December 29, 2012

Bipartisan Attack on USA Civil Rights

Bridget Johnson reports:
The amendment from Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) to block the president’s broad power to hold American citizens without trial was stripped from the final defense authorization bill in conference, prompting a “no” vote on the entire bill from Lee and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.).
(HT: Instapundit.) See Rand Paul's remarks as quoted by Johnson.

If things get screwed up to the point at which a man person on horseback emerges, the bill will provide a handy justification for rounding up the culprits in the ruling class. For starters, everybody in Washington who supported an unbalanced budget since Y2K. Sure, a few good apples will be gathered with the bad, but they can be sorted out later. National emergency, y'know. Compelling government interest.

Why Did Romney Lose?

The Boston Globe has a plausible narrative, to my chagrin.

Susannah Fleetwood has another. (HT: R.S. McCain)

The Atlantic's Alexis Madrigal claims that Obama's nerds outclassed Romney's nerds. More here, among other Google links.

Pat Caddell and Michael Walsh had yet another. In contrast to most of the commenters above, they were writing in advance of the election.

There's plenty of blame to go around. Fleetwood, in particular, makes a good case that I hadn't considered--but the buck stops with the would-be President.

December 27, 2012

To Tax or Not to Tax: A False Dichotomy

For reasons I don't fully understand, Megan McArdle's shtick is starting to pall on me. I question whether she knows as much as she pretends to. However, I agree with this (boldface mine):
But I am uncomfortable when the government makes more money off your labors than you do. Yes, some people don't work very hard to earn their money, or earn it in ways that seem illegitimate. But the solution is to change the law so that it's harder to earn money in illegitimate ways, not to take the majority of their money in taxes--and the majority of the money of other people who work quite hard indeed.
(HT: Instapundit.)

I've been meaning to post the same thing. In fact, commenter jvic, one of the few conservatives left at LGF, recently wrote:
I view the taxation "debate" as a false dichotomy in which both parties collude. I would take it more seriously if it were accompanied by discussion of policies which abet concentration of wealth. Two examples that immediately come to mind are too-big-to-fail financial institutions and excessive protections for intellectual "property". There is corporate welfare in general, of course.
Addendum 20140114: See James Pethokoukis, here,

December 22, 2012

The Mess in the GOP

Corporate kleptocrats and religious kooks are fighting for control of the GOP. The trouble is that each is becoming unelectable.

No, the country is not going to ban abortion across the board. No, the country does not believe that billionaires are panting to create jobs, except overseas.

For the GOP to survive and prosper again, both factions have to make their agenda realistic. To save face, call it clarifying their agenda:

1. Social conservatives should stop trying to impose their religious views via the federal government. They should work to devolve social issues to the states: abortion, drugs, gay marriage, assisted suicide, etc.

2. Economic conservatives should stress that they favor free markets over big businesses; if they don't, they should damn well start. Questioning the too-big-to-fail status quo is one place to start. Adopting Derek Khanna's agenda is another. A market economy with a safety net is salable to the electorate, and big business might prefer it to what the Democrats want to do to them.

December 18, 2012

A Historical Glitch, Not a Turning Point?

Reagan and Thatcher.

This guy expressed what has been on my mind, although I wasn't aware of the analogy with Diocletian.

(Paul Johnson thinks we're irreversibly far gone. He's not optimistic about China either. One possible outcome: a war that will make WW2 seem like a background scuffle.)

December 11, 2012

I'm Worse Than Mad. I'm Indifferent.

From Legal Insurrection, I infer that perhaps the conservative faithful are not flocking to their places of worship the way they did before the election. My response:

1. Why are you reading this?

Because you still care (?).

I’m reading this out of habit and because I agree with many of your positions as academic propositions. As a practical matter, I note that the Right, having been utterly outmaneuvered by the Left in an election which was the Right’s to win, is carrying on with business as usual.

2. Your previous Operation Counterweight urged your readers to support eighteen candidates, including honorable mentions. Fifteen of them lost. Your reaction: Would do it again, with the same choices. My reaction to your reaction: And likely with the same outcome.

3. America is heading toward a point of no return. It may or may not have reached it. If it hasn’t reached it, the conservative movement as currently constituted is not going to change the direction.

4. In a comment thread started by stevewhitemd, I replied to Towson Lawyer as follows:

The kook faction and the kleptocrat faction are vying for control of the GOP. Everybody else lacks critical mass.

Your suggestion about the abortion issue coincides with my opinion, but afaik it is not acceptable to the kooks.

After the eruption of post-election lunacy on this board, I decided to stop commenting regularly. The loss of a winnable election was bad enough; the post-election craziness is the last straw.

Maybe America hasn’t suffered enough. My real worry is that the country may be too far gone to respond constructively to experience.

Never before has a nation been presented with the position and opportunities America had at the dawn of the millenium. Never before has so much been squandered so quickly. Heaven help us if history is just.

Rant over. Now, back to your regularly scheduled programming: Every sperm is sacred, every sperm is great! No new taxes!

5. WAJ has called abortion “the civil rights issue of our time”. There were overwhelming thumbs-downs against the term “zygote” because it is supposedly dehumanizing. It’s been a waste of my time to seek common ground on this. Enough is enough.

“Conservatives” are for limited government, except when government can be used to shove their religious practices down the country’s throat. Good luck selling that. Santorum-Akin 2016!

6. I could go on and on. For example, Asian Americans are more disadvantaged by affirmative action than whites are. How, then, did the GOP contrive to lose 3/4 of their votes?

7. During WW2 George Orwell told British pacifists that objectively they were aiding the Fascists. A similar indictment applies to Real Conservatives™ wrt the Left.

And perhaps the collection baskets are emptier than they were before the election.

December 9, 2012

Climate Engineering

Geo-engineering wins scant enthusiasm at UN climate talks, reports Canada's Financial Post.
“Let’s first use what we know,” said Christiana Figueres, head of the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat, dismissing suggestions that it was time to try geo-engineering to halt a rise in greenhouse gas emissions.

“There are so many proven technologies we know exist that are tried and true that have not been used to their maximum potential,” she told Reuters. “To begin with, the simplest is energy efficiency.”
“Let’s face it, geo-engineering has a lot of unknowns,” Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the U.N.’s panel of climate scientists, told Reuters on the sidelines of U.N.-led climate change talks among 200 nations in Doha from Nov. 26-Dec 7.

“How can you go into an area where you don’t know anything?” he said. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is examining geo-engineering in depth for the first time as part of a major report due in 2013 and 2014.
But if the science is definitive that warming is anthropogenic, why can't that definitive science be used to assess climate engineering technologies?

I can't think of an answer that is complimentary to vested AGW/CAGW alarmist interests.

(Count me as a skeptic. Not a denier, a skeptic. If there is doubt, I'll give the benefit to economic growth which will facilitate technological progress:
I’m not willing to turn the economy inside out because there might be a problem, and I’m not willing to bet the biosphere that there isn’t a problem.
If humanity hasn’t learn(ed) to tweak the atmosphere by the time the extreme AGW scenarios are expected, it doesn’t deserve the label of homo sapiens.
Research into climate technology should be a no brainer for rational policymakers---unless they have ulterior motives to the contrary.)

December 1, 2012

The Scots-Irish

I've read Jim Webb's Born Fighting with admiration and Walter Russell Mead's The Jacksonian Tradition with eye-opened respect.

Scots-Irish heroism, especially in the service of lost causes, cannot be overpraised.

But good Lord, if a cause isn't lost, they'll turn it into one.

At a conservative blog where I used to comment regularly, the S-I reaction to the Romney loss? We aren't being emphatic enough that every sperm is sacred! Incredible.