth” by Robert E. Lucas, Jr. Professor Lucas is a Nobel laureate in Economics from the University of Chicago, so one of our homies.

    Lucas is right. Major change, political as well as economic, requires a change in peoples’ vision of the future, and requires that “a million mutinies” break out against the status quo.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Academia, America 3.0, Anglosphere, Arts & Letters, Book Notes, India, Politics, Tea Party | 3 Comments »

    Quote of the Day

    Posted by Jonathan on 18th December 2013 (All posts by )

    David P. Goldman (“Spengler”):

    Accepting the settlements is the sine qua non of any viable peace agreement. It does Israel no good to defend Israel’s right to exist but to condemn the settlers, as does Alan Dershowitz, not to mention the leaders of liberal Jewish denominations.
     
    I believe in land for peace. That is a tautology: In territorial disputes the two main variables always are land and peace. But that implies more land for more peace and less land for less peace. The Palestinian Arabs had an opportunity to accept an Israeli state on just 5,500 square miles of land in 1947, and refused to do so. The armistice lines of 1948 left Israel with 8,550 square miles, and the Arab side refused to accept that. In 1967 Israel took an additional 5,628 square miles of land in dispute under international law; Jordan does not claim it, and no legal Arab authority exists to claim it. It is not “illegally occupied.” It has never been adjudicated by a competent authority.
     
    To demand the 1948 armistice lines (the so-called 1967 borders) is to refuse any penalty for refusing to make peace in the past. That is the same as refusing any peace at all. Wars end when one side accepts defeat, and abandons the hope of restoring the status quo ante by force of arms. 1947 was a catastrophe (“Nakba”) for the Palestinian Arabs, to be sure, but it was a catastrophe of their own making; until they accept at least some degree of responsibility for the catastrophe, they will not be reconciled to any peace agreement. That is precisely what Palestine’s negotiator Saeb Erekat meant when he eschewed any recognition of Israel as a Jewish nation-state because “I cannot change my narrative.” The “narrative” is that the Jews are an alien intrusion into the Muslim Middle East and eventually must be eliminated by one means or another.

    Of course this is right. What kind of stable resolution to hostilities requires the self-ethnic cleansing of disputed territory by one side? The only peace deal worth a damn would be one in which the West Bank Arabs welcomed their Jewish neighbors. That the Arabs, aided by their American and European lawyers, insist on a Judenrein Judea and Samaria is proof of continued bad faith. Israel should sit tight and retain all of its military advantages.

    Posted in Israel, Jewish Leftism, Middle East, War and Peace | 20 Comments »

    Less Than a Year

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 18th December 2013 (All posts by )

    I saw this today:

    It is a pretty good ad. Zerocare has been a debacle, as we all expected it to be. It isn’t just a “broken website”. It is a classical 20th century big government scheme, completely unprepared and unable to deal with a 21st century economy – this is one of the main thrusts of America 3.0.

    Every Republican (and the groups cheering for them) should just shut up about pretty much everything but this one issue. Make the Democrats own it. It is theirs. It passed by a straight party vote. Make them eat it in 2014.

    Posted in America 3.0, Politics, Video | 8 Comments »

    Anecdotal Chicago Observations

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 18th December 2013 (All posts by )

    Last weekend I took the family to Chicago for our annual Christmas weekend in the big city. We had a great time, as always. Some observations below the fold.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Business, Chicagoania, Photos | 10 Comments »

    110 Years Ago Today…

    Posted by David Foster on 17th December 2013 (All posts by )

    …the Wright Brothers’s first flight.

    Posted in Aviation, History, Transportation, USA | 12 Comments »

    Archive Post – Very, Very Bad Toys

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 17th December 2013 (All posts by )

    Ran across this little account of the Very Worst Toys Ever, and began to chortle. (It’s an oft-repeated article, apparently – this version is from earlier this year.) Not so much at the toys themselves, although my brother JP, sister Pippy and I were actually given at least one of the deadly worst and a couple of the others mentioned in subsequent comments.

    We, of course, emerged un-maimed, although Dad probably regretted to the end of his days that he didn’t give either one of us the atomic energy lab. Probably couldn’t afford it, as he was only a poor graduate student on the GI bill, round and about the time it was on the market. We did have loving and generous grandparents, though; how we didn’t ever get BB rifles like all the other neighborhood kids is a mystery. Mom probably put her foot down about that, believing that yes, you could put out an eye with them. Well, so could you with a ‘wrist rocket’. We had a pair of them, a sort of bent-metal sling-shot with a bottom end that braced against your wrist so that you could sling a bit of gravel at practically ballistic speeds. But they weren’t toys- we had them to chase the blue jays away from the house where they tormented the cats and dogs unmercifully. As far as I know, Dad was the only one of us who ever actually hit a blue-jay with a wrist-rocket impelled missile. Square in the butt, actually. It let out an enormous squawk and vacated the premises henceforth and forthwith and at a good speed.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in North America, Personal Narrative, Society | 30 Comments »

    The Art of the Remake – XIII

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 17th December 2013 (All posts by )

    The standard:

    If you are going to cover a song, rip it apart a bit and make it your own.

    The original version of “This is the Day” by The The:

    The remake, by Manic Street Preachers:

    A fantastic job.

    The original song is now thirty years old, which makes me feel old, but what is new.

    Posted in Music, Video | 2 Comments »

    A Truly Diabolical Monetary Policy (rerun)

    Posted by David Foster on 16th December 2013 (All posts by )

    (The leadership transition at the Fed inspires me to rerun this post, which initially appeared in December 2008)

    In Goethe’s Faust, Mephistopheles desires the introduction of paper money. At his instigation, courtiers approach the emperor at a masked ball and get him to sign the following document:

    To all it may Concern upon Our Earth
    This paper is a thousand guilders worth
    There lies, sure warrant of it and full measure
    Beneath Our earth a wealth of buried treasure
    As for this wealth, the means are now in train
    To raise it and redeem the scrip again

    In the bright sunlight of morning, the now-sober emperor observes hundreds of pieces of paper, each bearing his signature and claiming to be equivalent in value to gold, and demands to know what is being done to apprehend the counterfeiters.

    Treasurer: Recall–Your own self signed it at the time,
    Only last night. You stood in Great Pan’s mask
    And with the Chancellor we approach to ask:
    “Allow yourself high festive joy and nourish
    The common weal with but a pen’s brief flourish.”
    You signed: that night by men of a thousand arts
    The thing was multiplied a thousand parts
    So that like blessing should all accrue
    We stamped up all the lower series too
    Tens, Thirties, Fifties, Hundreds did we edit
    The good it did folk, you would hardly credit.
    Your city, else half molded in stagnation
    Now teems revived in prosperous elation!
    Although your name has long been widely blessed
    It’s not been spelt with such fond interest
    The alphabet has now been proved redundanct
    In this sign everyone finds grace abundant

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Economics & Finance, Poetry | 2 Comments »

    ZIRP Embodied

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 15th December 2013 (All posts by )

    ZIRP or “Zero Interest Rate Policy” has been in effect in the USA since late 2008. From that point forward, the effective interest received on money from CD’s, banks, and non-risk bearing debt is very low, especially when taxation is taken into consideration.

    Recently I was standing at an ATM when I saw this receipt casually left on the ground. It showed over $300,000 left in a low or non interest bearing account. To me, this embodies how ZIRP has turned the world on its head.

    When I was growing up, inflation was high and interest rates were high, too. I distinctly remember my grandfather having an argument with someone else when he said that interest rates would never go below 10% again (they were nearly 20% at the time). If you had any money, you had to put it to work to get the benefit of “compounding interest” which is basically interest earned on interest, which would make your assets grow quickly. In parallel, of course, inflation was making everything cost more, so you were probably treading water, but that is a different issue entirely.

    In the age of ZIRP, there is no point instructing anyone about the advantages of compounding interest, because the effects are too small to be believed. In the portfolios I run for my nieces and nephews, they receive ZERO CENTS most months on the cash held in their account, and the cumulative year end totals are too small to receive an interest 1099 from the IRS. The SEC fee, which amounts to a few pennies per trade, actually is a larger cost, so I am just likely to ignore both elements.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Business, Economics & Finance | 16 Comments »

    Book Review – Breakfast With the Dirt Cult

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 15th December 2013 (All posts by )

    It was a thing that I noticed over the course of my own military service that generally American youth changed more radically between the age of 18 and 25 than at any other time of their life save that span between infant and kindergartner. Or at least, that portion of it that chooses to join the military does. Such people  enlist and trundle off to boot camp and their first duty assignment – they are kids; impetuous, ruled by impulse and mad urges to indulge in all kinds of attractive bad things … but somehow over the course of that rocky journey, the largest portion grow into mature, focused and relatively well-adjusted adults. Serious obligations and sometimes life-threatening experiences – such as serving at the very pointy end of the spear that is America’s military – have that effect.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Afghanistan/Pakistan, Arts & Letters, Book Notes, Conservatism, Military Affairs | 5 Comments »

    Obamacare, the Scrooging

    Posted by TM Lutas on 14th December 2013 (All posts by )

    People signing up for Obamacare are being robbed by the government. This time it’s not metaphorically, like when your perfectly satisfactory insurance plan is made illegal and all the compliant plans are more expensive and have worse terms but literally. People are having their accounts debited improperly during the Christmas season. And because it is being done by the government, there is little recourse to sue due to sovereign immunity and, of course, those most injured haven’t the money to hire representation anyway. I think Pope Francis calls it ‘despoliation of the poor’.

    Double debits, wrong day debits, wrong amount debits, these are all standard hazards with any sort of Electronic Funds Transfer (ETF) system. There’s nothing particularly new about these issues. It’s all part of the back end errors that those dastardly Republicans have been hyperventilating about and Democrats have been pooh poohing for weeks now.

    You never know when Tuttle will turn into Buttle in one of these systems. But what’s in a name?

    Merry Christmas

    Cross posted: Flit-TM

    Posted in Big Government, Health Care, Obama, Video | 20 Comments »

    The Art of the Remake XII

    Posted by Lexington Green on 14th December 2013 (All posts by )

    Otis Redding, That’s How Strong My Love Is (1965)

    The most famous version, and a great one:

    My favorite version: The Creation, That’s How Strong My Love Is (1966). The Creation perform live on the German TV show Beat Beat Beat.

    The original version, nicely done by O.V. Wright, That’s How Strong My Love Is (1964).

    Here is a nice version by the Rolling Stones, on the Ready Steady Go show, in 1965.

    Our standard: “If you are going to cover a song, rip it apart a bit and make it your own.” Otis did it, taking the song farther down the soulful road it was on. The Creation took it to a different place, making it a rock song, but still with soulful singing. The Stones version is closer to the Otis Version, with saxophone, but still Stonesy.

    A great song can withstand a lot of “ripping apart.”

    UPDATE:

    Bryan Ferry, That’s How Strong My Love Is (1978).

    UPDATE II

    Tommy Young, That’s How Strong My Love Is (1972). She sang this song over the music track in one take. Nice.

    Posted in Music | Comments Off on The Art of the Remake XII

    “Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Decisive Moment”

    Posted by Jonathan on 14th December 2013 (All posts by )

    This is pretty good.

    Posted in Photos, Video | 3 Comments »

    History Friday: MacArthur’s Human Porter Logistics

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 13th December 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 least explored aspects of MacArthur’s fighting style was his highly flexible approach to logistics, which he described as “We are doing what we can with what we have.” Logistics being the ability to transport and supply military forces. In describing MacArthur’s flexibility, and poor documentation of same, I wrote previously:

    “One of the maddening things about researching General Douglas MacArthur’s fighting style in WW2 was the way he created, used and discarded military institutions, both logistical and intelligence, in the course of his South West Pacific Area (SWPA) operations. Institutions that had little wartime publicity and have no direct organizational descendent to tell their stories in the modern American military.”

    The importance of logistics is the reason for the adage, “Amateurs talk tactics while professionals talk logistics.”

    Today’s column is the story of one of those many “throw away” logistical institutions. In this case, it was MacArthur’s “human porter logistics” — native workers provided by the Australian and Dutch East Indies colonial authorities — married to the 5th Air Force’s primitive bootleg radio beacon navigation. A mid-20th century great-great-grandfather of today’s Global Positioning System radio beacon satellites.

    American and Australian casualties, with Papuan Stretcher Bearers.

    American and Australian casualties, with Papuan Stretcher Bearers. Men like the ones pictured were key in moving supplies from forward air drop zones to Australian and American troops in New Guinea.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in History, Military Affairs, Miscellaneous, National Security, Transportation, Uncategorized, War and Peace | 11 Comments »

    Fog

    Posted by Jonathan on 13th December 2013 (All posts by )

    Sunrise fog and reflections at the Long Pine Key pond in Everglades National Park, Florida. (Jonathan Gewirtz   jonathan@gewirtz.net)

    Posted in Photos | 1 Comment »

    History Friday – Walking in the Forest of Stone

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

    Blondie in the Court of the Oranges – Cordova 1990

    The ancient building at the heart of Cordova’s old quarter breathed quiet, and the cool dimness of an old-growth forest, that kind of forest where the straight trunks of ancient trees spring from the leaf-mast, moss or bracken fronds at their feet. There is no intermediate brush, no smaller trees clogging the sightlines between the tree trunks, which go on forever in every direction. Shafts of sunshine sometimes find a break in the green canopy overhead, and in the morning, wisps of fog tangle around the tree-trunks like tatters of silk scarf. But there was no early morning fog here, no bracken or grass at our feet, only the ancient floor paving, undulating slightly with twelve hundred years of wear and settlement.

    My daughter and I blinked, coming in from the dazzle outside— pillared groves of orange trees in the courtyard outside, under a brilliant blue sky, magenta bougainvillea flaming against whitewash and the rose-honey color of weathered terracotta tiles.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Book Notes, Deep Thoughts, Europe, History, Islam | 3 Comments »

    Source of America’s Problems Discovered

    Posted by David Foster on 12th December 2013 (All posts by )

    …quite a few of them, anyway

    The above poster was apparently often found on the walls of high-school guidance counselors in the 1970s. So says Mike Rowe, who has proposed an improved version of the poster. Link.

    via American Digest

    Posted in Academia, Advertising, Business, Economics & Finance, Education, USA | 16 Comments »

    Christmas Cookies

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

    Pecan Angel Cookies – packed in a tin for delivery

    (This year my daughter and I decided to afflict our neighbors with Christmas cookies again – in years past we have done herb vinegars and oils, pickles and preserves and home-made cheeses and bread.)

    Pecan Angel Slices
    (from Joy of Cooking – 1975 Edition)
    Cream together until well-blended: ½ cup butter and ¼ cup sugar
    Beat in well: 1 egg and ½ teasp vanilla
    Combine and add to the above: 1 ¼ cup sifted flour and 1/8 teasp salt

    Pat dough evenly into a greased 9×12 inch pan and bake at 350° for fifteen minutes. Remove from oven.

    Combine: 2 beaten eggs, 1 ½ cup brown sugar, ½ cup flaked cocoanut, 1 cup chopped pecans, 2 Tbsp. flour, ½ teasp double acting baking powder, ½ teasp salt and 1 teasp vanilla.
    Pour over cookie layer and return to oven for 25 minutes

    Combine 1 ½ cup sifted confectioner’s sugar with sufficient lemon juice to make a smooth, runny glaze. Pour over warm cookie/pecan/coconut layer and allow to set.

    When cool, cut into bars or squares. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays … and bon appetite!

    Posted in Recipes | 5 Comments »

    The Obamacare’s 0.7% New Policy Payment Problem

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 11th December 2013 (All posts by )

    Allahpundit over on the HotAir blog has a post up titled “Uh oh: Only 5-15% of enrollees have paid their first month of premiums in some ObamaCare plans” that has some hugely interesting numbers regards the payment rate for those who have signed up for Obamacare to date.

    There are 365,000 enrollees in Obamacare thus far. Only 15% of them have paid for their 1st month of healthcare insurance. This means _AT BEST_ less than 55,000 of the 365,000 who have enrolled will have insurance come January 2014.

    The individual healthcare market prior to Obamacare was over 7 million people holding policies.

    That works out to 0.7% of the individual policy holders that had old pre-Obamacare private health insurance policies, who have renewed their policies under Obamacare, given a 15% payment compliance rate. Remember, that is the _BEST CASE_ It may be as little as 1/3 that compliance number and percentage.

    There are less than 30 days for the other 99.3% of the individual healthcare market to get an Obamacare policy.

    I wonder what odds Las Vegas bookies would give for an Obamacare paid policy rate 10% of the old individual healthcare market, AKA Obamacare policies for 700,000?

    Posted in Uncategorized | 16 Comments »

    Kipling on income inequality

    Posted by Margaret on 11th December 2013 (All posts by )

    AN IMPERIAL RESCRIPT

    Now this is the tale of the Council the German Kaiser decreed,
    To ease the strong of their burden, to help the weak in their need…

    And the young King said: — “I have found it, the road to the rest ye seek:
    The strong shall wait for the weary, the hale shall halt for the weak:
    With the even tramp of an army where no man breaks from the line,
    Ye shall march to peace and plenty in the bond of brotherhood — sign!”
    ….
    And the men drew back from the paper, as a Yankee delegate spoke: —

    “There’s a girl in Jersey City who works on the telephone;
    We’re going to hitch our horses and dig for a house of our own,
    With gas and water connections, and steam-heat through to the top;
    And, W. Hohenzollern, I guess I shall work till I drop.”

    And an English delegate thundered: — “The weak an’ the lame be blowed!
    I’ve a berth in the Sou’-West workshops, a home in the Wandsworth Road;
    And till the ‘sociation has footed my buryin’ bill,
    I work for the kids an’ the missus. Pull up? I be damned if I will!”

    And over the German benches the bearded whisper ran: —
    “Lager, der girls und der dollars, dey makes or dey breaks a man.
    If Schmitt haf collared der dollars, he collars der girl deremit;
    But if Schmitt bust in der pizness, we collars der girl from Schmitt.”

    Posted in Arts & Letters, Diversions, Economics & Finance | 4 Comments »

    The Art of the Remake XI

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 11th December 2013 (All posts by )

    Smashing Pumpkins, Space Oddity. A fantastic job. As always, remember the standard:

    If you are going to cover a song, rip it apart a bit and make it your own

    Posted in Music, Video | 1 Comment »

    Wynwood

    Posted by Jonathan on 10th December 2013 (All posts by )

    Some pics from this past Sunday, now on my photoblog.

    Wynwood Art District

    Posted in Photos | 2 Comments »

    WordPress Bleg

    Posted by Jonathan on 10th December 2013 (All posts by )

    Can anyone suggest an easy way to display all blog posts for one author in one category?

    Thanks.

    Posted in Blegs | 6 Comments »

    “Occupy Pennsylvania Avenue”

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

    New from Kevin Villani: Occupy Pennsylvania Avenue: How Politicians Caused the Financial Crisis and Why their Reforms Failed, and the Kindle version: Occupy Pennsylvania Avenue

    (Kevin has shared on this blog a couple of prior works on the same subject. You can find those essays, and reader comments in response, here.)

    Posted in Big Government, Book Notes, Economics & Finance, Public Finance, Urban Issues | Comments Off on “Occupy Pennsylvania Avenue”