We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
From Dr. Sanity's How Smart are Democrats? Personally, I do not think Democrats are stupid. Often in error about the realities of life, and often not viewing liberty as our most precious inheritance -but not stupid in an IQ sense.
Hawaiiforgets about the First Amendment. Thank God for the Bill of Rights (which the Founders felt unnecessary because freedom under limited central government was assumed, having been the entire reason for their war).
SO I'M WATCHING MCCAIN TALK ABOUT THE SUBPRIME CRISIS, and how there may be some "greedy people on Wall Street who need to go to jail."
But I heard a typically sad-toned NPR story on subprimes tonight, and despite their best efforts to evoke the Joads it was a story of people who "used their houses like ATMs," taking out home equity loan after home equity loan when they started with a subprime mortgage, only to wind up owing far more than their houses were worth and unable to make the payments. Boo hoo. Shouldn't there be a price for being an idiot? And -- despite not being on Wall Street -- a greedy idiot? Why does McCain want to bail these people out? Why does he want to put Wall Street people in jail?
Businessmen, in my experience, are generally more idealistic than politicians. Businessmen really do make deals with a handshake. No one would dream of doing that with Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi or the Clintons. Turning a businessman loose in the political world is basically a mismatch. That's the sense I get of McCain's reaction to having Romney as his last serious rival. He can't believe his good fortune; Romney is an amateur. McCain can poke him in the eye, knee him in the groin, and the rule-following businessman has no idea how to respond.
I don't view this as an argument in Romney's favor. As President, he wouldn't be dealing with honorable, law-abiding businesspeople. He would be going up against the Vladimir Putins, Osama bin Ladens and Harry Reids of the world. This is not a game for amateurs. I think we should recognize that professional politicians bring important experience and skills to the table, and that one of those skills is the ability to knee an opponent in the groin and get away with it. It's not pretty. But, compared to politics, business is beanbag, and politics is the game the Republican nominee will have to play.
I have long been a student of the above Law, but I have not seen it expressed so succinctly:
The law of unintended consequences is what happens when a simple system tries to regulate a complex system. The political system is simple, it operates with limited information (rational ignorance), short time horizons, low feedback, and poor and misaligned incentives. Society in contrast is a complex, evolving, high-feedback, incentive-driven system. When a simple system tries to regulate a complex system you often get unintended consequences.
That is a quote from Andrew Gelman, via a piece at Marginal Revolution inspired in part by a Dubner and Levitt (Freakonomics) piece in the NYT entitled The Red-Cockaded Woodpecker which explains how the Americans with Disabilities Act has resulted in lower employment levels among the disabled.
Both of the links are worth reading.
The cost of food around the world due to biofuels is a fine example. Michael Crighton's talk below does a fine job with the subject of complexity, when it comes to man's interventions in nature:
At $5.39/lb at Costco, their Dubliner Irish Cheese is the best cheddar-type cheese I have ever had. It is a great cheese, and I don't even like cheddar (I prefer the stronger cheeses). This one has a strong flavor (tangy, very sharp, with a touch of sweetness), a graininess similar to Parmesan, and it is hard - unlike those rubbery and bland American cheddars which look, feel and taste like processed cheese and are only good for melting on top of a cheeseburger.
Thus far, the Bird Dog clan has found it to be excellent eaten plain, on a cracker or baguette, in scrambled eggs, with slices of apples and pears, with cabernet and port, and in a cheese omelet.
Worth a trip to Costco just for that Dubliner cheese. (Speaking of Costco, we will someday offer a free Maggie's Farm t-shirt to the first person in history who can prove that they walked down every aisle and still got out of Costco without spending over $350.)
How Hillary played the newspapers for fools. Or are they simply colluding with her?
Archbishop Moonbat wants laws against bad manners. Like Jules, I find Rowan Williams' speech deeply hurtful and offensive. There should be a law against that kind of talk.
Can John McCain calm down the Conservatives? John Fund. And can he win their hearts? I doubt it, but, for a number of reasons, I think he is the most electable Repub after 8 years of a Repub in the White House. Surber has an excellent comment on the subject. For an example of foolish and immature petulance, try this for somebody who would rather end up with 3 more lefty Supremes for the next 20 years than to vote for McCain.
Many have commented on Kay Hymowitz' interesting but not overly-deep report in City Journal about the young single men of America - Child-Man in the Promised Land. A quote:
Now meet the twenty-first-century you, also 26. You’ve finished college and work in a cubicle in a large Chicago financial-services firm. You live in an apartment with a few single guy friends. In your spare time, you play basketball with your buddies, download the latest indie songs from iTunes, have some fun with the Xbox 360, take a leisurely shower, massage some product into your hair and face—and then it’s off to bars and parties, where you meet, and often bed, girls of widely varied hues and sizes. They come from everywhere: California, Tokyo, Alaska, Australia. Wife? Kids? House? Are you kidding?
Not so long ago, the average mid-twentysomething had achieved most of adulthood’s milestones—high school degree, financial independence, marriage, and children. These days, he lingers—happily—in a new hybrid state of semi-hormonal adolescence and responsible self-reliance. Decades in unfolding, this limbo may not seem like news to many, but in fact it is to the early twenty-first century what adolescence was to the early twentieth: a momentous sociological development of profound economic and cultural import. Some call this new period “emerging adulthood,” others “extended adolescence”...
Of course it is a sort of extended adolescence - or at least of relative freedom from some of the big burdens of life. Shrinkwrapped finds the information to be as gloomy as does Hymowitz, but I am not so sure it really is. Our pediatrician used to say about our kids, "Don't worry. I can guarantee they will be out of diapers by age 18."
It is a truism that MSM economic news is always spun to be dire, or on its way to becoming dire, as long as Repubs are in power in DC.
The entirely predictable burst of the housing bubble in many parts of the country will hurt for a while (but I think it will ding markets more than people with jobs outside of construction), and of course the markets are in a tizzy due to the credit markets, but the US economy is still chugging along. Job growth remains strong, and note Surber today on manufacturing orders, and Rattner in the WSJ: Let's get real about the economy.
I will grant that recessions are usually only seen in the rear-view mirror, but the Maggie's Farm Chief Economist predicts slower GDP growth, but no meaningful recession, in 2008. He also predicts a bull market in election-year economic fear-mongering.
IN DEFENSE OF THE MINIVAN: "The minivan gets a bad rap in this country--it is almost universally reviled as a symbol of dweebish parenthood and mindless suburbia, a scarlet letter attached to soccer moms' chests. . . . The minivan's job is to haul people and cargo in as comfortable and efficient a manner as possible, and it fulfills that mission admirably."
From a piece of the above name by Zinser and Hsieh in The Objective Standard:
Politicians from across the political spectrum, including Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican candidate Mitt Romney, have argued that the government should guarantee “universal coverage” to all Americans, making health care a “right.”9 And politicians are not alone; numerous businessmen, union leaders, and insurance executives are united in saying that this will solve our problems.10
It will not.
Contrary to claims that government-imposed “universal health care” would solve America’s health care problems, it would in fact destroy American medicine and countless lives along with it. The goal of “universal health care” (a euphemism for socialized medicine) is both immoral and impractical; it violates the rights of businessmen, doctors, and patients to act on their own judgment—which, in turn, throttles their ability to produce, administer, or purchase the goods and services in question. To show this, we will first examine the nature and history of government involvement in health insurance and medicine. Then we will consider attempts in other countries and various U.S. states to solve these problems through further government programs. Finally, we will show that the only viable long-term solution to the problems in question is to convert to a fully free market in health care and health insurance.
Read the whole thing. It's basically a thoughtful argument against socialist "solutions" to things in general.
42% of American dogs sleep on their owners' bed. Laura Ingraham says so. Hers does (a rescued dog), and mine does too, even though I think it's a bad habit and it's annoying as heck when you can't move your feet around freely.
I have no problem with their clan supporting Obama, but since we're on the topic of sociopathy (entry immediately below), here's Wizbang on Ted and Family - the Democrats' Royal Pain. Apparently none of them seems capable of holding down a job, so they go into politics.
The recent public display of arrogant, hot-headed Bill hopefully is starting to wake people up to this. Do we really want eight more years of the Clinton family saga, all their lies and self-deception? Suppose this turns out to be true? Do we really want to have to deal with that? And is there anyone out there who is honestly willing to bet it isn't possible?
Even though The New York Times doesn't seem to care and is willing to ignore this noblesse oblige in their slavish and banal endorsement of Hillary the other day, their own Frank Rich is beginning to smell a rat.
He will choose you, disarm you with his words, and control you with his presence. He will delight you with his wit and his plans. He will show you a good time, but you will always get the bill. He will smile and deceive you, and he will scare you with his eyes. And when he is through with you, and he will be through with you, he will desert you and take with him your innocence and your pride. You will be left much sadder but not a lot wiser, and for a long time you will wonder what happened and what you did wrong. And his kind comes knocking at your door, will you open it? From an essay signed, "A psychopath in prison." Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of Psychopaths Among Us. -Dr. Hare
The Bush Administration has been unable to understand Islam. It has been willfully incapable of understanding Islam. Failing to understand it, wanting not to delve too deeply into the matter or listen to those who have done so, and preferring to fashion a policy based on the children's game of "let's pretend," this incoherent and confused administration seeks the explanation elsewhere for the relentless hostility of Muslim states and peoples. This hostility has never, not one whit, been mitigated by the receipt of vast sums, tens or hundreds of billions, in "aid" from Western countries (really a disguised Jizyah), while the American government, while Bush, while Rice, look for the explanations -- "poverty" and "lack of freedom" and anything else that can be offered up -- for that hostility, that meretriciousness, those smiles-with-murder-in-our-hearts behavior of, for example, our "staunch allies" in Egypt, and Saudi Arabia (those Al-Saud, a primitive but exceedingly rich tribe, all daggers-and-dishdashas, with sneers of cold command on their seemingly cloned faces). They look, that is, for everything but the texts and tenets of Islam, that any "defector" from Islam -- Wafa Sultan, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ibn Warraq, Ali Sina -- could tell them about, and which the writings of any legitimate Western scholar of Islam (Schacht, Lammens, Snouck Hurgronje, Jeffrey, and dozens of others) would confirm.