December 31, 2009

Good News and Bad News

The bad news is the TSA harassment of two bloggers who posted an unclassified security directive (HT: Instapundit).

The good news is that the Federal courts just might be starting to rein in unwarranted police use of tasers.

Addendum 20100105: I've seen reports that the government has dropped the subpoenas against the bloggers.

December 30, 2009

Worst Decade Ever (?)

According to Reason TV, it was.

Think where we’d be if we hadn’t started with unprecedented prosperity and power. Think where we’ll wind up if we persist.

And we are persisting.

If governed as we are today, I question whether we would have won WW2 (or WW1 for that matter) or the Cold War.

December 28, 2009

America Was Once Like This

From the Daily Mail:
Unveiled: China's 245mph train service is the world's fastest... and it was completed in just FOUR years
Look at the images.

In four years, I doubt you could even get regulatory approvals to break ground in the US.

A Progressive's Anti-Obama Rant

This perfectly captures my feelings about Bush.

December 27, 2009

Drug War

Mexico is losing reviewing its options.

I've read--in National Review iirc!--that US insistence on Drug War poppy eradication has helped the Taliban to rebound in Afghanistan.

The last Mexican election was a very narrow win for the conservative. Will the Drug War help bring us an openly anti-American far-left Mexican government that openly allies with the drug cartels and drives even more illegals (excuse me, undocumenteds) into the US than have already been coming?

Obama's missteps should not make us forget what a moron Bush was.

December 22, 2009

Worth Its Own Post

Pajamas Media commenter 'kazooskibum' has been repeating:
Remember: The issue is never the issue. The issue is control.

When a legitimate issue does come up that calls for pulling together and shared sacrifice, the government will have no credibility left. (I'm not saying it has any now.)

December 18, 2009

I Approve. So Am I a Pro-Slavery Racist?

From Althouse commenter JohnAnnArbor:
I think they should have to read every bill aloud in its entirety. That would keep them from larding everything up.

Historical trivia: the Confederate constitution tried to avoid Congressional amalgamation of unrelated items in one bill:

"(20) Every law, or resolution having the force of law, shall relate to but one subject, and that shall be expressed in the title."
Ludicrous though the title of this post is, IMO that very slur would be flung at someone who proposed to amend the Constitution according to the CSA example.

Given the way the existing Constitution is distorted to excuse federal power grabs, I'm not sure such an amendment would make any difference.

December 17, 2009


Charles Johnson reports that the John Birch Society has been accepted as a cosponsor of the Conservative Political Action Conference.

No reaction yet from National Review, once the standard-bearer of rational, principled conservatism (w/wo religion).
Johnson also posts an image of Wasilla Councilwoman Sarah Palin reading a Bircher article. Googling reveals that this image was known to the left blogosphere during the 2008 campaign. It's curious that it was not emphasized by the MSM.

When they recall how Reagan was smeared by his enemies, some people might be reluctant to relinquish their hopes for Palin. However, the false and malicious canards flung at Reagan seem to be valid when applied to Palin.

Is a Meme Developing?

The Moderate Voice:
Precisely which of the two incompetent political parties is less incompetent?

And which incompetent party do you choose to bollix up the country and disappoint you for a few more years?
This is what I thought even before posting here and here.

It's is a tailor-made slogan for a third party.

(Obviously, alternating the government between two successively more incompetent parties cannot work indefinitely. It may fail sooner and more drastically than most people expect.)

December 16, 2009


The state might be better managed if we returned it to Mexico.

Demographic trends may bring that about. IMHO a more plausible worst-case scenario is a Latino majority exacting a steady stream of concessions from Washington, as Quebec does from Canada.

At least Mexico would have the common sense to tap the state's natural resources which are currently off-limits due to environmentalist special interests.

The fate of Berkeley-type watermelons who tried the obstructive ploys to which they have come to feel entitled would be...entertaining. Perhaps grimly so.

My Evil Idea

Gene Healy on making criminals out of all Americans:
There are now more than 4,000 federal crimes, spread out through some 27,000 pages of the U.S. Code. Some years ago, analysts at the Congressional Research Service tried to count the number of separate offenses on the books, and gave up, lacking the resources to get the job done...

You can serve federal time for interstate transport of water hyacinths, trafficking in unlicensed dentures, or misappropriating the likeness of Woodsy Owl and his associated slogan, "Give a hoot, don't pollute."...Bills currently before Congress would send Americans to federal prison for eating horsemeat or selling goods falsely labeled as "Native American."

"Is that the system we have, that Congress can say, nobody shall do any bad things?" an exasperated Scalia asked (Deputy Solicitor General) Drebeen. The system we have comes pretty close, unfortunately. And a federal criminal code that covers everything delegates to prosecutors and the police the power to pick their targets at will, leaving everyone at risk.
(HT: Instapundit) So much for limited government in a free country. Note that the impetus is bipartisan. (Note also bipartisan legalization of things like intellectual-property banditry and expansive eminent domain.)

The law has become so complicated that Congressional researchers can't even enumerate the crimes that Congress has created? This is a job for...Artificial Intelligence!

Some public-spirited entrepreneur should create a software package that runs along the lines of a search engine. The enterprising prosecutor types in a target's behavior and the engine returns the crimes that are compatible with those actions.

In fact, every police department should have one! Initial versions might require an officer seeking a pretext for an arrest to call a dispatcher who will run the program and relay the options to the officer. Very quickly, however, voice recognition software can take the dispatcher out of the loop and automate the entire process.

(According to Healy's piece, Jim Webb is taking this issue on. Good for him. I'm glad I donated to his campaign against MacacAllen.)

December 14, 2009

Megan McArdle on the Complexity Bubble

...Every so often I'll read some description of a project out of the olden days--the battle against malaria in Panama, the handling of the Great Mississippi Flood, or the creation of the WPA--and just marvel at how fast everything used to be. The WPA was authorized in April of 1935. By December, it was employing 3.5 million people. The Hoover Dam took 16 years from the time it was first proposed, to completion; eight years, if you start counting from the time it passed Congress.

Contrast this with a current, comparatively trivial project: it has been seventeen years since the Southeast High Speed Rail Corridor was established by USDOT, and we should have a Record of Decision on the Tier II environmental impact statement no later than 2010. This for something that runs along existing rail rights of way, and in fact, uses currently operating track in many places.
Would we have won the Cold War if not for our technology? Technology includes the atom bomb which perhaps prevented the Red Army from sweeping across Europe after WW2, and the 1980s military upgrades which the Soviets could not afford to match.

What if the government still operated at 1930s efficiency with today's technology?

Have the parasite classes learned how to coopt technology? (For example, the thousand-page special-interest laws that Congress does not read could not even have been printed a century ago.)

Just because technological innovation saved us from decline and fall in the past, it may not necessarily do so in the future.

December 12, 2009

Tiger Woods, Eloit Spitzer, and Mark Sanford

Spitzer resigned and is still married. Sanford clung to office and his wife just filed. Coincidence?

Woods has taken an indefinite leave from golf. "It may not be possible to repair the damage I've done, but I want to do my best to try."

To resurrect a relationship wrecked by infidelity, it is probably necessary to demonstrate to the estranged partner that nothing is more important than she/he. But is it sufficient?

More Damage from Compassionate Conservatism

Reason notes that, under Bush, for the first time since World War 2, growth in government employment apparently outpaced private-sector growth (HT: Instapundit).

The Communists said the state would wither away...eventually. Were Bush's theocratic handlers imitating the Marxists? Of course they'll reduce the size of government...when the Peaceable Kingdom is attained...real soon now...

December 9, 2009

TARPmeister Emeritus Neel Kashkari

The Washington Post profiles his recuperation and reminiscences.

Meanwhile, some are atwitter that he took a job with PIMCO. Since he took a grueling job with a big pay cut and an enormous professional risk, at first blush I'm not inclined to fault him for cashing in on his success.

I take the point about a revolving door between government and industry. But there is also such a thing as public service. I take the point about lobbyist influence and regulatory capture. But I don't want policy made exclusively by academics and NGO goo-goos with no private-sector experience.

December 8, 2009

Hitchens on Palin

In Slate:
...the usefulness of Sarah Palin to the right-wing party managers is that she combines a certain knowingness with a feigned innocence and a still-palpable blush of sex. But she should take care to read her Alexander Pope: That bloom will soon enough fade, and it will fade really quickly if she uses it to prostitute herself to the Nixonites on one day and then to cock-tease the rabble on the next.
He comes up to the edge of what I've been meaning to say.

Palin's looks are going. Video close-ups reveal heavy pancake makeup that doesn't entirely conceal crow's feet.

Soon she'll look like Harriet Miers.

In 1992 Hillary Clinton successfully mimicked an all-American girl, but she has found a way to age in the public eye. In contrast, Harriet Miers looks will not mesh well with Palin's high-pitched voice and cheerleader demeanor.
Hitchens says that a key Palin advisor is linked to Nixon's anti-Semitism. Maybe so, but I recall a video that showed an Israeli flag in then-Governor Palin's office.

Among the Decay, a Sprig of Progress

Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo.

One small sprig for man, and...?

I hope so.

Yes, Exactly: Corruption

If I haven't written this down, I meant to:

When a government gets big enough, it automatically becomes corrupt. Period.

Instead, we are asked to believe that the government is some kind of omniscient omnipotent sapient unified field that can unfailingly implement the greatest good for the greatest number--if we only let it.

IMO, just as a big enough government automatically becomes corrupt, a big enough government automatically seeks to de facto disenfranchise the electorate.

December 6, 2009

I've Worked at a Place Places Like This

A recent Dilbert is well above average.

Addendum 20091207. Much better than this. No comparison.

December 3, 2009

Comments: December 2009

On Doonesbury and Day by Day.

On a potential government bailout of Big Media: here and here.

On an example of "conservative" racism.

On the Antoun murder at SUNY Binghamton.

On various things, including Obama:
I don’t want Obama to fail–because of the damage to the country, not out of any love for Obama–, but he’s in a tough spot (of his own making). Part of his coalition is defecting because his governance is dysfunctional, and part is defecting because his governance is not dysfunctional enough.
On deciphering multiculturalism:
“practicing mainstream traditions” = “bigoted”
“deprecating the flaunting of minority or emerging-subculture practices” = “narrow-minded”
On Truman, Reagan, and Palin.

On why worthwhile and uncontroversial things related to climate change don't get done.

On an appallingly dumb argument for tax increases.

On a major Chinese technology company snubbing the US stock market.

On Rand Simberg's "The Precautionary Principle and Global Warming":
Glenn Reynolds keeps saying that when the bigshots who say it’s a crisis start significantly modifying their own behavior, he’ll start taking them seriously.

I’ll start taking the AGW Greens seriously when they seriously push back against their own extremists who impede nuclear, solar and wind power. I’ll start taking them seriously when they get behind the solutions that moderate warmists and skeptics can both accept.

By refusing to do so, the Greens may be endangering civilization as much as they claim the traditional energy industry is doing.

No enemies on the Left. No enemies on the Green.
A more constructive follow-up is here.

On the UK Livni indictment.

On Kurzweil's latest prediction.

On avoiding out-of-state traffic tickets.

On "universal jurisdiction".

Here and here, on Obamacare.

On the Wen-Obama photo. The subsequent comment is worth reading.

On conservative overconfidence: here, here, and here.

On China's governance and America's Founders (and foundering) Addendum 20100311: Jonah Goldberg accuses Tom Friedman of admiring Chinese authoritarianism. That is not my intention.

On the government reaction to the attempted Delta bombing: here and here.

On Bush as a forerunner of Obama's statism.

December 1, 2009

NFL: New Orleans and Indianapolis

The NFL's publicists must be salivating at the thought that two undefeated teams might meet in the Superbowl.

Not that that prospect would affect the refereeing, oh my, no...
It's noteworthy that New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees is 6'0''. (I had assumed for some time that he was too short for the NFL.)