Wednesday, June 7, 2017


"...what it means to be a good person and a good community—are understood to have been settled. The assumption, on elite college campuses, is that we are already in full possession of the moral truth. This is a religious attitude. It is certainly not a scholarly or intellectual attitude."-- Deresiewicz

...[Adam]...Smith’s books did not lay the foundation stone, but the keystone, of a marvelous system of ideas.  Their eminence is to be seen precisely in the fact that they integrated the main body of these ideas into a systematic whole.  They presented the essence of the ideology of freedom, individualism, and prosperity, with admirable clarity and in an impeccable literary form.

It was this ideology that blew up institutional barriers to the display of the individual citizen’s initiative and thereby to economic improvement.  It paved the way for the unprecedented achievements of laissez faire capitalism.  The practical application of liberal principles multiplied population figures and, in the countries committed to the policies of economic freedom, secured even to less capable and less industrious people a standard of living higher than that of the well-to-do of the “good old” days.  The average American wage-earner would not like to dwell in the dirty, badly lighted, and poorly heated palatial houses, in which the members of the privileged English and French aristocracy lived 200 years ago, or to do without those products of capitalist big business that render his life comfortable.

The ideas that found their classical expression in the two books of Adam Smith demolished the traditional philosophy of Mercantilism and opened the way for capitalist mass production for the needs of the masses.  Under capitalism the common man is the much-talked-about customer who “is always right.”--Hayek

Krauthammer offers a surprisingly partisan and utilitarian view on the "nuclear option," complete with an appreciation of "condign" moral symmetry. Here is a quote: "Moreover, killing the filibuster for Supreme Court nominations (the so-called nuclear option) yields two gratifications: It allows a superb young conservative jurist to ascend to the seat once held by Antonin Scalia. And it constitutes condign punishment for the reckless arrogance of Reid and his erstwhile Democratic majority."

From the British Journal of Urology, a study on unprofessional Facebook postings by Urologists: Of 281 graduates, 223 (79%) were men and 267 (95%) held MD degrees. A total of 201 graduates (72%) had publicly identifiable Facebook profiles. Of these, 80 profiles (40%) included unprofessional or potentially objectionable content, including 27 profiles (13%) reflecting explicitly unprofessional behavior, such as depictions of intoxication, uncensored profanity, unlawful behavior, and confidential patient information.

The involvement of WikiLeaks in the Edward Snowden affair, catalogued ably by authors like John Schindler, Edward Lucas, and others, was so obviously facilitated by the Russians that it should be used as a case study in Espionage School 101. Recall that when Snowden showed up in Russia—a destination Assange recommended—WikiLeaks dispatched a fixer from their staff named Sarah Harrison to meet Snowden in Hong Kong and stand by his side in Moscow. From the time Snowden arrived in Russia, Harrison stuck to him like glue. If you think Assange’s recommendation, Snowden’s arrival, and Harrison’s presence are at all possible without a cozy relationship with the Russian secret services, then you don’t understand how any of this works.
Indeed, the later feuding between the Snowden camp and WikiLeaks (insofar as it was more than mere theater) speaks well of Snowden, in that it suggests what many of us long suspected: that Snowden was a stupid little boy who got involved way over his head in matters way beyond his competence. Assange and Harrison know what they’re doing, and for whom. Snowden, by now, also knows, but there’s not much he can do about it but to repay his masters for his new life in Russia.--Nichols

Who is...Brian Terry?

From Bovard on Woodrow Wilson: The war enabled the American equivalent of the Taliban to triumph on the home front. Prohibition advocates “indignantly insisted that… any kind of opposition to prohibition was sinister and subversively pro-German,” noted William Ross, author of World War 1 and the American Constitution. Even before the 18th Amendment (which banned alcohol consumption) was ratified, Wilson banned beer sales as a wartime measure. Prohibition was a public health disaster; the rate of alcoholism tripled during the 1920s.
To punish lawbreakers, the federal government added poisons to industrial alcohol that was often converted into drinkable hooch; ten thousand people were killed as a result. Professor Deborah Blum, the author of The Poisoner’s Handbook, noted that “an official sense of higher purpose kept the poisoning program in place.”

Melania took her kids bowling. Has a First Lady ever been bowling?

Randolph Bourne was an American intellectual journalist who flourished for a few years in the second decade of the 20th century. Bourne wrote mostly for magazines during this period. He has a rather confusing history as he is often quoted out of context but he lost his job at the progressive New Republic writing against the first great war (and, by implication, the progressive darling, Woodrow Wilson.) An intellectual idealist might not have a lot practical to say but this is another of his quotes:  " is not too much to say that the normal relation of States is war. Diplomacy is a disguised war....if the State's chief function is war, then the State must suck out of the nation a large part of its energy for its purely sterile purposes of defense and aggression. It devotes to waste or to actual destruction as much as it can of the vitality of the nation. No one will deny that war is a vast complex of life-destroying and life-crippling forces. If the State's chief function is war, then it is chiefly concerned with coordinating and developing the powers and techniques which make for destruction. And this means not only the actual and potential destruction of the enemy, but of the nation at home as well. For the … calling away of energy into military pursuits means a crippling of the productive and life-enhancing processes of the national life. And, "...we cannot crusade against war without crusading implicitly against the State. And we cannot expect … to end war, unless at the same time we take measures to end the State in its traditional form."

He died of the flu epidemic when one percent of Americans died in one year. Such an epidemic would kill 3 million now.

A nice summary of the Syria event by Diana Darke:

Russia is supposed to be the guarantor of the deal under which President Assad of Syria signed up to the international treaty banning chemical weapons. Under threat of US military action, he quickly agreed to the removal and destruction of his stockpile, declared at 1,300 tonnes of chemical agents including sarin.

The deal was hailed as a great success. The international community congratulated itself on the historic Russian/American cooperation. That was back in 2013 after Obama’s notoriously illusory “red line” was crossed by the Syrian regime dropping sarin on the agricultural eastern Ghouta suburb of Damascus. 1,500 died overnight. Only twice in history had sarin been used before then: first in Halabja by Saddam Hussein on the Kurds in 1988, the second in Japan in 1995 by a new religious movement on the Tokyo subway. There have been nine recorded chemical weapons attacks in Syria this year alone, but this is the first where the agent has been sarin as opposed to chlorine or phosphorus. This time around 100 were killed, most dying from suffocation before they reached hospital.

Ms. Darke goes on, darkly, "Timings are never random in the Assad regime. The fact that the strike came the day before the EU conference on reconstructing Syria is no accident. Assad was pushing the boundaries, laughing at the world’s impotence and revelling in his own immunity. The Brussels conference was planning to kick-start reconstruction quickly, hoping the promise of funding would lure him into reforms." And, " Assad’s budget is heavily dependent on UN and international NGO aid, much of which disappears into companies affiliated with Assad’s relations, as investigative journalists have shown."

In 1812, thinking that Russia was plotting an alliance with England, Napoleon launched an invasion against the Russians that eventually ended with his troops retreating from Moscow and much of Europe uniting against him. In 1814, Napoleon’s broken forces gave up and Napoleon offered to step down in favor of his son. When this offer was rejected, he abdicated and was sent to Elba. In March 1815, he escaped his island exile and returned to Paris, where he regained supporters and reclaimed his emperor title, Napoleon I, in a period known as the Hundred Days. However, in June 1815, he was defeated at the bloody Battle of Waterloo. Napoleon’s defeat ultimately signaled the end of France’s domination of Europe. He abdicated for a second time and was exiled to the remote island of Saint Helena, in the southern Atlantic Ocean, where he lived out the rest of his days. He died at age 52 on May 5, 1821.

This is amazing to me. Senator Bernie Sanders is perhaps the most popular politician in the United States, and according to a new poll released Tuesday the independent from Vermont is also the senator most well-liked by his constituents.  The survey also showed that both Sanders and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)—two famously progressive politicians—have recently taken a step backward in popularity. Perhaps there is a connection between "most popular" and "well liked" but the nonsense of the radical Left is so obvious it is hard to understand how people could take them seriously.

Caplan raises this important question. In the simple Keynesian model, recessions can be overcome by raising government spending or cutting taxes.  In general, however, Keynesians prefer the former approach. However, if tax cuts are necessary, they should be on the poor because of their higher propensity to consume. If that is true, then during periods of inflation, governments should cut spending or, if necessary, raise taxes on the poor. Right?

Golden oldie:

Nothing is new under the sun. Here is Plato's Socrates on speeches, an appropriate reading for the beginning of the interminably long poli...

The cartel member suspected of shooting and killing Border Patrol agent Brian Terry in 2010 with a gun supplied by the U.S. government was arrested in Mexico.
The agent's death exposed Operation Fast and Furious, a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) operation in which the federal government allowed criminals to buy guns in Phoenix-area shops with the intention of tracking them once they made their way into Mexico. But the agency lost track of more than 1,400 of the 2,000 guns they allowed smugglers to buy. Two of those guns were found at the scene of Terry's killing. 
The operation set off a political firestorm, and then-Attorney General Eric Holder was held in contempt of Congress after he refused to divulge documents for a congressional investigation.

In 2015, just 0.09 percent of passengers in the U.S. were denied boarding, according to Bureau of Transportation Statistics data. More than 9 in 10 of those passengers voluntarily gave up their seats in exchange for compensation.

If the airline can make alternate arrangements that get you to your final destination within one hour of your original arrival time, no compensation is required.

Between one to two hours of your original arrival time on domestic flights, or one to four hours on international flights: 200 percent of your one-way fare, up to a maximum $675. More than two hours later than your original arrival time on domestic flights, or more than four hours late on international flights: 400 percent of your one-way fare, up to a maximum $1,350.

One Man's Greater Good: "Having wage rates set by third parties’ notion of workers’ “essential needs” would be a radical departure from having wages set by supply and demand – and it is by no means clear how either the allocation of resources in the economy or the interests of the workers themselves would be better served in this way.  These workers may well feel that their most “essential need” is a job.  Reducing the number of jobs available by pricing inexperienced young workers out of the market solves no problem for these worker.  The only clear beneficiaries would be those who acquire such arbitrary powers over their fellow human beings, and are thus able to feel both important and noble, while in fact leaving havoc in their wake."--Sowell

The New York Times ran a piece by Jack Turban, a research fellow at the Yale School of Medicine, recently that says that doctors should begin applying puberty blockers to children who identify as transgender as early as possible.

The earliest evidence of human tattooing is found on the mummified corpse of the 5,300-year-old Neolithic Iceman who was discovered in the Alps in 1991. The Iceman has a total of 61 tattoos—short lines etched in groups on his lower back and ankles, four lines on the torso above the gall bladder, a cross behind his right knee and two rings around his left wrist. Interestingly, approximately 80 percent of the Iceman’s tattoos overlap with classical acupuncture points used to treat rheumatism, a medical condition that plagued him. Other tattoos were found to be located on or near acupuncture meridians.

An often-cited British study from 2015  called “Sticks and Stones” reported that rude, dismissive and aggressive communication between doctors affected 31 percent of doctors several times a week or more. The researchers found that rudeness was more common from certain medical specialties: radiology, general surgery, neurosurgery and cardiology.

AAAAAnnnnnddddddd.....a picture:

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