"There are men, in all ages, who mean to exercise power usefully; but who mean to exercise it. They mean to govern well; but they mean to govern. They promise to be kind masters; but they mean to be masters." Daniel Webster

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Good and Bad of Being a Hooters Girl

Dressing like an '80s gym teacher is part of the bad.

Monday, June 29, 2009

When Did Thomas Sowell Become Batshit Crazy?

No, really. I stopped paying attention to him about 20 years ago when he gave up serious scholarship in favor of writing boilerplate conservative screeds and cranky old man cultural observations.

So I'm a bit surprised to see just how nutty he has become. Or maybe this is what boilerplate conservative screeds have become and Sowell is just following along.

HT: Tyler Cowen, whose commentors make the tenchant observation that Sowell may be the Paul Krugam of the right, a once serious economist whose turn to partisan hackery ended in sheer madness.

Supreme Court Makes Things Impossible for Business

Conservatives have generally been applauding the Supreme Court decision in the Boston fire department case, but at the Volokh Conspiracy, Ilya Somin writes:

The Court's ruling makes life more difficult for employers trapped between the Scylla of Title VII disparate impact liability and the Charybdis of "disparate treatment" suits by white employees ("disparate treatment" suits are cases alleging traditional intentional racial discrimination). If a business adopts a race-neutral hiring or promotion standard that results in few or no minority hires or promotions, it is potentially vulnerable to a disparate impact lawsuit. As several Supreme Court cases make clear, that can happen even if the business was not intentionally trying to disadvantage minorities. But if the business adopts race-conscious measures to try to shield itself from liability (e.g. - by practicing affirmative action, adopting a standard that is more favorable to minority applicants, and the like), it opens itself up to "disparate treatment" lawsuits by whites, such as one the filed by the New Haven firefighters in Ricci.

Though Your Most Grievous Fault

With all the celebrity deaths recently, I thought i'd link to Ayn Rand's column on the death of Marilyn Monroe, one of her most famous essays.

Foundations of the Current Recession

Good paper from economist Steve Horwitz.

Toyota Designs Wheelchair Steered by Brain Waves

Next comes the brain-steered car.

Michael Jackson's Autopsy

Yeah, the Sun isn't the New York Times, but this seems believable. And if my internet calculator is right, he weighed 112 pounds at a height of 70 inches.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Billy Mays vs. Barack Obama

Andrew Malcolm writes:

Here's the deal: Billy was real. He would only sell products that passed his test, that worked and that he himself used at home. He even handed out samples to guests.

You don't see that much elsewhere in American society today, especially in politicians. For instance, if Billy was, say, president and trying to sell us all on a massive national public education reform program costing billions of dollars, you just know he'd have his kids in those very same public schools, not off safely in some fancy private place.

If Billy set his mind to closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, he was so good at selling that he'd have towns clamoring to take not just one, not just two, but three suspected terrorists for local incarceration. Count on it.

5 Pathethc Groups That People Think Rule the World

From the fine folks at Cracked.

Non-Interference Means Not Interfering

Daniel Larison explains

UPDATE: It seems that Barack Obama is following a different course in Honduras than in Iran, actively trying to prevent the ouster of that country's president. Maybe he needs to be reminded of what non-interference means.

Keeping a Wary Eye on Obama, Part IV

Der Spiegel writes:

The occupant of the White House may have changed recently. But the amount of ill-advised ideology coming from Washington has remained constant. Obama's list of economic errors is long -- and continues to grow.

The president may have changed, but the excesses of American politics have remained. Barack Obama and George W. Bush, it has become clear, are more similar than they might seem at first glance.


It is often said that the Chinese and the Japanese will buy government bonds. But the truth of the matter is that trust in the gravitas and reliability of the United States has suffered to such a great degree that fewer and fewer foreigners are purchasing its government bonds. That's why the Federal Reserve is now buying securities that it has printed itself. The Fed's balance sheet has more than doubled since 2007, making the US central bank one of the world's fastest-growing companies. The purpose of this company, though, is to create money out of thin air.

Fallacy No. 5: The additional money is harmless because the economy is starting to pull together again and there is no threat of inflation. The truth is that the quiet on the inflation front is deceptive. The hot money is accumulating in people's savings accounts and in the balance sheets of banks that aren't keen to lend money at the moment. The supply of money has increased by 45 percent in the last three years and there has not been a corresponding rise in hard assets or production. That imbalance will eventually make itself felt in the form of inflation.

The dollar, which has already lost 40 percent of its value against the euro since 2000, would then devaluate and its reputation would be further diminished. The world's reserve currency could be pushed through the floor by the shockwaves. At that point, those waves would also wash over the rest of the world. Then people would have to look back and say that the means the US used to fight the economic crisis in fact paved the way for a currency crisis.

Farrah and Ayn

Amy Wallace has a fun little piece about the relationship between Ayn Rand and Farrah Fawcett. Now, if someone can only tell us about the friendship between Murray Rothbard and Tom Selleck.


Saturday, June 27, 2009

EPA Says Less Renewable Energy if Waxman-Markey Passed

No wonder they suppressed this report.

Why Can't All Government Meetings Be Like This?

HT: Katherine Mangu-Ward.

The Aristocracy of Pull, Part V

If you or I did this, it might be called insider trading.

Cap and Trade

Not only did the House of Representatives approve a bill that no one had actually read, they approved a bill that doesn't even exist.

Volver, Volver

Why I'm Not a Conservative, Part VIII

While I believe this ad may be in bad taste, I don't believe that images of the Palin family are sacred, therefore it's impossible to desecrate them

Friday, June 26, 2009

Thursday, June 25, 2009

I Ain't a Crawlin' for No Damn Government

HT: David Beito

Julian Simon Lives

Michael Lynch writes at Master Resource:

The Potential Gas Committee has issued its new biennial gas resource estimate for the United States and once again raised its estimate, this time by 15%, or from 1,321 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) to 1,525 Tcf. This equates to a 70-year domestic cushion, given annual U.S. consumption of 20 Tcf. The evaluation of available shale gas, production of which is now soaring, played a major role in this re-evaluation and potently demonstrates how new technology (aka human ingenuity, what the late Julian Simon called the ultimate resource) creates resources, refuting the static fixity/depletion view of the mineral-resource world

Misinformation from the Heritage Foundation

Benjamin Friedman looks at conservative claims that Barack Obama is cutting defense spending.

Keeping a Wary Eye on Obama, Part XIII

A top economist for China's Communist Party says the country should buy gold and land instead of U.S. Treasury bonds because of the risk of inflation.

Time for Japan to do More

Doug Bandow reports that Japan is becoming less comfortable relying on the United States for its defense.

Swine Flu Likely Started in Asia

And not in Mexico, where it was first spotted.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

In modern societies, children are no longer capital goods, but luxury consumption items

Ron Bailey reports that there's an inverse relationship between a nation's economic freedom and its total fertility rate.

Economic freedom and the rule of law produce prosperity which dramatically lowers child mortality which, in turn, reduces the incentive to bear more children. In addition, along with increased prosperity comes more education for women, opening up more productive opportunities for them in the cash economy. This increases the opportunity costs for staying at home to rear children. Educating children to meet the productive challenges of growing economies also becomes more expensive and time consuming.

War Without End

George Wilson explains the consequences.

No Matter Who the President of Iran Is, They Would Stone Me

Iranian dissident Lila Ghobady writes:

Twelve years ago, we went through the same process. Mohamad Khatami became the favorite of the western media, which called him a “reformist” who spoke beautifully about freedom of speech, civil rights and dialogue between cultures. But when he became president there was a crack down on a student uprising – a crackdown against the same students who voted for him. Many were killed, many disappeared, and many were tortured. Artists, authors and intellectuals disappeared and were found “mysteriously” murdered. The smooth-talking president Khatami, whom westerners loved, never tried to stop the violence and never showed sympathy to his supporters. Instead, he openly avowed that his responsibility was to respect the wishes of the supreme leader, Ayotollah Khameni, and to protect the security of the Islamic regime.

Now, the passionate and oppressed young generation of Iranians are going through exact same situation. They are supporting Khatami’s friend, Mousavi. It is sad that history repeats itself so quickly in my beloved country of birth. The people of Iran were fed up with poverty, injustice, corruption and international embarrassment with the knuckle-dragging, anti-Semitic, war-mongering cretin who was President Ahmadinejad. They chose to support a bad choice – Mousavi – rather than the worse choice, Ahmadinejad. However, when an election is really a selection, choice is an illusion. Mousavi is from the Islamic regime; he is inseparable from it, and all its abuses and cruelties.

The reality is that Iran has not had a democratic, free election for the past 30 years. Mr Mousavi, if elected, will not make any changes, not because he is powerless to do so (as Khatami’s supporters claimed during his presidency), but because he doesn’t believe in a democratic state as his background shows. He belongs to the fanatic dictatorial era of Ayotollah Khomeini and he believes in the same command-and-control system of government. We should not forget Khomeini’s statement in one of his speeches after the revolution about democracy. He said that “if all people of Iran say ‘yes” I would say no to something that I would believe is not right for the Islamic Nation”.

Let us not forget that Mousavi was Prime Minister of Iran in the 1980s when more than ten thousand political prisoners were executed after three-minute sham trials. He has been a part of the Iranian dictatorship system for the past 30 years. If he had not been, he would not be allowed to be a candidate in the first place. In fact in a free democratic state someone like Mousavi should have gone on trial before becoming a presidential candidate for his crimes against thousands of freedom-loving political prisoners who were killed during the time he was Iran's Prime Minister.

A quick look at Mousavi’s political biography reveals him to be a fanatic Khomeini supporter and a fanatic hard-liner similar to Ahmadinejad and others in control of the Islamic regime. His reign as Prime Minister was one of the darkest times in the history of Iran’s Islamic regime in terms of censorship and human rights violations. He is also backed up by the Rafsanjani mafia family, who have stolen oil money for their own family interests while 70% of the population lives in poverty.

HT: Will Wilkinson

Herbert Spencer on Patriotism

Some of those who claim to be libertarians outgh to read this excerpt.

Are Conservatives More Libertarian Than Libertarians?

The Republican echo chamber says they are if those conservatives advocate economic sanctions, imperialism and militarism. I don't think that word means what he things it means.

Gouging and Hoarding

Jim Fedako asks why either should be illegal.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Monday, June 22, 2009

"Libertarians" Against Property Rights and Freedom of Association

Rad Geek (Charles johnson) has an amazing smackdown of alleged libertarian columnist Vin Suprynowicz. A sample:

A ““trespasser”” is someone who intrudes on another person’s property against the will of the property-owner.

Let’s pretend I’m an illegal immigrant renting an apartment, working for a meat-packing plant, shopping at the local grocery store, et cetera. Presumably my landlord is willing for me to live on his or her property: if the owner didn’t want me to live there, he or she wouldn’t have signed the lease. Presumably, also, my boss is willing for me to be inside his or her plant; otherwise he or she wouldn’t be paying me to do it. Presumably, also, the stores I shop at are willing for me to be inside their stores: otherwise, they wouldn’t welcome my business.

So just whose property, exactly, am I ““trespassing”” on?

Why Japan?

Steve Sailer writes:

One important finding in Charles Murray's 2003 book Human Accomplishment is that during the rise of the West from 1500 onward, most major civilizations outside the West were stagnating culturally -- even in categories where they only compete against themselves (e.g., Arabic Literature, Chinese Literature, Indian Literature, Chinese Painting, Indian Philosophy, and Chinese Philosophy).

Only the Japanese seemed to be making steady progress on broad fronts. Not as fast as Europe, but during their isolationist period from 1601-1853, the Japanese were developing many of the features of modern Japan (geisha culture, sumo wrestling, etc.) and continued to progress in the arts. This forward movement may explain why they responded more impressively to the Western challenge when it finally arrived in 1853.

He asks what was different about Japan?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

It Isn't Always About Us

The American Conservative's Daniel Larison writes

The protests were always going to face an enormous uphill battle against the government, and the Obama administration has given them their best chance for success by refusing to act as their cheerleader. The United States will not and should not intervene with direct action. Consequently, provocative language from the White House would likely only incite a bloodier crackdown. The protesters are already risking their lives-it would be unconscionable for the President to put them in greater danger by making proclamations that lend them no real aid and serve only to appease his domestic critics. It is ironic in the extreme that the same critics who rail against the President for his so-called "narcissism" should demand that Obama insert himself into an internal Iranian drama with potentially disastrous consequences for the people in the streets of Iran.

Heck of a Way to Spend Father's Day

Former wrestler Brian Blair was arrested for beating up his teenage sons.

After wrestling, Blair got into Republican politics in Florida. An avowed Christian, he served one term on a county commission in Florida, where he was most known for speaking out against gay marriage and medical marijuana and for Internet filters in public libraries. He also reprotedly had at least one other domestic violence charge leveled at him years ago.

George Will Defends Barack Obama

The Iran situation is quickly showing who the adults on the conservative side are.

It Seems Our Criticism Is Selective

Ron Paul on Congress's Iran resolution. Making sense as usual.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Robert Baer on Iran

The ex-CIA operative says be wary.

Japan May Abolish Currency

The idea is getting serious consideration.

HT: Tyler Cowen, who says you can buy a "swine placenta" drink there. You never mentioned that, Ron.

Going Broke in Venezuela

Hugo Chavez's currency controls backfire. Is anyone besides el jefe surprised?

Graveyard Shift

A Question for Neocons

They'd been having a bit of a love-fest with Barack Obama, after they realized that he was not going to roll back in any significant ways their adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan. But now they are upset that he is not threatening Iran with nuclear destruction.

Abu Muqawama asks:

what is your endstate? Where are we trying to ultimately go? Are we trying to force a bloody crackdown on the protesters so the world can see how horrific the regime is and will then approve tough sanctions? Are we trying to start an armed confrontation with Iran? Just tell me what you are trying to acheive through a more openly confrontational stance and I'll listen. But for now, I suspect that one of the reasons Krauthammer, Kagan & Co. are criticizing Obama's tactics vis a vis Iran is because the majority of Americans would find their strategic goals they hint at but never reveal to be bat-guano crazy. Prove me wrong.

Friday, June 19, 2009

When Right-Wing Radio Goes Bad

Does that assume it is ever good?

Soccer Player Dies, Then Lives Again

He had a heart attack during a game, but a defibrillator revives him.

Ron Paul Praises Barack Obama

On Iran.

Why I'm Not a Conservative, Part VI

Hip hop Republicans.

1 in 4 South African Men Is a Rapist

Well, one in four admit to committing a rape

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Palin's Strategy

As a number of people have noted, Jay Leno made pretty much the same joke about Sarah Palin's daughter during the campaign, and no one complained. What was different this time?

At The American Conservative blog, Sean Scallon says it's a harbinger of how Palin will campaign for president: plenty of personality and self-pity, not a lot of new ideas.

Meanwhile, The Onion offers its take on the matter.

La Mucura

Flaco Jimenez and the late Freddy Fender

Take a Pass on Pass ID

Jim Harper explains what is wrong with the latest attempt to institute an internal passport.

Keeping a Wary Eye on Obama, Part XII

Exxon chief says oil prices are climbing because the dollar is getting weaker, not because demand is rising.

Obama's Realism

Daniel Larison says the administration is handling Iran well.

It goes without saying that if Obama had taken a more ardently pro-Mousavi line, he would be catching flak from many of the same people who would attack his response as naive “Yes We Can” idealism detached from harsh realities. What is striking is how many of Obama’s more hawkish critics are prepared to argue that U.S. policy should be defined by syrupy sentimentality, hope and a lot of empty talk (all of the things they have accused Obama of offering in the past), while Obama has so far opted for caution, humility and restraint.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

U.S. Ambassador: I Would Like to Dishonor Your Daughter

This country is in the best of hands.

Republicans, Stop Being Such Whiners

Steve Crowder urges them to develop a sense of humor. But without their common feelings of victimization and demands for political correctness, what really binds the GOP together?

An Internal Passport By Any Name

Homeland Security director Janet Napolitano wants to replace rename the Real ID national ID card with something called Pass ID.

Meanwhile, five senators try to revive the Real ID idea uner another name

At the Amnerican Conservative blog Daniuel McCarthy writes:

This is typical of how liberties get chipped away: when the public in the states rallies against assaults on privacy, the security apparatus in D.C. switches tracks to implement its wish-list piecemeal. We’ll see whether the feds succeed in undercutting the grassroots revolt in the states.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

10 Worst Injuries in MMA

Obama and Iran

Daniel Larison says he has gotten this one right.

Justin Logan says he should keep staying quiet.

The Incredible Bread Machine

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Aristocracy of Pull, Part IV

In 2008, lobbying spending in Washington, D.C., rose to 80% more than its previous high. It's continuing to climb this year, as are luxury hotel bookings in D.C. Meanwhile, luxury hotel bookings are down 20% in San Francisco.

Ole Anderson Turns on Dusty Rhodes

Maybe the most famous angle in wrestling history. If Dusty's interview at the very end doesn't send chills up your spine, you aren't a fan.

Ansar Hizbollah Is Not Hizbollah

Abu Muqawama explains the difference.

Ask a Puerto Rican

Gustavo Arellano finds out that actor Benicio del Toro is an ass.

HT: Matt Welch.

Keeping a Wary Eye on Obama, Part XI

The wealthy now see farm land as a great investment opporutnity? Why? Well, they believe population growth will drive up food prices, but also, according to Lord Rothschild:

"If you look at the macro picture today," says Rothschild, "we have an extraordinary situation. If you take governments' printing money as fast as they are, borrowing as fast as they are, and bailing out white-elephant corporations, we're surely going to have an inflationary situation fairly soon." In that kind of environment, owning a hard asset like land is a good hedge.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Leno Told Basically the Same Joke

Back during the presidential camapign, Jay Leno made basically the same joke about Sarah Palin's daughter that David Letterman did. The Palinb's didn't react with "outrage" then.

Of course, at that point, as the Republian vice presidential candidate, Palin had no trouble keeping her name and face in the news.

A Judge Follows the Law

And upsets the plans of the Obama administration.

HT: David Henderson.

Iran's Free Market Reformer

Meet economist Mohammad Tabibian.

HT: Tyler Cowen.

Parlez Nous a Boire

One of the highlights of the film "Southern Comfort" is hearing Dewey Balfa perform this song.

A Government of Men, Not Laws

A lawsuit claims California officials conspired with the Obama administration to violate the state's ban on race and sex preferences by reserving contracts for minority and female-owned businesses.

Japanese Women Love the Samurai

But how do they feel about ninjas?

The Right-Wing Has Its Priorities

Zipping around the conservative Web, I don't see a lot about what's going on in Iran. (With the great exception of Andrew Sullivan, who has all sorts of links.) I do find them still trembling and moaning about David Letterman's jokes about Sarah Palin's family. Conservatism is no longer a body of ideas. It's a communal sense of perpetual victimhood and cult of personality.

The New Voodoo Economics

Barack Obama says we've got to spend more if we want to spend less. Economist Tyler Cowen says "Huh?"

The Next Bubble

Jerry O'Driscoll sees it coming.

Left and Right

From Laurence Vance, at LewRockwell.com

[W]e should also remember that the Right is not pro-liberty and in favor of less government. Instead, the Right is for liberty and less government when the Left is in power. When the Right is in power, well, just look at what happened under Bush and his Republican majority. Worse still, the Right is for war no matter who is in power.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Cute Things Falling Asleep

What I said.

Something Big Happening in Iran?

You'd never know it from watching the American cable news channels. On CNN, they are talking about AIDS. On Headlines News, we've got Nancy Grace talking about the latest missing baby. Fox is talking about David Letterman and Sarah Palin. MSNBC has one of their numerous "inside prison" shows, and CNBC is re-running an episode of "Deal or No Deal." Incidentally, Hayley Marie Norman is my favorite suitcase model.

RIP Mitsuharu Misawa

One of the greatest performers of the 1990s has passed away after an incident in the ring.

Steve Sailer Has a Question

A good one.

Fabius Maximus tried to find an answer.

The Aristocracy of Pull, Part III

The New York Times reports that deciding who gets loans and who doesn't is increasingly becoming a political decision, not an economic or financial one.

Economists Alex Tabarrok and David Henderson have more.

Super Repo Man

Nick Popovich repos jet airplanes, and business has never been better.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Mexico Has Been the Grownup in This Dispute

Deroy Murdock shows how Barack Obama and the Democratic Congress have started trade wars with Canada and Mexico.

In the Pines, Cajun Style

From Japan

I just don't get it.

HT: Radley Balko

Why I'm Not a Conservative, Part V

I don't break down, all sobbing and apoplectic, over the jokes of a late night comedian. I don't care what Jon Voight has to say about politics. And I don't blame the Holocaust Museum shooting on evolution being taught in schools.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Rand's Revenge

Ayn Rand vs. William F. Buckley, Jr.

Counter-Insurgent Smackdown

Col. Andrew Bacevich tears up the plans of the left-wing of the American imperialists by asking the one question they can't answer: Why?

The Aristocracy of Pull, Part II

The Washington Post reports members of Congress and their families have invested in companies they've been busy bailing out.

Right-Wing Extremism

At Reason's Hit & Run blog, Jesse Walker takes on those who say the Holocaust shooting confirms the Department of Homeland Security report on right-wing extremism:

So the Department of Homeland Security, a bloated and dysfunctional agency that shouldn't exist in the first place, should spend its time tracking the possibility that a criminal kook with no co-conspirators will decide to shoot a doctor or a security guard? From preventing another 9/11 to preventing unorganized shootings: Talk about mission creep. Yes, these murders are terrorism, but they're the sort of terrorism that can be contained by the average small-town police force. If you try to blow them up into a grand pattern that threatens ordinary Americans, you're no different from the C-level conservative pundits who treat every politically motivated crime by a Muslim as evidence of a broad Islamic threat to ordinary Americans' well-being. (The reliably inane Debbie Schlussel even blames Islam for the Holocaust Museum shooting, despite the fact that the killer is a neo-Nazi, on the grounds that "it is because of Muslims--who are the biggest contributor to the worldwide rise in anti-Semitism to Holocaust-eve levels--that neo-Nazis feel comfortable--far more comfortable!--manifesting their views about Jews.")

Why did the DHS report come under such fire? It wasn't because far-right cranks are incapable of committing crimes. It's because the paper blew the threat of right-wing terror out of proportion, just as the Clinton administration did in the '90s; because it treated "extremism" itself as a potential threat, while offering a definition of extremist so broad it seemed it include anyone who opposed abortion or immigration or excessive federal power; and because it fretted about the danger of "the return of military veterans facing significant challenges reintegrating into their communities." (Note that neither the killing in Kansas last month nor the shooting in Washington yesterday was committed by an Iraq or Afghanistan vet.) The effect isn't to make right-wing terror attacks less likely. It's to make it easier to smear nonviolent, noncriminal figures on the right, just as the most substantial effect of a red scare was to make it easier to smear nonviolent, noncriminal figures on the left. The fact that communist spies really existed didn't justify Joseph McCarthy's antics, and the fact that armed extremists really exist doesn't justify the Department of Homeland Security's report.

Radley Balko has more.

Keeping a Wary Eye on Obama, Part X

An auction of Treasury bonds dones't go very well and long-term interest rates continue to climb on fears of inflation.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Tadpoles Rain in Japan

What's going on over there, Ron?

Why I'm Not a Conservative, Part IV

I realize that David Letterman isn't calling Sarah Palin's daughter a prostitute in this video.

The Aristocracy of Pull

Will Wilkinson writes about how a 31-year-old law school dropout, whose only work experience is as a low-level campaign operative, is now running the U.S. auto industry.

Arnold Kling and David Henderson have more.

I love this observation from the comments on Kling's post:

The Bush administration hired similar young, inexperienced cult followers to manage the redestruction of Iraq. Look at Iraq and see our future.

Why I'm Not a Conservative, Part III

Unlike former Southern Baptist Convention vice president Wiley Drake, I generally don't pray for the death of my political enemies.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Party of Pundits

The Columbia Journalism Review says changes are going on at right-wing blogs and magazines. The call for more reporting and less opining is a good one. One of the major problems with American conservatism is that all the young "journalists" want to be Ann Coulter, not Robert Novak. Heck, Novak himself was complaining years ago that all these 22-year-olds fresh out of college, with absolutely no life experience, wanted to come to Washington and offer their opinions on everything under the sun without figuring out they've got to give people a reason to respect their opinions.

How to Deal with North Korea

Doug Bandow offers some thoughts.

How Much Is That House Worth?

Macon-Bibb County has been trying to do a property re-evaluation since 2001 and hasn't succeeded yet. Economist Scott Beaulier writes that they still may not have it right:

We moved into our house one year ago. At that time, we received one reliable estimate of "fair market" value: the appraised price of our home. We received a second estimate of "fair market" value when we agreed to a price with the seller. A few months ago, we received a third estimate when another appraisal was ordered to finish our mortgage refinance.

All three of these values were nearly 10 percent lower than the value Bibb County assessors reached when assessing our home's value. Given that housing values have actually fallen in the area since the three valuations mentioned above took place, the official estimate that I received in the mail is absurd and won't be accepted by yours truly without a fight.

How Markets Value the Poor

Bryan Caplan explains.

National ID as Barrier to Work

Jim Harper explains.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Seventy Percent of Americans Not Allowed to Leave the Country

Matt Welch explains

Herbivore Men

One reason why Japan's birth rate is bottoming out.

Why I'm Not a Conservative, Part II

I rarely notice and never care what Google does with its logo on any given day.

Keeping a Wary Eye on Obama, Part IX

Bond traders are driving up interest rates because they are concerned massive federal deficits will spark inflation. In turn, that threatens efforts to boost the housing market.

Barack Obama meet Frederic Bastiat.

America's Most Shameful Secret?

Eric Margolis remembers the attack on the USS Liberty.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Paul Lynde Does the Weather

30 Years in America

At the Volokh Conspiracy, Ilya Somin reflects on the 30th anniversary of his arrival in the United States and why immigrants seem to fair better here than in some other countries.

How an Immigration Raid Changed a Town

Not for the better.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Why I'm Not a Conservative

Michael Reagan suggests sodomizing Arab infants with explosives.

Mencken Was Right

Via Lew Rockwell comes a reminder of this observation from H.L. Mencken:

What the common man longs for in this world, before and above all his other longings, is the simplest and most ignominious sort of peace- the peace of a trusty in a well-managed penitentiary. He is willing to sacrifice everything else to it. He puts it above his dignity and he puts it above his pride. Above all, he puts it above his liberty. The Fact, perhaps, explains his veneration for policemen, in all the forms they take- his belief that there is a mysterious sanctity in law, however absurd it may be in fact. A policeman is a charlatan who offers, in return for obedience, to protect him (a)from his superiors, (b)from his equals, and (c) from himself. This last service, under democracy, is commonly the most esteemed of them all. In the United States, at least theoretically, it is the only thing that keeps ice-wagon drivers, Y.M.C.A. secretaries, insurance collectors, and other such human camels from smoking opium, ruining themselves in the night clubs, and going to Palm Beach with Follies girls. It is a democratic invention. Here, though the common man is deceived, he starts from a sound premise: to wit, that liberty, is something too hot for his hands- or, as Nietzsche put it, too cold for his spine

Friday, June 5, 2009

Japanese Backpack Helicopter

Grammy Snubs Polka

There will be no polka category in future Grammy awards. I understand the decision. They really should cut a lot of other categories, too. But it was not that long ago that polka was still played on Top 40 radio and people like Li'l Wally sold millions of records.

Arizona Justice

The Goldwater Institute recently issued a report showing that the Maricopa County sheriff's department has been calling a lot of cases "closed" even when they haven't arrested anyone. In fact, the vast majority of their closed cases don't result in an arrest. Here's the story of how they closed a gang rape case of a 14-year-old girl after nothing more than a cursory investigation.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Becoming Chinese

At the Volokh Conspiracy, Kenneth Anderson asks what those lending money to companies will do now that Barack Obama has shown he will ignore contracts and bankruptcy law to reward political allies:

The United States seems, in these contract matters, not to resemble the rule of law in Angola, sure — but it is distinctly starting to resemble, ever so little-bit-by-little-bit, the rule of law in China. There is a certain amount of neutral contract enforcement, but also a hefty amount of political thumb on the scale, and many uncertainties attached — and without getting hysterical about it, the American trend line is going that direction. It might be most useful to look at Western contracts with Chinese companies to get good ideas on "mixed" cases of this 'sort-of-rule-of-law, sort-of-not', because that seems to be the drift of Obama administration industrial policy.

Julian Sanchez Is Angry

He writes of conservatives attacking Sonia Sotomayor as a racist mediocrity who only rose in life because of affirmative action:

I’ll cop to sharing some of Yglesias’ irritation at the treatment of Sonia Sotomayor, and if Republicans are managing to get a rise out of my pallid ass, I can only imagine the kind of damage they’re doing to their brand among, you know, real Latinos.

Yglesias is fellow "not-especially-Hispanic blogger/pundit" Matthew Yglesias, who writes:

Conservatives ought to picture an anti-abortion, gun-owning, married, male, prosperous, Cuban-American small businessman living in the suburbs of Miami. Picture him reacting to the news of Sotomayor’s nomination. Perhaps he’s happy in some sense to contemplate a Latina on the bench, but perhaps not. Either way, the guy’s still a solid conservative. Now picture him listening to G. Gordon Liddy say “I understand that they found out today that Miss Sotomayor is a member of La Raza, which means in illegal alien, ‘the race.’” That’s not going to play well.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Is Atlas Shrugging?

Good question from Amity Schlaes.

Nostalgia, Immigration and Inequality

I'm not a big fan of Brink Lindsey, but his article on nostalgia economics in Reason is worth reading.

A sample

Under the system that existed between 1924 and 1965, immigration quotas were set for each country based on the percentage of people with that national origin already living in the U.S. (with immigration from East and South Asia banned outright until 1952). The explicit purpose of the national-origin quotas was to freeze the ethnic composition of the United States—that is, to preserve white Protestant supremacy and protect the country from “undesirable” races. “Unquestionably, there are fine human beings in all parts of the world,” Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.V.) said in defense of the quota system in 1965, “but people do differ widely in their social habits, their levels of ambition, their mechanical aptitudes, their inherited ability and intelligence, their moral traditions, and their capacity for maintaining stable governments.”

But the times had passed the former Klansman by. With the triumph of the civil rights movement, official discrimination based on national origin was no longer sustainable. Just two months after signing the Voting Rights Act, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, ending the “un-American” system of national-origin quotas and its “twin barriers of prejudice and privilege.” The act inaugurated a new era of mass immigration: Foreign-born residents of the United States have surged from 5 percent of the population in 1970 to 12.5 percent as of 2006.

This wave of immigration exerted a mild downward pressure on the wages of native-born low-skilled workers, with most estimates showing a small effect. Immigration’s more dramatic impact on measurements of inequality has come by increasing the number of less-skilled workers, thereby increasing apparent inequality by depressing average wages at the low end of the income distribution. According to the American University economist Robert Lerman, excluding recent immigrants from the analysis would eliminate roughly 30 percent of the increase in adult male annual earnings inequality between 1979 and 1996.

Although the large influx of unskilled immigrants has made American inequality statistics look worse, it has actually reduced inequality for the people involved. After all, immigrants experience large wage gains as a result of relocating to the United States, thereby reducing the cumulative wage gap between them and top earners in this country. When Lerman recalculated trends in inequality to include, at the beginning of the period, recent immigrants and their native-country wages, he found equality had increased rather than decreased. Immigration has increased inequality at home but decreased it on a global scale.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Turning Japanese

From Reason magazine, a disheartening account of how President Barack Obama is enacting economic policies similar to those that produced Japan's "lost decade."

Johnny Can't Dance

The great Ray Abshire

Keeping a Wary Eye on Obama, Part VIII

Fearing devaluation of the dollar, the Chinese are putting more of their money into hard assets.

Meanwhile, Chinese students laughed at Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner when he told them the country's investments in U.S. bonds is safe.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Total Eclipse of the Heart

Head of Tom Tancredo's PAC to Be Sentenced for Assault

He apparently called a black woman the N-word and struck her.

Charles Johnson notes that the guy has a history of unsavory connections.